Browsing News Entries

English cardinal to grant faculties to priests fulfilling conditions of Traditionis custodes

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster. / Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk.

London, England, Jul 23, 2021 / 06:00 am (CNA).

An English cardinal has said that he intends to grant faculties to priests seeking to celebrate Traditional Latin Masses as long as they fulfill the conditions of Pope Francis’ motu proprio Traditionis custodes.

In an email to priests of Westminster diocese, published on July 22, Cardinal Vincent Nichols said that many of them had asked to continue celebrating Masses according to the 1962 Missal.

“My intention is to grant faculties for these requests, as long as it is clear that the conditions of the motu proprio are fulfilled and the intentions of the Holy Father fully accepted,” he said.

The motu proprio, which entered into force on July 16, the day it was published, said that it is a bishop’s “exclusive competence” to authorize Traditional Latin Masses in his diocese.

The document made sweeping changes to Benedict XVI’s 2007 apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum, which had acknowledged the right of all priests to say Mass using the Roman Missal of 1962 without having to seek their bishop’s permission.

In the email, Nichols said that Pope Francis expressed “three profound concerns” when he issued the new motu proprio: that concessions were “exploited,” that the prescriptions of the new Missal were not being followed, and that there was a link between using the 1962 Missal and rejecting the Church and its institutions in the name of the “true Church.”

“In my judgment, these concerns do not reflect the overall liturgical life of this diocese. They are, however, warnings of which we should be on our guard,” said the cardinal, who tendered his resignation as archbishop of Westminster to the pope when he turned 75 in November.

Nichols is president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Unlike their counterparts in France, the English and Welsh bishops have not issued a collective statement on Traditionis custodes, which was preceded by a questionnaire sent to the world’s bishops’ conferences.

“As per the motu proprio, liturgy in a diocese is down to each individual bishop and so the decision lies with the local bishop,” a bishops’ conference spokesman told CNA on July 21.

The day after the motu proprio was issued, members of the Benedictine community in Glastonbury, southwest England, announced that Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton had asked them to stop celebrating the Latin Mass.

“Following the Motu Proprio and instruction from Bishop Declan, the 12.30 p.m. Latin Mass at Glastonbury will be the final Latin Mass here,” they said.

“Our community continues to offer our prayers for the parishes which have been entrusted to our care.”

Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth, southern England, said on July 20 that he was “currently reflecting” on what the motu proprio means for celebrations in his diocese. In 2018, Egan established a “personal parish” for Catholics attached to the Traditional Latin Mass, the first of its kind in the U.K.

The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales, a traditionalist association founded in 1965, described the new motu proprio as a “grave disappointment.”

“If implemented rigorously, this document will seriously disrupt long-established celebrations of the older Missal, and will drive a great many faithful Catholics, who desire nothing more than to attend the ancient Mass in communion with their bishops and the Holy Father, to attend celebrations which fall outside the structures of the Church, above all those of the Society of St. Pius X,” wrote the group’s chairman, Joseph Shaw.

In his email to priests, Nichols said that he was committed to ensuring that Masses in Westminster diocese were celebrated reverently and following the liturgical books.

Quoting from Pope Francis’ letter to bishops accompanying Traditionis custodes, Nichols wrote: “As ‘the principle of unity’ in the diocese, I am committed to ensuring that unity is preserved and promoted even as I seek ‘to provide for the good of those who are rooted in the previous form of celebration and the need to return in due time (or “have need of time to return” Italian text) to the Roman Rite promulgated by Saints Paul VI and John Paul II.’”

He continued: “I am fully aware of the priests who, in recent years, have provided the celebration of the Mass according to the 1962 Missal, in response to requests from the faithful.”

“I have received from many of them a request to continue to do so, together with assertions that those who gather with them for these celebrations fully accept the Novus Ordo and the decisions of the Second Vatican Council. I am grateful for this ministry which has been undertaken in a sound and generous spirit.”

“According to the requirements of the motu proprio itself, I therefore ask that any priest who, at present, celebrates Mass with the Missal of 1962 to let me have the details of those celebrations: times and places, together with affirmations of the fidelity to the Church and acceptance of the validity and legitimacy of the liturgical reforms dictated by the Second Vatican Council, in as much as is possible, of those in his care.”

He also asked priests who celebrate Mass with the 1962 Missal without members of a congregation present to seek his permission to continue to do so.

“It is important to heed the reminder of the Holy Father that ‘whoever wishes to celebrate with devotion according to the earlier forms of the liturgy can find in the reformed Roman Missal according to the Vatican Council II all the elements of the Roman Rite, in particular the Roman Canon which constitutes one of its more distinctive elements,’” Nichols said.

“This clearly includes the use of Latin in such celebrations. It is on the basis of the reformed Missale Romanum, which he defines to be ‘the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite’ that Pope Francis intends to re-establish unity of a ‘single and identical prayer’ throughout the Church of the Roman Rite. This, then, must be our long-term intention, too.”

The cardinal concluded by urging priests to rededicate themselves to celebrating the Mass with solemnity, “in accordance with the mind and norms of the Church.”

Pelosi’s archbishop: No devout Catholic can condone abortion, ‘let alone have the government pay for it’

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. / Dennis Callahan, Archdiocese of San Francisco/Public domain.

San Francisco, Calif., Jul 23, 2021 / 02:10 am (CNA).

The Archbishop of San Francisco on Thursday responded to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) after she cited her Catholic faith while defending efforts to permit federal funding of elective abortions.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, Pelosi’s home diocese, criticized her stance on the Hyde Amendment.

“Let me repeat: no one can claim to be a devout Catholic and condone the killing of innocent human life, let alone have the government pay for it,” he told CNA.

“The right to life is a fundamental -- the most fundamental -- human right, and Catholics do not oppose fundamental human rights.”

Speaking at her weekly press conference in the U.S. Capitol on July 22, Pelosi said that she supported a repeal of the Hyde Amendment because it is “an issue of health, of many women in America, especially those in lower-income situations and in different states.”

“And it is something that has been a priority for many of us for a long time,” Pelosi said.

A draft spending bill recently approved by the House Appropriations Committee would allow for federal funding of elective abortions in Medicaid. It excludes the Hyde Amendment, a federal policy since 1976 which prohibits funding of most abortions in Medicaid.

At the press conference, Pelosi highlighted her faith, saying that as “a devout Catholic and mother of five in six years, I feel that God blessed my husband and me with our beautiful family, five children in six years almost to the day.”

She added that she would not presume to make decisions for other women, regarding their families and abortion.

Pelosi said that “it’s not up to me to dictate that that’s what other people should do, and it [funding of abortion in Medicaid] is an issue of fairness and justice for poorer women in our country.”

In response, Cordileone said: “To use the smokescreen of abortion as an issue of health and fairness to poor women is the epitome of hypocrisy: what about the health of the baby being killed? What about giving poor women real choice, so they are supported in choosing life?”

“This would give them fairness and equality to women of means, who can afford to bring a child into the world. It is people of faith who run pro-life crisis pregnancy clinics; they are the only ones who provide poor women life-giving alternatives to having their babies killed in their wombs.”

He added: “I cannot be prouder of my fellow Catholics who are so prominent in providing this vital service. To them, I say: you are the ones worthy to call yourselves ‘devout Catholics’!”

President Joe Biden did not include the Hyde Amendment in his budget request to Congress for the 2022 fiscal year. Leading Democrats have pushed for an end to the policy in recent years. The Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill recently advanced out of the House Appropriations Committee without the amendment language.

The Hyde Amendment, named for the late Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois, was first enacted in 1976, three years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. Exceptions were later added to the policy for cases involving rape, incest, or maternal mortality risk.

Since the amendment is not permanent law, it must be attached to individual appropriations bills or it will not take effect.

The U.S. bishops’ conference has called on lawmakers to preserve the Hyde Amendment and is circulating a petition in support of the pro-life policy which currently has more than 130,000 signatures.

In January, Pelosi said that pro-lifers who voted for former President Donald Trump because of the abortion issue gave her “great grief as a Catholic,” and also defended the use of contraception.

During a podcast with former senator and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Pelosi said that pro-lifers who chose to vote for Trump “were willing to sell the whole democracy down the river for that one issue.”

In a subsequent statement, the archbishop of San Francisco said that “No Catholic in good conscience can favor abortion.”

“Our land is soaked with the blood of the innocent, and it must stop,” Cordileone said.

Pelosi has long supported legal abortion. In June, she told a reporter that “I am a big supporter of Roe v. Wade. I am a mother of five children in six years. I think I have some standing on this issue, as to respecting a woman’s right to choose.”

In May, Pelosi said she was “pleased” with a Vatican letter to the U.S. bishops which addressed Communion for pro-abortion politicians. She claimed that the Vatican instructed the bishops not to be “divisive” on the issue.

In response, Cordileone said that the Vatican actually promoted “dialogue” between bishops and pro-abortion politicians, “to help them understand the grave evil they are helping to perpetrate and accompany them to a change of heart.”

“I’m happy to know that Speaker Pelosi said she is pleased with the letter,” the archbishop said.

“Speaker Pelosi’s positive reaction” to the letter, he noted, “raises hope that progress can be made in this most serious matter.”

Cardinal Burke questions Pope Francis' authority to eliminate the Traditional Latin Mass

Cardinal Raymond Burke listens in the audience during the presentation of the new book Christvs Vincit by Bishop Athanasius Schneider, in Rome on Oct. 14, 2019. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Denver Newsroom, Jul 22, 2021 / 19:15 pm (CNA).

In a 19-point statement regarding Pope Francis' motu proprio Traditionis Custodes, Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke called the restrictions on the Traditional Latin Mass “severe and revolutionary,” and questioned the pope’s authority to revoke use of the rite.

Cardinal Burke, in his July 22nd statement on the feast of St. Mary Magdalene, asked if the pope could “juridically abrogate” the Traditional Latin Mass. The July 16 motu proprio Traditionis custodes, he said, “places restrictions” on the Traditional Mass “which signal its ultimate elimination.”

He argued that "the fullness of power (plenitudo potestatis) of the Roman Pontiff is the power necessary to defend and promote the doctrine and discipline of the Church," but "is not 'absolute power' which would include the power to change doctrine or to eradicate a liturgical discipline which has been alive in the Church since the time of Pope Gregory the Great and even earlier."

Cardinal Burke’s lengthy statement, published on his personal website, strongly defends the validity of what Pope Benedict XVI called the “extraordinary form” of the Roman Rite, and which he calls the “Usus Antiquior” [UA], or “more ancient usage.” 

Cardinal Burke points out that there are "significant texts in the English version” of the motu proprio “which are not coherent with the Italian version” - which he assumed was the “original text” of the document.

For instance, he said in Article 1 of the document, the important Italian adjective “unica” is translated into English as “unique”, instead of “only.” In Article 4, the important Italian verb “devono” is translated into English as “should”, instead of 'must.'"

"It is apparent from the severity of the document," the cardinal wrote, "that Pope Francis issued the Motu Proprio to address what he perceives to be a grave evil threatening the unity of the Church, namely the UA. According to the Holy Father, those who worship according to this usage make a choice which rejects 'the Church and her institutions in the name of what is called the ‘true Church’,” a choice which 'contradicts communion and nurtures the divisive tendency."

Later in his statement, the cardinal asked, "from whence comes the severe and revolutionary action of the Holy Father?” 

“The Motu Proprio and the Letter indicate two sources,” he said, “first, 'the wishes expressed by the episcopate' through 'a detailed consultation of the bishops' conducted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2020, and, second, 'the opinion of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.'"

In 2020, the Vatican sent the bishops of the world a questionnaire on how Summorum Pontificum was being applied in their dioceses. That landmark 2007 document had acknowledged the rights of all priests to offer Latin Mass according to the 1962 Missal. 

Pope Francis cited the results of the questionnaire as part of his decision to issue the restrictions on the Traditional Latin Mass.

"Given the importance attributed to the 'detailed consultation' or 'questionnaire' and the gravity of the matter it was treating," Cardinal Burke argued, "it would seem essential that the results of the consultation be made public, along with the indication of its scientific character."

Cardinal Burke, elaborating on his long experience with Catholics celebrating in the Extraordinary Form, said he never found any attitude among the faithful professing to be "the true Church" as opposed to Catholics attending Novus Ordo Masses. 

"On the contrary, they love the Roman Pontiff, their Bishops and priests, and, when others have made the choice of schism, they have wanted always to remain in full communion with the Church, faithful to the Roman Pontiff, often at the cost of great suffering,” he wrote.

“They, in no way, ascribe to a schismatic or sedevacantist ideology." he added.

In his statement the Cardinal admitted that "yes, there are individuals and even certain groups which espouse radical positions, even as is the case in other sectors of Church life, but they are, in no way, characteristic of the greater and ever increasing number of faithful who desire to worship God according to the UA." 

"The Sacred Liturgy,” he explained, “is not a matter of so-called ‘Church politics’ but the fullest and most perfect encounter with Christ for us in this world.”

“The faithful, in question, among whom are numerous young adults and young married couples with children, encounter Christ, through the UA, Who draws them ever closer to Himself through the reform of their lives and cooperation with the divine grace which flows from His glorious pierced Heart into their hearts,” he said. 

According to Cardinal Burke, "if there are situations of an attitude or practice contrary to the sound doctrine and discipline of the Church, justice demands that they be addressed individually by the pastors of the Church, the Roman Pontiff and the Bishops in communion with him. Justice is the minimum and irreplaceable condition of charity."

"A schismatic spirit or actual schism are always gravely evil, but there is nothing about the UA which fosters schism,” he said. 

Article 1 of Traditionis custodes states that the “liturgical books promulgated by Saint Paul VI and Saint John Paul II, in conformity with the decrees of Vatican Council II, are the unique expression of the lex orandi [“the law of prayer”] of the Roman Rite.”

"The correct interpretation of Article 1 cannot be the denial that the UA is an ever-vital expression of 'the lex orandi of the Roman Rite,'” Cardinal Burke wrote in response. “Our Lord Who gave the wonderful gift of the UA will not permit it to be eradicated from the life of the Church,” he added.

"The severity of these documents naturally generates a profound distress and even sense of confusion and abandonment. I pray that the faithful will not give way to discouragement but will, with the help of divine grace, persevere in their love of the Church and of her pastors, and in their love of the Sacred Liturgy,” he wrote. 

Cardinal Burke concluded by asking Catholics to pray for Pope Francis. 

"I urge the faithful to pray fervently for Pope Francis, the Bishops and priests,” he said. “At the same time, in accord with can. 212, §3, '[a]ccording to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.'”

Despite criticism from Wisconsin AG, Milwaukee archdiocese stresses cooperation with new abuse cases

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

Milwaukee, Wis., Jul 22, 2021 / 19:01 pm (CNA).

The Milwaukee archdiocese said that to its knowledge the Wisconsin attorney general’s inquiry into sexual abuse, which some critics say is singling out the Catholic Church, has so far not resulted in any allegations against current archdiocesan priests.

“We continue to cooperate with any new allegations against a living priest, and have not received any word from the attorney general that any have been received,” Sandra Peterson, communication director with the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, told CNA July 22.

The Milwaukee archdiocese has previously said that judges, civil authorities, and an outside firm have already reviewed their documents multiple times and a bankruptcy judge has declared no concern for public safety after reviewing abuse claims. Some of the archdiocesan records are under seal due to previous bankruptcy court proceedings or because of abuse victims’ decisions to submit their claims under seal. Compliance with the attorney general’s request to produce records could mean another major expenditure of six figures on lawyers’ fees and staff hours for the Milwaukee archdiocese alone.

For his part, Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul continues to criticize Catholic non-participation in his inquiry, which he announced in April.

“You know the Milwaukee Archdiocese put out a letter that they were, by and large, declining to cooperate with the review,” Kaul said at a July 20 press conference. “I think that's unfortunate. I think this is a real opportunity for the diocese and religious orders that have taken steps to demonstrate what they've done and how that process has moved forward.”

Kaul portrayed his investigation as “an independent review” of reports of clergy abuse that aimed “to ensure that survivors of clergy and faith leader abuse have access to needed victim services, to help prevent future cases of sexual assault, and to get accountability to the extent possible.”

The state justice department has added that while it “is starting with the Catholic Church in this initiative, victims are encouraged to report sexual abuse committed in any religious organization.”

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. Archbishop Listecki has voiced doubt that the attorney general has the legal authority for the inquiry and said the archdiocese has “legitimate concerns that his inquiry is directly targeting only the Catholic Church.”

Kaul, speaking at a July 20 press conference, said anyone who has previously reported abuse they experienced or information about a potential abuse to a Catholic diocese or to local law enforcement should report it to his office. The Wisconsin Department of Justice said in a statement that people shouldn’t assume a previous report will be received by its office, blaming a lack of cooperation from Wisconsin’s five Roman Catholic dioceses.

Since Kaul opened the inquiry, the Department of Justice said it has received “over 100 reports of abuse by clergy and faith leaders, or related to how a religious organization has responded to abuse,” Wisconsin Public Radio reports.

“The reports have concerned clergy and faith leaders of multiple religious organizations as well as some reports of abuse not related to any religious organization. Some reports include claims against multiple abusers,” the Department of Justice has said.

Kaul said many reports to his office concern incidents that cannot be prosecuted due to the statute of limitations. The Department of Justice will refer cases to local district attorneys if they are eligible for investigation or prosecution. He declined to say how many cases have been referred.

Other leaders in the Milwaukee archdiocese have criticized the effort.

“Our assertion is the Church is being unfairly singled out by this investigation,” Jerry Topczewski, chief of staff to Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee, told CNA June 9. “We have accepted our past history and worked so vigilantly to correct how things are handled, but it’s the Church that is continually targeted.”

Of the some 578 claimants who filed claims against the archdiocese, 99% involved allegations of abuse before the year 1990. In June, Topczewski said, there had been only one substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by a Milwaukee archdiocese priest since 2000.

“This reinforces the historical nature of these crimes and indicates that education and prevention efforts are effective,” he said.

Peterson told CNA the archdiocese and the Catholic Church in the U.S. have worked to improve its sexual abuse prevention and response programs.

“It’s important to note that no organization in the U.S. has done more than the Catholic Church to become the model of how to address and prevent sexual abuse,” she said. “The Archdiocese of Milwaukee is the largest provider of Safe Environment sexual abuse prevention training in Wisconsin with more than 100,000 people trained.”

“This is part of the stringent preventative measures we’ve put in place which include criminal background checks and an independent reporting mechanism,” she said. “We’ve also provided ongoing outreach to abuse survivors, paid for counselling, and worked with survivors to improve the Church’s response to those who were harmed.”

In April, Kaul had announced the launch of an investigation into sexual abuse in the state’s Catholic dioceses and at least three religious orders. State officials have portrayed the inquiry as an effort to verify public lists of priests credibly accused of abuse.

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 and intends to publish it by the end of the year.

In total, 177 Catholic priests have been identified as credibly accused of abusing minors in the state, though some incidents took place as long ago as the 1950s. Some of the accused priests themselves died decades ago.

Ethiopian bishops call for ceasefire in Tigray crisis

Ethiopia's bishops during their plenary assembly in Mojo, July 2021. Credit: Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat via Facebook.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jul 22, 2021 / 18:01 pm (CNA).

As the war over control of Ethiopia's Tigray region expands into neighboring regions, the country's bishops on Saturday urged an end to the violence.

“It saddens our hearts hearing about war while we all would like to hear about peace and reconciliation,” read a July 17 statement from the Ethiopian bishops' conference. The conference had held its ordinary assembly July 13-16 in Mojo, about 50 miles southeast of Addis Ababa.

Fighting has been taking place in Tigray since November 2020 between the regional government of the Tigray People's Liberation Front and federal forces.

In the last week, the Tigray war has expanded into the neighboring Afar region; it had already crossed into the Amhara region.

Ethiopia's bishops commented that “as Pastors, we cannot but feel the anguish and pain that the people are going through.”

The bishops “prayed for the peace of our country and the safety of our people,” making special mention of Bishop Tesfasilassie Medhin of the Ethiopian Eparchy of Adigrat.

The bishops said they “kindly urge” the parties in conflict to halt the violence and strive toward peaceful co-existence, saying, “War only destroys lives and properties and nothing more and the choice to be made should not be a war but peace and reconciliation.”

Violence, the bishops said, “is never a remedy for wrongs or a solution to a crisis.”

“It is never too late to stop the violence, to acknowledge that the only way forward, for the good of the people, is peace and reconciliation, to satisfy the demands of truth and justice, to ask for and grant forgiveness, to do what is necessary to restore mutual trust, to recognize others as our brothers and sisters, no matter who they are and how deep our disagreements are, and to settle any differences through dialogue and negotiation,” they stated.

The bishops also encouraged the people of God to put their hope in Christ, saying, “It is the only way that we can heal together as a country, as a society, and as a Church.”

They further urge Ethiopians to embrace one another regardless of their differences as “there are no ‘winners’ and ‘losers’, no ‘them’ and ‘us’; we are all brothers and sisters.”

“Living in peace and social harmony may seem like a dream but it is attainable if we stretch out our hands to God, the Father of all, in prayer and allow Him to mold our hearts and minds to think thoughts of peace and fraternity and act accordingly,” the Ethiopian bishops said.

It is their desire, the bishops added, to see a nation where “all Ethiopians embrace each other as brothers and sisters.”

“May The Almighty God who created all of us as brothers and sisters fill our hearts with wisdom to choose brotherhood and sisterhood than hatred and revenge and make us an instrument of peace,” the bishops concluded.

The TPLF dominated Ethiopia's long-ruling political coalition. That coalition was dissolved in 2018 by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's after he took office. The coalition's ethnicity-based regional parties were merged into a single party, the Prosperity Party, which the TPLF refused to join.

Tigrayan leaders have said they were unfairly targeted by political purges and allegations of corruption. They have argued that Abiy’s postponement of national elections due to coronavirus have ended his mandate as a legitimate leader.

On Nov. 4, 2020 Abiy announced a military offensive in response to an alleged attack on a military base in Mekelle, the capital of Tigray. The prime minister aims to arrest the regional government heads and to destroy its military arsenal.

Thousands of people are estimated to have been killed on both sides of the conflict, some in massacres. Each side blames the other for the conflict. The war is also exacerbating famine and a water crisis.

Ninth Circuit favors Washington church in case against state abortion coverage mandate

Natalia Bratslavsky/Shutterstock

Denver Newsroom, Jul 22, 2021 / 17:03 pm (CNA).

A Washington church won its case against a state abortion coverage mandate on Thursday, in a ruling by a federal appeals court.

Cedar Park Church in Bothell, Washington had filed a complaint in March 2019 regarding a state law that required employers – including churches – to cover abortions if their health plans also included maternity coverage. While state law allowed religious groups not to pay for abortion coverage, it required it to be available to enrollees; the church argued that it could not find a health plan without abortion coverage included.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday ruled that the church had “sufficient” cause to claim an injury in the case, and that injury was “fairly traceable to SB 6219,” the state abortion coverage mandate.

“No church should be forced to cover abortions, and certainly not a church like Cedar Park that dedicates its ministry to protecting and celebrating life,” said Elissa Graves, legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) which represented Cedar Park Church in the case.

“We are pleased the 9th Circuit rightly recognized the harm that Washington state has inflicted on Cedar Park Church in subjecting it to this unprecedented mandate,” Graves stated.

The state law SB 6219, signed into law in 2018, required health plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptive drugs and devices; in addition, health plans covering maternity services also had to include “substantially equivalent coverage” of abortions.

While state law allows religious groups not to purchase abortion coverage, it has to be available for all enrollees. 

The church in 2019 had sued over the abortion coverage mandate, stating its "deeply held religious belief that abortion is the ending of a human life, and is a grave sin.” It opposed providing coverage for abortions or abortifacients in employee health plans. 

The church said that following enactment of the 2018 mandate, its health insurer Kaiser Permanente included surgical abortion coverage in the church’s health plan. Kaiser supposedly indicated that it would remove the coverage if a court ruled in favor of the church’s religious exemption to the mandate.

Cedar Park Church said it could not find another employee health plan without abortion coverage, following Kaiser’s changes made to its plan. In its lawsuit, it alleged violations of its free exercise of religion and the establishment clause of the First Amendment, as well as violations of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.

Washington state argued that the church was not required to pay for the abortion coverage, and thus had not suffered an injury sufficient for standing in court.

In August 2019, a federal district court granted the state’s motion to dismiss the case, and denied the church’s motion for a preliminary injunction from the law.

On Thursday, the Ninth Circuit that the district court erred in dismissing the case, and sent the case back to the lower court.

“Washington state has no legal authority to force places of worship to fund abortions and violate their constitutional rights, as well as their religious beliefs,” said John Bursch, ADF senior counsel and vice president of appellate advocacy, on Thursday.

“Today’s decision is a big step forward in preventing the government from targeting churches and we look forward to continue challenging this law at the district court,” he said.

The state’s Catholic bishops opposed the abortion coverage mandate when it passed the legislature in March 2018.

In a March 5, 2018 letter to Gov. Jay Inslee (D) asking him to veto the bill, the bishops said it violated human dignity and infringed on conscience rights.

“Even those who do not share our unconditional commitment to the dignity of every person from the moment of conception, have good reason to support our right to exercise our conscience in accord with the teachings of our faith,” the bishops said.

They warned the law would “place religious employers and others at legal risk simply for following their religious or moral beliefs and exercising the fundamental right of conscience constitutionally guaranteed to all Americans.” the bishops wrote.

California enacted an abortion coverage mandate in 2014, which applied to a group of Catholic consecrated women, the Missionary Guadalupanas of the Holy Spirit. The group filed a complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services, which ruled in 2020 that the state violated federal conscience law in the case.

The federal Weldon Amendment prohibits federal funding of state and local governments that discriminate against individuals or groups that refuse to perform, pay for, or cover abortions.

California’s former attorney general Xavier Becerra refused to comply with the HHS notice of violation in the case in 2020. Becerra is now the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Philippine bishops support pope’s letter on traditional liturgies

Cardinal Jose Advincula of Manila (right) is led to his cathedra inside the Manila Cathedral by Archbishop Charles Brown, papal nuncio to the Philippines, during the cardinal's installation as new prelate of the Archdiocese of Manila on June 24, 2021. / Jose Torres Jr. / LiCAS News

Manila, Philippines, Jul 22, 2021 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines issued a statement on Thursday supporting Pope Francis’ motu proprio Traditionis custodes, which restricted the use of traditional liturgies.

“We express our obedience to and communion with the Supreme Pontiff as he leads us in the realization of the unity of the Church by means of the proclamation of the Gospel and in a particular manner in the celebration of the Eucharist,” said the Philippine bishops in a July 22 statement.

On July 16, Pope Francis issued an apostolic letter “motu proprio” regarding “the use of the Roman liturgy prior to the reform of 1970.” In his letter Traditionis custodes, Pope Francis said that it is now each bishop’s “exclusive competence” to authorize the use of the Latin Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal in his diocese. 

A motu proprio, literally “of his own accord,” refers to a document issued by the pope on his own initiative and personally signed by him.

The letter made changes to Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum. That 2007 letter had acknowledged the right of all priests to say the Traditional Latin Mass, and stated they did not need permission of their local ordinary to do so.

Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal is also referred to as the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, the Tridentine Mass, and the Traditional Latin Mass.

In their July 22 statement, the Filipino bishops said, “We reiterate the appeal of Pope Francis that ‘every liturgy be celebrated with decorum and fidelity to the liturgical books promulgated after Vatican Council II, without the eccentricities.’” 

They added that as “guardians of the tradition,” according to the title of the papal document, each bishop as “moderator, promoter, and guardian of the whole liturgical life of the particular Church” must “implement the provisions of the motu proprio with utmost care, patience, justice and pastoral charity.”

The pope’s motu proprio establishes that “the liturgical books promulgated by Saint Paul VI and Saint John Paul II, in conformity with the decrees of Vatican Council II, are the unique expression of the lex orandi [the law of prayer] of the Roman Rite.”

Quoting from the pope’s letter, the Filipino bishops said that seminarians and new priests should “be formed in the faithful observance of the prescriptions of the Missal and liturgical books, in which is reflected the liturgical reform willed by Vatican Council II.”

The bishops said the motu proprio “gives us the guidelines on the modified use of the 1962 Roman Missal.”

Since the promulgation of Traditionis custodes, some bishops from other parts of the world have said that priests may continue to offer the Traditional Latin Mass in their dioceses, while others have restricted it in some parishes or banned it outright, as in Costa Rica.

Last year, the Vatican’s doctrinal congregation asked the world’s bishops to report on how Summorum Pontificum was being applied in their dioceses, through a nine-point survey. 

“The apostolic letter is a fruit of the consultation with the Conferences of Bishops in 2020 and the recommendations made accordingly by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,” the Filipino bishops stated on Thursday. 

Cuban government preparing a law regulating dissidents’ defense lawyers

People demonstrate, some holding Cuban flags, during a protest against the Cuban government at Versailles Restaurant in Miami, on July 12, 2021. - Havana on Monday blamed a US "policy of economic suffocation" for unprecedented protests against Cuba's communist government as Washington pointed the finger at "decades of repression" in the one-party state. Credit: Eva Marie Uzcategui/AFP via Getty Images.

Havana, Cuba, Jul 22, 2021 / 15:19 pm (CNA).

Cuba’s communist government has drafted a law that would equate the role of dissidents’ defense lawyers with that of public officials.

In May, the People's Supreme Court, Cuba's highest judicial authority, drew up a series of legislative proposals that it sent to the island's legislature, the National Assembly of People’s Power, for passage.

Among these proposals is the “Draft Law on Criminal Procedures,” which could equate the role of a defense lawyer for dissidents with that of a “public employee or official,” putting the lawyer at the mercy of pressure and sanctions from the government

A group of Cuban lawyers, who asked to speak with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language news partner, on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals from the government, warned that this bill "would violate impartiality," because "the Prosecutor's Office represents the state, it’s a public functionary. Imagine if the defense lawyer also were.”

The lawyers pointed out that "this is something that for many years they have tried to accomplish, but a way wasn’t found to implement it by changing the law."

"But now, with a new criminal procedural text, an attempt is being made to introduce it in a very underhanded way," they said.

The most controversial texts of the bill are found in the fifth special provision, which defines what is an employee and a public official.

Subsections e and f state that public employees and officials are part of state agencies “of a public nature” performing “legislative, executive or judicial functions,” among others.

However, subsection g adds that “public employees or officials are also considered those persons who, in the non-state sector, as well as in foreign entities or public international organizations, exercise positions or functions similar to those described in subsections e and f when the criminal acts derive from their relationship with the state or its institutions.”

The Cuban jurists told ACI Prensa that “although the word ‘lawyer’ is not mentioned, the generality of the expression ‘non-state sector’ is the way to allow this interpretation where the judges don’t enjoy authentic judicial independence."

“What they’re looking for is a way to exert pressure on lawyers and, when necessary, get them out of the way. That’s how they would do it.”

“And getting them out of the way,” they warned, could mean “taking them out of circulation completely” by finding them guilty of a crime, “which also would result in their expulsion from the National Organization of Collective Law Firms, the only institution of its kind on the island for the provision of legal services to native born persons who are defendants in a criminal case."

The judges who make up the People’s Supreme Court are elected by the National Assembly of the People’s Power, a one-party legislative body which also elects the country's president.

Communist rule in Cuba was established soon after the conclusion of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, which ousted the authoritarian ruler Fulgencio Batista.

Protests took place across Cuba July 11-12. Protesters cited concerns about inflation, shortages of food and medicine, and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some protesters were beaten, and at least 100 were arrested.

Annual Courage conference focuses on St. Joseph as model of chastity

St. Joseph with the Infant Jesus, by Guido Reni, circa 1635 / Public domain

Denver Newsroom, Jul 22, 2021 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

The annual conference of the Catholic apostolate Courage International concluded last week, focusing on the example of St. Joseph.

"We all need Jesus," said Dr. Greg Bottaro, director of the CatholicPsych Institute, in his keynote speech on July 15, "and we all need Jesus' mom and dad."

Courage International, Inc. is a Catholic apostolate for those experiencing same-sex attraction who are trying to live chastely. The five goals of the apostolate are chastity, prayer and dedication, fellowship, support, and good example. It has more than 150 chapters in 18 countries, and received canonical status in the Catholic Church in 2016 

The 34th annual conference of Courage International was held at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, from July 15-18. Various talks focused on St. Joseph’s example as “model of courageous love,” during the Year of St. Joseph proclaimed by Pope Francis.

Father Philip Bochanski, executive director of Courage International focused his closing address on St. Joseph in line with the 2021 conference’s theme.

In a May interview with CNA, he explained that “Saint Joseph is a model, an encouragement, and an intercessor for our members who strive to make a sincere gift of themselves and bear much fruit as disciples.”

During his July 18 closing speech for the conference, Fr. Bochanski said, "We become who we are only when we give ourselves away."

"It's the gift of self that shows us who we really are," he told attendees.

The conference was made available for attendees both in-person and virtually via a Zoom livestream. According to Courage, 240 registered attendees participated in-person and 480 registered attendees participated virtually; attendees hailed from the United States and more than 20 countries total.

In-person attendees had the opportunity to assist at daily Mass, go to confession and Eucharistic adoration, and attend private meetings and socials.

"You are truly such an important work and witness for the entire Church," Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas told attendees in his homily at the conference opening Mass. "Thank you for the heroic courage that you show for being a part of this ministry."

Father Ricardo Pineda, CPM, of the Fathers of Mercy, spoke of St. Joseph as chaste spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and foster father of Jesus on Friday, July 16.

“No Joseph, no Jesus!," he said. "Saint Joseph had a necessary role in the Incarnation of the Son of God.”

In his interview with CNA in May, Fr. Bochanski explained how St. Joseph’s chastity enabled him to make a total gift of himself to Mary and to God.

“When he [Joseph] became more fully aware of his vocation, the purpose and plan for which he had been created,” Bochanski said, “he was willing to sacrifice the intimate sexual expression of love in his married life, in order to live out all the other responsibilities of being a husband with greater dedication and self-sacrifice.”

Pelosi defends taxpayer-funded abortion while citing Catholic faith 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) / Michael Candelori/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jul 22, 2021 / 12:01 pm (CNA).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday defended efforts to permit federal funding of elective abortions, and cited her own Catholic faith while doing so.  

A draft spending bill that was recently approved by the House Appropriations Committee would allow for federal funding of elective abortions in Medicaid. It excludes the Hyde Amendment, federal policy since 1976 which prohibits funding of most abortions in Medicaid.

In remarks at her weekly press conference in the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, Pelosi said she supports a repeal of Hyde because it is “an issue of health, of many women in America, especially those in lower-income situations and in different states.” 

“And it is something that has been a priority for many of us for a long time,” Pelosi said.

She cited her faith, noting that as “a devout Catholic and mother of five in six years, I feel that God blessed my husband and me with our beautiful family, five children in six years almost to the day.” 

She added that she would not presume to make decisions for other women, regarding their families and abortion.

Pelosi said that “it’s not up to me to dictate that that’s what other people should do, and it [funding of abortion in Medicaid] is an issue of fairness and justice for poorer women in our country.”

President Joe Biden did not include the Hyde Amendment in his budget request to Congress for the 2022 fiscal year; leading Democrats have pushed for an end to the policy in recent years. The Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill recently advanced out of the House Appropriations Committee without the amendment language.

The Hyde Amendment, named for the late Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois, was first enacted in 1976, three years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. Exceptions were later added to the policy for cases involving rape, incest or a maternal mortality risk. 

Since the amendment is not permanent law, it must be attached to individual appropriations bills, or it will not take effect.

The U.S. bishops’ conference has called on lawmakers to preserve the Hyde Amendment, and is currently circulating a petition in support of the pro-life policy which currently has more than 130,000 signatures. 

In January, Pelosi said pro-lifers who voted for former President Donald Trump because of the abortion issue gave her “great grief as a Catholic,” and also defended use of contraception. In response, her local ordinary - Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco - said that she “does not speak for the Catholic Church."

During a podcast with former senator and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Pelosi said that pro-lifers who chose to vote for Trump “were willing to sell the whole democracy down the river for that one issue.”

In a subsequent statement, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, said that “No Catholic in good conscience can favor abortion.” 

“Our land is soaked with the blood of the innocent, and it must stop,” Cordileone said. 

Pelosi has long supported legal abortion. In June, she told a reporter that “I am a big supporter of Roe v. Wade. I am a mother of five children in six years. I think I have some standing on this issue, as to respecting a woman’s right to choose.”

In May, Pelosi said she was “pleased” with a Vatican letter to the U.S. bishops which addressed Communion for pro-abortion politicians. She claimed the Vatican instructed the bishops not to be “divisive” on the issue.

In response, Archbishop Cordileone said the Vatican actually promoted “dialogue” between bishops and pro-abortion politicians, “to help them understand the grave evil they are helping to perpetrate and accompany them to a change of heart.”

“I’m happy to know that Speaker Pelosi said she is pleased with the letter,” Archbishop Cordileone said. “Speaker Pelosi’s positive reaction” to the letter, he noted, “raises hope that progress can be made in this most serious matter.”