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Near immigration's ground zero, bishops begin border trip with Mass

Top Stories - Sun, 07/01/2018 - 5:15pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Chaz Muth

By Rhina Guidos

MCALLEN, Texas (CNS) -- The bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States have for weeks expressed outrage and condemned the government's recent practice of separating children from a parent or a family member if they're caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border without legal documentation.

On July 1, led by the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, a delegation of prelates from around the country physically stepped into the ground zero of the immigration debate when they arrived in the Brownsville-McAllen area near the southern border to meet with those affected by the policy.

"This is a sign that the bishops of the United States are concerned about the situation and the circumstances affecting people, not just those who live in Brownsville but all along the border," said the local bishop, Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville during a July 1 interview with Catholic News Service. "This is a moment to completely understand the reality of the situation, to meet, speak with people who are living this reality. It's a message for the church."

Bishop Flores welcomed the delegation led by the president of the USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, during a morning Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen.

Auxiliary Bishop Robert J. Brennan of Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, and Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, Pennsylvania, also were present during the Mass. Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, who is vice president of the USCCB, is expected to join the delegation.

Referring to the Sunday Gospel readings from the Book of Mark, in which Jesus heals the daughter of the Biblical Jairus, Bishop Flores, who delivered the homily, said that what the bishops were doing near the border was similar. Jesus was attentive to the woman who touched him and wanted to be healed. Jesus was capable of stopping for a moment and listening to her and tending to her so he could heal her. The story provides the people of God an example of what God wants, he said.

"He is an example for us because of his capacity to tend to this person in his presence and allowing that woman to change his path," Bishop Flores said. "What kind of people does the Lord want? He wants a people capable of looking at the reality in front of them and adapting to that reality. He didn't say, 'I don't have time for you today.' He didn't say, 'You're not in the plan, you're not in the calendar.'"

To be compassionate, one has to have his or her eyes open just as Jesus shows us in the Gospel, he said, and the bishops were visiting the border to listen and to see the reality in that area in a similar manner.

"The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us," he said, switching between English and Spanish. "That's what the Lord taught us: to listen and then respond to the plan, the Christian plan, and to give hope to the poorest and neediest, to tell them that the Christian people have not forgotten them."

Christ's example, he said, was to respect the dignity of each person, "each one, and to hear their cry to tend to them. That is the purpose of the church."

"We as a church have to hear where the reality is, we have to be the ones to say, 'There's a human face and that human face always points us to Christ.' If we don't say it, who will?" Bishop Flores asked.

He said he was glad the bishops would be able to witness the generosity of the people of the Rio Grande Valley, who with few resources always respond generously to those who have needed them over the years.

"Let's ask the Lord to allow us to see with open eyes to respond with compassionate hearts," he said. "We can be a country of laws without being a nation that lacks compassion."

The start of the two-day visit began a day after mass protests around the U.S. demanded a stop to the separation of families. The prelates' visit will be focused on family separation and they plan to visit a center for migrants run by Catholic Charities and also to meet with authorities near the border.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Near immigration's ground zero, bishops begin border trip with Mass

Top Stories - Sun, 07/01/2018 - 5:15pm

By Rhina Guidos

MCALLEN, Texas (CNS) -- The bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States have for weeks expressed outrage and condemned the government's recent practice of separating children from a parent or a family member if they're caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border without legal documentation.

On July 1, led by the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, a delegation of prelates from around the country physically stepped into the ground zero of the immigration debate when they arrived in the Brownsville-McAllen area near the southern border to meet with those affected by the policy.

"This is a sign that the bishops of the United States are concerned about the situation and the circumstances affecting people, not just those who live in Brownsville but all along the border," said the local bishop, Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville during a July 1 interview with Catholic News Service. "This is a moment to completely understand the reality of the situation, to meet, speak with people who are living this reality. It's a message for the church."

Bishop Flores welcomed the delegation led by the president of the USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, during a morning Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen.

Auxiliary Bishop Robert J. Brennan of Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, and Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, Pennsylvania, also were present during the Mass. Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, who is vice president of the USCCB, is expected to join the delegation.

Referring to the Sunday Gospel readings from the Book of Mark, in which Jesus heals the daughter of the Biblical Jairus, Bishop Flores, who delivered the homily, said that what the bishops were doing near the border was similar. Jesus was attentive to the woman who touched him and wanted to be healed. Jesus was capable of stopping for a moment and listening to her and tending to her so he could heal her. The story provides the people of God an example of what God wants, he said.

"He is an example for us because of his capacity to tend to this person in his presence and allowing that woman to change his path," Bishop Flores said. "What kind of people does the Lord want? He wants a people capable of looking at the reality in front of them and adapting to that reality. He didn't say, 'I don't have time for you today.' He didn't say, 'You're not in the plan, you're not in the calendar.'"

To be compassionate, one has to have his or her eyes open just as Jesus shows us in the Gospel, he said, and the bishops were visiting the border to listen and to see the reality in that area in a similar manner.

"The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us," he said, switching between English and Spanish. "That's what the Lord taught us: to listen and then respond to the plan, the Christian plan, and to give hope to the poorest and neediest, to tell them that the Christian people have not forgotten them."

Christ's example, he said, was to respect the dignity of each person, "each one, and to hear their cry to tend to them. That is the purpose of the church."

"We as a church have to hear where the reality is, we have to be the ones to say, 'There's a human face and that human face always points us to Christ.' If we don't say it, who will?" Bishop Flores asked.

He said he was glad the bishops would be able to witness the generosity of the people of the Rio Grande Valley, who with few resources always respond generously to those who have needed them over the years.

"Let's ask the Lord to allow us to see with open eyes to respond with compassionate hearts," he said. "We can be a country of laws without being a nation that lacks compassion."

The start of the two-day visit began a day after mass protests around the U.S. demanded a stop to the separation of families. The prelates' visit will be focused on family separation and they plan to visit a center for migrants run by Catholic Charities and also to meet with authorities near the border.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Another busy year ends for Supreme Court with all eyes on next term

Top Stories - Fri, 06/29/2018 - 5:32pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- "That's a wrap" could have been said late morning June 27 at the U.S. Supreme Court after the court issued its last two decisions of the term.

Except that it was not a wrap by a long shot.

Just a few hours after the court released its final decisions, longtime Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, which immediately got wheels of speculation spinning about his potential replacement and what that would mean for the future balance of the court.

Almost immediately, President Donald Trump said he would move quickly to fill the spot, saying he already has a list of candidates in hand.

And the day after this announcement, the court released another handful of cases on the docket for its next term that begins Oct. 1.

But before all attention shifts to the next session, there is still plenty to review from the court's term that just ended -- a busy nine months with more than 75 cases argued, and decided on, by the court.

Big cases this year involved the president's travel ban, a same-sex wedding cake, gerrymandering, sports betting, cellphone tracking, union dues and pro-life pregnancy centers.

Catholic Church leaders weighed in on many of these cases, submitting friend-of-the-court briefs and issuing statements after the decisions were announced. Catholic newspaper editorials addressed sports betting and Catholic advocates spoke up on the court's actions on the death penalty.

The court, near the end of this term, announced its 5-4 decision upholding Trump's travel ban preventing people entering the U.S. from some Muslim-majority countries.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities USA and Catholic Legal Immigration Network expressed disappointment with the ruling and also had filed a combined friend-of-the court brief with harsh criticism of the president's order, saying it showed "blatant religious discrimination" and was a major threat to religious liberty.

In the case of the same-sex wedding cake, the U.S. bishops sided with the court's 7-2 decision in favor of the Colorado baker who cited religious beliefs in declining to make the wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The narrow ruling said the baker's religious freedom had been violated by the state's Civil Rights Commission, but it did not determine if a small business can invoke federal free-speech and religious-exercise rights to deny services to same-sex couples.

The Catholic bishops also sided with the court's 5-4 ruling that a California law requiring pregnancy centers to tell patients about the availability of state-funded abortion services violated the First Amendment. They disagreed with the court's 5-4 decision in the case about union dues where the court overruled its previous decision allowing state agencies to require their union-represented employees to pay fees to the union for collective bargaining costs even if they are not union members.

One case that might have seemed under the radar for Catholic leaders was the 6-3 ruling that cleared the way for states to legalize sports betting, striking down a 1992 federal law, but editorials in at least two Catholic archdiocesan newspapers warned about some potential dangers of this decision.

Catholic New York, archdiocesan newspaper of New York, and The Catholic Spirit, archdiocesan newspaper of St. Paul and Minneapolis, both pointed out how the ruling could bring about an increased addition to gambling.

In a death penalty case, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of a Texas death-row inmate, ordering a federal appellate court to reconsider his requests for funding to investigate his claims of mental illness and substance abuse. This decision, along with the statements made when the court announced it would not take up the case of an Arizona death-row inmate challenging the state's capital punishment law, shows the court is taking notice of flaws in the death penalty, said Karen Clifton, executive director of Catholic Mobilizing Network.

In its next session, the court already has agreed to three death penalty cases.

In other abortion decisions, the justices threw out a lower court's ruling that allowed a 17-year-old last year to obtain an abortion while she was in a detention center after an illegal border crossing. The court also said it would not hear a case against an Arkansas abortion law, thus letting the state's restrictions on abortion-inducing drugs stand.

As the court catches its breath from the end of the busy term and awaits the transition period of its replacement for Kennedy, many of the justices will at least be able to get away from Washington with temporary teaching posts.

The scotusblog, a blog about the Supreme Court, reports that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be a guest lecturer in Rome for the summer law program of Loyola University Chicago and Justice Neil Gorsuch will teach two courses in national security law for the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University's summer session in Padua, Italy. Justice Stephen Breyer is scheduled to give a talk at the Aspen Institute in Colorado in July.

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

First VIDEO posted June 29, 2018

Top Stories - Fri, 06/29/2018 - 10:52am

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The 15th annual report on the implementation of the U.S. bishops' "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" shows a decrease in allegations of clergy sex abuse from the two previous years but also indicates the need for continued vigilance since charges were raised by more than 650 adults and 24 minors.

The overall decrease in allegations coupled with the fact that charges of abuse are still being made is something Francesco Cesareo, chairman of the National Review Board, which oversees the audits, finds troubling.

In introductory remarks to the report released June 1, he said: "While progress continues to be made, there are worrisome signs for the future revealed in this year's audit that cannot be ignored."

He said he was most concerned by signs of general complacency such as a shortage of resources available to fully implement programs, failure by some dioceses to complete background checks in a timely manner and, in some cases, poor record keeping.

Cesareo wrote that this "apparent complacency" could indicate that some in the church think "sexual abuse of minors by the clergy is now an historic event of the past."

This view would be untrue, as the current report indicates, he said, adding: "Any allegation involving a current minor should remind the bishops that they must re-dedicate themselves each day to maintaining a level of vigilance that will not permit complacency to set in or result in a less precise and thorough implementation of the charter."

The newly released report -- based on audits conducted between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017 - shows that 654 adults came forward with 695 allegations. Compared to 2015 and 2016, the number of allegations decreased significantly due to fewer bankruptcy proceedings and statute of limitations changes. The report also notes that 1,702 victim/survivors received ongoing support and that all dioceses and eparchies that received an allegation of sexual abuse during the 2017 audit year reported them to the appropriate civil authorities.

According to the charter, 24 new allegations were raised by came from minors. As of June 30, 2017, six were substantiated and the clergy were removed from ministry. These allegations came from three different dioceses and four of the six allegations were against the same priest. Eight allegations were unsubstantiated as of June 30, 2017. Three were categorized as "unable to be proven" and five investigations were still ongoing at the time of the audit.

The report acknowledges the church's ongoing efforts to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults pointing out that in 2017, more than 2.5 million background checks were conducted on church clergy, employees and volunteers and more than 2.5 million adults and 4.1 million children have been trained on how to identify the warning signs of abuse and how to report those signs.

Regarding compliance with the charter, two eparchies and one diocese did not participate in the audit this year and all 191 participating dioceses were found in compliance. Of the 63 dioceses/eparchies participating in the on-site audits, three eparchies were found noncompliant.

The report's introductory remarks stress the importance of the honesty of victims and survivors who have come forward.

"It is because of these brave individuals that victim assistance and child protection are now central components of the church," wrote Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in the report's preface.

The cardinal stressed that implementing the charter is "not something that can be done by only one person. It takes the effort of multiple people in every diocese and in every parish to ensure that victims/survivors have opportunities for healing, and that the church is a safe place for children and vulnerable adults. "

It is also something that will remain a key part of the church in years ahead, as he said: "We must continually rededicate ourselves to keeping our promise to protect and pledge to heal."

The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, based at Georgetown University in Washington, gathers data for the report, and StoneBridge Business Partners, based in Rochester, New York, conducts the annual audits.

The annual report has two parts. The first is the compliance report of StoneBridge, which carried out on-site audits of dioceses and eparchies and reviewed diocesan documentation. Under canon law, dioceses and eparchies cannot be required to participate in the audit, but it is strongly recommended that they do.

The second part of the report is the "2017 Survey of Allegations and Costs," conducted by CARA.

According to the 2017 report, dioceses, eparchies and religious institutes reported $263,809,273 in total costs related to child protection efforts as well as costs related to allegations that from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, which represents a 50 percent increase from the amount reported the previous year.

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Editor's Note: The link https://bit.ly/2JpeCYo goes to the full report.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Pope at pallium Mass: Jesus wants disciples unafraid to aid others

Top Stories - Fri, 06/29/2018 - 9:31am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- God wants his disciples to bring his mercy and love to everyone, everywhere on earth, which means it may cost them their "good name," comfort and their life, Pope Francis said on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

Following Christ requires "that we open our hearts to the Father and to all those with whom he has wished to identify," particularly the downtrodden, the lost and the wounded, "in the sure knowledge that he will never abandon his people," he said during a Mass in St. Peter's Square June 29.

"Jesus wants to liberate his disciples, his church, from empty forms of triumphalism: forms empty of love, empty of service, empty of compassion, empty of people," he said.

The Mass was celebrated the day after Pope Francis created 14 new cardinals from 11 different nations.

Both new and old cardinals as well as 30 archbishops appointed over the course of the past year were invited to be in Rome to concelebrate the feast day Mass with Pope Francis. The archbishops came from 18 countries, the majority coming from Latin America and others from Africa, Asia and Europe.

As has become standard practice, Pope Francis did not confer the pallium on new archbishops during the liturgy, but rather, blessed the palliums after they had been brought up from the crypt above the tomb of St. Peter. As each archbishop approached him by the altar, the pope handed each one a small wooden box tied with a thin gold ribbon. The actual imposition of the woolen band was to take place in the archbishop's archdiocese in the presence of his faithful and bishops from neighboring dioceses.

The pallium is a woolen band that symbolizes an archbishop's unity with the pope and his authority and responsibility to care for the flock the pope entrusted to him.

Addressing the cardinals and archbishops during his homily, the pope spoke about what Peter teaches them about the life and risks of being Christ's disciple.

It was Peter who recognized Jesus as "the Christ, the son of the living God," and it was Peter whom Jesus turned to, saying "You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church."

But, when Jesus showed his disciples he must go to Jerusalem, be killed and be risen, it was Peter who protested.

Jesus "kept bringing the father's love and mercy to the very end. This merciful love demands that we, too, go forth to every corner of life, to reach out to everyone, even though this may cost us our 'good name,' our comforts, our status ... even martyrdom."

Peter reacts to this mandate of martyrdom by saying, "God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you," which makes him become "a stumbling stone in the Messiah's path," the pope said.

"Thinking that he is defending God's rights, Peter, without realizing it, becomes the Lord's enemy; Jesus calls him 'Satan.'" he said.

"Like Peter, we as a church will always be tempted to hear those 'whisperings' of the evil one, which will become a stumbling stone for the mission," the pope said.

Sharing in Christ's mission, which is to anoint the people, the sick, the wounded, the lost and the repentant sinner, so that they may feel "a beloved part of God's family," means sharing Christ's cross, which is his glory.

"When we turn our back on the cross, even though we may attain the heights of glory, we will be fooling ourselves, since it will not be God's glory, but the snare of the enemy," he said.

Do not be Christians who keep "a prudent distance from the Lord's wounds," because Jesus touches human misery and "he asks us to join him in touching the suffering flesh of others," the pope told those assembled.

It is failure to be immersed in "real human dramas" and in contact with people's concrete concerns that prevents people from "knowing the revolutionary power of God's tender love," he said.

As is customary, a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople attended the Mass for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul -- the patron saints of the Vatican and the city of Rome.

Before the Mass, Orthodox Archbishop Job of Telmessos, head of the delegation, joined the pope in prayer at the tomb of St. Peter inside St. Peter's Basilica. The two also stopped before a bronze statue of St. Peter, which was adorned with a jeweled tiara, ring and red cope.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

RFK's faith three-dimensional in books, but two-dimensional on screen

Top Stories - Thu, 06/28/2018 - 5:05pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Kennedy King Memorial Initiative

By Mark Pattison

NEW YORK (CNS) -- By all accounts, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, shot down June 5, 1968, as he ran for the Democratic presidential nomination, was the most devout Catholic among his siblings.

A former altar boy who sometimes spoke of joining the priesthood, Kennedy's faith, drawn inward after the 1963 assassination of his older brother the president -- and somehow not diminished by a growing belief in existentialism -- informed his political views and his compassion for the poor.

All good elements for a TV or film biography, right? So far, apparently not.

In the 44 years since the somber TV docudrama "The Missiles of October" created a sensation with actors, and not impressionists, using the famous family's idiosyncratic accent to bring the Kennedys to dramatic life, it's been mostly campaign rallies and White House corridors for Robert, the former attorney general and U.S. senator from New York.

Here's a moment in the blink-and-you'll-miss-it category: In the 1985 TV miniseries "Robert Kennedy and His Times," based on Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.'s 1978 biography, Kennedy's mother, Rose (Beatrice Straight), on a windswept beach at Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, tells Robert (Brad Davis) after the assassination of President Kennedy, "It's up to you now to lead us forward."

She's clutching a rosary. That's it for Catholicism.

The new Netflix documentary series, "Bobby Kennedy for President," has a brief clip of the senator at an outdoor Mass for striking immigrant farm workers in California -- and nothing else.

Kennedy, who was just 42 when he was assassinated in Los Angeles, came of age long before Washington politicians proclaimed their adherence to any particular faith. And Protestant opposition in 1960 to John F. Kennedy as the first Catholic president was a very large and well-organized force.

So the younger Kennedy likely would have considered it unseemly to announce in speeches, as House Speaker Paul Ryan has done from time to time, that any of his political philosophy was rooted in Catholic social doctrine.

As for TV and film dramatizations, they are necessarily stuffed with political pageantry and a cast of oversize characters that includes Sen. Joseph McCarthy, President Lyndon Johnson, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. Rich opportunities for colorful speeches and hammy character actors don't leave room for quiet moments of reflection and Catholic discussion.

But the next go-round of biopics (and with Kennedy family lore, there's invariably a next go-round) may finally give fuller dimensions to Robert Kennedy's life. Recent biographies have dived into his faith, and as they're adapted into dramas, the Catholic elements should be folded into those as well.

One problematic element in the writing of these profiles is the divide that has grown ever deeper, in the years since Kennedy's death, between social (as opposed to economic) liberalism and Catholic teaching. Since Kennedy was and is a towering figure for the left, authors celebrating him seem uncomfortable portraying Kennedy as straightforwardly pious.

Here are samplings from a couple of new biographies:

-- Larry Tye, "Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon" (Random House, 2016).

Tye writes that, following JFK's assassination, "religion helped, too, but on his terms, not the church's. He kept a missal beside him in the car and thumbed through to prayers he found consoling. Instead of attending Mass mainly on Sundays and days of obligation, as had been his adult routine, he was in the pew nearly every day. His faith helped him internalize the assassination in a way that, over time, freed his spirit."

Tye's best religious anecdote, related by former Kennedy aide John Seigenthaler, centered on a 1964 discussion Bobby and wife Ethel had with Holy Cross Father John Cavanaugh, a former president of the University of Notre Dame, about whether President Kennedy was in heaven or purgatory, since he wasn't able to confess his sins before he died.

Ethel wanted an assurance that John was in heaven, but Cavanaugh, Tye writes, "equivocated." Finally, Bobby spoke up: "I don't think that's how God gets his kicks."

-- Chris Matthews, "Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit" (Simon & Schuster, 2017).

The colorful MSNBC host, also the product of a bumptious Catholic upbringing, concludes that Bobby was not only the most religious of the Kennedy children, but also the "least assimilated."

Growing up, Bobby "couldn't help but reveal himself if circumstances evoked it," Matthews writes. He once fired off an angry letter to Boston's archbishop, Cardinal Richard Cushing, complaining about a priest, believed to be anti-Semitic, who had interpreted too strictly the doctrine that outside the church there is no salvation.

Matthews includes the wry comment made by Jacqueline Kennedy during the 1960 campaign, and reprinted many times since then: "I think it's so unfair of people to be against Jack because he's a Catholic. He's such a poor Catholic. Now, if it were Bobby, I could understand it."

Bobby also left St. Paul's, a Protestant New Hampshire boarding school, after just two months because both he and his mother disliked its exclusive use of the King James Bible.

As for Catholic social teachings, Matthews writes that Bobby, long before he began his presidential campaign, "drew upon an old reservoir ... illuminated by Dorothy Day and Michael Harrington."

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Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

A tale of two farm bills: House, Senate versions to be hashed out

Top Stories - Thu, 06/28/2018 - 5:05pm

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- With House passage of a new five-year farm bill in the rearview mirror and passage of a Senate version looming straight ahead, it's going to take a House-Senate conference committee to reconcile what is turning out to be considerably different versions of the farm bill.

"We're in an interesting period," said James Ennis, executive director of Catholic Rural Life.

The Senate version, which received a 20-1 vote in committee to send to the floor, where debate started June 28, "is very bipartisan," Ennis told Catholic News Service. "The Senate version in its current state looks a lot like the 2014 farm bill."

It's the House version that has Ennis and other rural advocates concerned. It passed June 21 by just two votes, 213-211, and it took several minutes to break the deadlock while supporters rounded up two more members to vote for it. All those voting yes were Republicans; 20 Republicans voted no, as did every Democrat voting.

The Agriculture Nutrition Act, as the House bill is known, removes money from conservation programs found in previous farm bills, which are reauthorized generally twice each decade. The Conservation Stewardship Program was cut entirely. Access to capital for business training services also was slashed, Ennis said.

Anna Johnson, an Iowa-based senior policy analyst for the Center for Rural Affairs, is concerned with trends in rural life that see farms getting bigger, with fewer people to work on them. That leads to smaller town and the problems that come with it.

"There's a bunch of factors at play," Johnson said. "Obviously, the folks leave a rural town, businesses close, places of worship close, schools close, communities dwindle. Part of our mission is to support the thriving and vibrant rural communities."

But she spied something in the House version of the farm bill that would add a new threat to rural life.

"It's how policy works sometimes," she told CNS June 28. "You bury things in the language and it's hard to see, but what it's going to do is open up a lot of loopholes in the farm payment structure and go against the farm safety net," Johnson said. "It's going to allow farms to reorganize into different structures and attract more subsidy payments."

In so doing, she added, "it helps drive farm consolidation, which drives up land prices and rent prices." Agribusiness concerns, Johnson said, will more easily be able exploit the loophole and grab a larger chunk of federal farm subsidy money.

"Government failing with impunity: that's the farm bill," said Dee Davis, executive director of the Center for Rural Strategies in Whitesburg, Kentucky. He criticized Congress for "having the chance to do something decent, but always getting right up to the line with it."

Davis asked, "What do we know?" before answering his own question: "What we do know is that one out of four kids lives in rural poverty. All the posing and all the preening by these congressmen is not going to help if it takes away food from poor people."

He added, "Rural communities have been suffering. We have the food stamp program and its important impact in rural communities, not just in what it does for low-income families but what it does to support local economies. If they pull that away, and don't replace it with anything for balance, then rural communities will suffer even more."

The House version of the farm bill imposes stricter work requirements for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, once known as food stamps. Some have predicted 2 million people would lose SNAP benefits were the House bill to become law, but the number of those affected in rural communities is not known.

"My feeling is they've got a job, they should do it," Davis said of Congress.

More than 300 priests, women religious and lay leaders issued a letter June 21 to Congress to preserve SNAP. "As Catholics, you know that our church's social teaching calls us to serve the common good, and that the government has an important role to play in supporting our vulnerable neighbors," said the letter, released by Faith in Public Life. "There is nothing pro-life about making it harder for parents to put food on the table for their children."

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Credible leadership serves others, pope tells cardinals at consistory

Top Stories - Thu, 06/28/2018 - 11:56am

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Defending the weak or hopeless and becoming a servant to those most in need is the best promotion one can ever receive, Pope Francis told new and old cardinals.

"None of us must feel 'superior' to anyone. None of us should look down at others from above. The only time we can look at a person in this way is when we are helping them to stand up," he said during a ceremony in which he elevated 14 bishops and archbishops from 11 different nations to the College of Cardinals June 28.

The formal ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica began with Pope Francis, wearing a miter and carrying a pastoral staff of retired Pope Benedict XVI, leading a procession of the soon-to-be cardinals -- in their new red robes -- while the choirs sang, "Tu es Petrus" (You are Peter).

Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako of Baghdad approached a podium to give thanks on behalf of all the new cardinals who have been "called to serve the church and all people with an even greater love."

The 69-year-old patriarch, whose country has lost an estimated 1 million of what had been 1.5 million Christians over the years of war, violence by extremist militants and economic insecurity, thanked the pope for his special attention to the plight and struggle of "the tiny flock" of Christians throughout the Middle East.

"We pray and hope that your efforts to promote peace will change the hearts of men and women for the better" and help the world become a more "dignified" place for all people, the patriarch said.

Being made a cardinal, he noted, was not a prize or a personal honor, but an invitation to live out one's mission more firmly dedicated to "the very end," even to give one's life, as symbolized by the cardinal's color of red.

Their mission, the pope said in his homily, is to remember to stay focused on Christ, who always ministered and led the way, unperturbed by his disciples' infighting, jealousies, failings and compromises.

On the road to Jerusalem, as the disciples were locked in "useless and petty discussions," Jesus walks ahead yet tells them forcefully, when it comes to lording authority over others, "it shall not be so among you; whoever would be great among you must be your servant."

What good is it, the pope asked, to "gain the whole world if we are corroded within" or "living in a stifling atmosphere of intrigues that dry up our hearts and impede our mission," including those "palace intrigues" in curial offices.

"But it shall not be so among you," the Lord says, because their eyes, heart and resources must be dedicated "to the only thing that counts: the mission," the pope said.

Personal conversion and church reform are always missionary, he said, which demands that looking out for and protecting one's own interests be stopped, so that looking out for and protecting what God cares about remains at the fore.

Letting go of sins and selfishness means "growing in fidelity and willingness to embrace the mission" so that "when we see the distress of our brothers and sisters, we will be completely prepared to accompany and embrace them" instead of being "roadblocks ... because of our short-sightedness or our useless wrangling about who is most important."

"The church's authority grows with this ability to defend the dignity of others, to anoint them and to heal their wounds and their frequently dashed hopes. It means remembering that we are here because we have been asked 'to preach good news to the poor ... to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed," he said.

"Dear brother cardinals and new cardinals," the pope said, the "Lord walks ahead of us, to keep reminding us that the only credible form of authority is born of sitting at the feet of others in order to serve Christ."

"This is the highest honor that we can receive, the greatest promotion that can be awarded us: to serve Christ in God's faithful people. In those who are hungry, neglected, imprisoned, sick, suffering, addicted to drugs, cast aside," he said.

Pope Francis then read the formula of creation and the names of all 14 cardinals; each new cardinal recited the creed and took an oath of fidelity to Pope Francis and his successors.

One by one, each cardinal went up to the pope and knelt before him. The pope gave them each a cardinal's ring, a red skullcap and a three-cornered red hat. The assembly applauded for each new cardinal as the pope stood and embraced each one, in some cases, speaking to them briefly and privately.

With the new members, the College of Cardinals numbered 226, with 125 of them being cardinal electors -- those under 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave. With this consistory, Pope Francis has created almost half of the voting cardinals.

The new cardinals are from Iraq, Spain, Italy, Poland, Pakistan, Portugal, Peru, Madagascar, Japan, Mexico and Bolivia. The current College of Cardinals now represents six continents and 88 countries.

The 14 cardinals who received their red hats from the pope were Cardinals:

-- Louis Sako, 69.

-- Luis Ladaria, 74, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

-- Angelo De Donatis, 64, papal vicar for the Diocese of Rome.

-- Giovanni Angelo Becciu, 70, substitute secretary of state, prefect-designate of the Congregation for Saints' Causes.

-- Konrad Krajewski, 54, papal almoner.

-- Joseph Coutts of Karachi, Pakistan, 72.

-- Antonio dos Santos Marto of Leiria-Fatima, Portugal, 71.

-- Pedro Barreto of Huancayo, Peru, 74.

-- Desire Tsarahazana of Toamasina, Madagascar, 64.

-- Giuseppe Petrocchi of L'Aquila, Italy, 69.

-- Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda of Osaka, Japan, 69.

-- Sergio Obeso Rivera, retired archbishop of Xalapa, Mexico, 86.

-- Toribio Ticona Porco, retired bishop of Corocoro, Bolivia, 81.

-- Aquilino Bocos Merino, 80, former superior general of the Claretian religious order.

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Justice Anthony Kennedy to retire from Supreme Court

Top Stories - Wed, 06/27/2018 - 5:30pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jonathan Ernst, Reuters

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced June 27, the last day of the Supreme Court's current term, that he is retiring July 31.

Less than an hour later, President Donald Trump said he would move quickly to nominate a replacement, saying he would review a list of candidates from the list he had to fill the seat now held by Justice Neil Gorsuch after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Kennedy is one of five Catholic justices on the Supreme Court along with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor.

Rumors about his retirement have been around for a while. Kennedy, who turns 82 in July, is the second-oldest member of the court after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is 85. He also is the longest-serving justice currently on the court, appointed in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan.

A California native, Kennedy took over the family law firm practice in 1963, the year his father died. That same year, he married Mary Davis. The couple has three children.

In 1975, he was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

In recent years, he has been viewed as the swing vote -- a term he has been said to despise. He has been known for conservative views but has also sided with decisions that focused on individual rights.

Kennedy wrote the 2015 majority opinion in the 5-4 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which said there was a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. He also wrote the majority opinion in Citizens United case in 2009 which said political spending is a form of protected speech. He was on the side of Hobby Lobby in the 2014 challenge to the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act.

"It has been the greatest honor and privilege to serve our nation in the federal judiciary for 43 years, 30 of those years on the Supreme Court," Kennedy wrote in a statement announcing his retirement.

Without him, the court will be split between four justices appointed by Democratic presidents and four who were appointed by Republicans.

In late April, The New York Times editorial board pleaded with Kennedy to stay on for as long as possible.

"How can we put this the right way? Please don't go," it said, noting that Kennedy's position, "between the four liberal justices and the four conservatives," makes him "the most powerful member of the most powerful court in the country" for the past decade.

The New York Times was hardly alone in speculating when Kennedy would announce his retirement.

Russell Shaw, freelance writer and author, wrote in a column published in late May by the Arlington Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Arlington Diocese in Virginia, that if Kennedy does retire this year, "there's sure to be a protracted, unusually ugly struggle in the Senate over confirming a successor."

"President Trump is committed to naming a pro-life justice, as he did last year with Justice Neil Gorsuch," he said. "Then it will be up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to do all he can to get the successor confirmed before the November elections -- that is, while Senate Republicans are still sure of a slim Senate majority."

Shaw also noted that the description of Kennedy as a conservative is "accurate enough on some matters, but where the social issues are concerned, Kennedy, a Catholic, has been anything but conservative, instead playing a key role in defending legalized abortion and conferring constitutional status on same-sex marriage."

Boris Heersink, assistant professor of political science at Fordham University in New York, said Kennedy's retirement "guarantees a strongly conservative Supreme Court for the time being," stressing that Trump is "likely to nominate a hardline conservative in line with Neil Gorsuch."

In an email, Heersink said the court has already made a set of "clear conservative judgments" this session which is likely to "continue for the foreseeable future."

"It is even conceivable that this produces a small majority in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade," he added.

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High court rules against unions in dues case; USCCB had backed labor

Top Stories - Wed, 06/27/2018 - 1:41pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Leah Millis, Reuters

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- By a 5-4 majority, the Supreme Court declared June 27 that one of its rulings from 1977 was "wrongly decided" and overruled it, in a case on whether public-sector unions could continue to make nonmembers pay fair-share fees not related to the unions' lobbying and political efforts.

As a result, said the court majority, "neither an agency fee nor any other form of payment to a public-sector union may be deducted from an employee, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay."

The justices split along their customary ideological lines, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch in the majority and with Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the minority.

The case is Janus v. AFSCME. Mark Janus is an Illinois state employee who contended the union unconstitutionally made him pay fair-share fees, also known as agency fees, and used the money to take positions with which he disagreed, essentially compelling speech from him. The 1977 case the court overruled was Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, in which the court allowed for the payment of such fees.

"The majority has overruled Abood for no exceptional or special reason, but because it never liked the decision. It has overruled Abood because it wanted to," Kagan said in her dissent. "Because, that is, it wanted to pick the winning side in what should be -- and until now, has been -- an energetic policy debate."

Kagan's point was shared by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in an amicus brief it filed in the case this year.

The USCCB brief cited the prominent Supreme Court decisions of Roe v. Wade on abortion, and Obergfell v. Hodges on same-sex marriage, as reason to deny Janus relief; Janus' position had lost at the Illinois Supreme Court.

The high court "should leave constitutional space for the public policy position supported for so long by so many bishops and bishop-led institutions, rather than declare still another such position outside the bounds of what policymakers are permitted to implement by law," it said. "By its decision in this case, the court should not only preserve that room for debate as to the public-sector context now, but avoid any threats to it in the private-sector context in the future."

"Forcing free and independent individuals to endorse ideas they find objectionable raises serious First Amendment concerns," said the majority opinion written by Alito. "Whatever may have been the case 41 years ago when Abood was decided, it is thus now undeniable that 'labor peace' can readily be achieved through less restrictive means than the assessment of agency fees."

"Abood did not appreciate the very different First Amendment question that arises when a state requires its employees to pay agency fees," the court said. "Developments since Abood, both factual and legal, have 'eroded' the decision's 'underpinnings' and left it an outlier among the court's First Amendment cases."

Kagan, though, rejected the majority's conclusions.

"Rarely if ever has the court overruled a decision -- let alone one of this import -- with so little regard for the usual principles of 'stare decisis.' There are no special justifications for reversing Abood. It has proved workable. No recent developments have eroded its underpinnings. And it is deeply entrenched, in both the law and the real world," she said.

"Stare decisis" is the principle by which judges are bound to precedents. Alito's majority opinion said, "Abood was poorly reasoned, and those arguing for retaining it have recast its reasoning, which further undermines its 'stare decisis' effect."

"More than 20 states have statutory schemes built on the decision," it continued. "Those laws underpin thousands of ongoing contracts involving millions of employees. Reliance interests do not come any stronger than those surrounding Abood. And likewise, judicial disruption does not get any greater than what the court does today."

Kagan said, "Ignoring our repeated validation of Abood" -- she cited six precedents -- "the majority claims it has become 'an outlier among our First Amendment cases.' That claim fails most spectacularly."

She added, "Reviewing those decisions not a decade ago, this court -- unanimously -- called the Abood rule 'a general First Amendment principle.'"

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'Laudato Si" provides motivation, framework for schools' green projects

Top Stories - Tue, 06/26/2018 - 5:35pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy University of Dayton

By Steve Larkin

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis' encyclical "Laudato Si'," which was promulgated June 18, 2015, has provided both a motivation and a framework for Catholic universities implementing sustainability projects.

The encyclical, which has acquired a reputation as the "environmental encyclical," has made Catholic universities more aware of their connections to and impact on the natural world.

But the effects of "Laudato Si'," just like the encyclical itself, go beyond just a renewed commitment to environmental causes.

Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical "Caritas in Veritate," which "Laudato Si'" draws on, says that "the book of nature is one and indivisible: It takes in not only the environment but also life, sexuality, marriage, the family, social relations: in a word, integral human development. Our duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards the human person."

Pope Francis uses these words, as well as previous pieces of Catholic social teaching, to conclude that environmental problems cannot be separated from a much broader network of problems facing human society.

This integral approach toward human problems has encouraged Catholic universities to begin to understand all their efforts as part of an interconnected whole, not merely individual programs, and some Catholic universities have risen to the challenge.

St. John's University in New York, the University of Dayton in Ohio and the University of San Diego have all received a gold STARS rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education in the time between the promulgation of "Laudato Si'" and now.

The STARS program, which stands for Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System, is a transparent and self-reporting framework that includes both short-term and long-term sustainability goals for all kinds of colleges and universities.

The heads of sustainability efforts at all three universities said that "Laudato Si'" played an important role in their renewed commitment to sustainability efforts.

According to Michael Catanzaro, director of sustainability at the University of San Diego, said "Laudato Si'" was "super present to our minds" when the university instituted a Climate Action plan in 2016.

The plan builds on previous progress by the university, which has cut its energy consumption by 20 percent since 2010 and used less water in 2016 than it had in any of the previous 25 years. From this starting point, the plan aims to reduce the environmental footprint of the university from a baseline of 2010 by 15 percent by 2020, 40 percent by 2030, and 50 percent by 2035.

The university is taking action beyond the larger pieces of the plan, such as reducing water use and electricity use, using more renewable sources of energy, and reducing gas use by both students and faculty commuting in and on-campus shuttles.

To Catanzaro, the smaller pieces of the plan, such as reducing food waste, are just as important. He mentioned that reducing food waste had a special resonance to him.

"The first level of defense is eliminating waste," he said, and eliminating food waste is immediately visible in a way that eliminating other kinds of waste is not.

Catanzaro told Catholic News Service he believes that "Laudato Si'" serves as "a set of lenses" with which to look at the various problems confronting the university and the world.

"The pope speaks to these embedded systems creating the problems," he said, and the encyclical, by identifying the sources of the problems, makes it easier to attack the disease and not merely the symptoms.

The emphasis on sustainability in "Laudato Si'" is a part of the pope's diagnosis of the evils of the modern world, said Catanzaro.

"A culture of consumption creates a lot of the challenges we're facing," he said. He thinks it links together several other ideas discussed in "Laudato Si'," such as the quickening pace of human life, a throwaway culture, and the subjection of politics, especially in the Third World, to technological and financial interests.

While "Laudato Si'" has provided a framework for sustainability efforts, Catanzaro is still working on integrating and seeing all the university's efforts as parts of a larger whole. Aside from wanting to be environmentally sustainable, "we aim to serve as a community anchor and shed light on inequity and environmental and social injustice," he said.

Catanzaro sees the various programs at the University of San Diego as "taking small actions that amount to something larger," and he hopes that all the small actions people take will eventually come together to produce larger change.

At the University of Dayton, "Laudato Si'" served to encourage further sustainability efforts. The school already had been working on sustainability efforts for many years and had divested from fossil fuels in 2014, but the school "took 'Laudato Si'' to heart" when generating a report in every department looking for ways to become more sustainable, according to Steve Kendig, the executive director of energy utilization and environmental sustainability.

The encyclical also reinforced the importance of the school's Catholic and Marianist values, according to Kendig. "We try to maintain the integrity of all creation because protecting the life and dignity of all is part of our mission as a Catholic institution," he said.

Kendig sees the school's efforts against food deserts in the Dayton area as an important part of the sustainability efforts. Since studies have shown that Dayton is the second-worst city in the nation for food insecurity in households with children, the university views its work in this area as an important part of supporting the Dayton community.

"There's a collective sense here on campus that we promote Marianist values," Kendig told CNS. Students in a variety of programs contribute to that promotion and the school's sustainability efforts.

For example, some students in the department of engineering management, systems and technology worked on the logistics of trucks driving to and from a food shelter, and they ended up cutting several hundred miles of driving each week. The food shelter ended up saving enough money to provide 400 additional meals every week.

The university's work in Appalachia reflects the understanding of "Laudato Si'" that care for the environment and care for the poor are intertwined.

"During move-out week we collect furniture, small appliances, and food, and take it down to Appalachia," Kendig said.

Many people in that region have a hard time getting small appliances, according to Kendig. This program both helps the university be more sustainable by reducing the amount that gets thrown away and helps it fulfill its obligations to the poor by providing for their material needs and comfort.

The Hanley Sustainability Institute, which was established in 2014 with a $12.5 million gift from the foundation of George and Amanda Hanley, helps promote the cross-disciplinary work at the school and the connections with community organizations that make much of this work possible, and Kendig said that one of the goals of the institute is to both integrate sustainability into the life of the college and make it visible, helping to create a cultural change along with the material efforts.

At St. John's University, Thomas Goldsmith, the director of environmental and energy conservation, sees the sustainability program as a part of fulfilling the obligations to future generations discussed in "Laudato Si'."

"You could substitute the word sustainability for the word future," he said. "We have to use the finite natural resources for ourselves wisely so that they be protected for future generations."

To support that goal, St. John's has taken advantage of a number of programs offered by both New York City and New York state aimed at reducing its carbon footprint.

"We've taken advantage of statewide technical assistance programs to find out what is achievable in energy efficiencies," said Goldsmith.

The university also has tried to bring about a cultural change with its food waste program, which started in 2009 and was expanded in 2012. In addition to composting food waste and using the resulting soil in gardens, the program also aimed at getting students to take less food and scrape their plates into the compost bins, and it succeeded.

The program also takes both leftover food from the cafeteria and food grown in the gardens made with the composted soil and takes it to food kitchens. Goldsmith referred to the idea embodied by this part of the food waste program as "conserve to serve," showing that the programs that protect the environment and those that aid other people are interconnected.

At all three universities, students have been receptive to sustainability efforts and, in some cases, requested even more. While progress has been made, Catanzaro wants to make sure that "Laudato Si'" continues to encourage them and that universities not become indifferent to their sustainability efforts.

"Higher education often focuses on making students comfortable," he said, "but they learn the most in discomfort."

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Update: Court says requirements on pregnancy centers violate free speech

Top Stories - Tue, 06/26/2018 - 1:25pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 June 26 that a California law that placed requirements on crisis pregnancy centers that oppose abortion violated the First Amendment.

In its decision in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra, the court found that the law changes the content of the clinic's speech "by compelling petitioners to speak a particular message," and that the law went further than being a mere "regulation of professional conduct that incidentally burdens speech."

The state law in question is the Reproductive FACT Act, which says pregnancy centers must post notices in their facilities about where low-cost abortion services are available and also must disclose if they have medical personnel on staff.

During the oral arguments March 20, some of the justices expressed concerns that the law might be about specifically targeting crisis pregnancy centers instead of providing information about abortion, and the decision mentions that, if the goal of the law were merely providing information about abortion to the public, that goal could be accomplished in more effective ways that do not require speakers to deliver unwanted speech.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, praised the ruling as "an important victory for the free speech rights of pro-life organizations."

"The Supreme Court today has affirmed that the First Amendment protects the right of all organizations to choose for themselves not only what to say, but what not to say," he said in a statement.

"This includes allowing pro-life pregnancy care centers to continue providing life-affirming support to both mother and child without being forced by governments to provide free advertising for the violent act of abortion in direct violation of the center's pro-life convictions," he said.

The USCCB and several other faith-based groups filed a friend-of-the-court brief before the Supreme Court supporting the pro-life pregnancy centers in the case.

Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, who is co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, said in a statement that "pregnancy centers want no part of a law requiring them to tell a woman where to go to kill her child. Thankfully, today the Supreme Court recognized their First Amendment right to free speech -- and to refrain from speaking."

"Crisis pregnancy centers like NIFLA serve women and children according to their religious mission, and California should respect that," said Mark Rienzi, president of Becket, which is a nonprofit religious liberty law firm. "This ruling proves that when it comes to important issues, the government doesn't get to tell people what to believe, and it also doesn't get to tell people what to say about it."

Justice Clarence Thomas delivered the opinion of the court, and was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch. Kennedy filed a concurring opinion which Roberts, Alito and Gorsuch joined. Justice Stephen Breyer filed a dissenting opinion and was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

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Court upholds Trump's travel ban, says directive within president's scope

Top Stories - Tue, 06/26/2018 - 1:20pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Michael Reynolds, EPA

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In a 5-4 decision June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld President Donald Trump's travel ban on people entering the U.S. from some Muslim-majority countries, saying the president's action was within his power.

The court's much anticipated decision in the last case it heard this term reversed a series of lower court decisions that had struck down the ban as Illegal or unconstitutional.

Chief Justice John Roberts issued the opinion, supported by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch. It said the president's proclamation is "squarely within the scope of presidential authority" in the Immigration and Nationality Act.

In sharply worded dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, said the court's decision "fails to safeguard" this nation's fundamental principle of religious liberty and "leaves undisturbed" a policy that "now masquerades behind a facade of national-security concerns."

Immediate reaction on Twitter included Trump's message: "SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS TRUMP TRAVEL BAN. Wow!"

Catholic reaction included this tweet from the Sisters of Mercy: "This decision is disappointing and runs counter to this country's founding principles and values. Upholding this travel ban only exacerbates the scapegoating and attacks already directed against vulnerable communities, including immigrants, Muslims and people of color."

And John Gehring, director of Faith and Public Life tweeted: "Imagine a travel ban for people from countries with heavily Catholic populations. Irish Catholic immigrants were once demonized and viewed as a threat to democracy. SCOTUS ruling makes a mockery of our commitment to religious liberty."

When this case was argued before the court April 25, the majority of justices seemed to indicate they would uphold the president's ban.

The challengers to the ban -- Hawaii, several individuals and a Muslim group -- argued that Trump's policy was motivated by an antagonism toward Muslims and that it violated federal immigration law and the U.S. Constitution's prohibition on the government favoring one religion over another.

Trump has said the travel ban is necessary to protect the United States from terrorism by Islamic militants who could enter the U.S. The current version of the directive is indefinite about how long it will be in place and applies to travelers from five countries with predominantly Muslim populations: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. It also blocks travelers from non-Muslim countries: North Korea and some Venezuelan government officials and their families.

The president's first travel ban, issued right after he took office, was blocked by several U.S. courts. A few months later, a second version of the ban was similarly blocked by several lower courts but the Supreme Court voted last December to allow the policy to take effect until it heard oral arguments about it.

Catholic Church leaders expressed their objection to the travel ban in an amicus brief filed March 30 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities USA and Catholic Legal Immigration Network.

They said the ban singles out "populations of six overwhelmingly Muslim nations for sweeping immigration restrictions" that do not exist elsewhere in the world.

The brief said the president's order showed "blatant religious discrimination," which is "repugnant to the Catholic faith, core American values, and the United States Constitution." It also said the Supreme Court should relegate the order "to the dustbin of history, so it will do no further harm."

The Catholic groups said Trump's action posed a major threat to religious liberty and also failed the basic test of religious neutrality. If it stands, they said in the brief, it will prevent countless refugees from escaping persecution and starting a new life in this country with the help of church resettlement agencies.

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German Catholic-Lutheran couple say some in mixed marriages feel rebuffed

Top Stories - Tue, 06/26/2018 - 10:32am

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy courtesy of Herbert and Ines Heinecke

By Zita Ballinger Fletcher

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As the heated Communion debate continues in Germany, an interchurch couple directly affected by the Catholic Church's decisions shared their story with Catholic News Service.

Herbert and Ines Heinecke have been married since 1994. They live in a small town in northern Germany and have three daughters. Herbert Heinecke is Catholic, and Ines Heinecke is Lutheran.

"For both of us, our faith was already an important element in our lives before our marriage," the Heineckes told CNS in a written interview, submitting answers to questions as a couple. "As we got to know and love each other, we wanted also to shape this dimension of our life together."

The first step was to get to know each other's beliefs. They each learned about the core teachings of the other's denomination and formed an in-depth understanding. The Heineckes say this strengthened not only their relationship, but "deepened our individual faith, because we had to reflect on and discuss many things which are self-evident within our own denomination."

They said they formed a relationship that values both denominations. They baptized their daughters in the Catholic Church and raised them Christian. The children participated in activities in both parents' churches. All three girls were altar servers in the Catholic Church, but also sang in Protestant youth choirs.

Likewise, the husband and wife participated in their own church communities, while working actively to support each other's faith. Ines Heinecke is a member of her Protestant church council and sings in the choir. Herbert Heinecke is a member of his Catholic parish council and part of an ecumenical working group. The group organizes a monthly ecumenical service for families, in which Ines plays guitar in the Catholic church and Herbert participates in the celebration with the Protestant men's group.

The Heineckes volunteer as leaders in Network Ecumenism, a nationwide support group for couples of different denominations. They said despite the high number of interfaith couples in Germany, many encounter a lack of pastoral care from their denominations in response to their unique needs.

Many interchurch couples "have experienced rebuffs and coldheartedness from the churches, which has strained their marriage and led to estrangement from church," said the Heineckes.

Committed to living in complete unity, the Heineckes also live by their convictions with regard to receiving Communion. They go together to the Lutheran Lord's Supper and the Catholic Eucharist.

"It would be totally unimaginable to us to be separated from each other at the table of the Lord, when we share our whole life together in everything else," they said.

They said they have never encountered a pastor who has refused this to them, although some priests have been hesitant. Other interchurch couples have more difficulty.

"They sometimes experience rejection and find this very painful," the Heineckes said. "Some pairs withdraw from shared participation in order not to cause difficulties for the respective pastor."

The Heineckes' beliefs about why they should share Communion are shared by many interchurch couples in Germany.

"Even as we as a married couple share together all beautiful and difficult moments, it is self-evident to us that we should practice our faith together -- the shared participation in the Lord's Supper and the Eucharist is therefore an absolutely elementary part of this."

The Heineckes have been closely following the debate within the Catholic bishops' conference of Germany regarding the sharing of Communion and view the bishops' discord as "tragic."

In early June, Pope Francis asked the bishops not to publish nationwide guidelines for allowing Protestants married to Catholics to receive Communion at Mass, but to continue having diocesan bishops judge specific situations. The text of the German guidelines was never made public, but it was widely assumed to foresee situations in which a Lutheran married to a Catholic and regularly attending Mass with the Catholic spouse could receive the Eucharist on a regular basis.

During an inflight news conference June 21, the pope was asked about the decision. He said the guidelines went beyond what is foreseen by the Code of Canon Law "and there is the problem." The code does not provide for nationwide policies, he said, but "provides for the bishop of the diocese (to make a decision on each case), not the bishops' conference."

"This was the difficulty of the debate. Not the content," he said.

The document divided the German bishops.

"The Catholic Church in Germany has been damaged by this conflict," the Heineckes said, noting that "for many people, it is incomprehensible that the bishops are at odds" over this "instead of reacting together to the great challenges of our time."

In a published letter criticizing his fellow bishops, Bishop Gerhard Feige of Magdeburg said the original intent of the bishops' conference was to develop pastoral guidelines for individual cases, and he claimed that certain bishops portrayed it as an attempt to create a global church ruling. Citing evidence of media leaks, Bishop Feige supported his statements by exposing inconsistencies in the behavior of seven bishops who secretly contacted Rome.

"In this deepening division between Catholics; not only faith or intellectual spheres are clashing, but material interests and unsightly methods are also in play here," Bishop Feige said, noting that the "victims of all this are the affected" married couples and families.

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Hundreds of calls come in at USCCB HQ seeking to foster detained kids

Top Stories - Mon, 06/25/2018 - 1:08pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/David Maung

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Maybe it was the request by the Pentagon for 20,000 mattresses as military bases become, at least partly, shelters for detained border crossers.

Maybe it was the federal government report that 2,342 children had been separated from 2,206 parents at the U.S.-Mexico border between May 5 and June 9.

Maybe it was the now-famous audio recording of children crying after being separated from their parents.

Or maybe it was the pictures of kids in cages.

Whatever the reason, hundreds of American adults have called the Washington headquarters of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops seeking to provide foster care for the separated children.

At first report June 20, 300 calls had come in. And the calls keep coming. "We're triaging the calls," said Katie Kuennen, associate director for children's services for the USCCB's Migration and Refugee Services office.

"We're getting flooded," Kuennen added. "It's not just Catholic Charities, but MRS-wide."

The one hitch: Most of those who have called are not licensed or certified to be foster parents. That's a process that varies from state to state, according to Kuennen. While most states can train and certify parents for foster care in two or three months, some states can take a lot longer.

Further, while many Catholic Charities USA affiliate agencies are set up to match foster families with children, not all are. MRS, Kuennen said, also partners with Bethany Christian Services in some areas of the country. Agencies wishing to add foster care to their portfolio of services can typically gain state licensing in a month or two, she added.

So what happens when the calls come in? "We're able to direct them to the nearest ORR foster care program that we have available," Kuennen told Catholic News Service June 22. ORR is the acronym for the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.

"The programs aren't new, the process of bringing foster families on board isn't new," she said. "What's new is the public awareness of the program and the seeing of these images on television to get engaged and to open their homes to these families."

Even though President Donald Trump signed an executive order June 20 that essentially reversed that part of the administration's "zero tolerance" policy that separated kids from their parents, it was silent on the fate of those 2,352 kids already torn from their folks, plus whatever additional children were separated from their parents after June 9.

Moreover, a policy enacted in 1997 sets a 20-day limit for detained children to be detained alongside their parents. A Trump administration request to exceed that limit is before a federal judge in California.

"For years there has not been sufficient capacity in the ORR residential network for foster care placement," Kuennen told CNS. "Historically they (children) have been going into shelter settings."

However, "our department is currently responding to a funding opportunity announcement from ORR. I'm sure others (agencies) are as well. We are actively seeking to increase our transitional foster care and our long-term foster care," she added.

It could be coincidence that the ORR money is being freed up at this time, or it could be consequence.

"My sense is that it was initiated in May, released in May, so the timing does match up," Kuennen said, "before the family separation issue got a lot of attention after the zero tolerance (policy) was put into effect."

Although the money won't be officially freed up until the start of the new federal fiscal year Oct. 1, Kuennen said there is precedent for ORR to retroactively reimburse groups it has funded for expenses incurred if the group can show the money was spent on the specific grant plan.

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Ex-Vatican diplomat found guilty of distributing child porn

Top Stories - Sat, 06/23/2018 - 9:37am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A Vatican court found Msgr. Carlo Alberto Capella, a former staff member at the Vatican nunciature in Washington, guilty of possessing and distributing child pornography.

Judge Giuseppe Della Torre, head of the tribunal of the Vatican City State, delivered the verdict June 23, and sentenced Msgr. Capella to five years in prison and fined him 5,000 euro ($5,833).

The Vatican press office said he would serve his sentence in a Vatican cell located in the building of the Gendarme Corps of Vatican City State, as the Vatican police force is formally known.

It is presumed to be the same cell prepared for Paolo Gabriele, the former papal butler who leaked reserved papal correspondence in 2012, and Msgr. Lucio Vallejo Balda, former secretary of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, who was found guilty of leaking confidential documents about the Vatican's financial reform in 2016.

Both Gabriele and Vallejo Balda were pardoned after serving a few months of their sentences.

Msgr. Capella was accused of having and exchanging with others "a large quantity" of child pornography; the quantity is such that the charges are considered "aggravated" by the Vatican City court.

Prior to verdict, the judges presiding over the case listened to Vatican prosecutor Roberto Zanotti who recommended the court sentence the Italian prelate to five years and nine months and fine him 10,000 euro ($11,668).

Roberto Borgogno, Msgr. Capella's lawyer, pleaded with the court to give the monsignor a reduced sentence and referred to his client's crimes as "a problem" that required intense therapy and not a heavy sentence.

Before adjourning in the morning, Msgr. Capella addressed the court, saying that the "mistakes I have made are evident as well as this period of weakness. I am sorry that my weakness has hurt the church, the Holy See and my diocese. I also hurt my family and I am repentant."

Referring to his possession and distribution of child pornography as "a bump in the road in my priestly life," the former Vatican diplomat said that he wants to continue receiving "psychological support."

The Vatican press office said a decision regarding Msgr. Capella by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith would be made at a later date. The congregation's investigations of clerical sexual abuse cases is separate from how those cases are handled by criminal courts.

The U.S. State Department notified the Holy See Aug. 21 of Msgr. Capella's possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images. The 50-year-old Italian monsignor had been working in Washington just over a year when he was recalled to the Vatican.

On Sept. 28, police in Canada issued a nationwide arrest warrant for Msgr. Capella on charges of accessing, possessing and distributing child pornography.

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Trial begins for ex-Vatican diplomat accused of distributing child porn

Top Stories - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 3:57pm

IMAGE: CNS

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A former staff member at the Vatican nunciature in Washington, accused of possessing and distributing child pornography, admitted his guilt to a Vatican court and said he had never engaged in such behavior before his assignment in the U.S. capital.

"This kind of morbidness was never a part of my priestly life," Msgr. Carlo Alberto Capella told a courtroom June 22.

Vatican City State's criminal court issued an indictment June 9 against the prelate, who has been held in a jail cell in the Vatican police barracks since April 9.

Msgr. Capella is accused of having and exchanging with others "a large quantity" of child pornography; the quantity is such that the charges are considered "aggravated" by the Vatican City court.

The U.S. State Department notified the Holy See Aug. 21 of Msgr. Capella's possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images. The 50-year-old Italian monsignor had been working in Washington just over a year when he was recalled to the Vatican.

On Sept. 28, police in Canada issued a nationwide arrest warrant for Msgr. Capella on charges of accessing, possessing and distributing child pornography.

Recounting his diplomatic career at the Vatican, the Italian prelate told the court that after several years in India, Hong Kong and the Vatican Secretariat of State, he was unhappy about his assignment to the nunciature in Washington.

He said that "out of respect to the hierarchy, out of sense of duty and to not create problems, instead of making my discomfort known to them, I thanked them for the transfer."

The monsignor told the court that he felt "empty" and "useless" in his first four months at the Washington nunciature and initially used the internet for news and funny images.

In April 2016, Msgr. Capella started using the social microblogging site Tumblr to search for images when he started to see pornographic images. He said this led to conversations on the site's chat feature to engage in lewd conversations and exchange more perverse child pornographic images.

Gianluca Gauzzi, deputy commissioner of the Vatican police and a computer engineer, later testified that 40-55 photos, videos and Japanese comics depicting adult-child relationships were found or recovered from cellphones, USB drives and hard drives belonging to Msgr. Capella.

One video uncovered from the prelate's cellphone, Gauzzi told the courtroom, depicted sexual acts between a child and an adult.

Tommaso Parisi, a psychiatrist, told the courtroom he began treating Msgr. Capella in October and that the prelate has been cooperative and responded well to treatment twice a week.

Msgr. Capella was born in Carpi, Italy, and ordained to the priesthood in 1993 for the Archdiocese of Milan. After studying at the Vatican diplomatic academy in Rome, he entered the Vatican diplomatic service in 2004. He was assigned to the Washington nunciature in the summer of 2016.

Giuseppe Dalla Torre, president of the tribunal of Vatican City State, announced that the trial will continue June 23.

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Update: As immigration woes rise, lawmakers can't agree on solutions

Top Stories - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 11:40am

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Jason Miller, Franciscan Action Network

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Bipartisan disagreement on how to fix the country's immigration system led to failure once again as lawmakers on Capitol Hill turned down one immigration bill June 21 and postponed a vote on a second proposal, which also has a slim opportunity of passing.

Each side blamed the other for the failure to advance the first piece of legislation, which did not clear the initial hurdle of passing in the House of Representatives.

The remaining proposal, seen as a "compromise" bill, seeks to find a way to help youth brought to the country illegally as minors and a $25 million advance for a wall along the border with Mexico, a major campaign and yet-unfulfilled promise made by President Donald Trump. Though Trump said Mexico would pay for the wall, he is now asking Congress for U.S. taxpayer money for the structure.

"It's not a compromise. It may be a compromise with the devil, but it's not a compromise with the Democrats," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, of the remaining bill.

Though House Democrats voiced opposition to both bills, some Republicans, too, disagreed within their ranks.

Republican Congressman Will Hurd, of Texas, said in a statement released by his office June 21 that he opposed money for the border wall, saying it was "an expensive and ineffective fourth-century border security tool that takes private property away from hundreds of Texans." He also expressed concern about taking away something from one immigration program in exchange for helping another.

The remaining proposal seeks to do away with family-based migration, which allows U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to sponsor certain family members for a visa, but at the expense of providing a legal path for the youth brought into the country as minors, popularly known as "Dreamers."

As lawmakers retreated to salvage what they could and to haggle with others before the June 22 vote, a short distance away, Catholic groups joined other faith organizations in speaking out on Capitol Hill during a June 21 demonstration organized by Faith in Action against the detention of children at the border who have been separated from their parents.

Religious leaders -- including priests and women and men religious, the Franciscan Action Network, members of the Sisters of Mercy, the Columbans and others -- surrounded a group of children wrapped in aluminum insulation blankets in a building at the Capitol and called for prayer and fasting to bring an end to the misery of separated families on the border. The insulation blanket was like those handed out to children in detention centers at the border.

The Ignatian Solidarity Network also issued a press release voicing support for a statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opposing both measures and asked Catholics to contact their representatives in Congress. In the June 18 letter to House members, Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Migration, expressed concern with the compromise measure's cuts to family-based immigration, as well as the "harmful" changes to the asylum system and its lack of protections for unaccompanied children .

"Without such changes to these measures, we would be compelled to oppose it," he said.

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Church now facing its own #MeToo moment, says Australian archbishop

Top Stories - Fri, 06/22/2018 - 11:37am

IMAGE: CNS Photo/Robert Duncan

By Junno Arocho Esteves

ROME (CNS) -- In the wake of historic allegations of sexual abuse and cover-up in countries around the world, the Catholic Church is experiencing the same challenge that has brought a reckoning to those who used their authority to abuse or silence victims, said an Australian archbishop.

Allegations such as those raised against Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, represent a "major shift" within the culture of the church, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane said June 21. Abuse survivors are "willing to speak and they are believed," and the church has new processes of investigation, he added.

"It's not unrelated to the #MeToo phenomenon; there's something going on in the culture. And one of the elements of that cultural shift is that people are prepared to speak up in a way that they would never have done before," he told journalists following a four-day conference in Rome on safeguarding and child protection.

The Anglophone Safeguarding Conference, held at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University June 18-21, reflected on the theme, "Culture, an enabler or barrier to safeguarding."

Among the speakers at the conference was Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, head of the Pontifical Gregorian University's Center for Child Protection, and Bishop Gilles Cote of Daru-Kiunga, Papua New Guinea.

While local cultures can influence how the church in a particular area handles abuse cases, there are aspects of church culture that have hindered progress in addressing allegations of sexual abuse, Archbishop Coleridge told Catholic News Service June 21.

"One word that's used to describe a large and complex phenomenon within the culture is clericalism. In other words, authority geared to power and not to service," he said. "In many ways, what happened in the Catholic Church was that our strengths became our weaknesses."

An example of those strengths was that closeness that Catholic clergy and religious shared with families. However, he said, it was precisely that which, "in certain situations, gave them access to the children who were abused."

Nevertheless, Archbishop Coleridge said that just as strength can become a weakness, a weakness can also become a strength.

"I believe that the agony we are passing through this time in fact is a purification of the church that has already made us stronger. It's kind of a searing grace that we never saw coming, and we certainly wouldn't have chosen. But somehow, God is in the midst of it all, purifying the church and calling us to what we are intended be," Archbishop Coleridge told CNS.

Following the conference's conclusion, Father Zollner told journalists that allegations such as those raised against Cardinal McCarrick are signs that now "things are tightening up and that the thoroughness of the approach reaches now even the highest levels."

Cardinal McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, said June 20 that he would no longer exercise any public ministry "in obedience" to the Vatican after an allegation he abused a teenager 47 years ago was found credible.

"A few years ago, we probably wouldn't have so easily (seen) that headline," Father Zollner said in reference to news about Cardinal McCarrick. "The church -- step-by-step, too slow but more and more consistently -- comes up with or lives up to what the norms are."

Archbishop Coleridge agreed with Father Zollner, adding that "what's happening with Cardinal McCarrick focuses on episcopal accountability" and that while progress has been made, "we have more to do."

As president of the Australian bishops' conference, Archbishop Coleridge stressed that although collaboration with local authorities is critical in confronting abuse and cover-ups, measures that compromise religious freedom and the rights of conscience are not the answer.

Laws requiring Catholic priests to break the seal of confession in some cases passed the Australian Capital Territory's Legislative Assembly in Canberra June 7.

The proposal, he said, "is poor public policy" that will not make children safer and amounts to a "renegotiation of the relationship between church and state."

He also said that following many cases of abuse, "there is a thirst for the church's blood" as well as a "desire to punish the Catholic Church and a desire to show the Catholic Church who is in charge."

"In other words, it's almost being said implicitly. 'For a long time, you tried to tell us what to do. Now, because of what's happened, we will tell you what to do.' So, it's a kind of a public humiliation of the church but it is one that we have brought upon ourselves. So self-pity doesn't take us very far," Archbishop Coleridge said. 

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Pope: Individual bishops must decide about Communion in mixed marriages

Top Stories - Thu, 06/21/2018 - 6:36pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM GENEVA (CNS) -- The question of allowing Protestants married to Catholics to receive Communion at Mass in special cases has to be decided by each individual bishop and cannot be decided by a bishops' conference, Pope Francis told reporters after a one-day ecumenical journey to Geneva.

During an inflight news conference June 21, the pope was asked about his recent decision requesting the Catholic bishops' conference of Germany not publish nationwide guidelines for allowing Communion for such couples.

He said the guidelines went beyond what is foreseen by the Code of Canon law "and there is the problem." The code does not provide for nationwide policies, he said, but "provides for the bishop of the diocese (to make a decision on each case), not the bishops' conference."

"This was the difficulty of the debate. Not the content," he said.

Cardinal-designate Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had written the bishops that "the Holy Father has reached the conclusion that the document has not matured enough to be published."

Pope Francis expanded on that by saying it will have to be studied more. He said he believed what could be done is an "illustrative" type of document "so that each diocesan bishop could oversee what the Code of Canon Law permits. There was no stepping on the brakes," he said.

The bishops' conference can study the issue and offer guidelines that help each bishop handle each individual case, he said.

MORE TO COME

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