CNA General News

Syndicate content CNA
ACI Prensa's latest initiative is the Catholic News Agency (CNA), aimed at serving the English-speaking Catholic audience. ACI Prensa (www.aciprensa.com) is currently the largest provider of Catholic news in Spanish and Portuguese.
Updated: 49 min 23 sec ago

Third priest shot and killed in Philippines in six months

Mon, 06/11/2018 - 5:22 PM

Manila, Philippines, Jun 11, 2018 / 03:22 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A Catholic priest in the Philippines was shot and killed in a chapel as he prepared to celebrate Sunday Mass on June 10, local police said.

Father Richmond Nilo is the third priest to be killed in the Philippines in the past six months. Another priest survived an assassination attempt in another part of the country on June 6.

Two unidentified gunmen shot Father Nilo four times through a window of Nuestra Senora de la Nieve Chapel in Zaragoza in the late afternoon, an initial police investigation indicated. The shooting left a pool of blood below the statue of the Virgin Mary, reported the Associated Press.

“We are deeply saddened and terribly disturbed that another priest is brutally killed,” said Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao in a June 11 statement released by the Filipino Bishops’ Conference.

“We make our appeal once again to the police authorities to act swiftly in the investigation and to go after the perpetrators of this heinous crime and bring them to justice.”

Fr. Nilo, 43, was a parish priest in the northern Philippine Diocese of Cabanatuan, where he was active in an apostolate for the deaf and mute. He also served as the financial administrator for the diocese.

“May his death lead us to love and live the Catholic faith which Fr. Richmond, in his nearly 17 years in the priesthood, undoubtedly loved, courageously preached and staunchly defended,” said Bishop Bancud of Cabanatuan on June 11.

The local bishop also called for prayers for “peace, healing, and security of our communities.”

In the same week, a former police chaplain, Father Rey Urmeneneta, was shot by two gunmen in Calamba City, over 100 miles away from Zaragoza, on June 6, news reports said. He suffered wounds to his left arm and back.

Father Mark Ventura, 37, was shot and killed after celebrating a Sunday Mass in April in Gattaran, Philippines.

Father Marcelito Paez also died after being shot Dec. 2017 in the town of Jaen, less than 10 miles from Sunday’s shooting.

Former Vatican diplomat to face trial for possession of child pornography

Mon, 06/11/2018 - 5:09 PM

Vatican City, Jun 11, 2018 / 03:09 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Former Vatican diplomat Msgr. Carlo Alberto Capella is facing trial this month after having been indicted by the Holy See on charges of alleged possession and distribution of child pornography.

Capella, who was a former Vatican diplomat to Washington, was recalled from the U.S. Nunciature in Washington, D.C. last September, after the U.S. State Department notified the Vatican of a “possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images” by a diplomat.

Canadian police, after having investigated Capella for almost two years, also said he had allegedly been uploading child pornography to various websites in December 2016.

The 50-year-old priest, who was arrested by the Vatican in April, is expected to face trial on June 22 for possessing and sharing “a large quantity” of child pornography, according to Reuters. He could face charges from both the Catholic Church and the Holy See.

Capella was one of four staff members who has immunity from U.S. prosecution, and the Vatican has denied U.S. efforts to prosecute Capella in an American court. However, the U.S. State Department’s information regarding Capella has been passed along to the Vatican’s Promoter of Justice.

If convicted, Capella could face dismissal from the clerical state as a priest and criminal penalties, including time in prison and over $10,000 in fines. Other penalties could also apply.

Capella, who was ordained a priest in Milan in 1993, is from Italy’s northern city of Carpi. In 2004, he was admitted into the Vatican’s corps of diplomats, where he served in India, Hong Kong, and the Vatican. In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI gave him the title of monsignor.

He is currently being held in a cell in the barracks of the Vatican Gendarmerie.

In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI added the possession of child pornography to the list of “most grave delicts,” which are crimes handled by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and can result in dismissal from the clerical state.
 
 

New Baltimore policy permits outdoor Catholic weddings

Mon, 06/11/2018 - 3:07 PM

Baltimore, Md., Jun 11, 2018 / 01:07 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Archdiocese of Baltimore has announced a policy to allow weddings to be held outside of parish churches, including at outdoor venues.

“The archbishop has been emphatic about reaching out to young people,” Diane Barr, chancellor of the Baltimore archdiocese, told the Catholic Review in an article published June 6. “There is more openness to considering other options.”

The revised policy was promulgated Feb. 14, and is the fruit of conversations with people who want to be married in the Church, but also want to have the wedding at a location special to them.

Since the policy was promulgated, more than 20 requests have been made under its provisions; all have been approved.

The policy states that weddings “ordinarily shall take place in a parish church … While always encouraging the faithful to celebrate their wedding in a place of worship, another venue may be deemed a suitable place by the Archbishop or his delegate.”

The preference is that weddings occur in the parish church of the bride or groom, though they may take place in another parish or a school, university, hospital, or other Catholic chapel.

In addition, the new policy allows for wedding to take place at indoor or outdoor wedding venues which are not Catholic chapels.

School chapels are among the most common requests, the Catholic Review reported.

The request for a wedding outside a parish church is to be made by the preparing cleric to the chancellor's office at least six months in advance of the wedding date.

Non-Catholic wedding venues “should be reasonable and in keeping with a religious celebration. The place of the ceremony should establish a prayerful, sacred feeling for the couple and their guests,” the norms state.

A list giving examples of places unsuitable for weddings mentions boats, and places where alcohol is served as a matter of course, including casinos, bars, and nightclubs.

To be permitted, outdoor venues must also have an indoor venue available in case of inclement weather.

The application for a wedding outside the parish church directs that common sense be applied, providing the guidelines that the venue should be in keeping with the sacredness of the character of Catholic marriage; it should be a physically meaningful place for the couple and provide the couple and their guests with the feeling of sacredness for the occasion; and it may not be a bar, restaurant, boat, or on the water. If the location is not a public venue, the application asks that photos be provided which fully describe the venue.

The application requires that canonical reasons be given for requesting the permission, which might include the spiritual good of the couple; the probability of conversion of a non-Catholic; the validation of a previously invalid marriage, among others. It also asks the cleric to describe the reasons the couple is seeking the permission.

The chancellor will review the petition and reply within 30 days. If the request is declined, the reasons for refusal will be included in the letter, and the decision of the archbishop is final.

“People take getting married very seriously,” Barr reflected. She told the Catholic Review that wanting to get married “in their grandmother’s field, behind the family home” is an important reason.

The norms note that “In a ceremony outside the parish or approved Catholic chapel location, a Liturgy of the Word ceremony with Exchange of Consent and blessings is permitted,” and that “all liturgical norms for weddings continue to apply.”

This norm also permits a priest to celebrate a wedding Mass at a location outside a parish or Catholic chapel; but “given the varied venues the policy did not want to oblige that a Mass be celebrated,” Sean Caine, vice-chancellor of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, told CNA.

The Baltimore archdiocese noted that requests for venues outside the archdiocese would require the permission of the local bishop and cannot be guaranteed, though the chancery “will work with other dioceses to try to secure the requisite permissions.”

The Catholic Review suggested that popular venues outside the Archdiocese of Baltimore could include the Eastern Shore or Chesapeake Bay, much of which is in the Diocese of Wilmington.

Caine said that there have been requests for venues outside the Baltimore archdiocese, and that nearby dioceses have indicated a willingness to accommodate these requests, “on a case by case basis as long as it involved a cleric from the Archdiocese of Baltimore.”

The permission to use other locations is a one-year experiment. It will be reviewed after a year, and the archdiocese is “keeping detailed records to be able to determine the efficacy of the process as well as its impact on our community,” Caine indicated.

While their processes are distinct, the Diocese of Helena and the Diocese of Harrisburg both have similar policies for permitting weddings outside of parishes.

 

This man spent a week on the street with his homeless son

Mon, 06/11/2018 - 2:36 PM

Denver, Colo., Jun 11, 2018 / 12:36 pm (CNA).- As the parents of a homeless son struggling with a drug addiction, Frank and his wife Deloris have done everything they could think of to get their grown son into rehab. But it didn’t work.

So Frank took it a step further – he spent a week on the streets with his son, Tommy.  

“You hear for years that with addictions there are three roads: rehab, jail, and death,” said Frank. “The jails won’t keep him. He doesn’t want to help himself. That doesn’t leave many roads…So what do I do?”

“I decided I’m just going to be with him and love him. I’m not going to try and talk him into rehab. I don’t even want to say that word. I’ve decided. I’m going to go be with my son.”

Frank recounted his story in an essay that was read by Jerry Herships, a pastor for the homeless ministry AfterHours, June 5 at Denver’s Civic Center Park. The park is a major setting for the story, and a hub for the city’s homeless population.  

Tommy, 28, struggles with bipolar disorder, is addicted to heroin, and has frequently been in and out of jail. Frank requested their family’s last name not be used, but he wanted to share his encounter with homelessness and human dignity.

The story begins when Frank is tending to his garden in San Diego, California, when he gets the idea to spend time with his son, no matter the circumstances.

“One day, I’m outside doing yard work…I go inside, and I tell Deloris I have an idea. I’m going to Denver… and be homeless. She looks at me like I’m nuts. Maybe I am. But I love my son and to be honest, I think his days are numbered.”

Frank flew to Denver with only a 50-pound backpack, which included a water bottle, small tent, first-aid kit, flashlight, 4X6 sheet of plastic, and some clothes. Arriving to Denver late, he slept in the airport and took a train downtown early the next morning.

When he arrived at Civic Center Park, Frank inquired about Tommy and was directed by the some of his son’s acquaintances toward the needle exchange. Already high, his son was waiting in line to receive clean needles to shoot up drugs, but his father embraced him anyway.

“I can see he can't stand up without the support of the building. He would appear drunk to most people… I know from past experiences, sadly, he is on heroin,” said Frank.

“I get up to him and he starts to turn his back on me. I don't even care, I just grab him and squeeze him as hard as I can. I'm telling him over and over how much I love him. I tell him how much his family loves him.”

In the essay, Frank gives details about the processes of finding campsites and food, interactions with other people who are homeless, and the struggles with Tommy’s drug addiction.

The experience was extremely difficult, Frank said, recalling times when watching his son’s pain and crippling addiction brought him to tears. He could the see dominating force of addiction – the constant use of people and the single-minded focus on the drug.

Because of a previous charge for bike theft, Tommy had to appear in court that week, pass a drug test, and provide evidence of attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings, or he would automatically get 30 days in jail.

But before the court case, he went into a grocery store, where he spent so long that Frank stated: “I'm sure it was to shoot up and fill his rear end with drugs. If they send him to jail he can be high and have a backup supply in jail. That’s what they do. This is all so sick. Most people couldn't even imagine this world. I lived it. It is real.”

In the end, Tommy was able to make a deal with the District Attorney’s office, delaying the court appearance and drug test for an additional week.

Frustrated and exhausted by the end of the trip, Frank complained about his son’s lack of appreciation and rude behavior. However, his wife reminded him that the mental illness and drug addictions were influencing Tommy’s behavior.

Frank’s week-long visit with his son did not solve the problems of Tommy’s addiction or homelessness. But it gave Frank a chance to connect with his son in his suffering and to express his love.

“This experience has changed me for life,” wrote Frank, noting the insight he has gained into the public’s reaction to homelessness and the hold of addictions.

While taking public transportation or waiting in line to make a purchase, he said he was treated like a second-class citizen, both ignored and harassed because he appeared to be homeless.

“What would God say? How many of these folks go to church every week?” he said. “Maybe they too, like myself, should change and respect our fellow man.”

While Frank said that he does not give money to homeless people, he now makes a greater effort to talk to them and show them love and respect.

“I treat them like I would treat somebody else. They deserve that. God made us all equal. We are still humans, show some respect.”
 

 

Pope accepts resignation of Juan Barros, bishop at the center of Chilean abuse scandal

Mon, 06/11/2018 - 6:00 AM

Vatican City, Jun 11, 2018 / 04:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican announced Monday that Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Juan Barros Madrid from his post in the diocese of Osorno, after being accused of covering-up for Chile's most notorious abuser priest, Fernando Karadima.

The announcement came in a June 11 communique from the Vatican, along with the resignation of two other Chilean bishops who had reached the age of retirement.

Barros submitted his resignation to Pope Francis alongside every other active bishop in Chile at the close of a May 15-17 meeting between the pope and Chilean prelates, during which Francis chastised the bishops for systematic cover-up of abuse throughout the country.

Taking over as in Barros' stead is Bishop Jorge Enrique Conchua Cayuqueo, O.F.M., auxiliary bishop of Santiago, who will serve as apostolic administrator for the Diocese of Osorno.

In addition to Barros, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Archbishop Cristián Caro Cordero of Puerto Montt, naming Fr. Ricardo Basilio Morales Galindo, provincial for the Order of Mercy in Chile as apostolic administrator.

He also accepted the resignation of Bishop Gonzalo Duarte García de Cortázar of Valparaíso, naming Bishop Pedro Mario Ossandón Buljevic, auxiliary bishop of Santiago, as apostolic administrator.

Both Caro and Duarte had reached the normal retirement age for bishops, at which it is customary for bishops to submit their resignation.

Francis had summoned the bishops of the country to Rome following an in-depth investigation and report into the Chilean clerical abuse crisis carried out by Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Msgr. Jordi Bertomeu of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in February, resulting in a 2,300 page report on the scandal.

The decision of whether to accept the bishops' resignations is up to Pope Francis. So far Barros, Caro and Duarte are the first bishops whose resignation Pope Francis has formally accepted.

The announcement of Barros' resignation coincides with the announcement that Scicluna and Bertomeu will make another visit to Chile June 12-19, this time traveling to the diocese of Osorno, which Barros has led since 2015. The investigators will spend June 14-17 in Osorno, and the remainder of their time will be spent in Santiago.

Pope Francis' appointment of Barros to Osorno in 2015 was met with a wave of objections and calls for his resignation. Dozens of protesters, including non-Catholics, attempted to disrupt his March 21, 2015 installation Mass at the Osorno cathedral.

Opponents have been vocal about their opposition to Barros ever since, with some of the most outspoken being victims of Karadima, who in 2011 was found guilty by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of sexually abusing several minors during the 1980s and 1990s, and sentenced to a life of prayer and solitude.

Barros maintained his innocence, saying he didn't know the abuse was happening. Pope Francis initially backed him, refusing to allow Barros to step down from his post and calling accusations against him “calumny” during a visit to Chile in January.

However, after Scicluna and Bertomeu's investigation, the pope in April apologized for having made “serious mistakes” in judging the case due to “a lack of truthful and balanced information.”

Since then, he has met with two rounds of abuse survivors in addition to his meeting with Chilean bishops.

Money, power and Humanae Vitae: the forgotten story

Mon, 06/11/2018 - 6:00 AM

Washington D.C., Jun 11, 2018 / 04:00 am (CNA).- The controversy over Humanae Vitae, the papal encyclical that reaffirmed Catholic teaching on contraception 50 years ago, cannot be understood apart from the context of a well-funded advocacy network for population control after the Second World War.
 
The network includes big names in grantmaking like the Ford Foundation and John D. Rockefeller III. One scholar has been writing about this network for decades.
 
“The campaign to persuade Catholics, leaders and the lay public, that traditional views of sexuality, abortion, and marriage were antiquated was extensive and conducted on many fronts,” Arizona State University history professor Donald Critchlow told CNA.

“Groups such as Catholics for Choice were encouraged through philanthropic grants, but the more general campaign was conducted around sexual education.”
 
Critchlow is the author of the 1999 Oxford University Press book “Intended Consequences: Birth Control, Abortion, and the Federal Government in Modern America.”

Together with his talk at the Catholic University of America’s April 2018 conference “The Legacy of Dissent from Humanae Vitae,” his work helps place Humanae Vitae in the political and policy context of its time.
 
“In the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, leaders in philanthropic foundations, politics, and business joined together to undertake a campaign to control the rates of population growth. They concluded that future wars, famine, and other social ills could be prevented through a reduction in the rate of population growth.” Critchlow told CNA. “This neo-Malthusian agenda was joined by activists seeking reproductive rights for women and environmentalists seeking environmental justice.”
 
This took part in an environment of sexual revolution, even before the invention of the birth control pill.
 
“American sexual mores were already changing in the 1960s,” Critchlow continued. “Changes in sexual mores and sexual behavior cannot be attributed to one single cause. There should be little doubt, however, that elite opinion encouraged changes in sexual mores and behavior in the name of ‘progress,’ reproductive justice, and population control.”
 
The history professor classified the postwar era as “one of most massive efforts of social engineering in human history.”
 
“Many actors were found in this neo-Malthusian campaign, but it is important to emphasize that it was not a conspiracy as such,” he said. “Those involved in the population control movement and calls for publicly funded contraception, abortion, sterilization and sex education shared a general perspective on the need to control population growth and to educate the public. They saw themselves as the enlightened bringing progress to the masses, who were backward in their social, political, and religious views. “
 
When Humanae Vitae, issued by Pope Paul VI on July 25, 1968, reaffirmed Catholic teaching that contraception was immoral, these advocates responded strongly.
 
Humanae Vitae was attacked openly and publicly,” Critchlow said.
 
This advocacy network had Catholic allies. The National Catholic Reporter had received a leaked report backed by the majority of Paul VI’s birth control commission, which argued that contraception was compatible with the Catholic faith.
 
Theologian Fr. Charles Curran became the center of controversy, after the Catholic University of American overturned his tenure recommendation because he rejected Catholic teaching on birth control. The decision prompted waves of protest and controversy, and was later reversed.
 
Hugh Moore, a non-Catholic businessman and population control activist who had helped found the Dixie Cup Corporation, took out full page ads in the New York Times and other newspapers, circulating anti-Humanae Vitae material to the bishops and translating it into Spanish and French.
 
“He organized petitions from dissenting priests that were highly publicized. The Vatican, Roman Catholicism, and traditional bishops in the United States were portrayed as reactionary and out of step with modernity,” Critchlow added.
 
Moore had played a key role in establishing the International Planned Parenthood Federation and served as its vice-president in the mid-1960s. He helped co-found the Population Crisis Committee and was a leading advocate of voluntary sterilization.
 
According to Critchlow, the overall campaign against a feared “population explosion” was “conducted on many fronts, often uncoordinated, with sharp differences over strategy and tactics, but based on the assumption that population control was necessary to save humanity.”
 
After the Second World War, philanthropic foundations worked to establish family planning clinics outside the U.S. These foundations’ lobbyists then worked to get a U.S. commitment to domestic family planning. Under President Lyndon Johnson, anti-poverty programs saw family planning as an instrument, especially in inner city neighborhoods, black minorities, and Native American reservations. This was extended under the Nixon Administration.
 
Books like Paul Erhlich’s “The Population Bomb,” popular magazine articles, science fiction novels and movies raised fears of a dystopian future that would be inevitable unless population growth were controlled.
 
Another major name in the movement was John D. Rockefeller III, who funded many population control groups and founded the Population Council in 1952. Its charter’s first draft, which was later modified, spoke of creating conditions in which parents who are “often above average in intelligence, quality of personality” produce “larger than average families.”

Critchlow saw this as “eugenic language.”
 
The Ford Foundation similarly put millions of dollars into population control programs. Some donors, like Cordelia Scaife May, an heiress of the Mellon family fortune, would be drawn to more radical groups like Zero Population Growth.
 
In the 1960s, the Catholic bishops faced paralysis. Efforts to block the federal government’s moves to fund family planning were stalled by disagreement among the bishops and uncertainty about what Pope Paul VI would finally say about the birth control pill, among other problems, such as Catholic agencies’ and hospitals’ dependence upon federal funds.
 
“Catholic religious leaders, including educators, confronted a critical dilemma with deep roots in the Roman Catholic experience in America: How to be accepted in a country with a tradition of anti-Catholicism, while maintaining core Catholic principles,” said Critchlow. “Inevitably compromises were reached to ensure accommodation with a culture that was becoming increasingly secularized”
 
With the involvement of University of Notre Dame president Father Theodore Hesburgh’s personal assistant George Shuster, a series of meetings on human population growth were held at Notre Dame from 1963 to 1967 under the sponsorship of the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation. They brought together selected Catholic leaders to meet with leaders of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Population Council, as well as with leaders of the Ford and Rockefeller foundations.
 
Critchlow, in his book “Intended Consequences” said John D. Rockefeller III and others within the foundation community were “astutely aware of the importance of changing the Catholic Church’s position on birth control” and saw the meetings as an opportunity to ally with Catholic leaders who could “help change opinion within the hierarchy.”
 
According to Critchlow, Fr. Hesburgh arranged for a 1965 meeting between Rockefeller and Pope Paul VI to discuss population control issues. The same year, 37 scholars who attended a conference at Notre Dame signed a confidential statement to the papal commission examining the morality of new forms of artificial birth control. Their statement lobbied for a change in the Catholic Church’s view of contraception.
 
Rockefeller appointed Fr. Hesburgh to the Rockefeller Foundation’s executive committee in 1966, with the understanding that he would abstain from voting on issues involving contraception, sterilization and abortion. Fr. Hesburgh served as the foundation’s chairman from 1977 to 1982.
 
“In the end, the bishops were forced to accommodate to dissent within the church. The Catholic Church was placed on the defensive until the rise of the abortion issue in which public opinion was much more divided on than oral contraception,” said Critchlow.
 
The population control programs led to several scandals involving U.S. and U.N.-sponsored family planning programs. In India, forced sterilization was widespread and drew outrage when reported. In the U.S., there were instances of federally funded forced sterilization in anti-poverty programs.
 
This resulted in strong attacks on population control, especially from feminists, and the movement changed strategies. It promoted delayed marriage through women’s economic and educational development.
 
“These goals of promoting economic independence and higher education for women in developing countries should be applauded, even if such programs are supported by feminist activists and population control advocates,” Critchlow said.
 
While the population control debate has shifted, the controversy over Humanae Vitae continues to this day.

Study finds Catholic school correlates with student's self-control

Sun, 06/10/2018 - 6:01 PM

Washington D.C., Jun 10, 2018 / 04:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholic elementary school students, regardless of race, sex, or socioeconomic status, have more self-control and self-discipline than their peers enrolled in either public schools or non-Catholic private schools, a recent study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute found.

The study examined two surveys of the behavior of thousands of elementary school students enrolled in public, Catholic, and non-Catholic private schools.

According to the teachers in the surveys, students at Catholic schools engaged in fewer “externalizing behaviors,” meaning they did not fight, get angry, act impulsively, or disturb ongoing activities as frequently as students at other schools.

What’s more, Catholic school students are “more likely to control their temper, respect others’ property, accept their fellow students ideas, and to handle peer pressure.” This is true across demographic lines.

Acording to its website, the Fordham Institute promotes educational excellence for every child in America via quality research, analysis, and commentary. It is often described as a conservative think-tank.

While the study is encouraging, CATO Institute expert Corey A. DeAngelis warns that it is not causal, (as there was no real way to create a control group), and there could be other factors for a child’s good behavior than the type of school he or she attends.

Still, DeAngelis says there are reasons to believe that Catholic schools in particular could provide an environment to develop a sense of self-discipline.

“Religious schools may have a competitive advantage at shaping character skills because students are not just held accountable to teachers – they are also held accountable to God,” DeAnglis told CNA.

DeAngelis also speculates that the close-knit nature of many Catholic schools could foster an environment which would further benefit its students.

“Children are more likely to feel engaged and interested in a school with a strong school culture,” he explained.

One Catholic school system with a strong culture is the Cristo Rey Network. Cristo Rey schools exclusively serve underprivileged students, and the majority of its students are students of color. Its unique Corporate Work Study Program puts Cristo Rey students to work in an office environment to pay their tuition. The average Cristo Rey student is about two grade levels behind their peers, but despite this, about 90 percent of graduates will enroll in college.

Cristo Rey Network CEO Elizabeth Goettl credits the high standards set by Catholic educators for this result.

“Catholic school students may exhibit more self-discipline and self-control than their peers in other schools because of the consistent and high expectations set for such behaviors by all of the adults in the school,” Goettl. These behaviors are then modeled by older students as well as teachers, which Goettl believes has a trickle-down effect on other students.

The Fordham Institute’s study is positive news for those in favor of school choice programs.

Sr. Dale McDonald, PBVM, Ph.D., the director of public policy and educational research at the National Catholic Educational Association, told CNA that she supports these programs, as “the child should not be punished for the parents’ inability to pay.”

DeAngelis, the CATO expert, had similar thoughts.

“We already allow well-to-do families to send their children to religious schools. We shouldn’t prevent disadvantaged groups from sending their kids to religious schools just because they do not have the financial means,” he told CNA.

“Poor families should be able to freely exercise their religions even if they need a voucher to do so.”

Blasphemy is the gravest sin, Pope Francis says

Sun, 06/10/2018 - 11:23 AM

Vatican City, Jun 10, 2018 / 09:23 am (CNA/EWTN News).- During his Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis discussed the incomprehension Christ faced during his earthly ministry, from both the scribes and his own family.

The scribes’ assertion that Christ drove out demons by the power of demons led him to “react with strong and clear words, he does not tolerate this, because those scribes, perhaps without realizing it, are falling into the gravest sin: negating and blaspheming the Love of God which is present and working in Jesus.”

“And blasphemy, the sin against the Holy Spirit, is the only unpardonable sin - so Jesus says - because it starts from a closure of the heart to the mercy of God acting in Jesus,” the pope said June 10 in St. Peter’s Square.

The scribes who blasphemed were sent from Jerusalem to discredit Christ, Francis said, “to make the office of talkers, discredit the other, remove authority, this ugly thing.”

“This episode contains a warning that serves all of us,” he reflected. “It may happen that a strong envy for the goodness and for the good works of a person can lead one to accuse it falsely. Here there is truly a deadly poison: the malice with which, in a premeditated way, one wants to destroy the good reputation of the other.”

If we find this envy in us during our examination of conscience, “let us immediately go to confession,” he advised, “before it develops and produces its evil effects, which are incurable. Be careful, because this attitude destroys families, friendships, communities, and even society.”

Francis then turned to the incomprehension of Christ’s extended family, who “were worried because his new itinerant life seemed crazy to them. In fact, he showed himself so available to people, especially to the sick and sinners, to the point that he no longer even had time to eat. Jesus was like this: people first, serving people, helping people, teaching people, healing people … His family, therefore, decide to bring him back to Nazareth, to his home.”

When told his family was outside looking for him, Christ replied that “who does the will of God, he is a brother, sister and mother for me.”

Christ “formed a new family, no longer based on natural bonds, but on faith in him, on his love that welcomes us and unites us among us, in the Holy Spirit,” Pope Francis said. “All those who accept the word of Jesus are sons of God and brothers among themselves. Welcoming the word of Jesus makes us brothers among us, makes us the family of Jesus.”

But “gossiping about others … makes us the family of the devil.”

The pope noted that Christ’s response to his family looking for him “is not a lack of respect for his mother and his family.”

“Indeed, for Mary it is the greatest recognition, because she is the perfect disciple who has obeyed the will of God in everything. May the Virgin Mother help us to live in communion with Jesus, recognizing the work of the Holy Spirit acting in him and in the Church, regenerating the world to new life.”

Priests and scientists talk neuroscience, cosmology, and philosophy - with pie

Sun, 06/10/2018 - 7:00 AM

Washington D.C., Jun 10, 2018 / 05:00 am (CNA).- A Thomistic philosopher, an evolutionary biologist, and a Harvard astronomy professor walk into a bar. Well, not a bar.

But they did walk into a Washington, D.C. symposium this week, at which graduate students, professors, religious sisters, and other curious Catholics discussed highly technical scientific questions over bourbon and pecan pie, late into the night.

The three-day conference, co-sponsored by the Thomistic Institute and the Society of Catholic Scientists, brought together nearly 70 professors and graduate students from Princeton, Harvard, Yale, MIT, the University of Chicago, and other universities across the country to examine the intersection of faith and science.

“The typical contemporary view assumes that there is going to be some deep tension between faith and science. From our perspective that's an illusion. There is not really a conflict there, but it does require you to work carefully through some of these issues,” said Fr. Dominic Legge, OP, the Thomistic Institute’s director.

The idea behind the conference was to bring high-level scientists together with some very good philosophers and theologians to talk through questions about integrating specialized scientific research with a broadly grounded philosophical perspective, Legge told CNA.

Scholars presented lectures on neuroscience, physics, cosmology, biology, and philosophy. The Thomistic Institute plans to post lectures from the symposium on iTunes.

Dr. Karin Öberg teaches astrophysics at Harvard University, where she researches the interstellar medium and star formation. Öberg seeks to discover “how chemistry and physics interact during star and planet formation to shape the bulk and organic compositions of nascent planets.” She is also one of the founders of the Society of Catholic Scientists.

At the Thomistic symposium, Öberg lectured about exoplanets and the possibility of extraterrestrials.

“The big scientific development that has happened in the past 10-20 years is that we have found out that planets are very common around other stars. Basically, every star that you see in the sky is its own solar system, so that's a change in the cosmology that we live in. This obviously for most people begs the question, 'Are they also living systems like our earth?'”

Öberg told CNA that it would be “super cool” to discover even non-rational life because “it would teach us something about how you go from inanimate to animate matter, which is currently very poorly understood.”

“But I think from a spiritual point of view what people are excited about is the possibility of other intelligent beings that could potentially inhabit some of these worlds,” Öberg continued.

“That's where you get into some of the most controversial and exciting meeting points of the scientific pursuit of what may or may not exist, intelligent extraterrestrial life, and what we can deduce from Scripture or Church teachings on the likelihood of their existence. What kind of aliens would be compatible with the interpretation of Scripture?”

Neurology professor Dr. Stephen Meredith from the University of Chicago; Dr. William Carroll, a research fellow at Oxford; and Dr. Daniel de Haan, a divinity professor at Cambridge, also presented lectures.

Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, OP, presented on evolutionary theory.

“My question is how do you explain the appearance of novel traits in the biological realm from a biological perspective that appeals to four causes, one of which is efficient?” said Austriaco, who received his Ph.D., in biology from MIT.

“To invoke a first cause would make no sense to many of my colleagues at MIT who are doing science, but the attempt there is to try within a particular conceptual framework to make intelligible sense of what is actually happening,” he continued in a discussion among all of the lecturers.

On the theory of evolution, Legge explained that God's creative activity is not in competition with explanations for the origins of being that are framed with the created universe.

“Creation means not just a first moment in time, but a relation of radical ontological dependence on God as creator. And, at the same time he endows creatures with the power to cause, and that means that creatures really can cause things to change in the world,” said Legge.

“We can investigate what's happening with creaturely causes, including a theory of evolution about how you have the diversification of species over time and the emergence of more complex forms of life. That doesn't threaten in any way the fact that God creates the world or that God has a providential plan,” he continued.

Dr. Jonathan Lunine, vice-president of the Society of Catholic Scientists and a professor of astronomy at Cornell University, elaborated on that point.

"Science provides us with a way of understanding the natural universe, the processes that occur, how that universe has evolved through time, but it doesn't give us the metaphysical question of why are we here and what is behind it all," he told CNA.
 
Unlike most scientific conferences, this symposium included an option for daily Mass and a holy hour, giving it a distinctly Dominican flavor.

Catholic speaker Matt Fradd, who has a graduate degree in philosophy, told CNA that the meeting “has been like drinking water from a fire hydrant with people who are about 17,000 times smarter than me giving talks on neuroscience and evolutionary theory, so it has been great."

Legge told CNA that the symposium aimed to help participants grow in love for God through scientific understanding.

“To learn to love the Lord with your mind means to devote everything, all of the resources of your mind, to understanding what God has created and, ultimately, trying to understand as much as it is possible for us -- God himself,” Legge told CNA.

“I think that is an important thing for every Catholic who is engaged in the life of the mind,” he said.

Satanist loses legal challenge to strip 'In God We Trust' from currency

Sat, 06/09/2018 - 6:28 PM

Chicago, Ill., Jun 9, 2018 / 04:28 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A U.S. appellate court has ruled against a self-described Satanist from Chicago who had filed a lawsuit seeking to remove the motto “In God We Trust” from U.S. currency.

The ruling, released May 31, found that “a reasonable observer would not perceive the motto on currency as a religious endorsement.”

Kenneth Mayle, who describes himself as a non-theistic Satanist, filed the original lawsuit in May 2017. A lower court had dismissed the suit, and Mayle appealed.

The 36-year-old told the Chicago Tribune that carrying and using money with the motto “In God We Trust” makes him feel compelled to take part in a “submissive ritual” by spreading a religious message with which he disagrees.

He does not like to use credit or debit cards due to late and overdraft fees, as well as the potential for security breaches, and says that he would ideally prefer to use cryptocurrency for all transactions.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the currency motto “is similar to other ways in which secular symbols give a nod to the nation’s religious heritage,” such as the line “one nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.  

A similar suit received a ruling on May 29 from the 6th Circuit Court of U.S. Appeals.

In that suit, a group of atheists and humanists argued that the motto on the currency required them to “bear, affirm, and proselytize an objectionable message in a way that…violates their core religious beliefs.”

One Jewish plaintiff also argued that “participation in any activity that ultimately leads to the superfluous printing of G-d’s name on secular documents or to the destruction of G-d’s printed name is sinful.”

A lower court had dismissed the case, saying that cash-only transactions did not compel proselytization.

The court of appeals agreed with the lower court’s ruling. It said that plaintiffs had failed to “show a specific governmental intent to infringe upon, restrict, or suppress other religious beliefs” through the motto on U.S. currency.

Although the plaintiffs said they preferred to use cash over credit or debit cards, the court said that the existence of these alternatives meant that the plaintiffs were not forced “to choose between violating their religious beliefs or suffering a serious consequence” and therefore could not demonstrate a substantial burden on their free exercise of religion.

The phrase “In God We Trust” is the official motto of the United States. It first appeared on certain U.S. coins as early as 1864. A 1956 law required all U.S. currency to bear the printed phrase.

The motto has faced several lawsuits since 1970, which have been repeatedly rejected by courts.

Civil court rules Fulton Sheen’s remains can go to Peoria

Sat, 06/09/2018 - 2:33 PM

New York City, N.Y., Jun 9, 2018 / 12:33 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Superior Court of New York ruled Friday in favor of Joan Sheen Cunningham, who had petitioned to move the body of her uncle, Venerable Fulton Sheen, to the Cathedral of St. Mary in Peoria. The body of the late archbishop is currently in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

The Diocese of Peoria welcomed the decision.

“This is the second time that the Superior Court of New York has ruled in favor of Joan Sheen Cunningham’s petition,” read a June 8 statement from the Peoria diocese.

The judge, Arlene Bluth, ruled that “the location of Archbishop Sheen's final resting place would not have been his primary concern” and that “it makes no sense, given his lifelong devotion to the Catholic Church, that he would choose a location over the chance to become a saint.”

The Peoria diocese opened the cause for Sheen’s canonization in 2002 after Archdiocese of New York said it would not explore the case. In 2012, Benedict XVI recognized the heroic virtues of the archbishop.
 
However, Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria suspended the beatification cause in September 2014 on the grounds that the Holy See expected Sheen’s remains to be in the Peoria diocese.
 
The Archdiocese of New York, however, has said that Vatican officials have said the Peoria diocese can pursue Sheen’s canonization regardless of whether his body is at rest there.

Sheen was born in Illinois in 1895, and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Peoria at the age of 24. He was appointed auxiliary bishop of New York in 1951, and he remained there until his appointment as Bishop of Rochester in 1966. He retired in 1969 and moved back to New York City until his death in 1979.

Sheen’s will had declared his wish to be buried in the Archdiocese of New York Calvary Cemetery. Soon after Sheen died, Cardinal Terence Cooke of New York asked Cunningham, Sheen’s closest living relative, if his remains could be placed in the New York cathedral’s crypt, and she consented.

Cunningham has said that Sheen would have wanted to have been interred in Peoria if he knew that he would be considered for sainthood. In 2016, she filed a legal complaint seeking to have her uncle’s remains moved to Peoria.

An initial court ruling had sided with Cunningham, but a state appeals court overturned that ruling, saying it had failed to give sufficient attention to a sworn statement from a colleague of Archbishop Sheen, Monsignor Hilary C. Franco, a witness for the New York archdiocese.
 
Msgr. Franco had said that Sheen told him he wanted to be buried in New York and that Cardinal Cooke had offered him a space in the crypt of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

The appeals court ordered “a full exploration” of the archbishop’s desires.

The Diocese of Peoria said that the New York superior court ruled this week that Msgr. Franco “testified completely in line with the testimony of Joan Sheen Cunningham. Therefore, both supported their understanding that above all else Archbishop Sheen would not have objected to his remains being transferred to Peoria.”

“Furthermore, the Archdiocese of New York could not supply any further testimony against Joan Sheen Cunningham’s petition. The court ruled that their testimony was fundamentally the same,” the Peoria diocese said.

Bluth ruled that “Mrs. Cunningham has offered a sound reason and a laudable purpose for her petition” and that Sheen “would care much less about the location of his earthly remains than his ability … to continue to serve man and God on a grand scale after his earthly demise.”

The Peoria diocese expressed their hope that the Archdiocese of New York “will cease their legal resistance and respect the ruling of the Superior Court. Bishop Jenky hopes that the New York Archdiocese will cooperate with … the practical matters as to moving the remains of Venerable Archbishop Sheen to Peoria, Illinois. It is the hope that this process will begin immediately.”

The Diocese of Peoria said that moving Sheen’s body to Peoria will be the next step towards bringing his beatification to completion.

“Bishop Jenky encourages everyone to pray for a renewed spirit of cooperation in the effort to beatify Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen.”

Sheen served as host of the “Catholic Hour” radio show and the television show “Life is Worth Living”.
 
In addition to his pioneering radio and television shows, Archbishop Sheen authored many books, with proceeds supporting foreign missions. He headed the Society for the Propagation of the Faith at one point in his life, and continued to be a leading figure in U.S. Catholicism until his death.
 
Archbishop Sheen’s intercession is credited with the miraculous recovery of a pronounced stillborn American baby from the Peoria area.
 
In June 2014, a panel of theologians that advises the Congregation for the Causes of Saints ruled that the baby’s recovery was miraculous.
 
The baby, later named James Fulton Engstrom, was born in September 2010 showing no signs of life. As medical professionals tried to revive him, his parents prayed for his recovery through the intercession of Fulton Sheen.
 
Although the baby showed no pulse for an hour after his birth, his heart started beating again and he escaped serious medical problems.

Australian bishop protests law requiring priests to break seal of confession

Sat, 06/09/2018 - 5:57 AM

Canberra, Australia, Jun 9, 2018 / 03:57 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A new law in Australia will require Catholic priests in Canberra to break the seal of confession to report child abusers, drawing adamant opposition from Church officials.

“Priests are bound by a sacred vow to maintain the seal of confession,” said Archbishop Christopher Prowse of Canberra and Goulburn, adding “without that vow, who would be willing to unburden themselves of their sins?”

In a June 6 article for the Canberra Times, Prowse cautioned that “the government threatens religious freedom by appointing itself an expert on religious practices and by attempting to change the sacrament of confession while delivering no improvement in the safety of children.”

“Sadly, breaking the seal of confession won’t prevent abuse and it won’t help our ongoing efforts to improve the safety of children in Catholic institutions,” the archbishop continued.

On Thursday, the ACT Legislative Assembly in Canberra passed a law requiring religious organizations to fall under the legal requirements of the mandatory Reporting Conduct Scheme. Religious groups and their “activities, facilities, programs or services” will be required to report any allegations, offences or convictions of child abuse within 30 days.

This legislation extends to the seal of confession, making it illegal for priests to fail to report the confession of a child sexual abuse crime. The confession provision will take effect March 31, 2019.

ACT Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay said the situation is “complex” and must be discussed “with community and religious leaders” over the course of the coming months. Ramsay also noted he would be meeting with Archbishop Prowse to discuss the new law.

However, politicians in the area have already raised concerns over the new measure. Andrew Wall, a member of the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly, said many of the clauses in the new law were “overdue,” but disagreed with its extension to the confessional.

Wall said forcing priests to break the seal of confession “significantly impinges on an individual’s freedom of association, freedom of expression and freedom of religious rights,” according to the Canberra Times.

Vicki Dunne, a Catholic and member of the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly, also noted that a priest who directly violates the “Seal of Confession” incurs a “latae senentiae” excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See, which can only be lifted by the Pope himself.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “every priest who hears confessions is bound under very severe penalties to keep absolute secrecy regarding the sins that his penitents have confessed to him,” due to the “delicacy and greatness of this ministry and the respect due to persons.”

Trying to force priests to break this seal would undermine the “sacred, sacramental and sacrosanct” rite of confession, Dunne said.

“We need to stop and think twice before we pass legislation that requires Catholic priests to break the seal of confession,” she said.

Archbishop Prowse, who was apologetic for the Church’s role in the failure to protect children in the past, asked for forgiveness and highlighted the measures the Church is taking to ensure safety and protection of children.

However, Prowse said the new law asking priests to break the seal of confession will not contribute to a safer environment for children.

“What sexual abuser would confess to a priest if they thought they would be reported?” said Prowse, adding, “if the seal is removed, the remote possibility that they would confess and so could be counselled to report is gone.”

The archbishop also remarked there would be no guarantee that a priest would be able to identify the penitent after a confession, especially if there is a screen in the confessional. He also underscored the sacredness of the confessional vow, which safeguards the vulnerability of penitents.

Prowse, who said he supports the reportable conduct scheme in general, voiced his anticipation of discussing the legislation with government officials, saying, “it is vital we get this right.”

“We urge the chief minister to allow the Catholic community into this conversation to ensure we are part of the solution,” Prowse said.

“Together we can ensure the protection of children’s rights and uphold the integrity of our sacraments.”
 
 
 
 

 

German bishops react to Vatican decision on Communion for Protestants

Fri, 06/08/2018 - 6:32 PM

Munich, Germany, Jun 8, 2018 / 04:32 pm (CNA).- Several German bishops have reacted with surprise, consternation and criticism to the Vatican’s rejection of a proposal to allow Protestants married to Catholics to receive the Eucharist in certain circumstances. One prominent cardinal has said he is "furious" with how the Communion debate is playing out.

In a May 25 letter, Cardinal-elect Luis Ladaria SJ, the Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith, raised "a series of problems of considerable importance” with the German proposal and declares it not mature enough for publication.

The letter was published on June 4 by the Vatican journalist Sandro Magister.

On the same day, the head of the German bishops' conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx released a statement saying he was "surprised" at the letter.

In his June 4 statement, Cardinal Marx noted that at a gathering in Rome on May 3, 2018, "the bishops participating in the meeting were told that they 'should find a solution that is as unanimous as possible in the spirit of ecclesial communion,'" and he was therefore surprised to receive the letter "before such a unanimous settlement had been reached."

Cardinal Marx said that he sees a "further need for discussion within the German bishops' conference...but also with the corresponding Roman dicasteries and the Holy Father himself."

On June 6, the Chairman of the Ecumenical Commission of the German Bishops' Conference (DBK), Bishop Gerhard Feige of Magdeburg, published an editorial on "katholisch.de," a DBK website, in which he expressed disappointment at the response from Rome, and sharply criticized the "moral double standards" of bishops raising concerns over the proposal to the Vatican while allowing Protestants to receive Communion in their own diocese for pastoral reasons.

The Bishop of Magdeburg drew a connection between allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion in some circumstances, which the German Bishops Conference, amongst others, introduced in guidelines issued in the wake of Amoris laetitia.

"A similar conflict, on the grounds that this was a topic that 'pertains to the faith of the Church and is of relevance to the universal Church', could have been triggered by the wording of the German Bishops' [Conference guidelines] on marriage and family ministry, given the statements about the possibility for individuals who remarried after a divorce to receive the sacraments. Why, then, has there been an escalation when it comes to interdenominational differences?"

One day after Bishop Feige, Cardinal Walter Kasper also went public with an editorial published by the German bishops' conference website.

After writing that he is "furious" that the letter to Cardinal Marx apparently was leaked to the press before even reaching its destination, Kasper expressed "puzzlement" at "the impression that even those who should know better should claim that non-Catholic Christians are fundamentally excluded from communion, or that this should at least first be clarified by the Universal Church."

Kasper, the president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity who was Bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart from 1989-1999, also flatly rejected concerns that the German proposal constitutes a Sonderweg, i.e. a form of German exceptionalism.

Furthermore, Cardinal Kasper wrote that he is "all the more surprised" since in German dioceses "there already is a widespread practice of non-catholic spouses, who consider themselves serious Christians, stepping up to [receive] Communion, without any bishops, who after all know of this practice, thus far voicing concerns."

In his comments, Kasper also rejected concerns - raised by several other cardinals and bishops - that the German "pastoral handout" would constitute a normalization of Protestants receiving Holy Communion in general, explaining that proposal's approach pertained to an "individual decision of conscience and pastoral counseling." 

Denver celebrates Mass on 100th anniversary of Julia Greeley's death

Fri, 06/08/2018 - 6:27 PM

Denver, Colo., Jun 8, 2018 / 04:27 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Archdiocese of Denver hosted a special Mass on Thursday in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the death of Julia Greeley, who is the first person from Colorado to be proposed for sainthood.

Archbishop Samuel Aquila said Greeley was a holy woman who suffered as a former slave and was riddled with arthritis, but still embraced the love of Christ and lived it out.

“How difficult her early life must have been in terms of experiencing slavery, watching her own mother being beaten, losing her own eye,” Archbishop Aquila told CNA.

“And then, her encounter with Jesus Christ...She knew the love of Christ for her, she knew that she was truly a daughter of the Father, and she lived that out.”

The Mass in Greeley’s honor took place at Denver’s Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on the evening of June 7. Archbishop Aquila celebrated the Mass and, among others, was joined by Capuchin Friar Father Blaine Burkey, who wrote a biography of Greeley.

Numerous organizations were represented at the Mass, including the Julia Greeley Guild, a group raising awareness of her canonization cause; the Secular Franciscans, a lay Catholic community with whom she had been involved; and Denver’s fire department, which provided special honor guards to recognize her service to the community’s firefighters.

A letter from Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado was also read declaring this week, June 3-9, 2018, to be “Julia Greeley Week.”

Born a slave in Hannibal, Missouri sometime between 1833 and 1848, Greeley endured horrific treatment – once, a whip caught her right eye and destroyed it as a slave master beat her mother.

One of many slaves freed by Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, Greeley’s work with the family of William Gilpin, Colorado’s first territorial governor, brought her to Denver in 1878. Influenced by Gilpin’s wife, who was a devout Catholic, Greeley converted to Catholicism in 1880.

She was an enthusiastic parishioner, a daily communicant, and became an active member of the Secular Franciscan Order starting in 1901. The Jesuit priests at her parish recognized her as the most fervent promoter of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

During her four decades in Colorado, Greely became known as the “Angel of Charity.” After leaving the Gilpins' service, Greeley found odd jobs around the city. She would beg for goods and then offer them to the poor.

Pulling a red wagon behind her, she would hand out clothes, foods, and medicine to the impoverished, acting at night so as not to embarrass those she helped.

Mary Leisring, president of the Julia Greeley Guild, told CNA that “at one point, someone said they saw her walking down the street with a mattress on her back because she knew that someone needed a mattress.”

Having a strong devotion to the Sacred Heart, Greeley would also deliver Sacred Heart pamphlets to the local firefighters to provide spiritual nourishment. She would travel on foot every month to the fire departments around Denver.

Archbishop Aquila said Greeley was an inspiration because, despite her pains and difficulties, she embraced the love of Christ.

“[She] became extremely generous in the outpouring of her own life, even in the midst of her physical condition, was not shy at all about proclaiming Christ and the good news of the Gospel, and especially with her generosity with the poor,” he said.

Her cause for canonization was officially opened in December 2016, and, on the 99th anniversary of her death, her remains were interred in the cathedral. The local investigation into Greeley’s canonization will likely be closed by this August. A few alleged miracles, credited to her intercession, have been reported and are being reviewed.

 

Government officials destroy Way of the Cross in China's Henan province

Fri, 06/08/2018 - 5:39 PM

Weihui, China, Jun 8, 2018 / 03:39 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The sanctuary of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in China's Henan province is a popular pilgrimage site for many Catholics, where thousands have journeyed since its founding in 1903 to pray and walk the shrine’s Way of the Cross.

However, on the evening of June 5, local government authorities tore down the sanctuary’s images of Christ along the Way of the Cross, only weeks after Chinese officials told Bishop Joseph Zhang Yinlin of Weihui (Anyang) to dismantle the Way of the Cross without any given reason.

The Way of the Cross was demolished during the night on Tuesday, said Bishop Zhang, when “excavators and pickup trucks were driven to the site at night because authorities feared there would be too many church members in the daytime,” according to UCA News.

Local nuns took videos and pictures of the damages and sent them to chat groups to record the vandalism. One religious source said the Communist Party was making an example out of the sanctuary, saying the government would “allow Catholicism to exist but not develop.”

The sanctuary of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the only pilgrimage site in Henan province and is located in Tianjiajing village. It was a product of the vision of Bishop Stefano Scarella, P.I.M.E., who was vicar apostolic of Northern Honan from 1884 until his death in 1902. He dedicated the shrine to Mary, in gratitude for protecting missionaries during the Boxer Rebellion.

Every year, the sanctuary hosted an annual celebration July 16, where thousands of pilgrims visited from nearby provinces, such as Hebei and Shanxi. However, in 1987, the government banned large pilgrimage gatherings and limited the number of pilgrims to 300.

Despite the shrine’s rooted history in the province, the future of the sanctuary after the recent vandalism is unknown.

The damages sustained at Our Lady of Mount Carmel is indicative of mounting strikes against religious freedom in China. Last fall, one Protestant church was dismantled in the same province, and in February, towns throughout Henan were notified of a ban against publicly posting religious pamphlets.

Crosses at Catholic churches have also been removed and demolished by government officials in Henan, which is believed to have the second largest Christian population in the country, with roughly 2.4 million Christians as of 2009. Church-run kindergarten schools were additionally taken over by officials and closed without further notice, and one bishop’s tomb was desecrated.

Eight of Henan's ten dioceses have been ordered to be suppressed since Wang Guosheng became the Communist Party Secretary of the province in March.

Zhejiang province has also been a focus for local government persecution of Christians. There have also been reports of church demolition or removal of crosses in Shaanxi province and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

The U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom recently published its 2018 report in April, in which it identifies China as a Country of Particular Concern. This label is given to foreign governments that engages in or tolerates “systemic, ongoing, and egregious” religious freedom violations.

In April, a Chinese government official who oversees religious affairs said that government restrictions on bishop appointments are not a violation of religious freedom, as he emphasized that religions in China must “adapt to socialist society.”

President Xi Jinping, who was granted lifelong rule in March has urged greater government control and less foreign influence over religions in China. New restrictions were put in place by the Chinese government Feb. 1 making it illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to enter a church building.

There were widespread reports earlier this year that the Holy See was close to coming to an agreement with the Chinese government over bishop appointments.

The Church in China is split between an underground Catholic Church and the officially recognized Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. Every bishop recognized by Beijing must be a member of the association, which is now under day-to-day direct supervision of the Chinese Communist Party.

Chilean diocese opens investigation of priest accused of sexual abuse

Fri, 06/08/2018 - 4:22 PM

Linares, Chile, Jun 8, 2018 / 02:22 pm (ACI Prensa).- The Diocese of Linares confirmed Wednesday the receipt of a complaint of alleged sexual abuse by Fr.  Germán Cáceres Fuentes.

The diocese explained in a June 6 statement that a preliminary investigation has begun and Fr. Cáceres has been removed from ministry until the decision of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is obtained.

It was also determined that the priest has the obligation to remain in the diocese and be available when required “within the next 48 hours for any proceedings” of the investigation.

They also requested the “cooperation of everyone who could contribute pertinent or relevant information in this investigation.”

“Bishop Tomislav Koljatic and the diocesan Church of Linares reiterate their total commitment to determining the truth and total rejection of any kind of abuse against minors and/or vulnerable persons. It also thus reaffirms its commitment to the support and accompaniment of the victims. And it asks the Lord that this pain and suffering be the source of the transformation and healing that our Church and communities need,” the statement concluded.

Fr. Cáceres has been serving as pastor of Santa Rosa parish in Melozal, fewer than 20 miles northwest of Linares.

On June 5, the Linares diocese issued a statement on the canonical situation of Fr. Ramón Iturra Muñoz, accused of sexually abusing minors and whose case file was sent to the Holy See in July 2017.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith established “the plausibility of said accusation” and requested that the investigation be widened to other parishes where the priest had previously been assigned.

“Given this determination, another precautionary measure is added which is the prohibition of publicly exercising the priestly ministry until the final verdict,” the diocese stated.

Clerical sex abuse in Chile has been in the spotlight since Pope Francis' visit to the country in January.

The pope was asked about  Bishop Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid, whom he appointed Bishop of Osorno in 2015. Bishop Barros has been accused of covering up abuse committed by  Fr. Fernando Karadima, who was convicted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2011 of abusing minors, and sentenced to a life of prayer and penance.

Pope Francis initially defended Bishop Barros, saying he had received no evidence of the bishop's guilt, and called accusations against him “calumny” during his January trip to Chile. He later relented, and sent Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta to investigate the situation in the country.

After receiving Archbishop Scicluna's report, Francis apologized, said he had been seriously mistaken, and asked to meet the country's bishops and more outspoken survivors in person.

He met with Chile's bishops May 15-17. As a result, each of them tendered letters of resignation, which Pope Francis has yet to accept or reject. The pope also gave the bishops a lettter chastising them for systemic cover-up of clerical abuse and calling them to institute deep changes.

The pope has twice met at the Vatican with groups of Fr. Karadima's victims, in April and in June.

 

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Pan-Amazonian synod doc leaves door open to married priests proposal

Fri, 06/08/2018 - 12:40 PM

Vatican City, Jun 8, 2018 / 10:40 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A preparatory document for next year's Pan-Amazonian synod was released Friday, indicating that key themes for the meeting will be the role of women in the Church, the rights and traditions of indigenous people, and efforts to find “new ways” to provide greater access to the Eucharist.

“Amazonia: New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology,” was published June 8 as the official preparatory document for the October 2019 synod on the Pan-Amazonian region of South America, which includes parts of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guyana, Guyana, Peru, Venezuela and Suriname.

The document highlighted several priorities for the upcoming synod discussion, one of which was the need for greater pastoral presence in the Amazonia region.

One of the main areas of discussion, it said, will be “the cry of thousands of communities deprived of the Sunday Eucharist for long periods of time.”

The text stressed the importance of creating the possibility “for all the baptized to participate in the Sunday Mass.”

The document noted “an urgent need to evaluate and rethink the ministries that today are required to respond to the objectives of a Church with an Amazonian face and a Church with a native face.”

It further stressed that “new ways should be considered for the People of God to have better and more frequent access to the Eucharist, the center of Christian life.”

In March 2017, Pope Francis suggested openness to the possibility that married men might be ordained priests in some Roman Catholic dioceses where there are few priests. His comments sparked speculation that the Pan-Amazonian synod could open the door to the ordination of viri probati- a term referring to mature, married men.

The ordination to the priesthood of viri probati is thought by some to be a possible solution to a shortage of priestly vocations in Brazil.

During a June 8 press conference presenting the preparatory document, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, declined to answer questions about the ordination of viri probati directly, but said there is a need for “new paths” responding to the needs delineated in the text.

“New paths above all will impact the ministries of the liturgy and theology,” he said, quoting the text, adding that “we did a big investigation...and we have seen these needs.”

In terms of what these “new paths” might entail, he said the synod of bishops has simply outlined the needs, and that answers to this question will depend on the proposals from local bishops in the Amazonia region.

He noted that the term viri probati was not used in the text- that “ministries” were discussed instead, because “we want to decant this expression [viri probati], which continually comes back.”

“We let people say [viri probati], but not demanding that we have to say it,” he said, noting that there is currently no formal declaration from the Holy See on the possibility of ordaining of viri probati.

“We let the people take their course with this topic, and we'll see what could happen,” he said, referring to the synod discussion.

Canon law for the Latin Catholic Church prohibits the ordination of married men to the priesthood, though there are already some limited exceptions to this, especially regarding the ordination of formerly Anglican and Protestant ecclesial leaders who have converted to Catholicism.

Another priority highlighted in the text was the need to specify “the contents, methods, and attitudes necessary for an inculturated pastoral ministry capable of responding to the territory’s vast challenges,” and to propose “new ministries and services for the different pastoral agents, ones which correspond to activities and responsibilities within the community.”

To this end, the text called for a deeper reflection reflection on “indigenous theology” based on local practices and traditions, as well reflections on what official ministries can be carried out by women given the “central role” they play in the Amazonian Church. The text also urged the encouragement of more local, indigenous vocations to the priesthood.

On the role of women, Baldisseri underlined the need to “create space for women in the Church at all levels,” but stressed that these spaces “are the ones that the doctrine of the Church teaches and the current discipline.”

The Church, he said, is “very prudent” and will leave it up to the discussion to decide what new ministries and spaces can be created for women in the region, but always in line with “her classic position, her teaching and discipline on priesthood from the Latin Church.”

The document also stressed the importance of having greater respect for the dignity and rights of indigenous populations in the area, and of caring for the diverse terrain characteristic of the Amazon region.

The preamble of the text, which is divided into three parts dedicated to the “see, judge (discern), and act” model, says the main goal of the gathering is to listen to indigenous people in the area and make them the the “first interlocutors” of the discussion.

To do this, “we want to know the following: How do you imagine your serene future and the good life of future generations? How can we work together toward the construction of a world which breaks with structures that take life and with colonizing mentalities, in order to build networks of solidarity and inter-culturality? And, above all, what is the Church’s particular mission today in the face of this reality?”

The first part of the document outlined the historical, social and ecological context of the Pan-Amazonian region, praising the rich cultural and bio-diversity of the area, and condemning the “culture of consumerism and waste turns the planet into one giant landfill.”

“New ideological colonialisms hidden under the myth of progress are being imposed, thereby destroying specific cultural identities,” it said, and cautioned against “distorted” policies which seek to conserve nature without taking into consideration the needs and rights of the people who live there.

Specific concern was raised about the many Indigenous Peoples in Voluntary Isolation (PIAV), who have chosen to live in a way that is distant from the outside world and, at times, from other indigenous populations.

These people, the document said, are the most vulnerable population in the area, since they “do not possess the tools required for dialogue and negotiation with the outsiders that invade their territories.”

The second part of the document, dedicated to discernment, touched on the social, ecological, sacramental and ecclesial-missionary needs of the area, with specific attention placed on the role of local faithful and their unity with their pastors.

It stressed the unity of humanity's relationship with God, with others and with creation, saying these three “vital relationships have been broken, both outwardly and within us.”

To evangelize, then, means “promoting the dignity of each individual, the common good of society, social progress, and care for the environment.”

The document also stressed the importance of unity between Catholic laity in the area and their bishops, saying “the upholding of Church tradition – carried out by the whole people of God – requires the unity of the faithful with their pastors when examining and discerning new realities.”

It emphasized the importance of bishops accompanying their pastors, saying the synod discussion will require “an extensive exercise in reciprocal listening, especially between the faithful and the Church’s magisterial authorities.”

The document closed with a questionnaire consisting of three sets of questions related to each section of the text which will be sent out to bishops in the region, the answers to which will help form the basis of the synod's working document.

Washington, Rockville Centre dioceses get new auxiliary bishops

Fri, 06/08/2018 - 10:37 AM

Vatican City, Jun 8, 2018 / 08:37 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican Friday announced that Pope Francis has appointed two new auxiliary bishops for the United States, one of whom will serve the Archdiocese of Washington and one the Diocese of Rockville Centre.

Msgr. Michael William Fisher, 60, will step on as auxiliary bishop for Washington, headed by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, and Msgr. Richard Henning will serve as auxiliary bishop for Rockville Centre, which is overseen by Bishop John O. Barres. Their appointments were announced in a June 8 communique from the Vatican.

Born in Baltimore March 3, 1958, Msgr. Fisher attended the city's Polytechnic Institute high school and later received a Bachelor's degree in business administration and accounting from the University of Maryland in 1984.

He then worked as a comptroller for a psychiatric practice in Bethesda before discerning his vocation to the priesthood. He entered Mount Saint Mary's seminary in Emmitsburg in 1986, and was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Washington by Cardinal James Hickey in 1990.

After his ordination, Fisher was assigned to Sacred Heart parish in La Plata. He then served in various other pastoral roles before being given the title of “Monsignor” by Pope John Paul II in 2005.

Later that year, Fisher was tapped by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who at the time was archbishop of Washington, to be the vicar general for the apostolates, a role in which he oversaw the diocese's ministries for education, social justice, parish life, youth ministry and ethnic ministry.

In 2006, Cardinal Donald Wuerl named Fisher vicar for clergy and secretary for ministerial leadership, which is a position the bishop-elect has held for the past 12 years and in which he is tasked with overseeing the formation and care of clergy for the archdiocese.

In addition to his pastoral roles, Fisher has served on a number of boards and committees, including the archdiocese's College of Consultors, Priest Council, Administrative Board, Priest Retirement Board, Deacon Review Board, Needy Parish Committee and Forward in Faith Committee.

He has also served as an ecclesiastical counselor to the archdiocese's Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice foundation, and has dedicated a large portion of his priestly ministry to assisting new pastors in their roles, educating priests and organizing priestly training through conferences and retreats.

Bishop-elect Henning, 53, born Oct. 17, 1964, in Rockville Centre, is currently the interim vicar for the Central Vicariate of the Rockville Centre diocese. He also serves rector of the seminary of the Immaculate Conception and Director of the Sacred Heart Institute in Huntington.

He obtained a bachelor's degree in history in 1988. He entered the seminary of the Immaculate Conception the same year, and was ordained a priest for the Rockville Centre diocese in 1992.

The bishop-elect then obtained a licentiate degree in biblical theology from The Catholic University of America in Washington in 2000, and later earned a doctorate in the subject from the University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome in 2007.

After his ordination, Henning served in various pastoral roles while continuing to pursue his studies. He also held several teaching positions at the Immaculate Conception seminary before being named rector in 2012.

The same year he was named to his position as director of the Sacred Heart Institute for the ongoing formation of clergy in the Archdiocese of New York, the Diocese of Brooklyn and the Diocese of Rockville Centre.

Other recent positions Henning has held include director of the Parresia Project, which is a grant-funded initiative aimed at improving the welcoming process for international priests living in the United States. He was given charge over the project in 2010, and continues in that role today.

In 2008 he was given the title of “Monsignor,” and he was named a member of the diocesan college of consultors in 2013. In addition to his native English, Henning also speaks Spanish and Italian, and is able to read French, Greek and Hebrew.

In a June 8 press release on his appointment, Henning voiced his gratitude to Pope Francis for being named auxiliary bishop, saying his nomination is “a moment of deep reflection and the humble acknowledgment of my dependence upon the grace of God and my joy in His service.”

Bishop Barres, who oversees the Diocese of Rockville Centre, said he is grateful for Henning's appointment, and praised the bishop-elect's “pastoral charity and intelligence, his commitment to a demanding life of daily prayer, his love for the Hispanic community and evangelization, his biblical scholarship and experience in seminary formation, his national contributions to the ongoing formation of priests and assistance to international priests who serve in this country.”

These qualities, Barres said, give Henning a broad pastoral experience and the skills “to help advance the New Evangelization and dramatic missionary growth on Long Island.”

Barres will preside over Henning's episcopal ordination July 24, 2018, at the Cathedral of Saint Agnes, Rockville Centre, New York.

Millions travel to basilica shrine for Uganda Martyrs' Day

Fri, 06/08/2018 - 5:01 AM

Kampala, Uganda, Jun 8, 2018 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- They came by plane, by bus, and even on foot: pilgrims traveled thousands of miles to Uganda's Catholic shrine for the feast of the Uganda Martyrs, celebrated each year June 3.

Police estimated that this year’s crowd, which gathered at the Basilica of the Uganda Martyrs in Namugongo, totaled as many as 4 million. While most hail from Uganda, many came from other countries, including Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Japan, and the United States.

“The devotion is strong because many people have had their prayers answered through the intercession of the Uganda Martyrs,” Francis, a representative of the shrine, told CNA.

Every year, thousands of pilgrims make the trek to the shrine on foot, including 90 year-old Mzee Bernado Tibyangye, who walked for two weeks to attend the celebration this year.

“When I was young I used to pray through St. Andrew Kaggwa, one of my favorite Uganda Martyrs, and I would always ask him to intercede for me so that my faith grows stronger each day,” Mzee told the Ugandan bishops' conference.

“This year, I want to ask the Uganda Martyrs to intercede for my family for peace and provision as well as other unmarried families so that they can be able to respond to God’s calling. I also want God to heal my feet so the pain that I am feeling can stop. This healing will be a testimony to many old people so that they can start coming for this pilgrimage,” he said.

A young pilgrim in Mzee’s group told the bishops' conference that even though he was tired, he was excited to participate in the celebration.

“...God gave me courage and strength to keep walking and I know that He will surely bless me. This is my first time to come for this Namugongo pilgrimage, and I came to pray for healing because I have a problem with my eyes and legs,” said 11 year-old Crescent Tindimwebwa, who made the trek with his grandmother.

The shrine, built on the site where most of the martyrs were killed, is located about 10 miles northeast of downtown Kampala.

An aerial shot of the celebration, provided by the Ugandan bishops' conference, shows the vast crowds of pilgrims spilling out into the surrounding streets.

“This is what it looks like when more than a million people gather together to worship God,” tweeted Catholic advocate Obianuju Ekeocha.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">This was 2 days ago in Uganda on the feast of the Ugandan Martyrs... this is what it looks like when more than a million people gather together to worship God.<br>Yes! we believe in God the Almighty Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!!!<br><br>*video by Ugandan Episcopal Conference <a href="https://t.co/kuaHQZC5z4">pic.twitter.com/kuaHQZC5z4</a></p>&mdash; Obianuju Ekeocha (@obianuju) <a href="https://twitter.com/obianuju/status/1003961367144157184?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">June 5, 2018</a></blockquote>
<script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

The feast of the Uganda Martyrs honors 24 Catholic martyrs from the country, 22 of whom were killed between 1885 and 1887 under King Mwanga of Buganda (now a part of Uganda), and two others who were killed in 1918 in Northern Uganda. Twenty-three Anglican Ugandans were also killed for their Christian faith within the same time period.

In the late 1800s in Africa, European powers were scrambling to colonize Africa. During this time of colonization, Christian missionaries also began to arrive and to evangelize the newly-acquired European territories.

Among the Catholic missionary groups were the White Fathers (named for the color of their robes), now known as the Missionaries of Africa, who were successfully evangelizing within Buganda.

Some of the Buganda Catholic converts included young pages in the court of King Mwanga, who grew increasingly intolerant of Christianity, likely for two reasons: he saw it as a threat to his power, and he resented the young Christian pages who rejected his sexual advances.

The first Catholic martyr was Joseph Mukasa Balikuddembe, who was beheaded and burnt Nov. 15, 1885, for pleading with Mwanga to spare the life of James Hannington, and Anglican bishop who was to be killed for his missionary activities.

Many of the other martyrs were killed in May of the following year. On May 25, they were ordered to go on a days-long death march to Namugongo for refusing to denounce their faith. Several were killed along the way by spear for refusing to continue walking, or for collapsing from exhaustion.

One of the martyrs, Mathias Kalemba Mulumba, was killed in a particularly gruesome way. After two days of marching, he refused to walk further and asked for his execution. First his hands were cut off, then some of his flesh, and then his legs. However, his executioners stemmed the blood flow so that he would not die a quick death from blood loss. He died three days later from dehydration.

The other martyrs who made it to Namugongo were kept alive for about a week, during which time they gathered what would be the instruments of their execution - firewood and reeds.

On June 3, 1886, Charles Lwanga became the first of these to be martyred. He was ordered by the executioners to prepare his own death bed of firewood, and was then wrapped in reeds and burned to death. Twelve other Catholic martyrs were then also burned alive, along with thirteen Anglicans and several other prisoners.

Three decades later, in northern Uganda, catechists Daudi Okello and Jildo Irwa were dragged from their hut by a group of attackers and speared to death, Oct. 18, 1918.

Popular devotion to the martyrs remained strong in the country, and Charles Lwanga and his companions were beatified June 6, 1920. Bl. Paul VI canonized the group Oct. 18, 1964. The two catechists, Okello and Irwa, were beatified by St. John Paul II Oct. 20, 2002.

Miracles attributed to the martyrs include the curing of the bubonic plague in two religious sisters, and the curing of a physical deformity in the feet and legs of a young boy.

Francis, the shrine's representative, said the witness of the martyrs should be a source of strength and courage for any Christians who experience persecution today.

“When one chooses what's right, he or she is remembered and treasured forever,” he told CNA.

“Choosing Christ may, (for) a time, cause physical pain, neglect, abuses, etc., but Christ always remains with you and you always win.”

DNA from three parents? Critics concerned by Ukraine doctor's methods

Fri, 06/08/2018 - 2:34 AM

Kyiv, Ukraine, Jun 8, 2018 / 12:34 am (CNA/EWTN News).- As a Ukrainian clinic claims success in creating babies with three parents’ DNA, critics are raising medical and ethical objections to the largely experimental fertility method.

“This is really an irresponsible kind of human experimentation,” Marcy Darnovsky, the head of the Center for Genetics and Society.

“We just don’t know what’s going to happen to these children,” she said, according to NPR.

Dr. Valery Zukin, director of the Nadiya Clinic in Kiev, Ukraine, is among the team of doctors who have created four children using DNA from three different parents – a procedure that has not publicly been done anywhere else in the world. Three more of Zukin’s patients are pregnant by this method.

The technique entails fertilizing a woman’s egg with her partner’s sperm. The resulting embryo is placed on a dish with a second embryo, which was made using sperm from the same man and the egg of a different woman, an egg donor.

Throughout the process, most of the DNA from the donated egg is removed and replaced with the would-be parents’ DNA. This embryo is then implanted into the womb of the patient wishing to conceive.

The procedure was originally created for women who had devastating genetic disorders caused by mitochondrial DNA defects to help avoid passing these genes on to their children. However, the technique has evolved over time from its original purpose and is now being used by parents without a mitochondrial disorder.  

Locals in the Ukraine are charged around $8,000 for the procedure, while out-of-country patients pay upwards of $15,000. The first-known child conceived by this method is now 15 months old. The baby’s mother, known only as Tamara for privacy purposes, said she was “so excited” to have a child after a long road of fertility issues, according to NPR.

Dr. Zukin, a pioneer in the method, does not see an ethical problem with the fertility procedure, saying that he is only helping families achieve genetic connection with their children.

“If you can help these families achieve their own babies, why must it be forbidden?” Zukin asked.

“As a doctor I understand only one thing: we have parents who couldn’t have children and now they have their own biological child. That’s all,” he continued.

While Zukin and his clinic of scientists are believed to be the first to create living children with DNA from three parents, experiments surrounding the technique have been a topic of controversy for years.

In 2015, the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales said there were “serious ethical objections” to the embryo techniques, noting “the human embryo is a new human life, and it should be respected and protected from the moment of conception.”

Other controversy has been associated with the procedure, including a 2016 case when a woman traveled to Mexico where “there were no rules,” to receive the fertility treatment that would evade “existing regulations in the United States.”

In 2014, the Center for Genetics and Society penned a letter to the FDA saying the technique “should not be permitted because of the profound safety, efficacy, policy and social problems [it] would pose,” by “bringing children into existence by experimental techniques that have had developmentally poor outcomes in studies using both animal and human eggs.”

Darnovsky voiced concerns that allowing scientists to make inheritable genetic modifications opens the door to “designer babies.”

“What we’re seeing is a fast slide down a very slippery slope toward designer babies,” she said.

Jeffrey Kahn, director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, also voiced his concerns over the method, saying “we just don’t know if it’s safe,” according to NPR.

“This is the first time a human being is being created this way,” he said, adding “this is an uncontrolled experiment in which women are being offered a new technology that’s never been tried before. That’s why it’s a concern.”