Cincinnati, Ohio, Jun 6, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Although the Archdiocese of Cincinnati has been ordered to pay $171,000 to a school teacher fired for undergoing artificial insemination, a spokesman says it has no intention to end morality requirements.
“For the archdiocese, this case has always been about an employee violating a legally enforceable contract that she signed,” communications director Dan Andriacco said June 5.
“We also believe that we have a First Amendment right to give Catholic school parents what they expect – an environment that reflects Catholic moral teaching,” he added. “Our schools are Catholic schools and the work that our school employees do is an extension of that ministry.”
Andriacco told CNA the archdiocese believes the lawsuit filed by former computer teacher Christa Dias should have fallen under the “ministerial exception” to employment law and “should never have gone to trial.”
A federal jury found that the archdiocese had violated anti-discrimination law by firing Dias, who is now 34. The jury awarded $100,000 in punitive damages and compensatory damages of $71,000 on Monday.
In October 2010 the archdiocese fired the non-Catholic teacher from her positions at Holy Family Catholic School and St. Lawrence Catholic School in Cincinnati. Dias was unmarried and had told officials she needed maternity leave and that she had undergone artificial insemination.
In 2011, Dias filed a lawsuit charging that her firing violated state and federal laws against pregnancy discrimination. She said she had not known that Catholic teaching barred artificial insemination.
Steven Goodin, the attorney for the archdiocese and for the Catholic schools, said Dias was fired for violating her contract, the Associated Press reported.
“We gave always argued that this case was about a contract violation and should never have been allowed to come to trial,” Goodin said.
He pointed to Dias' same-sex relationship, which she had been concealing from her employer, as evidence she never intended to abide by her contract. The relationship was not at issue in the trial.
Dias' attorney, Robert Klingler, contended that she had been fired simply because she was pregnant and unmarried, an employment action that violated state and federal law.
A central point in the case was whether Dias qualified as a ministerial employee, which would give the archdiocese religious freedom protections in its hiring decisions. The court ruled she was not a ministerial employee, and therefore the archdiocese was not exempt from ordinary employment laws.
Dias also contended that the archdiocese's policies are enforced unequally against men and women.
Klingler said the case shows jurors will apply the law “even to churches and religious organizations when non-ministerial employees are discriminated against.”
Dias' attorneys had asked the jury to award her $637,000. The jury followed the attorneys' request not to find the two schools liable, even though they were also defendants in the lawsuit.
Andriacco, the archdiocese's spokesman, said the archdiocese changed its contracts last fall “to make it explicit that we regard our teachers as ministerial employees.”
“At this point we have no plans for further changes,” he said. “We certainly have no intention to ever remove the morality clause.”
Denver, Colo., Jun 6, 2013 (CNA) -
At the Archdiocese of Denver's Mount Olivet Cemetery, no person is buried without prayers being said over them – even those whose identities are a mystery.
“Sometimes we don't even know the person’s name; they could come to us as a John Doe,” Lloyd Swint, assistant director of Cemeteries and Mortuaries for the Denver archdiocese, told CNA June 4.
“We’ll offer prayers for the repose of their souls, for the forgiveness of their sins, their deliverance into the arms of Christ.”
Because Mount Olivet and the Archdiocese mortuary are on the same property, they are able to take part in two ministries; burials of unidentified deceased and funerals and burials for the poor.
For years, the cemetery has provided a final resting place for a large number of Denver's non-veteran poor and homeless population, seeing it as a testament to the dignity of the human person.
One program the archdiocese takes part is known as “Coroner's Rotation,” in which the coroner’s office contacts cemeteries willing to bury unidentified people for a small stipend awarded by the county.
Even though the person is unknown, Swint says the policy of offering prayers for the deceased is still applied.
“What myself or my director or any one of our administrators does is take the same book that’s used for a full funeral and go out to that grave with a bottle of holy water, whether they’re Catholic or not, and we say the same prayers for that person that we would for anyone else.”
He recalled one day during a driving snowstorm in which he offered prayers for an unknown man.
“I was by myself; there was no one else around, just me and the deceased in the casket,” he said. “I didn’t know that person’s name; I just referred to him in the male gender pronouns.”
He was struck by how humbling it was to be present at that man’s burial even though he never knew him in life. “I believe fully that we’ll run into these people again someday in heaven.”
Swint said taking part in the one of the Corporal Works of Mercy of burying the dead is “very important work,” especially for those who are unidentified.
“The program exists to take care of these poor because in God’s eyes, we’re all the same,” he said.
Mount Olivet also offers funerals and burials for those whose families are without the resources to pay for such services.
In this case, the county social services will provide a small stipend – usually about $600 for the cemetery and $900 for the mortuary.
“Everyone is afforded the same level of service regardless of their ability to pay,” Swint said. “If they can pay, we expect them to do that because we have to cover our costs, of course, and keep our doors open, but we don’t discriminate or check people’s wallets.”
The Archdiocese of Denver Mortuary was established in 1981 and sits on the grounds of Mount Olivet Cemetery which has served as Denver’s Catholic cemetery since 1892.
Rome, Italy, Jun 6, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
An expert on dealing with sexual abuse cases within the Church says prevention guidelines being developed with Vatican oversight should vary from country to country.
“We’ve realized learning habits and how people respond to some questionnaires and comply to rules varies from country to country,” said Father Hans Zollner, a German Jesuit who heads the Gregorian University’s Centre for Child Protection.
“It is most interesting and most inspiring to see this across the different cultures,” Fr. Zollner told CNA June 5.
He explained that some guidelines should apply to all countries equally, since “sexual abuse is sexual abuse, no matter what.”
“But in the Philippines, for example, there is the ‘culture of touch.’”
“It means that if you don’t touch children, hugging and kissing them, there is something wrong and pathological,” Fr. Zollner said.
Korea, on the other hand, is a country where even just talking about sexual abuse is a complete taboo.
“In the Korean society it is impossible to talk about this, even within families, so the West needs to realize our point of view is not the same in the rest of the world,” said Fr. Zollner.
Fr. Zollner met with Pope Francis June 4 along with some participants in a child abuse conference being held in Rome.
“He repeated three times to ‘go ahead, your work is important,’ so we felt very much encouraged,” the German Jesuit reported.
“He is very well aware of the problem and he was listening deeply,” he added.
The conference, which took place May 31 – June 4 was co-sponsored by the U.S. Bishops’ Conference and the bishops of Sri Lanka had the theme “Prevention of abuse: We are going Global.”
Although the conference began in 1996 with English-speakers, the gathering has since brought in representatives from the developing world, especially after the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith mandated in 2011 that all bishops’ conferences draw up guidelines for responding to allegations of sexual abuse.
Fr. Zollner underscored that although sexual abuse is a significant problem within the Church, “it is a much bigger problem in society at large.”
He explained that 67 percent of the cases happen within families and “many more happen in sport organizations and schools.”
“But it doesn’t take away the deep wound, and the Church has to live up to the Gospel and to Jesus, who is the most important model,” he said.
“It is so deplorable and really against the Gospel for any Catholic who abuses minors, especially priests who are meant to heal people,” he stated.
The Centre for Child Protection was founded in 2010 and includes three institutions: the Pontifical Gregorian University’s Institute of Psychology, the Department for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy of Germany’s Ulm University Hospital, and the German Archdiocese of Munich and Freising.
Its main purpose is the creation of a global online training center that provides academic resources for people in pastoral roles who respond to the sexual abuse of minors, taking into account multilingual and intercultural issues.
Vatican City, Jun 6, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Breaking with the practice of his predecessors, Pope Francis will not take a long summer vacation and will stay in Rome, just making short trips to Castel Gandolfo.
In two announcements issued by the Vatican on June 6th, the Pontifical Household shed light on the Pope’s summer plans.
Though he will make at least a one-day visit to Castel Gandolfo, the pontifical residence 15 miles outside of Rome, Pope Francis will continue living at Saint Martha’s House during the summer.
He will lead the Angelus at Castel Gandolfo on July 14, prior to spending the last week of the month in Brazil for World Youth Day.
While Pope Francis’ decision is in keeping with his practice in Buenos Aires, it contrasts with the normal retreat Popes make to the lakeside villa between July and September, the time when the heat is most intense.
Benedict XIV and John Paul II both spent their last summers in the papacy at the residence through September.
One thing that will stay the same is that all general and private audiences with the Pope in July will be canceled, as well as the daily morning Mass that he has been celebrating in St. Martha’s chapel ever since he was elected.
The last Mass in St. Martha’s will be held on July 7, and it is not clear when they will resume.
The Vatican’s press office director, Father Federico Lombardi, told CNA June 6, “All we know is that Mass will stop on July 8. I don't know when it will start again, maybe in September, but I don't know.”
Pope Francis will resume the weekly general audiences at the Vatican on August 7, around the same time they normally begin.
Corrected on June 7, 2013 at 11:45 a.m. Rome time. Changes error in last sentence about the time the general audiences resume.
Vatican City, Jun 6, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis warned priests studying to serve in the papal diplomatic corps and the Vatican’s Secretariat of State not to be career-driven and end up looking ridiculous.
“Please don’t be ridiculous, either be saints or go back to the diocese and be a pastor, but don’t be ridiculous in the diplomatic service, where there is so much danger of becoming worldly in spirituality,” Pope Francis said June 6.
When there is a secretary or a nuncio that doesn’t strive for sanctity, the pontiff added, he “gets involved in so many forms, in so many kinds of spiritual worldliness” and “he looks ridiculous, and everyone laughs at him.”
In his address to 45 members of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in the Clementine Hall, he also warned against focusing on their service as a career and trying to climb the ranks.
“This freedom from ambition or personal aims, for me, is important, it’s important!” he exclaimed.
“Careerism is leprosy! Leprosy! Please, no careerism!” he pleaded.
The academy trains priests to be official representatives of the Pope. The intensive formation process takes four years: two earning a licentiate in canon law and two obtaining a doctorate in canon law.
They also learn diplomatic history, multiple languages and diplomatic writing, as well as other practical skills needed to work as an official papal emissary.
The Pope emphasized to the students that they are being prepared for a ministry, not a profession.
“This ministry calls you to go out of yourself, to a detachment from self that can only be achieved through an intense spiritual journey,” he said.
He explained it also involves “a serious unification of your life around the mystery of the love of God and of the inscrutable plan of his call.”
Pope Francis then asked them to cultivate their spiritual life for the inner freedom that is necessary for their careers.
“The work that is done in the pontifical diplomatic service requires, like any type of priestly ministry, a great inner freedom.”
“It means being free from personal projects, from some of the concrete ways in which perhaps one day you had thought of living your priesthood,” he stated.
The pontiff added it also means being free from the possibilities of “planning for the future, from the perspective of remaining for a long time in a 'your' place of pastoral action.”
And “above all, it means vigilance in order to be free from ambition or personal aims, which can cause so much harm to the Church.”
Being free, he counseled, means trying not to put first “your own self-fulfillment or the recognition that you could get,” but rather “the greater good of the cause of the Gospel.”
“It means freeing yourself, in some way, even with respect to the culture and mindset from which you came,” said the Pope.
“Not by forgetting it, much less by denying it, but by opening yourself up, in charity, to understanding different cultures and meeting with people even from worlds very far from your own.”
The Holy Father also advised the future diplomats to take “great care” of their spiritual life, which he called the “source of inner freedom.”
“Without prayer, there is no interior freedom,” the Pope remarked.
He told them to “cultivate a life of prayer” and make their daily work their “gymnasium of sanctification.”
“Diplomacy should always be permeated by a pastoral spirit, otherwise it counts for nothing and makes a holy mission ridiculous,” he remarked.
“I ask you to pray for me … may the assurance of my prayers and of my blessing, which I cordially extend to all your loved ones, go with you,” he finished.
Vatican City, Jun 6, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis said everyone has “hidden idols” buried in their personalities and recommended discovering and discarding them in order to better follow God.
“Idolatry is subtle, we all have our hidden idols, and the path of life to follow to not be far from the kingdom of God involves discovering our hidden idols,” said Pope Francis.
“The idols, hidden in the many saddles, which we have in our personalities, in the way we live. Drive out the idol of worldliness, which leads us to become enemies of God,” he prayed June 6 during morning Mass.
The Pope made his comments in a homily on Mark 12 at the chapel of the Saint Martha’s House.
“There is a danger of idolatry, which is brought to us through the spirit of the world. And in this Jesus was clear, the spirit of the world? ‘No.’” said Pope Francis.
“At the Last Supper he asks the Father to defend us from the spirit of the world, because the spirit of the world leads us to idolatry,” he pointed out.
He said people “hide their idols in a saddle” like the Bible passage that tells how Rachel, Jacob's wife, pretends she is not carrying idols, which she took from her father's house and hides in her saddle.
“But we have to look for them and we have to destroy them because, to follow God, the only path is that of a love based on loyalty,” Pope Francis said.
“Loyalty demands we drive out our idols, that we uncover them,” he remarked. “They are hidden in our personality, in our way of life.”
According to the pontiff, “these hidden idols mean that we are not faithful in love.”
“Whoever is a friend of the world is an idolater, is not faithful to the love of God!” he taught.
“The path that is not distant, that advances, moves forward in the Kingdom of God, is a path of loyalty which resembles that of married love,” he added.
The Pope asked “even with our small or not so small idolatries, how is it possible not to be faithful to a love so great?”
“To do this, you need to trust in Christ, who is total loyalty and who loves us so much,” he affirmed.
The pontiff focused his homily on the Bible passage in which a scribe asked Jesus what the first commandment was and after Jesus responded and the scribe approved of his reply, Jesus said, “you are not far from the Kingdom of God.”
“With that ‘you are not far,’ Jesus wanted to say to the scribe, “you know the theory very well, but you are still some distance from the Kingdom of God,” said the Pope.
“That is, you have to walk to transform this commandment into reality because we profess God through our way of life,” he stated.
Archbishop José Vitti of Curitiba, Brazil, Archbishop Juan Segura of Ibiza, Spain and Archbishop Chirayath Anthony of Sagar, India concelebrated the Mass with him.
Lateran University employees, its vice rector, Monsignor Patrick Valdrini, staff from the Vatican Library and its vice-prefect Ambrose Piazzoni also attended the Eucharistic celebration.
Washington D.C., Jun 6, 2013 (CNA) - By a vote of 6 to 4, the U.S. House Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice approved a bill on Tuesday that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of gestation.
The bill, introduced by Congressman Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), is based on mounting evidence which indicates that unborn children can feel pain at 20 weeks gestation and possibly earlier.
Rep. Franks said he hoped the recent trial of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell had created a “teachable moment” on the reality of late-term abortions in the U.S. Gosnell was convicted last month of murdering babies who survived his late-term abortions. He was accused of mistreating patients and running an unsanitary clinic with blood-stained rooms and filthy equipment.
“We, as a nation, find ourselves at a point at which we don't offer unborn children even the most basic protections – even protections we extend to animals and property,” Franks said in a press release.
“The trial of Kermit Gosnell exposed late abortions for what they really are: relocated infanticide.”
The Susan B. Anthony List, a national pro-life group, released a statement of support for the bill upon its advancement.
“We praise Congress’ recent action not only to protect the lives of children capable of feeling pain, but to learn more about the practices going on inside late-term abortion facilities throughout the country,” said the group’s president, Marjorie Dannenfelser.
The SBA List is also participating in a new “Stop the Gosnells” coalition as an effort to encourage increased legislation addressing the impact of late-term abortions on women, children and society. The group has sent nearly 40,000 messages to representatives nationwide, calling for a ban on late-term abortions.
While the proposed legislation will need to pass several more hurdles to become law, Franks said he hopes to see it advance in the legislature.
“We are better than dismembering babies who can feel every excruciating moment,” the congressman said. “I look forward to the bill's moving on the full Judiciary Committee and to an eventual vote on this necessary, common-sense measure.”
Miami, Fla., Jun 6, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The last time Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski made a friendly bet with a bishop from Texas, he lost.
Perhaps he will have better luck with his latest bet against San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller as the Miami Heat face the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Championship finals that begin Thursday night.
If the Miami Heat lose, Archbishop Wenski will pay up in the form of stone crabs from Islamorada in the Florida Keys and a box of cigars handmade in Miami-Dade County.
If the San Antonio Spurs lose, Archbishop Garcia-Siller will pay with 20 pounds of barbeque and 10 pounds of fajitas.
Archbishop Wenski placed a similar wager in 2011. When the Heat lost to the Dallas Mavericks, he sent a collection of Key Lime pies, stone crabs, a box of handmade cigars and a fish bowl containing Ft. Lauderdale sand, shells from the beach and water from the Atlantic Ocean to Bishop Kevin J. Farrell of Dallas.
If the Mavericks had lost, Bishop Farrell would have owed his Miami counterpart an assortment of authentic Texas food, as well as a “Don’t Mess With Texas” hat.
Despite the loss, it seems Archbishop Wenski is willing to “Mess With Texas” again.
Other bishops have also joined in the fun. Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay and Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh made a friendly wager on the outcome of the 2011 NFL Super Bowl, offering a “wide variety of local foods” to be donated to a food kitchen in the diocese of the winner.
Pork chops and gumbo were on the line for the 2010 Super Bowl between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints, with Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein of Indianapolis and Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans placing the bets.
The Heat will face the Spurs Thursday at 9 p.m. EST. The Heat are favored to win, and Archbishop Wenski is confident that the team will not let him down.
“I am looking forward to Texas barbecue,” he said at a June 6 press conference, according to the Florida Catholic.
Washington D.C., Jun 6, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A new group of pro-life organization across the country is working to expose and fight abuses such as infanticide and health violations in later-term abortion clinics.
The organizations are uniting in a coalition called “Stop the Gosnells,” named after Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia late-term abortionist who was recently convicted of murdering babies who survived abortions in his clinic, along with several other crimes.
Michael Geer, president of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, argued that despite the narrative promoted by members of the abortion industry, “there surely are more Gosnell-style houses of horror throughout the country.”
“The Stop the Gosnells coalition is dedicated to exposing these atrocities and demanding that Congress take action,” Greer explained in a June 5 statement. “The many lives lost in that West Philadelphia ‘House of Horrors’ require a response.”
Lila Rose, president of Live Action, agreed, saying that the undercover work her organization has done “is exposing the horrifying reality that Kermit Gosnell is not an outlier.”
“His gruesome and inhuman practices make for just a typical day at the office inside abortion facilities across America,” she charged. “We urge the public to take immediate action to protect women and children from the Gosnells still at large in our nation.”
The new coalition is working to expose further abuses at late-term abortion facilities and to urge lawmakers at both the federal and state levels to take action to stop such practices.
Among the concerns raised by its members are the lack of oversight in the late-term abortion industry and the reports of health violations, contamination and patient deaths as a result.
The coalition features a grassroots action center on its website for individuals to contact their elected representatives and urge them to stop the abuse.
The website also highlights the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, introduced by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), that would prohibit abortions past 20 weeks gestation.
Penny Young Nance, president and CEO of Concerned Women for America, applauded Franks and other pro-life advocates for their work to examine the “oversight and practices of late-term abortions facilities.”
However, she said, more action by Congress is needed to further protect women and their children.
“The abortion industry nationwide is rife with the brutality and abuse revealed during the Kermit Gosnell trial,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List, which works to support pro-life politicians.
“The time is ripe to address the questions: what does it mean to truly support women’s health and where do we step in to protect the rights of the most vulnerable?”
“As a nation, we must examine how the scourge of late-term abortion impacts women, children, abortion-industry employees, and our communities,” Dannenfelser said. “We look forward to seeing these discussions take place and be properly addressed by Congress and the states.”
Chicago, Ill., Jun 6, 2013 (CNA) -
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago announced a $350 million fund-raising effort to support Catholic education, religious education for children and teens, and adult faith formation in the archdiocese.
“The Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of Chicago and our faith formation programs make their case in the lives of those transformed by them,” Cardinal George said June 5.
He added that the “To Teach Who Christ Is” campaign is “well-named” and reflects the core mission of the archdiocese.
The campaign aims to provide $150 million in need-based scholarships for archdiocesan Catholic schools, $150 million for parish-specific needs, $30 million for capital needs in Catholic schools and related parish facilities, and $10 million for religious education programs.
Another $8 million of the campaign will provide direct funding for Catholic school program enhancements, while $2 million will develop new approaches to religious education and faith formation.
Campaign priorities were developed with input from administrators, educators, pastors and staff.
Auxiliary Bishop Francis J. Kane, the campaign’s general chair, said the campaign aims to raise sufficient funding “to help all of us teach God’s word and the beauty of the Catholic faith.”
The campaign has raised $82.5 million of its $100 million major gift goal. It is seeking $250 million from Chicago’s 356 parishes, with 60 percent of parish-raised funds remaining with the contributing parish.