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Sen. Feinstein questions Catholic judicial nominee: ‘Dogma lives loudly within you’ — Updated

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, spurred outrage about possible religious tests for judicial appointees when she questioned a Catholic judicial nominee Sept. 6 about what impact her faith would have on her interpretation of the law.

Reaction from Catholic leaders to the hearing for Amy Coney Barrett, nominee for a seat on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. was swift, with a leading archbishop calling the Senate hearing “deeply disappointing.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, is seen in Washington Sept. 7. (CNS photo/Joshua Roberts, Reuters)

In the hearing, Feinstein not only referred to Barrett’s speeches in the committee hearing, but also to a 1998 article by Barrett, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame, about the role of Catholic judges in death penalty cases.

The Marquette Law Review article, co-authored by John H. Garvey, who is now president of The Catholic University of America, concluded that although Catholic judges opposed to the death penalty could always simply recuse themselves under federal law, “litigants and the general public are entitled to impartial justice, which may be something a judge who is heedful of ecclesiastical pronouncements cannot dispense.”

Feinstein did not question Barrett about capital punishment cases, but rather the upholding of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that made abortion legal.

“When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And, that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country.”

Barrett addressed this issue early in the hearing, answering a question from Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, by saying: “It is never appropriate for a judge to apply their personal convictions, whether it derives from faith or personal conviction.”

Richard Garnett, also a University of Notre Dame law professor, said Feinstein’s line of questioning seemed to say “because you’re a Catholic, you can’t be believed.”

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, said the hearing was “deeply disappointing” since a number of senators failed to “simply consider the professional achievements of a nominee for the federal judiciary” and instead “challenged her fitness to serve due to her Catholic faith.”

In a Sept. 8 statement, the archbishop said the line of questioning Barrett received was “contrary to our Constitution and our best national traditions, which protect the free exercise of one’s faith and reject religious tests for public office, they are offensive to basic human rights.”

Garvey was among the first to respond in print to the hearing.

“I never thought I’d see the day when a coalition of left-wing groups attacked a Republican judicial nominee for opposing the death penalty,” he wrote in a Sept. 7 opinion article for the Washington Examiner.

“Catholic judges are not alone in facing such dilemmas. An observant Quaker would have the same problem. And I like to think that any federal judge would have had moral objections to enforcing the fugitive slave laws Congress passed before the Civil War.”

Garvey and others accused Feinstein of echoing talking points from The Alliance for Justice, a liberal advocacy group that has prepared reports on all of Trump’s judicial nominees.

The Alliance report on Barrett said she “has avoided definitive public statements on Roe v. Wade” but added, referring to the 1998 article as well as other “positions and philosophies,” that she held “the astonishing view that judges should place their religious beliefs ahead of the Constitution when carrying out their duties.”

“Barrett (and I) said no such thing,” Garvey wrote. “We said precisely the opposite.”

“I suspect what really troubled (the senators) is that, as a Catholic, her pro-life views might extend beyond criminal defendants to the unborn. If true, the focus on our law review article is all the more puzzling. After all, our point was that judges should respect the law, even laws they disagree with. And if they can’t enforce them, they should recuse themselves.”

The report also criticizes Barrett for signing a letter, produced by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, that criticized the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate as “morally obtuse.”

Eric Rassbach, the Becket Fund’s deputy general counsel, issued a statement in response: “It’s not something you could sue her over, but Sen. Feinstein would break her oath to defend the Constitution, including the part about no religious tests, if she were to vote against Barrett because of her Catholic religious beliefs.”

Sen. Dick Durbin, D- Illinois, a Georgetown University graduate, added fuel to the fire when, after calling himself “the product of 19 years of Catholic education,” he brought up the use of the term “orthodox Catholic” in Barrett’s law review article. He asked Barrett to define the term and to say if she considered herself an “orthodox” Catholic.

Barrett explained that in the context of the article, the term was “a proxy” for Catholic believers, but she didn’t think it was a term in current use.

She added, “If you’re asking whether I take my faith seriously and am a faithful Catholic, I am. Although I would stress that my present church affiliation or my religious beliefs would not bear in the discharge of my duties as a judge.”

Durbin responded, “I happen to think Pope Francis is a pretty good Catholic.”

“I agree with you,” Barrett responded, smiling.

Archbishop Lori said the questions to Barrett “sadly, harken back to a time in our country when anti-Catholic bigotry did distort our laws and civil order.”

He wondered if the senators’ questions were meant “as a warning shot” for future law students and attorneys not to discuss their faith in a public forum at a time when “we should be encouraging faithful, ethical attorneys to serve in public office, not discouraging them by subjecting them to inappropriate, unnecessary interrogation based on their religious beliefs.”

Meanwhile, Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame, sent a letter to Feinstein Sept. 9 expressing “my confidence in her competence and character, and deep concern for your line of questioning.

He challenged Feinstein’s stated concern that “dogma lives loudly in (Professor Barrett)” when it pertains to “big issues that large numbers of people have fought for years in this country.” He wrote that “dogma lives loudly” in his heart as well as “in the lives of many Americans, some of whom have given their lives in service to this nation.” He said dogma guided the country’s founders, who believed citizens should practice “their faith freely and without apology.”

“Professor Barrett has made it clear that she would ‘follow unflinchingly’ all legal precedent and, in rare cases in which her conscience would not allow her to do so, she would recuse herself. I can assure that she is a person of integrity who acts in accord with the principles she articulates,” the letter said.

Christopher L. Eisgruber, president of Princeton University, also expressed concern with the line of questioning during Barrett’s hearing.

He wrote in a letter to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary Sept. 8 that he was committed to free speech and that he felt that Barrett’s willingness to write “candidly and intelligently about difficult and sensitive ethical questions” makes her an even stronger candidate for the bench.

Archbishop Lori said the questions to Barrett “sadly, harken back to a time in our country when anti-Catholic bigotry did distort our laws and civil order.”

He wondered if the senators’ questions were meant “as a warning shot” for future law students and attorneys not to discuss their faith in a public forum at a time when “we should be encouraging faithful, ethical attorneys to serve in public office, not discouraging them by subjecting them to inappropriate, unnecessary interrogation based on their religious beliefs.”

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Jubilant crowd gathers in Washington for annual March for Life

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Tens of thousands of pro-lifers filled the grounds near the Washington Monument and marched up Constitution Avenue to the U.S. Supreme Court Jan. 27 as both a protest of legalized abortion and a celebration of successful pro-life efforts across the country.

Students from the Diocese of Lansing, Mich., holds signs during the annual March for Life in Washington Jan. 27. (CNS photo/Jaclyn Lippelmann, Catholic Standard)

Students from the Diocese of Lansing, Mich., holds signs during the annual March for Life in Washington Jan. 27. (CNS photo/Jaclyn Lippelmann, Catholic Standard)

In years past, the March for Life, which takes place on or near Jan. 22 to mark the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton that legalized abortion virtually on demand, has been almost a battle cry for the uphill and constant fight faced by those in the pro-life movement hoping for more abortion restrictions and ultimately an end to abortion.

This year’s March for Life, under mostly sunny skies and 40-degree temperatures, was decidedly more upbeat, in part because one of the first speakers was Vice President Mike Pence: the first time a vice president attended the rally.  (See story below.)

Kellyanne Conway, special adviser to Trump, and the first on the speakers’ list to address the group, holding aloft placards but none of the usual giant banners, which were banned for security reasons, similarly got plenty of cheers when she said: “This is a new day, a new dawn for life.”

The scheduled presence of the vice president, only announced the day before, required the rally perimeter to be fenced in and the crowd to enter through long lines that had formed at security checks. Participants seemed unfazed by the required wait, taking it in stride with the day. Some pulled out their pre-packed lunches and started eating, others prayed the rosary. These marchers are used to hardships from weather conditions alone at the annual march.

Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, noted that the group has been marching in all types of bad weather over the years. She also pointed out that amid recent discussion about crowd size at events in Washington, it was hard to measure the number of people that day or for the total who have come out for the annual march over the past four decades. “The only number we care about is the 58 million” lost to abortion since it was legalized, she said.

As in years past, the crowd was primarily young, with a lot of high school and college-age groups. It was something the speakers took note of, saying this generation would not only keep the pro-life movement going but bring about changes.

Mary Ann Vann, a retiree who made the trip from Trussville, Alabama, for her sixth march, said the most exciting thing for her each time she has taken part is seeing the young people.

Vann, a parishioner at Holy Infant of Prague Parish in Trussville, said she hoped the energy at the march could be channeled into everyday support for the pro-life movement, something she is involved with on a regular basis with sidewalk counseling, volunteering at crisis pregnancy centers and helping young mothers with basic needs. She also said she is disheartened by hearing those who say pro-lifers are only concerned about babies because she and her fellow volunteers not only bring pregnant women to their doctor’s appointments but also help pay their medical costs.

Jim Klarsch, a member of St. Clement Parish in St. Louis, who came with a busload of eighth-graders, also is  involved with pro-life work with the Knights of Columbus at his parish. In Washington on his second march, he said the experience was “empowering.”

Standing alongside Constitution Avenue waiting for the march to begin, he said the crowd, which was already filling the street to each side and behind him as far as the eye could see, reinforced his feeling that “this is not just a day but a lifelong mission.”

“You’re part of a pilgrimage. You take that experience home and you live it,” he added.

Some noted that the march had a distinctly different tone than the Women’s March on Washington six days before. Two sisters who stood on the sidelines with some of the few handmade signs at the march, described themselves as feminists and said they found the pro-life march more positive and less angry.

“This is a message of love,” said Bridget Donofrio, from Washington, holding aloft a poster-board sign with words written with a black marker: “Respect all women born and unborn.”

Many of the march signs were pre-made placards with messages such as “I am pro abundant life” or “Defund Planned Parenthood” and “I am the pro-life generation.”

On the Metro, when two older women asked a young woman for directions and pointed to the group with signs that they wanted to join, the woman looked up from her phone and asked if there was a protest today.

“It’s the March for Life,” one woman said. A few seconds later she added: “It’s not a protest; it’s more of a celebration.”

     

Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim.

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Presidential nominees spar over abortion issue as final debate opens

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Catholic News Service

 

WASHINGTON (CNS) — In the final presidential debate Oct. 19, Republican Donald Trump used his most explicit language to date to denounce late-term abortions.

Trump made those remarks after Democrat Hillary Clinton, answering the first question from moderator Chris Wallace, restated her support of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion virtually on demand, and she pledged continued support for Planned Parenthood. Read more »

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U.S. bishops’ president calls Supreme Court ruling on marriage ‘tragic error’

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WASHINGTON — The president of the U.S. bishops’ conference called the Supreme Court’s June 26 marriage ruling “a tragic error” and he urged Catholics to move forward with faith “in the unchanging truth about marriage being between one man and one woman.”

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said June 26 that, “Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable." (CNS/Tyler Orsburn)

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said June 26 that, “Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable.” (CNS/Tyler Orsburn)

“Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky.

“It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage,” he said.

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court June 26 said same-sex marriage is constitutional nationwide.

“Just as Roe v. Wade did not settle the question of abortion over 40 years ago,” when it legalized abortion in the U.S. virtually on demand, Obergefell v. Hodges “does not settle the question of marriage today,” Archbishop Kurtz said.

“Neither decision is rooted in the truth, and as a result, both will eventually fail,” he added.

The court had several marriage cases to consider and bundled them under the title of the Ohio case, Obergefell v. Hodges. That case arose after the October 2013 death of John Arthur of Cincinnati. He and his longtime partner, Obergefell, had married earlier that year in Maryland. When the local Ohio registrar agreed to list Obergefell as the surviving spouse on Arthur’s death certificate, which is key to a range of survivor’s benefits, the state attorney general challenged the status because Ohio law bars same-sex marriages.

The other cases included: Tanco v. Haslam, the Tennessee case, and Bourke v. Beshear, the Kentucky case, which similarly challenge those states’ refusal to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, and DeBoer v. Snyder, the Michigan adoption case.

“The unique meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is inscribed in our bodies as male and female,” Archbishop Kurtz said in his statement. “The protection of this meaning is a critical dimension of the integral ecology that Pope Francis has called us to promote.

“Mandating marriage redefinition across the country is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us, especially children. The law has a duty to support every child’s basic right to be raised, where possible, by his or her married mother and father in a stable home.”

The archbishop said the U.S. bishops will continue to teach as Jesus did. Christ taught with great love and “unambiguously that from the beginning marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman,” he added.

Archbishop Kurtz encouraged Catholics “to move forward with faith, hope, and love: faith in the unchanging truth about marriage, rooted in the immutable nature of the human person and confirmed by divine revelation; hope that these truths will once again prevail in our society, not only by their logic, but by their great beauty and manifest service to the common good; and love for all our neighbors, even those who hate us or would punish us for our faith and moral convictions.”

He urged all people of goodwill to join the Catholic Church “in proclaiming the goodness, truth, and beauty of marriage as rightly understood for millennia, and I ask all in positions of power and authority to respect the God-given freedom to seek, live by, and bear witness to the truth.

 

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March for Life speakers emphasize that ‘every life is a gift’

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — On a chilly and cloudy morning on the National Mall in Washington, crowds gathered Jan. 22 for the annual March for Life, this year marking the 42nd anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion virtually on demand.

Tens of thousands gathered first to hear a lineup of speakers, before marching from the Mall up Constitution Avenue to the U.S. Supreme Court building on Capitol Hill.

March for Life participants carry the banner past the front of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington Jan. 22. Tens of thousands took part in the annual event, which this year marked the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion across the nation. (CNS photo/Jonathan Ernst, Reuters)

March for Life participants carry the banner past the front of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington Jan. 22. Tens of thousands took part in the annual event, which this year marked the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion across the nation. (CNS photo/Jonathan Ernst, Reuters)

Early in the day, Pope Francis showed his support of the pro-life gathering by tweeting the theme: “Every Life is a Gift” with the hashtag #marchforlife.

By late morning, the temperature had reached about 40 degrees, warmer than many a previous march, and a music group opened the rally with the songs “To Be Loved” and “You’re Not Alone.”

Several members of Congress were in attendance, including U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas, who told Catholic News Service, “I am here to make my colleagues listen.” Huelskamp said life is a core issue in the public debate, and that Kansas was already at the forefront of human rights issues. “They were at the forefront of the slavery issue,” he said, and are now at the forefront of the life issue.

Levi Fox, a volunteer and a graduate of Liberty University, said, “Half of our generation is missing. Sixty million have been killed since Roe v. Wade, which is why I am dedicating my time to the March for Life.”

After the musical opening, Patrick Kelly, the chairman of the March for Life board, told the crowd they were attending “the largest and most important human rights rally in the world,” and noted the march is becoming “bigger and younger every year.”

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, opened the rally with prayer alongside priests, bishops and patriarchs of the Greek Orthodox, Orthodox American, Antiochean Orthodox and Serbian Orthodox churches, in a show of what the archbishop called “a sign of Christian unity.”

The archbishop called the marchers to not only “be joyful witnesses to the gospel of life,” but also to be loving and welcoming to those in dire circumstances.

Jeanne Monahan-Mancini, director of the March for Life, addressed the marchers, congratulating them for making a pilgrimage before focusing on this year’s theme.

“Every Life Is a Gift” emphasized that every life is a gift, regardless of a person’s difficulty or disability, and also was meant to emphasize that everyone has a call and a mission — and a role to play creating a culture of life.

A large congressional delegation in attendance emphasized the importance of the Health Care Conscience Rights Act before yielding the floor to a passionate and energetic address by Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, who said the defense of life was “the responsibility of every single person in America.” The conscience bill would implement a broad religious exemption and conscience protections for private employers who oppose the federal contraceptive mandate that is part of the Affordable Care Act.

Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, who followed Scott, told the crowd, “There have never been more pro-life lawmakers in Congress than we have today.”

In discussing the Knights of Columbus’ ultrasound initiative, which has just donated its 500th ultrasound machine, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said, “Women have a right to know the truth.”

In what may have been the most inspiring address of the day, Julia Johnson, a senior at Shanley Catholic High School in Fargo, North Dakota, said it was up to the youth of America to “end the scourge of abortion.”

As a member of “the pro-life generation,” she said she was proud to have come alongside “400 pro-life warriors,” referring to the school bringing its entire student body on the 1,300-mile journey to the march.

“Our generation has seen through the smokescreen of lies and secrets,” she added.

The president of Students for Life, Kristan Hawkins, discussed the gift of her son’s life despite a diagnosis of cystic fibrosis. Hawkins said, “I have personally witnessed the push in our culture to create perfect babies.” she said.

The remarks echoed those of the other speakers and marchers in declaring that “we are the pro-life generation.”

— By Nate Madden

 

 

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March for Life will mark another year under Roe v. Wade

January 5th, 2012 Posted in Featured, National News Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — One thing that always stands out in the annual marches and rallies in Washington and across the country marking the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing abortion is the crowd.

“People are always surprised by the number of pro-lifers that show up in Washington and in their own state capitals,” said Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee.

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