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Archbishop Cordileone responds to criticism that he's 'politicizing the Eucharist'

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone / EWTN News Nightly Screenshot

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 23, 2022 / 19:47 pm (CNA).

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone on Monday responded to criticism that he is “politicizing” the Eucharist by denying Nancy Pelosi Holy Communion, saying he would prefer the Democratic House Speaker remain in office “and become an advocate for life in the womb."

"What does it mean to politicize the Holy Eucharist if one is following Church teaching and applying Church teaching?” Cordileone said in an interview with EWTN News’ Erik Rosales that aired May 23 on “EWTN News Nightly.”

“One would have to demonstrate that one is doing that for a political purpose,” the archbishop said.

“I've been very clear all along, my purpose is pastoral, not political,” he added. “I am not campaigning for anyone for office. As a matter of fact, my preference would be for Speaker Pelosi to remain in office and become an advocate for life in the womb."

On Friday, Cordileone announced that he had notified Pelosi, who describes herself as a devout Catholic, that until she publicly repudiates her support for abortion, she should not be admitted to Holy Communion in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, her home diocese, nor should she present herself for Communion. 

Cordileone told Rosales that he has not received any response from Pelosi so far. Nor has the 82-year-old speaker issued any public statements about the Communion ban as of yet. You can watch Cordileone’s interview in the video below.

As of May 23, at least a dozen U.S. bishops have publicly supported Cordileone’s action, which only applies within the San Francisco Archdiocese. Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila called Cordileone “a shepherd with the heart and mind of Christ, who truly desires to lead others towards Christ’s love, mercy, and promise of eternal salvation.”  

Cardinal Wilton Gregory of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., where Pelosi spends much of her time, has not commented publicly on Cordileone's action, but has indicated in the past that he does not intend to deny Communion to Catholic politicians who actively promote abortion and other policies at odds with Church teaching.

Cordileone told Rosales that politicizing the Eucharist can even occur “in reverse.” One could “receive Communion as a means to furthering a political agenda, when one is motivated for that reason,” he said. “So it cuts both ways.”

Cordileone noted that many Catholics don’t understand Church teaching on the Eucharist, “what it is, who it is, and what the proper disposition is to receive it, what it means to receive the most Holy Eucharist.”

He added that he wanted to help Catholics understand “the grave evil of abortion and what it means to cooperate with evil on the different levels.”

“I wanted to be clear in laying out that teaching,” he said.

‘Aggressive’ abortion stance

Rosales said that Cordileone told him his decision is not related to the recent leak of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion that shows the court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark case that legalized abortion nationwide. 

However, Rosales said that Cordileone was “motivated by Speaker Pelosi's reaction to the Texas Heartbeat Law,” which bans most abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, at about six weeks gestation.

“That's when Speaker Pelosi became very outspoken and aggressive — I'll use that word — in vowing to codify the Roe vs Wade decision into federal law,” Cordileone told Rosales, referring to her ardent support for the Women’s Health Protection Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives but failed to garner enough votes in the Senate

“So it would guarantee open, unqualified access to abortion for all 9 months, all through out the country,” Cordileone said. “This was very alarming, very disturbing.”

It was at this time that Cordileone began the “Rose and Rosary for Nancy” campaign, asking Catholics to pray and fast to soften her heart for the unborn.

Cordileone said that Pelosi frequently speaks fondly of her five grown children.

“I think she has a maternal heart, there is a real sensitivity there,” he said.

“So I asked people to pray and fast for her and I've been trying to meet with her. Ever since then I've made several attempts to speak with her. I've either been denied or just received no response.”

Cordileone added that Pelosi “knew in advance that I would make this announcement if she did not repudiate her position on abortion or at least not refer to her Catholic faith and not go to Communion.”

Rosales brought up Pelosi’s recent October meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican and asked whether the pope should take a greater stance on the issue.

“I think Pope Francis has taken a very strong stance on this,” Cordileone said. “He's been very outspoken about the evil of abortion. He sees how everything is interconnected.”

 Citing Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’, Cordileone said the pope “talks about the interconnectedness of it all. He brings up this issue that care for the environment, care for our common home also includes care for the poor and the vulnerable, including life in the womb, and he compares it to hiring a hitman to solve the problem.”

Judge blocks auction of Dorothy's Wizard of Oz dress, over Catholic University's objections

The Dorothy dress at the center of the dispute. / Bonhams

Denver Newsroom, May 23, 2022 / 18:50 pm (CNA).

The Catholic University of America cannot auction a dress from the Wizard of Oz until a court resolves a legal challenge about its ownership, a federal judge has said.

The university had scheduled an auction of the dress worn by Judy Garland for the classic movie in hopes of raising more than $1 million for its drama department. The legal challenge comes from Wisconsin resident Barbara Ann Hartke, 81, a niece of a Dominican priest and drama professor at the university. She says that the dress should be hers because she is the priest’s closest living relative.

Judge Paul Gardephe, in a May 23 temporary injunction, ruled that the niece’s lawsuit had enough merit to proceed. He blocked the planned auction until the lawsuit challenging ownership of the dress is legally settled through proceedings in Manhattan federal court. He has set another hearing in June. The ruling could postpone the sale of the dress for months or years, the Washington Post reports.

Mercedes McCambridge, an Oscar-winning actress and artist-in-residence at Catholic University in 1973, had given the dress to Father Gilbert Hartke, O.P., the founder and head of the university’s drama school. In the late 1980s, the dress went missing and the costume became the subject of rumor. Matt Ripa, a lecturer and operations coordinator for the university’s drama department, happened upon a bag atop faculty mailboxes in 2021. He opened the bag to find a shoebox, inside of which was the dress.

Barbara Ann Hartke’s lawsuit has support from at least one other relative of Hartke, who was one of six siblings. However, the university filed affidavits from other relatives who say Hartke told them the dress belonged to the university.

The university also filed an affidavit from Father Kenneth R. Letoile, O.P., the Prior Provincial of the Province of St. Joseph, who explained that the Dominican priest had made a vow of poverty and not allowed to possess anything as personal property. Any gifts to him should have proceeded to the province, and the province did not claim ownership of the Wizard of Oz dress.

Fr. Gilbert Hartke holds a dress gifted to him that Judy Garland wore as Dorothy Gale in the 1939 film ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Courtesy of The Catholic University of America.
Fr. Gilbert Hartke holds a dress gifted to him that Judy Garland wore as Dorothy Gale in the 1939 film ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Courtesy of The Catholic University of America.

Shawn Brenhouse, an attorney for Catholic University, said the university will continue to defend its right to sell the dress, the proceeds of which are planned to support the drama school.

“The Court’s decision to preserve the status quo was preliminary and did not get to the merits of Barbara Hartke’s claim to the dress,” he said, according to the Washington Post. “We look forward to presenting our position, and the overwhelming evidence contradicting Ms. Hartke’s claim, to the Court in the course of this litigation.”

In court papers, Barbara Ann Hartke’s attorney Anthony Scordo III argued that his client could show that Father Hartke’s estate was the rightful owner of the dress. McCambridge had “specifically and publicly” given the dress to the priest and the dress is “therefore an asset of decedent’s estate.”

Gardephe rejected the university’s argument that the dress must be sold urgently so that potential buyers would not lose interest. He cited the enduring popularity of the film and said that controversy over the dress has generated more interest.

According to the auction company Bonhams, Judy Garland wore the gingham dress while filming a scene in which her character Dorothy Gale faces the Wicked Witch of the West in the witch’s castle.

The dress from the 1939 movie is one of only two existing dresses that retains its white blouse. It is now valued at an estimated $800,000 to $1.2 million, Bonhams said. Another surviving dress was auctioned for $1.5 million in 2015.

The university had said that proceeds from the sale of the dress would endow a faculty chair, a position that will support the current bachelor of fine arts degree in acting for theater, film, and television, as well as the development of a new formal film acting program at the university’s Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art.

Jackie Leary-Warsaw, dean of the drama school, is the wife of Michael Warsaw, chairman and CEO of the EWTN Global Catholic Network, Catholic News Agency’s parent network.

DC archdiocese mistakenly gives candid response on Pelosi Communion denial

Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington takes possession of Immacolata Concezione di Maria a Grottarossa in Rome, Sept. 27, 2021 / Courtney Mares.

Denver Newsroom, May 23, 2022 / 17:43 pm (CNA).

The Archdiocese of Washington’s communications office erroneously told a reporter Monday that media requests related to Nancy Pelosi’s denial of Holy Communion by her bishop “will be ignored.”

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, the local ordinary of U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, announced Friday that Pelosi may not be admitted to Holy Communion in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, nor should she present herself to receive the Eucharist, until she publicly repudiates her longstanding support for abortion. 

Since Cordileone’s announcement, numerous bishops have publicly made their support for Cordileone’s action known. Bishop Robert Vasa of Santa Rosa — which includes a vacation home of Pelosi’s in Napa — has said that he, too, will uphold Cordileone’s decision not to admit her to communion and has instructed his priests as such.  

A reporter writing for the Washington Examiner had contacted the Archdiocese of Washington, led by Cardinal Wilton Gregory, for a comment on the matter, since Pelosi spends much of her time in the nation’s capital. The reporter received an emailed response from the communications office, apparently sent in error. 

“Just sharing for you to know what comes in,” the email reads. “Email since Saturday, when I last checked the comms inbox has just been a couple of random people wanting to tell the Cardinal to bring down the hammer on Pelosi. Aside from Jack Jenkins at [Religion News Service], this is the only new media inquiry. It will be ignored, too.”

When the Examiner requested clarification, archdiocese spokesperson Patricia Zapor told the reporter that Cardinal Gregory would not be commenting publicly on the matter. 

“I apologize for the mistaken email. We have not been responding to inquiries on this topic because Cardinal Gregory's position has not changed from what he has said in the past,” the followup email reads. 

“Cardinal Gregory has no new comment about the issue of Catholic politicians receiving Communion. The actions of Archbishop Cordileone are his decision to make in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Cardinal Gregory has not instructed the priests of The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington to refuse Communion to anyone.”

Pelosi has long advocated for the legalization of abortion and announced in September 2021 that she would seek to codify Roe. v. Wade into U.S. law. Despite the ban on her receiving in San Francisco and Santa Rosa, Pelosi reportedly received Communion May 22 during Mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown, in the Archdiocese of Washington. 

Cardinal Gregory told a reporter — Jack Jenkins at Religion News Service — in 2020 that he would not deny Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians. 

During the U.S. bishops’ spring meeting in June 2021, Gregory cautioned against drafting a teaching document on the Eucharist that would include language on worthiness to receive Communion, especially among Catholic public figures. Some bishops critical of the motion warned that it would be interpreted as a partisan denunciation of pro-abortion Catholic politicians, especially President Joe Biden.

In a May 20 letter addressed to lay Catholics, Cordileone explained that he issued the instruction in accordance with canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law, which states that those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” 

“After numerous attempts to speak with her to help her understand the grave evil she is perpetrating, the scandal she is causing, and the danger to her own soul she is risking, I have determined that the point has come in which I must make a public declaration that she is not to be admitted to Holy Communion unless and until she publicly repudiate her support for abortion ‘rights’ and confess and receive absolution for her cooperation in this evil in the sacrament of Penance,” Cordileone wrote in the letter.

This is the prayer that Catholics are asked to say for the Church in China on May 24

St. Francis Xavier statue in front St. Joseph Cathedral in Beijing, China, February 25, 2016. / Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 23, 2022 / 17:03 pm (CNA).

In 2007 Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed May 24, the feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, to be a World Day of Prayer for the Church in China, which venerates the Blessed Virgin Mary under that title as the country's patroness.

This year, Pope Francis has asked Catholics to join him in praying for the faithful in China.

“This coming Tuesday is the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin, Mary Help of Christians, particularly dear to Catholics in China who venerate Mary, Help of Christians as their Patroness in the Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai, in many churches throughout the country, and in their homes,” Pope Francis said on May 22.

National Shrine and Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Sheshan, also known as Basilica of Mary, Help of Christians, in Shanghai, China. lobia, Wikimedia.
National Shrine and Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Sheshan, also known as Basilica of Mary, Help of Christians, in Shanghai, China. lobia, Wikimedia.

“This happy occasion offers me the opportunity to assure them once again of my spiritual closeness. I am attentively and actively following the often complex life and situations of the faithful and pastors, and I pray every day for them,” he said.

The pope continued, “I invite all of you to unite yourselves in this prayer so that the Church in China, in freedom and tranquility, might live in effective communion with the universal Church, and might exercise its mission of proclaiming the Gospel to everyone, and thus offer a positive contribution to the spiritual and material progress of society, as well.”

In response, the Catholic humanitarian organization Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) and other human rights groups have also called for prayer. Adding to the urgency for prayer this year are reports that Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, the 90-year-old retired bishop of Hong Kong who is an outspoken support of the pro-democracy movement there, is expected to return to court on Tuesday in connection with his May 11 arrest for allegedly violating China’s national security law. 

"The wish of Benedict XVI was to promote unity in a community that had become divided into 'official' and 'underground,' but at the same time, to foster communion between the entire Catholic Church and Chinese Catholics. Therefore, on this day, all Catholics are called to express their solidarity with Christians in China," ACN said in a statement released on May 23.

"Furthermore," the statement continued, "the prayer aims at strengthening Catholics in their faith, especially at a time when public witness and practice of faith or even the explicit proclamation of the Gospel are increasingly restricted by the Chinese communist government."

Here is the prayer Benedict XVI asked Catholics to pray on this occasion:

Virgin Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother, venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title "Help of Christians," the entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection.

We come before you today to implore your protection. Look upon the People of God and, with a mother’s care, guide them along the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens.

When you obediently said "yes" in the house of Nazareth, you allowed God’s eternal Son to take flesh in your virginal womb and thus to begin in history the work of our redemption. You willingly and generously cooperated in that work, allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul, until the supreme hour of the Cross, when you kept watch on Calvary, standing beside your Son, who died that we might live.

From that moment, you became, in a new way, the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith and choose to follow in his footsteps by taking up his Cross. Mother of hope, in the darkness of Holy Saturday you journeyed with unfailing trust towards the dawn of Easter.

Grant that your children may discern at all times, even those that are darkest, the signs of God’s loving presence. Our Lady of Sheshan, sustain all those in China, who, amid their daily trials, continue to believe, to hope, to love. May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world, and of the world to Jesus.

In the statue overlooking the Shrine you lift your Son on high, offering him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love.

Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love, ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built.

Mother of China and all Asia, pray for us, now and for ever. Amen!

Oklahoma passes extensive abortion ban bill, as country awaits Supreme Court ruling

null / Aykut Erdogdu/Shutterstock.

Denver Newsroom, May 23, 2022 / 16:50 pm (CNA).

The Oklahoma legislature has passed another law limiting abortion, ahead of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that could allow many more restrictions on abortion. The Oklahoma legislation follows a Texas model in allowing private citizens to sue abortion providers, but expands its scope to ban almost all direct abortions from the moment of conception.

House Bill 4327 bars all abortions except to save the life of a pregnant woman or if the unborn child was conceived in rape or incest reported to law enforcement. The legislation passed by 76-16, generally on a party-line vote, on May 19.

“Is our goal to defend the right to life or isn’t it?” bill sponsor Republican State Rep. Wendi Stearman asked legislators before the bill passed.

State Rep. Cyndi Munson, a Democrat, had questioned Stearman about the fact that many women, especially young girls, do not report rape or incest to law enforcement.

“Can you explain to me why you’re okay with a person carrying on a pregnancy after they have been raped or there has been instances of incest?” Munson asked.

“I am okay with preserving the life of the child,” Stearman responded. “The child was not part of that decision.”

Like a novel Texas law, it allows private citizens to sue abortion providers and anyone who “aids and abets” illegal abortions. The Texas law, however, bars abortion six weeks into pregnancy. The proposed Oklahoma law is the first of its kind to allow civilian enforcement of an abortion ban beginning at conception.

The legislation defines an unborn child as a human fetus or embryo at any stage of development. It specifically allows doctors to remove the body of a dead unborn child caused by spontaneous abortion or miscarriage, or to remove an ectopic pregnancy, the Associated Press reports. The bill’s provisions do not apply to abortion-inducing drugs or contraception.

Dr. Eli Reshef, an Oklahoma City fertility specialist, told the Associated Press that the legislation is not expected to apply to in-vitro fertilization, when embryos are conceived in a lab by fertilizing eggs before transferring them into a woman’s womb.

Gov. Kevin Stitt has said he will sign any pro-life legislation the legislature sends to him.

Earlier this month, Stitt had signed into law a bill which bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually around six weeks into pregnancy. That law, too, relies on citizens’ private lawsuits to enforce the ban.

Plaintiffs who successfully sue those who perform or aid and abet abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected could have a legal reward of at least $10,000.

Oklahoma’s two Catholic bishops had praised that bill as a protective measure for human life in the state, and also encouraged help for the women considering abortion.

Planned Parenthood’s two abortion clinics in Oklahoma stopped performing abortions after the governor signed the six-week ban. Once the latest bill is signed into law, the state’s two other abortion clinics will close, their attorney has said, according to the Associated Press.

“At this point, we are preparing for the most restrictive environment politicians can create: a complete ban on abortion with likely no exceptions,” Emily Wales, interim president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, told the Associated Press. “It’s the worst-case scenario for abortion care in the state of Oklahoma.”

Abortion restrictions in Texas reduced the number of abortions in the state by perhaps 46%. However, some pregnant women are seeking abortions in bordering states like Oklahoma or ordering abortion pills by mail.

The numbers of abortions performed in Oklahoma fell from 6,200 in 2002 to 3,736 in 2020, the lowest in more than 20 years. About 9% of Oklahoma abortions in 2020 were performed on women from Texas.

In late April Oklahoma legislators passed a law banning abortions entirely unless the procedure is done to save the life of the pregnant woman. That law, which would likely be struck down as unconstitutional unless the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, is set to go into effect in August.

The U.S. Supreme Court could very well overturn Roe v. Wade and related precedents requiring all U.S. states to legalize abortion. Overturning the decision would return control of abortion legislation to the states.

In October 2021, Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City issued a call to prayer for the abolition of the death penalty and for the end to abortion in Oklahoma

“We must pray for a renewed focus on the precious gift of life - all life from conception until natural death,” he said.

Charleston bishop 'conquered hearts' ministering to Hispanics in Georgia

Bishop Jacques Fabre-Jeune of Charleston. / Doug Deas/The Catholic Miscellany

Denver Newsroom, May 22, 2022 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

The newly consecrated Bishop of Charleston showed a great commitment and love for the Hispanic community in the Archdiocese of Atlanta where he previously served, according to a Hispanic leader in Atlanta. 

Bishop Jacques Fabre-Jeune, a Haitian emigrant, became the Charleston diocese’ first Black bishop when he was installed on May 13. 

Fabre-Jeune had previously served as the administrator of the San Felipe de Jesús Mission in Forest Park, Georgia, south of Atlanta, a congregation which he himself described at “99% Mexican.”

Jairo Martinez, who is retired today after 16 years serving as Director of the Atlanta Archdiocese’ Hispanic Ministry Office, told CNA that despite not being a member of the Hispanic community, Fabre-Jeune endeared himself to the community with his “sense of commitment” as well as his “love for the people.”

Fabre-Jeune’s commitment to getting a new church building built for the mission, which came to fruition in 2011, “shows really how Father Jacques got to the heart of those Hispanics, because let me tell you, he conquered their hearts," Martinez said. 

Then-Father Jacque Fabre-Jeune speaks at the opening of the new church building at the San Felipe de Jesús Mission in Forest Park, Georgia, south of Atlanta. Michael Alexander/Georgia Bulletin
Then-Father Jacque Fabre-Jeune speaks at the opening of the new church building at the San Felipe de Jesús Mission in Forest Park, Georgia, south of Atlanta. Michael Alexander/Georgia Bulletin

Fabre-Jeune, a Haitian native and immigrant New Yorker who was ordained a priest in 1986, arrived at the San Felipe mission in 2008. After graduating college, Fabre-Jeune had joined the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo, also known as the Scalabrinians. The Scalabrinians were originally founded to support the spiritual needs of missionaries going to South and North America, and today its members do much to serve refugees and immigrants. 

Fabre-Jeune’s novitiate took place in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he learned to speak Spanish fluently — one of the five languages he speaks today. 

Martinez said finding clergy to minister to Georgia’s large Hispanic population is one of the biggest challenges the Hispanic Catholic community faces in the state. It is difficult, he said, to find men who are not merely bilingual, but also are willing to understand the culture. 

Many Hispanic Catholics, though they may be bilingual and speak English in most of their interactions in society, will still prefer to attend Mass and practice their faith in Spanish, he said. 

Their formation has often been done in Spanish in their native country, and they pray in Spanish. Even children of Hispanic immigrants who are native English speakers will often prefer to worship with their parents in Spanish, he said. 

"So it is important to give them an opportunity to live their spiritual life in their own language," Martinez noted. 

The San Felipe mission itself symbolizes the progress that the Hispanic community has made in Atlanta, Martinez said. When Martinez first saw the mission, it was located in a very poor area, in a run-down building, with tarps over the roof to keep out the rain. Later, in 2002, the archdiocese purchased a former Protestant church to house the Catholic congregation, and eventually under Fabre-Jeune’s leadership the community built and opened the new church building still in use today. 

San Felipe de Jesús Mission in Forest Park, Georgia. Facebook
San Felipe de Jesús Mission in Forest Park, Georgia. Facebook

During his time at the mission, Fabre-Jeune also served as the director of the Hispanic Charismatic Renewal and a member of the Archdiocese of Atlanta’s finance council. Noting Fabre-Jeune’s skills as an administrator as well as his love for his flock, Martinez said if someone had asked him a few years ago for recommendations of priests who would make good bishops, he would have suggested Father Fabre-Jeune.

In terms of the broader Hispanic Catholic community in the United States, which is growing rapidly, Martinez said Catholics in the U.S. can learn from the “simplicity” of the faith of Hispanic Catholics. Martinez also said he greatly admires the strong sense of local community and family that is present in Hispanic culture. He says he has seen the Archdiocese of Atlanta make a "huge effort" to serve the Hispanic community, and he hopes other dioceses and archdioceses will do the same. 

Not over the rainbow, yet: Lawsuit blocks Catholic University's auction of 'Wizard of Oz' dress

Yellow brick road. / Shutterstock

Denver Newsroom, May 22, 2022 / 12:12 pm (CNA).

A dress worn by Judy Garland in her classic role as Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz" is now the main character in a surprise drama. Supporting characters are the Catholic University of America and some relatives of a priest and former professor who, they say, would have wanted his relatives to own the rare collectible, not the university.

The university had planned to auction the dress to fund its drama school. These plans were delayed by a legal challenge from Wisconsin resident Barbara Ann Hartke, 81, a niece of Father Gilbert Hartke, O.P., the founder and head of the university’s drama school. She says that the dress should be hers because she is the priest’s closest living relative.

Barbra Ann Hartke’s attorney, Anthony Scordo, told WTOP that there has been “absolutely no legal documentation of such a gift to the university” in any of its court filings. Her lawsuit also objects that the university did not contact her when the dress was rediscovered.

“I was just surprised after all this time, here it had been found, and here it is being rushed off to the auction house,” Barbara Ann Hartke told the New York Post earlier this month. Tony Lehman, a grand-nephew of Father Hartke, also supports the lawsuit.

The university contends the objecting relatives have no case. The university’s attorneys argue the dress was given to the priest in his capacity as a drama professor at the university. The university further notes that Father Hartke, as a vowed Dominican, was not allowed to keep personal possessions.

“We look forward to the opportunity to present the overwhelming evidence, including a statement from another family member, supporting Catholic University’s ownership of the dress to the court next week,” a Catholic University of America spokesperson told CNA May 17.

“The university’s position is that the allegations in the lawsuit have no basis in law or fact because Catholic University is the rightful owner of the dress and Father Hartke’s estate does not have a property interest in it,” the spokesperson said.

Fr. Gilbert Hatke holds a dress gifted to him that Judy Garland wore as Dorothy Gale in the 1939 film ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Courtesy of The Catholic University of America.
Fr. Gilbert Hatke holds a dress gifted to him that Judy Garland wore as Dorothy Gale in the 1939 film ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Courtesy of The Catholic University of America.

Mercedes McCambridge, an Oscar-winning actress and artist-in-residence at Catholic University in 1973, had given the dress to Father Hartke, who died in 1986. In the late 1980s, the dress went missing and the costume became the subject of rumor. Matt Ripa, a lecturer and operations coordinator for the university’s drama department, happened upon a bag atop faculty mailboxes in 2021. He opened the bag to find a shoebox, inside of which was the dress.

The university had scheduled an auction of the dress in hopes of raising more than $1 million for its drama department.

New York U.S. District Court Judge Paul Gardephe placed a temporary restraining order on the auction pending a hearing the day before the dress was scheduled to be auctioned through the auctioneer company Bonhams.

According to Bonhams, the actress Judy Garland wore the gingham dress while filming a scene in which her character Dorothy Gale faces the Wicked Witch of the West in the witch’s castle.

The dress from the 1939 classic movie is one of only two existing dresses that retains its white blouse. It is now valued at an estimated $800,000 to $1.2 million, Bonhams said. Another surviving dress was auctioned for $1.5 million in 2015.

Father Hartke was one of six siblings. Catholic University of America has gathered the testimony of other relatives to support its case that it is the owner of the dress.

Thomas Kuipers, a grand-nephew of Hartke, said the priest told him “that I could not have it as the dress belonged to Catholic University.” He said he and other descendants of Father Hartke’s sister Inez Mercedes Hartke support the auction of the dress donated to the university.

Margo Carper, granddaughter of Father Hartke’s brother Joseph, also backed the university.

William Largess, who was an undergraduate student in Catholic University’s drama department from 1972 to 1976, said he was with the priest “multiple times” when he took out a dress to show to students that Largess understood was a dress from "The Wizard of Oz."

“I specifically recall Father Gilbert V. Hartke saying that Ms. Mercedes McCambridge gave the dress to the Department of Drama at Catholic University,” said Largess, who is now an adjunct theater professor at George Washington University.

Father Kenneth R. Letoile, O.P., the Prior Provincial of the Province of St. Joseph, described the Dominican approach to the vow of poverty.

“Based on my knowledge of the Dominican Order, and my understanding that Father Hartke made a vow of poverty, as is required for membership in the Dominican Order, Father Hartke was not permitted to possess anything by right of personal ownership,” Letoile said.

If anything was given to him in his personal capacity, he would have been required to donate to his province “in accordance with his vows and solemn profession.”

Letoile said that the Dominican province does not assert any right to the dress.

“I hereby affirm on behalf of the province the Catholic University of America’s full ownership of the dress,” he said.

When the auction of the dress was announced in April, the Catholic University of America said it had documentation which indicates that the dress was gifted to Hartke with the intention it be used to support the drama department.

If the auction goes forward, proceeds from the sale will endow a faculty chair, a position that will support the current bachelor of fine arts degree in acting for theater, film, and television, as well as the development of a new formal film acting program at the university’s Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art.

Jackie Leary-Warsaw, dean of the drama school, is the wife of Michael Warsaw, chairman and CEO of the EWTN Global Catholic Network, Catholic News Agency’s parent network.

Here are two basic requirements Catholics must meet to receive Holy Communion

Adoration to the Blessed Sacrament. / Sidney de Almeida/Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 22, 2022 / 08:24 am (CNA).

The Catholic Church recognizes seven sacraments. Of these, the Eucharist stands apart. St. Thomas Aquinas called it the “Sacrament of Sacraments.”

The Eucharist is the real presence of Jesus Christ, body, blood, soul, and divinity, under the appearance of bread and wine. The Eucharist is also referred to as “Holy Communion.” 

“Communion” comes from the Latin communio, which means “to be in union with.” According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), the Church refers to the Eucharist by this name “because by this sacrament we unite ourselves to Christ, who makes us sharers in his Body and Blood to form a single body” (CCC 1331).

The Church teaches that anyone who receives Jesus in the Eucharist also receives “the pledge of glory with him” (CCC 1419). The Catechism says that participating in the Eucharist “identifies us with his Heart, sustains our strength along the pilgrimage of this life, makes us long for eternal life, and unites us even now to the Church in heaven, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the saints” (CCC 1419).

The Church also teaches that receiving the Eucharist “increases the communicant’s union with the Lord, forgives his venial sins, and preserves him from grave sins, (CCC 1416).”

Receiving the Eucharist can transform one’s spiritual life. That’s why Pope Francis said in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.”

At the same time, the Church draws on the words of Scripture in setting forth requirements for receiving Holy Communion. For as St. Paul tells us, “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” (1 Cor 11:27-28).

The Church teaches that there are two basic requirements Catholics must meet in order to receive Holy Communion worthily.

First, one must be in a state of grace.

To be in a “state of grace” means to be free from mortal sin. As the Catechism states, “Anyone aware of having sinned mortally must not receive communion without having received absolution in the sacrament of penance” (CCC 1415).

What is a mortal sin? The Catechism explains that a mortal sin “destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God's law; it turns man away from God” (CCC 1855).

For a sin to be mortal, or deadly, one must be aware that the act is sinful and conscientiously commit it anyway.

Examples of mortal sins include: murder, adultery, fornication, homosexual acts, theft, abortion, euthanasia, pornography, and taking advantage of the poor. The Church teaches that intentionally skipping Mass on a Sunday or holy day of obligation when one is able to attend also is a mortal sin.

The 1983 Code of Canon Law (CIC) emphasizes this requirement for receiving Holy Communion when it states: “A person who is conscious of a grave sin is not to … receive the body of the Lord without prior sacramental confession unless a grave reason is present and there is no opportunity of confessing; in this case the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible” (CIC 916).

The U.S. bishops, in the document they adopted in November 2021 titled, “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church,” elaborate on this important point.

“To receive the Body and Blood of Christ while in a state of mortal sin represents a contradiction,” the document states. “The person who, by his or her own action, has broken communion with Christ and his Church but receives the Blessed Sacrament, acts incoherently, both claiming and rejecting communion at the same time. It is thus a counter sign, a lie — it expresses a communion that in fact has been broken.”

The bishops' document goes on to say that the sacrament of penance "provides us with the opportunity to recover the gift of sanctifying grace and to be restored to full communion with God and the Church. All the sacrament requires of us as penitents is that we have contrition for our sins, resolve not to sin again, confess our sins, receive sacramental absolution, and do the assigned penance.”

The second requirement for receiving Holy Communion is to observe the Eucharistic fast.

Canon law states, “One who is to receive the most Holy Eucharist is to abstain from any food or drink, with the exception only of water and medicine, for at least the period of one hour before Holy Communion” (CIC 919). 

Elderly people, those who are ill, and their caretakers are excused from the Eucharistic fast (CIC 191 §3). Priests and deacons may not dispense one obligated by the Eucharistic fast unless the bishop has expressly granted such power to them (CIC 89).

UPDATE: These Catholic bishops support Nancy Pelosi ban on Holy Communion

Photo illustration. / Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 21, 2022 / 11:15 am (CNA).

So far only a small minority of U.S. bishops have come out publicly in support of Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone’s May 20 announcement that he is barring Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from receiving Holy Communion in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, her home diocese, until she repudiates her longstanding advocacy of abortion.

There are 194 dioceses and archdioceses in the U.S. Here is a list of those bishops who have spoken in favor of Cordileone’s action, as of May 23. Please send updates, with links to online statements if available, to [email protected]

California

Diocese of Oakland

Diocese of Santa Rosa

Bishop Robert Vasa said on May 20 that he spoke to the pastor of St. Helena Catholic Church in St.Helena, a parish that Pelosi reportedly attends on occasion. 

Vasa said, “I have visited with the pastor at St Helena and informed him that if the Archbishop prohibited someone from receiving Holy Communion then that restriction followed the person and that the pastor was not free to ignore it.”

“The new Canon (1379 §4) makes it clear that providing sacraments to someone prohibited from receiving them [has] its own possible penalties,” he said.

Colorado

Archdiocese of Denver

Illinois

Diocese of Springfield

Kansas

Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann issued the following statement on May 20:

"I applaud Archbishop Cordileone’s patient and persevering efforts to
enlighten Speaker Pelosi about the moral gravity of her extreme efforts to
promote, to advocate and to initiate legislation to enshrine legalized abortion into
federal law. I fully support the both pastoral and courageous actions that
Archbishop Cordileone has now taken in an effort to awaken Speaker Pelosi’s
conscience and at the same time to protect Catholics in the Archdiocese of San
Francisco and throughout the country from being confused by Speaker Pelosi’s
radical support for abortion, while claiming to be a faithful Catholic. I pray that
Speaker Pelosi will have a change of heart."

Nebraska

Diocese of Lincoln

Oklahoma

Archdiocese of Oklahoma City

Oregon

Diocese of Baker

Bishop Liam Cary issued the following statement on May 20:

"Representative Nancy Pelosi proudly combines “devout” practice of Catholic faith in her personal life with high-profile promotion of legalized abortion in her political life. The scandalizing gap between belief and behavior on the part of the Speaker of the House grievously misleads her fellow believers about Catholic teaching on social justice and seriously handicaps Catholic efforts to defend unborn life in the womb. 

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has repeatedly brought these sad facts to Representative Pelosi’s attention and called her to repentance. In response, the Speaker has defiantly doubled down on her uncompromising advocacy for unlimited abortion, thereby proposing herself as an exemplar for Catholic politicians who deliberately distance themselves from the saving clarity of the Gospel of Life. At the same time, in choosing to ally herself actively with abortion’s most extreme proponents, Representative Pelosi has unilaterally broken communion with Archbishop Cordileone and the flock he shepherds. She has withdrawn herself from communion with the Church.  

In a letter to the Speaker on May 19 Archbishop Cordileone acknowledged this sad rupture for what it is and made her aware of its consequences: she is not to present herself for Holy Communion until she publicly renounces her support for abortion, makes a sacramental confession, and receives absolution. These conditions invite Representative Pelosi’s return to Communion and show her the way to do so on the Church’s terms, not her own. May our merciful Lord grant her the grace to accept them. May He strengthen Archbishop Cordileone to walk the path of courage with confidence."

Texas

Diocese of Tyler

Washington State

Diocese of Spokane

Wisconsin

Diocese of Green Bay

Diocese of Madison

Bishop Donald Hying supported Cordileone, saying: “I fully support Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s prudent decision to recognize that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, has persistently taken public positions in support of legal abortion, contrary to her professed Catholic faith, choosing to separate herself from full communion with the Catholic Church, and therefore is not to present herself for the reception of Holy Communion in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.”

Hying said that “Cordileone’s public statement made it clear that this serious measure is ‘purely pastoral, not political’ in a further attempt ‘to help her understand the grave evil she is perpetrating, the scandal she is causing, and the danger to her own soul she is risking…’”

St Petersburg diocesan summit to grow the Church was historic opportunity

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the St. James Chapel at Bethany Center in Lutz, Fla., April 25, 2022. / Diocese of St. Petersburg Office of Communications

St. Petersburg, Fla., May 21, 2022 / 08:00 am (CNA).

Parish and Pastoral Center leaders from across the Diocese of St. Petersburg gathered April 25-27, 2022, for one purpose: growing the Church. The Parish Growth Summit at the Bethany Center provided 32 hours of praying, learning, dreaming and envisioning plans for filling our churches. The theme for the Summit was from Luke 14:23, the Parable of the Great Feast. In this Parable, Jesus speaks of a dinner that was prepared, but those who were invited never showed. The Master then orders the servant to find new people to invite so that “My house may be filled.”

“This event was transformational for me personally. Day-to-day we can fall into the mundane of ministry. But this workshop has reinvigorated my heart, my mind, and my passion for doing ministry and doing it the way Christ has called me,” said Charmaine Carter, Director of Adult Faith Formation, Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle.

Carter felt the call to be more courageous in her ministry and to invite more people to follow Christ. “The Lord spoke to me and said you need to grow in courage and trust that I am going to be with you to accomplish that which I have called you to do,” added Carter.

The Parish Growth Summit was an initiative of Courageously Living the Gospel, the diocesan vision that calls us to proclaim the Gospel, and invite all to encounter the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.

National speakers from Casting Nets Ministries spoke passionately about the seven pillars of effective evangelization: Prayerful, Invitational, Hospitable, Inspirational, Sacramental, Formational and Missionful.

“We have to go outside our comfort zone. Greatness comes from pushing the limit. Our culture is no longer a Christian culture. It’s a hostile culture,” said Chris Stewart, Casting Nets Ministries, when speaking about pillar number four, Inspirational.

“We need more inspirational people to inspire other people, and to love others no matter who they are,” added Stewart.

The speakers also reminded the participants that our greatest Christian vocation is to be disciples who make disciples. Inviting others with a personal invitation, like Jesus did, is essential to this vocation.

“We have lost the art of personal invitation. We need to look another person in the eye. It’s hard to do that because it makes us vulnerable. But our personal invitation means something to someone,” said Stewart.

Chris McBride, Parish Manager of St. Jerome Parish in Largo, led parish representatives through highly detailed, parish-specific reports with demographic information about people living in their mission field, which covers a 20-minute radius from the church. The reports also provided ministry preferences, religious beliefs, communication styles, and other helpful information about those living in the neighborhoods around each parish.

Father Mike Smith, pastor of Corpus Christi Parish in Temple Terrace and certified Dream Manager coach, led the parishes in a visioning session of their Dream Parish — what would the parish look like if God’s “house was filled.”

“We heard repeatedly during the Synod process people’s deep desire for others to develop a close relationship with Christ and His Church.  They expressed concern and disappointment that many are not practicing their faith and hoped that they would come back,” said Dr. Lois Locey, Chancellor for Administration, Diocese of St. Petersburg.

Bishop Gregory Parkes heard this and shares the same concerns.

“Instead of just lamenting, we, as a united diocese, are taking action. The Summit was an opportunity for parishes to partner with other parishes and diocesan ministries to grow forward the church in concrete ways.  We are inspired by the US Bishops’ pastoral letter on stewardship which said, ‘Jesus’ call is urgent. He does not tell people to follow him at some time in the future but here and now—at this moment, in these circumstances. There can be no delay. Go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ For the parishes and Diocese of St. Petersburg, there will be no delay.  We are going to go and proclaim the Kingdom of God and invite others into a deeper relationship with God and others,” added Dr. Locey, who is also an Adjunct Professor at the Center for Church Management at Villanova University.

The Catholic Foundation of the Diocese of St. Petersburg proudly served as Presenting Partner for the Parish Growth Summit. “Thanks to our donors who supported the 2021 Giving Challenge, the Foundation is excited to partner and support this essential work,” shared Meegan Wright, Executive Director of the Catholic Foundation and emcee for the summit. “Based on the enthusiasm and energy created through this summit, we know this is just the beginning of amazing growth for these parishes.”

“This was one of the best diocesan events I have been to. It was educational and it touched my heart. This experience moves me to do more than what I’ve been doing and to overcome my fears. It starts with me. I have to be more prayerful and more formational to be an example to others,” said Kathy Brasseur, Office Manager, St. Scholastica Parish, Lecanto.

Twenty-nine parishes participated in the Parish Growth Summit and most of them brought a pastor and a team of parish leaders that included a combination of staff and volunteers.

“It’s good to be reminded and to get fired back up about evangelization. It reaffirmed my views that evangelization needs to be relational, and it involves walking with small groups of people,” said Father Jonathan Emery, Pastor, St. Matthew Parish, Largo. He attended the Summit with three parishioners.

In addition to the Catholic Foundation of St. Petersburg, the following Catholic organizations supported the Transformational Parish Growth Summit: Rebuilt Parish, Prenger Solutions Group, Catholic Social Media, Diocesan, Mission Pathways, OSV, Flocknote, Faith Catholic, Dynamic Catholic, and Made2Thrive. Music was provided by St. Mary Magdalen Music Ministries in Altamonte Springs.

This article was first published by Gulf Coast Catholic, the publication of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, and is reprinted at Catholic News Agency with permission.