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Abortion groups target Feinstein after Amy Coney Barrett hearings

CNA Staff, Oct 19, 2020 / 08:00 pm (CNA).- Abortion-advocacy groups have called for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to step down as ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee after the confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett. 

In an Oct. 16, statement, Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL, called for “new leadership” for Democrats on the committee following Feinstein’s polite tone in remarks at the conclusion of the four days of Senate hearings last week. 

During the hearing on Thursday, Feinstein thanked Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, for presiding over “one of the best set of hearings that I’ve participated in.” 

“I want to thank you for your fairness and the opportunity of going back and forth,” she said.

“It leaves one with a lot of hopes, a lot of questions, and even some ideas--perhaps some good bipartisan legislation we can put together to make this great country even better,” said Feinstein, who is pro-choice, has not supported the nomination of Barrett to the Supreme Court, and has in the past criticized the judge's Catholicism.

The two senators then shook hands and embraced. 

Feinstein's remarks to Graham, Hogue alleged, lent an “appearance of credibility to the proceedings,” one that is “widely out of step with the American people.” 

“As such, we believe the committee needs new leadership,” she said, calling Barrett’s confirmation process “illegitimate” and “a sham.” 

Hogue said that Barrett, a Catholic, an appeals court judge, law professor, and mother of seven, poses “a grave threat to every freedom and right we hold dear and tears the very fabric of our democracy.” 

“Americans--whose lives hang in the balance--deserve leadership that underscores how unprecedented, shameful and wrong this process is.”

Barrett was nominated to the position of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on September 26, eight days after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

Feinstein has served as ranking member of the committee since January 2017. During hearings that year for Barrett’s confirmation to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Feinstein challenged Barrett over her Catholic faith, observing to Barrett that “the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern.”

NARAL has consistently endorsed Feinstein during her time in the Senate, saying in 2018 that she is “at the forefront of the movement to safeguard our rights.” 

“We need leaders in the Senate like Senator Feinstein who will stand up for the rights of women and families across California,” said NARAL in their 2018 endorsement. 

NARAL was not the only organization calling for Feinstein to step down from her position. The group Demand Justice started a petition drive calling for Feinstein to resign from the committee, stating that the senator’s “behavior during Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation hearings demonstrates that she is only standing in our way of fighting to protect our courts.”

“Sen. Feinstein has undercut Democrats' position at every step of this process, from undermining calls for filibuster and Court reform straight through to thanking Republicans for the most egregious partisan power grab in the modern history of the Supreme Court,” said the petition.

Justice Democrats, which aims to elect progressive candidates to Congress, echoed the calls for Feinstein to depart from the Judiciary Committee, tweeting “Dianne Feinstein must step down.”

Feinstein, who has consistently supported pro-abortion policy in the Senate, opposed Barrett's nomination since the president announced it, calling it “unprecedented” and criticizing the speed at which it was happening. 

“The rush to confirm Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court is unprecedented in my time on the committee,” said Feinstein on October 15. 

“The process exists for a reason, so we can adequately question and evaluate a nominee. There’s absolutely no need to jam this nominee through before a consequential election.”

While NARAL says Feinstein has not done enough, the senator has indicated repeatedly that she will not be voting to confirm Barrett to the Supreme Court. 

Poll: Catholic likely voters support Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination

CNA Staff, Oct 19, 2020 / 04:27 pm (CNA).-  

Catholic likely voters support Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination as a Supreme Court justice by a nearly 20-point margin over those who oppose the appointment, according to a new poll released Monday.

Conducted Oct. 5-11 by RealClear Opinion Research in partnership with EWTN News, the poll surveyed 1,490 likely voters who self-identify as Catholic.

Forty-six percent said they support Barrett’s nomination, while 28% oppose it and 27% do not have an opinion, the poll found.

Support was divided among political lines, with 77% of Catholic Republicans supporting the nomination and 4% opposing, compared to 24% of Catholic Democrats supporting and 46% opposing.

Nearly 4 in 10 Catholic independents support Barrett’s nomination, with almost 3 in 10 opposing and about 1 in 3 saying they don’t have enough information to make a decision.

Fifty-seven percent of men surveyed said they support the appointment, compared to 37% of women. Fifty-four percent of white survey respondents said they support the nomination, compared to 40% of Black respondents and 32% of Hispanics.

Catholics who say they accept all of the Church’s teachings were significantly more likely to support Barrett’s nomination, with 74% saying they did, compared to 39% of those who say they do not accept everything that the Church teaches.

Barrett was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Donald Trump on September 26, to fill the vacancy created by the recent death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Democratic leaders have argued that Trump should not have nominated a replacement for Ginsburg so close to the presidential election, but should have waited to allow the winner of the election to make the appointment. Trump has responded by saying that his term is not over and an incumbent president has a responsibility to fill vacancies.

Forty-eight percent of Catholic likely voters said a president should fill a Supreme Court vacancy in an election year, while 43% said a president should wait so that the winner of the election can make the appointment, with another 9% saying they were uncertain.

Republicans overwhelmingly said that a president should fill an election year vacancy, with 8 in 10 agreeing, compared to about a quarter of Democrats and half of Independents who said the same.

Barrett’s Catholic faith has drawn significant attention since her nomination. Her faith was also in the spotlight during her 7th Circuit Court of Appeals nomination hearing in 2017, when Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told her, “When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern.”

By a 2-1 margin, poll participants said they found the 2017 comment inappropriate, with 51% saying it was not appropriate, 26% saying it was an acceptable remark, and 23% unsure.

Among Republicans and Independents, more than 60% said it was an unacceptable remark, compared to 38% of Democrats who said the same. Older voters were more likely to find the comment inappropriate than younger voters were.

Almost 3 in 4 poll respondents said they support the constitutional provision that bars religious tests for public office.

Sixty-four percent said religion should not be a factor in confirming a court appointee. Majorities of Republican, Democrat, and Independent respondents agreed with this statement, as did majorities of both men and women, and poll participants from every geographic region of the country.

Barrett’s nomination has also sparked renewed speculation that the Supreme Court could revisit Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that mandated legal abortion nationwide.

Forty-five percent of poll participants said they believe Roe v. Wade should be upheld, while 25% said it should be reversed and abortion should be ruled unconstitutional. Eighteen percent said the issue should be returned to the states, and 13% said they were unsure.

Men and women answered almost identically in their opinions on Roe v. Wade. Black respondents were about twice as likely to say abortion should be ruled unconstitutional as white and Hispanic respondents were.


Where Catholic likely voters stand on issues, candidates, ahead of presidential election

CNA Staff, Oct 19, 2020 / 04:20 pm (CNA).-  

A poll released this week has found that Catholics from both major political parties said they want candidates to support religious freedom and oppose taxpayer funding of abortion, while they identified the economy and the coronavirus pandemic as major concerns leading up to the election.

The poll found that Catholic likely voters, divided mostly along party lines, favor the election of Joe Biden over President Donald Trump. Biden's lead among Catholic voters narrowed in several swing states, and among Catholics who attend Mass weekly.

Overall, 78% said they were more likely to support candidates who protect religious freedom for people of faith. This included majorities of both men and women, as well as majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, and majorities of every age range, geographic region, and race surveyed.

At least 3 in 4 Catholics – regardless of how frequently they attend Mass – said that they are more likely to favor candidates who support religious freedom.

Conducted Oct. 5-11 by RealClear Opinion Research in partnership with EWTN News, the poll surveyed 1,490 likely voters who self-identify as Catholic.

Asked about the upcoming presidential election, respondents overall favored Biden over Trump 52% to 40%. These numbers are virtually unchanged from a previous poll conducted by RealClear Opinion Research in partnership with EWTN News in late August and early September.

In the October poll, 90% of Republican respondents favored Trump, and 92% of Democratic respondents favored Biden. Independents preferred Biden over Trump 44%-34%, with 23% saying they are undecided.

The gap between the candidates narrows significantly in the swing states of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. In those states Biden leads by four points (48% to 44%), which is within the poll’s margin of error.

Among weekly Mass attendees, Biden’s lead in the poll narrows to six points, 48%-42%.

Catholic likely voters who say they accept everything the Church teaches told pollsters they are more likely to vote for Trump over Biden 56%-38%, the poll found.

Catholics who say they believe all of the Church’s teachings also prefer Trump’s policies, 55%-39%. Among all Catholic voters, however, Biden outpaces Trump when it comes to the preference of a candidate’s policies; 53% of Catholic likely voters prefer Biden’s policies, while 41% prefer Trump’s and 5% “don’t know.”

Biden also outperforms Trump on the question of temperament; one-third of Catholics polled said they preferred Trump’s temperament, with almost 6 in 10 saying that they preferred Biden’s temperament. Female Catholic voters and Hispanic Catholics said they preferred Biden’s temperament by a 33-point margin and a 52-point margin, respectively.

On the question of temperament, those who say they accept everything the Church teaches prefer Trump by one point.

When considering issues in light of the upcoming presidential election, 95% of respondents said they are concerned about the economy, and 92% said they are concerned about health care.

In addition, 89% said the coronavirus pandemic concerns them, 83% said the same about civil unrest, 81% about Supreme Court appointments and 77% about race relations. Abortion and religious freedom were each listed as an issue of concern by 66% of respondents.

A majority of respondents said the following were major concerns: economy and jobs (73%), coronavirus (68%), health care (67%) and civil unrest (53%).

Sixty percent said they are less likely to support a candidate who supports abortion at any time in a pregnancy, while 28% said they are more likely to support such a candidate.

Fifty-two percent said they are less likely to support a candidate who favors taxpayer funding of abortion in the U.S., compared to 34% who said they would be more likely to support such a candidate.

Women showed more opposition than men did to candidates supporting abortion throughout an entire pregnancy, as well as to taxpayer funding of abortion. Weekly Mass attendees showed more opposition to candidates holding these positions than less frequent Mass attendees did.

Respondents were more closely split on immigration, with 47% saying they would prefer a candidate who supports expanding immigration to the U.S., and 41% saying they are less likely to support a candidate who holds this position.
Younger Catholics are more likely to favor candidates who want to expand immigration than older Catholics are, and Hispanic respondents are more likely to favor these candidates than white or Black respondents are.

Asked their view on candidates who want to require Catholic organizations to provide insurance coverage including contraception and abortion, 38% said they are more likely to support such a candidate, while 42% said they are less likely. Twenty percent said they were unsure.

Forty-five percent of poll participants said they believe Roe v. Wade should be upheld, while 25% said it should be reversed and abortion should be ruled unconstitutional. Eighteen percent said the issue should be returned to the states, and 13% said they were unsure.

Men and women answered almost identically in their opinions on Roe v. Wade. Black respondents were about twice as likely to say abortion should be ruled unconstitutional as white and Hispanic respondents were.


Spain's twentieth century martyrs were not only from Spanish Civil War

CNA Staff, Oct 19, 2020 / 03:01 pm (CNA).- While there is a tendency to associate the Spanish martyrs of the 20th century solely with the civil war of 1936-39, there were decades of preparation leading to this, accompanied by desecrations of churches, according to a Spanish priest serving in Rome.

The religious persecution in Spain in the 20th century took “some preparation. It is not something that can be narrowed down, it cannot be limited simply to the first months of the Spanish Civil War,” Msgr. José Jaime Brosel Gavilà, rector of Santa Maria in Monserrato degli Spagnoli, the Spanish national church in Rome, told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language news partner.

Msgr. Brosel is a priest of the Archdiocese of Valencia and an expert on 20th century Spanish martyrs.

“We have martyrs from 1909, such as Brother Lycarión, a Marist religious who died in the context of the Tragic Week in Barcelona. There was destruction of churches in 1931, there were the canonized martyrs of 1934, and certainly the first months of the Civil War,” he said.

“The second half of the year 1936 is perhaps where there was a greater number of martyrs, but the persecution cannot be limited to the Civil War, but covers all those first decades of the 20th century, and also covers not only Spain, but all of Europe.”

During the Spanish Civil War, Republicans martyred thousands of clerics, religious, and laity; of these, 11 have been canonized, and 1,915 beatified.

While a great number of the martyrs lost their lives during the civil war, there were also other periods, such as the Tragic Week, an uprising of Republicans, socialists, and anarchists in Catalonia in July 1909; the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic in 1931; and the Revolution of 1934, a movement of rebellious strikes.

These incidents were also accompanied by the destruction of religious buildings, desecrations, persecution, and the murder of priests, bishops, men and women religious, and lay people out of hatred of the faith.

There is some debate about how to refer to the Spanish martyrs of this historical period. Msgr. Brosel said that appropriate designations are "Spanish martyrs of the 20th century, or the first half of the 20th century, or the first decades of the 20th century."

In any case, “it wouldn’t be right to identify the martyrs with the Civil War. A war never produces martyrs, it produces victims. Historians like Msgr. Vicente Cárcel, or the Spanish bishops have strongly emphasized this,” the priest noted.

"They’re not martyrs of war, they’re martyrs of persecution, martyrs who died forgiving, and martyrs whose martyrdom was nothing more than the culmination of a life of faith.”

Many of them “could have been beatified for their virtues without any problem even if they hadn’t died a bloody death. But the motivation was hatred of faith, and that hatred of faith is shown by the lack of trials. There were no trials with legal guarantees. Generally, there weren’t any trials, and if there were, they were sham trials. Those who searched for and captured people generally didn’t know anything about the person other than ‘he’s a priest, he’s a religious, the person is a man or a woman of the Church.’ There was no other motivation.”

“We have to understand these martyrs in a context of religious persecution in many countries. There are martyrs of Nazism, there are martyrs of the communist regimes… We cannot simply identify them with a war or with an ideology,” Msgr. Brosel argued, and adding that “Saint John Paul II called the 20th century the great century of martyrs."

He said the martyrdoms were cruel, “with revenge, with the desecration of corpses. The martyrs were not accused for any political, economic, or social reasons. There was something else to it. There were anti-religious rituals in the destruction of churches.”

For example, he said, “those who destroyed churches, who burned them, wore vestments in mock processions… There was an anti-religious ritual, there was no simple intention of destroying national patrimony, but a complete kind of symbolic language was used, making clear what was intended.”

Another element aspect of this anti-religious ritual is the way people were martyred.

“The persecutor attacked what was considered to be reprehensible, i.e. the mouth. Many martyrs had their tongues cut out because preaching comes through the mouth or because they refused to blaspheme. Or the genital area. Some of martyrs were told: ‘If you agree to consort with prostitutes, we’ll save you.’ And they end up cutting off their genitals.”

In short, “there was no accusation other than hatred of the faith. There were often- repeated false accusations: ‘They have weapons in the convent, there are illegal radio transmitters in the convent, the water has been poisoned, they’re hiding money ....’ In the end, everything was proven to be false. There was no other motivation than hatred of the faith.”

The Spanish Civil War remains controversial in the country. Francisco Franco, leader of the victorious Nationalist forces, was Spain’s head of state from the end of the war until his death in 1975.

In October 2019, Franco's body was exhumed from the Basilica of the Holy Cross at the Valley of the Fallen, fulling a pledge of the government of Pedro Sanchez, secretary-general of the Spanish Socialist Worker's Party.

Those who sympathize or identify with the Republican side tend to simply focus on the atrocities committed by the Nationalist side, and vice versa.

Msgr. Brosel acknowledged that there were also innocent victims, not martyrs per se, on the Republican side of the conflict and explained that in that sense "when you try to focus attention on those of one side (of the war) at that time, it’s justified by saying 'perhaps those in the other side have already had enough tributes.’ I believe that what is being considered in some cases is just, i.e. the recovery of bodies, moving toward healing, an encounter. But we can’t always be throwing stones at each other.”

“For the most part, our Spanish martyrs were men and women who had dedicated themselves to teaching the poorest of the poor, giving a free education to the least, the children of workers, creating charitable institutions of charity, supporting the most disadvantaged.”

Msgr. Brosel stressed that “it is unfair to say that (the victims) were from one party or another. A common element among all of them is that they died forgiving. At this time it would be necessary to condemn all deaths because no death is justifiable, not to hide any, and even less, to hide the death of innocent people like the martyrs.”

Regarding the total number of martyrs in Spain during the 20th century, “there is no reliable data. Sometimes hundreds of thousands were mentioned, but there is no reliable data.” The number of those beatified for hatred of the faith is in the hundreds, and “the open processes of hundreds of martyrs continue.”

“I believe that it will never be possible to establish the total figure, and I believe that it will be increasingly difficult because there are no longer many eyewitnesses who knew, not only of the physical death, but also the motivation of the persecutor, or how the person lived his faith: how those who died accepted it from faith. Today we hardly have any witnesses and the documents demonstrating martyrdom are few."

Among the martyr’s testimonies that particularly impacted him, Msgr. Brosel cited the “witness of Teresa Ferragut, an older woman who had four daughters who were nuns. She asked to die last because in that way she could encourage her daughters, like the mother of the Maccabees, not to falter, to remain faithful until the end.”

The expert said he was also moved by the “mothers of young priests. They’re not martyrs, the priests are, but the mother encouraged them: ‘Stay faithful to the end, my son. Faithful to the end.’”

“It is a beautiful puzzle that the Spanish martyrs offer us. With many common elements, a great deal of them, and the main one is a witness of faith and an invitation to forgiveness and reconciliation. And not just the martyrs, the families of the martyrs. It’s rare to find a family who would later file a complaint.”

“What we found are families of martyrs who asked their own children to forgive, to be reconciled. I wouldn’t say to forget, I believe that forgetting isn’t good, because what is forgotten we’re condemned to repeat, but asking that the blood of those relatives who had been martyred serve to build a new country, a different country, and not sometimes a country that gives us the impression that it wants to build by throwing stones, by confrontation, accusations, but from justice, of course, but from forgiveness and looking forward,” he concluded.

A version of this story was first reported by ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

After teacher beheaded, some in France turn to Fr. Jacques Hamel

CNA Staff, Oct 19, 2020 / 02:13 pm (CNA).-  

Religious leaders gathered at a memorial to slain French priest Fr. Jacques Hamel Sunday, following the beheading of a Paris school teacher in an Islamist terror attack.

Catholic Archbishop Dominique Lebrun of Rouen was joined by representatives of Muslim, Jewish, and other Christian communities Oct. 18 at the memorial near the church of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, where Hamel was murdered by Islamists in 2016.

They laid a wreath in honor of Samuel Paty, who was killed Oct. 16 in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a suburb of Paris. The religious leaders then observed a minute’s silence.

In a statement, members of the interfaith committee of Rouen said they had gathered “to express their shock and utmost condemnation of the murder.”

“God cannot ask to kill,” they said, alluding to reports that the perpetrator, Abdoullakh Abouyedovich Anzorov, attacked Paty after the teacher showed his class a cartoon depicting the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

Eyewitnesses said that Anzorov shouted “Allahu akbar” -- Arabic for “God is great” -- as he murdered Paty near the middle school where he taught. The 18-year-old Russian national of Chechen origin was shot dead by police shortly after the murder.

The religious leaders said that they committed themselves, “each according to their tradition, to guide their community, to educate the youth, so that they build a true fraternity with all where dialogue replaces violence.”


Le Comité interconfessionnel de Rouen a déposé aujourd'hui une gerbe en hommage à Samuel Paty devant la stèle érigée en mémoire du Père Jacques Hamel, à Saint-Étienne du Rouvray. Ses membres ont ensuite observé une longue minute de silence en mémoire de l'enseignant assassiné.

— Diocèse de Rouen - Eglise catholique (@DioceseRouen) October 18, 2020  

In a separate statement Oct. 17, Lebrun -- who was Hamel’s bishop -- extended the condolences of Catholics in Rouen diocese to Paty’s family.

“May the murderer and those who feed fanaticism find light in an authentic encounter with God. God never wants death, not even that of the wicked. He wants humanity to turn away from evil to rediscover its vocation to love,” the bishop said in a statement cosigned with two other Catholic officials.

Other French bishops joined Lebrun in lamenting Paty’s murder.

Bishop Éric Aumonier of Versailles, the diocese that includes Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, said Oct. 16 that the killing “shakes us, like all citizens attached to the values of freedom, equality and fraternity.”

“We carry him in our prayers, with his family, colleagues, students, and all those who are deeply wounded by this appalling act,” Aumonier said in a joint statement with Versailles auxiliary Bishop Bruno Valentin.

Hamel was killed by supporters of the Islamic State while offering Mass July 26, 2016. The Rouen diocese began a preliminary inquiry into the priest’s sainthood cause the same year, after Pope Francis waived the traditional five-year waiting period.




UK court to review Down Syndrome abortion law

CNA Staff, Oct 19, 2020 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- The High Court of England and Wales has agreed to hear a challenge to the country’s abortion law, which allows children with Down syndrome to be aborted until birth, as discriminatory towards people diagnosed with the condition. 

The application, which was filed by Heidi Crowter, a woman with Down syndrome, and Máire Lea-Wilson, mother of 16-month-old son Aiden, who has Down syndrome, was granted on October 17. 

Lawyer Paul Conrathe, who represents Crowter and Lea-Wilson, called it a “hugely significant moment.” 

“The Court has recognized it is arguable that the State is acting unlawfully towards babies with Down’s Syndrome by allowing them to be aborted up to birth,” said Coranthe in a statement released on Saturday. 

Now, said Coranthe, the government has to “prepare its detailed evidence” saying that allowing abortion until birth for babies with Down syndrome is not discriminatory, which the court will review.

He stated that he expected the trial will happen “early next year.” 

Abortion is legal in the United Kingdom until the 24th week of pregnancy, except for when continuing the pregnancy is dangerous to the physical or mental health of the mother, as well as in cases where the baby will "suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped."

Lea-Wilson’s son Aiden was not diagnosed with Down syndrome until the 34th week of his gestation. He was born two weeks later, at 36 weeks and three days gestation. She said that she was offered the option to abort Aiden three times after he was diagnosed. 

“During this time of great vulnerability, I was told that my child would not be able to live independently, might not be able to walk or talk, would suffer through surgeries to correct his intestinal issues and possible congenital heart defects, that there was a high chance of stillbirth, and that he would make our lives so much more challenging,” she said in a statement published by Sky News. 

Lea-Wilson said being repeatedly offered an abortion gave her the sense that Down syndrome “must be very, very bad indeed.”

Instead, she said, her son is “a delight” and has exceeded her expectations, but she remains concerned about his future, and cannot trust that he will be treated equally under U.K. law. 

“We live in a society that proclaims that we want to empower those with disabilities, and that regardless of your background, you deserve a fair and equal chance at life,” she said. 

“This law, which allows abortion up until birth, is outdated, and we can do so much better than this.”

Report: Secret audio recording shows key figures discussing Vatican’s London property deal

CNA Staff, Oct 19, 2020 / 01:00 pm (CNA).- An Italian newspaper claimed Monday that it had gained access to a secret audio recording of a meeting between three central figures in the Vatican’s controversial London property deal.

In a report published Oct. 19, the Corriere della Sera newspaper said it had heard “extensive excerpts” from a meeting between Gianluigi Torzi, Fabrizio Tirabassi, and Enrico Crasso on Dec. 19, 2018. 

The report, which includes the audio file, said the three men can be heard discussing the deal which is now at the center of a criminal investigation by the Vatican judiciary. 

CNA has not independently verified the authenticity of the recording, which the newspaper said was “at times incomprehensible.”

Corriere della Sera said the meeting took place in a private room at the five-star Bulgari Hotel in Milan, two weeks after the Vatican Secretariat of State reached a deal to end its relationship with the Italian businessman Raffaele Mincione and take full ownership of a building on London’s Sloane Avenue.

According to the newspaper, Tirabassi, a lay official at the Secretariat of State who oversaw investments, can be heard in the recording thanking Torzi, an Italian broker, for his help in securing the deal.

Tirabassi then allegedly tried to persuade Torzi to part with a thousand voting shares belonging to Gutt SA, Torzi’s Luxembourg-based company that took over the building at 60 Sloane Avenue and meant to act as a pass through between Mincione and the Vatican.

Corriere della Sera claimed that Tirabassi warned Torzi of the possibility that “everything will be centralized” at the Vatican amid financial reforms, weakening the discretionary authority of the Secretariat of State over investments. 

“This is not good for you,” he allegedly told Torzi.

Torzi then reportedly pushed to be paid up to 10 million euros. The newspaper added that Torzi said that he needed help regarding the purchase of a real estate bond using Vatican funds. 

“Tomorrow if you don’t buy Augusto I’m in the [expletive],” he allegedly said, insisting on an eight million euro investment. 

The newspaper reported that during an animated discussion that followed, Crasso, a longtime investment manager for the Vatican, tried to mediate. It claimed that he suggested a pay-off for Torzi of between six and 10 million, established by a contract. 

The Corriere della Sera said that the meeting ended without an agreement, but that Torzi received 15 million euros from the Secretariat of State in May 2019. 

On June 5, Vatican officials arrested Torzi for his role in the London property deal, charging him with “extortion, embezzlement, aggravated fraud and money laundering.” 

Torzi was granted bail on June 15, following questioning about the sale and purchase of the building at 60 Sloane Avenue.

Tirabassi was one of five Vatican employees suspended in October 2019, following a raid conducted by Vatican gendarmes, who seized computers and documents related to financial dealings at the department.

CNA has previously reported that Tirabassi was appointed a director of a company owned by Torzi while the businessman was finalizing the Vatican’s purchase of the London property.

According to corporate filings, Tirabassi, who was responsible for managing financial investments for the secretariat, was appointed a director of Gutt SA, the Luxembourg company owned by Torzi and used to transfer ownership of the building between Mincione and the Vatican.

Filings for Gutt SA with the Luxembourg Registre de Commerce et des Sociétés show that Tirabassi was appointed a director on Nov. 23, 2018 and removed by a filing sent on Dec. 27. At the time of his appointment as director, Tirabassi’s business address was listed as the Secretariat of State in Vatican City.

In May this year, CNA asked Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin if he was aware of the appointment, and whether he considered it appropriate for an official at the secretariat to accept such a position. CNA also asked if officials at the secretariat are generally permitted to accept such positions.

Parolin told CNA at the time that it would not be appropriate for him to respond, “especially taking into account the ongoing legal proceedings.” 

Earlier this month, Crasso defended his stewardship of Church funds controlled by the Secretariat of State, saying that the investments he had made were “no secret.”

Colorado's Catholic dioceses pay $6.6 million in abuse settlements

Denver, Colo., Oct 19, 2020 / 12:01 pm (CNA).- An independent reparation and reconciliation program for the three dioceses in Colorado announced Friday that $6.68 million had been paid to 73 victims of clerical abuse who were minors at the time the abuse occurred.

The program is administered by Camille Biros and Kenneth Feinberg, independent from control by the Church, and is monitored by an independent board, the Independent Oversight Committee.

The IOC said Oct. 16 that “The administrators and the IOC have received positive feedback from program participants. Many survivors (and their attorneys) have commended the option to seek compensation in a non-adversarial forum independent from the Dioceses and without regard for the statute of limitations.”

The program was accounced in October 2019, and the claims process has now closed.

During the process, 98 claims were made, of which 81 were determined to be eligible for compensation.

The $6.68 million has been paid to 73 victims. Of the remaining eight, one is being paid; four have not yet responded to the compensation offer, and three are awaiting law enforcement notification by the claimants.

Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver said Oct. 16 told the victims who participated in the program, “I have met with all of you who requested a meeting in which I could offer an apology to you in person, and will meet with anyone else should you desire to do so. I know others have chosen a different path for healing and I, of course, respect your wishes. Please know, on behalf of myself and the Church, I am deeply sorry for the pain and hurt that was caused by the abuse you suffered.”

“I remain steadfastly committed to meeting with any survivor who desires to meet with me and doing everything I can so that the problems of the past never repeat themselves. I know that money cannot fully heal the wounds you suffered, but hope that those of you who came forward felt heard, acknowledged, and that the reparations offer a measure of justice and access to resources,” he added.

The archbishop told any victims who have not come forward that the archdiocese “can help you find other resources that will provide the assistance you need.”

The program followed the release of a report issued after a seven-month investigation conducted by a former U.S. Attorney, Bob Troyer. Colorado’s bishops and the state’s attorney general decided mutually to support the investigation, which was funded by an anonymous donor.

That October 2019 report found that 43 diocesan priests since 1950 had been credibly accused of sexually abusing at least 166 children in the state.

Archbishop Aquila noted that “some substantiated allegations in the Program were made against priests not previously identified” in the October 2019 report, and said that “the identity of priests who were accused of wrongdoing in the Program process where those allegations were deemed substantiated … will be included in an addendum.”

Troyer will prepare that report as well, which is expected to be released nexth month.

“None of the survivors who participated in the Program reported abuse in the last 20 years – meaning
that the abuse alleged in the Program, like that set out in the Special Master’s original report, involves
incidents that occurred decades ago,” the archbishop added.

Nearly 70% of victims identified in the October 2019 were abused in the 1960s and 1970s, and the most recent acts of clerical sexual abuse documented in the report took place in 1998, when a now incarcerated and laicized Denver priest sexually abused a teenage boy.

The IOC said the most recent time frame of abuse in the report or the IRRP process is 1999.

Archbishop Aquila stated that “this independent program and the independent review conducted by the dioceses in Colorado in cooperation with the Attorney General have put a spotlight on a horrifying chapter in our history, but it has also shown that the steps we have taken over the past 30 years – including our training and empowerment of thousands of faithful parishioners and volunteers across the Archdiocese – have been effective. Most of all, it has taught us to be open and care for victims of abuse as they deem best, and to always be vigilant to make sure the Church is a safe place.”

Appeals court uphold Kentucky abortion regulations

CNA Staff, Oct 19, 2020 / 11:00 am (CNA).- A federal appeals court upheld abortion regulations in the state of Kentucky on Friday. The three-judge panel on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that abortion providers failed to prove that a 1998 Kentucky abortion law, and its 2017 update, would result in the closure of all abortion facilities in the state.

Abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood, had challenged the 1998 state law requiring abortion facilities to have a transfer agreement with local hospitals in case of medical complications that could arise from abortions. The facilities also had to have an agreement in place for ambulance transport.

In 2017, the state imposed stricter regulations, including that a transfer agreement be with a state-licensed acute care hospital within a certain distance of the abortion facility. It also included a 90-day window for facilities to apply for a waiver to show that they could not get a transfer agreement despite having exhausted all options to do so.

Planned Parenthood and EMW Women’s Surgical Center and Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky challenged the regulations, saying they would result in the  closure of all abortion facilities in state. A federal district court sided with them, before the Sixth Circuit reversed that decision in part on Friday.

The plaintiffs, EMW, “have failed to make a clear showing that both of their abortion facilities would close” because of the laws, Judge Joan Larsen stated in her opinion, joined by Judge Chad Readler.

The law was rooted in the state’s interest in protecting public health, the judges said, noting that “we cannot say that laws requiring abortion facilities to have transfer and transport agreements with a local hospital are not reasonably related to a legitimate government end.”

Earlier this year, in the case of June Medical Services, the Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law requiring doctors at abortion facilities to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.

However, the judges wrote on Friday, Chief Justice John Roberts’ concurrence in the ruling allowed state regulations of abortion to stand if they satisfied two requirements: that they are “‘reasonably related’ to a legitimate state interest,” and that they not put a “substantial obstacle” in the way of a woman obtaining an abortion.

The state law was in the interest of public health, and it allowed facilities to apply for a waiver if they could not satisfy the requirements of the law but had made a good-faith effort to do so, the judges said. 

In the June decision, Chief Justice Roberts said that the Court’s 2016 ruling against a Texas law on admitting privileges, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt—upon which the majority of justices relied in the June Medical case as precedent—was wrongly decided.

However, Roberts applied the legal principle of stare decisis to argue that the 2016 case was settled and the court’s ruling needed to be applied to Louisiana’s abortion law.

In Chile, archbishop condemns arson attacks that destroyed Catholic churches

CNA Staff, Oct 19, 2020 / 10:18 am (CNA).-  

The Archbishop of Santiago de Chile condemned arson attacks that destroyed two Chilean churches Sunday, and called on Catholics to carry out acts of reparation for the attacks.


?VIDEO | On Sunday, Oct. 18, groups of hooded protesters entered two of the oldest churches in #Chile’s capital city, setting fire to the St. Francis Borgia Church and to the Church of the Assumption.
Read more:

— Catholic News Agency (@cnalive) October 19, 2020  

On Oct. 18, groups of hooded protesters entered two churches in Chile’s capital city, setting fire to the St. Francis Borgia Church, which is the church of the country’s national police force, and to the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Both churches are among the oldest in Santiago.


¿Y a esto le llaman progresismo?
No son buenos días en

— Doña PiIy (@dona_pily) October 19, 2020  

The spire of the Church of the Assumption collapsed as the church burned, drawing cheers from demonstrators protesting outside the building. The interior of the St. Francis Borgia Church was gutted by the fire, and both buildings may be beyond repair.

The attacks came as demonstrators across the country called for a constitution, and marked the one year anniversary of large anti-government protests that took place across Chile last year, during which riots destroyed supermarkets and other businesses, and reportedly caused more than 30 deaths.

The demonstrations began last October in Santiago over a now-suspended increase in subway fares. Other regions joined in the protests, expanding their grievances to inequality and the cost of healthcare.

A number of churches across Chile have been attacked and looted amid the demonstrations in the country.

Rioters have previously set fires inside St. Francis Borgia Church; in January the church suffered heavy damage after fires were set and demonstrators blocked firefighters trying to access the Church.

In a statement published late Sunday, Archbishop Celestino Aós condemned the attacks.

“Violence is evil, and whoever sows violence reaps destruction, pain and death. Let us never justify any violence,” for political or social purposes, the archbishop said.

"The poor are the most affected" by these acts of vandalism, the archbishop said, as he expressed solidarity with parishioners from both churches destroyed by the fires.

Aós called on Catholics not to lose faith or hope, because "love is stronger."

“Let us not justify the unjustifiable. God does not want violence. We will come together to do acts of penance and reparation as a believing community,” he said.


A version of this report was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.