CNA News

Subscribe to CNA News feed CNA News
ACI Prensa's latest initiative is the Catholic News Agency (CNA), aimed at serving the English-speaking Catholic audience. ACI Prensa (www.aciprensa.com) is currently the largest provider of Catholic news in Spanish and Portuguese.
Updated: 2 hours 11 min ago

Parma eparchy says Aug. attack didn’t happen, places priest on leave

Tue, 10/23/2018 - 16:01

Parma, Ohio, Oct 23, 2018 / 02:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Ruthenian Eparchy of Parma has announced that a priest who was reportedly attacked in August has been placed on administrative leave due to a credible accusation of sexual misconduct with a minor.

Fr. Basil Hutsko is accused of misconduct alleged to have occurred 35 years ago (or in 1983), the eparchy stated.

“Though Father Basil Hutsko denies the accusation, Bishop Milan Lach, SJ, having heard from the priest, the Review Board, and the Promotor [sic] of Justice, has found the accusation to be credible,” the eparchy said. “A finding that the accusation is credible is not a finding of guilt,” it added.

In August, Hutsko had been reported to have been attacked at his parish. The eparchy’s statement said that attack did not take take place.

The eparchy “has recently verified with a member of Father Basil Hutsko’s immediate family that the incident Father Basil Hutsko reported on Aug. 20, 2018, did not occur,” the statement said.

An August statement attributed to the eparchial chancery which was widely shared on Facebook said Fr. Hutsko “was attacked and knocked unconscious” in the altar server's sacristy at his parish after celebrating the Divine Liturgy.

That statement said the priest was choked and his head slammed to the ground, making him lose consciousness. According to the statement, the attacker said, “This is for all the kids.”

Fr. Hutsko, 64, was serving as pastor of St. Michael parish in Merrillville, Ind., immediately south of Gary.

The August statement was signed by Fr. Thomas J. Loya, who is pastor of Annunciation Byzantine Catholic Church in Homer Glen, Ill.

A source close to Fr. Hutsko confirmed that the priest was hospitalized in August, but did not have additional knowledge about the incident.

Jeff Rice, spokesman for the Merrillville police, told the Chicago Tribune Fr. Hutsko had been “definitely bruised and banged up.”

The police department alerted the FBI about the supposed incident.

Later in August, the eparchy said that an abuse complaint had been made against Fr. Hutsko in 2004, but it was not deemed credible. The complaint was made by a woman who said the priest had abused her as a child between 1979 and 1983.

Fr. Hutsko has also served at parishes in Cleveland, Dayton, and Marblehead, Ohio, and Sterling Heights, Michigan.

The Parma eparchy has also placed on administrative leave Fr. Stephen Muth, in response to a recent credible accusation of sexual misconduct involving a vulnerable adult.

“The Eparchy of Parma is committed to protecting children and helping to heal victims of abuse,” the chancery stated. “We are deeply sorry for the pain suffered by survivors of abuse due to actions of some members of the clergy.”

Congressman asks House to protect religious minorities in Iraq

Tue, 10/23/2018 - 14:00

Washington D.C., Oct 23, 2018 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- Congressman Jeff Fortenberry introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives Oct. 5 a security resolution intended to protect religious minorities in northern Iraq.

“Much is at stake. Iraq and the region risk losing entire minority communities and, with them, the centuries-old healthy pluralism that played the quiet but essential role of holding people of diverse faiths together,” Fortenberry said in an Oct. 17 statement.

Assistance for Iraqi Christians, Yazidis, and other communities victimized by the Islamic State must be combined with a plan for local security to facilitate the safe return of these minorities to their homelands, the resolution says.

The Christian and Yazidi minorities of northern Iraq were decimated by the Islamic State in 2014. Iraq’s Christian community once numbered 1.5 million, but today less than 200,000 Christians remain.

Fortenberry called on the U.S. government to “develop a coordinated and implementable plan for a stabilization and security mission in the region,” which incorporates local security forces and police units with “regularized national military structures.”

“Re-securitization is necessary to ensure the success of our humanitarian support for restoring the once-rich tapestry of ethnic and religious diversity that existed in the region,” he continued.

The Nebraska congressman traveled to northern Iraq last summer with USAID Administrator Mark Green and Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, on a trip evaluating how U.S. aid money is being applied through multilateral organizations, such as the U.N., and assessing the situation of Iraqi minorities on the ground.

“Without a new security apparatus,” economic aid “will not be sustainable,” Fortenberry told CNA after that trip.

Christian and Yazidi communities in northern Iraq need security as they rebuild, he said.

USAID announced Oct. 16 that it is increasing assistance to religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq by around $45 million. This new commitment brings the total amount in planned and active efforts in support of minority communities in northern Iraq to more than $239 million.

Last week USAID leader Mark Green met with Vatican officials to discuss development and recovery efforts in Iraq.

During the Rome visit, Green told CNA that he hopes USAID’s efforts are “strengthening the capacity of organizations on the ground for the long run.”

The hope, Green said, is to “continue to build up this part of Iraq, so that families say, ‘my future is here, I can live here, my children can go to school here, there will be the kinds of jobs that keep them here.’”

A young Iraqi Catholic, Safa al Abbia, participated in the 2018 Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith, and vocational discernment as an auditor.

Al Abbia told the Synod bishops that the main challenge facing young people in Iraq is “peace and stability and their right to live in dignity.”

In his intervention, Al Abbia said that he will never forget the face of his friends who told him, ‘See you next week,’ after Mass. He never saw again because they were “burned under the fire of the bombed car.”

He asked for prayers for Iraq and said, “Don’t forget us because we have a wonderful group of young people that are steadfast in their faith, salt to the earth as Jesus said.”

 

US bishops to hold retreat following abuse scandals

Tue, 10/23/2018 - 14:00

Washington D.C., Oct 23, 2018 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- The bishops of the United States will meet for a week-long retreat to reflect upon the current situation facing the Church in America. The meeting will take place early next year.

 

In a statement issued by the US bishops’ conference Oct. 23, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, USCCB president and Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, said that Pope Francis had offered the services of his personal preacher to direct the retreat.

 

“The Holy Father has kindly offered the preacher to the Papal Household, Reverend Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap., to serve as the retreat director as we come together to pray on the intense matters before us. For this, I am grateful,” DiNardo said.

 

The bishops will gather and at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois, from January 2-8. The university houses the primary seminary for the Archdiocese of Chicago, often referred to simply as the Mundelein Seminary.

 

DiNardo also expressed his gratitude to Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago for offering to host the event.

 

It was Pope Francis who first suggested that American bishops hold a retreat as they consider how to respond to the still ongoing sexual abuse crises facing the Church.

 

On Sept. 13, Cardinal DiNardo met with Pope Francis in Rome, together with other leaders from the USCCB, to discuss the various scandals unfolding in the United States. DiNardo also met with the pope earlier this month in what the US bishops’ conference described as a “regularly scheduled visit” to the Curia.

 

The announcement of the retreat comes as the American bishops prepare to meet in Baltimore in November for the general assembly of the US bishops’ conference. That meeting is widely expected to focus on how the Church can respond to the fallout of the scandal surrounding Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and the growing number of investigations into allegations of clerical sexual abuse in different states.

 

Authorities in 14 different states, including the District of Columbia, have either announced or already begun investigations into the abuse of minors. Federal authorities in Pennsylvania have also opened an investigation into the dioceses of that state.

 

In September, the USCCB Administrative Committee announced a series of policies aimed at both addressing the sexual abuse crisis and increasing accountability and transparency in how bishops dealt with allegations, including against themselves. These included a proposed  third-party reporting mechanism for accusations, a code of conduct for bishops, and new protocols for bishops who either resign or are removed from office following abuse allegations.

DC attorney general announces abuse investigation

Tue, 10/23/2018 - 11:47

Washington D.C., Oct 23, 2018 / 09:47 am (CNA).- The District of Columbia's attorney general has opened an investigation into clerical sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Washington. The announcement was made during a Mayor-Council breakfast meeting on Oct. 23.

 

A statement released by DC attorney general Karl Racinev said that “while we generally don’t talk publicly about our confidential enforcement activity, I can report that our office has launched a civil investigation into whether the Archdiocese – which is a nonprofit institution – violated the District’s Nonprofit Act by potentially covering up allegations of sexual abuse of minors.”

 

Racine told the breakfast meeting that “according to the law, nonprofits are required to work for a public purpose; if they are in fact covering up child sex abuse, that is clearly not in the public interest.”

 

CNA contacted the attorney general’s office and asked if the investigation was in response to allegations it had received, or if it was a proactive step being taken on the AG’s own initiative. A spokesperson for the attorney general’s office declined to comment and said they were not prepared to answer “detailed questions” about the announcement.  

 

Racine previously stated in a radio interview in August that he had received considerable pressure from the public to open such an investigation.

 

The Archdiocese of Washington is currently led by Cardinal Donald Wuerl as interim-administrator pending the appointment of a successor by Pope Francis.

 

A spokesman for the archdiocese told CNA that archdiocesan officials met with the attorney general last month and stressed their eagerness to engage in a collaborative and cooperative process.

 

The spokesman also said that the archdiocese encouraged the attorney general to consider a wider investigation into all bodies with a child protection mandate, including other charities and public schools, in the interests of the public good. “Clearly the attorney general has decided to go another way,” the spokesman said.

 

On Oct. 15, the Archdiocese of Washington released a list of clergy who had been credibly accused of sexual abuse. At the time of that release, the archdiocese stressed that no priest currently in ministry had been accused of sexual abuse, and that no credible allegations had been received concerning the abuse of minors in nearly twenty years.

 

News of the attorney general’s investigation comes only one day after the opening of a special hotline for residents of the district to report allegations of clerical sexual abuse. That line was announced Monday, Oct. 22 by federal prosecutors at the Superior Court Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

 

Following the publication of the Pennsylvania grand jury report in July, attorneys general in several states have announced similar inquiries, including in Michigan, Missouri, Maryland, New York, and New Jersey. Last week, federal prosecutors served subpoenas to the dioceses of Pennsylvania, opening a new investigation into clerical sexual abuse in that state.

 

The Washington attorney general specifically emphasised the trend, saying in his remarks Tuesday that “our investigation brings the count of states with open investigations to 14.”

 

The Archdiocese of Washington is home to nearly 700,000 Catholics, six Catholic colleges and universities, and 93 Catholic schools.

 

As the last archdiocese to be led by former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Washington has been the subject of considerable attention and scrutiny during a summer in which several different sexual abuse scandals have unfolded at once.

 

Despite accusations of sexual abuse or harassment against McCarrick concerning his time in several dioceses in New York and New Jersey, no public accusations have been made concerning his time in Washington, either while archbishop or in retirement.

U.S. attorney for D.C. announces federal hotline for victims of clergy sex abuse

Mon, 10/22/2018 - 18:40

Washington D.C., Oct 22, 2018 / 04:40 pm (CNA).- Following the launch of a federal investigation into several Catholic dioceses last week, federal prosecutor Jessie K. Liu has announced the opening of a hotline for victims of sexual abuse by clergy in the District of Columbia.

The hotline, announced Monday, is being launched in collaboration with the Superior Court Division’s Sex Offense and Domestic Violence Section and the Victim Witness Assistance Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

There is both an email address and a phone number where “survivors of child sexual abuse by clergy who wish to share their experiences and/or those who have knowledge of such abuse” can make incident reports “for potential criminal investigation and prosecution,” said an announcement published by Liu’s office.

Survivors of child sexual abuse by a clergy member that took place in the District of Columbia “in a house of worship, school, or other location” can make reports to the Clergy Abuse Reporting Line at 202-252-7008 or by e-mail at USADC.ReportClergyAbuse@usdoj.gov.

“All reports will be reviewed and a team of experienced criminal investigators, prosecutors, and victim advocates from the Superior Court Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office will determine whether any criminal charges can be brought or victim services provided,” the announcement states. “The victim advocates, who are part of the Victim Witness Assistance Unit, are available to offer support and guidance to survivors who wish to report.”

The creation of such a hotline comes at the end of the so-called “summer of scandal” during which numerous accusations of abuse surfaced against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a grand jury report from Pennsylvania detailed decades of clerical abuse, and former Vatican nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano accused Vatican officials, including Pope Francis, of failing to sufficiently respond to reports of misconduct on McCarrick’s part.

It also comes about a week after Pope Francis accepted the resignation of D.C.’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who has been the subject of criticism since late June, when revelations about alleged sexual misconduct on the part of his predecessor, McCarrick, raised questions about what Wuerl knew about McCarrick, and how he responded to that knowledge.

The announcement of the hotline also shortly followed the federal government’s launch of an investigation into seven of the eight Catholic dioceses in the state of Pennsylvania, as well as the Diocese of Buffalo in New York, which is also being investigated by its State Attorney General's Office.

According to documents obtained by local media, the Diocese of Buffalo appears to have been served with the a subpoena from the U.S. attorney’s office in late May or early June of this year, though it was only made public last week.

Emails between Buffalo’s Bishop Richard J. Malone, his staff and attorney mention the words “subpoena” and “Grand Jury” as early as May 31 of this year, Channel 7 Eyewitness News WKBW in Buffalo, an ABC affiliate, reported.

In those emails, Malone said he found it “encouraging” that the scope of the investigation would likely be small, based on the criteria of the probe. He also said that he hoped any prosecutable cases would be “all men (already) removed from ministry.”

A source told WKBW that the subpoena was related “to pornography, taking victims across state lines and use of cell phones/social media.”

On Oct. 18, the Diocese of Buffalo released a statement acknowledging that a federal subpoena was served to the diocese “several months ago.”

“A subpoena was provided and after some discussion, an agreement was reached to produce documents. We have heard nothing since early June. As far as we know, our response has nothing to do with the current Pennsylvania investigation that has just begun."

 

Nikki Haley praises ‘everyday miracles’ of Church despite abuse crisis

Mon, 10/22/2018 - 17:30

New York City, N.Y., Oct 22, 2018 / 03:30 pm (CNA).- Ambassador Nikki Haley used her speech at the annual Al Smith dinner in New York City to acknowledge the Church’s efforts to address the sexual abuse scandal while continuing its “incredible work” helping “millions of desperate people” around the world.

The outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations was the guest of honor at the fundraising dinner for the Archdiocese of New York, held Oct. 18. While the dinner raises millions of dollars for the Church’s charitable outreach in the city, Haley said that the efforts she had seen went “way beyond that.”

In the course of her time as ambassador, Haley said that she had been to some “truly dark places” where the suffering endured by many people would be “hard for most Americans to imagine.”

“I’ve been to the border between Colombia and Venezuela, where people walk 3 hours each way in the blazing sun to get the only meal that they will have that day. Who’s giving that meal? The Catholic Church,” she said.

“I’ve been to refugee camps in Central Africa where young boys are kidnapped and forced to become child soldiers and young girls are raped as a matter of routine. Who was in the forefront of changing this culture of corruption and violence? The Catholic Church.”

Haley also acknowledged the sexual abuse crises which have rocked the Church, both in the United States and globally, saying that she would “be remiss” if she did not mention the recent scandals. Noting that sexual abuse and assault was not a problem limited to the Church but one which “deeply touches the American family,” she said that the Church had an obligation to victims.

“The church’s place must be with the victims that carry the pain with them. I know the church leaders recognize its deep responsibility to address this moral failing, and it is taking action,” she said. At the same time, the ambassador said that it would be “tragic” if the abuse scandal made the world blind to “the amazing good works the Catholic Church does every single day.”

Haley called the Church’s global works of charity, education, and healthcare “everyday miracles” and said that “those miracles are the way of the Church.”

The annual event raises money for the Alfred E. Smith Foundation, which serves the “neediest children of the Archdiocese of New York, regardless of race, creed, or color.” Each year, the dinner features a prominent politician; during presidential election years, the two main candidates are invited together.

Smith was the first Catholic to be nominated as a presidential candidate by one of the two leading U.S. political parties.

Speakers at the dinner traditionally deliver irreverent and light hearted political humor, and Haley offered good natured jokes at the expense of prominent Democrats and Republicans, including the president.

But she was also quick to place American political strife in context, criticizing the growing tendency to term political opponents as “evil.”

“In the last two years, I’ve seen true evil. We have some serious political differences here at home. But our opponents are not evil. They’re just our opponents,” she said.

“We are blessed with a political system that allows us to resolve our differences peacefully. In the end, we must recognize that we are all Americans, and we are stronger and healthier when we are united.”

Haley’s appearance at the dinner came a little over a week after she announced that she will be stepping down from her role at the UN at the end of 2018. Haley had served as the UN Ambassador since the beginning of President Trump’s term, having previously been the governor of South Carolina.

The dinner raised nearly $4 million.

HHS considers defining sex based on birth, genetics

Mon, 10/22/2018 - 13:30

Washington D.C., Oct 22, 2018 / 11:30 am (CNA).- The Trump administration is considering reshaping some federal policies to define gender according to a person’s biology and genitalia, according to a new memo from the Department of Health and Human Services.

 

The department is seeking a definition based “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.”

 

If adopted, the changed definition would clarify the application of Title IX, the 1972 civil rights law prohibiting gender-based discrimination in educational programs that receive government funding.

 

This change would be a departure from practices developed during the Obama administration, which recognize a person’s gender based on their own interpretation or identity rather than their chromosomal makeup or birth sex.  

 

A 2010 “Dear Colleague” letter from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights noted that “gender based harassment” could include harassment based upon the “actual or perceived” “gender identity” of a person. A question-and-answer document from the same office, issued in 2014, stated that sex-based discrimination under Title IX extended to discrimination based on “gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity."

 

If the proposed changes come into effect, sex would be defined as “a person’s status as male or female based on the immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth.”

 

The sex on a person’s original birth certificate would serve as “definitive proof” of their sex, with exceptions for those who can provide “reliable genetic evidence” that states otherwise.

 

Approximately 1 out of every 1,500 to 2,000 births have abnormal sex chromosomes other than the typical XX for females and XY for males. The most common of these is Klinefelter Syndrome, which means that a male has two X chromosomes in addition to a Y chromosome. Many men with Klinefelter Syndrome are unaware they have the condition.

 

In the United States, an estimated 1.4 million people identify as “transgender,” self-identifying as a gender other than the one recorded at birth. Some such people have undergone surgery or hormonal treatments to physically resemble their gender of self-identification.

 

Critics of the proposed changes have argued that they would exclude those identifying as “transgender” from protection by Title IX and other anti-discrimination measures. Supporters of the proposal contend that it merely ensures such laws are applied to the whole population based on objective criteria and not subjective self-identification.

 

The Department of Health and Human Services is expected to present a version of the new policy to the Department of Justice before the end of the year. If the Justice Department considers the revised definition legally viable and enforceable, HHS can then approve and implement it as policy across a range of government agencies involved with Title IX enforcement.

Church needs fewer and better seminaries, says seminary prof

Sat, 10/20/2018 - 15:00

Washington D.C., Oct 20, 2018 / 01:00 pm (CNA).- In the wake of recent reports concerning widespread sexual harassment and sexual abuse at seminaries, a seminary professor has suggestions for how the seminary process could improve.

Fr. Thomas Berg, a professor of moral theology and director of admissions at St. Joseph’s Seminary in New York, suggested in an Oct. 18 Washington Post column six ways the formation process of seminarians could be changed to ensure that they would be properly formed both spiritually and emotionally.

Berg criticized the current seminary system for an “overemphasis on academics” that leaves seminarians lesser formed emotionally and personally. He warned that those kinds of deficits do not form priests who are ready to effectively serve their parishes, and could result in additional misbehavior.

“Where focus on personal psychological integration is lacking, space opens for disordered living of precisely the type that has made headlines in recent months,” he said. Seminaries in several U.S. cities announced investigations into misconduct this summer.

Next, Berg said that there needs to be increased trust and transparency betweens seminarians and formation teams. He said it “pained [him] to hear” that some seminarians had felt as though they could not discuss recent abuse stories. This censorship was “utterly wrongheaded.”

He said that seminarians should be able to “freely, frankly and confidently express to the formation team their concerns about the seminary community, their opinions about the formation process and any other honest apprehension or contribution they want to make in the spirit of honest dialogue.”

Additionally, he called for seminaries to have clear sexual harassment policies and protocols, and said that a person associated with the seminary, lay or otherwise, should be appointed to contact the diocese regarding sexual harassment or abuse.

Berg additionally called for a possible minimum age for seminarians, and said that “bishops need to slow down the rush to ordination.” He suggested that an age of 22 may be an appropriate time to begin seminary studies, which would allow the seminarian to acquire a college degree and work experience before entering.

While the current seminary process takes about seven years, Berg suggested that the process be extended by another year. An initial year of formation would consist of “detoxing from the culture and social media,” and would result in “growth in self-knowledge, prayer, and a secure masculine identity.” The final year prior to ordination could consist of “intensive fieldwork” in pastoral ministry.

Bishops may not appreciate this idea, he said, but he believes it is necessary, as the Church cannot be well served by priests who are ordained before they are actually ready for the position. This spiritual immaturity could result in mental health crises or other issues among clergy.

“When years later some of them falter, with addictions or other personal struggles, we all pay a heavy price,” he explained.

Berg also expressed concern at what he described as “priests who lack the skill set and drive to become mentors, role models and moral guides” being assigned to seminaries as formators.

“A doctorate in theology does not render a priest automatically suitable for such ministry,” he said. Bishops need to require that the formators themselves undergo ongoing professional formation to better serve the seminarians.

For his final points, Berg addressed the number and quality of seminaries in the United States. He said that steps should be taken to identify which seminaries are successful in the formation of priests, and those that are failing at this task. He suggested that bishops should form a panel of “seasoned seminary formators” who will visit each seminary to review their processes.

Seminaries that are “failing in their mission” should be reformed or closed.

Finally, Berg said that the current number of seminaries in the United States--70--is far too high and that number needs to be consolidated. A third of those seminaries, according to a recent report, have fewer than 50 seminarians, whereas 11 of them have more than 100 men in formation.

Instead of this glut of seminaries that are clearly not needed, Berg suggested making “15 or 20” regional seminaries, staffed by the best-of-the-best formators from seminaries around the country who would work in teams.

The current times require a “radical rethinking” of seminaries, one that must be started by the bishops, he said.

 

Having kids won’t doom your country, says #PostcardsForMacron creator

Sat, 10/20/2018 - 06:00

Washington D.C., Oct 20, 2018 / 04:00 am (ACI Prensa).- The idea that high fertility rates are a barrier to economic success is a contemporary myth, Catholic University of America economics professor, mother of eight, and viral hashtag creator Dr. Catherine Pakulak told CNA.

Pakulak started the viral “#PostcardsForMacron” hashtag on Monday in response to French President Emanuel Macron’s comment at a Gates Foundation event.

Macron suggested that educated women would not choose to have a large number of children if they had a choice. While Pakulak thinks the comment was taken partly out of context, and tried to give Macron the benefit of the doubt, she still thought it was “so ridiculous.”

Pakulak’s academic research area focuses in part on the effects of fertility on economic development.

“High fertility is not the product of ignorance,” Pakulak told CNA. She said Macron’s comments represent an “underlying view” common in contemporary culture.

This attitude prevails both in Africa, and in other places such as the United States, she said. Women like herself who chose to have many children face a “pejorative attitude” from other people about their decisions to have lots of children.

“That's what I pop into, and say 'Hey, look, this is silly. Lots of women do choose this,’” she explained.

And while Pakulak said most college-educated women do not choose to have that many children, “there are some.”

“So that was my main impetus to pick that [line of Macron’s speech] out."

Pakulak was critical of Macron’s take that families with large number of children are holding Africa back developmentally. She described this mentality as “kind of a contemporary myth” that is not backed up with statistics.  

“There is no evidence that says countries cannot grow quickly, or steadily, with high levels of fertility,” she explained. “There are a lot of people, in response to this [...] out there kind of crunching the numbers on African fertility. And some have pointed out 'look, actually African fertility is not especially high relative to its income.'"

Across the continent, the average fertility rate does not climb to seven, eight, or nine, she said. In reality, the total fertility rate (TFR) throughout Africa is closer to the world’s median rate, “in the four range.”

"There simply is not mountains and mountains of evidence to say that if countries get their fertility rates down to the twos and the threes, all of the sudden you're going to just explode [economically]," she said.  

Nigeria, the country in Africa with the highest GDP, has the 12th-highest fertility rate in the world, with a TFR of 5.07. South Africa, which has the second-highest GDP on the continent, has a much lower fertility rate of 2.29.

Pakulak told CNA that she was unhappy that Macron compared forced child marriage, which is “not something Christians could get behind or agree with,” to having large families.

She theorized that Macron’s views were similar to those of the Gates Foundation, which considers population growth to be a barrier to economic growth.

She expressed concern that this viewpoint could be used to force contraception on African women, “regardless of whether they are asking for this.”

“And I think that’s false, because other countries have grown quickly with a TFR in the range that [African countries] are in.”

While most social conservatives do not oppose the availability of contraception, she said, “what they’re against is kind of an aggressive policy” that wastes time and money that could be spent on other developmental programs.

Additionally, Pakulak said that providing contraception to girls who were forced into marriage in their preteens “isn’t going to help” their situations. Instead, she suggested that more efforts be focused on opposing the cultural norms that approve of these situations.

She is also concerned that “an era of cheap and widely-available contraception,” in which it is easy for people to pick the size of their families, people are choosing to have fewer and fewer children.

Pakulak lamented declining fertility rates in other parts of the world, mentioning especially Europe.

While France is home to Europe’s highest TFR at 1.96, it is still below the population replacement-level rate of 2.1. This is cause for concern for Pakulak, who warned that the low birth rates would spell disaster for the continent’s extensive social programs.

She is also concerned that the anti-child mentality is a sign of bigger problems.

"People don't have kids to save their countries from demographic winter,” she said.

“They have kids because of a certain attitude towards meaning and the meaning of life and what it means to live a good human life."

 

Are you ready for the March for Life? Organizers announce 2019 theme

Fri, 10/19/2018 - 19:00

Washington D.C., Oct 19, 2018 / 05:00 pm (CNA).- The theme of the 2019 March for Life will be “Unique From Day One: Pro-Life is Pro-Science,” March for Life President Jeanne Mancini announced at an event on Capitol Hill on Thursday.

The theme was chosen as science is inherently pro-life, Mancini explained Oct. 18. Science has continued to “reaffirm the scientific fact, and the truth, that life begins at fertilization/conception.”

“Our DNA is present at the moment of fertilization, and no fingerprint, ever--past, present, future--is like yours. And that’s what it means to be unique from day one,” said Mancini.

She pointed out that “society often ignores or tries to block these facts,” and reminded the crowd that in 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama refused to provide an answer when asked when he believed life began, saying it was “above his pay grade”

Mancini said that while remarks like these provide “cover” for someone who is in favor of abortion rights, “scientifically, it’s not factual.”

Fetal development, she said, is “astonishing.” She noted that the heart begins to beat just three weeks after fertilization, and that the fetus is capable of movement at eight weeks. At 13 weeks, the fetus has fingerprints, “just like our logo.”

Science, said Mancini, “should always be at the service of life, not the reverse.”  

"Science makes it clear that human life, our uniqueness as individuals, is true from the moment of conception or fertilization,” she said.

This meshes with the mission of the March for Life, she explained, which is to “protect the baby in its earliest stages.”

“So we exist, our very reason for being is to protect and defend life from the moment of fertilization."

Also announced on Thursday were that commentator Ben Shapiro and former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson will be speaking at the upcoming March for Life.

The 2019 March for Life will be held on January 19, in Washington DC. It has been held each year near the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade declared a legal right to abortion in 1973.

How a Panama City parish is helping after Hurricane Michael

Fri, 10/19/2018 - 18:00

Panama City, Fla., Oct 19, 2018 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- This is the story of a hurricane. Or, at least, the story of one Catholic parish trying to help, in the wake of one of the most powerful storms to hit the U.S. in decades.

Hurricane Michael made landfall in northwest Florida Oct. 10. The hurricane has claimed 50 lives in the U.S. and Central America, caused an estimated $8 billion in damage, and displaced thousands of people.

After Hurricane Michael overwhelmed local hospitals, St. John the Evangelist parish in Panama City has become a hub for medical services and emergency supplies.

Father Kevin McQuone, pastor of St. John Evangelist Catholic Church, told CNA that many of his parishioners’ homes are damaged and that some areas are still without power.

“Many people have lost part or all of their home. Many people [who] are displaced are looking for other places to live,” McQuone said. “A handful, I have been informed have moved on, they have lost their jobs because their business were destroyed so they have already found other jobs and moved permanently.”

St. John’s parish school has been heavily damaged, he said. The roof for the middle school building was ripped off and other school buildings have severe water damage. The priest said the school has set up a satellite campus at another parish.

He said two local hospitals in the Panama City have nearly shut down completely aside from their emergency rooms. The hurricane, he said, also destroyed a medical warehouse, which held all of the hospital’s sterile supplies.

The parish has stepped up to offer basic medical supplies and help, relying on Catholic Charities and volunteer medical professionals.

“Bringing in any sort of triage or medical clinic is welcome just to help the whole community to get the care that they need,” he said.

“We also have a mobile medical clinic that was here for part of the day yesterday and was here today as well,” he said. “Next week, we will have a group of 8-12 doctors from around the country who volunteer, and they will be here for a whole week.”

He said people have come in for basic medical help, like tetanus shots. While patients are there, they can also receive supplies – water, toiletries, and food.

The priest said a majority of the aid has been provided and organized by Catholic Charities. Noting that the Catholic population in Florida’s panhandle is only about five percent, he said the parish is helping an entire community, many of whom might have otherwise not visited a Catholic Church.

“Catholic Charities has been really great,” he said. “Immediately, we have been in connection with them. They have been sending people are way and helping us to be of service not just to our parishioners, but really to the whole community. By and large, the far majority of people that we have been serving here I’ve never met before.”

Father McQuone said that more volunteers are still needed in the area.

“Jesus told us to love God with all of our heart and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves,” he said.

For people in distress, we are “doing all we can to serve the needs of their body and the need of their soul - by prayer and by sacrificial giving.”

Neutrality on assisted suicide is the wrong prescription, Catholic doctors say

Fri, 10/19/2018 - 16:50

New Orleans, La., Oct 19, 2018 / 02:50 pm (CNA).- The American Academy of Family Physicians has taken a neutral position on assisted suicide and will lobby the American Medical Association to do the same, drawing criticism from Catholics but praise from assisted suicide advocates.
 
Leaders of the physicians’ academy gathered for its Congress of Delegates, which met Oct. 8-10 in New Orleans, approved the resolution of “engaged neutrality,” MedPage Today reports.

The organization represents over 130,000 doctors across the U.S. and is the second-largest constituent body within the AMA.

The resolution passed by a two-thirds vote, which is required for votes that differ from AMA ethical policies, the physicians’ academy said.
 
The resolution called on the medical academy to reject use of the phrases “assisted suicide” or “physician-assisted suicide” in its formal communications and directed the academy’s delegation to the AMA to promote similar action in that association’s governing body.
 
Dr. Michael Munger, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, said his group took a neutral position so it can advocate on the matter at future meetings of the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates. Munger said family physicians are “well-positioned to counsel patients on end-of-life care” and added “we are engaged in creating change in the best interest of our patients.”

The American Medical Association’s code of ethics rejects physician-assisted suicide as “fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer.” Such a practice would be “difficult or impossible to control” and would “pose serious societal risks.”
 
“Instead of engaging in assisted suicide, physicians must aggressively respond to the needs of patients at the end of life,” it adds.
 
Critical of the AAFP’s move was Dr. Barbara Golder, M.D., a board member of the Catholic Medical Association and editor-in-chief of its Linacre Quarterly, who said the move was “very, very disappointing” but should not necessarily be considered a full victory for backers of assisted suicide.
 
“Some people will want to look on this as a great achievement in terms of advancing physician-assisted suicide, and it certainly puts us on a slippery slope, but I think it’s also important to recognize that the AAFP did not endorse it,” Golder told CNA.
 
“That tells me that even within their own organization there’s a great deal of discussion and there’s got to be a fairly significant group of physicians within that group itself that understands the dangers of physician-assisted suicide and how it runs contrary to medicine as practiced.”
 
Backers of assisted suicide, such as the group formerly known as the Hemlock Society, welcomed the change and saw it as grounds for more.
 
“I believe many AMA constituent societies will follow suit, so it is only a matter of time before the AMA does as well,” said Dr. David Grube, national medical director of the pro-assisted suicide group Compassion and Choices and a former delegate within the physicians’ academy.
 
In response, Golder facetiously wondered whether Grube has a crystal ball to see the future.
 
“I don’t know that it’s ‘just a matter of time’,” she said. “Certainly, it’s a worrisome idea that medicine would shift from healing to killing. That’s a fundamental change the likes of which medicine has not encountered, at least in our lifetimes.
 
“When we find medicine going away from healing towards killing, we in the past have been very repulsed by it. Now suddenly we are not,” she added, warning that it is potentially a “tremendous slippery slope.”
 
For Golder, assisted suicide is against natural law and “the Catholic notion that life ought to be respected from conception to natural death.”
 
Golder said opponents of assisted suicide should consider joining medical groups and “being vocal.” She suggested doctors can leverage their patients, because they “have a voice in this as well.”
 
“The whole point of associations like this is to serve doctors and their patients,” she said. For Golder, assisted suicide disrupts the doctor-patient relationship because it means “as well as an agent of healing, the doctor can also be an agent of death.”
 
Advocacy and awareness-raising about good palliative care are also needed “so that physician-assisted suicide doesn’t look like an attractive alternative to people who are alone, in great pain, don’t have anybody to care for them,” added Golder.
 
Dr. Peter T. Morrow, M.D., president of the Catholic Medical Association, said the move ran contrary to “the medical communities’ historical and long-standing opposition against physician-assisted suicide.”
 
“It is in direct violation of the ‘do no harm’ Hippocratic Oath,” Morrow said in an Oct. 17 statement. “We at the CMA are dedicated to preserving life from conception to natural death and will continue to remain staunchly opposed to any form of assisted suicide. It goes against natural law.”
 
The Catholic Medical Association has over 2,300 healthcare professionals in 104 local guilds across the U.S. Several of its members had testified against doctor-assisted suicide at AMA’s last House of Delegates meeting in June.

The AMA has about 240,000 members in the U.S., with membership including medical doctors, doctors of osteopathic medicine, and medical students. Its 2018 interim meeting will be held in National Harbor, Maryland this November.
 
The group’s House of Delegates, meeting in Chicago in June, narrowly voted not to accept a report recommending that they continue their stance of opposing physician assisted suicide. About 56 percent of delegates voted for the report to undergo further review.
 
At the time, Morrow said that decision was “hugely disappointing.”
 
Golder told CNA that the AMA “has so far held the line, saying assisted suicide is not appropriate, and we congratulate them for that.”
 
The seven states of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, plus the District of Columbia, have legalized assisted suicide.
 
Other AAFP resolutions included a failed vote in support of an elective abortion ban from 20 weeks into gestational age. The body passed resolutions opposing “fetal personhood” language. It recommended that medication abortion drug Mifeprex be removed from the Food and Drug Administration’s requirements for Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy. Such restrictions create an unnecessary burden on physicians who want to offer medication abortion, backers of the decision said.
 
The delegates passed a resolution calling on the academy to create educational materials about institutional racism and segregated care within the health care system as a cause of racial disparities in patient outcomes.

With city support, Baltimore parish will issue IDs to undocumented parishioners

Fri, 10/19/2018 - 13:06

Baltimore, Md., Oct 19, 2018 / 11:06 am (CNA).- A Baltimore Catholic parish announced that it will begin issuing parish identification cards, with the goal of making undocumented immigrants and members of other vulnerable populations in the city more comfortable reporting crimes and cooperating with the Baltimore Police Department.

“If this identification helps one person pick up the phone and call the police, it’s done what it’s supposed to do,” Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said during an Oct. 10 press conference announcing the parish initiative.

The cards will be issued by Baltimore’s Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, with the support of Archbishop William Lori and the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Applicants will need to show a form of picture ID, even if it is expired; proof of address; and have their identity confirmed in a sworn statement by a third party.

Each ID card will include a picture of the holder, as well as the parish’s contact information and logo. The parish is waiting for permission from the police department to start issuing the IDs; the city’s interim police commissioner has begun introducing the card to officers and trains them to recognize it.

The parish worked directly with the mayor’s office and the police department to develop a uniform version of the ID.

“It's really a pastoral response," said Father Bruce Lewandowski of Sacred Heart parish, who was one of the main proponents of the program.

"A lot of immigrants and other people in vulnerable communities don't interact with the police because of mistrust, for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes it's fear of racism, sometimes it's fear....that somehow the police are connected with [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], and it’s ‘if I call the police then I'm setting myself up for detention and deportation’ for people who are undocumented."

The Baltimore Police department does not handle immigration directly, which is a federal matter. Rather, the goal of the parish ID program is to better relationships between the community and the police.  

"At our meetings with [interim police commissioner Gary Tuggle], as the commissioners did before him, he assured us that there is no immigration enforcement that is done by the Baltimore city police department, that's not their job,” Father Lewandowski stated.

“Their job is to keep Baltimore citizens safe and fight crime. So in order to help them do that, that's why we're promoting the [parish ID] program."

Interim Baltimore police commissioner Tuggle said he planned to introduce the card to his command staff Oct. 11, and would train the entire department to recognize the card within two weeks.

The parish ID cards will explicitly state that they are not government-issued forms of identification.

Each recipient of the card will go through a two-hour group orientation session of 30-40 people, Father Lewandowski said, to train them on “basic civics” so they understand what the card can and cannot be used for.

“We want people to be very clear about the use of the card,” he said. “"Basically what it means is: if I call 911...I can show them the parish ID that says I'm known in the community, this is my city, I belong here—that the mayor supports me, in a certain sense; that the archbishop supports me; that my parish [supports me].”

Father Lewandowski emphasized that the relationship between some city residents and the Baltimore Police Department is very tense, and the police department has had recent issues with stability; three police commissioners have come and gone in the past 3 years, and the current interim commissioner will not be seeking a permanent position.

To mitigate any potential changes in attitude toward the program when a new police commissioner arrives, Father Lewandowski said that Mayor Catherine Pugh has publicly committed to continue to support the parish ID program under the new police commissioner, whenever he or she begins work. Pugh will be up for re-election in 2020.

Maryland already allows undocumented immigrants to apply for a driver's license or identification card, as does D.C. and 11 other states. Among other requirements, the applicant must show proof of having paid Maryland income tax for two years.

In addition, Baltimore voted to create a program in 2016 that would issue city ID cards to residents, but the program has yet to be rolled out. Father Lewandowski said the makers of the parish ID decided they couldn't wait for the city to act.

He said the parish ID is a both/and solution that will likely supplement the municipal ID in the future, but the parish ID has the added advantage of not requiring applicants to provide personal information to the City of Baltimore.

The first person to call the church ask for a parish ID, Father Lewandowski said, was an 85-year-old parishioner at Sacred Heart, born and raised in Baltimore, who no longer drives, and thus had no current form of ID.

"So the ID really is for everybody," he said. "In our very difficult circumstances here [in Baltimore], this is a way to help people feel safe.”

A broader perspective

Baltimore is not the first city to pilot church-issued ID cards; several Dallas-area churches began issuing ID cards to undocumented immigrants in May. The Texas church IDs include a person’s name, address and home parish.

Texas is one of several states that does not allow illegal immigrants to obtain a state-issued ID, Texas law enforcement officers are permitted, but not required, to inquire about the immigration status of anyone they have detained or arrested, and are required to comply with federal guidelines to hold undocumented criminal suspects for possible deportation.

Dallas law enforcement are prohibited, however, from asking the immigration status of those who are witnesses, victims, or reporters of crimes except in special circumstances. Individuals with a government-issued ID such as a driver’s license are presumed to have lawful immigration status.

Though the Texas IDs, like the ones in Baltimore, lack legal recognition, police in the cities of Dallas, Carrollton and Farmers Branch were reportedly told in May that they are allowed to accept the church cards as a form of identification.

CNA asked Dallas Police Department whether there were any documented cases of the church-issued ID being accepted in lieu of state-issued identification. The police department said that they did not have any such cases on record, and that only identifications allowed by law could be accepted.

A representative from the Farmers Branch Police Department told CNA that their police department could choose to recognize a non-government issued forms of ID in some cases, such as a school ID for minors, if a person simply needs to let the police know who they are. If a person is accused of a crime, however, government issued IDs are typically the only form that are acceptable.

 

 

How diapers impact the bottom line, and how an NYC law can help

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 21:00

New York City, N.Y., Oct 18, 2018 / 07:00 pm (CNA).- The New York City council passed a law Wednesday that will require many centers serving women and children in the city to provide diapers and baby wipes free of charge. The bill had no opposing votes in the council.

The new law covers child care centers, domestic violence shelters, youth shelters, and homeless shelters that are contracted with the city to provide services. Each location must have clear signage or a written notice informing mothers that diapers and wipes are available to them for children three years old and younger.

The provision also includes family justice centers, which provide legal, counseling and supportive services for survivors of domestic violence, elder abuse and sex trafficking; and LYFE centers, an NYC Department of Education program that provides free early childhood education to children of student parents.

In an Oct. 16 committee report, the New York City council laid out the need for the new law, noting that an infant will use over 3,000 diapers in their first year of life at a cost of more than $500.

The report also noted that the Women, Infants, and Children assistance and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program cannot be used to purchase diapers, and that Medicaid will only reimburse diapers purchased for individuals older than 3 years.

Alison Weir, Chief of Policy at the National Diaper Bank Network, testified to the city council that the provision of free diapers to low-income families in Connecticut resulted in a decrease in the spread of disease and in decrease in rashes and other skin irritations among babies.

The New York Daily News reported that the sponsor of the bill estimates that the new provision will cost the city $1.1 million in fiscal year 2019, increasing to nearly $5 million in 2020 because of increasing demand. New York’s total budget for FY2019 is over $88 billion.
 
The law is set to take effect within four months of its passage. The Department of Citywide Administrative Services will provide the supply of diapers and wipes to the appropriate city entities, or to independent organizations contracting with the city.

The Connecticut Diaper Bank, which provides free diapers to women in that state, testified before the city council that: “Access to a reliable supply of clean diapers affects families in significant ways, like enabling parents to maintain employment, complete their education, and improve the health and well-being of their children.”

 

40 percent of U.S. children born to unmarried parents, rate increasing worldwide

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 19:00

Washington D.C., Oct 18, 2018 / 05:00 pm (CNA).- New data shows that an increasing number of babies worldwide are born to unmarried parents.

The data was released in an annual report published by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA.)

About 40 percent of U.S. children born in 2016 had unmarried parents, the report shows. This is more than double the percent of U.S. children born with unmarried parents in 1980, and 10 percentage points higher than in 1990.

In the rest of the world, even more children are born to unmarried parents. In 2016, 60 percent of French babies were born with unmarried parents.

The UN data showed that across the areas studied--the United States, France, Spain, Sweden, the EU, Japan, and Russia, the unwed pregnancy rate has increased or remained relatively stable in recent years. France has had the highest percent of babies born to unmarried parents since 2010, eclipsing Sweden, the previous leader.

One exception to the trend is Russia, which has seen the percent of children born to an unwed mother drop from a high of 30 percent in 2004 to 22 percent in 2016. Russia’s abortion rate has also fallen during this time period.

In 2017, the organization Save the Children rated the Scandinavian countries Sweden, Norway, and Finland, as among the most accommodating for single mothers.

Japan’s unmarried parenthood rate is far lower than western nations. In 2015, 98 percent of Japanese babies were to married parents. Japan’s fertility rate also remains among the lowest in the world.

Heritage Foundation Senior Fellow Robert Rector wrote a report in 2012 that described marriage as “America’s greatest weapon against child poverty.” Children living in a home with two married parents were 82 percent less likely to live in poverty than children who did not have married parents, said Rector. This number applied even when controlling for education level.

In 2009, the U.S. Census found that 37 percent of homes with children headed by a single parent were in poverty, compared to only 6.8 percent of homes with children and married parents.

 

Federal agents investigate abuse in Pennsylvania dioceses

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 17:40

Philadelphia, Pa., Oct 18, 2018 / 03:40 pm (CNA).- The Department of Justice has served subpoenas to several dioceses in the state of Pennsylvania, in what is believed to be a state-wide move by federal authorities to investigate sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy.

Chanceries across the Commonwealth were served with requests for documentation and files Oct. 18.

While Pennsylvania diocesan officials have not commented on the scope of the materials subpoenaed, a senior Church official told CNA the investigation concerns the federal crimes of transporting minors across state lines to abuse them, and the production or distribution of illegal pornography, including electronically.

The files requested of at least one diocese date back only to 2001, the official said.

There has been widespread speculation that a federal investigation might focus on charges related to institutional cover-ups or conspiracy, perhaps seeking to build a case under the federal RICO laws meant for dealing with organized crime. The official told CNA that, at present, the scope of the investigation does not seem to include conspiracy or other institutional charges.

“The files they are asking to be handed over, at least here, are in relation to the possible commission of particular crimes,” he said.

“As its been explained by the agents coming in, it’s those two crimes [transporting minors across state lines and illegal pornography] that are being looked at, maybe that’s got something to do with why they are only looking at files going back to ’01,” the official said.

“Maybe there is more to come, but it looks like they are beginning by looking for actual acts of abuse of minors and not yet on the institutional side of things – at least so far.”

So far, six of the eight the dioceses in the state have confirmed being served by federal agents, these are: Pittsburgh, Allentown, Scranton, Erie, Philadelphia, and Harrisburg.

“The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has received a subpoena issued by a federal grand jury, which requires the production of certain documents. The Archdiocese will cooperate with the United States Department of Justice in this matter,” Ken Gavin, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, told CNA.

Bill Genello, director of communications in the Diocese of Scranton told CNA that “the Diocese of Scranton has received the subpoena and will completely cooperate.”

The federal investigation comes just over two months after the Aug. 14 publication of a Pennsylvania grand jury report investigating clerical sexual abuse. That report identified more than 300 priests accused of abusing 1,000 victims over a period of seventy years.  

The report resulted in charges being filed against only two priests. The federal statutes of limitations that apply to crimes crossing state borders could lead to further indictments.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Washington told CNA that “the archdiocese knows nothing about a Department of Justice proceeding beyond the initial media reports.”

Washington’s recently retired archbishop, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, served as Bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988-2006, and came under fire after the grand jury reported suggested that he had permitted at least one priest accused of sexual abuse to remain in ministry after an accusation had been made.

According to the Washington Post, the decision to open the investigation was made by federal prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office in Philadelphia and was not a directive from Washington, D.C.

State-led investigations into clerical sexual abuse are currently underway in several states including Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, and Missouri. Other states, like New York, have announced they will soon begin taking similar action.

The news of a federal investigation in Pennsylvania raises the possibility that similar probes could also be launched in other states.

 

 

What kind of archbishop is needed in Washington?

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 17:45

Washington D.C., Oct 17, 2018 / 03:45 pm (CNA).- The Archbishop of Washington occupies one of the most prominent posts in the Church in America. But the assignment, usually accompanied by a cardinal’s hat, comes with a tricky job description.
 
Because of his proximity to the federal government, DC’s archbishop often sets the tone, or at least frames the debate, for how other bishops in the country react to political events. Washington’s archbishop often finds himself the first point of reference on very public pastoral questions, like admittance to Communion for pro-abortion politicians, and he is often asked to take a lead role in overtly political events like the annual March for Life.
 
Washington is also one of the more diverse dioceses in the country: pastorally, liturgically, and culturally. It takes a particular skill-set for a bishop to bring together a flock of almost 700,000, which includes the deeply enculturated African-American parishes in the southeast of the city, the affluent parishes of northern parts of the city, large communities of Latin American immigrants, thousands of university students, and the rural communities of southern Maryland.
 
In addition to ordinary parish life, groups and movements like Opus Dei, the Neocatechumenal Way, and Communion and Liberation are all present in the archdiocese, as are numerous adherents to the Extraordinary Form of the liturgy, the so-called “Traditional Latin Mass.” Encouraging, promoting, and supporting those movements, without seeming to favor or disfavor one or another, can be a challenge all its own.

Beyond that, there are six Catholic colleges or universities in the diocese, and a number of seminary programs, as well as a far higher than average number of religious houses.

The Archbishop of Washington also has the USCCB in his backyard, and he is expected to play a senior role in the USCCB’s deliberations, without being seen to undermine or overrule its work on the federal level. That’s a tricky balancing act.
 
Before the scandals of the past few months, one of the most common criticisms of Cardinal Wuerl was that he was something of an episcopal Rorschach test; he could appear to be different things to different people, and seemed often to avoid coming down clearly on one side or another of difficult theological debates.

But, by some estimates, the ability to be all things to all people is a necessary skill for an archbishop in Washington – the line between taking a decisive stand and a divisive one is often very thin, indeed.

In short, the Archbishop of Washington is usually expected to represent a balance- neither to keel very far to the left or to the right, because of the scope of the issues that tend to fall into his lap.  This means he usually faces criticism from the left and the right- and Wuerl, long before the scandals, faced both. But that balance is understood to be a critical part of the job.

Framing an authentically Catholic response to the issues of the day in a way that does not appear either openly partisan or impossibly vague requires a diplomatic skill set not necessarily found, or even needed, in every bishop.
 
If the pope were to name a successor to Wuerl who is perceived to be a committed “progressive” or “conservative, or who has a reputation for a narrow focus on one band of issues, the man might arrive to find a diocese already divided over his appointment.
 
While it would be myopic to assess Cardinal Wuerl’s tenure solely through the lens of the recent scandals, it is also impossible to deny that they have been the immediate cause of his departure, and that they will be the first priority of his replacement.
 
When he announced that he was asking the pope to accept his resignation, Wuerl said that the archdiocese needed to begin to move past the summer’s revelations. Last month, a spokesman for the cardinal told CNA that Wuerl believed “healing from the abuse crisis requires a new beginning and this includes new leadership for the Archdiocese of Washington.”
 
How “new” that “new leadership” is perceived to be could determine how fast healing happens, and how seriously the Vatican is seen to be responding to the situation.
 
Wuerl himself has given some indications of the kind of bishop he hopes will replace him; key among his criteria would seem to be someone unconnected with the current scandals.
 
In an interview with the New York Times published Friday, Wuerl said he was stepping aside “to allow for new leadership that doesn’t have this baggage,” and hoped that his replacement would be someone who became a bishop after the last abuse crises of the early 2000s.
 
Of course, being free from ties to the current scandal will require more than relative youth.
 
It was, arguably, Wuerl’s proximity to his predecessor, Theodore McCarrick, that did as much as anything else to end his tenure. His insistence that he knew nothing of rumors of McCarrick’s alleged misdeeds, or of supposed Vatican attempts to make him keep a lower profile in retirement, left him appearing, at least to some, to be either evasive or negligently incurious, in what became a major crisis of credibility for the American hierarchy.
 
Other bishops, including some touted as possible successors to Wuerl, have similarly had to account for their reactions, or lack of action, when they were first made aware of allegations against McCarrick.

More broadly, McCarrick’s influence helped to elevate a generation of priests and bishops from the east coast dioceses which he led, many of whom have gone on to serve in important positions in the Church hierarchy, both in the United States and in Rome. Should someone seen to be in McCarrick’s line of succession or patronage be appointed to take over in Washington, the credibility gap he would have to cross could prove immediate and unbridgeable.
 
D.C. Catholics – including Cardinal Wuerl – are now hoping for a relatively young bishop, one utterly free from association with either McCarrick or the other scandals currently roiling the Church. He’ll need to be someone of proven governing ability and diplomatic savvy, but with a pastoral heart and an established record of leading like a shepherd and father rather than an administrator.
 
It is a tall order, but not an impossible one to fill.
 
Of course, as the outgoing archbishop and still a member of the Congregation for Bishops in Rome, Wuerl will have had an outsized say in the names submitted for papal consideration.
 
At the same time, Pope Francis has a reputation for picking unexpected candidates for important jobs, and for favoring personal recommendations from people he knows well, rather than relying on officially presented shortlists.
 
How closely Wuerl’s successor aligns with his own stated hopes could speak volumes about how deep Francis’s respect really is for the man he so publicly praised while accepting his resignation. It could also be a strong indication of how seriously Rome is taking a crisis still acutely felt in the American capital.

 

Florida Catholics rally after Hurricane Michael

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 16:30

Pensacola, Fla., Oct 17, 2018 / 02:30 pm (CNA).- Thousands of people lost their homes as Hurricane Michael wrought havoc throughout the United States and Mexico last week. Now, the Catholic community in the Florida Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee is working to rebuild and to help those in need.

 

The hurricane has taken the lives of 46 people and caused an estimated $8 billion in damage. The Florida panhandle was one of the worst hit areas, with more than 20 people believed to have died in the storm.

 

Since Michael made landfall in the area Oct. 10, St. Dominic Catholic Church has served as a staging area for disaster relief in Panama City, Florida. Associate Pastor Luke Farabaugh, himself a native of the area, told the Pensacola News Journal that the church has “become an aid facility,” with “a lot of 18 wheelers” in the parking lot.

 

Despite the amount of supplies available, Farabaugh said that they are short of volunteers to distribute the materials. Pensacola Catholic High School’s football team have been volunteering together with administrators from the school, but many more people are needed.

 

About 50 volunteers are needed each day, said Bambi Provost. Provost is the director of fund development for Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida. She told the local media that the scene in the panhandle was “total devastation” and that “everything was destroyed.”

 

Cris Dosev is one of the people who came to St. Dominic’s to help out. Dosev, who is Catholic, came in third in the Republican congressional primary for Florida’s 1st District in August, but he was able to use the backs of his campaign signs to replace those that were destroyed in the storm.

 

Now, the new sign in front of St. Dominic’s Church is a repurposed Dosev for Congress sign. He also made signs indicating where people can pick up water and supplies, and there are signs with phone numbers people can call for assistance.

 

The Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee has also been able to provide limited lodging for those who are coming to the area to volunteer.

 

Catholic Charities USA, which is a national organization, gave Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida $1 million on Sunday for disaster relief. Provost said “all of it” will be used for the cleanup effort, and that the money will be used to help everyone, regardless of religious belief.

 

On its website, Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida boasts that “We strive to serve as many people as possible,” and that last year, 89 percent of those who received assistance from the organization were not Catholic.

Catholic U. professor leads response to French President’s remark on large families

Tue, 10/16/2018 - 18:30

Washington D.C., Oct 16, 2018 / 04:30 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Following a comment by President Emmanuel Macron, in which he expressed skepticism that any well-educated woman would decide to have many children, women with large families have been using the “#PostcardsForMacron” hashtag to send the French president pictures of their happy families.

Speaking about high fertility rates in Africa during a Gates Foundation “Goalkeepers” event held in New York City Sept. 25-26, Macron compared having a large family with forcing a girl to be married as a child.

Macron stated that when women are educated, they do not have many children.

“I always say: ‘Present me the woman who decided, being perfectly educated, to have seven, eight or nine children,” said Macron.

“Please present me with the young girl who decided to leave school at 10 in order to be married at 12.’”

In response, many women took issue with the French president’s apparent disbelief that academically successful women would choose to be mothers of several children.

Dr. Catherine R. Pakaluk, a professor of social research and economics at the Catholic University of America, started the hashtag by sharing a photo of herself and six of her eight children.

Postcards for Macron #postcardsforMacron pic.twitter.com/fmX1vzITpv

— Catherine R Pakaluk (@CRPakaluk) October 16, 2018 She followed up that tweet explaining that she holds both a Master’s degree and a Ph.D. from Harvard University and has, as she phrased it, “Eight children by choice.”

Her post garnered thousands of views, and other women followed her lead, including Beth Hockel, a “Stanford graduate, electrical engineer, mom of 11.”  

Stanford graduate, electrical engineer, mom of 11.  #postcardsforMacron pic.twitter.com/Gl1Py63j7v

— Beth Hockel (@ehockel1) October 16, 2018 Catholic writer Elizabeth Foss shared a picture of her nine children, saying “Yes, they’re all mine. And so is my (University of Virginia) degree.”

Yes, they’re all mine. And so is my UVa degree. #postcardsforMacron pic.twitter.com/dROzkKq1md

— elizabeth foss (@elizabethfoss) October 16, 2018 Men joined in as well, sharing pictures of their wives and their own mothers.

“Check out my educated and inspiring wife and mom of 7,” tweeted writer Josh Canning, along with a picture of his family.  

#DearEmmanuelMacron check out my educated and inspiring wife and mom of 7. #postcardsforMacron pic.twitter.com/Ucp5eizIMa

— Josh Canning (@CatholicJosh) October 16, 2018 Several people pointed out that philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe was a mother of seven, and yet still taught at Oxford and Cambridge.

Dear @EmmanuelMacron This is the Oxford and Cambridge philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe. She is widely considered one of the greatest 20th century philosophers. She had seven children. #PostcardsforMacron pic.twitter.com/slZZptPsGv

— Samuel Gregg (@DrSamuelGregg) October 16, 2018 While Macron made the remarks at the end of September, his comments on family size gained media traction on Monday, following a report in the Guardian newspaper.

Macron himself does not have any children, but his wife has three children from her first marriage.

The Macrons met when the future French president was 15 years old, his future wife Brigitte Trogneux was his teacher.

Saginaw bishop dies after battle with lung cancer

Tue, 10/16/2018 - 13:37

Saginaw, Mich., Oct 16, 2018 / 11:37 am (CNA).- Bishop Joseph Cistone died in his home Tuesday morning, the Diocese of Saginaw has reported.

Local officials told reporters they received a 911 call from the bishop’s home Tuesday morning, adding that first-responders found the bishop dead upon their arrival. The diocese said in a short statement that the bishop had died in his home during the night.

Cistone, 69, announced Feb. 1 that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer, after undergoing tests for a persistent cough he’d experienced for months.

“The good news is that, since I have never been a smoker, it is a form of lung cancer which is treatable and potentially curable,” Cistone wrote in a February letter to his priests.

He announced at that time that he would undergo a treatment plan involving both chemotherapy and radiation. On Oct. 1 the diocese announced that the cancer had spread to other parts of Cistone's body, and that he had begun an aggressive course of chemotherapy.

Diocesan officials said that the bishop was scheduled to undergo a cancer-related medical procedure today.

Cistone was the sixth bishop of the Saginaw diocese, and was appointed there in 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI. Originally from Pennsylvania, Cistone was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1975, where he also served as auxiliary bishop from 2004-2009.

In March Cistone’s home was raided by police, along with the diocesan chancery and cathedral rectory. Saginaw County’s assistant prosecutor at the time criticized the diocese for failing to cooperate in police investigations.

Police said the raid was executing a search warrant believed to be related to allegations of sexual abuse made against two priests of the diocese. One of those priests, Fr. Robert DeLand, will face a criminal trial next year.

The diocese said Oct. 16 that information about Cistone’s funeral will be released as soon as is possible.

 

Pages