Browsing News Entries
Posted on 07/28/2022 22:17 PM (EWTN News - US Catholic News)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 28, 2022 / 14:17 pm (CNA).
On the eve of Saturday’s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill on July 26 that would help victims of human trafficking and go after those who profit off their misery.
The legislation, titled the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2022, was sponsored by Republican Rep. Chris Smith from New Jersey and Democrat Rep. Karen Bass of California, and received support from both sides of the aisle in a 401-20 vote.
“Every human life is of infinite value—and we, as lawmakers, have a duty to protect the weakest and most vulnerable from harm,” Smith told CNA, following a July 26 statement.
“The enormous support in the House for this critical human rights and law enforcement legislation is a testament to a widespread consensus and underscores the absolute urgency for securing the funds needed to protect victims, prosecute perpetrators and prevent trafficking from occurring in the first place,” Smith said.
The bill’s key provisions include $1.1 billion in funding to ensure that each trafficking survivor obtains equitable care, reauthorization of Homeland Security’s Angel Watch Center to prevent international sex tourism travel by offenders, enhancement of trafficking education and awareness through programs, and $35 million in funding to provide housing opportunities for survivors.
The legislation would reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, also authored by Smith, which provides funding and education needed to combat human trafficking.
“This critical legislation will go a long way toward protecting so many vulnerable people from exploitation while providing tremendous support and resources to victims. It also reaffirms America’s leadership and commitment to fighting for an end to modern-day slavery,” said Smith.
When the legislation advances to the Senate, it is expected to have strong bipartisan support, according to the statement.
Smith told CNA in a June interview that advocacy for these victims who are most often women and children is part of protecting society’s weakest and most vulnerable. He referenced the Bible verse Matthew 25, which says “‘Whatever you did for the least of my brethren, you did for me.”
Posted on 07/28/2022 22:03 PM (EWTN News - US Catholic News)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 28, 2022 / 14:03 pm (CNA).
The Biden administration proposed a new rule this week that legal experts say, if finalized, would force hospitals and doctors to perform gender-transition surgeries and abortions.
The rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) revises Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to add “sexual orientation and gender identity” and “reproductive health care services” including “pregnancy termination" to existing “protections against discrimination on the basis of sex.”
The action would reverse Trump-era conscience protections which sought to allow medical professionals to opt out of performing procedures against their beliefs. It also would expand the Obama-era version of the rule to include abortion.
On Wednesday, the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) condemned the move in a public statement, saying that the proposed rule would “threaten [the Catholic Church’s] ability to carry out our healing ministries [and] mandate health care workers to perform life-altering surgeries to remove perfectly healthy body parts.”
In the statement, the bishops questioned the rule’s supposed religious liberty protections.
“Assurances that HHS will honor religious freedom laws offer little comfort when HHS is actively fighting court rulings that declared HHS violated religious freedom laws the last time they tried to impose such a mandate,” the statement read, adding, “We call on HHS to explicitly disavow any such intent.”
HHS did not respond to CNA’s request for comment on the USCCB’s statement.
Dr. Tim Millea, a retired orthopedic surgeon and chair of the Catholic Medical Association’s (CMA) Health Care Policy Committee, warned that the rule could prevent the Catholic medical professionals from practicing medicine.
“If finalized, the proposed rule would have a devastating impact on those who truly adhere to the principles of Catholic healthcare and biomedical ethics,” Millea said.
Luke Goodrich, vice president and senior counsel for Becket — a nonprofit law firm that is representing thousands of Christian medical professionals in ongoing cases against the rule — helped break down what this news would mean for Catholic hospitals and physicians morally opposed to performing such procedures.
What would the proposed rule do?
If finalized, Goodrich says that the updated rule could be used to compel hospitals and doctors receiving federal funds to conduct procedures many find unconscionable.
The rule states that it would prohibit hospitals and physicians who receive federal funding from refusing to provide procedures for “gender-affirming” purposes that might otherwise be used in routine circumstances.
Goodrich explained, “A hospital that would perform a hysterectomy for a woman with uterine cancer would also have to perform a hysterectomy for a woman who wants to transition to living as a man. If not, [it would be] guilty of sex discrimination and subject to multi-million-dollar penalties.”
The rule itself outlines this very scenario, he said. Hysterectomies are often sought by women transitioning to men to stop the menstrual cycle and prevent any likelihood of pregnancy.
Goodrich explained that the same regulation would apply to medical procedures used in abortions, such as dilation and curettage (D&C), a procedure that can be used to remove the body of an already deceased baby lost in a miscarriage. Under the rule, physicians who perform miscarriage treatment would also be forced to conduct D&Cs on a living baby in the womb, brutally ending his or her life through a painful method of abortion.
Recipients of federal funds who refuse to comply risk being charged with discrimination and face penalties through massive fines, Goodrich said.
Doesn’t the rule include religious exemptions?
HHS officials have stated that the rule will “refine” the process by which medical professionals raise religious freedom objections, but Goodrich says that the actual protection is weak. The Biden administration's proposed rule does not apply any blanket religious exemption to the rule, he said.
Instead, it includes what is called “notification of views regarding application of federal conscience and religious freedom laws,” Goodrich said, putting the burden on individual hospitals and doctors to notify HHS if they believe they are exempt.
That language, in turn, allows HHS to decide whether or not these individuals are religiously protected, Goodrich explained.
Can hospitals and doctors with religious objections be protected from providing procedures at odds with their faith?
As Goodrich explained, the most effective religious protection exists in two already decided court cases and the preliminary injunctions filed by Becket and others on behalf of two organizations: the Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA) and Catholic Health Association (CHA).
Two federal courts already have blocked the Biden administration from implementing a similar transgender mandate in 2021. The administration has since issued appeals in the two cases, though Goodrich expects the original rulings to be upheld.
“HHS is not allowed to enforce the statute to require our clients to perform gender transition or abortions,” Goodrich explained. Becket’s clients include thousands of religious medical professionals across the country who belong to the two associations.
If the regulation is made final, anyone who is a plaintiff in one of the cases already is protected under the permanent injunctions. The rule would apply, however, to doctors and hospitals across the country falling outside this protection.
What about the doctors and hospitals not protected by the courts?
For those who aren’t protected, the options are minimal, Goodrich says.
“Either they’d need to roll the dice and hope that the government doesn't come after them, or they would need to get relief from the Court," Goodrich said. He added that he wouldn’t advise any such religious organization to believe it would be safe to submit a religious exemption notification to HHS in the hopes that the agency would grant one, given how hard the Biden administration already has fought existing court protections.
Should medical providers worry?
Though the rule will not affect those protected by preliminary court injunctions, Goodrich emphasized that those not protected should be very concerned.
Goodrich said that the Biden administration is choosing to impose the rule even if it won’t hold up in court in the hopes “that others might just be cowed into submission [out of] fear of massive penalties.”
“It seems like HHS is willing to treat these court losses in the injunctions as the price to pay for trying to change the norms in the medical profession," he said.
The administration’s main goal lies beyond implementing a specific regulation, Goodrich said. “What they’re really trying to do is change the norms in the medical profession to include gender transition and abortion.”
The proposed rule is not yet published in the Federal Register, the official journal of the federal government of the United States that contains government agency rules, proposed rules, and public notices. Once it is published, the public will have 60 days to comment on the proposed rule. Comments may be submitted online at regulations.gov.
Posted on 07/28/2022 20:45 PM (EWTN News - US Catholic News)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 28, 2022 / 12:45 pm (CNA).
Ahead of a new poll showing overwhelming support for legalized abortion among Massachusetts residents, several cities in the state have taken steps to fine pro-life pregnancy centers if they engage in “deceptive” advertising practices.
Seventy-eight percent of respondents in a Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll released this week said abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
Forty-eight percent of respondents said abortion should be legal in all cases, while another 30% said it should be legal in most cases.
The poll results come on the heels of municipal ordinances enacted in Cambridge and Somerville, located north of Boston, to issue fines of up to $300 for every instance of “deceptive” advertising by local pregnancy clinics that do not perform abortions or refer clients to those that do perform them. Neither measure defines what constitutes “deceptive” advertising.
In Cambridge, the ordinance contains additional language that prohibits its city manager from issuing licenses or permits to pro-life pregnancy centers that wish to operate within city limits.
According to crisispregnancycentermap.com, a project by two professors at the University of Georgia, there are no pro-life pregnancy centers in either Somerville or Cambridge.
A third city in the state, Worcester, is drafting an ordinance modeled after those in Somerville and Cambridge, directed at so-called “limited services pregnancy centers.” Meanwhile, the city council in East Hampton, located in southwestern Massachusetts, is scheduled to consider a similar ordinance at its next meeting on Aug. 3.
Worcester’s ordinance could potentially impact two existing pro-life pregnancy centers — Problem Pregnancy and Clearway Clinic, both of which were vandalized in early July. Neither clinic responded to CNA’s request for comment.
Worcester city council member Kathleen Toomey told CNA Monday that she was one of five members to vote against initiating the ordinance. Six voted for it.
Toomey criticized what she considers unfair language in the order. She said the ordinance would unjustly and negatively impact pro-life pregnancy centers because of some city council members’ opposition to the pro-life mission. Toomey also questioned why the local Planned Parenthood shouldn’t be required to refer patients to pro-life pregnancy centers for counseling.
Federal lawsuit in Connecticut
The Massachusetts ordinances are similar to a state law Connecticut’s General Assembly passed in May 2021. That legislation led to a federal lawsuit filed by the religious freedom law firm Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) on behalf of the pro-life Care Net Pregnancy Resource Center in New London, Connecticut.
The Connecticut law gives the state’s attorney general the authority to bring court action against pro-life clinics that refuse to cease or change their “deceptive” advertising. According to a summary, “Among other things, the court can order the center to pay for and disseminate appropriate corrective advertising.”
The pending lawsuit says the state law unfairly singles out pro-life pregnancy centers and is unconstitutional because it aims “not only to inhibit a religious ministry from furthering its mission and message, but also to coerce religious speakers to speak messages about abortion that they conscientiously object to.”
The law’s “lack of definition of ‘pregnancy-related service,’ as well as the open-ended vagueness of the terms ‘deceptive’ and ‘omission,’ exacerbate the Act’s First Amendment problems because its vague terms grant unbridled discretion to Attorney General Tong to ban or punish speech the government opposes and to mandate speech the government supports,” the lawsuit states.
ADF Senior Counsel Mark Lippelmann told CNA that the Massachusetts ordinances likewise infringe on pro-life clinics’ freedom of speech.
He also took aim at the Cambridge ordinance which prohibits its city manager from issuing licenses or permits to pro-life pregnancy centers that wish to operate within city limits. That section, he said, provides “unequal treatment based on religious beliefs and speech.”
In Pennsylvania, the city of Pittsburgh also passed an ordinance July 19 aimed at the “deceptive” practices of pro-life pregnancy centers. That ordinance contains identical language to the section of the law in Somerville, Cambridge, and Connecticut, but it defines the term “deceptive advertising.”
In the ordinance, deceptive advertising is defined as “Disparaging the goods, services, or business of another by false or misleading representation of facts;” “Advertising goods or services with intent not to supply reasonably expectable public demand, unless the advertisement discloses a limitation of quantity;” or “Advertising goods or services with intent not to provide or offer them as advertised.”
Lippelmann said Pittsburgh’s definition “is still vague and gives city officials unbridled discretion to punish pregnancy centers for making true statements that the city doesn’t like.”
Patricia Stewart, executive director for Massachusetts Citizens for Life, told CNA that the organization is studying the constitutionality of the ordinances within the Bay State.
In 2021, Massachusetts pro-life pregnancy centers served almost 3,000 women, providing more than 1,500 pregnancy tests and more than 1,200 ultrasounds free of charge, she said.
These centers also distributed over $250,000 worth of free goods last year, including 20,000 packages of diapers and 1,000 packages of baby wipes, Stewart noted.
“They are an essential, yet often overlooked, part of the communities they serve,” she said. “Motivated purely by selfless love and respect for God's gift of life, they continue to assist desperate women in need and their unborn children.”
Posted on 07/28/2022 18:36 PM (EWTN News - World Catholic News)
Rome Newsroom, Jul 28, 2022 / 10:36 am (CNA).
“Glory for God, that alone! The rest does not matter!” These are the words of Mother Trinidad, foundress of “The Work of the Church.”
Posted on 07/28/2022 18:05 PM (EWTN News - US Catholic News)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 28, 2022 / 10:05 am (CNA).
Revisions to a handbook many U.S. news outlets consider “a bible” for grammar usage and style in news writing could signal a dramatic shift in the way the media reports on transgender issues.
The changes to the widely used Associated Press Stylebook adopt and promote the preferred language and ideology of the LGBTQ movement, which is sharply at odds with Catholic teaching on transgenderism.
As a result, a leading Catholic expert on gender issues warns that the changes disregard the inherent dignity of the human body and will have a major impact on society at large.
Abigail Favale, an academic expert in gender studies and feminist literary criticism who is a professor in the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame, says the style book takes philosophical stands on issues under the guise of being a writing guide.
“It feels like both catechesis and guidelines — there’s a sense in which the reader is being taught what language to use, as well as how to view the topic,” she told CNA.
The Associated Press, an international news agency based in New York, now defines the word “transgender” in its style book as “a person whose gender identity does not match their sex assigned at birth.”
The AP also instructs writers to avoid terms like “biological sex,” “male or female hormones” and “sex change,” and replace them with such substitutes as “sex assigned at birth,” specific hormone names, and “gender transition.” The guide also deems certain words “slurs.” Using a transgender person’s previous name, or “deadname,” for example, would fall under this category.
The AP additionally devotes an entire section in the revised style guide to transgender sports, warning writers not to “misgender or imply doubt” about transgender athletes, specifically males competing in women’s sports. For example, the guide bars writers from using the phrase “former men’s swimmer,” directing them to say that transgender players “are banned from playing on teams in line with their gender.”
Catholic teaching on gender
From a Catholic perspective, these revisions are significant, says Favale. A Catholic convert who approaches gender from a perspective informed by Church teaching, she is the author of “The Genesis of Gender: A Christian Theory” (Ignatius Press, 2022).
The Catholic Church teaches that a human person’s sex is inherent to his or her own dignity and soul. “By creating the human being man and woman, God gives personal dignity equally to the one and the other,” the Catechism of the Catholic Church states (No. 2393).
Pope Francis has spoken out repeatedly against gender ideology. “‘This ideology leads to educational programs and legislative enactments that promote a personal identity and emotional intimacy radically separated from the biological difference between male and female,’” he wrote in his Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, published in 2016, quoting from the final report of the 2015 Synod of Bishops.
“It needs to be emphasized that ‘biological sex and the socio-cultural role of sex (gender) can be distinguished but not separated,’” he wrote. “It is one thing to be understanding of human weakness and the complexities of life, and another to accept ideologies that attempt to sunder what are inseparable aspects of reality.”
In Favale’s view, the AP misrepresents conclusions about gender identity, even those made by secular scientists and medical professionals.
“The [AP] does not fairly represent the long-term outcomes of gender-affirmative care,” she said, adding that it presents procedures like sex-transition surgeries as conclusive when they remain heavily contested, not just in Catholic teaching but among secular scientists and academics.
“It’s presenting as settled and conclusive things that really aren’t,” Favale said.
The AP’s guidance, for example, unilaterally denounces using the term “groom” “without clearly stating it is untrue” in connection with LGBTQ people. The usage of “groom” to refer to the sexual grooming of children, such as in exposure to explicit and graphic sexual content, has been the target of intense backlash by LGBTQ activists in recent months.
AP claims that the word “falsely liken[s] LGBTQ people’s interactions with children” and LGBTQ education to child molestation.
By doing so, Favale said, the stylebook completely “forecloses the possibility that it could ever be true, only that the word ‘groom’ is always inaccurate when used to describe an LGBTQ person.”
The AP’s changes coincide with recent controversy surrounding updates in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary to the entries for “female” and “male.” The dictionary now includes “having a gender identity that is the opposite of male,” as a secondary definition of “female.” Likewise, the definition of “male” now includes “having a gender identity that is opposite of female.”
Recent social media posts drew attention to the changes, which Merriam-Webster made in 2020.
Posted on 07/28/2022 17:41 PM (EWTN News - US Catholic News)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 28, 2022 / 09:41 am (CNA).
Olympic track and field gold medalist Sydney McLaughlin, who broke her own world record in the 400-meter hurdles at the World Athletics Championships on July 23 in Oregon, is using her time in the limelight to share her Christian faith.
After smashing her previous record set a month ago, she gave all credit to God in a social media post that has since gone viral with over 400,000 likes.
Her 50.68-second finish was the fourth time this year that the 22-year-old New Jersey resident broke the world record in the event.
In an Instagram post following the win, McLaughlin quoted Hebrews 4:16, which describes God’s generosity in giving his people what they need: “So let us come BOLDLY to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”
In her Instagram caption, McLaughlin added that prayer and hard work “divinely culminated in 50.68 seconds.”
In an NBC Sports interview following her latest victory, McLaughlin was asked how she accomplished her goal. She said, “I’ll have to start off by saying all the glory to God.” She continued by saying that God gave her the strength to achieve this milestone.
McLaughlin is not Catholic, but she grew up in a devout Christian household and attended Union Catholic Regional High School in Scotch Plains, N.J. Among her biggest fans is Sister Percylee Hart, RSM, Union Catholic’s principal, who is as impressed by McLaughlin’s athletic feats, as she is with the way she uses her moment in the public eye to spread the Gospel.
Hart says she “couldn’t be more proud” of her former student, adding that McLaughlin “has stepped up to the call to be that instrument for faith on the biggest stage in the world.”
Hart told CNA on July 26: “Her spontaneity at the end of her victory when she praised God and gave all the glory to God translates to me that she is God’s instrument for being a power for good worldwide. We are all called to become all God calls us to be, and be good people, and Sydney models that, and affirms that with her messages about her faith.’’
She shares “the good news of salvation,” Hart told CNA in an interview after McLaughlin brought home two gold medals and a world record from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics held last year.
Posted on 07/27/2022 23:40 PM (EWTN News - US Catholic News)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 27, 2022 / 15:40 pm (CNA).
Over the last month, the nation has seen a historic wave of change following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, with the political debate over abortion now shifting to the states. Currently, the Kansas Legislature is debating the “Value Them Both” amendment, which would potentially regulate access to abortion within the state.
Prudence Robertson of EWTN’s Pro-Life Weekly recently spoke with Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City about his support for the proposed amendment. They also discussed the reaction to the overturning of Roe v. Wade among local pro-life advocates and Naumann’s thoughts on the role that Catholics have in defending the unborn.
“I think for many of us, it’s been like the Berlin Wall coming down,” Naumann said as he described what it felt like for pro-life Kansans following the Dobbs decision that overturned Roe. “But of course, there are others that have become convinced … that we can’t survive as a society without the ability to kill our own children.”
On Aug. 2, Kansans will vote on the pro-life Value Them Both Amendment. If approved, it would enable state lawmakers to pass legislation to regulate abortion. Currently, lawmakers are generally prohibited from restricting abortion following a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court ruling that the state’s constitution protects abortion.
One of the unfortunate side effects of the overturning of Roe has been the vandalization of Catholic churches and pro-life pregnancy centers across the nation as a form of protest — something that Naumann has seen occur within his state.
“It’s really tragic to see the viciousness and, unfortunately, we’ve had at least one episode of vandalism at one of our churches here,” Naumann said. “A lot of other stealing of signs and defacing of our signs and kind of organized efforts and what I would call almost bullying by the opponents of the amendment here in Kansas.”
Ahead of the vote, parish buildings and a statue of the Blessed Mother at the Church of the Ascension in Overland Park, Kan., were “extensively defaced” with red spray paint in an “overt act of hatred and incivility,” Naumann’s archdiocese previously confirmed.
On EWTN’s Pro-Life Weekly, Naumann said that the final decision regarding the Value Them Both Amendment ultimately comes down to voter turnout on Aug. 2.
Naumann also touched on the role that Catholics and the Church itself have in advocating for passage of the amendment — as well as the broader role of defending the unborn. You can watch the interview with Naumann in the video below.
“Our approach … is comprehensive and part of it is advocacy,” Naumann described. “Since [the U.S. Church’s] very inception, Archbishop [John] Carroll thought it was not appropriate for us to endorse candidates, politicians, or parties. And so the Church has chosen never to do that. I think that was a wise decision, that we don’t want to stake the Church’s reputation to any particular politician or party. But it’s not a vote on a politician. It’s a vote on an issue.”
For any Catholic who is looking for ways to participate in this ongoing movement, Naumann stressed the importance of an approach that highlights the dignity of human life, including that of the unborn.
“I think we've got to reach minds and change hearts by [education]. Not the way that our opponents try to do things with violence and with bullying, but by simply presenting people with the truth … And so I think we don’t have enemies. We just have pro-lifers who haven’t yet been converted. And I think we have to work on that.”
Posted on 07/27/2022 14:33 PM (EWTN News - World Catholic News)
Rome Newsroom, Jul 27, 2022 / 06:33 am (CNA).
After photos of a shirtless Italian priest celebrating Mass in the sea using an inflatable lounge chair went viral this week, the local Catholic archdiocese has called for liturgical decorum and respect.
Bishop Chairmen Condemn Harmful Regulations Forcing Gender Ideology and Potentially Abortion on Health Care Workers and Religious Hospitals
Posted on 07/27/2022 08:30 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON – On Monday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued proposed revisions to its regulations implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which would force health care workers to perform gender transition procedures, require health insurance issuers to cover them, and entertain a mandate to perform elective abortions. Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, issued the following statement in response:
“Catholics have been called to care for the sick since the earliest days of our faith. Today, the various agencies and social service ministries of the Catholic Church taken together are equivalent to the largest nonprofit health care provider in the country. We do this work in fulfillment of the direct command of Jesus Christ and in imitation of his divine ministry here on Earth.
“Catholic health care ministries serve everyone, no matter their race, sex, belief system, or any other characteristic. The same excellent care will be provided in a Catholic hospital to all patients, including patients who identify as transgender, whether it be for a broken bone or for cancer, but we cannot do what our faith forbids. We object to harmful procedures, not to patients.
“Sadly, Monday’s proposed regulations threaten our ability to carry out our healing ministries, and others’ to practice medicine. They mandate health care workers to perform life-altering surgeries to remove perfectly healthy body parts. Assurances that HHS will honor religious freedom laws offer little comfort when HHS is actively fighting court rulings that declared HHS violated religious freedom laws the last time they tried to impose such a mandate. This is a violation of religious freedom and bad medicine.
“The proposed regulations announce that HHS is also considering whether to force health care workers to perform abortions against their will or lose their jobs. We call on HHS to explicitly disavow any such intent.
“We will continue to review these proposed regulations and will file more thorough comments at the appropriate time.”
Further information about the USCCB's response to a series of harmful regulations from the current Administration impacting religious charities and individuals can be found at www.usccb.org/do-no-harm.
Posted on 07/27/2022 01:16 AM (EWTN News - World Catholic News)
Denver Newsroom, Jul 26, 2022 / 17:16 pm (CNA).
Hamel was killed at the church on July 26, 2016, by supporters of the Islamic State group as he finished saying Mass.