Archive of July 9, 2014

Vatican official praises Sr Cristina for going to 'peripheries'

Rome, Italy, Jul 9, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - A priest at the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization has said Sister Cristina Scuccia, who recently won The Voice Italy, is an example of how the Church must go out to the existential peripheries.

"What Sister Cristina has done can be considered going out to the peripheries, because she has gone to a different stage to bear witness to her choice of life, and in this sense I think she has hit the target," Father Alejandro Diaz, a Colombian, said in a recent interview with CNA.

Like Sister Cristina, he explained, "we have to come out ourselves to speak of God to others, not in the abstract, but about what God has done in our lives."

At the beginning of June, the 25 year-old religious won The Voice Italy and gained world-wide acclaim for her charisma and ability to bring share the Word of God with the public.

"I have a dream, which is to hold hands and pray together the Our Father," she told the studio audience when she won. "I want Jesus to enter into here."

Sister Cristina "sings but she also talks about God and invites people to pray,” the priest noted.

“She said she wanted to transmit a gift, and to me it was not only the gift of her singing ability but also the gift of her vocation, because she is a young religious who went on this stage without fear and said, 'I am a religious, I believe in God.'”

He said Sister Cristina should not be made into an idol but should be seen as a means of reaching God, because "the Holy Spirit will always be the great evangelizer, and he doesn't have only one method or stage for bring people close to Christ. There are many ways to evangelize and Sister Cristina has shown us one of them.”

In accord with the synod for the new evangelization in 2012, which recognized that beauty is a means of evangelization, Fr. Diaz said Sister Cristina's example shows that it is possible to be a witness to the faith in the media and through art.

Music can be a channel for speaking of God and conveying an explicit message based on the Gospel, "and it is certainly one of the many ways through which we can bring the person of Jesus to the people," he explained.

In her first statements to the media after her win, Sister Cristina Scuccia said she would now "return to my priorities, which are Jesus and prayer."

Since then, she has made only two public appearances, one on June 14 on the TV2000 program "Good News Festival," and another on June 27 on the Rai2 program "Donne ad alta quota."

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Indian bishop's residence dedicated to St John Paul II

Miao, India, Jul 9, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - With gratitude to St. John Paul II for his legacy and inspiration in serving young people, the Diocese of Miao has dedicated its new episcopal residence to the late Pope.

During a May 24 ceremony the residence, which will also serve as offices for the diocesan curia, was blessed and dedicated by Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, apostolic nuncio to India and Nepal.

"John Paul II is a modern day saint, and an example how holiness and sanctity can be pursued even in this modern world … a life of service to the people of God without seeking for appreciation and rewards will certainly lead one to sanctity,” Bishop George Pallipparambil of Miao told CNA.

He expressed profound gratitude to the nuncio and to all the benefactors who had contributed to the successful completion of the new building.

“This new house being dedicated to St. John Paul II, who loved the youth very much, is an expression of our own bishop's loving concern for the youth,” Fr. Felix Anthony, communications and youth director of the Miao diocese, told CNA.

“Our diocese is a Church of the laity,” he said, “and our Bishop George Pallipparambil, knowing very well the role of youth for the growth of the society, has always encouraged and supported young people.”

Fr. Anthony explained that the bishop's former residence was too small to accommodate the offices of various diocesan commissions, and a larger space was thus a pertinent need for the diocese.

The diocesan youth commission and commission for women have already established their offices in the new residence, and other committees are to “follow soon,” Fr. Anthony said.
The dedication was attended by Archbishop John Moolachira of Guwahati, Miao's metropolitan archdiocese, as well as several other bishops, plus priests, religious, thousands of the faithful, and dignitaries from the region.

Archbishop Pennacchio lauded the efforts at spiritual and human development that are being carried out in the diocese, saying, “I am so happy to be here with you today on this important event in the history of the Diocese of Miao.”

“I am overwhelmed by the warm welcome and colourful reception I received from the time I reached at the airport till I reached this place … Your presence in large number today is an example of the strong Church here this region. I would like to congratulate Bishop George for the hard works he does for the people in this region and wish that God’s blessing be upon him, in this new Bishop’s House and all the people in this region.”

Bishop Pallipparambil commented that “though the new house looks huge in comparison to the old house, I would like to stress that the spirit of this new house will continue to be one of service and brotherhood.”

Following the blessing and inauguration, the diocese held a cultural program and a community meal for those in attendance.

Fr. Anthony said the day's joy was heightened by the inauguration of the cause of canonization of the French missionaries Nicholas Michael Krick and Augustine Etienne Bourry, the first martyrs of northeast India.

The two were killed in 1854 while on their way to Tibet, in the Somme village of Arunachal Pradesh, the Indian state where Miao is located.

Arunachal Pradesh is a remote part of India, and part of it is claimed by China; the diocese borders both China and Burma.

The area is mountainous, home to the easternmost portions of the Himalayas. Its mountainous terrain and remoteness has led to challenges of poverty, a lack of infrastructure, and underemployment.

The Diocese of Miao was established in 2005, and Bishop Paramilitary, a Salesian, is its first bishop. The diocese is home to 83,500 Catholics across an area of nearly 17,000 square miles.

The diocese's total population is roughly 500,000, with Christians – most of them Catholic – comprising some 19 percent of the population.

The largest religious group is Hindus, with large minorities of Buddhists and traditional religions, as well as small numbers of Muslims, Sikhs, and Jains.

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New Jersey Dominicans launch monastery expansion initiative

Newark, N.J., Jul 9, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Dominican monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary was first built in 1930s on donations of a dime per brick. Today, the Dominican community is praying for God’s continued providence for their new expansion project.

“Our monastery was built literally by the dimes of people, who after the Depression would donate a dime for a brick,” Sister Mary Catharine Perry, OP, told CNA July 8. “To this day this is how, in God’s providence, we continue to receive support.”

“It’s a beautiful tribute to the faith of so many people to our way of life.”

The $4 million “Making the Light Shine Brighter” capital campaign aims to build a 5,500 square foot addition to the monastery.

The new wing will be fully handicapped accessible, and the chapel will be renovated to provide handicap accessibility.

Sr. Perry said the accessibility is crucial because many elderly or disabled faithful come to the monastery for Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament or to pray the Office of Readings and Midafternoon Prayer with the Dominican community.

“We have people who painfully go up the stairs with walkers and canes,” she said. “We know of people who drive up to the front (of the monastery) and, because we keep the doors open in the summer, they make their adoration from their cars because they can’t come inside.”

The new wing will also include several guest rooms, parlors, a dining room and a gift shop, to further accommodate guests and visitors.

“The monastery is not just for us nuns,” Sr. Perry reflected. “I think it’s significant that our monastery is dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary because it is through her and the power of her rosary that each person is drawn to a more intimate union with Christ. We don’t know how many moments of conversion have happened here, but we have heard enough stories to know that it happens.”

The proposed addition will also accommodate the growing contemplative community.

Today, the Dominican community boasts sixteen nuns. But they are expecting four new postulants to begin arriving in the fall. Sr. Perry said several other young women have expressed a desire to apply to enter the community after they graduate in 2015.

Sr. Perry said the monastery’s current living quarters can comfortably fit twenty-four, which is the limit for the refectory, chapter hall, and community room. The new wing will include workrooms, offices, and an exercise room for the sisters.

The “Making the Light Shine Brighter” initiative launched in May; thus far, the Dominican community has received about $575,000 in donations and pledges; they also produce soaps, balms, and similar products for purchase.

Sr. Perry said her community hope to begin construction as early as 2016 to mark the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Dominican Order; in order to meet that deadline, they need to raise at least 75 percent of their $4 million goal.

“We see our monastery as a gift of which we are merely stewards. With so many churches and convents closing today isn’t it wonderful to be part of something that is growing?”

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Hate-speech laws a 'tool of totalitarianism,' lawyer warns

Vatican City, Jul 9, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - During a recent event discussing the origin and implementation of European hate-speech laws, lawyers argued that the “ill-conceived” laws pose a danger to free speech and often stifle constructive dialogue.

“While human rights provisions are meant to limit the reach of the state and empower citizens, hate speech laws do just the opposite – and that is why they are a tool of totalitarianism and not free democracies,” Alliance Defending Freedom’s legal advocate Paul Coleman stated in a July 4 speech.

Coleman’s discourse was part of a side-event hosted by the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe during a July 3 – 4 Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (‘OSCE’) Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting, which took place at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna.

Referring to the side event’s title “’Hate Speech’ Laws in the OSCE Region:  A Growing Threat to Freedom of Expression,” Coleman explained to CNA July 8 that the laws are not well defined, and therefore “are considered to be ill-conceived for several reasons.”

“The concept of ‘hate speech’ has no universally recognized understanding, as the European Court of Human Rights has said,” the lawyer noted, adding that because of this “hate speech laws are often over-extensive. They are loosely worded, employing malleable concepts such as ‘insult’ or ‘contempt.’”

“This allows them to be arbitrarily enforced by the police and tempts judges to make undemocratic value judgments when interpreting and applying the law,” he continued, observing that because the laws lack an “objective standard,” they focus more on how the listener feels and exclude “the truth of the statement.”

In his speech for the side event Coleman gave a brief history of hate-speech laws in Europe, detailing how they arose in the 1940s after the foundation of the United Nations. Following the U.N.’s formation it launched the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which included the right to free speech.

Recalling how there were some who argued that unbridled free speech would allow “hateful propaganda” to spread and so demanded limitations,  the lawyer noted that the dominant voice in these objections came from “the communist led nations of the day: the former Soviet Union and her allies.”

“Of course, present day ‘hate speech’ laws cannot be rejected simply because they were first introduced through the concerted pressure of totalitarian regimes,” he clarified, “But this fact ought to at least arouse suspicion among modern day supporters of ‘hate speech’ laws.”

Naming several reasons why the present day laws should not be considered in the restriction of free speech, Coleman stated that first of all they “restrict the self-fulfillment of the individual.”

“The realization and fulfilment of one’s potential as a human being is an intrinsic human good,” he said, observing how the free exchange of thoughts and opinions “is essential for achieving this goal.”

“Hate speech laws restrict the attainment of truth,” he continued. “It is only by the collision of adverse opinions that truth has any chance of being supplied,” he affirmed, stating that the laws suppress this exchange.

Another reason the laws should not be considered is because they “greatly restrict free speech, without which there can be no discussion amongst an informed citizenry, and without discussion there is no democratic process.”

“This applies not just to ideas or speech that are popular or inoffensive, but also to words that may offend, shock or disturb.”

Noting how hate speech and insult laws “have a chilling effect that leads to self-censorship and the shutting down of dialogue,” Coleman explained that “Rather than promoting tolerance, hate speech laws can actually lead to even greater intolerance and marginalization by driving unpopular ideas underground where they are left unaddressed.”

Coleman observed how the laws can also lead to a withdrawal “of tolerance and free expression” among those who simply hold different viewpoints, particularly on the topics of marriage and religion.

“They have been used to fine or silence pastors for preaching in their churches, and café owners for displaying Bible verses on their store’s televisions,” he went on, citing a case from 2009 in which the owners of a Liverpool hotel were arrested after a guest complained to the police about a breakfast conversation in which they discussed their differing religious viewpoints.

Although the couple was eventually acquitted of the hate speech charges, the 20,000 Lira cost of the prosecution as well as the withdrawal of one of their largest clients after the investigation caused them to sell their business.

Citing a final reason why the laws are concerning, the lawyer stated that they “conceal deeper social issues” by diverting “public attention from the real causes of a crisis that affects society as a whole.”

“Seemingly irrational expressions of hate based on the status of a target can alert us to the fact that something is wrong in the body politic, and that change is needed,” he affirmed.

“These reasons should give pause and lend balance to historical and cultural defenses of hate speech law.”

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Holy See announces new economic, communications framework

Vatican City, Jul 9, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Vatican announced Wednesday major changes to both its economic and communications frameworks, including an increased role for the Secretariat for the Economy.

Also announced were the appointment of a new president for the 'Vatican bank' , a committee to study the Vatican's pension system, and a new committee for Vatican communications.

“There are many challenges and much work ahead,” said Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, at a news conference held July 9, during which he presented the changes to the Vatican economy.

By a July 8 motu proprio, “Confermando una tradizione,” Pope Francis modified the section of “Pastor bonus”, the apostolic constitution regulating the Roman Curia, which governs the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.

The motu proprio transferred the competencies of APSA's ordinary section to the Secretariat for the Economy.

The transfer of APSA's ordinary section to the Secretariat for the Economy will be managed by a small project management office led by Danny Casey, who was a trusted advisor to Cardinal Pell when he was Archbishop of Sydney.

With the transfer of competencies, APSA will serve as a treasury or central bank for the Holy See and Vatican City.

The 'Vatican bank”, or IOR, meanwhile, will continue its reform under a new executive team.

Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, a Frenchman who is a member of the Council for the Economy, is the IOR's new president.

de Franssu told journalists, “it is a great responsibility that I have accepted, and I do so with great humility to help the Holy Father and the Church, to increase their work for the poor and for the propagation of the faith.”

Along with de Franssu, three lay members of the new IOR board were appointed: Clemens Boersig of Germany; Michael Hintze of the U.K.; and Mary Ann Glendon of the U.S. Two additional lay members will be announced later.

Monsignor Alfred Xuereb, secretary general of the economic secretariat, will be a non-voting secretary of the IOR board, and Msgr. Battista Ricca will remain its prelate. The cardinal commission for the Vatican bank will now include Cardinal Josip Bozanic of Zagreb, as well as its five existing members.

The new board will carry on the process of reform of the IOR; over the next three years, its statutes will be revised to reflect three priorities: strengthening its business foundation; shifting asset management to a separate office; and focusing the IOR on giving financial advice and payment services for clergy, congregations, dioceses, and lay Vatican employees.

Regarding Vatican pensions, the Council for the Economy has established a committee to make proposals for their revision.

“The pensions being paid today and for the next generation are safe,” but “the fund needs to ensure there are sufficient funds for future generations in changing environment,” noted Joseph Zahra, the economic council's deputy.

The Vatican has also appointed a committee to reform Vatican media and communications, with members coming from both the Vatican and internationally.

The international experts appointed are Christopher Patten of the U.K., who will be the committee's president; Greg Erlandson of the U.S.; Daniela Frank of Germany; Fr. Eric Salobir, O.P., of France; Leticia Soberon of Spain; and George Yeo of Singapore.

Its Vatican staff are Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications; Giacomo Ghisani of Vatican Radio; Msgr. Carlo Maria Polvani of the Secretariat of State; Msgr. Lucio Adrian Ruiz of the Vatican Internet Service; and Giovanni Maria Vian of L'Osservatore Romano.

The committee is entrusted to draft within 12 months a reform plan, with the task to adapt the Holy See media to changing media consumption trends, enhance coordination and achieve progressively and sensitively substantial financial savings.

Cardinal Pell announced that “following the recent positive experiences with initiatives like the Pope App and the Holy Father’s twitter account, digital channels will be strengthened to ensure the Holy Father’s message reach more of the faithful around the world, especially young people.”

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Violence begets violence, Church leaders in Holy Land declare

Vatican City, Jul 9, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - In a declaration issued by the Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land, Church leaders decried ongoing violence in the region, criticizing leaders’ closed-mindedness, and calling for peaceful negotiations.

“To these we also say: Violence as a response to violence breeds only more violence,” the  July 8 declaration stated.

“A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more,” the declaration began, quoting the prophet Jeremiah.

Issued by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land, the declaration lamented the many who have fallen victim to the latest round of the violence “that plagues this land.”

“Some of their faces are well known because the media have covered their lives in detail…whereas others – by far more numerous – are mere statistics, nameless and faceless.”

“The selective coverage, mourning and memory are themselves part of the cycle of violence,” the assembly observed, and prayed that “those that have fallen recently will be the last to die violent deaths in this escalation of hatred and vengeance.”

Going on, the assembly lamented the region’s continuous cycle of violence, stating that their hope of ending it is “shattered by the irresponsible language of collective punishment and revenge that breeds violence and suffocates the emergence of any alternative.”

“Many in positions of power and political leadership remain entrenched, not only unwilling to enter into any real and meaningful process of dialogue but also pouring oil on the fire with words and acts that nurture the conflict.”

Tensions between Israeli and Palestinian have soared in recent weeks following the murder of three Israeli teenagers – Gilad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel, both 16 – and Eyal Yifrah, 19, whose bodies were found June 30 in shallow graves near the West Bank after their June 12 disappearance.

Following the discovery of the teenagers’ bodies, Israel launched 34 airstrikes over the Gaza Strip, which officials stated was a response to 18 rockets that had previously been fired into Israel from Gaza. Blasts from both sides have continued, despite a proposed ceasefire last week.

In what is being called an act of retaliation for the killing of the Israeli teens, extremists kidnapped and murdered Mohammed Abu Khdair, a 16-year-old from Palestine. His body was found June 2 in West Jerusalem following the funeral of the three Israeli teenagers.

“The violent language of the street in Israel that calls for vengeance is fed by the attitudes and expressions of a leadership that continues to foster a discriminatory discourse promoting exclusive rights of one group and the occupation with all of its disastrous consequences,” the declaration went on to say.

“Settlements are built, lands are confiscated, families are separated, loved ones are arrested and even assassinated,” it stated.

Observing how occupation leadership “seems to believe that the occupation can be victorious by crushing the will of the people for freedom and dignity,” the assembly explained that they “seem to believe that their determination will ultimately silence opposition and transform wrong into right.”

On the other hand the declaration also denounced “the violent language of the Palestinian street that calls for vengeance,” noting that it is “fed by the attitudes and expressions of those who have despaired of any hope to reach a just solution to the conflict through negotiations.”

“Those who seek to build a totalitarian, monolithic society, in which there is no room for any difference or diversity, gain popular support, exploiting this situation of hopelessness,” it went on.

Referring to the kidnapping of the Israeli teenagers as well as the “brutal vengeance killing of the Palestinian youth,” the assembly emphasized that both are “products of the injustice and of the hatred that the occupation fosters in the hearts of those prone to such deeds.”

“Using the death of the three Israelis to exact collective punishment on the Palestinian people as a whole and on its legitimate desire to be free is a tragic exploitation of tragedy and promotes more violence and hatred.”

Drawing attention to the invocation for peace in Israel and Palestine that was held at the Vatican last month, the declaration highlighted the importance of Pope Francis’ words when he told the presidents of each country that “Peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare.”

In order to end the cycle of violence a “radical change” is needed on the part of everyone involved, the assembly observed, and that change begins with the need “to shake off any leadership that feeds on the cycle of violence.”

“We must find and support leaders who are determined to work for justice and peace, recognizing that God has planted here three religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and two peoples: Palestinian and Israeli.”

“Such leaders,” the declaration read, “have the vocation to be healers, peace makers, seekers of justice and visionaries of the alternatives to the cycle of violence.”

Calling attention to the role of religious leaders in the area, the assembly affirmed that it is their task “to speak a prophetic language that reveals the alternatives beyond the cycle of hatred and violence.”

The declaration concluded by pointing out how this language “opens up the possibility of seeing each one as brother or sister.”

Quoting Pope Francis’ speech at the invocation for peace, the declaration affirmed that “We have heard a summons, and we must respond. It is the summons to break the spiral of hatred and violence, and to break it by one word alone: the word ‘brother.’”

“But to be able to utter this word we have to lift our eyes to heaven and acknowledge one another as children of one Father.”

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Papal delegation to investigate Paraguayan diocese

Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, Jul 9, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis is sending an apostolic visitation to the Diocese of Ciudad del Este, a Paraguayan diocese the vicar general of which has a history of sexual abuse accusations.

Archbishop Eliseo Ariotti, apostolic nuncio to Paraguay, announced July 2 that the Pope will be sending an apostolic visitation to the diocese July 21-26 “to determine not only what has happened recently, but all there is to see in the house of Ciudad del Este.”

Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major, will lead the investigation; he is to be assisted by Bishop Milton Troccoli Cebedio, an auxiliary of the Montevideo archdiocese.

Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity, an Argentine native, is a vicar general for the Ciudad del Este diocese, but he served in the Diocese of Scranton from the late 1990s until 2002, when a highly publicized lawsuit accused him of sexual misconduct involving minors at the now-closed St. Gregory's Academy.

Both Fr. Urrutigoity and another priest, Fr. Eric Ensey, were suspended by now-retired Bishop James Timlin, who also suspended the Society of St. John to which the priests belonged.

A statement on the Diocese of Scranton website describes Fr. Urrutigoity as a “serious threat to young people” and says that Bishop Timlin's immediate successor, Bishop Joseph Martino, cautioned the bishop of Paraguay against accepting Fr. Urrutigoity as an active priest.

“Bishop Martino … carefully and consistently expressed his grave doubts about this cleric’s suitability for priestly ministry and cautioned the bishop of the Diocese of Ciudad del Este, Paraguay to not allow Father Urrutigoity to incardinate into his diocese,” the statement reads.

“Despite these serious cautions, Bishop Rogelio Livieres informed the Diocese of Scranton that he was allowing Father Urrutigoity to incardinate into his Paraguay diocese.”

The Diocese of Scranton also expressed its ongoing efforts to fight abuse within the Church “despite what appears to be a lack of reciprocity in this particular case.”

The current bishop of Scranton, Joseph Bambera, commented on the case in the statement, saying that “every case of sexual abuse is appalling and leaves profound wounds. Cases such as this demand the promise of every diocese, parish and school throughout the Church to do all we can to learn from the mistakes of the past and establish safeguards for the future.”

A July 7 statement of the Diocese of Ciudad del Este called the visitation “long awaited,” noting that Bishop Livieres had invited it so that Vatican authorities can “know of all the work being realized in this area of the country” and inform the Holy See “about our vibrant and growing diocese.”

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Proposed bill aims to thwart Hobby Lobby court decision

Washington D.C., Jul 9, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Thirty-five U.S. Senators have introduced legislation to strip religious freedom protections from businesses with objections to mandatory insurance coverage for contraceptives and abortifacient drugs.

The senators are backed by both the White House and abortion rights groups.

The bill summary objected that the Supreme Court allows some corporations to “get out of complying with the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage requirement if they have religious beliefs against birth control.”

The summary, from bill co-sponsor Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), claims that the bill would “stop employers from being able to impose their religious beliefs on their employees.”

“The 13,000 Hobby Lobby employees took a job to work at an arts and crafts store, not a church or synagogue,” Murray wrote.

The Supreme Court on June 30 ruled that federal religious freedom protections required the Obama administration to accommodate the objections of the owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods Services.

The two closely-held businesses, run by Protestant and Mennonite owners, objected to aspects of a Department of Health and Human Services rule that require them to provide coverage for drugs that they believe can cause abortions.

The mandate’s requirement to cover sterilization procedures and contraceptive drugs, including abortifacients, is particularly burdensome on Catholic businesses and organizations.

Many of these organizations, along with the U.S. bishops, welcomed the court’s 5-4 decision in favor of Hobby Lobby in hopes it would strengthen their religious freedom and protect them from the massive fines intended to penalize non-compliance.

However, the new bill’s lead co-sponsors, Murray and Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), contended that the decision limited women’s health care options.

The new bill is called the Protect Women's Health from Corporate Interference Act.

“My common-sense proposal will keep women's private health decisions out of corporate board rooms, because your boss shouldn't be able to dictate what is best for you and your family,” Udall said July 9.

Murray said that “after five justices decided last week that an employer's personal views can interfere with women's access to essential health services, we in Congress need to act quickly to right this wrong.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) said he would bring the bill to a vote next week. All 35 co-sponsors of the Senate bill are Democrats.

The New York Times reports that the bill was drafted in consultation with the Obama administration.

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) said she will introduce companion legislation in the House of Representatives. She said sixty members of Congress have said they will co-sponsor the bill, ABC News reports.

The bill is supported by NARAL Pro-Choice America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the political arm of the largest abortion provider in the U.S.

The U.S. bishops on June 30 said the Hobby Lobby decision recognized “that Americans can continue to follow their faith when they run a family business.”

“Now is the time to redouble our efforts to build a culture that fully respects religious freedom,” they said, noting that the court has not yet decided whether federal religious freedom protections apply to Catholic charities, hospitals or schools.

“We continue to hope that these great ministries of service, like the Little Sisters of the Poor and so many others, will prevail in their cases as well.”

The Hobby Lobby decision, which benefitted non-Catholic Christians, prompted outpourings of anti-Catholic sentiment in part because the five justices in the majority identify as Catholics.

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