Event with Saint Gianna Molla’s daughter October 28; Topic is end-of-life care

SAINT PAUL - A number of organizations, including the Minnesota Catholic Conference, (the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota), are giving Minnesota Catholics a graced opportunity: the chance to hear from the daughter of a canonized saint, St. Gianna Beretta Molla, on an issue of critical importance.


Dr. Gianna Emanuela Molla, daughter of St. Gianna, will be the keynote at the "Take My Hand, Not My Life" symposium, a discussion concerning end-of-life care.

Dr. Molla, who practiced as a geriatrician in her local Italy before giving up her career to take care of her aging father, will share from her professional and personal experience on the unexpected joy to be found in caring for another.

She and a number of local speakers will offer a positive Catholic response to the ongoing end-of-life care conversation -- especially timely in Minnesota, as legislation to legalize assisted suicide has been introduced here. 

DATE: Sunday, October 28, 2017
SCHEDULE: 

  • 8:00 AM - Mass at St. Mary's Chapel (Saint Paul Seminary)

  • 8:45 AM - 12:30 PM - Continental Breakfast and Symposium in Woulfe Alumni Hall in the Anderson Student Center (Anderson Student Center)

LOCATION: University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota
COST: $25 per person. Learn more and register.

Healthcare in Minnesota A Symposium Considering Contemporary Challenges

Healthcare reform. The opioid crisis. Gender theory.

These are just some of the emerging challenges on the healthcare landscape in Minnesota about which Catholics should be aware.

Join Minnesota's bishops, expert speakers, and Catholic healthcare professionals from across Minnesota for this timely and edifying conversation on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, 9 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. at the University of St. Thomas, Anderson Student Center - Woulfe Alumni Hall, 2115 Summit Ave., St. Paul.

Speakers include:

  • Sr. Renee Mirkes, OSF - Pope Paul VI Institute
  • Sally Satel - American Enterprise Institute
  • Meghan Goodwin - U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)
  • Fr. John Stabeno - Catholic Charities (Diocese of Camden, NJ)
  • State legislators and local experts

There is no cost to attend (although free-will donations are gratefully accepted). Registration is required, as seating is limited. TO REGISTER click here.

Co-sponsored by the Minnesota Catholic Conference and theCatholic Health Association of Minnesota .

‘They killed a man, but they created a saint’ - Archbishop Flynn, others describe Father Rother’s life, legacy and Minnesota ties ahead of Sept. 23 beatification

Editor's Note: On Dec. 2, 2016, Pope Francis recognized the martyrdom of Fr. Stanley Rother, a priest of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma.This month, on Sept. 23 in Oklahoma City, the Beatification of Fr. Rother will take place. This is a tremendous blessing for Oklahoma and for the United States. Fr. Rother is the first U.S.-born priest to receive this recognition and it will be only the second beatification ever held in the United States.
 

By Maria Wiering (Sept. 13, 2017 - The Catholic Spirit)

Archbishop Harry Flynn was rector of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, when he got a call in 1979 from an old friend from seminary, asking if he could visit for a week. That friend was Father Stanley Rother, a priest of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and a missionary in a rural part of Guatemala.

He picked up Father Rother from Dulles airport and was appalled by the horrific situation the priest described in Guatemala. Members of his congregation had “disappeared” and were presumed dead, victims of a civil war between the government and guerilla groups.

“If they asked for a few more cents for picking coffee beans, they were considered communists, and a truck would come into the village that night, stop at the home of the man or woman who asked for a few more cents, take them out to the country, torture them, kill them, and then throw their bodies into a well to poison that well,” Archbishop Flynn said.

Father Rother described the situation “with a passion,” Archbishop Flynn recalled. “It was haunting him. He said, ‘If I speak, they’ll kill me, but if keep silent, what kind of a shepherd would I be?’”

The friends shared meals together that week, but Father Rother spent his days praying at the seminary’s historic Lourdes grotto, a place he had loved while he and Archbishop Flynn were seminarians at “the Mount.” At the end of the week, he told then-Father Flynn, “I know what I must do. I must go back and speak.”

“But,” Archbishop Flynn recalled, “he also said this: ‘They’re not going to take me out and kill me somewhere in the country and then throw my body into a well.’ He said, ‘I’ll put up a fight like they’ve never seen before.’”

Archbishop Flynn took Father Rother to the airport and said goodbye. He knew it would be the last time he would see him alive. Two years later, Archbishop Flynn opened a newspaper to read that an American priest had been killed in Guatemala. He didn’t have to read further to know it was Father Rother.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

 

 

Council of Cardinals says more youth, women needed in Roman Curia

by Elise Harris

Vatican City, (EWTN News/CNA) – One of the key talking points in the latest round of meetings for the Pope's Council of Cardinals was the selection of personnel in the Roman Curia, with an emphasis on making it more international, and with a higher number of young people and women.

The cardinals gathered for the 21st time in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace from Sept. 11-13 to discuss the ongoing reform of the Roman Curia.

Commonly referred to as the “C9,” the group was established by Pope Francis after his election as Bishop of Rome in 2013 to advise him in matters of Church governance and reform.

Absent from this week's meetings were Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa and Cardinal George Pell, Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.

In comments to journalists during a Sept. 13 press briefing, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said that as of now, no one is stepping in for Cardinal Pell during his leave of absence while facing charges for abuse in Australia.

Pope Francis himself was absent for the first day of meetings due to his recent trip to Colombia, but was present for the rest of the sessions apart from Wednesday morning, when he was at the weekly general audience.

In addition to reviewing the status of previous proposals given to the Pope regarding the reform of the Curia, members also took time for a special reflection on past speeches Francis has given on the topic.

Texts examined in the previous round of meetings, which took place in June, included proposals for the dicasteries for Interreligious Dialogue, Eastern Churches, Legislative Texts, and the three courts of the Roman Curia: the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Apostolic Signatura, and the Roman Rota.

Led by Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, the reflection focused primarily on the speeches given by the Pope during his annual Christmas audiences with the Roman Curia, the consistories of February and October 2015, and his speech for the 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops in 2015.

In his comments to the press, Burke said specific themes discussed by the cardinals were the role of the Curia as “an instrument of evangelization and service for the Pope and the local Churches,” decentralization, the role of apostolic nunciatures, and the “selection and competence” of curial personnel.

Specifically, Burke said four points were brought up in regards to Curia personnel -- that the Curia be “less clerical, more international” and that there is “an increase in young people and women” among their ranks.

The role of young people, laity, and women is something Pope Francis has emphasized strongly throughout his pontificate, as is the need for a more international Church that is less “Euro-centric.”

In fact, the laity, youth, and women were key groups Francis brought up to the bishops of Latin America in his audience with CELAM during his visit to Colombia, in which he said they are the faces of hope on the continent.

In his speech to the Curia Dec. 22, 2016, which is among the texts reflected on by the C9, Pope Francis said that when it comes to curial officials, “in addition to priests and consecrated persons, the catholicity of the Church must be reflected in the hiring of personnel from throughout the world.”

This “catholicity” must also be reflected in the presence of “permanent deacons and lay faithful carefully selected on the basis of their unexceptionable spiritual and moral life and their professional competence,” he said.

In this view, “it is fitting to provide for the hiring of greater numbers of the lay faithful, especially in those dicasteries where they can be more competent than clerics or consecrated persons.”

He also stressed that “of great importance is an enhanced role for women and lay people in the life of the Church and their integration into roles of leadership in the dicasteries, with particular attention to multiculturalism.”

In addition to curial personnel, the cardinals also discussed Pope Francis' recent motu proprio Magnum principium, which gave more power to local bishops in the translation and approval of liturgical texts, and its implications for the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, also addressed the group, speaking about updates in his dicastery.

Later this afternoon, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, will address the group on the latest work of the dicastery, which was a focus of June's meetings.

The cardinals also re-read the statutes of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, which was established in 2016, and is headed by Cardinal Kevin Farrell.

Cardinal Farrell also made an appearance at the C9 meetings, and gave his fellow prelates an update on the dicastery's work. Cardinal Sean O'Malley also briefed the group on the most recent work of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which he was tapped to lead in 2014.

Cardinal O'Malley is slated to meet with the Pope individually later this afternoon. In response to journalists, Burke said the meeting would naturally involve the commission's work, but would also touch on other topics.

The Council of Cardinals' next round of meetings is set to take place Dec. 11-13.

The brutal, powerful 9/11 stories of Catholic priests

By Adelaide Mena

This article was originally published on CNA Sept. 11, 2016.

New York City, N.Y., Sep 11, 2017 / 12:20 pm (CNA/EWTN News) - On the clear, sunny morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Fr. Kevin Madigan heard an explosion overhead.

He grabbed oils for anointing, ran out the door of St. Peter's parish in New York City, and wandered towards the center of the commotion – the World Trade Center only a block away.

Fifty blocks uptown, Fr. Christopher Keenan, OFM watched with the world as the smoke rising from the twin towers darkened the television screen. Looking to help, he went to St. Vincent's Hospital downtown to tend to those wounded in the attack – but the victims never came.

All the while, he wondered what had happened to a brother friar assigned as chaplain to the firefighters of New York City: Fr. Mychal Judge, OFM, named by some the “Saint of 9/11.”

Sixteen years ago on this day, hijackers flew planes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. In a field in southern Pennsylvania, passengers retook control of the cockpit and crashed the plane before it could reach its intended target, presumed to be in Washington, D.C.  

The consequences of the attacks have rippled throughout the United States as the attacks spurred a new global war on terror and irreversibly changed the country’s outlook on terror, security, and international engagement.

For Fr. Madigan, Fr. Keenan and Fr. Judge, the day changed their own lives and ministries, as a pastor lost nearly his entire congregation, and a friar put himself in harm's way to take on a new position – an assignment he only received because another friar gave the ultimate sacrifice as the Twin Towers came down.

“This experience has seared our soul and our spirit and our life, and it has so seared our spirit and our life that it has penetrated our DNA,” Fr. Keenan told CNA.  

“It has changed our lives and we will never be the same,” he said.

It was like losing a village

On Sept. 11, 2001, Fr. Kevin Madigan had been assigned to St. Peter’s Church in the financial district of Lower Manhattan. The parish is the oldest Catholic Church in New York State, “half a block literally from the corner of the World Trade Center,” Fr. Madigan explained to CNA.

“Prior to 9/11 it was a parish that basically serviced the people who came to the neighborhood who came to Mass or Confession, devotions and things like that.” The parish had a full and well-attended schedule of liturgies and prayers, with multiple Masses said during the morning and lunch hour. September 11th changed that.

“Immediately after 9/11, that community was no longer there, because it was like losing a village of 40,000 people next door.”  

Fr. Madigan was leaving the sanctuary that morning, heading back to the rectory when overhead he heard the first plane hit the towers. Immediately he made his way towards the commotion, looking to minister to anyone who had been hurt by what had happened.  

“I took the oils for anointing anyone who was dying – I didn’t know what was going on there,” he said. However, most of those fleeing the building did not need anointing, Fr. Madigan recalled. “Most people either got out alive or were dead. There weren’t that many people who were in that in-between area.”

Then, there was another explosion from the other tower, and an object – the wheel of an airplane, in fact – went whizzing by Fr. Madigan’s head.

 

“After the second plane hit I went back to the office and made sure all the staff got out of there fast,” evacuating staff who were unaware of the chaos outside.

Fr. Madigan was back on the street when firefighters began to wonder if the towers might fall.

Thinking it ridiculous, Fr. Madigan kept an eye on a nearby subway entrance, which linked to an underground passage north of the towers. Then, a massive cloud of dust swept towards Fr. Madigan and another priest as the towers did collapse; they ducked into the subway station, emerging amidst the thick smoke and dust several blocks away.

After the towers came down, Fr. Madigan made his way first to the hospital for an emergency health screening, then back to check on St. Peter’s. While he was away from his parish, firefighters and other first responders made use of the sanctuary, temporarily laying to rest over 30 bodies recovered from the wreckage.

The death of Father Mychal

In September of 2001, Fr. Christopher Keenan had been assigned to work with a community ministry program near the parish of St. Francis in midtown Manhattan. At St. Francis, he lived in community along with several other Franciscan Friars, including an old friend he had known for years – Fr. Mychal Judge, chaplain for the Fire Department of New York City. Through Fr. Judge, the Friars became especially close with some of their neighbors at a firehouse across the street, who let the friars park their car at the firehouse.

Although the plane flew overhead, Fr. Keenan told CNA that “like everyone else, we found out while watching TV.” As the friars and brothers watched the events unfold on the television, they saw the second plane hit the South Tower; Fr. Keenan decided to go to St. Vincent’s Hospital – one of the closest medical facilities to the Word Trade Center. At the time, he thought there would be injured people who would need to be anointed or would like someone to hear their confession.

However, once he got to St. Vincent’s he found a long line of doctors, nurses and other responders who had come to help: together they “were all waiting for these people to get out who never came.” Victims were either largely able to walk away on their own, or they never made it to the hospital at all.

Instead, Fr. Keenan told CNA, “my responsibility was after people were treated to contact their family members to come and get them.”

As patients began to go home, Fr. Keenan continued to wonder about his brother friar, Fr. Judge, asking firefighters if they knew what had happened to the chaplain. Fr. Keenan left the hospital in the early evening to go hear confessions, but stopped at the firehouse across the street to ask the firemen if they knew where Fr. Judge was: “they told me his body was in the back of the firehouse.”

The mere fact that his body was intact and present at the firehouse that day was in itself a small miracle, Fr. Keenan said. “Mychal's body that was brought out was one of the only bodies that was intact, recognizable and viewable,” he said. Among those that died in the Twin Towers, he continued, “everyone was vaporized, pulverized and cremated” by the heat of the fire in the towers and the violence of the towers’ collapse. “He was one of the only ones able to be brought out and to be brought home.”

That morning, Fr. Judge had gone along with Battalion 1 to answer a call in a neighborhood close to the Trade Center. Also with the battalion were two French filmmakers filming a documentary on the fire unit. When the towers were hit, the Battalion was one of the first to arrive on the scene. In the film released by the brothers, Fr. Keenan said, “you can see his face and you can tell he knows what’s happening and his lips are moving and you can tell he’s praying his rosary.”

The group entered the lobby of the North Tower and stood in the Mezzanine as the South Tower collapsed – spraying glass, debris and dust throughout the building.

“All the debris roared through the glass mezzanine like a roaring train and his body happened to be blown into the escalators,” Fr. Keenan relayed the experience eyewitnesses told him. In the impact, Fr. Judge hit his head on a piece of debris, killing him almost instantly.  

“All of a sudden they feel something at their feet and it was Mychal, but he was gone.“

Members of the fire department, police department and other first responders carried Fr. Judge’s body out of the wreckage, putting his body down first to run as the second tower collapsed, then again to temporarily rest it at St. Peter’s Church. Members of the fire department brought it back to the firehouse where Fr. Keenan saw his friend and prayed over his body.

Fr. Mychal Judge was later listed as Victim 0001 – the first death certificate processed on 9/11.

Despite the sudden and unexpected nature of the attacks, Fr. Keenan told CNA that in the weeks before his friend’s death, Fr. Judge had a sense his death was near.

“He just had a sense that the Lord Jesus was coming.” On several occasions, Fr. Keenan said, Fr. Judge had told him, “You know, Chrissy, the Lord will be coming for me,” and made other references to his death.

“He had a sense that the Lord was coming for him.”

The grueling aftermath

“There was no playbook for how you deal with something in the wake of something like that,” Fr. Madigan said of the aftermath of 9/11. Personally, Fr. Madigan told CNA, he was well-prepared spiritually and mentally for the senseless nature of the attacks.   

“I understand that innocent people get killed tragically all the time,” he said, noting that while the scale was larger and hit so close to home, “life goes on.” For many others that he ministered to, however, “it did shake their foundations, their trust and belief in God.”  

While the attacks changed the focus of his ministry as a parish priest at the time, they also posed logistical challenges for ministry and aid: St. Peter’s usual congregation of people who worked in and around the World Trade Center vanished nearly overnight. Instead, the whole area was cordoned off for rescue workers and recovery activities as the city began the long task of sorting and removing the debris and rubble.

In addition, a small chapel named St. Joseph's Chapel, which was cared for and administered by St. Peter’s, was used by FEMA workers as a base for recovery activities during the weeks after the attack. During that time, the sanctuary was damaged and several structures of the chapel, including the pulpit, chairs and interior were rendered unusable. According to Fr. Madigan, FEMA denies that it ever used the space.

Still, the priests at St. Peter's saw it as their duty to minister to those that were there – whoever they were.

 

“The parish, the church building itself was open that whole time,” he said, saying that anyone who had clearance to be within the Ground Zero area was welcome at the church. In the weeks after the attacks, the parish acted as sanctuary, as recovery workers who were discovering body parts and other personal effects “would come in there just to sort of try to get away from that space.”

“Myself and one of the other priests would be out there each day just to be able to talk to anyone who wants to talk about what’s going on,” he added. “We'd celebrate Mass in a building nearby.”

Today, Fr. Madigan has been reassigned to another parish in uptown Manhattan, and St. Peter’s now has found a new congregation as new residents have moved into the neighborhoods surrounding the former World Trade Center site.

Only two months after the attack, Fr. Keenan took on the role of his old friend, Fr. Judge: he was installed as chaplain for the 14,000 first responders of the the FDNY.

Immediately, Fr. Keenan joined the firefighters in their task of looking for the remains – even the most minute fragments – of the more than 2,600 people killed at the World Trade Center. “The rest of the recovery process then was for nine months trying to find the remains.”  

For the firefighters in particular, there was a drive to find the remains of the 343 firefighters killed at the World Trade Center and help bring closure to the family members. “You always bring your brother home, you never leave them on the battlefield,” Fr. Keenan said.

The resulting amount of work, as well as the “intense” tradition among firefighters to attend all funerals for members killed in the line of duty meant that the job became all-consuming, with all one’s spare time spent at the World Trade Center site. Sometimes, Fr. Keenan said, he would attend as many as four, five, or six funerals or memorials a day – and many families held a second funeral if body parts were recovered from the site.

“Here are the guys, overtime, going to all the funerals, working spare time on the site looking for recovery, and taking care of the families,” he said. “I was 24/7, 365 for 26 months.”

In addition, Fr. Keenan and the rest of the FDNY worked inside “this incredible toxic brew” of smoke, chemicals and fires that burned among the ruins at Ground Zero for months.  

“I would be celebrating Mass at 10:00 on a Sunday morning down there,” he recalled, “and just 30 feet from where I’m celebrating Mass at the cross, the cranes are lifting up the steel.”

While both buildings had contained more than 200 floors of offices, there was “not a trace of a computer, telephones, files, nothing. Everything was totally decimated.” Instead, all that was left was steel, dirt and the chemicals feeding the fires that smouldered underground in the footprint of the towers.

“The cranes are lifting up the steel and the air is feeding the fires underneath, and out of that is coming these incredible colors of yellow, black and green smoke, and we all worked in the recovery process.” The experience working the recovery at the World Trade Center site is one that Fr. Keenan considers a “gift” and an “honor.”

“It was an incredible experience really,” he said.

Fr. Keenan recounted a conversation the firefighters had with him a few days after he was commissioned. After pledging to “offer my life to protect the people and property of New York City,” the other firefighters told their new chaplain “we know you’re ours, don’t you forget that every one of us is yours,” promising to stand by their new shepherd. “I’m the most loved and cared for person in the world and who has it better than me?”

While the formal recovery process has ended and a new tower, One World Trade Center, stands just yards from the original site of Ground Zero, the experience – and the chemicals rescue workers came in contact with for months – still affect the firefighters.

In 2016 alone, “we put 17 new names on the wall,” said Fr. Keenan, “who died this past year from of the effects of 9/11.” He explained that in the years following the attack, thousands of rescuers and first responders – including Fr. Keenan himself, have developed different cancers and illnesses linked to their exposure at the World Trade Center site. In fact, at the time of the interview in 2016, Fr. Keenan had just returned from a screening for the more than 20 toxic chemicals the responders were exposed to. He warned that the “different cancers and the lung problems that are emerging are just the tip of the iceberg,” and worried that as time progressed, other cancers and illnesses linked to the attack recovery would emerge.

The first responders are also dealing with the psychological fallout of the attacks among themselves, Fr. Keenan said, though many are dealing with it in their own way, and with one another.

Looking back, Fr. Keenan told CNA he still finds it difficult to express the experience to others or to make sense of what it was like when he would go down into “the pit” to work alongside the firefighters and other first responders. “The only image I had as time went on and I asked ‘how do I make sense of this as a man of faith?’ is that it was like I was descending into hell and I was seeing the face of God on the people that were there.”

The same image had come to his mind to make sense of taking care of patients with AIDS in the 1990s he said, even though nothing can fully make sense of events like these.

“I was like a midwife to people in their birthing process from life to death to new life,” he recalled. “All I can do is be present there, they have to do the work, I can be present there I can pray with them.”

“That’s how in faith I kind of sort of comprehended it.”

 

Statement regarding Fr. James Devorak

NEW ULM - The Glencoe Police Department has completed its investigation into a sexual misconduct allegation against Fr. James Devorak and no charges will be filed. Fr. Devorak cooperated fully with the investigation and has denied any wrongdoing. The police officer in charge of the investigation states that he closed the investigation because there was no evidence to substantiate the allegation made against Fr. Devorak.

Fr. Devorak’s ministry status will be considered by the New Ulm Diocesan Review Board. Fr. Devorak, who is a retired priest of the Diocese of New Ulm, was removed from public ministry when the allegation was revealed earlier this summer. It is standard procedure for the Diocese of New Ulm to remove clergy from ministry if an allegation against them has been received.

 

 

A Call for Solidarity with Our Brothers and Sisters Impacted by Hurricane Harvey

WASHINGTON - United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) president, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, has called for prayers and solidarity with those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.  Cardinal DiNardo also called on all people of good will to closely monitor future calls for assistance for victims and survivors in the days ahead.

Cardinal DiNardo’s full Aug. 27, 2017 statement follows.

“Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast in a catastrophic and devastating way this weekend, bringing with it severe flooding and high winds which have taken human life, caused countless injuries, and severely damaged homes and property throughout the region.  The effects of this storm continue to put people in harm’s way, with horrific scenes playing out all around, such as those of people trapped on their rooftops as water continues to rise around them.  Many dioceses of the Church in the United States have been affected; many others will be as the storm continues.

As the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, this crisis hits very close to home.  In solidarity with my brother bishops in this area of the country, I call on people of faith to pray for all of those who have been impacted by this Hurricane, and I ask people of good will to stand with the victims and their families. May God, the Lord of mercy and compassion, protect all who are still in danger, and bring to safety those who are missing.  May He care in a special way for those who were already homeless, or without support and resources, before this disaster.  We pray in thanksgiving for the first responders who are risking their lives to save others at this very moment.  We include in our intentions the everyday heroes reaching out to help their neighbors in need, those who, like the Good Samaritan, cannot walk by a person in need without offering their hand in aid.

The USCCB is working closely with affected local dioceses, Catholic Charities USA and St. Vincent de Paul, along with other relief organizations, to assess the needs on the ground.  In the next couple of days, we will share more about the best ways to assist those in the Gulf region with material needs based on the latest information we can gather.  May God bless you and your families this day and always.”

Statement by Diocese of New Ulm concerning Fr. Sam Wagner

The Diocese of New Ulm is aware that the police have suspended their investigation into allegations against Fr. Sam Wagner without charges being filed. The Diocese cooperated fully during the six-month-long investigation conducted by the New Ulm Police Department.

The Diocese takes any allegations of clergy misconduct very seriously, regardless of whether they result in charges. Fr. Wagner remains on leave from public ministry pending a final determination of his status by the Clergy Review Board.

The Diocese asks that all those involved be kept in prayer.

U.S. Bishops Establish New Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism

Bishops act to address the sin of racism and seek solutions

Bishop George V. Murry, SJ of Youngstown, Ohio has been named Chair of the New Committee

Included statement from Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo on the establishment of the Committee

WASHINGTON — The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops today announced the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism. Initiated by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the USCCB, the committee will focus on addressing the sin of racism in our society, and even in our Church, and the urgent need to come together as a society to find solutions.

"Recent events have exposed the extent to which the sin of racism continues to afflict our nation. The establishment of this new ad hoc committee will be wholly dedicated to engaging the Church and our society to work together in unity to challenge the sin of racism, to listen to persons who are suffering under this sin, and to come together in the love of Christ to know one another as brothers and sisters," says Cardinal DiNardo.   

Bishop George V. Murry, SJ of Youngstown, Ohio has been appointed by Cardinal DiNardo as Chairman of the committee. The membership of the committee will be finalized in the coming days and its mandate will be confirmed at the first meeting, expected very shortly.

"I look forward to working with my brother bishops as well as communities across the United States to listen to the needs of individuals who have suffered under the sin of racism and together find solutions to this epidemic of hate that has plagued our nation for far too long," says Bishop Murry. "Through Jesus' example of love and mercy, we are called to be a better people than what we have witnessed over the past weeks and months as a nation. Through listening, prayer and meaningful collaboration, I'm hopeful we can find lasting solutions and common ground where racism will no longer find a place in our hearts or in our society."

The new ad hoc committee has been formed upon the unanimous recommendation of the U.S. Bishops Conference Executive Committee and in consultation with members of the USCCB's Committee on Priorities and Plans. The establishment of the committee will also welcome and support the implementation of the pastoral letter on racism anticipated for release in 2018. The formation of the ad hoc committee also follows the conclusion of the work of the Peace in Our Communities Task Force. The Task Force was formed in July 2016 by then USCCB President, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, in response to racially-related shootings in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis and Dallas.

Almost 40 years ago, the Bishops of the United States wrote a Pastoral Letter on Racism. Among the many things, they discussed was the fact that "Racism is a sin: a sin that divides the human family, blots out the image of God among specific members of that family, and violates the fundamental human dignity of those called to be children of the same Father."

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WASHINGTON - On August 23, 2017, Cardinal DiNardo, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, released a statement upon the establishment of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism. Following is the August 23 Statement:

In His Image

As Sacred Scripture teaches, each one of us is made in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26-27). The mission of the Church is to teach and to witness to the intrinsic dignity of the human person. Marches by hate groups such as the KKK and Neo-Nazis are outrageous to the sensible mind and directly challenge the dignity of human life. It is time for us to recommit ourselves to eradicating racism.

Last week, after the evil events in Charlottesville, I convened various consultations with bodies of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Based on that consultation, I am today announcing the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism. I am grateful to Bishop George V. Murry, SJ of Youngstown for accepting the chairmanship of this Ad Hoc Committee.  Bishop Murry will speak more on the mandate of the Committee at the press event later today.

Prejudice can lurk unnoticed in the soul. Without prayerful reflection, it can feed on the fear of what is different. It can grow into overt racism. But self-reflection is not enough. It must lead to action. May the work of the USCCB serve as a call to conversion for those hiding behind white hoods and Nazi symbols. The vile chants of violence against African Americans and other people of color, the Jewish people, immigrants, and others offend our faith, but unite our resolve. Let us not allow the forces of hate to deny the intrinsic dignity of every human person. Let the nation and world see the one body of Christ move to the defense of our sisters and brothers who are threatened.

May today be a new beginning.

Cathedral Pipe Organ Ready to Make "Joyful Noise"

By Clay Schuldt, New Ulm Journal staff writer

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NEW ULM — The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity is ready to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord” with the completion of a two-year project to install a new pipe organ.

Its previous organ, built in the 1980s by Dan Jaeckel of Duluth, was relatively young. But structural issues made the organ’s replacement necessary, said Cathedral Music Director Nathan Knutson. “You could push on a side and the wall would move,” Knutson said.

The old organ’s frame was made from plywood material with a shorter lifespan.

In June of 2015, the old organ was removed. After two years of refurbishing, the pipework and adding new equipment, the church’s new organ will be ready to play for an audience this month.

The new organ was designed by several companies. The wood work was done by JF Nordlie Company out of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. JF Nordlie has built approximately 50 organs, but Cathedral is one of the largest the company ever built.

A Norwegian wood carver hand carved basswood pipe shades, with gold leaf gilding as well as other decorative imagery to match Cathedral’s interior.

The new organ was not completely built from scratch. Cathedral was able to recycle equipment from the previous organ for use in the new instrument. The old pipes were sent to a company in Ohio to be refurbished and returned for re-installation in the new organ.

The Cathedral was even able to incorporate its bell tower into the design. The organ requires a large air supply to produce sound. An air duct system was placed in the back to pull wind in from the bell tower.

Knutson said the church’s first organ used the bell tower for the same purpose.

The new organ will have more pipes than it’s predecessor. The new organ will have a total of 2,500 pipes, but Knutson said the instrument will not be any louder. Ironically, the greater number of pipes will allow the organ to play lower.

“The volume is the same but there are more pipes,” he said. “But with more pipes we can get a softer sound.”

Knutson gave assurances the organ will be able to produce the very Germanic and forceful tones Cathedral is accustomed to, but it will be able to perform the lighter music as well.

The organ’s keyboard uses a complex electronic system that expands the style of music that can be performed on the organ.

Asked how organs became the traditional instrument for churches, Knutson said it was the best instrument to lead a congregation.

“The physics to a organ make it very similar to a human voice,” he said. The organ requires a wind supply, the pipes are similar to vocal cords. Several parts of the organ share names with the human body, such as mouth, feet and lips.

Another benefit of the organ is its ability to sustain a sound. If a person holds down an organ key the sound will last as long as the key is held down and air passes through the pipe, whereas with a piano the sound dissipates as the string stops vibrating.

Cathedral will celebrate its new pipe organ with a series of events. Bishop John LeVoir will bless the organ at the 10 a.m. Mass on Sunday, Aug. 13. The Solemn Dedication Recital will be held two weeks later at 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 27. Acclaimed concert organist, Jonathan Ryan will be the featured artist. Additional concerts will be held throughout the upcoming year.

Knutson said the concert series will feature music ranging from Bach to modern organ composition to demonstrate the range of the new instrument. 

The cost of the new organ has been covered by Cathedral. The church was able to plan and budget for the new instrument for the last several years. Knutson believes it is a good investment. The new wood cabinet for the instrument should last over 100 years. The organ also features a state-of-the-art humidification system for the dry winter months. This should help maintain the organ’s rich sound. There are organ pipes in the world from the 1400s that still function to this day. It is possible this organ will grace Cathedral with beautiful music for generations to come.

 

USCCB President and Domestic Justice Chairman Call for Prayer and Unity in Response to Deadly Charlottesville Attack

August 13, 2017

WASHINGTON — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, are calling on all people of goodwill to join in prayer and unity today in response to yesterday's violent protest and deadly attack in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

Full statement follows:

 "As we learn more about the horrible events of yesterday, our prayer turns today, on the Lord's Day, to the people of Charlottesville who offered a counter example to the hate marching in the streets. Let us unite ourselves in the spirit of hope offered by the clergy, people of faith, and all people of good will who peacefully defended their city and country. 

We stand against the evil of racism, white supremacy and neo-nazism. We stand with our sisters and brothers united in the sacrifice of Jesus, by which love's victory over every form of evil is assured.  At Mass, let us offer a special prayer of gratitude for the brave souls who sought to protect us from the violent ideology displayed yesterday. Let us especially remember those who lost their lives.  Let us join their witness and stand against every form of oppression."

What a missionary to North Korea told the Knights of Columbus convention

By Matt Hadro

St. Louis, Mo., Aug 2, 2017 \(CNA/EWTN News) - Service to the poor on the peripheries of society was a theme of the 2017 Knights of Columbus States Dinner held Tuesday evening in St. Louis.

“I stand before you in deep gratitude for your love and concern for hearing the cry of the poor,” Fr. Gerard Hammond, M.M. told those in attendance at the States Dinner at the annual Knights of Columbus international convention Aug. 1.

“May we always embrace those who need our mercy and compassion.”

Fr. Hammond, a Maryknoll missionary to North Korea, received the Gaudium et Spes Award from Supreme Knight Carl Anderson at the dinner.

The award, named after Vatican II's pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world, is the highest honor bestowed by the Knights of Columbus and is given to persons “for their exemplary contributions to the realization of the message of faith and service in the spirit of Christ.”

St. Theresa of Calcutta was the first person to receive the award in 1992. On the award medal is an image of Venerable Fr. Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, comforting a widow and an orphan.

The Knights of Columbus is a worldwide Catholic men’s organization founded in 1882 by Fr. McGivney “to strengthen the faith of Catholic men” and to “protect their families,” in the words of Supreme Knight and CEO Carl Anderson. Since its founding it has grown into an international organization with over 1.9 million members.

This week, around 2,000 Knights from North and South America, Africa, Asia, and Europe meet in St. Louis for the 135th international convention. The theme of this year’s convention is “Convinced of God’s Love and Power.”

Fr. Hammond received his award for his missionary work in North Korea. He has made 50 trips into the country since 1995 to treat patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.

Although he is not allowed by the North Korean government to proselytize, he still tries carry out his priestly mission through serving the sick as an “apostle of peace” and to bring “hope for the voiceless.”

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, introducing Fr. Hammond at the dinner, said that in the spirit of Gaudium et Spes, Fr. Hammond “has taken upon himself the ‘griefs and anxieties’ of those who are ‘poor and afflicted,’ as he seeks to share with them, through compassionate action, the ‘joys and hopes’ of faith in Jesus Christ.”

Fr. Hammond has “exemplified the call of Pope Francis to go to the peripheries,” Archbishop Lori said.

“God’s heart has a special place for the poor, so much so that he himself ‘became poor’,” the archbishop said. “The entire history of our redemption is marked by the presence of the poor.”

Later on Tuesday evening, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Archbishop Emeritus of Krakow and former personal secretary to Pope St. John Paul II, praised the Knights for spreading the messages of mercy and the Gospel all over the world.

“The Knights of Columbus embraced the message of Divine Mercy proclaimed by the Pope from Kraków, and they proclaim this message in a world affected by various forms of injustice and violence,” he said in his remarks at the dinner.

Pope Francis has taught us to see to see “the other,” our neighbor,” as a “gift,” Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. bishops' conference, said on Tuesday at the dinner.   

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, he said that the two men who passed by the wounded man were “looking to self-interest, looking to other things.” The Good Samaritan, however, “tosses aside any consideration except love of neighbor. His help and generosity is excessive.”

Furthermore, he said, Christ teaches that “there is no more boundary when it comes to ‘who are you neighbor to’?” The Knights of Columbus live this teaching out, he said, helping everyone – the immigrant, the refugee, or the Christian displaced from their home.

Cardinal DiNardo also urged those in attendance to join in solidarity with Eastern Rite Catholics who are fasting before the Great Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God. He asked Latin rite Catholics to pray and fast for persecuted Christians in the days leading up to the Assumption.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Vatican sent a message to the convention assuring those in attendance of the “good wishes” and prayers of Pope Francis.

“The Holy Father has often observed that in our own day a new world war is being fought piecemeal, as an ungodly thirst for power and domination, whether economic, political, or military, is leading to untold violence, injustice and suffering in our human family,” Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, said in his written message delivered at the opening business session of the convention.

Pope Francis, he said, “has asked Christians everywhere, truly convinced of the infinite power of God’s love, to reject this mentality and to combat the growth of a global culture of indifference that discards the least of our brothers and sisters.”

Cardinal Parolin asked the Knights to “respond generously to this challenge” through working for the “sanctification of the world from within” in their lay vocation.

He also noted Pope Francis’ appreciation for the Knights upholding “the sanctity of marriage and the dignity and beauty of family life,” as well as the organization’s aid to persecuted Christians in the Middle East.

Want to change the world? It starts with joy, Archbishop Chaput says

NAPA, CALIF., Jul 27, 2017 / 07:40 am (EWTN News/CNA) - In a world that can sometimes seem disheartening, Christians have a path to the future in lives of joy and love, Archbishop Chaput said Thursday, July 27.
While Christians need to see the world’s problems as they are, “we can’t let the weight of the world crush the joy that’s our birthright by our rebirth in Jesus Christ through baptism,” he said.

“If we cling to that joy, if we cling to God, then all things are possible,” he added. “The only way to create new life in a culture is to live our lives joyfully and fruitfully, as individuals ruled by convictions greater than ourselves and shared with people we know and love. It’s a path that’s very simple and very hard at the same time. But it’s the only way to make a revolution that matters.”

Archbishop Chaput spoke July 27 at the Napa Institute conference in Napa, Calif. The institute aims to help Catholic leaders face the challenges of contemporary America.

“When young people ask me how to change the world,” he said, “I tell them to love each other, get married, stay faithful to one another, have lots of children, and raise those children to be men and women of Christian character. Faith is a seed. It doesn’t flower overnight. It takes time and love and effort.”

“The future belongs to people with children, not with things. Things rust and break,” the archbishop continued. “But every child is a universe of possibility that reaches into eternity, connecting our memories and our hopes in a sign of God’s love across the generations. That’s what matters. The soul of a child is forever.”

In the face of the many challenges of today, he pointed to an idea from St. Augustine: “it’s no use whining about the times, because we are the times.”

“It’s through us that God acts in society and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is carried forward. So we need to own that mission. And only when we do, will anything change for the better,” the archbishop said.

“This isn’t a time to retreat from the world. We need to engage the world and convert it,” he added, saying “we have every reason to trust in God and find in him our hope.” The archbishop encouraged his audience to read and pray over Pope Francis’ 2013 apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium.”

Reflecting on the temptation to give up, Archbishop Chaput said this is “always easier than fighting for what we believe and living what we know to be true.”

“Cowardice solves the problem of conflict – at least in the short run. But it abandons the many thousands of great young Catholic lay and clergy leaders who are already part of our landscape,” he said. “I know many of them. And they look to us for example and support.”

While Catholics could react to this situation with “a well-crafted strategic plan,” the archbishop said there is no “quick fix” for cultures, which are more like living organisms than corporations or math problems.

Prayer was also a focus of his remarks. Reflecting on the “hellish” aspect to modern life that people fill with “discord, confusion and noise,” he recommended Cardinal Robert Sarah’s book “The Power of Silence.” He encouraged his audience to “turn off the noise that cocoons us in consumer anxieties and appetites.”

“If we don’t pray, we can’t know and love God,” Archbishop Chaput said.

He endorsed reading the Bible as an antidote to the noise of life. Reading the Bible, as well as history, biography, and great novels, is an antidote to “chronic stupidity and a conditioning by mass media that have no sympathy for the things we believe.”

Archbishop Chaput suggested that the modern world is not much different from the Athens that St. Paul visited. The city was “full of idols,” where everyone “spent their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.” There, St. Paul disputed with Jews, devout persons, philosophers, and other residents.

The Acts of the Apostles show “the perpetual newness of the Gospel,” the archbishop said.

“They’re also a portrait of courage as St. Paul, Christianity’s greatest missionary, preaches the Gospel in the sophisticated heart of Athens,” he continued. Despite mockery and condemnation, St. Paul persists and “understands that his audience has a fundamental hunger for the godly that hasn’t been fed, and he refuses to be quiet or afraid.”

Even after seeming failure, he had planted a seed of faith that would grow into “a Church with deep roots.”

The archbishop cited Jesus’ words from the Gospel of John: “When the Spirit of truth comes he will guide you into all the truth . . . and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”

“The words of the Gospel remind us that the future is God’s, and we should trust in the Holy Spirit who leads us in a spirit of truth. We don’t need to fear the future. We don’t need to know it before its time. What we do need is to have confidence in the Lord and to give our hearts to the Father who loves us. The future is in his hands.”

 

U.S. Bishops Chairman Responds to Defeat of GOP "Skinny Repeal” Bill

"The greatness of our country is not measured by the well-being of the powerful but how we have cared for the 'least of these.'"

WASHINGTON - In response to last night's Senate vote on the "skinny repeal" bill, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, has issued the following statement:

"Despite the Senate's decision not to pass legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act last night, the task of reforming the healthcare system still remains. The current healthcare system is not financially sustainable, lacks full Hyde protections and conscience rights, and is inaccessible to many immigrants. Inaction will result in harm for too many people.

A moment has opened for Congress, and indeed all Americans, to set aside party and personal political interest and pursue the common good of our nation and its people, especially the most vulnerable. In order to be just, any bill for consideration must:

  • Protect the Medicaid program from changes that would harm millions of struggling Americans.

  • Protect the safety net from any other changes that harm the poor, immigrants, or any others at the margins.

  • Address the real probability of collapsing insurance markets and the corresponding loss of genuine affordability for those with limited means. 

  • Provide full Hyde Amendment provisions and much-needed conscience protections.

Any final agreement that respects human life and dignity, honors conscience rights, and ensures that everyone can access health care that is comprehensive, high quality, and truly affordable deserves the support of all of us.

The greatness of our country is not measured by the well-being of the powerful but how we have cared for the 'least of these.'  Congress can and should pass health care legislation that lives up to that greatness."

Fr. Leland Mead dies at age 76

MADISON LAKE, MN - Retired priest of the Diocese of New Ulm Fr. Leland Clarence Mead, age 76, of Madison Lake, died Friday, July 14, 2017, at his home.

Mass of Christian Burial will be 11:00 a.m., Thursday, July 20, 2017, at the Church of St. Peter in St. Peter.  Visitation will be 4-7 p.m. on Wednesday at Mankato Mortuary, and continues one hour prior to the mass at the church on Thursday.  Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery in St. Peter. 

Complete obituary

U.S. Bishops Chairman Calls Senate to “Reject Changes” to Social Safety Net

WASHINGTON(June 27, 2017) - Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, has provided a more detailed critique of the Senate "discussion draft" health care bill, dubbed the "Better Care Reconciliation Act" (BCRA).

"Removing vital coverage for those most in need is not the answer to our nation's health care problems, and doing so will not help us build toward the common good," said Bishop Dewane. "For the sake of persons living on the margins of our health care system, we call on the Senate to reject changes intended to fundamentally alter the social safety net for millions of people."

The BCRA was introduced in discussion draft format on June 22, 2017, and is the Senate's working heath care proposal. Bishop Dewane again highlighted the need for lawmakers to withhold support for provisions that would harm poor and vulnerable people, including changes to Medicaid, in the June 27 letter. He also stressed the need for protections for the unborn in the bill, indicating that "[s]afeguards pertaining to the use of tax credits for plans that include abortion face steep challenges," and that the BCRA "needs to be strengthened to fully apply the longstanding and widely-supported Hyde amendment protections."  Bishop Dewane also noted that coverage for immigrants and conscience protections were lacking in the BCRA.

"The BCRA's restructuring of Medicaid will adversely impact those already in deep health poverty," warned Bishop Dewane. "At a time when tax cuts that would seem to benefit the wealthy and increases in other areas of federal spending, such as defense, are being contemplated, placing a 'per capita cap' on medical coverage for the poor is unconscionable."

The full letter can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/health-care/upload/senate-discussion-letter-health-care-reform-2017-06-27.pdf

US bishops launch 2017 Fortnight for Freedom

Washington D.C.,  (CNA/EWTN News).- The U.S. bishops have launched a website and video to mark the beginning of this year’s Fortnight for Freedom, focusing on religious freedom issues both at home and abroad.

The video, about ten minutes long and viewable on the Fortnight for Freedom website, features a number of legal, religious, and other personalities discussing the importance of religious liberty. The Fortnight for Freedom takes place June 21 - July 4.

“Religious freedom is one of the basic freedoms of the human person because without religious freedom, the freedom of conscience, all other freedoms are without foundation,” Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami says at the beginning of the video.

“A government that doesn’t acknowledge limits on its own power to regulate religious institutions is probably going to come after other institutions as well,” said Professor Rick Garnett of the Notre Dame Law School.

The video chronicles the struggle between the Little Sisters of the Poor and the HHS mandate of the Affordable Care Act.

“It’s over three now that this issue has been pursuing us,” says Sr. Constance, L.S.P.

Testimonies from beneficiaries of the Sisters’ work are showcased in the video.

“There is a spiritual component in the way that they live their lives that adds to not only enrichment of the residents’ lives but to those who are in contact with them, who work with them, who just hear about them,” says Carmel Kang.

“When religious freedom goes away, and there is no transcendent authority, then the law is the only norm, and the people in power now are always the only power,” says Professor Helen Alvare of George Mason University Law School.

The video emphasizes the United States’ historical connection to freedom of religion.

“The United States is the greatest country in the history of the world precisely because of the exceptional character of its relationship to faith which permeates every dimension of its evolution,” says Eugene Rivers II, an activist and Pentecostal pastor.

The video also highlighted the struggle of religious peoples in other parts of the world.

“Tragically, we see the killings, the martyrdom of Christians in Iraq, and Libya, and Egypt, Syria,” says Archbishop Wenski. The video then showed clips from the video of 21 Coptic Christians being martyred by the Islamic State in early 2015.

Professor Thomas Farr of Georgetown University noted the increased threat since the Obergefell vs. Hodges Supreme Court decision in June 2015, and also observed that viewpoints motivated by religion are being silenced.

The video also summarized Dignitatis humanae, the Second Vatican Council’s declaration on religious freedom, as well as noting Pope Francis’ concern for persecuted Christians around the world.

“We have to bring not just optimism, but genuine Christian hope,” says Archbishop Lori of Baltimore, head of the USCCB’s Committee on Religious Liberty, which was made a permanent structure of the conference at their annual spring meeting last week.

The video closed with a montage of scenes and figures including the Selma to Montgomery March, St. John Paul II, and the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
 
The USCCB’s Fortnight for Freedom website provides a host of prayer and practical resources on the topic of religious freedom.

The prayer resources are based in Scripture as well as the examples of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, and are available in both English and Spanish.

Among the practical resources is a brief guide to the issue, which seeks to defend and clarify the bishop’s views, responding to concerns that defense of liberty is an affront to treating people “with equal dignity.”

Also included are summaries of religious liberty concerns in the United States and internationally. Domestically, issues listed include the HHS mandate, the right to practice faith in business, and religious institutes’ right to aid undocumented immigrants. Internationally, concerns are presented from the Central African Republic, Myanmar, and Mexico.

On May 4, the National Day of Prayer, President Trump signed an executive order on religious liberty while surrounded by faith leaders, including Cardinal Donald Wuerl of D.C. and the Little Sisters of the Poor. The order called for agencies to consider different enforcement of the mandate and looser enforcement of the Johnson Amendment. It was modified from an earlier, leaked version which critics claimed would have allowed for unjust discrimination of LGBT people.

On May 31, a draft rule providing blanket protection from the mandate was leaked.

The bishops’ website does not include the Johnson Amendment among its concerns.

US bishops urge caution as Senate considers health care bill

By Joe Slama

Indianapolis, Ind., Jun 16, 2017 (CNA/EWTN News) - The US bishops’ annual meeting (June 14-15) included on Thursday, June 14, a discussion on health care, focusing on efforts in Congress to replace the Affordable Care Act.

Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, chairman of the domestic justice and human development committee, focused on the underlying principles by which the bishops approach health care.

No law should “compel us or others to pay for the destruction of human life,” he said June 15, explaining respect for life, the first of the four “key principles.”

The other principles he enumerated weretrue access for all, true affordability, comprehensive and high-quality coverage, and no repeal of the Affordable Care Act without an adequate replacement. He also mentioned the importance of conscience protections.

He said those seeking health care should be able to do so “in accord with their means” and noted that “immigrants continue to be left out of this equation in many ways.”

Speaking about true affordability, he noted the bishops’ concern regarding “structural changes in Medicaid that would leave large numbers of people at risk to losing access.”

The Senate is currently considering the American Health Care Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives in May as a repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

The US bishops have been cautious about the AHCA, saying in the past that it has “many serious flaws.”

Bishop Dewane enumerated four primary concerns of the bishops regarding the AHCA, staring with changes in Medicaid that would allow states to opt-out of important coverage.

He also discussed protection of the unborn, as the bill faces challenges in this respect in the Senate, and a lack of access to health care for migrants.

Finally, Bishop Dewane noted, “the House bill does not provide any conscience protections.”

The bishop stated that the committees related to health care would continue their collaboration, and to provide resources to bishops to help them “preach and teach” on the issue.

In closing his remarks, Bishop Dewane noted, “the teaching we bring to bear in the questions on health and health care do not fit neatly… into the single party platforms. Because of this, the Church has a unique voice.”

He emphasized that the bishops would continue work for those “most in need at all stages of life.”

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the US bishops' conference, said discussion of health care “impacts nearly everyone in our society, but we as bishops strive to engage in this debate as a voice for the voiceless, for the poor, the sick, the unborn. There is still much to be done as the Senate considers a repeal and replacement for the Affordable Care Act.”

Among other bishops who spoke on the topic were Bishop George Thomas of Helena, who said we live in a time of “great gravity” as budget votes draw near which will affect Medicaid and nutritional assistance programs, and called for the bishops to work “by raising up a new degree of public consciousness.” Quoting Robert Frost, he implored the bishops that they “’choose the road less traveled’ for the sake of the people we have been ordained to serve.”

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago also took the floor, saying that “the state has a responsibility of creating solidarity in a country,” and noted that religious sisters working in health care should be consulted in further discussions. Bishop Dewane clarified that this has been the case already.

Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego observed a “debasement of language” in the national health care debate, citing that while Bishop Dewane spoke of a “robust access,” the access being offered is only “access in theory, access if you’ve got enough money.”

He also noted that “health care is a fundamental human right,” but said the AHCA has been designed as “a house of sand which will deliberately fall apart in the coming years.” He also said that bishops should automatically oppose any bill which is projected to lower the number of people with access to health care.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City explained that under the Affordable Care Act, his local Church lost all its Catholic hospitals, and said that the ACA’s “Medicaid provisions were not sustainable by the states.”

He noted also that while the Obama administration had promised there would always be an option for a plan that did not offer abortions, that promise turned out to be false.

_________________________

To read the news releases, agenda, speeches, action items and election results from this year's annual U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) General Assembly, June 14-15, 2017, in Indianapolis, Indiana, visit http://www.usccb.org/about/leadership/usccb-general-assembly/.

 

 

 

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Releases 2016 Annual Report on the Protection of Children and Young People

June 9, 2017

Washington - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People has released their 2016 Annual Report – Findings and Recommendations on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The 2016 report for audit year July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016, states that 1,232 adults that came forward with 1,318 allegations. This increase is focused within six dioceses: two dioceses with bankruptcy proceedings and four where the state extended the statute of limitations. These six dioceses received an additional 351 allegations compared to the 2015 audit year. Also, it notes that 1,510 victim/survivors received ongoing support.

Also noted in the report is the ongoing work of the Church in continuing to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults.  In 2016, over 2.4 million background checks were conducted on our clerics, employees, and volunteers. Over 2.3 million adults and 4.2 million children have also been trained on how to identify the warning signs of abuse and how to report those signs.

All dioceses and eparchies that received an allegation of sexual abuse during the 2016 audit year reported them to the appropriate civil authorities.

Twenty-five new allegations came from minors. As of June 30, 2016, two were substantiated, eight were still under investigation, and eleven were unsubstantiated or unable to be proven. Of the remaining four, two were referred to a religious order, one was referred to another diocese, and one investigation was postponed due to an order of confidentiality from the bankruptcy court.

Regarding Charter Compliance, the reported noted the following:

·         Two eparchies did not participate in the audit this year, but have expressed their intention to participate in next year's audit.

·         191 dioceses and eparchies were found compliant with the Charter.

·         All dioceses/eparchies participating in the 129 data collection audits were found compliant with the process.

·         Of the sixty-five dioceses/eparchies participating in the on-site audits, all were found compliant except for two dioceses and one eparchy.

·         One diocese was found non-compliant with respect to Article 2 and one diocese with respect to Article 3. One eparchy was found non-compliant with respect to Articles 2 and 12.

The Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People continues to emphasize that the audit and maintaining zero-tolerance policies are two important tools in the Church's broader program of creating a culture of protection and healing that exceeds the requirements of the Charter.

This is the fourteenth such report since 2002 when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approved the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People making a promise to protect and a pledge to heal. 

The full Annual Report can be found here: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/upload/2016-Annual-Report.pdf