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Posted on 05/26/2017 12:32 PM (CNA Daily News)
Vatican City, May 26, 2017 / 04:32 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Friday the Vatican announced that Bishop Angelo de Donatis had been chosen by Pope Francis as the new Vicar of Rome, who will oversee the administrative needs of the Roman diocese, including its clergy.
In addition to naming him Vicar of Rome, Francis also named Donatis an archbishop, according to the May 26 Vatican communique on the announcement.
He will be taking over for Cardinal Agostino Vallini, who has held the position since 2008, under Benedict XVI. Currently also a member of the Council for the Economy established by Pope Francis in 2014, Vallini previously served as Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura from 2004 until his appointment as Vicar of Rome.
Bishop Donatis was born in Casarano, in the Nardo-Gallipoli province of Italy, in 1954 and served as a priest for the diocese until the early 1980s, when he was incardinated as a priest in Rome.
Well known and loved among Romans and expats alike, Donatis was appointed an auxiliary bishop for Rome by Pope Francis in 2015.
While the Pope is the official Bishop of Rome, the Cardinal Vicar is hand-picked by the Pope after consulting with priests, bishops and cardinals who serve in and around Rome, and is charged with the spiritual administration of the diocese.
According to canon law, every Catholic diocese must have at least one or more vicar generals, however, the Vicar of Rome serves more as a “de facto” bishop due to the Pope’s heavy workload with his various responsibilities and commitments.
The man who holds the position also serves as the Archpriest for the papal Basilica of St. John Lateran.
A decree instituted by Pope Paul IV in 1558 also holds that the Vicar of Rome must be a cardinal. Since Pope Francis has already named him as an archbishop, it's likely Donatis could be added to the list of 5 prelates who will get a red hat during the June 28 consistory.
There is also a Vicar General for the Vatican City State, who is the Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica and is charged with looking after the spiritual needs of the small country. This position is currently held by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, who was tapped for the role by Benedict XVI in 2005.
Donatis, after working in various parishes throughout Rome, was in 1990 named Director of the Office of the Clergy for the Diocese of Rome, a position he held until 1996. He was then named as Spiritual Director at the Pontifical Roman Seminary.
Since 2003 he has served as the parish priest for St. Mark the Evangelist parish, located near Rome’s famous Piazza Venezia, and was also named the Assistant for the diocese of Rome’s National Association for the Family of Clergy.
In 2014 Pope Francis selected Donatis to preach the Lenten spiritual exercises for the Roman Curia during their weeklong retreat in Ariccia. A year later he was named auxiliary bishop.
After the conclusion of their spiritual exercises in 2014, Pope Francis thanked Donatis for accompanying the Curia and for planting “the seed of the Word of God” in their hearts.
“The Lord will seed the rain and that seed will grow and bear fruit,” he said, but added, “we must also thank the sower, no? Because you were the sower and you know how to do it!”
Donatis was ordained a bishop by Pope Francis himself, who during the liturgy connected the ordination to the opening of the Jubilee of Mercy, which at the time was still a month away.
“At the beginning of the year of Mercy I ask you as a brother to be merciful,” Francis said, adding that “the world needs mercy so much. Teach priests and seminarians the path of mercy; with words, but also with your attitude.”
“The mercy of the Father which is always placed in the heart, never hurts anyone,” he said, adding that “this is what I wish for you: mercy.”
Donatis chose as his episcopal motto the phrase: “Nihil Caritate dulcius,” meaning “Nothing is sweeter than love.”
His coat of arms includes a shield bearing the image of the lion of St. Mark the Evangelist at the top right, named for the parish he has led since 2003, on top of the color red, symbolizing both blood and love.
Below the shield is a pomegranate – the fruit that in the Bible is a symbol of the blood poured out by Christ and the martyrs. The background of the image is silver in reference to the purity and transparency of the Virgin Mary, to whom Donatis entrusted his episcopal ministry.
Posted on 05/26/2017 11:33 AM (CNA Daily News)
Baton Rouge, La., May 26, 2017 / 03:33 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The numbers are staggering. Each year in the U.S. alone, some 300,000 minors are victims of sex trafficking.
In Louisiana, state estimates indicate that about 40 percent of juvenile victims are being trafficked by their primary care giver: a mother, father, foster parent, uncle, a mother’s boyfriend.
Father Jeff Bayhi has heard unspeakable stories of sex trafficking victims over the years.
That’s why the pastor of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Zachary, La. has worked to open Metanoia Home, a Baton Rouge-area shelter for sixteen women under age 21.
Caring for the victims are four Hospitaler Sisters of Mercy from India, Nigeria, the Philippines and Madagascar.
“They’re not there as social workers or therapists,” but as mother figures, Fr Bayhi said. “They’re going to be there, and be a safe place for these children to be. To be loved, to be nurtured, to be made felt special again in the sight of God.”
The project is modeled after the initiatives of Sister Eugenia Bonetti. The Milan-based Consolata Missionary sister heads the Slaves No More association. She has trained responders to help trafficking victims. Her former students work around the world.
“We have worked with her a great deal,” Fr. Bayhi said of Sr. Bonetti. “She has been here and addressed our legislature. She’s our model.”
Given the grim reality of human trafficking, thousands more people are needed to follow that model.
Trafficking problems in Louisiana are often attributed to its 15 million annual tourists who visit the state, especially New Orleans. The interstate highway that passes through Southern Louisiana runs across the country from Florida to California.
The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services reported that more than 350 trafficking victims were found in 2015, and nearly 450 in 2016. Half of the victims were children, the CBS affiliate WAFB reports.
Young victims come from families that are not intact and have little supervision. Those raised by someone with a drug or alcohol addiction face some of the greatest risks.
Even so, traffickers target girls and women from all backgrounds.
“We have kids being seduced out of our high schools,” Fr. Bayhi said, citing the case of a 17-year-old senior at a white suburban high school who trafficked two 13-year-old freshman girls.
He said traffickers can target their victims through convincing them to engage in “sexting,” sending sexually explicit photos via phone.
“After that stuff gets out, these people own you,” he said. Other forms of blackmail can involve drugging the victim and filming her in a compromising act.
What do trafficking victims need?
“They need a safe place to be made human again,” said Fr. Bayhi. “When you’re 15 years old, and you’ve performed 3,000 sexual favors, you’re no longer a person, you’re nothing more than a receptacle in your own eyes.”
“Our response is the religious sisters who are there,” he said. “These nuns are the heroes. How do you pay people in eight hour shifts to convince a 15-year-old who has been abused that they really love them? You can’t do it. That’s why the nuns are just so incredibly important to this.”
The nuns of Metanoia Home will have the assistance of other professional volunteers including physicians, nurses, social workers and educators to complement their own expertise in helping victims.
“We need to get them stable, we need to get them to believe in themselves. We need to reconnect these children with God,” Fr. Bayhi said, noting that the house is open to anyone regardless of religion.
The potential beneficiaries could have very different experiences. Recovery for a 17-year-old victim who was trafficked for three months will be much different than for a 14-year-old who has suffered for four years in captivity.
“We will want the children to finally have someone in their life that we trust,” said the priest. Metanoia Home aims to help victims recover from their experience and re-integrate into society.
Increasing efforts are being made to work against human trafficking in Louisiana. Anti-trafficking programs in the state include special training for police officers to help them recognize victims of sex traffickers, rather than treat them as criminals. Fr. Bayhi praised the collaborative work between legislators, the governor, law enforcement, members of the judiciary and state agencies.
In January a delegation of Louisiana anti-trafficking leaders attended Pope Francis’ Wednesday general audience, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards led the delegation, which included Fr. Bayhi.
“It’s really a tragic circumstance and we have to really do much better in Louisiana and around the country,” Gov. Edwards told Vatican Radio in January.
Father Bayhi told CNA that the delegation had a very brief moment with Pope Francis, who thanked them and encouraged them to continue. The delegation spent considerable time with Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, the chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, whom Fr. Bayhi described as the Pope’s anti-trafficking point man.
The priest commented on inhuman trends in society that he sees as creating a breeding ground for trafficking.
“The sad fact is, there’s a market,” he said. Older men seek out little girls or boys as young as 12.
“One of the things I think you have to understand: human trafficking is not a problem. Human trafficking is a symptom,” he added. “We live in a society where we determine who has the right to be born. We live in a society where we get to decide who dies and when, with our elderly. And now there’s some recent things about Planned Parenthood, we’re talking about selling baby parts and making $52,000/week on baby parts.”
“For God’s sake, we have so devalued the dignity of human life that by and large as a society we see human life as a matter of profit, pleasure or possession,” he said. “Human life has become a commodity. Human trafficking is one more aspect of that.”
In January Fr. Bayhi told Vatican Radio that internet pornography is not a victimless crime.
“Someone is there making those kids do that stuff,” he said. “They are not there voluntarily and you’re paying the money that makes it worthwhile to kidnap these kids and force them into that. You may have never picked up one of these children on a roadside but you make that possible.”
The priest suggested to CNA that the Church and the U.S. bishops’ conference could engage in more education and outreach efforts to help trafficking victims.
“We need to respond to the needs of these kids,” he said, urging people to recognize the signs of trafficking.
“Someone 35 years-old with four 16-year-olds around him, shopping at Wal-Mart, if they’re hanging on him like he’s the best thing since sliced bread, something’s wrong with that picture. Something’s really wrong,” he said.
A Church response could involve the observance of the Feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, an ex-slave from Sudan. Her feast day coincides with the Feb. 8 International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking.
Fr. Bayhi suggested priests should be taught about human trafficking and how to preach about it. For their part, the U.S. bishops’ conference could dedicate more resources to anti-trafficking work.
As for Louisiana’s Metanoia Home, the nuns moved in on May 20. They are prepared to be mothers to young women in need.
Metanoia Home’s website is http://metanoia-inc.org.
Posted on 05/26/2017 08:42 AM (CNA Daily News)
Washington D.C., May 26, 2017 / 12:42 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Preview footage released recently by the Center for Medical Progress appears to show participants at a national abortion convention casually discussing the skulls, eyeballs and other baby body parts they encounter in abortion procedures.
“An eyeball just fell down into my lap, and that is gross!” says one panelist in the video, to laughter from the crowd.
“When the skull is broken, that’s really sharp!” another says.
The footage also appears to show a person acknowledging, “We certainly do intact D&Es,” a presumed reference to dilation-and-extraction, or partial-birth abortions, which are illegal under federal law.
Planned Parenthood employees also appear in the footage discussing baby organs that are given to biotech firms for money.
“They’re wanting livers,” one abortion provider says. “Sometimes she’ll tell me she wants brain,” another medical director says.
The Center for Medical Progress – an investigative journalism group – released the undercover footage, which it says was collected at the 2014 and 2015 National Abortion Federation conventions.
It’s the latest in a series of videos the group has released. Previous videos have appeared to show employees in the abortion industry discussing the sale of body parts from aborted babies and talking about altering abortion procedures in order to obtain the best “specimens” of baby parts.
Other videos have also appeared to show employees setting abortion quotas at some clinics, and suggesting that they decide how to handle babies born alive after botched abortions based on “who’s in the room” at the time.
The Center for Medical Progress videos have given great momentum to efforts to end state and federal taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, which receives about half a billion dollars in federal funds annually, about 40 percent of its operating budget. While this money is forbidden by law from funding abortions, critics charge that these rules may not always be followed, and that any federal funding frees up other money for abortions.
In January 2017, the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives Select Investigative Panel investigating fetal tissue procurement released its report declaring that there are abuses and possible criminal violations in the area. The procurement of fetal tissue for profit is illegal.
Although a dozen states opened investigations into the organizations involved, they did not find legally admissible evidence of wrongdoing.
Backers of Planned Parenthood have charged that the videos were deceptively edited, a charge Daleiden has strongly contested, releasing the full videos to support his claim.
Daleiden is currently facing criminal charges for filming people without their consent in California. He claims that he is protected as an undercover journalist.
Posted on 05/26/2017 03:27 AM (CNA Daily News)
Bucharest, Romania, May 25, 2017 / 07:27 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Romania’s lower house of parliament has overwhelmingly approved a proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
The Chamber of Deputies passed the measure by a vote of 232-22, with 13 abstentions.
If approved, the amendment would change Paragraph 1 of Article 28 of the Romanian Constitution to say: “The family is founded on the freely consented marriage between one man and one woman, on their equality and on the right and duty of parents to assure the growth, education and training of their children.”
The proposed amendment began with a signature drive, initiated by the Coalition for the Family, which collected 3 million signatures from Romanian citizens in support of the constitutional language.
It has also garnered support from Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical leaders, along with legal groups such as ADF International and the European Center for Law and Justice.
The measure has already been approved by the Romanian Constitutional Court as satisfying all requirements for a constitutional amendment.
It will next go to the Senate. If it is approved there, it will become a referendum to be voted on by the Romanian people.
Romania is not the only country in the region to consider a defense-of-marriage amendment. Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, and Slovakia all define marriage as the union of one man and one woman within their constitutions.
Posted on 05/26/2017 02:00 AM (CNA Daily News)
Pittsburgh, Pa., May 25, 2017 / 06:00 pm (CNA).- On Tuesday, a “Consistent Life Ethic” group was booted from sponsorship of the Pittsburgh March Against War after Facebook complaints against their pro-life stance.
Rehumanize International, previously Life Matters Journal, is a group that opposes all violence against human beings, including abortion, war, euthanasia, torture, capital punishment and human sex trafficking.
They were invited to co-sponsor the Pittsburgh March Against War, set to take place this summer, and were then removed from sponsorship after a vote of the other co-sponsors, following several complaints on the event’s Facebook page.
By Wednesday afternoon, the Facebook page for the March event had been deleted.
The Pittsburgh March Against War was organized by the Pittsburghers in Solidarity Against War, a coalition consisting of several organizations: the Anti-War Committee of the Thomas Merton Center, Veterans for Peace, CAIR Pittsburgh, International Socialist Organization - Pittsburgh, Socialist Alternative, Party for Socialism and Liberation, ANSWER Coalition, WILPF Pittsburgh, the Democratic Socialists of America, and Redneck Revolt.
CNA reached out to all of the co-sponsor groups and the March event’s main e-mail for comment on this story, but did not receive any responses, aside from the Thomas Merton Center, by press time.
Aimee Murphy, Executive Director of Rehumanize International, said that she was first invited by one of the co-sponsors to a meeting about the Pittsburgh March Against War, a grassroots event scheduled to take place July 1 at the Schenley Plaza. Murphy previously hadn’t heard about the March, but wanted her organization to get involved after attending the meeting.
Murphy said she introduced herself, as well as the vision of Rehumanize, at the meeting and handed out her card to multiple people before her organization was added to the sponsors of the event.
“I handed out my card and said yeah, we’re kind of new to this, but check us out. So people in the roundtable had ample opportunity to vet us before they ever added us to the event, and they didn’t,” Murphy told CNA.
Once the group was added to the list of sponsors on the Facebook event, attendees began researching the group and complaining about Rehumanize’s pro-life stance in Facebook comments.
While the event page was deleted Wednesday, Murphy saved screenshots of some of the comments.
“...I can’t and won’t march alongside a group that equates my choices as a person with a uterus and my work as a scientist with war and imperialism. It’s dehumanizing and detrimental to the anti-war and anti-imperialist movement overall…” Abby Cartus wrote in Facebook comments on the event.
“I definitely believe Rehumanize was passed off as an anti-war group,” wrote another commenter, who amended her comment to be “an anti-war group only.”
In a Medium post, Patrick Young said that most people involved in Rehumanize “seem like caring and loving people. I do believe that they genuinely intend to be loving and compassionate in their work. They’ve gone to great lengths to separate themselves from the hateful and aggressive anti-abortion advocates that have been so persistent for decades and train volunteers on what they believe is a compassionate approach.”
Nevertheless, he said, they engage in the “abhorrent” practice of approaching women outside of abortion clinics “to guilt and shame women out of choosing to have an abortion,” and therefore he believes they were rightly removed from co-sponsorship of the anti-war march.
The Thomas Merton Center (TMC), which created the event Facebook page, responded that they were listening to concerns and that many of the groups planning the event only became aware of Rehumanize’s ideology “that stand against our human rights” after the Facebook comments.
On Tuesday night, a democratic vote was held with the co-sponsors of the event on whether or not to remove Rehumanize from sponsorship. Murphy said she was included in the call, and the thread of the conversation was whether or not an anti-abortion group could be allowed to sponsor the anti-war March.
As stated on the event page, before it was deleted: "The votes consist of 8-remove, 1-abstain, 2-absent, and 1-remain. Rehumanize International was removed as a member of the organizing group and sponsor of the Pittsburgh March Against War."
A statement on the Rehumanize International Facebook page reads: "Though we know that this is not meant as a personal slight against us, we are disappointed in the decision to exclude pro-life anti-war organizers as we fear it sends a signal to grassroots pro-peace, pro-life people that they are not welcome in the anti-war movement. [As with any social movement dedicated to the abolition of violence,] in order to end the atrocity of war, we need everyone committed to peace."
Murphy said she was “flabbergasted” that a representative of the TMC voted to "remove" Rehumanize, because Thomas Merton was a Catholic, pro-life Trappist monk who believed in a consistent life ethic.
"It seems a little strange that we are so wildly exercised about the ‘murder’ (and the word is of course correct) of an unborn infant by abortion... and yet accept without a qualm the extermination of millions of helpless and innocent adults... I submit that we ought to fulfill the one without omitting the other," Thomas Merton wrote in a letter to fellow activist Dorothy Day on Dec. 20, 1961.
Antonio Lodico, Executive Director of the TMC, told CNA that the involvement of the center in the March was largely through their anti-war committee, which consists of volunteers. Lodico said the TMC did not cast a vote regarding whether or not to remove Rehumanize because they had not had a chance as an organization to meet and discuss beforehand.
The TMC vote was likely a provincial vote cast by a representative of the volunteer group, but one that is considered binding unless the group changes their vote in the future. CNA asked the TMC to be put in contact with their volunteer anti-war committee but did not receive a response by press time.
Lodico added that while the TMC created the Facebook event for the March, they had given admin access to several of the co-sponsor groups and are unsure which group deleted the event.
“You may have received a notification that the Thomas Merton Center deleted the Pittsburgh March Against War Facebook event page. We did not approve deleting this event. A co-host deleted the event. The groups involved in planning this event are just finding out about this now. We acknowledge the labor that went into the education and conversation on the Facebook page and we regret that this effort was lost,” the TMC said in a Facebook post on their page.
This is not the first time that Rehumanize International has been excluded from sponsoring or organizing marches and protests. According to a press release from the group, “leading up to the Women's March earlier this year, they were summarily ignored despite their support of women's rights and nonviolence (while their sister group New Wave Feminists was accepted, then removed as a partner).”
Murphy noted in the press release that Rehumanize will attend the anti-war march regardless of whether or not they are sponsors.
"We are anti-war for the same reason we are anti-abortion: we believe in the inherent dignity of human beings and therefore, that all violence against them is contrary to that dignity," Murphy said.
"Because those who are bombed, aborted, and killed by other acts of aggression cannot afford for us to cease our holistic, human-centered work, we will march on July 1, even if we are unwanted. We will be there, supporting a message for peace and all life."
Following the deletion of the Facebook event, it is unclear whether the March will continue.