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US bishops welcome emergency resettlement of Afghans

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Washington D.C., Aug 2, 2021 / 15:00 pm (CNA).

Leading U.S. bishops on Friday welcomed Afghan nationals to the United States who had assisted the United States’ military, diplomatic, and humanitarian operations in Afghanistan.

As part of the official withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, the United States expedited the immigration process for certain Afghan nationals and their families who had helped the U.S. forces, diplomatic corps, and government humanitarian personnel in the country. Afghans assisted as translators and interpreters, or provided security and transportation.

The first flight of nationals from Afghanistan with Special Immigrant Visas, as part of the expedited process, arrived in the United States on Friday.

“We are proud to have the opportunity to welcome and assist those who have kept Americans safe in Afghanistan,” stated Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, and Bishop Mario Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chair of the U.S. bishops’ migration committee, in a joint statement on Friday.

“By working with the United States, each of these individuals have put their lives and those of their family and friends at risk,” the bishops stated. “As they now leave everything behind to begin new lives here, the many sacrifices they’ve made should not go unacknowledged.”

Earlier in July, President Biden announced a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan that was planned to conclude by August 31. As part of that announcement, Biden said his administration would work to expedite the immigration process for certain Afghani nationals who had helped the United States’ operation in Afghanistan as interpreters and translators.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) stated that it would be involved in helping resettle the nationals.

“The Catholic Church teaches that each person is created in the image and likeness of God and that we must uphold the inherent dignity of every person,” Archbishop Gomez and Bishop Dorsonville stated.

The bishops quoted Pope Francis’ call to welcome migrants and refugees, as “an invitation to overcome our fears so as to encounter the other, to welcome, to know and to acknowledge him or her.”

On Monday, a senior State Department official told reporters that the agency would also be granting “Priority 2” or “P-2” designation to certain Afghan nationals for the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. The designation would be reserved for those who assisted or worked for the U.S. government, U.S. forces, or government programs in Afghanistan, but who were not eligible for a Special Immigrant Visa.

Afghan members of a U.S.-based media or non-governmental organization could also be eligible for a P-2 designation.

Special Immigrant Visas were granted to Iraqi and Afghan nationals, their spouses and children following since the 2006 authorization of a humanitarian program by Congress to help resettle Afghans who had assisted U.S. efforts in Afghanistan. The USCCB says it helped the U.S. government resettle some of the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa holders, of the more than 73,000 who ultimately received the visas.

For Afghans who were in the final stages of the Special Immigrant Visa process, the United States announced on July 14 they would receive an emergency relocation. A bipartisan emergency supplemental appropriations bill passed by Congress on July 29 also authorized an additional 8,000 visas for the Special Immigrant Visa program.

NFP expert: Natural Family Planning ‘empowers’ Catholic couples with fertility knowledge 

Unsplash (CC0 1.0).

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Aug 2, 2021 / 14:57 pm (CNA).

Natural Family Planning (NFP) “empowers” women with “extremely valuable” information about their bodies, according to a Catholic OB/GYN and NaProTechnology surgeon. Dr. Naomi Whittaker listed the medical benefits it offers during EWTN Pro-Life Weekly on July 29.


Last week, the U.S. bishops promoted Natural Family Planning Awareness Week. The week began on the 53rd anniversary of Pope St. Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae encyclical, which emphasizes the beauty of human sexuality and warns against the dangers of contraception. NFP methods cooperate with this teaching by allowing couples to plan their families by charting the fertile and infertile phases of a woman’s cycle after observing a variety of physical symptoms, such as basal body temperature.

According to Whittaker, NFP is “empowering women and couples with the knowledge of their fertility and their cycle.” She called this knowledge “extremely valuable” and stressed that it “can be used in multiple ways.”

NFP can help couples avoid pregnancy instead of birth control methods or devices that pose risks and side effects, she said. But NFP is also “totally unique” in that it can also be used to achieve pregnancy, Whittaker said. 

Whittaker added that NFP enables women to become active participants in their health care.

“A woman’s educated on what’s normal, what’s abnormal, and how to plot this down” or track “this data scientifically,” Dr. Whittaker said. “When she sees something’s abnormal, she’s able to bring this information to a doctor” and “be proactive.” This can even help couples who suffer from infertility.

Whittaker stressed that her NFP patients “often know more about the menstrual cycle than many doctors.” 

As a NaProTechnology surgeon, Whittaker explained how she works with her patients’ NFP charts.

“I’m trained to interpret this NFP data that women collect and I use this to understand women’s health issues,” she said. “And sometimes the treatment does include surgery.”

She told viewers that they can “think of this as plastic surgery of the pelvis.” 

“NaProTechnology surgery treats the underlying condition to restore health, instead of masking symptoms with birth control, for example,” she emphasized.

On a more personal note, she said she first encountered NFP “the hard way.”

“When I was young, I had shame and resentment of my cycles and fertility and I ended up on the pill,” she revealed. When she learned about NFP, “everything changed.” 

The “science is really what brought me into this and opened my eyes to the beauty of fertility,” she said.

She called the timing providential.

“God timed this in a pivotal moment in my life when I was in the middle of medical school,” she said. “And it changed my entire career path, to pursue NaProTechnology.” 

She felt called to “give the incredible gift of fertility appreciation and healing to women to empower them.”

Motherhood only strengthened her conviction, she said.

“This coincided with my path to becoming a mother,” she said. “And then my becoming a mother led me to become even more passionate, to help give that gift of motherhood to other women.” 

For more information about NFP, go to the U.S. bishops web page, or Whittaker’s Instagram, which offers additional resources for couples who are interested.

Recently CNA Newsroom podcast spoke to Catholic couples dealing with infertility. Listen to the episode here:

NY archdiocese warns priests not to grant religious vaccine exemptions

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Washington D.C., Aug 2, 2021 / 13:30 pm (CNA).

The Archdiocese of New York has instructed priests not to grant religious exemptions for COVID-19 vaccines, saying that doing so would contradict the pope.

“There is no basis for a priest to issue a religious exemption to the vaccine,” stated a July 30 memo from the archdiocese’s chancellor, John P. Cahill, to all pastors, administrators, and parochial vicars in the archdiocese.

“Pope Francis has made it very clear that it is morally acceptable to take any of the vaccines and said we have the moral responsibility to get vaccinated. Cardinal Dolan has said the same,” the memo stated.

By issuing a religious exemption to the vaccine, a priest would be “acting in contradiction to the directives of the Pope and is participating in an act that could have serious consequences to others,” the memo stated.

A screenshot of the memo was circulated on social media this weekend. CNA confirmed the memo’s accuracy with the archdiocese and with a priest of the archdiocese on Monday.

In a television interview in January, Pope Francis said, “I believe that, ethically, everyone has to get the vaccine.” In a December 2020 note, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated that “vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation” and “therefore, it must be voluntary.” The Vatican congregation acknowledged “reasons of conscience” for those refusing a vaccine.

Vaccine mandates have begun to be announced at places of employment in the United States. The Catholic health care network Ascension will mandate coronavirus vaccination for employees, physicians, volunteers, and vendors, although it has promised some health-related and religious exemptions.

Some Catholic institutions have stated their support for conscience exemptions to vaccine mandates, or have provided materials for individuals with religious objections to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. The National Catholic Bioethics Center lists a form letter on its website for individual Catholics seeking religious exemptions from vaccine mandates.

“The Roman Catholic Church teaches that a person may be required to refuse a medical intervention, including a vaccination, if his or her informed conscience comes to this sure judgment,” the letter states, adding that the Church “does not prohibit the use of any vaccine, and generally encourages the use of safe and effective vaccines as a way of safeguarding personal and public health.”

The Catholic Medical Association, a national network of Catholic doctors and health care workers, stated on July 28 that it “opposes mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations as a condition of employment without conscience or religious exemptions.”

The New York archdiocese’s memo began by acknowledging the “sincere moral objection” of some individuals to receiving COVID-19 vaccines, “due to their connection to abortion.”

“This concern is particularly acute among people who are strongly pro-life and very loyal to the teaching of the faith,” the memo stated.

The archdiocese further stated, “Any individual is free to exercise discretion on getting the vaccine based upon his or her own beliefs without seeking the inaccurate portrayal of Church instructions.”

Priests, however, “should not be active participants to such actions” by granting religious exemptions, the memo stated.

“Imagine a student receiving a religious [vaccine] exemption, contracting the virus and spreading it throughout the campus. Clearly this would be an embarrassment to the archdiocese. Some even argue that it might impose personal liability on the priest,” the memo said.

Currently, three vaccines have been given an emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration – those produced by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. While all three vaccines were tested on cell lines derived from elective abortions decades ago, only one of the vaccines – Johnson & Johnson – was directly produced using the controversial cell lines.

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has stated that the use of the vaccines with connections to the questionable cell lines is “morally acceptable,” but that Catholics should seek “ethically irreproachable Covid-19 vaccines” when available.

In its December 2020 note, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith further stated that vaccination must not be mandatory.

“Those who, however, for reasons of conscience, refuse vaccines produced with cell lines from aborted fetuses, must do their utmost to avoid, by other prophylactic means and appropriate behavior, becoming vehicles for the transmission of the infectious agent,” the congregation stated.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has stated that all three vaccines approved for use in the United States are “morally acceptable” for use.

“[I]f one can choose among equally safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, the vaccine with the least connection to abortion-derived cell lines should be chosen,” the USCCB said in March. “Therefore, if one has the ability to choose a vaccine, Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccines should be chosen over Johnson & Johnson’s.”

Body of Tennessee priest on path to canonization reburied in basilica

Fr. Patrick Ryan. Public domain.

Knoxville, Tenn., Aug 2, 2021 / 13:20 pm (CNA).

The body of Servant of God Patrick Ryan, a Tennessee priest who died in 1878 caring for victims of the Chattanooga’s yellow fever epidemic, were moved and reinterred at the city’s Saints Peter and Paul Basilica over the weekend. 

During a yellow fever epidemic in 1878, some 80% of Chattanooga residents fled the city. Father Ryan stayed to minister to the sick, dying of yellow fever himself Sept. 28, 1878. 

Bishop Richard Stika of Knoxville, who opened Father Ryan’s sainthood cause in 2016, celebrated a memorial Mass and presided over Father Ryan’s entombment July 31. 

“There is no greater gift than to give your life for your friends,” Bishop Stika said, as reported by the Chattanoogan. 

“Father Ryan did indeed give his life for his friends, friends that were Catholic, and friends that were not Catholic...His memory is still strong today.”

The procession from the cemetery where Father Ryan was interred to the basilica was mainly done with Ryan’s casket in a hearse, switching to a walking procession with bagpipes near the basilica. 

Father Ryan was buried in a cemetery near the basilica following his death in September 1878, and less than a decade later in 1886 his remains were moved, with a horse and buggy procession, to the then-new Mount Olivet Cemetery about six miles away. 

The diocese requested that Fr. Ryan be exhumed in part to confirm that he was a real person and not a “pious legend.” There is strong evidence pointing to the priest’s existence, like letters between clergymen and newspaper clippings.

Hamilton County officials approved Father Ryan’s exhumation in early 2019. When his casket was opened, beside his body were found vestments, a scapular, and a wooden crucifix.

Servant of God Patrick Ryan was born in 1845 near Nenagh in County Tipperary, Ireland. His family was forced to emigrate to the United States after suffering eviction from their home, and they settled in New York.

Father Ryan studied the priesthood at St. Vincent’s College in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. In 1869, he was ordained in Nashville. Later, he was sent to Chattanooga, where he opened the town’s oldest private school.

During the city’s yellow fever epidemic, an eyewitness said that the priest would go “from house to house in the worst-infected section of the city to find what he could do for the sick and needy,” according to a biography of Fr. Ryan on the website of Saints Peter and Paul Basilica.

Since 2016, the diocese’s historical commission on Fr. Ryan's cause for canonization has been investigating his life, with a view toward evaluating his possible beatification and canonization.

The tribunal held its first session of inquiry Sept. 28, 2020. There, Deacon Sean Smith chancellor of the Diocese of Knoxville, presented various documents required to proceed, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ vote on the cause’s advisability and the declaration from the Holy See that nothing obstructed the cause. 

Father David Carter, pastor and rector of Saints Peter and Paul, said the committee of inquiry will send its research on to Rome, in hopes the Church will declare him venerable before Christmas, the Chattanoogan reported. 

 

Father Carter said the committee has not yet interviewed anyone who has claimed to have received a miracle through Father Ryan’s intercession. At least one miracle is required before a person can be declared blessed.

Retired Albany bishop admits returning accused priests to ministry without notifying law enforcement

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Albany / Matt H. Wade via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Washington D.C., Aug 1, 2021 / 09:01 am (CNA).

The bishop emeritus of Albany says that the diocese once handled allegations of sexual abuse against priests without notifying law enforcement, returning accused priests to ministry following treatment.

In a statement provided to the Albany Times-Union and reported on Saturday, the Bishop Emeritus Howard Hubbard of Albany said that as a practice in the 1970s and 1980s, the diocese would handle abuse allegations against priests by sending them to counseling and treatment rather than notifying law enforcement.

Priests with allegations would be returned to ministry upon the approval of a “licensed psychologist or psychiatrist,” Hubbard said.

“When an allegation of sexual misconduct against a priest was received in the 1970s and 1980s, the common practice in the Albany diocese and elsewhere was to remove the priest from ministry temporarily and send him for counseling and treatment,” Hubbard said, reported in the Times-Union.

“Only when a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist determined the priest was capable of returning to ministry without reoffending did we consider placing the priest back in ministry,” he added. “The professional advice we received was well-intended but flawed, and I deeply regret that we followed it.”

Bishop Hubbard led the diocese from 1977 until 2014, when he was succeeded by current Bishop Edward Scharfenberger. Hubbard currently faces a Vos Estis investigation, a Vatican-ordered investigation into allegations that he committed sexual abuse. The 2019 document Vos Estis lux Mundi contained Pope Francis’ norms for investigating allegations of episcopal misconduct.

An anonymous plaintiff in March filed a lawsuit against Hubbard, alleging that Hubbard molested him in 1977, soon after his installation as bishop. The lawsuit named the diocese as well as St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church in Clifton Park, New York.

The diocesan communications director told CNA at the time of the lawsuit that Hubbard maintained he had never abused a child.

Hubbard’s statement to the Times-Union came in response to an investigation by the newspaper, which reported a pattern of priests with abuse allegations being removed from ministry for treatment, only to be reinstated to active ministry without law enforcement being notified. Some of those priests allegedly went on to commit abuse once back in active ministry.

In one case, a woman testified in a deposition before diocesan attorneys that her nephew had been abused by a priest of the diocese around 1983. Her nephew killed himself, she recalled, and she subsequently contacted the diocese and reached Bishop Hubbard. The bishop allegedly told her he was aware of the alleged abuse, and that the priest in question was “being sent to New Mexico where they have more respect for priests.” 

In 2019, New York’s Child Victims Act went into effect, creating a temporary time window for new civil lawsuits to be filed in old cases of child sex abuse when the statute of limitations had already expired. The time window expires on Aug. 14, 2021.

So far, several New York dioceses have been named in hundreds of abuse lawsuits; according to a tally by a private law firm, the Albany diocese had been named in 266 lawsuits under the act as of April.

Hubbard himself has been named in several lawsuits under the act, including one which accused him of sexually abusing a 16-year-old boy in the 1990s.

The diocese on Friday also released a statement regarding abuse accusations under the Child Victims Act that were made against a retired priest of the diocese.

“In light of allegations of sexual abuse that were first reported in a Child Victims Act (CVA) case, Father John ‘Jack’ Varno, a retired priest in the Diocese of Albany who serves as a sacramental minister in several parishes, has voluntarily withdrawn from public ministry while the case moves forward,” the diocese stated on July 30.

“While on leave, Father Varno will not publicly officiate at sacraments, wear clerical garb, or present himself as a priest.”

Updated: Catholics ask Cardinal Gregory to reconsider cancelation of Tridentine Mass at National Shrine

Cardinal Raymond Burke celebrates a pontifical high Mass during the Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage in Rome on Oct. 25, 2014. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Washington D.C., Jul 31, 2021 / 14:30 pm (CNA).

This story has been updated.

The organizers of an Aug. 14 Tridentine Mass in Washington, D.C. – canceled per new papal restrictions on traditional liturgies - asked the Archbishop of Washington this week to reinstate the Mass. In response, Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington reaffirmed his original decision to rescind permission for the Mass.

On Tuesday evening, CNA reported that a solemn pontifical Mass scheduled for Aug. 14 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. had been cancelled, after Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington withdrew his permission for the Mass.

On July 29, the Paulus Institute, which organized the Mass, wrote to Cardinal Gregory asking him to reinstate the scheduled Mass by Monday, Aug. 2, “in the interests of the unity of the universal Church.”

“The cancellation of the Mass, so long planned and prepared, is a violation of fundamental justice, because it is an arbitrary action not motivated by any urgency,” the group stated. “The Catholic faithful should not be subjected to penalties for unused travel reservations caused by an unworthy cancellation of the Mass.”

Following CNA’s initial report on Saturday, the Paulus Institute shared with CNA a letter from Cardinal Gregory dated July 30 reaffirming his decision to withhold permission for the Mass.

“I acknowledge that my decision to implement the newest motu proprio Traditionis custodes of Pope Francis has received initial attention both in support and in opposition,” the cardinal wrote. He cited the document’s grant of “exclusive competence” to diocesan bishops to authorize Latin Masses according to the 1962 Roman Missal in their respective dioceses.

The Aug. 14 Mass at the National Shrine, he said, “may be celebrated in Latin according to the Roman Missal promulgated by Saint Paul VI and revised by Saint John Paul II.” Cardinal Gregory stated his “regret” that his decision “has been a source of disappointment.”

The Archdiocese of Washington did not respond to CNA’s request for comment on Saturday afternoon.

According to the institute, Cardinal Gregory’s decision to rescind his permission for the Mass was per the pope’s new motu proprio restricting traditional liturgies, Traditionis custodes. Archbishop Thomas Gullickson, the retired papal nuncio to Switzerland, was to celebrate the Mass.

Regarding the  request to Gregory to reinstate the Mass, Archbishop Gullickson “has reviewed this letter and has agreed,” the Paulus Institute said on July 29.

A pontifical Mass is celebrated by a bishop in the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite. The Mass at the National Shrine was scheduled for the vigil of the Solemnity of the Assumption, and was to be broadcast by EWTN.

Traditionis custodes, issued on July 16 and effective immediately, recognized the “exclusive competence” of bishops to authorize the Traditional Latin Mass in their respective dioceses. Bishops are to determine places in their dioceses where the faithful may gather for the Latin Mass – but the locations may not be parochial churches, the document stated.

In a July 16 letter to priests following the release of the document, Cardinal Gregory said he would “prayerfully reflect” on the pope’s letter “in the coming weeks,” in order “to ensure we understand fully the Holy Father's intentions and consider carefully how they are realized in the Archdiocese of Washington.”

"In the interim, I hereby grant the faculty to those who celebrate the Mass using the liturgical books issued before 1970 to continue to do so this weekend and in the days to come, until further guidance is forthcoming,” he stated.

Bishops around the United States have responded to the motu proprio in the last two weeks, with many of them granting temporary permission for priests who already celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass to continue doing so. Some bishops have granted canonical dispensations for parish churches from the papal restrictions on Latin Mass locations.

On July 27, the Paulus Institute reported that Cardinal Gregory’s permission for the Tridentine Mass at the National Shrine had been withdrawn per Traditionis custodes.

Although the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is located within the territorial bounds of the Archdiocese of Washington, it is not a diocesan church. Archbishop Wilton Gregory, as Washington archbishop, is ex officio chairman of the shrine’s board of directors.

Pope Francis’ letter accompanying his motu proprio stated that liberalizations in the use of the Traditional Latin Mass had been “exploited” to promote disunity within the Church.

“I am nonetheless saddened that the instrumental use of Missale Romanum of 1962 is often characterized by a rejection not only of the liturgical reform, but of the Vatican Council II itself, claiming, with unfounded and unsustainable assertions, that it betrayed the Tradition and the ‘true Church’,” Pope Francis wrote.  

In its July 29 letter, the Paulus Institute – which had organized previous pontifical Masses in 2010 and 2018 at the shrine – denied that such division had been a part of the celebrations.

“None of the allegations of disunity and division presented in Traditionis Custodes and in the accompanying letter to bishops can rightfully be said to apply to this pontifical Mass,” the letter stated.

Citing the Second Vatican Council’s constitution on the sacred liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, the institute said that “the Usus Antiquior, is a millennial treasure of the sacred Deposit of the Faith—and as such is a right enjoyed by entitlement by the Catholic faithful.

This story was updated on July 31 with Cardinal Gregory's July 30 letter.

Theodore McCarrick faces new civil sex abuse lawsuit

Theodore McCarrick / U.S. Institute of Peace / CC BY NC 2.0

Washington D.C., Jul 31, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

Former cardinal Theodore McCarrick now faces a fifth civil sex abuse lawsuit in New Jersey, after he was criminally charged in a Massachusetts district court this week for sexually assaulting a teenage boy.

On Thursday, a lawsuit was filed in a New Jersey court accusing McCarrick of sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy in 1986, NorthJersey.com first reported. The civil lawsuit was filed on behalf of the plaintiff by Jeffrey Anderson, a prominent attorney who represents sex abuse victims.

McCarrick's attorney Barry Coburn told CNA in a statement on Saturday, "We will look forward to addressing this case in the courtroom."

The new lawsuit follows McCarrick’s first criminal charges, which were filed on Wednesday by Wellesley, Massachusetts police in the state’s Dedham District Court. That complaint included three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over the age of 14, alleged to have been committed against a 16-year-old male in 1974.

McCarrick, now 91, is scheduled to appear in the Massachusetts court for his arraignment, to formally answer the charges, on Sept. 3. He was the first U.S. cardinal to be criminally charged with sex abuse of a minor.

In 2018, he became the most notable Church figure at the center of sex abuse allegations. In June of that year, the Archdiocese of New York announced that an allegation of sexual abuse against McCarrick from nearly 50 years prior was found to be “credible and substantiated.” The New York Times later reported accusations of McCarrick’s having sexually abused two boys decades earlier, while he was a priest.

More reports then surfaced of McCarrick’s abuse, grooming, and harassment of seminarians from over the decades, and McCarrick resigned from the College of Cardinals in July 2018. Pope Francis sentenced him to a life of prayer and penance that month following the public allegations.

The pope laicized McCarrick in February 2019 after the Vatican conducted an expedited investigation and found him guilty of “solicitation in the Sacrament of Confession, and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power.”

According to the lawsuit filed Thursday in New Jersey, McCarrick sexually abused a boy in 1986, while he was “an agent and representative of Defendant Archdiocese of Newark.”

McCarrick was installed as Archbishop of Newark on July 25, 1986. He had served in New Jersey as Bishop of Metuchen since 1981, and before that as auxiliary bishop of the neighboring New York archdiocese since 1977.

A summary of the criminal complaint against McCarrick this week in Massachusetts alleged that he abused the victim in several states – in New Jersey, New York, California, and Massachusetts.

In an allegation shared in the summary report – from which the criminal charges stem –  McCarrick sexually assaulted the then-16-year-old victim at his brother’s wedding reception at Wellesley College. Immediately following the alleged abuse, McCarrick instructed the victim to say prayers “so god can redeem you of your sins.”

The criminal sex abuse charges were the first to be filed against McCarrick. Although allegations of sexual abuse and harassment against him were made public in 2018, he had not yet been charged criminally due to the statutes of limitations in states where he was alleged to have committed abuse.

Some states, including New York and New Jersey, have since 2018 begun suspending the statutes of limitations for civil lawsuits in old cases of child sex abuse; stricter time limits still apply to criminal cases of sex abuse, however.

As McCarrick was not a Massachusetts resident, however, and left the state before the statute of limitations expired, the time limits for criminal charges of sex abuse to be filed did not apply in his case.

After the time window opened in New Jersey for new civil lawsuits in old cases of child sex abuse, two lawsuits naming McCarrick and New Jersey dioceses were promptly filed in state courts in December 2019. The two lawsuits alleged that McCarrick sexually assaulted two males while he served as bishop of Metuchen and archbishop of Newark; McCarrick allegedly committed some acts of abuse at cathedral rectories, according to the lawsuits.

One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuits was James Grein, who said he was abused by McCarrick, a family friend, beginning at age 11 while McCarrick was a priest in the New York archdiocese. The abuse allegedly continued while McCarrick bishop of Metuchen and archbishop of Newark. Grein was also the subject of a July 2018 New York Times story that published his decades-old abuse allegations against McCarrick.

In a canonical deposition by the Archdiocese of New York in December of 2018, Grein reportedly said that McCarrick abused him during confession.

In another lawsuit filed against McCarrick in 2020, Jeffrey Anderson alleged that McCarrick sexually abused a boy and aided his abuse by several other priests and characterized McCarrick as leading a “sex ring.”

After he was sentenced to a life of prayer and penance in 2018, McCarrick resided at St. Fidelis Friary in Victoria, Kansas, of the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Conrad. In January 2020, he was reported to have moved to an undisclosed location on his own accord.

The criminal complaint filed this week listed his residence at an address matching that of the Vianney Renewal Center in Dittmer, Missouri. The center is a treatment facility run by the Servants of the Paraclete, which, according to its website, provides "a safe and supportive environment for the rehabilitation and reconciliation of priests and religious brothers."

This article was updated on July 31 with a statement from McCarrick's attorney.

Mother Angelica's monastery elects new abbess, asks for 'continued prayers'

The newly elected Abbess and Council of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Hanceville, Ala., July 2021. Credit: Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration.

Birmingham, Ala., Jul 30, 2021 / 17:01 pm (CNA).

Mother Mary Paschal has been elected the newest abbess of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Hanceville, Alabama, filling the role once held by EWTN foundress Mother Angelica.

 

“It is with overwhelming gratitude to Our Eucharistic Lord for His great goodness, and to you who have assisted us in countless ways these past years, that we ask for your continued prayers,” the monastery said in the announcement of Mother Mary Paschal’s election. “Please pray for each of us at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, that the Holy Spirit may overshadow and guide us as we begin this new chapter and continue anew in this venture of faith and adoration.”

 

Alongside the new abbess, Sister Mary Jacinta was elected vicar and three other nuns were elected councilors on July 29. Bishop Steven Raica of Birmingham was present to witness the election.

 

The monastery is an autonomous Poor Clares of the Perpetual Adoration monastery. The cloistered nuns elect their abbess and council from among their sisters every three years.

 

The monastery was founded by Mother Angelica and several other founding sisters from Sancta Clara Monastery in Canton, Ohio. It was dedicated May 20, 1962. Our Lady of the Angels will mark its feast day Aug. 2.

 

“With our Holy Father Francis, Holy Mother Clare and all our Franciscan brothers and sisters in heaven, we return great thanks for our vocation and call, to live according to the Gospel, in continual thanksgiving and adoration to Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament,” the monastery said.

 

Mother Angelica launched Eternal Word Television Network Aug. 15, 1981, as a new missionary endeavor. Her media apostolate has grown to become the largest Catholic media network in the world.

 

The monastery was originally at EWTN headquarters in Irondale. Mother Angelica moved it to Hanceville.

 

She died at the monastery in Hanceville March 27, 2016.

 

The monastery is adjacent to the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, which was dedicated in 1999.

 

Some nuns from the monastery have been sent to their mother monastery in Ohio and to the Poor Clares’ cradle monastery in Troyes, France, the monastery website said. The community has made new foundations in Tonopah, Ariz., and San Antonio.

‘Abortion is not health care’: Members of Congress speak out against proposed abortion billing rule

lazyllama/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jul 30, 2021 / 16:02 pm (CNA).

More than 25 Republican senators wrote to the Biden administration this week warning that a proposed rule would allow federal dollars to subsidize abortion coverage.

“Abortion is not health care, and American taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize it,” the senators said in the letter. The members included Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.), chair of the Senate Pro-Life Caucus. 

Under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, insurance providers of “qualified health plans” [QHP] on the exchanges had to collect separate premium payments for elective abortion coverage, to ensure federal subsidies did not pay for abortions. The rule was meant to implement the Hyde Amendment, federal policy since 1976 which prohibits funding of abortions in Medicaid.

However, a 2014 Government Accountability Office report found that many insurers were not properly separating billing of abortion coverage from coverage of other drugs and procedures in the plans. 

In 2019, the Trump administration required health plans under the Affordable Care Act to have separate billing and separate accounts for elective abortion coverage premiums. Three federal courts halted the rule from going into effect.

The proposed rule-change of the Biden administration would allow abortion coverage to be billed together with other items, in insurance plans on exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. The new proposed rule, published on July 1, would require only a single bill and payment of federally-covered services, including abortion coverage. 

Some pro-life leaders have warned for years of the possibility of federal dollars subsidizing abortion coverage in these plans, if the billing is not done separately.

“The Biden administration’s proposed rule would prop the door wide open for Obamacare insurance plans to use taxpayer funds to cover abortions—a move that violates federal law,” said Matt Bowman, senior counsel with the legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, on Wednesday.  

“In construing ‘separate’ to mean ‘together,’ the Proposed Rule would illegally allow insurance companies to collect combined payments for elective abortion coverage, rather than separate payments as the law requires,” the senators said. 

The senators noted that this rule would “undermine consumer transparency” and could potentially result in consumers “pay(ing) for abortions in violation of their consciences or religious beliefs.”

The senators accused the rule of being an attempt to “increase taxpayer funding for abortion on demand, to the financial benefit of Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry.” 

Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest chain of abortion providers. 

“Separate billing requirements for healthcare plans are the best way to ensure that popular laws preventing tax-funded elective abortion are respected,” Bowman said.

The other senators who signed the July 28 letter were: Senators Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), John Thune (R-S.D.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), and Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.).

 

Thank God ahead of time: What Blessed Solanus Casey teaches about a spirituality of gratitude

Blessed Solanus Casey. Photo courtesy of the Capuchin Franciscan Order of St. Joseph in Detroit.

Detroit, Mich., Jul 30, 2021 / 15:19 pm (CNA).

Blessed Solanus Casey's childhood was not easy. He contracted diphtheria that permanently damaged his voice. Casey’s family also struggled economically since he was one of sixteen children. Despite these struggles, Casey’s large Irish Catholic family instilled in him a love for the Catholic faith and a devotion to the rosary.

After bad harvests, Casey left home at 17 to find work. He took on many jobs, including a lumberjack, a prison guard, and a streetcar conductor, during which he witnessed a murder, causing him to rethink his life. 

Instead of sinking into despair at the sight of such an awful scene, Casey decided to give his life in service to others as a priest. He struggled academically and he joined the Capuchins, where he was ordained a simplex priest, meaning he could say Mass, but could not preach publicly or hear confessions. 

While others might feel it beneath their dignity to serve as a doorman, Solanus Casey accepted his position humbly and gratefully.  Solanus Casey tended to those he met at the door of the monastery with gentleness. Fr. Carlo Calloni, the general postulator for the Order of Friars Minor-Capuchin, said, “There was no one, after visiting Solanus Casey at the door of the monastery, who returned with nothing. Everyone received something, spiritual or material.” Casey realized that everything he had came from God, so he directed everything he had in praise of God  through love of neighbor. 

Casey viewed gratitude as an essential human quality. He said, “Gratitude is the first sign of a thinking, rational creature; ingratitude leads to so many breaks with God and our neighbor.” 

Gratitude gave him a cheerfulness and joy that ran through everything he did, even though he suffered illnesses. For example, Solanus Casey loved to play violin, but was not good at it. So as not to disturb the other friars, he would play his violin in front of the Blessed Sacrament, out of joy and gratitude. 

Solanus Casey’s gratitude to God and faith in him manifested itself in many miracles, including one with ice cream. According to Fr. Tom Nguyen, OFM Cap., a friar in Detroit, Casey put two ice cream cones in his desk drawer to save them for later. When another brother returned from an appointment, Casey pulled out not just two ice cream cones, but three, all frozen still and ready to eat. 

Casey’s mantra “Thank God ahead of time” shone in his advice to people. Fr. Joseph Mary Elder, OFM Cap. recounted a story. In 1940, the Fanning parents from Dearborn, Michigan, came to Fr. Solanus Casey worried about the health of their daughter Elizabeth, who was sick with leukemia. Fr. Solanus urged them to thank God for all the good he had done and was sure to do for them and their daughter. A few days later, Elizabeth was completely healed from her leukemia.