Legal assisted suicide puts people with disabilities at risk, report finds

Washington D.C., (CNA). - Leaders in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops applauded the National Council on Disability for its recent research on the risks of assisted suicide for people with disabilities.

“Every suicide is a human tragedy, regardless of the age, incapacity, or social/economic status of the individual,” said Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, and Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida.

Naumann is chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Dewane heads the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

“The legalization of doctor-assisted suicide separates people into two groups: those whose lives we want to protect and those whose deaths we encourage,” the bishops said. “This is completely unjust and seriously undermines equal protection under the law.”

Last week, the National Council on Disability released findings of a national investigation into the effects of assisted suicide laws on people with disabilities.

In its examination, the council said it found “that the most prevalent reasons offered by someone requesting assisted suicide are directly related to unmet service and support needs.” The agency called on lawmakers to remedy these unmet needs through changes in legislation and funding.

It added that in states where assisted suicide is legal, “safeguards are ineffective and oversight of abuses and mistakes is absent.”

In the U.S., assisted suicide is legal in California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia, and in Montana by a court ruling. A law allowing it in Maine will take effect Jan. 1, 2020.

The National Council on Disability is an independent federal agency that advises lawmakers on how policies and practices affect those with disabilities. The council’s report, entitled “The Danger of Assisted Suicide Laws,” was released Oct. 9 as part of its series on bioethics and disability.

The report found that state regulations intended to prevent abuses in the practice of assisted suicide sometimes fall short. It pointed to instances of insurance companies denying costly, life-sustaining medical treatment while covering deadly drugs.

In addition, doctors rarely refer for a psychological evaluation before prescribing lethal drugs, the report found, despite the fact that depression is a leading factor in requesting assisted suicide.

Financial pressure may compromise patient freedom in making end-of-life choices, the report added, and misdiagnoses of terminal diseases may lead patients to end their lives under the mistaken assumption that they are close to death.

Neil Romano, chairman of the National Council on Disability, said in a press release that while fighting cancer, he was once given weeks to live. But today, years later, he is alive and thriving.

“I know firsthand that well-intending doctors are often wrong,” he said. “If assisted suicide is legal, lives will be lost due to mistakes, abuse, lack of information, or a lack of better options; no current or proposed safeguards can change that.”

“Assisted suicide laws are premised on the notion of additional choice for people at the end of their lives, however in practice, they often remove choices when the low-cost option is ending one’s life versus providing treatments to lengthen it or services and supports to improve it,” Romano stressed.

The agency’s report also documented suicide contagion in states that have legalized assisted suicide and pointed to an easing of safeguards initially intended to prevent abuses.

In Oregon, where assisted suicide has been legal for two decades, the report noted that the practice has been expanded to include non-terminal illnesses, such as arthritis and diabetes.

The National Council on Disability opposed the legalization of assisted suicide. It called for federal investment into long-term services and supports as an alternative to assisted suicide. It also urged further research “on disability related risk factors in suicide prevention, as well as research on people with disabilities who request assisted suicide and euthanasia.”

In their statement, Archbishop Naumann and Bishop Dewane urged lawmakers and medical professionals to take seriously the recommendations in the report.

“The human rights and intrinsic worth of a person do not change with the onset of age, illness, or disability,” they said.

“We must do what we can to uphold the dignity of life, cherish the lives of all human beings, and work to prevent all suicides.”

It’s Official: Saint John Henry Newman, Canonized by Pope Francis in Rome along with four other saints

It’s official: Saint John Henry Newman.

Pope Francis celebrated Holy Mass and presided over the rite of the canonization for the newly-made English saint this morning, Oct. 13, 2019, in St. Peter’s Square.

John Henry Newman, who lived from 1801-1890, was a Cardinal, Founder of the Oratory of San Filippo Neri in England, amd

The Holy Father also made four other Blesseds, including three religious sisters, canonized saints. They included Blessed Giuseppina Vannini (1859-1911), Foundress of the Daughters of St. Camillus; Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan (1876-1926), Founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family; Dulce Lopes Pontes (1914-1992), and Margherita Bays (1815-1879).

According to Vatican authorities, there were some 50,000 present in St. Peter’s Square, including official delegations, and royals, such as Prince Charles of Wales, who in these days had written an editorial published in the Vatican’s L’Osservatore Romano praising the English saint-to-be’s profound contribution to education, society, and beyond.

In these days in the Vatican, there have been numerous events to recall Cardinal Newman.

The British Embassy to the Holy See, along with the Venerable English College, debuted the exhibition ‘John Henry Newman: A Saint in Rome’ at the English College, open Oct. 10-14, which tells of Newman’s four visits to Rome. It was also made possible through the collaboration of Propaganda Fide and the Newman Center.

In just a few weeks, Pope Francis will canonize Cardinal John Henry Newman, one of the most important Church figures in the last two centuries.

By Courtney Grogan

Vatican City, (CNA). - Cardinal John Henry Newman will be canonized on October 13 in Rome.

During a consistory of cardinals July 1, Pope Francis decreed that Newman and four other blesseds will be canonized together in St. Peter’s Square.

Indian Sister Marian Thresia, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family; Italian Sister Giuseppina Vannini; Brazilian Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes, and Marguerite Bays, a Swiss consecrated virgin of the Third Order of St. Francis will be canonized alongside Newman.

Their canonizations will take place during the 2019 Special Synod of Bishops from the Pan-Amazonian region to be held at the Vatican Oct. 6-27.

Newman was a 19th century theologian, poet, Catholic priest and cardinal. Originally an Anglican priest, he converted to Catholicism in 1845 and his writings are considered among some of the most important Church-writings in recent centuries.

Ordained a Catholic priest in 1847, he was made a cardinal by Pope Leo XIII in 1879, although he was not a bishop. Newman’s conversion to the Catholic faith was controversial in England, and resulted in him losing many friends, including his own sister who never spoke to him again.

The British cardinal founded the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in England, and was particularly dedicated to education, founding two schools for boys. He died in Birmingham in 1890 at the age of 89.

Cardinal Newman will become Britain’s first new saint since the canonization of St. John Ogilvie in 1976.

At Newman’s beatification Mass in Birmingham, England in Sept. 2010, Pope Benedict XVI said that Newman’s “insights into the relationship between faith and reason, into the vital place of revealed religion in civilized society, and into the need for a broadly-based and wide-ranging approach to education were not only of profound importance for Victorian England, but continue today to inspire and enlighten many all over the world.”

“What better goal could teachers of religion set themselves than Blessed John Henry’s famous appeal for an intelligent, well-instructed laity: ‘I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it,” Pope Benedict said.

The first miracle attributed to Newman’s intercession involved the complete and inexplicable healing of a deacon from a disabling spinal condition.

His second miracle concerned the healing of a pregnant American woman. The woman prayed for the intercession of Cardinal Newman at the time of a life-threatening diagnosis, and her doctors have been unable to explain how or why she was able to suddenly recover.

“God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons,” Blessed John Henry Newman wrote.

“He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments,” he said.

“Therefore, I will trust Him... If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him... He does nothing in vain... He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.”

Study: 6% of US seminarians have experienced sexual harassment, abuse or misconduct

Denver, Colo., (CNA). - A new study has found that six percent of U.S. seminarians have experienced some form of sexual harassment, abuse or misconduct; another four percent said they might have experienced misconduct but were not sure; while 89% report none.

The survey comes amid heightened scrutiny of seminary culture in the wake of revelations of grooming behavior and years of sexual harassment by high-profile Church figures such as former cardinal Theodore McCarrick and Bishop Michael Bransfield.

Of those surveyed, 84% of seminarians believe their administration and faculty take reports of such misconduct very seriously, according to the announcement accompanying the report.

The University of Notre Dame’s McGrath Institute for Church Life and the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University collaborated to produce the study, which the researchers presented at the 2019 Religion News Association conference last weekend.

Respondents were enrolled at 72 seminaries and houses of formation across the U.S. The study included responses from about two-thirds of the 2,375 seminarians invited to participate.

Sixty-eight percent of respondents are studying to serve as diocesan priests and 28% studying to serve as religious priests or brothers, according to the study. Just two percent of those surveyed live off-site.

Of those who said they have or may have experienced sexual harassment, 80% pointed to a fellow seminary student or religious in formation as the alleged perpetrator.

Three in four seminarians reported that sexual harassment, abuse, or misconduct are “not at all a problem” at their current seminary or house of formation. Nearly nine in ten said there is none or little talk or rumors of sexual promiscuity at their seminary. 

Fifty-nine percent said they are “very aware” of the policies and procedures of their seminary or house of formation concerning sexual harassment, abuse, and misconduct, with 29% saying they are “somewhat aware.”

The researchers’s report pointed out that although the rates of self-reported sexual harassment in their study are lower than other national studies of male college students, other studies have found that a majority of respondents in those studies report being victimized by women— in addition, several other national studies asked men to report sexual harassment that occured before they entered college.

“Viewing the studies as a whole, it is hard to make a comparison to our current study as our study includes sexual harassment as well as violent victimization, is mostly at an all-male colleges, and virtually has only male perpetrators,” the researchers wrote.

“The percentage saying they have experienced abuse in our present study does not seem significantly high or low compared to the other studies reviewed.”

The survey also asked seminarians for their suggestions on how to make the seminary environment more safe.

Answers included having more explicit definitions of sexual harassment, abuse, or misconduct, to avoid ambiguity about whether a behavior meets the criteria; frequent discussions and workshops on living chastely and celibately; a simple, anonymous way of reporting incidents of sexual harassment, abuse, or misconduct; and a policy of reporting and investigation of sexual harassment, abuse, and misconduct being handled by an outside source not directly connected to the seminary.

Suicide is on the rise - What can the Catholic Church do to help?

By Mary Farrow

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Denver, Colo., Sep 15, 2019 / 04:42 pm (CNA).- This past week marked National Suicide Prevention Week in the United States, a week where mental and public health advocates share tips and advice on suicide prevention and spotting the warning signs of suicide.

On Monday of that week, popular evangelical pastor and mental health advocate Jarrid Wilson, 30, reportedly committed suicide. Just hours prior to his death, Wilson had posted a message on Twitter about Jesus’ compassion for the depressed and suicidal.

“Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure suicidal thoughts,” Wilson wrote. “Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure depression. Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure PTSD. Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure anxiety. But that doesn’t mean Jesus doesn’t offer us companionship and comfort. He ALWAYS does that,” Wilson tweeted.

Wilson had been a long-time advocate for mental health, and founded “Anthem of Hope,” a Christian outreach for the depressed and suicidal, with his wife. His death followed that of Pastor Andrew Stoecklein, another young, vibrant evangelical pastor and mental health advocate, who committed suicide last year. 

In the span of just 16 years, suicide rates among working-age Americans (aged 16-64 years) spiked 34% between 2000 and 2016, according to data from the Center for Disease Control. Among Americans aged 10-24, the spike was even more dramatic - CDC data shows a 50% increase in suicides among this group between 2000-2017.

The suicides of these two pastors highlight this concerning upward trend in suicide, especially among young people, even among those who are part of a Christian community.

CNA spoke with three mental health professionals about why suicide rates, particularly among young people, are increasing, and what the Catholic Church and other faith communities can do to help.

Overconnected, and under pressure

Deacon Basil Ryan Balke is a licensed therapist at Mount Tabor Counseling in the Denver area, and the co-host of the podcast “Catholic Psyche,” which aims to educate people on the integration between the psychological sciences and Catholic spirituality, philosophy and theology. He is also a married deacon with the Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Church.

Balke told CNA that he thinks one of the driving factors of an increase in suicide among teens and young adults is their constant connectedness to the world through mobile devices, coupled with a lack of greater meaning in their lives.

“When I was in high school...I would go home, and I wouldn't really have any contact with my friends unless I wanted it,” Balke said.

“And now with the saturation of the iPhone...you get the communication that is constantly there and constantly moving and so you can never unplug, and you can never continue on with life outside of the image you have to put out into the world (through social media),” he said.

“They’re always distracted, always moving forward. I was a youth minister for many years as well, and it was just - these kids never had a moment's peace,” he added.

Tommy Tighe is a licensed marriage and family therapist in the Bay area in California, who also hosts a podcast on Catholicism and mental health called “St. Dymphna’s Playbook.” Tighe told CNA that despite having more connections, young people today are more isolated than ever.

“There's so much more pressure...there’s so much more of a drive to be popular,” Tighe said, but social media connections often do not equate to “a close-knit community of close friends.”

According to a 2015 article from the peer-reviewed research journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, frequent social media use in children and teenagers is associated with poor psychological functioning, as it limits their daily face-to-face interactions, impairing their ability to keep and maintain meaningful relationships.

The study found that students who reported using social media for two or more hours daily were more likely to poorly rate their own mental health, and experienced high levels of psychological distress and suicidal ideation.

9/11: When John Paul II grieved with America

Vatican City, (CNA).- As three airliners smashed into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, and Flight 93 crashed into a Pennsylvania field on September 11, 2001, Joaquín Navarro-Valls, at the time the director of the Vatican press office, delivered the news to Pope John Paul II.

"I remember that terrible afternoon as if it were yesterday. I called the Pope, who was at Castel Gandolfo, I gave him the news. He was shocked not only by the tragedy itself, but also because he could not explain how man could achieve this abyss of evil..." he recalled in a 2011 interview with Vatican Insider.

John Paul II, who had grown up to watch his native Poland overtaken first by Nazis and then by the Soviets, and who as Pope navigated the dangerous international waters of the Cold War, was no stranger to tragedy and war.

Still, the terror attacks on the United States shook him deeply.

“He was deeply shaken, saddened. But I remember that he asked himself how so heinous an attack could happen. His dismay, in front of those images went beyond pain,” Navarro-Valls recalled.

“He stayed for short time in front of the TV. Then he retired to the chapel, which is only a few steps away from the TV room. And he remained there a long time in prayer. He also wanted to get in touch with George Bush, to communicate his support, his pain, his prayer. But it was not possible to contact the president, who for security reasons was flying on Air Force One.”

Instead, Pope John Paul II decided to send his message of condolences and assurance of prayers via telegram, and was among the first of the world leaders to do so that day.

"I hurry to express to you and your fellow citizens my profound sorrow and my closeness in prayer for the nation at this dark and tragic moment," the Pope wrote.

In a 2011 article in the National Catholic Register, James Nicholson, who was the new United States ambassador to the Holy See in 2001, recalled his first meeting with John Paul II, just two days after the terror attacks.

“The first thing the Pope said to me was how sorry he felt for my country, which had just been attacked, and how sad it made him feel. We next said a prayer together for the victims and their families.”

“Then the Pope said something very profound and very revealing of his acute grasp of international terrorism. He said, ‘Ambassador Nicholson, this was an attack, not just on the United States, but on all of humanity.’ And, then he added, ‘We must stop these people who kill in the name of God.’”  

September 11, 2001 was a Tuesday.  

The next day, Wednesday, is when the Pope is scheduled each week to address the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

While John Paul II normally used this as a time for catechesis on the family or other issues, he set everything aside on September 12 to address the tragedy from which the world was still reeling.

Below is the full text of his words to the United States:

I cannot begin this audience without expressing my profound sorrow at the terrorist attacks which yesterday brought death and destruction to America, causing thousands of victims and injuring countless people. To the President of the United States and to all American citizens I express my heartfelt sorrow. In the face of such unspeakable horror we cannot but be deeply disturbed. I add my voice to all the voices raised in these hours to express indignant condemnation, and I strongly reiterate that the ways of violence will never lead to genuine solutions to humanity’s problems.

Yesterday was a dark day in the history of humanity, a terrible affront to human dignity. After receiving the news, I followed with intense concern the developing situation, with heartfelt prayers to the Lord. How is it possible to commit acts of such savage cruelty? The human heart has depths from which schemes of unheard-of ferocity sometimes emerge, capable of destroying in a moment the normal daily life of a people. But faith comes to our aid at these times when words seem to fail. Christ’s word is the only one that can give a response to the questions which trouble our spirit. Even if the forces of darkness appear to prevail, those who believe in God know that evil and death do not have the final say. Christian hope is based on this truth; at this time our prayerful trust draws strength from it.

With deeply felt sympathy I address myself to the beloved people of the United States in this moment of distress and consternation, when the courage of so many men and women of good will is being sorely tested. In a special way I reach out to the families of the dead and the injured, and assure them of my spiritual closeness. I entrust to the mercy of the Most High the helpless victims of this tragedy, for whom I offered Mass this morning, invoking upon them eternal rest. May God give courage to the survivors; may he sustain the rescue-workers and the many volunteers who are presently making an enormous effort to cope with such an immense emergency. I ask you, dear brothers and sisters, to join me in prayer for them. Let us beg the Lord that the spiral of hatred and violence will not prevail. May the Blessed Virgin, Mother of Mercy, fill the hearts of all with wise thoughts and peaceful intentions.

Today, my heartfelt sympathy is with the American people, subjected yesterday to inhuman terrorist attacks which have taken the lives of thousands of innocent human beings and caused unspeakable sorrow in the hearts of all men and women of good will. Yesterday was indeed a dark day in our history, an appalling offence against peace, a terrible assault against human dignity.

I invite you all to join me in commending the victims of this shocking tragedy to Almighty God' s eternal love. Let us implore his comfort upon the injured, the families involved, all who are doing their utmost to rescue survivors and help those affected.

I ask God to grant the American people the strength and courage they need at this time of sorrow and trial.

Below is the full text of Pope John Paul II’s prayers for the faithful and intentions on September 12, 2001:

Brothers and Sisters, in great dismay, before the horror of destructive violence, but strong in the faith that has always guided our fathers, we turn to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, salvation of his people, and with the confidence of children, pray that He will come to our aid in these days of mourning and innocent suffering.

Cantor:

Dominum deprecemur:  Te rogamus, audi nos.

1. For the Churches of the East and the West, and in particular for the Church in the United States of America so that, though humbled by loss and mourning, yet inspired by the Mother of the Lord, strong woman beside the cross of her Son, they may foster the will for reconciliation, peace, and the building of the civilization of love.

2. For all those who bear the name of Christian, so that, in the midst of many persons who are tempted to hatred and doubt, they will be witnesses to the presence of God in history and the victory of Christ over death.

3. For the leaders of nations, so that they will not allow themselves to be guided by hatred and the spirit of retaliation, but may do everything possible to prevent new hatred and death, by bringing forth works of peace.

4. For those who are weeping in sorrow over the loss of relatives and friends, that in this hour of suffering they will not be overcome by sadness, despair and vengeance, but continue to have faith in the victory of good over evil, of life over death.

5. For those suffering and wounded by the terrorist acts, that they may return to stability and health and, appreciating the gift of life, may generously foster the will to contribute to the well being of every human being.

6. For our brothers and sisters who met death in the folly of violence, that they find sure joy and life everlasting in the peace of the Lord, that their death may not be in vain but become a leaven bringing forth a season of brotherhood and collaboration among peoples.

The Holy Father:

O Lord Jesus, remember our deceased and suffering brothers before your Father.
Remember us also, as we begin to pray with your words:  Pater noster...

O Almighty and merciful God,
you cannot be understood by one who sows discord, you cannot be accepted by one who loves violence:  look upon our painful human condition tried by cruel acts of terror and death, comfort your children and open our hearts to hope, so that our time may again know days of serenity and peace.
Through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

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Vatican authorizes ‘Vos estis’ investigation into Minnesota bishop Hoeppner

Washington D.C., (CNA). - Bishop Michael Hoeppner is the first sitting U.S. bishop to be investigated under new misconduct protocols introduced by Pope Francis earlier this year.

Hoeppner, Bishop of Crookston, Minnesota, will be investigated by Minneapolis’ Archbishop Bernard Hebda, on charges that Hoeppner thwarted a police or canonical investigation of clerical sexual misconduct in his diocese.

“I have been authorized by the Congregation for Bishops to commence an investigation into allegations that the Most Reverend Michael Hoeppner, the Bishop of Crookston, carried out acts or omissions intended to interfere with or avoid civil or canonical investigations of clerical sexual misconduct in the Diocese of Crookston,” Hebda told CNA Sept. 10.

“Law enforcement has been notified of the allegations. The allegations were reported to me under the procedures set out in Pope Francis’ recent legislation addressing bishop accountability, the motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi.”

Hebda did not state directly what charges he will investigate. However, Hoeppner has been accused of pressuring Ron Vasek, a former diaconal candidate in the diocese, to recant the allegation that he was molested in 1971 by a Crookston priest.

In 2015, Vasek signed a letter withdrawing the allegation. He told CNA last year that Hoeppner coerced him into signing that letter.

Hoeppner has denied the charge.

In July, the Crookston diocese announced that a $5 million settlement had been reached in 15 sexual abuse lawsuits filed against it. As a condition of the settlement, the diocese is required to release the transcripts of depositions from Hoeppner and other diocesan officials.

Hebda told CNA he has “appointed qualified lay persons to assist me in carrying out this investigation, to provide an independent review of its contents, and assist in its examination and analysis. All involved in this investigation have been encouraged to respond to the investigators’ requests and provide accurate information so that the truth in this matter may become clear.”

Hoeppner will not yet step away from his post, and is unlikely to do so at least until Hebda has sent the initial results of his investigation to Vatican officials.

“This investigation is a preliminary one and not a full canonical process. As such, a limited time period has been established by the Holy See to gather information that may substantiate (or not) the truthfulness of the allegations. The gathered information will be forwarded promptly to the Apostolic Nuncio, who is the Pope’s representative in the United States, and to the Congregation for Bishops in Rome for a determination whether a subsequent process is warranted,” the archbishop explained.

“Those who filed the reports have no obligation to keep silent and the accused is presumed innocent,” Hebda added.

Other U.S. bishops face charges of misconduct in office, including Buffalo’s Bishop Richard Malone, or of sexual abuse, including retired Wyoming bishop Joseph Hart. However, the investigation into Hoeppner is, to date, the first U.S. investigation of a diocesan bishop under the procedure Pope Francis introduced in response to the 2018 Theodore McCarrick scandal.

The Diocese of Crookston referred questions to the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Pope Francis’ Message for Sept. 29, 2019 World Day of Migrants and Refugees

MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
FOR THE 105th WORLD DAY OF MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES 2019

It is not just about migrants

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Faith assures us that in a mysterious way the Kingdom of God is already present here on earth (cf. Gaudium et spes, 39). Yet in our own time, we are saddened to see the obstacles and opposition it encounters. Violent conflicts and all-out wars continue to tear humanity apart; injustices and discrimination follow one upon the other; economic and social imbalances on a local or global scale prove difficult to overcome. And above all it is the poorest of the poor and the most disadvantaged who pay the price.

The most economically advanced societies are witnessing a growing trend towards extreme individualism which, combined with a utilitarian mentality and reinforced by the media, is producing a “globalisation of indifference”. In this scenario, migrants, refugees, displaced persons and victims of trafficking have become emblems of exclusion. In addition to the hardships that their condition entails, they are often looked down upon and considered the source of all society’s ills. That attitude is an alarm bell warning of the moral decline we will face if we continue to give ground to the throw-away culture. In fact, if it continues, anyone who does not fall within the accepted norms of physical, mental and social well-being is at risk of marginalisation and exclusion.

For this reason, the presence of migrants and refugees – and of vulnerable people in general – is an invitation to recover some of those essential dimensions of our Christian existence and our humanity that risk being overlooked in a prosperous society. That is why it is not just about migrants. When we show concern for them, we also show concern for ourselves, for everyone; in taking care of them, we all grow; in listening to them, we also give voice to a part of ourselves that we may keep hidden because it is not well regarded nowadays.

“Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!” (Mt 14:27). It is not just about migrants: it is also about our fears. The signs of meanness we see around us heighten “our fear of ‘the other’, the unknown, the marginalised, the foreigner… We see this today in particular, faced with the arrival of migrants and refugees knocking on our door in search of protection, security and a better future. To some extent, the fear is legitimate, also because the preparation for this encounter is lacking” (Homily in Sacrofano, 15 February 2019). But the problem is not that we have doubts and fears. The problem is when they condition our way of thinking and acting to the point of making us intolerant, closed and perhaps even – without realising it – racist. In this way, fear deprives us of the desire and the ability to encounter the other, the person different from myself; it deprives me of an opportunity to encounter the Lord (cf. Homily at Mass for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 14 January 2018).

“For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same?” (Mt 5:46). It is not just about migrants: it is about charity. Through works of charity, we demonstrate our faith (cf. Jas 2:18). And the highest form of charity is that shown to those unable to reciprocate and perhaps even to thank us in return. “It is also about the face we want to give to our society and about the value of each human life… The progress of our peoples… depends above all on our openness to being touched and moved by those who knock at our door. Their faces shatter and debunk all those false idols that can take over and enslave our lives; idols that promise an illusory and momentary happiness blind to the lives and sufferings of others” (Address at the Diocesan Caritas of Rabat, 30 March 2019).

“But a Samaritan traveller who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight” (Lk 10:33). It is not just about migrants: it is about our humanity. Compassion motivated that Samaritan – for the Jews, a foreigner – not to pass by. Compassion is a feeling that cannot be explained on a purely rational level. Compassion strikes the most sensitive chords of our humanity, releasing a vibrant urge to “be a neighbour” to all those whom we see in difficulty. As Jesus himself teaches us (cf. Mt 9:35-36; 14:13-14; 15:32-37), being compassionate means recognising the suffering of the other and taking immediate action to soothe, heal and save. To be compassionate means to make room for that tenderness which today’s society so often asks us to repress. “Opening ourselves to others does not lead to impoverishment, but rather enrichment, because it enables us to be more human: to recognise ourselves as participants in a greater collectivity and to understand our life as a gift for others; to see as the goal, not our own interests, but rather the good of humanity” (Address at the Heydar Aliyev Mosque in Baku, 2 October 2016).

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father” (Mt 18:10). It is not just about migrants: it is a question of seeing that no one is excluded. Today’s world is increasingly becoming more elitist and cruel towards the excluded. Developing countries continue to be drained of their best natural and human resources for the benefit of a few privileged markets. Wars only affect some regions of the world, yet weapons of war are produced and sold in other regions which are then unwilling to take in the refugees produced by these conflicts. Those who pay the price are always the little ones, the poor, the most vulnerable, who are prevented from sitting at the table and are left with the “crumbs” of the banquet (cf. Lk 16:19-21). “The Church which ‘goes forth’… can move forward, boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads and welcome the outcast” (Evangelii Gaudium, 24). A development that excludes makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. A real development, on the other hand, seeks to include all the world’s men and women, to promote their integral growth, and to show concern for coming generations.

“Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all” (Mk10:43-44). It is not just about migrants: it is about putting the last in first place. Jesus Christ asks us not to yield to the logic of the world, which justifies injustice to others for my own gain or that of my group. “Me first, and then the others!” Instead, the true motto of the Christian is, “The last shall be first!” “An individualistic spirit is fertile soil for the growth of that kind of indifference towards our neighbours which leads to viewing them in purely economic terms, to a lack of concern for their humanity, and ultimately to feelings of fear and cynicism. Are these not the attitudes we often adopt towards the poor, the marginalised and the ‘least’ of society? And how many of these ‘least’ do we have in our societies! Among them I think primarily of migrants, with their burden of hardship and suffering, as they seek daily, often in desperation, a place to live in peace and dignity” (Address to the Diplomatic Corps, 11 January 2016). In the logic of the Gospel, the last come first, and we must put ourselves at their service.

“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn 10:10). It is not just about migrants: it is about the whole person, about all people. In Jesus’ words, we encounter the very heart of his mission: to see that all receive the gift of life in its fullness, according to the will of the Father. In every political activity, in every programme, in every pastoral action we must always put the person at the centre, in his or her many aspects, including the spiritual dimension. And this applies to all people, whose fundamental equality must be recognised. Consequently, “development cannot be restricted to economic growth alone. To be authentic, it must be well-rounded; it must foster the development of each man and of the whole man” (SAINT PAUL VI, Populorum Progressio, 14).

“So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God” (Eph 2:19). It is not just about migrants: it is about building the city of God and man. In our time, which can also be called the era of migration, many innocent people fall victim to the “great deception” of limitless technological and consumerist development (cf. Laudato Si’, 34). As a result, they undertake a journey towards a “paradise” that inevitably betrays their expectations. Their presence, at times uncomfortable, helps to debunk the myth of a progress that benefits a few while built on the exploitation of many. “We ourselves need to see, and then to enable others to see, that migrants and refugees do not only represent a problem to be solved, but are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected and loved. They are an occasion that Providence gives us to help build a more just society, a more perfect democracy, a more united country, a more fraternal world and a more open and evangelical Christian community” (Message for the 2014 World Day of Migrants and Refugees).

Dear brothers and sisters, our response to the challenges posed by contemporary migration can be summed up in four verbs: welcome, protect, promote and integrate. Yet these verbs do not apply only to migrants and refugees. They describe the Church’s mission to all those living in the existential peripheries, who need to be welcomed, protected, promoted and integrated. If we put those four verbs into practice, we will help build the city of God and man. We will promote the integral human development of all people. We will also help the world community to come closer to the goals of sustainable development that it has set for itself and that, lacking such an approach, will prove difficult to achieve.

In a word, it is not only the cause of migrants that is at stake; it is not just about them, but about all of us, and about the present and future of the human family. Migrants, especially those who are most vulnerable, help us to read the “signs of the times”. Through them, the Lord is calling us to conversion, to be set free from exclusivity, indifference and the throw-away culture. Through them, the Lord invites us to embrace fully our Christian life and to contribute, each according to his or her proper vocation, to the building up of a world that is more and more in accord with God’s plan.

In expressing this prayerful hope, and through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Way, I invoke God’s abundant blessings upon all the world’s migrants and refugees and upon all those who accompany them on their journey.

 

From the Vatican, 30 April 2019

In response to restrictions, Planned Parenthood expands telemedicine program

Washington D.C. (CNA).- After several months of new pro-life legislation aimed at restricting abortion or defunding Planned Parenthood, the organization’s national branch has announced the expansion of its telemedicine program to all 50 states by next year.

The Planned Parenthood Direct app, through which users can request birth control delivery, UTI treatment prescriptions, and appointments at Planned Parenthood, is currently available in 27 states.

According to its website, Planned Parenthood has also used telemedicine to prescribe mifepristone and misoprostol, the two drugs used in medical abortions. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 18 states require that a licensed physician be physically present during medical abortions, effectively banning abortions prescribed via telemedicine.

“As politicians across the country try to restrict or block access to critical reproductive and sexual health care, the Planned Parenthood Direct app is just one part of the work we do to ensure that more people can get the care they need, no matter where they are,” Planned Parenthood CEO and acting president Alexis McGill Johnson said in a statement released Wednesday.

Planned Parenthood said the app will help remedy the “vast unmet need for sexual and reproductive health care in the United States,” by helping patients “overcome barriers” such as travel distance or lack of childcare during appointments.

The organization noted in its release that the expansion of the app was, in part, a response to a new pro-life policy at the federal level.

“In the wake of increasing restrictions on sexual and reproductive health care, the Planned Parenthood Direct app is helping to break down barriers and get people the timely care and information they need,” the statement said.

Last month, Planned Parenthood announced its plans to opt out of the Title X family planning program, following the passage of the Protect Life Rule, which bans recipients of Title X money from referring women for abortions, and from being located in buildings with abortion clinics. It also requires the financial separation of government-funded programs with programs that perform abortions.

By opting out of Title X, Planned Parenthood chose to forgo roughly $60 million in annual funds, or about 15% of its annual federal funding.

The Protect Life Rule came amidst numerous attempts at the state level to close Planned Parenthood clinics or restrict abortions. So far this year, Alabama, Arkansas and Utah have passed laws that would ban abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy. Other states, including Georgia, Kentucky and Ohio, passed heartbeat bills that would restrict abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detected, which typically occurs between six and eight weeks of pregnancy. A lengthy clinic licensure debate in Missouri could mean the closure of the last Planned Parenthood in the state.

Many of these state laws have not yet gone into effect, and are all being challenged in the courts by Planned Parenthood or other abortion advocacy groups.

President of U.S. Bishops Conference Calls for Prayers After Deadly Hurricane Hits the Bahamas and Moves Closer to the Southeastern Coast

WASHINGTON - Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following statement regarding Hurricane Dorian that left seven people dead in the Bahamas and is moving closer to the southeastern United States.

Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:

“As we continue to be vigilant for the effects of Hurricane Dorian as it approaches the U.S. coast, we are extremely mindful of the dire need faced by the community in the Bahamas so devastated by this catastrophic storm. We pray for all effected and invite Catholics and all people of goodwill to donate to Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities USA..

The donations to CRS can be made at https://support.crs.org/donate/hurricane-dorian and to Catholic Charities USA at https://app.mobilecause.com/form/RTKRvQ?vid=1snqm

Judge advances settlement plan for diocese, clergy abuse survivors

DULUTH - Bankruptcy Judge Robert Kressel of the U. S. Bankruptcy Court for the District Court of Minnesota has approved the joint Disclosure Statement submitted by the diocese and the Official Committee for the abuse claimants at a Bankruptcy Court hearing in Minneapolis Aug. 22.

In approving the Disclosure Statement, Judge Kressel also scheduled the confirmation hearing on the joint Plan filed by the diocese and the Official Committee for the abuse claimants for Oct. 21 at 11 a.m. at the Federal Courthouse in Duluth.

“Approval of the Disclosure Statement was an important next step in the Chapter 11 process,” said Father James Bissonette, vicar general of the Diocese of Duluth.

Chair of USCCB’s Committee on Migration Denounces New Rule Undermining Existing Protections for Immigrant Children

WASHINGTON — Today, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, condemned the final rule published by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) relating to the care and custody of immigrant children under the Flores Settlement Agreement. The agreement sets forth foundational principles and critical protections regarding the care, custody, and release of immigrant children who are in federal custody, including the general requirements that they be housed in the least restrictive setting and in licensed facilities for childcare.

The rule will drastically undermine existing Flores protections for immigrant children in federal custody.

“This rule will have heartbreaking consequences for immigrant children – those whom Pope Francis has deemed ‘the most vulnerable group’ among migrants,” said Vásquez. “It is an attempt by the Administration to circumvent existing obligations and undermine critical protections for these children. This rule will jeopardize the well-being and humane treatment of immigrant children in federal custody and will result in children suffering long-lasting consequences of being held for prolonged periods in family detention. We oppose this rule that we believe is unlawful and inhumane. Countless children will be harmed by this new rule and this is simply not acceptable.”  

USCCB also opposed this rule when it was initially proposed by DHS and HHS by submitting comments detailing concerns with the rule and urging it be rescinded.

Title X: Protect Life Rule comes in as Planned Parenthood walks out

Washington D.C., (CNA) .- Planned Parenthood will no longer receive Title X funds and has withdrawn from the program entirely. The decision took effect Monday, as the deadline passed for compliance with new program rules.

The organization, the nation’s largest chain of abortion providers, confirmed their withdrawal from Title X after a court refused to grant an emergency injunction against the Protect Life Rule, which bars fund recipients from referring women for abortions, prevents participating groups from co-locating with abortion clinics, and requires financial separation of government-funded programs from those that carry out abortions.

August 19 was the last day for the group to file a “good faith” undertaking to comply with the new rule.

The decision means Planned Parenthood will lose about $60 million in federal funding, about one-fifth of total Title X funds, and approximately 15% of its annual federal funding.

The organization’s acting president Alexis McGill Johnson said Monday that “The Trump administration has forced Planned Parenthood grantees out of Title X.” Johnson had previously called the Protect Life Rule an attempt by the president to “bully us into withholding abortion information from our patients.”

Calling the Protect Life Rule a “gag on health care providers,” Johnson said in a previous statement, issued last week, that the rule is “a blatant assault on our health and rights, and we will not stand for it.”

On Monday, Doreen Denny, Senior Director of Government Relations at Concerned Women for America, said it was “a day of reckoning” for the abortion provider.

“Planned Parenthood has no entitlement to federal funding, and they apparently have no plans to comply with federal rules either,” Denny said. “For years, Planned Parenthood has skirted federal law to promote its abortion business on the backs of the American taxpayer. 

“If Planned Parenthood truly cared about promoting health, it would stop peddling abortion and start supporting women. Planned Parenthood’s threat to withdraw from the Title X program proves one thing: health care is not their primary business; abortion is,” said Denny.

The abortion provider’s departure from the program altogether is a change from their initial response to the rule. Previously, the organization had intended to remain in the program, but refuse funding. HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary Diane Foley called this arrangement “inconsistent” in a letter to the organization.

In guidance issued by HHS on Aug. 8, the department responded directly to Planned Parenthood’s objections to the rule, noting that the organization operated less than 10% of participating sites nationwide.

“To the extent that Planned Parenthood claims that it must make burdensome changes to comply with the Final Rule, it is actually choosing to place a higher priority on the ability to refer for abortion instead of continuing to receive federal funds to provide a broad range of acceptable and effective family planning methods and services to clients in need of these services.”

Despite operating less than 10% of the Title X fund recipient clinics, Planned Parenthood received about 15% of the country’s total Title X funds. 

Title X is a federal program created in 1965 that subsidizes family-planning and preventative health services, including contraception, for low-income families. It has been frequently updated and subject to new regulations.

The administration previously said in June that it would delay enforcement of the rule, provided that fund recipients submitted a compliance plan and made a “good faith” undertaking to comply with most of the rule’s requirements as soon as possible. Facilities are required to end co-location with abortion sites by March 2020.

Chairs of USCCB’s Committees on Migration and Domestic Justice and Human Development Express Deep Concern Over New Rule on Individuals and Families that Access Public Benefits

WASHINGTON — Today, bishops from two committees at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) expressed their strong opposition to a final rule on public charge put forth by the Department of Homeland Security. The rule, which is expected to be officially published on August 14th and will take effect sixty days after publication, will undoubtedly have a negative consequence for families accessing critical public benefits for which they otherwise qualify. Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, and Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of Venice, FL, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, offered the following statement.

“This rule will undermine family unity and lead many lawful immigrants to forgo vital assistance, including enrollment in nutrition, housing, and medical programs. Families already in the U.S. will be faced with deciding whether to access critical assistance programs for which they qualify, knowing that in doing so they could jeopardize their ability to stay here with their loved ones. And, it will reduce the ability of many to reunify with family in the U.S. We have already seen the culture of fear that the anticipation of this rule has created in our communities. Ultimately, we believe that this rule is in tension with the dignity of the person and the common good that all of us are called to support.”

The USCCB also opposed this rule when it was initially proposed by DHS and submitted joint comments with Catholic Charities USA detailing concerns with the rule and urging it be rescinded.

Chair of USCCB Committee on Migration Urges Rescission of New Rule that Undermines our Asylum System and Puts Vulnerable Individuals and Families at Risk 

WASHINGTON — Recently, the Trump Administration issued an “interim final rule” that would nearly eviscerate our current asylum system. A 30-day period was given to submit comments to the government about the rule. The move would allow the Administration to block most individuals arriving at our southern border from gaining access to asylum in the U.S. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops submitted comments on August 9th and called the rule “unlawful, unjust, and unwise.”

Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin, Texas, Chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration, issued the following statement: 

“We have grave concerns about the Administration’s interim final rule, issued on July 16, 2019, that greatly limits U.S. asylum eligibility at the southern border,” said Bishop Vásquez. “The rule would turn our back on the vast majority of asylum seekers, requiring them to apply for protection in almost any other country through which they transit, leaving access to U.S. asylum exceptionally rare. Not only do we believe that this rule is unlawful, but it also jeopardizes the safety of vulnerable individuals and families fleeing persecution and threatens family unity. Further, the rule undermines our nation’s tradition of being a global leader providing and being a catalyst for others to provide humanitarian protection to those in need. We remind the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security that how we respond to asylum seekers arriving at our border is a test of our moral character and strongly urge the Administration to rescind this rule.”

US Bishops Thank Pope Francis for Letter to Priests

Comment by Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations

ZENIT StaffFrancis

On August 4, 2019, Pope Francis marked the 160th anniversary of the death of the Curé of Ars, St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests, by addressing a letter to all priests throughout the world. In the letter, the Holy Father acknowledges the pain and suffering that the Church has experienced because of the sexual abuse scandals and cover-up, while expressing his solidarity with priests who may find themselves angry and tempted to despair.

Pope Francis also underscores his gratitude for faithful priests, those who continue to image Christ, the Good Shepherd in their everyday work and ministry. The Holy Father urges his brothers to remain hopeful and encourage one another with hope grounded in the Lord’s redemptive sacrifice on the Cross and united in prayer with Mary, the Mother of all Priests, who is always interceding for her children.

Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, Archbishop of Newark, and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, issued the following statement in response to Pope Francis’ letter:

“The Holy Father’s letter to all priests is a most welcome gift, coming, as it does, at a particularly difficult time for the Church. Amid the pain, ugliness, and anger, it is possible for the Church, and especially those who are priests, to fall into despair – the opposite of hope. Instead, the Holy Father reminds us that we must never lose sight of those ‘luminous moments when we experienced the Lord’s call to devote our lives to his service’. That sort of memory recalls the many moments of gratitude and encouragement offered to us from the Lord and from others. While working to protect all of God’s people, especially the innocent and vulnerable, from the evil of the abuse of power, we should not become blind to how the joy and hope of Christ ‘are constantly born anew.’ Speaking as a priest and bishop in the United States, I thank the Holy Father for his wonderful letter to us.”

Knights of Columbus donated over $185 million to charity in 2018

By Matt Hadro

Minneapolis (CNA) - Ahead of its annual convention this week, the Knights of Columbus announced August 1 that it donated more than $185 million to charity in 2018.

“The men who choose to become Knights of Columbus are generous, and their impact is immense. While we are known mainly for our local efforts, our reach is global,” said Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus.

The Knights of Columbus is a fraternal and charitable organization with over 1.9 million members and more than 16,000 councils worldwide.

It was founded by Fr. Michael McGivney in 1882 to provide relief and assistance to members, their families, and widows of members, as well as opportunities for fraternity and service for Catholic members. The “four pillars” of the Knights are charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism.

According to the Knights, the $185 million in charitable giving came from direct fundraising, the efforts of local Knights councils, and its insurance operations; the Knights offer insurance and annuities products to members.

The group also says its members gave over 76 million hours of hands-on service in 2018, worth over $1.9 billion according to a valuation of volunteer work by the Independent Sector.

More than 16,000 Knights councils in nine countries were responsible for the volunteer work and for raising money for charitable causes, which included relief for persecuted Christians, disaster aid, support for crisis pregnancy centers and pro-life initiatives, the Archdiocese of the Military Services, U.S.A., and the Knights’ annual pilgrimage to Lourdes for wounded military veterans.

In just over 12 months between 2017 and 2018, the Knights raised and delivered $2 million for the Iraqi town of Karamles; the Knights have helped Christian survivors of the ISIS genocide in the town resettle in their homes and rebuild for the future.

Volunteer work included support for the Special Olympics, coat drives, and food drives for needy families.

“Regardless of how or who the Knights serve, it's the chance to help those who are unable to help themselves and to be of assistance to the sick or disabled that is at the heart of what being a Knight is all about,” Anderson said.

The annual Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus took place August 6-8 in Minneapolis, Minn. Knights councils from all over the world attended, along with bishops and leaders of the organization.

 

Bishops’ Conference Domestic Committee Chairman Reacts to Gilroy, CA Shooting

WASHINGTON — Following the shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, calls for support of the victims and for actions to end gun violence.  

The full statement is as follows:

“It is heartbreaking to learn yet again of a mass shooting that has taken innocent lives, and wounded many others, this time at a food festival in Gilroy, California. At the time of this writing, the reports are of twelve wounded, and three deceased, including a six-year-old boy as well as a thirteen-year-old girl. The Lord calls us to comfort those who mourn and to be peacemakers in a violent world. We pray, and we must, for the victims and their families. The Church should act in ways that heal and support all those affected by gun violence. It is disturbing that our society would seem to allow some to feel comfort in being violent. Our legislators must make changes to our gun policy to prevent the loss of life. As Americans, we must be honest with ourselves that we have a sickness, almost a plague, with the problem of gun violence. As Christians, we must look to the cross, repentant of the ways that have led us to this point and, with God’s grace, abandon such senseless, inhuman acts. Let us resolve to make the sacrifices necessary to end the violent killing that saturates our nation.”        

Chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development Issues Statement on the Death Penalty

WASHINGTON — Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of the Diocese of Venice and Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development has issued a statement on the federal government’s decision to resume the use of the death penalty.

The full statement follows:

“In his address to Congress during his 2015 Apostolic visit to the United States, Pope Francis, echoing the views of his predecessors, called for ‘the global abolition of the death penalty.’ He further stated that, ‘[A] just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.’ As the Catechism of the Catholic Church now provides, ‘The death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.’

At their meeting in June, the Catholic Bishops of the United States voted overwhelmingly to update the Catechism for use by adults in the United States to reflect this position. This is consistent with comparable calls by the Bishops for over forty years, including in their 2005 statement, A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death.

In light of these long held and strongly maintained positions, I am deeply concerned by the announcement of the United States Justice Department that it will once again turn, after many years, to the death penalty as a form of punishment. I urge instead that Federal officials take this teaching into consideration, as well as the evidence showing its unfair and biased application, and abandon the announced plans to implement the death penalty once more.”

Statement of the Diocese of Crookston re: Settlement of Lawsuits

CROOKSTON, MINN. – The Diocese of Crookston and victims and survivors of clergy sexual abuse have reached a $5,000,000.00 settlement agreement. The Diocese is thankful mediation has concluded. Although victims can never be fully compensated for their suffering, it is hopeful these settlements offer healing and justice.

15 lawsuits for sexual abuse claims were filed between April 2016 and May 2017 as a result of the Minnesota Child Victims Act. The legislation lifted the statute of limitations on abuse cases in Minnesota, opening a three-year window that allowed victims an opportunity to file civil claims.

Most of the costs associated with the settlement came through insurance proceeds. The Diocese of Crookston paid $1,550,000.00; most of this amount was from the property sales of Camp Corbett (Big Elbow Lake, Becker County, MN) in 2018 and Holy Spirit Newman Center (Bemidji, MN) in 2016, as well as two non-restricted estate gifts in 2017. Also, in preparation for settlement, two open staff positions were left unfilled. In meeting the settlement, the Diocese did not have to finance any portion through loans.

Because of the settlement, the Diocese of Crookston has been able to avoid bankruptcy protection. All other dioceses in Minnesota have filed or announced their intent to file for financial reorganization in recent years. The Diocese will not experience lay-offs and can steadfastly continue its mission of serving God’s people in the 14 Northwest counties of Minnesota.

The Diocese of Crookston is committed to transparency and accountability in response to the clerical sexual abuse crisis and takes seriously accusations of sexual misconduct by clergy. If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual misconduct on the part of a priest, deacon, or individual representing the Diocese of Crookston, its parishes, or its schools, please contact the diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator at 218-281-7895.