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Indiana supreme court tosses out lawsuit against Indianapolis archdiocese

Cathedral High School, Indianapolis / Becket

Washington D.C., May 7, 2021 / 14:15 pm (CNA).

The Indiana supreme court on Friday dismissed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, filed by a former Catholic school teacher fired for contracting a same-sex civil marriage.  

Luke Goodrich, VP and senior counsel at Becket, which represents the archdiocese, said that the dismissal of the lawsuit was a “major victory” for religious liberty.

“If the First Amendment means anything, it means the government can’t punish the Catholic Church for asking Catholic educators to support Catholic teaching,” he said.

The lawsuit against the archdiocese was filed by Joshua Payne-Elliott, a former teacher at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis. In 2017, Payne-Elliott entered a same-sex civil marriage with another Catholic school teacher in the archdiocese, Layton Payne-Elliott.

According to Becket, the archdiocese for two years considered what action to take, before instructing both Cathedral and Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School, where Layton Payne-Elliott taught, that their employment could not continue. The civil marriage had violated Church teaching, the archdiocese said.  

Brebeuf refused the archbishop’s request, and the archdiocese in response revoked the school’s “Catholic” status. That revocation is on hold, as the school appealed to the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education.

Cathedral High School, however, terminated Joshua Payne-Elliott’s contract in June 2019. After reaching a settlement with the school, he filed a lawsuit against the archdiocese in August 2019.

The archdiocese has the right to uphold Church teaching in its standards for employee conduct, Goodrich said on Friday.

“Every Catholic school teacher in the Archdiocese signs an agreement to uphold the Church’s teachings in word and deed. The teacher here was dismissed after he entered a same-sex union in knowing violation of this agreement and of millennia of Catholic teaching,” Goodrich said on Twitter.

Becket said that it invoked three legal protections on behalf of the archdiocese in the case: “Church Autonomy, which protects internal religious governance,” “Expressive Association, which protects the ability to form groups to express a message,” and “The Ministerial Exception, which protects the freedom to choose religious leaders.”

“It is important that courts consistently uphold the right of religious groups to operate by their religious principles. Choosing who teaches in a religious school is a religious decision. Today’s order ensures that those decisions will be made by churches, not governments,” Goodrich said.

Cathedral High School leaders said in a June 2019 letter that Indianapolis Archbishop Charles Thompson “made it clear” that the school’s “continued employment of a teacher in a public, same-sex marriage would result in our forfeiting our Catholic identity due to our employment of an individual living in contradiction to Catholic teaching on marriage.”

“Therefore, in order to remain a Catholic Holy Cross School, Cathedral must follow the direct guidance given to us by Archbishop Thompson and separate from the teacher,” said the letter, signed by Matt Cohoat, chairman of Cathedral High School’s board of directors, and Rob Bridges, the school’s president.

Archdiocesan policy states that Catholic schools must clearly state in their contracts and job descriptions that teachers must uphold and support the teachings of the Church in their lives.

In June 2019, the archdiocese said of teachers that “it is their duty and privilege to ensure that students receive instruction in Catholic doctrine and practice. To effectively bear witness to Christ, whether they teach religion or not, all ministers in their professional and private lives must convey and be supportive of Catholic Church teaching.”

Archbishop Thompson has emphasized that Payne-Elliott was not fired for having same-sex attraction, but for entering into a same-sex civil marriage. The matter, he said in 2019, “is about public witness of Church teaching on the dignity of marriage as one man and one woman. That is our Church teaching.”

“In this particular case we’re dealing with, those are ministers in our Church. Teachers, guidance counselors, other leaders, leaders of the schools and other leaders in the archdiocese are bound to live out these principles,” he said.

This article was updated on May 7.

Father Weinandy: Pro-abortion rights Catholic politicians abuse, politicize sacraments

Pope Francis celebrates Holy Mass with First Communions in the Church of the Sacred Heart of Rakovsky, Bulgaria on May 6, 2019. / Vatican Media/CNA

CNA Staff, May 7, 2021 / 14:01 pm (CNA).

Dissenting Catholic politicians abuse and politicize the Eucharist when they receive the sacrament while promoting policies and actions contrary to the faith, such as legal abortion, according to theologian Father Thomas Weinandy.

 

Catholic politicians who reject Church teaching but then present themselves for Holy Communion “are using – and so abusing – the Eucharist for seemingly political purposes – to present themselves as ‘devout’ Catholics,” Fr. Weinandy, a Capuchin Franciscan, said in a May 1 essay for The Catholic Thing, “Politicizing the Eucharist”.

 

“What should most concern the Church is that such Catholic politicians do not simply hold many things that are in opposition to the Catholic faith, but they also actively attack, through the laws they propose and enact, the Catholic Church, the very church to which they claim devotion,” he said.

 

Fr. Weinandy is a member of the Vatican’s International Theological Commission, a 30-member body which advises the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Holy See on doctrinal questions.

 

While some critics have said it politicizes the Eucharist when clergy suggest denying it to politicians who reject aspects of the faith, Fr. Weinandy countered that the politicians themselves are responsible.

 

“The politicizing of the Eucharist occurs in the act of the Catholic politician presenting himself or herself to receive Communion even though he or she is well aware that to do so is contrary to what the Church teaches,” he said. “Those who are objectively in the state of mortal sin, or who dissent from or promote contrary positions to the Church’s fundamental dogmatic or moral teaching are forbidden to receive the body and blood of Jesus, for they have made themselves unworthy to do so.”

 

“Some bishops argue that such Catholic politicians should not be refused Communion, for to do so would politicize the Eucharist. The refusal on the part of bishops or priests would indeed cause a political and media fuss, and prudence may suggest, in certain circumstances, that Communion should not be refused,” Fr. Weinandy added. “An argument could easily be made, however, that refusal should be made so as to avoid scandal and protect the integrity of the sacrament.”

 

The dispute has been long a question in Catholicism in America, where legal abortion often breaks along partisan lines. The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision mandated nationwide permissive abortion laws, leading to millions of unborn children legally killed.

 

Fr. Weinandy reflected on Catholics who present themselves as devout. Devout Catholics, he said, don’t need to identify themselves as such because “it is evident to all that they are.”

 

“Everyone knows that they believe and uphold, and even promote, all that the Church teaches.  When they sin against God’s commandments as taught by the Church, they go to Confession, resolve to amend their lives, and so obtain sacramental absolution.  Such Catholics are devout without needing to trumpet it,” he said.

 

In Fr. Weinandy’s view, when a dissenting Catholic politician declares him or herself as a devout Catholic, “one immediately perceives that something is awry.” They and their supporters emphasize this “because there is something about their behavior that is suspect.”

 

Fr. Weinandy said that defenders of such politicians say that receiving Communion is a sign of “devoutness” despite the contradictions between professed Catholicism and promoting abortion, same-sex relation ships or other causes.

 

“Ironically, such Catholic politicians do the very thing that no truly devout Catholic would ever do,” he said. “The very ‘devout’ action they perform, that of receiving Holy Communion, is an enacted declaration that they lack authentic Catholic devotion.”

 

Fr. Weinandy added “no one is fooled by this charade, except maybe the self-deluded politician.” 

 

“Faithful Catholics know that there is an irreconcilable disconnect between what is being held by such Catholic politicians and their receiving Communion.  And they see that it’s the dissenting Catholic politician who is politicizing the Eucharist,” he said.

 

He suggested that politicians seek to benefit from being religious and also by “holding and promoting non-Catholic policies.”

 

“Of course, these stances are contradictory, but then politicians are not known for consistency,” said Fr. Weinandy.

 

He acknowledged that for a Catholic leader who promotes matters contrary to the Catholic faith, there may still be a deep and inerasable belief in Christ and the Catholic Church.

 

“Thus, one claims to be a devout Catholic and receives Communion in the hope that, somehow, someday, it will all work out. This comes dangerously close to a sentimental ‘Catholic’ superstition – which is the most charitable interpretation of why dissident Catholic politicians insist on receiving Holy Communion,” said Weinandy.

 

He encouraged Catholics to pray for the conversions of Catholic politicians and also for God’s protection of his Church.

 

Fr. Weinandy also summarized an exchange between Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver and Blase Cardinal Cupich of Chicago. Archbishop Aquila, writing in America Magazine last month, said that those who receive Holy Communion, including politicians, must adhere to Catholic doctrinal and moral teaching. Otherwise, they would go against St. Paul’s words in  1 Corinthians that whoever eats and drinks unworthily will be “guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord'' and bring “judgment upon himself.”

 

For his part, Cardinal Cupich suggested that Archbishop Aquila’s essay violated Catholic sacramental principles like the idea that the sacraments are based on the power of God, and cannot be diminished by either the celebrant or recipient. Archbishop Aquila, citing authorities like St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, responded in Catholic World Report that the benefit of the sacrament of the Eucharist depends on the subjective disposition of the person receiving it.


Fr. Weinandy said Cardinal Cupich’s critique was “in no way relevant to what Archbishop Aquila wrote” but allowed Archbishop Aquila to clarify any ambiguity and “develop his point even more strongly.”

 

Fr. Weinandy previously served as executive director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Doctrine. He resigned his position as a consultant to the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine in 2017 after he published a letter to Pope Francis asking him to correct the “chronic fusion” of his pontificate, which Fr. Weinandy said “fosters within the faithful a growing unease.”

 

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco and Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix have both issued recent documents that discuss the importance of the worthy reception of Holy Communion.

Bishop McElroy of San Diego wrote an essay in America Magazine arguing that refusing Holy Communion to pro-abortion rights politicians is an act that politicizes the Eucharist.

NARAL head brags about helping remove pro-life LifeSiteNews from Facebook

Jirapong Manustrong/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., May 7, 2021 / 13:10 pm (CNA).

The head of a national abortion advocacy group on Friday claimed that the group worked to have the pro-life group LifeSiteNews banned permanently from Facebook.

Ilyse Hogue, president of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), stated on Twitter on Friday afternoon that her group worked with pro-LGBT groups to document “COVID disinformation” by LifeSiteNews and to share it with the social media platform Facebook.

Hogue said her group worked with the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD, along with the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters for America.

On May 4, Facebook permanently banned the outlet LifeSiteNews from its platform, Media Matters reported, for violating its policies on COVID-19 and vaccines.

“Big news: Facebook deplatformed LifeSiteNews this week for gross distribution of COVID disinformation,” Hogue tweeted. “This didn't happen because of their good will. @NARAL @mmfa @HRC @glaad worked to document these transgressions and share them with Facebook.”

Neither Facebook nor NARAL immediately responded to a request for comment by CNA.

In a joint statement on Friday, Media Matters, GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, and NARAL said they compiled “more than 100 posts” by LifeSite that allegedly violated Facebook’s policies on COVID-19 and vaccine disinformation.

They decried “hate speech” by LifeSite on issues of life and sexuality.

“Despite Facebook’s community standards and hate speech policy that supposedly protect LGBTQ people and others against the flagrant spread of misinformation, LifeSiteNews has relied on Facebook to push its noxious anti-LGBTQ and anti-choice extremism to an audience of millions,” the groups stated.

Hogue said on Friday that “we'll take the win” for LifeSite’s removal from Facebook, and called on other platforms to ban LifeSite for “some of the most toxic disinformation out there.”

She added that Facebook should have deplatformed LifeSite for other content, such as “white supremacist content, anti-LGBTQ content, and a boatload of abortion disinformation, all of which has led to immeasurable damage in people's lives.”

LifeSiteNews is not an officially Catholic publication. It grew out of the Canada-based Campaign Life Coalition and now has separate organizations in the U.S. and Canada.

LifeSiteNews has already been removed from the platforms Twitter and YouTube. It was banned from Twitter for reporting that a Canadian transgender activist was biologically male but identified as a woman.

Google, the owner of YouTube, said it removed LifeSite for violating its COVID-19 misinformation policy, including for “content that promotes prevention methods that contradict local health authorities or WHO.” The group’s channel had reached more than 300,000 subscribers, with an average of over 50,000 views on its main show and more than 2 million viewers on some shows.

On its COVID-19 and vaccines policy page, Facebook states, “We remove claims that deny the existence of the disease or undermine the severity of COVID-19.” It also says it removes “false claims about how and where COVID-19 can be transmitted and who can be infected.”

Facebook states that “Pages, Groups, and Instagram accounts may be removed if they have shared content that violates our COVID-19 and vaccine policies and are also dedicated to sharing other vaccine discouraging information on the platform.”

LifeSiteNews has previously published opinion and commentary that has questioned the gravity of the pandemic and the morality of COVID-19 vaccines.

In December, LifeSiteNews said YouTube deleted its video “in which a prominent Canadian physician protested the ‘unfounded public hysteria’ over COVID-19.”

A Dec. 2 factcheck by the Associated Press said that Hodkinson, the “physician” in the video, was never chairman of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada Examination Committee in Pathology, as had been claimed.

In that video, Hodkinson claimed “masks were utterly useless,” with “no evidence” for their effectiveness. However, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended the use of masks, citing multiple studies.

Phoenix bishop warns of ‘deadly apathy’ of silence on pro-abortion Catholic politicians

Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix celebrates Mass with members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Region XIII at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls on Feb. 12, 2020, during their ad limina visit / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Denver, Colo., May 7, 2021 / 12:10 pm (CNA).

The bishop of Phoenix this week supported a recent letter from the archbishop of San Francisco stating that Catholics cooperating with abortion should not present themselves for Communion.

“Woe to us bishops if we do not speak clearly about the grave evil of abortion, and the consequences of any Catholic who participates in the act or publicly supports it by word or action,” Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix said in a May 6 statement. 

He responded to a May 1 letter by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco on “the Human Dignity of the Unborn, Holy Communion, and Catholics in Public Life.” Olmsted called it “a powerful defense of the Church’s teaching on the dignity of all human life.”

Referring to bishops who do not clearly denounce the evil of abortion and of Catholics supporting it, Olmsted condemned “a false patience and pastoral concern that, year after year, stays silent or speaks in abstractions while the slaughter continues with the full endorsement of Catholic politicians under our spiritual care as bishops.”

The bishop warned that reluctance to speak out in such cases is a pastoral failure, rather than a charitable politeness.

“Such ‘patience’ is false because it is bereft of love and truth, and thus unmasks rather a deadly apathy towards one who professes the Catholic faith but whose public embrace of abortion puts his or her eternal soul at risk of damnation, and risks dragging untold numbers into hell by their example,” he said. 

Archbishop Cordileone wrote in a May 1 pastoral letter that any Catholic cooperating with the evil of abortion should refrain from receiving the Eucharist. In his letter, he included a section on Catholic public officials who advocate for abortion. 

“You are in a position to do something concrete and decisive to stop the killing,” Cordileone wrote, addressing those politicians. “Please stop the killing.”

“And please stop pretending that advocating for or practicing a grave moral evil – one that snuffs out an innocent human life, one that denies a fundamental human right – is somehow compatible with the Catholic faith. It is not. Please return home to the fullness of your Catholic faith,” he wrote.

The topic of Holy Communion for pro-abortion Catholic politicians has become especially relevant with the election of Joe Biden, the first Catholic U.S. president in six decades.

Biden has publicly advocated for protection of legal abortion, including the codification of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion nationwide. Biden has also supported taxpayer funding of elective abortions, and has taken action as president to allow for taxpayer funding of pro-abortion groups in the United States and abroad.

The bishops of the United States (USCCB) may address the topic of “Eucharistic coherence” at their spring meeting in June. However, if a document is presented on the matter, it will reportedly address the Church’s teaching on general worthiness to receive Communion, and will not be a specific push to deny Biden Communion.

A source close to the USCCB told CNA on April 29 that at the June meeting, the bishops’ doctrine committee might present a “broad document” on general worthiness for reception of Communion; alternatively, the bishops might wait until their fall meeting in November to vote to consider such a document.

In his own apostolic letter from early April, Olmsted wrote that Catholic teaching sees the Eucharist as Christ’s transformative sacrifice on the cross, and that Holy Communion must only be received worthily. The Church teaches that to receive Communion, baptized Catholics must not be conscious of having committed serious sin since their last confession.

This teaching is not “partisan,” Olmsted wrote, adding that it certainly applies to political leaders who back evils such as abortion and euthanasia. 

“Holy Communion is reserved for those, who with God’s grace make a sincere effort to live this union with Christ and His Church by adhering to all that the Catholic Church believes and proclaims to be revealed by God,” Bishop Olmsted wrote, explaining that Church teaching on this has “always been clear and based on Scripture.”

This is why the Church “requires Catholic leaders who have publicly supported gravely immoral laws such as abortion and euthanasia to refrain from receiving Holy Communion until they publicly repent and receive the Sacrament of Penance,” he said.

Olmsted recommended that all Catholics read Cordileone’s letter, as well as “all people of good will who desire to know why the Church cannot and will not change her traditional defense of motherhood and the most vulnerable in the womb.”

The bishop also recommended that the faithful read a recent article on the matter penned by Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila. 

“When the church minimizes the danger of an unworthy reception of the Eucharist, she fails to properly love those who continue to jeopardize their souls,” Archbishop Aquila wrote in his April 14 article published in America magazine. 

“Trading ‘civility’ and ‘engagement’ for eternal life is not a good trade, and it is especially negligent for me, as a bishop, to remain quiet when people I am called to love may be endangering their eternal souls. This is a danger to them and a danger to me,” he wrote.

Individual bishops have spoken and written on the topic of “Eucharistic coherence” in recent months. 

In March, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield in Illinois told a regional conference of the Canon Law Society of America that Catholics who publicly and obstinately advocate for abortion, including politicians, can and should be denied Communion under canon law.

“I'm talking about their external actions. If they're living in a way or holding positions that are contrary to church teaching, then the Minister of Communion has to deny them the sacrament,” Paprocki said.

During his homily at the Vigil Mass for Life in January, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas taught that Catholics should not receive Communion if they are contradicting “fundamental” Church teaching.

However, both Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C. and Bishop William Malooly of Wilmington, Delaware - Biden’s home diocese - have said in the past that they would not deny Communion to a politician who consistently works toward permissive abortion laws or policies. 

Msgr. William Koenig was chosen last month as the new bishop of Wilmington, with his episcopal ordination scheduled for July 13.

Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego also said at a February online dialogue that denying Communion to obstinately pro-abortion Catholic politicians would be interpreted as “a weaponization of the Eucharist.” He said that bishops teaching about “Eucharistic coherence” in the Biden presidency was not a “good idea.”

New EWTN documentary on Bl. Carlo Acutis available to watch for free

Bl. Carlo Acutis / carloacutis.com

Denver, Colo., May 7, 2021 / 11:00 am (CNA).

A new documentary about Blessed Carlo Acutis, the first millennial to be beatified by the Catholic Church, is available to watch for free this month.

“I Am With You,” an EWTN special documentary about Acutis’ life, is available to watch online throughout the entire month of May. Users who sign up for EWTN’s free on-demand program can also receive two free eBooks: 12 Stations of the Eucharist and 7 Lessons in Holiness from Blessed Carlo Acutis. 

Carlo, who was born in 1991 and grew up in Milan, had an aptitude for computer programming. This led him at age 12 to create a website chronicling Eucharistic miracles. The site is still active to this day. 

The Italian teenager, who also loved soccer and video games, spent time volunteering at a soup kitchen in Milan run by both the Capuchins and Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. People who knew him say had a great love for the poor, especially the homeless. 

Acutis, who died of leukemia in 2006, would have turned 30 this month. The young man offered up his suffering in his final days for the Pope and for the Church. 

Carlo was designated “Venerable” in 2018. Pope Francis beatified him in Assisi on Oct. 10, 2020.

The documentary on his life commences with extensive reflections on the Real Presence, and covers Acutis’ passionate devotion to the Eucharist that began during his childhood. The film features interviews with Carlo’s mother Antonia Salzano, as well as one of Carlo’s best friends, Mattia Pastorelli.

Antonia recalled her son fondly as her “little savior.” In the documentary, she talks about how Carlo was always a devout child despite not growing up in a devout family. 

Another interviewee, family friend Rajesh Moher, called Carlo his “spiritual master.” Rajesh’s friendship with Carlo led him, a former Hindu, to accept baptism in 1999. 

“I Am With You” contains many striking images of Assisi and the Basilica of St. Francis; Acutis was buried in Assisi, a place he loved dearly. 

After his death at age 15, his cause for canonization began in 2013. The documentary also includes information about the first miracle that took place through Carlo’s intercession in Brazil in 2013.

‘There is always the power of prayer’: Why this bishop prays daily for President Biden

Bishop Joseph Coffey / EWTN Pro-Life Weekly

Washington D.C., May 7, 2021 / 10:00 am (CNA).

One U.S. bishop has committed to pray daily for President Joe Biden, because of the president’s pro-abortion policies.

Bishop Joseph Coffey, auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Military Services, U.S.A., has pledged to pray daily for the president. He told EWTN Pro-Life Weekly why the matter is so important to him, in an interview that aired on Thursday night.

“What I would like to say to him, if I could,” Bishop Coffey said, “is that none of us are promised tomorrow. And each day could be the last day on earth, and he has such power as the most important, most powerful man in the world as president.”

“It’s very, very sad, because he said that he is personally opposed to abortion, but wouldn’t want to impose his values on others,” Coffey said of Biden. “Well that makes no sense.”

Biden, he added, has actually “imposed” pro-abortion policies through executive actions. In January, the president repealed the Mexico City Policy, allowing U.S. global health assistance to go to international pro-abortion groups. He also instructed his administration to begin reviewing the Protect Life Rule – the first step toward allowing federal funding of clinics that refer for abortions through the Title X program. The administration in April followed that order by proposing to repeal the pro-life rule.

“That’s exactly what he’s doing, he’s imposing his values on those orders,” Coffey said of Biden’s executive actions on funding pro-abortion groups.

“So for those two reasons, I am committed to praying for this president, that he would change those views,” he told EWTN Pro-Life Weekly.

He emphasized the power both of prayer and of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, in bringing about conversion.

“I always try to remember that whenever I’m preaching on a homily, that those who have had to make a terrible choice that they regret – there’s always redemption, healing, through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, confession. I always stress that,” he said. “And there is always the power of prayer for conversion.”

Bishop Coffey is also episcopal vicar for veterans’ affairs at the archdiocese, and a decorated Navy captain. He told EWTN Pro-Life Weekly that the pro-life cause was close to his heart “for many, many years.”

Coffey said he was 12 years old and one of nine children when the Supreme Court in 1973 struck down state abortion bans in its Roe v. Wade decision, legalizing abortion throughout the United States. His father talked about the issue at the family dinner table the night of the ruling. “That’s when I committed to being a pro-lifer,” Coffey recalled.

He was involved with the group Operation Rescue for years. In 2020, Coffey told the National Catholic Register “We were always peaceful and nonviolent,” adding that he would sit in front of abortion clinics to give sidewalk counselors a chance to reach women as they tried to access the clinic. He was arrested “in about a dozen cities,” he said of his time in Operation Rescue – including one arrest with his mother and several siblings on Good Friday in 1989.

Ordained a priest 25 years ago, Coffey said he prays first for the Holy Father and then the president, at the Prayer of the Faithful during Sunday Mass.

“Throughout various administrations, Republican and Democrat, I have committed to pray for our president every Sunday,” he said. “So I am ramping that up now to pray especially every day for this president, for his conversion, so that he will be more pro-life.”

Biden is just the second Catholic president in U.S. history. While he has taken positions contrary to Church teaching on life and sexuality, the president is still Catholic, Coffey maintained – which makes his positions all the more “tragic.”

“I think we all hear sometimes ‘he’s no Catholic.’ Well he is. Everyone who is baptized is Catholic,” Coffey said. “That’s why this is so tragic, and that’s why I am asking all Catholics to pray for him, really, every day.”

Biden's National Day of Prayer proclamation lacks mention of God

President Biden addresses the 2021 National Prayer Breakfast . Credit: National Prayer Breakfast

Washington D.C., May 6, 2021 / 23:01 pm (CNA).

US President Joe Biden issued on Wednesday the annual proclamation of a National Day of Prayer, without mentioning any deity in it.

The May 5 statement says that "throughout our history, Americans of many religions and belief systems have turned to prayer for strength, hope, and guidance. Prayer has nourished countless souls and powered moral movements — including essential fights against racial injustice, child labor, and infringement on the rights of disabled Americans."

This year the National Day of Prayer is observed May 6.

In the proclamation Biden wrote that "today, we remember and celebrate the role that the healing balm of prayer can play in our lives and in the life of our Nation. As we continue to confront the crises and challenges of our time — from a deadly pandemic, to the loss of lives and livelihoods in its wake, to a reckoning on racial justice, to the existential threat of climate change — Americans of faith can call upon the power of prayer to provide hope and uplift us for the work ahead."

"On this National Day of Prayer,” his statement continued, “we unite with purpose and resolve, and recommit ourselves to the core freedoms that helped define and guide our Nation from its earliest days. We celebrate our incredible good fortune that, as Americans, we can exercise our convictions freely — no matter our faith or beliefs. Let us find in our prayers, however they are delivered, the determination to overcome adversity, rise above our differences, and come together as one Nation to meet this moment in history."

The National Day of Prayer was designated by Congress in 1952, and scheduled in 1988 to be observed annually on the first Thursday in May.

Biden's proclamation, which also invites "citizens of our Nation to give thanks, in accordance with their own faiths and consciences, for our many freedoms and blessings, and I join all people of faith in prayers for spiritual guidance, mercy, and protection” is the first in memory to exclude any reference to the name of God or the concept of a deity, excepting a reference to the year of our Lord 2021.

Baton Rouge diocese to celebrate 60th anniversary by celebrating St Joseph

St. Joseph with the Infant Jesus, by Guido Reni. / Public Domain

Baton Rouge, La., May 6, 2021 / 22:01 pm (CNA).

The Diocese of Baton Rouge plans to celebrate the Year of St. Joseph in conjunction with its 60th anniversary. 

The diocese, which has St. Joseph as its patron, announced that it will celebrate “60 Years in the Year of St. Joseph” starting May 1, 2021 and going until March 19, 2022. 

“St. Joseph has played a prominent role in our diocese since its inception in 1961, and as we began planning for the 60th anniversary celebration this year, it seemed only natural to celebrate not only the rich history of our diocese but its beloved patron,” Bishop Michael Duca said May 4. 

Pope Francis in December 2020 announced a Year of St. Joseph, concluding Dec. 8, 2021, in honor of the 150th anniversary of the saint’s proclamation as patron of the universal Church.

Bishop Duca said a planning committee will be arranging various liturgical celebrations throughout the year for the faithful of the Baton Rouge diocese to take part in. The bishop says the goal is to support Pope Francis’ desire for “the faithful across the world to rediscover St. Joseph and imitate his life of heroic virtue.”

The diocesan committee is working to create prayer cards, coloring books, videos and a diocesan-wide pilgrimage guide, in the hopes of creating “opportunities for the lay faithful to learn more about the history of the local church while also celebrating its patron.”

The history of Catholicism in Baton Rouge goes back nearly 300 years. French missionaries brought Catholicism to the area, celebrating the first Mass in Baton Rouge in 1722 on the site of what would become the Louisiana capitol building. 

The Diocese of New Orleans was established in 1793, and in 1961, St. John XXIII established the Diocese of Baton Rouge, taking territory from the New Orleans diocese. The pope named St. Joseph Church as the diocese’s cathedral. 

Then-Bishop Alfred Hughes declared St. Joseph the patron of the Baton Rouge diocese in the 1990s.

Catholic bioethicist laments HHS removal of restrictions on fetal tissue research

Sign outside National Institute of Health, Department for Health and human Services, Washington DC. Via Shutterstock

Washington D.C., May 6, 2021 / 21:01 pm (CNA).

A Catholic bioethicist has repeated his objection to the Biden administration’s decision that the National Institutes of Health no longer needs an ethics board’s approval before awarding funding to researchers who will use fetal tissue obtained from elective abortions.


“The current administration offers the pretense of acting ethically when they stress that the requirement for obtaining consent still stands, meaningless as it is, even as they adroitly eliminate any substantive ethical review by outside entities,” Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk, director of education at the National Catholic Bioethics Center, told CNA.


The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases announced May 5 the elimination of the requirement for approval by an ethics advisory board for research proposing use of human fetal tissue from abortion.


The announcement is an official notice to researchers who are looking for grants in the area of human fetal tissue projects.


“Even when the mother of an aborted child signs the dotted line granting permission to utilize fetal cells and organs, that consent is necessarily void,” Fr. Pacholczyk told CNA. “The mother has disqualified herself from being able to give valid informed consent because she has already renounced her child's best interests by arranging to end her baby's life through abortion.”


The announcement highlights an April 16 reversal of the Trump administration’s requirement that an ethics advisory board must review and approve all research grant applications and contract proposals that include the use of fetal tissue used from abortion in order to get funding from the NIH. 


“Effective immediately, HHS no longer requires review and approval by an ethics advisory board for research proposing use of human fetal tissue,” the announcement said. “Accordingly, HHS will no longer convene the NIH Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board.”


Fr Pacholczyk told CNA: “This pro-abortion administration is operating in a very troubling moral vacuum, eager to bypass even the most basic ethical standards that should govern taxpayer-funded biomedical research. The foxes are seeking complete control of the henhouse.”


The priest, a former member of the fetal tissue advisory board, recently told the National Catholic Register that “The decision to reinstate NIH support for research involving fetal tissue from abortions reveals a kind of moral vacuum in the world of scientific research.”


Fr. Pacholczyk lauded the ethics board’s previous work in his interview with the Register: “The board acted with moral clarity and ethical resolve as it carried out its mandate.” 


“Very regrettably, the current administration is jettisoning serious ethical review to safeguard abortion and to assure the continued exploitation of vulnerable unborn Americans. Outside ethical review is essential,” he said.


The board had voted to withhold federal funding from 13 fetal tissue research proposals, and permitted funding for one.


In Dignitas personae, its 2008 instruction on certain bioethical questions, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said that researchers have a duty to refuse to use biological material of illicit origin, a duty which “springs from the necessity to remove oneself, within the area of one’s own research, from a gravely unjust legal situation and to affirm with clarity the value of human life.”

State Department allowing U.S. embassies to fly LGBT 'Pride' flags

U.S. embassy in Moscow displays LGBT "Pride" flag. Embassies will be allowed to fly the rainbow flag on the same flagpole as the U.S. flag. / hodim/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., May 6, 2021 / 20:00 pm (CNA).

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is allowing U.S. diplomatic posts around the world to fly the LGBT “Pride” flag on the same flagpole as the U.S. flag during “Pride season.”

In a cable first reported by Foreign Policy magazine on April 22, Blinken granted U.S. diplomatic outposts “blanket written authorization ... to display the Pride flag on the external-facing flagpole, for the duration of the 2021 Pride season.”

The authorization was given to fly the flag before May 17, which is observed as the international day against homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia, Foreign Policy reported. June, during which embassies can also fly the “Pride” flag on the external flagpole, is celebrated as “Pride” month by people identifying as LGBT.

In 2019, U.S. embassies were reportedly prohibited from flying the “Pride” flag on embassy flagpoles, and had to obtain permission to do so. They were allowed to display the flag inside buildings. In his confirmation hearing in January, Blinken had promised to change that policy.

Earlier this week, the White House said that President Joe Biden has used “the bully pulpit” to promote “transgender rights.”

At last week’s address to a joint session of Congress, President Biden had told “transgender Americans” that “your President has your back.” When on May 4 asked how Biden might act on that promise in the future, White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded that he has already acted on it.

“He's also used the power of the bully pulpit in his presidency to convey that transgender rights are human rights,” Psaki said, noting that Biden also “has signed executive orders.”

In January, Biden signed an executive order interpreting sex discrimination to include sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. He said his administration’s “policy” would be to extend federal civil rights protections to these two classes.

Legal experts said the order was far-reaching and would affect the privacy of single-sex spaces such as women’s locker rooms and shelters, and could result in legal action against religious Americans who oppose the redefinition of marriage and transgender ideology.

Psaki added that Biden “expects” this policy in his order to be put into practice by his administration, “ensuring that transgender youth have the opportunity to play sports, and to be treated equally in states across the country.”

Blinken’s cable on “Pride” flags also advised diplomatic posts in certain countries to avoid flying the rainbow flag if doing so would create a backlash.

“Posts should support efforts to repeal [criminalization] legislation, while ensuring that ‘do no harm’ remains our overarching principle so U.S. efforts do not inadvertently result in backlash or further marginalization of the LGBTQI+ community,” the cable read.

At his confirmation hearing in January, Blinken also said that appointing a top diplomatic official on LGBT issues, the LGBTI Special Envoy, is “a matter, I think, of some real urgency.” The position currently remains vacant.

On May 4, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Biden’s picks for ambassador roles should represent the whole country, including people identifying as LGBTQ.

She noted that “the President looks to ensuring that the people representing him -- not just in the United States, but around the world -- represent the diversity of the country, and that certainly includes people who are LGBTQ, members of the transgender community.”