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Diocese says ‘ordination’ of woman as Catholic priest not valid

May 3, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Charlotte, N.C., May 3, 2017 / 06:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A breakaway Catholic group is in the news for attempting to ordain a woman as a Catholic priest at a non-denominational church in North Carolina.

Abigail Eltzroth, 64, went through the simulated ordination at the Jubilee! church in Asheville, N.C. under the aegis of the group Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. She has said she intends to start a Catholic community in the area of Asheville.

The local diocese, however, reaffirmed Catholic teaching that such an ordination is null.

“I hope that Catholics in the diocese will understand that it would be sinful to receive a fake sacrament from a woman priest and that includes attending a fake Mass,” said David Hains, spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte.

Eltzroth converted to Catholicism from a Presbyterian background in her 50s, the Charlotte Observer reports. The simulated ordination was carried out by Bridget Mary Meehan, who presents herself as a Catholic bishop.

Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests traces itself back to the attempted ordination of seven women on a ship cruising the Danube River in 2002. Attempted ordination of a woman is automatic excommunication for both the person attempting the ordination and the person attempting to be ordained.

From the beginning of his papacy, Pope Francis has been clear on the issue of women priests, while still emphasizing the unique and important role of women in the Church.

On his return flight from Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families Sept. 28, 2015, the Pope reiterated that women priests “cannot be done,” and called for a more comprehensive theology on women.

In an interview with Vatican Insider in December 2013, Francis responded to a question on whether or not he’d ever consider naming a woman a cardinal. The very question, he indicated, stemmed from an attitude of clericalism.

“I don’t know where this idea sprang from. Women in the Church must be valued not ‘clericalised,’” the Pope said. “Whoever thinks of women as cardinals suffers a bit from clericalism.”

Throughout the three years since, Francis has consistently called for a more “incisive” feminine presence in the Church, yet has refrained from limiting this presence to a mere position.


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‘Thank you’: DC cardinal to fallen police officers, first responders

May 2, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Washington D.C., May 2, 2017 / 05:33 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- At a Mass on Tuesday, the archbishop of Washington, D.C. thanked law enforcement officers and first responders for putting themselves in harm’s way for the betterment of society.

“This Mass,” Cardinal Donald Wuerl said, “should call forth from all of us enormous gratitude.” He thanked officials in attendance, their fallen comrades who died in the line of duty, and the families of the deceased.

Cardinal Wuerl was the celebrant and homilist at the 23rd annual Blue Mass at St. Patrick’s Church in downtown Washington, D.C.  The Mass is said for law enforcement and fire safety officials, and for those who have died in the line of duty.

According to the Archdiocese of Washington, the tradition of the Blue Mass dates back to 1934 but it has only been an annual tradition beginning with 1994.

In 2016, there were 144 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty in the U.S., according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.

In attendance at the Mass were various federal and local law enforcement honor guards and families of slain law enforcement officials. At the end of the liturgy, two trumpeters played Taps after the names of the slain officials from the past year were read.

“Taps” for fallen law enforcement/fire safety at the end of DC’s Blue Mass.

— Matthew Hadro (@matthadro) May 2, 2017

“Recognizing that not every law enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency responder or medical personnel returns home at the end of their shift, we pray especially for the fallen and their families,” the cardinal wrote later on his blog.

“Reflecting our faith in the Resurrection, our prayers are directed to our loving and ever-merciful God, whom we ask to receive into his kingdom of new and eternal life those who have paid the last full measure so that others might live, prosper and be free,” he continued.

Those officers fallen in the line of duty show us that “violence” is around us, the cardinal admitted in his homily. “We recognize unfortunately that violence is also a part of life,” he said, yet “we must never let it change us.”

He reflected on the first reading of the martyrdom account of St. Stephen, insisting that there was “more to the story” than an unjust death.

The officers who “stand in harm’s way” in defense of human dignity witness to “the great hope that there is a better way,” he added. “Your lives and your service are a great witness to that hope,” he told the officials in attendance at the Mass.

Ultimately, these officers are motivated by love, the cardinal stressed: “their love of their families to be sure, and also their love for the community, their selfless love for those they do not even know, for those who may not even like or appreciate them, but for whom they are willing to risk their own lives.”

“This love is reflected in all of the routine day in and day out challenges they face all the time.”

More from DC’s Blue Mass honoring law enforcement & 1st responders: bagpipers in the preliminary procession playing “Minstrel Boy”

— Matthew Hadro (@matthadro) May 2, 2017



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Critics of Columbus Day get history wrong, scholar says

May 2, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Denver, Colo., May 2, 2017 / 05:24 pm (CNA).-

The historical legacy of Christopher Columbus is tarred by bad history in the quest to change Columbus Day, according to a researcher who has focused on Columbus’ religious motives for exploration.

“They’re blaming Columbus for the things he didn’t do. It was mostly the people who came after, the settlers,” Prof. Carol Delaney told CNA April 25. “I just think he’s been terribly maligned.”

“I think a lot of people don’t know anything much, really about Columbus,” said Delaney, an anthropology professor emerita at Stanford University and the author of the 2011 book “Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem.”

She said Columbus initially had a favorable impression of many of the Native Americans he met and instructed the men under his command not to abuse them but to trade with them. At one point Columbus hung some of his own men who had committed crimes against the Indians.

“When I read his own writings and the documents of those who knew him, he seemed to be very much on the side of the Indians,” Delaney said, noting that Columbus adopted the son of a Native American leader he had befriended.

Columbus is again in the news in Colorado, which in 1907 became the first U.S. state to make Columbus Day an official holiday.

Now, one Colorado legislator aims to repeal Columbus Day as a state holiday.

State Rep. Joe Salazar’s 2017 bill charges that Columbus’ voyage “triggered one of history’s greatest slave trades” and created “a level of inhumanity towards indigenous peoples that still exists.”

The bill excerpts three paragraphs from the writings of Bartolome de las Casas, a Spanish Dominican friar born in 1484 who became the first Bishop of Chiapas, Mexico and advocated for indigenous Americans. He wrote strong polemics against Spanish abuses.

Bishop De las Casas depicted the Spaniards as “acting like ravening beasts, killing, terrorizing, afflicting, torturing, and destroying the native peoples, doing all this with the strangest and most varied new methods of cruelty, never seen or heard of before.” De las Casas claimed that the native population of Hispaniola was reduced to 200 people from 3 million.

He said the Spanish killed “such an infinite number of souls” due to lust for gold caused by “their insatiable greed and ambition.” He charged that the Spanish attacked towns and did not spare children, the elderly or pregnant women. He said they stabbed and dismembered them “as if dealing with sheep in the slaughter house” and made bets on how efficiently they could kill.

Salazar’s bill describes these as “Columbus’ acts of inhumanity.”

Delaney, however, emphasized that the acts of the colonists need to be distinguished from those of Columbus.

Bishop De las Casas’ own view on Columbus is more complex, she said. Other scholars have noted that Las Casas admired Columbus and said he and Spain had a providential role in “opening the doors of the Ocean Sea.” The bishop thought Columbus was treated unjustly by the Spanish monarchs after he was accused of mismanagement.

De las Casas himself is not above criticism. He owned indigenous people as slaves before changing his mind on their mistreatment. At one point he suggested to the Pope that black Africans be enslaved as an alternative to enslaving Native Americans.

Among the critics of the Colorado bill are the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternity founded in 1882, which takes its name from the explorer who brought Christianity to the New World. Columbus was a widely admired Catholic at a time when American Catholics were marginalized.

“Scholars have long shown that de las Casas was prone to hyperbole and exaggeration, and the bill does not take into account recent scholarship on de las Casas or Columbus,” the Knights said in an email to members.

“The legacy and accomplishments of Christopher Columbus deserve to be celebrated. He was a man ahead of his time and a fearless explorer and brilliant navigator whose daring discovery changed the course of history,” the group continued. “Columbus has frequently been falsely blamed for the actions of those who came after him and is the victim of horrific slanders concerning his conduct.”

Isaac Cuevas, a spokesman for the Knights of Columbus, was even more forceful, connecting the move against Columbus Day to a dark period in Colorado’s past.

“Nearly a century ago, the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado targeted Catholics including Italian-Americans. One of the Klan’s tactics throughout the United States was the denigration of Christopher Columbus and the attempted suppression of the holiday in his honor,” he said.

Cuevas said that a committee hearing on the bill was “tinged with offensive anti-Catholic overtones.” He charged that the bill “takes us back to what the Klan outlined in the 1920s in order to promote ethnic and religious resentment and marginalize and intimidate people with different religious beliefs and ethnic backgrounds.”

Rep. Salazar put forward a bill in previous years against the Christopher Columbus holiday. His 2016 bill to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day was defeated in the state legislature.

“After speaking with the American Indian community and other communities, they were saying, ‘We actually never really wanted a day – this isn’t what this is about. This is about removing a state holiday about a man who engaged in genocide against our people’,” Salazar told the Colorado Statesman newspaper recently.

Columbus Day drew particular controversy in Colorado on the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the New World. Organizers of Denver’s 1992 Columbus Day parade canceled it at the last minute due to threats from radical activists with the American Indian Movement.

Columbus has been a major figure for Catholics in America, especially Italian-Americans, who saw his pioneering voyage from Europe as a way of validating their presence in a sometimes hostile majority-Protestant country. The Knights of Columbus, the largest Catholic fraternal organization in the world, took his name, his voyage and his faith as an inspiration.

At one point in the nineteenth century there were even proposals to push for the voyager’s canonization.

In 1892, the quadricennial of Columbus’ first voyage, Leo XIII authored an encyclical that reflected on Columbus’ desire to spread Catholic Christianity. The Pope stressed how Columbus’ Catholic faith motivated his voyage and supported him amid his setbacks.

Under pressure from some Native American activists and their allies, some U.S. localities have dropped observances of Columbus Day, while others have added observances intended to recognize those who lived in the Americas before Columbus sailed.

Delaney acknowledged that some Native Americans were sent to Spain as slaves or conscripted into hard labor at the time Columbus had responsibility for the region, but she attributed this mistreatment to his substitutes acting in his absence.

She thinks Columbus Day should be continued, even if the indigenous peoples of America also deserve recognition.

For her, Columbus’ handling of the killings of his crew showed restraint. After his ship the Santa Maria ran aground on his first voyage, he left 39 men on a Caribbean island with firm orders not to go marauding, not to kidnap or rape women, and always trade for food and gold.

“When they returned on the second voyage, they found all of the settlers had been killed,” she said. The priest on that voyage wanted to attack the locals and kill all of their people in revenge, but Columbus strongly refused to make such a move.

She noted the explorer’s relationship with a Native American leader on Hispaniola, a Taino chief named Guacanagari. Columbus had very good relations with him and adopted one of his sons. That son took the name of Columbus’ natural son, Diego, and accompanied Columbus on his final three voyages.

Columbus on his second return voyage took six Indians back to Spain, but not as slaves.

“He took them because they wanted to go,” Delaney said.



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What Catholics like and dislike in the new spending bill

May 2, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Washington D.C., May 2, 2017 / 03:26 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A massive spending package to be voted on by Congress has drawn applause for continuing foreign aid spending, but also concern at its proposal to keep funding Planned Parenthood.

The pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List said the bill’s funding of Planned Parenthood was “incredibly disappointing,” and president Marjorie Dannenfelser insisted that it was “imperative” for the House to pass a “reconciliation bill that redirects the abortion giant’s funding to community health centers.”

The House has voted multiple times to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding because it is the nation’s largest performer of abortions, with more than 300,000 abortions per year according to its own reports. A measure defunding the organization for one year was included in the American Health Care Act, but that bill had failed to reach the House floor for a vote. A revised health care bill is now being considered by Congress.

On Sunday, an agreement was reached between the House and Senate on an Omnibus bill, a funding bill for the rest of the 2017 fiscal year that could be voted on this week.

Regarding foreign assistance, the Omnibus bill includes $990 million for international famine relief when famines are breaking out or are on the verge of occurring in four countries: Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen.

In addition, the bill directs a $1 billion increase in funding of humanitarian aid programs “to assist in responding to the historic levels of refugees and displaced persons.”

Catholic Relief Services, the international aid arm of the U.S. bishops’ conference, praised this funding increase.

“These funds are a lifeline for over 20 million people at risk of starvation because of conflict and a prolonged drought,” said Bill O’Keefe, vice president for government relations and advocacy.

“Members of Congress from both parties recognized that this small part of the budget has a huge impact, not only on those in need, but also on our nation’s security. This generosity is America at its best.”

The bill also maintains restrictions on international abortion funding through the Helms Amendment and bars funding of groups deemed to be supportive of forced abortions and sterilizations under the Kemp-Kasten Amendment, the House Appropriations Committee said.

Additionally, Hyde Amendment restrictions on funding of abortions in the U.S. are maintained in the bill, and programs promoting abstinence for teens receive a 50 percent increase in funding, the committee noted. The Hyde Amendment has been policy for over 40 years.

On immigration, the bill reportedly does not fund the building of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. “Sanctuary cities,” or those cities which do not cooperate with federal demands on immigration enforcement, would not be defunded.

Funding for programs fighting the opioid epidemic in the U.S. would also increase by $150 million. In 2015, some 33,000 died from opioid abuse and the number of overdose deaths from heroin or opioids quadrupled between 1999 and 2015, as well as deaths from prescription opioids, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

However, President Trump has already proposed cuts to foreign aid, the Environmental Protection Agency, and increases in defense spending and immigration enforcement funding. When the president released his initial budget proposal in March, Catholic Relief Services came out against the proposed cuts to foreign aid.

The cuts would be detrimental to programs helping those in need at a time when the number of those displaced from their homes is at its highest recorded level, CRS said.



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St. Padre Pio’s relics are touring the US!

May 2, 2017 CNA Daily News 1

Washington D.C., May 2, 2017 / 12:06 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Relics of St. Padre Pio will soon be touring the United States, with stops at a number of dioceses during a two-part tour later this year.

The relics will be on display for veneration between M… […]

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Why it might be too soon to lift the sanctions on Sudan

May 2, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Washington D.C., May 2, 2017 / 06:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Despite Sudan’s recent compliance to U.S. guidelines, one expert thinks there’s not enough information to warrant a complete removal of sanctions against the country.  

“In the case of Sudan, the same cast of characters, the same power base that promotes a perverted and violent expression of Islam is still in power,” David Dettoni, senior adviser to the Sudan Relief Fund, told a congressional panel April 26.

“Look at Sudan’s ‘President.’ It is still Omar Bashir,” Dettoni said. “He and his power base are still intact and I do not think their fundamental belief system has changed.”

Dettoni recognized that reduced sanctions may have played a part in the “cease fire” in the South Kordofan and the Blue Nile State – areas Bashir had previously used criminal like tactics towards opposing forces.

However, he’s concerned that the U.S. Special Envoy currently elected to analyze Sudan’s improvements has not been to these areas in which saw the most bloodshed and tribulation. And because of this, he thinks there isn’t enough accurate information to determine if the country has met the criteria necessary for the sanctions removal.

Nearly a week before leaving office, President Barak Obama eased Sudan’s sanctions, allowing the country the ability to trade with U.S. firms. The sanctions would be further removed after five points of criteria were met. A report established by the Special Envoy in Sudan and South Sudan, will be expected to the given to President Donald Trump in June.

Dettoni suggested that Congress draft legislation to revise the sanctions, allowing for periods of modification thereafter.

During Omar Bashir’s rise to power, he issued the executions and imprisonment of many political leaders, journalists, and high ranking military officers. Teaming up with the National Islamic Front, he established Sharia, or Islamic Law, at a national level.

The New York Times cited the country as having “instituted one of the strictest Muslim fundamentalist social orders in the world,” in 1993 after eight terrorists had been detained in Paris with ties to Sudan – describing the country as a sort of breeding ground for Islamic extremists. The men had been suspected of planning and in process of carrying out a terrorist act in New York City. During his testimony, Dettoni also mentioned that Sudan in the 1990s was home to Al-Qaeda – the terrorist group responsible for bombing the Twin Towers on Sept.11, 2001.

The Sudanese civil wars, claiming nearly 2 million lives, were finally ended in 2005 with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and what is now South Sudan was offered the possibility to vote for their secession.

However, other areas of the peace agreement were ignored by Bashir toward the Sudan People’s Liberation Army located in Sudan, and he continued scrimmages in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile, areas straddling the border between both countries. The violence was notably significant in Abyei, located within the state of South Kordofan.

“In May 2011, Khartoum invaded Abyei, burning, looting, destroying, killing and forcing the removal of over 100,000 Ngok Dinka,” he said.

In order for the 20 year-long sanctions to be completely removed, the Obama administration issued five areas needed for improvement: “ceasing hostilities in Darfur and the Two Areas (South Kordofan and the Blue Nile), improving humanitarian access, ending negative interference in South Sudan, enhancing cooperation on counter-terrorism, and addressing the threat of the Lord’s Resistance Army.”

Dettoni acknowledged the recent improvements in areas regarding refugees, humanitarian access, and decreased violence in the states along the Sudan-South Sudan border.

He said 380,000 South Sudanese and an estimated 200,000 Eritreans have been given refuge in Sudanese camps, which he claimed to be “tough” but that at least Sudan has “allowed these very vulnerable and suffering people to have a form of refuge.”

However, he remains skeptical of the millions of Euros provided by the European Union to curve the inflow of illegal immigrants, known to bottleneck at Sudan. He proposed the money used to beef up Sudan’s border force may also be used to violently suppress the victims of years passed.

Dettoni also suggested the possibility that Bashir’s compliance with U.S. guidelines is being used “as leverage for political or other goals that they want to achieve” specifically “to loosen sanctions, gain respect, gain valuable foreign currency.”  

He requested President Donald Trump’s immediate action to publicly appoint a Special Envoy that would travel to and analyze South Kordofan and the Blue Nile State, and that the president should meet personally with Bashir and other African leaders.

Dettoni also asked President Trump to amend the previous executive order from the Obama administration or ask Congress to draw up legislation to limit Sudan’s sanctions, which would be reviewable every 180 days or annually. He suggests that the executive branch to draft a review in writing and be submitted to Congress and the president two months before the sanctions can be lifted in July.