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Fort Worth bishop dismisses Carmelite mother superior in latest in Texas monastery-diocese dispute
Posted on 06/2/2023 19:40 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 2, 2023 / 12:40 pm (CNA).
Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth, Texas, issued a decree Thursday dismissing Reverend Mother Teresa Agnes Gerlach from religious life following a nearly six-week-long investigation into an alleged sexual affair involving a priest.
In his decree, Olson announced he had found Gerlach, prioress of the Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity in Arlington, “guilty of having violated the sixth commandment of the Decalogue and her vow of chastity with a priest from outside the Diocese of Fort Worth.”
Based on this finding, as the pontifical commissary with authority over the monastery, Olson said he is dismissing Gerlach from the Order of Discalced Carmelites.
According to the decree, Gerlach has 30 days to appeal the decision to the Vatican’s Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of the Apostolic Life.
In a separate statement, the diocese also announced that daily Mass and regular confession at the monastery would soon be reinstated following the investigation’s conclusion.
The actions are the latest in an ongoing dispute between Olson and the Texas Carmelite Monastery.
Matthew Bobo, the attorney representing the monastery in its civil lawsuit against the diocese, responded to the bishop’s decree, saying: “Bishop Michael Olson’s decision is unjust and unconscionable in the light of moral, canonical, and natural law.”
“Mother Superior will be appealing this immoral and unjust decision that is not subject to canonical action,” Bobo said.
“In addition, the civil lawsuit will accelerate and continue full speed ahead,” Bobo noted.
The dispute began in late April when the diocese launched a canonical investigation into an alleged sexual affair between Gerlach and an unnamed priest.
The reverend mother and the monastery filed a civil lawsuit on May 3 against the bishop and the diocese, accusing them of confiscating the reverend mother’s computer, cellphone, and laptop and subjecting nuns to lengthy questioning.
The monastery argued that Olson had no authority over it as it is an “autonomous religious entity” subject only to the Vatican.
They further accuse the bishop and the diocese of violating both civil and canon law through his conduct related to the investigation.
The lawsuit seeks $1 million in civil damages and asks the court to block the bishop’s and the diocese’s access to any records obtained by confiscating the reverend mother’s property.
In turn, the diocese argues that the dispute is an ecclesiastical matter and should not be heard in a civil court.
The civil hearing on the case is set for June 23.
After the monastery filed the lawsuit, Olson denied Gerlach’s ability to choose her canon lawyer, choosing one himself to represent her in the ecclesiastical investigation. Though the canon lawyer has already filed paperwork on her behalf, the reverend mother denies that he represents her in these matters.
Bobo told CNA that “the bishop’s own canon lawyer is compromised.”
“Bishop Olson rejected four canonical representatives of Mother Superior’s choosing and then forced his own canonical lawyer (lackey) on her with whom she has never spoken,” Bobo said.
In response to the monastery’s claim of ecclesiastical autonomy, the diocese announced Wednesday that Olson had been appointed pontifical commissary over the monastery by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
As pontifical commissary, the diocese says Olson is “the pope’s representative in the matter” with “full authority for the Monastery.”
Though he has now reinstated daily Mass, for a time Olson banned the monastery from celebrating daily Mass and blocked access to regular confessions.
He did so on the grounds that the nuns’ actions violated the obedience owed to the “Holy Church and to her holy Pastors” in a manner “unbecoming of their religious state.”
The ban was lifted on Thursday in a diocesan statement that read: “Given the time that has passed and now having completed the investigation into the grave misconduct of the Reverend Mother … and having found her guilty of having violated the sixth commandment of the Decalogue and the vow of chastity, and having dismissed her from the Order of Discalced Carmelites, Bishop Michael Olson … has decided to reinstate daily Mass at the Carmel for the nuns of the Monastery beginning on Wednesday, June 7, 2023, at 7:30 a.m.”
The diocesan statement added that “given the pending lawsuit, Mass will remain closed to the participation of the lay faithful for the time being. The only Mass intention will be for the restoration of peace and good order of the Monastery.”
The diocese has not publicized the exact nature of the affair nor named the priest or any other diocese possibly involved.
Though the diocese says that Gerlach has admitted to the misconduct, Bobo said that Gerlach was under the influence of pain medication related to a surgery when she is alleged to have admitted to the affair and “has not admitted to any grave misconduct that would warrant his extreme and emotionally damaging measures.”
According to Bobo, Gerlach, 43, was suffering from serious medical issues and had just undergone surgery when she was said to have admitted to the misconduct.
“Bishop Olson has publicly defamed Mother Superior on matters of the moral law that are NOT canonically actionable,” Bobo told CNA. “His ‘investigation’ was never announced as such to Mother Superior nor the nuns. With a 30-minute window before appearing at the monastery, he advised them he was coming without providing the rationale for his visit and then showed up with the diocesan chancellor and forensic expert and then proceeded to interrogate Mother Superior just after a medical procedure while she was still recovering from the medical use of fentanyl.”
Bobo added that Gerlach “is in a wheelchair and her health has deteriorated.”
A spokesperson for the diocese declined to comment further on the matter.
Florida bishops plead with DeSantis to spare life of death row inmate
Posted on 06/2/2023 18:25 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., Jun 2, 2023 / 11:25 am (CNA).
Florida’s Catholic bishops are calling on Gov. Ron DeSantis to issue a stay of execution for a convicted murderer who is scheduled to die by lethal injection on June 15.
Duane Owen, 62, was sentenced to death for the 1984 murder of a 14-year-old babysitter, whom he stabbed to death and then sexually assaulted. He was also sentenced to death for the 1986 murder of a single mother whom he beat to death with a hammer.
Owen would be the fourth person to be executed in Florida this year, the sixth to die by capital punishment during DeSantis’ administration.
In a May 31 letter on behalf of the bishops to DeSantis, Michael Sheedy, the executive director of the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops (FCCB), appealed to the governor to grant a stay and commute Owen’s sentence to life without parole.
The letter acknowledged the suffering Owen has caused but stated the bishops’ opposition to the death penalty and belief in the sanctity of life.
“His senseless and horrific acts tragically ended the lives of these young women and have caused immeasurable grief and suffering to the victims’ families, loved ones, and communities,” the letter reads. “However, taking Mr. Owen’s life will not restore the lives of the victims. Intentionally ending his life will do nothing but perpetuate violence in a society steeped in it.”
“Justice does not demand state-sanctioned killing that disrespects the dignity and sacredness of human life,” the bishops said in the letter. “Rather, justice is best served by the alternative punishment of lifelong incarceration. Society must be kept safe from Mr. Owen and those like him, but that can be done effectively without resorting to more violence.”
The letter said there are “notable mitigating circumstances” in Owen’s case that argue for granting him a stay of execution.
“He was raised by alcoholic parents who both died when he was a very young child, he lived in an abusive orphanage, endured physical and sexual abuse, and suffered from organic brain damage. Such traumatic experiences and injuries have been shown to profoundly affect a child’s development and subsequent behavior,” Sheedy wrote on behalf of the bishops.
DeSantis had issued an executive order May 22 to delay Owen’s execution in response to Owen’s attorneys’ statement that their client had been declared insane after a psychiatric evaluation.
One week later, DeSantis issued another executive order for Owen’s execution to proceed as planned after a panel of state-appointed psychiatrists established Owen’s mental competency.
The order said the psychiatrists had concluded: “Owen has the mental capacity to understand the nature of the death penalty and the reasons why it is to be imposed upon him.”
The Florida bishops recently condemned DeSantis, a Catholic, for signing a bill that would make it easier to impose the death penalty in the state. The bill eliminated the requirement of a unanimous jury when recommending a capital punishment sentence. The death penalty can now be imposed with only an 8-4 majority of the jury.
“As Florida persists in its implementation of the death penalty, the process should be as reliable and just as possible. Unanimity is required in every other circumstance when a jury is summoned in Florida. The harshest punishment that the state imposes should require the strictest standards,” the bishops said in an April 13 statement.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, reflecting an update promulgated by Pope Francis in 2018, describes the death penalty as “inadmissible” and an “attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person” (No. 2267).
The change reflects a development in Catholic doctrine in recent years. St. John Paul II called on Christians to be “unconditionally pro-life” and said that “the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil.”
Nevada GOP governor signs pro-abortion bill; Oklahoma court strikes down abortion restrictions
Posted on 06/1/2023 23:40 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., Jun 1, 2023 / 16:40 pm (CNA).
The pro-life movement suffered a blow this week in two states after Nevada’s Republican governor signed a pro-abortion bill into law and the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down two of the state’s restrictions on abortion.
Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo signed legislation late Tuesday to protect abortionists who violate abortion laws in other states and prevent health care licensing boards from disqualifying a person due to his or her participation in providing abortions.
The bill prohibits the execution of arrest warrants or extradition of a person who is wanted in another state for performing an illegal abortion if such an abortion is legal in Nevada. It also prohibits state agencies from providing any information that would assist in another state imposing civil or criminal penalties on someone who performs an illegal abortion when such an abortion would have been legal in Nevada.
The same rule applies to health care licensing boards, which will not be allowed to disqualify a person for violating an abortion law in another state as long as it is legal in Nevada.
Lombardo is the third Republican governor to sign pro-abortion legislation after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott and former Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker also signed pro-abortion legislation.
Lombardo’s campaign website claims he is “Catholic and pro-life” and promised to “govern as a pro-life governor.” He was endorsed by the National Right to Life Committee.
Two abortion laws in Oklahoma were struck down Wednesday after the state Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that they violated the state’s constitution.
One of the laws banned all abortions except in cases of a medical emergency. The second law banned all abortions after a heartbeat was detected with the exception of a medical emergency or if rape or incest had been reported to law enforcement. The bills would have allowed civil lawsuits against abortionists.
Abortion in Oklahoma is still banned except for when the life of the mother is at risk. However, the Supreme Court objected to the phrasing of “medical emergency,” which it argued forced women to wait until their condition worsened before they could obtain an abortion.
The Supreme Court cited its own precedent, which states there is an “inherent right of a pregnant woman to terminate a pregnancy when necessary to preserve her life.”
Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt criticized the ruling.
“I again wholeheartedly disagree with the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s use of activism to create a right to an abortion in Oklahoma,” Stitt said. “This court has once more over-involved itself in the state’s democratic process and has interceded to undo legislation created by the will of the people. … As governor, I will continue to do my part to fight to protect the lives of the unborn. From the moment life begins at conception, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to protect that baby’s life and the life of the mother. Oklahoma will keep working to be the most pro-family state in the nation.”
New ‘Padre Pio’ film is a human look at the famous saint, filmmakers say
Posted on 06/1/2023 23:10 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Boston, Mass., Jun 1, 2023 / 16:10 pm (CNA).
The weight of playing St. Pio of Pietrelcina, more popularly known as Padre Pio, one of the most popular saints of the 20th century, was “enormous,” Shia LaBeouf told CNA in late May.
The new film “Padre Pio,” starring “Transformers” and “Fury” star LaBeouf, airs in theaters June 2 and portrays the Italian friar in his early 20s immersed in the suffering of the residents of San Giovanni Rotondo, in eastern Italy, where his monastery is located.
The film, rated R for some explicit violence and language, portrays powerful scenes of Padre Pio ministering to the townspeople and enduring his own spiritual battles with the devil amid the chaos of a violent political clash between the mainly impoverished socialists and the wealthy ruling class, ultimately resulting in a brutal massacre.
Abel Ferrara, the film’s director, called the killings a “nightmare event” and added that all of it came together in the film.
“There’s not a political story and a Padre Pio story. He’s a member of that community. He’s feeling it. He knows what’s going on, and he’s interconnected with those people. And those people are very interconnected to him,” Ferrara said.
LaBeouf, Brother Alexander Rodriguez — who plays a real Franciscan Capuchin in the film — and Ferrara, the film’s director, also addressed a scene in the film that shows the devil in the form of a naked woman as well as the saint’s use of profanity in another scene.
When asked what the message of the film was, Ferrara said that there was nothing specific but added that St. Pio’s message is “compassion and love in the day to day life, not just the hour you’re in church.”
LaBeouf told CNA that playing the role of the saint while being immersed in his monastery and town added to the intensity.
“It’s enormous pressure, but it only served the film,” he said. “There are scenes where we’re running Mass and these aren’t actors in the seats. These are God-fearing people who love Pio and you feel it, and it only adds to the stakes.”
Many of the extras in the film were from the area surrounding San Giovanni Rotondo.
Despite the pressure, LaBeouf said that “I have never, in the course of my entire career, been on a set where the film felt easier to make.”
Whenever the filming team ran into technical or legal issues, LaBeouf didn’t panic but turned to the saint’s famous motto: Pray, hope, and don’t worry.
“And things worked out. They just did. And I think we made a beautiful film as a result of following his teachings and really leaning into the pragmatic way in which he dealt with the world,” he said.
“It’s probably why I love Catholicism, because it is so nuts and bolts.”
LaBeouf said that he “experienced disordered freedom for so long, like an anarchist” and that the film changed his life.
At the end of the film, Padre Pio receives the stigmata while in prayer.
“It’s easy to think that because he was holy, that he received the stigma automatically. No,” Rodriguez said. The First World War and the social political turmoil in San Giovanni Rotondo were the context in which the saint received the stigmata, he said.
“Pio was looking at all of this and saying, ‘I want to take this all upon myself as a suffering servant to help them.’ He didn’t know that the stigmata will be the purpose to help these people out. But it ended up being just that. The stigmata didn’t just happen on its own, in other words,” he said.
Padre Pio is harassed by the devil several times in the film, once even physically. In one scene, the devil, in the appearance of a naked woman disrespecting an image of the Virgin Mary, is taunting and discouraging the saint.
Ferrara told CNA that the scene was taken out of Padre Pio’s private letters to his spiritual director. Rodriguez added that demons would appear in Pio’s room as naked women to harass him.
“We’re taking it from his letters. I mean, we’re trying to embody when he’s talking about temptation in a real way,” Ferrara said.
“A lot of what you see in the movie is pretty accurate,” Rodriguez said, adding that he wrote the letters to his spiritual director in confidence and “would not have wanted the letter to be out.”
Rodriguez told CNA in 2022 that the film’s depiction of the saint is about 90% accurate and is largely based on the saint’s letters to his provincial and spiritual director from 1911–1918.
Rodriguez, who became close with LaBeouf during the actor’s preparation for the role of Padre Pio, said that “I know for a fact that God wanted this movie to be made.”
He noted how the film came together at a providential moment in LaBeouf’s life, which put the actor on the path to join the Catholic Church.
LaBeouf recently told ChurchPOP that he is currently in RCIA, taking weekly classes, and is on track to be confirmed in seven months.
Another scene in the film shows the devil appearing as an androgynous person coming to Padre Pio in confession and being unrepentant for sins, even to the point of denying the existence of God and hell.
Once Padre Pio realizes it is the devil, the saint chastises the figure, sends him away, and angrily screams “Shut the f*** up! Say Christ is Lord!”
“When Pio is saying the F-bomb, this is Abel’s take on showing the world that Pio, who is a saint, was also a sinner,” Rodriguez said. He added that in Pio’s letters to his spiritual director, he would write about struggling to deal with his passions of anger and his temper.
At this point in Pio’s life, he is “a saint in the working,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez questioned what the world will think of the film’s portrayal of St. Pio “in a more human way.”
“I don’t know what’s going to happen next, but I just hope for the best that the world accepts the movie as it is. And to see why did Pio receive the stigmata? These are the circumstances in which he got the stigmata and the suffering that he went through,” he added.
LaBeouf told CNA that “if you’ve ever read Little Flowers of St. Francis, he says very clearly, and it’s not conjecture, it’s not paraphrased, he says, ‘if the devil approaches you stuff s*** in his mouth.’”
“So this idea that saints — and there is no greater a saint than St. Francis — never cursed is just, like, ignorant, and quite frankly, prude, which isn’t Catholicism. Catholicism isn’t prudish,” he said.
“These are human beings before they’re sainted,” he added.
LaBeouf said that he “walked in [the movie process] a wounded man in full-blown suffering, full-blown shame and panic.”
“And through the course of the movie, I came out of my little shame cave and walked back into the world, found purpose again and redemption again. I was saved. I was lost, and I was saved through the love of Christ,” he said.
“That’s what actually happened in my life. It’s beyond the promotion of this movie. It’s what actually transpired in my life. And shortly after coming out of this film, my wife gave birth, and I’m able to show up for my kid in a way I never would have been able to had this not happened for me,” he said.
White House condemns Nicaraguan dictatorship’s latest attacks against the Catholic Church
Posted on 06/1/2023 21:15 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 1, 2023 / 14:15 pm (CNA).
The Biden administration on Wednesday condemned Nicaraguan dictator Daniel Ortega’s attempts to discredit the Catholic Church by accusing it of an illegal money laundering scheme.
National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby called the latest attacks on the Catholic Church “unacceptable” and said the administration is acting to “promote accountability.”
Kirby’s condemnation of the Nicaraguan dictatorship’s latest targeting of the Catholic Church came in response to a question raised by EWTN White House Correspondent Owen Jensen during the May 31 press conference.
On May 27 the Nicaraguan National Police, controlled by the dictatorship of President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, published a statement accusing the Catholic Church of various crimes, including money laundering by the Diocese of Matagalpa.
“The dictatorship there continues its persecution of Catholics,” Jensen said. “The latest, accusing the Catholic Church in Nicaragua of money laundering. Human rights defenders say that is absolutely baseless.”
“Daniel Ortega has imprisoned Bishop Alvarez for decades, expelled 32 nuns from the country, confiscated Church buildings, shut down media outlets. Quite simply, what is the White House message to Daniel Ortega?” Jensen asked.
Kirby responded by saying: “There’s been a dramatic deterioration of respect for democratic principles and human rights by the Ortega-Murillo regime, including the harassment and imprisonment of democratic leaders, members of political opposition parties, faith leaders, as you rightly said, including from the Catholic Church, students, and journalists.”
“This is all unacceptable. We condemn these actions,” Kirby continued. “We’ve already taken a number of actions to promote accountability for the Ortega-Murillo regime’s actions, including by imposing sanctions, and will continue to do so.”
In an attempt to continue covering up their human rights abuses, Nicaragua is now accusing the Catholic Church of money laundering in the country. NSC Coordinator for Strategic Communications, John Kirby, responds to the Ortega regime's abuses on behalf of the White House. pic.twitter.com/E7BFwGRsN0— EWTN News Nightly (@EWTNNewsNightly) May 31, 2023
For years, the U.S. State Department has levied several sanctions against the Ortega regime, including sanctions on Nicaraguan officials and state-owned companies for repression and anti-democratic actions.
Most recently, on April 19, Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a statement announcing U.S. sanctions on three Nicaraguan judges who, according to Blinken, “played a role in stripping over 300 Nicaraguans of their citizenship, leaving many of these individuals stateless.”
In a June 2022 press statement, the State Department accused the Ortega regime of stealing the 2021 Nicaraguan election.
“Following months of repression and the imprisonment of more than 40 democratic leaders, including seven potential presidential candidates, opposition members, journalists, students and members of civil society, the Ortega-Murillo regime stole an election that denied Nicaraguans their ability to choose their own government. By declaring victory after the fraudulent election, the regime entrenched itself in power and established a dynastic dictatorship,” the release said.
Despite these actions by the Biden administration, the situation in 2023 appears to have only worsened for both ordinary citizens and the Catholic Church in Nicaragua.
Just this May 18, an Ortega regime official media announced the “voluntary dissolution” of Immaculate Conception Catholic University, a seminary for the Archdiocese of Managua.
On Feb. 10, Bishop Rolando Álvarez Lagos of the Diocese of Matagalpa was sentenced by the regime to 26 years and four months in prison on the charge of being a “traitor to the homeland.”
Álvarez’s former diocese is the one now being accused by the regime of the money laundering scheme.
In a May 29 statement to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, Félix Maradiaga, former presidential candidate and exiled human rights defender, stated that “it’s impossible for the police to have found this alleged illicit money in the Diocese of Matagalpa, because that diocese has been, both the chancery and many of the parishes, under police intervention during the last six months.”
“That’s absolutely unacceptable, but it is also Orwellian. It’s ridiculous that the same chancery from which Bishop Rolando Álvarez was taken away is now designated as the locus of illegal acts,” said Maradiaga, who was deported to the United States on Feb. 9 along with more than 200 other former political prisoners.
Why is June the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus?
Posted on 06/1/2023 09:00 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Denver Newsroom, Jun 1, 2023 / 02:00 am (CNA).
June is known as the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus most simply because the solemnity of the Sacred Heart is celebrated during this month. This year, the solemnity falls on June 16. The date changes each year because it is celebrated on the Friday after the Corpus Christi octave, or the Friday after the second Sunday after Pentecost.
However, other reasons exist as to why June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart.
The feast dates back to 1673, when a French nun who belonged to the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary (Visitandines) in eastern France began to receive visions about the Sacred Heart.
Jesus appeared to Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque and revealed ways to venerate his Sacred Heart and explained the immense love he has for humanity, appearing with his heart visible outside his chest, on fire, and surrounded by a crown of thorns.
These different ways include partaking in a holy hour on Thursdays and the reception of the Eucharist on the first Friday of every month.
Jesus told Sister Margaret Mary: “My Sacred Heart is so intense in its love for men, and for you in particular, that not being able to contain within it the flames of its ardent charity, they must be transmitted through all means.”
These visions continued for 18 months.
On June 16, 1675, Jesus told Sister Margaret Mary to promote a feast that honored his Sacred Heart. He also gave Sister Margaret Mary 12 promises made to all who venerate and promote the devotion of the Sacred Heart.
He said: “I ask of you that the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi be set apart for a special feast to honor my heart, by communicating on that day, and making reparation to it by a solemn act, in order to make amends for the indignities which it has received during the time it has been exposed on the altars. I promise you that my heart shall expand itself to shed in abundance the influence of its divine love upon those who shall thus honor it, and cause it to be honored.”
Sister Margaret Mary died in 1690 and was canonized by Pope Benedict XV on May 13, 1920.
The Vatican was hesitant to declare a feast to the Sacred Heart, but as the devotion spread throughout France, the Vatican granted the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to France in 1765.
In 1856, Pope Pius IX designated the Friday following the feast of Corpus Christi as the feast of the Sacred Heart for the universal Church. Ever since, the month of June has been devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and his immense love for us all.
On the current calendar, the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a solemnity, the highest-ranking feast in the liturgical calendar, although it is not a holy day of obligation.
These are the promises the Sacred Heart of Jesus made to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque:
I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
I will give peace in their families.
I will console them in all their troubles.
I will be their refuge in life and especially in death.
I will abundantly bless all their undertakings.
Sinners shall find in my heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
Tepid souls shall become fervent.
Fervent souls shall rise speedily to great perfection.
I will bless those places wherein the image of my Sacred Heart shall be exposed and venerated.
I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.
Persons who propagate this devotion shall have their names eternally written in my heart.
In the excess of the mercy of my heart, I promise you that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who will receive Communion on the first Fridays, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour.
This story was originally published on June 19, 2022, and was updated on May 31, 2023.
Fort Worth Diocese: Vatican says bishop has authority over Carmelite monastery amid investigation
Posted on 06/1/2023 00:00 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 31, 2023 / 17:00 pm (CNA).
Amid an ongoing legal dispute between the Diocese of Fort Worth and a Carmelite monastery, the diocese announced that the Vatican formally recognized Bishop Michael Olson as having authority over the nuns.
A diocesan statement said that the Vatican appointed the bishop as the pontifical commissary, which makes him “the pope’s representative in this matter.” The statement said the May 31 decree was issued through the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
The dispute began in late April when the diocese launched an investigation into whether the Reverend Mother Superior Teresa Agnes Gerlach had an affair with a priest. The reverend mother and the Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity in Arlington, Texas, filed a lawsuit against the bishop and the diocese, which accused the bishop of confiscating the reverend mother’s computer, cellphone, and laptop and subjecting nuns to lengthy questioning.
According to the diocesan statement, the Holy See’s decree recognizes the bishop’s authority in the investigation and over the monastery.
“The Dicastery recognized and acknowledged that Bishop Olson has been, and continues to be, entrusted with full governing responsibility for the Monastery,” the statement reads. “This decree is in response to the challenge to Bishop Olson’s authority to conduct an investigation into the admitted-to violations of the sixth commandment of the Decalogue and the vow of chastity by the Reverend Mother Teresa Agnes (Gerlach).”
A spokesperson for the diocese declined to comment further on the matter.
The decree comes four days after Olson sent a letter to the Carmelite monastery, which accuses the nuns of inciting “hatred and animosity” toward him and the diocese. He also refused to reinstate daily Mass and regular confession at the monastery.
Amid the investigation, the bishop banned the monastery from celebrating daily Mass and blocked access to regular confessions. He has also prohibited lay participation in the Mass. The nuns now only have access to Mass on Sundays and are only guaranteed the right to access confession once per year.
The monastery requested that its access to daily Mass, lay participation in the Mass, and regular confession be reinstated, but Olson sent them a letter in which he denied the request and accused them of hindering his investigation.
Olson said neither daily Mass nor confessions can be “conveniently provided for the members of the monastery” and Mass participation cannot be “extended to the lay faithful” because the monastery “lodged a civil lawsuit, together with a request for a protection order, against me and the Diocese of Fort Worth, containing a false narrative to the pending investigation.”
“[This] has led to local, national, and international media coverage and has incited hatred and animosity against me because of my initiation of the investigation and has hindered the freedom of my ecclesiastical power to conduct that investigation,” Olson continued. “Further obstruction of the investigation has occurred since you and certain members of the Monastery have refused to cooperate with the investigation.”
Olson told the monastery that these restrictions will stay in place until the nuns “cease this behavior which is contrary to and unbecoming of their religious state and demonstrate love for and obedience to [the] Holy Church and to her holy Pastors … and until completion of the pending civil lawsuit or its withdrawal.”
The monastery accuses the bishop and the diocese of violating both civil and canon law through his conduct related to the investigation. The lawsuit seeks $1 million in civil damages and asks the court to block the bishop’s and the diocese’s access to any records obtained by confiscating the reverend mother’s property. The diocese argued that the dispute is an ecclesiastical matter and should not be heard in a civil court.
Matthew Bobo, a civil lawyer representing the monastery and Mother Gerlach, said the bishop’s restrictions are a display of vengeance.
“This latest salvo from Bishop Olson is an unbelievably extreme display of arrogance, vengeance and hard-heartedness directed toward Sister Francis Therese and the other cloistered sisters whose religious order, daily since the 1950s, have joyfully and tirelessly prayed the Divine Office (universal prayer of the Catholic Church) for the Church and the world,” Bobo said in a statement.
Although the diocese contends that the reverend mother admitted to violating the Sixth Commandment, which prohibits adultery, with a priest, Bobo has said that she was under the influence of pain medication related to a surgery and “has not admitted to any grave misconduct that would warrant his extreme and emotionally damaging measures.”
“I cannot imagine the heartbreak and psychological suffering these prayerful women — set apart from the world to pray for it — are experiencing at the hands of their God-given shepherd,” Bobo said.
After the monastery filed the lawsuit, Olson also denied Gerlach’s ability to choose her own canon lawyer to represent her in the ecclesiastical investigation. Instead, he appointed a canon lawyer to represent her. Although the canon lawyer has already filed paperwork on her behalf, the reverend mother rejects the legitimacy of his claim that he represents her in these matters.
Dodgers pitcher denounces team’s decision to honor anti-Catholic group: ‘God cannot be mocked’
Posted on 05/31/2023 22:45 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., May 31, 2023 / 15:45 pm (CNA).
A Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher became the latest Major League Baseball player to publicly condemn the Dodgers’ decision to honor an anti-Catholic drag group known as the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.”
Blake Treinen issued a statement Monday night in which he said: “I am disappointed to see the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence being honored as heroes at Dodger Stadium. Many of their performances are blasphemous, and their work only displays hate and mockery of Catholics and the Christian faith.”
Treinen released his statement via a friend’s Twitter account.
My friend and @MLB pitcher Blake Treinen asked that I post this statement for him in regards to the @Dodgers honoring of the sisters of perpetual indulgence. #HoldTheLine pic.twitter.com/jIDeDJF8ke— Sean Feucht (@seanfeucht) May 30, 2023
“This group openly mocks Jesus Christ, the cornerstone of my faith, and I want to make it clear that I do not agree with nor support the decision,” Treinen wrote.
“I understand that playing baseball is a privilege, and not a right,” he said, noting “my convictions in Jesus Christ will always come first.”
“Inviting the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to perform disenfranchises a large community and promotes hate of Christians and people of faith. This single event alienates the fans and supporters of the Dodgers, Major League Baseball, and professional sports,” Treinen said.
“I believe the word of God is true, and in Galatians 6:7 it says, ‘do not be deceived, God cannot be mocked; a man reaps what he sows,’” Treinen said.
The controversy erupted last week after the Dodgers announced that they would honor the Los Angeles chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a group known for mocking Catholicism, during their Pride Night at Dodger Stadium event on June 16.
The national drag group uses Catholic religious imagery and themes in protests and sexualized performances to raise awareness and money for LGBTQ+ causes. The performers call themselves nuns and regularly use the images of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and women religious.
The Dodgers will be giving the group a “Community Hero Award” before the June 16 game against the San Francisco Giants.
After initially receiving blowback from the Christian community, the Dodgers revoked their invitation to the drag group, only to reinstate it with an apology days later.
Dodgers ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw, one of the MLB’s most successful pitchers, told the Los Angeles Times on Monday that he disagreed but did not go so far as to condemn the team’s decision.
“I don’t agree with making fun of other people’s religions,” Kershaw told the L.A. Times. “It has nothing to do with anything other than that. I just don’t think that no matter what religion you are, you should make fun of somebody else’s religion. So that’s something that I definitely don’t agree with.”
Kershaw said that a Dodgers Christian Faith & Family Day event to take place the month after the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are honored was the right response.
“For us, we felt like the best thing to do in response was, instead of maybe making a statement condemning or anything like that, would be just to instead try to show what we do support, as opposed to maybe what we don’t,” Kershaw said. “And that was Jesus. So to make Christian Faith Day our response is what we felt like was the best decision.”
According to the L.A. Times, Kershaw said watching video of the group’s portrayal of Christianity was “tough,” but he is not planning on boycotting the event honoring the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
Another Catholics MLB player, Washington Nationals pitcher Trevor Williams, also condemned the Dodgers’ decision and called for a boycott of the team Tuesday.
“To invite and honor a group that makes a blatant and deeply offensive mockery of my religion, and the religion of over 4 million people in Los Angeles county alone, undermines the values of respect and inclusivity that should be upheld by any organization,” Williams said. “I also encourage my fellow Catholics to reconsider their support of an organization that allows this type of mockery of its fans to occur.”
May 30, 2023
In a Tuesday press release, Williams’ press manager Zach Morley said that “his Catholic faith is the most important part of his life.”
“This is why he chose to post on his social media accounts Tuesday, while the Nationals were in Los Angeles, that he was upset by the Los Angeles Dodgers decision to re-invite and honor a fringe group calling themselves, ‘The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence,’” the release said.
On Tuesday, Anthony Bass, a pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays and a Christian, issued a public apology just a day after sharing a video to his social media that advocated for boycotts of Target and Bud Light for their support of transgender ideology.
“I recognize yesterday that I made a post that was hurtful to the Pride community, which includes friends of mine and close family members of mine, and I am truly sorry for that,” Bass said. “I just spoke with my teammates and shared with them my actions yesterday. I apologized with them and, as of right now, I am using the Blue Jays’ resources to better educate myself to make better decisions moving forward. The ballpark is for everybody. We include all fans at the ballpark, and we want to welcome everybody.”
The video shared by Bass was of Christian preacher Ryan Miller, who goes by the social media moniker “dude with good news,” advocating on a biblical basis for a boycott of Target and Bud Light.
Despite his apology, Bass has continued to take heavy criticism on social media for his biblical stance against LGBTQ+ ideology.
LGBTQ+ group “It Gets Better Canada” said in a tweet Tuesday that the organization was receiving donations “in recognition of Anthony Bass’ anti 2SLGBTQ+ stance.”
“Keep them coming! To our caring community — thank you for reminding us that hate has no space in baseball or in any other sport,” the group said.
This is Pope Francis’ prayer intention for the month of June
Posted on 05/31/2023 18:45 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Denver, Colo., May 31, 2023 / 11:45 am (CNA).
Pope Francis’ prayer intention for the month of June is for the abolition of torture.
“Torture is not past history. Unfortunately, it’s part of our history today,” Pope Francis said in a video released May 30.
“How is it possible that the human capacity for cruelty is so huge?” he questioned.
“There are extremely violent forms of torture. Others are more sophisticated, such as degrading someone, dulling the senses, or mass detentions in conditions so inhumane that they take away the dignity of the person.”
The pope reminded the faithful that this is not something new. He urged everyone to “think of how Jesus himself was tortured and crucified.”
He added: “Let us put a stop to this horror of torture. It is essential to put the dignity of the person above all else. Otherwise, the victims are not persons, they are ‘things’ and can be mistreated mercilessly, causing death or permanent psychological and physical harm lasting a lifetime.”
Pope Francis concluded his message with a prayer: “Let us pray that the international community commit itself concretely to abolish torture, guaranteeing support to victims and their families.”
Pope Francis’ prayer video is promoted by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, which raises awareness of monthly papal prayer intentions.
PHOTOS: Thousands gather in Times Square for eucharistic procession in New York City
Posted on 05/31/2023 16:05 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
New York City, N.Y., May 31, 2023 / 09:05 am (CNA).
In what many are calling the largest eucharistic procession ever held in New York City, thousands of people took to the streets reciting prayers and singing songs of praise on the vigil of Pentecost, May 27.
The NYPD estimated more than 4,000 people took to the streets and processed through Times Square. Led by Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Espaillat of the Archdiocese of New York, the procession brought together priests, nuns, and laity to pray for the forgiveness of sins in the iconic city and the world.
The theme of the procession was “¡Esta ciudad pertenece a Jesucristo!” — “This city belongs to Jesus Christ!”
The procession was organized by the Hispanic Catholic Charismatic Center located in the Bronx, which is part of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church. Participants started at Father Duffy Square in Times Square and after two hours, the procession ended at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where Mass was celebrated.
With a bullhorn in hand, Espaillat shared intense words to the faithful, saying: “In the middle of New York is the cross of Jesus Christ!”
“And this is why we rejoice today. We rejoice because this is Pentecost weekend. And we know what happened on Pentecost, right? There was an outpouring of the Holy Spirit,” he said.
“And we would not be standing here if it were not for the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen?”
“So my sisters and my brothers in Christ, we rejoice today for the blessings that God has in store for this great city. I love this city! I love New York! And that’s why I’m here, because I want to pray for our city. Amen?”
He exclaimed in Spanish: “¡Esta es mi ciudad! ¡Esta es nuestra ciudad! ¡Esta ciudad es de Jesucristo!” which translates to “This is my city! This is our city! This city is Jesus Christ’s’!”
Photojournalist Jeffrey Bruno, who happened to be in the city for another assignment and stumbled upon the procession thanks to an Instagram post, said: “I have never seen anything like that before, especially in New York.”
One particularly moving moment Bruno captured was the crowded street, lined by the skyscrapers of Times Square, filled with the faithful kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament as it was being lifted high into the air.
Father Shane Johnson, administrator of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church and director of the Hispanic Catholic Charismatic Center, told CNA: “To me, the number of people was secondary to the amount of real authentic faith that was so evident in those who were present. It was astonishing.”
“These moments of kneeling on the asphalt in the middle of a city street with our arms raised to God remind us of who we are as his children and how this city really does belong entirely to him,” he added.
Johnson explained that while many view New York City as hostile toward Catholic events, such as protests held during pro-life walks in the city, the vast majority of people are respectful.
“There is far more faith than might appear at first glance,” he shared. “When the majority is silent and a tiny minority is very loud, we get the impression that faith is moribund, but I’m convinced that our Lord’s victory in the hearts of his children is, almost all of the time, far greater than we realize.”
“Most people like to see expressions of faith, even when they don’t understand them fully, and even in a city that’s often considered more famous for its sinners than for its many saints.”
The eucharistic procession was organized as part of the Church’s National Eucharistic Revival. The next procession will take place on the feast of Corpus Christi, Sunday, June 11.