Boston, Mass., Sep 17, 2019 / 12:25 pm (CNA).- The bishops of Massachusetts warned in a new pastoral letter that climate change has reached a crisis level and requires decisive action. They encouraged Catholics to embrace the message of stewardship in … […]
Denver, Colo., Sep 17, 2019 / 10:03 am (CNA).- Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, who announced in July a diagnosis of the most common form of bladder cancer, said Sept. 16 that his surgeon will allow him to return to his diocese around O… […]
Sacramento, Calif., Sep 17, 2019 / 12:05 am (CNA).- California legislators passed a bill Friday that would require all state universities to offer medication abortions, despite the objections of pro-life leaders.
In a Sept. 16 statement, Andrew Rivas,… […]
Washington D.C., Sep 16, 2019 / 03:59 pm (CNA).- Dr. Leana Wen, the former president of Planned Parenthood whom the board fired in July amid a dispute over the group’s mission, is reportedly still locked in a contract disagreement with the board over the terms of her exit.
According to reports, Wen says that Planned Parenthood is refusing to give her severance pay and pay for her family’s health insurance unless she agrees to a gag clause.
The New York Times reported Saturday that Wen had on Sept. 9 sent a 1,400 word letter to Planned Parenthood’s Board of Directors, accusing the organization of withholding her contractually-mandated health insurance and severance pay as “ransom” to pressure her to sign a confidentiality agreement.
The Times has not released the full text of the letter, and Wen has expressed her disappointment that the letter leaked to the press.
“There should be no dispute regarding the terms of my employment contract, which are clearly spelled out,” she said in a statement.
Melanie Newman, a senior vice president for communications at Planned Parenthood, called Wen’s accusations “unfortunate, saddening, and simply untrue.”
“The attorneys representing the board have made every good faith effort to amicably part from Dr. Wen, and are disappointed that they have been unable to reach a suitable resolution regarding her exit package,” she said, as quoted by the Times.
According to the Times, Newman stated that Wen has remained on payroll during the negotiations and will be salaried through mid-October, with health benefits through the end of that month. She said Planned Parenthood had offered Wen a full additional year of salary and health benefits.
Wen took the reigns at Planned Parenthood in September 2018, following the 12-year presidency of Cecile Richards. She was president until July 16, when she announced that the “board ended my employment at a secret meeting.”
“We were engaged in good faith negotiations about my departure based on philosophical differences over the direction and future of Planned Parenthood,” she said via Twitter.
Wen cited philosophical differences with the new board chairs over the direction that the organization should be moving. Wen has said she firmly believes Planned Parenthood to be a healthcare organization, not primarily a political advocacy organization.
“The new Board leadership has determined that the priority of Planned Parenthood moving forward is to double down on abortion rights advocacy,” Wen said.
Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion performer in the United States. In 2016, the organization performed about one out of every three abortions.
Alexis McGill Johnson, a former political organizer, was named acting president after Wen’s ouster, and the organization has said that they hope to appoint a new president by the end of 2019.
Wen said in her September letter, as quoted by the Times, that “there is a vocal minority” including many national staff and board members “who prefer a stridently political, abortion-first philosophy.”
Wen has recently announced her new position as visiting professor at George Washington University, and also that she and her husband are expecting a baby.
Former Planned Parenthood director-turned pro-life advocate Abby Johnson told CNA that Planned Parenthood is “once again showing their true loyalties” and that she hopes Wen will open up about her experience. Johnson left her position as Planned Parenthood and founded And Then There Were None, an organization that seeks to help abortion clinic workers leave the abortion industry.
“Dr. Wen has been horribly betrayed by Planned Parenthood. It’s heartbreaking to watch her former employer throw her under the bus because she dared to question their commitment to actual healthcare,” Johnson said in a statement to CNA.
“They don’t value their employees because they don’t value people, especially pregnant women, who they see more as dollar signs than human beings.”
Johnson has been publicly reaching out to Wen on Twitter to encourage her to speak confidentially about her situation.
“Dr. Wen doesn’t need to go through this ordeal alone,” Johnson said.
“I sincerely hope she knows she has an ally in me, someone who went through a similar situation and who has not only excellent attorneys but also a vast network of support through And Then There Were None who would welcome Dr. Wen with open arms.”
In the past decade, Planned Parenthood has seen its number of patients decline. The number of cancer screenings, contraceptives distributed, and prenatal services provided by the organization decreased as well.
Abortions, however, have increased by about 10 percent since 2006, despite Planned Parenthood seeing fewer patients.
South Bend, Ind., Sep 16, 2019 / 03:30 pm (CNA).- An investigation has been launched by police after more than 2,000 remains of aborted children were found at the former home of late-term abortionist Dr. Ulrich “George” Klopfer in Will County, Illinois.
Klopfer passed away on September 3. Nine days later, an attorney representing his family contacted the Will County coroner’s office, reporting that “medically preserved fetal remains” had been discovered on the property and requesting proper removal. It was discovered that a total of 2,246 fetal remains were on the property.
Authorities say there is no evidence that Klopfer was performing abortions at his house in Illinois.
The Will County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment further to CNA, citing the open and ongoing investigation into the remains and deferring all questions to a forthcoming press conference.
It is unknown what the approximate gestational ages of the fetal remains are, how old the remains were, or where the abortions took place. It is not legal to transport fetal remains over state lines, and abortion in Indiana is not legal past the 22nd week of pregnancy. If the abortions were found to have been performed on older fetuses, Klopfer also would have been guilty of this crime as well.
Klopfer’s medical license was suspended in 2016 following numerous safety and legal violations in the state of Indiana.
Prior losing his medical license, Klopfer was believed to be one of the most prolific abortionists in Indiana. Over his four-decade career, he is estimated to have aborted more than 30,000 children. He worked at three clinics, which he owned, with locations in South Bend, Fort Wayne, and Gary. Klopfer only reported performing first-trimester abortions, rasing further questions about the nature and developmental age of the fetal remains.
His home in Will County, where the remains were discovered, is not far from the Indiana border.
Klopfer’s license was initially suspended in 2015 after he failed to timely report that two of his patients were 13-year-old girls. He was charged with a misdemeanor, but that charge was dropped after the completion of a pre-trial diversion program.
Indiana law requires that abortions on patients that young must be reported within three days, and Klopfer instead waited six months to report their abortions. The state medical board voted to suspend his license, even though the charges were dismissed. The three clinics he owned were all closed by November 2015.
Indiana’s age of consent for sexual intercourse is 16 years old, although there are “Romeo and Juliet” exceptions for consensual relations between two underage teens.
In 2016, after his license was suspended, the state’s attorney general’s office filed a complaint alleging that Klopfer had failed to provide proper personnel to monitor women who were undergoing a surgical abortion procedure. Klopfer was accused of regularly failing to offer painkillers to women undergoing an abortion, and often performed surgical abortions without any anesthetic.
During those proceedings, Klopfer also admitted to performing an abortion in Illinois on a 10-year-old girl who had been raped by her uncle, and that he did not report the crime to the appropriate authorities.
The state’s medical board also found that Klopfer was using outdated surgical practices from the 70s and 80s, and that his facility in Fort Wayne was “rundown, not well-maintained” with expired medications and equipment that did not work.
Police said Klopfer’s family has been cooperating with the investigation.
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is currently a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States. In August, Buttigieg sexpressed support for an unlicensed abortion clinic, Whole Woman’s Health, was beneficial for the women of his city. Due to a court injunction, the clinic is allowed to continue to operate.
“The South Bend clinic would be the only one for a radius of several counties,” said Buttegieg’s press secretary Chris Meagher. “It is a restriction on a woman’s right if she is low-income, or doesn’t have a vehicle, and she has to visit multiple times, but the clinic is dozens of miles away.”
The administrator of Whole Woman’s Health’s South Bend location is a former employee of Dr. Klopfer who worked at his now-shuttered South Bend clinic.
As Mayor of South Bend, Buttigieg attempted to block the operation of a pro-life pregnancy center that was attempting to open next door to Whole Woman’s Health, saying that he thought it was not “responsible.” The pregnancy center, Women’s Care Center, was eventually able to open across the street.
Phoenix, Ariz., Sep 16, 2019 / 01:47 pm (CNA).- The Arizona Supreme Court ruled Monday in favor of two Christian artists who argue that they should not be forced to create custom artwork for same-sex weddings in opposition to their religious beliefs.
Allentown, Pa., Sep 16, 2019 / 12:30 pm (CNA).- A Pennsylvania man who sent online threats to the Little Sisters of the Poor is asking a federal court to allow him out of jail. Jaan Kruus, Jr., 55, will present his bail request in court on Monday at 3pm.
Kruus was was indicted by a federal grand jury in July on two counts of sending threatening messages online, via his computer, to the Little Sisters of the Poor, LehighValleyLive.com reported.
According to the indictment, Kruus sent “a threat to injure another, specifically, persons affiliated with the Little Sisters of the Poor,” on February 1, 2017 and again on May 9, 2017, from Emmaus, Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C.. The Little Sisters of the Poor operate a residence for elderly patients in Northeast Washington, D.C., the Jeanne Jugan Residence.
Kruus was ordered to undergo a health and psychological evaluation by U.S. Magistrate Judge Harry S. Perkin. He requested bail, and at his hearing will take place September 16 in the Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania.
According to his motion for pretrial release, Kruus resides in Emmaus, Pennsylvania and cares for a disabled friend while living with his parents. He was evaluated by psychologist Jeffrey E. Summerton, Ph.D., who decided that he could benefit from mental health counseling and may have anger management issues.
The motion says that after being questioned by FBI agents in June of 2017 about the online threats, Kruus was not arrested or deemed a threat despite having allegedly admitted to sending the threats.
“In its argument for detention the government relies heavily on a crumpled note purportedly in Mr. Kruus’ handwriting that was found in a wastebasket in 2011 by his then and still estranged wife,” the motion states. “The note uses the verbs ‘kill’ and ‘bomb’ in the imperative voice with various objects including his parents, two neighbors, and law enforcement officials.”
“He [Kruus] was investigated by the local police regarding that writing and was not charged. Nothing has come of the writing in the following eight years,” the motion states.
It is unclear from the July indictment what specific content was contained in the threats Kruus sent to the Little Sisters of the Poor in 2017, as well as his motive for doing so.
The Little Sisters of the Poor have been in national news in recent years for their lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate that went all the way to the Supreme Court. The health care law required coverage of certain preventative services in health plans, clarified by the Obama administration to include contraceptives and sterilizations—including emergency contraceptives that prevent implantation of a fertilized embryo, thus causing early abortions.
The religious exemptions to the mandate were narrowly tailored and excluded many religious non-profits that objected to the mandate, including the Little Sisters of the Poor. An “accommodation” offered by the Obama administration did not satisfy the sisters and others, who argued in court that it would still force them to contradict their religious mission in forcing them to provide contraceptive coverage in their health plans.
Although the Trump administration issued a rule in 2017 expanding the religious exemptions to the mandate, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro filed a lawsuit against the religious order, as did the California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, saying the sisters should not receive a religious exemption to the mandate.
The Little Sisters of the Poor congregation was founded in France in 1839 by St. Jeanne Jugan and entered the United States in 1869; the congregation is dedicated to living with and caring for the elderly poor, and serves in more than 30 countries around the world.
Elmira, NY, Sep 14, 2019 / 04:25 am (CNA).- For nearly 15 years, a Catholic charity in south-central New York has sold ceramic bowls to raise both money for a local food pantry and awareness about the problem of homelessness in the region.
Catholic Ch… […]
St. Louis, Mo., Sep 13, 2019 / 05:01 pm (CNA).- Missouri attorney general Eric Schmitt released Friday a report on his investigation into sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clerics in the state, and referred 12 former clerics for potential criminal prosecution.
“Since I took office, one of my top priorities has been conducting a thorough, exhaustive review of allegations of abuse by clergy members in the Roman Catholic Church. Today, as a result of that review, we are announcing that we will refer 12 cases of alleged abuse to local prosecutors for further investigation and possible prosecution – more referrals than any other state attorney general,” Schmitt, who is a Republican and a Catholic, said Sept. 13.
He added that his office will assist any local prosecutors who want to pursue charges.
“Additionally, we’ve provided concrete recommendations to the Catholic Church moving forward,” he added. He noted that his “suggestions for reform” are “aggressive and substantive.”
The attorney general’s office made five recommendations in its report, the first of which was that “the Church should assume greater responsibility and oversight over all religious order priests and priests visiting or relating from other dioceses to subject them to the same procedures and oversight with regard to youth protection and clergy abuse as if they were diocesan priests.”
The report said that dioceses have less oversight over religious priests than their secular counterparts, and stated: “this arrangement has prevented the AGO from conducting a complete review of religious order priests working in Missouri. The AGO has had to rely on the scant diocesan records provided to it regarding these priests, along with information gathered from victims presenting evidence relating thereto.”
“Before granting faculties to a religious order priest or a priest from another diocese, the IRB should complete a meaningful and thorough review of the prospective priest’s records, rather than simply accepting a simple attestation from another bishop or provincial,” the office said.
It also recommended that each diocese ensure its “Independent Review Board is composed entirely of lay people and its determinations of credibility and sanctions will be given authoritative weight with respect to the ability of an offending priest to minister in its diocese.”
The third recommendation was that dioceses review all claims of abuse from before the 2002 adoption of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, subjecting them to the Charter’s standards.
The office said that when the review boards have found credible allegations against priests, this “should be publicly disclosed without delay.” It stated that an offending priest’s age and health should not be considered a reason to forgo dismissal from the clerical state, and that dioceses “should advocate for reforms of the laicization process so that it may be completed within one year after the IRB makes its decision,” or that “discussions of reform within the church should include proposals for expediting the process of laicizing priests after the completion of a diocesan review of misconduct and the establishment of a complete corroborating factual record.”
Finally, the attorney general’s office recommended that “a robust program on notification and supervision of priests removed from public ministry or from the clerical state should be undertaken.”
The report said it recommendations would “strengthen oversight and protect victims from future abuse.”
The Archdiocese of St. Louis said that it is “taking the Attorney General’s recommendations to the Catholic Church into careful consideration and will continue to evaluate and enhance our safe environment programs for the safety of all of our families.”
Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City commented that “it is my sincere hope the report assists the Catholic Church in Missouri in achieving our goals of accountability and transparency, while respecting the legal standards for privacy of all affected by the report.”
“I will take into consideration the recommendations from the report on how we can improve our efforts to keep our children safe and in healthy environments,” he added.
Schmitt’s investigation was begun last year by his predecessor, Josh Hawley.
His office reviewed the personnel records of priests serving in the state’s four dioceses dating back to 1945, and spoke to abuse victims or their families who contacted the office.
The investigation found credible allegations of 163 instances of sexual abuse or misconduct by diocesan clerics against minors. The offenses range from boundary violations, such as inappropriate discussion or correspondence, to forcible rape.
Of the credibly accused, 83 are dead. Of the remaining 80, 46 are past the statue of limitations for prosecution, 16 have already been referred for prosecution, 12 will be referred for prosecution, five have been or are being investigated by prosecutors, and one is still under investigation by the Church.
The instances of misconduct “overwhelmingly” occurred before 2002, the report notes, and since that year the dioceses in Missouri “have implemented a series of reforms that have improved their response to, and reporting of, abuse.”
It added, however, “that since 2002, the church has, on occasion, failed to meet even its own internal procedures on abuse reporting andreporting to law enforcement,” citing Bishop Robert Finn’s failure for five months to report possession of child pornography by one of his priests. Finn resigned from office in 2015.
The report said that since 2002 “the church has generally taken a much more pastoral approach to engaging with victims and has, in most instances, promptly reported suspected abuse.”
The attorney general’s office identified what it called “certain internal and systematic failures of the dioceses,” saying first that “there is no independent oversight of a bishop’s day-to-day implementation of church protocols. Bishops report to no one below the Pope in the hierarchy of the church and, while uncoordinated and sometimes overlapping networks of associations and working groups exist throughout the states, regions and country, there is simply no single source of outside oversight over each bishop and no means by which best practices are effectively implemented.”
It asserted that “the lack of independent oversight of the bishops’ implementation of protocols, as well as the lack of independent review of allegations against bishops themselves, remain significant impediments to reform and improved protections.”
Denver, Colo., Sep 13, 2019 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- A federal jury concluded Thursday that the Knights of Columbus breached a verbal contract with a technology company that hoped to become a “designated vendor” for local councils and other organ… […]