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New Mexico legislators want to repeal state's abortion ban

Santa Fe, N.M., Nov 19, 2018 / 03:29 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A group of New Mexican legislators seeks to overturn a state law that would make abortion illegal if Roe v. Wade were overturned, part of a developing trend among the handful of states with laws that criminalize abortion.

Currently, New Mexico law states it is a felony for an abortionist to perform an abortion, with exceptions for rape, birth defects, and to preserve the health of the mother. This law, which dates to the 1960s, has not been enforced since 1973, when the Supreme Court found a right to an abortion throughout a woman’s pregnancy.

Rep. Joanne Ferrary (D-Las Cruces) intends to introduce a bill in the next legislative session that would remove this law from the books. This proposed bill is supported by the state’s governor-elect, Michelle Lujan Grisham (D), as well as the state’s House Speaker and Senate majority leader. The legislative leaders have tabbed the bill as a “high priority” for the upcoming session of the legislature.

Lujan Grisham said that she believes the law criminalizing abortion to be “antiquated” and one that would “punish women.” She has pledged to sign the bill if it were passed through the legislature.

Similar efforts to repeal this law, under outgoing Gov. Susana Martinez (R), failed.

As of now, nine states, including New Mexico, have laws that would ban abortion. Four additional states – Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, and South Dakota – have what are known as “trigger laws” that would ban abortion if the Roe decision were overturned.

With the recent confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court, expectations that the decision might be overturned have been heightened. Those who are in favor of abortion rights are moving to change various laws that would be enforced if abortion were once again left to the states to decide.

Until July, Massachusetts had a 19th-century law on the books that made the act of “procuring a miscarriage” illegal. Similar to New Mexico’s law, this has not been enforced since 1973. That law was repealed with the passage of the “Negating Archaic Statutes Targeting Young Women Act,” which was commonly known as the “NASTY Women Act.”

On the other end of the abortion law spectrum, the Ohio House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would make abortion illegal after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. The fetal heartbeat can be detected at around six weeks gestation, before some women even are aware they are pregnant.

Previously, this bill has been vetoed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), although Kasich has signed many more abortion restrictions into law.

A request to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe for comment on the bill was not responded to in time for publication.

NJ dioceses to form compensation program for child victims of clerical abuse

Newark, N.J., Nov 19, 2018 / 03:16 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Archdiocese of Newark announced Monday that New Jersey’s five dioceses will together form a Victim Compensation and Counseling Program in the coming year, and will release the names of all priests in the state who have been accused of sexual misconduct against minors.

Although the precise details of this program have not yet been finalized, Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark said in a statement published on the archdiocese’s webpage Nov. 19, they will be soon and information will be released at that time.

This program will assist dioceses with resources in order to provide compensation for those who were victimized as children by clergy or employees of Catholic dioceses in New Jersey, who are unable to file civil suits due to the state’s statute of limitations.

“This will give victims a formal voice and allow them to be heard by an independent panel,” said the statement. Cardinal Tobin added, “the Program also will assure that victims who have not received any financial compensation will be paid, regardless of whether their claims meet the time requirements of the statute of limitations.”

The Catholic Church in New Jersey has already paid out more than $50 million in financial settlements to those who were sexually abused as children by members of the clergy or diocesan employees in the state.

In addition to financial compensation, this new program will establish “permanent funding” for counseling for abuse survivors. This counseling “so often is needed to help in the healing of those who have been harmed.”

This past September, New Jersey’s Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced the creation of a task force in the state to investigate the allegations of sexual abuse and cover up.

“No person is above the law and no institution is immune from accountability,” said Grewal in September.

“We will devote whatever resources are necessary to uncover the truth and bring justice to victims.”

Ahead of the release of this report, and in coordination with the task force, Cardinal Tobin said that New Jersey’s dioceses will “undertake a complete review of their files” and release the names of all priests and deacons who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor. This list is expected to be released in early 2019.

“It is hoped that these steps will aid in the process of healing for victims, who are deserving of our support and prayers,” said the statement.

Notably, the statement did not include any information about compensation or counseling for adults who were victimized by members of the clergy in New Jersey, instead focusing on those who were abused as minors.

In the early 2000s, the Archdiocese of Newark and the Dioceses of Trenton and Metuchen paid settlements to men who allege they were abused by Archbishop Theodore McCarrick when they were adults studying in seminary. These settlements were not public knowledge until the summer of 2018, after two men came forward to say that they had been molested by McCarrick as minors.

Shortly after McCarrick’s second survivor came forward, McCarrick stepped down from the College of Cardinals. McCarrick has since been sentenced to a life of prayer and penance until a canonical trial can be conducted. He is currently residing at a friary in Kansas.

Jesuit priest killed in South Sudan

Rumbek, South Sudan, Nov 19, 2018 / 02:18 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Fr. Victor-Luke Odhiambo, a Jesuit from Kenya, was shot and killed in South Sudan by unknown gunmen while at home Thursday morning.

Fr. Odhiambo, who was the principal of Mazzolari Teachers College and the local Jesuit community’s acting superior, was attacked in the early hours of Nov. 15 in Cueibet, about 30 miles northwest of Rumbek.

The attackers had broken into the Jesuit home in Cueibet while Odhiambo was watching T.V. Three other priests were at the home during the attack, but had been asleep. The gunshots woke them up, and they set off the alarms, causing the criminals to flee.

The local government set aside three days of mourning in recognition of the priest.

Fr. Odhiambo was born Jan. 20, 1956, and entered the Society of Jesus in 1978. He was ordained a priest in 1987, and took final vow May 30, 1993. He had worked in South Sudan for about 10 years, having served in Kenya and Tanzania previously.

His body was buried in Rumbek over the weekend.

Fr. Arturo Sosa, superior general of the Society of Jesus, wrote a letter of condolence to the Eastern Africa provincial, Fr. Joseph Oduor Afulo, saying Fr. Odhiambo “leaves a name, not only in South Sudan as the first Jesuit to die at the service of its people, but in the whole of Eastern Africa as a teacher of thousands of students in the Starehe Boys Centre in Nairobi-Kenya and in Loyola High School in Dar Es Salaam-Tanzania.”

The suprioer general described him as “a very courageous man, intelligent, caring, creative administrator and above all a believer in the value of education. He was not afraid of venturing into the unknown even into the most dangerous of places once he was convinced it was the Lord’s mission. His example of selfless dedication as Headmaster and Principal remains a challenge to many of our younger brothers in the Society of Jesus. He is a light, which has been extinguished, after enlightening other lights. Like a grain of wheat that dies in order to bear much fruit. And this is our consolation.”

“Kindly assure all our companions especially those in South Sudan my closeness and prayers. Fr. Odhiambo gave his life for the people, the sons and daughters of God, following Jesus’ example. Our merciful Father will receive him with an open heart. Let us also pray for those who attacked the college premises and killed Father Victor and for those who promote violence, may the Lord change their hearts.”

“Please do pass on my sincere condolences to all the members of your province and to his biological family, with the assurance of my prayers that the Lord grant them consolation,” Fr. Sosa concluded. “May the soul of our brother Victor rest in God’s peace and eternal happiness.”

Church in Chile to sign accord with prosecutor's office for investigation of abuse

Santiago, Chile, Nov 19, 2018 / 01:34 pm (ACI Prensa).- The Chilean  bishops' conference has announced the signing of a collaboration agreement with the prosecutor's office for the investigation of sex crimes within the Catholic Church.

Bishop Luis Fernando Ramos Perez, auxiliary bishop of Santiago and secretary general of the bishops' conference,  made the announcement at the conclusion of the bishops' Nov. 12-16 plenary assembly in Lo Cañas, a Santiago suburb.

“We studied the draft agreement on mutual collaboration between the National Prosecutor's Office and the Church for the investigation of crimes of abuse of minors by clerics,” Bishop Ramos said, reading a declaration by the bishops.

He emphasized that “the issue has been fully discussed with the authorities from the Prosecutor's Office and their representatives” and that “in the coming weeks we hope to formalize an agreement by signing the respective document and its subsequent application.”

According to the data from the Prosecutor's Office furnished to the Efe new agency, up to Nov. 5 there were 139 ongoing investigations against 190 members of the Church in Chile, involving 245 victims, of whom 102 were minors.

Bishop Ramos explained that the plenary assembly served to address this problem and said that with the National Council for the Prevention of Abuse, they analyzed the progress and follow up of the resolutions adopted in the bishops' Aug. 3 Declaration, Decisions and Commitments statement.

The bishops also initiated the study of the essential elements of the standards of conduct necessary for all pastoral workers, especially clerics and religious, in order to have this instruction completed during 2019.

According to the press conference communiqué, the assembly approved a “roadmap  for the process of discernment to make progress on the way to becoming a Church ever more synodical, prophetic, and full of hope, which seeks to place Jesus Christ at the center.”

A milestone on this roadmap will be the Third National Ecclesial Assembly to be held in May 2020 which “will lay the foundations for new pastoral guidelines for the Church in Chile.”

The assembly elected as vice president of the bishops' conference Archbishop René Osvaldo Rebolledo Salinas of La Serena, following the resignation for health reasons presented by Bishop Cristián Contreras Villarroel of Melipilla.

 

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Legatus will not collect 2019 tithe to Holy See

Washington D.C., Nov 19, 2018 / 11:28 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A U.S.-based organization of Catholic business executives has decided not to collect from its members the portion of their dues that would constitute its 2019 donation to the Holy See.

Legatus, an organization of Catholic business leaders, had announced in September that it was placing its annual donation to the Holy See in escrow until it can receive clarification on questions of financial accountability.

Thomas Monaghan, chairman of Legatus, wrote its member Nov. 16 asking them to continue to pray “for the Church and all of our leaders,” as “it is evident that it is going to take time for the current crisis in the Church to be addressed to the point where the Board believes the reinstatement of our annual tithe would be prudent.”

For that reason, he said, the board of governors has decided “to forego collecting the annual tithe represented in your 2019 dues.”

“ For those who have already submitted their dues, the National Office will refund the appropriate amount earmarked for the Holy See contribution in a timely fashion,” he said. “For those who have not yet remitted your dues, new invoices will be sent.”

Monaghan noted that the tithe to the Holy See “has been an importance part of Legatus membership” and the board therefore intends “to reinstate this practice once we have sufficient communication regarding the specific accountability related to the use of these funds.”

“The Board will revisit this topic by the fall of 2019 in order to chart a plan related to the 2020 dues,” he stated.

“Legatus continues to pledge its devotion to and solidarity with Holy Mother Church; this is a time when we need to live the mission of Legatus more than ever,” Monaghan wrote.

He concluded his letter urging members to “continue to pray for healing and courage for the Church.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, Legatus' 2018 tithe to the Holy See would have been about $820,000.

When announcing the decision in September to withhold the tithe, Monaghan said that members had raised questions “specifically pertaining to how it is being used, and what financial accountability exists within the Vatican for such charitable contributions.”

“The Board has begun a dialogue along these lines, and in the meantime has decided to place the Holy See annual tithe in escrow, pending further determination,” he said.

Questions of Vatican financial accountability had been raised earlier this year by the Papal Foundation, a U.S.–based organization that offers grants to support the global work of the Holy Father.

In February, some members of the organization sharply criticized a request from the Holy See for $25 million for a Church-owned hospital that has been plagued by fraud and embezzlement scandals. Grants from the Papal Foundation are normally no more than $200,000 and generally go toward initiatives to help the poor in developing nations.