Browsing News Entries

Shock, despair and mourning in Aleppo amid 'terror' of the earthquake, local bishops say

It seemed that 12 years of a bloody war should have been enough tragedy for the people of Aleppo and other Syrian cities. But in the early hours of Feb. 6, a devastating earthquake struck northwestern Syria, killing 1,500 as of 5 a.m. Eastern on Feb. 7.

Spain's Catholic Church 'soul-searching' after 3 years under progressive government

Spain's Catholic bishops criticize the country's far-left government for their agenda, which they say is "marked by individualism, gender ideology and the absence of God." 

'An edifice of lies': How climate denial and religion kickstarted Alberta's oilsands

The new book, 'The Petroleum Papers: Inside The Far Right Conspiracy To Cover Up Climate Change,' traces the oil and gas industry's pursuit of profits in the face of scientific warnings.

Don't skip to Catholicism's answers: First teach youth to ask philosophical questions

Teaching young people what to believe rather than teaching them how to think about life and to arrive at the conclusions themselves usually has the reverse of the intended effect, argues Stephen Adubato.

Francis, the comic strip

Francis, the comic strip: Francis is worn out from his latest papal trip.

Anglican Church reports synod member to police for tweeting ‘hate speech’

A view of a Pride flag hanging from Peterborough Cathedral in 2019 / Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Feb 6, 2023 / 15:45 pm (CNA).

As Church of England leaders meet in a contentious synod over whether to bless same-sex unions, tensions escalated when a diocese reported a lay synod member to police for “hate speech.” 

The Diocese of Coventry announced reported synod member Sam Margrave to the police after he reportedly posted his beliefs that same-sex relationships are sinful. The diocese is part of the Anglican communion and not in communion with the Catholic Church.

Margarve has been a vocal critic of Anglican Church leaders who want to bless homosexual unions and those who want to go further and perform marriages for homosexual couples.

Bishop Christopher Cocksworth of the Diocese of Coventry informed Margrave that they had reported him to the police, according to a news release from the United Kingdom-based Christian advocacy group Christian Concern. 

“The diocesan secretary has had no option, in view of a number of complaints received, [but] to report your offending tweets to the West Midlands Police and is in continuing conversation with them,” the correspondence read. 

“[The police] have advised her that they have been able to speak to you but that you continue to deny you have done anything wrong.”

When contacted by CNA, the diocese forwarded its statement condemning Margrave but refused to comment further on its decision to report him to the police. 

In its statement, the diocese wrote that “everyone has the right to feel safe when interacting online” and encouraged people to read an information sheet that includes information about how to receive mental health support and report supposed hate speech to social media companies and local police. 

“We are extremely sorry when an individual makes comments that fall short of the social media guidelines published by the Church of England and fails to behave in a way fitting of their office as a member of Synod,” the statement read. 

“We continue to take all the appropriate action available to us, including reporting the matter to external agencies, and are working to introduce a Code of Conduct with sanctions for non-compliance to our own Synod. We have not taken these actions lightly and have only done so in view of the sheer number of complaints received from third parties, and only after other avenues have been exhausted, including repeated offers of support to the individual concerned.”

Mexican court rules against pro-family leader who called a trans woman legislator a man

Member of Mexico Congress Salma Luévano. / Credit: Chamber of Deputies of the Congress of the Union

ACI Prensa Staff, Feb 6, 2023 / 15:15 pm (CNA).

The Specialized Chamber of the Electoral Tribunal of the Federal Judiciary in Mexico has ruled against the National Front for the Family (FNF) and its president, Rodrigo Iván Cortés, for calling Salma Luévano, a “trans” woman congressional representative, a “man.”

In a Feb. 2 statement, the court said that Cortés and the FNF “committed political violence against women based on gender due to various posts on social media and the internet against the federal congresswoman, Salma Luévano, and trans women.”

To the Specialized Chamber, “the reported expressions were offensive and discriminatory by rejecting the gender identity and devaluing the performance of the federal congresswoman, which constituted digital, symbolic, psychological, and sexual violence against her.”

“Consequently, a fine was imposed on the aforementioned association as well as on its president; in addition, the publication of a retraction of the sentence was ordered [to be posted] on the social media on which the offense was committed, the issuance of a public apology, and other comprehensive reparation measures and guarantees of non-repetition,” the statement added.

This ruling is the most recent episode in a controversy that arose after Luévano, a member of the National Regeneration Movement (Morena) political party of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, showed up in the Federal Congress on Sept. 21, 2022, wearing clothing similar to that of a Catholic bishop.

On that occasion, Luévano announced a bill to reform the Law on Religious Associations and Public Worship, which would allow churches that, according to the bill’s criteria, spread “hate speech,” to be penalized.

“The full weight of the law [must fall on] those leaders who incite hatred against us until [our] dignity becomes the norm,” said Luévano, who wore a miter and a red chasuble.

The National Front for the Family, along with the Citizens Initiative platform, charged in a social media post that “the transsexual deputy [legislator] Salma Luévano” by his actions “offends the believers of a religion but insults all of Christianity.” 

Cortés later said in a video that Luévano is “a man who describes himself as a woman, who demands respect, but it is exactly what he does not give, he asks for what he does not give, with tremendous disrespect.”

These and other posts critical of Luévano were deleted from social media by order of the Grievances and Complaints Commission of the National Electoral Institute in November 2022.

The verdict of the Specialized Chamber against Cortés and the FNF could be appealed to the Superior Chamber of Electoral Tribunal of the Federal Judiciary, whose mission, according to its website, is “to resolve controversies in electoral matters, protect the political-electoral rights of male and female citizens, and administer justice in the electoral sphere.”

The Superior Chamber ruled last year against Congressman Gabriel Quadri from the opposition National Action Party for criticizing “trans” congressmen occupying spaces reserved for women in the Congress of the Union (i.e., federal congress).

Based on the notion of “parity” added to the constitution in recent years, state agencies in Mexico must aim to be made up of 50% men and 50% women. That includes both houses of the Congress of the Union, Mexico’s national legislature.

According to the court ruling, Quadri’s name must remain for two years and nine months in the “National Registry of Persons Sanctioned in Matters of Political Violence against Women based on Gender.”

Months prior, Quadri was sanctioned by the National Action Party’s Platform Committee for calling Salma Luévano “sir.”

The verdict against Cortés and the FNF was criticized by well-known pro-life and pro-family politician Juan Carlos Leal, a former state representative from Nuevo León.

In response, Salma Luévano taunted “@CarlosLealMx you want to end up like the transphobes of @gquadri and @rodrigoivanc: suspended of their political-electoral rights.”

In his posts, Luévano used ungrammatical gender-neutral endings to words that in Spanish have either masculine or feminine endings.

‘We are already in a gender dictatorship’

In a statement to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, Leal pointed out that Luévano is a “man who perceives himself as a woman and who is taking the place of a woman in the Congress of the Union.”

“We are already in a gender dictatorship. It’s a dictatorship where if you think differently, and if you mention a biological truth, that sex cannot be changed, you can now be fined by an electoral authority,” he criticized.

Leal pointed out that it ought to be determined in the legal system “if this electoral authority has the jurisdiction to penalize anyone for this kind of situation.”

For the Mexican pro-family politician, “it’s unfortunate that we are already living through a gender dictatorship imposed by the progressive and left-wing governments that have ruled the country.”

“We really require a change now, we need a right-wing party to be formed now, that a right-wing government be formed, and we hope that this will be very soon,” he said.

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

The ‘Four Chaplains,’ selfless heroes of WWII, honored on 80th anniversary of their deaths

The Four Chaplains — Father John P. Washington, a Catholic priest (pictured above); Rev. George L. Fox, a Methodist minister; Rabbi Alexander D. Goode; and Rev. Clark V. Poling, a Reformed Church in America minister — gave their life jackets to save others when their ship was torpedoed in the frigid North Atlantic in 1943. / Archdiocese of Newark/Sean Quinn

St. Louis, Mo., Feb 6, 2023 / 14:36 pm (CNA).

A crowd of military veterans, their families, and Boy Scouts filled a New Jersey parish church on Sunday to honor the “Four Chaplains” — a band of men of different faiths who all sacrificed their lives to save others on the torpedoed U.S.A.T. Dorchester 80 years ago. 

“Most of us will never die a hero’s death… But all of us are called by the idea of faith to, day in and day out, give of ourselves,” said Bishop Gregory J. Studerus, an Archdiocese of Newark auxiliary bishop, who presided over the Feb. 5 Mass. 

“Day in and day out we look for ways of being generous, ways of being kind, ways of reaching out and touching the heart of those who are sad and mourning, reaching out and touching those who are oppressed. And sometimes [we go] as far as the ones we honor today, giving our lives because of faith.” 

Newark Auxiliary Bishop Gregory J. Studerus of held up the Four Chaplains’ sacrifice as the ultimate sign of faith during the Four Chaplains 80th Anniversary Mass at St. Stephen’s Church in Kearny, New Jersey, on Feb. 5, 2023. Credit: Archdiocese of Newark/Sean Quinn
Newark Auxiliary Bishop Gregory J. Studerus of held up the Four Chaplains’ sacrifice as the ultimate sign of faith during the Four Chaplains 80th Anniversary Mass at St. Stephen’s Church in Kearny, New Jersey, on Feb. 5, 2023. Credit: Archdiocese of Newark/Sean Quinn

The Four Chaplains — Father John P. Washington, a Catholic priest; Rev. George L. Fox, a Methodist minister; Rabbi Alexander D. Goode; and Rev. Clark V. Poling, a Reformed Church in America minister — gave their life jackets to save others when their ship was torpedoed in the frigid North Atlantic in 1943. 

The Mass commemorating the 80th anniversary of the chaplains’ sacrifice took place at St. Stephen’s Church in Kearney, New Jersey — the last parish where Washington served before being dispatched for war. 

The Feb. 5 ceremonies featured a presentation of colors featuring veterans organizations, Boy Scouts, and the Knights of Columbus. A group of Boy Scouts received special Four Chaplains patches after completing an educational program designed by St. Stephen’s Boy Scout Unit 305 in honor of the 80th anniversary.

Several veterans’ organizations, including the Marine Corps League, participated in a presentation of colors to begin the Four Chaplains 80th Anniversary Mass at St. Stephen’s Church in Kearny, New Jersey, on Feb. 5, 2023. Credit: Archdiocese of Newark/Sean Quinn
Several veterans’ organizations, including the Marine Corps League, participated in a presentation of colors to begin the Four Chaplains 80th Anniversary Mass at St. Stephen’s Church in Kearny, New Jersey, on Feb. 5, 2023. Credit: Archdiocese of Newark/Sean Quinn

Washington, Fox, Goode, and Poling, all first lieutenants, met in 1942, having been inspired to sign up as military chaplains after Pearl Harbor. Their vessel, the Dorchester, a troop ship bound for a U.S. military base in Greenland, was struck by a U-boat torpedo in the early morning hours of Feb. 3, 1943. Washington had celebrated Mass just hours before the hit and began to offer absolution. 

The chaplains calmly assisted and encouraged numerous civilians and soldiers, offering them their own life jackets as the terrified crowd sped to the lifeboats. 

“When giving their life jackets, Rabbi Goode did not call out for a Jew; Father Washington did not call out for a Catholic; nor did the Reverends Fox and Poling call out for a Protestant. They simply gave their life jackets to the next man in line,” a history from the Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation noted. 

The chaplains themselves all stayed behind as the ship capsized and sank in just 20 minutes. They joined more than 670 of their peers as they perished, reportedly with locked arms and hymns on their lips. 

Many of the 230 survivors lauded the chaplains’ selfless actions. At one point, Petty Officer John J. Mahoney remembered returning to his cabin to find his gloves. Rabbi Goode stopped him, saying, “Never mind. I have two pairs,” and handed him some — Mahoney later realized the rabbi had given him his only pair. 

One eyewitness, John Ladd, said as reported by Columbia magazine: “It was the finest thing I have seen or hope to see this side of heaven.”

The St. Columcille United Gaelic Pipe Band performed “Amazing Grace” at the Four Chaplains 80th Anniversary Mass at St. Stephen’s Church in Kearny, New Jersey, on Feb. 5, 2023. Credit: Archdiocese of Newark/Sean Quinn
The St. Columcille United Gaelic Pipe Band performed “Amazing Grace” at the Four Chaplains 80th Anniversary Mass at St. Stephen’s Church in Kearny, New Jersey, on Feb. 5, 2023. Credit: Archdiocese of Newark/Sean Quinn

“The Four Chaplains did something without hesitation that a lot of us would at least pause to think about before doing,” said Father Joe Mancini, pastor of St. Stephen’s Church, this week. 

“They selflessly acted out of faith in God and a need to help others. They were true heroes, and it’s important to look to them at a time when so many people are only thinking about themselves. That’s the goal of this Mass and everything else we do at the parish — we want to keep the Four Chaplains at the forefront of people’s minds even 80 years later.”

In 1944, all four men posthumously received the Distinguished Service Cross and Purple Heart, and in 1948 a U.S. postage stamp was issued in their honor bearing the words “These Immortal Chaplains.” Then, in 1988, a unanimous act of Congress established Feb. 3 as the annual Four Chaplains Day, Columbia reported. 

Police say church vandal was about to break into tabernacle — until he saw the statue of Mary

Jerrid Farnam, 32, has been charged with several felonies in connection with a violent vandalism at Subiaco Abbey in Subiaco, Arkansas, on Jan. 5, 2023. He said he was about to begin breaking open the tabernacle where the consecrated bread is kept, but something stopped him in his tracks: a statue of the Virgin Mary. / Credit: Logan County Sheriff's Office / Suzanne Stratford YouTube screen shot

Boston, Mass., Feb 6, 2023 / 13:55 pm (CNA).

In early January, a man entered a Benedictine monastery in Arkansas and began smashing the altar with a sledgehammer.

He was about to begin breaking open the tabernacle where the consecrated bread is kept, but something stopped him in his tracks: a statue of the Virgin Mary.

Jerrid Farnam, 32, of Sallisaw, Oklahoma, was arrested for the crimes of property damage and theft committed at Subiaco Abbey in Subiaco, Arkansas, and is currently incarcerated awaiting trial.

Sheriff Jason Massey of the Logan County Sheriff’s Office told CNA that when they brought the suspect in he confessed to the crime. But, Farnam told the police, after he looked up and saw a statue of Mary, he couldn’t continue to break open the tabernacle as he had planned to do.

“He decided he just couldn’t do it,” Massey said. “I think he felt it was wrong at that point.”

Subiaco Abbey had reported that on Jan. 5, a man using “a regular hammer and sledgehammer/axe” began destroying the abbey’s marble altar by smashing it in different places. Founded in 1878, Subiaco is home to a community of 39 Benedictine monks.

The suspect left a gaping hole in the top of the altar and broke open stones that contain relics, the abbey said. Two reliquaries — small, brass-colored boxes that each contained three relics of saints from more than 1,500 years ago — were stolen, according to the Logan County Sheriff’s Office.

Father Elijah Owens, OSB, the abbot of the monastery, told CNA in January that the relics contained in one of the reliquaries were those of St. Boniface, St. Tiberius, and St. Benedict of Nursia.

The other reliquary contained the relics of St. Tiberius, St. Marcellus, and St. Justina, Owens said.

A video of the damage can be seen below.

The abbey said in its press release that the man approached the tabernacle and removed a cross located on top as well as the tabernacle’s veil before being “interrupted.”

Farnam was arrested the same day and three of the relics were found in his truck.

At the time, the reliquary containing the relics of St. Tiberius, St. Marcellus, and St. Justina was still missing. The sheriff’s office later discovered them in a trash can in Farnam’s father’s house. 

Farnam gave the reliquary to his father, who, unaware of the nature of the objects, threw the contents of the container in the trash, while keeping the container for himself, the sheriff said.

“Luckily there was no food or anything on them. They were found in great condition,” he added.

Massey said that one of the seven offenses Farnam was charged with was theft of property, a Class B felony, which is the highest classification of a felony in the state, he said.

“You can’t put a price on those relics. They’re 1,500 years old,” he said.

Farnam thought that Jesus’ bones were in the altar and that God was telling him to remove the bones, Massey told CNA. He added that Farnam has a history of substance abuse and was intoxicated during his arrest. 

The abbey is under repairs, and a portable altar will now be used until repairs are made, according to the abbey’s press release.

AP tells reporters to call crisis pregnancy centers ‘anti-abortion centers’

null / Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Feb 6, 2023 / 13:21 pm (CNA).

The Associated Press (AP) issued new guidelines advising reporters not to use the terms “crisis pregnancy center” or “pregnancy resource center” but to instead refer to centers that offer pro-life counseling and support as “anti-abortion centers.”

Reporters should “avoid potentially misleading terms such as pregnancy resource centers or pregnancy counseling centers,” because “these terms don’t convey that the centers’ general aim is to prevent abortions,” according to the AP’s Abortion Topical Guide.

The AP publishes the most widely used style guide, which journalists and editors across the country look to determine proper rules for coverage. According to the Daily Signal, the AP made the rule change in November 2022.

In its updated guidance, the AP states that though the centers provide “counseling, material support and/or housing,” because their purpose is to “divert or discourage women from having abortions” they should be labeled “anti-abortion centers.”

The new AP policy suggests the term “crisis pregnancy center” be used only if placed within quotation marks and if it is explained that its purpose is to “dissuade people from getting an abortion.”

The AP instructs reporters to frame the abortion debate as “anti-abortion” or “abortion rights” and to not use the term “pro-life” or “pro-choice.”

Reporters are also advised not to talk about a fetal heartbeat when referring to laws that ban abortion after a detectable heartbeat. Rather, the guide says, they should use the term “cardiac activity” as “the embryo isn’t yet a fetus and it has only begun forming a rudimentary heart.”

“The Associated Press shows itself to be tongue-tied with political correctness in trying to finesse how to explain organizations dedicated to public service,” Kristi Hamrick, chief media and policy strategist at Students for Life of America, told CNA.

“Without any sense of irony, they want to call Pregnancy Resource Centers ‘anti-abortion centers,’ diminishing the love and support such nonprofits offer to mothers and their children, born and preborn,” Hamrick said. “With that logic, hospitals must be ‘anti-death centers’ and our food support through the federal government named ‘anti-starving’ programs.”

Crisis pregnancy centers, which typically offer pregnant women and families free resources and baby materials, have faced a spate of attacks, vandalism, and acts of intimidation since May 2022, when the Supreme Court draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked.

According to the Family Research Council, more than 100 pregnancy centers, churches, and pro-life organizations have been attacked or vandalized.

See CNA’s coverage of the attacks against pregnancy resource centers and pro-life groups and churches below.

Some Democratic politicians, such as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, have called for a “crackdown” on crisis pregnancy centers. In an August 2022 speech on the U.S. Senate floor, Warren decried pregnancy centers as “organizations that deliberately deceive women and girls who are seeking help to terminate a pregnancy.”

In another viral video, Warren said pregnancy centers “torture” pregnant women and called for them to be shut down across the nation.