Browsing News Entries
Posted on 06/24/2019 22:00 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Harrisburg, Pa., Jun 24, 2019 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- A growing number of states are considering bans or additional restrictions on child marriages, including in Pennsylvania, where a bill to outlaw child marriages passed the state’s House of Representatives earlier this month.
“Children under the age of 18 cannot vote, serve in the military and buy alcohol or tobacco products, among other things,” Pennsylvania state Rep. Jesse Topper (R), one of the lead co-sponsors of the legislation, HB 360, stated upon its passage on June 5.
“Marriage is a life-altering decision and those who enter into it must be of a certain maturity that comes with age.”
The legislation is expected to pass the Senate and to be signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf (D), NBC News reported.
Once the bill is enacted into law, Pennsylvania would become the third state, joining New Jersey and Delaware, to outlaw marriage licenses for any applicants under the age of 18; other states set age limits below 18 or allow for exceptions such as court approval.
There are currently 13 states without any age restrictions on marriage, though Maine’s state legislature recently passed a law restricting marriage licenses to applicants aged 16 or older and is due to come into force on Monday.
State Reps. Perry Warren (D) and Topper are the Pennsylvania bill’s lead co-sponsors.
Topper stated in a press release that child marriages—mostly between adult males and female minors—legalized relationships that would otherwise be considered cases of statutory rape. The bill would amend the state’s current law, which allows for marriage licenses for children younger than age 16 to be granted through court approval, and for children ages 16 to 18 with parental consent.
Warren said upon passage of the legislation that “this bill is about child protection,” and that “studies have shown that the child is often not in control of a decision to marry before 18, and a child under 18 does not have the legal rights of an adult.”
The advocacy group Unchained at Last, which works to end forced marriages and child marriages in the U.S. and which supported the Pennsylvania legislation, says that around 248,000 children were married in the U.S. between the years 2000 and 2010.
That estimate was drawn from data gathered in 38 states which revealed more than 167,000 child marriages in the time frame, with estimated numbers from the remaining 12 states and Washington, D.C. “based on the strong correlation Unchained identified between population and child marriage.”
Child spouses have a significantly high risk of abuse, due to their vulnerability, along with a higher risk of divorce, the group says.
According to a 2017 PBS FRONTLINE report, there were at least 207,459 reported child marriages in the U.S. with children as young as 12 being granted marriage licenses in several states.
The number of child marriages did fall significantly over the time period between 2000 and 2010, both PBS and Unchained at Last noted.
Posted on 06/24/2019 20:01 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Pueblo, Colo., Jun 24, 2019 / 12:01 pm (CNA).- A charter bus carrying members of a Catholic group from New Mexico crashed Sunday in southern Colorado, killing at least two people including the driver and injuring more than a dozen others.
The group, high schoolers from Aquinas Newman Center at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, had been in Denver for the weekend attending Steubenville of the Rockies, an annual Catholic youth conference.
Among the dead is Jason Paul Marshall, a seminarian of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. Marshall was studying theology at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio.
The crash occurred on Interstate 25 around 2:30 pm June 23 about ten miles north of Pueblo. The bus struck part of a bridge structure and went off the highway into a ditch.
Colorado State Patrol reported that the driver was ejected from the bus and died. Thirteen other passengers sustained injuries ranging from minor to critical, CSP reported. The Archdiocese of Santa Fe later named the driver as 22-year-old Anthony Padilla.
A total of 14 ambulances and three medical helicopters were called to the scene to assist. Authorities said the driver may have had an “unspecified medical issue” that contributed to the crash, but the cause of the accident is still under investigation.
Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe will be celebrating a Mass of Healing June 26 at the Newman Center for the victims of the crash. A call from CNA to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe on Monday morning went unanswered as of press time.
Around 30 remaining members of the Newman Center group were able to attend Mass Sunday evening at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver. Father Robert Fisher offered prayers for the victims of the crash during Mass.
“Please pray tonight for a Catholic group from New Mexico who were involved in a tragic bus accident this afternoon in Pueblo,” the Archdiocese of Denver said on Facebook.
“The group had attended the Steubenville of the Rockies Youth Conference in Denver and was on its way home. We send our prayers and deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who were killed, and our prayers for healing and comfort for those who were injured.”
Posted on 06/24/2019 19:12 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., Jun 24, 2019 / 11:12 am (CNA).- On Saturday US President Donald Trump announced he would delay immigration raids meant to begin that weekend, and the US bishops stated their opposition to the planned deportations.
“We recognize the right of nations to control their borders in a just and proportionate manner. However, broad enforcement actions instigate panic in our communities and will not serve as an effective deterrent to irregular migration,” Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin said June 22.
“Instead, we should focus on the root causes in Central America that have compelled so many to leave their homes in search of safety and reform our immigration system with a view toward justice and the common good,” said the bishop, who chairs the US bishops' migration committee.
He added: “We stand ready to work with the Administration and Congress to achieve those objectives.”
Trump had announced upcoming immigration raids June 17, but on Saturday said he would delay the action two weeks, to allow Congress to modify US asylum law.
The Trump administration is eager to reduce the number of illegal immigrants in the US.
Earlier this month, Mexico agreed to take measures to reduce the number of migrants to the US, in order to avoid the imposition of tariffs.
Some 6,000 National Guard troops will be assigned to Mexico's southern border with Guatemala, and some asylum seekers in the US will be sent to Mexico to wait while their claims are processed.
In the US, the House passed a bill June 4 that would provide a citizenship path for some brought to the US illegally as children, as well as for qualified holders of Temporary Protected Status or Deferred Enforced Departure.
Bishop Vásquez commented that “Dreamers, TPS and DED holders are working to make our communities and parishes strong and are vital contributors to our country. We welcome today’s vote and urge the Senate to take up this legislation which gives permanent protection to Dreamers, TPS and DED holders.”
The bill, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, would grant qualifying childhood arrivals 10 years of legal residence, after which they could receive permanent legal residence with two years of higher education or military service, or three years of employment. Those with TPS or DED could apply for lawful permanent residence if they have been in the country for at least three years and have passed background checks. After five years of lawful permanent residence, they would apply for citizenship.
In May, Bishop Vásquez and Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston, president of the US bishops' conference, voiced concern over a separate immigration plan from the Trump administration which prioritizes immigration status based on merit rather than family ties.
“We oppose proposals that seek to curtail family-based immigration and create a largely ‘merit-based’ immigration system,” they said. “Families are the foundation of our faith, our society, our history, and our immigration system.”
Posted on 06/24/2019 00:12 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., Jun 23, 2019 / 04:12 pm (CNA).- This Sunday, in Catholic parishes across the country, one in four women sitting in the pews will have experienced severe physical violence in their own homes from their spouses or partners - including burns, choking, beating, or the use of a weapon against them. One in nine men will have experienced the same.
According to one priest who is an expert in the subject, priests in the U.S. are still not doing enough to address the issue.
“The Church has been complicit in this because we haven’t talked about it enough,” said Fr. Charles Dahm, a priest of the Chicago Archdiocese who leads its domestic violence outreach program.
Dahm was a priest at a large parish with a majority-Hispanic population near downtown Chicago for 21 years. During his time there, after hiring a counselor on his staff, he learned that many of his parishioners were victims of domestic abuse, he told CNA. He asked his counselor to train him in recognizing and responding to abuse, and he started to talk about domestic violence in his homilies.
“And the more I spoke about it, the more victims came to me,” he said. Word of Dahm’s parish ministry spread, as parishioners referred their relatives, neighbors and friends. Around the year 2000, the parish office was receiving an average of one victim of domestic violence every day, he said.
Today, he coordinates the Church’s response to domestic abuse at the Archdiocese of Chicago, educating and training priests and other Church leaders on how to prevent and respond to instances of domestic abuse. He travels to give homilies and workshops on the topic, and while he’s been to many parishes throughout his own archdiocese, Dahm said it has been difficult to get other dioceses to respond to his offers of help.
The clergy of the U.S., including the bishops, are largely ignorant about the existence of domestic violence, Dahm said.
“The studies show it’s rampant in the United States. Every pastor who stands up on Sunday looking out on his congregation - he is facing dozens if not scores of victims in his congregation in front of him, and he does not know how to speak to them.”
The ignorance surrounding domestic abuse has a variety of causes, Dahm noted. Priests have not been educated on domestic violence in the seminary, and so they do not expect to encounter it in the priesthood. If a priest does not talk about domestic violence, victims may not approach him about it, and he can therefore have a false sense that it does not exist in his parish. Priests are also overstretched and overworked, and can be weary about taking on new ministries, he added.
“It’s a real travesty that...the clergy is resistant to this topic,” he said.
Misunderstanding abuse as a Catholic
There can also be misunderstandings among Catholics - lay people and clergy alike - about the prevalence of domestic violence and how to respond to it within the context of a Christian marriage.
For example, Dahm said, it is a mistake to think that because couples are religious and going to church, they are less likely to experience or perpetrate abuse.
A 2019 study from the Institute for Family Studies and the Wheatley Institution of Brigham Young University found that while religion offers many benefits to couples, it unfortunately does not positively impact their rates of domestic violence.
“When it comes to domestic violence, religious couples in heterosexual relationships do not have an advantage over secular couples or less/mixed religious couples. Measures of intimate partner violence (IPV)—which includes physical abuse, as well as sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and controlling behaviors—do not differ in a statistically significant way by religiosity,” the study noted.
Other misunderstandings about how to respond to domestic violence come from an incomplete understanding of the Catholic teaching about the permanence of marriage, or the role of suffering in the life of a Christian.
Sharon O’Brien is the director of Catholics For Family Peace, an education and research initiative that is part of the National Catholic School of Social Service’s Consortium for Catholic Social Teaching at the Catholic University of America.
O’Brien told CNA that while marriage is meant to be a sacrament that lasts until the end of a person’s or their partner’s life, domestic violence can be a valid justification for a Catholic to seek at least physical separation from their spouse.
“Catholics I think are challenged to understand that abuse in a marriage is unacceptable,” O’Brien said. “But it’s sinful and it’s usually criminal.”
Greg Pope is the assistant general secretary for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, which recently held their annual Day for Life, a day set aside for raising awareness of various pro-life issues. This year, they chose domestic violence as the theme of the day.
Pope told CNA that domestic violence “fundamentally undermines the Church’s teaching on the inherent dignity of the human person and the complementarity of couples within a marriage.”
He said that Catholic couples experiencing domestic abuse should know that Canon Law, the governing law of the Church, addresses domestic violence, and states: “If either of the spouses causes grave mental or physical danger to the other spouse or to the offspring or otherwise renders common life too difficult, that spouse gives the other a legitimate cause for leaving, either by decree of the local ordinary or even on his or her own authority if there is danger in delay.” (Can. 1153 §1.)
“The Church does not force anyone to remain in an abusive relationship,” Pope reiterated.
Furthermore, O’Brien said, Catholics can have a misunderstanding of the role of suffering in their lives, and some may think that the suffering they experience through domestic violence may be God’s way of “punishing” them for some other sin.
“Yes, suffering exists and yes, we can offer it to the Lord, but we’re not to seek suffering,” O’Brien said, and Catholics should not tolerate abuse in the name of suffering.
“The other big deal with Catholics is understanding that this is not punishment,” she added.
“Yes, maybe you had an abortion, or yes, maybe you all were engaged in relations before marriage...but experiencing domestic abuse is not punishment for some other sin, and you are called to address it, to figure out what to do,” she said.
How the Church responds to domestic abuse
In 1992, the Catholic bishops of the U.S. wrote “When I Call for Help: A Pastoral Response to Domestic Violence Against Women.”
In the document, the bishops clearly state Catholic Church teaching regarding domestic abuse. They also examine why abuse happens, how one can respond to it, and information on where and how abused women and men can seek help.
The document “was cutting edge in 1992 and is still incredibly relevant and appropriate,” said Fr. Dahm. It has since been updated, but only in very minor ways.
“As pastors of the Catholic Church in the United States, we state as clearly and strongly as we can that violence against women, inside or outside the home, is never justified. Violence in any form —physical, sexual, psychological, or verbal —is sinful; often, it is a crime as well. We have called for a moral revolution to replace a culture of violence. We acknowledge that violence has many forms, many causes, and many victims—men as well as women,” the bishops stated in the document’s introduction.
But while the document is excellent, it is still a “really well-kept secret” of the Church, Dahm said, in that many priests and Church leaders do not know that it exists. He said part of his work over the years has been to bring this document to the attention of priests and seminarians during his workshops on domestic violence.
Catholics for Family Peace is another key part of the Church’s response in the United States.
“All the major religions have a national office where clergy and leaders can be trained on domestic abuse, and so we’re it for Catholics,” O’Brien noted.
“We work with dioceses to implement the 20 strategies in the (bishop’s) statement and to create a coordinated, compassionate response to domestic abuse,” she said. They also host several awareness-raising events during the month of October, which is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Lauri Przybysz, co-founder of Catholics For Family Peace, told CNA that their mission extends beyond education and training for clergy and leaders to “education for engaged couples as they prepare for marriage, for them to understand what a healthy relationship means for their marriage, and just facts about domestic violence that a lot of people aren't aware of.”
“We actually have an education module that we can share with marriage preparation leaders... [that] has a little questionnaire that a couple can take to say, to identify: ‘Is there something in my relationship that could be better?’” she said.
They also educate teens on healthy dating and relationships, and they compile good secular resources that clergy can use too, because many of them do not have anything in them contrary to the Catholic faith, Przybysz said.
O’Brien also said that the archdioceses of both Chicago and Washington, D.C., have modeled some of the best responses to domestic violence.
Laura Yeomans is the program manager for the Parish Partners Program at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. The website for the program includes a homily on domestic violence, a downloadable packet for pastors responding to domestic violence, definitions and explanations of domestic violence and Church teaching, as well as links to emergency resources for victims, among other things.
Yeomans and her team connect with priests and families at the parish level when they are notified about cases of domestic abuse, she said.
“We go out to the parish setting and we meet individually with families who are suffering domestic abuse,” Yeomans said.
Basic do’s and don’ts of responding to domestic violence
While a natural response for pastors or Catholics who learn about a case of domestic abuse may be to call the police, Przybysz warned against it. If a perpetrator knows they have been found out, their violence could escalate to the point of killing their victim.
“It's about walking beside someone, giving them information about where they can find safety, when they decide to make the move,” she said.
Yeomans seconded this advice. “When you're talking with family suffering, domestic abuse, it's very important that we not go in with an agenda,” she said.
The first thing to do is listen, Yeomans said, and to say: “I believe you.” Next, she said, ask: “What can I do? How can I help you? What step would you like to take?”
“It's very important not to say, ‘You should forgive him,’” she said, because this gives the victim the false impression that they must continue enduring the abuse in the meantime. Forgiveness may come eventually, Yeomans said, but the first priority is the safety of the victim.
“Forgiveness is not permitting the abuse to continue,” she said. “It is not allowing yourself and your children to be in danger.”
Spreading awareness of domestic violence, and of the resources available, is one of the best things priests can do for their parishioners, Fr. Dahm said, because then they will know where to turn for help. He said he found it especially true among Hispanics and Latinos, especially those who had recently come to the United States and prefer going to the Church for help.
“It is absolutely true that Hispanics prefer to go to their parish,” he said. “They feel more welcome, they feel safer, that was why in our parish we were so successful - people came to us from all over. I think that had a lot to do with the fact that people wanted to go to a place they trusted.”
Yeomans said that besides speaking about domestic violence at Mass, priests should find out what resources are available to them locally. Once they know what domestic violence hotlines and resources are available, they can print flyers with information and hang them in parish bathrooms, and put informative inserts in their parish bulletins.
Another thing that Yeomans has seen priests do is to raise the question about domestic violence and healthy relationships during times like baptism class, when couples are already at Church to receive some education and information.
Pope said that in the UK, the bishops’ goals for having domestic violence as the theme for their Day for Life was to raise awareness of the issue, to raise additional funds for resources, and to make domestic violence culturally unacceptable.
Fr. Dahm added that he is willing to travel throughout the United States to preach and give workshops on domestic violence in parishes.
“If there are bishops in dioceses who are interested, just tell me, and I will go there,” he said.
By focusing on domestic violence, among other issues, as important pro-life issues, Pope said the bishops hope to help their people follow God’s call in the Gospel of John more closely: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
If you or a loved one are experiencing domestic violence, call the national domestic violence hotline at: 800-799-SAFE (7233) or 800-787-3224 (TTY). For more information, go to www.thehotline.org.
Domestic violence resources through the Archdiocese of Chicago are available at: https://pvm.archchicago.org/human-dignity-solidarity/domestic-violence-outreach
Domestic violence resources, including the pastoral response packet, are available through Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. at: https://www.catholiccharitiesdc.org/familypeace/
Catholics can also visit Catholics for Family Peace or For Your Marriage for additional information.
Posted on 06/22/2019 16:01 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Corpus Christi, Texas, Jun 22, 2019 / 08:01 am (CNA).- Three priests have filed suits against the Diocese of Corpus Christi and its bishop, claiming that they were wrongfully included in a list of clerics credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor within the diocese.
The Corpus Christi Caller Times reported June 20 that Fr. Jesús García Hernando had filed a suit over his inclusion on the list. In March, both Msgr. Michael Heras and Fr. John Feminelli filed similar suits.
The suits state that “Defendants knew the statement was false and acted with reckless disregard for the truth. The publication of the statement was made with malice.”
All three are being represented by Andrew Greenwell of Harris & Greenwell, who told the Caller Times that a fourth suit may be filed as well.
The diocese had earlier filed motions to dismiss the suits from Heras and Feminelli, saying the list was “made in good faith.”
The Corpus Christi diocese released a list of credibly accused clerics Jan. 31, amid a wave of such admissions throughout the US following a Pennsylvania grand jury report on abuse by clerics in six of the state's dioceses.
Announcing the list, Bishop Michael Mulvey of Corpus Christi said that “an Independent Committee comprised of outside legal professionals reviewed all cleric files to determine whether an allegation was credible,” and that “in some cases, files were also reviewed by the Diocesan Review Board.”
The diocese “accepted all recommendations from the Independent Committee and the Diocesan Review Board regarding the names to be included on this list,” he stated.
The bishop added that the diocese “has worked diligently to be accurate with the information presented,” and said that “if any information is found to be incorrect” the diocese's victim assistance coordinator should be contacted.
His statement included a nota bene that “A determination that an allegation against a member of the clergy is credible is not equivalent to a finding by a judge or jury that the cleric is liable or guilty of the sexual abuse of a minor under canon, civil or criminal law.”
On the list were 26 clerics, 12 of whom are deceased.
According to the list, Fr. Hernando was incardinated into the Corpus Christi diocese in 1983, and was ordained the following year in Burgos. He was excardinated from the diocese in 2000, and was removed from ministry in 2011.
Greenwell told the Caller Times that Hernando is still a priest in Spain.
The Caller Times said that Hernando was indicted in 1996 on charges of sexual assault and indecency with a child related to an alleged 1992 incident with a 15-year-old altar boy. Hernando returned to the US from Spain after the indictment. He was not convicted, and the criminal case was dismissed; the prosecutor indicated he needed more evidence than the accuser's testimony.
He has also been accused in a suit “of molesting at least two other men from 1991 to 1994.”
According to the diocese's list, Fr. Feminelli was ordained for the diocese in 1987, and retired in 2007. The Caller Times said in February that a couple filed a suit against the diocese in 1988, “claiming diocese employees circulated false information about their 15-year-old son.” Feminelli was accused of buying the boy gifts in exchange for “wrestling matches” in a hotel room.
The Caller Times wrote that “the suit alleged slander and libel,” saying the bishop and priests “humiliated the family, causing the boy to recant … No wrestling matches took place, the boy said in court.”
Msgr. Heras was ordained for the diocese in 1984, and was removed from ministry in 2014.
That year, district attorneys received complaints of inappropriate conduct which was alleged to have happened 25-30 years earlier. Criminal investigations were not pursued, but a civil suit was filed in October 2018.
A diocesan directory of priests which indicated it was last updated Oct. 30, 2018, listed Feminelli as retired. Heras' status was not indicated.
Posted on 06/22/2019 02:00 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., Jun 21, 2019 / 06:00 pm (CNA).- On Thursday night, President Donald Trump confirmed that he had ordered a military strike against Iran, and then called it off, after a U.S. military drone was shot down by Iran earlier in the week.
Trump said he cancelled the military strike because the expected 150 Iranian casualties were not “proportional” to the destruction of a U.S. drone.
“Ten minutes before the strike I stopped it, [it was] not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone," Trump said.
The concept of proportionality in military conflict is rooted in what is often called the “just war theory,” most famously expounded by St. Thomas Aquinas.
Modern conflicts, which often involve missile and air strikes rather than pitched battles between troops, present a more complicated concept of war than in previous centuries but, theologians told CNA, just war theory remains applicable to modern warfare.
“The Catechism of the Catholic Church does a nice job of summarizing the criteria for entering into the use of military force for self-defense,” Miller told CNA, “though I tend to think of just war as more of a ‘doctrine’ than a ‘theory’ in the Church.”
Miller said the Church’s moral criteria are divided into two categories – the ius ad bello and the ius in bello, covering the criteria for resorting to war and how it is to be conducted once begun.
“Regarding proportionality, the Catechism says that ‘the use of arms must not produce evils or disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated.’ That would be the criterion that [President] Trump seems to be alluding to in saying what he did.”
While the prospect of air strikes causing casualties in response to shooting down an unmanned drone presents a clear case for weighing the proportionality of any response, Miller said, there can be some broader confusion about what proportionality means.
“It does not necessarily mean you cannot take the lives of more enemy combatants than have been lost on your side, that would be almost to say there was an obligation to lose the war. Nor does it necessarily mean that you cannot prosecute a war of self-defense in response to an initial strike – take for example the attack on Pearl Harbor, which was not necessarily intended to precede an invasion of the United States but nevertheless triggered a just response of war with Japan.”
Considering the specific example offered by Trump’s comments, Miller said that, at least based on what has been reported, the reasoning was less straightforward.
“If you think about the act of shooting down a drone – is that intended to be the beginning of a military action leading to further deadly damage to either American or allied personnel or interests? It might be clear that such an act was intended as a provocation, but not necessarily to war.”
Dr. Taylor Patrick O’Neill, assistant professor of theology at Mount Mercy University, told CNA that the ongoing nature of a threat was an important part of invoking a just military response.
“The first criterion for the use of military force is, of course, a just cause,” O’Neill told CNA.
“I think that in response to an act which has not yet caused any casualties, which is not part of an ongoing pattern of military aggression with lives at stake, there is a real question here about the just cause and the proportionality of engaging in a response which would certainly take lives – maybe many lives and even civilian ones at that.”
Miller agreed that responding with deadly force to a non-deadly provocation requires serious scrutiny.
“If it really is the case that the response to, say, the shooting down of an unmanned drone, is only intended to take out the infrastructure which made that possible and to prevent it happening again, it is all the more clear that proportionality really does come to bear when you are looking at taking human life – especially if those lives might include civilians. It becomes very problematic,” Miller said.
Modern conflicts often involve remote means of warfare and targets which are of unclear military status, such as governmental intelligence posts, radar stations, or other logistical installations. While the personnel in them might be primarily military, the presence of civilians has to weighed carefully in discerning military action.
“The classification of people involved can be very difficult to discern in modern conflicts,” O’Neill said.
“We don’t necessarily see artillery shelling enemy lines. With strikes from distance on military targets, there are people involved who might not be military personnel: they might be government intelligence workers or people in a grey area, but then there’s the possibility of just the civilian janitor in the building, how do you put them in the balance of proportionality? It makes things very difficult.”
O’Neill said that with modern means of warfare, there is a very high burden on governments to take all measures possible to limit the loss of potentially innocent human life.
“To have the moral justification and to make some calculus of proportionality, you have to have some good intelligence about who could be harmed – obviously there can be unintended consequences but you have to have a good amount of information about what the effects of a military action could be before you can judge if it is a just response.”
Miller emphasized the same point, telling CNA that even in response to the deaths of soldiers, any military response has to involve a difficult prudential judgment about the risk to civilian life.
“If lives are being lost and there is, say, an installation which is helping make that happen, a responsive attack there could be justified and proportionality satisfied, but only as long as everything that reasonably can be done to limit civilian casualties is done,” said Miller.
“Of course, so much of this is about thinking five or ten steps down the road, and it is about balancing the need to prevent an escalation while keeping an eye on all the possible unforeseen consequences,” O’Neill said.
“Whenever an action could have a double effect, proportionality becomes important,” Miller agreed.
“In war especially, but in moral thinking more broadly, where there is that risk, there is a prudential judgment to be made. Each situation needs to be assessed on its own merits and it is not always perfectly quantifiable, even almost a case of ‘you know it when you see it.’ There is no algorithm or mathematical formula for this.”
Posted on 06/22/2019 01:01 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Madison, Wis., Jun 21, 2019 / 05:01 pm (CNA).- As the Democratic Governor of Wisconsin vetoed Friday four bills regulating abortion, Catholics in the state expressed disappointment with the decision.
The Republican-controlled state legislature sent Gov. Tony Evers four bills June 20. They would have imposed criminal penalties on doctors who do not provide medical attention to babies born after a failed abortion; bar Medicaid funding from going to Planned Parenthood; prohibit abortions based on the baby’s sex, race, or defects; and require abortion providers to inform patients that a medical abortion may be reversed after the first dose of mifepristone.
"Everyone should have access to quality, affordable healthcare, and that includes reproductive healthcare,” Evers said June 21.
Regarding his veto of Assembly Bill 182, which would have prohibited sex, race, and disability-based abortions, Evers stated: "I object to the political interference between patients and their healthcare providers ... The provisions of this bill perpetuate harmful stereotypes and put women at risk by making reproductive healthcare less accessible."
Kim Vercauteren, executive director of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, told CNA the conference was let down by the governor’s declaration. She said the bills signified the dignity of all women.
“In the terms of the ... governor's veto of these bills, obviously, we are disappointed and dismayed by that,” she said.
Vercauteren said the bills would protect all women, whether unborn or pregnant.
“These bills do an amazing job of trying to help women that truly respects them, whether they're inside the womb or elsewhere,” said Vercauteren. “It shows that the bills are devoted to prevention diagnosis and care and not the termination of life.”
“It just aligns with our Catholic teaching. Our march for justice for the unborn and newly born children … is the just the recognition of everyone’s full humanity. We have an obligation to protect and promote that. We would hope the government would do the same,” said Vercauteren.
Supporters of the bills do not have enough votes to override Evers' vetos.
In a June 21 tweet, Wisconsin’s Planned Parenthood expressed support for the governor's decision, claiming the bills were based on inaccurate facts.
Evers “vetos a package of anti-women's health bills aimed at misinforming the public about abortion care. These bills and their supporters are making claims that are inflammatory, offensive and blatantly false,” read the tweet.
Posted on 06/22/2019 00:00 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., Jun 21, 2019 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- Amid of a surge of migrants, many of them minors, seeking to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, federal officials have called for emergency funding to address a growing humanitarian crisis. While reports differ, budget constraints have led to cuts to legal aid and educational programs for detained migrant youths.
“We continue to experience a humanitarian and security crisis at the southern border of the United States, and the situation becomes more dire each day,” Alex M. Azar II, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Human Services, and Kevin McAleenan, Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said in a June 12 letter to Members of Congress.
Massive numbers of migrants, often fleeing gang violence and extreme poverty in Central America, are seeking to cross the U.S. border. In May an average of 4,650 people per day crossed into the U.S. or arrived at ports of entry without proper documentation, said Azar and McAleenan in their letter.
There were over 144,000 total enforcement actions on the border, a 32 percent increase over April and the highest monthly total in more than 15 years.
“We urge Congress to take swift action to provide the necessary funding to address the severe humanitarian and operational impacts of this crisis and enact reforms to the root causes of these problems so that they do not persist into the future,” the Trump administration leaders said in their letter.
They warned of “rapidly depleting funds caused by the border surge.” Third-quarter funding is already being withheld in almost all U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
Budgetary constraints mean the HHS has started to defund education services, legal services, and recreation for unaccompanied minors in federal migrant shelters on the ground such activities are “not directly necessary for the protection of life and safety.”
Safety of children in federal care is “the primary concern” of both HHS and DHS, Azar and McAleenan said in their letter. As of June 10, over 2,500 unaccompanied children were among the 17,000 people in Customs and Border Protection custody. On May 1 they numbered only about 870. The number of arriving children “greatly exceeds existing HHS capacity.”
Catholic leaders are also concerned about the funding shortfall.
Kathryn Kuennen, associate director of children’s services at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Children and Migration Office, told CNA that the U.S. bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services serves about 2,000 unaccompanied children per year, though programs could serve more children in coming months. These services work through a national network of licensed unaccompanied refugee minor foster care programs until children in its care are approved for release and reunification with a vetted sponsor in the U.S.
At present these Catholic-run services have not been mandated to cut their budgets.
“We are working within the funding and resources available to cover those expenses,” said Kuennen. “We certainly would be concerned if there is not supplemental funding available.”
Catholic migrant services leaders are confident that their educational programs can continue to cover costs “for a short time,” but they are concerned over long-term funding.
“We are at risk of placing programs in jeopardy with their own state licensing requirements for the children in their care,” Kuennen said June 20.
Melissa Velarde Hastings, a policy advisor to the U.S. bishops, said that the USCCB and its Migrant and Refugee Services have been advocating for Congress to appropriate $2.88 billion for HHS supplemental funding that would ensure funding through the rest of the fiscal year and to provide adequate care for children.
The appropriations process is an important way to ensure better treatment for minors in federal custody or care, especially given concerns about some large-scale facilities which detain undocumented border crossers.
“From our perspective we see these facilities as being an important tool to have available in times when the referral numbers are quite high and it needs the additional capacity,” Hastings told CNA. “However, we are advocating for increased oversight and heightened standards for those facilities.”
She encouraged those concerned to visit the USCCB’s Justice for Immigrants website at justiceforimmigrants.org.
Kuennen saw a need to ensure adequate bed capacity for children and more child-friendly options for migrants.
“There’s absolutely a need to continue to increase available foster home placements or smaller-scale placements for children so that there are alternatives to some of the large-scale facilities that we see and hear about often,” she told CNA. “We continue to support the work in building up a network that is more safe and appropriate for children.”
Earlier this month the Washington Post reported that HHS funding cuts could violate a federal court settlement and state licensing agreements that require education and recreation for minors in federal custody.
One shelter employee, speaking to the Washington Post on condition of anonymity, said the cuts have worried workers who think the care for children will suffer. The educational classes and sports are crucial for the children’s physical and mental health, the employee said.
Unless criteria are met, the Anti-Deficiency Act requires HHS to reallocate up to $167 million to the unaccompanied children program and away from Refugee Support Services, trafficking victims and survivors of torture.
Almost 85,000 people who were part of a “family unit” were apprehended on the Southwest border, with another 4,100 deemed inadmissible. at the border’s ports of entry. The “vast majority” of those apprehended were released into the U.S. “due to a lack of space and authority to detain them,” said Azar and McAleenan’s letter.
In all of fiscal year 2012, the border patrol apprehended just over 11,000 people who were part of a family unit.
Border patrol agents now spend most of their time caring for families and children, providing medical assistance, transportation, and food service “instead of performing law enforcement duties.”
Azar and McAleenan’s letter to Congress cited flu outbreaks at the Centralized Processing Center in McAllen, Texas and other facilities. These outbreaks require separate quarantine facilities to reduce the risk to children and other vulnerable people.
“While agents are providing the best care possible, these groups need more appropriate care, and they need it now,” they said.
Cuts to legal services have also drawn criticism. Such services are necessary for many unaccompanied minors to contest possible deportation.
“We are deeply troubled that these services are being cut for children, who are among the most vulnerable population of immigrants in detention,” Kica Matos, director of the Center on Immigration and Justice at the Vera Institute of Justice, told the Washington Post. Matos’ center manages legal aid programs for the U.S. government.
For decades the U.S. bishops have been active on immigration issues, and recent developments were a focus of their annual spring meeting in Baltimore.
Bishops like Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles said there were serious challenges facing the Church’s mission to migrants and refugees, criticizing the “inhumane” and “immoral” treatment of migrants, asylum-seekers, and others seeking to enter the U.S.
The bishops cited the Trump administration’s lowering of refugee intake caps for a third straight year to 30,000 for FY 2019, as well as the ending of the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program in 2017, and the ongoing non-renewal of Temporary Protected Status designations.
Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, Texas said U.S. policy puts “vulnerable people in harm’s way” by forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their request is processed. He also criticized increases in family detention, rules “to further restrict access to asylum and due process,” and an “enforcement-only approach to migration.”
Religious ministry to detained migrants is also a concern.
With thousands of undocumented immigrants in detention centers throughout the country, Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami said last week, “we as pastors should be concerned that we have our priests there celebrating Mass for them, that the Church is present to them in this area.”
“We have to respond to them and not let the Church be invisible to them,” said Wenski.
Posted on 06/21/2019 18:50 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
St. Louis, Mo., Jun 21, 2019 / 10:50 am (CNA).- Missouri’s health department on Friday rejected a license renewal request from a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis, the last remaining abortion clinic in the state.
Pro-life groups had been calling for the clinic’s closure.
“This particular facility’s track record shows an appalling pattern of botched abortions and other violations that prove they are incapable of policing themselves,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, said May 31. “Planned Parenthood does not deserve special treatment and the health and safety of women should never come second to the abortion industry’s bottom line.”
Planned Parenthood had filed a lawsuit after state health officials initially said the clinic failed to meet safety standards and would not be receiving a license renewal.
The health department cited a failure to cooperate with state regulations, as well as four botched abortions, one in which the mother developed sepsis and another in which the patient was hospitalized with life threatening complications.
Gov. Mike Parson explained May 31 that “We are committed to and take seriously our duty to ensure that all health facilities in Missouri follow the law, abide by regulations, and protect the safety of patients.”
Planned Parenthood objected and accused the state of enforcing regulations arbitrarily for political reasons, National Public Radio reported. The organization contends there is no valid reason for state rules mandating two pelvic exams before the administration of drugs that induce abortions. It has also rejected state demands that officials interview its medical trainees on staff.
State circuit court judge Michael Stelzer had granted a preliminary injunction, allowing the clinic to continue operating past the end of the day on May 31, when its license was set to expire. He ruled that the clinic would face “immediate and irreparable injury” if its license lapsed and said the clinic could stay open while its case was being decided in court.
Missouri’s Department of Health was given until June 21 to make a final ruling on whether it would renew the license.
Stelzer said after the decision that the clinic may remain open until further order from the court, CNN reported.
If the St. Louis Planned Parenthood were to close, Missouri would become the only state without an abortion clinic. Five other states currently have only one facility that performs abortions, according to CBS News.
While the St. Louis Planned Parenthood is the last abortion clinic in Missouri, there is a private surgical abortion facility near St. Louis, across the Mississippi River in Granite City, Ill. A Planned Parenthood clinic 20 miles away in Belleville, Ill. offers medication-induced abortion, the New York Times reports.
In a separate case, on Friday, June 14, St. Louis Circuit Court Judge David Dowd ruled that Missouri’s legislature cannot cut funding from the Planned Parenthood clinic, after the clinic argued that it not only provided abortions, but other health care services, according to a local Fox News affiliate. Missouri Governor Mike Parson said the decision will be appealed.
Parson also recently signed a bill that punishes abortion doctors who perform abortions on a woman who is past eight weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for medical emergencies which seriously threaten the life or quality of life of the mother. The law does not penalize women who obtain abortions.
Archbishop Robert Carlson of St. Louis called the eight-week abortion ban “a giant step forward for the pro-life movement.”
The year 2019 has witnessed significant controversy at the state level over abortion regulations. Changes in the makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court have prompted speculation that the court could dramatically alter or overturn Roe v. Wade and other major precedents mandating legal abortion nationwide.
Missouri is one of at least a dozen states that have enacted abortion restrictions so far this year, with others still considering similar legislation. Other states have passed expansive laws preserving and expanding access to abortion regardless of future Supreme Court decisions.
Posted on 06/21/2019 15:30 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
San Francisco, Calif., Jun 21, 2019 / 07:30 am (CNA).- The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday that new Title X rules, that prohibit funds from going to clinics that perform abortions or provide abortion referrals, can go into effect.
The June 20 decision, issued from the bench in San Francisco, means that Planned Parenthood will stand to lose about $60 million in federal funding, though the abortion provider will continue to receive close to half a billion dollars in federal funding from other programs.
In late February, the Trump Administration finalized the “Protect Life Rule,” which added new eligibility requirements for Title X fund recipients. Shortly thereafter, several states sued over the new policy, and California, Washington, and Oregon received a preliminary injunction that blocked the rule from going into effect. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that earlier decision on Thursday, calling the administration rules a "reasonable" interpretation of federal law.
The court ruled that allowing the injuction to stand would mean “HHS will be forced to allow taxpayer dollars to be spent in a manner that it has concluded violates the law, as well as the government’s important policy interest…in ensuring that taxpayer dollars do not go to fund or subsidize abortions.”
The three judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals who ruled on this case were all appointed by Republican presidents.
Title X is a federal program created in 1965 that subsidizes family-planning and preventative health services, including contraception, for low-income families.
Among other provisions, the Protect Life Rule requires that there be a physical and financial separation between recipients of Title X funds and facilities that perform abortions. Clinics that provide “nondirective counseling” about abortion can still receive funds.
Previous regulations, written during the presidency of Bill Clinton, allowed for health clinics that were co-located with abortion clinics to receive funds, and required that Title X recipients refer patients for abortions.
As a result of Thursday’s ruling, Title X fund recipients are immediately prevented from referring patients for abortion services. By March 2020, health clinics must be located seperatly from abortion facilities in order to be elligable for Title X funding.
Dr. Leana Wen, the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, promised to appeal the court’s decision.