Browsing News Entries

Ohio AG will appeal to maintain law banning Down syndrome abortions

Columbus, Ohio, Mar 16, 2018 / 05:09 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A federal judge has blocked a law from taking effect next week which bans abortions after a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.

After the law was blocked by Judge Timothy Black March 14, the Catholic Conference of Ohio expressed disappointment in decision but also hope that it may be overturned after an appeal by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

“We are disappointed, we do think that it was an appropriate first step to point out, specifically, that so many Down syndrome children are aborted,” said Jim Tobin, Associate Director of the Department of Social Justice at the Catholic Conference of Ohio.

“We are still hopeful that there are other appeals that are available here and that we may be able to yet overturn this decision,” he told CNA.

The law, which was due to go into effect March 23, bans abortions solely due to a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis. It imposes criminal penalties on medical professionals, but women procuring abortions are not penalized.

The law was signed by Governor John Kasich in December 2017.

On behalf of Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in February against the Ohio Department of Health, county prosecutors, and members of the state medical board.

Black blocked the law's implementation as a privacy violation: “It violates the right to privacy of every woman in Ohio and is unconstitutional on its face,” he wrote.

Supporters of the law have questioned Black’s impartiality. He had served as president of Cincinnati’s Planned Parenthood in 1988 and as its director from 1986-1989.
He recused himself from a case involving Planned Parenthood in 2014.

Tobin lamented the blocking of the law, calling it a tragic case disrespectful to human life.

“It’s just tragic that, particularly in the case of Down syndrome, folks would decide that [these babies] are better off aborted than lovingly cared for or placed for adoption,” he said, noting these cases show “a loss of respect for the dignity of all human life and their value.”

In a March 15 statement, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said will appeal Black’s decision.

“I strongly disagree with the district court's ruling that there is a categorical right to abortion that prevents even any consideration of Ohio's profound interests in combatting discrimination against a class of human beings based upon disability. We will be appealing.”

How the Irish built Catholic America

Denver, Colo., Mar 16, 2018 / 04:12 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The history of Catholic America is, in many ways, an Irish story, with immigrant congregations and their descendants putting their stamp on many churches across the country.
“It was the Irish who made the Church grow,” said Michael McCormack, National Historian of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish-American Catholic fraternity, noting the early anti-Catholicism of America’s British colonies.

Christopher Shannon, a Christendom College history professor, said the Irish were “the most powerful ethnic group in the Catholic Church” in the U.S. during a wave of mass migrations from the mid-1800s to the early 20th century.
“They were disproportionately represented among the clergy, and especially over-represented among the episcopacy,” Shannon told CNA. “By the mid-nineteenth century, Irish clergy had taken the lead in church building to serve the immigrant populations of the industrial cities of the East Coast and the Midwest.”
“Except for churches founded explicitly by non-Irish groups seeking to maintain their distinct ethnic traditions, every church in the immigrant city was a little Irish,” he continued. “The great cathedrals of these cities—the Basilica of the Assumption in Baltimore, the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, and of course, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City—were most certainly Irish-built.”
McCormack, a Long Island resident, also cited the Irish role in raising New York City’s famous cathedral named for Ireland’s patron saint.
“They weren’t very rich, they settled in the poorest part of the city, but their pennies built St. Patrick’s Cathedral,” he said.
For Shannon, Old St. Patrick’s Church on West Adams Street in Chicago is “an example of one of the most Irish churches in America.” For his part, McCormack invoked the work of Irish-born frontierswoman and gold prospector Nellie Cashman, who helped build churches from Tombstone, Ariz. to Anchorage, Alaska.
Several years ago the Ancient Order of Hibernians launched a project to gather information on what Irish-Americans had donated to the Catholic Church.
“We got a slew of information from churches that had been built by the Irish all across the country,” said McCormack. “Railroad workers, canal diggers, whatever you want to call them, they built the Church. We started collecting photographs of stained glass windows donated by the Irish to the churches that they built. We were absolutely floored by the numbers that came in.”
They collected over 500 photographs of windows in churches that had been donated by Hibernian groups.
“This was a significant indication that it was the Irish who not only built but supported the churches, but continued ongoing support of the churches,” said McCormack.
Churches served as community centers when Irish-born immigrants and their families were low in social and economic status and faced prejudice.
“The church provided a gathering place for them, to get together and socialize. It brought communities together, to a large degree,” McCormack said.
“For the Irish, the parish was the center of their lives, and the church building was the center of the parish,” Shannon explained. “The church was far more than just a place to go to Mass on Sunday. It was a social center with a full range of activities—from devotional societies and charity organizations to sports and recreation. And of course, many parishes also had parochial schools.”
Shannon noted that before the dominance of the automobile, the parish was “a walkable community.”
“Between church and school, Irish children could grow up largely within a fairly self-contained, local Catholic community,” he said. “If this could for some appear oppressive and claustrophobic, for most the immigrant and ethnic parish provided a sense of security, community and identity that few parishes, indeed few social institutions of any kind, can claim in America today.”
McCormack finds these communities endure in the small towns of upstate New York.
“Those parishes are funded by fundraisers that are run by Irish organizations and Irish people. The Ancient Order of Hibernians, for one, is a strong Irish Catholic organizations that donates and continues the food drives at the Catholic churches across the states,” he said.
Shannon said the strength and vitality of urban parish life was the foundation of Catholic vitality in America from 1850s to the 1950s.
“We should welcome the new emphasis on personal spirituality that has grown since the Second Vatican Council, but the historic experience of the urban ethnic parish is the most powerful reminder that the Church is not simply a collection of individual seekers, but a communion of saints, the Body of Christ,” said Shannon.  
“The poor still realize this in their daily struggle to survive. Middle-class Catholics who have achieved a degree of material security may not need the parish in the way that immigrants once did, but one does not have to look too far to see the spiritual and cultural poverty that have accompanied middle-class prosperity.”
McCormack said the unity of these immigrant Irish parishes is a lesson for today.
“We are one people, we are one community. The unity that holds the community together is largely centered around the faith,” he said.
While many young people are starting to lose that sense, McCormack said that the Ancient Order of Hibernians finds that as young people get older they start to accept their faith and heritage and start to come back.
“They mature in their faith, they mature in their heritage, and when they do that they head straight to the church. And that’s a good thing,” he said.
Speaking ahead of St. Patrick’s Day, McCormack lamented that the media and the general public use the day to “poke fun at the Irish, thinking it’s a big joke.” He noted the “nasty Irish jokes” such as Irish-themed T-shirts with “Drunk-meters” on them, “which are really not the Irish people” and “really not the Irish heritage.”
Shannon suggested that contemporary Catholics should learn from the experience of the Irish and other immigrants “a desire to commit themselves to making the parish the center of their lives, encompassing the full range of life activities, from the serious to the trivial.”
The ability to walk to one’s parish church can be very important, he suggested: “Community will never survive or thrive as a state of mind—it must be a physical place.”


Philly archdiocese responds after city halts foster care placements

Philadelphia, Pa., Mar 16, 2018 / 04:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- After the City of Philadelphia announced it has stopped using Catholic Social Services’ foster care program because it does not place children with same-sex couples, the archdiocese has said it hopes to resume a partnership with the city.

On March 15, Philadelphia Councilwoman Cindy Bass introduced a resolution authorizing the city’s Public Health and Human Services to investigate the city’s partnership with organizations that do not place foster children with LGBTQ people, calling it discriminatory.

Due to the resolution, the city’s Department of Human Services ceased new foster care child intakes with Catholic Social Services and with another faith-based agency, Bethany Christian Services. Earlier this month, Philadelphia officials issued a public service announcement expressing the city’s urgent need for 300 foster families.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia's chief communications officer, Kenneth Gavin, told CNA that Catholic Social Services hopes the foster care partnership with the city will resume.

“Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (CSS) recognizes the vital importance of the foster care program in our city and is proud to provide safe and nurturing foster environments to young people in need,” said Gavin. “We hope to continue our productive relationship with the City of Philadelphia to serve those among us in need.”

“CSS is, at its core, an institution founded on faith based-principles. The Catholic Church does not endorse same-sex unions based upon deeply held religious beliefs and principles. As such, CSS would not be able to consider foster care placement within the context of a same-sex union,” Gavin said.

Catholic Social Services provides foster care services to any young person in need of assistance regardless of background and without making inquiry as to their sexual identity or orientation, according to Gavin. “That’s important to note as it is also a deeply held religious belief for us to provide care for all those in need with dignity, charity, and respect,” he explained.

“Given its affiliation with the Archdiocese, CSS cannot provide services in any manner or setting that would violate its institutional integrity, core values, and Catholic beliefs. That fact is a well-established and long-known one in our relationship with DHS,” continued Gavin.

In a CSS annual report released in 2016, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia remarked that “I’ve been blessed on numerous occasions to witness firsthand how Catholic Social Services (CSS) promotes the dignity of the persons they serve, particularly the weak and vulnerable.”

“The long history of CSS foster care and adoption services is replete with stories of their paving the way for new parents to open the doors of their hearts to children,” Chaput continued.

Catholic Social Services will continue to care for the 241 children that it has currently placed in foster arrangements due to child referrals from the city.

Legalizing divorce would devastate families, warn Philippines bishops

Manila, Philippines, Mar 16, 2018 / 01:40 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- As the Philippines considers legalizing divorce, the nation’s bishops are speaking out against the measure, warning that it would be detrimental to couples and families, especially children.

“In a context in which divorce is presented as an easy option, marriages and families are bound to break up more easily,” said Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

“Divorce, while it may indeed provide quick legal remedies for some seemingly ‘failed marriages,’ might end up destroying even those marriages that could have been saved by dialogues or the intervention of family, friends, pastors and counselors,” Archbishop Valles continued.

Valles’ words came in a pastoral statement on behalf of the country’s bishops, released on March 13.

A strongly Catholic country, the Philippines is one of the only nations where the practice of divorce is not legal, along with Vatican City. The new divorce bill, which was authored by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, would change the country’s laws against divorce and make the practice legal throughout the nation.

Currently, annulments are allowed within the Philippines, although the process of obtaining one can be time consuming and costly. The country also allows for legal separation, which does not allow an individual to remarry.

The divorce bill was approved by the House of Representatives on Wednesday. It is unclear how it will fare in the Senate.

While the divorce bill is pending, Archbishop Valles urged lawmakers to consider the “social costs” which accompany the “easy recourse to the dissolution of marriage,” especially when couples face difficulties in their marriage.

Valles pointed to “progressive countries,” such as the United States, where he said 4 out of 10 marriages are ending in divorce. The archbishop urged against taking this same path, noting that every marriage will go through its own set of trials and challenges.  

“Even couples in seemingly successful marriages would often look back and recall the countless challenges that had almost brought their relationship to a breaking point if they had not learned to transcend personal hurts through understanding and forgiveness, or sometimes through the intervention of a dialogue facilitator such as a marriage counselor,” the archbishop said.

He also emphasized the “emotional and psychological toll” that divorce imposes on children, warning that should the bill pass, “More children will grow up disoriented and deprived of the care of both parents.”

The archbishop’s words were echoed by a group of 24 other lay organizations and movements throughout the Philippines, who released a Feb. 21 statement against the divorce bill.

Signatories included the Couples for Christ Global Mission Foundation, Prayer Warriors of the Holy Souls, Alliance for the Family Foundation, and Educhild Foundation.

“Couples who overcome trials in marriage together grow in virtue and happiness,” the statement read.

“That is why decent peoples of the world accompany couples and families toward reconciliation and healing.”


Baby box safe haven bill clears key hurdle in Peruvian congress

Lima, Peru, Mar 16, 2018 / 10:46 am (ACI Prensa).- A save haven bill that would allow mothers to leave their children at certain drop off locations to be taken into state custody without punishment is moving forward in the Peruvian legislature.

The “Saving Cradles and Confidential Birth” bill passed out of the Committee on Women March 14 with a favorable vote of 4-2, clearing the way for its final passage by the full assembly of the unicameral Peruvian congress.

The Saving Cradles Association, which is backing the legislation, told ACI Prensa, the Spanish-language sister agency of CNA, that this bill seeks to help “Peruvian women who for some very personal reason cannot or do not want to raise the children they are expecting, as well to help their own unborn children, and to protect babies abandoned on the street which puts their lives in danger.”

The bill provides for adequate and safe locations installed in private and public health care centers where women can leave their newborns. It establishes a legal procedure that allows for anonymity for the parents and places the state in charge of the adoption process.

Members of congress supporting the bill said that the legislation seeks to “give an alternative to women who cannot or do not want to raise their newborns, as well as to ensure the boy or girl's right to life and to live in a family.”

The Saving Cradles Association congratulated “members of congress Betty Ananculi, Juan Carlos Gonzales, Tamar Arimborgo and Cecilia Chacón who are working in a concrete and effective manner for the women and children of Peru.”

The organization said it is “hopeful that this goal will soon be achieved with a favorable vote in the full assembly of the Congress of the Republic.”


U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference Chairmen Urge Support for the ‘First Amendment Defense Act’

WASHINGTON—Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, gave their strong support for the First Amendment Defense Act, which was recently introduced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) in the U.S. Senate:

"We welcome and applaud the recent reintroduction of the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA). The USCCB has been vocal in support of the legislation since its inception. FADA is a modest and important measure that protects the rights of faith-based organizations and people of all faiths and of no faith who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. For example, in a pluralistic society, faith-based charitable agencies and schools should not be excluded from participation in public life by loss of licenses, accreditation, or tax-exempt status because they hold reasonable views on marriage that differ from the federal government's view.

The leadership of the Catholic Church will continue to promote and protect the natural truth of marriage as foundational to the common good. The Church will also continue to stand for the ability of all to exercise their religious beliefs and moral convictions in public life without fear of government discrimination.

We are pleased to support the First Amendment Defense Act, and we urge Congress to pass this important legislation."

The letter of support for the First Amendment Defense Act is available at

Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Joseph E. Kurtz, Committee for Religious Liberty, Bishop James D. Conley, Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, First Amendment Defense Act, House, FADA, federal government, U.S. Congress, Oversight and Government Reform Committee, religious freedom, marriage, man, woman, discrimination, conscience protection, religious belief, faith-based agencies, schools, human person, common good.


Media Contact:
Judy Keane

President of Catholic Bishops Conference Joins Other U.S. Church Leaders in Expressing Strong Concern Over Israel’s Plan to Tax Church-owned Real Estate

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), joins other leaders from the U.S. Episcopal, Lutheran (ELCA), and Armenian Churches in urging Israel to not confiscate church lands or tax church properties. In the joint letter addressed to Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Jerusalem Mayor, Nir Barkat, the Church leaders express deep concern that the measure would "…jeopardize the very survival of the Christian community in the Holy Land." A second letter has been sent by the US signatories to all the heads of churches in the Holy Land pledging to continue to press the Israeli government on their behalf.

The full statement to the Prime Minister and the Mayor of Jerusalem follows:

"As heads of churches and communions in the United States, we write to express our strong concern about recent legal proposals and tax plans that would severely inhibit the work of the churches in and around Jerusalem. If enacted, these measures would have the effect of creating a situation that jeopardizes the very survival of the Christian community in the Holy Land.

We have expressed to the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, in the enclosed letter, our firm solidarity with them during this crisis, including by strong advocacy before our own government.

We know of the myriad of activities in which the churches there are engaged, such as education, health care and pilgrimages, and we recognize that they are integral to the churches' mission and of major benefit to the Jerusalem community beyond the churches.

We ask that you end measures that disrupt the Status Quo. We have pledged to the church leaders in Jerusalem our unwavering support for all peaceful and lawful measures they may pursue to ensure the preservation and flourishing of the Christian community now and in the future."

The full letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu and Mayor Nir Barkat can be found at:

The full letter to the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem can be found at:

Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Episcopal, Lutheran (ELCA), Armenian, Israel, Jerusalem, Christian Community, Holy Land, taxes, Status Quo, church leaders, Christian community


Media Contact:
Judy Keane

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Administrative Committee Offer Congratulations to Pope Francis on His Fifth Year Anniversary

WASHINGTON— The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Administrative Committee has issued the following statement today marking the fifth anniversary of the election of Pope Francis. The Administrative Committee is comprised of USCCB's officers, committee chairmen and other bishops representing every region of the United States.

Full statement follows:

"Most Holy Father:

The members of the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, now gathered in ordinary session on the 13th day of March 2018, take this opportunity to express our filial affection on the fifth anniversary of your election to the Chair of St. Peter. 

May the Lord bless you with His grace as you confirm all the brothers and sisters in unity and shepherd us in charity."

Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Pope Francis, Holy Father, Chair of St. Peter, fifth anniversary, Administrative Committee, ordinary session, filial affection, unity


Media Contact:
Judy Keane

Chairmen Call Faithful to Prayer and Action Urging Congress to Enact the Conscience Protection Act

WASHINGTON–Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, chair of the USCCB's Committee for Religious Liberty urge the faithful to flood Congress with emails and calls asking for enactment of the Conscience Protection Act as part of the 2018 funding bill and to pray for this outcome. Congress is currently considering whether to include the Conscience Protection Act in must-pass government funding legislation, and a decision on the Conscience Protection Act's inclusion will be made prior to March 23, 2018.

The joint statement follows:

"Increasing and fierce attacks on conscience rights regarding abortion cry out for an immediate remedy. Nurses and other health care providers and institutions are being forced to choose between participating in abortions or leaving health care altogether. Churches and pro-life Americans are being forced to provide coverage for elective abortions—including late-term abortions—in their health care plans. Opponents and supporters of abortion should be able to agree that no one should be forced to participate in abortion. Congress must remedy this problem by enacting the Conscience Protection Act now as part of the FY 2018 funding bill.

We call on all the faithful to pray and to act by emailing and calling Congress in the coming week especially on Monday, March 12 with the message that enacting the Conscience Protection Act is urgently needed to protect Americans from being forced to violate their deeply held convictions about respect for human life. Your calls and emails to your Members of Congress really do make a difference, so please act now to protect conscience rights!"

Members of Congress can be reached by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and asking to be connected with your representative or senator.

Or you can email and call your Members of Congress quickly and easily at

The USCCB has also created a video available on its YouTube channel and

For additional information and videos featuring nurses who were forced by their employers to choose between their jobs and participating in abortions go to

Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, Committee for Religious Liberty, Conscience Protection Act (H.R. 644), FY 2018 funding bill, Human Life Action, Members of Congress, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, pro-life, abortion, conscience rights, medical profession, nurses, health care providers, integrity, Hippocratic oath


Media Contact:
Judy Keane

Domestic Justice and Education Chairmen Urge Concrete Actions to Address Scourge of Gun Violence

WASHINGTON—In the aftermath of the tragic attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop George V. Murry, S.J., of Youngstown, Ohio, Chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education, urged national leaders to finally come together and address the crisis of gun violence in a comprehensive way.

The full statement follows:

"Once again, we are confronted with grave evil, the murder of our dear children and those who teach them. Our prayers continue for those who have died, and those suffering with injuries and unimaginable grief. We also continue our decades-long advocacy for common-sense gun measures as part of a comprehensive approach to the reduction of violence in society and the protection of life.

Specifically, this moment calls for an honest and practical dialogue around a series of concrete proposals—not partisanship and overheated rhetoric. The idea of arming teachers seems to raise more concerns than it addresses. Setting a more appropriate minimum age for gun ownership, requiring universal background checks (as the bishops have long advocated), and banning 'bump stocks' are concepts that appear to offer more promise. We must explore ways to curb violent images and experiences with which we inundate our youth, and ensure that law enforcement have the necessary tools and incentives to identify troubled individuals and get them help.

Most people with mental illness will never commit a violent act, but mental illness has been a significant factor in some of these horrific attacks. We must look to increase resources and seek earlier interventions.

For many years, the USCCB has supported a federal ban on assault weapons, limitations on civilian access to high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines, further criminalizing gun trafficking, certain limitations on the purchase of handguns, and safety measures such as locks that prevent children and anyone other than the owner from using guns without permission.

The advocacy by survivors of the Parkland shooting—and young people throughout our nation—is a stark reminder that guns pose an enormous danger to the innocent when they fall into the wrong hands. The voices of these advocates should ring in our ears as they describe the peaceful future to which they aspire. We must always remember what is at stake as we take actions to safeguard our communities and honor human life. In the words of St. John, 'let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth' (1 Jn. 3:18)."   

Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop George V. Murry, Committee on Catholic Education, gun violence, Parkland, Florida, high-capacity weapons, gun trafficking, Second Amendment, U.S. Constitution, common good


Media Contact:
Judy Keane