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Posted on 12/12/2018 01:01 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., Dec 11, 2018 / 04:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- President Donald Trump signed into law Tuesday the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act, which seeks to ensure US aid reaches Christian and Yazidi genocide victims.
The bill was passed unanimously in the House Nov. 27, and in the Senate Oct. 11.
This bill was introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), and the lead Democratic sponsor was Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA). This was Smith’s second attempt at getting the bill signed into law, and altogether it took 17 months for this bill to be passed.
Trump was joined at the Dec. 11 signing by Vice President Mike Pence, Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, Ambassador to the Holy See Callista Gingrich, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus Carl Anderson, Smith, Eshoo, Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, and many others.
Trump said it was a “great honor” to sign H.R. 390 into law, and remarked that his administration has had great success in fighting Islamic State. The group has lost nearly all of its territory since its peak in 2015.
“This bill continues my administration's efforts to direct US assistance for persecuted communities including through faith-based programs,” he said.
The signing of the legislation is a symbol of the US speaking “with bold moral clarity and political unanimity,” Anderson said in a statement provided by the Knights of Columbus, which were heavily involved with the process of writing the bill and assisting the situation of Christians in the Middle East.
Since 2014, the Knights of Columbus have donated more than $20 million to help Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria with food, housing, and other needs. The Knights also spent $2 million to rebuild an Iraqi town that had been destroyed by Islamic State.
H.R. 390 provides funding to various entities, including faith-based and religious organizations, that are helping with recovery and stabilization efforts in Iraq and Syria in religious and ethnic minority communities, including Christians and Yazidis.
The bill also instructs the Trump administration to “assess and address the humanitarian vulnerabilities, needs, and triggers that might force these survivors to flee” the region and for the administration to identify signs of potential violent action against minority groups in the country.
Another part of the law encourages foreign governments to identify those who belong to Islamic State in security databases and security screenings to aid with their prosecution. The bill provides support for groups that are investigating members of Islamic State who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the region.
Since Islamic State took control of the region, the country’s Christian population has dwindled to only a few thousand families. Many of these people fled to nearby Turkey and Lebanon out of concern for their safety. Although the situation has drastically improved since nearly all of Islamic State's territory has been regained, Christians are reluctant to return to the region due to a lack of economic opportunities and continued concerns for safety.
Posted on 12/12/2018 00:06 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Los Angeles, Calif., Dec 11, 2018 / 03:06 pm (CNA).- The Archbishop of Los Angeles wrote this week that Our Lady of Guadalupe, a messenger of reform and renewal, has important lessons for contemporary Catholics.
“In the Church today we face new challenges to our fidelity to Jesus Christ, both personally and institutionally,” wrote Archbishop Jose Gomez in a Dec. 10 column in Angelus.
“In this moment, I am more and more convinced that we need to ‘return to Guadalupe,’ to the original vision, the original path that Christ wanted for us in this country and throughout our continent. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the messenger who is sent to lead us to renewal and reform in our time.”
The archbishop noted that Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared “at a time of confusion and discord — and a time of immense cruelty and suffering, corruption, and infidelity.”
She appeared in 1531 to St. Juan Diego, a poor indigenous man, on a hill near what is now Mexico City. She identified herself as the Mother of the True God.
She instructed Juan Diego to have the local bishop build a church on the site, and famously left an image of herself imprinted miraculously on his tilma, a cactus-cloth tunic. The image has survived to this day. Several million pilgrims journey each year to see that tilma.
Gomez wrote that the apparition occurred less than two decades after the start of the Protestant Reformation, at a time when the Church in Europe was “confronting decadence and corruption and the need for renewal and reformation.”
There were debates among theologians in the so-called Old World about whether indigenous peoples in the Americas were even people with souls, the archbishop wrote.
At the same time, the economy of the New World was being developed on the backs of slaves, and “the greed and ambition of Spanish colonizers led to unspeakable horrors” and the destruction of many native peoples and their ways of life.
Gomez noted that Mary appeared as a “mestizo,” a brown-skinned mixture of European and indigenous peoples, and spoke to Juan Diego in his own indigenous language.
“She reminds us that beyond the color of our skin or the countries where we come from, we are all brothers and sisters,” the Archbishop reflected.
“We are — every one of us, without exception — children of one heavenly Father and we have the Mother of God as our mother...a profound icon of the unity of humanity and the Church’s mission to create one family of God out of all the world’s nations and races, peoples, and languages.”
Today, as in Juan Diego’s time, there are new forms of inhumanity and cruelty, Gomez wrote. “Selfishness and greed” lead to injustices like abortion and the persecution of religious minorities.
The archbishop recalled the words Mary spoke to Juan Diego: “Do not let your heart be disturbed. Do not fear. ... Am I, your Mother, not here? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Are you not in the folds of my arms? What more do you need?”
In her role as our mother, Mary “guides us along the pathways that lead us to her Son,” Gomez wrote.
“In leading the mission to the Americas, Our Lady of Guadalupe was showing us the vision of a way forward — to a new humanity, a new Church, a new world.”
“Authentic reform and renewal are always based on a return to the origins — to the purity of first beginnings. That is what distinguishes reform and renewal from revolution, which always seeks to destroy the old in order to build the new.”
“In these troubling times, we need to go always forward with joy and confidence. May we lay our fears and hopes at the feet of the Virgin. And may we contemplate these times we are living in under the gaze of her loving eyes,” Gomez concluded.
The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated on Wednesday, Dec. 12.
Posted on 12/11/2018 22:00 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., Dec 11, 2018 / 01:00 pm (CNA).- Last week the Diocese of Bridgeport announced the appointment of a lay “parish life coordinator” in the parish of St. Anthony of Padua.
Dr. Eleanor Sauers has been placed in charge of the day-to-day administration of the parish, following the untimely death of the parish’s former pastor, Fr. John Baran.
The appointment has led some to ask: What is a parish life coordinator? What does such a lay person do?
In Bridgeport the arrangement, announced in a letter from Bishop Frank Caggiano, will see Sauers “work with the parish community to develop and foster its pastoral vision and mission.”
It is the first appointment of its kind in Bridgeport, though similar appointments have been common in other American dioceses for some years.
When such an appointment is made, it can strike some parishioners as a novelty. In fact, the possibility of lay “parish life coordinators” exists in the Code of Canon Law, and has been an option available to bishops since in 1983.
Canon 517 of the Code of Canon Law gives the diocesan bishop options for dealing with circumstances in which it is not possible to assign to a parish a priest who is able to serve as its resident and full-time pastor.
The first option offered by the canon is for a parish, or several parishes, to be given into the care of a team of priests, with one of them serving as the “moderator,” of leader of the team, responsible for coordinating the pastoral care of the people.
The second option the canon presents is for a deacon “or some other person who is not a priest” to be given “a share” in the “exercise of the pastoral care of the parish.” This is only to be done, according to canon law, because of a shortage of priests; it is a remedy for exceptional circumstances and not something the Church allows to be done for its own sake.
In addition to the sacramental life which is the heart of their existence, modern Western parishes are busy places, often requiring leadership and coordination on the ground.
There are clear advantages to placing a lay person in charge of the day-to-day coordination of the parish’s activity, rather than a team of priests who could be spread across a number of other parishes and have many other demands on their attention.
Overseeing finances, religious education programs, the maintenance of buildings and other facilities, even a school in some places, is a complex set of responsibilities - one that, in the judgment of some bishops, cannot be overseen effectively by even a well-intentioned and well-organized team of non-resident priests.
In the case of the parish of St. Anthony of Padua, this would seem to be the role Caggiano has in mind, noting in his letter to parishioners that Sauers will “oversee the day-to-day operations of the parish.”
She will also be “working with a team of priests who will provide the sacramental ministries at St. Anthony,” while having decision-making authority in the parish itself.
Arrangements like these often leave some Catholics with the impression that the priests are working “for” or “under” a lay person (which would be a novelty in a parish setting, but not unusual in other ecclesiastical settings). However, there is a distinction in canon law, and in the teaching of the Church, between collaboration and a hierarchical relationship.
Finding the right balance in ecclesial collaboration is important. Bishops are enjoined to promote and authentic expression of the gifts of all members of the Church, and to avoid any blurring of roles and responsibilities, that might obscure the unique dignity of the different members of the Mystical Body of Christ.
St. John Paul II issued in 1997 an authoritative instruction on lay and clerical collaboration, Ecclesiae de mysterio.
The pope instructed that arrangements like the one at St. Anthony of Padua should only be made in “exceptional cases” and because of a shortage of priests. The possibility of such arrangements is not, St. John Paul said, to be used for “convenience or ambiguous ‘advancement of the laity.’”
The faithful have the right, expressed in c. 213, to receive the administration of the sacraments, the preaching of the Word of God, and other means of obtaining sanctity from the pastors of the Church - that is from the priests and bishops. When lay parish life coordinators are appointed, they are not given charge of the spiritual care of the community: the “care of souls” is explicitly reserved to the clergy.
For that reason, while canon 517 creates the possibility for a lay person to be given “a share” in the running of a parish, it also requires that there be a priest designated responsible for the pastoral care of the the people. Whenever a deacon or lay person is appointed to such a role, “the bishop is to appoint some priest who, with the powers and faculties of a pastor [parish priest], will direct the pastoral care” of the people, canon law explains.
This condition, Ecclesiae de mysterio affirms, must be followed with “strict adherence” in order to safeguard both the care of the faithful of the parish, and the distinction of the roles between a lay collaborator and a priest.
“Directing, coordinating, moderating or governing the parish; these competencies, according to the canon, are the competencies of a priest alone,” the instruction explains.
In Ecclesiae de mysterio, St. John Paul taught that the impetus of Vatican Council II “opens vast horizons, some of which have yet to be explored, for the lay faithful.”
As the Church responds to the changing landscape of society in different parts of the world, new ways for the laity to work together with the clergy will continue to emerge.
St. John Paul II taught that as those new modes of collaboration are developed, it is important for bishops to promote the role of lay people in the Church, while ensuring among Catholics “the correct understanding of true ecclesial communion.”
Posted on 12/11/2018 01:07 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Los Angeles, Calif., Dec 10, 2018 / 04:07 pm (CNA).- The Archdiocese of Los Angeles will file a criminal complaint against religious sisters who have been accused of embezzling from a Catholic school at which they had worked for more than a decade.
Sr. Mary Margaret Kreuper, CSJ and Sr. Lana Chang, CSJ, who both retired this year from St. James Catholic School in Torrance, are alleged to have misappropriated nearly $500,000 from the school.
They are suspected of using the money for gambling, trips, and other personal expenses.
While the archdiocese initially said that it would not press charges in the case, an archdiocesan spokesman told CNA Monday afternoon that the archdiocese will become a “complaining party” in the case.
Kim Westerman, a spokesperson for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, told CNA Monday that canonical restrictions have been imposed on the sisters, and a formal canonical process “will be determined when the criminal aspect of the case is completed.”
Westerman told CNA that the sisters’ alleged embezzlement was not known before their retirements from the school was announced, and that the congregation has no record of either sister being accused of financial misconduct in the past.
In a Dec. 11 statement, the Sisters of St. Joseph announced that they would not defend the actions of Krueper and Chang.
"What happened is wrong. Our Sisters take full responsibility for the choices they made and are subject to the law.”
A Nov. 28 letter from St. James Parish pastor Msgr. Michael Meyers announced that after an internal investigation discovered the embezzlement, the sisters’ congregation “has agreed to arrange for full restitution for the benefit of the School of the funds that are found to have been misappropriated and is imposing appropriate penalties and sanctions on each of the Sisters in accordance with the policies of the Order.”
In his letter, Meyers wrote that “the Archdiocese does not wish to pursue criminal proceedings against the Sisters but instead plans to have the Archdiocese, the School and the Order address the situation internally through the investigation, restitution and sanctions on the Sisters.”
Despite the theft, “no student or program at St. James has suffered any loss of educational resources, opportunities, or innovations. In sum, the education of your children has not and will not be affected by these events,” Meyers wrote.
He added that the sisters felt “deep remorse” for their actions and asked for forgiveness.
Meyers told parents last week that the sisters' theft went undetected because they took money destined for a reserve fund, and did not immediately attract the attention of auditors and other officials.
St. James School's 2016 enrollment was 325 students, according to an archdiocesan directory.
Some parents at the school alleged that the sisters often took gambling trips to Las Vegas. Krueper has a P.O. Box and a prior address in Las Vegas, according to The Beach Reporter.
Marge Graf, an archdiocesan attorney, told St. James School parents that the sisters “had a pattern of going on trips, we do know they had a pattern of going to casinos, and the reality is, they used the account as their personal account,” The Beach Reporter noted.
The sisters are members of the Los Angeles Province of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cardondelet. Though they are commonly referred to as “nuns,” that term is reserved in the Church to consecrated women living in contemplative monasteries. Kreuper and Chang are more properly referred to as “religious sisters.”
Lori Barr, a former principal of St. Paul School in Santa Fe Springs, California, was sentenced in 2015 to 180 days in county jail for stealing $64,000 from the school, which is owned and operated by the Los Angeles archdiocese. Barr was discovered to have made charges on the school’s American Express card, making purchases from Disneyland, Tiffany & Co, United Airlines, and Victoria’s Secret, among others.
Barr paid restitution to the archdiocese before she was sentenced, and apologized to school and diocesan officials.
It has not yet been announced what charges Krueper and Chang will face.
This story is developing and has been updated.
Posted on 12/10/2018 23:07 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., Dec 10, 2018 / 02:07 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The US Supreme Court will not hear an appeal from states which were seeking to terminate Medicaid contracts with Planned Parenthood, meaning that these contracts will remain.
Kansas and Louisiana had attempted to block Medicaid funds from being used for preventative care services provided by Planned Parenthood. A lower court ruled that this policy violated federal law, and the states were attempting to appeal this decision.
By deciding not to hear the case, the court has not cast a judgement on the questions contained in the appeals.
Only three judges – Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch – voted to grant certiorari. This is one short of the four needed.
Voting against certiorari were newly-confirmed Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.
In his dissent, Thomas wrote that he thought his colleagues on the bench were trying to avoid any cases involving Planned Parenthood, the country’s largest abortion provider. This case in particular did not involve abortion, but concerned other services provided by Planned Parenthood.
"What explains the court’s refusal to do its job here?” asked Thomas, adding, "I suspect it has something to do with the fact that some respondents in these cases are named 'Planned Parenthood.'”
Thomas was furious with the court’s denial of certiorari, saying: “But these cases are not about abortion rights,” but rather “about private rights of action under the Medicaid Act.”
“Resolving the question presented here would not even affect Planned Parenthood’s ability to challenge the States’ decisions; it concerns only the rights of individual Medicaid patients to bring their own suits. Some tenuous connection to a politically fraught issue does not justify abdicating our judicial duty.”
Former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson told CNA that she did not agree with the court’s decision.
“States should have every right to divert funding away from the nation's largest abortion provider and towards health centers that provide true healthcare to patients, not one that promotes abortion above all else,” Johnson said.
She also pointed out that Planned Parenthood has done fewer and fewer preventative services in recent years. Between 2009 and 2016, the number of breast cancer screenings done by the organization dropped by 61 percent, she said.
"Other cancer screenings have dropped by 64 percent during the same time. And forget about prenatal services and adoption referrals. Those services are barely offered, if at all at some Planned Parenthoods,” added Johnson.
Johnson told CNA she believes states should instead fund federal qualified healthcare clinics, which “outnumber Planned Parenthood nearly 20-to-1 and sees ten times the number of patients that Planned Parenthood does every year.”
Posted on 12/10/2018 12:01 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
New York City, N.Y., Dec 10, 2018 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Seven decades after its proclamation, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is still being hailed as “a great triumph achieved at a tremendous cost,” in the words of St John Paul II.
The landmark declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris Dec. 10, 1948. It includes a preamble and 30 articles that provide for individual freedoms, denounce torture and slavery, and affirm the equal dignity of all people.
The Vatican’s diplomatic representative to the United Nations recently praised the declaration, saying the anniversary presented an opportunity to “reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights,” but also warned that parts of the world are experiencing the consequences of failing to uphold those rights.
Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, offered his reflections at a Dec. 4 conference commemorating the document’s 70th anniversary.
Since Auza was in Katowice, Poland for another conference, his remarks were read by Msgr. Tomasz Grysa. The conference was jointly hosted by the Holy See and Alliance Defending Freedom International at the UN headquarters in New York.
He said the then-recent atrocities of the Holocaust and two World Wars had “revealed that there are some actions so wicked that no one can or will justify them, and certain fundamental values that no one will dispute.”
Archbishop Auza hearkened back to St. John Paul II’s praise for the declaration, which he offered a year after being elected Bishop of Rome.
“When Pope John Paul II spoke to the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1979, he called [the declaration] the 'fundamental document,' the 'basic inspiration and cornerstone of the United Nations Organization,' and a 'milestone on the long and difficult path of the moral progress,'” Auza wrote.
“After the horrors of the first half of [the 20th] century, it was obvious that human progress could not be measured only by scientific and technological advances, since even those could become weapons against the innocent,” Auza wrote, affirming that “human progress” includes ethical development as well.
Auza noted that the preamble of the UN charter affirms “faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, and in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small,” but does not specify what rights are to be upheld. The Commission on Human Rights later elaborated both political and civil human rights in the declaration, making them “practical” so as to guide action.
“[The rights] were framed not only in relation to the State but also to various mediating institutes like the family, human community, and religious groups, since human beings are persons in solidarity and fraternity rather than isolated individuals,” Auza wrote.
The original declaration itself did not contain any enforcement mechanisms per se, but later agreements such as the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights sought to incorporate human rights principles into the legal systems of individual nations. The United States ratified that covenant in 1992.
On the occasion of the declaration’s 70th anniversary, Azua highlighted three of the document’s “fundamental presuppositions” that he said “are perhaps not as widely and deeply appreciated today as they were by the framers and the delegates who voted for its adoption” because of cultural changes since the 1940s.
He spoke of the document’s universality, which he characterized as an attempt to formulate rights that would be valid regardless of time, place, and culture, which presumes that there exist universal human rights rooted in human nature. This ties into the document’s objectivity, Azua said; if human nature is objectively the same everywhere, then this prevents the universality of the rights “to be denied for cultural, political, social, philosophical or religious reasons.”
“Human rights are premised on the existence of a nature objectively shared by all members of the human race by the very fact of their humanity,” the archbishop wrote.
“From that nature flows human dignity, which refers to the intrinsic worth of the person, no matter one’s circumstances, no matter how young or old, rich or poor, strong or vulnerable, healthy or sick, wanted or undesired, economically productive or incapacitated, politically influential or insignificant.”
In other words, this recognition presupposes that all human beings are equal in value.
Finally, Auza highlighted the unity of the declaration— the importance of applying all the rights listed, rather than picking and choosing which rights to honor “piecemeal, according to trends or selective choices”— as an important element that was highlighted by Benedict XVI in 2008.
“The Declaration, [Pope Benedict] was saying, is not, and cannot be allowed to become, a menu of rights from which one can choose according to personal, national, or international taste,” Auza wrote.
To this point, Auza highlighted some of the notable instances of human rights violations in the world today.
For example, an estimated one in ten children will be subjected to child labor, and “tens of millions are ensnared by various forms of so-called modern slavery.”
Article 18 of the declaration upholds the freedom of “thought, conscience, and religion,” but “in so many places changing one’s religion or even practising one’s faith is still a death sentence or a reason to be discriminated against.”
Many countries, such as Sudan, have laws that criminalize apostasy, or converting from the state religion, usually Islam.
Auza noted that Pope Francis has spoken out against the reinterpretation of some rights over the years that conflict with each other, leading to, among others things, a breakdown of the family.
“Human rights in general, and the Universal Declaration in particular, were not meant to be used as weapons to advance political, economic, military or cultural agendas contrary to the fundamental human rights,” he wrote.
Posted on 12/10/2018 01:36 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., Dec 9, 2018 / 04:36 pm (CNA).- When Alicia Hernon realized she was pregnant with her eighth child, her first reaction was to start crying.
“I thought, ‘Our car is too small, our house is too small, we’re going to have to move’,” she said.
But while the process was a difficult one, she and her husband Mike were able to make ends meet and went on to welcome two more children into their family.
And it was worth it, the Hernons told CNA.
While raising children has required financial sacrifices, Alicia said, “I know we have become better people because of that.”
The Hernons are far from alone in wondering how they will be able to afford children. In fact, the vast majority of Americans raising children are facing financial difficulties, according to the 2018 American Family Survey, released last week.
Of those who have children at home, 73 percent say they worry about being able to pay at least one monthly bill, and 44 percent have faced an economic crisis in the last year – being unable to pay an important bill or going without food, medical care or housing due to financial difficulty, the survey found.
For both men and women who do not currently have children, the cost of raising a child was the top consideration in deciding whether to become parents, ranking ahead of current relationship status, desire to raise a child of one’s own, and difficulty of balancing family and career.
Anthony Granado, director of the Office of Domestic Social Development for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that while the data may seem surprising, it is consistent with other recent studies on the economy and American families.
He pointed to a 2017 study by the Federal Reserve showing that 40 percent of Americans would not be able to come up with $400 for an emergency expense, without borrowing from someone or selling a possession.
While the economy has turned around since the Great Recession, Granado told CNA, this doesn’t show the whole picture.
“If you’re only looking at GDP as your sense of economic progress in the country, you’re missing how the unemployed, underemployed and poor people are faring in the country,” he said.
Although unemployment rates are at historic lows, Granado said, many of the jobs that have been created have been low-wage or part time jobs, with few to no benefits.
And while there has been an uptick in overall U.S. wages, the largest wage growth has come for the top 10 percent of Americans, he said, while those with lower incomes have seen their wages increase at a slower rate than the cost of living.
Recent data from the Department of Labor indicates that the cost of living in the United States is increasing at its fastest pace in a decade. Soaring costs of college tuition have left many graduates with tens of thousands of dollars in student debt, and increasing housing, health care and child care costs in many parts of the country compound financial struggles.
“Therefore, you have in effect a loss of wages, a loss of buying power. This is clearly affecting families…average and lower income people are not doing as well,” Granado said.
“If you don’t have the economic means or the benefits through your employer to help provide those things, people are definitely going to be dis-incentivized to have children, which is a bad thing, because we want to promote flourishing families.”
Family structure may also be playing a role in financial well-being, as marriage rates have declined in recent years.
“Marriage is definitely associated with greater financial stability for families,” said Dr. Scott Stanley, research professor and co‑director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver.
This is partly because “those with better resources are much more likely to marry than those with less,” but the nature of marriage is also relevant, he told CNA.
A February report from the Institute for Family Studies – where Stanley serves as a senior fellow – found that only 50 percent of children in the U.S. are currently being raised by both their married biological parents throughout childhood.
Of the other 50 percent, nearly half are being raised by just one parent. The IFS report also highlighted the “abundant evidence” that children fare better when both of their biological, married parents raise them throughout childhood.
“Married couples have usually formed a much clearer commitment to a future together than cohabiting, non-married couples,” Stanley said. “Having a future together reinforces approaching money (and life) as a team. Hence, the greater commitment to a future makes it more likely that a couple will manage money effectively and develop assets for the future.”
In addressing the complex causes of financial insecurity, there is no silver bullet, Granado said.
“Everyone has a role to play in the common good,” he explained. This includes individuals, families, organizations, companies, and government.
“There is a definite positive, proactive role for the government, the public authority,” Granado said. “This has been a hallmark of Church social teaching for centuries.”
This does not mean that the Church advocates for a state-centered society, he clarified – there is a need for charitable acts and individual responsibility.
“But at the end of the day, even if you look at the numbers Catholic Charities has across the country, there are so many people [in need], they are not able to help everybody, they just don’t have those resources,” he said.
“So long as people are not making the wages necessary to care for themselves and their families, there has to be something there to assist them.”
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has been calling on the federal government to address wages and other factors causing families to struggle, Granado said.
“We’ve been looking at things like affordable housing, access to nutrition programs, labor questions, criminal justice reform.”
The Hernons – who today have 10 kids and run The Messy Family project and podcast – offered suggestions for those who want to have children but are concerned about their financial situation.
They cautioned against allowing materialism and the allure of Pinterest-perfect purchases to blur the lines between wants and needs.
Kids can share bedrooms, clothes and toys, and a 16-year-old does not need their own car, Alicia said. Shopping at thrift stores and making gifts instead of buying them are other creative ways that families can save money, she added.
As the kids get older, they also contribute, the Hernons said. By the time their kids reach their mid-teens, they pay for their own cell phones, non-essential clothes and video games. This not only eases the financial burden on the family, but also teaches the children hard work, responsibility, and wise money management.
Families may need to forego expensive vacations and opt for simple birthday celebrations, such as a water balloon fight in the backyard rather than an expensive party, the Hernons said. But ultimately, these sacrifices are what make parents into better people.
They advised couples to discuss finances before marriage to make sure they are on the same page about their goals. They also recommended living on a single income when a couple is first married, so one parent can more easily stop working or cut back on hours once children are born.
Trusting God is also critical, they said.
“One of the things I’ve found is that saying yes to God’s gift of life has always come with blessings,” Mike reflected.
Ultimately, he said, the Church must remind society of the true value of children and family life.
“I think that we [as a culture] have lost a real sense of the joys of family life, in that we are seeing the financial burden first, rather than the joy in it,” he said. “As Catholics, we need to do a more effective job of sharing and celebrating the joy of family life.”
Posted on 12/9/2018 01:21 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Cincinnati, Ohio, Dec 8, 2018 / 04:21 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Lawmakers in the Ohio Senate have delayed a key vote on a bill to bar abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable. Given Gov. John Kasich’s promise to veto the bill, the delay has raised questions about whether an override vote will be possible before the close of the legislative session.
On Dec. 6, the Ohio Senate’s Health, Human Services and Medicaid Committee chairman Sen. David Burke said there were several amendments to the bill and more time was needed to study them.
“Based on the short timeline that we received the bill from the House, we wanted to make sure people had ample time to testify,” said the Senate’s Republican spokesman John Fortney, according to the news website Cleveland.com.
The committee vote would have advanced the bill to the Senate floor. While the legislative session officially ends Dec. 31, leading lawmakers have said they are likely to finish by Dec. 19 or sooner.
If H.B. 258 becomes law, it would ban abortions at around six weeks into pregnancy, once a baby’s heartbeat is detectable. The law allows exceptions to prevent a woman’s death or bodily impairment, or in cases of medical emergency.
The bill’s text makes clear that a pregnant woman who undergoes an abortion is not considered in violation of the law. Rather, it allows her to take civil action against the abortion doctor involved if it is proven he or she broke the law, on grounds related to the “wrongful death of the unborn child.”
An doctor who performs an abortion in violation of the law would commit a fifth-degree felony, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $2,500 fine, the New York Times reports. The bill requires state inspections of abortion facilities to ensure their compliance with reporting requirements. It also establishes more ways to promote adoption.
Kasich has a strong pro-life record, signing into law at least 18 abortion regulations or restrictions, including a 20-week abortion ban. The heartbeat bill is the only one he has vetoed, doing so in 2016. He is about to leave office in January for governor-elect Mark DeWine, a Republican who supports the legislation.
The governor would have ten days from a bill’s passage to veto, excluding Sundays. In the event of a veto, lawmakers would have to return to the capitol to override the veto with a three-fifths vote in each chamber.
While legislators did not have support to override the governor’s veto of a 2016 bill, this year the Ohio House of Representatives passed the bill by a vote of 60-38, exactly the number of votes needed to override. The Senate would need 20 votes to override a veto.
Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof said Senate Republicans support the bill and he anticipated that it will be passed “at some point.” There are 24 Republicans currently in the Ohio Senate.
However, some lawmakers travel out of state for the holidays and may not return to vote. Many also hold that lawmakers should rarely override a governor’s veto, Cleveland.com reports.
While Kasich has supported pro-life legislation, he has joined critics of the bill who say it contradicts current Supreme Court precedent on abortion.
Backers of the legislation have said it is specially designed to pass Supreme Court scrutiny.
David F. Forte, a law professor at Cleveland-Marshall School of Law at Cleveland State University, in written remarks to the Senate committee said the bill will give the Supreme Court “an opportunity to modify its abortion jurisprudence so that Congress and the states may protect those unborn children who are virtually certain to be born,” Cleveland.com reports.
Sen. Peggy Lehner, a supporter of the bill, cited the Supreme Court’s repeated support for racial segregation before striking it down. She said she hoped the treatment of unborn babies by the Supreme Court would prove “as successful for the unborn as it was for the African American.”
Bill opponent Sen. Charleta Tavares asked several bill backers who spoke to the committee about whether the government would support women and children with services like housing, employment and Medicaid.
Ellen Schleckman, a medical student focusing on obstetrics and gynecology, said the proposed legislation would harm a doctor’s ability to give best care to patients and result in fewer doctors wanting to practice medicine in the state.
Despite questions about the bill’s future, it still could become law.
“It would be up to the members, obviously, but if it was passed theoretically next week, I think it would come back (for a veto override) before the end of the year,” Fortney said, noting this final vote would take place after Christmas.
Ohio law currently bars abortion 20 weeks or more after conception, based on when an unborn child can feel pain. Pro-abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio is considering a legal challenge to that law.
The Ohio Catholic Conference on Nov. 15 said it supports “the life-affirming intent of this legislation,” but stopped short of endorsement. The conference said it will continue to assist efforts to resolve “differences related to specific language and strategies.”
“In the end, the Catholic Conference of Ohio desires passage of legislation that can withstand constitutional challenge and be implemented in order to save lives,” the Catholic conference said.
Posted on 12/8/2018 01:49 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Los Angeles, Calif., Dec 7, 2018 / 04:49 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Archdiocese of Los Angeles announced Thursday that it has updated its list of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors.
The 2004 Report to the People of God covers 70 years of credible cases of sexual abuse by clergy against minors. It has been updated two times before, in 2005 and 2008.
The Dec. 6 update follows an October lawsuit which accused all California bishops of covering up sexual abuse by clergy. The suit requested that each diocese “publicly release the names of all agents, including priests, accused of child molestation, each agent’s history of abuse, each such agent’s pattern of grooming and sexual behavior, and his or her last known address.”
At the announcement of the update, which took place at a press conference at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles said clergy guilty of abuse “must answer to God for their sins, they must be held accountable by law enforcement for any crimes, and they must be removed and never again entrusted with ministry in the Church.”
“Still, every case of child sexual misconduct is one too many, a harm committed against an innocent soul, a sin that cries out to heaven for justice, reparation, and healing. We owe it to the victim-survivors to be fully transparent in listing the names of those who perpetrate this abuse. Again, I encourage others who might have been injured to come forward,” he said.
The 2018 update to the list includes all credible cases of abuse fielded by the archdiocese since the last update 10 years ago. According to the archdiocese, since 2008, two living priests, Juan Cano and Jose Cuevas, were credibly accused of sexual abuse against minors in the parishes and ministries where they served.
The allegations against Cano and Cuevas were reported to law enforcement and made public at the time they were received. The allegations were then investigated by the independent Clergy Misconduct Oversight Board, which declared that the accusations were substantiated. Gomez removed both priests from active ministry, and they are both in the process of being removed from the priesthood.
The recent update also includes an incident from 2010 involving a minor and Roberto Barco, an extern priest from Argentina who was serving in Los Angeles until 2016, at which time the archdiocese was informed of the allegation.
The update also includes cases of abuse in which there is one “plausible” report of sexual misconduct against a priest that was unable to be corroborated, due to either the death of the priest or his leaving the diocese “long before” the allegation had been received.
Victims Assistance Coordinator for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Dr. Heather Banis, a clinical psychologist, noted in a statement the importance of the inclusion of plausible allegations in the report.
“Coming forward and reporting abuse or misconduct is one of the hardest things to do after suffering a betrayal trauma as a child,” Banis said.
“While the allegation may not be able to be corroborated because of time passed, the death of the accused or the ability to investigate, the Archdiocese is sending a clear message to victim-survivors that they are being heard, and all allegations will be respected.”
In a statement, Gomez noted the positive steps that the archdiocese has taken since the first report was compiled in protecting minors from sexual abuse.
“In the past two decades, we have put in place an effective system for reporting and investigating suspected abuse by priests and for removing offenders from ministry,” he said. “We have also established an extensive program of education and background checks to make sure our children are safe and cared for in our parishes, schools and ministries.”
“Still,” he added, “every case of child sexual abuse is one too many, a crime committed against an innocent soul, a sin that cries out to heaven for justice, reparation, and healing.”
“We must remain committed and vigilant at every level of the Church to creating safe environments for our children and reporting and investigating allegations of misconduct and removing perpetrators from ministry.”
He also apologized to victims and reiterated his encouragement to victims to come forward with allegations, and promised swift action on the part of the archdiocese, should those allegations be substantiated.
“To every one of you who has suffered abuse at the hands of a priest, I am truly sorry. Nothing can undo the violence done to you or restore the innocence and trust that was taken from you. I am humbled by your courage and ashamed at how the Church has let you down,” he said.
“On behalf of the Church, I ask your forgiveness, while understanding how hard it is to forgive when one has suffered such deep wounds at the hands of those you should have been able to trust.”
He said the healing of each victim and survivor of abuse was his priority.
“Finding the ability to trust again is a slow and difficult journey. But I promise I will walk that journey with you, along with the whole family of God here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.”
“May we find hope in Jesus Christ, may the Blessed Virgin Mary be a mother to us all, and may God grant us peace.”
Posted on 12/8/2018 00:00 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., Dec 7, 2018 / 03:00 pm (CNA).- President Donald Trump announced Friday his nominations for the positions of U.S. Attorney General and Ambassador to the United Nations.
Trump will nominate William Barr to be the next attorney general of the United States. Barr will replace Matthew Whitaker, who has served in the role on an acting basis since the resignation of Jeff Sessions in early November.
On Twitter, President Trump said that he was “pleased to announce” Barr’s nomination, calling him “one of the most highly respected and legal minds in the Country [sic],” and “a great addition” to the administration.
Barr previously held the post of attorney general under President George H.W. Bush from November of 1991 until January 20, 1993. Prior to that, he served as deputy attorney general and assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel.
After leaving the White House in 1993, Barr worked in private practice. Most recently, he was with the firm Kirkland & Ellis. A practicing Catholic, he a graduate of Columbia University and George Washington University law school.
Reaction to Barr’s nomination were largely positive, with support for the pick coming from members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, indicating a potentially smoother confirmation process in the Senate than other recent Trump nominations.
According to C-SPAN footage of Barr’s Senate confirmation in 1991, he was unanimously approved by voice vote. Among his supporters was then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), who said that Barr was “throwback to the days when we actually used to have attorneys general who would talk to you and cooperate with you.”
The pro-life organization Americans United for Life told CNA that they were pleased with Trump’s pick, in part because of his opposition to abortion.
“Mr. Barr is a strong supporter of the right to Life, and is committed to the rule of law for all persons,” said AUL. They noted that when Barr was questioned during his initial hearings in 1991, he elaborated that he thought that the decision reached in Roe v. Wade was not the “right opinion” as it took power away from the states.
Trump also announced the nomination of State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert to replace outgoing United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, who will be leaving her role at the end of the year.
“I want to congratulate Heather, and thank Ambassador Nikki Haley for her great service to our Country!” tweeted Trump.
Nauert has a journalism background and worked as a broadcaster prior to joining the Department of State in 2017.
Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, offered praise for Nauert’s nomination. Brownback called Nauert a “staunch defender of Israel and religious freedom” and said that she was a “great pick for UN Ambassador.”