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Cross honoring soldiers who died in World War I deemed unconstitutional

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WASHINGTON — A 40-foot-tall cross memorializing soldiers who died in World War I that sits at a busy intersection in the Washington suburb of Bladensburg, Md., is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court ruled Oct. 18.

The monument “has the primary effect of endorsing religion and excessively entangles the government in religion,” said a 2-1 ruling from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals based in Richmond, Virginia.

The case was heard by a three-judge panel made up of Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory and Judges Stephanie D. Thacker and James A. Wynn Jr. Gregory, who dissented, said the government is not required by the First Amendment to “purge from the public sphere any reference to religion.”

A cross-shaped monument, a landmark in Bladensburg, Md., constructed in 1925 as a memorial to 49 Prince George’s County men lost in World War I, is pictured in this Oct. 19 photo. On Oct. 18 a federal appeals court declared the 40-foot-tall memorial unconstitutional in a 2-1 ruling that said the thousands of dollars in public funds for maintenance “has the primary effect of endorsing religion and excessively entangles the government in religion.” (CNS photo/Chaz Muth)

The First Liberty Institute said the decision “sets dangerous precedent by completely ignoring history.” The group, which supports religious freedom, represented the American Legion, the defendant in the case, and plans to appeal.

The ruling “threatens removal and destruction of veterans memorials across America,” Hiram Sasser, First Liberty’s deputy chief counsel, said in a statement.

Known as the Bladensburg Cross or the Peace Cross, the cement and marble memorial was erected by the Snyder-Farmer Post of the American Legion of Hyattsville, Maryland, to recall the 49 men of Prince George’s County who died in World War I. The cross, whose construction was funded by local families, was dedicated July 13, 1925.

The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission acquired the memorial from the American Legion in 1961. It is located at Maryland Route 450 and U.S. Route 1. The Washington Post reported that the state agency has spent about $117,000 to maintain and repair the memorial and has earmarked $100,000 for renovations.

The American Humanist Association, a Washington-based group that represents atheists and others, filed suit against the memorial because it is in the shape of a cross. It argued that having a religious symbol on government property violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

A District Court judge in 2015 said the cross did not have to be removed from public land, saying that although its Latin cross design “is undeniably a religious symbol,” it is “not a governmental endorsement of religion.”

Writing the majority opinion, the 4th Circuit’s Thacker said the lower court determined that a cross memorial maintained by local government and located on public property “does not run afoul of the Establishment Clause because the cross has a secular purpose … neither advances nor inhibits religion and it does not have the primary effect of endorsing religion. We disagree.”

“The Latin cross is the core symbol of Christianity,” the judge said. “And here it is 40 feet tall, prominently displayed in the center of one of the busiest intersections in Prince George’s County Maryland; and maintained with thousands of dollars in government funds. Therefore, we hold that the purported war memorial breaches ‘the wall of separation between church and state.”

In his dissent, Gregory said the Peace Cross “has always served as a war memorial, has been adorned with secular elements for its entire history,” and added that sits near other memorials in Veterans Memorial Park. “(Its) predominant use has been for Memorial Day celebrations,” he wrote.

The fact that in the memorial’s 90-year existence and 50-year government ownership, there has been no litigation until now “is a strong indication that the reasonable observers perceived its secular message,” he said.

A bronze tablet at the base of the monument quotes President Woodrow Wilson: “The right is more precious than the peace; we shall fight for the things we have always carried nearest our hearts; to such a task we dedicate ourselves.” Also at the base are the words, “Valor, Endurance, Courage, Devotion.” At the center of the cross is a gold star.

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Virginia priest asks forgiveness for having been KKK member

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ARLINGTON, Va. — Writing in the Arlington Catholic Herald, Father William Aitcheson, a priest of the Diocese of Arlington, asked forgiveness for having been a member of the Ku Klux Klan years ago as “an impressionable young man.”

Father William Aitcheson, 62, a priest of the Diocese of Arlington, Va., said Aug. 21 that 40 years ago, “as an impressionable young man,” he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and called his actions “despicable.” “I’m sorry. To anyone who has been subjected to racism or bigotry, I am sorry. I have no excuse, but I hope you will forgive me,” he wrote in the Arlington Catholic Herald, the diocesan newspaper. (CNS photo/courtesy Diocese of Arlington)

“As a young adult I was Catholic, but in no way practicing my faith,” Father Aitcheson, 62, wrote in an Aug. 21 op-ed in the diocesan newspaper. “The irony that I left an anti-Catholic hate group to rejoin the Catholic Church is not lost on me. It is a reminder of the radical transformation possible through Jesus Christ in his mercy.

“While 40 years have passed, I must say this: I’m sorry. To anyone who has been subjected to racism or bigotry, I am sorry. I have no excuse, but I hope you will forgive me,” he said.

In response Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge said in a statement: “While Father Aitcheson’s past with the Ku Klux Klan is sad and deeply troubling, I pray that in our current political and social climate his message will reach those who support hate and division, and inspire them to a conversion of heart.

“Our Lord is ready to help them begin a new journey, one where they will find peace, love, and mercy. The Catholic Church will walk with anyone to help bring them closer to God,” he said.

The diocese said “no accusations of racism or bigotry” have been directed against Father Aitcheson “throughout his time in the Diocese of Arlington.” His article “was written with the intention of telling his story of transformation,” it said. The diocese added that it had approved his request “to temporarily step away from public ministry, for the well-being of the church and parish community.”

Father Aitcheson’s article was published with the headline “Moving from hate to love with God’s grace” and also posted on the newspaper’s website, http://catholicherald.com/home.

     

 

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Bishop DiLorenzo of Richmond dies

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RICHMOND, Va. — Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of Richmond died at St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond late Aug. 17 from heart and kidney failure. He was 75.

A rite of reception was scheduled for the afternoon of Aug. 25, followed by visitation, at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Richmond. The diocese said the cathedral was to remain open with the body of Bishop DiLorenzo lying in repose through the night. A funeral Mass for the bishop was to be celebrated Aug. 25 followed by entombment in the Cathedral Crypt.

A native of Philadelphia, he was named the 12th bishop of Richmond by St. John Paul II March 31, 2004. Before he was appointed to the Virginia diocese, he was the bishop of Honolulu. He also was a former auxiliary bishop in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

“He was a faithful servant of the church for 49 years and a shepherd of the Diocese of Richmond for 13 years,” said Msgr. Mark Richard Lane, vicar general. He said he was announcing the bishop’s death “with great sadness.”

Pope Benedict XVI greets Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of Richmond, Va., during a meeting with U.S. bishops on their “ad limina” visits to the Vatican in this 2012, file photo. Bishop DiLorenzo died Aug. 17. He was 75. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

“Bishop DiLorenzo had a profound understanding and faith in the eucharistic sacrifice of our Lord, which sees past the Cross and into eternal life with our Savior,” the priest added. “With that same faith and hope, we look forward to our happy reunion.”

Bishop DiLorenzo was one of the first to call for peace during the chaos- and hate-filled weekend in Charlottesville, when white supremacists holding a rally clashed with counterprotesters Aug. 11 and 12. The events led to the deaths of three people and injuries to more than 19 others. His first statement Aug. 11 was followed by a second one the next day.

“In the last 24 hours, hatred and violence have been on display in the city of Charlottesville,” said Bishop DiLorenzo. “I earnestly pray for peace.”

In a statement about his passing, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington said that over the years he knew Bishop DiLorenzo,

“He has always been highly regarded for his firm grasp of the church’s moral teaching and as a pastoral leader. We share the bond of having been ordained priests of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and of serving as rector of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. He will be dearly missed.”

Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori remembered Bishop DiLorenzo as a “good moral theologian,” an “excellent seminary rector” and a bishop who “cheerfully did whatever the church asked of him.”

The archbishop had known Bishop DiLorenzo since the late 1980s, when Bishop DiLorenzo was named auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Scranton.

“He had a personality that was larger than life,” said Archbishop Lori, who had worked with Bishop DiLorenzo more closely in the past five years after being named archbishop of Baltimore. The Diocese of Richmond is part of the ecclesiatical province of Baltimore.

“He had a wonderful sense of humor,” Archbishop Lori said. “He was a realist who understood how to face difficult situations, but he always brought good things out of these situations.”

Archbishop Lori recalled that when he heard his friend’s health was not well earlier in August, he called him.

“He said, ‘You know, I looked over my medical record and found I had never had viral pneumonia before,’” Archbishop Lori recalled. “He said, ‘I thought I had better have that at this time in my life, and so that’s what I got.’”

Even a serious illness was taken in stride and “with a lot of humor,” Archbishop Lori said.

Born April 15, 1942, Francis Xavier DiLorenzo was the son of an Italian-American butcher and a homemaker, Samuel and Anita Porrino DiLorenzo. He was the oldest of three children born to the couple. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1968 and served in pastoral and educational assignments until 1971.

In Rome, he earned a licentiate in sacred theology in 1973 from the Academia Alphonsiana and a doctorate in sacred theology in 1975 from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Then-Father DiLorenzo served as chaplain and instructor in theology at St. Pius X High School, Pottstown, Pa., from 1975 to 1977. In 1977, he was appointed chaplain and associate professor of moral theology at Immaculata College.

In 1983, he became vice rector of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, becoming rector two years later. In 1988, he was named auxiliary bishop of Scranton.

He was appointed apostolic administrator of Honolulu Oct. 12, 1993, when Bishop Joseph A. Ferrario, head of the diocese since 1982, retired for health reasons. On Oct. 4 1994, he became the bishop of Honolulu.

At his Mass of installation to head the Richmond diocese, Bishop DiLorenzo told the 1,200 people in the congregation that he saw his role as servant leader in which he has to preach and teach the Gospel of Jesus.

“As a follower of Jesus and a bishop in his church, I should imitate his example and be a servant leader,” he said.

A moral theologian and a lover of history, Bishop DiLorenzo was known for his humility, his booming voice — he frequently broke into song — and his concern for those less fortunate, which he addressed especially through his interest in Catholic schools and lay Catholic formation.

During his tenure, vocations to the priesthood were a high priority. By the time of his death he had ordained 22 men to the priesthood. Enrollment in seminary had increased two-and-a-half-fold, from nine men enrolled in seminary to 31.

He is credited with saving Catholic schools in the Richmond diocese with the formation of the McMahon-Parater Foundation, whose mission is to strengthen schools by providing scholarships and financial assistance, as well as professional development.

In 2004, with now-retired Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington, he established the Virginia Catholic Conference to represent the bishops and their dioceses on public policy issues in the state capital of Richmond and with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington.

In 2014, he launched the first capital campaign for the Richmond diocese, “Living Our Mission,” which raised $105 million to strengthen parishes, support clergy, advance the mission of spreading the Gospel, and develop the future church.

     

Contributing to this story was George P. Matysek Jr. in Baltimore.

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Bishops decry ‘abhorrent acts of hatred,’ racism, white supremacy in Charlottesville, Va.

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — In the aftermath of a chaos- and hate-filled weekend in Virginia, Catholic bishops and groups throughout the nation called for peace after three people died and several were injured following clashes between pacifists, protesters and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia on Aug. 11 and 12.

White nationalists are met by counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 12 during a demonstration over a plan to remove the statue of a Confederate general from a city park. Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, condemned the violence and hatred and offered prayers for the family and loved ones of the person who was killed, and for all those who were injured. (CNS photo/Joshua Roberts, Reuters)

A 32-year-old paralegal Heather D. Heyer was killed when a car plowed into a group in Charlottesville on Saturday. Various news outlets have identified the driver as James Alex Fields, who allegedly told his mother he was attending a rally for President Donald Trump. Reports say the car allegedly driven by Fields plowed into a crowd during a white nationalist rally and a counter-rally on Aug. 12 in the afternoon.

The bishop from the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, Virginia was one of the first to call for peace following the violence in Charlottesville late on Aug. 11, which led to the events the following day.

On the evening of Aug. 11, The Associated Press and other news outlets reported a rally of hundreds of men and women, identified as white nationalists, carrying lit torches on the campus of the University of Virginia. Counter-protesters also were present during the rally and clashes were reported. The following day, at least 20 were injured and the mayor of Charlottesville confirmed Heyer’s death later that afternoon via Twitter after the car allegedly driven by Fields rammed into the crowd of marchers. Two Virginia State Police troopers also died when a helicopter they were in crashed while trying to help with the violent events on the ground.

“In the last 24 hours, hatred and violence have been on display in the city of Charlottesville,” said Richmond Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo in a statement on the afternoon of Aug. 12. “I earnestly pray for peace.”

Charlottesville is in Bishop DiLorenzo’s diocese.

Virginia’s governor declared a state of emergency Aug. 12 when violence erupted during the “Unite the Right” white nationalist protest against the removal of a statue of a Confederate general. But the trouble already had started the night before with the lit torches and chants of anti-Semitic slogans on the grounds of the University of Virginia.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, called the events “abhorrent acts of hatred,” in an Aug. 12 statement. He said they were an “attack on the unity of our nation.”

Other groups, including many faith groups, seeking to counter the white nationalist events showed up during both events. Authorities reported clashes at both instances.

“Only the light of Christ can quench the torches of hatred and violence. Let us pray for peace,” said Bishop DiLorenzo in his statement. “I pray that those men and women on both sides can talk and seek solutions to their differences respectfully.”

On Twitter, Jesuit Father James Martin denounced racism as a sin and said: “All Christians, all people of faith, should not only reject it, not only oppose it, but fight against it.”

Other bishops quickly followed denouncing the violence.

“May this shocking incident and display of evil ignite a commitment among all people to end the racism, violence, bigotry and hatred that we have seen too often in our nation and throughout the world,” said Bishop Martin D. Holley, of the Diocese of Memphis, Tennessee in an Aug. 13 statement. “Let us pray for the repose of the souls of those who died tragically, including the officers, and for physical and emotional healing for all who were injured. May ours become a nation of peace, harmony and justice for one and all.”

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia said racism was the “poison of the soul,” and said in a statement that it was the United States’ “original sin” and one that “never fully healed.”

He added that, “blending it with the Nazi salute, the relic of a regime that murdered millions, compounds the obscenity.”

On Aug. 13, Cardinal DiNardo, along with Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued a statement saying: “We stand against the evil of racism, white supremacy and neo-Nazism. We stand with our sisters and brothers united in the sacrifice of Jesus, by which love’s victory over every form of evil is assured.”

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Atlanta auxiliary named new bishop of Raleigh

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Pope Francis has named Atlanta Auxiliary Bishop Luis R. Zarama to head the Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina.

He succeeds Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, who last October was named to head the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, where he was installed Dec. 6.

Auxiliary Bishop Luis R. Zarama of Atlanta is seen in Nogales, Mexico, in this 2014 file photo. Pope Francis named the Atlanta auxiliary bishop to head the Diocese of Raleigh, N.C. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

Auxiliary Bishop Luis R. Zarama of Atlanta is seen in Nogales, Mexico, in this 2014 file photo. Pope Francis named the Atlanta auxiliary bishop to head the Diocese of Raleigh, N.C. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

Bishop Zarama, 58, has been an Atlanta auxiliary bishop since 2009. A native of Colombia, he was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 1993.

Bishop Zarama will be installed as Raleigh’s sixth bishop Aug. 29 at Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral.

“Pope Francis in today’s appointment has honored the Archdiocese of Atlanta with the gift of Bishop Luis R. Zarama to become the new bishop of Raleigh,” Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory said in a statement.

“The Holy Father has chosen well even though his decision takes a deeply beloved brother and friend from our midst,” he added.

Archbishop Gregory said he joined with Bishop-designate Bernard E. Shlesinger, named an auxiliary bishop for Atlanta in May, and all the clergy, religious and laypeople of the archdiocese “in assuring Bishop Zarama of our prayers and warmest best wishes.” Bishop-designate Shlesinger is a Raleigh diocesan priest.

“I am proud to call him a brother bishop and good friend,” Bishop Burbidge said of Bishop Zarama, whom he described as “a holy, faithful and joyful bishop.”

Bishop Zarama is “known and respected for his pastoral skills, administrative abilities, zeal and kindness,” Bishop Burbidge said. “I have assured Bishop Zarama that he will be truly blessed with the support of such good priests, consecrated religious, deacons, seminarians, colleagues and lay faithful in the Diocese of Raleigh.”

Luis Rafael Zarama was born in Pasto, Colombia, Nov. 28, 1958. He attended the Conciliar Seminary in Pasto, where he graduated from high school. He attended Marian University, also in Pasto, earning a degree in philosophy and theology. He studied at the Pontifical Xavierian University in Bogota, Colombia, where he earned a degree in canon law. He was a philosophy and theology professor at the Carmelites School, the Learning School and the Colombia Military School for 11 years.

He was a priest of the Archdiocese of Atlanta Nov. 27, 1993. Then-Father Zarama’s first assignment was as parochial vicar at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Atlanta. He also was a member of the Vocations Committee.

He was the first Hispanic priest in the archdiocese to be named pastor of St. Mark Catholic Church in Clarksville, Georgia, and St. Helena Mission in Clayton, Georgia.

He became an American citizen July 4, 2000. He was named vicar general of the archdiocese in April 2006. A year later Pope Benedict XVI named him a monsignor.

In 2008 he was appointed to serve as the judicial vicar for the Atlanta archdiocese’s Metropolitan Tribunal. In July 2009, Pope Benedict named him an auxiliary bishop of Atlanta. His episcopal ordination was Sept. 29, 2009.

The Diocese of Raleigh covers 32,000 square miles. Out of a total population of over 4.8 million, there are just over 231,000 Catholics.

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Candidates’ faith draws attention at vice presidential debate

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — In opening remarks during the vice presidential candidates’ debate Oct. 4, each candidate alluded to faith, but they didn’t return to how their beliefs influenced their political views until the last 10 minutes of the night. Read more »

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Pope names new bishops in Alaska and Virginia

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WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Roger L. Schwietz of Anchorage, Alaska, and appointed Bishop Paul D. Etienne of Cheyenne, Wyoming, to be his successor.

Pope Francis also accepted the resignation of Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington, Virginia, and named as his successor Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh, North Carolina.

The changes were announced in Washington Oct. 4 by Msgr. Walter Erbi, the charge d’affaires of the apostolic nunciature to the United States.

Both Archbishop Schwietz and Bishop Loverde are 76, Canon law requires bishops to submit their resignation to the pope at age 75.

Archbishop Schwietz has headed the Archdiocese of Anchorage since 2001. Bishop Loverde has headed the Arlington Diocese since 1999.

Bishop Burbidge, 59, will be installed as Arlington’s fourth bishop Dec. 6 at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington. The date for Archbishop Etienne’s installation as Anchorage’s fourth archbishop has not yet been announced.

Archbishop Etienne, 57, has headed the statewide Diocese of Cheyenne since December 2009.

Bishop Paul D. Etienne of Cheyenne, Wyo., concelebrates Mass in 2012 at the Vatican. . (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Bishop Paul D. Etienne of Cheyenne, Wyo., concelebrates Mass in 2012 at the Vatican. . (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

On a national level, he is chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions and has been president of Catholic Rural Life since 2013. He also is serving his second term as a member of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People.

Born June 15, 1959, in Tell City, Indiana, Paul Etienne attended the Pontifical North American College in Rome and he holds bachelor and licentiate of theology degrees from the Pontifical Gregorian University, also in Rome.

He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis in 1992. After ordination, he served in several Indianapolis parishes, and was director of vocations for the archdiocese.

Archbishop Schwietz, a native of St. Paul, Minn., was ordained an Oblate of Mary Immaculate priest in 1967. He was appointed bishop of Duluth, Minn., in 1989, and ordained a bishop Feb. 2, 1990. In 2000, he was appointed coadjutor archbishop of Anchorage, a year before succeeding Archbishop Francis T. Hurley.

The Archdiocese of Anchorage covers about 139,000 square miles. Out of a population of about 483,000, a little over 27,000, or 6 percent, are Catholic.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh, N.C., processes with other U.S. bishops after concelebrating Mass in 2012 at the Vatican. Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington, Virginia, and named Bishop Burbidge as his successor. (CNS photo/Alessia Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo)

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh, N.C., processes with other U.S. bishops after concelebrating Mass in 2012 at the Vatican. Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington, Virginia, and named Bishop Burbidge as his successor. (CNS photo/Alessia Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo)

Bishop Burbidge, a native of Philadelphia, has headed the Raleigh Diocese since 2006. Before that, he served his home archdiocese as auxiliary bishop for four years. He was ordained a bishop Sept. 5, 2002.

Born June 16, 1957, in Philadelphia. Michael Burbidge studied at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. He holds master’s degrees in theology, administration and education, and has a doctorate in education.

He was ordained a priest for the Philadelphia archdiocese in 1984. After ordination, he served as dean of formation and administrative assistant to the archbishop. He also served on the board of seminary admissions, the priests’ personnel board and on the priests’ council.

Bishop Loverde, who was born in Framingham, Mass., was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Norwich, Conn., in 1965. He was named an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Hartford, Conn., in 1988, and was ordained a bishop in April of that year. In November 1993, he was appointed bishop of the Diocese of Ogdensburg, New York, and was installed in January 1994. He served there until his appointment as bishop of Arlington.

The Diocese of Arlington covers 6,500 square miles in Northern Virginia. Out of a total a population of 3.2 million people, about 458,000 or 14 percent, are Catholic.

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Clinton’s VP pick, a Catholic, faces criticism for his stand on abortion

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Only a week after Donald Trump chose as his running mate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who was raised a Catholic and today is evangelical, Hillary Clinton chose as her vice presidential running mate, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, a practicing Catholic who has never lost an election, as her vice presidential running mate.

U.S. Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., is seen in Miami July 23. (CNS photo/Brian Snyder, Reuters)

U.S. Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., is seen in Miami July 23. (CNS photo/Brian Snyder, Reuters)

Kaine grew up in Kansas outside Kansas City, Mo., and attended the Jesuit-run Rockhurst High School there before taking time off from Harvard Law School to work in Honduras with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. He has been a member of St. Elizabeth Parish in Richmond, Va., for 30 years and an is an on and off choir member; he sang a solo verse of “Taste and See” at Mass there July 24.

Still, the vice presidential candidate has faced criticism from Catholics for his stances on issues such as abortion and the death penalty.

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, posted on Facebook July 23 that Kaine’s positions on abortion and same-sex marriage, among other issues, “are clearly contrary to well-established Catholic teachings; all of them have been opposed by Pope Francis as well.

“Senator Kaine has said, ‘My faith is central to everything I do.’ But apparently, and unfortunately, his faith isn’t central to his public, political life,” the bishop wrote.

Similarly, Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life, released a July 22 statement denouncing Kaine’s abortion stance, including his opposition to a bill that would have prevented abortions after 20 weeks, had it passed in the Senate.

“Senator Kaine is good at hiding behind his Catholic background,” Tobias said, “but no one should be fooled. His record and his openly declared legislative goals are as pro-abortion as they come.”

Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of Richmond, Kaine’s home diocese, issued a July 22 statement as well “regarding Catholics in public office” that reiterated the church’s pro-life stance though it did not mention Kaine by name.

“We always pray for our Catholic leaders that they make the right choice, act in the best judgment and in good conscience knowing the values and teachings of the Catholic Church,” the statement read.

Kaine’s platform has become more accepting of abortion since his time as governor of Virginia from 2006 to 2010, when he approved funding for crisis pregnancy centers and upheld abortion restrictions such as a 24-hour waiting period and parental notification. He followed this term with two years as chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Since his 2012 election to the Senate, he has had a perfect rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America, though he has supported the Hyde Amendment, which forbids federal funding for most abortions and continues to be included in many federal appropriations bills for abortions. He hasn’t yet commented on the DNC’s platform update, which says the party aims to repeal the Hyde Amendment.

“I have a traditional Catholic personal position, but I am very strongly supportive that women should make these decisions and government shouldn’t intrude,” Kaine told CNN earlier in July.

Kaine takes the same approach to the death penalty, though this issue seems to be notably more fraught for him personally.

During Kaine’s 2005 run for governor, his personal opposition to capital punishment came under fire, and his campaign produced an ad featuring Kaine telling the camera directly, “My faith teaches life is sacred. That’s why I personally oppose the death penalty, but I take my oath of office seriously, and I’ll enforce the death penalty … because that’s the law.”

Under Kaine, Virginia carried out 11 executions, delaying some of them and granting clemency once when the prisoner to be executed was deemed mentally unfit. He vetoed every attempt to expand the penalty’s use.

Wayne Turnage, chief of staff under then-Gov. Kaine, has told multiple media outlets that on execution days, Kaine would become quiet and somber, spending the evening executions in his office alone with an open phone line to the death chamber until an aide came to report the prisoner’s last words.

Larry Roberts, Kaine’s former chief counsel, told The New York Times June 24 that he was sure Kaine was praying through each execution.

Christopher Hale, executive director of nonpartisan coalition Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, told Catholic News Service July 25 that he personally knows Kaine and sees the strength of his faith.

“The big thing to know with Kaine is he is someone who does take his faith seriously,” Hale said in a phone interview. “This isn’t just some passing facade; it’s the core of who he is.”

“The Catholic worldview has really inspired his politics. That being said, he’s not always perfect on the issues.”

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Priest-son celebrates Justice Scalia’s funeral Mass at National Shrine

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Just as many pilgrims are passing through the Holy Door at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in this Year of Mercy, the casket bearing the body of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia entered through the door Feb. 20.

Family members follow the casket of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to a hearse waiting outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington after his Feb. 20 funeral Mass. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

Family members follow the casket of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to a hearse waiting outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington after his Feb. 20 funeral Mass. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

Father Paul Scalia, the justice’s son and the main celebrant and homilist at his father’s funeral Mass, said the fact that Scalia’s casket was carried through that door of mercy was a great blessing. In his homily, he emphasized that his father was a man of faith, dedicated to his family and service to his country, a man who relied on God’s mercy and was sustained through the sacraments.

“We give thanks that Jesus brought him to new life in baptism, nourished him with the Eucharist and healed him in the confessional,” Father Scalia said in his homily. “God blessed Dad with a deep Catholic faith, the conviction that Christ’s presence and power continue in the world today through his body, the church.”

Speaking of his father’s devotion to his Catholic faith, Father Scalia said, “He loved the clarity and coherence of the church’s teachings. He treasured the church’s ceremonies, especially the beauty of her ancient worship. He trusted the power of her sacraments as the means of salvation, as Christ working within him for his salvation.”

Father Scalia, a priest of the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, is episcopal vicar for clergy for the diocese, where the late justice lived with his family.

The elder Scalia died Feb. 13 of natural causes while in Texas for a hunting trip. He was 79. He is survived by his wife, Maureen, and by the couple’s nine children and 36 grandchildren.

The family then sat in a front section as the casket was placed at the base of the steps leading to the main altar.

At the Mass were the eight remaining members of the U.S. Supreme Court: Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts Jr. and Associate Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. Retired Justices John Paul Stevens and David H. Souter also were present.

Other dignitaries in attendance included: Vice President Joe Biden; U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch; former Vice President Dick Cheney; former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich; and Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Cruz, currently a candidate for president, once served as a Supreme Court clerk.

Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, welcomed Justice Scalia’s family members and friends and the dignitaries to the Mass and acknowledged the presence of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States, and Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde.

Other Catholic leaders at the Mass included Auxiliary Bishop Richard B. Higgins of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services; Msgr. Walter R. Rossi, rector of the national shrine; and John Garvey, president of The Catholic University of America. Nearly 100 priests concelebrated the Mass and were joined by about 36 deacons. The congregation of 3,300 people included Catholic laypeople and women and men religious, as well as guests of many different faiths.

Leonard Leo, a friend of Justice Scalia who is executive vice president of the Federalist Society, read the first reading from the Book of Wisdom, which opened with, “The souls of the just are in the hands of God.” Justice Thomas read the second reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, and Deacon Colin Davis, of the Diocese of Arlington, read the Gospel reading from St. Matthew.

The liturgy also reflected Scalia’s sense of humor, with both Cardinal Wuerl and Father Scalia joking about the family’s desire “for a simple parish family Mass” for the justice’s funeral, which ended up being held in the largest Catholic church in North America to accommodate the number of mourners.

Since his death, Father Scalia said in his homily, the justice had been praised by many for his intellect, his writings and speeches. “But more important to us and to him was that he was Dad. He was the father God gave us for the great adventure of family life,” Father Scalia said. “Sure, he forgot our names at times or mixed them up, but there were nine of us.”

On a serious note, he added, “He loved us, and sought to show that love, and sought to share the blessing of the faith he treasured.”

The priest also expressed thanks for his parents’ marriage, noting that “Jesus bestowed upon him 55 years of marriage to the woman he loved, a woman who could match him at every step and even hold him accountable.”

“God blessed Dad, as is well known, with a love for his country,” Father Scalia said. “He knew well what a close-run thing the founding of our nation was. And he saw in that founding, as did the founders themselves, a blessing. A blessing quickly lost when faith is banned from the public square, or when we refuse to bring it there.”

The priest said Scalia “understood that there is no conflict between loving God and loving one’s country, between one’s faith and one’s public service. Dad understood that the deeper he went in his Catholic faith, the better a citizen and a public servant he became.”

Later during the prayer of commendation, Father Scalia, prayed that God would grant the justice a merciful judgment.

As the congregation sang, “O God Beyond All Praising,” Scalia’s casket was carried down the shrine’’s center aisle, accompanied as he had been in life by his family, and then they left for his private burial ceremony.

     

Zimmermann is editor of the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington.

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