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On 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, reasons for hope

Wed, 07/25/2018 - 14:16

Detroit, Mich., Jul 25, 2018 / 12:16 pm (CNA).- Fifty years after Pope Paul VI issued Humanae Vitae, the landmark encyclical reaffirming Church teaching against contraception, many Catholics still don’t really understand the document and what it teaches.

“The woeful fact is that pathetically few have ever read Humanae Vitae or ever heard a homily or defense of it,” said Dr. Janet Smith, a professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.

However, she told CNA, “[t]here is encouraging evidence that when they do, they find it persuasive.”

Smith, who is also a consulter to the Pontifical Council on the Family, has written and spoken extensively on the Church’s teaching in Humanae Vitae.

A quarter-century ago, for the 25th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, she released “Why Humanae Vitae Was Right: A Reader” in the hopes of helping people see the wisdom in Catholic teaching.

For the 50th anniversary, Smith is releasing an update of essays, entitled, “Why Humanae Vitae is Still Right.”

“Much has happened in the last 25 years, including the tremendous influence of the Theology of the Body on our understanding Humanae Vitae, and the scientific evidence of the detrimental effects of contraception on women's health and male/female relationships. While the first volume remains relevant, an update of essays was needed,” she explained.

In Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI warned of serious social consequences that would follow if the widespread use of contraceptives became accepted.

Smith said that 50 years have shown the “prophetic power” of Humanae Vitae to be “abundantly substantiated,” with clear connections between widespread contraceptive use and the rise in unwed pregnancy, abortion, divorce, pornography, same-sex unions and transgenderism.  

“When the baby-making power of sexual intercourse is no longer considered a defining feature of sexual intercourse, virtually all sorts of sexual relationships are permissible, providing, I suppose, that they are consensual,” she said.

One common misunderstanding of Humanae Vitae, Smith said, that “it is based upon an outmoded notion of natural law that gives undue weight to simple biology.”

“The fact is that the literally infinitely greater value of human sexual intercourse is the foundation of the Church’s teaching,” she said, emphasizing that human sexuality has a dual purpose: “the facilitating of a lifelong, faithful committed relationship and the participating in God’s creation of new immortal souls – hence the necessity for human sexual relationships to be rooted in marriage, open to new life.”

Another common misconception, she said, is that Catholics may follow their consciences, even against Church teaching, whereas the Church actually says that “freedom to follow one’s conscience is based on the requirement that individuals form their consciences in accord with Church teaching.”

“I believe that few faithful Catholics [who] prayerfully read Humanae Vitae and seek out further instruction should doubts arise would not find the teaching true to God’s plan for sexuality.”

Most Catholics today fail to follow Humanae Vitae, Smith acknowledged. But rather than finding this figure discouraging, she sees hope in a study finding that Church teaching on sexuality is accepted by 37 percent of Catholic women between the ages of 18 and 34 who attend Mass weekly and go to Confession at least once a year.

“In a Church where the teaching is rarely presented and a culture that mocks the Church’s teaching, such compliance is astonishing,” she said. 

And there are other encouraging signs that the Church is working to better reach people with the message of Humanae Vitae, Smith said, such as recent efforts by the U.S. bishops to teach about the issue and encourage priests to do so as well.   

In addition, she said, diocesan family life offices and young seminarians and priests have the training and desire to teach and promote Natural Family Planning, through which a couple uses a woman’s natural fertile and infertile periods to pursue responsible parenthood. Unlike contraception, this method is accepted by the Church because it cooperates with human fertility rather than trying to stifle it.

Smith also noted marriage preparation programs that address cohabitation and contraception, as well as new teaching materials inspired by Theology of the Body, websites with resources and testimonies that are widely accessible, and an increase in faithful Catholic colleges and universities.

“My count indicates there are about 40 conferences being held that feature support of Humanae Vitae in the U.S., not to mention the webinars and likely hundreds of supportive pieces being published in print and online journals and blogs,” she added.

“More of all of this needs to be done, but a tremendous start has been made.”


US bishops: 'Humanae vitae' is perennially relevant

Wed, 07/25/2018 - 12:12

Washington D.C., Jul 25, 2018 / 10:12 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The US bishops have drawn attention to the continual relevance of Humanae vitae, Blessed Paul VI's encyclical on the regulation of birth, to mark the 50th anniversary of its promulgation.

In Humanae vitae Bl. Paul VI “reaffirmed the beautiful truth that a husband and wife are called to give themselves completely to each other,” stated Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the US bishops' conference. “Marriage reflects the love of God, which is faithful, generous, and life-giving. Through their vocation, spouses cooperate with God by being open to new human life.”

“Blessed Paul VI, who bore the criticism of Humanae Vitae with charity and patience, courageously affirmed that when we love as God designed, we experience true freedom and joy. He has also been proven correct in his warnings about the consequences of ignoring the true meaning of married love.”

“On this anniversary, I encourage all to read and prayerfully reflect upon this Encyclical, and be open to the gift of its timeless truths,” Cardinal DiNardo wrote.

Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington wrote that “The wisdom of 'Humanae Vitae' still rings true in our time and reminds us that marriage lived according to God’s plan brings happiness and fruitfulness to the couple and their relationship.”

“Since the time it was published, the warnings contained within 'Humanae Vitae' have been realized to a devastating and tragic degree as the negative societal consequences and disregard of the life-giving and love-giving aspects of marriage continue.”

The columns were released throughout this month to prepare for Humanae vitae’s 50th anniversary on July 25. Written by Bl. Paul VI, the encyclical is noted for its teaching against the use of contraception and for healthy sexuality.

Besides the Bishop of Arlington, numerous American bishops wrote on the encyclical, including Bishop Robert Cunningham of Syracuse, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, Bishop Nelson Perez of Cleveland, and Bishop James Conley of Lincoln.

The bishops wrote on Humanae vitae’s explanation of the ends of the marital act, confirming that conjugal love is both unitive and procreative. They also commented on the document’s history, accurate predictions, and its promotion of self-gift.  

Bishop Cunningham evaluated the historical context in which Humanae vitae was received. Written in 1968, the encyclical was released at the time of the Vietnam War and the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, he said.

“Our country was divided by a war many miles away and at home by conflicts, often violent, surrounding racial tensions,” he said. “In the midst of this national turmoil, our Church also experienced unrest with the publication of Humanae Vitae.”

It was written “to reaffirm the teaching of the Catholic Church on married love, responsible parenthood, and the continued rejection of unnatural forms of birth control and abortion,” noted Bishop Cunningham.

Bishop Conley and Bishop Perez both emphasized the prophetic nature of Humanae vitae, which predicted the destructive effects birth control would have on marriages and society.

The Nebraskan bishop pointed to a decrease in birth rates in the last 30 years, noting the rapid decline is not expected to slow down for at least another 10 years. This, he said, will have effects on future economies, labor forces, and societies.

“This means that the American population will get older in the decades to come – that 40 years from now, senior citizens will make up 25% of the entire US population. Declining fertility rates mean labor shortages, shrinking tax bases, and insolvent social safety nets.”

Bishop Conley also wrote on how contraception conditions men and women to be against each other by denying the connection between sex and children.

“Contraception pits couples into a kind of unknowing war with themselves: they seek to discover one another, and themselves, in the mutual exchange and intimate embrace of sexuality, while, at the very same time, seeking to deny an essential component of their actual identity.”

Bishop Perez said Humanae vitae is “best known for its defense of the ancient teaching of the Church that the procreative dimension is an essential and inseparable element of the marital act,” and affirming the unitive and procreative ends as “two essential and related dimensions of conjugal love.”

“This teaching, which ran counter to changes being made in virtually every other Christian denomination of the time, can rightly be regarded as the most controversial teaching of 'Humanae Vitae.' While controversial, it has been extremely influential in subsequent development of Church teaching, from topics as diverse as sterilization, in-vitro fertilization, abortion and surrogacy, along with the Church’s teaching on same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria.”

“The negative reaction to ‘Humanae Vitae’ was predicted by Blessed Pope Paul himself,” he said, noting that the encyclical anticipated “broken marriages, further demeaning and objectification of women and a trivialization of sex.”

“What is unfortunate is that the almost exclusive attention given to this ‘negative’ aspect of the encyclical has resulted in a failure to appreciate the ‘positive’ element of the pope’s teaching.”

Bishop Sartain said it is important to heed Humanae vitae’s prophetic words on the consumerization of sex in secular culture: “Humanae vitae remains to this day the prophetic words of a shepherd. In a world that can easily abide on the surface of things, Blessed Paul VI teaches us to look deeply into human life, our origin, our fulfilment, and our destiny.”

“In a world that prizes expediency and consumerism … Blessed Paul VI challenges us to cherish the gift of human life. In a world whose religion is science and that gives blind adherence to the principle that 'what is possible is therefore good,' Blessed Paul VI reminds us that at the core of a truly fulfilled human life is the act of opening our minds and hearts to the wisdom of God, who created the world and all that is in it, and who knows and loves us more than we can fathom.”

“In a culture where the human body and human life itself are exploited for entertainment and shameful profit, Blessed Paul VI begs us not to forget that the human body has beautiful, God-given worth and wisdom all its own, wisdom that is to be plumbed for its richness and lived with humility and joy,” Bishop Sartain reflected.

Cardinal Wuerl noted that the 50th anniversary of Humanae vitae impresses on the Church “the need for both clarity in our teaching and accompaniment in our effort to achieve reception of the teaching as part of the Church’s healing and saving mission.”

“In this modern age when sexual activity is often seen as recreational and without consequence, the message of Humanae Vitae is a sign of contradiction to the world and is challenging for some. But … it goes back to our basic understanding of the dignity and role of human beings, male and female, complementary and equal, in God’s plan.”

Why a famous social justice priest opposed birth control

Wed, 07/25/2018 - 07:00

Washington D.C., Jul 25, 2018 / 05:00 am (CNA).- During the early cultural battles over birth control in 1920s America, social thinker Monsignor John A. Ryan brought a unique perspective to the debate: he argued that contraception hurt solidarity and other efforts to ensure a decent living for workers and their families.
“In the late 19th and early 20th century workers were many times exploited by those who employed them. The working class was subjected to poor working conditions, low wages, and long hours. Ryan was their defender,” Prof. Clement A. Mulloy, a history professor at Arkansas State University, told CNA July 24. “Ryan believed workers were entitled to a normal family life which he equated with children, preferably in a large family.”
Ryan thought payment of a “living wage” to workers was a moral obligation of employers. This living wage meant “a decent livelihood” for a worker and his family, not merely subsistence pay. He took this position from papal encyclicals like Leo XIII’s Rerum novarum, which condemned abuses of capitalism and defended the worker.
Critics of this “living wage” approach found inspiration in thinkers like Thomas Malthus, who claimed population growth would tend to outpace the ability for a society to provide support. They would counter that workers had too many children and “if they could just limit the size of their families, then they would have enough money to support themselves.”
“Ryan believed this to be a clever dodge, whereby those who were affluent would point out that the reason why people were poor is they could not restrain themselves,” Mulloy said. “In other words, their poverty was their own fault. Consequently, those who were affluent were relieved of any responsibility to help the poor.”
Ryan was not a socialist. Rather, he backed Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. His support was so strong that he became known as the “Right Reverend New Dealer.” Born in Minnesota in 1869, the priest was ordained for the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis and later became a professor at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He became a prominent advisor for the U.S. bishops before his death in 1945 at the age of 76.
The priest is not well known for discussing birth control, but he wrote about it in many articles and in his most famous book “A Living Wage.” Mulloy discusses this aspect of Ryan’s thought in his essay “John A. Ryan and the Issue of Family Limitation,” which appeared in the 2013 issue of the Catholic Social Science Review.
“Ryan advocated ‘social justice’ in the sense that he believed government and employers had a duty to improve conditions and not just blame the poor for their plight,” Mulloy said. “Ryan believed there was plenty of wealth to support the population, if it was just distributed properly.”
Birth control advocates in the 1920s particularly wanted birth control practiced by the working class. In their view, the Industrial Revolution had produced uneducated, unskilled and “unfit” workers who were “breeding out of control.”
These attitudes were not purely scientific. Rather, they were accompanied by ethnic and religious animosity.
“The working class tended to be Catholic, while the wealthy tended to be white Anglo-Saxon Protestants and tended to have small families,” Mulloy said. “So there existed a certain fear or animosity.”
“Ryan, again, was the defender of the working class. He referred to the working class as the ‘saving remnant’ of civilization. He stated they were fit, morally fit, because they engaged in the sacrifice and hard work of raising large families.”
For Ryan, widespread use of birth control would have long-term detrimental effects on society, not just individuals. He predicted that birth control would lead to “enervating self-indulgence” across society. Husband and wife would treat each other as instruments of pleasure, and not cooperate with God to produce children. People would limit their families “to selfishly satisfy their material wants” and shirk “in the hard work of raising a family,” Mulloy explained.
“As a result, he predicted that people would lack integrity, a work ethic would deteriorate, people would become less patriotic, and more concerned with making money and not higher pursuits,” said Mulloy.
Population decline would also have harmful effects, in Ryan’s view, including damaging economic effects.
Mulloy reflected on these predictions.
“Our culture, though there has been great progress, has also become immoral and decadent in many ways, so Ryan’s predictions have some validity,” he said. A case can be made that high divorce rates, a rise in children born out of wedlock, and depopulation in places like Europe are in part due to birth control.
“A case could be made that women, despite the gains that have been made socially and economically, are not held in high regard,” he said.
Ryan wrote amid a push for “eugenics,” the reputed application of science to improve the quality of the human population. Birth control advocacy was among the strategies advanced by this movement, alongside marriage restrictions or involuntary sterilization. The last strategy was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1927 and over 60,000 people were forcibly sterilized out of the belief their ability to have children was a threat to social welfare.
The priest argued that involuntary sterilization was unnecessary and would have harmful effects on society. If “imbeciles,” the then-scientific term for the mentally disabled, would be forcibly sterilized, then other socially marginalized groups, such as Mexicans and African-Americans, would be targeted next.
“In some ways Ryan’s arguments against sterilization are more interesting than other Catholic theologians because Ryan considers the harmful effects to society from involuntary sterilization which the other theologians do not bother with,” Mulloy said.
In the 1920s, Ryan was among a minority of Catholic theologians who did not believe that involuntary sterilization was an evil in itself. It had not been defined as such in Church teaching. When Pope Pius XI’s encyclical Casti connubii condemned the practice as inherently evil in 1930, the priest accepted this teaching.
While Ryan acknowledged and made use of “natural law”-style arguments, Mulloy wrote in his Catholic Social Science Review essay, “Ryan realized this would have little impact on most Americans, since it was a purely intellectual argument with no reference to utility or social welfare.”
Pope Paul VI reaffirmed Catholic teaching on contraception in his 1968 encyclical Humanae vitae, but the hostile reaction from many Catholic and non-Catholic leaders continues to this day.

Ohio bishops commend governor's reprieve, commutation of executions

Tue, 07/24/2018 - 20:46

Columbus, Ohio, Jul 24, 2018 / 06:46 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Ohio Catholic Conference on Friday welcomed the state governor's decision to grant reprieve and commutation to two men who were to have been executed.

“The Catholic Conference of Ohio commends Governor Kasich for his leadership, courage, and pursuit of justice in commuting the death sentence of Raymond Tibbetts, as well as granting a reprieve for Cleveland Jackson,” the organization stated July 20.

“Each case presented strong evidence that corrective actions were needed by the Governor. Thank you, Governor Kasich.”

“The Catholic Church believes that the death penalty is an unnecessary and systemically flawed form of punishment,” wrote the Ohio Catholic Conference. “We seek mercy for those on death row because we believe that spiritual conversion is possible and that all life – even that of the worst offender – has value and dignity.”

Earlier on Friday, Kasich had commuted the death sentence of Raymond Tibbetts to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Tibbetts would have been executed Oct. 17.

Tibbetts was convicted for the 1997 murders of Judith Crawford, his wife, and Fred Hicks, their landlord.

The commutation was granted “as a result of fundamental flaws in sentencing phase of his trial,” the governor's office announced, noting that “the defense’s failure to present sufficient mitigating evidence, coupled with an inaccurate description of Tibbetts’s childhood by the prosecution, essentially prevented the jury from making an informed decision about whether Tibbetts deserved the death penalty.”

Jurors were not told that Tibbetts had suffered abuse as a child in the foster care system, and one of the jurors has said he would have voted for life without parole instead of the death penalty had this been disclosed.

“The system failed to provide me with the information I needed to make an accurate and fair determination,” Ross Geiger wrote in an opinion piece earlier this year.

Kasich also chose to grant a reprieve to delay until May 29, 2019 the execution of Cleveland Jackson, which had been scheduled to take place Sept. 13. The delay will “allow his newly appointed legal counsel sufficient time to review the case and properly prepare for his clemency hearing before the Parole Board.”

“Jackson’s previous court-appointed counsel withdrew their representation just four months prior to his initially scheduled execution after admitting that they failed to do any work to prepare his clemency application over the course of the previous four years,” according to Kasich's office.

Jackson was convicted for the 2002 murders of  Leneshia Williams, 17, and Jayla Grant, 3.

Kasich, a Republican, rejected calls for clemency in 2016 in the case of Ronald Phillips. Phillips was executed in July 2017, having been convicted of the 1993 rape and murder of three-year-old Sheila Marie Evans, his girlfriend's daughter.

Cardinal McCarrick reportedly lived on IVE seminary property during retirement

Tue, 07/24/2018 - 19:08

Washington D.C., Jul 24, 2018 / 05:08 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is reported to have lived alongside a Maryland house of formation for members of a religious order whose founder has faced Vatican charges of sexual misconduct.

St. John Baptist de la Salle is located in Chillum, Md., adjacent to Washington, D.C. The parish is staffed by the Institute of the Incarnate Word (IVE), and the property serves as the headquarters of the community's Province of the Immaculate Conception.

The Institute of the Incarnate Word was founded in 1984 in Argentina by Fr. Carlos Miguel Buela. In 2016, the Vatican affirmed the veracity of allegations that Buela engaged in sexual improprieties with adult seminarians of his community.

Buela, who retired in 2010, was forbidden by the Vatican from contact with members of the IVE, and from appearing in public.

In addition to the church building, the Maryland property includes two additional buildings, one of which is Ven. Fulton Sheen Seminary. The seminary forms men aspiring to be priests of the IVE, and opened in 1998. According to its website, the seminary currently houses 41 men in formation.

The third building, perhaps where the cardinal stayed, was not visible in a Google Street View Image dated July 2009, but had been constructed by May 2012.

Sources told CNA that Cardinal McCarrick lived with the IVE community at St. John Baptist de la Salle during his retirement, after residing for a period at the Redemptoris Mater Seminary of the Archdiocese of Washington.

One source close to the Archdiocese of Washington told CNA that the cardinal had for a time an IVE brother in formation living in his residence, which was on the parish property but separate from the house of formation.

An additional source also told CNA that McCarrick had young priest and seminarian assistants while living with the IVE, but did not comment on whether any seminarian resided with the cardinal.

An Archdiocese of Washington spokesperson did not confirm those reports. The spokesperson told CNA that Cardinal McCarrick “made his own living arrangements for his retirement,” as well as his own arrangements for secretarial assistance.

“I can’t comment on how long he was at the John Baptist de la Salle property,” the spokesperson added.

Cardinal McCarrick is reportedly close to the IVE, often conferring ordination for the Immaculate Conception province, doing so as late as May 28.

Directories from the Archdiocese of Washington demonstrate that Fr. Andrew Whiting, IVE, served as priest secretary to Cardinal McCarrick from at least 2014 through 2017. Whiting was ordained a deacon by McCarrick in 2013, and a priest in 2014.

The 2018 directory lists Br. Andy Kemtz, IVE, as secretary to the cardinal, and gives St. John Baptist de la Salle as his residence.

Cardinal McCarrick has been the subject of several accusations of child sexual abuse and sexual misconduct involving seminarians and priests in recent months.

He was suspended from exercising his ministry in June following an investigation into a charge of sexual abuse, and last week he was accused of the sexual abuse of a minor.

McCarrick was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, and then served there as an auxiliary bishop.

He was bishop of two New Jersey dioceses before he was appointed Archbishop of Washington in 2000, where he served until his retirement in 2006.

In 2005 and 2007, two men received settlements from New Jersey dioceses over their abuse at the hands of McCarrick, who abused them while they were seminarians and priests.

The Institute of the Incarnate Word could not be reached for comment.

Cardinal O'Malley calls for 'clearer procedures' in bishop abuse cases

Tue, 07/24/2018 - 18:57

Boston, Mass., Jul 24, 2018 / 04:57 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- After numerous accusations of sexual abuse of minors and adults have arisen against a former Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston called Tuesday for bishops to be held accountable for sex abuse.

“These cases and others require more than apologies. They raise up the fact that when charges are brought regarding a bishop or a cardinal, a major gap still exists in the Church’s policies on sexual conduct and sexual abuse,” Cardinal O'Malley wrote July 24.

“While the Church in the United States has adopted a zero tolerance policy regarding the sexual abuse of minors by priests we must have clearer procedures for cases involving bishops. Transparent and consistent protocols are needed to provide justice for the victims and to adequately respond to the legitimate indignation of the community. The Church needs a strong and comprehensive policy to address bishops’ violations of the vows of celibacy in cases of the criminal abuse of minors and in cases involving adults.”

He said he had reached this conclusion through his experience in several dioceses and with the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

“The Church needs to swiftly and decisively take action regarding these matters of critical importance. In every instance of claims made by victims of sexual abuse, whether criminal violations or the abuse of power, the primary concern must be for the victim, their family and their loved ones. The victims are to be commended for bringing to light their tragic experience and must be treated with respect and dignity.”

The accusations “are understandably a source of great disappointment and anger for many,” Cardinal O'Malley stated.

The cardinal also addressed reports that he was contacted in 2015 by Fr. Boniface Ramsey, who was reporting allegations of McCarrick's misconduct with seminarians.

He said he did not “personally receive” the letter from Fr. Ramsey. “In keeping with the practice for matters concerning the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, at the staff level the letter was reviewed and determined that the matters presented did not fall under the purview of the Commission or the Archdiocese of Boston, which was shared with Fr. Ramsey in reply.”

Cardinal O'Malley added that three actions are now required of the Church: a fair and rapid adjudication of these accusations; an assessment of the adequacy of our standards and policies in the Church at every level, and especially in the case of bishops; and communicating more clearly to the Catholic faithful and to all victims the process for reporting allegations against bishops and cardinals.

“Failure to take these actions will threaten and endanger the already weakened moral authority of the Church and can destroy the trust required for the Church to minister to Catholics and have a meaningful role in the wider civil society,” said Cardinal O'Malley. “In this moment there is no greater imperative for the Church than to hold itself accountable to address these matters, which I will bring to my upcoming meetings with the Holy See with great urgency and concern.”

Massachusetts passes “NASTY Women” abortion act

Tue, 07/24/2018 - 18:30

Boston, Mass., Jul 24, 2018 / 04:30 pm (CNA).- Lawmakers in Massachusetts have passed new legislation that would ensure abortion remains legal in the state should the Supreme Court ever overturn Roe v. Wade. The full title of the bill is the “Negating Archaic Statutes Targeting Young Women Act,” but has been shortened to the “NASTY Women Act.” 

The bill overturns an 1845 law that made “procuring a miscarriage” illegal. That law, and other similar laws in other states, were rendered null after the Supreme Court found a constitutional right to abortion in its decision in Roe v. Wade.

Laws outlawing abortion remain on the books in several states. Abortion advocates fear that, should the Supreme Court reverse itself, they would come back in to force automatically.

The title of the bill is a reference to a comment made by then-candidate Donald Trump during a presidential candidates debate on Oct. 19, 2016. Trump referred to Hillary Clinton as a “nasty woman,” and the phrase then became a rallying cry among some female Clinton supporters.

Clinton carried the state of Massachusetts by 27 points during the 2016 presidential election.

The state legislature, where Democrats hold a two-thirds majority in both houses, passed the NASTY Women Act by a wide margin.

Massachusetts is the first state to move to preserve abortion access in the event of a Supreme Court reversal of cases like Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. If those decisions were overturned, states would again be free to make their own laws regarding abortion, including banning the procedure outright.

The quick passage of the bill was "not surprising, but disappointing," said James Driscoll, director of the Catholic Conference of Massachusetts.

Driscoll told CNA he found it interesting that the nearly two-centuries year old law prohibiting abortion in the state had remained on the books. He identified Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement as the motivation to pass the bill. 

"I just think it's something no one paid attention to until the whole Supreme Court vacancy opened up. It seemed to have gained steam through there."

In June, Kennedy announced he would be retiring from the Supreme Court, effective July 31. President Donald Trump has since nominated District of Columbia Court of Appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy.

Kavanaugh’s nomination was cheered by pro-life groups, who are hopeful that he could form part of a majority in favor of overturning Roe, should a suitable case come before the court. Kavanaugh has 12 years’ experience as an appellate court judge, is a father of two, a practicing Catholic, and a graduate of Yale University.

Massachusetts law presently requires that a parent or guardian consent for a minor to have an abortion. A state law prohibiting protests and prayer vigils within a 35-foot “buffer zone” of an abortion facility was unanimously struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2014.

Republican Governor Charlie Baker is expected to sign the bill into law.

The genius of woman: Dignity > Sameness

Tue, 07/24/2018 - 18:16

Denver, Colo., Jul 24, 2018 / 04:16 pm (CNA).- This week, CNA says farewell to our summer intern, Lizzy Joslyn. In her final week at CNA this summer, Lizzy offers "The Genius of Woman," a four-part series of interviews and profiles, based on Pope St. John Paul II's "Letter to Women," and interviews with seven Catholic women from very different walks of life. This is the second piece in that series:

John Paul II’s 1995 "Letter to Women" was written to praise and encourage women to embrace the beauty that God gave them - the“feminine genius”- despite social and cultural messages telling them to become something different.

In contemporary society, the pope wrote, “women's dignity has often been unacknowledged and their prerogatives misrepresented; they have often been relegated to the margins of society and even reduced to servitude. This has prevented women from truly being themselves and it has resulted in a spiritual impoverishment of humanity.”

The pope, on the contrary, encouraged viewing and valuing women from the perspective of their dignity, and the natural complementarity of men and women: “The creation of woman is thus marked from the outset by the principle of help: a help which is not one-sided but mutual. Woman complements man, just as man complements woman: men and women are complementary. Womanhood expresses the 'human' as much as manhood does, but in a different and complementary way.”

Rejecting women’s instinct for nurture and self-sacrifice is a part of a modern effort that “overcorrects” gender imbalances and discrimination against women, “by either repressing men and suggesting that men are bad and pushing them down… or on the other hand by trying to treat women as men,” said Michelle La Rosa, managing editor at CNA.

Careers and vocations based in self-giving are often looked down upon by a “feminist” society. Adding a family, or focusing on motherhood, can also be the source of criticism for some women in contemporary society.

 But the Church lifts high the call for women to serve, regarding such selflessness with great respect and importance. John Paul II, speaking of Mary, wrote,“For her, ‘to reign’ is to serve! Her service is ‘to reign’!” The same can be said for every woman’s--and person’s--call, he said.

 In light of that encouragement, some Catholic women have learned that lesson- “to reign is to serve.”

“Humanity itself owes much of its survival to the fact that women are nurturing,” said Amy Shupe, a teacher at Christian Brothers High School in St. Louis, Missouri.

Their talents in this area does not necessarily restrict them to one vocation. La Rosa and Ginny Kochis, a blogger on Catholic motherhood, both mentioned the life of Saint Zélie Martin--a woman who worked and raised a family with her husband, Louis Martin, who also worked.

“If a woman doesn’t want to work full time, if she wants to be a stay-at-home-mom, if men or women want to prioritize relationships and family above work, it’s almost seen as weakness and women are looked down upon if they can’t have it all,” said YouTuber Lizzie Reezay.

Two women shared their vocation stories with CNA—they are are wildly different, but both expressions of the “feminine genius” that John Paul II celebrated.

Women educating, raising generations to come

Amy Shupe felt a calling to dedicate her life to teaching a subject she never found easy. Her early years in school, she said, involved a lot of standardized test-taking. Seeing her poor results on such tests--particularly in math--discouraged her.

Her teachers’ reactions didn’t exactly uplift her, either.

“They didn’t point-blank,” tell her she couldn’t achieve higher scores in math, she said, but teachers would place a lot of weight on their students’ scores. “You kind of get the feeling that… it’s gonna be a real struggle for you, so maybe you should think about something else,” Shupe said.

In high school, though, she began to receive greater encouragement from her teachers. That’s when she discovered that she wanted to be that same source of encouragement for students who felt like they couldn’t do math.

“I have to help other people not feel the same way that I felt,” she said.

Now, Shupe is a high school teacher at Christian Brothers High School in St. Louis, Missouri. A 2017 recipient of a prestigious teacher’s award, the Distinguished Lasallian Educator Award, she invests copious amounts of her time and energy to the growth of her students.

“I work very hard at my job. I’m constantly thinking about it,” she said.

The role of a teacher can most certainly be taken on by men or women, but there’s something to be said for the emotionally intuitive side of women that lends itself to working with children, she said.

A mother of two children, Shupe exercises similar skills at work and at home.

“My number one role…is mom,” she said. “First, I’m a mother. I have two kids and I take care of them. And so then I think it easily translates into my classroom. You know, while those boys are not my flesh and blood, but I do know that… they have parents that are looking out for them,” said Shupe. Granted the trust of her students’ parents, she said, they are “put in my care day after day after day and I’m not there just to help them with math. I’m there to help them… learn about life… and have good influence on others.”


A Bride of Christ

A nun.

What the world sees: a humble, quiet, unsuspecting woman. Not exactly the “ideal” successful, commanding businesswoman. Mental pictures of “The Sound of Music” abound.

What Christ sees: His bride.

Sister Maria of the Capuchin Poor Clares in Denver, Colorado grew up in a strong Catholic household, but she never thought she would commit to the consecrated life.

In her younger years, Sister Maria was never a very committed practicer of the faith, she said. She attended Mass and received the Sacraments not “out of my own conviction,” she said, but more “of out of duty” to follow along with her family.

Things began to change one summer when she attended a retreat--one priest’s homily on God’s love “struck” her.

“This priest, I remember very, very clearly… he was talking about the love of God and he said, you know, ‘God loves us all the time, every moment. If he would just stop to love this one moment, we would just stop existing!”

Astounded by the gravity of this statement, Sister Maria began her search for ways to serve the God whose love, she had found, allowed her very existence. The next summer, she went on a mission to a poverty-ridden mountain town in Mexico.

There, she said, she found the poorest--yet, the richest--people.

“They were so pure and simple and giving and generous and they treated us like we were angels from God… they offered everything they had, they took us into their homes,” she remembered. “This pure life!”

Inspired after the mission, Sister Maria began to frequent a monastery near her home. The sisters, she observed, had a strangely similar poor-yet-rich complex. It took her months to admit it to herself, but Maria finally decided to discern her calling to be a nun.

A strong woman, says the world, is independent. But what if there is strength in dependence--on God?

John Paul II, in expressing his thanks for consecrated women, wrote, “Following the example of the greatest of women, the Mother of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word, you open yourselves with obedience and fidelity to the gift of God's love. You help the Church and all mankind to experience a ‘spousal’ relationship to God, one which magnificently expresses the fellowship which God wishes to establish with his creatures.”

This specific and crucial mission, to “help the Church and all mankind to experience a ‘spousal’ relationship to God” is one only women can fulfill. And, because of the world’s disdain for obedience and quietness, this noble mission is also often looked down upon.

Although Sister Maria lives behind closed doors, she lives pray for people outside those doors. “We are here for the world, for the sake of others,” she said.

To some women, a life like Sr. Clare’s might seem to impossible- too simple, too humble, not empowered.

Consecrated life, like motherhood, is sometimes regarded as less significant work than traditional employment.

“People are so afraid of permanent commitment,” said Sister Maria, adding that she has seen fewer and fewer vocations to the Poor Clares.

A strong woman, says society, is a woman who isn’t afraid to invest in herself and do what she pleases.

But a strong woman of faith, says God, is a woman who isn’t afraid to fully commit herself to Christ.

Not only do “feminists” disregard the gravity of such commitment, but they also constantly reach for ways to prove that they are not “different than men, instead of trying to compete or equal in their own way,” the nun said.

Even when it comes to roles in the Church.

“Some groups continue to demand priesthood for women,” she said, but this “doesn’t make much sense.”

Considering Mary, she said, there are many opportunities for women to have a strong influence on the church.

Mary “never claimed to be one of the apostles…. She had her own role, and continues to have it in the church,” she said. “Who can be more important… her role in salvation history… than Mary’s?”

Disclaiming that she did not encourage priesthood for women, she added, “In a way, Mary was a priest. She was the first one who carried Jesus… The body of Christ is Mary’s body. The Eucharistic Body, in a way, is Mary’s flesh.”

“Every Communion, you carry Jesus,” she said, and, quoting St. Francis, “You give birth to Jesus through your good works.”

Sister Maria referenced St. Clare’s teachings: “We can carry Jesus the same way that Mary carried him… Mary carried Jesus in her womb for nine months, but the faithful soul can carry him spiritually, always.”

Women, she said, should embrace the roles in the church that God has offered to them rather than scrambling for more roles. If man and woman were the same, she said, it wouldn’t be as beautiful.

Ultimately, each woman--and man, for that matter--is called to be vigilant of God’s wish for their life, said Sister Maria.

“It’s a journey that never ends. You will always be receiving the vocation from God every day and answering to a vocation every day,” she said. “Do not be afraid to give yourself to Christ.”



What #MeToo can learn from ‘Humanae vitae’

Tue, 07/24/2018 - 16:57

Denver, Colo., Jul 24, 2018 / 02:57 pm (CNA).- Sex “untethered” from reproduction can mean “whatever individual men decide it means to them, even violence and power,” says law professor Helen Alvaré, adding that the #MeToo movement can learn from the wisdom expressed by Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae vitae.

“When even the very thought of children is far removed from sexual intimacy, sex struggles to serve the man and woman together. Why? Because the man and woman's possible future — i.e., a child, a family, a marriage, extended kin, even love — is cut off from their present,” Alvaré wrote in the July issue of the Knights of Columbus’ Columbia Magazine.

“What Catholics are so concerned about when it comes to contraception," Alvaré wrote, is “the breaking apart of what should be held together, with the result that sex loses its beautiful mutuality and becomes something else.”

Humanae vitae teaches that “a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods," he wrote, "may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires."

“This is more than a little relevant to the current #MeToo moment. Without descending into the detailed accusations of so many women, we can summarize #MeToo sex as a set of words and acts of a sexual nature done to project power or to gain pleasure for one person. It is the understatement of the year to say that these words and actions "lack mutuality" or a common — let alone good — end.”

Alvaré, cofounder of the movement Women Speak for Themselves, said that artificial contraception, which was expected to improve marital love and “free women,” has instead led to declining marriage rates and declining rates of happiness among women.

Because contraception separates sex from the “joint future” for husbands and wives implied by openness to conception, “sex becomes something less than it is meant to be. Perhaps our current #MeToo crisis has the potential to provoke greater sympathy for Humanae vitae's holistic vision of human sexuality and a second look at the Church's age-old wisdom.”

Alvaré’s essay was featured in an issue of Columbia Magazine dedicated to the fiftieth anniversary of Humanae vitae, which was promulgated July 25, 1968. The issue also included reflections from authors Mary Eberstadt and George Weigel, lawyer Elizabeth Kirk and theologians Janet Smith and David Crawford, along with profiles of Knights of Columbus members and their families.

Why so serious? Catholic professor talks NFP

Tue, 07/24/2018 - 15:00

Denver, Colo., Jul 24, 2018 / 01:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Ramping up to the 50th anniversary of Humanae vitae, a Catholic professor analyzed the encyclical’s guidance on responsible parenthood- discussing when a couple might be open to more children, and when they might choose to delay openness to new life.

Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical explained that “with regard to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time.”

The encyclical said that couples may never licitly use artificial contraception, though couples may use their awareness of a woman’s natural fertility cycle to determine whether to engage in potentially procreative acts; this is ordinarily referred to as "natural family planning," or NFP.

But what is a “serious reason?” How should couples discern when to be open to children, and when it might be prudent to wait?

Dr. Kevin Miller, a professor of Franciscan University of Steubenville and a bioethics consultant for the online NFP program of Marquette University College of Nursing Institute for Natural Family Planning, discussed Pope Paul VI’s encyclical with CNA.

Miller said that he has very rarely witnessed examples of practicing Catholics- those using natural family planning methods- abstaining selfishly from procreation. More often, he said, he has seen couples struggle with scrupulosity about openness to new life.

“I sometimes run into this idea that there is this crisis in the Church today of couples using NFP for bad reasons, for selfish reasons, or for inadequate reasons to avoid procreation. Honestly, I’m not seeing that.”

“When I’m dealing with people who are using NFP, I actually witness more cases in which there is a significant underestimation of the seriousness of a situation than I do situations in which there is a problem of overestimating the seriousness of the situation.”

“Serious reasons” for using NFP to avoid conception, Miller said, are not limited to life-and-death situations.

The professor said that years before Humanae vitae’s publication, Pope Pius XII issued two addresses: one to Italian midwives and one to an Italian family association. He said the statements, both released in 1951, further clarify the Church’s use of the word “serious” in this context.

Humanae vitae uses that language- 'serious reasons.' I think it ought to be interpreted in continuity with what Pope Pius XII had said 17 years earlier.”

Pius “referred to 'serious reasons that not rarely occur,'” said Miller.

Reasons can be “serious in the sense of not just a trivial reason...[but Pope Pius XII] indicates that that can happen commonly,” he said.

Miller also pointed to the language used by John Paul II regarding family planning. He said the late pope’s word choice leaned towards “unselfish reasons.”

“In other words, you get the idea that if a reason is an unselfish one, if it doesn’t have to do with hedonistic wishes or something like that, then it’s probably a serious reason.”

In his encyclical, Pope Paul VI gave four broad categories that qualify as serious reasons to avoid potentially procreative acts – medical, psychological, economic, and social reasons.

Miller said if the medical or psychological risks of pregnancy are more than trivial, they qualify as serious reasons. This could mean a physical or mental strain on the mother, he said, but also health issues for other members of the family.  

Using NFP to attempt avoiding or delaying pregnancy is acceptable “if having another child, at least for a time, is going to impose significant health risks on typically the mother, but possibly on some other family member,” he said.

“Maybe there is already a child in the family who has health problems who would be harder to afford to care for that child if you have another child,” he added.

Miller also pointed to the economic factors that could qualify as serious reasons to delay pregnancy through natural family planning, among them the likelihood that additional children would restrict a family’s basic necessities, including food, shelter, clothing, and education.

“One way I like to look at it would be to say if having another child would put the family in the sort of economic situation that if it were the result of, let’s say, a low wage would be called an unjust situation by the Church. I would say that counts as a serious economic reason for using natural family planning.”

He said the last category, social reasons, is not as clearly defined by the Church, but he said it might include those situations in which a family could better serve the common good by having a “somewhat of a smaller family.”

“Some families, in response to the teachings of the Church in places like Familaris consortio, wish to serve society in some special way, maybe like reach out to the needy in society,” said Miller.

These reasons, he said, certainly do not require couples to refrain from procreation, he said, noting there is no flowchart or algorithm for decision-making.

Rather, he said the decision should be made with honesty and prayer, using moral reasoning over moral rationalizing.

“First of all a couple has to make sure they are being honest with themselves, make sure they are reasoning honestly about their situation and not rationalizing,” he said. “Secondly, I would also say…do your moral reasoning in light of your relationship with God. It should be a prayerful as well as an intellectually honest discernment.”

Miller cautioned that couples ought “not to be scrupulous in these matters” if prayer and honesty accompany their decision. He said that unlike artificial contraception, NFP calls couples naturally to be sacrificial.

“I would also even say that, if a couple used natural family planning, the self-mastery and the discipline, that the Church has said comes with use of natural family planning, the more it is likely that as time goes by they will develop even more the virtues of generosity and selflessness.”

Grand jury report into Pennsylvania dioceses details “unacceptable” behavior, bishop says

Tue, 07/24/2018 - 14:30

Erie, Pa., Jul 24, 2018 / 12:30 pm (CNA).- Bishop Lawrence Persico of Erie has warned Catholics that the results of a Pennsylvania grand jury investigation into sexual abuse of minors will make for disturbing reading. The release of the 800-page report has been delayed by order of the state’s supreme court.

"It certainly is going to be sobering," said Bishop Persico to news outlet Penn Live.

"The report is rather graphic, and it will be very detailed on what has occurred," he added.

The report is the result of a two-year investigation by state authorities into the handling of clerical sexual abuse in the five Pennsylvania dioceses – Altoona-Johnstown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. The dioceses were served with wide ranging subpoenas and turned over decades’ worth of files concerning the handling of abuse allegations by Church authorities.

A former diocesan official in Pennsylvania, who was involved in developing responses to the subpoena, told CNA that complying with the court order took considerable time and effort.

“It covered everything we had, it was very broadly drawn. We handed over years’ and years’ worth of files.”

It is expected that the report will include details of instances of abuse, the handling of allegations by diocesan authorities, and also measures taken by local bishops to deal with accused clerics.

In some cases, priests who were credibly accused of sexual abuse were moved from parish to parish over a period of years, or even allowed to remain in active ministry outside the diocese. Bishop Persico alluded to this kind of behavior while speaking about the report to local media on 23 July.

"I think in looking historically at it you may see bishops named who probably in view of the way we do things now as compared to 20 or 30 years ago, it would not be considered acceptable that type of action.”

The final report was scheduled for public release at the end of June, but it has been held back following legal challenges from a number individuals named in the report, including some priests. They argue they were denied due process because they were only allowed to submit written statements, not testify in person or cross-examine other witnesses.

They also claim that their reputational rights, protected by the state constitution, were harmed by the inclusion of their names even though they were not accused of a crime.

The same former official told CNA that while he did not know anyone challenging the report’s release, those doing so may have legitimate concerns.

“There’s a feeling, at least among some people, that they are being made to carry the can for a previous generation’s misdeeds.”

Bishop Persico’s own diocese, Erie, has been unusually forthright in handling abuse allegations, publicly listing the names of all priests and lay employees against whom credible allegations have been received.

Bishop Persico said this policy has helped victims.

"It's an opportunity for them to feel validated. To tell you the truth, ever since we started publishing names I'm really surprised at how that has been helpful to victims. I'm a firm believer in that because of what I experience in just speaking to victims."

Persico also said he does not know who is challenging the report’s release, but that he looks forward to it eventually being made public, even if it will be hard reading for Catholics.

"I know I did not [block publication]," he said. "I've been calling from the very beginning that the grand jury report be released so it can be a voice for the victims. I'm not sure who all is behind this."

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro, whose office led the investigation, is fighting the court-imposed stay.

“The people of Pennsylvania have a right to see the report, know who is attempting to block its release and why, and to hear the voices of the victims of sexual abuse within the Church.”

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is still considering when and in what form the report will be released.  

The consistent pro-life ethic can’t be ‘Calvinball’, prof tells pro-life Dems

Tue, 07/24/2018 - 12:56

Denver, Colo., Jul 24, 2018 / 10:56 am (CNA).- Efforts to advance a pro-life ethic need to be “authentic, consistent and beautiful” if they are to combat the “throwaway culture” diagnosed by Pope Francis--and they must reject any similarity to “Calvinball”, the fictional game without rules from the Calvin and Hobbes comic, Charles Camosy, a Fordham University ethics professor, told a conference of pro-life Democrats.
Pope Francis is advancing a “consistent life ethic,” that does not “mean whatever anyone wants it to mean,” said Camosy, who criticized the inconsistencies behind some purported pro-life advocacy in the name of a “consistent life ethic.”
“I’ve even seen people use the consistent life ethic to try to take a pro-abortion position,” Camosy told a conference of the Democrats for Life of America July 21 during their inaugural annual conference in Denver.

“Because there are no rules it risks collapsing distinctions between issues, so that virtually any debate over a government program at all becomes just as important as debate over abortion or nuclear weapons.”
“If this is what the consistent life ethic is, then traditional pro-lifers rightly reject it. I would reject it. It’s just Calvinball.”
In response to this and other aspects of a “politically incoherent culture,” Camosy repeatedly emphasized Pope Francis’ rejection of the “throwaway culture,”
“Pope Francis’ pro-life vision is where we should be focused,” he said, characterizing it as the “key to the future of the prolife movement.”
“I think it’s the kind of consistent position that could reach the very people we need on our team, especially young people and people of culture.”
His first principle included rejection of the direct killing of the innocent. But it did not end there.
“To limit pro-life issues to those which only deal with the direct killing of the innocent—which is ridiculously important obviously—seems to be totally wrong headed,” he said.
Camosy lamented high maternal mortality rate in the U.S., especially among African-American women; intimate partner violence, which is correlated to abortion; and the practice of shackling of women at the U.S.-Mexico border, leading to miscarriage in some cases.
He denounced the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants to countries where a good percentage of them are about to killed. Camosy cited the argument of Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Texas, who has said mass deportation of people to countries with deadly violence was comparable to driving people to abortion clinic.
Camosy has analyzed Pope Francis’ critique of the “throwaway culture,” drawing from it seven principles.
“Our failure to aid is often part of the throwaway culture, and a kind of violence, especially when death is the result,” he named as one principle. He also advocated the principle “resist appeals to individual autonomy and privacy which detach us from our duty to aid.”
While Camosy said he did not advocate that every pro-life advocate do everything, he said he couldn’t envision a self-described pro-life advocate who rejected these principles.
“At least if we take the words of Jesus seriously, we put ourselves at risk of hellfire because of our failure to aid,” he said.
Among the Catholic sources he invoked were Matthew 25 in which Jesus separates the goats from the sheep on the basis of whether they aided those in need; Jesus’ parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus;  Gratian’s Decretum, which says “If you have not fed the hungry man you have killed him”; St. Ambrose of Milan’s warning, quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, if your greed leads to the death of the poor you are guilty of indirect homicide.”
Among other principles he named were resistance to the use of violence “at every turn,” because of its effects on both the victim and perpetrator. There should be a priority on protecting and supporting the lives of the most vulnerable, especially those who cannot speak in their own defense. People should “resist language, practices and social structures which detach us from the full reality and dignity of the marginalized,” especially as these are “hidden in and facilitated by consumer culture.”
People must create a “culture of encounter” especially with those we find “the most difficult to show mercy and love.” Further, they must “go to the peripheries and show hospitality and care for the stranger.” Finally, they must acknowledge mutuality both between human persons and between human persons and the rest of creation.
Camosy saw potential for outreach and persuasion to animal welfare advocates, citing “the horrific things we do to nonhuman animals just to get cheap meat on our place.”
“Talk about a population that cannot speak up on its own defense.”
Pro-life and pro-animal rights activism has much in common, such as the legal fights of activists and journalists “simply to film the reality that has happened,” he said, invoking the Center for Medical Progress’ videos of abortion providers.
“None of us at the end of the day what to know what is happening either in abortion clinics or factory farms.”
Camosy was skeptical about the future of the pro-life movement in its current configuration.
“I think we need a different vision of ‘the good’ which potential converts will see as consistent, authentic and beautiful,” he said. “Right now I think they look at the dominant prolife movement and see just the opposite.”
In Camosy’s view, a pro-life movement that is tied to President Donald Trump “has no chance of winning the future.”
About 75 percent of voters of color strongly dislike Trump and he polls at 21 percent among Millennials, while the Republican Party polls at 17 percent among the same age group.
Supreme Court decisions or smaller pieces of legislation might end abortion protections, “only to have the culture lost on this issue because ‘pro-life’ is identified with Trump and the Republican Party,” Camosy said.
Camosy praised some work of the Susan B. Anthony List, which backed pro-life Democrat Rep. Dan Lipinski of Illinois against a strong primary challenge.
However, he lamented the “unwillingness of traditional pro-lifers to help pro-life Democrats,” charging that this encourages a “vicious cycle” that fails to support pro-life votes.
“It’s not about Right or Left, big or small government. Rather, it’s about consistently advocating the least of us,” Camosy said.

'Humanae vitae' saves marriages, says Minneapolis bishop

Mon, 07/23/2018 - 20:00

Minneapolis, Minn., Jul 23, 2018 / 06:00 pm (CNA).- Bishop Andrew Cozzens, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of St.Paul and Minneapolis has given a series of talks ahead of the anniversary of Humanae Vitae. He has used the talks to highlight the damage done to couples and families by artificial contraception, contrasting it with the benefits of adhering to the Church’s teaching.

In a talk to young adults at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis on June 28, he invited listeners to consider what the sexual revolution had promised and what it had actually delivered.

“Let’s just step back and ask ourselves, ‘Has it been so great?’ … This idea that sex could be no pressure, no fear of pregnancy and only amount to the expression of my love for that person — has that actually produced the results that society says?”

In an earlier address at St. Stephen’s Church, also in Minneapolis, he said that the practice of artificial contraception was directly linked to the increased divorce rates, and that couples who reject it have a higher chance of staying together. He drew the connection during a talk helping to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Humanae vitae.

St. Stephen’s is also home to the Sagrada Familia center, which provides assistance and support for couples seeking to use natural family planning. He used the occasion to reflect on how the world has changed in the half-century after the release of Blessed Pope Paul VI’s famous  encyclical which affirmed the traditional prohibition of artificial contraception.

The encyclical contains one of the Church’s “most controversial teachings, but also, in a certain way, one of her most important,” said Cozzens.

Condemning artificial contraception is something that makes Catholics “most radical,” he explained. “We stand out as Catholics by our declaration that contraception is morally evil,” while noting that most other Christian denominations no longer share this belief.

While this may be difficult for many to grapple with and follow, Cozzens said that the failure to heed Paul VI’s prophetic warning had warped the culture and ushered in an increase in various societal ills, such as abortion and unwed pregnancy, as well as marital breakdown and divorce.

“Much of what we see around us in the culture today, 50 years later, is actually the result of not following God's plan for sexuality and marriage”.

“This is the direct result of the breaking down of the sacredness of sexuality.”

Cozzens explained how Blessed Pope Paul VI had predicted these problems when he wrote that if sex was stripped of its procreative potential and orientation, women would be treated as a “mere instruments” of satisfaction by men, who would “forget the reverence due to a woman.”

The introduction of artificial contraception into marriage has a transformative effect on the marital act, Cozzens said, one which “turns that act into something that is not a covenantal, sacramental, symbolic, total gift of self” because it excludes God’s plan along with the potential of marital fertility.

Acting against this plan has “consequences,” warned Cozzens, observing that about 50 percent of marriages in the United States now end in divorce, an increase of “several hundred percent” since Humanae Vitae was published.

Alternatively, the bishop said, couples who follow faithfully the Church’s teaching on contraception and relied on natural family planning--a Church-approved method of observing a woman’s natural cycle of fertility and abstaining from sexual relations when necessary-- have a much higher success rate of staying married.

While living this teaching faithfully requires considerably more effort by married couples than does artificial contraception, Cozzens said that because it "requires discipline and sacrifice” it helps to strengthen the love and respect between husband and wife.

Statistical studies "prove that the Church is right on this teaching," said Cozzens.

"Couples who practice this teaching of the Church have about a 98 to 99 percent success rate in marriage."

Married couples who disregard the Church’s warnings against contraception, he warned, were depriving themselves of the vital support of God’s love, and “not experiencing the joy He desires to have and share” with them.

“Let’s pray for each other, and for our world, that our Church and our world will come to reverence this beautiful teaching about marriage, so that we might remain in Him, and His love and joy might increase.”

Humanae Vitae was published on July 25, 1968, the fiftieth anniversary of its publication is on Wednesday.

Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen, controversial Seattle emeritus, dies at 96

Mon, 07/23/2018 - 18:00

Helena, Mont., Jul 23, 2018 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- Archbishop Raymond G. Hunthausen died on Sunday, aged 96. The archbishop emeritus of Seattle was the last surviving American bishop to have attended Vatican Council II. He died in his home diocese of Helena, Montana, in the company of his extended family.

Archbishop Hunthausen was an outspoken and often controversial leader in the American Church. His pubic image was anchored by a bold and uncompromising stance against nuclear weapons, but his twenty-one years in Seattle were marked by division and dispute over his governance of the archdiocese.

Born August 21, 1921, in Anaconda, Montana, Raymond Gerhardt Hunthausen was the eldest of seven children. As a young man, he attended Carroll College in the state capital of Helena, graduating with honors and a chemistry degree. While he initially intended to become an engineer, his spiritual director Fr. Bernard Topel, later Bishop of Spokane, helped him discover a priestly vocation.

Hunthausen entered St. Edward’s Seminary in Kenmore, Washington, in 1943 and was ordained a priest three years later. In 1946, as a newly ordained priest, he returned to Carroll College, serving as a chemistry instructor and earning a Master of Science degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1953. In 1957, he was made president of Carroll College.

In July of 1962, Pope St. John XXIII named Hunthausen as the sixth bishop of Helena. He became the youngest and newest American bishop at Vatican Council II, where he attended all four sessions.

Pope Paul VI appointed Bishop Hunthausen to lead the Archdiocese of Seattle in February of 1975, and it was in this position that he would come to national attention.

As Archbishop of Seattle, Hunthausen took a prominent and unflinching stance against nuclear weapons. The Trident program, which equipped a new generation of ballistic missile submarines, was based in the archdiocese. In perhaps his most famous quote, Archbishop Hunthausen called Trident the “Auschwitz of Pugent Sound.” His public decision to withhold half his federal taxes in protest resulted in the government garnishing his wages. His opposition to nuclear weapons and his steadfast commitment to peace led to his receiving the Thomas Merton Award in 1982.

Yet, despite his leading role in campaigns for peace and justice, concerns about his doctrinal leadership of the archdiocese came to overshadow much of his time in office.

From at least 1978, Vatican authorities received numerous complaints that parts of church teaching were being obscured or ignored in the Archdiocese of Seattle, and that this was influencing pastoral practices.

Those complaints led to an apostolic visitation in 1983. The visitation, a kind of canonical inspection and fact finding mission, was conducted by Archbishop James Hickey of Washington, D.C., who interviewed more than 60 people, clergy and laity, and submitted a report to Rome.

The visitation ended in 1986 with a letter to Hunthausen from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then-Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The letter praised Hunthausen as “a man of Gospel values, sensitive to the needs of the sufferings and the aggrieved” and said his concern for justice and peace was well known.

While observing that Hunthausen had been subjected to “exaggerated criticism” from groups “wholly lacking in a spirit of cooperation,” Cardinal Ratzinger outlined several areas in the archdiocese in need of “correction and improvement.”

Those areas proved to forecast some of the most contentious issues in the Church today.

Among the issues was the widespread practice of encouraging divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive the Eucharist, despite the Church’s clear teaching that these relationships were objectively irregular and the practice itself was a witness contrary to indissolubility of marriage.

Ratzinger also noted “repeated instances” of allowing non-Catholics to receive the Eucharist at Mass, and instances in which Catholics were allowed to receive communion at Protestant services.

In total, five areas needing attention were outlined. The others included concerns that some local Catholic hospitals were providing contraceptive sterilization services, that Church teaching on homosexuality was being distorted or obscured through the influence of outside groups, and that there were problems with priestly formation of seminarians.

While the CDF recognized that Hunthausen had made positive efforts to respond to the criticisms, Donald Wuerl was appointed an auxiliary bishop in the archdiocese in 1986, with special responsibility for the five problem areas. Despite public hostility to Wuerl by some in the archdiocese, he and Hunthausen forged an enduring personal friendship before Wuerl was relieved of his responsibility in 1987, and appointed Bishop of Pittsburgh in 1988.

Nevertheless, an air of resentment toward perceived Vatican interference overshadowed the rest of Hunthausen’s tenure. Bishop Thomas Murphy was appointed archbishop coadjutor in 1987, and Pope St. John Paul II accepted Hunthausen’s resignation in 1991. Aged only 70, this was five full years before Hunthausen would have reached the ordinary retirement age for a bishop.

In 2002, at the height of the sexual abuse crisis, it emerged that police had informed him in 1986 about an investigation into the Bishop of Spokane, Lawrence Welsh in 1986. Police met with Hunthausen following an accusation that Welsh had attempted to strangle a male-prostitute during an encounter in Chicago that year. While Welsh admitted to the encounter, no further action was taken and he was allowed to continue in episcopal ministry.

In retirement, Hunthausen returned to Montana, living with his brother, also a priest. His reputation as an outspoken advocate for peace remained intact, though his time in Seattle remained a source of controversy.

While perhaps inextricably linked to controversy, Archbishop Hunthausen will be fondly remembered by many in the Church, especially in Montana and Seattle. Even many of those most often considered to be his critics considered him to be a man sincere in his convictions who, in the words of Cardinal Ratzinger, “strove with heart and mind to be a good bishop of the Church, eager to implement the renewal called for in the decrees of the Vatican Council II.”

The genius of woman: Women supporting women

Mon, 07/23/2018 - 17:47

Denver, Colo., Jul 23, 2018 / 03:47 pm (CNA).- This week, CNA says farewell to our summer intern, Lizzy Joslyn. In her final week at CNA this summer, Lizzy offers "The Genius of Woman," a four-part series of interviews and profiles, based on Pope St. John Paul II's "Letter to Women," and interviews with seven Catholic women from very different walks of life. This is the first piece in that series:


The “genius of woman” or the “feminine genius,” a phrase made popular by Pope St. John Paul II’s 1995 "Letter to Women," can be summarized as the distinct social and interpersonal strengths of women, offered generously to the world.

John Paul wrote: “Much more important is the social and ethical dimension, which deals with human relations and spiritual values. In this area, which often develops in an inconspicuous way beginning with the daily relationships between people, especially within the family, society certainly owes much to the ‘genius of women.’"

Such “genius,” he said, can and should be exercised in various environments--in all environments--but it develops at the basic level of the family unit.

The following are two stories of lives centered and exemplifying the feminine genius. They are stories of women supporting other women.

Sister Maria: a “spiritual family in Christ”

Two foundationally important ideals within consecrated life are “love of God and love of neighbor,” Sister Maria told CNA.

Sister Maria, a cloistered nun of the Capuchin Poor Clares, spoke to CNA about the centrality of dedication to Christ in the consecrated life, while she highlighted the “fraternal life” of the cloister.

The nuns “build a spiritual family in Christ,” she said, caring for one another “especially when sisters are sick.” As nuns age, the Poor Clares do not bring them to “assisted living or hospice,” she said, adding “we do all the caring in the community.”

But “it’s not… out of duty,” she said. “It’s out of that warmness, love and caring as sisters and mothers.”

Sister Maria said the nuns of her community take care of one another “as a mother takes care of her children,” she said.

Veronica and Miriam Miller: the strength of sisterhood

“Spiritual families” and biological families blossom, Pope St. John Paul II taught, when a woman’s love--the feminine genius--is central to their functioning. So too does society.

For John Paul, understanding that the family is the most basic and essential building block of society was crucial to comprehending the importance of a woman’s familial--and, consequently, cultural--role. In a 1995 letter to Gertrude Mongella, Secretary General of the Fourth World Conference on Women of the United Nations, John Paul II wrote:

“At the personal level one’s dignity is experienced not as a result of the affirmation of rights on the juridical and international planes, but as the natural consequence of the concrete material, emotional and spiritual care received in the heart of one’s family.”

Women, he said, are central to a family’s love.

“No response to women’s issues can ignore women’s role in the family or take lightly the fact that every new life is totally entrusted to the protection and care of the woman carrying it in her womb (Cf. John Paul II Evangelium Vitae, 58).

“A mother’s presence in the family, so critical to the stability and growth of that basic unity of society, should instead be recognized, applauded and supported in every possible way.”

Every women is crucial to the cohesion and strength of families, John Paul taught--regardless of her place in the family. Sisters and daughters are called to the same nurturing roles within their families--such is the case of the Miller family of Golden, Colorado.

Veronica Miller, 22, and her sister, Miriam, 18, are two of six children. Their upbringing was largely based on caring for their fellow siblings, both women said, and this shaped them personally and in their relationship.

Caring for their brother, John, 20, has been a significant element in their experience of caring for one another. John is on the autistic spectrum and is non-verbal.

“It’s crazy because he’s… formed how our family has been together and how we’ve grown up… in a really positive and really good way,” said Miriam. “Our family is super close, and I think that he’s a huge reason why.”

Both sisters agreed that the family’s efforts to care for John have given them communication and cooperation skills among one another and people outside of their family, Veronica said.

John has “helped us read people, so we read each other better, in a sense… because we’re used to not using language with him,” Miriam said.

Coordinating who would take care of John when was a part of this too, said Veronica.

“There would always be one of us who couldn’t go to dinner with the rest of the family because they had to stay back with John,” she said. “You’d have to cancel your plans with your friends because John didn’t have someone to take care of him.”

“We’re always the caregivers, you know, and we always have to sacrifice to be able to love him better.”

This, however, was never a “major source of conflict” for their family--it built them up more than anything, she added. “I would not be who I am if I didn’t have all of them.”

John brought Veronica and Miriam “closer because we know that we have a responsibility to him,” said Miriam.

Their family’s selfless culture, said Veronica, is also rooted in the influence of their mother--the model of the feminine genius for her daughters.

“It’s very clear that she loves all of us by… the things that she’ll do for us,” said Veronica of her mother.

As the two sisters grew up and into their lives as students, their bond, built on self-giving, held steadfast, they say. Veronica and Miriam grew especially close when they both studied at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. It was here that the sisters deepened their faith as individuals, but also together.

“It was just the coolest thing ever,” said Miriam. “I felt like I got to re-know her.”

Veronica, who lived in an off-campus house, would invite Miriam over frequently, both sisters reported.

“She would always make me tea,” said Miriam, “and we would go to Mass together.”

Visiting her sister was a relief for Miriam in the midst of a sometimes socially overwhelming freshman-year experience, she said. It also gave Veronica the chance to exercise the “spiritual motherhood” that Letter to Women discusses, she said.

“College is funny,” said Veronica. “You’re so inclined to only think about yourself all the time.”

“I found that to be a challenge, actually, in the beginning of college when I didn’t have her there. Just because I’d realize, ‘When was the last time I did something for someone else?’ or really thought about someone else besides myself.”

“So having her there just, I think, really encouraged me to… exercise the motherly virtues that I had kind of started to develop younger.”

“It helped me, really, to strengthen those virtues because we didn’t have our mom there or my older sister there…We kind of exchanged that with each other. So then she was able to… love me in a very real way.”

Veronica’s support meant more to Miriam more than Veronica knew. As the sisters were interviewed separately, it became clear that Veronica was largely unaware of the effects of her leadership.

Seeing her sister pursue her faith with such fervency, Miriam said, was “inspiring.”

“I definitely feel like I found my faith more through her because… she was leading me. But it wasn’t… pushy,” she said. Small actions like invites to attend daily Mass, she said, made her realize just how solid her sister’s faith was.

The feminine genius, established and fortified in their family, extended beyond their relationship. Veronica, said Miriam, helped her to develop deep and meaningful friendships.

“I have so many different relationships in place because of Veronica,” Miriam said. Her sister’s willingness to befriend people outside of her assumed “typical” circle, resulting in many unlikely friendships, is something she learned to imitate: “I’ve learned how to reach out of my comfort zone because I’ve seen her do it too.”

“They all come from these different walks of life… it doesn’t matter to her. Which I think is really cool. That’s definitely impacted how I’ve made friends.”

Veronica also showed Miriam an example of emotionally supportive friendships--something that certainly speaks of the feminine genius.

“They all feel so comfortable telling her stuff,” Miriam said of Veronica’s friends.

Veronica herself felt her friendships strengthen because of her their renewed, intuitive sisterly bonds.

“I was able to be more in touch with her and maybe even with my other friends, too,” she said. “I don’t think I’d be able to have… that same relationship with them if I didn’t have sisters.”

Thus, the feminine genius, if adequately fostered in the context of the home, has the capability to pour into relationships of all kinds and help to water the thirst of humanity for genuine love. The impact of “the genius of woman” is unparalleled.

“Describe your sister.”

CNA interviewed the Miller sisters separately, but we asked both sisters to describe the other. Here are their answers:

Miriam, on Veronica:

-“She’s super big-hearted and she’s super compassionate and she’s super kind.”
- She is “wise beyond her years.”
- She “has so many smart things to say.”
-“She cares SO much.”
-“She’s super hard working and super smart, but she’s so humble about it… She’ll never talk about it. Like she didn’t tell you she graduated from high school when she was 15.” (Miriam is correct--Veronica definitely did not tell me this.)
-“She’s really accomplished.”
-She’s humble: “She’s so good at what she does, but she won’t talk about it.”
-She’s “super pretty, super nice, super holy… and it doesn’t affect her.”

Veronica, on Miriam:

-“She cares about other people a lot. If she would get together with someone and have coffee with them, she’s totally happy sitting and listening to the other person talk the whole time and will ask the other person questions and doesn’t really talk about herself.”
-“She’s very joyful. Like, all the time.”
-“She’s awesome. She’s out of town right now, so I miss her, too.”
-“Just in the way she lives, you can just tell that she cares so much about other people.”
-“If you ask her if she has a hair tie, she’ll literally pull the hair tie out of her hair and give it to you.”
-“She’s super strong.”
-“And she’s very mature, too, I think.”

Courage conference celebrates Father John Harvey

Sun, 07/22/2018 - 07:00

Philadelphia, Pa., Jul 22, 2018 / 05:00 am (CNA).- The Catholic group Courage International hosted its 30th annual Courage and EnCourage conference last week, which aimed to offer men and women with same-sex attraction inspiration from the organization’s founder, the late Father John Harvey.

“This year we had the opportunity to remember the legacy of Father Harvey who is our founding director,” said Ann Schneible, communications director for Courage International.

“This is really important, especially for our new members who joined since he stepped down from the position in 2008,” she told CNA.

More than 300 people attended the conference, which was hosted on July 12-15 at Villanova University in Philadelphia, Pa., where Harvey was born. The event also recognized what would have been the priest’s 100th birthday on April 14. He died in 2010.  

Among the conference speakers were Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia and Johnnette Benkovic, host of the EWTN series Women of Grace. Schneible said many of the speakers personally knew Harvey, giving witness to the priest’s gentleness, patience, and humor.

The conference also featured a panel of Courage and EnCourage members and chaplains, who shared their personal experiences of Harvey.

Schneible said the event’s theme, “faithful to the mission,” was inspired by a quote from Father Harvey.

“He said he wanted to be remembered as having been ‘faithful to a mission.’  He wasn’t just serving people out of obedience; he really had a heart for this ministry, especially for the people….He really ministered to the whole human person – heart, mind, and soul.”

Born in 1918, Harvey joined the novitiate of the Oblates of St Francis de Sales 18 years later. With master’s degrees in psychology and philosophy, he was ordained a priest in 1944. He began Courage in 1980 at the request of Cardinal Terence Cooke, a former Archbishop of New York.

“We had a chance to learn about his life and the stories from other members, who shared their experiences with them. So we got to see this man be brought to life for those who didn’t know him. This person who had overseen this wonderful ministry,” she said.

Schneible also pointed to the community experience the conference offered to people with same-sex attraction. Courage’s core values, she said, are “all community based.”

“Our members, they have this shared experience. ....Everyone has a unique story. What really binds them, maybe beyond their experience of same-sex-attraction, is their commitment to the Church,” she said.

“That’s why the name of this ministry is Courage. They have this courageous commitment to living the Church’s teaching authentically on [chastity]. And, that brings a bond with it.”

The first Courage meeting was held in 1980, and the initial group developed the five foundational goals of Courage – chastity, prayer and dedication, fellowship, support, and good role models.

Courage International offers support for people with same-sex attraction who have chosen to pursue a chaste lifestyle. EnCourage supports family members and friends of people with same-sex attraction, teaching them how to encounter their loved ones with compassion.

“What’s really special about this yearly event is that it’s really an opportunity to let our members come together. They see old friends, they get to pick new friends, and it really has the feeling of a family reunion,” said Schneible.


American Bishop-Delegates Confirmed for Youth Synod

Sat, 07/21/2018 - 16:45

Washington D.C., Jul 21, 2018 / 02:45 pm (CNA).- The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) announced Monday that Pope Francis has ratified the selection of five bishops chosen to attend the 25th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will meet to discuss young people, the faith, and vocational discernment.

The delegates were elected by the bishops of the United States and confirmed by the pope.

They are:

·         Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

·         Archbishop José H. Gomez, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Vice President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

·         Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth

·         Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, Diocese of Bridgeport, member of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth

·         Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis

The names of four of the delegates, Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop Gomez, Archbishop Chaput, and Bishop Barron, were first reported by CNA in November last year.

The General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will take place in Rome this October, following a global process of consultation and preparation, including a pre-synod meeting in Rome led by the pope and attended by 300 young adult delegates. The meeting produced a concluding Pre-Synodal document summarizing the world-wide responses of young people to the consultation process.

In June, the working document, or Instrumentum Laboris, for the October General Assembly was released. It includes a summary of the Synod consultations to date and outline its aims.

The Synod will take place on 3-28 October, 2018.

Planned Parenthood asked to prove fetal tissue was not sold for profit

Sat, 07/21/2018 - 14:00

Oakland, Calif., Jul 21, 2018 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- Attorneys for David Daleiden, a pro-life advocate and journalist who released videos on Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue procurement, have asked the abortion provider to prove it has not sold fetal tissue for commercial gain.

Daleiden was the project head for the pro-life group Center for Medical Progress, which in 2015 released several videos of conversations with Planned Parenthood executives. The videos alleged that Planned Parenthood affiliates were illegally selling fetal body parts for profit. Those accusations have since been dropped.

The recent legal action is part of Planned Parenthood Federation of America v Center for Medical Progress, in which a court ruled last August that the videos had been obtained illegally.

At a July 19 hearing at U.S. District Court in Oakland California, Daleiden’s defense team, including attorneys from the non-profit Thomas More Society, asked the court to compel Planned Parenthood to prove that its affiliates have not profited from fetal tissue transactions.

The attorneys have specifically asked for documented invoices.

Planned Parenthood has said previously it followed federal laws that forbid entities to “acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human fetal tissue for valuable consideration.”

“We invite them to prove it,” said Peter Breen of the non-profit Thomas More Society, and a member of Daleiden’s legal team.

“The law is simple. If the payments received for fetal body tissue exceeded the allowable costs, then Planned Parenthood and its affiliates were first, engaged in criminal conduct, and next, making a profit off of selling aborted baby parts,” Breen said in a press release Thursday.

Planned Parenthood said questions about the invoices have “zero bearing” in the case.

Daleiden’s videos appeared to show numerous Planned Parenthood and StemExpress employees discussing the procurement and sell fetal body parts.

In 2014 and 2015, Deleiden posed as an employee of Biomax Procurement Services, a false-front biomedical research company. The National Abortion Federation filed a suit in 2015, stating the videos had been obtained illegally. In a court ruling last August, Deleiden and the Center for Medical Progress were barred from releasing more videos.

“Planned Parenthood is suing Mr. Daleiden because they claim that his investigative videos are ‘misleading’ and ‘broke the law,’” said Breen.  

“Now they are being asking to prove their ludicrous accusations. The idea that this huge profiteer thinks that they can just say something without having to produce relevant evidence is preposterous.”


Human trafficking in developed countries more common than previously thought

Sat, 07/21/2018 - 06:06

Washington D.C., Jul 21, 2018 / 04:06 am (CNA/EWTN News).- As many as 1 in 800 Americans is currently a victim of human trafficking, according to a new global report which found much higher rates of modern-day slavery in developed nations than previously believed.

Andrew Forrest, founder of the Global Slavery Index, called the report “a huge wakeup call.”

“The pressure to respond to this appalling human crime must shift from poorer countries to richer nations that have the resources and institutions to do much better,” he said in a July 19 statement.

“It’s widely accepted that most crimes go unreported and unrecorded, because the victims are marginalised and vulnerable,” Forrest said. “This report demonstrates, straight from the mouths of some of the 40.3 million victims of modern slavery, that these deplorable crimes continue happening out of sight, and at a tragic scale.”

“We cannot sit back while millions of women, girls, men and boys around the world are having their lives destroyed and their potential extinguished by criminals seeking a quick profit.”

Published each year by the Walk Free Foundation, the Global Slavery Index compiles data to estimate the number of people being trafficked globally.

The index defines modern-day slavery as any exploitative situation that an individual cannot leave “because of threats, violence, coercion, abuse of power, or deception.” This includes sexual exploitation, forced labor, and child labor.

It also includes forced marriages, the report said, noting that women make up 71 percent of people trapped in modern-day slavery today.

More data sources – including surveys and face-to-face interviews – in this year’s report resulted in significant increases in the estimates of people being trafficked in many developed nations.

The report identified North Korea as having the highest prevalence of modern slavery – with about one in 10 people classified as modern-day slaves – followed by Eritrea, Burundi, and the Central African Republic.

However, developed nations in the West, including the U.S. and UK, also have much higher rates of human trafficking than previously thought, it said.

The 2018 report estimated that some 403,000 people are trapped in modern slavery in the U.S. – seven times higher than previous figures. In the UK, that figure is estimated at 136,000, nearly 12 times higher than earlier estimates.

Last month, the U.S. State Department released its 2018 Trafficking in Persons report, which assesses countries around the world based on how their governments work to prevent and respond to trafficking.

In presenting the report, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo emphasized that the problem of trafficking is one that is found much closer to home than many people realize.

“Human trafficking is a global problem, but it’s a local one too,” he said June 28. “Human trafficking can be found in a favorite restaurant, a hotel, downtown, a farm, or in their neighbor’s home.”

The fight against human trafficking has been a priority for Pope Francis. In December 2013, he told a group of ambassadors that the issue worries him greatly, saying “it is a disgrace” that persons “are treated as objects, deceived, assaulted, often sold many times for different purposes and, in the end, killed or, in any case, physically and mentally harmed, ending up discarded and abandoned.”

In March 2014, Pope Francis signed an ecumenical agreement with Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby, by which the Church and the Anglican Communion agreed to support an anti-slavery, anti-human trafficking initiative, the Global Freedom Network.

The following year, the pope focused on the theme in his World Day of Peace message. He appealed to “all men and women of good will” and to “the highest levels of civil institutions” who witness “the scourge of contemporary slavery.” He urged them “not to become accomplices to this evil, not to turn away from the sufferings of our brothers and sisters, our fellow human beings, who are deprived of their freedom and dignity.”

At a June 2016 summit, the Pope emphasized the importance of listening to victims of trafficking.

He reiterated that message earlier this year, telling young people that they are in “a privileged place to encounter the survivors of human trafficking.”

“Go to your parishes, to an association close to home, meet them, listen to them,” he said.

The Vatican has organized numerous conferences on human trafficking, focused on both raising awareness and discussing means of fighting modern-day slavery and helping victims reintegrate into society.  



Sterilization device removed from sale with lawsuit pending

Fri, 07/20/2018 - 19:30

Washington D.C., Jul 20, 2018 / 05:30 pm (CNA).- The Essure sterilization device is being withdrawn from sale, the pharmaceutical company Bayer announced today. This comes after more than 10,000 women filed a lawsuit saying they were seriously harmed by the device, and about three months after the FDA restricted sales and required patients be given additional information about risks.

The FDA added a “black box” warning to Essure in November of 2016, after numerous patient complaints about complications, such as abdominal pain and uterine perforation. 

Essure will be taken off the market in the United States as of December 31, 2018. Sales in every other country ceased as of September of last year, due to poor sales figures. The device was first approved for use in 2002.

The device is described as a “non-surgical permanent birth control,” and consists of a pair of metal and polyester coils that are inserted into the fallopian tubes. These coils cause scarring in the tubes, blocking eggs from reaching the uterus. Bayer claims to have sold about 750,000 of these devices around the world. The device was preferred by some women as it purportedly had a much faster healing time than other sterilization techniques.

In a statement, Bayer said the decision to pull the device was was “based on a decline in U.S. sales of Essure in recent years and the conclusion that the Essure business is no longer sustainable,” but that they “continue to stand behind the product’s safety and efficacy.”

The Food and Drug Administration has been monitoring Essure since September of 2015, after an “increase in adverse events” submitted to its official database.

The public outcry against Essure was in part driven by social media, which was able to bring women suffering similar symptoms together in one place.

In 2011, a Facebook group called “Essure Problems” was created for women to discuss various adverse reactions they had to the device. In some instances, women were required to have emergency hysterectomies after the devices broke and migrated throughout their bodies. Other suffered extreme allergic reactions to the metals in the device, developed headaches and mood disorders, and some even experienced ectopic pregnancies.

At least one woman was killed as a result of Essure, after her reproductive organs developed necrosis, and the device was blamed for at least 300 fetal deaths and stillbirths.

The Essure Problems group, which has grown to nearly 37,000 women, was responsible for some of the widespread media coverage about the device’s dangers.

Responding to Friday’s announcement, administrators of the Essure Problems group told CNA that “seven long years of fighting to get Essure removed from the United States market has finally paid off” and that the announcement “brought us to our knees in gratitude, relief and celebration.”

“Women will not be harmed by this device any more. We have won, we have finally won!”

The FDA released a statement saying that they will continue to “remain vigilant in protecting patients” who have been implanted with Essure, and will work alongside Bayer to “best determine how to move forward to answer the critical questions we posed” regarding complications with the device.