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The story of St. Anthony of Padua’s only approved apparition

Shrine of St. Anthony, Radecznica, Poland / EWTN News Nightly

Washington D.C., Jun 14, 2021 / 13:59 pm (CNA).

Catholics may know St. Anthony of Padua as a Franciscan friar, a Doctor of the Church, and the patron saint of lost items - but only one person has ever seen St. Anthony in an approved apparition. 

In 1664, Szymon the weaver - hailing from the little Polish village Radecznica - encountered St. Anthony in an apparition. Among other things, the saint requested the building of a nearby shrine. More than three centuries later, that miraculous shrine still exists, and on St. Anthony’s feast day – June 13 – pilgrims celebrate with a Eucharistic procession.

Although he was born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1195, St. Anthony moved to Padua, Italy, after joining the Franciscan order. Yet his apparition occurred in a third country, Poland. Fr. Teofil Czarniak, provincial minister of the Order of Friars Minor, called the saint’s apparition a “special event.”

Szymon “had a vision of St. Anthony and St. Anthony gave him some messages,” Fr. Czarniak told EWTN News Nightly on June 11. “One of them was the request of constructing a shrine on [a] nearby hill.”

As a result, he added, “one of the promises of St. Anthony was that whoever comes to this place – because he appeared near the water source – whoever will clean his wounds or drink this water with the faith will be given the graces.”

News of the vision spread across Poland and soon builders constructed the Shrine of St. Anthony next to the nearby lake. 

The shrine later captured the Vatican’s attention. In 2015, Pope Francis named it a minor basilica.

“It was the first confirmed apparition of St. Anthony in the world,” Fr. Teofil Czarniak said. “At the moment, today, you can see [the] beautiful shrine” adorned with a picture of St. Anthony, he said. The shrine is filled with colorful religious art and gilded in gold. 

When pilgrims visit the beautiful church, they receive graces “through the intercessions of St. Anthony,” he added. They gather in a special way on the saint’s feast day, when the faithful participate in a Eucharistic procession with a statue of St. Anthony. 

“We invite every pilgrim, everyone who needs help from God through the intercession of St. Anthony – who is a big, big saint in heaven – to come and visit,” Fr. Czarniak concluded. “To come and pray. To come and become one of the pilgrims in this holy place.”

Louisiana poised to create window for sex abuse lawsuits

Louisiana state capitol / Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jun 14, 2021 / 11:20 am (CNA).

The Louisiana state legislature last week passed a bill allowing for new lawsuits in old cases of child sex abuse where the statute of limitations had already expired.

An amended version of the bill, House Bill 492, passed the state house on Thursday with 102 votes in favor, none against, and three abstentions. On Friday it was sent to Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) for signature.

The legislation creates a three-year period during which survivors of child sex abuse can file lawsuits against their alleged abuser, even when the statute of limitations would normally impede such lawsuits.

The Archdiocese of New Orleans announced in May 2020 that it was filing for bankruptcy. Thus, for survivors who filed claims against the archdiocese in bankruptcy courts by the March 1 deadline, they would not be able to sue in state courts. Survivors could still sue their alleged abusers who operated in religious orders or lay ministries, the New Orleans Advocate reported. The normal statute of limitations for lawsuits in child sex abuse cases is before the victim’s 28th birthday, the Advocate reported.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jason Hughes (D), spoke on the state house floor on Thursday, noting that his bill aims “to give some sense of justice and closure to children that have been malicious and heinously robbed of their innocence. Period.”

“They were robbed of their voice. I did not seek this bill; in many ways, it sought me. Members, all I am seeking is to give the voiceless some sense of justice. Some sense of closure,” Hughes stated.

The Advocate reported in March that the New Orleans archdiocese faces around 400 abuse claims in bankruptcy court.

Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans had cited the cost of sex abuse lawsuits as a significant factor in last year’s declaration of bankruptcy.

“The prospect of more abuse cases with associated prolonged and costly litigation, together with pressing ministerial needs and budget challenges, is simply not financially sustainable,” he said. “Additionally, the unforeseen circumstances surrounding COVID-19 have added more financial hardships to an already difficult situation.”

In late 2018, the archdiocese released a list of priests who had been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors. The archdiocese said in 2020 that it had allotted more than $8 million for payment of abuse claims.

The archdiocese told CNA in October that it had been seeking to laicize priests who had been removed from ministry over accusations of child sex abuse, in the wake of the 2018 report. Under canon law, dioceses are obligated to provide for the needs of priests removed from ministry, such as for housing and health care. They are not obliged to provide for the needs of priests who have been laicized.

Parents lose three children to tragic accident: ‘If Jesus can forgive me, I can forgive’

Danny and Leila Abdallah / EWTN News In Depth

Washington D.C., Jun 13, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

It was a hot summer day when Danny and Leila Abdallah found out that three of their children had perished in a car accident. 

The proud parents of six, Danny and Leila never imagined that the last time they would speak with three of their children was when they gave them permission to walk down a footpath in Sydney, Australia, for ice cream. Minutes later, a car hit their children - ages nine, 12, and 13 - and their lives changed forever. 

While the Abdallahs live in Australia, Danny and Leila first met in Lebanon, they told EWTN News In Depth on June 4. From the beginning, they were attracted to each other’s faith. 

Danny’s “first question to me was, ‘Do you pray?’ And that was my sign from God,” said Leila, who was raised in a strong Catholic family.

Likewise, Danny valued Leila’s faith. “I always say the biggest decision you make in your life is who you marry, and I know that a woman that loves and fears God will be with you in your darkest hour,” he said.

They married, and later welcomed six beautiful children: Antony, Angelina, Liana, Sienna, Alex, and Michael.

“We loved every minute, every second even when we were tired and exhausted we still – we love them so much,” Danny said. “I used to say to myself my day begins when I get home.”

But a terrible tragedy shook their family last year, in February 2020. The family was celebrating a birthday when the parents let their kids walk down the street to buy some ice cream.

“I heard my sister saying to Danny, ‘Are you sure it's okay for them to walk?’” Leila remembered. “Then he goes, ‘Yeah, they're only walking on the footpath, what's gonna happen?” 

A few minutes later, something unthinkable did happen. Danny and Leila received a phone call about an accident, and rushed to check on their children.

“What we saw was beyond our comprehension,” Danny remembered when he arrived at the scene. “When I saw them, I realized I had to surrender to God.”

Leila compared it to a “war zone.”  

“I started praying when everyone around me was screaming,” she said. “My immediate response, I'm like, ‘Why would God do that to us? No, He can't take our kids. He wouldn’t do that to us.’”

They later found out more about the tragic accident. A 30-year-old under the influence of alcohol, cocaine, and other drugs lost control of his car. He drove over the sidewalk at a high speed and hit their children.

“Sometimes you see those movies where your body comes out and you look back into the, over like a top view, of what's happening. That's how it felt,” Danny described. “I was in shock and then I just started to fix what I could.”

He grabbed Liana who was conscious, he said. Still, “I felt in my heart that I'd lost my kids that day.”

Arriving at the hospital, four priests met with Danny and Leila and broke the news to them: 13-year-old Antony, Angelina (12), Sienna (9), and their niece, Veronique (11), did not survive.

“I was screaming, I'm like no, no, they didn't die,” Leila recalled.

Despite their tremendous suffering and pain, the Abdallahs did not hate the driver, who was sentenced to 21 years in prison.

“I feel sorry for him,” Danny said. “I pray for him. The devil used him as a puppet.”

In a move that shocked the news media, Leila publicly forgave him.

“Forgiveness is something you practice, is something you practice all your life. Then eventually you can forgive on a bigger scale,” she explained. “And you forgive not because the others deserve to be forgiven. It's because you deserve to be at peace.”

Her faith, she said, inspired her.

 “If Jesus can forgive me, then of course I can forgive the driver,” she stressed. “If He died on the cross for me, then of course I can pray for that driver. Our Christianity, our faith got me to forgive him.”

She offered a special message to viewers of EWTN News In Depth

“Remember that if Jesus carried his cross, we are meant to carry our cross and follow Him,” the mother concluded. “And on this earth while we're living, enjoy every moment, hug your family tight, kiss your kids, don't take anything for granted, because anything can change in the blink of an eye.”

Eucharistic coherence and the USCCB spring meeting: Five questions you need answered

A priest distributes Holy Communion. / Noah Seelam/AFP via Getty Images

Denver Newsroom, Jun 11, 2021 / 22:00 pm (CNA).

Where did the term eucharistic coherence originate?

The term eucharistic coherence originated in the final document of the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, held in Aparecida, Brazil, in 2007. Then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, a principal draftee, lauded the document and Pope Benedict XVI authorized the final text praising the “wealth of reflections in the light of the faith and the contemporary social context.”

This is the full paragraph:

“We hope that legislators, heads of government, and health professionals, conscious of the dignity of human life and of the rootedness of the family in our peoples, will defend and protect it from the abominable crimes of abortion and euthanasia; that is their responsibility. Hence, in response to government laws and provisions that are unjust in the light of faith and reason, conscientious objection should be encouraged. We must adhere to ‘eucharistic coherence,’ that is, be conscious that they cannot receive holy communion and at the same time act with deeds or words against the commandments, particularly when abortion, euthanasia, and other grave crimes against life and family are encouraged. This responsibility weighs particularly over legislators, heads of governments, and health professionals.”

Why is eucharistic coherence linked so closely to abortion and euthanasia?

The theology of eucharistic coherence builds upon the teachings of the Church contained in the encyclical Evangelium Vitae and the post-synodal exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis. U.S. bishops referencing the term are thus using a term squarely coined by reflection upon magisterial teaching.

Evangelium Vitae, footnoted in Aparecida document paragraph 436, highlights the gravity of abortion and euthanasia, the clear need to oppose all laws that claim to legitimize them, and the prohibition against formal cooperation with this evil, while Sacramentum Caritatis more specifically explores the ramifications of living these teachings on reception of the eucharist

According to Benedict XVI, eucharistic consistency, a term coined in Sacramentum Caritatis, recognizes the “objective connection” between the Eucharist and the fundamental values a Catholic must hold to in personal and public life, including “respect for human life, its defense from conception to natural death, the family built upon marriage between a man and a woman, the freedom to educate one's children and the promotion of the common good in all its forms.”

Why is eucharistic coherence linked with Catholic politicians in particular?

Published just three months before the Aparecida document, Sacramentum Caritatis reflects the development of the thought of Pope Benedict XVI. As head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he wrote a memorandum to the U.S. bishops in 2004 in response to debate concerning Democratic presidential candidate and abortion proponent John Kerry presenting himself for reception of holy communion.

Among the principles included in the memorandum are whether a Catholic is in full communion with the Church, guilty of grave sin or under penalty of excommunication or interdict, and whether the person fasted for one hour. 

The memorandum also detailed that when cooperation with abortion and euthanasia becomes manifest—“understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws”—the pastor should deny Holy Communion if the politician does not repent after a private meeting instructing the person on the Church’s teaching. This follows the prescription outlined in Canon Law by Canon 915.

Sacramentum Caritatis further develops the duties of Catholics in public life to affirm fundamental, non-negotiable values, preventing them from divorcing personal beliefs from public duties and reminding them of “their grave responsibility before society.”

The Aparecida document likewise references the duties of legislators and heads of governments with regard to life issues, namely, to oppose the “abominable crimes of abortion and euthanasia” or recognize that they cannot receive holy communion.

Why do medical professionals have special responsibility to live eucharistic coherence?

The Aparecida document makes clear that defense of human life and eucharistic coherence is not limited to government officials; rather, it is the special duty of every baptized doctor, nurse, and healthcare worker to uphold the dignity of life or refrain from receiving the eucharist.

“’Causing death’ can never be considered a form of medical treatment, even when the intention is solely to comply with the patient's request,” wrote John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae. “Rather, it runs completely counter to the health-care profession, which is meant to be an impassioned and unflinching affirmation of life.” John Paul II called on health care professionals to exercise conscientious objection rather than participate in the evils of abortion and euthanasia.

In a speech to the Pontifical Academy for Life Benedict XVI reaffirmed that “every human community and the political community itself are founded” on the right to life.  Accordingly, professionals, doctors, and lawyers must engage in “courageous objection of conscience” to the evils threatening the right to life.

Why is eucharistic coherence connected to the USCCB spring 2021 meeting next week?

In 2004, Joseph Ratzinger penned a memo to the USCCB while the U.S. bishops were embroiled in the Kerry communion debate. The discussion soon broadened to  pro-choice politicians in general. In 2006, as a response to these questions and the implications for all Catholics, the USCCB published a document on preparation to receive the Eucharist worthily.

A crisis of faith in the belief in the Eucharist among Catholics writ large revealed itself in intervening years. In 2019, a Pew Research report confirmed that only 31% of Catholics believed in the doctrine of the real presence of the Eucharist. The urgency of the question about worthy reception of the Eucharist resurfaced as prominent Catholic and abortion supporter Joe Biden, a Democrat, began his own presidential run.

A working group on eucharistic coherence formed in November 2020 to deal with the question of scandal posed by such a prominent public figure receiving holy communion. The group, headed by USCCB vice president Archbishop Allen Vigneron, proposed the creation of a document on the Eucharist--a document aimed at all Catholics and not specifically at one politician. 

In recent months the use of the term eucharistic coherence exploded, and bishops across the country are defending the long-standing church teaching behind the term and its implications for politicians and medical professionals, as well as the general Catholic population, based on an understanding of the fundamental nature of the right to life.

The current head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, also affirmed the need for eucharistic coherence in a letter to U.S. Bishops, widely mischaracterized as asking for a pause in the normal USCCB procedures.

The bishops will discuss an outline of a draft document on the eucharist elaborated by the Committee of Doctrine during their June 2021 spring meeting next week. The meeting will be held virtually June 16-18, 2021.

New Supreme Knight urges members to be 'Knights of the Eucharist'

Patrick Kelly (right) installed as Supreme Knight by Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore (left) / Knights of Columbus

New Haven, Conn., Jun 11, 2021 / 18:08 pm (CNA).

The new Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, Patrick Kelly, emphasized reverence for the Eucharist at his installation on Friday at St. Mary’s parish in New Haven, Connecticut.

In consecrating his administration of the Knights of Columbus to St. Joseph, Kelly pointed to the saint as the protector of Jesus – and called on Knights to do the same in reverencing and protecting the Eucharist.

“The example of St. Joseph teaches us how to be Knights of the Eucharist. He was the guardian of the first tabernacle — beginning with Mary herself when she bore Christ in her womb, and then in the home where he and Mary lived with Jesus,” Kelly said at his installation address on Friday.

“As Knights, we too are called to have a special reverence for Christ’s real presence,” he said. “The more we dedicate ourselves to Christ in the Eucharist, the more we will be a sign of unity in an age of division and disbelief.”

For the first time in 20 years, the Knights of Columbus on Friday installed a new Supreme Knight, Kelly, who previously served as Deputy Supreme Knight. The Knights of Columbus is one of the world’s leading fraternal and service organizations, with two million members worldwide in more than 16,000 parish-based councils.

Kelly’s installation took place at a Knights’ meeting of state deputies on Friday, attended by leaders of the Knights from every U.S. state and from around the world.

Elected to the position of Supreme Knight in March, Kelly and other elected Knight officials were formally delegated their positions on June 11. 

The ceremony began with Mass, celebrated by Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, the Supreme Chaplain of the Knights. 

Lori drew connections between the significance of the installation Mass occurring both in the year of St. Joseph and on the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 

Earlier in the day, Archbishop Lori called on the Knights to lead the way on the bishops’ proposed Eucharistic Revival project, promoting devotion to the Eucharist in their communities.

He said that “it is incumbent upon us as Knights of Columbus, upon you as lay leaders in the Church, not only to support this effort but also to be in the forefront of advancing it, especially by bearing witness to the centrality of the Eucharist in your own life and in the life of your family, and in the life of the Church."

In Kelly’s address, which took place at the conclusion of the Mass, he began by honoring the work of previous Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, who “consecrated his administration and the entire Order to Our Lady of Guadalupe.”

In similar fashion, Kelly consecrated his new administration to St. Joseph. He said it was a “special honor” to take office during the Year of St. Joseph.

Keeping with the theme of Saint Joseph, Kelly focused on two of the saint’s roles, first as “guardian of the family” and also as the “guardian of the truth.”         

The dual roles “both align with the vision of our founder and provide a model for how we as Knights must witness to the world,” he said.                                                                                                     

Kelly highlighted St. Joseph’s humility and obedience in his fatherly sacrifice and service to his family. Quoting Pope Francis’ apostolic letter on St. Joseph, Patris Corde, he noted the saint’s “creative courage,” referencing the “unexpected challenges” he faced in his life.                                         

Kelly connected St. Joseph’s challenges to those faced in modern times. 

“Catholic families are struggling to live out their faith and raise their children amid a culture that is increasingly hostile to our beliefs,” he said. “Catholic husbands and fathers, especially fathers of young children, need the encouragement and support of the Knights of Columbus.”

Kelly assured the Knights that they can inspire fathers with the courage to nourish their families in the faith. 

“They need our witness and example to guide them in embracing their vocation to heroic generosity and self-sacrifice, for the good of their wives and children,” he said. “So let us, like St. Joseph, embrace our role as guardians of the family.”

Speaking about St. Joseph as the “guardian of truth,” Kelly acknowledged “the truth that Joseph protected had a name: Jesus Christ, who is the truth incarnate.” 

Kelly proclaimed that the Knights must also serve Jesus as the truth. Noting the difficulty of serving the truth in the modern era, Kelly called the present a “time of bigotry and intolerance.”

“Key truths — truths about marriage, about life in the womb, about the nature of the family and the meaning of freedom — are often denied and even vilified,” he said. “Yet, this makes our commitment to truth all the more important.” 

Kelly said the Knights will continue to be a sign of unity by standing for the truth. Referencing the Second Vatican Council, Kelly said that the truth is grounded in the Eucharist.

“We know that Jesus Christ is really, truly present — body, blood, soul and divinity — in the Blessed Sacrament. Committed to our principle of unity, let us strive to serve Christ in the Eucharist,” Kelly said. 

He said the Knights are called to have a special reverence for the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.                              

Kelly concluded by asking for the intercession of Blessed Michael McGivney, the founder of the Knights who was beatified last fall and whose tomb was in the back of the church. He also asked for the intercession of St. Joseph so that the Knights may have the courage to lead in these “challenging times.”                                            

Following Kelly’s address, Archbishop Lori blessed the medals of the supreme officers who were installed. New Deputy Supreme Knight Paul G. O’Sullivan and new Supreme Secretary Patrick T. Mason were also installed on Friday.

17 supreme directors and 56 state deputies were also installed at the celebrations. Following the installations, the archbishop led the new officers to McGivney’s tomb in the back of the church and prayed for his canonization. 

This article was updated on June 11 with new information.

Survey shows more Americans believe abortion is ‘morally acceptable’ than ‘morally wrong’

Unsplash

Washington D.C., Jun 11, 2021 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

A new Gallup poll reveals, for the first time in two decades of surveys, more Americans believe abortion “morally acceptable” than “morally wrong.” 

According to a Gallup poll published on Thursday, 47% of people surveyed found abortion to be “morally acceptable,” the highest tally since the poll began in 2001. Conversely, 46% of those surveyed said that they believed abortion to be “morally wrong.” 

The survey was conducted from May 3-18. A total of 1,016 adults were randomly surveyed, and Gallup estimates the margin of error to be plus or minus four percentage points.

Last year, the Gallup survey numbers on abortion were nearly flipped: 47% of respondents said that they believed abortion to be “morally wrong,” and 44% said it was “morally acceptable.” 

The 2021 poll also marks the first time that more people surveyed found abortion to be morally acceptable than those who said it was “morally wrong.” In 2015, an equal percentage of Americans took each position. The following year, in 2016, 49% of people surveyed said they viewed abortion as morally wrong, and only 43% said they viewed it as morally acceptable.

Gallup found that political identification was correlated with a person’s view on the morality of abortion. Only 26% of surveyed Republicans said they viewed abortion as morally acceptable; meanwhile, 51% of independents and 64% of Democrats said it was acceptable.

The poll also asked respondents if they considered themselves to be “pro-life” or “pro-choice.” Gallup found that 49% identified as “pro-choice,” and 47% as “pro-life.” 

Among Republicans, 74% said they were “pro-life,” wheras 70% of Democrats were “pro-choice.” Gallup also found that those who identified as “conservative” were more likely to label themselves as pro-life, and that college graduates were likely to label themselves as “pro-choice.” 

More than one out of four Democrats (26%) identifies as “pro-life,” despite the 2020 party platform which called for abortion-on-demand throughout the entirety of a pregnancy and supported taxpayer-funded abortion. Over 100 politicians called on the party to adjust the platform. 

While the poll found that more Americans found abortion to be morally acceptable than morally wrong, the poll also found that most Americans support restrictions on abortion. 

Per the poll, fewer than one-third of American adults believed that abortion should be legal under “any circumstances.” A total of 65% of those surveyed supported at least some restrictions on abortion; a plurality of those, 33%, said they believed abortion should be “legal in only a few” circumstances.

Younger people surveyed were more likely to trend to either extreme of the abortion position. The poll found that 41% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 believed that abortion should be “legal in any” circumstance, the highest of the three age groups. However, 20% of the same age group said they believed abortion should not be legal in any cirucumstance, the same as percentage as people aged 55 or older.

Archbishop Lori: Knights of Columbus must be at the forefront of Eucharistic renewal

Archbishop William Lori, Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus. / Knights of Columbus

Washington D.C., Jun 11, 2021 / 16:03 pm (CNA).

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus, called on the Knights not only to “support” but also to “be in the forefront” of a national Eucharistic Revival project to be presented to the U.S. bishops next week.

At his address during the Knights of Columbus state deputies meeting in New Haven, Connecticut on Friday, Archbishop Lori previewed a proposed three-year Eucharistic Revival project of the U.S. bishops which would launch in 2022.

Lori said the project would take place at “the parish, diocesan, and national level to help all those whom we serve to recover, to reclaim, and to recoup their faith in the Eucharistic Lord and their resolve to participate in Holy Mass without fail every Sunday." 

The bishops’ proposal also includes a national Eucharistic Congress in 2024, to be attended by 100,000 Catholics who would then act as Eucharistic missionaries.

“Bishops in other countries have undertaken similar efforts,” added the Supreme Chaplain. He called on the Knights present to lead the effort in their communities.

“It is incumbent upon us as Knights of Columbus, upon you as lay leaders in the Church, not only to support this effort but also to be in the forefront of advancing it, especially by bearing witness to the centrality of the Eucharist in your own life and in the life of your family, and in the life of the Church,” Lori said.

"Surely," said Archbishop Lori, "we could do nothing that would please Blessed Michael McGivney more than this!" Blessed Michael McGivney, the organization’s founder, was beatified last fall at the cathedral in Hartford, Connecticut.

The Knights of Columbus is the world's largest fraternal organization. Leaders from every U.S. state and around the world attended Friday’s meeting in New Haven, the site of the organization’s founding. It was the Knights’ first national in-person meeting since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

In addition to the joint installation of Supreme Knight Kelly and all attending state deputies - a first for the Knights - the meeting also included the installation of new Deputy Supreme Knight Paul G. O’Sullivan. In another historic first for the Knights, Patrick T. Mason, a member of the Osage Nation, was installed as the first Native American supreme secretary of the Knights.

“In the meantime, let us as leaders of the Knights of Columbus unite heart and soul around the Eucharistic Lord, around the sacrament of our charity, unity, and fraternity, just as we have taught to do by our Blessed Founder for whose canonization we pray more earnestly than ever!” Archbishop Lori said in closing.

Texas supreme court rejects defamation lawsuit against Lubbock diocese

Cathedral of Christ the King, Lubbock, Texas / Diocese of Lubbock (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Washington D.C., Jun 11, 2021 / 15:04 pm (CNA).

The Texas supreme court on Friday rejected a defamation lawsuit against the Lubbock diocese, filed by a former deacon who disputed the diocese listing him as “credibly accused” of abuse of a minor.

In an 8-1 decision, the Texas supreme court ruled that the First Amendment shields the internal management decisions of churches from secular courts and governments.

“The ecclesiastical abstention doctrine prohibits civil courts from delving into matters of ‘theological controversy, church discipline, ecclesiastical government, or the conformity of the members of the church to the standard of morals required of them,’” the court’s majority decision stated.

“The doctrine is grounded in the First Amendment, which protects the right of religious institutions ‘to decide for themselves, free from state interference, matters of church government as well as those of faith and doctrine,’” the court ruled.

Becket, the legal group representing the diocese, applauded the ruling, arguing that dioceses must be free to implement their norms and policies on protection of children – which include investigating clergy and publishing names of clergy credibly accused of the abuse of children.

“The Church carries its mission well beyond its four walls,” said William Haun, counsel at Becket. “Religious organizations do not surrender their freedom to govern themselves just because they speak in public on matters affecting their faith, clergy, and moral witness,” he said.

“Any other decision would have amounted to punishing the Church for doing the right thing by its members,” he said.

On Friday, the court said that the diocese’s decision to list Guerrero was an internal church matter.

“That is, the deacon’s claims relating to the Diocese’s publication and communication of the results of its investigation cannot be severed from its policy to investigate its clergy in the first place,” the court stated.

“A civil court, though, is prohibited from determining whether a church properly applied its own principles and policies, and from interfering with internal management decisions that are central to its mission, such as investigating the conduct and character of its clergy,” the court stated.

In January 2019, the Diocese of Lubbock released its list of clergy credibly accused of the abuse of children. The list included the name of former deacon Jesus Guerrero, saying he had been credibly accused of the “sexual abuse of a minor” and was permanently removed from ministry in 2008.

Guerrero sued the diocese, claiming libel and defamation against him, and argued that he suffered a stroke brought on by the stress and anxiety of appearing on the list of accused clergy.

A lower state court ruled against the diocese, and a state appeals court declined to overturn that ruling, arguing that as the diocese had published the names of those accused, it was a public matter and not strictly an ecclesiastical issue – and was thus subject to court review.

The state supreme court agreed to consider the diocese’s appeal in June 2020.

Guerrero’s attorney said that his accuser was in her 40s and had not claimed abuse by Guerrero, according to United Press International.

In April 2019, after the lawsuit was filed, the Lubbock diocese issued a statement of clarification that Guerrero was not accused of abusing anyone under the age of 18; the diocese said that his alleged accuser was a vulnerable adult who “habitually lacks the use of reason,” and thus would be considered a minor under canon law.

According to canon 99 of the Code of Canon Law, “Whoever habitually lacks the use of reason is considered not responsible for oneself (non sui compos) and is equated with infants.”

Guerrero’s attorney disputed whether the woman was a “vulnerable adult” at the time of the abuse.

“The Diocese of Lubbock has concluded there is a credible allegation against Jesus Guerrero of sexual abuse of a person who habitually lacks the use of reason,” the diocese stated in April 2019.

The diocese explained that it considered an accusation “credible” when, “after review of reasonably available, relevant information in consultation with the Diocesan Review Board or other professionals, there is reason to believe is true.”

Guerrero’s attorney said that he did not dispute the Church’s authority to warn the faithful about abusers, but rather disputed the diocese’s claim that he was “credibly accused.”

“Churches have never enjoyed complete immunity,” Guerrero’s attorney Nick Olguin said, as reported by Courthouse News Service in January 2021 when the diocese asked the supreme court to toss out the case.

“Basically, what the diocese wants to do is play the game, make the rules and never be called on a foul,” he said.

Activists claim US bishops will vote to deny Biden Communion. Here's what their meeting will actually address.

USCCB fall 2019 general assembly / Christine Rousselle/CNA

Washington D.C., Jun 11, 2021 / 13:15 pm (CNA).

While some activists claim that the U.S. bishops will be voting next week on denying Communion to President Joe Biden, the bishops will be considering a number of items at their annual spring meeting – none which specifically concern Biden.

The online activist group Faithful America – which has previously targeted bishops on issues of religious freedom and same-sex marriage – recently released a statement calling on the bishops to not vote “on whether Joe Biden and other pro-choice lawmakers are fit to receive Holy Communion.”

They called the vote a “right-wing hit job,” even though the bishops will not be voting on any such proposal at their upcoming spring meeting.

A second petition circulated by the group thanked bishops who called for a planned discussion on the Eucharist to be delayed.

The bishops will deliberate on a number of other action items next week when they meet virtually from June 16-18. They will vote on whether to begin drafting a teaching document on the Eucharist, but there is “nothing in the works” on a specific discussion of Biden and Communion, a source close to the conference told CNA on April 29.

A proposed outline of the Eucharistic document includes a comprehensive treatment of the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist. It not only mentions general worthiness to receive Communion, but also includes sections on the Eucharist as “sacrifice,” recovering Sunday as a holy day, belief in the Real Presence, and the importance of the works of mercy.

At the meeting, which will take place online, both the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, and the conference president, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, will deliver addresses to the bishops.

The bishops will deliberate and vote on nine action items, including on two causes for canonization, approval of liturgical translations, a statement on Native American ministry, and pastoral frameworks for marriage and family life ministry and for youth and young adults.

The conference will consider not only a teaching document on the Eucharist, but will hear a presentation on a potentially far more significant undertaking – a three-year Eucharistic Revival initiative. Bishop Andrew Cozzens, chair of the evangelization committee, will make the presentation.

The committee is proposing that the initiative begin next summer.

“Perceiving a call of the Holy Spirit for this revival from our consultation, we propose a three-year national movement of Eucharistic Revival, beginning in the summer of 2022,” the committee stated in its proposal. A National Eucharistic Congress is proposed 2024, with the goal of “forming and sending more than 100,000 missionaries of the Eucharist into dioceses and parishes across our country.” The proposal calls for Eucharistic movements at the parish and diocesan levels.

The bishops will also vote to approve two causes for canonization.

One of the causes is for Lt. Father J. Verbis Lafleur, a priest of the Diocese of Lafayette in Louisiana who volunteered as a military chaplain during World War II. He was a prisoner of war in a Japanese camp, and eventually gave his life saving fellow servicemembers on a Japanese ship that was torpedoed off the coast of the Philippines.

The second cause is for U.S. Merchant Marine Capt. Leonard LaRue, opened by the Diocese of Paterson in New Jersey. LaRue captained a ship that in 1950 saved more than 14,000 Korean refugees at Hungnam, who were fleeing the invading Chinese army at the beginning of the Korean War. The rescue was known as the “Christmas miracle,” the diocese said.

During their meeting, the bishops will hear a report from the National Review Board – which advises the conference on child and youth protection.

The review board has made some notable requests of bishops in recent years, in light of the 2018 revelations about former cardinal Theodore McCarrick. In June 2019 the board urged the bishops to push for the release of the Vatican’s McCarrick report; in November 2020, the board advised bishops to make changes to the abuse auditing process and weigh the effectiveness of abuse prevention programs.

Other action items include approval of a pastoral framework for marriage ministry, “Called to the Joy of Love,” as well as a statement on Native American ministry.

CNA’s award-winning podcast celebrates 100 episodes

Forest Run/Shutterstock.

Denver Newsroom, Jun 11, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

Catholic News Agency’s award-winning flagship podcast CNA Newsroom is returning to weekly publication, in celebration of its 100th episode.

CNA Newsroom is a storytelling podcast, anchored by the latest Catholic news. Episodes have featured the voices of countless bishops, Catholic experts, and laity living out the Gospel in their everyday lives.

“I’m very proud of the stories we share on CNA Newsroom,” said Alejandro Bermudez, Catholic News Agency’s executive director.

“The podcast provides a crucial platform for CNA’s continued mission of evangelization, and will continue to do so for years to come.”

CNA Newsroom took home the prize for Best Podcast at the 2020 Catholic Press Association Awards. At the 2021 awards, the podcast won first place for Best Podcast -- Expression of Faith.

“As far as I know, this is still the only podcast of its kind available,” said Jonah McKeown, co-producer and host of CNA Newsroom.

“We work hard every week to bring you thoroughly researched, highly-produced stories from a Catholic perspective that cover a wide range of topics, from theology to history, science, and of course current events.”

Drawing on the talents of CNA’s journalists both in the U.S. and abroad, episodes of CNA Newsroom often feature the voices of interesting people from around the world.

An episode featuring the voices of persecuted Christians in Nigeria included a segment hosted by a journalist from one of CNA’s newest bureaus, ACI Africa.

Rome correspondents Hannah Brockhaus and Courtney Mares have hosted several segments over the years, including a segment about Rome’s Purgatory Museum, and a story about the mysterious Holy House of Loreto in Italy.

“CNA Newsroom presents a great opportunity to get to know the voices of the CNA journalists you read every day,” said Producer Kate Olivera.

Occasionally, episodes are presented in innovative ways. A recent episode about the experience of deaf Catholics in the U.S. published alongside a video translating the episode into American Sign Language.

The podcast is available on every podcast platform, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher. It can also be heard on some terrestrial radio stations, including Redeemer Radio in Fort Wayne, Indiana.