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Catholic bishops: New N Ireland abortion intervention is ‘gravely disquieting’

Ray Dumas via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Belfast, Northern Ireland, Jul 28, 2021 / 06:35 am (CNA).

The bishops said the British government had imposed an ‘unjust law.’

5 things you need to know about Blessed Stanley Rother

Blessed Stanley Rother during a carnival. Courtesy of Archdiocese of Oklahoma City Archives.

Denver Newsroom, Jul 28, 2021 / 06:00 am (CNA).

Not much is popularly known about Blessed Stanley Rother, the small town Oklahoma native who was declared blessed in September 2017 by the Catholic Church.

One of the newest blesseds, he became a priest and missionary at a parish in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala. He served the local Tz’utujil people at the time of the Guatemalan civil war, where he was on a hit list and eventually assassinated on July 28, 1981.

These are five things you need to know about this American on the path to sainthood who died 40 years ago today.

  1. Blessed Stanley Rother is the first American-born martyr. 

Aside from the North American Martyrs, such as Isaac Jogues, Blessed Stanley Rother is the only martyr associated with the United States. And he is the only martyr born in the United States. 

  1. He translated the New Testament into the Tz'utujil language. 

Stanley struggled academically in the seminary, especially with Latin, and eventually switched seminaries. Despite his seminary struggles, He learned both Spanish and Tz’utujil while in Guatemala where his desire to serve led him to learn the languages to connect with the people he was serving. 

  1. He was a jack of all trades.

Though not academically gifted, Blessed Stanley Rother possessed skills as an electrician, plumber, and farmer, which he used to aid his people by repairing machinery and helping them implement new techniques to better their farming. He also built many buildings for the community, such as a school, hospital, and a Catholic radio station. 

  1. Blessed Stanley Rother came back to his Guatemalan parish, saying “A shepherd cannot run from his flock.”

Blessed Stanley Rother faced danger to his own life in Guatemala, since his name was on a hit list. For safety, he returned to Oklahoma, where he said these words.  He went back to Guatemala for Holy Week to serve his parishioners despite the danger. Less than four months later, he was killed.

  1. Blessed Stanley Rother’s Tz’utujil parishioners have his heart. 

“At the parish, his presence is everywhere — his heart and his blood are in the church, the room that he was killed in has been converted into a chapel in his honor, the parochial school has been named after him. Blessed Rother is well-known all over town,” said Fr. Josh Mayer, a priest of the diocese of Gallup, following a visit to Guatemala in 2019 on Rother's feast day.

After Blessed Stanley Rother’s martyrdom his body was returned to Oklahoma for burial. His Guatemalan parishioners enshrined his heart, however, since they wished to keep a part of their beloved priest.

Fire engulfs 163-year-old Catholic church in Scotland

St. Simon’s, Partick, in Glasgow, Scotland. / Lirazelf via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Glasgow, Scotland, Jul 28, 2021 / 04:05 am (CNA).

One person was rescued after firefighters were called to the scene.

Boston auxiliary bishop reveals why he voted against Eucharistic document

Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Denver Newsroom, Jul 27, 2021 / 16:30 pm (CNA).

An auxiliary bishop of the Boston archdiocese on Sunday revealed why he voted against a motion of the U.S. bishops’ conference to begin drafting a teaching document on the Eucharist.

Bishop Mark O’Connell, an auxiliary bishop of Boston, said in a July 25 statement that he believed the Eucharistic document would lead to greater polarization. Bishop O’Connell published his statement in the bulletin of St. Theresa parish in North Reading, Massachusetts, as a response to a parishioner’s question about denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians. 

During the U.S. bishops’ virtual spring meeting in June, they debated a proposal to begin drafting a teaching document on the Eucharist. The proposed document outline covered the Church’s Eucharistic teaching on a number of points, including the need for Catholics to live out the Church’s teaching in public before and after receiving Communion. 

Some bishops critical of the proposal said it would be interpreted as a call to deny Communion to specific pro-abortion politicians, and would thus result in greater political polarization.

“I fear the whole process of writing the document will lead to more and more opportunity for some bishops and writers to further polarize our people,” Bishop O’Connell wrote. He said “it is not up to me (or you)” to deny anyone Holy Communion, adding that the decision rests with each individual bishop. 

In written responses to CNA’s questions after the publication of his letter, O’Connell said he sees the discussion of denial of Holy Communion to certain public figures as focusing too heavily on abortion, to the detriment of other issues.

The topic has been hotly debated in some quarters with the election of Joe Biden, a Catholic who supports abortion and attends Mass regularly, to the presidency. 

The June vote among the bishops on the Eucharistic document was conducted by secret ballot. The final results of the vote on whether to begin drafting the document - a motion which required only a simple majority to pass - was 168 bishops in favor, 55 opposed, and 6 abstentions. 

During the virtual meeting, several dozen bishops spoke explicitly for or against the proposal, but O’Connell is one of the few bishops to publicly reveal and explain his vote following the results. 

O’Connell acknowledged that although President Biden attends Mass regularly, some of his policy positions are at odds with Church teaching - most notably his support for taxpayer-funded abortion. 

However, he said, “I do not think a letter about the Eucharist is the correct place to address this issue.”

He noted that “there are more appropriate ways, and they are delineated in Canon Law.” He did not, in his letter, elaborate on what those more “appropriate ways” are. 

O’Connell told CNA he had in mind a bishop’s canonical authority to determine the pastoral response in his particular diocese. 

In his letter, Bishop O’Connell laid out several reasons why he voted against drafting the document in June. He said he believed the discussion ought to have taken place in person rather than during a virtual meeting. 

O’Connell elaborated to CNA that he did not feel comfortable expressing his concerns during the virtual meeting, and that he felt the discussion that took place was not adequate. 

While some bishops had moved to change the parliamentary rules of the meeting to allow for unlimited debate time on the motion of the Eucharistic document, that effort failed in a vote on Wednesday. Nevertheless, while debating the motion to draft the Eucharistic document, bishops were allowed to speak in their normal five-minute time slots long after the conference meeting was scheduled to wrap up on July 17.

“If we need to speak with each other about how individual bishops should approach public figures in their dioceses we should do that directly and in person and over time - not just make some vague reference to it in a document on the Eucharist,” Bishop O’Connell told CNA. 

“To me, putting this into the document distracts from anything else in the document and is a roundabout way of not having a serious discussion on this critical issue,” he said. 

A proposed outline of the Eucharistic document, made available to bishops in advance of the spring meeting, made no mention of public figures and Communion. However, the conference’s doctrine committee - charged with drafting the document - included a letter with the proposed outline, saying the document would include a “special call for those Catholics who are cultural, parochial, or political leaders to witness to the faith.”

O’Connell wrote in his letter that he has “no faith that the document finally produced would be read except for the section on Eucharistic Consistency and then, as with most things, through the lens of the politics of the media on either side of the question.”

The bishop did not lay out his own opinion of whether or not Biden should be admitted to Holy Communion, instead noting that “Canon Law leaves it to his individual bishop and pastor to speak with him and that is a private conversation.” 

Bishop O’Connell said he wished to refocus the conversation away from “who should be denied” the Eucharist, and toward “who should receive” the Eucharist. 

“As a priest and a bishop giving Holy Communion, I accept the humble ‘Amen’ of our Catholics as they approach the Altar and I leave judgement on specific individuals to the private conversations with their pastors,” he concluded. 

The Catholic Church teaches that the Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood of Christ, and as such must be received worthily. 

Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law states that those “who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”

The Catholic Church has always taught that abortion is a grave sin. In a 2004 memo to then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said that a politician consistently campaigning for and voting for permissive abortion laws constitutes formal cooperation with evil. Biden has publicly advocated for protection of abortion in law, including the codification of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision which mandated permissive abortion laws nationwide. 

The next canon, 916, exhorts the individual receiving Communion to be aware of his own worthiness, and to go to confession if conscious of grave sin.  

“I think we should further explore that Canon which applies to everyone including the President and take it out of politics,” Bishop O’Connell told CNA. 

“We are all unworthy to receive, let that unworthiness be the source of our unity,” he said. 

Other bishops, such as canon lawyer Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, have also emphasized the importance of personal discernment and examination of conscience on the part of all Catholics before they approach Holy Communion. 

“If they are conscious of grave sin, they shouldn't go to communion,” Paprocki told CNA in March. 

He noted that this is true not only for politicians, but for all Catholics. However, he added, a failure to consistently apply Canon 915 - that those persisting in “manifest grave sin” ought not be allowed Communion - causes confusion. It “gives rise to scandal, in that it leads to the impression that grave sins may not be so grave after all if there are no consequences for committing them,” he said. 

CNA asked O’Connell about the possibility of scandal in cases where a pro-abortion Catholic politician continually presents himself for Holy Communion, despite having been admonished by his bishop or pastor not to do so without first recanting his support for abortion. 

“Calling abortion ‘the’ preeminent issue instead of ‘a’ preeminent issue, allows other issues to go too far down the ladder - such as immigration, euthanasia, the rights of workers, priority for the poor, racism, torture,” O’Connell responded to CNA. The U.S. bishops’ conference has referred to abortion as a “preeminent priority,” due to the scale of abortions per year, the gravity of the evil and the effect of abortion on women and families.

“We need to preach the Magisterium to our people in its fullness and not be confined to one issue while acknowledging that abortion is indeed a key issue and a grave evil. There are politicians in both parties acting scandalously on many issues, but some look the other way because of their political alignment,” Bishop O’Connell said. 

The U.S. bishops’ doctrine committee will now lead the process of drafting the document, with input from other conference committees. A draft of the document could be ready to be debated, amended, and voted on by the bishops at their November meeting - which is currently planned to be held in-person in Baltimore, Maryland.

In November 2020, Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C. told a reporter that he would not deny pro-abortion politicians Holy Communion if they were to present themselves for the sacrament at Mass. The new bishop of Biden’s home diocese of Wilmington has not yet publicly spoken on this issue. 

Cardinal Gregory reportedly withdraws permission for Tridentine Mass at National Shrine

Cardinal Raymond Burke gives the final blessing during the Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage Mass in Rome on Oct. 25, 2014. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Washington D.C., Jul 27, 2021 / 16:10 pm (CNA).

Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington has reportedly withdrawn permission for a solemn pontifical Mass that was to be offered August 14 in D.C.

A pontifical Mass is celebrated by a bishop in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. The Mass, scheduled for the vigil of the Solemnity of the Assumption, was to be offered by at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

The Paulus Institute, a group dedicated to promoting the sacred liturgy, organized the event, which was to be broadcast by EWTN. On its Facebook page on July 27, the institute announced that permission for the Mass was rescinded by the Archbishop of Washington.

"Cardinal Wilton Gregory has withdrawn the permission he had given to Archbishop Thomas Gullickson to celebrate a Pontifical Solemn Mass on August 14," Donna Bethell of the Paulus Institute said in a statement to CNA on Tuesday. Cardinal Gregory, she said, "cited Traditionis custodes as the reason, without further specificity."

The Archdiocese of Washington did not immediately respond to a confirmation request by CNA on Tuesday afternoon.

According to Pope Francis’ July 16 apostolic letter Traditionis custodes (“Guardians of the liturgy”), it is a bishop’s “exclusive competence” to authorize the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass in his own diocese.

The Aug. 14 Mass at the shrine was to be celebrated by Archbishop Thomas Gullickson, titular archbishop of Bomarzo and retired papal nuncio to Switzerland.

In a July 16 letter to priests, Cardinal Gregory said he would “prayerfully reflect” on the pope’s letter “in the coming weeks,” in order “to ensure we understand fully the Holy Father's intentions and consider carefully how they are realized in the Archdiocese of Washington.”

"In the interim, I hereby grant the faculty to those who celebrate the Mass using the liturgical books issued before 1970 to continue to do so this weekend and in the days to come, until further guidance is forthcoming,” he stated.

The pope’s letter further stated that if groups wish to gather for the Traditional Latin Mass in a bishop’s diocese, he is to determine that they believe in the validity of the liturgical reform of Vatican II and the Church’s Magisterium. He is further “to designate one or more locations” where attendees of the Traditional Latin Mass may gather, but that the locations must not include “parochial churches.”

Although the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is located within the territorial bounds of the Archdiocese of Washington, it is not a diocesan church. Archbishop Wilton Gregory, as Washington archbishop, is ex officio chairman of the shrine’s board of directors.

This article was updated on July 27 with a statement from the Paulus Institute.

Catholic sisters dedicate lives to telling the elderly ‘You’ll never be alone’

Sr. Constance Veit, LSP / EWTN News In Depth

Washington D.C., Jul 27, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

Ahead of the inaugural World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly this past Sunday, the communications director for the Little Sisters of the Poor described how the order cares for the elderly as people of inherent dignity and worth.

Sister Constance Veit, the communications director for the Little Sisters of the Poor, told EWTN News In Depth on July 23 how she and her sisters live “to assure the elderly that they'll never be alone, they'll never be abandoned.”

“First of all, we say to them, each of us says to them, ‘I will always be with you,’” she explained. “But then, we hope that our presence will be a reminder to them that God is always with them. It doesn't stop with us, but our whole hope and our whole effort is to bring the presence of Christ to them.”

Sister Constance said she rejoiced over the first annual World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, instituted by Pope Francis on Sunday, the feast day of Jesus’ grandparents, Saints Joachim and Anne. She explained what the day meant for the elderly and for the Little Sisters, an order that runs homes worldwide for the elderly in need. 

She defined the Little Sisters as an “international congregation” with homes for the elderly worldwide “where we welcome them into our home and they become family to us.”

“To see the elderly being honored and recognized in this way is a very deep joy for me,” Sr. Constance said during an interview with EWTN News In Depth on July 23. “It’s something I've noticed about Pope Francis's pontificate from the beginning, how often he speaks about the elderly and how often he encourages young people to connect with their elders.”

She had the opportunity to thank the pope personally in 2015, when he visited the United States.

“I rehearsed all day what I was going to say to him, and what I said to him was to thank him for the attention that he’s bringing to the elderly,” she recalled.

She said that Pope Francis’ focus on the elderly touched her in a personal way.

“By my vocation, as the Little Sister of the Poor, I've given my life to the Church and to the elderly – specifically to the elderly – because that's our sole apostolate.” 

The Little Sisters of the Poor began in France in 1839, when the order’s founder, Saint Jeanne Jugan, offered her bed to an elderly woman who was blind and lying paralyzed in the cold. Today, the order serves in 30 countries, with 27 homes in the United States.

Because the sisters care for the low-income elderly, they trust in God for financial support. While many homes in the U.S. are eligible for Medicaid and might draw from other forms of income -  such as pensions from the residents - that still “usually only covers about half of our expenses,” Sr. Constance said.

“For the rest, we have a tradition since the beginning of the congregation of going out into the community and begging for alms,” she said. Today, this is mostly accomplished through the mail or online, she said, but there are still sisters “who go out on a regular basis out into the community to markets, to businesses to ask for gifts in kind.”

These donations, she said, are “really what sustains us.”  

According to Sr. Constance, God “always seems to come through” financially. But now, the sisters are facing a new challenge: the challenge “in the area of caregivers.”

“The ongoing challenge just, I would say pre-pandemic and let's hope post-pandemic that it comes to an end, there is a certain amount of ageism in society,” Sr. Constance cautioned. 

She noticed a shortage in healthcare workers and caregivers for the elderly.

“There are real shortages in the workforce, with geriatric-trained physicians, social workers, psychologists, nurses, all the way down to the level of nursing assistants, who are the real ones who do the bulk of the hands-on care in our homes,” she said.

While it’s a complex issue, she said that caregivers are “not recompensed enough” and “there aren't incentives to go into geriatrics.”

“It's not encouraged enough for people to choose eldercare as a profession, and so, increasingly, as the elderly population is growing and growing by leaps and bounds, it's going to become more of a crisis, the lack of care of trained caregivers,” she said.

But the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly gave her hope.

“For me, I'm using it as an opportunity to raise people's awareness of the gifts that the elderly can offer,” she said. 

Pope Francis “has three key words with the elderly: dream, memory, and prayer,” Sr. Constance said, as she summarized the gifts that the elderly can contribute. 

With “dream,” she said, “I think what he means by that is that the elderly still have a vision or a dream about what they wish for life, for society, for the world” and that they should “share that with young people, to inspire young people.”

And with memory, Sr. Constance stressed that the elderly can help young people “have a sense of history and memory” or “a memory to help them appreciate where we come from, how we got to where we are, the impact of events.”

The elderly can also change the world through prayer, she said.

“That is really beautiful because even an elderly person who's living alone, who might be housebound, who might be isolated, they might not have direct contact with younger people, but they can always offer their prayers for the needs of the world,” Sr. Constance said. 

“That's what we tell our residents, particularly those who are very infirm,” she said: “they still have the opportunity to offer their sufferings and their sacrifices for the needs of the world.” 

Catholic priest attacked with glass bottle while praying at cathedral in Scotland

St. Mary’s Catholic Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland. / Gastao at English Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Edinburgh, Scotland, Jul 27, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

‘The bottle broke on the ground and the man continued using it in his assault,’ the archdiocese said.

Coptic archbishop: Condemning persecution of non-Christians follows the example of Christ

Archbishop Angaelos / Courtesy photo.

Washington D.C., Jul 27, 2021 / 10:30 am (CNA).

Christians around the world must speak out against all religious persecution - including against the Muslim Uyghurs, the Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London told CNA during a recent summit on international religious freedom.

“As Christians who live as part of persecuted communities, we understand the pain of persecution, and if we cannot accept it for ourselves, we should never accept this for anyone else,” Archbishop Angaelos of London told CNA in a July 15 interview about global religious persecution.

The archbishop, who has become a leading voice on global religious persecution, was scheduled to address the recent 2021 International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington, D.C., but was unable to attend due to pandemic-related travel restrictions in the United Kingdom. He spoke on the phone with CNA about what he had planned to tell the summit. The July 13-15 event featured religious and civic leaders from around the world, as well as survivors of religious persecution.

It is “utterly reprehensible and unacceptable” that “we still many millions of people around the world deprived of their very basic right to believe or not to believe," he said, pointing to significant advances in other parts of society such as technological progress.

Last year, Angaelos signed a statement against China’s “potential genocide” of the Uyghurs, a largely-Muslim population in northwest China. More than 75 religious leaders signed the document – including two Asian cardinals, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, Burma, and Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo of Jakarta, Indonesia. The leaders called for prayer and solidarity with the Uyghurs, as well as “action to end these mass atrocities.”

Archbishop Angaelos explained his decision to join other voices in condemning China’s atrocities.

It was “Our Lord Himself Who, having seen the world’s suffering, then took flesh and came to resolve that suffering, and shared in our suffering, to raise us above that,” he said. Thus, “we too must look at the suffering of others and continue to do what we can to alleviate it.”

Christians in certain countries have suffered egregiously in recent years, the archbishop said, pointing to a “major exodus” of Christians from the Middle East and North Africa, as well as attacks on Christians in Nigeria, China, and Pakistan.

However, he emphasized, non-Christian communities have been targeted for persecution as well, such as the Uyghurs in China, the Rohingya Muslims in Burma, Baha’is in Iran, and Yezidis in Iraq.

Christians must speak out against persecution of any community, he said, not only as a matter of justice but also as a practical means of protecting all religious communities.

“Human rights violations are always a cascade,” he said. “There’s a start with one particular group, and then the group that is persecuting will move to the next, what they perceive to be a soft target, and the next, and the next.”

Egypt’s Coptic Christians have been targeted through church bombings and attacks on pilgrims in recent years - although the overall “scale” of persecution there has decreased during the recent pandemic, Archbishop Angaelos told CNA.

However, he noted, Coptic Christian women and girls have still been abducted and forcefully converted, and some Christian communities have experienced a deprivation of resources during the pandemic.

“We might be in a slightly better place, and yet, of course, we know that we have such volatile settings, it doesn’t take much to set things off and it doesn’t take much for communities to be demonized and vilified,” he said.

The Coptic Orthdox Church is an Oriental Orthodox Church which rejected the Council of Chalcedon of 451. It followers were historically considered monophysites – those who believe Christ has only one nature – by Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox.

Christians in the West can help the persecuted by spreading awareness of their plight, Archbishop Angaelos said.

“When things fall off the top of our newsfeeds and are no longer headlines, they are easily forgotten. And what we need to do is to keep the issues alive, even with awareness, with speaking, with keeping our eye on spots where there is violation against people,” he said.

Numbers of unaccompanied minors at border setting record

Dutch Catholic bishop: Traditionis custodes appears to be a ‘declaration of war’

Bishop Rob Mutsaerts, auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of ’s-Hertogenbosch, in the Netherlands. / Danny Gerrits - wikiportret.nl via Wikimedia (CC-BY-SA 4.0).

’s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, Jul 27, 2021 / 06:00 am (CNA).

Bishop Rob Mutsaerts said the pope’s intervention was ‘dictatorial’ and ‘unpastoral.’