Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

In Michigan, 'rogue decision' blocks longtime state abortion law


Denver Newsroom, May 17, 2022 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

Michigan’s longstanding law against abortion cannot be enforced if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, a state judge said Tuesday in a temporary injunction.

Michigan adopted a law criminalizing abortion as a felony, except when necessary to save the life of the mother, in 1931.

“After 50 years of legal abortion in Michigan, there can be no doubt that the right of personal autonomy and bodily integrity enjoyed by our citizens includes the right of a woman, in consultation with her physician, to terminate a pregnancy,” Court of Claims Judge Elizabeth Gleicher said May 17, issuing a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the state law.

The law has not been enforced since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, but the Michigan Court of Appeals found in 1997 that there is no right to abortion in the state constitution.

According to Gleicher, the right to an abortion is almost certainly guaranteed under the state constitution’s due process provisions that protect bodily integrity, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Critics noted that the judge is a donor to Planned Parenthood and previously represented Planned Parenthood in a failed challenge to precedent upholding the state abortion law.

“The judge engaged in an analysis without any advocacy from the other side, and she was demonstrably wrong in her legal conclusions, drawing on precedent which has absolutely no bearing on pro-life laws,” John Bursch, Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel and former Michigan solicitor general, told journalists on a May 17 phone conference.

“The Michigan court of appeals has already held that this exact same 1931 law is valid under the constitution, in a case where Planned Parenthood sued, and lost, when represented by the very judge who issued today’s opinion,” he added.

“Even more extraordinary, that same judge makes annual contributions to Planned Parenthood, in effect, indirectly subsidizing the very same legislation she is now decided, and has also received an Award as a Planned Parenthood advocate. She should have recused herself from the case, and not participated in it.”

Planned Parenthood of Michigan, represented by the ACLU of Michigan, had filed a lawsuit against Michigan’s attorney general seeking an injunction against the law.

Bonsitu Kitaba, the ACLU affiliate’s assistant legal director, had previously said an injunction would be the best-case scenario for her clients and for Michigan.

Gleicher’s injunction said the law “criminalizes virtually all abortions, and if enforced, will abruptly and completely end the availability of abortion services in Michigan.”

A preliminary injunction advances the public interest and allows the court “to make a full ruling on the merits of the case without subjecting plaintiff and their patients to the impact of a total ban on abortion services in the state,” she said.

Gleicher is a 2007 appointee of Gov. Jennifer Granholm. She is a donor to Planned Parenthood and represented the organization as a volunteer lawyer with the ACLU in a key 1990s abortion case. That case led the Michigan Appeals Court to determine that the state constitution “does not guarantee a right to abortion that is separate and distinct from the federal right,” the Detroit Free Press reports.

When Gleicher disclosed this information, the Michigan Republican Party called on her to recuse herself from the case, but she declined.

Complicating the lawsuit was that Attorney General Dana Nessel agreed that there was a “lack of adversity” and no jurisdiction for the Michigan Court of Claims because she does not intend to enforce the law against abortion. Nessel, a Democrat, does not believe the law is constitutional, but thought the lawsuit should have been dismissed.

Planned Parenthood countered that the attorney general of the state can change.

Bursch said the situation was “extraordinary.”

“This is the kind of mess that you end up with in the court system when the state executive and its attorney general refuse to uphold and defend a law that has been in place since 1931. They may not like it. But no one has the ability to unilaterally ignore, change or encourage the invalidation of Michigan law. They should be working through the democratic process, like anyone else,” he said.

Bursch apologized for initially describing the judge in the case as a “rogue judge,” saying instead “it’s certainly a rogue decision.”

“It’s a rogue decision for someone who is ethically conflicted in hearing the case and lacks jurisdiction to decide the case to nonetheless go ahead and issue an injunction against the attorney general of the state, based on arguments that no one has argued before her in briefing or in oral argument,” he said.

Bursch said the Alliance Defending Freedom legal group had initially been invited to submit arguments, but then was excluded from participating because it wasn’t a party to the case.

“This was all done in secret with parties that agreed on the results. It’s improper, six ways from Sunday,” Bursch said.

Right to Life Michigan and the Michigan Catholic Conference are considering what options they can pursue. The legal complexities of the case could mean seeking appellate review without necessarily intervening as a party.

“We are unquestionably going to take legal action. I would expect such a decision to be announced by the end of the week,” said Bursch, whose legal group represents the two organizations.

Abortion advocacy groups in the state have launched a ballot initiative to override the 1931 law by way of a constitutional amendment.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has filed her own lawsuit which asks the Michigan Supreme Court “to recognize a constitutional right to an abortion under the Due Process Clause of the Michigan Constitution.”

As reason for the lawsuit, she cited a possible decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a pending U.S. Supreme Court case that could alter or abolish precedent mandating legal abortion.

The governor’s lawsuit named as defendants the prosecutors in 13 Michigan counties with abortion clinics. The seven Democratic prosecutors have agreed not to enforce the law, while the six remaining prosecuting attorneys are Republicans.

That lawsuit drew some criticism.

“The right to life for unborn children and its inherent value given by our Creator cannot be reduced to a legal opinion or legislative vote,” Michigan Catholic Conference policy advocate Rebecca Mastee said in an April 7 response to Whitmer’s lawsuit. “While the legality of abortion is contingent upon democratic structures, it is unfortunate that the judicial branch is being used to try to invalidate a longstanding policy approved by elected representatives and left untouched by the Legislature for nearly a century since.”

A 1972 ballot measure in Michigan rejected legalized abortion, Mastee noted.

Whitmer is a staunch backer of abortion. In September 2021, she used a line-item veto to remove from the state budget about $16 million worth of funding for alternatives to abortion, drawing objections from the state’s Catholic conference.

Spanish Jerusalem Bible changes 'fishers of men' to 'fishers of persons'

null / David Ramos / ACI Prensa

Lima, Peru, May 17, 2022 / 17:25 pm (CNA).

The Desclée de Brouwer publishing house, which publishes the Jerusalem Bible, changed the word "man" (“hombre”)  to "person" (“persona”) in its new Spanish edition.

The Jerusalem Bible is among the best known publications of the Bible. It has been published in Spanish since 1967. The first edition was published in French in 1956, and was based on the original Hebrew and Greek texts, not the Latin Vulgate, as are subsequent editions in other modern languages.

The excerpt shared by several Twitter users refers to Matthew 4:19, where Christ says to his disciples: "I will make you fishers of men," which in the new edition says, "I will make you fishers of persons.”

“It doesn't seem right to me, but I think it has the importance that we give it.  If we read Holy Scripture every day, we would have realized long ago that the Jerusalem Bible translation is not the best option,” said Fr. Antonio María Domenech Guillén, a priest of the Diocese of Cuenca.

ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language sister news agency, asked the managing director of the Desclée De Brouwer publishing house, Javier Gogeaskoetxea, about the change in the most recent version of the Jerusalem Bible.

“The change is due to the fact that the Biblical and Archaeological School of Jerusalem seeks above all fidelity to the original texts. It so happens that in the original 'Greek' text the word used does not include gender. Therefore the translation possibilities should not include it either: person or human being”, he explained.

"If I were to put 'man,'” he continued, “we would be lacking in fidelity to the original text because the Greek word is neither man nor woman."

"I understand that there is an attempt to 'polemicize' by attributing  'inclusive' language to the translation. But nothing is further from reality, the reason is fidelity to the original text,” he said.

"The basic rule followed by the Jerusalem Biblical and Archaeological School is that 'the oldest text is always the most truthful.' If the words are now changed to be 'gender-friendly' it has nothing to do with the decision of the Jerusalem Biblical and Archaeological School,” he noted.

"The biblical translations don’t conform to modern times, but rather try to be faithful to the ancient texts," the managing director of the Desclée De Brouwer publishing house concluded.

Father Jesús Silva, a Spanish priest and graduate in Patristic Theology, gave a detailed explanation on Twitter about what would be the best translation of the word ánthropos in the Greek text, first translated in the Jerusalem Bible as “men”, and now as “persons.”

“The term that translates, anthropos, refers to a ‘human being’ regardless of sex. However, the translation as 'persons' has its problems. To what persons was Jesus referring: human, angelic or divine? Well, in the text, thus translated, it is not excluded that Jesus is calling the disciples to evangelize the angels or God himself," the priest said.

Fr. Silva then said that “since 'persons' is an ambiguous term, we will have to look for another that is not. We can then translate it as 'human persons' or 'human beings.' In turn, this translation is equivocal, since, what makes a human human?”

“Let's put that it’s 'a rational being', as the RAE (Royal Academy of the Spanish Language) says. However, if intelligent aliens exist, it remains to be seen whether the term 'human' can be applied to them or not. As long as this is not clarified, the concept of human persons is also equivocal.”

“Perhaps the most appropriate translation,” the priest further mused, “whenever we want to avoid translating the word ánthropos as 'man' – could be 'earthling'; although according to the RAE, any inhabitant of the earth is one, for which it should rather be said 'fishers of human earthlings.'”

But as for the term “human,” Fr. Silva noted that the RAE defines it as "'proper to man.' That is to say, that literally speaking, what is human is what is proper to man (sic): men earthlings. But what does 'man' mean?

“The RAE comes to our aid again. The word 'man' means 'rational animate being, male or female.' Let’s therefore say that with the word 'anthropos' Jesus wanted to tell the Twelve that they would be 'fishers of rational animated beings, male or female.'”

So then, the priest summed up, “with that circumlocution that’s so correct, to avoid misunderstandings that occur with words like 'person,' 'human being' or 'human earthling,' and adopting the principle of the economy of language, we could translate the word ánthropos as 'man', which includes all of the above.”

To conclude, Fr. Silva proposed that "in this new translation of the Bible, more adapted to our time, and guided by a principle of inclusion, as well as fidelity to the text and the intention of Jesus, let us translate the phrase in a new way as 'I will make you fishers of men.' You’re welcome.”

Cardinal Zen may be in Hong Kong court next week

Cardinal Joseph Zen. / Yung Chi Wai Derek/Shutterstock.

Denver Newsroom, May 17, 2022 / 16:15 pm (CNA).

Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun is scheduled to appear in court May 24, according to a report by the British daily The Guardian.

“A source close to him said the cardinal was set to appear in court on 24 May, adding it was possible that he would be further detained, should charges be laid,” Sum Lok-kei wrote in a May 16 article in The Guardian.

Cardinal Zen was arrested May 11 under China’s national security law with at least four others for his role as a trustee of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, which helped pro-democracy protesters in the special administrative region of Hong Kong to pay their legal fees.

He was released on bail later that day.

Cardinal Zen, who was Bishop of Hong Kong from 2002 to 2009, has long advocated for underground Catholics in mainland China.

Bishop Malloy of Rockford, chair of the U.S. bishops’ international justice and peace committee, said May 12 that the cardinal’s arrest “indicates the downward trend in respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights in Hong Kong.”

The president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ conferences, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, expressed May 14 “profound concern about the situation for human rights and threats to religious freedom in Hong Kong” in light of Cardinal Zen’s arrest.

While Hong Kong, a British colony until 1997, “used to be one of Asia’s freest and most open cities,” it is now “transformed into a police state,” Cardinal Bo said, noting that freedoms of expression, press, and assembly “have all been dismantled.” He added there are signs that religious freedom “is threatened” and that religious leaders are self-censoring.

“To see a government in China break its promises made in an international treaty, the Sino-British Joint Declaration, so repeatedly and blatantly, is appalling.”

Regarding the supposed crimes of Cardinal Zen, the Burmese cardinal said: “In any system where the rule of law exists, providing assistance to people facing prosecution meet their legal fees is a proper and accepted right. How can it be a crime to help accused persons have legal defence and representation?”

Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, wrote May 13 that since the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and massacre, “the Chinese Communist Party’s appalling human rights record and repression of political freedoms have only worsened.”

In an opinion piece at The Washington Post, the California Democrat called Cardinal Zen “a critical voice of conscience: an embodiment of moral fortitude, who has been a constant presence as Hong Kong has led a decades-long pursuit of the freedoms promised with the handover from British rule.”

She too noted China’s failure to uphold the terms of Hong Kong’s handover: “Nearly 25 years later, China’s pledges have been utterly abandoned. Any pretense that Hong Kong’s rights would be respected has been shattered by violence and intimidation.”

The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, told journalists May 12 his “most concrete hope is that initiatives like this cannot complicate the already complex and not simple path of dialogue between the Holy See and the Church in China.”

Philly archbishop condemns 'mortal sin of racism' after Buffalo shooting

Mourners light candles at a makeshift memorial outside of Tops market on May 16, 2022 in Buffalo, New York. A gunman opened fire at the store yesterday killing ten people and wounding another three. The attack was believed to be motivated by racial hatred. / Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Denver Newsroom, May 17, 2022 / 15:39 pm (CNA).

Archbishop Nelson Perez of Philadelphia said on Tuesday that the recent mass shooting in Buffalo, New York is a reminder of the continuing “mortal sin of racism.”

A gunman killed 10 Black people on May 14 at a supermarket. Another three persons were injured in the shooting.

The archbishop called the incident “another painful reminder that the mortal sin of racism has not been eradicated in this country. We must continue our work to stamp it out. All lives are gifts from God designed to share their unique gifts with those around them. Tragically, these gifts were violently ripped away from families, friends, and a community that is now struggling with deep grief.”

“I pray that God will comfort those whose hearts have been broken and that He will embolden and strengthen all of us to build and defend a culture of love and respect for all of our brothers and sisters,” he said.

He juxtaposed the shooting with a Concert for Unity sponsored by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s racial healing commission: “It featured a unified choir of over 100 gifted individuals from diverse racial and ethnic communities praising God with one voice along with shared reflections and bold statements condemning the sin of racism.”

The Knights of Peter Claver, the largest historically African-American Catholic lay organization in the U.S., has also responded to the shooting.

“We pray for all victims and survivors impacted by the sin of racism. We must even pray that those entrapped by this sinful nature, be released from its oppressing hand,” the fraternity said in a May 16 statement. 

“While the vast majority easily see and understand how horrific this act of evilness is, too few acknowledge and accept the everyday contributing factors that keep leading to these tragic outcomes.”

The Knights of Peter Claver said racism is neither pro-life nor Christian, and “is not of God. Racism and hatred are tools used by the Devil in an attempt to separate the People of God from His Love. God did not create us to be superior or inferior; nor master or slave to one another. He created us in his image and likeness to love and be loved by one another.”


“We condemn the evil and racist attacks that occurred in last week’s shooting of innocent Black Americans simply buying groceries. We pray for unity, love, peace, and understanding.  We condemn the thoughts and ideologies that encourage horrific and sinful actions against God’s children. We pray that God’s unconditional, unquestionable, and unending love fill our hearts - replacing any and all dehumanizing thoughts and actions that disrespects the sanctity of life and the love we should have for one another. We condemn all harmful and hateful racist thoughts and actions.”

Authorities called the shooting a racially motivated hate crime and said that the gunman specifically targeted the store because it is located in a predominantly Black neighborhood. Eleven of those shot were Black, while the other two victims were white.

The gunman in Buffalo surrendered to police at the scene. The suspect, 18-year-old Payton S. Gendron of Conklin, New York, more than 200 miles from Buffalo, was taken into custody and charged with first-degree murder.

The gunman is believed to have posted a manifesto online in which he expressed racist, anti-immigrant views and claimed that white Americans were at risk of being replaced by people of color.

NJ bishops express 'outrage' over plan to mandate insurance coverage for abortion

Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey. / JStone/Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 17, 2022 / 14:55 pm (CNA).

New Jersey’s Catholic bishops on Thursday expressed their disappointment with a proposal by Governor Phil Murphy to expand abortion access in the state, which already recognizes abortion as a constitutional right.

“The Catholic Bishops of New Jersey join to express our disappointment and outrage over Governor Murphy’s announcement regarding proposed legislation to expand access to abortion in New Jersey, an act that by its very nature terminates human life,” the bishops' May 12 statement says. 

“This proposed legislation is a direct attack on the dignity and sanctity of life and is further evidence that we have failed as a society when a mother feels her only option is to end the life of her child,” the statement says.

The proposed legislation, announced in a May 11 press conference by Murphy, a Democrat, would mandate that health insurance plans fully cover abortion; codify regulations allowing non-physicians to perform abortions; and dedicating more taxpayer funds to abortion.

The bill would also protect “medical providers and patients who provide or receive abortion care in New Jersey from legal actions initiated by states which have outlawed abortion,” Murphy said.

Murphy said New Jersey would not be “cooperating with any out of state investigation into our healthcare providers…that seek to punish anyone: patient, provider, counselor, friend, Uber driver, you name it, for providing abortion care.”

CNA contacted Murphy’s office for clarification on which states and laws he is referring to, but a spokesperson was not immediately available for comment by time of publication.

“Ironically,” the bishops’ letter says, “New Jersey already has some of the most permissive abortion laws in the United States and continues to provide abortion providers tens of millions of dollars in public funds to perform these services.”

The letter, signed by the heads of the state’s five Latin rite dioceses and its two Eastern Catholic eparchies, continues: “New Jersey continues to rank among the top three states in annual abortion procedures nationwide. For these reasons it is incomprehensible to force health insurance providers in New Jersey to cover 100 percent of the cost to expand access to these abhorrent services.”

The bishops wrote that the “Catholic Church is committed to opposing this legislation, but more importantly we stand ready to broaden and increase awareness about the abundant resources and programs we offer from pregnancy and foster care centers to clothing, food, housing services, adoption agencies, family resource centers, and national programs.”

The bishops highlighted Walking with Moms in Need, an initiative of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities which supports pregnant women and pregnancy resource centers through parish life. 

“We promise to assist and stand by every mother and family facing a difficult and unplanned pregnancy,” they concluded.

Exorcists feel isolated — but this course aims to change that

null / 2happy / Shutterstock.

Rome, Italy, May 17, 2022 / 10:35 am (CNA).

Researchers for the first time are collecting data on the ministry of exorcism. Initial interviews show that many exorcists feel isolated. But a long-running course in Rome is trying to change that.

Father Luis Ramirez, an organizer of the course being held this year on May 16-20, told CNA: “Let’s say that until 30 years ago the exorcist usually worked almost alone, that is, he worked with two or three people.”

Now, the priest said, “there is much greater knowledge that the exorcist must have a team, he must also have support. He has to have a team that can help.”

Ramirez is one of the organizers of an annual week-long course on the ministry of exorcism and prayers of liberation for exorcists and those who assist them, put on by the Sacerdos Institute and the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, a Catholic university run by the Legionaries of Christ.

The exorcism course’s 16th edition is taking place in Rome this week, with the participation of around 120 people, most of whom come from countries outside Italy, including the United States, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Spain, and Nigeria. Attendance is down only slightly from 2019, the last in-person event before the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis.

While only a priest can perform the rite of exorcism, laypeople often assist at the rite with prayers. When someone is believed to be having trouble with demonic oppression or possession, psychologists or other medical professionals may also be called in to perform examinations, to rule out natural causes for disturbances.

Researchers from GRIS, an Italian socio-religious research group, have been studying the ministry of exorcists in the Church, including “mapping” their presence — or lack of it — in Catholic dioceses.

On May 16, they presented some of their early findings, while highlighting that “exorcism is a sensitive topic which creates difficulties” for research.

Initial findings in interviews with exorcist priests, they said, showed “conditions of isolation.”

“There are complaints of a certain lack of support or communication from dioceses and/or other priests. The isolation of the exorcist affects the ways in which the afflicted people are supported,” the presentation said.

The presence of stable diocesan staff as support was missed, and there were additional challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The major difficulties perceived come not from the ministry itself, but from the material conditions of its performance,” researchers said. These difficulties included not having sufficient time to listen to everyone who approaches them, especially when an exorcist also has other priestly duties in a parish.

The interviewed priests also identified a lack of an internal network of exorcists providing guidance and advice — something the Rome exorcism course is also trying to combat.

In addition to professional formation on theological and sacramental topics related to exorcism ministry, the course now includes a two-hour lunch break.

“Eating all together, there’s the opportunity to share experiences and to know another priest who maybe has more experience, getting the contact,” Father Ramirez said.

He noted that since the first course they ran 16 years ago, every year it has grown and grown.

“So here we realized that there was really a great interest,” he said.

Senior German priest leaves Catholic Church

Andreas Sturm, the former vicar general of the German Diocese of Speyer. / Bistum Speyer via Wikimedia (CC BY 4.0).

Speyer, Germany, May 17, 2022 / 08:10 am (CNA).

A senior German priest has announced that he is no longer Catholic, citing his disappointment over a lack of “reforms” in the Church and admitting to having broken his promise of celibacy.

Andreas Sturm, the former vicar general of the Diocese of Speyer in southwestern Germany, made the announcement on May 13, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.

Sturm, who is joining Germany’s Old Catholic community, said that he had “lost hope and confidence over the years that the Roman Catholic Church can truly transform itself.”

“At the same time, I experience how much hope is placed in ongoing processes such as the Synodal Way. But I’m no longer in a position to also proclaim and honestly and sincerely share that hope, because I simply don’t have it anymore.”

The former vicar general described the ordination of women to the priesthood, as well as “the abolition of compulsory celibacy, dealing with queer people, co-determination of the laity, blessing ceremonies for homosexuals and overall sexual morality in the Church,” as the most important topics that he believed were not being addressed.

Participants in the German “Synodal Way” have voted in favor of draft texts calling for same-sex blessings and changes to the Catechism on homosexuality, as well as women priests.

Admitting in an interview to having broken the promise of celibacy, Sturm told the local newspaper Mannheimer Morgen that he had long doubted whether the Catholic Church was “a good fit for me,” even in seminary and as a pastor.

“But in the office of vicar general, it was easier for me to ponder these doubts and think about quitting,” said Sturm, who led the Speyer diocese for several months during the prolonged absence of its bishop for health reasons.

In a number of interviews with German newspapers, Sturm said that he was launching a book about his experience. The title of the publication, scheduled for release in June, is “I have to get out of this Church,” with the subtitle “Because I want to remain a human being. A vicar general speaks out.”

According to a press release by the publisher Herder, Sturm said: “For me, there was only ever the Roman Catholic Church and my life in it and with it. In the meantime, I have been asking myself for some time whether I am not also co-dependent. Co-dependent on this Church. This image with co-dependency came to my mind because people write to me over and over again: ‘Because of you, I’m not leaving the Church.’ But do I want to?”

Old Catholics belong to a movement originating primarily in the Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland, consisting of Catholics who were excommunicated over their refusal to acknowledge papal authority in dogmatic matters following the First Vatican Council. In Old Catholic communities, women can be ordained, remarriage after divorce is possible, and homosexual unions are blessed.

Sturm is not the only prominent German Catholic figure to gravitate to the Old Catholics.

Another notable case is that of Anselm Bilgri, the former prior of the Bavarian abbey of Andechs. The ex-Benedictine monk made headlines in Germany on May 17 over claims that Pope Francis had dismissed him from the clerical state for reportedly conducting Catholic weddings and baptisms, despite having left the Church and joined the Old Catholics in 2020.

Speaking to the German tabloid Bild, Bilgri accused the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising of having “snitched” on him and said that the pope had “punitively dismissed” him from the clergy for “persisting in Church schism.”

Frank Ewerszumrode, a former Dominican friar, joined the Old Catholics several months ago. He previously taught Catholic theology at various colleges and universities. Like Bilgri, Ewerszumrode is openly homosexual, CNA Deutsch reported.

Matthias Ring, who serves as bishop of the Old Catholics in Germany, said in April that there had been a general uptick in interest among German Catholics, according to, a website funded and run by the German bishops’ conference.

There were an estimated 15,500 Old Catholics within the community’s single German diocese in 2017.

Cardinal Martini was a ‘prophet,’ says Vatican cardinal

Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, S.J. (1927-2012). / Mafon1959 via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Milan, Italy, May 17, 2022 / 05:47 am (CNA).

Vatican Cardinal Michael Czerny on Monday described the late Italian Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini as a “prophet.”

Czerny, the prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, said that the controversial Jesuit theologian anticipated recent developments in the Catholic Church.

Martini, a renowned biblical scholar, was described by the New York Times as one of the Catholic Church’s “most influential progressive thinkers” and a “possible successor to Pope John Paul II,” with whom he had contrasting views on the direction of the Church.

Martini, who led the Milan archdiocese from 1979 to 2002, declared in an interview shortly before his death in 2012 that “the Church is 200 years behind the times.”

Speaking in Milan on May 16, Cardinal Czerny said: “Many already appreciated him while he was among you, not without misunderstandings, uncertainties, and opposition.”

“Now we all understand him better, recognizing how his visions and the priorities of his pastoral governance — I would also like to say his style of listening, praying, and living — anticipated paths that finally involve the universal Church.”

Cardinal Michael Czerny has been appointed as the new prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. Pablo Esparza/CNA.
Cardinal Michael Czerny has been appointed as the new prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. Pablo Esparza/CNA.

Czerny’s remarks were reported by Vatican News, the Holy See’s online news portal, which said that the Canadian Jesuit spoke at the launch of the sixth volume of Martini’s complete works.

The book is called “Farsi prossimo” (“Draw near”), the title of a pastoral letter Martini wrote to Milan’s Catholics. The letter led to a diocesan convention in 1986, which Czerny linked to the global synodal process launched by Pope Francis.

Pope Francis has referred to Martini several times since his election in 2013.

In a 2013 address to the Carlo Maria Martini Foundation, he described the cardinal as “a prophet of peace” and “a father in the Church, not only for his diocese, but for countless people.”

The pope recalled Martini’s final interview in a speech to the Roman Curia in 2019.

He said: “Cardinal Martini, in his last interview, a few days before his death, said something that should make us think: ‘The Church is 200 years behind the times. Why is she not shaken up? Are we afraid? Fear, instead of courage? Yet faith is the Church’s foundation. Faith, confidence, courage… Only love conquers weariness.’”

In his speech in Milan, Cardinal Czerny said that Martini “did what the [Second Vatican] Council asked of him, an event that in his youth, as in Pope Francis’, represented an evangelical springtime.”

US Catholic bishops call for ‘honest dialogue’ on ‘persistent evil of racism’ after mass shootings

Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York, was the scene of a mass shooting on May 14, 2022. / Andre Carrotflower via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Washington D.C., May 17, 2022 / 05:17 am (CNA).

The U.S. Catholic bishops appealed on Monday for “an honest dialogue rooted in Christ” about the “persistent evil of racism” after two mass shootings.

In a May 16 statement, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said that it continued to “advocate for an end to violence,” citing the Church’s consistent appeals for “rational yet effective forms of regulation of dangerous weapons.”

The USCCB issued the statement after a gunman killed 10 people and injured three others on May 14 at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and a shooter killed one person and wounded five others on May 15 at a church in Laguna Woods, California.

Authorities called the mass shooting in Buffalo a racially motivated hate crime and said that the gunman specifically targeted the store because it is located in a predominantly Black neighborhood. Eleven of those shot were Black, while the other two victims were white.

“The U.S. bishops join with others throughout the country in offering prayers for the support and healing of the families, friends, and communities of those impacted by these violent incidents,” said the statement from the USCCB’s public affairs director Chieko Noguchi.

“We pray especially for those who were injured and particularly for those who lost their lives. We pray also for those on the front lines who risk their lives in responding to the calls for help, and to those in the medical fields who minister to those who have been harmed.”

The statement went on: “The bishops again call for an honest dialogue rooted in Christ in addressing the persistent evil of racism in our country. The Catholic Church has been a consistent voice for rational yet effective forms of regulation of dangerous weapons, and the USCCB continues to advocate for an end to violence, and for the respect and dignity of all lives.”

“We pray for and support the healing of the communities impacted and for all the victims of violence and that Christ’s peace be upon all affected.”

The gunman in Buffalo surrendered to police at the scene. The suspect, 18-year-old Payton S. Gendron of Conklin, New York, was taken into custody and charged with first-degree murder.

The gunman is believed to have posted a manifesto online in which he expressed racist, anti-immigrant views and claimed that white Americans were at risk of being replaced by people of color.

The congregation at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods overpowered and tied up the shooter. The suspect, 68-year-old David Chou of Las Vegas, was taken custody and charged with one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder.

The Geneva Presbyterian Church hosts the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church’s Sunday services.

Don Barnes, the Orange County sheriff, said the attack was motivated by a grievance between Chou, a Chinese immigrant and U.S. citizen, and the Taiwanese community, the Washington Post reported.

China views Taiwan, an island nation in East Asia, as a breakaway province. Chinese President Xi Jinping said in October 2021 that he would seek “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan.

Medical expert debunks false claims of Planned Parenthood about abortion in El Salvador 

Credit: Syda Productions/Shutterstock. / null

San Salvador, El Salvador, May 16, 2022 / 17:30 pm (CNA).

A Salvadoran medical expert has debunked the false claims about abortion in El Salvador made by a former journalist now working for Planned Parenthood. 

In a statement to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language sister news agency, Dr. José Miguel Fortín-Magaña Leiva, a psychiatrist and former Director General of the Dr. Roberto Masferrer Institute of Forensic Medicine of El Salvador, said that Kate Smith, a former CBS News reporter who a few weeks ago became Planned Parenthood’s new senior director of news content, “is at best absolutely mistaken when she claims that in El Salvador women are imprisoned and harassed for induced abortions.”

"But even worse," he continued, Smith is wrong in stating "that those who have suffered a miscarriage are also prosecuted and imprisoned by an infamous law."

Abortion in El Salvador is completely prohibited, and the country’s constitution recognizes "every human being as a human person from the moment of conception."

The Penal Code of El Salvador establishes a prison sentences from 2 to 8 years for anyone who undergoes or performs an abortion in the country.

Kate Smith assumed the management position at Planned Parenthood in April after working for more than three years at CBS News.

The job change came two years after a National Review article called Kate Smith the "CBS News Ambassador for Planned Parenthood."

In a recent interview with CNN, Smith referred to a documentary she made for CBS News in 2020 about El Salvador to predict what the United States would look like if Roe v. Wade were overturned, which a draft majority opinion leaked weeks ago suggests will happen.

Planned Parenthood's director of news content said last Friday that "when we went to El Salvador, what we saw is that all those things that these doctors and politicians had warned us about were happening in real time on the ground."

In her report for CBS News, Smith said that since 1998 more than 140 women have been accused of having abortions and ended up in prison with sentences of up to 35 years.

"They wake up and they're shackled to the hospital bed and there was a police officer there investigating them," she said.

“Doctors told me when they are looking at a patient, there is no way for them to tell the difference between an induced abortion and a spontaneous miscarriage,” Smith reported.

For the new Planned Parenthood director, “all of these things that we say might happen if abortion gets banned, if abortion becomes illegal, they do happen.”

However, for Fortín-Magaña "the only logical explanation" for what Smith says "is that what she said is a lie for the propaganda purposes of the organization she works for today."

“As former director of the Institute of Forensic Medicine and as a doctor, I can assure you that the foregoing is totally false,” he said, pointing out that as short as the sentences are that are given in abortion cases, “it can be for community service instead; and therefore there’s not a single case of women imprisoned for that reason.”

The Institute of Forensic Medicine is an organ of the Salvadoran judicial system that, as the doctor explains on his website, "contributes technically and scientifically to the administration of justice."

The psychiatrist stressed that these are "different" cases than those of women who "committed aggravated homicide" and "murdered their child, once it had been born by the natural process."

The crimes in question, he pointed out, were committed "by suffocation, strangulation, striking with a rock, drowning, or simply abandonment."

Fortín-Magaña lamented that "El Salvador is a country full of problems and violence, where the law is often applied unfairly, especially in favor of groups with political power."

"But it would be absolutely unfair to say that what Ms. Smith says is true, because it’s not," the medical expert said.

“She’s promoting an industry that exploits women”

For Julia Regina de Cardenal, president of the Yes to Life Foundation in El Salvador, “it’s not surprising that a pro-abortion activist lies to try to convince you that she’s defending women when in reality she is promoting an industry that exploits pregnant women in dire straits that need support, not violence and death.”

The Salvadoran pro-life leader stressed that in reality "in El Salvador there’s not a single woman imprisoned for induced abortion, because women found guilty are sentenced to community service."

"The women she says are supposedly imprisoned for 'miscarriages’ and ‘obstetrical problems’ were actually convicted of aggravated homicide of their newborn babies,” de Cardenal said.

“Forensic evidence shows that the full term babies were strangled, stabbed, struck with a rock, had their necks broken, suffocated in septic tanks or inside plastic bags, etc. None of these cases have to do with abortions much less miscarriages. They were infanticides,” she stated.

The Yes to Life Foundation president pointed out that "these women are being released because they were pardoned, not for lack of evidence" and that "maternal mortality has been drastically reduced in El Salvador since the legislation in El Salvador was changed in favor of life.”

“Saying that Salvadoran ‘doctors’ told her that patients died because they couldn’t get an abortion is the same argument used by abortion promoters around the world,” she said.

“Blatantly lying”

Sara Larín, founder of the Life El Salvador platform, said that "Smith is blatantly lying" when she "asserts that there are 140 Salvadoran women accused of abortion."

"According to official statistics from the Office of Access to Public Information of the Attorney General's Office, from 2013 to date there are no women serving jail time for the crime of abortion."

"This is so because the penalties for abortion are minor and community service can be performed instead," she said.

“Smith is actually talking about 140 women sentenced to 30 years in prison because it’s the minimum sentence given for crimes of aggravated homicide,” she said.

Larín noted the case of “María de los Ángeles Portillo, who murdered her daughter by suffocating her with a sock; or the recent case of Evelyn Sánchez, who stabbed her newborn baby in the chest.”

Larín said that “a serious journalist would ask to read all the evidence for the sentences and would find that none of these cases were miscarriages. However, Smith confined herself to speaking for pro-abortion organizations in El Salvador that receive funding from Planned Parenthood.”