Browsing News Entries

Pope Francis prays for victims of Gaylord tornado

Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square March 14, 2018. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Denver Newsroom, May 24, 2022 / 14:20 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis expressed his closeness on Tuesday to the victims of a tornado that struck Gaylord last week, killing two people.

“Saddened to learn of the tragic loss of life and destruction caused by the tornado which struck the Gaylord community in recent days, His Holiness Pope Francis expresses heartfelt solidarity with all affected by this natural disaster,” a telegram sent May 24 on behalf of the pope stated.

“He also offers the assurance of prayers for the dead, the injured and displaced and those engaged in relief efforts,” the cable continued.

A tornado with winds of 150 mph struck the Michigan town May 20. More than 44 people were hospitalized as a result of the disaster.

Bishop Jeffrey Walsh of Gaylord said May 20, “Our prayerful solidarity is extended to all who have been affected by the afternoon storm. We are grateful to God that our diocesan and Cathedral staff came through the storm safely. Staff was sheltering in the basement as a tornado hit a few hundred yards away.”

He noted the chancery, cathedral, and St. Mary Cathedral school were spared damage.

“There will be much work to rebuild our community in the days, weeks and months ahead. Your prayers are appreciated,” Walsh added.

Parishes of the Diocese of Gaylord will take up a special collection May 28-29 to aid those affected by the tornado.

“As we work to restore and rebuild, the community response has been truly inspirational. Countless volunteers, utility workers, first responders and people from both Gaylord and outside the area have accomplished much already, and it is our hope to do our part as a Catholic community in providing spiritual and material assistance in the ongoing recovery efforts,” Walsh said May 23.

Baby formula shortage: Pro-life pregnancy centers offer aid to moms

Leon is a baby boy cared for and loved at Mary's Shelter, a pro-life maternity home in Fredericksburg, Virginia. / Courtesy of Mary's Shelter

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 24, 2022 / 13:15 pm (CNA).

Amid a shortage of baby formula in the U.S., experts recommend parents scour smaller drug stores, check online, and join social media groups sharing information.

But here’s another, perhaps lesser-known, option they can also turn to for help: pregnancy resource centers.

Nearly 3,000 pro-life pregnancy centers serve millions of people each year in the United States. They offer women and parents in need everything from health care and material assistance to educational classes and job support — at little to no cost. Right now, for many of these centers, their work also includes connecting struggling families to baby formula. 

One center in Michigan, an affiliate of Heartbeat International, a pro-life pregnancy resource center network, revealed to CNA that it has a surplus of formula. 

“At this time, we haven’t heard of formula shortages at the pregnancy centers,” Andrea Trudden, vice president of communications and marketing at Heartbeat International, told CNA. “Quite the contrary, actually!”

Trudden recommended families turn to their local pregnancy help organizations for assistance and use OptionLine.org as a tool to find the center closest to them. 

“Since pregnancy centers are equipped to help pregnant women and new families with practical resources such as diapers and formula,” Trudden said, “they have been able to step into that gap during this time.” 

Some pro-life maternity homes in states such as Virginia and North Carolina said mothers are in desperate need and exploring all of their options, including feeding their babies with formula samples. But, these homes tell CNA, they are walking with mothers in their search, every step of the way.

What is this shortage about?

The nationwide baby formula shortage was caused, and then exacerbated, by a series of factors: supply-chain issues, recalls, the closure of a major production plant in February, and even U.S. trade policy. The result, data-firm company Datasembly found, is that more than 40 percent of baby formulas were out of stock in early May.

Babies with special needs and allergies rely on formula, along with babies in general. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 63.3% of infants were exclusively breastfeeding seven days after birth in 2018. Three months after birth, only 46.3% of infants exclusively breastfed. Six months after birth, that percentage changed to 25.8%

The trouble with formula began partially with the Covid-19 pandemic. Parents stockpiled baby formula at the beginning, which increased production, only to later discover that they had a surplus to use up, which decreased production. 

After consuming formula from an Abbott plant in Sturgis, Michigan, four babies became sick, including two who died, from bacterial infections. This led to a recall and the plant shutting down in February.

These incidents exposed the formula market as one not structurally prepared for emergencies, with just four companies largely in control of supply in the United States. U.S. and regulatory trade policy only added to the problem, restricting the exchange of formula internationally, The Atlantic reported. 

Months into the shortage, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reached an agreement with Abbott, one of the largest U.S. baby formula manufacturers, to reopen its Sturgis plant in the coming weeks. President Joe Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to prioritize the production of formula. And, in the meantime, the U.S. military has begun importing formula from Europe.

Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have called for action. Senate Democrats are pushing a bill that would send $28 million in emergency funding to the FDA. Congress passed, and Biden signed into law, a bill to expand access to formula for lower-income families during emergencies.

In the meantime, before the shelves are fully stocked once more, pregnancy centers and maternity homes around the country are helping parents in need.

Michigan

Helping Hands Pregnancy Resource Center, located in Hillsdale, Michigan, told CNA it has extra baby formula ready and waiting for parents in need.

“I have never seen this much formula. We have an overflow!” Lois Stoll, a volunteer who manages the formula supply at the center, said in a press release. The center, one of Heartbeat International’s 1,857 affiliate locations, accumulated its surplus over the last two years, during the pandemic. 

“It really is the result of an unexpected set of circumstances,” Bryce Asberg, the executive director, added in the release. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of clients fell but donations continued to come in.”

Baby formula is stored on shelves at Helping Hands Pregnancy Resource Center in Hillsdale, Michigan. Courtesy of Helping Hands
Baby formula is stored on shelves at Helping Hands Pregnancy Resource Center in Hillsdale, Michigan. Courtesy of Helping Hands

Asberg told CNA that the center has been running a material assistance program for several years where it provides mothers and families with baby clothes, diapers, wipes, and baby food or formula.

“We still offer all those items to clients who come in, but recently we have noticed a surge of interest in formula,” he said. “God has been building our supply of formula for many months, and we didn’t know why we had so much. Now we do!”

Washington, D.C.

In Washington, D.C., Janet Durig, the executive director of Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center, said that her center also has baby formula on hand.

“We’ve had some phone calls seeking help and we’ve had formula to give them,” she told CNA. But, she emphasized, the supply is limited because they rely on donations. 

“We have it to help people on a limited basis and are helping people on a limited basis,” she said, adding that the center welcomes donations of unopened bottles or cans of formula as long as they have not expired. 

Connecticut 

Leticia Velasquez, executive director and co-founder of Pathways Pregnancy in Norwich, Connecticut, encouraged moms and families to reach out if they need formula. 

She told CNA that the three-year-old center is there for any woman or mom in need. 

“We just say, ‘How can we fill the need? That’s what we’re here for,’” she said. “We definitely stand with them in any crisis, whether it be a formula shortage or an unplanned pregnancy.”

Parents in eastern Connecticut looking for baby formula can text the center at (860) 222-4505.

North Carolina 

Debbie Capen, the executive director of MiraVia, said that the baby formula shortage is affecting her group’s work in supporting and providing resources to new moms in need. The Catholic nonprofit runs an outreach center in Charlotte and a free college residence at nearby Belmont Abbey College where a pregnant student — from any university or college — can stay until her child turns two years old.

“Yes, the mothers we serve are very concerned about the baby formula shortage,” Capen told CNA. “We always encourage breastfeeding for our expectant mothers, but for those who cannot breastfeed, they usually rely on vouchers for baby formula through the USDA’s WIC program.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s WIC program, also known as the “Special Supplementation Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children,” offers federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant and postpartum women, and young children at nutritional risk.

Capen highlighted that WIC only covers one specific brand of formula, which means that moms must pay full price for any other label. Formula is at a premium price right now, she added, which only puts more stress on their limited resources.

In each state, baby formula manufacturers bid for exclusive rights to provide formula to WIC participants in that state. In return, they offer the state discounts, or rebates. For those who rely on WIC, this means that they face limited options.

In response to the scarcity, the mothers at MiraVia are turning to alternatives: food pantries and the MiraVia community.

“They communicate with our staff and each other when they find formula at a certain location, as well as contact stores to find out when shipments are expected,” Capen said. “They substitute with generic brands when possible and reach out to their pediatricians for recommendations and even free samples.”

Capen listed some ways that people can help during this shortage, beginning with communication and the sharing of resources.   

“For example, you can help by searching posts on social media and community apps like NextDoor or OfferUp to find those with formula and suggest where it can be donated,” she said. “Remind friends and family not to stockpile so that the supply of formula can flow to those in most urgent need. If you are pregnant and have received free samples of formula, donate what you won’t use to food pantries or programs for new mothers.”

Virginia

Kathleen Wilson, the executive director of Mary's Shelter, a faith-centered maternity home in Fredericksburg, Virginia, agreed that “our moms have had many difficulties.” 

She told CNA about one of their mothers who gave birth to her fourth baby three months ago. At first, she used a formula brand called Enfamil Reguline. After it became unavailable, she began switching between brands and using whatever she can find, Wilson said. The mother has also tried ordering on Amazon and turned to her pediatrician for samples. 

Yaretzi is a baby girl cared for and loved at Mary's Shelter, a pro-life maternity home in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Courtesy of Mary's Shelter
Yaretzi is a baby girl cared for and loved at Mary's Shelter, a pro-life maternity home in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Courtesy of Mary's Shelter

“This is a mom who is trying to hold down a job, with an infant and other children to tend to,” Wilson stressed the “very difficult” situation.

Wilson said that two of the other mothers spent days driving around at one point to try to find formula for their babies. When necessary, they are also turning to sample packets of baby formula.

"Our staff and volunteers have been assisting with this and picking up and delivering formula when they can get their hands on it,” Wilson said, adding that donors have also pitched in.

“We are blessed with wonderful donors,” she said. “A friend just stopped in this morning with two cans of formula that he was able to find.”

“If donors are willing and can find formula, we would be thrilled to take their donation,” she said, concluding that she is “praying this comes to an end soon.”

Nancy Pelosi doubles down on abortion support in response to Communion ban 

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” on May 24, 2022. / Screenshot via MSNBC’s YouTube channel

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 24, 2022 / 12:13 pm (CNA).

Responding publicly for the first time to her archbishop barring her from Holy Communion in her home diocese, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi remained defiant Tuesday in her support of abortion.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone announced May 20 that the California Democrat may no longer receive Holy Communion in the Archdiocese of San Francisco after publicly supporting abortion as a Catholic politician. His decision, Cordilenoe said, is a pastoral one and not political.

Over the years, Pelosi has defended abortion while citing her Catholic faith. The Catholic Church considers abortion — the destruction of a human person — a grave evil.

On Tuesday, Pelosi gave no indication that her position on abortion, and how she speaks about it as a Catholic, will change.

“I wonder about the death penalty, which I am opposed to. So is the Church. But they take no action against people who may not share their view,” she said during MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show.

Pelosi did not say whether she intends to continue to present herself for Communion. Cordileone’s order is only applicable within the San Francisco Archdiocese, and although Cardinal Wilton Gregory of the Archdiocese of Washington has not commented publicly about Cordileone’s action, he has not instructed priests to refuse Communion to anyone

Pelosi reportedly took Holy Communion at the 9 a.m. Sunday Mass on May 22 at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown, according to Politico Playbook, but the report did not identify the source of that information. A spokeswoman for the parish on Tuesday referred media questions about the report to the Archdiocese of Washington, which did not respond to CNA’s request for comment.  

In response to Cordileone’s actions, Bishop Robert Vasa of the Diocese of Santa Rosa, California — where Pelosi’s Napa vacation home is located — has said that he, too, will bar Pelosi from Holy Communion

During her appearance on “Morning Joe,” Pelosi directly mentioned Cordileone once, to criticize him for being “vehemently against LGBTQ rights.” 

Host Joe Scarborough praised the speaker for living out the Gospel of Matthew by serving the “truly disadvantaged.” 

Jesus does not mention abortion in the Gospels, Scarborough said. Instead, in Matthew 25, Jesus told his disciples “we would be welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven if we gave water to the thirsty, fed the hungry, clothed the poor, and brought hope to the hopeless,” he said. 

Pelosi claimed, without further explanation, that pro-life people largely reject this Gospel message. 

“Thank you for referencing the Gospel of Matthew, which is sort of the agenda of the Church that is rejected by many who side with them on terminating a pregnancy,” she said. You can watch the interview in the video below.

Pelosi also appeared to refer to the leaked Supreme Court draft in the abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which signals that justices are preparing to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that legalized abortion nationwide.

“This decision taking us to privacy and precedent is very dangerous in the lives of so many of the American people,” she said. “And, again, not consistent with the Gospel of Matthew.”

At another point, the speaker referenced her Catholic background.

“I come from a largely pro-life Italian-American Catholic family, so I respect people’s views about that,” she said, referring to abortion. “But I don’t respect us foisting it onto others.”

Pelosi also claimed that, as a Catholic, she has tried in vain to speak with Republicans in the past about supporting “what the Catholic Church was asking us to do for global family planning, natural family planning, which our law allows to happen.”

“I think it’s very insulting to women to have their ability to make their own decision hampered by politics,” Pelosi commented. “This should never have been politicized.”

Pelosi called abortion a “cover for a lot of other things that the far right wants to accomplish” and concluded that, now, a “woman’s decision” regarding abortion is a “kitchen table issue.”

Roberta Drury, a Catholic victim of Buffalo shooting, 'reflected God's love'

Roberta Drury, 32, who was killed in a shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, May 14, 2022. / Drury family

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 24, 2022 / 11:39 am (CNA).

Roberta Drury, one of the victims of the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, was remembered at her funeral Mass on Saturday for her many admirable qualities, including her “smile that could light up a room.”

A White gunman killed 10 Black people on May 14 at a supermarket. Another three persons were injured in the shooting.

According to her obituary, “Robbie” Drury, 32, had been living in Buffalo for 10 years, caring for her brother, who is recovering from leukemia.

During his homily at Drury’s May 21 funeral Mass at Assumption Catholic Church in Syracuse, New York, Father Nicholas Spano, O.F.M. Conv., said Christ’s disciples have the mission of reflecting the light of God, adding that Drury “embraced this mission” and “lived it every day.”

Spano said that Drury “reflected God's love every time she cared for her brother, every time she greeted someone in her neighborhood around her street, every time she talked with friends and family she was that light that shown through whatever darkness might have been present.”

“Roberta had a perseverance and a tenacity that was both inspirational and enviable,” Spano said at the Mass. “Because of what she experienced, she was able to be the instrument of God's peace as she became that light in the darkness.”

Spano said that “There are no words to fully express the depth and breadth of this tragedy.” He added that on the day of the shooting “our corner of the world was changed forever. Lives ended. Dreams shattered. And our state was plunged into mourning.”

Spano said that Drury has “left us a lasting gift,” which is “her example of being light in the darkness.” 

“So, as we go forth from this place we're challenged by our faith and by Roberta's example to be a light in this world,” he said.

The casket of Roberta Drury, the youngest of those killed during the mass shooting at the Buffalo Tops supermarket on May 14th, is brought out following the funeral at Assumption Church on May 21, 2022 in Syracuse, New York. Drury, who was 32, had walked to the Tops market to pick up groceries for her mother when she was gunned down along with nine others in what is being described as an act of white supremacy. 18-year-old Payton Gendron is accused of the mass shooting that killed 10 people at the Tops grocery store on the east side of Buffalo on May 14th and is being investigated as a hate crime. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
The casket of Roberta Drury, the youngest of those killed during the mass shooting at the Buffalo Tops supermarket on May 14th, is brought out following the funeral at Assumption Church on May 21, 2022 in Syracuse, New York. Drury, who was 32, had walked to the Tops market to pick up groceries for her mother when she was gunned down along with nine others in what is being described as an act of white supremacy. 18-year-old Payton Gendron is accused of the mass shooting that killed 10 people at the Tops grocery store on the east side of Buffalo on May 14th and is being investigated as a hate crime. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Spano noted that some have questioned “in their grief, where was God?”

“My brothers and sisters, as Christians, we believe that God was there. God was present, as he always is with them in their moments of suffering,” he answered. “He himself, suffering, alongside those killed by hate, violence, and evil.”

“Roberta and her companions did not die alone nor in the absence of love,” he said. “But rather in that tragic moment, were ushered into the hands of a loving God. In an instant they moved from this imperfect world, to a place of peace and light.”

“We can say this,” he added, “because we believe in a God who not only took on our humanity at the moment of his incarnation, but ultimately embraced the darkest dimensions of humanity on Good Friday.”

Spano said that “to us our loved ones appear dead, but they are now alive with God.”

Reflecting on the Mass’s scripture reading from the eleventh chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, Spano said that “Jesus leaves us with those words of assurance and hope that in him and in him alone, we find our rest.”

He continued: “Rest from our struggles, rest from our pain, rest from our suffering. In that moment when we cross over into the eternal light of Jesus, we enter into a place where love [is] experienced to an unparalleled proportion, hate is forever banished and suffering is no more.”

Spano questioned “As a family, as a church, as New Yorkers, how do we as people of faith respond to the reality of darkness in our world?”

He answered by citing the late civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who “once wrote: ‘darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.’” 

Spano also said that Christ’s call to forgiving others is “echoed in the words of Martin Luther King Jr.: ‘forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a permanent attitude.’”

Spano said that for Catholics “memory is a crucial aspect of our faith. For us to remember is not only to keep alive but to make present. We enter into this mystery … every time we celebrate the Eucharist.”

“It's in the Eucharist that we see the power of memory,” he said. “When we celebrate the Lord's meal, and we do it in memory of him, we make present the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus in our midst, the entire Paschal Mystery at once,” he said.

“Each time we think of Roberta remembering her kindness, remembering her love for family and friends, her perseverance, her tenacity, and most of all that smile that could light up a room,” he said, “we make present once again that reality.”

Archbishop Cordileone responds to criticism that he's 'politicizing the Eucharist'

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone / EWTN News Nightly Screenshot

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 23, 2022 / 19:47 pm (CNA).

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone on Monday responded to criticism that he is “politicizing” the Eucharist by denying Nancy Pelosi Holy Communion, saying he would prefer the Democratic House Speaker remain in office “and become an advocate for life in the womb."

"What does it mean to politicize the Holy Eucharist if one is following Church teaching and applying Church teaching?” Cordileone said in an interview with EWTN News’ Erik Rosales that aired May 23 on “EWTN News Nightly.”

“One would have to demonstrate that one is doing that for a political purpose,” the archbishop said.

“I've been very clear all along, my purpose is pastoral, not political,” he added. “I am not campaigning for anyone for office. As a matter of fact, my preference would be for Speaker Pelosi to remain in office and become an advocate for life in the womb."

On Friday, Cordileone announced that he had notified Pelosi, who describes herself as a devout Catholic, that until she publicly repudiates her support for abortion, she should not be admitted to Holy Communion in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, her home diocese, nor should she present herself for Communion. 

Cordileone told Rosales that he has not received any response from Pelosi so far. Nor has the 82-year-old speaker issued any public statements about the Communion ban as of yet. You can watch Cordileone’s interview in the video below.

As of May 23, at least a dozen U.S. bishops have publicly supported Cordileone’s action, which only applies within the San Francisco Archdiocese. Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila called Cordileone “a shepherd with the heart and mind of Christ, who truly desires to lead others towards Christ’s love, mercy, and promise of eternal salvation.”  

Cardinal Wilton Gregory of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., where Pelosi spends much of her time, has not commented publicly on Cordileone's action, but has indicated in the past that he does not intend to deny Communion to Catholic politicians who actively promote abortion and other policies at odds with Church teaching.

Cordileone told Rosales that politicizing the Eucharist can even occur “in reverse.” One could “receive Communion as a means to furthering a political agenda, when one is motivated for that reason,” he said. “So it cuts both ways.”

Cordileone noted that many Catholics don’t understand Church teaching on the Eucharist, “what it is, who it is, and what the proper disposition is to receive it, what it means to receive the most Holy Eucharist.”

He added that he wanted to help Catholics understand “the grave evil of abortion and what it means to cooperate with evil on the different levels.”

“I wanted to be clear in laying out that teaching,” he said.

‘Aggressive’ abortion stance

Rosales said that Cordileone told him his decision is not related to the recent leak of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion that shows the court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark case that legalized abortion nationwide. 

However, Rosales said that Cordileone was “motivated by Speaker Pelosi's reaction to the Texas Heartbeat Law,” which bans most abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, at about six weeks gestation.

“That's when Speaker Pelosi became very outspoken and aggressive — I'll use that word — in vowing to codify the Roe vs Wade decision into federal law,” Cordileone told Rosales, referring to her ardent support for the Women’s Health Protection Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives but failed to garner enough votes in the Senate

“So it would guarantee open, unqualified access to abortion for all 9 months, all through out the country,” Cordileone said. “This was very alarming, very disturbing.”

It was at this time that Cordileone began the “Rose and Rosary for Nancy” campaign, asking Catholics to pray and fast to soften her heart for the unborn.

Cordileone said that Pelosi frequently speaks fondly of her five grown children.

“I think she has a maternal heart, there is a real sensitivity there,” he said.

“So I asked people to pray and fast for her and I've been trying to meet with her. Ever since then I've made several attempts to speak with her. I've either been denied or just received no response.”

Cordileone added that Pelosi “knew in advance that I would make this announcement if she did not repudiate her position on abortion or at least not refer to her Catholic faith and not go to Communion.”

Rosales brought up Pelosi’s recent October meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican and asked whether the pope should take a greater stance on the issue.

“I think Pope Francis has taken a very strong stance on this,” Cordileone said. “He's been very outspoken about the evil of abortion. He sees how everything is interconnected.”

 Citing Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’, Cordileone said the pope “talks about the interconnectedness of it all. He brings up this issue that care for the environment, care for our common home also includes care for the poor and the vulnerable, including life in the womb, and he compares it to hiring a hitman to solve the problem.”

Judge blocks auction of Dorothy's Wizard of Oz dress, over Catholic University's objections

The Dorothy dress at the center of the dispute. / Bonhams

Denver Newsroom, May 23, 2022 / 18:50 pm (CNA).

The Catholic University of America cannot auction a dress from the Wizard of Oz until a court resolves a legal challenge about its ownership, a federal judge has said.

The university had scheduled an auction of the dress worn by Judy Garland for the classic movie in hopes of raising more than $1 million for its drama department. The legal challenge comes from Wisconsin resident Barbara Ann Hartke, 81, a niece of a Dominican priest and drama professor at the university. She says that the dress should be hers because she is the priest’s closest living relative.

Judge Paul Gardephe, in a May 23 temporary injunction, ruled that the niece’s lawsuit had enough merit to proceed. He blocked the planned auction until the lawsuit challenging ownership of the dress is legally settled through proceedings in Manhattan federal court. He has set another hearing in June. The ruling could postpone the sale of the dress for months or years, the Washington Post reports.

Mercedes McCambridge, an Oscar-winning actress and artist-in-residence at Catholic University in 1973, had given the dress to Father Gilbert Hartke, O.P., the founder and head of the university’s drama school. In the late 1980s, the dress went missing and the costume became the subject of rumor. Matt Ripa, a lecturer and operations coordinator for the university’s drama department, happened upon a bag atop faculty mailboxes in 2021. He opened the bag to find a shoebox, inside of which was the dress.

Barbara Ann Hartke’s lawsuit has support from at least one other relative of Hartke, who was one of six siblings. However, the university filed affidavits from other relatives who say Hartke told them the dress belonged to the university.

The university also filed an affidavit from Father Kenneth R. Letoile, O.P., the Prior Provincial of the Province of St. Joseph, who explained that the Dominican priest had made a vow of poverty and not allowed to possess anything as personal property. Any gifts to him should have proceeded to the province, and the province did not claim ownership of the Wizard of Oz dress.

Fr. Gilbert Hartke holds a dress gifted to him that Judy Garland wore as Dorothy Gale in the 1939 film ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Courtesy of The Catholic University of America.
Fr. Gilbert Hartke holds a dress gifted to him that Judy Garland wore as Dorothy Gale in the 1939 film ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Courtesy of The Catholic University of America.

Shawn Brenhouse, an attorney for Catholic University, said the university will continue to defend its right to sell the dress, the proceeds of which are planned to support the drama school.

“The Court’s decision to preserve the status quo was preliminary and did not get to the merits of Barbara Hartke’s claim to the dress,” he said, according to the Washington Post. “We look forward to presenting our position, and the overwhelming evidence contradicting Ms. Hartke’s claim, to the Court in the course of this litigation.”

In court papers, Barbara Ann Hartke’s attorney Anthony Scordo III argued that his client could show that Father Hartke’s estate was the rightful owner of the dress. McCambridge had “specifically and publicly” given the dress to the priest and the dress is “therefore an asset of decedent’s estate.”

Gardephe rejected the university’s argument that the dress must be sold urgently so that potential buyers would not lose interest. He cited the enduring popularity of the film and said that controversy over the dress has generated more interest.

According to the auction company Bonhams, Judy Garland wore the gingham dress while filming a scene in which her character Dorothy Gale faces the Wicked Witch of the West in the witch’s castle.

The dress from the 1939 movie is one of only two existing dresses that retains its white blouse. It is now valued at an estimated $800,000 to $1.2 million, Bonhams said. Another surviving dress was auctioned for $1.5 million in 2015.

The university had said that proceeds from the sale of the dress would endow a faculty chair, a position that will support the current bachelor of fine arts degree in acting for theater, film, and television, as well as the development of a new formal film acting program at the university’s Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art.

Dr. Jacqueline Leary-Warsaw, Dean of the School of Music, Drama and Art of The Catholic University of America, is the wife of Michael Warsaw, chairman and CEO of the EWTN Global Catholic Network, Catholic News Agency’s parent network.

DC archdiocese mistakenly gives candid response on Pelosi Communion denial

Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington takes possession of Immacolata Concezione di Maria a Grottarossa in Rome, Sept. 27, 2021 / Courtney Mares.

Denver Newsroom, May 23, 2022 / 17:43 pm (CNA).

The Archdiocese of Washington’s communications office erroneously told a reporter Monday that media requests related to Nancy Pelosi’s denial of Holy Communion by her bishop “will be ignored.”

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, the local ordinary of U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, announced Friday that Pelosi may not be admitted to Holy Communion in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, nor should she present herself to receive the Eucharist, until she publicly repudiates her longstanding support for abortion. 

Since Cordileone’s announcement, numerous bishops have publicly made their support for Cordileone’s action known. Bishop Robert Vasa of Santa Rosa — which includes a vacation home of Pelosi’s in Napa — has said that he, too, will uphold Cordileone’s decision not to admit her to communion and has instructed his priests as such.  

A reporter writing for the Washington Examiner had contacted the Archdiocese of Washington, led by Cardinal Wilton Gregory, for a comment on the matter, since Pelosi spends much of her time in the nation’s capital. The reporter received an emailed response from the communications office, apparently sent in error. 

“Just sharing for you to know what comes in,” the email reads. “Email since Saturday, when I last checked the comms inbox has just been a couple of random people wanting to tell the Cardinal to bring down the hammer on Pelosi. Aside from Jack Jenkins at [Religion News Service], this is the only new media inquiry. It will be ignored, too.”

When the Examiner requested clarification, archdiocese spokesperson Patricia Zapor told the reporter that Cardinal Gregory would not be commenting publicly on the matter. 

“I apologize for the mistaken email. We have not been responding to inquiries on this topic because Cardinal Gregory's position has not changed from what he has said in the past,” the followup email reads. 

“Cardinal Gregory has no new comment about the issue of Catholic politicians receiving Communion. The actions of Archbishop Cordileone are his decision to make in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Cardinal Gregory has not instructed the priests of The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington to refuse Communion to anyone.”

Pelosi has long advocated for the legalization of abortion and announced in September 2021 that she would seek to codify Roe. v. Wade into U.S. law. Despite the ban on her receiving in San Francisco and Santa Rosa, Pelosi reportedly received Communion May 22 during Mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown, in the Archdiocese of Washington. 

Cardinal Gregory told a reporter — Jack Jenkins at Religion News Service — in 2020 that he would not deny Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians. 

During the U.S. bishops’ spring meeting in June 2021, Gregory cautioned against drafting a teaching document on the Eucharist that would include language on worthiness to receive Communion, especially among Catholic public figures. Some bishops critical of the motion warned that it would be interpreted as a partisan denunciation of pro-abortion Catholic politicians, especially President Joe Biden.

In a May 20 letter addressed to lay Catholics, Cordileone explained that he issued the instruction in accordance with canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law, which states that those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” 

“After numerous attempts to speak with her to help her understand the grave evil she is perpetrating, the scandal she is causing, and the danger to her own soul she is risking, I have determined that the point has come in which I must make a public declaration that she is not to be admitted to Holy Communion unless and until she publicly repudiate her support for abortion ‘rights’ and confess and receive absolution for her cooperation in this evil in the sacrament of Penance,” Cordileone wrote in the letter.

This is the prayer that Catholics are asked to say for the Church in China on May 24

St. Francis Xavier statue in front St. Joseph Cathedral in Beijing, China, February 25, 2016. / Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 23, 2022 / 17:03 pm (CNA).

In 2007 Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed May 24, the feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, to be a World Day of Prayer for the Church in China, which venerates the Blessed Virgin Mary under that title as the country's patroness.

This year, Pope Francis has asked Catholics to join him in praying for the faithful in China.

“This coming Tuesday is the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin, Mary Help of Christians, particularly dear to Catholics in China who venerate Mary, Help of Christians as their Patroness in the Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai, in many churches throughout the country, and in their homes,” Pope Francis said on May 22.

National Shrine and Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Sheshan, also known as Basilica of Mary, Help of Christians, in Shanghai, China. lobia, Wikimedia.
National Shrine and Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Sheshan, also known as Basilica of Mary, Help of Christians, in Shanghai, China. lobia, Wikimedia.

“This happy occasion offers me the opportunity to assure them once again of my spiritual closeness. I am attentively and actively following the often complex life and situations of the faithful and pastors, and I pray every day for them,” he said.

The pope continued, “I invite all of you to unite yourselves in this prayer so that the Church in China, in freedom and tranquility, might live in effective communion with the universal Church, and might exercise its mission of proclaiming the Gospel to everyone, and thus offer a positive contribution to the spiritual and material progress of society, as well.”

In response, the Catholic humanitarian organization Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) and other human rights groups have also called for prayer. Adding to the urgency for prayer this year are reports that Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, the 90-year-old retired bishop of Hong Kong who is an outspoken support of the pro-democracy movement there, is expected to return to court on Tuesday in connection with his May 11 arrest for allegedly violating China’s national security law. 

"The wish of Benedict XVI was to promote unity in a community that had become divided into 'official' and 'underground,' but at the same time, to foster communion between the entire Catholic Church and Chinese Catholics. Therefore, on this day, all Catholics are called to express their solidarity with Christians in China," ACN said in a statement released on May 23.

"Furthermore," the statement continued, "the prayer aims at strengthening Catholics in their faith, especially at a time when public witness and practice of faith or even the explicit proclamation of the Gospel are increasingly restricted by the Chinese communist government."

Here is the prayer Benedict XVI asked Catholics to pray on this occasion:

Virgin Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother, venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title "Help of Christians," the entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection.

We come before you today to implore your protection. Look upon the People of God and, with a mother’s care, guide them along the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens.

When you obediently said "yes" in the house of Nazareth, you allowed God’s eternal Son to take flesh in your virginal womb and thus to begin in history the work of our redemption. You willingly and generously cooperated in that work, allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul, until the supreme hour of the Cross, when you kept watch on Calvary, standing beside your Son, who died that we might live.

From that moment, you became, in a new way, the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith and choose to follow in his footsteps by taking up his Cross. Mother of hope, in the darkness of Holy Saturday you journeyed with unfailing trust towards the dawn of Easter.

Grant that your children may discern at all times, even those that are darkest, the signs of God’s loving presence. Our Lady of Sheshan, sustain all those in China, who, amid their daily trials, continue to believe, to hope, to love. May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world, and of the world to Jesus.

In the statue overlooking the Shrine you lift your Son on high, offering him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love.

Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love, ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built.

Mother of China and all Asia, pray for us, now and for ever. Amen!

Oklahoma passes extensive abortion ban bill, as country awaits Supreme Court ruling

null / Aykut Erdogdu/Shutterstock.

Denver Newsroom, May 23, 2022 / 16:50 pm (CNA).

The Oklahoma legislature has passed another law limiting abortion, ahead of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that could allow many more restrictions on abortion. The Oklahoma legislation follows a Texas model in allowing private citizens to sue abortion providers, but expands its scope to ban almost all direct abortions from the moment of conception.

House Bill 4327 bars all abortions except to save the life of a pregnant woman or if the unborn child was conceived in rape or incest reported to law enforcement. The legislation passed by 76-16, generally on a party-line vote, on May 19.

“Is our goal to defend the right to life or isn’t it?” bill sponsor Republican State Rep. Wendi Stearman asked legislators before the bill passed.

State Rep. Cyndi Munson, a Democrat, had questioned Stearman about the fact that many women, especially young girls, do not report rape or incest to law enforcement.

“Can you explain to me why you’re okay with a person carrying on a pregnancy after they have been raped or there has been instances of incest?” Munson asked.

“I am okay with preserving the life of the child,” Stearman responded. “The child was not part of that decision.”

Like a novel Texas law, it allows private citizens to sue abortion providers and anyone who “aids and abets” illegal abortions. The Texas law, however, bars abortion six weeks into pregnancy. The proposed Oklahoma law is the first of its kind to allow civilian enforcement of an abortion ban beginning at conception.

The legislation defines an unborn child as a human fetus or embryo at any stage of development. It specifically allows doctors to remove the body of a dead unborn child caused by spontaneous abortion or miscarriage, or to remove an ectopic pregnancy, the Associated Press reports. The bill’s provisions do not apply to abortion-inducing drugs or contraception.

Dr. Eli Reshef, an Oklahoma City fertility specialist, told the Associated Press that the legislation is not expected to apply to in-vitro fertilization, when embryos are conceived in a lab by fertilizing eggs before transferring them into a woman’s womb.

Gov. Kevin Stitt has said he will sign any pro-life legislation the legislature sends to him.

Earlier this month, Stitt had signed into law a bill which bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually around six weeks into pregnancy. That law, too, relies on citizens’ private lawsuits to enforce the ban.

Plaintiffs who successfully sue those who perform or aid and abet abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected could have a legal reward of at least $10,000.

Oklahoma’s two Catholic bishops had praised that bill as a protective measure for human life in the state, and also encouraged help for the women considering abortion.

Planned Parenthood’s two abortion clinics in Oklahoma stopped performing abortions after the governor signed the six-week ban. Once the latest bill is signed into law, the state’s two other abortion clinics will close, their attorney has said, according to the Associated Press.

“At this point, we are preparing for the most restrictive environment politicians can create: a complete ban on abortion with likely no exceptions,” Emily Wales, interim president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, told the Associated Press. “It’s the worst-case scenario for abortion care in the state of Oklahoma.”

Abortion restrictions in Texas reduced the number of abortions in the state by perhaps 46%. However, some pregnant women are seeking abortions in bordering states like Oklahoma or ordering abortion pills by mail.

The numbers of abortions performed in Oklahoma fell from 6,200 in 2002 to 3,736 in 2020, the lowest in more than 20 years. About 9% of Oklahoma abortions in 2020 were performed on women from Texas.

In late April Oklahoma legislators passed a law banning abortions entirely unless the procedure is done to save the life of the pregnant woman. That law, which would likely be struck down as unconstitutional unless the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, is set to go into effect in August.

The U.S. Supreme Court could very well overturn Roe v. Wade and related precedents requiring all U.S. states to legalize abortion. Overturning the decision would return control of abortion legislation to the states.

In October 2021, Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City issued a call to prayer for the abolition of the death penalty and for the end to abortion in Oklahoma

“We must pray for a renewed focus on the precious gift of life - all life from conception until natural death,” he said.

Charleston bishop 'conquered hearts' ministering to Hispanics in Georgia

Bishop Jacques Fabre-Jeune of Charleston. / Doug Deas/The Catholic Miscellany

Denver Newsroom, May 22, 2022 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

The newly consecrated Bishop of Charleston showed a great commitment and love for the Hispanic community in the Archdiocese of Atlanta where he previously served, according to a Hispanic leader in Atlanta. 

Bishop Jacques Fabre-Jeune, a Haitian emigrant, became the Charleston diocese’ first Black bishop when he was installed on May 13. 

Fabre-Jeune had previously served as the administrator of the San Felipe de Jesús Mission in Forest Park, Georgia, south of Atlanta, a congregation which he himself described at “99% Mexican.”

Jairo Martinez, who is retired today after 16 years serving as Director of the Atlanta Archdiocese’ Hispanic Ministry Office, told CNA that despite not being a member of the Hispanic community, Fabre-Jeune endeared himself to the community with his “sense of commitment” as well as his “love for the people.”

Fabre-Jeune’s commitment to getting a new church building built for the mission, which came to fruition in 2011, “shows really how Father Jacques got to the heart of those Hispanics, because let me tell you, he conquered their hearts," Martinez said. 

Then-Father Jacque Fabre-Jeune speaks at the opening of the new church building at the San Felipe de Jesús Mission in Forest Park, Georgia, south of Atlanta. Michael Alexander/Georgia Bulletin
Then-Father Jacque Fabre-Jeune speaks at the opening of the new church building at the San Felipe de Jesús Mission in Forest Park, Georgia, south of Atlanta. Michael Alexander/Georgia Bulletin

Fabre-Jeune, a Haitian native and immigrant New Yorker who was ordained a priest in 1986, arrived at the San Felipe mission in 2008. After graduating college, Fabre-Jeune had joined the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo, also known as the Scalabrinians. The Scalabrinians were originally founded to support the spiritual needs of missionaries going to South and North America, and today its members do much to serve refugees and immigrants. 

Fabre-Jeune’s novitiate took place in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he learned to speak Spanish fluently — one of the five languages he speaks today. 

Martinez said finding clergy to minister to Georgia’s large Hispanic population is one of the biggest challenges the Hispanic Catholic community faces in the state. It is difficult, he said, to find men who are not merely bilingual, but also are willing to understand the culture. 

Many Hispanic Catholics, though they may be bilingual and speak English in most of their interactions in society, will still prefer to attend Mass and practice their faith in Spanish, he said. 

Their formation has often been done in Spanish in their native country, and they pray in Spanish. Even children of Hispanic immigrants who are native English speakers will often prefer to worship with their parents in Spanish, he said. 

"So it is important to give them an opportunity to live their spiritual life in their own language," Martinez noted. 

The San Felipe mission itself symbolizes the progress that the Hispanic community has made in Atlanta, Martinez said. When Martinez first saw the mission, it was located in a very poor area, in a run-down building, with tarps over the roof to keep out the rain. Later, in 2002, the archdiocese purchased a former Protestant church to house the Catholic congregation, and eventually under Fabre-Jeune’s leadership the community built and opened the new church building still in use today. 

San Felipe de Jesús Mission in Forest Park, Georgia. Facebook
San Felipe de Jesús Mission in Forest Park, Georgia. Facebook

During his time at the mission, Fabre-Jeune also served as the director of the Hispanic Charismatic Renewal and a member of the Archdiocese of Atlanta’s finance council. Noting Fabre-Jeune’s skills as an administrator as well as his love for his flock, Martinez said if someone had asked him a few years ago for recommendations of priests who would make good bishops, he would have suggested Father Fabre-Jeune.

In terms of the broader Hispanic Catholic community in the United States, which is growing rapidly, Martinez said Catholics in the U.S. can learn from the “simplicity” of the faith of Hispanic Catholics. Martinez also said he greatly admires the strong sense of local community and family that is present in Hispanic culture. He says he has seen the Archdiocese of Atlanta make a "huge effort" to serve the Hispanic community, and he hopes other dioceses and archdioceses will do the same.