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

November 28, 2021 Church Persecuted

The onslaught of persecution against Christians continues with the Biden administration’s directive intending to remove any distinctions between the sexes. So much for “follow the science!” The directive issued by the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) targets religious schools, organizations, and churches who believe that the difference between males and females is to be respected – especially in bathrooms, locker rooms, and (yes, even) dorm rooms.  The College of the Ozarks, a small Christian college in Missouri, is challenging the administration’s directive in court because “Christian students and families choose faith-based higher education opportunities superficially to deepen their religious values and to live in community with others who share those principles.” We saw this with the Obama administration. The scenario goes this way. Someone files a complaint to HUD (or another federal agency) and the administration begins to investigate. The case has little or no merit, but the investigation is brought about as a means of harassment in hope that over time, the college will submit to the rules. The penalties for non-submission are six-figure fines, extensive investigations, unlimited damages, and even criminal penalties.  Let us pray that Christian schools are able to withstand the withering pressure placed on them by the Biden administration to submit to these draconian rules. https://adflegal.org/press-release/adf-tells-court-president-biden-cannot-order-religious-schools-house-men-womens-dorms

November 21, 2021 Church Persecuted

During his visit to the United States in 1979, Pope Saint John Paul II  said that Catholics are to be in the world but not of the world! We live and act on the world stage, but we do so as a reflection of the famous quote of St. Thomas More, I am “the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”  Thanksgiving provides us an opportunity to publicly display the intentions of both great saints — first be thankful to God for the gifts that God has given to us here in the United States, and then enjoy the blessings of the day.  Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, football games, the day before Black Friday aside; our giving thanks to God should be prominent every day, but especially on this day. These distractions should be secondary to our first priority. This is an opportunity to show our family and friends that being in the world means to be thankful first to God for His gifts to us. Then, after thanking God, we can be “the king’s good servant” and enjoy the blessing of the day. We have such an opportunity, in a voluntary way (it is not a holy day of obligation), by attending the Thanksgiving Day Mass here at the parish at 10:00 am or in any Catholic Church on Thanksgiving Day. Join us!  

November 14, 2021 Church Persecuted  

The decline of the importance of religion in the lives of Americans continues to be an issue.  Churches are still not seeing a return of worshipers after the government shutdown of places of worship in 2020 due to COVID. A recent poll commissioned by the new Catholic news organization called The Pillar shows that while it has become widely known that a “growing number of Americans” now claim “no religious affiliation” as their religion, the poll showed that only 35% of Americans attend any weekly religious service and 28% say that they have a different religious identity than the one in which they were raised. This survey (https://www.pillarcatholic.com/p/special-report-who-we-are-and-what) shows relevant information concerning the changing of religious identity. While each religious affiliation (including agnostic and atheist) saw at least a 15% decline in membership, only two (Catholic and Protestant) saw less than a 15% increase in converts. In The Pillar’s survey,  32% of those responding said that they were raised Catholic, yet only 24% still consider themselves to be Catholic. The survey also asked questions concerning what statements individuals believe. For example, only 38% of the respondents said that Jesus rose from the dead, and only 31% said that Jesus is God.  As we approach Thanksgiving, a time to be thankful to God for the bountiful gifts bestowed on this land, sharing the gift of our faith to our friends and family has become more relevant than ever.

November 7, 2021 Church Persecuted

Most years, the Little Sisters of the Poor are in the parish asking for donations for their mission of serving the poor through their elder-care homes throughout the United States. Behind the fervor of their mission is a pursuit of justice even against seemingly insurmountable odds. The Little Sisters were thrown into a battle that they did not want – the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). They were sued by the Obama administration because they refused to comply with the Act, which exempted churches, but not faith-based ministries. They pursued the case to the U.S. Supreme Court where the court directed the Obama administration to settle this case and “arrive at an approach going forward.” The administration let it lapse to the Trump administration, which updated the regulations and expanded the religious exemption to include religious nonprofit organizations (The Little Sisters being one of them). That didn’t sit well with the attorney generals from two states run by Democratic governors who obtained a further injunction stopping the enforcement of the new rule. Pennsylvania and California sued the Federal government and both the 3rd and 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Sisters. They went to the Supreme Court again and on July 8, 2020, the court ruled 7-2 in their favor. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:10). Blessed are the Little Sisters for giving us an example of the pursuit of righteousness.

October 30/31 Church Persecuted

Religious persecution extends far beyond just Christians. For years, the Chinese government has detained ethnic and religious minorities. Complaints were filed with the International Criminal Court last year against the Chinese government by two groups of exiled Uyghur people: East Turkistan Government in exile and the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement. The Court dismissed the charges due to lack of jurisdiction because the “alleged crimes appear to have been committed solely by nationals of China within the territory of China, a State which is not a party to the Statute.” This is even though Turkistan and Cambodia are signatories. In doing so though, the Court did not conclude that the charges were false, but that they lacked jurisdiction. “Re-education camps” for members of the Uyghur population have been seen on satellite imagery as early as 2017. In 2018 the Chinese government admitted to the existence of the camps. Estimates vary about the total number of detainees, but the numbers run as high as 3 million, not counting about 500,000 children who are in special boarding schools for “re-education.” Recall that “re-education” is a technique that the Chinese government uses against Catholic bishops and priests who refuse to recognize the government-sponsored “Catholic” church in China. Those who have escaped from the camps have reported forced abortions, beatings, forced labor, torture, and indoctrination. 

October 23/24 Church Persecuted

 This past week, Senate Democrats rolled out their FY 2022 funding priorities. This is a wish list of programs that they desire to fund or restrict the funding of. Missing from the list for the first time in decades are two bipartisan amendments dealing with abortion. The first is the Hyde Amendment named after Rep. Henry Hyde, a staunch pro-life congressman from Illinois. The Amendment was first enacted in 1976, and it prohibited the use of federal Medicaid funds to be used for elective abortions. The second is the Weldon Amendment which was introduced by Rep. David Weldon from Florida in 2004. This Amendment protected the conscience rights of health care workers and insurance plans that did not want to participate in certain medical procedures that went against their consciences. These included performing, or participating in the performance of, an abortion or sterilization as well as the administration of contraceptives, sex-change surgery, etc. Catholic leaders, their bishops and others have denounced the Biden administration’s blatant disregard for the dignity of an unborn person. Sadly, this was one of President Biden’s major agenda items when he came into office. Ironically, he voted for these Amendments each year when he was in Congress. It has become a litmus test for running for office as a Democrat in virtually every level of government.  

October 16/17 Church Persecuted

In the 1950 movie, “Cheaper by the Dozen,” Frank B. Gilberth, Jr., played by Clifton Webb, reluctantly agrees to conduct a family vote on a pet. He loses. The UN, in their 1994 “Year of the Family” attempts to redefine a family as “building the smallest democracy at the heart of society.” Pope St. John Paul II countered the UN’s advertisement with his Letter to Families, understanding the family – as a communion of persons — the foundation of society.  “The family originates in a marital communion…”covenant,” in which man and woman “give themselves to each other and accept each other” (Letter to Families, 7). As such families bring children into the world. “Parents are the first and most important educators of their own children, and they also possess a fundamental competence in this area. They are educators because they are parents” (LF, 16). They carry out their responsibilities with the support of the Church and the state. “All other participants in the process of education are only able to carry out their responsibilities in the name of parents, with their consent, and to a certain degree, with their authorization” (LF, 16). So it becomes baffling when democratic governor candidate, Terry McAuliffe, in a recent debate said that “I don’t think that parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” The family is not the smallest democracy and for that matter neither are the government schools. Schools teach without the consent of the parents and foster division between parents and children. The end result is the government education system’s aim to destroy the very foundation of society.

October 9/10 Church Persecuted

When God is no longer in the societal picture, individuals make decisions for themselves based on what they think and affirm without consideration of even basic biology or other scientific-affirming principles. This has exploded in today’s world with gender affirmation principles whereby boys want to be girls, and vice versa.  In his “Catechesis on the Human Person & Gender Ideology,” Bishop Michael Burbidge affirms that “we can never say something contrary to what we know to be true.” He cautions that “using ‘gender-affirming’ terms or pronouns that convey approval of or reinforce the person’s rejection of the truth” should be avoided. The “truth must be accurately conveyed by our words.” “To use names and pronouns that contradict the person’s God-given identity is to speak falsely.” In 2018, Peter Vlaming, a teacher at West Point High School in West Point, VA, did exactly that. When the school administration demanded that he use male pronouns when addressing a female student when that student disregarded her biological reality and decided to be male, he sidestepped the issue by working very hard to avoid using any pronouns to address the student – even using the male name to address the student. By avoiding the use of those pronouns which did not represent biological reality, he was ultimately fired by the school board.  His case is being defended by Alliance Defending Freedom on appeal before the Virginia Supreme Court.  https://adflegal.org/press-release/high-school-teacher-fired-over-pronoun-usage-takes-his-case-virginia-supreme-court

October 2/3 Church Persecuted

 The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that marriage is a sacrament between one man and one woman. To call any other relationship “marriage” is highly disordered. Benet Academy in Lisle, IL recently interviewed a candidate for its lacrosse coaching position, but rescinded the hiring because the candidate was in a same-sex union. “As a Catholic school, we employ individuals whose lives manifest the essential teachings of the Catholic Church in order to provide the education and faith formation of the young people entrusted to our care,” explained a school spokesperson. It was a courageous witness to the Faith on the part of the headmaster and school…until the school board of directors got involved and “buckled under pressure,” forcing the headmaster to hire the individual. “The board seems to have overruled the headmaster, Stephen Marth, who not only defended the initial rescinding of the coaching offer but [also] scolded the protesting students for waving rainbow flags, which ‘represent an affirmation of a particular lifestyle or life choices that the Church, in her wisdom, does not and cannot condone.’” The school is not a diocesan school, but is owned by the Benedictine order and run by an independent board of directors. The school has effectively become non-Catholic, and since it has taken a “woke” position about hiring over fidelity to the Catholic Faith, it will be difficult in the future to “defend itself in court by claiming religious freedom to uphold Catholic teaching.” https://www.ncregister.com/blog/benet-academy-disastrous-choice)

9/25-26 Church Persecuted

We haven’t heard much about the Catholic Church-Chinese relations lately. Well, that has changed with a recent report in Asian News that 7 priests and 10 seminarians were arrested by the Chinese police and sent off for “political sessions” as part of their crackdown on religious activity. The next day, Bishop Joseph Zhang Weizhu, the 63-year-old prelate of the Apostolic Prefecture of Xinxiang, was taken into custody. The Chinese government does not recognize the Prefecture, of which the bishop, priests, and seminarians are members. The Prefecture has been operating for decades after being established by the Vatican with several “underground” bishops appointed by the Vatican but not approved by the Chinese government. This is taking place within the backdrop of the controversial Vatican-Chinese agreement on the ordination of bishops who are allowed to operate with the approval of the Chinese government. The agreement approved state-ordained bishops (from the past) and the Chinese government approval ofVatican-appointed bishops. Bishop Weizhu and the Apostolic Prefecture bishops are neither, since he and other bishops were Vatican-appointed prior to the Vatican-Chinese agreement. https://freebeacon.com/latest-news/china-detains-catholic-priests-and-students-for-reeducation-programming/

9/18-19 Church Persecuted

A democratic republic (the U.S. form of government) is based on the principle of law with the foundation of the Constitution, yet President Biden has recently issued a national eviction moratorium mandate, even though “the bulk of the Constitutional scholarship says that it’s not likely to pass muster.” Rightly so, the U.S. Supreme Court struck it down. On August 26th, a physician and two physicians’ organizations filed suit in federal court over another Biden and HHS mandate — physicians would be required to perform gender-transition procedures, even on children. The administration is taking this action because “Obamacare” supposedly says so. But it doesn’t. It prohibits sex discrimination as Congress understood the term when it enacted civil rights legislation decades ago. In January, President Biden ordered all federal agencies to reinterpret “sex discrimination” to include “gender identity,” as President Obama had done in 2016 requiring doctors to perform such life altering procedures. Bishop Burbidge provides clear guidelines in his recent pastoral letter addressing gender ideology. In it he says that “the claim to ‘be transgender” or the desire to seek ‘transition’ rests on a mistaken view of the human person, rejects the body as a gift from God, and leads to grave harm. To affirm someone in an identity at odds with biological sex…is to mislead that person.” Thus, the “transgender mandate” – whether it requires doctors to perform transitions or everyone to use incorrect pronouns – is in direct conflict with religious, moral, and medical principles. (Andrea Picciotti-Bayer Commentaries 9/7/21 ncregister.com

9/11-12 Church Persecuted

This Saturday, Father Tad Pacholczyk, the Director of Education at the National Catholic Bioethics Center, will speak at the parish on “Welcoming in Truth and Charity: The Church’s Authentic teaching on Same Sex Attraction and Transgender.” This subject is extremely important, especially to parents of students in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS). The school system has adopted a gender ideology contrary to the Christian anthropology on which our Catholic faith is built.Dr. Theresa Farnam brought this out in an August 28th talk to the volunteers of the Religious Education (CCD) program in our parish.  Christian anthropology  views a person as “lovingly created by God as male and female.” Gender ideology views a person as “self-creating with an infinite spectrum of ‘gender identities’.” Christian anthropology identifies a person as “son or daughter of God, forever.”Gender ideology identifies a person as “self-defined, fluid and variable.” Christian anthropology sees the family as “mother/father/child” joined together in a marriage covenant.”Gender ideology sees the family as “any number of consenting individuals.” These differences are evident in a briefing presented to all FCPS staff during the summer at which time they were told that “Parents may not yet be supportive of their child’s [gender] transition. In these circumstances, the school must still support the student’s decision. Parental permission is not required to call a student by their chosen name and identified pronouns.” (FCPS Reg. 2603 Gender Expansion and Transgender Youth Guidance Document.”  https://go.boarddocs.com/vsba/fairfax/Board.nsf/files/BU8RDU6C3F45/$file/R2603.pdf)

9/4-5 Church Persecuted

Our Church has consistently taught that parents are the primary educators of their children and are tasked with the duty and privilege of overseeing what their children are learning, especially outside the home. The role of the government and the Church is to support them in this (Familiaris Consortio 36, 40). Yet, parents are conspicuously missing from the “FCPS Student’s Rights and Responsibilities.” Following are a few excerpts from the information that was viewed by students in the FCPS elementary schools at the start of the school year: “You have a right to be treated with respect and called by your chosen name. If you feel that this is not happening, talk to your teacher, or another adult you trust.” (No mention of parents.) “You have the right to use the restroom and other facilities that are consistent with your gender identity.” (What if the parents are unaware of this “identity?”) “You have a right to keep your gender identity to yourself if you’d like.” (What about the parents?) Regarding sexual or gender-based harassment, students are advised to “…tell a trusted adult…” such as “…school counselors, administrators, or teachers…if they don’t do anything, then tell another grown up.” (No mention of parents as “trusted adults.”) Under advice on using the internet safely, students are advised that “if you [wouldn’t] want your parent or caregiver to see it, do not share it…” (Message: if a student is viewing/engaging in internet activity that would upset his/her parents, he should not share it publicly because the parents might find out.)

8/28-29 Church Persecuted

The following column was published in a longer form at  https://newmansociety.org/statement-on-ruling-in-starkey-v-roncalli-high-school-and-archdiocese-of-indianapolis/. In a “landmark ruling with enormous implications for Catholic education and its First Amendment right to expect fidelity and moral behavior from all employees, not just teachers, whose duties impact the Christian formation of students,” the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana upheld the ministerial exception according to last summer’s Supreme Court ruling in Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru. But the Supreme Court case concerned a lawsuit filed by a religion teacher in a Catholic school. The Indiana case is an important development, because it affirms that the federal court cannot interfere in the employment decisions of a Catholic school regarding its guidance counselor. The case involves Lynn Starkey, who attempted to sue Roncalli High School and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. She was fired from her job as Co-Director of Guidance when she entered into a same-sex union, a clear violation of Catholic moral teaching and of moral standards for Catholic school employees. “Catholic schools must have the freedom to hire educators and other employees who model the teachings of the Church. Catholic schools around the country should take an example from Roncalli High School and the policies of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, which have clear moral standards for Catholic school employees. As this case shows, courts will uphold religious freedom when they see consistent application of Catholic moral standards,” said Patrick Reilly, president of The Cardinal Newman Society.”

8/21-22 Church Persecuted

Over the past months, Father DeCelles has spoken and written emphatically about the serious attacks against the dignity of the human person inherent within the Fairfax County School curriculum, especially regarding “gender identity” and the undermining of parental rights. School staff and children will be forced to act against their consciences regarding gender identity and the truth that we are created male and female. Furthermore, school employees are being instructed not to notify parents if their child requests to be identified by a gender other than his/her birth sex. Father has made it clear that St. Raymond’s parish is offering financial assistance to parents who have enrolled their children in Catholic schools but need help with tuition, as well as parents who have decided to homeschool their children rather than expose them to the perils of Fairfax County Schools. Past articles have referenced Angelus Academy and St. John Paul the Great Catholic Schools as two excellent options. But what about homeschooling? How does one begin homeschooling in Virginia? Am I really smart enough to homeschool my children? What about their socialization? Can they get into college? Military ROTC? NCAA sports? What if my child is a struggling learner? With school beginning, is it too late? These are all valid questions. For answers to these questions and more, contact the parish home school group at www.homeschool-life.com/va/straymondhsg/.

8/14-15 Church Persecuted

This past week, another federal court blocked the Biden administration’s controversial transgender mandate – requiring physicians to perform the potentially harmful gender-transition procedures even though it violates their conscience and has not been proven to be medically beneficial to the patients. In Franciscan Alliance v. Becerra, a religious hospital and over 20,000 healthcare professionals were threatened with multi-million penalties if they refused to perform these procedures. Luke Goodrich, at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said, “Today’s ruling protects patients, aligns with current medical research, and ensures doctors aren’t forced to violate their religious beliefs and medical judgment – a victory for common-sense conscience, and sound medicine.” Ironically Fairfax County Public Schools is bending over backwards to accommodate such “transgenders” allowing them to use the opposite sex’s bathrooms, locker rooms, and be called by whatever pronoun they desire (see FCPS Implementation of New Policy on Gender Expansive and Transgender Youth – Saint Raymond of Penafort Catholic Church (straymonds.org)). This ruling is nothing new. Five years ago, one federal court put on hold, and two years later another federal court struck down a provision of Obamacare requiring that physicians perform gender transitions on any patient, including children, even though the physician believed that the procedures would harm the patient.  Franciscan Alliance v. Becerra counters an attempt by the Biden administration to revive the same case, but this most recent ruling stops that attempt.(https://www.becketlaw.org/media/federal-court-shuts-down-harmful-transgender-mandate/

8/7-8 Church Persecuted

This is the story of a Catholic family who runs Country Mills Farms near East Lansing, Michigan. Steve and Bridget Tennes, a faithfully Catholic family, were ousted from the East Lansing farmer’s market when city officials learned that they believed that marriage was only to take place between one man and one woman. Although they had been selling items at the farm since 2020, in early 2017, the city officials created an ordinance specifically to keep Country Mill Farms out and rejected their application for an exception. In May 2017, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a complaint against the city on behalf of the farms and was granted a preliminary injunction which was renewed in 2018, 2019, 2020, and now in 2021. The case is now in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan. Why is this important? It is important because, “People of faith should be free to live and work according to their beliefs without fear of being banned from the marketplace.” The First Amendment of the Constitution is designed to protect the practice of religion both privately and publicly. So far, the Tennes’ have won an injunction each year, but East Lansing  still will not change its ordinance. Pray that the Federal Court will. (https://adflegal.org/blog/country-mill-farms-banned-east-lansing-market-because-facebook-post

7/31 – 8/1 Church Persecuted

On this date in 1968, Pope Saint Paul VI issued Of Human Life (Humane Vitae). No single document of the Church has explained the downfall of society more than this one. He addressed “responsible parenthood” as “a more profound relationship to the objective moral order established by God, of which a right conscience is the faithful interpreter.” He noted that “responsible parenthood is exercised, either by the deliberate and generous decision to raise a numerous family, or by the decision, made for grave motives and with due respect of the moral law, to avoid for the time being, or even for an indeterminate period, a new birth.”(H.V. 10) The saintly pope speaks of illicit ways to regulate birth by various methods of artificial birth control, sterilization or direct abortion.  (H.V. 14) 53 years ago, he predicted the following “consequences of methods of artificial birth control:”-       Marital infidelity-       The general lowering of morality-       Men losing respect for women-       Men considering women as “mere instrument[s]                of selfish enjoyment,”-       Communities imposing contraception on the               population. (H.V. 25) After having a one-child policy for decades, Communist China now realizes there are more deaths than births and has established a three-child policy. The United States birth rate is now far below the replacement rate. What needs to change is for married couples to be partners in “a generous effort of fidelity to the divine law.” (H.V. 26)  (See www.ccli.org)

7/25 Church Persecuted

On this date 1968, Pope Saint Paul VI issued Of Human Life (Humane Vitae). No single document of the church has explained the downfall of society than this one. He speaks of “responsible parenthood” as “a more profound relationship to the objective moral order established by God, of which a right conscience is the faithful interpreter.” He notes that “responsible parenthood is exercised, either by the deliberate and generous decision to raise a numerous family, or by the decision, made for grave motives and with due respect of the moral law, to avoid for the time being, or even for an indeterminate period, a new birth.”(H.V. 10)

The saintly pope speaks of illicit ways to regulate birth by various methods of artificial birth control, sterilization or direct abortion.  (H.V. 14)

53 years ago, he predicted the following “consequences of methods of artificial birth control:”

–       Marital infidelity,

–       The general lowering of morality,”

–       Men losing respect for the woman, 

–       Men considering women as “mere instrument[s] of selfish enjoyment,” and

–       Communities impose contraception on the population. (H.V. 25)

Today, Communist China having a one-child policy for decade and now realize there are more deaths than births and have increased it to a three-child policy. The United States birth rate is now far below the replacement rate. What needs to change is for married couples to be partners in “a generous effort of fidelity to the divine law.” (H.V. 26)  (See www.ccli.org)

7/18 Church Persecuted

Much has been written in the bulletin over the past three months on topics which are directly contrary to the social and moral teachings of the Catholic Church.  Much of this is happening in our own backyard. Let us review the topics discussed in the past few months. The links to the bulletins can be found at https://straymonds.org/about-the-parish/bulletins/. Unless otherwise noted, the (dates) below correspond to the “Pastor’s Corner” page of the parish bulletin.

Black Lives Matter (June 20, 2021)

Cancel Culture (Church Persecuted column June 20, 27, July 4,13, 2021) 

Critical Race Theory (May 9, 2021) (June 27, 2021)

Disruptions to the Nuclear Family (June 20, 2021) (June 27, 2021)

Fairfax County School Education (May 9, 2021) (June 13, 2021) (June 20, 2021)

Freedom of Religion (June 13, 2021)

Police Abuse (May 9, 2021)

Racism (May 9, 2021)

Scholarships for Catholic Education (June 13, 2021) (June 20, 2021) 

Scholarships for Catholic Education, Funding of them (June 13, 2021) (June 20, 2021)

School Board Recall Elections (June 20, 2021)

School Vouchers (June 13, 2021)

Transgender Pronouns (June 6, 2021)

7/10-11 – Church Persecuted

[The brackets below pertain to two announcements that have been in recent bulletins. Please the select the appropriate text based on their location in the bulletin. I have three options, the first two assume the previous announcements are in the bulletin. The last is if not in the bulletin. Many thanks, Bob]. 

Previous columns excerpted The Cardinal Newman Society’s Dr. Dan Guernsey’s article published online at www.TheCatholicThing.org/2021/05/19/the-remedy-for-canceling-and-division-catholic-education/. Let’s apply these principles to Angelus Academy [featured to the right of this column/featured elsewhere in this bulletin/www.AngelusAcademy.org].

Angelus Academy does not cancel a culture, but teaching students how to think, to properly form arguments, and to make decision based not on emotion or popular opinion, but on the correct moral view.  Contrary to the Fairfax County School System which provides a radical agenda of education based on the whims of the elected school board officials and the many unelected educators within their vast system  and their lobbyists (not the parents of the students), Angelus accomplishes its mission “by supporting parents in their sacred mission to transmit the rich and time-tested traditions of the Catholic faith and culture in a familial atmosphere characterized by mutual respect and generosity of spirit.” It is a liberal arts curriculum in a classical tradition. 

No student from Angelus Academy has been denied admission to any of the Catholic high schools in the diocese because they went to Angelus. One year, each 8th grade graduate from Angelus applied and was accepted for admission at John Paul the Great High School.

Need help with tuition? See Father De Celles’ updated scholarship information for Catholic K-12 schools located below [below/elsewhere in this bulletin/see bulletin of July 4th for more information].

7/3-4 Church Persecuted

The previous two weeks contained excerpts of an article by Dr. Dan Guernsey of The Cardinal Newman Society and published online at www.TheCatholicThing.org/2021/05/19/the-remedy-for-canceling-and-division-catholic-education/. Let’s apply these principles to John Paul the Great High School. The beauty of Catholic education is that it does not cancel a culture, but teaches how to think, to properly form arguments, and to make decisions based not on emotion or popular opinion, but on the correct moral view. At JP the Great, the students learn about the human person, the rational power of the soul, the language of the body, and love in the context of the love of Christ for his Church – giving of oneself for the good of the other. Following that is an understanding of true happiness, the moral law and freedom, conscience and truth, the human and moral act, and virtues and vices. Throughout the entire curriculum, the student is applying these principles to everyday situations. “The science of Ethics studies man’s pursuit of happiness. It delves into both the ultimate or final end which the human person seeks, as well as the free acts he does in pursuing that end. As a science, Ethics is based on universal principles which – as true—apply to all human beings, not just a few” (Call To Happiness, Guiding Ethical Principles, p. 1). 

6/26-27 Church Persecuted

The following are excerpts from an article written by Dr. Dan Guernsey of The Cardinal Newman Society and published online at www.TheCatholicThing.org/2021/05/19/the-remedy-for-canceling-and-division-catholic-education/. It continues from last week. “There are key things that Catholic educators should – and should not – do to address hot-button topics like race, gender, and equity. The following is a partial list of some central things that can help Catholic educators avoid the pitfalls of ideology and division: “Bring to the table Catholic values of faith, forgiveness, mercy, and justice, and shun sins of calumny, detraction, rash judgment, and pride. “Relate discussions to a Catholic understanding of the human person through a clear and convincing Christian anthropology, which affirms our creation by God as male or female and the union of our bodies and spirits, as well as our common humanity and destiny. “Avoid compounding racial tension, promoting tribalism and ‘if you’re not for us you’re against us’ thinking. “Teach the use of logic and reason to uncover objective truth especially when emotion and relativism run hot.” Continue reading at www.TheCatholicThing.org/2021/05/19/the-remedy-for-canceling-and-division-catholic-education/

6/20 Church Persecuted

Church Persecuted The following are excerpts from an article written by Dr. Dan Guernsey of The Cardinal Newman Society and published online at www.TheCatholicThing.org/2021/05/19/the-remedy-for-canceling-and-division-catholic-education/. “The cancel culture surrounds us and now threatens to infect Catholic schools, colleges, and homeschooling. But we should not yield to it. “Authentic Catholic education does not cancel culture; it elevates it, redeems, and transmits culture. It seeks out and celebrates truth, beauty, and goodness, wherever they are found – and if they are missing, Catholic education points that out as well. . . . “The Catholic pursuit of truth, beauty, and goodness and the Catholic understanding of human dignity and the common good provide a framework for dealing with perennial challenges facing humanity, including the current cultural crisis concerning race and gender. “Catholic education serves the common good. Unjust discrimination based on race or gender is an affront to the common good, and therefore Catholic education should respond to these evils with the fullness of a Catholic worldview and morality. Catholic educators should bring the joy of the Gospel and the wisdom of the Church to bear on social justice issues, instead of duplicating or amplifying already loud and divisive secular voices.” (Continued next week)

6/13 Church Persecuted

The Biden administration supported by activist groups are attempting to cancel our cherished First Amendment rights of speech and religion. Let’s review some examples:

Brenden Eich was the CEO of Mozilla, but when the California state government intentionally leaked the names of those who donated to Proposition 8 (defining marriage as a union of one male and one female), the employees and board of directors were pressured into forcing Eich to resign. 

Ryan Anderson’s book, When Harry Becomes Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment was cancelled by Amazon after the House Democrats passed the Equality Act. You can still purchase it at www.barnesandnoble.com

Jack Denton, a student at a public university, was removed as Student Senate President because he shared his beliefs in a Catholic group chat. His words were distorted and taken out of context where he was labeled as “vile, “cult mindset,” “transphobic,” and “racist.” 

In 2019 the Students for Life chapter at Georgia Tech invited Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to speak on campus. She was cancelled by the Student Government Association because she was “inherently religious.” 

…and what about the 60 U.S. bishops (Arlington bishop is not on the list) that want to cancel an upcoming discussion dealing with pro-abortion politicians receiving the Eucharist? 

The cancel culture cannot allow free expression of issues because they know that their culture is based on lies.

6/6 Church Persecuted

Church Persecuted A Catholic school that requires a faculty member to sign “an agreement to uphold the teachings of the Catholic Church in word and deed” cannot allow a teacher who entered into a same-sex union to continue to teach in the school. So said the Marion County (Indiana) Superior Court in throwing out a lawsuit by the teacher against the Archdiocese.  The facts are simple. A Catholic high school teacher at Cathedral Catholic High School (Indianapolis, IN) entered into a same-sex union and the school did not renew the teacher’s contract. The teacher sued and recently the lawsuit was thrown out. The precedence for this was the unanimous decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in EEOC v. Hosanna-Tabor and Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru, in which the Supreme Court “affirmed the right of religious organizations to ‘autonomy’ in matters of faith, doctrine and internal governance.”  The simple lesson from this case is that Catholic schools must have rigorous written standards to ensure that they are truly Catholic in more than just name. See the link below to the Cardinal Newman Society for standards in human sexuality for Catholic education. https://www.becketlaw.org/media/indiana-court-upholds-religious-freedom-for-catholic-schools/ https://newmansociety.org/human-sexuality-catholic-education/

5/30 Church Persecuted

On May 20, 2021, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials arrested the bishop of Xinxiang, 10 priests, and 10 seminarians in an apparent further attempt to apply pressure to the underground Catholic Church in China – not the one controlled by the Chinese government. They were taken to a hotel, kept in solitary confinement and were subjected to “political sessions” to “indoctrinate them with the CCP’s understanding of religious freedom.”  Bishop Guiseppe Zhang Weizhu is a member of the underground Catholic Church faithful to Rome and recognized by the Holy See but not the Chinese communist government. This is not the first time that he has been imprisoned.  The 10 priests are also considered to be criminals for their refusal to join the state-run Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association as required by the government.  Additionally, the seminarians were studying in a seminary “operating out of a factory.” They were returned to their families and prohibited from continuing with their studies. https://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2021/05/25/chinese-communists-arrest-bishop-ten-priests-as-church-prays-for-china/amp/

5/23 Church Persecuted

Church Persecuted “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Most practicing Catholics recognize this quote as being toward the end of the creation discourse in Genesis 1:27. Neither Genesis nor anywhere else in scripture permits physicians to act as God changing males to females and vice versa. Recently, President Biden’s Department of HHS established rules requiring physicians to perform harmful gender-transition procedures against their conscience and medical judgment. An association of 19,000 healthcare professionals in nine states and several religious institutions filed two lawsuits against the mandate as it violates the Hippocratic Oath which requires physicians to do no harm.  In December 2016 two different federal courts ruled that the policy was an “unlawful overreach by a federal agency and a violation of the conscience rights of medical professionals. There is ample medical evidence that “certain gender transition procedures can be deeply harmful,” cited Luke Goodrich, VP and Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund. Several courts have ruled that “There is no medical consensus that sex reassignment surgery is a necessary or even effective treatment for gender dysphoria.” (Gibson v. Collier, 5th Cir. 2019).  The Biden administration is now appealing that ruling.  

5/16/21 Church Persecuted 

Church Persecuted  The Walt Disney Company is no longer the family/religion-friendly Disney of old, but laced with overt anti-Catholic bias. As Disney is falling all over itself apologizing for its sins of the past, somehow apologizing to Catholics hasn’t happened yet.  Disney recently put disclaimers on their blockbuster movies, “The Jungle Book”, because it perpetuates a stereotype of African Americans; “Peter Pan” offends Indians; “Swiss Family Robinson” offends pirates; “Aladdin” offends Arabs; etc. “The Muppet Show” offends not only Native Americans, but also Arabs and East Asians. But what about the Catholics? The 1997 movie, “Nothing Sacred”, portrayed a priest “at war with the Catholic Church’s sexual ethics….He was tired of being a ‘sexual traffic cop.’” The 1998 movie, “That’s Life”, “was one long assault on virtually every aspect of Catholicism.” Released during Holy Week, it “was a vicious mockery of the suffering and death of Jesus.” In 2002, “The Magdalene Sisters” depicted nuns as  lying and  being vicious as they worked with wayward women in Ireland.  In 1995, Disney bought Capital Cities/ABC. Bill Maher’s “Politically Incorrect” bashed the Catholic Church on a regular basis as did “The View” during the time when Barbara Walters was the co-producer and a panelist.  These are the highlights, read the link for more. (https://www.catholicleague.org/disneys-anti-bias-campaign-excludes-Catholics/)

5/9/21 Church Persecuted 

Church Persecuted  The move of a nation or a culture toward Marxism/communism is not an accidental happenstance that suddenly appears; rather it is a planned and orchestrated attempt to take control of the government, society, religion, and education.   The takeover of religion and education is currently happening in our public schools where nihilism is the religion allowing everyone to believe what he or she likes. The late Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete wrote that American nihilists “believe in everything and anything all at once. It’s all good!” Right or wrong is not established by any truth, but by whatever a person feels at that time. Mothers and fathers of students in these schools must counter this by anchoring their children in the tenets of their Catholic faith.  This weekend, the parish second collection is for Parish Special Needs. This year Father De Celles has designated it for scholarships to Catholic schools to help our families provide a faith-filled education for their children. It’s an opportunity for the parish family to help other families. It also affords parents an opportunity to reflect on their responsibilities in the education of their children. “The right and duty of parents to give education is essential, since it is connected with the transmission of human life…it is irreplaceable and inalienable, and therefore incapable of being entirely delegated to others or usurped by others.” (Familiaris Consortio, 36)  

5/2/21 Church Persecuted 


We turn back to the Acts of the Apostles to see the value of the persecuted Church, its related suffering, and its impact. Stephen had been stoned to death, beginning a period of persecution with Saul heavily involved (Acts 8:1-3). Saul gets knocked to the ground as he was heading to Damascus to arrest more disciples of Jesus and bring them back to Jerusalem (9:1-9). The persecution scattered the disciples “as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch” (11:20). Philip headed up to Samaria (8:5). But as they scattered, “the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number that believed turned to the Lord” (11:21). Barnabas took the converted Saul under his wing and they went to Antioch where the disciples were first called Christians (11:25-26). In professing the good news of the yet to be written gospels, the disciples began a period of expansion of the Church.  Can we relate this to today? The Biden administration and several members of Congress are doing everything they can to deprive us of the freedom to live and practice our religion as they attempt to confine it to one hour per week at Church. As Father De Celles said in his daily homily last Tuesday, throughout history after each persecution of the Church, there is a great expansion of the Church. We are the disciples of today. What are we doing to preach the gospel and help others to believe and turn to the Lord (11:21)? 

4/25/21 Church Persecuted 

Kidnappings have become a common occurrence Haiti. Kidnappers, apparently belonging to a gang known as 400 Mazowo, struck on Divine Mercy Sunday.  They abducted 10, including 7 Catholic priests, a French nun, and relatives of a priest. They were en route to the installation of a new parish priest.  The ransom of $1 million is being demanded. Kidnappings in which the victims are held for ransom have become more common in Haiti, the poorest country of the Americas. Apparently, the kidnappers felt that the Catholic church had the money to pay the ransom. As of April 19th, there has been no word on the release of the captives. The Catholic Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince has condemned the actions noting that the level of violence has increased to “unprecedented” levels. They were calling on the government of President Joveles Moïse to do more. “The public authorities who are doing nothing to resolve this crisis are not immune from suspicion. We denounce complacency and complicity, wherever they come from,” said a statement released from the Archdiocese.
 This one is not the first recent attack against a religious community. On April 1st, a livestreamed Holy Thursday evangelical service on the outskirts of the capital was interrupted by armed marauders who kidnapped the pastor and three others. They were released three days later after an unspecified ransom was paid.https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/247250/haitian-bishops-condemn-kidnappings-of-catholic-priests-nuns

4/11/21 Church Persecuted

Saints are not always pious monks or contemplative nuns in monasteries or abbeys. Some are ordinary people. Take for instance Saint Nicholas Owens. He lived in the 16th century Elizabethan England. Living his faith in an anti-Catholic regime that made Catholicism illegal was a challenge that he freely accepted. Nicholas, a devout Catholic, was also an extraordinary craftsman.

Known as “Little John” because of his short stature, in 1588 he was hired by the Jesuits in England for a secret mission. He was to construct “priest holes” in the homes of Catholic families in England to hide priests. He did it for the next 18 years working undetected alone and at night.  He constructed “holes” under floorboards, in attics, and between walls. He hid the entrances behind fake walls, floors, and fireplaces for hundreds of priests.

In 1597, he and Jesuit Father John Gerard were captured and imprisoned in the Tower of London. After a wealthy Catholic paid a ransom to release Owens, the latter then returned to the Tower to dramatically free Father Gerard. Finally in 1606, the anti-Catholic police came knocking again. Hidden in the home were Owens and two other priests. Owens gave himself up in order to successfully protect the other priests and to not betray his secret “holes.” He was tortured and died in captivity. He was just an ordinary person doing extraordinary things.

(Source: Columbia Magazine March 2021, pg. 5)


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.)

3/28/21 Church Persecuted

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

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.

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!!