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Survey: Catholics, like fellow Americans, favor abortion restrictions

CNA Staff, Sep 22, 2020 / 03:00 pm (CNA).-  

The vast majority of Catholic likely voters – more than 8 in 10 – favor restrictions on abortion, a new poll released this week has found.

Only 15% of those surveyed said abortion should be permitted at any time in a pregnancy. The same percentage said abortion should never be permitted.

Eight percent said abortion should only be allowed in the first six months of a pregnancy, while 21% favored limiting the procedure to the first three months of a pregnancy. Thirty-one percent said abortion should only be permitted in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. Nine percent said it should only be allowed to save the life of the mother.

The poll, conducted Aug. 27 - Sept. 1 by RealClear Opinion Research in partnership with EWTN News, surveyed 1,212 likely voters who self-identify as Catholic.

The findings among Catholics are consistent with surveys showing that the majority of Americans support restrictions on abortion.

A January 2020 Marist Poll sponsored by the Knights of Columbus found that 70% of Americans favored banning abortion after three months of pregnancy, at the latest. Almost half of those who labeled themselves as pro-choice said abortion should be limited to the first three months of pregnancy, at most.

The majority of Catholic likely voters in the RealClear poll – 59% – said they are concerned about the issue of abortion as they consider the upcoming presidential election, with 30% identifying the issue as a “major concern.” Among weekly Massgoers, 70% said they were concerned about abortion, with 41% saying it is a topic of “major concern.”

Twenty-two percent of survey respondents said they were more likely to support a candidate for public office if that candidate supports abortion, while 30% said they were less likely to support a candidate who supports abortion.

Forty-three percent of weekly Mass attendees said they were less likely to support a candidate who supports abortion, compared to 26% of those who attend Mass monthly to yearly, and 18% of those who attend Mass less than once a year.

 

US bishops to Trump: 'Enough. Stop these executions'  

CNA Staff, Sep 22, 2020 / 02:45 pm (CNA).-  

The Catholic bishops of the United States on Tuesday implored President Donald Trump to halt two federal executions set to take place this week.

“We say to President Trump and Attorney General Barr: Enough. Stop these executions.” 

“After the first murder recorded in the Bible, God did not end Cain’s life, but rather preserved it, warning others not to kill Cain (Gn. 4:15). As the Church, we must give concrete help to victims of violence, and we must encourage the rehabilitation and restoration of those who commit violence,” the bishops wrote in a statement Sept. 22.

“Accountability and legitimate punishment are a part of this process. Responsibility for harm is necessary if healing is to occur and can be instrumental in protecting society, but executions are completely unnecessary and unacceptable, as Popes St. John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis have all articulated.”

The statement was signed by Archbishop Paul Coakley, chair of the bishops’ domestic policy committee, and Archbishop Joseph Naumann, chair of the pro-life committee.

Naumann, whose own father was murdered, said earlier this month: “Murder is an unspeakable evil. Those who perpetrate such a crime have inflicted a grave injustice, not only upon the person who was murdered but also upon all their loved ones.”

“The criminal justice system has a responsibility to protect the innocent from victimization and to deter the commission of violent crimes. However. in the United States in 2020, we have the ability to protect society from violent criminals without resorting to the death penalty.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the death penalty as “inadmissible,” citing increasing effectiveness of detention systems, the unchanging dignity of the person, and the importance of leaving open the possibility of conversion.

William LeCroy is set to be executed Sept. 22, while Christopher Vialva’s execution is set for Sept. 24, both by lethal injection. The executions will be the sixth and seventh to take place in the last three months alone.

LeCroy was convicted of raping and killling a nurse in 2001; Vialva was convicted of killing two youth ministers in 1999, who reportedly prayed, spoke about God, and pleaded for their lives as Vialva murdered them.

Attorney General William Barr, a Catholic, during July 2019 announced that executions of federal death-row inmates would resume for the first time since 2003.

The U.S. bishops’ conference has repeatedly condemned the executions, as has Archbishop Charles Thompson of Indianapolis, whose diocese includes the federal prison in Terre Haute, where federal executions take place.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic and several legal challenges delayed the resumption, the federal government resumed executions during July 2020 after the Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

On July 7 of this year, several U.S. bishops joined a statement of more than 1,000 faith leaders opposing the resumption of federal executions.

Federal executions are rare, but the bishops noted that there have been more federal executions carried out already in 2020— five— than were carried out in the last sixty years.

One of the most recent federal executions was that of Lezmond Mitchell, a Navajo man whose tribe objected, asking that his sentence be commuted to life in prison. Bishop James Wall of Gallup led a virtual prayer vigil on the afternoon of Aug. 26 ahead of Mitchell’s execution.

President Donald Trump has defended the use of the death penalty and has claimed that his support of the death penalty did not impact his pro-life credentials.

Attorney General Barr is set to be honored at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast on Sept. 23. 

 

Poll: Catholics overwhelmingly concerned about church attacks, oppose ‘defund the police’

CNA Staff, Sep 22, 2020 / 01:40 pm (CNA).-  

Eighty-three percent of Catholic likely voters are concerned about attacks on churches in recent months, a new poll has found.
 
The poll, conducted Aug. 27 - Sept. 1 by RealClear Opinion Research in partnership with EWTN News, surveyed 1,212 likely voters who self-identify as Catholic.

More than 60% of those surveyed said they were “very concerned” about recent vandalism and attacks on churches, and another 22% said they were “somewhat concerned.” Just 11% said they were either not very concerned or not at all concerned by the recent church attacks.

Recent months have seen numerous acts of vandalism and destruction at Catholic churches across the United States, including arsons and graffiti.

In July, a man crashed a minivan into a Florida Catholic church and then started a fire inside the building.

In Los Angeles, San Gabriel Mission church, founded by St. Junipero Serra, also burned in a fire being investigated for arson. Numerous statues of the saint have been vandalized or destroyed, most of them in California.

Several other churches across the country have been set aflame, and statues of Jesus or Mary have been toppled or decapitated.

While some attacks on statues have been committed by large groups with clear political affiliations, the perpetrators of other acts have not been identified.

Some commenters see the attacks against churches as part of a worrying rise in anti-Christian views.

More than 3 in 4 Catholics surveyed were concerned about anti-Christian sentiment amid recent social protests.

A little more than half of those surveyed said they were “very concerned” by the anti-Christian sentiment, and an additional quarter said they were “somewhat concerned.” Thirteen percent said they had little or no concern.

Nearly three-quarters of Catholics surveyed also voiced concern about vandalism of Catholic statues and burning of bibles at some recent protests.

More than 80% of Catholics who say they accept all or most of Church teaching said they were concerned about the acts of violence against statues, compared to just over half of those whos say their Catholic faith has little to no influence in their lives.

The survey comes amid ongoing protests against instances of police brutality and racism across the U.S. In some cases, demonstrators have become violent, including by attacking police officers. Law-and-order, police reform, and systemic racism have become major topics of discussion in the upcoming election.

An overwhelming majority – 82% of those surveyed – said they have at least some trust in their local police department to protect the interests of their family.

Older respondents were more likely to trust the police department than young adults, and white participants voiced higher levels of trust than Black and Hispanic participants, although all age ranges and racial groups saw more than 60% saying they trust the police.

Only 1 in 3 Catholics surveyed said they support “defund the police” initiatives, intended to shift funding from police departments to other social services.

Men were more likely to support defunding the police than women were, and young adults were more likely to support the initiatives than older people were.

Just 29% of white respondents supported “defund the police” initiatives, compared to 48% of Black respondents and 41% of Hispanics.

Fifty-three percent of poll participants said Catholics should be doing more to heal divisions in America on race, compared to 19% who said Catholics should not be more active on this issue, and 28% who were unsure.
 

 

Trump to UN: Protect the unborn and religious minorities

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 22, 2020 / 11:00 am (CNA).- President Trump told world leaders that the United States is committed to “protecting unborn children” in remarks to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) from the White House on Tuesday.

“America will always be a leader in human rights,” Trump said in his speech to the UNGA from the White House. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, world leaders were invited to deliver their speeches to the assembly remotely, and they were then broadcast as “live.”

“My administration is advancing religious liberty, opportunity for women, the decriminalization of homosexuality, combatting human trafficking, and protecting unborn children,” the president said.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations.

Trump previously raised the defence of the unborn in his 2019 address to the UNGA, saying that “like many nations here today, we in America believe that every child, born and unborn, is a sacred gift from God.”

Trump’s administration has sought to redirect U.S. foreign assistance away from foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that provide or promote abortions, under the Mexico City Policy

While the Mexico City Policy applied to about $600 million in USAID family planning assistance, the administration expanded it to include billions of dollars in global health assistance and is now seeking to apply its conditions to military and government contracts with foreign NGOs.

The administration stopped funding the UN’s population fund (UNFPA) because of its partnership with China, where the Communist government’s two-child policy is enforced through forced abortion and sterilization. It also reduced funding for the Organization of American States after one of its organs apparently lobbied for abortion.

Trump’s remarks echoed those of the Holy See, also given at the UN this week.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, addressed a high-level meeting at the UNGA on Monday, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the UN.

“The UN has strived to champion universal human rights, which also include the right to life and freedom of religion, as they are essential for the much needed promotion of a world where the dignity of every human person is protected and advanced,” he stated.

On Tuesday, Trump also called on the UN to “focus on the real problems of the world,” which he said included “human and sex trafficking, religious persecution, and the ethnic cleansing of religious minorities.”

Trump also used his address to criticize China for its response to the new coronavirus pandemic, as well as its pollution of oceans and high rate of carbon emissions.

Although Trump criticized China and called on the UN to attend to religious persecution, he did not mention China’s mass imprisonment of an estimated 800,000 to 1.8 million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in its northwest region.

The largely-Muslim ethnic population has reportedly been subject to forced birth control and sterilization, repression of religious practice, mass surveillance, and forced labor, and detainees have suffered indoctrination and torture.

Trump also defended the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, saying that the country reduced its carbon emissions more than any other country in the accord last year.

Pope Francis in his 2015 speech at the UNGA, praised the Paris agreement as a step that could “secure fundamental and effective agreements” to protect the environment.

Who is potential Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett? What you need to know.

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 22, 2020 / 08:00 am (CNA).- Following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on September 18, speculation on who President Donald Trump will nominate to replace her has focused on Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who currently serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. 

Who is Amy Coney Barrett? Here's what you need to know:

Dogma lives loudly

Barrett first rose to prominence during her confirmation hearing in September 2017, when Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) questioned her on her Catholic faith. 

“Why is it that so many of us on this side have this very uncomfortable feeling that dogma and law are two different things, and I think whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different,” Feinstein said at the time.

“And I think in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern,” said Feinstein.

The California senator’s questioning of Barrett raised the Notre Dame Law School professor to a national figure. Just over two weeks after she was confirmed to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, she was added to President Donald Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court picks, and was rumored to have been one of the finalists to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy upon his retirement.

Trump chose Justice Brett Kavanaugh at that point, and a report emerged in 2019 that Trump had said he was “saving” Barrett to fill a potential vacancy caused by the death or retirement of Justice Ginsburg, the oldest member of the court at the time. With Ginsburg’s death, Barrett is once again being discussed for the highest court in the country. 

Personal life

Born in New Orleans, the eldest of seven children, she graduated from Rhodes College before receiving a full scholarship to Notre Dame Law School. After graduating first in her class from law school, and then clerked for Judge Laurence Silberman and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, before going into private practice. She returned to Notre Dame Law School and taught classes in 2002 before becoming a professor in 2010. 

Since Ginsburg’s death, Barrett has been scrutinized for her Catholic faith and family size. Barrett and her husband have seven children, including two adopted from Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. 

Catholic faith

At the time of her last judicial nomination, criticism of Barrett focused on the size of her family and her Catholic faith, attracting pushback from some commentators and making the judge a popular figure among many Catholics. 

Amid renewed scrutiny of Barrett’s personal life and beliefs in advance of a possible Trump nomination, Princeton University Professor Robert George highlighted the anti-Catholic tropes again being used in criticism of the judge.

“One would have hoped that having brought shame on themselves last time, and blunted their spear on Judge Barrett by attacking her religion, they would be more careful this time about exposing their bigotry to public view. But no,” he said on Twitter. 

During Barrett’s confirmation hearings, questions were also raised about Barrett’s association with the lay organization People of Praise. 

People of Praise has been referred to in the media as a “cult,” and criticized for a practice, which has since been changed, that called leaders “heads” and “handmaidens,” both of which are references to Biblical passages. 

People of Praise was founded in 1971 as part of a “great emergence of lay ministries and lay movements in the Catholic Church,” following Vatican Council II, Bishop Peter Smith, a member of the organization, told CNA.

The group began with 29 members who formed a “covenant”- an agreement, not an oath, to follow common principles, to give five percent of annual income to the group, and to meet regularly for spiritual, social, and service projects.

Covenant communities- Protestant and Catholic- emerged across the country in the 1970s, as a part of the Charismatic Renewal movement in American Christianity.

While most People of Praise members are Catholic, the group is officially ecumenical; people from a variety of Christian denominations can join. Members of the group are free to attend the church of their choosing, including different Catholic parishes, Smith explained.

What will happen next?

On Monday President Trump announced that he expects to name his nominee for the Supreme Court by the end of the week, following memorial and funeral services for Justice Ginsburg.

Ginsburg will lie in state at the National Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol on Friday, following two days of lying in repose at the Supreme Court on Wednesday and Thursday. Ginsburg will lie underneath the Portico, and the public will be permitted to view the casket outdoors. 

As per tradition, Ginsburg’s former law clerks will serve as her honorary pallbearers. 

Ginsburg will be buried in a private ceremony alongside her husband at Arlington National Cemetery.

Kroger employees allege religious discrimination over 'rainbow' apron

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 22, 2020 / 04:00 am (CNA).- The federal government is suing the Kroger Company for discrimination after two employees at an Arkansas store were fired for not wearing a symbol they say represents the LGBT cause.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed suit against the supermarket chain on Sept. 14, alleging that store No. 625 in Conway, Ark., infringed on the religious beliefs of two employees who refused to wear a uniform apron with a multi-colored heart; Kroger fired the employees after disciplining them several times for failure to comply with the uniform.

The EEOC filed a Title VII lawsuit in a federal district court, seeking back pay, compensatory damages, and a halt to any future acts of discrimination against employees. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act forbids discrimination on a number of counts, including on the basis of religion.

“Companies have an obligation under Title VII to consider requests for religious accommodations, and it is illegal to terminate employees for requesting an accommodation for their religious beliefs,” Delner-Franklin Thomas, district director of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, stated.

“The EEOC protects the rights of the LGBTQ community, but it also protects the rights of religious people,” he said.

When the Conway Kroger introduced a new dress code in April, 2019, it asked employees to wear an apron with a multi-colored heart emblem on the bib; the EEOC complaint says that it was a “rainbow-colored” emblem, while some pro-LGBT websites claimed that the heart was not rainbow-colored and was not an LGBT symbol.

The sites reported pictures of Kroger employees wearing an apron with a heart that appears to be navy blue in the center, with yellow, red, and light blue outline.

The rainbow flag is a common symbol of the LGBTQ movement, and both employees had a “good faith belief” that the multicolored heart represented the LGBTQ cause, the EEOC complaint said. 

A Kroger corporate affairs manager told CNA that the company would not comment on the case, due to the pending litigation. However, corporate marketing materials for other Kroger venues explain the four-colored heart as representing "Everyone Friendly and Caring, Everything Fresh, Uplift Every Way, Improve Everday."

The two women employees in the lawsuit—Brenda Lawson and Trudy Rickerd—say they declined to wear the emblem because of their Biblical religious beliefs against same-sex marriage.

Lawson, who had worked in the deli department at the Kroger since August of 2011, asked the store manager multiple times to wear her name tag over the heart and clarified her religious reasons for doing so. She also made the request of the store’s human resources department in writing.

The other employee, Trudy Rickerd, worked as a cashier and file maintenance clerk at the store since October, 2006. She wrote that she had “a sincerely held religious belief that I cannot wear a symbol that promotes or endorses something that is in violation of my religious faith.”

“I respect others who have a different opinion and am happy to work alongside others who desire to wear the symbol. I am happy to buy another apron to ensure there is no financial hardship on Kroger,” she wrote.

According to the EEOC, they were “repeatedly” disciplined for not wearing the heart, and Rickerd was fired on May 29, 2019; Lawson was fired shortly afterward on June 1.

The Lamp: Why these Catholics are creating a print magazine in a digital age

Denver Newsroom, Sep 22, 2020 / 03:01 am (CNA).- When Thomas Earnest Bradley wrote and edited The Lamp, a 19th century British Catholic periodical, he did so largely from his cell in debtors’ prison, “that horrible institution that existed in those days.”

Bradley sold his magazine for a penny, a fifth of the price of his competitors, and his definition of Catholic was broad.

“It ran articles on themes that were not always, in a narrow or straightforward sense, Catholic topics,” Matthew Walther told CNA.

“They would run a story about some new scientific innovation or about a book or a play, that was not by a Catholic or didn't have in any ostensible way a Catholic theme.”

That version of The Lamp has been defunct for years. But it was, in part, the inspiration for a new Catholic magazine by the same name, with the same logo.

Walther, who is a journalist, along with his friend William Borman (friends call him Billy), founded The Lamp magazine in the United States this past year with similar goals in mind: “A magazine that was sort of witty and urbane, in a way that was not shrill or grating to read, that tried to speak to the full range of what the Church teaches,” Walther said. 

“We're operating under the assumption that anything that is good, true and beautiful falls within the purview of what should be in a good Catholic magazine,” he said.

Borman added that it is not a carbon-copy of the original Lamp magazine, which was “basically a working class daily magazine,” with a penchant for “scientific articles, almost like a Popular Science.” 

But the use of similar aesthetics, along with an equally-broad idea of what kinds of topics qualify as Catholic, gives the magazine “a throwback flavor. A little picture of the oil lamp burning on the cover is the same picture (as the original), with a slight modern twist,” Borman said. 

 

Kudos to @thelampmagazine - it is entertaining, gorgeously beautiful and does what it should do: get a Catholic thinking.

I loved some, didn't agree with other articles by writers like @hannonregular , @JDVance1 etc - and that's the way it's supposed to be. Bravo, ad multos pic.twitter.com/MwAbcnaIeR

— Eduard Habsburg (@EduardHabsburg) August 10, 2020  

Some Catholics may protest that such a truly Catholic magazine already exists. There are, after all, several periodicals in the United States that label themselves as Catholic magazines.

But Walther and Borman would argue that it does not already exist. Not in the way they envision.

“(T)here really is no such thing, in an otherwise pretty wide and diverse landscape of Catholic media in the English-speaking world, something that is actually a magazine, as opposed to a website or a newswire or what-have-you, that is orthodox, without naming any names,” Walther said.

That’s what The Lamp hopes to be. A magazine faithful to the magisterial teaching of the Catholic Church that covers all manner of things from a Catholic point of view.

It will cover politics - though only broader political ideas, and not so much the “shrill horse-race” of particular elections. It will cover goings-on in the Church, but not in the way of "Can you believe this bishop did this? Oh my goodness," Walther said. No pope-bashing, and no ultramontanism either.

So what kinds of stories is the new Lamp magazine interested in?

“We wanted something that would also tell people interesting (we hope), and at times encouraging or moving stories about parts of Catholic life that are ordinary, but also, not talked about very much. Things like the history of rural parish churches, or the lives of someone like the man in the first issue who served several decades of an unjust prison sentence.”

The latter is told in the first issue of The Lamp, in which author Brandon McGinley tells the story of Jeff Cristina, who served a 40 year sentence for a wrongful conviction of murder as a juvenile. Cristina, nominally Catholic when his sentence began, returned to the sacraments and brought many others with him during his years behind bars. 

“The story had been on my desk for a while and I didn't have a home for it,” McGinley told CNA. But when Walther and Borman, friends of McGinley’s, started The Lamp, “they were really kind to offer it a home.”

McGinley is a Catholic speaker, and author of “The Prodigal Church” as well as a contributing editor to Plough Quarterly. Like the founders of The Lamp, McGinley believes that the magazine is filling a previously empty niche in Catholic media - a niche for longform journalism that is “broad both in the kind of content, the topics that they cover, and in terms of the specific points of view that they're bringing in (while) still being faithfully and integrally and genuinely Catholic.”

“And it's fun,” McGinley added. “In the opening section, the ‘feuilleton’ (a French word for the opening section of a magazine with short, light literature), Matthew is just hilarious. They have fun with this, it's not joyless.”

As an example, one of the sample articles on The Lamp’s website is “The Bull Against Open Letters” (or, The Open Letter Against Open Letters), which the author declares are the “most revolting, foul, noxious, poisonous, blasphemous, vicious, wicked, deceitful, covinous, Brummagem, catch-penny Pamphlets...offensive to  to men, women, holy priests, deacons, sub-deacons, porters, lectors, exorcists, acolytes, virgins, wives, sons, daughters, suckling babes, lawyers, practitioners after physick, and others, we hereby declare anathema these selfsame base cullions, rascals, apes, dogs, shoes, &c. who have addressed themselves to the baptized under the supposed appellation of ‘Open Letters.’”

The aforementioned letter, as well as a handful of other sample articles, appear on The Lamp’s website - but not much else does, as the publication is primarily a print magazine, a decision Borman and Walther are well aware was a risky one in a digital age.

“We'd heard (that print was dead), but we are both unfortunately terrible book collectors,” Borman said. “And so we're maybe just in the habit of thinking that print is superior to online or to digital.”

“That costs money, but we found people have been plenty willing to pay it,” Borman said. They’ve thus far had successful fundraisers - some online, due to the pandemic - and have attracted readers, primarily between the ages of 25-45, from all over the world, from “New York and Washington to London, Australia, and India.”

The first issue of the bi-monthly magazine came out in Easter, at the height of the global coronavirus lockdowns, an unforeseen challenge when the idea for The Lamp was conceived, Borman said. It delayed their first issue and caused some shipping snafus, but otherwise did not have too big of an impact.

Besides having an affinity for physical copies, a print magazine also helps further the goals of The Lamp, Walther said - it’s a beautiful object people can hold in their hands that prompts them to slow down and enjoy what they’re reading, something that they’d want to save and display on their coffee table or bookshelf. Borrowing a phrase from Cardinal Robert Sarah, Walther said a print magazine helps elevate The Lamp above the “culture of noise.”

“The great upside in online journalism is that now people, no matter where they are, if they have access to an internet connection, they can read as much as they want from as many different voices or perspectives as possible, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” Walther said.

“And the downside of online journalism is all of those things, because it becomes this cycle in which you get caught up in and you can lose sight of more important things when you're immersed in not even day-to-day, but hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute-cycle in journalism,” he said.

“We wanted to create something that will allow people to step away from the computer for an hour or two, put their feet up, and have a drink and immerse themselves in something very different, something slower, and, we hope, maybe a little bit more thoughtful, and less animated by the kinds of concerns that prevail in the online media infrastructure,” he said.

 

Evening plans now that issue #2 arrived @thelampmagazine pic.twitter.com/jMVvSYhPHU

— Cullen (@CullenETB) August 25, 2020  

“I think that people today more than ever are growing tired with the constant outrage and the relentless attention to partisan (politics) sometimes at the expense of the faith,” he said.

“We are attempting to be a kind of an anomaly in an age of a barrage of constant information - where we publish six times a year and we print very few illustrations in here,” he said.

“I think that people are really hungry for it, and the response we've gotten has confirmed this for us. They're hungry for an approach to life in the light of the faith that takes its reader seriously and gives them serious ideas to think about.”

McGinley agreed that The Lamp is “breaking the mold” of the deeply-entrenched partisan rhetoric that can be found on social media today.

“It's not on a team, that's the first thing I think about it,” McGinley said.

“The content you're going to find in this magazine, in this journal, is not going to be easily identifiable with any currently existing alliance in Catholic politics and politics generally,” he said, noting that thus far the magazine has included pieces from a Jewish Marxist alongside those of Catholic scholars.

So far, Borman and Walther have found contributors to the magazine from among their friends and connections, but they also accept cold submissions. They’re looking for pieces that are entertaining, edifying, moving, and thought-provoking.

“Apart from the obvious goals that any magazine would have, which is producing something that readers will enjoy, I think what we really want is to encourage people to lay aside secular prejudices and really think through what it means to approach our political and cultural issues with the mind of the Church,” Walther said.

Ultimately, he said, “we just want people to try to think like Catholics.”

Black Catholic leader says Black Lives Matter organization 'ill-equipped to lead'

CNA Staff, Sep 22, 2020 / 12:00 am (CNA).-  

A Black Catholic leader said Friday that the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation is the wrong organization to lead an important movement against racism in the U.S., because, he said, it asserts a relativistic agenda that will cause harm to Black families.
 
“While it is important to affirm the truth that black lives matter, unfortunately, the Black Lives Matter organization (BLM) itself is ill-equipped to lead,” Louis Brown wrote in an essay published Friday in First Things.

“Black lives do matter—the phrase is correct that all God’s people deserve love, dignity, truth, and freedom. Our brothers and sisters who peacefully protest for justice with signs of ‘black lives matter’ march justly. However, there is a difference between asserting ‘black lives matter’ and the BLM organization itself, which is seriously flawed.”

Brown, executive director of the Christ Medicus Foundation, is an attorney who worked for the Democratic National Committee, before his pro-life views led him to leave the position. Brown has worked for both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, and in a senior position in the civil rights office of the federal department of Health and Human Services.

The phrase “#BlackLivesMatter” began to trend online following the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012, and a movement grew amid protests and riots in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014 after a young black man, Michael Brown, was shot in an altercation with a police officer.

“Black Lives Matter” has become the rallying cry for a broad social movement. But there are also specific organizations which take the name “Black Lives Matter.” The largest and best-funded of those groups is the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, which has a network of local chapters around the U.S. and in other countries.

Brown said that organization “asserts a worldview of moral relativism that recognizes no objective truth, ‘disrupts’ the natural family, and undermines the natural law foundation of civil rights. Its agenda divides people in an arbitrary manner that will, ironically, lead to greater strife especially for black families.”

“By advocating for gender ideology, BLM rejects the basic truths of human dignity in the natural law. Gender ideology replaces the scientific and biological reality of maleness and femaleness with the false belief that one’s sex can be changed.”

“However, as both Pope Francis and the African Cardinal Robert Sarah have asserted, gender ideology is a false construct with no basis in scientific reality. Gender ideology is destructive because it rejects the truths of male and female existence. There can be no dignity or freedom without truth,” he added.

The website of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation recently altered a page outlining controversial beliefs of the organization on the family and sexuality.

As recently as Sept. 17, the organization’s “about” page said the group was a “a queer‐affirming network” that works toward “freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking, or rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual,” to “dismantle cisgender privilege,” and to ‘disrupt’ the ‘nuclear family.’

New text on the group’s website reaffirms its positions on gender ideology, saying that “Black liberation movements in this country have created room, space, and leadership mostly for Black heterosexual, cisgender men — leaving women, queer and transgender people, and others either out of the movement or in the background to move the work forward with little or no recognition.”

Brown is not the only Black Catholic leader to criticize the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, and distinguish it from important calls for racial justice.

“It’s time to state honestly what BLM really stands for - destroying the traditional Family AND what it actually does - destroying property including religious building and objects!” tweeted Cardinal Wilfred Napier of Durban, South Africa, who himself is Black, on Aug. 28, in reference to the organization. Napier was a part of the Church in South Africa's struggle against apartheid.

Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers, a Black Catholic deacon of the Diocese of Portland, Oregon, author, and co-host of EWTN’s Morning Glory radio show told Catholic World Report in August that, like Brown, he draws a distinction between a movement and an organization.

“When you put those three words together—black lives matter—as a social movement, it’s a statement of truth, which is a good thing.”

“But the term ‘black lives matter’ has been conflated with the national organization, Black Lives Matter. In a lot of people’s minds, when you say ‘black lives matter,’ people automatically think of the national organization,” he lamented.

Noting that the organization’s values “raise some red flags” for him, he mentioned especially that the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation does not address the importance of fatherhood.

“Look at all that, plus the violence that is being perpetrated, the rioting, the looting, the tearing down statues, all of these things,” the deacon said. “No Catholic in good conscience can have anything to do with a group like that. Period.”

Brown’s essay said that the U.S. needs to address “racial discrimination and unjust inequality,” but called for a Christian approach to those issues.

He pointed to “police misconduct and racial discrimination in our criminal justice system, and to the disproportionate suffering that COVID-19 has wrought in many communities of color.”

“As a black man, I am pained to learn of police officers killing unarmed black people.”

“As an attorney who has also worked as a staffer in Congress and the executive branch, I have seen that the majority of law enforcement officials are good people seeking to protect and serve,” Brown wrote, but “racial discrimination in the criminal justice system continues in the form of racial profiling, police misconduct, and discriminatory criminal sentencing.”

Pointing to healthcare inequality, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, Brown noted that “Even once this health crisis ends, many African American communities will still not have the medical care they deserve. Historical patterns of racial exclusion have exacerbated negative health care outcomes. Ensuring that the vulnerable have access to proper medical care is necessary to restoring a culture of life.”

Brown’s essay came as polling shows declining support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and after the destruction of police stations and other public buildings amid protests in some cities, and the shooting of two Los Angeles sheriff's deputies Sept. 12.

On that date, a gunman approached a parked police car near the light rail station in Compton, California, opening fire with a pistol at the two police officers inside. Both survived despite multiple gunshot wounds, and the shooter fled on foot.

The officers, a 31-year-old mother and a 24-year-old male, had been on the job less than a year, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said after the shooting.

The incident garnered additional attention because of a protest that took place later that evening outside St. Francis Medical Center, where the officers had been transported for surgery.

A video posted by a local journalist on the scene shows several men shouting at a group of police officers outside the hospital, and one can be heard shouting “I hope they [expletive] die.”

Police arrested two people in connection to the protest, including the journalist who filmed the scene; the journalist was released later that night with a citation for obstructing a police officer.

Protestors blocked the path of the ambulance carrying officers to the hospital, and the LA County Sheriff’s office said via Twitter: “DO NOT BLOCK EMERGENCY ENTRIES & EXITS TO THE HOSPITAL. People's lives are at stake when ambulances can't get through,”

News reports have not confirmed whether the protest at the hospital was an officially organized event convened by Black Lives Matter.

Protestors identifying themselves as being affiliated with Black Lives Matter have staged protests at police precincts across the country in recent months, with mobs destroying police precincts in Minneapolis and Portland in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in May. 

Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, a local affiliate of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, did not respond to CNA’s request for comment.

Pentecostal minister Eugene Rivers, director of the Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies, told CNA he considers it “a moral disgrace that the BLM organization did not condemn the shooting of the police officers in Compton, California. Under no circumstances could the moral and political failure to speak up be justified.”

Rivers, who is Black, called the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation “a scam that exploits the suffering of Black people to promote gender ideology.”

The minister said the organization “is peddling morally, tactically, and intrinsically stupid ideas,” reminiscent of “the Black Panther Party, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, and Revolutionary Action Movement and others who laid out an assortment of dystopian visions for the Black community and the country in general.”

Rivers said the group has “repudiate[d] Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy,” replacing it with “irrational ideas that have so quickly led to violence in its name rather than maintaining the non-violent high ground MLK staked out from his Christian perspective.”

Leaders of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles have said their efforts are more than a movement for racial justice, but are a “spiritual movement,” which have incorporated spiritual rituals into protests, drawing from animistic religions by calling forth deceased ancestors and pouring out libations for them.

Brown wrote last week that an authentic movement for racial justice needs to be rooted in love, and, ultimately, in Christ.

“Racial injustice is part of the culture of death. To build a culture of life in America, we need a revival of God’s love and a new era of civil rights,” he wrote.

“True justice is based on the foundational principle of civil rights: each person’s God-given natural rights as embodied in the natural law. Thanks to the natural law, abolitionists knew slavery was wrong even though civil law said it was right, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. knew segregation was wrong even though the voting majority in many states likely supported it.”

“A new era of authentic love and justice is needed and will begin with a Christian revival of love for God and neighbor. This love is the only force powerful enough to bring lasting healing.”

“The Christian faithful must rededicate themselves to love through spiritual and corporal works of mercy that serve communities of color and the vulnerable. We must give the best of the Church, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to those on the peripheries.”
 
“God calls us to do justice in bringing about the Kingdom of God and building up the culture of life,” Brown concluded.
 
“Agendas opposed to human dignity strengthen the culture of death, and can never lead us toward justice. As Christians, we must charge ahead in the love of Christ to lead a revival of God’s love and bring about a new era of Christian humanism in America.”

 

Survey finds correlation between Catholic Mass attendance, political views 

CNA Staff, Sep 21, 2020 / 06:00 pm (CNA).- A recent survey has found a correlation between the religious practices of Catholic likely voters, their party affiliation, and the political issues they say are important, with Catholics who attend Mass regularly saying they are more concerned about abortion, among other issues.

Conducted Aug. 27 - Sept. 1 by RealClear Opinion Research in partnership with EWTN News, the poll surveyed 1,212 likely voters who self-identify as Catholic.

The poll was conducted before the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which is expected to shake up electoral polling as events unfold. EWTN News and RealClear Opinion Research plan to launch a new poll in mid-October, which is expected to reflect the impact on voters of Ginsburg’s death and the subsequent Supreme Court nomination process.

Among poll participants, 36% say they attended Mass once or more per week before restrictions were placed on worship services due to the coronavirus. Another 42% said they attended Mass between once a month and once a year, and 22% said they attended Mass less than once per year.

Sixty-eight percent said at the time of the poll that Supreme Court appointments were a concern in the upcoming election, while 59% said the same about abortion – although among weekly Mass attendees, concern about abortion jumps to 70%.

When broken down by Mass attendance, the new poll showed a significant difference in presidential preferences, as well as differences in their trust of the two main candidates on various topics.

Respondents overall favored Biden over Trump in the upcoming election 53% to 41%, while Catholics who attend Mass at least once per week were split evenly between Biden and Trump. Biden has led Trump overall among Catholic voters in two previous EWTN News/ RealClear polls, while Trump has maintained a lead among some groups of Catholics, including those who attend Mass more than once a week or daily.

As far as party affiliation, Catholic likely voters who are independent or unaffiliated with a major political party were most likely to attend Mass at least weekly, with 44% saying they did so. Thirty-nine percent of Republicans in the survey said they attend Mass at least weekly, and 31% of Democrats said the same.

A quarter of independents said they accept all of what the Church teaches and try to reflect that in their lives, compared to 17% of Republicans and 11% of Democrats in the survey.

Republicans surveyed were slightly more likely to say they pray at least once per week, with 83% saying they did. Seventy-seven percent of Democrats and 75% of independents in the poll said the same.

Asked about issues of concern in the upcoming election, some 9 out of 10 Catholics polled - regardless of Mass attendance - said they were concerned about the coronavirus pandemic, health care, the economy and jobs.

On each of those issues, poll participants trusted Biden more than Trump. However, the divide between weekly Massgoers was narrower than among Catholics overall, and that demographic was split evenly in its trust of Biden and Trump on the economy.

On China trade policy, respondents were more likely to trust Trump than Biden.

Other significant issues for Catholics included civil unrest, over which 84% voiced concern, as well as race relations and immigration, which were each listed by just over three-fourths of poll participants as areas of concern. Sixty percent listed religious freedom as a concern in the upcoming election.

Catholics who attend Mass at least once per week were more likely to be concerned about race relations, immigration, and religious freedom than those who attend Mass less often.

 

Recalling the unlikely Ginsburg-Scalia friendship

Denver Newsroom, Sep 21, 2020 / 05:15 pm (CNA).- Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last week at age 87, is remembered as a hero of the political left— a self-described feminist who made a name for herself by advocating for women’s equality, and for socially liberal positions such as legalized abortion and same-sex marriage.

She was, in some ways, the last person you might expect to be close friends with a conservative, committed Catholic.

But in fact, Ginsburg had a warm friendship with the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia— a conservative icon and devout Catholic, who died in 2016.

“Their friendship can offer Americans an important lesson in these tense times. They remind us that we share a lot more than politics,” Scalia’s son, Chris, told CNA late last year.

“There's a lot more to life than political opinion. It is possible to disagree with somebody, to have different outlooks on life and politics and the law and your profession, but focus instead on what you have in common, and the things in life that you both enjoy, and focus on those things, and develop a real friendship out of those things.”

Scalia was born in Trenton, New Jersey, the son of an Italian immigrant, and grew up in New York City. He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1986, and served until his death at age 79 in 2016.

Ginsburg also grew up in New York; she was born in 1933 and raised in a Jewish home. President Bill Clinton appointed her to the Supreme Court in 1993.

Famously, Scalia and his wife would spend every New Years Eve throughout the 1980s with the Ginsburgs, Chris said, sometimes staying at their house talking, laughing, and debating until four in the morning.

Some years, Ginsburg’s husband would cook for dinner the venison that Scalia had gathered on his post-Christmas hunting trip.

In the minds of Scalia’s children, “the Ginsburgs were just this couple my parents got to know and really just enjoyed spending time with,” Chris said.

Another of Scalia’s sons, Fr. Paul, a priest of the diocese of Arlington, described his father as a strong personality, a strong intellect, and an unabashed contrarian who loved to debate.

“He was very much a ‘man in full’ as the saying goes, and had a broad variety of interests, from hunting and fishing to the opera,” Fr. Paul told CNA.

His father also was a proud Catholic, who loved the Mass, the liturgy, and the Church's intellectual tradition, the priest said.

Scalia’s love of debate was one of the things that drew him to Ginsburg— a woman with whom he disagreed on many things, including many aspects of the law. But Scalia admired Ginsburg’s determination, especially in an era when it was harder for women to achieve the career success that Ginsburg attained.

“She was a sparring partner with him…My father liked people who would match him, and who would push back,” Father Paul noted.

“He would hire clerks who would challenge him on things. He wanted that. He wanted that intellectual engagement, because he knew that it was good for him. It would test his line of thought and his principles.”

As the longest serving justice on the bench at the time of his death, Justice Scalia is remembered for his strong emphasis on interpreting the law as it was originally written and intended. Ginsburg, in contrast, believed in a “living Constitution” that could be adapted to the times. The two frequently criticized each other’s legal reasoning and opinions.

In their nearly 23 years together on the bench, they heard and debated hugely consequential cases having to do with such issues as abortion, same-sex marriage, and the 2000 presidential election.

When asked about their friendship in a 2014 interview, Justice Scalia seemed to brush off suggestions that it was somehow extraordinary.

“I have never gotten angry at Ruth or at any of my colleagues because of the way they voted in an opinion. I mean, if you cannot disagree with your colleagues on the law without taking it personally, you ought to get another day job,” Scalia said.

“It’s just not the kind of a job that will allow you to behave that way. Ruth and I disagree on the law all the time. It’s never had anything to do with our friendship.”

Another facet of the Scalia-Ginsburg friendship was a mutual sense of humor, Scalia’s sons said. Scalia possessed a rich sense of humor, and loved to sing and tell jokes.

“I think one of the reasons Justice Ginsburg liked my father is that he cracked her up...She said that very few people could make her laugh out loud; basically it was her husband, and my father,” Chris said.

Scalia and Ginsburg first struck up a friendship in the 1980s, when they served together on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Chris said Scalia used to whisper jokes to Ginsburg during arguments, and she would have to pinch herself to keep from laughing out loud.

When they again sat together on the bench, this time on the Supreme Court, Scalia would pass notes to Ginsburg with jokes or funny comments on them.

“I think it strikes us as weird in part because we live in such polarized times, and because they are themselves kind of heroes of very different sides— [Ginsburg] is a legend for the left, and my father is kind of the equivalent for the conservative legal movement. So I think that makes it even stranger to people,” Chris said.

“Obviously they had big differences as far as their jurisprudence went. But it’s really not that strange when you consider the many things they had in common.”

These similarities included growing up in New York around the same time, enjoying good food and wine, and a love of opera.

There even exists a comedic opera about the two justices, called Scalia/Ginsburg, written by a graduate of the Yale School of Music-turned-law school student. The opera includes many jokes and gags that riff on the two’s intellectual and philosophical differences, but also includes moments of unity between the two characters, including a heartwarming duet.

Obviously, there were elements of their worldviews— very significant elements— that Ginsburg and Scalia did not share. Scalia was a devout Catholic, and Ginsburg and her husband Marty were secular Jews.

Still, Father Paul noted that since Scalia was so committed to living out his faith, their friendship doubtless gave Ginsburg a chance to encounter a truly lived Catholicism— and it is clear that she respected that.

“I think my father was aware of giving good witness to the Catholic faith. That was part of who he was. So in his friendship with her, that was going to be part of it...And I think this is the beginning of evangelization: simply demonstrating the ability to be a serious Catholic, but also capable of friendship, and friendship with somebody who is different and who disagrees,” Father Paul said.