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Catholic News Agency

ACI Prensa's latest initiative is the Catholic News Agency (CNA), aimed at serving the English-speaking Catholic audience. ACI Prensa (www.aciprensa.com) is currently the largest provider of Catholic news in Spanish and Portuguese.
CNA
  1. European Court. / Elvira Koneva / Shutterstock.

    CNA Newsroom, Oct 4, 2022 / 08:53 am (CNA).

    The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday ruled that Belgium failed to conduct a proper investigation into the circumstances of the 2012 euthanasia of Godelieva de Troyer on the grounds of “untreatable depression.” 

    The court found there was a violation of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights that everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law. 

    The landmark euthanasia case was brought to the court in Strasbourg by Tom Mortier, de Troyer’s son. She died in 2012 after she had approached the country’s leading euthanasia advocate, who ultimately agreed to euthanize her despite being a cancer specialist.

    Before her death by euthanasia at age 64, neither her son nor any family member was consulted.

    The Court of Human Rights on Oct. 4 did not rule that there was any violation of Belgium’s legislative framework for the practice of euthanasia.

    The judgment was with regard to the way in which the facts surrounding de Troyer’s euthanasia were handled by Belgium’s Federal Commission for the Control and Evaluation of Euthanasia and the promptness of a criminal trial following de Troyer’s death.

    “Taking into account the crucial role played by the commission in the a posteriori control of euthanasia, the court considers that the control system established in the present case did not ensure its independence,” the ruling said.

    The court found that Belgium failed to fulfill its obligation under Article 2 of the convention both because of the lack of independence of the commission and due to lack of promptness of the criminal investigation.

    Over a period of just a few months, de Troyer had made a financial payment to a Belgian euthanasia advocate’s organization. He referred her to see other doctors who were also part of the same association, despite a requirement for independent opinions in the case of individuals not expected to die soon.

    The same doctor that euthanized her is also co-chair of the federal commission charged with approving euthanasia cases after the fact.

    The Court of Human Rights’ finding that there was no violation of Belgium’s legislative framework and no violation of Article 2 for the conditions of the euthanasia was decided in a 5-2 vote.

    “We welcome the court’s finding of an Article 2 violation, which demonstrates the inadequacy of ‘safeguards’ for the intentional ending of life,” the Christan legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF International) said in a statement Oct 4. “The decision counters the notion that there is a so-called ‘right to die’ and lays bare the horrors that inevitably unfold across society when euthanasia is made legal.”

    ADF International said that while the court ruled more “safeguarding” was an appropriate solution to protecting life, its own ruling made clear that laws and protocols were indeed insufficient to protect the rights of Mortier’s mother.

    “It is unfortunate that the court dismissed the challenge to the Belgian legal framework; however, the takeaway is that the ‘safeguards’ touted as offering protection to vulnerable people should trigger more caution toward euthanasia in Europe and the world,” said Robert Clarke, deputy director of ADF International, who represented Mortier before the court.

    “The reality is that there are no ‘safeguards’ that can mitigate the dangers of the practice once it is legal. Nothing can bring back Tom’s mother, but we hope this decision offers Tom some small measure of justice,” Clarke said.

    Countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands have been at the forefront of offering euthanasia and assisted suicide, and doctors who personally object to the practice must still refer patients.

    Vincent Kemme, the founder of the Belgian bioethics organization Biofides, told EWTN News in September that his organization has observed a shift in recent years, especially in the low countries of Europe, away from conscience protections for the medical profession.

    “In Europe and the United States, the introduction of relativism and moral subjectivism has completely changed the profession of the doctor,” Kemme said.

    Under Belgian law, euthanasia is permissible when a “medically futile condition of constant and unbearable physical or mental suffering” resulting from a severe and incurable disorder caused by illness or accident cannot be alleviated.

     

  2. Ordination of deacons of the Pontifical North American College Seminary in St. Peter's Basilica, Rome, on Sept. 29, 2022 / Evandro Inetti / CNA

    CNA Newsroom, Oct 4, 2022 / 07:03 am (CNA).

    “It is really an exciting time to become a saint,” Monsignor Thomas Powers, the new rector of the Pontifical North American College Seminary, told EWTN News ahead of the ordination of 23 deacons from his college on Sept. 29.

    “We know from history, from Church history in particular, that the saints were risen up in times of persecution, in difficult times, within and outside the Church,” Powers said. Speaking about the men who would be ordained, he praised their readiness “to step up and to be called to heroic virtue, and to become the saints that that we’re all called to be.”

    Monsignor Thomas W. Powers is the twenty-fourth rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome. EWTN Vatican
    Monsignor Thomas W. Powers is the twenty-fourth rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome. EWTN Vatican

    The 23 men from the North American College ordained to the Diaconate on Sept. 29 were joined for the ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica by over a thousand family members and friends. They prostrated themselves in front of the altar and dedicated their lives in service to God’s Church and to his people.

    Monsignor Powers hopes others will follow the same path as these men and become seminarians. “Pray that young men hear God’s voice and decide to become priests,” he said.

    According to a 2021 study from Georgetown University, enrollment in seminary programs has been quite steady in the last two decades. Still, Powers believes that the Church needs strong leadership now as much as ever. Speaking of his own students, he explained: “they’re about to embark on a life that’s very joyful. It’s fulfilling, it’s rewarding, but it’s also challenging, because we have challenges within the Church and outside of the Church.”

    He praised the faith of his students, saying, “I thank God on my knees every day for the men that are here, because they’re superb, wonderful, joyful men. They want to be good, holy priests, and they want to be formed well in their faith.” 

    Ordination of deacons of the Pontifical North American College Seminary in St. Peter's Basilica, Rome, on Sept. 29, 2022. Evandro Inetti / CNA
    Ordination of deacons of the Pontifical North American College Seminary in St. Peter's Basilica, Rome, on Sept. 29, 2022. Evandro Inetti / CNA

    This formation, Powers believes, is integral to the development of strong Catholic priests. He recounted his own experience studying in Rome, near the residence of the Holy Father and at the center of the Catholic Church. But the formation vital for his development as a priest was the fraternal formation he gained through friendship and community with his fellow seminarians.

    “For two years, we stayed here in Rome,” Powers recalled. “Maybe our families visited, maybe they did not. But, we really had to learn to develop a new relationship with Jesus Christ. Ties back home were cut, and we were formed as a men and as Christians who wanted to give our lives as priests,” Powers said. “I have wonderful friendships from my time here that continue to this day and I know the men being ordained today will say the same thing.”

    He spoke of the calling received by each priest and each diaconate candidate: “I think it’s amazing that God’s voice still gets through, that these men still hear God’s voice, and they respond generously, and give that that Marian ‘Yes’ to what God is asking them to do, despite our complicated society and the very difficult and challenging times inside and outside of the Church,” he said. 

    He said priests and seminarians “come from different backgrounds, experiences, family life, origins, and yet they all hear that same call. That’s an individual call from God, each one of them. And, so, it’s inspiring that they listen to that call.”

    Monsignor Powers hopes that watching the ordination of these men will inspire others to become seminarians. “It’s really all the Church asks,” he said, “that a young man leaves his heart open, just as I did and just as these men about to be ordained did. Leave your heart open to the possibility, and let God surprise you.”

     

  3. Father James Jackson, FSSP, appearing at a Nov. 15 arraignment before the Rhode Island District Court. / Joe Bukuras/CNA

    Providence, R.I., Oct 3, 2022 / 18:25 pm (CNA).

    Father James Jackson, a Rhode Island priest who was arrested in October on federal and state child pornography charges, admitted Monday in federal court that the government could prove that he violated certain conditions of his pre-trial release.

    The conditions of Jackson’s pretrial release were set in November 2021 before he was allowed to leave Rhode Island to reside with a family member in Kansas. He was arrested in July by the U.S. Marshals in Kansas. He is currently in the custody of the U.S. Marshals at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, Rhode Island. 

    In his Oct. 3 hearing in U.S. District Court in Providence, Jackson admitted that the government could prove that he violated the condition prohibiting him from “possessing any materials including videos, magazines, photographs, computer generated depictions or any other forms that depict sexually explicit conduct involving children,” according to James Rosenberg, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Rhode Island.

    John C. Calcagni III, Jackson’s lawyer, did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

    Jackson, wearing a brown prison uniform, also admitted that the government could prove that he violated the condition prohibiting him from having access to more than one internet-connected device, Rosenberg said. 

    In addition, Jackson admitted that the government could prove that he violated the condition requiring him to “notify his supervising probation officer of all computers or electronic data storage devices where he was residing and to report any additional acquisitions,” he added.

    “Additionally, he further admitted that the government could establish probable cause that he committed a new crime, to wit, possession of child pornography, while on pretrial release," Rosenberg said.

    “To be very clear — he did NOT admit that he committed the new crime, only that the government could establish probable cause that he did,” Rosenberg wrote CNA in an email.

    Rosenberg said that Jackson “conceded that he should be detained pending further proceedings.”

    It’s unclear when the next hearing will be. In addition to federal proceedings, Jackson is also being investigated by a local police department in Kansas.

    Around the time of his arrest in July, Overland Park Police Major James Sutterby told CNA that the department had an ongoing investigation into Jackson but he would not elaborate on the details. Sutterby could not be reached for further comment Monday.

    Jackson's Rhode Island charges came after the state police had executed a search warrant Oct. 31 at his parish and arrested Jackson after determining that he was the owner of large amounts of child sex abuse material found on an external hard drive in an office area near his bedroom, an affidavit states. 

    Jackson was originally charged with both federal and state offenses, but the state charges were dropped as a procedural move in January. 

    The federal charges of distributing child pornography are punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison, with a minimum mandatory term of incarceration of five years. Possessing and accessing with intent to view child pornography, his other federal charge, is punishable by up to 20 years of incarceration. His trial is set for November.

    Editor's note: This story was updated on Oct. 3 to correct the date for Jackson's trial. It is on the trial calendar for November, not September.

  4. Cardinal Gerhard Müller / Photo credit: Bohumil Petrik / ACI Press

    Denver Newsroom, Oct 3, 2022 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

    German Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, warned of a grave danger that could lead to the “collective suicide” of humanity.

    “Christianity promotes a civilization of life and challenges the culture of anthropological nihilism, which would have to end in the collective suicide of humanity. Atheism is nihilism. Its fruit is death,” the cardinal said in a presentation given in Spanish by his secretary Sept. 30 at the 14th World Congress of Families, which took place Sept. 30–Oct. 2 in Mexico.

    On its website, the congress states it is “a major international and interreligious event that seeks to unite and equip leaders, organizations, and families to affirm, celebrate, and strengthen the family as the natural and fundamental human environment, key to the flourishing of mature individuals and sustainable societies.”

    In his lecture, Müller explained that “nihilism, that is, ‘the feeling of the new age’ that ‘God himself is dead,’” as the philosopher Hegel wrote, can lead to the feeling that “there is nothing bad in the human being and everything that pleases him is allowed, if we believe in the kindly divine rationality over and in all that has being in his creation.”

    In his discourse titled “Man made in the image and likeness of God: a manifesto against anthropological nihilism,” the cardinal referred to the theses of Nietzsche, “the prophet of post-Christian nihilism” who proclaimed “the death of God”; and to the historian Yuval Noah Harari, who “has become something like the guru of the so-called trans- and post-humanism.”

    ‘Divine superman’ can become ‘diabolically inhuman’

    The prefect emeritus explained that “as a historian, Harari himself should know how quickly the vision of a divine superman can become diabolically inhuman. The 20th century has cruelly demonstrated this. In Western and Eastern Europe. Especially in Germany and Russia.”

    “If man ceases to be a creature in the image and likeness of the triune God, he sinks into the depths of anthropological nihilism,” Müller warned.

    For example, the cardinal referred to people “who have had their face or other parts of their body ‘lifted’ or ‘updated.’ It’s no longer a Hollywood fashion, but rather that these poor creatures deserving of mercy have fallen — without knowing it — into anthropological nihilism.”

    “Anthropological nihilism has as its father the pride of the creature that wants to become like God (Genesis 3:5) and wants to establish the difference between good and evil, true and false for itself,” he said.

    Its source of motivation, the German cardinal continued, “is the blind madness of the impious, who exchange the ‘glory of the incorruptible God’ for their self-fabricated ideological images. When man worships the creation instead of the Creator, he loses the glory of the sons and friends of God.”

    Hostile to life and marriage

    The cardinal warned that anthropological nihilism “is significantly hostile to life,” since it encourages the act of “killing children in the womb as a human right and the utilitarian requirement of the so-called ‘merciful death’ (euthanasia) for ‘depleted’ or ‘no longer utilizable’ human beings.”

    “But the rotten fruits of anthropological nihilism are also shown in the questioning of marriage between man and woman, which is seen as a variant among any number of possibilities of the orgiastic enjoyment of sexual satisfaction without the full surrender in love and without transcendending oneself to (form) a third person, namely, the child as the fruit of love and of the womb of its parents,” he continued.

    Thus the relationship of marriage to fruitfulness is denied, “with which the Creator has blessed man and woman so that they transmit, preserve, and promote the life created by God.”

    Gender ideology

    Cardinal Müller then addressed the issue of gender ideology, which makes a false distinction between biological sex and gender as a sociocultural construct.

    “Apart from the biologically proven fact that a real sex change isn’t possible, the fiction of freely choosing one’s gender is a denial of God’s will for our person. Every human being exists in (his or her) bodily nature in either male or female expression,” he said.

    “Gender ideology, which certainly also falls under the umbrella of anthropological nihilism, deprives both men and women of their own possibilities,” he pointed out.

    “A man, by virtue of his spiritual and bodily disposition, has the possibility of becoming a loving husband to his wife and a faithful father to his children. But he cannot be a wife or mother to another person without betraying himself,” the cardinal said.

    The prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said that “no one can reform or modernize the teaching of Christ, ‘because he himself (by his Incarnation) brought with him all the newness and modernness to renew and vivify man,’” as St. Irenaeus of Lyons, who was recently declared a doctor of the church by Pope Francis, said.

    Dangerous for the Church

    “Anthropological nihilism becomes really dangerous for the Church when even Catholic theologians in key positions no longer assume the fact of the historically unique and insuperable revelation of God in Jesus Christ, but instead make a perverse compromise with post-humanism, just for the Church to ‘survive’ as a social organization in a modern world without God,” the cardinal said.

    For this “theology without God,” then, “the creation and the covenant, the Incarnation and sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and his bodily resurrection are only considered existential symbols of mythical quality.”

    “If Christianity were just a collection of disparate views of the unknowable divine that spread over our theoretical understanding of the world and the practical way of coping with contingency, then it wouldn’t really be worth fighting, suffering, and dying for the truth of Christ,” Müller explained.

    The German cardinal stressed that “our faith in the God and Father of Jesus Christ overcomes the culture of death and anthropological nihilism. Faith opens us to a culture of life in the love of the Triune God because we are freed from the ‘slavery of the transient to the freedom and glory of the children of God.’”

    This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

  5. Father Guillermo Blandón / Facebook

    Denver Newsroom, Oct 3, 2022 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

    Father Guillermo Blandón, who was prohibited by the Nicaraguan dictatorship led by President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, from returning to the country, said that it’s not a crime to denounce the abuses of the government of the Central American country.

    Before he could take the flight from Miami to Nicaragua, the priest was informed that the Nicaraguan government had prohibited him from returning and expressed his surprise, “because returning is a right that I have as a Nicaraguan and I don’t think I’ve committed any crime that would prevent me from returning to my country.”

    The 60-year-old priest said that he has “always denounced the injustices, the abuses, like these trials where they don’t allow a lawyer or let a lawyer see the prisoners. That’s unjust and shouldn’t be done.”

    Blandón was referring to the political prisoners who are in the El Chipote  prison, which is known to torture opponents of the regime, where several priests are currently being held.

    “A prisoner has constitutional rights and the state cannot take them away; they have the right to a lawyer but they’re not allowed to. I have preached this because that’s not right,” the priest told EWTN News.

    “Why do certain prisoners have all their rights taken away? What crime did they commit? Thinking differently from the government, but that’s not a crime. Instead of being offended, the government should reflect,” Blandón continued.

    “They make judgments that have no legal basis; they’re like the doctor who studies in order to cure and procures death,” he lamented.

    Blandón said that when the Church announces the Gospel, she assumes her role of being light in the world.

    “The Church is a light that continues to illuminate. When we exhort, it’s not filing a lawsuit, but for the government to reflect,” he said.

    “The priest preaches the word of God, he applies it so that the people realize what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong, especially if we believe in the Lord.”

    “That’s been my life, 29 years of priesthood, preaching, announcing, denouncing sin, what’s wrong, abuses, the manipulation of the holy people of God; like the prophets, who preached the truth and justice of God,” the priest said.

    “Those of us who are pastors, the Church, we defend the dignity of the children of God.”

    Blandón also told EWTN News that he has already contacted his bishop, Jorge Solórzano, who heads the Diocese of Granada.

    “I told him not to expect me; he gave me words of encouragement, he told me to pray, [and told me] ‘We’ll pray for you. These are difficult trials that one must undergo.’ Like a good bishop, he was solicitous,” he recounted.

    Now in Miami, the priest is going to see the archbishop and request permission to celebrate the Eucharist “or if they can assign me a parish.”

    He will also have to see if the U.S. will grant him asylum.

    The priest has received the support of the auxiliary bishop of Managua, Silvio Báez, living in exile in the United States since 2019, and also from several members of the faithful in Nicaragua who have sent him money to support himself.

    However, he said, “I’m not bitter, I’m happy because what God allows is to purify us; he doesn’t make mistakes. Peace is not the absence of problems but his presence in the midst of problems.”

    “At my age I am starting over again, with the grace and blessing of my Lord,” he concluded.

    EWTN journalist Bárbara Socorro contributed to this article.

    This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

  6. President Joe Biden speaks during the Phoenix Awards Dinner at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 1, 2022. / Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

    Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Oct 3, 2022 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

    Most Catholics believe that President Joe Biden, the nation’s second Catholic president, should not run for a second term in 2024, according to a new EWTN News/RealClear Opinion Research Poll of likely Catholic voters released Monday.

    The poll, conducted Sept. 12–19, shows Biden continues to face challenges in garnering support among Catholic voters in the run-up to Election Day on Nov. 8. In particular, the poll indicates waning support for the president among Hispanic Catholic voters, traditionally a strong source of support for the Democratic Party.

    Among other highlights of the poll, Catholic voters rank inflation and the economy as the most critical issues facing the country, and most say they are very concerned about the state of education, especially after the lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Much of the poll’s results provide a snapshot of how Catholic voters assess Biden’s performance after two years in office.

    When asked how they feel Biden is handling his job as president, nearly 52% of Catholic voters said they either disapproved (5%) or strongly disapproved (47%); around 46% either approved (32%) or strongly approved (14%). Notably, the strong disapproval number was significantly higher than strongly approved. Only 2% of voters had no opinion.

    A majority of Catholics (58%) feel that Biden should not run for a second term in 2024, while only 22% support a possible re-election bid; 19% of Catholics are not sure. Most Catholics (67%-27% with 10% not sure) also do not want former President Donald Trump to run for president again in 2024.

    The president’s challenges may also be reflected in the fact that the survey found Democrats trailing Republicans by four points in the generic ballot for Congress. When asked if they would vote for a Democrat or Republican candidate, almost 49% of Catholics would vote for the Republican candidate while 45% would choose the Democrat, with the rest not sure. This margin underestimates the Republican advantage in the race for control of Congress since Democrat voters are more geographically clustered.

    The well-documented statistical disparity that exists between Mass-attending Catholics and those who attend only yearly or never remains in this latest poll.

    Among Catholics who attend Mass once a week or more often, 75% say they would vote for the Republican candidate, while 54% of those who attend a few times a year or less would vote for the Democrat candidate.

    Catholics are also divided on the president’s job approval. A substantial majority of Catholics (75%) who attend Mass at least weekly or more disapprove of the president’s handling of his job while his approval rating among Catholics who attend Mass a few times a year or less stands at 53%.

    The poll, conducted by the Trafalgar Group, surveyed 1,581 Catholic voters and has a margin of error of 2.5%. The questionnaire was administered using a mix of six different methods, including live phone calls, text messages, and email.

    A third and final EWTN News/RealClear poll will focus on the Catholic vote in the days just before the midterms.

    EWTN
    EWTN

    Catholics divided on abortion

    On the issue of abortion, the survey of Catholic voters taken after the release of the Supreme Court’s June 24 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, found that Catholics remain very divided even as a massive majority (87%) wants various restrictions on abortion.

    Surveyed on whether they agree or disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Catholic voters are almost evenly split, with 48% saying that abortion should be a federally protected right and 46% saying each state should determine its own abortion policy; 6% were not sure. Still, 13% of Catholics say abortion should be available to a woman at any time she wants one during her entire pregnancy while 8% say that abortion should never be permitted under any circumstances.

    Overall, most Catholics favor restrictions ranging from abortion should be allowed only in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother, 27%; until 15 weeks, when the baby can feel pain, 20%; only during the first six months of pregnancy, 13%; until a heartbeat can be detected, 10%; or only to save the life of the mother, 9%. Catholics who attend Mass once a week or more favor the overturn of Roe by 75%, while 50% of those who attend a few times a year or less believe abortion should be a federally protected right.

    Catholics are similarly divided on whether they would be more or less likely to support a candidate who agrees with the overturn of Roe v. Wade, with 42% saying they would be more likely and 42% saying they would be less likely; 16% are not sure.

    On the recent controversy surrounding pregnancy resource centers, some two-thirds of Catholic voters support public funding for these centers, where pregnant women can seek help with alternatives to abortion, while 18% are opposed and the remainder are not sure. Likewise, 62% say that political and church leaders should be speaking out against the recent attacks and acts of vandalism on pregnancy resource centers, compared with 15% who say they should not and another 23% who are not sure.

    Inflation, jobs are major worries

    Abortion, however, is not the most important issue to Catholic voters as they look to the midterms. While a major element of the Democrat campaign for the 2022 election, abortion trails significantly behind other issues, including inflation and the economy, as most important. Only 10% of Catholics say abortion is the most important issue facing the nation — tied with immigration, while 34% say inflation and another nearly 20% say the economy/jobs.

    Like most Americans, Catholics are feeling the impact of inflation. Asked how much their personal finances have been affected by rising prices and inflation, 81% of Catholic voters say that inflation has impacted them, while only 19% say not much or not at all.

    A plurality (41%) place the blame for inflation on Biden and his administration, while nearly 32% blame it on the global slowdown due to COVID-19 or the Russian invasion of Ukraine (more than 9%), and 17% say all of the above or they don’t know. As for the Inflation Reduction Act that the president recently signed into law, Catholics express little confidence that it will reduce inflation. A majority of Catholics (54%) say they don’t have much or any confidence that it will reduce inflation, while 37% say they have a great deal or some confidence and the rest are not sure.

    Hispanic support slipping for Biden, Democrats

    One potentially significant development the poll found was a decline in support for the president and Democrats in general among Hispanic Catholics — historically a reliable Democrat voting bloc.

    When asked how they feel Biden is handling his job as president, 50% of Hispanic Catholics say they strongly approve (11%) or approve (39%), while nearly 47% say they either disapprove (7%) or strongly disapprove (40%). Biden’s numbers among white Catholics are much worse, with 54% strongly disapproving (51%) or disapproving (4%), compared with 44%, who either strongly approve (16%) or approve (28%). Among African-American Catholics, he enjoys a very high approval rate of 90%, with 12% approving strongly and 78% approving. The first EWTN/RealClear poll in July found that Biden’s approval rating among white Catholics was 36%, 59% among Hispanic Catholics, and 72% among Black Catholics.

    President Joe Biden walks past a screen during a Hispanic Heritage Month reception in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 30, 2022. Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images
    President Joe Biden walks past a screen during a Hispanic Heritage Month reception in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 30, 2022. Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

    As for whether he should run for re-election, the president is facing a serious electoral and demographic challenge. Only 17% of white Catholics think he should run, while 62% say he should not. Among Hispanic Catholics, only 28% say he should run, and 53% say he should not. Almost all African-American Catholics (94%) think he should run again.

    When asked about their preference for candidates in the midterms, Hispanic Catholics are now evenly divided, with 45% favoring the Democrat and 44% preferring the Republican. Among white Catholics, Republicans hold an edge of 51%-44%. Black Catholics favor the Democrat 90%-10%.

    Education concerns

    One other area of concern to many Catholics is that of education, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdowns that impacted schools across the country. Three-quarters of Catholics said they are concerned about a “COVID deficit” in schoolchildren that has caused them to have lost significant intellectual and social development; around 17% said they were not concerned and 10% said they were not sure.

    A majority of Catholics (nearly 78%) either strongly support (47%) or support (21%) school choice, a policy that allows public education funds to follow students to the schools or services that best fit their needs, including a public school, private school, charter school, home school, parochial school, or any other learning environment a family might choose; 26% either strongly oppose (17%) or oppose (9%) school choice.

    Majorities of Catholics also support parents of K–12 students helping determine what is being taught in schools (64%-31%), oppose biological boys who identify as girls competing against biological girls on school sports teams (76%-14%), and oppose introducing Critical Race Theory (CRT) into the classroom (60%-29%).

    Half of Catholics believe in Real Presence

    Finally, in the area of Catholic belief and practice, some 84% of Catholics believe in heaven. Previous polls found that 77% believe in hell and 65% believe in purgatory. A majority of Catholic voters (77%) also believe in guardian angels.

    When asked about their Mass attendance post-COVID, only 1% of Catholics attend daily, 7% attend more than once a week, 24% once a week, 10% once or twice a month, 26% a few times a year, 5% once a year, and 26% less than once a year or never.

    The numbers for Mass attendance are matched by belief in the Real Presence of the Eucharist. As found also in the last poll, 50% of Catholics believe that the transformed bread and wine are the Body and Blood of Christ while 40% say the bread and wine are symbols of the Body and Blood of Christ; almost 10% say they are not sure. At the same time, only 26% of Catholics go to confession at least monthly or yearly, while 50% never go.

  7. Father Fidelis Moscinski (far left, in gray robe), a well-known pro-life activist and priest of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (CFR), is seen during a tense standoff between pro-life and pro-abortion demonstrators in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022. / Jeffrey Bruno/CNA

    St. Louis, Mo., Oct 3, 2022 / 15:00 pm (CNA).

    A prominent pro-life priest known for his nonviolent attempts to hinder the operation of abortion clinics to save unborn children faces federal charges for padlocking closed the gate to a New York abortion clinic in July, blocking the entrance to the clinic in the hopes of counseling the women seeking an abortion that day to reconsider.

    Father Fidelis Moscinski, 52, a priest of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (CFR), was charged last week under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, a 1994 federal law that prohibits the blocking of access to abortion clinics. 

    According to a Sept. 29 release from the Department of Justice, Moscinski — whom the release identifies as “Christopher” — arrived at the Planned Parenthood of Greater New York clinic in Hempstead, New York, the morning of July 7 wearing civilian garb. 

    He allegedly fastened several padlocks and bicycle locks, some with glue poured in them, onto the gated entrance of the clinic. Later, while wearing his friar’s habit, he lay in front of the gate to block access to the abortion clinic with his body. The clinic reportedly remained closed for two hours as a result of his actions. 

    The DOJ says first-time convictions of the FACE Act are misdemeanor violations punishable by up to one year in federal prison; subsequent convictions are a felony. The FACE Act prohibits “violent, threatening, damaging, and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with the right to seek, obtain, or provide reproductive health services,” according to the DOJ. 

    Terrisa Bukovinac, founder and executive director of the pro-life group Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU), decried the charges against Moscinski in an Oct. 2 statement. 

    Bukovinac said the FACE Act was enacted primarily to quash the efforts of Operation Rescue, whose members would frequently try to physically prevent women from entering abortion clinics. 

    “In recent years there has been a renewed interest in Rescue and of nonviolent direct action outside killing centers across America. And the response from [Attorney General Merrick] Garland’s DOJ has been swift,” Bukovinac said. 

    “The weaponization of this office has led to the unjust targeting of peaceful pro-life activists such as Mark Houck, Father Fidelis, Lauren Handy, and others. Alternatively, Garland’s Justice Department has allowed violent pro-abortion groups to continue their terrorization of churches and pregnancy centers across the country,” she said, referring to the large number of as-yet unprosecuted crimes against pro-life entities reported across the country in the wake of the Roe v. Wade decision. 

    Father Fidelis Moscinski (lower left, standing behind the cross), a well-known pro-life activist and priest of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (CFR), is seen during a tense standoff between pro-life and pro-abortion demonstrators in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022. The pro-life marchers were trying to reach a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic where they planned to hold a prayer vigil, and the pro-abortion demonstrators were trying to block their path. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
    Father Fidelis Moscinski (lower left, standing behind the cross), a well-known pro-life activist and priest of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (CFR), is seen during a tense standoff between pro-life and pro-abortion demonstrators in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022. The pro-life marchers were trying to reach a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic where they planned to hold a prayer vigil, and the pro-abortion demonstrators were trying to block their path. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA

    Moscinski has garnered media attention in recent years for his prayerful protests in the face of pro-abortion opposition and his work with the group Red Rose Rescue. In 2021, photos of the procession at Brooklyn’s Witness for Life day of prayer showed pro-abortion advocates shouting, holding signs, and smoking cigarettes in the face of a calm Moscinski.

    More recently, following his July 7 arrest, Moscinski told EWTN Pro-life Weekly that he knew his actions in blocking the clinic entrance could engender “severe consequences” and that he chose to act alone so as not to implicate anyone else. 

    Moscinski told host Prudence Robertson that his goal was to “keep that Planned Parenthood closed for as long as possible so that I would have an opportunity to talk to the mothers that were coming in that morning.” He encouraged pro-life people to pray the rosary and to ask themselves: “What am I willing to sacrifice to show love to the mothers and children who are at risk for abortion?” 

    Prosecutors cited that EWTN interview as part of the criminal complaint against Moscinski.

    Bukovinac of Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising said her group is aware of at least 16 peaceful pro-life advocates indicted under the FACE Act in 2022 alone, including a member of PAAU, Lauren Handy

    Another recent indictment, that of Philadelphia pro-life leader and father of seven Mark Houck, has garnered widespread consternation and criticism. Houck was indicted by a federal grand jury Sept. 22 after a Planned Parenthood clinic escort alleged that Houck pushed him twice, causing him to fall to the ground both times. Accounts of how Houck was taken into custody have been met with sharp criticism from GOP lawmakers, including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri.

  8. The Cathedral Church of St. Barnabas in Nottingham, England, U.K. / Kevin George/Shutterstock

    CNA Newsroom, Oct 3, 2022 / 14:01 pm (CNA).

    He reignited the dazzling colors, details, and diversity of the Middle Ages with his buildings. Now, his design of a Catholic church that brings to life this legacy — St. Barnabas Cathedral in Nottingham, U.K. — is to be restored and brought back to life.

    Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin famously worked on iconic buildings such as London’s clock tower — which houses “Big Ben” — and the Houses of Parliament. At Nottingham Cathedral, built in the 1840s, Pugin pioneered a revival of the grand tradition of medieval architecture known as Gothic Revival.

    With the support of money from British lottery players, the Restoring Pugin project aims to revive this heritage in England’s East Midlands in the heart of Nottingham city centre on busy Derby Road. 

    Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin. Wikimedia (CC0)
    Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin. Wikimedia (CC0)

    The project has received the offer of a substantial grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to fulfill its goal.

    The development grant awarded amounts to £277,558 (more than $312,000). That pays for some 60% of project development costs, according to a statement by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

    There is also a potential delivery grant of £524,858 (more than $591,000) for the implementation phase, covering 60% of the project’s total cost of restoring the Grade II* listed building.

    “This is a really exciting project,” said Sophie Andreae, vice chair of the Bishops’ Conference’s Patrimony Committee.

    “The original Pugin decorative scheme in Nottingham Cathedral would once have filled the building with colour, contributing greatly to the sense of the sacred,” she said.

    The Blessed Sacrament Chapel at Nottingham Cathedral. Wikimedia / Michael D. Beckwith (CC0)
    The Blessed Sacrament Chapel at Nottingham Cathedral. Wikimedia / Michael D. Beckwith (CC0)

    “Following a number of grants in recent years, which have seen the exterior of the cathedral made wind- and water-tight, now is the time to focus on [the] interior and to restore it to its original glory,” Andreae continued. “The original painted decoration is there under layers of later paint just waiting to be revealed.”

    Benachir Medjdoub, professor of digital architecture at Nottingham Trent University, said the project is an opportunity to use the latest restoration tools.

    “This project will use advanced digital technologies and real-time data to pave the way to new pedagogical tools to educate our young people from different communities in heritage and conservation, and to support Nottingham Cathedral conservation through real-time monitoring,” he said.

    The recent lottery grant made possible a laser scan and a fly-through model of the cathedral. The 3-D model shows the original building and Pugin’s original designs.

    Since the U.K.’s National Lottery began in 1994, National Lottery players have raised more than £43 billion for projects, and more than 635,000 grants have been awarded across Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    “We are really delighted that the National Lottery Heritage Fund is generously supporting our plans to ‘Restore Pugin’ at Nottingham Cathedral,” Canon Malachy Brett, dean of Nottingham Cathedral, said in a statement.

    “Thanks to National Lottery players, not only will we be able to restore some of Pugin’s magnificent original design work to the cathedral but [we will also be able] to create a number of opportunities for young people to engage in conservation and heritage work,” he said.

  9. The facade of St. Peter’s Basilica was illuminated on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, with 3-D projection mapping of Renaissance art from the Vatican Museums in a new light display titled “Follow Me: The Life of St. Peter.” The display will be projected on the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica every 15 minutes between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. each night through Oct. 16, 2022. / Vatican Media livestream screenshot

    Vatican City, Oct 3, 2022 / 13:02 pm (CNA).

    The facade of St. Peter’s Basilica was illuminated on Sunday night with 3-D projection mapping of art from the Vatican Museums in a new light display that seeks to combine new and old.

    Cardinal Mauro Gambetti described the Vatican’s new light showcase as “an encounter between ancient and modern using 3-D production technologies to enhance masterpieces of the past with a message aimed at the future.”

    The cardinal spoke in St. Peter’s Square on Oct. 2 at the opening of the light display, which is showing each night on the basilica for the next two weeks.

    Thousands gathered in front of St. Peter’s Basilica to watch the eight-minute video, “Follow Me: The Life of St. Peter,” on the first night as the basilica was lit up with moving images of Renaissance art from the Vatican Museums.

    The display featured Raphael’s “Transfiguration” and Pietro Perugino’s “Christ Giving the Keys of the Kingdom to St. Peter” as an Italian narrator told a basic story of the Church’s first pope.

    The 3-D video mapping also highlighted architectural elements of the basilica exterior as it illuminated the Latin inscription “Tu es Petrus” (You are Peter), words from Matthew 16:18.

    Andrea Bocelli performed as a special guest for the show’s inauguration. The Italian tenor sang several songs, including “Ave Maria” and “The First Noël,” a song from his new album set to be released at the end of October.

    Gambetti, the archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, said that the video projection on the basilica is part of an initiative to make the Vatican basilica recognized as “the church that holds the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles” rather than as “a museum.”

    “Now the pope wants us to insist on promoting St. Peter’s as a shrine and avoid the risk that it might become a museum,” Gambetti told Avennire in an Oct. 2 interview.

    The cardinal noted that 40,000 to 50,000 people visit the basilica each day, often with tourist guides, which he said “inevitably creates an almost museum-like atmosphere.”

    Under Gambetti’s leadership, the basilica, formerly reserved for prayer each day before 8 a.m., now allows large tour groups to enter in the early mornings. Private Masses were also restricted from the upper church soon after he became archpriest.

    Gambetti acknowledged that there is a serious problem that “those who want to access, come to pray, or participate in liturgies … maybe have to wait more than an hour in line.”

    He said that he is planning to make “incremental attempts to make the basilica more easily accessible to the faithful who come to pray with separate fast lanes from the tourists.”

    The cardinal hopes to address these issues before the Church’s 2025 Jubilee Year, during which the Vatican expects 30 million people to visit.

    “It is important that they see the face of the Mother Church that welcomes everyone. We thought of showing the image of the early Church, founded on Peter and his profession of faith,” Gambetti said when he announced the video-mapping initiative last month.

    “We think that people will be guided by the example of Peter to encounter the Lord and their brothers and sisters, to live their experience as pilgrims, and to leave renewed,” he said.

    The video display will be projected on the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica every 15 minutes between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. each night through Oct. 16.

  10. Tom Mortier / ADF International

    CNA Newsroom, Oct 3, 2022 / 06:30 am (CNA).

    The European Court of Human Rights is set to rule in a landmark euthanasia case on Tuesday on whether Belgium wrongly allowed a woman to be euthanized by lethal injection on the grounds of “untreatable depression.” 

    Tom Mortier is the son of Godelieva de Troyer, who died in 2012 after she had approached the country’s leading euthanasia advocate, who ultimately agreed to euthanize her despite being a cancer specialist.

    Before her death by euthanasia at age 64, neither her son nor any family member was consulted, according to a statement by the Christan legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF International).

    Mortier says that Belgium violated the European Convention on Human Rights for failing to adequately protect the right to life of his mother, who suffered severe mental difficulties and coped with depression throughout her life. 

    “She was treated for years by psychiatrists, and sadly, she and I lost contact for some time. It was during this time that she died by way of lethal injection. Never could I have imagined that we would be parted forever,” he said. 

    Over a period of just a few months, de Troyer made a financial payment to a Belgian euthanasia advocate’s organization. He referred her to see other doctors who were also part of the same association, despite a requirement for independent opinions in the case of individuals not expected to die soon, according to ADF International. 

    The same doctor that euthanized her is also co-chair of the federal commission charged with approving euthanasia cases after the fact.

    Countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands have been at the forefront of offering euthanasia and assisted suicide, and doctors who personally object to the practice must still refer patients.

    Vincent Kemme, the founder of the Belgian bioethics organization Biofides, told EWTN News in September that his organization has observed a shift in recent years, especially in the low countries of Europe, away from conscience protections for the medical profession: 

    “In Europe and the United States, the introduction of relativism and moral subjectivism has completely changed the profession of the doctor,” Kemme told EWTN News.

    Under Belgian law, euthanasia is permissible when a “medically futile condition of constant and unbearable physical or mental suffering” resulting from a severe and incurable disorder caused by illness or accident cannot be alleviated.

    Over 27,000 people have died from euthanasia in Belgium since it was legalized 20 years ago, on May 28, 2002, according to the latest official data from Belgian authorities, ADF said.

    Belgium’s law even allows minors of any age who are diagnosed as terminally ill to request euthanasia. Parental consent, as well as the agreement of doctors and psychiatrists, is required.