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Cardinal DiNardo: This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for immigrants and refugees

Thu, 11/23/2017 - 07:00

Washington D.C., Nov 23, 2017 / 05:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his Thanksgiving message, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said he is grateful for the gifts and contributions of immigrants and refugees in the United States.

"As we do every year, we will pause this coming Thursday to thank God for the many blessings we enjoy in the United States,” DiNardo said.

“My brother bishops and I, gathered last week in Baltimore, were attentive in a special way to those who are often excluded from this great abundance—the poor, the sick, the addicted, the unborn, the unemployed, and especially migrants and refugees.”

Following the lead of Pope Francis, as well as the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, the U.S. Bishops have been increasingly vocal about their concerns regarding immigration reform and policies, particularly those that harm families or endanger the safety of immigrants.

The U.S. bishops have expressed “a shared and ever-greater sense of alarm—and urgency to act—in the face of policies that seemed unthinkable only a short time ago,” DiNardo said.

These policies include the ending of DACA, which benefited hundreds of thousands of young people who entered the U.S. as migrants, as well as the ending of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for people of several Central American countries, who have sought refuge from violence and natural disasters in the United States.

Earlier this month, the U.S. bishops recommended that the government extend TPS status for tens of thousands of Haitians, who came to the United States after a 2010 earthquake devastated their country.

The bishops, who sent a delegation to assess Haiti’s capability to accept returned nationals, found that the country would not be capable of supporting tens of thousands of people who would be forced to return home. Earlier this week, the Trump administration announced that TPS status would end for Haitians in the United States by July 2019.

“One common feature of all these developments is their tendency to tear apart the family, the fundamental building block of our, or any, society,” DiNardo said.

“These threats to so many vulnerable immigrant and refugee families must end now. My brothers have urged me to speak out on their behalf to urge the immediate passage—and signature—of legislation that would alleviate these immediate threats to these families,” he added.

These current issues are symptomatic of a broken immigration system that has long been in need of comprehensive reform, a process which will take years but to which the bishops are committed, in order to ensure that the United States is “welcoming the most vulnerable, ensuring due process and humane treatment, protecting national security, and respecting the rule of law,” DiNardo said.

“So this year, I give thanks for the gift and contributions of immigrants and refugees to our great nation,” he said.

“I also pray that next year, families now under threat will not be broken and dispersed, but instead will be united in joy around their tables, giving thanks for all the blessings our nation has to offer.”

 

Catholics encounter the homeless on the streets of Hollywood

Wed, 11/22/2017 - 16:21

Los Angeles, Calif., Nov 22, 2017 / 02:21 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A Eucharistic procession is not the first thing people expect to see on the streets of Hollywood, California.

But last Saturday, that’s what happened, with hundreds of people taking part in an evening of prayer and encounter with the homeless.

Nathan Sheets, executive director of The Center, a group that works to fight isolation among the homeless, told CNA that the event provided “an opportunity for individuals from the community, and outside the community, to have a [long-lasting] encounter.”

“Seeing the common humanity in other individuals can only happen with these types of encounters, and I believe that from those types of experiences ... our imaginations for how we can help can be spurned to more than just on one night.”

The Center is one of the homeless advocacy groups that make up the “Beloved Movement,” the coalition that organized the Nov. 19 event, which took place on the first World Day of the Poor.

The event started with Sunday Vigil Mass at Blessed Sacrament parish, followed by a Eucharistic Procession through downtown Hollywood. About 800 attendees proceeded in song or silent prayer, encountering those they met on the streets, and then returned to the parish for adoration and testimonies.

Deacon Spencer Lewrence, another organizer for the event, said a woman named Diane shared her past experiences of addiction and prostitution along Hollywood Boulevard, but how she now returns with her kids to the same street to aid the homeless.

She also recited a poem called the “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” he told CNA, including the line, “We all have wounds big or small, but joined with Christ we share them all.”

Deacon Lewrence said the event helps Catholics realize that we share a common human dignity with the poor and discover Christ’s constant love even in times of weakness.

“We see Beloved as a movement to get out of ourselves and get close to those who are homeless or who just feel homeless inside for whatever reason. We can recognize that we feel that way too. We see ourselves in each other,” he said.

The Center’s mission is to extend this shared experience to more than one night, said Sheets, adding that long-term community is the best means to create true change.  

In addition to addressing housing, health care resources and other issues faced by the homeless, The Center also works to fight isolation. Its day program, called the Wellness Program, invites individuals to participate in “trauma-informed groups, and community activities to build trust and rapport” while providing a healthy meal.

“About 25 percent of the individuals we see each day have gotten into housing in the time they have become part of our community at The Center, and yet they still come for the community-building groups and our 9 a.m. Monday to Thursday Coffee Hour,” Sheets said.

Encountering more than 200 people per week, the organization will engage its clients in poetry, short stories, and other artistic endeavors.

Sheets said creating this safe place allows the homeless to experience a rich community that encourages change while being given the freedom to improve on their own time.

“We worked to help find housing for a guy who moved in last week, who spent more than 10 years coming into The Center before he articulated a desire to get an ID, turn on his Social Security and then look for housing.”

Having witnessed many long-lasting relationships like these, Sheets said one of his favorite parts of Friday’s event is watching parishioners begin to build this community with the homeless.

“At the end of the day, I think the most important work happens through long-term relationship building, and I think this was the start of something like that for a group of Catholics who may not have had this experience before.”

 

Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians to be observed this Sunday

Wed, 11/22/2017 - 13:31

Washington D.C., Nov 22, 2017 / 11:31 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has announced Sunday, Nov. 26 as a Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians.

“On the solemnity of Christ the King, I ask that the entire church in the United States come together in a special way for a day of prayer for persecuted Christians to express our solidarity with those who are suffering,” says Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference.

“To focus attention on the plight of Christians and other minorities is not to ignore the suffering of others,” he said. “Rather by focusing on the most vulnerable members of society, we strengthen the entire fabric of society to protect the rights of all.”

The bishops’ conference made the announcement in collaboration with Aid to the Church in Need, Catholic Relief Services, the Knights of Columbus, and the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA).

In a statement announcing the day of prayer, the bishops’ conference said that the Nov. 26 “Solemnity of Christ the King is a fitting time to reflect on religious freedom and Christians around the world who are being persecuted in unheard of numbers.”

The day of prayer also begins a week of awareness and education, entitled “Solidarity in Suffering.” The week will run Nov. 26-Dec. 3 and will use the social media hashtag #SolidarityinSuffering.
 
Parishes and other groups participating in the day and week of prayer can find resources at www.usccb.org/middle-east-Christians. Resources include education materials, suggested Mass intercessions and homily notes, logos for local use, and recommended aid agencies.

Also available at the website is Aid to the Church in Need’s executive summary of “Persecuted and Forgotten? A Report on Christians Oppressed for their Faith 2015-2017.”

 

Why character counts in the voting booth

Tue, 11/21/2017 - 19:20

Denver, Colo., Nov 21, 2017 / 05:20 pm (CNA).- Sexual misconduct allegations against Republican candidate Roy Moore have brought Alabama’s special election to fill a U.S. Senate seat into the national spotlight.
 
U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) has also been recently accused of kissing and groping women against their will. During the 2016 presidential campaign, more than a dozen women raised allegations of sexual assault or harassment against Republican candidate Donald Trump.

These accusations have raised public debate about whether a candidate’s personal character should matter in elections, and if so, to what extent.
 
“Obviously, all of us are sinners. But some sins are especially relevant when deciding whether to give one's vote to a candidate,” said Dr. Kevin Miller, professor of moral theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
 
“The key purpose of politics is justice – as thinkers from Aristotle to Pope Benedict XVI have taught,” Miller told CNA.
 
“Thus it should especially be taken into account when a candidate has – based on good evidence – acted unjustly, and even more especially when the candidate's unjust actions have been habitual and/or when the candidate does not give serious indication of repentance against these actions.”
 
Moore is the Republican nominee in Alabama’s special election to fill a U.S. Senate seat, left vacant when former U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions was appointed U.S. attorney general earlier this year.

A former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Moore was removed from the court twice – once for refusing to obey a federal court order to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments from the Alabama judicial building, and later for instructing that same-sex marriage licenses should not be issued after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in 2015.
 
In recent weeks, nine women have brought allegations of misconduct against Moore, including an accusation of forced sexual contact with a 14-year-old in 1979.
 
A number of high-profile Republican leaders – including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ken.) – have withdrawn their support from Moore, while others, including Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, continue to support the candidate. One Alabama pastor told the Boston Globe that he would continue to support Moore even if the allegations against him were true.

Franken, who has publicly criticized other public figures accused of sexual misconduct, has apologized for some accusations leveled against him, while maintaining that other allegations are the result of misunderstanding, or have been mischaracterized. While some public figures have defended him, including former colleagues in the entertainment industry, others have called for investigations, or for his resignation.
 
When a candidate is facing serious allegations of misconduct, how should Catholics respond?
 
While Church teaching does not dictate which party or candidate a Catholic should choose, it does offer guidelines for Catholics in the voting booth.
 
In the 2007 document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops outline an approach to political responsibility based upon developing a “well-formed conscience.”

In addition to considering moral issues of grave importance, the document says that voting decisions “should take into account a candidate’s commitments, character, integrity, and ability to influence a given issue.”
 
The importance of character and integrity should not be taken lightly, Dr. Miller told CNA.
 
When there is good evidence that a candidate has habitually or unrepentantly engaged in serious injustice, whether in sexuality or in another area, Miller said, “there is a serious presumption that the candidate ought not be entrusted with decisions about the common good, which consists especially of justice.”
 
“One doesn't need ‘proof’ that allegations against a candidate are true before one may reasonably decide that such allegations warrant a decision not to vote for the candidate,” Miller continued.
 
Even when definitive proof is lacking, there may be substantial evidence supporting an allegation, he said. “It is a voter's right and responsibility to make an honest and serious attempt to consider whether such evidence exists. As others have pointed out, a candidate doesn't have a right to one's vote.”
 
The election of a candidate who has habitually committed serious injustices is likely to cause scandal and a negative influence on culture, Miller said, adding that negative cultural consequences could outweigh the good the candidate might do in office..
 
Additionally, a candidate who defends serious injustices in his own life may make poor decisions about justice in society, Miller said.
 
Miller also cautioned that there can be a tendency to be defensive about the candidate that one supports, and to minimize flaws in personal conduct and in policy decisions.
 
“This is a way in which voting for a ‘bad’ candidate can be bad, not only for justice and the common good, but for the voter's own soul,” he said.
 
“Thus, there is a serious risk that voting for a ‘bad’ candidate can be the equivalent of trying to gain the world at the expense of one's soul,” he continued, noting that voters must be concerned with personal salvation and the “soul” of political culture.  
 
Miller clarified that deciding not to vote for a candidate in one party does not morally translate to a vote for the candidate of another party.
 
“There are other alternatives, like voting write-in or third-party – or not voting at all in a particular race,” he said.

Character is not the only factor to be considered in weighing candidates, Miller acknowledged. “There are obviously some policy issues that are extraordinarily serious,” he said, pointing to abortion as an example.
 
“I think you have to take seriously the gravity of some of the political issues we’re faced with today,” he said. “You also have to take seriously violations of human dignity and justice,” such as some of the allegations being raised against prominent politicians and other leaders.
 
In the case of a candidate for whom there is evidence of engagement in particularly grave evils and no sign of repentance, Miller said Catholics should at least consider voting third party or abstaining.
 
In the end, there is no easy formula or flow chart that is guaranteed to give the uniquely correct answer to every question that arises at the ballot box, he said. Catholics should take all factors into account and think about what will serve justice and the common good, not just in the short term, but in the long term.

A part of that discernment, Miller said, is that Catholics consider a candidate’s character and integrity.
 
“The point is that voters need at least to consider these concerns – in a morally [and] intellectually serious and honest way – rather than simply ignoring [or] dismissing them,” he said.

 

EWTN launches on-demand access to 12,000 programs

Tue, 11/21/2017 - 18:20

Irondale, Ala., Nov 21, 2017 / 04:20 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- EWTN Global Catholic Network has introduced a new service allowing free on-demand access to a large library of its video content, with more than 12,000 programs available, and more being added regularly.

“EWTN On Demand has something for everyone,” said EWTN Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Warsaw in a statement on Friday.

 “There’s nothing to fill out, no membership required, and no fees to pay. All you need is an Internet connection and you are good to go,” said EWTN President Doug Keck.

“No one has more hours of Catholic programming on demand than EWTN,” Keck said.

Available at www.ewtn.com/ondemand, the new on-demand service offers content including news, answers to common questions about faith, and book recommendations.

“From news shows like ‘EWTN News Nightly,’ ‘The World Over,’ and ‘EWTN Pro-Life Weekly,’ to classics like ‘Mother Angelica Live,’ ‘Fr. Spitzer’s Universe,’ and ‘Called to Communion,’ EWTN On Demand has you covered!” Warsaw said.

Other available programs include ‘EWTN Live,’ ‘Vaticano,’ ‘Life on the Rock,’ ‘Threshold of Hope,’ and ‘EWTN Bookmark.’ More content will be added to the on-demand collection in the future, the network said.

EWTN Global Catholic Network was launched in 1981 by Mother Angelica of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration. The largest religious media network in the world, it reaches more than 270 million television households in more than 145 countries and territories.

In addition to 11 television channels in multiple languages, EWTN platforms include radio services through shortwave and satellite radio, SIRIUS/XM, iHeart Radio, and over 500 AM & FM affiliates. EWTN publishes the National Catholic Register, operates a religious goods catalogue, and in 2015 formed EWTN Publishing in a joint venture with Sophia Institute Press. Catholic News Agency is also part of the EWTN family.

English judge applauds man who stole drugs, killed suicidal father

Tue, 11/21/2017 - 05:01

London, England, Nov 21, 2017 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- An English chemist charged with murder for the 2015 killing of his 85-year-old father, who wished to die, was freed on Friday by a judge who said, “Your acts of assistance were acts of pure compassion and mercy.”

Bipin Desai, 58, was also charged with assisted suicide and two counts of theft. Desai gave his father, Dhirajlal Desai, a smoothie laced with stolen morphine at his home in Surrey on Aug. 26, 2015. Desai soon after injected his father with insulin to speed the morphine's fatal action.

The judge ruled Nov. 17 that because Dhirajlal Desai wished to die, there was no basis for a murder conviction.

Dr. Anthony McCarthy of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children responded to the ruling asking, “Are we now to believe that the killing of an innocent and vulnerable human being who is 'tired of life'  is not to be regarded as any serious crime?”

Bipin Desai pleaded guilty to assisted suicide and the theft of the morphine and insulin from his employer. He was given a suspended nine-month jail sentence, and allowed to go free.

The judge, Justice Green, said that to convict Desai of murder would be “perverse and irrational … Your father had a solid and firm wish to die. For him, being assisted to die would be fulfilling his wish of going to heaven to see his wife and being put out of his misery.”

Green said the evidence “provides no support for the prosecution case, to the contrary it unequivocally supports the defence position that this is assisted suicide but not murder,” and that Desai had been “wrongfully accused of murder.”

According to Desai, his father had been asking to end his life after the 2003 death of his wife and the 2010 death of his dog. Desai's lawyer, Natasha Wong, said in court that “what we have is a man who wanted to die, not because he was terribly ill but, sadly, because he had just had enough of life.”

Though Desai also admitted to stealing the drugs used to kill his father, Green said that “the thefts are trivial and only form part of the fabric of the wider case. The owner of the pharmacy said in his evidence that you were an honest, respectful and decent man.”

“You are free to now go with your family and start the process of rebuilding your life,” he continued.

Assisted suicide and euthanasia are both criminal offenses in England and Wales under the Suicide Act 1961, and are punishable by imprisonment.

A representative of the assisted suicide advocacy group Dignity in Dying said the case showed the need for “safe and compassionate” laws which decriminalized assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Peter Saunders of Care Not Killing responded that “This case underlines the need for better support for those caring for elderly and disabled relatives but does not mean the law should change.”

A bill to legalize assisted dying in England and Wales failed in Parliament in 2015 by a vote of 330-118.

The Suicide Act 1961 was challenged in High Court last month by a terminally ill man, Noel Conway, who wanted a doctor to be able to prescribe him a lethal dose. His case was dismissed.

In jurisdictions where assisted suicide or euthanasia are legal, the procedures usually require that the individual have a terminal illness and that the fatal drugs are prescribed by a doctor. In the handful of states in the U.S. which have legalized assisted suicide, the individual must have a terminal illness which would lead to death over the course of the next six months.

The Desai case could add to the growing list of assisted suicide abuses found around the world in which pressure is placed on individuals to kill themselves, or in which patients are held down against their wills during lethal injection.

Anthony McCarthy of SPUC said, “It is shocking that a High Court Judge in this country should speak with such approval of an adult son who 'sends his father to heaven'. Serious crimes can be 'well-motivated'  and indeed, mentally ill parents who kill their healthy children sometimes also talk of 'sending them to heaven'.”

“What now of any respect for laws and investigations which seek to protect the ineliminable value of all human lives, regardless of feelings of sadness and loss on the victim's part which may perhaps respond to loving care and professional help?”

Where the revolution has led: an interview with Mary Eberstadt

Mon, 11/20/2017 - 17:00

Washington D.C., Nov 20, 2017 / 03:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholic author Mary Eberstadt is a senior fellow of the Faith & Reason Institute, and the author of several best-selling books, including Adam and Eve After the Pill and How the West Really Lost God.  In the Nov. 6 issue of The Weekly Standard, Eberstadt published “The Primal Screen of Identity Politics,” an essay exploring the contours of contemporary American politics, our search for identity, and the importance of the family.

In an interview with CNA editor-in-chief JD Flynn, Eberstadt offers important insights for all Catholic Americans.

What are identity politics?

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines identity politics as “political activity and theorizing founded in the shared experiences of injustice of members of certain social groups.” This is not politics as usual. It’s instead an assertion of identity with one or another group that’s said to be oppressed. Believing oneself to be a victim is part and parcel of “identifying” in this way.

Identity politics, as scholars note, has only come into existence in the last thirty years, meaning that it is mostly younger people who believe this is what’s meant by “politics.” The results include theatrical repercussions that we’ve all seen in person or in the news – violent protests, increased numbers of speaker shut-downs on campus, other disruptions on the quad and elsewhere -- whose common denominators are emotionalism and unreason.

I wrote the essay not to dismiss the primal nature of identity politics, but instead to try and understand where all that deeply felt irrationalism is coming from.
 

What do we lose because of the surge in identity politics?
 
For starters, we’re losing an elemental piece of Catholic and other theology: the idea of free will. Identity politics says that biography is destiny – that how you’re born determines your political and moral interests in life. Nothing could be further from the idea that we are made in God’s image, and given the unique power of freely choosing good – or, as the case may be, evil.

The anthropology behind identity politics amounts to a crabbed, crippled, unfree view of the human person. It divides the world into victims and oppressors, leaving no room for free agency or redemption. For that reason alone, Christians above all should be wary, and reject this new way of looking at the world.

Beyond Christians, though, identity politics is toxic across society. The decibel level of unreason makes it hard to advance a civil, rational case about anything. And the Manichean division of the world into victims and oppressors leaves little space for nuance or anything else. All identity politics, all the time, makes for a dumbed-down, dreary conversation out there – just one more reason why figuring out the attraction of such politics in the first place seems like work worth doing.

You say that our “generation-wide descent into psychiatric trouble” is not caused by helicopter parenting, social media, or white racism, all of which are commonly asserted theories. Why are these convenient speculative “causes” for our contemporary political situation? What do they have in common?

The signature moral and social denial of our time concerns the real and widespread fallout of the sexual revolution. The contortions of identity politics are related to that same denial.

Of course there is authentic injustice in the world, as America’s racial history shows; as the Harvey Weinstein and related cases of predation show; and as many other examples could be added to prove. But no single injustice explains what most needs explaining, which is the frantic nature of today’s identity politics across the board.

The same unreason shows up over and over, no matter the grievance: in the mania over “cultural appropriation” that results in censorship of Halloween costumes and lots else; in the social media of identitarians of all varieties, which brims with incivility and, often, rage; in the protests against credentialed, reasonable speakers who challenge anything about the progressive view of the human person, especially on the quad.

This isn’t just protest-as-usual, either. In the essay, I cite the fact that psychiatric problems among the young have been rising for years, and that experts think this isn’t just a matter of better diagnostics; they also believe something new must be afoot.

Isn’t the most obvious culprit here the implosion of the family, the removal from many young people’s lives of a reliable circle of not one, or two, but many reliable, consistent, loving figures in the home? The family has been fractured for many by various familiar factors, among them divorce; the continuing rise in single-motherhood; and the simultaneous shrinking numbers of siblings, cousins, and other extended family thanks to contraception and abortion.

The human ecosystem is a mess. It’s no wonder that denial of the revolution’s record is ubiquitous. But at the same time, for reasons put forth in the essay, that same record is the most obvious probable cause of the hysteria we see out there, literally and figuratively.

To millennials, and I speak as one, intentional self-definition feels like the natural mode of being.  It's what we do on social media without even realizing it. Has that not always been so? Aren't existential crises a long-running theme in the past century of modernity? Have they changed, or heightened?

What’s changed is not human nature – everyone asks the same questions about identity. But the familial circumstances in which many contemporary souls now find ourselves are radically changed, and make that quintessentially human question harder to answer.

For most of history, that question, “Who am I?” was answered first in the context of the family: I am a daughter, I am a cousin, a grandmother, a niece, and so on. Identity of a most obvious and unquestionable kind was provided by how any given individual was situated within the family into which he was born. If you didn’t know anything else, you at least knew that.

As of the Pill, though, and its promise of consequence-free sex, family relations have changed fundamentally – and with them, familial identity. Modern contraceptives increased the temptation to people-shop, because so many more people were now sexually available. Bonds like marriage, which once had been seen by most people as immutable, were (and are) extraordinarily strained by this massive sexual consumerism.

As a result, many people now regard “family” as a voluntary association, rather than a primordial set of bonds. That’s why we have such high rates of divorce and single motherhood – higher than ever before in history: because as of the sexual revolution, many people have behaved as if the family is negotiable, rather than given.

In the essay, I give examples of just some of the resulting confusion out there. Are you a stepsister? That depends. What if your mother and your “stepsister’s” father were married once -- and aren’t anymore? Are you still related to that person? What if they were never married in the first place, and you were just living with your mother’s boyfriend’s daughter? Would you have considered her a “stepsister” at all?

Similarly: is that my grandfather? Well, if he’s your mother’s father, probably yes. But what if he’s someone who married your grandmother after she divorced your original grandfather – what then? And so on.

Add to all of these novel existential quandaries the related fact that the family has shrunk, and you can readily see what distinguishes us from our ancestors: we have fewer attachments to family than they did, and the ones that we do have are, for many of us, in constant flux.

How is a communal animal – man – supposed to derive identity from his first community, the family, at such a time? That’s where the barely suppressed hysteria behind today’s identity politics is really coming from, I think: confusion and loneliness and familial deprivation.

You’ve worked on issues related to the sexual revolution for years.  You’ve long said that the sexual revolution is the “moral bedrock” of so many Americans that its views can’t be questioned in public conversation.  In the past, you’ve called it the “new orthodoxy.”  But we’re seeing the wholesale meltdown of Hollywood right now, as the mask of the sexual revolution falls off.  Is it possible this will lead to a resurgence of virtue, and virtue culture?  What would have to happen to make that so?

Backlash looks to be well-underway on several fronts, for this simple reason: we human beings aren’t made to live the way many do now, gorged to obesity on sex and fake sex, and simultaneously isolated from one another and from family life as never before.

That’s not us. We’re social animals. We can’t, and don’t, thrive otherwise. In this we join many other species, especially mammals, that live within kinship structures. We can understand this when we study elephants, say. We just don’t think of applying such knowledge about nature to ourselves. Pretending that we can endure as social isolates and porn potatoes, like pretending we can live happily without more robust families, is making a lot of people out there miserable.

The result is bound to be reaction to all that; and not surprisingly, there are new signs that at least some are starting to have second thoughts about where the revolution has led.

The continuing reaction to Hollywood’s systemic harassment-and-exploitation scandals, as you point out, is one example. The growth of campus groups dedicated to traditional Catholic teaching is another. FOCUS, the Love and Fidelity Network, and like-minded organizations didn’t even exist a couple of decades ago. Likewise, the proliferation of new resources to protect people from pornography is another kind of re-norming that’s part of the nascent pushback to the revolution.

Above all, even as many people have abandoned organized religion, the converts streaming into the churches are being driven in large part by the search for refuge in the world after the Pill – for a more ennobled and inspiring vision of the human person than the inferior one that’s on offer in the sexualized, secular mainstream.

There’s going to be plenty more of all of the above, I’d bet. And if there is another religious awakening ahead, great or small, we can be sure that this is exactly where it will be rooted.


You say that identity politics are the “primal scream” of our time—a “collective human howl…sent up by inescapably communal creatures who can no longer identify their own.” How do believers respond to that howl?  What does the Church need to do, right now, to respond to this crisis?  

The Church needs to do one thing: be the Church. The temptation to bend to the times is prodigious -- and has been ever since the technological shock of the birth control pill.

For clergy and lay believers alike, the temptation to soft-pedal Catholic teaching on sexual morality is probably greater than ever before, because secularist culture has now turned from mocking traditional teaching to attacking it with a ferocity not seen before. No wonder many people within the Church itself seem afraid.

But acquiescing to the times, and tacitly or overtly abandoning the very moral code that is a lifesaver for the family, isn’t going to spell relief from identity politics – or from the social changes that created such a culture of grievance. And soft-pedaling Church teaching also does a great injustice to human beings outside the flock. To acquiesce is to say, in effect, that the secularist alternative is right; that the Church would rather be approved than right; that we really are just prisoners of our color, our erotic desires, our national background, and the rest – the whole dreary list of determinism now found in identity politics.

Two thousand years of teaching says that humanity is better than that. The biggest problem with downplaying the Christian rulebook is that it sends exactly the wrong message to converts and would-be converts. They can find accommodation anywhere – in the secular orbit, in their information silos, in their schools and workplaces, in whatever’s on their phone or laptop, and for that matter, in other churches.

But the outsiders peering into the Church right now for help are not looking for accommodation. They’re looking for capital-t Truth. To borrow from Pope Francis, it would be wrong not to meet them exactly where they are.

If we understand that there’s something authentic about the primal scream we keep hearing, and that the root cause of identity politics is pathos brought on by familial destruction, we might be able to work with some of the damage out there. We might be able to bring some genuine victims – casualties of the revolution -- to a more elevated vision and a better home.

 

 

 

 

Faithful from near and far gather to celebrate Fr. Solanus, friend and healer

Sun, 11/19/2017 - 14:31

Detroit, Mich., Nov 19, 2017 / 12:31 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Usually, when Detroit’s Ford Field is filled with people, it’s because football fans are watching the Lions play another NFL team.

But on Saturday, Nov. 18, despite the chill and the rain, more than 60,000 people from around the country filled the domed stadium for another reason - to celebrate the beatification of their friend Father Solanus Casey, who is now just one step away from canonization as a saint in the Catholic Church.

Whether they knew him in real life (he died in 1957) or they found out about him through a story or a book, many who came to the beatification Mass spoke warmly of Blessed Solanus not just as an example of faith and a powerful intercessor, but as a true friend.

That was the case for Adrian Carlson, who made the trip from Lincoln, Neb. with his wife to be present for the beatification.

Born more than 30 years after Blessed Solanus’ death, Carlson never knew the friar in real life, but nevertheless, “I can honestly say I felt like I actually knew him personally,” Carlson told CNA.

His devotion to Fr. Solanus began in high school, when a family friend who was dying of cancer was praying for the intercession of the then-Venerable Solanus Casey. Although the family friend passed away, Carlson’s interest was piqued in the man his friend had invoked.

“What ultimately drew me to him was his humble acceptance of God’s will,” Carlson said.  

“He gratefully accepted God’s will and never complained about the hardships he was given. He was always submissive to his superiors viewing them as the voice through which God chose to tell Solanus the plan for his life.”

Carlson added that he has also often “thanked God ahead of time (as Solanus would do), through intercession of Solanus Casey, for healings of small ailments for them to disappear shortly after.”

It would have been enlightening to poll the audience to see how many present at the beatification had experienced Blessed Solanus’ healing intercession in their own lives, because it seemed nearly everyone had a story to tell in that regard.

Brother Richard Merling, O.F.M. Cap., a Capuchin brother based in Detroit, had the opportunity to meet Bl. Solanus in real life when he was still a teenager and had not yet discerned whether to join the same order as the friar.

Merling told CNA that he first met Fr. Solanus at the age of 15. Merling’s brother had been in a car accident, and had a badly injured leg that the doctors were going to amputate.

Desperate, Merling’s mother brought the family to see Fr. Solanus at the St. Bonaventure monastery in Detroit, seeking a miracle.

“He simply said oh don’t worry, everything is going to be alright,” Merling recalled.

That was 60 years ago. Merling’s brother recovered and did not need amputation, and only recently passed away, just before Fr. Solanus’ beatification.

“He was a man of great faith, confidence and trust in God,” Merling said of Solanus. “And I think he often encouraged people to do the same.”

Also present among the crowd at Ford Field were several youngsters whose namesake is Blessed Solanus. Among them was young Solanus Leyendecker, the 10-year-old son of John Leyendecker. The entire Leyendecker crew - including seven children and one on the way - made the five to six-hour van trip all the way from Cincinatti, Ohio to be present for the beatification.

John said he first learned about Blessed Solanus after picking up a book about his life during his years as a youth minister. At the time, his wife Lisa was pregnant with their second child, and he was so inspired by Fr. Solanus’ life that he told his wife if their child was a boy, they’d name him Solanus.

“And she said you’re nuts, we are not, because that name is a little far fetched,” John recalled. “And I said, you gotta read this book, you’ll love him.”

Halfway through the book, Lisa was also convinced that they would name their child Solanus, if it were a boy. At the same time, she discovered her family had a personal connection to the holy friar: her mother told her the story of her great-grandfather who was cured of cancer after visiting Fr. Solanus when he was stationed in Indiana.

“So my wife came home and told me if this is a boy, we’ll name him Solanus,” John recalled. The Leyendeckers had a daughter - but named their next son, who is now 10, Solanus.
 
When they told their son they were going to his namesake’s beatification, “he just lit up,” John said.

“It’s awesome,” John said. “We played Catholic roulette on a saint's name, he wasn’t even a saint yet, but we said we’re going to name him after this guy because he’s going to be raised to the altar one day. And here we are ten years later and in fact he is.”

Louis Solanus Santo, the young son of Josh and Beth Santo from Denver, Colorado, was also able to be present for his namesake’s beatification.

The Santos first heard the story of Fr. Solanus from a brother with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, and they were inspired by the friar’s holiness and humility.

“We wanted our son to be inspired by Solanus Casey’s humility and for him to see that God uses us to do his great work no matter how big or small or role in the world may appear,” Beth told CNA.

“When we learned that Fr. Solanus’ beatification was taking place in Detroit we felt it was an incredible opportunity for our son to get to know his namesake better. We also wanted to show him the importance of our friendships with the saints, our role models,” Beth added.

“Most importantly, we wanted him to receive the special graces sure to be present at the Mass. We were blessed to be able to help our son be at this celebration and are so confident in Fr. Solanus’ intercession!”
 
Blessed Solanus was originally from Wisconsin, and attended minor seminary at St. Francis de Sales Seminary in Milwaukee. A large group of seminarians from Solanus’ first seminary made the trip from Milwaukee to be present for Fr. Solanus’ beatification.

Among them was Dr. Bill Evans, a seminarian for the Diocese of Green Bay, Wis., who said he found great inspiration in the life of Solanus Casey even before he entered the seminary.

Evans worked as a medical doctor before feeling called to discern the priesthood. He first learned about Fr. Solanus when he gave a presentation on the friar’s life as a youth minister.

“He just moved me to my core when I was preparing to give this talk - the fact that he was a Wisconsin man was part of it, most of it was just that he was tireless in his perseverance, he trusted God with the greatest trust and simplicity,” Evans told CNA.

“Especially in these days, young people are searching and looking and they want to know - where do I fit in? And I think Fr. Solanus must have asked himself the same thing, where do I fit in?”

Blessed Solanus worked for several years before discerning a call to religious life in his late 20s. Evans said he has “bonded” with Solanus over the fact that they both had late vocations, and he said he considers him a true friend and a powerful intercessor.

When he was young, Solanus also questioned, “God what do you want me to do?” according to Evans. “And the answer was always simple, there was no complex algorithm, it was just simple, he wanted to be holy and to touch other people and to help them find a path to holiness.”

“I don’t know if we could look for a better patron, a better friend, a better advocate in heaven than Blessed Solanus,” he said.

Dinners, deliveries and drives: how some Catholics are serving up Thanksgiving for the poor

Sun, 11/19/2017 - 09:00

Denver, Colo., Nov 19, 2017 / 07:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- While many will gather for Thanksgiving this year around tables filled with food and family, the National Council of the U.S. Society of St. Vincent de Paul have set out to make sure that the poor and homeless will also experience a holiday filled with community.

“Society members work with people in poverty and the homeless 365 days a year. Our parish-based Conferences operate food pantries, dining facilities, and shelters year-round to help people in need with food and shelter,” said Dave Barringer, the National CEO of the U.S. Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

“In addition to our year-round efforts, many St. Vincent de Paul Conferences and Councils do extra work around Thanksgiving,” Barringer told CNA.

The Society’s many councils and conferences across the country will be hosting or partaking in local efforts to serve the poor and homeless this Thanksgiving, Barringer said.

For example, the Society’s Baton Rouge Council in Louisiana annually hosts a Thanksgiving meal for the community’s poor and homeless. They usually feed more than 600 people at the St. Vincent de Paul location, and this year, they are also teaming up with the city’s Holiday Helpers to feed an additional 1,000 people.

“We’ll have our Thanksgiving meal at the St. Vincent de Paul dining room, but we’ll also be responsible for working with Constable Brown and taking over the Thanksgiving meal at the River center,” said Michael Acaldo, who works for the Baton Rouge Council, according to local news.

“That is such a fantastic tradition for our community. Over 1,000 people are served there. We serve over 600. When you put the two together, it’s a magnificent example of our community in action,” Acaldo continued.

In Arizona, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s Phoenix Council also helps with the community’s annual turkey drive, in what locals calls “Turkey Tuesday.”

Every Tuesday before Thanksgiving, locals bring turkeys to designated grocery stores to give to donate them to those in need. Last year, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul received more than 26,000 donated turkeys, and they hope to break that number this year.

Additionally, a St. Vincent de Paul Conference in the Pittsburgh suburb of Sewickley, Pennsylvania will be delivering 100 Thanksgiving dinners to families in need around the area, which will include turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy.

“People need an extra hand all year round – it is important to be there. But it’s common knowledge that people suffer around the holidays. Picture being alone this time of year. If we can help, we want to,” said John Nard, the president of the local Conference, according to local news.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is an international Catholic organization whose mission is to “end poverty through systemic change.” They offer tangible assistance to those in need through the councils and conferences found across the country, and are dependent on the support of the individuals involved with each conference.

Although feeding the hungry during the holidays is necessary, one of the main goals of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is to address the needs of the poor every day of the year.

“The holidays are a time when interest in caring for people in poverty is especially high. It is also a good time to invite people to carry on in that spirit of generosity and put their faith in action by helping people in need throughout the year,” Barringer said.

“People are hungry every day of the year.”

 

Humble disciple, tireless servant: Solanus Casey beatified in Detroit

Sat, 11/18/2017 - 18:35

Detroit, Mich., Nov 18, 2017 / 04:35 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Detroit’s beloved Father Solanus Casey has been beatified, with Pope Francis calling him “a humble and faithful disciple of Christ, tireless in serving the poor.”

“The life of our Blessed is an exemplary page of the gospel, lived with human and Christian intensity. It is a page to read with dedication and emotion... and to imitate with fervor,” said Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints, who read the Latin-language letter from Pope Francis officially declaring the priest to be blessed.

“In raising this Capuchin to the altars. Pope Francis points him out to the whole Church as a faithful disciple to Christ, the Good Shepherd,” the cardinal said in his homily. “Today the Church and society still need the example and the protection of Father Solanus.”

“Brother and Sisters, let us repeat together: Blessed Father Solanus, pray for us,” he told a crowd of of 60-70,000 gathered for the Nov. 18 Beatification Mass at Detroit’s Ford Field stadium.

Beatification is the final step before possible canonization. Blessed Solanus Casey’s feast day will be July 30.

The Capuchin priest was born to Irish immigrants in Wisconsin on Nov. 25, 1870 and given the baptismal name Bernard Francis. He worked various jobs before entering the Franciscans.

He was ordained a “simplex priest,” meaning he could say Mass but not preach publicly or hear confessions. He was very close to the sick and was highly sought-after throughout his life, in part because of the many physical healings attributed to his blessings and intercession. He was also a co-founder of Detroit’s Capuchin Soup Kitchen in 1929. He served as porter, that is, doorman, at Detroit’s St. Bonaventure Monastery.

At the Mass on Saturday were many bishops, priests, 240 Capuchin friars and about 350 members of the Casey family present, from both the U.S. and Ireland. There were also many poor people in the congregation.

Paula Medina Zarate, the Panamanian woman whose 2012 cure from illness was attributed to the blessed’s intercession, bore a relic of Solanus Casey in his opening procession.

Br. Richard Merling, O.F.M, Cap., director of the Solanus Casey Guild, spoke at the beginning of Mass. He recounted Blessed Solanus Casey’s last words: “I am offering my suffering that all might be one. If only I could see the conversion of the whole world... I give my soul to Jesus Christ.”

Cardinal Amato said the beatification was an historic event for the Detroit archdiocese, for the Capuchin Franciscans, and for the American Church. He compared Casey to Blessed Stanley Rother, the missionary priest beatified in September in Oklahoma City.

While Blessed Stanley had died a martyr in Guatemala in hatred of the faith, “Blessed Solanus Casey attained holiness here, in the United States of America, ascending every day the steps of the ladder that takes one to the encounter of God through serving one’s needy neighbors,” said the cardinal. He did not see the poor as an obstacle, but as a way to light his path to “the splendor of God.”

“Faith, hope and charity were for him, the seal of the Trinity in our souls,” Cardinal Amato said. “Their practice was the effective antidote to atheism, despair and hatred that pollutes human society.”

The cardinal said Solanus Casey’s Irish family had “profound Catholic convictions” that made faith for him “a very precious inheritance for facing the difficulties of life.”

Blessed Solanus had a sense of the presence of God’s providence, “not only in prayer, liturgy and study, but also in the daily events of family life.” The cardinal noted Casey’s prayer in front of the tabernacle, his devotion to Mary, his recitation of the rosary, and his reception of the sacraments which gave him “security and courage to face the future.”

“His favorite sons were the poor the sick, the indigent, the homeless,” said the cardinal. “He always fasted in order to give them their own lunch.”

There was a time when Solanus Casey’s Depression-era soup kitchen ran out of food when hundreds were still hungry. The priest simply came forward and prayed the “Our Father,” and soon a baker knocked at the door with a large basketful of bread and other supplies.

“When the people saw this, they began to cry with emotion,” said the cardinal. “Fr. Solanus simply stated: ‘See? God provides. No one will suffer, if we put our trust in divine providence’.”

The cardinal acknowledged a defect in Casey’s life: he was a bad musician.

“For this reason, after his first failure in the community, with simplicity and humility, in order not to disturb his neighbors on Sunday evening, he went to the chapel and played Irish religious songs in front of the tabernacle,” Cardinal Amato said. “The Lord listened to him patiently, because our blessed was lacking in music, but not in virtue.”

At the close of Mass, Fr. Mauro Johri, general minister of the Capuchin Franciscans, said the beatification is  “A day of celebration for Capuchins throughout the world”

Archbishop Allen Henry Vigneron of Detroit asked Cardinal Amato to thank Pope Francis on behalf of the archdiocese’s faithful.

“Please let him know that we are grateful beyond measure that he has judged father Solanus worthy of the rank of ‘blessed’,” the archbishop said. “Tell him we are committed anew to imitate Blessed Solanus by witnessing to Christ’s mercy. The field hospital of mercy is open her in Detroit.”

The close of the Mass included prayers for the canonization of Blessed Solanus Casey.

Friendship and from-scratch food served up at Fr. Solanus’ soup kitchen

Sat, 11/18/2017 - 14:17

Detroit, Mich., Nov 18, 2017 / 12:17 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- It’s a Franciscan custom to give food - even if that’s just a simple sandwich - to anyone who comes to the door hungry.

Beloved Capuchin friar and doorkeeper Father Solanus Casey, set to be beatified Nov. 18, knew the custom well, and had a desire to feed anyone who came to the door of St. Bonaventure monastery in Detroit.

"They are hungry; get them some soup and sandwiches," Fr. Solanus would often tell his fellow friars.

The need became especially great in 1929 at the start of the Great Depression. That’s when Fr. Solanus had the idea to start a soup kitchen down the street from the monastery, where he could send anyone who came to the door looking for food.

“In time the lines grew to more than 2,000 people waiting for their single meal of the day. The friars knew they had to do more,” the Capuchins explain on their soup kitchen website.

To expand their ability to feed and serve people, the friars turned to the Secular Franciscans in their community. Together, they worked to gather, cook and serve meals at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, which is still operating out of multiple locations in Detroit today.

The soup kitchen just down the street from the monastery is a rebuilt version of the original site founded by Fr. Solanus Casey.

Today, Alison Costello is the head chef at the soup kitchen, and she runs a tight ship. Friday, November 17 may have been the day before Fr. Solanus’ beatification, but it was a bustling day at the soup kitchen just like any other.

Coney dogs were on the menu, along with mixed green salad and roasted potatoes. Once Chef Alison got a breather, she sat down with CNA to talk about her philosophy as the head chef.

“This is a holy place, you have to treat it like a church,” Costello told CNA. So there are some rules: Don’t cuss. Dress modestly. Recycle.

A practicing Catholic herself, Costello came onto the staff of the soup kitchen about 17 years ago, “burned out” from the hectic hours of the regular restaurant industry. She was familiar with the Capuchins and saw the soup kitchen chef role as an opportunity to serve those in need.

“I knew I had to boost up the nutrition levels of the food here because most of our folks have a compromised immune system,” she said, “and I have to be culturally sensitive at the same time.”
 
While the guests at the soup kitchen are a diverse crowd, the majority at this particular location are African Americans, who tend to have similar genetic health problems and nutritional concerns.

“So when I started, I knew I couldn't’ just serve brown rice, I had to serve white rice as well. Or our salad couldn’t be just iceberg, it turns out that our guests really liked the bitter greens, and so I brought in spring mix salad. Our soups started to be made from scratch, and I make purees, which they had never seen, like I make a roasted red pepper puree,” Costello said. Her puree is very popular with the guests.

She has told other chefs that it doesn’t matter “if people are paying customers or they’re sitting there smelling (badly), they deserve to eat well.”

Talk to almost anyone at the Capuchin soup kitchen, and they’ll tell you the reason they continue to come there, whether as a guest or as a volunteer, is because of the community atmosphere.

Frank Shorter, who was pouring water into vases on Friday, said he originally started volunteering at the soup kitchen as part of a probation program, but he stayed because he got “addicted to helping people” and enjoyed the friendly environment at the kitchen.

Margie Coleman is a longtime volunteer with the soup kitchen, whose husband is a parishioner at Sacred Heart parish in Dearborn, a suburb of Detroit.

“I love working with the people, it’s always a good time, I’m having a blast,” Coleman told CNA.

“You never know what you’re going to run into here, and I keep learning new tips and tricks for cooking, and I’m just having a good time. It’s all about service and giving back to the people,” she added. “Fr. Solanus was all about helping his fellow man, and I feel the same way.”

Margie’s husband Mark often works right alongside her in the kitchen. He said Fr. Solanus’ example teaches us that you don’t have to be academically smart to make a difference in the world.

“I got the sense that he wasn’t the brightest bulb in the closet,” because he struggled with seminary classes, Mark said. “But he actually was a much more powerful light, once you kind of dug into him, which I think is a real testament to him as an individual. Just because you’re not the brightest person in the world doesn’t mean you can’t have a wonderful impact on the world.”

Today, the Capuchin soup kitchen not only serves food, it also provides showers to those who need them, as well as social services. It is connected to a Capuchin-run urban farm, which provides much of the produce for the kitchen.

“People should come experience it for themselves,” Costello said, “and what a community this is and what a witness the friars are. I have enjoyed every day...that I’ve been here, the camaraderie, the family, we have our family here,” she said, thinking of guests or volunteers that they’ve grown close to over the years.

Costello added that she was “honored” to follow in Fr. Solanus’ footsteps at the kitchen. The quality she most admires in the friar’s legacy is his humility.

“I think Solanus would want people to know you can be an extraordinary person by doing ordinary things,” she said.

Those close to the cause of Fr. Solanus Casey recall a humble, holy friar

Fri, 11/17/2017 - 19:15

Detroit, Mich., Nov 17, 2017 / 05:15 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Before a potential saint is beatified, there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes.

Those promoting the cause of sainthood for a candidate must gather witnesses and testimonies, writings and documentation of the candidate's life.

Throughout the process, evidence is brought before various tribunals (a type of court within the Church) both in the local diocese and in Rome, all of whom examine the life and works of the candidate and determine whether the miracles attributed to them are authentic, and whether their life constitutes heroic virtue, among other things.

It’s a process intentionally designed to take years, and those involved in the process come to know their candidate for sainthood in a particularly intimate way.

That has been the case for Fr. Larry Webber, OFM Cap, who currently serves as the vice postulator of the cause for Fr. Solanus Casey, who will be beatified this weekend.

The priest and Capuchin friar, who has officially worked on the cause for the past five years, said the work has led his own life to be marked by Fr. Solanus’ spirituality.

“It’s meant a lot to me” to work on the cause, Webber told CNA. “I hope I’ve always been a man of prayer, but certainly (this) has really deepened in me an appreciation for his spirituality and his faith which is marking my life.”

“I think many people who have had a devotion to Fr. Solanus over the years would say that,” he added. “There’s something about him that marks the way you pray, that marks your faith, that  leads you to a deeper relationship with God...especially in the Eucharist.”

The friars who lived with Fr. Solanus would often find him in the morning lying on the floor in front of the Blessed Sacrament, where he had spent all night interceding for the hundreds of people who had sought his prayers.

“His line was always, ‘Oh don’t worry, I sleep on the soft side of the floor,’” Webber said.
He added that while he admired Fr. Solanus’ “Irish wit”, he also admired his ability to sacrifice and be humble about it without being pretentious.

Sister Anne Herkenrath has also been close to the cause of Fr. Solanus Casey as one of his living relatives. She is the grand-niece of Fr. Solanus Casey, her grandfather was one of his brothers.

Herkenrath told CNA that she remembers first meeting Fr. Solanus as a teenager during a big family reunion. She had heard some stories about this holy uncle of hers whose intercession had healed people, but she wasn’t sure what to make of it all.

“Teenagers are sometimes skeptical about things like this, and I was a little skeptical about him,” she said. “I thought, who is this man? What’s he like? How do I act around him?

“Well he got (to the family reunion), and he was as normal as his brothers and sisters,” she said. “He was so normal that my (hesitation) just disappeared, I was very comfortable with him, and he was just one of us. He played ball with the younger kids, he talked with everybody, he was just normal.”

The family didn’t talk much about the specific favors attributed to Fr. Solanus, Herkenrath said. One of Solanus’ brothers, also a priest, had told the family that those matters were “between God, the Capuchins, and Solanus.”

It was only after his death that she became involved in his cause for canonization, and started learning more about his life. For her part, she helped gather some recordings of Fr. Solanus that her dad had made of him on some old 7-inch 78 rpm records - recordings of Solanus saying a prayer, greeting the family, reciting a poem, and singing and playing the violin.

“I’m still in awe of him,” Herkenrath said. “Again for his being so normal, and yet so in touch with God, so very in touch with God.”

One of the most striking characteristics of Fr. Solanus is his profound humility and acceptance of God’s will in all things, Webber said.

Never able to make good grades in seminary, which was taught all in Latin at the time, Fr. Solanus was only ever allowed to be a simplex priest for the order, meaning he wasn’t allowed to preach or hear confessions.

Instead he was assigned as the porter, the doorkeeper, at the time a lesser role usually reserved for novice friars.

But it was a job “he accepted it humbly, joyfully, and in that obedience and that humility, God transformed him into a saint,” Webber said.

“And I think many of us in our world today need that same lesson - humbly accept the reality you are given, joyfully serve the Lord in it, and he’ll make you holy.”

“(Fr. Solanus) once said to someone: ‘What does it matter where we are sent? Wherever we are, we can serve God,’” Webber added.

Another characteristic of Fr. Solanus that Fr. Webber said he admired was the friar’s pastoral ability to help people take life a little less seriously.

As an example, Webber recalled one story where some good friends of Fr. Solanus were returning from vacation, and they stopped by the monastery to say hello to the friar.

After chatting for a bit, the friends told Fr. Solanus that they were hungry, but they weren’t sure what they were going to eat, because the only thing they had left in their cooler were some hotdogs. It was Friday, and the Church at the time required the faithful to abstain from meat on that day every week.

“And (Fr. Solanus) said: ‘Well how long have those hotdogs been in there?’ And they said: ‘Oh about a day or two.’ And he said: ‘Oh don’t worry, they’re fish by now,’” Webber recalled.

“He had a good sense pastorally,” Webber noted, to take the faith seriously, but also, when appropriate, “not to take things overly seriously.”

Having a brother within his own community being beatified has also caused Webber to examine his own holiness and call as a Capuchin, he added.

“Being holy...it’s not just the vocation of Fr. Solanus, it’s the vocation of all of us,” Webber said.

“And if God has raised up one among us...that is being recognized for his holiness, that calls each of us to say, ‘Well, what do I need to be doing to be a little bit more holy?’”

Fr. Solanus Casey will be beatified on November 18th at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.

 

The quirky Father Solanus: Squeaky violinist, tamer of bees

Fri, 11/17/2017 - 17:53

Detroit, Mich., Nov 17, 2017 / 03:53 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- You’ve heard of Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves.

But have you heard of Fr. Solanus Casey’s multiplication of the ice cream cones?

To be sure, what Fr. Solanus is most remembered for his is gentle holiness, humility and obedience to the will of God in all things. It’s why the beloved Capuchin friar is being beatified this weekend in Detroit.

However, there’s something endearingly unconventional about the story of Father Solanus Casey - from the miracles reportedly worked through his intercession down to his breakfast habits - that makes his story especially unique.

The ice cream miracle

Fr. Solanus was a friar and simplex priest, meaning that, due to lesser academic abilities, he was not allowed to preach or to hear confessions.

But this freed him up for other charisms in which he particularly thrived - including serving as the porter (doorkeeper) at St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit, from 1924-1945.

As porter, Fr. Solanus became the main link from the brothers to the outside world, and he soon became renowned for the gentle and willing counsel that he offered, and for the miracles attributed to his intercession.

Fr. Tom Nguyen, OFM Cap., a Capuchin friar who lives in Detroit, recalls a story commonly told at the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit:

On one warm summer day in 1941, a fellow friar in the novitiate came to see Fr. Solanus, in need of a miracle of healing. Something was wrong with his tooth, and if things went poorly at the dentist, the friar could miss too much formation and be sent back to the beginning of novitiate, as was the practice at the time.

The young friar sought Fr. Solanus’ blessing before heading out to the dentist, who told him to trust God that everything would work out.

While the friar was at the dentist, a lady who came to visit the monastery brought Fr. Solanus two ice cream cones. Too busy to eat them at the moment, Fr. Solanus shoved the cones into his desk drawer, much to the dismay of his secretary, who was sure they would be a soupy mess in a matter of minutes.

After more than half an hour, the younger friar returned from the dentist, his tooth found miraculously healthy. He went to thank Father Solanus, who pulled out three (not two!) perfectly frozen ice cream cones from his desk drawer on the hot summer day, which he offered to the friar to celebrate his good outcome.

The breakfast penance

Saints are often people known for offering up some kind of physical penances to the Lord - whether that’s wearing a scratchy hair shirt, taking on some kind of fasting, or sleeping on a hard floor. Even in this way, Fr. Solanus’ penance was uniquely quirky.

The friar was known for eating all of his breakfast at once - cereal, juice, coffee, and milk all mixed together in the same bowl.

In a story for the Michigan Catholic earlier this year, Fr. Werner Wolf, OFM Cap., recalled how he had been inspired to join the Capuchins specifically by Fr. Solanus Casey, who was still alive at the time. Eager to learn from the holy friar, Fr. Wolf decided he would watch Fr. Solanus very closely.

“So the first day I was there, I watched him like a hawk,” Fr. Wolf said.

“In the morning, the novices brought food to the older friars. First breakfast, I watched that man’s every move, pouring his cereal, the sugar, the cold milk, then warm milk, then prune juice in the whole works. I looked at him, telling God, ‘Father, if that’s holiness, I don’t want none.’”

Tamer of bees

Like St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscans, Fr. Solanus also had a special relationship with animals - bees in particular.

On several occasions, witnesses recalled Fr. Solanus taming the bees that were kept by the Capuchin friars.

On one particular occasion, the witness was Father Benedict Groeschel, cofounder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.

Fr. Groeschel was visiting St. Felix Friary in Huntington, Indiana, where Fr. Solanus Casey was stationed at the time.

Then a young Capuchin, Fr. Groeschel had also heard of the holy Fr. Solanus, and watched him closely.

One day, Fr. Groeschel and another friar were visiting the beehives kept by the friars, when the bees started swarming angrily.

Fr. Groeschel was instructed to get Fr. Solanus, who started talking to the bees and calming them when he arrived.

"He started to talk to the bees. 'All right now. Calm down. All right,'" Father Groeschel recalled in a story to Our Sunday Visitor. "And they started to calm down and go back into the hive.... I was absolutely in total shock.”

Fr. Solanus recognized the problem - there were two queen bees in the hive - and without the standard protective gloves or netting, stuck his bare hand in the hive and pulled out the second queen without getting stung.

He was also known for calming bees by playing his harmonica, which is now on display at the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit.

A violinist of ‘more love than skill’

Also on display at the Solanus Casey Center is the friar’s beloved violin, which by all accounts he played “with more love than skill.”

He loved to play the violin and sing, a skill he picked up while still living at home. But he had a high squeaky voice that some friars found grating. According to one account from the Catholic Education Resource Center, one of the Capuchin friars had fallen ill, and Fr. Solanus went to fetch his violin in order to cheer him up. While he was gone, the sick friar asked one of his visitors to turn on the radio to deter Fr. Solanus from playing his violin.

In another story about his violin playing, a friar heard a squeaky noise coming from the chapel. When he went to see where the noise was coming from, he found Fr. Solanus alone in front of the chapel’s Nativity scene, playing and singing Christmas carols in his squeaky voice for the baby Jesus.

On the whole, Fr. Solanus’ quirks only served to make him more beloved among the people of Detroit and those who have a devotion to him.

“He was sincere, everyone knew he was holy, even though listening to him play the violin was a challenge,” Fr. Wolf told Michigan Catholic in February.

Over 20,000 people came to pay their respects after the friar died, and an estimated 70,000 people are expected in Detroit for his beatification this weekend. His beatification Mass will take place on November 18th at 4 p.m. at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.

 

For Cardinal Parolin, Vatican II still benefits the Church

Fri, 11/17/2017 - 13:16

Washington D.C., Nov 17, 2017 / 11:16 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Second Vatican Council, rightly understood, continues to be a force for evangelization and renewal in the Church, according to Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State of the Holy See.

Cardinal Parolin, speaking Nov. 14 at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., reflected on the council’s global impact, its focus on the poor, its efforts to counter clericalism and empower the laity, and its efforts to re-emphasize collegiality among bishops.

“Today we can gratefully turn our gaze to the Second Vatican Council: if we read it and receive it guided by a just hermeneutics, it can be and become more and more a great force for the ever-necessary renewal of the Church,” Parolin said.

The cardinal said that given the global origins of the council fathers, the Second Vatican Council was the first world church council in a geographic sense.

“The consequences were of no little importance: the introduction of local languages into the liturgy, for example, and also the emergence of a theology of a ‘local’ Church are the emerging points of a ‘new’ Church consciousness that is historically realized in the most diverse cultural contexts,” the cardinal said.

The irreversable introduction of the Church as a “world Church” is part of the permanent importance of the council.

The council did indeed introduce “a new style” and grew from “new seeds, drawn from the source of Tradition, especially biblical and patristic.”

He cited Pope Francis’ emphasis on the style of the council. The Pope had said it sowed the seeds of “synodality” or “conciliarity” at all levels of the Church, affecting all priests and bishops and pastoral advice. While the “monarchical” figure is essential in Catholic theology, whether in the parish priest, a diocesan bishop, or the Roman Pontiff, this figure has been “happily completed and balanced by this synodality that brings about real enrichment at all levels.”

The Pope thought this “conciliar” style of the Church was one of the most beautiful legacies of the council.
 
Cardinal Parolin noted some commentators who see the council through a “hermeneutics of misfortune” that places on Vatican II “all the calamities of the Church.” To these, the cardinal cited Benedict XVI’s arguments against a “hermeneutics of discontinuity and rupture” in favor of a “hermeneutics of reform, of renewal in continuity.” Benedict saw the council as having a prophetic interpretation. In the Pope emeritus’ words, its beneficial influence “preserved humanity and the Church itself from a crisis which at the end of the second millennium could have been much worse.”

Cardinal Parolin gave a lengthy exposition of the council, drawing on Benedict XVI, Francis, various commentators, and Blessed Paul VI.

The cardinal found in Paul VI “the idea of inheritance which is the passage of testimony from generation to generation” and also the image of “a flowing river feeding itself from its source.”

He also cited Francis’ description of the council as “a re-reading of the Gospel in the light of contemporary culture.”

Both Pope Francis and the Second Vatican Council emphasized the dignity of the lay faithful. Cardinal Parolin noted the transformation from a Church that had “the total concentration of every active function in the hands of the clergy” to a Church that recognizes “the right and duty of lay faithful to participate in the life and mission of the Church.”

Cardinal Parolin reflected on the importance of the “sensus fidei,” the “sense of the faith” in guiding Church teaching. He cited the discussions that led to the solemn declarations of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Ahead of hese declarations, the cardinal said, “the entire Church was involved in a large-scale synodal process, where everyone was active, each in its own way: the Pope, who started and ended the process; the bishops, who replied to the Pope attesting their faith and that of the faithful entrusted to them; the People of God, who witnessed a faith that manifested the ‘sense of the Church’.”

For the cardinal, the “sense of the faith”  represents “a vital resource for the new evangelization.” He cited Pope Francis’ first Angelus address, which cited an elderly woman who said, “If the Lord did not forgive everything, the world would not exist.” The Pope commented on this statement: “That is the wisdom which the Holy Spirit gives.”

“The intuition of that woman is a touching manifestation of the ‘sensus fidei’, which allows a certain discernment of the things of faith and at the same time nourishes true wisdom and arouses the proclamation of truth,” said the Pope.

The Pope’s 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium stressed the importance of the laity, praising those with “a rooted sense of community and a great fidelity to the commitment of the love of Christ.”

Cardinal Parolin noted that the exhortation characterizes clericalism as “a sin against the lay faithful.” While in some cases the laity have not been formed for important responsibilities, in others the laity  have not found space in their particular churches “because of excessive clericalism that keeps them on the margin of decisions.”

Parolin cited Cardinal Giacomo Lercaro of Bologna’s intervention during the council, in which he linked the “mystery of Christ in the Church” to the “mystery of Christ in the poor” and emphasized the need for the council to be for “the Church of the poor.” For Cardinal Parolin, this was a very strong statement, meaning  poverty is understood “as the mode of being essential to the mystery of the Church.”

Also a topic of the cardinal’s speech were various efforts to reconsider papal primacy, centralization, and local authority. He noted then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s concerns that bishops’ conferences might suppress the role of the individual bishop.

At the same time, the council documents Christus Dominus and Lumen gentium discuss the collegial nature of bishops’ ministry and base these conferences’ mission in the sacramental origin of the bishops’ ministry.

“In other words, these conferences are really ‘episcopal’: they have their reason for being not in a sociological principle of collaboration, but in the implementation of the ministry conferred on each bishop with episcopal consecration,” the cardinal said.

Cardinal Parolin’s U.S. visit included attendance at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ fall assembly and a visit with Vice President Mike Pence.

Venerable Solanus Casey: the priest who answered the doorbell.

Fri, 11/17/2017 - 08:00

Vatican City, Nov 17, 2017 / 06:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Venerable Solanus Casey, a Capuchin priest from Wisconsin, was humble before all else, said the postulator of his cause for sainthood.

The life of Venerable Solanus Casey is the story of his “humility, his simplicity, as well as his acceptance of whatever life gave him,” Franciscan-Capuchin Fr. Carlo Calloni told CNA Nov. 15.

Fr. Solanus Casey is an American-born Capuchin priest who died in 1957. He will be beatified at a Nov. 18 Mass in Detroit. Known for his great faith, attention to the sick, and ability as a spiritual counselor, he will be the second American-born male to be beatified.

As the general postulator for the Order of Friars Minor-Capuchin, Fr. Calloni is well-versed in the life and virtues of Venerable Solanus Casey, who he told CNA had a gift for listening and for consolation.

“He became the friar at the door of the monastery, who welcomes your spiritual needs but also answers to your physical needs or material difficulties,” he said.

“There was no one, after visiting Solanus Casey at the door of the monastery, who returned with nothing. Everyone received something, spiritual or material.”

The priest’s humility began even in his youth, Fr. Calloni said. Born on Nov. 25, 1870 to a family of Irish immigrants, he work from a young ag at a variety of jobs, including as a lumberjack, prison guard and tram driver.

Around the age of 20, he felt a strong desire to become a priest, entering the seminary at Milwaukee. But he had many difficulties in his studies there, Fr. Calloni explained, “especially to learn German and Latin, the languages in which theology was taught” at the time.
 
After the seminary encouraged him to enter a religious order, he joined the Capuchin Franciscans in Detroit and after struggling through his studies, was ordained in 1904 a “sacerdos simplex” – a priest who can say Mass, but not publicly preach or hear confessions.

Because he was a “sacerdos simplex” he was given the same jobs as lay brothers of the order; he worked as an assistant to the janitor, the cook, and the tailor. For 21 years he was the porter at St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit, assigned to answer the door whenever it rang.

“He accepted performing even these humble services, and in this he fulfilled, as it is said, God’s design for him,” Fr. Calloni said.

Eventually, because of his humility and good counsel, people began to seek out Fr. Solanus for spiritual guidance.

Over the course of his life “he also wrote many letters in reply to the people who asked him for advice.”

Fr. Solanus Casey died from erysipelas, a skin disease, on July 31, 1957, at the age of 87. Since then many people have received favors from his intercession. And on May 4, Pope Francis recognized a miracle attributed to his intercession, paving the way for his beatification.

Calloni said because the miracle is a “delicate” matter, he could only speak of it in general terms, but said it occurred to a Panamanian woman who was invited to visit Detroit by Capuchin Franciscan missionaries.

During her visit, the woman, who had a grave and incurable genetic skin disease, visited and prayed at the tomb of Fr. Solanus. Like many devotees, she wrote a note to place at the tomb, asking for a special grace or favor.

She prayed for a long list of family and friends, but then was moved to ask for something for herself. “And she asked only to have a greater faith. This is all,” Fr. Calloni said. She was completely healed.

“The figure of Solanus Casey is well known in Detroit,” he said. “He is truly in the heart of the city. Precisely because he accepted everyone to his door. He did not refuse anyone: the color of the skin, religion, social condition. He really was a man of great spirituality, of great faith.”

 

House passes contentious tax plan despite bishops' warnings

Thu, 11/16/2017 - 18:37

Washington D.C., Nov 16, 2017 / 04:37 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The House of Representatives on Thursday passed a major tax reform bill, which had drawn caution from the U.S. bishops, who had warned that it could place additional burdens on the working poor.

With an official vote of 227-205, the bill was opposed by all House Democrats, as well as 13 Republicans.

It will next go to the Senate. It is uncertain whether it will have enough votes to pass there.

U.S. bishops had called parts of the tax legislation “unconscionable” in a Nov. 9 letter, signed by Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, who chairs the Committee on International Justice and Peace; and Bishop George V. Murry, S.J. of Youngstown, who chairs the Committee on Catholic Education.

“As written, this proposal appears to be the first federal income tax modification in American history that will raise income taxes on the working poor while simultaneously providing a large tax cut to the wealthy,” they said.

They also objected to provisions in the bill that would act as disincentives for charitable giving, affordable housing projects and community revitalization.

The bishops did highlight some positive aspects of the tax reform, including in the areas of education and child tax credits.

 

Report: US bishops choose delegates for 2018 Synod

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 17:30

Baltimore, Md., Nov 15, 2017 / 03:30 pm (CNA).- Meeting in Baltimore for their annual fall assembly, the U.S. bishops have selected their choices for delegates to next year’s Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment, multiple sources have reported to CNA.

According to these sources, the delegates are Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, the bishops’ conference president; Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, conference vice president and head of the nation’s largest diocese; Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, who hosted the World Meeting of Families attended by Pope Francis in 2015; and Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles, known for his prominent new media evangelization presence. These names have not been confirmed by the USCCB.

The 2018 Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment is a global meeting of bishops to be held next year in Rome. Bishops’ conferences vote on delegates to attend the synod. After being elected, delegates’ names are sent to the Vatican for approval.

Cardinal DiNardo was born in Steubenville, Ohio, in 1949. He studied philosophy and theology, and he was ordained a priest in 1977.

He became coadjutor bishop of Sioux City, Iowa, in 1997 and was named coadjutor bishop of Galveston-Houston in January 2004. He was elevated to the College of Cardinals in November 2007.

The cardinal was chosen vice president of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference in 2013, and president of the conference in 2016, a position that he currently holds.

He previously served as the head of the bishops’ pro-life committee, and he has also served as a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, and the Pontifical Council for the Economy.

Appointed in 2010 to shepherd the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Archbishop Gomez heads the largest U.S. diocese, with more than 4 million Catholics. He is the highest-ranking Hispanic bishop in the United States.

Born in Monterrey, Mexico in 1951, he holds degrees in accounting, philosophy and theology, and was ordained an Opus Dei priest in 1978. In 2001, he was ordained an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Denver, and in 2005, he was appointed Archbishop of San Antonio.

Archbishop Gomez has worked extensively in Hispanic ministry and played a key role in creating the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders (CALL). In 2005, he was named one of Time Magazine’s 25 most influential Hispanics in the United States, and in 2007 he was on a CNN’s list of “Notable Hispanics” in a web special celebrating “Hispanic Heritage Month.”

In 2008, Archbishop Gomez was appointed as a consultant to the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. He has served in various roles for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in areas including Cultural Diversity, Doctrine, and Hispanics and the Liturgy.

In 2016, he was elected vice president of the bishops’ conference.

Born in 1944 in Concordia, Kansas, Archbishop Chaput was ordained to the priesthood in 1970. He was ordained Bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota, in 1988, and was appointed Archbishop of Denver by Pope John Paul II in 1997.

While in Denver, Archbishop Chaput launched the local St. John Vianney Seminary, which boasts one of the highest seminary enrollment rates in the country. He was also influential in the success of several Colorado-based organizations, including the nationwide missionary group Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), the international women's group Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women (ENDOW), and the Augustine Institute, a lay Catholic graduate school.

As member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribe, Archbishop Chaput is the first Native American archbishop. He has served on several U.S. bishops' committees involving marriage and family, pro-life activities, immigration, and religious freedom. In 2014, Pope Francis appointed him to the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

The archbishop was chosen to lead Philadelphia in 2011. He led efforts to organize the 2015 World Meeting of Families, which brought Pope Francis to the United States.

Bishop Barron was appointed auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles in 2015. He is the founder of the Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, as well as the host of the award-winning documentary Catholicism.  

Born in Chicago in 1959, Bishop Barron was ordained a priest in 1986. He taught as Mundelein Seminary, the University of Notre Dame and at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Known as a pioneer in new media evangelization, Bishop Barron has a strong social media following. He has published 15 books and is a #1 Amazon bestselling author.

 

Is the FBI preparing to investigate Planned Parenthood?

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 05:34

Washington D.C., Nov 15, 2017 / 03:34 am (CNA/EWTN News).- An FBI request for un-redacted Planned Parenthood documents from the U.S. Senate could signal an investigation into whether the abortion giant illegally sold fetal tissue from aborted babies.

The request was made to the Senate Judiciary Committee, whose chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) referred Planned Parenthood and several other organizations that perform abortions to the FBI after the committee investigated their practices of transferring fetal tissue. The report comes from The Hill news site, which cited unnamed sources familiar with the document request.

The Center for Medical Progress in 2015 released undercover videos appearing to show Planned Parenthood and other abortion industry leaders engaged in the illegal sale of the tissue and body parts.

David Daleiden, who heads the center, said Nov. 13 the investigation is “long overdue,” adding that the “sale of aborted baby body parts is the greatest human atrocity of our times and must finally be brought to justice under the law.”

Federal law generally prohibits the sale of human organs but does allow for the transfer of fetal tissue for medical research with compensation, provided the compensation is not “valuable consideration” but is “reasonable,” to cover expenses such as operating and shipping costs.

In December, Sen. Grassley said the committee’s final report had uncovered enough evidence to show that abortion providers had charged research firms more than their actual costs for fetal tissue and aborted babies’ body parts.

“The report documents the failure of the Department of Justice, across multiple administrations, to enforce the law that bans the buying and selling of human fetal tissue,” Grassley had said. There was “substantial evidence” that the providers or their employees may have violated the law.

One firm paid $60 for an unborn baby’s body that had been aborted at a Planned Parenthood clinic. They transferred various parts for $2,275, and charged fees for shipping and disease screening, the committee report said.

Some companies engaged in after-the-fact accounting to rationalize their fees, the report said, charging that they have been free to “receive substantial payment with impunity” by relying on an expansive interpretation of an exception to the law against buying and selling fetal tissue.

Dana Singiser, Vice President of Government Affairs for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said Planned Parenthood strongly disagreed with the recommendations to refer the question to the Department of Justice.

“These accusations are baseless, and a part of a widely discredited attempt to end access to reproductive health care at Planned Parenthood,” Singiser said, claiming the agency “has never, and would never, profit while facilitating its patients’ choice to donate fetal tissue for use in important medical research.”

Grassley’s staff is reportedly working to fulfill the document request in compliance with Senate rules. If copies of the documents need to be transferred to a grand jury, a full Senate vote would be required, The Hill reports.

Documents hacked from the Open Societies Foundation and posted to the site DCLeaks.com last year appeared to show Planned Parenthood’s allies and funders engaged in a multi-million dollar damage control campaign to counter the fallout from the videos.

“While Planned Parenthood has had to defend against a variety of attacks by abortion opponents in recent years, the release of these videos and the related attacks were severe and without warning,” one document said. “Countering this offensive requires an enormous amount of resources and staff time, which is the intent of the opposition.”  

The document, apparently written weeks after the July 2015 release of the first Center for Medical Progress videos, cited a need to defend the reputation and credibility of the provider and to defend it against potential loss of federal funding.

 

Black Elk sainthood cause advances with US bishops' vote

Tue, 11/14/2017 - 16:59

Baltimore, Md., Nov 14, 2017 / 02:59 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The sainthood cause for Lakota medicine man and Catholic catechist Nicholas Black Elk took another step forward today, as the U.S. bishops unanimously approved his canonical consultation.

The Nov. 14 voice vote of the bishops took place at their annual fall assembly in Baltimore, and is the latest in a series of steps on the path to sainthood.

The motion to vote on the cause was brought forward by Bishop Robert D. Gruss of Rapid City, South Dakota, the home diocese of Black Elk where his cause was officially opened earlier this year.

Even before his conversion to Catholicism, Black Elk was a prominent medicine man “widely known as a holy man and a mystic,” Bishop Gruss told the assembly of bishops.

After his conversion, Black Elk “fully embraced a Catholic life” and became an “ardent Catechist” who would go on to convert more than 400 Native Americans to the faith, Gruss noted.

Black Elk became “an icon who reveals what God calls all of us to be - people of faith and hope, and a source of hope for others,” he added.

Black Elk was born sometime between 1858 and 1866 and, like many of his ancestors, served as a medicine man, which combined the roles of medical doctor, spiritual adviser and counselor.

He was present for the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876, and the following year, he joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, which toured Europe, including a performance before Queen Victoria.

In 1892, after touring with the show for several years, he married Katie War Bonnet. They had three children. After she converted to Catholicism, all three children were baptized.

The year after she died, Black Elk converted to Catholicism and was baptized on Dec. 6, 1904, the Feast of St. Nicholas. He took Nicholas as his baptismal name because he admired the saint's generosity.

In 1905, he married again to Anna Brings White, a widow with two children. They had three children together and she passed away in 1941.

During Black Elk’s lifetime, the practice in the Diocese of Rapid City was for Jesuit priests to select Lakota Catholic men to teach the faith to other members of their tribe as catechists. They evangelized, prayed and prepared converts in the Lakota language, traveling by foot or by horseback until automobiles became available.

Black Elk became a catechist in 1907, chosen for his enthusiasm and his excellent memory for learning Scripture and Church teaching. He was also one of the signatories of the cause of canonization for St. Kateri Tekakwitha, another Native American saint. He passed away Aug. 19, 1950 at Pine Ridge.

Last year, a petition with over 1,600 signatures to open his cause for canonization was presented to Bishop Gruss by the Nicholas Black Elk family. An October Mass officially opened his cause in the diocese this year.

Gruss said that Black Elk’s witness is an inspiration for both Native and non-native Americans, because he “lived the Gospel in everyday life.”

The next step in Black Elk’s cause will be for a tribunal to investigate and document examples of heroic virtue in his life.

 

Sacramento bishop leads prayer after northern California shooting

Tue, 11/14/2017 - 16:54

Baltimore, Md., Nov 14, 2017 / 02:54 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Notifying his fellow bishops of “a terrible shooting” in his diocese, Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento led them in prayer for the victims during the U.S. bishops' general assembly in Baltimore on Tuesday.

“I would ask if we could take a moment to ask God's mercy not only on those affected by this [incident], but on all affected by gun violence in these times. Let us ask for Mary's intercession for these people,” he said Nov. 14, leading those gathered in the Hail Mary.

“Mary, mother of Mercy and Queen of Peace, pray for us,” he added.

Minutes after learning about the shooting in Northern California, Sacramento's @bishopsoto led his brother bishops in a prayer for all victims of gun violence. #USCCB17 pic.twitter.com/5YiFaIN5X3

— US Catholic Bishops (@USCCB) November 14, 2017 The New York Times reports that at least four people were killed at several sites in and around Ranch Tehema Reserve, a small community located about 130 miles northwest of Sacramento. Several more people were wounded, including at an elementary school. No children were killed, according to police. The gunman has been shot and killed by police, authorities said.

A sheriff's office official told reporters the shooter was armed with a semiautomatic rifle and two handguns, and neighbors had reported his involvement in a domestic violence incident.

 

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