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Padre Pio's relics coming to national shrine in DC

The body of St. Pio of Pietrelcina / Alexey Gotovskiy/CNA

Boston, Mass., May 18, 2022 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina never visited the United States during his time on earth, but now his relics, which include multiple elements from his body, will be visiting Washington D.C. this weekend as they are displayed for veneration at the nation’s largest Catholic church.

The 20th century Italian priest, often referred to as "Padre Pio", received the stigmata, or wounds resembling those of Christ crucified. He was also well known for the many miracles that occurred through him during his life on earth.

The relics will be visiting the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception May 21-22. A spokesperson for the shrine, Jacquelyn Hayes, told CNA that this weekend will be the first time Padre Pio’s relics will be visiting the basilica.

The first and second class relics include crust from the saint’s wounds, his blood stains on cotton gauze, a lock of his hair, his handkerchief which contains his sweat, and a piece of his mantle.

On Saturday, the relics will be available for veneration from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Great Upper Church. The Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Wilton Gregory, will be celebrating a Mass in honor of Padre Pio at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday as well.

The relics will also be on display Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The relics are being provided by the Tuckahoe, New York-based Saint Pio Foundation, which annually sponsors a tour of Padre Pio’s relics. The showing is happening in partnership with the Archdiocese of Washington.

The foundation’s website says that it sponsors “a tour of the relics each year to give hundreds of thousands of the faithful an opportunity to have a ‘spiritual encounter’ with Padre Pio, to pray to him, and to ask for his intercession.”

A tour schedule for the relics of Padre Pio can be found on the foundation’s website.

The foundation, which has a mission of promoting awareness of the saint and his charism, allows for requests to host the relics in a diocese or parish.

“The request must come directly from the archbishop of an archdiocese, the bishop of a diocese, or the pastor of a parish of the Catholic Church for an archdiocesan, diocesan, or parish veneration, respectively,” the foundation’s website says.

St. John Paul II and Blessed Carlo Acutis named among patrons of World Youth Day 2023

St. John Paul II in 1978. / Vatican Media.

Rome Newsroom, May 18, 2022 / 11:30 am (CNA).

The Virgin Mary will be the “patroness par excellence” of the youth gathering.

Pope Francis dismisses prominent German ex-monk from clerical state

Anselm Bilgri / Screenshot from TV BAYERN LIVE* YouTube channel.

Munich, Germany, May 18, 2022 / 10:51 am (CNA).

Anselm Bilgri is a well-known figure in the German-speaking Catholic world.

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In Michigan, 'rogue decision' blocks longtime state abortion law

Shutterstock

Denver Newsroom, May 17, 2022 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

Michigan’s longstanding law against abortion cannot be enforced if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, a state judge said Tuesday in a temporary injunction.

Michigan adopted a law criminalizing abortion as a felony, except when necessary to save the life of the mother, in 1931.

“After 50 years of legal abortion in Michigan, there can be no doubt that the right of personal autonomy and bodily integrity enjoyed by our citizens includes the right of a woman, in consultation with her physician, to terminate a pregnancy,” Court of Claims Judge Elizabeth Gleicher said May 17, issuing a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the state law.

The law has not been enforced since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, but the Michigan Court of Appeals found in 1997 that there is no right to abortion in the state constitution.

According to Gleicher, the right to an abortion is almost certainly guaranteed under the state constitution’s due process provisions that protect bodily integrity, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Critics noted that the judge is a donor to Planned Parenthood and previously represented Planned Parenthood in a failed challenge to precedent upholding the state abortion law.

“The judge engaged in an analysis without any advocacy from the other side, and she was demonstrably wrong in her legal conclusions, drawing on precedent which has absolutely no bearing on pro-life laws,” John Bursch, Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel and former Michigan solicitor general, told journalists on a May 17 phone conference.

“The Michigan court of appeals has already held that this exact same 1931 law is valid under the constitution, in a case where Planned Parenthood sued, and lost, when represented by the very judge who issued today’s opinion,” he added.

“Even more extraordinary, that same judge makes annual contributions to Planned Parenthood, in effect, indirectly subsidizing the very same legislation she is now decided, and has also received an Award as a Planned Parenthood advocate. She should have recused herself from the case, and not participated in it.”

Planned Parenthood of Michigan, represented by the ACLU of Michigan, had filed a lawsuit against Michigan’s attorney general seeking an injunction against the law.

Bonsitu Kitaba, the ACLU affiliate’s assistant legal director, had previously said an injunction would be the best-case scenario for her clients and for Michigan.

Gleicher’s injunction said the law “criminalizes virtually all abortions, and if enforced, will abruptly and completely end the availability of abortion services in Michigan.”

A preliminary injunction advances the public interest and allows the court “to make a full ruling on the merits of the case without subjecting plaintiff and their patients to the impact of a total ban on abortion services in the state,” she said.

Gleicher is a 2007 appointee of Gov. Jennifer Granholm. She is a donor to Planned Parenthood and represented the organization as a volunteer lawyer with the ACLU in a key 1990s abortion case. That case led the Michigan Appeals Court to determine that the state constitution “does not guarantee a right to abortion that is separate and distinct from the federal right,” the Detroit Free Press reports.

When Gleicher disclosed this information, the Michigan Republican Party called on her to recuse herself from the case, but she declined.

Complicating the lawsuit was that Attorney General Dana Nessel agreed that there was a “lack of adversity” and no jurisdiction for the Michigan Court of Claims because she does not intend to enforce the law against abortion. Nessel, a Democrat, does not believe the law is constitutional, but thought the lawsuit should have been dismissed.

Planned Parenthood countered that the attorney general of the state can change.

Bursch said the situation was “extraordinary.”

“This is the kind of mess that you end up with in the court system when the state executive and its attorney general refuse to uphold and defend a law that has been in place since 1931. They may not like it. But no one has the ability to unilaterally ignore, change or encourage the invalidation of Michigan law. They should be working through the democratic process, like anyone else,” he said.

Bursch apologized for initially describing the judge in the case as a “rogue judge,” saying instead “it’s certainly a rogue decision.”

“It’s a rogue decision for someone who is ethically conflicted in hearing the case and lacks jurisdiction to decide the case to nonetheless go ahead and issue an injunction against the attorney general of the state, based on arguments that no one has argued before her in briefing or in oral argument,” he said.

Bursch said the Alliance Defending Freedom legal group had initially been invited to submit arguments, but then was excluded from participating because it wasn’t a party to the case.

“This was all done in secret with parties that agreed on the results. It’s improper, six ways from Sunday,” Bursch said.

Right to Life Michigan and the Michigan Catholic Conference are considering what options they can pursue. The legal complexities of the case could mean seeking appellate review without necessarily intervening as a party.

“We are unquestionably going to take legal action. I would expect such a decision to be announced by the end of the week,” said Bursch, whose legal group represents the two organizations.

Abortion advocacy groups in the state have launched a ballot initiative to override the 1931 law by way of a constitutional amendment.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has filed her own lawsuit which asks the Michigan Supreme Court “to recognize a constitutional right to an abortion under the Due Process Clause of the Michigan Constitution.”

As reason for the lawsuit, she cited a possible decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a pending U.S. Supreme Court case that could alter or abolish precedent mandating legal abortion.

The governor’s lawsuit named as defendants the prosecutors in 13 Michigan counties with abortion clinics. The seven Democratic prosecutors have agreed not to enforce the law, while the six remaining prosecuting attorneys are Republicans.

That lawsuit drew some criticism.

“The right to life for unborn children and its inherent value given by our Creator cannot be reduced to a legal opinion or legislative vote,” Michigan Catholic Conference policy advocate Rebecca Mastee said in an April 7 response to Whitmer’s lawsuit. “While the legality of abortion is contingent upon democratic structures, it is unfortunate that the judicial branch is being used to try to invalidate a longstanding policy approved by elected representatives and left untouched by the Legislature for nearly a century since.”

A 1972 ballot measure in Michigan rejected legalized abortion, Mastee noted.

Whitmer is a staunch backer of abortion. In September 2021, she used a line-item veto to remove from the state budget about $16 million worth of funding for alternatives to abortion, drawing objections from the state’s Catholic conference.

Philly archbishop condemns 'mortal sin of racism' after Buffalo shooting

Mourners light candles at a makeshift memorial outside of Tops market on May 16, 2022 in Buffalo, New York. A gunman opened fire at the store yesterday killing ten people and wounding another three. The attack was believed to be motivated by racial hatred. / Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Denver Newsroom, May 17, 2022 / 15:39 pm (CNA).

Archbishop Nelson Perez of Philadelphia said on Tuesday that the recent mass shooting in Buffalo, New York is a reminder of the continuing “mortal sin of racism.”

A gunman killed 10 Black people on May 14 at a supermarket. Another three persons were injured in the shooting.

The archbishop called the incident “another painful reminder that the mortal sin of racism has not been eradicated in this country. We must continue our work to stamp it out. All lives are gifts from God designed to share their unique gifts with those around them. Tragically, these gifts were violently ripped away from families, friends, and a community that is now struggling with deep grief.”

“I pray that God will comfort those whose hearts have been broken and that He will embolden and strengthen all of us to build and defend a culture of love and respect for all of our brothers and sisters,” he said.

He juxtaposed the shooting with a Concert for Unity sponsored by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s racial healing commission: “It featured a unified choir of over 100 gifted individuals from diverse racial and ethnic communities praising God with one voice along with shared reflections and bold statements condemning the sin of racism.”

The Knights of Peter Claver, the largest historically African-American Catholic lay organization in the U.S., has also responded to the shooting.

“We pray for all victims and survivors impacted by the sin of racism. We must even pray that those entrapped by this sinful nature, be released from its oppressing hand,” the fraternity said in a May 16 statement. 

“While the vast majority easily see and understand how horrific this act of evilness is, too few acknowledge and accept the everyday contributing factors that keep leading to these tragic outcomes.”

The Knights of Peter Claver said racism is neither pro-life nor Christian, and “is not of God. Racism and hatred are tools used by the Devil in an attempt to separate the People of God from His Love. God did not create us to be superior or inferior; nor master or slave to one another. He created us in his image and likeness to love and be loved by one another.”

 

“We condemn the evil and racist attacks that occurred in last week’s shooting of innocent Black Americans simply buying groceries. We pray for unity, love, peace, and understanding.  We condemn the thoughts and ideologies that encourage horrific and sinful actions against God’s children. We pray that God’s unconditional, unquestionable, and unending love fill our hearts - replacing any and all dehumanizing thoughts and actions that disrespects the sanctity of life and the love we should have for one another. We condemn all harmful and hateful racist thoughts and actions.”

Authorities called the shooting a racially motivated hate crime and said that the gunman specifically targeted the store because it is located in a predominantly Black neighborhood. Eleven of those shot were Black, while the other two victims were white.

The gunman in Buffalo surrendered to police at the scene. The suspect, 18-year-old Payton S. Gendron of Conklin, New York, more than 200 miles from Buffalo, was taken into custody and charged with first-degree murder.

The gunman is believed to have posted a manifesto online in which he expressed racist, anti-immigrant views and claimed that white Americans were at risk of being replaced by people of color.

NJ bishops express 'outrage' over plan to mandate insurance coverage for abortion

Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey. / JStone/Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 17, 2022 / 14:55 pm (CNA).

New Jersey’s Catholic bishops on Thursday expressed their disappointment with a proposal by Governor Phil Murphy to expand abortion access in the state, which already recognizes abortion as a constitutional right.

“The Catholic Bishops of New Jersey join to express our disappointment and outrage over Governor Murphy’s announcement regarding proposed legislation to expand access to abortion in New Jersey, an act that by its very nature terminates human life,” the bishops' May 12 statement says. 

“This proposed legislation is a direct attack on the dignity and sanctity of life and is further evidence that we have failed as a society when a mother feels her only option is to end the life of her child,” the statement says.

The proposed legislation, announced in a May 11 press conference by Murphy, a Democrat, would mandate that health insurance plans fully cover abortion; codify regulations allowing non-physicians to perform abortions; and dedicating more taxpayer funds to abortion.

The bill would also protect “medical providers and patients who provide or receive abortion care in New Jersey from legal actions initiated by states which have outlawed abortion,” Murphy said.

Murphy said New Jersey would not be “cooperating with any out of state investigation into our healthcare providers…that seek to punish anyone: patient, provider, counselor, friend, Uber driver, you name it, for providing abortion care.”

CNA contacted Murphy’s office for clarification on which states and laws he is referring to, but a spokesperson was not immediately available for comment by time of publication.

“Ironically,” the bishops’ letter says, “New Jersey already has some of the most permissive abortion laws in the United States and continues to provide abortion providers tens of millions of dollars in public funds to perform these services.”

The letter, signed by the heads of the state’s five Latin rite dioceses and its two Eastern Catholic eparchies, continues: “New Jersey continues to rank among the top three states in annual abortion procedures nationwide. For these reasons it is incomprehensible to force health insurance providers in New Jersey to cover 100 percent of the cost to expand access to these abhorrent services.”

The bishops wrote that the “Catholic Church is committed to opposing this legislation, but more importantly we stand ready to broaden and increase awareness about the abundant resources and programs we offer from pregnancy and foster care centers to clothing, food, housing services, adoption agencies, family resource centers, and national programs.”

The bishops highlighted Walking with Moms in Need, an initiative of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities which supports pregnant women and pregnancy resource centers through parish life. 

“We promise to assist and stand by every mother and family facing a difficult and unplanned pregnancy,” they concluded.