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Pope Francis appoints Brazilian native as Boston’s new auxiliary bishop  

Father Cristiano G. Borro Barbosa , 47, was appointed by Pope Francis as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Boston on Dec. 9, 2023. / Credit: Archdiocese of Boston

CNA Staff, Dec 9, 2023 / 10:26 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has appointed a priest born and ordained in Brazil to serve as the next auxiliary bishop of Boston, the Vatican announced on Saturday. 

Father Cristiano G. Borro Barbosa, 47, will join Cardinal Seán O’Malley and four other auxiliaries as bishops of the archdiocese, a territory that includes nearly 1.8 million Catholics. 

The Boston metropolitan area is also home to a significant Brazilian population — nearly 64,000 people, according to census figures from 2014. Barbosa was chaplain of the archdiocese’s Brazilian-Portuguese community from 2008–2019. 

Currently, Barbosa is the episcopal vicar of the archdiocese’s central region and also serves as the archdiocesan secretary for evangelization and catechesis, roles he will continue in following his episcopal ordination. 

O’Malley cited Barbosa’s experience with the local Brazilian community as well as his theological background and extensive parish experience as factors in the pope’s appointment. 

“I am grateful to our Holy Father Pope Francis for blessing this archdiocese with the appointment of Bishop-elect Barbosa,” O’Malley said in a Dec. 9 statement provided by the Archdiocese of Boston. “He offers a shepherd’s heart and a wide range of experiences that have prepared him for this new role in the life of the Church.” 

In the same statement, Barbosa said he was “humbled” by the “great confidence” shown by the Holy Father in naming him an auxiliary bishop. He also said that he is “happy if I can serve in love God and his people” and described the role of Church ministers as promoting “unity and peace.” 

“I want to thank Cardinal Seán for his confidence and for his great love for the archdiocese and its people in all its cultural diversity,” Barbosa said. 

Barbosa was born in Adamantina in the Diocese of Maríla, Brazil, on Oct. 11, 1976. He received his education in Brazil, including a master’s degree in psychology, and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Bauru on Dec. 22, 2007. 

The Brazilian native has served at parishes in Cambridge and Lowell. He earned a licentiate and doctorate in theology from Boston College and was a faculty member at the Pope John XIII National Seminary in Weston and St. John Seminary in Brighton from 2020 until earlier this year. Barbosa was incardinated into the archdiocese in 2021. 

According to the archdiocese, Barbosa speaks Spanish in addition to English and Portuguese. Pope Francis has also assigned him to the titular see of Membressa. 

Report: Interstate travel for abortion doubled from 2020 to 2023

A pro-life woman kneels in prayer in front of the EMW Women's Surgical Center, an abortion clinic, in Louisville, Kentucky, on May 8, 2021. / Credit: Jon Cherry/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Dec 9, 2023 / 09:00 am (CNA).

More people are traveling outside of their state to receive an abortion after more than 20 states enacted pro-life legislation amid the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, new data from the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute found. 

The percentage of women traveling interstate to receive an abortion nearly doubled in the first six months of 2023 compared with 2020, according to estimates in the report. It estimates that the number of out-of-state abortions jumped from about 9% of all abortions to about 17% of all abortions. The total number of women receiving out-of-state abortions more than doubled from fewer than 41,000 to more than 90,000. 

According to the report, the states with the highest uptick in out-of-state abortion seekers are bordering states that enacted new restrictions on abortion. This includes Florida, which has fewer restrictions than its neighbors Georgia and Alabama; New Mexico, which has fewer restrictions than neighbors Arizona, Texas, and Oklahoma; and Kansas, which has fewer restrictions than all of its neighbors, apart from Colorado. 

“We knew that more people have been traveling across state lines for abortion since the end of Roe, but these findings are stunning nonetheless and powerfully illustrate just how disruptive the overturning of Roe has been for tens of thousands of abortion patients,” Guttmacher Institute Data Scientist Isaac Maddow-Zimet said in a statement. 

“Where people are traveling to get care is an important piece of the puzzle in untangling the post-Dobbs abortion landscape,” Maddow-Zimet, who led the project to produce the report, added. “We hope that this data can prove useful to providers, advocates, and policymakers who have been working tirelessly to improve access to abortion in the face of unprecedented challenges.” 

Tessa Longbons, a senior research associate at the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute, told CNA that the report’s findings are “tragic, but unsurprising.” 

“After the Dobbs decision, we’ve seen pro-abortion states become even more extreme in their marketing of abortion to women in pro-life states,” Longbons said. “Women deserve to know that there is a network of nearly 3,000 pregnancy centers across the country providing millions of dollars’ worth of services and resources for pregnant women in need. Rather than pushing abortion on demand, states should offer women and their babies real support and comprehensive care.”

The Guttmacher Institute produced these estimates from data samples they received from organizations that perform abortions.

In spite of the increase in out-of-state abortions, pro-life activists have noted that a recent increase in live births nationally shows that pro-life laws are having a positive effect in saving preborn children from abortions.

“Despite the efforts of pro-abortion states, the Institute of Labor Economics recently estimated that states with pro-life laws will welcome approximately 32,000 more babies annually,” Longbons said.

Christmas 2023: A Catholic gift guide for the little ones on your shopping list

null / Credit: New Africa/Shutterstock

CNA Staff, Dec 9, 2023 / 07:00 am (CNA).

With Christmas quickly approaching, it’s time to find gifts for the little ones on your shopping list. Faith-based toys and gifts are quickly becoming more and more popular among Catholic families who wish to instill a love of the faith in their children starting from a young age.

We’ve compiled a list of small Catholic companies that offer a variety of faith-based items for young children on your Christmas list. Many of these offer gifts for older children and adults as well.

The Nativity Wooden Puzzle from Be A Heart. Credit: Be A Heart
The Nativity Wooden Puzzle from Be A Heart. Credit: Be A Heart

Be a Heart

Striving to offer “hope to the hopeless and bring light into the shadows,” Be a Heart designs products for all stages of life. The company started as a simple blog, but Erica Campbell, the company’s founder, says she felt called to design her own products.

Be a Heart offers a wide range of gifts for babies and kids including swaddles, pajamas, dolls, bibs, placemats, and more. The Nativity Wooden Puzzle is a perfect gift for a child who is learning his or her shapes. There are 14 wooden pieces that are thick enough that they can also stand on their own for multiple ways to play.

A little girl holds several of the plush saint Shining Light Dolls. Credit: Shining Light Dolls
A little girl holds several of the plush saint Shining Light Dolls. Credit: Shining Light Dolls

Shining Light Dolls

Shining Light Dolls was created to teach children Catholicism through proven play-based learning. One of the company’s most popular items are the plush dolls of several saints including St. Joseph, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Francis of Assisi, the archangels, St. Joan of Arc, and many more. These are the perfect gift for any boy or girl who loves to cuddle up with their favorite plush toy. The Catholic company also has books, puzzles, and wooden playsets. 

Theotokos Kids

Husband and wife Allan and Veronica Caballero created Theotokos Kids to help parents in their mission of being primary educators of the faith for their children. Their company offers children’s books on the lives of the saints as well as introductions to prayer, heaven, the Eucharist, and God’s love for us. Plus, Theotokos Kids offers books in Spanish for any bilingual families seeking faith-based items in Spanish. The available books tell the story of Blessed Carlo Acutis, Our Lady of Fátima, and St. Gianna Beretta Molla, among others. 

The Little Flower silicone rosary from Chews Life. Credit: Francesca Pollio Fenton/CNA
The Little Flower silicone rosary from Chews Life. Credit: Francesca Pollio Fenton/CNA

Chews Life

Do you know someone who has a little one on the way or who has just given birth? The Chews Life silicone rosary teethers are the perfect gift. Inspired by St. Padre Pio’s words “The rosary is the weapon for these times,” Chews Life strives to equip even the youngest of Catholics with a rosary. Each silicone rosary is made with high-quality components, lab tested for safety, and CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) certified. 

The "quiet books" from The Little Rose Shop. Credit: The Little Rose Shop
The "quiet books" from The Little Rose Shop. Credit: The Little Rose Shop

The Little Rose Shop

The “quiet books” from The Little Rose Shop introduce kids to the fundamentals of the Catholic faith in a captivating and interactive way. Through the flipping and pulling of moveable objects, children uncover hidden truths of the faith. There are three quiet books to choose from: “Where Is Jesus Quiet Book,” “Catholic Mass Quiet Book,” and “Rosary Quiet Book.” These are sure to keep little ones quietly entertained while fostering a deeper connection with the faith.

The rosary poppers which help kids to keep their place while praying the rosary from Gather and Pray. Gather and Pray
The rosary poppers which help kids to keep their place while praying the rosary from Gather and Pray. Gather and Pray

Gather and Pray

Inspired by the desire to pray the rosary as a family, Gather and Pray offers tools to aid families trying to pray together as a family with little ones. A rosary popper helps kids to keep their place while praying the rosary. Plus, the popper has the mysteries of the rosary printed directly on it. Gather and Pray also has decade rosary pop-it keychains, a wooden rosary board, the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary pop-its, the sacraments pop-its, and much more.

The Catholic Mass felt book. Credit: Brick House in the City
The Catholic Mass felt book. Credit: Brick House in the City

Brick House in the City

A new item from Brick House in the City is bound to keep little ones entertained during Mass while still learning about the faith. The Catholic Mass Felt Book Kit includes 18 pieces that represent a part of the Mass. The compact and portable felt book has plenty of space for kids to place the items on. Some of the pieces you will find are a cross, candle, chalice, Bible, monstrance, Eucharist hosts, tabernacle, altar, stained-glass window, and more.

House announces new probe of Harvard, MIT, and UPenn

Rep. Virginia Foxx speaking on EWTN Pro-Life Weekly, May 30, 2019. / Credit: EWTN Pro-Life Weekly

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Dec 8, 2023 / 18:30 pm (CNA).

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce announced the launch of a formal investigation into the learning environments at Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the University of Pennsylvania after the universities’ presidents refused to categorically condemn antisemitic calls for genocide at a congressional hearing earlier this week.

Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-North Carolina, who chairs the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, told CNA that the investigation was being launched because of committee members’ “deep concerns” about the schools’ leadership and “their failure to take steps to provide Jewish students the safe learning environment they are due under law.” 

“The testimony we received earlier this week from Presidents [Claudine] Gay, [Liz] Magill, and [Sally] Kornbluth about the responses of Harvard, UPenn, and MIT to the rampant antisemitism displayed on their campuses by students and faculty was absolutely unacceptable,” said Foxx, who is Catholic.

Though the presidents of Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania have since published statements walking back their congressional testimony, Foxx said that their statements in the House, and those of MIT president Kornbluth, evidence a dangerous learning environment for Jewish students. 

Despite their reversals, there are growing calls for the ouster of each university president, according to reporting by The Hill. Per Reuters, more than 70 U.S. lawmakers are currently demanding the three universities immediately remove their presidents.

“Given those institutional and personal failures, the committee is opening a formal investigation into the learning environments at Harvard, UPenn, and MIT and their policies and disciplinary procedures,” Foxx told CNA. 

The veteran congresswoman explained that the committee’s investigation will include “substantial document requests,” and she said that the committee will “not hesitate to utilize compulsory measures including subpoenas if a full response is not immediately forthcoming.”

Foxx also said that Harvard, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania will not be the only universities that will be investigated. 

‘Other universities should expect investigations as well’

“The disgusting targeting and harassment of Jewish students is not limited to these institutions, and other universities should expect investigations as well, as their litany of similar failures has not gone unnoticed,” she emphasized. 

The probe comes after a dramatic rise in antisemitic hate speech and rallies in the U.S. in the wake of Israel’s war with the terrorist group Hamas. Universities in particular have recently become hotbeds for antisemitic and anti-Israel sentiment that have included chants for the destruction of Israel and the removal of the Jewish people from the Holy Land. 

The university presidents’ statements that ultimately led to the investigation were given during a Tuesday hearing by the Education and Workforce Committee in which New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik, also a Catholic, asked the school officials if they would unequivocally condemn calls for the genocide of Jews on their campuses.

In one exchange, University of Pennsylvania president Magill was asked if statements calling for the genocide of Jews constitute harassment on her campus, to which she replied that “it is a context-dependent decision” and “if the speech becomes conduct it can be harassment, yes.”

Magill also said that calls for the genocide of Jews “can be harassment” and “if it is directed and severe and pervasive it is harassment.” 

Magill’s comments caused significant outrage in response, with one major donor threatening to pull a $100 million donation from the school unless there is “a change in leadership and values at Penn in the very near future,” according to reporting by CBS News

Comments by Harvard president Gay and MIT president Kornbluth also caused outrage. 

Responding to whether calls for “global intifada,” which implies the elimination of the Jewish people worldwide, is allowed at Harvard, Gay said that though she finds that type of speech “personally abhorrent,” the school “embrace[s] a commitment to free expression, even of views that are objectionable, offensive, hateful. It’s when that speech crosses into conduct that violates our policies against bullying, harassment, and intimidation.”

Kornbluth for her part said that calls for the genocide of Jews only constitute harassment at MIT “if targeted at individuals” but “not if making public statements.” 

Kornbluth also said that calls for intifada “can be antisemitic depending on the context when calling for the elimination of the Jewish people.” 

Kimberly Allen, a representative for MIT, responded to the investigation by telling CNA in a Friday statement that “MIT rejects antisemitism in all its forms.” 

“Antisemitism is real and rising in the world. We cannot let it poison our community. That is why MIT has stood up a campuswide initiative ‘Standing Against Hate’ to ensure that antisemitism has no place in our community,” Allen said.  

Regarding the congressional investigation being launched against MIT, Allen said that “as we continue to undertake this critical effort [to combat antisemitism], MIT will work with the committee to address its questions.”

Allen also shared a statement made by MIT’s governing board that said that Kornbluth “has done excellent work in leading our community, including in addressing antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of hate, which we reject utterly at MIT,” and that she “has our full and unreserved support.”

Washington archbishop addresses decision to limit Traditional Latin Mass

Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C. / Credit: Courtney Mares

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Dec 8, 2023 / 17:30 pm (CNA).

Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, D.C., explained his reasoning for limiting the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass in his archdiocese, saying that allowing the old form of the Mass is an “exception” and that the post-Vatican II Mass should be “the dominant rite.”

Gregory’s comments on the Traditional Latin Mass, also known as the Tridentine Mass, were given in response to a student’s question at The Catholic University of America’s Presidential Speaker Series on Thursday night. The Catholic student had asked how he could respond to his peers in “a loving and opening way” as to why the Traditional Latin Mass could not be offered on campus.

Gregory answered by saying that the Traditional Latin Mass is “not forbidden, but it’s limited.”

“When Pope Paul VI instituted the new ritual tradition, he made an exception for older priests … who, it would have been just too much for them, they had celebrated the Tridentine Mass for 60 years, he made an exception for them. But it was his desire, his intent, to say that when that generation goes that everyone will be in the new Mass.”

Though the celebration of the newer form of the Mass, which follows the 1970 Roman Missal, is the norm throughout the world; the Traditional Latin Mass, which follows the 1962 Roman Missal, is still celebrated by many members of the faithful. 

In July 2021, Pope Francis published the apostolic letter Traditionis Custodes, which established new guidelines for how the older form of the Mass could be celebrated. The Holy See then published additional guidelines in February that clarified that any dioceses wanting to grant parishes special dispensations to celebrate the old Mass needed the express approval of the Vatican to do so. The result of these instructions was a restriction on the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass throughout the world.

In line with Traditionis Custodes, Gregory published his own liturgical guidelines in July 2022 in which he reduced the number of parishes that could celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass to three. The three churches Gregory said are allowed to celebrate the old form of the Mass are St. John the Evangelist in Forest Glen, Maryland; the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in Washington, D.C.; and St. Dominic in Aquasco, Maryland.

Gregory pointed out that he allowed the Traditional Latin Mass to be celebrated without restriction in his former Diocese of Belleville, Illinois, and Archdiocese of Atlanta. His decision to restrict the Latin Mass did not come until the pope’s new guidance in Traditionis Custodes

Variances among dioceses

Bishops have taken differing approaches to implementing Traditionis Custodes in their various dioceses. Bishop Jeffrey Monforton, formerly of the Diocese of Steubenville, Ohio, made headlines when he stopped the Traditional Latin Mass from being celebrated on the campus of Franciscan University, keeping the old Mass available only at a parish in downtown Steubenville. Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, worked to preserve the celebration of the old form of the Mass in his diocese and vocally defended faithful who prefer to attend that Mass. 

Many dioceses continue to offer the Traditional Latin Mass or allow groups such as the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter to celebrate the old Mass. The Traditional Latin Mass remains available to the faithful in most parts of the country, though with limited Mass times. 

Gregory, who has been the head of the Archdiocese of Washington since 2019, said he believes that by restricting the Traditional Latin Mass, “the Holy Father is trying to complete what Paul VI began,” that is, establish “the new rite as the dominant rite, but with exceptions, modest exceptions.”

“Tradition dies a slow death, sometimes a bloody death,” Gregory added, pointing out that “two hundred years after Trent, there were still places that were celebrating the pre-Trenten Mass, so it took that long.”

As to why the new form of the Mass should be the dominant rite, Gregory said that it’s “because that’s the Church’s liturgy.” “If you want to belong to another ritual family, you can be Ruthenian, you can be Maronite, you can be Melkite, but the Roman rite has one dominant rite.”

Gregory also said the Church’s goal is to unite people around the new Mass over time by also restricting the number of priests who are allowed to celebrate the old Mass.

“Any priest that wishes to celebrate that has to write to the bishop and say I accept the liturgical reform, I’m not fighting the reform, but I’d like to be able to make myself available to celebrate under these conditions; that’s for priests who are already priests,” Gregory explained, adding that “anyone who is not yet ordained but would like to learn to celebrate [the old Mass] has to write to Rome.”

Gregory added that he believes the pope is “right to say ‘deal with the priests’” promoting the Traditional Latin Mass. 

“In many of the places where it grew, the Tridentine rite, it grew because priests promoted it,” Gregory said.

“In other words, if you had a guy that came into the parish and said, ‘Well I like this rite, I’m going to do it,’ and he gathered people together, and now all of a sudden he created the need in places where there wasn’t a need there.”

Monsignor Charles Pope, who serves as coordinator for the celebration of the Latin Mass in the Archdiocese of Washington, further clarified to CNA that any faithful wishing to worship through the older form of the Mass can still do so in the archdiocese.

“Here in the Archdiocese of Washington we remain committed to meeting the needs of Catholics attached to the old rite in the three locations,” Pope said, adding “that commitment remains something that we’ve abided by.”

He further emphasized that “these Masses will continue to be celebrated at these locations” to “meet the needs of the faithful.”

After pro-life loss in Ohio, Columbus bishop announces several initiatives to promote life

Columbus Bishop Earl Fernandes at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops plenary meeting in Baltimore in November 2023. / Credit: Joe Bukuras/CNA

CNA Staff, Dec 8, 2023 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

Following last month’s referendum in Ohio that enshrined a right to abortion in its constitution, Columbus Bishop Earl Fernandes announced several pro-life and spiritual initiatives that the prelate hopes will make abortion “unthinkable.”

The amendment to the constitution, for which a majority of Ohioans voted on Nov. 7, guarantees that “every individual has a right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions,” including, but not limited to, abortion.

“Outside the realm of politics, the true victory will come by winning hearts through our unconditional and relentless love for women and their children,” Fernandes said in a Dec. 7 letter to the faithful published in the diocesan newspaper. 

Fernandes encouraged Catholics to “a deeper life of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.”

In the letter, he encouraged clergy to “make a serious commitment” to offering an hour of Eucharistic adoration in parishes either on the first Friday of each month or the day before in reparation for “sins against human life and dignity.” The bishop urged adorers to pray “for the building of a civilization of love.”

Additionally, he encouraged the faithful to “resume the traditional practice” of abstinence from meat on Fridays, noting that there is already an obligation for Catholics to abstain from meat or replace it with some other penance every Friday of the year.

Fernandes said that abstinence from meat is a “form of Christian asceticism.”

“We can be intentional in our abstinence and penitential practices, mindful of unborn children, their mothers and fathers, and the men and women in the trenches working to support them,” he added.

Fernandes said that “what is demanded is not the external rule but a conversion of our mindset and our culture with the hope that we will be more mindful of the child in the womb.”

He noted that the bishops of England and Wales resumed the practice of abstinence from meat on Fridays in 2011 and it proved beneficial to both individuals’ health and the environment.

“If we abstained from meat on Fridays, we could also raise awareness of our need to care for our ‘common home,’” he said, a likely reference to Pope Francis’ letter on the environment, Laudato Si’, in which the Holy Father expressed a desire to “dialogue with all people about our common home.”

Fernandes added that almsgiving “could be tied” to abstinence from meat.

He said the need to support pro-life pregnancy centers “has never been greater” and that support for these institutions “demonstrates our commitment to the good of human life and the care of the least of our brothers and sisters.”

Another initiative Fernandes announced is the establishment of a new “Respect Life Office,” which will be dedicated to building a culture of life “in a sustainable and lasting way” and will include offering conferences for pro-life leaders and those working in health care. 

The diocese already has a Respect Life program that sponsors pro-life spiritual initiatives and holds an annual Diocesan Respect Life Conference. However, that program falls under the diocese’s Office for Social Concerns.

Fernandes also announced a summit of “Respect Life leaders” next year who will come together in collaboration and to determine present needs for diocesan response.

“The Church must also listen to women, particularly those who have experienced the pain of abortion and who need healing,” he said. “Beginning an apostolate like Project Rachel for healing and reconciliation can help remind people of the pope’s call for us to be a Church of mercy.”

Project Rachel is a Catholic ministry that ministers to women after abortion. The ministry provides sacramental and pastoral support, referrals to mental health professionals, and support groups, among other resources. 

He also said the diocese’s evangelization office “will seek out means to proclaim boldly the entirety of the Gospel message,” which includes “the Gospel of life.”

The Office of Catholic Schools, too, will continue its role in building a culture of life by promoting the integration of “the truths of our faith into all content areas,” he said.

“For example, in science classes, our students will come to a greater appreciation for the gift of human life at conception and the development of life as a gift in the image and likeness of God,” he said.

Finally, Fernandes said the diocese will organize a pilgrimage to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., in January that will engage young people with pro-life events and “form them as missionaries.”

He said students from “all” of the Catholic high schools in the diocese will participate. 

“God has called us to be a people of life,” Fernandes said, adding that building a culture of life will take “time and patience.”

“It will encounter resistance; nevertheless, we cannot abandon unborn children and their mothers. Law may refuse to recognize the dignity and right to life of the child in the womb, but we cannot be indifferent to the reality,” he said.

“When Mary visited Elizabeth, the child in her womb recognized the presence of the Savior and leaped for joy,” he said. “The Church wishes to acknowledge and defend the rights of the unborn child while accompanying mothers in their time of need and during what should be a joyful time of their lives. May we rise to meet our responsibility, grateful for the gift of life we have received.”

Notre Dame Cathedral expected to reopen one year from today

French President Emmanuel Macron, flanked by president of the public establishment "Rebuilding Notre-Dame de Paris" Philippe Jost (right) and and Archbishop of Paris Laurent Ulrich (left), visits the nave of the Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral during its reconstruction on Dec. 8, 2023. / Credit: SARAH MEYSSONNIER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

CNA Staff, Dec 8, 2023 / 15:00 pm (CNA).

One year from today, France’s Notre Dame Cathedral is expected to reopen after a fire in 2019 nearly destroyed the famous landmark. 

French President Emmanuel Macron, accompanied by Paris’ Archbishop Laurent Ulrich, visited the newly built spire on Friday, Dec. 8, and pledged that the reconstruction would be completed on schedule.

“Deadlines will be met. It is a formidable image of hope and of a France that has rebuilt itself,” Macron said. “This is an important and emotional moment.”

Speaking to restoration workers, he added: “We have seen this seemingly impossible project move forward.”

The historic spire, which stood 315 feet tall, crashed through the centuries-old roof in the devastating fire that broke out on April 15, 2019. After several years, the spire once again made its reappearance in the skyline last month.

The spire was not part of the original design of the cathedral. It was added during a restoration in the 19th century by architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc. Since the fire, the spire has been rebuilt identical to the original and its cross was mounted on Wednesday, Dec. 6. A new rooster will follow soon.

Nearly 500 workers are on site daily working to complete the reconstruction. Beginning in early 2024, they will start waterproofing the oak with lead. The cathedral’s furnishings, statues, and artwork, as well as the organ, which was taken out for a complete restoration, will be brought back in throughout the year. 

Macron also announced a contest for artists to design six new stained-glass windows for the nave’s south side chapels.

While renovation work on the exterior will continue for several more years, it is expected that Notre Dame will be able to welcome religious services and visitors on Dec. 8, 2024.

Pope Francis appoints three new auxiliary bishops for Philadelphia Archdiocese

Philadelphia Auxiliary Bishops-elect Keith Chylinski (left), Efren Esmilla, and Christopher Cooke. / Credit: Sarah Webb/Archdiocese of Philadelphia

CNA Staff, Dec 8, 2023 / 13:59 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis on Friday appointed three new auxiliary bishops for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, joining Archbishop Nelson Perez and current Auxiliary Bishop John McIntyre there.

The Vatican announced Dec. 8 that Fathers ​​Keith Chylinski, Christopher Cooke, and Efren Esmilla would be installed to serve the archdiocese’s approximately 1.5 million Catholics. The archdiocese lost two auxiliary bishops — Bishop Michael Fitzgerald to retirement and Bishop Timothy Senior to reappointment — during 2023. 

Father ​​Keith Chylinski

Father Keith Chylinski, a native of Schenectady, New York, attended Temple University and St. Charles Borromeo Seminary; he further received a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Divine Mercy University in Sterling, Virginia.

Ordained to the priesthood in the Philadelphia Archdiocese in 2007, he previously served as parochial vicar of St. Anselm’s in the city and since 2022 has served as the rector of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. 

The seminary’s website states that he has taught courses in pastoral psychology while there and was previously the director of counseling services. He has also served as an instructor for the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, Nebraska.

Father Christopher Cooke

Born in the Philadelphia suburb of Meadowbrook, Father Christopher Cooke received degrees from the University of Delaware and St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, the latter from which he earned both a master of divinity and a master of theology degree.

He was ordained a priest in the Philadelphia Archdiocese in 2006 and joined the St. Charles Borromeo faculty in 2013, where he currently serves as the dean of men for the Theology Seminary as well as on the theology formation team.

He previously served as the administrator of St. Francis of Assisi in Norristown, Pennsylvania, and as the parochial vicar at St. Martin of Tours in Philadelphia. Prior to becoming a priest he worked in chemical manufacturing design and support.

Father Efren V. Esmilla

A native of Nagcarlan, Laguna, Philippines, in the Diocese of San Pablo, Father Efren Esmilla attended San Beda College in Manila before emigrating to the United States. He obtained a master of divinity degree from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary and was ordained to the priesthood in Philadelphia in 1993. 

He previously served as parochial vicar at St. John Chrysostom in Wallingford, Pennsylvania, and at the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Philadelphia. He also held the position of assistant director of pastoral formation at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

Since 2021 he has served as pastor of St. James in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. The parish’s website says that Esmilla “has also served as chaplain to the Filipino Apostolate” as well as “spiritual director to the Legion of Mary.”

Bishop Strickland was advised to leave Tyler Diocese but can still say Mass there

Bishop Joseph Strickland. / Credit: Courtesy of the Diocese of Tyler

National Catholic Register, Dec 8, 2023 / 10:17 am (CNA).

Retired Bishop Joseph Strickland has been advised to leave his former Diocese of Tyler, Texas, but has not been told he can’t say Mass publicly there, he told the National Catholic Register, CNA’s EWTN News partner.

“I have received no such instruction,” Strickland said by text Thursday night, responding to a report that he has been barred from saying Mass in the diocese. 

Pope Francis removed Strickland, a critic of the pope, as head of the Diocese of Tyler in East Texas almost four weeks ago, on Nov. 11. The pope named Bishop Joe Vasquez, the bishop of nearby Austin, the temporary administrator of the Diocese of Tyler until a new bishop is appointed.

“Bishop Vasquez said it might be a good idea for me to leave the diocese; it was a suggestion,” Strickland told the Register.

Strickland, who is on retreat, referred further questions to Vasquez, saying: “He’s the one in charge.”

The Register contacted spokesmen for the Diocese of Tyler on Thursday night and for the Diocese of Austin early Friday, but as of this writing had not heard back. This story will be updated if the Register receives further comment.

On Thursday afternoon, LifeSite News reported that Strickland “has been barred from saying Mass in the Diocese of Tyler, Texas,” citing an unnamed source as saying that diocesan employees were told during a recent staff meeting “that while Strickland cannot offer Mass in the diocese, he may do so elsewhere.”

Strickland has frequently criticized Pope Francis, which many observers believe led to his ouster. He also delayed in implementing the pope’s restrictions on the Latin Mass.

In May, Strickland made a public statement saying he believes Pope Francis is the rightful pope, but adding: “… I reject his program of undermining the deposit of faith. Follow Jesus.”

In late June, the Vatican sent two other bishops to the Diocese of Tyler to investigate Strickland’s tenure there.

About four and a half months later, Strickland was removed, without public explanation. His current status is retired bishop without assignment, though at 65 he is 10 years younger than the canonical age for retiring.

Senior Vatican contributor Edward Pentin contributed to this story.

Texas judge’s ruling that woman can have abortion leaves hospitals liable to prosecution

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton warned Texas hospitals that despite a Dec. 7, 2023, court ruling that a woman could have a legal abortion, hospitals involved may be persecuted for violating the state's law. / Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Dec 7, 2023 / 17:50 pm (CNA).

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton warned three Houston-based hospitals that they are not immune from civil or criminal liability for violating the state’s abortion laws despite a court order that purports to allow a woman to receive an abortion.

Travis County District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble issued a temporary restraining order Thursday morning that prevents the state from taking legal action against an abortionist who intends to perform an abortion on a woman whose unborn child has a low likelihood of survival after birth. The order expires on Dec. 21, but a hearing to make the restraining order permanent is set for Dec. 20.

Although the temporary restraining order blocks the state from enforcing its abortion laws while it is in effect, Paxton warned that the state can enforce the law against the abortionist and the hospitals with which she is affiliated once it expires. 

In a letter, Paxton said the temporary restraining order “will expire long before the statute of limitations for violating Texas’ abortion laws expire,” which would allow the state to enforce its laws if a permanent restraining order does not hold up in court. 

“Your hospital may be liable for negligently credentialing the physician and failing to exercise appropriate professional judgment, among other potential regulatory and civil violations, if you permit [the doctor] to perform an unlawful abortion,” Paxton wrote. 

Paxton’s letter states that the court order will not shield the doctor, the hospital, or anyone else from civil or criminal liabilities, which could include first-degree felony prosecutions and fines of at least $100,000 for each violation. It adds that the order would also not prevent legal action brought by private citizens or the enforcement of Texas’ pre-Roe laws by a district or county attorney. 

The court order claims that the woman who is seeking an abortion qualifies for the medical exemption in Texas law, stating that her “life, health, and fertility are currently at serious risk” if she continues with the pregnancy. 

The order states that the doctor “reviewed [the woman’s] medical records and believes in good faith, exercising her best medical judgment, that [an] … abortion is medically recommended … and that the medical exception to Texas’ abortion bans and laws permit an abortion in [her] circumstances.”

However, Paxton said in his letter that the court’s reasoning is not based on “the legal standard” necessary to allow a medical exception for an abortion, which requires “reasonable medical judgment and a life-threatening physical condition.” He said the order fails to identify a specific life-threatening medical condition and does not explain “how the unidentified condition places [the woman] at risk of death or poses a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function unless the abortion is performed or induced.”

“The temporary ruling fails to show that [the doctor] meets all of the elements necessary to fall within an exception to Texas’ abortion laws,” Paxton said. “[The judge] is not medically qualified to make this determination and it should not be relied upon. A [temporary restraining order] is no substitute for a medical judgment.”

Texas prohibits most abortions in almost all circumstances, except when the life of the mother is at risk or the physical health of the mother is seriously threatened. The woman who is seeking an abortion is about 20 weeks pregnant with her third child. The unborn child was diagnosed with trisomy 18. Only about 5%-10% of babies born with this condition will live past their first birthday.