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Some stolen items from Denver parish church recovered

Father Joseph Cao, assisted by Deacon Clarence McDavid, blesses the parts of the church affected by an Aug. 30 break-in, during a Mass of reparation at Curé d'Ars Catholic Church in Denver, Colo., Sept. 1, 2021. / Jonah McKeown/CNA.

Denver, Colo., Sep 27, 2021 / 14:49 pm (CNA).

Several valuable items belonging to a Denver Catholic parish, including the tabernacle and vessels used for Mass, were recovered late last week, after the church was robbed nearly a month ago. Consecrated hosts taken from the church were not found.

The predominantly African-American parish of Curé d'Ars, located in north Denver, was broken into and robbed overnight Aug. 30-31. All the church's vessels used for Mass were stolen from the vestry, which the thieves accessed by kicking in a wooden door. 

The church’s tabernacle, containing the Eucharist, was stolen from the sanctuary. 

In a Sept. 25 post on the church’s Facebook page, Deacon Clarence McDavid reported that he had been called in by a detective working the case to look at items recovered from a man Denver Police had recently arrested. 

The recovered items included a number of religious objects including a tabernacle, a ciborium, a communion bowl, and a container used to hold the priest's hosts.

“These items are clearly ours and have been retrieved from the police department. The person who is in police custody is believed to have broken into several other churches in the area,” McDavid wrote. 

McDavid said the consecrated hosts contained in the tabernacle, however, were still missing and were “obviously dumped.”

The vessels found have now been cleaned up and are at the church, he said, though not every single vessel has been recovered. A larger ciborium is still missing, he noted. 

Speaking with CNA Sept. 27, Deacon McDavid said he wished to thank everyone who, moved by the story of the robbery, reached out with donations, well-wishes, and prayers. 

“It certainly shows how connected we are as a Church. It’s been very moving to see,” he told CNA. 

Denver Police confirmed to CNA that an arrest had been made related to the Cure d’Ars burglary, and named the suspect as thirty-seven-year-old Deshaun Glenn. 

The Cure d’Ars burglary is believed to be a pattern burglary involving other churches, the police department confirmed to CNA. The investigation is ongoing and any charges against Glenn will be determined by the District Attorney. 

The thief, or thieves, also took a laptop used for live streaming Masses, and a sound board used to connect to the church's microphones. Those items were not among those recovered, and the church has since ordered new ones. 

The assailants also tore out several security cameras throughout the sanctuary, ensuring they would not be caught on video. McDavid said the security alarm company is set soon to replace the three security cameras that were stolen and broken.

The thieves also cut all the copper piping off of the building's furnaces downstairs and from a stairwell on the building's exterior, flooding the church basement with water. The church currently has no heating or air conditioning as a result, McDavid said. 

“Work to replace all five furnaces and the air conditioner units will hopefully start within the next two weeks. As reported previously, we need to wait until the necessary supplies are available before the installation can happen. The company that we are working with has escalated the matter as they know that we are without a heating or cooling system,” McDavid wrote in the Facebook post. 

Father Joseph Cao, the church's pastor, told CNA immediately following the robbery that he has no idea who could have done it. Around 8:40am on Aug. 31, Father Cao discovered that the church's outer door had been pried open. 

Fr. Cao found an upturned chair and several unconsecrated hosts on the ground when he entered the sanctuary. He then saw that the tabernacle was gone, and found the flood in the basement. 

"As you can imagine, this is very devastating for the entire community," Deacon McDavid told CNA Sept. 1. 

"We have people who have been here probably since the mid-60s...I've been a deacon here for 34 years."

Curé d'Ars parish dates to 1952, and its name honors St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests who had care of souls in Ars, France, in the nineteenth century.

By the 1970s, thanks mainly to changing demographics in the area, Curé d'Ars served approximately 200 predominantly black families. The current church building was dedicated in 1978 under pastor Fr. Robert Kinkel. The parish later welcomed Charlie Bright as the first African-American deacon in the Denver archdiocese.

The sanctuary was blessed and rededicated as a sacred space Aug. 31.

English university accepts appointment of Catholic chaplain who tweeted about abortion

Fr. David Palmer, a priest of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham serving in the Diocese of Nottingham, England. / Courtesy photo.

Nottingham, England, Sep 27, 2021 / 13:18 pm (CNA).

The University of Nottingham announced Saturday that it will recognize Fr. David Palmer as a chaplain, after having refused recognition over comments on assisted suicide and abortion he had posted on social media.

“Following constructive and helpful dialogue with the Diocese of Nottingham over recent weeks, it has been agreed that Father David Palmer will be recognised … as university chaplain for the Catholic faith,” the university said Sept. 25.

Bishop Patrick McKinney of Nottingham commented, “I am very pleased that the university has now recognised my appointment of Father David Palmer as Catholic Chaplain, to work alongside the other university chaplains who give such great support to students and staff alike.”

The university has developed a new procedure for the recognition of chaplains, which “allows for a preparatory year to enable the nominated chaplain, the sponsoring faith body and the university to explore together if the role is right both for the individual and the multi-faith environment at Nottingham.”

The new procedure will include “regular engagement with current university chaplains of all faiths, students and the sponsoring faith body to determine the chaplain’s ability to: work in a large, international, multi-faith, secular, educational environment; willingness to represent the diversity of faith communities in a non-partisan way; present a strong personal spirituality whilst being able to manage disagreement and challenge; work as part of a chaplaincy team; demonstrate approachability and pastoral sensitivity,” the University of Nottingham said.

Fr. Palmer noted on Twitter Sept. 27 that “Lots of people helped us behind the scenes” in securing recognition of his appointment, and that the legal advice of ADF International and the Free Speech Union “was invaluable.”

The Free Speech Union wrote to the univerity's vice-chancellor Sept. 2, reminding him that “the Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for a public institution to discriminate against someone on the basis of their religious or philosophical beliefs, and the fact that Fr. David's appointment has been obstructed in this way … suggests that he is the victim of unlawful discrimination.”

Bishop McKinney said that “In developing a new approach to recognition and support for chaplains, I acknowledge that the university is striving to demonstrate its commitment to the importance of this role within the wider university experience. I appreciate the period of constructive dialogue which has led to this development, and I look forward to seeing the university’s chaplaincy continue to flourish. It is my hope that the chaplaincy will always be a safe space for people of all faiths and none to be helped to discuss difficult issues. It is important that the Catholic Church can be a part of these conversations and contribute to individuals’ search for truth and meaning in their lives.”

“For Catholic students, perhaps away from home for the first time, and for staff too, the presence of a Catholic priest within the University is an opportunity for them to be strengthened in their faith. Having seen the pastoral work Father David has undertaken from his parish in Lenton, I have every confidence that his presence on campus will be a blessing both for those of the Catholic community, and others in the wider university family who engage with the multi-faith environment,” he added.

The university's registrar, Dr. Paul Greatrix, said that the new procedure for recognizing chaplains “will ensure that, in a spirit of support and collaboration, the university and faith leaders can welcome chaplains who will, absolutely, hold their faith primary whilst fully engaging with a multi-faith environment.”

“As a university we fully respect and safeguard our community’s freedom of speech and our chaplains’ expression of the tenets of their faith. The new procedure will ensure that our team of chaplains feel comfortable and supported in their work with students in what is a diverse and multi-faith community which has the full range of views on religious expression,” he continued.

The university had interviewed Fr. Palmer, a priest of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, in June, and following this it wrote to Bishop McKinney expressing concern about the appointment.

At a July 1 meeting the university specified that the concerns related to Fr. Palmer’s posts on social media, highlighting one on assisted suicide and another on abortion.

“They referenced a tweet where I had referred to the proposed ‘assisted dying’ bill [introduced in Britain’s Parliament in May] as a bill to allow the NHS ‘to kill the vulnerable,’” Fr. Palmer told CNA via email in August.

“I was told it was fine for me to have this opinion, but they were concerned with how I expressed it. When I asked how they would suggest I express it, quite remarkably, they suggested I should call it ‘end of life care,’ which is a completely unacceptable policing of religious belief.”

Fr. Palmer also reported that the university objected to a tweet in which he had described abortion as the “slaughter of babies”.

A university spokesperson told CNA last month, “Our concern was not in relation to Fr. David’s views themselves, but the manner in which these views have been expressed in the context of our diverse community of people of many faiths.”

The priest told CNA that the university asked Bishop McKinney to provide an alternative priest, an invitation he declined.

The bishop had also appointed Fr. Palmer chaplain to Nottingham Trent University, which accepted the decision.

Fr. Palmer told CNA that he rejected Nottingham University’s explanation for its decision to deny him recognition.

“The university says they have ‘no issue with the expression of faith in robust terms,’ but this is precisely what they had an issue with,” he said.

He added: “The university claims to support ‘diversity and inclusion,’ but it appears that diversity only goes so far, certainly not as far as the Catholic chaplain being able to express ‘robustly’ mainstream Catholic beliefs.”

The University of Nottingham in November 2020 reached a settlement with a pro-life undergraduate student in a midwife program.

Julia Rynkiewicz, a 25-year-old Catholic, received an apology and payout after she was blocked from entering her program's hospital placement phase after the university learned of her leadership of a pro-life student group.

The university overturned its decision, but Rynkiewicz sought an apology.

The British government introduced the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill earlier this year that could impose fines on universities if they fail to protect freedom of speech for students, staff, and visiting speakers.

The bill is currently at the report stage in the House of Commons.

In March 2018 a joint committee on human rights of the UK parliament noted troubling barriers to free speech at the nation's universities, writing: “Whilst the original intention behind safe space policies may have been to ensure that minority or vulnerable groups can feel secure, in practice the concept of safe spaces has proved problematic, often marginalising the views of minority groups.”

“Minority groups or individuals holding unpopular opinions which are within the law should not be shut down nor be subject to undue additional scrutiny by student unions or universities,” the committee continued.

It added that “unless it is clearly understood that those exercising their rights to free speech within the law will not be shut down, there will be no incentive for their opponents to engage them in the debate and challenge needed to bring mutual understanding and maybe even to change attitudes.”

Video: Lava destroys church on La Palma in Canary Islands

Screenshot of video footage showing the destruction of Saint Pius X Church in La Palma in the Canary Islands on Sept. 26, 2021. / ACI Digital

Mexico City Newsroom, Sep 27, 2021 / 12:48 pm (CNA).

Lava from the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano on La Palma in the Canary Islands destroyed the church of Saint Pius X in the Todoque neighborhood in the town of Llanos de Aridane on the afternoon of Sept. 26.

Firefighters were hoping to divert the flow of the lava from away from the church, but were unsuccessful.

The volcano began erupting Sept.19. The previous eruption on the island was in 1971.

According to the local press, the lava, which had stopped its flow in the area, resumed its advance towards the sea, about a mile and a quarter away, engulfing the Catholic church and other buildings in its path. You watch the destruction unfold in the video below.

Thousands of people have been evacuated and there have been no human casualties so far. The eruption is estimated to have caused hundreds of millions of euros in damage

Anticipating the possible destruction of the church which lay in the path of the lava flow, a few days ago the pastor of St. Pius X, Father Alberto Hernández, with the help of workers, removed everything possible from the interior of the church including statues, paintings, crucifixes, and the tabernacle.

In a recent statement to the Spanish Catholic weekly Alfa & Omega, Fr. Hernández said that in the face of the misfortune in the region he can only “weep with those who weep” over so much destruction.

Those affected by the lava flow, he said, “are humble, simple, hard-working people, including farmers and some officials. People who had built their own houses and who made their living from the land. Let us trust that the authorities will respond and aid will arrive.”

However, he stressed, the residents “are people of faith,” adding that “when I called the neighbor closest to the volcano – 200 meters (650 ft) – to check on him, he told me: 'The house will be lost, but we’re alive and it’s a miracle we're alive.'

“Faith,” the pastor said, “is fundamental.”

Pope Francis mourns Brazilian cardinal who died of COVID-19 complications

Brazilian Cardinal José Freire Falcão (1925-2021). / Antônio Cruz/ABr - Agência Brasil via Wikimedia (CC BY 3.0 BR).

Vatican City, Sep 27, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis expressed his sorrow Monday at the death of a Brazilian cardinal who was “passionate about evangelization.”

The pope paid tribute to Cardinal José Freire Falcão, the emeritus archbishop of Brasília, in a telegram issued Sept. 27, the day after the 95-year-old cardinal died of COVID-19 complications.

In a message to Archbishop Paulo Cezar Costa, the current archbishop of Brasília, the pope said: “I entrust the beloved cardinal to the mercy of God, remembering his precious collaboration in the different organisms of the Holy See and my meetings with this pastor who was passionate about evangelization.”

He added that Falcão was “solicitous in putting the gifts received from the Lord at the service of the People of God and his brother bishops.”

“I give thanks to the Father in heaven for his episcopal ministry in which he lavished himself with generosity in leading the people entrusted to him along the paths of the Gospel, with the same zeal with which he carried out his previous services,” the pope wrote.

The National Bishops’ Conference of Brazil (CNBB) noted that Falcão was the second Brazilian cardinal to have died after testing positive for the coronavirus. It said that the first was Cardinal Eusébio Oscar Scheid, the archbishop emeritus of Rio de Janeiro, who died on Jan. 13 at the age of 88.

The bishops’ conference said that Falcão was taken to Santa Lúcia Hospital in Brazil’s federal capital on Sept. 17 as a precautionary measure after his positive test. His condition deteriorated on Sept. 24 and he died on Sept. 26.

The cardinal is due to be buried in the crypt of the Cathedral of Brasília, which was designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer and completed in 1970.

José Freire Falcão was born on Oct. 23, 1925, in Ererê, in Brazil’s Northeast Region. He was ordained a priest in Limoeiro do Norte, in the state of Ceará, on June 19, 1949.

In April 1967, he was appointed coadjutor bishop of Limoeiro do Norte, succeeding as bishop in August of that year. He took the episcopal motto “Serve in humility.”

In 1971, he was named archbishop of Teresina, an archdiocese in the state of Piauí, also in the Northeast Region.

Pope John Paul II selected him as archbishop of Brasília, in the Central-West Region, on Feb. 15, 1984, when he was 58 years old.

An official biography provided by the Holy See press office said that “he dedicated his every moment to the development of the ecclesial communities entrusted to him, motivated by his great desire to proclaim the truth of the Gospel, and by a sincere and profound love of the Church and fellow man.”

He was created a cardinal by John Paul II on June 28, 1988.

He held several significant positions at the Brazilian bishops’ conference and was active in the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM).

He retired as archbishop of Brasília on Jan. 28, 2004, at the age of 78. He was succeeded by Archbishop João Bráz de Aviz, who is now a cardinal serving as prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

Pope Francis concluded his condolence telegram by entrusting “to the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary” Cardinal Falcão, his loved ones, colleagues, and Catholics of the Brasília archdiocese.

Cardinal Wilton Gregory takes possession of Immaculate Conception church in Rome

Cardinal Wilton Gregory takes possession of Immaculate Conception church in Rome, Sept. 27, 2021. / Courtney Mares.

Rome, Italy, Sep 27, 2021 / 10:00 am (CNA).

Cardinal Wilton Gregory is in Rome this week to take possession of the church assigned to his care as a cardinal.

The first African American to be made a cardinal in the Catholic Church has been given the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Grottarossa as his titular church in the diocese of Rome.

Courtney Mares.
Courtney Mares.

“I am particularly thankful because the Immaculate Conception is also the Patroness of the Church in the United States of America,” Gregory said on Sept. 27.

The cardinal archbishop of Washington joined the parish community in the northern outskirts of Rome for midday prayer in his first official visit to his titular church.

Cardinals are assigned a titular church to formally make them a part of the diocese of Rome, whose bishop is the pope. This means that cardinals are always linked to Rome, even if they reside elsewhere.

Courtney Mares.
Courtney Mares.

Pope Francis made Gregory a cardinal in the Catholic Church’s last consistory, held on Nov. 28, 2020.

As archbishop of Washington, Gregory has been at the center of discussion in recent months over whether pro-abortion Catholic politicians should be admitted to Communion. He told a reporter last year that he would not deny Communion in such cases.

. Courtney Mares.
. Courtney Mares.

During the U.S. bishops’ meeting in June, Gregory cautioned against drafting a teaching document on the Eucharist that would include language on worthiness to receive Communion, especially among Catholic public figures.

Courtney Mares.
Courtney Mares.

U.S. President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are both Catholic and strongly support legal abortion and taxpayer-funded abortion.

Cardinal Gregory said earlier this month that the president “is not demonstrating Catholic teaching” after Biden commented that he did not “agree” that life begins at conception.

As the archbishop of Washington took possession of his titular church at noon on Sept. 27, Pope Francis gave a speech to the Pontifical Academy for Life in which he reiterated that abortion is murder.

“Is it right to eliminate, to take a human life to solve a problem? Is it right to hire a hitman to solve a problem? That’s what abortion is,” the pope said.

He added that while abortion is considered “normal” by some people today, it is “a practice that is very ugly. It is really murder.”

Pope John Paul II established Immaculate Conception as a titular church in 1985, when it was assigned to the Polish Cardinal Henryk Gulbinowicz, who died on Nov. 16, 2020.

Pope Francis decries abortion and euthanasia as treating human life like ‘waste’

Pope Francis addresses participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall, Sept. 27, 2021. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Sep 27, 2021 / 09:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis decried abortion and euthanasia in a speech Monday in which he said that today’s “throwaway culture” leads to the killing of children and discarding of the elderly.

“There is the discarding of children that we do not want to welcome with the law of abortion that sends them to the dispatcher and kills them directly. And today this has become a ‘normal’ method, a practice that is very ugly. It is really murder,” Pope Francis said Sept. 27.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

In a live-streamed address to members of the Pontifical Academy for Life, the pope said that to understand what abortion is, it helps to pose two questions.

“Is it right to eliminate, to take a human life to solve a problem? Is it right to hire a hitman to solve a problem? That’s what abortion is,” the pope commented.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

Pope Francis said that the elderly today were also viewed as “waste material” and “of no use” in today’s throwaway culture.

“But they are wisdom. They are the roots of wisdom of our civilization, and this civilization discards them,” he said.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

“Yes, in many parts there is also the law of ‘hidden euthanasia,’ as I call it. It is the one that makes people say: ‘Medications are expensive, only half of them are needed,’ and this means shortening the life of the elderly.”

The pope added that both abortion and euthanasia “deny hope” by negating “the hope of children who bring us the life that keeps us going and the hope that is in the roots that the elderly give us.”

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

Pope Francis underlined that this was not a path for Catholic universities or hospitals to follow.

“This is a road on which we cannot go: the road of discarding,” he said.

The speech marked the second time this month that Pope Francis has spoken out strongly about abortion.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

During a press conference on his return flight from Slovakia on Sept. 15, the pope repeatedly said that “abortion is murder” and compared the acceptance of abortion to “accepting daily murder.”

The Pontifical Academy for Life was founded by Pope John Paul II in 1994. It is dedicated to promoting the Church’s consistent life ethic.

This week, the academy is holding its plenary assembly in Rome, focused on the pandemic, bioethics, and the future of public health.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

“I entrust to the Virgin Mary the work of this assembly and also the whole of your activity as an Academy for the defense and promotion of life,” Pope Francis said in his speech in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall.

St. Vincent de Paul

St. Vincent de Paul

Feast date: Sep 27

On Sept. 27, the Catholic Church remembers Saint Vincent de Paul, the French, 17th century priest known as the patron of Catholic charities for his apostolic work among the poor and marginalized.
 
During a September 2010 Angelus address, Pope Benedict XVI noted that St. Vincent “keenly perceived the strong contrast between the richest and the poorest of people,” and was “encouraged by the love of Christ” to “organize permanent forms of service” to provide for those in need.
 
The exact year of Vincent’s birth is not definitively known, but it has been placed between 1576 and 1581. Born to a poor family in the southwest of France, he showed his intellectual gifts from a young age, studying theology from around age 15. He received ordination as a priest in the year 1600, and worked as a tutor to students in Toulouse.
 
During a sea voyage in 1605, Vincent was seized by Turkish pirates and sold into slavery. His ordeal of captivity lasted until 1607, during which time the priest converted his owner to the Christian faith and escaped with him from Tunisia. Afterward, he spent time studying in Rome, and – in a striking reversal of fortune – served as an educator and spiritual guide to members of an upper-class French family.
 
Although Vincent had initially begun his priesthood with the intention of securing a life of leisure for himself, he underwent a change of heart after hearing the confession of a dying peasant. Moved with compassion for the poor, he began undertaking missions and founding institutions to help them both materially and spiritually. The one-time slave also ministered to convicts forced to serve in squalid conditions as rowers aboard galley ships.
 
Vincent established the Congregation of Priests of the Mission in 1625, as part of an effort to evangelize rural populations and foster vocations to remedy a priest shortage. Not long after this, he worked with the future Saint Louise de Marillac to organize the Daughters of Charity, the first congregation of women religious whose consecrated life involved an extensive apostolate among the poor, the sick, and prisoners.
 
Under Louise’s direction, the order collected donations which Vincent distributed widely among the needy. These contributions went toward homes for abandoned children, a hospice for the elderly, and an immense complex where 40,000 poor people were given lodging and work. Vincent was involved in various ways with all of these works, as well as with efforts to help refugees and to free those sold into slavery in foreign lands.
 
Though admired for these accomplishments during his lifetime, the priest maintained great personal humility, using his reputation and connections to help the poor and strengthen the Church. Doctrinally, Vincent was a strong opponent of Jansenism, a theological heresy that denied the universality of God’s love and discouraged reception of the Eucharist. He was also involved in the reform of several religious orders within France.
 
St. Vincent de Paul died on Sept. 27, 1660, only months after the death of St. Louise de Marillac in March of the same year. Pope Clement XII canonized him in 1737. In 1835, the French scholar Blessed Frederic Ozanam took him as the inspiration and namesake for the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, a lay Catholic organization working for the relief of the poor.

Philadelphia Catholic agency can once again help make foster care placements, after settlement with city

Sharonell Fulton, one of the plaintiffs in Fulton v. Philadelphia who has fostered more than 40 children through Catholic Social Services / Becket

Washington D.C., Sep 27, 2021 / 08:00 am (CNA).

Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is once again helping make foster care placements, following a legal settlement with the city to cap a years-long court battle.

The Supreme Court in June ruled in favor of Catholic Social Services in its lawsuit against the city, in the major religious freedom case of Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. The agency and two foster moms working with it had alleged that the city violated religious freedom when, in 2018, it stopped contracting with the agency due to its religious stance on marriage. The city handles all foster care placements and contracts with various agencies to make referrals; Catholic Social Services does not refer foster children for same-sex or unmarried couples.

Following the ruling, Catholic Social Services reached a settlement with the city, and could once again help make placements of foster children on Friday, Sept. 24.

“Up until 2018, this had been a really positive relationship. Our goal is for that to be a positive relationship again,” said Lori Windham, senior counsel at The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, in an interview with CNA. Windham which represented Catholic Social Services and the two foster moms in the Fulton case.

While the details of the settlement were not released publicly, a federal district court order on Friday recognized the Catholic ministry’s victory in the case.

The court issued a permanent injunction, prohibiting the city from refusing to contract with Catholic Social Services on foster care services because of the ministry’s religious-based refusal to place children with same-sex or unmarried couples.

The city of Philadelphia agreed not to exclude the ministry from participating in foster care placements, and will not exclude foster parents who work with Catholic Social Services.

Referring to other cases around the country where religious adoption and foster care agencies face state and local mandates to work with same-sex couples against their religious beliefs, Windham said the settlement could serve as a blueprint for how to resolve those cases.

“I think that this should be a model for those other situations, because it shows how you can resolve those cases and allow Catholic charities to continue serving children,” she said of the settlement.

The Supreme Court in June unanimously decided in favor of Catholic Social Services in the Fulton case, with the majority opinion stating that the city’s refusal to contract “violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.”

Justice Samuel Alito, in his concurrence, warned that the majority opinion was too narrowly written and that the city could simply adjust its policy and still exclude Catholic Social Services from foster care placements in accord with the opinion.

However, according to Becket, Friday’s court ruling was definitive in that it was a permanent injunction, with a settlement entered into willingly by the city.

Until 2018, Catholic Social Services had worked in the city for over 100 years making foster care placements. The ministry would help find the best home for children and match them with foster parents.

In March 2018, the city announced it would stop referring foster children to agencies such as Catholic Social Services who would not match children with same-sex couples. At that point, lawyers for Catholic Social Services later argued, no same-sex couple had sought its certification to accept foster children.

World Youth Day 2021: Pope Francis asks young people to ‘testify joyfully that Christ is alive’

Pope Francis addresses young people at Lokomotiva Stadium in Košice, Slovakia, Sept. 14, 2021. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Sep 27, 2021 / 06:40 am (CNA).

Pope Francis encouraged young Catholics on Monday to “testify joyfully that Christ is alive.”

In a message for World Youth Day 2021, released on Sept. 27, the pope invited youth to join a “spiritual pilgrimage leading to the celebration of the 2023 World Youth Day” in Lisbon, Portugal.

Reflecting on the dramatic conversion of St. Paul the Apostle, the pope made a series of appeals to young people ahead of the annual celebration on Nov. 21.

He said: “In Jesus’ name, I ask you: Arise! Testify that you too were blind and encountered the light. You too have seen God’s goodness and beauty in yourself, in others, and in the communion of the Church, where all loneliness is overcome.”

“Arise! Testify to the love and respect it is possible to instill in human relationships, in the lives of our families, in the dialogue between parents and children, between the young and the elderly.”

“Arise! Uphold social justice, truth, and integrity, human rights. Protect the persecuted, the poor and the vulnerable, those who have no voice in society, immigrants.”

He continued: “Arise! Testify to the new way of looking at things that enables you to view creation with eyes brimming with wonder, that makes you see the Earth as our common home, and gives you the courage to promote an integral ecology.”

“Arise! Testify that lives of failure can be rebuilt, that persons spiritually dead can rise anew, that those in bondage can once more be free, that hearts overwhelmed by sorrow can rediscover hope.”

“Arise! Testify joyfully that Christ is alive! Spread his message of love and salvation among your contemporaries, at school and in the university, at work, in the digital world, everywhere.”

As well as international World Youth Day (WYD) gatherings typically held every three years, the Catholic Church also sponsors local youth day events for which the pope sends a message each year.

This year, WYD will be celebrated at the diocesan level on the Solemnity of Christ the King with the theme “Arise! I make you a witness of what you have seen,” inspired by Jesus’ words to St. Paul recorded in Acts 26:16.

In his message dated Sept. 14, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the pope praised young people for their resilience throughout the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed more than 4.7 million lives worldwide.

“All over the world, we saw great numbers of individuals, including many young people, helping to save lives, sowing seeds of hope, upholding freedom and justice, and acting as peacemakers and bridge builders,” he wrote.

“Whenever a young person falls, in some sense all humanity falls. Yet it is also true that when a young person rises, it is as if the whole world rises as well. Young people, what great potential you have in your hands! What great strength you have in your hearts!”

“Today too, God is saying to each one of you: ‘Arise!’ I fervently hope that this message may help us prepare for new times and a new page in the history of humanity. Yet we cannot begin anew without you, dear young people. If our world is to arise, it needs your strength, your enthusiasm, your passion.”

Pope Francis said that Paul’s life-changing encounter with Jesus underlined the need for humility.

“St. Thérèse of Lisieux, like so many other saints, loved to say that humility is truth,” the pope recalled.

“Nowadays we fill up our time, especially on social media, with any number of ‘stories,’ often carefully constructed with backdrops, web cameras, and special effects. More and more, we want to be in the spotlight, perfectly framed, ready to show our ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ an image of ourselves that does not reflect who we really are.”

“Christ, the noonday sun, comes to enlighten us and to restore our authenticity, freeing us from all our masks. He shows us clearly who we are, for that is exactly how he loves us.”

The Vatican released pastoral guidelines in May for local celebrations to encourage Church leaders to “give more importance to the diocesan celebration of WYD.”

The guidelines outlined six “cornerstones that must be at the heart of every WYD,” whether diocesan, regional, or international. These include making the event a joyful festival of faith, an experience of ecclesial communion, an opportunity for discernment, and an experience of pilgrimage.

Young people themselves should play an active role in organizing local celebrations, according to the guidelines.

The pope concluded his message: “I hope that all of us can experience these steps along the way as true pilgrims, and not merely as ‘religious tourists.’”

“May we be increasingly open to God’s surprises, for he wants to light up our path. May we be more and more open to hearing his voice, also through the voices of our brothers and sisters.”

“In this way, we will help one another to arise together and, at this troubled time in our history, we will become the prophets of a new and hope-filled future! May the Blessed Virgin Mary intercede for all of us.”

Swiss voters back same-sex marriage

Same-sex wedding cake. / Sara Valenti/Shutterstock

Bern, Switzerland, Sep 27, 2021 / 05:00 am (CNA).

Switzerland voted Sunday to legalize same-sex marriage.

Around 64% of voters backed the measure in a referendum on Sept. 26, making Switzerland the world’s 30th country to approve gay marriage.

The country bordering Italy, France, Germany, Austria, and Liechtenstein has recognized civil unions for same-sex couples since 2007, following a 2005 referendum.

In December 2020, the Swiss parliament approved a bill, called “Marriage for All,” legalizing same-sex marriage and introduced it into the Swiss Civil Code.

In April this year, Campaigners gathered enough signatures to secure a referendum. More than 61,000 valid signatures were submitted in favor of giving the country’s 8.5 million population a final say on the law.

CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, reported that the referendum result was tight in some areas of Switzerland, a federal republic officially known as the Swiss Confederation.

In the canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden, which is traditionally Catholic, 50.8% of voters backed the proposal, which will come into effect from July 2022.

CNA Deutsch said that Simone Curau-Aepli, president of the Swiss Catholic Women’s Federation (SKF), welcomed the referendum result.

“I am really happy that everyone has said yes to marriage for all. For us this is a highly emotional moment,” she commented.

“We at the Swiss Catholic Women’s Association have been fighting for this for 20 years and stand for equal dignity and equal rights.”

Switzerland’s Catholic bishops said in December that legalizing same-sex marriage was “fraught with numerous administrative, legal and ethical difficulties.”

“[T]he Catholic Church is primarily entrusted with the sacrament of marriage. She celebrates before God the union of man and woman as a common, stable, and reproductive life laid out in love,” the Swiss bishops’ conference said in a Dec. 4 statement.

“This is why [we are] convinced, also with regard to civil marriage, that the use of the term ‘marriage’ should not be extended to any connection between two people regardless of their gender. Such a use of the term would bring about an equality that, in [our] opinion, cannot exist.”