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Posted on 09/28/2023 16:34 PM (National Catholic Reporter)
Posted on 09/28/2023 16:32 PM (CNA Daily News)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 28, 2023 / 13:32 pm (CNA).
Conspicuously absent from the second Republican presidential primary debate this week: much talk on abortion politics and policy.
After occupying a sizable portion of the first debate in August, the issue was only discussed for brief minutes near the end of Wednesday’s event, wedged in between discussions on the size of the federal government and the GOP’s challenges with Latino voters.
Only Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were given the chance to speak on abortion — with DeSantis offering a vocal defense of pro-life beliefs before confirming that he would support a national 15-week ban on the procedure.
Responding to a question from moderator Dana Perino as to how he might “win over independent pro-choice voters,” DeSantis cited his landslide reelection victory in Florida in 2022 after he signed a 15-week abortion ban in that state.
“We won the greatest Republican victory in a governor’s race in the history of the state, over 1.5 million votes,” he said. He claimed the major victory came about “because we were leading with purpose and conviction.”
DeSantis criticized remarks earlier this year from former President Donald Trump, who said Republican intractability on abortion was responsible for the GOP’s underperformance in the 2022 midterms.
“It was the ‘abortion issue,’ poorly handled by many Republicans, especially those that firmly insisted on no exceptions, even in the case of rape, incest, or life of the mother, that lost large numbers of voters,” Trump wrote on Truth Social in January.
DeSantis on Wednesday night disputed this assertion. “I reject this idea that pro-lifers are to blame for midterm defeats,” DeSantis said. “I think there’s other reasons for that.”
The GOP governor said he and his wife, Casey, had earlier in the day visited the graves of former President Ronald Reagan and former First Lady Nancy Reagan. That memorial site features a quote from Reagan in which the Republican president asserted that there is “purpose and worth to each and every life.”
“We’re better off when everybody counts, and I think we should stand for what we believe in,” DeSantis said Wednesday night.
“I think we should hold the Democrats accountable for their extremism, supporting abortion all the way up until the moment of birth,” he added. “That is infanticide and that is wrong.”
Directly after those remarks, DeSantis confirmed that if elected president he would seek a 15-week nationwide ban on abortion.
When asked by fellow primary contender Sen. Tim Scott if he would support that federal policy, DeSantis — in a hurried moment filled with crosstalk — responded: “Yes, I will.”
DeSantis’ campaign later confirmed to the Daily Signal that he had indeed affirmed his support for a 15-week ban.
The governor earlier this year signed a six-week abortion ban in Florida, an even stricter policy than that which he signed last year.
Just a few contenders for the GOP nomination have come out in support of a federal 15-week ban. DeSantis had previously refused to say if he’d support that policy; Nikki Haley, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, and former Vice President Mike Pence have all previously voiced support for such a ban.
Trump has dodged the question of a federal ban as he ramps up his 2024 campaign. Speaking to NBC News’ Kristen Welker earlier this month, he said that “from a legal standpoint,” it’s “probably better” if abortion is only regulated at the state level. “But I can live with it either way,” he said.
“Something is going to happen,” he told Welker. “It’s going to be a number of weeks. Something is going to happen where both sides are going to be able to come together.” The former president further described DeSantis’ six-week ban in Florida as “a terrible thing and a terrible mistake.”
DeSantis’ campaign did not immediately respond to a query on Thursday morning.
Aside from DeSantis, Christie was the only other contender to speak at length about abortion.
The longtime Republican noted that he had repeatedly vetoed Planned Parenthood funding while governor of New Jersey, though he also said that he “believe[s] in states’ rights,” arguing that Republicans “fought hard against Roe v. Wade for decades to say that states should make these decisions.”
Christie said that the Republican candidate for president cannot be pro-life “just [for] the nine months in the womb.” He cited the need for widespread drug addiction treatment in the U.S.
“If you’re pro-life you’ve got to be pro-life for the entire life,” he said.
Posted on 09/28/2023 15:11 PM (CNA Daily News)
Vatican City, Sep 28, 2023 / 12:11 pm (CNA).
Cardinal-elect Stephen Chow said Thursday that evangelization in China today should focus on communicating the love of God “without the agenda of turning them into Catholics.”
In an interview in Rome with CNA on Sept. 28, the bishop of Hong Kong, who will be made a cardinal in the consistory this weekend, spoke about his vision for evangelization in mainland China.
“I think it is important that we say that Pope Francis made a distinction. Evangelization is really to help people to understand the love of God — and the love of God without the agenda of turning them into Catholics — because that shouldn’t be the focus, as that focus would be very restrictive,” Chow said.
The cardinal-elect underlined that evangelization should help “them to come to understand our God means love, means goodwill and a better life.”
“Evangelization should be really coming to know God, who is love,” he said.
In Pope Francis’ travels to countries where Catholics are in the minority, the pope has made a distinction between “proselytism” and “evangelization.”
“Evangelization is essentially witness,” Francis told the Jesuits in Mozambique in 2019. “Proselytizing is convincing, but it is all about membership and takes your freedom away.”
During a Jan. 11. 2023, general audience, Pope Francis emphasized that evangelization and proselytism are not the same.
“And it does not begin by trying to convince others, but by witnessing every day to the beauty of the Love that has looked upon us and lifted us up,” he said of evangelization.
Francis recalled a line from a homily given by Pope Benedict XVI at a meeting of Latin American and Caribbean bishops in Aparecida, Brazil, in 2007: “The Church does not engage in proselytism. Instead, she grows by ‘attraction.’”
“Do not forget this,” Pope Francis added, calling Christians who proselytize “pagans dressed as Christians.”
The pope has also praised Venerable Matteo Ricci, a 16th-century Jesuit missionary and scholar, for his “proclamation of the Gospel” in China by proposing “the truth of the Christian faith and morality.”
The Chinese people have faced increased restrictions on religious freedom in the last decade. Catholic priests are only allowed to minister in recognized places of worship, which minors under the age of 18 are not allowed to enter.
Earlier this month, the Chinese government implemented new “Measures on the Management of Religious Activity Sites,” which ban the display of religious symbols outdoors, require preaching to “reflect core socialist values,” and limit all religious activities to government-approved religious venues, according to China Aid.
Despite the restrictions, two bishops from mainland China have been permitted to travel to Rome to participate in the Synod on Synodality assembly in October.
Chow is also a synod delegate, personally nominated by Pope Francis to take part in the nearly monthlong assembly. He said that he is “excited that the laypeople, men and women, and religious, are represented as full voting members.”
The cardinal-elect has led the Diocese of Hong Kong since December 2021. Chow said that one of the biggest challenges facing Hong Kong Catholics is how “to provide good moral education … so that we have moral citizens.”
He underlined the importance of formation in the parishes so that laypeople can evangelize outside of the parish.
“Evangelization is to your social community. Each parish is connected to your social community. We need to go out, get out of our parish, and really to connect with the social community and serve them,” he said.
Posted on 09/28/2023 14:41 PM (CNA Daily News)
CNA Staff, Sep 28, 2023 / 11:41 am (CNA).
Jim Irsay, the owner of the Indianapolis Colts football team, announced this week that he is donating $5 million to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago in honor of his late cousin, Sister Joyce Dura.
Irsay, a billionaire businessman who grew up in the Chicago area, praised his cousin’s service to others during her time as a religious sister.
“Sister Joyce spent a half-century giving back to others, so with this gift I only hope to emulate my dear cousin’s spirit, grace, and her commitment to our communities,” Irsay said as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times.
Catholic Charities Chicago is the official charitable arm of the Church in the country’s third-largest city, which is home to more than 2 million Catholics. The organization said it serves more than 350,000 free meals each year to people in need.
“We are delighted and honored by the Irsay family’s generosity to us,” Sally Blount, Catholic Charities Chicago president and CEO, said in a Sept. 26 statement.
“Jim and his family’s compassion for those we accompany and serve combined with their vision for honoring his cousin, Sister Joyce Dura, and her life’s mission — it’s all quite extraordinary.”
Sister Joyce, a member of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, entered the convent in 1965 and devoted the next nearly 50 years to her religious life. Sister Joyce served at several medical centers in Illinois in a variety of roles including nursing, social service, and pastoral care. She died in 2014 at age 71, the Sun-Times reported.
Catholic Charities said in light of the gift, the organization’s five-night-a-week supper program at its headquarters in the River North district of Chicago will be known as the “Sister Joyce Dura, OSF, Supper Program” through 2033.
Irsay, who has struggled with mental health and addiction over the years and now runs a foundation to support mental health, was raised Catholic and declared when accepting the AFC Championship trophy on behalf of the Colts in 2007: “As the humble leader of this organization, we’re giving all the glory to God right now.”
The coach of the Colts that year — who led the team to a Super Bowl win — was Tony Dungy, an outspoken Christian and pro-life activist. After winning the game, the team’s late Catholic chaplain remembered the team gathering in the locker room and ending the day with prayer. Though the chaplain normally led the prayers, Dungy offered to conclude it “because of his deep faith.”
Posted on 09/28/2023 14:05 PM (CNA Daily News)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 28, 2023 / 11:05 am (CNA).
Republican lawmakers are working to overturn a federal rule they say would punish schools that don’t follow the White House’s guidance on transgender protections by cutting funding for school meals.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) updated its anti-discrimination rules last year to prohibit discrimination based on a person’s transgender status. The new rule will apply to the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services and provide an avenue for transgender students to file discrimination complaints with the agency.
Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, and Rep. Scott Franklin, R-Florida, filed resolutions in their respective legislative chambers to overturn this rule. Per the Congressional Review Act, Congress has the authority to eliminate the new rule if both chambers pass a resolution asserting congressional disapproval.
Marshall, Franklin, and other Republican lawmakers co-sponsoring the resolutions have warned that the rule could cause schools to lose federal funding for lunch programs for impoverished students in schools that separate sports, bathrooms, and locker rooms based on biological sex, regardless of the student’s self-proclaimed transgender identity.
“In Joe Biden’s America, public schools must support Democrats’ radical transgender movement or they’re at risk of losing substantial funding,” Marshall said in a statement his office provided to CNA. “This president is relentless in forcing his misaligned values on the American people and children.”
“We must stop this policy dead in its tracks to protect access to school lunches for students across the country and send a clear message to this administration: stop weaponizing the federal government in your pursuit of indoctrinating children,” Marshall added. “The USDA has NO authority to require biological boys to be given access to girls’ bathrooms and locker rooms, nor do they have the power to allow biological boys to compete against biological girls in girls’ sports.”
In a statement provided by his office to CNA, Franklin accused President Joe Biden’s administration of using “school lunch as leverage in a political game to intimidate school systems into adopting their woke agenda.”
“We’ve worked hard in Florida to kick progressive culture wars out of the classroom and keep parents in charge,” Franklin said. “We don’t co-parent with the federal government. The USDA does not have the authority to impose LGBTQ ideology and dangerous social experiments like shared bathrooms and locker rooms on local schools. I thank my colleagues for joining me to hold the Biden administration accountable for this abuse of power.”
The USDA has consistently rejected the claim that the new rule would threaten school lunch funding based on these policies and has insisted that the rule simply ensures that students do not face discrimination based on their gender identity in their efforts to access lunch assistance.
“Some have incorrectly suggested that there is a link between this update and state laws unrelated to FNS programs, such as those dealing with gender identity and sports participation,” Stacy Dean, the deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services at the USDA, said in a September 2022 statement.
“That is not accurate — this update is specific to the federal nutrition assistance programs,” Dean added. “Others have suggested that this could result in loss of program funding. However, this action is about ensuring everyone has access to our programs, not reducing funding. When processing complaints, our goal is always to reach voluntary compliance. We strive to resolve issues by working directly with program operators and aim to ensure all program participants can continue to be fed.”
Could this affect Catholic schools?
Nonpublic schools that are affiliated with a particular religion, such as Catholic schools, are not subject to the USDA’s implementation of the anti-discrimination policies if the rule conflicts with the religious tenets of the school.
Catholic and other religious schools will not be required to submit a written request for an exemption but are allowed to request a formal USDA recognition if they choose to, according to guidance issued by the USDA.
Posted on 09/28/2023 13:18 PM (CNA Daily News)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 28, 2023 / 10:18 am (CNA).
Wenceslaus I is known by many titles: king, warrior, saint. Yet he is by far most popularly known as “Good King Wenceslas” in one of the most beloved Christmas carols of the 20th century.
During his time, he was a beloved Bohemian prince and now he is the patron saint of the Czech Republic. Despite being remembered most during the Christmas season, however, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Wenceslaus, who lived 903–935 A.D., on Sept. 28.
The carol, which has been sung by such beloved stars as Bing Crosby and continues to be performed by Christmas choirs around the world, is still a very popular Christmas tune today.
The song tells the story of how on the feast of St. Stephen (Dec. 26), Wenceslaus, though a mighty ruler, was moved by the sight of a poor, freezing peasant and braved a bitter winter night’s cold to go out and care for him.
In the carol, Wenceslaus does not disdain to dine with a lowly peasant, being concerned only with the welfare and safety of the poor man.
By some supernatural power, the holy king’s very footsteps warm his young page’s path as they trek through the snow to help the peasant. The ode concludes with the beautiful Christian message that by giving without regard for oneself, one receives so much more.
In a way, the carol can be said to encapsulate the miraculous, even magical, spirit of Christmas itself.
When Wenceslaus’ page finds he can no longer endure the cruelness of the bitter night, the saint tells him to follow in his footsteps:
“Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how
I can go no longer.”
“Mark my footsteps, good my page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shall find the winter’s rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly.”
By this, Wenceslaus both helps the poor peasant and teaches his page that by boldly doing God’s will, one will find the warmth and peace to go on. In other words, by walking in the path of God through self-sacrifice and abandonment to God’s will, one finds comfort and joy.
Though the exact facts that led to the song’s creation are lost to history, Wenceslaus was indeed beloved by his people and renowned in his day as a pious and generous noble.
He was actually a duke and was given the title of “king” posthumously by Holy Roman Emperor Otto I.
Wenceslaus was born less than a hundred years after Sts. Cyril and Methodius first brought Christianity to Bohemia and the Slavic lands. His father, Duke Wratislaw, was Catholic while his mother, Princess Dragomir, was a practicing pagan.
Educated in the faith by his grandmother, who also became a canonized saint, St. Ludmilla, Wenceslaus grew to become a defender and promoter of the Catholic faith.
After the death of his father, Wenceslaus, though still very young, was faced with a political and spiritual crisis. His mother turned on the Catholic Church, purging Catholics from public office, closing churches, and preventing all Christian preaching.
While Wenceslaus could have chosen the path of less resistance and went along with his mother’s anti-Christian schemes, he chose to defy her and use his position to defend the Catholic faith.
The end result of the struggle was that Wenceslaus ruled one half of the realm, while his mother and brother, Boleslaus, who also hated the Catholic faith, ruled the other half.
Wenceslaus, who would have preferred to become a monk and not a duke, fortified himself in this struggle through fervent prayer, extreme asceticism, charitable service, and a vow of chastity. He is said to have built many churches throughout Bohemia and took extensive actions to care for the widowed, poor, and orphaned.
Meanwhile, his mother carried out a plot to kill Ludmilla, having her strangled in her private chapel. St. Ludmilla’s feast day is Sept. 16.
The Bohemian duke also faced the threat of invasion from abroad. When Prince Radislaus of Gurima demanded that Bohemia submit to his rule, Wenceslaus, seeking to avoid a war, challenged him to single combat. It is said that two angels appeared during the duel, deflecting the javelin thrown at Wenceslaus and immediately inspiring Radislaus to drop to his knees in surrender.
Just as his strict morals and Christian piety inspired the love of his subjects, it also further incited the hatred of his brother and some nobles who sought to subvert Wenceslaus’ rule.
Finally, on Sept. 28, 935, while Wenceslaus was praying in a chapel, he was attacked by Boleslaus and his henchmen. His brother dealt the final blow, running him through with a lance.
Boleslaus was so hated by the Bohemian people that he became known to history as “Boleslaus the Cruel.”
Wenceslaus was never forgotten by his adoring subjects who immortalized him in legends and folk songs, one of which would eventually become the carol we know today.
During his 2009 visit to the Czech Republic, Pope Benedict XVI called Wenceslaus “a martyr for Christ” who “had the courage to prefer the kingdom of heaven to the enticement of worldly power.”
Wenceslaus’ life serves as proof of a deeper power than that of the world.
While those nobles seeking their own gain and glory have long since been forgotten, Wenceslaus’ memory lives on. Though he did not seek glory and power for their own sake, his humble devotion to God and the Christian faith were the very attributes that have immortalized him in legend and history.
His example reminds us, at any point of the year, that it is far better to “seek first the kingdom of God” (Mt 6:33).
The final words of the Christmas carol sung throughout the world in his memory can serve as an inspiring reflection on the value and power of a life lived for God.
“In his masters step he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye, who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing.”
Posted on 09/28/2023 11:40 AM (CNA Daily News)
Vatican City, Sep 28, 2023 / 08:40 am (CNA).
Pope Francis transferred Bishop Jeffrey Monforton of Steubenville, Ohio, to the Archdiocese of Detroit on Thursday to serve as an auxiliary bishop.
Monforton, 60, is originally from Detroit and will assist 74-year-old Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit in the administration of the Michigan archdiocese.
“I offer a heartfelt ‘welcome home’ to Bishop Monforton,” Vigneron said after the appointment was announced. “This is the local Church in which his priestly vocation was nurtured, and we are blessed to have him be with us once again to help lead our efforts to unleash the Gospel.”
Monforton led the Catholic Diocese of Steubenville — home to the Franciscan University of Steubenville — for more than a decade.
The bishop described his transfer to Detroit as “bittersweet.” He said: “I have come to know and to love the good people of the Diocese of Steubenville, from Carrol County in the north to Lawrence County in the south.”
“It has been my distinct pleasure and profound joy to serve the faithful of this diocese for 11 years as their shepherd. The people of the Diocese of Steubenville will always remain in my prayers and have a special place in my heart.”
The retired bishop of Kalamazoo, Bishop Paul J. Bradley, will serve as the apostolic administrator of the Steubenville Diocese, according to the U.S. bishops’ conference.
As the bishop of Steubenville, Monforton proposed a merger between his diocese and the Diocese of Columbus, which drew negative feedback and disappointment from many within the Steubenville Diocese, causing him to put a hold on the plan one week before the U.S. bishops’ conference planned to vote on the merger at its 2022 meeting in Baltimore.
He also ordered an immediate end to the Latin Mass on Franciscan University’s campus earlier this year, saying that the diocese was “seeking to meet the pastoral needs of the faithful in accord with the norms, including the recent rescript, issued by the Holy See.”
Monforton has reportedly been the subject of investigation by the Vatican for his handling of sexual abuse cases, according to a 2022 report by The Pillar.
Auxiliary Bishops Arturo Cepeda, Gerard W. Battersby, and Robert J. Fisher currently serve the Archdiocese of Detroit, which has about 907,000 Catholics in its borders.
The Holy See is investigating an additional Detroit auxiliary who is not in public ministry — Archbishop Paul F. Russell, who has been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor dating to his time as a priest in the Archdiocese of Boston, according to Detroit Catholic. Pope Francis appointed Russell as an auxiliary in Detroit in 2022.
Monforton will begin his ministry in Detroit on Nov. 7, where he will join three other active auxiliary bishops and three other retired auxiliary bishops.
He was born in Detroit in 1963 and attended Wayne State University before he entered the seminary. He studied at the Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit and the North American College in Rome before he was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Detroit in 1994. He holds a doctorate from the Pontifical Gregorian University in sacred theology.
Monforton served as rector of Detroit’s Sacred Heart Major Seminary from 2006 to 2012 and was named an apostolic visitor for the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education’s visitation of U.S. seminaries in 2005. He also served as the personal priest secretary to Cardinal Adam Maida from 1998 to 2005.
Posted on 09/28/2023 07:00 AM (CNA Daily News)
CNA Staff, Sep 28, 2023 / 04:00 am (CNA).
Of the many devotions Pope Francis has promoted during his pontificate, perhaps none is better known than his devotion to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots (also referred to as Our Lady, Untier of Knots), whose feast day is observed Sept. 28.
The devotion’s origins can be traced back to Augsburg, Germany, in 1612. Husband and wife Wolfgang Langenmantel and Sophia Rentz were on the verge of divorce, and Langenmantel sought help from Jesuit Father Jakob Rem. The priest took the ribbon from the couple’s wedding ritual, and together they prayed to Our Lady to untie the knots of their marital difficulties, asking for the Blessed Mother to smooth out the ribbon that had bound them together.
The divorce did not happen, and together the couple lived out their married life. Years later, to commemorate the turn of events, their grandson, Father Hieronymus Langenmantel of St. Peter’s Monastery in Augsburg, commissioned Johann Melchior Georg Schmidttner to paint “Untier of Knots” in about the year 1700. It is still housed in St. Peter’s Church in Augsburg today.
While it has been reported that Pope Francis encountered the painting while studying in Germany, the pope pointed out in a 2017 interview with German news outlet Zeit that he has never been to Augsburg. What happened, he explained in the interview, was that a nun whom he had met while in Germany sent him a card at Christmas with the image on it.
The picture made an impression on the future pope, who noted that Father Langenmantel based his actions on a quote from St. Irenaeus: “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith” (“Against Heresies,” 3, 22, 4, as quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 494).
The pope said he liked the image so much that he started sending postcards of it, too. Replicas of the image were painted in the pope’s home country, Argentina, and devotion there spread. Once Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope in 2013, devotion to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots spread throughout the world.
Francis has talked about the devotion throughout his pontificate, even praying specifically to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots in 2021 during the coronavirus pandemic.
Here is a prayer to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots from Pray More Novenas:
Virgin Mary, Mother of fair love, Mother who never refuses to come to the aid of a child in need, Mother whose hands never cease to serve your beloved children because they are moved by the divine love and immense mercy that exist in your heart, cast your compassionate eyes upon me and see the snarl of knots that exists in my life. You know very well how desperate I am, my pain, and how I am bound by these knots. Mary, Mother to whom God entrusted the undoing of the knots in the lives of his children, I entrust into your hands the ribbon of my life. No one, not even the evil one himself, can take it away from your precious care. In your hands there is no knot that cannot be undone. Powerful Mother, by your grace and intercessory power with Your Son and My Liberator, Jesus, take into your hands today this knot.
[Mention your request here]
I beg you to undo it for the glory of God, once for all. You are my hope.
O my Lady, you are the only consolation God gives me, the fortification of my feeble strength, the enrichment of my destitution, and, with Christ, the freedom from my chains.
Hear my plea.
Keep me, guide me, protect me, O safe refuge!
Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me.
Posted on 09/28/2023 07:00 AM (National Catholic Reporter)
Posted on 09/28/2023 07:00 AM (National Catholic Reporter)