News

Wooden church- an 'ephemeral cathedral' could go up as Notre-Dame is restored
Paris, France, Apr 19, 2019 / 08:02 am (CNA).- After a massive fire gutted the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris April 15, the cathedral’s rector says a temporary wooden church might soon be constructed in the esplanade, or plaza, adjacent to the cathedral. Monsignor Patrick Chauvet told France’s CNews April 18 that he was exploring plans to build an “ephemeral cathedral” adjacent to Notre Dame, where cleanup and construction are expected to begin soon. Mass would be celebrated and confessions offered at the temporary structure, Chauvet suggested, adding that Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo is a supporter of the idea. "We mustn't say 'the cathedral is closed for five years' and that's it," Chauvet said Thursday. There is no formal estimate yet for how long the cathedral restoration will take. While France’s President Emmanuel Macron has said that he would like to see restoration completed within five years, experts say that possibility is extremely unlikely. Nearly one billion euro have been pledged to the restoration effort. While the images of the cathedral’ exterior suggested nearly total devastation after the fire, inside the cathedral’s vaulted stone ceiling mostly held, and protected many of the cathedral's religious and historical treasures from the flames. The cathedral’s famed rose windows, its bell towers and massive bells, and its organ were all intact after the fire. The Church’s most important religious items were spared from the fire: the Eucharist, and relics of Christ’s crown of thorns and cross were saved during the fire.  
Pro-lifers join Good Friday prayers to abortion clinic witness
Chicago, Ill., Apr 19, 2019 / 06:01 am (CNA).- A pro-life group is coordinating ecumenical Good Friday services and Ways of the Cross outside of abortion clinics in more than 30 states, saying it is a fitting time to pray for unborn victims, their mothers, and clinic workers affected by abortion. “There’s no better day to remember the victims of abortion than Good Friday, when we remember the suffering and execution of Jesus Christ, an innocent man who preached the value of every single human life,” Eric Scheidler, director of the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League, said April 17. Pro-life Christians have scheduled Way of the Cross services outside nearly 100 abortion clinics in more than 30 states, according to the Pro-Life Action League. It lists locations of these services on its website. The league has coordinated the Good Friday prayer services since 2014 and expects thousands to attend this year. The group’s website includes a guide on how to host a Way of the Cross for Victims of Abortion, aiming for a broad Christian audience. “Though the devotion of the Stations of the Cross has Catholic roots, the service we conduct is completely ecumenical,” the guide says. “People of every denomination join us each year and there is no material in the book that would be offensive to non-Catholics.” The Pro-Life Action League asks participating groups to report the time, date and location of their services for listing on the league’s website. “As a society, we've become increasingly sensitive to the victims of injustice, and that’s to our credit,” said Scheidler. “But we forget about the victims of abortion, starting with the more than 60 million unborn children who have lost their lives to legal abortion in the United States since 1973.” The millions of women who regret their abortions are also victimized, he said, as are some abortion clinic staff. He charged that abortion provider Planned Parenthood exploited sincere desires to help women, as with former clinic director Abby Johnson whose story is depicted in the movie “Unplanned.” The Pro-Life Action League was founded by Joe Scheidler in 1980. Its activities include public protest, sidewalk counseling, and youth outreach.
Pope Francis urges inmates to be at service to one another
Holy Father washes feet of prisoners at men’s jail on the outskirts of Rome
Holy Week terrorism suspect arrested
Moroccan national suspected of planning an attack during Holy Week celebrations in Seville
Cardinal Tobin: Catechism language ‘very unfortunate’ on homosexuality
'Let’s hope that eventually that language is a little less hurtful,' cardinal tells NBC
Apr. 19 Good Friday, Triduum
"It is accomplished; and bowing his head he gave up his spirit." We adore Thee, O Christ, and we praise Thee. Because by Thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world.
Holy Week terrorism suspect arrested
Seville, Spain, Apr 18, 2019 / 07:00 pm (CNA).- Authorities from Spain and Morocco have arrested a 23 year old man in Rabat, Morocco, who is suspected of planning an attack  during Holy Week celebrations in the Spanish city of Seville. According to Spanish federal police, Spain’s National Intelligence Center and the Moroccan secret service, 23-year-old Zouhair el Bouhdidi was planning detonate explosives during Holy Week processions in Seville, the city in which he lived. The arrest took place after the Spanish authorities informed the Moroccans that el Bouhdidi had traveled to Morocco, allegedly in preparation for the attack, according to Spanish newspaper El Confidencial. The police searched his Seville residence April 17. The Islamic State had called for attacks during Holy Week in Spain in a video broadcast on propaganda channels. The video encouraged ISIS followers or supporters to act in the name of “holy war,” and  showed images of processions on the streets of Valencia and Malaga alongside scenes in which pedestrians are mowed down by vehicles. The Spanish Interior Minister had reinforced security details beginning last week because of the Holy Week celebrations and the upcoming elections. Seville’s Holy Week processions have widely recognized for their beauty, and they annually attract throngs of tourists.  This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.  
Taoiseach admits ‘exclusion zones’ legislation running into legal ‘difficulties’
The Taoiseach confirmed that the proposed new law on the issue of exclusion zones outside abortion facilities was running into legal difficulties regarding constitutional rights to ‘free speech’ and ‘peaceful protest.’ Responding to Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly in the Dáil on Tuesday, Leo Varadkar said: “We are running into real difficulties around restricting peaceful protest and restricting free speech.” The Taoiseach also conceded that in placing a ban on peaceful protest “we do enter a difficult space in a democracy when you decide that certain opinions can’t be held, certain types of protests can’t happen.” The Taoiseach continued: “In a democracy, if you’re going to restrict free speech and if you’re going to restrict the right to protest, you need to be on very solid ground.” Commenting on the Taoiseach’s remarks, Pro Life Campaign spokesperson, Maeve O’Hanlon said: “It is time for the Minister for Health and others to stop demonising the pro-life movement by misrepresenting the kind of protests that are taking place against abortion and instead face up to the reality that the right to peaceful and reasonable protest against the new law should not be criminalised.”
Oklahoma advances abortion drug reversal bill. Is it well-founded?
Oklahoma City, Okla., Apr 18, 2019 / 06:01 pm (CNA).- Oklahoma legislators have passed a bill requiring physicians to tell women that a drug-induced abortion procedure can be reversed, but questions remain over the science behind the claims and whether the bill can pass constitutional muster. “A number of women have regret after the abortion. They may have a regret during the process but, if they don’t know there may be a way to reverse the process, then they just don’t know,” bill author Rep. Mark Lepak, R-Claremore, told the Oklahoma television station News 4. “There are a lot of things in this world that, once you make a decision, you can’t undo. This is perhaps one that you can change your mind and you still have some hope that you could deliver a happy, healthy baby,” he said. The House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 614 by a vote of 72 to 24. The bill requires signage about abortion drug reversal to be posted in facilities where abortions are performed. “If you continue to perform the abortion without the signage posted, without the notice, then there are penalties and fines associated,” Lepak said. Doctors who violate the law could face felony charges, while facilities could face fines of $10,000 per day. Jill Webb, legal director at the ACLU of Oklahoma, said the bill could result in legal challenges if it is signed into law. “Arizona, for instance, immediately had it challenged, and what they did was reverse the policy even before it got to court for determination,” Webb told News 4. “Not only do you have freedom of speech to say what you want, you also can’t be compelled to say something you don’t believe, and that’s what the problem is.” Similar Arizona legislation, passed in 2015, was repealed in 2016 after legal challenges and a failure to find a credible expert willing to defend it. The State of Arizona had to pay Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers more than $600,000 in attorney fees and other costs spent fighting the law, the Associated Press said. Dr. Melinda Cail of Primary Health Partners criticized one argument for the bill based on a study of seven patients. “I think that physicians will find it hard to swallow something that could be a felony that was based on such a small sample,” she said, according to News 4. “In that study of seven people, two went on to stop the procedure and had continuation of the pregnancy,” she said, commenting that it lacked long-term follow-up on whether the babies and mothers were healthy after the procedure. Lepak said the study was “very dated” but claimed other evidence backed the bill. A chemical abortion is a two-step process that involves the ingestion of two drugs: mifepristone and misoprostol. The first drug, mifepristone, effectively starves the unborn baby by blocking the effects of the hormone progesterone. The second drug, misoprostol, is taken up to two days later and induces labor. Backers of abortion pill reversal say the abortion can be reversed after a woman takes mifepristone but before she takes misoprostol, though this must be done quickly. Dr. George Delgado, M.D., appears to have been the author of the first study involving seven women. Delgado, a pro-life California doctor, has been a leader in medical interventions to reverse the effects of the abortion pill regimen. He and several other researchers wrote another analysis of abortion pill reversal in the journal Issues in Law and Medicine in April 2018. In observations of 754 patients who sought abortion pill reversal before taking the second drug, the researchers said that intramuscular progesterone had a reversal rate of 64% and high dose oral progesterone had a reversal rate of 68%. “There was no apparent increased risk of birth defects,” the abstract said. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which tends to oppose abortion regulations, has criticized the scientific claims behind abortion pill reversal. Its 2015 position paper on the Arizona legislation noted that pregnancy will continue in 30-50% of women who take mifepristone alone and do not take misoprostol, the National Catholic Register has reported. “Available research seems to indicate that in the rare situation where a woman takes mifepristone and then changes her mind, doing nothing and waiting to see what happens is just as effective as intervening with a course of progesterone,” the OB/GYN group said. The methods behind Delgado’s more recent study have also come under criticism, including allegations that some women were dropped out of the study to inflate the success rate, Los Angeles Magazine reported in March 2019. The Abortion Pill Rescue Network, which Delgado serves as a medical advisor, has claimed to have saved over 500 babies from abortion, its website said. The network is a program of Heartbeat International, a longstanding network of pro-life pregnancy assistance.
Miami archbishop warns flock against fake Fathers
Miami, Fla., Apr 18, 2019 / 05:16 pm (CNA).- The Archdiocese of Miami is warning Catholics against a spate of fake priests who are scamming parishioners for money and gift cards, supposedly for good causes. The problem has cropped up in multiple parishes in the area, the archdiocese told CBS News. Archbishop Thomas Wenski told CBS that he was assuring Catholics that “no Catholic clergyman will ask a parishioner for a gift card.” In some of the scams, the scam artist will purport to be Archbishop Wenski himself, or the auxiliary bishop of Miami, which was the fake signature on this bogus message shown to CBS News: “I need you to get an iTunes gift card for soma patients going through cancer in the hospital and I promised each patient but I can’t do this right now...I will pay back as soon as I get back. Let me know if you can get it Many blessings.” Having his name attached to these scams is troubling, Wenski told CBS. “It upsets you because you feel violated and you feel like nothing is safe.” One parishioner has reportedly lost about $1500 to the scams. Parishes are warning Catholics at Mass and in their bulletins to ignore emails or texts from priests asking for money or gift cards and to report any fake messages to police. Wenski lamented that such scams were part of the “perils” of technology. CBS noted that concerned Catholics can check with FloridaConsumerHelp.com to see if a request for money is legitimate. The phony priest problem seems to extend beyond Florida. Last week, the Diocese of Scranton issued warnings after two diocesan employees received similar scam texts from fake priests asking for gift cards, a local newspaper reported. “The Diocese of Scranton reminds everyone if you are ever concerned about a message that you receive, whether by text message or email, verify it before you take any action,” the diocese said in a statement. “It the instances reported this week, the person impersonating a priest asked each recipient to purchase $500 in gift cards for his niece as a birthday present because he was checking on a friend in the hospital.” Similar scam texts were also reported in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, according to local reports. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a similar warning in March after fake priests solicited money and gift cards from parishioners in the state.
'I've encountered Him' - how one inmate lost everything and found Christ
Vancouver, Canada, Apr 18, 2019 / 04:39 pm (CNA).- Ryan Prasad desperately wanted to change his life. “Every single day before I left my house, I would pray to a God, asking him to help me out of my lifestyle, because there was no way I was going to be able to do it on my own,” he told CNA. The then-24-year-old was battling multiple addictions and heavily involved in the sale of drugs. He knew that if he continued down the path he was on, he would wind up dead. But he didn’t know how to escape. It would take a prison sentence, nearly two years in a recovery home, and a conversion to the Catholic faith for Ryan to turn his life around – a stretch of time that he says is marked by the grace of God and the support of a faith-based community that was there for him every step of the way. Ryan grew up in British Columbia, Canada. His parents were Hindu, but the religion never sank in for him, and he never practiced it very seriously. When he was growing up, his household was disrupted by alcoholism, infidelity, and domestic violence. His parents eventually split up, and his mom remarried. Struggling to process what was going on at home, Ryan starting smoking marijuana in high school. He started college, but dropped out, as the drug began to consume his life. “I don’t think youth really realizes how much [marijuana] can take from you,” he reflected. “It kills you. It kills your motivation. It kills your drive.” Ryan worked part-time and also sold marijuana to fund his partying habits. When he realized that a friend was making more money than he was, by selling cocaine and heroin, he made the leap to dealing hard drugs. At first, he was successful, and he moved quickly into positions of increasing responsibility in the drug business – which meant more money. Over the next two years, he moved into a nice apartment, bought expensive cars, and dated a series of girls. But he still wasn’t happy. Frustrated that the one girl he was really interested in was not willing to give him a chance, he struggled to deal with his emotions. “I ended up using drugs as a coping mechanism to numb my feelings…I was so numb and disconnected…I was just a zombie.” From there, things began to get worse. Addicted to cocaine and pills, Ryan lost his apartment. Responsibilities started to be taken away from him at work, until he was only a driver. He no longer had the money to support his drug habit, and he started to get desperate. “I put myself in a situation where now I didn’t have a choice,” he said. “What I was doing was the easiest route for me to pay for my addiction, especially on a daily basis, because I’m getting paid cash every day, versus having to wait for a paycheck.” Ryan’s life was spiraling downhill. His girlfriend left him when she realized that he had been hiding a drug addiction from her. Several of his friends were shot, went missing, or died of an overdose. Then, in October 2016, he ended up doing several transactions with an undercover cop. He was caught with drugs in his car and an illegal firearm at his house. Ryan was convicted. He was supposed to be in jail until his sentencing, but his lawyer advocated for him, saying that he had potential, it was his first set of charges, and what he really needed was a change to break free of his addiction. He was released on bail to a Christian recovery house called Luke 15. “I was definitely at a point of surrender…enough was enough, and I really wanted to turn around,” he said. Ryan embraced the recovery house and all of the resources it had to offer. He started attending self-development groups and every church group available. He began going to a Baptist church nearby. He would read the Bible and ask questions. “I had this eagerness to learn. I just really believed that there was something really helping me to get to this point.” One day, Ryan attended a charismatic prayer group at St. Mary’s Catholic parish. The founder of the prayer group prayed over him, and he experienced something he can only describe as otherworldly. “I was overcome with this bright white light. And it just…came over me and into me, such a profound feeling of peace and love…such a strong presence,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of crazy drugs in my life, and there’s nothing that could compare to that…It was so divine and supernatural.” In that moment, Ryan said, his life changed. The bitterness he had been carrying from the dark and traumatic experiences he had endured was erased, and replaced with a profound joy. “I was just so happy,” he said, adding that he become a different person on that day. Three years later, he still thinks about that moment. “Because of that day, I can’t doubt that there is a God…I can’t pretend that he doesn’t exist, because I know he exists. I’ve encountered him.” Although he had been attending a Protestant church, Ryan knew he needed to learn more about the Catholic faith. He enrolled in RCIA classes and devoted every spare moment at the recovery house to reading about the Catholic Church. On April 17, 2017, Ryan was baptized and confirmed. His mother and stepfather attended the Mass. “They were really seeing the changes that were happening in my life – my language, the way I carried myself, my mannerisms. They knew I was changing,” he said. Ryan spent a total of 21 months at Luke 15. During that time, he sponsored other residents in the AA program, volunteered at a local soup kitchen and shelter, and got heavily involved with the St. Mary’s church community. He felt like a new person. But throughout it all, there was a weight hanging over his head. “The worst part about this, in my circumstance, is I didn’t know whether I was going to go to jail or not,” he said. Prosecutors were seeking eight years in prison for him, a prospect that he said took his breath away. “[J]ust hearing that number, the possibility of me going to jail for eight years – I really had to persevere in prayer,” he said. When he was finally sentenced, his family members and friends from the St. Mary’s community came to support him. His lawyer presented all the progress he had made and the good work that he had been doing, asking for leniency in his sentence. He was given 12 months for the firearm charge and 11 months for the drug charge. It was far less than the eight years prosecutors had originally sought, but still a devastating prospect for someone who had come so far in his fight against addiction and just wanted to move forward with his life. In jail, Ryan said, “I did not fit in with anybody. I was so rehabilitated and so religious…People were wondering, ‘What are you doing here?’” He spent his first month in the medium security section of the jail and was then moved to minimum security, where he had more freedom to come and go from his room and was able to get a minimum-wage job with the BC Wildfire Services. But despite the increase in freedom, he continued to struggle. The minimum security section of the jail did not offer any Catholic services, and there were few to no other Catholic inmates there. He felt isolated in his faith. “It was hard. But I definitely relied on God and read my Bible a lot,” he said. Ryan said God answered his prayers through a man named Bob Buckham. The head of prison ministry for the Archdiocese of Vancouver, Bob would visit Ryan periodically. He became Ryan’s lifeline to the Catholic faith. “I told him about how I really wanted to have Communion again, and he became [an extraordinary] minister of the Eucharist,” Ryan said. When Bob visited, he would bring Communion and read the Bible with Ryan, and the two would discuss the faith. This was helpful, because the other inmates would challenge Ryan’s beliefs. “I would get questions about my faith a lot. And I would defend it,” he said. “All the time that I spent in Luke 15 taught me a level of tolerance and patience and understanding…I was able to really diplomatically communicate with these people…I was just equipped. I just knew what to say and how to say it.” After serving a little over six months of his sentence, Ryan was granted full parole. He went to a halfway house, where he was able to once again attend Mass and get involved with the Catholic community. With parole came freedom – more than he had experienced in years. “I had to really make a conscious decision every single day, planning my day – What am I going to do? Who am I going to talk to? How am I going to do this? How long am I going to be there?” he said. “And I started really being focused and really taking my own time seriously, because all that ambition and drive that I had before, I was finally given a little bit of an opportunity to use it.” Today, Ryan is 27 years old. He lives with his family and is training to be a mobile crane operator and get his trucking license. He works six days a week and spends his free time reading the Bible and going to the gym. He goes to Mass twice a week and attends RCIA meetings, where he shares his experience with the people who are currently in the program. “I stay busy, and I’m only going to get busier,” he said. Looking back on his experience, Ryan is grateful to God and to all the people who supported him in his journey of recovery and faith. “I’ve got to express my gratitude – me being where I was to where I am at now, and just to have the support and people I can reach out to and ask for prayer and help, and they’re willing to help me and talk to me and give me their time,” he said. “It’s done a lot for me...It’s really helped me grow. And I’m still growing.”  
Arson charges for man who carried gasoline into NYC’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral
New York City, N.Y., Apr 18, 2019 / 04:08 pm (CNA).- The man who attempted to enter New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral carrying gasoline, lighter fluid, and a lighter will face criminal charges. The attempted entry was the second time this week the man was arrested at a Catholic cathedral. Marc Lamparello, 37, was apprehended April 17 by St. Patrick’s Cathedral security around 8 p.m. and taken into police custody by officers with the NYPD Critical Response Command. He apparently intended to start a fire, and police said he had a car nearby to escape the scene. Lamparello was charged Thursday with attempted arson, reckless endangerment, and illegally transporting flammable materials in public places. Earlier this week, Lamparello was arrested for refusing to leave the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, New Jersey. On Monday evening, Lamparello refused to leave the Newark cathedral when it was closing. He was seated in a pew, and told a sheriff’s deputy that he would only leave the cathedral in handcuffs. “If you want me to leave tonight, you’re gonna have to handcuff me and arrest me tonight and take me to jail,” he told the officer. According to the Daily Beast, Lamparello resisted attempts by two officers to take him into custody, apparently throwing himself on the church floor and telling them “I’m not leaving. God wants me here. I know all the sins the priests have committed.” He was charged April 15 with criminal trespassing and resisting arrest. NYPD have also confirmed that Lamparello had recently purchased a one-way airplane ticket to Rome, scheduled to depart Thursday evening. According to the NYPD, Lamparello had four gallons of gasoline, two cans of lighter fluid, and two lighters with him when he attempted to enter St. Patrick’s Cathedral Wednesday night. He was prevented from entering by cathedral security, but was able to spill some of the gasoline on the floor as he was leaving. About 90 minutes before he attempted to enter the cathedral, Lamparello pulled up to the church in a minivan. He then wandered around for about an hour, before taking the gasoline, lighter fluid, and lighters out of his car. He tried to go into St. Patrick’s around 8 p.m. and was apprehended shortly thereafter. NYPD said that Lamparello’s story was “not consistent” and suspicious, though they have not yet determined any sort of motive. He claimed he cut through the cathedral as a shortcut, as his van had run out of gas. The minivan had in fact not run out of gas, which led to police taking him into custody. Lamparello was reportedly cooperative and conversational with police. Police do not suspect terrorism, and have described Laparello as “emotionally disturbed.” Lamparello graduated from Boston College, a Jesuit school, in 2004. Since then, he has been a philosophy instructor at several universities, including Seton Hall University in New Jersey. Seton Hall is a diocesean Catholic school administered by the Archdiocese of Newark. He previously worked as a music director for a Catholic parish in New Jersey. His brother, Adam Lamparello, told the Daily Beast that he was “shocked” to hear of his arrest, and said that “this is something that is so not him.” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio praised NYPD for their quick action in apprehending the suspect. “We are all focused on keeping our congregations and houses of worship safe as they celebrate this Holy Week,” tweeted de Blasio.  
‘Nones’ rise amid declining church attendance, survey shows
Washington D.C., Apr 18, 2019 / 03:00 pm (CNA).- Church membership in the United States has dropped considerably in the last two decades, and the number of people who say they have no religion has increased, a new report from Gallup shows. The decline in “membership” of a specific church or parish community appears especially pronounced among Catholics and young people. Nearly one out of three millennials, defined as people born between 1980 and 2000, describe themselves as having no religion. Of the 68% who said they do have a religious faith, only 57% said they belong to a church. Twenty years ago, when members of “Generation X” were the same age as millennials, 62% --nearly two out of three--were members of a church. Today, 54% of Generation X members belong to a church, and 79% said they have a religious belief of some sort. Those born in 1945 or earlier were the most religious age group surveyed. Only nine percent said they did not have a religion, and nearly three out of four believers consider themselves to “belong” to a church. Since 1998-2000, the percentage of Catholics who say they belong to a church has dropped by 13 points. In 1998-2000, 76% of Catholics said they were members of a church. By 2016-2018, this figure had dropped to 63%. Church “membership” is difficult to tabulate among Catholics. Parish membership is primarily defined in canon law according to residence in the territory of a parish. While many parishes operate registration programs for sacramental or pastoral purposes, “registration” does not actually define or confirm belonging to the parish community, which is conferred de facto by domicile within the territory of the parish. In Catholic theology, Church “membership” is not ordinarily defined by registration or self-identity. Even without taking this into account, according to the data American Catholics still appear belong to churches at higher rates than nondenominational Protestants. Only 57 percent of Americans who call themselves “nondenominational” are members of a church. Both of these figures lag behind Protestants affiliated with a denomination, as well as Mormons. Seventy percent of denominational Protestants, and 90 percent of Mormons say they belong to churches. Mormons, unlike Catholics and Protestants, have kept relatively stable church membership numbers of the past 20 years. Women were considerably more likely than men to say they belong to churches, with 58 percent of women and 47 percent of men identifying themselves as church members. Membership among men and women experienced a large decline in the last 20 years, with men dropping by 17 points, and women by 15. All demographic categories now say they belong to churches at a lower rate than they did 20 years ago. The demographics that experienced the smallest decline were Protestants (which Gallup combined with people who identify simply as “Christian”) and Republicans, who dropped six points and eight points, respectively. Conversely, Hispanics and Democrats both dropped 23 percentage points in church membership over the last 20 years. Democrats dropped from 71 percent to 48 percent, and Hispanics from 68 to 45. Those between the ages of 18 and 29 were not far behind, declining by 22 points from 1998.
Supreme Court hears petition to overturn Louisiana abortion law
Washington D.C., Apr 18, 2019 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- Louisiana abortion providers presented arguments to the Supreme Court Wednesday, asking the court to strike down a state law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The Center for Reproductive Rights formally presented its petition April 17, after the court granted a stay in February which blocked the law from coming into effect while lower courts heard the case. The District Court found against the law in 2016, preventing it from coming into effect, but the decision was reversed by the U.S. Court of Appeals’ 5th Circuit. The abortion providers argue that the Louisiana law would, if allowed to come into effect, leave the state with only one doctor qualified to perform abortions. They also contend that the law is near-identical to a Texas statute struck down by the Supreme Court in 2016, calling the similarities “crystal clear.” The law requires that any abortion doctor have “active admitting privileges” at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion facility. The appeal filed Wednesday argued that the result of the law would be to deny the vast majority of Louisiana women access to their constitutionally protected right to an abortion. The 2016 decision was rendered 5-3 before the appointment of a replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia. Chief Justice John Roberts voted to uphold the Texas law, but also agreed to grant the stay in February. The case is expected to be heard by the court during its next session after the summer. Since the 2016 case was decided, Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch have joined the court. Both opposed the granting of the February stay, with Kavanaugh issuing a widely read dissenting opinion. Speaking in February, Louisiana’s Attorney General Jeff Landry vowed to continue the legal fight, and pointed out that the law was passed by the state legislature with nearly unanimous consent. “Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has put enforcement of this pro-woman law on hold for the time being,” said Landry. “We remain hopeful that if the Supreme Court grants certiorari in this case, it will to be to re-affirm that court's rule in fact-specific cases; because the facts in our case show [the law] is constitutional and consistent with our overall regulatory scheme for surgical procedures.”
Jesuit Father James Schall has died at age 91
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Pope Francis urges inmates to be at service to one another
Rome, Italy, Apr 18, 2019 / 11:19 am (CNA).- Pope Francis celebrated the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at a prison in the suburbs of Rome Thursday, urging the inmates to reflect on how they can treat each other with servants’ hearts. “It is true that in life there are problems: we quarrel among ourselves,” the pope said April 18, “but this must be a thing that passes, a passing thing, because in our hearts there must always be this love of serving the other, of being at the service of the other.” “This is the rule of Jesus and the rule of the Gospel,” he said, “the rule of service, not of dominating, of doing evil, of humiliating others. Service.” Recalling the moment when Jesus’ apostles were arguing among themselves about who was the most important, Pope Francis said: “Jesus took a child and said, ‘The child. If your heart is not a child’s heart, you will not be my disciples.’ The heart of a child – simple, humble, but a servant.” Pope Francis said the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the Velletri men’s prison, located about one hour south of the Vatican on the outskirts of Rome. This was the fifth time in his pontificate Pope Francis celebrated Maundy Thursday Mass at a prison. The first was in 2013, just after becoming pope, when he visited the Casal del Marmo youth detention center. Subsequent Maundy Thursday Masses have been held at the historic Regina Coeli prison, a center for asylum seekers, Rebibbia prison, and Paliano prison. In 2014, the pope said Mass at the Don Gnocchi center for the disabled. After his brief homily, Francis washed the feet of 12 prisoners: one Moroccan, one Ivorian, one Brazilian, and nine Italians. After washing the men’s feet, he kissed each one. In his homily, the pope explained that Jesus’ gesture of washing the feet of his disciples was that of a servant, because at the time, streets were not paved, and people’s feet would get covered in dust. Therefore, when they entered a house to visit or share a meal, a servant would wash the feet of the guest, he said. “And Jesus makes this gesture: he washes their feet. He makes the servant’s gesture: He, who had all the power, He, who was the Lord.” Francis emphasized what happens next in the Gospel: that Jesus turns to his disciples and advises them to do the same to each other. “In other words, serve one another, be brothers in service, not in ambition, as someone who dominates the other or who tramples on the other, no, be brothers in service,” he urged. “Do you need something, a service? I’ll do it for you.” This is what real fraternity is like, he said, explaining that the Church asks the bishop to imitate Jesus in the washing of the feet every year on Holy Thursday. This is because, he said, “the bishop is not the most important, but must be the best servant.”  
Cardinal Tobin: Catechism language 'very unfortunate' on homosexuality
Newark, N.J., Apr 18, 2019 / 10:54 am (CNA).- The Archbishop of Newark said Wednesday that the language used by the Catechism of the Catholic Church to describe homosexual acts is “very unfortunate,” adding that he hopes the Catechism will use different language in its discussion of homosexuality. “The Church, I think, is having its own conversation about what our faith has us do and say with people in relationships that are same-sex. What should be without debate is that we are called to welcome them,” Cardinal Joseph Tobin said April 17, during an interview with NBC’s Anne Thompson on the “Today Show.” “But how can you welcome people that you call ‘intrinsically disordered?’” Thompson asked. “Well I don’t call them ‘intrinsically disordered,’” Tobin answered. “But isn’t that the Catechism of the Catholic Church?” Thompson asked. “That is,” Tobin said, adding “it’s very unfortunate language. Let’s hope that eventually that language is a little less hurtful.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered,” a phrase it also uses to describe other sexual acts taught by the Church to be immoral. The Catechism does not describe homosexual persons themselves as “intrinsically disordered,” though it does say that homosexual inclination, along with other inclination toward sexual sin, is “objectively disordered.” In a prior paragraph, the Catechism says that “sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes.” The Catechism adds that “men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies…must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.” Tobin endorsed a 2017 book, “Building a Bridge,” by Fr. James Martin, SJ, which has also called for the Church to amend the language with which it discusses homosexuality. Tobin said of the book that “in too many parts of our church LGBT people have been made to feel unwelcome, excluded, and even shamed. Father Martin’s brave, prophetic, and inspiring new book marks an essential step in inviting church leaders to minister with more compassion, and in reminding LGBT Catholics that they are as much a part of our church as any other Catholic.” Tobin was also asked during the April 17 interview about the approach of the U.S. bishops to immigration, a point on which he explained that “humanity has to be recognized. It doesn’t mean that we don’t control our borders. Sure. Every nation does. But we do it in a comprehensive manner that respects also the human dignity of people who are fleeing scenes of great violence.” Speaking of his own archdiocesan investigation into the sexual abuse and coercion perpetrated by former Newark archbishop Theodore McCarrick, Tobin said that he would is still speaking with “the Attorney General and the authorities of the state of New Jersey. I would like to get it out as soon as possible.”
Anointed for Communion and Mission – Homily of Bishop Kevin Doran for Chrism Mass
Bishop Kevin Doran, Bishop of Elphin, celebrated the annual Chrism Mass with priests and people of the Diocese of Elphin in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Sligo on Wednesday 17 April. In his homily for the Mass, which was concelebrated by Father Dermot Meehan, Diocesan Administrator of Achonry, Bishop Doran, said: “The Mass of Chrism is a gathering of the faithful and the priests of the diocese around the bishop, whose mission – like that of Jesus himself – is to be a sign of communion.” The bishop noted the many uses of the Chrism Oil. He said: “Through Baptism we are already entrusted with mission and this is symbolised by the anointing with Chrism that is part of the ceremony of infant Baptism. In Confirmation, the Chrism is used again, as the sign of our fuller participation in the mission of Christ. “The Oil of Chrism is also used, of course in the ordination of priests and bishops. This evening, we priests have the opportunity to renew our commitment to the mission entrusted to us at our ordination. I want to welcome all of you and to thank you for the witness that you give through your ministry and through who you are.” On the challenge the Chrism Oil presents to parishioners, Bishop Doran said: “The Oil of Chrism also represents a challenge for the parish communities and for the families in our diocese. It is a reminder that the Church depends on the ministry of priests for the Eucharist, as well as for many of the Sacraments. We are depending very heavily in this diocese on the generosity of religious congregations and missionary societies and on dioceses in Africa and Asia, who have lent us priests. While this is an expression of their communion and a response to our real need, we do have to ask ourselves seriously what we are doing in our parishes and in our families to encourage young people, in the first place to be disciples, but then to respond generously to the call to priesthood and religious life, even if that involves making sacrifices. Are we praying for vocations and, if we are, is our prayer an expression of trust in a God who is calling, or an expression of disappointment because we think God has stopped calling.” Concluding his homily, Bishop Doran said: “This evening, especially, we pray for our doctors and nurses, our paramedics and all who work with them in the care of the sick. We ask God’s blessing on them and on their work, which is a sharing in the healing ministry of Christ himself. We pray that they may always have courage to be advocates for life. Our prayer is all the more authentic, of course, when our own words and actions reflect a deep respect and reverence for every human life as a gift from God.” ENDS
Castleblaney Celebrates Mercy
On March 27th, 2019, the Sisters of Mercy were invited to a special celebration in Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, where, due to the kindness of some local people, a Plaque was erected in the newly renovated St. Mary’s Parish Church.  The Plaque honours the Sisters of Mercy who served in the town for over 100 years.  The main instigator behind the event was Mr, John Gallen, former Principal of Our Lady’s Secondary School and his wife, Colette, both of whom had strong ties with the Sisters.  Bishop Lawrence Duffy and priests from nearby parishes were present as well as the Church of Ireland minister, Rev. Neale Pharr. St. Marys Church, Castleblaney, Co Monaghan The celebration began with concelebrated Mass.  The homily preached by Canon Shane McCaughey, P.P. was outstanding.  His basic theme was ‘remembering and memories’ and how quickly people and events are forgotten.  As an example, he mentioned how we frequently hear of the Jewish sufferings in WW2, but practically no one knows of the awful sufferings of the Armenians in WW1.  In this respect, Canon Shane brought out how the Sisters of Mercy, once so prominent in the town could likewise be forgotten.  The idea of the Plaque was to keep their memory and contribution alive. Everything connected with the event was memorable – the beautifully restored Church, the Mass, the assembled priests, the Choir, the organ music and the friendly gathering of so many connected in some way with the Sisters. Sister Ann Brady’s concluding address was most apt and inspiring, and summed up how deeply moving the whole event was. After the Mass, we were invited to Iontas for entertainment and refreshments.  There we met many old friends.  The entertainment was such a surprise.  The children were great and their contributions most enjoyable, from the very young children in the Junior School, to the more advanced Girls’ School.  Of course, seeing the musical abilities of the students from Our Lady’s was special and their talents outstanding.  What a lot of work and rehearsal it all took!  The generous refreshments that followed were indeed a treat, with the chance to chat. The memories of this wonderful evening will be forever captured on the special Plaque, which is now mounted in the foyer of St. Mary’s Church, Castleblayney.  It will be a lovely memorial to the bonds between the people and the Sisters of Mercy.   Mary Patricia Lynn rsm Northern Province
“The Church has to change” – Archbishop Diarmuid Martin at Chrism Mass
Today, Holy Thursday 18 April, the Chrism Mass was celebrated in Saint Mary’s Pro Cathedral, Archdiocese of Dublin. The Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin. The Chrism Mass focuses on the ministry of priests and on the renewal of priestly commitment. The oils that are blessed or consecrated are symbols of the sacramental ministry of the Church. At the outset of his homily, Archbishop Martin said: “Today I celebrate this Chrism Mass for the fifteenth time. It is one of the great occasions in the life of the diocese.” The Archbishop said that much has changed in the diocese over the past fifteen years – he believes, for the better. He said: “Over these fifteen years, we have experienced the dramatic effects of the crisis of sexual abuse. We move forward, not whitewashing the past, but recognising how our parish communities have responded with great dedication putting into place and supporting child protection structures of which we can be rightly proud.” Archbishop Martin stated that he expects a new period of renewal and sense of mission coming in the future. He continued: “All of this renewal must take place within the changing religious culture of Ireland and this diocese. We have challenges. The overall population of the Archdiocese is growing. In some areas the growth is spectacular. There are five parishes in this diocese with over fifteen thousand Catholics. Patterns of ministry have to adapt to changing situations. Things are happening. Parishes are working together. In the Ballymun area, we have united three parishes to respond better to the changing needs.” One positive development noted by the Archbishop is how effectively the archdiocese reaches out to young people. He said: “We have two churches in Dublin specifically dedicated to ministry with young adults, something quite unique in Ireland.” The Archbishop referenced Saint Paul’s in Arran Quay and University Church in Saint Stephen’s Green as two churches that are leading the way of youth ministry in Dublin. He continued: “We have two remarkable young women working full time out of Saint Paul’s animating youth leaders in parishes and supporting programmes of youth activity.” Archbishop Martin emphasised that in the face of a pluralised culture, young people have to be supported and accompanied in finding a strong personalised faith. He continued: “I have been reading over the past weeks a book entitled Haunted by Christ. The title fascinates me. Faith in Jesus Christ is never a point of arrival. Every day we must allow Jesus to haunt us, to challenge us, to make us ask deeper and deeper questions, even when we cannot seem to find definitive answers.” The Archbishop went to say that change is needed in the Church. He said: “The Church has to change. I have to say that the Interim Report published yesterday by the Commission of Investigation on Mother and Baby Homes leaves me with profound distress, even indignation. We are the Church of Jesus Christ. Jesus considered children as a sign of his Kingdom. What went wrong to give rise to a situation in which children within the Church of Jesus Christ were not cared for with scrupulous dignity, whether in life or in death? I find it hard to believe that evidence has simply vanished and that no one can remember.” Archbishop Martin said that the Catholic Church in Ireland must constantly examine the negative effects of how it exercised a dominant role in Irish society in the past, without renouncing its prophetic role in contemporary Irish society. Preaching on the Gospel of the Chrism Mass, Archbishop Martin said: “The Gospel reading of our Mass is one where Jesus speaks about his own identity. He is the one who makes definitively present in the world what God’s people had sought and hoped for along the path of history. Jesus is the one who brings freedom, who lifts burdens, who is attentive to the marginalised, who brings good news to the downhearted.” Concluding his homily Archbishop said: “Let us commit ourselves this morning to being a Church that radically opens itself to the power of freedom that springs from faith in Jesus Christ and brings freedom and good news into hearts that are troubled. That is our challenge, but it is truly the beautiful challenge of being a faithful believer in the God who is love, revealed to us in Jesus Christ.” ENDS