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Medical migrant ordered to leave gets hope of reprieve, highlights similar cases

Washington D.C., Sep 21, 2019 / 08:00 am (CNA).- An immigrant who has lived in the U.S. for more than 16 years while receiving life-saving medical treatments is hoping for a reprieve after being given weeks to leave the country. 

Maria Isabel Bueso, a 24 year-old immigrant from Guatemala, has lived in the U.S. without citizenship since 2003 through temporary extensions of “deferred action,” or delays of deportation, so that she can stay and receive treatment for her rare medical condition.

Bueso traveled from Guatemala to the U.S. with her family in 2003 to participate in clinical trials for her rare genetic disorder. After more than 16 years, she was notified in August that she would not be able to renew her status in the U.S. because the administration would stop considering non-military requests for deferred action. She was given 33 days to leave the country.

On Sept. 19, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would resume granting non-military deferred action on a case-by-case basis, 

Bueso was “thrilled” by the news, her nurse, Wendy Bloom, told CNA, but remained only “cautiously optimistic” until she has full certainty of her status and hopes her case will draw attention to the plight of others like her.

“She’s really nervous until she actually gets an official letter that says ‘you are allowed to stay here,’ then she’ll be ready to have a party,” Bloom, a member of the California Nurses Association, told CNA.

Bueso has become an advocate for other patients with rare diseases—some of who needed to travel from outside the U.S. for treatment.

She has Maroteaux-Lamy Syndrome (MPS-VI) which is a rare genetic disorder, and was invited to the U.S. at age seven to participate in clinical trials conducted by Dr. Paul Harmatz at Children's Hospital and Research Center in Oakland, California.

Bueso traveled to the U.S. on a B-2 visa with her family, and has since remained in the country for weekly treatments. Bloom says she has known Bueso for 13 years, and that Bueso has been coming to the hospital for almost 17 years.

After she initially participated in clinical trials for her condition, that program helped develop a commercial drug—Naglazyme—that is now used to treat patients with MPS-VI.

In 2009, Bueso applied for and was granted deferred action of deportation, with a renewal every two years.

Several weeks after her notice to leave the U.S., Bueso testified before the House Oversight Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at a hearing held on September 11 on “The Administration’s Apparent Revocation of Medical Deferred Action for Critically Ill Children.”

“The medical treatment I need is not available in Guatemala. If I’m sent back, I will die,” she told members of the subcommittee. Bloom explained that the treatment is expensive and requires special skills to administer; Bueso would not be able to receive the necessary treatment in Guatemala.

On Sept. 2, DHS had announced that it would review the change in policy for “deferred action,” but Bueso’s status was still in limbo.

“It was incredibly stressful for the family, incredibly stressful, and for all of us that care for her and love her too, it was really heartbreaking,” Bloom said.

Then on Sept. 19, DHS informed the House Oversight Committee that it would once again consider deferred action on a case-by-case basis for non-military immigrants in the U.S.

In the statement, DHS said that USCIS would resume consideration of “non-military deferred action requests on a discretionary, case-by-case basis, except as otherwise required by an applicable statute, regulation, or court order.”

Oversight Chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) stated in response that “it appears that the Trump Administration is reversing its inhumane and disastrous decision to deport critically ill children and their families who are receiving life-saving medical treatment in the United States.”

The decision draws attention to the importance of allowing immigrants like Bueso to come to the U.S. for treatment.

“Medical research needs to be ongoing, and if we can’t have the type of patients enrolling in these studies then we have a problem,” Bloom said.

Evangelization is about helping people know God's love, Pope Francis says

Vatican City, Sep 21, 2019 / 07:15 am (CNA).- Evangelization means first helping people to know God and to know his immense love for them, which is done in part through the witness of one’s life and joy, Pope Francis said Saturday.

“Proclaiming the Lord is witnessing the joy of knowing him, helping to live the beauty of meeting him,” the pope said Sept. 21. “God is not the answer to an intellectual curiosity or a task of the will, but an experience of love, called to become a story of love.”

“Because – it applies to us above all – once we have met the living God, we need to look for him again,” he stated. “The mystery of God is never exhausted, it is as immense as his love.”

Pope Francis reflected on the evangelization those who do not know God in a meeting with the participants of an event from the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, which took place Sept. 19-21, and was called “To meet God: Is it possible? Paths of the New Evangelization.”

In his message, the pope asked how many of one’s neighbors live as if they are slaves to the very objects which should serve them.

People forget the “flavor of life: the beauty of a large and generous family, which fills the day and the night but expands the heart; the brightness found in the eyes of children, which no smartphone can give; the joy of simple things; the serenity that prayer gives,” he said.

“What our brothers and sisters often ask us, perhaps without being able to ask the question, corresponds to the deepest needs: to love and to be loved, to be accepted for what we are, to find peace of heart and a longer lasting joy of entertainment.”

Those present have experienced this in one person, he said: Jesus. “We, who, though frail and sinful, have been flooded by the river in the fullness of God’s goodness, we have this mission: meet our contemporaries to let them know his love.”

Francis said that it is important, therefore, to face and be challenged by the questions of men and women, not pretending to have easy, ready-made answers.

Sharing God with others cannot just be speaking about him – even the devil knows God exists, the pope said – but must be the sharing of life-giving words which leave room for the work of the Holy Spirit.

God is close to everyone, he said, but oftentimes, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, people just do not recognize him.

Francis shared an anecdote: “It is said that once upon a time Pope John, meeting a journalist who told him he did not believe, answered him: ‘Don’t worry! You say that! God doesn’t know, and considers you a child to love just the same.’”

“‘God is love,’ as Scripture says,” Pope Francis pointed out. “God is like that, he does not vary depending on how we behave: he is unconditional love, he does not change.”

This is a beautiful thing to be able to announce to those who have grown lukewarm, who have lost their first enthusiasm for Jesus Christ, he said.

Explaining that because faith is born and reborn from encountering Jesus, he said whatever is an encounter with Christ helps grow faith.

“Draw closer to those in need, build bridges, serve those who suffer, take care of the poor, ‘anoint with patience’ those around us, comfort those who are discouraged, bless those who harm us...” he urged.

“Thus, we become living signs of the Love we proclaim.”

 

Cardinal O'Malley, Bishop McElroy named participants in Amazon Synod

Vatican City, Sep 21, 2019 / 06:05 am (CNA).- Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, and Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego are among those chosen by Pope Francis as synod fathers in next month’s Amazon Synod.

A full list of the 185 participants in the Special Assembly for the Pan-Amazonian Region was published by the Vatican Sept. 21. The synod is set to take place Oct. 6-27.

Among those taking part are 33 bishops nominated by Pope Francis, including O’Malley and McElroy, the only two United States’ bishops to be synod fathers in the Amazon Synod.

The three president delegates of the synod are Cardinal Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo, apostolic administrator of Caracas and archbishop of Merida in Venezuela; Cardinal Pedro Ricardo Barreto Jimeno, archbishop of Huancayo in Peru and vice president of the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM); and Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

Cardinal Claudio Hummes, archbishop emeritus of Sao Paulo in Brazil and president of REPAM is relator general.

The special secretaries are Cardinal-elect Michael Czerny, under-secretary of the Migrant and Refugees section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and Bishop David Martinez De Aguirre Guinea, apostolic vicar of Puerto Maldonado in Peru.

Other pontifical nominations include heads of bishops’ conferences, commissions, or councils, such as Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, archbishop of Vienna; Cardinal Bagnasco, archbishop of Genova and president of the Council of European bishops’ conferences; Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising; Cardinal elect Jean-Claude Hollerich, archbishop of Luxembourg and president of the Commission of Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union; and Archbishop Marcel Madila Basanguka of Kananga, president of the Association of Bishops’ Conferences of Central Africa.

Others nominated include Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life; Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa; Cardinal John Ribat, archbishop of Port Moresby; and Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay.

Non-bishops nominated include religious priests from Argentina, Peru, Angola, and Italy; Fr. Anthony Spadaro, director of La Civilta Cattolica; and Fr. Mauricio Garcia Duran, director of the Jesuit Refugee Service.

According to synod norms, there will also be in attendance 15 superior generals, chosen by the Union of Superior Generals (USG).

There will be 25 experts and 55 auditors, as well as six fraternal delegates from other Christian churches, who attend the synod but do not participate in final voting.

Pope Francis is president of the Synod of Bishops and Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri is secretary general.

 

Married priests are a possible option for the Amazon, says Vatican spokesman

Vatican City, Sep 21, 2019 / 12:00 am (CNA).- Andrea Tornielli, editorial director of the Dicastery for Communications in the Vatican, said that married priests will be a subject of discussion during the upcoming synod of bishops on the Amazon, which will take place October 6-27 in Rome, but noted that the synod does not have the power to make decisions on the matter.

“The synod will discuss the possibility, for territories like the Amazon, to propose the ordination of married men. That is, the ordination of catechists, older persons who already have a role of responsibility in several communities. But it's not a decision already made, nor is it certain that they synod will arrive at that decision.” Tornielli said in an interview Sept. 19.

“In any case it would not be a decision of the synod but it would be a decision of the pope,” Tornielli said in the interview, which was published on the Facebook page of the Brazilian bishops’ conference.

Tornielli referred to the working document of the synod:

“Affirming that celibacy is a gift for the Church, it is asked, that for the most remote areas of the region, the possibility be studied of priestly ordination for older people, preferably indigenous, respected, and accepted by their community even though they still have a constituted and stable family, for the purpose  of ensuring  the sacraments that accompany and sustain the Christian life,” the working document says.

In the interview, Tornielli explained that “the synod does not approve anything because it is a consultative body, the one who decides is the pope. We know, because we have read it, the synod's Instrumentum laboris mentions the difficulties that communities in remote areas face in receiving the sacraments, and of having priests who can celebrate Mass.”

He also noted that “for many centuries in the Catholic Church there have been married priests. They are the priests of the Eastern Catholic Churches who have returned to full communion with Rome. But note, it's not that priests can marry but that persons already married are ordained, this is for the Easterners.”

“The same thing exists, and perhaps this will be a surprise for our listeners, in the Latin Rite Church, as an exception, from the time of Pius XII. Pope Pacelli received former Anglican priests who wanted to enter into communion with Rome and as they were married they were ordained priests and they support their families,” he continued.

Moreover, Tornielli then said, “Pope Benedict himself with the constitution Anglicanorum coetibus has established that this exception can continue in the case of the Anglicans. So there already are exceptions.”

In effect, in 2009 Pope Benedict XVI approved the creation of personal ordinariates, jurisdictions created to receive the Anglicans who request by the thousands to return to full communion with the Catholic Church. In that framework, married Anglican priests can be ordained as Catholic priests.

 

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

 

Catholic hospital in Nova Scotia required to offer assisted suicide, euthanasia

Antigonish, Canada, Sep 20, 2019 / 05:01 pm (CNA).- A Catholic hospital in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia will now be required to offer assisted suicide and euthanasia on site, after an assisted suicide advocacy group threatened legal action in January.

The Canadian Senate legalized assisted suicide and euthanasia in June 2016. Both practices are fully funded in the Canadian healthcare system.

The Candian Press reports that St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish was formerly run by the Sisters of St. Martha, which signed an agreement in 1996 with the provincial health authority when it took control of the facility.

The agreement was meant to ensure the hospital’s Catholic identity and values would be preserved.

However, the Canadian Press reports, the Nova Scotia Health Authority last month “quietly instituted” a policy change to require St. Martha’s to offer assisted suicide.

“This approach respects the 1996 Mission Assurance Agreement with the Sisters of St. Martha that lays out the philosophy, mission and values of St. Martha’s in accordance with its faith-based identity, while also meeting the legislated obligation to ensure that [assisted suicide and euthanasia] is available in the Antigonish area for those who request and meet the criteria to access that service,” said Tim Guest, the health authority’s vice-president of health services, as quoted by the Canadian Press.

Dying With Dignity Canada, a group advocating for assisted suicide and euthanasia, said that many hospitals across Canada ban the practice on the premises, particularly in the provinces of Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia.

The group’s leadership has said that they hope the province’s proactive approach will be “used as a model in other jurisdictions across the country.”

Canadian lawmakers have raised concerns about the country’s assisted suicide legislation since its passage, over problems such as conscience protections and whether minors should be able to avail themselves of assisted suicide.

Some of these concerns were raised again in the recent case of a Canadian man, Roger Foley, who suffers from an incurable disease and claims that despite asking for home care, the medical team at an Ontario hospital would only offer him assisted suicide.

The bishops of Canada have recently reiterated their support for palliative care as a distinct form of care that attends to the needs and dignity of the whole person at the natural end of their life.

The bishops’ statement clarified that patients and doctors are not required to do everything possible to avoid death if a life has reached its natural conclusion and medical intervention would not be beneficial.

“So while life is a penultimate good, requiring us to take reasonable care of our lives, we are not morally obligated to seek or undergo burdensome therapies ‘at all costs’ that provide no benefit. Nor at the same time are clinicians morally obligated to ‘do everything possible’ if life has reached its natural conclusion and it is no longer medically appropriate. Such a stance is known as vitalism and is rejected by the Catholic moral tradition,” according to Covenant Health’s definition of palliative care included in the bishops’ statement.

A Catholic approach to palliative care is a “person-centered approach,” the bishops said, “which draws deeply from the scriptural understanding of healing, compassion and love.”

This approach takes account of a patient’s “body, mind and spirit” and tries to relieve human suffering while also attending to “the transcendent needs of the dying person and his/her loved ones, with special solicitude for the poor and disadvantaged.”

There also needs to be more and better information available about palliative care resources for patients and their families in Canada, the bishops said. They advocated for public awareness campaigns about palliative care implemented in the country’s health care systems, including resources that would take into account the needs of different cultures or of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups.

Msgr. Rossi takes leave of absence from CUA board of trustees

Washington D.C., Sep 20, 2019 / 03:12 pm (CNA).- Msgr. Walter Rossi has taken a leave of absence from the board of trustees at The Catholic University of America, while the priest is the subject of a canonical investigation for unspecified allegations of misconduct.

“Last month the chairman of the Board of Trustees approved Msgr. Rossi’s request to take a voluntary leave of absence pending the resolution of the investigation launched jointly by the Archdiocese of Washington and the Diocese of Scranton. During the leave of absence Msgr Rossi will not participate in any board activities,” Karna Lozoya, spokesperson for the university told CUA Sept. 20.

Lozoya told CNA that the university is “in contact with the Diocese of Scranton and the Archdiocese of Washington, who have jointly launched an investigation. We will cooperate with them as needed. We don’t have any information at this point to warrant our own investigation.”

In August, the Diocese of Scranton told CNA that it had commenced “the process of launching a full forensic investigation into the concerns that have been raised,” about Rossi, who is rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, which is adjacent to the campus of The Catholic University of America.

Rossi is a priest of the Diocese of Scranton.

“The Diocese of Scranton and Archdiocese of Washington will work jointly and cooperatively on undertaking a comprehensive investigation,” the diocese told CNA Aug. 14.

Concerns were raised about Rossi to Archbishop Gregory Aug. 13, during a question-and-answer session at a Theology on Tap, held at the Public Bar Live in the Dupont area of Washington. The event was broadcast live on Facebook.

During that session, Gregory called for an independent, forensic investigation of some allegations against Rossi.

Rossi has been accused of directing young men to Fr. Matthew Reidlinger, a priest friend of Rossi’s who is alleged to have sexually harassed them in phone calls and text messages. That accusation was made in 2013.

In August, Gregory said he was unfamiliar with the allegation.
 
“That’s news to me. And I am not doubting it, but I have not heard about [this situation].”
 
“I suspect – I hope – that there is a forensic investigation. But in today’s environment, even a forensic investigation that either proves or disproves, will not satisfy the people. But I would like to see that, I would like to see a forensic investigation of those allegations.”

Rossi “is not an employee of Catholic University, nor does he have regular duties or responsibilities to fulfill on our campus. We do have students who are active either as part-time employees or volunteers at the Shrine. We have not received any complaints from our students regarding Msgr. Rossi,” Lozoya told CNA Friday.

“The safety of our students is our first priority. If we ever have good reason to believe the safety of our students is in danger, we will take the necessary action,” she added.

While Rossi is the subject of a canonical investigation, he has not been removed from his post at the National Shrine, and neither the scope nor the timeline of the investigation have been delineated by the Archdiocese of Washington or the Diocese of Scranton.

“If anyone harms a student at The Catholic University of America, we want to know about it. If any member of our community has experienced sexual abuse or assault, or has first hand knowledge of an incident, please contact our Department of Public Safety, the Metropolitan Police Department, our Dean of Students, or our Title IX coordinator,” Lozoya told CNA.

UK rabbi: secular humanists are 'ever-more combative' against religious groups

Madrid, Spain, Sep 20, 2019 / 03:07 pm (CNA).- A top UK rabbi has criticized secular groups in Britain for their remarks against religious practices and faith-based schools.

Ephraim Mirvis, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Great Britain and the Commonwealth, spoke at an international interreligious conference held in Madrid this week, addressing comments from groups such as Humanists UK and the National Secular Society.

Mirvis said that “humanism, with a small ‘h’, sits at the centre of what it means to be a Jew. But there is a different Humanism, with a capital ‘H’, which I fear is becoming ever-more combative in the way in which it regards faith communities.”

“We are finding that, often, Humanism, and other secularist approaches, seek out opportunities to attack faith,” said Mirvis, the Jewish News reported.

According to the website for Humanists UK, he said, there has been a campaign against faith-based schools. The charity, which advocates for the rights of non-religious people, is opposed to state-funded religious schools.

“Do I not have the right to educate my children in accordance with the values that I hold dear?” asked Mirvis.

“Those Humanists who campaign against the existence of faith schools are in effect campaigning against my freedom to raise my children in accordance with the tenets of my faith,” he added.

Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson said Mirvis’ reaction was unfair, the Jewish News reported. He said the organization has worked with numerous faith groups in the past to ensure “liberal social values.” He expressed a desire to have a similar dialogue with the rabbi.

“We are ready to engage likewise with the Rabbi Mirvis at any time to explore what we share and how we can work together towards any shared goals and in the cause of greater mutual understanding,” said Copson.

According to The Jewish Chronicle, Mirvis also criticized the National Secular Society’s remarks on circumcision. In the past, the group has petitioned to end non-consensual religious surgery, claiming it is genital mutilation forced upon infants.

Mirvis said circumcision is an “essential part” of the Jewish faith and a sign of God’s covenant with his people. “An attack against our right to perform circumcision is an attack against a most fundamental element of our belief,” he added.

He was particularly critical of the organization’s Chief Executive Stephen Evans, who claimed that religious liberty movements were often a demand for “the state to turn a blind eye to the violation of other’s rights.” Evans’ comment was in regards to circumcision.

"Religious practices aren’t beyond reproach and religious groups shouldn’t be given a free pass to carry out harmful practices,” Evans later added, according to the Jewish Chronicle.

“Secularists seek to ensure that the right to religious freedom is always balanced against other considerations, including the protection of children.”

According to the Jewish News, Mirvis respectfully encouraged the group to pursue their convictions, but not to obstruct other pursuits of faith. He said an organization should be defined by “what they live for” instead of identifying themselves by their opposition to other belief systems.

“If it is freedom you seek, please do not campaign against our freedom to practice our faith. If you are calling for tolerance, please do not stoop to intolerance of faith communities and religious practice,” he said.

"If you wish to prevent religion from imposing its values on our society, please don’t do just that, by seeking to impose Humanism on our society.”

Vatican department heads meet to discuss budget deficit

Vatican City, Sep 20, 2019 / 11:50 am (CNA).- The heads of dicasteries and Vatican City State institutions met Friday to discuss finances and how to reverse a reportedly rapidly growing deficit in the Holy See’s budget.

Matteo Bruni, Holy See press office director, confirmed to CNA that the meeting took place Sept. 20 among heads of dicasteries of the Roman Curia and of institutions connected to the Holy See and Vatican City State.

According to the Wall Street Journal, in May Pope Francis asked Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, coordinator of the Council for the Economy, which oversees Vatican finances, to convoke the meeting to consider solutions and to “inform the respective heads about the gravity of the situation.”

The Holy See sustained a deficit of roughly 70 million euros ($77 million) in 2018, doubled from the previous year, according to Vatican officials, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The Sept. 20 meeting was intended to increase awareness of the issue among Vatican officials, many of whom are unaware of the gravity of the situation, according to Joseph Zahra, a Maltese economist who is a member of the Council for the Economy.

Zahra also said the Vatican will be releasing a financial report this fall, the first since 2015.

Vatican finances have been one of the major focuses of Pope Francis’ reform efforts, though he has faced serious setbacks.

Efforts began in 2013, with the creation of an investigatory commission to examine the Holy See's administrative structures. Consisting of seven lay experts, one clerical secretary, and external consultants, the commission met from August 2013 to May 2014.

This work was later overshadowed when, in 2015, two former members of the commission were arrested for stealing and leaking confidential information about Francis’ papacy.

In February 2014, Pope Francis made his first major structural changes to the Roman Curia, establishing the Council for the Economy and the Office of Auditor General, an autonomous office with the power to conduct special investigations.

He also created the Secretariat for the Economy, appointing Cardinal George Pell as prefect, but that office is now vacant, as Pell returned to his home country to defend himself against charges of child sex abuse, of which he was convicted. The cardinal is appealing his conviction.

After Chaput warning, bishops weigh in on Fr. James Martin

Philadelphia, Pa., Sep 20, 2019 / 10:40 am (CNA).- After the Archbishop of Philadelphia urged caution regarding the message Fr. James Martin, SJ, other bishops have weighed in on Martin’s message regarding homosexuality and Catholicism, as Martin and the archbishop have continued to exchange views on the matter.

“Father Martin’s public messages create confusion among the faithful and disrupt the unity of the Church by promoting a false sense that immoral sexual behavior is acceptable under God’s law,” Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, wrote Sept. 19.

“People with same-sex attraction are indeed created and loved by God and are welcome in the Catholic Church. But the Church’s mission to these brothers and sisters is the same as to all her faithful: to guide, encourage, and support each of us in the Christian struggle for virtue, sanctification, and purity,” the bishop added.

Paprocki’s statement came in response to a Sept. 19 column from Archbishop Charles Chaput, that urged caution about “a pattern of ambiguity” in the writing and teaching of Martin.

Chaput’s column raised his concern that “Father Martin – no doubt unintentionally -- inspires hope that the Church’s teachings on human sexuality can be changed.”

Martin is the author of “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity,” and speaks frequently on issues pertaining to homosexuality and Catholicism. He spoke Sept. 17 at Philadelphia's St. Joseph's University.

“Due to the confusion caused by his statements and activities regarding same-sex related (LGBT) issues, I find it necessary to emphasize that Father Martin does not speak with authority on behalf of the Church, and to caution the faithful about some of his claims,” Chaput wrote.

“Archbishop Chaput has provided a helpful caution to Catholics about Father James Martin. On the one hand, Father Martin correctly expresses God’s love for all people, while on the other, he either encourages or fails to correct behavior that separates a person from that very love. This is deeply scandalous in the sense of leading people to believe that wrongful behavior is not sinful,” Paprocki’s statement said.

“This matter is not one of opinion, it is our Lord’s own teaching, as we hear in Luke’s Gospel: ‘Take heed to yourselves; if your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him,’” the bishop added.

Bishop Rick Stika of Knoxville also weighed in Chaput’s column.

On Twiter, Stika praised Chaput’s “column on the theological and moral errors of Fr Martin. He praises his outreach but challenges his moral and theological thoughts. He also states clearly that this is a great error. I would add the pain it causes by setting people for pain as morally it can never be accepted by the Church. The Archbishop also adds that the vicious attacks on Father is wrong and sinful. It is one thing to disagree but another to be vicious and hide behind a handle.”
 

Martin himself responded to Chaput’s column in an op-ed at CatholicPhilly, the news portal of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

“I think my main response to his column is that it’s difficult to respond to critiques that I am ‘implying’ things about church teaching, when I am assiduous in my writings and talks about not challenging church teaching on matters of sexual morality (or anything, for that matter).”

“One of the reasons that I don’t focus on same-sex relations and same-sex marriage, which I know are both impermissible (and immoral) under church teaching, is that LGBT Catholics have heard this repeatedly. Indeed, often that is the only thing that they hear from their church,” Martin wrote.

“What I am trying to do instead is encourage Catholics to see LGBT people as more than just sexual beings, to see them in their totality, much as Jesus saw people on the margins, people who were also seen as ‘other’ in his time,” the priest added.

“I remain grateful for the Archbishop’s asking people not to engage in ‘ad hominem’ attacks, and I appreciate the careful tone of his letter and have always appreciated his kind communications with me,” Martin concluded.

Chaput responded Martin’s column.

“I appreciate Father Martin’s typically gracious comments, which are consistent with the man,” Chaput wrote.

“They do not, however, change the need for my column. I’m sure Father Martin would agree that ‘official’ Church teaching (as opposed to some alternative, imagined, unofficial system of belief and practice) is simply what the Church believes based on the Word of God and centuries of experience with the human condition.”

“Moreover, the point is not to ‘not challenge’ what the Church believes about human sexuality, but to preach and teach it with confidence, joy, and zeal. Biblical truth liberates; it is never a cause for embarrassment,” Chaput added.

The archbishop noted that he and Martin agree that “persons with same-sex attraction are children of God and well loved by him. Thus they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. The Church must earnestly seek to do that while remaining true to her convictions.”

“But it is clearly not true that the ‘only thing’ Catholics with same-sex attraction hear from their Church is a message of rejection. Or if it is, perhaps the responsibility can lie as much with the listener as it does with the Church. We each have the freedom to choose. Listening, like teaching, is an act of the will.”

 

Pro-lifers condemn testing of 'chemical coat hanger' on African women

Washington D.C., Sep 20, 2019 / 09:00 am (CNA).- Pro-life advocates have condemned clinical testing of second trimester chemical abortions on women in a developing country in West Africa.

The tests are being conducted by Gynuity Health Projects, a U.S.-based research company, in Burkina Faso. The trials involve drugs which cause accelerated second trimester chemical abortions.

Since 2017, Gynuity has been conducting a clinical trial of second trimester abortions on pregnant women at 13 to 22 weeks gestation, “to examine the effectiveness and feasibility of a mifepristone-misoprostol medical abortion regimen.” The trial, currently in the “Recruiting” phase, is expected to be finished by the end of 2019.

“That’s such a horrible way to use women in Africa,” Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, policy advisor for The Catholic Association, told CNA.

“These expecting moms are given dangerous abortion drugs and then literally sent off to pass the body of her aborted child in isolation. How is that not a back-alley abortion?” said Mallory Quigley, vice president of communications for the Susan B. Anthony List.

“It’s unthinkable that the abortion lobby is testing this chemical coat hanger on mothers in the second trimester of their pregnancy in Burkina Faso,” she said.

Gynuity conducts research to influence global reproductive and maternal health policies, and advocates for greater access to chemical abortions around the world. It has conducted clinical trials of second trimester chemical abortions in a number of other countries including Armenia, Nepal, Vietnam, Moldova, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine.

The abortions in Burkina Faso are, according to the trial’s description, to be conducted in accordance with “legal indications.” 

According to the Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood, abortion is outlawed in Burkina Faso except in cases of rape, incest, severe impairment of the child, or to save the life or protect the health of the mother.

Officials with Gynuity Health Projects did not respond to CNA’s repeated inquiries.

Pro-life criticism of the Africa trials has focused on two objections: that the abortions would be conducted in the second trimester of pregnancy where there is a higher probability of complications, and that they would be conducted in a country with relatively high maternal mortality rates compared to the rest of the world.

Chemical abortions involve a two-step procedure: administration of the drug mifepristone, which stops the mother’s supply of blood to the placenta and cuts off nourishment to the child; followed by misoprostol, which induces contractions and results in the expelling of the child and the placenta from the mother.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a mifepristone-misoprostol regimen in 2000 but has regulations on its use, including a ban on use after 70 days past the first day of the last menstrual cycle of the mother.  

The FDA lists mifeprex on its REMS list, or “Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy” that are applied to certain drugs considered to be of special concern.

“Drugs are kept on that list because the way they have to be used is so specific,” Christie said.

Side effects of mifeprex include cramping and bleeding—which, in some cases, requires surgical intervention—as well as nausea, fever, vomiting, headache, diarrhea, and dizziness. Medical supervision is critical because some of the complications of chemical abortions can be lethal, Christie said. “Any fever during this process can be a sign of fatal sepsis,” Christie said.

Previous attempts at studying the viability and effects of second trimester chemical abortions in the United States failed due to lack of enrollment. Researchers concluded that future studies would be better conducted in a different part of the world. According to the practice bulletin of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, there was a previous trial at University of North Carolina Hospitals was ended because of “slow enrollment.” 

“We believe that such a trial will need to be done in Europe or Asia, in settings where labour‐induction abortion is standard,” the report concluded.

Gynuity has conducted second trimester chemical abortion tests in other foreign countries, including Armenia, Nepal, Vietnam, Moldova, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine.

“They clearly are trying to conduct studies in other places that might not be as popular here,” Mary Harned, associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, told CNA.

Another controversial aspect of the Gynuity trials in Burkina Faso is the “accelerated” pace of chemical abortions. The FDA-approved regimen can last up to two weeks, yet the trials in Burkina Faso are measuring the rates of a successful second trimester abortion—complete evacuation of the unborn child and the placenta—within 24 hours of the first administration of misoprostol.

The FDA guidelines for the two-drug procedure state that 800mcg of misoprostol should be administered 24-48 hours after 200mg of mifepristone, with a follow-up seven to 14 days afterward with the health care provider.

The trials in Burkina Faso involve administration of 200mg of mifepristone followed by repeat doses of 400mcg of misopristol for every three hours until abortion is achieved.

“They’re super-accelerating and making it a much harder thing for the woman,” Christie told CNA. “They’re basically causing severe uterine contractions and they’re precipitating a labor of a very big child.”

The further along in a woman’s pregnancy, the more complicated the chemical abortion process become, she said. “The complication rate would be huge—will be huge—in these poor women in Africa,” Christie said.

By the second trimester of a woman’s pregnancy, when chemical abortions are not approved by the FDA, “you’re inducing the labor of a perfectly-formed baby,” Christie said. “Here in the United States, we wouldn’t even contemplate it.”

It is unclear from the description of the Gynuity study if the abortions are being conducted in highly-supervised settings in medical clinics, with proximity to a local hospital in case of an emergency.

Burkina Faso has a life expectancy of 60 for males and 61 for females, according to the World Health Organization, and its maternal mortality rate of 371 deaths per 100,000 live births is in the top half of African nations according to a 2018 WHO report, but higher than almost all countries on other continents.

The trials being conducted so late in a woman’s pregnancy in a developing country speak volumes about the abortion movement, pro-lifers told CNA.

“The abortion lobby has been sounding the alarm since the beginning of the push for legal abortion that women’s safety is the issue, that women have to have legal places that they can go to without shame to have these procedures,” Christie said. Now, they are pushing for “chemical abortion outside of safety ranges.”

“It just shows that it was never about women’s safety in the first place,” she said.

Furthermore, the test is being conducted in Africa in a developing country with poor health infrastructure. “That’s pure racism,” she said, “that’s just pure abuse.”