Browsing News Entries

Historic low on US refugee cap lamented as 'deeply disturbing'

Washington D.C., Sep 18, 2018 / 01:18 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholic leaders have criticized an announcement that the United States will be reducing its refugee cap to historic lows, while global rates of refugees and forcibly displaced persons are at an all-time high.

“To cut off protection for many who are fleeing persecution, at a time of unprecedented global humanitarian need, contradicts who we are as a nation,” said Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin, Texas, chair of the U.S. bishops’ migration committee.

He said the lowered refugee limit “is deeply disturbing and leaves many human lives in danger.”

On Sept. 17, the Trump administration announced its intention to cap U.S. refugee resettlement at 30,000 next year, the lowest cap since the nation’s refugee program began in 1980.

The announcement comes as the world continues to witness its highest recorded number of forcibly displaced persons – more than 65 million across the globe, according to the United Nations. The number of refugees is also at its highest recorded level at over 22 million, more than half of whom are under age 18.

The lowering of the refugee cap for the 2019 Fiscal Year comes after the Trump administration previously lowered the cap to 45,000 for 2018, although fewer than half that many refugees have been resettled as the fiscal year comes to a close. In the final year of the Obama administration, the U.S. settled nearly 85,000 refugees.

In announcing the change, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cited the importance of screening for national security, and emphasized that refugee admissions are only one part of the United States’ global humanitarian assistance efforts, which will also include processing a back-logged system of asylum-seekers and providing foreign aid to refugees overseas.

Responding in a Sept. 18 statement, Bishop Vásquez stressed that the United States is a nation built upon a commitment to welcoming those fleeing violence and persecution, and has the resources to continue doing so.

“In the coming days, we pray that Congress will have the opportunity to engage in the formal consultation process with the Administration that is required by law,” the bishop said. “Congress should strongly urge the Administration to return to a refugee admission level that reflects the local community response and support of refugees, global refugee protection needs, and our long history of compassionately welcoming refugees.”

Jesuit Refugee Service / USA, an organization that works with and advocates for refugees, also criticized the announcement.

“With the world’s refugee population at its highest in recorded history, now is not the time to abandon the U.S. resettlement program,” said Giulia McPherson, director of advocacy and operations for Jesuit Refugee Service / USA.

The organization said in a Sept. 18 statement that “lowering the level of admissions to the U.S. will not only have a detrimental effect on thousands of individuals and families, but will also continue to weaken the leadership role that the U.S. has maintained in meeting the needs of suffering people around the world.” 

It called on Congress and the Trump administration to work toward a new goal of at least 75,000 in the coming Fiscal Year.

 

Religious priest named auxiliary bishop of Hartford

Hartford, Conn., Sep 18, 2018 / 11:07 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Father Juan Miguel Betancourt Torres, a member of the Institute of the Servants of the Holy Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary, was appointed auxiliary bishop of Hartford on Tuesday.

“I am honored and grateful to be entrusted with this mission of service in the Lord’s Church,” Fr. Betancourt, 48, said Sept. 18. “My prayers are for my seminary family, for my parish family, and for my new family in the Archdiocese of Hartford.”

Archbishop Leonard Blair of Hartford said that “the appointment of Father Betancourt is a cause of rejoicing not only for me personally, but for all our clergy, religious and laity. For me and for our clergy it means the welcome arrival of a dedicated co-worker in the Lord’s vineyard who brings a variety of talents and of experience to our shared ministry.”

“For the laity of the archdiocese in all its present-day diversity, Fr. Betancourt’s Hispanic/Latino heritage will only enhance the pastoral care that he will exercise for the good of everyone of every race and ethnicity,” he said.

“For those in religious life, Fr. Betancourt’s membership in the Society of the Servants of the Eucharist and Mary only serves to underscore the value and contribution that consecrated religious men and women make to the good of the Church.”

Fr. Betancourt was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico in 1970.

He entered the Institute of the Servants of the Eucharist and the Virgin Mary, a contemplative community which is part of the Schoenstatt Movement and which was founded in Puerto Rico, as a postulant in 1992. He professed vows as a religious in 1994, studied at the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico, and made perpetual vows in 2000.

He was ordained a priest of the religious institute in 2001, and received a licentiate in scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in 2005.

After receiving his licentiate Fr. Betancourt taught scripture at the Pontifical University of Puerto Rico and Regina Cleri Major Seminary, before beginning work in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis in 2006.

Since then, he has been a professor of sacred scripture at the Seminary of Saint Paul and the University of St. Thomas, local superior at the Casa de San José, and pastor of St. James and St. Francis de Sales parish.

Fr. Betancourt currently serves as vice rector and associate academic dean at St. Paul Seminary, in addition to teaching. He is also vicar general of the Society of the Servants of the Eucharist and Mary.

He has served on the Saint Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese's presbyteral council, and is a board member of the National Conference for Seminarians in Hispanic Ministry.

Bishop Andrew Cozzens, auxiliary bishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis and interim rector of St. Paul Seminary, said: “I have known Father Juan Miguel Betancourt for almost 15 years to be a man of deep prayer and a joyful servant in everything he does. His love for the study of sacred Scripture and his gifts for teaching will be a great blessing for his new episcopal ministry. He is a man who desires to be a servant in all he does, as is reflected in the name of his religious community the Servants of the Eucharist and Mary. We will miss the dedication, his wisdom in formation of men, and his joyful Puerto Rican spirit!”

Archbishop Bernard Hebda of Saint Paul and Minneapolis said that Fr. Betancourt's “sharp intellect, pastoral heart and joyful spirit suggest that the Lord has long been preparing him for this new ministry as a successor to the apostles. While he will be sorely missed at St. Francis de Sales parish and at the St. Paul Seminary, where he has served with distinction, I rejoice with the Church of Hartford at this appointment.”

Fr. Betancourt will be consecrated a bishop Oct. 18 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford.

Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 / 06:02 pm (CNA).- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued a statement on three priests mentioned as credibly accused of sexual abuse in the Pennsylvania grand jury report.

Released last month, the report found more than 1,000 allegations of abuse at the hands of some 300 clergy members in six dioceses in the state. It also found a pattern of cover up by senior Church officials.

“The horror of these crimes of sexual abuse and harassment is amplified by the failure of some bishops and diocesan officials to take corrective action against the offenders, and to communicate honestly with the faithful about what has happened and how they are responding,” said Father Philip Bochanski, executive director of Courage, in a Sept. 15 statement.

“I am writing to you to share some information regarding connections between the Grand Jury Report and Courage International, as well as to discuss some other issues related to the apostolate and how we handle allegations of sexual abuse.”

Father Bochanski said no reports of sexual abuse of minors had been made to him or his staff during his time in the Courage Office.

However, he noted three priests named in the Grand Jury report who have connections to the apostolate.

Fr. Michael Lawrence was assigned by the Diocese of Allentown as a Courage chaplain for two years before his 2002 retirement. Lawrence had been accused of an incident of abuse in 1982, was reported to the diocese, sent for treatment and returned to ministry. In 2009, another accusation was made against him, with the time of alleged abuse being unspecified in the report. Lawrence died in 2015.

Fr. Martin Boylan of Scranton was among 24 priests recommended in 1989 by the Scranton vicar general to meet with Courage founder Fr. John Harvey about establishing a diocesan chapter of the apostolate. Bochanski said it is not clear whether such a meeting ever took place and noted that no further connection between Boylan and Courage has been documented. Boylan was later accused of several incidents of sexual misconduct.

Fr. David Soderlund of Allentown admitted in 1980 to sexually abusing three minor boys. According to the grand jury report, he was placed under the spiritual care of Fr. Harvey.

Bochanski said Harvey was “well-known for providing pastoral care and spiritual direction to priests and religious brothers who experienced same sex attractions and were striving to live chaste celibate lives,” and that this included some ministry to priests who had been sent to treatment after being credibly accused of sexual misconduct.

Harvey worked within the psychology of the time, Bochanski said that Harvey was "a keen student of moral theology and psychology, and by all accounts his pastoral care was consistent with the advice given by professionals at the time."

"Clearly, thanks to major advances in their understanding of the nature of pedophilia and ephebophilia in the last two decades, psychiatrists and psychologists today make much different assessments of, and propose much different treatment for, sexual abusers than those working 30 or 40 years ago. Given Father Harvey’s evident interest in staying up-to-date with advances in psychology, as well as his faithful, loving concern for the good of the Church, I am confident to say that, were he working today, he would take the advice of these professionals very seriously and shape his pastoral approach accordingly."

No other sexual abuse or misconduct allegations involving Courage chaplains have been made in recent years, Bochanski said, however there has been one instance of inappropriate behavior involving a priest who is not a Courage chaplain in an online Facebook group.

The priest had made sexual remarks and sent inappropriate photos in a private Facebook Messenger account to a lay man whom he had met in a “Courage on Call” Facebook group, which is not officially run or monitored by Courage International, Bochanski said.

The lay man informed Bochanski of the interaction, and Bochanski contacted the priest’s diocese. The priest was subsequently removed from ministry.

Reiterating a commitment to transparency, Bochanski urged Catholics to not withhold any information about admitted or suspected sexual abuse.

“If you suspect or become aware that anyone has abused or is abusing a minor or a vulnerable person, I urge you to report it to law enforcement and child protection authorities immediately.  If the abuser is a member of the clergy, you should also report it to his diocese or archdiocese.”

The director said this abuse has understandably provoked anger and sadness among the members of the Church. He said his letter may especially stir up painful feelings for abuse victims and encouraged concerned individuals to bring their questions to Courage International.

“Should you have questions or concerns about this letter, or should it cause hurt that I can help to heal, please do not hesitate to contact me,” he said.

“I intend to continue to communicate with you, through the Courage and EnCourage Newsletter and in other forums, about the crisis the Church is facing and how we, as individuals and as an apostolate, can respond with charity in a spirit of service and witness.”

Congressmen object to FDA's 'barbaric' research method using human fetal tissue

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 / 04:56 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The purchasing of aborted fetal tissue for use in research is ‘abhorrent’ and must stop, said 85 members of the United States House of Representatives in a letter to the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA in July gave a $15,900 contract to Advanced Bioscience Resources (ABR) for “fresh human fetal tissue,” which would be transplanted into mice in order to create human-like immune systems for research purposes. It is the eighth contract between the FDA and the company since 2012, and seven of the contracts appear to relate to the same or similar programs.

Federal law prohibits the sale of human fetal tissue for “valuable consideration.” Furthermore, the letter states, Congress investigated ABR in 2016 as a part of their investigation into the fetal tissue procurement and late term abortion industries, and found ABR’s practices to be unethical and possibly illegal.

The 2016 investigation was spurred after David Daleiden, a pro-life advocate and a journalist with the Center for Medical Progress, released a series of videos which called into question the fetal tissue procurement and sales practices of Planned Parenthood.

“ABR plainly admitted to Congress that it obtained tissue by collecting human fetal remains from abortion clinics, paying $60 per ‘singe aborted fetus’ - and then upselling the child’s body parts separately to researchers at fees of $325 per ‘specimen’ - brain, eyes, liver, thymus and lungs,” the letter states.

Congress referred ABR to the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the District Attorney of Riverside County, California for further investigation.

Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said Sept. 17 that the FDA is using taxpayer dollars “to fund a barbaric research method that treats babies like research guinea pigs.”

More ethical methods of research exist, Smith said, such as developing human-like immune systems from human bone marrow or umbilical cord blood instead of obtaining tissue “through the destruction of unborn children.”

Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., who was part of the House investigation into ABR in 2016, said that she was “alarmed” that the FDA would partner with a ABR, which has a “checkered history of purchasing the remains of aborted children and reselling the babies.”

“While our letter calls on the FDA to cancel its contract with ABR, I would go the next step and call on all federal agencies including the National Institute of Health (NIH) to cease and desist in furthering the abhorrent and highly unethical practice of using aborted babies as research specimens. This is a grisly, disturbing, and unnecessary business,” she added.

Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., said that companies such as ABR “have suffered no consequences” despite the findings of Congress’ 2016 investigation.

“Considering President Trump’s pro-life promises, the FDA should immediately cease all government business with ABR and no longer use any aborted fetal cells for future research,” he added.

On Sept. 10, Daleiden said of the contract that it is “unconscionable that the United States government is still paying top-dollar in taxpayer money for the freshest, most high-quality dismembered baby hearts, lungs, livers, and brains.”

Judge rules lawsuit against faith-based adoption agencies can continue

Detroit, Mich., Sep 17, 2018 / 04:15 pm (CNA).- A lawsuit seeking to end state support for faith-based adoption agencies in Michigan will continue, a judge ruled on Friday.

Federal Judge Paul D. Borman of the Eastern District Court of Michigan denied a motion to dismiss the case Dumont v. Lyon, which challenges state funding for religious agencies which will not work with same-sex couples.

The case was filed in September of 2017 by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of two lesbian couples who were turned away by a faith-based agency, as well as a former foster child. The ACLU argues that the state is violating the First Amendment’s establishment clause by providing funding to faith-based agencies who do place children with same-sex couples.

The motion to dismiss was filed in July by the state as well as St. Vincent Catholic Charities, located in Lansing, Michigan. St. Vincent is one of the organizations named in the suit.

Rejecting the motion to dismiss, Borman wrote that the two couples, Kristy and Dana Dumont and Erin and Rebecca Busk-Sutton, experienced “stigmatic and practical harm” when they were turned away by faith-based agencies in Michigan.

Mark Rienzi, president of the Becket Fund, which is providing counsel for the state in this case, said that “Friday’s court ruling allows the ACLU’s lawsuit to proceed---a lawsuit aimed at forbidding the state from working with faith-based adoption agencies to help children in need.”

Rienzi warned that if this were to happen, it would be “much harder for thousands of children to find the loving home they each deserve.”

Friday’s ruling was “just one step along the journey in this case,” said Rienzi.

While some adoption and foster care agencies in Michigan have a religious affiliation, there are many secular agencies operating in the state as well. According to the Becket Fund website, in this case four such agencies - all of which do work with same-sex couples - were located closer to the plaintiffs than the adoption agencies cited in the suit.

“Instead of going to these agencies, [the ACLU] have spent years targeting St. Vincent and trying to shut down their programs,” said a statement on the Becket Fund website. In the past, same-sex couples working through other agencies in Michigan have adopted children being cared for by St. Vincent Catholic Charities.

Dumont v. Lyon is one of several recent cases involving Catholic and other faith-based adoption agencies and their inability to work with same-sex couples.

Other states, such as Massachusetts and California, have seen Catholic Charities shut down their adoption divisions following state attempts to mandate that the agencies work with same-sex couples in violation of their religious beliefs.

Earlier this year, the city of Philadelphia announced that it would no longer work with Catholic Social Services for foster placements, citing the refusal of Catholic Social Services to facilitate foster placements with same-sex couples.

Following the Philadelphia decision, one foster mother filed suit against the city in response.

While many foster homes affiliated with Catholic Social Services are now empty, the city of Philadelphia is seeking to recruit additional foster parents to meet a growing number of children in need of care, a rise linked to the opioid addiction crisis. Catholic Social Services operated in Philadelphia for over a century with no complaints from a same-sex couple.

Penn. class action lawsuit seeks release of all sex abuse allegation records

Harrisburg, Pa., Sep 17, 2018 / 01:22 pm (CNA).- A class action lawsuit filed Sept. 17 is seeking to require the Catholic dioceses of Pennsylvania to release all records involving allegations of child sexual abuse in the last 70 years.

The lawsuit, filed in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, claims that the dioceses failed to meet their mandatory reporting obligations, the Tribune Review reports.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of abuse survivors and Catholic school students and parents, according to Pittsburgh’s Action News 4.

Monday’s suit comes after last month’s release of a Pennsylvania grand jury report which found more than 1,000 allegations of abuse at the hands of some 300 clergy members in six dioceses in the state. It also found a pattern of cover up by senior Church officials.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court had ordered a redacted version of the report to be released after numerous individuals named in the report cited concerns of due process and reputational rights guaranteed by the state constitution.

All six dioceses in the report have released the names of clerics with credible allegations of misconduct, or said that they plan to do so.

 

Kavanaugh says misconduct allegation is 'completely false'

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 / 10:45 am (CNA).- Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has denied allegations made against him by Christine Blasey Ford. Ford authored a letter accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct when the two were high school students.

The accusations first surfaced last week, when Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) announced she was in possession of the letter but would not release the name of the accuser due to privacy concerns. Ford came forward in a Sept. 16 interview with the Washington Post.

Feinstein had been in possession of the letter since July, but did not question Kavanaugh about its contents before or during his appearances before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Instead, the senator forwarded the letter to the FBI late last week. The FBI have said they will not be investigating the matter.

Ford alleges that when she was in high school, a “stumbling drunk” Kavanaugh pinned her down in a bedroom at a house party, groped her over her clothing, and attempted to remove her clothes. She says that Kavanaugh covered her mouth when she attempted to cry out. The encounter ended when another man, named as Mike Judge, jumped on the two of them and she was able to leave the bedroom.

Ford says she was afraid Kavanaugh could have accidentally killed her.

Mr. Judge has said the incident never happened.

Kavanaugh has also denied the allegations, both before and after Ford came forward publicly. On Sept. 17, Kavanaugh released a statement in which he called it a “completely false allegation” and that he had “never done anything like what the accuser describes -- to her or to anyone.”

“Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday,” he said.

Kavanaugh also said that he is willing to defend himself in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee “in any way the Committee deems appropriate.”

On Monday afternoon, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) tweeted that she believed both Kavanaugh and Ford should testify under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sen. Collins is considered to be a potential swing vote in the Senate and has not yet said if she intends to support Kavanaugh’s nomination.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is currently scheduled to vote Sept. 20 on whether to recommend Kavanaugh for confirmation to the Supreme Court. If the majority-Republican committee votes in Kavanaugh’s favor, his nomination will then be put to a vote of the whole Senate.

If either President Trump or Kavanaugh himself were to withdraw his nomination, it is unlikely that a new nominee would be confirmed prior to this November’s midterm elections.

The next session of the Supreme Court opens on October 1.

‘Holy Foods Market’ brings customer service to local pantry

Washington D.C., Sep 16, 2018 / 07:00 am (CNA).- Northeast Washington, D.C., has seen rapid gentrification over the past decade. What was once a very poor neighborhood is now home to many high-end businesses, including a Whole Foods Market--and an innovative food pantry inspired in part by the upscale grocery store.

While the Whole Foods Market is open seven days a week, the “Holy Foods Market,” run by the Holy Name of Jesus Parish, located on K Street NE, is open twice a month.

Instead of a traditional food pantry, where those in need would receive a bag of food, clients who visit the Holy Foods Market are able to “shop” through the shelves and pick out what food items they would like.

The pastor at Holy Name of Jesus, Fr. Bill Carloni, said that he wanted to replicate the experience he had visiting Whole Foods in his parish’s food pantry. The idea grew into Holy Foods Market, which began operations in May, a little more than a year after the Whole Foods opened down the street. 

The pantry serves about 80 to 100 families a month, Carloni told CNA in an interview. Unlike many food pantries, few of the clients at Holy Foods Market are homeless. Most of the people served by the Market retirees, single parents, or the elderly. Each client is paired with a volunteer who assists them with the process of “shopping” for food.

Clients choose for themselves how much or how little food they need, within a certain limit. No one is required to take any particular food item, and some “customers” may only want certain things like milk, cereal, or peanut butter, Carloni said.

The setup of Holy Foods Market helps to preserve the clients’ dignity, the pastor told CNA. The pantry does not verify the income of its clients, though it does request that they either live within the approximate geographic boundary of the parish, or else have some sort of interaction with the church, either spiritually or as a volunteer.

"I've had feedback from a person, who said, 'You know, I'm so thankful that you treat me like a human being,’” said Carloni.

“I think that often they say 'beggars can't be choosers,' but that's the whole point. We don't want people to feel like beggars, and I think this does help humanize what we do. It does make them feel like they're shopping."

Allowing people to choose their own food items also has other benefits, Carloni explained to CNA. Because clients only pick items they actually want, no donated food is wasted.

The system also allows the Market to better accommodate clients with special diets or food allergies.

The previous system of distributing pre-packed bags of food resulted in many items going to waste, said Carloni, noting that cans of food were often found discarded outside of the pantry.

"There was one person who said specifically that she used to come, every month, to get food. But then when she would get home, she would empty the bag and she would keep about half the contents and then she would re-donate the other half back to the pantry, ” said Carloni.

“So she was trying not to waste it, actually, but what would end up happening is that she'd get the same stuff back the next month.”

Caroni told CNA that he believes sometimes people can approach ministries like a food pantry with a  “wrong mentality” and that those who are less fortunate “should be grateful and they should just take whatever they get.”

Fr. Carloni said that for many of the clients at the Market, it is extremely humbling to have to ask for a handout or for food assistance, and they strive to make the process of “shopping” as dignified and “customer oriented” as possible.

"I think a lot of people at one point or another have been in need of charity. Receiving love shouldn’t come at the cost of your dignity."

Catholic Charities in NY receives grant to treat rural opioid abuse

New York City, N.Y., Sep 15, 2018 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A Catholic Charities in New York has received a nearly $1 million grant to provide care to opioid addicts in rural counties in the southern part of the state.  

This year the Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster received $982,356 in federal funding, as part of N.Y. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s $25 million plan to tackle the state’s opioid crisis. This is the second year Catholic Charities has received funding to fight opioid abuse.

Dr. Dean Scher, CEO of this local Catholic Charities, told CNA that 10 percent of the U.S. population suffer from opioid abuse. He said opioid related deaths average about 185 per day in the nation.

The money will help Catholic Charities to provide addiction services, like more staff and equipment, to the New York counties of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster, about 70 miles north of New York City. Scher said many of these people struggle with transportation issues.

“The money is used for us to hire staff and [purchase] equipment that allows us to embed the staff in the community in rural areas and in areas where people typically have a hard time accessing treatment,” said Dr. Scher.   

“We have a multidisciplinary treatment team as well as equipment that allows us to do telemedicine.”

He said the equipment purchased is of two kinds – transportation to bring the proper services to these people and technology, like computers and video cameras, which allow psychologists and physicians to determine treatment from afar.

In the teleconference, he said, the patients are pointed to some of the community resources, whether it be primary health care, psychiatric health care, or social safety net programs.

Some of the therapies patients’ access are Community Reinforcement and Family Therapy, Holistic Health Recovery, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Seeking Safety.

Transportation is one of the barriers restricting people from access to addictive services and other forms of health care, said Scher, but he also said many of these people have not developed a habit of self-care.

“Statistics and research indicates that nine out of 10 people who suffer from an opioid use disorder do not access treatment,” he said.

“While transportation may be a barrier … another significant barriers is these people typically, traditionally do not engage in any kind of treatment service,” he added.

He said there is a high correlation connecting poverty and the development of diseases to further substance abuse. He said the goal of this Catholic Charities’ program is to directly treat substance abuse problems and to establish preventative measures to reduce future relapses.

“The focus of the work is not only to link these people up with the treatment for their substance use disorder, but all the other disorders,” he said. “The idea is to begin to develop relationships with these people and the trust of that relationship increases the probability that they’ll begin to enter treatment one a regular basis for all of their problems.”

This method also looks to reduce medical costs at the state level, he said, noting the large portion of people who do not seek medical treatment are responsible for a majority of the Medicaid dollars spent.

“I don’t think there is a person in the nation who has not lost a family member or a friend or someone they know to an overdose,” he said.

“We all need help,” he said. “It’s part of our mission – to provide help and create hope.” 

Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 / 05:03 pm (CNA).- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia said on Friday.

Chaput gave his Sept. 14 address at the Faith and Reason Institute at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, to mark the 20th anniversary of the encyclical Fides et ratio by St. John Paul II, which he recommended reading in tandem with Veritatis splendor.

Both encyclicals teach that the only way to discover the truths about man is through both faith and reason, which rely upon each other, Chaput said. Because the two are inseparable, when man loses his faith, as he is doing today, he loses much of what it means to be human.

“Today, at least in much of the developed world, theology is a backwater. Metaphysics is a museum piece. Politics, not religion, shapes our public discourse and monopolizes our zeal. The sexual revolution has crippled our institutions of marriage and family,” he said.

The catechism, he notes, has been replaced by “American advertising and entertainment.”

While there are signs of hope in regards to faith in the United States, which is still the most faithful country in the developed world, the country is also “bleeding out” when it comes to people who identify as religious, especially among the young, he said.

This hemorrhaging of faith is what makes the current scandals in the Church all the more difficult to bear, Chaput said.

“Our country and the world need a pure voice speaking the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a response. And this is what makes the current sex abuse crisis in the Church so damaging and dangerous, like a lit match in a roomful of kindling,” he said.

“The leaders tasked with witnessing Christian truth to the world as bishops and religious superiors are exactly the men who have too often failed their people, failed in their ministry, and even actively betrayed their vocation. We bishops and the Vatican itself are now seen as the problem. We need to face that fact honestly, and work to change it by our actions.”

The loss of faith also has a detrimental impact on three areas - sex, technology, and basic premises - that can shape or mis-shape society, Chaput added.

When man loses faith in God, he said, sex becomes little more than base instinct.

“Sex in today’s popular culture is mainly about impulse and desire, limited only – and sometimes not at all - by mutual consent. Rational self-mastery has little to do with it. Modesty is seen as a form of self-inflicted repression,” he said.

Technology then serves to drive the sexual revolution, which has forgotten God, Chaput said.

As for basic premises, Chaput said that America is increasingly seeking to base its morality on Enlightenment principles alone, which attempt to uphold human dignity, while cutting that dignity off from its supernatural roots.

“It doesn’t work, because it can’t work,” Chaput said.”It’s like cutting the heart out of a living creature.”

History issues dire warnings to man about what can happen when he is cut off from God and attempts to rely on reason or logic alone, Chaput noted.

“...the Jewish Holocaust was a tragedy without parallel,” Chaput said. “But it did have a precedent; a kind of test run.”

That test run was in the 1930s, when the Third Reich ordered the euthanization of more than 300,000 people with mental and physical disabilities. It was promoted as the “merciful” thing to do, Chaput said.

“Many of the victims were children, ages 6-15. The excuses given were legion: saving patients from their suffering; cleansing the Aryan gene pool; reducing the financial burden of unproductive citizens on the life of the community. Many patients were killed by injection. Some were starved. Others were gassed as groups in holding rooms or mobile ‘treatment’ vans,” he said.

Many of the targeted patients were housed in religious facilities, but only a few religious leaders, such as Bishop Clemens August Graf von Galen of Munster, spoke out against the program.

But part of the reason the program was so successful was because German doctors had started abandoning faith principles in favor of utility-based morality several decades prior, Chaput noted.

“Doctors, not the Third Reich, first pressed for euthanasia as national policy. What occurred among medical experts, in the words of one German psychiatrist, was ‘a change in the concept of humanity,’ with its perfectly logical consequences. Sentimental words about human dignity, unmoored from some authority or purpose higher than ourselves, were just that - words.”

Only through faith in God, who is love, can man overcome the brutal ends toward which a society based on reason alone leads.

“The genius of Fides et Ratio, the beauty and the glory of the text, is its defense of the capacity of human reason to know the truth; a truth rooted in the deep harmony of creation,” Chaput said.

“The world has a logic and meaning breathed into it by its Author, who is Love himself. And reason lit by faith can see that, and find the path to him.”

“Despite all the crises in the Church, despite all the failures and sins of her leaders, despite all our distractions and weaknesses and indifference as a people, God guides the world,” Chaput added.

“He informs and sustains it with his Love. In seeking that love, and finding it, and living it with all our mind and heart – therein lies our joy. Therein lies our hope.”