Browsing News Entries
Posted on 07/20/2017 22:07 PM (CNA Daily News)
San Francisco, Calif., Jul 20, 2017 / 02:07 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A federal judge has ordered over $136,000 in fines after the release of several undercover videos in a series that appeared to implicate Planned Parenthood officials and the National Abortion Federation in the illegal sale of unborn baby body parts.
U.S. District Judge William Orrick III on Monday sanctioned David Daleiden, his Center for Medical Progress, and his criminal defense lawyers for disclosing videos whose release was barred by his February 2016 preliminary injunction. The judge said each of the parties was jointly liable for security and legal costs for the National Abortion Federation, the subject of the videos.
The lawyers said they would appeal the ruling.
The Center for Medical Progress contended that the contempt charge against the attorneys was “just for trying to use the same video evidence in his defense that the California attorney general is using in his prosecution.” In a July 11 Facebook post, the center charged that the action would hinder efforts to provide a fair trial for Daleiden. The center also cited Daleiden’s attorneys’ ongoing efforts to disqualify the judge for alleged bias and links to Planned Parenthood.
The first investigative video release took place in July 2015, appearing to implicate Planned Parenthood in illegal activity and adding to the momentum to defund the United States’ largest performer of abortions.
In 2016, Judge Orrick had granted an injunction barring disclosure of the videos involving two National Abortion Federation meetings in Baltimore and San Francisco that the center’s investigators, including Daleiden, had surreptitiously recorded while posing as fetal tissue purchasers for a non-existent medical supply company.
However, Daleiden's lawyers, former Los Angeles prosecutor Steve Cooley and Brentford Ferreira, posted the videos to their website in May of this year. The release included preview footage of convention attendees casually discussing the skulls, eyeballs and other baby body parts they encounter in abortion procedures.
“An eyeball just fell down into my lap, and that is gross!” one panelist said in the video, to laughter from the crowd.
Planned Parenthood employees also appeared in the footage discussing baby organs that could be provided to biotech firms for money.
“They’re wanting livers,” one abortion provider said. “Sometimes she’ll tell me she wants brain,” another medical director said.
The footage also appears to show a person acknowledging the performance of illegal partial-birth abortions.
The videos had been uploaded to a private YouTube account and were not viewable without a link. One of Daleiden’s attorneys argued that this meant the posting itself was not a violation of the court order. Judge Orrick disagreed, saying that the enjoined materials were shared with a third party, namely YouTube.
The judge said he believed Daleiden had created the preview video and playlist, uploaded it, and forwarded the links to his criminal attorneys “for their use on his behalf.” He said it was reasonable to conclude the videos were uploaded “for the purpose of facilitating the publishing and distribution of those videos, which is what in fact occurred.”
When the videos initially became public, a spokesperson for the attorneys told National Review that the footage was entered into the public record when Calif. Attorney General Xavier Becerra Read filed a public criminal proceeding based on it.
Judge Orrick, however, said the lawyers failed to explain why the links to the videos needed to be published when the California state court judge had a thumb drive with the files, Courthouse News Service reports.
Defending themselves against the contempt charges, the attorneys had told Judge Orrick they aimed to use the videos to help defend their client against 15 felony charges he faced in California state court. They had believed the injunction did not apply to them. The judge said that under federal court rules an injunction also applies to attorneys, Bay City News reports.
The National Abortion Federation had accused Daleiden of creating a three-minute “preview” that identified abortionists by name, called them “evil,” “a baby killer” and “a systematic murderer.” The video asked viewers to share the video to hold Planned Parenthood accountable for “their illegal sale of baby parts.”
Judge Orrick’s ruling sided with the abortion federation, saying that Daleiden had failed to rebut the evidence against him by showing “deafening silence” and refusing to answer questions in his defense. Rather, he cited attorney-client privilege.
The judge said that in his review of the videos he found no evidence that abortion providers agreed to illegally sell fetal tissue, as alleged.
He ordered Daledein and the Center for Medical Progress to turn over all video of the federation’s meetings to the attorneys representing him in the civil lawsuit against him.
In June, a California court dismissed 14 of 15 felony charges against Daledein and a co-defendant Sandra Merritt involving illegal recording of confidential communications for their videos of Planned Parenthood employees, not the abortion federation.
The California attorney general is seeking to reinstate the charges.
In the federal case, Daleiden’s attorneys filed a June 7 motion to disqualify Judge Orrick, claiming the judge was biased in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant.
The motion cited an affidavit by Daleiden citing the judge’s role as an emeritus board member for a family resource center linked to a Planned Parenthood affiliate that is part of the National Abortion Federation.
Daleiden also cited the social media behavior of the judge’s wife, such as expressions of support for Planned Parenthood in the face of the videos. She also appeared to support stories critical of the Center for Media Progress and Daleiden. The judge’s wife had liked a post on the Facebook page “Keep America Pro-Choice” that supported the Harris County, Texas indictment of Daleiden.
The videos provoked a massive response from Planned Parenthood and its allies. A 2015 grant listing from the Open Societies Foundation, published after a foundations’ computer system was hacked, revealed apparent plans for a $7 to $8 million response campaign.
Posted on 07/20/2017 20:01 PM (CNA Daily News)
Washington D.C., Jul 20, 2017 / 12:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Grandparents and other family members are temporarily exempt from the travel and refugee bans implemented by President Donald Trump, the US Supreme Court said Wednesday.
The court also said that for the time being, a ban on entry by refugees already working with resettlement agencies may remain.
The Supreme Court did not explain its reasons in a brief order July 19. It said the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals must consider further arguments about who is included in the ban under Trump’s executive order. Supreme Court justices will hear further arguments about the executive order Oct. 10.
The Trump administration had argued that an exemption for close family members should not apply to grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins and brothers- and sisters-in law.
A federal court in Hawaii said that definition of close family was too strict.
The ban bars travel into the U.S. for 90 days by nationals of Somalia, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Libya, and Iran, all predominantly Muslim countries. It halts all refugee resettlement for 120 days. The first version of the ban, which had a broader impact, was announced in January, then blocked in federal court. A revised version was announced in March, then blocked by legal challenges.
In June the Supreme Court restored the ban, while saying those with “bona fide” links to the U.S. were exempted: close family members, employment, university admission, or relationships with other institutions.
Hawaii was among the challengers of the revised ban. It also argued that a refugee organization’s interactions with a refugee qualify as a bona fide relationship. About 24,000 refugees have formal assurances with resettlement agencies for relocation assistance.
However, the Supreme Court rejected that argument, thus allowing the U.S. government to halt efforts to grant entry to these refugees.
The order was not signed, though it stated that Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch would have granted the Trump administration’s request to put the lower court’s entire order on hold.
Trump had presented his order as a temporary anti-terrorism measure. The Trump administration has also lowered the cap on refugee admissions to 50,000 people per fiscal year. That cap was reached July 13.
In March the U.S. bishops had warned that security concerns could overshadow real human beings.
“Let us not lose sight of the fact that behind every policy is the story of a person in search of a better life,” the bishops said. “They may be an immigrant or refugee family sacrificing so that their children might have a brighter future. As shepherds of a pilgrim Church, we will not tire in saying to families who have the courage to set out from their despair onto the road of hope: 'We are with you'.”
“It is necessary to safeguard the United States in a manner that does not cause us to lose our humanity,” said the March 22 statement from the US bishops' conference's administrative committee.
Posted on 07/20/2017 14:15 PM (CNA Daily News)
Vatican City, Jul 20, 2017 / 06:15 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Fr. Pierangelo Pietracatella and Fr. Hans-Peter Fischer are the newest members of the Roman Rota, and mark the latest in a string of appointments Pope Francis has made this summer as part of his ongoing effort to restructure the Roman Curia.
Hailing from the northern Italian diocese of Toronta, Fr. Pietracatella, a member of the Rota, has been named as its new Chief of Office.
Fr. Fischer, a priest of the archdiocese of Freiburg, located in Germany's black forest region, has been named an auditor of the Rota. He is the current rector of the Pontifical Teutonic College of Santa Maria in Campo Santo, located in the Vatican.
Composed of various auditors, the Roman Rota is one of the three courts of the Holy See, the other two being the Apostolic Penitentiary and the Apostolic Signatura.
The Apostolic Penitentiary is the tribunal in charge of cases involving excommunication and serious sins, including those whose absolution is reserved to the Holy See, while the Signatura functions as a sort of Supreme Court. The Rota, for its part, is akin to a court of appeals or court of “last instance,” and is also where marriage nullity cases are judged.
The Roman Rota is the Vatican's court of higher instance, usually at the appellate stage, with the purpose of safeguarding rights within the Church.
Among its responsibilities is the trying of appeals in marriage annulment cases. The annulment process was streamlined by Pope Francis in December 2015, giving the possibility of a stronger role to local bishops and cutting the automatic appeal of initial judgments, among other things.
Announced in a July 20 communique from the Holy See, the appointments to the Rota are the latest carried out by Pope Francis in his ongoing reform of the Roman Curia.
Earlier this month the pontiff made waves by choosing to not renew the 5-year term of Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
In his stead, the Pope Francis on July 1 named Jesuit Archbishop Luis Ladaria, former secretary of the congregation, to take the helm.
Just over two weeks later, on July 18, he tapped the congregation's undersecretary, Father Giacomo Morandi, to take Ladaria's place as secretary. The priest was also appointed titular Archbishop of Caere, however, the date of his episcopal consecration has not yet been set.
These latest appointments by Pope Francis are significant, since many curial officials were been named by Benedict before his resignation.
While Francis has made several of his own appointments since his election, the terms of the officials named by Benedict are now coming to an end, giving way for a curia that is shaped more by the mind of Francis as he moves forward in his process of Church reform.
Posted on 07/20/2017 14:01 PM (CNA Daily News)
Washington D.C., Jul 20, 2017 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Undocumented young people brought to the U.S. by their parents contribute to American society and deserve continued protections from the Trump administration, said the U.S. Catholic bishops this week.
“These young people entered the U.S. as children and know America as their only home. The dignity of every human being, particularly that of our children and youth, must be protected,” Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas said July 18.
Young people who qualify under the program are “contributors to our economy, veterans of our military, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes,” said the bishop, who chairs the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ migration committee.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy was implemented in 2012 by the Department of Homeland Security to address the situation of undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. at a young age. It provides more than 750,000 youth with a temporary reprieve from deportation and employment authorization to work legally in the U.S.
Bishop Vasquez urged the Trump administration to continue the program and “to publicly ensure that DACA youth are not priorities for deportation.”
In late June, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, with the attorneys general of nine other states, sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions demanding the Trump administration end the DACA policy. The letter threatened to amend a lawsuit against another deportation deferral program in order to target the policy, Politico reports.
Bishop Vasquez, however, addressed the young people and their families: “the Catholic Church stands in solidarity with you.”
“We recognize your intrinsic value as children of God,” he said. “We understand the anxiety and fear you face and we appreciate and applaud the daily contributions you make with your families, to local communities and parishes, and to our country. We support you on your journey to reach your God-given potential.”
Bishop Vasquez also said that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is not a permanent solution and called on Congress to find a legislative solution for these youth “as soon as possible.”
“My brother bishops and I pledge continuing efforts to help find a humane and permanent resolution that protects DACA youth,” he said. “Additionally, I note the moral urgency for comprehensive immigration reform that is just and compassionate. The bishops will advocate for these reforms as we truly believe they will advance the common good.”
According to Politico, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told a gathering of 20 Democratic members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that he can’t guarantee the Trump administration will defend the DACA policy in court. Attorneys have told him the program wouldn’t survive a legal challenge.
Posted on 07/20/2017 11:02 AM (CNA Daily News)
Denver, Colo., Jul 20, 2017 / 03:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- From a young age, Catholics are taught to pray about and discern their vocations – whether they're called to marriage, to the religious life, to the priesthood, or consecrated single life.
This can leave the lay single person feeling that they are in a vocational limbo of sorts, and it's become a topic of much heated and emotional debate in the Catholic blogosphere: have these people missed their vocation? Is the lay single state, chosen or by default, a vocation?
But actually, at the end of the day – does it matter?
Fr. Ben Hasse is a vocations director for the Diocese of Marquette, Mich. He said addressing the topic of singleness in the Church can be difficult because of the emotions surrounding the issue.
“I have quite a few friends who would like to be married, so there's a much more emotional investment in the question because there’s more people who find themselves single” rather than having specifically chosen it, he said.
Recognizing the emotional weight of the topic, Fr. Hasse noted that there are many aspects to addressing the question of vocation and singleness that need to be taken into account, and that it can be difficult – and dangerous – to make generalizations about a population in the Church that is actually very diverse.
Being specific about singleness
Fr. Hasse said that he has found it’s helpful as a pastor to approach singleness very specifically – whether it's a college student who hopes to marry someday, or a widow who lost her husband last month, being single encompasses a wide variety of people and circumstances.
“Everybody will be single for at least part of their life. Nobody is born as a priest or married to someone or a consecrated religious, so everyone will pass through being single,” he said.
“It's important to distinguish between people who are single because that's kind of where you're at when you're 16, versus someone who has really felt God calling them to give their life in service to the Church as a single person,” or various other circumstances.
For example, a single 19-year-old college student is probably not necessarily living a vocation of singleness in any settled way, Fr. Hasse said, but a person in their 40s who finds joy in serving Christ in their everyday circumstances of work and life “is not someone I would say lacks a vocation.”
“It would be different from the way we usually use the word because it wouldn't be defined, and made concrete by vows or promises,” he said.
“But the single accountant or school teacher could certainly live their life and see the work of their hands as something they're offering to God, and live that in a very spiritually fruitful way, and I wouldn't say – now here's a person without a vocation.”
Your vocation is given at baptism
Jason Coito, Coordinator of Young Adult Ministry for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, told CNA that most of the debates surrounding singleness and vocation rely “on a very narrow definition of vocation, or confuses the term with what we refer to as 'states in life.'”
He said when we become fixated on discerning our state in life, referred to in the Church as the primary vocation, “...we become so focused on the ranking of them, rather than looking at each day or the bigger picture and saying, here are all of these components of my life, now how am I called to live the promise of my baptism and of my life, and how do these things work together?”
It can be helpful instead to refocus these debates and conversations on the universal vocation to holiness that each Christian receives at their baptism, Coito said.
“I think this helpfully reframes the conversation and then asks us, 'How is God calling me to make a response to Him and to my brothers and sisters from within the state in life in which I find myself?'”
This respects every vocation, because it's a question anyone can answer on any given day in their life, regardless of their state in life, he said.
“You do have a vocation. All baptized Catholics are called to live their lives as disciples of Jesus. This is the foundational call of our lives as Catholics,” he said.
“If you feel deeply called to get married, and you have prayerfully discerned and confirmed this call, then until you meet the person you feel called to get married to, you continue to live out your baptismal call, open to the people and circumstances that God puts in front of you each day. For those who are married, we do pretty much the same thing, except that we do this out of the sacramental relationship we have with our spouse,” he said.
In Lumen Gentium, one of the principal documents of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI wrote about the universal call to holiness each Christian has:
“Thus it is evident to everyone, that all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity; by this holiness as such a more human manner of living is promoted in this earthly society. In order that the faithful may reach this perfection, they must use their strength accordingly as they have received it, as a gift from Christ. They must follow in His footsteps and conform themselves to His image seeking the will of the Father in all things. They must devote themselves with all their being to the glory of God and the service of their neighbor. In this way, the holiness of the People of God will grow into an abundant harvest of good, as is admirably shown by the life of so many saints in Church history.”
Fr. Hasse reiterated the importance of the baptismal call to holiness, and said that this call is not something to “settle for,” but rather should be the primary focus of our lives as Christians.
“The call to holiness is not some second-string operation,” he said.
“It's not like – wow I really wish I had something important to work towards, but since I don't, sanctity will have to tide me over until the beatific vision.”
“So I think a reappropriation of the universal call to holiness, which is deeply, profoundly significant, it’s the one that matters in a sense, and we're all called to that,” he said.
The big lie: You are incomplete until you've made vows
Coito noted that one of the worst patterns of thinking that a Catholic can fall into when thinking about vocation is to believe that they are somehow less-than or incomplete until they are married, or are a priest or in a religious order.
When he taught high school religion, Coito said he would ask his students to recall the famous line from Jerry Macquire, when he tells his love interest (played by Renee Zellweger): “You complete me.”
“I would always tell them that from a Catholic perspective, that's ridiculous. It wasn't as though before marriage you were incomplete, or that a priest before his ordination is incomplete. God already made us whole and entire,” he said.
“We've been given everything as human beings that God intends us to have, so to begin to think of ourselves as somehow unfinished...we can joyfully be living out our vocation already right now.”
Part of this mentality has seeped in from the culture, he said, which tends to romanticize love and to view marriage as another achievement or milestone in life, rather than as a sacrament.
“I think it's important to address the mentality that if I'm not married or in a community or ordained that I’m this sort of 'Catholic arrested development' or 'suspended animation,'” he said.
The belief that marriage or religious life will also magically make us completely fulfilled is also a mentality that can set people up for disappointment, he noted.
“It ends up being a Disney sort of (mentality) of happily ever after, but it's much more Paschal mystery than happily ever after,” he said.
Finding fulfillment: It's about self-gift
The reasons that there are more single people in the Church now than in other times in recent history are many and varied – an emphasis on education, a culture that values individualism, higher rates of divorce and economic factors are just some of the many reasons there are more singles in the pews.
But this doesn't mean that human nature has changed – we are still made for love, self-gift and service, Fr. Ben Hasse said.
“Trying to schedule events in our lives that will make us happy at some point that doesn't really work,” he said. “Happiness is richest and fullest kind of as a by-product of gifts of love and of service.”
“There's almost a way where you can attend to the basic dynamics of seeking to live a life of holiness, and that's the actually the path that’s going to leave you more and more disposed to receive his call,” he said.
In particular, acts of service can be a key way to find fulfillment regardless of one's state in life, he said.
“Look for opportunities to give of yourself,” he said. “It's also a good way to meet other people who have a similar disposition...doing that has very real potential to fill one's heart, and leaves you more and more receptive to (God's) call.”
Soley utilizing acts of service as a way to find a spouse would be unhealthy, Fr. Hasse added, but serving alongside like-minded people, and finding others who share your values is a good way to find authentic community, in whatever form that may take.
What the Church has to say about single people
Pope John Paul II, who wanted to be known as ‘the Pope of the family’, wrote in his familial document “Familiaris Consortio” that those without a family must be able to find their family within the Church. In fact, the entire final section of this document is dedicated to single people.
This is a subject with which John Paul II would have been intimately familiar – by the age of 20, all of his immediate family on earth had passed away, and he surrounded himself with good friends that essentially became his family.
In the document, he wrote: “For those who have no natural family the doors of the great family which is the Church - the Church which finds concrete expression in the diocesan and the parish family, in ecclesial basic communities and in movements of the apostolate - must be opened even wider. No one is without a family in this world: the Church is a home and family for everyone, especially those who 'labor and are heavy laden.'”
The Catechism of the Catholic also recognizes “the great number of single persons who, because of the particular circumstances in which they have to live – often not of their choosing – are especially close to Jesus' heart and therefore deserve the special affection and active solicitude of the Church, especially of pastors.” (CCC 1658).
Practical advice from single Catholics
Still, it can sometimes be difficult for single people to know where they fit in the Church. Parishes are often structured around family life, which can make it challenging for single people to find community.
Judy Keane is a 40-something single Catholic and author of “Single and Catholic,” a book in which she interviewed numerous single Catholics of a wide variety of ages, circumstances and backgrounds about their experiences in the Church.
“Mother Teresa once said that the greatest poverty is loneliness, and feeling discounted by society,” Keane said.
“So I would say (to married people in the parish): approach single people, connect with them, take that initiative to introduce yourself, not make them feel like because they don't have a spouse and children in the pew with them that they’re no less a member of the parish community,” she said.
MaryBeth Bonacci is a Catholic author and speaker who has often written on the topic of being a single Catholic. She said she loves it when people in her parish help her feel included in their families and lives.
“Some people would say, 'Oh well she wouldn’t want to go to a 1-year-old's birthday party.' Yeah I would!” she said. “We don't have our exciting singles lives that you think we have, I'm at home eating cottage cheese and watching Simpsons reruns, it’s not that exciting.”
Bonacci said she's also had a friend at her parish who told her she was invited to her family's dinner any time. And she didn't wait to make good on the invitation – she followed up with Bonacci every day.
“She would call me every day at 3:00 and say, am I setting a place for you? And I didn't go every night...but she actually called every day, and said if you want to come, we'll set a place for you, and I cannot tell you how much I appreciated that.”
She added that she appreciates when parishes make an effort to create a cohesive community, rather than always segregating people into groups according to their states in life.
Both Bonacci and Keane said that they especially have noticed that there are many single elderly Catholics who are alone, whether they’ve never been married or have since lost their spouse.
“If you're having a family Sunday dinner, why not try to befriend an elderly single person who may have lost their spouse and say we’re having our family dinner, would you like to join us?” Keane said.
It's also important to remember that God acts in unexpected says, and oftentimes frustration with one's state in life stems from a place of thinking about vocation or God’s will too rigidly, Fr. Hasse noted.
“If I'm talking to someone who says well most of my friends seem to have found their vocation and I haven’t, what do I do? I usually say man, the saints are people that God caught in all kinds of unexpected situations and places,” Fr. Hasse said.
“So there's lots of precedent for thinking God has passed me by or hasn't answered my prayers” but then he shows up in unexpected ways, he said.