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French lawmakers pass bill on Notre-Dame; new report says cathedral nearly collapsed during fire

Paris, France, Jul 17, 2019 / 12:45 pm (CNA).- France’s Parliament on Tuesday passed a bill on the rebuilding of Notre-Dame Cathedral— three months after a fire destroyed the church’s roof— even amid disagreement on the best way to proceed with the restoration.

The April 15 fire destroyed the wooden roof of the cathedral as well as a spire that was added to the 800-year-old church during a 19th century renovation.

The bill establishes a legal framework for the distribution of funds donated for the cathedral's renovation.

The French Senate first approved the bill May 27, which at the time mandated that the rebuilding be faithful to Notre-Dame's “last known visual state.”

Yesterday’s bill passed the National Assembly by a 99-8-33 vote. The architectural form of the reconstruction is not directly addressed in the text of the new law, AFP reports.

The government of President Emmanuel Macron had previously initiated an architectural competition to submit a variety of suggestions for the restoration; Macron has also called for “an inventive reconstruction” of the cathedral with a more contemporary design. 

Macron has said that he intends the restoration to take five years. Critics in parliament reportedly complained that the project was being rushed in order to have the construction finished in time for Paris’ 2024 hosting of the Olympic Games.

"The hardest thing is now ahead of us. We need to strengthen the cathedral for ever and then restore it," Culture Minister Franck Riester said as the bill was passed, as reported by AFP.

The bill also aims to organize the nearly $1 billion in donations that poured in from throughout the world to rebuild the cathedral. French luxury goods rivals, the billionaires Bernard Arnault and Francois-Henri Pinault, pledged 200 and 100 million euros apiece, AFP says.

Officials had been in the process of a massive fundraising effort to renovate the cathedral against centuries of decay, pollution, and an inundation of visitors. French conservationists and the archdiocese announced in 2017 that the renovations needed for the building’s structural integrity could cost as much as $112 million to complete.

A recent New York Times analysis has also suggested that the cathedral came very close to completely collapsing, and that the brave actions of Paris’ fire department likely saved the building from further damage. The arched stone vault is still at particular risk of collapse, and tourists are not yet allowed inside.

The Times report also detailed a miscommunication between a security guard and an employee monitoring the building’s fire alarm, which meant the fire was not discovered until it had already been burning for 30 minutes.

The area around Notre-Dame still contains higher than normal amounts of lead, due to the collapse of the lead and oak spire, a source of concern for Paris authorities. Workers are currently working to clear debris from the site and have not started renovations.

Due to France’s laws regarding secularization, the French government owns all churches built before 1905, including Notre-Dame. The government lets the Archdiocese of Paris use the building for free, and will continue to do so in perpetuity. The Archdiocese of Paris is responsible for the upkeep of the church, as well as for paying employees.

During Mass on June 15 in a side chapel, the cathedral's first since the fire, Archbishop Michel Aupetit emphasized that the church is no mere cultural heritage of France, but is meant for the worship of God.

About 30 people assisted in the Mass, including canons of the cathedral and other priests, wearing hard hats for safety. The Mass was said in Notre-Dame des Sept Douleurs, a side chapel that housed the crown of thorns, a relic which a fireman rescued from the blaze along with the Blessed Sacrament.

 

Abortion provision limited in some Irish hospitals by conscientious objection

Dublin, Ireland, Jul 17, 2019 / 12:01 pm (CNA).- Documents from the Republic of Ireland's health department show that abortion services are limited at nine of the country's 19 maternity hospitals, in part due to conscientious objectors.

In a May 2018 referendum, Irish voters repealed a constitutional amendment recognizing the right to life of unborn children and equal to mothers' right to life. Legislators then enacted legislation allowing legal abortion.

Ireland now permit medical abortions to be performed by general practitioners through nine weeks of pregnancy. Hospitals are allowed to perform surgical abortions through 12 weeks. After 12 weeks, abortions may be performed in “exceptional circumstances.”

The law permits medical professionals who conscientiously object to abortion to refrain from participation in the procedure; however, doctors who object to abortion must refer women to doctors who will perform them.

A statement from the Department of Health, obtained by TheJournal.ie, says that “the HSE [Health Service Executive] has advised that where conscientious objection has arisen in relation to the provision of termination of pregnancy services, hospital groups are working with the hospitals in question to find an appropriate solution.”

Of the nine maternity hospitals that do not offer full abortion services, five are due to to “operational issues”, and four are related to conscientious objection and recruitment, according to an April update sent to the national health department.

Some of the hospitals are small, and have argued that abortion provision there would be unnecessarily expensive.

South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel, about 30 miles south of Thurles, has “the smallest number of births in the country (900 a year) and maternity services represent a small part of its activities; to establish a service in the hospital will require dedicated clinics, which may have little or no demand”, according to one of the documents.

The HSE added that abortion provision at South Tipperary “would not represent optimal use of scarce resources given the proximity of STGH to other hospitals providing the service.”

The health department has said it is “extremely disappointed that, at this stage, there are still only 10 hospitals providing full ToP (termination of pregnancy) services”.

“From the outset the Minister and the Department have been very clear that government policy is to normalise ToP service provision within our maternity hospitals and that services will be provided from all 19 maternity hospitals,” the Department of Health stated.

“In that context, it is not acceptable that the NWIHP [National Women & Infants Health Programme] should seek to defer introduction of the service on the basis of low demand or because of sufficient regional coverage or, indeed, because of preference to provide services on a networked basis.”

Dr. Trevor Hayes, a consultant obstetrician/gynecologist at St. Luke’s General Hospital in Kilkenny, maintained at a July 6 pro-life rally in Dublin that health minister Simon Harris is “obsessing with abortion” and is “trying to bully good men and women to get involved in their abortion against their conscience.”

Continued pressure to back abortion would force doctors, nurses and other medical professionals out of medicine and add to “the staffing crisis already crippling the health service,” Hayes predicted.

Hayes is one of several consultant colleagues at St. Luke's who have told management they would not perform abortions. He told that rally that abortion is “a procedure that helps no one and takes the life of the child ... Abortion is not life-saving, it’s life-ending. It’s not health care, and no amount of spin can make it health care.”

The health department's documents show that “it is unlikely” that abortion service will begin at St. Luke's General Hospital in 2019.

In May, the Irish bishops' conference objected to job requirements mandating that certain consultant doctors be willing to participate in abortions, saying the country’s abortion law had promised to safeguard conscience rights for medical professionals.

An advertisement for two consultants, for obstetrics/gynecology and anesthesia, at the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin says applicants must be willing to participate in abortions.

“This precondition runs totally counter to a doctor’s constitutional and human right to freedom of conscience,” said the bishops.

The bishops’ conference said such preconditions may rule out the best possible person for the job by eliminating candidates solely because they are unwilling to perform abortions.

“A doctor who is eminently qualified to work as a consultant in these fields is denied employment in these roles because of his/her conscience,” said the bishops.

“Doctors who are pro-life and who may have spent over a decade training in these areas and who may otherwise be the best candidate for these positions are now advised that, should they apply, they would not be eligible for consideration," they said.

A spokesman for the National Maternity Hospital argued that the specific posts were funded by the HSE for the purpose of abortions.

“They are therefore for individuals willing to contribute to the provision of these services. Other past and future posts are not affected. The conscientious objection guidelines for staff in both hospitals remain unchanged,” the spokesman said, according to RTE.

At least 640 general practitioners in Ireland signed a petition in November objecting to the new obligation of referring patients to other doctors for abortions.

The majority of the country's 2,500 GPs are unwilling to perform abortions. Only between 4 and 6 percent of GPs have said they would participate in the procedure.

At the July 6 All Ireland Rally for Life, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, said: “I march today because I believe it remains as important as ever to affirm the sanctity of all human life. The direct and intentional taking of the life of any innocent human being is always gravely wrong – we must avoid becoming desensitized to the value of every human life.”

He called for more help for vulnerable women, for mothers and fathers who are in crisis, and for “parents who feel that they have made the wrong choice in having an abortion.”

Sri Lankan Christians 'have no hate in their hearts,' Ministerial hears

Washington D.C., Jul 17, 2019 / 11:00 am (CNA).- Survivors of deadly Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka have forgiven their perpetrators, but distrust between religious groups threatens a tenuous peace in the country, one survivor said on Tuesday.

Survivors “are on the path to recovery,” Yamini Ravidran told a global religious freedom gathering July 16 in Washington, D.C.  “They have no hate in their hearts,” she said.

Tuesday marked the first day of meetings and discussions at the U.S. State Department of the Second Annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. The Ministerial is a gathering of religious and civic leaders from all over the world, as well as leaders of non-governmental organizations and over 100 foreign delegations.

On Tuesday, attendees heard testimonies of survivors of religious persecution and terror attacks targeting churches, mosques, and synagogues.

Ravidran was joined on a panel by Rabbi Hazzan Jeffrey Myers of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, where 11 were killed in a shooting in October, and Dr. Farid Ahmed, a survivor of a shooting at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The Sri Lanka bombings on Easter Sunday targeted three Christian churches—two Catholic churches and a Protestant church—and three resort hotels in Sri Lanka, as well as a residence and a zoo, killing over 250 people and injuring around 500.

“Easter Sunday is supposed to be a day of celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ,” Ravidran said, but in 2019 that day “was going to permanently change the lives of many.”

Outside one church targeted in the attacks, children were asked by their Sunday school teacher how many were willing to die for Christ, she said. Most raised their hands, and “only a few minutes later, this became a reality for many of them.” Out of the 32 victims of the bombing of that church, 14 were children, she said.

Before the bombings, these children “could be called the first generation” in the country that “did not experience war, division, or brutality,” Ravidran said. A decades-long civil war ravaged the country and religious communities are still healing from the division of the conflict—division that could once again be fanned into flames. As a result, emergency restrictions, recently lifted after the decades-long conflict, have returned, Ravidran said.

The attack “has empowered some of the extremist elements” in the country, she said, and has “left us with a fear psychosis like never before.”

Catholic and Christian churches were closed for weeks after the attack, with the first public masses at Catholic churches held three weeks after Easter on May 12; attendees had to pass through strict security checks, the Guardian reported.

“There has been an increase in the distrust between communities,” Ravidran said, with instances of hate speech targeting Muslim communities.  

However, “the people of Sri Lanka are deeply resilient and compassionate,” she said, having survived previous disasters including the deadly 2004 tsunami and the civil war. Survivors of the bombings are forgiving the perpetrators, and “that is what we see in Sri Lanka,” she said.

U.S. withholds funding from UN population fund for third year

New York City, N.Y., Jul 17, 2019 / 08:00 am (CNA).- The United States has said it will not support the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for the third year in a row, the UN agency announced on Tuesday morning. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States will not contribute the expected $32.5 million to the agency. The funding instead will be transferred to the US Agency for International Development, where it will be used for family planning programs in line with the Mexico City policy, as well as maternal and reproductive health activities. 

Pompeo said the United States would not support the UNFPA because of its partnership with the Chinese government through its office in that country. 

"China's family planning policies still involve the use of coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization practices," a state department spokeswoman said.

The State Department said that, according to the fund’s own materials, the agency “partners on family planning with the Chinese government agency responsible for these coercive policies."

The UNFPA denies that its work in the country is related to sterilization or abortion. Sarah Craven, the chief of the UNFPA’s office in Washington, DC, told CNN that the agency is “trying to end (China’s) sex-selective abortion and coercive birth limits,” and that they are in no way assisting the Chinese government with these goals. 

“It’s literally the opposite,” said Craven to CNN. 

The UNFPA also denies that their work is contributing to abortion or sterilization, and was critical of the United States’ decision to once again forego funding the agency. 

“UNFPA has not yet seen the evidence to justify the serious claims made against its work,” said the organization in a statement published to its website. “UNFPA does not perform, promote or fund abortion, and we accord the highest priority to universal access to voluntary family planning, which helps prevent abortions from occurring.”

Additionally, the UNFPA said it “opposes coercive practices, such as forced sterilization and coerced abortions,” and considers them to be human rights abuses. 

While the agency maintains its separation from coercive use of abortion and sterilization, the use of both practices as tools of population control have been closely contested.

The Holy See’s Permanent Observer mission to the United Nations has long warned of the use of coercive policies in matters of population. In a major address to the International Conference on Population and Development in September 1994, the then Vatican diplomat to the UN Archbishop Renato Martino told the conference that women are often the “primary victims” of population policies which “often tended towards coercion and pressure, especially through the setting of targets for providers.”

Martino specifically cited the practice of promoting sterilization to women as a “family planning” option, often without the women understanding the permanence of the procedure. He also noted the increasing campaign to recognize abortion as a “human right.”

In April of this year, the Holy See’s current Permanent Observer to the UN, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, spoke at a conference held to evaluate the progress made since the 1994 summit. 

In his speech, Auza underscored the Church’s opposition to ongoing attempts at the UN to legitimize and promote abortion as a human right and to see it as a legitimate tool in population control. 

“Suggesting that reproductive health includes a right to abortion explicitly violates the language of the [1994] International Conference on Population and Development, defies moral and legal standards within domestic legislations, and divides efforts to address the real needs of mothers and children, especially those yet unborn,” he said.

UK again delays implementation of age restriction for online porn 

London, England, Jul 17, 2019 / 12:10 am (CNA).- A planned restriction on websites that host pornography in the United Kingdom, set to go into effect July 22, has been delayed for another six months. This marks the third delay for the proposed rules, which mandate that porn websites verify that users are over 18.

"I'm extremely sorry that there has been a delay...mistakes do happen, and I'm terribly sorry that it happened in such an important area," UK Digital Minister Margot James told the BBC.

Then-Digital Minister Matt Hancock signed a commencement order for the Digital Economy Act in 2017 as a means to curb pornography access by those under 18.

To view online pornography, internet users would need to confirm their age by entering information from a driver’s license, credit card, or passport. If users do not wish to input their personal information, they may purchase a special ID card, available at thousands of retail shops across the nation for under £10.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) would supervise the age checks, and internet service providers would block websites which fail to comply, the BBC reported.

The rules cover sites where more than a third of content is pornographic. This rules out platforms such as Twitter and Reddit, which are known to have small pockets of pornography. Non-commercial pornographic sites will also be exempt.

The rule was originally scheduled to take effect in April 2018, but in March the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced it would begin “later in the year.” In June, the department announced the program would not launch until July because the UK government failed to properly notify European regulators of the change.

Originally, websites that failed to follow the age verification rules were expected to face a nearly $330,000 fine, but this will not be enforced because of the difficulty enforcing payment from porn companies overseas. Rather, the government said a threat to block noncompliant websites should be sufficient to ensure conformity, the BBC reported.

In March 2019, Matt Fradd, author of The Porn Myth and creator of the new 21-day porn detox STRIVE, voiced support for increased restrictions surrounding pornography.

“If it’s something as simple as age verification, I’m all for it,” he told CNA at the time.

“It just sounds like we are expecting the same thing of people online that we already expect of them offline.”

Among the available age verification services is AgeID, built by MindGeek, which operates and owns several common pornographic sites. Sarah Wollaston, chairwoman of the UK Health and Social Care Committee, said putting Mindgeek in charge of age verification is akin to putting “a fox in charge of the hen house.”

Mindgeek has said that it is not in their interest to attract minors to its sites.

Some critics of the new rule say it violates the privacy of pornography users and that personal data could be at risk of leakage under the new policy.

Others, however, say it does not go far enough in protecting children from encountering pornography.

Children’s access to online pornography has been identified as a significant problem: A 2016 study by internet security company Bitdefender found that about 1 in 10 visitors to porn video sites is under age 10.

Fight the New Drug, an organization that works to educate on the harmful effects of pornography, has highlighted numerous studies showing the negative impact of pornography on underage users, including the creation of addictions, changes in sexual taste, and physical impact on the brain.

“Just more broadly, I would say pornography perverts a child’s understanding of human intimacy and sexual life, which is a very beautiful thing,” Fradd stressed.

“It’s as pernicious as sex is beautiful and human intimacy is worthwhile. Since those two things are beautiful and worthwhile, the corruption of it [in regards to] a child is all together something despicable and horrid.”

London boys' schola tour brings music from Old Spain to the New World

London, England, Jul 16, 2019 / 06:01 pm (CNA).- Franciscan mission priest St. Junipero Serra would perhaps recognize some of the music that will be sung in an upcoming tour of the London Oratory Schola Cantorum Boys Choir in Utah and California, which will include three of the Spanish missions.

The schola, perhaps best known for its work featured in the soundtracks for the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings films, chose the missions for their next tour because of the many invitations they have received to sing in the area. But most of all, they chose them because they will be singing music from their new album entitled “Sacred Treasures of Spain.”

“The Spanish history behind the missions is of immense significance, and ties in with the repertoire which we are singing,” Charles Cole, the director of the boy’s choir, told CNA.

“Many pieces of Spanish Renaissance music and indeed composers themselves crossed over to New Spain and have become part of an amazing and beautiful heritage which reaches into the chain of missions. So singing this music in those beautiful churches has a resonance and appeal which was too much to resist,” Cole added.

The music of the album which will be sung on the tour will include music from Spanish Renaissance composers such as Tomás Luis de Victoria and Francisco Guerrero, who were also priests, and Alonso Lobo, among others.

While the recording of the album itself took just three days, the music is well-known to the boys, because they have sung most of these songs during the liturgy, Cole said.

“In a sense the choir is always preparing for an album, because we return to these pieces over and over again in the context of the liturgy, and we try to refine and purify the performance singing over the long term,” he said.

The schola was founded in 1996, and the boys, ranging in age from 7-18, are educated in the Junior House of the London Oratory School. They rehearse and sing multiple times throughout their school day.

The Spanish album is the second such album recorded by the choir. The first, “Sacred Treasures of England,” was released in 2017.

Cole said there is a distinct difference between the English sacred music and the Spanish sacred music on the albums, even though both styles of music profess “profound truths” and are of “staggering quality.”

In the English album, “the music sometimes points to the struggle in times of adversity, hinted at by (William) Byrd’s inclusion of the text ‘have mercy on me’ at the end of his Ave Verum Corpus,” Cole said.

“On the other hand, Byrd’s contemporaries in Spain, some of whom are presented on Sacred Treasures of Spain, were working unimpeded in the most fertile Catholic conditions imaginable: under the powerful patronage of Philip II, their music has a sense of freedom and purity allowing them to achieve an extraordinary level of quality in their polyphonic writing which is staggeringly crafted.”

Some of the pieces on the album include Guerrero’s “O Sacrum Convivium”, “O Quam Gloriosum” by Victoria, and “Versa est in Luctum” by Lobo.

The boys choir has already toured Spain to perform these pieces, Cole said, and they are looking forward to bringing these works of sacred music to the U.S. missions.

“...these missions are so beautiful, but each one is unique and special in its own way. We are very excited to bring the choir there. It is wonderful to bring alive the sound world of these Spanish Renaissance composers in so fitting a place as these missions...it will be a tour we will remember forever.”

The album, Sacred Treasures of Spain, can be found on both Amazon and iTunes, with the proceeds of sales going to support the choir program.

The schola’s 10-day tour of the Catholic missions on the West Coast of the U.S. begins on July 18. The tour begins with performances in Salt Lake City and continues in California, where they will be singing in Santa Paula, Santa Barbara, Carmel, and San Francisco.

USCCB Purchases Translation of Psalms and Canticles from Conception Abbey

WASHINGTON--On July 1, 2019 the USCCB purchased the copyrights to the Revised Grail Psalter and the Old and New Testament Canticles translated by the monks of Conception Abbey in Missouri. The two texts will now together be titled Abbey Psalms and Canticles and will gradually be incorporated into the Church’s official liturgical books. These sacred texts play an important role in the public prayer of the Church, especially in the Liturgy of the Hours and in the readings for Mass.

For over two decades, the bishops have sought a translation of the psalms and canticles that would be more accurate and more conducive to singing and recitation. Since at least 1998 the monks of Conception Abbey have been working to prepare translations that would meet these goals. The USCCB first approved the monks’ translation of the psalter in 2008, and the Holy See then approved that text in 2010. In June 2015 the USCCB approved Conception Abbey’s translation of the canticles, hymn-like passages from the Bible that are used on certain occasions in the liturgy. The bishops subsequently approved a revised version of the psalter in 2016. In May 2018 the Holy See approved both the psalter and the canticles in what should now be their definitive form.

Abbot Gregory Polan, the Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation, was Abbot of Conception Abbey for nearly twenty years and coordinated the preparation of the Abbey Psalms and Canticles. “It is my sincere hope,” he commented, “that this translation of the Psalms and Biblical Canticles will be a source of spiritual nourishment for the liturgy and the private prayer of all who use them.” The USCCB is grateful for the exceptional service that the monks of Conception Abbey have provided to the Church by their work.

Since 2010 many composers have prepared their own settings of these Psalms for use in the liturgy, and some of the more recently-published liturgical books have already begun incorporating material from the new translations. The Abbey Psalms and Canticles will begin to see a wider dissemination in the coming years, especially when new editions of the Lectionary for Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours are completed.

In purchasing these copyrights, the bishops are following the guidelines of the Holy See’s Instruction Liturgiam authenticam, which requires that a Conference of Bishops possess all the rights necessary to promote and safeguard the accurate and appropriate use of the texts of the Sacred Liturgy.
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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Divine Worship, liturgy, psalms, Conception Abbey, Liturgy of the Hours, Abbot Gregory Polan

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200

 

USCCB President Condemns Threat of Widespread Enforcement Actions and New Rule Drastically Limiting Asylum

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, made the following statement in response to the climate of fear created by the Department of Homeland Security’s announced immigration enforcement actions and the Administration’s new Interim Final Rule to drastically limit asylum, which was published today:

“Enforcement actions like those anticipated this week by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency separate families, cause the unacceptable suffering of thousands of children and their parents, and create widespread panic in our communities. I condemn such an approach, which has created a climate of fear in our parishes and communities across the country. I recently wrote the President asking him to reconsider this action.

A stated intent of these actions is to deter Central Americans fleeing for their lives from seeking refuge in the United States. This is both misguided and untenable. It is contrary to American and Christian values to attempt to prevent people from migrating here when they are fleeing to save their lives and to find safety for their families.

And, in addition to this climate of fear, we have seen the Administration today take further unacceptable action to undermine the ability of individuals and families to seek protection in the United States. The Administration’s new rule on asylum eligibility presents a similar enforcement-only immigration approach. The rule adds further barriers to asylum-seekers’ ability to access life-saving protection, shirks our moral duty, and will prevent the United States from taking its usual leading role in the international community as a provider of asylum protection. Further, while still reviewing the rule, initial analysis raises serious questions about its legality.

I urge the President to reconsider these actions, the new rule, and its enforcement-only approach. I ask that persons fleeing for their lives be permitted to seek refuge in the U.S. and all those facing removal proceedings be afforded due process. All who are at or within our borders should be treated with compassion and dignity. Beyond that, a just solution to this humanitarian crisis should focus on addressing the root causes that compel families to flee and enacting a humane reform of our immigration system.

Pope Francis, in his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2019, reminds us that ‘the presence of migrants and refugees – and of vulnerable people in general – is an invitation to recover some of those essential dimensions of our Christian existence and our humanity that risk being overlooked in a prosperous society.’”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, President Trump, Pope Francis, ICE, DHS, Justice for Immigrants, Enforcement, immigration,

 

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Media Contact:

Mark Priceman

202-541-3064

Chairman of U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, applauds the convening of the Second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom

WASHINGTON— This week marks the Second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom hosted by the U.S. Department of State with 1,000 religious and civil society leaders and foreign ministers from 115 countries. The Ministerial reaffirms international commitments to promote religious freedom and develop durable, positive ways to combat religious persecution and unjust discrimination.

The Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services, USA and Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued the following statement:

“Our faith reminds us that religious freedom is the cornerstone of a just society which is increasingly under threat. 77% of world’s population, 5.5 billion, live in 83 countries with high or very high restrictions on the practice of religion. We are witnessing entire communities around the world pay with their lives to exercise freedom of conscience and faith. I am pleased to participate in this Ministerial, and support our government’s efforts to promote freedom of conscience and religion for all.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Second Ministerial, Religious Freedom, U.S. Department of State, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, Military Services, Committee on International Justice and Peace

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

Miguel Guilarte

202-541-3202

Confraternity of Christian Doctrine Awarded Grants to Promote Catholic Biblical Literacy and Interpretation

WASHINGTON--This spring, the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) awarded grants in the amount of $68,266.50 for five projects that support the goals of the CCD to promote Catholic biblical literacy and Catholic biblical interpretation.

The CCD works with the Catholic Biblical Association (CBA) to offer these grants, accepting applications only from the CBA, including the organization itself, its designees, and its full and associate members. In fidelity to Dei Verbum, the CBA's purpose is to promote scholarly study in Scripture and related fields by meetings of the association, publications, and support to those engaged in such studies.

Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, Bishop of Houma-Thibodaux and Member of the CCD-CBA Liaison Committee, commented, "We are pleased to have received so many strong proposals from the members of the Catholic Biblical Association. These projects will advance biblical scholarship and support biblical literacy in parishes and classrooms."

Funding for these grants comes from the royalties received from the publication of the New American Bible and its derivative works which the CCD develops, publishes, promotes, and distributes.
The five projects sponsored by the CCD are as follows:

•  $20,766.50 to Michael G. Azar for residency in Jerusalem to study the Bible in Eastern Christian-Jewish Relations.
•  $15,000 to Jeffrey L. Cooley, David Vanderhooft, and Michael Simone, SJ, to support a conference on “The Spirit of Scholarship: Biblical and Mesopotamian Studies in the Roman Catholic Academy.”
•  $25,000 to Andrew Glicksman to develop a manuscript on the relationship between Wisdom and Spirit in the biblical and patristic tradition.
•  $5,000 to Christopher Seeman for a series of videos addressing the representation of Jews and Judaism in Catholic exegesis, homiletics, and catechesis.
•  $2,500 to Kelley Coblentz Bautch for participation in the Qumran residency to study the presentation of Salome Alexandra in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, CCD, Catholic Biblical Association, CBA, Bishop Shelton J. Fabre, Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, CCD-CBA Liaison Committee, Dei Verbum, New American Bible, biblical scholarship, pastoral programs, biblical literacy, biblical interpretation, grants

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Media Contact:
Miguel Guilarte
202-541-3200