Author Archive

What the Church can do about the powder keg of US racial tensions

Ferguson, Mo., Nov 26, 2014 / 04:52 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Beneath the ongoing unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, are deep-rooted societal conflicts that are boiling over, say local leaders, and the Church has an opportunity to be at the forefront of reconcil…

Washington state matchup: Religious liberty vs. Plan B

Olympia, Wash., Nov 26, 2014 / 02:27 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Washington state regulations cannot constitutionally require pharmacies and pharmacists to dispense abortion-causing contraceptives, said lawyers leading a legal challenge to the rules.

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Reject ‘false hope’ of violence, archbishop implores after Ferguson ruling

Ferguson, Mo., Nov 25, 2014 / 10:31 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Archbishop of St. Louis rejected violent responses to a grand jury’s decision not to indict a Ferguson police officer who killed a teenager, asking instead for prayer and action to solve underlying community problems.

“Since the grand jury received the case in August, we have seen offensive and violent outbursts by protesters, and acts of civil disobedience. Despite our calls for peace, which Michael Brown’s family have echoed, we continue to see that segments of our community have not fully renounced the tendency to lash out with antagonistic behavior and violence,” Archbishop Robert Carlson of St. Louis said in a response to the grand jury’s decision.

“I implore each of you: Choose peace! Reject any false and empty hope that violence will solve problems. Violence only creates more violence.”

Riots erupted overnight in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, after a grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson, a white police officer, for the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, in August.

Wilson shot Brown multiple times following a confrontation with Brown and his friend. The incident has elevated racial tensions amid allegations of police brutality and excessive force, with contradictory claims about the facts, including whether Brown had his arms up in a gesture of surrender when he was shot, and whether Wilson acted in self-defense.
 
The grand jury had considered whether to indict Wilson on first-degree murder, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter, as well as a charge of armed criminal action.
 
The town of Ferguson, along with other communities surrounding St. Louis, had erupted in demonstrations and protests following the shooting. In the days after the shooting, some protesters engaged in looting and other crimes against property, including the burning of a convenience store.
 
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon had declared a state of emergency on Nov. 17 ahead of the verdict and civil authorities in Ferguson prepared for the possibility of violent reactions to the verdict.

Though unrest has been a part of the community since the shooting, Monday’s riots were reportedly the worst yet, with stores being looted and burned and at least 61 arrests made overnight, as well as at least 14 injuries reported.

Archbishop Carlson has repeatedly called for peace but has also asked for dialogue to begin on many “deeper underlying issues” surrounding racism in communities across America.

In his Monday night response to the ruling, he deplored the violent riots currently underway but added that communities still need to heal from plagues of poverty and racism, which can only happen through prayer and positive action.

“Please pray. Pray unceasingly for peace,” he exhorted. “If you feel called to act, do so only after prayer. Blessed Mother Teresa knew the proper formula. She spent a holy hour in prayer every day; it was only after prayer that she would serve. So, too, must it be for us.”

The archbishop challenged the community to “commit to learning how to truly love each other.”

He asked community leaders and law enforcement personnel to be instruments of peace, saying, “We must be leaders who can come together to address issues like family breakdown, racial profiling, quality education, abuses of authority, lack of gainful employment, fear of one another, mistrust of authority, and many other needs. We must ask the tough questions and find lasting solutions.”

In particular, he called the youth to reject violence. “Are you sowing seeds of division, resentment, and discontent? These will only lead to anger and hatred,” he warned.

“Choose instead to sow seeds of reconciliation, dignity, honor, and respect. Begin creating the world you want to see. Do not listen to those who instigate aggression. Reject violence. Embrace peace.”

The archbishop will be celebrating a votive Mass for Peace and Justice on 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. He invoked the intercession of Our Lady Un-doer of Knots as he asked for prayer for the Ferguson community and especially for the families of Michael Brown and Officer Darren Wilson.

“I urge everyone to join me in praying for the Brown family as they continue to grieve the loss of Michael, as well as for police officer Darren Wilson and his family. Both families need prayers now more than ever,” he implored.
 

LGBT activist leader faces sex crimes charges involving teen

Portland, Ore., Nov 25, 2014 / 12:02 am (CNA).- A founder of the Human Rights Campaign, an influential gay advocacy group that has begun targeting Catholic bishops for protests, has been arrested for alleged sexual abuse of a teen boy in Oregon.

Terrence Patrick Bean, 66, was indicted on two felony counts of third-degree sodomy and one misdemeanor count of third-degree sex abuse related to an alleged sexual encounter in Eugene, Ore. with a 15-year-old boy in 2013, the newspaper The Oregonian reports.

Kiah Lawson, a 25-year-old reported to be an ex-boyfriend of Bean, was also indicted on the same charges. Both had met the teen through a homosexual dating app, CNN reports.

Lawson had allegedly found that Bean had been surreptitiously videotaping his sexual encounters with Lawson and at least six other men. Lawson and his then-lawyer and demanded about $40,000 in alleged damages in return for screenshots of some of the videos.

Bean went to police alleging that he was being extorted, prompting the investigation that led to charges against both men.

Jeffrey Dickey, who served as Lawson’s lawyer, objected to charges against his client, saying Lawson had helped authorities find the teen.

Kristen Winemiller, Bean’s lawyer, said that her client is cooperating with the investigation and was “the victim of an extortion ring.” The charges against him should not be taken “at face value,” she said.

Detectives in Portland’s Sex Crime Unit are leading the case in cooperation with district attorneys’ offices in Clackamas and Lane counties.

Bean is a co-founder of the Human Rights Campaign and of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund. He has been a major fundraiser for Democratic Party candidates, including President Barack Obama, the Oregonian reported.

The Human Rights Campaign said that Bean is one of 80 board members of the organization and has no daily oversight or responsibility for its programs. He has taken a voluntary leave of absence from the board “until his issues are resolved,” a spokesman told CNN.

In late 2014, the Human Rights Campaign began a publicity effort against eight “outspoken” Catholic bishops in the U.S. in hopes of changing Catholic practice and moral doctrine. The activism was related to the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, which the campaign saw as “the opportunity to create a precedent for change.”

The organization has many corporate partners in its LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) activism. It has lobbied businesses to push for “LGBT equality” in legislation and corporate policy, to recruit self-identified LGBT employees and to give financial support for LGBT organizations through LGBT-targeted marketing or advertising and philanthropic support.

New Gary, Indiana bishop praised for focus on evangelization

Gary, Ind., Nov 24, 2014 / 02:33 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis has named the next bishop of Gary, Indiana: Milwaukee’s Auxiliary Bishop Donald J. Hying, who drew praise for his commitment to evangelization and to the sanctity of life.

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Website shines light on which health plans cover abortion

Washington D.C., Nov 24, 2014 / 10:47 am (CNA).- A new website informing Americans whether or not their health plans cover abortion is up and running, with advocates saying it provides the transparency in the health care law that the government failed …

Remember the ‘least of these’ in spending cuts, bishops tell Congress

Washington D.C., Nov 18, 2014 / 03:40 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- As the 113th Congress enters the “lame-duck” session before newly-elected members take office, the U.S. Bishops are urging that a “circle of protection” be enacted aroun…

How the Church can rebuild from the ashes of the sexual revolution

Washington D.C., Nov 18, 2014 / 01:09 pm (CNA).- Faced with a destructive “new intolerance,” the greatest Christian witnesses could be the very victims of the sexual revolution that created that intolerance, Catholic author Mary Eberstadt predicted.

Of all the witnesses who can illustrate the harm of the “new intolerance,” Eberstadt said in a Nov 11 lecture sponsored by the publication First Things, “the most empowering of all may be the ones most hidden to us.”
 
“These are the former victims of the sexual revolution itself. The walking wounded coming in and out of Pope Francis’s proverbial field hospitals.”

Eberstadt is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., and author of the book “How the West Really Lost God.” Her lecture discussed “The New Intolerance,” which she described as a campaign by supporters of the sexual revolution to silence and intimidate those who speak out against its rotten fruits.

Such persecution has many ugly heads, she said, including slander against those preaching Christian sexual ethics, the HHS birth control mandate that threatens religious institutions, and the marginalization of academics and public figures who speak out against sexual misconduct.

This “New Intolerance,” born from the sexual revolution, uses “intimidation, humiliation, censorship and self-censorship to punish people who think differently,” she insisted.

In the face of this intimidating foe, however, some victims of the sexual revolution are not withdrawing into marginalization but are building a new order with mercy, Eberstadt said. She compared these people to the Christians who constructed the magnificent cathedral of Chartres on the ashes of their beloved basilica destroyed by fire.

“Those people and their leaders persevered and determined not to have their minds disfigured once and for all by a disaster,” Eberstadt said of the citizens of Chartres. The cathedral, one of the most famous in Europe for its Gothic architecture, was “built by men and women who had witnessed the signature disaster of their times and refused to resign themselves to it.”

In much the same way, victims of the sexual revolution are rebuilding Christianity with mercy, she explained, citing examples like author Eve Tushnet, a Catholic author who has written about her struggle with same-sex attraction and the vocation to love for all.

Victims such as Tushnet are helping other victims live the Christian vocation to love rather than give into to the demands of the sexual revolution, Eberstadt said.

“Christianity is being built more and more by these very witnesses themselves. By people who have come to embrace the difficult and long-standing Christian rulebook not because they know nothing of the revolution and its fallout, but because they know all too much,” she explained.  

“And they are doing it with the same tool,” she added, that Pope Francis is emphasizing, namely, “mercy.”

Mercy for Pope Francis means “meeting people where they live,” Eberstadt explained, and this means finding those opponents of the sexual revolution who have been ostracized and marginalized in society for speaking out against it.

Not just Christians are persecuted here, she emphasized.

“It’s an ‘everybody’ problem,” she said, adding that a “civilized people do not just stand by and hit the ‘like’ button” while those around them suffer slander and criticism.

“Free speech isn’t just a religious word. Any attempt to make it one needs to be called out,” she stated.
 

Retiring Cardinal George opens up on faith, freedom and death

Chicago, Ill., Nov 18, 2014 / 11:58 am (CNA/EWTN News).- As he enters retirement, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago noted the importance of living faith in the truth, reflecting on his time as archbishop, the approach of death, and advice for his succ…

You are my legacy, Cardinal George tells Chicago at final Mass

Chicago, Ill., Nov 17, 2014 / 04:28 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinal Francis George celebrated his last public Mass as Archbishop of Chicago on Sunday, thanking the people of Chicago for being God’s “gift” to him.

“Every priest and bishop is given the gift of the people that he is called to care for and to love in Christ’s name,” Cardinal George said in his Nov. 16 homily, according to the Chicago Tribune.

“At some point, Christ will question me: What have you done with my people? Are they holier because of your ministry? Are they more generous, more loving toward others? In short, you are my legacy,” he told the congregation at Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral.

The 77-year-old Cardinal George has headed the Archdiocese of Chicago since 1997. He submitted his resignation two years ago upon reaching 75 years of age, as is required by canon law. He is suffering from cancer for the third time and uses crutches to help him walk. He has often expressed his desire to be the first Archbishop of Chicago to retire, rather than die in office.

The cardinal said that people will have different views of his ministry, “some of them I might appreciate, and some not.”

He said he asked himself the questions “With what have I been entrusted? And what have I done with this gift?”

He said he has sometimes been “too fearful to speak, to act, to love generously,” but he has helped people “better able to know and live their faith, able to worship God in spirit and in truth, able to give themselves to the salvation of others.”

Cardinal George said there are “a lot of holy people” in the counties of the Archdiocese of Chicago. “I meet them every week. I’ve met them for years. And you are among them.”

The cardinal said his successor, Archbishop-designate Blase Cupich, is “very pleased with what he will see here.” The 65-year-old, who has headed the Diocese of Spokane, Wash., will be installed as Archbishop of Chicago on Tuesday.

On Friday Cardinal George celebrated an annual memorial Mass for the archdiocese’s clergy who have died in the last year. He remembered his own predecessor, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin.

On Monday evening Cardinal George was scheduled to preside at Holy Name Cathedral for a Liturgy of the Word with a Rite of Reception for Archbishop-designate Cupich. The archbishop-designate will greet representatives of Chicago civic life, other religious leaders, and officials of the archdiocese.

Archbishop-designate Cupich will deliver a homily at the service and receive the archdiocesan stole.

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