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Archive of July 27, 2012

As secularism spreads, Archbishop Chaput charts path for renewal

Napa, Calif., Jul 27, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Changes in the nature of American society call the faithful to renew their commitment to living out their beliefs in public life, said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia.

The “America of Catholic memory is not the America of the present moment or the emerging future,” Archbishop Chaput said July 26, as he addressed the annual gathering of Catholic leaders hosted by the Napa Institute in Napa, Calif. 

In response to this reality, he urged Americans to “recover our distinctive Catholic identity and history” in order to restore a proper understanding of freedom in the U.S.

The archbishop explained that America’s founders, whose “moral framework was overwhelmingly shaped by Christian faith,” welcomed the cooperation of government and religious groups in promoting society’s interests.

They realized that religion was not merely a matter of private belief or worship, but a matter of “active discipleship,” which involves “preaching, teaching, public witness and service to others,” he said.

Given that context, the founders understood religious freedom encompasses “the right of religious believers, leaders and communities to engage society and to work actively in the public square,” Archbishop Chaput said.
 
But a growing secularism and the loss of a moral foundation suggest that “America is becoming a very different country.”

He pointed to growing “contempt” for religious faith, as well as “government pressure on religious entities,” seen not only in the highly-publicized contraception mandate but also in attacks on the conscience rights, hiring practices and tax statuses of businesses, charities, medical workers and private citizens.

Such threats will “get worse as America’s religious character weakens,” he warned.

However, there is still an opportunity to change the culture, Archbishop Chaput said, adding that Catholics need to acknowledge “America is now mission territory.” 

Change is brought about “not just by our actions, but by what we really believe – because what we believe shapes the kind of people we are,” he said. “A culture is more than what we make or do or build. A culture grows organically out of the spirit of a people – how we live, what we cherish, what we’re willing to die for.” 

This change in culture will require a shift in thinking, he explained, and a realization that there is not an “automatic harmony between Christian faith and American democracy.” 

“Democracy is not an end in itself,” the archbishop reminded the Catholic leaders gathered in Napa. “Majority opinion does not determine what is good and true.”

Rather, there is a need for politics rooted in virtue, he said. Catholics must stand up for what they believe, realizing that political involvement is “urgent” and will play a significant role in shaping the nation’s future.

“Democracies depend for their survival on people of conviction fighting for what they believe in the public square,” he insisted.

Archbishop Chaput explained that the cooperation required for democracy cannot become “an excuse for compromising with grave evil” or for “standing idly by while our liberty to preach and serve God in the public square is whittled away.”

If we are not willing to work tireless to promote a culture that respects human dignity and a true freedom, “we should stop trying to fool ourselves that we really believe what we claim to believe,” he said.

There is also a need for interior renewal, allowing for silence and God in our lives, he added, explaining that this is necessary to form the prudent and reasonable electorate on which America depends.

Looking to the future of the U.S., Archbishop Chaput called on the faithful to work towards “growing” a culture of religious freedom by living out the Gospel without hesitation.

“The firmer our faith, the deeper our love, the purer our zeal for God’s will – then the stronger the house of freedom will be that rises in our own lives, and in the life of our nation,” he said.

Participants in the July 26-29 Napa Institute Conference will hear from numerous Catholic leaders on how to live as Catholics in modern-day America. The sessions aim to help them to grow in their understanding of the faith and be motivated to live and defend their beliefs in a secular culture.

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Former atheist poet reveals details of her Catholic conversion

Rome, Italy, Jul 27, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - “Until two years ago, I was a really committed atheist and I really hated the Catholic Church,” said poet Sally Read, as she explained how all that dramatically changed during nine months in 2010.

“The whole process took from March to December, and I was received into the Catholic Church at the Vatican in December, so it was a bit of a lightning flash,” she told CNA on July 24.

A 41-year-old Englishwoman, Sally Read is regarded as a rising star within the world of poetry. Her publisher describes the former psychiatric nurse as “one of a new generation of younger poets shaping the future of British poetry.”

She now lives in the Italian seaside town of Santa Marinella with her husband and their daughter. It was there that her conversion story began two years ago while she was writing an anthology based on her experiences with psychiatric patients.

“As I was writing this book, I became very aware that I didn’t know where the soul was and I didn’t know if the soul existed. And it was really driving me crazy.” Her frustration led her into discussion, and often heated debate, with a Canadian priest who was based in the coastal resort town.

“So, while I was talking to this priest about, well, is there a God and all of that kind of stuff, I kind of had this feeling as a poet that God was the ultimate poet and the ultimate Creator, and I was simply being used as an instrument,” she recalled.
 
It was at that point that she phoned the priest to say, “I don’t think I’m an atheist after all.” But she refused to make the intellectual leap to Christianity, insisting to her priest friend that he would never convert her.

“He was very patient and very good.” He said, ‘Christ will convert you, I’m not going to convert you ... .”

Read was raised in a strictly anti-religious household and, so, she now felt like “everything I had ever believed in (was) being turned upside down.”

“It was very, very difficult. I mean, I wasn’t sleeping at all. I was very emotionally traumatized,” she said, describing those months in 2010 as “the most disrupted period in my whole life.”

Her turmoil ended abruptly one afternoon when she stepped into a local Catholic Church.

“Just one day, I was in tears and said to this icon of Christ, ‘If you’re there, then you have to help me.’ And, this thing happened which is very hard to explain, but I felt as if I was being physically lifted up and my tears stopped, and I felt this presence.”
 
She described the sensation as “utterly tangible,” so much so that from then on she “knew that life was devoted to Christ. There was nothing else.”
 
Her journey into the Catholic Church quickly followed.
 
“I realized that there was only one Church and the way to be closest to Christ was to be a Catholic, because it’s the Eucharist and taking Communion.”
 
Since then she has faced opposition from family members and shock from a socially-liberal artistic establishment. And, yet, “I’m still happier than I’ve ever been,” she said with a broad grin on her face.

As for writing, her third anthology of poetry will be released this year. But the philosophical outlook of her work has now changed dramatically.

“So, I don’t know where it’s going to go with poetry, but I think it’s going to be interesting,” Read said.

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Catholic Relief Services tried to minimize risk of scandal with aid group

Washington D.C., Jul 27, 2012 (CNA) - Catholic Relief Services has said that it took steps to fight against the possibility of scandal due to its funding of an aid group that provides contraception in other countries.

The U.S. bishops' overseas relief agency responded to recent concerns over its funding of CARE, an international humanitarian organization that provides relief to the needy in developing nations but also offers contraception and early abortion-inducing drugs.

The funding from the bishops' group went towards programs providing food, water and sanitation to the poor and needy in Central America and Africa.

Catholic Relief Services has said that this funding was carefully restricted to morally acceptable purposes and had been reviewed by Dr. John Haas of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, who found that it did not constitute “support of or involvement in immoral activities.”

While the bioethics center did have serious concerns over the possibility of scandal based on the mistaken assumption that the relief agency endorsed CARE’s position on these issues, Catholic Relief Services said that it tried to counter this risk by working “to publicly affirm our adherence to the teaching of the Church.”

A headline on a July 24 article by LifeSiteNews had originally indicated that Haas had advised Catholic Relief Services not to fund CARE. This headline was later changed to say Haas had warned the agency that “scandal would be unavoidable” with the grant.

Catholic Relief Services responded by saying that Haas did not advise on any course of action, but left that decision to the board of the relief agency, which “made the decision to award the grants and took steps to minimize the risk” of scandal due to misunderstanding.

In a July 25 online statement, the National Catholic Bioethics Center clarified that it does not “approve” grants for Catholic Relief Services, but instead gives occasional “ethical analyses” of grant requests when asked to do so as part of a review process

When asked to analyze Catholic Relief Services’ grants to CARE, the bioethics center determined that the grants “would likely save lives” and that no other agency without these problematic views was available as an alternative partner to achieve these goals.   

It also concluded that the funds given to CARE do not go into a general pool that could be moved around to free up money for other purposes. Under federal law, the money given by Catholic Relief Services could be used for nothing other than the designated purpose of serving the poor and starving in other nations.  

Due to the great good being achieved in saving lives, the lack of another effective way of achieving this good and the avoidance of contributing to the evil of contraception, the bioethics center determined that the grant was acceptable according to Catholic moral principles.

However, the group “was gravely concerned about the risk of scandal that could arise” from a Catholic agency’s cooperation with an organization that disagreed with important Church teaching.

Therefore, the bioethics center “strongly cautioned” Catholic Relief Services about “the problems of misunderstanding that could arise with a grant to CARE” and encouraged the aid organization to issue a public repudiation of CARE’s positions on these issues.

Haas told CNA that “our position was, in a way, both/and.”

“We did not believe the awarding of the grant would involve CRS in immoral cooperation but we did fear that it would give rise to scandal,” he said.  “However, this was a judgment that would have to be made by the board of CRS.”

Catholic Relief Services responded to these concerns by explaining in its mission statement that it is sometimes necessary to “participate in humanitarian initiatives undertaken by a wide range of groups,” including some that may not always be fully consistent with Church teaching.

However, the agency stressed, its involvement with such groups is “always and only focused on activities that are fully consistent with Catholic teaching.”

It added that it “neither facilitates, endorses nor enables any violation of those teachings” and that it utilizes a review process to ensure that funds are used in compliance with Church teaching.

Recent statements released by Catholic Relief Services emphasized that the group does not agree with CARE’s position on contraception and does not “support any positions that would be in violation of Catholic teaching on human dignity and the sanctity of human life.”

“Faithfulness to Church teaching always has been and always will be our policy,” the agency said.

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US bishops' marriage advocate to lead San Francisco archdiocese

San Francisco, Calif., Jul 27, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of Oakland, Calif., the U.S. bishops’ leader on defense of marriage issues, has been named by Pope Benedict XVI as the ninth Archbishop of San Francisco.

“I am pleased to welcome Archbishop-elect Cordileone and to assure him of our prayers, loyalty, support and cooperation, as well as our friendship and affection,” said Archbishop George H. Niederauer, who offered his resignation as archbishop of San Francisco upon reaching the age limit of 75.

The appointment and resignation were both announced on July 27 in Washington, D.C. by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Known for his staunch defense of marriage as well as his intercultural ministry and work with immigrants in California, Archbishop Cordileone will shepherd a diocese that contains about 1,761,000 people, about 25 percent of whom are Catholic.

He has served on the Task Force on Cultural Diversity for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and is the current chairman of the conference’s Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.

In addition, he serves on the Religious Liberty Committee of the California Catholic Conference.

In a June interview, the archbishop-elect told CNA that a redefinition of marriage to include homosexual couples would be bad for children, detrimental to society and dangerous for religious freedom.

He explained that “out of justice for children, we need to do the best that we can to help them grow up with their mother and their father, married to each other in a stable relationship.”

Archbishop Cordileone was born in San Diego in 1956. He studied in both California and Rome before being ordained a priest in 1982. He served in San Diego for several years and later spent time as an official of the Supreme Tribunal of the Signatura, the Church's highest juridical body under the Pope.
 
He was appointed by Pope John Paul II as auxiliary bishop of San Diego in 2002 and named bishop of Oakland by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009.

He will be installed as the ninth archbishop of San Francisco at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption on October 4, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, who is the patron of the archdiocese.

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Colo. company secures injunction against HHS mandate

Denver, Colo., Jul 27, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - In the first legal ruling against the controversial HHS mandate, a federal judge has granted a temporary injunction protecting a Catholic-run business.
 
Judge John L. Kane of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado approved the injunction on the afternoon of July 27.
 
He said the harm of preventing the government from enforcing Congress-approved regulations “pales in comparison to the possible infringement upon plaintiffs’ constitutional and statutory rights.”
 
The Alliance Defending Freedom legal group sought the injunction as part of its lawsuit on behalf of Hercules Industries, a Colorado-based manufacturer of heating, ventilation and air conditioning units.
 
“We’re thrilled,” said Matt Bowman, legal counsel with Alliance Defending  Freedom.
 
“This is the first court to answer the question of whether Obamacare can be used to violate religious freedom, and the answer is ‘no,’” he told CNA July 27.
 
“The very first ruling on the question of religious freedom was a ruling stating that religious freedom prevails over government attempts to force believers to choose between their faith and their livelihood,” Bowman said.
 
Hercules Industries’ owners, William Newland, Paul Newland, James Newland, and Christine Ketterhagen, all identify as practicing Catholics. The mandate would have affected the self-insured company’s health plan when it renews on Nov. 1.

Under the HHS mandate, companies that refuse to comply face fines of $100 per day, per employee. For a company like Hercules Industries, which employs 300 people, those fines could be millions of dollars each year.
 
The company and its owners challenged the Department of Health and Human Services rule requiring employers’ health plans to cover sterilization, contraception, and abortion-causing drugs as preventive care for women.
 
The mandate’s narrow religious exemption does not include many Catholic health systems, charities and colleges, despite Catholic objections to covering the procedures and drugs. It also does not apply to secular businesses.
 
Bowman said that although the mandate only protects the Newland family and their business, it sets an example for other legal challenges already underway.
 
“Every judge in these cases is going to look at what other judges said,” Bowman explained.
 
“The reasoning behind the injunction is that every American, including family business owners, is entitled to practice their faith without the government forcing them to violate their beliefs or face heavy fines or penalties.”

Judge Kane said the government’s arguments against the injunction are “countered, and indeed outweighed, by the public interest in the free exercise of religion.”

He cited a Tenth Circuit Court ruling which said that there is a “strong public interest in the free exercise of religion” even where that interest may conflict with another statutory scheme.

Michael Norton, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, said the lawsuit is “very important” because it determines “whether family-owned small businesses have the freedom to practice their faith as they wish in the public square and in the public arena, or whether they will be obliged to offer health insurance coverage that violates that faith.”

“Our view is that every American should be free to live and do business according to their faith. They should not have to choose between their faith and doing what some bureaucrat or politician thinks ought to be the way they live out their faith,” Norton said in a July 26 interview.

Two lawsuits against the HHS mandate have been dismissed.

On July 17, a federal judge in Nebraska rejected a suit filed by seven state attorneys general, Catholic groups and two Catholic individuals on the grounds they did not prove immediate harm. On July 18, a federal judge in Washington, D.C. dismissed the suit filed by Belmont Abbey College on the grounds it was premature.

Updated at 4:09 p.m. MST. Adds details about fines, comments from Judge Kane and Michael Norton, and background on related cases.

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New San Francisco archbishop vows to support marriage, immigrants

San Francisco, Calif., Jul 27, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Shortly after his appointment to lead the Archdiocese of San Francisco was announced, Archbishop-designate Salvatore J. Cordileone committed to defend marriage and serve the needy, particularly immigrants, in his new position.

“The Church of San Francisco has a tremendous legacy of Catholic ministries and participation in the local community for serving the common good,” he said, adding that he is inspired and encouraged by the rich history in the archdiocese.

At a press conference in San Francisco in July 27, he said that he was “humbled” by the “unexpected” appointment.

Born in San Diego in 1956, Archbishop-elect Cordileone was named to lead the Diocese of Oakland in 2009. He is known for his staunch defense of marriage and his intercultural ministry and work with immigrants, previously serving on the U.S. bishops’ cultural diversity task force and currently leading the group’s subcommittee for the defense of marriage.

When he is installed at archbishop of San Francisco on October 4, he will assume pastoral care of an archdiocese deeply embroiled in cultural debates over immigration and same-sex marriage.

Archbishop George H. Niederauer, who is retiring after serving as the archbishop of San Francisco since 2005, said that he was “very pleased” to welcome Archbishop-Cordileone. He offered his prayers, support and friendship to the incoming leader.

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles also welcomed San Francisco’s new shepherd, extending “fraternal best wishes and prayers” in a July 27 statement.

“I look forward to continuing to work with Archbishop designate Cordileone and all the Catholic bishops of California to strengthen the faith of our Catholic people and to help build a more just society for all who live in the Golden State,” he said.

At the press conference, Archbishop-elect Cordileone said that the “cultural diversity” within his new archdiocese will be “both a strength and a challenge.” He explained that the devotional life of many immigrant groups enriches the local church, but added that it can be difficult to overcome “cultural factors” and bring people together.

While he said that he will need time to get to know the area, the archbishop-elect anticipates that many of the challenges he faces will deal with “issues of family life,” which are ultimately rooted in “foundational philosophical issues” about the nature of the human person and the purpose of sexuality.

“Marriage is a foundational good,” he emphasized, explaining that the Church’s stance against “gay marriage” is not discriminatory but is simply rooted in the nature and definition of marriage as an institution.

Children “can only come about through the embrace of a man and a woman coming together,” he said, adding that this necessarily limits marriage to the type of union that can bring new life into the world.

“Children deserve to have a mother and a father,” the archbishop-elect said, and so “we need to do everything we can to strengthen marriage.”

In addressing “moral challenges” involving the weakening of family life, it is important to realize that strong marriages benefit all of society, he said.

He added that there is a need to lovingly welcome those who “feel alienated from the Church” due to their sexual orientation, showing them that “our stand for marriage is not against anyone, but it’s because we believe this is foundational for the good of our society.”

Archbishop-elect Cordileone also praised a recent executive order by President Barack Obama which effectively puts the DREAM Act into effect, allowing residency for many immigrants who had illegally entered the country as minors.

“The DREAM act very closely corresponds to the elements of a just immigration reform that the U.S. bishops have been advocating for many years now,” he explained.

He said that he hopes this will “kick start” Congress to pass legislation that will be a more stable basis for “comprehensive immigration reform.”

Commenting on sex abuse within the Church, he said that he plans to build on the momentum and progress of his predecessors, continuing in their “firm resolve in addressing the problem.”

Archbishop-elect Cordileone said that he looks forward to assuming his new role and thanked Archbishop Niederauer for his support.

He voiced confidence that with prayer, hard work and God’s grace, “we will, together, be able to further the New Evangelization in this corner of the world we call home.”

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Catholic group seeks second injunction against contraception mandate

Ann Arbor, Mich., Jul 27, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Lawyers representing a Catholic businessmen’s group are seeking a separate injunction against the HHS mandate in federal court on Wednesday, days before the controversial rule takes effect Aug. 1.

The Ann Arbor-based Thomas More Law Center filed the injunction as part of its lawsuit on behalf of Legatus, the largest Catholic business leader organization in the U.S., the Ann Arbor-based Weingartz Supply Company and its president Daniel Weingartz, a Legatus member.

“Without the court's intervention, the HHS mandate effectively penalizes their free exercise of religion,” Thomas More Law Center attorney Erin Mersino said July 26.

She said the injunction is needed to prevent “immediate injury to our clients’ right of conscience.”

The Department of Health and Human Services mandate requires all employers with 50 or more employees to provide insurance coverage including sterilization, contraception and abortion-causing drugs.

Its narrow religious exemption does not include many Catholic health systems, charities and colleges, despite Catholic objections to covering the procedures and drugs.

Catholic employers who run secular businesses have even fewer protections in the mandate regulations.

The motion for an emergency injunction was filed before Judge Robert H. Cleland of the Eastern District of Maryland. It says the mandate violates rights guaranteed by the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.

Mersino told CNA July 27 that the mandate would have an “enormous impact” on Weingartz and his company.

“If you look at the 170 employees that he has, and at minimum the $2,000 fine (per employee) he faces annually, he’s looking at in excess of over $300,000 a year in fines for non-compliance.”

She expects a ruling on the injunction request before Aug. 1.

A federal judge in Colorado on July 27 issued an injunction against the mandate in response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of the Hercules Industries. That injunction only protects the Colorado-based company and its owners.

Mersino said the attorneys’ arguments on behalf of Weingartz and his company are similar to those made in the Colorado case.

“Our clients are similarly situated. They are both for-profit business owners who are Catholic. They oppose the mandate for the same reasons.”

She said if the judge follows the arguments, he will rule the same way but there is “no guarantee” he will.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, criticized the federal rule.

“The Obama administration deliberately declared war on the Catholic Church by promulgating the HHS mandate,” he said July 26. “And contrary to what they want you to believe, this case is not about contraception. It is about the religious freedom of Christians, in this case Catholics, to peaceably practice their faith free from government coercion.”

He warned that if the government succeeds, “the religious freedom of all Christians is in danger.”

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God draws greater good from evil acts, Aurora priest says at funeral

Aurora, Colo., Jul 27, 2012 (CNA) - In his funeral homily for a parishioner killed in the July 20 shooting in Aurora, Father Martin Lally said God allows evil things to happen in order to allow and inspire good.

“While none of us can know precisely the mind of God, it is ... consistently proven that the response to evil acts is more powerful acts of kindness, compassion and courage,” Fr. Lally said July 28.

“Our presence here is a true sign that love is more powerful that evil; that a gentle presence is stronger than bullets.”

Parishioner Alexander (A.J.) Boik was one of 12 victims killed by a gunman who opened fire at a midnight showing of the newest Batman film, “The Dark Knight Rises.”

The 18-year-old graduated from high school in May and planned to start classes next month at a Denver art school.

Boik's family also released a statement, recalling how he dreamed of teaching art and opening his own studio.

“He was a talented young man ... with a warm and loving heart,” the family said.

Fr. Lally said he “can't help but smile” at memories of Boik, who loved life so much he “wanted to teach others how to create art that would beautify and enhance (it).”

“Those memories are treasures to family and friends,” Fr. Lally said. “Let us ... hope that our greatest testimony to AJ's life will be that we will, as he did, have high ambitions and firmness of purpose in our lives.”

Boik is survived by his parents, grandparents and a brother.

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