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Cardinal Becciu's lawyer resigns over social media photos

CNA Staff, Sep 29, 2020 / 02:30 pm (CNA).-  

The lawyer representing Cardinal Angelo Becciu has resigned over criticism of his social media activities.

Ivano Iai, who had been handling legal and media matters for the cardinal and his family, announced that he had withdrawn from the case after criticism of pictures he posted on social media.

Iai, apparently a recreational body-builder, posted a series of photographs of himself in revealing swimwear on different social media sites, including Instagram and Twitter. In the photos, Iai appears in seaside settings, and strikes a number of attitudes and poses, including arching backwards across a rock and sporting playfully in the surf.

The attorney's Instagram account has now been set to private.

Iai served as attorney and spokesman for Cardinal Becciu and his family after the cardinal's resignation last week. The lawyer confirmed to CNA Sept. 29 that he had quit the role.

“I gave up the job," Iai said in a statement sent to CNA on Tuesday, saying he was “sorry” that his social media presence had added to the difficulties of the cardinal and his family.

“With great sorrow I communicate that I have renounced the mandate given to me by the Becciu family who honored me with their uncommon trust and affection,” Iai said.

Iai’s resignation comes, according to the lawyer, after mounting criticism and mockery online of his social media presence, including by the tabloid site Dagospia.

The lawyer told Italian news site Adnkronos that images he posted of himself were meant to be “lighthearted” and he “never ever” imagined they would create a problem for his high-profile clients.

“It saddens me to have had to be the cause of further affliction which adds to the unjust sufferings suffered in these days by His Eminence Cardinal Becciu and his family members,” Iai said in his statement to CNA. The lawyer called the Becciu family “examples of uncommon honesty and correctness - and worthy of having the best defense in a matter so very complex.”

Becciu, the former head of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, resigned on Thursday following an unscheduled meeting with Pope Francis in which the pope told the cardinal he had lost his trust and ordered him to step down. The following morning, Italian newspaper L’Espresso published a story accusing Becciu of using his positions in the curia to funnel money to members of his own family.

The cardinal's resignation followed more than a year of reporting by CNA and other news outlets on various financial scandals involving Becciu and the Holy See’s Secretariat of State, where he served as sostituto for seven years, until he was made a cardinal and placed in charge of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in 2018.

Many of those reports stemmed from the Secretariat’s controversial investments, including the purchase of a London property for hundreds of millions of dollars.

Since October, investigators in Vatican City have conducted several raids on different Vatican departments in connection with the London property deal and connected investments. Investigators raided offices at the secretariat and the AIF, the Vatican’s financial watchdog, seizing computers and phones and resulting in the suspension of several members of staff.

After those raids, investigators also raided the home and offices of Msgr. Alberto Perlasca, who worked closely with Becciu at the Secretariat of State.

In June, Vatican authorities arrested Italian businessman Gianluigi Torzi, who helped broker the final sale of the London building.

In July, Italian police served a search and seizure warrant on Raffaele Mincione, an associate of Torzi’s, through whom the Vatican invested hundreds of millions of dollars. The warrant was issued at the request of Vatican prosecutors. Investigators took away cell phones and tablets for examination in relation to the case. Mincione has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and earlier this year filed a lawsuit against the Secretariat of State in a U.K. court, asking a judge to rule he acted in good faith in his dealings with the Vatican.

Iai’s most recent communication on behalf of Cardinal Becciu, released Monday, announced that he had filed complaints on behalf of the Becciu family “for violation of the criminal provisions on slander and aggravated defamation and prohibition of disclosure of office and investigation secrets, [and] cases of corruptive malpractice.”

Iai said that “the illegal leakage of confidential information and documents continuously disclosed by the media in a distorted and disparaging form” had “led to the committing of further crimes and the infringement of the rights of various interested parties.”

Iai did not specify which media were the subject of his complaints, or to what authority he had submitted them.

English Catholic bishops lament attacks on civilians in Cameroon

CNA Staff, Sep 29, 2020 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- Catholic bishops in England appealed Monday for an end to human rights abuses in Cameroon. 

Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton and Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth signed an ecumenical statement issued Sept. 28 denouncing attacks on civilians in the Anglophone region of the majority French-speaking West African state.

“We hear the cry of our sisters and brothers in Cameroon’s Anglophone region, who are facing daily violations of their human dignity. Recent reports of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention and attacks on civilians demand a response from the international community,” the statement said.

English-speakers in Cameroon have accused the government of discrimination since 1961, when the formerly British Southern Cameroons joined French Cameroon to create the Republic of Cameroon.

In 2017, Anglophone leaders declared independence, renaming the territory of Southern Cameroons as the state of Ambazonia. Paul Biya, president of Cameroon since 1982, responded by sending government forces to suppress the secessionist movement. Human rights groups have accused both separatists and the government of human rights abuses.

More than 3,000 people -- including Catholic priests -- have died since the fighting began. According to the UN, there are an estimated 679,000 internally displaced people in Cameroon, and 60,000 Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria.

In February this year, Catholic bishops from around the world urged Biya, Africa’s second longest-serving head of state, to agree to peace talks to end the conflict.

Earlier this month demonstrators took to the streets after Biya announced that regional elections would be held in December. Opposition leaders argued that elections could not be conducted freely given the insecurity in the Anglophone region. 

In the ecumenical statement, also signed by Anglican and Methodist leaders, the two Catholic bishops said: “We call on the UK government to work with other European countries on robust diplomatic action to halt the violence and help bring about a negotiated settlement that protects the rights of all Cameroon’s people.”

“We also express our closeness to the churches that are working with local communities to reject violence and pursue the path of dialogue, and we assure them that they have not been forgotten.”

Cardinal Burke: Biden should not receive Holy Communion

CNA Staff, Sep 29, 2020 / 01:02 pm (CNA).-  

Cardinal Raymond Burke, a canon lawyer and formerly the prefect of the Church’s highest court, has said that Catholic politicians supporting abortion should not receive Holy Communion, including pro-choice Catholic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Biden “is not a Catholic in good standing and he should not approach to receive Holy Communion,” Burke said in an Aug. 31 interview with Thomas McKenna, who as head of an organization called Catholic Action for Faith and Family periodically conducts interviews with the cardinal.

“This is not a political statement, I don’t intend to get involved in recommending any candidate for office, but simply to state that a Catholic may not support abortion in any shape or form because it is one of the most grievous sins against human life, and has always been considered to be intrinsically evil and therefore to in any way support the act is a mortal sin.”

Asked specifically about Biden, Burke said he “has not only been actively supporting procured abortion in our country but has announced publicly in his campaign that he intends to make the practice of procured abortion available to everyone in the widest possible form and to repeal the restrictions on this practice which have been put in place.”

“So, first of all, I would tell him not to approach Holy Communion out of charity toward him, because that would be a sacrilege, and a danger to the salvation of his own soul.

“But also he should not approach to receive Holy Communion because he gives scandal to everyone. Because if someone says ‘well, I’m a devout Catholic’ and at the same time is promoting abortion, it gives the impression to others that it’s acceptable for a Catholic to be in favor of abortion and of course it’s absolutely not acceptable. It never has been it never will be.”

Buke was the Bishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin and the Archbishop of St. Louis before in 2008 he was appointed prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the highest canonical court in the Church. The cardinal was the Signatura’s prefect until 2014 and remains a member of the court.

In 2007, Burke published in the prestigious canonical journal “Periodica” a scholarly article on the admission of Catholics in grave public sin to Holy Communion. The article is regarded by many canon lawyers as the definitive scholarly and technical treatment of the subject.

In the interview, obtained by CNA Tuesday, Burke said it is the historic teaching of the Church that those in a condition of grave sin should not be admitted to Holy Communion, citing St. Paul’s admonition in 1 Corinthians, that anyone who “eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty” and “eats and drinks judgment on himself.”

The cardinal discussed the notion of scandal, saying that “scandal means that you lead others into wrong thinking and wrong acting by your example.”

“If people were perhaps questioning in their mind about abortion, and they see this man who pronounces himself to be a devout and he’s promoting abortion in the strongest possible way, this leads people into error thinking well it must be morally acceptable to commit abortion and so the person then bears responsibility — not only the person who gives the scandal, not only for his own wrong actions in supporting abortion but also for leading others into thinking that abortion is acceptable,” Burke said.

“I can’t imagine that any Catholic wouldn’t know that abortion is a grievous sin, but if they don’t, once they’ve been told, then they either have to cease to support abortion or accept the fact they are not a Catholic in good standing and therefore should not present themselves for Holy Communion,” he added.

Burke explained that when he, as a diocesan bishop, became aware of pro-choice politicians in his dioceses, it was his practice to contact them “to make sure that they understood.”

If, after a conversation about the Church’s teaching on human life, they were “still unwilling to act accordingly then I simply had to tell them ‘you may not present yourselves for Holy communion,’” the cardinal explained.

Burke’s comments drew from canons 915 and 916 of the Code of Canon Law, which explain that a person conscious of grave sin should not approach Holy Communion without first making a sacramental confession, and that Catholics “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.”

Among U.S. bishops, disagreement over the meaning of the canon, and its application to pro-choice Catholic politicians, has been ongoing since John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign.

In 2004, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then head of the Church’s doctrinal office, wrote a memorandum to the U.S. Catholic bishops, explaining the application of canon 915 to the question of pro-choice politicians.

The case of a Catholic politician who is “consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws” would constitute “formal cooperation” in grave sin that is “manifest,” the letter explained.

In such cases, “his pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist,” Ratzinger wrote.

If the individual perseveres in grave sin and still presents himself for Holy Communion, “the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it.”

Shortly after Ratzinger wrote that memo, the U.S. bishops agreed the application of those norms should be decided by individual bishops, rather than by the bishops’ conference, largely under the influence of Theodore McCarrick, then-Archbishop of Washington, who paraphrased the letter, which was not yet publicly available, but did not present it in its entirety to the bishops.

Some bishops have prohibited politicians advocating for “permissive abortion laws” from receiving communion, but others have demurred, or said outright they would not deny such politicians the Eucharist.

Asked by a journalist, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York said in October that he would not deny Biden Holy Communion. Before that, in January 2019, Dolan had said that he would not deny the Eucharist to New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo, who signed into law one of the most permissive abortion laws in the country’s history.

Biden’s own shepherd, Bishop William Malooly, has said in the past that he does not want to “politicize” Holy Communion by denying it to politicians. Washington, D.C.’s ordinary, Archbishop Wilton Gregory, has said that the Eucharist should be denied only as a last resort, and is not on record as ever having done so.

Biden was in October 2019 denied the Eucharist at a South Carolina parish.

“Holy Communion signifies we are one with God, each other and the Church. Our actions should reflect that. Any public figure who advocates for abortion places himself or herself outside of Church teaching,” Fr. Robert Morey, pastor of St. Anthony Catholic Church in the Diocese of Charleston, told CNA after Biden was denied Holy Communion.

CNA reported after Biden was denied Holy Communion that the policy of the Charleston diocese requires priests to withhold the sacrament from politicians and political candidates who support legal protection for abortion.

“Catholic public officials who consistently support abortion on demand are cooperating with evil in a public manner. By supporting pro-abortion legislation they participate in manifest grave sin, a condition which excludes them from admission to Holy Communion as long as they persist in the pro-abortion stance,” says a 2004 decree signed jointly by the bishops of Atlanta, Charleston, and Charlotte.

In the interview released this week, Burke responded to those who say that Catholics ought not judge the interior dispositions of pro-choice poltiicians, among them Fr. James Martin, SJ, who was mentioned specifically by McKenna.

“We judge people on the basis of objective facts. On their actions, their public record, their public statements, and certainly, Vice President Biden hasn’t left any doubt in anyone’s mind what his position is. He clearly knows what the Church’s teaching is,” Biden said.

“God put an order into the world, killing, directly killing an unborn human life is evil no matter how you look at it….and of course the conscience can’t justify it in any way,” Burke added.

“Our heart isn’t something that’s hidden, our heart manifests itself in our actions. As our Lord said, we know the tree by its fruit,” the cardinal said.

Speaking on scandal, Burke recounted the story of a non-Catholic government official he knew who said he expected that Catholic teaching might change, or that the Church must not take it seriously because, Burke said, of the number of Catholics in Congress who voted for permissive abortion legislation.

“Catholics going around announcing themselves, and then on the other hand being 100% in favor of abortion, or in favor of abortion in any way, give a great scandal,” Burke said.

“The Church’s teaching on aboriton will never change because it’s part of the natural moral law. It’s part of the law which God has written on every human heart, namely that human life is to be safeguarded, and protected and promoted.”

 


 

 

Catholics in Belarus ask St. Michael the Archangel’s intercession for end to crisis

Rome Newsroom, Sep 29, 2020 / 01:00 pm (CNA).- Amid strife in their country, Catholics in Belarus attended a Mass Tuesday with a revered statue of St. Michael the Archangel, praying for an end to the persecution of the Church in Belarus and a resolution to the political crisis.

“The main heavenly patron of the Catholic Church in Belarus is St. Michael the Archangel, the victor over the evil spirit. In our churches a special prayer is recited daily through his intercession,” Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz wrote in a letter announcing a month of prayer dedicated to the saint.

The statue of St. Michael, a replica of the one found in the Basilica of St. Michael in Gargano, Italy, has traveled across Belarus this month to cathedrals across four dioceses, culminating in the Mass in the capital, Minsk, on the Feast of the Archangels Sept. 29.

Bishop Yuri Kasabutsky, an auxiliary bishop in Minsk-Mohilev archdiocese, offered Mass on the feast, preceded by prayers in the Cathedral of the Blessed Name of Mary.

The prayer intention for the procession of St. Michael across Belarus was for a resolution to the socio-political crisis currently gripping the country and to stop the persecution of the Church, according to a report on the website of the Catholic Church in Belarus, which provided a livestream of the Mass.

The archdiocese invited Catholics to stop by the cathedral to spend a minute in prayer, asking the archangel to protect Belarus from evil.

The Catholic Church honors the archangels Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael -- mentioned by name in the Bible -- on Sept. 29. St. Michael, in particular, is invoked for protection from the devil and is a patron saint of the Church in Belarus.



In an Aug. 30 letter announcing the St. Michael procession, Kondrusiewicz wrote: “Christianity teaches to defeat evil with good.”

“From the very beginning of the socio-political crisis in Belarus, the Catholic Church has called for solutions to problems through dialogue and encouraged prayer, remembering the words of Christ that without him we can do nothing,” he said.

Since writing this letter, Kondrusiewicz has been denied entry to Belarus. Kondrusiewicz, a Belarusian citizen, was turned back without explanation by border guards when he attempted to return Aug. 31 following a trip to Poland.

The president of the Belarusian Catholic bishops’ conference had spoken out in defense of protesters after they were targeted by police following the election in which the incumbent, Alexander Lukashenko, claimed victory with 80% of the vote in August.

Fifty days after the disputed election, an estimated 100,000 protesters took to the streets on Sept. 27 to call for Lukashenko to step down, according to AP.

Kondrusiewicz participated in a virtual meeting of the Council of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE) held Sept. 25-26, where the bishops expressed hope for a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Belarus.

Kondrusiewicz said after the meeting that he understood that Belarus was “the only country in Europe where churches were not closed during the pandemic, and the Eucharist, other sacraments and services were regularly celebrated.”

Arizona pot proposal takes a hit with pushback from Catholic bishops

CNA Staff, Sep 29, 2020 / 12:01 pm (CNA).- The Arizona bishops have registered their opposition to a ballot initiative that would legalize recreational marijuana use in the state, saying it would be harmful to families and children.

“It is anticipated that legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in Arizona will lead to more abuse by teens, increase child fatalities, and result in more societal costs,”  they said in a Sept. 23 statement.

“Accordingly, due to these detrimental effects, we strongly oppose this dangerous proposal.”

Proposition 207, the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, will appear on the ballot in the state in November. It would allow persons 21 and older to possess one ounce of marijuana, and provide for the sale of the drug.

The bishops noted that “Legalizing the recreational use of marijuana sends a message to children that drug use is socially and morally acceptable. As people of faith, we must speak out against this effort and the damaging effects its passage would have on children and families.”

They said that “problematic marijuana use is 25 percent higher among teens in states that legalized recreational marijuana,” and that self-reported use of marijuana by middle- and high-schoolers in the state “has already increased over the past four years as perceptions of risk have fallen.”

They added that Arizona's most recent child fatality report “listed marijuana as a direct or contributing factor in almost as many child deaths as alcohol.”

The Arizona Supreme Court in August rejected a legal challenge to the initiative. Opponents of the measure argued that the summary of the measure its backers put on petitions was misleading and had omissions.

A 2016 report showed that traffic deaths, crime, emergency room visits, and youth usage of marijuana increased significantly in the first two years following the legalization of recreational pot in Colorado.

Released by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area in September, the report compared marijuana-related statistics from previous years in Colorado to data from 2013-2015, the first years after the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state, through ballot initiative, in November 2012.

Bishops across the US, as well as in the territory of Guam and in Canada, have also oppposed proposals to legalize recreational marijuana use in their jurisdictions.

Catholic service organizations ask Congress to pass new COVID relief bill

CNA Staff, Sep 29, 2020 / 10:57 am (CNA).- Leaders of Catholic organizations in the United States have called on members of Congress to set aside political differences and pass a new COVID-19 relief package to alleviate the hardships caused by the ongoing pandemic.

“While we understand there are differences on how to proceed on the COVID-19 stimulus bill, the many needs of the present situation cry out for relief,” said a September 25 letter signed by Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, as well as heads of six Catholic educational, health care, and charitable organizations.

Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Relief Services, and the National Catholic Educational Association were among the groups represented in the letter, which was addressed to U.S. President Donald Trump, as well as party leaders in both the Senate and House of Representatives.

“Our nation is suffering a profound crisis, with over 200,000 lives lost, 30 million Americans relying on unemployment assistance, and health care workers continuing to fight COVID-19 surges,” the signatories said. “For those in need here and abroad, as well as for the common good, our nation’s leaders must do more.”

Progress on a new pandemic relief bill has stalled amid disputes in Congress over what such a bill should include. Republican leaders say legislation proposed by House Democrats offers too much in unemployment assistance and could deter people from returning to work. They also object to funding for state governments.

A leaner Senate GOP proposal would fund additional paycheck protection loans and other types of aid, but would not include additional food assistance or the second round of stimulus checks that leading Democrats have been advocating.

In their letter, the Catholic leaders stressed that organizations serving the vulnerable in the United States and abroad continue to see the impact of the pandemic on those seeking health care, education, and charitable aid.

“Families have lost loved ones in our hospitals; people are losing jobs; food insecurity has risen; staff of our respective ministries have become sick or lost their lives while bravely serving on the front lines; parishes, schools and universities have closed to keep our communities safe; and millions of people we serve around the world are falling deeper into despair.”

Many Catholic organizations have expanded their services in response to the ongoing needs created by the pandemic, the letter noted.

“Even though many schools, universities, parishes, and outreach efforts have had to temporarily close at times during the pandemic, our respective organizations have continued to stand in solidarity to assist those in need. Our staff have ventured into the streets to provide for the spiritual, health, educational, and social needs of millions of unemployed and hungry persons and families.”

But even with these efforts, the letter continued, many Americans are facing dire situations, including food insecurity, unemployment, loss of employer-sponsored health insurance, and inability to pay rent and other bills.

With charities facing additional financial strain from the increased needs in the community, lawmakers must step up to fill in the gaps, the Catholic leaders stressed.

“Doing nothing or delaying only ensures more people will suffer,” they said. “We therefore urge you to put aside partisan politics and prioritize human life and the common good by expediting negotiations to ensure not another day is lost in providing security and hope to people in need at home and abroad.”

 

Vatican official hails ‘positive’ results of China deal amid report that Holy See delegation is heading to Beijing

Vatican City, Sep 29, 2020 / 10:00 am (CNA).- A Vatican official hailed the “positive” results of the Holy See’s provisional agreement with China Tuesday amid reports that a Holy See delegation is heading to Beijing to extend the deal.

In an article published on the front page of the Sept. 30 edition of L’Osservatore Romano, Andrea Tornielli said that the initial two-year pact had led to new episcopal appointments approved by Rome, some of which were also officially recognized by the Chinese government. 

“Even though contact was blocked in recent months due to the pandemic, the results have been positive, although limited, and suggest going forward with the application of the agreement for another determined period of time,” the editorial director of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication wrote in the article, which was posted on the Vatican News website Sept. 29.

A report published the same day by the Italian newspaper La Stampa said that a Holy See delegation would depart for Beijing “in the next few days” with the aim of renewing the deal.

Representatives of the Holy See and China signed the provisional agreement on Sept. 22, 2018. The text, which has never been made public, concerned the appointment of bishops -- a long-running source of disagreement between the Catholic Church and the Chinese Communist Party.

The deal went into effect a month after it was approved and will expire Oct. 22. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin told journalists earlier this month that the Holy See intended to renew the agreement, which it adopted “ad experimentum,” or provisionally. 

Cardinal Joseph Zen, the retired bishop of Hong Kong, told CNA earlier this month that the Church’s silence on human rights abuses in China as it sought to extend the deal would harm efforts to evangelize the country.

He said: “The resounding silence will damage the work of evangelization. Tomorrow when people will gather to plan the new China, the Catholic Church may not be welcome.”

Tornielli’s article appeared shortly before U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was due to arrive in Rome for talks with Parolin and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Vatican Secretary for Relations with States.

In an exclusive interview with CNA Sept. 25, Pompeo said that he planned to discuss human rights violations in China, and urge Vatican officials to speak out about Chinese persecution of religious groups.

He observed that the plight of religious believers had worsened since Chinese President Xi Jinping came to power in 2013.

“The Church has an enormous amount of moral authority and we want to encourage them to use that moral authority, to improve the conditions for believers, certainly Catholic believers, but believers of all faiths inside of China, and so that’s the conversation that we’ll have,” he said.

In his article, Tornielli emphasized that the agreement did not touch on diplomatic relations between the Holy See and China, which Beijing broke off in 1951. Nor did it concern “the juridical status of the Catholic Chinese Church, or the relations between the clergy and the country’s authorities.”

“The Provisional Agreement exclusively treats the process for the appointment of bishops: an essential question for the life of the Church and for the necessary communion between the pastors of the Chinese Catholic Church with the Bishop of Rome and with the bishops throughout the world,” he wrote. 

“The goal of the Provisional Agreement, therefore, has never been merely diplomatic, much less, political, but was always genuinely pastoral. Its objective is to permit the Catholic faithful to have bishops in full communion with the Successor of Peter who are at the same time recognized by the authorities of the People’s Republic of China.”

When CNA asked Zen if he saw any prospect that Vatican negotiations with the current Communist government would lead to improvements for the local Church, he said simply “No.”

“Is there any choice between helping the government to destroy the Church or resisting the government to keep our Faith?” he asked.

Pope Francis names leading physicist to pontifical academy

Vatican City, Sep 29, 2020 / 06:30 am (CNA).- Pope Francis appointed the director-general of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) Tuesday to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. 

The Holy See press office said Sept. 29 that the pope had named Fabiola Gianotti as an “ordinary member” of the academy.

Gianotti, an Italian experimental particle physicist, is the first female director-general of CERN, which operates the world’s largest particle accelerator at its laboratory on the border between France and Switzerland.

Last year, Gianotti became the first director-general since CERN was founded in 1954 to be re-elected for a second full five-year term. 

On July 4, 2012, she announced the discovery of the Higgs Boson particle, sometimes referred to as the “God particle,” whose existence was first predicted by the theoretical physicist Peter Higgs in the 1960s.

In 2016, she was elected to her first term as director-general of CERN, home to the Large Hadron Collider, an almost 17-mile ring under the Franco-Swiss border which started operating in 2008. Her second term will begin Jan. 1, 2021.

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences traces its roots back to the Academy of the Lynxes (Accademia dei Lincei), one of the world’s first exclusively scientific academies, founded in Rome in 1603. The short-lived academy’s members included the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei. 

Pope Pius IX re-established the academy as the Pontifical Academy of the New Lynxes in 1847. Pope Pius XI gave it its current name in 1936.

One of the current members, who are known as “ordinary academicians,” is Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

Past members include scores of Nobel Prize-winning scientists, such as Guglielmo Marconi, Max Planck, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, and Erwin Schrödinger, known for the “Schrödinger’s cat” thought experiment.

A 2018 New York Times profile described Gianotti as “one of the most important physicists in the world.”

Asked about science and the existence of God, she said: “There is no unique answer. There are people who say, ‘Oh, what I observe brings me to something beyond what I see,’ and there are people who say, ‘What I observe is what I believe, and I stop here.’ It’s enough to say that physics cannot demonstrate the existence or not of God.”

Denver bishops ask Hispanic voters to support 22-week abortion ban

CNA Staff, Sep 29, 2020 / 12:14 am (CNA).- The bishops of the Archdiocese of Denver are calling on the local Hispanic community to support Proposition 115, a ballot measure to ban abortion after 22 weeks in the state of Colorado.

“The Hispanic community is a Pro-life community,” said Archbishop Samuel Aquila and Bishop Jorge Rodriguez in a Sept. 27 letter to Hispanics in the Archdiocese of Denver. “Life, children and family are the great values and treasures of our culture and people. This is how we live, so we bring it with us to the United States. Thus, we hope to pass these values on to our children.”

The bishops said they find it “worrying” that recent statistics show abortion ranked 12th on a list of priorities among Hispanics ahead of the election, while issues including the economy, health care, and the coronavirus pandemic are seen as more important.

“Let us not allow propaganda, social media and the promoters of the Culture of Death destroy that richness of our faith and our Hispanic tradition: We are and will be a people for Life,” the bishops said.

Colorado currently has no laws regulating late-term abortion, either restricting the procedure or explicitly protecting it. As a result, Colorado is one of just seven states in the country where abortions can take place up until birth. Each year, about 200-300 babies are aborted after 21 weeks gestation in the state.

This November, Proposition 115 will ask Colorado voters if they want to ban abortion in the state after 22 weeks of pregnancy, unless a mother’s life is threatened. If the ballot measure passes, doctors would face a three-year suspension of their license for performing or attempting to perform an abortion. Women would not be charged with seeking or obtaining an abortion.

More than 150,000 people from across Colorado signed a petition to place the initiative on the upcoming ballot.

The death of recent Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg - and the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to replace her - has brought a renewed focus to the subject of abortion amid the election season. Ginsburg was a staunch advocate of legal abortion, while Barrett is widely seen as boosting the court’s potential to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The Denver Post reported that the “No on 115” campaign saw significant increases in engagement and individual online donations following Ginsburg’s death.

A January 2020 Marist Poll sponsored by the Knights of Columbus found that 70% of Americans favored banning abortion after three months of pregnancy, at the latest.

In their letter, the Denver bishops cited Church teaching on the sanctity of life, saying, “Abortion is, and always will be a crime and a sin that cries out to heaven.”

They warned that large amounts of money have been invested in a campaign against Proposition 115, using arguments that “are misleading and can never justify the murder of children in their mother’s womb.”

The bishops reaffirmed the humanity of the unborn child and noted that two-thirds of babies born at 22 weeks are able to survive. They pointed to a group of more than 130 doctors and scientists in Colorado who support Proposition 115.

“Rest assured that your ‘Yes’ to Proposition 115 will have innumerable consequences for the lives of many children who, within their mother’s womb, count on you for life,” they said. “May the intercession of our Lady of Guadalupe, ‘Mother of the true God for whom we live,’ help our Hispanic community remain a people who love life, protect and celebrate it from the very moment of conception.”

Archbishop Aquila recently prayed with a 40 Days for Life group outside the Boulder Abortion Clinic, where many of the state’s late-term abortions are performed.

He said he was encouraged to see more than 20 people gathered there to pray in defense of unborn human life.

“It gives me great hope, because there are people who really see the dignity of human life,” he said in a video posted online by the archdiocese.

For women who are struggling with a difficult pregnancy, the archbishop said he hopes the Church can show them “that there are many other options, and that there are people who will walk with them, who will accompany them, who will help them to carry the child to term and well beyond.”

Dad, deacon, lawyer: Amy Coney Barrett’s father shares his testimony of faith

CNA Staff, Sep 28, 2020 / 08:41 pm (CNA).- Much has been made of the Catholic faith of Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump’s most recent nominee to the United States Supreme Court.

The judge’s Catholicism has taken center stage in her political career thus far: from “the dogma lives loudly within you” comments made during her 7th Circuit Court of Appeals nomination hearing in 2017 to recent articles debating - and debunking - whether People of Praise, the charismatic movement to which Barrett belongs, was the inspiration behind the dystopian novel and T.V. series, The Handmaid’s Tale.

Like many Catholics, Barrett inherited her faith from her family. Her parents are Catholic, with seven children - Barrett being the eldest - and are also members of People of Praise. Her father, Mike Coney, has also been a permanent deacon for 38 years.

In a personal testimony of faith written in February 2018 for his home parish, St. Catherine of Siena in a suburb of New Orleans, Deacon Coney shared how “pivotal moments” of his life - both decisions and experiences - came to shape his life and his relationship with God.

“They are not random,” Coney said of the pivotal moments in his life. “I firmly believe the Lord is close at hand drawing us through human events closer to him.”

One of the first moments that shaped Coney’s faith was the death of his mother.

“In August 1962, the day before my 17th birthday, I came home from a summer job and found my mother dead,” he wrote. “At first I was filled with grief and anger at God.”

But then Coney remembered the story of Job, a man in the Old Testament who is tested by Satan, who kills off all of Job’s livestock, herdsmen, shepherds and children. Instead of blaspheming God, as Satan had wanted, Job rends his garments, cuts his hair, and prays: “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!”

“That passage dissolved the anger I felt against the Lord,” Coney said. “All through the wake and funeral I kept repeating that passage as a kind of prayer. Although the grief remained, the anger left.”

His mother’s death left Coney considering for months “what really mattered in a person’s life,” and when he went on retreat his senior year of high school, he said he was struck by the verse from St. Matthew’s Gospel: “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but suffer the loss of his soul?”

“Sure money is necessary but it can’t be the primary goal of life. That’s not what life is all about,” Coney wrote.

This experience led him to consider being a Jesuit, and he made a customary 30-day Ignatian retreat and spent one and a half years as a Jesuit novitiate, an experience that “remained the foundation of my adult life, as has the axiom that love manifests itself in deeds and not just in words.”

Rather than become a Jesuit priest, however, Coney married his wife Linda during his first year of law school. His marriage shaped his faith, Coney said, when he and Linda began praying together and when he made the decision to do one simple act of love for Linda every day.

“So picking up a towel on the floor or a shoe or putting a single cut flower in a vase became a way to grow in love and unity,” he said. “That practice continues to this day and the love grows.”

Throughout his marriage, Coney said he has jointly discerned the will of God with his wife many times. As an example, Coney and his wife jointly discerned to turn down a transfer in his career and a promotion that would have meant uprooting their (at the time) six children.

“Our discernment had told us that money and success were not as important as what was best for our family,” he said.

Coney’s decision to become a permanent deacon was also a joint discernment, brought about by the couple’s experience with the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, a movement with a particular emphasis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

“Like many people and most guys, I saw very little to like in Charismatics,” Coney wrote of his first impression of the movement. “I dodged it until I was trapped into attending a Life in the Spirit Seminar. When prayed with for a greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit, nothing happened.  Then later that night I began to speak in tongues.”

“More importantly,” he wrote, “I was filled with an insatiable appetite for reading scripture and spiritual books. Making time for personal prayer became important. I sensed a call from the Lord to serve.”

His wife independently confirmed that she had also felt a call from the Lord that Coney should enter the permanent diaconate, a decision that Coney said is always best discerned as a couple. By the time Coney was ordained, he and Linda had four children. After ordination, they had three more, becoming a family of nine.

He had to learn to “juggle” life as a husband, father, lawyer and deacon, he wrote, but he said the Lord helped him by making smaller stretches of sleep feel longer and by helping him write his homilies in about an hour.

His prayer, he said, became: “Give me wisdom, knowledge, discernment and sound judgement.”

It was also after ordination that the family felt called to join People of Praise, an ecumenical lay covenant community - to which Barrett continues to belong - that would allow his family to live in “a close knit Christian community, one like that described in the Acts of the Apostles, one that would help form our children into good Christians and strengthen our marriage and family.”

“The glue which binds the members of the (People of Praise) is a promise to share life together and to look out for each other in all things material and spiritual,” Coney added. “In this ecumenical community my faith has been nourished and my commitment to my friend Christ has grown deeper and stronger and has borne good fruit.”

In his conclusion, Coney wrote that reflecting on his testimony made him grateful for the generosity of the Lord in his life.

“This scripture from Deuteronomy sums up how I feel. ‘Do you not know that the Lord your God has carried you as a Father carries his child all along your journey?’”

Deacon Mike Coney continues to serve the parish of St. Catherine of Siena in Metairie, Louisiana.