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Federal appeals court sides with Texas bishops in privacy case

Austin, Texas, Jul 16, 2018 / 01:45 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A federal court of appeals sided with the Texas Catholic bishops in a July 15 ruling blocking a request from abortion groups to access the bishops’ private communications regarding abortion.

“Hitting churches with subpoenas to win the culture wars was a bad idea from the start,” said Eric Rassbach, vice president and senior counsel at Becket, which represents the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“We are glad that the Fifth Circuit recognized the deep problems with allowing lawyers to use the power of the court system to probe the private religious discussions of religious groups,” he continued. “That is especially so here, where the plaintiffs oppose the Texas Catholic bishops' right to participate equally in public discourse.”

Whole Woman’s Health, a chain of Texas abortion facilities, filed suit against the State of Texas two years ago over a law that requires aborted fetal remains to be either buried or cremated. Previously, the remains were treated as medical waste and thrown into a landfill.

Although the bishops are not party to the lawsuit, Whole Woman’s Health attempted to acquire various communications from the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops concerning abortion. These included private email and internal communications between bishops.

The bishops had previously offered to bury aborted fetal remains for free in Catholic cemeteries in Texas.

A trial court initially ruled that the bishops must hand over the emails and other documents. The bishops then requested emergency protection from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which last month granted temporary protection and ordered additional briefs to be submitted by June 25.

The July 15 decision permanently blocks the order for the bishops to hand over the documents.

In his concurring opinion, Circuit Judge James Ho stressed the importance of religious liberty.

“The First Amendment expressly guarantees the free exercise of religion—including the right of the Bishops to express their profound objection to the moral tragedy of abortion, by offering free burial services for fetal remains,” he said. “By contrast, nothing in the text or original understanding of the Constitution prevents a state from requiring the proper burial of fetal remains.”

The Texas bishops have emphasized the importance of being able to deliberate privately and freely.

“Children are not disposable,” said Bishop Edward J. Burns from the Diocese of Dallas, comparing the lawsuit to the policy of separating undocumented children from their parents at the U.S. border.

“We believe that life is sacred from the moment of conception. We also believe that we have a right to discuss in private how to address this issue and uphold the dignity of every human life, and that while upholding the sacredness of life may seem at odds with some people, our religious liberties and religious rights should not be eroded.”

 

As study claims benefits to porn, atheist author raises questions on methodology

Washington D.C., Jul 14, 2018 / 04:09 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A study has claimed porn as necessary to men’s health, but author of Your Brain on Porn and self-proclaimed atheist Gary Wilson said the statistical system used in many of these surveys is inaccurate.

“The abstract tells you what is completely crazy: if you are not using porn it is having a negative effect in your life,” he told CNA. However, the same studies claim “that more porn-use leads to greater positive and greater negative effects.”

“How can that be?” he asked. “Is every study published in the last 25 years wrong or is there something wrong with the PCES?”

Wilson dissected the errors of the Porn Consumption Effect Scale (PCES) – a self-perceived measurement of 47 questions used to study the health effects of pornography. This includes a study conducted in the July edition of Psychology of Men and Masculinity, a peer-reviewed academic journal published by the American Psychological Association.

Titled “Self-perceived effects of pornography consumption among heterosexual men,” the study asked men in countries like the U.S. and Australia to survey the perceived effects of porn in their life. The study used the smaller version of the PCES with 14 question.

It analyzed the positive and negative effects porn has on sex life, attitudes towards sex, views on the opposite gender, sexual knowledge, and overall life. The survey also analyzed a participant’s religious background and level of religiosity.

The study concluded that a higher rate of use in pornography and masturbation to a more positive lifestyle and that negative results are more often tied to the infrequent and religious porn-users. It determined that religiosity did not affect the users’ quantity, but it did result in fewer perceived positive effects.

The PCES is 47-item questionnaire first used by Gert Hald and Neil Malamuth in 2008. Each question is organized into positive or negative categories and measured by the impact of the result on a Likert Scale of 1-7, with one being the least stimulating.

Wilson began fighting against porn after men in 2006 expressed concern on his wife's blog about pornography’s effects, including erectile dysfunction.

He said the PCES has repetitively demonstrated that greater pornography leads to more positive results while, at the same time, showing that more porn leads to more negative results. It contradicts itself and numerous other studies, he said, because men report on a decrease of sexual and relational satisfaction.

“When you go to the 55 studies on sexual and relationship satisfaction….all the ones on males say more porn use leads to poorer relationship and sexual satisfaction.”

Having previously been a pathology and physiology professor, Wilson said the test does not take into the account the biological components of addiction. Rather, it follows a biased view of religion and porn from Joshua Grubbs.

A teacher at Bowling Green State University, Grubbs created the Perceived Pornography Addiction Questionnaire, which religious people tend to score higher on because a majority of the questions involve shame. The survey sought to prove that the addictive aspects of pornography are not results of the substance, but shame and guilt.

However, Wilson said, “it’s just a biological effect.” He said the negative effects of pornography become more noticeable two to three weeks out from the last session. Because religious porn-users often try to stop looking at porn, he said, the effects are more apparent than regular users who have not tried to take a break.

“When you remove the addictive substance, food or drug, the brain starts to change and the level of changing it actually sprouts more connections that occur about two weeks out from your last use…[And] it makes the cravings greater and it also leads to higher levels of binging.”

Wilson also highlighted two areas of the PCES that lead to a less accurate study: self-perception mixed with false equivalencies and an irrelevantly determined categories of positive or negative.

The PCES determines the substance of each question to be equivalent when they are not equal, he said, noting how “learning about anal sex” does not balance the negative “problems in your sex life.”  

“You can’t take the average of a one to seven over on the good side and a one to seven over on the so-called negative side, and then say they got higher on this side. They are not equivalent.”

The manner by which the questions were organized into positive and negative also appears to be arbitrary, he said, noting the researchers made assumptions they did not validate.

“If you look at their current study they have 2.62 on the positive effect of life in general. …But just step back a little bit, what is the highest you can get on that? Seven that is the highest average. So what does a 2.62 even mean?”

In an example from the questionnaire, the survey ranked “Has made you less sexually liberal” a negative question and “Has made you experiment more in your sex life” a positive question, but Wilson expressed doubt that everyone would agree with either of the determined charges.  

Wilson said the questionnaire mathematically lean towards a positive result because the survey includes a greater quantity of positive questions.

“In other words, more questions that show a positive effect of porn than a negative effect of porn. So it’s actually mathematically leaning that way and you don’t have any counters to sexual knowledge.”

Psychologist John Johnson referred to PCES as a “psychometric nightmare,” and expressed doubt on survey’s accuracy.

"If I had been a reviewer on this manuscript, I would have probably rejected it on the basis of inadequate statistical methodology as well as various conceptual problems...It is impossible, given the nature of the data, to draw firm conclusions.”

Commentary: Catholic media, and the truth that sets us free

Denver, Colo., Jul 13, 2018 / 05:18 pm (CNA).- This week at CNA, we published an article about a bishop under investigation in India after a religious sister accused him of rape. The story is still developing, facts are not yet clear, and, of course, the bishop deserves the benefit of due process. CNA’s article explained those things.

But after the story was published, I received notes and messages from some readers, asking why we had published the story. Some said that it was scandalous to write the story before the allegations were proven. Or that we were causing mistrust. Or that articles like that one might cause people to lose their faith.

Those criticisms are nothing new. In fact, I hear them from some readers every time we publish a story about an allegation of sexual abuse, financial mismanagement, doctrinal infidelity, or some other negative charge against Church leaders.

I understand why readers have those concerns. And I think they deserve a reasonable response. Why would Catholic journalists- in fact, a Catholic news agency- publish negative stories about the Church?

Here’s why:

As Catholic journalists, our job is to do more than simply write about the Church. As Catholic journalists, our job is to report about the Church and the world as Catholics. This means that we presuppose that the Church’s doctrinal claims are true. Our coverage aims to write about the world from a perspective that takes Catholic teaching seriously, and tries to recognize the way in which grace is operative and evident in the world.

But it is not our job to be public relations agents for the Church. It is our job to look for the truth, and to report it. Sometimes the truth about the Church and her members is discouraging, or ugly, or scandalous. But we can’t ignore that. In fact, as Catholic journalists, we need to be especially zealous for the truth, because we know that the truth will set us free.

As Catholic journalists, we believe in sin, and we believe in redemption. We that God’s grace is real. We know his mercy can be transformative. We know that every person is made for holiness, and that God’s grace can make each one of us holy. But we know that holiness is rooted in mercy. And mercy depends on repentance. And repentance depends on acknowledging the truth about ourselves.

If we ignore, hide, or spin the ugly truth, it won’t go away on its own. Sin, like mold, festers in the darkness. Sunlight is a disinfectant. By bringing the truth into the light, we hope that the Church will acknowledge the places where sin has infected the Body of Christ- that Catholics will repent when necessary, that Church leaders will reform structures and institutions when necessary, and that God’s grace will make each one of us holy.

Our job is to inform, to inspire, to encourage, and to elucidate. I hope that our work helps Catholics to think, see, and act in the world as Catholics. St. Paul tells believers to be “transformed by the renewal of your minds.” I hope our work helps minds to be renewed, and hearts to be transformed.

But all of that depends on telling the truth. The Christian life can never be based on falsehoods, lies, or PR "spin."

Satan, the father of lies, seeks to confuse us, to hide what's real, to convince us that true is false and false is true.

Catholic journalists need to tell the truth about the great things happening in the Church- the ways in which the Holy Spirit is moving - and about the things in need of reform, the places in which the Church must repent.

We also need to tell the truth when the Church is misrepresented, mischaracterized, or misunderstood.

When we know the truth, we know where we stand before God. We know what we must do to become holy. We know the good that fellow believers are doing, and we learn that we can imitate them. When we know the truth, we also know when we should ask for forgiveness, and when we should reform ourselves.

To be “iron sharpening iron,” we must see the places where we have grown dull or rusty.

The sexual abuse crisis in the Church is a scandal. It is heartbreaking and infuriating. And most people know that if the media had not asked questions, and uncovered the places where Church leaders had acted negligently, the Church in the U.S. might not have begun the long process of reform. We’re still in the midst of that process, and so we need to continue asking questions.

Heterodoxy is also a scandal. So is pastoral negligence. We need to ask about those things, precisely because we believe what the Church teaches, and because we believe that God’s grace is real.

But our mission is also to tell the stories of God’s redemption, of his generosity, of his grace. We love to tell the stories of new apostolic projects, of bold and creative disciples of Jesus, of the New Evangelization in action. We love to proclaim the greatness of the Lord. That’s also part of telling the truth.  But to do that with any credibility- to be believed- our readers deserve to know that we won’t be compromised. That we’re a free press. That we are servants of the truth, and that we’ll follow it, wherever it leads.

Wherever the truth leads, we know that in Jesus Christ, it leads to our freedom.

 

JD Flynn is editor-in-chief of CNA. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Catholic News Agency.

Priest says new degree in Church administration builds servant-leaders

Washington D.C., Jul 13, 2018 / 04:17 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Seminaries will train priests in theology and philosophy, but how does priestly formation in the U.S. handle the business side of parishes?

Father Justin Fulton, a recent graduate in Ecclesial Administration and Management at Catholic University’s Busch School of Business, said this program develops management skills for leadership.

“It’s given me the nuts and bolts way of being a servant leader in the parish,” said Father Fulton, who is the assistant pastor of St. Teresa’s Parish in Lincoln, Neb.

A priest is “a steward of God’s mysteries and… a steward of the Church’s resources,” he told CNA. “I think this program helps quantify in ways that weren’t afforded in the seminary.”

The Busch School graduated its first class in this pastoral leadership program last week, with nearly 20 priests earning master's degrees.

The year-long program is worth 30-credits and consists of mostly online courses, as well as a week of intensive classes in August in Washington D.C. The courses review parish finances, human resource management, and strategic planning.

Father Fulton, who is also preparing to be the assistant director for Catholic Social Services in Southern Nebraska, said the program helps prevent issues such as financial dishonesty and burned-out priests.

“Within a year or two or three of being ordained, [priests] are basically mayors of a city. They become pastors of parishes with 3,000, 5,000 families,” he said. This degree will help “guys get some core competencies and relieve some of the stresses of parish life.”

He said the program will give priests the tools to lead a parish to tackle collectively the same goals – “education of kids, salvation of souls, serving in the community, serving in the parish.”

“This program helps give you the tools to effectively present a mission and a vision to … work together, to get input from all of those different stake holders, and ultimately build a family united under the same umbrella looking for the same goal.”

Although most of the classes are taken online, Father Fulton said the degree still builds a strong camaraderie among the classmates, which is comprised of priests from across the U.S.  

“It kind of forms friendship … the guys that you studied with are designed to be there with each other, throughout the priesthood, to bounce ideas off of and be co-workers in the vineyard of the Lord.”

Another graduate of the program, Father Carl Beekman, who is the pastor of the Church of St Mary in Sycamore, Ill., said most priests do not have training in the administrative aspect of parish life.

“I think there is an assumption in the Church that you know exactly what you are getting into both administratively and spiritually, but, as we see, most do not know what they are really assuming in the office,” he told CNA.

“The program is very practical. It works from anywhere of crisis management to fundraising,” he said. “I had been praying for a program like this most of my 18 years of priesthood, and before.”

The curriculum was developed as a combined effort by Catholic University schools of Theology and Religious Studies, Canon Law, and Architecture and Planning.

The program is endorsed by numerous U.S. bishops, including Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, and Bishop James Checchio of Metuchen.

According to Catholic University of America, Cardinal Wuerl said the program is “a welcome resource to guide pastor and their finance councils through a planning and budgeting cycle with an eye to good consultation, collaboration, and communication."

Kansas ministry brings Adoration Under the Stars

Wichita, Kan., Jul 13, 2018 / 03:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A Kansas-based ministry led more than a thousand people in Eucharistic adoration last week, allowing Catholics and non-Catholics to worship the Creator among the stars.

Wichita Adore Ministries hosted “Adoration Under the Stars” July 5 at the cemetery outside St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Ost, fewer than 30 miles northwest of Wichita.

Jesse Elpers, president of WAM, said the event is a simple yet profound encounter with God.

The event ties “together the creation of God with he who created it on an altar in the middle of nowhere underneath a starlit sky,” he told CNA. “[It] has a beautiful simplicity to it.”

“If nothing else, in such a serene place like that, just to be face to face with your Lord … it’s a beautiful thing.”

An estimated 1,300 people, including 24 priests, attended the event, which also included confession and music.

Elpers said confession is one of the most important aspects of the event. More than 500 people received absolution at the event last year.

Father Dan Duling, pastor of St Joseph's, has been at the church for the past two years. The event is important, he said, because it teaches young people the value of adoration and emphasizes the glory of God in all creation.

It’s “teaching our young people about adoration and giving them an environment [in which] they can pray and adore Jesus,” he told CNA. “I think the important thing for the people is knowing God’s presence out there in his creation and everything around us.”

The event began six years ago with just over 60 attendees and was one of the first ministries of WAM. The organization is a non-profit solely run on volunteer time.

Last year, WAM handled more than 100 events, including parish adoration and diocesan conferences. The company will also lend out production equipment to parishes to put together adoration events themselves.

Elpers said the non-profit’s mission is to lead people to encounter Christ, promoting conversion and personal engagement with the loving creator.    

“The ultimate goal of every effort we do, both in adoration events and in the production ministry, is to give each soul a chance at an encounter with Christ” he said, using adoration to bring people “face to face with the heart of the one who made [them], the heart of the one who longs for them.”

Catholic Charities Hawai'i to build housing for low-income seniors

Honolulu, Hawaii, Jul 13, 2018 / 12:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Catholic Charities Housing Development Corporation (CCHDC) recently purchased several acres of land in Kahului on the island of Maui in order to build a rental housing complex for low-income senior citizens.

They closed the deal with Alexander and Baldwin, a Hawaiian real estate company, June 27. Catholic Charities Hawai'i received 3.86 acres, but no other terms were revealed.

“We are pleased to have played a role in helping Catholic Charities Hawaii to bring more affordable housing to Maui, in particular for Maui’s seniors, who are very important to A&B,” said A&B chief real estate officer Lance Parker, as quoted in a July 10 Maui News article. “We are confident that Catholic Charities understands the needs of this special group and will provide housing that they all can truly call home.”

Called the “Kahului Lani senior affordable rental project,” the complex will have over 160 units accompanied by 260 parking stalls. The first of two building phases, it will be funded by low- income housing state and federal tax credits and a multi-family bond.

The second phase includes an 83-unit, six story complex, along with a two-story multipurpose building for Catholic Charities management offices. Construction will begin at the end of this year, and it is projected to be completed in 2020. Costs will total nearly $48 million.

Seniors ages 55 and up who “earn 60 percent or less of the county’s area median income,” according to a July 9 Pacific Business News article, are eligible to stay in the complex. The project will provide “an affordable permanent living option, offering complementary amenities” for seniors, said the Maui News.

“We are excited that this land purchase will allow us to move ahead in the development of this important facility,” CCHDC President Rick Stack said in a statement.

House committee moves to protect religious adoption agencies

Washington D.C., Jul 12, 2018 / 04:45 pm (CNA).- The House Appropriations Committee moved to protect the conscience rights and religious freedom of faith-based adoption agencies on Wednesday.

The committee adopted an amendment to an upcoming funding bill that would preserve federal funding for agencies who do not want to place children with same-sex couples.

The amendment was introduced by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL). In a statement published on his website, Aderholt said that the opioid epidemic has caused the number of foster care cases to “skyrocket,” and that religious charities are needed to assist with this crisis.

However, “several states and localities across the country are not allowing religious organizations, such as Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian services, to operate child welfare agencies,” due to their refusal to place children with same-sex couples, in accord with their religious beliefs.

Alderholt said this amendment will aim to prevent religious discrimination against those agencies. The amendment mandates that the Department of Health and Human Services withhold 15 percent of federal funds for child welfare services in states that do not allow religiously-based child welfare agencies to operate in accordance with their beliefs.

Faith-based agencies in several states have had to shut down their adoption divisions because they did not want to violate their religious beliefs.

Catholic Charities of the Boston archdiocese ceased handling adoptions in Massachusetts in 2006, a little less than two years after the state legalized same-sex marriage. Catholic Charities in California followed suit later that year. In 2011, Catholic Charities of Illinois also stopped handling adoption cases.

In Illinois, about 2,000 children were displaced when Catholic Charities shut down, forcing other agencies to take on their cases.

The city of Philadelphia is being sued by several foster mothers after it stopped working with Catholic Social Services to place foster children. While Catholic Social Services would not place children with a same-sex couple, no same-sex couple ever made a complaint about the agency before its relationship with the city was severed.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) accused Republicans of pushing a “bigoted, anti-LGBTQ agenda” that could result in children being without homes.

In a statement released July 11, she pledged to fight the “disgusting, deeply immoral and profoundly offensive effort,” and said there was “no place for bigotry.”

This, says Heritage Foundation Research Assistant Melanie Israel, is falsehood.

"The other side is falsely saying that this prevents LGBT couples from adopting. That's not true," said Israel. "They are still welcome to foster and adopt from a plethora of agencies, in particular the state-run agencies, and even some faith-based agencies. Not all faith-based agencies take issue with placing children outside of a home with a married mom and dad."

Faith-based agencies can play a supportive role for a child’s birth-mother as well, said Israel. These women, and families that are seeking to foster and adopt, “deserve the chance to be able to work with an agency that’s going to share their faith, and their values.”

“For many birth-moms, the decision to give a child up for adoption, it's a very loving decision, it's a very brave decision, but it's also very scary,” she told CNA.

A faith-based agency could provide assistance to her spiritual needs in addition to anything else that would arise during the adoption process, and could provide assurance that the child would go to a family with a similar set of values, Israel added.

 

Funeral Mass scheduled for Monterey bishop

Monterey, Calif., Jul 12, 2018 / 10:15 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A funeral Mass will be celebrated July 19 for Bishop Richard John Garcia, the late Bishop of Monterey, California, who died July 11 from complications related to Alzheimer’s disease. Garcia was 71.

Garcia was ordained a priest in 1973 in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, was a seminary professor and directed Hispanic ministry, and, in 1998, became an auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of Sacramento. The bishop was appointed to lead the coastal California Diocese of Monterey in 2006.

He was a board member of Catholic Relief Services and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, and involved in several committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in April.

His episcopal motto was “En El Vivimos”- “In Him We Live.”  

In a 2017 pastoral letter, Garcia encouraged Eucharistic adoration in the parishes of his diocese, writing that “The Eucharist is a multifaceted, precious jewel in the Sacramental Life of our Church. We cherish and reverence this celebration of our salvation — a perpetual memorial of Christ’s Death and Resurrection.”

In 2007, he wrote “In my life...I have encountered God's ‘grace upon grace’ even though I did not always fully comprehend or appreciate God's never being far from me.”

In Minnesota, Catholic Charities sues near-bankrupt diocese

St. Cloud, Minn., Jul 12, 2018 / 06:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The fate of a children’s home is the subject of a lawsuit against the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minn., by the diocese’s Catholic Charities affiliate, which fears the diocese’s planned bankruptcy could disrupt services at the facility.
 
“We continue to support the mission of Catholic Charities, and we know they continue to support the mission and ministries of the diocese,” Joseph Towalski, director of the Office of Communications at the Diocese of St. Cloud, told CNA July 11. “We believe the complaint will be properly resolved through the judicial process.”
 
Towalski said the complaint is under review by legal counsel and the diocese would not comment on it at this time.
 
After 74 claims related to clergy sex abuse were made, the diocese made a Feb. 28 announcement that it would seek bankruptcy protection, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports.
 
The complaint concerns ownership of St. Cloud Children’s Home and surrounding properties. The children’s home facilities include several cottages, classrooms, a chapel, an administrative building, a heating plant and grounds improvements including sidewalks, fences and paved parking.
 
Catholic Charities’ complaint asks the diocese to transfer ownership of the facility and surrounding area to the charity.
 
“This is an unusual position we find ourselves in,” Steve Pareja, the Catholic Charities affiliate’s executive director, said July 2.
 
“While we work closely with the diocese, we are in fact a separately governed and
separately run organization. Our separateness comes with obligations – legally and morally – to protect the financial health and sustainability of Catholic Charities and to be responsible stewards of the assets our donors have entrusted to us.”
 
The lawsuit filing reflected those responsibilities, according to Pareja.
 
Beginning in 2014, diocesan officers had committed to transfer to Catholic Charities the St. Cloud Children’s Home and surrounding property. Relying on that commitment, Catholic Charities said, it had incurred “significant debt” to build a new 16-unit residential treatment facility, debt secured by assets which could be used for other purposes.
 
Pareja said the issue had been under “active discussion” for almost four years and the diocese’s bankruptcy announcement gave new urgency to resolving the situation.
 
“If this issue is to be settled, it is on us to move a resolution forward and to do so
with the assistance of the court,” he said.
 
Catholic Charities stopped providing residential treatment services at the facility in May 2017. However, it provides youth behavior health services in day-treatment programs at the location. It aims to continue these services amid the diocese’s bankruptcy filing.
 
The Catholic Charities affiliate describes itself as “a nonprofit organization that advances the charitable and social mission of the Diocese of St. Cloud.” The diocesan chancellor, Jane Marrin, is listed on its website as a 2018 board member.
 
The charity’s executive director addressed relations with the diocese and the context of the lawsuit amid other legal claims on the diocese.
 
“This is not an attack on the diocese or a break in our support for its mission,” Pareja said. “We think the diocese is as interested in resolving this matter as we are, but its ability to act is constrained by the pending Chapter 11 filing.”
 
Pareja explicitly rejected any characterization of the lawsuit as a legal tactic to shelter diocesan or Church-related assets in anticipation of bankruptcy hearings.
 
“(W)e are moving independently and in good faith to carry out our fiduciary duties to Catholic Charities and our supporters,” he said. “I want to emphasize this last point in the strongest possible terms: We support the victims of sexual abuse and their efforts to seek justice. We also support the diocese in its efforts to find a way forward that cares for these victims and allows it to continue its ministry to our communities.”
 
Catholic Charities of St. Cloud serves 54,000 people across 16 counties with services including housing, mental health services and assistance for children and families. CNA contacted the charity but did not receive additional comment by deadline.
 
St. Cloud was the fourth diocese in Minnesota to declare bankruptcy after the passage of the Minnesota Child Victims Act in 2013, which lifted the civil statute of limitations for child abuse allegations until May 2016. The act gave alleged victims three years in which to file claims for abuse alleged to have occurred decades ago.
 
During the three-year window, more than six hundred claims were filed against Catholic dioceses in Minnesota.

Do views on abortion align with party platforms? Not always, polls say

Washington D.C., Jul 12, 2018 / 12:00 am (CNA).- Abortion in the United States is usually thought of as a deeply partisan issue. The majority of Republicans in Congress support restrictions on abortion, and the Democratic Party has included support and public funding for abortion in its most recent official party platform.

Outside the beltway, however, viewpoints about abortion don’t divide neatly among party lines.

Some recent polls show broad support for some abortion rights among Republicans, and another suggests that a noteworthy number of Democrats are in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that cemented abortion’s legality in the United States.

A Marist poll released in January reported that 76 percent of Americans favor some restrictions on abortion, including 60 percent of those who call themselves pro-choice. The same poll found that more than 60 percent of Democrats, and more than 75 percent of independents, support placing strict limits on abortion, and less than 25 percent of Democrats said they support the right to abortion throughout the entire course of a pregnancy.

Despite those numbers, a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation suggests that most Americans do not want Roe to be overturned.

The Kaiser poll found that 67 percent of people, slightly more than two-thirds of respondents, said that they were in favor of leaving the decision as-is. These numbers were consistent among men and women--with 65 and 68 percent, respectively, supporting the decision. Notably, 74 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 44 said they were opposed to overturning Roe.  

Within political parties, though, a divide began to emerge. 53 percent of Republicans favored overturning Roe, compared to only 23 percent of independents. Noteworthy, though, is that 16 percent of Democrats seemed to reject their party’s support for abortion by expressing that Roe v. Wade should be overturned.

While 16 percent is certainly not a majority, it is significant. Despite this, only three Democratic members of the House of Representatives--Reps. Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and Collin Peterson (D-MN) voted to ban abortion after 20 weeks gestation this past October.

Lipinski barely survived an intense primary challenge that centered almost entirely on his pro-life views, and initially was not endorsed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee--again, over his opposition to abortion.

Some pro-life activists lamented that Lipiniski did not have his party’s support because of his stance on abortion, and that pro-life Democrats are generally unwelcomed by party leadership.

“The Democratic Party has never been very welcoming to pro-life Democrats,” former Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak, a pro-life Democrat, told Vice News in January “They’re even less warm now, and the relationship has gone south.”

Interestingly Research shows that many Americans are uninformed about what overturning Roe actually means.

In a 2013 Pew Research poll, only 62 percent of respondents were aware that Roe concerned abortion rights--a full 20 percent admitted that they did not know at all what the case was about. Only 44 percent of respondents under the age of 30 said they knew that Roe was about abortion.

Some pro-life activists say that confusion over Roe v. Wade, and unpredictable partisan alignment on the issue, demonstrates that opposition to abortion could transcend traditional partisan divides

“As those of us in the anti-abortion movement work to make abortion both illegal and unthinkable, we know that human rights should never just be another partisan issue,” Rosemary Geraghty, of Rehumanize International told CNA.

Rehumanize International is a non-sectarian, non-partisan organization “dedicated to
creating a culture of peace and life” by opposing violence in all forms, including abortion.

“When thousands of human beings are being legally killed every single day, we need to be willing put politics aside and work with everyone in order to build a culture that truly supports all people faced with unplanned pregnancy and their children,” said Geraghty.