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Cardinal Kasper ‘very worried’ about German Church’s ‘Synodal Way’

Cardinal Walter Kasper. / CNA/Bohumil Petrik.

Passau, Germany, Jun 10, 2021 / 03:35 am (CNA).

An influential theologian considered to be close to Pope Francis has said that he is “very worried” about the German Catholic Church’s controversial “Synodal Way.”

Cardinal Walter Kasper said in a June 8 interview with the Passauer Bistumsblatt that he hoped the prayers of faithful Catholics could serve as a corrective.

The 88-year-old German cardinal said: “I have not yet given up hope that the prayers of many faithful Catholics will help to steer the Synodal Way in Germany on Catholic tracks.”

The Synodal Way is a multi-year process bringing together bishops and lay people to discuss four main topics: the way power is exercised in the Church; sexual morality; the priesthood; and the role of women.

The German bishops initially said that the process would end with a series of “binding” votes -- raising concerns at the Vatican that the resolutions might challenge the Church’s teaching and discipline.

Kasper told the weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Passau, in southeastern Germany, that the Synodal Way’s organizers should have paid greater attention to Pope Francis’ 2019 letter to the German Church.

In the letter, the pope warned German Catholics not to succumb to a particular “temptation.”

He wrote: “At the basis of this temptation, there is the belief that the best response to the many problems and shortcomings that exist is to reorganize things, change them and ‘put them back together’ to bring order and make ecclesial life easier by adapting it to the current logic or that of a particular group.”

Kasper asked: “Why did the Synodal Way not take Pope Francis’ letter more seriously and, as befits a synod, consider the critical questions in the light of the Gospel?”

The cardinal, who served as president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity from 2001 to 2010, also commented on the Synodal Way’s high media profile.

“It truly does not give a good public image,” he said. “I am very worried, but I am cautious about making a final overall judgment.”

CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, reported that Kasper noted that loud individual voices and groups dominated the public discussion.

“In the beginning, it may have been good to let the different opinions have their say without being filtered. But it is beyond my imagination that demands such as the abolition of celibacy and the ordination of women to the priesthood could eventually find the two-thirds majority of the bishops’ conference or command consensus in the universal Church,” he said.

The cardinal criticized not only the Synodal Way’s content but also its structure, arguing that it was hampered by a “birth defect.” He said that the process was “on weak legs.”

“It is neither a synod nor a mere dialogue process,” he commented. “Initially it is a process of dialogue, then the bishops’ conference has the floor and, finally, as far as the universal Church demands are concerned, it is the pope's turn.”

“Moreover, every bishop is free to accept whatever he sees fit in his diocese. In view of the obvious disagreement among the German bishops, it is difficult to imagine how all of this can be brought to a common denominator.”

The theologian, who served as bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart from 1989 to 1999, said that renewal could only come from an inner growth of faith, hope, and love.

In the interview, Kasper also argued that there was a serious problem with catechesis in the German Church.

“When I see what is happening in Roman parishes and in the United States, and under completely different conditions in Africa where catechesis happens, then we are a catechetical disaster zone,” he said.

“I don’t mean religious instruction in schools, which, given today’s school conditions, usually cannot be catechesis. What I am referring to is catechesis in the parish, on the occasion of baptism, first confession, First Communion and confirmation, marriage preparation, and family catechesis.”

“In places where this is done well, young people, young families with children, who can often be counted on the fingers of one hand in Germany, can be found at Sunday services.”

Commenting on the Vatican’s recent invitation to all Catholic dioceses to take part in the forthcoming synod on synodality, Kasper emphasized that one could “not reinvent the Church,” but rather contribute to renewing it in the Holy Spirit.

He said: “Synods are not a parliament, not a ‘paper factory’ that draws up long papers that hardly anyone reads afterward, nor a church regiment that says where to go.”

“Synods are gatherings in which, in crisis situations, the bishop, his presbyterate, and the faithful face the signs of the times together, look to the Gospel, and listen to what the Holy Spirit says to the congregations in prayer and in exchange with one another.”

He added: “If -- as the [Second Vatican] Council formulated -- a ‘unique harmony’ between leaders and believers comes about, then that is a sign of the Holy Spirit that we are on the right path.”

Pope Francis signaled his approval of the cardinal shortly after his election in 2013. Speaking on the first Sunday after his election, he praised the theologian’s book “Mercy: The Essence of the Gospel and the Key to Christian Life.”

The pope invited Kasper to address a consistory of cardinals in 2014 on the question of admitting divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to Holy Communion under certain circumstances.

The cardinal’s intervention influenced the ensuing debate at the family synods of 2014 and 2015, which led to the publication in 2016 of Amoris laetitia, Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on love in the family.

In the Passauer Bistumsblatt interview, Kasper explained his approach to non-Catholic Christians seeking to receive Communion in Catholic churches -- a topical issue in German Church circles.

The cardinal said that he had never turned away a person “out of respect for the personal conscience decisions of individual Christians.”

“This has now become fairly general pastoral practice in Germany and widely tolerated by the bishops. It is not perfect, but you can and must live with it for the time being,” said the Vatican’s former ecumenism czar.

But he expressed reservations about a controversial proposal for a “Eucharistic meal fellowship” between Catholics and Protestants in Germany.

The proposal was made by the Ecumenical Study Group of Protestant and Catholic Theologians (ÖAK) in a 2019 document entitled “Together at the Lord’s Table.”

He described the text, which prompted a Vatican intervention, as primarily “an academic document” and criticized its practical application at the Ecumenical Church Congress in Frankfurt last month.

Wedding cake, controversy and faith: Colorado baker's book recounts years-long legal fight

Cake artist Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado. / Alliance Defending Freedom.

Denver, Colo., Jun 10, 2021 / 03:01 am (CNA).

Jack Phillips, a Colorado baker whose decision not to bake cakes for same-sex weddings ended up taking him before the US Supreme Court, has told his story in a book about his profession, his Christian faith, and his belief that religious freedom benefits everyone.

 

“My canvas is a cake. I hope to create messages that help people celebrate different events,” he said, explaining that he and his wife discussed their design standards in light of their Christian faith at the very beginning of the cakeshop.

 

“In our case, we drew our lines in the sand way back before we opened in 1993 about which cakes we could create and which cakes we could not create, because of their messages. We can’t cross those (lines),” he told CNA May 28. “We serve everybody, we just can’t create every cake.”

 

Phillips is the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in the Denver suburb of Lakewood. In 2018, with support from the legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, he won a six-year legal battle in the U.S. Supreme Court after he faced legal action for declining to bake a cake to celebrate a same-sex couple’s union.

 

Despite continuing to be a focus of controversy and legal action, Phillips is steadfast.

 

“We drew our lines in the sand knowing that not crossing them might cause these problems. I was willing to lose my bakery,” Phillips said. “I would tell people your lines have to be worth it. I can’t celebrate a view of marriage that goes against my faith, and if friends and relatives disagree with that, my relationship with Christ is more important.”

 

He recounts his story in a new Salem Press book, The Cost of My Faith: How a Decision in My Cake Shop Took Me to the Supreme Court.

 

Phillips initially thought he could write a book to tell his story to his children and grandchildren. He also realized he had a platform to make his case that “all Americans should be free to live and work according to their conscience without fear of punishment from the government.”

 

“If this can happen in a small place like this, it can happen anywhere,” he said. “Every American needs to be prepared.”

 

“It’s been quite a ride,” Phillips recounted. “The first controversy happened in July 2012. Two men walked into my cake shop and asked me to create a wedding cake to celebrate a marriage. This marriage was different than my biblical view of marriage, and so I was forced to decline to create that cake and that message because of my Christian beliefs.”

 

“They swore at me, the flipped me off, they stormed out of my shop and filed a lawsuit,” said Phillips. “I was pretty stunned at that.”

 

He said he’d hoped for a longer conversation than that 20 second interaction. Phillips said he would sell birthday cakes, shower cakes, cookies, and brownies, “but I can’t create a cake for a same-sex wedding.”

 

Same-sex marriages were not recognized as legal unions in Colorado at the time. Nonetheless, the couple filed an anti-discrimination complaint under state law, claiming they faced discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

 

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled against the baker. They required Phillips to change his policy, to make wedding cakes for every customer, and to avoid personal participation in wedding cake design.

 

“If somebody wanted a cake that was adult themed or even pornographic I would have to do it or create it,” he said. “It was an easy decision to make, but the ramifications were that we had to give up our lucrative wedding business.”

 

Phillips and his wife had decided never to make cakes that celebrated Halloween, that were “anti-American or racist”, or “insulted other people, including people who identify as LGBT.”

 

“We knew even way back then we couldn’t bake cakes that celebrated same-sex marriages, even though in ‘91 or ‘92 that wasn’t anybody’s target,” he said.

 

 “We drew those lines in the sand. We knew we couldn’t cross them,” he told CNA. “That’s what I would say to all Americans: they should know where their lines are, and know how to fight for them, know that they have to be worth it first. And Jesus Christ is (worth it), and our relationship with him.”

 

The Supreme Court’s 7-2 decision did side with Phillips, but it did not rule on the free speech claims or the claims of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Rather, it found that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission proceedings against the baker “showed elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs motivating his objection.”

Phillips’ legal fights are not over. He is back in court after Autumn Scardina, an attorney who identifies as a transgender woman, asked that he bake a birthday cake with different colors to honor a gender transition. When he declined, the attorney filed a legal complaint alleging discrimination.

 

When the Colorado Civil Rights Commission accepted Scardina’s complaint in June 2018, Phillips then countersued Colorado. He claimed that he was being persecuted for his religious beliefs. The discovery phase of the case found evidence the state was displaying “anti-religious hostility.” The case before the commission was dropped in March 2019 in an agreement between Phillips and the State of Colorado that left open the possibility of a lawsuit from Scardina.

 

If the court rules unfavorably, Phillips and his legal team are prepared to appeal.

 

“If they do rule for us or if the case is dismissed, I was promised face-to-face by the person suing that I would be faced with another cake decision the very next day and we’d start all over again,” Phillips told CNA.

 

“We have to be prepared for a longer fight,” he said, voicing gratitude for the Alliance Defending Freedom legal group that is assisting in his case.

 

Jonathan Scruggs, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom working on Phillips’ case, said other creative professionals who work in the wedding business have faced struggles with similar laws, including calligraphers, photographers, and filmmakers.

 

“Jack has really set the standard or for how to interact in the public square and how to do so respectfully and peacefully,” he told CNA. Scruggs said it was “a shame” that the laws are being used as a “cancel culture” that targets people.

 

“In the current situation, this attorney called up Jack and asked for a cake to celebrate Satan. That wasn’t an out-of-the-blue request,” Scruggs said. “That is an unfortunate thing. I think in our pluralistic society, we need to learn how to disagree respectfully, and Jack has set the pattern for how to do that. We can disagree and still treat each other with grace.”

 

CNA sought comment from Scardina’s attorney, Paula Greisen, but did not receive a response by deadline. Greisen sits on the board of OneColorado, an LGBT advocacy group that has helped push for social, political, and legal changes in Colorado.

 

John McHugh, another attorney for Scardina, previously said it does not matter whether his client asked for a sex-change cake or a birthday cake.

 

“What matters is they refused to make her a cake based on her identity,” he said in March, according to the Associated Press.

 

For his part, Phillips has drawn support from Mike Jones, a gay man who supports his stand and testified on his behalf in court.

 

“These rights that we all hold dear, the freedom to exercise our religion, our free speech rights, these are freedoms we all value and cherish,” said Phillips. “Without those valuable freedoms, we lose all of them.”

 

Phillips said these freedoms are spiritually important for his growth as a person.

 

“I think those freedoms help for a better society,” he said. “We’re even fighting for those freedoms for the people who are suing me. I’m sure If those freedoms were gone, they would miss them and wish they hadn’t been involved in the fight to tear them down.”

 

He also reflected on God’s role in his life.

 

“God has been faithful to us,” he said. “I know that God has used these experiences to strengthen us, because my heart is fully committed to him.” Drawing on 2 Chronicles 16:9, Phillips said he believes that God is “looking for anyone whose heart is fully committed to him, to strengthen him and to show his strength through him.”

Thursday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading I 2 Cor 3:15—4:1, 3-6

Brothers and sisters:
To this day, whenever Moses is read,
a veil lies over the hearts of the children of Israel,
but whenever a person turns to the Lord the veil is removed.
Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, 
there is freedom.
All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord,
are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory,
as from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Therefore, since we have this ministry through the mercy shown us,
we are not discouraged.
And even though our Gospel is veiled,
it is veiled for those who are perishing,
in whose case the god of this age
has blinded the minds of the unbelievers,
so that they may not see the light of the Gospel
of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
For we do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord,
and ourselves as your slaves for the sake of Jesus.
For God who said, Let light shine out of darkness,
has shone in our hearts to bring to light
the knowledge of the glory of God
on the face of Jesus Christ.

Responsorial Psalm 85:9ab and 10, 11-12, 13-14

R.    (see 10b)  The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.
I will hear what God proclaims;
    the LORD–for he proclaims peace to his people.
Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him,
    glory dwelling in our land.
R.    The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.
Kindness and truth shall meet;
    justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
    and justice shall look down from heaven.
R.    The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.
The LORD himself will give his benefits;
    our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
    and salvation, along the way of his steps.
R.    The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.

Alleluia Jn 13:34

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I give you a new commandment:
love one another as I have loved you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 5:20-26

Jesus said to his disciples: 
“I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that
of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment,
and whoever says to his brother,
Raqa, will be answerable to the Sanhedrin,
and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”

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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.

Deaths by euthanasia soared last year in Canada

Oleksandr Lysenko/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jun 9, 2021 / 18:02 pm (CNA).

The number of Canadians who ended their lives by euthanasia and assisted suicide increased by 17% in 2020, the country’s health department announced on Monday. 

According to Abby Hoffman, assistant deputy minister of Health Canada, 7,595 people received “medically assisted deaths” last year, a figure which amounts to 2.5% of all deaths in Canada for the year. 

In 2019, 5,631 people died by physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia in Canada, which accounted for 2% of all deaths in the country. 

Hoffman revealed the numbers at a joint parliamentary committee meeting. Members of the committee are reviewing the country’s euthanasia practices. 

In Canada, a patient who is requesting lethal drugs does not have to self-administer the medication. While Canadians have the option to do so, the number of patients who self-administer the medication is statistically insignificant.

The increase in physician-assisted deaths occurred prior to passage of a law that could greatly expand the number of patients requesting euthanasia. Bill C-7, which eliminated the requirement that a patient’s death be “reasonably foreseeable” in order for lethal drugs to be prescribed them, became law in March 2021.

Bill C-7 allows for any patient who is suffering, regardless if their condition is terminal or not, to request and receive an assisted death. Under the new law, depression and other mental illnesses are grounds for euthanasia and assisted suicide. 

On Monday, Hoffman stated that in 2020, as in years past, cancer was the most commonly-cited illness among people who requested lethal drugs. The reasons most frequently cited for requesting euthanasia were “the inability to engage in meaningful activities or perform activities of daily living.” 

Each year since euthanasia was legalized in Canada in 2016, the number of people who have requested and received the procedure has increased. Hoffman said she believed that this increase is connected to greater public awareness. 

“Increased awareness and greater acceptance by Canadians of MAID [medical aid-in-dying] as an end-of-life option has resulted in steady growth in MAID since 2016,” she said.

According to Hoffman, a nearly equal number of men and women requested physician-assisted suicide. The requests did not disproportionately come from either rural or urban areas.

In total, 9,300 people submitted written requests for euthanasia, of which 79% were carried out. Hoffman stated that 50 people changed their minds after requesting an assisted death and withdrew their request prior to receiving it. In many cases, a patient died before lethal drugs could be administered.

Hoffman said that of those who died by physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia, most had access to palliative care or had received palliative care, but still opted to end their lives.

Bill C-7  was written in response to a Quebec Superior Court decision in September 2019 that found that two people with disabilities who were not terminally ill had the legal right to request that a doctor end their lives.

In the case, Jean Truchon, a Quebec man who had cerebral palsy, filed suit after his request to end his life was denied as his condition was not terminal.

A judge ruled that Truchon and his co-plaintiff Nicole Gladu, who has post-polio syndrome, could not be denied a euthanasia or assisted suicide if they wished to end their lives, and that both lethal procedures should be available to Canadians without terminal conditions.

Truchon received euthanasia in April 2020. Gladu is still alive.

Spanish bishop cricitizes bill that would criminalize pro-life witness near abortion clinics

The March for Life in Washington, D.C., Jan. 27, 2017. / Jeff Bruno.

Madrid, Spain, Jun 9, 2021 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

The secretary general of the Spanish bishops’ conference on Saturday questioned on Twitter a bill proposed by the ruling Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party that would criminalize “harassment” of women entering abortion clinics.

“They have decriminalized ‘informational pickets’; they want to penalize those who give information to mothers who are going in to have an abortion. It is worrisome for our democracy when criminal law is used for or against specific people or to suit a partisan ideology,” Bishop Luis Javier Argüello Garcia, an auxiliary bishop of Valladolid, tweeted June 5.

The bill introduced May 21 by the PSOE’s coalition in the Congress of Deputies, the lower house of Spain’s legislature, would criminalize "harassing women going to clinics for the voluntary interruption of pregnancy."

Penalties for what would be deemed harassment would include jail terms of three months to a year, or community service from 31 to 80 days. Depending on circumstances, an individual could also be barred from a particular location for between six months and three years.

In the exposition of motives for introducing the bill, the PSOE characterized the “harassment” of pro-life witness at abortion clinics as “approaching women with photographs, model fetuses, and proclamations against abortion … the objective is for the women to change their decision through coercion, intimidation, and harassment.”

The socialist parliamentary group said it “considers it essential to guarantee a safety zone” around abortion clinics.

Anyone promoting, favoring, or participating in demonstrations near abortion clinics would be subject to penalties.

One outreach the bill could ban is Life Ambulance, which offers “a free ultrasound in front of the abortion clinic to show the mother the reality of her child and the heartbeat of her baby.” 

The mobile ultrasound initiative has "all the legal permits and certified medical professionals” to provide the service.

Life Ambulance has launched an online petition to oppose the bill, saying it “violates the right to freedom of speech, the right to demonstrate and the mother's right to know the reality of abortion.”

Several locales have in recent years considered or adopted “buffer zones” around abortion clinics that limit free speech in the protected areas.

Pro-choice activists in 2020 called on the Scottish government to ban prayer and public discussion of abortion in the vicinity of the country’s abortion clinics.

Proposals for buffer zones around abortion clinics throughout England and Wales were rejected as disproportionate by the then-British Home Secretary in September 2018, after finding that most abortion protests are peaceful and passive.

Sajid Javid said that after reviewing the evidence, which included “upsetting examples of harassment … what is clear from the evidence we gathered is that these activities are not the norm, and predominantly, anti-abortion activities are more passive in nature.”

The typical activities of those protesting outside of abortion clinics in England and Wales “include praying, displaying banners and handing out leaflets,” Javid noted.

Javid said that there are already laws in place to protect people against intimidation and harassment in public spaces, including the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, which extends to Scotland, and the Public Order Act 1986.

In England, a buffer zone was imposed by Ealing Council, in west London, around a Marie Stopes abortion clinic in April 2018. The zone prevents any pro-life gathering or speech, including prayer, within about 330 feet of the clinic.

The Ealing buffer zone, which was upheld by the Court of Appeal of England and Wales in August 2019, was cited by Javid as an example of a local government using civil legislation “to restrict harmful protest activities,” rather than a nationwide policy.

Shortly after the Ealing buffer zone was adopted, Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth said that “to remove from the environment of the abortion clinics alternative voices is to limit freedom of choice. Indeed, research shows that many women have been grateful for the last-minute support they have thereby received.”

“The imposition of ‘no-prayer zones’ outside clinics – I mean prayerful vigil, not militant or disruptive action – is unhelpful, unjust and unnecessary,” Bishop Egan said.

Biden administration cites ‘duty’ to uphold Title IX exemption for Christian schools

Christopher E Zimmer/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jun 9, 2021 / 16:01 pm (CNA).

The Biden administration on Tuesday said it is required by law to uphold a Title IX exemption for religious colleges, in response to a lawsuit filed by students identifying as LGBT.

Filing in an Oregon district court, the Justice Department said that religious post-secondary schools seeking to intervene in a case to defend their Title IX religious exemption are not entitled to do so; the colleges have not made a “compelling” case that the federal government won’t defend their religious exemption in court, the Biden administration argued.

In the case of Hunter v. U.S. Department of Education, the pro-LGBT Religious Exemption Accountability Project in March filed a lawsuit on behalf of 33 current and former students from more than 20 colleges associated with evangelical Christianity and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

The students, who identify as LGBT, said they experienced discrimination at the schools on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The schools, they argued, should be subject to the Title IX prohibition on sex discrimination – which the Biden administration interprets to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Title IX includes an exemption for religious colleges and universities.

In response, two Christian universities and one seminary – as well as the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities – in April moved to intervene in the case to defend their religious exemptions. The three schools – Corban University, William Jessup University, and Phoenix Seminary – are represented by the group Alliance Defending Freedom.

In a court filing reported by the Washington Post on Tuesday, the Biden administration argued that the colleges should not be able to intervene in the case, because they have not proven that the administration would not adequately defend their religious exemption in court.

The Justice Department stated that “at this stage of the litigation, it is premature to conclude that the Federal Defendants would neglect to raise, or be ‘ill-equipped’ to develop, effective arguments in support of the Religious Exemption.”

The administration said that it has a “duty” to uphold the statutory religious exemption, and thus shares the same interests as the colleges “to uphold the Religious Exemption as it is currently applied,” and “to defend the statutory exemption and its current application by ED.”

Reached by CNA on Wednesday, Alliance Defending Freedom declined to comment on the government’s court filing.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination in federally-funded education programs and activities. It includes a religious exemption for colleges and universities that are “controlled by a religious organization.”

The Justice Department in March issued guidance interpreting Title IX to also apply to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The Biden administration on Tuesday acknowledged that it is in the process of reviewing Title IX regulations, but stated its duty to uphold existing legal statutes – namely, the religious exemption.

“But neither the Administration’s stated policy positions nor the Department’s review of existing regulations abrogate the government’s duty to defend federal statutes and regulations in court as a legal matter,” the Justice Department stated.

The president of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities told CNA in May that if the court overturned the colleges’ religious exemptions, they could be forced to forego federal financial student aid.

This “would have a disproportionate impact on low-income and first-generation college students, as well as students from racial and ethnic minority groups,” the council’s president Shirley V. Hoogstra said.

In May, a lawyer for the Religious Exemption Accountability Project told Inside Higher Ed that the colleges’ motion to intervene was “premature” as the administration  “has not indicated whether they will defend the Title IX religious exemption or whether they will be neutral or align with the plaintiffs.” 

On his first day in office, President Biden stated his administration’s policy of applying federal civil rights protections against sex discrimination to sexual orientation and gender identity, in a sweeping executive order.

Biden cited the Supreme Court’s 2020 ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, where the court majority said that Title VII prohibitions on sex discrimination in employment did apply to sexual orientation and gender identity as well.

In his majority opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch acknowledged concerns of religious Americans about future conflicts pitting claims of LGBT discrimination against religious freedom claims. He said that religious employers could appeal to statutory religious protections such as those within Title VII, the First Amendment, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. How these statutes “interact with Title VII are questions for future cases too,” he said.

The Education Department has already begun implementing the order. While the agency previously supported female high school athletes in their lawsuit over Connecticut’s transgender athletics policy, the Biden administration withdrew that support.

#26: Fr. Jorge Torres – Specialist to USCCB’s Secretariat for Evangelization and Catechesis

Father Jorge Torres explains plans for USSCB Eucharistic Revival.

Wednesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading I 2 Cor 3:4-11

Brothers and sisters:
Such confidence we have through Christ toward God.
Not that of ourselves we are qualified to take credit
for anything as coming from us;
rather, our qualification comes from God,
who has indeed qualified us as ministers of a new covenant,
not of letter but of spirit;
for the letter brings death, but the Spirit gives life.

Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, was so glorious
that the children of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses
because of its glory that was going to fade,
how much more will the ministry of the Spirit be glorious?
For if the ministry of condemnation was glorious,
the ministry of righteousness will abound much more in glory.
Indeed, what was endowed with glory
has come to have no glory in this respect
because of the glory that surpasses it.
For if what was going to fade was glorious,
how much more will what endures be glorious.

Responsorial Psalm 99:5, 6, 7, 8, 9

R.    (see 9c)  Holy is the Lord our God.
Extol the LORD, our God,
    and worship at his footstool;
    holy is he!
R.    Holy is the Lord our God.
Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
    and Samuel, among those who called upon his name;
    they called upon the LORD, and he answered them.
R.    Holy is the Lord our God.
From the pillar of cloud he spoke to them;
    they heard his decrees and the law he gave them.
R.    Holy is the Lord our God.
O LORD, our God, you answered them;
    a forgiving God you were to them,
    though requiting their misdeeds. 
R.    Holy is the Lord our God.
Extol the LORD, our God,
    and worship at his holy mountain;
    for holy is the LORD, our God.
R.    Holy is the Lord our God.

Alleluia Ps 25:4b, 5a

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Teach me your paths, my God,
and guide me in your truth.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 5:17-19

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so
will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.
But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”

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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.

#30: Eucharist Body And Blood Of Christ

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ, For many months, we were starving. We were in ‘lockdown’ as we compassionately cared for our sisters and brothers—to protect them from a deadly disease. It was our proclamation of life in its fullest—a proclamation of the gift of the Eucharist—that we deprived ourselves of so great a gift … Continue reading "#30: Eucharist Body And Blood Of Christ"

Tuesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading I 2 Cor 1:18-22

Brothers and sisters:
As God is faithful, our word to you is not “yes” and “no.”
For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was proclaimed to you by us,
Silvanus and Timothy and me,
was not “yes” and “no,” but “yes” has been in him.
For however many are the promises of God, their Yes is in him;
therefore, the Amen from us also goes through him to God for glory.
But the one who gives us security with you in Christ
and who anointed us is God;
he has also put his seal upon us
and given the Spirit in our hearts as a first installment.

Responsorial Psalm 119:129, 130, 131, 132, 133, 135

R. (135a) Lord, let your face shine on me.
Wonderful are your decrees;
    therefore I observe them.
R. Lord, let your face shine on me.
The revelation of your words sheds light,
    gives understanding to the simple.
R. Lord, let your face shine on me.
I gasp with open mouth
    in my yearning for your commands.
R. Lord, let your face shine on me.
Turn to me in pity
    as you turn to those who love your name.
R. Lord, let your face shine on me.
Steady my footsteps according to your promise,
    and let no iniquity rule over me.
R. Lord, let your face shine on me.
Let your countenance shine upon your servant,
    and teach me your statutes. 
R. Lord, let your face shine on me.

Alleluia Mt 5:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Let your light shine before others 
that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 5:13-16

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.”

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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.