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  • Trump expected to refile paperwork soon in his effort to end DACA

    IMAGE: CNS photo/Carlos Barria, Reuters

    By Carol Zimmermann

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- President Donald Trump is expected to refile paperwork during the second week of July to end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, following the Supreme Court ruling that his administration went about trying to end the program the wrong way.

    The Hill, a political news outlet, reported July 6 the president's upcoming action had been expected the previous week and currently "the exact timing remains in flux."

    The day after the court's June 18 DACA ruling, the president vowed to do something about it and tweeted he would submit "enhanced papers" to comply with requirements to end DACA. "Nothing was lost or won," he said about the decision, saying the court had punted on it and the administration would just try again.

    The issue before the court was Trump's 2017 executive order to end the Obama-era program that had enabled 700,000 qualifying young people, brought to the U.S. as children by their parents without legal documentation, to work, go to college and get health insurance -- and not face deportation.

    President Barack Obama established DACA by executive order in 2012.

    The court's combined decision on three separate appellate court rulings that blocked Trump's order stop DACA basically left the program in place -- protecting recipients from deportation and enabling them to still receive benefits such as work authorization -- while emphasizing the president went about rescinding the program in the wrong way.

    Catholic leaders who work on immigration issues right away predicted Trump would continue his efforts to end DACA, starting with refiling the paperwork to do so in a way that complied with the high court's requirements.

    The process will "likely immediately be mired in litigation," said Ashley Feasley, director of policy for Migration and Refugee Services for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

    Ilisa Mira, an attorney in the Oakland, California, office of Catholic Legal Immigration Network, or CLINIC, similarly said Trump could issue a new memo that she said would satisfy what the court was looking for but would "bring up more litigation."

    Another possible path, she said, would be for the Department of Homeland Security to issue a regulation affecting the program that would need a notice and comment period and could take months to complete.

    The Supreme Court's majority opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, said the government failed to give acceptable reasons for ending DACA and that Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, in her efforts to dismantle the program three years ago, didn't use all options to limit the program and didn't consider the program's importance to its participants.

    "Here the agency failed to consider the conspicuous issues of whether to retain forbearance and what if anything to do about the hardship to DACA recipients," the opinion said. "That dual failure raises doubts about whether the agency appreciated the scope of its discretion or exercised that discretion in a reasonable manner. The appropriate recourse is therefore to remand to DHS so that it may consider the problem anew."

    While waiting to see what the president does, immigration advocates, like Feasley and Mira, are urging DACA supporters to push the Senate for legislation that would give DACA recipients, known as Dreamers, and those with Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, a path toward citizenship.

    "We can't let the Senate get a pass," Feasley said in a June 19 webinar sponsored by the USCCB's Justice for Immigrants campaign.

    When asked if the issue could wait until after the November elections, Feasley was adamant it could not, "especially if the president is doubling down; it really is time," she said.

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    Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim


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CNS News Briefs

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  • Faith leaders urge president, attorney general to halt federal executions

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Over 1,000 religious leaders have signed a joint statement urging President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr to stop the executions scheduled to take place in July and August at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. "As faith leaders from a diverse range of traditions, we call on President Trump and Attorney General Barr to stop the scheduled federal executions," the group said in the statement released July 7. "As our country grapples with the COVID 19 pandemic, an economic crisis, and systemic racism in the criminal legal system, we should be focused on protecting and preserving life, not carrying out executions." The four men scheduled to be executed are: Daniel Lee on July 13; Wesley Purkey on July 15; Dustin Honken on July 17; and Keith Nelson on Aug. 28. The men were convicted of killing children in separate crimes. Among the Catholic leaders signing on to the statement were: Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky; Bishop William F. Medley of Owensboro, Kentucky; retired Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, who is apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois; Bishop Oscar A. Solis of Salt Lake City; Bishop Thomas R. Zinkula of Davenport, Iowa; and Jesuit Father Gregory Boyle, director of Homeboy Industries.

    Bishops decry 'sin of racism' as country celebrates Independence Day

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Drawing from the example of the late Sister Thea Bowman, the only African American member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, and the U.S. bishops' 2018 pastoral letter on racism, the two bishops of Mississippi denounced racism as "a plague among us." "It is an evil and a force of destruction that eats away at the soul of our nation," Bishop Louis F. Kihneman III of Biloxi and Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz of Jackson said of racism in a statement released July 4. "Ultimately, it is a moral problem that requires a moral remedy -- a transformation of the human heart -- and compels us to act." The statement was among of a series of reflections and comments on racism by bishops, dioceses and organizations centered on the Independence Day holiday. The Mississippi bishops said Sister Thea offered a prophetic life of service to overcome racism in their state and took her message nationwide in an effort to "break down racial and cultural barriers." Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami said in a homily during a July 5 "Mass for Unity Against Racism" that the "promissory note of liberty and justice for all," as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. might describe the Declaration of Independence, "is not yet fully redeemed" for some Americans.

    Chinese politician known as strongman to implement Hong Kong security law

    HONG KONG (CNS) -- A senior Chinese politician who crushed a mainland democracy movement has been appointed to oversee the implementation of the controversial national security law in Hong Kong, reported On July 3 Zheng Yanxiong took charge of the office to implement the law that bans subversive and secessionist actions in the former British colony. Zheng is a former mayor and Communist Party secretary of Guangdong province, bordering Hong Kong. Chan Lok-shun, an officer of the Justice and Peace Commission of Hong Kong Diocese, told July 7 that the latest appointment is a sequel to the selections of two other politicians who proved to be "tough" in handling situations. "It shows China's determination to handle Hong Kong with an iron fist," said Chan. Bypassing laws in Hong Kong, Zheng will report directly to the Chinese Communist Party. His office can handle cases as it sees fit. Suspects could be sent to face trial in mainland Chinese courts. His powers include the authority to give advice, which under the Communist Party setup must be heeded without exception.

    New report says Iraqi Christians could face extinction

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Without immediate action from the international community, Christians in northern Iraq could be endangered with extinction, warns a new report from the pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need. The report, "Life after ISIS: New Challenges for Christianity in Iraq," is based on a survey of Christians in the liberated Ninevah Plains. With anticipated emigration, ACN says the region's Christian population could plummet to 23,000 within four years. That is a reduction of 80% from the months before the 2014 Islamic State invasion and would move the Christian community from the category of "vulnerable" to the critical category of "endangered with extinction," the report states. "The international community must take immediate and decisive action to tackle the problems which are threatening the continuing Christian presence in Iraq," said Edward Clancy, director of outreach for Aid to the Church in Need-USA. "It is more important than ever that world leaders work together to prevent Christian numbers falling further in Iraq." ACN's survey indicates that security and political reasons remain the primary driver of emigration.

    Trump expected to refile paperwork soon in his effort to end DACA

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- President Donald Trump is expected to refile paperwork during the second week of July to end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, following the Supreme Court ruling that his administration went about trying to end the program the wrong way. The Hill, a political news outlet, reported July 6 that the president's upcoming action had been expected the previous week and currently "the exact timing remains in flux." The day after the court's June 18 DACA ruling, the president vowed to do something about it and tweeted that he would submit "enhanced papers" to comply with requirements to end DACA. "Nothing was lost or won," he said about the decision, saying the court had punted on it and the administration would just try again. The issue before the court was Trump's 2017 executive order to end the Obama-era program that had enabled 700,000 qualifying young people, brought to the U.S. as children by their parents without legal documentation, to work, go to college and get health insurance -- and not face deportation. President Barack Obama established DACA by executive order in 2012.

    Capital punishment, immigration issues compel Iowa bishops to speak up

    DAVENPORT, Iowa (CNS) -- Iowa's Catholic bishops are taking a prominent stand on three pressing federal issues, one involving the imminent execution of four federal death-row inmates, another on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, and the third on the asylum system. In a July 1 letter to President Donald Trump, the bishops of Iowa's four dioceses requested clemency for Dustin Lee Honken and three other men facing capital punishment in the coming weeks, Daniel Lewis Lee, Wesley Ira Purkey and Keith Dwayne Nelson. Honken, of Iowa, was convicted in 2004 "of the horrific acts of killing five people, including two children" and is scheduled to be executed July 17. Iowa's bishops affirm "a special need to offer sympathy and support for the victims of violent crime and their families. "We sincerely hope and pray for their consolation and healing. ... It is our concern that the death penalty contributes to a growing disrespect for the sacredness of all human life." The letter is signed by Archbishop Michael O. Jackels of Dubuque and Bishops Thomas R. Zinkula of Davenport, R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City and William M. Joensen of Des Moines. In a statement released July 6, Iowa's bishops expressed concern on many issues, but focused on two specifically, DACA and the U.S. asylum system. They called on the House and Senate and Trump to continue the DACA program and also said they oppose the administration's "effort to essentially abolish the current asylum system."

    Catholic U. class shows how architectural workspace affects mental health

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Robin Puttock gave the students in her architecture class at The Catholic University of America in Washington an unusual assignment -- to consider how the design of a workspace affects mental health. "We had been looking into how the building affects your well-being and how your brain reads the room," said Brianna Booth, a student of Puttock's class in neuroarchitecture for well-being. "Being stuck in a same room, how does your brain react? It was an interesting task." Puttock, a visiting assistant professor at The Catholic University of America, changed the final for her class from a written paper to a more interactive case study that analyzed the effects of your workspace on your mental health. Her came from reading the story of Jonas Salk, the scientist who discovered the polio vaccine, and how he was inspired by a 13th-century Franciscan monastery. Jonas Salk researching at the University of Pittsburgh in search for the cure, but he found himself stuck. He decided to take a retreat at a Franciscan monastery at the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Italy. Salk found inspiration through the Romanesque and Gothic architecture style of the monastery and attributed his breakthrough discovery to the intuitive thinking he had there. Puttock thought it was appropriate to get her class to apply the same concepts to our current time during a pandemic

    What Father Tolton might say about today's racial injustices

    CHICAGO (CNS) -- Father Augustus Tolton, the first identified Black priest ordained for the United States, would likely be disappointed by what he sees going on in the United States today, said Father David Jones, pastor of St. Benedict the African Parish in Chicago. "I think 'disappointed' is a key word. I think people can understand that and it helps to tie into the frustration that Black people are feeling and always experiencing." Father Jones said. The Archdiocese of Chicago opened Father Tolton's cause for canonization in 2010, and Pope Francis declared him "venerable" in June 2019, after a theological commission has unanimously recognized his "virtuous and heroic life." Two steps of the process remain -- beatification and canonization. In general each step requires confirmation of a miracle attributed to the sainthood candidate's intercession. As the first Black priest ordained for the United States, Father Tolton struggled against rampant racism in the years following the Civil War but was known for bringing people of all races together. For that, he was persecuted by his brother priests and people in the white community of Quincy, Illinois. In many ways, the unity Father Tolton worked for is still out of reach in the church and society, Father Jones told the Chicago Catholic, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

    Vatican task force calls for an end to arms production

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Human health, peace, security and progress would be better served with a complete end to the production of weapons worldwide, said members of a Vatican task force. "Now, more than ever, is the time for nations of the world to shift from national security by military means to human security as the primary concern of policy and international relations," Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, said at a Vatican news conference July 7. Cardinal Turkson also heads a COVID-19 response commission Pope Francis created in April to analyze the many challenges the world is facing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and to come up with proposed guidelines and strategies for addressing the many crises. The pandemic and the many emergency measures in place have sparked a number of problems in some parts of the world, the cardinal said; for example, there is an upsurge in domestic violence, police or military brutality in enforcing lockdowns, "adventurists" taking advantage of social or global disruptions to embark on a new war or seize territories; and the disruption of elections, which could worsen tensions.

    Focolare member in Colombia pays it forward by helping fellow migrants

    TOCANCIPA, Colombia (CNS) -- When Alba Rada arrived in Colombia, members of the Focolare movement gave her a warm welcome, got her kids in school and helped her with housing until she found a place to rent. Now the 44-year-old Venezuelan immigrant replicates that kindness through a nonprofit that is helping more than 200 Venezuelans who live in Tocancipa -- and many more who pass through a highway that crosses the town. "We know what it's like to go through tough times and face an uncertain future," said Rada, who arrived in Colombia six years ago. "So we like coming out here to provide material and emotional support," she said, as she handed out hot meals to a group of migrants that had been on the road for days. Thousands of people have lost their jobs in Colombia as the government imposed a national lockdown to slow down the virus. In Tocancipa and the surrounding area, Rada's nonprofit has provided food packages to more than 200 families that have lost their income during the pandemic.

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  • As cases of virus spike in Arizona, Tucson bishop suspends public worship

    TUCSON, Ariz. (CNS) -- Tucson Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger announced July 1 that state health officials have "strongly recommended" the suspension of public worship and that he agrees the recommendation is a wise course of action. "Along with many of you, I too have been carefully following the pandemic's growth here in Arizona," he said in a statement to the faithful of the diocese. "The spike in cases has caused a tremendous stress for our hospitals and the rate of saturation within the general population appears to be moving upward at a serious pace." As of July 1, he said, "our parishes will no longer be open to the public." "My hope is that this suspension will be brief, but we owe it to our health care workers -- along with the most vulnerable among us -- to take this temporary step," Bishop Weisenburger explained. "At this time we're returning to the protocols we were following just prior to the reopening of our parishes." The Arizona Republic daily newspaper reported July 6 that confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Arizona had passed 100,000 that day, "just over five months since the first case was identified in Maricopa County in late January and just over two weeks since the case count passed 50,000."

    Don't turn away from suffering on border, urges Sister Norma Pimentel

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In an opinion piece in The Washington Post daily newspaper, Sister Norma Pimentel, known for her work with migrants on the U.S.-Mexico border near Brownsville, Texas, made a public plea July 6 to keep an eye on the plight of asylum-seekers during the coronavirus pandemic. She also called for an end to the Migrant Protection Protocols, known as MPP and also called the "Remain in Mexico" policy, that keeps would-be asylum-seekers on the other side of the border until their case is adjudicated. Sister Pimentel, of the Missionaries of Jesus, is executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley in Brownsville, where she operated a large shelter that helped migrants who had been released from immigration custody. However, as many were stopped at border because of the new 2019 policy keeping them in Mexico before seeking asylum in the U.S., she moved her help to the other side of the border and helps tend a migrant camp in Matamoros, Mexico. "Our camp is a makeshift 'tent city' filled with about 1,500 vulnerable women, men and children awaiting rulings on their applications for asylum in the United States. These families are living in donated tents at the mercy of extreme weather," she said. "Here, the temperatures can rise above 100 degrees, and when it rains, the downpours knock down their only refuge and leave them in mud pits. Imagine living in such uncertainty."

    St. Petersburg Diocese urges Catholics to 'take the pledge' in videos

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- It was an elongated production schedule that would have rivaled any James Cameron epic, but the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida, has finally issued a pair of "Civilize It" videos with more than 30 Catholics in the diocese taking part in the civility pledge to have an open mind, open ears and a civil tongue this election season. Not only did the production schedule rival that of Hollywood -- the project was launched last November -- the release date kept getting moved around too -- a common occurrence by the film studios in these coronavirus-altered times. The diocese settled on June 30 for the release date, which put it in between the U.S. bishops' observance of Religious Freedom Week, which ended June 29, and Independence Day. "Our goal was really to get diversity from across the diocese as much as possible," said Sabrina Schultz, director of life, justice and advocacy for the diocese. In the two videos, viewers can see more than 30 people recite some part of the "Civilize It" pledge. They assembled video taken of participants at various workshops, members of the diocese's lay pastoral minatory institute, representatives of the diocesan Hispanic Commission and members of the pastoral center staff. The videos can be viewed at

    Central American bishops: 'We all must get involved' during pandemic

    MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- Central America's bishops have urged their governments and people to join together to provide health care and protect lives as the COVID-19 pandemic heaps misery and economic consequences on one of the poorer parts of the hemisphere. In a July 5 statement, the episcopal secretariat of Central America, known by its Spanish acronym as SEDAC, referenced Pope Francis' admonishment, "We can only get out of this situation together as a whole humanity," and added: "We're all in the same boat. No one should be forgotten. We all must get involved. Governments and citizens must join together in a common effort in favor of health and people's lives." "We all must comply with the health security measures to protect the lives of our brothers and sisters," a reference to the calls for lifting quarantines and reopening churches, even as the pandemic continues claiming lives. The statement was signed by the secretariat's president, Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar Alas, and its secretary-general, Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez -- both of San Salvador, El Salvador. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused hardship in Central America, where poverty afflicts many and forced quarantines have denied millions a way to make ends meet. It's also exposed shortcomings in underfunded and underequipped health systems, left unprepared by neglect and corruption.

    Cleveland priest faces multiple federal child pornography charges

    CLEVELAND (CNS) -- A grand jury indicted a Catholic priest on federal charges involving child pornography and the sexual exploitation of children. The July 2 indictment charged Father Robert McWilliams, 40, a priest of the Diocese of Cleveland, with two counts of sex trafficking of a minor, three counts of pornography-related charges involving children and three counts of sexual exploitation of children. Father McWilliams was arrested Dec. 5 at St. Joseph Parish in suburban Strongsville where he had been serving as parochial vicar. He continued to be held without bond July 6. The diocese said in a statement it was "grateful to those in law enforcement who have worked diligently to investigate this matter. As the criminal case against McWilliams proceeds, let us continue to pray for justice to be served and healing for those who have been harmed by sexual abuse." Officials of the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force arrested Father McWilliams in December while serving a warrant to search the living and office spaces of the priest at the parish. The raid led to the seizure of electronic equipment, which had child pornography stored, according to court records. The priest was placed on administrative leave immediately after the Cleveland Diocese learned of his arrest.

    Faith leaders ask Congress to boost overseas pandemic aid

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Three dozen faith-based organizations, including Catholic Relief Services, have asked Congress to immediately fund efforts to respond to the coronavirus pandemic around the world. "If we don't beat COVID-19 everywhere, we can't beat it anywhere," CRS said in a news release publicizing the letter sent July 1. CRS, the U.S. bishops' overseas relief and development agency, said the faith leaders were seeking $10 billion to $15 billion in aid for the more than 70% of countries the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has described as ill-equipped to handle outbreaks of the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. The amount being sought is 0.005% of the $3 trillion Congress authorized in a series of domestic pandemic relief bills since March, CRS said. The faith leaders' letter said that if the international response is neglected, "we worry that many lives could be at risk." Among those signing the letter was Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, Illinois, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace. He was joined by leaders of the National Association of Evangelicals, World Vision USA, Food for the Hungry, Sudan Relief Fund and Compassion International, among others.

    Update: Concert honoring St. John Paul II centenary available online

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A concert honoring the centennial of St. John Paul II's birth is now available online. The concert, featuring some of the United States and Poland's top classical music artists, was held June 21. St. John Paul's birth was May 28. The concert features introductory remarks from Polish Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki of Poznan, president of Poland's bishops' conference, and Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York. The performances can be seen at The total running time is two hours and 47 minutes. The musical program begins with pianist Szymon Nehring, in a church courtyard, playing a solo piano rendition of "Etude in C# Minor, No. 25, Op. 9," written by one of Poland's musical treasures, Fredric Chopin. The program, a combination of sacred and classical music, includes Metropolitan Opera soloist Angel Joy Blue's rendition of Franz Schubert's "Ave Maria"; two other Metropolitan Opera soloists, MaryAnn McCormick and Lisette Oropesa performing Mozart's "Panis Angelicus" and "Laudate Dominum"; Metropolitan Opera featured performer Latonia Moore singing the "Ave Maria" from Verdi's opera "Otello"; and Brandie Sutton's performance of the "Lamb of God" to the accompaniment of David Sneed, who has performed with such artists as Aretha Franklin, Wynton Marsalis, Jessye Norman, Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross.

    USCCB's 2020 Natural Family Planning Awareness Week slated for July 19-25

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Natural Family Planning Awareness Week is slated for July 19-25 this year and has as its theme: "Live the truth and beauty of God's plan for married love!" The weeklong observance is a national educational campaign of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that celebrates "God's design for married love and the gift of life and to raise awareness of natural family planning methods," said a USCCB news release. The week annually highlights the July 25 anniversary of St. Paul VI's 1968 encyclical, "Humanae Vitae" ("Of Human Life"), which affirmed Catholic teaching against artificial contraception and provides clear teaching "about God's plan for married love and the transmission of life." The week also includes the July 26 feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne, the parents of the Blessed Mother. Natural family planning, or NFP, involves the monitoring by a married couple of the various biological signs indicating a woman's time of fertility and infertility. It can be used both to avoid pregnancy or to aid in becoming pregnant. The USCCB has prepared a package of articles, videos, suggested liturgies and prayers, church teaching, NFP resources, and other features for Natural Family Planning Awareness Week, which are available on the USCCB website at

    100-plus bishops demand supply chain due diligence 'now more than ever'

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- More than 100 bishops from around the world have signed on to a statement seeking mandatory due diligence laws and regulations in the international supply chain. As a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, "particularly vulnerable to the worst impacts of the crisis are the millions of workers lower down the supply chain -- many of whom are women," the bishops said. "For instance, some big fashion brands and retailers have canceled orders and refused to pay for textiles already produced, resulting in millions of workers being sent home without pay, social security or compensation. "Through their operations, irresponsible companies are complicit in acts of violence and suffering. We, Catholic leaders throughout the world, call on states to put an end to this," the bishops said in the statement, issued in early July. "Now more than ever, we need mandatory supply chain due diligence to stop corporate abuse and guarantee global solidarity," they said.

    Soto: 'Strenuous labor' of ending racism shouldn't be 'toppled' by looting

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CNS) -- By defacing and toppling a statue of St. Junipero Serra in Sacramento, protesters may have meant "to draw attention to the sorrowful, angry memories over California's past," but "this act of vandalism does little to build the future," Bishop Jaime Soto said July 5. The bishop, who heads the Sacramento Diocese, made the comments after the statue on the grounds of the California Capitol in Capitol Park was torn down by a group of demonstrators late July 4. "There is no question that California's indigenous people endured great suffering during the colonial period and then later faced the horror of government-sanctioned genocide under the nascent state of California," Bishop Soto said. "This legacy is heartbreaking." However, he continued, "it is also true that while Father Serra worked under this colonial system, he denounced its evils and worked to protect the dignity of native peoples." "His holiness as a missionary should not be measured by his own failures to stop the exploitation or even his own personal faults," the bishop added. Bishop Soto's remarks echoed those of Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez in a column he wrote for the July 1 feast day of St. Junipero Serra and published in Angelus, the online news platform of the Los Angeles Archdiocese.

    Financial watchdog sees increased cooperation with Vatican agencies

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican's financial watchdog agency has expanded its reach of cooperation, and it plans on continuing to increase its staff to better fulfill its mandate. Charged with preventing and countering suspected money laundering and the financing of terrorism, the Vatican Financial Intelligence Authority's work has significantly increased since it signed a number of agreements recently regarding the supervision of nearly 100 nonprofit entities and public authorities of the Holy See and Vatican City State. With a new president, director and deputy director leading the authority, the watchdog agency was also going to establish a new statue and its "first internal regulation, which sets out detailed procedures in the furtherance of a healthy and transparent administration," wrote Carmelo Barbagallo, president of the Financial Intelligence Authority, known by its Italian acronym as AIF. It released its annual report July 3. All the changes were part of helping the Holy See's "commitment to the fairness and transparency of its financial transitions," he added.

    At Angelus, pope backs U.N. resolution calling for global cease-fire

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis praised the United Nations' adoption of a global cease-fire resolution amid the coronavirus pandemic that has swept the world. "The request for a global and immediate cease-fire, which would allow that peace and security necessary to provide the needed humanitarian assistance, is commendable," the pope said July 5, after praying the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square. "I hope that this decision will be implemented effectively and promptly for the good of the many people who are suffering. May this Security Council resolution become a courageous first step toward a peaceful future," he said. The resolution, which was first proposed in late March by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, was unanimously passed July 1 by the 15-member Security Council.

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  • Report marks 20th year of U.S. efforts to address trafficking worldwide

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Government-sponsored trafficking is "a perversion of any government's reason for existence," which is "to protect rights, not crush them," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during the release of the 20th annual Trafficking in Persons Report. "The United States will not stand by as any government with a policy or pattern of human trafficking subjects its own citizens to this kind of oppression," Pompeo said. "We will work tirelessly in the United States to free those who are still enslaved." Pompeo was joined for the June 25 release of the TIP Report, as it is called, by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, who 20 years ago was the author of the historic Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, the law which mandated the report and which has been reauthorized many times. The TIP Report "is the gold standard, exposing problems and motivating countries to reform," said Smith. "The TIP Report is a key component of our nation's robust efforts to combat human trafficking which ruins childhoods, leaves victims scarred for a lifetime and enriches human traffickers," added Smith, author of five human trafficking laws. "The annual report catalogs and reviews what countries are doing to track down and prosecute the perpetrators and how they are working to rescue and help the victims."

    Cardinal Dolan: Broad criticism of NYPD unfairly tarnishes police officers

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Utilizing personal stories from his interactions with the New York Police Department, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said in a newspaper column that the city's police officers deserve better treatment and broad support on the job. Writing July 1 in the New York Post, Cardinal Dolan said police officers deserve to be recognized for the heroic work they carry out daily to protect the city. "Our valiant police officers have one of the most perilous, stressful duties around, and from what I have seen in my nearly dozen years here, they do it with care, compassion and competence," the cardinal wrote. He said "one of the tumors on our beloved nation, past and present" is how often African Americans are targeted, profiled, caricatured, blamed and suspected "as the cause of all evil and woe in society." And he urged people now not make police officers the object of similar broadsides. "That is raw injustice," Cardinal Dolan wrote of this treatment of African Americans. "But for God's sake, let's not now, in a similar way, stereotype the NYPD."

    Judge blocks law requiring 24-hour waiting period before getting abortion

    DAVENPORT, Iowa (CNS) -- A Johnson County district court judge has temporarily blocked the enforcement of the state's new law requiring women to wait 24 hours before having an abortion, the Iowa Catholic Conference reported July 1. Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the bill into law June 29. The injunction will continue while the suit against the law brought by Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union takes its course. Iowa Catholic leaders praised the legislation while the bill's opponents argued the new law is unconstitutional because it violates due process and equal protection rights of pregnant women. Opponents also said the manner in which the bill passed at the end of the session did not allow for public debate, reported June 30. The judge's decision prevented the law from taking effect July 1. Introduced late in this year's pandemic-shortened session, the measure states that a physician performing an abortion shall obtain written certification from the pregnant woman at least 24 hours prior to doing the abortion. Existing law requires a pregnant woman to undergo an ultrasound test so that she has an opportunity to see an image of her unborn child before making a decision about that child's life. In Iowa, abortion is not allowed after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

    John Feister of Glenmary Challenge wins St. Francis de Sales Award

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- John Feister, assistant editor of Glenmary Challenge, is the recipient of the 2020 St. Francis de Sales Award from the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada. The award -- named for the patron saint of writers and journalists -- recognizes "outstanding contributions to Catholic journalism" and is the highest honor given by the CPA. The announcement was made July 2, via a pre-recorded video released as a premiere on social media during the 2020 Catholic Media Conference, which was held virtually using digital technology due to the coronavirus pandemic. "It's an honor to receive this prestigious award," Feister said in his video acceptance message. He spent much of the message thanking family, friends and colleagues who had supported him over the decades in his craft in print, broadcast and digital media. "In a media environment where ongoing change becomes our new normal, there is someone who has for more than a quarter century led the charge to make the media organizations he has worked with better and has collaborated with and shown his colleagues in the Catholic press ways forward," said Mark Lombard, the 2019 winner of the St. Francis de Sales Award, in his nomination of Feister.

    Ex-religious education director at Tennessee parish indicted for abusing girl

    MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (CNS) -- A former religious education director at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Murfreesboro has been indicted by a Rutherford County Grand Jury on charges of sexually abusing a minor. Michael D. Lewis, 41, of Murfreesboro, was indicted on 10 counts of statutory rape by an authority figure and four counts of sexual battery by an authority figure, according to the June 17 indictment. All of the charges stem from incidents that happened between July 2013 and July 2017, the indictment said. Lewis was booked into Rutherford County Adult Detention Center and released on $75,000 bond, according to county's online court record system. Lewis served as St. Rose's director of religious education from November 2011 until his resignation in April 2016. Before working at St. Rose, Lewis was on the staff at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Tennessee Ridge in Houston County from November 2004 to November 2011. No accusations of sexual abuse by Lewis were received at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Rose or the Diocese of Nashville during his employment with the parishes, said Rick Musacchio, diocesan director of communications. "We have had no reports, and we have not been contacted by any investigators," Musacchio said. "We would certainly stand ready to cooperate with any investigations that they deem necessary."

    Vermont priests take part in postponed chrism Mass with Bishop Coyne

    BURLINGTON, Vt. (CNS) -- This year's chrism Mass in the Diocese of Burlington didn't take place during Holy Week as usual and instead was celebrated June 30. The special Mass at St. Joseph Cathedral in Burlington was rescheduled as churches were closed to the public celebration of the Mass before Holy Week because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a restriction that continued until recently when Vermont and the rest of the nation began to reopen. "This annual Mass traditionally is celebrated late in Lent or during Holy Week as part of the preparations for the Easter Season. This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vatican gave the bishops worldwide permission to reschedule the Chrism Mass for another time of the year when it could be celebrated more fully," explained Josh Perry, diocesan director of worship. Diocesan priests joined Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne for the Mass where they renewed their priestly promises. He blessed them and blessed the holy oils that will be used in the sacramental life of the Catholic Church of Vermont and symbolize the link of the parishes with the bishop in sacramental ministry. The oil of the sick is blessed for the healing of body, mind and spirit. The oil of catechumens is blessed for the anointing of those preparing for baptism. The chrism oil was consecrated to anoint infants after baptism, those who are to be confirmed, and bishops and priests at their ordination. It also is used to anoint altars and churches at the time of their dedication.

    Providence College cemetery reconsecrated after vandalism attack

    PROVIDENCE, R.I. (CNS) -- Two days after a vandal defaced some of the gravestones and a central cross with swastikas at the Dominican Cemetery at Providence College, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence reconsecrated and rededicated the sacred grounds where Dominican friars have been buried since the college's founding in 1917. About 75 friars and members of the Providence College community gathered for the solemn ceremony June 24 when the bishop blessed the grounds with holy water and incense while offering prayers of consecration. "Today we come to pray that God will cleanse us. That God will cleanse our world, our nation, our community, our church and this place of vandalism from all sense of anger and division, violence and vandalism, leaving a kind of peace that only the presence of God in the end can give us," Bishop Tobin said in the tree-shaded cemetery grounds between the college's Center for Arts, Culture and Social Justice and its athletic fields. Dominican Father Brian Shanley, who stepped down as president June 30 after 15 years in the post, greeted Bishop Tobin at the cemetery entrance, and remarked that the moment was one of healing. "We as a community all felt violated by what happened the other night and this is a chance for us to heal ourselves as a community and this holy ground," Father Shanley said, adding they also should pray for the man now charged with doing the damage. "I think his motivation was more mental health issues, than I hope malice, and he deserves our prayers and forgiveness."

    Indiana priest suspended after derogatory remarks about protesters

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The bishop of the Diocese of Lafayette, Indiana, has suspended a priest from public ministry after the pastor referred to Black Lives Matters protesters as "maggots and parasites" in a Sunday bulletin. In a July 1 statement issued by the diocese, Bishop Timothy L. Doherty said that "Father Theodore Rothrock is suspended from public ministry," citing the priest's June 28 bulletin article. Though the article the bishop refers to was on the website for St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church in Carmel, Indiana, it has since been removed and replaced with a "response and clarification" from the priest saying it was not his intention "to offend anyone, and I am sorry that my words have caused any hurt to anyone. However, we must also be fully aware that there are those who would distort the Gospel for their own misguided purposes. People are afraid, as I pointed out, rather poorly I would admit, that there are those who feed on that fear to promote more fear and division," Father Rothrock wrote. The diocese's statement said the bishop "expresses pastoral concern for the affected communities" and said that the suspension offers an opportunity for pastoral discernment "for the good of the diocese and for the good of Father Rothrock." A local group had called for Father Rothrock's removal and had planned to protest outside the church.

    Archives reveal abuse allegations against founder of Schonstatt movement

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Documents uncovered from the recently opened archives of the pontificate of Pope Pius XII revealed allegations of sexual abuse and abuse of power against the founder of the Schonstatt movement, Father Joseph Kentenich. Reports of the apostolic visitation made in the early 1950s written by Dutch Jesuit Father Sebastiaan Tromp were made known by German scholar Alexandra von Teuffenbach July 2 after she wrote a letter regarding her discovery to German newspaper Die Tagespost and Italian journalist Sandro Magister. Von Teuffenbach, a former professor of church history at Rome's Pontifical Regina Apostolorum University, said the testimonies, letters and conversations Father Tromp had with members of the Schonstatt Sisters of Mary, as well as Father Kentenich, revealed "a situation of complete subjugation of the nuns, concealed in a certain way by a sort of family structure applied to the work. Kentenich was the 'father,' the founder with absolute power, often equated with God," von Teuffenbach wrote to Magister. "So much so that in many expressions and prayers it is not clear whether these are addressed to God the Father or to the founder himself." The behavior of the founder of Schonstatt, she added, is "a striking example of what Pope Francis probably means when he speaks of clericalism, with the father and founder of the work who sets himself up as the proprietor of the nuns, in soul and body."

    Vatican's top diplomat meets about Mideast with U.S., Israeli ambassadors

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, met with the U.S. and Israeli ambassadors to the Vatican to express concern that "possible unilateral actions" on their part would further jeopardize peace in the region. "The Holy See reiterates that the state of Israel and the state of Palestine have the right to exist and to live in peace and security, within internationally recognized borders," said a statement from the Vatican press office July 1. "It thus appeals to the parties to do everything possible to reopen the process of direct negotiation, on the basis of the relevant resolutions of the United Nations, and aided by measures that can reestablish reciprocal confidence," it said. According to Reuters, Cardinal Parolin met separately with Callista Gingrich, U.S. ambassador, and Oren David, Israeli ambassador. Though the Vatican did not specify which "unilateral actions" caused their concern, the Vatican recognizes the sovereignty of both the state of Israel and the state of Palestine and their rights to exist in peace and security.

    Pope Francis sends condolences to Pope Benedict for brother's death

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has sent retired Pope Benedict XVI his prayers and condolences for the death of his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger. The monsignor, a musician and the retired pope's elder brother, died in Regensburg, Germany, July 1 at the age of 96. In a letter dated July 2, Pope Francis told his predecessor he was praying for his brother, hoping he would be rewarded in heaven for being among the "faithful servants of the Gospel. And I am also praying for you, Your Holiness," asking that God and the Blessed Virgin sustain him with "Christian hope and tender divine consolation." Pope Francis said he was touched by the retired pope's kindness in "communicating to me first the news of the death of your beloved brother." He reiterated his deepest condolences and "spiritual closeness in this time of sorrow."

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  • Judge strikes down Trump administration's 'third-country asylum rule'

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A federal judge ruled late June 30 the Trump administration unlawfully implemented its 2019 policy to turn away asylum-seekers if they don't first seek protection in countries along their way to the United States. Judge Timothy J. Kelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said the policy might have been legal but the administration bypassed the Administrative Procedure Act, meaning it did not give the public enough advance notice of the new policy, known as the "third-country asylum rule," nor did it provide the required amount of time for public comment on the change. The Asylum Eligibility and Procedural Modifications rule was jointly published July 15, 2019, by the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. The agencies said it was written "to take effect immediately when it's formally published." "There are many circumstances in which courts appropriately defer to the national security judgments of the Executive (Branch)," Kelly wrote in his opinion in a suit brought by immigrant-rights advocates. "But determining the scope of an APA exception is not one of them." Faith leaders and other immigrant advocates have long called for an end to this policy, labeling it "a backdoor asylum ban."

    Ruling in Montana case called 'welcome victory' for religious freedom

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The consensus from religious liberty advocates following the June 30 Supreme Court ruling on public funds and sectarian schools is the Blaine amendments, a hated remnant of 19th-century anti-Catholic bigotry, are finally gone for good. "The court should be applauded ... for stating clearly that laws like Montana's that treat people of faith like second-class citizens have no place under our Constitution," Carrie Severino, president of the advocacy group Judicial Crisis Network, said in a statement posted on Twitter. "The justices have gone a long way toward blotting out the stain of religious bigotry that has permeated so much of the law in this area." The case, Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, was brought by three mothers who had been sending their children to Stillwater Christian School in Kalispell with the help of a state scholarship program created in 2015. The Montana Department of Revenue issued an administrative rule a few months after the program started, saying the tax credit donations could only go toward nonreligious, private schools. In its 5-4 ruling the Supreme Court said this exclusion violated the U.S. Constitution. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts cited the Blaine amendments, a ban on government aid to sectarian causes or religious institutions that came out of an era in which official government hostility to Catholics was at its peak. Montana ratified a Blaine Amendment to its state constitution in 1889 and again in 1972. Thirty-six other states also have them. "Many of the no-aid provisions belong to a more checkered tradition shared with the Blaine Amendment of the 1870s," Roberts observed. "That proposal -- which Congress nearly passed -- would have added to the federal Constitution a provision similar to the state no-aid provisions, prohibiting states from aiding 'sectarian' schools."

    After speedy exit, Catholic school student waits for 'very different' return

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Back in March, Juliana Colorado was going about life as usual for an 8-year-old, trying out for a talent show at St. Joseph's Catholic School in Long Beach, California. "Her last day she was in school was Thursday, March 12. There were talent show tryouts after school and Juliana performed a stirring rendition of 'You'll Be Back' from the 'Hamilton' soundtrack," said her father, Carlos. Later that evening, as restrictions rapidly began to take place to halt the spread of the coronavirus in California, the Colorado family learned that classes at the Catholic school had suddenly been canceled, at least on school grounds, so was the talent show and other events, and over the course of a weekend, St. Joseph's staff moved into gear to take instruction and the school Mass online for the rest of the year. "Both my wife and I are very thankful that we have our daughter in a private school to begin with because the school was able to step in without missing a beat," Carlos said. "I think there was one day or two, when it was down, when we were not doing anything ... but then after those two days, classes started up and Zoom was going, and the various pieces of software and applications were up and running." After talking to friends and family with children in public schools, "I can tell you that they did not have the same level of attention that we did," said Carlos. The transition changed almost every aspect of Juliana's school life. Now instead of turning in homework to her teacher on a piece of paper, she takes a photo of it and uploads it. "It's all about technology," said the 8-year-old in a June 30 WhatsApp audio interview with Catholic News Service. "If I weren't able to use technology, then I wouldn't be doing too well."

    Florida bishops hail new law on parental consent before minor has abortion

    ORLANDO, Fla. (CNS) -- Pro-life advocates in Florida applauded Gov. Ron DeSantis when he signed a bill June 30 that requires parental consent before a minor has an abortion. In a statement following the signing of the bill, the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops thanked Florida's governor for signing S.B. 404. "This commonsense measure simply holds abortion to the same consent requirements as most every other medical decision involving a child, including simple interventions such as taking an aspirin or getting ears pierced," the statement added. The bill was passed by Florida's Legislature Feb. 20. According to News Service of Florida, the governor did not make a public statement about the bill signing, but legislative supporters praised the measure and said parents need to be involved when their underage daughters consider having abortions. Opponents contend the parental-consent requirement will endanger teens who could be subject to retribution or abuse if their parents find out they are pregnant or considering an abortion. In a prepared statement June 30, Senate President Bill Galvano, a Republican, who supported the bill, said for "those who are in a situation of abuse or where parental consent is not in the child's best interest, the bill provides a judicial waiver process that still involves the intervention of an adult."

    As Congo turns 60, cardinal says the country has failed

    NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) -- As Congo celebrated 60 years of independence from Belgium, Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo of Kinshasa said the "great dreams" of the people had been shuttered by successive regimes. "We have known successive autocratic regimes that have come to power like the colonialist without any concern for the will of the people, and this continues today: by force, war or fraud," Cardinal Ambongo said in a homily June 30. He did, however, remind people to celebrate. He said citizens were much poorer to the point of being classified by some as the most miserable on earth. The exploitation of mineral resources has occurred in broad daylight, with the populations not benefiting, he said. In a visible policy of occupation, according to the cardinal, nine neighboring countries had a presence in Congo, either as armies or as migrants. He highlighted the violation of the country's territory and Balkanization agenda, pointing at the insecurity and rebel forces in the east of the country. "We must recognize this ... after 60 years of independence ... we have shamefully failed. We have not been able to make Congo a more beautiful country than before," said Cardinal Ambongo. "Today's Gospel invites us to take responsibility, because each of us will have to account before God what he had done with his talents for this beautiful country," said Cardinal Ambongo. "We must get out of this mentality as we often hear in the city: that the president or the government will come to do this or that."

    Listen, respond to modern world, Vatican panel tells Catholic media

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- When Vatican communication leaders met virtually with U.S. and Canadian Catholic journalists and communication leaders June 30, they urged the group to keep up their work, think of new ways to have a broader reach and not get weighed down by society's current polarization. "We have something to bring" to the modern world "and a huge amount to learn" from it, said Bishop Paul Tighe, secretary general of the Pontifical Council for Culture. The bishop, who has addressed this group in person at previous events, is a past secretary of the former Pontifical Council for Social Communications. He was joined in the virtual panel by Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication, and Natasa Govekar, director of the dicastery's theological-pastoral section, which coordinates Pope Francis' Instagram page. The Vatican officials had a simple message, urging the group above all to really engage with readers, viewers and social media followers. Ruffini stressed that communication is about relationships, which the other panelists also echoed. Govekar emphasized that a key part of communication is not just getting the word out but listening. The panel addressed the opening session of the Catholic Media Conference via a Zoom call, replacing the session that would have kicked off the gathering this year in Portland, Oregon, which was canceled due to the coronavirus. Some workshops and other parts of the annual conference were available to participants in an online format.

    Respect, understanding can defeat racism, bigotry, Archbishop Gregory says

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- While America grapples with racism and bigotry and other social ills, Washington Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory said people must reach out to one another, learn about others different from themselves and rediscover that all religions teach that hatred is wrong. "Ignorance of the other is the soil in which hatred and bigotry grow," he said. "If we do not know each other, share our fears and share our hopes, we make it possible for hatred to grow." Archbishop Gregory's remarks came during a June 30 online discussion sponsored by the American Jewish Committee on the role faith can play in overcoming racial injustice. The talk was viewed by several hundred people via Zoom. During the discussion, titled "Race in America: The Faith Perspective," Archbishop Gregory and Rabbi Noam Marans, director of the AJC's interreligious and intergroup relations, addressed racism, anti-Semitism and other problems facing America today. Rabbi Marans noted the discussion was held "in the fourth month of quarantine time," which he described as an unprecedented period in which nearly 130,000 Americans had died from the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. In addition, he said, the pandemic has widened economic insecurity and caused vast unemployment, and the country has experienced protests by Americans against racial injustice and the policing that led to the death of George Floyd and many other unarmed African Americans.

    Father Val Peter, Boys Town's leader for 20 years, dies

    BOYS TOWN, Neb. (CNS) -- Father Val Peter, who was executive director of Boys Town from 1985 to 2005, died June 30 at age 85. No cause of death was given. During his 20-year tenure leading Boys Town, Father Peter renovated much of the Boys Town campus, installed Boys Town campuses in major cities throughout the United States and increased the number of girls served by Boys Town. He also utilized the latest research in child development to give the children under his care a better chance at a more productive future. By 1994, Boys Town was caring for 20,000 boys and girls in 16 metropolitan areas. "We combine scientific technologies with enormous compassion," Father Peter said at the time. Rather than the dormitories and mess halls of old, for instance, Boys Town's children all lived with families. A decade later, that number had more than doubled to 43,654 children at 19 sites in 15 states and in the District of Columbia. More than 500,000 children and families were helped through Boys Town's national hotline and nearly 1 million more were served through outreach and professional programs. In a 1993 interview with the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Father Peter said the nature of youth problems had changed since Boys Town's founding in 1917. "The toughest children to help get better are Americans," he said. ''The evils are far more subtle, the drugs are far more seductive. There's too much of everything material and not enough of anything spiritual."

    Chaz Muth, CNS multimedia editor, wins Cardinal John P. Foley Award

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Chaz Muth, multimedia editor for Catholic News Service, received the 2020 Cardinal John P. Foley Award from the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada. The award, named after the media savvy Philadelphia cardinal who died in 2011, recognizes excellence and innovation in Catholic storytelling in various media platforms such as video, podcasts, photo spreads, blogs or a combination of multimedia platforms. It is one of the top awards given by the CPA. The winner was announced July 1 in a pre-recorded video released on social media during the 2020 Catholic Media Conference held virtually this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. "Anything with Cardinal Foley's name on it is more than an honor and it's incredibly humbling," said Muth in accepting the award. "He was a giant in the Catholic press, and wow, what an incredible innovator in everything that he touched." Cardinal Foley, a longtime journalist, was head of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications from 1984 to 2007. Before that, he served as assistant editor and editor of Philadelphia's archdiocesan newspaper, The Catholic Standard and Times, and he hosted and produced a radio program called "Philadelphia Catholic Hour." The cardinal also was known to many as the Vatican's "Voice of Christmas" in his role as English-language commentator for the pope's midnight Mass for 25 years.

    Bishop, priests urge better Argentine response to COVID-19 in slums

    MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- A bishop and priests serving the shantytowns surrounding Buenos Aires, Argentina, warn of COVID-19 spreading through their densely populated communities and said an inadequate response from health authorities is causing people to turn to parishes. "We are entering the most critical moment of the pandemic and our parishes are accompanying their communities with many different actions. We cannot, nor do we want to, to replace the state. But we can and do want to collaborate," said a June 29 statement signed by Bishop Eduardo Garcia of San Justo, in suburban Buenos Aires, and 11 of his priests. "We see with increasing urgency the need for a state intelligently existing and dialoguing with the community to respond to the emergency produced by the pandemic," they said. The statement from the "curas villeros" -- as priests in the shantytowns are known -- underscores the difficulties of stopping the spread of COVID-19 in long-neglected communities, which often are populated by migrants and other people often working in the informal economy and not paying taxes. Argentina has imposed quarantines, which have lasted more than 100 days in the Buenos Aires region -- moves priests support as a way to save lives -- and restricting people's movements appears to have kept the death toll lower than other Latin American countries.

    Cardinal Zen says he's prepared for arrest under Hong Kong security law

    HONG KONG (CNS) -- Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun has said that while he will remain prudent, he is prepared to suffer arrest and trials under Hong Kong's sweeping new national security law. "If right and proper words were considered against their law, I will endure all the suing, trials and arrests. Numerous predecessors have endured similarly," the 88-year-old cardinal said in a video posted on his Facebook page. His remarks were reported by "Perhaps they are truly insane. Who knows? Let them be then. Isn't there a saying, 'Those whom God wishes to destroy, he first makes mad'?" The controversial law was rushed through the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress June 30, the eve of the 23rd anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to Beijing. Cardinal Zen's fears that the new laws could affect religious freedom in the city contradict the view of Hong Kong's apostolic administrator, Cardinal John Tong Hon, who in late June claimed the laws would have no effect on religious freedom.

    Msgr. Ratzinger, retired pope's brother, dies at 96

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, a musician and retired Pope Benedict XVI's elder brother, died July 1 at the age of 96. According to Vatican News, Msgr. Ratzinger died in Regensburg, Germany, where he had been hospitalized. Pope Benedict, 93, flew to Regensburg June 18 to be with his ailing brother. When the retired pope arrived in Germany, the Diocese of Regensburg issued a statement asking the public to respect his privacy and that of his brother. "It may be the last time that the two brothers, Georg and Joseph Ratzinger, see each other in this world," the diocesan statement said. The two brothers attended the seminary together after World War II and were ordained to the priesthood together in 1951. Although priestly ministry took them in different directions, they continued to be close and to spend holidays and vacations together, including at the Vatican and the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. Their sister, Maria, died in 1991.

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  • Wisconsin bishop denounces activist's call to destroy statues of Jesus

    MADISON, Wis. (CNS) -- Bishop Donald J. Hying of Madison June 24 denounced comments by a Black Lives Matter activist who said statues of Jesus Christ that depict him "with European features" need to come down "because they support white supremacy." As a shepherd of the Catholic Church, "I cannot remain silent. I need to denounce such a call to violence and destruction," the bishop said, responding to a June 22 tweet by activist and writer Shaun King about "the statues of the white European they claim is Jesus." "Our statues, pictures, stained-glass windows, churches, icons and devotions are holy to us," Bishop Hying said. "They are sacramentals, blessed and sacred, visible expressions of the love of God, poured out in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and made manifest in the saints." Bishop Hying's remarks came in an open a letter posted on the website of the Catholic Herald diocesan newspaper,, which addressed the broader issue of the need for the country to come to terms with its moral failings in its history as a nation, but to do so with a national educational effort and respectful discussion, not through destruction and violence.

    Louisiana lawmaker says court ruling 'has almost taken my breath away'

    NEW ORLEANS (CNS) -- The Democratic state senator who wrote the Louisiana abortion law struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court June 29 said the ruling almost took her breath away. "This is a decision that I holistically do not agree with. It's a very disappointing decision," Sen. Katrina Jackson said at a news conference in New Orleans. Elected to the Louisiana Senate in 2020, she was a state representative when she wrote the 2014 Unsafe Abortion Protection Act, which the high court has deemed unconstitutional. "It has been something today that has almost taken my breath away, that in America, at a time when we have advocated for access to health care and we have tried to ensure that people are qualified, that in the one area where women truly need qualified physicians, that the Supreme Court ruled against it," she said. She said that in Louisiana, radiologists and ophthalmologists have performed abortions. "We heard of a number of horror stories as this bill got out and circulated for years," she said. Many women, whether they were pro-life or they supported a right to abortion, told her, Jackson said, they agreed such a measure was needed to protect women, because "every woman who walks into an abortion clinic believes that she's walking into the hands of an OB-GYN," and that if there were complications, such as hemorrhaging, the abortion doctor would "provide a continuity of care and contact the hospital on her behalf."

    Update: Court says tax credit program can't exclude religious schools

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In a 5-4 ruling June 30, the Supreme Court said the exclusion of religious schools in Montana's state scholarship aid program violated the federal Constitution. In the opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court ruled that if a state offers financial assistance to private schools, it has to allow religious schools to also take part. Separate dissents were written by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. Roberts said the decision by the Montana Supreme Court to invalidate the school scholarship program because it would provide funding to both religious schools and secular schools "bars religious schools from public benefits solely because of the religious character of the schools. The provision also bars parents who wish to send their children to a religious school from those same benefits, again solely because of the religious character of the school," he wrote. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said the court "rightly ruled that the U.S. Constitution does not permit states to discriminate against religion. This decision means that religious persons and organizations can, like everyone else, participate in government programs that are open to all."

    Bishops in Amazon establish new ecclesial conference

    LIMA, Peru (CNS) -- Eight months after Amazonian church leaders met in Rome to discuss pastoral challenges, a new Ecclesial Conference of the Amazon was founded June 29 to carry on the synod's work. The new conference includes representing the nine Amazonian countries, as well as representatives of the Latin American Conference of Religious, or CLAR; the Pan-Amazonian Church Network, or REPAM; and the Latin American and Caribbean arm of Caritas, the international Catholic Church humanitarian aid and development agency. Three indigenous people -- one of them a religious sister -- and three representatives of Vatican offices are also members of the conference, which was announced at the end of a four-day virtual assembly. The conference aims "to bring to fruition the dreams that Pope Francis laid out in 'Querida Amazonia,'" the postsynodal papal exhortation issued in February, Bishop David Martinez of Puerto Maldonado, Peru, told Catholic News Service. In the document, the pope wrote that he dreams of a church that fights for the rights of the poor, preserves its cultural riches and natural beauty, and is made up of committed Christian communities that give it an Amazonian face.

    Federal executions in Indiana said to 'add violence on top of violence'

    INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) -- A Department of Justice announcement in mid-June that it would resume federal executions beginning at a federal prison within the Archdiocese of Indianapolis drew words of remorse and prayers from Catholic leaders for the crime victims of as well as for the inmates slated to die. In offering the prayers, Indianapolis Archbishop Charles C. Thompson acknowledged in a statement "the suffering and sorrow" of the family and friends of the victims, and said that "we must do what we can to help them heal from the deep and personal wounds they have suffered." At the same time, he cited the words of Pope Francis' August 2018 revision of paragraph 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states that "the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person." The archbishop's statement came in response to the Justice Department's plans to resume executions at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, located in the archdiocese. Five executions were originally slated to take place in December 2019 and January 2020. One inmate received a stay of execution. In the other four cases, lawyers challenged a new protocol for the executions, resulting in a preliminary injunction. In April, an appeals court overruled the preliminary injunction, leading to the June 15 rescheduling of four of the executions of Danny Lee, Wesley Ira Purkey, Dustin Lee Honken and Keith Dwayne Nelson. The men were convicted of killing children in separate crimes. Three executions are scheduled to take place in July and one is scheduled for August.

    Mexican bishops call for more robust response to COVID-19 crisis

    MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- Mexico's bishops have expressed alarm over the scope of the COVID-19 crisis, which they say is continuing to expand across the country even as health authorities allow the gradual resumption of economic activity. The bishops also called for a more robust government response to the pandemic -- both on the health and economic fronts -- saying health officials have a "moral obligation" to "provide certainty to people when they find themselves confused," and that millions of families whose wage-earners were thrown out of work are facing the prospect of falling into poverty. "It's necessary that the civil authorities make all possible efforts to provide solid and transparent information, along with the number of deaths (the pandemic) causes. Hence, it would be opportune that testing be widespread, constant and expeditious," the statement continued, referring to Mexico's low rate of COVID-19 testing, among the lowest in the hemisphere. Journalists' investigations have indicated deaths from COVID-19 are being undercounted. The bishops' statement comes as Mexico confronts questions over its COVID-19 strategy and an economic crisis, which has cost it an estimated 12 million jobs. The pandemic is expected to push the poverty rate to 60% of the population, according to the bishops' statement.

    Update: Catholic leaders denounce rejection of federal death penalty appeal

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- When the Supreme Court announced June 29 that it would not hear an appeal by federal death-row inmates challenging the method to be used in their upcoming executions, a longtime advocate against capital punishment said the court "abdicated its legal and moral responsibilities. This means that the federal government will likely execute four people" starting in July "using an untested lethal injection protocol during a global pandemic without any real oversight from the Supreme Court," tweeted Sister Helen Prejean, a Sister of St. Joseph of Medaille. The unsigned three-sentence order from the court said Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor would have heard the inmates' appeal. The inmates had appealed a lower court order allowing the federal government to proceed with executions using a single-drug protocol. The federal executions, which have not taken place since 2003, are set to resume in mid-July. When Attorney General William Barr announced last year that the federal government was reinstating the federal death penalty, he said the executions would use a single drug instead of a three-drug protocol carried out in most recent federal executions and by several states. This execution method was challenged by some of the federal death-row inmates. Last November, a federal judge said this protocol injection went against the Federal Death Penalty Act. In April, a federal appeals court lifted a lower court ruling that had prevented the execution of federal death-row inmates.

    French cardinal reveals future plans after 'ordeal' of abuse trial

    OXFORD, England (CNS) -- Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who retired from the Archdiocese of Lyon, has left his see to serve as a convent chaplain and envoy for the pope. In a radio interview, he thanked Catholics for helping the church survive his conviction and acquittal on charges he ignored sexual abuse by a local priest. "I'm contented and happy to be embarking on something new and joyful at this return to calm after the tempest," Cardinal Barbarin told the Lyon-based Radio Chretienne Francophone. "As an archbishop, I had an incredible amount of administration, official business and financial affairs to deal with, as well as national and international meetings. But my true vocation is as a priest, and I'm now able to rebuild the foundations of my priestly life."

    Pro-life advocates say ruling puts clinic profits over women's health

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Many of the country's leading pro-life advocates said the U.S. Supreme Court's June 29 ruling striking down a Louisiana abortion law puts women's health in danger, allows subpar care of women and gives abortion clinics a pass on "commonsense regulations" for "the sake of profit." "Women were dealt a huge blow in today's ruling from the Supreme Court," said Abby Johnson, who used to be the director of a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Texas and currently leads the group And Then There Were None, which she founded. "By deciding that abortion doctors and clinics need to follow a separate, less stringent set of rules than every other medical facility leaves women open to the consequences of an industry that has mastered cutting corners on health care," said Johnson, whose organization assists abortion workers in leaving the abortion industry. "Women will continue to get subpar care at abortion clinics because of this Supreme Court ruling," Johnson said in a statement. "It's not a victory for women, for access, for equality, like the abortion industry will say today. The back alley abortions that the industry thinks will happen if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned may very well become commonplace inside abortion clinics due to the lack of commonsense regulations that this case just dismantled." In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional Louisiana's 2014 Unsafe Abortion Protection Act requiring that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

    Australian bishops reject criticism of move to single safeguarding office

    SYDNEY (CNS) -- The Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference has hit back at claims that a new national safeguarding office may be a step backward from the work of Catholic Professional Standards Ltd. over the past three years. Catholic Professional Standards Ltd. was established by the bishops in response to the findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse to conduct audits of church entities' compliance with child safe standards and to deliver safeguarding training. It was set up as a not-for-profit company operating independently of the church hierarchy and runs at a cost of around $1.8 million a year. It is expected to be replaced early in 2021 by a national approach to streamline and coordinate the church's work to protect children and vulnerable adults. Some Catholics are worried that the new approach being considered by the bishops may lack the independence and transparency of CPSL, with The Australian newspaper reporting that there is "concern that old habits of secrecy and nontransparency are creeping back into the church." But Archbishop Mark Coleridge, president of the bishops' conference, said it is "seriously mistaken" to see the decision to bring various national organizations into a single entity as a "diminishment in the church's commitment to child protection and safeguarding."

    Two retired bishops, two priests contract virus in Texas retirement home

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston is asking for prayers for those who have contracted COVID-19, including its retired archbishop and its retired auxiliary bishop living in a priest retirement home of 18 residents. In addition to the two prelates, two priests also tested positive. "Please pray for all those affected by COVID-19 in recent days, including our priests and Archbishop Emeritus Joseph A. Fiorenza and retired Auxiliary Bishop Vincent M. Rizzotto of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston," said a June 29 statement from the archdiocese. Archbishop Fiorenza, a past president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is 89. Bishop Rizzotto is 88. Texas is one of the states with a recent alarming uptick of COVID-19 cases. By June 29, it had registered a daily high of more than 5,000 new cases for the sixth day in a row, and by June 30, it had registered over 153,000 confirmed cases. California, Florida and Arizona also were registering high numbers of people contracting the virus and, with Texas, now are emerging as epicenters of the pandemic in the U.S.

    Pope prays for Poles who asked him to intervene in abuse cases

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis said he was praying for the hundreds of Catholics in Poland who turned to him directly, urging him to "rebuild our church" and criticizing the country's bishops for hiding cases of abuse against minors. Matteo Bruni, head of the Vatican press office, said the pope was aware of the appeal paid for by more than 600 Catholics in Poland so that it could be published as a paid ad in the Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, June 29. The pope "is praying for those who have turned to him," Bruni said in a written statement June 30. "The entire church must do everything possible so that canonical norms are applied, cases of abuse are discovered and those guilty of these grave crimes are punished," Bruni said, referring to the pope's position. The Vatican statement reflected the response given to La Repubblica after the group of lay Catholics published the appeal in the paper and on a website in four different languages at The appeal begged the pope to "look with care at the church in Poland where bishops are hiding cases of pedophilia."

    Update: Canadian archbishop gets new pallium at same address, new archdiocese

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa-Cornwall is preparing to retire, but first he is planning a liturgy where he will receive the pallium. Again. As the new archbishop of Ottawa, he received one of the woolen bands from now-retired Pope Benedict XVI on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29, 2007. If an archbishop moves from one archdiocese to another, he gets a new pallium. But Archbishop Prendergast, 76, hasn't moved. However, in early May, his archdiocese grew and changed names when the former Diocese of Cornwall was joined to it. The change merits a new pallium -- his third. In a tweet June 29, the archbishop said: "I received one from Pope St John Paul II on June 29, 1999, as Archbishop of Halifax: three pallia from three different popes." As for the new pallium, Archbishop Prendergast told Catholic News Service June 24, "The nuncio and I have been considering dates for him to confer it on me as my retirement is on the horizon."

    After raid, pope names commissioner for oversight of St. Peter's Basilica

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis appointed a commissioner charged with overseeing and reorganizing the Fabbrica di San Pietro, the office responsible for the physical care and maintenance of St. Peter's Basilica. The pope named retired Archbishop Mario Giordana, who served as apostolic nuncio to Slovakia until 2017, as extraordinary commissioner for the Fabbrica di San Pietro, the Vatican said in a statement released June 30. The Vatican also said authorities conducted a raid of the Fabbrica offices; it was authorized by Vatican chief prosecutor Gian Piero Milano and his deputy, Alessandro Diddi. The June 30 operation led to the confiscation "of documents and electronic devices from the technical and administrative offices of the Fabbrica di San Pietro," the Vatican said. The Vatican said Pope Francis made the commissioner appointment after receiving a report regarding the Fabbrica from the Office of the Auditor General, which performs financial and compliance auditing of all offices of the Roman Curia, institutions connected to the Holy See and all offices of Vatican City State.

    U.S. Catholic media must inspire unity amid division, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Catholic media outlets in the United States are called to break down barriers that prevent dialogue and honest communication between people and communities, Pope Francis said. The national motto "e pluribus unum" ("out of many, one") can serve as an inspiration of the ideal of unity amid diversity "in an age marked by conflicts and polarization from which the Catholic community itself is not immune," the pope said in a June 30 message sent to participants of the Catholic Media Conference. The church, he added, needs "men and women of conviction who protect communication from all that would distort it or bend it to other purposes. We need media that can help people, especially the young, to distinguish good from evil, to develop sound judgments based on a clear and unbiased presentation of the facts and to understand the importance of working for justice, social concord and respect for our common home," he said. The annual event, sponsored by the Catholic Press Association, was originally scheduled for June 29-July 2 in Portland, Oregon. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, organizers opted to hold a virtual gathering for participants.

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  • Gomez: Truth of saint's ministry is his respect, loving care of indigenous

    LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez has asked Catholics of the archdiocese to invoke the intercession of St. Junipero Serra "for this nation that he helped to found." "In this hour of trial in our nation, when once again we are confronting America's shameful legacy of racism, I invite you to join me in observing St. Junipero's feast day, July 1, as a day of prayer, fasting and charity," Archbishop Gomez said in a June 29 open letter to Catholics, in Spanish and English, that appears at, the online news platform of the Los Angeles Archdiocese. He addresses the recent controversies in California surrounding public monuments to St. Junipero Serra, "the Apostle of California." On June 19 a statue of the saint in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park was toppled and desecrated. A Serra statue in the plaza outside Nuestra Senora Reina de los Angeles in downtown Los Angeles also was torn down. The nation may reach a consensus not to honor historical figures, Archbishop Gomez said, but "elected officials cannot abdicate their responsibilities by turning these decisions over to small groups of protesters, allowing them to vandalize public monuments."

    San Francisco archbishop leads prayer, blesses site of toppled Serra statue

    SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) -- Several dozen people joined San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone as he led the rosary June 27 and recited the prayer of St. Michael the Archangel for protection from evil at the site of the now-toppled statue of St. Junipero Serra in the city's Golden Gate Park. The archbishop prayed for forgiveness and healing about a week after the statue of the saint and statues of others, including Ulysses S. Grant, were defaced and thrown off their pedestals, as part of a protest against racial inequality. Archbishop Cordileone describe the Serra statue as "blasphemously torn down. An act of sacrilege occurred here. That is an act of the evil one. Evil has made itself present here," he said in a YouTube video. "So we have gathered together to pray to God and to ask the saints for their intercession, above all our Blessed Mother, in an act of reparation, asking God's mercy upon us, upon our whole city, that we might turn our hearts back to him." He led the group in praying the rosary, "as Our Lady asks us," the archbishop said. "Our Lady is always asking us to pray the rosary, asking her intercession. The rosary has the power to change history. History has shown that it can change the course of history." After the rosary, he offered "the prayer of exorcism, the St. Michael Prayer, because evil is present here," he said.

    Kenya to demolish Catholic hospital to reclaim forest land

    NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) -- St. Mary's Mission Hospital is one of the structures marked for demolition in a Kenyan government move to repossess illegally acquired Ngong forest land. Since 2017, the hospital has been run by the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi, who won a six-year legal battle over its control. Before that, it was run by former Maryknoll Father William Fryda. "The issue of the hospital having been built on public forest land came up about five years ago, but since the matter was in court, it could not be resolved then. I think the church and the nuns are aware of it," Father Joachim Omollo Ouko, an Apostle of Jesus priest who is familiar with the facility, told Catholic News Service. On June 26, Keriako Tobiko, Kenya's secretary for the environment, said the government would repossess all land held by illegal developers inside the forest where the hospital stands. "Except the areas that were lawfully degazetted, all other parcels of this forest whether people have titles or not, whether they have built structures for business or residential houses, will be reclaimed," said Tobiko.

    A month after historic flood, Michigan Catholics still stepping up to help

    MIDLAND, Mich. (CNS) -- Midland and the surrounding areas of Sanford and Edenville were already suffering from the effects of COVID-19 when another catastrophe struck May 19. Although the mid-Michigan communities are no strangers to flooding, the historic breach of the Edenville and Sanford dams caused the worst flash flood in more than a century, forcing more than 10,000 people to evacuate their homes. In response to the devastation, the area's Catholic parishes, which are part of the Diocese of Saginaw, say they've witnessed -- and been a part of -- a community recovery effort that has seen parishioners and citizens alike relying on one another for support, from food assistance to disaster cleanup to spiritual support. "Individuals are helping individuals," said Father Daniel Fox, pastor of Our Lady of Grace Parish, which includes St. Agnes Church in Sanford and St. Anne Church in Edenville. Father Fox said many parishioners were hit hard by the flooding, and some were displaced from their homes, but other parishioners with means to help have risen to the occasion. Some have volunteered their time daily to helping clean up downtown Sanford, even those who have been personally affected by the devastation, Father Fox said. Others have donated financial resources, helping the parish give away tens of thousands of dollars in relief aid.

    Update: Court's abortion ruling continues 'cruel precedent,' says bishop

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In a 5-4 decision June 29, the Supreme Court ruled that a Louisiana law requiring that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals could not stand. The opinion in June Medical Services v. Russo, written by Justice Stephen Breyer, said the case was "similar to, nearly identical with" a law in Texas that the court four years ago found to be a burden to women seeking abortion. Breyer was joined in the opinion by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Breyer said the Louisiana law was unconstitutional because it posed a "substantial obstacle" for women seeking abortions while providing "no significant health-related benefits." The Texas case, Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, struck down the law with a different bench without Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. In the Louisiana case, Chief Justice John Roberts filed an opinion concurring with the judgment of the four justices voting to strike down this law. "The court's failure to recognize the legitimacy of laws prioritizing women's health and safety over abortion business interests continues a cruel precedent," said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the bishops' pro-life committee.

    Online forum offers tools, self-help resources for coping during shutdown

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Due to the coronavirus, the structures society once found comfort in have been shaken, and as time progresses with the end still nowhere in sight, people's resilience may be wavering. Right now, the challenge is overcoming the internal battles brought on by this global trauma, said two therapists on the team of Souls and Hearts, an online forum "developed to meet the needs of practicing Catholics who struggle with the everyday challenges of life." Bridging the gap between mental health as a spiritual issue and mental health as a secular issue can be difficult, and that is the goal of the forum. Peter Malinoski, president and co-founder of Souls and Hearts and a clinical psychologist, defines conditions such as depression and anxiety not as disorders but symptoms of greater issues. Having good mental health, according to Malinoski, is "being well integrated. That means that we know who we are and that we're aware of what's going on within us; that our emotions are connected to our thoughts, which are connected to how we experience our body," said Malinoski in an interview with the Catholic News Service. As a practicing Catholic, Malinoski believes the disconnect will inevitably affect one's relationship with God. "There's no sort of relational issue that a person has that's not going to be reflected in some way in that person's relationship with God. And so, by healing that, relational issue that that a particular person has, we then open up that person to be able to relate with God very differently."

    100 years after canonization, Joan of Arc remains a symbol for many

    ORLEANS, France (CNS) -- This year, the church celebrates the 100th anniversary of the canonization of St. Joan of Arc, a 15th-century peasant who is one of the most enduring female symbols in Western culture. For several decades, she was associated with the French nationalist right. However, her image now transcends political divisions. In Orleans, south of Paris, Joan of Arc is hailed as the liberator of the city. Statues, hotels, a church, a house, a high school, and shops are named after her. A square is named after Domremy, her native village. St. Joan was born around 1412. At the age of 13, she repeatedly heard voices that gave her the mission to liberate France from the English invader in the Hundred Years' War. Introduced to the court of the Dauphin Charles VII, the teen was sent in 1428 to the siege of Orleans with a supply battalion, where her arrival brought a new energy. She took the initiative to write a letter to the British ordering them to leave Orleans. A week after her arrival, the British lifted the siege. She then persuaded the Dauphin to go to Rheims, in Burgundy territory, to be crowned king of France. Wounded while trying to liberate Paris, Joan of Arc continued to fight locally, but without as much success. In 1430, she was captured by the Burgundians at Compiegne and was sold to the British for 10,000 pounds. They took her to Rouen and entrusted her to Bishop Pierre Cauchon of Beauvais, one of the French advisers to the dual monarchy. Condemned for heresy, she was burned at the stake May 30,1431, at the age of 19.

    'Black lives matter!' says Las Vegas bishop in pastoral on racism

    LAS VEGAS (CNS) -- The "tragic death" of George Floyd, an African American killed while in the custody of a white police officer, "has torn the scab away from the gaping wound of racism that still infects communities across the globe," said Bishop George L. Thomas of Las Vegas. He made the comments in a pastoral letter, "When Words Fall Short: A Pastoral Letter on Racism," issued June 10. "What is needed in this critical moment is a genuine conversion of heart and a commitment to renew our communities," Bishop Thomas said. "The words of Pope Francis ring true in our hearts: 'Let no one think that this invitation is not meant for him or her.'" Bishop Thomas was direct in the pastoral letter. "This time, words, chants, prayers and placards, however necessary and sincere, will not be enough to satisfy the hue and cry of the people. We want real evidence of real change," he said. "We are a church that holds that all life is sacred, from the moment of conception until natural death. Under the banner of Catholic social teaching, we say with resounding voices, 'Yes! Black lives matter!'" The bishop frequently cited both Catholic social teaching and the U.S. bishops' 2018 document, "Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love -- A Pastoral Letter Against Racism," in his own pastoral letter.

    Federal judge blocks limits de Blasio, Cuomo put on religious gatherings

    ALBANY, N.Y. (CNS) -- A federal judge June 26 blocked New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo from enforcing state restrictions on outdoor and indoor religious gatherings that are stricter than those imposed on comparable secular gatherings, such as the ongoing protests over racial injustice. In his injunction, Senior Judge Gary L. Sharpe of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York in Albany ruled that de Blasio, Cuomo and New York Attorney General Letitia James could not enforce any indoor gathering limitations against plaintiffs greater than those imposed on various businesses during the state's Phase 2 plan for reopening as the pandemic subsides. In his order, Sharpe noted that offices, retail stores, salons and restaurants -- all now permitted to open at 50% capacity indoors -- involve the congregating of people for a length of time. Churches were limited to 25% capacity indoors. Sharpe also said that provided the plaintiffs in the case adhere to the city and state's social-distancing requirements, the government cannot enforce any limitation for outdoor gatherings. The plaintiffs were two Catholic priests from upstate New York, Fathers Steven Soos and Nicholas Stamos, members of the breakaway Society of St. Pius X, and three Orthodox Jewish congregants from Brooklyn, New York. They all argued the size limits violated their First Amendment rights to practice their religion.

    During pandemic, Nairobi nuns expand their reach

    NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) -- Normally, the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood feed about 200 children in Nairobi's informal settlements of Kawangware and Riruta. But with the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, the sisters are expanding their reach. "We are using the telephone contacts of the children to reach these poor and needy families," Precious Blood Sister Grace Njau told Catholic News Service during a mid-June distribution. The sisters set up distribution tents outside Amani Rehabilitation Center/Primary School, where the children normally go for breakfast and lunch. When a name was called out, a parent or guardian would step forward to collect the packaged assorted items, gathered from donors. About 14 families received food that day. Esther Njeri, a single mother, told CNS upon receiving her share: "I am happy with our sisters ... through our children, they have fed the entire family. May the good Lord bless where this has come from."

    Pope asks prayers for Syria, Yemen, Ukraine

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- With the coronavirus pandemic continuing, Pope Francis asked people to also remember the ongoing crises in Syria and Yemen, and he offered prayers to the thousands of people in western Ukraine suffering the effects of violent flooding. After reciting the Angelus prayer June 28 with visitors in St. Peter's Square, the pope noted that June 30, the European Union and the United Nations were to hold their fourth conference on "supporting the future of Syria and the region." Because of the pandemic, the conference was to be held virtually. A statement from the EU said that "with the conflict entering its 10th year, the situation in Syria and the region remains highly critical: the dire humanitarian situation, with millions of Syrians internally displaced and having sought refuge in Syria's neighboring countries, is now being further compounded by the consequences of COVID-19 pandemic." Pope Francis asked Catholics to "pray for this important meeting, so that it may improve the dramatic situation of the Syrian people and neighboring peoples, particularly Lebanon, in the context of serious sociopolitical and economic crises that have been made even more difficult by the pandemic."

    Pope at pallium Mass: World needs to pray more, complain less

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Some people always will want to destroy unity and stifle prophets, Pope Francis said on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. And yet, Jesus challenges everyone to be -- like Peter -- a rock for building a renewed church and renewed humanity, and -- like Paul -- a missionary who brings the Gospel to others, he said during a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica June 29. People also need to complain less and pray more, especially for those who govern, the pope said. People must ask themselves whether they "simply talk and do nothing" because God wants people to pray and "be mindful of those who do not think as we do, those who have slammed the door in our face, those whom we find it hard to forgive." The feast day celebration in St. Peter's Basilica was markedly different from other years because of ongoing restrictions in place to stem the spread of COVID-19. Normally archbishops appointed over the course of the previous year would have been invited to concelebrate the feast day Mass with the pope and watch as he blessed their palliums, woolen bands worn around their shoulders.

    No true love without the cross, pope says at Angelus

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- True love is not defined by preserving one's personal interests but by willingness to sacrifice oneself for the good of others, Pope Francis said. In order to follow Christ's call to take up the cross and follow him, Christians must take the same path he did "without looking for shortcuts," the pope said June 28 before praying the Angelus with pilgrims in St. Peter's Square. "There is no true love without the cross, that is, without a personal price to pay," he said. "And when borne with Jesus, the cross is not scary because he is always at our side to support us in the hour of the most difficult trial, to give us strength and courage. Nor is it necessary to get agitated to preserve one's own life through fearful or egotistical behavior." In his address, the pope reflected on the Sunday Gospel reading from St. Matthew, in which Jesus tells his disciples that whoever loves father, mother, son or daughter "more than me is not worthy of me." Whoever "does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it," Jesus said.

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