II. Special Column

As Father DeCelles wrote in a recent column (https://straymonds.org/first-sunday-of-advent-5/), the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) on November 25th temporarily blocked New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s order that “In his judgment laundry and liquor, travel and tools, are all ‘essential’ while traditional religious exercises are not.” This allowed churches to reopen with restrictions similar to those in Virginia. One would think that would end the “Battle to free the Mass” (see the previous two columns) around the country.

As a result of the November 25th ruling, SCOTUS returned the case to the lower courts which immediately ruled in favor of Harvest Rock Church and Harvest Rock International Ministries, a network of Christian churches throughout California. The Church had filed suit against Governor Gavin Newsom to open the churches. Even with the SCOTUS ruling, Newsom appealed and has now created stalling tactics by asking for more time to plead California’s case. Harvest Rock returned to SCOTUS on December 9th asking for an immediate injunction. These stalling tactics impact the Archdiocese of San Francisco and Archbishop Cordileone and his “Battle to free the Mass”.  BTW, on a completely unrelated (or perhaps related) issue, the current California Attorney General, Xavier Becarra, whose staff is arguing this case in the courts, is being tapped to be the new Secretary of Health and Human Services in a Biden cabinet.

Church Persecuted (December 5-6, 2020)

Although we are currently blessed with the ability to regularly attend Mass, confess our sins in the Sacrament of Penance, and have our children participate in person at CCD; other dioceses are not so blessed. Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, in a recent editorial in First Things titled, “The Battle to Free the Mass” (https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2020/11/the-battle-to-free-the-mass) chronicles the restrictions on worship placed on religions by the San Francisco City Hall. Several of these instances have been reported in this column, but the Archbishop pulled together the entire story which can be summed up as, “We are Essential! Free the Mass.”

He shows how City Hall hunted down offenders by visiting parishes seeking out violations of their draconian rules. He outlines his attempts to discuss this with Mayor London Breed and his administration which “seemed so deaf to…reasonable arguments.” He showed how Catholics could safely attend Mass without fear of spreading the virus. He cited studies to prove his point. After much anguish, “public witness on the city streets…a big media push…[and] thousands of petition signers generating hundreds of calls,” along with the U.S. Justice Department sending a letter to the mayor “warning her that the current unconstitutional rules should be revised ‘promptly;’” “It worked.” The mayor backed down and allowed 100 persons to worship indoors (the max allowed by California). While California rules remain discriminatory, it is a start. 

AB Cordileone calls it a “war for souls.” Next week, we continue this discussion.

October 21, 2020

Good for the Arlington Diocese to take this action in contacting HHS OCR to get priests to visit the dying and severely ill patients. I wonder what the result would be with a Democratic administration? Obviously Roger Severino will no longer be in the OCR of HHS, but back at Heritage Foundation.  These are the little things that matter with changes of administrations.

Click here to read about how the Arlington Catholic Diocese worked with HHS OCR to get priests to visit dying and severely ill patients.

Posted September 16, 2020

The following is the beginning of an Op-Ed by AB Salvatore Cordileone in the Washington Post 9/16/2020

I never expected that the most basic religious freedom, the right to worship — protected so robustly in our Constitution’s First Amendment — would be unjustly repressed by an American government.

But that is exactly what is happening in San Francisco. For months now, the city has limited worship services to just 12 people outdoors. Worship inside our own churches is banned. The city recently announced it will now allow 50 for outdoor worship, with a goal of permitting indoor services up to a maximum of 25 people by Oct. 1 — less than 1 percent of the capacity of San Francisco’s St. Mary’s Cathedral.

This is not nearly enough to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of Catholics in San Francisco. In imposing these restrictions, the city is turning a great many faithful away from their houses of prayer.

People can freely go to parks here, as long as they stay six feet apart. If they follow proper social distancing and wear masks, people can eat on an outdoor patio with no hard numerical limit. Indoor shopping malls are already open at 25 percent capacity. Catholics in San Francisco are increasingly noticing the simple unfairness. As one of my parishioners asked recently, “Why can I spend three hours indoors shopping for shoes at Nordstrom’s but can’t go to Mass?”

Here is the link to Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s op-ed in the Washington Post on September 16, 2020.

September 15, 2020 – Please take a moment and read Cardinal Sarah’s plea to bishops around the world to open the churches to Mass with reasonable precautions.
September 15, 2020 – The Archbishop of San Francisco has called Catholics to participate in Eucharistic processions across the city Sept. 20, which will join together and walk past city hall before public Masses are said outside the city’s cathedral – in part to protest the city’s revised limits on public worship.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone said in a memo to priests Sept. 13 that separate processions would begin at St. Anthony, St. Patrick, and Star of the Sea parishes, and would converge at United Nations Plaza near San Francisco City Hall.

The combined processions will then proceed past city hall to the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, where San Francisco priests, led by the archbishop, will celebrate multiple outdoor, socially-distanced Masses in both English and Spanish.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed had announced this week that starting Sept. 14, houses of worship may have 50 people at religious services outdoors. In addition, indoor private prayer is allowed, but only one person at a time is allowed inside.

September 15, 2020 – Here are some important links which expand the understanding of Archbishop Cordileone’s decision for the Eucharistic processions (see above):

Archbishop Cordileone’s appearance on Raymond Arroyo 9/10:

National Catholic Register Article on the topic:

“Evidence Based Data the Guidelines to Celebrate Mass Safely are Working”

Attachments areaPreview YouTube video World Over – 2020-09-10 – Most Rev Salvatore Cordileone with Raymond ArroyoWorld Over – 2020-09-10 – Most Rev Salvatore Cordileone with Raymond Arroyo

We will devote this column to a review of the Democrat and Republican party platforms as they pertain to those issue which directly impact the ability of a Catholic to practice his/her faith both privately and in the public square with an emphasis on the issues regarding the protection of human life. 

Abortion Rights:

(Democratic platform) “Democrats are committed to protecting and advancing reproductive health rights, and justice. We believe unequivocally…that every woman should be able to access high-quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion. We will repeal the Title X domestic gag rule and restore federal funding for Planned Parenthood….”

(Republican platform) “We call for a permanent ban on federal funding and subsidies for abortion and healthcare plans that include abortion coverage.”

(Comment) “Reproductive health rights” mean creating a universal right for access to contraceptives, sterilization for reproduction purposes, and both surgical and chemical abortions through all stages of a pregnancy. It was the inclusion of this in the Affordable Care Act that the Little Sisters of the Poor fought against and won twice at the Supreme Court.  It was the requirement that this provision be provided in faith-based business health insurance plans that Hobby Lobby successfully appealed at the Supreme Court.

Hyde Amendment’s prohibition to federal funding of abortions:

(Democratic platform) “Democrats oppose and will fight to overturn federal and state laws that create barriers to reproductive health and rights. We will repeal the Hyde Amendment, and protect and codify the right to reproductive freedom.”

(Republican platform) “American taxpayers should not be forced to fund abortion.” …[W]e call for codification of the Hyde Amendment and its application across the government, including Obamacare.”

(Comment) The Hyde Amendment was created in 1976. It bars federal funds to be used for abortion services. This Amendment has been embedded in all the appropriate funding bills year after year.  The Affordable Care Act bypassed the Amendment by requiring that the insurers provide funds for abortion services.  

Conscience clauses for healthcare providers and requirement that religious hospitals perform abortions, transgender surgeries, etc.:

(Democratic platform) “We will address the discrimination and barriers that inhibit meaningful access to reproductive health care services, including those based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity…and other factors. Democrats oppose restrictions on medication abortions are that is inconsistent with the most recent medical and scientific evidence and that do not protect public health.”

(Republican platform) “America’s healthcare professionals should not be forced to choose between following their faith and practicing their profession. We respect the rights of conscience of healthcare professionals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and organizations, especially the faith-based groups which provide a major portion of care for the nation and the needy. We support the ability of all organizations to provide, purchase, and enroll in healthcare coverage consistent with their religious, moral, or ethical convictions without discrimination or penalty.” 

This clause is directed at religious hospitals and medical centers that will not provide services which are contrary to their beliefs and at medical personnel who will not provide services that are contrary to their deeply heald religious convictions. Specifically, there have been lawsuits filed against Catholic hospitals that will not provide transgender-related surgeries.