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Prolife Democrat laments ‘homogenization’ within parties

September 28, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Washington D.C., Sep 28, 2018 / 03:30 pm (CNA).- Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL), one of the few prolife members of the Deomcratic Party with a seat in Congress, has spoken about his commitment to life issues and his concern at the increasing divide between the two major parties.

The congressman spoke at an event entitled Being a Faithful Catholic as a Public Servant on Sept. 27. The event was hosted at the Catholic University of America and sponsored by the university’s Institute for Human Ecology.

Lipinski, along with CUA Professor Joseph Capizzi, discussed what life is like in Washington for one of the last remaining Blue Dog Democrats, and how his party has shifted to the point of effectively trying to force people like him out. He has represented Illinois’ 3rd district for the last 14 years, a time in which he says divisiveness and polarization has gotten worse.

Although voting as a committed Democrat, with a 91 percent rating from the AFL-CIO and a 100 percent rating from the League of Conservation Voters— Lipinski also calls himself a strong and proud pro-life legislator, something which can leave him isolated from his party colleagues.

“The parties have really gotten more homogeneous,” he said. “It used to be that you had conservative Democrats, largely southerners but not all, and you had some more liberal Republicans. The parties have really sorted out.”

His constituents, he explained, are largely the “old-fashioned Democrats”–a phrase that he himself identifies himself with.

Over his nearly decade and a half in Congress, “things have changed. There’s less bipartisanship, but things have really gotten so much worse.”

The two major parties are generally found on opposite sides of the abortion debate. The Democratic Party’s platform has support for the public funding of abortion as one of its planks, while the Republican Party’s platform states that all Americans have an “unalienable right to life.”

In addition to being a relative rarity in his party, his pro-life views have made him something of a target.

This past March, Lipinski barely survived a primary challenge in his Illinois constituency. His challenger, Marie Newman, made abortion the central issue of that campaign, and received considerable support and money from numerous pro-abortion groups.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee initially declined to endorse Lipinski, but finally endorsed the sitting congressman about two weeks before the primary election.

Lipinski said that while he is hopeful about the future of the pro-life movement, he was not comfortable with how the movement had “embraced” President Donald Trump. He explained that he pulled out of speaking at the annual March for Life when he learned that Trump would also be addressing the event.

“It very much concerns me,” said Lipinski about Trump. “I understand he’s done some very good things when it comes to protecting life, but I’m scared that getting too close is going to hurt the movement in the long run.”

Those who attended the talk were impressed with what Lipinski had to say, even if they were not necessarily on board with all of his policy positions. Many of the attendees at the Catholic University told CNA that they appreciated the stance he was taking for life.

“It’s wonderful to hear a pro-life politician who remains firm in his stance and is willing to speak out publicly in defense of life,” Sr. Mary Elizabeth, SV, told CNA.

Nick Swanson, a freshman at Catholic University who described himself as a Republican, said that he thought it was interesting how blunt Lipinski was about his time in Congress.

“It wasn’t as if he was playing to a political audience, he just wanted to be honest about the struggles he faced in making his decisions. It’s almost like he, when he approaches these decisions he takes them seriously. It’s not as if he just follows the party line,” said Swanson.

John Dashe, another freshman, told CNA that he thought it was refreshing to find ideological diversity within a party.

“Being from (Massachusetts), we have a lot of Democrats, but none of them are pro-life,” said Dashe.

“Coming from a perspective where I thought they all had a sort-of uniform view, it’s interesting to see that he was different in that way.”


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Vermont AG investigates abuse allegations at Catholic institutions

September 28, 2018 CNA Daily News 1

Montpelier, Vt., Sep 28, 2018 / 02:21 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- As the attorney general of Vermont investigates allegations of abuses at Catholic institutions, the state’s bishop has announced that the diocese is waiving nondisclosure agreements for abuse victims.

Attorney General T.J. Donovan announced Sept. 11 an investigation of allegations surrounding St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Burlington.

“The allegations include murder, for which there is no statute of limitations, as well as abuse and sexual abuse,” the attorney general’s office stated. “The Burlington Catholic Diocese, which operated St. Joseph’s Orphanage, has expressed willingness to fully cooperate with the investigation.”

The orphanage, founded in the mid-1800s, was operated by the Sisters of Providence, and overseen by Vermont Catholic Charities. It closed in 1974.

The allegations were described by Christine Kenneally in an Aug. 27 article in BuzzFeed News.

“I wish to inform all survivors of abuse who entered into a Nondisclosure Agreement (NDA) with the Diocese of Burlington as part of a legal settlement that the Diocese waives that agreement and they are now free to tell the story of what happened to them as they see fit,” Bishop Christopher Coyne of Burlington said Sept. 28.

He noted that this applies only “to NDAs that were signed with the Diocese and not any other Church entity such as a religious community or school.”

“Out of respect for those who asked for an NDA so as to maintain their own personal privacy in these matters, the Diocese will continue to maintain the agreement.”

The bishop added that the Diocese of Burlington has not required nondisclosure agreements on the part of survivors since 2002.

“It is my hope that this past action as well as the present one will allow the truth of what happened to survivors and their families to be heard,” Bishop Coyne wrote. “I pledge to you, as the bishop of Burlington, that I will do everything that I can to make sure this never happens again and to work for healing and reconciliation with those who were so badly abused by clergy.”

Alleged abuses at St. Joseph’s Orphanage were the subject of lawsuits brought by former residents in the 1990s. Some of the cases were dismissed, and some reached settlements.

VTDigger reported Sept. 26 that Donovan’s investigation will include Weston Priory, a Benedictine monastery. Michael Veitch has said he was sexually abused by a visiting priest at the priory around 1970, when he was 15 years old.

Msgr. John McDermott, vicar general of the Burlington diocese, told VTDigger that the diocese will cooperate with Donovan “in any way … If the Vermont Attorney General decides to expand the investigation we will cooperate to the best of our ability.”

Veitch has said that memories of his alleged abuse were triggered by reports of sexual abuse of minors in Pennsylvania.

In August, a Pennsylvania grand jury report found more than 1,000 allegations of abuse at the hands of some 300 clergy members in six dioceses in the state. It also found a pattern of cover up by senior Church officials.

The report has prompted questions nationwide on the Church’s response to abuse claims.

Since then, numerous state attorneys general have announced investigations into abuse by clerics, including those in Michigan, Nebraska, New York, New Jersey, Missouri, New Mexico, and Illinois.


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Pope Francis laicizes convicted Chilean abuser

September 28, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Vatican City, Sep 28, 2018 / 09:30 am (CNA).- The pope has ordered the laicization of Fernando Karadima, a Chilean priest convicted in 2011 of the sexual abuse of minors. He had previously been sentenced to a life of prayer and penance.

Pope Francis m… […]