ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM MANILA, Philippines (CNS) – Pope Francis said his September trip to the U.S. will take him to Philadelphia, New York and Washington – where he intends to canonize Blessed Junipero Serra – but probably no other stops.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) – Micah Herbst of Sioux City does not have a son on the football team at Bishop Heelan Catholic High School.
MANCHESTER – Hundreds gathered at St. Bridget Parish on Jan. 11 to honor Father Stephen Sledesky, who was recognized as this year’s Archdiocesan Distinguished Elementary School Pastor. The award is presented annually to a pastor who exemplifies leadership, dedication and commitment to Catholic school education.
MANILA, Philippines (CNS) -- Pope Francis told a crowd of an estimated 6 million gathered in a Manila park to protect the family "against insidious attacks and programs contrary to all that we hold true and sacred, all that is most beautiful and noble in our culture."
HARTFORD – Archbishop Emeritus Henry J. Mansell and the late David A. Lentini were recipients of the St. Francis Spirit Award during the annual luncheon meeting of St. Francis Care, parent company of St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, at the Connecticut Convention Center Jan. 7.
Wilfrid Macena and other members of a Haitian amputee soccer team present Pope Francis with a soccer jersey on Jan. 12, commemorating the fifth anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson stands to Mr. Macena’s left.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Highlighting some of the most urgent conflicts facing the world, Pope Francis said such strife and injustices were rooted in a culture of rejection that refuses to recognize God, to protect nature and to respect other human beings.
In a wide-ranging speech Jan. 12 to diplomats accredited to the Vatican, the pope urged the world's governments and individuals to work "to end every form of fighting, hatred and violence, and to pursue reconciliation, peace and the defense of the transcendent dignity of the human person."
CROMWELL – Taking the Obama Administration to task for what he considers its assault on the values and freedoms of Americans, Alan Sears, one of the leading legal advocates for religious liberty, urged an audience attending a bioethics lecture to "take a stand" for issues that preserve life and freedom.
"This administration is waging a war on everything our Founding Fathers held dear, trying to destroy the heart of America, its rich heritage of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," said Mr. Sears, president, CEO and general counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an organization that works to defend religious liberty, marriage and human life.
"This administration has turned the purpose of government on its head," he continued. "No longer is its purpose to protect and defend our religious liberty. Rather, it is now becoming a tyrannical tool used to undermine our freedoms and eradicate our conscience."
Mr. Sears made his comments at the annual Pope John Paul II Bioethics Lecture on Oct. 5 at Holy Apostles College and Seminary.
He explained that when ADF began in 1993, the pressing issues of the day were defending religious freedom, sanctity of life and marriage. But he noted that it was "just the tip of the iceberg."
"We had no idea that within two decades, America would be faced with some of the most challenging threats to religious liberty and the family in our nation’s history," he said, threats "from our own government, the very institution established to protect this liberty from such threats."
Then, he said, "Under the guise of wanting to ensure all Americans receive what they call health care, the Obama administration implemented ObamaCare … one of the most egregious pieces of government action ever."
The federal health care law’s mandates and decrees, Mr. Sears asserted, "violate the conscience of people of faith … by forcing employers to provide free contraceptive and abortifacient drugs in the health care coverage of their employers."
The impact, he explained, is already affecting companies and institutions throughout the United States, including Hercules Industries, a small, 50-year-old heating and cooling business owned by a Catholic family in Colorado.
Earlier this year, Mr. Sears and ADF won an injunction for its Catholic business owners to stop the Obama administration’s health care mandate that requires employers to provide for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraceptives.
After ADF won the injunction, the Denver City Council denied a proclamation it was going to present to the company in recognition of its contributions to the community over the years, including the historic restoration of company headquarters and, ironically, its "generous employee health care coverage," Mr. Sears said.
"Our attorneys are working tirelessly across the nation to safeguard your liberties" and the liberties of others who are standing up for their Christian religious rights, he said.
Other cases that Mr. Sears said are being defended by ADF’s lawyers involve pharmacists who refused to sell abortion pills, nursing students who are required to participate in an abortion as part of their training and a Catholic anesthesiologist who risked her job to fight her employer over providing late-term abortions.
"More and more Christians who refuse to comply with the government’s anti-life agenda are being excoriated of their rights," he stated.
These and other issues, such as abortion, abortifacients, sterilizations, redefinition of marriage, stem cell research and destruction of human embryo, "undermine the fundamental commitment to preserve life and religious freedom…the hallmark of our laws, our culture, and our nation’s character for more than 200 years," he said.
"We live in an age … during a crucial election year," said Mr. Sears, "where a political and legal battle wages about the law and the meaning of life.
"We cannot stand idly by. We cannot do nothing," he said.
"We have a responsibility to stand up for God’s truth," said Mr. Sears. "It is now the time to take a stand…to pray...to act…to defend."
Mr. Sears also used the occasion to honor Brian R. Brill, nephew of Deacon Tom Davis, associate director of the college’s John Paul II Bioethics Center, who lost his life as a Navy SEAL on Aug. 6, 2011, while serving in Afghanistan (and who was profiled in the program brochure).
Explaining Brian’s love for his military career and his role in defending freedom for Americans, Mr. Sears challenged his audience, saying, "Together we must never allow any government to tell us the limits of love."
"We know and understand … that freedom and life can never really exist apart from one another," he said. "They are two wings of the same eagle….As we protect life, as we protect marriage, we defend freedom.
"Whether it’s on a battlefield, in a voting booth, in a classroom, in a professional journal, in a pulpit or a courtroom, we are fighting for life (and for marriage as the source of life) and freedom, opposing government efforts to limit love."
"Alan is the most eloquent, successful [and] knowledgeable of legal advocates for religious liberty in the country and in the world right now," said Deacon Davis, who is the associate director of the Pope John Paul II Bioethics Center at the college.
"He is standing up against incredible intrusions on the first freedoms in this country," he noted, "where citizens are being forced to choose between their conscience and their jobs, their business, their education."
The lecture was preceded by a concert by pianist Katherine Rex, an emerging talent in classical music. She is the daughter of Charles Rex, a first violinist with the New York Philharmonic, and Dr. Elizabeth Rex, a pro-life advocate and bioethics professor at Holy Apostles.