A Lesson in Realism for Iran

January 31, 2020 William Kilpatrick 15

According to many pundits and prognosticators, the targeted killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was going to precipitate World War III. And if not that, it would certainly land us in a quagmire like the […]

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EWTN Radio launches new weekly show

January 31, 2020 CNA Daily News 1

Washington D.C., Jan 31, 2020 / 05:17 pm (CNA).- The EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network has announced the launch of a new weekly radio show, called “Conversations with Consequences,” which will premiere Feb. 1.

The show will be produced by EWTN and Guadalupe Radio Network, and will be hosted by Dr. Grazie Christie of The Catholic Association, with other staff from the association featured as well.

“Our idea is to have a conversation, most of the time with guests but sometimes with each other, that is intellectual enough to spark consequences of thought – different ways of looking at difficult subjects – in our listeners,” Christie said in a Jan. 31 press release announcing the new show.

She said the idea is to “take the time to tackle issues in a deeper way than normally can be done on radio.”

“I also think it’s important that we are well-informed professional women as well as mothers and wives,” she added. “The culture is always telling us what’s good for women. It’s important for women themselves to be in that conversation, to say this is the real world as we’re experiencing it.”

Dr. Christie, a practicing physician and mother of five, has appeared frequently on other EWTN programming, including Morning Glory, EWTN Pro-Life Weekly, and EWTN News Nightly.

Christie is a policy advisor at The Catholic Association, which works to provide “a faithful Catholic voice in the public square.” She is joined at the association by legal advisor Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, a former appellate clerk, attorney, and mother of 10; senior fellow Maureen Malloy Ferguson, a former National Right to Life Committee spokeswoman and Congressional liaison and mother of five; and senior fellow Ashley McGuire, an author, editor of the Institute for Family Studies blog, policy fellow with the American Conservative Union Foundation, and mother of three.

EWTN Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Warsaw said the network is proud to offer its audience the new radio show.

“Whether discussing issues of Life, Religious Liberty, the Church, or Human Dignity, listeners can expect an intelligent and thoughtful conversation from a faithful Catholic perspective with the leading thinkers of our time,” he said.

The first month of “Conversations with Consequences” will see guests including Mary Rice Hasson, a Catholic studies fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, who will discuss transgenderism and gender ideology; and George Weigel, distinguished senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, who will talk about the abuse crisis, religious liberty, and the imprisonment of Cardinal George Pell.

The show will also tackle current political issues, with U.S. Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.) scheduled to discuss pro-life issues, and U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback slated to discuss religious liberty as guests on the show in the upcoming month.

“Conversations with Consequences” will be produced at EWTN’s Washington, D.C. studios and will be released each Saturday at 5 p.m. ET on EWTN Radio.

Currently in its 38th year, EWTN Global Catholic Network is the world’s largest religious media network. It offers 11 global TV channels, broadcast in multiple languages 24 hours a day, seven days a week to more than 300 million television households in more than 145 countries and territories. Other EWTN platforms include radio services transmitted via SIRIUS/XM, iHeart Radio, and more than 500 domestic and international AM & FM radio affiliates, and a worldwide shortwave radio service. EWTN also offers one of the largest Catholic websites in the U.S.; electronic and print news services, including Catholic News Agency and the National Catholic Register; and a book publishing division.


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Connecticut bishops say vaccines are moral, religious liberty should be respected

January 31, 2020 CNA Daily News 0

Hartford, Conn., Jan 31, 2020 / 04:28 pm (CNA).- The Catholic bishops of Connecticut issued a statement Tuesday clarifying Church teaching on vaccines, as legislators in the state consider a proposal that would eliminate the option for religious exemptions from vaccines.

The bishops said that while the Church considers vaccines to be moral and encourages their use, religious freedom is also an important right to protect.

“The Catholic Church encourages the use of vaccines, and our Connecticut Catholic schools require mandatory vaccinations,” the bishops said Jan. 28.

The bishops issued their statement ahead of a Feb. 19 hearing, during which Connecticut lawmakers will hear arguments from hundreds of people regarding the proposal to eliminate the religious exemption for vaccines, the Hartford Courant reported.

The bill, which would eliminate the exemption if passed, is being drafted ahead of the hearing but may be amended afterward. The Hartford Courant reported that at one time, lawmakers were considering “grandfathering in” children who already enrolled in school with a religious exemption for their vaccines, allowing them to stay enrolled in school. However, the paper reported, legislators seemed to be reconsidering that proposal.

“(State Health Commissioner Renee) Coleman-Mitchell and other state officials have cited concern for children with compromised immune systems who cannot receive shots for medical reasons,” should the exemption remain, the Hartford Courant reported. If passed, religious exemptions for enrollment in school would be eliminated by October 2021.

In their statement, the bishops recognized that conscientious objection to vaccines often arises with “certain vaccines that use human fetal cell lines, but the use of such vaccines is not immoral according to Church guidance.”

The bishops recommended that concerned Catholics reference the Pontifical Academy for Life’s guidance to Catholics on vaccines.

In these guidelines, the academy states that Catholics should advocate for morally uncomplicated alternatives to vaccines that are made from fetal cell lines, and for which there are no alternatives.

The academy notes that conscientious objection may be used as one way to advocate for moral vaccine alternatives, “if it can be done without causing children, and indirectly the population as a whole, to undergo significant risks to their health.”

It adds that conscientious objection to such vaccines is not a moral obligation for Catholics, especially if and when it would cause “grave inconvenience” in threatening the health and life of children and other vulnerable populations.

“In any case, there remains a moral duty to continue to fight and to employ every lawful means in order to make life difficult for the pharmaceutical industries which act unscrupulously and unethically. However, the burden of this important battle cannot and must not fall on innocent children and on the health situation of the population—especially with regard to pregnant women,” the academy states.

The bishops also noted the importance of religious freedom in debates about vaccines and religious exemptions.

“The Connecticut Catholic Conference, our public policy office, stands as a defender of religious liberty for all,” they said. “In general, the Conference maintains that all religious exemptions should be jealously guarded.”

“Any repeal of a religious exemption should be rooted in legitimate, grave public health concerns. The existence of a health risk in the state of Connecticut is a question of fact beyond our expertise at this time,” the bishops concluded.

States and schools are grappling with religious exemptions to vaccines as the number of people declining vaccines for religious or personal reasons has increased.

In October 2019, the Archdiocese of Seattle announced that it would no longer admit children to Catholic schools who did not have mandatory vaccinations, and that it would no longer allow personal or religious exemptions.

In 2016, California passed a law adding more stringent guidelines as to what counted for medical and personal exemptions from vaccines, which also called for the investigation of doctors who wrote too many exemptions in a year. Since the law passed, the state has recovered a 95% vaccination rate, Forbes reported, the rate needed for herd immunity against vaccine-preventable diseases.

The Hartford Courant noted that an effort to eliminate religious exemptions to vaccines was recently defeated in New Jersey, and that groups in Connecticut advocating for religious exemptions hoped for a similar outcome.

In the U.S., measles outbreaks have occurred in recent years as more people decline vaccinations. As of October 25, 2019, the Connecticut Department of Public Health confirmed four cases of measles for that year in the state. Nationally, the Center for Disease Control reported that 2019 marked the highest measles rate in the United States in 27 years, with most cases of the measles occurring in unvaccinated people.


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Leaked Amazon synod text on priestly ordination of married men a draft

January 31, 2020 CNA Daily News 5

Vatican City, Jan 31, 2020 / 03:15 pm (CNA).- A text presented Friday by Roberto de Mattei of Corrispondenza Romana as a portion of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation following the Amazon synod is a draft, and not necessarily the final version, according to a Vatican source.

“What is now circulating is one draft, which was distributed for review and comment as the final text is developed,” a source in the Dicastery for Communication told CNA Jan. 31.

The text provided by de Mattei is substantially identical to article 111 of the final document of the Amazon synod, which calls for the ordination of married men as priests.

That article of the final document proposes “that criteria and dispositions be established by the competent authority, within the framework of Lumen Gentium 26, to ordain as priests suitable and respected men of the community … who have had a fruitful permanent diaconate and receive an adequate formation for the priesthood, in order to sustain the life of the Christian community through the preaching of the Word and the celebration of the Sacraments in the most remote areas of the Amazon region.”

According to de Mattei, the text he published came to him “from several bishops” who had received a portion of the forthcoming apostolic exhortation.

Earlier this month Cardinal Claudio Hummes, the relator general of the Amazon synod, sent a letter to some ordinaries indicating that the apostolic exhortation should be promulgated in January or February.

“The draft is currently being reviewed and corrected and then needs to be translated. Pope Francis hopes to promulgate it by the end of this month or in early February,” Cardinal Hummes, who is also president of the Pan Amazonic Church Network, wrote in a Jan. 13 letter.  

Among the works of REPAM is “protection for the 137 ‘contactless tribes’ of the Amazon and affirmation of their right to live undisturbed.”

Cardinal Hummes said in his letter that Francis is preparing the exhortation “to present the New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology as developed with the guidance of the Holy Spirit” during the Amazon synod.

According to Cardinal Hummes, the exhortation “is keenly awaited and will attract great interest and many different responses.”

The cardinal added that the pope wants ordinaries to receive the text “before it is published and before the world press starts to comment on it, and join him in presenting the Exhortation and making it accessible to the faithful, to fellow believers and all people of good will, and to the media, the academic world, and others in positions of authority and influence.”

Cardinal Hummes offered “some suggestions” to bishops on how to prepare well for the exhortation’s release. “The purpose is not to generate publicity or attract attention. Rather, it is quietly to support you the Ordinary, in communion with Pope Francis, as you prepare to receive the Exhortation and pass it on to the People of God in your jurisdiction.”

In addition to advocating the priestly ordination of married men, the synod’s final document called for women to be considered for diaconal ordination. It presented the synod assembly’s reflections and conclusions on topics ranging from environmentalism, inculturation in the Church, and the human rights of indigenous communities in the face of economic, environmental, and cultural exploitation.

Four days before the final document was approved, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna indicated that it was to be written principally by a team chaired by Cardinal Hummes.