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Coptic archbishop: Condemning persecution of non-Christians follows the example of Christ

Archbishop Angaelos / Courtesy photo.

Washington D.C., Jul 27, 2021 / 10:30 am (CNA).

Christians around the world must speak out against all religious persecution - including against the Muslim Uyghurs, the Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London told CNA during a recent summit on international religious freedom.

“As Christians who live as part of persecuted communities, we understand the pain of persecution, and if we cannot accept it for ourselves, we should never accept this for anyone else,” Archbishop Angaelos of London told CNA in a July 15 interview about global religious persecution.

The archbishop, who has become a leading voice on global religious persecution, was scheduled to address the recent 2021 International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington, D.C., but was unable to attend due to pandemic-related travel restrictions in the United Kingdom. He spoke on the phone with CNA about what he had planned to tell the summit. The July 13-15 event featured religious and civic leaders from around the world, as well as survivors of religious persecution.

It is “utterly reprehensible and unacceptable” that “we still many millions of people around the world deprived of their very basic right to believe or not to believe," he said, pointing to significant advances in other parts of society such as technological progress.

Last year, Angaelos signed a statement against China’s “potential genocide” of the Uyghurs, a largely-Muslim population in northwest China. More than 75 religious leaders signed the document – including two Asian cardinals, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, Burma, and Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo of Jakarta, Indonesia. The leaders called for prayer and solidarity with the Uyghurs, as well as “action to end these mass atrocities.”

Archbishop Angaelos explained his decision to join other voices in condemning China’s atrocities.

It was “Our Lord Himself Who, having seen the world’s suffering, then took flesh and came to resolve that suffering, and shared in our suffering, to raise us above that,” he said. Thus, “we too must look at the suffering of others and continue to do what we can to alleviate it.”

Christians in certain countries have suffered egregiously in recent years, the archbishop said, pointing to a “major exodus” of Christians from the Middle East and North Africa, as well as attacks on Christians in Nigeria, China, and Pakistan.

However, he emphasized, non-Christian communities have been targeted for persecution as well, such as the Uyghurs in China, the Rohingya Muslims in Burma, Baha’is in Iran, and Yezidis in Iraq.

Christians must speak out against persecution of any community, he said, not only as a matter of justice but also as a practical means of protecting all religious communities.

“Human rights violations are always a cascade,” he said. “There’s a start with one particular group, and then the group that is persecuting will move to the next, what they perceive to be a soft target, and the next, and the next.”

Egypt’s Coptic Christians have been targeted through church bombings and attacks on pilgrims in recent years - although the overall “scale” of persecution there has decreased during the recent pandemic, Archbishop Angaelos told CNA.

However, he noted, Coptic Christian women and girls have still been abducted and forcefully converted, and some Christian communities have experienced a deprivation of resources during the pandemic.

“We might be in a slightly better place, and yet, of course, we know that we have such volatile settings, it doesn’t take much to set things off and it doesn’t take much for communities to be demonized and vilified,” he said.

The Coptic Orthdox Church is an Oriental Orthodox Church which rejected the Council of Chalcedon of 451. It followers were historically considered monophysites – those who believe Christ has only one nature – by Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox.

Christians in the West can help the persecuted by spreading awareness of their plight, Archbishop Angaelos said.

“When things fall off the top of our newsfeeds and are no longer headlines, they are easily forgotten. And what we need to do is to keep the issues alive, even with awareness, with speaking, with keeping our eye on spots where there is violation against people,” he said.

Recent target of NY pro-abortion protests speaks out

Fr. Fidelis Moscinski, CFR (right) encounters protesters during the July 10 "Witness for Life" prayer procession in Brooklyn. / Jeffrey Bruno/Instagram/EWTN Pro-Life Weekly

Washington D.C., Jul 26, 2021 / 12:45 pm (CNA).

After pro-abortion protesters obstructed a July 10 pro-life rosary procession in Brooklyn, a priest leading the procession compared it to a “Way of the Cross.”

Pro-life advocate Fr. Fidelis Moscinski, CFR helped lead the “Witness for Life” prayer procession from St. Paul’s Catholic church in Brooklyn to the local Planned Parenthood clinic on July 10. Pro-abortion protesters physically impeded the march and harassed participants; the procession took two hours to traverse seven blocks, according to march leaders.

“When we go to the abortion clinic, it’s as if we’re going to modern-day Calvary, where innocent blood is shed,” Fr. Moscinski told EWTN Pro-Life Weekly in an interview on Thursday, July 22. “And our procession there, on that day, was kind of like a Way of the Cross for us.”

“I was kind of thinking of the abuse that Our Lord suffered when He was carrying His cross to Calvary,” he said, noting that “we were all in a spirit of prayer there, we were praying the rosary as we went.”

“So it was difficult, but we persevered, and we did finally get there.”

Brooklyn’s Witness for Life day of prayer, which occurs on the second Saturday of each month, normally begins with an 8 a.m. Mass at St. Paul’s church. A rosary procession to the local Planned Parenthood clinic follows Mass. 

However, on July 10, the group New York City for Abortion Rights (NYCFAR) gathered outside St. Paul’s before the morning Mass and chanted throughout the Mass. Some of their chants outside the church included “Our bodies, our lives, our right to decide,” as well as “St. Paul’s Church harasses patients” and “Free abortion on demand, can we win it? Yes we can.” 

Protestors held signs with phrases including “God loves abortion,” and “This church harasses women.” 

NYCFAR targeted Moscinski in flyers as the “leader” of the pro-life march and described him as “far from peaceful.”

Photos of the procession showed pro-abortion advocates holding signs and smoking cigarettes in the face of Fr. Moscinski. EWTN Pro-Life Weekly host Catherine Hadro asked Moscinski how he found peace amidst the chaos 

“We had just come from celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We received Jesus in Holy Communion, and He’s the source of our peace and our strength,” he said. “And when I was looking at those people, I was thinking ‘these people are not the enemy. They’re deceived.’”

When asked what more pro-life advocates could do to fight abortion, Fr. Moscinski said that “prayer and fasting” is necessary. 

“We need to discover again the humility and courage to pray and fast,” he said. “And I think that’s something we could all do a lot better.”

“Pro-life is the pre-eminent issue in the United States, and every Catholic has to be actively engaged in the pro-life movement in some way,” he said in the July 24 interview. “Not everybody can do everything,” he said, “but everybody has to do at least something.”

The July 10 encounter between pro-abortion protestors and “Witness for Life” was the second such incident in as many months. At the previous month’s Witness for Life event, NYCFAR organized a protest as well.

Moscinski told Hadro the situation for the pro-life movement in the area is “challenging and difficult,” noting the almost 300 abortions that take place each day in the state. 

Moscinski has been arrested multiple times in “red rose rescues,” where he enters abortion clinics and attempts to counsel women seeking abortion to choose life. 

“Our measure of our love for Christ is determined by what we do to save the least among us,” Moscinski said, “because the Lord said whatever you did to the least of my brothers you did to me.” 

How priests prepare to say Mass

Newly ordained priests are vested during their Mass of Ordination in St. Peter's Basilica, April 26, 2015. / Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

Washington D.C., Jul 26, 2021 / 06:01 am (CNA).

In preparation for Mass, priests make ready the sacred vessels, linens, and vestments that they use. Afterward, they take care to clean up. Every action they take, every word they say, stresses the importance of the Mass.

Two priests located in Washington, D.C., Fr. William Foley at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament and Fr. Charles Gallagher at Immaculate Conception, gave a behind-the-scenes look to EWTN News In Depth July 16.

Preparations for Mass are made in the sacristy.

“One of the first things I do is to make sure the chalice is ready,” Fr. Foley said. 

Priests often receive a chalice at their ordination. His family, he said, purchased his from a chalice maker in Montreal, Canada, over 42 years ago.

Both the chalice and the paten, a plate that holds the hosts, consist of precious metals.

“The reason why the paten is – and the chalice – are so beautiful,” Fr. Gallagher said, is “because they really touch God. And we want to give the best we have to God.”

Linens also play a critical role in the Mass. The corporal, which takes its name from the Latin word for “body,” is a square linen cloth that often has a cross embroidered on it. 

 

It exists, Fr. Foley said, so that “during the Mass, when the priest breaks the host, nothing falls off of it.” Instead, the cloth catches the body of Christ. 

Fr. Gallagher also discussed the purificator. 

“So after the chalice is used,” he said, “I consume the remaining precious blood and I rinse it with water and then I use the purificator to wipe it and to dry it.”

After the vessels and linens are prepared, the priest vests.

First, the priest “says a special prayer to wash his hands,” Fr. Gallagher said.

“This prayer in Latin says, ‘Give, Lord, strength to my hands to wipe out all stain so that, without pollution of mind or body, I may dare to serve You,’” he translated.

One layer at a time, the priest gets ready for Mass.

“The first is called an amice,” said Fr. Gallagher, pointing to a white cloth that wraps around the shoulders and neck. “This is really meant to be like a helmet of salvation.”

Then, “over the amice, I put on the alb,” he said. The floor-length white vestment with sleeves is put on with the prayer “Wash me clean, Lord, and cleanse me from my sin; that I may rejoice and be glad unendingly with them that have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb.”

Around the alb, the priest places a cincture, the prayer for which is: “Gird me, Lord, with the belt of faith, my loins with the virtue of chastity, and extinguish in them the humour of lust; that the strength of all chastity may ever abide in me.”

Next comes the stole, at which the priest prays, “Restore to me, Lord, I beseech Thee, the stole of immortality, which I lost in the transgression of the first father; and, though unworthy I presume to approach Thy sacred mystery with this garment, grant that I may merit to rejoice in it forever.”

Finally, the priest dons the chasuble, a sleeveless and often ornate outer vestment, praying, “O Lord, who said: my yoke is sweet and my burden light: grant that I may be able so to bear it, so that I may be able to obtain Thy grace.”

The point of the prayers for the vestments “is that the priest is covering up his humanity, because it's Our Lord Jesus who celebrates the Mass,” Fr. Gallagher emphasized. “So all of these different elements help the priest realize it's Our Lord Jesus who is taking over.”

He added, “Yes, he uses my voice, my hands, my gestures, but it's really Our Lord and his power that is able to change the bread into his body.”

Following the Mass, the linens and the vessels must be cleaned.

“It's washed in a very special way,” Fr. Foley said, pointing to the corporal. “Because it may, it comes in contact with the precious host, the precious blood.”

Fr. Gallagher added, “It would soak for a few days in water along with any other – the sacred linens.” That water is later “poured into a special sink that we call a sacrarium.”

The sacrarium, Fr. Foley said, “goes not into the sewer system, but into the dirt, into the ground,” so that “the precious body and blood of the Lord does not get mingled with sewage.”

Their actions and words point to the reverence due to the Mass and the body and blood of Christ.

“The Mass is actually not one of the most time-consuming things we do, but it is the most important thing we do,” Fr. Gallagher concluded. “So that's why it's sort of shrouded with all these special rituals, prayers of preparation to help the priest prepare and celebrate Mass very well. And that's the most important thing he can do for his people.”

Catholic journalism expert reflects on the moral issues around privacy and data 

Dr. William Thorn, associate professor emeritus of Journalism and Media Studies/Institute for Catholic Media at Marquette University’s Diederich College of Communication. Credit: William Thorn/CNA.

Denver Newsroom, Jul 24, 2021 / 06:01 am (CNA).

CNA spoke recently with Dr. William J. Thorn regarding the recent investigation which led to the resignation of Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill as general secretary of the US bishops’ conference.

Thorn is associate professor emeritus of Journalism and Media Studies/Institute for Catholic Media at Marquette University’s Diederich College of Communication. He holds a Ph.D. in mass communication from the University of Minnesota, an M.A. from the University of Wisconsin - Madison, and a B.A. from Loras College.

Find below the full text of CNA's discourse with Thorn:

At the heels of the recent controversial use of data mining to expose a Church personality, can you walk us through the outlines of investigative journalism and what constitutes the ethical limits of investigative journalism? 

The report on Msgr. Burrill underscores the challenges social media and emerging technologies have created, because it blurs the boundaries of private and public information. Grindr describes itself as "the World’s Largest Social networking app for gay, bi, trans and queer people." As a location-based social networking and online dating site Grindr was one of the first geosocial apps for gay men when it launched in March 2009. As a public social network, it has limited privacy controls. These semi-public social networks compromise the former boundaries of ethical investigation. This boundary is perhaps best illustrated by the stance of a friend who was a city hall reporter. Whenever he got a phone call or verbal comment about some alleged malfeasance, he demanded a public document like a travel expense form or letter which contained the factual basis for an investigation. In other words, neither personal complaints nor hearsay could be trusted, but printed information could be. Traditionally, an ethical investigation builds on facts that are part of the public record or can be verified by public documents or interviews with reliable witnesses. Another ethical principle is to keep the focus on actions that can be proven by factual evidence or witnesses rather than on insinuations about the subject based on circumstantial evidence. Once the verifiable facts are known, the investigative reporter moves to confront the subject and provides an opportunity to deny, admit wrongdoing or explanation. Libel and slander laws provide boundaries and guides to investigative journalism about individuals whose reputation and good name may be at stake. Simply drawing conclusions from an online source seriously challenges verifiability and risks libeling an innocent individual.

Complications are now arising in the field of data mining and journalism. In your opinion, how does the aggregation of questionably acquired data work for or against the previously established moral limits of investigative journalism?

New data mining technology poses a plethora of privacy issues for investigative journalism, regarding both prominent individuals and ordinary citizens, for example, in areas like health and personal habits, which require some verifiable contextual evidence to reach a fact-based conclusion. But legal boundaries differ from moral constrains which require  care for the impact of conclusions based on less than reliable abstract which can destroy or seriously damage an individual's reputation. One of the most egregious moral and ethical compromises of investigative journalism occurred at the early 20th century Denver Post, whose reporters wrote detailed biographies of wealthy silver magnates, including their scandalous, even illegal behaviors. The editors then used these stories to blackmail their subjects. The reports were accurate, their purpose illegal.



Does a source paying for information change the calculation about whether or not a journalist should use that source? 

A source paying for information automatically raises questions about the motivations of both payee and recipient as well as the reliability of information.



Many are celebrating the resignation of Msgr. Burrill and the efforts that led to his resignation. From a Catholic ethics perspective, does this apparently successful end validate the means? 

The end never justifies the means, even if they are digital and seem credible because of technology.  The celebration raises questions about ignoble motives, e.g., revenge or personal animus connected to the investigation.

Another argument with competing voices centers on whether corruption needs to be brought to the light to be healed. Please explain, from the perspective of Catholic ethics, when and where and to what degree it would be appropriate to publish information alleging or proving corruption that is gravely sinful but not criminal. 

Healing depends, in part on the harm involved. In Msgr. Burrill's case there is only circumstantial evidence of behavior based on GPS location with no eye witness or other factual evidence such as a credit card receipt. Data mining based on Grindr's location routine seems a bit specious for "bringing to light corruption," an adage based on rooting out the corruption of politicians and public officials.  Within a Church context like the USCCB, the question turns on the precise corruption and how it can be healed by exposure. Grindr location data insinuate but do not demonstrate the alleged corruption, or perhaps a level of ignorance in the user about the actual privacy of the Grindr app. Healing of sinful behavior does not require public knowledge, as the Sacrament of Reconciliation demonstrates. On the other hand, abuse of public trust or misuse of church funds may help heal the community if exposed, e.g. the sex abuse scandal or embezzlement of Church funds.



Please elaborate on what distinguishes truth-telling from detraction, acknowledging that many Catholics are longing for reform that they don’t see coming from most of the Bishops. 

Facts that demonstrate actual malfeasance distinguish truth telling from detraction, libel, and slander. Reform must be based on demonstrable corruption so it cannot be simply dismissed as petty jealousy or a fervid imagination. Clear court cases and guilty verdicts launched serious reforms in sexual abuse cases.

The fast and growing incorporation of technology in investigative journalism seems to be inevitable and frequently positive. What lines do you think were crossed, if any, in the "investigation" that forced the resignation of Msgr. Burrill? 

Two lines: what hard, non-digital evidence was there of wrongdoing? What corroborating documentary or eyewitness evidence warranted the publication? Was Msgr. Burrill properly and timely informed of the digital evidence and given a chance to defend himself? Or was he blackmailed into resigning "for the good of USCCB?"



Is a church official such as Msgr. Burrill a private citizen or a public official? And what might be the legal ramifications?   

He is a private citizen in U.S. legal terms. His role in the USCCB makes him a public church official, but whether that makes him a public figure under U.S. libel law as defined in 1966 by the Supreme Court in N.Y. Times v. Sullivan seems to be an open legal question. Under the Sullivan decision, elected public officials must expect harsh and even vitriolic criticism, and are required to demonstrate "actual malice" i.e. knowing falsehood or careless disregard for the truth in order to win a libel case. As neither an elected politician nor a public figure, Msgr. Burrill would be protected by libel laws as an ordinary citizen.

Major donations mean 'tremendous impact' for Catholic school students in western Pennsylvania

Stephen Kiers/Shutterstock

Greensburg, Pa., Jul 23, 2021 / 16:01 pm (CNA).

An anonymous donor and new partners will help continue millions of dollars in funding for a tuition aid program for the Diocese of Greensburg’s Catholic schools. The program is set to support hundreds of students in southwestern Pennsylvania over the next five years.

 

“These are true evangelization efforts. These monies help to ensure that more students will be knowledgeable in the faith,” Dr. Maureen Marsteller, Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the diocese, said July 21.

 

In 2020, the St. Pope John Paul II Tuition Opportunity Partnership gave nearly $2.5 million in tuition assistance to support more than 800 students. These resources offset tuition for 250 students new to the Catholic school system. This boosted Catholic school enrollment by more than 13%.

 

“These are major opportunities for our Catholic schools, each made possible by community-minded individuals who understand the impact that Catholic education can have in a person's life,” Bishop Larry Kulick of Greensburg said. “We are grateful for their commitment to our schools and families through these partnerships.”

 

The scholarship partnership was first announced in July 2020. It was launched with $2.5 million from an anonymous donor the diocese said is “committed to fortifying Catholic education in western Pennsylvania.”

 

To qualify for assistance for the scholarship program, students must show commitment to and enthusiasm for learning. The student or family must be registered members of a faith community, and the student must demonstrate service to that community. A student’s parent or guardian must also show some financial commitment to the cost of education.

 

Beneficiaries do not need to be Catholic. The amount of monetary aid for each student depends on factors such as financial need, other financial aid options, and the number of siblings who attend Catholic schools, according to the Valley News Dispatch.

 

The five-year extension to the program has the support of the previous anonymous donor as well as new named donors including Jay W. Cleveland, Jr., president and CEO of Cleveland Brothers. The Pennsylvania Educational Income Tax Credit program, with commitments from over 100 businesses and individuals, have helped provide tuition assistance forecasted at $20 million over the next five years.

 

“It is truly a great day for us here in the Diocese of Greensburg with this historic and monumental announcement,” Bishop Kulick said at a press conference at Aquinas Academy in Greensburg. The program is a “wonderful opportunity” to ensure that every student who wants a Catholic education will receive it, he said.

 

He said that Aquinas Academy saw a 10% increase in enrollment, aided by the donation.

 

Cathy Collett, principal at Aquinas Academy, said that adding $2.5 million to tuition aid programs “certainly makes a tremendous impact.”

 

There are 11 Catholic elementary schools and two junior-senior high schools in the diocese’s school system, which has more than 2,300 students, according to the diocese’s website. Forecasts suggest the tuition program could help enrollment grow by 80 students, another 10% increase.

 

The diocese also welcomed capital project donations for many school campuses that totaled more than $300,000 in manpower and resources from Lindy Paving, Golden Triangle Construction and Arch Masonry at many of the school campuses. The diocese’s statement voiced gratitude for attorney John Goetz and the law firm Jones Day, Pittsburgh for pro bono legal services regarding the donations.

 

There are about 128,000 Catholics out of a total population of some 640,000 people who live in the territory of the Greensburg diocese.

Lawsuit brings sex abuse allegations against New Hampshire bishop

Bishop Peter Libasci of Manchester. Credit: Jeff Dachowski.

Rockville Centre, N.Y., Jul 23, 2021 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

Bishop Peter Libasci has been accused in a lawsuit of committing sexual abuse while a priest in New York during the 1980s. 

The Bishop of Manchester is accused in a July 14 lawsuit of abusing a male youth on numerous occasions in 1983 and 1984. Bishop Libasci has not spoken out publicly on the allegations, but the Diocese of Manchester says the matter has been reported to civil authorities. 

The anonymous alleged victim, an altar boy who would have been in his early teens, was a student at Saints Cyril and Methodius School in Deer Park, New York, which has since merged with another school. The lawsuit also names the Sisters of St. Joseph, an order which ran the school, claiming they were negligent in allowing the alleged abuse to occur. 

The Manchester diocese told the Associated Press in a statement that it was aware of the lawsuit and that the matter had been reported to civil authorities, but that Libasci’s status as bishop has not, for the moment, changed. 

The diocese did not respond to CNA’s request for further comment. 

Bishop Libasci was a priest of the Diocese of Rockville Centre at the time of the alleged abuse, having been ordained in 1978. The Rockville Centre diocese is one of several in New York that have recently filed for bankruptcy amid a flood of lawsuits. 

In a 2002 agreement, in return for the the state of New Hampshire agreeing not to prosecute the diocese as an institution or any individuals for their past handling of sexual abuse allegations involving clergy, though county attorneys still can pursue individual prosecutions, the diocese agreed to new policies on sexual abuse and to periodic audits of those policies, the AP reported.

Before his 2011 appointment to lead the Manchester diocese, Bishop Libasci was an auxiliary bishop of Rockville Centre, having been consecrated in 2007. 

Sean Dolan, spokesman for the Rockville Centre diocese, told CNA that because the allegations involve a current diocesan bishop, the diocese has informed the Holy See of the accusation, in keeping with the norms of Vos estes lux mundi, Pope Francis’ 2019 document which governs procedures regarding accusations against bishops. 

If a Vos estis investigation into Bishop Libasci is initiated, it will likely be undertaken by Sean Cardinal O’Malley of Boston, Libasci’s metropolitan archbishop, with a 90-day timetable for Cardinal O’Malley to complete any investigation. 

A spokesman for the Boston archdiocese told the NH Reporter that no Vos estis investigation has yet begun, and referred further questions to the Vatican. 

“Following its standard protocol, the Diocese of Rockville Centre also reported the matter to the Suffolk County District Attorney,” Dolan told CNA in a statement.

“The Diocese of Rockville Centre remains committed to the ongoing work of creating a safe environment in the Church.”

The Rockville Centre diocese filed for bankruptcy in October 2020. Several other New York dioceses including Rochester, Syracuse, and Buffalo have also declared bankruptcy. 

The passage of the Child Victims Act in New York in 2019 allowed for sex abuse lawsuits to be filed in past cases in which victims had not yet taken action, long after the statute of limitations had expired. The CVA originally created a one-year window for these lawsuits to be filed; the window closes next month, and hundreds of lawsuits have since been filed.

Cardinal Kasper assails Traditional Latin Mass community for divisiveness

Cardinal Walter Kasper. / CNA/Bohumil Petrik.

Denver Newsroom, Jul 23, 2021 / 13:30 pm (CNA).

German prelate Cardinal Walter Kasper argued that the Traditional Latin Mass was a source of division and scandal within parishes in an interview about Traditionis Custodes with the National Catholic Register on Thursday, July 22, 2021. 

The cardinal stated that those who prefer the Traditional Latin Mass “reject the Second Vatican Council more or less in its entirety” and characterized Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum as a failed attempt at furthering unity.

"It’s my experience that the overwhelming majority of the faithful are firmly against it (the Traditional Latin Mass). I know many people are scandalized when they come to St. Peter’s in Rome early in the morning and see that on many altars priests celebrating the 'old Mass' without any altar boy and no participation of the faithful. They turn to the empty basilica and say: 'Dominus vobiscum','“Orate fratres' etc.," he added.

While Cardinal Kasper did recognize that other threats to unity exist within the Church--notably the German synodal way--he stayed away from characterizing them with the same degree of danger as adhering to the Traditional Latin Mass. 

“As far as I know, none of the bishops wants any schismatic act and there is a slowly growing number in the bishops’ conference who are resistant,” said the Cardinal about the German synodal way. 

The full text of the interview can be found here

Pope Francis' Traditional Latin Mass restrictions: Has your diocese responded yet?

Cardinal Raymond Burke gives the final blessing during the Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage Mass in Rome on Oct. 25, 2014. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Denver Newsroom, Jul 23, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

Catholic clergy and lay people around the world continue to react passionately to newly imposed restrictions on the use of the Traditional Latin Mass, two weeks after Pope Francis released his controversial apostolic letter Traditionis Custodes.

In his motu proprio issued July 16, the pope recognized the “exclusive competence” of bishops to authorize or refuse the Latin Mass in their respective dioceses, and he directed bishops to ensure that groups dedicated to the “extraordinary form” do not deny the validity of Vatican II and its liturgical reforms. The pope also declared that Traditional Latin Masses can no longer be offered at “parochial churches,” and he ordered that readings must be in the vernacular.

Expressly aimed at unifying the Church, the document has sparked weeks of fractious commentary.

Several prominent Church leaders, as well as numerous conservative commentators such as author George Weigel, have been pointed in their criticism of the surprise announcement. In a July 21 essay published in First Things, Weigel called the motu proprio "theologically incoherent, pastorally divisive, unnecessary, cruel—and a sorry example of the liberal bullying that has become all too familiar in Rome recently."

Meanwhile, Fr. Thomas Reese, in a July 20 column for Religion News Service, said the document was part of Pope Francis’ effort to “separate the pious faithful with traditional devotion to the old liturgy from the ideologues who reject the reforms of the [Second Vatican] council.”

To date, some U.S. bishops have still not issued public statements on their plans to implement the pope’s new rules.

Most of the bishops who have issued statements have chosen temporarily to allow the Traditional Latin Mass to continue in their dioceses while they review the document, while others have restricted Latin Masses in certain parish churches. Some bishops have issued canonical dispensations for particular parish churches, allowing the Traditional Latin Mass to continue at those locations despite the document's restrictions on the Latin Mass at "parochial churches."

Below is a state-by-state list of episcopal statements on the state of the Traditional Latin Mass in their respective dioceses, as of July 30: 

Alabama 

Archdiocese of Mobile: N/A

Diocese of Birmingham: Three parishes within the diocese are given permission to continue celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass: Our Lady Help of Christians Parish in Huntsville, Blessed Sacrament in Birmingham, Christ the King Chapel in Cullman (Simcoe). A dispensation was granted from art. 3 § 2 for the parish church of Blessed Sacrament in Birmingham.

Other priests who possess faculties to offer the Traditional Latin Mass should request authorization to continue to do so. They may celebrate “non-scheduled, non-publicized, non-public Masses in a sacred place with the explicit permission of the Diocesan Bishop or his delegate; this includes all visiting priests to the diocese.”

Alaska

Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau: N/A

Diocese of Fairbanks: N/A

Arizona

Diocese of Phoenix: Bishop Thomas Olmsted decreed that the Traditional Latin Mass may be celebrated in chapels, oratories, mission churches, or non-parochial churches, and dispensed seven parishes from the location restrictions of Art. 3, § 2 of Traditionis custodes. He also allowed the Extraordinary Form of the liturgy to continue at the personal parish of Mater Misericordiae.

Diocese of Tucson: Bishop Edward Weisenberger said “I do not envision any changes” to the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass at Saint Gianna Oratory in Tucson.

Arkansas 

Diocese of Little Rock: Celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass has ceased at “regular parish churches.” Two parishes administered by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter will not be affected.

California

Archdiocese of Los Angeles: N/A
Archdiocese of San Francisco: Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may continue to do so.

Diocese of Oakland: Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may continue to do so.

Diocese of Sacramento: N/A

Diocese of Fresno: N/A

Diocese of San Bernardino: Bishop Alberto Rojas issued a canonical dispensation from Art. 3, § 2 of Traditionis custodes for two parishes in the diocese, allowing celebration of the Latin Mass according to the 1962 Missal to continue at those churches; priests seeking to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass at those churches must seek faculties to do so.

Diocese of San Diego: N/A

Diocese of San Jose: N/A

Diocese of Santa Rosa: The diocese told CNA that while Bishop Vasa may have communicated to his priests, he has not yet, as other bishops have, written a general 'guidance' letter regarding the Motu Proprio. 

Diocese of Stockton: N/A

Diocese of Orange: After polling priests who celebrate the Latin Mass, the Bishop decided the four locations in the diocese which currently offer it are permitted to continue. 

Diocese of Monterey: N/A

Colorado

Archdiocese of Denver: Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may continue to do so. 

Diocese of Colorado Springs: N/A

Diocese of Pueblo: N/A

Connecticut

Archdiocese of Hartford: N/A

Diocese of Bridgeport: Priests wishing to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass - including in private - must write Bishop Frank Caggiano for permission to continue. Bishop Caggiano has promised to grant temporary faculties for at least private Masses.

Diocese of Norwich: N/A

Delaware

Diocese of Wilmington: N/A

Florida

Archdiocese of Miami: N/A

Diocese of Orlando: N/A

Diocese of Palm Beach: N/A

Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee: N/A

Diocese of St. Augustine: N/A

Diocese of St. Petersburg: N/A

Diocese of Venice: N/A

Georgia

Archdiocese of Atlanta: “The Masses celebrated according the Roman Missal edited by Saint John XXIII in 1962 are not suppressed in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, particularly at Saint Francis of Sales in Mableton, serve by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP).” Other priests not in the Fraternity are to request permission if they wish to offer the Latin Mass.

Diocese of Savannah: Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may continue to do so. 

Hawaii

Diocese of Honolulu: N/A 

Idaho

Diocese of Boise: N/A

Illinois

Archdiocese of Chicago: Cardinal Blase Cupich stated that "current practices with regard to the 1962 Missal remain in place" in the archdiocese.

Diocese of Belleville: N/A

Diocese of Joliet: N/A

Diocese of Peoria: N/A

Diocese of Rockford: Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may continue to do so. 

Diocese of Springfield: Bishop Thomas Paprocki issued a canonical dispensation from Art. 3, § 2 of Traditionis custodes for two parishes in the diocese, allowing celebration of the Latin Mass according to the 1962 Missal to continue at those churches.

Indiana

Archdiocese of Indianapolis: Holy Rosary Catholic Church reported on its website that the chancery “assured” the parish “nothing is changing” regarding the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass there. 


Diocese of Evansville: N/A

Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend: N/A

Diocese of Gary: N/A

Diocese of Lafayette: According to Mater Dolorosa Latin Mass Community of the Lafayette diocese, Bishop Douglas Deshotel said that “in the interim,” celebrations of the Latin Mass may continue as they are currently scheduled.

Iowa

Archdiocese of Dubuque: Archbishop Michael Jackels said that at Immaculate Conception parish in Cedar Rapids, where the Extraordinary Form is offered, “efforts will be made, guided by the new norm, to provide for those folks.”

Diocese of Davenport: N/A

Diocese of Des Moines: St. Anthony parish in Des Moines reported that a regularly scheduled Sunday Latin Mass will continue, with permission from Bishop William Joensen.

Diocese of Sioux City: “The faithful attending the Latin Mass at the Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City will not experience a change in worship for the time being due to the July 16 announcement from the Vatican.”

Kansas

Archdiocese of Kansas City: Archbishop Joseph Naumann has permitted traditional liturgies to “continue without interruption” at two locations, St. John Vianney Latin Mass Community in Maple Hill and St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Parish in Mission Woods. The Traditional Latin Mass is not permitted to be regularly scheduled for Sundays and Holy Days at other parish churches, and any proposals to celebrate it require discussion with Naumann or his delegate “well in advance.” Other priests of the archdiocese who “at times” wish to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass “may continue to do so for the present,” but must contact the archbishop by Oct. 1, 2021 for continued permission. 

Diocese of Dodge City: N/A

Diocese of Salina: N/A 

Diocese of Wichita: Bishop Carl Kemme allowed celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass to “continue indefinitely” at four locations where it has regularly been offered: St. Joseph Parish in Wichita, Pius X Student Center in Pittsburg, Blessed Sacrament parish in Wichita, and St. Mary’s parish in Newton. He issued a canonical dispensation from Art. 3, § 2 of the motu proprio. All priests wishing to celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form must write for faculties to do so.

Kentucky

Archdiocese of Louisville: N/A

Diocese of Covington: N/A

Diocese of Lexington: Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv. is permitting the Regina Pacis Latin Mass community to continue celebrating the Mass, however, “the Regina Pacis community will be consolidated at St. Francis de Sales and no longer offer a Sunday Mass at St. Peter’s in downtown Lexington.”

Diocese of Owensboro: N/A

Louisiana

Archdiocese of New Orleans: Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may continue to do so. 

Diocese of Alexandria: N/A

Diocese of Baton Rouge: St. Agnes Catholic Church, the only parish in the diocese with a scheduled Latin Mass, has been allowed by Bishop Michael Duca to continue offering Mass according the 1962 Missal. 

Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux: N/A

Diocese of Lafayette: N/A

Diocese of Shreveport: N/A

Diocese of Lake Charles: Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may continue to do so. 

Maine

Diocese of Portland: St. Gregory the Great Latin Mass Chaplaincy in the Portland diocese said that Bishop Deeley intends to make no changes in the diocese. Masses will continue as scheduled, pending any further decisions by the Bishop.

Maryland

Archdiocese of Baltimore: Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may continue to do so. 

Massachusetts

Archdiocese of Boston: Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may continue to do so.  

Diocese of Fall River: Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha said “the Mass already approved and celebrated regularly at St. Francis Xavier Church in Hyannis will continue to be offered.” Further guidelines and clarifications will be issued in the near future.

Diocese of Springfield: N/A

Diocese of Worcester: Bishop Robert Joseph McManus said that “in the weeks ahead,” he would meet with priests celebrating the Extraordinary Form with his “permission,” to discuss implementation of Traditionis custodes.

Michigan

Archdiocese of Detroit: Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may continue to do so.  

Diocese of Gaylord: Bishop Walter Hurley said, “The motu proprio will require some changes in the way we have functioned,” and said he asked priests for assistance in implementing it, with “further guidance” to come on “the use of the ‘extraordinary form’.”

Diocese of Grand Rapids: Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may continue to do so. 

Diocese of Kalamazoo: Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may continue to do so. 

Diocese of Lansing: N/A

Diocese of Marquette: N/A

Diocese of Saginaw: According to the bulletin of the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption, Bishop Robert Gruss has granted permission to several diocesan priests to continue celebrating the Latin Mass as he studies Traditiones custodes. The liturgy has been celebrated at Holy Family Church in Saginaw, with priests offering the Latin Mass on a rotating basis.

Minnesota

Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis: Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may continue to do so, conditional on writing to the bishop for permission.

Diocese of Bismarck: N/A

Diocese of Crookston: N/A

Diocese of Duluth: Celebration of the Traditional Mass may continue at St. Benedict’s parish in Duluth; authorization for other parishes offering the Traditional Mass will be examined on a case-by-case basis.

Diocese of New Ulm: N/A

Diocese of Saint Cloud: N/A

Diocese of Winona-Rochester: There are no immediate stated changes and Bishop John Quinn said he will study the document more until he makes a final decision.

Mississippi

Diocese of Biloxi: Bishop Louis Kinheman granted a canonical dispensation from Art. 3, § 2 of the motu proprio for all parishes in the diocese that previously celebrated the Traditional Latin Mass. Priests who previously offered Mass according to the 1962 Missal may continue to do so.

Diocese of Jackson: N/A

Missouri

Archdiocese of St. Louis: N/A

Diocese of Jefferson City: Bishop Shawn McKnight temporarily has granted Father Dylan Schrader, pastor of St. Brendan Parish in Mexico, Missouri the necessary faculty to continue using the Missale Romanum of 1962. He is working with Father Schrader to designate and establish the places and times at which the “Old Latin Mass” may be celebrated in other parts of the diocese throughout the year, usually on significant feast days.

Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph: N/A

Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau: Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may continue to do so.

Montana

Diocese of Great Falls-Billings: N/A

Diocese of Helena: N/A

Nebraska

Archdiocese of Omaha: Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may continue to do so. 

Diocese of Grand Island: N/A

Diocese of Lincoln: Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may continue to do so.  

Nevada

Diocese of Las Vegas: N/A

Diocese of Reno: N/A

New Hampshire

Diocese of Manchester: N/A

New Jersey

Archdiocese of Newark: N/A

Diocese of Camden: N/A

Diocese of Metuchen: N/A

Diocese of Paterson: N/A

Diocese of Trenton: Bishop David O’Connell authorized use of Mass according to the 1962 Missal at five parishes, with a sixth permitted to offer the Traditional Latin Mass on First Fridays of every other month.

New Mexico

Archdiocese of Santa Fe: N/A

Diocese of Gallup: N/A

Diocese of Las Cruces: N/A

New York

Archdiocese of New York: N/A

Diocese of Albany: Bishop Edward Scharfenberger welcomed “input” from members of the diocese on implementation of Traditionis custodes.

Diocese of Brooklyn: N/A

Diocese of Buffalo: Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may temporarily continue to do so. 

Diocese of Ogdensburg: N/A

Diocese of Rochester: Bishop Salvatore Matano said that any priest “in good standing” may continue celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass with “strict adherence” to the norms set forth in the motu proprio. Priests must request authorization from the Bishop within 15 “useful days” of the memorandum.

Diocese of Rockville Centre: N/A

Diocese of Syracuse: N/A

North Carolina 

Diocese of Charlotte: Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may temporarily continue to do so. 

Diocese of Raleigh: Bishop Luis Rafael Zarama said he “will prayerfully study” the motu proprio with priests and diocesan staff “before making any long-term changes or provisions regarding the celebration of the extraordinary form in the Diocese of Raleigh.”

North Dakota 

Diocese of Bismarck: Bishop David Kagan said the Traditional Latin Mass will be celebrated at the Oratory of St. Clement, Haymarsh, North Dakota, “as this is not a parish Church (Art. 3 §2).” He said the Oratory may celebrate the Latin Mass every Sunday but must choose a time before 12 noon.

Diocese of Fargo: N/A

Ohio

Archdiocese of Cincinnati: Old St. Mary’s church and Sacred Heart church in Cincinnati, as well as Holy Family church in Dayton and to-be-determined location in the north of the archdiocese, have been designated as sites for celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass. For other celebrations of Mass according to the 1962 Missal, priests must obtain permission and offer non-scheduled and non-publicized Mass at a “sacred” or “decent” place.

No public Latin masses are allowed to be offered at any parochial churches, which includes Holy Trinity Catholic church in Batavia.  “As of now, the daily Traditional Latin Mass has been cancelled,” the pastor wrote.

Diocese of Cleveland:  Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may continue to do so.

Diocese of Columbus: The diocese confirmed that, as of right now, the “Oratory of St. Leo in Columbus under the pastoral care of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest” is celebrating the Latin Mass. Bishop Robert Brennan said he looks forward to “meeting with the priests who offer the Latin Mass in a spirit of fraternal charity to assess the needs here in the Diocese of Columbus and the implementation of Traditionis Custodes.”

Diocese of Steubenville: N/A

Diocese of Toledo: Bishop Daniel Thomas granted a canonical dispensation from Art. 3, § 2 of the motu proprio for St. Joseph parish in Toledo, allowing the celebration of Mass according to the 1962 Missal to continue there. Other priests already celebrating the Latin Mass should request permission from him, including the location, reason for celebrating, and proposed frequency of Masses.

Diocese of Youngstown: N/A

Oklahoma 

Archdiocese of Oklahoma City:  Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may continue to do so.  

Diocese of Tulsa: No immediate changes.

Oregon

Archdiocese of Portland: Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may continue to do so.  

Diocese of Baker: N/A

Pennsylvania

Archdiocese of Philadelphia: Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may continue to do so.  

Diocese of Allentown: N/A

Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown: No immediate changes. Bishop Mark Bartchak said he will consult with the diocese’s presbyteral council and deans, and that priests “who have been celebrating the Sacred Liturgy of the Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal will be involved in the consultation.” Following the consultation, “any practical changes” will be announced.

Diocese of Erie: N/A

Diocese of Greensburg: N/A

Diocese of Harrisburg: Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may continue to do so. 

Diocese of Pittsburgh: Most Precious Blood Parish may continue celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass. Other parishes in the diocese have halted their Latin Mass celebrations and are in consultation with Bishop David Zubik. 

Diocese of Scranton: Traditional Latin Masses at St. Michael the Archangel parish in Scranton, administered by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), may continue. Diocesan priests who have offered Mass according to the 1962 Missal must request permission to continue doing so.

Rhode Island

Diocese of Providence: Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may continue to do so. 

South Carolina

Diocese of Charleston: Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may continue to do so temporarily, but must ask permission of the Bishop Guglielmone. Priests must indicate the specific occasions and times that the extraordinary form is currently celebrated in their parish.

South Dakota

Diocese of Sioux Falls: N/A

Diocese of Rapid City: N/A

Tennessee

Diocese of Knoxville: Bishop Richard Stika granted a temporary canonical dispensation from Art. 3, § 2 of Traditionis custodes for parishes already offering the Traditional Latin Mass. 

Diocese of Memphis: Bishop David Talley issued a dispensation for Blessed Sacrament parish and St. Therese Little Flower parish so they may continue to celebrate Latin Mass with the 1962 Roman Missal. Fr. Yoelvis Gonzalez, pastor of both parishes, may celebrate the Masses. No other churches in the diocese were given permission for the Traditional Latin Mass, and other priests ordained before July 16 who wish to celebrate the liturgy must request permission.

Diocese of Nashville: N/A

Texas

Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston: Cardinal Daniel DiNardo stated, “For the time being, the celebration of Holy Mass according to the Roman Missal of 1962 may continue within the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.”

Archdiocese of San Antonio: N/A

Diocese of Amarillo: N/A

Diocese of Austin: Fr. Daniel Liu, rector of St. Mary Cathedral in Austin Texas, posted on the Facebook page St. Joseph Latin Mass Society (SJLMS) that Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin allowed his parish to continue offering the Extraordinary Form of the Mass as he considers Traditionis custodes. The society told CNA that Bishop Vasquez has allowed the extraordinaryl form to continue throughout the whole diocese.

Diocese of Beaumont: N/A

Diocese of Brownsville: Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may continue to do so. 

Diocese of Corpus Christi: N/A

Diocese of Dallas: N/A

Diocese of El Paso: The FSSP community at Immaculate Conception Church said that Bishop Mark Seitz has reached out and assured the parish of his support. “He does not foresee anything changing as a consequence of this document.”

Diocese of Fort Worth: Bishop Michael Olson authorized the Traditional Latin Mass to continue at Saint Benedict Parish in Fort Worth, administered by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP). The parish pastor Fr. Karl Pikus, FSSP, is also serving as Bishop Olson’s delegate for other Catholics in the diocese requesting the sacraments in the extraordinary form; Catholics making those requests must have a letter of permission from their pastor.

Diocese of Laredo: N/A

Diocese of Lubbock: N/A 

Diocese of San Angelo: Bishop Michael Sis issued a canonical dispensation from Art. 3, § 2 of Traditionis Custodes for St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church in San Angelo, allowing celebration of the Latin Mass according to the 1962 Missal to continue there “due to the lack of suitable alternative locations for these Masses”.

Diocese of Tyler: While Bishop Joseph Strickland is studying the motu proprio, he is asking priests in the diocese to “make an assessment” of their Latin Mass communities and make recommendations on implementing Traditiones Custodes. “I am not ready to issue permanent norms for the diocese at this time,” he wrote.

Diocese of Victoria: N/A

Utah

Diocese of Salt Lake City: St. Mary’s in Park City said that on July 20th, Bishop Oscar Solis granted Fr. Gray temporary permission to continue celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass, “until the bishop has had the opportunity to prayerfully reflect and study the matter more.”

Vermont

Diocese of Burlington: N/A

Virginia

Diocese of Arlington:  Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may continue to do so. 

Diocese of Richmond: N/A

Virgin Islands

Diocese of St. Thomas: N/A

Washington

Archdiocese of Seattle: N/A

Diocese of Spokane: N/A

Diocese of Yakima: N/A

Washington D.C. 

Archdiocese of Washington: Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may continue to do so. 

Archdiocese of the Military Services: Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may continue to do so. 

West Virginia

Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston: Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may continue to do so. 

Wisconsin

Archdiocese of Milwaukee: Priests already celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass may continue to do so. 

Diocese of Green Bay: Bishop David Ricken sent a letter to priests and pastoral leaders, but the diocese said “because the letter was meant for priests and pastoral leaders, we are not going to be sharing it publicly.”

Diocese of La Crosse: N/A

Diocese of Madison: Bishop Donald Hying said that priests wishing to offer the Traditional Latin Mass could “presume” his authorization now.

Diocese of Superior: N/A

Wyoming

Diocese of Cheyenne: N/A

CNA would like to keep this list updated. If you have new information, please contact us at [email protected]

Mississippi AG asks Supreme Court to overturn abortion rulings 

Steven Frame/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jul 23, 2021 / 11:00 am (CNA).

Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to overturn two of its landmark rulings on abortion, arguing those decisions “shackle states to a view of the facts that is decades out of date.”

The high court recently agreed to hear the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, involving Mississippi’s ban on most elective abortions after 15 weeks. Activists on both sides of the abortion debate have argued that the case might prompt the court to re-examine its 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide, as well as its 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that built upon the Roe ruling.

The high court is expected to hear the Dobbs case in the fall. In a brief filed with the Supreme Court on Thursday, Fitch said that the Roe and Casey rulings created more questions than answers, and that the issue of abortion should be returned to lawmakers rather than to the courts. 

Fitch said that rather than settling debate over the issue of abortion, the Roe and Casey decisions established “a special-rules regime for abortion jurisprudence that has left these cases out of step with other Court decisions and neutral principles of law applied by the Court.” 

“As a result, state legislatures, and the people they represent, have lacked clarity in passing laws to protect legitimate public interests, and artificial guideposts have stunted important public debate on how we, as a society, care for the dignity of women and their children,” Fitch said. 

“It is time for the Court to set this right and return this political debate to the political branches of government,” she wrote. 

Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, praised Mississippi’s brief in a statement, arguing that “updating America’s abortion jurisprudence is necessary and long overdue.” 

“The law at issue before the Supreme Court concerns moderate limits on the abortion of a child who has developed past 15 weeks, with a fully formed nose and lips, eyelids and eyebrows – when her humanity is beyond debate,” Mancini said. “Limiting gruesome late term abortions is compassionate and popular; and the norm in countries that have allowed their laws to catch up with the science.” 

Mancini argued that most nations restrict elective abortions at an earlier point in a pregnancy than the United States does. 

“Sadly, right now, the United States is one of only seven countries – including North Korea and China - that allow elective abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy," she said.   

In a statement, NARAL Pro-Choice America Acting President Adrienne Kimmell said Mississippi “is explicitly seeking to end the constitutional right to abortion and subvert the will of the overwhelming majority of Americans who support Roe and the legal right to abortion.” 

“This has always been the anti-choice movement’s agenda behind closed doors—now they’re operating in plain sight,” Kimmell said.

Fitch, in her brief, said that Mississippi is “simply asking the Court to affirm the right of the people to protect their legitimate interests and to provide clarity on how they may do so.”

She further argued that major societal changes since 1973 have made the Roe decision worth examining. 

“A lot has changed in five decades,” Fitch said. “In 1973, there was little support for women who wanted a full family life and a successful career. Maternity leave was rare. Paternity leave was unheard of. The gold standard for professional success was a 9-to-5 with a corner office. The flexibility of the gig economy was a fairy tale. In these last fifty years, women have carved their own way to achieving a better balance for success in their professional and personal lives.” 

“By returning the matter of abortion policy to state legislatures, we allow a stunted debate on how we support women to flourish,” Fitch continued. “It is time for the Court to let go of its hold on this important debate.”

Despite criticism from Wisconsin AG, Milwaukee archdiocese stresses cooperation with new abuse cases

The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Milwaukee. Credit: Sulfur via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Milwaukee, Wis., Jul 22, 2021 / 19:01 pm (CNA).

The Milwaukee archdiocese said that to its knowledge the Wisconsin attorney general’s inquiry into sexual abuse, which some critics say is singling out the Catholic Church, has so far not resulted in any allegations against current archdiocesan priests.

“We continue to cooperate with any new allegations against a living priest, and have not received any word from the attorney general that any have been received,” Sandra Peterson, communication director with the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, told CNA July 22.

The Milwaukee archdiocese has previously said that judges, civil authorities, and an outside firm have already reviewed their documents multiple times and a bankruptcy judge has declared no concern for public safety after reviewing abuse claims. Some of the archdiocesan records are under seal due to previous bankruptcy court proceedings or because of abuse victims’ decisions to submit their claims under seal. Compliance with the attorney general’s request to produce records could mean another major expenditure of six figures on lawyers’ fees and staff hours for the Milwaukee archdiocese alone.

For his part, Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul continues to criticize Catholic non-participation in his inquiry, which he announced in April.

“You know the Milwaukee Archdiocese put out a letter that they were, by and large, declining to cooperate with the review,” Kaul said at a July 20 press conference. “I think that's unfortunate. I think this is a real opportunity for the diocese and religious orders that have taken steps to demonstrate what they've done and how that process has moved forward.”

Kaul portrayed his investigation as “an independent review” of reports of clergy abuse that aimed “to ensure that survivors of clergy and faith leader abuse have access to needed victim services, to help prevent future cases of sexual assault, and to get accountability to the extent possible.”

The state justice department has added that while it “is starting with the Catholic Church in this initiative, victims are encouraged to report sexual abuse committed in any religious organization.”

In a June 1 email to Catholics in the archdiocese, Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee said the archdiocese would cooperate with any “proper” state investigation, including providing records related to any living priest accused of abuse. Archbishop Listecki has voiced doubt that the attorney general has the legal authority for the inquiry and said the archdiocese has “legitimate concerns that his inquiry is directly targeting only the Catholic Church.”

Kaul, speaking at a July 20 press conference, said anyone who has previously reported abuse they experienced or information about a potential abuse to a Catholic diocese or to local law enforcement should report it to his office. The Wisconsin Department of Justice said in a statement that people shouldn’t assume a previous report will be received by its office, blaming a lack of cooperation from Wisconsin’s five Roman Catholic dioceses.

Since Kaul opened the inquiry, the Department of Justice said it has received “over 100 reports of abuse by clergy and faith leaders, or related to how a religious organization has responded to abuse,” Wisconsin Public Radio reports.

“The reports have concerned clergy and faith leaders of multiple religious organizations as well as some reports of abuse not related to any religious organization. Some reports include claims against multiple abusers,” the Department of Justice has said.

Kaul said many reports to his office concern incidents that cannot be prosecuted due to the statute of limitations. The Department of Justice will refer cases to local district attorneys if they are eligible for investigation or prosecution. He declined to say how many cases have been referred.

Other leaders in the Milwaukee archdiocese have criticized the effort.

“Our assertion is the Church is being unfairly singled out by this investigation,” Jerry Topczewski, chief of staff to Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee, told CNA June 9. “We have accepted our past history and worked so vigilantly to correct how things are handled, but it’s the Church that is continually targeted.”

Of the some 578 claimants who filed claims against the archdiocese, 99% involved allegations of abuse before the year 1990. In June, Topczewski said, there had been only one substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by a Milwaukee archdiocese priest since 2000.

“This reinforces the historical nature of these crimes and indicates that education and prevention efforts are effective,” he said.

Peterson told CNA the archdiocese and the Catholic Church in the U.S. have worked to improve its sexual abuse prevention and response programs.

“It’s important to note that no organization in the U.S. has done more than the Catholic Church to become the model of how to address and prevent sexual abuse,” she said. “The Archdiocese of Milwaukee is the largest provider of Safe Environment sexual abuse prevention training in Wisconsin with more than 100,000 people trained.”

“This is part of the stringent preventative measures we’ve put in place which include criminal background checks and an independent reporting mechanism,” she said. “We’ve also provided ongoing outreach to abuse survivors, paid for counselling, and worked with survivors to improve the Church’s response to those who were harmed.”

In April, Kaul had announced the launch of an investigation into sexual abuse in the state’s Catholic dioceses and at least three religious orders. State officials have portrayed the inquiry as an effort to verify public lists of priests credibly accused of abuse.

Four of the state’s five dioceses, as well as the Jesuits and the Norbertines, have already disclosed the names of priests credibly accused of sex abuse. The Diocese of Superior is gathering its own list and intends to publish it by the end of the year.

In total, 177 Catholic priests have been identified as credibly accused of abusing minors in the state, though some incidents took place as long ago as the 1950s. Some of the accused priests themselves died decades ago.