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Posted on 06/26/2019 19:00 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., Jun 26, 2019 / 11:00 am (CNA).- The House of Representatives passed legislation Tuesday night to provide emergency funding for the humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The bill, HR 3401, provides $4.5 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations to address the humanitarian crisis at the border, and to provide for security. It passed the House by a vote of 230 to 195, largely along party lines with the exception of four Democrats voting against the bill, and three Republicans voting for it.
President Trump has threatened to veto the measure, stating that the legislation “does not provide adequate funding to meet the current crisis” and “contains partisan provisions designed to hamstring the Administration’s border enforcement efforts.”
The appropriations would go to the U.S. Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services. According to ABC news reports, $934.5 million would go to funding processing facilities, food, water and personal items, and transportation and medical services.
Last-minute changes to the legislation included requirements that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issue new standards for the care of migrants and requiring HHS contractors to supply sufficient supplies and medical care for migrants in custody.
“We must meet our responsibility to ensure the humane treatment of children and families in U.S. custody, and this legislation further strengthens protections for those individuals and increases accountability,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) stated.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) criticized the legislation as partisan, noting that it included no funding for a border wall and would likely be vetoed by the president if it passed the Senate. Scalise called instead for the passage of legislation to support border personnel and reform immigration laws to address the root causes of the crisis.
Tuesday’s vote came after President Trump postponed nationwide raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement that were planned to pick up thousands of migrant families with deportation orders for removal.
The chair of the U.S. bishops’ migration committee, Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, stated on Saturday, before the raids were delayed, that “broad enforcement actions instigate panic in our communities and will not serve as an effective deterrent to irregular migration.”
“Instead,” he stated, “we should focus on the root causes in Central America that have compelled so many to leave their homes in search of safety and reform our immigration system with a view toward justice and the common good.”
The situation along the U.S. - Mexico border remains a highly emotive situation, with individual cases drawing comment and attention from civil and religious leaders. A recent photograph showing the bodies of Salvadoran migrant Oscar Alberto Martinez and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria, floating along the Rio Grande riverbank circulated across the world after they were discovered on June 24.
The image caused Pope Francis to speak of his “profound sadness” at the tragic loss of life and his prayers “for them and for all migrants who have lost their lives while seeking to flee war and misery.”
On Wednesday, the USCCB released a statement from Vasquez and conference president Cardinal Daniel DiNardo calling the image “horrific” and the “unspeakable consequence of a failed immigration system.”
“This image silences politics,” DiNardo and Vasquez wrote.
“Who can look on this picture and not see the results of the failures of all of us to find a humane and just solution to the immigration crisis? Sadly, this picture shows the daily plight of our brothers and sisters. Not only does their cry reach heaven. It reaches us. And it must now reach our federal government.”
Posted on 06/26/2019 15:00 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., Jun 26, 2019 / 07:00 am (CNA).- The House Committee on Education and Labor heard testimony June 25 on the Do No Harm Act, a proposed measure to limit the application of landmark religious freedom legislation.
The Do No Harm Act proposes to limit the application of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Critics of the measure warned Tuesday that tampering with the law could hurt religious minorities who need its protections the most.
Matt Sharp, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, said during his testimony that at a time when certain religious freedom protections are unpopular, “RFRA is more urgent and necessary to ensure that the political whims don’t dictate whether an individual or an organization’s faith is respected.”
Sharp said that the Do No Harm Act would withdraw the “opportunity for relief” available to religious groups, “shutting the doors of a courthouse to a lot of individuals and organizations if their claims fall out of disfavor.”
Tuesday’s hearing on Capitol Hill also heard testimony from several witnesses in favor of Do No Harm, including Reps. Joe Kennedy (D-MA) and Mike Johnson (R-LA), and Rachel Laser, President and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was passed by Congress and enacted into law in 1993, receiving unanimous bipartisan support in the House and passing the Senate by a vote of 97-3. President Bill Clinton signed the legislation.
RFRA was supported by leaders in both parties as a response to the 1990 Supreme Court decision Employment Division v. Smith, in which the Court upheld the government in a case involving two Native Americans fired after testing positive for the drug peyote, which they argued they had ingested as part of a religious ritual.
The law prevents the federal government from imposing a substantial burden on the sincerely-held religious beliefs of a person, unless it can establish a compelling government interest in passing the law and the legislation is the least-restrictive means of furthering that interest.
At the time of its passage, RFRA enjoyed broad support from both parties and from advocacy groups across the political spectrum.
“The reason all those diverse groups came together was because the Smith decision caused great alarm around the country,” stated Rep. Johnson in his member testimony at the hearing.
Prior to his time in Congress, Johnson served for nearly 20 years as a constitutional law attorney and a defense litigator in religious freedom cases.
The consensus behind RFRA’s passage was not, he said, a reflection of support for the men in the Smith case, but “the personal views of the lawmakers was not the point.”
“Everyone, both liberal and conservative, recognized that even the sincerely-held religious beliefs of small minority groups are important for us to protect,” Johnson said. “RFRA supporters understood that one day, it could be their own religious beliefs and practices that would be unpopular and face government scorn and restriction.”
“All RFRA provides is a fair hearing,” Rep. Johnson said. “[It] was created to provide a very reasonable balancing test” between sincerely-held religious beliefs and the government’s interest in federal law.
Supporters of the Do No Harm Act argued that, since its passage, application of RFRA has been broadened to allow religious groups to avoid complying with equality and employment laws.
In 2014, RFRA was at the center of the Supreme Court case Hobby Lobby v. Burwell, in the Christian owners of the closely-held for-profit company objected on religious grounds to the Obama administration’s mandate of provision of coverage for certain drugs that can cause abortions.
The Court ruled that Hobby Lobby was exempt from the mandate, which was not the least-restrictive means for furthering the government’s compelling interest of providing contraceptive coverage.
After that decision, critics claimed it violated women’s right to obtain healthcare coverage - including contraceptives, setilizations, and abortifaceant drugs. Legislation was introduced in Congress to limit the use of RFRA in religious freedom cases.
In 2019, Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Joe Kennedy (D-MA) reintroduced the “Do No Harm Act” to forbid the use of RFRA against “equal opportunity and protection against discriminatory laws, protections in the workplace and against child abuse, and health care access, coverage and services.
“Over the years,” Rep. Kennedy explained in his member testimony on Tuesday, “RFRA has morphed from a shield of protection to a sword of infringement.”
“Religion has played a vital role in our nation’s history,” stated Rep. Scott in his opening remarks at Tuesday’s hearing, helping fuel social justice causes such as the civil rights movement and child labor movement. Yet, he said, it has been used as a “pawn” to justify segregation and discriminatory attacks.
New conscience protections, introduced by the Trump administration for health care workers opposed to procedures such as abortions, were cited as a discriminatory practice that was protected by RFRA but against the original spirit of the law.
Opposition to the contraceptive mandate, notably by groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor, was also argued by supporters of the Do No Harm Act to be an unreasonable religious exemption under RFRA, along with religious adoption agencies only placing children with opposite-sex couples—or even with couples from a certain church or Christian denomination.
The Do No Harm Act would “restore RFRA to its original purpose,” Kennedy said. “If civil liberties and legal rights exist only in absence of a neighbor’s legal objection” then they’re not rights, he said.
Rachel Laser, CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State said that the proposed legislation would prevent RFRA from being “misused for something that it wasn’t originally intended to do.”
Against these arguments, Congressmen Sharp and Johnson both testified that RFRA does not disproportionately benefit Christians at the expense of other groups.
In 25 years, Sharp argued in his written testimony, only 16.3% of appellate court religious freedom cases under RFRA were successful—“in other words, the government almost always wins,” Johnson said.
“Critics of the Hobby Lobby decision insisted that the decision would ‘open the floodgates’ to all sorts of new claims under RFRA and to ‘impose Christian values in America and use religious freedom as a license to discriminate.’ That simply has not happened,” Johnson said, citing a Becket Fund study showing that Christians were actually underrepresented among the religious groups making claims under RFRA.
The bill, if enacted, “would eviscerate one of the most important and widely-regarded laws that’s ever been passed by the Congress,” Rep. Johnson said.
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) dismissed the argument that RFRA was being used to protect unfair discrimination in health care, “that is not what RFRA is about,” she said.
“RFRA is not about denying anything to anybody except the freedom of religion—the Do No Harm bill will deny that.”
Posted on 06/26/2019 02:49 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Santa Cruz, California, Jun 25, 2019 / 06:49 pm (CNA).- A university in California removed a bell last week after a Native American group claimed the historic piece was disrespectful to their heritage.
The El Camino Real Bell, named for the California route connecting the 21 Franciscan missions, was removed by the University of California, Santa Cruz on Friday. The bell has been on UCSC’s campus since the 1990s. It is one of a series of bells placed along the route.
The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band issued an objection to the bell during the last school year. The group said the bell symbolized the enslavement and humiliation of their ancestors.
“It is shameful that these places where our ancestors were enslaved, whipped, raped, tortured and exposed to fatal diseases have been whitewashed and converted into tourist attractions,” said Valentine Lopez, chair of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, according to Fox News.
Sarah Latham, the university’s vice chancellor of administrative services, said the move was “in support of efforts to be more inclusive,” the Associated Press reported.
A decision regarding the bell’s transfer or destruction has not been announced yet. Amah Mutsun suggested it should either be placed in a museum or melted down.
The bell is one of the hundreds of others placed around California in 1906. According to the Fox News, a press release from UCSC claimed that these bells has been meant to honor California’s “Hispanic past” and “expand tourism.”
“The bell marker, which memorializes the California Missions and an imagined route of travel that once connected them, is viewed by the Amah Mutsun and many other California indigenous people as a racist symbol that glorifies the domination and dehumanization of their ancestors,” the release continued.
The removal of the bell follows other outcries against historical monuments in recent years. California legislators attempted in 2015 to replace a statue of St. Junipero Serra with Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, at the National Statuary Hall in Washington D.C.
Last year, a bronze statue titled “Early Days” was removed from San Francisco City Hall. It involved three figures - a Native American, the seafarer Francis Drake, and St. Junipero Serra.
Critics argued that the statue was degrading to Native Americans and used visual stereotypes that were racist.
Serra played a key role in the evangelization of 18th-century California. The missions he founded took in thousands of Native American converts to Christianity and taught them technological development skills.
Serra and other missionaries have drawn criticism from those who see them as a symbol of European colonialism and characterize the missions as engaged in the forced labor of Native Americans.
However, their defenders vigorously dispute these claims, noting that participation in mission life, while strict, was voluntary, as well as the efforts by the missionaries to feed, clothe, and house those who came to them.
Pope Francis canonized Serra in 2015. He praised the saint for seeking “to defend the dignity of the native community, to protect it from those who had mistreated and abused it.”
Serra, the pope said, “was excited about blazing trails, going forth to meet many people, learning and valuing their particular customs and ways of life. He learned how to bring to birth and nurture God’s life in the faces of everyone he met; he made them his brothers and sisters.”
Posted on 06/26/2019 01:07 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., Jun 25, 2019 / 05:07 pm (CNA).- With the latest U.S. report on global persecution of individuals and groups based on their religious beliefs, the Trump administration promised action to counter the human rights violations of the countries and groups listed in the U.S. State Department’s 2018 Report on International Religious Freedom.
“As in previous years, our report exposes a chilling array of abuses committed by oppressive regimes, violent extremist groups, and individual citizens. For all those that run roughshod over religious freedom, I’ll say this: The United States is watching and you will be held to account,” said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
Pompeo released the report at a June 21 briefing with U.S. Ambassador-at-large for Religious Freedom Samuel Brownback.
The Secretary of State summarized the situation in the worst countries: “People are persecuted – handcuffed, thrown in jail, even killed – for their decision to believe, or not to believe. For worshipping according to their conscience. For teaching their children about their faith. For speaking about their beliefs in public. For gathering in private, as so many of us have done, to study the Bible, the Torah, or the Qu’ran,” he said.
“Go into any mosque, any church, any temple in America, and you’ll hear the same thing: Americans believe that kind of intolerance is deeply wrong,” said Pompeo, who said it is “a distinctly American responsibility to stand up for faith in every nation’s public square.”
The State Department has 90 days to designate “countries of particular concern” and to choose which countries to put on a special watch list. It can also designate non-state actors as “entities of particular concern.” The designations can have significant legal consequences
Pompeo cited the “good news” that Uzbekistan is no longer listed as a country of particular concern, for the first time in 13 years. Though the secretary said “much work remains,” the country has created a “religious freedom roadmap.” It has released about 1,500 religious prisoners and ended a blacklist that banned about 16,000 people from travel due to their religious affiliations.
Pompeo said the State Department looks forward to legal reforms on registration requirements so that more religious groups may worship freely and so that children may pray at mosques with their parents.
He credited President Donald Trump for leading a government-wide effort to secure the release of U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson from Turkey, saying he had been wrongly imprisoned for his faith.
The briefing also turned critical.
While Pakistan’s Supreme Court acquitted the Catholic woman Asia Bibi of blasphemy and spared her from execution after almost a decade in prison, over 40 people are serving a life sentence or face execution for the same charge. Pompeo called for these captives’ release and for the government to appoint an envoy to address various religious freedom concerns.
Pompeo opposed what he said was Iran’s “crackdown” on Baha’is, Christians and others.
Brownback expanded on this, saying Iranian religious minorities, including Baha’is, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, and Sunni and Sufi Muslims, “face discrimination, harassment, and unjust imprisonment because of their beliefs.”
“Their religious books are banned. They are denied access to education. Their cemeteries are desecrated. Blasphemy and proselytization of Muslims is punishable by death,” he said.
Pompeo criticized Russia’s categorization of Jehovah’s Witnesses as “terrorists,” the confiscation of their property, and the threats to their families. He spoke against the Burmese military’s violence against Rohingya Muslims, saying hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee or to live in overcrowded refugee camps.
China also drew criticism from Pompeo, who said, “The Chinese Communist Party has exhibited extreme hostility to all religious faiths since its founding. The party demands that it alone be called God.”
Brownback added: “China has declared war on faith. We’ve seen increasing Chinese Government abuse of believers of nearly all faiths and from all parts of the mainland.”
“They’ve increased their repression of Christians, shutting down churches and arresting adherents for their peaceful religious practices,” said Brownback, predicting this will affect China’s standing domestically and around the world.
China’s government has made “intense persecution” normal for many religious believers, including Falun Gong practitioners, Christians, and Tibetan Buddhists, Pompeo said.
The State Department added a special section to its report on China to discuss the country’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim population in Xinjiang autonomous region.
Brownback went into more detail on problems in other countries. He objected to Eritrean authorities’ continued house arrest of Eritrean Orthodox Patriarch Antonios, detained since 2006, and the detention of hundreds of other “prisoners of conscience.” The Turkish government continues to keep closed the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople’s Theological School of Halki, he said.
According to Brownback, religious leaders in Nicaragua report “constant surveillance, intimidation and threats.”
“The national police assault priests in full daylight, revealing the government’s contempt for any religious leaders they view as a threat to their authority,” he said.
In Brownback’s view, the Trump administration has made religious freedom a top priority and fought “for people of all faiths.”
“We will not stop until we see the iron curtain of religious persecution come down; until governments no longer detain and torture people for simply being of a particular faith or associated with it; until people are no longer charged and prosecuted on specious charges of blasphemy; until the world no longer believes it can get away with persecuting anyone of any faith without consequences,” he said. “We will not stop.”
Pompeo noted the upcoming second annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, to be held in mid-July, expected to draw up to 1,000 people.
He said the first ministerial was “truly a stunning show of unity – people of all faiths standing up for the most basic of all human rights.” It inspired follow-up conferences in the United Arab Emirates and Taiwan.
The State Department’s International Religious Freedom Fund, launched to support victims of persecution and to “give groups the tools to respond,” has received millions of dollars, he reported.
Pompeo said the State Department is elevating its Office of International Religious Freedom and its Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, effective immediately. These offices will now report directly to the undersecretary for civilian security, democracy and human rights.
Tony Perkins, chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, welcomed the report. He said the State Department should not use pre-existing sanctions or indefinite wavers because these “provide little or no incentive for governments of CPC-designated countries to reduce or halt egregious religious freedom violations.”
The commission was established by Congress to monitor and report on threats to religious freedom abroad. It makes policy recommendations to the President, to the Secretary of State and to Congress. It released its own report in April.
The U.S. itself has been a focus of concerns for religious freedom. While freedom of religion is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and state constitutions, anti-discrimination laws and policies have forced Catholic adoption agencies to close, while Christians in the wedding industry face pressure to serve same-sex wedding ceremonies or face lawsuits.
The House of Representatives recently passed the Equality Act, which would strip religious freedom protections against many discrimination lawsuits.
The Little Sisters of the Poor continue a legal fight to secure their protections from mandatory health care coverage of drugs and procedures barred by Catholic ethics.
The Trump administration’s ban against travelers from several predominantly Muslim countries, characterized during his campaign as a “Muslim ban,” was among other actions that prompted strong concern. It was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision.
Posted on 06/26/2019 00:01 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
St. Louis, Mo., Jun 25, 2019 / 04:01 pm (CNA).- A Missouri judge has agreed to allow the state’s last abortion clinic to continue performing abortions until this Friday, while the clinic appeals the revocation of its license.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services rejected a license renewal request June 21 from Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, citing an “unprecedented lack of cooperation, failure to meet basic standards of patient care, and refusal to comply with state law and regulations.”
Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer of the Missouri Circuit Court in St. Louis ruled June 24 that the Planned Parenthood clinic must take its appeal to the state’s Administrative Hearing Commission for review. Until then, it can continue to perform abortions.
“The Court has no authority to intercede in this matter until there has been a final decision by the AHC,” Stelzer wrote June 24.
The judge had previously granted the clinic a preliminary injunction allowing the facility to continue performing abortions until June 21, despite the state’s refusal to renew its license.
The clinic had sued the state in May to be able to continue to perform abortions. The organization contends there is no valid reason for state rules mandating two pelvic exams before the administration of drugs that induce abortions. It has also rejected state demands that officials interview its medical trainees on staff.
A 2016 state report on an inspection of the clinic, the most recent available through CheckMyClinic.org, shows that the clinic at that time was in violation of multiple state standards involving the sterilization and storing of equipment, and the proper documentation of medication and procedures.
In the DHSS' June 21 ruling, the department cited four botched abortions, one in which the mother developed sepsis and another in which the patient was hospitalized with life threatening complications.
The court’s preliminary injunction allowing the clinic to continue performing abortions is set to expire at 5 pm June 28. Until then the clinic will have to make its case before the independent state commission.
One of the four commission members, former Macon County Associate Circuit Judge Philip Prewitt, has been reprimanded in the past by the Missouri Supreme Court for encouraging people to donate to a local pro-life pregnancy center, the AP reported. Prewitt told the AP that he would consider recusing himself from Planned Parenthood’s appeal.
In a separate case, St. Louis Circuit Court Judge David Dowd ruled June 14 that Missouri’s legislature cannot cut funding from the Planned Parenthood clinic, after the clinic argued that it not only provided abortions, but other health care services, according to a local Fox News affiliate. Missouri Governor Mike Parson said the decision will be appealed.
Parson signed a bill into law in May that punishes abortion doctors who perform abortions on a woman who is past eight weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for medical emergencies which seriously threaten the life or quality of life of the mother. The law does not penalize women who obtain abortions; it is set to go into effect Aug. 28.
Archbishop Robert Carlson of St. Louis called the eight-week abortion ban “a giant step forward for the pro-life movement.”
Although the Planned Parenthood clinic is the last licensed “abortion facility” in the state, the law regulating abortion clinics in Missouri does not apply to hospitals. Several of the largest hospitals in St. Louis are operated by SSM Health, a Catholic health system that does not allow direct abortion.
Barnes Jewish Hospital’s Women and Infants Center in St. Louis, however, lists “pregnancy termination” as one of the services offered at the hospital. St. Louis Public Radio reported in 2017 that Barnes Jewish performs about 150 abortions per year, generally in the case of danger to the life of the mother or fetal abnormalities.
The pro-abortion research group Guttmacher Institute reports that around four percent of abortions are performed in hospitals.
Should the Planned Parenthood clinic be barred from performing abortions, Missouri will be the only US state without a legal abortion clinic. Despite this, there is a private surgical abortion clinic close to St. Louis, across the Mississippi River in Granite City, Ill. In addition, a Planned Parenthood clinic 20 miles from St. Louis in Belleville, Ill. offers medication-induced abortion.
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed this month a law vastly expanding abortion in Illinois.
Besides ending a ban on dilation and extraction, the law removes regulations for abortion clinics and ends required waiting periods to obtain an abortion; lifts criminal penalties for performing abortions and would prevent any further state regulation of abortion; requires all private health insurance plans to cover elective abortions, and eliminates abortion reporting requirements as well as regulations requiring the investigation of maternal deaths due to abortion. Illinois’ Catholic bishops have denounced the new law.
On the other side of the state, nearly half of all abortions performed in Kansas in 2017 were on Missouri residents, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Kansas has two licenced abortion cinics, one in Overland Park near Kansas City and one in Wichita.
Posted on 06/25/2019 20:08 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Baltimore, Md., Jun 25, 2019 / 12:08 pm (CNA).- A Christian grade school in Maryland is filing a lawsuit after state officials denied it participation in a voucher program for low-income students and ordered it to reimburse the state for participating in the program in previous years.
“Bethel Christian Academy offers an academically rigorous and caring Christian education in a diverse environment,” said Alliance Defending Freedom legal counsel Christen Price in a statement.
“Unfortunately, Maryland bureaucrats are telling low-income students that this high-quality education can’t be an option for them due solely to the school’s religious beliefs. Worse still, the state is now demanding Bethel pay back over $100,000 from the two years it participated in the program, which would be a serious financial hardship for the school.”
Bethel Christian Academy is a faith-based grade school in the Baltimore area with some 280 students from more than 40 different countries, including recent immigrants. The school serves Christian students, as well as those of different religious affiliations, or none at all.
The Maryland Department of Education last year disqualified the academy from participating in the state’s Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today (BOOST) voucher program, which benefits low-income students in the area.
The department had previously requested to see the student handbooks of schools in the program. Bethel’s handbook includes a statement of Christian beliefs about marriage and sexuality.
In making its decision, the Department of Education cited a state law forbidding BOOST schools from discriminating in the admissions process on sexual orientation.
However, lawyers with Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing the academy, stressed that the school does not turn away any students based on their sexual orientation. Rather, it asks all of its grade school students to refrain from any kind of sexual conduct.
“While Bethel fully complied with the program’s requirements, Maryland let its hostility toward Bethel’s religious views, not the law, decide the school’s eligibility,” said legal counsel Christiana Holcomb. “Maryland’s families deserve better; that’s why we’re asking the court to address the state’s hostility.”
Bethel families were notified that they could no longer use the voucher at the academy just a few weeks before the start of the 2018-2019 school year. Several families had to remove their children from the school, because they could not afford to send them there without the voucher. One in five students at Bethel relies on some kind of financial aid.
In June 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a church-owned playground could not be excluded from a playground resurfacing reimbursement program run by the state solely on the grounds of being religious.
In that case, Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, the state of Missouri had argued that funding a church-run school violated state constitutional prohibitions on taxpayer funding of churches.
However, the Supreme Court held in a 7-2 ruling that excluding the religious-owned playground violated the Free Exercise Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Posted on 06/25/2019 19:48 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Portland, Maine, Jun 25, 2019 / 11:48 am (CNA).- The Diocese of Portland announced Tuesday it will be using a third-party reporting system for violations of its standards of ethical conduct, such as fraud or harassment.
“Several months ago, after hearing from people around the state, the diocese started the process of establishing this system for individuals to express their concerns in an easily accessible way,” Bishop Robert Deeley of Portland said June 25. “The system is organized to ensure that these reports will be handled in a timely and thorough manner.”
The system will be operated by Red Flag Reporting, an ethics, safety, fraud, and whistleblower hotline based in Akron. According to its website, it was founded “by one of the nation’s largest CPA firms.”
Reports of violations of the diocese's code of ethics will be made through Red Flag Reporting's website or telephone hotline. Red Flag will oversee the handling of each complaint by the diocese.
It is not meant to be used for reporting sexual abuse of minors; the Portland diocese indicated that in those cases, civil authorities and its head of professional responsibility should be contacted.
The reporting system could be used to report such ethical violations as fraud, misconduct, safety violations, harassment, or substance abuse at parishes, schools, or the chancery.
Bishop Deeley said that “To ensure transparency and the success of this initiative, the Church needs the committed involvement of the laity. In partnering with Red Flag Reporting, the diocese is offering stronger protections against problematic activity.”
“It is gratifying to report that the protocols already implemented in the Diocese of Portland regarding the safety of children, through the vigilance of both clergy and laity, have helped to make our Church a safer place for all. Since many of the procedures began in 2002, there have been no substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor by a cleric in the Diocese of Portland. We have similar hope for this new system of accountability.”
Posted on 06/25/2019 11:01 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
New York City, N.Y., Jun 25, 2019 / 03:01 am (CNA).- The Bishop of Brooklyn accepted last week the findings of a nine-year diocesan investigation into the life of Monsignor Bernard John Quinn, known for fighting bigotry and serving the African American population, as part of his cause for canonization.
The information will be sent to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio received the findings at a Vespers service at the Immaculate Conception Center in Queens.
Msgr. Quinn “combatted racism and is an inspiration to the priests of this diocese,” Bishop DiMarzio said. “He is a hero who turned things around and gave his life for his people, died an early death, and was a great man.”
Quinn was born in Newark in 1888, and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn in 1912.
In 1922, he established St. Peter Claver parish, Brooklyn's first church for African American Catholics
Six years later, he established Little Flower Orphanage for African American orphanage in Wading River on Long Island. The building was twice set on fire.
Quinn's great-niece, Mary Clare Quinn, said: “The family was all very proud of the work he was doing at Little Flower, and we all contributed during the winters and summers, going out there to help. They used to burn crosses at our house in Mineola, even after he was gone, but my family stared fear down.”
Msgr. Paul Jervis, postulator for Quinn's cause, said the priest “could not separate his sacramental ministry from the social and political realities that denied to people on account of their race, or immigrant status, the opportunities to enjoy the fullness of life as the Lord willed for all humanity.”
“St. Peter Claver Catholic Church became a meeting ground where white Catholics encountered blacks and discovered that they all had a common humanity with the same human problems, and were all in need of the intercession of St. Therese and the pastoral intercession of Monsignor Quinn,” he said.
Quinn died in 1940 at the age of 52.
The diocesan phase of his cause for canonization was opened in June 2010. At that time, Bishop DiMarzio said that Quinn's ministry “did not end upon his death but has continued to grow and take root in the hearts and souls of the faithful and clergy of this church in New York, which has continually ministered to the poor and oppressed.”
Posted on 06/25/2019 07:13 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Vienna, Austria, Jun 24, 2019 / 11:13 pm (CNA).- Vienna's FC Mariahilf football team has issued a statement of regret after a friendly with the Vatican women's football team was cancelled Saturday after several FCM members lifted their jerseys whilst the Vatican anthem was playing, displaying painted ovaries and pro-abortion messages.
The Vatican soccer team, who had been invited to Vienna by FCM, decided not to go ahead with the June 22 match.
“The action of the three players was independently organized and carried out,” FCM stated. “We sincerely apologize to the Vatican team’s players and guests from near and far that the game was not played.”
The club noted that “tolerance, diversity, of life forms, and peaceful coexistence are important to us, as we have pointed out with rainbow symbols. We therefore understand the demands and message of our players, but we find the timing of their expression inappropriate and therefore understand the emotion it caused.”
The friendly was scheduled to kick off in the early afternoon in a sports arena in Wien-Simmering. Beforehand, both sides had participated in a prayer service and blessing of the pitch.
Austrian state broadcaster ORF quoted one of the FCM players involved in the protest as saying the activists were "not aware of the consequences of their action in any way and would have liked to play the football match".
The activists also handed out leaflets to journalists attending the match. These stated that the activists did not assent to the Church's teaching on abortion and same-sex marriage.
"They were not aware that the timing of the action during the playing of the Vatican anthem and in the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio could be detrimental to the idea of sport and ruin many weeks of preparation", reported the ORF.
When announcing the upcoming game, the German section of Vatican News reported FCM founder Ernst Lackner as saying he had initially not expected that the Vatican team would really accept the invitation, but that the Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, had assured the Vatican team that FC Mariahilf was a serious team that was also strongly committed to charity.
The papal women's football team had its first appearance in 2018 and immediately received an invitation from FCM, which is currently playing in the Wiener Landesliga, the third highest league in domestic women's football.
Posted on 06/25/2019 02:00 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., Jun 24, 2019 / 06:00 pm (CNA).- A group of about 350 people, including priests, sisters, and laypersons, processed through Washington, DC on Sunday to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi. The procession wound past national landmarks and stopped at the homes of the faithful along the way.
The procession was led by Monsignor Charles Pope, the pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian Church in Washington, and was about one and a half miles in length. The procession ended at St. Joseph’s Church, on Capitol Hill, and included stops at two home altars along the way.
Over the course of the procession, the Eucharist was carried past the Capitol building and Supreme Court. Those processing sung hymns and prayed the Rosary.
This year was the first Eucharistic procession on Capitol Hill in recent memory. Catholic Men United, a group that “exists to fight for the honor and purification of Christ’s bride” also helped to organize the event. Pope is the group’s spiritual director.
Writing on the Archdiocese of Washington website, Pope said that Capitol Hill is, “a location that inspires both awe and anger. It is the epicenter of power in our country, power for both great good and great evil. Yet here we are as well, the Church.”
“We processed up a street where many protesters have walked before, past the homes of believers as well as non-believers, past rainbow flags as well as Madonnas in front yards, past the homes of members of Congress and ‘ordinary’ folks as well,” said Pope.
The procession went smoothly, without any major disruptions or protests, albeit there were many a curious stare from those walking by.
Pope said the procession was offered “in reparation for the sins and shortcomings of the members of the Church, both clergy and lay.”
“We will commit ourselves anew to the Lord, acknowledging our past sins and seeking grace to overcome our shortcomings and resist temptations,” he said. “We will cry for God’s mercy on us and on our nation. Without grace and mercy, we do not stand a chance, but with the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.”
“I don’t know how to describe feeling so humbled and unworthy at the same time as honored and deeply loved,” said Robin Fennelly, whose home was a stop along the procession.
“All I could do was kneel, weep, and throw rose petals at the feet of the holy priests carrying our Lord.”