Browsing News Entries

Pope Francis prays for consolation for injured and bereaved in Texas shooting

Pope Francis at the General Audience in St. Peter's Square, March 14, 2018. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Denver Newsroom, May 25, 2022 / 11:24 am (CNA).

A telegram sent to the Archbishop of San Antonio on Wednesday conveyed Pope Francis' deep sadness over the deaths of 21 people at a school shooting in Texas the previous day.

“Assuring those affected by this attack of his spiritual closeness, His Holiness joins the entire community in commending the souls of those children and teachers who died to almighty God's loving mercy and he implores the divine gifts of healing and consolation upon the injured and bereaved,” reads the May 25 telegram sent on the pope's behalf.

“With firm faith in the risen Christ, through whome every evil will be overcome by good, he prays that those tempted to violence will choose instead the path of fraternal solidarity and love,” it continued.

A gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, about 90 miles west of San Antonio, May 24, killing 19 children and two adults.

A Border Patrol officer killed the shooter, a local 18-year-old identified as Salvador Ramos. Two police officers were injured by rounds from Ramos.

Earlier on Wednesday, Pope Francis had addressed the tragedy after his General Audience address.

“My heart is broken for the massacre at the elementary school in Texas. I am praying for the children and the adults killed and their families,” he said in St. Peter's Square.

“It is time to say enough to the indiscriminate trafficking of weapons. Let us all work hard so that such tragedies can never happen again.”

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said May 24 that the country was facing an “epidemic of evil and violence.”

“There have been too many school shootings, too much killing of the innocent,” the USCCB’s public affairs director Chieko Noguchi said in a statement.

“Our Catholic faith calls us to pray for those who have died and to bind the wounds of others, and we join our prayers along with the community in Uvalde and Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller.”

“As we do so, each of us also needs to search our souls for ways that we can do more to understand this epidemic of evil and violence and implore our elected officials to help us take action.”

Hours before the general audience, Archbishop Garcia-Siller appealed to Pope Francis to pray for the victims of the shooting in his San Antonio archdiocese.

He tweeted: “Holy Father Pope Francis, say some prayers for the souls of our little ones killed today and two teachers. Uvalde is in mourning. The families are having a very dark time. Your prayer will do good to them.”

He added in Spanish: “Gracias por ayudarnos. Queremos ser como Jesús. Cuente con nuestra oración” (“Thank you for helping us. We want to be like Jesus. Count on our prayers”).

America loses its only Trappist brewery, amid competitive beer market 

null / Courtesy of Spencer Brewery

Denver Newsroom, May 24, 2022 / 17:27 pm (CNA).

The first and only certified Trappist brewery in the U.S. has said that it will close, citing a lack of financial viability. The monks of St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts say they will find other ways to support their life of contemplative prayer.

“After more than a year of consultation and reflection, the monks of St. Joseph’s Abbey have come to the sad conclusion that brewing is not a viable industry for us and that it is time to close the Spencer Brewery,” Spencer Brewery said on its Facebook page May 14.

“We want to thank all our customers for their support and encouragement over the years,” the brewery added. “Our beer will be available in our regular retail outlets while supplies last. Please keep us in your prayers.”

The brewery was launched in 2014 to help provide a new source of revenue for the monks. It is just one of St. Joseph’s Abbey's endeavors. 

The Trappist monks are formally known as the monks of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance, an order more than 900 years old. They follow St. Benedict’s counsel that stresses the importance of both prayer and work.

“All our activities that we do are to support our lives of prayer. Beer was a particularly interesting and engaging activity, but we’re not here for the beer,” Spencer Brewery’s director, Father William Dingwall, told The Boston Globe.

The brewery launched in 2014. Its peak production was 4,500 barrels of beer, about 60,000 beer cases, its website reports. The brewery had hoped to expand to produce 10,000 barrels of beer annually.

Its beers were distributed domestically in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia. Foreign distribution reached eight countries. 

Dingwall said that it’s understandable the brewery’s closure announcement has surprised those outside the community, but “it’s something we’ve been mulling over for the past couple of years.” 

While the brewery generated “a great deal of interest,” Dingwall said, he thought the beer market “started to change radically” and the abbey’s brewery faced more competition from craft breweries.

The monks were not willing to open a tap room, a profitable effort for many brewers. Dingwall said the brewery was located in the middle of their abbey property just a few hundred yards from the monastery and the church.

“The brothers were not in favor of adding that kind of business at the entrance to the monastery,” Dingwall told the Boston Globe.

Brewery production has ceased and Spencer Brewery will sell its equipment and any raw materials at auction. Its beers could remain on store shelves for a few months.

The Spencer Brewery website explains the monks’ approach to prayer and to work: “As Trappists, we seek to live somewhat separate from the world so that we may engage fully with our monastic community life of work and prayer. This prayer encompasses liturgies open to the public, as well as our individual prayer time, spiritual reading, study and meditation.”

St. Joseph’s Abbey hosts guests at its small retreat house and has a gift shop. It produces other products to support its 44 community members. These products include fruit and wine jellies, jams, and preserves. Its Holy Rood Guild makes and sells liturgical vestments.

The community has six brothers in initial formation, according to the abbey website.

The Cistercian order was founded in France in 1098. The Trappist community at St. Joseph’s Abbey has roots in a group of monks that arrived in North America in 1803, in the wake of the French Revolution. Its monks founded a monastery in Nova Scotia. After suffering two major fires in the late 1800s, the community moved to Rhode Island.  Another major fire in 1950 made 140 Trappist monks homeless, at which point they moved to Spencer.

The International Trappist Association has about 20 abbey members and seeks to help members produce goods and ensure high-quality products. Its website lists 13 abbeys that sell their own beer. However, the list includes both Spencer Brewery and Achel, which ceased to be a Trappist beer in 2021. 

The Trappist association website also lists three abbeys that produce their own liqueurs and two that produce their own wine. Other Trappist products include bread, cheeses, olive oil, chocolate, cookies, honey, liturgical vestments, skin care products, and household cleaning products. 

“Any economic enterprise undertaken by member communities is marked by prayer, an attitude of responsibility, and silence,” International Trappist Association said. “The Trappists, both monks and nuns, participate in management as well as production.” 

In Belgium, the beers produced at Achel Brewery no longer bear the Trappist label after the monks of Achel Abbey left in early 2021. Its last monks left for Westmalle Abbey, which also runs a brewery. At the same time, the Achel beers are still brewed under Trappist supervision and the monks have invested in a larger brewhouse.

The International Trappist Association says it will certify beer with its brand if it is brewed within the abbey grounds by the monks or under their supervision, “with business practices proper to the monastic way of life.” The brewery must not take priority over the monastery's primary work and way of life, and should be non-profit. Any funds gained through the beer will be used for the monk's living expenses, charitable causes, or for upkeep of the monastery itself.

Cistercian monks at Mount Saint Bernard Abbey in Leicestershire became the first Trappist brewery in U.K. history when they first started beer sales in 2018. 

Trappists aren’t the only monks to try their hand at brewing.

A community of mostly U.S.-born Benedictine monks at the Monastery of Saint Benedict at Norcia, Italy began brewing in 2012. They launched their own Belgian-style beers under the name Birra Nursia and expanded sales to the U.S. in 2016. In 2017 a major earthquake killed hundreds of people and was soon followed by a major tremor that destroyed the Benedictines’ historic home, the Basilica of St. Benedict. However, their brewery was left mostly intact. They have continued to sell beer to fund the building of their new monastery.

Tiananmen memorial Masses won’t be held in Hong Kong this year amid security law concerns

Protesters in Hong Kong march against the extradition bill in July 2019. / Jimmy Siu/Shutterstock

Denver Newsroom, May 24, 2022 / 16:58 pm (CNA).

A Catholic group in Hong Kong will not be holding Masses this year to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre, citing concerns that doing so could run afoul of the Beijing-imposed national security laws under which several Catholic leaders have been arrested. 

The Hong Kong Catholic Social Communications Office told the Hong Kong Free Press May 24 that some staff and members of the Justice and Peace Commission of The Hong Kong Catholic Diocese had expressed concern about this year’s remembrance services, and thus the decision was made not to hold a remembrance Mass on June 4. 

“Because frontline staff and some of the members of the Justice and Peace Commission of The Hong Kong Catholic Diocese are concerned about whether holding this even [sic] will be in breach of the implemented national security law, therefore [we] won’t hold a June 4th commemoration mass,” the office said.

“According to the Catholic faith, there can be different ways to commemorate those who died. Holding masses are of course one of the means, but praying for those who died in private or in small groups is very meaningful as well.”

Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China. Hong Kongers have, historically, largely enjoyed freedom of worship and evangelization, while in mainland China, there is a history of persecution for Christians who run afoul of the government. In mainland China, people have not been allowed to hold official commemorations of the “June 4th incident” in Tiananmen, but Hong Kong has long held annual vigils to commemorate its victims.

During the 1989 clash between protestors and Chinese troops, tanks rolled into Beijing’s main city square and military forces opened fire on university students and other citizens calling for democratic reforms. The exact number of people who died in the massacre is not certain, but could be hundreds or even thousands. A diplomatic cable from the British ambassador to China at the time said that at least 10,000 people were killed, while the regime claimed that 241 people died and 7,000 were wounded.

In 2020, Hong Kong police curtailed a vigil for the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, citing public health concerns related to COVID-19 — which would have marked the first time in 30 years that a vigil for Tiananmen had not taken place in Hong Kong. 

Still, thousands of people reportedly climbed over police barriers into a park, lighting candles and observing a moment of silence for the Tiananmen victims. Elsewhere in Hong Kong, some protesters blocked streets and clashed with police, while others gathered in other parts of the city, chanting in favor of democracy. 

Last year, at least seven churches in Hong Kong offered candlelight vigil Masses on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. The Diocese of Hong Kong’s Justice and Peace Commission announced that the churches will each offer a Mass for the Dead on the night of June 4.

However, 2021 marked the second year in a row that authorities forbade a public commemoration of Tiananmen in Hong Kong, ostensibly because of COVID-19 restrictions. Hong Kong police declined to tell the Free Press whether they would allow public commemorations this year. 

The typical organizer of the city’s annual Tiananmen vigils, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, disbanded last September following a members’ vote, the Free Press reported. The Chinese government has not specifically said whether commemorating Tiananmen would be a violation of the security laws. 

Millions of citizens of Hong Kong, including many Catholics, have in recent years participated in large-scale pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, which came to a head during summer 2019. 

Beijing has in recent years tightened control over the island territory and cracked down on dissent. With the July 2020 passage of “national security laws,” the Chinese government seized more power to suppress pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, which it sees as a direct challenge to its power.

Several prominent Catholic figures have been arrested for apparent violations of the new security laws, which criminalize new categories of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces. Anyone convicted under the law will receive a minimum of 10 years in prison, with the possibility of a life sentence.

Those arrested include media mogul Jimmy Lai, a Catholic and billionaire who was detained last August and was sentenced in December 2021 to 13 months in prison on a charge of unlawful assembly, stemming from his participation in the annual Tiananmen Square vigil.

Cardinal Joseph Zen, the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, was charged in court on May 24 with four other prominent democracy advocates who were trustees of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, which helped pro-democracy protesters to pay their legal fees. The nonagenarian Zen was arrested by the authorities in Hong Kong on May 11 and was released on bail later on the same day. His trial is set to begin Sept. 19.

Father Vincent Woo, a priest of the Diocese of Hong Kong and a canon lawyer, recently said that he has observed that many Christian leaders are reluctant to speak out against the CCP’s actions, for fear of being detained, or worse, by civil authorities.

19 children and 2 adults killed in Texas shooting at elementary school

State troopers stand outside of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022. - An 18-year-old gunman killed 14 children and a teacher at an elementary school in Texas on Tuesday, according to the state's governor, in the nation's deadliest school shooting in years. / Allison Dinner/AFP via Getty Images

Denver Newsroom, May 24, 2022 / 15:29 pm (CNA).

A gunman killed at least 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, about 90 miles west of San Antonio, on Tuesday.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said May 24 the shooter, a local 18-year-old, has died, believed to have been killed by responding law enforcement. He identified the attacker as Salvador Ramos, saying he was armed with a handgun, and possibly a rifle.

The governor added, “It is believed that two responding offers were struck by rounds, but have no serious injuries.”

Some students and staff are being treated in nearby hospitals.

The incident is believed to be the worst school shooting since the 2012 attack at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in which in the attacker killed 26.

Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio tweeted, "God have mercy on our children, their families, their communities. Darkness is dense with one more shooting in our country. Let us help one another to spark light and warmth. May we keep each other in company. Prayers are needed."

And Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth has tweeted, "Let us pray for the families of these children killed or traumatized by this evil action and let us take serious steps forward in protecting vulnerable life and promoting justices for the safety of our children."

This story was updated at 11:25 p.m. MDT.

Pope Francis prays for victims of Gaylord tornado

Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square March 14, 2018. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Denver Newsroom, May 24, 2022 / 14:20 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis expressed his closeness on Tuesday to the victims of a tornado that struck Gaylord last week, killing two people.

“Saddened to learn of the tragic loss of life and destruction caused by the tornado which struck the Gaylord community in recent days, His Holiness Pope Francis expresses heartfelt solidarity with all affected by this natural disaster,” a telegram sent May 24 on behalf of the pope stated.

“He also offers the assurance of prayers for the dead, the injured and displaced and those engaged in relief efforts,” the cable continued.

A tornado with winds of 150 mph struck the Michigan town May 20. More than 44 people were hospitalized as a result of the disaster.

Bishop Jeffrey Walsh of Gaylord said May 20, “Our prayerful solidarity is extended to all who have been affected by the afternoon storm. We are grateful to God that our diocesan and Cathedral staff came through the storm safely. Staff was sheltering in the basement as a tornado hit a few hundred yards away.”

He noted the chancery, cathedral, and St. Mary Cathedral school were spared damage.

“There will be much work to rebuild our community in the days, weeks and months ahead. Your prayers are appreciated,” Walsh added.

Parishes of the Diocese of Gaylord will take up a special collection May 28-29 to aid those affected by the tornado.

“As we work to restore and rebuild, the community response has been truly inspirational. Countless volunteers, utility workers, first responders and people from both Gaylord and outside the area have accomplished much already, and it is our hope to do our part as a Catholic community in providing spiritual and material assistance in the ongoing recovery efforts,” Walsh said May 23.

Baby formula shortage: Pro-life pregnancy centers offer aid to moms

Leon is a baby boy cared for and loved at Mary's Shelter, a pro-life maternity home in Fredericksburg, Virginia. / Courtesy of Mary's Shelter

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 24, 2022 / 13:15 pm (CNA).

Amid a shortage of baby formula in the U.S., experts recommend parents scour smaller drug stores, check online, and join social media groups sharing information.

But here’s another, perhaps lesser-known, option they can also turn to for help: pregnancy resource centers.

Nearly 3,000 pro-life pregnancy centers serve millions of people each year in the United States. They offer women and parents in need everything from health care and material assistance to educational classes and job support — at little to no cost. Right now, for many of these centers, their work also includes connecting struggling families to baby formula. 

One center in Michigan, an affiliate of Heartbeat International, a pro-life pregnancy resource center network, revealed to CNA that it has a surplus of formula. 

“At this time, we haven’t heard of formula shortages at the pregnancy centers,” Andrea Trudden, vice president of communications and marketing at Heartbeat International, told CNA. “Quite the contrary, actually!”

Trudden recommended families turn to their local pregnancy help organizations for assistance and use OptionLine.org as a tool to find the center closest to them. 

“Since pregnancy centers are equipped to help pregnant women and new families with practical resources such as diapers and formula,” Trudden said, “they have been able to step into that gap during this time.” 

Some pro-life maternity homes in states such as Virginia and North Carolina said mothers are in desperate need and exploring all of their options, including feeding their babies with formula samples. But, these homes tell CNA, they are walking with mothers in their search, every step of the way.

What is this shortage about?

The nationwide baby formula shortage was caused, and then exacerbated, by a series of factors: supply-chain issues, recalls, the closure of a major production plant in February, and even U.S. trade policy. The result, data-firm company Datasembly found, is that more than 40 percent of baby formulas were out of stock in early May.

Babies with special needs and allergies rely on formula, along with babies in general. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 63.3% of infants were exclusively breastfeeding seven days after birth in 2018. Three months after birth, only 46.3% of infants exclusively breastfed. Six months after birth, that percentage changed to 25.8%

The trouble with formula began partially with the Covid-19 pandemic. Parents stockpiled baby formula at the beginning, which increased production, only to later discover that they had a surplus to use up, which decreased production. 

After consuming formula from an Abbott plant in Sturgis, Michigan, four babies became sick, including two who died, from bacterial infections. This led to a recall and the plant shutting down in February.

These incidents exposed the formula market as one not structurally prepared for emergencies, with just four companies largely in control of supply in the United States. U.S. and regulatory trade policy only added to the problem, restricting the exchange of formula internationally, The Atlantic reported. 

Months into the shortage, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reached an agreement with Abbott, one of the largest U.S. baby formula manufacturers, to reopen its Sturgis plant in the coming weeks. President Joe Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to prioritize the production of formula. And, in the meantime, the U.S. military has begun importing formula from Europe.

Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have called for action. Senate Democrats are pushing a bill that would send $28 million in emergency funding to the FDA. Congress passed, and Biden signed into law, a bill to expand access to formula for lower-income families during emergencies.

In the meantime, before the shelves are fully stocked once more, pregnancy centers and maternity homes around the country are helping parents in need.

Michigan

Helping Hands Pregnancy Resource Center, located in Hillsdale, Michigan, told CNA it has extra baby formula ready and waiting for parents in need.

“I have never seen this much formula. We have an overflow!” Lois Stoll, a volunteer who manages the formula supply at the center, said in a press release. The center, one of Heartbeat International’s 1,857 affiliate locations, accumulated its surplus over the last two years, during the pandemic. 

“It really is the result of an unexpected set of circumstances,” Bryce Asberg, the executive director, added in the release. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of clients fell but donations continued to come in.”

Baby formula is stored on shelves at Helping Hands Pregnancy Resource Center in Hillsdale, Michigan. Courtesy of Helping Hands
Baby formula is stored on shelves at Helping Hands Pregnancy Resource Center in Hillsdale, Michigan. Courtesy of Helping Hands

Asberg told CNA that the center has been running a material assistance program for several years where it provides mothers and families with baby clothes, diapers, wipes, and baby food or formula.

“We still offer all those items to clients who come in, but recently we have noticed a surge of interest in formula,” he said. “God has been building our supply of formula for many months, and we didn’t know why we had so much. Now we do!”

Washington, D.C.

In Washington, D.C., Janet Durig, the executive director of Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center, said that her center also has baby formula on hand.

“We’ve had some phone calls seeking help and we’ve had formula to give them,” she told CNA. But, she emphasized, the supply is limited because they rely on donations. 

“We have it to help people on a limited basis and are helping people on a limited basis,” she said, adding that the center welcomes donations of unopened bottles or cans of formula as long as they have not expired. 

Connecticut 

Leticia Velasquez, executive director and co-founder of Pathways Pregnancy in Norwich, Connecticut, encouraged moms and families to reach out if they need formula. 

She told CNA that the three-year-old center is there for any woman or mom in need. 

“We just say, ‘How can we fill the need? That’s what we’re here for,’” she said. “We definitely stand with them in any crisis, whether it be a formula shortage or an unplanned pregnancy.”

Parents in eastern Connecticut looking for baby formula can text the center at (860) 222-4505.

North Carolina 

Debbie Capen, the executive director of MiraVia, said that the baby formula shortage is affecting her group’s work in supporting and providing resources to new moms in need. The Catholic nonprofit runs an outreach center in Charlotte and a free college residence at nearby Belmont Abbey College where a pregnant student — from any university or college — can stay until her child turns two years old.

“Yes, the mothers we serve are very concerned about the baby formula shortage,” Capen told CNA. “We always encourage breastfeeding for our expectant mothers, but for those who cannot breastfeed, they usually rely on vouchers for baby formula through the USDA’s WIC program.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s WIC program, also known as the “Special Supplementation Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children,” offers federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant and postpartum women, and young children at nutritional risk.

Capen highlighted that WIC only covers one specific brand of formula, which means that moms must pay full price for any other label. Formula is at a premium price right now, she added, which only puts more stress on their limited resources.

In each state, baby formula manufacturers bid for exclusive rights to provide formula to WIC participants in that state. In return, they offer the state discounts, or rebates. For those who rely on WIC, this means that they face limited options.

In response to the scarcity, the mothers at MiraVia are turning to alternatives: food pantries and the MiraVia community.

“They communicate with our staff and each other when they find formula at a certain location, as well as contact stores to find out when shipments are expected,” Capen said. “They substitute with generic brands when possible and reach out to their pediatricians for recommendations and even free samples.”

Capen listed some ways that people can help during this shortage, beginning with communication and the sharing of resources.   

“For example, you can help by searching posts on social media and community apps like NextDoor or OfferUp to find those with formula and suggest where it can be donated,” she said. “Remind friends and family not to stockpile so that the supply of formula can flow to those in most urgent need. If you are pregnant and have received free samples of formula, donate what you won’t use to food pantries or programs for new mothers.”

Virginia

Kathleen Wilson, the executive director of Mary's Shelter, a faith-centered maternity home in Fredericksburg, Virginia, agreed that “our moms have had many difficulties.” 

She told CNA about one of their mothers who gave birth to her fourth baby three months ago. At first, she used a formula brand called Enfamil Reguline. After it became unavailable, she began switching between brands and using whatever she can find, Wilson said. The mother has also tried ordering on Amazon and turned to her pediatrician for samples. 

Yaretzi is a baby girl cared for and loved at Mary's Shelter, a pro-life maternity home in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Courtesy of Mary's Shelter
Yaretzi is a baby girl cared for and loved at Mary's Shelter, a pro-life maternity home in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Courtesy of Mary's Shelter

“This is a mom who is trying to hold down a job, with an infant and other children to tend to,” Wilson stressed the “very difficult” situation.

Wilson said that two of the other mothers spent days driving around at one point to try to find formula for their babies. When necessary, they are also turning to sample packets of baby formula.

"Our staff and volunteers have been assisting with this and picking up and delivering formula when they can get their hands on it,” Wilson said, adding that donors have also pitched in.

“We are blessed with wonderful donors,” she said. “A friend just stopped in this morning with two cans of formula that he was able to find.”

“If donors are willing and can find formula, we would be thrilled to take their donation,” she said, concluding that she is “praying this comes to an end soon.”

Nancy Pelosi doubles down on abortion support in response to Communion ban 

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” on May 24, 2022. / Screenshot via MSNBC’s YouTube channel

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 24, 2022 / 12:13 pm (CNA).

Responding publicly for the first time to her archbishop barring her from Holy Communion in her home diocese, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi remained defiant Tuesday in her support of abortion.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone announced May 20 that the California Democrat may no longer receive Holy Communion in the Archdiocese of San Francisco after publicly supporting abortion as a Catholic politician. His decision, Cordilenoe said, is a pastoral one and not political.

Over the years, Pelosi has defended abortion while citing her Catholic faith. The Catholic Church considers abortion — the destruction of a human person — a grave evil.

On Tuesday, Pelosi gave no indication that her position on abortion, and how she speaks about it as a Catholic, will change.

“I wonder about the death penalty, which I am opposed to. So is the Church. But they take no action against people who may not share their view,” she said during MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show.

Pelosi did not say whether she intends to continue to present herself for Communion. Cordileone’s order is only applicable within the San Francisco Archdiocese, and although Cardinal Wilton Gregory of the Archdiocese of Washington has not commented publicly about Cordileone’s action, he has not instructed priests to refuse Communion to anyone

Pelosi reportedly took Holy Communion at the 9 a.m. Sunday Mass on May 22 at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown, according to Politico Playbook, but the report did not identify the source of that information. A spokeswoman for the parish on Tuesday referred media questions about the report to the Archdiocese of Washington, which did not respond to CNA’s request for comment.  

In response to Cordileone’s actions, Bishop Robert Vasa of the Diocese of Santa Rosa, California — where Pelosi’s Napa vacation home is located — has said that he, too, will bar Pelosi from Holy Communion

During her appearance on “Morning Joe,” Pelosi directly mentioned Cordileone once, to criticize him for being “vehemently against LGBTQ rights.” 

Host Joe Scarborough praised the speaker for living out the Gospel of Matthew by serving the “truly disadvantaged.” 

Jesus does not mention abortion in the Gospels, Scarborough said. Instead, in Matthew 25, Jesus told his disciples “we would be welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven if we gave water to the thirsty, fed the hungry, clothed the poor, and brought hope to the hopeless,” he said. 

Pelosi claimed, without further explanation, that pro-life people largely reject this Gospel message. 

“Thank you for referencing the Gospel of Matthew, which is sort of the agenda of the Church that is rejected by many who side with them on terminating a pregnancy,” she said. You can watch the interview in the video below.

Pelosi also appeared to refer to the leaked Supreme Court draft in the abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which signals that justices are preparing to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that legalized abortion nationwide.

“This decision taking us to privacy and precedent is very dangerous in the lives of so many of the American people,” she said. “And, again, not consistent with the Gospel of Matthew.”

At another point, the speaker referenced her Catholic background.

“I come from a largely pro-life Italian-American Catholic family, so I respect people’s views about that,” she said, referring to abortion. “But I don’t respect us foisting it onto others.”

Pelosi also claimed that, as a Catholic, she has tried in vain to speak with Republicans in the past about supporting “what the Catholic Church was asking us to do for global family planning, natural family planning, which our law allows to happen.”

“I think it’s very insulting to women to have their ability to make their own decision hampered by politics,” Pelosi commented. “This should never have been politicized.”

Pelosi called abortion a “cover for a lot of other things that the far right wants to accomplish” and concluded that, now, a “woman’s decision” regarding abortion is a “kitchen table issue.”

Roberta Drury, a Catholic victim of Buffalo shooting, 'reflected God's love'

Roberta Drury, 32, who was killed in a shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, May 14, 2022. / Drury family

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 24, 2022 / 11:39 am (CNA).

Roberta Drury, one of the victims of the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, was remembered at her funeral Mass on Saturday for her many admirable qualities, including her “smile that could light up a room.”

A White gunman killed 10 Black people on May 14 at a supermarket. Another three persons were injured in the shooting.

According to her obituary, “Robbie” Drury, 32, had been living in Buffalo for 10 years, caring for her brother, who is recovering from leukemia.

During his homily at Drury’s May 21 funeral Mass at Assumption Catholic Church in Syracuse, New York, Father Nicholas Spano, O.F.M. Conv., said Christ’s disciples have the mission of reflecting the light of God, adding that Drury “embraced this mission” and “lived it every day.”

Spano said that Drury “reflected God's love every time she cared for her brother, every time she greeted someone in her neighborhood around her street, every time she talked with friends and family she was that light that shown through whatever darkness might have been present.”

“Roberta had a perseverance and a tenacity that was both inspirational and enviable,” Spano said at the Mass. “Because of what she experienced, she was able to be the instrument of God's peace as she became that light in the darkness.”

Spano said that “There are no words to fully express the depth and breadth of this tragedy.” He added that on the day of the shooting “our corner of the world was changed forever. Lives ended. Dreams shattered. And our state was plunged into mourning.”

Spano said that Drury has “left us a lasting gift,” which is “her example of being light in the darkness.” 

“So, as we go forth from this place we're challenged by our faith and by Roberta's example to be a light in this world,” he said.

The casket of Roberta Drury, the youngest of those killed during the mass shooting at the Buffalo Tops supermarket on May 14th, is brought out following the funeral at Assumption Church on May 21, 2022 in Syracuse, New York. Drury, who was 32, had walked to the Tops market to pick up groceries for her mother when she was gunned down along with nine others in what is being described as an act of white supremacy. 18-year-old Payton Gendron is accused of the mass shooting that killed 10 people at the Tops grocery store on the east side of Buffalo on May 14th and is being investigated as a hate crime. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
The casket of Roberta Drury, the youngest of those killed during the mass shooting at the Buffalo Tops supermarket on May 14th, is brought out following the funeral at Assumption Church on May 21, 2022 in Syracuse, New York. Drury, who was 32, had walked to the Tops market to pick up groceries for her mother when she was gunned down along with nine others in what is being described as an act of white supremacy. 18-year-old Payton Gendron is accused of the mass shooting that killed 10 people at the Tops grocery store on the east side of Buffalo on May 14th and is being investigated as a hate crime. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Spano noted that some have questioned “in their grief, where was God?”

“My brothers and sisters, as Christians, we believe that God was there. God was present, as he always is with them in their moments of suffering,” he answered. “He himself, suffering, alongside those killed by hate, violence, and evil.”

“Roberta and her companions did not die alone nor in the absence of love,” he said. “But rather in that tragic moment, were ushered into the hands of a loving God. In an instant they moved from this imperfect world, to a place of peace and light.”

“We can say this,” he added, “because we believe in a God who not only took on our humanity at the moment of his incarnation, but ultimately embraced the darkest dimensions of humanity on Good Friday.”

Spano said that “to us our loved ones appear dead, but they are now alive with God.”

Reflecting on the Mass’s scripture reading from the eleventh chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, Spano said that “Jesus leaves us with those words of assurance and hope that in him and in him alone, we find our rest.”

He continued: “Rest from our struggles, rest from our pain, rest from our suffering. In that moment when we cross over into the eternal light of Jesus, we enter into a place where love [is] experienced to an unparalleled proportion, hate is forever banished and suffering is no more.”

Spano questioned “As a family, as a church, as New Yorkers, how do we as people of faith respond to the reality of darkness in our world?”

He answered by citing the late civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who “once wrote: ‘darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.’” 

Spano also said that Christ’s call to forgiving others is “echoed in the words of Martin Luther King Jr.: ‘forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a permanent attitude.’”

Spano said that for Catholics “memory is a crucial aspect of our faith. For us to remember is not only to keep alive but to make present. We enter into this mystery … every time we celebrate the Eucharist.”

“It's in the Eucharist that we see the power of memory,” he said. “When we celebrate the Lord's meal, and we do it in memory of him, we make present the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus in our midst, the entire Paschal Mystery at once,” he said.

“Each time we think of Roberta remembering her kindness, remembering her love for family and friends, her perseverance, her tenacity, and most of all that smile that could light up a room,” he said, “we make present once again that reality.”

Archbishop Cordileone responds to criticism that he's 'politicizing the Eucharist'

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone / EWTN News Nightly Screenshot

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 23, 2022 / 19:47 pm (CNA).

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone on Monday responded to criticism that he is “politicizing” the Eucharist by denying Nancy Pelosi Holy Communion, saying he would prefer the Democratic House Speaker remain in office “and become an advocate for life in the womb."

"What does it mean to politicize the Holy Eucharist if one is following Church teaching and applying Church teaching?” Cordileone said in an interview with EWTN News’ Erik Rosales that aired May 23 on “EWTN News Nightly.”

“One would have to demonstrate that one is doing that for a political purpose,” the archbishop said.

“I've been very clear all along, my purpose is pastoral, not political,” he added. “I am not campaigning for anyone for office. As a matter of fact, my preference would be for Speaker Pelosi to remain in office and become an advocate for life in the womb."

On Friday, Cordileone announced that he had notified Pelosi, who describes herself as a devout Catholic, that until she publicly repudiates her support for abortion, she should not be admitted to Holy Communion in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, her home diocese, nor should she present herself for Communion. 

Cordileone told Rosales that he has not received any response from Pelosi so far. Nor has the 82-year-old speaker issued any public statements about the Communion ban as of yet. You can watch Cordileone’s interview in the video below.

As of May 23, at least a dozen U.S. bishops have publicly supported Cordileone’s action, which only applies within the San Francisco Archdiocese. Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila called Cordileone “a shepherd with the heart and mind of Christ, who truly desires to lead others towards Christ’s love, mercy, and promise of eternal salvation.”  

Cardinal Wilton Gregory of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., where Pelosi spends much of her time, has not commented publicly on Cordileone's action, but has indicated in the past that he does not intend to deny Communion to Catholic politicians who actively promote abortion and other policies at odds with Church teaching.

Cordileone told Rosales that politicizing the Eucharist can even occur “in reverse.” One could “receive Communion as a means to furthering a political agenda, when one is motivated for that reason,” he said. “So it cuts both ways.”

Cordileone noted that many Catholics don’t understand Church teaching on the Eucharist, “what it is, who it is, and what the proper disposition is to receive it, what it means to receive the most Holy Eucharist.”

He added that he wanted to help Catholics understand “the grave evil of abortion and what it means to cooperate with evil on the different levels.”

“I wanted to be clear in laying out that teaching,” he said.

‘Aggressive’ abortion stance

Rosales said that Cordileone told him his decision is not related to the recent leak of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion that shows the court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark case that legalized abortion nationwide. 

However, Rosales said that Cordileone was “motivated by Speaker Pelosi's reaction to the Texas Heartbeat Law,” which bans most abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, at about six weeks gestation.

“That's when Speaker Pelosi became very outspoken and aggressive — I'll use that word — in vowing to codify the Roe vs Wade decision into federal law,” Cordileone told Rosales, referring to her ardent support for the Women’s Health Protection Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives but failed to garner enough votes in the Senate

“So it would guarantee open, unqualified access to abortion for all 9 months, all through out the country,” Cordileone said. “This was very alarming, very disturbing.”

It was at this time that Cordileone began the “Rose and Rosary for Nancy” campaign, asking Catholics to pray and fast to soften her heart for the unborn.

Cordileone said that Pelosi frequently speaks fondly of her five grown children.

“I think she has a maternal heart, there is a real sensitivity there,” he said.

“So I asked people to pray and fast for her and I've been trying to meet with her. Ever since then I've made several attempts to speak with her. I've either been denied or just received no response.”

Cordileone added that Pelosi “knew in advance that I would make this announcement if she did not repudiate her position on abortion or at least not refer to her Catholic faith and not go to Communion.”

Rosales brought up Pelosi’s recent October meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican and asked whether the pope should take a greater stance on the issue.

“I think Pope Francis has taken a very strong stance on this,” Cordileone said. “He's been very outspoken about the evil of abortion. He sees how everything is interconnected.”

 Citing Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’, Cordileone said the pope “talks about the interconnectedness of it all. He brings up this issue that care for the environment, care for our common home also includes care for the poor and the vulnerable, including life in the womb, and he compares it to hiring a hitman to solve the problem.”

Judge blocks auction of Dorothy's Wizard of Oz dress, over Catholic University's objections

The Dorothy dress at the center of the dispute. / Bonhams

Denver Newsroom, May 23, 2022 / 18:50 pm (CNA).

The Catholic University of America cannot auction a dress from the Wizard of Oz until a court resolves a legal challenge about its ownership, a federal judge has said.

The university had scheduled an auction of the dress worn by Judy Garland for the classic movie in hopes of raising more than $1 million for its drama department. The legal challenge comes from Wisconsin resident Barbara Ann Hartke, 81, a niece of a Dominican priest and drama professor at the university. She says that the dress should be hers because she is the priest’s closest living relative.

Judge Paul Gardephe, in a May 23 temporary injunction, ruled that the niece’s lawsuit had enough merit to proceed. He blocked the planned auction until the lawsuit challenging ownership of the dress is legally settled through proceedings in Manhattan federal court. He has set another hearing in June. The ruling could postpone the sale of the dress for months or years, the Washington Post reports.

Mercedes McCambridge, an Oscar-winning actress and artist-in-residence at Catholic University in 1973, had given the dress to Father Gilbert Hartke, O.P., the founder and head of the university’s drama school. In the late 1980s, the dress went missing and the costume became the subject of rumor. Matt Ripa, a lecturer and operations coordinator for the university’s drama department, happened upon a bag atop faculty mailboxes in 2021. He opened the bag to find a shoebox, inside of which was the dress.

Barbara Ann Hartke’s lawsuit has support from at least one other relative of Hartke, who was one of six siblings. However, the university filed affidavits from other relatives who say Hartke told them the dress belonged to the university.

The university also filed an affidavit from Father Kenneth R. Letoile, O.P., the Prior Provincial of the Province of St. Joseph, who explained that the Dominican priest had made a vow of poverty and not allowed to possess anything as personal property. Any gifts to him should have proceeded to the province, and the province did not claim ownership of the Wizard of Oz dress.

Fr. Gilbert Hartke holds a dress gifted to him that Judy Garland wore as Dorothy Gale in the 1939 film ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Courtesy of The Catholic University of America.
Fr. Gilbert Hartke holds a dress gifted to him that Judy Garland wore as Dorothy Gale in the 1939 film ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Courtesy of The Catholic University of America.

Shawn Brenhouse, an attorney for Catholic University, said the university will continue to defend its right to sell the dress, the proceeds of which are planned to support the drama school.

“The Court’s decision to preserve the status quo was preliminary and did not get to the merits of Barbara Hartke’s claim to the dress,” he said, according to the Washington Post. “We look forward to presenting our position, and the overwhelming evidence contradicting Ms. Hartke’s claim, to the Court in the course of this litigation.”

In court papers, Barbara Ann Hartke’s attorney Anthony Scordo III argued that his client could show that Father Hartke’s estate was the rightful owner of the dress. McCambridge had “specifically and publicly” given the dress to the priest and the dress is “therefore an asset of decedent’s estate.”

Gardephe rejected the university’s argument that the dress must be sold urgently so that potential buyers would not lose interest. He cited the enduring popularity of the film and said that controversy over the dress has generated more interest.

According to the auction company Bonhams, Judy Garland wore the gingham dress while filming a scene in which her character Dorothy Gale faces the Wicked Witch of the West in the witch’s castle.

The dress from the 1939 movie is one of only two existing dresses that retains its white blouse. It is now valued at an estimated $800,000 to $1.2 million, Bonhams said. Another surviving dress was auctioned for $1.5 million in 2015.

The university had said that proceeds from the sale of the dress would endow a faculty chair, a position that will support the current bachelor of fine arts degree in acting for theater, film, and television, as well as the development of a new formal film acting program at the university’s Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art.

Dr. Jacqueline Leary-Warsaw, Dean of the School of Music, Drama and Art of The Catholic University of America, is the wife of Michael Warsaw, chairman and CEO of the EWTN Global Catholic Network, Catholic News Agency’s parent network.