Catholic hospitals help Indonesia quake victims in Lombok, Bali

By Catholic News Service
JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNS) — Catholic hospitals in Indonesia have sent medical teams to treat hundreds of people injured by a magnitude 6.9 earthquake that struck the tourist island of Lombok near Bali Aug. 5.
The death toll stood at 105 by mid-afternoon Aug. 7 with 236 injured, reported. Officials expected the death toll to rise as Muslims were yet to be pulled from a mosque that collapsed while they were praying inside.
Officials said most of the casualties were caused by falling rubble as buildings collapsed. There were no reported foreigners among the dead, but some media reports claimed several fatalities in the neighboring Gili Islands.
Thousands of buildings were damaged, and several thousand people were forced to flee their homes, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency reported.
In the Gili Islands, an archipelago popular among backpackers, an estimated 2,000 or more people were being evacuated after spending a nerve-wracking night camped atop a mountain.
"Medical workers are really needed right now to treat the victims," Sister Paulina, a member of the Congregation of Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit and spokeswoman St. Anthony Catholic Hospital in the provincial capital of Mataram, told Aug. 7.
She said the hospital had treated more than a dozen victims.
"We placed them in the hospital's parking area as the situation was unpredictable, aftershocks continued to happen," Sister Paulina said. "This morning we took them to the hospital's treatment rooms."
More than 176 aftershocks were recorded following the quake. The Aug. 5 temblor was the second major earthquake to shake Lombok in a week. A July 29 quake caused 14 deaths and dozens of injuries.
Sister Paulina said the hospital sent a team of nurses to the government-run hospital in West Nusa Tenggara province to provide further assistance and make sure those seeking refuge have temporary shelter.
"Many volunteers have contacted me and asked if we need any help. I told them that medical teams are what I need the most. I need orthopedics and neurologists," she said.
The Catholic hospital is working with St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Hospital in Surabaya, East Java province, she added.
Dr. Agung Kurniawan Saputra, who works at the Surabaya hospital, said three nurses were sent to St. Anthony Hospital a day after the quake and they will remain in Lombok for at least a week.
"This morning we sent (another) doctor and a nurse," he told Aug. 7.
"If possible, they will go to those areas affected by the quake in cooperation with local authorities from today."

Detroit archdiocesan paper to cease publication after 146 years

By Catholic News Service
DETROIT (CNS) — The Michigan Catholic, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Detroit, will publish its last issue Aug. 24. Taking its place in November will be an online-only news service called Detroit Catholic.
The archdiocese, in announcing the newspaper's closure Aug. 1, said it will introduce what it called a "multichannel" service early next year that will include mailed publications focusing on evangelization and faith formation.
The Michigan Catholic, founded 146 years ago when the then-Detroit Diocese's territory covered the entire Lower Peninsula of Michigan, was the second-oldest newspaper in the state, behind only the Detroit Free Press, which is the highest-circulation paper in Michigan.
By comparison, The Michigan Catholic — which had paid circulation in the 30,000s in the mid-1980s and at one time owned its own printing plant — had a print run of 26,000 this year, of which only 6,000 were paid subscribers, according to archdiocesan spokeswoman Holly Fournier.
The newspaper, which once was self-sustaining, required operating subsidies in the 1990s. During a restructuring of archdiocesan operations in 2009, the archdiocese said the subsidy for The Michigan Catholic would end, but Fournier told Catholic News Service Aug. 3 that while the subsidy may have been cut, it never ended, and was in fact rising in recent years.
The paper switched from weekly to biweekly publication in 2010.
Despite The Michigan Catholic's finances, its closure was not "about cost savings, it's about reinvesting the resources that we have into enhanced and expanded news coverage," Fournier said. Print, she added, "costs a lot of money. Take that money and invest it in something that will reach more people. This directive comes straight from the archbishop," Allen H. Vigneron, whose 2017 pastoral letter "Unleash the Gospel" included instructions to all segments of the archdiocese on how to make evangelization the top priority.
His instructions to the archdiocesan communications department was to "reach everyone who is engaged with and seeking engagement with the church."
"It became clear we really couldn't do that with the paper right now," Fournier told CNS. "We needed to be able to take the paper, close it and reinvest those resources. So, it's a financial decision but not really a cost-saving decision."
There is no clear word as to whether the shift will result in job losses. The archdiocese is in negotiations with the Detroit local of the NewsGuild-CWA, which represents workers at the newspaper, over the effects of the closure.
In the interim between the closing of The Michigan Catholic and the debut of Detroit Catholic, news will be posted on the Michigan Catholic's social media platforms. Subscribers will get three months of the national newspaper OSV Newsweekly and six months of the Catholic Mass edition of The Word Among Us to fill in the gap.
Detroit Catholic will be free and "continue providing the award-winning news and feature stories Michigan Catholic readers expect. This transition will allow us to enhance coverage about our parishes, schools and the many life-giving ministries in the archdiocese," Archbishop Vigneron said in an Aug. 1 letter to Catholics in the archdiocese.
"This digital transformation will enable us to post more local news and share national and global articles about the church throughout the week. Readers will have the option to subscribe to free daily, weekly or monthly news summaries delivered via email."
"Detroit Catholic will focus on serving highly engaged Catholics, clergy and lay leaders. We believe the new digital news service and website will serve these active disciples who want timely, local Catholic news, as well as current national and international stories about the church," said Edmundo Reyes, archdiocesan director of communications, in an Aug. 1 statement.
Fournier said both she and Reyes, who started in his post May 17, were part of the transition effort, which had been worked on over "several months."
"We understand the magnitude of closing a publication that has been part of the Catholic landscape in southeast Michigan for so many years," Michigan Catholic managing editor Mike Stechschulte said in an Aug. 1 statement. "The Michigan Catholic is the second-oldest newspaper in the state of Michigan, and with that rich history comes a proud heritage of Catholic journalism in our state. The newspaper's most recent national awards from the Catholic Press Association further demonstrate a commitment to excellence that we don't take lightly."
Stechschulte added, "The Lord has done great things in and through this publication, and we trust he will do greater things still."

HHS urged to reissue rules to enforce required notice on abortion coverage

By Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services must issue new regulations to enforce a requirement that consumers be notified if a subsidized health plan offered under the Affordable Care Act covers elective abortion and informed they must pay an extra amount for the plan's abortion coverage.
That's the view of 102 members of Congress who have signed an open letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar asking for the new regulations.
"Obamacare's abortion surcharge is practically invisible to consumers," said Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, who signed the Aug. 6 letter. "Consumers have a right to know."
The letter said that Section 1303 of the Affordable Care Act requires that, when federal subsidies are used to pay for a plan that includes coverage of elective abortion, the subsidies cannot be used to pay for the abortions. Instead, separate payments must be collected and deposited into a fund used solely to pay for abortions.
It also said that, during the Obama administration, lax regulations undermined the requirement to separate the funds for abortions. For example, the issuer of the insurance policy is not required to separately identify the abortion surcharge, and it also can be collected in a single transaction. As a result, "there is no meaningful requirement for the collection of a separate payment for the plan's abortion services, making the abortion surcharge all but invisible."
If the enforcement continues to be based on these regulations, the letter said, "it will remain sorely deficient," and so new regulations are necessary that will prevent people from purchasing plans that include abortion coverage.
The letter also requested that health plans which include abortion notify consumers of that fact at the time of enrollment to prevent consumers from buying such plans if they who do not wish to.
"The Trump administration now has the opportunity to take action and enforce the law to bring transparency to Obamacare's abortion coverage and the abortion surcharge. No person should have to pay for abortion coverage they don't want," Smith said.

Baltimore history, culture have a place at Knights of Columbus convention

By Paul McMullen
Catholic News Service

BALTIMORE (CNS) — The chalice on the center of the altar was given by the pope to the third archbishop of Baltimore nearly two centuries ago.
The local welcome crew wore vests that included the outline of a Chesapeake blue crab.
Visitors to the 136th annual Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus got both boisterous and subtle reminders of their location the morning of Aug. 7, when Archbishop William E. Lori, their supreme chaplain, was the principal celebrant for the gathering's opening Mass.
Held in a ballroom at the Baltimore Convention Center more accustomed to boat shows, the liturgy was offered against a backdrop that incorporated an image of the dome of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
It was a familiar sight to those Knights and their families, primarily from across North America but from far away as the Philippines, who might have already visited America's first cathedral, a little more than a half-mile to the north.
In his homily, Archbishop Lori mentioned those who came to Southern Maryland from England in 1634 seeking freedom from religious persecution, and the Knights' founder, Father Michael J. McGivney, who was ordained at the Baltimore Basilica in 1877.
According to the Mass program, during that ordination Cardinal James Gibbons "likely" used the aforementioned chalice, a gift from Pope Pius VII to Archbishop Ambrose Marechal in 1822, a year after the Baltimore basilica was dedicated.
"Just as the Holy Spirit guided those who went before us in faith," Archbishop Lori said, "so now the same spirit of truth and love accompanies us who seek to follow Christ as members of an order that is built on charity."
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, in remarks given later that day, reported that the order's charitable contributions in fraternal year 2017-18 totaled a record $185 million.
That figure does not include a $1 million gift presented to the Archdiocese of Baltimore Aug. 4 to go toward a project that will give Baltimore City its first new Catholic school in nearly six decades.
"Knights of Charity" is the theme of the first supreme convention in Baltimore since 1989, when the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the first diocese in the U.S., celebrated its bicentennial.
The opening Mass included 100 bishops and 200 priests. Concelebrants included Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, who is president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
Archbishop Lori alluded to the recent demotion of Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick from the College of Cardinals and a soon-to-be-released Pennsylvania grand jury report on a months-long investigation into abuse claims in six of the state's Catholic dioceses covering a 70-year span.
"In the difficult and challenging days that are before us," he said, "may I urge you to continue working to build up and strengthen the church, especially by putting into practice the principles of charity, unity and fraternity."
Prelates with ties to Baltimore included Cardinal Edwin F. O'Brien, who was Baltimore's archbishop 2007 to 2011, who is grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre; Bishop W. Francis Malooly of Wilmington, Delaware; Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski of Springfield, Massachusetts; and Baltimore Auxiliary Bishops Adam J. Parker and Mark E. Brennan.
Priests of the Baltimore Archdiocese were among the concelebrants, including Conventual Franciscan Father Donald Grzymski, president of Archbishop Curley High School and past chaplain of the Knights' Maryland State Council.
Some of that council's members were visible for their custom red nylon vests, which included the outline of a crab on the back. In lieu of blue, its color scheme was the Maryland flag.
Stephen J. Bayliff, recognitions programs chairman for the Maryland State Council, did not need a conversation-starter. As Knights took an escalator down to Mass, Bayliff greeted each and every one by name and with a hearty handshake.
Bayliff is a member of Jesus the Divine Word Council 14775 in Huntingtown. In 2000 he moved from Midland, Texas, to Southern Maryland, and soon thereafter became a Knight.
"I was recruited by Larry Donnelly," Bayliff said, of a fellow Knight involved in a signature outreach for persons with developmental disabilities. "He was selling Tootsie Rolls outside the Walmart in Prince Frederick. We hit it off."
The approximately 2,200 Knights and their wives in attendance included first-time conventioneers Bret and Courtney Ladenburger of Casper, Wyoming. A Knight since 1994, when he turned 18, Ladenburger is the state secretary for Wyoming, where the March for Life is held in Cheyenne and the Winter Special Olympics in Jackson.
"I'm enjoying the fraternity," Ladenburger told the Catholic Review, Baltimore's archdiocesan news outlet. "I'm humbled when I talk to the guys."
Larry Lewandowski, past state deputy for North Dakota, is a convention regular. His first thought when he heard the 2018 convention would be in Baltimore was Johnny Unitas, the late Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback— and Catholic, to boot.
Having spent 25 years in the U.S. Air Force, Lewandowski likens the Knights to a military outfit.
"There's a lot of brotherhood, and lot of discipline," said Lewandowski, a member of St. Mary's Parish in Grand Forks. "That allows us to do a great deal of the Lord's work."
Lewandowski described the fellowship he found at breakfast that morning.
"Cardinal Dolan was sitting at a table near mine," Lewandowski said, of New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan. "All I saw was his collar, and asked, 'Father, how are you doing?' Finally, I recognized him, and he just laughed. We had a great visit."

McMullen is managing editor of the Catholic Review, the news website and magazine of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Franciscan sisters run emergency lifeline for needy in West Virginia

By Colleen Rowan
Catholic News Service

KERMIT, W.Va. (CNS) — On a rainy July afternoon in Kermit, a local woman sifted through a table of donated apparel at Christian Help Inc.'s free clothing store. The outreach center was full that day and she was among many seeking help.
"The economy is so poor here it's hard for people to even clothe their children and grandchildren. There's no work, there's really no recreation here, there's nothing," she said as the blaring horn of a passing train outside muffled her words. She wished to remain anonymous but wanted to express how bad things are in the town located in Mingo County. 
"Without this place we would be lost," she told The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. "A lot of kids would not have what they need, people would not have the food they need."
For almost 25 years, Christian Help has provided the free clothing store as well as a food pantry, furniture and household items and, when possible, financial assistance to help with utilities, rent, medication, gasoline, propane and kerosene. Christian Help is a nondenominational, donation and grant-supported outreach center for low- to no-income residents.
It is run by Sister Therese Carew, a Franciscan Sister of the Sacred Heart of Frankfort, Illinois. For the people she has served for the last nine years, life is not easy she said, primarily because of the lack of job opportunities.
She said once mining, which was the major employer, went down, factories closed too.
"You can't just say, 'Well go out and get a job.' First of all, you have to be able to get there and there has to be an employer." In Kermit, other than the public elementary school, the store is the next largest employer with eight employees — four part-time and four full-time workers.
Christian Help is located by the Tug Fork River. On the other side of the river is neighboring Martin County, Kentucky, whose residents also come to Christian Help for assistance. The nearest Walmart is almost 40 minutes away but Kermit does have a Family Dollar and Dollar General.
"We're a nondenominational Christian emergency assistance agency, helping some of the poorest of folks in America," she said.
Another issue for the area is the opioid crisis, which West Virginia has suffered from in the past few years. It has been especially hard on Kermit, Sister Therese said.
Earlier this summer, she gave talk at St. Agnes Parish in Louisville, Kentucky, where she said that Kermit, with a population of 392, is known as the opioid capital of the U.S. "We have been featured on '60 Minutes' regarding this crisis — a single pharmacy in Kermit, received roughly 9 million pills over the course of two years."
Because of the opioid crisis, she said, the area has one of the highest death tolls resulting from overdose. And this, she said, has brought even greater challenges to a community that has already suffered so much.
"We have lots of grandparents raising their grandchildren, because of death or incarceration of the parents," she said. "If social services remove the children from a home, they literally hand the child to the family members taking them, often with no supplies provided." Because of this, she said, Christian Help is in need of basic baby supplies.
The store shares a building with a program sponsored by the Congregation of St. Joseph — A.B.L.E. Families (Affirming, Believing, Learning, Empowering) — which is headed by Franciscan Sister Pat Murray. Together, they help address the needs of the poor from different angles.
The sisters run the after-school program, giving students a snack and providing a place to get their homework done with computer access. The sisters also run a mother, infant, health outreach, to help mothers of young children.
Christian Help added a transportation component 18 years ago, bringing people to see doctors since there is no public transportation in Mingo County and many residents do not have cars.
"We have about four drivers on the road Monday through Friday," Sister Therese said.
Christian Help provides the free demand-response transit service to take people to doctors, pharmacies, stores or the post office, and any place they need to go.
It also works to help people pay for dental care, dentures and eyeglasses which are not covered by Medicaid.
Sister Therese said Christian Help is getting ready to give area children supplies and clothes for the new school year. Martin County families are given school supplies and no allowance for clothing, she said, and Mingo County families get a clothing voucher and no supplies.
"We provide what isn't, so our kids have what is needed to start the school year to be as successful as possible," she said. "Often the shoes we provide is the only pair of shoes they will have and they come in barefoot."

Editor's Note: Christian Help depends solely on donations and grants. To send a check or a box of donations, the regular U.S. Postal Service address is: Christian Help, Inc., PO Box 1257, Kermit, WV 25674. When using UPS, Fed Ex, DHL or any other delivery service, the address is: Christian Help, Inc., Virginia and Lincoln Streets, Kermit, WV 25674.

Rowan is editor of The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

Brazil church leaders speak against decriminalization of abortion

By Lise Alves
Catholic News Service

SAO PAULO, Brazil (CNS) — Representatives of the Brazilian bishops' conference argued in front of the country's Supreme Court against the decriminalization of abortion.
Reiterating Aug. 6 the Catholic Church's teaching "in the defense of life from its conception until its natural death," Bishop Ricardo Hoerpes of Rio Grande, Brazil, said that the issue was not for the court to decide.
"How will the Supreme Court explain a capital punishment sentence of an innocent, defenseless human being to justify our incapacity in producing adequate public policies when it comes to women's reproductive rights?" the bishop asked the court, which was preparing whether to decide decriminalizing abortion.
A fetus cannot be addressed as another human body part, he said.
"It looks like we're talking about a gallbladder, a kidney, or an appendix that we need to extirpate, which is causing women to die. The focus is wrong," Bishop Hoerpes said to a room full spectators.
The bishop also stressed that the question focus on the existence of the baby.
"The right to life is the most fundamental of rights and, therefore, more than any other, must be protected. It is a right intrinsic to the human condition and not a concession of the state. The powers of the republic have an obligation to guarantee and defend it," he said.
Bishop Hoerpes argued that the issue should be debated by the people's representatives, in Congress, and not in a court of law.
The other Catholic representative to speak before the justices, Father Jose Eduardo de Oliveira e Silva, complained that during the hearing many more representatives advocating for the decriminalization of abortion speaking than people wanting to preserve life.
"This hearing lends itself only to legitimize the activism of this court," he said. "It is pretending to listen to the parts, but in reality, is only legitimizing the (decriminalization) that will come next."
To draw attention to the issue of decriminalization, the bishops' conference called upon parishes Aug. 2 to ring church bells. At the foot of Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer, an iconic symbol of the church's importance in Brazil, Cardinal Orani Joao Tempesta of San Sebastian of Rio de Janeiro spoke to a group of pro-life supporters.
"From the height of the Corcovado, at the feet of the Redeemer, together, we want to draw the attention of the entire society to the importance of life," Cardinal Tempesta to the crowd gathered atop the mountain overlooking the Rio de Janeiro. "We want the bells that ring not only in Rio, but throughout Brazil, to draw attention to this important moment in our history, with the aim of guaranteeing the inviolability of the right to life."
Brazil has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world. It allows abortion only when the fetus is encephalitic, a pregnancy occurred because of rape, or the mother's life is at risk.
After Monday's hearing, the Supreme Court is expected to issue its decision in about 10 days.
The two-day hearing before the Brazilian high court comes days before legislators in Argentina, Pope Francis' homeland, were expected to vote on a bill that would reduce abortion restrictions.

Catholic Church offers to mediate Zimbabwe election dispute

By Bronwen Dachs
Catholic News Service

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) — The church in Zimbabwe said it is prepared to mediate between government and opposition leaders after six people were killed in violence that followed a disputed presidential election.
"We have offered to mediate any election disputes as well as broader concerns," Father Frederick Chiromba, secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference, told Catholic News Service Aug. 6 in a telephone interview from Harare.
With their parish and other structures, Zimbabwe's churches would be well positioned to lead the activities of the national peace and reconciliation process that began early this year, he said.
Emmerson Mnangagwa was declared the winner in voting July 30, but opposition leader Nelson Chamisa has disputed the result and said he will challenge it in court.
Mnangagwa succeeded Robert Mugabe, who had led Zimbabwe since its independence from Britain in 1980, after a military takeover in November.
"We condemn the killing of the demonstrators and all the ruthless force used" by the army and police, the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe said after security forces in the capital, Harare, shot at protesters who accused the government of vote-rigging.
Noting that the use of live ammunition to restrain unarmed civilians was "too extreme" and violated basic rights, the commission also criticized the protesters for violence including destruction of property.
It urged the security forces to apologize, particularly to the bereaved families.
"Saying 'sorry' would open doors for healing and rebuilding of good relationships between citizens and their defense forces," the commission said in an Aug. 2 statement signed by commission chairman Bishop Rudolf Nyandoro of Gokwe.
Zimbabwe's churches could mediate an "all-sides confidential dialogue," the commission said, noting that "an inclusive, objective, internally constructed process" is needed to resolve the electoral conflict.
The challenges Zimbabwe faces "are much deeper than the elections," Father Chiromba said. "There is still a lack of trust between the people and government" at all levels and the country's churches have "a big role to play in restoring that trust," he said.
"If we can manage to move forward as one people," much-needed development will follow, he said.
Most people in Zimbabwe, with a population of nearly 16 million, survive on $1 a day. They eke out a living in small-scale informal trade, mostly selling goods bought in South Africa.
"Investors were waiting for these elections. Now that they are over, we hope that Zimbabwe will be admitted into the community of nations, which will help in job creation," Father Chiromba said.
Mugabe's policies are widely blamed for the country's economic decline over the last two decades.
"There is now a conscious, sustained effort to restore the nation" and the economy "is in the early stages of recovery," Father Chiromba said.

Two Catholic universities rescind archbishop's honorary degrees

By Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Catholic University of America announced July 30 that it was withdrawing the 2006 honorary degree awarded to then-Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, in light of recent sexual abuse allegations.
This was the first time the university has rescinded an honorary degree.
On July 5, the board of trustees at Jesuit-run Fordham University in New York similarly rescinded an honorary degree the university had given the retired archbishop of Washington.
A message posted on the school's website from university's president, Jesuit Father Joseph McShane, said the action was to "acknowledge the extraordinary and long-lasting harm done to children who were sexually abused by clergy members. While we can never fully repair the sins of the past, we must respect the experience of abuse survivors, and accord them all the love and compassion of which we are capable."
The Catholic University statement likewise said it "acknowledges the tragedy of sexual abuse at the hands of clergy, and the deep and lasting pain and suffering of survivors. We offer our prayers and pastoral support for the survivors, that they and their families encounter healing and peace."
Archbishop McCarrick earned a master's degree and doctorate degree at Catholic University and served there as an assistant chaplain, dean of students and director of development. Later, he served several terms as a member of the university's board of trustees and served as chancellor of the university when he was archbishop of Washington from 2001 to 2006.
The University of Notre Dame announced Aug. 2 that it would not rescind the 2008 honorary degree it gave to Archbishop McCarrick until his canonical trial has concluded.
An Aug. 2 statement by Holy Cross Father John Jenkins, president of the university, said: "The only honorary degree that the University of Notre Dame has rescinded was that of Bill Cosby, and this action was taken only after judicial proceedings in criminal court concluded with a guilty verdict."
He said the university "finds the alleged actions reprehensible and has no reason to question the review board's findings" but it recognizes that Archbishop McCarrick has maintained his innocence. "As in the case of Bill Cosby, we will wait until that trial is concluded to take action."
Father Jenkins said he believes the university's action "respects not only the rights of those involved but also the adjudicatory process itself to allow that process to reach a conclusion before taking action."
The statement from Catholic University encouraged any survivors of abuse to contact the Archdiocese of Washington and its Office of Child and Youth Protection, which offer resources and confidential support to any who have suffered from abuse and who seek help.
A statement from the Washington Archdiocese July 29 also encouraged survivors of sexual abuse to come forward, stressing that their abuse claims will be addressed quickly and they will be given assistance in the hope of finding healing.
The statement points out that when the first claim against Archbishop McCarrick was filed in the Archdiocese of New York, the Archdiocese of Washington "reviewed its own files and found no complaints of any kind made against Archbishop McCarrick." It also said "the confidential settlements involving acts by Archbishop McCarrick in the Diocese of Metuchen and the Archdiocese of Newark (both in New Jersey) were not known previously" to Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl or to the Washington Archdiocese.
Additional claims of abuse by Archbishop McCarrick that have been described to the media also were not previously known to the Washington Archdiocese. "These experiences shared by survivors are profoundly troubling and represent a breach of trust and wounding that no person should bear alone," the statement added.
Since the allegations against Archbishop McCarrick were announced, the previously named McCarrick Family Center run by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington has been renamed the Catholic Charities Center.

Detroit celebrates the first feast of the ‘approachably holy’ Blessed Solanus Casey

DETROIT, Mich., July 30, 2018 (CNA/EWTN News) – Sixty one years after his death and eight months after his beatification, Blessed Father Solanus Casey is still able to draw crowds in Detroit.
The porter priest and Capuchin friar’s first feast day was celebrated in the Archdiocese of Detroit July 30, with a novena for his canonization and various Masses and special events held throughout the area in his honor.
Four Masses for Solanus were celebrated over the weekend and on Monday, including two celebrated by Archbishop Allen Vigneron. Each Mass was packed to full or overflowing, Fr. David Preuss, OFM Cap. and director of the Solanus Casey Center, told CNA.
When asked why so many people of Detroit and beyond continue to be drawn to Solanus even decades after his death, Preuss said it is because Solanus was “good to people.”
“That’s it, he’s good to people, he always was, and he continues to be,” Preuss said.
“People were asking how many people are going to come (to his feast day events) and I said look...he is a powerful intercessor, and we hear about new favors every week, they happen all the time,” Preuss said, so he was not surprised at the overflow crowds.
Fr. Solanus was a friar and simplex priest, meaning that, due to lesser academic abilities, he was not allowed to preach or to hear confessions.
This meant he carried out simpler tasks, and in Detroit he is fondly remembered as the porter (doorkeeper) at St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit, where he served 1924-1945.
As porter, Fr. Solanus became the main link from the brothers to the outside world, and he became renowned among the people of Detroit for the gentle and willing counsel that he offered from his post at the door, and for the miracles attributed to his intercession.
In order to be beatified in the Catholic Church, a miracle must be attributed to a person’s intercession after their death and approved by the Vatican.
For Solanus, that miracle was the curing of a skin disease in Paula Medina Zarate, a woman from Panama, who also made the trip to Detroit this week to celebrate Blessed Solanus’ feast day.
At the Solanus Casey Center, located just down the street from the monastery in Detroit where Fr. Solanus answered the door, nine days of prayer were held for Fr. Solanus leading up to his feast day, which included prayers for his canonization and different themes each day based on various aspects of the friar’s life. There was a blessing for the sick, tours of and donations to the soup kitchen founded by Solanus, as well as Masses for families, young people, and consecrated religious.
A second Mass celebrated by Archbishop Vigneron honoring Blessed Solanus was held at the National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica in Royal Oak, Michigan, a place where Solanus liked to retreat to pray.
Monsignor Robert McClory, rector of the shrine, told CNA that the chair Blessed Solanus used on his visits to the shrine was displayed for his feast day.

Sessions: Contributions of religious people make U.S. ‘stronger as nation’

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions greets Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, July 30 at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington. During the religious freedom event, Sessions announced formation of a Religious Liberty Task Force. (CNS photo)

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke about ongoing threats to religious freedom and what can be done to halt them at a conference held July 30 at the Department of Justice.
“Let’s be frank. A dangerous movement is now challenging and eroding our great devotion to religious freedom. It must be confronted, both intellectually and politically, and defeated,” he said.
“In recent years, the cultural climate in this country has become less hospitable to people of faith. Americans from a wide variety of backgrounds are concerned about what this changing culture means for the future of religious liberty.”
While Sessions provided no vision of what the world might look like if the culture continued to change, he said that “I believe that this unease among the American people is one reason President Donald Trump was elected.”
That election, Sessions said, will aid the cause of religious liberty.
“The last election gives us a rare opportunity to arrest these trends, and this president and this Department of Justice are determined to advance our magnificent heritage of freedom of religion.”
He also outlined what he thought was important to religious liberty.
“The government has no business telling the Little Sisters of the Poor that they need to buy an insurance police that violates their religious beliefs,” he said. “Free exercise means both the right to act and the right to abstain from acting.”
Religious freedom, he said, is more than just the freedom to worship. “The Constitution’s protections don’t end at the parish parking lot.”
Sessions also explained several kinds of actions the DOJ is taking as it “actively seeks to protect people of faith.”
“Since January 17 we’ve obtained 11 indictments and seven convictions in cases about arson or other attacks or threats on houses of worship,” and he also said that the DOJ was working to prosecute in cases involving threats made against people because of their religion.
Sessions also said that the DOJ was filing civil actions in courts when religious groups are discriminated against in zoning laws.
He said that the DOJ filed suit in June against a town in New Jersey that had been using zoning laws to prevent a group of Orthodox Jews from buying land to build a synagogue for eight years and had done the same for a group of Hindus in Maryland in a similar situation.
“We’ll keep going to court, and I believe we’re going to keep winning,” he said.
Sessions also said that he aimed to stay in touch with religious groups to make sure their concerns were being heard.
“We’re going to remain in touch with religious groups all over America to ensure that their rights are being protected,” he said.
He also announced formation of a Religious Liberty Task Force, which he said would help the DOJ implement fully the guidance it issued last October to all administrative agencies and executive departments regarding religious liberty protections in federal law. The guidance came the same day President Donald Trump acted to lift the contraceptive mandate from religious employers who are morally opposed to providing insurance coverage for contraceptives.
Sessions also said why fighting for religious liberty is important on a human level.
“There can be no doubt that we are stronger as a nation because of the contributions of religious people. People in Washington have no idea how much our religious communities are with people in the situations — birth, death, marriage, divorce — that most greatly affect human beings.”