September 26, 2023 // National

News Briefs: October 1, 2023

Pope Condemns Child Pornography: ‘Criminality Available to Everyone’

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Child pornography is “criminality available to everyone through their phones,” Pope Francis said while discussing abuse prevention with representatives of a safeguarding research and formation center from Latin America on Monday, September 25, at the Vatican. The pope put aside his prepared remarks to address “a problem that is very serious on this matter of abuse, the filming of child pornography.” Pope Francis continued: “Unfortunately, by paying a small fee, one can have it one their phone. Where is this child pornography made? In which country is it made? Nobody knows. But it is criminality available to everyone through their phones.” At the Vatican on September 25, he told the safeguarding representatives that the Church has come a long way in combatting abuse thanks to “prophetic pastors” such as Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston, president of the Commission for the Protection of Minors, who was in Rome for the commission’s plenary assembly. The pope praised the cardinal, who was at the meeting, for being able to take hold of the “hot potato” that was the clerical sex abuse crisis in Boston. Still, Pope Francis recalled the “sad reality” of abuse cases in the Church and in the world, objecting to people who may say, “ah, there aren’t so many.” Pope Francis said, “If it were only one, it would already be scandalous, just one, and there are more than one.”

Michigan, Florida Bishops Decry ‘Grave’ Abortion Efforts

(OSV News) – The Michigan Catholic Conference – the public policy arm of the state’s bishops – is calling on state legislators to oppose what it called an “appalling” package of bills that would scrap widely supported regulations on the abortion industry in the state. The so-called “Reproductive Health Act,” which passed the Democratic-controlled House Health Policy Committee in the state House of Representatives on Wednesday, September 20, would legalize third trimester partial-birth abortions, end state-required inspections and licensure standards for abortion clinics, and overturn informed-consent laws that require clinics to warn women of the dangers of the procedure. The Michigan Catholic Conference appealed to lawmakers to conduct a “conscience check” and reject the extreme bills. Similarly, Florida’s Catholic bishops in mid-September alerted the faithful to an “extremely grave initiative” underway in their state that “seeks to erase pro-life protections by banning government regulation of abortion in our state constitution.” They urged Catholics not to sign any petition to get this “pro-abortion constitutional amendment, titled Amendment to Limit Government Interference with Abortion, placed on the statewide ballot for the November 2024 election.” “A network of abortion activists is working to gather (900,000) petition signatures,” the bishops said in a statement released in Tallahassee by the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett Praises ‘Academic Freedom’ at CUA Law Event

WASHINGTON, D.C. (OSV News) – Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett discussed the importance of academic freedom and offered career advice in remarks to law students at The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, September 21. In an event hosted by the school’s Project on Constitutional Originalism and the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, Barrett participated in a discussion about the study and practice of law, and offered insight about her own rationale for deciding whether she will file a concurring opinion in cases at the high court. Admitting her views could change over time, Barrett said, “The way that I think about it right now is I would say that I have what I might think of as an institutionalist perspective on opinions. And if I’m in the majority, my presumption is that the court’s opinion speaks for the court.” An estimated 250 people attended the event. Barrett, a Catholic jurist who was previously a professor at the Notre Dame Law School in South Bend, said academic freedom at a Catholic university “really opens up more lines of inquiry than narrows or shuts them down because it invites, very explicitly, another perspective to the table.”

Garland Questioned Over FBI Memo on ‘Radical Traditionalist Catholics’

WASHINGTON, D.C. (OSV News) – Attorney General Merrick Garland was questioned about a controversial and retracted FBI memo that suggested some “radical traditionalist” Catholics pose threats of racial or ethnically motivated violence during testimony on Wednesday, September 20, before the House Judiciary Committee. Garland reiterated his previous condemnation of that memo, which was leaked earlier this year. The memo said “Radical Traditionalist Catholics” are typified by rejection of the Second Vatican Council and can include an “adherence to anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ, and white supremacist ideology.” It listed as examples several groups and persons who identify as Catholic but take openly adversarial positions against the Catholic Church’s leadership or official teachings. The memo defined “radical traditionalist” Catholics as “separate and distinct” from “traditionalist Catholics” or Catholics who “simply prefer the Traditional Latin Mass and pre-Vatican II teachings.” Garland noted his previous condemnations of the now-retracted memo and said it was “absurd” to suggest he would discriminate against any religion when his own family’s history involved fleeing religious persecution in Eastern Europe and losing relatives to the Holocaust. Garland said, “Catholics are not extremists, no.”

Pope Names Two Chinese Bishops to Synod

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – On the recommendation of the Catholic bishops of mainland China in consultation with the Chinese government, Pope Francis has named two bishops from the country’s mainland as members of the assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, October 4. Bishop Joseph Yang Yongqiang of Zhoucun, who has served as vice president of the government-related Council of Chinese Bishops, and Bishop Anthony Yao Shun of Jining, the first bishop ordained after the Vatican and China signed a provisional agreement on the nomination of bishops in 2018, will be among the 365 synod members, a number which includes the pope, the Vatican said. The Vatican released an updated list of people expected to participate in the assembly of the Synod of Bishops on Thursday, September 21.

U.S. Catholic Archbishop Receives Award from Ukraine President

WASHINGTON, D.C. (OSV News) – Metropolitan Archbishop Borys Gudziak of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia received the Cross of Ivan Mazepa from Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday, September 21, at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Zelenskyy visited the U.S. capital for meetings after addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, September 19. Established in 2009, the award honors individuals who have made “significant personal contribution to strengthening interstate cooperation, support of state sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and popularization of the Ukrainian state in the world,” according to a news release from the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska said at the ceremony that the U.S.-born archbishop, who is the son of Ukrainian immigrants, “is known to thousands of Ukrainians – soldiers, displaced persons, and many others whom he helps, and young people who, thanks to him, get a great education.” A trained historian who holds a doctorate in Slavic and Byzantine cultural history from Harvard University, Archbishop Gudziak is president of Ukrainian Catholic University, which has become a model for Ukrainian higher education, scholarship, disability awareness, human rights advocacy, and social innovation. It is “civil society in Ukraine” who “truly deserves recognition,” the archbishop said. “Only God can fathom the depths of their merit.”

Visitors gather in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican to pray the Angelus with Pope Francis Sept. 24, 2023. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

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