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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In a June 1 email to Catholics in the archdiocese, Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee said the archdiocese would cooperate with any “proper” state investigation, including providing records related to any living priest accused of abuse. Archbishop Listecki has voiced doubt that the attorney general has the legal authority for the inquiry and said the archdiocese has “legitimate concerns that his inquiry is directly targeting only the Catholic Church.”

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

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

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

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

Other leaders in the Milwaukee archdiocese have criticized the effort.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four of the state’s five dioceses, as well as the Jesuits and the Norbertines, have already disclosed the names of priests credibly accused of sex abuse. The Diocese of Superior is gathering its own list and intends to publish it by the end of the year.

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

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

Natalia Bratslavsky/Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pelosi defends taxpayer-funded abortion while citing Catholic faith 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Traditionis custodes: German Catholic dioceses make no immediate changes

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

Limburg, Germany, Jul 22, 2021 / 05:00 am (CNA).

Several German Catholic dioceses have confirmed that they are making no immediate changes in the wake of Pope Francis’ motu proprio limiting the celebration of Traditional Latin Masses.

The Diocese of Limberg, in western Germany, told CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, on July 20 that it would continue with its current practice following the publication of Traditiones custodes on July 16.

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

Limburg diocese, which is led by Bishop Georg Bätzing, the president of the German Catholic bishops’ conference, said: “The practice that has been tried and tested so far -- priests specially commissioned for the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite carry out the celebration at fixed locations (e.g. the Deutschordenskirche in Frankfurt) -- will not change for the time being.”

Since the 1980s, the diocese has provided priests to celebrate Masses using the 1962 Roman Missal, at the request of local Catholics.

“In the course of these assignments, care was, and will continue to be, taken to ensure that the celebration of the Masses does not contribute to any polarization. Our vicar general is also in regular contact with the priests commissioned for this purpose,” the diocese told CNA Deutsch.

Bishop Gebhard Fürst of Rottenburg-Stuttgart has also confirmed that Masses will continue to be offered in the traditional form in his diocese in southwestern Germany.

Diocesan spokesman Gregor Moser said on July 20 that Bishop Fürst “welcomes the decision of the pope to place more responsibility for the liturgy in the hands of the respective diocesan bishop. He sees this as a further step in the realization of this principle of subsidiarity, which Pope Francis has been very concerned about since the beginning of his term of office.”

The spokesman added: “In the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, Masses are celebrated in the pre-conciliar rite by priests of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter at various locations. This is done on good terms and in good consultation.”

Other dioceses told CNA Deutsch that they were still examining the motu proprio.

The Diocese of Augsburg in southern Germany, where Traditional Latin Masses are also celebrated, said: “The motu proprio of the Holy Father requires an in-depth study of the text, which Bishop Bertram [Meier] is currently undertaking. Conclusions from this for the Diocese of Augsburg can only be made afterward.”

The Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, also in the south of Germany, said it was currently examining the new regulations and was unable to give further indications at present.

The Diocese of Magdeburg, in eastern Germany, told CNA Deutsch that no Traditional Latin Masses were celebrated in the diocese and “there will continue to be no Masses in the old rite.”

“This debate does not affect us,” said a spokeswoman.

In other dioceses where Mass is celebrated according to the 1962 Roman Missal -- such as Münster and Mainz -- bishops are on vacation.

The Archdiocese of Berlin said that it could not foresee when the motu proprio would be implemented given that the diocese is in the midst of the summer vacation.

EWTN’s Catholic News Agency names Shannon Mullen as Editor-in-Chief

Shannon Mullen, Editor-in-Chief of Catholic News Agency. / EWTN News / CNA

Irondale, Ala., Jul 22, 2021 / 04:00 am (CNA).

Michael P. Warsaw, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of EWTN, has announced the appointment of Shannon Mullen as Editor-in-Chief of Catholic News Agency.

Shannon’s 33-year journalism career includes 10 years as an Investigative Reporter, Enterprise Editor, and Premium Content Coach with Gannett Co., where he was a member of a reporting team that was named a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize.

“We are very pleased to welcome Shannon to the EWTN News family,” said EWTN Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Warsaw. “He brings considerable depth and experience as a reporter and editor over a long career. He has a long history of mentoring and coaching young journalists in their craft. These are skills that will serve him well as he takes up the post of Editor-in-Chief of CNA.”

With news bureaus across the United States, Europe, South America, and Africa, CNA is one of the largest and fastest-growing independent Catholic media outlets in the world. EWTN acquired CNA, and its Spanish-language sister agency ACI Prensa, in 2014.

As Editor-in-Chief, Mullen will manage CNA’s reporting for its news syndication service, and its extensive social media news audience. Mullen will also seek to foster greater collaboration between CNA’s news coverage, and the reporting of the National Catholic Register, EWTN News Nightly, In Depth, and other major news outlets within EWTN.

Alejandro Bermúdez, Executive Director of CNA and ACI Prensa, said: “Shannon is a well-formed, devout Catholic, father of four children and interested in several Church apostolates. With his many years of successful journalism, he brings that rare combination of affability, leadership and experience that will take CNA to a new level.”

Mullen said: “I’m honored by the faith that Michael, Alejandro and EWTN have placed in me to lead such a talented team of dedicated journalists. The focused, faithful coverage CNA provides every day is vital to Catholics around the world, especially now when the Church is facing such extraordinary challenges, most especially rising threats to religious freedom in so many places today.”

As Enterprise Editor and Premium Content Coach at the Gannett-owned Asbury Park Press, Mullen collaborated with reporters, photographers, videographers, and designers to develop compelling multimedia stories and premium content for the newspaper’s subscribers. He also coached reporters on writing long-form features and investigative projects. As an investigative reporter, Mullen penned more than 1,000 articles and hundreds of front-page stories, ranging from breaking news and human interest features to multi-part investigative series on a wide range of public policy issues.

“As a young newspaper reporter, I drew great inspiration from Pope John Paul II’s annual remarks on World Communications Day,” he said. “He emphasized that even those in the secular media could serve as apostles in the cause of human dignity, justice and the pursuit of truth. Looking back over my career, I recognize this theme running through my work which includes investigations into deplorable living conditions in federally subsidized rental housing, the exploitation of the elderly by legal guardians, and a heartbreaking teenage suicide cluster that terrorized a small community at the Jersey Shore.”

In addition to being a Pulitzer Prize finalist, Mullen’s numerous national journalism honors include a First Place Award from the National Press Club; Finalist for the Goldsmith Investigative Reporting Award; and a First Place Award from the Deadline Club for New York Metro Media.

Mullen holds a Master of Arts in Public Policy from Liberty University and a B.A. from Duke University, where he was Editor-in-Chief of the student newspaper.

Mullen is based in EWTN’s Washington, D.C., office.

In its 40th year, EWTN is the largest religious media network in the world. EWTN’s 11 TV channels are broadcast in multiple languages 24 hours a day, seven days a week to over 350 million television households in more than 145 countries and territories.

EWTN platforms also include radio services transmitted through SIRIUS/XM, iHeart Radio, and over 500 domestic and international AM & FM radio affiliates; a worldwide shortwave radio service; one of the largest Catholic websites in the U.S.; electronic and print news services, including Catholic News Agency, the National Catholic Register newspaper, and several global news wire services; as well as EWTN Publishing, its book publishing division.

'Bullying Redirect' provides Christ-centered anti-bullying curriculum

Frank DiLallo, founder and co-author of Bullying Redirect. Credit: Autumn Jones/CNA.

Denver Newsroom, Jul 22, 2021 / 03:01 am (CNA).

Following the Columbine High School massacre in April 1999, Catholic educator and counselor Frank DiLallo knew he had to do something. With a background in school counseling, DiLallo recorded an audio CD titled The Peace Project, a collection of introspective meditations on relaxation and self-regulation for students.

“I imagined what it would have been like to have something like that happen at my school,” DiLallo said. “I was very sad and outraged for a long time. I thought, ‘Somebody needs to do something about this,’ and the finger kept pointing back at me.”

The Peace Project was released in July 2001, two months before 9/11, which further fueled DiLallo’s interest in providing resources for de-escalation and mistreatment resolution for schools. He began field testing a Christ-centered anti-bullying program that he authored at schools in Toledo, Ohio, where he was working as a schools consultant at the time.

“The secular curriculums I looked at and tried to retrofit initially were all about signs and symptoms, and ‘What does bullying look like?’, but none of the application,” DiLallo said. “When I started to write this, my focus and intention was applicability and how I could make this relatable to kids so they could understand the compassion of Christ.”

In 2011, DiLallo enlisted the help of friend and co-author Thom Powers to weave scripture throughout the text. Together, they published the first edition of Bullying Redirect, a Christ-centered anti-bullying curriculum, in 2011.

“I’ve found that both in public schools and in Catholic and Christian schools, the hunger is unbelievable,” Powers said. “Young people want to belong, and they want a sense of peace and stability. And they don’t know how to get it.”

Powers, who studied in seminary for seven years, helped DiLallo write role plays using stories from the Bible to teach social skills. The scripture passages are written in a way that is easy to understand for students in 4th through 8th grade, the curriculum’s target audience.

“We have them take the scripture and first read it and then we go back and go very detailed about it, asking the question, ‘How does this apply in the classroom?’” Powers said. “More often than not what comes out is that there is a student who is eating lunch by themselves. Christ was inclusive. Can you imagine the impact if the students who are in the ‘in crowd’, ask if they can sit with someone who is alone?”

Lisa Bartholomew, a 27-year Catholic educator in the Diocese of Toledo, was one of the early adopters of Bullying Redirect. She started using the curriculum in her classroom before it was published, and went “full throttle,” she said, afterward.

“So much of what is out there as far as discipline or dealing with issues is negative or not helping kids learn how to support each other and how to learn from their mistakes in a positive way that’s not punitive,” said Bartholomew, who currently teaches 8th grade at Regina Coeli Catholic School in Toledo, Ohio. “Bullying Redirect offers a restorative justice piece. Kids can rebuild their relationships and they’re given an opportunity to grow.”

Classroom management and discipline can consume a teacher’s day, she said, continuing into the evening if phone calls need to be made. When she uses the curriculum, she said, she and her students have more time for learning.

“We have time to get things done and we’re not getting caught up in all the discipline and all the negative energy,” Bartholomew said. “When I’m more cognizant and faithful to the curriculum, the energy in my class is so much more positive.”

After publishing the first edition of the curriculum, DiLallo collected feedback from teachers. What he found was that teachers were not interested in adding another curriculum on top of their already heavy workload. He and Powers reached out to Bartholomew to ask if she would help them connect the curriculum to the themes of Catholic social teaching and Common Core State Standards for the second edition.

“We went to the teachers and learned that the idea of trying to cram in one more program in the school day was overwhelming,” said Powers. “Every page in the curriculum is covered by a standard.”

DiLallo, Powers, and Bartholomew also reorganized the units and wrote a scripted facilitator guide to make it easier for the teachers to use.

The curriculum is divided into three units—“Servant Leadership,” “Pure in Heart,” and “Love Your Neighbor”—and uses common language throughout the program. The pieces of the program are designed to address areas in which today’s students are struggling, DiLallo said, notably leadership, interpersonal relationships, and prayer life. When those things are out of sync, mistreatment can occur.

“The important thing here is that we address the bullying issue, the mistreatment issue,” he said. “There is treatment and there is mistreatment that happens at school, which escalates things and causes contamination to the school culture.”

DiLallo prefers the term “mistreatment” to “bullying” because of the ambiguity and labels that can be associated with bullying. He also sees it in light of Mother Teresa’s philosophy of being pro-peace instead of anti-war, he said.

“Anti- movements historically do not work,” DiLallo said. “If we work in a direction of pro-peace, pro-social skills, and move in the direction of the behaviors that we’re looking for, we’re going to get somewhere.”

A parent guide and educator guide provide supplemental strategies to support the curriculum, and support student growth from home, as well as at school.

“Rather than looking at bullying as a problem, let’s look at it as an opportunity for formation,” DiLallo said. “How can we take all the characters involved—the student that mistreated, the student who was mistreated, the student who witnessed mistreatment, and any other students involved—and turn this into an incredible opportunity for formation, to learn and grow about themselves so that they can take this home and plant this huge seed of Christ’s compassion?”

Bullying Redirect uses both a “Safety Check” and a “Stress Check”, which provide quick access points for the students to articulate how they are feeling on any given day. The teachers can use this as a jumping off point for a further conversation or intervention if necessary. Embedded in the curriculum are techniques for students to self-regulate and reduce stress.

“The sooner we can get to our young people to give them the skills, and realize that these skills that help them take better care of themselves are sacred, the better the ripple effects are to the world,” Powers said. “We should get this out of the bully category and put it in marriage preparation. The whole thing is about communications, about how to look each other in the eye, be concise, and say ‘I’m sorry.’”

Incorporated into the lessons is the importance of prayer and silence. DiLallo provides meditations and personal affirmations to encourage reflection and connection with an inner sense of peace as part of the curriculum.

“The curriculum is really about slowing things down,” DiLallo said. “That’s how all of this is going to change. It’s only going to change with the compassion of Christ.”

Cardinal Gregory speaks at immigration reform rally

Wilton Cardinal Gregory at a Mass celebrated at the Capital One Arena before the 2020 March for Life. / Peter Zelasko/CNA

Washington D.C., Jul 21, 2021 / 20:01 pm (CNA).

Wilton Cardinal Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, spoke Wednesday in support of congressional immigration reform alongside US Senators Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin.

Following many speakers in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which was recently struck down by a district court in Texas, Cardinal Gregory’s July 21 speech called for immigration reform “whether through the enactment of stand alone legislation or a broader legislative package.” 

Cardinal Gregory said that the 117th Congress has the opportunity to be “courageous,” after years of delay, to pass comprehensive immigration reform. He called for bipartisan immigration reform legislation, on behalf of the nation’s Catholic bishops.

President Obama created the DACA program in 2012, to delay deportations of, and allow a legal work permit for, eligible undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Around 800,000 people have benefited from the program.

The Trump administration in 2017 sought to wind down the program, accepting no new DACA applications, and gave Congress a six-month time frame to enact parts of the program in law. After Congress failed to pass such legislation in six months, the administration moved to end DACA, but courts ruled against the administration’s deadline.

In June 2020, the US Supreme Court said the administration’s procedure by which it sought to end the program was unlawful.

The court sent the case back to the administration, which announced it would continue not accepting any new DACA applications during a review of the program. The administration also only granted one-year renewals of DACA status for existing recipients.

The speakers at the July 21 event included heads of activist organizations, Senators, and DACA recipients. 

Schumer called for immigration reform as well, and called the recent court rejection of the DACA “vicious” and “brutal.” 

Durbin said in a statement last week that Congress would “act quickly” to pass immigration reform.

Cardinal Gregory’s call for reform of the immigration system noted that “our opportunity is found in our shared humanity and our shared dignity and respect for our neighbors.”

The cardinal spoke for the Catholic bishops by saying that the Church has “repeatedly expressed tremendous concern for families divided by our current broken immigration system.”

He noted that a strong society must provide opportunities for families to flourish. 

“This includes immigrants, and mixed status families, who deserve to be treated with justice and charity,” Cardinal Gregory said

Cardinal Gregory called for Catholics and all Americans to welcome migrants and refugees, “who are greatly contributing to our society through work and service,” with kindness. He also praised the migrants and refugees who were deemed “essential workers” during the pandemic.

He highlighted Catholic social teaching, which “upholds the teaching that every person has the right to live in his or her own homeland in security and dignity, with opportunities for work.”

“However,” he said, “‘when the loss of these rights forces individuals to migrate to other lands, we must welcome them, protect them, and generously share our abundance with them.”

President Biden has said that the Department of Justice would appeal the Texas court’s decision.

Survey: A majority of US Catholics support the death penalty

The lethal injection room at California's San Quentin State Prison. / California Department of Corrections via Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0)

Washington D.C., Jul 21, 2021 / 18:02 pm (CNA).

One recent survey shows a majority of U.S. Catholics supporting use of the death penalty for murder convicts. The poll numbers follow a 2018 update to the Catechism that the death penalty is “inadmissible.”

According to a survey of 5,109 U.S. adults by the Pew Research Center, conducted from April 5 to 11, 2021 and published in June, a majority of U.S. Catholics either “strongly” or “somewhat” support use of the death penalty for murder convicts.

Mirroring the responses of U.S. adults overall, 31% of Catholics “somewhat” favor the death penalty for those convicted of murder, while 27% of Catholics “strongly” favor it.

In comparison, 32% of U.S. adults “somewhat” favor the death penalty in such cases, and 27% “strongly” favor it, according to the Pew report.

Among Hispanic Catholics, there is slightly more support for the death penalty for murder convicts. In this subgroup, 30% “somewhat” support the death penalty in such cases, and 31% “strongly” support it.

Regarding the question of moral justification for the death penalty, a majority of Catholics believe it is justified in cases of murder convictions.

Among Catholics overall, 60% say capital punishment is morally justified “when someone commits a crime like murder”; among Hispanic Catholics, that number is 62%. Only 30% of Catholics believe the death penalty is morally wrong, including 35% of Hispanic Catholics.

Among religious subgroups, white evangelical and non-evangelical Protestants are most likely to believe the death penalty is morally justified in cases such as murder. More than three-quarters, 77%, of white evangelical Protestants believe this, and 76% of white non-evangelical Protestants.

Nearly two-thirds of those professing no religion “in particular,” 66%, also said that capital punishment is justified in such instances.

Language in the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the use of the death penalty was updated in 2018, calling it “inadmissible.”

Pope Francis, in his 2020 encyclical Fratelli Tutti, wrote, “Today we state clearly that ‘the death penalty is inadmissible’ and the Church is firmly committed to calling for its abolition worldwide.”

In October 2020, CNA spoke with Fr. Thomas Petri regarding Pope Francis’ statements on the death penalty. Fr. Petri is currently the president and assistant professor of moral theology and pastoral studies at the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies.

He explained that the Church’s ordinary magisterium has always taught that “states have the right to inflict the penalty of death.” He added that “no pope can somehow come out and contradict that.”

Pope Francis, he said, did not say the use of the death penalty was “intrinsically evil,” and thus did not contradict the Church's ordinary magisterium.

Both popes John Paul II and Francis have made prudential applications of the Church’s teaching in areas of faith and morals, he said. Their statements on the death penalty have noted that the security of modern prisons has rendered the need for the death penalty non-existent, as a means of protecting society from criminals.

Thus, since popes have spoken frequently on the death penalty in recent years – including through encyclicals and the Catechism – Catholics cannot just prudentially disagree with their teachings, he said.

“You can probably disagree with whether or not there should be life prison terms, but not this. I don’t think you can say this about the death penalty issue,” he said.

According to a 2020 RealClear Opinion Research poll, sponsored by EWTN News, U.S. Catholics broadly supported the death penalty by a margin of 57% to 29%.

In the April 2021 Pew survey, atheists, agnostics, and Black Protestants were the most likely religious subgroups to say the death penalty is morally wrong. A slight majority of atheists, 51%, believe the death penalty is morally wrong, compared to 47% of self-identified agnostics and 42% of Black Protestants.