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Knights of Columbus founder ‘loved the priesthood deeply,’ says Archbishop Lori

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. —The priesthood of Father Michael J. McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, “models the teaching of recent popes,” said Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori.

Four men carry a 4-foot statue of Father Michael J. McGivney past an honor guard at St. Mary's Church in New Haven, Conn., Aug. 14. The Mass celebrated the 125th anniversary of the death of Father McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus. (CNS photo/Mary Chalupsky, The Catholic Transcript) See MCGIVNEY-MASS Aug. 18, 2015.

Four men carry a 4-foot statue of Father Michael J. McGivney past an honor guard at St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Conn., Aug. 14. The Mass celebrated the 125th anniversary of the death of Father McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus. (CNS photo/Mary Chalupsky, The Catholic Transcript) See MCGIVNEY-MASS Aug. 18, 2015.

“St. John Paul II said that the priest’s personality must be a bridge to Christ, and indeed Father McGivney’s unassuming, lighthearted-yet-determined character attracted many to the Catholic faith and to St. Mary’s Church,” said the archbishop, who is supreme chaplain of the Knights.

“When Pope Francis tells priests to acquire the smell of the sheep and to bring the Gospel to the margins of society,” he continued, “I think of Father McGivney. He loved the priesthood deeply.”

Archbishop Lori made the comments in his homily for a Mass marking the 125th anniversary of the death of Father McGivney. The prelate also was principal celebrant of the Aug. 14 Mass at St. Mary’s Church in New Haven.

The church is where Father McGivney, a priest of the Archdiocese of Hartford, founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882. He was an assistant pastor there when he gathered a handful of men in the church basement to start the fraternal organization.

Archbishop Lori spoke of how the priest influenced those early Knights in embracing the organization’s principles.

“These men would not have committed to the principle of charity had they not seen in Father McGivney a man of tireless pastoral charity, who reflected God’s love through acts of personal generosity and compassion,” he said. The men also would not have committed “to the principle of unity had they not seen how Father McGivney brought together the people of St. Mary’s Parish and how he served as a source of unity in the wider community of New Haven.”

The priest’s witness of fraternity also had an impact on those early Knights’ commitment to that principle.

“Father McGivney was not only the father but also the brother to his parishioners and indeed to anyone in need,” Archbishop Lori added.

The priest is a candidate for sainthood. The Father McGivney Guild was formed in 1996 to promote his cause; the Vatican approved opening the cause in 1997.

Father McGivney was declared “venerable” by Pope Benedict XVI, recognizing his heroic virtue. A miracle attributed to his intercession is under investigation at the Vatican.

In general, one confirmed miracle is needed for beatification and a second such miracle is needed for canonization. Archbishop Lori spoke in strong personal terms about Father McGivney, whom he said he considers his “parish priest, the parish priest of my soul.” “Every morning I pray to him and I pray that he be canonized, as I know you do. Every day I load his plate with all kinds of intentions,” he added.

Based in New Haven, the Knights of Columbus has about 1.9 million members in the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Mexico, Poland, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, Cuba, Guatemala, Guam and Saipan.

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New Mexico bishops praise court decision barring assisted suicide

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SANTA FE, N.M. — The Catholic bishops of New Mexico in a joint statement welcomed a ruling by the state’s Court of Appeals that reversed a lower court’s approval of physician-assisted suicide.

“The Catholic Church strongly believes that life is a gift from a loving God, which extends from conception to natural death,” they said. “Only God can give or take life and the state does not have the competency to shorten this precious gift, even for seemingly laudable purposes.”

Two years ago, ruling in the case of a woman who had been diagnosed with life-threatening uterine cancer, the Bernalillo County District Court said that aid in dying “is a fundamental liberty interest.”

On Aug. 11, the state appeals court said the opposite, that assisting someone to die is “not a fundamental liberty interest under the New Mexico Constitution.”

The bishops, in their Aug. 13 statement, said that “while each stage of life is sacred, the end of life is filled with special meaning and opportunities.”

“Our church, given its long history of operating and sponsoring hospitals, ministering to those in pain and providing spiritual services to the dying,” they said, “is in a unique position to shed light on our country’s debate on assisted suicide and to offer insights that point to the dignity and sacredness of the dying process.”

Society too often “sees pain as the enemy while in fact suffering often accompanies genuine growth and new opportunities,” they said. “The answer to suffering is not death but rather the grateful acceptance of life while at the same time managing pain through proper medications and the support of loved ones.”

The statement was signed by Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe and Bishops James S. Wall of Gallup and Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces.

The plaintiffs in the original case, Morris v. King, were two physicians from the University of New Mexico Hospital who filed suit on behalf of patient Aja Riggs. Lawyers for Riggs and the doctors said they would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico argued the case on behalf of the doctors.

The plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of a 1963 state law that makes it a fourth-degree felony to assist in someone’s suicide.

The Catholic Church “sees the process of dying as a communal event in which loved ones and the faith community also find new life, reconciliation, hope and strength as they accompany the dying person in his or her final days,” the New Mexico bishops said.

The church uses “the proper use of the word ‘compassion,’” they continued. “Compassion invites us all to journey with our loved ones as they prepare for eternal life, sharing and easing their suffering as we assure them that we are with them every step of the way.”

Those who advocate for assisted suicide argue it is compassionate to help those facing a terminal illness to kill themselves.

“Cutting that journey short is not compassionate,” the bishops said. “Rather, it is allowing suffering to blind us to the meaning of life.”

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Analysis: Ideals worth sacrificing for – Pope to challenge U.S. Congress, U.N.

August 13th, 2015 Posted in Featured, National News Tags: ,

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Catholic News Service

 

VATICAN CITY — Along with having a winning smile and a warm embrace, Pope Francis is known for challenging people.

He does it regularly at morning Mass — particularly calling out hypocrisy and gossip — and does not spare even his closest aides in the Roman Curia, so it is unlikely his speeches to the U.S. Congress and the U.N. General Assembly will let his audiences leave without a suggested examination of conscience. Read more »

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Women further victimized by harvesting of fetal parts, says counselor

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Catholic News Service

ST. LOUIS  — Women who have an abortion are being further victimized when given the option to donate their child’s body parts for research, according to Sue Harvath, who has counseled post-abortive women in the St. Louis area for more than 30 years.

Harvath said it shouldn’t matter whether Planned Parenthood is making money from the sale of fetal body parts, as alleged in a series of undercover videos, because even the act of obtaining the body parts is manipulative and flat wrong. Read more »

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Knights’ founder drew principles from ‘heart of Gospel,’ says archbishop

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PHILADELPHIA — St. John Paul II often referred “to the witness of holy men and women as ‘transfigured lives capable of amazing the world,'” Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori told members of the Knights of Columbus in a homily Aug. 6.

Father Michael J. McGivney, the founder of the Knights, is an example of just such a holy man, he said.

Archbishop Lori made the comments in a homily at a Mass on the feast of the Transfiguration, the last day of the Knights of Columbus Supreme Convention in Philadelphia. Read more »

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Bismarck bishop tells Catholic groups with troops to sever ties with Boy Scouts

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BISMARCK, N.D. (CNS) — Bishop David D. Kagan of Bismarck told Catholic parishes, schools and institutions they must cut ties with the Boy Scouts of America because of the organization’s decision to allow openly gay troop leaders and employees to serve in their ranks at the national level.He said in an Aug. 3 letter to parishioners that “effective immediately,” any Catholic organization connected with the Boy Scouts is “formally disaffiliated” immediately with the Scouting organization.

Bishop Kagan wrote that even though the Boy Scouts of America may have a religious organization exception, it “will provide no protection for any of our parishes and/or schools which sponsor troops.” Read more »

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Forgiveness at heart of healing after Ferguson violence, says archbishop

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Catholic News Service

St. LOUIS — Forgiveness.

Such a simple word, a mere 11 letters but it’s at the heart of the Catholic faith, along with love, peace and justice.

“Jesus tells us that if we receive him as the bread of life, we will have his life within us,” Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis said in his homily at a Mass for peace and justice Aug. 9 at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. “He shows what this life means on the cross, when he forgives those who killed him.” Read more »

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Milwaukee archdiocese reaches $21 million settlement with abuse survivors

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MILWAUKEE — The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has reached a $21 million settlement with abuse survivors, according to an Aug. 4 announcement.

The settlement is part of an agreement on a reorganization plan reached by the archdiocese and the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors, which has sought compensation for victims/survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

Chief Judge Susan V. Kelley of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin now must rule on the organization plan. It will be submitted to her Aug. 24, with a ruling expected in early November.

The agreement comes more than four years and eight months after the archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. That action followed failed mediation with 15 abuse victims/survivors in which the archdiocese had offered a settlement of $4.6 million.

According to the agreement, 330 abuse survivors will share $21 million. The amount for each will be determined by a court-appointed claims administrator who will evaluate claims in two of the four classes of abuse survivors listed in the plan, and make recommendations to the committee as to final compensation.

The four classes include 579 claims filed in Chapter 11. The first class includes 223 abuse survivors whose claims were against “an Archdiocese of Milwaukee priest with a previous substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor,” according to information provided by the archdiocese.

The second class is comprised of 107 claims involving abuse by a religious order priest, brother, sister or lay employee who experienced the abuse at an archdiocesan parish, school or institution where the abuser worked.

Jerry Topczewski, chief of staff for Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki, explained why those claims were included, even though they did not involve archdiocesan priests.

“To get a settlement, we compromised. We thought because this abuse occurred at an archdiocesan parish, school or institution where the abuser was working, we felt that was a compromise that was just,” he said.

The 92 claimants in the third class are those whose claims against the archdiocese are not substantiated or could not be substantiated, or where abuse occurred by someone at a non-archdiocesan organization.

“The creditors’ committee, and that’s an important distinction, is setting aside money to say to them, ‘We will give to them a small amount of money, $2,000 each, at our choice, out of the settlement,’” Topczewski said, noting it is a set amount not subject to review by the claims administrator.

The fourth class is comprised of 157 claimants whose claims were either disallowed or dismissed or whose claims are not for sexual abuse or do not identify the abuser. This group also includes claims filed by 84 individuals who had previously received a financial settlement from the archdiocese. None in this class receive payment.

Part of the compensation for victims/survivors will come from insurance settlements totaling $11 million, including $7.4 million from Lloyd’s of London and $2.3 million from OneBeacon Insurance Group.

The archdiocesan Cemetery Perpetual Care Trust “will voluntarily lend us $3 million, the same as they were going to do in the original plan (of reorganization),” Topczewski said.

Funds in the trust are earmarked for cemetery maintenance to provide perpetual care for the archdiocesan cemeteries that cover 1,000 acres of land where more than 500,000 people are interred.

Attorneys for the victims/survivors had argued the funds should be used to compensate victims.

The trust will reimburse the archdiocese $5 million for perpetual care that covers the last five years. The trust will contribute another $8 million “to settle all pending litigation to bring closure to the cemetery trust issue,” according to information provided by the archdiocese.

The market value of the cemetery trust has been listed as high as $65 million, providing it with the resources to continue providing the perpetual care for which people paid.

One of the concerns regularly mentioned by the court, attorneys and public throughout the proceedings was the cost of the Chapter 11 process. More than $12 million has been paid to attorneys and other professionals, while another $6.5 million has been accrued but not paid. As part of the agreement, additional legal fees have been capped at $1.25 million.

Topczewski said, “Abuse survivors will receive more money than will be paid out in professional fees, which was important to abuse survivors and it was important to us, too.”

From the outset, Archbishop Listecki insisted any plan of reorganization had to include a therapy fund. That $500,000 fund, made possible by contributions from parishes, will provide abuse survivors with access to therapy and counseling for as long as they need it.

Other key provisions of the agreement include:

  • All Archdiocese of Milwaukee parishes, schools and institutions will receive a legal and binding release protecting them from future lawsuits relating to abuse claims that were filed or could have been filed in the Chapter 11 proceeding.
  • Archdiocesan offices will remain at the Cousins Center in the city of St. Francis. According to Topczewski, “It is not on market. Part of the plan was to stay here. Economically, there is no reason for us to move.”
  • Once the plan is approved, the cemetery trust will voluntarily withdraw its request asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the March 9 decision by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that said there was no First Amendment protection in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings for the cemetery trust. Attorneys for the archdiocese had argued that to use cemetery monies to compensate abuse victims would violate Archbishop Listecki’s religious freedom rights as the trustee for the cemetery fund.

“We have a new day,” Topczewski said.

By Brian Olszewski

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New Mexico bishops urges vigilance after explosions at churches

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LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces has asked pastors, deacons and parish leaders in the diocese “to exercise increased vigilance in our parish surroundings and activities.”

The bishop’s message, posted early Aug. 4 on the diocese’s Facebook page, was prompted by a small explosion that occurred Aug. 2 outside Holy Cross Catholic Church during the 8 a.m. Mass.

Earlier that morning, by about 20 minutes, a small explosion took place a few miles away at Calvary Baptist Church.

Minor damage was reported at both churches, but there were no injuries or deaths.

Federal and state authorities were investigating what explosives were used and trying to identify who was responsible for the blasts and whether they were connected.

At Holy Cross, the explosion occurred during the eucharistic prayer, according to Bishop Cantu.

Msgr. John Anderson, the pastor, told the Las Cruces Sun-News newspaper: “I was right in the middle of saying the words ‘take and eat, this is my body,’ and there was a pow! I mean, I knew it had to be more than a gunshot.’”

The priest said he “just kept on saying the words.”

Several minutes later, police arrived on the scene and ordered the church evacuated, according to Bishop Cantu.

Msgr. Anderson went to the other side of the street with his parishioners, he said, and “there offered prayers for peace and safety.”

Bishop Cantu said that over the next 24 hours, law enforcement authorities searched the premises for other explosive devices and to gather evidence.

“I was impressed with their thoroughness and professionalism,” the bishop said. “It will surely take some time for the authorities eventually to find the perpetrator(s) and discover the motives of these criminal and violent acts.”

Bishop Cantu said the diocese extended “prayers for and solidarity with” the Baptist congregation.

The AP reported that the explosive device at Calvary Baptist Church had been placed in a mailbox near the entrance to the church’s offices. Police said several congregants were inside the church at the time, but services had not yet started.

“They will remain in our prayers,” he said, adding that Msgr. Anderson and his parishioners also remained “in our thoughts and prayers, as they recover from the trauma of having their most sacred moments violently disrupted. … We pray that, though with increased vigilance, the parish community will return to its routines of worship, formation, service, and community building.”

Bishop Cantu urged parish communities to be aware of “any suspicious activity and report it to proper authorities. Let us do this with heightened awareness, but without alarm.”

He added: “It is important that as much as possible we all return to our routines of parish, school, and community activities, yet with prudent caution and awareness.

The bishop said that he and pastors held an Aug. 3 meeting and realized there is a need for emergency preparedness training in the parishes.

“We will certainly do so in order that our parish and Catholic school leaders can be prepared to respond to any emergencies that may arise,” he said.

“Let us pray for each other. Let us pray for peace,” he said in closing. “Let us pray for the perpetrator(s), that they might discover the joy of peace and forgiveness and leave behind the frustration of hatred and violence.

“We pray for our first responders and those who work to maintain the peace. We pray for strength and healing.”

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Cardinal O’Malley urges Senate to defund Planned Parenthood

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WASHINGTON — The head of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee Aug. 3 urged U.S. senators to take the federal money that goes to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and instead fund women’s health care providers that do not promote abortion.

“It has long been troubling to many Americans that the nation’s largest abortion network, performing over a third of all abortions, receives over half a billion taxpayer dollars a year,” said Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley.

Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley (CNS file?Reuters) (

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley (CNS file?Reuters) (

“This concern has rightly grown in recent years,” he wrote in a letter to the senators.

“The most recent revelations about Planned Parenthood’s willingness to traffic in fetal tissue from abortions, and to alter abortion methods not for any reason related to women’s health but to obtain more intact organs, is the latest demonstration of a callousness toward women and their unborn children that is shocking to many Americans,” he said.

The cardinal is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

He urged senators to support S. 1881, a measure that would defund Planned Parenthood and its affiliates. His letter followed the release in mid-July of videos of the organization’s officials filmed undercover by a nonprofit California-based organization called the Center for Medical Progress.

In two videos, top Planned Parenthood physicians describe how abortions are carried out to best salvage fetal tissue and organs for researchers and described a range of prices paid for different body parts.

A third video was of an interview with a technician talking about harvesting fetal body parts and included graphic footage. A fourth video was about to be released until Los Angeles Superior Court July 28 issued an order blocking its release.

Planned Parenthood receives more than $500 million of its $1.3 billion annual budget from federal and state programs. According to 2013 data, the latest available, Planned Parenthood says abortions represent 3 percent of the total services its facilities provide.

On Capitol Hill, a number of Republicans in the House and Senate have called for an end to federal funding of Planned Parenthood. Several states also have launched investigations into the organization.

Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a statement said that “allegations that Planned Parenthood profits in any way from tissue donation is not true.” She later apologized for “the tone” the physicians used in describing abortion procedures and also argued the videos had been heavily edited to distort the truth.

In his letter, Cardinal O’Malley added: “The Catholic Church comes to this issue from a perspective rooted in experience. Catholic charitable agencies and pregnancy help centers have helped countless pregnant women find life-affirming alternatives to abortion.”

It was reported that Senate Democrats voted to block S. 1881 on Aug. 3 but that Republicans plan introduce a motion to reconsider it in September.

 

 

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