Posts Tagged ‘US’

Assisted living centers defeat HHS mandate in court

Denver, Colo., Jan 29, 2015 / 04:56 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A federal court has permanently barred the Obama administration from enforcing the federal contraception mandate against the group of Evangelical-owned senior citizen and assisted living centers….

Measles are making a comeback, so what does the Church teach about vaccines?

Denver, Colo., Jan 29, 2015 / 04:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Disneyland is supposed to be the Happiest Place on Earth, not the place where you contract a highly contagious, once-eradicated disease.

Unfortunately, that is what happened at Disneyland in C…

On feast of St. Thomas, teachers called to mercifully challenge students

Washington D.C., Jan 28, 2015 / 06:16 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholics must be “merciful teachers” in eliciting the best from everyone around them, said a prominent Dominican preacher on the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas.

“Our call, religious, ordained, and laity alike, is to be ‘merciful teachers who wake up the world’,” the Very Rev. Ken Letoile, O.P., told Mass attendants at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. He cited Pope Francis’ call for the consecrated religious to “wake up the world.”

“It should not be surprising that St. Thomas thinks teaching is a profound spiritual work of mercy: ‘Instructing the ignorant’,” Fr. Letoile added. Former students revere their exceptional teachers precisely because “they demanded the most of us, as they called forth from us – the root meaning of the word ‘educate ‘ – they called forth our best work.”

“They formed us in the truth. They were merciful to us, because we are made to know the truth and to rejoice in it. We are not meant to be ignorant.”

Fr. Letoile is the prior provincial for the Dominican Province of St. Joseph, the eastern quarter of the four Dominican U.S. provinces. He preached at the annual Mass of St. Thomas Aquinas at the National Shrine on Jan. 28.

Fr. Letoile was joined by over 50 concelebrants from the neighboring Catholic University of America, Dominican House of Studies, and other seminaries and consecrated religious houses of studies.

The Mass was co-sponsored by Catholic University, the Dominican House of Studies, and the National Catholic Educational Association. It heralded the new academic semester and celebrated Catholic Schools Week. St. Thomas is also the patron saint of Catholic schools.

“One of my revered Dominican teachers once told us that before he entered the classroom he would pray for grace he needed to love the students he was about to teach,” Fr. Letoile shared. “In the words of today’s first reading, ‘I pleaded and the spirit of wisdom came to me.’ That’s the humility that is key to our call to be merciful teachers.”

St. Thomas was transformed by “merciful teaching,” Fr. Letoile added.

Thomas’ teacher, St. Albert the Great, “saw in his shy student what none of Aquinas’ other teachers and none of his classmates could see: a gifted genius in love with the Lord, who would, one day, teach the world about the mysteries of the Christian faith.”

Speaking at the end of Mass, Catholic University president John Garvey said the academic vocation is ultimately about God and not an egotistical pursuit of knowledge.

“Thomas’ example shows that the academic vocation is not a game. It’s not something we win by racking up the highest GPA or making the most clever arguments,” Garvey stated.

“For St. Thomas the goal of studying theology was to acquire the knowledge we need to direct our lives toward God, the final goal.” When students do not live what they study, he added, “our studies can be like conversations in an echo chamber. The reverberations build and build until the sound is unintelligible.”

National Catholic Schools Week begins every last Sunday of January and continues through the week. It “is the annual celebration of Catholic education in the U.S.,” according to the National Catholic Education Association.
 

A tale of two cakes: Colorado’s far-reaching religious freedom fight

Denver, Colo., Jan 28, 2015 / 05:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The battleground for religious freedom is currently the soft, frosted tops of cakes in Colorado.

Jack Phillips, owner of the Lakewood, Colo., Masterpiece Cakeshop, was sued in July 2012 for refusing to make a same-sex “wedding” cake on the grounds that it violated his Christian beliefs. He and his staff were ordered by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to undergo anti-discrimination training and to submit quarterly reports on changing company policies.

In July 2014, the commission rejected Phillips request to temporarily suspend the orders against him while his case proceeds in court.

It has recently come to light that at that same hearing, Diann Rice, a member of the commission, compared Phillips’ case to that of the Holocaust, which cost 6 million Jewish lives, and slavery.

“Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust,” Commissioner Rice said at the hearing.

“And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use – to use their religion to hurt others.”

Meanwhile, down the street in Denver, Azucar Bakery owner Marjorie Silva is fighting a similar battle, but with a slightly different twist.

Bill Jack approached Azucar bakery in March 2014 and ordered a Bible-shaped cake. When the cake was nearly done, Jack asked Silva to add two men holding hands with an X through them, and anti-gay written sentiments to the cake.

When Silva refused to create the cake, Jack told KUSA-TV he believed he “was discriminated against by the bakery based on my creed.”

Mark Silverstein, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Colorado, who has supported the legal action against Phillips, contended that the case differs from Phillips because he had refused to make any wedding cake for two men, while Silva only objected to a single message.

But Alliance Defending Freedom senior legal counsel Jeremy Tedesco, who is supporting Philips’ case, said these two cases are dealing with the exact same principle.

“Whether you have a narrow objection or a broad objection, what matters is the basis of your objection, the fact that you don’t want to engage in expression that violates your beliefs,” he said. “They’re both in the exact same position, they both don’t want to create a cake that expresses a message that they disagree with.”

Tedesco said the Azucar case will make for a telling test of the Civil Rights Commission and the American Civil Liberties Union, as far as which rights and whose rights they are willing to uphold.

“They’re either going to have to play favorites when it comes to these issues… or they’re going to have to disregard everybody’s rights and say that no one has this first amendment freedom in Colorado.”

“The ACLU is now having to say, under these circumstances (Silva) has every right to say no,” Tedesco added. “So if we were to rely on the ACLU for when to creating a cake creation is speech and when it’s not, I guarantee you, the only people who would ever be creating expression when they bake cakes are people who agree with the ACLU’s ideological beliefs.”

Tedesco added that he found the commissioner’s anti-religious sentiments during Phillips’ hearing to be disquieting.

“Such alarming bias and hostility toward Jack’s religious beliefs – and toward religion in general – has no place in civil society, let alone on a governmental commission that sits in judgment of whether he may follow his faith in how he runs his business,” he said.

“Commissioner Rice compared a private citizen who owns a small bakery to slaveholders and Holocaust perpetrators merely for asking that the state respect his right to free speech and free exercise of religion.”

CNA sought comment from the Department of Regulatory Agencies, which oversees the commission. A spokeswoman said that the department staff and commission members are not free to discuss the hearing because it is presently before the Colorado Court of Appeals.

These two cake cases are part of an increasing trend against religious freedom, warned Tedesco, and all Americans should be concerned. He pointed out that a flower shop in Washington State has been sued for declining to take part in a same-sex ceremony and an Idaho wedding chapel run by a husband and wife who are both ordained ministers has been told to perform same-sex ceremonies or face the possibility of jail time or fines.

“A government that forces any American to create a message contrary to his own convictions and surrender his livelihood is a government every American should fear,” Tedesco said. “Today the government is targeting Jack Phillips, but tomorrow it could be you.”

Bishops use Supreme Court case to call for death penalty abolition

Washington D.C., Jan 28, 2015 / 03:15 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Several bishops in the U.S. have welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision to re-examine death penalty protocols, and have called for the abolition of the death penalty.

“We pray that the court’s review of these protocols will lead to the recognition that institutionalized practices of violence against any person erode reverence for the sanctity of every human life. Capital punishment must end,” Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ pro-life activities committee, said Jan. 27.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, who chairs the committee on domestic justice, said recent executions have shown “how the use of the death penalty devalues human life and diminishes respect for human dignity.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has announced it will consider the case Glossip v. Gross, brought by three Oklahoma death row inmates, Richard Glossip, John Grant, and Benjamin Cole.

The inmates’ lawsuit asks the court to reject the three-drug protocol used in Oklahoma executions, saying it can cause extreme pain that violates constitutional bans on cruel and unusual punishment. Among the drugs in the cocktail is midazolam, a sedative.

The case was filed in response to the botched April 2014 execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma, which took more than 40 minutes. Although sedated, his body writhed and he breathed heavily as he was being killed. He eventually died of a heart attack.

Oklahoma officials said Lockett’s vein failed during the execution, which prevented the lethal drugs from working as intended. Other reports said officials failed to deliver the intravenous drug properly.

Following Lockett’s execution, Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin had issued a temporary stay of the exeuction of Charles Warner. The federal government also investigated the execution practices.

Warner, who was one of the inmates listed as a plaintiff in the Supreme Court case, was  executed in mid-January. Supreme Court justices, by a vote of 5-4, voted not to stay the execution of Warner, who was a convicted child rapist and murderer.

Glossip, was scheduled to be executed Jan. 29.

However, the Supreme Court granted a stay of execution Jan. 28 to all three living inmates who are plaintiffs in the case, writing that “it is hereby ordered that petitioners’ executions using midazolam are stayed pending final disposition of this case.”

It is disputed whether or not midazolam produces a deep enough sleep for the inmate to experience less pain when the other two drugs of the cocktail are administered.

The Supreme Court failed to stay not only Warner’s Jan. 15 execution, but also the Jan. 27 execution of Warren Hill in Georgia. Hill’s execution was being challenged on grounds of intellectual disability.

Catholic leaders have criticized the continued use of capital punishment.
Cardinal O’Malley said that society can protect itself “in ways other than the use of the death penalty.”

“We bishops continue to say, we cannot teach killing is wrong by killing,” Archbishop Wenski added.

The inmates’ attorney, Dale Baich, characterized Oklahoma’s new drug protocols as “novel and experimental.”

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has defended the state’s use of lethal injection, saying its constitutionality has been affirmed by two federal courts. Defending the constitutionality of the execution procedure will preserve the Oklahoma Department of Correction’s ability “to proceed with the sentences that were given to each inmate by a jury of their peers,” he said Jan. 23.

The Supreme Court is expected to hear the inmates’ case in April.

States that use lethal injections have faced increasing difficulty in obtaining the drugs used, mainly because the drugs’ manufacturers refuse to sell them for use in lethal executions, NBC News reports.

In May 2014, Ohio’s botched execution of inmate Dennis McGuire, which also used midazolam, also prompted calls to revisit the death penalty.

Several U.S. states have moved away from capital punishment in recent years. In total, 18 states have abolished capital punishment.

The U.S. bishops’ conference cited Pope Francis’ October 2014 call to abolish the death penalty “in all its forms.” The conference is working with state Catholic conferences, the Catholic Mobilizing Network, as well as with other groups, to work to abolish the death penalty in the U.S. In 2005, the bishops launched the Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty.

Who’s entering religious life these days?

Washington D.C., Jan 28, 2015 / 02:14 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- U.S. Catholics are being encouraged to get to know local religious communities, as a new study offers insight into the potential impact of vocational programs, Catholic schools, and encourageme…

The dark side of the Super Bowl and how Congress aims to fight it

Washington D.C., Jan 28, 2015 / 04:18 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Just days before Super Bowl XLIX, the U.S. House of Representatives is pushing for a bipartisan crack-down on the hidden menace of sex trafficking, which some human rights advocates refer to as…

West Coast Walk for Life broke more than one record this year

San Francisco, Calif., Jan 27, 2015 / 05:06 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The eleventh annual Walk for Life West Coast broke its own records this year, drawing the largest crowd it has ever seen, as well as more press coverage than in previous years.

“…

‘No compromise’ – Catholics, evangelicals unite on marriage

Washington D.C., Jan 27, 2015 / 10:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A coalition of Catholic and Protestant leaders has united to call all Christians to an unwavering defense of the truth of marriage, rooted in nature as well as faith.

“(W)e affirm stro…

Princeton professor to pro-life movement: We’re winning

Washington D.C., Jan 27, 2015 / 04:39 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Victory is in sight for the pro-life movement, as technology and rhetoric witness to the cause of life, Princeton professor Robert George told an audience of high school and college pro-life ac…

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