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Posted on 09/15/2021 03:00 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Syracuse, N.Y., Sep 14, 2021 / 19:00 pm (CNA).
A federal court on Tuesday granted a temporary restraining order against a New York state COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which disallowed religious exemptions, after a group of anonymous medical professionals filed suit against the governor and her administration.
Then-governor Andrew Cuomo announced a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all medical workers in the state in August, with a deadline of Sept. 27 to be fully inoculated. The mandate covers staff at hospitals and long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, adult care facilities, and other care settings, and did not include a religious exemption.
The Thomas More Society, a conservative legal group, is representing a group of 17 medical professionals who claim the mandate violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution, and who have chosen to remain anonymous. They are seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent the state from enforcing the mandate.
In the ruling from the US District Court for the Northern District of New York, issued Sept. 14, Judge David Hurd wrote that the New York Department of Health is “barred from interfering in any way with the granting of religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccination going forward.”
The state has until Sept. 22 to respond to the temporary restraining order.
The Thomas More Society says the plaintiffs include doctors, nurses, a medical technician and physician’s liaison, and that they are “now facing termination from employment, loss of hospital admitting privileges, and the destruction of their careers, unless they consent to be vaccinated against their will with vaccines that contradict their sincere religious beliefs.”
Many states have introduced COVID-19 vaccine mandates for healthcare workers and teachers. President Joe Biden announced last week that he had directed the Department of Labor to draft a rule that would require employees at all companies with more than 100 employees to get vaccinated or face weekly testing.
Bishops across the country have issued varying guidance for Catholics wishing to seek conscientious objections to COVID-19 mandates. A few have expressed explicit support for Catholics wishing to seek exemptions; some have said that Catholics may seek exemptions, but must make the case for their own conscience without the involvement of clergy; and some have stated that Catholic teaching lacks a basis to reject vaccination mandates.
All three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the United States have some connection to cell lines derived from fetal tissue likely derived from a baby aborted decades ago. The vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna were tested on the controversial cell lines, while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine used the cell lines both in production and testing.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, echoing guidance from the Vatican, has since stated that all three vaccines approved for use in the United States are “morally acceptable” for use because of their remote connection with abortion, but if one has the ability to choose a vaccine, Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccines should be chosen over Johnson & Johnson’s.
In its December 2020 Note on the morality of using some anti-Covid-19 vaccines, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated that “vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation” and “therefore, it must be voluntary.” Pope Francis has encouraged COVID-19 vaccination, calling it an "act of love."
The bishops of South Dakota and of Colorado have explicitly expressed support for Catholics wishing to seek exemptions, while in contrast, many bishops in California, as well as in Chicago, Seattle, and Philadelphia, have instructed clergy not to assist parishioners seeking religious exemptions from receiving COVID-19 vaccines, stating that there is no basis in Catholic moral teaching for rejecting vaccine mandates on religious grounds.
The Chicago archdiocese, along with the Diocese of El Paso, has introduced its own vaccine mandate for employees.
The five bishops in Wisconsin in late August issued a statement encouraging vaccination against COVID-19, while maintaining that people ought not be forced to accept a COVID vaccine. The bishops added that, in the cases of Catholics conscientiously objecting to receiving a vaccine, clergy should not be intervening on their behalf.
Portland’s Archbishop Alexander Sample and Spokane’s Bishop Thomas Daly have both decreed similar policies, stating that any Catholic seeking an exemption places the burden on the individual’s conscience rather than on Church approval, and thus priests of their dioceses are not allowed to vouch for the conscience of another person in seeking an exemption from a vaccine mandate.
The National Catholic Bioethics Center, a think tank that provides guidance on human dignity in health care and medical research, has been vocal about its opposition to mandatory immunization for COVID-19. While acknowledging that reception of COVID-19 vaccines is morally permissible, the center has maintained support for the rights of Catholics to refuse the vaccines because of conscience-based concerns.
Posted on 09/15/2021 00:19 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 14, 2021 / 16:19 pm (CNA).
Twenty years ago, Father John A. Perricone sat down at his desk in the rectory of St. Agnes Catholic Church in midtown Manhattan and began to write.
“I sit here writing this piece coughing on the fumes of hell,” is how he began.
It was Sept. 14, 2001. Three days earlier, Islamic terrorists crashed two airliners into the World Trade Center, setting off a cataclysmic chain reaction that killed more than 3,000 people and reduced the iconic Twin Towers to a smoldering, toxic pile of rubble.
Then a professor of philosophy at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, Father Perricone lived at St. Agnes, a historic parish located across the street from the Chrysler Building and a half block from Grand Central Terminal.
Like other city residents, and the nation as a whole, he was still struggling to process what had just happened. Others felt compelled to write about the tragic loss of life, or the heroism of first responders.
Father Perricone wrote about evil.
“Though I sit some one hundred blocks from ground zero of Manhattan Island, the winds shift and billows of that smoke of death stretch all the way to my room at St. Agnes rectory — and to every one of you, wherever you sit in this beloved nation of ours, now supine before an Islamic monster,” he wrote.
“For the evil that growls at us now sits on the doorstep of every person in America, and of the world. More importantly, it proves to over-intellectualized Americans that indeed evil exists. It kills. It corrupts. It demands a daily war against it, sometimes even requiring our blood.”
A prolific writer and lecturer, Father Perricone shared his words with friends and others in his social circle. But his reflections weren’t widely read until Saturday, the 20th anniversary of 9/11, when Crisis magazine published his essay, “9/11/01: Hell in Manhattan,” for the first time.
In an interview with CNA Tuesday, Father Perricone said that re-reading his writing 20 years later, he was struck by how mistaken he had been at the time to believe that 9/11 would somehow bring America to its senses about the reality of sin and evil, and the need for God.
“I thought naively … that maybe this jolt, like Pearl Harbor, might help people to see things differently and to shake off some of this grinding secularism that was pulverizing their souls,” he said.
“And I was completely wrong.”
Father Perricone recalled how his noon Mass at St. Agnes that Sept. 11 was packed with people, many of them caked in ash from the towers’ collapse.
The need to pray and the desire for God remained strong for many days and weeks, he said. But it proved ephemeral.
Writing 20 years ago, he observed, “Words like ‘sin,’ ‘Satan,’ ‘saintliness,’ and ‘virtue’ have all been made to sound slightly eccentric by secularism’s totalizing reach. It is no surprise that it has tunneled deep within religion itself. More than a few priests are slightly embarrassed by the vocabulary of religion.”
What was true in 2001 is even more true today, he believes, after two decades marked by a steady loss of faith and ever-rising secularism.
“I never thought our beloved America would worsen, but it has,” Father Perricone told CNA. “I mean, not by degrees, by magnitude.”
“We’re still addicted to that notion that evil is just a psychological syndrome,” he explained, ‘[that] evil is simply not evil, it’s some social mechanism gone wrong.”
That is not now, and has never been, the Catholic worldview, he noted.
Today, Father Perricone resides at Sacred Heart parish in Clifton, New Jersey, and he celebrates the Traditional Latin Mass at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Jersey City.
Many of those who attend his Masses are Catholics in their twenties or thirties with only hazy memories of 9/11. What draws these young adults to the Traditional Latin Mass?
“The absolute certitude of the Catholic faith, the granite-like truth that the Church has preached for 2,000 years and never changed,” he replied. “They’re hungry for that.”
That desire suggests that, deep down, many today still search for answers that secularism can’t provide. But redeeming our culture will take time; there are no “quick fixes,” Father Perricone emphasized.
“We need those great, heroic bishops, like John Chrysostom, and Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory the Great, Leo the Great. At that time, at the dying of the Roman Imperium, they were the superstars. The people were led by their bishops; they adored them. … They looked to them for their strength, and they looked to them for rebuilding.
“And, indeed, Western civilization was rebuilt,” he said.
“We desperately need that today.”
Posted on 09/15/2021 00:01 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., Sep 14, 2021 / 16:01 pm (CNA).
A Catholic democracy advocate was honored in absentia on Tuesday at a Catholic gathering in Washington, D.C., while he remains imprisoned in Hong Kong.
Jimmy Lai, a media entrepreneur and Catholic pro-democracy advocate in Hong Kong, was given the Christifidelis Laici award on Sept. 14 by organizers of the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast. The award is named for Pope John Paul II’s 1988 exhortation on the mission of the laity in the world.
Lai “believed that we are created for truth and that it is our job to speak the truth,” said William McGurn, a member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board who accepted the award on Lai’s behalf on Tuesday. “His publications told the truth about China & Hong Kong.”
“He is a man of extraordinary means, serving ordinary men and women longing for freedom,” said Joseph Cella, a board member of the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast.
Lai has been imprisoned for 10 months in Hong Kong, having long supported the pro-democracy movement there and having cited his Catholic faith in support of his efforts.
An entrepreneur, he founded both Next magazine, a Chinese weekly publication, and Apple Daily, a pro-democracy publication critical of the Chinese mainland government. Apple Daily shut down publication earlier this summer, after its accounts were frozen and top leadership was arrested.
In 1997, he converted to Catholicism and was baptized by the now-retired bishop of Hong Kong, Joseph Cardinal Zen.
Lai's conversion, at the time the United Kingdom handed over sovereignty of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China, was “like a small green shoot breaking through the concrete,” McGurn said of the time.
Hong Kong had previously maintained its own legislature and democratic form of government under the “one country, two systems” agreement, as the U.K. prepared to hand sovereignty of the region to China. However, the Chinese mainland government had sought greater control over Hong Kong in recent years before imposing a sweeping national security law on the region in 2020, bypassing the island’s legislature. The act followed months of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
Under the new law, a person convicted of secession, subversion, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces would receive a minimum of 10 years in prison, with the possibility of a life sentence.
Lai was arrested in August 2020 over his support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, and remained on the island to face his charges. People had urged Lai – who is also a British citizen – to leave Hong Kong before he would be arrested, McGurn noted.
“If you thought that [leaving] was ever a possibility, you don’t know Jimmy Lai,” McGurn said.
Released on bail, he was arrested again later in the year, and was charged in December with breaching the terms of a lease for his company, Next Digital Media.
Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal on Feb. 9 denied Lai bail, but allowed his legal team the possibility of applying again for bail. He has remained in prison for 10 months.
During his prison term, he has applied the Rule of St. Benedict – “ora et labora,” or “prayer and work,” McGurn noted.
“When he’s not reading the classics of the faith,” McGurn said of Lai, “he has a job folding paper into envelopes.” Some fellow prisoners have even been baptized during his term, McGurn said.
“While Jimmy may be stuck in prison, his soul remains free,” he said.
Posted on 09/14/2021 19:01 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., Sep 14, 2021 / 11:01 am (CNA).
True unity comes from God and is not something created by man, the bishop of the Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter stressed at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday in Washington, D.C.
Bishop Steven Lopes, in his Sept. 14 keynote address to the audience of Catholics, said that both Catholics and Americans must be mindful of where unity comes from in order to attain true peace. God revealed Himself to humanity as “a communion of Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” he said.
“The Father who sent his Son, the Word made flesh, and the Holy Spirit to save his people precisely by drawing them into communion with himself,” he said. At Pentecost, Jesus Christ is “made present and active,” he said, and through the baptized, Christ’s mission is carried out.
It is the sacrament of baptism, said Lopes, that “informs and secures all other forms of authentic unity and communication” with Christ.
And it is here where the Church must inform society, he added, particularly in the American vision of “E Pluribus Unum,” or “out of many, one.”
People of faith working in the “civil realm” are the ones that ask “hard and necessary questions about human dignity, the inherent goodness of the created order, the nature of the human person,” said Lopes.
“And without these questions, these annoying questions, political discourse devolves into empty slogans or worse, totalitarian imposition. We’ve seen that again and again.”
Lopes delivered his remarks at the 17th annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, an annual gathering of Catholic clergy, leaders and public officials.
Scripture scholar Jeff Cavins also addressed the prayer breakfast on Tuesday, urging Catholics to integrate the Word of God into their daily lives.
“If we’re going to change America, I truly believe that we have to live as disciples,” Cavins said, urging attendees to fight for their faith. “I would encourage you to fight like the third monkey on the ramp to Noah’s Ark,” he quipped.
The event’s organizers also honored Jimmy Lai, an imprisoned pro-democracy advocate in Hong Kong, with the Christifidelis Laici Award, named after Pope John Paul II’s 1988 exhortation on the mission of the laity in the world.
In his keynote address on unity, Lopes suggested that his own diocese, the Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, is an example of how unity works in the Church and in the world.
In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI created a new diocese in the United States and Canada for former Anglicans wishing to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. There are 40 parishes in the Ordinariate throughout the United States and Canada.
In the Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, or “Anglican Ordinariate,” as is commonly known, Mass is celebrated according to a unique missal, and other Anglican customs are observed.
Lopes said his diocese is proof that unity with the Church does not mean that previous traditions must be abandoned.
“My little diocese exists because unity is not just important, because it is what the Lord himself prayed for on the night before he died,” he said. “So, our experience of bridging this new life in the Catholic Church can perhaps give some insight on how unity and diversity work.”
The bishop explained that “real unity” is “something more than the superficiality of a group of like-minded individuals acting in roughly the same way at approximately the same time.”
Humanity was made to be in union with others, explained the bishop.
“And, the Catholic would add, in baptism, we have received a vocation to make our Lord and God present in the world by manifesting the holiness of God who is One and Three,” he said.
Unity, explained Lopes, is also “magnanimous.”
Again drawing from the example of his diocese, he explained that even those who petitioned the Vatican for what would eventually become the Ordinariate “were surprised by the extent of Pope Benedict’s offer.”
“A diocese with its own way of celebrating Mass is hugely generous and sparked comment in some corners that the Pope was ‘bending over backwards’ to accommodate people who might as well be called apostate,” he said.
“The generosity of the gesture did not accord with a vision of the Church which would say: If you want to be in the Catholic Church, get in line with everyone else.”
This is false, said Lopes. He said that what the pope offered was not simply generosity, it was the “virtue of magnanimity.”
“No less a figure than Abraham Lincoln built his second inaugural address around this same virtue, because he too saw it as the key to national unity,” said Lopes. “Magnanimity is part of the glue that holds communities and societies together and fosters an enrichment of those communities by integrating new people,” both in the Church and in the United States.
“The American idea works because it is not an idea,” he said. “It is a civic virtue, disposition of soul requiring real conversion and real action to embrace the other as good because we embrace the other as an equal.”
“Only then can it be a unifying force, not just a blending of diverse and divergent bodies into exterior uniformity,” said Lopes. Lincoln’s words are engraved on his memorial just a few blocks from here serve as a summons. They are not merely meant as nostalgia.”
Posted on 09/14/2021 18:53 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Denver, Colo., Sep 14, 2021 / 10:53 am (CNA).
Real-life relationships and a “holy curiosity” must be the basis for Catholic-Muslim dialogue, says a Dominican priest whose college discussions with Muslims after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks strengthened his own faith and set him on a path that took him to Egypt for in-depth academic study of Islam.
“American Catholics must avoid the temptation to reduce Muslims to an abstract,” Father Luke Barder, O.P., told CNA Aug. 26. “I think our charity and the teachings of the Church, particularly from John Paul II and the Second Vatican Council, require us to always maintain the dignity of our partner, even if they are of a different faith, and (to see) that their experiences are real.”
Fr. Barder, who was born in Illinois, joined the Dominicans in 2007 after working at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. For several years he lived in Cairo and studied Islamic studies and Arabic studies at the Dominican Institute for Oriental studies, receiving a graduate diploma in Islamic Studies from the American University in Cairo. He is now pastor at St. Dominic Catholic Parish in Denver.
Catholic-Muslim dialogue, he said, often raises the same question.
“The question everybody wants to ask is: is dialogue possible?” said Fr. Barder. He likes to use the answer he heard from a friar in Cairo: “No. Not Yet.”
Dialogue presupposes some common encounter or language, he explained.
“The biggest barrier right now between Christians and Muslims has less to do with religion, and more to do about a lot of other things, whether that’s economic, societal, history, etc., and the perceptions that we have of each other,” said Fr. Barder.
“One of the biggest problems is that we think we know who the other is or what they believe but in reality we have zero idea,” he said. “Before we can have substantive dialogue, we first need substantive encounters with each other. That can take a long time. But we’re doing that work.”
He advised Catholics who discuss religion with Muslims “to have the openness and the curiosity – I would call it a ‘holy curiosity’ –about how people experience life, how they hope, and how their faith informs them.”
“It’s not about a matter of who’s right and wrong, at first,” he said. “Before true dialogue and the issues of who’s right and who’s wrong have to happen, we should really not be afraid to encounter one another.”
Fr. Barder’s freshman year of college marked a turning point for his life and the world. On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda hijacked four planes, attacking the World Trade Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., with three of them. Passengers regained control of the fourth, United Airlines Flight 93, and diverted it from its intended target. The attacks killed nearly 3,000 people and have had a lasting impact on the U.S. and the world. The American responses included the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, with combined death tolls in the hundreds of thousands.
Up until the Sept. 11 attacks, Fr. Barder said, “I knew what my faith was and what Catholicism was but I rarely met a person of another faith. All of a sudden 9-11 drove this question: ‘what is religion and its role in society’?”
Barder, then a student at Purdue University in Indiana, had an academic interest in religion. However, he particularly benefitted from his participation in a group of Christian and Muslim students through Dialogues International.
“I got to meet a lot of Muslims and learn from them,” he said. “I always attribute my encounter with Dialogues International, particularly the Muslims there, as one of the major reasons I started going back to daily Mass and fell in love with daily prayer and a reverence for the divine, as they talked about it. It was a really beautiful encounter.”
Catholics should approach dialogue with Muslims from the perspective “that there is something to be gained or learned from your partner.” Alluding to Nostra aetate, the Second Vatican Council’s declaration on the Church’s relationship to non-Christian religions, Fr. Barder said, “the Catholic Church will not deny any ray of truth wherever it is found, and seeks to be able to realize what is the impulse of faith.”
“There’s so much more to our faith experience than the simple content of the faith,” he said.
Many Catholics do not necessarily hold their faith because of a particular doctrine, according to Fr. Barder.
“We practice our faith because we have had an encounter with Christ and the sacraments. And that allows us to continue to move forward and ‘pushes’ our faith,” he said. “It is the same on the other side. Their experiences of God, prayer on a daily basis, is the ‘push’ of their faith. That is something that we can certainly begin to see, to start with, and not deny that they’ve had encounters with God because they’re not Christian.”
As Fr. Barder learned through his fellow Dominicans’ encounter with a Cairo man, both Muslims and Catholics have misconceptions about each other, sometimes from a very young age.
“We had a good, good friend who, when he first met us, was deathly afraid to come into our priory,” he said. “His friends and his family discouraged him from coming over to the invitation for dinner, because they thought that Christian monks were witch doctors and practiced devil worship. That was a genuine, palpable fear he had of Christians.”
Fr. Barder encouraged Catholics in the U.S. to have self-awareness about their own cultural context and limitations. Religion is always “incarnated” in a people, and one’s own cultural moment, historical background, and formation means a great deal for how one’s religion is expressed.
“We often align ourselves with identity with religion and faith because it is also so tied to culture and our experience and identity and community. But we have to make sure that we don’t confuse the two wholeheartedly, to say that this community, a temporal expression of Catholicism, is the only way that it can be,” he said.
“The Catholic Church is so much more than what we experience in our parish. There is a greater expression of faith and religion that involves the people, place and culture in which it’s in.” Faith can “transcend all of that and find a variety of expressions.”
As a Latin rite Catholic in Cairo, Fr. Barder was a minority even among Egypt’s Catholics, most of whom are Coptic. For their part, Egyptian Muslims mainly encounter Coptic Orthodox Christians, and this forms how they think of Christianity.
“Muslim expression is as diverse as Catholic expression,” said the Dominican priest. “What we say of Saudi Arabia is not the same thing at all that we would say of Iraq.” In addition to the regional diversity, Islam is split between Sunni and Shia branches.
“We too quickly and easily equate Islam with the Middle East,” he added, noting that the most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia, is in southeast Asia. At the same time, even in the Middle East Islam is going through a unique expression based on the last 50 to 100 years of its history.
“There are many more people of good will than not, and I truly encountered that in Egypt, living among the Muslim population,” said Fr. Barder. “The goodwill that they expressed and offered to me, and the goodwill that the Dominicans there and the Christian community there has offered to their neighbors have been quite impressive. There is a virtue that I encountered there that inspired me to go deeper in my own faith and rely on God even more.”
For Fr. Barder, both the Catholic and Muslim religions impel their adherents to “encounter and encourage the true charity which is inherent in every single human being, because we are created in God’s image.” They also seek to identify reasons “why people lose good will.”
He also acknowledged negative trends. There is a “minority voice” that makes the most notice and even has “the biggest destructive impact.”
“What we have found is that not everybody is of good will,” said Fr. Barder. “In some very dramatic and public ways like the terrorist attacks, the lack of good will towards one’s neighbor, and even our reaction to it at times, has not always been demonstrative of good will.”
Mohamed Atta, considered the ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks, was from Egypt, though most hijackers were of Saudi Arabian nationality. Atta and several of his collaborators, however, had spent years in Germany and it was there that Atta began to pursue a strict version of Islam and seek out links with al-Qaeda.
Fr. Barder said any discussion of Atta was beyond his expertise, but he noted that some Muslims who commit terrorist acts in Europe were raised in immigrant enclaves there. He worried that the experience of some Muslims living in areas without a large Muslim community can make them feel rejected or lacking in “a sense of dignity or place and identity” that can feed extremism.
Concrete local engagement between Catholics and Muslims is also possible, said Fr. Barder.
“Go and see,” he said. “On a local level organize a group of parishioners and make a visit to a mosque. Invite a Muslim leader or a group to come and speak to you. Everybody loves food. Make a meal. Go and observe. Welcome them to come in.”
He encouraged discussion questions and topics like “what impels your faith? What do you believe? tell me the story of your faith, how it helps you through your day. What are your biggest worries in life?”
“That’s the beginning on a local level,” said Fr. Barder. “For us to be able to foster dialogue, it will only be able to happen on a foundation of mutual respect and friendship.”
Unvaccinated clergy in Lexington, Kentucky barred from ministering to the sick and homebound elderly
Posted on 09/14/2021 16:10 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 14, 2021 / 08:10 am (CNA).
Priests of the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 may not minister to the sick, elderly, and homebound, Bishop John Stowe has directed.
The policy was announced during a Saturday vigil Mass Sept. 11 that Bishop Stowe celebrated at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Lexington.
At the end of the liturgy, Deacon Tim Weinmann read a statement from the cathedral’s rector, Father John Moriarty, that both Fr. Moriarty and Father David Wheeler, the parochial vicar, have not been vaccinated.
“The bishop has asked that Fr. David and I, Fr. John – I’m speaking for Fr. John – make an announcement that we are not vaccinated, so people can decide if they wanted to attend Mass where they were celebrating,” the deacon read, according to a video of the Mass posted by the Cathedral of Christ the King.
“And if also the priests – and this has been done throughout the diocese – those priests that are not vaccinated are to follow the COVID protocol in the liturgy, and they are not allowed to visit the sick or elderly that are homebound,” the announcement continued. “Fr. John and Fr. David, again, have not been vaccinated.” Bishop Stowe stood beside Deacon Weinmann while the announcement was read but did not comment afterward.
You can watch the announcement in the video below, at the 1:07 mark.
It is not clear from the announcement Saturday whether other priests in the diocese must publicly disclose that they have not received a COVID-19 vaccination. A spokesperson for the diocese was not immediately available for comment Tuesday.
Trish Collier, a parishioner in the diocese, attended one of the weekend Masses at the Cathedral when the announcement was again made about Moriarty's and Wheeler's vaccination status.
"I couldn't believe it," Collier told CNA in a phone call on Tuesday. "I think everybody around us was surprised. The only thing that brought me some comfort for them was the fact that when he [Fr. John Moriarty] said, 'so I'm here to say that I am not vaccinated.'"
Collier said that, after Moriarty's announcement, "there were several people who started to clap and one fella yelled out, 'good for you. Stay strong.' And I know that helped him [Fr. John]."
On. Aug. 17 Bishop Stowe mandated that all employees of the Catholic Center, the diocese’s administrative headquarters, be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 1 as a condition of employment.
“This is an urgent matter of public health and safety,” Bishop Stowe said in a statement detailing the Aug. 17 mandate.
“There is no religious exemption for Catholics to being vaccinated, and Pope Francis has repeatedly called this a moral obligation,” he said.
“The health care system is now overwhelmed by a crisis caused primarily by those who refuse to protect themselves and others by getting vaccinated. This is unacceptable, and our diocese now joins those employers who have already made this basic commitment to the common good a requirement.”
The mandate does not apply to clergy not working at the Catholic Center, though Bishop Stowe has encouraged pastors to adopt the same policy in their parishes. In an interview Aug. 17 with America magazine, the bishop said the interests of "the common good" made the mandate necessary.
“We have to be promoting the common good, and this is the one of the ways that we do it,” Bishop Stowe told the magazine. “And the individual reasons for not accepting [vaccinations]—the conspiracy theories and all the other stuff that keeps people from getting the vaccine and even the confusion that’s been put forth by many Catholic sources — is just not a good enough reason to not accept the vaccine for the common good.”
Video footage of the announcement at Saturday's Mass touched off a heated debate on social media. Critics of the policy said it violates the privacy rights of clergy and is insensitive to the rights of the seriously ill to receive the sacraments.
"This unfortunately is my bishop and I attended the Mass where this was announced," one commentator posted on Instagram. "It was a complete public shaming and absolutely a violation of privacy!"
Others, however, applauded the move, saying it was justified in light of the pandemic's threat to public health.
"You get the vaccine to protect and care for others, as Jesus taught us, so that you greatly reduce the risk of contracting the virus and passing it to those who will suffer horribly," another commentator wrote on Twitter. "Some will die. God sent us this miracle of science."
You get the vaccine FOR OTHERS. You get the vaccine to protect and care for others, as Jesus taught us, so that you greatly reduce the risk of contracting the virus and passing it to those who will suffer horribly. Some will die. God sent us this miracle of science.— Edward Michael (@EEveld) September 13, 2021
Others argued that the diocese's policy prohibiting unvaccinated clergy from ministering to the sick, elderly, homebound is consistent with guidance provided by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).
"Those who, however, for reasons of conscience, refuse vaccines produced with cell lines from aborted fetuses, must do their utmost to avoid, by other prophylactic means and appropriate behavior, becoming vehicles for the transmission of the infectious agent," the CDF statement reads. "In particular, they must avoid any risk to the health of those who cannot be vaccinated for medical or other reasons, and who are the most vulnerable."
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced Monday that Kentucky currently ranks third in the nation for the highest number of new daily COVID-19 cases per capita, with a seven-day average of approximately 90 new cases reported per 100,000 people.
This article has been updated with additional information on Sept. 15.
Posted on 09/14/2021 02:00 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Los Angeles, Calif., Sep 13, 2021 / 18:00 pm (CNA).
Misinformation and deliberate disinformation continue to surround the memory of St. Junípero Serra, the Apostle of California.
Most recently, the California legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill that essentially declares Serra to be a kind of moral monster: “Enslavement of both adults and children, mutilation, genocide, and assault on women were all part of the mission period initiated and overseen by Father Serra.”
Assembly Bill 338, which passed 66–2 in the Assembly and 28–2 in the Senate, has been sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom. It repeats the unsubstantiated allegations found in online petitions and other misinformation spread last summer by Black Lives Matter and other activist groups to justify vandalizing statues of the saint in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and at the Capitol in Sacramento.
The legislature’s claims are a “slander” against Serra and push a “false narrative” about the missions, say Archbishop José H. Gomez and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco in a new opinion essay published in the Wall Street Journal. “None of that is true,” they write. “While there is much to criticize from this period, no serious historian has ever made such outrageous claims about Serra or the mission system.”
Pope Francis canonized St. Junípero Serra personally in Washington, D.C. on September 23, 2015, the first-ever canonization on American soil.
It is rare for popes to celebrate canonizations outside of Rome. But Francis, an immigrant’s son and the first pontiff from the New World, emphasized Serra’s holiness, his historic significance as America’s first Hispanic saint, and called him “one of the founding fathers of the United States.”
Prior to the canonization, Pope Francis took part in a day-long symposium hosted by the Pontifical North American College and organized by the Knights of Columbus, that included presentations by Archbishop Gomez and top scholars from the United States.
St. Pope John Paul II, who beatified Serra in 1988, prayed at his tomb at Mission San Carlos Borroméo in Carmel, and praised his “heroic spirit and heroic deeds,” and called him a “defender and champion” of the indigenous Californians.
“Very often at crucial moments in human affairs,” the pope said, “God raises up men and women whom he thrusts into roles of decisive importance for the future development of both society and the Church. … So it is with Junípero Serra, who in the providence of God was destined to be the Apostle of California, and to have a permanent influence over the spiritual patrimony of this land and its people, whatever their religion might be.”
The best biographers of Serra and historians of California’s early history are Robert Senkewicz, Professor of History Emeritus at Santa Clara University and his wife, Rose Marie Beebe, Professor of Spanish Emerita at Santa Clara University.
Their book, “Junípero Serra: California, Indians, and the Transformation of a Missionary,” is the definitive academic study and includes original translations of Serra’s letters.
Beebe and Senkewicz were featured participants in the symposium on the legacy of St. Junípero Serra hosted by Pontifical North American College May 2, 2015.
The leading archeologist of the California missions is Rubén Mendoza, Professor of Archaeology and Social and Behavioral Sciences at the California State University, Monterey Bay. Mendoza, a Yaqui Indian and Mexican American, is a prolific author and has spoken movingly about his “conversion” on Serra, based on his academic research at the missions.
Mendoza discovered the so-called “Serra chapels” at the Royal Presidio of Monterey in 2008, the rectangular adobe buildings located directly in front of the present San Carlos Cathedral, built in the early 1790s. The Serra chapels mark the spot where, in 1770, St. Junípero celebrated the earliest Mass in a church on the California coast.
In addition, Mendoza’s research has discovered that Mission San Juan Bautista and at least 12 of the California missions were designed according to an ancient practice of enabling the sun to illuminate specific areas of the sanctuary during the winter or summer solstice.
Mendoza was a featured participant in the symposium on the legacy of St. Junípero Serra hosted by Pontifical North American College May 2, 2015.
Gregory Orfalea, a noted journalist and essayist, has written a fine biography, Journey to the Sun: Junipero Serra's Dream and the Founding of California, and an excellent book for students and families, Junipero Serra and the California Missions: A Family Guide.
A version of this article first appeared at Angelus News. It has been adapted and reprinted with permission.
Posted on 09/14/2021 00:01 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Denver Newsroom, Sep 13, 2021 / 16:01 pm (CNA).
There have been at least 95 reported incidents of vandalism of Catholic churches across the United States since May 2020, according to a report by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty.
Incidents include arson, the destruction of statues, and the defacement of church buildings and gravestones with swastikas and anti-Catholic language.
“Whether those who committed these acts were troubled individuals crying out for help or agents of hate seeking to intimidate, the attacks are signs of a society in need of healing,” Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Maimi, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Religious Liberty, and Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, wrote in a July 2020 statement.
“In those incidents where human actions are clear, the motives still are not. As we strain to understand the destruction of these holy symbols of selfless love and devotion, we pray for any who have caused it, and we remain vigilant against more of it,” the bishops wrote.
The latest incident included in the report took place Sept. 5. Vandals graffitied a door and two signs at a Catholic church in Louisville, Colo., about 20 miles northwest of Denver.
Incidents occurred across 29 states.
The report referenced 12 incidents in California since May 2020, including the defacement and removal of a statue of St. Junipero Serra in October 2020, and arson in July 2020 that destroyed parts of a 249-year old mission church in San Gabriel.
The report also cited 14 incidents in New York, including anti-Catholic and anti-police graffiti on the exterior of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in January.
In some cases, dioceses have requested increased security following vandalism.
The Diocese of Brooklyn requested increased police presence in May, after two incidents of vandalism at church properties in three days. A statue depicting the Blessed Mother holding the infant Jesus was discovered vandalized outside the diocesan administrative offices, with Christ decapitated. A crucifix display outside a parish was also found toppled over, with an American flag outside the rectory burned. Both incidents were investigated as potential hate crimes.
“We are definitely concerned that there is a pattern of hate crimes against Catholics,” said Msgr. Anthony Hernandez, the moderator of the curia for the diocese, in a statement following the attacks.
“Our nation finds itself in an extraordinary hour of cultural conflict,” Archbishops Wenski and Coakley wrote.
“The path forward must be through the compassion and understanding practiced and taught by Jesus and his Holy Mother. Let us contemplate, rather than destroy, images of these examples of God’s love. Following the example of Our Lord, we respond to confusion with understanding and to hatred with love.”
‘A willingness to start with ‘yes’’: How one Catholic school graduated its first student with Down syndrome
Posted on 09/13/2021 23:01 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., Sep 13, 2021 / 15:01 pm (CNA).
Tears flowed down the faces of Abigail “Abby” Agudelo’s classmates, as earlier this year she became the first student with Down syndrome to graduate from St. Augustine’s School in Andover, Massachusetts.
“We know other parochial schools in Massachusetts are striving to do the same today,” Abby’s mother, Wendy Agudelo, told CNA in an interview in August. “And because of Abby’s experience, other families who desire a Catholic school education for all of their children, including those containing a family member with special needs, are now looking at parochial school education as opportunistic.”
Because of her own mother’s strong Catholic faith, Wendy Agudelo had always wanted a Catholic education for all of her children. She also hoped Abby would have an academic path with “full inclusion,” and would not be placed in a classroom separate from other students.
After Abby’s time in public preschool, however, her mother was not certain of a combination of Catholic education and full classroom inclusion.
“We noticed a divide between what we wanted for Abigail and what the school felt she should receive given her diagnosis,” she said in an email to CNA.
It was during Agudelo’s search for a school that then-St. Augustine principal Paula O’Dea and pastor Fr. Peter Gori O.S.A. stepped into the breach, and decided that St. Augustine’s would accommodate Abby's needs.
“When Abby and her wonderful parents first made their inquiry to us at St. Augustine School about enrolling, the principal and I were concerned that we might not have available all that Abby would need for a successful experience,” Gori told CNA in an email. “We and Abby's parents all agreed to give it a try and that there would be no hard feelings if things didn't work out.”
Gori said that Abby’s parents were “right all along” in believing that Abby would thrive at St. Augustine’s. “We received from her as much or more than she did from us,” Gori said. “It was a delight and a blessing every day and every year to have Abby at St. Augustine School.”
Wendy Agudelo told CNA that, in general, parochial schools may not have a significant amount of resources. She noted organizations that exist to educate and support parochial schools interested in broadening their demographics. She named the National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion and the FIRE Foundation as a few examples of these groups.
“Not every parochial school, or administrator for that matter, is interested in this path,” Wendy Agudelo said. “It comes with its set of challenges, but also great reward.”
She said that those who choose the path that St. Augustine’s School chose “ultimately earn the greatest return on investment.”
“Nine years ago,” Paula O’Dea told CNA, “we didn't have any teachers with a moderate disabilities certification. Now, we have a lot of teachers with that as their second degree, and we'll have two full-time special ed teachers on site.” O’Dea is currently admissions director for St. Augustine’s.
O’Dea, who was the school’s principal at the time of Abby’s entrance, believes that St. Augustine’s was the only elementary school in the Archdiocese of Boston to accept a student with Down syndrome.
She told CNA that in Abby’s time at public school, her parents observed her in the corner of the classroom with a special education teacher, “not really being included in anything in the classroom.”
When Abby first arrived at the school, O’Dea said the school decided that, in order to properly live out its Catholic mission, it needed to find ways to support any student who wanted to attend.
The school partnered with local Merrimack College to hire a student studying moderate disabilities as a subsidized, full-time teacher to support Abby. O’Dea said the school’s decision was a success, because it was affordable and effective for Abby. St. Augustine continues to have a “Merrimack Fellow” today.
O’Dea said that hiring the Merrimack Fellow was “a very small investment financially for us to have such a great outcome in the end.” She says she would recommend it as an alternative to hiring a full-time special education teacher for the classroom.
Abby’s parents said that they stood “shoulder to shoulder” with the administration and staff throughout Abby’s schooling. They encouraged teachers at every grade level to gain more professional development and experience with special needs through local conferences and workshops.
While working full time, both of Abby’s parents spent much of their time at St. Augustine’s volunteering at Kindergarten centers, the lunchroom, as a chaperone on numerous field trips, and as active guild members helping to run events and fundraisers.
Wendy Agudelo said that partnering and collaborating with the school “every step of the way” bore amazing results.
“In my opinion,” Agudelo said, “it’s not about available resources as much as it is a willingness to start with ‘yes’ and work together towards a shared goal.”
“We’re not alone and believe that the more families know, the more armed with opportunity they become,” she said. “We’re very, very fortunate to have found such great academic partners for our children, but pepper in some serious faith and a sprinkling of compassion, and nothing is impossible!”
“Abby’s achievement is very impressive,” said Thomas Carroll, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Boston, to CNA. “But the biggest impact is the effect she had on the entire school community. They all were blessed to have her as a classmate or student.”
Posted on 09/13/2021 20:04 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., Sep 13, 2021 / 12:04 pm (CNA).
A California bill to replace a statue of St. Junipero Serra at the state capitol unfairly slanders the saint’s legacy, two archbishops claimed in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Sunday, Sept. 12.
Last month, California lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to pass Assembly Bill 338, which would replace the statue of St. Junipero Serra at the state capitol with one honoring local Indigenous populations. The bill text claims that Serra and his missions were responsible for a host of atrocities against native peoples.
Serra was canonized by Pope Francis in 2015, becoming the first saint to be canonized on American soil. A Franciscan friar from Spain, he left a prestigious university chair in Majorca for what is now the United States in 1749, founding a system of missions to evangelize the Indigenous in modern-day California. He celebrated more than 6,000 baptisms and 5,000 confirmations.
The bill text states that “[Indigenous] history and contributions have been relatively ignored, written with great discrepancies and false mythologies.”
“One of the greatest gaps between history and reality has been the retelling of the mission period in Native American history and the role of Franciscan friar Junípero Serra,” the bill states, claiming that Serra oversaw the mission system which included “Enslavement of both adults and children, mutilation, genocide, and assault on women.”
These claims about Serra are false, said Archbishops Jose Gomez of Los Angeles and Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, in their op-ed.
“While there is much to criticize from this period, no serious historian has ever made such outrageous claims about Serra or the mission system, the network of 21 communities that Franciscans established along the California coast to evangelize native people,” they wrote.
The archbishops wrote that the lawmakers drew from “a single tendentious book written by journalist Elias Castillo.” That book, “A Cross of Thorns: The Enslavement of California’s Indians by the Spanish Missions,” is cited in the bill as “a more accurate and complete account of the period.”
“As leaders of the state’s two largest Catholic communities, we serve thousands of native Californians who trace their faith to ancestors who helped build the missions,” they said. “We understand the bitter history of native exploitation. But history can be complicated and facts matter.”
The archbishops described Serra as a “complex character,” but one who “defended indigenous people’s humanity, decried the abuse of indigenous women, and argued against imposing the death penalty on natives who had burned down a mission and murdered one of his friends.”
Serra, the archbishops noted, traveled 2,000 miles to Mexico City when he was aged and infirm “to demand that authorities adopt a native bill of rights he had written.”
“Mr. Newsom knows California history well enough to see that the claims against Serra aren’t true,” they said. “In 2019 he apologized for the state’s history of injustice against native people, acknowledging that it was California’s first governor, Peter Burnett, who launched what Burnett called ‘a war of extermination.’”
That “war of extermination,” the archbishops pointed out, began more than 60 years after Serra had died.
“The destruction of the state’s native people happened long after he was gone and many of the missions had been taken over by the government,” they said.
The statue of St. Junipero Serra was toppled by protesters in June 2020, and has since been in a storage area. Instead of replacing the statue, however, the archbishops proposed adding an additional statue at the capitol to honor the state’s Indigenous populations.
“How we choose to remember the past shapes the people we hope to be in the future,” they said. “We can think of no better symbol for this multiethnic state committed to human dignity and equality than to place two statues at the California Capitol—one celebrating the living heritage of California’s indigenous peoples, another reflecting the faith and leadership of their defender St. Junípero Serra.”