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Cardinal Burke corrects LifeSiteNews: 'I have never worked with Steve Bannon'

Rome, Italy, Jun 25, 2019 / 12:45 pm (CNA).- In a statement today, Cardinal Raymond Burke issued a correction to a now-removed LifeSiteNews article, which claimed that Burke was collaborating with former President Donald Trump advisor Stephen Bannon on a film exposing homosexuality in the Vatican.

The film in question will be based off a book on the same subject by Frédéric Martel, entitled “In the Closet of the Vatican.”

“LifeSiteNews made no contact with me to verify my possible involvement,” Burke said in his June 25 statement. “Given the overall content of the article and given several statements made by Mr. Bannon in the article, I must make the following clear: I do not, in any way, agree with Mr. Bannon’s assessment of the book in question.”

“Furthermore, I am not at all of the mind that the book should be made into a film,” Burke added. “I disagree completely with a number of Mr. Bannon’s statements regarding the doctrine and discipline of the Roman Catholic Church.”

One of Burke’s main objections to Bannon’s assessment is his questioning of permanent celibacy for priests, which is “in accord with the example and desire of Christ, Head and Shepherd of the Church,” Burke noted.

The article, which has since been removed from LifeSiteNews, linked Burke with Bannon through their involvement in the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, of which Burke was named Honorary President several weeks ago.

Bannon, a well-known critic of Pope Francis, has been working with Dignitatis Humanae for several years, and has currently been working on building up a leadership training program and right-wing think tank within the institute for American and European Catholics, according to Reuters. Bannon also told Reuters that he is working on building up a populist national movement in Europe, in contrast to the European Union.

In September 2018, Burke told Reuters that he was looking forward to working with Bannon at the Institute to “to promote a number of projects that should make a decisive contribution to the defence of what used to be called Christendom.”

In his new statement, Burke clarified that he has “never worked with Mr. Bannon” in his populist nationalist organization, called The Movement, “and I am not presently doing so. I have met with him on occasion to discuss Catholic social teaching regarding certain political questions, but I have no part in his organization.”

“In meeting with him, as in meeting with other political leaders, I have tried to fulfill my mission as a priest to teach the faith and morals for the common good,” Burke said.

Burke said he stated concerns several times to other leaders at the Dignitatis Humanae Institute that it had strayed too far from its original work, which was “to support Christians in public life who act with respect for the moral law and, therefore, promote the common good.”

“While I have urged the Institute to return to its original purpose, it has not done so, as is evident in its involvement with this latest initiative of Mr. Bannon,” Burke said.

“I have, therefore, effective immediately, terminated any relationship with the Dignitatis Humanae Institute,” he concluded.

Maryland Christian school sues after being evicted from voucher program

Baltimore, Md., Jun 25, 2019 / 12:08 pm (CNA).- A Christian grade school in Maryland is filing a lawsuit after state officials denied it participation in a voucher program for low-income students and ordered it to reimburse the state for participating in the program in previous years.

“Bethel Christian Academy offers an academically rigorous and caring Christian education in a diverse environment,” said Alliance Defending Freedom legal counsel Christen Price in a statement.

“Unfortunately, Maryland bureaucrats are telling low-income students that this high-quality education can’t be an option for them due solely to the school’s religious beliefs. Worse still, the state is now demanding Bethel pay back over $100,000 from the two years it participated in the program, which would be a serious financial hardship for the school.”

Bethel Christian Academy is a faith-based grade school in the Baltimore area with some 280 students from more than 40 different countries, including recent immigrants. The school serves Christian students, as well as those of different religious affiliations, or none at all.

The Maryland Department of Education last year disqualified the academy from participating in the state’s Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today (BOOST) voucher program, which benefits low-income students in the area.

The department had previously requested to see the student handbooks of schools in the program. Bethel’s handbook includes a statement of Christian beliefs about marriage and sexuality.

In making its decision, the Department of Education cited a state law forbidding BOOST schools from discriminating in the admissions process on sexual orientation.

However, lawyers with Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing the academy, stressed that the school does not turn away any students based on their sexual orientation. Rather, it asks all of its grade school students to refrain from any kind of sexual conduct.

“While Bethel fully complied with the program’s requirements, Maryland let its hostility toward Bethel’s religious views, not the law, decide the school’s eligibility,” said legal counsel Christiana Holcomb. “Maryland’s families deserve better; that’s why we’re asking the court to address the state’s hostility.”

Bethel families were notified that they could no longer use the voucher at the academy just a few weeks before the start of the 2018-2019 school year. Several families had to remove their children from the school, because they could not afford to send them there without the voucher. One in five students at Bethel relies on some kind of financial aid.

In June 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a church-owned playground could not be excluded from a playground resurfacing reimbursement program run by the state solely on the grounds of being religious.

In that case, Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, the state of Missouri had argued that funding a church-run school violated state constitutional prohibitions on taxpayer funding of churches.

However, the Supreme Court held in a 7-2 ruling that excluding the religious-owned playground violated the Free Exercise Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Portland diocese to engage third-party system for reporting ethics violations

Portland, Maine, Jun 25, 2019 / 11:48 am (CNA).- The Diocese of Portland announced Tuesday it will be using a third-party reporting system for violations of its standards of ethical conduct, such as fraud or harassment.

“Several months ago, after hearing from people around the state, the diocese started the process of establishing this system for individuals to express their concerns in an easily accessible way,” Bishop Robert Deeley of Portland said June 25. “The system is organized to ensure that these reports will be handled in a timely and thorough manner.”

The system will be operated by Red Flag Reporting, an ethics, safety, fraud, and whistleblower hotline based in Akron. According to its website, it was founded “by one of the nation’s largest CPA firms.”

Reports of violations of the diocese's code of ethics will be made through Red Flag Reporting's website or telephone hotline. Red Flag will oversee the handling of each complaint by the diocese.

It is not meant to be used for reporting sexual abuse of minors; the Portland diocese indicated that in those cases, civil authorities and its head of professional responsibility should be contacted.

The reporting system could be used to report such ethical violations as fraud, misconduct, safety violations, harassment, or substance abuse at parishes, schools, or the chancery.

Bishop Deeley said that “To ensure transparency and the success of this initiative, the Church needs the committed involvement of the laity. In partnering with Red Flag Reporting, the diocese is offering stronger protections against problematic activity.”

“It is gratifying to report that the protocols already implemented in the Diocese of Portland regarding the safety of children, through the vigilance of both clergy and laity, have helped to make our Church a safer place for all. Since many of the procedures began in 2002, there have been no substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor by a cleric in the Diocese of Portland. We have similar hope for this new system of accountability.”

Doctors promised disabled woman 'new doll' after planned forced abortion

London, England, Jun 25, 2019 / 11:02 am (CNA).- Following a decision by the Court of Appeals in England to overturn an order for a forced abortion on a disabled woman, new details have emerged about the case.

Lawyers told the appeal court Monday that doctors had prepared the woman for the enforced abortion by promising her a new doll after the procedure. 

Fiona Paterson, the barrister representing the National Health Service (NHS) hospital trust that cares for the woman, told the appeal court on Monday that doctors had informed the woman that “she would go to sleep” and that “she would have an operation and when she woke up the baby would no longer be in her tummy.” 

To try to placate the woman, who did not wish to undergo the procedure, doctors told her that she would be given a new doll to play with after undergoing the abortion.

Observing that the woman had previously been given a doll, Paterson said that doctors thought “the prospect of a new [doll] might be very appealing to her.”

The woman is reported to have a "mental age" of between six and nine years old, as well as a mood disorder. She was 22 weeks pregnant at the time the case was decided at the Court of Protection on June 21. 

Both the woman, who cannot be named because of privacy restrictions, and her mother are described as being of Nigerian descent, Catholic, and opposed to abortion. 

On Friday, Mrs Justice Nathalie Lieven ruled that an abortion would be the “best interest” of the woman, despite the her own objections and those of her mother (a former midwife) and her social worker. Doctors said they were concerned that the woman would be unable to physically or emotionally handle labor, or the recovery from a cesarean section. 

The court-ordered abortion was overturned on June 24, after the pregnant woman’s mother petitioned the Court of Appeal. The three appeal justices--Justices Richard McCombe, Eleanor King, and Peter Jackson, said they would explain their reasoning for their decision in the future. 

“I have to operate in [her] best interests, not on society's views of termination,” Lieven said at the time of her original ruling. Lieven had previsouly acted as a legal repreetative for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, the UK abortion provider, and argued in court that abortion restrictions in Northern Ireland were analogous to “torture.”

The woman’s mother made clear that she would care for her grandchild, but Lieven rejected this argument as she said it would be too complicated and risky for the child, and the potential removal of the child from the woman’s custody would be more traumatic than if she underwent an abortion. 

In her ruling, Lieven said that she did not believe the woman had the ability to understand what being pregnant meant. 

“I think she would like to have a baby in the same way she would like to have a nice doll,” she said. 

The case’s handling has proved controversial. Over 75,000 people signed a petition requesting that the UK’s health secretary intervene. 

A spokesperson for the pro-life group Right To Life UK, Clare McCarthy, welcomed the decision by the appeal court but cautioned that the decision would not protect mothers or children in similar circumstances.

“Unfortunately, we fear that this is not a one-off case,” McCarthy said.

“We are calling on the Department of Health to urgently reveal how many women have been forced to have an abortion in the UK over the last 10 years and make it clear how they will ensure it will not happen again.”

Brooklyn diocese advances sainthood cause of local priest

New York City, N.Y., Jun 25, 2019 / 03:01 am (CNA).- The Bishop of Brooklyn accepted last week the findings of a nine-year diocesan investigation into the life of Monsignor Bernard John Quinn, known for fighting bigotry and serving the African American population, as part of his cause for canonization.

The information will be sent to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio received the findings at a Vespers service at the Immaculate Conception Center in Queens.

Msgr. Quinn “combatted racism and is an inspiration to the priests of this diocese,” Bishop DiMarzio said. “He is a hero who turned things around and gave his life for his people, died an early death, and was a great man.”

Quinn was born in Newark in 1888, and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn in 1912.

In 1922, he established St. Peter Claver parish, Brooklyn's first church for African American Catholics

Six years later, he established Little Flower Orphanage for African American orphanage in Wading River on Long Island. The building was twice set on fire.

Quinn's great-niece, Mary Clare Quinn, said: “The family was all very proud of the work he was doing at Little Flower, and we all contributed during the winters and summers, going out there to help. They used to burn crosses at our house in Mineola, even after he was gone, but my family stared fear down.”

Msgr. Paul Jervis, postulator for Quinn's cause, said the priest “could not separate his sacramental ministry from the social and political realities that denied to people on account of their race, or immigrant status, the opportunities to enjoy the fullness of life as the Lord willed for all humanity.”

“St. Peter Claver Catholic Church became a meeting ground where white Catholics encountered blacks and discovered that they all had a common humanity with the same human problems, and were all in need of the intercession of St. Therese and the pastoral intercession of Monsignor Quinn,” he said.

Quinn died in 1940 at the age of 52.

The diocesan phase of his cause for canonization was opened in June 2010. At that time, Bishop DiMarzio said that Quinn's ministry “did not end upon his death but has continued to grow and take root in the hearts and souls of the faithful and clergy of this church in New York, which has continually ministered to the poor and oppressed.”