Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Five Things To Remember On July 23

1. News.va reports: "Pope Francis has reassured the Patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church Ignatius Youssef III Younan that he is following news out of Iraq with concern, particularly the dramatic situation of Christians in Mosul who have been threatened with death and seizure of their homes by Islamic militants demanding they leave or convert to their form of Islamic belief. Christians have lived in Iraq’s second largest city for nearly two thousand years; there are few, if any, left now in Mosul. "

2. Find out how the Catholic Church is helping the unaccompanied minors currently in the immigration crisis in the U.S.

3. A Mass for the immigrants was held in Los Angeles with Archbishop Jose Gomez and he said, "As we all know, this land was built by the blood and sacrifice and the vision of missionaries and immigrants from every race and language and every nation."

4. Among the new members and consultants Pope Francis named to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity is Father John W. Crossin, the executive director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

5. God loves you.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Five Things To Remember On July 22


1. Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, president of the USCCB, has asked the U.S. bishops to join with him in prayer and action for peace in world trouble spots, including the Middle East, Ukraine, Africa and Central America.

2. Pope Francis prayed for the Middle East, saying, “May the God of peace arouse in all an authentic desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence cannot be overcome with violence. Violence is overcome with peace!”

3. One of the most viral posts on our Facebook page is this tweet from Bishop David Ricken.
 


4. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about what Natural Family Planning (NFP) is. Do you know the difference between the fact and fiction about NFP? Find out more here:  http://ow.ly/zjxTM

5. God loves you.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Five Things To Remember on July 21

1. Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, who chairs the U.S. bishops' International Committee on International Justice and Peace, wrote July 21 to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to say that the United States should seek an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, provide humanitarian relief to the vulnerable people of Gaza, and return to the challenge of pursuing a just and lasting peace. The letter addressed Hamas’ rocket attacks and the Israeli response and reiterated Pope Francis’ call for a ceasefire and peace.

2. During his Sunday Angelus July 20 Pope Francis told the persecuted Christians of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul that he was with them in solidarity and appealed for aid for these people who have been “stripped of everything." Thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled Mosul to Sunni Kurdish areas up north after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) threatened to kill them if they don't convert to Islam or pay tax. Extremists of the al-Qaeda-inspired group began implementing their threats by burning a 1,800 year old church in the city. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says that the persecution of Iraqi Christians who have been driven from their homes in Mosul could constitute a crime against humanity.

3. Unaccompanied children seeking refuge in the United States should be viewed not through an enforcement lens but through a child protection lens. In fact, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has found 58 percent of these children felling violence in their home countries could qualify for international protection as refugees.

4. Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, Archbishop William Lori, Archbishop Thomas Wenski and Bishop Richard J. Malone have voiced concern for the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) which would ignore religious freedom concerns. "To dismiss concerns about religious freedom in a misguided attempt to address unjust discrimination in the workplace is not to advance justice and tolerance. Instead, it stands as an affront to basic human rights and the importance of religion in society .... The U.S. legacy of religious freedom has enabled the Catholic Church and other faith communities to exercise their religious and moral convictions freely and thus contribute to the good of all in society. No good can come from removing this witness from our social life." they wrote July 21 on the USCCBlog. They added that "eliminating truly unjust discrimination – based on personal characteristics, not sexual behavior – and protecting religious freedom are goals that we all should share. The current political climate makes it very difficult to maintain a reasonable dialogue on these contentious issues, but we must keep trying." Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco chairs the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage; Archbishop Lori of Baltimore chairs the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, Archbishop Wenski of Miami chairs the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development and Bishop Malone chairs the bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.
5. God loves you.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Five Things To Remember On July 18

1. Pope Francis spoke with the leaders of Israel and Palestine today in the wake of the latest military conflicts.

2. Catholics are being encouraged to contact government officials to push for peace in the Holy Land.

3. The Catholic Church is absolutely committed to the safety of children. Together we can make a Promise to Protect, and a Pledge to Heal. For more information about our efforts against child abuse and to learn how you can help, speak with your local Safe Environment Coordinator and visit our website at http://www.usccb.org.



4. Sunday is the start of NFP Awareness Week. Learn more about it.

5. God loves you.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Five Things To Remember On July 17

1.Here on the blog, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, Archbishop William Lori, Archbishop Thomas Wenski and Bishop Richard J. Malone write a blog about recent developments with ENDA.

2. Yesterday, the U.S. Senate voted against considering S. 2578, a bill empowering the federal government to override the ReligiousFreedom Restoration Act and other federal conscience laws when it mandates including any "item or service" in health plans.

3. "The Church, by her nature, is missionary. She exists so that every man and woman may encounter Jesus," Pope Francis said on his popular Twitter account today.

4. Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, of Brooklyn, gives a very personal take on the immigration crisis currently happening. His grandfather was an unaccompanied minor.

5. God loves you.

Hobby Lobby and ENDA




By Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, Archbishop William Lori, Archbishop Thomas Wenski and Bishop Richard J. Malone 


The Washington Post reported July 8 that the American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups were no longer supporting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The reason, said the executive director of one of the lead organizations: the Hobby Lobby decision opens the door for private companies to determine that “LGBT people are not equal…and fire them.”

But the Hobby Lobby decision does no such thing. The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court was an application of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which requires that, if the federal government wants to impose a “substantial burden” on the religious exercise of its citizens, it must prove that the burden serves a “compelling government interest” and does so by the means “least restrictive” of religious exercise.

The decision was the Court’s recognition that in the case of the HHS contraceptive mandate the government failed to use the “least restrictive means” of providing coverage for certain contraceptives. The Court deliberately said nothing about whether the government had a “compelling interest” in requiring that coverage. In any event, the current debate about ENDA does not focus on its interplay with RFRA, but instead on whether ENDA itself should have any exemption for religious employers – as all prior versions have – and if so, how broad it should be.

So what is really the matter with ENDA according to these groups?

They argue that ENDA in its current form would leave religious employers free to “discriminate” based on their religious convictions. They argue that religious people cannot “impose” their morality on others. This ignores the fact that these advocates themselves seek to impose their morality on religious people and runs directly counter to the religious diversity that modern societies aspire to.

As Pope Francis wrote: “A healthy pluralism…does not entail privatizing religions in an attempt to reduce them to the quiet obscurity of the individual’s conscience or to relegate them to the enclosed precincts of churches, synagogues or mosques. This would represent, in effect, a new form of discrimination and authoritarianism” (Evangelii Gaudium no. 255).

To dismiss concerns about religious freedom in a misguided attempt to address unjust discrimination in the workplace is not to advance justice and tolerance. Instead, it stands as an affront to basic human rights and the importance of religion in society.

The U.S. legacy of religious freedom has enabled the Catholic Church and other faith communities to exercise their religious and moral convictions freely and thus contribute to the good of all in society. No good can come from removing this witness from our social life.

This also makes a July 8 letter to President Obama about a proposed ENDA executive order rather remarkable: it is from religious leaders who argue against religious freedom protection in ENDA. One would expect these leaders to defend the rights of all people – even those who may disagree with them – to act according to deeply-held religious beliefs and moral convictions about the dignity of the human person and the purpose of human sexuality. Instead, these faith leaders go the opposite direction in the name of “anti-discrimination.”

Indeed, discrimination is already happening to those who advocate for religious liberty protections. Just after the president of evangelical Gordon College signed a coalition letter asking President Obama to include such protections in a proposed ENDA executive order, the college became the subject of review by its higher education accrediting agency.

Unjust discrimination against any one – whether that person experiences same-sex attraction or is of a particular religion – harms us all. But ENDA is simply not a good solution to these problems and, as the Bishops explained last November 7, it should be opposed.

Instead of protecting persons, ENDA uses the force of the law to coerce everyone to accept a deeply problematic understanding of human sexuality and sexual behavior and to condone such behavior. The current proposed ENDA legislation is not about protecting persons, but behavior. Churches, businesses and individuals should not be punished in any way for living by their religious and moral convictions concerning sexual activity.

Eliminating truly unjust discrimination – based on personal characteristics, not sexual behavior – and protecting religious freedom are goals that we all should share. The current political climate makes it very difficult to maintain a reasonable dialogue on these contentious issues, but we must keep trying.

Lobbying for coercive laws that violate freedom will not promote justice in the workplace. Nor will it advance the common good to seek to silence debate about sexual morality. We, like all Americans, wish there was an easy way forward. There is not. But there is an honest one. And it starts with the unflinching commitment to the inherent dignity of every human person, and to the “healthy pluralism” we all wish to share.

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Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco chairs the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore chairs the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami chairs the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development and Bishop Richard J. Malone chairs the bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.




Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Five Things To Remember On July 16




1. Pew Research finds that Catholics in America rate the Church very warmly.

2. Happy 75th anniversary to the Archdiocese of Washington, which celebrates the landmark during the next week.

3. The USCCB's Migration & Refugee Services is the largest refugee resettlement agency in the world. It helps those who are being persecuted start a new life. Learn more in this video.

4. One priest in Iowa has the ears of every Minor League Baseball fan in Sioux City, Iowa thanks to becoming one team's PA announcer.

5. God loves you.