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France’s Catholic bishops will uphold confessional seal, spokeswoman clarifies

Karine Dalle, the communications director of the French bishops’ conference. / Marion Delattaignant/CEF.

Paris, France, Oct 14, 2021 / 05:50 am (CNA).

She said: ‘One cannot change the canon law for France as it is international.’

Prominent Anglican bishop received into Catholic Church

The Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Anglican bishop of Rochester, England. / michaelnazirali.com.

Oxford, England, Oct 14, 2021 / 03:55 am (CNA).

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali has joined the personal ordinariate.

Catholic businessman receives Legatus evangelization award

Legatus 2020 Bowie Kuhn Award for Evangelization recipient Mario Costabile (left), with Thomas Monaghan (right), Legatus founder and CEO / Legatus International

Washington D.C., Oct 13, 2021 / 18:51 pm (CNA).

The organization of Catholic business leaders Legatus International has awarded Catholic producer Mario Costabile with its 2020 Bowie Kuhn Award for Evangelization.

Costabile is the producer and executive director of “Array of Hope,” a Catholic production company that serves Catholic parishes, dioceses and organizations.” 

“Seeking to address the decline of God” in society, Costabile’s business aims to “reveal the ‘Truths of our Faith’ by creating high quality films, music and events.”

Legatus founder and CEO Tom Monaghan presented Costabile with the award at the group’s biannual summit conference in September. The Bowie Kuhn Award for Evangelization is named after Bowie Kuhn, the former Major League Baseball commissioner who was Catholic. It recognizes a member's efforts to “spread the good news of Jesus Christ among his/her peers and his/her noteworthy dedication to the mission and ideals of Legatus.”

Legatus president Stephen Henley said that “Costabile's commitment to advancing the Catholic faith and Christian ethics through media ‘distinguishes him among his peers and makes him a worthy recipient of the Bowie Kuhn Award for Evangelization.’”

Costabile serves as the president of the organization’s Newark chapter; according to Legatus, Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark is a “long-time” chapter supporter. 

Costabile also received the Legatus ACE award in 2018 for his success in recruiting new members. 

Past recipients of the Bowie Kuhn Award for Evangelization include Tim Flanagan, founder of the Catholic Leadership Institute; Michael Warsaw, Chairman and CEO of EWTN; Curtis Martin, founder of the Catholic campus ministry FOCUS; Tim Busch, attorney and philanthropist; Thomas Peterson, president and founder of Catholics Come Home; and Luisa Kuhn, wife of the late baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn.

Legatus members include Catholic CEOs, presidents, managing partners, business owners, and their spouses. The group’s stated mission is "to study, live, and spread the Catholic faith in our business, professional and personal lives."

Legatus chapter monthly meetings typically include Mass, Confession, and a rosary followed by social hours, dining, and a presentation on Catholic topics. Legatus International also organizes leadership conferences, pilgrimage opportunities, religious retreats, social events, and overseas trips.

Tom Monaghan, the Domino's Pizza founder turned Catholic philanthropist, founded the organization in 1987. It is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Supreme Court must return abortion debate to voters and legislatures, says Mississippi brief

Lynn Fitch, the Mississippi Attorney General. / LibandJustice via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Denver Newsroom, Oct 13, 2021 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

The Supreme Court’s precedents on legal abortion are so tangled and misguided that abortion law should be returned to the people and their representatives in the legislatures, backers of a Mississippi ban on abortions after 15 weeks have said.

“Finally forced to defend those cases, respondents drive home the stark reality: Roe and Casey are indefensible,” said the Oct. 13 Supreme Court brief filed by Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch and other state officials.

“It is true that the judiciary cannot provide a workable half measure—it cannot produce an enduring compromise. But the people can,” the brief continued. “When this court returns this issue to the people, the people can debate, adapt, and find workable solutions. It will be hard for the people too, but under the constitution the task is theirs—and the court should return it to them now.”

The brief in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization involves Mississippi’s ban on most elective abortions after 15 weeks. Oral arguments are scheduled for Dec. 1.

The challenge could mean the Supreme Court will re-examine its 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide, as well as its 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that reaffirmed legal abortion.

The respondents’ brief, led by attorneys from the pro-abortion rights group Center for Reproductive Rights, sought to defend the current viability standard, allowing abortion restrictions only after the unborn child may survive outside the womb. The brief said this is 23-24 weeks into pregnancy. The respondents argued that the viability standard serves the court well, has a grounding in the constitution, and has not been challenged by the facts. Defenders of the Mississippi law, they said, do not provide an alternative framework that could sustain a stable right to abortion.

“Each of the state’s purported alternatives would upend the balance struck in Casey and ultimately extinguish ‘the woman’s liberty to determine whether to carry her pregnancy to full term’,” said the pro-abortion rights brief. Upholding the Mississippi ban would lead to “attempts by half the states in the nation to forbid abortion entirely, and a judiciary left without tools to manage the resulting litigation.” The brief argued that the state should reaffirm precedent, which holds that a state’s interest in protecting fetal life falls short of overriding individual liberty claims.

Fitch and other Mississippi leaders faulted this response.

“Respondents’ effort to narrow this case—or avoid any decision—shows what they know: that Roe and Casey are deeply flawed and that those flaws have finally been presented to the one tribunal that can do something about them,” said their brief.

There is “no constitutional basis” for Roe, Casey, or the viability rule, the brief said. The logic for abortion rights decisions appear selective and unique, rather than part of American constitutional tradition.

 “(T)his Court has never endorsed another privacy or liberty interest that involves purposefully ending a human life,” the brief said.

Backers of the Mississippi law depicted Roe as a departure from precedent, and Casey as similarly “egregiously wrong” in a way that weakens claims they should serve as continued precedent.

The common law long condemned and restricted abortion and most states broadly restricted abortion at the time the Fourteenth Amendment was passed. Abortion is a matter that “unites state interests in protecting women’s health and unborn life” but current pro-abortion rights precedent “uniquely limit the states and cut off the democratic process,” said the brief.

The viability line has no constitutional or principled basis and could just as meaningfully be drawn at 14 weeks into pregnancy.  At minimum, the brief argued, the court should reject a rule based on viability.

“Saying that a state’s interest becomes compelling at 15 weeks’ gestation is just as plausible as saying that it becomes compelling at viability,” said the brief, arguing that such “line-drawing” is legislative task and another sign that abortion decisions should not rely on the courts.

“Abortion—as both a jurisprudential and policy matter—is as divisive and unsettled as ever,” said the brief. “Protecting unborn life and women’s health are as compelling as ‘preserving public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary’— an interest this Court has found compelling,” it added.

States should be able to decide on disputed questions, such as to what extent either continued pregnancy or abortion may create health risks for the mother. Similarly, the states should be able to account for advances in knowledge of when the unborn child becomes sensitive to pain.

“This court need not resolve who is right on fetal pain. It need only recognize that knowledge changes and that the constitution does not bind States to a long-outdated view of the fact,” the brief said.

The reasoning of the pro-abortion precedents did not take into account policy changes that better allow women to have both careers and families or the provision of “safe havens” to shelter newborn children without penalty. These precedents were based in outdated ideas about contraception effectiveness and access.

Any claim that preserving Roe and abortion access is critical to women’s advancement is a “demeaning view of women.” The claim “boils down to the view that millions of women have a meaningful life only because 50 years ago seven men in Roe saved them from despair—and that women’s success comes at the cost of ending innumerable human lives,” the brief argued.

“Women’s extensive political participation and share of the population ensure that they strongly influence public policy—and would do so without a judicially managed right to abortion,” the brief continued.

“This court has before it the strongest arguments for and against overruling— from the parties, the United States, and 130 amicus briefs exploring every relevant issue,” the brief said. “The fundamental question at issue here will keep returning until this court addresses it. This is the case to confront— and reject—Roe and Casey.”

Analysis: The Church in France must uphold the confessional seal

null / Pleuntje via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).

New York City, N.Y., Oct 13, 2021 / 17:10 pm (CNA).

The French bishops’ conference has seemingly tried to walk back the straightforward comments of the Bishop of Reims, who recently reiterated that the inviolability of the seal of confession, deriving from divine law, supersedes any law of the French Fifth Republic directing that it be broken.

Biden administration pushes death sentence for Boston bomber at Supreme Court  

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev / Public Domain

Washington D.C., Oct 13, 2021 / 16:03 pm (CNA).

The Supreme Court heard arguments on Wednesday, Oct. 13 concerning whether or not to reinstate a federal death sentence for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. 

Although he was sentenced to death in 2015, Tsarnaev’s sentence was overturned by a three-judge panel of the First Circuit Court of Appeals in July 2020. The panel unanimously found that he had not received a fair trial.

In May 2021, the Supreme Court agreed to reconsider the death sentence, and in June, the Biden administration asked the Supreme Court to sentence Tsarnaev to death. The Biden administration’s push to execute Tsarnaev came weeks before Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a moratorium on federal executions.

Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, the executive director of Catholic Mobilizing Network, an organization which seeks to end the death penalty and to promote restorative justice, told CNA that Wednesday’s arguments were a reminder “that the federal death penalty is an incredibly tumultuous, broken system that is almost always retruamatizing for victims of families.”

"We pray for Mr. Tsarnaev’s victims, their families, and the city of Boston today as they prepare for what will surely be another emotional ruling,” she said. 

During Wednesday’s arguments, Justice Amy Coney Barrett questioned what the “end game” of the federal government was in light of the execution moratorium. 

“So the government has declared a moratorium on executions, but you're here defending his death sentences,” said Barrett. “And if you win, presumably, that means that he is relegated to living under the threat of a death sentence that the government doesn't plan to carry out. So I'm just having trouble following the point.”

Eric Feigin, deputy solicitor general, replied that Attorney General Garland could “presumably” review “the current execution protocol.”

“And what we are asking here is that the sound judgment of 12 of Respondent's peers that he warrants capital punishment for his personal acts in murdering and maiming scores of innocents, and along with his brother, hundreds of innocents at the finish line of the Boston Marathon should be respected,” he said. 

In 2015, Tsarnaev was convicted on four murder charges and sentenced to death for orchestrating the bombing of the 2013 Boston Marathon with his brother Tamerlan. The bombing killed three and injured hundreds. 

During their ensuing run from police, the two brothers shot and killed one police officer, and another police officer died from injuries in a shootout with them. Tamerlan died after being run over by an SUV driven by Dzhokhar, while he was fleeing police.

Vaillancourt Murphy said it was “concerning” to see the Biden administration push to execute Tsarnaev, especially considering that President Joe Biden is the “first-ever president to openly oppose the death penalty” while actively serving as president.  

“The reality is, if Mr. Tsarnaev’s death sentence should remain overturned, he would never leave prison,” she said. “His execution would bring little healing to those he harmed, and would serve only as state-sponsored vengeance. We have other ways of keeping society safe than resorting to executions — methods that don’t violate the Church’s teachings on the sanctity of life and inherent dignity of the human person."

While the Obama, Trump, and Biden administrations have now all pushed for the federal death penalty for Tsarnaev, the Boston archdiocese has instead called for life in prison without parole.

“The pain and suffering caused to the victims of the bombing and to their loved ones is as clear and real today as it was nearly eight years ago,” the archdiocese told CNA in May. “As we have previously stated, Catholic teaching does not support the taking of life as a means of achieving justice.”

For Catholic school teachers, new credential program promises formation in faith and reason

Participants in the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education's Catholic Educator Formation and Credential Program at the headquarters of the Archdiocese of Denver. / Courtesy photo.

Denver, Colo., Oct 13, 2021 / 15:00 pm (CNA).

Catholic schools’ unique goals and qualities are the focus of a new program that aims to provide teachers with the formation and credentials for the task, and the Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of Denver are collaborating with the program.

“The men and women who have responded to a vocation in Catholic education deserve to be fed spiritually and intellectually to help them fulfill their ministerial role: to form joyful disciples of Jesus Christ,” Elizabeth Sullivan, executive director of the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education, told CNA Oct. 12.

The institute and the Archdiocese of Denver Catholic Schools on Oct. 7 announced the launch of the Catholic Educator Formation and Credential Program to help prepare “well-formed” Catholic school teachers.

Sullivan said the institute’s decades of teacher formation work have helped schools achieve renewal as “vibrant communities of faith and learning.”

“The credential program draws upon and expands this formation into an even deeper grounding in the riches of the Catholic intellectual tradition,” she said.

If new applicants for teaching positions in the Archdiocese of Denver Catholic Schools do not have a state teaching license, they can complete the formation and credential program instead.

The program consists of several requirements: five courses; two retreats or workshops; and supervised teaching over 18 months. Those who complete the program will receive the institute’s Catholic Educator Credential.

The pilot program launched in August with 28 participating teachers. The program aims to become nationally recognized, with its credentials recognized across dioceses. It draws on Church teaching on Catholic education, especially as presented in the book The Holy See’s Teaching on Catholic Schools, by Archbishop J. Michael Miller, C.S.B. of Vancouver.

The institute’s certification program aims to provide “a robust alternative to state teacher licensure that provides rich formation in the philosophy and practice of Catholic intellectual tradition, which is distinct from the secular approach,” Sullivan said.

“Many have not recognized that this pragmatic, utilitarian approach undermines the wonder and mystery at the heart of faith,” she told CNA. “In addition, contemporary education is failing to form students who can think well, speak well, and write well.”

Dr. Alyssan Barnes, the director of the institute’s credential program, said that the certification program teaches educators basics, including lesson planning, literacy instruction, and effective pedagogy. She said the program also goes beyond a utilitarian sense of “best practices” by “rooting these essentials in the human person made for holiness.”

“The Lord has called us to tend his sheep,” Barnes told CNA. “What we are doing in Catholic schools is exactly that: caring for the upcoming saints of the next generation. We believe these children need not only something more than what the public school is offering; they need a different paradigm to understand the world around them. We want to support their teachers so they can convey this gift.”

For Barnes, Catholic liberal education “puts the Christ as the Logos at the center” and all truths are “fragments of this Truth.”

“Our credential program seeks to recover the Catholic intellectual tradition of uniting faith and reason – a long tradition that has shaped our world for the better,” she said. “We grow educators in teaching skills, yes, but we also focus on something absolutely essential for the Catholic teacher: developing a sacramental imagination that sees truth as one, as accessible, as communicable.”

The formation program will help educators “fulfill their ministerial role and instill in their students the joyful hope that is the foundation for discipleship,” the joint statement from the Denver archdiocese’s schools and the institute said.

The Denver archdiocese has over 35 schools, about 800 teachers, and over 8,000 students.

The Institute for Catholic Liberal Education, based in Ventura, Calif., was founded in 1999 with the goal of renewing Catholic education. It aims to promote “the Church’s vision and practice of liberal learning, which puts Jesus Christ, the Logos, at the center of the content, pedagogy, and school culture.”

Its president and founder, Michael J. Van Hecke, served as headmaster of St. Augustine Academy in Ventura for 20 years. The institute’s board of directors includes Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles; Father John Belmonte, S.J., Superintendent of Catholic Education for the Diocese of Venice in Florida; and Mary Pat Donoghue, executive director of the Secretariat of Catholic Education for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Its board of advisors includes Archbishop Miller; Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect emeritus of the Apostolic Signatura; Bishop James Conley of Lincoln; and Sister Mary Anne Zuberbueler, O.P., principal of Mary Immaculate School in Dallas.

What was Sr. Lucia's advice after Fatima visions? Pray. Everyday.

Lucia dos Santos. Public Domain.

Fatima, Portugal, Oct 13, 2021 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

The niece of Fatima visionary Sr. Lucia dos Santos said her aunt was a normal person like everyone else, but shared some personal advice that her saintly relative used to give: to pray every single day.  

Number of new Catholic seminarians in Poland falls by nearly 20% year on year

Mass in the chapel of a seminary in Poznań, western Poland, Sept. 15, 2018. / Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk.

Warsaw, Poland, Oct 13, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

In 2021, 356 seminarians began their studies.

This is the miracle that paved the way for John Paul I’s beatification

Pope John Paul I in an undated file photo. / Vatican Media/CNA.

Rome Newsroom, Oct 13, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis has officially recognized the miracle, which took place in his homeland.