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Italy’s high court overturns arrest warrant against Vatican broker Gianluigi Torzi

The Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome, Italy. / Sergio D’Afflitto via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0 it).

Vatican City, Oct 14, 2021 / 06:30 am (CNA).

Italy’s Supreme Court has overturned an arrest warrant against a broker wanted in Italy and the Vatican on allegations of financial crimes.

According to a statement from the lawyers of Gianluigi Torzi late Wednesday, a precautionary measure against the Italian businessman who brokered the final stage of the Vatican’s controversial purchase of a London property has been “annulled in its entirety.”

The case has been sent back to Rome’s Tribunal for Review. A written ruling explaining the reason for the annulment will be released by the Italian court within a month, according to the AP.

Torzi is one of the key suspects in a significant finance trial being heard by the Vatican City State’s tribunal about the London property deal.

The Vatican has accused the businessman of being part of a conspiracy to defraud the Secretariat of State of millions of euros, and has charged him with extortion, embezzlement, fraud, misappropriation, money laundering, and self-money laundering. He denies the charges.

An Italian magistrate issued an arrest warrant for Torzi in April on suspicion of similar financial crimes committed in Italy. The businessman has been under precautionary measures in the U.K. while awaiting extradition to Italy at the request of the Italian authorities.

The Supreme Court decision to annul the precautionary measures calls into question whether Torzi will be extradited from the U.K.

In a hearing on Oct. 6, Vatican judges ruled that Torzi’s portion of the finance trial would effectively be on hold until he could present himself at the Vatican.

A statement from Torzi’s communication team on Oct. 13 said that Torzi’s lawyers, Ambra Giovene and Marco Franco, called the high court’s annulment of the precautionary measure “an important step towards proving their client’s innocence.”

The statement also said that evidence used by the Supreme Court in its decision was provided by Vatican prosecutors.

In March, a British judge reversed the seizure of Torzi’s accounts, saying that Vatican prosecutors withheld and misrepresented information in their request to the U.K. court.

Judge Tony Baumgartner of Southwark Crown Court overturned another judge’s decision to seize the British-based accounts of Gianluigi Torzi, as had been requested by Vatican prosecutors.

France’s Catholic bishops will uphold confessional seal, spokeswoman clarifies

Karine Dalle, the communications director of the French bishops’ conference. / Marion Delattaignant/CEF.

Paris, France, Oct 14, 2021 / 05:50 am (CNA).

The spokeswoman for France’s bishops’ conference clarified Wednesday that the country’s Catholic leaders do not intend to compromise on the Church’s teaching that the confessional seal is sacrosanct.

“One cannot change the canon law for France as it is international. A priest who today would violate the secrecy of the confession would be excommunicated,” Karine Dalle, the communications director of the French bishops’ conference (CEF), told Solène Tadié of the National Catholic Register on Oct. 13.

“This is what Archbishop Moulins-Beaufort wanted to say last week after the publication of the Sauvé report, when he said that the seal of confession was above the laws of the Republic,” Dalle explained.

“He spoke the truth, but this truth is not audible in France for those who are not Catholic, and not understandable in France in the midst of debates on so-called ‘religious separatism.’”

Moulins-Beaufort, the bishops’ conference president, was invited to a meeting with France’s interior minister Gérald Darmanin following his comments about the confessional seal in an interview with France Info, which caused an outcry.

After the meeting on Oct. 12, media reports suggested that the archbishop had conceded that priests should inform police of admissions of abuse made by penitents during confession.

The reports provoked consternation among Catholics.

While French law has long recognized the Church’s strict rules about the confidentiality of the sacrament, the government is now contemplating amending the law for confessors, as it has done with lawyers and other secular professionals.

“[T]here have been conditions introduced within professional secrecy, which oblige some professionals when there is an abuse committed on a minor under 15 years old, to report to the competent authorities,” she said.

“If a lawyer or a doctor has knowledge of the abuse of a minor under 15 years of age, he or she is obliged not to respect professional secrecy. This is to prevent further crimes, because pedophile criminality is compulsive.”

“What Interior Minister Darmanin said is that in the future, the seal of confession could fit into this framework. It wouldn’t concern all confessional secrecy, of course, but I don’t know where that will lead,” she continued.

“But if the state tells us [that priests must report crimes against minors revealed in confession] there would be an obligation to leave the secrecy of confession. This would mean that the priests concerned would be excommunicated by Rome,” Dalle said.

“There will certainly be some adjustments proposed, which Rome will accept or not. But no, in no case did Archbishop de Moulins-Beaufort say that the seal of confession would be put aside. He never said that.”

Moulins-Beaufort made the comments after the publication of a watershed report on abuse in the French Catholic Church.

The final report of the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (CIASE) said that an estimated 216,000 children were abused by priests, deacons, monks, or nuns from 1950 to 2020.

The independent commission, established by the French bishops in November 2018, spent 30 months investigating abuse within the Catholic Church led by Jean-Marc Sauvé, a senior civil servant.

Among the report’s 45 recommendations was a request for the Church to reconsider the seal of confession concerning abuse.

The Vatican has strongly defended the confessional seal in response to mandatory reporting laws introduced around the world.

In June 2019, the Apostolic Penitentiary issued a note reaffirming the inviolability of the sacramental seal.

Dalle said: “We know that if these rules were to be adopted, no abuser would ever go to confession if they knew that they would be reported if they confessed to abusing a minor under the age of 15. That’s also problematic.”

“The same is true for children, for whom confession is a space to speak. Confession allows the child’s word to be released. And when the confession is over, the priest waits for a moment and then goes to the child and asks him if he can say again what he said, but this time outside the confession.”

“This is what the anticlericals don’t want to understand,” Dalle said, “because they don’t know all this context.”

Prominent Anglican bishop received into Catholic Church

The Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Anglican bishop of Rochester, England. / michaelnazirali.com.

Oxford, England, Oct 14, 2021 / 03:55 am (CNA).

A prominent Anglican bishop once considered a potential future Archbishop of Canterbury has entered into full communion with the Catholic Church.

The Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali, the former bishop of Rochester, England, has joined the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, The Spectator reported on Oct. 14.

The magazine said that Nazir-Ali could be ordained as a Catholic priest as early as the end of October within the ordinariate, a body created by Benedict XVI in 2011 for groups of former Anglicans wishing to preserve elements of their patrimony.

In an Oct. 14 statement, the ordinariate said that Nazir-Ali was received into full communion by the group’s Ordinary, Msgr. Keith Newton, on Sept. 29, the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels.

“With the permission of the Holy See, he will be ordained to the Catholic priesthood for the ordinariate in due course,” it said.

Explaining his decision, Nazir-Ali said: “I believe that the Anglican desire to adhere to apostolic, patristic and conciliar teaching can now best be maintained in the ordinariate.”

“Provisions there to safeguard legitimate Anglican patrimony are very encouraging and, I believe, that such patrimony in its liturgy, approaches to biblical study, pastoral commitment to the community, methods of moral theology, and much else besides has a great deal to offer the wider Church.”

“I am looking forward to receiving from the riches of other parts of the Church, while perhaps making a modest contribution to the maintenance and enhancement of Anglican patrimony within the wider fellowship.”

michaelnazirali.com.
michaelnazirali.com.

The news comes a month after another Church of England bishop announced that he was crossing the Tiber.

The Rt. Rev. Jonathan Goodall, the Anglican bishop of Ebbsfleet, said that he had taken the decision “after a long period of prayer.”

Nazir-Ali was born in Karachi, Pakistan, in 1949, and attended Catholic schools. He has both a Christian and Muslim family background and holds British and Pakistani citizenship.

He was ordained as an Anglican clergyman in 1976, working in Karachi and Lahore. He became provost of Lahore’s Anglican cathedral and was consecrated as the first bishop of Raiwind in West Punjab.

He later joined the staff of the Archbishop of Canterbury, helping to plan the 1988 Lambeth Conference, a gathering of bishops from across the Anglican Communion.

In 1994, he was appointed as the Anglican bishop of Rochester, covering the areas of Medway, north and west Kent, and the London Boroughs of Bromley and Bexley.

Married with two children, he served as a member of the House of Lords, Britain’s upper house of Parliament, from 1999.

He took part in the second phase of Anglican and Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC-II) and was a member of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity and Mission (IARCCUM).

In 2002, the U.K. media identified him as one of the favorites to succeed the retiring Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey. He was quoted at the time as suggesting that he was the target of a racist smear campaign and he remained as bishop of Rochester until 2009.

The 72-year-old is currently president of the Oxford Centre for Training, Research, Advocacy, and Dialogue (OXTRAD).

The current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, paid tribute to Nazir-Ali on his Twitter account on Oct. 14.

He praised his “expertise in evangelism, interfaith dialogue, ecumenism, and theological education.”

“He will continue to be a blessing to the global church as he joins the ordinariate. I will be praying for him and his wife, Valerie, that this new step in their journey might draw them ever closer to God in Christ,” he said.

Msgr. Newton commented: “Since its erection in 2011, Michael has always shown great interest in the development of the ordinariate in the United Kingdom. Those of us who serve the Catholic Church within the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham are delighted at his reception into full communion and forthcoming ordination.”

“He brings a great experience of the Anglican Communion and is in a unique place to articulate that Anglican patrimony, described by Pope Benedict XVI as a treasure to be shared, which now has an honoured place in the Universal Church.”

The ordinariate priest Fr. James Bradley noted on his Twitter account last month that the following Anglican bishops have been received into the Catholic Church since 1992: Graham Leonard (London); Conrad Meyer; John Klyberg (Fulham); Richard Rutt (Leicester); John Broadhurst (Fulham); Edwin Barnes (Richborough); Keith Newton (Richborough); Andrew Burnham (Ebbsfleet); David Silk; Paul Richardson; John Goddard (Burnley); and Jonathan Goodall (Ebbsfleet).

Many converts come from the Anglo-Catholic branch of the Church of England, which stresses Anglicanism’s Catholic heritage, but Nazir-Ali has long been associated with the evangelical wing.

Nazir-Ali said: “Ministry in the Church of Pakistan, in the Middle East generally, in the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion remains precious to me and I see this as a further step in the ministry of our common Lord and of his people. At this time, I ask for prayers as I continue to pray for all parts of the Church.”

This report was updated at 06:32 a.m. MDT with comments by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

Catholic businessman receives Legatus evangelization award

Legatus 2020 Bowie Kuhn Award for Evangelization recipient Mario Costabile (left), with Thomas Monaghan (right), Legatus founder and CEO / Legatus International

Washington D.C., Oct 13, 2021 / 18:51 pm (CNA).

The organization of Catholic business leaders Legatus International has awarded Catholic producer Mario Costabile with its 2020 Bowie Kuhn Award for Evangelization.

Costabile is the producer and executive director of “Array of Hope,” a Catholic production company that serves Catholic parishes, dioceses and organizations.” 

“Seeking to address the decline of God” in society, Costabile’s business aims to “reveal the ‘Truths of our Faith’ by creating high quality films, music and events.”

Legatus founder and CEO Tom Monaghan presented Costabile with the award at the group’s biannual summit conference in September. The Bowie Kuhn Award for Evangelization is named after Bowie Kuhn, the former Major League Baseball commissioner who was Catholic. It recognizes a member's efforts to “spread the good news of Jesus Christ among his/her peers and his/her noteworthy dedication to the mission and ideals of Legatus.”

Legatus president Stephen Henley said that “Costabile's commitment to advancing the Catholic faith and Christian ethics through media ‘distinguishes him among his peers and makes him a worthy recipient of the Bowie Kuhn Award for Evangelization.’”

Costabile serves as the president of the organization’s Newark chapter; according to Legatus, Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark is a “long-time” chapter supporter. 

Costabile also received the Legatus ACE award in 2018 for his success in recruiting new members. 

Past recipients of the Bowie Kuhn Award for Evangelization include Tim Flanagan, founder of the Catholic Leadership Institute; Michael Warsaw, Chairman and CEO of EWTN; Curtis Martin, founder of the Catholic campus ministry FOCUS; Tim Busch, attorney and philanthropist; Thomas Peterson, president and founder of Catholics Come Home; and Luisa Kuhn, wife of the late baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn.

Legatus members include Catholic CEOs, presidents, managing partners, business owners, and their spouses. The group’s stated mission is "to study, live, and spread the Catholic faith in our business, professional and personal lives."

Legatus chapter monthly meetings typically include Mass, Confession, and a rosary followed by social hours, dining, and a presentation on Catholic topics. Legatus International also organizes leadership conferences, pilgrimage opportunities, religious retreats, social events, and overseas trips.

Tom Monaghan, the Domino's Pizza founder turned Catholic philanthropist, founded the organization in 1987. It is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Supreme Court must return abortion debate to voters and legislatures, says Mississippi brief

Lynn Fitch, the Mississippi Attorney General. / LibandJustice via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Denver Newsroom, Oct 13, 2021 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

The Supreme Court’s precedents on legal abortion are so tangled and misguided that abortion law should be returned to the people and their representatives in the legislatures, backers of a Mississippi ban on abortions after 15 weeks have said.

“Finally forced to defend those cases, respondents drive home the stark reality: Roe and Casey are indefensible,” said the Oct. 13 Supreme Court brief filed by Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch and other state officials.

“It is true that the judiciary cannot provide a workable half measure—it cannot produce an enduring compromise. But the people can,” the brief continued. “When this court returns this issue to the people, the people can debate, adapt, and find workable solutions. It will be hard for the people too, but under the constitution the task is theirs—and the court should return it to them now.”

The brief in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization involves Mississippi’s ban on most elective abortions after 15 weeks. Oral arguments are scheduled for Dec. 1.

The challenge could mean the Supreme Court will re-examine its 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide, as well as its 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that reaffirmed legal abortion.

The respondents’ brief, led by attorneys from the pro-abortion rights group Center for Reproductive Rights, sought to defend the current viability standard, allowing abortion restrictions only after the unborn child may survive outside the womb. The brief said this is 23-24 weeks into pregnancy. The respondents argued that the viability standard serves the court well, has a grounding in the constitution, and has not been challenged by the facts. Defenders of the Mississippi law, they said, do not provide an alternative framework that could sustain a stable right to abortion.

“Each of the state’s purported alternatives would upend the balance struck in Casey and ultimately extinguish ‘the woman’s liberty to determine whether to carry her pregnancy to full term’,” said the pro-abortion rights brief. Upholding the Mississippi ban would lead to “attempts by half the states in the nation to forbid abortion entirely, and a judiciary left without tools to manage the resulting litigation.” The brief argued that the state should reaffirm precedent, which holds that a state’s interest in protecting fetal life falls short of overriding individual liberty claims.

Fitch and other Mississippi leaders faulted this response.

“Respondents’ effort to narrow this case—or avoid any decision—shows what they know: that Roe and Casey are deeply flawed and that those flaws have finally been presented to the one tribunal that can do something about them,” said their brief.

There is “no constitutional basis” for Roe, Casey, or the viability rule, the brief said. The logic for abortion rights decisions appear selective and unique, rather than part of American constitutional tradition.

 “(T)his Court has never endorsed another privacy or liberty interest that involves purposefully ending a human life,” the brief said.

Backers of the Mississippi law depicted Roe as a departure from precedent, and Casey as similarly “egregiously wrong” in a way that weakens claims they should serve as continued precedent.

The common law long condemned and restricted abortion and most states broadly restricted abortion at the time the Fourteenth Amendment was passed. Abortion is a matter that “unites state interests in protecting women’s health and unborn life” but current pro-abortion rights precedent “uniquely limit the states and cut off the democratic process,” said the brief.

The viability line has no constitutional or principled basis and could just as meaningfully be drawn at 14 weeks into pregnancy.  At minimum, the brief argued, the court should reject a rule based on viability.

“Saying that a state’s interest becomes compelling at 15 weeks’ gestation is just as plausible as saying that it becomes compelling at viability,” said the brief, arguing that such “line-drawing” is legislative task and another sign that abortion decisions should not rely on the courts.

“Abortion—as both a jurisprudential and policy matter—is as divisive and unsettled as ever,” said the brief. “Protecting unborn life and women’s health are as compelling as ‘preserving public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary’— an interest this Court has found compelling,” it added.

States should be able to decide on disputed questions, such as to what extent either continued pregnancy or abortion may create health risks for the mother. Similarly, the states should be able to account for advances in knowledge of when the unborn child becomes sensitive to pain.

“This court need not resolve who is right on fetal pain. It need only recognize that knowledge changes and that the constitution does not bind States to a long-outdated view of the fact,” the brief said.

The reasoning of the pro-abortion precedents did not take into account policy changes that better allow women to have both careers and families or the provision of “safe havens” to shelter newborn children without penalty. These precedents were based in outdated ideas about contraception effectiveness and access.

Any claim that preserving Roe and abortion access is critical to women’s advancement is a “demeaning view of women.” The claim “boils down to the view that millions of women have a meaningful life only because 50 years ago seven men in Roe saved them from despair—and that women’s success comes at the cost of ending innumerable human lives,” the brief argued.

“Women’s extensive political participation and share of the population ensure that they strongly influence public policy—and would do so without a judicially managed right to abortion,” the brief continued.

“This court has before it the strongest arguments for and against overruling— from the parties, the United States, and 130 amicus briefs exploring every relevant issue,” the brief said. “The fundamental question at issue here will keep returning until this court addresses it. This is the case to confront— and reject—Roe and Casey.”

Abducted Nigerian seminarians released

null / Courtesy photo.

Kafanchan, Nigeria, Oct 13, 2021 / 17:45 pm (CNA).

The three seminarians who were abducted Monday night from their seminary in Nigeria's Kaduna state have been released, the chancellor of the local Church confirmed on Wednesday.

“Barely 48 hours after their kidnap, our beloved brothers were released by their abductors,” Fr. Emmanuel Okolo, chancellor of the Diocese of Kafanchan, said in an Oct. 13 statement.

Fr. Okolo expressed gratitude to “all those that have offered prayers and entreaties for the quick release of our Seminarians and Others who are still in the dens of their kidnappers.”

Christ the King Major Seminary in Fayit, Fadam Kagoma, about 10 miles southwest of Kafanchan, was attacked by bandits around 7:30 pm Oct. 11.

The three seminarians who were abducted from the seminary chapel belong to the Apostles of Divine Charity and the Little Sons of the Eucharist, and are all in their fourth year of theology.

Christ the King Seminary houses more than 130 seminarians.

Six seminarians were injured in the attack. They were taken with some formators to a hospital in Kafanchan by “a dispatch of soldiers of the Operation Safe Haven.” The injured were treated and discharged after being confirmed to be stable.”

A priest of the Kafanchan diocese was kidnapped last month. Fr. Benson Bulus Luka was abducted from his residence Sept. 13, and released after little more than 24 hours.

And gunmen abducted four seminarians from Good Shepherd Seminary in Kaduna in January 2020, holding them for random. The kidnappers eventually released three of the seminarians, but killed 18-year-old Michael Nnadi after he refused to renounce his faith.

Kidnappings of Christians in Nigeria have multiplied in recent years, a situation that has prompted Church leaders to express serious concern about the security of their members and to call on the government to prioritize the security of its citizens.

Fulani herders, most of whom are Muslim, have had increasing conflict with largely Christian farmers over limited natural resources in Kaduna and other states in recent years, and the radical Islamist group Boko Haram continues to threaten safety in Nigeria's north.

Analysis: The Church in France must uphold the confessional seal

null / Pleuntje via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).

New York City, N.Y., Oct 13, 2021 / 17:10 pm (CNA).

The French bishops’ conference has seemingly tried to walk back the straightforward comments of the Bishop of Reims, who recently reiterated that the inviolability of the seal of confession, deriving from divine law, supersedes any law of the French Fifth Republic directing that it be broken.

The bishops’ comments came shortly after a report estimated that in France 216,000 children were abused by clerics, monks, or nuns from 1950 to 2020. The report recommended that the confessional seal be reconsidered in relation to abuse.

Below is an analysis of the situation written by Fr. Gerald E. Murray, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York who is pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church and who was awarded a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University:

The French Bishops Conference issued a statement on October 12, 2021 following a meeting between the President of the Conference, Bishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort and the French Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanin.

On October 6 Moulins-Beaufort had told France Info: “The confessional secret is and will remain an imperative for us and as such it is above the laws of the Republic.” The October 12 Statement apologized for Moulins-Beaufort’s defense of the supremacy of the secrecy of the confessional to any laws of the state: “Bishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort was able to discuss with Mr. Gerald Darmanin the clumsy phrasing of his response on France Info last Wednesday morning. The State has as its task to organize social life and regulate public order. For us Christians, faith appeals to the conscience of each person, she calls us to seek the good tirelessly, something which cannot be done without respecting the laws of his country.”

The Statement continued: “The widescale extent of sexual violence and assaults on minors revealed by the report of the CIASE demands of the Church that she restudy her practices in the light of this reality. Work is thus needed to reconcile the nature of confession and the necessity of protecting children.”

The apology is remarkable. Christians are called to respect the just laws of the State, and to resist unjust laws. The State has no right to interfere with the sacramental discipline of the Church. The relation between God and man in the administration of the sacraments of the  Church is not subject to state interference. That is a plain violation of the religious liberty of French Catholics.

Even more remarkable is the claim that the Church needs to “restudy’ (in French relire) her practice of safeguarding the secrecy of the confessional. No change in this ironclad discipline is possible. The nature of this sacrament, in which the penitent reveals his conscience by telling his sins to the priest and then receives absolution, requires that the priest make no revelation of those sins which he comes to know only in consideration of his divinely granted power to forgive those sins which the penitent has owned up to and repented of knowing that his confession will remain secret. His avowal of his sins is between him and God; the priest is God’s instrument and must keep silent about what he learns. He should instruct the penitent to own up to any crimes he may have committed by surrendering to the police, but he cannot go any further than that and must uphold the seal of confession.

The October 6 remarks of Bishop Moulins-Beaufort are unremarkable, and in no way clumsy, as they reflect the constant teaching and practice of the Church. The defense of the sacrament of Penance necessarily includes the inviolability of the seal of confession. Canon 983 states: “The sacramental seal is inviolable. Accordingly, it is absolutely wrong for a confessor in any way to betray the penitent, for any reason whatsoever, whether by word or in any other fashion.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches [#1467]: “Given the delicacy and greatness of this ministry and the respect due to persons, the Church declares that every priest who hears confessions is bound under very severe penalties to keep absolute secrecy regarding the sins that his penitents have confessed to him. He can make no use of knowledge that confession gives him about penitents' lives. This secret, which admits of no exceptions, is called the ‘sacramental seal,’ because what the penitent has made known to the priest remains ‘sealed’ by the sacrament.”

The pressure to deal with the horrible revelation of widespread sexual abuse of minors by priests in France must not lead to an attempt by the French bishops to destroy the absolute inviolability of the seal of confession.

Biden administration pushes death sentence for Boston bomber at Supreme Court  

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev / Public Domain

Washington D.C., Oct 13, 2021 / 16:03 pm (CNA).

The Supreme Court heard arguments on Wednesday, Oct. 13 concerning whether or not to reinstate a federal death sentence for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. 

Although he was sentenced to death in 2015, Tsarnaev’s sentence was overturned by a three-judge panel of the First Circuit Court of Appeals in July 2020. The panel unanimously found that he had not received a fair trial.

In May 2021, the Supreme Court agreed to reconsider the death sentence, and in June, the Biden administration asked the Supreme Court to sentence Tsarnaev to death. The Biden administration’s push to execute Tsarnaev came weeks before Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a moratorium on federal executions.

Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, the executive director of Catholic Mobilizing Network, an organization which seeks to end the death penalty and to promote restorative justice, told CNA that Wednesday’s arguments were a reminder “that the federal death penalty is an incredibly tumultuous, broken system that is almost always retruamatizing for victims of families.”

"We pray for Mr. Tsarnaev’s victims, their families, and the city of Boston today as they prepare for what will surely be another emotional ruling,” she said. 

During Wednesday’s arguments, Justice Amy Coney Barrett questioned what the “end game” of the federal government was in light of the execution moratorium. 

“So the government has declared a moratorium on executions, but you're here defending his death sentences,” said Barrett. “And if you win, presumably, that means that he is relegated to living under the threat of a death sentence that the government doesn't plan to carry out. So I'm just having trouble following the point.”

Eric Feigin, deputy solicitor general, replied that Attorney General Garland could “presumably” review “the current execution protocol.”

“And what we are asking here is that the sound judgment of 12 of Respondent's peers that he warrants capital punishment for his personal acts in murdering and maiming scores of innocents, and along with his brother, hundreds of innocents at the finish line of the Boston Marathon should be respected,” he said. 

In 2015, Tsarnaev was convicted on four murder charges and sentenced to death for orchestrating the bombing of the 2013 Boston Marathon with his brother Tamerlan. The bombing killed three and injured hundreds. 

During their ensuing run from police, the two brothers shot and killed one police officer, and another police officer died from injuries in a shootout with them. Tamerlan died after being run over by an SUV driven by Dzhokhar, while he was fleeing police.

Vaillancourt Murphy said it was “concerning” to see the Biden administration push to execute Tsarnaev, especially considering that President Joe Biden is the “first-ever president to openly oppose the death penalty” while actively serving as president.  

“The reality is, if Mr. Tsarnaev’s death sentence should remain overturned, he would never leave prison,” she said. “His execution would bring little healing to those he harmed, and would serve only as state-sponsored vengeance. We have other ways of keeping society safe than resorting to executions — methods that don’t violate the Church’s teachings on the sanctity of life and inherent dignity of the human person."

While the Obama, Trump, and Biden administrations have now all pushed for the federal death penalty for Tsarnaev, the Boston archdiocese has instead called for life in prison without parole.

“The pain and suffering caused to the victims of the bombing and to their loved ones is as clear and real today as it was nearly eight years ago,” the archdiocese told CNA in May. “As we have previously stated, Catholic teaching does not support the taking of life as a means of achieving justice.”

For Catholic school teachers, new credential program promises formation in faith and reason

Participants in the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education's Catholic Educator Formation and Credential Program at the headquarters of the Archdiocese of Denver. / Courtesy photo.

Denver, Colo., Oct 13, 2021 / 15:00 pm (CNA).

Catholic schools’ unique goals and qualities are the focus of a new program that aims to provide teachers with the formation and credentials for the task, and the Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of Denver are collaborating with the program.

“The men and women who have responded to a vocation in Catholic education deserve to be fed spiritually and intellectually to help them fulfill their ministerial role: to form joyful disciples of Jesus Christ,” Elizabeth Sullivan, executive director of the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education, told CNA Oct. 12.

The institute and the Archdiocese of Denver Catholic Schools on Oct. 7 announced the launch of the Catholic Educator Formation and Credential Program to help prepare “well-formed” Catholic school teachers.

Sullivan said the institute’s decades of teacher formation work have helped schools achieve renewal as “vibrant communities of faith and learning.”

“The credential program draws upon and expands this formation into an even deeper grounding in the riches of the Catholic intellectual tradition,” she said.

If new applicants for teaching positions in the Archdiocese of Denver Catholic Schools do not have a state teaching license, they can complete the formation and credential program instead.

The program consists of several requirements: five courses; two retreats or workshops; and supervised teaching over 18 months. Those who complete the program will receive the institute’s Catholic Educator Credential.

The pilot program launched in August with 28 participating teachers. The program aims to become nationally recognized, with its credentials recognized across dioceses. It draws on Church teaching on Catholic education, especially as presented in the book The Holy See’s Teaching on Catholic Schools, by Archbishop J. Michael Miller, C.S.B. of Vancouver.

The institute’s certification program aims to provide “a robust alternative to state teacher licensure that provides rich formation in the philosophy and practice of Catholic intellectual tradition, which is distinct from the secular approach,” Sullivan said.

“Many have not recognized that this pragmatic, utilitarian approach undermines the wonder and mystery at the heart of faith,” she told CNA. “In addition, contemporary education is failing to form students who can think well, speak well, and write well.”

Dr. Alyssan Barnes, the director of the institute’s credential program, said that the certification program teaches educators basics, including lesson planning, literacy instruction, and effective pedagogy. She said the program also goes beyond a utilitarian sense of “best practices” by “rooting these essentials in the human person made for holiness.”

“The Lord has called us to tend his sheep,” Barnes told CNA. “What we are doing in Catholic schools is exactly that: caring for the upcoming saints of the next generation. We believe these children need not only something more than what the public school is offering; they need a different paradigm to understand the world around them. We want to support their teachers so they can convey this gift.”

For Barnes, Catholic liberal education “puts the Christ as the Logos at the center” and all truths are “fragments of this Truth.”

“Our credential program seeks to recover the Catholic intellectual tradition of uniting faith and reason – a long tradition that has shaped our world for the better,” she said. “We grow educators in teaching skills, yes, but we also focus on something absolutely essential for the Catholic teacher: developing a sacramental imagination that sees truth as one, as accessible, as communicable.”

The formation program will help educators “fulfill their ministerial role and instill in their students the joyful hope that is the foundation for discipleship,” the joint statement from the Denver archdiocese’s schools and the institute said.

The Denver archdiocese has over 35 schools, about 800 teachers, and over 8,000 students.

The Institute for Catholic Liberal Education, based in Ventura, Calif., was founded in 1999 with the goal of renewing Catholic education. It aims to promote “the Church’s vision and practice of liberal learning, which puts Jesus Christ, the Logos, at the center of the content, pedagogy, and school culture.”

Its president and founder, Michael J. Van Hecke, served as headmaster of St. Augustine Academy in Ventura for 20 years. The institute’s board of directors includes Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles; Father John Belmonte, S.J., Superintendent of Catholic Education for the Diocese of Venice in Florida; and Mary Pat Donoghue, executive director of the Secretariat of Catholic Education for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Its board of advisors includes Archbishop Miller; Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect emeritus of the Apostolic Signatura; Bishop James Conley of Lincoln; and Sister Mary Anne Zuberbueler, O.P., principal of Mary Immaculate School in Dallas.

What was Sr. Lucia's advice after Fatima visions? Pray. Everyday.

Lucia dos Santos. Public Domain.

Fatima, Portugal, Oct 13, 2021 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

The niece of Fatima visionary Sr. Lucia dos Santos said her aunt was a normal person like everyone else, but shared some personal advice that her saintly relative used to give: to pray every single day.  

“She always asked me to pray the rosary every day, because there were many who did not pray,” Maria dos Anjos, niece of Fatima visionary Lucia dos Santos, told CNA.

“This was what Our Lady asked: that we pray the rosary every day. Because there were many who didn't pray and because of this many souls went to hell because there was no one to pray for them,” she said.

Anjos, who only saw her aunt when they went to visit her in the convent, said the advice Lucia always gave her was to pray daily, and “that I not forget.”

She recalled that in a few of the conversations she had with her aunt, she confessed to not finishing the rosary because she was tired, having worked hard in the fields all day.

In response, Lucia didn’t reproach, but instead told her to “always start it, and if you don’t finish, Our Lady will finish it.”

Anjos is the daughter of one of Lucia’s older sisters. She grew up in the house directly across the street from where Lucia and her family used to live.

While now there are paved streets and cars driving past the houses and tourist shops set up near Lucia’s house, which is now preserved as a museum and is open to the public for visits, Anjos said that when she was growing up, “there wasn’t anything here...just a mountain and some sheep and donkeys.”

Although she was only one year old at the time Lucia entered the convent, Anjos said her family would go to visit whenever they could.

Lucia, she said, “was a sister like the others. There was no difference. She was just like the other sisters who were in the convent,” and was always “joyful” – both as a child and as a religious sister.

Recalling memories that her mother had shared of her and Lucia’s childhood, Anjos said Lucia was a normal child like everyone else, and never lacked playmates.

“Many children came to play with her because their parents went to the wine estates and left their children here, because there was always someone at the house of Lucia’s mother who looked after the kids,” Anjos said.

Her grandmother and mother to Lucia, Maria Rosa Farreira, was a catechist, and would also teach the children who came to the house while their parents were away.

Faith was always a big part of their family, even before the apparitions, Anjos said, explaining that “we always prayed the rosary, we went to Mass every Sunday, we did what we saw that could be done.”

After the apparitions of Mary, “we continued, doing more, and remembering that Our Lady asked us to pray more and to make more sacrifices,” she said, jesting that “we do our homework well.”

She recalled being able to attend Mass with Pope John Paul II during one of his three visits to Fatima, saying she was able to receive communion from him alongside her aunt, Sister Lucia.

“When communion came, I received communion from his hands, from the hands of the Holy Father. I liked it a lot,” she said, adding “you always like good things, do you not?”

Though she wasn’t able to speak with John Paul, Anjos said she was still “very happy,” and also content to welcome Pope Francis during his May 12-13 visit for the centenary of the Fatima apparitions.

Noting an uptick in visits to the shrine, Anjos said that many people, her family included, would pray the rosary and visit the shrine after the apparitions, but “it seems that we have more devotion.”

“I think that faith has increased here and in the whole world,” she said. “At least I think it has, because many people come here, and that’s why we have to (pray) more and more. I think it did a lot of good for people to have Our Lady appear here.”

This article was originally published on CNA May 11, 2017.