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Congressman dares bishops to deny him Communion over support for abortion, contraception

The entrance to the office of Rep. Ted Lieu in Washington D.C. on July 18, 2017. / Katherine Welles/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jun 21, 2021 / 14:25 pm (CNA).

In a series of tweets from his personal social media account over the weekend, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) called the U.S. bishops “partisan hypocrites” and dared them to deny him Communion over his support for contraception, legal abortion, and “same-sex marriage.” 

In a tweet tagging the U.S. bishops’ conference on Friday, Lieu, a Catholic, wrote that he supports contraception, “A woman’s right to choose,” and “The right of same sex marriage.”

“Next time I go to Church, I dare you to deny me Communion,” Lieu wrote to the bishops.

A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles - which includes the territory of Lieu’s congressional district - did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNA on Monday. 

The issue of Communion for pro-abortion politicians has resurfaced following the election of President Joe Biden - a Catholic who supports taxpayer-funded abortion. Although the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted last week to draft a teaching document on the Eucharist, a proposed outline of the document did not single out the president or any public official. 

It included a subsection on “Eucharistic consistency,” or worthiness to receive Communion. The bishops’ doctrine committee said the proposed document would include “a special call for those Catholics who are cultural, political, or parochial leaders to witness to the faith.” 

Some bishops last week did affirm the need to safeguard the Eucharist from scandal, during debates over the document. They cited cases where Catholic politicians who support permissive legislation on grave evils approach to receive Communion, despite having been warned about their positions. 

Canon 915 of the Church’s Code of Canon Law states that Catholics “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.” Then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in a 2004 memo on Communion, said that Catholic politicians who are “consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws” are considered to be formally cooperating in the grave sin of abortion, and in a “manifest” way. 

In such cases, Ratzinger said, the pastor of the official must meet with them and admonish them, instructing them that they cannot receive Communion. If the politicians persist in their pro-abortion advocacy, the minister of Communion “must refuse to distribute it,” he said. 

On Friday, 60 Catholic Democratic members of Congress issued a joint statement asking not to be denied Communion over their stances on the abortion issue. Lieu, one of the signers of the statement, issued a series of tweets from his personal Twitter account that criticized the U.S. bishops, and dared the bishops to deny him Communion.

In other tweets over the weekend, Lieu criticized the U.S. Bishops for not denying communion to Catholic Republicans, especially to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for his extramarital affairs and multiple divorces. Lieu also brought up the case of former Attorney General Bill Barr, a Catholic who sought to resume use of the federal death penalty and pushed for the execution of 13 inmates in the span of seven months. 

He also brought up other hypothetical scenarios and asked the bishops if they would deny Communion in those cases. 

“Dear @USCCB: Are you going to deny Communion to Catholic athletes who use condoms?” he asked. “Or deny Communion to Catholics who believe people should have the right to decide if they want to use contraception?”

“How radical is the @USCCB decision? A Catholic can love Jesus with all her heart, oppose abortion & work at Catholic Relief Services. But if she believes government shouldn’t put women in jail for an abortion, then she can be denied Communion,” Lieu tweeted

Lieu also argued “God’s love is not a quid pro quo transaction.” 

“Dear @USCCB: Instead of denying God to Catholic human beings who disagree with your political views, you should be inviting everyone to God’s table. God’s love is not a quid pro quo transaction. Remember Agape?” he asked. “It’s no wonder Catholic membership has been rapidly declining.”

During their meeting last week, some bishops warned against drafting the Eucharistic document with the section on “Eucharistic consistency,” saying that they could be seen as partisan actors or as politicizing the Eucharist.

Supporters of the document, including the bishops’ pro-life chair, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, said that the bishops needed to call for “integrity” from Catholic public officials. Archbishop Naumann said that those Catholic politicians who contradicted the Church’s teachings on grave issues and approached to receive Communion anyway were the ones politicizing the Eucharist.

“Those who advocate for abortion no longer talk in the language of choice,” Naumann said on Thursday. “They talk about it [abortion] as a right.” Pope Francis, he added, expressed agreement that the issue of abortion is a “preeminent” concern for the Church, during the ad limina meetings with the U.S. bishops in Rome during 2019 and 2020.

“We’re calling everybody to integrity, including those in public life,” he said. 

In their joint statement, the 60 Catholic House Democrats affirmed their commitment to “the basic principles that are at the heart of Catholic social teaching.” The members said they also believe “the separation of church and state allows for our faith to inform our public duties and best serve our constituents.”

They referred to their position on abortion as “support of a woman’s safe and legal access to abortion,” and said that denying Communion to Catholic public officials who support permissive legislation on abortion would be a “weaponization of the Eucharist.”

“We solemnly urge you to not move forward and deny this most holy of all sacraments, the source and the summit of the whole work of the gospel over one issue,” the statement said.  

They added that no elected officials “have been threatened with being denied the Eucharist” on issues such as the death penalty, family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border, or failing to reduce food insecurity. 

On Friday, Biden was asked about a “resolution” by the U.S. bishops to deny him and other publicly pro-choice politicians Communion - even though the bishops’ vote was not on a national Communion policy, but rather on whether to begin drafting the teaching document. Biden replied, “That's a private matter, and I don't think that's going to happen.”

UN experts’ letter to Vatican has ‘no real teeth,’ says Church official

The Palace of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, which houses the meeting room of the UN Human Rights Council. / Groov3 via Wikimedia (CC0 1.0).

Geneva, Switzerland, Jun 21, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

A Church official said Monday that a letter from U.N. experts accusing the Vatican of engaging in “obstructive practices” related to clerical abuse has “no real teeth.”

In the 11-page letter, made public on June 21, the four experts argued that the Vatican was using international agreements to avoid accepting responsibility for abuse committed by members of the Catholic Church.

“We urge the authorities of the Holy See to refrain from obstructive practices and to cooperate fully with the civil, judicial and law enforcement authorities of the countries concerned, as well as to refrain from signing or using existing agreements to evade accountability for Church members accused of abuse,” said the letter, whose existence was first reported by CNA on June 20.

A Church official, who asked not to be named as he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter, told CNA that while the letter lacked “teeth,” it signaled frustration among activists seeking to advance abortion and Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) issues through international institutions.

“It is a sign, however, of how frustrated the pro-abortion and pro-SOGI forces are that they can’t bulldoze their agenda at the U.N. because of the work of several member states and a permanent observer. Hence the concerted attempt to undermine the credibility of the Holy See,” the official said.

The letter was signed by Fabián Salvioli, Mama Fatima Singhateh, Nils Melzer, and Gerard Quinn, who work as U.N. special rapporteurs.

The U.N. defines special rapporteurs as independent human rights experts who work in conjunction with the U.N. Human Rights Council. They are not U.N. staff and work on a voluntary basis.

The text, which was dated April 7 and written in French, built on a letter sent to the Vatican in April 2019 by Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, then U.N. Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children.

The four signatories also referred to a U.N. news release issued in December 2019 welcoming Pope Francis’ decision that the pontifical secret would no longer apply in cases of accusations and trials involving abuse of minors or vulnerable persons.

The letter, written in French, highlighted abuse cases in Europe, North America, and South America. It also described the evolution of the Vatican’s response to clerical abuse under Pope Francis.

After noting the lifting of the pontifical secret, it said: “We regret, however, that the request to report crimes to civil authorities is not yet mandatory, and we urge your Excellency’s government to consider making this request mandatory as soon as possible.”

The Vatican is concerned by the introduction of mandatory reporting laws around the world that would require priests to violate the seal of confession. It stressed the “absolute inviolability” of the seal in a note issued in July 2019.

Commenting on the widespread nature of clerical abuse cases, the U.N. experts’ letter said, “we remind you of the obligation of states, as stated in international human rights standards, to take measures of justice, truth, reparation, and guarantees of non-repetition to respond to serious human rights violations.”

The letter asked the Holy See to provide detailed responses to the points it raised within 60 days, after which time, it said, the letter would be made public.

It concluded with an appeal to the Vatican “to urgently establish an investigative mechanism to clarify and establish the truth about all allegations of sexual abuse of children, and their cover-up, by clerics of the Catholic Church in various countries of the world, and to proceed with the reparation due to the victims.”

“Such a mechanism must be independent, autonomous from ecclesiastical authorities, and in conformity with international norms,” it said.

The Vatican had not commented on the special rapporteurs’ letter at the time of publication.

But the Holy See outlined its position on some of the matters raised in the letter in a 2014 document, written in response to a critical report by the Committee of the U.N. Convention for the Rights of the Child, which touched on matters such as abortion and canon law.

The text said that the committee had “overlooked important distinctions between the Holy See, Vatican City State and the universal Catholic Church.”

Catholic archbishop in Ukraine: ‘It is still springtime in our Church’

Archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki of Lviv, Ukraine. / Echo Katolickie.

Lviv, Ukraine, Jun 21, 2021 / 07:00 am (CNA).

An archbishop has said that the Catholic Church in Ukraine is still enjoying a “springtime” despite rising secularization.

Archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki said that the Church was thriving amid secular currents, economic difficulties, and war in the east of the country.

“It is still springtime in our Church because we have recovered many churches and new ones are also being built. We have ordained new priests. We also have the possibility to create more parishes,” the archbishop said in an interview with Echo Katolickie, a Catholic weekly based in Siedlce, eastern Poland.

Ukraine is a diverse country of 44 million people bordering Belarus, Russia, Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland. Around two-thirds of the population are Orthodox Christians.

The country is home to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the largest of the 23 Eastern Catholic churches in full communion with the Holy See.

There are also other Catholic communities, including the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church, the Armenian Catholic Church, and the Latin Church.

Mokrzycki has served as archbishop of Lviv, western Ukraine, since 2008, overseeing pastoral care of Latin Rite Catholics.

Thirty years ago, when Ukraine declared independence from the Soviet Union, the structures of the Latin Church were renewed. Today, it has seven dioceses, three major seminaries, and three theological institutes.

The 60-year-old archbishop said that progressive secularization presented a serious problem for the Church in Ukraine.

“Because of the ease with which contact can be made through the internet and on the phone, the spirit of secularization is also reaching Ukraine,” he said.

“Young people, looking for an easier life, are going to Europe. The authority of teachers and parents is declining because the influence of secularization is also spreading.”

He continued: “Similarly, demography is declining, and as a result, there are fewer vocations, although the percentage of vocations is still quite high.”

“We have to put much effort into fighting against secularization, and take care of the children and the youth, by indicating true values that will help to form their personalities and characters well, so that they do not lose, as St. John Paul II said, their life, which is unique and for eternity.”

Mokrzycki has a deep personal connection to the Polish pope. He served as John Paul II’s deputy personal secretary from 1996 to the pope’s death in 2005. He then spent two years as secretary to Pope Benedict XVI.

The archbishop noted that devotion to St. John Paul II was widespread in Ukraine.

“In many of our parishes, there are now monuments representing him, churches put under his name, and city parks, streets, and squares that bear his name,” he said.

“I have also given many relics to our communities in Ukraine. People treat St. John Paul II as their intercessor, he is the patron saint of married couples and young people. All of his teachings help us in our spiritual formation.”

Since February 2014, Ukraine has been in a state of war with Russia over the status of the eastern regions of Crimea and Donbas.

Archbishop Mokrzycki told Echo Katolickie that “many young people from western Ukraine are called to military service. Each week, three or four soldiers are killed (including many from western Ukraine). This causes great pain and loss in every family, for the Church, and the state.”

He added: “We try to be close to people who have lost a loved one in the war by helping materially and taking care of the family of the deceased, comforting them.”

The pandemic has hit Catholic parishes hard. It’s also taken a toll on priests

Mazur/cbcew.org.uk.

London, England, Jun 21, 2021 / 03:25 am (CNA).

Today was supposed to be England’s “Freedom Day.” Back in February, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a weary populace that, all being well, the country could look forward to the end of a nationwide lockdown on June 21.

But all wasn’t well. With a third wave of COVID-19 spreading across the country, Johnson announced that the easing of restrictions in England would be delayed to July 19.

But with “Freedom Day” tantalizingly in sight, CNA spoke with pastors across England about the pandemic’s long-term impact on their parishes.

The conversations revealed that the coronavirus had not only hit parishes hard, but also exacted a deep toll on priests.

/ Mazur/cbcew.org.uk.
/ Mazur/cbcew.org.uk.

Parishioners lost

All of the pastors acknowledged that a significant number of parishioners had vanished during the crisis -- and were unlikely to return.

Fr. Alexander Lucie-Smith, pastor of St. Peter’s, Hove, a seaside town in East Sussex, said that numbers were now about 60% of what they were before the pandemic, though giving was at around 70%.

He said: “The money situation is not as catastrophic as we thought it was because the people who disappeared tend to be those who were least committed and giving least money. They also tend to be the young.”

He explained that some young families were wary of bringing their boisterous children to Mass at a time of tight sanitary regulations.

“It’s not just in this parish, but in many parishes, this is the case,” he said. “This is going to have a knock-on effect also on the Catholic schools. Many of the Catholic schools are Catholic in name only. They’ve got declining numbers of Catholics in them. And I think that will carry on.”

“What’s going to happen in five, 10, 20 years’ time is that a lot of churches are going to close, simply because the money is not there to maintain these very expensive buildings.”

Conscious of the need to reconnect with parishioners, Lucie-Smith has visited local Catholic schools every week to talk to students and parents. His parish is also hosting a number of social events over the summer, including concerts and an initiative modeled on the Courtyard of the Gentiles.

Fr. Alexander Sherbrooke, pastor of St. Patrick’s, Soho, said the pandemic’s impact was so profound that it was possible to speak of “a pre-COVID and a post-COVID Church.”

Throughout the crisis, his parish in London’s West End has engaged in a remarkable outreach to the local homeless population, offering not only food, but also adoration, access to sacraments, and the rosary.

“The pandemic has obviously been a time of purification,” he said. “Certain people have fallen by the wayside. Others have remained faithful. But those who have remained faithful have really drilled down in their faith in certain key areas.”

“First of all, our volunteers -- there are a good 150 of them -- have developed a deep personal relationship with the poor. And so there’s a real sense of community, of mutual belonging.”

“Secondly, there’s a much deeper desire for a proper celebration of Mass, a deeper desire for adoration, more solemnity in the sacramental life. In other words, in the world of moving boundaries and lack of certainty, the liturgy, the Mass, adoration, is something which is ever more important.”

“And I think also what’s important to them is doctrinal clarity. If I’m going to be a Catholic now, post-COVID, I’ve got to be sure what I’m about, what I believe in, and how to articulate that.”

/ Mazur/cbcew.org.uk.
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Fr. Rick McGrath, the pastor of St. Wilfrid’s, Burgess Hill, in the county of West Sussex, said that attendance was now up to “COVID capacity.”

Under current guidelines, all churches in England have a reduced capacity due to the requirement for “social distancing.” Some parishes have fewer Masses than before and require parishioners to book online.

McGrath, a 76-year-old Minnesota native, said that in addition to those who no longer attend Mass, there is a group of Catholics who watch the livestream but do not physically attend church.

He said that while he did not see this as ideal, it was “better than nothing if you’re housebound.”

In Fr. Stephen Pritchard’s parish, Our Lady of the Assumption, Gateacre, a suburb of Liverpool, a team has made hundreds of phone calls to parishioners throughout the pandemic. Despite these efforts to reach out, the parish has lost about 25% of Mass-goers.

“We’re trying to connect with a group of 100 people to see what situation they’re in, individually,” he said.

“They’ve all got different scenarios in their lives. So we have a group of people working on that now, ringing all those people up.”

/ Mazur/cbcew.org.uk.
/ Mazur/cbcew.org.uk.

“I think that for some Catholics this is the exit moment and they will have disaffiliated,” he said, stressing that it is vital for the Church to “know who people are” and not “break the thread with people.”

“The local and the personal are really significant,” he said. “But also, I think there’s an opportunity here for the whole Church in the country to look again at ‘What does the Eucharist mean?’”

“The Eucharist is indispensable, irreplaceable, and of highest worth to Catholics. So what does that really mean for us now, especially those people who maybe ‘watch Mass’ on a Sunday in their pajamas having a cup of tea. What does it mean to be a Eucharistic community?”

He referred to a message called “The Day of the Lord,” issued by the bishops of England and Wales in April. The bishops appealed for Sunday Mass to be restored “to its rightful centrality,” after Catholics were dispensed from the obligation to attend at the start of the pandemic.

“It was good that the bishops signaled the importance of the Eucharist in the lives of Catholics,” Pritchard said. “I felt encouraged by what the bishops said.”

“I think we need more of a dialogue, nationally, to talk about what is the significance of the Eucharist for us as Catholics today.”

Other priests said that they had felt disconnected from the Church’s national leadership during the crisis and wanted more guidance on how to rebuild their parishes after the pandemic.

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Turning outwards

Pritchard noted a new desire among his parishioners to go out and serve the wider community.

“There’s been a real sense of a willingness to reengage with our local community in a way that we haven’t done as much before,” he said.

“There’s always been an outward focus but it’s really been made real in the last 14 months.”

While Mass numbers have dropped, the collection has increased. The parish has supported an initiative that feeds 700 local people a week. Donations to the food bank have risen fourfold.

“How the parish rallied around and contributed to that I think was amazing,” he said.

McGrath, who is responsible for several churches, said that he had noticed a similar phenomenon in his parish.

“We’ve had a fair number of elderly parishioners who aren’t on email or the internet. We’ve got people who come every Friday afternoon and pick up stacks of newsletters and deliver them -- food banks, shopping for people, all of that. It’s been terrific,” he said.

/ Mazur/cbcew.org.uk.
/ Mazur/cbcew.org.uk.

Moving online

Lucie-Smith said that livestreamed Masses and online sacramental courses were likely to continue after the pandemic. But he felt they were a poor substitute for face-to-face encounters.

Pritchard agreed that the “hybrid model” of sacramental preparation would endure, with a mixture of online and in-person meetings.

“We have been doing our baptism preparation via Zoom and that’s been quite successful. There have been good benefits. Part of it, I think, we would keep hybrid,” he said.

Sherbrooke is committed to livestreaming Sunday Mass for as long as necessary. He suggested that livestreamed Eucharistic adoration, in particular, was valuable as viewers could share their prayer requests online while it was taking place.

McGrath, a self-declared “technophobe,” praised parents in his parish who have helped to prepare children for their First Communion via the internet.

But he said he hoped that online meetings would not be the norm after the pandemic.

“I admit I’m speaking from an old age and I’m not very good on technology, but I just don’t see how the Church can exist without that sense of community -- real, living community,” he commented.

/ Mazur/cbcew.org.uk.
/ Mazur/cbcew.org.uk.

Burning out

Lucie-Smith, a seemingly eternally youthful priest, said that the pandemic had drained him of energy.

“There was a headline in the paper I saw that said that people who worked throughout the pandemic are now burnt out. I think that applies to a lot of clergy,” he said.

“I really do feel that I am completely burnt out.”

Sherbrooke suggested that priests have been affected by the pervasive sense of loneliness associated with lockdown.

“I think that because the priest by definition needs people around him, when those people have been taken away, there’s a real sense of loss. I think that’s been terrible for priests and some will have fallen by the wayside,” he said.

Pritchard observed that priests have had to cope with constant change throughout the pandemic. They have had to master complex, ever-evolving regulations to prevent the spread of the virus, while overcoming new obstacles to serve their parishioners.

/ Mazur/cbcew.org.uk.
/ Mazur/cbcew.org.uk.

“I think that priests have been incredibly resourceful, have dug deep to lead in new ways. Many have had to upskill in innumerable ways. Having to adapt to constant changes has been wearisome,” he said.

“The first lockdown for me was not only looking after funerals in my own churches but two other churches where the priest was shielding. So much death and only relating to people remotely was very challenging. We need to care for priests as many are not too good at sharing their needs with others.”

Another pastor mentioned that he had heard of two priests committing suicide in the past 12 months. He did not know if the cases were related to COVID-19, but speculated that the pandemic might have been a factor.

In contrast, McGrath noted that some priests were thriving amid the pandemic.

“Like the general population, it is my impression that some priests have suffered some anxiety during all this, but those in my area, or that I am in contact with, seem to have done very well: following the rules and guidelines, but not slavishly, and reintroducing Masses and baptisms as soon as possible,” he said.

“One friend of mine, still working despite long-term cancer, has actually blossomed in all this. Because of his health, he had reduced his weekday Masses, but he reinstated daily Mass and still does three weekend ones, and rising to the challenge also of livestreaming, spends a great deal of time preparing superb homilies every day.”

“I can’t speak for everyone, and I do know of at least one priest (fairly newly ordained) who is off with depression. But overall it seems to me that most have done their best and that has been pretty good.”

Currently, it’s not possible to quantify the number of priests in England suffering from pandemic burnout. The priests CNA spoke with may be unrepresentative. But their comments suggest that, as “Freedom Day” approaches, the deeper impact of the coronavirus crisis on the Church may only just be coming to light.

Statement by UN ‘experts’ seeks to discredit the Holy See

The meeting room of the United Nations Human Rights Council, in the Palace of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. / Ludovic Courtès via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Rome Newsroom, Jun 20, 2021 / 14:35 pm (CNA).

A group of U.N. “experts” is expected to issue a statement aimed at forcing the Holy See and the Catholic Church to surrender to abortion and gender ideology, under the guise of demanding that the Vatican takes all necessary steps to prevent abuse.

With the Human Rights Council’s latest session due to begin on June 21, experts from the U.N., including several special rapporteurs, are poised to publish a statement urging the Holy See to introduce all necessary measures to prevent sex abuse.

The statement, which goes beyond the capacities of the U.N. experts, has the hallmarks of an attempt to undermine Catholic doctrine by using the sex abuse scandals.

In February 2014, a report by the Committee of the U.N. Convention for the Rights of the Child waded into the Church’s teaching on human sexuality and canon law. In May 2014, a report from the Committee of the U.N. Convention against Torture tried to consider the abuse of children as torture to push the Holy See to introduce new measures.

In December 2019, Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, the then U.N. Special Rapporteur on sale and sexual exploitation of children, praised Pope Francis’ decision that the pontifical secret would no longer apply in cases of accusations and trials involving abuse of minors or vulnerable persons.

But the Dutch jurist also urged the Vatican to “enforce mandatory reporting for all clergy and staff who have knowledge of these heinous acts.”

In the end, the final scope of these statements is to force the Holy See to change canon law to adapt it to a “human rights protocol” that subtly backs or mentions “gender perspective” and “sexual and reproductive rights” (that is, a push for the “right” to abortion).

In the statement, which CNA has seen in advance of publication, the experts refer to a letter addressed to the Holy See in April 2021, where they expressed “utmost concern about the numerous allegations around the world of sexual abuse and violence committed by members of the Catholic Church against children, and about the measures adopted by the Catholic Church to protect alleged abusers, cover up crimes, obstruct accountability of alleged abusers and evade reparations due to victims.”

The experts complained that the Holy See’s concordats and agreements with states “limit the ability of the civil authority to question, compel the production of documents, or prosecute people associated with the Catholic Church.”

They also asked the authorities of the Holy See “to refrain from obstructive practices and to cooperate fully with the civil, judicial, and law enforcement authorities of the countries concerned.”

The statement also targets two Catholic principles. The first is the seal of confession, which prevents priests from reporting the contents of confessions to civil authorities.

On July 1, 2019, the Apostolic Penitentiary issued a note reiterating that the seal of confession is inviolable. The note responded to the increasing attacks on the seal of confession in many countries, such as Australia and Chile.

The second principle is that of the Holy See’s sovereignty. The experts specifically want to see an end to the distinction between the Holy See and the Vatican City State, which ensures the protection of religious freedom, so that states can have full jurisdiction over the Catholic Church.

The letter follows up the statement of Maud de Boer-Buquicchio and will be signed by four other special rapporteurs. Special rapporteurs are part of the U.N. system. They work on a voluntary basis and are independent of any government or organization.

The April letter sent to the Holy See lists several cases: a German bishops’ conference 2018 report on abuse; a commission on abuse set up by the French bishops’ conference; the issue of residential schools in Canada, which the pope recently addressed at the end of his June 13 Angelus; a Chilean report on abuse, which lists 344 allegations; 12 allegations of abuse disclosed by the archbishop of Bogotà, Colombia, in 2019; the case of the Provolo Institute in Argentina; and also abuse cases within the Legionaries of Christ.

The letter also refers to the Holy See’s participation in the 1990 Convention for the Child’s Rights and the Convention against Torture.

The request of the experts goes, however, beyond their capacity, knowledge, or authority. The experts cannot urge a state to adopt procedures or to change its law. Nor can they question how a state is putting into action their proposals.

Figures consulted by CNA suggest that the U.N. experts are bent on using their position to “give the Holy See a pie in the face,” pushing for doctrinal changes in the Catholic Church and, at the same time, weakening the Holy See as a state and an actor in the international arena.

Leah Darrow: ‘Babies Do Not Kill Dreams’

Leah Darrow on EWTN Pro-Life Weekly / EWTN

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 19, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

Leah Darrow is calling on society to recognize the beauty of children and to challenge the notion that abortion is necessary for women’s sucess.

Darrow rose to fame as a contestant on America’s Next Top Model. But at the height of her modeling career, she saw a vision from God that forever changed her life. She exited the industry and returned to her Catholic faith. Today, she juggles her time between caring for her six children and serving as a Catholic speaker and advocate for the unborn.

As a mother, she said, she embraces the pro-life position on a personal level.

“I can understand there being a fear of going into motherhood and all the concerns we have because it is such a grand vocation – it's a beautiful vocation,” she told EWTN Pro-Life Weekly June 10. “But my babies have not kept me from my hopes and my dreams or aspirations.”

While some celebrities and, more recently, Texas high school valedictorian Paxton Smith, claim that abortion is necessary for women to succceed, Leah stressed that her children make her – and the world – better.

“They've helped me dig a new path that's offered more clarity of what God has called me to be,” she explained. “My babies are a part of my dreams, they're a part of my hopes and my aspirations. And the world is truly better for it, because of my children and also for who I am because of my children in the world.”

Even if the world doesn’t appreciate it, motherhood is a gift.

“Our culture has slowly and systematically convinced us that motherhood is the enemy. And motherhood is not a dream and it's not an aspiration and it's not a hope that young women should have,” she said. “That is a lie.” 

According to Darrow, motherhood “is not a killer of dreams.” She pointed to Mary as an example.

“We know that Our Blessed Mother is a mother of every hope and every dream and every aspiration that should be at the foundation of our heart,” she said of Christ’s Mother. “The role of motherhood really needs to be redeemed in our world.”

Darrow’s comments came in response to Smith, whose valedictorian speech when viral earlier this month after she went off-script to speak about abortion and her state’s recent heartbeat legislation.

Smith told her class, “I am terrified that if my contraceptives fail, I am terrified that if I am raped, then my hopes and aspirations and dreams and efforts for my future will no longer matter.”

But Leah stressed hope in the midst of Smith's fear. 

“Now more than ever, mothers have more support and resources around them if and when they are ever faced with an unplanned pregnancy,” Leah said. Those resources include pregnancy centers, which offer pregnant women and new moms free help in the form of health care, clothing, educational classes, and housing.

Pro-lifers must also challenge the lie that abortion is necessary for women, Darrow said. 

“That's what we have to be at root at and to root out,” she emphasized, “because babies do not kill dreams, only abortion does that.”

EU founding father Robert Schuman declared 'venerable' by Pope Francis

Robert Schuman in August 1949. Credit: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-19000-2453 (CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Vatican City, Jun 19, 2021 / 05:45 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has declared venerable the French statesman Robert Schuman, known as a key “founding father" of the European Union.

After a June 19 meeting with Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the pope advanced the sainthood causes of Schuman and six others.

“Schuman dedicated his life to serving the common good, seeking peace and reconciliation with Germany to create a community of European states,” Fr. Bernard Ardura, an official in charge of proposed French canonizations, told AFP.

Schuman’s efforts were “the work of a Christian, which serves as an example,” said Fr. Ardura, even if the statesman “remained very discreet about his personal life and his faith.”

Robert Schuman was born in Luxembourg in 1886. He had family roots in Lorraine, contested territory lost by France to Germany in the Franco-Prussian War. After Lorraine returned to France, Schuman served as one of the region’s Members of Parliament, in the Christian Democrat political tradition.

At one point during the Second World War, he was arrested by the Gestapo and secretly imprisoned, according to his biography on the website of the Robert Schuman European Centre.

He was France’s Minister of Foreign Relations when he announced the forming of the European Steel and Coal Community on May 9, 1950. The move is considered a first step towards the creation of the European Union.

Schuman was also a key negotiator for the North Atlantic Treaty and the European Coal and Steel Community. He served as the first President of the European Parliament which named him “Father of Europe” when he left office.

Schuman died in the Diocese of Matz in 1963. His cause for sainthood began there over 30 years ago.

With the new decree, Pope Francis also recognized a miracle attributed to Venerable Johann Philipp Jeningen, a 17th century Jesuit priest from Bavaria, Germany, paving the way for his beatification.

Fr. Jeningen was known for his holiness, asceticism, and missionary efforts. He dreamed of being sent as a missionary to India in the footsteps of his hero St. Francis Xavier, but instead was called to create a Marian shrine in neighboring Ellwangen, Our Lady of Schönenberg, which drew many pilgrims.

Ten religious sisters martyred during the Soviet occupation in Poland will also be beatified with the papal authorization of the decree.

Sister M. Paschalis Jahn and nine companions of the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Elizabeth were killed by Red Army soldiers in 1945 as they served the sick and vulnerable. One of the martyred sisters, Sister Rosaria (Elfrieda) Schilling, was raped by about 30 Red Army soldiers before she was shot.

The sainthood causes of three other religious sisters also advanced with the decree. The pope recognized the heroic virtue of Aniela Róża Godecka (1861-1937), who founded the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Poland; Italian nun Orsola Donati (1849-1935) of the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Mother of Sorrows; and Sister Maria Stella of Jesus (1899-1982) of the Congregation of the Religious of Mary Immaculate in Spain.

Servant of God Fr. Severino Fabriani (1792-1857), the founder of the Congregation of the Daughters of Providence for the deaf in Italy, was also declared venerable.

Pope Francis spoke highly of Robert Schuman in a letter signed on Oct. 22, encouraging Europeans to “rediscover the path of fraternity that inspired and guided the founders of modern Europe, beginning precisely with Robert Schuman.”

St. John Paul II also praised Schuman in 2003 for spending his political life “in the service of the fundamental values of freedom and solidarity, understood fully in the light of the Gospel.”

Religious sisters in Illinois recovering after car crash

Chaikom/Shutterstock.

Springfield, Ill., Jun 18, 2021 / 21:01 pm (CNA).

Three Catholic sisters are on the mend following a multi-car crash in Springfield, Illinois that prompted an outpouring of prayers and support from the local community. 

The sisters of the order of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George - Sr. M. Magdalene, FSGM, Sister M. Clementia, FSGM, and Sister M. Michael, FSGM - were in a car that was struck from behind June 9 by another driver. The sisters’ car was propelled into another car and “became an accordion,” said Sr. Clementia.

As of June 15, Sr. Clementia and Sr. Magdalene had both been released from the hospital to recover at their motherhouse. Sr. Michael underwent hip reconstruction surgery at St. Louis University Hospital and is still hospitalized. 

“In God’s mercy and with all our prayers, our Sisters are now on the recovery path,” said Mother M. Mediatrix, FSGM, provincial superior of the community, to The Catholic Post. 

“We continue to pray for their full and complete healing and for anyone else that may have suffered injury in this multi-car accident,” said Mother Mediatrix, FSGM.  “We give God our gratitude and love.” 

Sr. Clementia suffered a broken left leg, ribs, and vertebrae, and will have to wear a back brace for the next 12 weeks. She told The Catholic Post, the newspaper of the Diocese of Peoria, that she was lucky she wasn’t killed in the crash. 


“We shouldn’t be here,” she said to The Catholic Post. “So many miraculous things happened.”

Sr. Clementia said that she escaped more serious injury when her legs somehow were pushed to the top of the car’s dashboard. 

“Had they not, I would have been crushed under the car,” she explained. 

In an unusual coincidence, some of the first responders to the crash scene were a bishop, a priest, and a seminarian. They were a few cars behind the sisters when the crash occurred, and immediately ran to the sisters. 

Sr. Clementia could not recall the name of the bishop, but thinks he was from Texas. 

“I looked at the bishop and at first I’m thinking, ‘Is that a bishop?’” she said to The Catholic Post. The mystery bishop “went right to work on anointing us and praying over us. It was incredible.”

In response to the crash, the diocese responded with an outpouring of prayers, including two prayer vigils, to support the sisters in their recovery. 

“That’s gotten us all through it,” said Sr. Clementia. “It amazes me. It’s so beautiful.”

Sr. Clementia said that the prayers are strengthening her to “fight for my recovery, and it shows me there really is beauty in suffering, joy in suffering.”

“I never understood that until now,” she said.

Biden doesn't expect not to be admitted to Holy Communion

President Biden addresses the 2021 National Prayer Breakfast / National Prayer Breakfast

Washington D.C., Jun 18, 2021 / 20:15 pm (CNA).

On Friday, US President Joe Biden was asked about a "resolution" of the U.S. bishops to deny him and other pro-abortion politicians Communion – even though their vote this week was on drafting the teaching document, not any national policy of denying Communion.

“That’s a private matter and I don’t think that is going to happen,” Biden said.

Te U.S. bishops held their annual spring general assembly this week. The bishops debated drafting a document on the Eucharist, which would include a sub-section on “Eucharistic coherence,” or worthiness to receive Communion.

In a proposed outline of the document, the bishops’ doctrine committee cited the special need for Catholic public officials to uphold Church teaching in public life.

Biden, who is the second Catholic US president, has pushed for taxpayer-funded abortion while his administration seeks to deregulate medical abortions and to fund international pro-abortion groups.

On the 48th anniversary of the US Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris issued a statement supporting Roe and stating their intent to codify it in law.

Biden repealed the Mexico City Policy, an executive policy that bars U.S. funding of foreign NGOs that provide or promote abortions. 

In domestic abortion policy, Biden moved to allow for federal funding of elective abortions by introducing his budget request for the 2022 fiscal year without the Hyde amendment. That policy, enacted in law since 1976 as a rider to budget bills, prohibited federal funding of most elective abortions in Medicaid.

Gaudium et spes, Vatican II’s 1965 constitution on the Church in the modern world, said that “from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes.”

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a doctrinal note in 2002 on participation of Catholics in political life. The document stressed the need for Catholics to adhere to Church teaching, especially on grave issues such as abortion and euthanasia.

Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the CDF, cited the note in his letter to the U.S. bishops in May on the matter of Communion for Catholic public officials who support permissive legislation on grave evils.

In October 2019, while campaigning for president, Joe Biden was denied Communion at a parish in the Diocese of Charleston. A Charleston diocesan policy, which is also that of the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Diocese of Charlotte, states that “Catholic public officials who consistently support abortion on demand are cooperating with evil in a public manner. By supporting pro-abortion legislation they participate in manifest grave sin, a condition which excludes them from admission to Holy Communion as long as they persist in the pro-abortion stance.”

$50 million anonymous gift supports students at Los Angeles Catholic schools

Catholic school students. / cheapbooks/Shutterstock

Los Angeles, Calif., Jun 18, 2021 / 19:01 pm (CNA).

An anonymous donor has given more than $50 million to the Catholic Education Foundation of Los Angeles for financial support for students at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Catholic elementary and high schools.

 

“The kindness and love reflected in this gift are beyond words,” Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles said June 16. “This gift will change the lives of countless young men and women, for generations to come, opening up opportunities for the future they could never have dreamed of. On behalf of all these young people, their families, and the whole family of God, we thank God for this benefactor and this beautiful expression of love for the Church.”

 

The gift will be allocated over a five-year period for students at the 212 Archdiocese of Los Angeles Catholic schools in Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara counties, the Catholic Education Foundation of Los Angeles said in a statement.

 

Douglas Cooper, executive director of the Catholic Education Foundation, voiced “tremendous gratitude and appreciation” for the “transformative gift.” The tuition awards will help new enrollees but also students who left “but now will be able to return.”

 

“There is no greater gift than a Catholic education which teaches values of faith, family and service,” Cooper added. “We are beyond grateful to this anonymous donor for their kindness, leadership and generosity, and we look forward to welcoming these students and families into our family of Catholic schools.”

 

The foundation encouraged local families interested in information about Catholic schools and financial assistance to contact the Catholic schools office or visit its website.

 

“A gift of this magnitude will change the lives of thousands of students, particularly our most needy,” said Paul Escala, senior director and superintendent of schools for the archdiocese. “We are deeply grateful for the confidence and faith this gift reflects in our teachers, leaders and families.”

 

“This is a remarkable opportunity to welcome new and legacy families to our Catholic schools,” he said.

 

About 78% of students in archdiocesan Catholic schools come from an under-represented minority background and half of these schools are in inner city or urban areas.

The education foundation aims to provide tuition aid to “the most financially deserving students” at Catholic elementary and high schools in the Los Angeles archdiocese. In 2021 the foundation gave over $12 million in tuition assistance to more than 10,000 students. Over the last 34 years, it has given $225 million in aid to 202,000 students.

 

Catholic schools “rely on contributions and other support to maintain education that is affordable and accessible for all families,” the education foundation said, claiming that Catholic schools in California save the state more than $2 billion in educational funding each year.

 

All of the archdiocese’s schools will resume in-person learning when the school year begins in August.

 

The education foundation said students never stopped learning during the pandemic due to an immediate transition to distance learning. Some 96% of elementary and high schools reported regular attendance.

 

There are some 51,000 students at parish and diocesan elementary schools in the archdiocese, and about 14,000 high school students at parish and diocesan schools, according to the archdiocese’s website.

 

The U.S. is home to about 6,000 Catholic schools, down from some 11,000 in the 1970s. About 1,000 have closed since 2007. At least 100 Catholic elementary and high schools across the United States did not reopen for the fall semester last year, with many suffering from low enrollment and decreased donations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

In April, the Los Angeles archdiocese announced the closure of six elementary schools and their consolidation with other schools. The schools had faced financial challenges long before the pandemic, officials said.

 

The archdiocese’s Catholic schools website said their schools “staved off catastrophic enrollment decline” during the pandemic. Though a 20% decline was forecast, elementary schools showed a 13% enrollment decline, and high schools a 6% decline.

 

The schools served over 2 million meals to high-need students and families at 40 schools through the National School Lunch Program. It helped supply personal protective equipment to all its schools and re-opened 100 schools with modified in-person instruction.

Sister Dale McDonald, public policy director of the National Catholic Educational Association, told CNA in June 2020 that about 80% of most Catholic schools’ operating budgets is based on tuition. Many Catholic schools hold major fundraisers in the spring, and many of these have had to be canceled, postponed, or significantly altered due to the pandemic.