No Picture
News Briefs

A relic of Blessed Carlo Acutis’ heart is coming to New York

March 18, 2022 Catholic News Agency 3
A reliquary containing relics of Blessed Carlo Acutis at the Church of Sant’Angela Merici in Rome, Oct 11, 2021. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Rome Newsroom, Mar 18, 2022 / 06:35 am (CNA).

A relic of Blessed Carlo Acutis’ heart is coming to New York in the first week of April.

Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino of Assisi will personally take the first-class relic from Italy to New York City on April 3.

The relic is a fragment of Acutis’ pericardium, the membrane that surrounds and protects the heart. It will be present for the U.S. bishops’ National Eucharistic Revival campaign, of which the Italian Blessed is a patron.

In the Catholic Church, relics are physical objects that have a direct association with the saints. Veneration of relics is a Scripture-based tradition practiced in the Church throughout the centuries.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, will offer a Mass with the relic in the Church of St. Rita in the Bronx on April 7.

Acutis was a young Catholic from Italy with a passionate devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and an aptitude for computer programming.

He died of leukemia in 2006 at the age of 15, offering his suffering for the pope and the Church.

Acutis became the first millennial to be beatified by the Catholic Church in October 2020. His tomb is located in the Shrine of the Renunciation, which is part of the Church of St. Mary Major in Assisi.

Pope Francis has said that Blessed Carlo’s “witness shows today’s young people that true happiness is found by putting God in first place and serving Him in our brothers and sisters, especially the least.”

During his visit to the U.S. on April 3-8, Archbishop Sorrentino will offer a Mass with the relic for 2,400 high school students at Saint Anthony’s High School in South Huntington in the Diocese of Rockville Center.

The bishop of Assisi will also lead a holy hour for young people and adults at the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the Diocese of Brooklyn.

“It is a joy for me to bring this relic from Assisi,” Sorrentino said in a March 18 press release from the Diocese of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino.

“My prayer is that the presence of the relic of Blessed Carlo will arouse a desire in our American brothers and sisters, especially young people, not to waste their lives, but to make them a masterpiece, like Carlo chose in our time and St. Francis before him,” he said.


No Picture
News Briefs

Funeral Mass for NYPD officer held at St Patrick’s Cathedral

January 28, 2022 Catholic News Agency 0
A priest sprinkles holy water on the casket of fallen NYPD Officer Jason Rivera during his funeral at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Jan. 28, 2022 in New York City. The 22-year-old NYPD officer was shot and killed on January 21 in Harlem while responding to a domestic disturbance call. Rivera’s partner, Officer Wilbert Mora, also died from injuries suffered in the shooting. / Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New York City, N.Y., Jan 28, 2022 / 16:24 pm (CNA).

NYPD Officer Jason Rivera, 22, was remembered on Friday as a dedicated police officer whose life was cut short in the line of duty. 

“He lived his dream, although too short a time,” said Fr. Robert J. Abbatiello, O.F.M. Cap. during Rivera’s funeral Mass Jan. 28 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. 

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York was the principal celebrant, and the Mass was concelebrated by NYPD chaplains. 

Abbatiello, the homilist, knew the Rivera family when he was the pastor at Good Shepherd Parish in Inwood, New York. 

Rivera, said Abbatiello, “made a difference” during his career with the NYPD, and was a “loving son who wanted to make his parents proud.” He was in his second year of service with the NYPD when he and his partner, Officer Wilbert Mora, 27, were fatally shot on Jan. 21. They were responding to a domestic disturbance. 

Mora died on Jan. 25, after spending four days in the hospital in critical condition. Dolan made a visit to his bedside and prayed for him. 

Mora’s funeral Mass will be celebrated next week, also at St. Patrick’s. 

The child of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, Rivera sought to improve the relationship between his community and the police. Abbatiello told Rivera’s parents that they could be “very proud of your son.” 

“The sting of death is here,” he said. “Truth be told, we still haven’t made sense of their deaths.” 

Thousands, including police officers from around the country, attended Rivera’s funeral. 

Rivera married his childhood sweetheart, Dominique Luzuriaga, four months ago. She also spoke at the Mass, criticizing Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg for his policies keeping criminals out of the jail system. 

“The system continued to fail us. We are not safe anymore, not even the members of the service,” said Luzuriaga. 

Speaking to her husband, she added, “I know you were tired of these laws, especially the ones from the new DA. I hope he’s watching you speak through me right now.” 

Luzuriaga received applause. 

Bragg issued a statement condemning violence against police officers, and pledging to “vigorously prosecute cases of violence against police and work to prevent senseless acts like this from ever happening again.”


No Picture
News Briefs

NYC pro-abortion activists curse at churchgoers, beam ‘God loves abortion’ onto St. Patrick’s Cathedral

January 24, 2022 Catholic News Agency 0
Pro-abortion demonstrators yelled obscenities at people leaving a pro-life vigil at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City on Jan. 22, 2022. / Joe Bukuras/CNA

New York City, N.Y., Jan 24, 2022 / 16:15 pm (CNA).

Barricades and a line of police protected pro-life attendees entering and exiting the Archdiocese of New York’s Prayer Vigil for Life at St. Patrick’s Cathedral Saturday night, as members of the activist group New York City for Abortion Rights chanted insults and screamed vulgarities at them.

“Go to h*** b****,” one protester screamed at a churchgoer. Multiple other demonstrators screamed “F*** you” and made obscene gestures as a range of people from young children to elderly men and women exited the midtown Manhattan church. 

In addition to the vulgarities, demonstrators chanted “Shame,” “Thank God for abortion,” “Go home fascists, go home,” and “New York hates you,” along with pro-choice slogans aimed at churchgoers.

Toward the end of the protest, pro-abortion slogans including “God loves abortion,” and “Abortion forever” were illuminated up on the exterior of the cathedral as demonstrators cheered. On Jan. 20 in Washington, D.C., another activist group, Catholics for Choice, projected pro-choice slogans on the facade of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception during a Mass and Holy Hour on the eve of the March for Life.

Approximately 100 demonstrators attended the New York City rally, which organizers dubbed “F*** the March for Life” in an Instagram post. Many of the participants used drums, shakers, and other noisemakers, which were audible to those inside the cathedral.

The Prayer Vigil for Life marked the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide. In accord with the U.S. bishops’ call for penance and prayer for violations against the dignity of the unborn, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York celebrated the Vigil Mass at 5:30 p.m., which was followed by an hour of Eucharistic adoration.

“When a nation founded on the right to life and the equal protection of law for all life finds such violence to be legal, as it did 49 years ago today in legalizing abortion, boy that’s tragic,” Dolan said during his homily. “That’s not right. That’s not natural. That’s not the way God intended it. That’s not the way our country intended it.”

Nathan Long (in white cap) and his teenage son have a brief interaction with one of the demonstrators at a pro-abortion rally outside St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City on Jan. 22, 2022. Joe Bukuras/CNA
Nathan Long (in white cap) and his teenage son have a brief interaction with one of the demonstrators at a pro-abortion rally outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City on Jan. 22, 2022. Joe Bukuras/CNA

Among those who were screamed upon exiting the vigil were Nathan Long and his teen-age son. The two had a brief interaction with one of the demonstrators.

“I looked at him and I was just kind of praying,” Long told CNA afterward. “He’s just uninformed and I think he’s lost the spirit of Christ.”

Long, a father of seven from Dallas, Texas, said he thinks most of the protesters aren’t educated on the issue of life. “We’re living in a society where people just want to pick up the torch and be angry at anything,” he added.

One of the many slogans that protesters chanted at churchgoers was “Stop harassing patients!”

The chant referred to a recurring pro-life day of prayer called Witness for Life, which consists of Mass and Eucharistic adoration, followed by a rosary procession to the nearby Planned Parenthood and then a vigil in front of the clinic. 

The pro-abortion demonstrators on Saturday handed out flyers that state that many attendees at the Prayer Vigil for Life are Witness for Life attendees as well. The flyers claim there is “nothing peaceful” about the Witness for Life.

“They intimidate patients by praying, holding offensive signs, [and] impersonating clinic escorts to coerce patients,” the flyer states.

New York City for Abortion Rights often protests the Witness for Life. The pro-abortion group made headlines in July for standing in front of the rosary procession in order to block their path to the Planned Parenthood. Police officers were required to escort the rosary procession and separate the demonstrators. 

Toward the end of Saturday’s rally, a woman who appeared to be an organizer announced to the demonstrators that the group would be protesting the next Witness for Life event Feb. 5 by slowing down participants’ rosary procession “with our bodies.”


No Picture
News Briefs

In win for Anglican nuns, Supreme Court orders new scrutiny for New York mandatory abortion coverage

November 1, 2021 Catholic News Agency 0
Sisterhood of Saint Mary with bishops from the Anglican Church of North America’s Diocese of the Living Word. / Courtesy of Becket.

Washington D.C., Nov 1, 2021 / 15:56 pm (CNA).

Foes of mandatory coverage of abortion in New York State insurance law will have another hearing after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a New York state court to reconsider their decision. The law’s narrow religious exemption wrongly disqualifies many religious groups which object to providing abortion, critics said.

A group of Anglican nuns is among the objectors.

“We believe that every person is made in the image of God,” said Mother Miriam of the Sisterhood of Saint Mary, an Anglican body. “That’s why we believe in the sanctity of human life, and why we seek to serve those of all faiths—or no faith at all—in our community. We’re grateful that the Supreme Court has taken action in our case and hopeful that, this time around, the New York Court of Appeals will preserve our ability to serve and encourage our neighbors.”

The Sisterhood of Saint Mary, also known as the Sisters of the Community of St. Mary, is aligned with the Anglican Church in North America. It was founded in 1865 and claims to be the oldest Anglican religious order in the United States.

The Anglican sisters are part of a coalition of religious groups challenging the New York State mandate requiring employers to cover abortions in their health plans. They are represented by attorneys from the religious freedom legal group Becket and the law firm Jones Day.

Eric Baxter, vice president and senior counsel at Becket, alluded to the Little Sisters of the Poor who fought a years-long court battle to secure relief from a federal mandate to cover contraceptive drugs, including drugs that can cause abortions.

“New York clearly learned nothing from the federal government’s own attempts to force nuns to pay for contraceptives and is now needlessly threatening charities because they believe in the dignity and humanity of every human person,” Baxter said Nov. 1.

“Punishing faith groups for ministering to their local communities is cruel and counterproductive,” he said. “We are thankful that the Supreme Court won’t allow the New York Court of Appeals’ bad ruling to be the last word on the right of religious ministries to serve New Yorkers of all faiths.”

On Nov. 1, the Supreme Court vacated the state appellate court’s judgment in the case Diocese of Albany v. Lacewell. The lower court must now reconsider the decision in light of Fulton v. Philadelphia, a case in which the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the City of Philadelphia violated a Catholic foster care agency’s free exercise of religion by requiring it to certify same-sex couples as foster parents.

Becket said the religious exemption is “so narrow that Jesus himself would not qualify for it.” Only religious groups that primarily serve and employ people of their own religion are exempt.

The Anglican nuns’ sponsorship of a 4-H club and their agricultural outreach ministry program that allows local youth to lease their goats would disqualify them for the exemption, the legal group said.

The Sisters of the Community of St. Mary, Eastern Province have two houses: one in Greenwich, New York, and one in Luwinga, Malawi. They claim a Benedictine ethos, seeking to “draw near to Jesus Christ through a disciplined life of prayer set within a simple agrarian lifestyle and active ministry in their local communities,” their website says.

For over 150 years, the sisters’ province was linked to the Episcopal Church. In 2021 they affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America after controversies in the Episcopal Church, including the disciplining of an Episcopal Bishop of Albany who refused to bless same-sex couples.

The 2017 mandate from the superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services required that employers cover “medically necessary” abortions in their employee health insurance plans. The stated justification was that the state’s insurance law bars limits on or exclusion of coverage based on medical condition or treatment, the New York Times reports.

At minimum, medically necessary abortions would include abortions of pregnancies conceived in rape or incest or those in which the unborn child is malformed. However, the superintendent said that the determination of medical necessity is made by a patient’s health care provider, in consultation with the patient.

“The mandate thus appears to cover abortions of babies afflicted with Down Syndrome and other maladies,” said the petitioners’ brief.

The coalition of petitioners against the New York mandate also includes the Catholic dioceses of Albany and Ogdensburg; their Catholic Charities affiliates, as well as Catholic Charities, Diocese of Brooklyn; and the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm. The First Bible Baptist Church of Hilton, New York is also a petitioner.

If the groups do not comply with the mandate, they could face fines of millions of dollars per year. Their petition to the Supreme Court argues that the state is making religious organizations choose between violating their core beliefs, being financially crushed, or closing down services.

Attorneys for the state of New York argued that the mandate’s exception mirrors language used in other contexts. They argued that there is no evidence that health insurance plans that cover abortions cost more money.

“The record thus contains no evidence that by purchasing policies that include the subject coverage, a purchaser funds, even indirectly, medically necessary abortion services,” they argued, according to USA Today.

For his part, Roman Catholic Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany said he was “confident” that the regulation will be “completely overturned as incompatible with our country’s First Amendment guarantee of religious liberty.”

“We are gratified and grateful that the Supreme Court has recognized the serious constitutional concerns over New York State’s heavy-handed abortion mandate on religious employers,” he said.

Some Supreme Court justices appeared more favorable towards giving the case a national platform. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch would have granted the petition for an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

While religious freedom was for decades an unquestioned American principle, various controversies over health care mandates and LGBT rights claims have made it an area of dispute.

As CNA has previously reported, multiple wealthy donors have poured millions of dollars into a patronage network that aims to limit religious freedom protections that conflict with their vision of LGBT rights and abortion access. Some of these donors, such as the Arcus Foundation, have also backed religious groups that reject Christian teaching on abortion and sexual ethics.

The Covid-19 pandemic has also resulted in religious freedom debates and legal challenges about congregations and individuals who refuse to comply with pandemic mitigation measures and vaccine mandates.