Archive for the ‘Catholic US News’ Category

Critics: global religious freedom report falls short of action needed

Washington D.C., Jul 29, 2014 / 04:44 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- As the U.S. State Department releases its annual global religious freedom report, observers say that the government must take more action to fight persecution and secure religious liberty aroun…

Court allows 9/11 cross to remain standing at Ground Zero

Washington D.C., Jul 29, 2014 / 11:38 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Rejecting arguments from an atheist group, a federal appeals court ruled Monday that the iconic cross found at the site of the 2001 World Trade Center attacks may remain at the 9/11 Museum.

Petition calls on UN to stop Christian genocide in Iraq

Washington D.C., Jul 29, 2014 / 10:54 am (CNA).- Following the expulsion of Christians from the Iraqi city of Mosul by ISIS jihadists, a new petition calls on the United Nations to intervene in the country.

“The last Christians have left Mosul…

Ariz. inmate’s grueling execution lamented as preventable

Phoenix, Ariz., Jul 29, 2014 / 04:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Not only could the nearly two-hour execution of an Arizona inmate last week have been avoided, but the number of botched deaths by lethal injection is increasing in the U.S., says one observer.

“The problems that occurred in the execution of Joseph Wood on July 23 should have been foreseen and prevented,” Richard Dieter of the Washington, D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center told CNA July 25.

He said that the rate of failed executions is “greater than any other year since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.”

“Over 1,000 lethal injections were conducted earlier with only comparatively minor problems,” Dieter noted. “It is the secrecy and experimentation with new drugs that is causing the increased number of botched executions.”

On July 23, Arizona prison authorities executed Joseph Rudolph Wood by lethal injection at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence. The injection of lethal drugs took place at 1:52 p.m. after the man was strapped to a gurney. The inmate wheezed hundreds of times before he was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m. Doctors confirmed several times throughout Woods’ execution that he was sedated.

Arizona Republic reporter Michael Kiefer, who witnessed the execution, said that Wood’s mouth opened thirteen minutes after the injection.

“Three minutes later it opened again, and his chest moved as if he had burped. Then two minutes again, and again, the mouth open wider and wider. Then it didn’t stop,” Kiefer wrote.

“He gulped like a fish on land. The movement was like a piston: The mouth opened, the chest rose, the stomach convulsed.”

Witnesses could see, but not hear, the execution. However, when the doctor in the execution chamber confirmed through a microphone that Kiefer was still sedated, Kiefer reported hearing sounds from Wood: “a snoring, sucking, similar to when a swimming-pool filter starts taking in air, a louder noise than I can imitate.”

Wood’s lawyers left during the execution to file emergency legal motions to halt the execution.

Wood was sentenced to death for the fatal shootings of his ex-girlfriend Debra Dietz and her father Eugene Dietz in 1989. Witnesses of the execution included the murder victims’ relatives.

A priest was present at the execution. Before the execution, Wood told the victims’ relatives he was thankful for Jesus Christ as his savior, the Associated Press reports. At one point he smiled at them, an action that angered the family members.

Executions through lethal injection typically last 10 minutes when barbiturate drugs are used, the Arizona Republic said. Companies have begun to refuse to sell these drugs to correction departments following protests from death penalty opponents.

In response, states that still perform executions now use other drugs. Arizona is using the sedative drug midazolam in combination with the narcotic hydromorphone. The sedative was first used for executions less than a year ago.

Dieter said that the Arizona government had “ample warning” that midazolam might cause problems, noting the drug’s apparent connection to drawn-out executions by lethal injection in Ohio and Oklahoma.

“If the state had opened up its process to broader review, they might have heard from experts in anesthesiology and pharmacology who would have recommended changes to avoid the prolonged and inhumane way in which Wood was executed,” he said.

Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, blamed protests of drug manufacturers for forcing the state to turn to other drugs.

Dieter said that the sodium thiopental drug Arizona previously used was taken off the market due to objections from workers at the Italian plant that manufactured the drug for its supplier, Hospira.

“Subsequent drugs, such as pentobarbital, which Arizona also used, were taken out of circulation for executions because of the European human rights’ stand against the death penalty,” he added. “To blame Europe for the botched executions seems strangely ironic. Should they have violated their conscience and helped facilitate executions? Arizona should have foreseen what happened and avoided it. They chose not to.”

In April, the Oklahoma execution of convicted murderer Clayton Lockett lasted 43 minutes. Lockett writhed and breathed heavily, eventually dying of a heart attack.

Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City on April 30 called for a reconsideration of the death penalty, saying “in general, there are others ways to administer just punishment without resorting to lethal measures.”

‘Amazing Parish’ movement unites clergy, laity in renewal

Denver, Colo., Jul 29, 2014 / 02:06 am (CNA).- A new movement seeking to unite the faithful and their pastors in the formation of thriving parishes has seen a wide scope of interest throughout the U.S. in the time since it was started little more than …

US must adapt foreign policy to solve migrant crisis, says bishop

Washington D.C., Jul 27, 2014 / 04:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The head of the U.S. bishops’ international justice and peace committee implored Secretary of State John Kerry to utilize U.S. foreign policy to address the “root causes” of c…

Papal visit to US not confirmed, but archbishop confident

Philadelphia, Pa., Jul 25, 2014 / 10:22 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Reports that Pope Francis will travel to the U.S. for the World Meeting of Families in 2015 remain unconfirmed by the Vatican; however, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia is confident of the pontiff’s attendance.

On July 25, reports began to circulate the Archbishop Chaput had confirmed Pope Francis’ presence at the meeting in his cathedral city next year.

However, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia explained in a statement that there “has been no official confirmation by the Vatican or The Holy See of Pope Francis’ attendance.”

“We still expect that any official confirmation will come approximately six months prior to the event,” the archdiocese said, explaining that “Archbishop Chaput’s comments do not serve as official confirmation, (but) they do serve to bolster our sincere hope that Philadelphia will welcome Pope Francis next September.”

“Archbishop Chaput has frequently shared his confidence in Pope Francis’ attendance at the World Meeting and his personal conversations with the Holy Father are the foundation for that confidence,” the statement said.

The 2015 World Meeting of Families will be held Sept. 22-27 under the theme, “Love is our mission: the family fully alive.” Tens of thousands from across the world are anticipated to attend the event.

The World Meeting of Families began in 1994 by the Pontifical Council for the Family under St. John Paul II. Its mission is to strengthen families across the globe, encouraging them to live their faith with joy and sincerity.

Earlier this week, it was announced that the meeting is to be under the patronage of St. John Paul II, who visited Philadelphia in 1979, and St. Gianna Molla, who died while giving birth.

Archbishop Chaput has previously hinted at the Pope’s presence at the event.

While “obviously a papal visit is never official until the Holy See confirms it,” he said June 11 at the U.S. bishops’ spring general assembly in New Orleans, “we do have good reasons to believe that Pope Francis will take part in the meeting, and we are planning to welcome him wholeheartedly.”

He added that the meeting “comes at a time when the Church in the U.S. urgently needs an opportunity for joy and renewal. It is also a time of great confusion about the nature of marriage and family,” he said, noting that its goal is to “offer the beauty of Catholic teaching about marriage and the family with confidence and a spirit of invitation to every person of good will.”

Church response to refugees is part of pro-life call, bishop says

Pittsburgh, Pa., Jul 23, 2014 / 05:20 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Answering the needs of refugee migrants is one component of a truly pro-life view, said a U.S. bishop, announcing a new initiative to aid children who have fled Central America for the United S…

Religious liberty ‘fundamental’ to human dignity, bishops affirm

Baltimore, Md., Jul 22, 2014 / 04:55 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In a recent interview with CNA, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore reaffirmed religious liberty as a priority for the U.S. bishops, emphasizing its relation to personal dignity and evangelization.

“Let me just say that religious liberty is so fundamental to the dignity of the human person,” Archbishop Lori stated, continuing that “anyone who is an impartial observer of the culture would say that in recent times, the challenges to religious liberty have accelerated.

Because of these situation, the archbishop said that the American bishops have dedicated themselves to upholding religious freedom, and will continue to discuss the “multifaceted challenges” faced by the Church.

Archbishop Lori noted that the right to religious liberty “is very much related to truth,” and “does not just depend on (the content of one’s) belief.”

“God gave us the gift of religious liberty so that we could sincerely seek the truth, and embrace it once we have found it.”

He added that “to attenuate religious liberty is to attenuate the search for truth. So that is the fundamental level at which we are committed to religious liberty.”

Archbishop Lori also discussed the “linguistic and philosophical gulfs between the teaching of the Church, and the culture,” because “there are those who think religious liberty is really a guise for some right to discriminate, that the Church or others are seeking. So, we have to break those things down, in our catechesis and our evangelization.”

The vast differences in philosophical outlook and in use of language, between the Church and the mainstream culture, are important for Church leaders to take into account, he said.

“For those who preach and teach, it’s important that we break down the language that we use into terms that are, in fact, preachable and teachable.”

Archbishop Lori reflected on the U.S. bishops’ decision last month to renew for another three years its ad hoc committee, which he chairs, on religious liberty.

“I’m happy that they reaffirmed religious liberty as a priority for the work of the conference.”

This committee deals with affronts to religious liberty coming from such things as international persecution of minority religions; the re-definition of marriage; and challenges to religious practice and speech on university campuses.

“In setting up the ad hoc committee, the conference heard from bishops all around the country who have faced these kinds of challenges at the very local level, and now we’re seeing them at the federal level.”

Echoing the Baltimore prelate’s sentiments, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville said to CNA that he had heard from bishops that “not only has this been worthwhile on a national level in helping us to craft approaches to public policy, but it’s been helpful to people in our parishes, and  to bishops in their dioceses.”

Archbishop Kurtz also reflected how the ad hoc nature of the committee means precisely that the U.S. bishops will have to continue discussing the committee’s ambit: “we’re not where we were three years ago, so are there new things that need to be done in composition, as well as the scope.”

“I heard Archbishop Lori say they are already anticipating, the existing committee is already recommending things, and they probably see the horizon better than any of us. And so I am sure we will be focused very much on the horizon, and the observations that the present committee has, as we move forward.”

Archbishop Lori concluded that the bishops’ affirmation of the religious liberty committee indicates the episcopate continues to experience challenges to the exercise of religious freedom, “and that this is not at all a narrow focus.”

“This is a very fundamental focus on the life and dignity of the human person, and the ability of the Church to contribute to the common good.”

Lives of the saints model Catholic social teaching in new book

Huntington, Ind., Jul 22, 2014 / 11:59 am (CNA).- Dignity of the human person, solidarity and care for creation are just a few topics author Brandon Vogt discusses in his new book, “Saints and Social Justice: A Guide to Changing the World.”…

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