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European court rules Vatican cannot be sued in local courts over clerical abuse

Cupola of St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City / CNA

Strasbourg, France, Oct 12, 2021 / 07:15 am (CNA).

The ruling is not final.

‘They are killing Naples’: Catholic archbishop appeals for an end to mafia violence

Archbishop Domenico Battaglia of Naples, Italy. / Vincenzo Amoruso via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Rome Newsroom, Oct 12, 2021 / 06:17 am (CNA).

Archbishop Domenico Battaglia’s appeal followed a spate of deadly violence.

Papal envoy crowns Florida's Our Lady of La Leche

Cardinal Carlos Osoro Sierra of Madrid crowns the image of Our Lady of La Leche in St. Augustine, Florida. / St. Augustine Catholic/Fran Ruchalski.

St. Augustine, Fla., Oct 11, 2021 / 16:09 pm (CNA).

The image of Our Lady of La Leche was canonically crowned Sunday, during Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine in St. Augustine, Florida. 

“The Church that walks in St. Augustine is aware that a mother accompanies us in our mission: Our Lady of La Leche and Happy Delivery, whom we crown as queen and lady of all creation,” said Cardinal Carlos Osoro Sierra of Madrid, Spain, through a translator, at the Oct. 10 Mass. The cardinal served as an envoy for Pope Francis.

“I have been told, and I have noticed, these few days that I have been with you, the affection and devotion that you have for the Blessed Virgin Mary, our mother. I thank God because you are a people who have known how to fulfill what we have just heard in the Gospel and will have accepted with all its consequences the gift that Christ from the Cross, made through St. John to all men and women: ‘Behold, your mother.’ To accept such a great gift makes the people greater.”

Following the homily, the cardinal placed crowns, crafted of gold from Italy and Spain, on Mary and the child Jesus, depicted in the image of Our Lady of La Leche.  

“Today, this Diocese of St. Augustine also says the same words as the woman in the crowd, who listened to Jesus: “Blessed is the womb that carried you, and the breast at which you nursed”,” the cardinal said. 

“May she intercede for us today and make us feel her words in the depth of our hearts: “Do whatever he tells you,” as she said.”

Our Lady of La Leche is the fourth image in the United States to be canonically crowned. The first was Our Lady of Prompt Succor in New Orleans, in 1895. St. Pius X crowned Our Lady of Mount Carmel of New York in Manhattan in 1904, and Benedict XVI crowned Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in 2013. 

The practice of canonical coronations dates to the 17th century. It is a formal crowning of an image of Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, or St. Joseph, in the name of the Holy Father. A crowning honors an image’s universal importance for the Catholic Church. 

The image of Our Lady of La Leche has roots in Bethlehem, but Spanish settlers from Madrid brought the image to what is now Florida in 1577. 

Since then, a National Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche was constructed— the first Marian shrine in U.S. history, according to Bishop Felipe Estévez of St. Augustine. The shrine has become a popular pilgrimage site, especially for women hoping to become pregnant or praying for a safe delivery. 

Her full title is Nuestra Señora de La Leche y Buen Parto, which is Spanish for “Our Lady of Milk and Happy Delivery.” 

The image of Our Lady of La Leche is unique in that it features the Blessed Virgin Mary breastfeeding the infant Jesus. The National Shrine commissioned a new image of Our Lady of La Leche in honor of the coronation. The image was sculpted in northern Italy.

“It is kind of a Nativity of the Lord, because it is the child, recently born, in the hands of Mary,” said Bishop Estévez. “The image is Mary embracing the child— Emmanuel— and nursing him in his vulnerability...Her eyes are gazing on him, almost an invitation to us to always have our gaze on Jesus.”

Bishop Estévez said the image can be especially powerful within the pro-life movement. 

“To look at this devotion, and to nurture this devotion, is to affirm the dignity of the human person, the protection of human life, the welcoming of the child, the dignity of the woman,” he said. “It wraps up such good news, such good values that our culture is in desperate need of.”

Who is Carlo Acutis? 10 things you should know about him

Blessed Carlo Acutis / Diocese of Assisi

Denver Newsroom, Oct 11, 2021 / 14:10 pm (CNA).

Who was Blessed Carlo Acutis? Here's what you need to know.

US bishops welcome increased refugee admissions cap

U.S. Customs and Border Protection headquarters / Hiram Rios/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Oct 11, 2021 / 13:23 pm (CNA).

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops announced Monday their positive reaction to the news that the refugee cap will increase to 125,000 for the coming fiscal year.

“The last few years have had a devastating impact on refugee resettlement, all while we witness the greatest forced migration crises in decades,” said an Oct. 11 statement from Bishop Mario Dorsonville, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington and chairman of the USCCB’s migration committee. 

“We commend the Administration for seeking to reassert American leadership in this area, and we look forward to continued action in support of this goal. We also urge Congress to provide the resources necessary to not only rebuild the Refugee Admissions Program but sustain it for the next four decades and beyond,” added Bishop Dorsonville. 

On Oct. 8, the Biden administration issued a Presidential Determination for Fiscal Year 2022, raising the refugee cap to 125,000. This figure is the highest level since 1993. Bishop Dorsonville had previously advocated for this figure. The new cap means that up to 125,000 refugees can be admitted to the United States through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, although that figure may not be met.

“Whether fleeing war, natural disaster, or persecution, the positive contributions of refugees to our society have been well documented,” said Bishop Dorsonville. “First and foremost, however, we recognize them as vulnerable members of the same human family to which we ourselves belong.”

The bishop stated that Catholics in particular are called in a “special way” to “this ministry of welcome and encounter, through which we express the fullness of the Church’s universality.”

“The bishops of the United States pledge our continued commitment to this work, and we praise the many Catholic organizations, communities, and persons dedicated to what Pope Francis has referred to as ‘a new “frontier” for mission, a privileged opportunity to proclaim Jesus Christ and the Gospel message at home, and to bear concrete witness to the Christian faith in a spirit of charity,’” he said. 

Previously, President Joe Biden had set the refugee cap at 62,500 for Fiscal Year 2021. In April of 2021, advocates for refugees complained that despite promises to increase the number of refugees, the process had been “effectively halted.” 

According to the International Rescue Committee, a nonprofit that assists refugees, only 2,050 refugees had been admitted to the United States by late April 2021. 

In February 2021, Biden pledged to raise the refugee cap to 62,500 - nearly four times the current cap of 15,000. He did not, however, make a Presidential Determination for this figure until early May, much to the frustration of resettlement organizations. A total of 11,411 refugees were admitted to the United States in FY2021.

Denver cathedral vandalized with anti-Catholic slogans 

Vandalism on a door of the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver, Colo., Oct. 10, 2021. / Photo courtesy of Fr. Samuel Morehead.

Denver, Colo., Oct 11, 2021 / 12:18 pm (CNA).

The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Denver was spray-painted with anti-Catholic slogans on Sunday, the latest in a series of vandalism incidents against Catholic buildings in Colorado. 

Photos shared by local news reporters show slogans such as “Satan Lives Here,” “White Supremacists,” and “Child Rapists, LOL” written in bright red spray paint on the outside of the cathedral building, sidewalks, and on the base of a statue of St. John Paul II, who visited and stayed at the cathedral in 1993. 

Father Samuel Morehead, the cathedral rector, said he was alerted about the vandalism by parishioners as they arrived to prepare for Sunday Mass. 

Father Morehead told CNA that an eyewitness saw a person spray-painting the church around 7:45 am, in daylight, Oct. 10. Early indications are of a lone woman who carried out the attack, though police have not shared any information about persons of interest.

Father Morehead said police street cameras caught images of the person in the act, though he does not know if the footage is clear enough to make an identification. 

The graffiti has since been cleaned off with the help of parishioners and other volunteers. The paint has been power-washed off the main doors, Father Morehead said, and a specialist is currently working to remove the paint from the cathedral’s stonework. 

Father Morehead said the assailant seems to have some “deep personal wounds and grievances” against God and the Church, but “it remains to be seen” what the true motive for the crime was. 

A spokesperson for Denver Police confirmed to CBS4 that the department is investigating the incident. 

Archdiocese of Denver spokesman Mark Haas said since February 2020, at least 25 parishes or ministry locations in northern Colorado are known to have been the target of vandalism, property destruction, or theft.

“It continues to be troubling to see the increased reports of vandalism at Catholic churches, both across the county and in our archdiocese, and it is certainly unfortunate when our parishes are targeted simply because of our beliefs,” Haas said in a statement to CNA. 

“We continue to pray for the conversion of those who carry out acts of desecration against our churches, statues, and religious symbols.”

The cathedral sustained serious damage in mid-2020 amid racially charged protests in downtown Denver. The church building and rectory were spray painted with the slogans "Pedofiles" [sic], "God is dead," "There is no God," along with anti-police, anarchist, and anti-religion phrases and symbols. 

Gates surrounding the cathedral were damaged in those protests, tear gas that was fired to disperse the protests leaked into the rectory, and the outer doors to the cathedral sustained permanent damage. Three bags of rocks were collected from the parking lot, but the cathedral's most valuable windows were unharmed. Other windows on the cathedral's campus were shattered.  

In June of this year, Holy Ghost Catholic Church, also located in downtown Denver, was tagged with red graffiti in a possible reference to the ongoing controversy over former Catholic-run schools for Indigenous in Canada, though the exact motive remains unclear. 

In late August, the predominantly African-American parish of Curé d'Ars, located in north Denver, was broken into and robbed. All the church's vessels used for Mass were stolen from the vestry, which the thieves accessed by kicking in a wooden door. The thieves also cut all the copper piping off of the building's furnaces downstairs and from a stairwell on the building's exterior, flooding the church basement with water.

The church’s tabernacle, containing the Eucharist, was stolen from the sanctuary. Some of the stolen items have since been recovered, but the Eucharist remains missing. 

Last month, Sacred Heart of Mary Parish in nearby Boulder, Colorado, which is in the Denver archdiocese, was tagged with numerous spray-painted slogans including “Jesus [Loves] Abortion,” “Bans off our bodies,” “No Wire Hangers Ever,” and a symbol combining an “A” signifying “anarchy” and the traditional symbol for “female.” 

The parish had a display of 4,000 small white crosses in its front lawn, each one representing a baby aborted each day in the United States. The vandals trampled and desecrated at least half of the crosses. 

St. Louis Parish in nearby Louisville, Colorado was vandalized with similar pro-abortion graffiti recently. 

There have been at least 95 reported incidents of vandalism of Catholic churches across the United States since May 2020, according to a report by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty.

Incidents include arson, the destruction of statues, and the defacement of church buildings and gravestones with swastikas and anti-Catholic language.

How does U.S. abortion law compare to those in European countries?

The sixth national Walk for Life in Zagreb, Croatia, May 29, 2021. / Tomislav Bagarić

Rome Newsroom, Oct 11, 2021 / 11:24 am (CNA).

Abortion laws around the world are likely to be cited when the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in December about the constitutionality of a Mississippi state law banning most abortions after the first 15 weeks of pregnancy.

That is because the drafters of the 2018 Mississippi law expressly compared U.S. regulations with those of other countries.

In their first legislative finding justifying the law, they wrote:  “The United States is one of only seven nations in the world that permits nontherapeutic or elective abortion-on-demand after the 20th week of gestation.” 

“In fact, fully 75% of all nations do not permit abortion after 12 weeks’ gestation, except (in most instances) to save the life and to preserve the physical health of the mother.”

The Mississippi law effectively challenges Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that swept away many federal and state abortion restrictions. That Supreme Court decision was accompanied by another, less well-known ruling, Doe. v. Bolton, permitting abortion on demand after “viability” for reasons related to the mother’s “health," which encompasses the mother's mental health.

Oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that could potentially overturn Roe v. Wade, are due to begin at the Supreme Court on Dec. 1.

In a Supreme Court brief, Mississippi officials urged the court to recognize that the U.S. law is out of step with those of other Western nations. 

“The United States finds itself in the company of China and North Korea as some of the only countries that permit elective abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation,” they wrote.

“That is not progress. The time has come to recognize as much.”

Lawyers for the abortion providers challenging the Mississippi law also cited foreign laws in their brief, but in support of their contention that the U.S. is not an outlier. 

They wrote in a footnote that “in countries with legal traditions and democratic values most comparable to the United States, such as Great Britain and Canada, abortion is legal until at least viability.” 

“And many countries that have limits earlier in pregnancy continue to permit abortion for broad social and health reasons after that point, functionally allowing abortion later in pregnancy and making their laws entirely different from the [Mississippi] Ban.”

So, how does U.S. law match up to those of other countries?

A direct comparison is complicated by the fact that abortion restrictions and legal exceptions vary widely from country to country. In addition, many countries that had strict restrictions, such as Ireland, have liberalized their laws in recent years.

However, the Washington Post’s fact-checkers concluded in 2017 that “the data back up the claim” that the U.S. is one of only seven countries that allow elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. (PolitiFact also determined that the statement was true.)

The other six countries are North Korea, China, Vietnam, Canada, Singapore, and the Netherlands.

The Washington Post drew on a 2014 report by the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute, which studied the abortion laws of 198 countries, independent states, and semi-autonomous regions with more than a million people. (The United Nations officially recognizes 193 sovereign states.)

“Of these 198 countries, independent states, and regions worldwide, 59 allow abortion without restriction as to reason, otherwise known as elective abortion or abortion on demand,” the Charlotte Lozier Institute report found.

“The remaining 139 countries require some reason to obtain an abortion ranging from most restrictive (to save the life of the mother or completely prohibited) to least restrictive (socioeconomic grounds) with various reasons in between (e.g., physical health, mental health).”

The institute’s study concluded that “Upholding laws restricting abortion on demand after 20 weeks would situate the United States closer to the international mainstream, instead of leaving it as an outlying country with ultra-permissive abortion policies.”

A study released by the Charlotte Lozier Institute in July found that 47 out of 50 European countries, independent states, and regions analyzed either do not allow elective abortion or limit elective abortion to 15 weeks or earlier.

“No European nation allows elective abortion through all nine months of pregnancy, as is effectively permitted in several U.S. states, and America is one of only a small handful of nations, along with China and North Korea, to permit any sort of late-term elective abortion,” concluded the report’s author, Angelina B. Nguyen.

The closest analog to the U.S. law in Europe is arguably the Netherlands, a country of 17 million people known for pioneering controversial practices such as child euthanasia

The country’s Termination of Pregnancy Act permits abortions up to the 24th week of pregnancy, “the point at which the fetus becomes viable outside the mother’s womb.” 

Abortions after 24 weeks are permitted in certain circumstances, such as when the unborn child has an untreatable “disorder” or is deemed likely to suffer after its birth.

The latest Charlotte Lozier Institute study said that the Netherlands was one of just three European countries to permit elective abortion after 15 weeks, alongside Sweden (up to 18 weeks) and Iceland (22 weeks.)

In Germany, abortion for any reason is permitted in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. But the law requires counseling at a state-approved center and a three-day waiting period before the procedure can take place. 

The European Union’s most populous country, with 83 million people, Germany permits late-term abortions in cases of rape or if the physical or psychological health of the mother is considered at risk of serious harm.

Family News Service
Family News Service

Next door in France, a country of 63 million people, abortion on demand is allowed up to 12 weeks.

Abortions in the second and third trimesters are permitted only if two physicians certify that it is necessary to save the life of the mother, to prevent grave and permanent harm to her health, or the child has a severe and incurable illness.

In  Italy, abortion is legal for any reason within the first 90 days (almost 13 weeks) of pregnancy, and afterward for certain reasons with the referral of a physician.

The practice was legalized in 1978, despite opposition from Pope Paul VI, who encouraged doctors to exercise conscientious objection.

The RU486 abortion drug was legalized in Italy in 2009, and in 2010 standards were set which require women to be hospitalized for three days during its administration. It cannot be prescribed beyond the seventh week of pregnancy.

The United Kingdom, a country of 67 million people with cultural ties to the U.S., permits abortion for socio-economic reasons up to 24 weeks, but up to birth if “there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.”

The U.K.’s Abortion Act 1967 initially permitted abortion up to 28 weeks. The law paved the way for other countries to legalize the practice in the ensuing years, including Canada in 1969 and the U.S. in 1973.

Ireland, a country of almost five million people neighboring the U.K., was until recently one of the few European nations recognizing the equal right to life of the pregnant woman and the unborn child. 

But the pro-life Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland, introduced in 1983, was scrapped after a referendum in 2018. 

The Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018 permits abortions in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and later in cases of fatal fetal abnormality or where the woman’s life or health are deemed to be at risk.

The only remaining sizeable European country with pro-life laws is Poland. The nation of 38 million people, strongly influenced by the Catholic Church, permits abortion only in cases of rape or incest, or risk to the mother’s life. 

The country’s top court ruled in October 2020 that abortion on the grounds of fetal abnormality was unconstitutional, prompting nationwide protests. Demonstrators disrupted Masses while holding signs supporting abortion, left graffiti on Church property, vandalized statues of Polish pope St. John Paul II, and chanted slogans at clergy.  

Several small European states also have pro-life laws, including Malta, Liechtenstein, Andorra, and of course Vatican City.

Gibraltar, a British overseas territory, and San Marino, a microstate within Italy, both recently voted to legalize abortion. 

This report was updated on Oct. 13, 2021, with a reference to the Charlotte Lozier Institute’s July 2021 study and Oct. 14, 2021, with a map.

Meet the volunteer friar firefighters started by St. Maximilian Kolbe

The volunteer friar firefighters started by St. Maximilian Kolbe / EWTN News In Depth

Niepokalanow, Oct 11, 2021 / 10:00 am (CNA).

A group of firefighters from Poland looks just like any other firefighting brigade, with heavy uniforms, hard helmets, and a red truck ready to go at a moment’s notice. But these men are something else, too: friars dedicated to God.

New JPII Institute president: My stance on Humanae vitae was misinterpreted

Msgr. Philippe Bordeyne, president of the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences in Rome. / Arnaldo Casali.

Rome, Italy, Oct 11, 2021 / 04:00 am (CNA).

Msgr. Philippe Bordeyne officially took office on Sept. 22.

U.S. Bishops’ Migration Chairman Welcomes Refugee Admissions Target of 125,000

WASHINGTON - On October 8, the Biden Administration announced a Fiscal Year 2022 Presidential Determination (PD) of 125,000 refugees for resettlement through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). This is the highest PD since 1993 and follows four consecutive years of historic lows. During the previous fiscal year, which ended on September 30, the U.S. resettled only 11,411 refugees out of a possible 62,500, the lowest number in the program’s history.

The USRAP was created in 1980, and it has received strong bipartisan support ever since. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is one of nine national resettlement agencies that partners with the U.S. government in this effort. The Catholic Church’s involvement in refugee resettlement stems from the Church’s social teaching on the common good and is consistent with its longstanding role in welcoming newcomers and supporting integration.

Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

“The last few years have had a devastating impact on refugee resettlement, all while we witness the greatest forced migration crises in decades. We commend the Administration for seeking to reassert American leadership in this area, and we look forward to continued action in support of this goal. We also urge Congress to provide the resources necessary to not only rebuild the Refugee Admissions Program but sustain it for the next four decades and beyond.

“Whether fleeing war, natural disaster, or persecution, the positive contributions of refugees to our society have been well documented. First and foremost, however, we recognize them as vulnerable members of the same human family to which we ourselves belong.

“In a special way, we as Catholics are called to this ministry of welcome and encounter, through which we express the fullness of the Church’s universality. The bishops of the United States pledge our continued commitment to this work, and we praise the many Catholic organizations, communities, and persons dedicated to what Pope Francis has referred to as ‘a new “frontier” for mission, a privileged opportunity to proclaim Jesus Christ and the Gospel message at home, and to bear concrete witness to the Christian faith in a spirit of charity.’”

In May, Bishop Dorsonville called 125,000 refugee admissions “a figure more consistent with our values and capabilities as a nation.” For more information about refugees, the USRAP, and the Church’s work on this issue, please visit the Justice for Immigrants website.

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi 
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