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Posted on 08/24/2019 06:00 AM (Catholic Online > theFeed)
Posted on 08/24/2019 06:00 AM (Catholic Online > theFeed)
Posted on 08/24/2019 06:00 AM (Catholic Online > theFeed)
Posted on 08/24/2019 06:00 AM (Catholic Online > Prayer of the Day)
Posted on 08/24/2019 03:00 AM (CNA Daily News)
Washington D.C., Aug 23, 2019 / 07:00 pm (CNA).- Medical professionals do not give up their right to conscience protections upon accepting a job, Catholic healthcare organizations have argued in support of new rules issued by the Department of Health and Human Services.
In legal briefs filed Aug. 21 on behalf of four non-profit organizations, including the National Catholic Bioethics Center and the Catholic Medical Association, the groups argue that medical professionals should not be forced to perform procedures or refer patients for procedures to which they are morally opposed.
The cases concern the Conscience Rights in Health Care Rule, first announced in May. The rule mandates that institutions receiving federal money be certified that they comply with more than two dozen laws protecting conscience and religious freedom rights, including a doctor’s right to refuse to participate in abortion or so-called gender reassignment surgery.
State attorneys general have filed several suits against the rule, with California AG Xavier Becerra calling it dangerous to American lives and part of “a war being waged on access to health care across our country.”
Dennis Herrera, city attorney for San Francisco, wrote that “hospitals are no place to put personal beliefs above patient care,” and that “refusing treatment to vulnerable patients should not leave anyone with a clear conscience.”
After the “significant litigation,” HHS announced last month that the rule would not come into effect until November 22.
Roger Severino, the director of the Office for Civil Rights at HHS, said in a statement last July that the rule is simply an enforcement mechanism for policies that have existed for years.
“The rule gives life and enforcement tools to conscience protection laws that have been on the books for decades,” he said in a statement provided to CNA.
“Protecting conscience and religious freedom fosters greater diversity in the healthcare space. We will defend the rule vigorously.”
The briefs were filed by Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing the four organizations in the cases City and County of San Francisco v. Azar, and State of New York v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“Conscience rights are not limited based on one’s professional status. The argument that too many health care workers’ consciences would be protected under the HHS Conscience Rule shows a misunderstanding of the fundamental rights we have historically protected—beginning with the guarantees of the First Amendment,” the submissions argue.
These conscience rights are “paramount,” they said, no matter what a person’s job may be, and that “decades of Supreme Court caselaw teach that complicity in an act creates an unconstitutional conscience burden.”
Removing conscience rights from medical professionals would force them to sacrifice their “core convictions,” said ADF Legal Counsel Denise Harle.
“That’s why protecting the freedom to live and work consistent with one’s conscience is critical: It is at the heart of what motivates many who enter the medical field, a profession full of individuals who dedicate their lives to healing and doing no harm,” she said.
Harle said she believes the rule is “constitutionally sound” as well as “consistent with related federal laws.”
ADF also observed that Congress has passed multiple laws, with the support of both major political parties, that protect health care professionals from being forced to violate their consciences. These protections, however, are not often supported on the state level— as evidenced by the lawsuits and the 13 state attorneys general who previously denounced conscience protection regulations.
Kevin Theriot, vice president of the ADF Center for Life, said in a statement that the rule was “commonsense” and simply worked to enforce existing conscience protections.
“Despite clear constitutional principles assuring respect for conscience, nurses, doctors, pharmacists, and health care providers have faced discrimination and even have lost their jobs because of their commitment to saving life,” said Theriot.
“The government may not pick and choose which views deserve protection.”
Posted on 08/24/2019 01:02 AM (CNA Daily News)
Karala, India, Aug 23, 2019 / 05:02 pm (CNA).- Just a year after devastating floods swept through Kerala, India, the state is again facing devastating flooding.
Indian officials said that heavy rains this month have resulted in landslides and flash floods. According to ucanews, 100 people in Kerala have been killed and 1,115 homes have been destroyed.
According to the Indian Express, over 150,000 people have been relocated to one of the 1,221 relief camps in Kerala.
Father George Vettikattil, secretary of the Justice, Peace and Development Commission of the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council, said 300 church institutions are being used as relief camps for about 45,000 people. Like last year, he said, Catholic fishing communities are also using their boats for rescue missions.
“We have opened all our institutions to accommodate needy people in temporary and safe accommodation,” he told Vatican News.
Vettikattill told ucanews that “the destruction is less than last year.” In 2018, the monsoon season was the worst Kerala had seen in nearly a century. The natural disaster took over 400 lives and damaged 75,000 homes.
Families are still working to rebuild after last year’s floods.
Vettikattill said many people have offered money and volunteer work to help rebuilt the community. Caritas India alone has carried out $4 million worth of rebuilding efforts, including a loan program to help families buy goats, which can then be used to sell milk. In three years, the families are expected to repay the diocese with a baby lamb.
The loans help, but they are not enough, according to Kunjumol and Velayudhan, one couple participating in the program. They said the income from the goat’s milk will not be enough to rebuild their damaged home. They believe the government must do more to assist.
“The government has almost abandoned us,” he said, according to ucanews. “Some officials came and asked us questions but we got none of the benefits the government promised in the media.”
Posted on 08/24/2019 00:43 AM (CNA Daily News)
Wheeling, W.V., Aug 23, 2019 / 04:43 pm (CNA).- After nearly a year without a bishop, due to the scandal-ridden former Bishop Michael Bransfield, the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston in West Virginia has a new shepherd, who was installed at a Mass yesterday on the feast of the Queenship of Mary.
Hundreds of Catholics, hopeful for a fresh start, came from throughout the diocese to fill the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling for the 2+ hour Mass and glimpse their new leader, Bishop Mark Brennan. Thousands more tuned in to the event via a Facebook live stream posted by the diocese.
“It's a new beginning. We hope it's a new beginning,” Joe Herrick, a Catholic who attended the Mass, told a local Fox News affiliate.
“We're very hopeful for the future. I'm really praying Bishop Brennan will be able to lead us and mend the flock together so we can be one.”
Brennan, who gave the homily, did not hesitate to address the tumultuous year that both the diocese and the universal Church have experienced.
“My friends, the ‘people walked in darkness’ and ‘dwelt in the land of gloom’. Those words of Isaiah, referring to enemy armies oppressing the kingdom of Israel, are an apt description for how many Catholics in this country have felt over the past year and how many West Virginia Catholics have felt for even longer,” Brennan said on Thursday, Aug. 22 at his installation Mass.
While he did not specifically name Bransfield, Brennan spoke of the diocese’s “painful past” and the “crisis” it now faces as a result of the scandals.
“The scandals we have learned about have caused painful disappointment, confusion, anger and distrust of Church leaders,” he said.
In September 2018, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield from the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston while an investigation was launched regarding allegations of financial and sexual misconduct against him. Archbishop William E. Lori was appointed apostolic administrator of the diocese in the interim.
Bransfield, who had been bishop of the diocese since 2004, reportedly sexually harassed, assaulted and coerced seminarians, priests, and other adults during his time there. He is also reported to have used diocesan funds to make large financial gifts to other bishops and to pay for personal luxuries. According to a report from the Washington Post, concerns about Bransfield’s finances were raised as early as 2012 and were evidently ignored for years by some bishops who were the recipients of these gifts.
In July 2019, after assessing the investigation into Bransfield by Lori, the Vatican announced sanctions against Bransfield, including that he is no longer allowed to participate in public Masses or to live within his former diocese. He is also expected to “make personal amends” for his wrongs, Pope Francis said in a communique.
“Behavior has consequences, and there are consequences to bad behavior in the past that will have to be dealt with,” Brennan said in his homily. “That is one of my responsibilities and I assure you that I will meet it.”
But still, there is hope, the new bishop added. “...Isaiah’s message to an oppressed people does not end in the darkness. Hear it again: ‘The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone,’” he said.
“My friends, it takes no humility on my part to admit that I am not the light,” Brennan said, provoking laughter from the congregation. Instead, he said, it is the light of Christ that will lead the diocese out of these “dark times” and into a future of hope.
“The light of Christ beckons us to move now from the painful past toward him, not in denial but in confidence that the Lord will supply us with the wisdom and strength to do things better, to live our faith with greater integrity and to reflect more brightly, as far as our human weakness and limitations will permit, his own enduring light,” he said.
Brennan acknowledged numerous groups of people whom he said have already been lights in the darkness, including parents who continue to catechize their children, Catholic school and religious education teachers who do the same, parish priests who faithfully administer the sacraments, as well as diocesan chancery workers and faithful young people.
“Christ’s light has been shining in the darkness through all of them and, as St. John says in his Gospel, the darkness has not overcome it. I thank God for these faithful West Virginia Catholics,” he said.
The scandals may also have driven some people away from the Church, Brennan said, but he encouraged Catholics in the diocese to look to their roots circa the Civil War - when West Virginia seceded from Virginia in order to remain in the Union - for inspiration to remain united in faith.
“When the dark clouds of secession were rolling over the State of Virginia in the spring of 1861, the people of these western mountains chose to remain in the United States of America. They would not break their unity with Ohio and Pennsylvania, Michigan and Kentucky. They petitioned Congress to admit them as the State of West Virginia, which Congress did in 1863,” he said.
“Many of their sons—the ancestors of some here present — fought to maintain the integrity of the Union.”
He urged Catholics of today to fight for that same unity in the Church.
“Unity with one another and with God is what the Lord wants for us— and what, in our hearts, we truly desire,” he said.
“One man told me not long ago that he stopped going to Mass in his parish because of the recent scandals but then he asked himself: who was he helping by doing that? No one. Who was he hurting? Himself. He has since returned to Mass, still eager to see the Church address its failings and bring about lasting reform but conscious that walking away doesn’t help,” he added.
“As Simon Peter said to the Lord when some disciples were leaving Jesus because of hard teachings, ‘Lord to whom shall we go? You alone have the words of eternal life.’” The Blessed Virgin Mary is another example of someone who said “yes” to the Lord despite difficult circumstances, Brennan said.
“...like Mary, we can let God fulfill his purpose in us and not let the darkness return to cover the earth. We can right the wrongs of the past and move on to make Christ known, helping our neighbor in need and remaining united in faith and love,” he said.
“West Virginia Catholics: cherish your faith and the holy Church that has nurtured it,” he added.
“Make Mary’s ‘yes’ to God your own and work with me and your brothers and sisters to let the light of Christ be a light brightly visible in the mountains and valleys, the city streets and country roads of this beautiful part of God’s creation: West Virginia.”
Posted on 08/24/2019 00:23 AM (CNA Daily News)
Sao Paulo, Brazil, Aug 23, 2019 / 04:23 pm (CNA).- Catholics groups in the Amazon have expressed concern over the wave of forest fires that have been ravaging the region.
The NGO Manos Unidas decried the “risks and assaults the Amazon is suffering, which bring with them an accelerated deforestation, toward the increasingly closer point of ‘no return,’ at which time the disappearance of this ‘green lung’ of humanity will already be irreversible.”
In a statement posted on their webpage, the group reported that the situation is especially serious in Brazil, where in 2019 alone the number of wildfires has increased 82% for a total of 71,497 fires, 54% of which are in the Amazon region.
The NGO considers this especially serious within the context of climate change since “the variations in the rainfall cycles and temperatures are already seriously altering the ecosystems.”
The fires that have occurred in recent weeks add to other “threats to the Amazon” and that have a special impact “in the most deforested areas, where economic interests meet the most weakened natural environments,” they said.
Manos Unidas warned that the area is also threatened by “the uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources to obtain minerals or fuels and the extension of the agricultural frontier for single crop farming or extensive livestock production.”
The Secretary General of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Alonso Miranda, expressed the Church’s concern and called for support with prayers and material aid.
On Twitter, Bishop Miranda said that the forest fires “are not just a regional emergency, it’s a catastrophe that urgently requires international aid.”
“Please, let us lend our support with prayer, national and international material and technological aid,” he said.
In addition to natural causes, many of the blazes begin when farmers start fires to clear or maintain farmland and pastures.
On the afternoon of August 21, black clouds produced by multiple fires reached Sao Paulo, the largest city in Brazil, darkening the sky around 2:00 p.m. local time.
Fires have also been recorded in the forested areas of Bolivia and Paraguay, and it is feared they may occur in Peru.
According to NASA, “it is not unusual to see fires in Brazil at this time of year due to high temperatures and low humidity. Time will tell if this year is a record breaking or just within normal limits.”
“In the Amazon region, fires are rare for much of the year because wet weather prevents them from starting and spreading. However, in July and August, activity typically increases due to the arrival of the dry season.”
The Archbishop of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, Sergio Gualberti Calandrina, called on the parishes in the archdiocese of hold a day of prayer Sunday, August 25, for the victims of the Amazon fires, asking God for rain and to “raise awareness for the care of our Common Home, everyone’s task.”
Archbishop Gualberti said that “as Christians we cannot remain indifferent,” especially given the Synod on the Amazon called by Pope Francis, which will be held at the Vatican in October.
The Archbishop of Santa Cruz asked that the ecological disaster “awaken a greater awareness that the destiny of present and future generations is closely linked to the destiny of nature, a creation of God and that we decisively assume the care of creation.”
So far in Brazil, the fire has devastated more than 1.2 million acres of forests, crops and grasslands, generating carbon monoxide contamination in nearby areas. The states of Acre and Amazonas have been declared to be in an environmental emergency.
In Bolivia, Vice President Álvaro García Linera said the fires have affected some 1.48 million acres in Chiquitanía, in the Santa Cruz administrative district.
This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
Posted on 08/23/2019 22:45 PM (CNA Daily News)
Cincinnati, Ohio, Aug 23, 2019 / 02:45 pm (CNA).- A Cincinnati news station is reporting on the contents of a letter, sent to Archbishop Dennis Schnurr and Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Binzer in August 2018, accusing them of ignoring “red flags” related to a priest now indicted on nine counts of rape.
"What are we to do with these 'red flags' about Father [Geoff] Drew?" the parishioner wrote, addressing auxiliary Bishop Binzer.
"They were brought to your attention on many occasions and your response was to place Fr. Drew in a parish with the largest Catholic grade school in the state! I can't be the only one to see the irony in this."
Fr. Geoff Drew was arrested Aug. 19 on allegations dating back 20 years, which concern Drew’s time as music minister at St. Jude parish, prior to his ordination as a priest. The accusations concern abuse said to have taken place over two years, when the reported victim was 10 and 11 years old. If convicted, the priest could face life in prison.
The priest entered a “not guilty” plea at his Aug. 21 arraignment.
Because she considers the priest a flight risk, Common Pleas Court Judge Leslie Ghiz set Drew’s bond at $5 million. He remains incarcerated.
Local news station WCPO reported that in the letter in question, a longtime lay leader at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish told Schnurr he had failed to deliver on his promise of being "unequivocally committed" to children and that the church had ignored "red flags" about Father Drew.
WCPO reported that the author of the letter is a mother of three children who attended St. Maximilian Kolbe in Liberty Township, where Drew was pastor from 2009 to mid-2018.
CNA reported earlier this month that complaints were raised to at least one archdiocesan official about Drew’s inappropriate behavior with teenage and pre-teenage boys as early as 2013. Complaints were made to auxiliary bishop Joseph Binzer, who is the archdiocesan vicar general, in 2013 and 2015.
Binzer referred the complaints to law enforcement, who found no evidence of criminal activity. Binzer did not, however, notify the archdiocesan personnel board or Archbishop Dennis Schnurr about the multiple complaints he had received against Drew. The allegations were also reportedly not recorded by Binzer in the priest’s personnel file.
In early 2018, Drew applied for a transfer to St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish in Green Township, which is attached to the largest Catholic school in the archdiocese. As head of priest personnel, Bishop Binzer was in charge of the process that considers requests and proposals for reassignment, in conjunction with the priest personnel board. Neither the board nor the archbishop were made aware of the multiple complaints against Drew, and the transfer was approved.
Archbishop Schnurr released a public letter Aug. 17, 2018, following the announcement of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, which detailed hundreds of cases of historical clerical sexual abuse. Schnurr wrote that there were no active cases of clerical abuse of minors anywhere in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and that the archdiocese is “committed to transparency."
Schnurr’s letter— as well as Drew’s successful transfer— prompted the St. Maximilian Kolbe parishioner to write hers, WCPO reported.
The archdiocese referred the letter to the Butler County Prosecutor's Office, which determined that Drew’s behavior was inappropriate but not criminal, WCPO reported.
One month after Drew’s arrival at his new parish, a parishioner at his previous church resubmitted a 2015 complaint made about the priest. The complaint was again reported to Butler County officials, but this time it was also brought to the attention of Archbishop Schnurr.
The priest was asked to restrict his involvement with the school and was assigned to meet regularly with a “monitor,” but school faculty and administration were not told about these restrictions, or the reasons for them.
The archdiocese removed Drew from ministry last month, after allegations surfaced that he had sent a series of inappropriate text messages to a 17-year-old boy. The archdiocese then confirmed a history of similar allegations against Drew.
Drew worked as music minister at the parish of St. Jude in Bridgetown, Ohio, from 1984-1999. During that time he was also a music teacher at Elder High School until 1991. He entered seminary in 1999, and was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in 2004.
The archdiocesan statement, issued Aug. 19, emphasized that neither the archdiocese, nor Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis Schnurr were aware of the rape allegations at the time of Drew’s removal last month.
Despite the long history of allegations made against the priest, Archdiocese of Cincinnati spokesman Mike Schafer told local reporters that archdiocesan officials were “stunned” by the rape charges.
“We were stunned," Schafer said Aug. 21. “Just stunned.”
Following the initial reports of Drew's removal from ministry, Bishop Binzer resigned from the USCCB’s committee on child and youth protection, which advises the bishops’ conference on all matters related to safe environment policy and child protection. Binzer was removed from some of his responsibilities in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, and could face an internal Church investigation for his handling of the allegations.
Posted on 08/23/2019 22:00 PM (CNA Daily News)
Minneapolis, Minn., Aug 23, 2019 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- A federal court has reversed a decision dismissing a lawsuit brought against the Minnesota Human Rights Act. In a decision issued Friday, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated claims that the law violates free speech and freedom of religion in a case brought by two Christian filmmakers who refused to make same-sex wedding videos.
The case was brought by Carl and Angel Larsen, the owners Telescope Media Group, both of whom are devout Christians. The Larsen’s intended to expand their business by filming weddings, but were told by state officials that if they produced films celebrating marriages in accord with their own beliefs, they would also have to create films promoting same-sex marriage.
Jeremy Tedesco, senior counsel at the Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented the Larsens, called the decision a “significant win.”
“The government shouldn’t threaten filmmakers with fines and jail time to force them to create films that violate their beliefs. Carl and Angel work with all people; they just don’t create films promoting all messages,” Tedesco said in a statement.
“All creative professionals should be free to create art consistent with their convictions without the threat of government punishment.”
The initial suit was dismissed by the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis and appealed to the 8th Circuit in October, 2018. The Larson’s told the court that they “gladly work with all people—regardless of their race, sexual orientation, sex, religious beliefs, or any other classification.”
Because they are Christians, the Larsons said they only decline requests for their services that conflict with their religious beliefs, including any that, in their view, “promote any conception of marriage other than as a lifelong institution between one man and one woman.”
The 2018 Minnesota Human Rights Act prohibits vendors from “to intentionally refusing to do business with, to refuse to contract with, or to discriminate in the basic terms, conditions, or performance of the contract because of a person’s . . . sexual orientation.”
According to the state’s argument, the law regulates the Larsen’s business conduct and not their speech, and they would need to make both traditional marriage and same-sex wedding films, or none at all in order to comply, otherwise they could face tens of thousands of dollars in penalties and up to 90 days in jail.
In the decision published Aug. 23, the 8th Circuit held that the First Amendment prevented the Larsons from being compelled to “mouth support for views they find objectionable,” and that their film productions are a form of free speech protected by the Bill of Rights, saying that “the videos they do wish to produce will convey a message designed to affect public attitudes and behavior.”
The judges also cited the Supreme Court decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in which a Christian baker refused to create custom wedding cakes for same-sex couples.
“If Minnesota were correct,” the judges wrote, “it could use the MHRA to require a Muslim tattoo artist to inscribe ‘My religion is the only true religion’ on the body of a Christian if he or she would do the same for a fellow Muslim, or it could demand that an atheist musician perform at an evangelical church service.”
The decision orders the District Court to review the case again, and to consider if the Larson’s case merits a preliminary injunction against the state law.