Browsing News Entries

Elon Musk moves companies from California, blasts law that hides gender transition from parents

Elon Musk attends a session during the Cannes Lions International Festival Of Creativity 2024 on June 19, 2024 in Cannes, France. / Credit: Marc Piasecki/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 18, 2024 / 17:37 pm (CNA).

Elon Musk, the CEO of X and SpaceX and one of the richest men in the world, announced that he will move both multibillion-dollar companies out of California because he opposes a new law that hides information from parents about their child’s gender identity.

The law, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday, prohibits school districts from adopting policies that require parental notification if a child begins to identify as a gender that is different from his or her biological sex. Under this law, schools could not prevent teachers from hiding information about a child’s social gender transition from his or her parents.

Musk, who has a son who identifies as a woman, called the legislation “the final straw” in a post on X Tuesday afternoon. The businesses will move a few states over to Texas. 

“Because of this law and the many others that preceded it, attacking both families and companies, SpaceX will now move its HQ from Hawthorne, California, to Starbase, Texas,” Musk said.

Less than 20 minutes later, Musk made another post, which announced that the headquarters of X “will move to Austin.”

Musk already moved the headquarters of Tesla, another company for which he is the CEO, to Texas in 2021.

SpaceX employs about 13,000 people and X employs about 1,000 people — although not all of those employees are based in California.

“I did make it clear to Gov. Newsom about a year ago that laws of this nature would force families and companies to leave California to protect their children,” Musk added in a reply to his first post.

According to state-to-state migration numbers, Americans are disproportionately choosing other states over California. 

California has suffered a net interstate migration loss every year for more than two decades, which means that the number of people moving out of California to live in another state is higher than the number of people moving to California from other states.

From 2001 through 2023, California lost more than 3.7 million more people to state-to-state migration than it gained, according to numbers tallied by the Public Policy Institute of California. There was not a single year in that time frame in which California gained more people from interstate migration than it lost. California also suffered a net population decline in 2020, 2021, and 2022.

William Swaim, the president of the conservative California Policy Center, told CNA that it’s “not just big players like Musk” leaving the state but also “entrepreneurs, retirees, and parents of school-age kids.”

“Policies like this one have pushed hundreds of businesses to leave the states for greener — or redder — pastures; places like Texas, Florida, Tennessee, seem to be the big winners,” Swaim said.

According to Swaim, a number of problems contribute to the state’s population decline.

“Under Gavin Newsom, the state has logged a number of firsts and worsts: the nation’s worst unemployment rate, its highest business and marginal-income tax rates, and massive, growing, and fatal government pension liabilities,” he said. “Suffering the nation’s highest poverty and homeless rates, its highest costs of living, housing, electricity, insurance, and gasoline, it’s also reeling from the nation’s worst-ever state budget deficit.”

Democratic lawmakers in California introduced the legislation on transgender policies after the state government feuded with local school boards that instituted parental notification policies for when children identify as transgender or request to be called by pronouns inconsistent with their biological sex. In August of last year, Attorney General Rob Bonta sued Chino Valley Unified School District over its parental notification policy. 

A group of parents have already filed a lawsuit against state government officials to block the state from enforcing its ban on parental notification policies.

Last year, Newsom signed several other bills that faced criticism from parental rights advocates. This includes a law that penalizes schools that refuse to teach LGBT content and another that forces courts to consider “gender affirmation” in child custody decisions.

Catholics from across country meet in Indiana for National Eucharistic Congress

Big smiles from a group from the Diocese of Sacramento, California, as they wait in the long line to complete their registration for the congress in the Indiana Convention Center on July 15, 2024. / Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/EWTN

Indianapolis, Ind., Jul 18, 2024 / 16:29 pm (CNA).

Tens of thousands of Catholics from across the U.S. have come together to praise the Lord in Eucharistic adoration this week in an NFL stadium at the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis.

Bishop Andrew Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, who led U.S. bishops’ initiative of Eucharistic Revival, called the congress “a moment of unity” for the Church in the United States.

As the bishop held up the Blessed Sacrament in a massive 4-foot monstrance in center field of Lucas Oil Stadium, the crowd prayed together “Jesus, I trust in you.”

For many, the journey to Indianapolis was a pilgrimage of profound spiritual significance. Parishes, religious orders, families, clergy, and laypeople embarked on their travels by plane, car, and on foot driven by a deep desire to deepen their relationship with the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

Diane Hanley drove nearly 600 miles with three other women from Little Rock, Arkansas, for a “girls’ trip” to the July 17–21 congress.

“It was blessed the whole way,” Hanley told CNA.

“We took like three hours to say one rosary in the car because of all the intentions and all the reflections and everything,” she added. “So the journey is part of the joy.”

One hundred fifty people traveled from the Diocese of Sacramento, California — among them Josie, who said that she came to the congress to receive Christ and to be able to better evangelize.

“I am an evangelizer in my community, and I feel like I need more learning experience to be able to better evangelize people because Christ is love and I just love him,” she said.

Dom Mann and his wife Cassidy, Ohioans in their early 20s, are spending their first anniversary at the Congress. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Dom Mann and his wife Cassidy, Ohioans in their early 20s, are spending their first anniversary at the Congress. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

Newlyweds Dominic and Cassidy Mann, 23 and 21, respectively, from Cleveland are celebrating their first wedding anniversary at the congress. They told CNA that they came to the National Eucharistic Congress seeking to “experience Jesus at a whole other level.”

“Our first time being Eucharistic ministers was our wedding. So to be able to have that and to spend our one-year at the congress is just very beautiful and impactful,” Dominic said.

“The Eucharist has meant a lot in our marriage,” Cassidy added. As young Catholics, growing in faith together throughout dating, engagement, and marriage has been “transformative in our relationship,” she said.

The Manns were not the only couple to mark a relationship milestone at the congress. 

Charlie Chengary, 21, and Katherine Blawas, 22, a young couple from Chicago and Ohio, respectively, got engaged in Indianapolis on the eve of the congress. The two began dating a little over a year ago after meeting on Catholic Match. 

“I have never been in a place with so many Catholics. This is like a little foretaste of heaven,” Blawas said.

Jaella Mac Au, one of the Perpetual Pilgrims, in front of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, the endpoint of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimages. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Jaella Mac Au, one of the Perpetual Pilgrims, in front of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, the endpoint of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimages. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

Jaella Mac Au, 20, traveled 2,200 miles across 12 states over two months as a pilgrim in one of four Eucharistic pilgrimage groups that traversed the United States to arrive at the congress. 

Her pilgrimage group began its journey by walking over San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge in a Eucharistic procession. 

She told CNA that tears came to her eyes when she finally arrived in Indianapolis this week.

“It was wonderful and beautiful,” Mac Au said. “We were the first route to get here … and I was like, ‘I don’t believe we’re actually here.’”

She added that her experience as a pilgrim helped her understand that Jesus “doesn’t just sit in a church” but desires to be brought out into the world for all to see.

“The Lord is present in his body, blood, soul, and divinity,” she said. “He desires to go out and proclaim the good news that he sees us and that he loves us.”

Sister Faustina and Sister Anastasia Marie, Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, came with a delegation of 22 sisters to the Congress. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Sister Faustina and Sister Anastasia Marie, Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, came with a delegation of 22 sisters to the Congress. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

Sister Faustina and Sister Anastasia Marie, Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, came with a delegation of 22 sisters to the congress.

“The Eucharist is the center of our spirituality. All that we do comes from a relationship with our Lord, and we spend much of our day in prayer, and then we go out to serve in the apostolate,” Sister Faustina said. 

“We encounter Our Lord in the Eucharist and also go out to meet him with his people. And all of that comes from encountering him in the Eucharist.”

Sister Anastasia Marie added that she is praying for people to “have a deeper encounter with God’s mercy through the Eucharist” during the congress. 

Brian and Angela Barcelos from Raynham, Massachusetts, at the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis on July 17, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/EWTN
Brian and Angela Barcelos from Raynham, Massachusetts, at the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis on July 17, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/EWTN

Large crowds created long lines on the first day of the National Eucharistic Congress. Brian and Angela Barcelos from Raynham, Massachusetts, waited more than 1.5 hours to pick up their name badges for the congress but did not seem too upset about it. “We are here for the Eucharist!” Brian said. 

More than 54,000 people had bought tickets for the congress as of July 17, according to the organizers. 

All 50 states and 17 countries are represented among the congress participants, which include more than 1,000 priests and 200 bishops and cardinals.

“I feel like I’ve already gotten so much out of this already just by being in line,” Blawas said.

Bishop John Doerfler of Marquette, Michigan, called the National Eucharistic Congress July 17-21, 2024, “a privileged opportunity for us to deepen the bonds of our unity of faith in the Lord Jesus.” Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Bishop John Doerfler of Marquette, Michigan, called the National Eucharistic Congress July 17-21, 2024, “a privileged opportunity for us to deepen the bonds of our unity of faith in the Lord Jesus.” Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/CNA

Bishop John Doerfler of Marquette, Michigan, was joined by 50 people from his diocese who made the trip from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to the congress.

The bishop hosted a diocesan Eucharistic congress as part of the National Eucharistic Revival leading up to the national congress. He said that he is looking forward to meeting Catholics from across the country over the next five days.

“It’s a privileged opportunity for us to deepen the bonds of our unity of faith in the Lord Jesus and show him our great gratitude for the precious gift he gives to us of himself in the holy Eucharist,” Doerfler said.

Members of the National Association of African Catholics in the United States pose for a group photo on July 17, 2024, at the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis. The group performed praise and worship songs from East and West Africa during the event. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/EWTN
Members of the National Association of African Catholics in the United States pose for a group photo on July 17, 2024, at the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis. The group performed praise and worship songs from East and West Africa during the event. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/EWTN

The National Association of African Catholics in the United States registered more than 90 people for the congress.

The group performed praise and worship songs from East and West Africa, bringing their cultural heritage from Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, and Ivory Coast to the Exhibition Hall stage at the congress.

“Celebrating the Eucharist is at the center of everything we do,” said Sally Stovall, the president of the association. “That’s what the African community is trying to portray in terms of bringing our cultural heritage for everybody to see how we celebrate in our countries.”

Tim Glemkowski, CEO of the National Eucharistic Congress. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Tim Glemkowski, CEO of the National Eucharistic Congress. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

Tim Glemkowski, father of four and CEO of the National Eucharistic Congress, told CNA that he hopes each and every attendee at the congress will encounter Jesus personally and be sent on mission to share Christ’s love with the world.

“About two and a half years of planning have gone into this moment, and it’s incredible to see it come to fruition even greater than we expected in so many ways,” Glemkowski said. 

“God is with his Church right now. This all happened — the incredible pilgrimage with 250,000 people joining and 50,000 people here — it is all possible because God is doing something in his Church right now. And so we need to be attentive to that and open to what he’s trying to do today.”

Florida warns abortion amendment might ‘negatively affect’ state’s economy

null / Credit: Lost_in_the_Midwest/Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 18, 2024 / 15:26 pm (CNA).

The Florida government is warning that a proposed pro-abortion amendment to the state constitution could have a depressive effect on the state’s economy. 

The Florida abortion amendment proposal is titled the “Limiting Government Interference with Abortion Amendment” or simply “Amendment 4.” If passed, it would mandate that “no law shall prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict abortion before viability or when necessary to protect the patient’s health, as determined by the patient’s health care provider.”

This week the state Financial Impact Estimating Conference approved a “financial impact” statement that will be placed on the ballot alongside the abortion amendment. The statement provides an official analysis of the economic impact the amendment would have on Floridians if passed.

The impact statement says that the abortion amendment would “result in significantly more abortions and fewer live births per year in Florida,” something it says “may negatively affect the growth of state and local revenues over time.”

Additionally, the statement posits that there is “uncertainty about whether the amendment will require the state to subsidize abortions with public funds” and that “litigation to resolve those and other uncertainties will result in additional costs to the state government and state courts that will negatively impact the state budget.”

The statement concludes that “because the fiscal impact of increased abortions on state and local revenues and costs cannot be estimated with precision, the total impact of the proposed amendment is indeterminate.”

Jeremy Redfern, a representative for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office, told CNA that the amendment would not just impact unborn humans in Florida but also the state’s budget.

“Voters deserve to know that Amendment 4 will likely lead to additional litigation that could result in, among other costs, taxpayer-funded abortions up until the moment before birth,” he said, adding that the impact statement is “a clear, fiscally sound analysis that will help voters understand the financial impacts of Amendment 4.”

Floridians Protecting Freedom, the group behind the abortion amendment, responded to news of the impact statement with outrage, calling it “deceptive and politically motivated.”

Lauren Brenzel, one of the leaders in the campaign to pass the amendment, said in a statement that the campaign “worked hard to ensure that the language of our initiative met constitutional standards.”

“The standards for the state’s financial analysis are no different — the financial impact statement to accompany Amendment 4 should be lawfully accurate, unambiguous, straightforward, clear, and transparent,” she argued.

Michael New, a political economy professor at The Catholic University of America who was involved with the drafting of the impact statement, pushed back against the abortion group’s claims. He told CNA that Florida is required to provide such an impact statement for all ballot proposals.

“Florida voters should be able to cast an informed ballot and not be blindsided by unexpected taxes, fees, and costs,” New said.

According to New, the governor’s office identified 20 statutes involving abortion that could be challenged in court and cause the state expensive litigation fees, should the amendment pass.

In addition to this, he said that “there is a very good chance this ballot question would require the state Medicaid program to cover abortions,” meaning that state tax dollars would need to be used for abortions.

Though New believes that Florida voters should oppose the amendment because he says it “will endanger preborn children” and “leave thousands of Florida women facing a lifetime of regret,” he said it is also important for voters to be aware of its impacts on the economy.

“The current language [of the impact statement] is not a ‘trick.’ It reflects quality research about the impact of this law,” he said.

“Amendment 4 would have a negative long-term impact on the Florida economy. It would result in fewer children being born and place additional strain on future taxpayers.”

Oklahoma orders school board to rescind Catholic charter contract after court ruling

null / Credit: sergign/Shutterstock

CNA Staff, Jul 18, 2024 / 14:56 pm (CNA).

The Oklahoma attorney general is ordering a school board to rescind the contract of a budding Catholic charter school following a state Supreme Court ruling against the school last month. 

St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School would have been the first religious charter school in the nation, but in late June the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled against its establishment and ordered the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board to drop the Catholic institution’s contract.

State Attorney General Gentner Drummond had asked the high court to declare the state’s contract with the school unconstitutional on the grounds that it constituted public funding of a religious institution. Charter schools are publicly funded but are allowed to operate with a high degree of autonomy relative to standard public schools. 

St. Isidore’s, managed by the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, is appealing the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. The virtual charter school board, meanwhile — which has since been incorporated into the Statewide Charter School Board — has delayed rescinding the contract pending the outcome of the appeal.

Last week Drummond ordered the statewide charter board to comply with the court’s ruling. 

“You must know and accept that no state agency, board, or commission may willfully ignore an order from Oklahoma’s highest court,” Drummond wrote in a July 11 letter to the board members in which he said that the board had twice failed to rescind the contract. 

“Rather than abiding by the [state] Supreme Court’s order, the board has disregarded its duties by deferring to the [school’s] litigation whims,” he continued. 

Drummond ordered the board to rescind the contract either by calling a special meeting or moving the next scheduled board meeting to “no later than” the last day of July.

In a filing to the Oklahoma Supreme Court earlier this month, meanwhile, Drummond argued that a further stay would “[allow] the [school] to continue to tout its unconstitutional contract to unsuspecting families.”

St. Isidore had argued that the stay was for legal reasons, not to continue operation of the school at the moment.

A stay “would not permit St. Isidore to open to children or allow state charter school funding to go to St. Isidore while review by the U.S. Supreme Court is sought,” St. Isidore’s request read.

“The limited stay would simply preserve the current contract in the event the U.S. Supreme Court reverses [the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision],” the school said.

St. Isidore, a joint project between the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and the Diocese of Tulsa, was set to launch in August as an online, tuition-free, Catholic K–12 charter school based out of Oklahoma City.

The school had 200 students registered to start in the fall but has pushed out its start date due to the ongoing legal issues.

Ohio priest apologizes for destroying hard drive containing possible child porn

null / Credit: OlegRi/Shutterstock

CNA Staff, Jul 18, 2024 / 14:15 pm (CNA).

A priest in Ohio has issued an apology to parishioners after a media report revealed that he had destroyed a hard drive reportedly containing inappropriate pictures of children — and potentially child pornography — and then delayed reporting the incident to police. 

In a July 12 letter to parishioners at St. Susanna Catholic Church in Mason, Ohio, Father Barry Stechschulte said he wanted to “address” and “apologize for” his involvement in a controversy surrounding a priest accused of sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. 

Local Cincinnati ABC affiliate WCPO reported earlier this month on a yearslong controversy involving a Dayton-area priest, Father Tony Cutcher, who left ministry in 2021 amid a scandal involving “hundreds of text messages he exchanged with a 14-year-old boy.”

Some of the text messages included implied sexual overtones. Cutcher ultimately resigned from active priestly duties after an evaluation recommended a “restriction in ministry” stemming from the incident.

Part of WCPO’s report, meanwhile, focused on an incident in 2012 in which Stechschulte discovered “what looked like child pornography” on a computer at Holy Rosary Church in St. Mary’s, north of Dayton. Cutcher had previously served at that parish. 

The hard drive reportedly contained photos of “preteen” boys in “provocative poses.” The priest later told police that he “could not recall nudity or not, but it could have been.”

A deacon at the parish later said he “took the hard drive out of the computer and destroyed it with a blow torch at the request of Stechschulte,” a later police report said.

The priest did not report the incident to police until 2018. In his letter to parishioners this month, Stechschulte said he was “shocked and filled with disgust at what I saw” and that his “reaction in the moment was to ensure that no one else at the parish be exposed to it.” 

“So I instructed that the hard drive be destroyed. I realize that not reporting it was a terrible mistake, which I regret,” he said. 

“I wish that I could redo my initial decision from 2012,” the pastor added. “I am deeply sorry for the distress this has caused all of you.”

Police ultimately did a forensic analysis on multiple computers from Holy Rosary as well as computers from St. Peter Catholic Church in Huber Heights where Cutcher was serving in 2018. The machines “showed no child pornography or anything of concern.”

In a statement to WCPO, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati said it had “reported this case to law enforcement from the very beginning.”

“This has included reports to law enforcement in 2012, 2018, and 2021,” the archdiocese said. “In each instance no criminal charges were filed.”

In his letter, meanwhile, Stechschulte said he was “truly sorry” for his actions in 2012. 

“I love St. Susanna’s and ask you to forgive me and pray for me,” he wrote to parishioners. 

Vance seeks to reassure social conservatives about their role in Republican Party

Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, speaks to the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s “God and Country Breakfast” in Milwaukee on July 18, 2024. Vance told the audience he was raised Christian but became an atheist when he was in law school before coming into the Catholic Church later in his adult life. He blamed the “arrogance” of atheism for “a lot of secular culture in our country today.” / Credit: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 18, 2024 / 13:40 pm (CNA).

2024 U.S. Republican vice presidential nominee J.D. Vance promised social conservatives that they will continue to have “a seat at the table” in the Republican Party moving forward.

The senator from the state of Ohio, whom Trump announced as his running mate earlier this week, made the comment during a speech to a Faith and Freedom Coalition breakfast Thursday morning. The organization is a political advocacy group made up of social conservatives who are predominantly Christian.

“There has been a lot of rumbling in the past few weeks that the Republican Party of now and the Republican Party of the future is not going to be a place that’s welcoming to social conservatives,” Vance said in his brief address to attendees.

“And, really, from the bottom of my heart, I want to say that is not true,” Vance added. “Social conservatives have a seat at this table and they always will so long as I have any influence in this party and President Trump, I know, agrees.”

Vance’s comments come about a week and a half after Republican leadership voted to soften its official stance on abortion. The 2024 Republican National Convention’s platform committee took out a long-standing plank of the party’s platform that had affirmed an unborn child’s “fundamental right to life” and called for federal restrictions on abortion. Convention delegates ratified the removal of the plank during their quadrennial meeting on Tuesday.

The new platform simply affirms “no person can be denied life or liberty without due process” and adds that “states are, therefore, free to pass laws protecting those rights.” This conforms the plank to Trump’s campaign promise to oppose a national ban and leave abortion policy to the states.

Vance, in his Thursday morning speech, did not directly reference this shift but used a football analogy to explain the party’s gradual approach to certain socially conservative issues, saying the party must consider “how do we advance the ball one yard before you advance it 10 yards before we advance it to a touchdown.” He added that Trump “delivered for social conservatives more than any president in my 39 years of life.”

“I think he deserves a little bit of grace and he deserves a little bit of trust and I hope that we will all provide that to him,” Vance said.

Vance discusses conversion to Catholicism

Vance, who converted to Catholicism in 2019, also discussed his faith journey at the breakfast.

“If you practice your faith, if you pray, if you think about what it requires of you, then God makes you a little bit better each and every single day and that to me has been the greatest lesson and the greatest blessing of my faith,” Vance said.

Vance told the audience that he was raised Christian but that he became an atheist when he was in law school before coming into the Catholic Church later in his adult life. He blamed the “arrogance” of atheism for “a lot of secular culture in our country today” and explained how the birth of his child led him back to Christ.

“What really brought me back to Christ was finding a wife and falling in love and thinking about what was required of me as a husband and a father,” Vance said. “And the more that I thought about those deeper questions, the more that I thought that there was wisdom in the Christian faith that I had completely discarded and completely ignored but was most relevant to the questions that were presented in my life as a husband and father.”

If the Trump-Vance ticket wins in 2024, Vance will become the second Catholic vice president in U.S. history. The first Catholic vice president was current President Joe Biden during former President Barack Obama’s presidency.

National Eucharistic Congress begins in Indianapolis: ‘We did this for you, Lord’

Bishop Andrew Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, who spearheaded the U.S. bishops’ initiative of Eucharistic Revival, adores Christ in the Eucharist with tens of thousands of people in Lucas Oil Stadium on July 17, 2024. / Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

Indianapolis, Ind., Jul 18, 2024 / 09:35 am (CNA).

After years of planning and anticipation, the National Eucharistic Congress officially kicked off Wednesday evening with the triumphant culmination of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimages, the solemn entry of the Eucharistic Jesus in a papally-blessed golden monstrance, and speeches from Catholic luminaries that set the tone for the historic five-day event. 

The Congress, which has drawn tens of thousands of people to Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis, is the first such event to be held in the U.S. since World War II. The fruit of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ multiyear project of Eucharistic Revival, the Congress aims to galvanize Catholics in their faith and love for the Eucharist — the body and blood of Jesus — as preparation for a special nationwide year of mission.

From now until midday Sunday, the Congress promises numerous opportunities for Eucharistic adoration and Mass as well as exhibits, vendors, music, talks, and breakout sessions geared toward Catholics of all walks of life.

Perpetual Pilgrims from the St. Juan Diego Route process into Lucas Oil Stadium with an image of their patron saint. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Perpetual Pilgrims from the St. Juan Diego Route process into Lucas Oil Stadium with an image of their patron saint. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

First to arrive before the cheering crowds July 17 were the Perpetual Pilgrims — four groups of young men and women who carried the Eucharist a collective 6,500 miles through cities and over mountains and plains, converging finally on Tuesday at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in downtown Indianapolis. Each group of pilgrims approached the stage to thunderous cheers, placing an image that corresponded to each route’s patron saint.

Then it was time for the true star of the show to appear. 

The crowd fell silent as the Eucharist, contained in a large monstrance specially blessed by Pope Francis in 2023, was processed by Bishop Andrew Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, who spearheaded the U.S. bishops’ initiative of Eucharistic Revival.

For a time, the massive stadium was filled only with the sounds of praise and worship music while the attendees gazed upon and worshipped Christ. 

The exact number of attendees Wednesday has not been released, but organizers said shortly before the start of the Congress that over 50,000 were registered. Organizers also said that nearly 20 languages are spoken among the attendees, and that 1,000 priests and 200 bishops and cardinals are expected.

“We want every Catholic to realize that you are alive in the Eucharist and to encounter your love,” Cozzens prayed before the monstrance, before performing benediction. “We declare you to be the king of the universe, and the king of our hearts.”

Bishop Andrew Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, who spearheaded the U.S. bishops’ initiative of Eucharistic Revival, performs benediction with the Eucharist before a crowd of tens of thousands. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Bishop Andrew Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, who spearheaded the U.S. bishops’ initiative of Eucharistic Revival, performs benediction with the Eucharist before a crowd of tens of thousands. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

Following adoration, the three emcees for the Congress took the stage. Montse Alvarado, president and COO of EWTN News — the parent company of CNA — assured those in attendance, especially the young people of whom there are thousands, that there are “no coincidences” when it comes to God’s providence.

“Every single one of you has something that you’re asking God for, something that you’ve journeyed for here. That prayer will be answered in some way before Our Lord in the Eucharist,” Alvarado said. 

Father Josh Johnson, vocations director for the Diocese of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, told the attendees that the more time they spend with Jesus in Eucharistic adoration, the more they will be empowered to imitate him as the first disciples did. 

“Jesus Christ is here. And we have been invited here to this place to have an encounter with him, an encounter with Our Lord in the most Blessed Sacrament,” Johnson said. 

Montse Alvarado, president and COO of EWTN News, addresses a crowd of tens of thousands at Lucas Oil Stadium. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Montse Alvarado, president and COO of EWTN News, addresses a crowd of tens of thousands at Lucas Oil Stadium. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

Cardinal Christophe Pierre, Pope Francis’ apostolic nuncio to the United States, took the stage and said his presence “[expresses] the pope’s spiritual closeness to you” and called the Eucharist an “immense gift for unity.”

Pierre said his prayer for the Eucharistic Congress is that “we as a Church may grow in our unity, so that we become more fruitful in our mission.”

“What does it mean to have a Eucharistic Revival? ... When we are truly revived by the Eucharist, then our encounter with Christ’s real presence in the sacrament opens us to an encounter with him in the rest of our life. This means seeing him wherever we go,” the nuncio said.

“The adoration spills over in our daily life ... we do not remain the same as we were.”

Cardinal Christophe Pierre, Pope Francis’ apostolic nuncio to the United States, addresses the National Eucharistic Congress. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Cardinal Christophe Pierre, Pope Francis’ apostolic nuncio to the United States, addresses the National Eucharistic Congress. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

Attendees enthusiastic

Lines stretched around the block on Wednesday afternoon as attendees from far and wide waited to enter the Indiana Convention Center.

Dom Mann and his wife, Cassidy, Ohioans in their early 20s, are spending their first anniversary at the Congress. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Dom Mann and his wife, Cassidy, Ohioans in their early 20s, are spending their first anniversary at the Congress. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

Dom Mann and his wife, Cassidy, Ohioans in their early 20s, are spending their first anniversary at the Congress. They told CNA that they’ve grown together in their Catholic faith over the course of dating and marriage and came to the Congress seeking to “experience Jesus at a whole other level.”

“Our first time being Eucharistic ministers was our wedding. So to be able to have that and to spend our one-year at the Congress is just very beautiful and impactful,” Dom said. 

Jaella Mac Au, 20, was one of the Perpetual Pilgrims who traversed the western St. Junípero Serra Route, the longest of the four National Eucharistic Pilgrimages. She told CNA that her experience as a pilgrim helped her understand that Jesus “doesn’t just sit in a church” but desires to be brought out into the world for all to see.

Jaella Mac Au, one of the Perpetual Pilgrims, in front of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, the endpoint of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimages. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Jaella Mac Au, one of the Perpetual Pilgrims, in front of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, the endpoint of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimages. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

“It’s just been so beautiful to see the diverse heart of the Church and to see just a taste of the unity that the Lord desires for us,” Mac Au said.

“[The Church] is alive, and it is wonderful to see the diversity of hearts, of charisms, of spiritualities that came to these events. And just an honor to see all the young families coming, and then all of the older generations coming as well… revival is happening, and it’s beautiful.”

Sister Faustina and Sister Anastasia Marie, Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, came with a delegation of 22 sisters to the congress. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Sister Faustina and Sister Anastasia Marie, Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, came with a delegation of 22 sisters to the congress. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

Sister Faustina and Sister Anastasia Marie, Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, came with a delegation of 22 sisters to the congress. 

“The Eucharist is the center of our spirituality. All that we do comes from a relationship with our Lord, and we spend much of our day in prayer, and then we go out to serve in the apostolate,” Sister Faustina said. 

“We encounter Our Lord in the Eucharist and also go out to meet him with his people. And all of that comes from encountering him in the Eucharist.”

Tim Glemkowski, CEO of the National Eucharistic Congress, told CNA that he hopes each and every attendee at the Congress will encounter Jesus personally and be sent on mission to share Christ’s love with the world.

“About two and a half years of planning have gone into this moment, and it’s incredible to see it come to fruition even greater than we expected in so many ways,” Glemkowski said. 

“It all is possible because God is doing something in his Church right now. And so we need to be attentive to that and open to what he’s trying to do today.”

Tim Glemkowski, CEO of the National Eucharistic Congress. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Tim Glemkowski, CEO of the National Eucharistic Congress. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

What comes next 

The Congress’ opening liturgies — offered in various languages and various Catholic rites — began at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, followed by morning “Impact Sessions” from 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. 

The Impact Sessions will consist of talks and workshops “organized with various themes and intended audiences” that attendees can choose from. Organizers of the congress have explained that the sessions are geared toward different Catholics in attendance to best suit their needs. (The congress website includes detailed information about each session on its “Schedule” page.)

A National Eucharistic Congress attendee sings during Eucharistic adoration. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
A National Eucharistic Congress attendee sings during Eucharistic adoration. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

Blessed Carlo Acutis’ Eucharistic Miracles exhibit and the National Shroud of Turin Exhibit, featuring a replica of the incredible 14-foot linen burial shroud, will also be open to attendees daily from noon to 6:30 p.m. at the Indiana Convention Center.

Each evening of the Congress will culminate in a massive ”Revival Session” beginning at 7 p.m., which will feature keynote talks and praise and worship going into the 10 p.m. hour.

Jeffrey Bruno and Zelda Caldwell contributed to this story. 

Spiritual tone at RNC heightened in wake of Trump assassination attempt

“God was with me,” Trump said on Wednesday while speaking to a group of convention delegates, adding the close call “in many ways changes your attitude, your viewpoint on life. I think, honestly, you appreciate God even more.” / Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Milwaukee, Wis., Jul 18, 2024 / 09:15 am (CNA).

Acknowledgement of the supernatural is off the charts at this year’s Republican National Convention in the wake of former U.S. president Donald Trump’s harrowingly narrow escape from an assassination attempt.

Invoking the presence and blessing of the Author of Life, at both the Democratic and Republican parties’ presidential nominating conventions, is usually limited to just the opening and closing prayers of convention sessions or a closing phrase in a speech.

This year, however, former president Trump and his supporters have frequently invoked God’s role in human affairs. The day before the convention began, which was the day after a just-in-time turn of Trump’s head prevented a bullet from killing him, the former president himself credited “God alone” for saving his life. His supporters have frequently echoed that sentiment, both in conversations and in speeches from the convention podium.

“God was with me,” Trump said on Wednesday while speaking to a group of convention delegates, adding that the close call “in many ways changes your attitude, your viewpoint on life. I think, honestly, you appreciate God even more.”

Pauline Shultz, a Catholic attending the convention from Minnesota, said she thinks Trump’s new lease on life marks the beginning of a new chapter not only for him but also for the nation as a whole. Credit: Ken Oliver-Méndez/Catholic News Agency
Pauline Shultz, a Catholic attending the convention from Minnesota, said she thinks Trump’s new lease on life marks the beginning of a new chapter not only for him but also for the nation as a whole. Credit: Ken Oliver-Méndez/Catholic News Agency

Pauline Shultz, a Catholic attending the convention from Minnesota, said she thinks Trump’s new lease on life marks the beginning of a new chapter not only for him but also for the nation as a whole. 

“I believe that when President Trump gets back in, he’s going to be a changed man. He will be led by the Holy Spirit, and I think he’ll be softer in his spirit, but lead in strength,” Schultz said. “I believe that we as a nation are moving into a reawakening, or awakening,” she added.

Former U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan commented on the fact that at the decisive millisecond when the bullet was speeding his way to strike him dead, Trump turned his head to look at a projected chart about the flow of illegal immigration.

“I’m a Christian, too, and I believe in divine intervention. I think that’s what we saw that day,” Morgan told CNA. “If he had not turned his head to look at that chart, we would be going to a funeral.”

“If you didn't believe in miracles before Saturday, you better be believing right now," U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, declared. Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
“If you didn't believe in miracles before Saturday, you better be believing right now," U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, declared. Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina also drove the point home in his speech to the convention. “If you didn’t believe in miracles before Saturday, you better be believing right now,” Scott said. “Thank God Almighty that we live in a country that still believes in the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, the Alpha and the Omega. Our God, our God, still saves, he still delivers, and he still sets free.”

“On Saturday, the devil came to Pennsylvania holding a rifle,” Scott added, “but an American lion got back up on his feet, and he roared.”

In his speech to the convention, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio also squarely addressed the matter. “The last few days remind us that the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind is in the hands of God,” Rubio said.

“We were brought to the precipice of the abyss, and by the hand of God, reminded of what truly matters in our lives and in our country,” the Catholic senator noted, while also pointing to Trump’s remarkable feat that “although wounded and facing danger, he stood up and raised his fist and reminded us that our people and our country are always worth fighting for.”

In his own deeply spiritual remarks to convention delegates, renowned neurosurgeon and former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson told Americans on Tuesday that “these events have brought unusual clarity to the times we are living in.”

“I have no doubt that God lowered a shield of protection over President Trump,” Carson said. “And I join millions of Americans in thanksgiving for President Trump’s safety. And I encourage you to join me in praying each day for his continued protection.”

Meanwhile Bob Unanue, a Catholic who is CEO of Goya Foods, America’s largest Hispanic-owned food company, recalled to the delegates how “four years ago, I dared to say that we were blessed by Donald J. Trump” and how he “got into trouble for that” as the statement sparked furious calls from Democrats to boycott the company’s products.

Lambasting the Biden administration for going after “traditional Catholics,” Unanue called Trump “a courageous leader, and he will bring this nation closer to God.” 

Even the invocations and benedictions were more spirited than usual, with pastor Corey Brooks of Chicago’s New Beginnings Church using the opportunity to lead the delegates in a prolonged, loud shout of praise. “Why?” Brooks rhetorically asked and then immediately answered: “Because this week we could be having a week of mourning, but because God did not let any of those things be, this is a week of celebration and a week of life.”

Puebla state in Mexico decriminalizes abortion, archdiocese responds

null / Credit: BAUER Alexandre/Shutterstock

ACI Prensa Staff, Jul 18, 2024 / 07:00 am (CNA).

In a statement posted on Facebook the same day, the Archdiocese of Puebla expressed “its most profound sadness” after the legislators’ vote was announced.

In France, the great Jubilee of the Sacred Heart at Paray-le-Monial draws crowds

Roman Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paray-le-Monial and cloister. View from the Bourbince River, 2023. / Credit: Sanctuaire du Sacré-Cœur/www.sacrecoeur-paray.org

Paris, France, Jul 18, 2024 / 06:00 am (CNA).

From now until June 27, 2025, the small town of Paray-le-Monial in France will be celebrating a jubilee for the 350th anniversary of the Sacred Heart.