Archive for the ‘Catholic US News’ Category

Obama says Pope Francis is a reminder of human dignity

Washington D.C., Apr 15, 2014 / 12:20 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Speaking at the 2014 Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House, U.S. President Barack Obama reflected on his recent meeting with Pope Francis, whom he described as an inspiration.

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Bishops invited to support 2014 March for Marriage

Washington D.C., Apr 12, 2014 / 03:45 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Two U.S. bishops leading efforts to defend and promote marriage offered their support for this year’s national March for Marriage and invited their fellow bishops to do the same.

“We are very grateful for this opportunity to express our support for the March for Marriage and to encourage participation in this event,” said Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo and Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco.

In an April 7 letter, they encouraged their fellow U.S. bishops to promote the march in their respective dioceses.

Bishop Malone is the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and Archbishop Cordileone chairs the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.

The 2014 March for Marriage will be held in Washington, D.C., on June 19, 2014. It is the second national demonstration to support the institution of marriage existing as a unique union between a man and a woman.

The first March for Marriage was held March 26, 2013, during the first day of arguments before the Supreme Court concerning the federal definition of marriage and states’ ability to define marriage.

In June 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government should accept the definitions of marriage offered by each state rather than holding its own definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

The court also discarded a case defending a California amendment approved by voters to defend the definition of marriage. The high court dismissed the case on procedural grounds, allowing a lower court’s ruling that the amendment was unconstitutional to stand.

The bishops said that this year’s march will be held days before the third annual Fortnight for Freedom, a two-week period of prayer, education and advocacy in support of religious liberty both at home and abroad.

The 2014 march, the bishops said, “will provide an ideal occasion for participants to celebrate and give public witness to the unique meaning of marriage,” particularly “at a time when the religious liberties and conscience rights of those who promote and defend marriage are increasingly threatened.”

“The March for Marriage will be an important means to promote and defend marriage for the good of our culture, to pray for our federal and state governments, and to stand in solidarity with people of good will,” they added. “It also complements well the bishops’ Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty.”

“This is a critical time for marriage in our country, as marriage amendments are being struck down by federal courts and appeals of these decisions are being made. We are deeply grateful for any support you can offer for this march,” they told their brother bishops.

Colo. archbishop: urgent prayer, action needed against ‘right to abortion’ bill

Denver, Colo., Apr 12, 2014 / 01:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila is asking the people of Colorado to spend 10 minutes in prayer and take concrete action over the weekend to support the sanctity of human life in the face of a serious…

HHS Secretary Sebelius, face of contraception mandate, resigns

Washington D.C., Apr 11, 2014 / 06:20 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- After months of criticism over the troubled rollout of the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has announced her resignation.

U.S. President Barack Obama officially made public Sebelius’ departure April 11, praising her as “a tireless advocate for women’s health.”

However, Rep. Diane Black (R- Tenn.), a co-sponsor of pro-life legislation proposed to clarify ambiguities about abortion funding in the Affordable Care Act, criticized Sebelius’ tenure.

Black noted in an April 11 statement that the controversial federal contraception mandate was issued under Sebelius’ leadership.

She charged that the mandate “forces those who stand up for their conscience to choose between paying crippling fines that could shut down their business or dropping healthcare coverage for all their employees.”

As Secretary of Health and Human Services since 2009, Sebelius was responsible for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act after its passage in 2010. In recent months, she had drawn criticism for the problems experienced in the state health care exchanges and technical glitches troubling the rollout of the HealthCare.gov website.

Sebelius has also been the face of the federal contraception mandate, a directive issued under the authority of the Affordable Care Act. The mandate requires employers to offer health insurance plans including coverage of contraception, sterilization and some drugs that can cause early abortions.

Despite a series of revisions to the mandate, critics argue that it fails to respect the religious freedom of employers who have moral and religious objections to its demands. More than 300 plaintiffs have sued Sebelius and her department over the mandate, and the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on two cases involving the mandate this summer.

In announcing her resignation, Obama acknowledged that “there were problems” with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and Healthcare.gov, but praised the secretary’s work to enroll people in the exchanges.

Obama also announced his nomination of Sylvia Mathews Burwell, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, to replace Sebelius in the position.

In her resignation speech, Sebelius called her time as HHS Secretary the “most meaningful work I’ve ever been a part of” and “the cause of my life.”

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, praised the outgoing secretary in an April 10 tweet, writing “Kathleen Sebelius did more for women’s health than anyone in history – our champion!”

She added in an April 11 tweet that “27 million women are benefiting from no-cost preventive health care, including birth control.”

Sebelius had also sparked controversy in her previous role as governor of Kansas due to her Catholic faith and adamant support for abortion.

Bishop laments lack of charity in high school controversy

Charlotte, N.C., Apr 11, 2014 / 02:02 pm (CNA).- Bishop Peter J. Jurgis has said he is “shocked” by reports of “a lack of charity and respect” at a North Carolina high school meeting about a religious sister whose discussion of …

Okla. Catholics speak up for voiceless with lawmakers

Oklahoma City, Okla., Apr 2, 2014 / 04:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A recent “Catholic Advocacy Day” gave laity in Oklahoma the opportunity to participate in the legislative process and to be “a voice for the voiceless,” the Oklahoma City archdiocese says.

“The Gospel … does have implications for the here and now and we are called to live out our faith by advocating for the least of these, advocating for the most vulnerable,” said Tina Dzurisin, communications director for the archdiocese, in an April 1 interview with CNA.

Each year, Catholic Charities of Oklahoma City gives voters across the state get the chance to meet with lawmakers and to discuss proposed legislation dealing with the poor and vulnerable.

More than 60 laity, legislators, clergy, and religious took part in the Catholic Advocacy Day which was held March 25.

Dzurisin said this year was especially inspiring to participants because both of Oklahoma’s bishops spoke at the event.

“Both Christian preaching and the Christian life are meant to have an impact on our society, to help us prepare here on earth for the coming of the reign of God by a more just ordering of society where charity may reign,” Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City said March 25.

He explained that as Christians, our good works are “not a peripheral to the faith.”

“It flows from the very heart of our faith, our encounter with the person of Jesus Christ who reveals the Father’s love to us, who reveals our own dignity to us and who opens up for us a new horizon – a transcendental horizon – of hope.”

Catholic Charities of Tulsa also lent support to the event, and Bishop Edward Slattery gave a presentation.

In his talk, Bishop Slattery explained that the Church is not “putting restrictions on our fellow human beings” when preaching against abortion, the death penalty, disregard for the poor, or euthanasia.

Rather, he said, the Church is seeking to promote the freedom and dignity of all persons, explaining that “the social teaching of the Church promotes human dignity, and freedom of the individual and of human societies.”

The director of advocacy for Catholic Charities in Oklahoma City, Dick Klinge, drew attention to several bills that would have an impact on the needy and vulnerable.

He encouraged Catholics to support proposed legislature such as House Bill 2685, which would require doctors to inform mothers about public and private agencies that offer perinatal and palliative care when their child has been diagnosed with a fetal anomaly that would not be compatible with life. Under this bill, abortion would be prohibited without the voluntary and informed consent of the mother.

Another bill which Klinge encouraged Catholics to support is House Bill 2338, which would give limited immunity from civil liability for any churches and schools that open their facilities to victims of natural disasters.
 

Bishops say Mass at border fence to remember dead migrants

Tucson, Ariz., Apr 1, 2014 / 04:47 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A group of U.S. bishops visited the U.S.-Mexico border Tuesday to say Mass in remembrance of migrants who died during their journey, calling attention to the humanitarian consequences of American immigration policy.

“Human beings are dying on both sides of this wall,” said Cardinal Séan O’Malley of Boston April 1.

“We are judged by how we treat the most vulnerable among us,” he said during a news conference following the Mass, at which he preached.

He urged Congress to take action, saying that laws “must change, if they undermine human dignity.”

Catholics on both side of the border participated in the Mass, held Nogales, Ariz., with those on the Mexican side of the border receiving Communion through slits in the border fence.

The trip was inspired by Pope Francis’ 2013 trip to Lampedusa to pray for immigrants who died traveling to Europe. The bishops laid a wreath at the border wall, echoing the Pope’s placement of a wreath in the Mediterranean Sea.

Cardinal O’Malley said his work with the migrant community “helped me to glimpse the hardships and humiliations of so many immigrants who come to the States fleeing from poverty and oppression, seeking a better life for their children.”

“Sadly enough, many immigrants spend years without the opportunity to see their loved ones.”

“How many rural areas are peopled by grandparents taking care of little grandchildren because the parents are off in the United States working to send money back home?”

The cardinal also spoke to the deadly conditions facing migrants crossing the border, including harsh conditions and animals in the desert, as well as violence from drug traffickers.

“We know that the border is lined with unmarked graves of thousands who die alone and nameless.” He noted that more than “400 bodies are found here at the border” every year – and that there are countless others that are not found.

The Gospel reading for the Mass told the parable of the Good Samaritan, a reading, Cardinal O’Malley said, that shows us “that people who belong to God’s covenant community show love that is not limited by friendship and propinquity, but a love that has a universal scope and does not look for recompense.”

“We come here today to be a neighbor, and to find a neighbor in each of the suffering people who risk their lives and at times lose their lives in the desert.”

The cardinal also added that while the U.S. benefits greatly from the contributions of immigrants as they pay into Social Security, Medicare, and other social programs they are unable to benefit from, more than “10 million undocumented immigrants are exposed to exploitation and lack access to basic human services.”

“The system is broken and is causing untold suffering and a tenable waste of resources, human and material.”

Other bishops present also spoke out in support of immigration reform.

“As a moral matter, our nation can no longer employ an immigration system that divides  families and denies basic due process protections to our fellow human beings,” said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo Almaguer, auxiliary bishop of Seattle.

Bishop Elizondo urged Congress to make changes to the immigration system, saying, “we can no longer stand idly by” with the current state of the immigration system, adding: “it is a moral imperative that Congress act this year.”

With “as many as 100,000 children separated from their parents each year,” Bishop Elizondo continued, “there is a large social cost to inaction.”

“Under our current immigration system we’re weakening this great nation of ours,” commented Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City.

“To be honest, it is a stain on the soul of our nation, one we must eradicate with comprehensive immigration reform.”

Child’s first 1,000 days critical to future health, experts say

Washington D.C., Apr 1, 2014 / 02:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The earliest days of a child’s development, both in the womb and after birth, are essential to human development and are well within the reach of the development community’s ability to address the problem, a House hearing said.

“There is perhaps no wiser investment that we could make in the human person than to concentrate on ensuring that sufficient nutrition and health assistance is given during the first 1,000 days of life,” said Rep. Chris Smith (R- N.J), chairman of the House of Representatives’ global health subcommittee, which hosted the March 25 hearing.

“We must take a holistic, mother-and-child approach to the problem,” he added.

The hearing, entitled “The First One Thousand Days: Development Aid Programs to Bolster Health and Nutrition” discussed development from conception to age two and the impact of quality of life in these early stages on further development.

Sophia Aguirre, chair of Catholic University of America’s Integral Economic Development Management Program, advocated “placing the family at the center” of development solutions. Saying it is a “long-term investment” solution.

Aguirre said ensuring “household food access, good health and hygiene conditions, as well as good care and health practices for infant and pregnant mothers” safeguards the ability of future generations to work toward their own development.

Failing to guarantee proper nutrition and development in utero and in early childhood, she added, “has been found to be also related to dementia, obesity, hypertension, and diabetes among other illnesses.”

Aguirre continued, saying these phenomena affect not only “those who suffer them, but it places an economic burden on the family members, communities, and finances of the country to which they belong.”

“These burdens can be avoided through investing in effective preventive initiatives.”

Aguirre stressed that typically, “these needs are first met in the family,” and that aid programs should focus on helping households as a whole: “Healthy families are the key to providing stability during this early stage of life.”

Tjada D’Oyen McKenna, an official with the U.S. Agency for International Development, testified as lead witness at the hearing, explaining that malnutrition for mothers and children has long-ranging consequences.

 ”At least 165 million children worldwide are stunted or have short stature resulting from chronic under-nutrition,” McKenna said.

“Stunting leads to irreversible cognitive impairment and poor health over the life span. Each year, under-nutrition in all forms is the underlying cause of 3.1 million child deaths, or 45 percent of all child deaths worldwide.”

Henry Perry, associate professor at the international health department in the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, said that while the maternal and infant mortality rate around the globe has decreased greatly, “we must recognize that we have a long way to go.”

Perry encouraged the funding of child survival programs and community education initiatives, improved community-centered strategies, and increased support for the Child Survival and Health Grants Program.

Mehret Mandefro, adjunct professor of Health Policy at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, encouraged aid organizations to focus on supporting psychological development and promoting maternal health conditions.

“Psychosocial development is often left off the table  in discussions about global child survival,” he said. He called on congressmen to consider “the conditions under which pregnant mothers live and give birth,” especially how they relate to poverty.

“Because we pay insufficient attention to the prenatal and  postpartum  environment,  we  miss  a  huge  opportunity  to  improve the lives of the very people we could help the most.”

Smith commented that increasing child and maternal health are “complimentary objectives,” not opposed to one another.
“Curbing child mortality in the womb and at birth also goes hand-in-hand with reducing maternal mortality,” he stated.

 ”Best practices to radically reduce maternal mortality can and must be life-affirming — protecting from harm both patients, the mother and the child in the womb.”

Former president ‘grossly misunderstands’ Catholic teaching

Washington D.C., Mar 31, 2014 / 05:05 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Prominent Catholic laywomen have responded to recent statements by former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, saying he lacks understanding of the Church and of the nature of service.

While talking to various media outlets, Carter has criticized the Church saying its teachings about the priesthood are responsible for the mistreatment of women around the world.

Carter’s “comments about the role of women in the Church show a gross misunderstanding of Catholicism,” commented Ashley McGuire, senior fellow with The Catholic Association, in a March 27 interview with CNA.

“As Pope Francis continues to remind us, it is service to others that is the primary aim of Catholics, not authority or power.”

She added that Carter’s statements “are insulting to nuns, whose work is just as important as that of priests,” and that the conflation of “an all-male priesthood with domestic abuse is disrespectful to the Church and to actual victims of domestic violence.”

Carter appeared on The Colbert Report March 26 saying he would join the Church if “a female Catholic priest asks me to join her church”; he has made similar statements in other interviews promoting his latest book.

Earlier this month, Carter said the Church’s teaching on the priesthood influences men to “treat (women) as inferiors.”

“The fact that the Catholic Church, for instance, prohibits women from serving as priests or even deacons gives a kind of a permission to male people all over the world, that well, if God thinks that women are inferior, I’ll treat them as inferiors,” he said in a March 22 interview with NPR.

“If she is my wife, I can abuse her with impunity, or if I’m an employer, I can pay female employees less salary.”

Carter has made similar comments discussing women, the priesthood, and Pope Francis on Huffington Post, CNN and other media outlets.

Jennifer Manning, a member of Catholic Voices USA, told CNA that “to say that ‘God thinks that women are inferior’ because women cannot be priests in the Catholic Church is a gross misunderstanding not only of Catholicism, but of God.”

Manning explained that Catholic teaching “does not treat women as ‘inferiors.’ God created men and women with equal dignity, each in the image and likeness of God.”

She said contemporary thinking may not agree with the Church’s understanding of the complementary nature or “harmony” of men and women, yet “this symbolism reaches deeply into Catholicism.”

“The Church is the bride of Christ: Christ marries his Church, gives his life for his Church.”

Kathryn Lopez, director of Catholic Voices USA, told CNA the Church has the highest “love, regard, respect, and gratitude for women.”

This love and respect for women is “unmistakable watching Pope Francis, who works with and listens to” women and has also “said on more than one occasion that ‘the Virgin Mary is more important than any bishop and any apostle.’”

“This is no small thing,” Lopez stressed, “and I pray President Carter might consider talking with some Catholic women who love our faith before attacking it.”

New website encourages return to Confession during Lent

Atlanta, Ga., Mar 28, 2014 / 04:09 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The website GoodConfession.com aims to encourage Catholics to go to Confession more often, and to return to the “life-changing” sacrament if they have been away for some time.

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