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Posted on 09/20/2023 23:25 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 20, 2023 / 19:25 pm (CNA).
Attorney General Merrick Garland strongly objected to accusations that the Department of Justice would discriminate against Catholic Americans during a House Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday.
Garland called the suggestion of anti-Catholic bias “outrageous” and “absurd” when questioned about a memo that originated with the Richmond Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The memo, dated Jan. 23 and leaked to the media in February, revealed an FBI Richmond investigation into “radical traditionalist” Catholics and their possible ties to “the far-right white nationalist movement.” It suggested “trip wire or source development” within Latin Mass communities to mitigate risks.
The FBI quickly retracted the memo shortly after it was made public. Both Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray have condemned the memo.
During the hearing on Wednesday, Rep. Jeff Van Drew questioned Garland about the memo, which led to a tense exchange.
“Do you agree that traditional Catholics are violent extremists?” Van Drew asked Garland.
“I have no idea what ‘traditional’ means here,” Garland responded. “...The idea that someone with my family background would discriminate against any religion is so outrageous, so absurd.”
Garland, who is Jewish, has spoken about his family escaping persecution in Europe. He said in a speech in April that his grandmother was one of five children. He said that she escaped religious persecution before World War I but that two of her siblings remained in Europe and were ultimately killed during the Holocaust.
Van Drew pressed Garland further, saying: “It was your FBI that … was sending undercover agents into Catholic churches.” He asked Garland whether he believes that traditionalist Catholics are extremists.
Garland stated that he was “appalled by that memo” and told Van Drew that “Catholics are not extremists.” However, the attorney general said he did not know whether anyone was fired for drafting or circulating the memo.
Posted on 09/20/2023 22:50 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 20, 2023 / 18:50 pm (CNA).
As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is making his case to the United Nations and the U.S. Congress for more military aid against Russia, a growing number of Republican lawmakers have expressed reservations about sending the country tens of billions of additional taxpayer dollars.
“While Russia is pushing the world to the final war, Ukraine is doing everything to ensure that after Russian aggression, no one in the world will dare to attack any nation,” Zelenskyy said at the United Nations meeting in New York City on Tuesday as he urged foreign leaders to stand against Russia.
“Weaponization must be restrained,” Zelenskyy said. “War crimes must be punished. Deported people must come back home. And the occupier must return to their own land.”
During Zelenskyy’s trip to the United States, he also plans to visit Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Congress about additional aid to support Ukraine’s military effort against Russia’s invasion. The United States has already approved more than $113 billion in humanitarian and military support for Ukraine throughout the war, but President Joe Biden is asking Congress to approve another $24 billion in emergency funding for Ukraine.
Growing hesitation among Republicans
Most Republican lawmakers and every Democratic lawmaker have supported previous Ukrainian funding packages, but opposition to additional aid is growing within the Republican Party. Some polls have shown a slim majority of Republican voters opposing more aid to Ukraine and more Republican lawmakers are hesitant to support Biden’s request for emergency funding.
“Is Zelenskyy elected to Congress?” Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told a press gaggle when asked whether he will commit to more funding for Ukraine’s war effort this week.
“Is [Zelenksyy] our president?” McCarthy continued. “I don’t think I have to commit [to] anything. I have questions for him. Where’s the accountability in the money we already spent? What is the plan for victory? I think that’s what the American public wants to know.”
McCarthy famously promised that Republican leadership would not write a “blank check” to Ukraine last year but has consistently voted to support aid for the war effort. Other Republican lawmakers who have voted for aid, such as Republican Reps. Mike Garcia and Nancy Mace, have also suggested that Congress focus on domestic needs instead.
Republican Rep. Lisa McClain said in a statement to CNA that “Vladimir Putin’s illegal and aggressive invasion of Ukraine is reprehensible” and that “the United States has stood with Ukraine in this war since day one,” but she also warned that the United States is falling short of domestic obligations.
“To write another check for a foreign war while we still haven’t given relief aid to Maui or East Palestine is a big ask that will not be met with open arms,” McClain said. “I think all Republicans have no issue standing in solidarity with Ukraine, but we have real problems here at home that need to be addressed first.”
Republican Rep. Paul Gosar, who has taken a strong stance against military aid to Ukraine since the beginning of the war, told CNA in a statement provided by his office that he will continue to oppose any funding requests “to perpetuate the needless death and destruction on both sides in this war.”
“Our nation is under attack at the southern border, inflation is at an historic high, and our country is buried in $33 trillion national debt,” Gosar said. “Anyone in Congress who thinks differently should spend more time away from Washington, D.C., because most Americans are fed up with the war and the endless spending. Congress should stop wasting money in Ukraine and focus on America’s needs.”
Will it be enough to block more aid?
In spite of this growing movement, some members of Republican leadership believe this faction is still a minority of the party’s elected officials. When contacted by CNA, Republican Rep. Michael McCaul’s office referred to statements the congressman made to CNN this week.
“I do think the majority of the majorities in both [the] House and Senate support this effort [to provide additional aid to Ukraine],” McCaul, the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said.
“We’ll be meeting with Zelenskyy on Thursday,” McCaul continued. “... But I think we also need answers. … A lot of members want to know, ‘What is the plan for victory? Why aren’t we putting the weapons into Ukraine that they need to win rather than a slow bleeding survival rate that was counterproductive to the counteroffensive?’”
Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has also maintained staunch support for military aid to Ukraine in the country’s fight against Russia. While speaking in the Senate this week, McConnell doubled down on support for aid to Ukraine.
“Tomorrow, I’ll join colleagues in welcoming President Zelenskyy to the Capitol,” McConnell said. “I’ll continue to make the case myself for sustained support for the Ukrainian cause, not out of charity, but out of a primary focus on Americans’ interests.”
Support for continued aid to Ukraine has also remained strong among Democratic lawmakers, who have not seen a similar opposition movement rising from within their party.
Posted on 09/20/2023 22:30 PM (CNA Daily News - Europe)
ACI Prensa Staff, Sep 20, 2023 / 18:30 pm (CNA).
Our Lady of Flowers is one of the most noted Marian devotions in the Diocese of Malaga in Spain and her devotees were disheartened to learn Sept. 19 that her shrine, located in the town of Álora, of which she is the patroness, had been desecrated.
The incident took place Monday night but was not discovered until early Tuesday, when the person in charge of opening the church noticed the damage and the theft.
According to the Diocese of Malaga, the assailants entered by neatly forcing open the grating on the sacristy window. From there, they entered the church, where they desecrated the tabernacle and the image of the Virgin.
In addition to leaving the consecrated hosts that were reserved in the tabernacle scattered on the floor, the thieves took a ciborium and the mantle of the Virgin and Child Jesus that is part of the image, which is kept in an alcove with tempered glass.
Along with the mantle, the thieves took “small jewelry left by the faithful” during their recent Sept. 8 pilgrimage. Some collection boxes where the faithful deposit their alms were also broken into. The incident was reported to the Civil Guard.
In a joint statement posted on X Sept. 19, the pastor of the shrine, Father Felipe Manuel Gallego; the leader of the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Flores, Álvaro Fernández; and the mayor of Álora, Francisco Jesús Martínez, announced that the place “will remain closed” until the repairs are completed and that the image of the Virgin “will remain in a reserved place for protection,” which the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Flowers stated is “the high altar of the Church of the True Cross” in Álora.
The shrine of the Virgin of Flores was founded by Queen Isabella (1451–1504) and is located 1.25 miles from the town of Álora. A convent of Franciscan Recollects was built there and they remained there until 1835, when they were expelled by the so-called Confiscation of Mendizábal.
The Virgin of Flowers on Mars
The name of the Virgin of Flores has gone beyond diocesan devotion in Malaga in a particular way, as it was among the 150,000 references to life on Earth that were placed aboard NASA's Perseverance space probe sent to Mars in 2020.
On Feb. 18, 2021, the space mission robot landed on the surface of Mars after seven months of travel. On a hard disk in the robot was included a reference to the patroness of Álora thanks to Spanish Air Force Sgt. Francisco José Fernández.
Upon learning that NASA had opened the possibility of including terrestrial references in the robot, he registered the name of the Virgin of Flowers.
In a report published in Diario Sur in 2020, Fernández explained the reasons for this action: “I have always been a [member] of the Brotherhood, although I can [get to the] town very little; that’s why I wanted to do something nice for them and this occurred to me. It is still exciting to know that for a few years her name will be there, in space, among the valleys and deserts of Mars.”
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
Posted on 09/20/2023 22:10 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 20, 2023 / 18:10 pm (CNA).
Texas Republican Rep. Chip Roy and 25 House Republicans introduced a resolution Tuesday to repeal the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, a law that has been used extensively by the Biden administration to penalize pro-life activists.
Passed in 1994, the FACE Act imposes criminal penalties on individuals convicted of “violent, threatening, damaging, and obstructive conduct” that interferes with access to abortion clinics, places of worship, and pregnancy centers.
The resolution introduced by Roy in the House and sponsored by Utah Senator Mike Lee in the Senate would repeal the FACE Act on the grounds that it is an unconstitutional use of federal power and that it has been weaponized against people of certain religious and political beliefs.
In a Monday press release Roy said that “free Americans should never live in fear of their government targeting them because of their beliefs. Yet, Biden's Department of Justice has brazenly weaponized the FACE Act against normal, everyday Americans across the political spectrum, simply because they are pro-life.”
“Our Constitution separates power between the federal government and the states for a reason, and we ignore that safeguard at our own peril,” Roy went on. “The FACE Act is an unconstitutional federal takeover of state police powers; it must be repealed.”
Roy also led an unsuccessful effort to prohibit taxpayer funding from being used to enforce the FACE Act in April.
How has the FACE Act been used?
Though churches and pregnancy centers are included in the FACE Act, in the last year only four people have been charged for attacks on churches and pregnancy centers, despite over 100 attacks.
During Wednesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing, Roy questioned Biden Administration Attorney General Merrick Garland about bias in the FACE Act’s application.
“Are you concerned that enforcement of the FACE Act has been biased towards pro-lifers over anti-life protestors 126 to 4,” Roy asked Garland. “126 times against pro-lifers, versus 4 times.”
Most recently, three pro-life activists — Joan Bell, 74, Jean Marshall, 73, and Jonathan Darnel, 41 — were found guilty on Sept. 15 of felonies related to the FACE Act that could land them up to 11 years in prison and fines as much as $350,000.
The Biden Department of Justice alleged that the three activists engaged in a conspiracy to create a blockade of an abortion clinic in an October 2022 protest in Washington D.C.
Another eight pro-life activists in Michigan were charged with FACE Act violations in February.
The most notable FACE Act charge was made against Mark Houck, a Pennsylvania father of seven, who made national headlines when he was arrested by armed authorities at his home on Sept. 23, 2022. Houck was eventually cleared of all charges in January.
New Jersey Republican Rep. Chris Smith, a co-sponsor, said in a press release Tuesday, that “the FACE Act prescribes harsh, mean-spirited punishments when pro-life individuals engage in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience — the staple of the human rights and civil rights movements.”
“Under the FACE Act, peaceful actions like holding a sign, singing a hymn, or praying the Rosary, if conducted near an abortion mill, can result in jail sentences, massive fines, and punitive damages by the party that feels it has been offended,” he said.
“The Biden Administration has weaponized the FACE Act, singling out nonviolent pro-life advocates and punishing them as felons,” Smith continued. “At the same time, there has been no documented arrest in over 80 instances of violent attacks, firebombing, and vandalism by pro-abortion activists in a coordinated effort to intimidate front-line volunteers and licensed medical professionals providing critical support to mothers in need and their unborn baby boys and girls.”
Posted on 09/20/2023 22:00 PM (CNA Daily News - Europe)
ACI Prensa Staff, Sep 20, 2023 / 18:00 pm (CNA).
Several priests with a presence on social media and the civil association Enraizados have protested derogatory comments made against St. Teresa of Calcutta on a radio program in Spain.
On Monday this week, a contributor to the Spanish radio station Cadena SER’s main news program, Roberto Enríquez Higueras, known as Bob Pop, claimed that St. Teresa of Calcutta was part of a list of “bad people who did things well” along with personalities such as Shakira, Diana Spencer (Lady Di), the writer Truman Capote, the politician Margaret Thatcher, and the Nobel laureate in literature Mario Vargas Llosa.
Higueras said the Albanian saint who founded the Missionaries of Charity “is worse than cinchona,” an expression used in Spain that refers to the bitter taste of the plant.
Asked about the reasons that led him to assert such a thing, he responded that it was based “on her entire policy, on her entire creed. She actually dedicated herself to taking advantage of poverty, all of the worst: She prevented abortions, she sold children... The only good thing that Teresa of Calcutta did was to appear that she was good."
Higueras further accused the saint of being a “chunga,” (a dodgy person as defined by the Spanish Royal Academy: “bad-looking, in poor condition, of poor quality”) because she dedicated herself to “claiming pain, poverty — other people’s of course — as a experience of coming to Christ. But in reality she worked for the system, for power.”
In his opinion, what she did well was play “the character, we believed it,” which he called “a great job.”
The host of Cadena SER’s star program, Ángels Barceló, added: “Acting all day has to be terrible.”
Bob Pop has been a contributor to Mongolia magazine, known among other issues for its irreverent and blasphemous covers. He is also the author of a television series titled “Maricón perdido.” In 2021, the Ministry of Equality awarded him the Rainbow Recognition for LGBT visibility in the field of communications.
In response, Father Jaime Melchior pointed out on X that the attack on St. Teresa of Calcutta “hides something more important: Smearing people, and their heroic actions, worthy of imitation, so that we believe it’s impossible to attain holiness.”
Father Francisco José Delgado ironically commented on the controversial radio program when he said of Bob Pop and the journalist Ángels Barceló: “If these two despicable persons spoke well of St. Teresa of Calcutta I would be worried.”
Father Francisco Llorens of the Archdiocese of Valencia considered that what happened is “very serious” and that what pains him the most “is the silence of the house of Añastro” — in reference to the Spanish Bishops’ Conference, whose headquarters are on that street in Madrid.
Father Ignacio Narváez, SJ, asked that the link to the video that has circulated on messaging apps not be opened, “because they will interpret the views as a victory. What we Christians do is pray for those who denigrate, lie, and sow hatred.”
Father Juan Manuel Góngora of the Diocese of Almería responded to the criticism of radio contributor Bop Pop with a brief image from the film “The Passion of the Christ” in which Jesus, in the Garden of Olives, crushes the head of a serpent.
Today the Enraizados Association launched a protest campaign against the performance on Cadena SER, which they said “harshly lashed out against St. Teresa of Calcutta, spreading hatred against her life.”
In the text encouraging the protest, the association’s president, José Castro, stated that “if Mother Teresa were here, she would probably tell us that ‘lack of love is the greatest poverty.’ Precisely for that reason, because of her enormous capacity to love, she saved children from being aborted. Which this heartless commentator absurdly denounces.”
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
Posted on 09/20/2023 18:32 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
CNA Staff, Sep 20, 2023 / 14:32 pm (CNA).
A monthlong nationwide college tour by Vice President Kamala Harris, meant in part to promote the expansion of abortion under law, has prompted repudiation from pro-life advocates.
The tour, announced Sept. 7, is aimed at bringing together “thousands of students for high-energy, large-scale events” focused on “key issues that disproportionately impact young people across the country — from reproductive freedom and gun safety to climate action, voting rights, LGBTQ+ equality, and book bans.”
Harris is set to visit “around a dozen campuses in at least seven states,” including historically Black colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions, community colleges, apprenticeship programs, and state schools, the White House said. Most of the states Harris will visit, such as Virginia and North Carolina, are considered swing states in U.S. presidential elections.
Harris’ most recent stop was at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro on Sept. 15. In her speech, which focused mainly on voting rights, Harris urged voters to support, among other things, the “freedom to make decisions about your own body.”
“One does not have to abandon their faith, or deeply held beliefs, to agree that the government should not be telling [a woman] what to do with her body,” Harris said, taking issue with what she called “extremist so-called leaders” passing state pro-life laws. The vice president criticized those laws, especially those being passed without rape and incest exceptions, calling them “immoral.”
“What the [Supreme] Court took away, Congress can put back in place. Congress can pass a law that puts back in place the protections of a case called Roe v. Wade, which gives you the right to make decisions for yourself,” she told the crowd, urging them to vote for lawmakers who will do so.
Harris has long been considered a champion of the abortion industry, raking in numerous endorsements and campaign contributions from pro-abortion organizations. She and President Joe Biden, a Catholic, have on numerous occasions jointly reaffirmed their support for abortion and condemned efforts by pro-life lawmakers to enact restrictions on abortion.
In recent months, Harris has lamented the growing number of states that have restricted abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and encouraged Congress to enact pro-abortion legislation, drawing ire from national pro-life groups.
SBA Pro-Life America, a national advocacy organization, condemned Harris’ urging the young people in attendance to use their votes to expand access to abortion.
“Vice President Kamala Harris just kicked off her ‘Abortion Activism Around America’ tour aimed at indoctrinating our young people. Today, she spoke in the beautiful and vibrant state of North Carolina. While there, she continued to push her no-limits abortion-on-demand beliefs. But Harris needs to understand that North Carolinians do not support her radical approach,” said Michelle Ashley, SBA Pro-Life America’s North Carolina state director.
“In fact, the majority of North Carolinians want serious limits on abortions, wanting no elective abortions after the first trimester,” Ashley continued, citing a poll SBA conducted in January.
“This belief stands in complete opposition to the Biden-Harris administration’s stance. I’m grateful to the brave North Carolinians who stand fearlessly for life in the face of this current administration’s nationwide no-limits pro-abortion push.”
Students for Life of America (SFLA) staged a protest in North Carolina ahead of Harris’ arrival and said they were directed by university police to stand in a “free speech area.” The group said that despite some resistance from students, a number of “genuinely curious students approached us, wanting to hear more about our beliefs and resources. Several minds were changed.”
“Unfortunately, after Harris’ event ended, a large mob surrounded us, and chaos ensued,” SFLA member Lydia Taylor narrated.
“When they shouted ‘Black Lives Matter,’ I told them that pro-lifers agree with them and that the abortion industry was targeting Black lives in the womb. Together, we could protect those Black babies — but sadly, this made them even more aggressive. Finally, the police came through the mob to get us out and to safety. We were forced to leave some of our property behind in the chaos, and the deserted signs were torn up immediately and vandalized further.”
The day before Harris arrived in North Carolina, SFLA president Kristan Hawkins sent a letter to Harris inviting her to debate the issue of abortion on a college campus. Hawkins is making her own college tour this fall and both women are stopping at Northern Arizona University, albeit on different dates.
“The administration that you help lead fights for abortion through all nine months, for any reason, with taxpayer funding, up to and including infanticide. Throw in the attacks on conscience rights and states passing pro-life laws, and it’s clear that your administration is working to earn the money that Planned Parenthood Action and others have invested in your agenda,” Hawkins wrote in part.
“While this is well known to those of us who track this human rights policy, for most students on college and university campuses, the extent of the radial abortion agenda of the Biden-Harris administration is more camouflaged by rhetoric about ‘access’ and ‘justice.’”
The pro-life group National Right to Life responded the day before Harris’ North Carolina stop, on Sept. 14, saying the Biden administration has “employed a whole-of-government approach to promoting abortion, using every lever of power at its disposal to make abortions more available and more common, with no thought of the innocent unborn children who would die.”
“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have made unlimited abortion throughout pregnancy a priority issue,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life.
“The Biden-Harris abortion agenda is extreme and out of step with the majority of Americans.”
Harris’ next stop will be at Morehouse College, a historically Black men's liberal arts college in Atlanta, on Sept. 26, according to the White House website.
Posted on 09/20/2023 17:00 PM (CNA Daily News - Europe)
CNA Staff, Sep 20, 2023 / 13:00 pm (CNA).
Ethnic Armenians in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Artsakh, have agreed to lay down their arms and dissolve their military forces following a short but intense Azerbaijan offensive on Sept. 19.
Though internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, the Nagorno-Karabakh region is made up almost entirely of Christian ethnic Armenians who claim self-sovereignty under the auspices of the Republic of Artsakh.
The Azeri attack — labeled “counterterrorism measures” by the Azeri government — included rocket and mortar fire on both military and civilian targets, according to Artsakh authorities.
During the attack close to 100 Armenians were killed, including civilians, and several hundred were wounded, according to a statement from former Artsakh State Minister Ruben Vardanyan to Reuters.
The attacks forced over 10,000 people, including women, children, and elderly, to evacuate their homes, according to the Artsakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
This week’s escalation was the first indication of large-scale outright military conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh since 2020. Christian Armenians have been trapped, without food or medicine, behind the Lachin Corridor blockade for months sparking outrage among human rights activists who say Azerbaijan is engaged in ethnic cleansing.
On Wednesday the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Azerbaijan said that “an agreement has been reached as of 13:00, 20 September 2023, to stop the anti-terror measures.”
The terms of the agreement, according to the Azeri Defense Ministry, were that all “illegal armed groups lay down their arms, withdraw from their battle positions and military outposts, and are subjected to complete disarmament” and “simultaneously, all the ammunition and heavy military equipment is handed over.”
The Azeri government also demanded the withdrawal of all “formations of Armenia’s armed forces stationed in the Karabakh region,” though Armenia denies it has any forces stationed inside Nagorno-Karabakh.
In a Wednesday press briefing, Azeri Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Fariz Rzayev said that “as a result of the counterterrorism measures taken by the Azerbaijani armed forces, the agreement was reached today for the full demilitarization, disarmament, and disbandment of the remnants of the regular forces of the Republic of Armenia, which were still illegally deployed in the sovereign territories in the Republic of Azerbaijan.”
According to the defense ministry, the disarmament is to be conducted with the supervision of the Russian peacekeeping contingent stationed in the region.
Reuters reported that the Artsakh Republic also agreed to the disarmament, saying: “In the current situation, the actions of the international community to end the war and resolve the situation are inadequate. Considering all this, the authorities of the Republic of Artsakh accept the proposal of the command of the Russian peacekeeping contingent to cease fire.”
Posted on 09/20/2023 08:00 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
CNA Staff, Sep 20, 2023 / 04:00 am (CNA).
The feast of the Korean martyrs, celebrated by the Catholic Church on Sept. 20, remembers 103 men, women, and children who died for their faith in the first decades of Korean Christianity. The Korean martyrs marked on this day are collectively known as Sts. Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang, and Companions. They were among the 8,000 to 10,000 Korean Christians killed for refusing to deny Christ.
Persecutions began in 1791, with five additional waves through the 19th century. Catholics in Korea celebrate the witness of their country’s Catholic martyrs throughout September, with celebrations culminating in the feast of the Korean martyrs.
They died for Christ
When Pope John Paul II canonized the Korean martyrs in his 1984 visit to South Korea, he noted their great diversity.
“From the 13-year-old Peter Yu to the 72-year-old Mark Chong, men and women, clergy and laity, rich and poor, ordinary people and nobles, many of them descendants of earlier unsung martyrs — they all gladly died for the sake of Christ,” he said in his homily for the May 6, 1984, canonization Mass in Seoul.
The martyrs commemorated on Sept. 20 include Korea’s first priest, St. Andrew Kim Taegon, and lay Catholic leader St. Paul Chong Hasang.
Kim was born in 1821 into an aristocratic Korean family that eventually included three generations of Catholic martyrs.
Kim’s great-grandfather died for his Catholic faith in 1814. While Kim attended seminary in China, his father was martyred for the faith in 1839. Kim was ordained in Shanghai in 1845 and returned to Korea to catechize Christians in secret. He was arrested 13 months later, tortured, and beheaded.
Paul Chong Hasang was a layman who helped unite Christians under persecution and encouraged them to be strong in the faith. His appeals to Pope Gregory X directly led the pope to recognize Korea’s Catholic community and to send more priests. Chong died by martyrdom in 1839 after penning a letter in prison defending the Catholic faith to the Korean government.
Another martyr, 17-year-old Agatha Yi, and her brother were falsely told that their parents had denied the faith. She responded: “Whether my parents betrayed or not is their affair. As for us, we cannot betray the Lord of heaven whom we have always served.”
Her words were reported widely and inspired six other adult Christians to report themselves to the magistrate. Yi, her parents, and these six are among those canonized.
Some of the first French missionaries to Korea are numbered among these Korean martyrs. There are many more to be recognized, and many forgotten by history.
“There are countless other unknown, humble martyrs who no less faithfully and bravely served the Lord,” John Paul II said in his canonization homily.
Korean Christianity’s unique history
Knowledge of Catholic Christianity arrived in Korea early in the 1600s, but not directly through missionaries. Rather, non-Christian Korean scholars learned about it through books. Some Koreans would become convinced Christians, but only in 1784 was the first Korean baptized after traveling to China to seek out Jesuit missionaries. It was these lay Christians who brought the Gospel to Korea and formed Catholic communities even without priests.
“In a most marvelous way, divine grace soon moved your scholarly ancestors first to an intellectual quest for the truth of God’s word and then to a living faith in the risen Savior,” Pope John Paul II commented in his 1984 canonization Mass homily. “From this good seed was born the first Christian community in Korea.”
Korean leaders, however, saw Christianity as a disruptive force that undermined hierarchical society and Confucian ideals of the political system. Some Christians openly renounced ancestor worship, which Korean society prized, according to UCA News. The Christian priority on God was perceived to be treason to the king, especially under the ruling Joseon dynasty. Some Korean Christians also turned to foreign powers to establish trade links and encourage religious freedom, actions that other Koreans found suspicious.
Hostility toward Christians turned violent multiple times.
As John Paul II said in 1984: “This fledgling Church, so young and yet so strong in faith, withstood wave after wave of fierce persecution … the years 1791, 1801, 1827, 1839, 1846, and 1866 are forever signed with the holy blood of your martyrs and engraved in your hearts.”
Other Korean martyrs have been beatified — and more are expected
Pope Francis beatified another 124 martyrs during his August 2014 visit to South Korea. These included Paul Yun Ji-chung, Korea’s first martyr.
In 2017, the Korean bishops announced they would begin an inquiry that could lead to the beatification of another 213 people, including some from the period of the Korean War in the mid-20th century. Candidates for beatification include the first bishop of Pyongyang; American-born Bishop Patrick Byrne; and numerous priests and laity. At the time of the announcement, the process was expected to take 10 years.
Posted on 09/19/2023 21:20 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
CNA Staff, Sep 19, 2023 / 17:20 pm (CNA).
The fight for the unborn continues, even from jail, Jonathan Darnel, one of the three pro-life activists who was convicted in federal court last Friday under the controversial Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE Act), told CNA.
Darnel, 41, who was charged with a felony conspiracy against rights and a FACE Act offense, now faces up to 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $350,000 maximum fine along with Jean Marshall, 73, of Kingston, Massachusetts; and Joan Bell, 74, of Montague, New Jersey.
The FACE Act prohibits “violent, threatening, damaging, and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with the right to seek, obtain, or provide reproductive health services.”
Passed in 1993, the FACE Act was written to prosecute crimes at both abortion clinics and pro-life pregnancy facilities. Despite its broad areas of protection, it has been used almost exclusively against pro-life activists.
The three protesters, along with five others who were convicted for the same offenses in August, participated in a “conspiracy to create a blockade at the reproductive health care clinic to prevent the clinic from providing, and patients from receiving, reproductive health services,” according to the DOJ’s press release on the convictions.
Two clinic doors were blocked by the protesters, who used their bodies, furniture, chains, and ropes, the DOJ said.
Darnel, an evangelical Christian, filmed the protest.
In the more than one-hour, 30-minute video of the protest, some of those who sat inside the clinic blocking doors can be seen praying the rosary and singing hymns to the Blessed Virgin Mary while refusing to leave.
“Pro-life rescuers are entering the doors of an abortion clinic and saving babies from death. This is very risky for the rescuers, but it’s about time we got serious about ending abortion again,” a description of the video reads.
Speaking to CNA on the eve of his conviction in a phone interview, Darnel said he was there that day to save lives. He told CNA that it’s estimated that the abortion clinic, which advertises killing of a child up to “27-plus weeks of pregnancy,” was inoperable for about four hours during the sit-in protest.
It also appeared as if some women were turned away from the clinic that day and a staff member at the clinic said that several appointments needed to be rescheduled, according to Darnel.
“So we hope that some of those children were saved, but I can’t confirm that for sure,” he added.
Darnel, Marshall, and Bell are currently incarcerated awaiting sentencing along with five others who were convicted in a separate trial for violating the FACE Act.
Paulette Harlow of Kingston, Massachusetts, a woman in her mid-70s, is set to be tried on Oct. 23 on similar charges.
Darnel said he doesn’t believe he violated the FACE Act and is “frustrated” that the government brought charges against him.
“FACE is a crime, but it shouldn’t be a crime because abortion shouldn’t be tolerated,” he said, adding that “it’s an honor to be taken like so many others.”
Darnel, who has engaged in pro-life work “quasi-full time” since 2009, said: “Except for the unjust execution of Christ, abortion is the worst thing that’s ever happened in the history of the world.”
“I live in a nation that murders kids,” he added.
“How can I say I love Christ and not respond with extreme zeal, extreme action, and drastic measures to this holocaust?”
Darnel said he filmed the protest that day because he wanted to inspire people to “get more serious about abortion,” adding that a “rescue” is one way to do that.
Asked if one can continue pro-life ministry in prison, Darnel said: “You certainly can.”
“I know the females who get incarcerated say they’re constantly meeting women who are abortion-minded and having opportunities to talk them out of it, show them a better way, or post-abortive women who need some kind of repentance and healing from that,” he said.
As far as men go, Darnel said he is positive he is going to meet other inmates who have instigated or paid for abortion.
“They’re probably less likely to talk about it than the women might be, but hopefully I can still be a good witness to them in one way or another,” he said. He added that his witness could help men recognize that involvement in abortion is wrong and inspire them to make amends for it.
Before his conviction, Darnel created a website dedicated to repealing the FACE Act, which says the federal law “was designed to protect the criminal abortion industry by cruelly punishing anti-abortion rescuers.”
Despite Darnel’s incarceration, others are taking up the fight against the FACE Act. Texas Republican Rep. Chip Roy called for the repeal of the FACE Act in newly proposed legislation on Tuesday.
Darnel told CNA on Thursday night that “there might be something happening soon on that front,” referencing the repeal of the FACE Act.
In Roy’s press release Tuesday, he said: “Free Americans should never live in fear of their government targeting them because of their beliefs. Yet, Biden’s Department of Justice has brazenly weaponized the FACE Act against normal, everyday Americans across the political spectrum, simply because they are pro-life.”
The announcement also said that Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah will introduce companion legislation in the Senate.
“Who knows? This case may be putting the plight of the preborn and the injustice of abortion and all those who would stand up for them on the map,” Darnel told CNA.
“And I hope that maybe, just maybe, if our case is appealed to the Supreme Court, FACE might get struck down, and that might have big implications nationally,” he said.
Posted on 09/19/2023 19:00 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Denver, Colo., Sep 19, 2023 / 15:00 pm (CNA).
In the United States, there are no federal policies that guarantee maternity leave for new mothers. The time and pay a woman receives varies by state and organization. FemCatholic, a media company dedicated to having honest conversations about Catholic women, published a report in 2022 showing that very few dioceses in the United States provide comprehensive maternity leave.
Samantha Povlock, founder of FemCatholic, and Renee Roden, a journalist who worked on the report, joined “EWTN Pro-Life Weekly” on Aug. 24 to discuss their findings and why they believe Catholic organizations should be leading the way in pro-family policies.
“I wish I were surprised that the number of dioceses that offered a full 12 weeks of paid leave was so low,” Roden expressed.
The report was done in March 2022 and at the time only four dioceses offered a full 12 weeks of paid maternity leave. These were the Archdioceses of New York, Chicago, Omaha, and the Diocese of Raleigh. Since then, one additional archdiocese has begun to offer paid maternity leave — the Archdiocese of Denver.
“Two things were surprising: One is it should be surprising that Catholic dioceses, so few of them, are offering women the 12 weeks of fully paid leave,” she said. “I think another thing that’s surprising is that 1 in 4 women go back to work two weeks after giving birth.”
Roden explained that in the report they also discussed the “medical realities of childbirth” and how essential those 12 weeks after giving birth, which are starting to be called the “fourth trimester,” are not only for the mother but also for the child.
Povlock, a mother of four, added: “Those early days are just so vital in building mom and baby’s connection and I think it really is the way we’re designed as people, so giving families that time is really important.”
Many of the dioceses who were not providing paid maternity leave were concerned about the cost, Roden shared.
“Studies show that 55% to 69% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, so it’s just unrealistic for them to take that 12 weeks off without pay,” she explained. “So it puts a burden on the company and dioceses feel like they may not be able to afford that.”
However, the FemCatholic report found that not all of the four dioceses offering paid maternity leave were among the richest.
Roden pointed out that the Diocese of Raleigh and Archdiocese of Omaha “don’t have as big of assets as these other two archdioceses.”
She added: “So, I think it showed us that obviously we understand when people say they think finances are a barrier to doing that but it showed us that finances aren’t prohibitive of companies or dioceses being able to offer these policies.”
Both Roden and Povlock shared that after their report was published several dioceses — including Tucson, Orange, and Arlington — have taken steps in the right direction to improve their maternity leave policies.
“They’re doing what they can and it’s a step in the right direction, and I think all those baby steps in the right direction are really encouraging to see,” Roden said.
Povlock added: “I want to call on business people and leaders in our Church to help advance these types of business policies for women.”
Ascension, the media company responsible for the popular “Bible in a Year” podcast with Father Mike Schmitz, recently unveiled its parental leave policy, which expands new moms’ fully paid maternity leave from one week to 12 weeks. It also includes six weeks for paternity leave and extended leave time for new parents to adopt, as well as leave for those who experience a miscarriage.
Jonathan Strate, CEO of Ascension, told “EWTN Pro-Life Weekly” that Catholics “have an opportunity to lead the way” in terms of setting the bar when it comes to maternity leave policies.
“These are the kind of policies that do help build a culture of life. To really send the message that you can be a working parent and you can raise a family and the work should be able to support the family,” he said.
Strate explained that while creating their new leave policies, they did not see many templates available from other companies to draw from. Due to this, they decided to make theirs available for other companies who may want to implement similar pro-family policies for their employees.
He invited viewers to visit ascensionpress.com/familyleave to see its policies.
“Hopefully that helps some other organizations to adopt these a little bit quicker,” he said.