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Posted on 01/20/2022 00:40 AM (CNA Daily News)
Washington D.C., Jan 19, 2022 / 16:40 pm (CNA).
The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in a case involving the city of Boston’s refusal to raise a flag with Christian imagery in front of its City Hall.
The North Carolina-based organization Camp Constitution applied in June 2017 to raise a flag featuring a Latin cross in front of City Hall. The display of the flag reportedly would have coincided with an event involving speeches by local clergy.
Boston has a long-standing flag program through which private organizations can apply to raise a flag related to their cause on one of three flag poles in front of City Hall. Previous flags have represented causes including Boston Pride. Some flags have included religious imagery, but this seems to be the first application for a flag with an explicitly religious description.
The city of Boston rejected Camp Constitution’s application, after approving all 284 previous applications in the flag program’s history.
The city argued that displaying a flag with a Christian symbol would violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
Camp Constitution sued, arguing the city’s decision violated its free speech.
The case of Shurtleff v. City of Boston considers whether the city of Boston’s flag program is properly considered a public forum for private speech or a reflection of government endorsement of messages promoted by the flags.
The First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the city in January 2021, arguing the government is entitled to choose the messages it endorses.
The Supreme Court agreed in September 2021 to hear the case. The court is expected to issue a decision in June.
Posted on 01/19/2022 23:35 PM (CNA Daily News)
Denver Newsroom, Jan 19, 2022 / 15:35 pm (CNA).
Afghanistan has unseated North Korea for the dubious distinction of the most dangerous country in the world for Christians, according to a group that reports on global Christian persecution.
A takeover of the government by the Taliban has made it even harder — now, impossible— to live openly as a Christian, advocacy group Open Doors writes in its annual World Watch List.
“The Taliban will make sure that Islamic rules and customs are implemented and kept. Christian converts don’t have any option but to obey them. If a Christian’s new faith is discovered, their family, clan or tribe has to save its honor by disowning the believer, or even killing them. This is widely considered to be justice,” the group writes.
“Alternatively, since leaving Islam is considered a sign of insanity, a Christian who has converted from Islam may be forcibly sent to a psychiatric hospital.”
Afghanistan is over 99% Muslim, with the majority being Sunni. There are small groups of Christians, including about 200 Catholics, as well as Buddhists, Hindus, and Baháʼís.
Overall, 360 million Christians worldwide face persecution, according to Open Doors, an increase of 20 million from last year.
The group had cited North Korea as the most “extreme” persecutor of Christians for twenty years prior to this year’s ranking.
The “top ten” countries with the most Christian persecution this year are Afghanistan, North Korea, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Eritrea, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran, and India.
North Korea’s level of persecution increased this year, even as its ranking went down, the group reported. The groups says “any North Korean caught following Jesus is at immediate risk of imprisonment, brutal torture and death” at the hands of the communist government.
Nigeria, which ranks number seven on the list, no longer appears on the U.S. State Department’s list of “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPC), a watchlist of countries with the most egregious violations of religious freedom.
Nigeria was listed in 2020, but the country was not included in the 2021 list, released in mid-November. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) had been recommending the designation of Nigeria as a CPC since 2009.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a Nov. 18-19 visit to Nigeria to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari, but it remains unclear why the State Department removed Nigeria from the watchlist.
Posted on 01/19/2022 23:15 PM (CNA Daily News)
Denver Newsroom, Jan 19, 2022 / 15:15 pm (CNA).
When I first met Alice von Hildebrand, I really shouldn’t have. As a senior studying history at Franciscan University of Steubenville, I wasn’t actually invited to the graduate school of philosophy’s already packed event hosting the beloved author and philosopher. Franciscan is one of the few philosophy departments in higher education (that I’m aware of) that studies so much of the works of her late husband, Dietrich, and it seemed like the entire campus (or perhaps just the theology nerds who I ran with) was abuzz with excitement over her visit.
But, I was friends with the department chair’s daughter and she clued a few of us undergraduate students in on the details of the event and assured us no one would really notice if we stood in the back.
“Should I really sneak into an event I wasn’t invited to? Especially when the presenter is speaking about faith and morals?” I wondered as I filed into the back of the crowded room.
Admittedly, I got a “C” in my Philosophy of the Human Person class earlier that year which is probably how I justified my actions. Since it was unlikely that I’d ever get another chance to meet her, I told myself, I should take advantage of the opportunity now. Besides, my nascent conscience urged me, I really loved her book!
However, as providence would have it, I did get a chance to “meet” her again some five years later. Though this time not as a giddy undergrad clutching a copy of “The Privilege of Being a Woman,” straining to hear her remarks from the back of a conference room in Steubenville, Ohio. It was as an editor for her regular contributions to Catholic News Agency.
Although that evening back in 2010 was the only time I ever met her in person, “Lily” became a sort of digital pen pal when I was assigned the privilege of editing her work for Catholic News Agency a few years later. She graciously gifted the agency with dozens of essays containing prophetic wisdom and perspectives that have proven to be even more relevant now than when they were first published.
While Catholics may know of Alice von Hildebrand’s books and tireless work promoting her late husband Dietrich’s masterful canon of philosophical writings, they may not be aware of the virtual library of essays hosted right here on Catholic News Agency. As a wife and mother, I especially appreciate the accessibility of her writings for both their depth and practical application.
It should be noted that when Alice wrote these articles her eyesight was already beginning to fail and her physical health was declining, although her mind was as sharp as ever. When she submitted her work she would apologize for the grammatical and punctuational errors she knew they contained while at the same time remarking that these works were her “swan song.” She told me that she felt a special urgency to write these even as her strength began to fail. Revisiting some of her articles today, I can see just how right she was to respond to that call. Although Lily has departed this life, I hope that even more people will benefit from her writings here on this website.
Many of her articles focused on the importance of gratitude and reverence. I remember one in particular titled, “The art of helping.” She wrote that we should rejoice in being asked for help because it meant that God was giving us an opportunity to repay our debt to him.
“The real Christian — the one living in the consciousness that it is a privilege to help our brothers — understands that to be asked for help grants us an opportunity of showing our love for Christ,” she wrote, “and is also a grace enabling us to pay our own debt toward him: indeed we are all bankrupt, and we should welcome as a grace every single opportunity to pay some of our debt.”
Another one of my favorites, “Love and friendship,” contains the zinger, “... my experiences in the classroom have taught me so much that I cannot help but wish that my teaching had been as enriching to my students as their errors have enriched my mind.” After teaching philosophy at Hunter College in New York for 37 years, she certainly had some interesting stories to share.
Written nearly 10 years ago, von Hildebrand’s essay “Rip van Winkle’s nightmare” has proved to be even more timely now than it was when it was first published. In it she takes the reader along a journey with the fabled Rip van Winkle who, instead of sleeping through the American Revolution, slumbers his way through the 20th century and wakes up in the present day. The things that would have shocked and disgusted any person 100 years ago are now accepted and even celebrated, she points out.
“Just as there is a hierarchy of truths, there is also a hierarchy of errors, and last but not least, a hierarchy of stupidities,” she wrote.
She often remarked, quoting her late husband Dietrich, that what is called “culture” today is actually a type of “anti-culture.” In her essay “A touch of metaphysical humor” von Hildebrand pinpointed the root of so many of society’s ills by saying, “We have lost sense for mystery, for sacredness and this might explain why our society is not only sick but in many ways ‘comatose.’ A society that has lost the sense of the sacred is a society which has chosen death.”
The last time I wrote to Alice von Hildebrand was over five years ago when I had just decided not to return from my maternity leave at CNA in order to stay home full time with my two daughters. As I drafted the email, I remember feeling a pang of shame. Looking back I can see that it was the breath of the Evil One in my ear telling me that my choice to stay home with my children, instead of continuing my career, was an inferior one that I’d quickly come to regret. I should have known that if there was anyone who understood my decision, it was Lily.
“Of course I’ll miss our contact,” was her frank response, “but a mother should be home with her children. No one can replace her.”
Perhaps some mothers who work outside the home will bristle at such a remark, but I don’t share these words to shame anyone for her choices or circumstances. I share these words to encourage those of us who may not feel any real importance in the endless marathon of being a stay-at-home mother. I bring to mind her words when I feel the most run-down and discouraged by motherhood, tempted to believe that I should be doing something “better” or “more useful” with my time.
Alice often championed women as the “privleged” sex in her writings. While Aristotle painted women as the passive, and therefore inferior, sex von Hildebrand explained that (with all due respect) the Greek philosopher failed to look beyond physical strength and appreciate the true honor that is written into a woman’s very body.
In her essay, “Praise of receptivity” von Hildebrand reminded the reader that God didn’t create one sex superior to another, but rather He made them complementary, “enriching one another.” However, she notes that while Adam was made “from the slime of the earth” Eve was brought forth from Adam, “a fact which gives the female body a special dignity.”
Will anyone remember the words I’ve pounded out on a keyboard years after I die? Most likely not. But will my children, who I’ve offered my body up for four times over, give thanks for their lives and offer up a little prayer for me? I certainly hope so.
When I told my now 5-year-old that I was writing an article about a friend of mine who had recently died, she sincerely asked, “So, is she a saint now?”
“I think so,” I told her. “She spent her life teaching others the truth about God.”
Alice von Hildebrand, pray for us.
Posted on 01/19/2022 22:30 PM (CNA Daily News)
Washington D.C., Jan 19, 2022 / 14:30 pm (CNA).
The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a case which observers believe could present a significant challenge to Roe v. Wade, the court’s 1973 decision which legalized abortion nationwide.
But even if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, abortions will almost certainly continue in the U.S.— at least in certain states.
While the nation awaits the court’s ruling— which could come at any time until roughly the end of June— numerous states are taking legislative action to codify abortion rights, while other states are doing the opposite, creating a potential patchwork of abortion laws throughout the country.
What are the trends? Which states are moving in a pro-life direction, and which in a pro-choice direction? Check out the map above and see where your home state falls.
More detailed information on each state, and links to coverage by CNA and other outlets, is listed below.
Information is up-to-date as of Jan. 19, 2022.
Alabama has a “trigger law” that would ban almost all abortions if Roe v Wade were to be overturned, as well as a total ban passed in 2019, which is currently blocked in court.
A group of 23 Republican lawmakers have prefiled a bill (HB 23) that would implement a Texas-style heartbeat abortion ban, enforced by private lawsuits.
The Alaska State Supreme Court found a "right to abortion" in 1997. Alaska law requires the "informed consent" of a patient before they have an abortion, meaning that their doctor must discuss with them the physical and emotional risks involved in abortion before they obtain one. Both pro-life and pro-choice advocates in Alaska has discussed the possibility of asking voters in Nov. 2022 to call a constitutional convention, which only happens once every 10 years.
Arizona has a ban on abortion that predates Roe v Wade and is currently unenforceable. Arizona also has laws that prohibit abortions done solely because of a nonlethal genetic abnormality, such as Down syndrome. The state also prohibits race and sex-selective abortions.
Abortion rights enshrined in law since 1969. California has a parental consent law for minors seeking abortions on the books, but the law is permanently enjoined by court order, meaning minors in California can seek abortions without their parents’ knowledge or permission. California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a pair of bills Sept. 22 that relate to privacy surrounding abortion.
Senate Bill 245, introduced in 2022 by Sen. Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), would put an end to out-of-pocket costs paid by those seeking abortions. The state already requires abortions to be covered by health insurance.
The Reproductive Health Equity Act is set to be introduced in the Colorado General Assembly in 2022. Its sponsors say the act will ensure every individual has the fundamental right to choose or refuse contraception; every individual who becomes pregnant has a fundamental right to choose to continue a pregnancy and give birth or to have an abortion; and a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights under the laws of Colorado.
Abortion protected under state law.
Abortion protected under state law.
Lawmakers in Florida have introduced a 15-week abortion ban for the state, which is currently unenforceable due to Roe v. Wade.
The pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List praised the effort and urged the bill’s passage.
“We urge the Florida Legislature to swiftly pass and send to Governor DeSantis’s desk this groundbreaking pro-life legislation that would finally end brutal late-term abortions in the Sunshine State,” said Sue Liebel, SBA List State Policy Director, on Jan. 11.
“Abortions after 15 weeks are gruesome and inhumane for unborn children and increasingly dangerous for the mother with every passing week.”
According to SBA, Florida has the third highest number of late term abortions among states that report them.
Heartbeat ban. Pro-life lawmakers in Georgia are preparing to introduce legislation to prevent the abortion pill from being prescribed through telemedicine and prevent it from being delivered by mail.
Abortion protected under state law.
22-week ban, abortion pill reversal notification law (blocked)
Heartbeat ban (unenforceable); State Supreme Court has found a "right to abortion."
Abortion is allowed under a state Supreme Court ruling; in Aug. 2022, Kansans will vote on an amendment to the state's constitution to exclude a "right to abortion" and reserve the right to regulate abortion in the state to the legislature.
Abortion protected under state law.
Abortion protected under state law since 1992. Montgomery County Del. Ariana Kelly (D), a former executive director at NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland, has said that she will be introducing legislation to expand abortion access in the state.
State Supreme Court has found a "right to abortion." A bill currently in the state's Joint Committee on Public Health would force public universities to provide medication abortion services at student health centers.
Abortion advocacy groups in Michigan have launched a ballot initiative to override a state abortion ban— which is currently unenforced— by way of a constitutional amendment. The state’s Catholic Conference said the effort shows the power of the abortion industry in influencing state policy.
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan and the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan are two of the organizations sponsoring the ballot drive. Organizers of the ballot initiative need about 425,000 valid voter signatures to put it before the electorate in November, the AP reports.
Michigan is one of several states with an abortion law on the books which is currently unenforceable due to Roe v. Wade. A 1931 Michigan state law makes it a felony for anyone to provide an abortion unless "necessary to preserve the life of such woman."
“More than anything, women considering an abortion deserve support, love, and compassion. For decades, abortion has been touted as the only option, harmless and easy, yet we know this is a lie. Abortion hurts women,” Rebecca Mastee, Policy Advocate for the Michigan Catholic Conference, said Jan. 7.
“Today’s news that some are looking to enshrine abortion in the state constitution is a sad commentary on the outsized and harmful role the abortion industry plays in our politics and our society. We look forward to standing with women through a potential statewide ballot campaign to promote a culture of life and good health for both moms and unborn children.”
State Supreme Court has found a "right to abortion."
Pre-Roe ban, Trigger law, dilation and evacuation abortion ban, heartbeat law. Mississippi's 15-week ban is currently being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court.
House Bill 1854, introduced Jan. 2022, would defund Planned Parenthood. State Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, R-Arnold, in 2022 introduced a Texas-style heartbeat ban.
State Supreme Court has found a "right to abortion." Abortion restricted after viability; other restrictions, such as requirement that only doctors perform abortions, are enjoined by court order.
Right to abortion enshrined in state law since 1990.
New 24-week limit took effect in 2022. For this year, legislation has been introduced to repeal the state's 24-week limit and ultrasound mandate; a bill to protect the conscience rights of healthcare workers who object to abortion, sterilization, or artificial contraception; a bill to allow biological father to seek a court injunction to stop a mother having an abortion; and a heartbeat ban.
Bill S49/A6260, which was introduced Jan. 6, codifies a “fundamental right to reproductive autonomy, which includes the right to contraception, the right to terminate a pregnancy, and the right to carry a pregnancy to term.”
A “right to abortion” already existed in New Jersey because of state Supreme Court rulings. Proponents of the bill say the legislation is necessary to protect abortion in the state if Roe v. Wade were overturned.
The bill passed by both houses of the New Jersey state legislature the afternoon of Jan. 10 was vigorously opposed by the state’s Catholic conference. Gov. Phil Murphy signed the bill into law Jan. 13.
The 2019 Reproductive Health Act eliminated restrictions on abortion until the moment of birth in cases deemed necessary for the mother’s "life and health."
20-week ban. Heartbeat bill introduced.
Abortion fully protected under state law.
24-week-limit; abortion not explicitly protected under state law.
Abortion protected under state law. The Equality in Abortion Coverage Act seeks to repeal a law prohibiting insurance coverage for state employees and Medicaid recipients seeking abortions.
Heartbeat ban. Introduced in 2022, House Bill 4568 and its counterpart Senate Bill 907 would require “the disclosure of medical information" about abortion pill reversal. Other legislative efforts are underway to make adoption easier and less expensive in the state.
Trigger law as well as numerous other current restrictions on abortion such as a waiting period.
Abortion protected under state law. The Vermont House of Representatives is due to begin debate on an amendment to enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution, which would require voter approval in the fall.
Abortion not explicitly protected under state law. Several abortion expansions enacted in 2021, including the allowing of abortion coverage to be included without limits in health plans on the state exchange, meaning that taxpayers would be funding abortions under the law.
Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin has suggested he may be open to a 20-week ban.
Abortion protected under state law.
Pre-Roe ban, but Wisconsin’s Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul has said he will not enforce a ban on abortions if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
Restricts abortion after viability - abortion not protected under state law. Some have speculated that Republican lawmakers may introduce a Texas-style heartbeat ban.
Abortion fully protected under law.
Posted on 01/19/2022 22:17 PM (CNA Daily News)
Denver Newsroom, Jan 19, 2022 / 14:17 pm (CNA).
A Catholic health care system in Wisconsin is no longer including race as a factor in determining a patient’s eligibility for COVID-19 treatments.
SSM Health and its affiliates use a risk scoring calculator to determine a patient’s eligibility for COVID-19 treatments including monoclonal antibodies.
A previous version of the calculator boosted the scores of nonwhite or Hispanic patients, making them more likely to be prioritized for treatments that have become increasingly scarce amid a surge in omicron cases. Monoclonal antibody treatments are in particularly short supply because some versions of the treatment are reportedly ineffective against the omicron variant.
The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty questioned the inclusion of race in the calculator in a Jan. 14 letter to SSM Health’s president and CEO. SSM Health responded that the calculator was updated to no longer include race, though it is unclear when that happened.
“While early versions of risk calculators across the nation appropriately included race and gender criteria based on initial outcomes, SSM Health has continued to evaluate and update our protocols weekly to reflect the most up-to-date clinical evidence available,” SSM Health said in a statement. “As a result, race and gender criteria are no longer utilized.”
Other factors included in the calculator include age, gender, and preexisting health conditions.
Healthcare providers under the umbrella of the Minnesota Resource Allocation Program were also factoring in race in determining patient eligibility for COVID-19 treatments. The policy was reversed on Jan. 12, the same day a conservative advocacy group threatened to sue Minnesota.
New state policy prioritizes treatment for people who are immunocompromised or pregnant.
Both healthcare systems were following a directive from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to prioritize race in the administration of COVID-19 treatments.
Some studies suggest racial minorities are at higher risk of being hospitalized for COVID-19. But conservative leaders have argued that it is unjust and illegal to discriminate against patients based on race.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) decried the practice in a Jan. 11 letter to the Acting Commissioner of the FDA.
“While our nation should seek to better understand and address real disparities that exist in health outcomes, that important work is a far cry from the rationing of vital medicines based on race and ethnicity,” Rubio wrote. “Rationing life-saving drug treatments based on race and ethnicity is racist and un-American. There is no other way to put it.”
Rubio suggested appropriate factors include age and preexisting conditions.
“Medical research has long documented that many of these comorbidities disproportionately impact people of color,” he wrote. “Therefore, by prioritizing an individuals’ medical history, healthcare providers would ensure racial minorities at highest risk of disease, including all other high-risk patients, can receive these life-saving drugs.”
Posted on 01/19/2022 21:00 PM (CNA Daily News)
Vatican City, Jan 19, 2022 / 13:00 pm (CNA).
Pope Francis appointed an apostolic visitor on Wednesday for Eritrean Catholics in the United States and Canada.
The pope named Father Tesfaldet Tekie Tsada, chaplain of the Eritrean community of Los Angeles, on Jan. 19 as apostolic visitor of Eritrean Catholics of the Alexandrian Ge’ez Rite in the two countries.
The Vatican announced on the same day that the pope had chosen an apostolic visitor for Eritrean Catholics in Europe: Msgr. Kesete Ghebreyohannes Weldegebriel, protosyncellus of the Archeparchy of Asmara, the metropolitan see of the Eritrean Catholic Church.
The move follows the pope’s decision in January 2020 to appoint an apostolic visitor for Ethiopian Catholics in Europe and name an apostolic visitor for Ethiopian Catholics in the U.S. and Canada in July of that year.
In the Latin Rite Church, an apostolic visitor refers to officials who perform a short-term mission on behalf of the pope. But in the Eastern Catholic Churches, an apostolic visitor often has a long-term role supervising communities which do not yet have their own ordinary.
The Eritrean Catholic Church is one of the 23 Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See. It has an estimated 168,000 members and is based in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, but also has diaspora communities around the world.
Eritrea is a northeast African country with a population of 6 million that borders Ethiopia, Sudan, and Djibouti. In 2019, the government nationalized schools and hospitals run by the Catholic Church.
Eritrea gained independence from its larger neighbor Ethiopia in 1991 following a decades-long war.
The Eritrean Catholic Church traces its roots to apostolic times and uses the ancient Ge’ez language in its liturgies, which are celebrated according to the Alexandrian Rite, associated with St. Mark the Evangelist.
Pope Francis agreed in 2015 to formally separate the Eritrean Catholic Church from the Ethiopian Catholic Church, establishing it as a sui iuris (“of one’s own right”) metropolitan church, with Asmara as its metropolitan see.
Posted on 01/19/2022 20:00 PM (CNA Daily News)
Rome Newsroom, Jan 19, 2022 / 12:00 pm (CNA).
This year marks the 100th anniversary of Edith Stein’s baptism in the Catholic Church.
The city where the philosopher turned saint was born has launched a Year of Edith Stein to celebrate the life and legacy of the woman who was martyred at Auschwitz.
Stein was born in 1891 into a Jewish family in what is now Wrocław, southwestern Poland. The city was then known as Breslau and located in the German Empire.
After declaring herself to be an atheist at the age of 20, she went on to earn a doctorate in philosophy.
She decided to convert to Catholicism after spending a night reading the autobiography of the 16th-century Carmelite nun St. Teresa of Avila while staying at a friend’s house in 1921.
“When I had finished the book,” she later recalled. “I said to myself: This is the truth.”
Stein was baptized on Jan. 1, 1922, at the age of 30. She took the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross when she became a novice Carmelite nun 12 years later.
Wrocław Auxiliary Bishop Jacek Kiciński inaugurated the year on Jan. 9, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, in the parish church where Stein used to come to pray.
“We look today at St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Edith Stein. One hundred years ago she was baptized and 100 years ago she was immersed in the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ,” Kiciński said.
“Coming out of the baptismal waters, she took very strongly to heart the words from today’s Gospel: ‘This is my beloved Son, listen to him.’”
Ten years after Stein entered the Carmelite convent, she was arrested along with her sister Rosa, who had also become a Catholic, and the members of her religious community.
She had just finished writing a study of St. John of the Cross entitled “The Science of the Cross.”
To mark the year, the city council of Wrocław has also set up an exhibit in the Edith Stein House, the saint’s family home which is now a conference center and a space for interreligious dialogue.
Posted on 01/19/2022 18:15 PM (CNA Daily News)
Vatican City, Jan 19, 2022 / 10:15 am (CNA).
A website overseen by the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican has linked to a group campaigning for women’s ordination.
In a post dated Jan. 15, the Synodresources.org website shared information about the Women’s Ordination Conference organization, based in Washington, D.C.
Thierry Bonaventura, communication manager of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, told CNA on Jan. 19 that the website was not promoting the group.
“I would rather speak of ‘sharing,’ as the title of the website,” he said.
Bonaventura pointed out that the “About” section of Synodresources.org emphasizes that the website is “a tool for listening and a platform for sharing that does not replace the official website of Synod 2021-2023 (synod.va).”
“Rather than vertical, top-down communication, it aims to be horizontal communication,” it says.
The website was previously at the center of controversy after it linked to an LGBT outreach ministry.
Officials at the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops removed the link to New Ways Ministry after they became aware that the U.S. bishops’ conference expressed its disapproval of the organization in 2010.
But following an outcry, they restored the link and issued an apology.
Synodresources.org also links to the Latin-American Rainbow Catholic community, part of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, which says that it “brings together groups and their members who work for pastoral care and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people and their families.”
The Women’s Ordination Conference, founded in 1975, describes itself as “the oldest and largest organization working to ordain women as deacons, priests, and bishops.”
In his 1994 apostolic letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis, Pope John Paul II wrote that “the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”
During an in-flight press conference in 2016, Pope Francis was asked whether there were likely to be women priests in the Catholic Church in the next few decades.
“As for the ordination of women in the Catholic Church, the last clear word was given by St. John Paul II, and this holds,” he replied.
The pope has asked two commissions to study the question of a female diaconate in the Catholic Church.
The first, established in 2016, examined the historic issue of the role of deaconesses in the early Church but did not reach a consensus.
He instituted a second commission in 2020, following discussion of the female diaconate during the 2019 Amazon synod.
Pope Francis changed Church law in January 2021 so that women can be formally instituted to the lay ministries of lector and acolyte.
The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, a permanent institution based at the Vatican and dedicated to serving the Synod, is currently overseeing what has been called one of the largest consultation exercises in human history, ahead of the 2023 Synod on Synodality.
A vademecum, or handbook, released in September 2021 urged dioceses to include “all the baptized” in the process, including those on the margins of Church life.
It said: “Special care should be taken to involve those persons who may risk being excluded: women, the handicapped, refugees, migrants, the elderly, people who live in poverty, Catholics who rarely or never practice their faith, etc.”
A disclaimer on the homepage of Synodresources.org says: “The publication of any contribution should not be understood as an endorsement of its content; nor should anyone interpret such a publication as an act of formal recognition by the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops of the group or community submitting the contribution.”
A pop-up window explains that anyone can send material to the site, but not all contributions will be accepted.
It says: “The current synodal process is addressed to the entire People of God, to all the baptized. In chapter 2.1 of the Vademecum, we urged dioceses to involve people at risk of exclusion (women, migrants, the elderly or Catholics who rarely or never practice their faith).”
“At the same time, in order to participate fully in the act of discernment, it is important for the baptized to listen to the voices of other people in their local context, including those who have abandoned the practice of the faith, people from other faith traditions, people who have no religious beliefs at all.”
“Therefore, anyone is entitled to send material. At the same time, because we firmly believe that the experience of faith is and must be communitarian, we will only accept contributions that express the views of a group clearly identified. We regret that individual submissions will not be considered.”
The Vatican announced in May 2021 that the Synod on Synodality would open with a diocesan phase starting in October that year.
A second, continental phase will take place from September 2022 to March 2023.
The third, universal phase will begin with the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, dedicated to the theme “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” at the Vatican in October 2023.
Posted on 01/19/2022 17:52 PM (CNA Daily News)
Denver Newsroom, Jan 19, 2022 / 09:52 am (CNA).
The Religious Freedom Institute on Tuesday launched a committee to support political candidates who defend the free exercise of religion for all.
The National Committee for Religious Freedom describes itself as a non-partisan organization that will support “any candidate from any political party who supports religious freedom, and oppose any candidate of any political party who does not.”
As part of the Jan. 19 launch, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chair of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ committee on religious freedom, hailed the committee’s creation, while lamenting the fact that the “first freedom” of religious liberty is “surely one of the last freedoms to get a committee to safeguard it.”
Dolan recently spoke out against attacks on houses of worship and religious art, saying such attacks are akin to attacking the community who prays there.
Sam Brownback, a Catholic and a former U.S. ambassador-at-large for religious freedom, said the founders of the group are “increasingly concerned with declining religious freedom here at home” and the “exponential” effect that has overseas. He said the committee plans to run educational campaigns and assess candidates’ positions on religious freedom; create voter guides; and ask candidates to sign a pledge to support religious freedom.
Though the founders of the committee— who represent a wide range of religions— don’t agree on all points of theology, Brownback praised the fact that the group was able to come together to support the right of all Americans to “peacefully practice their faith, as is guaranteed by the First Amendment.”
Robert George, a Catholic intellectual and former chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom , spoke during during the launch and noted that the committee stands ready to defend the religious freedom of all people, not just Christians.
“What we don’t want is religious freedom for me, but not for thee,” he noted.
A legal group known for representing religious believers in court said late last year that support for religious freedom in America has reached a three year high.
Posted on 01/19/2022 16:05 PM (CNA Daily News)
Vatican City, Jan 19, 2022 / 08:05 am (CNA).
Pope Francis offered prayers for the people of Tonga on Wednesday as its islands recover from tsunami damage caused by a massive underwater volcanic eruption.
“My thoughts go out to the people of the islands of Tonga, who have been affected in recent days by the eruption of the underwater volcano, which has caused enormous material damage,” Pope Francis said at the end of his general audience on Jan. 19.
“I am spiritually close to all the afflicted people, imploring God for relief for their suffering. I invite everyone to join me in praying for these brothers and sisters.”
Seen in satellite images from space, scientists have called the volcanic blast in the South Pacific on Jan. 15 the largest eruption in the world in three decades.
Some of the archipelago’s outlying islands were hit by 49-foot-high waves which destroyed homes, the Associated Press reported on Jan. 19.
Communications from Tonga were cut off after the eruption. Reuters has reported at least three known deaths from the tsunami waves.
Caritas Australia, a Catholic charity, is working to contact its partners in Tonga to assess the situation on the ground.
“The volcanic ash is hampering emergency flights into the country and the damage to telecommunications infrastructure has made it difficult to get in contact with affected communities,” the charity wrote on its website.
“There are fears that the volcanic ash and saltwater inundation from the tsunami waves may contaminate drinking water and threaten the health and safety of vulnerable communities.”
The Polynesian country has a Catholic cardinal. Cardinal Soane Patita Paini Mafi, 60, was born in Tonga’s largest island and currently lives in its capital city, Nukuʻalofa.
Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane wrote on social media that he had sent a message of prayerful solidarity to Cardinal Mafi on behalf of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
“Our congregations will be praying for Tonga today,” Coleridge said on Jan. 16.