Browsing News Entries
Brutal attack does not keep two Baltimore pro-life advocates from their work
Posted on 06/7/2023 21:15 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Baltimore, Md., Jun 7, 2023 / 14:15 pm (CNA).
Less than a week after a violent attack against two elderly pro-life activists outside of a Baltimore Planned Parenthood, both men returned to the abortion facility to continue their work as sidewalk counselors promoting life.
The two senior citizens were brutally assaulted in front of the clinic on May 26 by an assailant who remains at large. The unidentified suspect attacked two elderly men after engaging in a “debate” with one of the pro-life activists about abortion.
Dick Schafer, 80, who was knocked to the ground and kicked, left the scene, bleeding from his head, with cuts, scrapes, and body aches.
The second man, 73-year-old Mark Crosby, who was badly beaten and kicked, was taken to the hospital in an ambulance and treated for external and internal bleeding that will require multiple surgeries.
Despite the severity of the attack, both men were not deterred from returning to the Planned Parenthood clinic on Tuesday, May 30, the next day the facility was open. Schafer and other members of the pro-life community were also there on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
“I’m not well,” Crosby told CNA. “But I’m better off than a baby that’s been butchered.”
Schafer, whose injuries were less severe, said he didn’t think twice about returning.
“I think [Crosby] might have taken a few more blows that I might have gotten,” he said. “After Mark [Crosby] did that, I had no choice but to go down there again.”
“It’s not for everybody, but I like being there, that’s for sure,” Schafer said.
‘The last line of hope’
Schafer provides sidewalk counseling, in which he engages with men and women who are walking into an abortion facility. He hands out literature, tries to converse with them about choosing life, and directs them to resources that can help them with the pregnancy.
“I talk to people going in there and I offer some help,” Schafer said. “I ask them to choose life.”
The Planned Parenthood facility is in downtown Baltimore on North Howard Street, across from several vacant buildings and a day care center. Next door to the abortion facility is a pregnancy resource center called Options, which provides women with non-abortive pregnancy services as an alternative to Planned Parenthood’s services.
Last Friday, Planned Parenthood had one security guard and four volunteer escorts stationed at the door of the clinic. That morning at least five pro-life activists were trying to engage men and women who walked toward the facility. One of the men also handed pamphlets to people who were stopped at red lights in their cars. A sixth man paced the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood while praying the rosary.
Brenda Bicksey, who was there to assist with the pro-life activists’ efforts on Friday with her young daughter, told CNA she comes to the clinic to show parents there are alternatives to abortion.
Bicksey said she wants to “let these parents know there’s help and they don’t have to murder their baby” and to “help find them whatever they need.”
“We’re sort of the last line of hope,” she said.
The Planned Parenthood escorts, wearing rainbow-colored vests with the words “CLINIC ESCORT” on them, were observed trying to prevent Schafer and other pro-life sidewalk counselors from talking to anyone who planned to enter the facility. They also tried to stop the activists from handing out pamphlets about alternatives to abortion.
In one instance, an escort forced himself in between a counselor and a woman who was walking toward the facility and physically boxed him out while trying to prevent her from receiving a pamphlet.
“Don’t take anything from them,” the escort implored the woman. “Those are protesters.”
Some of the literature included information about the number of Black babies killed by abortions in the United States, the emotional and physical risks of having an abortion, stories about mothers who chose to keep their babies after contemplating abortion, and information about resources that could help them through their pregnancy. One of the pamphlets geared toward men asks the father of the unborn child to step up and encourage the mother to choose life.
Most of the people entering the abortion facility refused to engage with the sidewalk counselors; one woman just shouted “bye” multiple times as she walked past them and entered the Planned Parenthood clinic.
Crosby, the activist who was more severely injured, told CNA that he takes a different approach than that of sidewalk counselors.
“I always have my rosary in my hand,” he told CNA, adding that he sprinkles blessed salt and holy water outside the clinic’s entrance. He prepares baggies with rosaries, prayer cards, and a prayer book, which he said he offers to those he encounters at the clinic.
“I don’t counsel people,” Crosby said. “I’m not a protestor. … I walk around in front of Planned Parenthood. I’m usually out in the street and I pray the rosary, and I don’t counsel people unless they come over to me.”
Crosby said he is “not forcing anything on anyone.”
The May 26 attack
On the morning of the May 26 attack, Schafer and Crosby were engaged in their normal routine outside of the Baltimore Planned Parenthood abortion facility. Schafer was counseling people near the building and Crosby was out in the street.
Schafer told CNA he was having “a little chat” that was “kind of cordial” with an advocate for abortion who had expressed disagreements with his pro-life views.
“We had two or three back and forths,” he said before he told the man that he needed to get back to work.
When Schafer turned away from the man, he bent down to replenish some of the material he was handing out. At this moment, the man struck him. Schafer initially thought he was hit by the train that runs parallel to the road.
“As I’m leaning over: ‘Boom!’” Schafer said. “I thought the train hit me. I thought ‘I never felt anything like that.’”
Witnesses saw Schafer lying on the ground unconscious, but he said he did not immediately realize he had been knocked out.
“I thought I instantly hit the sidewalk with my back and I [looked] up and it was sunny and blue skies and I kind of thought a little bit about what just happened,” he told CNA. “I got up and I noticed that the back of my right hand was bleeding a little bit.”
Crosby said when he was out in the street, just before the attack, the man had pointed at him and told him, “You stay out in the street.” He said he saw the man hand his drink to a Planned Parenthood escort right before he attacked Schafer.
“This person gets in a football rushing position and now Dick’s got his back to him, [he] hits him hard up into the plate glass [and then] he went through this big huge planter,” Crosby said. “Dick hits the ground [and] the guy kicks him.”
Crosby rushed over to help Schafer, but the man then turned on Crosby.
“This guy grabs my chain around my neck with crosses and medals,” Crosby said.
“[Then] he hits me in the face, I hit the ground, [and] he kicks me,” Crosby added.
Crosby lost consciousness for a brief period but eventually got back up and was “staggering around the sidewalk” until he walked into Options, the pregnancy health center next door, to sit down and wait for an ambulance to arrive.
After the man kicked Crosby in the head, the man left the scene. He was not apprehended by police, and the Baltimore County Police Department is still searching for him. Metro Crime Stoppers released a photo of the accused man on Wednesday and is offering a $2,000 reward. They are asking anyone with information to call Metro Crime Stoppers at 866-7LOCKUP.
“So within a minute, this guy does all that destruction and he’s out of there,” Crosby said.
“If they’re killing babies, well, what’s the big deal [to them] about beating up an old man?” John Roswell, who runs Baltimore Sidewalk Advocates for Life and arrived shortly after the attack, told CNA.
“It wasn’t a fight,” Roswell added. “Nobody in our group had their dukes up.”
Roswell said the investigating officer spent about two hours on the scene. He told CNA he wasn’t optimistic that the Baltimore County Police would put in the effort to find the attacker, saying “they don’t want to make Planned Parenthood look bad.”
Crosby told CNA he had a “severe concussion” and two fractured fingers that probably need surgery. He said he lost sight in one of his eyes, which is bleeding internally, and will likely require surgery. He added that “my knees are killing me” and “my head is still pounding right now.”
Schafer was not taken to the hospital but instead decided to drive home. At first, he planned “to go to a rosary and then Mass and Communion,” which he does daily after spending the morning at Planned Parenthood. However, on his drive, he said, “I touch my head and I look and my head’s bloody.”
Schafer decided to visit a doctor to get cleaned up and checked out but still has aches and pains. He said that Crosby’s intervention may have saved him from being injured worse.
Opposition from Planned Parenthood escorts
Several pro-life activists outside of the Baltimore Planned Parenthood told CNA that the escorts and pro-abortion advocates entering the facility or simply passing by are often hostile to the pro-life activists.
“We are threatened on a very regular basis,” Roswell told CNA.
In one instance, Roswell said a man tried to hit him with his car after Roswell convinced the woman he was with to go into the pregnancy resource center rather than abort her child at the Planned Parenthood clinic.
Because of the frequent threats, Roswell began to carry pepper spray for self-defense purposes. He said he’s never needed to use it, but once pulled it out when a man shoved him and “[pulled] out a pipe wrench.”
In that instance, Roswell said the Planned Parenthood escorts “hustled [the man] out of there.”
Roswell said the escorts “create this atmosphere that emboldens people” and “they stand there and smirk if somebody’s threatening us.” He also said the police have mostly been unhelpful and, in one instance, encouraged him to walk away from the person when he called to report a threat.
“If I walk away from here every time there’s a threat, I wouldn’t be here,” Roswell said.
Crosby said that the escorts also become physical, stating that one of them “tries to get in our way and knock us down because we’re seniors.”
Bicksey, who was at the clinic on Friday, also said threats happen “all the time here” and that she has “been pushed around.”
“We need more hands on deck here. We need Christians here,” Bicksey said. “We need church leaders. … We need more people.”
Schafer recounted that people “threaten to kill me” at times, but “I always have a smile on my face.”
Legal fight ahead
Given the brutality of the attack, Crosby and Schafer are pursuing legal action and are being represented by American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative nonprofit legal team.
“This is horrific, and we’re appalled that it happened,” Olivia Summers, senior litigation counsel for ACLJ, told CNA.
“There’s been an escalating violence against the pro-life community … since Dobbs,” Summers added.
Summers said the ACLJ is still in the fact-gathering stage and is in contact with the police about finding out who the man responsible is.
She said the ACLJ is looking into tort claims and civil claims as well as determining whether the assailant violated any federal laws, such as the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. She added that ACLJ is also trying to find out whether the man is “known to anybody [or] had any connection to Planned Parenthood.”
“[We need to] take a stand and make sure people know this isn’t going to be tolerated,” Summers said.
‘What Is A Woman?’ just passed 177 million views on Twitter. Why did it go viral?
Posted on 06/7/2023 20:45 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 7, 2023 / 13:45 pm (CNA).
The one-year-old “What Is a Woman?” documentary has amassed more than 177 million views in less than a week on Twitter. Despite pushback from transgender activists, the documentary has had enormous success since the film was offered on Twitter at the beginning of June. CNA took a look at what the film is about and why it’s amassed so many views recently.
What is the film about?
The documentary, which stars popular culture and political commentator Matt Walsh and is distributed by The Daily Wire, tackles questions related to the transgender movement, specifically delving into the question posed in the title, “What is a woman?”
Walsh interviews a variety of people, including politicians, doctors, a professor, and a therapist, asking them whether they can explain what a woman is. When met with unclear and nonspecific answers, Walsh presses the question further.
At one point, he asks Dr. Patrick Grzanka, a professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies at the University of Tennessee, to explain the differences between sex and gender. When Walsh presses Grzanka about wanting to know the truth and the reality of whether someone is a man or a woman, the professor expresses that he is uncomfortable.
“I’m really uncomfortable with that language of like ‘getting to the truth,’” Grzanka said during the interview. “It sounds actually deeply transphobic to me and if you keep probing, we’re going to stop the interview.”
During the documentary, Walsh also speaks with women who have been forced to compete with biologically male athletes who identify as women. This includes women who placed behind their transgender competitors in both swimming and track and field and believe wins and better finishes were taken from them.
Why is the film going viral?
The film is a year old and was initially released by The Daily Wire to its paid subscribers on June 1, 2022. To celebrate the one-year anniversary, The Daily Wire made the film free on Twitter for a limited time, which began on June 1, 2023.
“What Is A Woman?” has amassed about 177.2 million views on The Daily Wire’s Twitter post since it was released for free. The film has received a lot of publicity and positive feedback from conservatives but a lot of hostility from transgender activists.
Because the film deals with the highly contentious issue of gender identity and gender ideology, it has gained publicity from both sides of the issue.
The documentary has not received many reviews from movie critics, but it received an 83% approval rating from six movie critics listed on Rotten Tomatoes and an 86% approval rating from more than 10,000 users rating the film.
“Our film has been banned from most platforms,” Walsh said in a Tweet. “Mainstream movie critics refused to even review it. It’s been blacklisted and suppressed and yet still reached a massive audience. But how many more could we have reached without the deck stacked completely against us? It’s no use lamenting these things.”
How did it survive content moderation on Twitter?
Twitter initially entered into a deal with The Daily Wire to help broadcast the documentary but ultimately backed out of the deal and began suppressing the film as soon as it was posted on the social media platform.
When the documentary initially aired on Twitter, it was given a content warning, which flagged the video as “hate speech” and limited its visibility based on accusations that it was transphobic.
Walsh and other members of The Daily Wire’s team sparred with Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal on Twitter about the restrictions. They also directly appealed to Twitter owner Elon Musk by tweeting at his account.
Musk ultimately intervened and put a stop to the suppression efforts, which included getting rid of the “hate speech” warning. He then tweeted out the documentary, saying “every parent should watch this.” He pinned the tweet for a brief period.
What have Catholics said about it?
Walsh is a practicing Catholic and the film was well received by some Catholic viewers.
CatholicVote, a Catholic political advocacy group, recommended the film for viewers aged 16 and older and suggested that high school students should discuss it with a trusted adult.
“The question ‘What is Woman?’ is a hook — to catch a bigger fish, as it were,” Erika Ahern of CatholicVote wrote on June 2, 2022.
“Yes, it’s one important question that trans ideologues have refused to tackle,” she continued. “(We hear multiple interviewees replying the Walsh with, ‘Why are you asking that question?’) But there are a number of other questions that could be posed. What is a man? What is gender? What is sex? But the central question is much deeper. Fisherman Walsh tackles it even before he lands his first interview: ‘What is truth?’”
Ann Schneible, a freelance journalist writing a review for National Catholic Register, gave the film a B+. She said it is a good starting point for this issue but would not recommend it as a tool for understanding someone with gender dysphoria.
“While it may not be persuasive to anyone who does not generally agree with Walsh, it may still be a valuable starting point for anyone who wants to delve deeper into an issue that is affecting an increasing number of individuals and families,” Schneible wrote. “From this perspective, I would recommend this film.”
Mary Rice Hasson, the director of the Person and Identity Project at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, tweeted out her support for the film and criticism of the initial restrictions.
“Matt Walsh’s documentary has had a powerful impact, sharing the truth on an incredibly important issue,” Hasson said.
Oli London, a man who formerly identified as a gender-fluid trans woman but has since detransitioned and converted to Catholicism, also tweeted about the film and the previous censorship.
“Despite Twitter censoring [Matt Walsh’s] ‘What is a Woman?’ [The Daily Wire’s] documentary this evening and Elon issuing several tweets adding to the confusion he has now tweeted that the censorship will create ‘The Streisand effect,’” London tweeted. “The Streisand effect is an unintended consequence of attempts to hide, remove, or censor information where it instead leads to increased awareness of that information.”
Sachin Jose, a Catholic journalist and social media influencer, encouraged others to step up and discuss this issue.
“Matt Walsh is one the greatest evangelizers in the West and Catholic Church today,” Jose said on Twitter. “He is able to save the lives of thousands of kids. We need priests, bishops, and laypeople who are not afraid to speak the truth.”
California honors anti-Catholic drag group ‘Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence’ at state capitol
Posted on 06/7/2023 19:25 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., Jun 7, 2023 / 12:25 pm (CNA).
Michael Williams, who goes by the name “Sister Roma” and is a member of the San Francisco chapter of an anti-Catholic drag group known as the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence,” was honored by the California state Legislature on Monday.
Outside the capitol, hundreds of Catholics and other Christians held a prayer vigil, and several members of the California Republican Caucus walked out of the capitol in protest while Williams was honored.
The prayer vigil outside ends as a group of nuns, priests, monks and ordained pastors lead the crowd in reciting the "Lord's Prayer." A few hundred people showed up to protest the #PrideMonth event inside the Capitol. pic.twitter.com/vWsXLNANMF— Dustin Gardiner (@dustingardiner) June 5, 2023
Inside the capitol, Williams received a standing ovation on the assembly floor, and several lawmakers posed for photos with Williams, who was wearing a black gown, heavy white makeup, and a large purple-blue wig.
After Republicans criticized Sister Roma’s invitation to participate at the Capitol’s pride ceremonies, she gets a standing ovation and loudest applause on the Assembly floor. pic.twitter.com/HUTyAwB117— Ashley Zavala (@ZavalaA) June 5, 2023
California Senate Minority Leader Brian Jones issued a statement calling the decision to honor “Sister Roma” at the capitol a “slap in the face to Catholics who cherish their faith and hold it as a cornerstone of their identity.”
“By inviting a prominent leader of this hateful group, Senate Democrats have shown a blatant disregard for the 10 million Catholic Californians in our state,” Jones said. “Were this group to spread hateful messages about Jews, Muslims, Hindus, or any other religion, Senate Democrats would certainly not extend this invitation.”
A national drag group, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence uses Catholic religious imagery and themes in protests and sexualized performances to raise awareness and money for LGBTQ+ causes. The performers call themselves nuns and regularly use the images of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and women religious.
A member of the drag group since 1987, Williams is an activist, pornography filmmaker, and one of the most well-known Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
Williams was honored along with other prominent LGBTQ+ figures and was invited by state Sen. Scott Wiener, who is also a well-known LGBTQ+ activist.
Before Williams was honored, the California Senate Republican Caucus sent a letter to the Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins requesting she retract the invitation to “Sister Roma.” Atkins refused, calling the request a “misguided distraction on the first day of Pride month.”
The California Legislature’s decision to honor the drag queen activist comes amid controversy over the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence being honored by the Los Angeles Dodgers at a Major League Baseball game on June 16. The team’s decision to honor the group has been decried by prominent Catholics and Christians, including Dodgers pitcher Blake Treinen, who said it “disenfranchises a large community and promotes hate of Christians and people of faith.”
Thousands of United Methodist churches break away over LGBTQ+ disagreements
Posted on 06/6/2023 22:45 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., Jun 6, 2023 / 15:45 pm (CNA).
As the United Methodist Church (UMC) is rocked by disagreement over LGBTQ+ issues, more than 4,000 congregations have officially split from the denomination this year.
More congregations joined the growing schism this weekend with 60 leaving in Michigan on Saturday and 250 in Kentucky splitting with the UMC on Sunday.
Jay Therrell, president of the Wesleyan Covenant Association and a leader in the “disaffiliation” movement, told CNA that “the authority of Scripture and the lordship of Christ” has “deteriorated for many, many years in the United Methodist Church.”
Today, Therrell said, that problem is “playing out in the issue of human sexuality.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, 4,876 Methodist churches this year have officially completed the process to break away from the UMC, Therrell said.
According to Therrell, many of those churches have gone on to join the more theologically conservative Global Methodist Church, which was founded in 2022 with the help of the Wesleyan Covenant Association and now numbers approximately 2,500 congregations.
“We absolutely believe that the United Methodist Church is drifting day by day ever more progressive,” Therrell said. “We have bishops all across the globe who are completely violating the Book of Discipline [the primary Methodist book of teachings, similar to the Catholic catechism]. They are allowing all sorts of things to happen that violate various paragraphs, much of it to do with human sexuality.”
The conflict erupted in full force in 2019 after a special session of the General Conference of the entire UMC debated whether to adopt new rules promoting homosexuality in the church. The propositions were ultimately defeated in a 53% to 46% vote approving a “Traditional Plan” reaffirming the UMC’s stance on traditional marriage and sexuality.
Since 2019, however, the UMC has steered the church toward the left on key social issues such as LGBTQ+ ideology.
Though denying the ordination of homosexual individuals, the UMC’s official website states that “everyone is welcome to worship and actively participate in the life of our churches” and that “laypersons may become members and live out their faith through their local church without respect to sexual orientation or practice.”
The UMC’s website further admits that the denomination’s teaching on homosexuality may be changed in the future. “When the next General Conference convenes (April–May 3, 2024) it will address multiple legislative proposals to alter existing church policies on human sexuality and to divide or restructure the denomination as a result of differences on these and other issues,” the UMC’s website states.
In the United States, the UMC is divided into five “jurisdictions.” Each of these jurisdictions passed similar measures in 2022 stating that “LGBTQIA+ people will be protected, affirmed, and empowered” in the church, according to the AP.
Of the 46 active UMC bishops, two are openly homosexual, despite official UMC policy denying the ordination of LGBTQ+ persons.
Meanwhile, the influence of LGBTQ+ supportive groups has been increasing within the UMC.
The Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) is a group that, according to its website, is “committed to intersectional justice across and beyond the United Methodist connection” and is “working for the full participation of all LGBTQ+ people throughout the life and leadership of the Church.”
According to a November 2022 RMN statement, conferences of the UMC’s five jurisdictions resulted in “a historic slate of episcopal elections for the Reconciling movement” in which 13 new LGBTQ+ supportive bishops were elected.
“Episcopal elections are important for LGBTQ+ justice because our Church’s moral direction is deeply influenced by the values of the elected bishops and because bishops hold immense power to affect the livelihoods of LGBTQ+ clergy and congregations seeking justice and inclusion,” RMN said. “We celebrate these newly elected justice-seeking bishops who represent more of the whole of humanity and whose wisdom is invaluable in the ongoing co-creation of our Church.”
Besides electing openly homosexual bishops, some members of the UMC clergy have called for official apologies to be made for even challenging their election.
At the 2022 South Central Jurisdiction Conference, RMN reported that Rev. Katie McKay Simpson, a pastor from Louisiana, “called the jurisdiction to collective confession and apology for challenging the historic election of Bishop Karen Oliveto, the Church’s first out gay bishop.”
To Therrell, the jurisdictions’ adoption of pro-LGBTQ+ resolutions “telegraph where the future of the UMC is.”
“We think it is highly likely at the General Conference in 2024 that the definition of marriage will change, that the ordination standards will change, and that most of the traditional provisions we’ve passed in recent years will be repealed,” Therrell said.
As of now, nearly one-quarter of UMC congregations have officially broken away within the last five years.
The departures have only been increasing exponentially. According to UM News, the official news-gathering agency of the UMC, 4,645 churches officially split from the UMC so far this year. That is more than double the number of churches that left in the previous year (2,003) and almost 10 times the number in 2021 (486).
NFL champ Harrison Butker makes a statement with pro-life necktie at White House visit
Posted on 06/6/2023 22:15 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Boston, Mass., Jun 6, 2023 / 15:15 pm (CNA).
During the Kansas City Chiefs’ visit to the White House on Monday in celebration of their Super Bowl victory in February, the team’s kicker, Harrison Butker, made a statement in support of the unborn by wearing a custom-made necktie with a pro-life message.
Butker, a faithful Catholic, wore a tie that says “Vulnerari Praesidio,” a Latin phrase he says means “protect the most vulnerable.”
“I want to give the most vulnerable, the unborn, a voice at a place where every effort has been made to allow and normalize the tragic termination of their lives,” Butker said in a June 6 statement.
Butker is referring to the Biden administration’s aggressive pro-abortion stance, a position that has put Biden at odds with the U.S. bishops and members of his own faith.
“As a father who has experienced three miscarriages, my wife and I understand the hardships that come with losing a child. Every life is precious and should be valued whether outside or inside the womb,” he said.
The gray tie was created in conjunction with the pro-life advocacy group Live Action.
According to the organization, accompanying the tie on Butker’s suit is a gold pin of two tiny feet — the exact-size feet a 10-week-old baby would have.
BREAKING:— Live Action (@LiveAction) June 6, 2023
Chiefs Kicker @buttkicker7 stands for LIFE at the White House!
His Live Action-designed tie reads “PROTECT THE VULNERABLE” in Latin & is paired with a gold pin created with the reference photo and the exact size of a 10-week-old aborted baby’s feet. 🙏🏾
Biden gave a speech at the event praising the Super Bowl champions not only for their football skills but also for using their platforms for good.
“As much as these guys know about football, they know about life and how to use their platform to make a difference,” the president said in a speech celebrating the team’s victory.
In a statement to CNA on Tuesday, Live Action president Lila Rose said that “Live Action was proud to partner with NFL superstar and pro-life advocate Harrison Butker to create a necktie in honor of the preborn to wear while meeting President Biden at the White House.”
“President Biden is a professing Catholic who, as the most powerful man in the world, is responsible for leading the most pro-abortion administration in our history that has overseen a horrific death toll of 2,548 children every day lost to abortion,” she said.
“I call on President Biden to reject the extremism of the abortion lobby and to protect the vulnerable children of his nation,” Rose added.
Hundreds of thousands of unborn children are killed in the womb every year through abortion.
Butker kicked the Super Bowl-winning field goal for the Chiefs during his team’s stunning Feb. 12 Super Bowl victory against the Philadelphia Eagles.
In addition to his game-clinching kick, he captured media attention for his scapular, which made a timely appearance as it slipped out of his jersey while more than 100 million fans across the globe watched him line up for a 27-yard field goal attempt with 11 seconds left on the clock in a tie game.
“I think that was our Blessed Mother asking for the spotlight to be shown on her and reminding me that all the glory goes to God and to her,” Butker told CNA in March.
‘We have much to celebrate’: USCCB pro-life chair releases Dobbs anniversary statement
Posted on 06/6/2023 19:45 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
CNA Newsroom, Jun 6, 2023 / 12:45 pm (CNA).
Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, released a statement June 6 ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s June 24, 2022, decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade.
“We have much to celebrate,” Burbidge wrote. “By the grace of God, the nearly 50-year reign of national abortion on demand has been put to an end. Roe v. Wade — a seemingly insurmountable blight on our nation — is no more!”
Amid the time for celebration, however, “we are reminded that this is not the end, but the beginning of a critical new phase in our efforts to protect human life,” Burbidge said in the statement. “Despite this momentous legal victory, sobering and varied challenges lie ahead of us.”
Burbidge pointed out that in the last year, several states have passed legislation to protect unborn life while other states enacted “extreme abortion policies that leave children vulnerable to abortion, even until the moment of birth.”
“In this shifting political landscape, we persist confidently in our efforts to defend life,” he continued. “The work that lies ahead continues to be not just changing laws but also helping to change hearts, with steadfast faith in the power of God to do so.”
Burbidge called for “radical solidarity” with women facing unexpected or challenging pregnancies as well as compassion for those who suffer due to their participation in abortion. He also called for prayer.
“May all people of faith and good will work together to proclaim that human life is a precious gift from God; that each person who receives this gift has responsibilities toward God, self and others; and that society, through its laws and social institutions, must protect and nurture human life at every stage of its existence,” he concluded.
Pope Francis names two new auxiliary bishops for San Diego who immigrated to US as teens
Posted on 06/6/2023 17:34 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Rome Newsroom, Jun 6, 2023 / 10:34 am (CNA).
Pope Francis on Tuesday appointed two new auxiliary bishops for San Diego who both immigrated to the U.S. as teenagers.
The Vatican announced on June 6 that Father Michael Pham, 56, and Father Felipe Pulido, 53, will be consecrated as bishops for the Diocese of San Diego.
Pham is San Diego’s current vicar general and escaped Vietnam in a refugee boat with his siblings when he was 13 years old.
“Being appointed auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of San Diego by our Holy Father, Pope Francis, is incredible and unfathomable news for me. I am so deeply honored,” Pham told CNA.
While growing up in South Vietnam in the 1970s, Pham noticed a Catholic priest in town who was very involved with his parishioners and kind to everyone. At 10 years old Pham thought: “I want to be like that.”
After the Vietnam War ended with the fall of Saigon, Pham and two of his siblings fled the country in July 1980 in a harrowing boat journey in the South China Sea with no food and little water.
“We were jammed in like sardines.There was barely room to sit down,” Pham recounted to the Mission Times Courier.
Pham and his siblings spent three months in a refugee camp in Malaysia before finding asylum in the United States as unaccompanied minors.
The siblings were hosted by a family in Minnesota until Pham’s father, who had aided the Americans during his service in the South Vietnamese army, also gained asylum in the U.S. and moved the family to San Diego.
Pham finished high school in San Diego and went on to earn a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from San Diego State University. While working for a company that maintained databases for Boeing, he felt a call to the priesthood.
His father was strongly against him becoming a priest, but Pham’s call to his vocation became more intense and he applied to the seminary without his father’s approval.
“My parents soon realized that they couldn’t stop me from entering the seminary, and they finally accepted my request for their approval. I truly felt the hands of God working throughout the whole process for me to become a priest,” Pham said.
He enrolled in St. Francis Seminary and later studied at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, California, before he was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of San Diego in 1999 at the age of 32. Pham spent four years as the diocesan vocation director and has been the pastor of Good Shepherd Parish since 2016.
“It is truly a privilege and an honor to become a priest. And now, I am being called to serve the Church in a greater capacity as bishop. I don’t know what I have, but I hope and pray through the guidance of the Holy Spirit to give me wisdom, knowledge, and strength to take on this task that the pope has entrusted to me to serve God’s people,” Pham told CNA.
Pulido is the vicar for clergy and vocations director for the Diocese of Yakima, Washington. He was born in a small town in Mexico in the state of Michoacán and is the oldest of seven children.
At age 12 he entered a minor seminary in Mexico, where he studied through high school.
When he was 18, Pulido came to the U.S. with his parents and worked in the fields in Washington picking and packing fruit. He worked as a teacher assistant for three years at the Epic Migrant Head Start program before entering Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon in 1994 at the age of 24.
He spent time in Rome as a student at the Pontifical North American College and earned a degree in sacred theology with high honors at the Angelicum in Rome in 2000. Pulido also studied at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Rome from 2001 to 2002 and was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Yakima in 2002.
Pulido has served as the pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Kennewick, Washington, since 2020.
“Father Pulido is the first priest of the Yakima Diocese named to be a bishop since its founding in 1951. We are all very proud of him,” Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima said after the appointment was announced.
As auxiliary bishops, Pham and Pulido will join Auxiliary Bishop Ramon Bejarano in assisting Cardinal Robert McElroy in his duties as bishop of San Diego. The Diocese of San Diego serves more than 1.3 million Catholics.
Oklahoma board approves first Catholic charter school in the country
Posted on 06/5/2023 23:50 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., Jun 5, 2023 / 16:50 pm (CNA).
The state of Oklahoma approved the country’s first-ever religious charter school on Monday. The move will allow public funds to pay the tuition of children attending an online Catholic school run by the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and the Diocese of Tulsa.
The Statewide Virtual Charter School Board voted 3-2 to approve St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School in a three-hour-long meeting. The “yes” votes included a new member who was appointed by Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt on Friday.
In a statement, the governor applauded the decision.
“This is a win for religious liberty and education freedom in our great state, and I am encouraged by these efforts to give parents more options when it comes to their child’s education,” Stitt said.
“Oklahomans support religious liberty for all and support an increasingly innovative educational system that expands choice,” the governor added. “Today, with the nation watching, our state showed that we will not stand for religious discrimination.”
Because charter schools are public schools funded by taxpayers, the decision to fund a religiously affiliated charter school is already coming under legal scrutiny. Republican Attorney General Gentner Drummond rebuked the board’s vote and said the action was unconstitutional.
“The approval of any publicly funded religious school is contrary to Oklahoma law and not in the best interest of taxpayers,” Drummond said. “It’s extremely disappointing that board members violated their oath in order to fund religious schools with our tax dollars. In doing so, these members have exposed themselves and the state to potential legal action that could be costly.”
State Superintendent Ryan Walters disagreed with the attorney general, stating that the move expands school choice.
“This decision reflects months of hard work and, more importantly, the will of the people of Oklahoma,” Walters said. “I encouraged the board to approve this monumental decision, and now the U.S.’s first religious charter school will be welcomed by my administration. I have fought for school choice in all forms and this further empowers parents. We will make sure every Oklahoma parent has the opportunity to decide what is best for their child.”
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that states cannot discriminate against religiously affiliated schools in its school voucher programs. However, the constitutionality of charter schools run by religious institutions has not yet come up.
Report: Twitter fails to block some child pornography
Posted on 06/5/2023 23:00 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Denver, Colo., Jun 5, 2023 / 16:00 pm (CNA).
The social media website Twitter has apparently failed to block images of child sexual abuse, with researchers detecting several dozen known images of illegal pornographic material on the platform from March through May.
Though Twitter appeared to correct the problem, it imposed new fees for the use of an application to monitor the social media platform’s ability to block child pornography, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The Wall Street Journal’s report was based on research conducted by the Stanford Internet Observatory, which conducted a study of child protection issues across multiple social media platforms. It used a computer program to analyze a data set of about 100,000 Tweets from March 12 to May 20. The researchers found more than 40 images on Twitter flagged as CSAM (child sexual abuse material) in databases that companies use to screen content.
“This is one of the most basic things you can do to prevent CSAM online, and it did not seem to be working,” David Thiel, chief technologist at the Stanford Internet Observatory and report co-author, told the Wall Street Journal.
Thiel said it was “a surprise” to get any hits on “a small Twitter dataset.” Researchers used a digital signature analysis called PhotoDNA and their own software program to scan for the images and did not view the images themselves.
Twitter has previously said it uses PhotoDNA and other tools to detect CSAM, but it did not comment to the Wall Street Journal about whether it still uses PhotoDNA. The Stanford researchers said Twitter told them it has detected some false positives in CSAM databases that the platform’s operators manually filter out. Twitter said researchers might see false positives going forward.
The platform has touted its efforts to combat child sexual exploitation. It reported that it suspended about 404,000 accounts in the month of January for creating or engaging with material involving CSAM.
Research on Twitter involves access through an application programming interface (API). Twitter is now charging for this access, which could make analysis of Twitter unaffordable for researchers, the Wall Street Journal reported. The Stanford Internet Observatory has stopped using the enterprise-level API for Twitter because of the new costs.
The observatory, based at Stanford University, aims to study abuse of the internet in real time. Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter, in March accused the observatory of being a “propaganda machine” for its work on content moderation during the 2020 U.S. election.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), which advocates against sexual abuse and the public harms of pornography, placed Twitter on its 2023 “Dirty Dozen” list. The list aims to spotlight major mainstream entities that facilitate, enable, or profit from sexual abuse and exploitation. The NCOSE Law Center is representing two plaintiffs whose abuser groomed the then-teenage boys into sending sexually explicit videos of themselves. Compilations of the illegal material were then posted and shared on Twitter.
Citing the technology news blog site TechDirt, the NCOSE said: “Most experts agree that Musk’s actions since purchasing Twitter have so far served to make the crime of child sexual exploitation worse.”
Carmelite nuns file new theft and defamation charges against Fort Worth Bishop Olson
Posted on 06/5/2023 22:30 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 5, 2023 / 15:30 pm (CNA).
Carmelite nuns of the Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity in Arlington, Texas, filed new theft and defamation charges Friday against Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth.
The nuns’ new charges were filed in a district court for Tarrant County, Texas, the day after Olson dismissed the monastery’s prioress, Reverend Mother Teresa Agnes Gerlach, from religious life on the grounds that she had a sexual affair with an unnamed priest.
In a Thursday decree, Olson announced he had found Gerlach, prioress of the Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity in Arlington, “guilty of having violated the sixth commandment of the Decalogue and her vow of chastity with a priest from outside the Diocese of Fort Worth.”
The new charges levied by the monastery are in addition to a lawsuit filed on May 3 that seeks $1 million in civil damages and asks the court to block the bishop’s and the diocese’s access to any records obtained by confiscating the reverend mother’s property.
“Bishop Olson forced the Reverend Mother to turn over her computer, iPad, and cellular phone to him personally,” the charge states.
Though the physical property has since been returned, the nuns allege that the diocese made digital copies of the information containing “private correspondence, private documents, extensive medical records,” and financial information, “including but not limited to donor lists.”
“This is the private property of the Plaintiffs, none of which is relevant or related to the canonical investigation, which according to the Defendants has now been concluded,” the suit says.
Additionally, the nuns claim that Olson and the diocese defamed Gerlach by voluntarily publishing “patently false and defamatory” statements about the prioress on the diocesan website.
In turn, the diocese is arguing that the dispute is an ecclesiastical matter and should not be heard in a civil court.
The civil hearing on the case is set for June 23.
Although Olson has concluded his ecclesiastical investigation and the diocese alleges that Gerlach admitted to the misconduct, the monastery’s attorney Matthew Bobo emphatically denies that claim.
According to Bobo, Gerlach, 43, was under the influence of pain medication related to a surgery when she is alleged to have admitted to the affair and “has not admitted to any grave misconduct that would warrant his extreme and emotionally damaging measures.”
Per Olson’s decree, Gerlach has 30 days to appeal her dismissal to the Vatican’s Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of the Apostolic Life.
Bobo has said that Gerlach intends to appeal the decision.