Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

Catholics must reject social media anti-Semitism, Indiana bishop says

Fort Wayne, Ind., Feb 25, 2020 / 08:00 pm (CNA).- The Catholic Church has “firmly condemned” anti-Semitism, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana said Feb. 19, warning against theological errors and “false and hateful” rhetoric against Jews on social media.

“Unfortunately, there has been a rise in recent years of anti-Jewish and anti-Semitic rhetoric in our society,” the bishop said in a statement published in the diocesan newspaper Today's Catholic. “Further, there have been incidents of violence incited by hateful speech about Jews. The Church has firmly condemned such rhetoric and violence. Those who speak of Jews as our enemies are mistaken.”

“Pope St. Paul VI, Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis have consistently referred to our Jewish brothers and sisters as 'friends' whom we love and esteem, not as enemies or adversaries whom we reject,” he said. “Language matters. Language that incites animosity is harmful.”

Bishop Rhoades did not mention specific incidents or personalities.

In October 2018, a gunman attacked the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh during morning Shabbat services. Shouting anti-Semitic slogans, the attacker killed eight men and three women. He also injured six others, including four policemen. He was wounded and surrendered to police. He had previously posted anti-Semitic comments and criticized Jewish aid for migrants, whom he denigrated as “invaders.”

In Poway, California in April 2019, a shooter attacked Chabad of Poway Synagogue on the last day of Passover. The attacker killed one woman and injured three people, including the rabbi. The attacker had published an anti-Semitic manifesto before the attack, and also claimed responsibility for an arson attack on a California mosque.

In December 2019 in Jersey City, New Jersey two gunmen shot and killed four people, including two Orthodox Jews, at a cemetery and kosher supermarket. Local authorities said preliminary evidence indicated the suspects held views that reflected hatred against Jews.

Bishop Rhoades' comments warned of errors and hateful rhetoric about Jews.

“Some writers today do not present Jews or Judaism in a respectful or theologically correct manner,” he said. “In this age of social media, people read or listen to all kinds of opinions expressed about Judaism and the Jewish people on internet blogs, websites, and the like. Some are filled with false and hateful rhetoric, opposed to the very spirit of Christianity. As Catholics, we must reject any that express, or can lead to, contempt for Jews.”

To this, Rhoades added “the Catholic Church offers no shelter to anti-Jewish bias, regardless of its content or expression. This applies to racist statements against Jews, to anti-Semitism, or to any religious opinion that denigrates Jews or Judaism.”

Rhoades acknowledged disagreement between Christians and Jews on matters of faith, “but such disagreements need not imply hostility,” he said.

“The only truly Christian attitude towards the Jewish people is an attitude of respect, esteem, and love,” Rhoades continued. “As members of God’s family, we are bound to one another in His plan of salvation.”

He described a November 2019 gathering at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Fort Wayne, where over 1,000 Jews and Christians gathered for the “Violins of Hope” event. The event's musical instruments included violins used by Jewish prisoners in Nazi concentration camps and both Jewish and Catholic choirs sang. The audience prayed the Psalms together.

This event, said Rhoades, “brought us tears of both sadness and joy — sadness at the horrors of the Holocaust, and joy at the love we share as brothers and sisters, drawn together by a common spiritual patrimony.”

The bishop also delivered a theological and historical reflection.

“We recognize that the anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism of past centuries contributed to the rise of the Nazi project to exterminate Jews,” he said. He cited the Second Vatican Council's document Nostra Aetate, which condemned “all hatreds, persecutions, displays of antisemitism leveled at any time or from any source against the Jews.” The document urged careful catechesis and preaching about Jews.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches “The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God’s revelation in the Old Testament,” the bishop said.

“We must never forget that Judaism was the religion of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the apostles, and of the early disciples who spread the good news of Christ to the world,” said Rhoades. “The four gospels were written by Jews, about a Jew and originally for a Jewish readership. The Jewish people, then, are Jesus’ own family.”

“Though many Jews did not accept the Gospel or opposed its spreading, they were not thereby rejected by God,” said the bishop, who emphasized the Second Vatican Council's rejection of the claim that all Jews were “Christ-killers”

“Even though the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ (cf. John 19:6), neither all Jews indiscriminately at that time, nor Jews today, can be charged with the crimes committed during his passion,” Nostra Aetate said.

Rhoades noted that the Catholic Catechism teaches that all human beings are responsible for the death of Jesus.

“The Jews are not our enemies. We are bound together with them in friendship as brothers and sisters in the family of God,” said Rhoades.

He invoked the example of Pope Francis' 2016 visit to the synagogue of Rome. The pope's remarks stressed as fundamental to inter-religious dialogue the Christian and Jew's encounter of each other “as brothers and sisters before our Creator,” their praise for God, and their mutual respect, appreciation, and attempts at cooperation.

“This is especially important as the Church and the Jewish communities continue to address religious and ethical questions that both face in a world intent upon challenging religious freedom,” Rhoades said. “Jews and Christians can impact society profoundly when they stand together on key issues such as the sanctity of human life, immigration reform, health care, human trafficking and world peace.”

“Even as we Catholics profess our belief in Christ as the Messiah, the Son of God, and Savior of the world, we also recognize God’s unfailing, steadfast love for His chosen people, Israel,” the bishop said. In our mission of preaching Christ to the world, we do not dismiss or reject the spiritual treasures of the Jewish people.”

“Let us give thanks to God for the growth in trust and friendship established between Catholics and Jews since the Second Vatican Council,” the bishop's statement concluded. “May the Lord accompany us on our journey of friendship and bless us with His peace!”

 

US Supreme Court rules in favor of border patrol agent in cross-border shooting

Washington D.C., Feb 25, 2020 / 07:19 pm (CNA).- The US Supreme Court has issued a ruling in the case of a border patrol agent who shot and killed a Mexican boy across the border a decade ago. The court ruled 5-4 in favor of the agent, finding that court precedent allowing lawsuits against federal officers do not apply to cross-border shootings.

At the U.S.-Mexico border in 2010, three Mexican boys were playing a game of “chicken” by seeing who would run the closest to the border. Fifteen-year-old Sergio Hernandez crossed the border, and border patrol agent Jesus Mesa Jr. noticed him.

As Hernandez ran back into a culvert between the walls on either side of the border, the agent fired two shots, one of which struck Hernandez in the face and killed him.

Mesa claimed the boys were engaged in an illegal border-crossing attempt, and also that they were throwing rocks at him.

The Justice Department conducted an investigation of the incident and found that, while expressing regret over the boy’s death, Mesa had not violated policy or training, and the DOJ declined to bring charges against him.

Mexico requested that Mesa be extradited for the killing, but the Obama administration refused. Hernandez’s family sued for damages, claiming that the Fourth Amendment protects against such use of force on the border.

The Supreme Court had begun hearing oral arguments in the case during February 2017, and at that time declined to rule on the case. Oral arguments began again during November 2019.

The Fourth Circuit had dismissed the case, saying, “the plaintiffs fail to allege a violation of the Fourth Amendment, and that the Fifth Amendment right asserted by the plaintiffs was not clearly established at the time of the complained-of incident.” That court also ruled that as a Mexican citizen on Mexican soil, Hernandez was not entitled to Fourth Amendment protection.

In the 1971 opinion Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, the Supreme Court held that a person claiming to be the victim of an unlawful arrest and search could bring a Fourth Amendment claim for damages against the responsible agents even though no federal statute authorized such a claim.

However, the Supreme Court declined to extend that precedent to the current case for several reasons, one of which was the potential effect on foreign relations.

A “cross-border shooting is by definition an international incident,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the court’s opinion, adding that the executive and legislative branches, rather than the judicial branch, ought to be entrusted with matters related to foreign relations.

He also wrote that “since regulating the conduct of agents at the border unquestionably has national security implications, the risk of undermining border security provides reason to hesitate before extending Bivens into this field.”

Justice Clarence Thomas noted in a concurring opinion that the Bivens case may have been wrongly decided in the first place.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented, writing that the parents’ lawsuit does not endanger border security or U.S. foreign policy, and opining that the majority rejected the family’s Fourth and Fifth Amendment claims only because Hernandez happened to be on the Mexican side when he died.

The Border Patrol drastically changed its use of force policies in the years after the shooting, following several complaints of excessive force, the Associated Press reports.

S. Dakota dioceses focus on healing, after statute of limitations bill fails

Pierre, S.D., Feb 25, 2020 / 06:01 pm (CNA).- The South Dakota legislature has killed a bill that would have opened a two-year window for childhood victims of sexual abuse of all ages to sue the organizations in which their abuse took place.

The bill would have been an expansion of current South Dakota law on the statute of limitations for abuse cases, which allows victims of childhood abuse up to the age of 40 to sue organizations, such as Catholic dioceses.

According to the AP, the legislature heard testimony in favor of the bill from some of the surviving members of a group of nine biological sisters who allege that they were sexually abused by priests and nuns at an Indian mission school.

The Charbonneau sisters have been unsuccessfully lobbying to expand the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse in South Dakota for nearly 10 years, the AP reported. The sisters allege they were the victims of rape and abuse by clergy and nuns at St. Paul’s Indian Mission School on the Yankton Reservation in South Dakota while they attended during the 1950s and 1960s.

In the past year, following a new wave of Church sex abuse scandals in the United States and throughout the world, multiple states and countries have repealed or extended their statutes of limitations in order to allow more time for victims of childhood abuse to come forward.

Officials with the dioceses of Sioux Falls and Rapid City told CNA that regardless of the civil law, the dioceses were prepared to offer help to victims in the form of counseling and spiritual accompaniment.

“The Church recognizes God's law as superior to all other laws. And for that reason, if there's going to be any person coming forward that feels they've been harmed at the hand of the minister of the Church, out of her moral obligation we will respond and do all that we can to assist that person, regardless of what the statutes and civil law says,” Matt Althoff, chancellor of the Diocese of Sioux Falls, told CNA.

Althoff said that sexual abuse creates a “woundedness” in people’s souls, and that the diocese offers psychological counseling as well as spiritual direction in order to help victims heal. He said anyone who has been wounded by the Church is welcome to seek out those services regardless of when the abuse took place.

Father Michel Mulloy, administrator of the Diocese of Rapid City, told CNA he also hoped for “reconciliation and healing for anyone who has experienced any wrong. I believe that the one who can give that reconciliation and healing is Jesus Christ.”

“All I attempt to do in my ministry is to bring people to the cross of Jesus Christ and to accompany them in seeking and receiving the reconciliation and healing that Jesus can and, I believe, does want to give.”

Detroit Catholics say archdiocese fabricated rape charge against pastor

Detroit, Mich., Feb 25, 2020 / 06:00 pm (CNA).- A group of Detroit Catholics has filed a lawsuit claiming that the Archdiocese of Detroit fabricated an allegation of rape against their pastor in order to avoid media criticism about its handling of abuse allegations, and has mishandled the canonical case against him. 

The Archdiocese of Detroit said it can not speak on the specifics of the case, but that it takes allegations of clerical abuse very seriously.

The lawsuit alleges that an archdiocesan official “twisted...allegations and fabricated a rape charge against Fr. Perrone in order to force the AOD to remove Fr. Perrone, and, thereby, shield the AOD and [Msgr. Michael] Bugarin from a negative AP story.”

“Like Fr. Perrone, Plaintiffs are devout, traditional Roman Catholics. They were severely shocked, shamed, embarrassed, and humiliated by the accusations against their priest and friend, Fr. Perrone.”

In July 2019, Fr. Eduard Perrone was temporarily removed from ministry as pastor of Assumption Grotto Parish in Detroit, amid an allegation that he had groped a former altar boy. The priest denied the allegation.

After a preliminary investigation, the archdiocesan review board “found that there was a semblance of truth to the allegation,” Monsignor Mike Bugarin of the Detroit archdiocese told CNA July 9.

According to the Archdiocese of Detroit, “If the Review Board finds a complaint credible, it sends notice to Archbishop Vigneron, who forwards the case to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), which reviews and renders judgments in all cases involving the sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults by clergy.”

In Perrone’s case, a July 7 statement from the archdiocese announced that the review board had deemed an allegation against him to be credible, and that “further determination on the matter now falls to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”

But Brien Dux, the lead plaintiff in the case, told CNA Feb. 17 that he believes Perrone’s case “has not been sent to the Vatican.”

“Our complaint is not with the Vatican process,” Dux told CNA. “If the case was sent to the Vatican as we were told it would be, we probably would not be filing this lawsuit.”

A CDF official told CNA that the congregation already has an open file on the case. But Perrone’s attorney, Christopher Kolmjec, said that while aspects of the case might have been sent to the CDF, he believes that Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit has not yet sent to the Vatican his vota, an essential aspect of the case file that ordinarily is required before the CDF makes a decision about how the case should be handled.

For its part, the Archdiocese of Detroit declined repeatedly to comment on whether all or part of the case has been sent to the Vatican, citing confidentiality.

The Archdiocese of Detroit did tell CNA in July that the complaint which led to Perrone’s removal from ministry concerned the priest’s “earlier years of ministry,” and was the first received against the priest.

After receiving the complaint in 2018, Bugarin said the archdiocese “turned it over not only to the local prosecutor, but also to the Michigan Attorney General’s office.”

Initially, per an agreement between the archdiocese and the six county prosecutors covering the Archdiocese of Detroit’s territory, the complaint was given only to local law enforcement, who began to investigate the claim.

“They in turn continued to do the investigation, until the Michigan Attorney General came in and announced an investigation of the seven dioceses of the state of in the Michigan on the handling of clergy sex abuse crisis,” said Bugarin.

The lawsuit claims that in 2018, the wife of the former altar boy called an archdiocesan hotline to report that her husband had been abused by the priest in the late 1970s.

The alleged victim said that the priest had groped him during swim parties at a family lake house, the Detroit Free Press reported, served minors wine, and hosted boys on rectory and camping overnights.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the alleged victim initially claimed to have been raped, but later changed his story and said he was groped and fondled only. Police reports suggest that allegations changed because the accuser was struggling to tell a painful story, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The lawsuit, on the other hand, claims the alleged victim denied to police that he had ever been sexually abused by Perrone.

The parishioners say the accuser eventually conceded to make any allegation of misconduct only because he was manipulated by Church officials, especially Bugarin, who was allegedly determined to remove Perrone from his ministry.

The suit claims Bugarin “brow beat” the accuser “in an effort to force him to say that he was raped by Fr. Perrone.” When that was unsuccessful, the suit alleges, “Bugarin just fabricated a rape allegation out of desparation and wishful thinking.”

The parishioners claim that Bugarin is the accuser’s “spiritual advisor” and should not have been entrusted with investigating the allegation.

For that reason, and others he declined to enumerate, Kolomjec told CNA that Bugarin has acted unethically in investigating and overseeing the case, and that Perrone’s legal team has “filed an ethics complaint against Msgr. Bugarin and a formal request for his removal as Delegate and investigator from the investigation with the archbishop.”

Parishioners say that Bugarin’s alleged efforts to force an allegation of rape against Perrone “caused Plaintiffs to experience severe emotional distress.”

“Bugarin is not a traditional Catholic and is opposed to many of the Plaintiffs’ views and efforts to reform the Catholic Church. Bugarin knew that Plaintiffs would be especially harmed by the public repudiation of Fr. Perrone. Bugarin and the AOD’s conduct in creating false child-rape allegations against Plaintiffs’ long-time pastor and priest is the type of extreme and outrageous conduct Michigan law recognizes gives rise to a claim in tort,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit also alleges that Perrone “was not provided an opportunity to answer or refute these allegations before the AOD summarily removed him” and announced publicly that it had found a “semblance of truth” to the allegation.

The Archdiocese of Detroit declined to comment on that charge.

After Perrone was removed from ministry, a second accuser came forward to claim that the priest had in 1981 sexually fondled him while the two were riding in a car. Perrone denied that allegation.

The lawsuit claims that the the second accuser “told his story several times but never in the same way, often confusing and contradicting the key facts.” The allegation “was not credible on its face,” the lawsuit says.

The plaintiffs are seeking “damages in excess of $20,000,” Dux told CNA.

Dux said the plaintiffs based their lawsuit upon a lawsuit Perrone himself had filed in Dec. 2019 against a county investigator, who, he claims, defamed him in the course of the investigation.

He added that “the process being followed by Monsignor Bugarin and the Archbishop which is not transparent to us. They stated initially the reason Fr. Perrone was removed was due to a rape allegation, but have since changed their reason to ‘boundary violations.’"

“With Fr. Perrone so close to retirement, and with the duration of the Vatican process, this extensive delay and changing story from the Archdiocese has us concerned there will not be justice,” Dux said.

For his part, Perrone told the Detroit Free Press that he believes the matter is ideological.

“This is an attempt to get me out," the priest said.

Perrone counts among his supporters conservative internet figure Michael Voris, who leads the "Church Militant" website.

In a series of videos released by the site in July, Voris can be seen with Grotto parishioners asking questions of Bugarin. Voris told CNA that he is not now a parishioner at the parish; he said that “when I saw this issue developing into a Story that it was apparent I would have the lead on, I spoke with my associate pastor and officially withdrew from parish membership.”

In the first video, a parishioner asks what Catholics can do to support Perrone. Voris says, “you can’t do anything, that’s the point.”

After accusing the archdiocese of mishandling the announcement of Perrone’s removal, and attempting to engage Bugarin on several points, Voris can be seen walking away from Bugarin in frustration.

In the second video, in response to a remark by Bugarin about the process of investigating cases of clerical misconduct, Voris says that “the process was set up by Theodore McCarrick.”

“The process was set up by a homosexual predator cardinal,” Voris adds.

Asked whether he believes Perrone is being treated fairly, Bugarin says “yes.”

Voris told CNA by email Feb. 19 that he is a supporter of Perrone, both “in general,” and “with SPECIFIC regard to this SPECIFIC case because before it became public, we had done our due diligence and heavily suspected something was not ‘right’ about what we had been told about the ‘accusations.’”

“We KNOW what’s in the file, because we know the background of the case and have spoken with those ‘close’  to John Doe. In short - we know the entire story. The File that Vigneron Has desperately tried to keep hidden - even to the point of being potentially charged with contempt of court over Thanksgiving Day weekend - provides the AoDs own documentation that they know they are lying and this whole case is fraudulent,” Voris added.

“It is correct for these people to not trust the AoD - whatsoever. For example - seven months later, no case has yet been filed with the CDF at all,” Voris said. He told CNA he knows this through “sources in Rome AND AoD.”

Voris added that “IF such a case were to be filed, God knows what pack of lies it would contain. So it’s not really a question of ‘trusting the CDF per se,’ but rather, it depends on what they would believe in good faith is presented to them.”

The July 7 statement of the Detroit archdiocese does not specify the exact nature of the charge against Perrone, calling it “a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.”

The archdiocese declined to comment on the charges made by the lawsuit. But a statement provided to CNA said that “unlike legal cases in civil or criminal law, Church Law does not have or require degrees of sexual misconduct...thus, ‘any sexual abuse of a minor or vulnerable person’ of ‘any nature or degree’ must – under Church Law – proceed through this process.”

“In this process, the Church respects the privacy and personal safety of all involved – those bringing the complaint forward and the accused priest or deacon. Other than public notification that the priest or deacon is currently restricted in his ministry because allegation(s) deemed neither manifestly false nor frivolous are under review, a (arch)diocese is not permitted to discuss any further details of the case.”

“The only process that can resolve a question about an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor or vulnerable person by a priest or deacon in accord with Church Law is a Church Law process, not the civil courts,” the archdiocese added.

Perrone is a co-founder of Opus Bono Sacerdotii, a Michigan charity that in 2018 faced charges that it had misused donations. Two of the group’s founders were forced out of the group in response to the attorney general’s investigation. One was prohibited from ever again operating a non-profit in Michigan.

At the time, Perrone said that he never viewed himself as a director and had no knowledge of Opus Bono’s organizational structure; he considered himself a spiritual adviser to the group.

The group was founded to support priests accused of sexual misconduct and other disciplinary problems in the Church.

 

Senate fails to pass two pro-life bills on same day

Washington D.C., Feb 25, 2020 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- The Senate on Tuesday failed to pass two pro-life bills to protect unborn babies who can feel pain, and babies who survive abortion attempts.

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) would ban abortions after 20 weeks gestation, around the time babies in utero can feel pain.

Sen. Ben Sasse’s (R-Neb.) Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act would require that babies surviving a botched abortion be given the same standard of care as other infants born of the same gestational age.

With votes of 53-44 and 56-41 on Tuesday, the respective bills failed to receive the 60 votes necessary for consideration on the Senate Floor. “Pain-capable” bills that had previously passed the House similarly failed in the Senate in 2015 and 2017, and Graham’s legislation failed in 2018, nine votes short of the 60-vote mark needed to overcome a filibuster and force a final vote on the bill.

Graham’s bill is also named “Micah’s Law,” after seven year-old Micah Pickering who was born prematurely at 22 weeks.

“It gives a face to a name. ‘Micah’s Law’ is not just [about] Micah, but is every little baby that could ever be born,” said Danielle Pickering, Micah’s mother, in an interview with CNA outside the Senate Gallery before the vote.

To the senators voting against the bill, “I would just like to tell them to really think about their grandkids,” she said, “and every little baby that they see out there.”

“For everyone that’s out there, there’s multiple that are just gone, but they’re not forgotten,” Pickering said. “Every single baby has the ability to someday be a person that’s just here like them.”

Sasse’s bill, S. 311, received the support of only three Democrats: Sens. Bob Casey (Pa.), Doug Jones (Ala.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.).

"If the Senate says that it’s ok to ignore born-alive babies what we're really saying is we are okay with a society where some people count more than other people," said Sasse during the debate Tuesday.

"We’d be saying we want a society where some people can be pushed aside if other people decide those folks are inconvenient. A society where we can dispose of you, if you happened to come into the world a certain way."

“Even if you are unwilling to defend unborn babies, I hope that my colleagues would at least consider joining with us in voting to protect babies that have already been born,” Sasse said.

In a statement to CNA on Tuesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said that “protecting the life of a newborn who survived a botched abortion should not be a partisan issue, yet it speaks volumes about how extremism has become mainstream in today’s Democratic Party.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), between 2003 and 2014 there were 143 infant deaths in the U.S. that occurred following a botched abortion. The CDC noted that “it is possible” the actual number is higher.

While the 2002 Born-Alive Infants Protection Act—passed into law with bipartisan support—legally defined babies who survive abortions as persons, Sasse’s 2020 legislation provides enforcement mechanisms against abortionists who fail to provide necessary care to abortion survivors.

The 2002 bill was just a “definitions bill” without penalties, Jill Stanek, national campaign chair of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, explained to CNA.

While notorious Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell was convicted in 2013 on three counts of first-degree murder for cutting the spines of infants, federal law is currently a “gray area” for abortionists who passively allow abortion survivors to die by providing them no care, Stanek said.

The legislation that failed in the Senate on Tuesday provides an enforcement mechanism and is really the “bookend” to the original bill, she said.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement in reaction to the Senate votes, calling the nation’s abortion laws a “license to kill” and noting that the Born Alive bill offered to do nothing more than “prohibit infanticide.”

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said that the Senate “failed to advance two critical human rights reforms that most Americans strongly support.” 

“The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would ban abortions after 20 weeks post-fertilization when a child can certainly feel pain and has a reasonable chance of survival. And the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act helps ensure that Roe v. Wade’s license to kill unborn children does not extend to killing the newborn babies who survive abortion,” Naumann said. 

“It is appalling that even one senator, let alone more than 40, voted to continue the brutal dismemberment of nearly full-grown infants, and voted against protecting babies who survive abortion. Our nation is better than this, and the majority of Americans who support these bills must make their voices heard.”

What do Catholics believe about the Church, the devil, and faith? A new poll sheds light

Washington D.C., Feb 25, 2020 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- A poll released Monday provides new insight into the religious practices, beliefs, and other demographic trends of U.S. Catholics.

Only a small majority of Catholics in the U.S., 56%, say they accept “all” or “most” of what the Church teaches, according to the poll, released Feb. 24 by RealClear Opinion Research. Only 18% say they accept all the Church’s teachings and try to live them out, with another 38% saying they “generally accept most of the Church’s teachings” and try to put them into practice.

A slight majority of Catholics, 51%, believe that religion is “very important” in their own lives, while another 35% deem it to be “somewhat important.”

The research, conducted by polling firm RealClear in partnership with EWTN News, surveyed more than 1,500 Catholics in the U.S. from January 28 through February 4. The poll gathered information on the religious beliefs of Catholics, their political party affiliation, and their frequency of prayer and Mass attendance.

The poll reveals a divide in Catholic acceptance of particular Church teachings.

While more than seven-in-ten Catholics, 72%, believe that certain actions are “intrinsically evil,” a majority do not think that abortion, euthanasia, and physician-assisted suicide are intrinsically evil acts.

The vast majority of Catholics, 81%, however, believe in the existence of Hell, and 78% believe that Satan exists.

A substantial majority of Catholics also do not attend Mass on a weekly basis—although the Church holds that Catholics are required to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation.

35% attend Mass at least once a week—less than one percent attend Mass daily, 5% more than go once a week, and 29% once a week.

Fourteen percent say they attend “once or twice a month,” and 25% “a few times a year,” and 3% “once a year.” Another 15% say they attend Mass less than once a year, and 8% said they never attend Mass. Divides on religious practice and political beliefs were clearly visible between Catholics who say they accept everything the Church teaches, and those who say they only accept “most” or “some” of Church teaching, or who do not think religion to be very important in their lives.

Eighteen percent of U.S. Catholics say they accept all the Church’s teachings, “and that is reflected in how I live my life.”

Within this group, respondents were far more likely than other Catholics to attend Mass weekly or more, 72%. Nearly one-in-three, 31%, of these Catholics pray the rosary daily, and 71% pray daily.

More Catholics who say they accept all of the Church’s doctrine received an undergraduate degree from a religious college or university (49%) than a secular one (43%).

Such Catholics are far more likely than Catholics overall, 63% to 36%, to be aware of the Church’s teaching on the death penalty and Pope Francis’ declaration that it is “inadmissible.” Even so, 61% of Catholics who say they accept all the Church’s teachings support the death penalty, compared to 57% of all Catholics.

On religious freedom issues, Catholics who say they accept all of the Church’s teaching are more likely than Catholics overall, 57% to 45%, to support the rights of religious business owners not to serve a same-sex wedding. They are also more likely, 50% to 41%, to support the freedom of adoption agencies not to match children with same-sex couples.

Demographically, the vast majority of Catholics surveyed hail either from urban, 33%, or suburban, 50% communities, with just 7% from small towns and 10% from rural America.

Just over half, 51%, are married, while 26% have never been married. One in ten Catholics report they are living with a partner, 9% are divorced, and 4% are separated.

 

Supreme Court sends back case against Puerto Rican archdiocese

Washington D.C., Feb 25, 2020 / 12:10 pm (CNA).- The Supreme Court has sent a case concerning the Archdiocese of San Juan, Puerto Rico, back to Puerto Rican courts, overturning a previous decision against the Church which it said would be a First Ammendment violation.

The case involves a lawsuit against the archdiocese over a failed pension fund for Catholic school teachers. The Puerto Rican Supreme Court had ruled that "the Roman Catholic Church" could be recognized as a single legal entity, responsible for all Catholic institutions even if they were separately legally incorporated.

The court announced its decision in Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Juan, Puerto Rico v. Yali Acevedo Feliciano, et al. on Monday, Feb. 24. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the Puerto Rico Supreme Court, and ruled that the Puerto Rico Court of First Instance did not have proper jurisdiction to rule on the case. 

The case concerned the 2016 decision by the Archdiocese of San Juan to terminate a pension plan for employees of Catholic schools in the archdiocese. The pension trust was created in 1979. The case was brought forward by retired and current employees of three schools in the U.S. territory. 

In the initial lawsuit, the defendants were listed as the “Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church of Puerto Rico,” the Archdiocese of San Juan, the schools’ Superintendent, the pension trust, and the three Catholic schools in Puerto Rico. 

After the lawsuit made its way through the Puerto Rico courts, the Puerto Rico Supreme Court found that “if the Trust did not have the necessary funds to meet its obligations, the participating employers would be obligated to pay.” 

When the Puerto Rico Supreme Court remanded the case back to the Puerto Rico Court of First Instance, that court decided that the “Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church in Puerto Rico” was the only entity with separate legal personhood, rather than any of the other defendants. The Archdiocese and other defendants were determined by the Puerto Rico Supreme Court to be a “division or dependency” of the Church as a whole.

The Catholic Church in Puerto Rico was subsequently ordered to make payments to the employees formerly covered by the pension plan, and the Church was required to pay $4.7 million into an a court account. The Puerto Rico Supreme Court also issued an order which required law enforcement to “seize assets and moneys of … the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church, and any of its dependencies, that are located in Puerto Rico.”

When that verdict was appealed to the Puerto Rico Court of Appeals, it was reversed. That court found that “Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church in Puerto Rico” is a “legally nonexistent entity.” Instead, the Puerto Rico Court of Appeals ruled that the Archdiocese of San Juan or the schools themselves would be the ones to make pension payments. 

Following further appeals, the Archdiocese of San Juan petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States to hear their case. The Supreme Court received the petition for writ of certiorari on January 14, 2019.

In the per curiam decision, the Supreme Court returned the case to Puerto Rico, with the added stipulations that the Puerto Rico Court of First Instance lacked jurisdiction in the case. 

The Supreme Court also noted that Puerto Rico Supreme Court decision could violate the First Amendment because it “relied on a special presumption--seemingly applicable only to the Catholic Church…--that all Catholic entities on the Island are ‘merely indivisible fragments of the legal personality that the Catholic Church has.’"

By singling out the Catholic Church, the Puerto Rico Supreme Court “thus violated the fundamental tenet of the Free Exercise Clause” that prohibits unequal treatment of religious beliefs and denominations. 

Justice Samuel Alito wrote a concurring opinion in the case, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, adding commentary on “other important issues that may arise on remand.” 

Alito wrote that the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico erred in its interpretation of past cases in making its decision in the case Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Juan, Puerto Rico v. Yali Acevedo Feliciano.

“The Supreme Court of Puerto Rico held that Ponce decided that in Puerto Rico the Catholic Church is a single entity for the purposes of civil liability. That was incorrect,” wrote Alito.

Alito said that the misinterpretation of the Ponce case would have been enough to reverse the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico’s decision, had the issue regarding proper jurisdiction not been raised, plus the First Amendment violations.

“The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment at a minimum demands that all jurisdictions use neutral rules in determining whether particular entities that are associated in some way with a religious body may be held responsible for debts incurred by other associated entities,” said Alito.

California doubles down on rule forcing Catholic nuns to pay for abortion

Sacramento, Calif., Feb 24, 2020 / 05:20 pm (CNA).- Facing the threat of major cuts to federal HHS funds, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has said the state will not back down from its ban on health insurance plans that exclude abortion, even after federal authorities have sided with Catholic nuns who object to the ban.

The attorney general has accused the federal government of interfering in his state’s sovereign duty to protect women’s “reproductive rights.”

“Clearly, this is a disappointing response by the attorney general,” Stephen J. Greene, the attorney representing the Missionary Guadalupanas of the Holy Spirit religious sisters said in a statement sent to CNA Feb. 24.

“As we have repeatedly stated, our clients, the Guadalupanas, just want their conscience rights (and those of others who may hold different, but sincerely held views, as well) to be respected as provided for under the law.”

“At this point, my clients need to consider their next steps as does the federal government,” said Greene.

The Guadalupanas, whose province is headquartered in Los Angeles, are consecrated Catholic women who live among the poor and needy in inner city and rural areas. Their service includes teaching religion classes and working with destitute Spanish-speaking immigrants.

Their June 2017 complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights alleged that California’s 2014 rules mandating abortion coverage in health plans burdened their conscience rights and compelled them to fund “the practice of abortion on demand for other plan participants,” despite their Catholic beliefs that direct abortion is “gravely contrary to the moral law.”

On Jan. 24, federal officials sided with the Guadalupanas and another complainant, the Skyline Wesleyan Church of La Mesa.

In a document known as a notice of violation, the Office of Civil Rights said that California’s Department of Managed Health Care ignored its specific request to confirm or deny whether it would align its practices to the federal Weldon Amendment, and instead issued a response that “confirms its non-compliance.”

The office gave California 30 days to agree to comply with the law or face limits on federal HHS funds.

The Weldon Amendment, first passed in 2005, bars HHS-appropriated federal funds to state or local governments if they discriminate against institutional or individual healthcare entities, including health insurance plans, that decline to pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for, abortions.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, in a letter to Severino dated Feb. 21, said has said the state will take “no corrective action” in response to the federal notice.

In a Feb. 21 press release, Becerra said “California has the sovereign right to protect women’s reproductive rights.”

“Political grandstanding should never interfere with that,” he added.

Becerra’s letter objected that the notice contradicts a 2016 determination that California was in compliance with the Weldon Amendment, despite complaints from groups like the California Catholic Conference. The attorney general argued that the latest notice “dramatically reinterprets” the amendment and threatens to cut federal funding for vital state programs.

Becerra’s letter to Severino did not mention either the Missionary Guadalupanas or Skyline Wesleyan Church whose legal complaints prompted the HHS action.

For his part, Severino said the Department of Health and Human Services will take appropriate action in response.

“For decades Californians could choose whether or not they wanted abortion-free health insurance coverage until California took away that option,” Severino told CNA Feb. 24.

“HHS is assessing the recent letter from the California Attorney General and all appropriate remedies in light of California’s continued refusal to comply with federal law.”
 
Becerra’s letter echoed the arguments behind the state’s 2014 rule change. California Supreme Court precedent, and California constitutional provisions require protections for “women’s right to privacy and reproductive freedom.” California legislation requires health plans to offer abortion services as part of “basic health care services.”

Only one provider had requested an exemption, he said, and this exemption was granted. This was proof the state was willing to comply with the Weldon Amendment.

Federal action he said, threatens programs like emergency preparedness, infectious disease programs and child welfare programs.

The attorney general requested all evidence related to the Notice of Violation so that California could have a “full and fair opportunity” to refute it. His letter objected that “corrective action” was not specified.

California officials mandated the coverage after two Catholic universities in autumn 2013 announced that they planned to stop paying for employees’ elective abortions and had secured state approval for the new health plans.

Lobbyists from Planned Parenthood wrote to the California Department of Health and Human Services to insist that agency rules be changed to force religious groups to provide coverage for elective abortions, according to emails published in court filings from the Alliance Defending Freedom legal group.

When the Obama administration rejected complaints from groups like the California Catholic Conference, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said the ruling was “contrary to the plain meaning of the law.” They said it was “shocking” that the federal government allowed California to force all employers, including churches, to fund and facilitate elective abortions.

Now the controversy includes the Guadalupanas, who work closely with farm workers and with immigrants.

“They’re wonderful women,” Kevin Eckery, a spokesman for the California Catholic Conference, told CNA Feb. 18. “They just didn’t understand why their conscience rights were being ignored, so they took action for themselves and others.”

Eckery said that the California Catholic Conference is “pleased” that federal action has been taken, but he stressed the need to seek a resolution and to reject partisan political interpretation of objections to the state rule.

“We’re not out to start or continue a culture war. We’re just out to make sure that the beliefs of people like the Guadalupanas are respected,” he said.

“We’re not seeking to cut off federal funds,” he said. “All we’re seeking is a respectful conversation, but one that is now clearly backed by the government which recognizes that this is a violation of conscience rights.”

“We’re interested in simply rolling back to the status quo that existed prior to 2014,” Eckery said.

The HHS Office of Civil Rights estimated that the state mandate wrongly affected at least 35 employer groups serving over 28,000 enrollees, including 13 groups that met California’s definition of religious employer.

California officials framed the federal action as a dispute with President Donald Trump.

“This is extreme presidential overreach and would, if carried out, jeopardize lives of Californians,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Feb. 21. “We will not allow it.”

HHS had announced the action on Jan. 24, the same day that President Donald Trump became the first U.S. president to address the National March for Life in person.

“California’s abortion mandate not only devalues life, but cruelly compels many Californians to support abortion against their will,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, said Jan. 24. “I urge Governor Newsom to reconsider his support for this unlawful policy.”

McCarthy’s office characterized the Weldon Amendment as “a critical federal law crafted to protect the civil rights of Americans who want to live their lives without being discriminated against by the government simply because they are not willing to provide, pay, or cover abortions.”

His office charged that California disregarded the law under the Obama administration and “is forcing health insurance plans to cover abortion.”

McCarthy’s office pointed to a January 2019 ruling that California discriminated against pro-life pregnancy resource centers, violating both the Weldon Amendment and the Coats-Snow Amendment.

US Hispanic Catholics more likely to attend Mass, less likely to vote Trump

Washington D.C., Feb 24, 2020 / 05:00 pm (CNA).- A new poll shows that Hispanics Catholics in the U.S. are more likely to attend weekly Mass and far less likely to support President Trump than other U.S. Catholics.

An EWTN News/RealClear Opinion Research poll published on Monday surveyed 1,512 Catholic registered voters from Jan. 28 through Feb. 4, 2020. The poll asked Catholics about their political affiliation, preferred presidential candidate, religious beliefs and practices, and opinions on life issues such as abortion and euthanasia.

The poll surveyed Catholic voters across various demographics; 37% of the respondents identified as Hispanic.

Politically, Hispanic Catholics are more likely to affiliate with the Democratic Party and to oppose President Trump.

The president’s net approval rating among all Hispanic Catholics is only 29%, nearly 30 points below his net approval from white non-Hispanic Catholics. Nearly half (48%) of Hispanic Catholics say they would never vote for Trump.

A majority, 53%, of Hispanic Catholics are “strongly” or “somewhat” open to voting for a third-party presidential candidate in 2020, up five points from 48% of non-Hispanic Catholics.

They are much more likely to think that the country is on the “wrong track,” with 55% answering that way. Not even one-third say the country is generally headed in the right direction.

Nearly six-in-ten (58%) think the country is worse off financially now than it was four years ago; in comparison, two-thirds of non-Hispanic Catholics (67%) share the opposite sentiment—they think the country is better off financially than four years ago.

As he did with Catholics overall, Joe Biden led the Democratic presidential contenders in support from Hispanic Catholics with 31%. Bernie Sanders registered second place with 28% support, and Michael Bloomberg third with 17%.

Regular religious practice is higher among the demographic; Hispanic Catholics are more likely to attend Mass once or more per week, 39% compared to 32% for non-Hispanic Catholics.

They are more likely to pray the rosary weekly or more frequently—33% of Hispanics to 24% of non-Hispanic Catholics.

And a smaller proportion of Hispanic Catholics (51%) support the death penalty than do non-Hispanic Catholics (60%), and, compared to just 42% of non-Hispanic Catholics, a majority of Hispanic Catholics (51%) believe euthanasia is “intrinsically evil.”

As with U.S. Catholics more broadly, Hispanic Catholics are evenly split on several contentious religious freedom issues, with no clear majority for or against the rights of religious business owners to not serve same-sex weddings—41% support their right not to serve, 40% say they should be required to serve, and 19% say they are not sure.

Hispanic Catholics also registered split perspectives on the rights of religious adoption agencies to not pair children with same-sex couples—37% said the agencies should not be required to do so, 38% said they should be required, and 24% said they are “not sure.”

The rights of parochial schools to make hiring decisions contingent upon employees’ adherence to Church teaching also divided Hispanic Catholic respondents —38% support the rights of the schools, 38% oppose, and 24% are “not sure.”

In line with repsonses from other Catholic demographics, less than half of Hispanic Catholics think abortion and physician-assisted suicide are “intrinsically evil,” with just 48% and 47% answering “yes” to those questions, respectively. They are slightly more likely than non-Hispanic Catholics to say that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, with 54% of Hispanic Catholics saying that compared to 50% of non-Hispanic Catholics.

New poll asks Catholics what they believe about abortion

Washington D.C., Feb 24, 2020 / 04:30 pm (CNA).- While the Catholic Church teaches that procuring an abortion is always immoral, a majority of U.S. Catholics do not believe abortion is intrinsically evil and say it should be legal in all or most cases.

According to a RealClear Opinion Research poll sponsored by EWTN and published on Monday, 47% of Catholics in the U.S. believe abortion is “intrinsically evil,” while a 53% hold otherwise.

A majority -- 51%-- say that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, with 31% saying it should be legal except for late-term cases and 20% saying it should always be legal.

The poll of 1,512 Catholic registered voters was conducted between Jan. 28 - Feb. 4, 2020, and surveyed U.S. Catholic opinion on a range of subjects, including political affiliation, preferred presidential candidate, the morality of abortion, and religious practices.

U.S. Catholics were slightly less likely to support legal abortion than Americans overall. According to 2019 Gallup polling, 25% of Americans think abortion should be “legal under any circumstances,” while 20% of Catholics take that position, according to Monday’s poll.

But while 21% of Americans believe abortion should be “illegal in all” circumstances according to the Gallup poll, only 11% of Catholics think so.

Michael New, a visiting professor of social research and political science at the Catholic University of America, told CNA that religious practice, not self-identification, is the strongest predictor of opinions on abortion.

“What is a much stronger predictor” for Catholics, he said, is “attendance at Mass.”

Among Catholics attending Mass at least weekly, the majority, 55%, answered that abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.

More than one-third of weekly Mass-goers, 35%, said abortion should be illegal except in cases of rape, incest, or “to save the mother’s life.” Twenty percent said that abortion should always be illegal. Meanwhile, 20% of weekly Mass-goers said abortion should be legal in all cases, and 22% said it should be legal except for late-term cases.

Among Catholics who say they accept everything the Catholic Church teaches, and that their lives reflect Church teaching, a substantial number 27% said that abortion should be legal in all cases, and 15% said it should be legal except in cases of late-term abortion. A majority said that abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.

While they remain divided on the question of the legality of abortion, a far greater number of Catholics in who attend Mass weekly or say they accept everything the Catholic Church teaches also believe abortion to be “intrinsically evil,”

More than seven-in-ten Catholics, 71%, who say they accept all the Church’s teachings believe abortion is intrinsically evil. 66% of “weekly-plus” Mass attendees answered the same way—far more than the 47% of Catholics overall who answered this way.

“The term ‘intrinsically evil’ isn’t used all that much” in society, New told CNA, and thus this term might seem “unnecessarily harsh” to describe abortion if Catholics are not well-versed in the language of moral theology.

Catholics of other demographics did not vary with great significance in their answers on the morality of abortion. Catholics of generations X, Y, and Z were only slightly less likely than Catholics of the Boomer and Silent generations to believe abortion is intrinsically evil.

Hispanic Catholics offered perspectives on abortion similar to Catholics overall; 21% said abortion should be legal in all cases, and 32% said it should be legal except in late-term cases. Only 48% said abortion is intrinsically evil.

Beliefs about abortion vary significantly among political party affiliations. Catholics identifying as Republicans were more likely to say abortion is intrinsically evil, with 63% answering thus. In this subset, only 37% said it should be legal all or most of the time while 61% said it should be illegal all or most of the time.

Two-thirds of Catholics identifying as Democrats said abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared to just 37% of Republicans. Meanwhile, just 36% of Democratic Catholics said that abortion is intrinsically evil, compared to 63% of Republican Catholics who said it is.