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UPDATE: NYC professor who vandalized student pro-life display is fired

Shellyne Rodriguez vandalized a pro-life display on May 2 that was sponsored by Students for Life of America. / YouTube/Students For Life May 18, 2023, YouTube/Whitney Museum of American Art Feb 28, 2018

Boston, Mass., May 23, 2023 / 14:29 pm (CNA).

A professor at Hunter College in New York City who vandalized a pro-life display on May 2 that was sponsored by Students for Life of America has been fired.

The new development comes the same day that the New York Post reported that the same professor, Shellyne Rodriguez, chased one of the outlet’s reporters with a machete after he tried to ask her questions outside of her Bronx apartment.

Rodriguez, who was an adjunct assistant professor and a member of the public university’s studio art faculty, is shown in a video insulting a group of pro-life students with expletives, while criticizing their display.

“You’re not educating s*. This is f**** propaganda,” she said to the students.

Rodriguez can be seen flipping a case holding fetal models and pushing informational cards off the table. The incident was caught on video and can be seen below. 

The professor used several profanities in communicating her anger to the students. 

“What are you going to do, like, anti-trans next?” she asked. “Is that what you’re going to do next?”

“I mean, no. We are talking about abortion,” a male student responds. 

“This is bull****. This is violent,” she responded. “You’re triggering my students.”

“I’m sorry about that,” the same student responded.

“No you’re not because you can’t even have a f****** baby,” she said. “So you don’t even know what that is.”

She continued: “You don’t even know what this is. Get this s* the f out of here. F this s*.”

In a statement to CNA Tuesday, Vince DiMiceli, a spokesperson for the college, said “Hunter College strongly condemns the unacceptable actions of Shellyne Rodriguez, and has taken immediate action.”

“Rodriguez has been relieved of her duties at Hunter College effective immediately, and will not be returning to teach at the school,” DiMiceli said.

A spokesperson for the college told Fox News Digital that an investigation into Rodriguez’s actions has been opened and that the school is “taking this matter very seriously.”

The spokesperson told Fox News Digital that an investigation into Rodriguez’s actions has been opened and that the school is “taking this matter very seriously.”

Hunter College is part of the City University of New York (CUNY) system and has an enrollment of 16,550 undergraduate students and 6,368 graduate students, 61% of whom are from New York City.

“This is clearly unacceptable behavior for a professional in any field, but particularly stunning for someone who is meant to educate students in a professional and unbiased manner,” Students For Life of America regional coordinator Taylor McGee said in an article from her organization.

“Professionals in a workplace have no business berating students for any reason, especially for peacefully engaging in dialogue. Free speech is essential for the growth and development of society, and we’ve seen throughout history the detrimental effect of suppressing free speech,” she added.

The New York Post reported that Rodriguez threatened one of its reporters who went to her Bronx apartment Tuesday to ask her questions.

When reporter Reuven Fenton knocked on the door and identified himself, Rodriguez shouted “Get the f–k away from my door, or I’m gonna chop you up with this machete!”

Rodriguez opened the door holding a machete and “alarmingly put the blade to the reporter’s neck,” the Post reported.

The outlet posted photos of the woman holding the machete to Fenton’s neck.

“Get the f* away from my door! Get the f* away from my door!” she said. She then went back into her apartment and slammed the door, the outlet reported.

Fenton and an accompanying photographer left the building, and Rodriguez chased after them while “armed,” the Post reported.

“If I see you on this block one more f****** time, you’re gonna …,” Rodriguez said while still “wielding” the machete, the outlet reported.

“Get the f* off the block! Get the f* out of here, yo!”

Rodriguez “briefly chased” the photographer to his car. She then approached the reporter and kicked him in the shins before returning to her apartment building, the outlet reported.

Conjoined twins born, baptized, and confirmed before passing

Nicole and Austin LeBlanc, a Catholic couple in Michigan, who welcomed their baby girls and will lay them to rest. / Photo courtesy of Nicole and Austin LeBlanc

Denver Newsroom, May 23, 2023 / 14:10 pm (CNA).

The story of Nicole and Austin LeBlanc, a Catholic couple from Michigan, has captured many hearts. CNA first shared their moving testimony on April 27 after the couple spoke with EWTN News Nightly about their journey after finding out they were expecting conjoined twins.

Rachel Clare and Maria Therese shared one heart and other major organs. The doctors immediately deemed the pregnancy high-risk and suggested termination. However, Nicole said she knew she was carrying two special little girls.

Rachel Clare and Maria Therese LeBlanc were born alive and were baptized and confirmed before taking their last breaths. Photo courtesy of Nicole and Austin LeBlanc
Rachel Clare and Maria Therese LeBlanc were born alive and were baptized and confirmed before taking their last breaths. Photo courtesy of Nicole and Austin LeBlanc

Originally scheduled for a cesarean section in early June, doctors decided to move the surgery because their growth, along with their heart, began to slow down. The LeBlancs met their babies on May 16 at 32 weeks’ gestation.

Rachel Clare and Maria Therese were born alive and immediately baptized and confirmed.

In an Instagram post, Nicole wrote: “They lived for about an hour until they took their last breaths. My girls were loved and held until their final moments and all that they knew their entire lives was love from Austin and I.”

“God designed them so beautifully in my womb and it was an absolute honor and privilege to carry them for as long as I could. Their lives have touched so many and the support my family has received has been nothing short of incredible,” she continued.

When the young mother learned of the news she took to social media to share her journey with others. She decided to share their story as an example of love and hope.

The couple shared that it was a test of faith, but through it all they relied on praying the rosary together daily. 

“We get together every night and we pray the rosary. That’s one of the biggest things … and just knowing that God has a plan for everything and there’s always a purpose for everything,” Austin said in the interview with EWTN News Nightly.

Several saints and biblical figures also impacted the couples’ faith and inspired the names they chose for their twin girls.

“We definitely want to have our babies be gifts to our Blessed Mother so, Maria, the Latin name for Mary,” Nicole explained. “And I’ve always had a special connection with the Old Testament story of Rachel so, Maria Therese and Rachel Clare.”

Throughout her pregnancy, Nicole received an outpouring of prayers and support from Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

In a tweet, Nicole wrote that her baby girls are “now enjoying the splendors of the beatific vision.”

LA Archdiocese: Dodgers’ decision to honor drag queen nuns disparages real religious sisters

A member of Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence at a 2019 event in San Francisco. / Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 23, 2023 / 13:53 pm (CNA).

Responding to the news that the Los Angeles Dodgers will honor a self-described “leading-edge order of queer and trans nuns” with a long history of obscenely satirizing the Catholic faith, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is calling for “all Catholics and people of goodwill to stand against bigotry and hate in any form.” 

“The decision to honor a group that clearly mocks the Catholic faith and makes light of the sincere and holy vocations of our women religious who are an integral part of our Church is what has caused disappointment, concern, anger, and dismay from our Catholic community,” the archdiocese said in a statement Tuesday.

“The ministries and vocations of our religious women should be honored and celebrated through genuine acts of appreciation, reverence, and respect for their sacred vows, and for all the good works of our nuns and sisters in service of the mission of the Catholic Church,” the statement continued.

“The Archdiocese stands against any actions that would disparage and diminish our Christian faith and those who dedicate their lives to Christ,” the statement said. “Let us also show our care and respect for our women religious by sending a message of support to their communities through phone calls, letters, and posts on their social channels, supporting vocations by donating to their orders, and/or making donations in their name to the programs they support,” the archdiocese said. “Let us show the world how much our women religious mean to us and our Church.”

After sharp criticism from Catholic advocacy groups and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, the Major League Baseball team at first backed down from its plans to honor the L.A. Chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence with a Community Hero Award at a June 16 LGBTQ+ Pride Night game against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium. Less than a week later, however, the Dodgers on Monday reversed course again, issuing an apology and a new invitation to participate in the event, which the Sisters accepted.

In response, CatholicVote, a Catholic advocacy group that publicly condemned the initial invitation, vowed to launch a “barrage” of advertising against the team across Los Angeles and in game broadcasts.

“This is a slap in the face of every Catholic,” CatholicVote President Brian Burch said in a statement. “We’re raising $1 million as fast as we can, and we will pummel this decision in advertising that the Dodgers can’t ignore.”

“Every advertiser, every season ticket holder, every charity, every fan must speak out against the Dodgers’ decision to promote anti-Catholic hate,” Burch added. “Why does ‘pride’ have to include honoring the most grotesque and scandalous anti-Catholic perverts?”

The Dodgers’ decision also drew the ire of San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone. “Our Catholic sisters devote themselves to serving others selflessly. Decent people would not mock & blaspheme them,” he tweeted Tuesday. “So we now know what gods the Dodger admin worships. Open desecration & anti-Catholicism is not disqualifying. Disappointing but not surprising. Gird your loins.”

Also on Tuesday, the Catholic League released a report citing examples of the Sisters’ anti-Catholic insults going back to 1979.

The list includes an “exorcism” and a “Condom Savior Mass” in 1987; a mock Mass in 1994 that featured “holy communion wafers and tequila”; a “Midnight Confessional Contest” held in a San Diego gay bar that gave prizes to those with the “hottest confessions”; and the group’s annual “Hunky Jesus” contest held every Easter Sunday.

“Our next step is to persuade Catholics in the Los Angeles area not to attend Pride Night on June 16,” Catholic League President Bill Donohue said in a statement Tuesday. “By boycotting this event, we can send a message to the Dodgers, and to Major League Baseball, that anti-Catholic bigotry is unacceptable.”

CNA requested comment from the Sisters’ L.A. chapter group through its website but did not receive a response before publication.

MiraVia maternity home brings hope and life to pregnant students in North Carolina

Ashley Banks and her son Jakori (left) and Janyla (right) at MiraVia on Dec. 12, 2019. / Courtesy of MiraVia

Washington D.C., May 23, 2023 / 13:34 pm (CNA).

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of reports by EWTN News detailing what U.S. Catholic colleges and universities do to support young mothers and students facing unexpected pregnancies. To see the full series, click here.

In 2019, Ashley Banks, from Hickory, North Carolina, was in her early 20s, destitute, and expecting her second child.

“There was no doubt in my mind, I thought I was going to get an abortion,” Banks told CNA. “I wasn’t really established as an adult; I didn’t have a steady job or anything like that. So, in my brain, my automatic thought was; ‘How am I going to take care of two children when I can’t even take care of myself and one?’”

With only two weeks until her unborn baby girl was due, Banks was given 30 days to vacate her home. Her car had already been repossessed, and she had nowhere to go and no money.

It was in this state of desperation that a friend told Banks about a maternity home called MiraVia next to the campus of a small Catholic school named Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, North Carolina.

With no options left, Banks decided to try it out.

Once she set foot inside MiraVia, Banks told CNA, she felt welcome immediately. After deciding to live at MiraVia, her life was never the same.

MiraVia (which means “miraculous way”) provided Banks with a private suite, complete with a bedroom, bathroom, and kitchenette. They helped her enroll in classes at Belmont Abbey, enabled her to get a job on campus, and, most importantly, empowered her to welcome her baby girl into the world.

Though she had initially been set on abortion, Banks said that it was her 1-year-old boy who convinced her to choose life for her daughter, who is just 15 months younger.

“Looking at my son … changed my mind about aborting my baby girl,” Banks said. “Seeing him grow, seeing his little personality and just thinking of what she could be.”

Though it was her son who convinced her to not abort, it was MiraVia that gave her a safe environment to begin raising her children.

Since its opening in 2013, MiraVia has been changing the lives of women like Banks from all over the United States.

MiraVia’s executive director, Debbie Capen, told CNA that their work is to help women avoid falling into the lie that having a child is the end of their dreams.

Capen feels especially called to this mission because she suffered an abortion while in college.

“I was away from my faith at the time, and I bought into the whole narrative out there that a child will ‘ruin your life’ or that you can’t achieve your goals,” Capen said. “What MiraVia provides is the answer to that. Once people see it, it alleviates so many of those fears and misperceptions.”  

Since opening, the MiraVia maternity home has given more than 60 pregnant and parenting students a refuge, helping them choose life and provide for their children in a safe and loving environment.

The land the home is on was originally donated by the Benedictine monks who founded Belmont Abbey College. Today, MiraVia continues to work closely with Belmont Abbey.  

According to Capen, students regularly volunteer to help with the cleaning, gardening, and at the donation center.

At times, entire Belmont Abbey sports teams have come to help with tasks such as re-mulching the grounds.

Capen recalled one semester in which a Belmont Abbey professor even assigned volunteering at MiraVia as a homework assignment. Belmont Abbey students also serve as staff in child care and in the kitchen.

A 10,000-square-foot facility, MiraVia can accommodate 15 mothers and their babies at a time. Each mother and her children receive three meals a day and a private suite to live in.

But rather than just giving a handout, MiraVia is dedicated to helping mothers and children achieve long-term success. With this goal in mind, the home provides free child care to allow mothers to attend classes or work.

During their stay, which can last the duration of their pregnancy and until two years after their baby is born, MiraVia provides mothers with regular counseling, helping them establish and follow through on short- and long-term goals.

All the mothers at MiraVia are university-level students, with 20% being enrolled at Belmont Abbey College and 80% at various other colleges in the region.  

“We are targeting a demographic that hardly anyone else is,” Capen explained.

According to Capen, though there are several maternity homes in the Charlotte area, MiraVia is the only one specifically devoted to helping pregnant and parenting college students and serving their particular needs.

As a Catholic charity, MiraVia seeks to serve these college mothers both physically and spiritually. The home has a permanent 24/7 eucharistic chapel available to the women and staff and offers regular Mass, confession, and spiritual guidance.

Though Capen says the staff is respectful of other faiths, they “encourage all our moms to have a spiritual life.”

To better serve mothers’ and children’s material needs, MiraVia even expanded to open an outreach center in downtown Charlotte, which has helped even more women with pregnancy and baby materials such as cribs, car seats, strollers, and diapers as well as life-skills classes and more.

Women who go to the outreach center can join peer support groups and participate in monthly classes designed to help them prepare for raising a child.

Ashley Banks and Jakori with MiraVia volunteer Sr. Mary Jacinta of the Daughters of the Virgin Mary, Feb. 14, 2020. Courtesy of MiraVia
Ashley Banks and Jakori with MiraVia volunteer Sr. Mary Jacinta of the Daughters of the Virgin Mary, Feb. 14, 2020. Courtesy of MiraVia

“College campuses are ground zero for the culture wars,” Capen said, adding that what MiraVia is working to do is to “change the culture overall at colleges.”

“Colleges talk about being inclusive, but they certainly don’t feel inclusive to pregnant and parenting students a lot of times,” Capen said. “So, I think that while we are serving individuals, and each mother and each baby that we serve is the measure of our success, I think overall what we hope to do is to impact the culture.”

Besides providing a safe refuge, Banks shared that MiraVia helped her to grow her relationship with God and changed her perspective on the value of life.

“I am now against abortion because there are other options even if you decide to have the baby,” Banks said.

If confronted by someone considering abortion today, Banks said that she would simply sit and talk with them, listening and sharing her story.

“I believe this is part of my testimony,” Banks said. “I don’t mind allowing people to know what I went through because there is a way to get through even the toughest times when you feel like there isn’t a way.”

When it comes to her faith, Banks, who is Christian but not Catholic, said she never felt “forced into Catholicism.” Nevertheless, she did regularly attend Sunday Masses while she lived at MiraVia.

The eucharistic chapel also played a significant role in her faith life and even helped her to introduce her children to God.

“It just created a really good environment to show them whenever you’re trying to establish a relationship with him this is how we do it, this is how we go to him, and this is how we pray,” she said.

Banks now has graduated from Belmont Abbey with an associate degree. She works at a temp service where she helps other people get jobs and lives with her two children in a three-bedroom apartment.

“They brought us in, helped me out, not just with the children or with housing but they also helped me to get my education, they helped me to work,” Banks said. “MiraVia is amazing; there isn’t one bad thing you could ever say about MiraVia.”

But for Banks, along with many mothers like her, MiraVia did more than just provide a temporary shelter.

The way Banks describes it is that MiraVia helped her to “grow up,” to be capable of supporting not only herself but also her two children.

“I always tell people that MiraVia really saved my life,” Banks said. “[Without MiraVia] me and my children would have been on the streets. MiraVia was just like an open door for me, they accepted me, they didn’t judge me, they loved me, they loved my children like their own.”

Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch blasts COVID lockdowns, closing of churches

United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch poses for an official portrait at the East Conference Room of the Supreme Court building on Oct. 7, 2022, in Washington, D.C. / Credit: Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Washington D.C., May 23, 2023 / 12:57 pm (CNA).

Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch blasted the COVID-19 emergency orders and lockdowns, calling them possibly “the greatest intrusions on civil liberties in the peacetime history of this country,” in a rare personal statement issued May 18.

Gorsuch, a Trump nominee, issued his statement in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Arizona v. Mayorkas to deny certain states’ appeal to continue Title 42 restrictions on immigration, a decision with which he agreed.

In his statement, Gorsuch criticized states’ efforts to extend Title 42 despite the COVID emergency officially ending this month.

“I do not discount the States’ concerns about what is happening at the border, but the current border crisis is not a COVID crisis,” Gorsuch said, adding that the court’s December 2022 decision to extend Title 42 was a “serious misstep” because it prolonged “an emergency decree designed for one crisis in order to address an entirely different one.”

Extending Title 42, Gorsuch argued, made the Supreme Court complicit in a major “disruption” begun during the COVID pandemic in “how our laws are made and our freedoms observed.”

Unfettered, and sometimes even assisted by legislative and judicial authorities, both local and executive leaders across the country struck at Americans’ fundamental freedoms, Gorsuch said.

“Executive officials across the country issued emergency decrees on a breathtaking scale,” Gorsuch wrote. “Governors and local leaders imposed lockdown orders forcing people to remain in their homes. They shuttered businesses and schools, public and private. They closed churches even as they allowed casinos and other favored businesses to carry on. They threatened violators not just with civil penalties but with criminal sanctions, too.”

Gorsuch also decried how authorities seemed to target churches during the pandemic, saying that “they surveilled church parking lots, recorded license plates, and issued notices warning that attendance at even outdoor services satisfying all state social-distancing and hygiene requirements could amount to criminal conduct.”

Federal executive authorities also violated Americans’ fundamental freedoms, Gorsuch said.

“They used a workplace-safety agency to issue a vaccination mandate for most working Americans. They threatened to fire noncompliant employees and warned that service members who refused to vaccinate might face dishonorable discharge and confinement. Along the way, it seems federal officials may have pressured social-media companies to suppress information about pandemic policies with which they disagreed,” Gorsuch wrote.  

Gorsuch cited as an example Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo, in which a Catholic diocese sued then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for targeting communities of faith by imposing especially strict rules on attendance.

At the time, Cuomo stated: “We know religious institutions have been a problem. We know mass gatherings are the super-spreader events. We know there have been mass gatherings going on in concert with religious institutions in these communities for weeks.” 

In cases such as these, Gorsuch said, public authorities “forced individuals to fight for their freedoms in court.”

Gorsuch then appeared to call on Congress and state legislatures to “reexamine the proper scope of emergency executive powers.”

“While executive officials issued new emergency decrees at a furious pace, state legislatures and Congress — the bodies normally responsible for adopting our laws — too often fell silent,” Gorsuch wrote.

The judicial system, too, shares some of the blame, according to Gorsuch.

“Courts bound to protect our liberties addressed a few — but hardly all — of the intrusions upon them. In some cases, like this one, courts even allowed themselves to be used to perpetuate emergency public-health decrees for collateral purposes.”

“Many lessons can be learned from this chapter in our history, and hopefully serious efforts will be made to study it. One lesson might be this: Fear and the desire for safety are powerful forces,” Gorsuch suggested.

“The concentration of power in the hands of so few may be efficient and sometimes popular. But it does not tend toward sound government,” Gorsuch cautioned. “However wise one person or his advisors may be, that is no substitute for the wisdom of the whole of the American people that can be tapped in the legislative process.”

“Decisions produced by those who indulge no criticism are rarely as good as those produced after robust and uncensored debate,” Gorsuch said.

Though he admitted that “decisive executive action is sometimes necessary and appropriate,” Gorsuch warned that “if emergency decrees promise to solve some problems, they threaten to generate others, and rule by indefinite emergency edict risks leaving all of us with a shell of a democracy and civil liberties just as hollow.”

Survey: Fewer Americans confident about God’s existence, but many still pray

null / Champion studio via

Denver, Colo., May 23, 2023 / 10:30 am (CNA).

Only about half of Americans now say they are certain that God exists, and though regular religious attendance has declined, many Americans say they still pray several times a day.

A snapshot of American religiosity comes from NORC at the University of Chicago, which released the 2022 data from the General Social Survey (GSS) on May 15. The survey is considered one of the top sources of data on Americans’ opinions.

“The past three years were a period of great trial and change for the United States. Understanding how these times affected Americans’ thoughts, beliefs, and opinions is critical to understanding social change,” René Bautista, director of the GSS, said May 15.

The survey of U.S. adult residents was conducted through in-person interviews, self-administered internet surveys, and phone interviews. The GSS codebook, an accompanying document on the survey methods, says changes to the survey methodology during the COVID-19 pandemic could result in apparent changes in opinion, attitudes, and behaviors in 2021 and 2022 compared with results from previous years.

Do you believe in God?

Among the many views surveyed included the question of Americans’ confidence in the existence of God.

About 50% of Americans said that they “know God exists and have no doubts.” That number has not changed since 2021. This response peaked at 65% in 1993 and fell to 60% in 2008. Another 16% told the GSS that they “believe in God but have doubts,” down slightly from its 1988 peak of 19%. Another 14% said that they believe in “some higher power.”

About 6% said they believe in God “sometimes,” while about 7% responded “don’t know and no way to find out.” Though given the option “don’t know,” zero percent chose this option.

About 7% said they do not believe in God, unchanged from 2021. Nonbelief in God hovered around 2%-3% for decades until 2014, when it began to increase.

Are you religious?

On the topic of self-identified religiosity, 14% told the GSS they were “very religious,” 32% identified as “moderately religious,” and 25% as “slightly religious.” The “moderately religious” showed the largest decline, down from 38% in 2018 and 41% in 2010.

There is an upward trend in respondents who identify as “not religious.” In 2022, 29% chose this response, down slightly from the 2021 peak of 32%. Before 2012, fewer than 20% of respondents had ever chosen this answer.

How often do you attend religious services?

Religious attendance figures appear to reflect this nonreligious trend. Among GSS respondents, 34% said they never attended religious services, a new high. This figure first hit 30% in 2018 and 20% in 1998 after hovering at about 15% for decades.

As many as 11% of respondents said they attended religious services less than once a year, 13% said they attended once a year, and 10% attended several times a year. Only 4% said they attended once a month, 5% attended two or three times a month, and 4% attended “nearly every week.”

About 13% attended religious services weekly, a slight increase over 2021 respondents but a decline from 18% in 2018. GSS respondents have never reported weekly attendance over 30%, though this figure peaked at 29% in 1972, the first year GSS asked this question.

About 5% of respondents attended religious services more than once a week. This response last peaked at 9% in 1993 and has never exceeded 9% since 1972.

How often do you pray?

Self-reported prayer was more popular than self-reported church attendance. According to the GSS, 28% of respondents said they pray several times a day, down slightly from a 2004 peak at 31%. Another 20% said they pray once a day, an increase from 16% in 2021 but down from 28% in 2018, where the figure had held steady for decades.

Another 13% said they prayed several times a week, while 6% prayed once a week. The numbers of those who rarely or never pray are near a historic high: 34% said they prayed “less than once a week or never,” a decline from the 2021 peak at 38%.

Are you spiritual?

The GSS also inquired whether respondents identified as spiritual. Among respondents, 26% identified as “very spiritual,” 32% identified as “somewhat spiritual,” 26% identified as “slightly spiritual,” and 15% identified as “not spiritual.” The nonspiritual have trended slightly upward in recent years, while the “somewhat spiritual” respondent numbers have declined.

Do you have confidence in organized religion?

Confidence in organized religion has also dropped significantly. Confidence peaked in 1974 when 45% of GSS respondents voiced “a great deal of confidence” in organized religion. In 2022, only 15% did, about the same as the all-time low in 2021.

About 49% of respondents voiced “only some” confidence in organized religion, the first time under 50% since 2000. Another 33% of respondents voiced “hardly any confidence” in organized religion, comparable with 2021 and still above the previous peak, 30% in 1989. In 1975, only 11% of Americans responded this way.

The 2022 data for the GSS is based on 3,544 completed surveys from May 4 to Dec. 20 as well as 601 additional completed surveys for an oversample of Black, Hispanic, and Asian respondents from the NORC AmeriSpeak Panel.

Pope Francis appoints Pennsylvania priest to lead Diocese of Kalamazoo, Michigan

Bishop-elect Edward M. Lohse, 61, will be installed in the Diocese of Kalamazoo, Michigan, on July 25, 2023. / Diocese of Kalamazoo

Rome Newsroom, May 23, 2023 / 04:50 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Tuesday appointed Erie, Pennsylvania, priest Monsignor Edward M. Lohse to lead the Diocese of Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Lohse, 61, succeeds Bishop Paul J. Bradley, 77, whose resignation was accepted by Pope Francis on May 23.

Bradley will continue to serve as apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Kalamazoo until Lohse’s ordination in St. Augustine Cathedral on July 25, according to the diocese.

The Diocese of Kalamazoo, which comprises nine counties in southwest Michigan, has 59 parishes, 21 Catholic schools, and almost 80,000 Catholics.

Bishop-elect Lohse has been vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Diocese of Erie since 2017.

During his 34 years as a Catholic priest, he has been a parish priest, high school chaplain, vocations director, chancellor, official in the Vatican’s Dicastery for Clergy, director of the child protection office, and an adjunct faculty member at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

Lohse, the sixth of a family of seven children, grew up in Pennsylvania. After earning a bachelor of arts degree in history, he entered the seminary. He was ordained a priest in April 1989.

The bishop-elect also has a license and doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

“The task ahead is a daunting one, but none of us walks the path of faith alone,” Lohse said in a May 23 press release.

“I know that I will need to count on the prayers of Bishop Bradley, the priests, religious, and laity of the diocese, and I pledge my prayers for them in return,” he said. “Together, we will go forward to proclaim Christ and to meet him in the hearts of all God’s people in the Diocese of Kalamazoo.”

Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Bishop Paul Bradley of Diocese of Kalamazoo; Appoints Rev. Msgr. Edward Lohse as Successor

WASHINGTON - Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Paul J. Bradley, 77, from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Kalamazoo, and has appointed Reverend Monsignor Edward M. Lohse, as Bishop-elect of Kalamazoo. Bishop-elect Lohse is a priest of the Diocese of Erie, and currently serves as vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Diocese of Erie, and as pastor of Saint Julia parish in Erie, Pennsylvania.

The resignation and appointment were publicized in Washington, D.C. on May 23, 2023, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Monsignor Lohse was born November 23, 1961, in Erie, Pennsylvania. He received a Bachelor’s degree in history (1984) from Gannon University in Erie, as well as a Master of Divinity (1988) and a Doctor of Divinity (2010) from Saint Vincent Seminary in Latrobe. He received a License in Canon Law (2002) and a Doctorate in Canon Law (2015) from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He was ordained to the priesthood on April 21, 1989. He was named a Chaplain to His Holiness with the title of Monsignor in 2015.

Bishop-elect Lohse’s assignments after ordination include: parochial vicar at Saint Thomas the Apostle parish in Corry (1989-1990); a member of the faculty and campus ministry at Central Catholic Junior-Senior High School (now Dubois Central Catholic School) in DuBois (1990-1995); and a member of the adjunct faculty (1993 and 1996) and acting university chaplain (1997-1999) at Gannon University in Erie. He has also served the Diocese of Erie in a number of roles, including director of the diocesan vocations office (1995-2000), vice chancellor (2001-2007), and chancellor (2007-2010).

From 2010-2015, he served as an official in the Dicastery for the Clergy at the Vatican, and as an adjunct faculty member at the Pontifical North American College (2011-2015) in Rome. Upon his return to the Diocese of Erie in 2016, he served as episcopal vicar for canonical services until 2017 when he was named vicar general and moderator of the curia, and as the director for the diocesan Office for the Protection of Children and Youth, which are roles he currently holds.

Bishop-elect Lohse has been a member of the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors (1995-2000 and 2002-2010); the Canon Law Society of America (2002 to present); a member of the Board of Regents at Saint Vincent Seminary (2003-2010); a member of the Cathedral Preparatory School’s Academic Excellence Foundation (2003-2009); and a member of the Board of Trustees at Gannon University (2016 to present). He speaks Italian and German.

The Diocese of Kalamazoo is comprised of 5,337 square miles in the State of Michigan and has a total population of 966,198, of which 77,819 are Catholic.


U.S. Bishops to Meet June 14-16 in Orlando; Assembly to Be Live Streamed

WASHINGTON - The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will gather for the 2023 Spring Plenary Assembly in Orlando, June 14-16. The general sessions will be on June 15 and 16 and will be livestreamed on the USCCB website.

The bishops will spend time in prayer and fraternal dialogue with one another prior to the commencement of the general sessions. The public portion of the assembly will begin with an address by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Papal Nuncio to the United States. The bishops will also hear from Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, who serves as Conference president.

During the plenary, the bishops will receive updates on the Eucharistic Revival and on the ongoing preparations for the National Eucharistic Congress in 2024, as well as the participation in World Youth Day with Pope Francis in Lisbon this August.

The meeting agenda is not yet finalized and therefore, subject to change, but is expected to include updates, discussions, and votes on a number of items including:

  • a consultation of the bishops on causes of beatification and canonization for five diocesan priests of the Diocese of Shreveport who are locally referred to as the “Shreveport Martyrs.”
  • a plan for the ongoing formation of priests, which provides some guidance for priests to continue their personal and priestly formation following ordination to the priesthood.
  • the priorities that will shape the USCCB’s Strategic Plan for 2025-2028.
  • four action items pertaining to the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), the commission established for the benefit of bishops’ conferences in countries where English is used in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy according to the Roman Rite. One of the action items pertains to the revision of the statutes that govern ICEL’s work; the remaining three address the approval of translations: the Liturgy of the Hours and Liturgical Texts for Saint Faustina Kowalska; the Ordinary of the Liturgy of the Hours; and the Proper Texts of the United States of America for the Liturgy of the Hours.
  • the development of a process for a new pastoral statement addressing persons with disabilities in the life of the Church.
  • the National Pastoral Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry
  • a revision of Part Three of the Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs) for Catholic Health Care Services.

Public sessions of the assembly will be held on the mornings of June 15 and 16, and livestreamed at: -- news updates, vote totals, texts of addresses and presentations, and other materials will be posted to this page. Those wishing to follow the meeting on social media are invited to Twitter (@USCCB) as well as on Facebook ( and Instagram ( and look for #USCCB23.


Pope Francis adds Fátima visit to World Youth Day trip

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis will visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Fátima during his trip to Portugal for World Youth Day 2023, the Vatican said.

In a statement May 22, Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See Press Office, confirmed that the pope will travel to Lisbon Aug. 2-6 and will visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Fátima Aug. 5.

Pope Francis, who repeatedly has said he intended to be in Lisbon for World Youth Day, had not spoken publicly about also going to Fátima in August. In October 2022, he publicly registered to attend World Youth Day as a pilgrim with the help of two Portuguese university students after praying the Angelus from the window of the papal apartments overlooking St. Peter's Square. Logo for World Youth Day 2023

The Marian shrine at Fátima is connected to Pope Francis' public prayer appeals for an end the war in Ukraine. In March 2022, just over one month after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the pope consecrated both countries to Mary's immaculate heart, praying before a statue of Our Lady of Fátima in St. Peter's Basilica. Before her death, Sister Lúcia dos Santos, one of the three Portuguese children who claimed to see apparitions of Our Lady of Fátima in 1917, had said Mary requested that Russia be consecrated to her immaculate heart by a reigning pope to bring peace to the world.

Previous popes had consecrated Russia to Mary's immaculate heart in various forms but had never mentioned the country by name as Pope Francis did in 2022.

In 2017, Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the shrine to mark 100 years since the apparitions of Our Lady of Fátima as part of a quick trip to Portugal that lasted just over 24 hours. He canonized Francisco Marto and Jacinta Marto, the cousins of Sister dos Santos, who also saw Mary at Fátima. Francisco in 1919 at the age of 10, while Jacinta succumbed to her illness in 1920 at the age of 9. Sister dos Santos died in 2005 at the age of 97.