St. Mary's Church / Iglesia Santa María

Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

Catholic counselors sue Michigan over therapy restrictions for trans-identifying kids

Michigan State Capitol Building in Lansing, Michigan. / Credit: John McLenaghan/Shutterstock

CNA Staff, Jul 16, 2024 / 15:50 pm (CNA).

Catholic counselors filed a federal lawsuit on Friday against Michigan’s broad ban on so-called “conversion therapy” for minors, saying the law limits their ability to counsel children struggling with their gender identity. 

The Michigan law, HB 4616, directs that mental health professionals “shall not engage in conversion therapy with a minor.” The lawsuit, filed in U.S. district court, argues that the rule “forces counselors to ‘affirm’ children in the belief that they were born in the wrong body.”

Catholic counselor Emily McJones and several local Catholic Charities affiliates argue in the suit that the law, passed in July of last year, “harms vulnerable children.”

“This is a lawsuit about helping children who experience distress over their biological sex,” the 33-page complaint of Catholic Charities v. Whitmer argues.

“I opened Little Flower to offer those who come through my doors compassionate therapy that helps them live whole, integrated lives,” McJones, a licensed therapist and owner of the Lansing-based Little Flower Counseling, said in a July 12 press release from the religious liberty law firm Becket, which is representing the plaintiffs.

“But now Michigan officials are threatening to strip my license because I provide therapy rooted in my faith and the best available scientific evidence,” McJones said.

McJones joined the Catholic Church in 2017 and began her practice in 2020. Named for St. Thérèse of Lisieux, who is known as “the Little Flower,” her practice offers “psychotherapy from an authentically Catholic perspective,” according to her website.

Her practice is open to anyone. Her website states that she “will never violate my faith in my practice” and will “never push my faith” on clients.

HB 4616 allows only what state statute calls “acceptance, support, or understanding” from counselors discussing gender transitions with their clients, requiring that a counselor “does not seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.” 

Those in violation of the law could lose their license or be fined up to $250,000.

Michigan is one of 22 other states that have restrictions against so-called “conversion therapy.” A Christian marriage and family counselor’s lawsuit against a Washington state ban on “conversion therapy” reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 2023, but the court declined to hear it. 

“Michigan’s attempt to gag compassionate, professional counselors is contrary to the Constitution, sound evidence, and common sense,” Luke Goodrich, vice president and senior counsel at Becket, said in the group’s press release.

“The Constitution doesn’t let the government dictate what people can and can’t say — especially when the government is cutting off vulnerable children and families from counseling they desperately want to receive,” he noted.

The suit argues that HB 4616 violates due process because “it employs vague, undefined terms that invite arbitrary and selective enforcement” as well as violating rights to free speech and free exercise of religion.

“Worse, HB 4616 harms vulnerable children by depriving them of the compassionate counseling they so desperately need,” the lawsuit read.

“Instead of allowing counselors to help children explore the underlying factors that may be contributing to their distress, and to help them accept and embrace their biological sex, HB 4616 forces counselors to ‘affirm’ children in the belief that they were born in the wrong body and help them undergo permanent, life-altering medical procedures that many will come to regret.”

The Catholic Church affirms biological sex as a gift from God. A recent document from the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dignitas Infinita, noted: “Any sex-change intervention, as a rule, risks threatening the unique dignity the person has received from the moment of conception.”

The lawsuit requests a preliminary and permanent injunction against the enforcement of HB 4616. A hearing is expected later this year.

Appeals court refuses to reinstate Oklahoma federal grants in abortion referral dispute

null / Credit: Brian A Jackson/Shutterstock

CNA Staff, Jul 16, 2024 / 15:20 pm (CNA).

A federal appeals court this week refused to reinstate federal family planning grants to Oklahoma after the state refused to provide abortion referrals in its family planning services. 

The state in November filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) after the Biden administration suspended “millions of dollars” in Title X federal family planning funding. 

Oklahoma said in the lawsuit that HHS “overreached by unlawfully suspending and terminating millions of dollars of Title X grant funding” to the state after it would “not commit to providing referrals for abortion” in its own family planning programs.

Title X is a Nixon-era federal family planning program enacted in 1970. It distributes federal grants to community clinics and health departments in order to provide contraception services and other family planning and health services. Federal law forbids Title X funding from being used to directly procure abortions. 

A U.S. district court had earlier rejected the state’s request for an injunction against HHS. In a decision on Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit upheld the lower court’s decision, agreeing that “the combination of Title X and the HHS requirements” doesn’t violate the spending power of Congress, and that the state “acted voluntarily and knowingly when accepting HHS’ conditions” regarding the federal funding. 

Citing the lower court’s ruling, the appeals court said in part that the “act of sharing the call-in number” wouldn’t constitute “a referral for pregnant women to get abortions.” 

In a dissent to the Monday ruling, Judge Richard Federico argued that Oklahoma was entitled to the injunction due in part to the “irreparable harm” the state will suffer from the loss of about $4.5 million in Title X funds.

“The termination of the financial grant is actual, irreparable harm that will occur before the district court rules on the merits of the case, warranting relief,” Federico wrote.

In a statement on Tuesday, Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond told CNA he was “disappointed by the ruling.” 

“As the dissent rightly points out, ‘rather than complying with its statutory obligations,’ the federal government stripped millions in funding from the Oklahoma Health Department because it refused to refer women for abortions,” Drummond said. 

“Moreover, the dissent wrote, this ‘violation of’ federal law ‘reduces access to health care for those who need it most,’” the prosecutor added. 

“We will appeal the court’s decision,” he said. 

The dispute is part of a larger back-and-forth series of abortion regulations issued first by the Trump administration and then the Biden administration. 

In 2019, the Trump administration issued a rule “prohibiting referral for abortion as a method of family planning,” directing that Title X recipients were “not required to choose between participating in the program and violating their own consciences by providing abortion counseling and referral.”

In 2021 the Biden administration reversed that rule. Oklahoma’s lawsuit last year said the White House now requires that Title X recipients offer pregnant women “the opportunity to be provided information and counseling regarding” abortion.

Suspect charged with felony hate crime after beheading statue of Jesus at New York parish

null / Credit: ArtOlympic/Shutterstock

CNA Staff, Jul 16, 2024 / 14:20 pm (CNA).

A suspect in a vandalism incident at a New York City parish has been charged with a hate crime after beheading a statue of the Christ Child in Queens. 

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a press release on her website that Jamshaid Choudhry “has been charged with criminal mischief as a hate crime and other related crimes” in connection with the smashing of the statue at Holy Family Roman Catholic Church in Fresh Meadows on June 30. 

The attack “caused the head of one of the statues, the depiction of a child Jesus, to break off,” Katz’s office said. 

Surveillance footage reportedly showed Choudhry pulling up to the parish in a yellow cab, after which he allegedly ran up to the statue, took off his shoe, and struck the statue multiple times with it, beheading the depiction of Jesus. 

The vandalism reportedly cost the church about $3,000. Choudhry himself was arrested last week. 

“We will not tolerate unprovoked attacks, especially those driven by hate,” Katz said in the statement. “Queens stands as a beacon of diversity and inclusivity, where freedom of religion and expression are celebrated as fundamental pillars of our democracy.” 

“Thanks to my Hate Crimes Bureau and the NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force, this individual has been apprehended,” she added. 

The suspect faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted. 

The New York incident is one of numerous acts of vandalism against Catholic churches and other faith organizations in recent months and years. 

Last month the faith-based crisis pregnancy center Heartbeat of Miami settled with vandals who graffitied its property after the Supreme Court repealed Roe v. Wade in 2022. 

In February, a vandal defaced a statue of the Blessed Mother in a prayer garden on the grounds of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. 

In April, a vandal in Portland, Oregon, spray-painted a church there with an expletive and the slogan “my body my choice.” The pastor there urged his parish to pray for the vandal. 

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told EWTN News earlier this year that the various acts of vandalism, as well as other, more violent attacks on parishes, “are not random nor are they the result of a temporary lapse in judgment by perpetrators.” 

The senator criticized the Biden administration for failing to pursue and prosecute these attacks. 

“They can’t find a single person or any of these people that were responsible for these, what is a pretty concerted effort to attack Catholic churches in America,” he said.

Former Secret Service agent: Attack on Trump shows ‘It’s a very dangerous world’

Paul Eckloff, a 23-year veteran of the Secret Service who served in the Presidential Protective Division during the George W. Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations, speaks with “EWTN News Nightly” anchor Tracy Sabol on July 15, 2024.  / Credit: “EWTN News Nightly”/screenshot

National Catholic Register, Jul 16, 2024 / 13:20 pm (CNA).

The American public should avoid rushing to judgments before knowing the facts of the assassination attempt on former president Donald Trump, a former Secret Service agent told “EWTN News Nightly” on Monday.

“I assure you, every vulnerability was known, and there were mitigative measures put in place,” said Paul Eckloff, a 23-year veteran of the Secret Service who served in the Presidential Protective Division during the George W. Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations. 

“But, sadly, as we saw on Saturday, no protective plan or operation is perfect,” he added. “They’re designed by men and women, and they can be defeated by them.”

Eckloff said security planning is “not an exact science, and it’s a very dangerous world.” 

He told “EWTN News Nightly” the Secret Service likely only had a few days to prepare for the July 13 Trump rally in Butler, Pennsylvania. He said agents, officers, and technicians meet with local and state law enforcement in the days leading up to events like the rally. 

“President Trump has far more security than the average former president; and as the primary candidate for the Republican Party, he has some assets that others may not — approaching the presidential level of protection,” Eckloff said. 

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a White House press briefing Monday that the security of Trump and President Joe Biden is one of the “most vital priorities” of the Biden administration, the Secret Service, the FBI, and partners within the federal government. 

“Both prior to and after the events of this past weekend, the Secret Service enhanced former president Trump’s protection based on the evolving nature of threats to the former president,” Mayorkas said.

Mayorkas said protective measures at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee this week will include personnel and technology such as anti-scale fencing and screening technology. He also told reporters the FBI is leading a criminal investigation and an independent review to analyze security measures “before, during, and after” the Trump rally in Butler.

Eckloff said he himself has “more questions than the public would ask” about Saturday’s attempted assassination of Trump, but he said eyewitness testimonies can be flawed, particularly when recalling the amount of time passed, referring to the viral BBC interview of a man saying he warned a police officer of the attempted assassin Thomas Matthew Crooks on the roof. Eckloff also explained that an officer cannot leave his post and is limited to communication via radio.

“The questions need to be asked about the security of the building that the shooter scaled and about the police interactions that potentially spurred his rapid action and allowed the counter sniper to neutralize,” Eckloff said. 

The counter-sniper who shot and killed Crooks had only a “split second” to realize Crooks was a threat and shoot him, he told “EWTN News Nightly.”

“I think it’s important for people to understand the superhuman things you’re asking from humans,” he said. “If he had shot an innocent individual trying to get a view of the former president without a weapon, we’d be having a very different conversation.”

He said there “justifiably will be criticisms” regarding the security plan, but he doesn’t believe anyone should question “the dedication and the sacrifice” the men and women in the Secret Service demonstrated at the rally.

“You can ask questions, you can demand better, but to publicly eviscerate the men and women who threw their bodies, who put that vest on — not to save their own lives, but to save former president Trump — I just wish more people would recognize the heroism that we saw on Saturday afternoon,” he said.

Eckloff said former Secret Service agents like himself have a unique response to the deadly events of Saturday evening. 

“What former agents feel is something I don’t know any other American or anybody else on Earth feels,” Eckloff said. “We wish we were there. We wish it happened on our watch because we know that we can add to it, we can help reach and save the former president or president. It’s like we want to dive into the screen and use our bodies to shield the problem.”

Eckloff also said his “heart goes out” to Corey Comperatore, a rally attendee and devout Christian husband and father who was killed shielding his family, comparing his sacrificial actions to that of a Secret Service agent. 

This story was first published by the National Catholic Register, CNA’s sister news partner, and has been adapted by CNA.

Pennsylvania bishop on Trump assassination attempt: ‘Pray for each other’

Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh speaks with anchor Tracy Sabol on “EWTN News Nightly” on July 15, 2024, about the attempted assassination of former president Donald Trump. / Credit: “EWTN News Nightly”/screenshot

CNA Staff, Jul 16, 2024 / 10:35 am (CNA).

In response to the assassination attempt of former president Donald Trump at a rally in western Pennsylvania on Saturday, Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh on Monday called for Americans to “pray for each other.”

The violence, which resulted in the death of a 50-year-old firefighter, happened in Butler just an hour north of Pittsburgh, Zubik’s diocese. 

“I think the devil has been working overtime [to] where we have really become so divided,” Zubik told Tracy Sabol on “EWTN News Nightly” on Monday. “Not only as a country; we become divided as a Church, we become divided in our families. What’s happened as a result of that is rather than seeing the best in each other, we see the worst.”

Zubik noted that this is cause for personal examinations of conscience by Americans, noting that the event shows the effect of “inflammatory rhetoric.”  

“We really got to take the example of Jesus and look for the best in each other and look for the ways in which we can become more unified and when we can, in fact, build up our families, build up our Church, build up our country, build up the world,” he said.

When asked how Catholics should respond to the death of the shooter, a 20-year-old man, Zubik responded: “We’ve got to go to the cross of Calvary.”

“When you think about Jesus hanging on the cross there, he [says] forgive them, Father, that they don’t know what they’re doing,” Zubik explained. “Our Jesus comes to save us all.”

“The fact of it as violence, sin can never be defended,” he continued. “But on the other side of it, there is a God who takes a look at what happens there and wants us to be able to learn something from it that can help our hearts to become much more tender.”

“At the same time, we’ve got to take a look at the mercy that is universally from God and that he’s always offering us the opportunity for forgiveness for whatever wrong we’ve done,” he said. “It seems to me that we have to be able to pray for each other in that, and especially to pray for the young man who did the deed.”

The Vatican released a statement condemning the violence and expressing prayer for the victims, though it did not mention Trump by name. When asked about this, Zubik responded: “I think that the Holy See, and most especially for Francis, is always going to be addressing concerns from the perspective of how can we, universally, become better people.” 

Zubik also cited the importance of the “common good” as a consideration for Catholics who are considering the candidates running for president.

“For all of those things that will, in fact, build up the common good of who we are as a country, who we are as a Church, and especially who we are as individuals — I think that that’s something that people all over the world have to really take a look at,” he noted. 

“But it’s the role of the Church, and certainly of our Holy Father and the rest of us, to be able to move the needle, as it were, in a direction that says we’re really trying to do that, and to do that by respecting life on all of its levels and respecting every single human person,” Zubik said.

12 keys to using the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

null / Credit: NS Natural Queen/Shutterstock

ACI Prensa Staff, Jul 16, 2024 / 04:00 am (CNA).

Pope Pius XII said: “The devotion to the Carmelite scapular has brought down on the world a copious rain of spiritual and temporal graces.”

On the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16, here are 12 keys to explaining the brown scapular and its use:

1. It is not an amulet.

The scapular is not a charm or an automatic guarantee of salvation, nor is it a dispensation from living the demands of the Christian life. St. Claude de la Colombière once said: “You ask, what if I would want to die with my sins? I answer you, then you will die in sin, but you will not die with your scapular.”

2. It was an article of clothing.

The word “scapular” comes from the Latin “scapulae,” which means “shoulders” and was originally an overlapping article of clothing worn over the shoulders by monks at work. The Carmelites adopted it as a sign of special dedication to Our Lady, seeking to imitate her dedication to Christ and neighbor.

3. It is a gift from the Virgin Mary.

According to tradition, the scapular, as it is now known, was given by the Virgin Mary herself to St. Simon Stock on July 16, 1251. Mary told him: “It must be a sign and a privilege for you and for all Carmelites: Whoever dies wearing the scapular will not suffer eternal fire.” Later, the Church extended the use of the scapular to the laity.

4. It is a mini habit.

The scapular is like a miniature Carmelite habit that all devotees can wear as a sign of their consecration to the Virgin Mary. It consists of a string that is worn around the neck with two small pieces of brown cloth attached. One is placed on the chest and the other on the back, and it is usually worn underneath clothing.

5. It is a service uniform.

St. Alphonsus Liguori, a doctor of the Church, said: “Just as men are proud that others wear their uniform, so Our Lady, Mother Mary, is pleased when her servants wear their scapular as proof that they have dedicated themselves to her service, and they are members of the family of the Mother of God.”

6. It has three meanings.

The scapular stands for the maternal love and protection of Mary, for belonging to Mary, and for the gentle yoke of Christ that she helps us to bear.

7. It is a sacramental.

The brown scapular is recognized by the Church as a sacramental — that is, a sign that helps us to live a holy life and to increase our devotion. The scapular does not impart grace as the sacraments do, but it disposes the person wearing it to the love of the Lord and to repentance if it is received with devotion.

8. It can be given to a non-Catholic.

A dying man was reportedly brought to St. Simon Stock Hospital in New York City. A nurse noticed he was wearing the brown scapular and called a priest. As prayers were said over him, the man regained consciousness and told the priest that he wasn’t Catholic but wore the scapular as a promise to his friends. The priest asked the man if he wanted to become Catholic, and before he died the man received baptism and anointing of the sick.

9. It was seen in one of the Fatima apparitions.

Lucia, the visionary of Our Lady of Fatima, reported that in her last apparition (October 1917), Mary appeared with the Carmelite habit, the scapular in her hand, and said that her true children wear it with reverence. Mary also asked that those who consecrate themselves to her wear it as a sign of that consecration.

10. The scapular has been discovered undamaged after burial.

Blessed Pope Gregory X was buried with his scapular and, 600 years later when his tomb was opened, the object was intact. Something similar happened with St. Alphonsus Liguori. St. John Bosco and St. John Paul II also wore the scapular, and St. Peter Claver vested the scapular with those he converted.

11. There’s a preferred way to receive the scapular.

The imposition of the scapular should preferably be done in community, and in the ceremony the spiritual meaning and commitment to the Blessed Virgin should be clearly expressed. The first scapular must be blessed by a priest and placed on the devotee while reciting the following prayer:

“Receive this blessed scapular and ask the Most Holy Virgin Mary, on her merits, that you may wear it without any stain of sin and that she guard you from all adversity and bring you unto everlasting life.”

12. Only the first scapular you receive needs to be blessed.

When the first scapular one receives is blessed, the devotee does not need to ask subsequent scapulars to be blessed. Those that are worn out, if they were blessed, should not be thrown away but should be burned or buried, as is suitable for sacramentals.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Providas saludan avance de ley para transparentar el financiamiento de las ONG en Paraguay

La abogada Dannia Ríos Nacif, fundadora del Movimiento por la Vida y Familia de Paraguay, saludó la media sanción de un proyecto de ley que busca transparentar la financiación de las organizaciones no gubernamentales (ONG) en el país, muchas de las cuales promueven el aborto y la ideología de género.

Una peregrinación familiar: Estos católicos de Wisconsin se preparan para el Congreso Eucarístico Nacional de EEUU

La familia McKinney de Barneveld, Wisconsin (Estados Unidos), que disfrutó de participar en la Peregrinación Eucarística Nacional, está emocionada con la idea de asistir al Congreso Eucarístico Nacional de Estados Unidos.

La profecía que se cumplió con estas 16 mártires carmelitas en la Revolución Francesa

Cada 17 de julio se recuerda a 16 mártires carmelitas, quienes cumplieron una profecía que se había anunciado unos 100 años antes en Francia.

Cardenal mexicano pide al Papa Francisco que no prohíba la Misa tradicional en latín

Un cardenal mexicano ha escrito al Papa Francisco implorándole que no prohíba la Misa tradicional en latín o Misa tridentina, ante los rumores de que el Vaticano podría restringir aún más la antigua liturgia.