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

Church Persecuted October 30, 2022

She was the news director and co-anchor at KNOP-TV, a small-town television station in North Platte (Neb), a truck stop off I-80 between Omaha and Cheyenne (Wyo). Her station has a “long-standing company policy [which] encourages civic involvement among…employees, so long as such activities do not give the appearance of interfering with journalistic impartiality.” On a recent Sunday, Melanie Standiford, mother of nine children, distributed a petition in the pews of her church she attends, St. John’s Lutheran in Curtis, Neb. The petition called for her home town (pop. ~1000) and five other towns to ban abortions within their city limits. For her “political activity” she was terminated.

Standiford is a well-known Christian and is known for her pro-life lifestyle, and has been known to separate her personal opinions on issues when she is reporting. Yes, she is a rare news reporter who reports and the news without opinion or commentary. 

In an interview with Catholic News Agency, she said that she asked her boss why she was fired. He said, “You’re being fired for practicing partisan politics.” She replied, “I don’t think I was being political with that in my home church, sitting in the pews in my church.”

Using that criteria, would a parishioner here be fired from a secular job for attending a holy hour for the unborn? What about putting up the pro-life and religious freedom voting signs in your yard? Being pro-life is intrinsic to being a person…it’s apolitical. 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/252532/christian-newscaster-fired-for-circulating-pro-life-petition-speaks-out

Church Persecuted October 23, 2022

There’s always something to write about on the persecution of the Catholic Church in Communist China or Uganda or another place far away. But what about in our own country? Here are some recent incidents: 

· Virginia Democrat from Prince William County, Del. Elizabeth Guzman, told WJLA news that she would propose a bill that would bring child abuse charges against any parent who opposed their child’s gender transition. Fortunately, another Democratic delegate called her and she backed down on her threat because it was not a good thing to propose so close to an election.  

· The cake decorator, Jack Phillips, is still in state court fighting for his constitutional protection so that he can maintain a business without violating his conscience, even though he has won at the U.S. Supreme Court. He wouldn’t decorate a same-sex marriage cake, and now he is in court because he won’t decorate a “trans” cake. 

· The U.S. President and Speaker of the House, both calling themselves, “practicing Catholics” are lecturing others on Catholic moral teaching on marriage, family, and abortion

· Nebraska television news anchor fired for her pro-life stand. 

· The DOJ set up the reproductive rights task force to crack down on pro-lifers.  

· Chase Bank closed the account of the National Committee for Religious Freedom (NCRF) and told them that they could get their account back if they revealed their donor list.

· The Michigan pro-abortion ballot measure has embedded in it language which would give Planned Parenthood the ability to give children “gender transition” drugs without parental consent.

Church Persecuted October 16, 2022

On October 19, we honor eight North American Martyrs, Jesuits who were crowned with their martyrdom between 1642 and 1649 in the New World.

The most well-known of these Jesuits was Saint Isaac Jogues, who on his first trip into Northern New York and Canada was rewarded for his preaching by being tortured and having his thumb and index fingers removed. For a priest, those were the fingers which he used to touch the Eucharist when celebrating Mass. He managed to escape imprisonment and returned to Europe where he received permission from the Pope to hold the Eucharist with his remaining fingers. Undaunted by this inconvenience, St. Isaac returned to the New World, again preaching the Gospel, and he was martyred in 1646.

We are all called by our baptism and confirmation to preach the Gospel. In his recent column in The Catholic Thing, “Preach the Gospel: Use Words More Often.” Peter Laffin critiques the “’show, don’t tell’ approach to evangelization.

(www.TheCatholicThing.org 10/9/22) Imagine if St. Ambrose didn’t firmly preach the gospel when young St. Augustine was listening. We may never have had the latter saint. 

“What value does one place on the Gospel? Is it worth a few fingers? Death?” (Br. Bartholomew Calvano, O.P.) Let us celebrate this great feast day by remembering all those who fearlessly preach the gospel regardless of the cost, especially the North American Martyrs. 

The National Shrine of the North American Martyrs is in Auriesville, NY. While these Jesuits did not die a peaceful death, it is a peaceful place to visit. 

Church Persecuted October 9, 2022

Required reading for students at most government schools is generally void of anything specifically Catholic. The cancel culture in which we live is cancelling anything which promotes the truth, goodness, and beauty of the world, while promoting gender ideology and critical race theory. Catholic literature selections should focus on promoting the truth, beauty, and goodness of the human person and world that God created around us. They should bring the light of Christ into the world and not merely focus on the latest cultural fad.

“One powerful reason that Catholic educators [and parents] should select enduring works of literature is because literature has the potential to break students free from the culture and circumstances that may bind and/or blind them.”

While today’s school libraries are the repository of books of all flavors, Catholic parents have a resource to turn to which serves as an age-appropriate reading guide for both parents and educators. The Cardinal Newman Society’s “Selected Reading List for Catholic K-12 Schools” is based on the authors’ “experience as educators and Catholic school administrators, and by consulting sources including schools recognized by the Cardinal Newman Society’s Catholic Education Honor Roll for their commitment to strong Catholic identity.” While the list is not exhaustive, it provides a sound resource for parents and teachers alike who wish to properly form their children in the Catholic worldview. The Selected Reading List for Catholic K-12 Schools” can be found at https://cardinalnewmansociety.org/selected-reading-list-for-catholic-k-12-schools/.

See also https://cardinalnewmansociety.org/classic-literature-rises-above-agendas-ideology/

Church Persecuted October 2, 2022

In spite of Church persecutions around the world, the Holy Trinity remains an active influence in the Church and the world today. On Sept. 19, we celebrated the feast of St. Januarius, a martyred archbishop of Naples who died around 305 A.D. At his death, a woman gathered some of his blood and placed it in two ampoules.

Reports dating back to 1389 indicate that three times a year, the blood liquefies: on the saint’s feast day (Sept. 19), the first Saturday of May, and Dec. 16, and later on the anniversary of the 1631 eruption of Mount Vesuvius. “In Neapolitan lore, the failure of the blood to liquefy signals war, famine, disease, or natural disasters.” This year, on Sept. 19th the blood liquefied. The Church believes that the blood miraculously liquefies in response to the dedication and prayers of the faithful. 

Usually on the given day, the Archbishop gathers one of the ampoules. Sometimes it takes minutes and sometimes hours to liquefy the solidified blood. He then rotates it sideways to show that it is a liquid. The Archbishop and the faithful then pray for St. Januarius to intercede for their needs. 

There is no scientific explanation for this phenomena. In some years, the blood did not liquefy. It did not liquefy in September 1939, 1940, 1943, 1973, 1980 nor in December 2016 and 2020.  These miracles are a means of giving us hope that the Holy Spirit is still with us in this world. St. Januarius is the patron saint of blood donors.

https://www.CatholicNewsAgency.com (Sept. 19, 2022)

Church Persecuted September 25, 2022

We have heard over the past few years of the elimination of freedoms and the forming of a socialist/Marxist form of government in Nicaragua with the rise of the dictatorship of President Daniel Ortega. Such eliminations of freedom have devastated a previously sound economy. The curtailing of religious freedoms in this predominantly Catholic country have been numerous. Here are some recent events:

On September 17th, the National Police of the city of Masaya “for reasons of public security” stated that Eucharistic processions and processions honoring the Blessed Virgin and saints can no longer take place.

In August, the regime would not allow a procession in honor of Our Lady of Fatima to proceed as part of a Marian Congress.

Several priests are currently imprisoned in El Chipotle, a Managua prison known for torturing its residents. Six priests from two dioceses are being held there. All but one were arrested on August 19 at the chancery in Matagalpa.

As previously reported, the Ortega government shut down the radio stations run by the Diocese of Matagalpa.

This past week we celebrated the martyrdom of Sts. Andrew Kim Tae-Gon, Paul Chong Ha-Sang, and companions. Although this persecution of the Church in Korea stymied its growth during the mid-nineteenth century, today it is alive and vibrant with a large Catholic population. Let us pray that the same will be true of Nicaragua…that one day these persecutions will cease and the Catholics will again embrace their faith as they have done for so many years.

https://www.CatholicNewsAgency.com (Sept. 18, 2022)


Church Persecuted September 18, 2022

Last week, we introduced Daniel Penneton’s article in The Atlantic “How Extremist Gun Culture is trying to Co-opt the Rosary” (8/14/2022). He writes that “the rosary has acquired a militaristic meaning for radical-traditional…Catholics.” He cites Pope Francis saying “There is no path to holiness…without spiritual combat.” He notes that Pope Francis endorses the use of the rosary as an “armament in that fight.” Cherry-picking quotes, he noted that the commander of the Swiss Guard called the rosary “the most powerful weapon that exists on the market.” 

Either Penneton’s article is written as a joke or written by someone who really doesn’t “get it.” Spiritual warfare is a real thing and, yes, our most potent weapon is the rosary. Last Sunday was surrounded by Marian feasts, the 8th being the Nativity of Mary, the 12th being the Most Holy Name of Mary, and the 15th being Our Lady of Sorrows. It’s a spiritual battle, one which is fought by three fingers moving over one bead after another, invoking Our Lady to “pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death.” In Spiritual Combat, Dom Lorenzo Scupoli writes in 1589 for us to “[a]ppeal to the Blessed Virgin herself, reminding her of her commission…to be the Mother of Mercy and the refuge of sinners….” Let us use our weapons (either concealed or open) to fight Satan and all his evil minions.

Church Persecuted September 11, 2022

The Spiritual Combat was written by Dom Lorenzo Scupoli first published in 1589. It was one of the favorite books of St. Francis de Sales. It is said that he carried a copy around with him wherever he went, recommending that it be read by all. The name has been synonymous with warfare against Satan. The Church uses sacramentals “in order to achieve through merits of the faithful certain effects, mainly a spiritual nature” (Fr. John Harden’s, Pocket Catholic Dictionary). One of these sacramentals is the Rosary, that weapon which repelled the Moslems at Lepanto in 1571. It was also mentioned by Our Blessed Lady at Fatima and at Lourdes. Again and again Catholics turn to the rosary for a multitude of needs as we fight the spiritual war against Satan and his minions. Christ tells Pilate, “My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kinship is not from the world” (John 18:36). Yet after these relatively well-known events of history, Daniel Panneton writes in The Atlantic “How Extremist Gun Culture is Trying to Co-opt the Rosary” (8/14/2022). He writes that “the rosary has acquired a militaristic meaning for radical-traditional…Catholics.” He cites parallels between carrying the rosary and carrying a gun. Even noting that Catholic “cyber-militia” are armed with rosary (both open-carry as religious sisters wearing a rosary openly or concealed-carry with everyday Catholics carrying it in their pockets or purses) campaigning against LGBTQ, against abortion, and other radical socialistic ideals. (Continued next week)

Church Persecuted September 4, 2022

He was only a tailor in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II. The Nazi regime had already “killed a third of the Polish clergy, sent thousands of priests and religious into concentration camps, and outlawed education in the faith…” Without any formal training in theology and putting his own life at risk, Jan Tyranowski formed Living Rosary groups that he ran from his own apartment. He recognized the need to pass on the faith to the younger generation and began by instructing several young men. In Witness to Hope, George Weigel writes that during one of these Living Rosary meetings, the Nazi’s showed up at the door, “but he evidently convinced the raiders that no conspiracy was afoot and the Germans left” (p. 59-62). This underground prayer group might seem somewhat insignificant within the context of world history, but at least ten of the men involved later became priests. Consider for a moment where we would be today if Tyranowski decided he was too busy, or not smart enough theologically, or was too fearful to form these Living Rosary groups. “Indeed, the world might be a very different place today: we might not have had a Saint John Paul II,” for Karol Wojtyla was one of those priests! The Church relied on laypeople to pass on the Faith via underground catechetical groups. and Jan Tyranowski decided to give it his best during this time of crisis. As a result, he played “a crucial part in forming one of the most influential people the world has ever known.” (The Art of Living, Edward Sri, 2021, pg. 116-117)

Church Persecuted August 28, 2022

Early on August 20, the Diocese of Matagalpa in Nicaragua  announced that Bishop Rolando Álvarez and his companions had been taken into custody by the Daniel Ortega regime. The bishop (as of this writing) is being held in house arrest at the home of one of his relatives while others are being held in a detention center, “notorious among human rights advocates for inhumane  treatment of suspected criminals.” Prior to that, he had been detained with others in his chancery since August 5th while being investigated for “inciting violence.” During the time of the house arrest in the chancery building, the Ortega regime was attempting to negotiate the exile of Bishop Álvarez but he refused to leave his diocese. The “house arrest” comes amid a crackdown of activities of the Catholic Church to include the arrests of priests and the shutting down of Catholic radio stations. The Diocese of Matagalpa had been the center of persecution of Catholics by the police. While in the chancery, Bishop Álvarez live-streamed daily Mass and rosary along with catechesis and hymns.  After the Thursday evening Mass (on the 18th) prior to Bishop Álvarez’s removal from the chancery, one of the chancery co-detainees, Father Ramiro Tijerino prayed,  “It is hard for us Nicaraguans to sit down and talk with someone who thinks differently, who has a different ideology, a different religion. Help us Holy Spirit find paths of understanding, paths of peace, paths [of] harmony, so we can all find unity.” Sound familiar? (Www.pillar.com) 8/19/22 “Nicaraguan Bishop Álvarez of Matagalpa arrested”

Church Persecuted August 21, 2022

This column had recently reported on the terrorist attack at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Owo, in southwest Nigeria on Pentecost. Recently, the government confirmed the arrest of at least seven individuals in connection with the attack, although none have yet been charged. One was a high-ranking member of the so-called Islamic State in West Africa Province, which is a breakaway faction of Boko Haram, a group that was initially blamed for the attack. They attacked the church on June 5, killing at least 40 and injuring many others. 

Some of the assailants sat through Mass pretending to be worshipers and then touched off the attack toward the end of the Mass, detonating explosives and spraying bullets throughout the congregation. The attack lasted between 20-25 minutes.

An 8-hour drive east of Owo is St. Francis Xavier Parish in Agagbe. They have been told by the governor that a 500-man armed militia will help defend their community from radical Islamic bandits who are attacking farms and villages in this breadbasket of Nigeria. Thousands who have been uprooted from their homes by attacks in surrounding towns and villages in recent years have sought refuge near St. Francis parish, which oversees a network of dozens of Catholic churches in the diocese of Makurdi. On a broader scale, more than 1 million people have been displaced and about 80% are being cared for by the Makurdi diocese.

Catholicnewsagency.com 8/12/22 “Catholic Parish in Nigeria struggles to feed thousands uprooted by violent attacks.”


Catholicnewagency.com 8/12/22 “Arrests made in Nigeria Pentecost massacre.”

Church Persecuted July 24, 2022

July 25th is the 54th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, the encyclical issued by Pope Saint Paul VI enunciating the evils of contraceptives and suggesting that couples wishing to avoid a pregnancy practice abstinence during the fertile times of the month. When the document was issued, the secular press immediately attacked it. Before the ink was dry on the document, the Baltimore Sun gathered 55 young priests together in the basement of a rectory to discuss the encyclical. Their purpose was to publish a story the next day saying that 100% of the priests polled signed a document opposing the encyclical. The only problem was that one priest refused to sign the document. He did so for two reasons: (1) he had not read the document (and neither had any of the other priests), and (2) he supported the findings of the encyclical. 

“The leader of the dissenters tried several times, using strong, coercive tactics and verbal abuse, to change the mind of the priest. None of the priests came to his defense. Rather than the scorecard reading 55-0. It was 54-1.” 

The priest moved from Baltimore to become a bishop, an archbishop, and then a cardinal.  He was the keynote speaker at a conference in Omaha celebrating the 25th anniversary of the encyclical, where he told his story. Archbishop J. Francis Stafford described the surrounding days, weeks, months, and years after Humanae Vitae and the persecution he felt throughout his priestly life because he would not go along to get along. Read the full story at the link below.

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

Church Persecuted July 17, 2022

On June 21, the Biden administration proposed radical changes to the implementing regulations to Title IX – the law that originally was designed to prevent discrimination against women. Some of you may recall that it was Title IX that required colleges and universities to have equal number of men’s and women’s sports. Over the years it required institutions of higher education to set up procedures to adjudicate assault claims against women. During the Obama administration, these were sometimes little more than “kangaroo courts” where defendants were not given the opportunity to counsel. The Trump administration changed that by offering more protections for those accused of sexual harassment and assault on college campuses, and it limited the definition of sexual misconduct. 

Unless a school specifically asks for a religious exemption from aspects of Title IX (there is a limited provision in the law), all schools that take federal funds (yes, including grade and high schools) fall under it, including Catholic schools. 

The new regulations undo the Trump changes and broaden the definition of sex discrimination to include gender discrimination focusing on so-called “transgender” and “non-binary” students. (Note, Bishop Burbidge in his excellent pastoral letter on the transgender problem issued last summer noted that “there is no such a thing as a transgender person.”) This would give students who define their gender as something other than the gender they were born with legal ammunition to file a Title IX complaint against anyone (another student, faculty or staff member). This places Catholic schools in a position where they either comply with these new regulations or lose federal funding.   

Church Persecuted July 10, 2022

While newspapers are blaring headlines of the massive numbers of murders in the streets of cities such as Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York, and the mass murders in town and cities across the U.S., the continued murdering and kidnapping of Christians in Nigeria are not making the front pages of the newspapers and internet sites.   Several weeks ago, we wrote here about the murder of over 50 Catholics attending Pentecost Sunday Mass in southwestern Nigeria. A local update to this report comes from the Institute of Catholic Culture (ICC), an educational institute located here in the diocese, where an online bioethics course is in progress with several of our parishioners in attendance. The ICC reports that several of those taking the course were victims of this attack on Pentecost.   Terrorists struck again on June 19th at Maranatha Baptist Church and Saint Moses Catholic Church located in the state of Kaduna, in central Nigeria. The attackers kidnapped 46 people (mostly from the Baptist Church) and killed three (from the Catholic Church). The terrorists arrived on motorcycles, surrounding both churches and ransacking local businesses while taking the hostages. The attackers normally hold hostages until a random is paid. It is presumed that Fulani Muslims are responsible for this attack.   (www.aciafrica.org, 6.20.22, “Catholic, Baptist Churches in Kaduna State, Nigeria, Attacked During Sunday Worship.”  

Church Persecuted July 3, 2022

While everyone was giving thanks for the recent Dobbs decision overturning Roe and Casey, a significant religious freedom decision was released this past Monday. The story is simple: Coach Joe Kennedy from Bremerton, WA, would quietly go onto the field and offer a prayer after each football game. He was fired from his coaching position at Bremerton High School and he filed suit. The 6-3 Supreme Court decision was written by Justice Neil Gorsuch who said, “The Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment protect an individual engaging in a personal religious observance from government reprisal.”  He went on to say that the Constitution “neither mandates nor permits the government to suppress such religious expression.”    Yet another example of a government school overreach, the school district told him that he could no longer pray even though it was for “an average of 8 – 12 seconds.”  No parent or student complained about the prayer, and as Kennedy said, “He made a covenant with God that he would thank him in prayer at the 50-yard line at the end of every game.”   This decision has broad ramifications in government school education in that a teacher or coach does not surrender their First Amendment rights when they enter the classroom, gym, or athletic field.  As the Court concluded, “Respect for religious expressions is indispensable to life in a free and diverse Republic. Here a government entity sought to punish an individual for engaging in a personal religious observance, based on a mistaken view that it has a duty to suppress religious observances even as it allows comparable secular speech. The Constitution neither mandates nor tolerates that kind of discrimination.”  

Church Persecuted June 26, 2022

While waiting for the Dobbs Supreme Court decision, we should not miss another significant religious liberty opinion handed down by the U S. Supreme Court this week. The case involved the state of Maine which, unlike most other states, fewer than 50% of their school districts (called school administrative units) have a government secondary education school of their own. The state government grants money (tuition assistance) to the parents in those area without a high school so that they can send their children to a private school. Under the program though, parents who sent their children to a religious school were not eligible for the grant money. The Court ruled that to be unconstitutional, by a 6-3 decision.

Chief Justice Roberts wrote the majority opinion, stating that “Maine’s ‘nonsectarian’ requirement for its otherwise generally available tuition violates the Free Exercise Clause” of the Constitution. “Regardless of how the benefit and restriction are described, the program operates to identity and exclude otherwise eligible schools on the basis of their religious exercise.”

This case is somewhat expected based on a decision of two years ago in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue which held that the state may not exclude families and schools from participating in student-aid programs because of the school’s religious status. While this opinion only impacts a few thousand students, it could have a much more significant impact as the court continues to establish or relax the boundaries between church and state.

(The Epoch Times, 6/21/22, “Supreme Court Strikes Down Maine’s Ban on Funding for Religious Schools”)

Church Persecuted June 19, 2022

Two weeks ago, we focused on the vandalism and theft of a 19th century tabernacle and the desecration of consecrated hosts at a church in Brooklyn in late May. This is not an isolated incident, but a continuing trend of Catholic Church attacks since the U.S. Supreme Court leak of the draft abortion decision. Here’s a rundown of other recent events:

Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in LA was disrupted on May 8 by female protestors dressed in red gowns and large white hats shouting slogans.

St. John XXIII parish in Fort Collins, CO was smeared with graffiti on May 7 with pro-abortion slogans. The same slogans appeared at Sacred Heart Parish in Boulder a few days prior.

On May 7, the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in lower Manhattan, NY had protesters disrupt their monthly pro-life procession from the church to a nearby Planned Parenthood clinic. The pastor of the parish has received numerous threats to bomb the church or burn it down.

The tabernacle at St. Bartholomew the Apostle Catholic Church in Katy, Texas was stolen on May 9.

Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Houston had “Pro-choice is pro-life” sprayed on it on May 8.

These are only attacks on Catholic institutions, the citation below also contains several attacks or protests at pro-life pregnancy resource centers, right-to-life offices, and Supreme Court justices’ homes.

(see www.catholicnewagency.com May 10, 2022 “Catholics under attack: Incidents since SCOTUS draft abortion decision, by state.”)

Church Persecuted (June 12, 2022)

Last Sunday in Owo, Nigeria, over 50 Catholics, both adults and children, were gunned down by masked gunmen during the celebration of Mass for Pentecost. The massacre occurred at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church located in Ondo State, in Southwest Nigeria. The attackers detonated explosives and sprayed bullets to maximize the loss of life.  

While no group has claimed responsibility (as of this writing), much of the terrorist activity in Nigeria is due to a radical Fulani herdsmen terrorist group, which has been involved in religious violence leading to direct attacks on Christians and kidnappings. They are believed to be responsible for thousands of deaths in central Nigeria. While the Fulani are Muslim, some analysts say that religion is only one reason why the radical Fulani’s kill, kidnap, and molest Christians, even though in the past they have been linked to Boko Haram and other jihadist groups. The Fulani people are primarily nomadic herdsmen and they “constitute an ethnic minority in every country they occupy.” The geopolitics between Fulani and Christians is complex but it amounts to the former needing grazing lands that the Christians own. Thus, the attacks in rural Christian farming communities.

This southern sector of Nigeria has been relatively peaceful over the years, with most of the attacks occurring in the northern states. Ondo has been known as one of Nigeria’s more peaceful states. Recently though, these attacks have been spreading south, where more favorable cattle grazing conditions exist. Often violent clashes occur over dwindling farmland in the region.

https://www.pillarcatholic.com/p/who-are-the-fulani-herdsmen-a-nigerian?s=w

Church Persecuted (June 5, 2022)

Burglars broke into St. Augustine’s Catholic Church in Brooklyn, NY and removed the 19th century 14-carat gold tabernacle valued at over $2 million and scattered the consecrated hosts over the altar. The thieves used power tools to extract the tabernacle from their mounting and destroyed parts of the security system to hide their antics, taking with them the entire recording system.

The exact timing of the theft is unknown but, according to the pastor, it occurred sometime after 6:30 p.m. Thursday May 26th and 4:00 p.m. Saturday May 28th. According to the parish bulletin, the weekday Masses are on Monday – Thursday with no morning Mass on Friday or Saturday. The church is open for prayer from 8:30 – 11:30 a.m. Monday – Thursday.

“This is devastating, as the Tabernacle is the central focus of our church outside of worship, holding the Body of Christ, the Eucharist, which is delivered to the sick and homebound,” reported Father Frank Tumino, pastor of St. Augustine.

“To know that a burglar entered the most sacred space of our beautiful Church and took great pains to cut into a security system is a heinous act of disrespect,” Tumino said.

Churches are now spending money to create and harden security systems to protect their sacred spaces.

https://abc7ny.com/tabernacle-catholic-church-brooklyn-park-slope/11906211/

Church Persecuted 31 May 22

One of the not-so-subtle benefits of a Catholic education is that a student can express his/her beliefs about religion and truth in the classroom and beyond. This is not true of a government school in which many discussions about religion and religious beliefs are off-limits because they may offend another student.  There are ways of getting around it, though. Sometimes a situation presents itself whereby a student (or in this case a speaker) has an opportunity to present the truth (in this case the fact that there is such a thing as truth). In 2017 Camile Pauley, the CEO of Healing the Culture, was invited to debate, Professor Malcolm Potts, at a public health seminar at UC Berkeley. After Dr. Potts argued that there is no such thing as absolute truth, Mrs. Pauley asked him what he was leaning against. He said, of course, a podium. She quipped, “How do you know that if there is no truth.” The audience laughed but they then focused their attention on Mrs. Pauley and allowed her to defend the teaching on the dignity of the human person.  Having non-threatening questions or responses in one’s “back pocket” becomes a valuable tool  when facing situations whereby the speaker or teacher is clearly presenting an unreasonable argument. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1vciWcxL-k

Church Persecuted 22 May 22

In his “Pastor’s Corner” last week, Father DeCelles reported the plight of Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, SDB, the 90-year old emeritus Bishop of Hong Kong who was arrested by Chinese communist security forces for his pro-democracy advocacy.  Last week, The Catholic University of America awarded an honorary degree to Catholic media leader and friend of Cardinal Zen, Jimmy Lai. His son, Sebastian Lai, accepted the award for him.Jimmy is serving a 13-month prison term for his pro-democracy protests. Hong Kong, previously a British colony and then a democratically-run republic separate from communist China, was “annexed” by China as part of the treaty, but with the provision that it would be allowed to operate independent of the communist rule in the rest of China. There is now a totalitarian regime in control of the city. What does it mean to be “totalitarian”? Totalitarian regimes are those in which one party runs the government, controls the legislature and the courts, and most importantly, suppresses all forms of dissent. Jimmy Lai is a prominent human rights advocate. While arrested many times for his activities, most recently he was arrested for his pro-democracy protest as “an act of defiance and protest against the police.” He was charged after attending the annual vigil in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square commemorating the 1989 massacre of protesters there. As Father De Celles reported, “As bad as the ‘soft-persecution’ we encounter in the U.S., it’s much worse in other parts of the world.” Let us pray for Cardinal Zen and Jimmy Lai. https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/catholic-university-of-america-honors-imprisoned-hong-kong-human-rights-activist/?utm_source=top_news&utm_campaign=usa

Church Persecuted May 15

Many have traveled to Philadelphia to tour or go on pilgrimage to view the great shrines and saints of the city. Many have viewed the statue of St. John Neuman, the fourth bishop of Philadelphia and one of the early prelates instrumental in establishing the Catholic parochial school system in the U.S. Today there is only the outline of what was the statue, since it was recently severely damaged by vandals. The statue, located at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, was damaged by an attack of either rocks or bottles. The head and arms were detached and chipped in places. The outline of the statue is all that remains.  The basilica staff has removed the status from public view and is determining how and when it can be restored. Father Dennis Gill, the rector at the Cathedral, believes that the incident “is an example of a larger crisis gripping the city.” He said that “That type of violence that we see against human life, as horrific as that is, spills over into all kinds of other destructive behaviors. And the vandalism of this shrine was unnecessary destructive action.” (https://youtube.com/shorts/Py-miD4tqsY?feature=share)

Church Persecuted May 8

Last Monday, there was a 9-0 win at the U.S. Supreme Court for religious freedom. The case (Shurtleff v. Boston) rejected the city of Boston’s claim that allowing a Christian flag to fly at City Hall was an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment establishment clause.   There are three flag poles outside City Hall in Boston. One flies the American flag and a second flies the Massachusetts state flag. The third flies the city flag, but the city allows private organizations to fly their flag on that pole. Over the past years, 50 unique flags (representing various countries, political positions, cultural beliefs, and ethnicities) were raised on that pole at 284 ceremonies. The petitioners, Herald Shurteff, who directs Camp Constitution, “asked to hold an event on the plaza to celebrate the civic and social contributions of the Christian community, as part of the ceremony, he wished to raise what he described as a ‘Christian flag.’” The city declined the request because it felt that allowing the Christian flag to fly would be the government supporting a religion – violation of the establishment clause. On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled otherwise. The Court held that since Boston told the public “that it sought ‘to accommodate all applicants’ who wished to hold events at Boston’s ‘public forums,’ including City Hall Plaza,”  then Boston lacks a “meaningful involvement in the selection of flags or the crafting of their messages.” The Court deemed  “the third-party flag raising as private, not government, speech.” 

Church Persecuted May 1

Christian persecutions continued after the death and resurrection of Christ. From Easter to Pentecost, we are reading the Acts of the Apostles, a first-hand account of the early days of the Church in Jerusalem. We read that Peter and John were arrested and put into custody because the Jewish leaders were “annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead” (Acts 4:2). After listening to the apostles and ‘finding no way to punish them,” they let them go (Acts 4:21). Later the high priests “arrested the apostles and put them in a common prison.” The apostles were let out that night by an angel (Act 5:17-18), after which they were brought before the counsel again. This time the Jewish leaders charged them not to teach in the name of Jesus (Acts 5:27), Peter and the apostles talked their way out of confinement by telling the leaders that they were only preaching what they were witnessing and that, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Finally, Stephen was arrested and then later stoned, becoming the first Christian martyr (Acts 6:8 – 7). The persecution of Christians is nothing new, dating back to the very first days of the Church. This is a good time to pull out the Bible and read Acts, following along from the early days of the Church through to the travels of Paul. As our candidates for Confirmation begin their final preparation for the sacrament, read first-hand what happened to the Apostles after their Confirmation – fearlessly proclaiming the Gospel.   

Church Persecuted April 24

“A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience.”(CCC 1790). Yet Politico is reporting that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is about to issue new rules requiring medical personnel to participate in  activities such as abortions, sterilizations, “gender-affirming care,” even if the medical personnel involved deem that such actions violate their well-informed consciences, and the procedures violate their religious and moral beliefs. (“Biden admin to rescind Trump ‘conscience’ rule for health workers” 4/19/2022) This has been a political football being bounced back and forth depending upon which political party is in the White House. In the latest actions, the Trump administration promulgated rules protecting the conscious decisions of medical personnel performing such procedures. Immediately after taking office, President Biden announced that he intended to rescind the rules. Now, the long-anticipated rules concerning the removal of the conscience protection are due out in the coming days. Here is an example: if a patient entered a pro-life OB-GYN facility and demanded an abortion, which at this time is still not against the law, the physicians could refuse to perform it because the procedure violates their well-informed consciences. Same applies to a pharmacist who refused to distribute birth control or abortion-causing medication, physicians being required to perform gender-altering surgery, or provide assisted suicide medication. If the Biden administration has its way, these protections will end. 

Church Persecuted April 17:

Today is Easter Sunday, commemorating the most extraordinary event in the life of the most significant single person ever to live. Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. The empty tomb and evidence of the Shroud of Turin provide the physical facts of His resurrection. The Biblical evidence has Jesus appearing to over 500 during the next weeks.  The Church transforms from the somber Lenten color of violet to the glorious colors of gold and white. “Gloria to God in the Highest” and “Alleluia” are intoned after being absent during Lent. Families dress in their Easter best for Mass, perhaps join    an Easter egg hunt, and then Easter dinner. But what about the rest of the world? The secular world continues with business as usual. Sporting events, professional, amateur and youth, continue. Few businesses are closed on Good Friday. Stores are open. Few signs of Easter occur outside of Church. Governments prevent Christians from erecting signs and symbols of the death and resurrection of the Redeemer of the world on government property. Secular schools generally celebrate “Spring break” to coincide with Easter (but not this year in Fairfax County), just as “Winter break” always coincides with Christmas. Don’t dare call it Easter (or Christmas) break.  We live in a post-Christian world. Let us use these octave days of Easter to join with our families, friends, and community to publicly celebrate this extraordinary event of 2000 years ago. Jesus Christ rose from the dead. 

Church Persecuted April 10


Today is Palm Sunday, commemorating the day on which Jesus Christ came to Jerusalem for His final days to institute the Eucharist, to be condemned to death, to be crucified, and then gloriously rise from the dead after three days in the tomb.
We now continue last week’s reflection on the weight of the cross being multiplied by the weight of the sins of the whole world, which caused such a painful experience for Our Lord and Savior. This agony was compounded by the physical suffering at His scourging, His crowning with thorns, His standing before Pilate to be mocked and then condemned to death at the chants of the Jewish leaders. Then He struggled to Calvary, falling three times, carrying a heavy wooden cross, was nailed to it and then hung on it for three hours before bowing His head and dying. Such persecution endured by one man for the sins of all of mankind.
As St. Alphonse Ligouri writes in his Way of the Cross, 
“O, my dying Jesus, I kiss devoutly the cross on which you died for love of me. I have merited by my sins to die a miserable death; but your death is my hope. Ah, by the merits of your death, give me grace to die, embracing your feet, and burning with love for you. I yield my soul into your hands.
“I love you, O my Jesus, with my whole heart; I repent of having offended you. Never permit me to separate myself from you again. Grant that I may love you always; and then do with me what you will.”

Church Persecuted April 3rd:

For the next two Sundays let us reflect on the most intense persecution undergone by any one person in history – the persecution of Christ from His agony to his death. After instituting the Eucharist, Christ moved to the Garden of Gethsemane where He knelt in agony, sweating both blood and water as the weight of our sins fell on His shoulders. While the persecution of Christ outwardly consisted of the intense physical suffering of His scourging, crowning, journey to Calvary, and death, below the surface was the suffering endured in reparation for the sins of the entire human race.  Think of  how we feel when we seriously sin and the remorse that we must endure prior to confessing it in the sacrament of Penance. Imagine the intense suffering that Christ must have experienced as he felt the weight of all of the sins committed from Adam and Eve’s first sin to those committed throughout history past, present, and future. Our persecution of Christ was very personal as He suffered His agony for our sins. As St. Alphonse Ligouri writes in his Way of the Cross, “My adorable Jesus, it was not Pilate, no, it was my sins that condemned you to die. I beseech you, by the merits of this sorrowful journey, to assist my soul in its journey toward eternity.” 


Church Persecuted March 27th:

Polish Catholics have sprung into action in a massive way to assist the flood of persecuted Ukrainian refugees who have entered their country due to the Russian invasion of the Ukrainian homeland. Catholic News Agency reports (“Poland’s Catholics dig deep to help Ukrainian refugees,” Mar 22, 2022) that Caritas Poland, the country’s largest charity, has raised at least $20 million as of March 21st and have sent 500 aid trucks into Ukraine, and have organized thousands of meals each day for the refugees.  Poland, primarily Roman Catholic, shares a 332-mile border with Ukraine, which is primarily Eastern Orthodox. As of March 21, over 2.1 million refugees have entered Poland, the largest number to enter any of the countries surrounding Ukraine. Catholic Churches in Poland raised $7.5 million in parish collections on Feb 27 and March 2. Almost all of the 10,000 Catholic parishes in the country are supporting refugees in Church buildings, monasteries and convents, seminaries, and Caritas centers.  Ukrainian families have found shelter even in the Bishop’s Palace in Kraków, the home of Pope Saint John Paul II when he resided there as bishop. More than 100 people, including 50 children, are staying at the houses associated with the shrine of the “Black Madonna” at Jasna Góra, Poland’s largest and most venerated shrine. The trucks and buses sent to Ukraine are carrying aid in and bringing refugees out. In the largest humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II, the Catholic Church is again at the forefront, “engaged in the work that we uphold.”

Church Persecuted March 20th:

Religion is not taking a back seat in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. History has already told us (by their previous land grabs in Ukraine), that Russia will impose one and only one religion on the Ukrainian people—The Russian Orthodox Church. Its leader, Patriarch Kirill, has long been an ally of President Putin and  recently expressed his support of their invasion. Since Russian-backed separatists took control of the Donbas region of Ukraine in 2014, “adherents of faiths that are not affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church remain subject to persecution.” In Luhansk, certain hymnals and bibles were banned. Throughout the region, believers could be punished for gathering to worship without permission, and churches were raided without cause. After Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, properties of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (not affiliated with Moscow) were either confiscated, damaged, or destroyed. Jehovah Witnesses were targeted. The only churches that were permitted were those affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church. The Family Research Council reports that Russian president Putin sees religion as part of his foreign policy. In a speech as the Russian invasion began, he said that Ukraine was “‘an inalienable part of our own history, culture, and spiritual space.’ To define Ukraine as belonging to Russia’s ‘spiritual space’…signals the extent to which Putin is eager to reassert the Russian Orthodox Church’s influence in Ukraine, and by extension, the Kremlin’s influence.” This is the price of Ukraine’s freedom of religion. See “Russian Victory Would Mark End of Religious Freedom in Ukraine” March 7, 2022 (www.frc.org)

Church Persecuted March 13th:

On March 7, 2022, The Catholic News Agency reported that the Knights of Columbus, in a “defining moment,” began providing humanitarian aid to the Ukrainians as Ukraine was being attacked by Russian military forces. In Ukraine, there are 40 Knight councils consisting of some 2000 members. When Russian forces launched their attack, the Knights sprang into action. As refugees were moving from Ukraine into Poland and other countries, the Knights moved in the other direction. Manned by Knight volunteers, a truck drove from eastern Poland into western Ukraine. This shuttle provided medical supplies, food, and clothing to Lviv. Once in Lviv, Ukrainian Knights disbursed the food and supplies. Additionally, a second project took place on the Polish side of the border where a Knights of Columbus Mercy Center provided refugees with “respite, food, water, shelter, communication support,” and a place to stay until Polish friends or family can meet them and bring them to their final destination. Funding for this aid was provided by the Knights’ Ukraine Solidarity fund, which has raised $2 million from their members and another $1 million from the headquarters. The $3.5 million in aid is being applied directly toward this humanitarian assistance. Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly said that they were working closely with the Greek Catholic Archdiocese in Ukraine and with the Latin Archdiocese in Lviv ensuring that the assistance “goes to where it needs to go.” https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/250595/supreme-knight-of-columbus-patrick-kelly-ukraine-war

Church Persecuted March 6th:

Destruction of Catholic Church property continues. St. Anthony of Padua Elementary School in Parma, OH, was the latest site of arson and destruction of Catholic Church property. The parish’s statue of St. Anthony of Padua was vandalized a few weeks ago and then on February 19th, an arsonist torched the school, causing upwards of $1 million in damages to the basement and several of the classrooms on the first floor. While there is no indication that the two crimes are connected, it is apparent that this is a continued display of criminal acts targeting Catholic churches, shrines, and schools.Classes were canceled for at least a week and a cash reward is set up for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the arsonist(s). Additionally, in San Antonio, Texas, a 300-pound concrete statue of the Holy Family turned up missing from the parish grounds on February 17th. This had to have been the work of several individuals since the statue was so heavy. These attacks are added to the ever expanding list of attacks on Catholic institutions that have been outlined in this column over the past several weeks. https://catholicvote.org/ohio-catholic-school-set-ablaze/

Church Persecuted February 27th:

Religious freedom in America is in a sad state as vandalism at Catholic churches around the nation has increased this past year. Here’s a tabulation of the latest incidents of vandalism at Catholic Churches in America. See last week’s bulletin for start of the list.Sep. 29/Aug 20 – Statues of Jesus vandalized (St. Martha Catholic Church, Miami Shores, FL)Sep. 29 – Windows broken and exterior spray painted with pro-abortion messages (Sacred Heart of Mary Catholic Church, Boulder, CO)Sep. 23 – Stained glass windows smashed (St. Peter Armenian Apostolic Church, Van Neys, CA)Sep. 5 – Graffiti on church door and signs (St. Louis Catholic Church, Louisville, CO)Sep. 2 – Exterior of church and parish hall vandalized with paint (St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, Jay, ME)Aug. 17 – Statue vandalized (St. Michael’s Church, Flushing, NY)Aug. 9 – Virgin Mary statue vandalized (Immaculate Conception of Blessed Mary Church, Bronx, NY)Aug 6 – Doors vandalized (St. Benedict Catholic Church, Seattle, WA)Jul. 17 – Statues smashed (Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church, Forest Hills, NY)Jul/Jun – Three churches vandalized by fire and graffiti (St. Francis of Assisi, St. Patrick, St. Andrew Catholic Churches, Portland, OR)Jul 8 – Fire set in bell tower (St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Los Angeles, CA)Jul 7 – Statue of Jesus covered with red paint (Basilica of St. Lawrence, Asheville, NC)https://www.usccb.org/committees/religious-liberty/Backgrounder-Attacks-on-Catholic-Churches-in-US#tab–_021

Church Persecuted February 20th:

Religious freedom in America is in a sad state as vandalism at Catholic churches around the nation has increased this past year. Here is a tabulation of the latest incidents of vandalism at Catholic Churches in America.Jan. 26, 2022 – Statues vandalized (Nativity Church, Burke, VA) (see 2/6/22 column)Jan. 14 – Tabernacle vandalized, money stolen (St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, Fresno, CA)Dec. 2021 – 3 incidents of vandalism and Christmas decorations stolen (Mary Mother of God Catholic Church, Hillsborough, NJ)Dec. 7 – Statue of Our Lady of Fatima vandalized (Basilica of National Shrine of Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC)Nov. 25-29 – Windows smashed and statues toppled (St. Peter’s Catholic Church, DeLand, FL)Nov. 9 – Graffiti painted on walls (St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral, Chicago, IL)Nov. 5 – Graffiti on exterior of Catholic mission (Mission San Jose, Fremont, CA)Nov. 1 – Statue decapitated (St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, Fargo, ND)Oct. 24 – Fire set to parish office (St. Charles Borromeo, Tacoma, WA)Oct. 22 – Swastika painted on pillar in church parking lot (Annunciation Catholic Church, Washington, DC)Oct 21 – Hateful messages spray-painted on wall of church (American Martyrs Catholic Church, Manhattan Beach, CA)Oct. 11 – Graffiti on exterior wall of residence (Arrupe Jesuit Residence, Seattle U, Seattle, WA)Oct. 11 – Paint splattered over the exterior of church (St. Peter Italian Catholic Church, Los Angeles, CA)Oct. 10 – Windows broken and exterior vandalized with spray paint (St. Edward Church, Seattle, WA)Oct. 10 – Hateful messages and graffiti sprayed on exterior wall and door (Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, Denver, CO)(Continued next week)https://www.usccb.org/committees/religious-liberty/Backgrounder-Attacks-on-Catholic-Churches-in-US#tab–_021

Church Persecuted February 13, 2022-

Pro-abortion advocates have increased their presence and rhetoric at respect life events. On January 20, the pro-abortion group, Catholics for Choice, projected anti-life slogans onto the façade of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception during the vigil Mass and Holy Hour prior to the March for Life. About 100 demonstrators protested outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York during a Prayer Vigil for Life on January 22. These demonstrators, using language inappropriate for this column, were members of a group calling themselves New York City for Abortion Rights. They chanted insults and screamed vulgarities at those who were entering and exiting the Cathedral.  Among the publishable comments, prevalent chants included, “Thank God for abortion,” “Go home fascists, go home,” and “New York hates you” . They also projected anti-life messages on the façade of the Cathedral. Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan, noted during his homily that, “When a nation founded on the right to life and the equal protection of law for all life finds such violence to be legal, as it did 49 years ago today in legalizing abortion…that’s tragic. That’s not right. That’s not natural. That’s not the way God intended it. That’s not the way our country intended it.” As the nation is awaiting the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, those who respect human life can expect more of these demonstrations and protests. The organization demonstrating at St. Patrick’s handed out flyers to their group planning to disrupt a Witness for Life event on February 5. (Source: National Catholic Register, January 25, 2022)

Church Persecuted February 6, 2022 –

Around the world and close to home, persecution against Christians continues. In Pakistan, on January 30, 2022, an Anglican pastor and two additional clergymen driving home from a church service were ambushed by two gunmen on motorcycles. One is dead and another is wounded. The same church was attacked by suicide bombers in 2013;  85 people were killed  and more than 140 were wounded. Pakistan is among the top 10 worst countries on the World Watch List on the persecution of Christians. In Vietnam, Father Joseph Tran Ngoc Thanh, a Dominican priest, was stabbed to death while hearing confessions on January 29th prior to the evening Mass. The attacker has been arrested. Clearly not on the same level as a murderous ambush, but closer to home, 4.1 miles to be exact, Nativity Church in Burke experienced statue destruction in the parish garden on Wednesday, January 26th. Father Bob Cilinski, pastor of the parish, reported that the statues damaged where those of Our Lady and the three children she appeared to at Fatima. Bishop Burbidge called it a “tragic and senseless defacing of the sacred. Mary stands as a symbol of peace in a world that needs her now more than ever. I ask that others join me in prayer for the perpetrator, as any motive behind such an act reflects a troubled soul in need of Our Lord.” (Multiple sources) 

Church Persecuted January 30, 2022 – In his book, Under Siege, No Finer Time to be a Faithful Catholic, Austin Ruse offers three steps to act as Catholics in the face of persecution of the Church: “quiet and privately,” “flying the flag,” and “charging the sniper’s nest.” “Quietly and privately:” find a local lobby group which is fighting for the causes of the Church, pro-life organizations, anti-pornography organizations, organizations working to improve public education. Volunteer for them, send them a check each month, thank them for what they are doing. For pro-life work — pray at an abortion facility, support 40 Days for Life, attend the March for Life. Attend the lecture series on current issues at the parish. These require little effort on your part but make a difference. “Flying the flag:” Speak up. Put bumper stickers on your car. Don’t submit to the Left’s linguistic tricks. If a friend or relative is promoting unacceptable behavior, let them know that you respectfully disagree with them. Put others on the defensive. Take back the debate. “Charging the sniper’s nest:” As Ruse points out, this is not for the faint of heart. It consists of speaking out at school board meetings, writing letters to the editor, getting on the boards of groups fighting LGBT agendas and for the rights of unborn children. “It means coming out in the open and understand that the sniper will be firing at you. And you might get hit.” Arm yourself spiritually with a rosary a day, daily Mass when possible, spiritual readings, etc. There is no better time to be a Catholic than right now! 

Church Persecuted for January 23, 2022 – This Tuesday, January 25th, the Church celebrates the conversion of St. Paul. Saul, as he was known then, was an early persecutor of the Church and directed the early persecution of followers of Jesus. He was present at the stoning of St. Stephen, the first martyr (Acts 8:1-3). Times were tough back then. Christians were hiding in the catacombs as Roman emperors persecuted them one after another. Why? Because they were one of the fastest growing religions and they refused to worship the Roman gods. 

Imagine Ananias, who was told that Saul was coming to him and that he would be asked to help him (Acts 9:10-13). Granted Ananias received this instruction though a vision; but nonetheless, it was a humbling task to instruct Saul, now Paul, no longer the persecutor of Christians. Paul was converted because of the kindness and persistence of Ananias and others. Paul, who would become the public face of the Church to the Gentiles (non-Jews), began preaching, baptizing, and converting others. His actions led to growth in the Church at a time when Rome was persecuting Christians throughout his travels; he was imprisoned, shipwrecked, tortured, and finally martyred. 

In his book, Under Siege, No Finer Time to be a Faithful Catholic, Austin Ruse offers three steps for today’s Catholics facing persecution: “quiet and privately,” “flying the flag,” and “charging the sniper’s nest.” More on this next week.

 Church Persecuted for January 16 – January 21st is the annual Washington, DC March for Life. It is also the feast of St. Agnes who died a violent death because she was Catholic and because she refused to give up her virginity as she had consecrated herself to Christ. At 13, she was beautiful, very eligible for marriage, and Catholic dedicating herself to Christ. She could have easily escaped death by offering sacrifice to the Roman gods, but she didn’t. For that, her throat was slit.  January 20th, the anniversary of the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision, is also the feast of St. Sebastian. He, too, was a martyr of the early Church receiving his crown of glory during the persecution of the Emperor Diocletian. Sebastian was a Roman soldier who openly defied Diocletian by professing his Catholic faith. Legend has it that for that he was shot with arrows from his fellow soldiers and then bludgeoned to death when he recovered from the arrow wounds. What is not legendary is the fact that he was held in high esteem by many as he showed great courage during his martyrdom. We are not to the point of physical persecution because of our faith in the United States and hopefully will never be there. But let us recall the words of the late Cardinal George of Chicago, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.”  Let us pray for a conversion of hearts of those who feel justified in killing an unborn child and attempting to banish those who think otherwise.

Church Persecuted for January 9 – A litany of saints highlights many who died for their faith. These include St. Maximilian Kolbe and those unnamed who died in the German concentration camps, the unnamed Holy Innocents, and St. Thomas More and the many unnamed English martyrs. This list goes on and on. 2021 was no exception. The Vatican recently announced that worldwide, 22 missionaries were killed. This includes 13 priests, 1 religious man, 2 religious women, and 6 lay persons. 11 were killed in Africa and 7 in the Americas. All died in a violent way; many died because of the “hatred of the faith.”  All of them have names and in many ways the circumstances of their death were known.  What is missing from the list are those ordinary Catholics or even catechumens who died worldwide because of their faith. For example, Bishop Edward Kussala from the diocese of Tombura-Yambio in South Sudan lists 16 catechists, group leaders, pastoral workers killed in 2021 during armed clashes with radical Islamists. In Mexico, Michele Colosio, from Italy was shot and killed by a motorcyclist. He was a Catholic radiologist working to bring his talents to the poor of Central and South America.  Additionally, the Myanmar civil war has taken its toll on Catholics in the region. On Christmas Eve, at least 35 Catholics were gunned down by the military and their bodies set afire. As Cardinal Bo, the President of the Bishops’ Conference put it, “As the rest of the world celebrated the birth of Christ with joy, the people of Mo So village suffered death, shock, and destruction.”  Let us pray for those unnamed Catholics around the world who died because they were Catholic.https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/249997/vatican-agency-reveals-number-of-missionaries-murdered-around-the-world-during-2021

January 2, 2022 Church Persecuted

Last week we reported that the NCAA was about to propose a new constitution which would force out traditional Catholic colleges. In a remarkable turn of events, their governing board approved language which would protect the “traditional (i.e., truthful and rational) views of sexuality and gender.”  At issue was a clause in the constitution that would require all colleges and universities “comply with federal and state laws and local ordinances, including respect to gender equity, diversity and inclusion” without a religious exemption. This draft came about because of a campaign led by the radical Human Rights Campaign. Such efforts do violate the First Amendment’s Free Exercise of Religion Clause “if they interfere with religious colleges’ ability to conform to their religious beliefs.”  There was an extensive lobbying effort on the part of faithful Catholic institutions such as Benedictine College, The Catholic University of America, The University of Mary, and Walsh University among others, (and other Christian colleges) to urge the NCAA to “add another provision to its constitution, ensuring their rights to uphold their religious missions.”  Patrick Reilly, president of The Cardinal Newman Society, reported (see link below) that their efforts succeeded by adopting the language very similar to that proposed by the above institutions. “Consistent with the principle of institutional control, no provision in this Constitution should be construed to restrict or limit colleges and universities, public or private, from adopting or maintaining missions and policies consistent with their legal rights or obligations as institutions of higher learning.”  While the constitution still needs approval of the member schools, this is clearly a victory for religious freedom. https://www.ncregister.com/blog/down-to-the-buzzer-religious-colleges-score-with-ncaa

December 26, 2021 Church Persecuted

Will Catholic colleges and universities be forced out of the NCAA? That is the question facing Catholic institutions such as Belmont Abbey College, Benedictine College, The Catholic University, the University of Mary among others. Christian colleges who are members of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities CCCU) face the same dilemma. At issue is the new NCAA constitution which demands all member colleges and universities “comply with federal and state laws and local ordinances, including respect to gender equity, diversity and inclusion.” There is no religious exemption.  As Patrick Reilly, the president of the Cardinal Newman Society, writing in the National Catholic Register retorts, “This may seem harmless, to require compliance with the law. But then again, why is there a need to add such a provision, with reference to ‘gender equity, diversity and inclusion?’ There is an agenda here that threatens religious institutions.” The NCAA already has publicly stated that it “firmly and unequivocally supports the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports.” This means that your high school star cross country-running daughters may compete in college against washed out males who can’t make the men’s team, but would receive national recognition by changing genders. It has already happened in high school track in Connecticut and in swimming elsewhere.   Reilly has been working with Catholic colleges and the CCCU to propose a fix which would “recognize the distinctive and appropriate needs of religious colleges.” But as expected, it has fallen on deaf ears at the NCAA. https://www.ncregister.com/blog/will-the-ncaa-force-out-catholic-colleges

December 19, 2021 Church Persecuted

As we enter the last days before the celebration of the day when Jesus was brought into the world, let us recommit to keeping Christ in Christmas.  When folks wish us happy holidays, we respond with “Merry Christmas.” When our neighbors decorate their lawns with blow-up snowmen, Santas, or reindeer; let us decorate ours with manger settings, or at least a star or candle in a window to remind others of the real meaning of the season. As cars drive with reindeer antenna sticking out of windows, let us add a magnetic decal saying, “Keep Christ in Christmas.” As others have a full schedule of parties leading up to the “big day,” let us use this week for spiritual preparation with perhaps a daily Mass or two and definitely Confession.  Finally, let us commit to making the Mass on Christmas Day (or Eve) the highlight of the Christmas celebration, not forgetting the full Octave (8 days) of Christmas. Then, when everyone else is taking down their Christmas decorations to get ready for the next holiday (Valentine Day?), let us keep Christ in Christmas during the entire Christmas season, lasting beyond the Epiphany to the Presentation of Christ in the Temple celebrated on February 2nd. Merry Christmas!

December 12, 2021 Church Persecuted

Today is the traditional feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Her appearance to St. Juan Diego in 1531 sparked a renewal of Catholicism in Mexico, bringing about tens of thousands of conversions. Throughout the years, Mexico has been plagued by floods and disease. In 1723, a plague struck Mexico, lasting for 8 months with 700,000 deaths reported. Our Lady of Guadalupe was declared “Patroness of Mexico City” followed by prayers, and the plague ceased shortly thereafter. In 1979, during his first pilgrimage to Mexico City, Pope Saint John Paul II declared Our Lady of Guadalupe as “Mother of the Americas.” Today, the COVID pandemic has brought a decrease of Catholic church attendance. Pre-COVID, about 41% of Catholics attended church weekly, 41% less than weekly, and 18% never. Since COVID, that number has dropped to 36%, 35%, and 29%, respectively. (Survey commissioned by www.PillarCatholic.com and conducted among US adults 9/28-10/25/2021.) For comparison purposes, the attendance at Protestant/Christian churches pre-COVID, was 43% (weekly), 40% (less than weekly), and 17% (never). Post-COVID, those numbers became 29%, 35%, and 26%, respectively.  An analysis of these numbers begs the question of “what factors cause people to remain Catholic?” The survey also determined that two of the most important factors in whether people remain Catholic as adults are whether their parents took them to Mass regularly and if they attended Mass regularly in college.  Let us ask the intercession of Our Lady of Guadeloupe to help overturn these trends.

December 6, 2021 Church Persecuted

Advent is that beautiful season during which we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, true God and true man. We know for a fact that Jesus entered this world as a male child and was raised by a female mother and a male foster father. This is not a subjective ideology or political belief; it is an objective truth, a truth that has been imprisoned by the transgender cult. It is Christian children and their families who are especially singled out for rejecting “the claim that a person’s biological sex and personal identity have no necessary connection and could in fact contradict each other.”  On August 12, 2021, Bishop Burbidge published “A Catechesis on the Human Person & Gender Ideology.” It is possibly the best document on the subject written by a bishop to his faithful and clearly addresses the transgender ideology. It’s a blend of both science and religion and is a very worthwhile read during this Advent Season.  There was a brief surge in interest in the bishop’s document among the Catholic press, but then nothing! Many in the media don’t want us to know the truth, and they understand that if they bring attention, especially negative attention, to this document, it may well lead others to the truth about the dignity of the human person and cause a more vigorous Catholic uprising against such falsehoods. You can pick up a copy of the Catechesis in the vestibule at Church (while supplies last) or at https://www.arlingtondiocese.org/bishop/public-messages/2021/a-catechesis-on-the-human-person-and-gender-ideology/.

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

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

Posted July 2, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Posted July 1, 2020

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

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

Posted June 30, 2020:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Father Moloney vs. the Cult of Woke

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

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

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

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

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

Posted June 25, 2020

The Abolition of the Man and the Woman

Posted June 24, 2020:

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

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

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

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

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