Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

Dominican bishops encourage citizens to respect life at all stages

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Jul 13, 2018 / 03:50 pm (ACI Prensa).- The bishops' conference of the Dominican Republic published Wednesday a statement affirming the importance for the Church of forming persons to value and respect life in all its stages.

“The bishops, conscience of the challenges facing our society, consider the integral formation of a human being to permit him to value and to respect life in all its stages a very important challenge,” reads the July 11 statement from the Dominican bishops. The nation's episcopal conference had held a plenary assembly July 1-6.

The bishops' focus on respect for life comes as various groups, including the Christian Alliance of the Dominican Republic, press for the decriminalization of abortion in cases of the mother's life, fetal inviability, or rape.

Moreover, the bishops said there must be work done “so that the people do not let themselves be discouraged, because what the Church encourages is that we fight for all lives. We have reaffirmed, before science, law, and before God that no-one has the right to condemn to death an innocent, and much less an indefensible child.”

“We promote public policies, which rather than leading to death, are the foundation for defending all human rights, beginning with the first and most important: the life of all,” they exhorted.

The bishops also noted that they are anticipating the celebration of the 525th anniversary of the first known Mass to have been said in the Americas, on Epiphany in 1494.

That Mass was said during Columbus' second voyage to the New World, on the northern coast of Hispaniola, in what is now the Dominican Republic.

“The congresses, pilgrimages, and gatherings around this festivity demonstrate to us a Church which responds to its faith, despite the great challenges which continue regarding evangelizing and revealing the face of the love of God, amid a society seduced by evil, and the boredom of the realities which it suffers.”

 

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Beatification cause opens for Jesuit Pedro Arrupe, early mentor to Pope Francis

Vatican City, Jul 13, 2018 / 12:43 pm (CNA).- A cause has begun in the Diocese of Rome for the beatification of Fr. Pedro Arrupe SJ, former superior general of the Society of Jesus. The priest, who served as a mentor to the future Pope Francis, was a controversial figure within the Society of Jesus.

Jesuit Father General Fr. Arturo Sosa announced Arrupe’s cause at a meeting in Bilbao, Spain with some 300 Jesuits and lay associates involved with the International Association of Jesuit Universities.

The news was confirmed to CNA by the communications director for the Jesuit Curia in Rome, Fr. Patrick Mulemi, who said the cause is “has been opened,” but has just begun. “We are right at the beginning of the process,” he said, explaining that the Jesuits will follow the same procedure as any other cause.

Born in Spain in 1907, Arrupe served as superior general for the Society of Jesus from 1965-1983, leading the order through the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council. During that time, he also served three consecutive terms as president of the Union of Religious Superiors General, from 1967-1982.

According to papal biographer Austen Ivereigh, who wrote the widely read biography of Pope Francis, “The Great Reformer,” Arrupe and then-Fr. Bergoglio “had a very good and close relationship, and Bergoglio saw him as a spiritual father, he enormously admired him and was inspired by him.”

It was Arrupe who appointed Bergoglio the Jesuit provincial of Argentina in 1973, and the two remained close. The  made a joint-visit to the Diocese of La Rioja to support Bishop Enrique Ángel Angelelli Carletti, who was assassinated in 1976 during Argentina's Dirty War.

Arrupe entered the Society of Jesus in 1927 after studying medicine. After the order was expelled from Spain in 1932, he went to study in Belgium, the Netherlands and the United States as part of his formation before being ordained a priest.

He was ordained in 1936 and obtained a degree in medical ethics before being sent to Japan in 1938 to work as a missionary. While abroad, he became the master of novices for the Jesuit novitiate in Japan, and was living in Hiroshima when the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on Aug. 6, 1945.

With his history in medicine, the young priest converted the novitiate into a makeshift hospital for the wounded. A decade later, in 1958, he was named the first provincial for Japan, overseeing all Jesuits who lived in the country.

Arrupe held the position until May 1965, when he was elected Father General of the Jesuits during the 31st General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, just six months before the closing of the Second Vatican Council.

After the council, the Jesuits, who were the largest religious order in the world at the time, shifted focus and embraced a more social-justice oriented approach to their apostolic work, under Arrupe’s direction.

During the order's 1974-75 32nd general congregation, Arrupe passed a number of new decrees, including one titled: “Our Mission Today: The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice,” which focused heavily on social justice issues and became a blueprint for the Society’s direction.

Arrupe's changes were met with opposition by many Jesuits, and under his leadership, the order clashed with Pope Paul VI and other Vatican and ecclesial figures.

In 1973, Pope Paul VI issued a warning to Arrupe about experimentation in the Society of Jesus. Six years later, Pope John Paul II accused the Jesuit leadership of “causing confusion among the Christian people and anxieties to the church and also personally to the Pope,” criticizing in particular “secularizing tendencies” and “doctrinal unorthodoxy” within the order.

Arrupe acknowledged issues within the Society of Jesus, and made efforts to reprimand some priests accused of public doctrinal deviances. Some in the order questioned whether he should have made systemic changes in responses to papal criticism, rather than issuing individual corrections.

Within the Society of Jesus, one of the groups who opposed Arrupe's changes called themselves “la vera sociedad,” or “the true society,” and were on the verge of splitting from the order, intending to intervene in the 1974 general congregation meeting until Bergoglio stepped in, at Arrupe’s request, to calm the fury.

Arrupe, Ivereigh said, “held [Bergoglio] in high esteem, he trusted him.”

As for the future pope, Ivereigh said Bergoglio was “unquestionably” influenced by Arrupe's leadership, and often cited his former superior general in speeches.

“Arrupe was something of a model for Francis,” the biographer said, explaining that the main threads of similarity between the two were not only a shared concern for the poor, but also their approach to modernity, believing that what was needed was “an engagement” between faith and the modern world.

“Not to reject modernity, but to discern what was good, what was threatening to the Gospel, and what wasn't. I think that was Arrupe's big thing, rather than being in this constant confrontation with the modern world, to have a dialogue with it,” Ivereigh said.

After suffering a stroke in 1981, Arrupe resigned as superior general of the order and recommended American Jesuit Vincent O’Keefe take his place. However in a move some perceived as a rebuke, Pope John Paul II appointed Jesuits Paola Dezza and Giuseppe Pittau to oversee the society until a new leader was elected.

During the September 1983 general congregation, Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., was elected as the new minister general, a position he held until 2008, when he resigned and was succeeded by Fr. Adolfo Nicolas.

Arrupe died Feb. 5, 1991.

Three children rescued amid baby-selling investigation involving MC sister

Ranchi, India, Jul 13, 2018 / 10:27 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Three children who were allegedly sold by an employee of the Missionaries of Charity have been rescued, and a politician has accused a political party of unfairly targeting the religious order.

Last week two women affiliated with the Missionaries of Charity, one a religious sister and one an employee, were arrested after a couple complained that they were sold a baby boy, who was then taken back by the shelter.

Since then, three other children have been recovered by authorities, who are still on the lookout for a fourth baby. The children all came from the same Missionaries of Charity-operated home for pregnant women, Nirmal Hriday, in Ranchi, the capital of the state of Jharkhand. The women residing at the home were moved to a government-run shelter.

Initially, it was reported by Indian media that 280 children were missing from the Missionaries of Charity home in Ranchi. This number was eventually revised to four, and of the four, three have been located safely.

The Senior Superintendent of Police for Ranchi, Anis Gupta, said that they learned about the other children after questioning the initial two women arrested. The third child was rescued on Thursday from the city of Simdega, which is also in Jharkhand.

Gupta told Indian media that “a few people have been detained for questioning” after this latest rescue, but further details were not available.

Missionaries of Charity spokeswoman Sunita Kumar said last week in a statement that the order was “shocked” by the allegations, “which totally goes against the value and ethics espoused by the Missionaries of Charity, the nuns, and its founder.”

Kumar said that the order will be investigating the accused employees in Jharkhand “with all seriousness,” and that the Missionaries of Charity had stopped handling adoptions in India three years ago.

Church officials in India, along with a politician, have raised concerns that the Missionaries of Charity have been unfairly targeted by India's ruling party, the Hindu-nationalist group the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, a member of the All India Trinamool Congress, tweeted Friday that “Mother Teresa herself set up Missionaries of Charity. And now they are not being spared.”

Banerjee called the accusations against the order “malicious attempts to malign their name,” and said the “The Sisters are being targeted” by the BJP, who “want to spare no one.”

“Let MOC continue to do their work for the poorest of the poor,” she tweeted.

Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, Auxiliary Bishop of Ranchi and secretary general of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, defended the Missionaries of Charity on Twitter.

“This is a deliberate attempt to malign one of the world’s and India’s most loved institutions, Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity,” said Bishop Mascarenhas on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India’s Twitter account.

“The truth will come out,” he tweeted.

In another tweet, the bishop accused the state of corruption, saying the Missionaries of Charity are “simple innocent sisters” who are unable to “match the manipulations of the crooked.”

Bishop Mascarenhas also posted a report from an official government visit to the shelter in Ranchi about a week before the baby-sale allegations. The conditions were described as an “excellent environment.”

The Missionaries of Charity were founded in 1950 in Kolkata, by Albanian Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, who became known as Mother Teresa. In 2017, she was canonized as St.Teresa of Calcutta. There are about 3,000 Missionaries of Charity sisters worldwide.

In addition to the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, members of the Missionaries of Charity take a fourth vow pledging “wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor.”

Ex-chancellor of Chilean archdiocese arrested for child sex abuse

Santiago, Chile, Jul 13, 2018 / 09:38 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A priest who served in the chancery of the Archdiocese of Santiago de Chile for 15 years was arrested by local authorities Thursday on accusations of sexual abuse of minors and of the cover-up of abuse.

Fr. Óscar Muñoz Toledo, 56, was arrested July 12 on seven counts of the repeated sexual abuse of minors and statutory rape. He also faces accusations of cover-up.

The abuse is alleged to have begun in 2002, with victims between the ages of 11 and 17 years old. According to Chilean press, five of the seven alleged victims are nephews of Muñoz.

Starting in 2003, Muñoz served as vice-chancellor of Santiago under now-emeritus Archbishop Javier Errazuriz Ossa, who is a member of Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals. Following Errazuriz’ retirement, Muñoz became chancellor, a position he held until earlier this year.

Muñoz reported himself to the archdiocese’s office for abuse complaints Jan. 2. He was subsequently removed as chancellor and as a parish priest at Jesús de Nazareth parish, where he had served since 2016, and was prohibited from the public exercise of his priestly ministry.

A chancellor is responsible for maintaining the documents of a diocese. According to Chilean newspaper La Tercera, Muñoz, as chancellor, was also present during statements made against Chile’s most notorious abuser priest, Fernando Karadima, who was convicted of sexually abusing minors in a 2011 Vatican trial.

According to the Spanish language news agency EFE, the local prosecutor’s office opened an investigation against Muñoz in May.

In June the same office seized evidence from the Diocese of Rancagua and the ecclesiastical court in Santiago to examine claims of abuse by a group of priests in the O’Higgins region of Chile.

They are the latest investigations of clergy of the Church in Chile as it continues to face fallout from sexual abuse scandals.

In June Pope Francis accepted the resignation of five Chilean bishops, including Bishop Juan Barros Madrid, who had been accused of covering up for Karadima.

The resignation of Bishop Alejandro Goić Karmelić, the then-head of the Church in Rancagua, was also accepted June 28. In May, Goić, 78, admitted to dropping the ball on abuse allegations brought to him in 2017. He apologized for having not investigated the charges and suspended 12 priests who were accused of inappropriate sexual conduct with minors.

All the active bishops of Chile had submitted their written resignation to Pope Francis at the end of a three-day meeting with the pontiff in Rome. Francis summoned the bishops following an in-depth investigation and report into the Chilean clerical abuse crisis carried out in February by Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Msgr. Jordi Bertomeu of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Repentance – July 2018

So they went off and preached repentance. Mark 6:12 My Sisters and Brothers in Christ: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens. This blessing is one of mission; that is, the Christian’s response to God’s blessing to spread … Continue reading "Repentance – July 2018"

Kansas ministry brings Adoration Under the Stars

Wichita, Kan., Jul 13, 2018 / 03:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A Kansas-based ministry led more than a thousand people in Eucharistic adoration last week, allowing Catholics and non-Catholics to worship the Creator among the stars.

Wichita Adore Ministries hosted “Adoration Under the Stars” July 5 at the cemetery outside St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Ost, fewer than 30 miles northwest of Wichita.

Jesse Elpers, president of WAM, said the event is a simple yet profound encounter with God.

The event ties “together the creation of God with he who created it on an altar in the middle of nowhere underneath a starlit sky,” he told CNA. “[It] has a beautiful simplicity to it.”

“If nothing else, in such a serene place like that, just to be face to face with your Lord … it’s a beautiful thing.”

An estimated 1,300 people, including 24 priests, attended the event, which also included confession and music.

Elpers said confession is one of the most important aspects of the event. More than 500 people received absolution at the event last year.

Father Dan Duling, pastor of St Joseph's, has been at the church for the past two years. The event is important, he said, because it teaches young people the value of adoration and emphasizes the glory of God in all creation.

It’s “teaching our young people about adoration and giving them an environment [in which] they can pray and adore Jesus,” he told CNA. “I think the important thing for the people is knowing God’s presence out there in his creation and everything around us.”

The event began six years ago with just over 60 attendees and was one of the first ministries of WAM. The organization is a non-profit solely run on volunteer time.

Last year, WAM handled more than 100 events, including parish adoration and diocesan conferences. The company will also lend out production equipment to parishes to put together adoration events themselves.

Elpers said the non-profit’s mission is to lead people to encounter Christ, promoting conversion and personal engagement with the loving creator.    

“The ultimate goal of every effort we do, both in adoration events and in the production ministry, is to give each soul a chance at an encounter with Christ” he said, using adoration to bring people “face to face with the heart of the one who made [them], the heart of the one who longs for them.”

Catholic Charities Hawai'i to build housing for low-income seniors

Honolulu, Hawaii, Jul 13, 2018 / 12:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Catholic Charities Housing Development Corporation (CCHDC) recently purchased several acres of land in Kahului on the island of Maui in order to build a rental housing complex for low-income senior citizens.

They closed the deal with Alexander and Baldwin, a Hawaiian real estate company, June 27. Catholic Charities Hawai'i received 3.86 acres, but no other terms were revealed.

“We are pleased to have played a role in helping Catholic Charities Hawaii to bring more affordable housing to Maui, in particular for Maui’s seniors, who are very important to A&B,” said A&B chief real estate officer Lance Parker, as quoted in a July 10 Maui News article. “We are confident that Catholic Charities understands the needs of this special group and will provide housing that they all can truly call home.”

Called the “Kahului Lani senior affordable rental project,” the complex will have over 160 units accompanied by 260 parking stalls. The first of two building phases, it will be funded by low- income housing state and federal tax credits and a multi-family bond.

The second phase includes an 83-unit, six story complex, along with a two-story multipurpose building for Catholic Charities management offices. Construction will begin at the end of this year, and it is projected to be completed in 2020. Costs will total nearly $48 million.

Seniors ages 55 and up who “earn 60 percent or less of the county’s area median income,” according to a July 9 Pacific Business News article, are eligible to stay in the complex. The project will provide “an affordable permanent living option, offering complementary amenities” for seniors, said the Maui News.

“We are excited that this land purchase will allow us to move ahead in the development of this important facility,” CCHDC President Rick Stack said in a statement.

Friday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Hos 14:2-10

Thus says the LORD:
Return, O Israel, to the LORD, your God;
you have collapsed through your guilt.
Take with you words,
and return to the LORD;
Say to him, “Forgive all iniquity,
and receive what is good, that we may render
as offerings the bullocks from our stalls.
Assyria will not save us,
nor shall we have horses to mount;
We shall say no more, ‘Our god,’
to the work of our hands;
for in you the orphan finds compassion.”
I will heal their defection, says the LORD,
I will love them freely;
for my wrath is turned away from them.
I will be like the dew for Israel:
he shall blossom like the lily;
He shall strike root like the Lebanon cedar,
and put forth his shoots.
His splendor shall be like the olive tree
and his fragrance like the Lebanon cedar.
Again they shall dwell in his shade
and raise grain;
They shall blossom like the vine,
and his fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.

Ephraim! What more has he to do with idols?
I have humbled him, but I will prosper him.
“I am like a verdant cypress tree”—
because of me you bear fruit!

Let him who is wise understand these things;
let him who is prudent know them.
Straight are the paths of the LORD,
in them the just walk,
but sinners stumble in them.

Responsorial Psalm pS 51:3-4, 8-9, 12-13, 14 and 17

R. (17b) My mouth will declare your praise.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
R. My mouth will declare your praise.
Behold, you are pleased with sincerity of heart,
and in my inmost being you teach me wisdom.
Cleanse me of sin with hyssop, that I may be purified;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
R. My mouth will declare your praise.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R. My mouth will declare your praise.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
R. My mouth will declare your praise.

Alleluia Jn 16:13a; 14:26d

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
When the Spirit of truth comes,
he will guide you to all truth
and remind you of all I told you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 10:16-23

Jesus said to his Apostles:
“Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves;
so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.
But beware of men,
for they will hand you over to courts
and scourge you in their synagogues,
and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake
as a witness before them and the pagans.
When they hand you over,
do not worry about how you are to speak
or what you are to say.
You will be given at that moment what you are to say.
For it will not be you who speak
but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Brother will hand over brother to death,
and the father his child;
children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but whoever endures to the end will be saved.
When they persecute you in one town, flee to another.
Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel
before the Son of Man comes.”
- - -
Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

In India, nun accuses bishop of rape

New Delhi, India, Jul 12, 2018 / 07:00 pm (CNA).- Authorities are investigating Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar after a Kerala nun accused him of raping her in 2014 and sexually abusing her on multiple occasions over two years—but the bishop strenuously denies the claims and charges that the nun is accusing him to avoid disciplinary action.
 
Bishop Mulakkal, 54, heads a Roman Catholic diocese in the northern India state of Punjab. He oversees the alleged victim’s Missionaries of Jesus religious congregation.
 
The congregation is based in Jalandhar but has a convent in the Diocese of Palai, in Kerala State.
 
The nun has said the rape took place during the bishop’s May 2014 visit to the convent in Kerala. In a 72-page complaint to police, filed June 29, she alleged that the bishop sexually abused her over a dozen times over two years.
 
For his part, Bishop Mulakkal has claimed the allegations were made in retaliation against him because he has acted against the nun’s sexual misconduct, the bishop told UCA News. He said the nun was alleged to be having an affair with the husband of her cousin.
 
“She threatened to quit the order,” the bishop said, claiming that the nun sought a dispensation so that she could marry.
 
However, she “withdrew the application and continued to threaten me with sex allegations,” the bishop said, in a UCA News report published July 2.
 
Bishop Mlakkal claimed that when he took action against the nun, her brother threatened to kill him.
 
Father Peter Kavumkal, the vicar-general of the Jalandhar diocese, told UCA News that the nun’s congregation had planned to dismiss her July 2.
 
“It is all planned and timed to blackmail the bishop from taking punitive action against her,” the priest charged, claiming that the diocese went to police first.
 
Fr. Kavumkal filed a June 22 complaint in both Punjab and Kerala, charging blackmail and threatening the life of the bishop.
 
The case has prompted various media reports and rumors, with the Times of India reporting that a prime witness for the bishop’s complaint has told the investigating officials that the bishop intimidated him into writing the threatening letter. There are conflicting reports about whether the bishop will be interrogated soon, and some reports indicate the nun has submitted to authorities text messages from the bishop as evidence.
 
The International Business Times of India makes other claims against the bishop, reporting that other nuns have said the bishop encouraged them to file false charges against his accuser, that there are allegations of sexual abuse from several nuns, and that the bishop sent indecent messages to his accuser and others. However, the newspaper did not provide a source for those allegations.
 
A police official said the nun was standing by her accusations and would be subjected to medical tests to determine whether she had been sexually assaulted.
 
Pope Benedict XVI had named Bishop Mulakkal to become Auxiliary Bishop of Delhi in 2009. In June 2013, Pope Francis appointed him Bishop of Jullundur. Fewer than one percent of the diocese’s approximately 19.3 million people are Catholic, the website Catholic Hierarchy says.
 
The nun is part of the Kerala-based Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, an Eastern Catholic Church in union with Rome.
 
The case also could involve Cardinal George Alencherry, who is both head of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church and Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly
 
A lay group in the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly, called the Movement for Transparency, has filed a police complaint charging that Cardinal George Alencherry received the nun’s complaint six months ago but failed to report it to the police.
 
That claim follows other accusations against the cardinal.
 
In November 2017 the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly’s canonical presbyteral council publicly accused Cardinal Alencherry of involvement of dubious land deals. The council’s representatives charged that the cardinal, two senior priests and a real estate agent sold land at undervalued prices, for a loss of $10 million. They accused the cardinal of bypassing the canonical body’s authority.
 
In June the Vatican bypassed the Syro-Malabar Church’s synod and suspended the administrative powers of the archdiocese’s two auxiliary bishops, all archdiocesan offices, and the archdiocesan council. A Vatican letter said Cardinal Alencherry "should absolutely not be involved" in any decisions, UCA News reports.
 
It tasked the new administrator with auditing the archdiocese through an independent agency and sending the results to the Vatican confidentially. The new administrator must also determine the responsibility of those “who have wounded church unity with unfounded allegations, lacking the spirit of obedience and ecclesial sense.”
 
Pope Francis appointed Bishop Jacob Manathodath of Palghat as the archdiocese’s apostolic administrator.

House committee moves to protect religious adoption agencies

Washington D.C., Jul 12, 2018 / 04:45 pm (CNA).- The House Appropriations Committee moved to protect the conscience rights and religious freedom of faith-based adoption agencies on Wednesday.

The committee adopted an amendment to an upcoming funding bill that would preserve federal funding for agencies who do not want to place children with same-sex couples.

The amendment was introduced by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL). In a statement published on his website, Aderholt said that the opioid epidemic has caused the number of foster care cases to “skyrocket,” and that religious charities are needed to assist with this crisis.

However, “several states and localities across the country are not allowing religious organizations, such as Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian services, to operate child welfare agencies,” due to their refusal to place children with same-sex couples, in accord with their religious beliefs.

Alderholt said this amendment will aim to prevent religious discrimination against those agencies. The amendment mandates that the Department of Health and Human Services withhold 15 percent of federal funds for child welfare services in states that do not allow religiously-based child welfare agencies to operate in accordance with their beliefs.

Faith-based agencies in several states have had to shut down their adoption divisions because they did not want to violate their religious beliefs.

Catholic Charities of the Boston archdiocese ceased handling adoptions in Massachusetts in 2006, a little less than two years after the state legalized same-sex marriage. Catholic Charities in California followed suit later that year. In 2011, Catholic Charities of Illinois also stopped handling adoption cases.

In Illinois, about 2,000 children were displaced when Catholic Charities shut down, forcing other agencies to take on their cases.

The city of Philadelphia is being sued by several foster mothers after it stopped working with Catholic Social Services to place foster children. While Catholic Social Services would not place children with a same-sex couple, no same-sex couple ever made a complaint about the agency before its relationship with the city was severed.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) accused Republicans of pushing a “bigoted, anti-LGBTQ agenda” that could result in children being without homes.

In a statement released July 11, she pledged to fight the “disgusting, deeply immoral and profoundly offensive effort,” and said there was “no place for bigotry.”

This, says Heritage Foundation Research Assistant Melanie Israel, is falsehood.

"The other side is falsely saying that this prevents LGBT couples from adopting. That's not true," said Israel. "They are still welcome to foster and adopt from a plethora of agencies, in particular the state-run agencies, and even some faith-based agencies. Not all faith-based agencies take issue with placing children outside of a home with a married mom and dad."

Faith-based agencies can play a supportive role for a child’s birth-mother as well, said Israel. These women, and families that are seeking to foster and adopt, “deserve the chance to be able to work with an agency that’s going to share their faith, and their values.”

“For many birth-moms, the decision to give a child up for adoption, it's a very loving decision, it's a very brave decision, but it's also very scary,” she told CNA.

A faith-based agency could provide assistance to her spiritual needs in addition to anything else that would arise during the adoption process, and could provide assurance that the child would go to a family with a similar set of values, Israel added.