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Judge Amy Barrett’s charismatic Catholicism- Who are the People of Praise?

September 19, 2020 CNA Daily News 1

Washington D.C., Sep 19, 2020 / 03:00 pm (CNA).-  

After the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, reports have circulated that Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a federal judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, is a leading candidate for the country’s high court.

Barrett, a Catholic, was appointed a federal judge in 2017. During and after her confirmation process, questions were raised about her faith, and about her affiliation with a group called the “People of Praise,” a charismatic “covenant community.”

People of Praise has been referred to in the media as a “cult,” and criticized for a practice, which has since been changed, that called leaders “heads” and “handmaidens,” both of which are references to Scripture.

But what is the “People of Praise?” Is it a cult? CNA spoke with current and former members to find out.

Bishop Peter Smith is a member of the Brotherhood of the People of Praise, an association of priests connected to the group, founded with the support of the late Cardinal Francis George of Chicago. Smith was ordained a bishop on April 29, 2014.

People of Praise was founded in 1971 as part of the era’s “great emergence of lay ministries and lay movements in the Catholic Church,” Smith told CNA.

The group began with 29 members who formed a “covenant”- an agreement, not an oath, to follow common principles, to give five percent of annual income to the group, and to meet regularly for spiritual, social, and service projects.

Covenant communities- Protestant and Catholic- emerged across the country in the 1970s, as a part of the Charismatic Renewal movement in American Christianity.

While most People of Praise members are Catholic, the group is officially ecumenical; people from a variety of Christian denominations can join. Members of the group are free to attend the church of their choosing, including different Catholic parishes, Smith explained.

“We’re a lay movement in the Church,” Smith explained. “There are plenty of these. We continue to try and live out life and our calling as Catholics, as baptized Christians, in this particular way, as other people do in other callings or ways that God may lead them into the Church.”

Cardinal George, who was widely reputed among bishops for orthodoxy, wrote of the group: “In my acquaintance with the People of Praise, I have found men and women dedicated to God and eager to seek and do His divine will. They are shaped by love of Holy Scripture, prayer and community; and the Church’s mission is richer for their presence.”

The group was tapped to assist with the formation of deacons in at least one diocese, and several members have been ordained deacons.

While Barrett is known for her judicial conservatism, particularly on life issues, the group is not partisan. A person’s political viewpoints do not play a role in membership, Smith told CNA.

“I know for a fact there are both registered Republicans and Democrats as well as independents in the People of Praise,” said Smith.

There are an estimated 2,000 adult members of People of Praise. The organization has priest members in two dioceses, and operates three schools in the United States.

Barrett’s Catholic faith came under scrutiny in 2017, when she was nominated for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. During a confirmation hearing, she was asked by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) if she was an “orthodox Catholic” who believed in the Church’s teachings. Feinstein also said that “the dogma lives loudly” in Barrett- that phrase has become which a rallying cry of sorts among many Catholics. #DogmaLivesLoudly has even become a popular hashtag.

Some former members of the People of Praise allege that leaders have exerted undue influence over family decision-making, or pressured the children of members to commit to the group before being able to make that decisions with maturity.

One critic, philosopher Adrian Reimers, has written that the group has made “serious errors” in its theological approach.

People of Praise does not publicy disclose its membership, and declined CNA’s request for comment.

Acknowledging the criticisms the group has faced, a former member of People of Praise told CNA that “the rank and file People of Praise members are very, very good people, wholeheartedly dedicated to the Lord,” he said.

Bishop Smith rejected the idea that there is anything out of the ordinary or inappropriate about People of Praise. If affiliation with the group were something to be concerned about, he said, he would not have been made a bishop.

“When one becomes a bishop, they check your background out very, very closely,” Smith said. “My People of Praise affiliation was very clear in my consideration for appointment as bishop, so the Holy Father Pope Francis appointed me bishop, knowing full well my involvement with People of Praise.”

“If this was a nefarious group, I certainly wouldn’t be part of it, and I certainly wouldn’t be in the position that I’m in as well.”

 

A version of this story was first published in July 2018, when Barrett was first on the shortlist for a Supreme Court seat. It has since been updated.

 


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No Picture
News Briefs

Catholic Amy Coney Barrett front-runner as Trump signals Supreme Court nomination plans

September 19, 2020 CNA Daily News 4

CNA Staff, Sep 19, 2020 / 10:00 am (CNA).- President Donald Trump on Saturday signaled he would soon nominate a potential replacement to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday evening at 87. Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a Catholic mother of seven, is widely reported to be the front-runner in the president’s deliberations regarding a nominee.

“.@GOP We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices. We have this obligation, without delay!” the president tweeted Saturday morning.

 

.@GOP We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices. We have this obligation, without delay!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2020

 

Barrett, a federal judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, has been reported to lead the president’s short list, and was also a contender for Trump’s second Supreme Court nomination in 2018, before the president nominated Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

According to Axios, Trump reportedly in 2018 told confidantes of Barrett that he was “saving her for Ginsburg” in explanation of his decision not to appoint her to the Supreme Court seat vacated by Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Appointed a federal judge in 2017, Barrett had been a professor at Notre Dame’s law school until her nomination was confirmed. Barrett has twice been honored as “Distinguished Professor of the Year” at Notre Dame, and had clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

As a nominee to the federal bench, Barrett was pointedly questioned by Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee in 2017 on how her Catholic faith would influence her decisions as a judge on cases of abortion and same-sex marriage.

Pro-life groups hailed Barrett’s 2017 appointment to the bench.

Barrett is the mother of seven children, including two adopted from Haiti; one of her children has special needs. She is also reportedly a member of the People of Praise charismatic community, which was criticized as a “cult” during her 2017 confirmation hearings.

Bishop Peter Smith, a member of a related association of priests, told CNA in 2018 that there is not anything unusual or out of the ordinary about the group, which is a “covenant community,” mostly of laity.

“We’re a lay movement in the Church,” Smith explained. “There are plenty of these. We continue to try and live out life and our calling as Catholics, as baptized Christians, in this particular way, as other people do in other callings or ways that God may lead them into the Church.”

Whether or not he selects Barrett, Trump’s likely nomination of a Supreme Court Justice to replace GInsburg has become a matter of serious political controversy, in an already fractious U.S. political and social context.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged Friday that a Trump Supreme Court nominee will be voted on for confirmation by the United States Senate, even while there are fewer than seven weeks until the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Democratic leaders have pushed back, and pointed to McConnell’s refusal to consider Obama Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in March 2016, seven months before that year’s presidential contest. At the time, Republicans said that it would be more appropriate to wait until after the November election to fill the Court vacancy.

McConnell defended his decision Friday night, saying that “in the last midterm election before Justice Scalia’s death in 2016, Americans elected a Republican Senate majority because we pledged to check and balance the last days of a lame-duck president’s second term. We kept our promise. Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year.”

“By contrast, Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary, we will keep our promise,” McConnell said.

Also reportedly on Trump’s short list are is 11th Circuit Court judge Britt Grant, 6th Circuit Court Judges Amul Thapar and Joan Larsen, and 10th Circuit Judge Allison Eid.


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No Picture
News Briefs

Catholics respond after Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

September 18, 2020 CNA Daily News 7

Denver Newsroom, Sep 18, 2020 / 06:55 pm (CNA).-  

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who served on the court for more than 27 years, died of pancreatic cancer Sept. 18. She was 87.

President Bill Clinton appointed Ginsburg to the Supreme Court in 1993. Ginsburg had previously been an appeals court judge.

Ginsburg, who was Jewish, was noted for her friendship with Antonin Scalia, a Catholic and fellow Supreme Court Justice, who died in 2016.

Scalia’s son Christopher tweeted some recollections of his father’s friendship with Ginsburg after her death was announced.

 

I’m very sad to hear about the passing of my parents’ good friend, and my father’s wonderful colleague, Justice Ginsburg. May her memory be a blessing. I’d like to share a couple of passages that convey what she meant to my dad…/3

— Christopher J. Scalia (@cjscalia) September 18, 2020

 

Ginsburg expressed her support for legalized abortion during her 1993 Senate confirmation hearing, as she had also done in previously. Though she was publicly critical before her appointment of the legal reasoning used in Roe v. Wade, Ginsburg consistently penned opinions in favor of abortion and contraception, including a 2007 dissent in a case upholding a law that banned partial-birth abortion. 

Ginsburg’s death could tip the balance of the court to a 6-3 conservative majority, if President Donald Trump nominates a new justice to fill the vacancy left by Ginsburg before the November election.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said previously he would try to ensure Senate confirmation of a Trump Supreme Court nominee. Senate Democrats have expressed opposition to any nomination, citing McConnell’s objection to Barack Obama’s March 2016 of Merrick Garland to the court. At the time, Senate Republicans said they would not consider an appointment during an election year.

In a statement released Friday night, McConnell said that “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

Trump last week expanded a list of potential judicial nominees under his consideration. At a presidential debate in October 2016, Trump pledged to appoint justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade. In 2017, he nominated Neil Gorsuch to be Scalia’s replacement, and in 2018 he nominated Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was retiring.

Catholics on social media urged prayers for Ginsburg and her family Friday evening.

Fr. Pius Pietrzyk, OP, a civil and canon lawyer and a professor of canon law at St. Patrick’s University and Seminary in California tweeted that: “In our modern divided politics the friendship between Justices Ginsburg and Scalia shone as a model of the respect that people can have for each other, even if they disagree.  May she, now along with him, rest in peace.”

In our modern divided politics the friendship between Justices Ginsburg and Scalia shone as a model of the respect that people can have for each other, even if they disagree. May she, now along with him, rest in peace.

— Fr. Pius Pietrzyk OP (@PiusOP) September 19, 2020

 

Many reactions came from pro-life organizations, some of whom expressed their hopes for a pro-life replacement on the court.

“Rest in peace, Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Let’s pray for the repose of her soul and for her family. Let’s continue to pray for our nation,” said Lila Rose, president of the pro-life group Live Action.

 

Rest in peace, Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Let’s pray for the repose of her soul and for her family. Let’s continue to pray for our nation.

— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) September 18, 2020

Americans United for Life, a national pro-life group, noted that despite some positive elements in Ginsburg’s efforts for gender equality, her pro-abortion jurisprudence has left a far more regrettable legacy.

“We are grateful for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s contributions as an advocate prior to being a judge, in bringing down legal barriers to women’s advancement in American society. We are deeply saddened by her death, particularly at this moment in our nation’s history,” the group said on Twitter.

“Abortion is understood for what it is by millions of Americans due to its cruelty and violence. Future generations will not smile on the culture of indifference toward human life that Justice Ginsburg perpetuated [for] women who deserve better…Abortion doesn’t contribute to women’s happiness, and abortion isn’t necessary for women to succeed.”

 

We are grateful for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s contributions as an advocate prior to being a judge, in bringing down legal barriers to women’s advancement in American society. We are deeply saddened by her death, particularly at this moment in our nation’s history. pic.twitter.com/hnLkVsbCBc

— Americans United for Life (@AUL) September 19, 2020

 

Pro-life group Students for Life tweeted: “Tonight, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has passed away, and our thoughts are with her family.”

“In partnership with Students for Life Action, we call for President Trump to move quickly with an appointment, in light of her tragic death.”

 

Tonight, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has passed away, and our thoughts are with her family.

In partnership with Students for Life Action, we call for President Trump to move quickly with an appointment, in light of her tragic death. https://t.co/z9kKwPX9om

— studentsforlife (@StudentsforLife) September 19, 2020

 

Ginsburg had survived several bouts of cancer before she died surrounded by her family, the Supreme Court said. Her husband, Marty Ginsburg, died in 2010.

 


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No Picture
News Briefs

Pelosi ‘misspoke’ on San Francisco Mass attendance, spokesman claims

September 18, 2020 CNA Daily News 0

Washington D.C., Sep 18, 2020 / 05:58 pm (CNA).-  

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office told CNA Friday evening that she “misspoke” when she described “recently” attending Mass in a San Francisco church, despite the city’s months-long ban on indoor Masses.

“The Speaker misspoke. She has not been in San Francisco since September 5th due to ongoing talks around COVID relief and appropriations,” spokesman Drew Hammill from the Speaker’s office told CNA in a statement on Friday evening.

“She [Pelosi] has been participating regularly in church services virtually,” Hammill said.

Hammill did not explain what Pelosi referred to when she described Sept. 18 attending what appeared to be an indoor Mass and receiving Communion “recently” at a San Francisco church.

Earlier on Friday morning, at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol, Pelosi was asked by Erik Rosales of EWTN News Nightly about a recent op-ed by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, Pelosi’s archbishop, on the “unfairness” of the city’s public health rules.

Cordileone had pointed out the city’s ban on indoor religious services—except for funerals—during the pandemic while gyms and hair salons were allowed to serve some customers indoors.

Pelosi answered that “I have been to church in San Francisco recently, and I did receive Communion.”

She then went on to describe the experience in some detail, noting that she had to “sign up” to attend and that “I got in under the wire” as there were only two places left.

San Francisco has banned public indoor religious services—except for funerals—for months. Outdoor services are permitted with a cap on 12 people, although Speaker Pelosi’s recollection of the event recounted an indoor service.

“And when we got there—the church maybe holds 250 people. There were probably 12 people,” she said, “very, very, very spaced. But that was it, no more would be allowed.”

“And then we did receive Communion,” she said, noting that the priest washed his hands before distributing Communion, and that she received Communion in the hand.

“I miss going to church regularly,” she said. “Of course, we have virtual Mass here, many Masses in D.C., but all the other places…”

On Friday evening, however, Pelosi’s office told CNA that she “misspoke,” but did not explain in what she had misspoken.

Public Masses in San Francisco were suspended by the archdiocese on March 17, and the city’s public health ordinances have not yet allowed for public indoor Masses.

Archbishop Cordileone later informed parishes that they could resume public Masses on June 14, according to the city attorney’s office. However, the city said it informed the archdiocese on June 11 that indoor Masses were still barred “for the time being” as a public health risk.

Exceptions were made only for funerals with 12 or fewer persons, and live-streamed services where only necessary personnel were present to help with the Mass or video production.

On June 29, the city sent the archdiocese a cease-and-desist letter for public indoor Masses, saying that it had not officially amended the health order to allow for them.

“Our intention has always been to conform to what we understand to be the City orders and timelines,” the archdiocese said July 2, noting that the city’s orders had changed through the pandemic.

The situation continued through the summer. Archbishop Cordileone on July 30 urged prayer and fasting for an end to the pandemic and “for a restoration of public worship unhindered.”

In August, Cordileone asked the mayor to “at a minimum, remove the excessive limits on outdoor public worship.”

The city, meanwhile, watched for any possible violations of its order, sending the archdiocese a letter on Aug. 12 outlining “several things of concern.”

The city’s mayor, London Breed, announced this week that outdoor religious services with up to 50 people would be permitted beginning Sept. 14, but indoor religious services were still prohibited until Oct. 1, where they would be permitted with a cap at 25 people.

Archbishop Cordileone is leading a Eucharistic procession past city hall on Sept. 20 as a protest against the ongoing orders limiting Masses. He wrote in his Washington Post op-ed that “all we are seeking is access to worship in our own churches, following reasonable safety protocols.”

Pelosi, on Friday morning, said that the archbishop should abide by science in his desire to reopen churches.

“With all due respect to my archbishop, I think we should follow science on this,” she said.

She later added that “I don’t know if he [Cordileone] was speaking as our pastor or as a lobbyist—advocate. But whatever it is, I am sure that he must have meant [reopen churches] if it is scientifically safe, rather than jeopardizing people’s health if they want to go to Church.”

 


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No Picture
News Briefs

Online course for Catholic politicians to study Thomas More, John Paul II, Dag Hammarskjöld

September 18, 2020 CNA Daily News 1

CNA Staff, Sep 18, 2020 / 01:00 pm (CNA).- What do St. Thomas More, St. John Paul II, and Dag Hammarskjöld have in common?

According to a new course by the International Catholic Legislators Network, they all modeled the beatitudes in their roles as political and religious leaders.

In the second part of online classes for Catholic and other Christian political leaders, ICLN is studying these three men for their course “The Virtues Practiced by Great Statesmen who Changed the World.”

“What these remarkable leaders had in common was that they were Christians first, and all else followed from this that constituted their core identity,” the ICLN said in a statement about the course.

“The times in which they lived and fruitfully worked in the service of God and their fellow human beings were no less challenging than the conflict-ridden and confused world in which we live today,” the ICLN stated. “Thus, they offer concrete answers and useful suggestions for what it takes to be a faithful and highly effective Christian leader in public office in secular society today.”

St. Thomas More was a 15th century lawyer, author, and statesman who lost his life opposing Henry VIII’s plan to subordinate the Church to the English monarchy.

More’s eventual martyrdom would come as a consequence of Henry VIII’s own tragic downfall. The king wanted a declaration of nullity of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, a marriage that Clement VII declared to be valid. More refused, and was eventually imprisoned and killed for refusing to accept Henry VIII’s new marriage to Anne Boleyn and for rejecting his attempt at seizing control of the Church. In the ICLN course, More will be studied for modeling the virtues of humility and righteousness, according to the course outline.

Dag Hammarskjöld is the second statesmen to be studied in the course. Hammarskjöld, a Swedish diplomat, served as the Secretary General for the United Nations from 1953-1961. He was known for being a deeply religious man who led with integrity and a strong peacekeeping ability. “From scholars and clergymen on my mother’s side, I inherited a belief that, in the very radical sense of the Gospels, all men were equals as children of God, and should be met and treated by us as our masters in God,” he said in a radio program in 1953.

Hammarskjöld died under mysterious circumstances in a plane crash in 1961 while on a peacekeeping mission to what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Initial investigations said the cause of the crash was likely pilot error, while subsequent investigations have said that the plane may have been attacked or compromised. The ICLN course noted that Hammarskjöld will be studied as someone who modeled the beatitudes of being “pure in heart” and a “peacemaker.”

St. John Paul II is the third statesmen that the ICLN will study, as someone who modeled the virtues of “courage under persecution and suffering”, as well as mercy. As a young seminarian, St. John Paul II (then Karol Wojtyla) lived through Nazi rule of Poland in World War II. As a priest, bishop, and cardinal, he worked peacefully to oppose the anti-religious communist rule in Poland. Once he became pope in 1978, besides leading the Catholic Church for more than 25 years, John Paul II was a key leader in bringing about a peaceful end to communist rule in eastern Europe.

Dr. Christiaan Alting von Geusau, J.D., LL.M, will be the instructor for the ICLN course. Catholic and Christian political leaders who wish to participate in the course may register online. The course will be held for 50 minutes each Thursday, and participants may participate in the live-streamed course or through saved recordings of the course.


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