Posts Tagged ‘US’

Catholic League withdraws from St. Patrick’s Day Parade

New York City, N.Y., Sep 15, 2014 / 05:39 pm (CNA).- Controversy over the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade continues as the Catholic League has withdrawn its delegation, charging that parade organizers have not fulfilled a promise to include a pro-life Catholic group.

“The decision is disappointing. The Catholic League will always be welcome in the parade,” said parade spokesman William O’Reilly to CNA Sept. 12.

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, on Sept. 11 said parade organizers had consulted him about plans to include an LGBT advocacy group under its own banner in the 2015 parade. At the time, he had said he could only support the decision “if there were a formal revision in the parade’s rules governing marching units.”

“To be specific, I asked them to pledge that a pro-life Catholic group would also be permitted. I was told that a formal change in the rules had been approved and that a pro-life group would march.

“Now I am being told that the list of marching units is set and that no pro-life group will march in next year’s parade. Accordingly, I have decided to withdraw our participation.”

The Catholic League’s small delegation has marched in the parade for 20 years.

The parade has had a long-standing policy that banned most forms of political signs and advocacy, which had resulted in targeting by LGBT activists and their allies in politics, media and business who demanded the traditionally Catholic parade include LGBT advocacy groups.

Supporters of the previous policy included past New York archbishop Cardinal John O’Connor, who died in 2000. The parade committee previously defended the parade against lawsuits aimed to force it to approve LGBT groups’ applications.

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade website said that in the early 1990s the parade was “attacked for its traditional values” but noted that organizers’ rights were “upheld all the way to the Supreme Court.”

The parade committee on Sept. 3 announced that the LGBT group Out@NBCUniversal, an employee resource, recruitment and affinity volunteer group for LGBT people and their supporters within the media corporation NBCUniversal, would march in the parade.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York will be grand marshal of the 2015 parade. On Sept. 3 the cardinal voiced his “confidence and support” for the parade committee. He said that he and his predecessors have “always left decisions on who would march to the organizers of the individual parades.”

Donohue voiced his own support for Cardinal Dolan, saying his criticism was intended for the parade committee.

“They not only told me one thing, and did another, they decided to include a gay group that is neither Catholic nor Irish while stiffing pro-life Catholics,” Donohue said Sept. 11. “This is as stunning as it is indefensible.”

O’Reilly said that space in 2015 parade is now “full” and any new applications will be for the 2016 parade.

On the question of a pro-life group marching, O’Reilly said an application was “unfortunately” never filed for 2015.

“One still hasn’t been. But an application to march in the 2016 parade is certainly welcome,” he said.

Donohue said that there was no reason for a pro-life group to apply “given the reality that there was no public announcement of a rule change.”

“So what about the NBC gay group? How did they know there was a rule change when no other group did?” Donohue asked.

The Catholic League head has previously raised concerns that despite his conversations with parade committee leaders about including a pro-life group, this change was not announced on Sept. 3, but the inclusion of the LGBT advocacy group was.

O’Reilly told CNA he had been unaware of the conversation about including a pro-life group before the Sept. 3 announcement.

“The fault is mine. I was unaware of that conversation at the time of the announcement,” he said. “I apologize if that caused confusion.”

O’Reilly has rejected claims that the parade committee changed its policy due to outside pressure.

Donohue, the Irish Central news website and the New York Times have all reported that NBC had threatened to end its broadcasts of the parade because of the previous policy. Some sponsors, like brewers Guinness and Heineken, have pulled their sponsorship in previous years. The Irish Central reports that the Irish government had also been pressuring the parade committee.

The well-known parade dates back to 1762. The parade’s website says it is the oldest and largest parade in the world, with participants ranging in number from 150,000 to 250,000. The Archbishop of New York traditionally reviews the parade from the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

The Archdiocese of New York did not respond to a request for comment.

Cardinal Dolan said Sept. 3 that he looked forward to celebrating Mass in honor of St. Patrick.

He said he prayed “that the parade would continue to be a source of unity for all of us.”

Petition against OKC black mass draws support of 85,000

Oklahoma City, Okla., Sep 14, 2014 / 04:54 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- More than 85,000 people have signed a petition asking the city-run Oklahoma City Civic Center Music Hall to cancel a scheduled black mass, saying that is a blatant attack on the Catholic C…

Christian leaders prayerfully remember 9/11 at historic summit

Washington D.C., Sep 13, 2014 / 05:10 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- On the 13th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Christian patriarchs denounced terrorism and emphasized the need for peaceful unity between Christians and Muslims in the Middle E…

American Catholic deacon and doctor assisting in Liberia Ebola outbreak

Providence, R.I., Sep 13, 2014 / 12:36 pm (CNA).- According to the World Health Organization, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has infected at least 4,269 people, and claimed the lives of 2,288 as of Tuesday. It is the worst Ebola epidemic in history….

Mo. lawmakers override governor’s veto to pass pro-life measures

St. Louis, Mo., Sep 12, 2014 / 03:49 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Missouri legislature has overridden two vetoes from Gov. Jay Nixon in order to implement a three-day waiting period before an abortion and a tax credit for pregnancy centers and maternity homes.

Karen Nolkemper, executive director of the Respect Life Apostolate for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, said the votes for the two bills are “a public affirmation that all life matters, even that of the most vulnerable among us.”

Missouri’s Republican-controlled legislature on Wednesday voted 117-44 in the House of Representatives and 23-7 in the state Senate to override the Democratic governor’s veto of a bill that required a woman seeking an abortion to wait 72 hours after a consultation with a doctor before having the procedure.

Nolkemper said that women “should have sufficient time to reflect and consider alternatives to an abortion because abortion ends the life of a new and unique human being.”

“Many women are pressured into having an abortion by friends and family, but the 72-hour reflection period will protect woman as they make a difficult, permanent, and life-changing decision,” she added.

The archdiocese voiced hope that the waiting period will also give women “the opportunity to find the options they need to keep their babies.”

Missouri law, like about half of U.S. states, previously required a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion, the Associated Press reports. South Dakota and Utah have implemented a 72-hour waiting period, though Utah’s waiting period allows exceptions for women pregnant through rape and incest.

Gov. Nixon had said that the waiting period expansion was “extreme and disrespectful” to women because it did not exempt cases of rape and incest, the Associated Press reports.

Pam Fichter, president of Missouri Right to Life, said the extended waiting period will give a woman more time to consider her decision, research “the dangers and consequences of abortion” and find more help and alternatives to abortion.

The abortion provider Planned Parenthood did not say whether it would challenge the law, which will take effect 30 days after the Sept. 10 vote. It said the law could require women to travel more or to spend more money on hotels.

Women seeking abortions could avoid the law by traveling to Illinois and Kansas, where the abortion is less regulated.

Fewer than 5,500 abortions took place in Missouri in 2013.

The state legislature overrode the governor’s veto on a tax credit bill by even wider margins. The tax credits could increase financial support for pregnancy resource centers, maternity homes and food pantries.

“We are happy that these tax incentives will give private donors greater ability to be generous in the donations they make to these important programs and organizations that serve Missouri women and children in need,” Nolkemper said.

Fichter said both bills would “work together to protect the women of Missouri” and “ensure that in this matter of life and death, they don’t make a decision that will have a detrimental effect on them both physically and emotionally.”

“Pro-lifers across Missouri are so thankful and pleased that these bills are going into effect,” she said.

Catholics in America will – and do – suffer for ‘swimming against the tide’

Chicago, Ill., Sep 12, 2014 / 12:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Faithful Catholics will face increasing difficulties in American society as public life becomes more dominated by another “religion” that marginalizes the Church and imposes its own morality, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago has written.

“Swimming against the tide means limiting one’s access to positions of prestige and power in society,” Cardinal George wrote in his Sept. 7 column for Catholic New World, the newspaper of his local Church.

“It means that those who choose to live by the Catholic faith will not be welcomed as political candidates to national office, will not sit on editorial boards of major newspapers, will not be at home on most university faculties, will not have successful careers as actors and entertainers.”

He continued, “Nor will their children, who will also be suspect. Since all public institutions, no matter who owns or operates them, will be agents of the government and conform their activities to the demands of the official religion, the practice of medicine and law will become more difficult for faithful Catholics.”

“It already means in some States that those who run businesses must conform their activities to the official religion or be fined, as Christians and Jews are fined for their religion in countries governed by Sharia law.”

The cardinal’s column, titled “A tale of two churches”, is so impactful that Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia forewent his own Sept. 10 column, using Cardinal George’s in its place.

Cardinal George “is among the most articulate Catholic voices in the United States,” Archbishop Chaput wrote. “His column … deserves a very wide audience and serious discussion. I’m happy to give my own column space this week to the words of His Eminence, and I hope Philadelphia-area Catholics read and re-read his comments in the coming months.”

The column chronicles the history of the Church in the United States: how it was long able to flourish with American society, and how that is coming to an end.

Cardinal George said this marks a departure from the past of the United States, in which the Church initially found a country “that promised to respect all religions because the State would not be confessional; it would not try to play the role of a religion.”

“The social history was often contentious,” he acknowledged, “but the State basically kept its promise to protect all religions and not become a rival to them, a fake church. Until recent years.”

The United States had never “officially told its citizens what they must personally think or what ‘values’ they must personalize in order to deserve to be part of the country. Until recent years.”

However, social and legislative approval has in recent years been given to “all types of sexual relationships that used to be considered ‘sinful’,” and the Church’s teaching is now seen as “evidence of intolerance for what the civil law upholds and even imposes.”

“What was once a request to live and let live has now become a demand for approval,” Cardinal George said. He charged that the American ruling class, with opinion makers in politics, education and entertainment, is “using the civil law to impose its own form of morality on everyone.”

He noted the increasing insistence that there is “no difference between men and women” even in marriage itself.

“Those who do not conform to the official religion, we are warned, place their citizenship in danger,” he wrote, referring to a Huffington Post columnist who voiced “concerns about the compatibility between being a Catholic and being a good citizen” following the Supreme Court decision on the Obama administration’s HHS mandate.

The cardinal said that this attitude is “more sophisticated” than past expressions of anti-Catholicism in the United State such as nativism, the Know-Nothing Party, the American Protective Association, and the Ku Klux Klan.

“This is, rather, the self-righteous voice of some members of the American establishment today who regard themselves as ‘progressive’ and ‘enlightened.’”

The result of this conflict, he said, “is a crisis of belief for many Catholics.”

“Throughout history, when Catholics and other believers in revealed religion have been forced to choose between being taught by God or instructed by politicians, professors, editors of major newspapers and entertainers, many have opted to go along with the powers that be. This reduces a great tension in their lives, although it also brings with it the worship of a false god.”

“It takes no moral courage to conform to government and social pressure. It takes a deep faith to ‘swim against the tide,’ as Pope Francis recently encouraged young people to do.”

Continuing his narration of the Church’s history in the United States, Cardinal George concluded that “we don’t know” how the tale ends.

“The actual situation is, of course, far more complex than a story plot, and there are many actors and characters, even among the ruling class, who do not want their beloved country to transform itself into a fake church. It would be wrong to lose hope, since there are so many good and faithful people.”

“Catholics do know, with the certainty of faith, that, when Christ returns in glory to judge the living and the dead, the church, in some recognizable shape or form that is both Catholic and Apostolic, will be there to meet him.”

“There is no such divine guarantee for any country, culture or society of this or any age.”

FOCUS broadens missionary outreach with ‘Digital Campus’

Denver, Colo., Sep 11, 2014 / 04:41 am (CNA/EWTN News).- With missionary teams on 99 college campuses across the continental U.S., the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) has reached an impressive number of students in its 16-year histor…

Tense political divide doesn’t stop Christian unity over Middle East

Washington D.C., Sep 11, 2014 / 03:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Despite strained political differences, Christian leaders at a historic ecumenical conference voiced the need for unity in the face of the mass persecution of Christians and other minorities in the Middle East.

“For the love of God, we’re here to talk about the Christians and we’re here to be united,” said Andrew Doran, executive director of In Defense of Christians, at a Sept. 10 speech at the non-profit’s inaugural summit in Washington, D.C.

In Defense of Christians was founded to advocate for the persecuted Christians of the Middle East. The organization’s gala dinner on Wednesday was attended by over 1200 people including patriarchs and bishops of over a dozen Christian churches from countries throughout the Middle East.

“The last time a summit like this happened is probably in the fifteenth century,” Doran later told CNA.

Doran followed a controversial keynote address by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). The senator began the speech by saying that attendees were “united in defense of Christians” and “united in defense of Jews.” Cruz denounced what he called religious bigotry as a “cancer with many manifestations,” criticizing state and non-state actors such as Syria, Iran, ISIS, al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas.

Cruz told the crowd that “Christians have no greater ally than Israel.” Cruz’s statement was met with negative outbursts from some in the audience. Other attendees tried to quiet those outbursts, while still others called for the senator to refocus his statements on the persecution of Christians.

Some Christians in the Middle East have criticized Israeli military policy, particularly for its impact on Palestinian Christian communities, such as the one in Bethlehem.

Cruz responded  to the backlash by saying “those who hate Jews hate Christians,” adding that those who persecute Christians also “target Jews for their faith.” Cruz did not mention the persecution of numerous minority Muslim communities across the region.

“If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews,” Cruz said before he left the stage, “then I will not stand with you.”

After Cruz left the stage, Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, implored the attendees of the conference to remember its purpose “to truly have a witness today with unity and the solidarity that we came here to be part of.”

“The Middle East has been a cradle of culture and civilization for more than 2,000 years,” the cardinal said, adding that over the millennia Christians there have built “a culture of tolerance and unconditional acceptance for the other as other.”

Ignatius Ephrem Joseph III Younan, Syriac Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, pointed out the dire situation for many in the region and said that Christians in the Middle East “are on the verge of genocide.”

He decried “all acts of violence against humans,” calling instead for peace.

Metropolitan Joseph Zahlawi, Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of the  Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, echoed Younan’s comments, saying that the differences between people are “part of the gift from God.”

Knights’ collection for persecuted Iraqis passes $2 million

Washington D.C., Sep 11, 2014 / 02:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A Knights of Columbus relief fund for persecuted Iraqi refugees has now surpassed $2 million, and the order has released a special prayer to add a spiritual dimension to the humanitarian respon…

Love of God linked to love of man, archbishop reminds on 9/11

Denver, Colo., Sep 11, 2014 / 12:01 am (CNA).- The 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States is a chance to mourn and honor those who died, as well as to choose love over hatred, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila said…

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