September 5, 2023 // National

News Briefs: September 10, 2023

Catholic Charities Helps Floridians Ravaged by Idalia

PERRY, Florida (OSV News) – Catholic aid workers are rolling up their sleeves to help tens of thousands of people after Tropical Storm Idalia slammed into the Southeast. “I just feel horrible for residents, that they had to go through this,” Matthew Knee, President and CEO of Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida, told OSV News. Initially a Category 4 hurricane, Idalia made landfall on Wednesday, August 30, hitting Florida’s Big Bend area – where the state’s panhandle meets its peninsula – as a Category 3 hurricane, and the largest to touch down in the Big Bend area in more than 125 years. Idalia weakened to a tropical storm August 30 as it tore through the southeast United States before heading into the Atlantic on Thursday, August 31. Idalia caused flooding, wind damage and record-level storm surges, leaving more than 400,000 customers in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina without power. Knee said Catholic Charities was working to provide both immediate emergency assistance as well as long-term recovery as part of “(keeping) people in their homes and in their communities” and “serving the poorest of the poor.” That work is “in our blood; it’s who we are and what we do,” said Knee. “We are the hands and feet of Christ.”

U.S. Archbishop: ‘Radical Solidarity’ with Working Families Needed

WASHINGTON, D.C. (OSV News) – The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ domestic policy committee said the nation has “urgent work” to do to really show a “radical solidarity with working families” and ongoing support for the well-being of all families. “There are signs of improvement and concern regarding the economy,” with inflation slowing and workers’ wages rising, Archbishop Borys Gudziak of the Ukrainian Archeparchy of Philadelphia said in a statement issued on Wednesday, August 30, by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops ahead of Labor Day, which was observed on Monday, September 4. Despite positive economic indicators, “more families feel like they are worse off today than the year before. … We must do more to help families,” said the archbishop, who is Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. Archbishop Gudziak called for a strengthened Child Tax Credit and a national parental leave policy, and underscored the anti-poverty work of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. “The purpose of the economy is to enable families to thrive. This notion is deeply rooted in Catholic social teaching,” he said. “There is still urgent work needed to exercise radical solidarity with mothers, children, and families,” Archbishop Gudziak said. “Let us pray and act towards this end, always listening to the Lord who fulfills glad tidings in our hearing His word each day.”

Alabama Priest Who Fled to Italy to Be Laicized

(OSV News) – A priest who fled the country with a recent Catholic high school graduate will be laicized, Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi of Mobile, Alabama, announced on the archdiocese’s website, as family concerns mount over their inability to reach the young woman who is traveling with him. Father Alex Crow, who was ordained in June of 2021 and had served as a parochial vicar at Corpus Christi Parish in Mobile, abruptly left his assignment on July 24. The 30-year-old priest flew to Italy with an unnamed 18-year-old woman who is a recent graduate of McGill-Toolen Catholic High School in Mobile, which Father Crow also attended. Archbishop Rodi, who had removed Father Crow’s priestly faculties in late July, intends to initiate the canonical procedure of dismissing Father Crow from the clerical state.

Archbishop, Faithful Celebrate Mass after Arson Strikes Historic Oregon Church

SALEM, Oregon (OSV News) – Oregon’s Catholic archbishop joined some 300 faithful for Mass in the rain, hours after a devastating fire had heavily damaged their historic church in Salem. “My heart is really just filled with emotion,” said a visibly moved Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of Portland, adding that he was “deeply saddened by what has happened to your house.” An overnight fire that broke out Thursday, August 31, destroyed the roof and interior portions of St. Joseph Catholic Church, the oldest Catholic parish in downtown Salem. No casualties were reported. The fire was quickly ruled an arson, and Billy James Sweeten, 48, was apprehended and charged with first-degree arson. “This is a sad day,” St. Joseph’s pastor Father Jeff Meeuwsen told local media, speaking just before he joined Archbishop Sample and faithful for an August 31 afternoon Mass, celebrated in the church parking lot under pop-up tents and a huddle of umbrellas. Several parishioners knelt in the rain during the liturgy. Archbishop Sample reminded the congregation the fire “may have burned the building, but the church is her people.” “We will recover what we can, when we can,” Father Meeuwsen told media before the Mass. “Keep praying for us.”

Pro-Life Supporters Ordered to Remain in Jail

WASHINGTON, D.C. (OSV News) – Lauren Handy and four other activists convicted for an abortion clinic blockade in Washington in 2020 must remain in jail in Alexandria, Virginia, until their sentencing takes place in federal court. Handy’s lawyers from the Chicago-based Thomas More Society had filed an emergency motion on Wednesday, August 30, asking for her to be released before sentencing, arguing that the violation of the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (or FACE Act) did not constitute a “crime of violence.” But Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia turned down the motion, for Handy and the others, on Thursday, August 31. “Though a point well taken, the court concludes that the FACE Act creates distinct offenses, some of which are crimes of violence,” her decision read. The five activists face as many as 11 years in federal prison, fines of up to $350,000 each, and three years of supervised release. They were convicted on Tuesday, August 29, of the FACE Act violation and conspiracy against rights, both felonies.

Excitement about National Eucharistic Congress Is Growing

INDIANAPOLIS (OSV News) – Scores of local and national organizers of the National Eucharistic Congress, which will take place in Indianapolis from July 17-21, 2024, met in person for the first time in Indianapolis on Wednesday, August 30, at Lucas Oil Stadium. “The Holy Spirit is inviting the United States to find unity and renewal through a grassroots National Eucharistic Revival,” said Jaime Reyna, Event Lead for the National Eucharistic Congress, quoting remarks from a letter written by Executive Director Tim Glemkowski. “This movement – discerned and approved by the bishops of the U.S. – is critical to rekindling a living faith in the hearts of Catholics across America, unleashing a new missionary chapter at this pivotal moment in Church history. … The goal is to start a fire, not a program.” More than 25,000 people have already registered for the event, said Reyna. In addition to general and breakout sessions, the five-day event will be filled with opportunities for prayer, worship, and the sacraments, said Father Patrick Beidelman, Pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Indianapolis and Chair of the National Eucharistic Congress liturgy committee. “We’ll have a large Mass each day, three at the Indiana Convention Center and the closing Mass at Lucas Oil Stadium … and opportunities for confession all over the place,” he said, adding that St. John the Evangelist Church across from the convention center “will be turned into a place of perpetual adoration starting on Wednesday evening through Sunday.” To learn more about the event, or to purchase tickets, visit

A woman holds a cross as she takes part in a March for Life against abortion in Mexico City May 7, 2022. Mexico’s Supreme Court overturned a state-level abortion ban Aug. 30, 2023, a decision observers say could hasten the removal of restrictions on the procedure nationwide. (OSV News photo/Toya Sarno Jordan)

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