Browsing News Entries
Posted on 01/17/2019 23:00 PM (CNA Daily News)
Washington D.C., Jan 17, 2019 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- It is a crowded-but-calm scene on Thursday morning, just before 9 a.m., in the lobby of the James Cardinal Hickey Center in downtown Washington, DC. About 50 people, including a woman with a seven-month-old baby girl, are packed in chairs against the walls, waiting for Catholic Charities of Washington, DC to officially open for the day.
A little after 9 a.m., people are asked to check in with a receptionist before they are led downstairs to begin meeting with Catholic Charities workers.
Unlike the majority of the people serviced by Catholic Charities, these people are not homeless, or even jobless: they’re furloughed government workers facing a partial government shutdown which has already lasted 26 days.
"We don't normally serve people who are government workers. That's not our normal population; (which is) people who are homeless, or have lost their jobs or don't have the ability to feed their families,” Catholic Charities President and CEO Fr. John Enzler explained to CNA.
“So this is a different group, and we want to be there for them as well, because this is a shock to their system to have no income, to have no paycheck."
This is the first time anyone can recall Catholic Charities of Washington being asked to provide assistance for furloughed workers.
For three days, at a set time and location, any furloughed government worker or federal contractor is eligible to receive up to $500 to help with rent, medical needs, or “essential home supplies.” Catholic Charities writes a check directly to the service provider. Catholic Charities explained on their website that they are not currently assisting with water, gas, or electricity bills because companies that service the Washington area have already established programs to help furloughed workers.
While the first two distribution days saw a “decent crowd” according to Enzler, Thursday’s was by far the largest. He told CNA that he suspected this was due to the location of the office, which is near all of the city’s metro lines. The first two locations were accessible only by car.
Catholic Charities of Washington got involved through a partnership with United Way of the National Capital Area. The President and CEO of United Way, Rosie Allen-Herring, reached out to Catholic Charities, and asked them to be one of the three charities to receive money to assist furloughed workers. Catholic Charities was picked because they have a "pretty broad spectrum of services," Enzler said, and are present throughout the southern Potomac area.
"It's a chance for us to become a player in trying to help people who have been affected by the shutdown," he added.
Catholic Charities COO Pat Dunne told CNA that he “didn’t know what to expect” when it came to assisting furloughed workers. He said that it was “a question of getting the word out, and our communications folks worked really hard to get the word out to everyone."
One of the people who received word that Catholic Charities would be providing assistance to federal employees was a woman named Zenola.
Zenola told CNA that she has worked for Housing and Urban Development for nearly 20 years. She has been furloughed the entire length of the shutdown.
She said that her daughter saw a notice about the program on Facebook, and she called Catholic Charities to ensure she would be able to receive assistance.
“They told me to come on down,” she said.
This past month without pay has been tough for Zenola and her family.
“We’ve been hit pretty hard as far as our January bills,” she said, and although she has tried to save money, she’s “exhausted” her savings account trying to keep up with bills for her mortgage, car, and other expenses.
Zenola was grateful to Catholic Charities for the assistance, and said she and her family “really, really, really” appreciates it.
Catholic Charities received $36,000 to allocate on a first-come, first-served basis, and Enzler expected that money would be exhausted on Thursday. His prediction looked to be accurate: by 9:45 a.m., the lobby was full once again.
Posted on 01/17/2019 21:01 PM (CNA Daily News)
Washington D.C., Jan 17, 2019 / 12:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Last weekend, John Moore arrived at the Washington Monument in the US capital, after a walking pilgrimage from San Francisco that began in April 2018, in time to attend Friday's March for Life.
Moore has been accompanied in his 2,800 mile pilgrimage by Laura, one his six children, who drove and gave him assistance along the way.
The Moores are from Gallup, N.M., where they own a business renting space to RVs and campers, and John is a member of the Knights of Columbus.
“It’s from the site of the March for Life West Coast in San Francisco to the National Mall in Washington DC,” John told Voice of the Southwest. “I’ll end on January 18th of 2019 – that’s the March for Life there in Washington DC.”
Speaking to the Gallup diocese's paper in May, Laura said, “Usually if we’re close to the town we’re staying in, we settle in to a hotel and then [I] pick him up at the end of his walk, but today he’s going down a dirt road that doesn’t show up very clearly on maps, so every 20 minutes I’m driving up.”
Laura has been scouting the route for her father, making sure he has food and water throughout his day of walking, and picking up at the conclusion of each day's journey.
Once they got out of San Francisco, Laura said, they received a lot of support from people along the way.
“In San Francisco there were a lot of people who got in my dad’s face and were screaming at him pretty vulgarly. And then the further away we get from San Francisco the more support he gets. Not that he didn’t expect the bad stuff. He just kept his mouth shut and kept walking.”
“It actually surprises me how many non-religious people are intrigued by what he does. We’ve had a couple people stop to talk to us and they’re not religious at all. They don’t know anything about the March for Life,” said Laura. “People will stop and give my dad water, some people will walk with him for as long as they can, some people will give him money. A lot of people tell him how cool they think it is.”
John intends to donate the money he's received along the way to the Knights of Columbus for its effort to provide ultrasound machines to pro-life pregnancy centers; the project recently donated its 1,000th machine to the Mother of Mercy Free Medical Clinic in the Diocese of Arlington.
He's been making walking pilgrimages for some time: he's walked at least 13 times to the shrine of Chimayo; made a Kansas pilgrimage in honor of Fr. Emil Kapaun, an army chaplain who died in a prisoner of war camp during the Korean war; and walked to the Our Lady of Guadalupe Fiesta in Las Cruces, and to Mount Cristo Rey outside El Paso.
As he walks, John carries one of two wooden crosses: one displaying the Divine Mercy, and a chaplain's cross and barbed wire in honor of Fr. Kapaun, and another with the Sacred Heart and Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Laura told Voice of the Southwest it would be an opportunity for spiritual growth for her, and a chance to grow even closer to her father.
“I think that God’s been preparing me to learn how to be alone, and I feel like that’s what this road trip is – gonna help me ultimately be alone with myself and be friends with myself and get closer to God in that aspect,” she said. “I feel like I’m really blessed with this opportunity to spend all day focusing on it instead of having to make time for it.”
John spoke recently to Columbia magazine about his cross-country pilgrimage, saying he walks “to humble myself before God, to be a witness for Christ and to pray for others … It’s a walk of faith.”
“If I’m out in the middle of nowhere on a trail, I’ll pray the rosary. But when you’re walking a pilgrimage like this, it’s very dangerous. You can’t be listening to music. You always have to pay attention and stay focused.”
He said his devotion to Fr. Kapaun is rooted in the fact that “his faith was greater than his fears. I’ll tell you what: I’m kind of a big chicken. I hate heights and have to go over big bridges. And the farther east we go, all this traffic makes you anxious.”
“It’s a daily grind and sometimes I don’t want to walk, but you just have to go and not do anything stupid. It takes a lot of faith. Faith has to be greater than your fears,” John told Columbia.
“This not a matter of me being successful. It’s a matter of keeping a promise – a promise I made to the Knights, to the people at the March for Life, to the unborn and to God.”
Posted on 01/17/2019 19:45 PM (CNA Daily News)
Washington D.C., Jan 17, 2019 / 10:45 am (CNA).- The Senate yesterday passed a resolution saying it would be "unconstitutional" to consider membership in the Knights of Columbus a disqualifying criteria for public office. The resolution passed by unanimous consent, meaning it went unopposed by senators of either party.
The Jan. 16 resolution was drafted and introduced by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) in response to recent questions put to a judicial nominee, which suggested membership in the Knights could prevent someone serving impartially as a judge.
Citing the protection of religious liberty in the Constitution, the resolution noted that past candidates, including President John F. Kennedy, had suffered from “significant anti Catholic bigotry.”
“It is the sense of the Senate that disqualifying a nominee to Federal office on the basis of membership in the Knights of Columbus violates clause 3 of article VI of the Constitution of the United States,” the resolution states.
Article VI includes the provision that “no religious test shall ever be required as qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
On Dec. 5, Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) raised concerns about membership in the Knights of Columbus while the Senate Judiciary Committee reviewed the candidacy of Brian C. Buescher, an Omaha-based lawyer nominated by President Trump to sit on the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska.
In her questions to Buescher, Hirono said that the Knights have “taken a number of extreme positions.” Harris used her questions to label the organization as “opposed a woman’s right to choose” and against “marriage equality,” and suggested that Buescher could be unable to give a fair hearing to cases on these issues.
In his speech introducing the resolution, Sasse said that the anti-Catholic lines of questioning were "the same kind of garbage" which faced President Kennedy in 1960.
At least six other judicial nominees have faced scrutiny from Democratic senators over their Christian faith or membership in the Knights of Columbus since the 2016 election.
The Knights of Columbus are a Catholic fraternal organization with approximately 2 million members. Last year they carried out more than 75 million hours of volunteer work and raised more than $185 million for charitable purposes. As a Catholic organization, it holds views that are in line with Church teaching.
A recent Marist Poll survey, commissioned by the Knights of Columbus, found high levels of support for religiously committed candidates for the federal bench.
The poll found that 59 percent of Democrats supported people for whom “religion is important” serving as federal judges. The same poll found 60 percent of independents and more than 7 in 10 Republicans (73 percent) also supported religiously committed judges.
“Americans rightly support religious freedom and reject religious tests for public office,” said Knights of Columbus CEO Carl Anderson in a statement.
Anderson said that the Constitutional bar against religious tests “continues to strongly resonate with the overwhelming majority of Americans” and that the Marist Poll results showed a clear majority for those who “believe that faith should not be a barrier to someone’s appointment to public service.”
The resolution was passed by the Senate the day after William Barr went before the Senate Judiciary Committee for confirmation hearings on his nomination for the post of Attorney General.
Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) asked Barr, who is a member of the Knights of Columbus, if he thought his religion disqualified him from serving in office, observing that “some of my colleagues think it might.”
Spokesperson for the Knights of Columbus Kathleen Blomquist welcomed the passage of the Senate resolution.
“The Knights of Columbus is grateful that the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed that membership in a religious organization does not make a person unfit for public office,” she told CNA.
“We have also been gratified by the reaction of people of different faiths—including Senator Sasse — who never want to see a litmus test imposed on individuals based of their faith, a position that the vast majority of Americans support.”
Posted on 01/17/2019 19:35 PM (CNA Daily News)
Vatican City, Jan 17, 2019 / 10:35 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Farmers from across Italy brought their animals to the Vatican for a blessing Thursday, turning the street outside St. Peter’s Square into a farmyard of horses, donkeys, cows, pigs, hens, sheep, rams, goats, geese, ducks, and rabbits.
The animals (and their owners) were present for the annual Jan. 17 blessing for the feast of St. Anthony of Egypt, a third- to fourth-century saint who lived an austere and holy life in the Egyptian desert. Because the saint spent most of his life close to nature, in Italy he is venerated as a protector of animals.
Organized by an Italian farmers’ association, some family pets, such as cats and dogs, were also present for the benediction, which was given by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica.
The event began with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica (in which the animals did not participate, preferring the comfort of their pens and food). The blessing by Comastri followed.
The day’s festivities also included a parade of horses down the main street leading to St. Peter’s, with a performance by a mounted police band.
At Mass, Comastri pointed to a 16th-century statue of St. Anthony of Egypt, also known as St. Anthony the Abbot, which travels from the home to home of families of the farming association for use in family prayer.
St. Anthony “understood that God is the only true richness of life and understood that God came to meet us in Jesus,” he said.
“This is a sign that the agricultural life, life in contact with daily labor, is the healthiest life and the life closest to God. And when people, families, are close to God, they have nothing to fear.”
Posted on 01/17/2019 09:04 AM (CNA Daily News)
Helena, Mont., Jan 17, 2019 / 12:04 am (CNA).- The state of Montana is considering a bill that would criminalize revenge porn - the circulation of nude photos of another person without their permission.
Montana is one of nine states in the U.S. that does not have a revenge porn law. The state failed to pass a bill banning revenge porn in 2017.
House Bill 192 has been sponsored by Rep. Marilyn Ryan, (D-Missoula), with help from Rep. Kimberly Dudik, (D-Missoula). A public hearing will be held at the House Judiciary Committee on Jan. 24.
Unlike the 2017 attempt, this bill would add a clause to the state’s statute on privacy in communications. The law would make it a felony to publish or distribute any type of nude or sexualized photos or videos without the consent of the person depicted.
Violators would face up to six months in jail or $500 in fines for a first offense, with repeat offenses being punished by up to five years in jail or $10,000 in fines.
“It’s pretty cut and dried as to, if you distribute those without the person’s consent, then you’re guilty. We don’t have to show that you also intended to cause fear in them or anything like that. Just the fact that you did it on purpose is enough,” said Dudik, according to the Missoula Current.
The bill allows for some exceptions, such as images published for work purposes by law enforcement officials, medical analysts, and news reporters.
Victim and activist Kristine Hamill will testify about her experience with revenge porn at the hearing at the end of this month. Her ex-husband had shared sexually explicit images of Hamill without her consent.
Last November, a court granted a forensic review of her ex-husband’s laptop, which had been used to spread the photos. The only way for the images to be removed from the internet at this point would be to copyright the original images.
According to Missoula Current, Dudik expressed hope that the bill will pass, unlike the 2017 attempt that was unexpectedly killed on a final vote.
“I’m hopeful that our Legislature this time will understand that this isn’t a game, that this detrimentally impacts too many people’s lives and that people shouldn’t be allowed to act that way toward others and terrify them by the use of these images,” Dudik said.
Posted on 01/17/2019 02:12 AM (CNA Daily News)
Washington D.C., Jan 16, 2019 / 05:12 pm (CNA).- The man who made a 2004 accusation of misconduct against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick said Wednesday he is in disbelief after Cardinal Donald Wuerl told him he forgot about the allegation sometime after becoming Washington’s archbishop in 2006.
In a Jan. 15 letter, Wuerl wrote to Washington, DC priests that “when I was asked if I had any previous knowledge of allegations against Archbishop McCarrick, I said I did not. Only afterwards was I reminded of the 14-year-old accusation of inappropriate conduct which, by that time, I had forgotten.”
In a previous letter to priests, sent Jan. 12, Wuerl did not mention forgetting the allegation, instead he said he was bound by confidentiality not to mention it, and that when he denied hearing rumors about McCarrick’s misconduct, he meant only that he had not heard rumors that McCarrick had sexually abused minors.
The 2004 complaint was made by laicized priest Robert Ciolek.
In 2004, Ciolek went to Wuerl, who was then Bishop of Pittsburgh, to relay an accusation of sexual abuse at the hands of a Pittsburgh priest. At the same time, he reported to Wuerl that McCarrick had, as Bishop of Metuchen, shared a bed with seminarians at a New Jersey beach house, pressuring Ciolek to do the same. Wuerl presented those accusations to the apostolic nuncio in Washington.
Ciolek told CNA he spoke with Wuerl by telephone on Jan. 15, and that the cardinal told him personally what he later said in his letter: that he had had “a lapse of memory” regarding the 2004 allegation.
When Wuerl told him that, Ciolek said, he asked the cardinal if he had already forgotten the accusations by the time he arrived in Washington as McCarrick’s successor in 2006, only two years after he reported the allegation. He told CNA that he also asked Wuerl if he had taken any steps to see whether the same behavior was being repeated in Washington.
“What he said was 'I did think about that when I arrived in Washington, but because I had never heard any other allegation or rumor, or heard back from the nuncio, I didn’t feel it was something I needed to concern myself with in Washington at that time,'” Ciolek told CNA.
Ciolek said he found it difficult to understand how Wuerl could have forgotten the substance of his accusations in the ensuing years, especially after recalling them as he arrived in Washington to replace McCarrick.
“It’s unfathomable to me that he has forgotten, I don’t believe it for one second.”
A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Washington declined to comment on Ciolek’s account of the conversation between him and Cardinal Wuerl, telling CNA that “the cardinal considers this a private conversation and will be respecting that.”
Ciolek told CNA that during their Jan. 15 telephone call, Wuerl also offered personal apologies for the abuse he had suffered, along with an apology for a “lapse of memory” regarding his 2004 allegation.
“I did not believe him when he said he did not remember,” Ciolek said, adding that the apology “wasn’t making sense to me in the light of his statement last week.”
In his Jan. 12 letter to Washington, DC priests, Wuerl wrote that when he offered multiple denials about hearing rumors regarding McCarrick, he meant them more narrowly than they were perceived, saying he spoke “in the context of the charges of sexual abuse of minors, which at the time was the focus of discussion and media attention.”
“While one may interpret my statement in a different context, the discussion around and adjudication of Archbishop McCarrick’s behavior concern his abuse of minors,” Wuerl added last week.
Ciolek also told CNA he felt that Wuerl’s recent statements have sought to “minimize” the allegations by referring to them as “inappropriate conduct.
He also told CNA that he disliked having to discuss his abuse and experiences publicly, but considered it a necessary contribution towards reform.
“I saw this conversation as an opportunity for Wuerl to say ‘enough is enough,’ and finally own his own actions. Sadly that hasn’t happened yet.”
He said he told the cardinal Tuesday “while it was nice to hear all you’ve expressed, your last comments about your own forgetfulness about these things is actually causing me more pain than I’ve already endured.”
“I don't want any seminarian to endure what I did at the hands of a bishop again. I think the only way anyone can have hope that will happen is not just needed process changes, but ripping the band-aid off and exposing the wounds. People will be more willing to trust and believe [in reforms] if real honestly is part of the process,” Ciolek said.
“I’m sorry, if Cardinal Wuerl says he can’t remember..., there is only one conclusion [I can draw] and that is he is not being honest. He knew, he knew.”
This article has been amended to make clear that a statement attributed to Cardinal Wuerl was recounted by Mr. Ciolek and not confirmed by the cardinal.
Posted on 01/17/2019 02:01 AM (CNA Daily News)
Hagatna, Guam, Jan 16, 2019 / 05:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Archdiocese of Agaña has filed for bankruptcy in federal court in the wake of numerous sex abuse allegations. The move, decided upon in November, allows the archdiocese to avoid trial and to begin to reach settlements in millions of dollars' worth of abuse lawsuits.
"This path will bring the greatest measure of justice to the greatest number of victims," Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Byrnes said in November. "That's the heart of what we're doing."
The bankruptcy decision was made following mediation efforts.
Leander James, an attorney working with alleged victims in the territory, also said in November that filing for bankruptcy would provide “the only realistic path to settlement of pending and future claims."
There are approximately $115 million in lawsuits from more than 180 abuse claims pending against the Agaña archdiocese.
Some of these claims were brought against the archdiocese’s former leader, Archbishop Anthony Apuron, who has been found guilty of certain unspecified accusations by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Among those who have accused Archbishop Apuron of sex abuse is his nephew, Mark Apuron. This week, Mark named the Holy See as a defendant in a $5 million abuse lawsuit filed in local court. According to Kuam News, the suit states that the Vatican failed to implement recommendations from a 1985 report entitled: "The Problem of Sexual Molestation by Roman Catholic Clergy: Meeting the Problem in a Comprehensive and Responsible Manner."
The archdiocese has announced plans to sell its chancery property and move offices, as part of a broader move to liquidate and sell property to settle sex abuse cases.
In 2016, Guam's territorial legislature eliminated the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits involving child sexual abuse.
Coadjutor Archbishop Byrnes has implemented new child protection policies in the archdiocese, including a safe environment program that he said will “help to instigate a change of culture in our Archdiocese.”
Byrnes adopted in February 2017 the US bishops' conference's Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and its essential norms on dealing with allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clerics.
The Archdiocese of Agaña serves Catholics in Guam, a U.S. island territory in the northwestern Pacific Ocean.
Posted on 01/17/2019 01:38 AM (CNA Daily News)
Washington D.C., Jan 16, 2019 / 04:38 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pro-life members of Congress this week sent U.S. President Donald Trump two companion letters requesting that he veto any legislation that would weaken current federal pro-life policies and promising to sustain any such veto.
A total of 169 members of the House of Representatives and 49 Senators signed the respective letters.
“We ask President Donald Trump to continue to his work in defense of life. My colleagues and I are also committed to protecting both unborn children and their mothers from the violence of abortion,” said Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), who led the House letter, in a statement.
Smith added that he was “deeply encouraged” that there were 169 members of the House of Representatives who signed the letter willing to sustain a veto “on the grounds that any pro-life provision has been weakened or removed.”
“We will not allow hard fought protections for the unborn to be undone,” said Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT). “I stand strongly in defense of the President’s pro-life victories and will continue to work with my colleagues to advance our pro-life agenda.”
Daines was the leader of the Senate letter.
While both letters offered praise for Trump’s various pro-life policies throughout his time in office, the House letter emphasized the importance of the Hyde Amendment and the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy, both of which restrict taxpayer funding for abortions domestically and abroad.
Recently, House Democrats passed a spending bill containing language that would overturn the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy. They have also pledged to work to overturn the Hyde Amendment, which prevents taxpayer funding of abortion in most cases.
The Senate letter focused on conscience rights for healthcare professionals, and requested that taxpayer funding under Title X (family planning) not go to “facilities that perform or refer for abortion.”
In May, the Trump administration instituted new policies that forbade Title X funds from going to organizations like Planned Parenthood. This move was touted as a “major victory” by pro-life advocates.
Similar pro-life letters were sent to Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush when they were in office. President H.W. Bush then proceeded to issue three pro-life vetoes, and all three were upheld by the House of Representatives.
Posted on 01/17/2019 01:06 AM (CNA Daily News)
Panama City, Panama, Jan 16, 2019 / 04:06 pm (CNA).- A U.S.-based coalition of dissenting Catholics, whose backers include wealthy non-Catholic funders, is sending a small group of LGBT activists to World Youth Day in Panama to engage with media and pilgrims and to challenge Catholic teaching and practice they say is “harmful.”
The six pilgrims are backed by the Equally Blessed Coalition, currently composed of the groups Call to Action, Dignity USA and New Ways Ministry. The group Fortunate Families had belonged to the coalition for several years but left it in 2018.
This year’s World Youth Day, a major international Catholic young adult event, will take place in the Panama City area Jan. 22-27. It is expected to draw 3 million people, including 200,000 Panamanians, according to local papers. Pope Francis will take part in the events and celebrate a penitential liturgy with juvenile detention center detainees, a Way of the Cross with young people, a prayer vigil with youth, and a Mass for World Youth Day participants.
The Equally Blessed Coalition’s November 13, 2018 announcement cited Pew Research Center and Public Religion Research Institute polling that they said showed two-thirds of American Catholics backed “gay marriage” and a majority oppose “so-called ‘religious freedom’ laws that allow businesses and other public service providers to discriminate against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
“While we raise awareness about issues of gender and sexuality in the lives of Catholics, we will challenge harmful teachings and pastoral practices that dehumanize us rather than celebrate the gifts that we LGBTQI people bring to the church and to the world,” said the coalition on its website. “While our church has repeatedly villainized LGBTQI people as ‘disordered,’ our pilgrims will counter this with a message of love and radical inclusion.”
The Equally Blessed Coalition previously sponsored pilgrims to World Youth Day in 2011 and 2013 and to the World Meeting of Families in 2015 and 2018. Its website says it has raised around $6,000 from about 60 donors for this year’s group visit.
The Arcus Foundation, an LGBT advocacy funder launched by billionaire heir Jon Stryker, is among the coalition’s major backers.
In 2014 the foundation gave a $200,000 grant to Dignity USA for the Equally Blessed Coalition “to support pro-LGBT faith advocates to influence and counter the narrative of the Catholic Church and its ultra-conservative affiliates.” The effort was linked to both the Church’s Synod on the Family and World Youth Day and aimed to “amplify pro-LGBT voices within the Catholic Church.”
According to the foundation, the funding was part of an effort to engage “open-minded religious leaders who can use their influence to shift public views away from prejudice.”
In 2016 the foundation gave a $250,000, two-year grant to Dignity USA to fund the Equally Blessed Coalition, in order to “support and give voice to the growing majority of Roman Catholics who support full acceptance and equality for LGBT people.”
Another grant of $125,000 to Dignity USA for the Equally Blessed Coalition was earmarked for “advocating for LGBTQ acceptance and for an end to harmful religious exemption policies within Catholic communities,” according to the June 2018 grant announcement.
Dignity USA was among the backers of a messaging effort called the Equal Future project, which sought to influence the Catholic Church’s 2018 youth synod. The project contended that the “rules” of the Catholic Church are causing “damage” to those who self-identify as LGBT.
Ann Schneible, communications director for the Courage apostolate, commented on Equal Future last year. She told CNA that Catholic teaching insists that everyone has the fundamental identity “to be the creature of God, and by grace, his child and heir to eternal life.”
“Seen from this perspective, it becomes clear that the Church’s approach provides the most compassionate response to people, including youth and young adults, who experience same sex attractions,” Schneible said. “Far from being a misfortune or a disappointment, their identity as sons and daughters of God – who are made in his image and likeness, and have received divine grace and a call to holiness – is a profound and life-giving joy.”
Those who experience same-sex attraction deserve compassionate outreach from Catholics, she said, adding, “we do so in the belief and hope that following God’s plan will always lead one to happiness and ultimate fulfillment.”
Equally Blessed claims World Youth Day typically “includes sessions sponsored by organizations that oppose any advancement of civil rights for LGBTQI people.” It said the pilgrimage aims to “create the space now for LGBTQI people within the Catholic Church.”
Its objections included the recent synod on young people discussion about LGBT issues “where only (mostly older) cisgender men were allowed to vote.” It objected to what it said was “a recurrence of rhetoric that blames child sexual abuse on homosexuality” and protested what it said was the “attempted erasure of LGBTQI Catholics and same sex couples from the church.”
Equally Blessed objected to “unjust treatment of LGBTQI church workers, “including violence and threats of violence,” citing the case of a pastoral worker at San Diego’s St. John the Evangelist Parish who resigned from his position after he became the focus of strongly critical internet coverage from fringe Catholic blogs and news sites, which said he was in a same-sex union and backed LGBT advocacy. The pastoral worker said he had endured “physical and emotional violence” due to the internet sites and their readers. Extreme harassment, including death threats placed on the man’s car, were reported to police and the FBI, an associate pastor at the parish told Fox 5 San Diego.
Equally Blessed claimed that Pope Francis had shown “public silence” after all these developments.
The Equally Blessed contingent to World Youth Day includes Melissa Barber, who quit her job as a religious education director in Indianapolis to contract a same-sex union; Catherine Buck, an adjunct professor from New Jersey who writes for New Ways Ministry’s blog; and Keith Hall, a federal employee from Washington, D.C. who co-chairs the Dignity Young Adult Caucus.
The self-described Catholic groups in the coalition reject Catholic teaching on the immorality of homosexual acts and have called for same-sex unions to be recognized as sacramental.
In a February 12, 2010 statement, then-U.S. bishops’ conference president Cardinal Francis George of Chicago said New Ways Ministry’s claim to be Catholic “only confuses the faithful regarding the authentic teaching and ministry of the Church with respect to persons with a homosexual inclination.” He rejected claims that it provides “an authentic interpretation of Catholic teaching and an authentic Catholic pastoral practice.” The group has no approval from the Church and “they cannot speak on behalf of the Catholic faithful in the United States,” he said.
In 2016 New Ways Ministry awarded its Bridge Building Award to media commentator and America magazine editor Father James Martin, S.J., who based his book on LGBT outreach on his acceptance speech.
In 2012 the Equally Blessed Coalition issued a report attacking the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Knights of Columbus for their work to maintain the legal definition of marriage as a union of one man and one woman.
The report’s funders included the Human Rights Campaign and the report acknowledged Arcus Foundation funding for the Equally Blessed Coalition.
The Arcus Foundation is also a grant maker to the Catholics United Education Fund and the pro-abortion rights group Catholics for Choice. It has funded groups in other Christian communities, including Episcopalian groups ahead of the breakup of the Anglican Communion over issues such as ecclesial authority and homosexuality.
It has been a partner of the U.S. State Department’s Global Equality Fund.
Posted on 01/17/2019 00:32 AM (CNA Daily News)
Fuerte Olimpo, Paraguay, Jan 16, 2019 / 03:32 pm (ACI Prensa).- Some 60 people belonging to the Communities of Missionary Families conducted a mission beginning Jan. 1 in a series of towns on the Paraguay River.
The families, who come from across Paraguay and also include a Cuban couple, gathered in Porto Murtinho, Brazil, to embark on the week-long evangelization project. They were accompanied by four priests, a religious sister, and Archbishop Edmundo Ponziano Valenzuela Mellid of Asuncion.
They held a Mass together before separating into groups to go on mission to eleven towns situated downstream from Porto Murtinho.
Under temperatures reaching 110 degrees Fahrenheit, the missionaries settled into tents, mats, inside of chapels, and in the homes of the locals. There they had catechism, Mass in the native language, fraternal sharing, confessions, and even mediated in a local labor dispute with a company
“The missionaries went in an atmosphere of prayer which allowed dialogue and the almost immediate solution of a long conflict. I admired the courage of the missionaries because they announced the love of Christ that transforms lives and when that love is taken seriously, it rebounds in human and labor relations,” Archbishop Valenzuela said.
“The joy of these families is awesome, and especially that of their young children. Their faith, preparation, and conviction are awesome. It is part of being a witnessing Church,” the archbishop said at the end of the mission.
The Communities of Missionary Families was founded in 2010 by the couples Carmen and Aldo Fanego, and Kika and Vidal Benítez.
Encouraged by Archbishop Valenzuela, who was at the time Vicar Apostolic of Chaco Paraguayo, ten years ago they began doing river missions in the area, inaccessible except by the river, where indigenous peoples live, sustained by farming and the extraction of tannin, a substance used for curing hides and making certain pharmaceuticals.
This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.