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John Feister of Glenmary Challenge wins St. Francis de Sales Award

IMAGE: CNS photo/Cassie Magnotta, courtesy John Feister

By Chaz Muth

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- John Feister, assistant editor of Glenmary Challenge, is the recipient of the 2020 St. Francis de Sales Award from the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada.

The award -- named for the patron saint of writers and journalists -- recognizes "outstanding contributions to Catholic journalism" and is the highest honor given by the CPA.

The announcement was made July 2, via a pre-recorded video released as a premiere on social media during the 2020 Catholic Media Conference, which was held virtually using digital technology due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's an honor to receive this prestigious award," Feister said in his video acceptance message.

He spent much of the message thanking family, friends and colleagues who had supported him over the decades in his craft in print, broadcast and digital media.

"In a media environment where ongoing change becomes our new normal, there is someone who has for more than a quarter century led the charge to make the media organizations he has worked with better and has collaborated with and shown his colleagues in the Catholic press ways forward," said Mark Lombard, the 2019 winner of the St. Francis de Sales Award, in his nomination of Feister.

"From his work as editor of both St. Anthony Messenger magazine and the 200,000+ circulation Catholic Update newsletter, founding AmericanCatholic.org, and guiding audiobook and online efforts including 'Saint of the Day' at Franciscan Media and leading online video efforts at Glenmary Home Missioners, co-authoring seven books and launching American Catholic Radio," Lombard said, "John Feister has demonstrated his commitment to effectively reach and faithfully impact Catholics throughout the world."

Feister was one of four finalists for the 2020 St. Francis de Sales Award, often nicknamed the Franny.

The other three finalists were Michael F. Flach of the Arlington Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia; George Matysek Jr. of Catholic Review Media in the Baltimore Archdiocese; and Garry O'Sullivan of The Irish Catholic.

Though Feister expressed his gratitude for receiving the award, he said his achievements were not solely dependent on him.

"It is the people you work with who make your career," Feister said. "Along with loving family, they make you who you are. Yes, you have to cooperate, you have to shine, you have to pour your heart and mind into anything you expect to be excellent. But, we all share the award."

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Follow Muth on Twitter: @chazmaniandevyl

 

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Archives reveal abuse allegations against founder of Schonstatt movement

IMAGE: CNS photo/KNA

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Documents uncovered from the recently opened archives of the pontificate of Pope Pius XII revealed allegations of sexual abuse and abuse of power against the founder of the Schonstatt movement, Father Joseph Kentenich.

Reports of the apostolic visitation made in the early 1950s written by Dutch Jesuit Father Sebastiaan Tromp were made known by German scholar Alexandra von Teuffenbach July 2 after she wrote a letter regarding her discovery to German newspaper Die Tagespost and Italian journalist Sandro Magister.

Von Teuffenbach, a former professor of church history at Rome's Pontifical Regina Apostolorum University, said the testimonies, letters and conversations Father Tromp had with members of the Schonstatt Sisters of Mary, as well as Father Kentenich, revealed "a situation of complete subjugation of the nuns, concealed in a certain way by a sort of family structure applied to the work."

"Kentenich was the 'father,' the founder with absolute power, often equated with God," von Teuffenbach wrote to Magister. "So much so that in many expressions and prayers it is not clear whether these are addressed to God the Father or to the founder himself."

The behavior of the founder of Schonstatt, she added, is "a striking example of what Pope Francis probably means when he speaks of clericalism, with the father and founder of the work who sets himself up as the proprietor of the nuns, in soul and body."

She also praised Father Tromp, as well as the Roman Curia under Pope Pius XII, noting that that the documents revealed an "assiduous and meticulous search for the truth" during the investigation.

The Schonstatt movement was founded in Germany in 1914 by Father Kentenich as a way "to help renew the church and society in the spirit of the Gospel" and is present in over 100 countries around the world, the movement's website states. It includes priests, nuns and lay members.

The process of beatification of Father Kentenich was opened seven years after his 1968 death.

The day before Die Tagespost's article regarding von Teuffenbach's findings were published, Father Juan Pablo Catoggio, superior of the Schonstatt movement, released a statement acknowledging Father Tromp's visitation in 1950 and the accusations against Father Kentenich, "which led to the 14-year long exile of the founder" to Wisconsin.

However, Father Catoggio said, "these issues were discussed and clarified during the process of beatification opened in 1975" and that all documents regarding the allegations were "made available to the competent church authorities."

"If doubt regarding the moral integrity of the Schonstatt founder would have remained, his exile would not have finished and the Vatican would have not published a 'nihil obstat' ('no objection') to open his process of beatification," he said.

Speaking by phone with Catholic News Service July 2, von Teuffenbach said she decided to make Father Tromp's findings known in the hope "that the truth will be told."

"We have in the Gospel that verse that says, 'the truth will set us free,'" she said.

Von Teuffenbach told CNS that her intention in making the details of the visitation known was not meant to "hurt Schonstatt, because they do many good things."

"I hope that this does not do damage for Schonstatt, but rather a path so that Schonstatt can have a new beginning, not by venerating a person of this kind, but by doing positive things," she said.

Nevertheless, she said, the revelation of allegations against Father Kentenich by a Vatican-appointed visitor should mean that "it is not possible to beatify a person who, more than just sexual abuse, committed abuse of power."

"There must be a necessary process because it cannot continue this way," von Teuffenbach told CNS. "What they (Schonstatt) have done is create a veneration based on a lie, on a falsehood. And I do not like this. It cannot work" this way.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

 

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Vatican's top diplomat meets about Mideast with U.S., Israeli ambassadors

IMAGE: CNS photo/Mohammed Salem, Reuters

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, met with the U.S. and Israeli ambassadors to the Vatican to express concern that "possible unilateral actions" on their part would further jeopardize peace in the region.

"The Holy See reiterates that the state of Israel and the state of Palestine have the right to exist and to live in peace and security, within internationally recognized borders," said a statement from the Vatican press office July 1.

"It thus appeals to the parties to do everything possible to reopen the process of direct negotiation, on the basis of the relevant resolutions of the United Nations, and aided by measures that can reestablish reciprocal confidence," it said.

According to Reuters, Cardinal Parolin met separately with Callista Gingrich, U.S. ambassador, and Oren David, Israeli ambassador.

Though the Vatican did not specify which "unilateral actions" caused their concern, the Vatican recognizes the sovereignty of both the state of Israel and the state of Palestine and their rights to exist in peace and security.

Israel has said it plans to unilaterally annex parts of the West Bank, which is part of Palestinian territory, as part of a peace plan put forward by the U.S. administration.

However, Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said June 29 that international law is very clear that "annexation is illegal. Period. Any annexation. Whether it is 30% of the West Bank, or 5%."

It would have "a disastrous impact on human rights" throughout the Middle East, she added.

The Vatican statement quoted Pope Francis' 2014 plea for peace, saying it hoped the two sides would have the courage to sit down together and "say yes to encounter and no to conflict; yes to dialogue and no to violence; yes to negotiations and no to hostilities; yes to respect for agreements and no to acts of provocation; yes to sincerity and no to duplicity."

 

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Copyright © 2020 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at [email protected]

Father Val Peter, Boys Town's leader for 20 years, dies

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Boys Town

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BOYS TOWN, Neb. (CNS) -- Father Val Peter, who was executive director of Boys Town from 1985 to 2005, died June 30 at age 85. No cause of death was given.

During his 20-year tenure leading Boys Town, Father Peter renovated much of the Boys Town campus, installed Boys Town campuses in major cities throughout the United States and increased the number of girls served by Boys Town.

He also utilized the latest research in child development to give the children under his care a better chance at a more productive future.

By 1994, Boys Town was caring for 20,000 boys and girls in 16 metropolitan areas. "We combine scientific technologies with enormous compassion," Father Peter said at the time. Rather than the dormitories and mess halls of old, for instance, Boys Town's children all lived with families.

A decade later, that number had more than doubled to 43,654 children at 19 sites in 15 states and in the District of Columbia. More than 500,000 children and families were helped through Boys Town's national hotline and nearly 1 million more were served through outreach and professional programs.

In a 1993 interview with the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Father Peter said the nature of youth problems had changed since Boys Town's founding in 1917.

"The toughest children to help get better are Americans," he said. ''The evils are far more subtle, the drugs are far more seductive. There's too much of everything material and not enough of anything spiritual."

In the interview, Father Peter presaged Pope Francis by two decades when he said, "We're involved in a great war, and Boys Town is a field hospital in that struggle."

In 2002, he became an early clergy advocate for the defrocking of priests who abused minors and the resignation of superiors who covered up the abuse.

"Perpetrators must lose their license to practice. Negligent supervisors must remove themselves or be removed," he said. When children have been abused "the children come first," he added. "Not sometimes," he said, "not in some places, but always and everywhere."

In a 1992 column in the Catholic Voice, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Omaha, Father Peter said safe sex was "the same thing" as "safe promiscuity." "What man, if his son asks him for bread, would give him a stone?" he asked, borrowing the biblical allegory. "The adults of America are being asked by their children for something that is nourishing and lasting and we are giving them condoms."

Civilization, Father Peter said, is "a very fragile and precious achievement" and democracy "even ... more fragile and precious." He added, "The rule or law 'sex belongs in marriage' is one of the building blocks of civilization. It is just as important, if not more so, than the rule 'thou shalt not steal.' Both rules make living together possible and worthwhile."

At a 1991 conference in Boys Town, Father Peter told participants that compassion is important but by itself isn't adequate.

"The world is filled with people who want to help our kids," Father Peter said, "and the kids get worse. What we need is competence. We need people who know what they're about. That takes discipline, sacrifice and learning. Compassion without this is sheer sentimentality."

A decade later, after a White House meeting with President George W. Bush about the administration's impending initiative to give faith-based organizations a better shot at federal funding, Father Peter said he felt his concerns about faith-based initiatives were heard and understood by the administration.

He added he went into the meeting wanting to be sure the initiative required quality programs, with good, demonstrable outcomes and accountability. "Otherwise, it's just a bunch of pious do-gooders," he said.

Born Valentine Peter in Omaha in 1934, he was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Omaha in 1959. Last year, he marked 60 years as a priest.

Father Peter's brother was Father Carl Peter, one of the leading U.S. post-Vatican II theologians, who spent 27 years teaching at The Catholic University of America, Washington, and died in 1991 at age 59. Father Carl Peter wrote some 125 scholarly monographs, articles and books.

In 2004, a year before Father Val Peter turned 70, the typical retirement age for priests in the archdiocese, Archbishop Elden F. Curtiss, then Omaha's archbishop, resigned as chairman of Boys Town's board of directors in an apparent dispute over bylaws changes governing the Boys Town board and executive director. The archbishop said he could not guarantee he would supply future priests to Boys Town. The executive director of Boys Town had always been an Omaha archdiocesan priest, including its founder, Father Edward Flanagan.

The dispute was resolved in 2005, when Father Peter retired and succeeded by another archdiocesan priest, Father Steven E. Boes, who continues to run Boys Town today. In retirement, Father Peter remained as pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish on the Boys Town campus.

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Copyright © 2020 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at [email protected]

Chaz Muth, CNS multimedia editor, wins Cardinal John P. Foley Award

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy of Chaz Muth

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Chaz Muth, multimedia editor for Catholic News Service, received the 2020 Cardinal John P. Foley Award from the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada.

The award, named after the media savvy Philadelphia cardinal who died in 2011, recognizes excellence and innovation in Catholic storytelling in various media platforms such as video, podcasts, photo spreads, blogs or a combination of multimedia platforms. It is one of the top awards given by the CPA.

The winner was announced July 1 in a pre-recorded video released on social media during the 2020 Catholic Media Conference held virtually this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Anything with Cardinal Foley's name on it is more than an honor and it's incredibly humbling," said Muth in accepting the award. "He was a giant in the Catholic press, and wow, what an incredible innovator in everything that he touched."

Cardinal Foley, a longtime journalist, was head of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications from 1984 to 2007. Before that, he served as assistant editor and editor of Philadelphia's archdiocesan newspaper, The Catholic Standard and Times, and he hosted and produced a radio program called "Philadelphia Catholic Hour." The cardinal also was known to many as the Vatican's "Voice of Christmas" in his role as English-language commentator for the pope's midnight Mass for 25 years.

Greg Erlandson, director and editor-in-chief of Catholic News Service -- who nominated Muth for the award -- described Cardinal Foley as an "indefatigable supporter of the Catholic press" who always "remained a journalist at heart" while believing strongly in the importance of this vocation for the life of the church.

In his nomination submission, Erlandson said there are many examples of Muth's 2019 work in photography, videography, animation and multimedia storytelling. He also pointed out that Muth developed several important series in the past year that combined solid news reporting with strong visual storytelling, including a comprehensive look at the seal of the confessional and a series on how the film industry was shaped by the Catholic Church, with corresponding documentary films that aired on Catholic television stations.

Finalists for the 2020 award were Dan Allen with FaithND; Amber Cerveny with the Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts; Cassie Magnotta of Glenmary Challenge; David Naglieri with the Knights of Columbus; and Michael O'Loughlin from America Media.

Previous Cardinal Foley Award recipients were David Carollo from World Apostolate of Fatima /Soul Magazine in 2018 and Lisa Johnston from the St. Louis Review in 2017. The award was not presented last year.

J.D. Long-Garcia, senior editor of America magazine and CPA president, who presented Muth with the award, said: "Congratulations my friend, you set a high bar for all of us."

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

 

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Cardinal Zen says he's prepared for arrest under Hong Kong security law

IMAGE: REUTERS

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HONG KONG (CNS) -- Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun has said that while he will remain prudent, he is prepared to suffer arrest and trials under Hong Kong's sweeping new national security law.

"If right and proper words were considered against their law, I will endure all the suing, trials and arrests. Numerous predecessors have endured similarly," the 88-year-old cardinal said in a video posted on his Facebook page. His remarks were reported by ucanews.com.

"Perhaps they are truly insane. Who knows? Let them be then. Isn't there a saying, 'Those whom God wishes to destroy, he first makes mad'?"

The controversial law was rushed through the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress June 30, the eve of the 23rd anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to Beijing.

Cardinal Zen's fears that the new laws could affect religious freedom in the city contradict the view of Hong Kong's apostolic administrator, Cardinal John Tong Hon, who in late June claimed the laws would have no effect on religious freedom.

But in a late-June statement, International Christian Concern said that under the new law, "vocal Hong Kong clergy who have been supportive of Hong Kong's democracy movement, such as Cardinal Joseph Zen and Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing, could be extradited to mainland China to be tried, since Beijing considers them to be threats to the regime."

Hong Kong Diocese's Justice and Peace Commission also signed an open letter with 85 other social justice organizations, decrying the law ahead of its implementation, ucanews.com.

International Christian Concern warned that Beijing considers the mass protests that began last June as terrorist acts and any calls for Hong Kong's independence from China as acts of sedition.

The group noted that China's notorious legal system and its lack of transparency "can easily criminalize anybody and place them in jail," adding that many Chinese pastors and Christians are now imprisoned on trumped-up charges such as subversion of state power, illegal border crossing and illegal business operation.

"Many fear with the passing of this legislation, Hong Kong will forever lose its 'one country, two systems' status and merely turn itself into an ordinary coastal city in China," it added.

Joshua Rosenzweig, Amnesty International's deputy regional director for East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said the passing of the national security law "is a painful moment for the people of Hong Kong and represents the greatest threat to human rights in the city's recent history."

He added: "From now on, China will have the power to impose its own laws on any criminal suspect it chooses. The speed and secrecy with which China has pushed through this legislation intensifies the fear that Beijing has calculatingly created a weapon of repression to be used against government critics, including people who are merely expressing their views or protesting peacefully."

The new laws potentially target Catholic schools, charities and organizations through their focus on nongovernmental organizations. The Hong Kong church has scores of schools ranging from preschools through to high schools, educating mainly non-Catholics.

Ucanews.com reported the church also has a significant network of charities led by its umbrella charity organization, Caritas.

Article 9 of the legislation says the Hong Kong government will "take necessary measures to strengthen public communication, guidance, supervision and regulation" of schools, social organizations, the media and the internet.

The legislation, which took effect the evening of June 30, will apply to Hong Kong citizens and foreigners deemed to have broken laws both inside and outside the territory.

Even people transiting through Hong Kong are at risk of arrest.

Foreigners can be deported if authorities decide not to prosecute them to the full extent of the legislation, which has penalties as severe as life imprisonment.

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Editors: The original story can be found at www.ucanews.com/news/defiant-cardinal-zen-i-am-ready-to-be-arrested/88608

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Msgr. Ratzinger, retired pope's brother, dies at 96

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tobias Schwarz, Reuters

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, a musician and retired Pope Benedict XVI's elder brother, died July 1 at the age of 96.

According to Vatican News, Msgr. Ratzinger died in Regensburg, Germany, where he had been hospitalized. Pope Benedict, 93, flew to Regensburg June 18 to be with his ailing brother.

When the retired pope arrived in Germany, the Diocese of Regensburg issued a statement asking the public to respect his privacy and that of his brother.

"It may be the last time that the two brothers, Georg and Joseph Ratzinger, see each other in this world," the diocesan statement said.

The two brothers attended the seminary together after World War II and were ordained to the priesthood together in 1951. Although priestly ministry took them in different directions, they continued to be close and to spend holidays and vacations together, including at the Vatican and the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. Their sister, Maria, died in 1991.

In an interview in 2006, Msgr. Ratzinger said he and his brother entered the seminary to serve. "We were willing to serve in whatever manner, go wherever the bishop would send us, although we both had our preferences, of course. I was hoping for a calling related to my interest in music, and my brother had prepared himself from a theological-science point of view. But we were not in this to indulge in our personal hobbies. We said yes to priesthood to serve, in whatever way was needed, and it was a blessing we both got to follow church careers that were also in accordance with our secret wishes at the time."

Born at Pleiskirchen, Germany, in 1924, Msgr. Ratzinger already was a proficient organist and pianist by the time he entered the minor seminary in Traunstein in 1935. Forced to leave the seminary when war broke out, he was wounded while serving in Italy with Germany's armed forces in 1944 and later was held as a prisoner of war by U.S. forces.

When the war ended, he and his brother enrolled in 1946 in the seminary of the Munich and Freising Archdiocese and were ordained priests five years later. He directed the Regensburg boys' choir from 1964 to 1994, when he retired.

Six years after he retired, accusations were made that the head of the school the boys attended sexually abused some of them. Msgr. Ratzinger said he had no idea the abuse occurred, but nevertheless he apologized to the victims. He did say that he knew the boys were subjected to corporal punishment at the school, but he had not known "the exaggerated vehemence with which the director acted," he told the Bavarian newspaper, Neue Passauer Presse.

When Msgr. Ratzinger was named an honorary citizen of Castel Gandolfo in 2008, his younger brother, Pope Benedict, told the crowd, "From the beginning of my life, my brother was always not just a companion, but also a trustworthy guide."

At the time Pope Benedict was 81 and his brother was 84.

"The days left to live progressively decrease, but in this stage as well, my brother helps me to accept with serenity, humility and courage the weight of each day. I thank him," Pope Benedict said.

"For me, he has been a point of orientation and of reference with the clarity and determination of his decisions," the now-retired pope said. "He always has shown me the path to take, including in difficult situations."

The brothers were together in public again in January 2009 to celebrate Msgr. Ratzinger's 85th birthday with a special concert in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel, the site of the conclave that had elected Pope Benedict in 2005.

The Regensburg boys' choir, the Regensburg cathedral orchestra and guest soloists performed Mozart's "Mass in C Minor," a favorite of both brothers and one that carried strong memories. Pope Benedict told the guests in the Sistine Chapel that when he was 14, he and his brother went to Salzburg, Austria, to hear the Mozart Mass.

"It was music at prayer, the divine office, in which we almost could touch something of the magnificence and beauty of God himself, and we were touched," the pope said.

The pope ended his remarks praying that the Lord would "allow all of us one day to enter the heavenly concert to experience completely the joy of God."

 

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Louisiana lawmaker says court ruling 'has almost taken my breath away'

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

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NEW ORLEANS (CNS) -- The Democratic state senator who wrote the Louisiana abortion law struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court June 29 said the ruling almost took her breath away.

"This is a decision that I holistically do not agree with. It's a very disappointing decision," Sen. Katrina Jackson said at a news conference in New Orleans.

Elected to the Louisiana Senate in 2020, she was a state representative when she wrote the 2014 Unsafe Abortion Protection Act, which the high court has deemed unconstitutional.

"It has been something today that has almost taken my breath away, that in America, at a time when we have advocated for access to health care and we have tried to ensure that people are qualified, that in the one area where women truly need qualified physicians, that the Supreme Court ruled against it," she said.

She said that in Louisiana, radiologists and ophthalmologists have performed abortions. "We heard of a number of horror stories as this bill got out and circulated for years," she said.

Many women, whether they were pro-life or they supported a right to abortion, told her, Jackson said, they agreed such a measure was needed to protect women, because "every woman who walks into an abortion clinic believes that she's walking into the hands of an OB-GYN," and that if there were complications, such as hemorrhaging, the abortion doctor would "provide a continuity of care and contact the hospital on her behalf."

But that is not the case, Jackson said, and at least the suit over the law has "made women in Louisiana and all over the country realize that when you're walking into abortion facilities, they're not all the time walking in with qualified physicians who can follow the care if something happens. And that's really big for me."

"Even today," she added, "I choose to still rejoice in the fact that we are still able to fight, that we're still able to stand for women, of course."

She said she is "holistically disappointed in the decision of the Supreme Court," and she noted that in Louisiana, "when a man chooses to go an outpatient surgical center, ambulatory surgical center and have a vasectomy, that physician is required to have admitting privileges."

But those safeguards are not afforded to a woman who "makes an unfortunate choice of an abortion" and "finds she's walking into the hands of a physician that's probably not qualified," Jackson added.

She said a lot of people thought the Supreme Court was ruling on whether abortion was legal, but "no, they ruled against women's health care. They ruled against qualified physicians being required."

Jackson said she has "to be as real as I can be" about the court ruling. "I cannot placate it, and I cannot act like this was just a law we put in place. This was for citizens. This was to protect women. And that did happen."

She said that "a Supreme Court woman who's not elected decided that we can't protect women in our state." Jackson did not specify which woman justice; the three on the court, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined Justice Stephen Breyer, who wrote the majority opinion in the case, June Medical Services v. Russo.

"That, for me, is a blow to all women, whether you're pro-choice or pro-life," Jackson continued. "They dealt a blow to women's health care today and a standard that should be set. Our health care standards should be the same as those of men in this state and around the country. And so that's why I'm just extremely disappointed."

The Archdiocese of New Orleans echoed that disappointment over the high court striking down the law, which had never taken effect. It was challenged immediately in the courts after being signed into law by then-Gov. Bobby Jindal.

"This is very disappointing to us as people of faith who believe in the dignity of human life," the archdiocese said about the Supreme Court's decision. "We believed this law would have protected women from the possibility of harmful medical care preventing long-term health issues for them and saving lives."

"As Catholics, we see abortion as an action that denies the fundamental human right to life and harms women physically, mentally and emotionally," the archdiocese said in a June 29 statement. "We will continue to pray and fight for justice for mothers and children and offer them the support needed to choose life."

The archdiocese also invited all people of faith "to pray for women seeking abortion, often under enormous pressure, that they will find alternatives that truly value them and the lives of their children."

Joining Jackson at the news conference following the court handing down its ruling were Angie Thomas, associate director of Louisiana Right to Life; Cindy Collins, director of the Crisis Pregnancy Center in Slidell, Louisiana, who testified at the state Legislature in favor of this legislation; and Dorinda Bordlee, an attorney with Bioethics Defense Fund, who helped write the law with Jackson.

"The Supreme Court has continued its abortion distortion, that laws can apply to everyone except for the abortion industry," said Thomas. "We're also very disappointed that Supreme Court really didn't even take on the standing issue. It was hardly considered."

By "standing" she was referring to the issue the state of Louisiana had raised -- but not answered by the court -- as to whether a third party, in this case the abortion provider June Medical Services, had the right to challenge the law in the first place.

"Again, the legislative process and the will of the state was usurped by five judges," Thomas added. "It was overwhelmingly passed. It was authored by women. It was written by women. It was the will of the state. And yet (with) the Supreme Court, a few people come in and strike it down."

Collins said she had testified on the measure as a woman who'd had an abortion.

"And as I shared even before the court that the abortionist told me to get up, get out and keep quiet to shut up during the abortion procedure," she said at the news conference. "And then afterward and I went outside on the bloody, bloody ground with my blood and the blood of my child."

Her own abortion was"many years ago," she explained. "But I have counseled hundreds of women now, if not thousands, that have had abortions, many of those from Louisiana."

"The memories from that day are clear as ever," Collins said of her abortion. "And I am disturbed daily and woken up by them almost nightly. And those are the voices that you're not hearing, they are the voices of Louisiana women that were crying out for justice by what Senator Jackson brought forward and what we all went for."

Bordlee in her remarks said the law "was supported by women and men, Republicans and Democrats, Black and white, across the board."

About 95% "of everyone," she said, "agreed that women deserve better than to be butchered and then abandoned by their doctors. And that's what happened today. So it is a sad day for this country."

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Copyright © 2020 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at [email protected]

Update: Court says tax credit program can't exclude religious schools

IMAGE: CNS photo/Will Dunham, Reuters

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In a 5-4 ruling June 30, the Supreme Court said the exclusion of religious schools in Montana's state scholarship aid program violated the federal Constitution.

In the opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court ruled that if a state offers financial assistance to private schools, it has to allow religious schools to also take part. Separate dissents were written by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.

Roberts said the decision by the Montana Supreme Court to invalidate the school scholarship program because it would provide funding to both religious schools and secular schools "bars religious schools from public benefits solely because of the religious character of the schools."

"The provision also bars parents who wish to send their children to a religious school from those same benefits, again solely because of the religious character of the school," he wrote.

Sister Dale McDonald, a Sister of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is the director of public policy and educational research for the National Catholic Educational Association, said she was happy with the decision, mainly because "it puts faith-based organizations on a level playing field" to be able to also take part in other opportunities.

And for the court to say these scholarship programs have to be inclusive, "that is a big victory," she told Catholic News Service.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said the court "rightly ruled that the U.S. Constitution does not permit states to discriminate against religion. This decision means that religious persons and organizations can, like everyone else, participate in government programs that are open to all."

The statement from Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chairman of the USCCB's Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Michael C. Barber, of Oakland, California, chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Catholic Education, also said the decision was "good news, not only for people of faith, but for our country."

"A strong civil society needs the full participation of religious institutions," the statement said. "By ensuring the rights of faith-based organizations' freedom to serve, the court is also promoting the common good."

Advocates for school choice also praised the decision. "The weight that this monumental decision carries is immense, as it's an extraordinary victory for student achievement, parental control, equality in educational opportunities and First Amendment rights," said Jeanne Allen, founder and chief executive of the Center for Education Reform.

The case, Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, was brought to the court by three Montana mothers who had been sending their children to Stillwater Christian School in Kalispell with the help of a state scholarship program.

The program, created in 2015, was meant to provide $3 million a year for tax credits for individuals and business taxpayers who donated up to $150 to the program. It was helping about 45 students and just months after it got started, the Montana Department of Revenue issued an administrative rule saying the tax credit donations could only go toward nonreligious, private schools -- explaining the use of tax credits for religious schools violated the state's constitution.

The mothers were represented by the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit legal advocacy group based in Virginia. In 2015, these mothers sued the state saying that barring religious schools from the scholarship program violated the federal constitution. The trial court agreed with them, but the Montana Supreme Court reversed this decision.

The court based its decision on the state constitution's ban on funding religious organizations, called the Blaine Amendment.

Thirty-seven states have Blaine amendments, which prohibit spending public funds on religious education. These bans date back to the 19th century and are named for Rep. James Blaine of Maine, who tried unsuccessfully in 1875 to have the U.S. Constitution prohibit the use of public funds for "sectarian" schools.

In oral arguments, Justice Brett Kavanaugh said the amendments reflected "grotesque religious bigotry" against Catholics. Adam Unikowsky, Montana's attorney, argued that the state's revised constitution in 1972 does not have "evidence whatsoever of any anti-religious bigotry."

The USCCB's June 30 statement said the court "dealt a blow to the odious legacy of anti-Catholicism in America," stressing that Blaine Amendments "were the product of nativism and bigotry" and were "never meant to ensure government neutrality toward religion but were expressions of hostility toward the Catholic Church."

Justice Samuel Alito, in a concurring opinion in the case, highlighted the anti-Catholic origins of state Blaine amendments like the one in Montana and he even included an 1871 political cartoon from the political magazine Harper's Weekly to show the bigotry toward Catholics at the time. The cartoon depicts priests as crocodiles slithering toward children in the U.S. as a public school crumbles in the background.

The USCCB also filed a friend-of-the-court brief, along with several other religious groups, in support of the plaintiffs, which said: "Families that use private schools should not suffer government discrimination because their choice of school is religious."

A group of Montana Catholic school parents also submitted a friend-of-the-court brief stressing that state Blaine amendments "should be declared unconstitutional once and for all."

Before the case was argued, Richard Garnett, director of the University of Notre Dame's Program on Church, State and Society, said it could have major implications for education-reform debates and policies and it "could remove, or at least reduce, one of the legal barriers to choice-based reforms like scholarship programs and tax credits for low-income families."

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

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U.S. Catholic media must inspire unity amid division, pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Catholic media outlets in the United States are called to break down barriers that prevent dialogue and honest communication between people and communities, Pope Francis said.

The national motto "e pluribus unum" ("out of many, one") can serve as an inspiration of the ideal of unity amid diversity "in an age marked by conflicts and polarization from which the Catholic community itself is not immune," the pope said in a June 30 message sent to participants of the Catholic Media Conference.

The church, he added, needs "men and women of conviction who protect communication from all that would distort it or bend it to other purposes."

"We need media that can help people, especially the young, to distinguish good from evil, to develop sound judgments based on a clear and unbiased presentation of the facts and to understand the importance of working for justice, social concord and respect for our common home," he said.

The annual event, sponsored by the Catholic Press Association, was originally scheduled for June 29-July 2 in Portland, Oregon. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, organizers opted to hold a virtual gathering for participants.

Reflecting on the conference's theme -- "Together While Apart" -- the pope said it expressed the "sense of togetherness that emerged, paradoxically, from the experience of social distancing imposed by the pandemic."

"Indeed, the experience of these past months has shown how essential is the mission of the communications media for bringing people together, shortening distances, providing necessary information and opening minds and hearts to truth," he said.

Since the establishment of the first Catholic newspapers in the United States, the pope said, local communities have relied on the ever-expanding forms of media "to share, to communicate, to inform and to unite."

True communicators, he added, are called dedicate themselves completely "to the welfare of others, at every level, from the life of each individual to the life of the entire human family."

"We cannot truly communicate unless we become personally involved, unless we can personally attest to the truth of the message we convey," the pope said. "All communication has its ultimate source in the life of the triune God, who shares with us the richness of his divine life and calls us in turn to communicate that treasure to others by our unity in the service of his truth."

Pope Francis encouraged conference participants to continue their work and said the Holy Spirit's gifts of "wisdom, understanding and good counsel" allow people to see "those who suffer and to seek the true good of all."

While the world may only see conflict and division, members of the Catholic media in the United States should remain focused on those who suffer and "give voice to the plea of our brothers and sisters in need of mercy and understanding."

"Only with that gaze can we effectively work to overcome the diseases of racism, injustice and indifference that disfigure the face of our common family," the pope said.

"Where our world all too readily speaks with adjectives and adverbs, may Christian communicators speak with nouns that acknowledge and advance the quiet claims of truth and promote human dignity," he said.

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Editors: The pope's message can be found at http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/it/bollettino/pubblico/2020/06/30/0366/00841.html.

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

 

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Copyright © 2020 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at [email protected]