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Anglicans recognize Pope as ‘father of the Church in the West,’ says archbishop of Canterbury

Pope Francis and the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, at the Vatican on Oct. 5, 2021. / Vatican Media

Canterbury, England, Aug 5, 2022 / 09:26 am (CNA).

In ecumenical discussions at the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury, England, Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, has said that most Anglicans recognize the pope as “the father of the Church in the West.”

How a village of 7 residents mobilized hundreds to restore altarpiece of its small church

Altarpiece of St. Euphemia Church in Terradillos de Sedano (Burgos, Spain) / Cultural Association of Santa Eufemia de Terradillos

Terradillos de Sedano, Aug 5, 2022 / 04:00 am (CNA).

A crowdfunding campaign has raised the necessary funds to restore a 16th-century altarpiece at a church in the small village of Terradillos de Sedano, Spain.

Hostility toward Christian values is growing in European institutions, Polish politician and philosopher says

Flag of the European Union / Alexey Larionov / Unsplash (CC0)

Budapest, Hungary, Aug 5, 2022 / 01:04 am (CNA).

The European Commission’s 2022 Rule of Law report has once again singled out Poland and Hungary, accusing both countries of not addressing “serious concerns,” including breaches in their judiciary and media systems. The report identified stark differences between the EU and the two countries. 

Father Jorge Torres Appointed Executive Director of Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations for U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

WASHINGTON - Father Jorge Torres a priest of the Diocese of Orlando, has been appointed as the next Executive Director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV). Father Torres has served in the Secretariat for Evangelization and Catechesis in primary support of the Eucharistic Revival initiative since June 2021. Father Michael J.K. Fuller, USCCB general secretary, made the appointment, which takes effect January 1, 2023.

The CCLV office assists bishops on issues concerning the life and ministry of bishops, as well as in promoting, supporting, and educating about the Church’s pastoral needs and concerns for the priesthood, diaconate, and consecrated life.

Father Torres holds an undergraduate degree from St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami and a Master’s in Divinity from St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida. Ordained to the priesthood in 2005, he has served as a parochial vicar and a pastor. Father Torres’ priestly ministry includes service as chaplain for campus ministry at the University of Central Florida, vocation director of the Diocese of Orlando, and secretary of the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors.

Father Luke Ballman, a priest of the Archdiocese of Atlanta has been executive director of CCLV since December 2019. Both he, and Father Dan Hanley, the present associate director will be leaving their roles at the end of the year. Father Ballman will be returning to archdiocesan responsibilities, and Father Hanley, a priest of the Diocese of Arlington, will work in the formation leadership program at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD.

“Father Torres understands and supports priestly ministry and religious life, vocations, and cultural diversity in our Church. He also brings to these areas a timely enthusiasm for the bishops’ national Eucharistic Revival,” said Father Fuller. “I am grateful to both Father Ballman and Father Hanley for their tireless service to the bishops over these last several years, and to Father Torres for his continued service to the Conference in his new role. I also want to express my gratitude to Archbishop Hartmayer, Bishop Burbidge, and Bishop Noonan for allowing these three fine priests to serve the greater Church in this way.”

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

U.S. Bishops’ Pro-Life Chairman Responds to Executive Order Facilitating Abortion

WASHINGTON - On Wednesday, the President of the United States signed an executive order facilitating abortion, the second such action from President Biden in response to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement in response: 

“Even preceding the Dobbs decision, my brother bishops and I have implored the nation to stand with moms in need, and work together to protect and support women and children. Continued promotion of abortion takes lives and irreparably harms vulnerable pregnant mothers, their families, and society. It is the wrong direction to take at a moment when we should be working to support women and to build up a culture of life. I continue to call on the President and all our elected officials to increase support and care to mothers and babies, rather than facilitate the destruction of defenseless, voiceless human beings. Blessed Virgin Mary, patroness of our nation, intercede for us as we advocate to protect human life and work toward solutions that will help every mother and child flourish.”

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

Public Masses suspended at Chicago's Shrine of Christ the King

A community Carols and Candles event at the Shrine of Christ the King Sovereign Priest in Chicago, Ill., Dec. 16, 2017. / Marc Monaghan via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Denver Newsroom, Aug 4, 2022 / 17:19 pm (CNA).

A prominent Chicago church that is home to a Traditional Latin Mass religious institute announced the end of all public Masses, as of last Sunday.

“As of August 1, 2022 the celebration of public Masses is suspended,” said a message on the website of the Shrine of Christ the King. 

The shrine, in the Woodlawn neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, forms the U.S. headquarters of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. The institute is a society of apostolic life that celebrates the traditional form of the Roman rite, also known as the Traditional Latin Mass.

Members of the nonprofit community group Save the Shrine told the Chicago Sun-Times they are concerned the changes will endanger the church, a historic landmark.

One member of the group, Jennifer Blackman, attributed the change to a ban from the Chicago Archdiocese under new guidelines for the celebration of the Latin Mass.

Susan Thomas, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Chicago, rejected the claim. She said the church sent a July 31 letter to the archdiocese saying it would stop the Masses.

“They chose to discontinue the Masses and sent the archdiocese a letter stating that they would stop offering Mass and other sacraments at the shrine,” Thomas told the Chicago Sun-Times. 

“The shrine had the option to continue Latin Mass under the guidelines and decided not to,” Thomas said. “It is a false statement that we have a citywide Latin Mass ban. That’s simply untrue. Latin Mass is offered in the archdiocese.”

Among the guidelines of the Archdiocese of Chicago are a prohibition of the celebration of Traditional Latin Masses on the first Sunday of every month, Christmas, the Triduum, Easter Sunday, and Pentecost.

While Catholic communities that celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass are present only at a small percentage of Catholic churches, their numbers grew after Pope Benedict XVI announced broad permission for clergy to say the traditional Latin Mass in a 2007 motu proprio. 

Pope Francis, however, allowed local bishops to limit significantly celebrations of the traditional Latin Mass in his 2021 motu proprio Traditionis custodes. Various dioceses’ implementations of the new policy have caused serious concern among some Catholic congregations dedicated to the traditional Latin Mass.

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago announced his new directive implementing Traditionis custodes in December 2021. Under the directive, which took effect on Jan. 25, 2022, Cupich curtailed the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass and other sacraments that use liturgical books that predate Vatican II. Priests, deacons, and ordained ministers who wish to use the Old Rite must submit their requests to the cardinal in writing and agree to abide by the new norms.

CNA sought comment from the Christ the King shrine and the archdiocese but did not receive a response by publication.

In October 2015 the shrine suffered a devastating fire that collapsed much of its roof and its choir loft. The church windows and much of the interior furnishings were destroyed, though no one was injured. The tabernacle and an 18th-century statue of the Infant of Prague were rescued from the blaze.

The shrine church was built in 1927 as St. Clara Church and later renamed for St. Gelasius. 

After the fire, the Chicago Archdiocese secured a demolition permit but deeded the church site to the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest after an outpouring of financial support for its reconstruction.

Parishioners and the Coalition to Save the Shrine raised more than $3 million to rebuild the church.

Shortly after the fire, Mike Medina, then-president of the Woodlawn Residents Association, said that “From organizing block clean-up days and hosting meetings with city and civic leaders, to promoting local businesses and teaching hockey to neighborhood youth, the Shrine of Christ the King has been a tireless advocate for Woodlawn and serves our neighborhood with a giving and gracious heart. We stand together with the Shrine!”

The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest was founded in the west coast Central African country of Gabon in 1990. Its members are known as canons and wear blue choir dress to signify the community’s consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Its motherhouse and international seminary are located in Gricigliano, Italy, in the Archdiocese of Florence.

“Recognizing the importance of a deep harmony between faith, liturgy, life, and the power of beauty in attracting the human senses to the things above, an integral part of the Institute's charism is the use of the traditional Latin Liturgy of 1962 for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the other sacraments,” the institute says on its international website.

It describes the “essential elements” of its spirituality as “great care for a solemn liturgy, complete fidelity to the doctrine of the Church and the Holy Father, and awareness of the central role of Grace, especially Charity.”

Another Chicago-based religious community that celebrates the Traditional Latin Mass, the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, has modified its practices under the Chicago archbishop’s new rules.

Kansas abortion vote: Why did the pro-life amendment fail?

A poll worker helps a voter cast their ballot in the Kansas Primary Election at Merriam Christian Church on August 02, 2022 in Merriam, Kansas. / Kyle Rivas/Getty Images.

Washington D.C., Aug 4, 2022 / 16:18 pm (CNA).

The reason a pro-life amendment — known as the “Value Them Both” amendment — recently failed in Kansas boils down to misinformation and messaging, according to a Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America spokeswoman.

“I think ultimately it came down to chaos, confusion, and lies ruling the day,” Mallory Carroll, the vice president of communications for the national pro-life organization, told CNA. “The pro-abortion movement was very successful at claiming that this vote was going to be a vote to stop all abortion in Kansas and put women’s lives at risk.”

The referendum represented the first major statewide vote on abortion following the overturning of Roe v. Wade. With over 95% of ballots counted as of Thursday afternoon, Kansas voters rejected the pro-life amendment by about 59% to 41% during their state’s primary election.

The amendment, if approved, would have reversed the Kansas Supreme Court’s 2019 ruling that the state’s constitution protects a woman’s right to abortion. The ruling threatens existing Kansas laws, including a general ban on abortion 22 weeks or later into pregnancy. 

Currently, state lawmakers are, in most cases, prohibited from passing any type of abortion restriction. The amendment would have enabled state lawmakers to pass legislation to regulate or restrict abortion.

Ahead of the vote, SBA Pro-Life America invested $1.4 million in a Kansas voter education campaign which included digital ads, TV, radio, and mail as well as visits to more than 250,000 Kansas homes.

Carroll called the advertising from pro-abortion activists “incredibly deceptive and ultimately successful.”

“A lot of people worked really hard, we contacted a lot of voters, but the message that the pro-abortion movement was pushing, that this was going to lead to women literally dying, was more effective and salient,” Carroll said. “It really raises the stakes for upcoming elections and underscores how important it is that, both as a pro-life movement and individual pro-life candidates, need to be really clear about what it is that we stand for.”

That includes, she said, “that we are supporting protections for unborn children and women, and that we're not advocating for the criminalization of women or anything that's going to put moms in jeopardy.”

After the amendment’s failure, Carroll refused to be discouraged and looked to the future instead.

“We just won a 50-year-long battle to ensure that Americans could use the democratic process to make their voices heard and as disappointing as this decision was in Kansas, it is the people using the tools left to us by our founders and we must carry on,” she said, referring to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. “This is just the first of many opportunities that voters are going to have to make their voices heard on the life issue.”

She added: “We have to stay engaged and keep up the spirit of perseverance that has gotten us through these last five decades under Roe.” 

The vote has broad implications that extend past Kansas’ borders. It could indicate how other states will vote on abortion after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization — which overturned Roe and left abortion policy up to the states — and suggest where Americans stand on abortion ahead of the midterm elections in November.

Carroll said that the vote’s impact on the midterm elections “really depends on what pro-life candidates take away from this.”

“Our sincere hope is that pro-life candidates will remember the responsibility that they have to go on offense to explain to voters what they believe and to define their political opponents on this issue,” she said. “Otherwise they will be defined by the pro-abortion people.”

Life is a winning issue, she stressed.

“Life is always morally right, it still is politically smart, it just requires action on the part of candidates,” she said. 

Carroll expressed concern about one area: the overall idea that there could be more ballot initiatives. 

This is because, she said, this “hasn't been historically an area that the pro-life movement has focused on” as a way to effect change.

“We haven't spent a ton of time working on ballot initiatives, so if this is an area where the pro-abortion movement thinks now that they can win, we could see more of them,” she said, “and we're going to have to up our game and ability to engage in these types of races.”

Britney Spears’ wedding: Who can get married in a Catholic church?

Britney Spears (L) and Sam Asghari arrive at the premiere of Sony Pictures' "Once Upon A Time ... In Hollywood" at the Chinese Theatre on July 22, 2019 in Hollywood, California. The couple wed in June 2022. / Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Aug 4, 2022 / 14:30 pm (CNA).

American pop star Britney Spears is expressing frustration after reportedly being unable to get married at a Catholic church. But there are four main requirements to have a Catholic church wedding, a priest tells CNA.

In a since-deleted Instagram post, Spears reportedly shared a photo Wednesday of another couple’s wedding inside St. Monica Catholic Church in Santa Monica, near Los Angeles.

“This is where I originally wanted to get married during COVID!!!! I wanted to go every Sunday,” she wrote, commenting on the church’s beauty. “[T]hey said it was temporarily shut down due to COVID!!!! Then 2 years later when I wanted to get married there they said I had to be catholic and go through TEST!!! Isn't church supposed to be open to all???”

A church representative later told TMZ that there was no record of Spears requesting to be married there. Her post came after she celebrated her wedding with actor Sam Asghari in June.

In response to Spears’ story, Father Matthew P. Schneider, LC, who teaches theology at Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, North Carolina, outlined four main requirements for a wedding to take place in a Catholic church.

Either the bride or groom must be Catholic and free from any impediments, such as marriage to another person. Both the bride and groom must “intend what the Church does,” including recognizing marriage as something permanent, exclusive, and open to life. 

They must also plan to raise their children Catholic.

Schneider stressed that the Catholic Church welcomes all, even with these requirements. 

“The Catholic Church is open to all, but for many to have a wedding in a Catholic church requires becoming Catholic & agreeing to Catholic teaching,” he tweeted. “Many other religions would be similar: for example, I doubt a synagogue would hold a wedding if neither spouse was Jewish.”

He spoke more specifically with CNA about Spears’ faith.

“It is not clear from public information what Britney Spears' canonical status is,” he said, referring to her status with the Catholic Church. “She was baptized a Baptist; then in 2021 she stated she was Catholic, but now she says she can't get married in a Catholic church because she is not Catholic.”

In 2021, Spears announced in a since-deleted Instagram post that she is Catholic and attends Mass. Spears has repeatedly posted prayers, including the Hail Mary, on social media. Her Instagram bio reminds people to “Pray Every Day.” 

While Spears was raised Baptist, several of her family members are practicing Catholics, including her mother, Lynne Spears, her sister, Jamie Lynn, and her nieces, Maddie Aldridge and Ivey Joan Watson, CNA previously reported.

“Is she a catechumen, formally received into the Catholic Church, or still a Baptist with some interest in Catholicism?” Schneider asked.

He also referenced Spears’ two previous marriages, adding that, “to be married in a Catholic church, she would need to get annulments on those."

Rep. Jackie Walorski, killed in car accident, leaves behind pro-life legacy 

Then-Indiana Congressional candidate Jackie Walorski speaks during the Republican National Convention on Aug, 28, 2012, in Tampa, Florida. / Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Aug 4, 2022 / 12:02 pm (CNA).

The tragic death of Republican Rep. Jackie Walorski and her two staff members, Emma Thomson and Zachery Potts, in a car accident Wednesday afternoon has left many in the nation’s capital mourning the loss of the Indiana congresswoman, known for her kindness and service to her country. 

But to pro-life leaders, Walorski leaves behind a legacy of devotion to the unborn, evident in both her record as a lawmaker and personal efforts to help the most vulnerable. 

Pro-life groups including Live Action, Students for Life of America, and Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America issued statements paying tribute to Walorski’s fight against abortion. Indiana Rep. Jim Banks remembered Walorski as “a devout Christian [and] passionate advocate for life.” 

“Jackie [was] selfless, humble, and compassionate,” he wrote on Twitter, “a dear friend and one of the greatest public servants I’ve ever known.” 

Walorski had a strong pro-life voting record, receiving an A+ rating from Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. She consistently opposed Democrat attempts to spend federal money on abortions both at home and abroad and sought to protect the conscience rights of health care providers.

Notably, Walorski advocated on behalf of dignity for victims of abortion. She was well-known for introducing The Dignity for Aborted Children Act (HR 620) with Banks in 2019 to require the dignified and proper burial of aborted children, following the horrific discovery of over 2,200 aborted baby remains on the property of notorious Indiana abortionist Ulrich Klopfer. 

“Our society cannot tolerate such callous disregard for the sanctity of human life,” Walorski said in a statement introducing the bill, “It is critical that we pass this bill to protect the dignity of abortion victims by ensuring their remains are treated with the respect they deserve.”

Walorski visited a pro-life pregnancy center called Bella Vita in Knox, Indiana, on Aug. 2, the day before she died.

Walorski represented Indiana's 2nd congressional district from 2013 until the time of her death. In this session of Congress, Walorski co-sponsored pro-life legislation including the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2021, and the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act.

She also served on the House Committee on Ways and Means and was the ranking member for both the Subcommittee on Worker and Family Support and House Ethics Committee. 

Walorski, who was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana, worked in journalism, and served as a missionary to impoverished children in Romania before beginning her political career. 

Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, released a statement on Thursday. “We mourn the loss of our good friend, Congresswoman Jackie Walorski, who was indefatigable in standing up for the most vulnerable among us,” he wrote. “The passion, courage, and love she brought to her work on behalf of unborn babies and their mothers set an example that will not be forgotten.” 

Nashville Dominican Sisters support Hillbilly Thomists on country music’s most famous stage

The Hillbilly Thomists perform on Aug. 1, 2022, at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. The bluegrass band, made up of Dominican friars, was the opening act of a concert hosted by the Knights of Columbus in conjunction with the fraternal order's annual convention. / Courtesy of Matthew Barrick/Knights of Columbus

Nashville, Tenn., Aug 4, 2022 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

The famous Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tennessee, has hosted stars such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton, and many more.

But it wasn’t until Aug. 1 that a band of wisecracking, bluegrass-playing, Spirit-filled Dominican friars had played the legendary venue.

The Hillbilly Thomists claimed that historic distinction with a rousing, humorous performance as the opening act of a concert hosted by the Knights of Columbus, whose annual convention was held Aug. 1-4 at the nearby Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center.

The friars’ show was made all the more special by the presence of dozens of their religious sisters, from the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia in Nashville, who clapped, sang, and laughed along with the band.

“It was a little bit unfair having a home crowd,” joked Father Joseph Martin Hagan, the band’s drummer. 

One of the sisters present, Sister Anne Catherine Burleigh, told CNA after the performance that the friars rose to the challenge of playing on such a prestigious stage.

“We know a lot of our brothers and they’re wonderful priests, and it’s fun to see them bring out their study of theology in this very fun way,” she said.

The band’s name explained

Proceeds from the band’s album sales, donations, and merchandise sales support the formation of friars at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., where the Hillbilly Thomists first came together.

“We’re Catholic priests who play Americana music. We started doing it in-house as a way that the family tries to relax. Really it’s a form of recreation, storytelling … it’s fun,” band member Father Timothy Danaher told CNA in an interview backstage before the show.

Members of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia enjoying a performance of The Hillbilly Thomists at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville on Aug. 1, 2022. Joe Bukuras/CNA
Members of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia enjoying a performance of The Hillbilly Thomists at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville on Aug. 1, 2022. Joe Bukuras/CNA

The band drew inspiration for its name from a letter written by Catholic novelist Flannery O’Connor. “Everyone who’s read Wise Blood thinks I’m a hillbilly nihilist, whereas ... I’m a hillbilly Thomist,” she wrote, referring to her love of St. Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican.

“So, we, too, are lovers of St. Thomas Aquinas," Father Peter Gautsch, one of the band’s founding members, recently told the National Catholic Register, "and given her sort of Southern sensibilities, [and] the Southern character of some of our music, being from the bluegrass country tradition … it seemed a perfect name for our group."

The band’s third album, “Holy Ghost Power,” came out in July. The title track captures the humor and evangelistic themes the friars’ fans love so much. A sample verse:

You got to tear down the wall and read Saint Paul

Burn like fire after the fall

You got to change things up if you've heard the word

You've got to die inside and serve the bird

“It was such a joy to hear them be able to share the fruits of their contemplation with everyone who's ready to receive it,” Dominican Sister Josemaria Pence told CNA after the band’s six-song set.

“They've given their life to the Lord and it's a joyful life,” she said. “So it's wonderful to see the joy that they can share with other people."