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Pro-life group says new poll demonstrates support for 15-week abortion ban

Ultrasound scan of 15 week-old baby / Allo4e4ka/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jun 7, 2021 / 13:01 pm (CNA).

A national pro-life group says that its new poll of likely voters demonstrates support for a 15-week abortion ban.

The survey of likely voters, conducted by OnMessage Inc. and released on Monday by the Susan B. Anthony List, revealed that a majority voters were “more likely” to support restrictions on abortions after 15 weeks once they learned that unborn babies at that age can feel pain, have beating hearts, and can move around in the womb.

“The majority of voters reject late-term abortion and the Democratic candidates who shamefully advocate for it,” stated Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, on Monday.

“At 15 weeks, unborn children can feel pain, and most European countries limit abortions at this point. There is strong support among the American people for our nation’s laws to finally catch up with science and international norms,” she said.

Among the poll’s key findings, 55% of likely voters said they were “more likely” to support a 15-week abortion ban once they learned the unborn child has the capacity to feel pain at that age.

Of those surveyed, 53% said they would be “more likely” to support such a law if they knew the unborn child has a beating heart at that age, and can perform certain movements including thumb-sucking and closing fingers.

The survey was conducted from May 25-27 via telephone, and asked questions of likely general election voters. It was led by long-time Republican pollster Wes Anderson.

The poll was released after the Supreme Court agreed to hear a critical abortion case involving Mississippi’s ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the court is considering the question, “Whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortion are unconstitutional.” Oral arguments in the case are expected in the fall.

Some legal experts have said that the case presents the greatest chance in decades to substantially alter or reverse the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

In the Roe decision, the court established “viability,” or the age the unborn child is determined to be able to survive outside the womb, as the cutoff point for when states could ban abortions or enact strict regulations.

Professor Gerard Bradley, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame, wrote in the National Catholic Register that the court’s decision to accept the case signals a willingness by the justices to establish a new line for when abortions can be banned.

“The court will instead almost certainly hold that some ‘pre-viability’ prohibitions of abortion are constitutionally permissible, including Mississippi’s 15-week line of separation,” Bradley wrote.

Toronto archbishop responds to papal apology requests for Church-run school abuses

Cardinal Thomas Collins / Daniel Abel/cc 2.0

Washington D.C., Jun 7, 2021 / 10:01 am (CNA).

The Archbishop of Toronto last week responded to requests for a papal apology over abuses at Canadian Catholic-run schools for First Nations and other Indigenous children.

A papal apology would need to happen on a papal visit to Canada, said Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto on June 3. This would require “a number of steps from both government and church leadership as well as significant logistical, financial commitments and other considerations,” he said. The cardinal issued a written statement and responses to “frequently asked questions” on the matter of the Catholic-run residential schools.

The pope has already called on individual bishops to continue the process of reconciliation in their own dioceses, he added.

“Pope Francis has encouraged the Bishops to continue taking leadership and assuming their proper role in pursuing their pastoral engagement and reconciliation efforts with Indigenous peoples, including ongoing conversations among the Bishops and Elders,” he continued. “This work builds on past apologies, dialogue and the desire to move forward together.”

On the weekend of May 22, the remains of 215 Indigenous children were found in unmarked graves at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, Canada. The discovery was made with ground-penetrating radar. It is unclear how the children died.

The residential school in Kamloops operated from 1890 until 1978, established by the federal government and overseen by Catholics from 1890 until the Oblates of Mary Immaculate ran the school beginning in 1893. In 1969, the government took back control of the school.

The Kamloops school was at one point the largest school in the entire residential school system, which was established in Canada beginning in the 1870s and was overseen by the Catholic Church and Protestant denominations. The last operating residential school closed in 1996.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which operated from 2008 until 2015, reported on a history of abuses in the system. Children from First Nations and other Indigenous communities were separated from their families and placed in the residential schools as a means of forcible assimilation and enculturation, which was meant to strip them of family and cultural ties. An estimated 4,100 to 6,000 First Nations and other Indigenous children died as a result of neglect or abuse in the system, the commission found.

One of the calls of the commission was for a papal apology “to Survivors, their families, and communities for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children in Catholic-run residential schools.”

In a 2017 meeting with the pope, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invited Pope Francis to visit Canada and apologize for the treatment of Indigenous children in the schools.

Pope Francis on Sunday expressed sorrow over the discovery of the unmarked graves at the site of the Kamloops school, and prayed for all children who died in the residential school system, but did not issue a formal apology for the role of the Catholic Church in the schools.

“I join the Canadian bishops and the whole Catholic Church in Canada in expressing my sympathy to the Canadian people, who have been traumatized by the shocking news,” Pope Francis said after the Sunday Angelus in St. Peter’s Square.

“These difficult times are a strong call for all to turn away from the colonizing model, and even the ideological colonisations of today, and walk side by side in dialogue, mutual respect, and recognition of the rights and cultural values of all the daughters and sons of Canada,” he said.

Last week, Prime Minister Trudeau said he was “deeply disappointed” at the lack of a formal apology by the Church, calling on the Church to release all relevant records and saying the government had “tools” to apply if the Church did not release the records, according to the Associated Press.

Appearing on CBC on Sunday, Cardinal Collins called Trudeau’s remarks “extremely unhelpful” and “uninformed,” saying the school’s records are available at the Museum of British Columbia. Other relevant Catholic institutions "should" release their records on the schools if they have not already done so, he added.

Cardinal Collins last week promised to offer his Mass on Sunday, June 6, for the victims of abuses in the school system.

Catholic organizations and leaders have already apologized for the past abuses in the system, he noted, including a formal apology and payments to survivors by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, who operated the Kamloops school for more than seven decades.

“Pope Benedict XVI also had the chance to meet with Indigenous leaders in 2009 to personally express his sorrow and anguish,” he said. After that meeting, Phil Fontaine, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said he hoped the pope’s statement would “close the book” on Church apologies for the schools, according to Cardinal Collins.

“These actions do not erase our history; they acknowledge our past, force us to face the consequences of our behaviour and compel us to ensure that our sins are not repeated,” he said on June 3.

In response to requests for an apology by the Catholic Church in Canada, Cardinal Collins said that “[t]here is no such entity.”

“Each Catholic diocese and religious order is an independent legal entity,” he stated, noting that only 16 of the country’s 70 dioceses “were associated with the former residential schools,” with around three dozen Catholic institutes connected to the schools.

“Each diocese and institute is corporately and legally responsible for its own actions,” he said, noting, “Many of the dioceses or orders operating schools have offered apologies, dating back to the early 1990s.”

The country’s bishops apologized in unison with some religious communities in 1991, for abuses in the residential school system, he said. The president of the Canadian bishops’ conference also issued a statement on May 31 expressing sorrow and a desire for reconciliation after the Kamloops school discovery.

The Archbishop of Vancouver last week apologized to survivors and their families, and committed to “tangible actions.” These actions included transparency with Church records, mental health support, and counseling, and technical and professional assistance with honoring and re-burying the deceased children.

This article was updated on June 7 with additional information.

Perpetual adoration chapel will be a 'spiritual gamechanger' for New York City, priest says

An artist's rendering of the planned adoration chapel in Greenwich Village. Courtesy photo.

New York City, N.Y., Jun 5, 2021 / 06:01 am (CNA).

A perpetual adoration chapel slated to open next spring will bring spiritual healing and revitalization to Manhattan, according to a Dominican priest overseeing the project. 

"This is really a project of the Holy Spirit. There's so many times when it's seemed like we're running into snags and they just work themselves out," Fr. Boniface Endorf, a Dominican friar and pastor of St. Joseph's parish in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, told CNA. 

"It's clear the Holy Spirit is a driving force, and I think this will be a spiritual gamechanger for Greenwich Village and the city of New York, to have a place where you can encounter Jesus Christ." 

Manhattan, one of the most densely populated and influential areas of the entire U.S., currently lacks a perpetual adoration chapel. Last year, Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York asked Fr. Endorf if his parish would be willing to take on the challenge of opening one. 

The new chapel will be constructed in a basement space that the parish is currently using for storage. At present the project is in its last stage of fundraising, with construction set to begin in early fall. The goal is to have the chapel open by Easter 2022. 

Fr. Endorf's catchphrase for the project is "The city that never sleeps deserves a chapel that never closes." 

The location is ideal, Fr. Endorf said, because the area is well-served by public transit. He said St. Joseph parishioners and students from the nearby universities are very excited about the project. 

The neighborhood needs the graces that will come from the chapel, Fr. Endorf said. Greenwich Village is a quieter, more residential neighborhood of Manhattan, but also is known for being artistic and bohemian, and also as a haven for LGBT culture. 

Fr. Endorf said he fully expects the adoration chapel to be a source of grace for vocations among those to visit; to help ordinary Catholics to grow in holiness; to aid in the strengthening of marriages in the neighborhood; and to provide spiritual healing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which hit New York City early, and especially hard. 

In terms of aesthetics, the parish church itself is neoclassical, and the design of the chapel is somewhat romanesque. The theme for the chapel is Divine Mercy, and it will feature a mosaic of the Divine Mercy image above the monstrance.

The main design element is a large wooden rood screen, a feature born partly out of necessity— the screen protects the monstrance from theft— but which will also serve as a large, visible surface on which to place additional artistry and symbolism. 

The chapel will also have choir stalls to allow the faithful to join in with the Dominicans as they pray the liturgy of the hours throughout the day. To keep worshippers safe, the chapel will be secured through a PIN-based or biometric security system, according to the project website. 

Fr. Endorf said that when the chapel opens they plan to pursue locals who can sign up for an adoration slot. But he also hopes that people from across New York, as well as tourists, will take advantage of the chapel as well.

Archbishop Cordileone: We need 'major effort' to 're-catechize' Catholics on the Eucharist

Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore Cordileone / Archdiocese of San Francisco

Washington D.C., Jun 4, 2021 / 16:02 pm (CNA).

The Archbishop of San Francisco said this week there must be a “major effort” to “re-catechize” Catholics on the Eucharist and worthiness to receive Communion.

In an interview which aired on Thursday on EWTN Pro-Life Weekly, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco said that the matter of “Eucharistic coherence” applies to all Catholics, not just Catholic public officials. The bishops are scheduled to discuss the topic at their upcoming spring meeting from June 16-18, and vote on whether or not to begin drafting a teaching document on the Eucharist.

Regarding the worthiness of Catholics to receive Communion – including politicians who publicly support permissive legislation on grave evils such as abortion – “we’ve been debating this and discussing it for a very long time, at least 20 years now,” Archbishop Cordileone said on EWTN Pro-Life Weekly.

“And I remember as a new bishop this issue coming up – and the realization that the problem is our people don’t understand what the act of Communion really means, in that sense of worthiness to receive Holy Communion,” he said.

“So, certainly, Eucharistic coherence applies to every single Catholic,” Cordileone said. “Catholics prominent in public life have an additional responsibility, in terms of the public witness that they give,” he added, “but it applies to all Catholics. So, we do need to have a very major effort in re-catechizing our people about this.”

At their upcoming virtual spring meeting, the U.S. bishops are scheduled to deliberate and vote on whether to begin drafting a document on Eucharistic coherence.

The term “Eucharistic coherence,” used in the 2007 Aparecida document of the Latin American and Caribbean bishops, refers to the “consistency between the way we receive the Holy Eucharist, and the way that we live our life, that we need to be properly disposed to receive the Eucharist,” Cordileone explained.

That document, which then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio contributed to the development of, also noted the role of public officials in defending the sanctity of life on issues such as abortion and euthanasia. When Catholic officials support these and “other grave crimes against life and the family,” they are not to present themselves for Communion, the bishops said in the Aparecida.

Some bishops, led by Cardinal Blasé Cupich of Chicago, wrote Archbishop Gomez in an effort to delay the discussions on the Eucharist by the U.S. bishops. The gravity of the topic requires an in-person deliberation, he argued.

Gomez replied in a May 22 memo that that the agenda item to consider the document on the Eucharist was approved by the conference’s administrative committee, and will occur as planned at the upcoming meeting.

“There will be a debate,” Cordileone confirmed. If the bishops move forward with drafting a document, the Doctrine Committee would write the document, the full text of which would be debated and voted on at the bishops’ fall meeting in November.

“I’m anticipating a vote to go forward with this. I sense among many bishops the even greater sense of urgency on this matter,” Cordileone said.

A special working group was convened by the U.S. bishops’ conference after the election of Joe Biden to the presidency in November. One of the working group’s recommendations was a teaching document on the Eucharist, that would cover both the Church’s teaching on general worthiness to receive Communion, and that would clarify that Catholics in public life have a special responsibility to uphold the Church’s teachings in public.

The topic of Communion, especially for pro-abortion politicians, has been discussed by individual bishops for the last several months since the election of Joe Biden to the presidency.

Both Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Catholics, have promoted policies contrary to Church teaching on life, marriage, and sexuality, including supporting taxpayer-funded abortion.

In 2004, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, saying that a Catholic politician “consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws” was engaged in “manifest” and “formal cooperation” in grave sin.

In such a case, the politician’s “pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist,” Cardinal Ratzinger wrote.

He added that if the official were to persist in such actions and approach to receive Communion, “the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it.”

That 2004 memo was an application of canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law, which says that Catholics “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.”

In March, president of the U.S. bishops, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, wrote the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, informing the congregation that the bishops would be discussing a document on Eucharistic coherence at their spring meeting.

On May 7, Cardinal Luis Ladaria – prefect of the congregation – replied to Gomez in a letter, instructing the bishops what to do if they were to issue any national policy on Communion for Catholic officials who support permissive legislation on grave evils such as abortion. He said that Ratzinger’s 2004 memo on Communion could be used by bishops, but only in light of the Vatican’s 2002 note on Catholic participation in politics and the importance of safeguarding the rights of ordinaries in their local Churches.

Cardinal Ladaria said the bishops must first have “serene” dialogue among themselves to ensure unity on the Church’s teachings, before dialoguing with Catholic public officials.

The dialogue that the Vatican recently requested of the U.S. bishops on the matter of Eucharistic coherence has already been taking place, Archbishop Cordileone told EWTN Pro-Life Weekly.

“Cardinal Ladaria gave some very reasonable advice to the bishops about we do need to have some serene conversations, dialogue about this,” he said, adding, “we’ve been doing that for 20 years.”

“He speaks about a second stage of dialogue of bishops with Catholic politicians. That has been going on, too, in the case of individual bishops and individual politicians,” Cordileone said. “So, we have been doing what he has asked us to do.”

A teaching document by the conference on the Eucharist “is not enough” by itself to ensure Catholics are well-catechized, he said.

“But precisely because of the confusion, a document will help to spell out the Church’s teachings and positions on these issues, and it will be inclusive,” he said. “It’s not focusing only on abortion, it’s not focusing only on politicians.”

Judge dismisses Planned Parenthood challenge to Lubbock's abortion ban

Pro-life prayer outside an abortion clinic. / Diocese of Saginaw.

Lubbock, Texas, Jun 4, 2021 / 15:01 pm (CNA).

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit brought by Planned Parenthood against a Texas city over new pro-life policies, saying Planned Parenthood does not have standing to sue the city. 

Citizens in Lubbock had voted in early May to declare the city a “Sanctuary City for the Unborn,” drawing praise from the Catholic diocese’s bishop. 

The ordinance declares performing or aiding in an abortion unlawful, but will not be enforced by the government until the Supreme Court overturns its 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide, Roe v. Wade, as well as the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling which built on Roe

Private citizens, especially family members of aborted babies, are allowed to bring lawsuits against people or businesses who violate the ordinance by performing or aiding in in abortion; mothers of aborted children are exempt from the penalties under the ordinance. The ordinance took effect June 1. 

Planned Parenthood, which opened an abortion clinic in Lubbock last year, sued to block the ordinance in mid-May, calling it “unconstitutional.” The City of Lubbock said in a statement that it intends to “vigorously defend this ordinance and looks forward to presenting that defense in court.”

On June 1, the federal judge ruled that the ordinance allows for private citizens to sue others for violating the ordinance, rather than relying on the government to enforce the ordinance. As a result, the judge ruled that he could not prevent private parties from filing civil lawsuits in state court, the Texas Tribune reported. 

The enforcement structure inherent to the Lubbock ordinance has not yet been thoroughly tested in the courts, the Texas Tribune noted. A newly-passed Texas state law, which is set to take effect in September, uses a similar method. 

The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported that Lubbock, with a population of more than 250,000, is the largest city to adopt the sanctuary city policy, as well as the first to declare the ban while having an abortion provider within its boundaries. 

Other, smaller cities in Texas have adopted similar ordinances. Planned Parenthood has also attempted to sue those smaller cities, but those lawsuits also have since been dropped. 

The Lubbock ordinance makes it unlawful for any person to procure, perform, aid, or abet an abortion of any type and at any stage of pregnancy. No one can provide transportation to or from an abortion provider, give instructions of any kind regarding self-administered abortion, provide money for an abortion or the costs associated with procuring an abortion, or coerce a pregnant mother to have an abortion against her will. 

The Texas state Senate last month passed a ban on abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, which can occur as early as six weeks into pregnancy. Gov. Greg Abbott signed the measure into law, and it is set to take effect in September. 

The Texas Catholic Conference supported the legislation. A May 3 message from executive director Jennifer Allmon encouraged Catholics in the state to contact their legislators in support of the bill.

The Texas law is already facing several legal challenges. While other states, such as South Carolina, have passed similar “heartbeat” abortion bans, pro-abortion groups have challenged the laws in courts. A federal district court judge in March blocked South Carolina’s law from going into effect.

Boston archdiocese to open first new school in 50 years

Stephen Kiers/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jun 4, 2021 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

The Archdiocese of Boston is planning on opening its first new Catholic school in more than 50 years, featuring a “blended learning” experience of online and in-person instruction. 

Lumen Verum Academy will open this fall with 25 students in grades six through eight, and will eventually expand to add grades nine through 12. The goal is to enroll about 350 to 400 students, WGBH reported.

The school’s name is the Latin term for “true light.”

Unlike a traditional Catholic school, Lumen Verum Academy will feature online instruction for four days a week, with one in-person day on Wednesdays. Another in-person session, on Saturdays, will be optional. The school will have neither a building nor a central classroom. 

Speaking to the outlet WGBH, Thomas Carroll, the superintendent for schools for the Boston archdiocese, said, “There’s literally no other blended learning Catholic school in the country.” When devising the school, he added, “we wanted to create something that didn’t exist.” 

“It’s different than all the other schools,” said Carroll. “If people want a more conventional bricks and mortar school we got a hundred of those.” 

For the coming school year, the school will have two co-principals, five teachers, and two campus ministers. Students will be taught from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., mirroring a normal workday. Students have a one-hour period per day for homework, which, combined with the workday-type schedule, is designed to lend more time in the evenings for sleep.

Carroll said the instruction will feature “Socratic style and small group discussion.” 

One of the school’s co-principals, Craig Dyke, recently told the National Catholic Register that the school aims to meet parents’ requests for education in line with the Church’s magisterium, and with a community of learning and faith. The curriculum is modeled after the classical liberal arts. The doctrinal teachings of the Church will be discussed in classes throughout the curriculum.

The virtual instruction is meant to be “a lot more interactive” for students, he told the Register. The school is planning on teaching with lectures, digital lessons, and virtual guest speakers. 

However, for a “prudent use of technology,” the school's website says it will limit screen time for students to three hours per day during the virtual session days. Half of each time block for classes will include preparation time for the student away from a screen.

The in-person days on Wednesdays - and, optionally, on Saturdays - are meant to foster friendships and a community of learning. Mass or Eucharistic adoration will be included in the schedule. Those days will also feature monthly excursions to historic or educational sites, or to the outdoors, imitating St. John Paul II’s ministry with young adults. 

More than 4,000 students enrolled at archdiocesan Catholic schools last summer after it was announced that Massachusetts’ public schools would not immediately be returning to in-person instruction and would be delaying the start of the school year. The Archdiocese of Boston opened its schools in-person as normal, and experienced “very few” cases of the coronavirus. 

Milwaukee archdiocese refuses 'sealed' records to state abuse investigation

Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Milwaukee / Credit: Sulfur via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Washington D.C., Jun 4, 2021 / 13:30 pm (CNA).

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee is refusing to turn over its records to a state investigation into clergy sex abuse.

On Thursday, the Associated Press reported that the archdiocese refused to turn over its sealed records to the state Department of Justice as part of its investigation into clerical sex abuse. The archdiocese claimed the records were sealed as part of a 2012 bankruptcy case.

In April, Wisconsin attorney general Josh Kaul had announced the launch of an investigation into sexual abuse in the state’s Catholic dioceses and at least three religious orders. He asked representatives of the dioceses to an April 26 online meeting.

Four of the state’s five dioceses, as well as the Jesuits and the Norbertines, have already disclosed the names of priests credibly accused of sex abuse. The Diocese of Superior is gathering its own list with the intent to publish it by the end of the year. In total, 177 priests have been identified as having abused minors.

In response to Kaul’s order, the Milwaukee archdiocese said in April that the Church has already taken the necessary steps to respond to clerical sex abuse – including publishing the names of the credibly accused priests.

On Wednesday, June 1, the attorney for the archdiocese Frank LoCoco sent a letter to Kaul informing him that the archdiocese believed the investigation was unlawful. The full letter was reported by Wisconsin Public Radio.

LoCoco proposed an “alternative pathway.” If a living priest in the archdiocese were accused over the state’s toll-free abuse hotline, “then that information should of course be forwarded immediately to the District Attorney for the county in which the abuse allegedly occurred,” the letter stated.

“Moreover, if you provide that information to us,” he wrote to Kaul, then the archdiocese “will promptly provide access to any available information to your office and to the applicable District Attorney so that the applicable District Attorney can undertake a thorough criminal investigation and make an informed charging decision.”  

Some of the archdiocesan records are under seal due to previous bankruptcy court proceedings, the letter said. While lawyers for some of the survivors had filed a motion in bankruptcy court to unseal some archdiocesan records, survivors had the option of filing claims on the public docket or under seal.

“Fewer than 5% of the claimants, a total of 28, filed their Proofs of Claim on the public docket,” the letter stated. “The remaining claims were filed under seal based on the Bankruptcy Court protections. Even today, these proofs of claim remain under seal and cannot be made public as required by the final, non-appealable order of the Bankruptcy Court.”

In a June 1 email to Catholics in the archdiocese, Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee said the archdiocese would cooperate with any “proper” state investigation, including providing records related to any living priest accused of abuse – as outlined in the letter to Kaul’s office.

“While the Archdiocese has done a lot, we can and should do more, and that includes cooperating with the Attorney General in any proper inquiry he might undertake,” Archbishop Listecki said.

“As such, we will once again voluntarily provide access to documents and information on any living individual against whom a new allegation is made.  This is already our practice and, if there are any new prosecutable crimes, the Church will offer its assistance,” he said.

He expressed “significant doubt that the Attorney General has the legal authority to conduct such an investigation,” and added that the archdiocese has “legitimate concerns that his inquiry is directly targeting only the Catholic Church.”

“We believe we have offered a way to provide what the Attorney General has requested while continuing to walk with survivors, maintaining the Church’s rights and avoiding unnecessary expense,” he said.

Majority of US adults support death penalty

The lethal injection chamber at San Quentin State Prison. / California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0).

Washington D.C., Jun 4, 2021 / 10:34 am (CNA).

A majority of U.S. adults still support the administration of capital punishment, according to a June 2 Pew Research Center report. 

The report referred to a survey taken in April that was conducted online using the Center’s American Trends Panel, which concluded about six-in-ten U.S. adults favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder.

Majority support for the death penalty gradually rises with an increase of the age of respondents. The most supportive of the death penalty are adults ages 50 to 64 with 69% in favor. 

The least supportive aged group are those respondents ages 18 to 29 with 51% approval. The age groups of 39 to 49, and 65 and older both showed about six-in-ten favoring use of the death penalty. 

While the Church teaches that capital punishment is not intrinsically evil, both Pope Francis and his immediate predecessors have condemned the practice in the West.

Regarding the execution of criminals, the Catechism of the Council of Trent taught that by its “legal and judicious exercise” civil authorities “punish the guilty and protect the innocent.”

St. John Paul II called on Christians to be “unconditionally pro-life” and said that “the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil.” He also spoke of his desire for a consensus to end the death penalty, which he called “cruel and unnecessary.”

And Benedict XVI exhorted world leaders to make “every effort to eliminate the death penalty” and told Catholics that ending capital punishment was an essential part of “conforming penal law both to the human dignity of prisoners and the effective maintenance of public order.”

In August 2018, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a new draft of the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s paragraph regarding capital punishment.

Quoting Pope Francis’ words in a speech of Oct. 11, 2017, the new paragraph states, in part, that “the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that ‘the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,’ and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.”

Reasons for changing the teaching, the paragraph says, include: the increasing effectiveness of detention systems, growing understanding of the unchanging dignity of the person, and leaving open the possibility of conversion.

Fr. Thomas Petri, O.P., a moral theologian at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., told CNA at the time that he thinks this change “further absolutizes the pastoral conclusion made by John Paul II.”

“Nothing in the new wording of paragraph 2267 suggests the death penalty is intrinsically evil. Indeed, nothing could suggest that because it would contradict the firm teaching of the Church,” Fr. Petri continued.

Catholic group denied permit for St. Pio chapel sues Michigan town

St. Pio of Pietrelcina / Alexey Gotovskiy/CNA

Washington D.C., Jun 4, 2021 / 07:58 am (CNA).

A Catholic organization is suing a Michigan township after it was denied permission to build a chapel and prayer trail dedicated to St. Pio of Pietrelcina on land it already acquired.

The group, Catholic Healthcare International (CHI), is alleging that Genoa Township, located in Livingston County, Michigan, is violating its First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The group had wished to build a 95-seat chapel, along with a Stations of the Cross path and an image of Santa Maria delle Grazie, on land that they acquired from the Diocese of Lansing. 

The township board rejected Catholic Healthcare International’s plans by a 5-2 vote on May 3. 

The American Freedom Law Center filed the lawsuit on behalf of CHI. Robert Muise, the center’s co-founder and senior counsel, said in a statement that places of worship, “such as CHI’s proposed St. Pio Chapel and prayer campus, hold a special place in America.” 

“The Township’s rejection of our clients’ right to religious worship on CHI’s private property is not in keeping with our proud tradition of accommodating people of faith, and, in fact, it violates our clients’ fundamental rights protected by the United States and Michigan Constitutions and federal statutory law,” Muise stated.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on June 2, the proposed chapel, parking spaces, and prayer trail did not violate any of the township’s zoning laws. The Stations of the Cross, the suit claims, would not be visible from the street. 

The suit claims that CHI only planned on developing about five acres of the 40-acre property, and that efforts would be made to preserve the “peaceful, rural nature” of the area. 

“The Township’s denial of the Final Submission was not based on any measurable, objective criteria,” the lawsuit stated, alleging that it was instead “based upon amorphous, subjective considerations that were contrary to the facts and which permit an anti-religious/anti-Catholic animus to drive the Township’s decision.” 

According to the Livingston Daily, several residents had complained about more traffic coming to the area if the chapel were to be built. “I think it's a wonderful project,” the town’s treasurer Robin Hunt said, as reported by the Daily. “I just think it's in the completely wrong area. This location is not a good fit for this.”

The group also said that the construction of the chapel and prayer trail was “essential” to its work and mission.

“CHI’s objective is to be a model of Christian healthcare delivery and medical education based on the ‘Work’ of St. Padre Pio: a ‘Clinic for the Soul’ for all in need; and to provide training and support to professionals of existing and developing hospitals, healthcare systems, medical schools, clinics, and physician practices desiring to participate in the fullness of its ministry,” the lawsuit stated. 

“In the example of St. Padre Pio, this work is first built upon an extensive foundation of prayer by faithful Catholic supporters. Accordingly, prayer is an essential part of—indeed, it is the very foundation for—the important work of CHI. Accordingly, the construction of the St. Pio Chapel and prayer campus, as set forth in this Complaint, is essential to the work of CHI.”

Archbishop Chaput: Some Catholic bishops were “too compliant” with pandemic restrictions

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia speaks to members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Region III during their �ad Limina Apostolorum� visit, at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, on Nov. 27, 2019. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Washington D.C., Jun 3, 2021 / 19:00 pm (CNA).

The Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia last week said that some Catholic bishops were “too compliant” with state and local restrictions on churches during the recent pandemic.

“If you don’t reach out to people who are lonely and suffering and dying in a time like the pandemic, then you’re not being the Church, and that’s very, very bad for everyone involved,” retired Archbishop Charles Chaput said last Friday on Fox News' streaming service, Fox Nation. 

Chaput was interviewed by Tucker Carlson last Friday on his new book Things Worth Dying For: Thoughts on a Life Worth Living. He said that some Church leaders fought to keep their churches open amid state and local pandemic restrictions, but added that other Catholic bishops were “too compliant.”

The archbishop said that he was sympathetic to the situation of bishops and other Church leaders, because it is an essential part of Christianity to be “cooperative” in order to serve the common good.

“But as time went on and leaders saw the effect of this on their churches, it seems to me they should have been more insistent on being available to the people who needed their care,” he said in the May 28 interview. 

Chaput, who retired as Archbishop of Philadelphia last year, authored his new book which was published on March 16, 2021 by Henry Holt and Co. 

In a March interview with CNA, he explained that his book focuses on death as a key to living a good life. 

“What we’re willing to die for reveals what we’re willing to live for, the things we really hold as sacred -- not just with our words, but with our hearts,” he told CNA. He said that “a good death can only be had as the fruit of a good life, a life lived with integrity and right purpose.”

Chaput served as Archbishop of Philadelphia for more than eight years, and before that, served for 14 years as Archbishop of Denver. He was born in Kansas in 1944, entered the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin in 1965, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1970. Chaput was ordained bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota in 1988, before being appointed to the Denver archdiocese in 1997.

He is only the second Native American to be ordained bishop in the United States, and is a member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribe.

Chaput’s interview on Tucker Carlson Today covered topics related to his book, including life, death, the pandemic, and his own childhood. 

While discussing his upbringing near a funeral home - Chaput’s father was a mortician - he mentioned that one consequence of cremation can be a lack of reflection on death and the meaning of life. “When the body is not present there is much less reverence to death,” he said. 

Responding to those who avoid thinking about death, Chaput said, “it probably makes people more anxious to think about dying and that’s why they pretend they’re not going to die.”

“They don’t want to think about what happens after this life,” he said.

When asked about pandemic-related restrictions of the last year, Chaput responded that “It’s inhuman to wear a mask and to be isolated,” while noting that masks are “a necessary thing to a certain point.”

Regarding the effect that church closures and the suspension of public Masses may have had on the faithful, he said, “We’re beginning to discover that many people discovered that they don’t need to go to church,” adding, “but they did not feel any different not going than when they went.”

Carlson asked Chaput if he thought political leaders used the pandemic to undermine Christianity, by putting harsher restrictions on churches than other establishments.

“I don’t know that these political leaders deliberately set about to destroy the Church. But it’s obvious that they didn’t think church attendance was very important or otherwise they wouldn’t have done that,” Chaput said.

Naming marijuana dispensaries as an example of an industry which received more favorable treatment than churches, Chaput said that when bishops realized their churches were being treated worse than other segments of society, they should have fought for equal treatment.

Carlson asked Chaput about his early activism within the Democratic Party, namely his participation in the campaigns of Bobby Kennedy and former President Jimmy Carter.

Chaput said that his work on both campaigns was motivated by his desire to see moral men in positions of political power.

“As I got older I began to see that there was no integrity in the Democrat party in terms of the values that were really important to me, and oftentimes not in the Republican party either,” he said.