Section IV. Previous Church Persecuted Columns and Various Religious Liberty Articles


Easter Sunday – April 4, 2021

Responding to the “cancel culture!” Several years ago, Divine Mercy Care, the parent of Tepeyac Family Center, operated a pro-life pharmacy that did not dispense contraceptives. During their grand opening, a PBS reporter asked, “Why do you discriminate against women who want contraceptives?” The answer to the question, which was never aired, was that a woman would have to fly into the pharmacy from her home in a helicopter in order to arrive without passing another pharmacy that would happily dispense the birth control pills.

Same is true for Jack Phillips the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado. There are many bakeries near his cakeshop that would be happy to create a cake celebrating a same-sex “wedding” or a biological man becoming a woman. Jack has been to the U.S. Supreme Court twice winning each time protecting his First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion. The LGBT activists just won’t quit. A local LGBT activist attorney has now sued Jack because he politely declined to bake a cake celebrating her gender transition. This time the activist is suing Jack in state court solely to “banish him from the marketplace and intimidate him out of business” because of his religious beliefs.

Jack Phillips and others are protecting our religious liberty by not letting the cancel culture run them out of business because of deeply held religious beliefs.

(Jack Phillips story taken from adflegal.org.)

Church Persecuted (March 27 – 28, 2021)

We continue our story of religious persecution within the Church itself, about the young priest who refused to dissent from the encyclical, Humanae Vitae which reiterated the Church’s teaching against birth control.The leader of the dissenters, an ex-Marine priest, used coercive tactics to try to get the young priest to sign like his 54 brother priests in the archdiocese. He continued to refuse. Not one of those priests sided with him.

As this young priest grew older and moved from Baltimore around the country first as auxiliary bishop, bishop, archbishop, and finally cardinal, “he found that the isolation and the dissent followed him wherever he went.” The young priest was the now deceased Francis Cardinal Stafford.  The dissent with him and with others took the form of silence…dissenting priests and bishops just did not address the topic of birth control from the pulpit, in writing, in counseling. In marriage preparation and marriage counseling their silence became an affirmation of the use of artificial birth control.

The aging cardinal talked about a later meeting with the ex-Marine priest. “He remained silent….There was no common ground. He died while serving a large suburban parish. The only remaining option is to strike my breast and pray, ‘Lord, remember the secret worth of all our human worthlessness’.” The presbyterates around the country never recovered from those events of 1968. The dissent among many clergy remains to this day.

(Source: https://ccli.org/2013/07/part-5-humanae-vitae-45-years-later-is-it-still-relevant)

Church Persecuted (March 20–21, 2021)
Sometimes religious persecution occurs within the Church itself. Some may recall the date: July 25, 1968. Pope Paul VI issued the historic encyclical, Humanae Vitae. It was a short document, a 16-page booklet.
The document reiterated the Church’s long-standing prohibition against using contraception and sterilization for birth control purposes. The public opinion in favor of contraception was fomented by the likes of Father Charles Curran, then a professor at The Catholic University of America.
A week later, a young priest “was invited to attend a meeting in the basement of a rectory in Baltimore with 54 of his fellow priests….Each attendee was asked to sign a statement of dissent to the encyclical
that would be published the next day in the Baltimore Sun….There would be no time for discussion. They were asked to sign on the dotted line.”
This young priest stood out as the only one who would not sign because “he had not read the document” (and neither had anyone else in the room) and because as a priest he was faithful to encyclicals issued by the Church.
“The leader of the dissenters tried several times, using strong, coercive tactics and verbal abuse, to change the mind of this priest. None of his fellow priests came to his defense. Rather than the scorecard reading 55 to 0. It was 54 to one.”
(Source: https://ccli.org/2013/07/part-5-humanae-vitae-45-years-later-is-it-still-relevant)

Church Persecuted (March 6-7, 2021)

Much has been written about the damage that the Equality Act can do to religious organizations (see Father DeCelles’ columns on Virginia Issues in previous bulletin), but there are several other executive orders, cabinet-level directives, and pending bills in Congress which also can eliminate or severely restrict the First Amendment religious protection afforded to religious organizations, and in particular Catholic colleges and schools. The information below is extracted from a recent memorandum The Cardinal Newman Society sent to Catholic school, college, and diocesan leaders.

Executive Order 13988 on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) was signed by President Biden on his first day in office. This pertains to the Supreme Court’s Bostock ruling – finding that:

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Fair Housing Act, and other laws include “transgender” and homosexuality within the scope of sex discrimination.  Among other things, the Order could require that children share restrooms and locker rooms with those of a different birth gender, and that biological males be permitted to participate on female athletic teams.

What we see here is the Biden administration “covering as many bases as possible” (author’s words) so they may be able to force this immoral discrimination into the public square.

January 30/31, 2021

“There are no understudies in God’s plan for salvation.” So stated a priest friend many years ago. As the culture continues to grow darker, those words resonate daily. Perhaps it is this darkness that will force us to make a more productive accounting of how God wants us each to use our strengths…and weaknesses…in our various “roles” within His plan for salvation.Over these past several months, we have witnessed chaos/anarchy on multiple levels within our country (and beyond), so much so that many of us cannot even bear to read/watch/hear anything dispersed by secular news sources. It is somewhat profound, but as we turn away from this darkness, we are driven ever closer to our “Light” – the Trinity: God the Father who designed us in a specific way; Jesus who showed us how to live out this “design”; and the Holy Spirit who is trying to guide us so that we can fulfill our role in salvation by becoming saints.Although we may feel less and less “visible” within our current “cancel culture,” the Holy Spirit has inspired many individuals to write, speak, and create excellent sources to enlighten, challenge, and entertain us in ways that lead us to become humbler, more knowledgeable, and even more joy-filled Catholics. As we anticipate more persecutions within our country at this time in history…more darkness…let us “not mourn what we have lost, but celebrate what we have gained.” 

January 23/24, 2021

Due to bulletin deadlines, this column is written prior to the inauguration and any immediate executive orders that may be forthcoming.

With the advent of a new administration in Washington beginning last week along with a new Congress, actions are already underway to dismantle the protections of unborn children, both here in the United States and abroad. The Biden administration has signaled that they intend to:

Continue to eliminate the religious liberty protections on the Little Sisters of the Poor by reinstating the ObamaCare contraception mandate.

Revoke the Mexico City Policy, which ensures that U.S. foreign aid funds are not spent on groups that commit abortions or refer people to abortion providers. This program ping-pongs back and forth with Republican administrations halting the policy while Democratic administrations reinstitute it.

Restore about $60 million in Title X funding to Planned Parenthood in the U.S.

Attempt again to codify abortion into federal law to prevent any potential Supreme Court action to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Attempt to overturn the Hyde Amendment which would then allow taxpayer dollars to be directly used for abortion services.

While it is important that we stay vigilant and make our concerns known, we must also continue to pray for our nation and its leaders, that they will protect the most vulnerable children in our society – the unborn.

January 16/17, 2021

Last week, we read of how the Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives stripped their rules of all language referring to individual sexes. Not to be out done, the Virginia Department of Education has drafted policies for the treatment of transgender students. These policies were initially proposed during last year’s legislative session but withdrawn by the sponsor (apparently for lack of support). Instead of the language being promulgated through our elected officials, they are being proposed by rules through the Department of Education. The comment period for these rules extends through February 2nd. See www.familyfoundation.org for an extensive discussion on the topic and proposed responses to the rules. 

Here are a few of the rules: 

“Gender Identity (definition): “A person’s internal sense of their own identity as a boy/man, glrl/woman, something in between, or outside the male/female binary….“ (pg. 6 of recommended standard)

Schools shall allow students to assert a name and gender pronouns that reflect their gender identity without any substantiating evidence.” (pg. 13)

‘School staff should not confront students about their gender identity upon entry into the restrooms.” (pg. 18)

“Any incident or complaint of discrimination, harassment, or bullying shall be given prompt attention, including investigating the incident and taking appropriate corrective action, by the school administrator. (pg. 10)

“Access to facilities such as restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to a student’s gender identity shall be available to all students.” (pg. 18)

These proposed policies not only conflict with the teachings of our faith, but also the fundamental laws of nature and the order of human society. 

(see www.FamilyFoundation.org)

January 9/10, 2021

Justice Anthony Kennedy in the majority opinion Planned Parenthood v Casey (1992) wrote, “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” Today in the U.S. House of Representatives those are no longer mere words but actions. 
Last Sunday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared that the new rules of the House reflect “the views and values of the full range of our historically diverse House Democratic [party] Majority.” The rules banned such words such as “father, daughter, mother, and son.” All pronouns which refer to one’s gender are banned. Our representatives, Don Beyer and Gerry Connolly, both voted for these rules. Speaker Pelosi established rules which no longer represent the views of Catholics and the majority of the American people, but those of the “House Democratic Majority.” These were demonstrated by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) in his opening prayer before the session ended it by declaring “Amen, and Awoman.” Amen means, “it is so!” Not sure what awoman means? (Lifesitenews.com, Monday, Jan 4, 2021)

January 2/3, 2021

From NationalReview.com December 15, 2020 “Supreme Court Sides with Colorado Church on Religious Service Restrictions.”On November 25th, The Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS) temporarily blocked New York Governor Cuomo’s order restricting access to churches while allowing other facilities to operate. SCOTUS also returned to the lower courts a similar situation in California involving Harvest Rock Church. On December 15th, SCOTUS added two additional rulings in support of religious liberty. They sent back to the lower court for review based on their November 25th decision a Colorado policy which targeted indoor religious services subjecting them with harsher rules than other activities such as retail shopping. In response, Colorado informed the Court that they had removed the “capacity limits from all houses of worship at all times in response” to the previous Court decisions.Additionally, in the same vein, the Court sent back to lower court for review a New Jersey challenge of a Catholic priest and Jewish rabbi who argued “that the state’s restrictions on houses of worship are unconstitutional as they target religion unfairly.  

December 26/27, 2020

(This column is being written early due to Christmas deadlines. Any updated information can be found at https://straymonds.org/religious-liberty-blog.)

In a recent statement, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam could not understand why individuals needed to go to a physical church building to be with God since “God is everywhere.” There are at least two problems with such a statement.

The first is that the government does not define the conditions of a religion. The right to define a religion is embedded in the First Amendment of the Constitution.  Some churches are perfectly content with conducting video services because the content of the service is usually centered around singing, praying, and preaching – all of which can be achieved remotely. The Catholic Church is centered around the Mass and the Eucharist which requires our physical presence if possible.

Secondly, the Governor has no concept of the Mass, the Eucharist, and the real presence of Jesus Christ (one of the three persons in the Blessed Trinity) at each and every Mass. He has no concept of Jesus’ presence in the tabernacle, the importance of the Sacrament of Penance, and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. These normally take place in a Catholic church. Those who are unable to participate in these sacraments and sacramentals due to the virus crave them since this is part of what it means to be Catholic. While it may be nice to watch the Mass on television or on a computer, it is not the same thing as being physically present and also receiving Jesus in the Eucharist. The Governor doesn’t seem to understand the difference.

December 12/13, 2020

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.

December 5/6, 2020

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.

November 28, 2020

Church Persecuted (November 28 – 29, 2020)

“Follow the Science” has been a convenient term to use when justifying certain positions dealing with nearly anything these days. This is used to justify masks indoors and even outdoors; to limit indoor gatherings as in Churches while allowing unlimited access (of course with appropriate social distancing) for anything from pet stores to big box retail stores. Mr. Biden has stated that he will respect the claims of science when it comes to dealing with COVID-19. That may be true, but if so, then shouldn’t he also “follow the science” when it comes to the question of when human life begins? Let us “follow the science” and consult medical textbooks on embryology.

Essentials of Human Embryology (Keith L. Moore) states that, “This fertilized ovum, known as a zygote, is a large diploid cell that is the beginning, or primordium, of a human being.”

Medical Embryology, 3rd edition (Jan Langman) states, “The development of a human being begins with fertilization, a process by which two highly specialized cells, the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female, unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote.

Anyone who “follows the science,” would realize that abortion is the killing a living human being.

(portions taken from Hadley Arkes’ article, https://www.thecatholicthing.org/2020/11/17/counting-votes-ignoring-science/)

November 21-22, 2020

The Brooklyn Catholic Diocese asked the U.S. Supreme Court last Thursday to block the limits on in-person church attendance imposed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. His order states that there can be no more than 10 or 25 individuals at a given service based on the number of COVID-19 cases in the area where a given church is located. The diocese contends that the order “effectively bars in-person worship at the affected churches – a ‘devastating’ and ‘spiritually harmful’ burden on the Catholic community.” The petition noted that many secular businesses including “everything from supermarkets to pet stores,” are permitted to remain open.

In May, a divided 5-4 court rebuffed similar challenges by religious institutions on orders created by Gov. Gavin Newsom and San Diego County in California. They also argued that the churches remained closed while commercial businesses, offices, and restaurants remain open. The diocese is hoping that the addition of Justice Amy Barrett on the court may swing that 5-4 vote in their favor.  The diocese first went to the federal district court in New York arguing that Cuomo’s order violates the Constitution’s free exercise clause. Both that court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit declined to block the limits. Justice Stephen Breyer gave New York until this past Wednesday to respond.

November 14-15, 2020

The U.S. Department of Justice’s periodic “Religious Freedom in Focus” provides updates on religious liberty and religious discrimination cases. Here is a sampling of their work:

  1. In October the Dept. of Justice participated in oral arguments in the U.S. Court of Appeals (2ndCircuit) supporting a Vermont parochial school student challenging her exclusion from a state college course program for high school students because was enrolled in a Catholic school. This was part of a program where high school students could take up to two college courses while still in high school with tuition paid by the State. It was open to virtually any student other than those in a religious school under certain stipulations. The U.S. government sided with the student noting that excluding her from the program violated the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution.
  1. In September the Dept. of Justice filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Indiana Supreme Court explaining that the “First Amendment of the Constitution gives the Roman Catholic Archdiocese the right to decide for itself who should personify its beliefs, inculcate its teachings, and instruct students at religious high schools affiliated with the Archdiocese.” The case involved a teacher in a public same-sex marriage. The DoJ argued that the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision of Our Lady of Guadalupe School“shields from judicial review the Archdiocese’s direction…to terminate the …teacher.”
https://www.justice.gov/crt/religious-fredom-focus-volume-88-october2020

November 7-8, 2020

Vienna, Austria and Nice, France are the latest cities where Islamic terrorists attacked either Catholics or Catholic churches. Last Saturday, a 76-year-old religious sister was stuck in the face as she rode a bus in Vienna. A 19-year-old Afghan was later arrested and confessed to striking the sister.

A parish church in the Favoriten suburb of Vienna was the scene of an attack by a group of Turkish nationals. They stormed St. Aton’s Catholic Church shouting, “Allahu Akbar,” while kicking pews and damaging other furnishings in the church. 

Another Afghan was arrested last weekend after shouting Islamic slogans in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. 

In a matter not directly linked to anti-Catholicism, Austrian police and Islamic terrorists exchanged gunfire in six different locations in Vienna killing at least four people and injuring another 17. Cardinal Christoph Schönborn and other Austrian bishops appealed for prayers for the victims of the terror attacks. 

These attacks followed a knife attack in the Notre-Dame Basilica in Nice, France on October 29th. Dead were a mother of three young children, the basilica sacristan, and a 60-year old French prosecutor. Both women had stopped by the basilica to pray. Others were injured in the attack. The lone attacker, who had shouted “Allahu Akbar” during and after the attack, was shot, injured, and arrested by police.

(CatholicNewsAgency.com, Nov 2, 2020)

October 31- November 1, 2020

Last week we cited a reflection by Bishop Emeritus Loverde where he listed the moral priorities guiding our decisions when entering the voting booth. These included: 1) protecting human life, (2) promoting family life, (3) pursuing social justice, and (4) practicing global solidarity. We continue with excerpts from his talk.

“We cannot simultaneously commit ourselves to human rights and progress while eliminating or marginalizing the weakest among us” (Living the Gospel of Life, U.S. Bishops, 1988, #20) For example, how can we expect a political candidate to protect a society from injustice, if he or she supports the taking of the life of a nearly born child, in a procedure known as partial-birth abortion?

“While we must support each of the four tiers…the [2nd, 3rd, and 4th] are meaningless without the first: the respect for the dignity of each human person…’Human life must be defended in all places and at all times.’ (Living the Gospel of Life, U.S. Bishop’s Conference, 1988 #33).” …By electing those who defend human life, we will be faithful citizens, caring for the most important of God’s creation – the human person – in the womb, in the family, in society, and in the world.”

Abortion Is front and center in the voting booth next Tuesday.

(Arlington Catholic Herald, 11/2/2000, p. 3)

October 23, 2020

So much has been erroneously said about the priorities in Catholic social teaching with regard to voting. This week and next, we will turn back the clock 20 years to remarks that now Bishop Emeritus Paul Loverde gave at a Citizenship Forum at Good Shepherd Parish.

“I offer the following reflections on the moral responsibilities that we have to elect leaders who truly provide ‘liberty and justice for all.’ I urge you to vote your minds, and not your feelings. We must look past the words and pictures, and seek the principles that form the positions of the individual candidates – comparing them with the moral priorities that we Catholics hold and are guided by when entering the voting booth.

“These four priorities include: (1) protecting human life, (2) promoting family life, (3) pursuing social justice, and (4) practicing global solidarity. 

“’Good people frequently disagree on which problems to address, which policies to adopt, and how best to apply them. But for citizens and elected officials alike, the basic principle is simple: We must begin with a commitment never to intentionally kill, or collude in the killing of, any innocent human life, no matter how broken, unformed, disabled or desperate that life may seem.’ (Living the Gospel of Life, U.S. Bishop’s Conference, 1988 #21). …By electing those who defend human life, we will be faithful citizens, caring for the most important of God’s creation – the human person – in the womb, in the family, in society, and in the world.”

(Arlington Catholic Herald, 11/2/2000, p. 3)

Last week we cited a reflection by Bishop Emeritus Loverde where he listed the moral priorities guiding our decisions when entering the voting booth. These included: 1) protecting human life, (2) promoting family life, (3) pursuing social justice, and (4) practicing global solidarity. We continue with excerpts from his talk.

“We cannot simultaneously commit ourselves to human rights and progress while eliminating or marginalizing the weakest among us” (Living the Gospel of Life, U.S. Bishops, 1988, #20) For example, how can we expect a political candidate to protect a society from injustice, if he or she supports the taking of the life of a nearly born child, in a procedure known as partial-birth abortion?

“While we must support each of the four tiers…the [2nd, 3rd, and 4th] are meaningless without the first: the respect for the dignity of each human person…’Human life must be defended in all places and at all times.’ (Living the Gospel of Life, U.S. Bishop’s Conference, 1988 #33).” …By electing those who defend human life, we will be faithful citizens, caring for the most important of God’s creation – the human person – in the womb, in the family, in society, and in the world.”

October 18, 2020

The “cancel culture” is out to destroy any individual, business, organization, or institution that does not subscribe to its distorted value that free speech is only free if it supports their twisted beliefs. Particular targets include businesses that refuse to cater to the irrational “same-sex marriages,” religious institutions that still retain an aura for the Almighty, businesses that operate in a Godly way, and individuals past and present of many kinds and backgrounds. 

For Catholics, such evidence is portrayed by a case before the U.S.  Supreme Court this term (Fulton v. City of Philadelphia discussed here previously) whereby activists are attempting to cancel Catholic Charities adoption agencies because they refuse to allow adoptions to same-sex or transgender couples. In California, the cancel culture tried to remove St. Junipero Serra from the history books, and unjustly limited the number of congregants in a Church.  

On a positive note, a district court in New York issued a temporary injunction allowing the New Hope Family Services, a 50-year-old adoption agency based in Syracuse, NY, to continue allowing such adoptions to only married males and females.  In Florida, a court recently required Florida State University to reinstate a Catholic on the Student Counsel after he was voted off merely for defending his Catholic faith.

As you head to the polls to vote in the next weeks, remember that “Religious Freedom’ and the “Cancel Culture” are both on the ballot.

October 7, 2020

Justice Clarence Thomas, commenting on October 5th on the case of Kim Davis v. David Ermold, et al., noted that the right to same-sex marriage, promulgated in Obergefell v. Hodges, by the Court  “would threaten the religious liberty of the many Americans who believe that marriage is a sacred institution between one man and one woman.”  While the Court recognized those who had  “sincerely held objections to same-sex marriage are often ‘decent and honorable’, the Court went on to suggest that those beliefs espoused a bigoted worldview (…because it ‘teach[es] that gays and lesbians are unequal’).”  The dissenting justices in the case (of which Justice Thomas was one)  “predicted that ‘[t]hese…assaults on the character of fair-minded people will have an effect, in society and in the court,’ allowing ‘governments, employers, and schools’ to ‘vilify’ those with these religious beliefs ‘as bigots.’ Those predictions did not take long to become reality.”  The court declined to hear Davis’ case. As Justice Thomas notes:  “Due to Obergefell, those with sincerely held religious beliefs concerning marriage will find it increasingly difficult to participate in society without running afoul of Obergefell and its effect on other antidiscrimination laws. It would be one thing if recognition for same-sex marriage had been debated and adopted through the democratic process, with the people deciding not to provide statutory protections for religious liberty under state law. But it is quite another when the Court forces that choice…leaving those with religious objections in a lurch.”

Posted October 7, 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”

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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

A physician’s assistant was fired from a “Catholic” hospital in Oregon because she refused to perform procedures and prescribe contraceptive and abortion-causing devices which were contrary to Catholic moral teaching. Not only that, but the hospital asked her to sign a statement affirming the U.S. Bishop’s Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services which contained the Catholic teaching on such practices. This directive prohibited her from providing the services that she was fired for refusing to do. Megan Kraft had to excuse herself from these practices while in a secular medical school and she was excited about securing a position where she could practice her faith in the workplace at Providence Medical Group, part of the Providence-St. Joseph Health system, a Catholic entity located in the Portland, Oregon area.
She immediately noticed that on a routine form containing which procedures and practices she would do, she found procedures such as vasectomies, intrauterine device insertions, and emergency contraction. This was on the same list as “stitch or toenail removal.” She soon found that other physicians recommended patients for an abortion and the clinic encouraged providers to prescribe hormonal contraceptives. Her Catholic faith in practice got her fired from a Catholic medical group six months into her first medical job. 
https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/a-catholic-healthcare-worker-objected-to-contraception-her-catholic-clinic-fired-her-30957

Posted August 18, 2020

Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr on August 11, 2020 calling for the attorney general to “focus your efforts on preventing…violence to both Catholic people and property.” Here is the link to the full article.

Posted August 14, 2020

The Pauline Book and Media Center are located in Alexandria
VA and also in downtown Chicago along the Miracle Mile. Sr.
Tracey Dugas, FSP, reported that during the Chicago riots in
June, the book store was extensively vandalized, but fortunately
not set afire and the chapel not desecrated. FYI, the sisters were
living in the upper floors of the store and were home during
these riots.

Last Sunday the rioters returned to the Miracle Mile. Sr. Tracey
reported that the rioters themselves did not damage anything
within one block of their store, but around the corner from the
store, they were driving by shooting at the police.
How did the sisters respond to the first attack? They reopened
the story by mid June. They also rolled out a movie night down
the street at Soldier’s Field parking lot showing the movie
Fatima (#FatimaTheMovie).

As we went to press, we have been assured the sisters (and the
Blessed Sacrament) are safe. There is a line in the film, “I’ve
never seen Our Lady with a sword, yet she is always destroying
a serpent. Her strength is in her identity. Her ‘yes’ to the Lord is
why the enemy is defeated.” Let us keep the sisters in our
prayers as they deal with the rioting in Chicago.
Links to these and other articles can be found at https://
straymonds.org/religious-liberty-blog/. Check often during the
week for updates.

Posted August 10, 2020

Some Catholic schools are now reacting to the recent U.S. Supreme Court Guadalupe School decision by shoring up their employment contracts and policies. The decision affirmed the “ministerial exception” for religious educators. Of significance is that the ministerial exception can help protect Catholic education only if employee standards clearly require fidelity and religious duties for all positions and across the full curriculum. Institutions that compromise Catholic identity and have weak policies risk being left unprotected.

Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society said, “The best thing that Catholic educators can do immediately is to batten down their Catholic identity as tightly as possible. This provides the best defense under the First Amendment, religious exemptions, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Most important, it’s the right thing to do.” 

Catholic families don’t need more watered down Catholic education. Young Catholics deserve an authentic Catholic education. More than ever, we need graduates of faithful Catholic education who are prepared to transform a confused and wayward culture.

(https://www.crisismagazine.com/2020/a-fragile-peace-for-catholic-education)

Posted August 5, 2020-

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed during the Clinton presidency, provides for a safe harbor for religious organization to act in the public square while still maintaining their religious beliefs. Catholic hospitals have come under attack for protecting the life of children and the dignity of others by denying abortions, sterilizations, and transgender hysterectomies. Now the ACLU and others are eyeing a proposed merger between a secular and Catholic hospital system in Washington state – CHI Franciscan (Catholic) and Virginia Mason (secular). 

Even before the ink was dry on the press release announcing the proposed merger the ACLU, representatives of the LGBTQ community, and assisted suicide advocates were already lobbying to force the proposed merge system to practice medicine in a secular fashion, by requiring Catholic hospital to perform all of the immoral practices listed above. 

Wesley Smith, J.D., a special consultant for the Center for Bioethics and Culture and a bioethics attorney, writes in LifeNews.com (8/4/2020) that, “The attacks on medical conscience are likely going to increase into a nationwide legal conflagration, perhaps culminating with the Supreme Court determining whether the constitutional guarantees of free exercise of religion retains vigor or will be shriveled to a puny ‘freedom of worship’ concept.”

Posted July 30, 2020

Posted A Return to the Holy See and Chinese Communist’s Secret Agreement

The parish has been overwhelmed by Church persecuted incidents in the U.S. We have not forgotten what is happening in China.

If you have been following this column, you would know that the Holy See and the Chinese Communist government made a secret agreement in September 2008. It was to be interim nature such that it either had to be renewed, renegotiated, or scrapped by September 2020 – that is now about a month away. You may have read in the secular press that it is being reported that the Chinese government has hacked the website of the Holy See in advance of these negotiations. 


To bring us all up to speed, Robert Moynahan’s Inside the Vatican has been keeping track for us. Here is a link to his latest newsletter which is a thorough update to the situation: https://insidethevatican.com/news/newsflash/letter-17-wednesday-july-29-2020-china/embed/#?secret=opKtkxWdmk

Posted July 29, 2020-


Casinos can host thousands, but churches are limited to 50 congregants – so says the U.S. Supreme Court when asked to intervene in a recent Nevada case involving Calvary Chapel, an evangelical church. The court was asked to intervene because of the disparity between the two circumstances described above.  Even though the normal social distancing rules were in place for the church, the court in a 5-4 ruling would not grant an emergency appeal. The four dissenting justices: Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Thomas all said that the court should have taken the case. Calvary chapel wished to offer services for up to 90 people representing 50% capacity. On the other hand, the state argued that it could lawfully discriminate against places of worship for public health and economic reasons. 

As for the “economic reasons,” the casinos bring much tax money to the state so it’s beneficial to have them operating whereas churches don’t. Justice Kavanaugh argued to that specific point citing that, “no precedent suggests that a State may discriminate against a religion simply because a religious organization does not generate the economic benefits that a restaurant, bar, casino, or gym might provide.” The case returns to the lower courts where it will be pleaded. 

(See LifeSiteNews.com July 27, 2020)

Posted July 21, 2020-


This week we focus on attack last week on St. John’s Church in New Haven, CT. The church doors were vandalized with anarchist and satanic symbols. The significance of the church is that it is part of St. Mary’s Parish in New Haven which is where Father Michael McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882. 
To follow up on an incident previously reported here where a church was damaged with a vehicle attack in Ocala, FL. The sheriff’s detective said that the suspect has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and is not taking his medication,” reported a local newspaper.
The suspect told the detective that what he did was ‘awesome,’ and he smiled and laughed while he was questioned at the sheriff’s office,” the newspaper added. “Referring to himself as the ‘king’ and saying he was on a ‘mission,’ the suspect told the detective he has problems with the Catholic Church and made reference to several Bible passages, including the Book of Revelation.”

Posted July 9, 2020

Elections Have Consequences



“Elections have consequences!” Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, the chairman of the USCCB’s Committee for Pro-Life activities, made that point in a recent interview lamenting the “unfortunate” Supreme Court decision striking down a Louisiana law requiring abortion doctors to have privileges at a nearby hospital. It was a 4-5 decision with Justice Robert being the swing vote.

AB Naumann noted that, “We don’t elect Supreme Court justices. But we do elect Presidents who appoint them, and we do elect Senators who are the ones who have to confirm the appointments of the President.” He noted that currently on the court there are four solid pro-life votes. “We think that we are very close to having a majority” on the court, he continued. But we need another pro-life justice. Thus we need a president who will nominate one and a Senate that will confirm one. “So elections do make a difference.”

https://www.vaticannews.va/en/world/news/2020-07/archbishop-Naumann-women-are-the-second-victims-of-abortion.html

Supreme Court Defers to Canon Law in Catholic School Decision

The Court’s ruling rests on whether an employee is a ‘teacher of religion’ and therefore a minister of the faith.

There is an admirable concession to Catholic Church authority in the Supreme Court’s July 8 ruling on the “ministerial exception” for Catholic schools.

Justice Samuel Alito, in his majority opinion for Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Agnes Morrissey-Berru, defers to the authority of the Catechism and the Church’s canon law with regard to Catholic education.

https://m.ncregister.com/blog/reilly/supreme-court-defers-to-canon-law-in-catholic-school-decision

Posted July 8, 2020

Supreme Court rules in favor of Little Sisters of the Poor in ObamaCare contraception case

The court ruled 7-2 in favor of the Trump administration and the Catholic charity

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the Trump administration acted within its authority when it expanded exemptions to the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) requirement for employers to provide insurance coverage that includes contraception — in a victory for Little Sisters of the Poor, the Catholic group that has been at the center of the national debate over the mandate.

The court ruled 7-2 in favor of the Trump administration and the Catholic charity that cares for the elderly in two related disputes against Pennsylvania, which sued over the validity of a rule from the Trump administration that allowed religious-affiliated groups and some for-profit companies to opt-out of providing contraception coverage to employees.

The majority opinion, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, ruled that the Trump administration’s challenged rulemaking was aboveboard, and hailed the work of the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Lower courts had previously blocked the Trump administration’s changes.

“We hold today that the Departments had the statutory authority to craft that exemption, as well as the contemporaneously issued moral exemption. We further hold that the rules promulgating these exemptions are free from procedural defects,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for a majority of the court.

Catholic schools have right to fire teachers, Supreme Court says

The decision, written by Justice Samuel Alito, said: “What matters, at bottom, is what an employee does.”

He said that even though the elementary school teachers “were not given the title of ‘minister’ and have less religious training” that the teacher in the previous court case involving the ministerial exception, the court holds that the same rule applies.

“The religious education and formation of students is the very reason for the existence of most private religious schools, and therefore the selection and supervision of the teachers upon whom the schools rely to do this work lie at the core of their mission,” Alito wrote.

https://www.ncronline.org/news/justice/catholic-schools-have-right-fire-teachers-supreme-court-says

Posted July 6, 2020

San Francisco shuts down Catholic Masses. In a letter to Archbishop Cordileone, the city of San Francisco demanded that the Archdiocese cease offering indoor religious services, except for funerals with up to 12 attendees; and that the face covering and social distancing requirements will be followed at all outdoor services.

Father Joseph Illo, pastor of Star of the Sea parish in San Francisco, commented that, “Clearly some people in the city government and the news media find religion intolerable. They hate religion. “They may hate religion, and they may hate religious persons,” he added. “They may not restrict our rights as free American citizens.” This became personal after he found a nail stuck into the tire of the motor scooter that he uses to get around.

Father Illo blogged, “The free exercise of religion is an essential activity in America, guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution…Fifty people crowd onto city busses…several hundred times a day…. Groups of twenty people gather in Golden Gate Park without masks…. Hundreds gather in Costco from 9-9 every day. Dozens of people eat at restaurants on the streets around my church, without masks. The mayor addresses hundreds of people in a protest at City Hall, many of whom wear no masks. And the city is telling my church that we cannot have a gathering of more than 12 people, outside, for an activity that is specifically protected by the Constitution?”

See http://www.frilloblog.com and

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/san-francisco-archdiocese-threatened-with-restraining-order-for-offering-indoor-masses/

Posted July 2, 2020

In a commentary in the Wall Street Journal on 6/24/20 (”The Abolition of Man and Woman” posted below on June 25th), Professors David Crawford and Michael Hanby from the John Paul II Institute comment on the Bostock v. Clayton County, the recent Supreme Court ruling redefining the definition of “sex” under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. “If each of us is defined by a ‘gender identity’ only arbitrarily related to our male and female bodies, now relegated to a meaningless biological substrate, then there is no longer any such thing as man or women.”                                    

On 6/29/20, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down The Louisiana Unsafe Abortion Protection Act by a 5-4 margin. “The law would have required abortion clinics to follow the same standards of health and safety as managed for hospital facilities, and that physicians who perform abortions hold admitting privileges at local hospitals.”

https://sophiainstitute.us5.list-manage.com/track/click?u=b08c16feae130c0b4312d5ceb&id=cdf60fd508&e=ba920a2c17

On 6/30/20, the Supreme Court decided in favor of religious schools in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled that Montana’s state constitution discriminated against religious schools in barring their access to a taxpayer-funded scholarship program. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the opinion of the court that the U.S. constitution “condemns discrimination against religious schools and the families whose children attend them.” https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/soft-despotism-of-anti-catholicism-on-the-rise-catholic-bishops-religious-liberty-chair-warns-90987

Cardinal Joseph Zen, emeritus archbishop of Hong Kong, has no confidence that the new security law that took effect in Hong Kong will protect the religious freedom. Many may have seen the front page photos recently of the Communist Chinese government arresting protestors. The law basically removes the independence of Hong Kong to maintain their own security thus moving the city closer and closer to the strict control of the Communist government.

Posted July 1, 2020

The Navy has imposed a ban on its personnel from attending any indoor off base church service. See the like to the article above. The Archdiocese for the Military Service spokesperson said that the Archbishop has gotten several of the orders rescinded and was working to get all of theRescinded.

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/navy-bans-troops-from-indoor-religious-services-while-allowing-protests-house-parties

Posted June 30, 2020:


 In Virginia, July 1st bring a new sex orientation and gender identity law which can levy huge fines for churches, religious schools, and ministries operating according to their beliefs.

https://www.adflegal.org/blog/Virginia-huge-fines-churches-and-ministries-operating-according-beliefs

Virginia governor imposes a snitch law on churches and other houses of worship that do not comply with his Covid directives.

Liberty Counsel: Gov Ralph Northam encourages ‘snitching’ on churches, neighbors for not wearing masks

U.S. Justice Department tells NYC that they can’t restrict attendance at religious services when they don’t restrict attendance at rallies and riots.

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/justice-department-nyc-pandemic-rules-cant-favor-protests-over-religious-services-57752

Catholic Chaplain at MIT ousted because of his preaching the Catholic faith contrary to the twisted logic of the University.

Father Moloney vs. the Cult of Woke

Toppling statues of Junipero Serra “fails test” of history, California Catholic bishop says.

Toppling statues of Junipero Serra ‘fails test’ of history, California Catholic bishops say

https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2020/06/22/toppling-statues-of-junipero-serra-fails-test-of-history-california-catholic-bishops-say/embed/#?secret=C01j0FxLlX

Just how Catholic are Catholic hospitals. Check out the story of Megan at the Providence Medical Group in Oregon, a Catholic institution founded in the 1800s by the Sisters of Providence.

https://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/catholic-medical-professionals-can-be-punished-for-following-their-conscien

Posted June 25, 2020

The Abolition of the Man and the Woman

Posted June 24, 2020:

The current term of the U.S. Supreme Court is about to end and there are still several important cases yet to be decided.

Please read in the Father De Celles’ column in this week’s bulletin (https://straymonds.org/wp-content/uploads/2020-06-21.pdf) of the recent disastrous result of Bostock v. Clayton County and Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC which redefined the meaning of sex in the 1954 Civil Rights Act.

There is one more scheduled session of the court this term (Monday, June 29th) where opinions are rendered although it is possible that they could add more days to the term.

Important cases left to be heard which pertain to religious freedom include Espinoza v. Montana Dept. of Revenue (challenging tax credits to religious schools); June Medical Services v. Russo (challenging the constitutionality of a Louisiana law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals); Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania (yes they are back in court again as the Pennsylvania AG sued them for not providing birth control in their health plan); and Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berry (whether courts can hear employment discrimination claims brought by Catholic elementary school teachers).

St. Thomas More, Patron of Religious Freedom, PRAY FOR US!!