Welcome!

If you have never been to a Catholic church, or if you are new to our area of Kansas City, welcome!

If you and your family have been away from the Catholic Church for some time, welcome back! If you are an active member of our family at St. John Francis Regis, welcome! In short, we are glad you are here.

Come and join us for Holy Mass and be transformed by God’s grace. Participate, go out “into the deep”— get involved. We are truly blessed to have such a Christ-centered, faith-filled community. We invite you to join us and experience this great gift of God. Learn ways you can get involved at St. John Francis Regis by browsing our site, our bulletin, or our Facebook page. Take advantage of the various links and videos and contemplate anew the splendor of our faith alive in our age.

I invite you to consider becoming a registered member of our parish so you can grow in abundant love of God and neighbor. We look forward to seeing you, and may God richly bless you!

In Christ,
Fr. McCaffery

Upcoming Events

Acts: The Spread of the Kingdom

DVD presentations by Jeff Cavins and Sarah Christmeyer
August 21, 2018 - 9:00am
Mary's Room
Continue on the journey with this 20-week study of Acts of the Apostles and the story of the earliest days of the Church.Read more

Acts: The Spread of the Kingdom

DVD presentations by Jeff Cavins and Sarah Christmeyer
August 28, 2018 - 9:00am
Mary's Room
Continue on the journey with this 20-week study of Acts of the Apostles and the story of the earliest days of the Church.Read more

Acts: The Spread of the Kingdom

DVD presentations by Jeff Cavins and Sarah Christmeyer
September 4, 2018 - 9:00am
Mary's Room
Continue on the journey with this 20-week study of Acts of the Apostles and the story of the earliest days of the Church.Read more
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Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

RCIA Program

Saint of the day

August 17, 2018 - 12:00am
St. Hyacinth was one of the first members of the Dominicans (the Order of Preachers) and the "apostle of the North", and is also called the "Apostle of Poland."Hyacinth was born into nobility in 1185 at the castle of Lanka, at Kamin, in Silesia, Poland, and received an impressive education, becoming a Doctor of Law and Divinity before traveling to Rome with his uncle, Ivo Konski, the Bishop of Krakow. In Rome he met St. Dominic and decided to join the Order of Preachers immediately, receiving his habit from Dominic himself in 1220.After his novitiate he made his religious profession, and was made superior of the little band of missionaries sent to Poland to preach. In Poland the new preachers were well received and their sermons produced a deep conversion in the people. Hyacinth also founded communities in Sandomir, Kracow, and at Plocko on the Vistula in Moravia. He extended his missionary work through Prussia, Pomerania, and Lithuania. Then, crossing the Baltic Sea, he preached in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Russia, reaching the shores of the Black Sea.On his return to Krakow he died, on August 15, 1257.Some of his relics can be found at the Dominican church in Paris.St. Hyacinth is a patron of Poland.
August 16, 2018 - 12:00am
On Aug. 16, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast day of King Saint Stephen of Hungary, the monarch who led his country to embrace the Christian faith during the 11th century. Before the future saint's birth in 975, his mother, the duchess Sarolt, is said to have received a vision in which the original Saint Stephen – the Church's first martyr – appeared telling her she would bear a son who would evangelize their land. Together with her husband, the Hungarian duke Geza, Sarolt is believed to have been converted and baptized by the bishop Saint Adalbert of Prague. The same saint baptized their son Vaik in 985, giving him the name of Stephen. Geza had desired to convert the Hungarians to the Catholic faith, a passion shared by Stephen once he reached adulthood and succeeded him in power. After conclusively defeating an alliance of rival pagan nobility, he used their acquired wealth to build a monastery, and invited clergy to convert the people. Stephen established laws favoring Christianity over paganism, and sent an emissary to Rome with a request for the Pope to proclaim him as king. Pope Sylvester II accepted the request, sending him a crown and a gold processional cross, while also giving Stephen certain religious privileges. He showed great diligence as king, while devoting the rest of his time to his religious duties – including charity toward the poor and sick, as well as the worship of God – and to his household. Gisela, Stephen's wife, was the sister of the ruler later canonized as the Holy Roman Emperor Saint Henry II. Greatly devoted to the Virgin Mary, Stephen had several churches built in her honor both in Hungary and outside the kingdom. Her intercession is credited with preventing a war between Hungary and the Holy Roman Empire under Conrad II, and stopping an assassination plot against Stephen himself. The Hungarian king also established a monastery in Jerusalem, and set up institutions to aid pilgrims in other major cities. Stephen counted saints among his friends and correspondents, and fulfilled the Pope's charge to use his royal authority for the good of the Church. Suffering came to the king, however, when only one of his children survived to adulthood. Stephen's only living son Emeric received a strong Catholic upbringing, and was expected to succeed his father. But Emeric died before Stephen, after a hunting accident in 1031. Emeric was later canonized as a saint in his own right, and Stephen eventually came to rejoice that his son had been permitted to enter God's presence before him. The king's final years, however, were marked by illness as well as a succession dispute among his relatives. In 1038, on the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Stephen delivered his final words to leaders of the Church and state, telling them to protect and spread the Catholic faith. To the Virgin Mary, the king directed one of his final prayers: “To thee, O Queen of heaven, and to thy guardianship, I commend the holy Church, all the bishops and the clergy, the whole kingdom, its rulers and inhabitants; but before all, I commend my soul to thy care.�St. Stephen of Hungary died on Aug. 15, 1038. He was buried alongside his son St. Emeric, and the two were canonized together in 1083.
August 15, 2018 - 12:00am
Today, Catholics and many other Christians celebrate the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This significant feast day recalls the spiritual and physical departure of the mother of Jesus Christ from the earth, when both her soul and her body were taken into the presence of God.Venerable Pope Pius XII confirmed this belief about the Virgin Mary as the perennial teaching of the Church when he defined it formally as a dogma of Catholic faith in 1950, invoking papal infallibility to proclaim, “that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever-Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.�His Apostolic Constitution “Munificentissimus Deus� (Most Bountiful God), which defined the dogma,contained the Pontiff's accounts of many longstanding traditions by which the Church has celebrated the Assumption throughout its history.The constitution also cited testimonies from the early Church fathers on the subject, and described the history of theological reflection on many Biblical passages which are seen as indicating that Mary was assumed into heaven following her death.Although the bodily assumption of Mary is not explicitly recorded in Scripture, Catholic tradition identifies her with the “woman clothed with the sun� who is described in the 12th chapter of the Book of Revelation.The passage calls that woman's appearance “a great sign� which “appeared in heaven,� indicating that she is the mother of the Jewish Messiah and has “the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.� Accordingly, Catholic iconography of the Western tradition often depicts the Virgin Mary's assumption into heaven in this manner.Eastern Christians have also traditionally held Mary's assumption into heaven as an essential component of their faith. Pius XII cited several early Byzantine liturgical texts, as well as the eighth-century Arab Christian theologian St. John of Damascus, in his own authoritative definition of her assumption.“It was fitting,� St. John of Damascus wrote in a sermon on the assumption, “that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death,� and “that she, who had carried the creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles.�In Eastern Christian tradition, the same feast is celebrated on the same calendar date, although typically known as the Dormition (falling asleep) of Mary. Eastern Catholic celebration of the Dormition is preceded by a two-week period of fasting which is similar to Lent. Pius XII, in “Munificentissimus Deus,� mentioned this same fasting period as belonging to the traditional patrimony of Western Christians as well.The feast of the Assumption is always a Holy Day of Obligation for both Roman and Eastern-rite Catholics, on which they are obliged to attend Mass or Divine Liturgy.
August 14, 2018 - 12:00am
Saint Maximilian Kolbe, the Polish Franciscan priest, missionary and martyr, is celebrated throughout the Church today, August 14. The saint died in the concentration camp at Auschwitz, during World War II, and is remembered as a “martyr of charity� for dying in place of another prisoner who had a wife and children. He was canonized by Pope John Paul II on October 10, 1982.St. Maximilian is also celebrated for his missionary work, his evangelistic use of modern means of communication, and for his lifelong devotion to the Virgin Mary under her title of the Immaculate Conception.All these aspects of St. Maximilian's life converged in his founding of the Militia Immaculata. The worldwide organization continues St. Maximilian Kolbe's mission of bringing individuals and societies into the Catholic Church, through dedication to the Virgin Mary.St. Maximilian, according to several biographies, was personally called by the Virgin Mary, both to his holy life and to his eventual martyrdom. As an impulsive and badly-behaved child, he prayed to her for guidance, and later described how she miraculously appeared to him holding two crowns: one was white, representing purity, the other red, for martyrdom. When he was asked to choose between these two destinies, the troublesome child and future saint said he wanted both. Radically changed by the incident, he entered the minor seminary of the Conventual Franciscans at age 13, in 1907. At age 20 he made his solemn vows as a Franciscan, earning a doctorate in philosophy the next year. Soon after, however, he developed chronic tuberculosis, which eventually destroyed one of his lungs and weakened the other.On October 16, 1917, in response to anti-Catholic demonstrations by Italian Freemasons, Friar Maximilian led six other Franciscans in Rome to form the association they called the Militia Immaculata. The group's founding coincided almost exactly with the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, and the Marian apparitions at Fatima, Portugal.As a Franciscan priest, Fr. Maximilian returned to work in Poland during the 1920s. There, he promoted the Catholic faith through newspapers and magazines which eventually reached an extraordinary circulation, published from a monastery so large it was called the “City of the Immaculata.� In 1930 he moved to Japan, and had established a Japanese Catholic press by 1936, along with a similarly ambitious monastery. That year, however, he returned to Poland for the last time. In 1939, Germany invaded Poland, and Fr. Kolbe was arrested. Briefly freed during 1940, he published one last issue of the Knight of the Immaculata before his final arrest and transportation to Auschwitz in 1941.At the beginning of August that year, 10 prisoners were sentenced to death by starvation in punishment for another inmate's escape. Moved by one man's lamentation for his wife and children, Fr. Kolbe volunteered to die in his place. Survivors of the camp testified that the starving prisoners could be heard praying and singing hymns, led by the priest who had volunteered for an agonizing death. After two weeks, on the night before the Church's feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the camp officials decided to hasten Fr. Kolbe's death, injecting him with carbolic acid. St. Maximilian Kolbe's body was cremated by the camp officials on the feast of the Assumption. He had stated years earlier: “I would like to be reduced to ashes for the cause of the Immaculata, and may this dust be carried over the whole world, so that nothing would remain.�
August 13, 2018 - 12:00am
St. Pontian became Pope in the year 230. Five years later, after Pope Urban I, he was exiled to the mines of the Italian island of Sardinia during a period of Christian persecution. There, he decided to resign from his papal office and died a martyr for the faith.Hippolytus was a priest and well-respected theologian in the early third century. But in 217 he rebelled against the Church when Callistus became Pope. He, too, was exiled in 235 to the Sardinian mines, where he met Pontian. Pontian helped Hippolytus reconcile with the Church bevore he died, and Hippolytus, too, died as a martyr. His writings were important, including "A Refutation of All Heresies", "Song of Songs", and "The Apostolic Tradition".
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Daily Readings

August 17, 2018 - 1:00am
1 Again the word of the LORD came to me:
2 "Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations,
3 and say, Thus says the Lord GOD to Jerusalem: Your origin and your birth are of the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite, and your mother a Hittite.
4 And as for your birth, on the day you were born your navel string was not cut, nor were you washed with water to cleanse you, nor rubbed with salt, nor swathed with bands.
5 No eye pitied you, to do any of these things to you out of compassion for you; but you were cast out on the open field, for you were abhorred, on the day that you were born.
6 "And when I passed by you, and saw you weltering in your blood, I said to you in your blood, `Live,
7 and grow up like a plant of the field.' And you grew up and became tall and arrived at full maidenhood; your breasts were formed, and your hair had grown; yet you were naked and bare.
8 "When I passed by you again and looked upon you, behold, you were at the age for love; and I spread my skirt over you, and covered your nakedness: yea, I plighted my troth to you and entered into a covenant with you, says the Lord GOD, and you became mine.
9 Then I bathed you with water and washed off your blood from you, and anointed you with oil.
10 I clothed you also with embroidered cloth and shod you with leather, I swathed you in fine linen and covered you with silk.
11 And I decked you with ornaments, and put bracelets on your arms, and a chain on your neck.
12 And I put a ring on your nose, and earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown upon your head.
13 Thus you were decked with gold and silver; and your raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and embroidered cloth; you ate fine flour and honey and oil. You grew exceedingly beautiful, and came to regal estate.
14 And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor which I had bestowed upon you, says the Lord GOD.
15 "But you trusted in your beauty, and played the harlot because of your renown, and lavished your harlotries on any passer-by.
60 yet I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish with you an everlasting covenant.
63 that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I forgive you all that you have done, says the Lord GOD."
August 17, 2018 - 1:00am
59 "Yea, thus says the Lord GOD: I will deal with you as you have done, who have despised the oath in breaking the covenant,
60 yet I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish with you an everlasting covenant.
61 Then you will remember your ways, and be ashamed when I take your sisters, both your elder and your younger, and give them to you as daughters, but not on account of the covenant with you.
62 I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the LORD,
63 that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I forgive you all that you have done, says the Lord GOD."
August 17, 2018 - 1:00am
2 "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation."
3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
4 And you will say in that day: "Give thanks to the LORD, call upon his name; make known his deeds among the nations, proclaim that his name is exalted.
5 "Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth.
6 Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel."
August 17, 2018 - 1:00am
3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?"
4 He answered, "Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female,
5 and said, `For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?
6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder."
7 They said to him, "Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?"
8 He said to them, "For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery."
10 The disciples said to him, "If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry."
11 But he said to them, "Not all men can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given.
12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it."
August 16, 2018 - 1:00am
1 The word of the LORD came to me:
2 "Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see, but see not, who have ears to hear, but hear not;
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Catholic News

August 17, 2018 - 4:20pm

Irondale, Ala., Aug 17, 2018 / 03:20 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- EWTN Global Catholic Network announced Friday that Daniel Burke has been named President and Chief Operating Officer of EWTN News, Inc. Burke has been until now Executive Director of EWTN’s National Catholic Register.

The appointment is effective immediately. In his new role, Burke will oversee and direct EWTN’s global news operations, including EWTN News Nightly with Lauren Ashburn, The World Over with Raymond Arroyo, EWTN Pro-Life Weekly, Force for Good, the Washington, D.C. News Production group, The National Catholic Register, Catholic News Agency, the ACI Group, ChurchPop, and EWTN’s Vatican Bureau.

In a statement, Burke said that EWTN Foundress Mother Angelica “changed the face of Catholicism in America as she advanced the Gospel through her use of the media.”

Today, Mother Angelica’s legacy continues through EWTN, he said, and Catholic news contributes to the network’s mission of worldwide evangelization.  

“I am honored to play a small role in this great work of God and look forward to serving the vital mission of EWTN News as we engage and examine the events of the day through the lens of the teachings of the Church.”

Burke will report directly to Michael Warsaw, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of EWTN, according to a press release issued by the network.

“Over the past several years, EWTN has focused a great deal of effort on creating a global Catholic news platform through television, radio, print and digital,” said Warsaw in a statement.

“Dan Burke is a perfect choice to lead these operations,” Warsaw said. “He is uniquely suited to help facilitate cooperation and editorial collaboration across our multiple outlets. I am confident this will result in a greatly strengthened position for all of our news operations.”

Burke has been employed by EWTN since the network acquired the National Catholic Register in 2011.

Before joining the National Catholic Register, he worked in global strategy development, organizational development, and business and technology consulting. He has written or edited 11 books on Catholic spirituality, and he founded the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, which teaches graduate-level courses in spirituality to priests, religious and laity.

EWTN Global Catholic Network was launched in 1981 by Mother Angelica of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration. The largest religious media network in the world, it reaches more than 275 million television households in more than 145 countries and territories.

In addition to 11 television channels in multiple languages, EWTN platforms include radio services through shortwave and satellite radio, SIRIUS/XM, iHeart Radio, and over 500 AM & FM affiliates. EWTN publishes the National Catholic Register, operates a religious goods catalogue, and in 2015 formed EWTN Publishing in a joint venture with Sophia Institute Press. Catholic News Agency is also part of the EWTN family.

August 17, 2018 - 4:12pm

Washington D.C., Aug 17, 2018 / 03:12 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- After a grand jury found thousands of alleged instances of sexual abuse in six of Pennsylvania’s Catholic dioceses, numerous U.S. bishops have called for renewal and change in face of these heartbreaking events.

Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, vice president of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the Church in the U.S. is in “a sad and confusing time.”

In his homily for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Aug. 15, the archbishop asked the Blessed Mother to intercede for greater purity and renewed love inside the Church.

“Let us ask the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary, the Mother of the Church. May she help us to have the courage we need to purify the Church and renew our love for holiness and our devotion to Jesus Christ and his Gospel.”

An 884-page grand jury report was released Aug. 14. The report states more than 1,000 victims had been sexually abused by some 300 priests over a span of seven decades. The report also points to the efforts to conceal or ignore the abuse by Church authorities.

Archbishop Gomez said now is the time for prayers and repentance in the Church, encouraging actions of forgiveness and healing.

“This is a time now for prayer and repentance and a time for examining our conscience, especially for those of us who are bishops and priests. And all of us need to pray for every person who has been hurt by the Church, and we need to work to help them heal.”

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia said the report should also ignite a just anger, not an unhealthy rage, and he compared it to Christ's actions toward the moneychangers in the temple.

His archdiocese experienced similar reports on abuse in 2005 and 2011, he said, noting the “The anger Philadelphians felt toward the Archdiocese was likewise well placed.” Similarly, he said, this recent event calls for an anger which needs to be controlled and fruitful.

“Anger is also a righteous and necessary response – but it needs to be an anger that bears good fruit; an anger guided by clear thinking, prudence, and a desire for real justice. That kind of anger all of us should feel this week and carry with us into the days ahead.”

For his archdiocese, he said, anger motivated change. Since the abuse had been made known, the archdiocese has taught an estimated 100,000 laypeople and clergy to recognize and report abuse.

An Aug. 15 statement from the bishops of New Jersey dioceses acknowledged “that media accounts of the details contained in Pennsylvania’s grand jury report show a heartbreaking departure from our fundamental belief in the dignity and value of every child. As a Church, our calling remains unchanged - to help children in our care encounter leaders who exemplify God’s commandment to love and protect the most vulnerable.”

“As Bishops, we hold that every parent and every child deserve a safe environment to learn and explore their faith. Every space where teaching, worship, and ministry take place must provide this safe environment. There must be no compromise on this principle. The children entrusted to our care are treasures.”

The New Jersey bishops said they will “remain vigilant to ensure that not one child will ever be abused on our watch,” adding that the state's dioceses have conducted background checks on all personnel who have regular contact with minors.

“We thank law enforcement agencies, child protection advocates and victims themselves who have helped us move beyond compliance to creating the safest environments for learning and worship. We are deeply thankful for those who have joined our efforts to extend both healing and hope to every victim and their family. We renew our commitment to foster healing and seek forgiveness.”

The bishops of New Jersey's dioceses urged “anyone who was abused by clergy to come forward to civil authorities.”

Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston said that while many sexual offenders have answered for their crimes, there are areas in need of improvement.

“While many perpetrators have been held accountable in one way or another for their crimes, we have yet to establish clear and transparent systems of accountability and consequence for Church leadership whose failures have allowed these crimes to occur.”

“The Church must embrace spiritual conversion and demand legal transparency and pastoral accountability for all who carry out its mission,” he added. “The way we prepare priests, the way we exercise pastoral leadership and the way we cooperate with civil authorities; all these have to be consistently better than has been the case.”

This will not be an easy task, admitted the cardinal. He said Catholics and others in society are frustrated with Church leadership. However, he promised there is still hope.

“I am not without hope and do not succumb to despondent acceptance that our failures cannot be corrected. As the Church we have the responsibility to help people not to lose hope, that was Jesus’ message to all those he ministered to, especially in times of great trial.”

“There is too much good in the Church and in our faith to lose hope. Often it is survivors who courageously teach us we cannot lose hope.”

August 17, 2018 - 1:01pm

Philadelphia, Pa., Aug 17, 2018 / 12:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Bishop Timothy Senior, auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia, has announced that the archdiocese is investigating a claim of sexual harassment made by a former student at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

In a letter sent this week to the priests and deacons of the archdiocese, the bishop said that the allegations concerned actions by a former student against another during the 2010-11 academic year.
 
The investigation was confirmed in a statement made by the archdiocese Aug. 16.

John Monaco, a former student at St. Charles Borromeo, made the allegations public in an online account posted Aug. 9.
 
Monaco subsequently enrolled in St. John’s Seminary in Boston, and also detailed alleged “abuse and misconduct” there. Last week, Cardinal Séan O’Malley announced a “full independent inquiry” into allegations of misconduct in St. John’s.
 
The investigation at St. Charles Borromeo comes in the wake of the ongoing scandal surrounding Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, who is accused of sexually abusing minors and of sexually harassing seminarians during his time in ministry. On Aug. 17, new allegations emerged concerning a “homosexual subculture” among seminarians in his former archdiocese of Newark.
 
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s announcement also follows the release of a grand jury report into six other Pennsylvania dioceses. That report followed an 18 month investigation and contained the names of 300 priests accused of sexual abuse. Writing in response to that report’s release, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia said that anger by the faithful was understandable and for Church leaders “the only acceptable responses are grief and support for the victims, and comprehensive efforts to ensure that such things never recur.”
 
Speaking to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Monaco said that “it was painful to go back and re-experience the memories, but I am glad that I came forward …. A seminary should never be a place where a man does not feel that he can be protected and grow in holiness.”
 
The allegations made by Monaco concerning the seminaries in Philadelphia and Boston include accounts of excessive drinking by priests who would invite a “clique” of seminarians to their rooms for private parties.

In a statement made Aug. 16, Ken Gavin, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, said that the archdiocese had “recently became aware of allegations of sexual harassment by one seminarian of another.”
 
“In keeping with the long-term policy of the seminary and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, this allegation was turned over the Archdiocesan Office of Investigations for appropriate handling in light of policy and applicable law. As it is an active investigation, we are not able to comment upon it further.”

August 17, 2018 - 12:11pm

Kansas City, Mo., Aug 17, 2018 / 11:11 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Missouri Democratic leaders have voted to remove language acknowledging different views of abortion from their party platform, drawing criticism from pro-life Democrats who say they deserve to be recognized and the move could harm the party’s prospects this November.

Kristen Day, president of Democrats for Life of America, said the actions of state party chairman Stephen Webber “send the message that pro-life Missourians are unwelcome in the party.”

“If that is his intention, then he should state it clearly and explicitly in an official statement,” Day said Aug. 11. “Missouri pro-life Democrats are real Democrats who support labor and helped to defeat the right-to-work proposition this week. They support health care, a living wage, and a host of other issues on which all Democrats agree. We want to be in this party, and we will wait for a clear statement from Chairman Webber on where we stand.”

The previous party platform language was approved at a June meeting of the state party platform committee by a 31-25 vote, the Kansas City Star reports.

“We respect the conscience of each Missourian and recognize that members of our party have deeply held and sometimes differing positions on issues of personal conscience, such as abortion,” said the added language. “We recognize the diversity of views as a source of strength and we welcome into our ranks all Missourians who may hold different positions on this issue.”

The Missouri Democratic Party’s central committee voted to remove the platform language on Aug. 11. It then added language saying the party opposes “any efforts to limit access to reproductive health care” and backs “a woman’s right to choose and the right of every person to their own bodily autonomy and to be free from government intrusion in medical decisions, including a decision to carry a pregnancy to term.”

The central committee also added a preamble stating that the platform reflects the party’s values, though candidates must articulate their own policy positions.

“We made a mistake,” said St. Louis alderwoman Annie Rice, “Abortion is a legal healthcare procedure, and as a party we must support access.”

Rice tried and failed to block the change to the platform in June.

Webber, the party chairman, said the platform discussion wasn’t contentious, telling the Kansas City Star “We got it right, and the final product is something that can unify the whole party.”

Day, however, made the case for acknowledging Democratic voters who oppose abortion.

“Pro-life Democrats have stayed in the shadows and have been taken for granted long enough. We must be recognized and heard,” she said. “Right now, we are hearing that current leaders of the Democratic Party do not want us and we should look elsewhere.”

She said the unilateral removal of ratified platform language is “very unusual.”

“It makes you wonder about the kind of pressure supposedly ‘progressive’ groups exerted and why,” Day said. “They know that this removal will cause chaos.”

Day defended the platform language proposed in June by former Missouri State Rep. Joan Barry.

“Joan didn’t ask for much,” said Day. “She put forth a reasonable amendment that merely made a point of recognizing that while some Democrats do not agree with the party position on abortion, they should be treated with respect and included in the party.”

At the August central committee vote, Barry abstained. She said she was disappointed by the change but was committed to electing Democrats in the upcoming elections.

“Diversity has been a matter of strength in this party,” Barry told the Kansas City Star. “I just felt that we needed to be sure pro-life Democrats are recognized as members of the party. Some people in the electorate don’t believe that you can be pro-life and be a Democrat. But that’s not true. We are Democrats. And I’ll do everything I can to help the party this fall.”

Pro-abortion rights groups praised the platform change.

Alison Dreith, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, characterized the previous platform language as “anti-choice.”

“The Democratic Party’s overwhelming vote to re-prioritize reproductive freedom has put the party back on track just in time to pick up wins in November,” she said.

Rachel Sweet, who is regional director of public policy and organizing for Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes, welcomed the change, saying, ”Democrats across the state have let their party leaders know that a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions is non-negotiable.”

After the June vote, Sweet had said “Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes will hold accountable any party or candidate who doesn’t believe in every person’s right to make their own personal medical decisions without government interference,” the Kansas City Star reported.

Day compared the previous language to the 1996 national Democratic Party platform language included by U.S. Rep. Tony Hall (D-Ohio). She characterized the language as non-combative. While it suggested the party has an official position on abortion, it also suggested “that the party does not want to lose the votes of Democrats who may disagree on that one position.”

The platform change could have political consequences for Democrats, Day argued. She cited the competitive race facing incumbent U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), who backs legal abortion but has said she welcomes votes opposed to abortion. According to Day, the McCaskill race could have a pivotal role in determining the outcome of U.S. Supreme Court nominations and even impeachment of President Donald Trump.

“Missouri Party Chairman Stephen Webber thinks that the best way to support Senator McCaskill and other Democrats in Missouri is to create an unnecessary battle over abortion,” charged Day.

Day said that efforts to silence pro-life Democrats have produced poor results for the party in Missouri. Democratic legislators have been in the minority in both houses of the state legislature since 2002, they hold only two of Missouri’s eight Congressional seats, and Democrats “have a difficult time winning seats outside the urban cores,” she argued.

“If I were the party chairman, I would try to decipher what was going wrong and try to unite the party, not highlight the divisive issue of abortion by reversing a moderate amendment that says we are a big-tent party,” Day said.

 

 

August 17, 2018 - 11:30am

Austin, Texas, Aug 17, 2018 / 10:30 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The privacy and religious freedom of Texas bishops and other religious groups was upheld by the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans, after the bishops’ internal communications were subpoenaed by an abortion group.

In the 2016 case Whole Woman’s Health v. Smith, an abortion group sued the state of Texas, challenging a law that would require abortion facilities to bury or cremate aborted fetal remains.

As of now, remains can be disposed of through incineration or disinfection and then discharged into a landfill, disposed of into sewer systems, or any other “approved alternate treatment process, provided that the process renders the item as unrecognizable, followed by deposition in a sanitary landfill.”  

The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops (TCCB) voiced their support for the state of Texas and offered free burials for the remains of aborted babies. Whole Woman’s Health responded by subpoenaing the bishops - although they had not been named in the lawsuit - and demanded access to all internal communications regarding abortion, including any theological and doctrinal debates on the issue.

The bishops released more than 4,000 pages of abortion-related communications with outside individuals, but did not turn over private, internal communications between bishops on the matter, and appealed for emergency protection of these communications.  

In June, a three-judge panel of a federal appeals court protected the bishops’ emails and communications, after which Woman’s Health appealed for a full court hearing.

The bishops’ right to protect their internal communications from government interference or opposition groups was again upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans yesterday.  

“It turns out that suing the Good Samaritan was a bad idea,” Eric Rassbach, vice president and senior counsel at The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said in a statement. Becket has represented the bishops in court.

“The Church should not have been dragged into this lawsuit solely because it offered free burials for babies. We’re glad the full Fifth Circuit recognized that.”

A final decision on the original lawsuit will come from Federal District Judge David Ezra at a yet unspecified date.

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