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Back-to-school in Uvalde means Catholic school scholarships for hurting families

The first day of school at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Uvalde, Texas, Aug. 15, 2022. / Catholic Extension

Denver Newsroom, Aug 18, 2022 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

The school shooting that rocked Uvalde, Texas continues to affect young children and their families. As these families try to recover, a Catholic charity with a longtime link to the area has funded 30 scholarships so that students may attend the local Catholic school.

“The tuition assistance means everything to my son and our family,” said Oscar Orona, whose son survived the school shooting. “My son has gone through a lot, and still has a long road to recovery ahead. At the very least, he deserves to go to a school where he feels safe.”

Catholic Extension is supporting 30 students who were affected by the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, a city of about 15,000 in south central Texas 50 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.

On May 24, an 18-year-old gunman entered the school and killed 19 children and two teachers. Another 14 children and a teacher were wounded. Sacred Heart Church hosted funeral Masses for 11 of the victims.

The Mass for 46-year-old teacher Irma Garcia also remembered her 50-year-old husband, Joe Garcia, who died of a heart attack two days after his wife’s death.

Eleven of the new students at Sacred Heart were wounded in the shooting. Their former school is less than a mile and a half away.

The first day of school at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Uvalde, Texas, Aug. 15, 2022. Catholic Extension
The first day of school at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Uvalde, Texas, Aug. 15, 2022. Catholic Extension

Joe Boland, vice president of missions at Catholic Extension, was at Sacred Heart School on Monday, the first day of school.

“For many of these children, literally the last memory of being in a school building was an experience of a mass shooting,” Boland told CNA on Tuesday.

“We’re very encouraged by the kind of loving, joyful, faithful environment that they are creating at Sacred Heart School in Uvalde and it really gives us hope that it will be a place where these children can begin the long process of healing after the atrocities that they witnessed,” Boland said.

For more than a century, Catholic Extension has worked to serve Catholic parishes and communities in remote areas. It has deep roots in Uvalde. In 1906 the charity sent aid to build Sacred Heart Church and in 1912 it began to fund the construction of the school, which adjoins the church.

“When this horrible crime occurred Catholic Extension remembered its unique connection to the faith community,” Boland said.

Principal Joseph Olan of Sacred Heart School told CNA he wants the school to be a place “where all children will understand that the love for Jesus is the center of (an) academic journey.”

“My hopes for the school year is that our school culture continues to reflect a place of grace, unity, and love,” he said Aug. 17.

“My overall hope is that the students, families, and community understand that school is more than just a place for teaching and learning. It is a beacon of hope for the community, one that can also educate the heart as much as the mind,” the principal said.

The first day of school at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Uvalde, Texas, Aug. 15, 2022. Catholic Extension
The first day of school at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Uvalde, Texas, Aug. 15, 2022. Catholic Extension

Boland praised the local community’s response to the shooting. 

“We are in awe of how the church there rose to the occasion to really accompany these families, who had experienced unimaginable loss and accompanied the entire community, who have experienced just trauma that is going to take many, many years to get over,” he said.

The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District permanently closed Robb Elementary School and has worked to disperse students to other public schools, though in this small district only four other schools serve primary grade students.

Catholic Extension learned that many families wanted to transfer their children to the nearby Catholic school, but they faced economic barriers. About 80% of the families of Uvalde are low-income households. At least 80 families in total might seek to transfer their students to the Catholic school.

Catholic Extension is asking for donations to its scholarship fund to help meet demand.

“We’re calling upon people to consider giving to the fund,” Boland said. 

The Teresian Sisters, formally known as the Society of St. Theresa of Jesus, have worked at the school for over a century.

With the support of Catholic Extension, sisters from other religious communities will assist them this year. Six additional religious sisters were scheduled to be at Sacred Heart School the first week of class to help provide emotional assistance to both students and teachers. They aim to provide spiritual comfort, peace, and solidarity. Over the next 18 months, about 100 religious sisters will serve Uvalde and the Catholic community in various ways.

“It was very powerful to see a group of Catholic sisters from a number of different congregations just be in the classrooms yesterday with the children,” Boland said. 

Olan, the school principal, described the sisters as “phenomenal.”

“Our students and staff truly enjoy their company, guidance and wisdom,” he said. “I have noticed that students look to them as mentors, role models, and as friends of Jesus!”

Boland said Catholic Extension wants the scholarship fund to provide an “avenue of healing” so that children and their parents “are going to be able to heal, move forward, and do so through the lens of their own Catholic faith.”

“It's a difficult, painful moment for this for this local community, especially the Catholic faith community that has been so much a part of the lives of the people there,” he said. For Boland, the commitment to helping these children and their families is “a proud moment for the Church.”

The Catholic Church and the Archdiocese of San Antonio are “going to continue to walk with these families for the long haul,” said Boland, who noted the presence of Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio at Sacred Heart School’s opening Mass.

Archbishop Garcia-Siller summarized to Good Morning America his message for the schoolchildren: "God wants to bring everyone joy and glory in heaven. but it is not our time yet. So we need to carry on, and to carry on with joy, because our life has meaning.”

Like the local public schools, Sacred Heart Catholic School has announced efforts to upgrade security. All school supplies, including backpacks, have been donated for pre-K through sixth-grade students at the Catholic school.

The Chicago-based Catholic Extension, formerly known as the Catholic Church Extension Society, was founded in 1905 to help provide the sacraments and other aid to Catholics in remote areas. Today, the organization helps more than 15 million American Catholics. Its work includes grants to build churches and repair facilities. Catholic Extension also provides scholarships for emerging leaders and works to empower various ministries.

Why the Vatican's Secretariat of State is set to face a trial in the UK over the London property deal

The Court of Appeal is based at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. / Anthony M. from Rome, Italy - Flickr via Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0).

Rome Newsroom, Aug 18, 2022 / 07:31 am (CNA).

Can a department of the Vatican, a sovereign state, be forced to defend itself in a British court? Following a ruling by the British Court of Appeal, the Vatican’s Secretariat of State is set to face a trial about the purchase of the Sloane Avenue building in London — in a lawsuit brought by the businessman Raffaele Mincione.

The ruling also means there can now be a parallel case to the Vatican’s “trial of the century” — in which the same Mincione is defending allegations of financial crimes, including embezzlement and money laundering.

The London deal 

First of all, a quick recap: In 2014, the Vatican’s Secretariat of State entrusted Mincione with money which was then intended for a real estate investment in London: A former Harrod’s warehouse at 60 Sloane Avenue in Chelsea was to be turned into a luxury property.

After four years, the Secretariat of State decided to remove the management of the property from Mincione and entrust another businessman with the project, Gianluigi Torzi.

Subsequently, the Secretariat of State decided to take complete control of the property. This, however, is a different aspect of the saga, and one the Vatican trial is also dealing with. 

In July, the Vatican finally confirmed the sale of the property — incurring a loss of about 140 million euros, according to Reuters. 

What does the appeal sentence mean?

The British Appeal Court’s sentence states that Mincione can bring his claim against the Vatican.

A lower court had suspended any decision on the matter until the trial held in the Vatican was concluded. Mincione appealed. And the appellate court has determined that the case in the UK can go ahead. 

Furthermore, it appears that the Secretariat of State must also pay the legal costs of the appeal, which are said to amount to 200 thousand pounds. 

The ruling of the court opens up new scenarios. First, it should be remembered that the Secretariat of State is called into question, not the Holy See or the Vatican City State. Therefore, this is not a procedure that affects the sovereignty of the Holy See.

However, it is a procedure that involves a crucial process element: Mincione can resort to English law because, in the contract with which he sold the management of the London property, it was clearly stated that the contract exclusively fell under English jurisdiction.

According to English commercial law, in this specific case, the Secretariat of State is an entity, one of the parties of a contract, and therefore must comply with the commercial laws defined in the contract. 

In technical terms, we are dealing with iure gestionis (private law) and not iure imperi (law of the acts of the public power).

Was the Secretariat of State neutral? 

Mincione appealed the first sentence because he wanted the validity of the stipulated contracts to be recognized first, which was also important in the context of the appeal sentence.

The English judges found the decision of the Secretariat of State to appear as a civil party in the Vatican trial meant the Secretariat of State was not a neutral party.

Justice Peter Jackons wrote, in an opinion that found agreement with the other two justices, Males and Birss, the lower court’s judge's conclusion on what he described as the Secretariat's" central argument therefore "was mistaken.”

Waiting for an end to the Vatican trial would serve no useful purpose, therefore.

The appeal ruling also denies the Secretariat of State the ability to appeal to the Supreme Court if necessary, thus effectively closing the matter and giving the green light to another trial. 

What is more, within 28 days, the Secretariat of State will also have to pay a deposit for the costs of the appeal.

Some open questions to deal with

The English sentence does not enter into the merits of the charges and the trials. The criminal trial underway in the Vatican will eventually rule whether there have been illegal actions or not. 

The appeal sentence indicates that "a starting point may be (although this will be for the Commercial Court to decide) to consider what was the true value of the Property at the relevant time. The essence of the case against the defendants in the criminal proceedings, so far as they concern the Transaction, is that the Secretariat's interest in the Property was acquired for a price very substantially greater than the Property's true value ".

According to the English judges, "that should be a relatively straightforward issue to determine, with disclosure of documents relating to the Transaction and the benefit of expert valuation evidence which is readily available to both parties in this jurisdiction. If the Secretariat paid the market price or thereabouts, it obtained an asset that was worth what it paid and (at any rate so far as the Transaction is concerned) would not appear to have any valid grounds for complaint. On the other hand, if it paid substantially more than the market price, that would, in the absence of some convincing explanation, constitute strong evidence of corruption. "

However, the English Court of Appeal ruling leaves several questions open.

The first: If the contracts were valid, then what is the trial in the Vatican about? The question will have to be defined because if there are contracts, and everything has been done according to them, then it becomes difficult even to prove a possible deception against the Secretariat of State or extortion.

The second: We know from the testimony of the trial that the negotiation in which the management of the Sloane Avenue estate was transferred from Mincione to Torzi without a lawyer appointed by the Holy See. It had been a decision of Monsignor Alberto Perlasca, then head of the administration of the Secretariat of State, who had emphasized how Torzi was serving the interests of the Holy See at that juncture. The contract, however, was signed by him, and the contracts were authorized at the highest level. Why, then, are neither Monsignor Perlasca nor the heads of the Secretariat of State involved in the process? 

These questions will probably be answered in the continuation of the Vatican trial, whose next hearing is set for Sep. 28.

The relics St. Helena brought to Rome from the Holy Land

A fragment on the True Cross on which Jesus was condemned to death / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Rome Newsroom, Aug 18, 2022 / 04:00 am (CNA).

On Aug. 18, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of St. Helena. 

The mother of Constantine the Great, St. Helena is believed to have restored many sites in the Holy Land, where she discovered the cross on which Christ died and other relics from his Passion, some of which she brought back with her to Rome.

These relics can still be venerated today, in Rome’s Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem.

The basilica was originally a chapel designed by St. Helena to hold the relics of the True Cross found on Calvary. The chapel had been part of an imperial palace Constantine gave to his mother when he moved the capital of the Roman Empire to Constantinople.

The church has undergone many changes over time. One of the relics on display in the basilica’s relic chapel was rediscovered inside a wall during a restoration in the 15th century after it had likely been hidden there during an earlier renovation in the 1100s.

The Titulus Crucis, the title panel of the True Cross on which Jesus was crucified. In Latin, Greek and Hebrew, it says "Jesus the Nazarene King of the Jews." Daniel Ibanez
The Titulus Crucis, the title panel of the True Cross on which Jesus was crucified. In Latin, Greek and Hebrew, it says "Jesus the Nazarene King of the Jews." Daniel Ibanez

The Titulus Crucis, Title of the Cross in Latin, was the wooden tablet hung on Christ’s cross explaining the reason for his Crucifixion. In Greek, Latin, and Hebrew it says: “Jesus the Nazarene King of the Jews.”

It is believed the Titulus Crucis was brought to the basilica in the sixth century. Other relics now on display were similarly not part of the relics tradition says St. Helena brought to Rome in the 4th century.

After her pilgrimage to the Holy Land, St. Helena brought fragments of the True Cross, the cross on which Jesus died.

Relics of Christ's Passion in Rome's Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem. The central reliquary holds a nail used in Christ's Crucifixion. Daniel Ibanez/CNA
Relics of Christ's Passion in Rome's Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem. The central reliquary holds a nail used in Christ's Crucifixion. Daniel Ibanez/CNA

She also brought one of the nails used in Christ's Crucifixion.

According to tradition, the Holy Stairs were also brought to Rome by St. Helena in the 4th century.

The Holy Stairs, also called the Scala Sancta, are held to be those which led to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem, and which Christ would have ascended on his way to the trial before his Crucifixion.

The stairs are near the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, and were first opened to the public more than 400 years ago by Sixtus V.

The Holy Stairs in 2019, without their protective wood coverings. Daniel Ibanez/CNA
The Holy Stairs in 2019, without their protective wood coverings. Daniel Ibanez/CNA

So many pilgrims visited the stairs in the first century after they were opened to the public, the marble became worn down, creating deep furrows in the steps.

In 1724, Servant of God Benedict XIII covered the Holy Stairs in wood for their protection. They were uncovered for the first time in 2018, during a year-long restoration project — and in 2019, for a limited time visitors could venerate the marble steps without the wood coverings.

The Holy Stairs in 2019. The marble was uncovered temporarily as part of a restoration project. Daniel Ibanez/CNA
The Holy Stairs in 2019. The marble was uncovered temporarily as part of a restoration project. Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Each of Louisiana’s abortion clinics are leaving the state

Pro-lifers rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., Dec. 1, 2021. / Rena Schild via Shutterstock.

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Aug 17, 2022 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

The three abortion clinics in Louisiana are leaving the state following the state’s Supreme Court Aug. 12 decision that an abortion ban will remain in effect while it is being challenged in the judiciary.

It is unclear when the clinics will have finished the process of leaving and where they will relocate, per a report from WWNO.

Under Louisiana’s trigger laws, abortions may be provided only when "necessary in reasonable medical judgment to prevent the death or substantial risk of death due to a physical condition, or to prevent the serious, permanent impairment of a life-sustaining organ of a pregnant woman.”

The laws will continue to be challenged by the state’s three abortion clinics: Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, Women’s Health Care Center in New Orleans, and Delta Clinic of Baton Rouge.

The abortion providers have argued the laws violate their due process and lack “required safeguards to prevent arbitrary enforcement,” according to Fox News.

Once the clinics leave the state, Louisiana will have no abortion clinics for the first time since 1974, WWNO reported.

Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life, said Aug. 16 that the news of the clinics leaving the state marked a historic day.

“For the first time in almost 50 years, Louisiana will be free from businesses that exist to end the lives of precious unborn babies,” he said. “These businesses will also no longer inflict emotional and physical damage on women in Louisiana.”

“As they depart,” Clapper added, “numerous other Louisiana public and private agencies will remain open to offer help to women and families both before and after birth. As these abortion facilities relocate, we are dedicated to helping other states in the Gulf Coast and across America defend life."

Arlington bishop offers path forward after implementing Traditional Latin Mass restrictions

A Traditional Latin Mass. / Andrew Gardner via Wikimedia (CC BY 4.0).

Boston, Mass., Aug 17, 2022 / 07:20 am (CNA).

Bishop Michael Burbidge offered some additional thoughts on the recent guidelines he issued restricting the Traditional Latin Mass in the Diocese of Arlington. The new restrictions were imposed following liturgical directives given by Pope Francis in July 2021.

“I think we accomplished our goals of showing fidelity to the Holy Father, to the Holy See, and [were] also mindful that we are still providing the celebration of this Mass throughout our diocese,” Burbidge said on the diocese’s “Walk Humbly Podcast” on Aug. 10.

Effective September 8, Burbidge’s directives allow eight parishes to continue offering the Latin Mass. But only three of those parishes are allowed to continue offering the Extraordinary Form in their main church. The other five parishes may only celebrate the Latin Mass in other designated locations. 

The eight parishes are not allowed to publish Latin Mass times in their bulletins, on their parish websites, or their social media channels, per the Vatican’s requirements. Priests are allowed to continue celebrating the Mass ad orientem, which consists of facing the altar. This is not the case in the neighboring Archdiocese of Washington. 

Burbidge recognized that there was disappointment and disagreement in response to his implementation plan. He added that he is grateful to the priests of the diocese who have promised respect and obedience to him.

Burbidge offered a “respectful challenge as a spiritual father” and said that there are two different paths that can be followed when change occurs that one disagrees with. 

“One is that of anger and writing or calling or emailing without really thinking of the weight of the words that became somewhat hurtful, not only to me but to my staff who had to read such a tone,” he said. 

The other path, he added, is to say, “'Wow. The Lord is giving me an opportunity to grow in holiness. Because I am letting go of my will here. I'm trusting that the Lord is at work in his church [and] that the Holy Spirit is guiding his church. It's not what I would do if I was the pope. It's not what I would do if I was the bishop. But I'm a faithful follower of Christ. And I trust that he is acting always through his church.’”

The second path leads to peace, he said.

The rules are meant to conform to the mandates Pope Francis published a little over a year ago in his motu proprio Traditionis custodes, as well as more specific restrictions the Vatican issued in December.

There are few exceptions to the rule, established in Traditionis Custodes, that bishops must designate non-parish churches where the Extraordinary Form may be celebrated. But Burbridge said that he requested that three churches be able to host the Latin Mass within the main parish church and called the Holy See “very gracious” in its decision to approve.

Burbidge said that he intended to choose geographically convenient locations where the Traditional Latin Mass is celebrated so that it wouldn’t be a hardship for Latin Mass-goers to attend. He added that the diocese is fortunate to have priests who are trained in celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass and noted that when assistance is needed to cover Mass times, those priests will be called upon to fill in.

Burbidge said that he hopes the faithful in the diocese understand that the process of implementation was purposely not rushed.

“Don't forget,” he said, “the motu proprio was a year ago,” adding that the pope’s July 2021 directives were effective immediately and were followed by further guidelines in December.

“So, the Holy See was very patient, I think, with bishops saying, ‘well, we need more time to get a better understanding of the use of the extraordinary form, Traditional Latin Mass, in our diocese to hear from the faithful, to hear from their pastors, to read both documents,” he said. 

Burbidge said that his promise of fidelity and loyalty to the Holy Father was “key” when implementing the restrictions, but also mentioned that he prioritized being “mindful of those who find spiritual nourishment in the Traditional Latin Mass.”

He also recommended reading the motu proprio, Traditionis Custodes, the further guidance issued in December, and Pope Francis' most recent apostolic letter on the liturgical formation of the people of God, Desiderio Desideravi.

Arlington is the latest reported diocese to implement Traditionis Custodes. Other dioceses and archdioceses that have recently done so are the Diocese of Savannah, the Archdiocese of Chicago, and the Archdiocese of Washington.

Twenty years ago John Paul II entrusted the world to Divine Mercy with this prayer

Original painting of the Divine Mercy, by Eugeniusz Kazimirowski in 1934 | Pope John Paul II in 1996. / Wikimedia Commons 4.0. | Vatican Media

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Aug 17, 2022 / 04:00 am (CNA).

On Aug. 17, 2002, twenty years ago today, Pope John Paul II entrusted the world to Divine Mercy as he consecrated the International Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Lagiewniki, Poland.

Standing before the image of Divine Mercy, the pope said, “I wish solemnly to entrust the world to Divine Mercy. I do so with the burning desire that the message of God’s merciful love, proclaimed here through Saint Faustina, may be made known to all the peoples of the earth and fill their hearts with hope.” 

He finished his homily with this prayer:

God, merciful Father,

in your Son, Jesus Christ, you have revealed your love

and poured it out upon us in the Holy Spirit, the Comforter,

We entrust to you today the destiny of the world and of every man and woman.

Bend down to us sinners,

heal our weakness,

conquer all evil,

and grant that all the peoples of the earth

may experience your mercy.

In You, the Triune God,

may they ever find the source of hope.

Eternal Father,

by the Passion and Resurrection of your Son,

have mercy on us and upon the whole world!

The consecration and entrustment of the world to Divine Mercy represented the fulfillment of a mission for Maria Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938). Faustina, a poor, young Polish nun experienced visions of Jesus in which he asked her to make his message of infinite love and mercy known to the world. At the request of her spiritual director, she made a record of the visions in her diary.

In his visitations, Jesus asked her to have a painting made portraying him as he appeared to her. In her diary she recorded the vision:

“Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: ‘Jesus, I trust in You.’ I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and then throughout the world. I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish.”

In another visitation, he asked the nun that she help establish Divine Mercy Sunday on the first Sunday after Easter, to offer the world salvation. 

Faustina recorded Jesus’ words: “This Feast emerged from the very depths of My mercy, and it is confirmed in the vast depths of my tender mercies. Every soul believing and trusting in My mercy will obtain it.”

It was the mission that Pope John Paul II also felt called to help complete. 

If St. Faustina was the initial receptacle for the message of Divine Mercy, her Polish compatriot saw to it that the requests Jesus made of the nun were fulfilled, and the devotion spread throughout the world.

As a young seminarian in Krakow in 1940, Karol Wojtyla first learned of St. Faustina’s revelations and the message of Divine Mercy. Later as a priest, he was a frequent visitor to the convent where Faustina lived, stopping by to pray, and hold retreats. When he became Archbishop of Krakow, he led the effort to put Faustina’s name before the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and defended her when the validity of her claims was questioned in Rome. 

As pope, he published his second encyclical, Dives in misericordia (Rich in mercy), on Nov. 30, 1980. 

The following year, while recovering from an assassination attempt, Pope John Paul II traveled to The Shrine of Merciful Love in Collevalenza, Italy, where he revealed that he felt spreading the message of Divine mercy to be his greatest calling.

”Right from the beginning of my ministry in St. Peter's See in Rome, I considered this message my special task. Providence has assigned it to me in the present situation of man, the Church, and the world. It could be said that precisely this situation assigned that message to me as my task before God,” he said.

At the beatification of Saint Faustina on April 18, 1993, the pope spoke of his delight at witnessing the popularity of the devotion to Divine Mercy.

“Her mission continues and is yielding astonishing fruit. It is truly marvelous how her devotion to the merciful Jesus is spreading in our contemporary world and gaining so many human hearts!” said the pope.

Yet there was more to be done. On Divine Mercy Sunday, April 30, 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized Saint Faustina Kowalska, and declared the Second Sunday of Easter as "Divine Mercy Sunday.” 

Twenty years ago today, when Pope John Paul II entrusted the world to Divine Mercy, he shared his hope that the world would hear the message that God is merciful. Quoting from Faustina's diary, he said:

“May this message radiate from this place to our beloved homeland and throughout the world. May the binding promise of the Lord Jesus be fulfilled: from here there must go forth ‘the spark which will prepare the world for his final coming (cf. Diary, 1732)’.”

“This spark needs to be lighted by the grace of God. This fire of mercy needs to be passed on to the world. In the mercy of God the world will find peace and mankind will find happiness! I entrust this task to you, dear Brothers and Sisters, to the Church in Kraków and Poland, and to all the votaries of Divine Mercy who will come here from Poland and from throughout the world. May you be witnesses to mercy!” he said.

Today, devotion to Divine Mercy is popular among Catholics around the world. Churches and shrines and religious orders have dedicated themselves to sharing the message received by St. Faustina and which St. Pope John Paul II considered his “task before God."

To learn more about the Divine Mercy devotion, visit the website for the Divine Mercy shrine in Poland or the National Divine Mercy Shrine in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Rosaries are flying off the shelves after ‘The Atlantic’ article suggests link to ‘extremism’

null / Shutterstock

Boston, Mass., Aug 16, 2022 / 13:04 pm (CNA).

Three online shops that sell rosaries have reported a boost in sales following a controversial article published Sunday in The Atlantic magazine which attempted to link the rosary to right-wing extremism in the United States.  

In the article, Daniel Panneton claimed, “The rosary has acquired a militaristic meaning for radical-traditional (or “rad trad”) Catholics.”

“Militia culture, a fetishism of Western civilization, and masculinist anxieties have become mainstays of the far right in the U.S.—and rad-trad Catholics have now taken up residence in this company,” he continued. 

The article sparked a frenzy of comments on social media, as Catholics shared photos of their rosaries. Some observed that the article's thesis had an anti-Catholic bias.

Shannon Doty, CEO of Rugged Rosaries, told CNA Monday that she saw “a pretty good boost in sales” on both of her websites, and amid the reaction to the article.

Rugged Rosaries sells durable rosaries, inspired by rosaries that used to be used in the military during World War I. 

Doty said that both websites have a loyal customer base and added that “we are not discouraged, and are in fact strengthened in our determination to make strong rugged rosaries for everyone.”

Doty began making rosaries out of paracord for her son’s friends in the army more than ten years ago. She began selling a "Soldier's Combat Rosary" and it gradually turned into a business.

Jonathan Conrad, founder of the Catholic Woodworker, told CNA Tuesday that his company had the best sales day of the month on Monday. 

“It wasn't anything special relative to the rest of the year, but best this month,” he said. 

The mission of Catholic Woodworker, he said, “is to equip families for battle in the modern world, with a scriptural emphasis that we are not contending with flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers of this present darkness.”

The World Apostolate of Fatima USA in Asbury, New Jersey, has also reported a boost in sales of the rosary since The Atlantic article was published. 

David Carollo, executive director of the apostolate told CNA Tuesday that there was a sure boost in sales of the rosary and other religious items. He said there has been lots of “buzz” since the “downright insulting” article ran and added that he plans to respond to it with his own article. The apostolate's social media also gained an increase in followers, he said. 

“We don't pray against people, we pray for people,” he added. “That's what the rosary is all about.”

The apostolate’s mission is to foster devotion to Our Lady of Fatima by helping people understand the Blessed Virgin Mary’s requests to establish peace on earth and spread devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. 

Pierce Toomey, who runs the website ​​ said his rosary sales only received a small increase after The Atlantic article. However, he said, his social media following increased.

Toomey said after starting his rosary business, he realized that masculine-styled rosaries were a tough find at a good price. “To put the rosary back into the hands of young men it needs to appeal to them aesthetically and that won’t happen if the only rosary you can find is rainbow colored or an antique,” he said. 

Toomey made an Instagram story posting a photo of The Atlantic article’s headline and wrote: “Hosting another sale for all the ‘rad trads’ out there ‘co-opting’ the Rosary. Use code ‘theatlantic’ for 20% off any masculine rosary.”


Fr. Donald Calloway, M.I.C., whose talk on the rosary has received over 2 million views on YouTube, told CNA Tuesday that he did not know whether there was a boost in sales at his congregation’s online gift shop. However, he did report a “massive increase” in followers on his social media accounts. 

Roman Catholic Gear, which is included in links three times in The Atlantic article, also told CNA Wednesday that their sales are up and are offering buyers 15% off their orders with promo code "ATLANTIC".

Swiss bishops' Synod report: Catholic Church denies equality to women and excludes LGBT people

The Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Lungern, Switzerland / Shutterstock

CNA Newsroom, Aug 16, 2022 / 09:02 am (CNA).

On Monday, the Swiss Bishops' Conference published a document for the upcoming Synod on Synodality in Rome reporting the Catholic Church was seen as suffering from clericalism —as well as "denying equality to women" and excluding "people with LGBTQ identity."

"Several official church positions on the role of women in church and society, on sexuality and lifestyles are perceived as pejorative and exclusionary," the Swiss report said according to CNA Deutsch, CNA's German-language news partner.

"The Synodal Assembly of Switzerland, held on May 30, 2022, in Einsiedeln Abbey, finalized the report based on comments and requests for adjustments," the bishops explained. 

"This assembly had the task of combining the reports that emerged from the diocesan phase of the synod into an overall national report."

The document says nothing about the number of participants in the surveys that were to be part of the worldwide synodal process. 

In Germany, the "number of faithful who participated in the survey on the World Synod of Bishops in the dioceses" had been only "in the lowest single-digit percentage," reported CNA Deutsch.

"In Switzerland, the debates and the synodal questionnaires raised awareness of the importance of baptism for the life of the Church," the bishops said

"It was emphasized that a synodal church increasingly recognizes 'the royal, priestly and prophetic dignity and vocation' of the baptized."

Two points, in particular, were emphasized, namely "overcoming the experience that many people are excluded from full participation in the life of the church" and a critical examination "of the clericalism that still exists in some places."

The report also said synodality would only succeed once "clericalism is overcome and an understanding of the priesthood increasingly develops as an element that promotes the life of a more synodically oriented church."

On clericalism, the 11-page report said: "Criticism of the exercise of power by ministers is ignited by observations of clerical mentality, abuse of power, ignorance of the realities of life and culture in Switzerland, devaluation of women and rejection of people from the LGBTQ spectrum, retreat into individual identity notions of being a priest, lack of attention to people, disinterest in the poor, etc."

In another section, the report also cites minority votes. These are mainly aimed at "questioning the need for a synodal culture for the Catholic Church, not changing the role of priests and the current hierarchical shape of the Church, limiting the influence of lay men and women in the Church, and more preservation and promotion of traditional forms of liturgy, especially the 'extraordinary form.'"

Pope Francis announced a Synod on Synodality in March 2020 to "provide an opportunity for the entire People of God to discern together how to move forward on the path towards being a more synodal Church in the long-term."

The process to prepare the synod started with consultations at the diocesan level in October 2021. A continental phase is scheduled to commence in March 2023, according to the Synod on Synodality's website. The final and universal phase will begin with the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, on the theme "For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission," at the Vatican in October 2023.

Doctor says Boston gender clinic mutilates and sterilizes children

null / Ink Drop/Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Aug 15, 2022 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

Controversy erupted last week when news of Boston Children’s Hospital’s Gender Clinic for kids took over social media, prompting outrage over the hospital’s “first of its kind” program to facilitate sex-changes for children in the form of hormone treatments and irreversible surgeries.  

According to the hospital’s website, Boston Children’s Center for Gender Surgery offers a “full suite of treatment options” for children and teens to “transfer seamlessly” into transition surgeries, including double mastectomies for children as young as 15 and sterilizing genital surgeries for teens. The program has seen over 1,000 patients, as young as 3 years old. 

Pediatricians are condemning the program, which comes on the heels of news that youth gender clinics around the world are closing and changing guidance due to evidence that transition procedures harm, rather than help, children with gender dysphoria.

Dr. Michelle Cretella, a Catholic pediatrician and a member of the Catholic Medical Association (CMA), the largest association of Catholic physicians across the U.S., condemned Boston’s gender program in a statement to CNA.

“These surgeries do not treat mental illness nor prevent suicide,” Cretella said in a statement, “[but] they do mutilate and permanently sterilize children who have no capacity to assess let alone consent to such life-changing interventions.”

The procedures Boston Children’s Hospital conducts on transgender children and teens include breast augmentation, chest reconstruction, “facial harmonization,” a surgical procedure that modifies the face to appear more feminine or masculine, and surgical techniques to raise or lower a child’s voice to match how they identify.  

The hospital also performs genital surgeries that are known to carry a high risk of complications for teens. Boston’s initial guidance said these surgeries could be performed on minors 17 years of age, then updated its guidance to say 18, after the story broke. 

These include metoidioplasty and phalloplasty – the surgical creation of a penis using existing genital tissue or flaps of skin  – and vaginoplasty, the surgical creation of a vagina.

These procedures are described by surgeons and physicians at Boston Children’s Hospital in a series of YouTube videos that the hospital put out to market the procedures they offer. 

Phalloplasty, as the hospital describes, is a 12-hour surgery conducted on girls seeking to transition into boys. A girl who undergoes phalloplasty must first have a hysterectomy. Then skin is “harvested” to construct a penis from another place on her body, such as the thigh or forearm. The “vagina may also be removed” and the surgeon grafts the new “penis” into place. On average, it takes a patient 12 to 18 months to heal from a phalloplasty. 

Likewise, vaginoplasty is performed on boys seeking to transition into girls, which requires inverting the penis into a vagina which Boston Children’s acknowledges requires a significant recovery time and a “lifetime” of upkeep. Boys who undergo vaginoplasties initially have to use a catheter to urinate, the webpage states, and will need to dilate their “vagina multiple times a day to keep it open,” for the rest of their life. 

Cretella describes these surgeries as “horrors.”

“It is only a matter of time before the physicians who perform these mutilating surgeries on children, and the hospitals that employ them, are bombarded by patient and whistleblower lawsuits. This is ultimately what shined a light on the horrors of Tavistock and led to its being shut down,” she said.

The Tavistock clinic in the UK was closed as a result of an independent review earlier this year, after  complaints made by whistleblowers, patients, and their families – including 25-year-old Keira Bell, who brought a high court case against the clinic for prescribing her cross-sex hormones and facilitating her sex-transition. 

"It is ironic that Boston Children's Hospital's announcement should come about now. Just 2 weeks ago Tavistock Clinic in the UK, the world's largest children's gender clinic, was shut down due to risk of harm from transgender interventions,” she added.

When CNA reached out to Tavistock, a representative said the clinic was not yet aware of Boston Hospital’s new program and therefore had no comment, but explained that Tavistock clinic was shutting down because there was a need for a new model of gender care that is more “holistic.” 

A public relations representative from Boston Children’s Hospital repeatedly told CNA over the phone that the hospital had “no comment” on its gender program, “no comment” to critics who highlight the dangers of surgical sex-changes on children, and “no comment” about Tavistock closing.

‘The Atlantic’ publishes article on the rosary as symbol of far-right, violent extremism

null / CNA

Washington D.C., Aug 15, 2022 / 16:06 pm (CNA).

An article published Sunday in The Atlantic magazine suggests the rosary has become a symbol of violent, right-wing extremism in the United States.

The article set off a frenzy of reactions among Catholics, ranging from amusement to grave concern over what some see as anti-Catholic sentiment.  

The magazine later changed the article’s headline from "How the Rosary Became an Extremist Symbol" to "How Extremist Gun Culture is Trying to Co-Opt the Rosary." Among other edits to the text, an image of bullet holes forming the shape of a rosary was replaced with a picture of a rosary. 

The graphic shows changes made to the article by editors of 'The Atlantic' after publication.
The graphic shows changes made to the article by editors of 'The Atlantic' after publication.

These editorial changes, nonetheless, left the article’s thesis that there is a connection between the rosary and extremism intact. The author's contention was based, in part, on his observations about the use of the rosary on social media and rosaries sold online.

“The rosary has acquired a militaristic meaning for radical-traditional (or “rad trad”) Catholics,” writes Daniel Panneton of the sacramental used in prayer by Catholics for centuries. 

“Militia culture, a fetishism of Western civilization, and masculinist anxieties have become mainstays of the far right in the U.S.—and rad-trad Catholics have now taken up residence in this company,” writes Panneton, whose article includes three links to Roman Catholic Gear, an online shop that sells rosaries.

He describes photos of rosary beads “made of cartridge casings, and complete with gun-metal-finish crucifixes,” along with warrior-themed memes and content catering to survivalists.

The Catholic reaction

Asked to comment on the article, Robert P. George, professor of political theory at Princeton University and former chairman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), told CNA:

"It looks to me like the guy who is politicizing the rosary and treating it as a weapon in the culture war is … Daniel Panneton. I know nothing about the guy other than what he says in the article. I hadn’t heard of him before. Although it’s hard to miss the classic anti-Catholic tropes in the piece, perhaps he isn’t actually a bigot. Maybe he just overwrought and needs to take an aspirin or two and lie down for a while."

Chad Pecknold, theology professor at Catholic University of America, told CNA the publication of the article points to a "theo-political" conflict in the culture.

"The politically elite core in left-liberal media hate Western civilization and they mean to topple every natural and supernatural sign of it. That’s why it’s not sufficient to simply run a piece on right-wing gun cultures, but they must tie it to something which is theologically central to the civilization they feel most threatens their progressive ziggurat. It’s a sign of the theo-political conflict which now grips us; even still, they severely underestimate the power of Our Lady to reign victorious over evil," Pecknold said.

Fr. Pius Pietrzyk, OP, a Dominican priest of the Province of St. Joseph, told CNA, "The article is a long-running stream of inaccuracies, logical fallacies, and distortions."

The author, he said, fails to understand that "the notion of 'spiritual combat' has been with the Church from time immemorial. Recall that a traditional view of Confirmation is that it made one a 'soldier for Christ.'"

"The problem is that The Atlantic does not seem to understand what metaphor means. In no wise, does the notion of rosary as 'combat' imply physical violence," Pietrzyk added.

On Twitter, Fr. Aquinas Guilbeau, OP, responded to the article with a photo of two white-robed friars wearing their traditional rosary beads around their waists. “ WARNING: The image below contains rosaries,” read the caption.

Novelist and essayist Walter Kirn commented that The Atlantic article itself serves as an example of “extremism.”

Eduard Habsburg, Hungary's Ambassador to the Holy See, responded by conceding the rosary is indeed a weapon — used for centuries against evil:

Catholic beliefs seen as extreme

Panneton makes it clear in his article that it’s not just about the rosary.

In the course of his argument, he refers to Catholic beliefs as evidence of “extremism.”

He sees extreme views on masculinity in the Catholic faith. He writes: “The militarism also glorifies a warrior mentality and notions of manliness and male strength. This conflation of the masculine and the military is rooted in wider anxieties about Catholic manhood.”

“But among radical-traditional Catholic men, such concerns take an extremist turn, rooted in fantasies of violently defending one’s family and church from marauders,” he continues.

The Church’s defense of the right to life of the unborn is also evidence of ties to right-wing extremists, according to Panneton.

 “The convergence within Christian nationalism is cemented in common causes such as hostility toward abortion-rights advocates,” he writes.

Pietrzyk, the Dominican priest interviewed by CNA said, "The author takes what are basic Catholic positions on the nature of the Church, Christian morality, and the like, and posit that they are somehow 'extremist.' This is classic misdirection."

The rosary, a “weapon” of choice for centuries 

The rosary, first promoted by the Dominican Order in the 16th century, is a form of prayer based on meditations on the life of Christ. The beads are a tool to help keep track of prayers that are recited before and after the meditations.

Since 1571, popes have urged Catholics to pray the rosary. In doing so they have often employed military terms for these prayer “weapons.”  In 1893, Pope Leo XIII saw the rosary as an antidote to the evils of inequality born of the Industrial Revolution, and during World War II Pius XI urged the faithful to pray it in hopes that “the enemies of the divine name (...) may be finally bent and led to penance and return to the straight path, trusting to the care and protection of Mary.”

More recently, Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have recommended the rosary as a powerful spiritual tool.