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Beautiful new film on Camino de Santiago pilgrimage is a ‘perfect Lenten meditation’

"Santiago: The Camino Within" is being released for one day only on March 28, 2023. / YouTube/Fathom Events

Boston, Mass., Mar 21, 2023 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

A new film that takes moviegoers along on a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago in Spain is being released in theaters for one day only on March 28.

The Camino de Santiago, also known as “The Way of St. James,” is a 1,000-year-old pilgrimage route through Spain that leads to the Cathedral of Santiago located in the Archdiocese of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. The cathedral is traditionally held to be the burial place of St. James the Apostle.

Today thousands of pilgrims continue to make the pilgrimage, sometimes traversing hundreds of miles on their way to Santiago. 

Produced by Ahava Productions, “Santiago: The Camino Within” is narrated by Bishop Donald Hying of Madison, Wisconsin, who leads pilgrims on the physically arduous journey. Distributed by Fathom Events, the film is meant to inspire the viewer to embark on their own journey with God.

“Of course, this narration is ultimately about God and the human quest for him but lavishly shows how delightfully varied that universal search actually is,” Hying said in a February press release. 

Additionally, the pilgrims in the film share with the viewer their spiritual journeys while on the trail. The beauty of the scenery is captured in the film and can be seen in the trailer below. 

Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska, who has traveled the route three times, said that the movie is “the best film on the Camino I have seen to date.”

“It is a perfect Lenten meditation,” Conley said. 

“The film is beautifully done. The music, the cinematography, the spirituality, and the Catholicity is second to none,” Conley said in a follow-up video. 

“It will inspire you to know more about this ancient pilgrimage and even to make it yourself if you feel up to it,” he added. “It’s very well done, and I encourage everyone to go see it,” he said.

The film is being shown in both English and Spanish in 763 theaters across the country. 

For locations and showtimes, visit Fathom Events’ website

Disney doc features Pope Francis’ talk with Gen Z on LGBTQ issues, abortion, and more

"The Pope Answers" airs on Hulu on April 5, 2023. / Hulu

Washington D.C., Mar 21, 2023 / 13:30 pm (CNA).

Disney will release a new documentary April 5 titled “The Pope Answers,” airing an extended conversation between Pope Francis and 10 members of Generation Z, discussing the Church’s stance on LGBTQ+ issues, abortion, clergy abuse, feminism, and more.

Shot in Rome and directed by left-leaning Spanish filmmakers Jordi Évole and Marius Sanchez, the documentary is entirely in Spanish and will be released exclusively on Hulu in the U.S.

Évole’s production company Producciones del Barrio (Neighborhood Productions) is known for such documentaries as “Mr. Trump, Pardon the Interruption,” investigating the impact of Trump’s border policies on Hispanic communities, and “What You Give Me,” which explores the meaning of life with the late Spanish musician Pau Dones.

Évole is also known for hosting, directing, and producing the Spanish news show “Salvados” (“Saved,” 2008-2019), which sparked controversy for its criticism and satiric humor directed at the Catholic Church. In one episode, Évole visited Opus Dei’s Torreciudad Shrine and was filmed serving as an altar boy at Mass.

The trailer for “The Pope Answers,” which you can watch here, shows an informal conversation between Francis and a small group of young people discussing some of the Church’s most controversial positions and some of society’s most difficult problems.

Among the questions fielded by the pope:

“Do you know what a nonbinary person is?” 

“If I weren’t a feminist, would being a Christian be better?” 

“What do we do with these women [who have had abortions], in the Church, as an institution?”

At the end of the conversation, Francis says: “I’ve learned a lot from you, it’s done me a lot of good and I thank you for what you’ve done.”

In a joint statement published March 15, directors Évole and Sanchez said the documentary presented “a unique opportunity to bring together two worlds that normally do not touch, to see one of the most influential people in the world have a dialogue with a group of young adults whose lives sometimes clash head-on with the postulates of the Church.”

This is not the first time Évole has worked with Francis. Some of the pope’s most well-known statements have been from interviews with Évole.

In a 2019 interview on Évole’s “Salvados” show, Francis clarified the Church’s position that homosexual “tendencies are not sin … sin is acting, of thought, word, and deed, with freedom.”

Speaking on Évole’s pandemic-era show “The Évole Thing” in 2020, the pope likened the coronavirus to nature “giving us a jolt to take charge of taking care of nature.”

“There’s a saying that you surely know: God always forgives, we forgive now and then, nature never forgives, fires, floods, earthquakes,” he said.

In an extended one-on-one interview with Évole in 2019, Francis stood firm on his position that abortion can never be acceptable at any point, even in the cases of rape. 

Francis told Évole he could understand the desperation the woman in such a scenario might feel, but that “it is not lawful to eliminate a human life to solve a problem.”

“Is it permissible to eliminate a human life to solve a problem? Is it permissible to hire someone to eliminate [the child]?” Pope Francis asked.

Meet the new Nigerian secretary for the Vatican Dicastery for Evangelization

Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu. / Credit: Christian Peschken/EWTN News

Rome Newsroom, Mar 21, 2023 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

From a childhood as a war refugee to a career as a Holy See diplomat, Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu will now take on a new leadership role in one of the most important dicasteries in the Roman Curia.

The Nigerian archbishop was recently appointed by Pope Francis as a secretary for the Vatican’s Dicastery for Evangelization.

The dicastery is tasked with “the work of evangelization, so that Christ, the light of the nations, may be known and witnessed to by word and deed, and the Church, his mystical body, may be built up.”

In an interview with EWTN last week, Nwachukwu, 62, spoke about evangelization and interreligious dialogue, underlining what Jesus said in John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

“We have to continue to insist and to say that Jesus is the sole way to the Father,” he said, adding that “even going from Scripture, we can also refer to non-Christians as our brothers and sisters if they are walking in the truth in search of God.”

Childhood as a war refugee

Nwachukwu also recalled his childhood as a refugee displaced by the violence of Nigeria’s Civil War, also known as the Biafran War (July 6, 1967 – Jan. 15, 1970), in a previous interview with EWTN.

“I was only 7 years old when I was caught up in the midst of a civil conflict, one of the most horrible, horrendous civil conflicts of the last century. This was in 1967, the outbreak of the Nigeria Biafra Civil War,” the archbishop said.

“I lost many of my peers. I lost two of my own sisters. So, I knew right from a very early age what it means to pass through a situation of war. I know what it means to experience hunger. I know what it means to be an internally displaced person. So, I know the experience of being a refugee.”

An estimated 1 million people died during the war that lasted less than three years, with the majority dying from starvation, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

“I know the experience of living away from my home. I lost my father and mother for a long period. We were five and we were under my eldest brother, who was only 13. And we had to survive. So, I know what it means to go through suffering,” Nwachukwu said.

He continued: “I lost years of education, three years from 1967 to 1970. And therefore, when I’m coming to the United Nations, I know what it means to experience war, not at the warfront, but as a victim, a victim that is innocent.”

Nwachukwu noted that he has brought all of these experiences with him to his work as a diplomat, most recently representing the Holy See at the United Nations in Geneva.

“I know what it means to feel one has been abandoned by the rest of humanity. Or what it means to feel one has been discriminated against in one’s own nation,” he said.

“When a person is going to talk to me about discrimination, about violence, about injustice, I think I’ve experienced them all in my own skin.”

Diplomatic service

Nwachukwu began his career in the Holy See diplomatic service in 1994, 10 years after his ordination as a priest in the Diocese of Umuahia in southern Nigeria.

His diplomatic career has brought him to Vatican posts in Ghana, Paraguay, Algeria, Switzerland, and Rome before he became an apostolic nuncio, the Vatican’s equivalent to an ambassador.

In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Nwachukwu as the apostolic nuncio to Nicaragua and elevated him to the rank of archbishop.

Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu. Credit: Christian Peschken/EWTN News
Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu. Credit: Christian Peschken/EWTN News

He later served as the apostolic nuncio to Trinidad and Tobago in 2017 and nuncio to St. Lucia, Grenada, Bahamas, Suriname, and Belize in 2018.

Nwachukwu holds a doctorate in canon law from the Angelicum and a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Urban University. He also studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, and the Sankt Georgen Graduate School of Philosophy and Theology in Frankfurt, Germany.

The archbishop served since 2021 as the permanent observer of the Holy See to the Office of the United Nations in Geneva. He knows English, Italian, Spanish, German, modern Hebrew, French, and Arabic.

Nwachukwu said in the interview with EWTN last week that “if people of religions were to really put into practice the authentic values taught by their religions, we would put the United Nations organization out of a job.”

“If we were to live, to practice the authentic values taught by our religions, we would so much live human fraternity that much of United Nations activities will be superfluous,” he said.

Dicastery for Evangelization

Nwachukwu’s appointment places him in a leadership role in one of the most important dicasteries in the Roman Curia, which has the pope as its head. The Dicastery for Evangelization is listed first in the apostolic constitution Praedicate Evangelium, which means “Preach the Gospel” in Latin.

In the Dicastery for Evangelization, Nwachukwu will work under Cardinal Antonio Louis Tagle, one of the pro-prefects of the dicastery.

The Dicastery for Evangelization is presided over by the pope with two sections, each governed in the pope’s name by a pro-prefect. One section focuses on the “fundamental questions of evangelization in the world” and the other on supporting the initial proclamation of the Gospel in mission territories, including the work of the Pontifical Mission Societies.

Tagle heads the second section “for the first evangelization and new particular churches,” for which Nwachukwu will also work as its secretary.

Archbishop Salvatore Rino Fisichella serves as the pro-prefect for the first section tasked with the “fundamental questions of evangelization in the world.”

Pope’s book pick

When Nwachukwu settles in Rome, many in the Roman Curia likely will already be familiar with his writing. Pope Francis gave each member of the Curia a copy of Nwachukwu’s book, “The Abused Word,” a reflection on gossip, as a Christmas gift in 2021.

Nwachukwu wrote the short booklet at the suggestion of Pope Francis, who proposed the idea to the archbishop during their private audience in January 2019.

“As we finished talking about many things, talking about the abuse of words, news mongering, calumnies, and such things, as I was going, he took my hand and said, ‘Fortunatus, you write things, why don’t you write something on news mongering, on gossip?’”

“I have always been fascinated by the power of words,” Nwachukwu said. “Think of God creating humanity, creating the world by his power, by his word.”

‘Christ is our future’: Vatican announces theme, schedule for Pope Francis’ Budapest trip

Pope Francis at the International Eucharistic Congress in Budapest, Hungary Sept. 12, 2021. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Rome Newsroom, Mar 21, 2023 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis will travel to Budapest, Hungary, in just over a month for an April 28–30 visit to the capital of the central European country.

The theme of the papal trip is “Christ is our future.” The logo is a stylized drawing of Budapest’s Chain Bridge, the oldest Hungarian bridge over the River Danube.

According to the Vatican, the bridge “was originally built to connect the cities of Buda and Pest” and “evokes the idea, often referred to by the Holy Father, of the importance of building bridges between people.”

A circle around the bridge symbolizes the Eucharist. In 2021, Budapest hosted the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress, for which Pope Francis celebrated the final Mass.

According to 2019 statistics from the Vatican, approximately 61% of Hungary’s 9.7 million people identify as Catholic. The country’s second-highest religious demographic is those with no religious faith.


Pope Francis’ first day in Budapest will be mostly dedicated to meetings with Hungary’s President Katalin Novák, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, and other governmental authorities and civil society members.

St. Stephen’s Co-Cathedral will be the location of the pope’s encounter with bishops, priests, seminarians, consecrated men and women, and pastoral workers.

The second day of the pope’s visit will include private meetings with Jesuits and with children from the Blessed László Batthyány-Strattmann Institute for the Blind.

The institute, which has a kindergarten, elementary school, and home for children in need, is named for a Catholic doctor who dedicated his life to giving free medical treatment to the poor. Blessed László Batthyány, who was married with 13 children, died from cancer in 1931.

Francis’ two public addresses on April 29 will take place during a meeting with poor and refugees at St. Elizabeth Hungary Church and another with young adults at the Budapest Sports Arena.

On the morning of Sunday, April 30, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass in Kossuth Lajos Square, located next to the Hungarian Parliament building.

Afterward, his final meeting in Budapest will be with people connected to the Faculty of Information Technology and Bionics at the Pázmány Péter Catholic University.

The private Catholic university was founded in the 17th century and is one of Hungary’s oldest educational institutions.

The Faculty of Information Technology and Bionics “is unique in Hungarian higher education” for training IT engineers in the human sciences, especially genetics, the nervous system, and the immune system, according to the university’s website.

“This multidisciplinary approach is important, since a new industry is emerging on the boundary of information technology and biotechnology,” the website says.

The faculty offers bachelor’s degrees in computer engineering and molecular bionics engineering as well as master’s degrees in computer engineering, info-bionics engineering, and medical biotechnology.

Vatican’s ambassador during Iraq war: Under Saddam Hussein ‘the Church was respected’

A priest surveys the damage caused by ISIS at a Catholic Church in Batnaya, Iraq. / Credit: Photo courtesy of Stephen Rasche

Washington D.C., Mar 21, 2023 / 10:41 am (CNA).

The papal nuncio who served in Iraq at the time of the U.S. invasion 20 years ago told Vatican News that Christians in Iraq were worse off after Saddam Hussein was removed from power.

Cardinal Fernando Filoni was appointed by Pope John Paul II in 2001 as the Vatican’s ambassador to Iraq and Jordan. He told Vatican News that when war broke out on March 20, 2003, he remained at his post at the papal nunciature in Baghdad.

“I remember this period as one of the most tough periods of my life,” Filoni said. “This was the moment in which not only myself but also the bishops, the priests, the faithful, and the people in Iraq, we had the perception of our incapacity to give a different perspective than that of war.”

In the weeks before the U.S. invasion Pope John Paul II had pressed for peace. Addressing the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See on Jan. 13, 2003, the pope said: “No to war! War is not always inevitable. It is always a defeat for humanity.” He announced a day of prayer and fasting for peace in the Middle East to take place on March 5, 2003.

To witness the beginning of the war after working for peace left Filoni feeling powerless, he said. It was “really terrible,” he said, “just to accept — fatally — the war.”

“We tried to live this moment witnessing the faith and our solidarity with the people,” Filoni told Vatican News.

During the eight-year Iraq War, 4,600 U.S. soldiers and an estimated 270,000 Iraqis, most of whom were civilians, were killed, Vatican News reported.

The former papal nuncio, who now serves as grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, said that during Saddam Hussein’s regime Christians were free to practice their faith in the majority-Muslim country.

“The Church was respected” under Hussein, he said. At the time the bishops asked themselves: “What kind of attitude would we assume in case Saddam Hussein’s regime came to an end?” he told Vatican News.

As feared, the overthrow of Hussein’s government made things more difficult for Christians. With power shifted from Sunni Muslims to Shiite Muslims, extremist anti-Christian groups gained power.

“We suffered a lot because, after the end of the regime of Saddam Hussein, the first to be attacked by [fundamentalist] groups were Christians and Catholics,” he said. “Churches were destroyed, and there were many martyrs.”

He and the representatives of the Catholic Church in Iraq worked to “defend at least those who were going to Mass, so near the churches there were fences, and security to check those who were coming in and to be sure that no one could be harmed in the churches.”

“There were very difficult moments,” he said.

Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, speaks with CNA in Rome on August 22, 2014. Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.
Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, speaks with CNA in Rome on August 22, 2014. Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

The political vacuum created with the ousting of Hussein opened the door to Islamist extremism, according to political observers. During the Islamic State’s takeover of Iraq in 2014, the greater part of the Christian population fled the country and have yet to return.

Before the second Gulf War, which began in 2003, there were an estimated 1 million to 1.4 million Christians (approximately 6% of the population). Some fear there may only be about 150,000 Christians in Iraq today. 

Filoni said the situation for Christians has improved in some ways, “although the churches are still watched by soldiers and police.” He said the apostolic visit of Pope Francis in March 2021 helped and that “the situation has evolved for the better.”

“It was a pilgrimage to Iraq, not for the holy sites of Abraham and many other prophets who lived there but also a pilgrimage for the many martyrs,” whom he said “suffered a lot.”

Oakland Diocese considers filing for bankruptcy with 330 abuse lawsuits pending

null / Minerva Studio/Shutterstock

Denver, Colo., Mar 21, 2023 / 08:56 am (CNA).

The Catholic Diocese of Oakland is considering filing for bankruptcy as it prepares to respond to hundreds of lawsuits concerning decades-old sex abuse incidents in what the local bishop called a “monumental challenge.”

“Since the closing of the filing window on Dec. 31, 2022, we have been informed there may be approximately 330 lawsuits filed against our diocese,” Bishop Michael Barber, SJ, said in a March 16 letter to parishioners and friends of the Diocese of Oakland. “As the court continues to process the lawsuits, the total magnitude will become clearer. However, it is increasingly evident we face a monumental challenge.”

“I want to let you know the diocese is giving strong consideration to filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy,” the bishop said. “After much prayer and thoughtful advice, I believe bankruptcy can provide a way to support all survivors in their journey toward healing in an equitable and comprehensive way. It will also allow the diocese to reorganize our financial affairs so we may continue to fulfill the sacred mission entrusted to us by Christ and the Church.”

The state of California passed legislation that grants a three-year exemption to the statute of limitations on sexual abuse lawsuits. The legal window began Jan. 1, 2020, and ended Jan. 2, 2023.

Though the diocese believes there may be about 330 lawsuits pending, only three of the filed lawsuits concern incidents alleged to have taken place in the last two decades, the Oakland Diocese said on its website.

“Most claims are about abuse that allegedly occurred in the 1960s, 1970s, or 1980s,” the Oakland Diocese said on its website. “Almost every case relates to abuse alleged to have occurred prior to 2003.”

The late Bishop Floyd Begin, who became the first bishop of the Diocese of Oakland in 1962, is among the newly accused, NBC Bay Area reported in February. A December 2022 lawsuit accuses him of sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl once in 1968. Begin, a former auxiliary bishop of Cleveland, died in 1977 at the age of 75.

“While these are ‘old’ cases, for some survivors of abuse, the pain of abuse does not subside and can be as immediate as when the abuse occurred. They are not at fault,” the diocese said. “Those individuals who perpetrated these grievous sins and crimes brought us to where we are today.”

The Oakland Diocese website lists 65 “credibly accused” priests, deacons, and vowed religious. It lists 21 Oakland Diocese priests, 36 priests and deacons from other dioceses or from religious orders, and eight religious brothers who lived in the diocese.

The recent lawsuits contain accusations against more than 30 members of the clergy who are not on the list, according to NBC Bay Area News. Some alleged abusers in the lawsuits are lay church employees, including teachers and coaches, and a handful of nuns.

Barber said he has been working with the diocese’s College of Consultors, its finance council, and other staff and advisers to “discern the best way to support compassionate and equitable compensation for survivors and ensure the continuation of vibrant, Christ-centered parishes to serve our faithful.”

He noted that the lawsuits will directly impact the diocese’s reorganization effort, called the Mission Alignment Process, which aims to respond to declining Mass attendance, baptisms, vocations to the priesthood, and other changes.

Barber characterized the possible bankruptcy decision as “an important moment in our journey toward rebuilding Christ’s Church.” He asked parishioners and friends of the Oakland Diocese for their support.

“In this Lenten season, let us pray for one another, that we may embrace God’s redemptive love. Mindful that he has promised to remain with his Church forever, we seek his divine mercy and take comfort in the sure promise of Christ’s resurrection.”

The diocese said it is likely that it does not have enough funds to address all the legal claims and legal costs. It has limited cash reserves and insurance could cover the costs of some claims, as could the sale of underused, noncritical assets.

There is no deadline for a bankruptcy decision. If the diocese files for bankruptcy, most daily operations of the diocese, its parishes, and its schools will not change.

The diocese rejected the idea that bankruptcy is a way to minimize its responsibilities to abuse survivors. A Chapter 11 filing will allow all claimants “equal access and an equitable share in the assets available to pay claims,” working through a court-sanctioned, public, and transparent process.

The Diocese of Oakland stressed its efforts to safeguard children and vulnerable adults through education, prevention training, and screening of clergy, employees, and volunteers.

California’s window for sex abuse lawsuits has affected other Catholic dioceses. In February, Cardinal Robert McElroy of San Diego announced that his diocese could have to resort to a declaration of bankruptcy in 2023 to manage the cost of hundreds of new abuse claims.

Earlier this month California’s smallest diocese, the Diocese of Santa Rosa, said it intends to file for bankruptcy. The diocese said at least 160 claims had been filed against it, with more than 200 possible. More than 115 cases concern incidents dating back more than 30 years, and some more than 60 years ago.

More than two dozen U.S. dioceses, including two in U.S. overseas territories, have entered into bankruptcy proceedings, the vast majority in the past decade. California’s Diocese of Stockton went through a three-year bankruptcy period from 2014 to 2017.

The last diplomat from the Vatican leaves Nicaragua

The Vatican flag and the dome of St. Peter's Basilica. / Credit: Bohumil Petrik/ACI

ACI Prensa Staff, Mar 20, 2023 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

The Holy See reported on Saturday that the Vatican’s diplomatic headquarters in Nicaragua was forced to close.

“Yesterday, March 17, the chargé d’affaires of the apostolic nunciature in Nicaragua, Monsignor Marcel Diouf, left the country for Costa Rica. The closure of the diplomatic headquarters of the Holy See occurred as a result of a request from the Nicaraguan government on March 10, 2023,” Vatican News reported.

The Vatican news outlet indicated that “by virtue of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, custody of the apostolic nunciature and its assets was entrusted to the Italian Republic.”

“Before his departure, Diouf was greeted by diplomatic representatives accredited in Nicaragua from the European Union, Germany, France, and Italy,” it said.

Diouf was the last Vatican official in Nicaragua and assumed the role of business manager after the government of Daniel Ortega expelled the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, in March 2022.

On March 12, the Nicaraguan Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported that it was considering suspending diplomatic relations with the Vatican.

This occurred two days after an interview with Pope Francis was published in which he harshly criticized the Ortega regime — where the Catholic Church is persecuted — and compared it to “the communist dictatorship of 1917 or the Hitler dictatorship of 1935.”

He also mentioned the bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando Álvarez, who was sentenced to 26 years in prison for his opinions against the regime. “A very serious man, very capable. He wanted to give his testimony and did not accept exile,” the Holy Father said.

Likewise, in reference to Ortega, the pope pointed out that “with great respect, I have no choice but to think there’s an imbalance in the person who leads” Nicaragua.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Maryland Senate passes bill to end statute of limitations for child sex abuse lawsuits

Maryland state capital building, Annapolis. Via Shutterstock. / null

Washington D.C., Mar 20, 2023 / 16:30 pm (CNA).

Legislation that would end the statute of limitations for lawsuits against entities that are accused of negligence involving incidents of child sexual abuse overwhelmingly passed the Maryland Senate last week. 

The bill, sponsored by Sen. William C. Smith, D-Montgomery, passed the Senate in a 42-5 vote. The proposed legislation was sent to the House of Delegates, where it has been referred to the Judiciary Committee. The House has already passed a version of the same bill.

The Maryland Catholic Conference criticized the bill for its unequal treatment of private groups, Crux reported. The legislation creates a different set of rules for public entities than it does for private entities.

The legislation would fully eliminate the statute of limitations for a victim to file a lawsuit related to child sexual abuse against private and public entities. The proposed bill would cap the amount of money that victims could receive but at different levels, depending on whether the lawsuit is filed against a private or a public entity. 

A victim who sues a public entity, such as a public school, could be awarded up to $890,000, according to the proposed legislation. However, a victim who sues a private entity, such as a Catholic Church, could be awarded up to $1.5 million, which is nearly 70% more than public entities.

The legislation would also be retroactive, which means victims could file lawsuits against entities even if the current statute of limitations has already passed. The current statute of limitations for suing entities is seven years from the day before the victim’s 18th birthday. For lawsuits against direct offenders, the statute of limitations is 20 years after the person turns 18. 

“These bills treat public and private institutions differently by setting a lower ceiling on how much a public school board, for example, could be sued compared to a private institution such as a parish or nonpublic school,” the Maryland Catholic Conference told Crux. “This creates two classes of survivors and greatly increases the financial harm to the Church and its ministries.”

In the email to the news outlet, the conference also criticized the unlimited window. 

“The draconian provision of an unlimited window for currently time-barred civil cases to be filed, regardless of when they occurred, is nearly unprecedented among similar laws passed in other states,” the email read.

Similar rules in other states have financially damaged dioceses throughout the country over abuse allegations that span a half of a century or more. Last week, the Diocese of Albany filed for bankruptcy after settling more than 50 lawsuits, some of which date back to the 1970s. The Diocese of Oakland may need to declare bankruptcy for similar reasons. 

And last week a Maryland judge approved the release of the attorney general’s sexual abuse investigation into the Diocese of Baltimore. This investigation spans 80 years. 

U.S. bishops: Catholic health care providers shouldn’t perform ‘gender transition’ procedures

null / Image credit: ADragan/Shutterstock

CNA Newsroom, Mar 20, 2023 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

The U.S. Catholic bishops released a statement Monday offering moral guidance for Catholic health care institutions, reiterating that “gender transition” interventions are not to be performed because they do not respect the fact that God has created each person as a unity of body and soul. 

“The body is not an object, a mere tool at the disposal of the soul, one that each person may dispose of according to his or her own will, but it is a constitutive part of the human subject, a gift to be received, respected, and cared for as something intrinsic to the person,” the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine wrote.

“As the range of what we can do expands, we must ask what we should or should not do. An indispensable criterion in making such determinations is the fundamental order of the created world. Our use of technology must respect that order.”

To that end, the bishops wrote, “Catholic health care services must not perform interventions, whether surgical or chemical, that aim to transform the sexual characteristics of a human body into those of the opposite sex or take part in the development of such procedures.”

“They must employ all appropriate resources to mitigate the suffering of those who struggle with gender incongruence, but the means used must respect the fundamental order of the human body. Only by using morally appropriate means do health care providers show full respect for the dignity of each human person.”

The March 20 statement, titled “Doctrinal Note on the Moral Limits to Technological Manipulation of the Human Body,” is intended, the bishops say, to provide moral criteria for Catholic health care institutions for discerning which medical interventions promote the authentic good of the human person and which are injurious. The bishops said they developed the statement in consultation with medical ethicists, physicians, psychologists, and moral theologians. 

The bishops note that modern technology offers chemical, surgical, and genetic interventions for the functioning of the human body as well as for modifying its appearance. There are two scenarios, they said, whereby “technological interventions” can be morally justified: when they are aimed at repairing a defect in the body or sacrificing a part of the body for the sake of the whole, such as with amputation. These kinds of interventions “respect the fundamental order and finality inherent in the human person.”

However, gender transition surgeries “regards this order as unsatisfactory in some way and proposes a more desirable order, a redesigned order,” and thus are not morally permissible.

“These technological interventions are not morally justified either as attempts to repair a defect in the body or as attempts to sacrifice a part of the body for the sake of the whole,” the bishops asserted. 

The bishops said one of the reasons for this moral calculus is that the “transitioning” person’s organs, which undergo mutilation and reconstruction during the gender transition process, are not disordered but are healthy. Moreover, “when a part of the body is legitimately sacrificed for the sake of the whole body, whether by the entire removal or substantial reconfiguration of a bodily organ, the removal or reconfiguring of the bodily organ is reluctantly tolerated as the only way to address a serious threat to the body. Here, by contrast, the removal or reconfiguring is itself the desired result.”

Discussing the proliferation of “gender transition” medical interventions, the bishops noted that Catholic health care institutions are not to take part in these interventions because they do not respect the “fundamental order of the human body” as being “sexually differentiated.”

“Such interventions, thus, do not respect the fundamental order of the human person as an intrinsic unity of body and soul, with a body that is sexually differentiated,” the bishops continued. 

“The soul does not come into existence on its own and somehow happen to be in this body, as if it could just as well be in a different body. A soul can never be in another body, much less be in the wrong body,” the bishops wrote. 

“Because of this order and finality, neither patients nor physicians nor researchers nor any other persons have unlimited rights over the body; they must respect the order and finality inscribed in the embodied person.”

The bishops quoted Pope Francis, who wrote in his encyclical ​​Laudato Si’: “The acceptance of our bodies as God’s gift is vital for welcoming and accepting the entire world as a gift from the Father and our common home, whereas thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation.”

Relying on medical interventions that do not respect the body-soul unity is a “mistake,” they wrote. 

“An approach that does not respect the fundamental order will never truly solve the problem in view; in the end, it will only create further problems. The Hippocratic tradition in medicine calls upon all health care providers first and foremost to ‘do no harm.’ Any technological intervention that does not accord with the fundamental order of the human person as a unity of body and soul, including the sexual difference inscribed in the body, ultimately does not help but, rather, harms the human person.”

Encounter Jesus in the Mass this Easter with this 7-week series offered by the Eucharistic Revival

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Washington D.C., Mar 20, 2023 / 15:36 pm (CNA).

This Easter season the U.S. bishops are inviting old and new Catholics to discover the truth, beauty, and goodness of the Mass through a brand-new reflection series releasing every Thursday from Divine Mercy Sunday to Pentecost, April 13 through May 25.

Titled “Beautiful Light: A Paschal Mystagogy” and part of the bishop’s National Eucharistic Revival campaign, the series will feature powerful weekly reflections from some of the nation’s leading Catholic speakers and theologians on the divine mystery of the Mass.

“At every age and stage of life, Jesus invites us to discover the joy of friendship with him,” said National Eucharistic Revival spokesperson Sister Alicia Torres, FE, in a Monday press release. “For Catholics, this happens in a most special way during Mass — the source and summit of the Christian life.’”

“Many of us haven’t had the chance to really explore the beauty and mystery God invites us into at Mass. That is the goal of [this series], to give every Catholic a chance to go deeper this Easter season,” Torres said.

Over the seven weeks of the series, seven different Catholic thinkers will write reflections on different rites of the Mass: 

  1. Archbishop Charles Thompson of Indianapolis will kick off the series by writing on sacrifice. 

  2. Sister Maria Miguel Wright of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, will follow by reflecting on praise and thanksgiving. 

  3. Next, renowned biblical scholar Jeff Cavins will write on the universal call to holiness.

  4. Archbishop James Peter Sartain of Seattle will reflect on Jesus as Lord and lover of souls. 

  5. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops President Archbishop Timothy Broglio will write about the joy of trinitarian adoration. 

  6. Theologian and podcaster Father Harrison Ayre will write on the communal character of the Church as the body of Christ. 

  7. Archdiocese of Washington adult formation and Hispanic catechesis coordinator Kately Javier will finish off the series by reflecting on the paschal mystery.

“Whether you are just joining the Church at Easter Vigil this year or have been Catholic your entire life, this series is for you,” Torres said.

Torres told CNA that her “primary hope is that this series will help us open our hearts to a new and deeper encounter with Jesus in the Mass that impels us to go on mission with Jesus — especially in the ordinary, everyday moments of our lives.” 

“What does it look like to go on mission with Jesus? Jesus told us to love one another as he has loved us (Jn 13:34). Loving this way — the way Jesus loves — this is what it means to go on mission with him. When we are on mission with Jesus, we are living eucharistic lives,” Torres said.

The paschal mystagogy theme calls for an Easter rediscovery of the Mass. The word “paschal” refers to the Easter season while mystagogy refers to “liturgical catechesis to initiate people in the mysteries of Christ” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1075).

In a 2019 address, Pope Francis said “mystagogy means discovering the new life we have received in the people of God through the sacraments, and continually rediscovering the beauty of renewing it.”

To access the Easter reflections, subscribe here

For more information on the National Eucharistic Revival, click here