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Linden Cameron shooting ‘devastating,’ Catholic disability group says

Denver Newsroom, Sep 27, 2020 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- The director of a Catholic organization focused on the needs of people with disabilities said Wednesday that the police shooting of a Utah boy with autism points to the importance of advocacy, understanding, and compassion for people with autism and other disabilities.

“This situation shines a light on two diagnoses unfortunately on the rise in our world: autism and mental illness,” Charleen Katra, director of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability, told CNA this week.

“More importantly, we see how the lives of persons currently living with either or both diagnoses are in dire need of understanding and advocacy,” Katra said.

“This situation makes us all weep, along with God. All human beings, in all circumstances, deserve to be treated with dignity.”

Linden Cameron, a 13-year-old Salt Lake City boy, was seriously injured and hospitalized after he was shot by a police officer Sept. 4.

Cameron has Asperger syndrome, also called autism spectrum disorder, and had a mental health crisis on Friday, Sept. 4, according to his mother, Golda Barton. Cameron also has mental health problems; in police bodycam footage his mother said he was under the care of a psychiatrist for multiple mental health diagnoses, and that he has sensory processing disorder.

Barton called 911 on Sept. 4, and requested a crisis intervention officer. She said her son needed to be hospitalized for mental health treatment.

When police officers, rather than a crisis team, arrived, Barton told them that her son was scared of police, had difficult processing commands, was likely to run, and that he needed to be hospitalized. She also told police that Cameron might have a BB gun or a pellet gun. Asked by police if it was a real gun, Barton said she did not believe it was a real gun.

Police expressed uncertainty about how best to approach Cameron, according to bodycam footage, before they approached his house, and, after he began to run, began pursuing him.

After a foot chase through an alley, Cameron slowed to a walk on a sidewalk. Police instructed him to get on the ground as they approached him, and he did not do so.

A police officer then fired 11 shots, and Cameron fell to the ground. He told police “I don’t feel good,” and “Tell my mom I love her,” before the bodycam footage ended.

Cameron suffered injuries to his intestines, bladder, colon, shoulder, and ankles, his mother has said. The shooting is now under investigation in Utah.

“The actions documented in this case are devastating on many levels. The call from a desperate mother for assistance, who rightly requested a crisis intervention team to deescalate a challenging situation, was met with behaviors that did the exact opposite,” Katra told CNA.

“Persons with autism and mental illness often live daily with high levels of anxiety. What Linden needed was patience and compassion. The ability of a person already anxious or experiencing a mental health episode to process actions and words of others will be delayed even more than usual,” she added.

A person with autism spectrum disorders is likely to have difficulties during encounters with police, experts say, because some behaviors typical in persons with autism, such as avoiding eye contact or moving hands rapidly, can be interpreted as a threat if police lack specific training or experience related to autism. Those with mental health problems also have disproportionately challenging interactions with police, as their actions can be perceived as belligerent or threatening.

Barton pointed out in an interview early this month that when police approached her son, he was walking, within reach of them, and smaller than them.

“He’s a small child. Why didn’t you just tackle him?” Barton asked police during an interview with KUTV News. “He’s a baby. He has mental issues.”

“Linden Cameron is a creation of the Creator; made in God's image. We must continue to educate and advocate for individuals with greater needs with haste,” Katra added.

Police officers have not commented on the shooting, because it is now under investigation.

In a Sept. 9 statement, the Salt Lake City diocese told CNA: “We offer our prayers for Linden Cameron and his family. Whatever the results of the ongoing investigations, we are heartbroken to see a child caught in our culture of gun violence.”

In its statement, the Salt Lake City diocese said it “supports and encourages continued discussions with law enforcement about the use of force and legislative action to ensure that the dignity and sanctity of all life is protected throughout our criminal justice system.”

The National Catholic Partnership on Disability says it is the “voice of the U.S. Catholic Bishops” on disabilities, and was founded to implement the U.S. bishops’ conference’s 1978 pastoral statement on the full inclusion of people with disabilities in the Catholic Church. The organization is affiliated with the U.S. bishops’ conference.



‘A person of utmost integrity’: Catholic leaders pay tribute to Amy Coney Barrett

CNA Staff, Sep 27, 2020 / 10:30 am (CNA).- Catholic leaders and academics have voiced their support following President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court.

Tributes to the Catholic judge and nominee followed Barrett’s official presentation in the White House Rose Garden Saturday evening, after a week of speculation that she was the president’s choice.

Announcing the selection, Trump called Barrett “one of our nation’s most brilliant and gifted legal minds,” Trump said, paying tribute to Barrett as “a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials and unyielding loyalty to the constitution,” and “eminently qualified” for service on the nation’s highest court

Barrett graduated from Rhodes College before receiving a full scholarship to Notre Dame Law School where she graduated first in her class. 

Barrett went on to clerk for Judge Laurence Silberman and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, before going into private practice. She returned to Notre Dame Law School and taught classes in 2002 before becoming a professor in 2010. She currently serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, a position to which Trump nominated her in 2017. 

Speaking after the nomination was announced, Notre Dame University president Fr. John Jenkins, CSC, paid tribute to Barrett, saying that "the same impressive intellect, character and temperament that made Judge Barrett a successful nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals will serve her and the nation equally well as a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court."

"She is a person of the utmost integrity who, as a jurist, acts first and foremost in accordance with the law," Jenkins said.

Writing in the Washington Post, John Garvey, an expert in U.S. constitutional law and the president of The Catholic University of America, recalled meeting Barrett when she was a student of his at Notre Dame Law.

“After she graduated from law school,” Garvey said, “I wrote a one-line letter of recommendation for her to [Supreme Court] Justice Antonin Scalia: ‘Amy Coney is the best student I ever had.’ He was wise to hire her as a clerk.”

Bishop Thomas Tobin of Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, also welcomed the announcement, saying on Twitter: “Congratulations to Judge Amy Coney Barrett, now nominated to the Supreme Court. May God bless Judge Coney Barrett and her beautiful family with grace and peace in the challenging days to come.”

President Trump noted on Saturday that Barrett received bipartisan support during her Senate confirmation in 2017 and that as “a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials and unyielding loyalty to the constitution,” she is “eminently qualified” for service on the nation’s highest court.

Republican Senate leaders have indicated that they will move quickly to schedule confirmation hearings before the Senate judiciary committee and bring Barrett’s nomination to a full vote.

Barrett said Saturday that she “looked forward” to working with members of the Senate during the confirmation process.

“I will do my very best to demonstrate that I am worthy of your support,” she said, while conceding that she had “no illusions that the road ahead of me will be easy, either for the short term or the long haul.”

Judiciary committee chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said he expects hearings to begin on Barrett’s nomination on Oct. 12, but two Democratic members of the committee, Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CON), said they would refuse to meet with Barrett prior to the hearings.

In a statement sent to CNA Saturday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a Catholic, called Barrett “a well-qualified, highly respected nominee.”

“That’s why the Senate previously confirmed her,” Rubio said, while also noting that the judge’s Catholic faith would likely feature during the confirmation process.

During Barrett’s 2017 nomination hearing, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) questioned her on her personal faith and values, saying that “when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern.”

In the past week, media criticism has focused on Barrett’s Catholic faith and the size of her family – she has seven children, including two children adopted from Haiti.

On Saturday, Rubio called Barrett “a person who is strong in her faith. Sadly, I expect my Democratic colleagues and the radical left to do all they can to assassinate her character and once again make an issue of her faith during her confirmation process.”

Speaking on Friday, ahead of the formal announcement of Barrett’s nomination, Princeton University professor Robert P. George also noted the anti-Catholic tone of much of the criticism of Barrett.

“I'll give Amy Barrett's opponents some good advice, in blissful assurance that they won't take it,” George said on Twitter.

“Don't attack her faith. Don't go near it. Stay a million miles away. Talk about health care, immigration, the weather, anything but religion. It's not her Achilles heel; it's yours.”

Cardinal Pell to return to Rome this week

Rome Newsroom, Sep 27, 2020 / 09:10 am (CNA).- Cardinal George Pell is set to return to Rome on Tuesday, his first time back in the Vatican since 2017, when he took a leave of absence from his role as prefect of the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy to travel to Australia. 

The cardinal is set to fly on Sept. 29, sources close to Pell confirmed to CNA on Sunday, following an initial report by Australian journalist Andrew Bolt in the Herald Sun newspaper.

Pell has been living in his former Archdiocese of Sydney since his acquittal by Australia’s High Court in April on charges of sexual abuse. 

In 2014, the cardinal was appointed by Pope Francis to take charge of the newly created Secretariat for the Economy and to lead efforts at reforming Vatican financial affairs. After charges of sexual abuse were brought by Victoria police, Pell took temporary leave of his role in 2017 in order to return to Australia and prove his innocence. 

Pell faced allegations from a single accuser related to his time as Bishop of Melbourne. He spent 13 months in solitary confinement after he was initially convicted and given a six-year prison sentence, before being vindicated on appeal to the High Court.

Pell's term of office as head of the Vatican's financial secretariat expired during his time in prison, with Pope Francis naming Fr. Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, SJ, to succeed him in 2019.

The news of Pell’s return to Rome comes just days after the dramatic resignation of Cardinal Angelo Becciu, whom Pope Francis asked to resign as prefect of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints and from the rights extended to members of the College of Cardinals on Sept. 24 after he was linked to an ongoing investigation of financial misconduct at the Vatican.

Becciu had worked previously as the number two-ranking official in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, where, CNA has previously reported, he repeatedly clashed with Pell over the reform of Vatican finances.

Pell, who had not spoken publicly about his former Vatican role since his exoneration, responded to the news of Becciu’s resignation with gratitude.

“The Holy Father was elected to clean up Vatican finances. He plays a long game and is to be thanked and congratulated on recent developments,” Pell wrote in a statement sent to CNA Sept. 25.

“I hope the cleaning of the stables continues in both the Vatican and Victoria,” Pell said.

CNA has reported that in 2015 Becciu seemed to have made an attempt to disguise the loans on Vatican balance sheets by canceling them out against the value of the property purchased in the London neighborhood of Chelsea, an accounting maneuver prohibited by new financial policies approved by Pope Francis in 2014.

The alleged attempt to hide the loans off-books was detected by the Prefecture for the Economy, then led by Pell. Senior officials at the Prefecture for the Economy told CNA that when Pell began to demand details of the loans, especially those involving the Swiss bank BSI, then-Archbishop Becciu called the cardinal in to the Secretariat of State for a “reprimand.”

In 2016, Becciu was instrumental in bringing to a halt reforms initiated by Pell. Although Pope Francis had given the newly created Prefecture for the Economy autonomous oversight authority over Vatican finances, Becciu interfered when Pell’s financial secretariat planned an external audit of all Vatican departments, to be conducted by the firm PriceWaterhouseCooper.

Unilaterally, and without permission of Pope Francis, Becciu canceled the audit and announced in a letter to all Vatican departments that it would not take place.

When Pell challenged internally the audit’s cancellation, Becciu persuaded Pope Francis to give his decision ex post facto approval, sources inside the prefecture told CNA. The audit never took place.

Becciu held a press conference in Rome Sept. 25 at which he protested his innocence of financial wrongdoing.

'The family has fundamental value' - an interview with Polish President Andrzej Duda

Vatican City, Sep 27, 2020 / 06:53 am (CNA).-  

On Sept. 25, EWTN News spoke with Poland's President Andrzej Duda, who met with Pope Francis during a visit to Rome.

Duda spoke about his own Catholic faith, Pope St. John Paul II, secularization, and his efforts to promote the family.

Below is the full text of that interview:


President Duda, you grew up in the south of Poland in a Catholic family. How was your life of faith in the family, how did you live the Catholic faith and how have you brought that to your presidency? Has it been a challenge?

Indeed I was raised in a family that has always been Catholic, for generations. That’s the type of family I grew up in. This connection to the Church, to the Catholic Christian community, was always a fact, from the beginning of my life. And it always was very important in my home for my parents and grandparents. As a child I was an altar boy. I served Mass at church in Krakow and in Stary Sacz, where my father was born, where my grandparents used to live at that time. I simply grew up in this atmosphere. This was always important. And you could easily say that I was absorbing these values.

Christian values form the deep, deep, deep history of Poland because in Stary Sacz there is a monastery established by St. Kinga, many centuries ago. And this tradition still remains. This tradition of this very uncommonly strong Catholicism - I would say a conservative Catholicism -  because there is a Poor Clare monastery  - and they are cloistered nuns. So, this Catholicism there is very, very strong.

Tell me about your specific devotion to St. Bobola and to other saints in Poland.

I can tell you openly that I was born on May 16, 1972 which is the feast day of St. Andrew Bobola. And, among other reasons, it was because it was the feast of St. Andrew Bobola that my parents gave me the name Andrew in order for St. Andrew Bobola to be my patron saint.

So, there is this special attachment and later I grew up in this particularly patriotic atmosphere. I was active in boy scouts, who were very patriotic. St. Andrew Bobola was a man who died not just for the faith. Not only was he violently murdered by Cossacks because he was a Catholic clergyman but he also died for Poland and Polish ideals, so you could say that he was a believer, a priest and a patriot.


You’re also from Krakow. John Paul II was there for many years. What was your relationship with John Paul II?

We call this generation of ours, the generation of kids who were born in the 70s and the beginning of the 80s and also those born in the 60s, “the JPII generation”... John Paul the Second. We grew up with the pilgrimages of the Holy Father. And Krakow was the place that the Holy Father, during the history of his pontificate visited most often. It was, after all, his city. He was the metropolitan of Krakow and the cardinal of Krakow before he became pope. He especially loved to meet the youth in Krakow.

He always had time for the youth and we as children were brought by our parents to meetings with him and then as young people we went by ourselves underneath the famous papal window on Franciszkanska Street and to the fields of Krakow where he said the Holy Masses, attended by millions of people. And this was always incredible. And the Holy Father did the greatest thing you could do for the Poles at that time, namely, he showed to my parents’ generation how many people in Poland think alike.

During the dark time of communism, in 1979, he came on a pilgrimage to Poland and people gathered and saw that there were millions of them. And that millions of these people are of the faith and they think alike. They were listening to him at that time. And it was the beginning of the changes in Poland.

After that, in 1980, Solidarnosc was created. This year we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of Solidarnosc. And that was the beginning of the end of communism. Despite the imposition of martial law, all of this could not be stopped. The Holy Father was here [in Rome] and was vigilant all the time. And that’s how we have freedom, because of him. There’s no doubt about it.


You’ve made defending and promoting the traditional family a big part of your platform in Poland. You spoke about it with the pope today. You took part in a march for the family back in Poland earlier this week. If we look at your policies, you’re constantly defending the family and this is in the face of the European Union which often speaks poorly of Poland for defending this values, speaking in other terms, asking for you to take on abortion rights or defend same sex marriage, or other things like this. What do you think the European Union is asking of you, personally and as a president, and what is Poland’s response?

You are touching on a very important issue.

The family in my presidency and in my life has an immense value and in my view of the state, every state, but first of all obviously the Polish State. What is there to say but that there is no nation, no State without a family that has children, which in turn causes the renewal of generations, which means that the nation remains and it can create a State. So, if someone thinks of himself as a Polish patriot, if someone thinks that Poland should remain, that our nation should exist, then there should be no doubt that the family in all of this has a fundamental meaning. That’s how I approach this.

I try to proclaim these views not just in Poland, and build this legal and systemic framework so that the family can grow best, have the most children, be supported by the Polish state, just as the Polish Constitution stipulates.

The Polish Constitution orders the State to particularly defend the family.

Marriage, according to the Polish Constitution, is a union between a man and a woman. And the parents have the right to raise the children according to their convictions. These are the fundamental rights written into the Polish constitution. So, I only act according to the Polish constitution. And I do not hesitate to talk about it at the European Union. But I work, I serve Poland, that is my duty. And how politicians in other countries, other presidents approach this, that’s their prerogative. And it’s their societies who hold them accountable. That’s my approach. And this is also a Christian approach.

And this is, in my opinion, the most deeply correct approach.

You made news for picking up a host that fell on the ground during Mass, the Eucharist when it fell on the ground. We saw that across the world. You’ve also made it a point to defend the Eucharist. There’s an artistic performance in Spain that’s desecrating the hosts, the Eucharist and Poland has sent a representative to the Human Rights Court of Europe to defend [the Eucharist]. How is this part of your policies?

Our religion tells us to be docile. Our Catholic religion tells us even to love our enemies. This is what Jesus taught us. This is very difficult, but everyone should try and every one of us should live as best as possible.

And I think this is abused by various sorts of performers who are inimical to Christianity and Catholicism. And you gave an example of that. He knows that he can afford to do that because Catholics, Christians will not hurt him in any way because of that. And so he has this cheap courage.

The birthrate in Poland is rising after some efforts that you’ve made, but only slightly and it’s still not at the point where it will replace itself, the population of Poland. You also are promoting family, education, you spoke about that with the Pope today as well. What’s the long game in Poland for defending Poland against the secularization that’s happening across Europe and how are you going to carry that out?

I told the Holy Father today that I believe that at this time when from all sides we are being pushed by this anti-Catholic, anti-Christian propaganda - some would say liberal leftist [propaganda], where there is this very strong pressure to imbue other values, especially into the young people, completely opposite to the values that we read about in the Sacred Scriptures, the Bible - it is simply our duty as people of faith to pronounce our values steadfastly, constantly and unceasingly and try with all our strength to stem these other currents which in my conviction destroy the traditional family, destroy the human being as it is best understood. They disrupt traditional upbringing. I think we should [pronounce our values] despite everything, do our duty, and that’s what I do.

How are you working with other neighboring countries to defend Christianity, also in places where it is persecuted?

Many times, also in the European parliament, I participated in passing various acts of declarative character but also legislative ones pertaining to the defense of Christians, especially in the Middle East where they are in danger or in Asia, southeast Asia, there are many such places where people are being persecuted for their religious beliefs, but Poland right now, as it is governed by the United Right [coalition], while I am president we really pay close attention to that.

We are now a member of the Human Rights Council. We pay attention to these issues. We were the non-permanent member of the security council of the UN. And, a year ago, we passed a resolution pertaining to those who are being persecuted for their religious beliefs. We stress this problem because we believe we have to talk about it.  


President Duda also offered a message to the viewers of EWTN Polska:

Heartfelt greetings to all the viewers of EWTN Poland. Thank you for watching Catholic television. I think that this TV station carries the values that are important for us. Here in this place, our Holy Father John Paul II served God, the Church and Poland. This year we celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth. I would like you to sometimes take in your hand the sermons the Holy Father gave us, his words he spoke to us. I would like you to sometimes look on the Internet and on YouTube or some other channels find the words spoken by the Holy Father, because it is important to remind ourselves of them in order to know what path we Poles, we people of faith, we Catholics, should follow through life. I very cordially invite you to do that. Thank you for your attention, thank you for listening. All the best, everybody.



Pope Francis: The path to holiness requires spiritual combat

Vatican City, Sep 27, 2020 / 06:30 am (CNA).- Pope Francis said Sunday that the Christian life requires concrete commitments and spiritual combat in order to grow in holiness.

“There is no path to holiness without some renunciation and without spiritual combat,” Pope Francis said in his Angelus address Sept. 27.

This battle for personal sanctity requires grace “to fight for the good, to fight not to fall into temptation, to do what we can on our part, to come to live in the peace and joy of the Beatitudes,” the pope added.

In the Catholic tradition, spiritual combat involves an internal “battle of prayer” in which a Christian must fight temptation, distraction, discouragement, or dryness. Spiritual combat also entails cultivating virtues to make better life choices and exercise charity towards one’s neighbor.

The pope acknowledged that conversion can be a painful process because it is a process of moral purification, which he likened to removing encrustations from one’s heart.

“Conversion is a grace for which we must always ask for: ‘Lord, give me the grace to improve. Give me the grace to be a good Christian,’” Pope Francis said from the window of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.

Reflecting on Sunday’s Gospel, the pope said that “living a Christian life is not made up of dreams or beautiful aspirations, but of concrete commitments, in order to open ourselves ever more to God's will and to love for our brothers and sisters.”

“Faith in God asks us to renew every day the choice of good over evil, the choice of the truth rather than lies, the choice of love for our neighbor over selfishness,” Pope Francis said.

The pope pointed to one of Jesus’ parables in chapter 21 in the Gospel of Matthew in which a father asks two sons to go and work in his vineyard.

“To the father's invitation to go and work in the vineyard, the first son impulsively responds ‘no, no I will not go,’ but then he repents and goes; instead the second son, who immediately replies ‘yes, yes father,’ does not actually do so,” he said.

“Obedience does not consist of saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but of acting, of cultivating the vineyard, of bringing about the Kingdom of God, in doing good.”

Pope Francis explained that Jesus used this parable to call people to an understanding that religion should affect one’s life and attitudes.

“With His preaching on the Kingdom of God, Jesus opposes a religiosity that does not involve human life, that does not question the conscience and its responsibility in the face of good and evil,” he said. “Jesus wants to go beyond a religion understood only as external and habitual practice, which does not affect people's lives and attitudes.”

While acknowledging that the Christian life demands conversion, Pope Francis emphasized that “God is patient with each one of us.”

“He [God] does not tire, He does not desist after our ‘no’; He leaves us free even to distance ourselves from Him and to make mistakes ... But He anxiously awaits our ‘yes’, so as to welcome us anew in His fatherly arms and to fill us with His boundless mercy,” the pope said.

After praying the Angelus with the pilgrims gathered under umbrellas in a rainy St. Peter’s Square, the pope asked people to pray for peace in the Caucasus region, where Russia staged joint military exercises with China, Belarus, Iran, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Armenia last week.

“I ask the parties to the conflict to make concrete gestures of goodwill and brotherhood, which can lead to solving problems not with the use of force and arms, but through dialogue and negotiation,” Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis also greeted the migrants and refugees present at the Angelus as the Church celebrates the World Day of Migrants and Refugees and said that he was praying for small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

“May Mary Most Holy help us to be docile to the action of the Holy Spirit. He is the One who melts the hardness of hearts and disposes them to repentance, so we may obtain the life and salvation promised by Jesus,” the pope said.

Amy Coney Barrett pledges 'humility' and 'service' after SCOTUS nomination

Washington D.C., Sep 26, 2020 / 04:30 pm (CNA).- Judge Amy Coney Barrett pledged to serve all Americans with impartiality if confirmed to the Supreme Court, following her nomination by President Donald Trump on Saturday.

Speaking in the White House Rose Garden on Sept. 26, Barrett said she was “deeply honored by the confidence” placed in her by the president. “I love the United States, and I love the United States Constitution,” she said.

If confirmed by the Senate, Barrett, a Catholic, said she “will be mindful of who came before me.”

“The flag of the United States is still flying at half-staff in memory of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to mark the end of a great American life,” she said.

“Justice Ginsburg began her career at a time when women were not welcome in the legal profession, but she not only broke glass ceilings, she smashed them. For that, she has won the admiration of women across the country and indeed the world.”

Barrett paid tribute to her potential predecessor as “a woman of enormous talent and consequence and her life of public service is an example to us all,” as well as to her own legal mentor and past Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, for whom she clerked.

The close friendship between Scalia and Ginsburg, Barrett said, is “particularly poignant to me.”

“Justices Scalia and Ginsburg disagreed fiercely in print, without rancor in person,” she said.

“Their ability to maintain a warm and rich friendship despite their differences even inspired an opera. These two great Americans demonstrated that arguments, even about matters of great consequence, need not destroy affection.”

“In both my personal and professional relationships, I strive to meet that standard.”

Barrett affirmed of Scalia that “his judicial philosophy is mine too: a judge must apply the law as written,” she said. “Judges are not policy makers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold.”

In his introductory remarks in the White House Rose Garden on Saturday, President Trump noted that Barrett, if confirmed, would be the first female Supreme Court justice with school-aged children.

Barrett, a mother of seven, also paid a warm tribute to her family, noting that, if confirmed she would be the ninth justice on the court. “As it happens, I am used to being in a group of nine,” she observed.

“Our children obviously make our life very full,” she said. “While I am a judge, I am better known back home as a room-parent, carpool-driver, and birthday-party planner,” Barrett said.

“Our children are my greatest joy, even though they deprive me of any reasonable amount of sleep,” she said, while praising the “unwavering support” of her husband, Jesse Barrett, also a successful lawyer, who “does far more than his share of the work.”

“It is important, at a moment like this, to acknowledge family and friends,” Barrett said. “But this evening I also want to acknowledge you my fellow Americans. The president has nominated me to serve on the United States Supreme Court. And that institution belongs to all of us.”

“If confirmed, I would not assume that role for the sake of those in my own circle and certainly not for my own sake. I would assume this role to serve you. I would discharge the judicial oath, which requires me to administer justice without respect to persons, do[ing] equal right to the poor and rich.”

In presenting his third nomination to the Supreme Court, President Trump recommended Barrett as “a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials and unyielding loyalty to the constitution,” and “eminently qualified” for service on the nation’s highest court.

Republican leaders have indicated that they will move quickly to schedule confirmation hearings before the Senate judiciary committee and bring Barrett’s nomination to a full vote.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said earlier this week that “the Senate will vote on this nomination this year,” but has not specified if he expects the vote to occur before or after the November election.

The president thanked members of the Senate present at the presentation on Saturday for their “commitment to providing a fair and timely hearing” for the nomination.

Barrett currently serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, a position to which Trump nominated her in 2017.

Noting that she received “bipartisan support” in her 2017 confirmation vote, the president said her “qualifications are unsurpassed, and her record is beyond reproach,” and that there should be a “straightforward and prompt” confirmation process.

“It should be very easy,” Trump said, “good luck.”

Speaking after Trump, Barrett said she “looked forward” to working with members of the Senate during the confirmation process.

“I will do my very best to demonstrate that I am worthy of your support,” she said

Barrett also said that she had “no illusions that the road ahead of me will be easy, either for the short term or the long haul.”

“I never imagined that I would find myself in this position, but now that I am,” she said, “I assure that I will meet the challenge with both humility and courage."

Day of prayer planned for 357 religious dead from COVID-19 in Spain

CNA Staff, Sep 26, 2020 / 04:23 pm (CNA).- The Spanish Conference of Religious (CONFER) has announced that September 29 will be observed as a day of prayer for the 357 religious who have died from the novel coronavirus during the pandemic in Spain.

The conference invited religious communities to participate in the day of prayer, which falls on the Feast of Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.

These religious men and women, the conference stated, “have been faithful to the end of their days…And so, amid the pain of their loss, we are grateful for their witness until the end!”

According to statistics from CONFER 357 religious from 73 religious congregations have died from COVID-19, as of September 25. The conference noted that they continue to receive data daily.

“The best way to honor our deceased is to dedicate one day this September to their memory,” CONFER said.

All religious communities are invited on September 29 “during their morning prayer, their Eucharist together, and in their afternoon prayer, to commemorate them all, naming them during a moment of prayer.”

The conference proposed putting “a sheet of paper on the altar with the names of each person” and suggested that communities give “thanks to God for their witness, their fidelity, their perseverance in adversity and their decision to follow God's call until the end of their days.”

CONFER also suggested the congregations share that moment of prayer on social media so it can become “a small tribute to our brothers and sisters who departed but who are still very present among us in remembering them and their experience of the faith and the charism that they enriched.”

Trump nominates Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court

Washington D.C., Sep 26, 2020 / 03:25 pm (CNA).- President Donald Trump officially presented Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court on Saturday, following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last week.

Trump presented Judge Barrett, a Catholic, September 26, at a press conference in the White House Rose Garden shortly after 5pm. 

Presenting Barrett, Trump said the nomination of a Supreme Court justice is one of his “most important duties” as president.

“This is my third such nomination,” Trump said, “and it is a very proud moment indeed.”

“Today it my honor to nominate one of our nation’s most brilliant and gifted legal minds,” Trump said, paying tribute to Barrett as “a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials and unyielding loyalty to the constitution,” and “eminently qualified” for service on the nation’s highest court.

Speaking after the president, Barrett said she was “deeply honored” at by the nomination and called the moment a “rather overwhelming occasion.”

“I pledge to discharge the responsibilities of this job to the very best of my abilities,” she promised. “I am truly humbled by the prospect of serving on the Supreme Court.”

Trump also paid Trump paid tribute to Justice Ginsburg, saying “the nation mourned the loss” of a “legal giant and a pioneer for women.”

Barrett also paid tribute to Ginsburg in her own remarks, noting that the Justice “began her career at time when women were not welcome in the legal profession,” and “smashed glass ceilings” to lead a life of “enormous talent and consequence.”

The judge was presented by the president Saturday evening, where she was joined by members of her family as well as colleagues from the law school at the University of Notre Dame.

Barrett, 48, currently serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, a position to which Trump nominated her in 2017. 

It is now expected that the Senate judiciary committee will schedule hearings ahead of a vote on the Senate floor. Republican leaders have indicated that they will move quickly to schedule confirmation hearings before the judiciary committee and bring Barrett’s nomination to a full vote.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said earlier this week that “the Senate will vote on this nomination this year,” but has not specified if he expects the vote to occur before or after the November election.

Born in New Orleans, the eldest of seven children, Barrett graduated from Rhodes College before receiving a full scholarship to Notre Dame Law School where she graduated first in her class. 

Barrett went on to clerk for Judge Laurence Silberman and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, before going into private practice. She returned to Notre Dame Law School and taught classes in 2002 before becoming a professor in 2010. 

Barrett’s selection was widely anticipated, with many media outlets touting her as the leading candidate for the nomination. She has already faced concerted media scrutiny and criticism for her Catholic faith. 

During her 2017 nomination hearing, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) questioned her on her personal faith and values, saying that “when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern.”

Barrett and her husband have seven children, including two adopted from Haiti. In a 2019 interview at a Notre Dame alumni event in Washington, DC, Barrett said that raising children is “where you have your greatest impact on the world” and that she could imagine no greater thing. In anticipation of her nomination, in recent days media criticism has also turned to the size of the judge’s family

During Barrett’s confirmation hearings, questions were also raised about Barrett’s association with the lay organization People of Praise. 

People of Praise has been referred to in the media as a “cult,” and criticized for a practice, which has since been changed, that called leaders “heads” and “handmaidens”--both of which are references to Biblical passages. 

People of Praise was founded in 1971 as part of a “great emergence of lay ministries and lay movements in the Catholic Church,” following Vatican Council II, Bishop Peter Smith, a member of the organization, told CNA.

The group began with 29 members who formed a “covenant”- an agreement, not an oath, to follow common principles, to give five percent of annual income to the group, and to meet regularly for spiritual, social, and service projects.

Catholic cathedral vandalized in California with 'white power,' 'BLM,' and swastikas

CNA Staff, Sep 26, 2020 / 01:30 pm (CNA).-  

A Catholic cathedral in California was defaced overnight, with swastikas, an upside-down cross, and other messages spray-painted on the church’s doors and entryways.

“This morning our beloved Cathedral was defaced with pentagrams, upside down crosses, white power, swastikas, BLM, etc. It reminds us to pray for my brethren in Iraq that are facing persecution. Pray for the criminals who did this,” St. Peter’s Chaldean Catholic Cathedral in El Cajon, California said in a statement posted on Facebook Sept. 26.

The cathedral is the seat of the Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle of San Diego, an Eastern Catholic diocese of roughly 70,000 Catholics.

A video posted by the cathedral on Facebook showed numerous, seemingly opposed, symbols spray-painted on the church’s edifice and doors: swastikas, “White Power” and “WP,” alongside upside down crosses, “BLM,” standing seemingly for Black Lives Matter,” and “Biden 2020.”

Some symbols were indecipherable, others represented slogans or ideologies not ordinarily associated with each other, raising questions about what might have motivated the vandalism.

The Chaldean Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic Church of more than 600,000 people. Headquartered in Baghdad, the Chaldean Catholic Church counts among its members Catholics in Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Syria, and in numerous Western countries. The Church has grown in the U.S. in recent decades, amid an influx of refugees and immigrants from the Middle East.

The vandalism comes amid a spate of similar incidents at Catholic churches that has lasted for months. Earlier this week a man burned pews in an arson attack in a Florida Catholic church, and a man with a baseball bat damaged a crucifix and several doors at a Texas seminary.

Last week a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was destroyed in a Texas cathedral.

Also last week, a parish in Midvale, Utah, saw back to back attacks. St. Therese of the Child Jesus Catholic Church had its namesake statue beheaded followed by burglary on subsequent nights.

“Sometime last night our statue of St. Therese of the Child Jesus outside of the Main Church was broken and vandalized. We are currently in contact with the police,” the parish wrote on its Facebook page on Monday, September 14. The statue was pushed off its pedestal and the head was broken off. A planter by the statue was also smashed.

The parish urged people to “pray for the person who did this, that they may get the help they need,” and said the vandalism was an “unfortunate situation.”

On Tuesday, the parish once again reported vandalism. 

“As an update to our parishioners, we are upset to report that one of the houses on our parish property was vandalized and broken into last night,” said the parish in a Tuesday post to its Facebook page.

A historic church built by St. Junipero Serra was burned in California this summer, in a fire being investigated as arson. A Florida man was arrested for setting flame to a parish church in the Orlando diocese.

Fires have been started and statues of Jesus, Mary, and saints have been beheaded or destroyed at parishes across the country, while in California numerous public statues of St. Junipero Serra have been torn down, defaced, and destroyed.

While some attacks on statues have been committed by large groups with clear political affiliations, the perpetrators of other acts have not been identified.

The eparchy could not be immediately reached for comment.


Trump: 'Faith in God' helps unite nation

CNA Staff, Sep 26, 2020 / 11:30 am (CNA).- President Donald Trump invoked faith as an enduring force for national stability and resilience during times of trial in a statement released by the White House on Saturday.

“Our great Nation was founded by men and women of deep and abiding faith—a faith that has stood the test of time,” Trump said in a presidential message to mark the inaugural National Day of Prayer and Return on Sept. 26.

The message was released to coincide with “The Return, A National and Global Day of Repentance" organized by some Pentecostal Protestant groups in Washington, D.C. on Saturday. The event is timed to fall 40 days before the U.S. general election.

“On this inaugural National Day of Prayer and Return,” Trump wrote in his message, “the First Lady and I join millions of Christians here in the United States and around the world in prayer, as we turn our hearts to our Lord and Savior.”

In an apparent reference to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and months of demonstrations and civil unrest across several U.S. cities over racial justice issues, Trump said that faith was an important support for civil and national unity.

“The trials and tribulations the American people have faced over the past several months have been great,” Trump said. “Yet, as we have seen time and again, the resolve of our citizenry—fortified by our faith in God—has guided us through these hardships and helped to unite us as one Nation under God.”

Several U.S. cities have seen violent protests in recent months following the police-involved deaths of Black Americans like Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.

“As we continue to combat the challenges ahead of us,” said Trump, “we must remember the sage words of President George Washington during his first Presidential Address: ‘propitious smiles of heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained.’” 

“As a country and a people, let us renew our commitment to these abiding and timeless principles,” said Trump.

On Wednesday, Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz called for unity and prayer in the city following the announcement of the grand jury’s decision to indict one of the police officers involved in Taylor’s death. 

Taylor, 26, was killed March 13 in Louisville during a police raid of her apartment. Taylor, a Black woman, was shot five times by the police after her boyfriend initially fired at the officers who breached Taylor’s apartment’s door to execute a warrant. The officers involved were white. An issue of contention is whether, and how loudly, the officers announced themselves when entering the apartment.

“There is no question that our nation’s original sin of racism continues to destroy the lives of persons of color and that racism extends through so many systems of our society... educational, economic, religious, housing, criminal justice, voting, and employment,” said the archbishop. 

On Wednesday evening, the city of Louisville saw widespread protests which descended into violence in some places. Two police officers were shot and 127 people were arrested.

On Thursday, Kurtz offered prayers for the wounded officers and reiterated calls for peace.

“As our community deals with the challenges of the sin of racism and affirms the first amendment rights of those who protest, I again join with people of faith and good will to plead for peace and the rejection of violence,” Kurtz added.

“I am reminded of a statement that Pope Francis shared in his weekly audience in early June,” Kurtz said, quoting the pope saying “My friends, we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life. At the same time, we have to recognize that the violence of recent nights is self-destructive and self-defeating. Nothing is gained by violence, and so much is lost…let us implore the national reconciliation and peace for which we yearn.”