Vatican City, Oct 17, 2017 / 02:34 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Among the most lasting aspects of a Pope’s leadership is his appointment of bishops. To understand a Pope, it’s important to understand how he makes decisions about episcopal leadershi... [...]
Vatican City, Oct 17, 2017 / 11:52 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Georg Ganswein, the personal secretary of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, has rejected reports that the former pontiff is nearing death.
Rumors of Benedict XVI being close to death circula... [...]
Washington D.C., Oct 17, 2017 / 06:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In the wake of an executive order issued by the Trump administration halting federal assistance for certain insurance plans, the U.S. bishops reaffirmed that helping to protect low-income persons and the vulnerable is of the utmost importance.
“This is of grave concern. The Affordable Care Act is, by no means, perfect, but as leaders attempt to address impending challenges to insurance market stability and affordability, they must not use people’s health care as leverage or as a bargaining chip,” said Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development in a statement.
“To do so would be to strike at the heart of human dignity and the fundamental right to health care. The poor and vulnerable will bear the brunt of such an approach.”
Trump's decision will end a series of subsidies for lower-income enrollees in Affordable Care Act plans, which help those people reduce their cost share. The subsidies were expected to total more than $9 billion in 2018, and Congress has never appropriated the money for these cost-sharing subsidies in particular.
Trump’s decision has been met with criticism from both the Democratic party and some members of the Republican party, while other members of the president’s party, like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), praised the move.
Bishop Dewane explained that in addition to cutting federal funds for insurance subsidies for low-income buyers, Trump also issued a directive whichallow the sale of insurance plans across state lines and expand options for certain kinds of plans that are lower-cost, but contain fewer benefits.
There is also concern among healthcare policy experts that if enough healthy people leave their current plans for such high-deductible plans, those remaining in other Affordable Care Act plans would be, on the whole, sicker, and eventually face higher premiums. These costs would eventually impact the economy at large.
Dewane said the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will monitor how the order is implemented, and its impact on vulnerable persons.
“In general, robust options for people to obtain health coverage, as well as flexibility and approaches aimed at increased affordability, are important strategies in health care,” he said of the other elements of the executive order. “However, in implementing this executive order, great care must be taken to avoid risk of additional harm to those who now receive health care coverage through exchanges formed under the Affordable Care Act.”
In addition to opening up new areas of concern, the executive order “ignores” other severe problems in the health care system, Dewane said.
“Congress must still act on comprehensive reform in order to provide a sustainable framework for health care, providing lasting solutions for the life, conscience, immigrant access, market stability, and underlying affordability problems that remain unaddressed.”
The second-century martyr bears witness to the early provenance of Catholic distinctives. [...]
Bologna, Italy, Oct 17, 2017 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- They were supposed to be having lunch with Pope Francis.
During his Oct. 1 trip to Bologna, the Holy Father was scheduled to dine with 20 prisoners from a local drug rehabilitation facility, al... [...]
Sydney, Australia, Oct 17, 2017 / 12:09 am (CNA/EWTN News).- As Australians return their ballots for a poll that could aid the recognition of same-sex unions as marriages, the Archbishop of Sydney called for Christian charity in clearly explaining the ... [...]
Anglican Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali is using his unique perspective on the plight of Middle Eastern Christians to be “light to attract those in darkness.” [...]
Washington D.C., Oct 16, 2017 / 09:45 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A week after issuing new religious freedom guidelines to all administrative agencies in the federal government, the U.S. Department of Justice has settled with more than 70 plaintiffs who had challenged the controversial HHS contraceptive mandate.
The Oct. 13 agreement was reached between the government and the law firm Jones Day, which represented more than 70 clients fighting the mandate. Made public Oct. 16, the agreement states that the plaintiffs would not be forced to provide health insurance coverage for “morally unacceptable” products and procedures, including contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs.
“This settlement brings to a conclusion our litigation challenging the Health and Human Services’ mandate obliging our institutions to provide support for morally objectionable activities, as well as a level of assurance as we move into the future,” said Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C. in an Oct. 16 letter to priests of the archdiocese.
The mandate originated with the Obama administration. Issued through the Department of Health and Human Services, it required employers – even those with deeply-held religious objections – to provide and pay for contraceptive, abortifacient and sterilization coverage in their health insurance plans.
The Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., was one of more than 300 plaintiffs who had challenged the mandate, arguing “that the practice of our faith was inextricably tied to the ministries that put that faith into action,” and that as such, they should not be forced to violate their faith to continue their ministries, Wuerl recalled.
The archdiocese and six other plaintiffs had argued their position before the Supreme Court in the case Zubik v. Burwell. In 2016, the high court ruled against the government’s requirement that certain employers provide and pay for the morally objectionable services.
“While the Trump Administration’s Executive Order on Religious Liberty and new guidelines and regulations are extremely helpful, the settlement of the Zubik litigation adds a leavening of certainty moving forward,” the cardinal added.
The Department of Justice’s new settlement “removes doubt” and closes these cases challenging the mandate, the cardinal continued. “The settlement adds additional assurances that we will not be subject to enforcement or imposition of similar regulations imposing such morally unacceptable mandates moving forward,” he stated.
On Oct. 6, the Department of Justice revised its guidelines for all government agencies in light of existing religious freedom laws, releasing a set of principles which stated clearly that the government cannot substantially burden religious practices, unless there is a compelling state interest in doing so and those burdens use the least-restrictive means possible.
Thomas Aquinas College, a Catholic college in California and another plaintiff against the HHS mandate also celebrated the protection the settlement brings.
“While we welcomed the broadening of the exemption from the HHS mandate last week by the Trump administration, we have under our agreement today something even better: a permanent exemption from an onerous federal directive – and any similar future directive – that would require us to compromise our fundamental beliefs,” said Thomas Aquinas College president Dr. Michael F. McLean in an Oct. 16 statement.
“This is an extraordinary outcome for Thomas Aquinas College and for the cause of religious freedom.”
In addition to settling the case, the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury have also decided to provide partial coverage of the plaintiffs’ attorney fees and costs of the lawsuits.
“This financial concession by the government only reinforces its admission of the burdensome nature of the HHS contraceptive mandate and its violation of the College's free exercise of religion,” stated Thomas Aquinas College General Counsel, Quincy Masteller.
Cape Town, South Africa, Oct 16, 2017 / 09:36 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- South Africa’s Conference of Catholic Bishops has pushed for the development of an anti-corruption court, citing the damage to the country’s morale after a long standing cor... [...]
Washington D.C., Oct 16, 2017 / 04:46 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- On Monday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Callista Gingrich, wife of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, as the next U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See. The vote was 70-23.
In a July 18 hearing, Gingrich had voiced her commitment to fight human trafficking and promote human rights and religious freedom. She had said that immigration and protecting the environment are both issues that the Trump administration is taking seriously, although taking a different approach from the previous administration.
Callista Gingrich is the president of both Gingrich Productions in Arlington, Va. and the charitable non-profit Gingrich Foundation, and is a former Congressional aide.
She is also a long-time member of the choir at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
Newt and Callista married in 2000, after having a six-year affair while Newt was married to his previous wife. Newt converted to Catholicism in 2009 and explained, in an interview that year with Deal Hudson at InsideCatholic.com, how Callista’s witness as a Catholic brought him towards the faith.
He noted that he had attended Masses at the National Shrine where Callista sang in the choir, and she “created an environment where I could gradually think and evolve on the issue of faith.”
At the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in 2011, he also cited Pope Benedict XVI’s 2008 visit to the U.S. as a “moment of confirmation” for him. At vespers with the Pope, where Callista sang in the Shrine choir, Newt recalled thinking that “here is where I belong.”
The couple worked on a documentary together that was released in 2010, “Nine Days That Changed the World,” that focused on Pope St. John Paul II’s 1979 pilgrimage to Poland when the former Soviet bloc country was under a communist government.
The documentary explained how the Pope invigorated the faith of the Polish people in Jesus Christ during his pilgrimage there, and how the visit precipitated the fall of Communism.
In an Easter message posted on the website of Gingrich Productions, the couple noted that “we should remember the many threats facing Christians today,” including “a growing secularism, which seeks to place human desires ahead of God and His will,” and “radical Islamism” that “seeks to destroy Christianity across the globe.”
“But in the face of this evil, we remember the words of Saint John Paul II, who throughout his papacy urged us to, ‘Be not afraid’,” the statement continued.
As ambassador, Gingrich will follow Ken Hackett, the former head of Catholic Relief Services who served during President Obama’s second term as president.
In a January interview with CNA, Hackett opined that there would be areas of difference and of collaboration between the U.S. and the Holy See under the Trump administration.
One of the possible areas of tension might be on immigration and refugees, he said, as Trump criticized Pope Francis on the campaign trail in 2016 after the Pope celebrated Mass at the U.S.-Mexico border and urged everyone to pray for conversion of hearts over the suffering of forced migration.
Trump, who repeatedly promised to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and make the Mexican government pay for it, said last February that the Pope was a “pawn” of the Mexican government and “is a very political person, I think he doesn't understand the problems our country has.”
He also issued an executive order shutting down refugee admissions for four months at a time when Pope Francis has taken in refugees and U.S. bishops have called for the country to continue accepting refugees fleeing violence.
Meanwhile, there are other possible areas of collaboration between the U.S. and the Holy See, Hackett said in January, including on human trafficking, peace in the Middle East, a solution to the worsening crisis in Venezuela, and efforts to alleviate global poverty.
Pope Francis and President Trump met at the Vatican in May. According to a Vatican communique, they expressed satisfaction “for the good existing bilateral relations between the Holy See and the United States of America, as well as the joint commitment in favor of life, and freedom of worship and conscience.”
During the “cordial discussions,” the two expressed hope for peaceful collaboration between the government and the Catholic Church in the United States, that it may be “engaged in service to the people in the fields of healthcare, education and assistance to immigrants,” the Vatican statement said.
The two leaders also exchanged views “on various themes relating to international affairs, the promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation and interreligious dialogue, with particular reference to the situation in the Middle East and the protection of Christian communities.”
Bro. Ronald Tinao
Bro. Erick Landicho
Bro. Albert Meguizo
Bro. Rey Reyes
Bro. John Langroma
Bro. Marc Vincent Riparip
Sis Carmella Balanag
About Four years ago, a group of certain individuals called “Payer Partners” met in the Holy Rosary Church Parish-Doha, Qatar in the office of the then Filipino Assistant Parish Priest Father Zacarias “Zakki” Parra. The group spearheaded by overall coordinator Bro Ronald Tinao, Bro Erick Landicho and Sis Carmela Balanag, (which later on became the first council) Learn More