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Man plows over 10 Commandments monument in Arkansas

June 30, 2017 CNA Daily News 1

Little Rock, Ark., Jun 30, 2017 / 05:51 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- When Moses smashed the stone tablets in Exodus 32, out of rage for the sins of his people, he used his bare hands.

But maybe a car would have made the task easier?

Michael Tate Reed, 32, yelled “Freedom!” as he plowed his car into a statue of the 10 Commandments placed outside the state capitol of Arkansas early in the morning of June 28, demolishing it.

The privately-funded monument, the product of a years-long heated debate about its constitutionality, had been up for fewer than 24 hours when Reed filmed himself destroying it.

Reed posted the video to his personal Facebook, where he also self-identifies as a born-again Christian and “Pentecostal Jesus Freak.”

Reed was caught in the act by an on-patrol police officer at the capitol and is being held in the Pulaski County Detention Center on charges of defacing an object of public interest, criminal trespassing and first degree criminal mischief, according to authorities.

It is his second alleged 10-Commandment-smashing offense.

Oklahoma authorities confirmed to The Associated Press that Reed is the same man who was arrested in October 2014 for destroying Oklahoma’s Ten Commandments monument at the state Capitol with his car.

At that time, Reed self-identified as a Satanist and said that Satan had told him to smash the monument. He was charged with destruction of state property or improvements, indecent exposure, making threatening statements, reckless driving, and operating a vehicle with a revoked license in 2014.

In 2015, Reed wrote an apology for the act that published in a local Oklahoma paper, saying he was sorry and that he had had a psychotic break that drove him to destroy the monument.

“I am so sorry that this [is] all happening and I wished I could take it all back,” Reed said in a letter to Tulsa World.

Arkansas state Senator Jason Rapert, who pushed for the monument’s construction, told local media that the incident could be a call to consider the state of mental health care in Arkansas, but that it has not yet been a proven defense for Reed’s most recent act.

Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson tweeted that “resorting to property destruction is never the answer to a policy disagreement”.

The American Civil Liberties Union had opposed the building of the Arkansas monument as well as other 10 Commandments monuments at state capitols around the United States. Its construction was also opposed by the Freethinkers Society and the Satanic Temple.

After the destruction of Arkansas’ monument, the ACLU has said that they “strongly condemn any illegal act of destruction or vandalism.”

“The ACLU remains committed to seeing this unconstitutional monument struck down by the courts and safely removed through legal means,” ACLU of Arkansas Executive Director Rita Sklar said.

Monuments of the 10 Commandments have attracted controversy in the past. In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a monument of the 10 Commandments in Texas was constitutional, and other federal courts have been divided on other such monuments.

Rapert said Wednesday during a Facebook live news conference that he intended to have the Arkansas monument rebuilt.


Special Report

Catholic bookstores in the era of Amazon

June 30, 2017 Paul Senz 7

Even as online shopping becomes more convenient and pervasive, there is no replacing the experience of walking into a store and interacting with a knowledgeable and helpful proprietor. This is particularly true of Catholic bookstores, […]

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German bishops criticize parliament’s approval of gay marriage

June 30, 2017 CNA Daily News 4

Berlin, Germany, Jun 30, 2017 / 12:08 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Heiner Koch of Berlin expressed his regret Friday at the German parliament’s vote in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, saying it had abandoned the fundamental characteristics of marriage.

“The fathers of the (German) constitution gave marriage such pride of place because they wanted to protect and strengthen those who, as a mother and father, want to give life to their children.”

“I regret the fact that the legislature has given up on essential aspects of the marriage concept in order to make the latter amenable to same-sex partnerships,” he said June 30.

Lawmakers in Germany’s parliament voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in the country by changing the definition of marriage in their legal code to include two persons of the same sex.

In a statement reacting to the vote, Archbishop Koch, chairman of the commission for marriage and family of the German bishops’ conference, said he also regrets a loss in differentiation between different forms of partnership as a means to “stress the value of same-sex partnerships.”

Regarding different forms of relationship, “differentiation, however, is not discrimination,” he said.

“If the protection of relationships and the assumption of shared responsibility is now provided as a justification for the opening of marriage,” he continued, “then this means a substantial rebalancing of content and a dilution of the classic marriage concept.”

He went on to stress that the Church’s understanding of marriage and its sacramental nature have not changed with the law, and that Catholics must continue to present publically the truth and goodness of the reality of marriage as being between one man and one woman.

“As the Catholic Church, we will now increasingly face the challenge of convincingly presenting the vitality of the Catholic understanding of marriage,” he said. “At the same time, I recall that the sacramental character of our marriage understanding remains unaffected by today’s decision in the Bundestag.”

The vote passed the lower house of Germany’s parliament 393 to 226, with four abstentions. The vote, which took place in a sudden and somewhat unexpected manner, was added to Friday’s agenda by the Social Democratic Party of Germany, the Greens, and The Left.  

German Chancellor Angela Merkel herself voted against the redefinition, pointing to her belief in marriage as being between a man and a woman.

However, the chancellor paved the way for the vote to take place with the announcement Monday that she had changed her position on adoption by same-sex couples and would allow deputies of her party, the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU), a free vote, so they could act according to their “conscience,” she said.

Several of those who voted in favor of the change in definition are members of the Central Committee of German Catholics.

The move was opposed by the Christian Social Union in Bavaria, Alternative for Germany (which holds no seats in the Bundestag), and some members of the CDU.

The session was the final before parliament’s summer recess and the country’s national elections in September.

Representatives of the Church in Germany, including the chairman of the German bishops’ conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, spoke out against the measure shortly before the vote.

“The German Bishops’ Conference emphasizes that marriage, not only from a Christian point of view, is the bond of life and love of woman and man as a principally lifelong connection with the fundamental openness to life.”

“We are of the opinion that the State must continue to protect and promote marriage in this form,” they stated.

Since 2001, it has been legal for same-sex couples in Germany to enter into civil unions, although now they will be allowed the legal protections of marriage, including the option to adopt children.

From here the legislation goes on to the upper house of Parliament for formal approval. It then requires the signature of President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to go into effect, which will likely take place before the end of 2017.

With this change, Germany joins more than 20 other countries that have legalized gay marriage over the last 16 years, including Ireland and the United States in 2015.


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Even in Barcelona one can see the peripheries, Cardinal Omella says

June 30, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Barcelona, Spain, Jun 30, 2017 / 11:50 am (CNA/EWTN News).- “Enough with the jokes,” then-Archbishop Juan José Omella Omella of Barcelona said when he got the call.

But it wasn’t a joke: A friend was calling him from St. Peter’s Square to tell him that Pope Francis had just announced his name among the five men who were to become cardinals at a consistory which was held June 28.

After receiving the announcement, Omella continued with his plans for the day, including visiting prisoners. He met with journalists the next morning.

“Barcelona is a cosmopolitan city where people from all over the world go,” he told journalists in Rome this week when asked what it means to serve from the peripheries in his city. “You only have to be at the plaza where the door of the cathedral of Barcelona is for a moment to see that there they speak all the languages, and all races and all cultures pass. Or go to the Sagrada Familia to see the amount of people who come everyday.”

“(T)he Church, after the Council, wants to be the Samaritan Church that accompanies the people of this world and picking up those who suffer, those who don’t have a sense of life, who are in complicated situations such as war,” he said. “I think that the Church must be present in these worlds, and to make them understand that the Pope, [in] drawing and creating cardinals from these areas, [says it’s important that] the Church is present in these areas.”

Cardinal Omella was born in the small town of Cretas in a Catalan-speaking region of Aragon in 1946. In his priestly formation, he studied in Belgium as well as Jerusalem. He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Zaragoza in 1970, at the age of 24. He served for a year as a missionary in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In 1996, he was appointed auxiliary bishop of Zaragoza, and in 1999 made Bishop of Barbastro-Monzón. He was appointed Bishop of Calahorra y La Calzada-Logroño in 2004. In 2015, Pope Francis appointed him Archbishop of Barcelona.

Since his episcopal consecration, Cardinal Omella has been a member of the Spanish bishops’ social-pastoral commission.

Among the five men elevated at Wednesday’s consistory, Cardinal Omella, 71, stands out in that his selection for the College of Cardinals is in no way unprecedented, whereas Francis’ other choices had at least one unique aspect about their appointment. Cardinal Omella comes from a traditional cardinalate see – his three predecessors were also cardinals. His immediate predecessor, Cardinal Lluís Martínez Sistach, aged out of the electorate when he turned 80 in April.

“This isn’t about attaining great honors,” Omella told Vatican Radio May 22. “I’m not about making a career, but service.”

The Church has to “unite institutions for the common good, so that no one feels cast aside,” he said. “I believe that it is a job we must do at all levels.”



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‘Extreme’ abortion push in UK prompts outcry from doctors

June 30, 2017 CNA Daily News 3

London, England, Jun 30, 2017 / 06:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In response to an ongoing effort in the U.K. to allow abortions to take place up to birth, a massive group of doctors and medical students signed a letter denouncing the controversial campaign.  

Over 1,400 medical associates addressed the British Medical Association, saying that a change in policy won’t reflect the opinions of all the medical staff or majority of women in Britain – and that it’s also an extreme measure that could damage the BMA’s reputation.

“We represent a variety of positions on the issue of abortion, but believe this motion is out of keeping with both our duties as responsible professionals and the expressed wishes of British women with regards to the legality and regulation of abortion,” the letter reads.

The motion was debated on June 27 at the association’s annual meeting. If passed, the measure would implement an increase in the accessibility of abortions from the current law of 24 weeks, potentially offering abortions from anywhere between 28 weeks until birth.

The proposal would also allow for abortions to be offered for any reason, a distinct difference from the current law which requires previous consultation.

In their letter, the medical staff cited a recent study from ComRes, which showed that a large majority of woman in the U.K. would in fact rather have abortion restrictions increased rather than decreased.

The letter also referenced the intense backlash received by the Royal College of Midwives, which announced last year that it supports abortion under any reason, even up to birth.

“Many commentators on this controversy were pro-choice but recognized that taking this position was an extreme move, and the outrage caused reputational damage both to the Royal College of Midwives and to the wider midwifery profession.”

Professor John Campbell, a 35-year long member of the BMA as well as a supporter of the letter, wrote a June 26 article to the Daily Mail, noting that the damages from abortion have already been tremendous and that the new measure pose an even greater threat to women and children.

Since the procedure was legalized in the U.K. in 1967, over eight million unborn infants have been aborted, Campbell said. He then noted that interpretation of the country’s abortion law has shifted from defense of a women’s safety to abortions on demand.

But increasing the availability of abortions ultimately threatens the mental health and well-being of women, especially if they are not counseled through the process properly, Campbell said.

He cited recent news of a 22-second consultation given to a woman at a Maria Stopes center, saying many women choose abortion “simply because they were not given enough time to talk it through.”

The BMA is the trade union for doctors, and works to promote medical and health legislation in the U.K. Established in 1832, there are now an estimated 156,000 doctors and even more medical students.

The effort to lessen the country’s abortion restrictions was debated by 500 members, but the results have not yet been made public.


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Why this priest isn’t afraid of Christianity’s waning influence

June 30, 2017 CNA Daily News 5

New York City, N.Y., Jun 30, 2017 / 03:02 am (CNA).- With Catholic proposals to literally head for the hills in response to Christianity’s ever-lessening influence in secular culture, the leader of a global ecclesial movement has a provocative statement:

This is actually a great time for the Church.

“As a matter of fact,” says Father Julian Carron, “it is a precious occasion to verify the validity of the Christian proposal.”

Already garnering some notable attention since its release, a new book by Fr. Carron called “Disarming Beauty” takes on the question of the Church’s relevance amid modern society’s most pressing challenges. From terrorism to consumerism, “rights” culture to marriage and family, the book examines the plight of our current world and invites Christians to respond – not from a place of fear, but from the joy of their original encounter with the living person of Christ.

“The fact that the Church is no longer a moral majority is liberating; it allows us to rediscover the heart of the Christian event,” he told CNA. “The Church will survive and thrive only through Her witness.”

Fr. Carron heads Communion and Liberation, which originated in the 1950s with Italian priest Msgr. Luigi Giussani. The international movement focuses on the actualization of man’s faith by living the Christian presence within community.

Please read below for our full interview with Fr. Carron:

Why ‘Disarming Beauty’? What does the title mean to you?

The book speaks of the beauty of Christian faith, of its power and its attraction. When God takes on flesh, He strips Himself of His own power, entering into the history and poverty of the human condition, revealing to everyone the truth of His power. This is how Christianity, the greatest revolution of all time, began. Christ is the exemplar of a way of communicating truth that needs no other means beyond the beauty of truth itself. The book speaks primarily of this beauty, which is not just an aesthetic or sentimental one. Like all beautiful things, Christianity needs no other defense, other then its own beauty, to be communicated. With the expression “disarming beauty” I wanted to say: “We Christians, do we believe in the fascination that the disarming beauty of the faith can exercise?” With the phrase “disarming beauty,” I propose a Christian presence that would be sufficiently attractive so as to make life more interesting for everyone.

What exactly does beauty “disarm” us of? How does it do that?

Beauty disarms us from our narrow way of looking at ourselves and at reality; it opens our minds and our eyes to the totality of reality, of the real. The attractiveness of beauty moves us affectively, so much so that it allows reason to become truly opened to all the factors of reality. We discover this openness in Christ’s gaze on reality; we are surprised by the way Jesus looks at the publicans, at Zacchaeus or Matthew, or at the crowd. How is his gaze different from the one of the Pharisees, which reduces the person to his ability or his ethical performance? Jesus’ gaze at Zacchaeus helps him discover himself, awakening his self-awareness, something none of the Pharisees’ reproaches could do. We can say the same about the Samaritan woman, or the tenth leper. We understand the shock that His presence provoked: “We never saw anything like this.”

What do you perceive as the single greatest threat in modern society?

I think it is feeling adrift, destabilized, alone, and uncertain. Most propose to fight these emotions with walls, or changes in the system at the institutional level (as depicted by T.S. Eliot). Men and women today wait for, perhaps unconsciously, the experience of an encounter with people for whom life is “solid” in the midst of change. What will wake people up today is a human impact, an event that echoes the initial event that occurred when Jesus raised His eyes and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down. I want to stay at your house today.” I believe that the present era is a great opportunity to witness to the disarming beauty of Christianity, and to verify the fascination of the Christian event, which does not require a context to protect it.

Why is education so important? Why do you say it’s the greatest challenge the Church faces?

We see so many students and teachers passive, skeptical, and even bored. Since we don’t know what to do, we manage the symptoms. Yet, we must face the challenge. The challenge for the educator is to reawaken desire, to experience the restlessness which St. Augustine speaks about. To do so, we must introduce students to a relationship with reality in its totality, with all of its beauty and meaning.

For this reason, it is necessary to put the person at the center, to teach students to look at the world with their own eyes, to think with their own heads, thus developing a critical spirit that makes their “I” more of a protagonist and less a spectator, more a leader and less a follower, more a citizen and less a subject.

This dynamic is only possible when a teacher is a witness to this relationship with reality, not as one who imposes herself or her way of seeing things upon others, in an authoritarian way, but someone who challenges the other by her own way of living.

What changes must the Church make not only to survive, but thrive in today’s modern culture?

Christians are faced with an unprecedented challenge. Yet, we are not afraid of wide-ranging dialogue, without any privileges. As a matter of fact, it is a precious occasion to verify the validity of the Christian proposal. The fact that the Church is no longer a moral majority is liberating; it allows us to rediscover the heart of the Christian event. The Church will survive and thrive only through Her witness.

Arguably, though, there are a lot of Catholics who do not find it “liberating” that the Church is no longer the moral majority. Many are actually afraid of this phenomenon, and feel as though Catholics either have to isolate from culture or hold even more tightly to the tenets of Christianity as an increasingly extreme counter-witness. What do you say to this?

That the Church is no longer the moral majority is a fact. It’s useless to complain. The fact that many Catholics are afraid of this situation shows the lack of certainty in the unarmed beauty of faith, causing them to either isolate themselves from the culture to ‘preserve’ the faith, or to see their presence in society as a counter-reaction. To describe what kind of presence is needed today, this observation may be useful:

When we have to defend something in the context of a debate, in order to make our response stronger, we almost unconsciously accept the way the other frames the issue. In doing so, we allow our position to be determined by its opposition. It is reactive instead of being an original position, that is, a position that comes from our experience of faith. This leads to further reducing Christianity, or its testimony, to the mere repetition of a doctrine, of some values or ethics. (Disarming Beauty, pp. 70-71).    

Christian faith was born in a pluralistic society in Palestine and spread throughout a multicultural Roman empire. The first Christians based the communication of their faith only in their own witness. Their free and joyful position sprang from the core of their faith, not from fear of the world. “Man today expects, perhaps unconsciously, the experience of an encounter with people for whom the fact of Christ is such a present reality that their life is changed. What will shake up men and women today is a human impact; an event that echoes the initial event, when Jesus raised His eyes and said, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry down. I mean to stay at your house today.’” (Luigi Giussani to the Synod on the Laity, 1987).

You reference the malaise of “lethargy and existential boredom.” How do modern men and women regain a sense of wonder and desire in front of their lives? In your view, what is the first step, and what is Church’s role in this?

The first step is to encounter somebody who reawakens us from our lethargy and boredom. Regardless of the human situation, something unforeseen is always possible, something unexpected, which makes us regain the sense of ourselves. The Church has a unique possibility to offer a big contribution to the modern situation if she rediscovers the real nature of Christianity as an event, an event that reawakens the person, just as we see in the Gospels.

How do you encounter someone who awakens you? Is there a danger of moral subjectivity, here? Does one just follow anything that attracts?   

You can see this when you meet someone who awakens you in your own experience like when you fall in love with someone. You don’t need anybody else assuring you that it is that particular person who has awakened you from your apathy, or your meaningless life. It’s something objective, something that comes out of you. We can use the same method looking at the origin of Christian faith. As then-Cardinal Ratzinger said in 1993: “we can recognize only something that raises a correspondence in us.” Anybody can recognize Christ “because he corresponds to the nature of man…the longing for the infinite which is alive and unquenchable within man.” In the opening lines of Deus Caritas Est, he brought this to everyone’s attention: “Being Christian is not an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person who gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” The person of Jesus is such a great and precious good, as He alone fully corresponds to the human thirst for happiness. And, the exceptional correspondence He brings about in those who meet him makes them capable of being in relationship with reality in an absolutely gratuitous way.

You speak of dialogue in the book a lot. How is this possible and why is it essential?

Dialogue is crucial because it is the possibility for a person to enter into a relationship with the other’s experience. Sharing our own experiences with others, welcoming the experiences of others, is the only way to enrich our life.

Freedom in dialogue comes from the esteem one has for the experience of the other. This esteem permits one to enter into relationship with the richness of the experience of another person – in order to enrich one’s own perspective. We can say with Terence: “Nothing human is foreign to us.” And when one has this certainty, he or she has no problem entering into a dialogue.

Why is it important for Christians to defend religious freedom?

Because of the relationship between truth and freedom. The Second Vatican Council enables us see that there is no other way to communicate truth than through freedom. Reason is the nature of truth, and truth needs only its own beauty to communicate itself. “The truth cannot impose itself except by virtue of its own truth.”

Christian faith requires the use of reason and freedom. Without these two, Christianity isn’t the least bit interesting. Today, therefore, only in a free environment will Christian faith be able to interest people, because for modern men and women (and in this the Enlightenment has played a foundational role), there is no greater good than freedom. No one today would think of proposing or imposing something that goes against freedom.

With the collapse of what was at one time evident (family, marriage, work, relative peace in our cities), where do we begin again?

The same way they did 2000 years ago, with a witness. Jesus introduced such a newness in history that people who met Him remained speechless, even to the point to saying: “We have never have seen anything like it.” There is no way to challenge human reason and freedom other then a life – the more fascinating life of a witness. People need to see and touch again, in a tangible way, the values that today are in crisis.


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How graduates can thrive, according to one Catholic entrepreneur

June 29, 2017 CNA Daily News 1

Atlanta, Ga., Jun 30, 2017 / 12:14 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A new book by entrepreneur and philanthropist Frank J. Hanna goes beyond the cliché advice often offered to college students, in an effort to help them focus on the things that really matter for true success in life.  

Hanna, the CEO of Hanna Capital, is the author of the newly-released book, “A Graduate’s Guide to Life: Three Things They Don’t Teach You in College That Could Make All the Difference.”

In addition to his success as a merchant banker, Hanna is known for his philanthropy, particularly his commitment to Catholic education and evangelization. He is an EWTN board member. CNA is part of the EWTN family.

Amazon describes the newly-released book by saying, “The college years are often referred to as the best years of your life. Author Frank J. Hanna believes your best years are still ahead of you, but only if you have a strategy for living that goes beyond what you learned in school.”

“According to Hanna, wealth and success are not what you think. Drawing on a lifetime of business experience, he proposes a radically different approach. He shows that wealth is not merely money, competition has a higher purpose than simply getting ahead, and a life of happiness is simpler to attain than we imagine.”

CNA interviewed Hanna about his new book, his inspiration in writing it, and the advice he would offer college students today. The text of the interview is below:

You state in your book to young college students that “I want to change how you think about your future.” Why?

Unfortunately, we now live in a world of immediacy. This means that much of the advice we give to young people is catchy, and fits into a tweet or Facebook post, but at best it is often shallow, and at its worst, it is often wrong. Most college students have been filled with this kind of thinking for most of their lives, and so they are not thinking about their future in the manner most likely to lead to success.

You have a problem with the usual comment that college will be “the best years of your life”…

This is one of the clichés that happens to be bad advice. We want to encourage young people, as they head off to college; however, when we tell them that the next four years are going to be the best four years of their lives, we send two faulty messages. First, we imply that after college, the next fifty years are all downhill. And secondly, we put pressure on them while they are in college to try to live in a risky, extraordinary fashion – if these are the best four years of their lives, shouldn’t they be doing extraordinary things every day? This sort of adrenaline-seeking FOMO approach to life is not the way to happiness.

Why did you feel the need to describe human competition as opposed to animal competition?

All mammals compete for food, water, and mates. Humans do too. But if humans do not infuse their competition with love and prudence, they act like animals. If they compete like humans, they can bring out the best in one another.  

How are hope and meaningful community connected to wealth in life?

For many years, I have studied wealth in business, and happiness trends among really wealthy people. I found that the common denominator for wealth in business was hopefulness in the future, and I found that the common denominator for happiness among rich people was not how much money they had, but whether they had good relationships with others, and hopefulness about the future of those relationships. I dive into more of the background of this issue in the book, and how to develop these sources of wealth, but these are the factors that the data shows produce well-being, which is actually the essence of wealth.

Could you comment on the current education system and why it inspired you to write this book?

I think our current education system, especially higher education, does a pretty good job of transmitting information. College and high school graduates today have more information than their parents or grandparents had. However, our colleges sometimes mistake information for knowledge, and so students may not have as much knowledge as they ought. Moving even beyond knowledge, it is wisdom that leads to human flourishing. But because wisdom is so often tied to questions related to transcendence, many of our colleges not only fail to impart wisdom – some of them even deny its existence, for to acknowledge wisdom is to acknowledge truth, and in a culture of relativism, many do not want to, or are afraid to, acknowledge absolute truth.