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Parents lose three children to tragic accident: ‘If Jesus can forgive me, I can forgive’

Danny and Leila Abdallah / EWTN News In Depth

Washington D.C., Jun 13, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

It was a hot summer day when Danny and Leila Abdallah found out that three of their children had perished in a car accident. 

The proud parents of six, Danny and Leila never imagined that the last time they would speak with three of their children was when they gave them permission to walk down a footpath in Sydney, Australia, for ice cream. Minutes later, a car hit their children - ages nine, 12, and 13 - and their lives changed forever. 

While the Abdallahs live in Australia, Danny and Leila first met in Lebanon, they told EWTN News In Depth on June 4. From the beginning, they were attracted to each other’s faith. 

Danny’s “first question to me was, ‘Do you pray?’ And that was my sign from God,” said Leila, who was raised in a strong Catholic family.

Likewise, Danny valued Leila’s faith. “I always say the biggest decision you make in your life is who you marry, and I know that a woman that loves and fears God will be with you in your darkest hour,” he said.

They married, and later welcomed six beautiful children: Antony, Angelina, Liana, Sienna, Alex, and Michael.

“We loved every minute, every second even when we were tired and exhausted we still – we love them so much,” Danny said. “I used to say to myself my day begins when I get home.”

But a terrible tragedy shook their family last year, in February 2020. The family was celebrating a birthday when the parents let their kids walk down the street to buy some ice cream.

“I heard my sister saying to Danny, ‘Are you sure it's okay for them to walk?’” Leila remembered. “Then he goes, ‘Yeah, they're only walking on the footpath, what's gonna happen?” 

A few minutes later, something unthinkable did happen. Danny and Leila received a phone call about an accident, and rushed to check on their children.

“What we saw was beyond our comprehension,” Danny remembered when he arrived at the scene. “When I saw them, I realized I had to surrender to God.”

Leila compared it to a “war zone.”  

“I started praying when everyone around me was screaming,” she said. “My immediate response, I'm like, ‘Why would God do that to us? No, He can't take our kids. He wouldn’t do that to us.’”

They later found out more about the tragic accident. A 30-year-old under the influence of alcohol, cocaine, and other drugs lost control of his car. He drove over the sidewalk at a high speed and hit their children.

“Sometimes you see those movies where your body comes out and you look back into the, over like a top view, of what's happening. That's how it felt,” Danny described. “I was in shock and then I just started to fix what I could.”

He grabbed Liana who was conscious, he said. Still, “I felt in my heart that I'd lost my kids that day.”

Arriving at the hospital, four priests met with Danny and Leila and broke the news to them: 13-year-old Antony, Angelina (12), Sienna (9), and their niece, Veronique (11), did not survive.

“I was screaming, I'm like no, no, they didn't die,” Leila recalled.

Despite their tremendous suffering and pain, the Abdallahs did not hate the driver, who was sentenced to 21 years in prison.

“I feel sorry for him,” Danny said. “I pray for him. The devil used him as a puppet.”

In a move that shocked the news media, Leila publicly forgave him.

“Forgiveness is something you practice, is something you practice all your life. Then eventually you can forgive on a bigger scale,” she explained. “And you forgive not because the others deserve to be forgiven. It's because you deserve to be at peace.”

Her faith, she said, inspired her.

 “If Jesus can forgive me, then of course I can forgive the driver,” she stressed. “If He died on the cross for me, then of course I can pray for that driver. Our Christianity, our faith got me to forgive him.”

She offered a special message to viewers of EWTN News In Depth

“Remember that if Jesus carried his cross, we are meant to carry our cross and follow Him,” the mother concluded. “And on this earth while we're living, enjoy every moment, hug your family tight, kiss your kids, don't take anything for granted, because anything can change in the blink of an eye.”

Amoris laetitia webinar equips leaders to build up sacramental marriages in the Church

scribbletaylor via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Rome Newsroom, Jun 13, 2021 / 08:50 am (CNA).

An online Vatican meeting on Amoris laetitia brought together hundreds of people this week to discuss how to better support sacramental marriages and families in the Catholic Church.

Organized by the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, the four-day webinar centered on the question: "Where do we stand with the application of Amoris laetitia?"

Amoris laetitia is Pope Francis’ 2016 apostolic exhortation on love in the family, written following the 2014 and 2015 synods on the family.

The closed-door meeting June 9 to 12 was attended by more than 300 delegates from 30 international movements and the family offices of over 60 bishops’ conferences.

In his introduction on the first day of the forum, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the laity, family and life dicastery, recalled a 2017 visit by Pope Francis to the offices of the Vatican department.

During that visit, Pope Francis said “Amoris laetitia must be read together, from the first to the last chapter, without ‘cherrypicking’ those sections which we consider easier to implement from those that are more challenging,” Farrell stated.

Farrell quoted the pope's words that the apostolic exhortation should "be read as an integral whole."

"The webinar should be seen within the Synodal process as a sign of the Church coming together to ensure that the family is given a central place within the missionary outreach of every institution or Parish community within the Church," the cardinal said. "The Church is at the service of the family, to work with it, to hope in its great potential, in the certainty that 'the Church is good for the family and the family is good for the Church.'"

Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernández of La Plata, Argentina, a friend and known ghostwriter of Pope Francis, gave a presentation on “accompanying, discerning, and integrating fragility,” on the last day of the forum.

According to a brief summary from the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, Fernández's address began with an analysis of the controversial chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia.

Fernández said in that chapter, Pope Francis "refers to 'situations which do not yet or no longer correspond to [the Church's] teaching on marriage,' the so-called 'irregular situations.' He proposes a path of discernment for greater integration. In any case, for Pope Francis, this is a secondary issue. What interests him more are 'the two central chapters, dedicated to love.'"

Fernández also said that "the pope says that it is essential to take care of love in marriages by encouraging its growth. This is because 'Marital love is not defended primarily by presenting indissolubility as a duty, or by repeating doctrine, but by helping it to grow ever stronger under the impulse of grace.'"

The archbishop said chapter 8 of Amoris laetitia seeks to "integrate the good that is possible" and to accompany people in hard situations.

Some of the central points of the week's meetings, as summed up by Cardinal Farrell, included the need for awareness among families of the mission they have been given by the sacrament of marriage, and how that mission is shared by pastors; that the parish is a family of families; the need for more effective training for priests, deacons, religious, catechists, and lay people involved in preparing engaged couples for marriage; that Catholics must reach out to families who are estranged from the Church; that families in crisis or other difficulties need special attention; and that family pastoral ministry must be missionary.

The four days had sessions on the marriage catechumenate, the formation of those who accompany, the education of children, the spirituality of spouses, the missionary spirit of the family, and the fragility of the family.

Catholic married couples from around the world presented testimonies about their marriage and family related ministries.

One of these couples was Mary-Rose and Ryan Verret, who connected to the webinar from the United States. The Verrets are the founders of the ministry, Witness to Love: How to Help the Next Generation Build Marriages that Survive and Thrive.

In a June 11 interview with EWTN News Nightly, Ryan Verret said "we were specifically invited by the Vatican to present on the use, in Witness to Love, of mentors, or what Amoris laetitia [and] Pope Francis has referred to as 'evangelizing spouses.'"

For engaged couples, mentors "really help to fill a space of rebuilding trust, not only in the Church, but also in the Lord, and trust that marriage is a still an ongoing great gift," he said.

Mary-Rose said "Witness to Love is really a marriage movement trying to help every couple, every sacramentally married couple, to see their home as a missionary outpost of the local Church, and to really form couples to understand that and to live that, to embrace it."

"What we've found," she continued, "is there are so many great programs, there are so many great resources in the Church today, but there isn't really an infrastructure for evangelization. So Witness to Love is all about getting the materials, the witness, the tools, into couples' hands, into parishes' hands, into pastors' hands, so that that evangelization can happen."

"Because the family really is the future of our Church," she added. "Churches without families are churches that will close."

The forum was organized as part of the ongoing Amoris Laetitia Family Year.

In a video message sent on the first day of the online forum June 9, Pope Francis “the family is ‘a domestic Church,’ the place in which the sacramental presence of Christ acts between spouses and between parents and children.”

“In this sense,” he continued, “‘the experience of love in families is a perennial source of strength for the life of the Church,’ constantly enriched by the life of all the domestic Churches. Therefore, by virtue of the Sacrament of Marriage, every family becomes to full effect a good for the Church.”

“Co-responsibility for the mission therefore calls upon married couples and ordained ministers, especially bishops, to cooperate in a fruitful manner in the care and custody of the domestic Churches,” the pope said.

Pope Francis: 'All that is good belongs to God'

Pope Francis gives the Angelus address June 6, 2021. / Credit: Vatican Media/CNA.

Vatican City, Jun 13, 2021 / 06:10 am (CNA).

God asks us to trust that his love is always at work through our good deeds, even if we do not see the results we had hoped for, Pope Francis said on Sunday.

In his weekly Angelus address June 13, the pope said “even the seed of our good works may seem small; yet, all that is good belongs to God and therefore humbly, slowly bears fruit.”

From a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis commented on the two parables in the day’s Gospel reading from St. Mark.

In the first parable, Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a man who scatters seed on the land; as time passes, the seeds sprout and grow, and the man “knows not how.”

In the second parable, Jesus says the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, “the smallest of all the seeds on the earth,” which, once it is sown “springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”

The pope explained that “this is how God works.”

“Sometimes, the din of the world, together with the many activities that fill our days, prevent us from stopping and seeing how the Lord leads history,” he said. “And yet -- the Gospel assures us -- God is at work, like a small good seed, which silently and slowly sprouts.”

Slowly, this small seed transforms into a luxurious tree, giving life and refreshment to everyone, he said, just like our own good works have the potential to do.

He said, “the Gospel asks us to take a new look at ourselves and at reality; it asks to have bigger eyes, which know how to see beyond, especially beyond appearances, to discover the presence of God who as humble love is always at work in the terrain of our life and in that of history.”

The good often grows in small, hidden, or even invisible ways, but “with this parable, Jesus wants to instill trust in us.”

According to the pope, it is easy to become discouraged when certain situations make evil seem stronger than goodness. Sometimes we let ourselves “be paralyzed by mistrust when we see that we are committed, but the results do not come and things never seem to change.”

“The weeds of mistrust can also take root in the Church, especially when we witness the crisis of faith and the failure of various projects and initiatives,” he said.

“But let us never forget that the results of sowing do not depend on our abilities: they depend on the action of God,” he emphasized. “It is up to us to sow, with love, commitment, patience. But the strength of the seed is divine.”

He said: “This is our trust, this is what gives us strength to go forward every day with patience, sowing the good that will bear fruit.”

Jesus “teaches us that even everyday things, those that at times all seem the same and that we carry on with distraction or fatigue, are inhabited by the hidden presence of God,” he continued.

“So, we too need attentive eyes, to be able to ‘seek and find God in all things,’ as Saint Ignatius of Loyola liked to say.”

After the Angelus, the pope prayed a “Hail Mary” for the people of the Tigray region of Ethiopia. The war, which broke out in November, has caused widespread famine. According to recent estimates from Tigray, 300,000 children may have died from hunger.

“There is famine today, there is hunger there,” Francis said. “Let us pray together for an immediate end to violence, for food and health assistance to be guaranteed for all, and for social harmony to be restored as soon as possible. In this regard, I thank all those who work to alleviate the suffering of the people. Let us pray to Our Lady for these intentions.”

Pope Francis also called attention to the exploitation of children for work. The International Labor Organization estimates there are over 150 million children exploited for work today.

“Let us all together renew the effort to eliminate this slavery of our times,” he said.

The pope noted the day’s welcoming ceremony in Augusta, Sicily, of the pieces of a ship wrecked in the Mediterranean Sea in April 2015.

Francis called the boat, which was carrying migrants when it wrecked, a “symbol of many tragedies.”

He expressed the desire that it will appeal to consciences and “encourage the growth of a more supportive humanity, that breaks down the wall of indifference.”

Cardinal Zen says possible restrictions to extraordinary form Mass are ‘worrying’

Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun departs the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome, Nov. 18, 2014. / Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

Rome Newsroom, Jun 12, 2021 / 06:30 am (CNA).

Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, has called possible restrictions to the celebration of the Mass in the extraordinary form of the Roman rite “worrying news.”

Zen wrote on his personal blog that “I am not considered an extremist of this liturgical form and that I worked actively, as a priest and as a bishop, for the liturgical reform after Vatican II, also trying to curb the excesses and abuses.”

“But I cannot deny, in my experience of Hong Kong, the very good that came from the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum and from the celebration of the Tridentine Mass.”

In a 2007 letter to the world’s bishops, Pope Benedict XVI explained that Summorum Pontificum enabled priests to offer Mass according to the 1962 Missal as a “Forma extraordinaria,” or extraordinary form, of the Roman Rite. The Missal published by Paul VI would remain the “Forma ordinaria,” or ordinary form, of the Rite, he said.

The extraordinary form of the Mass is sometimes also called the Traditional Latin Mass or the Tridentine Mass.

Earlier this month, a source within the Congregation for the Divine Worship told CNA the congregation might soon issue a document modifying some of the provisions of Summorum Pontificum.

Rumors about possible restrictions imposed on Summorum Pontificum spread at the end of May after Pope Francis had a closed-door question-and-answer session with the members of the Italian bishops' conference gathered in Rome for their annual plenary assembly.

Speaking with the bishops, Francis hinted at new regulations about the celebration of the Mass in the extraordinary form, although he did not provide details, according to two bishops who attended the conference.

The sources told CNA that the pope said a third draft of the document is currently under study.

In his blog post, the 89-year-old Zen said he has worked for liturgical reform, but he “cannot forget the Mass of my childhood...”

“I felt such reverence, I was so fascinated (and still am!) by the beauty of Gregorian chant, that I think that experience has nourished my vocation to the priesthood, as for so many others,” he said.

He added that he remembers “the many Chinese faithful (and I don't think everyone knew Latin ...) participating with great enthusiasm in these liturgical ceremonies, just as I can now testify about the community that participates in the Tridentine Mass in Hong Kong.”

The cardinal said he thinks Mass in the extraordinary form “is not divisive, on the contrary it unites us to our brothers and sisters of all ages, to the saints and martyrs of all times, to those who have fought for their faith and who have found in it an inexhaustible spiritual nourishment.”

In 2020, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith sent a nine-point questionnaire about Summorum Pontificum to the presidents of bishops’ conferences worldwide, since the pope wished to be “informed about the current application” of the motu proprio.

The expected document will come from the Congregation for Divine Worship, however.

One of the proposals being considered for the document is to require priests who want to celebrate Mass in the extraordinary form to establish a specific community at a specific church.

Eucharistic coherence and the USCCB spring meeting: Five questions you need answered

A priest distributes Holy Communion. / Noah Seelam/AFP via Getty Images

Denver Newsroom, Jun 11, 2021 / 22:00 pm (CNA).

Where did the term eucharistic coherence originate?

The term eucharistic coherence originated in the final document of the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, held in Aparecida, Brazil, in 2007. Then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, a principal draftee, lauded the document and Pope Benedict XVI authorized the final text praising the “wealth of reflections in the light of the faith and the contemporary social context.”

This is the full paragraph:

“We hope that legislators, heads of government, and health professionals, conscious of the dignity of human life and of the rootedness of the family in our peoples, will defend and protect it from the abominable crimes of abortion and euthanasia; that is their responsibility. Hence, in response to government laws and provisions that are unjust in the light of faith and reason, conscientious objection should be encouraged. We must adhere to ‘eucharistic coherence,’ that is, be conscious that they cannot receive holy communion and at the same time act with deeds or words against the commandments, particularly when abortion, euthanasia, and other grave crimes against life and family are encouraged. This responsibility weighs particularly over legislators, heads of governments, and health professionals.”

Why is eucharistic coherence linked so closely to abortion and euthanasia?

The theology of eucharistic coherence builds upon the teachings of the Church contained in the encyclical Evangelium Vitae and the post-synodal exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis. U.S. bishops referencing the term are thus using a term squarely coined by reflection upon magisterial teaching.

Evangelium Vitae, footnoted in Aparecida document paragraph 436, highlights the gravity of abortion and euthanasia, the clear need to oppose all laws that claim to legitimize them, and the prohibition against formal cooperation with this evil, while Sacramentum Caritatis more specifically explores the ramifications of living these teachings on reception of the eucharist

According to Benedict XVI, eucharistic consistency, a term coined in Sacramentum Caritatis, recognizes the “objective connection” between the Eucharist and the fundamental values a Catholic must hold to in personal and public life, including “respect for human life, its defense from conception to natural death, the family built upon marriage between a man and a woman, the freedom to educate one's children and the promotion of the common good in all its forms.”

Why is eucharistic coherence linked with Catholic politicians in particular?

Published just three months before the Aparecida document, Sacramentum Caritatis reflects the development of the thought of Pope Benedict XVI. As head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he wrote a memorandum to the U.S. bishops in 2004 in response to debate concerning Democratic presidential candidate and abortion proponent John Kerry presenting himself for reception of holy communion.

Among the principles included in the memorandum are whether a Catholic is in full communion with the Church, guilty of grave sin or under penalty of excommunication or interdict, and whether the person fasted for one hour. 

The memorandum also detailed that when cooperation with abortion and euthanasia becomes manifest—“understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws”—the pastor should deny Holy Communion if the politician does not repent after a private meeting instructing the person on the Church’s teaching. This follows the prescription outlined in Canon Law by Canon 915.

Sacramentum Caritatis further develops the duties of Catholics in public life to affirm fundamental, non-negotiable values, preventing them from divorcing personal beliefs from public duties and reminding them of “their grave responsibility before society.”

The Aparecida document likewise references the duties of legislators and heads of governments with regard to life issues, namely, to oppose the “abominable crimes of abortion and euthanasia” or recognize that they cannot receive holy communion.

Why do medical professionals have special responsibility to live eucharistic coherence?

The Aparecida document makes clear that defense of human life and eucharistic coherence is not limited to government officials; rather, it is the special duty of every baptized doctor, nurse, and healthcare worker to uphold the dignity of life or refrain from receiving the eucharist.

“’Causing death’ can never be considered a form of medical treatment, even when the intention is solely to comply with the patient's request,” wrote John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae. “Rather, it runs completely counter to the health-care profession, which is meant to be an impassioned and unflinching affirmation of life.” John Paul II called on health care professionals to exercise conscientious objection rather than participate in the evils of abortion and euthanasia.

In a speech to the Pontifical Academy for Life Benedict XVI reaffirmed that “every human community and the political community itself are founded” on the right to life.  Accordingly, professionals, doctors, and lawyers must engage in “courageous objection of conscience” to the evils threatening the right to life.

Why is eucharistic coherence connected to the USCCB spring 2021 meeting next week?

In 2004, Joseph Ratzinger penned a memo to the USCCB while the U.S. bishops were embroiled in the Kerry communion debate. The discussion soon broadened to  pro-choice politicians in general. In 2006, as a response to these questions and the implications for all Catholics, the USCCB published a document on preparation to receive the Eucharist worthily.

A crisis of faith in the belief in the Eucharist among Catholics writ large revealed itself in intervening years. In 2019, a Pew Research report confirmed that only 31% of Catholics believed in the doctrine of the real presence of the Eucharist. The urgency of the question about worthy reception of the Eucharist resurfaced as prominent Catholic and abortion supporter Joe Biden, a Democrat, began his own presidential run.

A working group on eucharistic coherence formed in November 2020 to deal with the question of scandal posed by such a prominent public figure receiving holy communion. The group, headed by USCCB vice president Archbishop Allen Vigneron, proposed the creation of a document on the Eucharist--a document aimed at all Catholics and not specifically at one politician. 

In recent months the use of the term eucharistic coherence exploded, and bishops across the country are defending the long-standing church teaching behind the term and its implications for politicians and medical professionals, as well as the general Catholic population, based on an understanding of the fundamental nature of the right to life.

The current head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, also affirmed the need for eucharistic coherence in a letter to U.S. Bishops, widely mischaracterized as asking for a pause in the normal USCCB procedures.

The bishops will discuss an outline of a draft document on the eucharist elaborated by the Committee of Doctrine during their June 2021 spring meeting next week. The meeting will be held virtually June 16-18, 2021.

New Supreme Knight urges members to be 'Knights of the Eucharist'

Patrick Kelly (right) installed as Supreme Knight by Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore (left) / Knights of Columbus

New Haven, Conn., Jun 11, 2021 / 18:08 pm (CNA).

The new Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, Patrick Kelly, emphasized reverence for the Eucharist at his installation on Friday at St. Mary’s parish in New Haven, Connecticut.

In consecrating his administration of the Knights of Columbus to St. Joseph, Kelly pointed to the saint as the protector of Jesus – and called on Knights to do the same in reverencing and protecting the Eucharist.

“The example of St. Joseph teaches us how to be Knights of the Eucharist. He was the guardian of the first tabernacle — beginning with Mary herself when she bore Christ in her womb, and then in the home where he and Mary lived with Jesus,” Kelly said at his installation address on Friday.

“As Knights, we too are called to have a special reverence for Christ’s real presence,” he said. “The more we dedicate ourselves to Christ in the Eucharist, the more we will be a sign of unity in an age of division and disbelief.”

For the first time in 20 years, the Knights of Columbus on Friday installed a new Supreme Knight, Kelly, who previously served as Deputy Supreme Knight. The Knights of Columbus is one of the world’s leading fraternal and service organizations, with two million members worldwide in more than 16,000 parish-based councils.

Kelly’s installation took place at a Knights’ meeting of state deputies on Friday, attended by leaders of the Knights from every U.S. state and from around the world.

Elected to the position of Supreme Knight in March, Kelly and other elected Knight officials were formally delegated their positions on June 11. 

The ceremony began with Mass, celebrated by Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, the Supreme Chaplain of the Knights. 

Lori drew connections between the significance of the installation Mass occurring both in the year of St. Joseph and on the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 

Earlier in the day, Archbishop Lori called on the Knights to lead the way on the bishops’ proposed Eucharistic Revival project, promoting devotion to the Eucharist in their communities.

He said that “it is incumbent upon us as Knights of Columbus, upon you as lay leaders in the Church, not only to support this effort but also to be in the forefront of advancing it, especially by bearing witness to the centrality of the Eucharist in your own life and in the life of your family, and in the life of the Church."

In Kelly’s address, which took place at the conclusion of the Mass, he began by honoring the work of previous Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, who “consecrated his administration and the entire Order to Our Lady of Guadalupe.”

In similar fashion, Kelly consecrated his new administration to St. Joseph. He said it was a “special honor” to take office during the Year of St. Joseph.

Keeping with the theme of Saint Joseph, Kelly focused on two of the saint’s roles, first as “guardian of the family” and also as the “guardian of the truth.”         

The dual roles “both align with the vision of our founder and provide a model for how we as Knights must witness to the world,” he said.                                                                                                     

Kelly highlighted St. Joseph’s humility and obedience in his fatherly sacrifice and service to his family. Quoting Pope Francis’ apostolic letter on St. Joseph, Patris Corde, he noted the saint’s “creative courage,” referencing the “unexpected challenges” he faced in his life.                                         

Kelly connected St. Joseph’s challenges to those faced in modern times. 

“Catholic families are struggling to live out their faith and raise their children amid a culture that is increasingly hostile to our beliefs,” he said. “Catholic husbands and fathers, especially fathers of young children, need the encouragement and support of the Knights of Columbus.”

Kelly assured the Knights that they can inspire fathers with the courage to nourish their families in the faith. 

“They need our witness and example to guide them in embracing their vocation to heroic generosity and self-sacrifice, for the good of their wives and children,” he said. “So let us, like St. Joseph, embrace our role as guardians of the family.”

Speaking about St. Joseph as the “guardian of truth,” Kelly acknowledged “the truth that Joseph protected had a name: Jesus Christ, who is the truth incarnate.” 

Kelly proclaimed that the Knights must also serve Jesus as the truth. Noting the difficulty of serving the truth in the modern era, Kelly called the present a “time of bigotry and intolerance.”

“Key truths — truths about marriage, about life in the womb, about the nature of the family and the meaning of freedom — are often denied and even vilified,” he said. “Yet, this makes our commitment to truth all the more important.” 

Kelly said the Knights will continue to be a sign of unity by standing for the truth. Referencing the Second Vatican Council, Kelly said that the truth is grounded in the Eucharist.

“We know that Jesus Christ is really, truly present — body, blood, soul and divinity — in the Blessed Sacrament. Committed to our principle of unity, let us strive to serve Christ in the Eucharist,” Kelly said. 

He said the Knights are called to have a special reverence for the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.                              

Kelly concluded by asking for the intercession of Blessed Michael McGivney, the founder of the Knights who was beatified last fall and whose tomb was in the back of the church. He also asked for the intercession of St. Joseph so that the Knights may have the courage to lead in these “challenging times.”                                            

Following Kelly’s address, Archbishop Lori blessed the medals of the supreme officers who were installed. New Deputy Supreme Knight Paul G. O’Sullivan and new Supreme Secretary Patrick T. Mason were also installed on Friday.

17 supreme directors and 56 state deputies were also installed at the celebrations. Following the installations, the archbishop led the new officers to McGivney’s tomb in the back of the church and prayed for his canonization. 

This article was updated on June 11 with new information.

Survey shows more Americans believe abortion is ‘morally acceptable’ than ‘morally wrong’

Unsplash

Washington D.C., Jun 11, 2021 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

A new Gallup poll reveals, for the first time in two decades of surveys, more Americans believe abortion “morally acceptable” than “morally wrong.” 

According to a Gallup poll published on Thursday, 47% of people surveyed found abortion to be “morally acceptable,” the highest tally since the poll began in 2001. Conversely, 46% of those surveyed said that they believed abortion to be “morally wrong.” 

The survey was conducted from May 3-18. A total of 1,016 adults were randomly surveyed, and Gallup estimates the margin of error to be plus or minus four percentage points.

Last year, the Gallup survey numbers on abortion were nearly flipped: 47% of respondents said that they believed abortion to be “morally wrong,” and 44% said it was “morally acceptable.” 

The 2021 poll also marks the first time that more people surveyed found abortion to be morally acceptable than those who said it was “morally wrong.” In 2015, an equal percentage of Americans took each position. The following year, in 2016, 49% of people surveyed said they viewed abortion as morally wrong, and only 43% said they viewed it as morally acceptable.

Gallup found that political identification was correlated with a person’s view on the morality of abortion. Only 26% of surveyed Republicans said they viewed abortion as morally acceptable; meanwhile, 51% of independents and 64% of Democrats said it was acceptable.

The poll also asked respondents if they considered themselves to be “pro-life” or “pro-choice.” Gallup found that 49% identified as “pro-choice,” and 47% as “pro-life.” 

Among Republicans, 74% said they were “pro-life,” wheras 70% of Democrats were “pro-choice.” Gallup also found that those who identified as “conservative” were more likely to label themselves as pro-life, and that college graduates were likely to label themselves as “pro-choice.” 

More than one out of four Democrats (26%) identifies as “pro-life,” despite the 2020 party platform which called for abortion-on-demand throughout the entirety of a pregnancy and supported taxpayer-funded abortion. Over 100 politicians called on the party to adjust the platform. 

While the poll found that more Americans found abortion to be morally acceptable than morally wrong, the poll also found that most Americans support restrictions on abortion. 

Per the poll, fewer than one-third of American adults believed that abortion should be legal under “any circumstances.” A total of 65% of those surveyed supported at least some restrictions on abortion; a plurality of those, 33%, said they believed abortion should be “legal in only a few” circumstances.

Younger people surveyed were more likely to trend to either extreme of the abortion position. The poll found that 41% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 believed that abortion should be “legal in any” circumstance, the highest of the three age groups. However, 20% of the same age group said they believed abortion should not be legal in any cirucumstance, the same as percentage as people aged 55 or older.

Archbishop Lori: Knights of Columbus must be at the forefront of Eucharistic renewal

Archbishop William Lori, Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus. / Knights of Columbus

Washington D.C., Jun 11, 2021 / 16:03 pm (CNA).

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus, called on the Knights not only to “support” but also to “be in the forefront” of a national Eucharistic Revival project to be presented to the U.S. bishops next week.

At his address during the Knights of Columbus state deputies meeting in New Haven, Connecticut on Friday, Archbishop Lori previewed a proposed three-year Eucharistic Revival project of the U.S. bishops which would launch in 2022.

Lori said the project would take place at “the parish, diocesan, and national level to help all those whom we serve to recover, to reclaim, and to recoup their faith in the Eucharistic Lord and their resolve to participate in Holy Mass without fail every Sunday." 

The bishops’ proposal also includes a national Eucharistic Congress in 2024, to be attended by 100,000 Catholics who would then act as Eucharistic missionaries.

“Bishops in other countries have undertaken similar efforts,” added the Supreme Chaplain. He called on the Knights present to lead the effort in their communities.

“It is incumbent upon us as Knights of Columbus, upon you as lay leaders in the Church, not only to support this effort but also to be in the forefront of advancing it, especially by bearing witness to the centrality of the Eucharist in your own life and in the life of your family, and in the life of the Church,” Lori said.

"Surely," said Archbishop Lori, "we could do nothing that would please Blessed Michael McGivney more than this!" Blessed Michael McGivney, the organization’s founder, was beatified last fall at the cathedral in Hartford, Connecticut.

The Knights of Columbus is the world's largest fraternal organization. Leaders from every U.S. state and around the world attended Friday’s meeting in New Haven, the site of the organization’s founding. It was the Knights’ first national in-person meeting since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

In addition to the joint installation of Supreme Knight Kelly and all attending state deputies - a first for the Knights - the meeting also included the installation of new Deputy Supreme Knight Paul G. O’Sullivan. In another historic first for the Knights, Patrick T. Mason, a member of the Osage Nation, was installed as the first Native American supreme secretary of the Knights.

“In the meantime, let us as leaders of the Knights of Columbus unite heart and soul around the Eucharistic Lord, around the sacrament of our charity, unity, and fraternity, just as we have taught to do by our Blessed Founder for whose canonization we pray more earnestly than ever!” Archbishop Lori said in closing.

Texas supreme court rejects defamation lawsuit against Lubbock diocese

Cathedral of Christ the King, Lubbock, Texas / Diocese of Lubbock (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Washington D.C., Jun 11, 2021 / 15:04 pm (CNA).

The Texas supreme court on Friday rejected a defamation lawsuit against the Lubbock diocese, filed by a former deacon who disputed the diocese listing him as “credibly accused” of abuse of a minor.

In an 8-1 decision, the Texas supreme court ruled that the First Amendment shields the internal management decisions of churches from secular courts and governments.

“The ecclesiastical abstention doctrine prohibits civil courts from delving into matters of ‘theological controversy, church discipline, ecclesiastical government, or the conformity of the members of the church to the standard of morals required of them,’” the court’s majority decision stated.

“The doctrine is grounded in the First Amendment, which protects the right of religious institutions ‘to decide for themselves, free from state interference, matters of church government as well as those of faith and doctrine,’” the court ruled.

Becket, the legal group representing the diocese, applauded the ruling, arguing that dioceses must be free to implement their norms and policies on protection of children – which include investigating clergy and publishing names of clergy credibly accused of the abuse of children.

“The Church carries its mission well beyond its four walls,” said William Haun, counsel at Becket. “Religious organizations do not surrender their freedom to govern themselves just because they speak in public on matters affecting their faith, clergy, and moral witness,” he said.

“Any other decision would have amounted to punishing the Church for doing the right thing by its members,” he said.

On Friday, the court said that the diocese’s decision to list Guerrero was an internal church matter.

“That is, the deacon’s claims relating to the Diocese’s publication and communication of the results of its investigation cannot be severed from its policy to investigate its clergy in the first place,” the court stated.

“A civil court, though, is prohibited from determining whether a church properly applied its own principles and policies, and from interfering with internal management decisions that are central to its mission, such as investigating the conduct and character of its clergy,” the court stated.

In January 2019, the Diocese of Lubbock released its list of clergy credibly accused of the abuse of children. The list included the name of former deacon Jesus Guerrero, saying he had been credibly accused of the “sexual abuse of a minor” and was permanently removed from ministry in 2008.

Guerrero sued the diocese, claiming libel and defamation against him, and argued that he suffered a stroke brought on by the stress and anxiety of appearing on the list of accused clergy.

A lower state court ruled against the diocese, and a state appeals court declined to overturn that ruling, arguing that as the diocese had published the names of those accused, it was a public matter and not strictly an ecclesiastical issue – and was thus subject to court review.

The state supreme court agreed to consider the diocese’s appeal in June 2020.

Guerrero’s attorney said that his accuser was in her 40s and had not claimed abuse by Guerrero, according to United Press International.

In April 2019, after the lawsuit was filed, the Lubbock diocese issued a statement of clarification that Guerrero was not accused of abusing anyone under the age of 18; the diocese said that his alleged accuser was a vulnerable adult who “habitually lacks the use of reason,” and thus would be considered a minor under canon law.

According to canon 99 of the Code of Canon Law, “Whoever habitually lacks the use of reason is considered not responsible for oneself (non sui compos) and is equated with infants.”

Guerrero’s attorney disputed whether the woman was a “vulnerable adult” at the time of the abuse.

“The Diocese of Lubbock has concluded there is a credible allegation against Jesus Guerrero of sexual abuse of a person who habitually lacks the use of reason,” the diocese stated in April 2019.

The diocese explained that it considered an accusation “credible” when, “after review of reasonably available, relevant information in consultation with the Diocesan Review Board or other professionals, there is reason to believe is true.”

Guerrero’s attorney said that he did not dispute the Church’s authority to warn the faithful about abusers, but rather disputed the diocese’s claim that he was “credibly accused.”

“Churches have never enjoyed complete immunity,” Guerrero’s attorney Nick Olguin said, as reported by Courthouse News Service in January 2021 when the diocese asked the supreme court to toss out the case.

“Basically, what the diocese wants to do is play the game, make the rules and never be called on a foul,” he said.

Poland is consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Archbishop Stanislaw Gądecki renews the consecration of Poland to the Sacred Heart at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Kraków, June 11, 2021. / episkopat.pl

Krakow, Poland, Jun 11, 2021 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

Poland was consecrated Friday to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The act of consecration took place at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Kraków, southern Poland, on June 11, the 100th anniversary of a previous national consecration at the same location.

Archbishop Stanislaw Gądecki, the president of the Polish Catholic bishops’ conference, renewed the consecration as he celebrated Mass at the basilica on the feast of the Sacred Heart.

The Mass was attended by Poland’s bishops, gathered in the archdiocese of Kraków for the 389th plenary session of the bishops’ conference.

Archbishop Stanislaw Gądecki renews the consecration of Poland to the Sacred Heart at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Kraków, June 11, 2021. / Screenshot from Jezuici Kraków YouTube channel.
Archbishop Stanislaw Gądecki renews the consecration of Poland to the Sacred Heart at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Kraków, June 11, 2021. / Screenshot from Jezuici Kraków YouTube channel.

Poland’s Catholic bishops first consecrated the country to the Sacred Heart on July 27, 1920, at Jasna Góra, the monastery housing an icon of Our Lady of Częstochowa, also known as the Black Madonna.

With the Bolsheviks bearing down on the Polish capital, Warsaw, Cardinal Edmund Dalbor, the Primate of Poland, led the act of consecration.

In the summer of 1920, Soviet forces attempted to cross Poland in order to carry out Vladimir Lenin’s plan to provoke communist revolution in Western Europe. Lenin believed that if the Red Army seized Poland then the Soviets could offer direct support to revolutionaries in Germany.

The consecration was followed three weeks later by a resounding Polish victory over the Red Army, known as the “Miracle on the Vistula.”

The act of consecration was repeated a year later, in 1921, in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Kraków, the year that the basilica was completed.

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Kraków, Poland. / Mister No via Wikimedia (CC BY 3.0).
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Kraków, Poland. / Mister No via Wikimedia (CC BY 3.0).

The act was renewed by the Polish bishops in 1951, 1976, and 2011. Archbishop Gądecki entrusted Poland to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25, 2020, as the coronavirus crisis engulfed the country.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of the consecration, Gądecki explained that the act of consecration had three parts: thanking Jesus for his protection and the gift of freedom, asking forgiveness for sins committed, and a request for a strengthening of faith and love amid today’s challenges.

He said: “This act is a renewal of gratitude for what happened at that time, today also for the gift of freedom and the changes that have taken place in our homeland.”

The archbishop of Poznań added: “There is a need for fidelity and continuity, a need for a renewed profession of faith in this declaration, so that we are more able to reciprocate our love for the love of the Lord Jesus.”

Poland’s Catholic bishops decided unanimously on June 11 to abolish the dispensation from attending Mass on Sundays and holy days.

The bishops attending their plenary meeting in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, southern Poland, announced that the dispensation would be lifted simultaneously in all dioceses on June 20.

The dispensation was introduced following the outbreak of the pandemic. Poland, which has a population of almost 38 million, 93% of whom are Catholic, was initially relatively unscathed compared to other European countries.

But the country has recorded more than 2.8 million COVID-19 cases and 74,447 related deaths as of June 11, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

A bishop signs the act of consecration of Poland to the Sacred Heart, June 11, 2021. / episkopat.pl
A bishop signs the act of consecration of Poland to the Sacred Heart, June 11, 2021. / episkopat.pl

Referring to a mosaic frieze inside the basilica depicting the Polish nation’s homage to the Sacred Heart, Archbishop Gądecki said: “The frieze from the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Kraków is a call to make the Heart of God the center of the universe. The new act is such an impulse to recall this truth, which should be present in the life of every Christian.”