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Religious sisters in Illinois recovering after car crash

Chaikom/Shutterstock.

Springfield, Ill., Jun 18, 2021 / 21:01 pm (CNA).

Three Catholic sisters are on the mend following a multi-car crash in Springfield, Illinois that prompted an outpouring of prayers and support from the local community. 

The sisters of the order of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George - Sr. M. Magdalene, FSGM, Sister M. Clementia, FSGM, and Sister M. Michael, FSGM - were in a car that was struck from behind June 9 by another driver. The sisters’ car was propelled into another car and “became an accordion,” said Sr. Clementia.

As of June 15, Sr. Clementia and Sr. Magdalene had both been released from the hospital to recover at their motherhouse. Sr. Michael underwent hip reconstruction surgery at St. Louis University Hospital and is still hospitalized. 

“In God’s mercy and with all our prayers, our Sisters are now on the recovery path,” said Mother M. Mediatrix, FSGM, provincial superior of the community, to The Catholic Post. 

“We continue to pray for their full and complete healing and for anyone else that may have suffered injury in this multi-car accident,” said Mother Mediatrix, FSGM.  “We give God our gratitude and love.” 

Sr. Clementia suffered a broken left leg, ribs, and vertebrae, and will have to wear a back brace for the next 12 weeks. She told The Catholic Post, the newspaper of the Diocese of Peoria, that she was lucky she wasn’t killed in the crash. 


“We shouldn’t be here,” she said to The Catholic Post. “So many miraculous things happened.”

Sr. Clementia said that she escaped more serious injury when her legs somehow were pushed to the top of the car’s dashboard. 

“Had they not, I would have been crushed under the car,” she explained. 

In an unusual coincidence, some of the first responders to the crash scene were a bishop, a priest, and a seminarian. They were a few cars behind the sisters when the crash occurred, and immediately ran to the sisters. 

Sr. Clementia could not recall the name of the bishop, but thinks he was from Texas. 

“I looked at the bishop and at first I’m thinking, ‘Is that a bishop?’” she said to The Catholic Post. The mystery bishop “went right to work on anointing us and praying over us. It was incredible.”

In response to the crash, the diocese responded with an outpouring of prayers, including two prayer vigils, to support the sisters in their recovery. 

“That’s gotten us all through it,” said Sr. Clementia. “It amazes me. It’s so beautiful.”

Sr. Clementia said that the prayers are strengthening her to “fight for my recovery, and it shows me there really is beauty in suffering, joy in suffering.”

“I never understood that until now,” she said.

Biden doesn't expect not to be admitted to Holy Communion

President Biden addresses the 2021 National Prayer Breakfast / National Prayer Breakfast

Washington D.C., Jun 18, 2021 / 20:15 pm (CNA).

On Friday, US President Joe Biden was asked about a "resolution" of the U.S. bishops to deny him and other pro-abortion politicians Communion – even though their vote this week was on drafting the teaching document, not any national policy of denying Communion.

“That’s a private matter and I don’t think that is going to happen,” Biden said.

Te U.S. bishops held their annual spring general assembly this week. The bishops debated drafting a document on the Eucharist, which would include a sub-section on “Eucharistic coherence,” or worthiness to receive Communion.

In a proposed outline of the document, the bishops’ doctrine committee cited the special need for Catholic public officials to uphold Church teaching in public life.

Biden, who is the second Catholic US president, has pushed for taxpayer-funded abortion while his administration seeks to deregulate medical abortions and to fund international pro-abortion groups.

On the 48th anniversary of the US Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris issued a statement supporting Roe and stating their intent to codify it in law.

Biden repealed the Mexico City Policy, an executive policy that bars U.S. funding of foreign NGOs that provide or promote abortions. 

In domestic abortion policy, Biden moved to allow for federal funding of elective abortions by introducing his budget request for the 2022 fiscal year without the Hyde amendment. That policy, enacted in law since 1976 as a rider to budget bills, prohibited federal funding of most elective abortions in Medicaid.

Gaudium et spes, Vatican II’s 1965 constitution on the Church in the modern world, said that “from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes.”

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a doctrinal note in 2002 on participation of Catholics in political life. The document stressed the need for Catholics to adhere to Church teaching, especially on grave issues such as abortion and euthanasia.

Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the CDF, cited the note in his letter to the U.S. bishops in May on the matter of Communion for Catholic public officials who support permissive legislation on grave evils.

In October 2019, while campaigning for president, Joe Biden was denied Communion at a parish in the Diocese of Charleston. A Charleston diocesan policy, which is also that of the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Diocese of Charlotte, states that “Catholic public officials who consistently support abortion on demand are cooperating with evil in a public manner. By supporting pro-abortion legislation they participate in manifest grave sin, a condition which excludes them from admission to Holy Communion as long as they persist in the pro-abortion stance.”

$50 million anonymous gift supports students at Los Angeles Catholic schools

Catholic school students. / cheapbooks/Shutterstock

Los Angeles, Calif., Jun 18, 2021 / 19:01 pm (CNA).

An anonymous donor has given more than $50 million to the Catholic Education Foundation of Los Angeles for financial support for students at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Catholic elementary and high schools.

 

“The kindness and love reflected in this gift are beyond words,” Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles said June 16. “This gift will change the lives of countless young men and women, for generations to come, opening up opportunities for the future they could never have dreamed of. On behalf of all these young people, their families, and the whole family of God, we thank God for this benefactor and this beautiful expression of love for the Church.”

 

The gift will be allocated over a five-year period for students at the 212 Archdiocese of Los Angeles Catholic schools in Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara counties, the Catholic Education Foundation of Los Angeles said in a statement.

 

Douglas Cooper, executive director of the Catholic Education Foundation, voiced “tremendous gratitude and appreciation” for the “transformative gift.” The tuition awards will help new enrollees but also students who left “but now will be able to return.”

 

“There is no greater gift than a Catholic education which teaches values of faith, family and service,” Cooper added. “We are beyond grateful to this anonymous donor for their kindness, leadership and generosity, and we look forward to welcoming these students and families into our family of Catholic schools.”

 

The foundation encouraged local families interested in information about Catholic schools and financial assistance to contact the Catholic schools office or visit its website.

 

“A gift of this magnitude will change the lives of thousands of students, particularly our most needy,” said Paul Escala, senior director and superintendent of schools for the archdiocese. “We are deeply grateful for the confidence and faith this gift reflects in our teachers, leaders and families.”

 

“This is a remarkable opportunity to welcome new and legacy families to our Catholic schools,” he said.

 

About 78% of students in archdiocesan Catholic schools come from an under-represented minority background and half of these schools are in inner city or urban areas.

The education foundation aims to provide tuition aid to “the most financially deserving students” at Catholic elementary and high schools in the Los Angeles archdiocese. In 2021 the foundation gave over $12 million in tuition assistance to more than 10,000 students. Over the last 34 years, it has given $225 million in aid to 202,000 students.

 

Catholic schools “rely on contributions and other support to maintain education that is affordable and accessible for all families,” the education foundation said, claiming that Catholic schools in California save the state more than $2 billion in educational funding each year.

 

All of the archdiocese’s schools will resume in-person learning when the school year begins in August.

 

The education foundation said students never stopped learning during the pandemic due to an immediate transition to distance learning. Some 96% of elementary and high schools reported regular attendance.

 

There are some 51,000 students at parish and diocesan elementary schools in the archdiocese, and about 14,000 high school students at parish and diocesan schools, according to the archdiocese’s website.

 

The U.S. is home to about 6,000 Catholic schools, down from some 11,000 in the 1970s. About 1,000 have closed since 2007. At least 100 Catholic elementary and high schools across the United States did not reopen for the fall semester last year, with many suffering from low enrollment and decreased donations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

In April, the Los Angeles archdiocese announced the closure of six elementary schools and their consolidation with other schools. The schools had faced financial challenges long before the pandemic, officials said.

 

The archdiocese’s Catholic schools website said their schools “staved off catastrophic enrollment decline” during the pandemic. Though a 20% decline was forecast, elementary schools showed a 13% enrollment decline, and high schools a 6% decline.

 

The schools served over 2 million meals to high-need students and families at 40 schools through the National School Lunch Program. It helped supply personal protective equipment to all its schools and re-opened 100 schools with modified in-person instruction.

Sister Dale McDonald, public policy director of the National Catholic Educational Association, told CNA in June 2020 that about 80% of most Catholic schools’ operating budgets is based on tuition. Many Catholic schools hold major fundraisers in the spring, and many of these have had to be canceled, postponed, or significantly altered due to the pandemic.

'Eucharistic Revival' to begin in 2022: 'We want to start a fire, not a program'

Thoom/Shutterstock

Denver Newsroom, Jun 18, 2021 / 17:39 pm (CNA).

The bishops of the United States discussed on Friday a program of “Eucharistic Revival” which will aim to foster deeper devotion and knowledge about the Eucharist nationwide beginning next summer. 

Bishop Andrew Cozzens, an auxiliary bishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis and chair of the bishops’ evangelization committee, presented the plan to his fellow bishops during their virtual spring meeting June 18. He told CNA that the program aims to support and “start a fire” of devotion to the Eucharist with a particular focus on the local level— dioceses, parishes, and families. 

Cozzens said the initiative will aim to launch a “three year period of revival” nationwide, with a special focus on the local level, bringing the focus of Eucharistic revival to “any parish that desires it.”

Cozzens said the idea of a nationwide Eucharistic revival has been met with “incredible enthusiasm” already. He noted that many Catholic donors, media organizations, and volunteers across the country have pledged support. 

"One of the signs that the Holy Spirit is behind this is the incredible reception that so many different apostolates and movements have given to this idea," Cozzens told CNA. 

"Everybody wants to help, which is a sign to me that the Holy Spirit's really doing something."

The development of the plan was spurred by a 2019 Pew Research study, the results of which suggested that only about one-third of U.S. Catholics believe the Church’s teaching that the Eucharist is truly the body and blood of Christ. 

The pandemic delayed the plan, Cozzens said, but also made it “even more important” given the pandemic’s as-yet unknown long term impact on Mass attendance. 

The three-year Eucharistic Revival program will include three tiers: parish, diocesan, and nationwide. 

Beginning in July 2022, dioceses across the country will be encouraged to hold Eucharistic events and make the Eucharist a primary focus. The bishops aim to provide free teaching materials on the Eucharist, developed with the help of various catechetical partners, as soon as possible to assist dioceses in this, Cozzens said. 

Following that, in July 2023, parishes will be encouraged to do the same. Cozzens said they want to encourage “grassroots creativity” and embrace diverse Eucharistic traditions to help parishes foster a greater love for the Eucharist among their members. Parish level initiatives could include offering teaching Masses and small group formation. 

Throughout the presentation, Cozzens repeatedly emphasized the importance of spreading the practice of Eucharistic adoration, especially since he has seen the positive impact that adoration continues to have on young people. 

"There's a strong sense among those who work with young people that that encounter [with Jesus] happens profoundly through Eucharistic adoration," Cozzens said. 

“We want to encourage every parish to think about increasing Eucharistic adoration as part of the life of this revival,” he said. 

The revival would culminate in summer 2024 with a Eucharistic celebration event, held in a major city, that would serve as a pilgrimage site. Cozzens said they are eyeing the Midwest as a location because of its accessibility, as well as some cities in the South; final approval for such an event would come from the body of U.S. bishops in November.

Calling the plan a “once in a generation” opportunity to impact faith life, Cozzens said the plan aims to create “Eucharistic missionaries”— people who go out to spread devotion to the Eucharist to new places, what Pope Francis calls “the margins.”

Cozzens said the bishops plan to reach out to all of the country’s Catholic universities to invite them to participate. He said he suspects some colleges will decline, but he hopes many will take them up on the offer. 

"I want to have Eucharistic processions on every campus. And we have campus ministries that are ready to do that across the nation," he said. 

Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary of Los Angeles, asked Bishop Cozzens during the meeting whether he thought the timeline for the project could be sped up, in order to start the revival as soon as possible. 

Cozzens responded by noting that many dioceses, such as Atlanta and St. Augustine, are starting “Eucharistic revivals already, and they should continue to do so as soon as they would like to. The bishops’ plan is designed to support, not replace, efforts at Eucharistic revival at the local level”, he said. 

The plan for a Eucharistic Revival comes soon after the U.S. bishops on Thursday debated drafting a teaching document on the Eucharist, which would include a subsection on “Eucharistic coherence,” or worthiness to receive Communion.

In a proposed outline of the document, the bishops’ doctrine committee cited the special need for Catholic public officials to uphold Church teaching in public life, but stressed that they are not drafting any national policy of denying Communion.

Bishop announces launch of new catechetical institute 

Bishop Frank Caggiano / File Photo/CNA

Washington D.C., Jun 18, 2021 / 17:01 pm (CNA).

In a presentation to fellow U.S. bishops on Friday, Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport unveiled a proposal for a new institute on the Catechism. 

Bishop Caggiano said the institute would not be a physical building or a single event, but would be a “comprehensive initiative” to address recent challenges to the faith in the United States. He is chairman of the U.S. bishops’ subcommittee on the Catechism, which is sponsoring the initiative.

On Friday, the bishop cited a growing disaffiliation with the faith among youth, a need for catechesis to be “informational and formational,” the necessity of using technology to preach the Gospel, and a rise in the need for Catholic apologetics. All of these are reasons behind the institute’s creation, he said.

He also pointed out the need for “inculturated Hispanic catechesis.”

“It is important for us to recognize that as the growing number of Hispanic Catholics in our dioceses continues to increase, there is a profound need for us to have an inculturated catechesis that could not be addressed by our current review process,” he said. 

Bishop Caggiano addressed the U.S. bishops at their virtual general assembly held this week. The bishops debated and voted on several action items at their meeting, including the launch of a three-year Eucharistic Revival initiative, pastoral statements and frameworks on marriage, youth and young adult ministry, and on Native American ministry, a teaching document on the Eucharist, and approval of causes of canonization.

In his address on Friday, Caggiano explained the conference’s responsibility to start a national catechetical office to review the state of catechesis in the United States. The conference was charged with attending to the relationship between editors, authors and bishops to ensure faithfulness and authenticity of catechetical programs, he said. . 

Bishop Caggiano said the institute would seek to accompany publishers in the development of materials faithful to the Catechism. He also proposed a definition of “evangelizing catechesis.”

“Evangelizing catechesis” seeks to “deepen a personal encounter with Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit,” he said.

Caggiano said that “evangelizing catechesis” would involve proclaiming the Gospel, accompanying people in conversion to Christ, and sending out missionary disciples who promote a vision of life, humanity, justice, and human fraternity. 

Diocesan and Catholic publishing house staff will be invited to “annual formational experiences” of the institute, he said. Caggiano envisioned an environment that is “prayerful, studious and communal to both inform and form” those attending.

The virtual launch of the initiative is scheduled for December 2021. Caggiano said his plan was to establish the first in-person gathering - for every bishop and his diocesan staff - in Baltimore in November 2022. 

The institute will serve its “key stakeholders” of bishops on the education, doctrine, and family life committees, as well as the bishops of the 21 dioceses with catechetical publishing houses, he said. 

Continue pressing for immigration reform, US bishops told

Bishop Mario Dorsonville.

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 18, 2021 / 16:29 pm (CNA).

The Church must continue to push for immigration reform and to address the root causes that make people migrate to the United States, the head of the US bishops’ migration committee said Friday.

Bishop Mario Dorsonville, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington, was presenting at the Virtual Assembly of the USCCB, in the final presentation of the June 18 public session. 

“The present administration has identified immigration reform as a priority, and we hope he fulfills that commitment through bipartisan Congressional engagement,” he said. 

Bishop Dorsonville noted that several bills have been passed since March, but that there was more work to be done. 

“As a Church we recognize the inherent God-given dignity of every human person, regardless of immigration status, therefore we will continue to call for comprehensive immigration reform, consistent with the common good that preserves family unity, honors due process, respects the rule of law, recognizes the contribution of foreign-born workers, defends the vulnerable, and addresses the root causes of migration,” he said. 

Bishop Dorsonville identified the root causes of migration as violence, corruption, a lack of opportunity, and climate change, among many other things. 

“After this pandemic, today, more than ever, the Church becomes a Church of mercy,” said Bishop Dorsonville. “Let us see how we are continue to move from indifference to solidarity, guided by the words of our Holy Father Pope Francis in Fratelli tutti, where he exhorts us to be brothers and sisters, who bring a sense of love, faith, and hope, especially the presence of Jesus Christ, in the lives of those who most need it.” 

He said that working alongside other organizations, including Catholic Charities and other nonprofits, would be able to make a “real immediate impact” in the United States. 

“As we welcome the immigrants, we become a country with borders that have to be open,” he said. But merely opening borders, he said, would not fix the problem, and he urged the United States to “become an example for others to follow.”



“The government, the civil society, the Church in developed countries have a major role to play in this process,” he said. 

“I know many of us have had the opportunity to see the suffering face of Jesus Christ in the life of the immigrants,” he said, noting that many of his brother bishops have visited detention centers and celebrated Masses for the detained immigrant population.

“We know that with the drama and the process they have to endure, and the heavy loads they have to carry out,” he said.

The Washington auxiliary bishop called for the other bishops to work harder to change immigration laws and policies. 

“With this, I exhort you to continue to call the people who have the power in your churches to change the law,” said Bishop Dorsonville. “To pray for them, and especially, to be available to them.” 

“I really think that this is a Christian initiative, where we have to continue to be open to respond to the human drama that is in front of each of us.”

Pro-abortion Catholic Democrats: Don’t deny us the Eucharist

Nicole Glass Photography/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jun 18, 2021 / 15:30 pm (CNA).

Dozens of Catholic members of Congress issued a statement on Friday claiming that denial of Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians is a “weaponization of the Eucharist.”

In a “statement of principles,” 60 House Democrats – led by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) – claimed their Catholic faith influences their actions in Congress, and that denial of Communion for their support of legal abortion would be “contradictory.”

“We solemnly urge you to not move forward and deny this most holy of all sacraments, the source and the summit of the whole work of the gospel over one issue,” they stated, addressing the “Church” in their statement.

“The Sacrament of Holy Communion is central to the life of practicing Catholics, and the weaponization of the Eucharist to Democratic lawmakers for their support of a woman’s safe and legal access to abortion is contradictory,” the lawmakers stated.

Rep. DeLauro, who led the letter, has supported taxpayer-funded of abortion through repealing the Hyde amendment. She chairs the House Appropriations Committee.

Among the other signers of the letter were Rep. Marie Newman (D-Ill.) – a pro-abortion member who unseated pro-life Democrat Dan Lipinski in a primary last year – as well as Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), recognized as a member who sometimes votes for pro-life policies but who was not endorsed by Democrats for Life of America in 2020.

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), who helped lead efforts in Congress to recognize the genocide against Iraqi Christians in 2016, signed the statement, as well as Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.), who hosted Bishop Robert Barron for a meeting with lawmakers at the Capitol in 2019.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), who signed the statement, tweeted at the U.S. bishops on Friday that he supported contraception, abortion, “treatments for infertility,” “the right for people to get a divorce,” and “the right of same sex marriage.”

“Next time I go to Church, I dare you to deny me Communion,” he stated.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who is Catholic and pro-abortion, did not sign the statement. Her local ordinary, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, publicly rebuked her support for abortion in January.

Archbishop Cordileone, in a May 1 pastoral letter on the Eucharist, called on Catholic public officials to oppose abortion.

“You are in a position to do something concrete and decisive to stop the killing,” he said. “Please stop the killing. And please stop pretending that advocating for or practicing a grave moral evil – one that snuffs out an innocent human life, one that denies a fundamental human right – is somehow compatible with the Catholic faith. It is not. Please return home to the fullness of your Catholic faith.”

On Friday, Archbishop Cordileone stated, “Our God-given responsibility as bishops is to proclaim the truth as did St. Paul: the Eucharist is the real Body and Blood of Christ. We must confess our serious sins and seek reconciliation in the sacrament before presenting ourselves for Holy Communion.”

“I would exhort us all to remember the Eucharistic martyrs who died to protect the Most Blessed Sacrament from profanation,” he added.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 2271 states, “From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person.”

“Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense,” the catechism states.

Then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in his 2004 letter to then-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, referred to a politician’s consistent “campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws” as “formal cooperation” in the “grave sin” of abortion

The 60 members pointed to other “policies contrary to the Church teachings,” including support for the death penalty, separation of immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border, denial of asylum, and reducing food assistance to the poor.

“No elected officials have been threatened with being denied the Eucharist” for supporting these policies, they stated.

“We believe the separation of church and state allows for our faith to inform our public duties and best serve our constituents,” they said.

The members issued their statement as the U.S. bishops met virtually this week for their annual spring general assembly. At their meeting, the bishops debated drafting a document on the Eucharist, which would include a sub-section on “Eucharistic coherence,” or worthiness to receive Communion.

In a proposed outline of the document, the bishops’ doctrine committee cited the special need for Catholic public officials to uphold Church teaching in public life.

On Friday, President Joe Biden was asked about a "resolution" of the U.S. bishops to deny him and other pro-abortion politicians Communion – even though their vote this week was on drafting the teaching document, not any national policy of denying Communion.

“That’s a private matter and I don’t think that is going to happen,” Biden said.

Individual bishops have made statements recently that, according to canon law, Catholic public officials cannot present themselves for Communion when they publicly support permissive laws on grave evils such as abortion and euthanasia.

According to a 2004 instruction by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, pastors and bishops must speak to such public officials in their jurisdictions, informing them that their positions are contrary to Church teaching and instructing them that they are not to receive Communion.

If the officials persist in their positions, then the minister of Communion must not distribute it to them, he said. Cardinal Ratzinger’s memo was an implementation of canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law.

The members, in Friday’s statement, stated that their faith informs their actions, through “helping the poor, disadvantaged, and the oppressed, protecting the least among us, and ensuring that all Americans of every faith are given meaningful opportunities to share in the blessings of this great country.”

“We believe the Church as a community is called to be in the vanguard of creating a more just America and world. And as such, we have a claim on the Church's bearing as it does on ours,” they stated.

Citing the Second Vatican Council’s “renewed emphasis on the Eucharist,” they stated, “To pursue a blanket denial of the Holy Eucharist to certain elected officials would indeed grieve the Holy Spirit and deny the evolution of that individual, a Christian person who is never perfect, but living in the struggle to get there.”

The Vatican council’s constitution on the Church in the modern world, Gaudium et spes, states, “Therefore from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes.”

The constitution on sacred liturgy also states that Catholics “should cooperate with divine grace lest they receive it [the Eucharist] in vain.”

Gaudium et spes also states, “To the extent that they [believers] neglect their own training in the faith, or teach erroneous doctrine, or are deficient in their religious, moral or social life, they must be said to conceal rather than reveal the authentic face of God and religion."

On the life issue, the members stated their support for promoting “alternatives to abortion.”

“Each of us is committed to reducing the number of unintended pregnancies and creating an environment with policies that encourage pregnancies to be carried to term and provide resources to raise healthy and secure children,” they stated.

“We believe this includes promoting alternatives to abortion, such as adoption, improving access to children's healthcare and child care, and creating a child benefit through the expanded and improved Child Tax Credit.”

This article was updated on June 18 with new information.

Speaker Pelosi won’t answer if unborn child is a human being at 15 weeks

Michael Candalori/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jun 18, 2021 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday would not say if an unborn child at 15 weeks was a human being.

At a press conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday, a reporter from CNSNews asked Pelosi about a case currently before the Supreme Court – Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization – regarding Mississippi’s ban on most abortions after 15-weeks. The exchange was broadcast by CBS News.

“Is an unborn baby at 15 weeks a human being?” the reporter asked Pelosi. The Speaker answered that she supported Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

“Let me just say that I am a big supporter of Roe v. Wade. I am a mother of five children in six years. I think I have some standing on this issue, as to respecting a woman’s right to choose,” Pelosi answered.

Pelosi, a Catholic, has supported legal abortion during her time in Congress, and has pushed for taxpayer funding of abortion through removing the Hyde amendment.

In a Jan. 18 podcast with former senator and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Pelosi said that the support for President Trump by pro-life voters “gives me great grief as a Catholic.” She said that those who voted for Trump because of the abortion issue “were willing to sell the whole democracy down the river for that one issue.”

She added that those who “reject terminating a pregnancy” should “love contraception.”

Her local ordinary, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, responded in a statement several days later, “No Catholic in good conscience can favor abortion.” Archbishop Cordileone said that “Nancy Pelosi does not speak for the Catholic Church.”

In a 2008 interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press”, Pelosi said that regarding the question of when life begins, “over the centuries, the Doctors of the church have not been able to make that definition.” She said that her Catholic faith “shouldn’t have an impact on a woman’s right to choose.” 

“And on the question of the equal dignity of human life in the womb, she [Pelosi] also speaks in direct contradiction to a fundamental human right that Catholic teaching has consistently championed for 2,000 years,” he said.

In May, Cordileone expressed hope that “progress can be made” in talks with Pelosi on her support for legal abortion and worthiness to receive Holy Communion.  

Supreme Court oral arguments in the Dobbs case are scheduled for this fall.

In 2013, in response to a question about a 20-week abortion ban, Pelosi said the bill was part of an effort to ensure that “there will be no abortion in our country.” She described the issue as “sacred ground” to her.

“As a practicing and respectful Catholic, this is sacred ground to me when we talk about this,” she said.

In 2019, she said the passage of pro-life laws in several states was “about lack of respect for women.”

US parishes must better serve hidden migrant communities, bishops hear

Aug. 17, 2017 - A volunteer at the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas helps a Central American refugee family / Vic Hinterlang/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jun 18, 2021 / 13:10 pm (CNA).

Many parishes in the United States are unaware of the immigrant, refugee, and itinerant communities within their boundaries, the chair of the U.S. bishops’ subcommittee on pastoral care for migrants said on Friday.

In a presentation to the U.S. bishops at their annual spring meeting – held virtually this year –Bishop Joseph Tyson of Yakima introduced a new report by the Center of Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) on migrant communities in the United States, and the Church’s awareness of them at the parish level. The bishops’ conference contracted with CARA to produce the report.

Regarding migrant populations – which include immigrants and refugees, but also seasonal and transportation workers and human trafficking victims – “there is a widespread lack of awareness of the presence of the communities by Catholic worship sites, including parishes, missions, cathedrals, basilicas, chapels, shrines, and other pastoral centers,” said Bishop Tyson.

“Where worship sites do report an awareness of these communities, a majority do not provide specialized pastoral care to migrants, refugees, and itinerant communities,” Bishop Tyson,chair of the bishops’ subcommittee on pastoral care for migrants, refugees, and travelers, said on Friday.

The U.S. bishops met virtually this week for their annual spring general assembly. From Wednesday through Friday afternoon’s session, the bishops held public debates and votes as well as private meetings, discussing issues such as a planned three-year Eucharistic Revival initiative, two causes of canonization, translations of liturgical texts, pastoral statements, and a teaching document on the Eucharist.

The CARA report presented to the bishops on Friday was compiled through an inventory sent to nearly 20,000 “worship sites” in the United States, and which remained “in the field” from June 2017 to November 2020. Of these sites, 2,391 of them – parishes, basilicas, cathedrals, shrines, and chapels – responded for the survey.

Territorial parishes are “not necessarily stable” models now, Bishop Tyson said, noting that many Catholics are quickly transitioning in and out of parish boundaries.

According to a General Social Survey, four-in-10 of foreign-born persons residing in the United States in recent years self-identified as Catholic, Bishop Tyson said.

Prior to the pandemic, CARA studied residential mobility between dioceses, he said, and  the archdioceses of Miami, Galveston-Houston, and Los Angeles saw the majority of new residents coming from other countries.

“We hope the data collection will increase the visibility of the communities and provide the initiative to reach out to them, and develop new programming and resources to serve their needs and draw them closer to Christ and the Church,” Bishop Tyson said.

Among these communities are human trafficking victims, he said, stressing the need for parishes to provide specialized outreach to this vulnerable population.

“How can the Church assist the victims of human trafficking, who may not have anyone else to turn to in the new community that they’ve been taken to against their will?” he said.

Parishes in the South were slightly over-represented than those in other regions among respondents in the CARA report. This might reflect a greater number of migrant communities in the South and West, Fr. Thomas Gaunt, SJ, executive director of CARA, noted.

For sites that did not respond, “Many worship sites had no awareness of the presence of any of these communities in their territory, and so did not have anything to report,” Fr. Gaunt stated on Friday.

Of the parishes that responded, around 22% indicated they provide at least one Spanish Mass each weekend, and around 8% of them have a Mass in a language other than Spanish or English.

Of the respondents, 554 of the sites reporting serving an immigrant community, Fr. Gaunt said,

Of immigrant communities from various world regions, parishes were most aware of immigrants from Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala – out of Latin American and Caribbean countries. They were most aware of Nigerian immigrant communities from Africa, and in Asian and Pacific communities, they were most aware of immigrants from the Philippines, Vietnam, and India.

Some communities have high rates of Catholics; 65% of Filipino Americans self-identify as Catholic, Fr. Gaunt reported.

Certain communities are more likely to be clustered in certain regions. The largest communities of Nigerian-born people are located in the archdioceses of Galveston-Houston, Washington, Atlanta, Baltimore, and Dallas. The largest communities of Filipino-born people are in the Pacific West, in Los Angeles, Honolulu, San Diego, Oakland, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Sacramento, and San Bernardino.

More than 270 responding parishes reported undocumented immigrant communities in their boundaries, while 256 parishes reported annual tourist and pilgrim populations. Nearly 220 parishes reported migrant farmworker communities. Other communities reported included refugees, family members of migrants in U.S. immigrant detention facilities, truck drivers, circus performers, unaccompanied child migrants, and airport communities.

Parishes in the Pacific and Mountain West – in California areas of Fresno, Los Angeles, Monterey, Yakima, and Sacramento, as well as Portland, Oregon, and Boise, Idaho – reported the largest foreign-born agricultural worker populations.

Bishops plan response to Native American Catholics who 'want their voice heard'

Bishop James Wall of Gallup greets parishioners following Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral. Photo courtesy of the Diocese of Gallup.

Denver Newsroom, Jun 18, 2021 / 13:10 pm (CNA).

Native American ministry was an action item for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Thursday, as the relevant subcommittee sought approval for a new statement and a “comprehensive vision” for indigenous Catholics and those who serve them.

“There is at present no guide for the Catholic Church in the U.S. in approaching, understanding and promoting Catholic Native ministry,” said Bishop James Wall of Gallup, head of the Subcommittee on Native American Affairs under the U.S. bishops’ Standing Committee for Cultural Diversity.

In his June 17 remarks to the bishops’ spring assembly and in an interview with CNA, Wall outlined a plan for better enculturation of the Catholic faith, recognition of Native American ministry and spirituality, and the needs of Native American communities. He especially noted the need to address lingering issues of justice and reconciliation regarding historical matters like Catholic boarding schools that were part of the effort to assimilate and Americanize Native American children, often through coercion.

Native American Catholics have not had a new statement from the U.S. bishops in over four decades.

Subcommittee listening sessions with Native American Catholics drove home the point that “they wanted to make sure that their voice was being heard within the Church here in the U.S.,” Wall said. There was concern about a “perceived lack of interest” in Catholic Native American ministry by the Catholic Church. The statement would reassure Native Americans that their ministry has “a high priority” in the Church.

As subcommittee chairman, Wall proposed the formal question to the bishops: “Do the members authorize the development of a new formal statement and comprehensive vision for Native American and Alaska Native ministry?” 

The measure passed easily, with bishops voting 223 in favor, six voting against, and zero abstentions.

“The last time we had a pastoral plan was 1977. That was a long time ago and a lot has happened since,” Wall said. Many aspects of Native American ministry ministry have changed in the last 44 years: approaches to racism; canonization of the first indigenous North American saint, St. Kateri Tekakwitha of the Mohawk people; and new approaches to social justice in Native American communities. Pope Francis’ remarks “have made indigenous peoples a priority in the universal Church,” Wall added.

For their part, Native American Catholics have seen a need for coordination between Native Catholic organizations, dioceses, parishes, schools, and missions. A pastoral plan is “a most important step” in this coordination, said Wall.

The bishops who spoke in response welcomed the proposal.

“Natives can be present, yet unseen and unheard,” lamented Bishop Michael Warfel of Great Falls-Billings, who previously served in Alaska.

“The opportunities to deeply listen to Native Americans and see how we could be of assistance would be a wonderful thing, and writing this document could help this,” said Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay, a former Bishop of Cheyenne. He said he had seen “tremendous, tremendous needs” among Native Americans and their communities, including “a lot of need for healing." 

Ricken suggested the subcommittee speak about the importance of Catholic spirituality “intersecting with Native American spiritualities to help them see the similarities and the differences.” St. Kateri Tekakwitha, he said, could help advance understanding given “the two worlds she lived in.”

Some bishops emphasized the need to consider the majority of Native Americans who live in urban centers, not reservations.

“There’s great poverty in urban centers. I certainly experienced that here in the Twin Cities,” said Archbishop Bernard Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Wall said the subcommittee was taking the urban presence of Native Americans into account. The subcommittee is also looking at the needs of immigrant indigenous people with roots in Central and South America.

Bishop Steven Biegler of Cheyenne said there was a need for “greater understanding” of the history between Native and non-native peoples to help improve relations. Bishop Douglas Lucia of Syracuse asked whether the subcommittee might address the Doctrine of Discovery, the 500-year-old principle by which Christian explorers, European monarchs, and their colonies asserted the right to claim the lands of non-Christian natives.

Auxiliary Bishop Edward Clark of Los Angeles cited his two decades of involvement with the local Native American community, whose presence in Los Angeles is among the largest in the country. Clark said he has heard “deep suffering and pain over and over” from some Native Americans and noted the “suspicion” that many have towards the Church. California’s bishops have made “an outreach and a promise” to Native communities both on and off the reservation.

Wall said that the subcommittee’s listening sessions showed the need for the bishops to address the boarding school period of American history, which involved tens of thousands of indigenous children and their families

Boarding schools were run by the U.S. government, the Catholic Church, or Protestant ecclesial communities and bound up in the ideologies and assumptions of late 19th-century America. Children were sometimes forcibly removed from their homes to go to the schools. The schools generally assumed white racial superiority, the inferiority of indigenous cultures, and the need to assimilate and Americanize children in isolation from their families. They were physically punished for speaking their native languages. Native dress and cultural practices were also targeted for elimination.

Some schools had significant problems of neglect or physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. A lack of trained staff and adequate resources to care for the children compounded the dangers of common threats at the time like outbreaks of deadly diseases.

Wall’s comments came only weeks after the rediscovery of unmarked and likely undocumented mass graves of 215 children on the grounds of the closed Catholic-run Kamloops Indian Residential School in the Canadian province of British Columbia. The school, which closed in 1978, had hundreds of students each year. It opened in 1890 under lay Catholics, then operated by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate from 1893 to 1969, followed by a short period of government operation.

The Canadian residential schools, whose mission was similar to American boarding schools, came under major scrutiny in recent decades and have prompted apologies from many Canadian government and Catholic leaders. Prior to the discovery at Kamloops, a commission had estimated 4,100 to 6,000 students died as a result of neglect or abuse in the Canadian schools. Though established by the Canadian government, two-thirds of them were run by the Catholic Church or individual Catholic religious orders.

Bishop Wall told CNA the Kamloops revelations were “really sad and tragic news.” Wall said the bishops “need to be able to address that in a pastoral way so that we can bring things into the light and we can talk about it. We can bring healing, we can bring reconciliation, we can move forward in a healthy way.”

In response to Wall’s presentation, Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix said the current work of Catholic schools deserves to be acknowledged.

“We not only need to look at the residential schools in the past, but also the Catholic schools we have now that are serving the Native American people. We are blessed in the Diocese of Phoenix to have the St. Peter’s Indian Mission School, which does a really great job.”

“We should not forget that COVID had a really terrible impact on Native American peoples certainly here in Arizona. The health and the well-being of our native brothers and sisters is really important,” he said, adding that the bishops should seek to foster religious vocations among young Native Americans who are “a great source of leadership.”

Wall told the bishops’ assembly there is a need to address “a true sense of inculturation” for the Church in Native American communities, including through the Christian liturgy.

“Within the Native American communities, how is it that we are allowing the light of the Gospel to truly shine, like light through a prism?” he said to CNA. “How much are we letting that light shine through the beautiful culture of Native American peoples?”

Centuries ago, at the same time the Protestant Reformation drew millions of Europeans away from the Catholic Church, Wall noted, “Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to an indigenous person, St. Juan Diego.”

 “The evangelization of the ‘New World’ first came through an indigenous person,” he added. “They’ve always been a very integral part of the Church, just as any baptized person.”

In Wall’s view, Archbishop emeritus of Philadelphia Charles Chaput was a “trailblazer” in this ministry. The part-Potawatomi churchman, the first Native American U.S. archbishop, has “always been a strong voice for the Native American Catholics in the U.S.”

While Wall was hard pressed to name younger Native American Catholic leaders, he said some Native Americans are notably serving as deacons. He acknowledged the need for more vocations and lay involvement.

He praised the work of Maka Black Elk, a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation, who heads the reconciliation process at Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, S.D.

The proposal put to the bishops on Thursday had its origins in a meeting with Catholic Native American leaders in 2019, Wall told CNA. The bishops of the subcommittee were joined by bishops whose dioceses have a large Native American population for a “listening session” with Native American individuals and groups involved in Native American ministry. Also in attendance were subcommittee advisor Father Henry Sands of the Black and Indian Catholic Mission Office and some leaders of the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic fraternal organization which now has a Native American initiative.

About 20% of Native Americans are Catholic and make up about 3.5% of all U.S. Catholics, according to the Native American Affairs subcommittee section on the U.S. bishops’ website. Over 340 parishes serve predominantly Native American congregations. As of 2008, about 2.9 million Americans identified as Native Americans or Alaskan Natives. Another 1.6 million people claim some kind of Native American ancestry, about 780,000 of whom are Catholic.