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Virginia Catholics praise dismissal of assisted suicide by state legislature

Arlington, Va., Nov 15, 2018 / 03:49 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Virginia Catholics are praising the decision of a joint commission of the state legislature to take no action on a study on assisted suicide.

Last year, Del. Kaye Kory (D-Fairfax) asked the Virginia state legislature to consider legalizing so-called “medical aid-in-dying” or physician-assisted suicide.

After receiving public comment, the Joint Commission on Health Care, which was tasked with studying the issue, voted 10-6 on November 7 to take no action on the issue.

“I was very pleased to receive the news that the Virginia Joint Commission on Health Care rejected efforts that might ultimately have led to the legalization of physician-assisted suicide in our commonwealth,” Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington told the Arlington Catholic Herald.  

“The commission received nearly 3,000 public comments against legalizing assisted suicide, and comments against assisted suicide outnumbered comments for assisted suicide 8-1! I thank the leadership of the Virginia Catholic Conference, the Arlington Diocese’s Office for Marriage, Family and Respect Life and so many citizens, especially among our Catholic faithful, for standing up for life!” he added.

In a statement posted to the Virginia Catholic Conference website, director of the conference Jeff Caruso said that voters’ voices had been “heard loud and clear” on the issue.

“In prayer and in public, your voices are urgently needed to bring Gospel values to bear on vital decisions being made by those who represent you,” he said.

Of the 3,000 comments against assisted suicide received by the commission, about 2,000 of them them were submitted through the Catholic Conference, Caruso told the Arlington Catholic Herald.

“The gift of life is something that should never be abandoned or discarded and that's the principal that was upheld by the joint commission,” he said.

Caruso said it was “very significant” that the commission declined to take action on assisted suicide, because it is something that could be helpful in the continued fight against legalizing it in the future.

The vote included all of the commission’s Republicans, as well as one vote from a Democrat on the commission. One of the commissioners who voted against assisted suicide was a surgeon, another was a physician.

Del. Scott Garrett (R-Lynchburg), who has experience as a surgeon, told the Virginia Mercury that he voted to take no action because he had witnessed people who had long-outlived their prognosis.

“The resiliency of the human condition is truly an amazing thing,” he said. “Each one of us has certainly, many, many times in our professional careers been faced with somebody who had no chance, they’re going to die in three months, and yet in fact it just wasn’t their time yet.”

The commission did pass several measures to improve health care in the state’s jails and prisons, including actions aimed at improving mental health and substance abuse.

Kory told the Virginia Mercury that she would not propose any assisted suicide legislation this year.

The seven states of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, plus the District of Columbia, have legalized assisted suicide.

 

El Papa prefiere una Iglesia que crece en silencio antes que una Iglesia del espectáculo

VATICANO, 15 Nov. 18 (ACI Prensa).- Frente a la Iglesia de los eventos y de los espectáculos, el Papa Francisco mostró su preferencia por la Iglesia que crece en el silencio, en lo escondido.

Harvard students hold Catholic Sex Week to explain Church teaching

Cambridge, Mass., Nov 15, 2018 / 12:27 am (CNA/EWTN News).- After Sex Week at Harvard University this year, the Catholic Student Association hosted a series of talks designed to offer insight on the Catholic understanding of sexuality.

Hosted Nov. 6-8, this was the first Catholic Sex Week the student organization had conducted. The events followed Harvard Sex Week on Oct. 28-Nov.4, which included discussions on polyamory, fetishes, and contraception.

Jack Clark, vice president of intellectual development for the Catholic Student Association, helped organize Catholic Sex Week, which he said was not a rebuttal to Harvard Sex Week but an opportunity for people to learn a different perspective on sexuality.

“After Harvard Sex Week, we kind of did a few events of our own just to get people talking, to present the Catholic view of sexuality,” Clark told CNA.

“I think the biggest goal was to educate ourselves and to a lesser extent the Harvard community on the reasoning and the belief behind the Catholic view on sex and sexuality.”

The event included three discussions – featuring as speakers Fr Patrick Fiorillo, the undergraduate chaplain; Steve and Helene Bowler, a Catholic married couple; and Dr. Janet Smith, the keynote speaker who also holds the Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.

At the talk on Tuesday, Fiorillo explained in detail some of the points in Humanae Vitae, the landmark encyclical reaffirming Church teaching against contraception, which marked its 50th anniversary earlier this year.

On Wednesday, married couple Steve and Helene Bowler shared their personal experience transitioning from a failure to live out the Church’s teaching on contraception to an eventual cooperation with it. Clark said the family is sympathetic to the difficulty of this teaching, but emphasized the spiritual growth it has produced.

Smith spoke on Thursday about the topic “Why sex is complicated.” The discussion approached a general understanding of the Catholic teaching on sexuality and how it differed from a do-what-you-want attitude, said Clark.

“Dr. Smith’s talk was really emphasizing the role of sex and how it can’t be separated from real emotional intimacy, from procreation, from the family, and obviously, from a Catholic perspective, we look at men and women as complimentary.”

The first two talks were held at the Catholic center and attracted about 30 people each. The third event was held on campus and welcomed 60 attendees. Jack was not sure if any non-Catholics attended the events, and said he did not yet know if the series would be repeated next year, but he said he sees the talks as a success.

“I don’t think there is a plan to set this up as an annual thing, but we certainly want to build on the moment that we created. I think people are talking about Catholic views on sexuality more than they have been… I am excited to see where that energy goes, whether it is reading groups or discussions or more talks.”
 

Hoy es fiesta de San Alberto Magno, el “gran doctor” por un acuerdo con la Virgen

REDACCIÓN CENTRAL, 15 Nov. 18 (ACI Prensa).- Cada 15 de noviembre la Iglesia celebra a San Alberto Magno, Doctor de la Iglesia y patrón de los estudiantes de ciencias naturales. Era considerado un gran doctor y experto, pero su prodigiosa memoria y su destacado espíritu científico se deben a un acuerdo con la Virgen María.

Bishop Malone criticized for $200,000 house renovation

Buffalo, N.Y., Nov 14, 2018 / 07:31 pm (CNA).- Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, New York has come under fire for reportedly spending an estimated $200,000 to renovate his new home - a former convent near St. Stanislaus Church.

Malone had announced in April that he would sell his bishop’s mansion to help pay for compensation for victims of sexual abuse in the diocese. He has since moved into his new residence with his priest assistant.

Internal diocesan documents and emails detailed the cost of the renovation, and were released in a Nov. 12 report from Charlie Specht of local news station WKBW. The estimated expenses include $22,000 for ramp access for handicapped visitors, $30,000 for landscaping, $7,200 to install WiFi, and $46,000 for a garage addition and a parking spot for staff.

Malone wrote in email released by WKBW that a visiting priest was “alarmed about my living in such a run down neighborhood” when Malone took him by the new residence.

“I wasn’t surprised by [the priest’s] reaction...no successor of mine would want to go there!” Malone wrote.

Publicly, however, Malone has told the press that he was looking forward to moving in, and said “it’s a good thing for me to be over there” in a neighborhood where “there are some encouraging signs.”

Last month, Siobhan O’Connor, former executive assistant to Malone, leaked internal diocesan documents to the local press. The documents purported to show that the diocese culled down a list of over 100 clergy accused of “criminal, abusive or inappropriate behavior” to a final, publicly released list of just 42 who were “removed from ministry, were retired, or left ministry” due to allegations. This list was originally released in March.

The diocese has since added names of accused clergy to the list, bringing the total number acknowledged by the diocese to 78.  

O’Connor reportedly suggested to Malone in March that he could live in the rectory of St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown Buffalo, taking up residence in a newly-vacated suite and allaying some of the additional costs of renovating the convent.

Malone thanked O’Connor for the idea at the time but said he needed the additional space for his “rather ample personal theological library” and his piano, and said he preferred to live in a residence that was solely his own, and not a parish rectory, WKBW reported.

According to additional emails, Malone requested that the convent be used solely as his residence, despite the fact that the building had been used for parish meetings, choir practices, and gatherings since the 1970s.

“I prize privacy above most everything,” Malone reportedly wrote. “I cannot live in a building that is used or meetings, or for anything other than my residence.”

Kathy Spangler, spokesperson for the diocese, responded to the situation in a statement to local media.

She said the rectory at the cathedral was “simply not suitable for the gatherings [the] bishop hosts and was therefore not considered,” and that the convent was chosen in order to “accommodate the many gatherings and events that a bishop hosts during the year.”

She said much of the expensive work was being done to make the building handicapped accessible, as well as other non-cosmetic improvements such as repairing air conditioning and bringing electrical systems up to code.

Spangler also said Malone would not have made the move to the convent if he were concerned for his safety in that neighborhood, and that the bishop “does not want to be alone.”

CNA reached out to the Diocese of Buffalo for further comment but did not receive a reply by press time.

 

Los mártires de Argelia son modelos para la Iglesia de hoy y de mañana, afirma arzobispo

ROMA, 14 Nov. 18 (ACI Prensa).- El Arzobispo de Argel, Mons. Paul Desfarges, envío una carta pastoral por la próxima beatificación de los 19 mártires de Argelia, víctimas del fundamentalismo islámico a finales del siglo XX, en la que dijo que son “modelos para nuestra vida de discípulos hoy y mañana”.

Cardinal DiNardo hopeful for Church in US

Baltimore, Md., Nov 14, 2018 / 05:03 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Acknowledging that he was disappointed by the Vatican's decision to block a vote on sex abuse reform measures, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said Wednesday he nonetheless sees a hopeful future for the Church in the United States.

In the closing statement of the USCCB’s Fall General Assembly Nov. 14, the president of the conference focused on the upcoming meeting of bishops’ conference presidents in Rome, and hopes that the discussions there among representatives of the global Church will assist with the continued “eradication” of sexual abuse in the Church.

DiNardo offered praise for the various abuse victim testimony and abuse experts throughout the week, saying that they had given him direction and “such good counsel in these last few days.”

In the wake of the allegations against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, DiNardo reiterated how over the summer, the bishops committed themselves to three goals: an investigation of the claims against McCarrick, developing an easier way to report abuse, and developing a means of holding bishops accountable.

“We are on course to accomplish these goals,” DiNardo told the crowd of bishops.

“That is the direction you and the survivors of abuse have given me.”

DiNardo then proceeded to outline some of the “action steps” the bishops hope to take in the coming future. These include the creation of a process for complaints that are reported to a third-party compliance hotline, the completion of a proposal for a lay commission, and the creation of a national network of diocesan review boards and lay experts that will oversee metropolitans.

These steps represented a combination of some of the proposals that came up over the course of the week’s general assembly.

DiNardo also said that the bishops will look to finalize protocol and standards, and will be creating new guidelines for the release of list of names of priests who have substantiated claims of abuse. He also called for a “fair and timely” investigation of McCarrick and a publication of the results.

The bishops will be “committed to take the strongest possible action at the earliest possible moment,” he said. He looks forward to the February meeting, as he believes that working with the global Church will serve to make the Church in the United States even stronger.

“We must thus as bishops recommit to holiness and mission of the Church,” he said. He said that he is “confident” that along with Pope Francis, the Church will move forward “decisively” after this February’s meeting.

And despite Monday’s initial frustration, DiNardo said that the past three days were “a sign of hope for me, not a disappointment.”

Arquidiócesis reúne fondos para víctimas de incendios en California

WASHINGTON DC , 14 Nov. 18 (ACI Prensa).- El Arzobispo de Los Ángeles (Estados Unidos), Mons. José Gomez, pidió a los fieles colaborar con el fondo abierto para ayudar a las víctimas de los incendios forestales que se registran en el estado de California y que han dejado al menos 50 muertos.

'What are people to make of our silence?' Bishops discuss McCarrick in Baltimore

Baltimore, Md., Nov 14, 2018 / 04:38 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The bishops of the United States resumed their open-floor discussion on the recent sexual abuse scandals facing the Church in America Wednesday morning. In addition to debating the best means of institutionally responding to the crisis, the specific case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick was raised by several speakers.

Bishop Richard Stika of Knoxville told the conference Nov. 14 that the allegations against McCarrick, and the scandal of his rise and fall, were not just affecting long-time Catholics. Many people in the process of entering the Church found themselves having the example of McCarrick throw at them by friends and family as evidence that they were entering an institution in crisis.

Stika said McCarrick, and the letters of former nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, were serving as “ammunition” to discourage people from entering the Church, and that many Catholics felt that bishops were only responding to the sexual abuse crisis when they were “forced to” by the media.

Several bishops spoke in favor of the USCCB acting as a body to speak out about McCarrick.

Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth told the conference hall that “we end where we begin.”

“So much of the outrage we experience - and I think it's a rightful outrage - is prompted by the injustice that our people have experienced at the hands of predators, at the treatment of our seminarians and our priests who were entrusted to the care of former cardinal McCarrick, a trust that was not only violated, but was ignored by others who were responsible for paying attention.”

Olson observed that while Pope Francis had accepted McCarrick’s resignation from the college of cardinals and sent him to a life of prayer and penance pending a canonical process, the USCCB had yet to respond as a body to the scandal caused by one of their own.

“He is an emeritus [bishop of a U.S. diocese] and as such he is supposed to be a welcome guest here. He is not welcome and we should say it,” Olson said. He also questioned if the bishops’ reliance on structural and procedural reform was overshadowing their need to act with moral authority.

“We have said the Holy See should let us get some new norms, get a process together. Do we use this process as means of avoiding our pastoral responsibilities?” Olson asked, suggesting that the conference needed to condemn not just McCarrick’s alleged behavior, but also Vigano’s call for the resignation of the pope, which he called an attack on the Petrine office.

Bishop Liam Cary of Baker also insisted that the conference needed to respond to the McCarrick scandal as a body, saying McCarrick had “grievously offended” not just his victims but all Catholics, priests, and bishops.

By abusing seminarians “successively, over decades” Cary said McCarrick had left a “shameful residue” on all the bishops, and that while other institutions had revoked honors previously bestowed on the former cardinal the USCCB had taken no action.

Cary cited the example of bodies, like the U.S. Senate, which could pass resolutions to censure its members as one way they could respond, but insisted that some kind of action was urgently needed.

“What are people to make of our silence?” he asked. “How do we lead our brother to the mercy of God if we leave unspoken the demands of his justice?”

Bishop Cary echoed Bishop Olson’s concern that McCarrick was still technically qualified as a welcome participant at the conference.

“If McCarrick were to come to this microphone would he be allowed to speak?” Cary asked, noting that there was no open microphone for his victims.

In addition to the specific problem of Archbishop McCarrick, the bishops also discussed how they could proceed more generally in the light of the Holy See’s intervention to prevent them from voting to adopt the proposed Standards for Episcopal Conduct or to create an independent special commission to investigate allegations against bishops.

Bishop Kevin Vann of Orange summed up the dilemma facing the conference.

“We cannot just sit back and do nothing,” he told the bishops. If a deliberative vote was not possible, he said, the bishops needed to at least take “some sort of consultative vote” to show that the American bishops were firmly resolved among themselves.

Bishop Robert Christian, auxiliary bishop of San Francisco, expressed the frustrations of many bishops at the inability of the conference to act.

He pointed out that as several scandals broke over the summer “the leadership of this conference was blocked from either working in partnership with the Holy See or leaving it to us in the dioceses.”

Christian said that he was concerned by the Holy See’s intervention. He observed that it could take months for the Vatican to produce a final resolution after the February meeting of the heads of the world’s bishops’ conferences in Rome. This could mean, he said, that the U.S. bishops could find it still “impossible” to act in March, or even June, of next year.

“It is all the more important to vote today as if we were voting on a policy,” he said, so that both the faithful and the Holy See could see the clear mind of the bishops.

Despite the support of many on the conference hall for the original proposal for an independent commission to receive and investigate allegations against bishops, a few bishops have suggested they would prefer to see a different system altogether.

Bishop Gregory Hartmayer of Savannah proposed that Rome should instead be asked to consider amending canon law to give metropolitan archbishops an expanded role and authority for dealing with allegations against bishops in their province. His proposal was echoed by Bishop Robert Coerver of Lubbock.

Hartmayer noted that it might be better for accusations against a bishop to be considered by “a jury of their peers” since, he said, “no one understands a bishop so much as another bishop.”

He also said that bishops owed each other the “courtesy” of listening “to one of our brothers who has misbehaved in some way.”

While the majority of the interventions from the floor were concerned with what direct action the conference could take, others were more reflective.

Bishop Barry Knestout of Richmond gave a long and clearly personal reflection on the pain experienced by priests and laity alike in his former diocese, Washington.

Knestout said that he looked upon the current scandals on a continuum of previous crises, stretching back 50 years to the promulgation of Humanae vitae, saying that the rejection by many clergy of that document, and the Church’s teaching on the dignity of human life and sexuality, had caused “one long crisis of leadership and teaching” in the Church.

Despite the clear and forceful calls by several bishops for some clear statement on the case of Archbishop McCarrick, when the bishops resumed their seats after breaking for lunch they voted down a resolution to “encourage” the Holy See to release whatever documents it could on McCarrick.

As they debated the minutiae of the resolution’s wording, the bishops found they could not even agree on the inclusion of the word “soon.”

After the defeat of the proposal, one bishop remarked to CNA that “we cannot seem to speak clearly, even when we want to agree.”

US bishops divided on how to deal with sex abuse accusations

Baltimore, Md., Nov 14, 2018 / 04:32 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Wednesday afternoon, the bishops of the United States resumed their discussions of the proposals for policies which were intended to be the centerpiece of their response to the recent sexual abuse scandals.

In an unexpected turn of events, discussion shifted from the proposed creation of an independent commission tasked with examining allegations against bishops to debate of an alternative proposal for a system based around metropolitan provinces and archbishops.

A decision by the Congregation for Bishops, issued shortly before the USCCB fall general assembly opened, prevented the bishops from taking a determinative vote on the measures. Many members called for the documents and policies to be debated and voted on in a symbolic way, so that the a clear sense of the bishops’ priorities could be expressed.

Bishops submitted amendments for discussion on three measures: a new set of Standards of Episcopal Conduct, the creation of an independent lay commission to handle accusations against bishops, and a policy for dealing with bishops who had either resigned or been removed from office following accusations of misconduct.

The session opened with a brief discussion of a proposed amendment to the Standards of Episcopal Conduct proposed by Bishop Steven Beigler of Cheyenne.

Beigler had suggested the inclusion of additional text in the introductory section of the Standards. His amendment addressed the problems of clericalism, the actions of some bishops to shield the institutional Church at the expense of victims and survivors of abuse. It also contained a brief reflection on the nature of a bishop’s office, and what it means to be a shepherd.

Presenting his amendment, which had been rejected by the conference’s Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations, Beigler said that as a group the American bishops had “not acted as guardians of the least,” had shown “no tenderness in our hearts” for the cries of victims.

Beigler said the purpose of his amendment was to give a statement of the values which should underpin the standards of conduct.

Responding to him, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, who chairs the Committee on Clergy, said that his text had been “considered very seriously,” and the decision not to accept it did not mean they disagreed with the values Beigler expressed.

Rather, Tobin said, the concern was that the “richness of the reflection could distract from the other content in the draft.” Speaking for himself, the cardinal said that he would be taking Beigler’s text home with him for continued reflection.

Turning to the proposal for an independent special commission to investigate allegations of misconduct against bishops, the conference spent as much time debating a two-page counter proposal, submitted by Cardinal Blase Cupich, as it did the commission.

Cardinal Cupich’s plan proposes that when an accusation against a bishop is made, it be reported to the local metropolitan archbishop and that the allegation be considered by the lay-led diocesan review board of the archdiocese. After receiving the recommendation of his own review board, the metropolitan archbishop would then forward the case to Rome, together with his own recommendation.

In the event that the accusation was made against the metropolitan archbishop, the senior suffragan bishop of the province would handle the allegation in his diocese.

Archbishop Allen Vigneron spoke on behalf of the USCCB Executive Committee, which was responsible for the plan for a special commission.

Acknowledging that, following the instruction of the Holy See, there was no scope to reach a final consensus on what system would be best, Cardinal Cupich’s proposal, along with other amendments to the plan for the independent commission, had been included together and would be given to the special “task force” formed of three past USCCB presidents, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, and Archbishop Wilton Gregory.

This task force will consider the relative merits of the two now-rival proposals, and offer a more detailed consideration when next the bishops meet, either in March or June 2019.

While no firm action on either proposal is possible before the conclusion of the February meeting of the heads of the world’s bishops’ conferences called by Pope Francis, the bishops did have some preliminary exchanges about what they saw as the relative merits of the special commission versus Cardinal Cupich’s detailed alternative.

Those in favor of the new plan observed that it might better reflect existing Church structures and might more easily fit within existing canon law.

Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento said that he could see the merits of the Cupich plan, but was concerned that, in the light of recent scandals, it could not be proposed “with any credibility.”

The entire purpose of the independent commission was, he said, to make a “strong statement” of independence and transparency. Soto even suggested that the plan for a special commission might be improved by removing all clerical or episcopal membership or involvement.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield also expressed “a couple of concerns” about the metropolitan model.

Paprocki noted that such a model appeared to lack the independence which was the driving force behind the proposal for an independent commission.

“I would remind everyone that Archbishop McCarrick was a metropolitan,” Paprocki said. He pointed out that seminarians allegedly abused by McCarrick felt that they could not come forward with a complaint against their own archbishop.

“Would they have trusted this process if it meant going to the senior suffragan bishop instead?” Paprocki asked.

He also noted that asking the senior suffragan bishop to offer an opinion for or against allegations against their metropolitan “raises questions” about the independence of the plan.

“I thought what we were trying to do here was to put in place a system to fix what was not working. The whole point of the special commission was that it is not part of any diocese or province,” Paprocki said.

Bishops Cozzens, an auxiliary of St. Paul-Minneapolis, suggested that some version of the metropolitan model could perhaps be implemented right away, with diocesan bishops simply announcing that any complaints against them could be sent to their metropolitan archbishop.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo brought the day’s proceedings to a close, saying that the bishops had arrived in Baltimore following the summer’s scandals with three goals: “to do what we could to get to the bottom of the Archbishop McCarrick situation; to make reporting of abuse and misconduct by bishops easier; and, to develop a means of holding ourselves accountable that was genuinely independent, duly authorized, and had substantial lay involvement.”

DiNardo said that he considered the bishops “on course” with all three priorities, and that he looked forward to the February meeting in Rome, with expectations that it would make the U.S. bishops’ “local efforts more global.”

While many of the bishops remain frustrated at their own inability to leave Baltimore with even a common expression of intent, DiNardo said that although he had begun the session on Monday with disappointment, “I end the meeting with hope, first of all grounded in Christ.”