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DOJ investigates Planned Parenthood for fetal tissue sales

Washington D.C., Dec 8, 2017 / 03:43 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The U.S. Department of Justice has launched a formal investigation of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest provider of abortions, for their role in the alleged sale of baby body parts.

“The Justice Department’s investigation of Planned Parenthood is a major turning point in the battle to hold the nation’s largest abortion business accountable,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, said Dec. 8.

“Evidence shows Planned Parenthood sought to squeeze every last opportunity for cash from the sale of hearts, brains, lungs, and livers of aborted children… that ends now,” Dannenfelser continued.

The Justice Department confirmed Dec. 7 they were formally looking into allegations against Planned Parenthood for the illegal sale of aborted baby body parts.

The investigation comes two years after undercover journalist David Daleiden released footage of Planned Parenthood employees negotiating the price and monetary compensation of fetal tissue from aborted babies. The footage also includes conversations from representatives of StemExpress, a company that provides biological material for medical research company.

“Over two years ago, citizen journalists at the Center for Medical Progress first caught Planned Parenthood’s top abortion doctors in a series of undercover videos callously and flippantly negotiating the sale of tiny baby hearts, lungs, livers and brains,” said Daleiden Dec. 8, according to Fox News.

“It is time for public officials to finally hold Planned Parenthood and their criminal abortion enterprise accountable under the law,” he continued.

While federal law allows compensation for fetal tissue to be used for research purposes, the amount of money received from clinics is not allowed to be of “valuable consideration,” and should only cover the costs of transportation and preservation.

Planned Parenthood and other clinics were recommended to the Justice Department for investigation by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in December 2016, after publishing the “Human Fetal Tissue Research: Context and Controversy” report.

Grassley reported that the committee found “substantial evidence” suggesting that Planned Parenthood and other parties “may have violated” the law by charging more money for fetal tissue and baby body parts than was actually recommended.

Stephen Boyd, the Justice Department assistant attorney general for legislative affairs, originally requested the unredacted documents from the Senate Judiciary Committee from the 2016 report. Last month, the FBI additionally requested these documents for investigative purposes.

“The Department of Justice appreciates the offer of assistance in obtaining these materials, and would like to request the Committee provide unredacted copies of records contained in the report, in order to further the Department’s ability to conduct a thorough and comprehensive assessment of that report based on the full range of information available,” stated Boyd, according to Fox News.

Planned Parenthood has denied accusations of breaking the law.

In US, abortion rates reach new low

Washington D.C., Dec 8, 2017 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- A report from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that abortion rates in the country are at a historic low since the nationwide legalization of abortion in 1973.

According to the study, abortion rates have fallen 22 percent between the years of 2005-2014. In 2014, the CDC cited 653,639 performed abortions, while over 1.4 million abortions took place in 1990.

“The CDC report indicates the percentage of abortion rates declined across all race, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds, which means pro-lifers are continuing to make great strides in protecting women and the unborn child,” Kathleen Neher, the president of the National Catholic Social Workers Association, told CNA.

The study included both surgical abortions and chemical abortions, which include abortifacient pills that end a pregnancy before 8 weeks gestation.

A number of different factors are playing into the overall decline in abortions. The CDC reported that “the proportion of pregnancies in the United States that were unintended decreased from 51 percent in 2008 to 45 percent during 2011–2013.” It pointed to increased use of long-acting contraceptives such as IUD and hormonal implants as one reason for this decrease.

However, another factor is the declining birthrate in the U.S. The National Center for Health Statistics found that the number of babies delivered in the U.S. has declined by about 1 percent over the past few years. It said that 3,941,109 babies were born in the U.S. in 2016, which was 37,388 fewer babies than were born in 2015.

Fertility rates hit a record low in the U.S. in 2016, bringing the number of births to 62.0 per 1,000 women, compared to the previous 62.5 births.  

“People are choosing less frequently to be parents, and women who are pregnant are choosing less frequently to abort the baby,” said James Studnicki, a statistics expert from the Charlotte Lozier Institute, according to The Hill.

While Neher considers the overall decline of abortions to be a positive sign, she had additional concerns about the high number of women living in poverty who are still choosing abortion.

“This is a concern, as various factors contribute to these decisions – the day-to-day complexities of economic challenges, and the break-down of the family in our society, often leaving women to make these choices on their own,” Neher said.

“The response to this is to support and offer women alternative choices,” she continued, saying efforts to promote alternatives should include support for adoption, prenatal care, housing, and connecting women to programs that care for the dignity of both mother and child.  

The number of abortions could potentially hit an even lower rate in the year to come. Of the abortions performed in 2014, about 1.3 percent took place after 20 weeks gestation. The practice of abortions after 20 weeks could be outlawed if the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act becomes a law. The bill has passed the House but is currently pending in the Senate.

While the CDC numbers do show an overall decline in abortions, the study is limited in its findings. States are not obligated to report their abortion data, and California, New Hampshire and Maryland did not include their numbers in the report.

 

Pope Francis celebrates the Feast of the Immaculate Conception

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis left the Vatican on Friday afternoon, headed for Rome’s central Piazza di Spagna in order to pay homage to the statue of the Immaculate Conception there.

Listen to Seán-Patrick Lovett's report:

Surrounded by crowds of pilgrims, tourists and local Roman residents, the Pope recited a specially-composed Prayer to Our Lady in which he asked her, among other things, to help us “rid ourselves of all pride and arrogance and to recognize ourselves for what we really are: small and poor sinners” – but always Mary’s children.

The Pope’s visit to the memorial column dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, included the traditional blessing of a garland of flowers which Roman firemen placed on the statue of Our Lady which dominates the summit of the ancient marble column.

Visit to Basilica of Mary Major

On his way to Piazza di Spagna this year, Pope Francis also stopped to visit the Basilica of St Mary Major where he laid a floral wreath below the icon of Salus Populi Romani, depicting Our Lady and the Christ Child. This is the same image the Pope always prays at both before and after his apostolic journeys abroad.

Alphonse Ratisbonne

Before returning to the Vatican later in the afternoon, Pope Francis paid a private visit to the Rome Basilica of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte.

It was here, 175 years ago, that a French Jew by the name of Alphonse Ratisbonne, experienced a vision of the Virgin Mary. At that moment, in the words of the Pope, “from being an atheist and enemy of the Church, he became a Christian”.

Even more so, following his conversion, Alphonse became a Jesuit priest and missionary and ended up cofounding his own religious Congregation dedicated to Our Lady of Sion.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis' prayer to Mary on the Immaculate Conception

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis made his annual visit to Rome's Spanish Square on Friday to pray at the foot of the column and statue of the Immaculate Conception.

A litany of present-day viruses and their corresponding antibodies: this was at the heart of Pope Francis’ prayer, offered to Our Lady on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, when he visited Rome’s Piazza di Spagna on Friday afternoon.

Dogma of the Immaculate Conception

The Pope recited the prayer before the column and statue of Mary, dedicated in 1857 to mark the dogma of the Immaculate Conception which had been defined by Pope Pius IX three years earlier. The dogma teaches that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the moment of her conception, by a special grace of God, was preserved from all stain of original sin.

Mary accompanies us on our journey

The text of the prayer begins by thanking Our Lady for accompanying different categories of humanity of their respective journeys: families, religious, workers, the sick, the elderly, the poor, and those who have immigrated to Rome “from places where there is war and hunger”.

Viruses of our time

The Pope then goes on to identify a series of what he calls “viruses of our times”, which range from indifference to fear of the foreigner, from hypocrisy to the exploitation of others. These must be combatted, said Pope Francis, with the “antibodies that come from the Gospel”.

Here is the full translated text of the prayer:

Immaculate Mother,

For the fifth time I come to your feet as Bishop of Rome,
to pay you homage on behalf of all the inhabitants of this city.

We want to thank you for the constant care
with which you accompany us on our journey,
the journey of families, parishes, religious communities;
the journey of those who daily, and sometimes with difficulty,
pass through Rome on their way to work;
the journey of the sick, the elderly, the poor,
the journey of so many people who immigrated here from places where there is war and hunger.

Thank you, because as soon as we turn our thoughts,
or a fleeting glance, towards you,
or recite a quick Hail Mary,
we feel your maternal presence, tender and strong.

O Mother, help this city develop the "antibodies" it needs
to combat some of the viruses of our times:
the indifference that says: "It’s not my business";
the unsociable behavior that despises the common good;
the fear of the foreigner and those who are different from us;
the conformism that disguises itself as transgression;
the hypocrisy that accuses others while doing the same things;
the resignation to environmental and ethical degradation;
the exploitation of so many men and women.

Help us to reject these and other viruses
with the antibodies that come from the Gospel.
Let us make it a good habit
to read a passage from the Gospel every day
and, following your example, to keep the Word of God in our hearts,
so that, like a good seed, it may fruit in our lives.

Immaculate Virgin,

175 years ago, not far from here,
in the church of Sant'Andrea delle Fratte,
you touched the heart of Alphonse Ratisbonne, who at that moment,
from being an atheist and enemy of the Church, became a Christian.

You revealed yourself to him as a Mother of grace and mercy.
Grant that we too, especially in times of trial and temptation,
may fix our gaze on your open hands,
hands that allow the Lord's graces to fall upon the earth.
Help us to rid ourselves of all pride and arrogance,
and to recognize ourselves for what we really are:
small and poor sinners, but always your children.

So, let us place our hand in yours
And allow ourselves to be led back to Jesus, our Brother and Savior,
and to our Heavenly Father, who never tires of waiting for us
and forgiving us when we return to Him.

Thank you, Mother, for always listening to us!
Bless the Church that is in Rome.
Bless this City and the whole world.

Amen.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope at Angelus: ‘Mary is ever-green oasis of humanity’

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis reflected on the mystery of the Immaculate Conception at his Angelus address on Friday, December 8th, as the Church celebrates the Marian Solemnity.

Listen to Devin Watkins' report:

Ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, Pope Francis said the words of the angel Gabriel in the Gospel of Luke contain the key to understanding the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

The Pope said Gabriel calls Mary “full of grace”, even before pronouncing her name.

In this way, he said, God “reveals the new name, which God has given her and which befits her more than the one given by her parents.”

The Holy Father said “full of grace” means that “Mary is full of the presence of God”.

“And if she is entirely pervaded by God, there is no place in her for sin. This is extraordinary,” he said, “because unfortunately the whole world is contaminated by evil.”

Mary alone, he continued, is the “ever-green oasis” of humanity. She is “the only uncontaminated person, immaculately created to welcome fully – with her ‘yes’ – God who came into the world”.

Pope Francis went on to say that, when we call Mary “full of grace”, we are paying her “the greatest compliment, which is the same offered her by God.”

Because Mary is without sin, he said, she is immune to ageing, since “sin makes one old, not age”, and worthy of the name tota pulchra, or “all fair” or “completely beautiful”.

“Since her youth depends not on age, her beauty consists not on external appearances. Mary, as the day’s Gospel shows, does not excel in appearance. She is from a simple family; she lived humbly in Nazareth, an almost unknown place.”

Finally, Pope Francis reflected on the secret of the “beautiful life” lived by Mary, “full of grace”.

“In many paintings [of the Annunciation] Mary is depicted as seated before an angel with a little book. This book is the Scriptures. So Mary often listened to God and reflected with Him. The Word of God was her secret: close to her heart, He took on flesh in her womb.”

The Holy Father invited all to ask for the grace “to remain young by saying ‘no’ to sin and to live a beautiful life by saying ‘yes’ to God.

(from Vatican Radio)

Orange's Vietnam-born Auxiliary Bishop Luong dies at age 77

Orange, Calif., Dec 7, 2017 / 05:09 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Bishop Dominic Dinh Mai Luong, the first Vietnam-born bishop to serve in the U.S., died Thursday, Dec. 6, at the age of 77.

He had served as an auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of Orange, one of the largest dioceses in the country, until his 75th birthday in 2015.

The future bishop was born Dec. 20, 1940 in Minh Cuong, about 50 miles from Hanoi in what was then French Indochina. He was the second of 11 children. The family was forced to move many times due to political instability, the Orange County Catholic reports.

He attended a French-Vietnamese school and then a minor seminary. In 1956, at the age of 16, his bishop sent him to the U.S. to continue his priestly formation. He would not return home until 1979 because of the Vietnam War.

Luong was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Da Nang on May 21, 1966 by Bishop James A. McNulty at the Basilica of Our Lady of Victory in Lackawanna, N.Y.

After ordination he received a bachelor’s degree in physics and master’s degrees in biology and psychology. He taught biology at a junior seminary in Buffalo, where he also served as associate pastor at Saint Louis Parish.

He served many refugees in New Orleans, where he would become director of the archdiocese’s Vietnamese apostolate and became founding pastor of Mary, Queen of Vietnam parish. He was incardinated into the Archdiocese of New Orleans in 1976.

He worked as director of the National Center for the Vietnamese Apostolate and directed the U.S. bishops’ pastoral care for migrants and refugees.

St. John Paul II named him a bishop in April 2003, as a response to the major growth of the Church in the Orange diocese and the growing numbers there of Catholics from Vietnam.

Bishop Luong had retired in 2015, but remained active at St. Bonaventure Church in Huntington Beach, Calif., which has a large Vietnamese community.

He had been writing a book on Marian apparitions in Vietnam and led the monthly Lectio Divina at St. Bonaventure.

NM bishop prays for student victims of school shooting

Gallup, N.M., Dec 7, 2017 / 04:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Two students at Aztec High School in Aztec, N.M., were killed in a shooting Thursday morning, and the local bishop has prayed for the victims and the community.

“St. Paul tells us in Romans 12:21 'Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.' In the coming days, many survivors and families will also be facing the fear and psychological effects that inevitably follow any tragedy. Please join me in offering prayers for the students and families,” Bishop James Wall of Gallup said Dec. 7.

“Please also join me in offering our support to the community of Aztec. We mourn the loss of life with you.”

The diocese is holding a prayer vigil at 4:30 this afternoon at St. Joseph parish in Aztec, about 120 miles northeast of Gallup.

The shooter is also dead. According to local outlet KRQE News 13, no other injuries have been reported, and the school has been evacuated.

Nearby schools, including those in Bloomfield, were put on lockdown as a precaution.

Please pray for the students, families, and community of Aztec. https://t.co/U0vhWduhN4

— Diocese of Gallup (@DioceseofGallup) December 7, 2017

Hormonal birth control still increases breast cancer risk, study finds

Boston, Mass., Dec 7, 2017 / 03:21 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A recent Danish study shows that women on any kind of hormonal birth control are susceptible to an increased risk of breast cancer, upending the common belief that modern methods of hormonal birth control are safer than those of decades past.

The research published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine included a group of 1.8 million women between the ages of 15-49 over the course of more than ten years. Of the 1.8 million, there were 11,517 cases of breast cancer.

According to NPR, the leader of the study, Lina Morch, said it found “a roughly 20 percent increased risk [of breast cancer] among women who currently use some type of hormonal contraception” compared to those who used non-hormal contraceptives.

Additionally, the research found that for every 100,000 women on hormonal birth control, there are 68 cases of breast cancer every year, compared to 55 among those not using hormonal birth control.

The study highlights modern methods of birth control, including pills, intrauterine devices which release hormones, and other implants.

While the link to breast cancer from older methods of birth control was widely known, this study was able to provide evidence that even modern methods of hormonal birth control, such as hormone releasing IUDs, are still causing breast cancer in women.

“This is an important study because we had no idea how the modern day pills compared to the old-fashioned pills in terms of breast cancer risk, and we didn’t know anything about I.U.D.’s,” said Dr. Marisa Weiss, an oncologist, according to the New York Times.

“…if you add up all the millions of women taking the pill, it is a significant public health concern,” Weiss continued.

The study’s authors did note that factors such as physical activity, breast feeding, and alcohol consumption were not taken into account during the study, which could also be linked to the increase of breast cancer cases.

An epidemiologist also noted that the contraceptive pill is also linked to a reduced risk of ovarian, endometrial, and perhaps colorectal cancers.

The study, while providing crucial information on the increased risks of breast cancer with hormonal birth control usage, adds to the growing list of side effects common with even modern methods contraception.

A Swedish study released last spring found that birth control pills are linked with a decrease in women’s overall health and well-being. Last fall, another Danish study showed a strong connection between hormonal contraception and depression, particularly among teens.

Some women have opted for another form of birth control, without the hormonal side effects: metal coils. However, this form of contraception is not without its own set of risks, including chronic pain, nickel poisoning, exhaustion, and the risk of perforated organs.

While the Catholic Church upholds its long-taught beliefs that contraception is immoral because it divorces procreation from the sexual act, it does approve of Natural Family Planning, which allows couples to remain open to life.

More women are opting for NFP methods, or fertility awareness tracking, because of its hormone-free, health-conscious promise. Fertility awareness methods, such as the Creighton Model or Billings Method, are natural ways to achieve or delay pregnancy with an effectiveness rating competitive with the pill.

This priest is going to be on The Great American Baking Show

Cincinnati, Ohio, Dec 7, 2017 / 12:26 pm (CNA).- Many Catholics can name a priest who is renowned for his academic abilities, mission work, or inspiring homilies. But what about a priest who has received national attention for his baking skills?

Meet Father Kyle Schnippel, a pastor at two Cincinnati parishes who hopes his upcoming presence on The Great American Baking Show will offer non-Catholics insight into the human side of a priest’s life.

“My world is as much a foreign language to them as their world is to me. So what I wanted to do was just [be] a priest and [show] the joy,” Schnippel told CNA.

The third season of ABC’s American baking series will premiere on Dec. 7 at 9 p.m. EST. Throughout six episodes, the bakers will travel around the U.S. competing in holiday-themed challenges.

Schnippel is the pastor at Corpus Christi and St. John Neumann parishes in Cincinnati. Although baking had a large presence in his childhood home, his doughy adventures seriously took off about three years ago, when he decided to prepare the baked goods for his first parish festival.

As time went on, he began to bake more often, and found that he enjoyed sharing his gifts with others.

“It’s so much different than what we normally get to do as priests. We don’t normally get to see the results of what we do. With baking we get to see those results, smell those results,” and see the joy it can bring to people, he said.

Father Schnippel received a link to the show’s online application from a friend on Facebook. After providing detailed information on his baking experience and knowledge, the priest received a call a few months later, followed by a Skype interview.

He was then flown out to New Jersey, where he participated in a mock trail of the series’ competitions and presented his baked goods for the judges. Shortly after that, he received a call that he had been selected for the show.

At one point on the show, Father Schnippel said he was asked to prepare a recipe in advance that had a strong personal connection and coincided with the holiday season. Looking back on past Christmases, he decided to use his mother’s cinnamon roll recipe.  

“Instead of cutting into individual cinnamon rolls, I rolled up the dough and cut it lengthwise to have all these pleats and braided that…It’s the same flavor, but I decorated it up, putting it together in a new way.”

Father Schnippel was not permitted to talk about the competition, but he had to explain his several-weeks absence to parishioners.  

According to the Catholic Digest, he told them that he was going to be gone for an evangelization project – which wasn’t a lie.

“I made it a requirement that I be allowed to wear clerics on the show because it’s a reflection of who I am,” he told the Catholic Digest.

“After filming, one of the other contestants said something along the lines of, ‘Thank you so much for being such a joyful witness of your faith and the priesthood. Even though I am not Catholic, I got a sense of the joy that you have in who you are and what you do. Thank you for sharing that with us.’”

Father Schnippel told CNA that being on a baking show could also help break down stereotypes that some people have of Catholic priests, seeing them only as an austere religious figure.

“There is this impression in our world that priests are always serious, they only do religion. I wanted to break down that [perception], and say ‘hey, we are still real men. We still have interests and excitement in a lot of other ways’,” he said.

“You can take the priesthood very seriously, but also still have a lot of fun.”

When asked about his favorite moments from the show, he said that he enjoyed the positive feedback offered by the judges and the baking comradery that developed between the contestants.

Even during the competition, there were acts of encouragement and support, he said, pointing to moments when he was able to help other contestants remove food from the oven or stack items when they needed an extra hand.

“That came back to me later, just those memories of encouraging each other and supporting each other makes this particular show very positive for Christmas.”

And while he was not allowed to talk about the outcome of the competition, Fr. Schnippel expressed hope that his participation in the show would inspire people to face daunting challenges in their own lives.

“I hope that what people will take from the show is accepting a challenge where they may not think that they can do it. I never thought I would be able to get on this show. So taking the risk and doing something extraordinary, you never know what’s going to happen.”

 

Commentary: Tolerance, wedding cakes, and a free society

Washington D.C., Dec 7, 2017 / 11:11 am (CNA).- This week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The result of the case, which is expected to be delivered this summer, is likely to have considerable impact on the future of free speech, religious liberty, and free enterprise in the United States.

The case concerns a Christian baker, living and working in Colorado, who refused to make a custom wedding cake for a gay couple who planned to marry in Massachusetts. He offered them any other service his bakery provided, but would not make a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage. He says that to custom create and bake their cake, a kind of creative expression, would be participation in something he finds morally objectionable.

The state of Colorado prohibits discrimination or denial of service based on sexual orientation, even though, at the time, gay marriage was not legal there.

The legal arguments of the case seem to hinge on whether cake-baking is a sufficiently artistic activity to qualify as protected speech. Nevertheless, the basic point which the Supreme Court will settle, one way or another, is whether “I can” also means “you must”  

If, as we so often tell ourselves, we live in a tolerant and pluralistic society, it goes without saying that there will always be people whose ideas or actions we are obliged to tolerate, even as we are unwilling to celebrate them. Justice Kennedy acknowledged this in the decision of Obergefell vs. Hodges.

In this case, the bakery was not refusing to tolerate the couple’s wedding, it simply did not wish to participate. The baker did not try to stop the wedding from happening, or condemn it, he just declined to lend his talents to the celebration.

During Tuesday’s arguments, Justice Sotomayor raised a line of thought that would be disastrous to the idea of a mutually tolerant society, if it were to become the basis for the Court’s decision.

She observed that many US military bases are in relatively isolated parts of the country, many of which are predominantly Christian. This, she said, could mean that homosexual servicemen and women might be subjected to real hardship if they wish to get married and no local bakeries are willing serve their needs. Such an argument reveals the potential implications of a verdict against Masterpiece Cakeshop.

Suppose that rather, than a gay wedding, a servicewoman wants an abortion and there are only Christian doctors in the area. Could a doctor be coerced into aborting the child? Could a doctor be compelled to end a patient’s life if voluntary euthanasia becomes a legal right?  Could Christian doctors be compelled to act against their conscience, and barred from practice if they refuse?

Chief Justice Roberts asked if, should the court find against Masterpiece Cakeshop, Catholic adoption agencies could be compelled to place children with same-sex couples. That question was answered in the affirmative ten years ago in the UK;  every Catholic adoption agency in the country closed as a result.

The fact that the baker’s case is being heard at all, and that the bakery was sanctioned in the first place, demonstrates the extent to which some civil authorities are prepared employ the coercive power of the state to force a social consensus where none exists, or even needs to exist.

On Tuesday, Justice Sotomayor observed that while “we can’t legislate civility and rudeness,” we can legislate behavior. This seems to bespeak a view of the law in which ordinary social interaction is fair game for policing.

The argument that the state can, or even should, force individuals to act against conscience so as not to offend the “dignity” of others reflects a sad social outlook. It presupposes that two people with conflicting views cannot possibly coexist, that one must be subjugated to the other, and that it is the state’s function to pick the winner.

The state compelling an unwilling baker to make a wedding cake is akin to an adult forcing two children to play together. It is the very essence of overreaching state paternalism.

A free society presumes that people will disagree. But a community thrives when its members learn to freely accommodate each other, and to progress towards true consensus, ideally reflecting truth. Forcing a consensus where none exists only entrenches divisions, and it makes all of us answerable to the state, not each other, for the simple human task of getting along.

Ed Condon is a canon lawyer and legal commentator working in the UK and the United States. On Twitter he is @canonlawyered. His opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Catholic News Agency.