March 8 – International Women’s Day Celebration

Malala Yousafzai – Youngest Recipient in Nobel Prize History – Photo Courtesy of Nobel Prize Website

International Women’s Day is annually held on March 8 to celebrate women’s achievements throughout history and across nations. It is also known as the United Nations (UN) Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.

On March 8, 2018 the Nobel Prize website honored women who have been awarded the Nobel Prize (in various categories). Please use this link to review the video


Vatican confirms canonization of Paul VI set for Late October

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, announced on Tuesday that the Canonization Rite for Blessed Pope Paul VI is set for the end of October. Although a “definite” October date was not included in Parolin’s announcement, he indicated that the service would be held at the close of the Synod of Bishops in October. The Synod of Bishops was established by Pope Paul VI in September 1965.

During his years as Pope from 1963 to 1978, Pope Paul VI steered the Catholic Church through the closing of the Second Vatican Council and the significant ecclesiastical changes that followed.

Pope Paul VI was beatified in 2014 after a first miracle was attributed to him. On February 6, 2018, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints approved the second miracle needed for his canonization. He will be the third Pope canonized by Pope Francis since his election, including St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II in 2014.

Please click here to review article in Crux now.

Mr. Graham Goes to Washington: First Pastor Honored in US Capitol

On Thursday, February 28, 2018, the late Rev. Billy Graham became the first private citizen to lie in repose at the nation’s capitol since Ms. Rosa Parks.  The late evangelist, who became known over the years as “America’s Pastor,” was also the first religious figure to receive this honor.

The public was invited to pay their respects at the Capitol Rotunda through March 1, after which Rev. Graham’s body was returned to Charlotte, North Carolina for a private funeral service on March 2 at the Billy Graham Library.  His plain pine casket was built by inmates at the Louisiana State Prison in Angola.  

Additional details are available in Christianity Today – use this link


Bill spurred by Nassar case concerns Catholic Church

Photo Courtesy of Dave Marvin

A bill is pending in the Michigan Senate, and if passed, it will extend the statute of limitations for sex abuse victims to report the crime or sue their abusers. Olympic gymnast, Jordyn Wieber, who, along with 250 other victims accused Larry Nasser of sexual abuse while he was a sports physician, introduced the legislation.

Currently under Michigan law, people who are sexually abused as children have until their 19th birthday to sue. Under the pending legislation, child victims abused in 1993 or later have until their 48th birthday to sue. Adult assault victims would have thirty years to file a claim from the time of the abuse.

David Maluchnik, a spokesperson for the Michigan Catholic Conference confirmed that the extension of the statute of limitations is “of concern” to the church. Otherwise, the church fully supports the remaining measures in the full bill, including one adding additional people to the list of those who must report suspected cases of child abuse to protective services.

Kimberly Buddin, an attorney with the ACLU of Michigan issued a statement indicating: “There are constitutional implications on the retroactivity on the statute of limitations. This makes illegal an act which was legal when it was committed.  And the Supreme Court has held that increasing statute of limitations retroactively is a violation.”

Click here to review the Crux Now article for additional details.


Chicago’s Cardinal Cupich: Listen to young people about guns

Chicago’s Cardinal Blase J. Cupich visited Springfield on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 to hold a press conference at the Illinois Capitol on the growing problem of gun violence both in Chicago and the nation. Accompanying Cardinal Cupich was Robert Gilligan, representing the Catholic Conference of Illinois.

In his remarks, Cardinal Cupich urged Illinois lawmakers to “listen to young people about guns…the youth of our nation are shaming the adult world into action.”  These words were in reference to the February 14 shooting in Florida that left seventeen high school students dead. Since the shootings, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have been calling for tighter gun control laws.

Several bills are pending in both the Illinois House and Senate that would help address Chicago’s gun-related violence and deaths. Cardinal Cupich remarked: “The carnage we saw in Florida happens nearly every day throughout our state and our nation. I say this as one who has prayed with family members of children lost to gun violence….In the name of those murdered children, elected officials must begin the process of walking away from the moral compromises that doom our society to inaction.”

Cardinal Cupich explained several measures he supports to confront gun violence including closer screening for gun licenses.  He also called lawmakers to “make sure that all students have access to a solid education and that workers receive a fair wage that lifts families out of the cycle of poverty and despair that perpetuates the cycle of violence.”

Click here to review additional details in America Media.

Also available Chicago Catholic’s coverage – click here

Confession: Parish-Person-Priests/Pope Francis “Confessional is a place of forgiveness, not threats.”

Here are two reflections on Confession/Reconciliation:

The first offering is from Fr. Tom Sweetser, a Jesuit Priest, author, and founder/director of the Milwaukee-based Parish Evaluation Project (PEP).  In a recent PEP newsletter, Fr. Tom shared his reflections on the small number of parishioners who came for reconciliation at a suburban church, compared to the large number of people lined up for reconciliation at a parish in downtown Milwaukee. In his post Fr. Tom also offers suggestions to help churches encourage parishioners to avail themselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Click here to review Fr. Tom’s post in the PEP newsletter.

The second reflection is from Pope Francis’ Homily this past Sunday, February 27, 2018 in which he cautioned priests to “be mindful that the confessional is a place where people can find forgiveness and mercy, not threats and condemnation.”

The Pontiff continued “When we priests — in the Lord’s place — hear confessions, we also must have this attitude of goodness like the Lord, who says, ‘Come, let us talk, there is no problem, there is forgiveness,’ and not with a threat from the beginning.”

Click here for additional details in the National Catholic Register.






United States Supreme Court Denies Federal Government’s Petition to end DACA

On February 26, 2018, the U. S. Supreme Court refused to hear and rule on the Federal Government’s petition to overturn a lower court’s decision to keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) in effect.  The Supreme Court order stated: “It is assumed the court of appeals will act expeditiously to decide this case.”

Monday’s high court ruling effectively stops the Trump administration’s plan to end DACA on March 5, 2018.  Under the lower court’s January 9 order, the Department of Homeland Security must continue to accept renewal applications from approximately 780,000 young people currently enrolled in DACA.  If Congress moves ahead to either extend DACA, or provides an alternative path to citizenship for current enrollees, the pending lower court case will probably be dismissed.

Click here to review a report on the decision filed by NBC.


Capitol Police Arrest Scores of Catholic Leaders During National Day of Action for Dreamers

At least forty Catholics were arrested on Tuesday, February 27, 2018, following a peaceful act of civil disobedience at the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill. The individuals arrested, the majority of whom are members of religious communities, were in the nation’s capitol to participate in the National Catholic Day of Action for Dreamers.

Capitol police made the arrests as the group was reciting the Rosary and singing gospel hymns. Fr. Tom Reese, one of the forty people arrested, stated in his column prior to the demonstration “I plan to get arrested Tuesday” while taking part in an act of civil disobedience at the Capitol.

During a press conference before the event, Sister JoAnn Persch, a member of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, said: “These young Dreamers are a gift to our country and I stand with them in this moment of truth. You can’t call yourself a person of faith and not act.” Sr. JoAnn and her colleague, Sr. Pat Murphy, are Chicago based and long-term activists for immigrant justice and reform.

Click here to review complete article in Think Catholic.

Click here for additional coverage in the National Catholic Reporter.


Catholic students join Florida school walkouts for gun reform

Following last week’s school campus shooting in Parkland, Florida resulting in the deaths of seventeen people, high school students in Florida are now demanding positive action by the government on the issue of gun law reform. On Wednesday, February 21, walkouts were held at a dozen Florida high schools. Thousands of students left their classes to raise awareness of the need for tougher gun laws in the United States.

Students from St. Thomas Aquinas in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida held a “solidarity” walkout at noon on Wednesday that included a prayer service for the people who lost their lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Alexa Hui, Student Body President, addressed her fellow students during the service stating: “I really, truly believe that this is our generation and that we can control what happens. And if we care about this, and we want to turn this into something, we can.” In a later interview with the National Catholic Reporter, Ms. Hui added: “As a Catholic school we have that extra responsibility almost to stand up for all life and protect all life.

Students from Majory Stoneman Douglas High School are currently organizing a national rally to push for Congressional action on gun control and mental health.  The “March for Our Lives” is scheduled in Washington, D.C. on March 24, 2018.

Click here to read the complete National Catholic Reporter article.


FEMA Shift Opens Door to Disaster Funds for Religious Groups

Earlier this year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reversed its long-standing policy of excluding religious organizations and houses of worship from applying for federal aid following natural disasters.

This policy reversal followed a major First Amendment decision by the U. S. Supreme Court in favor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Missouri. Trinity filed the lawsuit against the State of Missouri because it was excluded from a state program that reimburses the cost of rubberizing the surface of playgrounds.

On June 26, 2017, the Supreme Court sided with Trinity ruling that “excluding churches from state programs for which other charitable groups are eligible is a violation of the Constitution’s protection of the free exercise of religion.“

In addition, houses of worship in Texas and Florida, seeking federal aid to repair damages caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, also filed lawsuits against FEMA’s.  These two disasters prompted several members of Congress, as well as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, to push for legislative changes allowing disaster relief funds for houses of worship.  Congress passed the Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act on February 9 and it was later signed into law, paving the way for houses of worship to apply for federal disaster relief.

Review further details in Crux