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Survey finds correlation between Catholic Mass attendance, political views 

CNA Staff, Sep 21, 2020 / 06:00 pm (CNA).- A recent survey has found a correlation between the religious practices of Catholic likely voters, their party affiliation, and the political issues they say are important, with Catholics who attend Mass regularly saying they are more concerned about abortion, among other issues.

Conducted Aug. 27 - Sept. 1 by RealClear Opinion Research in partnership with EWTN News, the poll surveyed 1,212 likely voters who self-identify as Catholic.

The poll was conducted before the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which is expected to shake up electoral polling as events unfold. EWTN News and RealClear Opinion Research plan to launch a new poll in mid-October, which is expected to reflect the impact on voters of Ginsburg’s death and the subsequent Supreme Court nomination process.

Among poll participants, 36% say they attended Mass once or more per week before restrictions were placed on worship services due to the coronavirus. Another 42% said they attended Mass between once a month and once a year, and 22% said they attended Mass less than once per year.

Sixty-eight percent said at the time of the poll that Supreme Court appointments were a concern in the upcoming election, while 59% said the same about abortion – although among weekly Mass attendees, concern about abortion jumps to 70%.

When broken down by Mass attendance, the new poll showed a significant difference in presidential preferences, as well as differences in their trust of the two main candidates on various topics.

Respondents overall favored Biden over Trump in the upcoming election 53% to 41%, while Catholics who attend Mass at least once per week were split evenly between Biden and Trump. Biden has led Trump overall among Catholic voters in two previous EWTN News/ RealClear polls, while Trump has maintained a lead among some groups of Catholics, including those who attend Mass more than once a week or daily.

As far as party affiliation, Catholic likely voters who are independent or unaffiliated with a major political party were most likely to attend Mass at least weekly, with 44% saying they did so. Thirty-nine percent of Republicans in the survey said they attend Mass at least weekly, and 31% of Democrats said the same.

A quarter of independents said they accept all of what the Church teaches and try to reflect that in their lives, compared to 17% of Republicans and 11% of Democrats in the survey.

Republicans surveyed were slightly more likely to say they pray at least once per week, with 83% saying they did. Seventy-seven percent of Democrats and 75% of independents in the poll said the same.

Asked about issues of concern in the upcoming election, some 9 out of 10 Catholics polled - regardless of Mass attendance - said they were concerned about the coronavirus pandemic, health care, the economy and jobs.

On each of those issues, poll participants trusted Biden more than Trump. However, the divide between weekly Massgoers was narrower than among Catholics overall, and that demographic was split evenly in its trust of Biden and Trump on the economy.

On China trade policy, respondents were more likely to trust Trump than Biden.

Other significant issues for Catholics included civil unrest, over which 84% voiced concern, as well as race relations and immigration, which were each listed by just over three-fourths of poll participants as areas of concern. Sixty percent listed religious freedom as a concern in the upcoming election.

Catholics who attend Mass at least once per week were more likely to be concerned about race relations, immigration, and religious freedom than those who attend Mass less often.


Recalling the unlikely Ginsburg-Scalia friendship

Denver Newsroom, Sep 21, 2020 / 05:15 pm (CNA).- Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last week at age 87, is remembered as a hero of the political left— a self-described feminist who made a name for herself by advocating for women’s equality, and for socially liberal positions such as legalized abortion and same-sex marriage.

She was, in some ways, the last person you might expect to be close friends with a conservative, committed Catholic.

But in fact, Ginsburg had a warm friendship with the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia— a conservative icon and devout Catholic, who died in 2016.

“Their friendship can offer Americans an important lesson in these tense times. They remind us that we share a lot more than politics,” Scalia’s son, Chris, told CNA late last year.

“There's a lot more to life than political opinion. It is possible to disagree with somebody, to have different outlooks on life and politics and the law and your profession, but focus instead on what you have in common, and the things in life that you both enjoy, and focus on those things, and develop a real friendship out of those things.”

Scalia was born in Trenton, New Jersey, the son of an Italian immigrant, and grew up in New York City. He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1986, and served until his death at age 79 in 2016.

Ginsburg also grew up in New York; she was born in 1933 and raised in a Jewish home. President Bill Clinton appointed her to the Supreme Court in 1993.

Famously, Scalia and his wife would spend every New Years Eve throughout the 1980s with the Ginsburgs, Chris said, sometimes staying at their house talking, laughing, and debating until four in the morning.

Some years, Ginsburg’s husband would cook for dinner the venison that Scalia had gathered on his post-Christmas hunting trip.

In the minds of Scalia’s children, “the Ginsburgs were just this couple my parents got to know and really just enjoyed spending time with,” Chris said.

Another of Scalia’s sons, Fr. Paul, a priest of the diocese of Arlington, described his father as a strong personality, a strong intellect, and an unabashed contrarian who loved to debate.

“He was very much a ‘man in full’ as the saying goes, and had a broad variety of interests, from hunting and fishing to the opera,” Fr. Paul told CNA.

His father also was a proud Catholic, who loved the Mass, the liturgy, and the Church's intellectual tradition, the priest said.

Scalia’s love of debate was one of the things that drew him to Ginsburg— a woman with whom he disagreed on many things, including many aspects of the law. But Scalia admired Ginsburg’s determination, especially in an era when it was harder for women to achieve the career success that Ginsburg attained.

“She was a sparring partner with him…My father liked people who would match him, and who would push back,” Father Paul noted.

“He would hire clerks who would challenge him on things. He wanted that. He wanted that intellectual engagement, because he knew that it was good for him. It would test his line of thought and his principles.”

As the longest serving justice on the bench at the time of his death, Justice Scalia is remembered for his strong emphasis on interpreting the law as it was originally written and intended. Ginsburg, in contrast, believed in a “living Constitution” that could be adapted to the times. The two frequently criticized each other’s legal reasoning and opinions.

In their nearly 23 years together on the bench, they heard and debated hugely consequential cases having to do with such issues as abortion, same-sex marriage, and the 2000 presidential election.

When asked about their friendship in a 2014 interview, Justice Scalia seemed to brush off suggestions that it was somehow extraordinary.

“I have never gotten angry at Ruth or at any of my colleagues because of the way they voted in an opinion. I mean, if you cannot disagree with your colleagues on the law without taking it personally, you ought to get another day job,” Scalia said.

“It’s just not the kind of a job that will allow you to behave that way. Ruth and I disagree on the law all the time. It’s never had anything to do with our friendship.”

Another facet of the Scalia-Ginsburg friendship was a mutual sense of humor, Scalia’s sons said. Scalia possessed a rich sense of humor, and loved to sing and tell jokes.

“I think one of the reasons Justice Ginsburg liked my father is that he cracked her up...She said that very few people could make her laugh out loud; basically it was her husband, and my father,” Chris said.

Scalia and Ginsburg first struck up a friendship in the 1980s, when they served together on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Chris said Scalia used to whisper jokes to Ginsburg during arguments, and she would have to pinch herself to keep from laughing out loud.

When they again sat together on the bench, this time on the Supreme Court, Scalia would pass notes to Ginsburg with jokes or funny comments on them.

“I think it strikes us as weird in part because we live in such polarized times, and because they are themselves kind of heroes of very different sides— [Ginsburg] is a legend for the left, and my father is kind of the equivalent for the conservative legal movement. So I think that makes it even stranger to people,” Chris said.

“Obviously they had big differences as far as their jurisprudence went. But it’s really not that strange when you consider the many things they had in common.”

These similarities included growing up in New York around the same time, enjoying good food and wine, and a love of opera.

There even exists a comedic opera about the two justices, called Scalia/Ginsburg, written by a graduate of the Yale School of Music-turned-law school student. The opera includes many jokes and gags that riff on the two’s intellectual and philosophical differences, but also includes moments of unity between the two characters, including a heartwarming duet.

Obviously, there were elements of their worldviews— very significant elements— that Ginsburg and Scalia did not share. Scalia was a devout Catholic, and Ginsburg and her husband Marty were secular Jews.

Still, Father Paul noted that since Scalia was so committed to living out his faith, their friendship doubtless gave Ginsburg a chance to encounter a truly lived Catholicism— and it is clear that she respected that.

“I think my father was aware of giving good witness to the Catholic faith. That was part of who he was. So in his friendship with her, that was going to be part of it...And I think this is the beginning of evangelization: simply demonstrating the ability to be a serious Catholic, but also capable of friendship, and friendship with somebody who is different and who disagrees,” Father Paul said.


Knights of Columbus donates to vandalized Brooklyn parish

CNA Staff, Sep 21, 2020 / 04:09 pm (CNA).- The Knights of Columbus has contributed thousands of dollars to a Brooklyn parish following an act of vandalism earlier this month.

The Knights of Columbus announced Sept. 21 a $10,000 donation to Our Lady of Solace Church. An unknown perpetrator destroyed a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the parish Sept. 11.

“The desecration of our Catholic statues and churches is a grievous crime against all people who value religious freedom,” said Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight.

“Together with Pope Francis, our bishops and faithful everywhere, we stand against violence, hatred and bigotry.”

Father Javier Flores, the parish administrator, said the gift was “overwhelming” and expressed hope that a replacement statue would be erected before Our Lady of Guadalupe’s feast, Dec. 12.

The parish has been struggling financially since the pandemic has reduced tithing, WLNY reported.

According to the church’s security camera, a man climbed the fence in front of the church, toppled a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and then tossed the statue onto the sidewalk.

“Who knows mentally what’s going on with that person in that moment, but you don’t do stuff like that. This is vandalism,” said Coney Island resident Sara Marerro, according to WLNY.

Marerro said an onlooker tried to place the statue back in its proper place, and the two men got into an argument. 

“The other guy came trying to put the statue back. And that’s when they started fighting because the other guy, they were drunk,” Marerro said.

John Quaglione, deputy press secretary for the Diocese of Brooklyn, said the statue often attracts visitors, especially each Sept. 11

“To attack the Blessed Mother on 9/11 in broad daylight is not only brazen, it’s a direct assault of the people that were walking by that day wanted to have a moment of prayer to themselves, wanted to remember someone they may have lost,” Quaglione told WLNY.

The New York City Police Department has offered a $2,500 reward for any relevant information on the man who destroyed the statue.

Vandalism cases at Catholic churches have recently been on the rise throughout the United States.

Isaiah Cantrell, 30, was arrested after he walked into St. Patrick Cathedral in El Paso Sept. 15 and proceeded to smash a nearly 90-year-old statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that was displayed behind the altar.

Chandler Johnson, 23, was arrested for vandalizing the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Tioga, La., Sept. 11. For over two hours, Johnson vandalized the church, breaking at least six windows, beating several metal doors, and destroying numerous statues around the parish grounds.

On July 10, a statue of the Virgin Mary at Cathedral Prep School and Seminary in Queens was defaced by graffiti. Security footage shows an individual approaching the 100-year-old statue shortly after 3 a.m. Friday morning and daubing the word “IDOL” down its length.

Will Catholics return to Mass after the pandemic? Many want to go more often

CNA Staff, Sep 21, 2020 / 04:08 pm (CNA).- The coronavirus pandemic is affecting the way many Catholics think about their faith, a new study has found, and just over half of Catholic likely voters say that once restrictions are lifted, they plan to attend Mass more frequently than they did before the pandemic.

Sixty-four percent of Catholics surveyed said the pandemic has made them think “a lot” differently about what is important in life, while an additional 27% said it has had “some” impact on their perspective. Only 9% said the pandemic has not affected how they think about what is important in life.

The poll, conducted Aug. 27 - Sept. 1 by RealClear Opinion Research in partnership with EWTN News, surveyed 1,212 likely voters who self-identify as Catholic.

Among poll participants, 36% said they attended Mass once or more per week before restrictions were placed on worship services due to the coronavirus. Another 42% said they attended Mass between once a month and once a year, and 22% said they attended Mass less than once per year.

Just over half of those surveyed said that once restrictions are lifted, they plan to attend Mass more frequently than they did before the pandemic. A little more than one-third said they will continue attending Mass with the same frequency, and about 1 in 8 said they will attend Mass less often than they did before.

Sixty-one percent of respondents said the coronavirus has made them think differently about their faith.

Hispanic respondents were most likely to say the pandemic has influenced how they view their faith, with 72% saying it has, compared to 54% of white non-Hispanics and 56% of Black non-Hispanics.

Of those who attended Mass at least once per week before virus restrictions were enacted, 73% said the pandemic has affected their view of their faith, compared to 58% of those who attended Mass monthly or yearly, and 48% who attended Mass less than once per year.

Overall, 44% said their faith has increased since the pandemic began, while 10% said their faith has decreased, and 46% said it has stayed about the same.

Nearly 1 in 5 young adults – those between 18 and 34 years old – said their faith has decreased during the pandemic, compared to fewer than 1 in 10 respondents age 35-54 and 1 in 25 over the age of 54.

Seventy-nine percent of respondents said they have found themselves closer to God during the pandemic, and 93% said they have grown closer to their family.

The inability to attend Mass due to restrictions put in place during the pandemic has been disturbing for the majority of Catholics surveyed. Overall, 71% said they found the experience distressing. Older respondents were more likely to be distressed by the inability to attend Mass than young adults were.

Frequency of Mass attendance before the pandemic was correlated with concern over having to miss Mass. However, even among those who said their Catholic faith has little to no influence in their life, the majority said they were distressed to be unable to attend Mass during the pandemic.

Fifty-eight percent of Catholics surveyed said they feel safe returning to Mass under the current conditions in their state. Comfort levels were highest in the Midwest and lowest in the Western region of the country.

Sixty-four percent of those who attended Mass at least once a week before the pandemic said they feel safe returning to church, compared to 45% of those who previously attended Mass monthly or yearly.

Two-thirds of white, non-Hispanic Catholics said they feel safe returning to Mass currently, while fewer than half of Black and Hispanic Catholics answered similarly.

Overall, 42% approve of how Donald Trump has responded to the pandemic, while 57% disapprove. Joe Biden’s approval rating on the pandemic was 48% among poll participants, with 36% disapproving.

The U.S. bishops’ response to the pandemic met with a 38% approval rating, while 22% said they disapproved. Another 40% were unsure of how to rate the bishops’ response.


Catholic judge Barbara Lagoa on the shortlist of Supreme Court nominees

CNA Staff, Sep 21, 2020 / 03:05 pm (CNA).-  

President Donald Trump’s shortlist of potential nominees to the Supreme Court includes Judge Barbara Lagoa, a Catholic who has spoken about how her faith has shaped her legal career.

Lagoa, 52, was born in Miami and is the daughter of Cuban immigrants. Trump appointed Lagoa to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta in late 2019. She had previously served as a Justice on the Florida Supreme Court, the first Hispanic woman to do so.

President Donald Trump announced Monday that he would announce a nominee by Sept. 26 to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday evening at 87.

In addition to an existing White House list of two dozen potential Supreme Court nominees, Trump added 20 more names Sept. 9, including three sitting U.S. senators.

Trump said that he was “looking at five, probably four, but I'm looking at five very seriously” options to replace Ginsburg. Trump had also said he will nominate a woman for the position.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a Catholic, is widely reported to be the front-runner in the president’s deliberations regarding a nominee, but Lagoa is also on Trump’s shortlist, and Florida lawmakers are said to be advocating for her appointment.

Lagoa, who has three children, has spoken about the importance of the Catholic faith in her own life.

Speaking at an October 2019 dinner for the Thomas More Society, a Catholic lawyers’ organization, Lagoa praised the group’s namesake saint as a model for Catholic law professionals, who she said should not compartmentalize their professional lives from their spiritual lives.

“I suggest that in order to be a good Catholic advocate, one should start with St. Thomas More,” Lagoa told the attorneys. More, the patron saint of attorneys, is hailed for his commitment to his conscience and to Catholic doctrine, which lead eventually to martyrdom.

“It is more than going to Mass every Sunday, and to me at least, it means having a personal relationship with God that in turn informs how we treat others,” she said of her Catholic faith.

Following More’s humility in legal practice “starts with reminding ourselves, even when it is hardest, of the dignity of each human being — even the most difficult opposing counsel — and it also starts with reminding ourselves that none of us are perfect and that we ourselves can contribute to or exacerbate a difficult situation,” she said.

Lagoa also urged lawyers to ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the gifts of wisdom, counsel and fortitude, in daily life, according to the Florida Catholic.

Lagoa has also been outspoken about the importance of her own Catholic education, having attended Catholic elementary and high school in Miami.

As a Florida Supreme Court Justice, she took part in a major ruling reversing a judge’s decision striking down a Florida law that requires that people with past serious criminal convictions pay all fines, restitution and legal fees before regaining the right to vote, NBC News reported.

Lagoa is married and a mother of three.

"I think the most important thing I can tell women about their leadership roles is the thing I tell my three daughters, which is: do not be afraid of failure, do not be afraid to make mistakes, be bold, and take risks,” she said in an April 2019 interview.

“That's the one thing I can tell you about all women who are in positions of leadership; they all have taken risks...Nothing is ever perfect. Just do it, and you will be happy that you did. Maybe you will fail initially, but failure also leads to learning."

Since Justice Ginsburg’s death last week, pro-life and pro-abortion voices have made it clear that any nominee’s stance on abortion will be a key issue. Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz has described Lagoa as “very pro-life, reliably pro-life.”

Lagoa said in written answers to the Senate upon her nomination to the appeals court that she believes Roe v. Wade is “settled law” and that as an appellate court judge, she “would faithfully follow it as I would follow all precedent of the Supreme Court.”

“I am particularly mindful of the fact that under our constitutional system, it is for the legislature, and not the courts, to make the law. It is the role of judges to apply, not to alter, the work of the people's representatives. And it is the role of judges to interpret our constitution and our statutes as they are written,” Lagoa said in a speech after being appointed to the Florida Supreme Court.

If the Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade and removes the inferred constitutional protection for abortion, the legality of abortion would be subject to state-by-state regulation.

As many as a dozen states, including New York and California, have enshrined a right to abortion in their own constitutions. Other states, such as Arkansas, have “trigger laws” on the books that would automatically ban abortion entirely if the case were overturned.

On Saturday, Americans United for Life, a major pro-life organization, endorsed Judge Barrett and urged President Trump to nominate her.

Trump’s likely nomination of a Supreme Court Justice to replace Ginsburg has become a matter of political controversy, in an already fractious U.S. political and social context.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged Friday that a Trump Supreme Court nominee will be voted on for confirmation by the United States Senate, even while there are fewer than seven weeks until the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Democratic leaders have pushed back, and pointed to McConnell’s refusal to consider Obama Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in March 2016, seven months before that year’s presidential contest. At the time, Republicans said that it would be more appropriate to wait until after the November election to fill the Court vacancy.

McConnell defended his decision Friday night, saying that “in the last midterm election before Justice Scalia’s death in 2016, Americans elected a Republican Senate majority because we pledged to check and balance the last days of a lame-duck president’s second term. We kept our promise. Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year.”