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Abortion still at issue in several midterm races

October 31, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Washington D.C., Oct 31, 2018 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- The issue of abortion has played a surprisingly limited role in campaigns for midterm and gubernatorial elections, this despite predictions by pro-abortion advocates that the Supreme Court could be poised to revisit the landmark decision of Roe v. Wade.

But while the issue has had a low profile in national campaigning, there have been several notable exceptions in individual races.

On Halloween, as parents/kids return home to enjoy the evening together, this is the mail piece that my opponent’s campaign & @nydems thought was most fitting to greet them in their mailbox. It’s the most disgusting mail piece I’ve ever seen in any campaign I have been a part of.

— Lee Zeldin (@leezeldin) October 31, 2018

Incumbent Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY), who represents New York’s 1st district, was the subject of an especially pointed political attack for his pro-life views. The New York State Democratic Committee sent out a mailer containing a picture of a wire hanger, labeled as “Lee Zeldin’s plan for women’s healthcare.”


Zeldin called the campaign “the most disgusting mail piece I’ve ever seen in any campaign that I have been a part of.”


The second-term congressman has a pro-life record over his time in the House of Representatives, and responded angrily in a tweet.


Polls have shown Zeldin with a narrow lead over Democratic candidate Perry Gershon.


In New Hampshire, in a congressional debate for the state’s 2nd district, Republican challenger Steve Negron confronted incumbent Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D) about her pro-abortion views. Negron describes himself as pro-life without exceptions, and refused to say if he would permit an abortion to save the life of the mother.


Negron said that advances in prenatal care make it so that these situations are rare, and that “right now, we don’t get to this point where it’s so draconian that we have to make a decision that it’s the life of a mother or the life of a child.”


Kuster defended the legality of abortion by saying that she did not feel it was something for the government to decide, and that it was “one of the most personal decisions” someone could make. Kuster, who worked for over two decades as an adoption attorney, said that she had worked with more than 300 women facing unplanned pregnancies, said that “it’s not the government’s choice whether they would carry a baby to term, whether they would terminate a pregnancy or whether they would place a baby for adoption.”


Kuster is expected to be reelected for her fourth term in Congress, and is polling well above Negron and Libertarian candidate Justin O’Donnell.


Two Senate candidates in Indiana, incumbent Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) and Republican Mike Braun, clashed over abortion during an Oct. 30 debate in which both tried to paint their opponent as inconsistent in their opposition to abortion.


Both are running as pro-life candidates, with Donnelly one of the few-remaining pro-life Democrats in Congress. Donnelly was endorsed by Democrats for Life of America, but the National Right to Life Committee gave him a score of just 40 percent in their 2018 Senatorial scorecard.


In Donnelly’s last Senate election in 2012, his opponent, Richard Mourdock, sparked a national controversy after he said that a woman who became pregnant from rape was “carrying a gift from God.” That debate was widely credited with cemeting Donnelly’s election.


The latest polling indicates that Braun has a slim lead over Donnelly ahead of the election next week.  


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Trump administration to revise exemptions to contraception mandate

October 31, 2018 CNA Daily News 2

Washington D.C., Oct 31, 2018 / 03:29 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Trump administration is modifying religious exemptions and accommodations against mandatory employer health care coverage of contraception, after federal judges blocked the administrations rules in December.

“The United States has a long history of providing conscience protections in the regulation of health care for entities and individuals with objections based on religious beliefs and moral convictions,” the Office of Management and Budget said. “These final rules expand exemptions to protect religious beliefs for certain entities and individuals whose health plans are subject to a mandate of contraceptive coverage through guidance issued pursuant to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”

It added that the rules “leave the accommodation process in place as an optional process for certain exempt entities that wish to use it voluntarily.”

The New York Times reported Oct. 30 that the revised rules will be issued by the departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury.

Judge Wendy Beetlestone of the Federal District Court in Philadelphia issued a preliminary injunction against the Trump administration’s initial rules Dec. 15, 2017.

She said Pennsylvania could suffer “serious and irreparable harm” from the rules, because a lack of cost-effective contraception would mean that women would either forgo contraception or choose less effective methods and result in “individual choices which will result in an increase in unintended pregnancies.” This would create economic harm for the state because “unintended pregnancies are more likely to impose additional costs on Pennsylvania’s state-funded health programs.”

Shortly after Beetlestone’s ruling, Judge Haywood Gilliam Jr. of the Federal District Court in Oakland also blocked the Trump administration’s rules, saying they would “transform contraceptive coverage from a legal entitlement to an essentially gratuitous benefit wholly subject to their employer’s discretion.”

Under Trump, the Justice Department has argued that “a woman who loses coverage of her chosen contraceptive method through her employer may still have access to such coverage through a spouse’s plan … or she may otherwise be able to pay out of pocket for contraceptive services.”

The 2010 Affordable Care Act, and resulting rules issued by the Obama administration’s Department of Health and Human Services mandated that employer health plans cover sterilization and contraception, including drugs that can cause abortion. The mandate drew opposition from Catholics and others.

The Trump administration established new rules in October 2017 allowing companies with religious or moral objections to contraception to opt out of the mandate.

The administration has appealed the rulings by Beetlestone and Gilliam, and other judges have issued rulings favorable to exemptions and accommodations to the contraception mandate.

In April, District Court Judge David Russell issued a permanent injunction and declaratory relief against the mandate for members of the Catholic Benefits Association.

Russell also ruled that the mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by attempting to force employers to provide contraception and sterilization in violation of their sincerely held religious beliefs.


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Flooding damages St Mark’s Basilica in Venice

October 31, 2018 CNA Daily News 1

Venice, Italy, Oct 31, 2018 / 01:29 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice flooded with nearly three feet of water this week, damaging part of the 1,000 year old marble mosaic floor inside.

The basilica “aged 20 years in one day,” St. Mark’s procurator Carlo Alberto Tesserin said.

Flood waters kept parts of the Madonna Nicopeia chapel’s intricately designed floor under three feet of water for 16 hours, Tesserin said. The chapel, located in the cathedral’s left transept, contains a 9th century Byzantine icon of Mary.

The baptistry and the Zen Chapel, named for Cardinal Giambattista Zen, who died in 1501, were completely flooded. The basilica’s bronze doors and columns also sustained damage.

In St. Mark’s Basilica’s 926 year history, there have been only five floods as severe. The high water mark in Venice reached over 5 feet on Monday with an “acqua alta,” or high tide, covering 75 percent of the city.

Storms in Italy this week left at least 11 people dead throughout the country as 110 mph winds caused trees to fall upon cars and pedestrians. The Liguria region in northwest Italy experienced dangerous landslides.

The Italian Civil Protection Agency said that the Liguria, Veneto, Trentino, and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions were most affected by the heavy rainfall and high winds.

Museums in Venice reopened Wednesday as the flood waters subsided.


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Diocese of Buffalo ‘stunned and dismayed’ by whistleblower call for Malone’s resignation

October 31, 2018 CNA Daily News 1

Buffalo, N.Y., Oct 31, 2018 / 12:40 pm (CNA).- The Diocese of Buffalo has issued a response to a whistleblower who called for Bishop Richard Malone to resign, after he was publicly accused of allowing priests credibly accused of sexual abuse to remain in ministry.

The diocese released a statement late Tuesday night, after Siobhan O’Connor, a former diocesan employee, said on “60 Minutes” Sunday that the diocese had knowingly omitted some priests from a list it published in March of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse.

The list included 42 names; documents leaked by O’Connor included 118 priests credibly accused of misconduct.

The Oct. 30 diocesan statement said that Malone was “stunned and dismayed” by comments O’Connor delivered at a local press conference held that day. The diocese called her remarks “plainly and embarrassingly contradictory.”

At the press conference O’Connor reiterated her earlier claims, and called for “a complete change in leadership here,” calling for the resignation of Malone, and urging the intervention of Pope Francis, “because it’s just not going to get better.”

The diocese said that “her comments directly contradict her comments to him while she worked at the Chancery and even after she left. In fact, her prior, written communications to the Bishop demonstrate her complete admiration for the Bishop and his efforts to lead the Diocese.”

The statement did not directly address the veracity of O’Connor’s claim that Malone worked with diocesan lawyers to parse down the list of accused priests published by the diocese.

The list, released March 20, “identifies diocesan priests who were removed from ministry, were retired, or left ministry after allegations of sexual abuse of a minor,” according to the diocese. It “also includes deceased priests with more than one allegation made against them.”

“It was a very carefully curated list,” O’Connor said.

“To my mind the overarching attitude seemed to be to protect the Church’s reputation and her assets,” she added.

The Oct. 30 diocesan statement included a release of emails sent from O’Connor to Bishop Malone and her former diocesan co-workers, including one sent Aug. 9, 2018.

“Thank you, Bishop, for all of the opportunities I’ve had and lessons I’ve learned while working for and with you,” the email read in part.

“You have my heartfelt gratitude. I will always pray for you and your Chancery staff as I know so well the burdens you carry!”

In an email dated Aug. 21, O’Connor wrote: “I will always be deeply grateful to have worked with you Bishop…in truly countless ways you have inspired and edified me.”

During her “60 Minutes” interview, O’Connor said she loved Malone as her bishop and as her boss, and that her decision to leak documents was not motivated by personal animus for him.

“The reality of what I saw really left me with no other option,” she said. “Because at the end of my life I’m not going to answer to Bishop Malone, I’m going to answer to God.”

Malone has issued three public apologies and has offered to sell his residence to help to compensate abuse victims.

Malone declined to be interviewed by “60 Minutes,” saying in part: “it is clear to me and my staff that your roster of interviews did not include those who are aware of the full extent of the efforts of our Diocese to combat child abuse. Nor does it include those who urge me every day to stay the course and restore the confidence of our faithful.”

The Buffalo diocese was issued a subpoena in June as part of a federal investigation into clerical sexual abuse.

Fr. Robert Zilliox, an abuse victim himself, lamented on “60 Minutes” that it seemed the diocese and the bishop were not being transparent and holding abusive priests accountable.

“It’s beyond troubling. That’s not the Church. The Church is holy. Those are individuals in the Church who are weak, and who have made very bad decisions. And because of that, they need to be held accountable for what they’ve done,” Father Zilliox said.



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UK poised to pass law guiding N Ireland on abortion, gay marriage

October 31, 2018 CNA Daily News 1

London, England, Oct 31, 2018 / 12:10 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A bill in the parliament of the United Kingdom requiring the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to provide guidance to civil servants on how to exercise their functions regarding human rights is scheduled to receive Royal Assent Thursday.

The Nov. 1 Royal Assent will make the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Bill a law.

The bill is the latest effort to liberalize Northern Ireland’s practice regarding abortion, in the wake of a June Supreme Court Ruling which said the current law violates the European Convention on Human Rights by banning abortion in cases of fatal fetal abnormality, rape, and incest.

British prime minister Theresa May has said abortion should be a devolved issue for Northern Ireland, but the Northern Ireland Assembly is currently suspended due to disagreements between the two major governing parties.

The Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Bill aims to provide for the exercise of governmental functions in light of the suspended legislature. Karen Bradley, the Northern Ireland Secretary, is to guide Northern Irish officials on how to exercise their functions in light of what the UK Supreme Court said in June regarding the region’s abortion law.

In addition, Bradley is to give guidance regarding same-sex marriage.

The move is meant to bring Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK on the two social and moral topics.

Same-sex marriage has been allowed in England, Wales, and Scotland since 2014, but is not performed or recognized in Northern Ireland.

Abortion is legally permitted in Northern Ireland only if the mother’s life is at risk or if there is risk of permanent, serious damage to her mental or physical health. Elective abortion is legal in the rest of the United Kingdom up to 24 weeks.

Northern Irish women have been able to procure free National Health Service abortions in England, Scotland, and Wales since November 2017.

Bills to legalize abortion in cases of fatal fetal abnormality, rape, or incest failed in the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2016.

The Democratic Unionist Party, the largest party in the Assembly and a member of the coalition government in Westminster, is opposed to changing the law. Sinn Féin, another prominent party in Northern Ireland, backs a liberalization of the abortion law.

The Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Bill was introduced in the House of Commons Oct. 18 and was fast-tracked through parliament.

In the House of Commons it received widespread support, and while it met with stronger opposition in the House of Lords, it nevertheless passed through the upper chamber.

Lord Rogan, a peer of the Ulster Unionist Party, expressed disillusionment with the vote, recalling the importance of devolution for the people of Northern Ireland.

Lord Mackay, a Conservative and a former Lord Chancellor, said that “abortion has been made a devolved subject and therefore the only statutory authority with authority to alter the statues and statutory instruments are the legislative Assembly of Northern Ireland.”

Baroness O’Loan noted that it was properly the role of the Northern Ireland Assembly to legislate on abortion law in the region, and said that “it must surely be illogical to ask the Secretary of State to issue guidance, which would be incompatible with that law.”

Lord Browne of Belmont, of the DUP, said he thought the move was “an attempt to change the law through guidance” and that “it is proper for those matters to be dealt with by the devolved institutions.”

But Lord Steel, a former leader of the Liberal Democrats, supported a move to have the UK parliament directly decriminalize abortion in the region.

And Lord Adonis, a Labour Party member, justified the UK parliament’s move by saying that “if Northern Ireland wishes to exercise the prerogatives of devolution, it must operate devolved institutions. If they do not sit and legislate, then we have a duty to legislate in their place, because there is no one else who can do it.”

Labour MPs Stella Creasy and Conor McGinn had introduced an amendment in the House of Commons to repeal Northern Irish law on abortion and gay marriage, but it was defeated.

Separately, the Abortion Bill was introduced Oct. 23 by Diana Johnson, MP for Hull North and a member of the Labour Party. The bill, which would apply to England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, would decriminalize elective abortion up to 24 weeks. It is scheduled for a second reading Nov. 23.


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Pope Francis calls faithful married love ‘revolutionary’

October 31, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Vatican City, Oct 31, 2018 / 04:48 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Faithful married love, in which a husband loves his wife like Christ loves the Church, is “revolutionary,” Pope Francis said Wednesday.

The pope focused his remarks at the general audience on spousal fidelity in every vocation.

“A call to love … manifests itself in fidelity,” Pope Francis said Oct. 31 in St. Peter’s Square.

“This letter of St. Paul is revolutionary to say a husband should love like Christ loves the Church,” the pope continued, in a departure from his prepared remarks. “It’s a revolution. Always on the way of love.”
Pope Francis’ comments came as a part of a weekly catechesis on the Ten Commandments. This Wednesday, the pope reflected on the Sixth Commandment, “Do not commit adultery.”

“Who then is the adulterer, the lustful, the unfaithful?” asked the pope. “He is an immature person, who … interprets situations based on his own well-being and satisfaction.”

“The human body is not an instrument of pleasure, but the place of our call to love, and in authentic love there is no room for lust and for its superficiality. Men and women deserve more!” he continued.

“This command is for everyone, it is a paternal Word of God addressed to every man and woman,” the pope said.

“Let us remember that the path of human maturity is the path itself of love that goes from receiving care to the ability to offer care, from receiving life to the ability to give life,” he added

The Holy Father stated twice, “every Christian vocation is spousal.”

“In the priesthood one loves God’s people with all the paternity, tenderness and strength of a husband and a father,” the pope explained.

“The Church does not need aspirants to the role of priests, but men to whom the Holy Spirit touches the heart with unconditional love for the Bride of Christ,” he said.

We start from Christ’s “fidelity, his tenderness, his generosity,” Pope Francis said, and from there “we look with faith at marriage and every vocation, and we understand the full meaning of sexuality.”