Various Catholic News

Why Dr. Rebecca Luckett’s abortion essay is not the “same old same-old”

Catholic World Report - 5 hours 5 min ago
Most ‘Yes-I’m-Catholic-but’ attempts at public conscience massaging warrant little consideration and usually no follow-up. But Dr. Luckett’s recent USA Today essay could be an exception. [...]

When Pope Francis asks young people what they think

Natl Catholic Reporter - 6 hours 44 min ago
"Too often we talk about young people without asking what they think," said Pope Francis at the opening of a weeklong meeting with young people from all over the world.

Supreme Court examines freedom of speech at crisis pregnancy centers

Natl Catholic Reporter - 7 hours 8 min ago
In oral arguments before the Supreme Court March 20, justices seemed skeptical about a California law that requires pro-life pregnancy centers in the state to visibly display information about abortions to their clients that the centers say violates their right to free speech.


Catholic League - 7 hours 13 min ago
Alveda King, niece of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., is an executive producer of a new movie, "Roe v. Wade," that chronicles the origins of the abortion movement in the United States. The film has yet to be released. From the racist views of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, to the founding efforts of pro-abortion [...]


Catholic League - 7 hours 14 min ago
The obituary columns on Nicholas von Hoffman that appeared in recent editions of the New York Times and the Washington Post have one glaring omission: neither mentions that von Hoffman, an influential left-wing writer and a long-time critic of Senator Joseph McCarthy, later concluded that the Wisconsin Irish Catholic was "closer to the truth [about [...]


Catholic League - 7 hours 17 min ago
After launching a petition drive at the end of last year against HBO for tolerating the anti-Catholic bigotry of Bill Maher, we were anxious to see if he decided to pick up where he left off (his show took a two month break beginning around Thanksgiving). When he returned January 19, he went right back [...]

Pope to celebrate Holy Thursday Mass in Rome prison

Natl Catholic Reporter - 8 hours 59 min ago
Pope Francis once again will celebrate the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper in a prison and will wash the feet of 12 inmates, the Vatican announced March 20.

Mississippi governor signs 15-week abortion ban; clinic files suit

Natl Catholic Reporter - 8 hours 59 min ago
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law March 19 the most restrictive state abortion bill in the nation because it bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Motion to remove value attestation in Canada Summer Jobs application fails

Catholic Register Canada - News - 9 hours 30 min ago

OTTAWA – Liberal MP Scott Simms defied his party and voted against the government as a Conservative motion to drop the Canada Summer Jobs attestation requirement was defeated March 19 in a packed House of Commons.

“I thought the attestation was an insensitive measure to those who felt strongly about this, whether they were pro-life or pro-choice,” Simms said after the vote. “I thought it could have been handled better.”

The motion put forward by Conservative MP Karen Vecchio failed by a count of 93 to 207. The vote was held as news reports based on figures from Employment Minister Patty Hadju’s department suggested more than 1,400 summer jobs grant applications had been rejected following implementation of the attestation, compared with only 126 last year. 

Hundreds of applicants have refused to sign the attestation on principle and the government has refused to back down from its insistence that every applicant support the government’s abortion ideology in order to qualify for grants which fund student summer employment.

Simms said “it remains to be seen” if he will face any consequences for his vote. 

The Newfoundland MP said he acted on principle. Describing himself believing in “reproductive rights,” Simms said he represented people, both pro-life and pro-choice, who were “very uncomfortable with this attestation.”

Before the vote, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said it was important “to send a message now that Canadians will not put up with this kind of attack on our Charter rights.”

“I am very concerned this could be taking us down a very dark path of violating peoples’ rights to hold different views or different beliefs,” he said. “It’s a logical concern to think charitable status in general may be next."

The Opposition leader also warned that new public service employees could be required to “sign an attestation they have the same beliefs as the Liberal Party, eliminating anyone who holds different views from working in the public service.”

“It’s the fundamental principle the State has no place in the conscience of the nation,” he said. It’s the principle the State has no right “to peer into your mind and make you believe what they believe or force you to violate your conscience.”

“I think anyone that believes in the proper limits of government should be alarmed by this,” he said.

Conservative MP Garnett Genuis noted at least one MP from every party voted for the motion, including one NDP member (David Christopherson), two Bloc Quebecois and Green Party leader Elizabeth May.

“Don’t let anybody tell you they didn’t have a choice,” said Genuis. “They had a choice. Every member of Parliament always has a choice, and they chose to vote in favour of the values test, against this motion.”

One charity that refused to check the box and is waiting for its final reply from the government is Waupoos Farm, which offers inexpensive vacations for low income families in the Ottawa area. Waupoos board treasurer Patrick Brown said his organization sent a two-page explanation to Service Canada stating why it could not sign the attestation.

“Chief among these was our inability to attest to a statement that violates our moral and religious beliefs and identity,” said Brown in an e-mail. “This document also respectfully requested accommodation of Waupoos' rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Human Rights Act.”

Canadian Federal Government House of Commons Question period, March 19, 2018. 

Barry Bussey, director of legal affairs for the Canadian Council of Christian Charities, watched the vote from the gallery of the House of Commons. “I couldn’t help but be disappointed,” Bussey said. He described the vote as surprisingly “nonchalant.”

“Don’t they really see the seriousness of this issue?” he asked.

I am very proud that fellow Newfoundlander Scott Simms MP for Coast of Bays-Central Notre Dame, voted for his conscience and against compelled speech. #CanadaSummerJobs

— Barry W. Bussey (@barrywbussey) March 20, 2018

The Canada Summer Jobs program provides $223 million in grants to help pay students for jobs at charities, non-profits and small businesses. Though the number of applications has risen to 42,647 this year from 41,961 in 2017, last year the government rejected only 126 files while 199 were later withdrawn by the employer. This year, the government has rejected 1,561 applications while 55 were withdrawn, leading to the estimate of more than 1,400 being rejected for failing to tick the attestation box.

These figures do not take into account charities and parishes such as those in the Vancouver and London dioceses that did not apply this year because of the attestation.


Catholic League - 10 hours 21 min ago
Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on crisis pregnancy centers and who's leading the charge against them: Xavier Becerra is not known to many outside of California, but his place in history is secure: as the state's attorney general, he is the subject of oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court. This is a man [...]

Chairman of U.S. Bishops’ Pro-Life Committee Issues Statement Supporting Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers as Important Free Speech Case Begins

USCCB News - 10 hours 38 min ago

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement praising the work of pro-life pregnancy centers on the occasion of oral arguments being heard today by the U.S. Supreme Court in NIFLA v. Becerra.

Cardinal Dolan's full statement follows:  

"Pro-life pregnancy care centers embody everything that is right and good in our nation: generosity, compassion and love that is offered to support both mother and child. But rather than applauding and encouraging the selfless and life-affirming work of these centers, some governments want to force them to provide free advertising for the violent act of abortion in direct violation of their pro-life convictions and the First Amendment. The United States Supreme Court cannot let this happen. We pray that the Court will do the right thing and uphold our fundamental right to free speech when it decides this case."

The USCCB and several other groups filed a friend-of-the-court brief before the Supreme Court supporting the pro-life pregnancy centers in this important free speech case. The other groups are the California Catholic Conference, the Catholic Health Association of the United States, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the Christian Legal Society and Agudath Israel of America. The full text of the brief is available online:

Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, pro-life pregnancy centers, U.S. Supreme Court, NIFLA v. Becerra, oral arguments, First Amendment, free speech, California Catholic Conference, Catholic Health Association of the United States, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Christian Legal Society, Agudath Israel of America, compassion, love.


Media Contact:
Judy Keane

Praying with paint: Iconography as a conversation with God

Catholic Register Canada - News - 10 hours 46 min ago

Love and pictures go together. You can piece together who and what anybody loves by the pictures on their phone, the pictures they hang on their walls, the pictures pinned to their cubicle at work and the pictures they’ve posted to Facebook.

But the next question has to be that Bee Gees query, “How deep is your love?”

Eleven women gathered at the Sheptytsky Institute on the campus of Toronto’s University of St. Michael’s College late in February to deepen their love over the course of a week spent painting a single, small icon of Christ or of Mary. 

Under the instruction of master iconographer and art restorer Roumen Kirinkov, these women learned to mix dry pigments and yolk emulsions, apply glazes, stretch canvas, mix and apply gesso, handle gold leaf, mix colours, choose and handle brushes. But first they prayed.

“Before starting work, make the sign of the cross; pray in silence and pardon your enemies,” is the first of nine traditional rules for writing an icon.

Icons are most commonly associated with the Byzantine Orthodox churches, but in fact are central to the prayer and culture of all the churches of the East. It is the oldest artistic tradition in Christianity and has become increasingly important to many Roman Catholics.

Iconographers commonly talk about writing rather than painting an icon because they want to distinguish what they are doing from entertainment. A pretty picture can be excellent, even worthy, distraction. But an icon is something akin to Scripture, emerging from and encompassing a tradition that connects the viewer both to the saint or holy figure depicted, but also to the Church.

Louise St. Germain, a graduate student in Eastern Christian theology at Saint Paul University in Ottawa, was born Roman Catholic but fell in love with the Eastern tradition a few years ago. Trying her hand at icon writing was a logical next step for her.

“Art, especially this type of art, forces you to slow down. It’s almost an experience of lectio divina. Everything is so slow.”

Oriana Bertucci, director of student life at St. Michael’s College, said the week-long course was something from her “bucket list.”

“They told me you didn’t need experience. It’s more about prayer,” she said.

The week of slowly building up layers of paint on small, canvas-covered wooden plaques was intensely religious, with prayers and hymns spread throughout the day.

Kirinkov doesn’t give the course often. There isn’t that much demand. He puts his emphasis on the technical skills and craft necessary to produce a good result. It’s the intense concentration, the singular focus on the image, that produces the prayer — not the other way around. 

You can’t pray an icon into existence. You paint it. But the slow, methodical process can only happen at the meeting point of body and soul.

Kirinkov warns his students not to be so serious. A little joy helps.

“Fill my soul with joy and gladness, for Thou alone art the Lover of mankind,” reads the traditional prayer on completing an icon.

Pope to celebrate Holy Thursday Mass in Rome prison

Catholic Register Canada - News - 11 hours 24 min ago
VATICAN – Pope Francis once again will celebrate the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper in a prison and will wash the feet of 12 inmates.

The Pope will celebrate the evening Mass on March 29 at Rome's Regina Coeli prison, the Vatican announced March 20.

Before Mass, the Pope will visit sick inmates in the prison infirmary, the Vatican said. He will celebrate the Mass and wash the feet of 12 inmates in the prison's central rotunda and, afterward, will meet some inmates in the prison's Section VIII, a protected section of the prison for inmates convicted of sexual crimes and other inmates who could be in danger in the general population.

A former convent built in the 1600s, Regina Coeli has operated as a prison since the 1890s. Although the government says the capacity is just over 600 inmates, the monthly census since March 2017 has been more than 900. More than half of the inmates are non-Italians.

The prison is just over a mile from St. Peter's Square.

From the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis has celebrated the annual Holy Thursday evening liturgy at a place of particular suffering. His immediate predecessors celebrated the Mass either in either St. Peter's Basilica or the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

In 2013, for his first papal celebration of Holy Thursday, he went to Rome's Casal del Marmo juvenile detention center, where he washed the feet of young male and female offenders. The next year, he presided over the Mass and foot-washing ritual at a rehabilitation facility for the elderly and people with disabilities on the outskirts of Rome. In 2015, he went to Rome's main prison, Rebibbia, where he celebrated the Mass with the male prisoners there and women from a nearby women's detention facility. In 2016, he celebrated with refugees at a center north of Rome. And, in 2017, he went to a prison in Paliano, some 45 miles from Rome.


Catholic League - 12 hours 51 min ago
Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on a Tennessee radio sports jock's attack on a Chicago nun: Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt is the well-loved chaplain at Loyola University Chicago, and a rabid sports fan. She was delighted when her school upset the University of Tennessee in the second round of the NCAA basketball tournament over [...]

Kentucky considers law on student prayer

Natl Catholic Reporter - 13 hours 42 min ago

The Kentucky Legislature is considering mandating an annual day of student prayer.

House Bill 40 would make the last Wednesday in September "A Day of Prayer for Kentucky's Students" and would require the state's governor to proclaim it as such every year.

The bill passed the Kentucky House last week by a broad margin and is now in the state Senate.

A biologist's epic tale from a Communist regime to the Canadian Arctic

Catholic Register Canada - News - 13 hours 44 min ago
Wine from Raisins, A Life Transformed through Communist Gulag to Canadian Arctic by Josef Svoboda (Novalis, softcover, 240 pages, $27.95)
Josef Svoboda tells the story of a life that encompassed 20th-century history and winds up facing the most important questions of the 21st century — questions about what we have learned from nature, what we have done to our environment and who we will become as we drift away from the natural world. 

“A boy from Moravia survived the Second World War. Then, as a student, he was arrested by the post-war Communist regime and spent almost nine years in various prisons and concentration camps, his life seemingly ruined in the process. But he endured, succeeded in finding freedom on a different continent and, at the end and with God’s help, became a recognized Arctic tundra scientist,” is how Svoboda summarized his life to a Czech radio station in 2010. 

Svoboda tells us this story because he wants us to understand “that nothing is ever lost in life; that it is possible to start anew, even after age 40.”

This epic tale delivers a dose of historical realism to any romantic vision of life behind the Iron Curtain. Svoboda’s life story is rich nourishment for blossoming scientists. 

Wine From Raisins will also help the mature reader fly over a mid-life crisis like an Arctic bush plane flies over half-thawed swamps before touching down on solid ground. 

Svoboda’s love of nature was planted by his Scout leader at an early age and watered by the poems and literature of Ernest Thompson Seton, Thoreau, Ruskin and Kipling.

However, his idyllic boyhood is darkened by Nazi clouds and the armies and political systems that replaced them after the Second World War. Svoboda was only in university for a short time before he was arrested at the age of 20. He would spend his 20s in the forge of the gulag, caught running a parcel for the political resistance. 

This dark section of the book is filled with raw life stories, which Svoboda tells clearly and concisely. This period of formation, in which Svoboda was formally taught courses in philosophy and theology, influenced his intellectual approach to science and religion. The bishops and prelates he lived with behind bars in Leopoldov “carried on very lively discussions about the scientific perception of creation, evolution and Darwinism.” 

His dizzying transfer between prisons and labour camps ends after more than eight years with his release in 1958. Svoboda was sent home a few months shy of his 29th birthday.

“During all those years, I had had the incredible honour of meeting the cream of our nation…. Nowhere else would I have been able to receive such a  thorough physical, moral and even professional formation — not in the army, not in university, not even in the seminary,” he writes.
Blessed with his own hard work, determination and persistence, Svoboda eventually moved forward in his professional life. He landed a research position at the Academy of Science in Brno. 

Svoboda had been pondering a flight to Canada for some time, but he only had a few days to finalize his decision once the circumstances presented themselves. He hit the ground running in Canada. After rapidly finished off his science degree at the University of Western Ontario, he completed a PhD at the University of Alberta in Edmonton and launched an independent research career in the Canadian North.

The author spent decades in the Canadian Arctic on summer research trips. He provides sufficient scientific context without being pedantic and this enables readers to see the beauty of the Arctic with the heart of Josef Svoboda.

A personal letter from Cardinal Štěpán Trochta, Bishop of Litoměřice, imparts a deeply spiritual message about approaching God through nature.

“When you are in that virgin nature... let the living God speak to your heart through nature, and experience that not-yet-deformed, mysterious language with which your intangible Father will speak to you through nature,” the bishop wrote.

Svoboda’s relationship with nature was not stunted by childhood Disney films. This mature and realistic vision is the result of study, dedication and a sense that reality is bigger and deeper than it first appears.

Svoboda’s contemplative gaze at nature spread to his students and the northern silence provided ample space for questions at the boundaries of science.

“In our conversations, we discussed fundamental questions: How did everything originate? Why are we here? What is our mission?” writes Svoboda, who lives in Burlington, Ont.

“As a biologist, I continue to be interested in origins: the beginnings of the world, of life and of future humanity,” he writes. “Philosophically, I would like to figure out where we are heading. Where is this technological civilization taking us?”

I hope this noble scientist and human being has other writing projects planned. Wine from Raisins lights a fire in the belly while also soothing the soul. 

(Woollard is an Associate Scientist for Structura Biotechnology Inc. in Toronto.)

Disgraced cardinal from Scotland dies at 80

Catholic Register Canada - News - 14 hours 6 sec ago
VATICAN – Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien, who resigned five years ago as archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh after admitting to sexual misconduct, died early March 19 at the age of 80.

He had been receiving care at a hospital in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, after suffering injuries from a fall in February. His successor, Archbishop Leo Cushley, administered the last rites March 17 – the cardinal's 80th birthday.

In a telegram to Archbishop Cushley, Pope Francis said he was saddened to learn of the cardinal's death and offered his "heartfelt condolences to you, his family and all who mourn his passing."

"Commending his soul to the merciful love of God our father, and with the assurance of my prayers for the Archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, I cordially impart my apostolic blessing as a pledge of peace and consolation in our Lord Jesus Christ," the Pope wrote in the telegram released by the Vatican March 20.

Archbishop Cushley said in a written statement March 19, "In life, Cardinal O'Brien may have divided opinion; in death, however, I think all can be united in praying for the repose of his soul, for comfort for his grieving family and that support and solace be given to those whom he offended, hurt and let down. May he rest in peace."

The cardinal stepped down as archbishop in February 2013, after the Observer, a British weekly newspaper, carried a story detailing complaints of three priests and one former priest who alleged Cardinal O'Brien had made sexual advances toward them more than 20 years earlier.

The cardinal initially denied the allegations but, less than a week later, he issued a public apology for his actions. He decided not to attend the 2013 conclave that elected Pope Francis and declared he was retiring from public life.

"I wish to take this opportunity to admit that there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal. To those I have offended, I apologize and ask forgiveness. To the Catholic Church and people of Scotland, I also apologize. I will now spend the rest of my life in retirement. I will play no further part in the public life of the Catholic Church in Scotland," he said in a statement in March 2013.

In April 2014, following a request from Pope Francis, the Vatican Congregation for Bishops appointed then-Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna of Malta to go to Scotland to collect testimony for a formal investigation against Cardinal O'Brien.

Though the Vatican did not release a statement about the investigation or its outcome, the College of Cardinals announced in 2015, "The Holy Father has accepted the resignation of the rights and privileges of a cardinal expressed in canons 349, 353 and 356 of the Code of Canon Law, presented by his eminence Cardinal Keith Michael Patrick O'Brien, archbishop emeritus of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, after a long period of prayer."

The Catholic Church in Scotland had welcomed news of the cardinal removing himself from the key duties associated with the office of cardinal, calling it "an unprecedented action."

Cardinal O'Brien had been living in Northumberland County in northeast England, near the Scottish border, in a home purchased by the archdiocese; he led a strictly private life with no participation in any public, religious or civil events.

Born March 17, 1938, in Ballycastle, Northern Ireland, the cardinal's family later moved to Scotland. He was ordained a priest in 1965 and served a parish priest and chaplain of St. Columba Secondary School in Cowdenbeath, where he taught math. He was spiritual director of St. Andrew's College in Drygrange and rector of St. Mary's College, Blairs.

He was ordained archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh in 1985 and served as president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Scotland from 2002 to 2012.

He often expressed concern about the dramatic decline in the number of clergy and, in 2001, he appealed for lay Catholics to take on more administrative tasks within the church to ease the burden on overworked priests.

He was an outspoken supporter of the church and human rights in Latin America, particularly the plight of indigenous people.

Once, speaking at the Church of Scotland's general assembly, he told of his frustration at not being able to share Communion with other churches and expressed hope that closer cooperation between the churches would progress more quickly.

Before leaving for Rome to be inducted into the College of Cardinals by St. John Paul II in 2003, the cardinal made a public profession of faith and affirmed his adherence to church teaching on celibacy, homosexuality and birth control.

The profession came about a week after the then-cardinal-designate had made remarks to reporters indicating he was open to discussion and change on church disciplines regarding celibacy for Latin-rite priests, homosexuality and the use of contraceptives.

The cardinal-designate said, "There is a clear distinction between things that confront us in the church at the present time, which we can say are God's law, like murder, abortion. We can't compromise on matters like that.

"Other matters of church law – and celibacy by priests is one of those sorts of things – can be discussed," he said.

He also had said the presence of homosexuals in the priesthood is not a problem "if they are leading a celibate life."

The entire church, he said, needs "to have a full and open discussion about these issues to see where we stand and what the need is and what the implications are."

In a 2002 interview, he said that while priestly celibacy is a gift to the church he would have "no problem with celibacy withering away," and at the 1999 Synod of Bishops he said the Roman Curia "lobby" had effectively blocked discussion about a married clergy.

His death leaves the College of Cardinals with 214 members, including 117 cardinals who are under the age of 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new Pope.

Morning Briefing

Natl Catholic Reporter - 14 hours 15 min ago
Morning Briefing: In depth look at national ministry of FOCUS; Pre-synod meeting of youths; Confessions of an 'in-between' Catholic; History of Catholic black spiritual traditions; Court hears alleged offenses by Cardinal Pell

News at 4.30pm

Vatican Radio Morning News - 16 hours 25 min ago
Vatican & World News at 4.30pm

U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Chairmen Deeply Disappointed by Congress’ Failure to Enact the Conscience Protection Act

USCCB News - 16 hours 34 min ago

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, chair of the USCCB's Committee for Religious Liberty, reacted with deep disappointment to the news that a very modest but critical piece of legislation—the Conscience Protection Act—was not included in the 2018 appropriations bill just released by Congress.

The full statement follows:

"The failure of Congress to include the Conscience Protection Act in the 2018 omnibus appropriations bill is deeply disappointing. The CPA is an extraordinarily modest bill that proposes almost no change to existing conscience protection laws on abortion—laws that receive wide public and bi-partisan support. The CPA simply proposes to provide victims of discrimination with the ability to defend their rights in court to help ensure that no one is forced to participate in abortion. Those inside and outside of Congress who worked to defeat the CPA have placed themselves squarely into the category of extremists who insist that all Americans must be forced to participate in the violent act of abortion. We call on Congress not to give up until this critical legislation is enacted."

Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, Committee for Religious Liberty, Conscience Protection Act, Congress, abortion, health care, religious liberty


Media Contact:
Judy Keane

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