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USCCB president: Eucharistic document seeks to deepen 'awareness,' 'amazement'

Archbishop Jose Gomez at the fall 2019 USCCB meeting / Kate Veik/CNA

Washington D.C., Jun 21, 2021 / 18:15 pm (CNA).

The U.S. bishops are seeking to deepen “awareness” of the Eucharist with their new teaching document, the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference stated on Monday.

“As bishops, our desire is to deepen our people’s awareness of this great mystery of faith, and to awaken their amazement at this divine gift, in which we have communion with the living God,” Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference (USCCB), stated on Monday. “That is our pastoral purpose in writing this document.”

At their annual spring meeting last week, the U.S. bishops voted decisively to begin drafting a teaching document on the Eucharist.

Of those bishops who voted, nearly three-fourths, 168 bishops, voted in favor of drafting a formal statement on “the meaning of the Eucharist in the life of the Church.” Fewer than one-quarter, 55 bishops, voted against the motion, while six bishops abstained from voting.

Archbishop Gomez said the proposed document will focus on “the beauty and power of the Eucharist.”

“The Eucharist is the heart of the Church and the heart of our lives as Catholics,” he said. “In the Holy Eucharist, Jesus Christ himself draws near to each one of us personally and gathers us together as one family of God and one Body of Christ.”

Following the bishops’ vote, the USCCB doctrine committee will begin drafting the document, with regional meetings and consultations to follow, Gomez explained. The bishops will consider the full document at their fall meeting in November.

A proposed outline of the document, advanced by the USCCB doctrine committee, included various sections on the Church’s Eucharistic teachings, including the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, Sunday as a holy day, the importance of the works of mercy, and worthiness to receive Communion.

It is being advanced as the bishops also voted to launch a three-year Eucharistic Revival initiative, which will begin in 2022 and is planned to culminate in a national Eucharistic congress in 2024.

The USCCB’s working group to deal with Biden’s election recommended that the bishops issue a teaching document on the Eucharist. The group also cited previous plans of the conference to launch a three-year Eucharistic Revival initiative, as well as the USCCB’s 2021-2024 strategic plan “Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ.”

A teaching document would supplement these two initiatives, the working group said.

Such a document, while addressed to all Catholics, was needed to clarify the problems of Catholic public officials advocating policies contrary to Church teaching on grave moral issues, the working group said.

Biden, a Catholic, supports taxpayer-funded abortion and the Equality Act, and has advanced pro-LGBT policies through his administration.

The proposed document includes a subsection on “Eucharistic consistency,” or worthiness to receive Communion. The Church teaches that Catholics conscious of serious sin since their last confession cannot approach to receive Communion.

Archbishop Gomez on Monday asked Catholics to pray for the bishops as they draft and consider the document.

“I invite everyone in the Church to pray for the bishops as we continue our dialogues and reflections. I pray that this will be a time for all of us in the Church to reflect on our own faith and readiness to receive our Lord in the Holy Eucharist,” he said.

 

White House won't say if unborn child is human being at 15 weeks

Orhan Cam/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jun 21, 2021 / 16:10 pm (CNA).

The White House on Monday would not comment specifically on President Joe Biden and reception of Communion, and would not answer if a 15-week-old unborn child is a human being.

When asked by a reporter at Monday’s press briefing if Biden believes that a 15 week-old unborn baby is a human being White House press secretary Jen Psaki would not directly answer the question.

“Are you asking me if the president supports a woman’s right to choose? He does,” Psaki said. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments this fall in a pivotal abortion case on Mississippi’s ban on most abortions after 15 weeks.

Psaki was also asked about Communion on Monday. A reporter asked her what President Biden’s “reaction” was to a proposed Eucharistic document of the U.S. bishops. Psaki said Biden’s faith was “personal” and would not comment on the document.

Although the bishops moved to begin drafting a teaching document on the Eucharist – which included a subsection on worthiness to receive Communion – certain media reports framed the vote as part of a process to directly rebuke Biden or deny him Communion.

“Well Joe Biden is a strong man of faith, and as he noted, just a couple of days ago, it’s personal,” Psaki said. “He goes to Church, as you know, nearly every weekend. He even went when we were on our overseas trip.”

“But it’s personal to him, he doesn’t see it [faith] through a political prism, and we’re not going to be able to comment otherwise on the inner workings of the Catholic Church,” she added.

Psaki had been asked to respond to the U.S. bishops’ move to begin drafting a teaching document on the Eucharist last week. The reporter referred to it as a document “to clarify who should receive Communion” and one that “is targeted at politicians, people who have a high public profile.”

The U.S. bishops’ doctrine committee, which proposed drafting the document, included a subsection on “Eucharistic consistency” in its proposed outline, and noted the “special call for those Catholics who are cultural, political, or parochial leaders to witness to the faith.” 

Communion for pro-abortion Catholic politicians has been a topic of conversation among bishops since Biden’s election.

Canon 915 of the Church’s Code of Canon Law states that Catholics “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.” Then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in a 2004 memo on Communion, said that Catholic politicians who are “consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws” are considered to be formally cooperating in the grave sin of abortion, and are doing so in a “manifest,” or public, way. 

In such cases, Ratzinger said, the pastor of the official must meet with them and admonish them, instructing them that they cannot receive Communion. If the politicians persist in their pro-abortion advocacy, the minister of Communion “must refuse to distribute it,” he said. 

Biden supports taxpayer-funded abortion, has promised to codify Roe v. Wade, and has ordered foreign assistance to once again flow to pro-abortion groups abroad. His local ordinary in D.C., Cardinal Wilton Gregory of the Archdiocese of Washington, has said he would not deny Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians. Biden’s ordinary in the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware – Bishop Francis Malooly – has previously said he would not deny Biden Communion.

When the reporter followed up on Monday, asking Psaki if “statements by the bishops” would “make the president reconsider his public support for policies that increase access to abortion,” Psaki repeated her answer that Biden’s faith “is personal.”

“It’s something that has helped guide him through some challenging moments in his life, and that’s how many Americans see their faith as well – not through a political prism,” she said. “So, I suspect he will continue to attend Church, as he has for many, many years.”

On Friday, Biden was asked about a "resolution" of the U.S. bishops to deny him and other pro-abortion politicians Communion – even though the bishops’ vote last week was to begin drafting a teaching document on the Eucharist, not on any national policy of denying Communion.

“That’s a private matter and I don’t think that is going to happen,” Biden said.

US Catholics urged to practice ‘solidarity’ on religious freedom

Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Washington D.C., Jun 21, 2021 / 15:32 pm (CNA).

Catholics in the United States are being encouraged to pray each day this week about an issue related to religious freedom.

The theme of the U.S. bishops’ Religious Freedom Week - which runs from June 22-29 - is “Solidarity in Freedom,” where one bishop each day singles out a threat to religious freedom and asks for prayers from Catholics. 

“Religious freedom is for all people,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chair of the U.S. bishops’ religious freedom committee, in a video posted on the conference Twitter account on Monday. 

June 22 is the feast day of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher, two English martyrs. The week concludes on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. Prayer themes for each day include conscience rights for health care workers, Iraqi Christians, Catholics in Nicaragua, adoption and foster care, church vandalism, Catholic ministries during the pandemic, and the Equality Act.

“As Pope Francis has recently taught in Fratelli Tutti, solidarity means much more than engaging in sporadic acts of generosity. It means thinking and acting in terms of community,” Cardinal Dolan explained. Religious freedom, he said, “allows the Church, and all religious communities, to live out their faith in public and serve the good of all.” 

Dolan said that religious freedom is one of the cornerstones on which the United States was founded, adding, “It’s not a coincidence that we observe this celebration as we approach Independence Day, the fourth of July.” 

He also urged Catholics in the United States to pray for persecuted Christians worldwide.

“We also want to pray for our fellow Christians in places like Nicaragua, Nigeria, and Iraq, who face aggressive persecution,” said Dolan.  

Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington said in a June 21 statement that Religious Freedom Week is a chance to highlight “the right to serve the common good, as our faith compels us, through various religious charities and ministries.”

Burbidge credited people of faith for bringing hope to their communities during the pandemic, as they “selflessly served those in need.” 

In his diocese, Burbidge said that local Catholic Charities and parishes “delivered unprecedented amounts of food and emergency assistance to those experiencing financial difficulty.” He added that “a record number of families turned to Catholic Charities as they opened their homes to adoption.”

“And, in the darkest days of the pandemic, our Catholic schools led the way in safely reopening so students could thrive with in-person learning,” he said. “The impact within our communities is immeasurable, and, by the grace of God, it continues.” 

The Diocese of Arlington opened its schools to full-time in-person learning several months before local public schools opened to any in-person learning at all. Despite chiding from local politicians that the diocese was acting irresponsibly by opening schools, the diocese did not see any hospitalizations or deaths of staffers or students due to the coronavirus. 

It is important, said Burbidge, to “remain steadfast in our commitment to live virtuously and carry out acts of service,” as it is the “sad reality that real threats to religious freedom exist.” He cited the Equality Act, a proposed bill that he said “attempts to remove the truth of human sexuality from the public square by redefining gender.” 

“This act threatens to remove conscience protections for physicians, counselors and others, while simultaneously harming vulnerable populations,” he said. “It leads to confusion, especially among young people, and introduces a significant risk to women and girls who seek protection in shelters and other safe places.”

The bishop encouraged Catholics to address challenges to religious freedom “with steadfast conviction, renewed zeal, and unparalleled optimism.” 

“We have the truth, and we must be bold enough to stand up and proclaim it, no matter the cost,” he said.

Congressman dares bishops to deny him Communion over support for abortion, contraception

The entrance to the office of Rep. Ted Lieu in Washington D.C. on July 18, 2017. / Katherine Welles/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jun 21, 2021 / 14:25 pm (CNA).

In a series of tweets from his personal social media account over the weekend, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) called the U.S. bishops “partisan hypocrites” and dared them to deny him Communion over his support for contraception, legal abortion, and “same-sex marriage.” 

In a tweet tagging the U.S. bishops’ conference on Friday, Lieu, a Catholic, wrote that he supports contraception, “A woman’s right to choose,” and “The right of same sex marriage.”

“Next time I go to Church, I dare you to deny me Communion,” Lieu wrote to the bishops.

A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles - which includes the territory of Lieu’s congressional district - did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNA on Monday. 

The issue of Communion for pro-abortion politicians has resurfaced following the election of President Joe Biden - a Catholic who supports taxpayer-funded abortion. Although the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted last week to draft a teaching document on the Eucharist, a proposed outline of the document did not single out the president or any public official. 

It included a subsection on “Eucharistic consistency,” or worthiness to receive Communion. The bishops’ doctrine committee said the proposed document would include “a special call for those Catholics who are cultural, political, or parochial leaders to witness to the faith.” 

Some bishops last week did affirm the need to safeguard the Eucharist from scandal, during debates over the document. They cited cases where Catholic politicians who support permissive legislation on grave evils approach to receive Communion, despite having been warned about their positions. 

Canon 915 of the Church’s Code of Canon Law states that Catholics “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.” Then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in a 2004 memo on Communion, said that Catholic politicians who are “consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws” are considered to be formally cooperating in the grave sin of abortion, and in a “manifest” way. 

In such cases, Ratzinger said, the pastor of the official must meet with them and admonish them, instructing them that they cannot receive Communion. If the politicians persist in their pro-abortion advocacy, the minister of Communion “must refuse to distribute it,” he said. 

On Friday, 60 Catholic Democratic members of Congress issued a joint statement asking not to be denied Communion over their stances on the abortion issue. Lieu, one of the signers of the statement, issued a series of tweets from his personal Twitter account that criticized the U.S. bishops, and dared the bishops to deny him Communion.

In other tweets over the weekend, Lieu criticized the U.S. Bishops for not denying communion to Catholic Republicans, especially to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for his extramarital affairs and multiple divorces. Lieu also brought up the case of former Attorney General Bill Barr, a Catholic who sought to resume use of the federal death penalty and pushed for the execution of 13 inmates in the span of seven months. 

He also brought up other hypothetical scenarios and asked the bishops if they would deny Communion in those cases. 

“Dear @USCCB: Are you going to deny Communion to Catholic athletes who use condoms?” he asked. “Or deny Communion to Catholics who believe people should have the right to decide if they want to use contraception?”

“How radical is the @USCCB decision? A Catholic can love Jesus with all her heart, oppose abortion & work at Catholic Relief Services. But if she believes government shouldn’t put women in jail for an abortion, then she can be denied Communion,” Lieu tweeted

Lieu also argued “God’s love is not a quid pro quo transaction.” 

“Dear @USCCB: Instead of denying God to Catholic human beings who disagree with your political views, you should be inviting everyone to God’s table. God’s love is not a quid pro quo transaction. Remember Agape?” he asked. “It’s no wonder Catholic membership has been rapidly declining.”

During their meeting last week, some bishops warned against drafting the Eucharistic document with the section on “Eucharistic consistency,” saying that they could be seen as partisan actors or as politicizing the Eucharist.

Supporters of the document, including the bishops’ pro-life chair, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, said that the bishops needed to call for “integrity” from Catholic public officials. Archbishop Naumann said that those Catholic politicians who contradicted the Church’s teachings on grave issues and approached to receive Communion anyway were the ones politicizing the Eucharist.

“Those who advocate for abortion no longer talk in the language of choice,” Naumann said on Thursday. “They talk about it [abortion] as a right.” Pope Francis, he added, expressed agreement that the issue of abortion is a “preeminent” concern for the Church, during the ad limina meetings with the U.S. bishops in Rome during 2019 and 2020.

“We’re calling everybody to integrity, including those in public life,” he said. 

In their joint statement, the 60 Catholic House Democrats affirmed their commitment to “the basic principles that are at the heart of Catholic social teaching.” The members said they also believe “the separation of church and state allows for our faith to inform our public duties and best serve our constituents.”

They referred to their position on abortion as “support of a woman’s safe and legal access to abortion,” and said that denying Communion to Catholic public officials who support permissive legislation on abortion would be a “weaponization of the Eucharist.”

“We solemnly urge you to not move forward and deny this most holy of all sacraments, the source and the summit of the whole work of the gospel over one issue,” the statement said.  

They added that no elected officials “have been threatened with being denied the Eucharist” on issues such as the death penalty, family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border, or failing to reduce food insecurity. 

On Friday, Biden was asked about a “resolution” by the U.S. bishops to deny him and other publicly pro-choice politicians Communion - even though the bishops’ vote was not on a national Communion policy, but rather on whether to begin drafting the teaching document. Biden replied, “That's a private matter, and I don't think that's going to happen.”

Leah Darrow: ‘Babies Do Not Kill Dreams’

Leah Darrow on EWTN Pro-Life Weekly / EWTN

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 19, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

Leah Darrow is calling on society to recognize the beauty of children and to challenge the notion that abortion is necessary for women’s sucess.

Darrow rose to fame as a contestant on America’s Next Top Model. But at the height of her modeling career, she saw a vision from God that forever changed her life. She exited the industry and returned to her Catholic faith. Today, she juggles her time between caring for her six children and serving as a Catholic speaker and advocate for the unborn.

As a mother, she said, she embraces the pro-life position on a personal level.

“I can understand there being a fear of going into motherhood and all the concerns we have because it is such a grand vocation – it's a beautiful vocation,” she told EWTN Pro-Life Weekly June 10. “But my babies have not kept me from my hopes and my dreams or aspirations.”

While some celebrities and, more recently, Texas high school valedictorian Paxton Smith, claim that abortion is necessary for women to succceed, Leah stressed that her children make her – and the world – better.

“They've helped me dig a new path that's offered more clarity of what God has called me to be,” she explained. “My babies are a part of my dreams, they're a part of my hopes and my aspirations. And the world is truly better for it, because of my children and also for who I am because of my children in the world.”

Even if the world doesn’t appreciate it, motherhood is a gift.

“Our culture has slowly and systematically convinced us that motherhood is the enemy. And motherhood is not a dream and it's not an aspiration and it's not a hope that young women should have,” she said. “That is a lie.” 

According to Darrow, motherhood “is not a killer of dreams.” She pointed to Mary as an example.

“We know that Our Blessed Mother is a mother of every hope and every dream and every aspiration that should be at the foundation of our heart,” she said of Christ’s Mother. “The role of motherhood really needs to be redeemed in our world.”

Darrow’s comments came in response to Smith, whose valedictorian speech when viral earlier this month after she went off-script to speak about abortion and her state’s recent heartbeat legislation.

Smith told her class, “I am terrified that if my contraceptives fail, I am terrified that if I am raped, then my hopes and aspirations and dreams and efforts for my future will no longer matter.”

But Leah stressed hope in the midst of Smith's fear. 

“Now more than ever, mothers have more support and resources around them if and when they are ever faced with an unplanned pregnancy,” Leah said. Those resources include pregnancy centers, which offer pregnant women and new moms free help in the form of health care, clothing, educational classes, and housing.

Pro-lifers must also challenge the lie that abortion is necessary for women, Darrow said. 

“That's what we have to be at root at and to root out,” she emphasized, “because babies do not kill dreams, only abortion does that.”

Religious sisters in Illinois recovering after car crash

Chaikom/Shutterstock.

Springfield, Ill., Jun 18, 2021 / 21:01 pm (CNA).

Three Catholic sisters are on the mend following a multi-car crash in Springfield, Illinois that prompted an outpouring of prayers and support from the local community. 

The sisters of the order of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George - Sr. M. Magdalene, FSGM, Sister M. Clementia, FSGM, and Sister M. Michael, FSGM - were in a car that was struck from behind June 9 by another driver. The sisters’ car was propelled into another car and “became an accordion,” said Sr. Clementia.

As of June 15, Sr. Clementia and Sr. Magdalene had both been released from the hospital to recover at their motherhouse. Sr. Michael underwent hip reconstruction surgery at St. Louis University Hospital and is still hospitalized. 

“In God’s mercy and with all our prayers, our Sisters are now on the recovery path,” said Mother M. Mediatrix, FSGM, provincial superior of the community, to The Catholic Post. 

“We continue to pray for their full and complete healing and for anyone else that may have suffered injury in this multi-car accident,” said Mother Mediatrix, FSGM.  “We give God our gratitude and love.” 

Sr. Clementia suffered a broken left leg, ribs, and vertebrae, and will have to wear a back brace for the next 12 weeks. She told The Catholic Post, the newspaper of the Diocese of Peoria, that she was lucky she wasn’t killed in the crash. 


“We shouldn’t be here,” she said to The Catholic Post. “So many miraculous things happened.”

Sr. Clementia said that she escaped more serious injury when her legs somehow were pushed to the top of the car’s dashboard. 

“Had they not, I would have been crushed under the car,” she explained. 

In an unusual coincidence, some of the first responders to the crash scene were a bishop, a priest, and a seminarian. They were a few cars behind the sisters when the crash occurred, and immediately ran to the sisters. 

Sr. Clementia could not recall the name of the bishop, but thinks he was from Texas. 

“I looked at the bishop and at first I’m thinking, ‘Is that a bishop?’” she said to The Catholic Post. The mystery bishop “went right to work on anointing us and praying over us. It was incredible.”

In response to the crash, the diocese responded with an outpouring of prayers, including two prayer vigils, to support the sisters in their recovery. 

“That’s gotten us all through it,” said Sr. Clementia. “It amazes me. It’s so beautiful.”

Sr. Clementia said that the prayers are strengthening her to “fight for my recovery, and it shows me there really is beauty in suffering, joy in suffering.”

“I never understood that until now,” she said.

Biden doesn't expect not to be admitted to Holy Communion

President Biden addresses the 2021 National Prayer Breakfast / National Prayer Breakfast

Washington D.C., Jun 18, 2021 / 20:15 pm (CNA).

On Friday, US President Joe Biden was asked about a "resolution" of the U.S. bishops to deny him and other pro-abortion politicians Communion – even though their vote this week was on drafting the teaching document, not any national policy of denying Communion.

“That’s a private matter and I don’t think that is going to happen,” Biden said.

Te U.S. bishops held their annual spring general assembly this week. The bishops debated drafting a document on the Eucharist, which would include a sub-section on “Eucharistic coherence,” or worthiness to receive Communion.

In a proposed outline of the document, the bishops’ doctrine committee cited the special need for Catholic public officials to uphold Church teaching in public life.

Biden, who is the second Catholic US president, has pushed for taxpayer-funded abortion while his administration seeks to deregulate medical abortions and to fund international pro-abortion groups.

On the 48th anniversary of the US Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris issued a statement supporting Roe and stating their intent to codify it in law.

Biden repealed the Mexico City Policy, an executive policy that bars U.S. funding of foreign NGOs that provide or promote abortions. 

In domestic abortion policy, Biden moved to allow for federal funding of elective abortions by introducing his budget request for the 2022 fiscal year without the Hyde amendment. That policy, enacted in law since 1976 as a rider to budget bills, prohibited federal funding of most elective abortions in Medicaid.

Gaudium et spes, Vatican II’s 1965 constitution on the Church in the modern world, said that “from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes.”

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a doctrinal note in 2002 on participation of Catholics in political life. The document stressed the need for Catholics to adhere to Church teaching, especially on grave issues such as abortion and euthanasia.

Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the CDF, cited the note in his letter to the U.S. bishops in May on the matter of Communion for Catholic public officials who support permissive legislation on grave evils.

In October 2019, while campaigning for president, Joe Biden was denied Communion at a parish in the Diocese of Charleston. A Charleston diocesan policy, which is also that of the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Diocese of Charlotte, states that “Catholic public officials who consistently support abortion on demand are cooperating with evil in a public manner. By supporting pro-abortion legislation they participate in manifest grave sin, a condition which excludes them from admission to Holy Communion as long as they persist in the pro-abortion stance.”

$50 million anonymous gift supports students at Los Angeles Catholic schools

Catholic school students. / cheapbooks/Shutterstock

Los Angeles, Calif., Jun 18, 2021 / 19:01 pm (CNA).

An anonymous donor has given more than $50 million to the Catholic Education Foundation of Los Angeles for financial support for students at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Catholic elementary and high schools.

 

“The kindness and love reflected in this gift are beyond words,” Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles said June 16. “This gift will change the lives of countless young men and women, for generations to come, opening up opportunities for the future they could never have dreamed of. On behalf of all these young people, their families, and the whole family of God, we thank God for this benefactor and this beautiful expression of love for the Church.”

 

The gift will be allocated over a five-year period for students at the 212 Archdiocese of Los Angeles Catholic schools in Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara counties, the Catholic Education Foundation of Los Angeles said in a statement.

 

Douglas Cooper, executive director of the Catholic Education Foundation, voiced “tremendous gratitude and appreciation” for the “transformative gift.” The tuition awards will help new enrollees but also students who left “but now will be able to return.”

 

“There is no greater gift than a Catholic education which teaches values of faith, family and service,” Cooper added. “We are beyond grateful to this anonymous donor for their kindness, leadership and generosity, and we look forward to welcoming these students and families into our family of Catholic schools.”

 

The foundation encouraged local families interested in information about Catholic schools and financial assistance to contact the Catholic schools office or visit its website.

 

“A gift of this magnitude will change the lives of thousands of students, particularly our most needy,” said Paul Escala, senior director and superintendent of schools for the archdiocese. “We are deeply grateful for the confidence and faith this gift reflects in our teachers, leaders and families.”

 

“This is a remarkable opportunity to welcome new and legacy families to our Catholic schools,” he said.

 

About 78% of students in archdiocesan Catholic schools come from an under-represented minority background and half of these schools are in inner city or urban areas.

The education foundation aims to provide tuition aid to “the most financially deserving students” at Catholic elementary and high schools in the Los Angeles archdiocese. In 2021 the foundation gave over $12 million in tuition assistance to more than 10,000 students. Over the last 34 years, it has given $225 million in aid to 202,000 students.

 

Catholic schools “rely on contributions and other support to maintain education that is affordable and accessible for all families,” the education foundation said, claiming that Catholic schools in California save the state more than $2 billion in educational funding each year.

 

All of the archdiocese’s schools will resume in-person learning when the school year begins in August.

 

The education foundation said students never stopped learning during the pandemic due to an immediate transition to distance learning. Some 96% of elementary and high schools reported regular attendance.

 

There are some 51,000 students at parish and diocesan elementary schools in the archdiocese, and about 14,000 high school students at parish and diocesan schools, according to the archdiocese’s website.

 

The U.S. is home to about 6,000 Catholic schools, down from some 11,000 in the 1970s. About 1,000 have closed since 2007. At least 100 Catholic elementary and high schools across the United States did not reopen for the fall semester last year, with many suffering from low enrollment and decreased donations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

In April, the Los Angeles archdiocese announced the closure of six elementary schools and their consolidation with other schools. The schools had faced financial challenges long before the pandemic, officials said.

 

The archdiocese’s Catholic schools website said their schools “staved off catastrophic enrollment decline” during the pandemic. Though a 20% decline was forecast, elementary schools showed a 13% enrollment decline, and high schools a 6% decline.

 

The schools served over 2 million meals to high-need students and families at 40 schools through the National School Lunch Program. It helped supply personal protective equipment to all its schools and re-opened 100 schools with modified in-person instruction.

Sister Dale McDonald, public policy director of the National Catholic Educational Association, told CNA in June 2020 that about 80% of most Catholic schools’ operating budgets is based on tuition. Many Catholic schools hold major fundraisers in the spring, and many of these have had to be canceled, postponed, or significantly altered due to the pandemic.

'Eucharistic Revival' to begin in 2022: 'We want to start a fire, not a program'

Thoom/Shutterstock

Denver Newsroom, Jun 18, 2021 / 17:39 pm (CNA).

The bishops of the United States discussed on Friday a program of “Eucharistic Revival” which will aim to foster deeper devotion and knowledge about the Eucharist nationwide beginning next summer. 

Bishop Andrew Cozzens, an auxiliary bishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis and chair of the bishops’ evangelization committee, presented the plan to his fellow bishops during their virtual spring meeting June 18. He told CNA that the program aims to support and “start a fire” of devotion to the Eucharist with a particular focus on the local level— dioceses, parishes, and families. 

Cozzens said the initiative will aim to launch a “three year period of revival” nationwide, with a special focus on the local level, bringing the focus of Eucharistic revival to “any parish that desires it.”

Cozzens said the idea of a nationwide Eucharistic revival has been met with “incredible enthusiasm” already. He noted that many Catholic donors, media organizations, and volunteers across the country have pledged support. 

"One of the signs that the Holy Spirit is behind this is the incredible reception that so many different apostolates and movements have given to this idea," Cozzens told CNA. 

"Everybody wants to help, which is a sign to me that the Holy Spirit's really doing something."

The development of the plan was spurred by a 2019 Pew Research study, the results of which suggested that only about one-third of U.S. Catholics believe the Church’s teaching that the Eucharist is truly the body and blood of Christ. 

The pandemic delayed the plan, Cozzens said, but also made it “even more important” given the pandemic’s as-yet unknown long term impact on Mass attendance. 

The three-year Eucharistic Revival program will include three tiers: parish, diocesan, and nationwide. 

Beginning in July 2022, dioceses across the country will be encouraged to hold Eucharistic events and make the Eucharist a primary focus. The bishops aim to provide free teaching materials on the Eucharist, developed with the help of various catechetical partners, as soon as possible to assist dioceses in this, Cozzens said. 

Following that, in July 2023, parishes will be encouraged to do the same. Cozzens said they want to encourage “grassroots creativity” and embrace diverse Eucharistic traditions to help parishes foster a greater love for the Eucharist among their members. Parish level initiatives could include offering teaching Masses and small group formation. 

Throughout the presentation, Cozzens repeatedly emphasized the importance of spreading the practice of Eucharistic adoration, especially since he has seen the positive impact that adoration continues to have on young people. 

"There's a strong sense among those who work with young people that that encounter [with Jesus] happens profoundly through Eucharistic adoration," Cozzens said. 

“We want to encourage every parish to think about increasing Eucharistic adoration as part of the life of this revival,” he said. 

The revival would culminate in summer 2024 with a Eucharistic celebration event, held in a major city, that would serve as a pilgrimage site. Cozzens said they are eyeing the Midwest as a location because of its accessibility, as well as some cities in the South; final approval for such an event would come from the body of U.S. bishops in November.

Calling the plan a “once in a generation” opportunity to impact faith life, Cozzens said the plan aims to create “Eucharistic missionaries”— people who go out to spread devotion to the Eucharist to new places, what Pope Francis calls “the margins.”

Cozzens said the bishops plan to reach out to all of the country’s Catholic universities to invite them to participate. He said he suspects some colleges will decline, but he hopes many will take them up on the offer. 

"I want to have Eucharistic processions on every campus. And we have campus ministries that are ready to do that across the nation," he said. 

Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary of Los Angeles, asked Bishop Cozzens during the meeting whether he thought the timeline for the project could be sped up, in order to start the revival as soon as possible. 

Cozzens responded by noting that many dioceses, such as Atlanta and St. Augustine, are starting “Eucharistic revivals already, and they should continue to do so as soon as they would like to. The bishops’ plan is designed to support, not replace, efforts at Eucharistic revival at the local level”, he said. 

The plan for a Eucharistic Revival comes soon after the U.S. bishops on Thursday debated drafting a teaching document on the Eucharist, which would include a subsection on “Eucharistic coherence,” or worthiness to receive Communion.

In a proposed outline of the document, the bishops’ doctrine committee cited the special need for Catholic public officials to uphold Church teaching in public life, but stressed that they are not drafting any national policy of denying Communion.

Bishop announces launch of new catechetical institute 

Bishop Frank Caggiano / File Photo/CNA

Washington D.C., Jun 18, 2021 / 17:01 pm (CNA).

In a presentation to fellow U.S. bishops on Friday, Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport unveiled a proposal for a new institute on the Catechism. 

Bishop Caggiano said the institute would not be a physical building or a single event, but would be a “comprehensive initiative” to address recent challenges to the faith in the United States. He is chairman of the U.S. bishops’ subcommittee on the Catechism, which is sponsoring the initiative.

On Friday, the bishop cited a growing disaffiliation with the faith among youth, a need for catechesis to be “informational and formational,” the necessity of using technology to preach the Gospel, and a rise in the need for Catholic apologetics. All of these are reasons behind the institute’s creation, he said.

He also pointed out the need for “inculturated Hispanic catechesis.”

“It is important for us to recognize that as the growing number of Hispanic Catholics in our dioceses continues to increase, there is a profound need for us to have an inculturated catechesis that could not be addressed by our current review process,” he said. 

Bishop Caggiano addressed the U.S. bishops at their virtual general assembly held this week. The bishops debated and voted on several action items at their meeting, including the launch of a three-year Eucharistic Revival initiative, pastoral statements and frameworks on marriage, youth and young adult ministry, and on Native American ministry, a teaching document on the Eucharist, and approval of causes of canonization.

In his address on Friday, Caggiano explained the conference’s responsibility to start a national catechetical office to review the state of catechesis in the United States. The conference was charged with attending to the relationship between editors, authors and bishops to ensure faithfulness and authenticity of catechetical programs, he said. . 

Bishop Caggiano said the institute would seek to accompany publishers in the development of materials faithful to the Catechism. He also proposed a definition of “evangelizing catechesis.”

“Evangelizing catechesis” seeks to “deepen a personal encounter with Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit,” he said.

Caggiano said that “evangelizing catechesis” would involve proclaiming the Gospel, accompanying people in conversion to Christ, and sending out missionary disciples who promote a vision of life, humanity, justice, and human fraternity. 

Diocesan and Catholic publishing house staff will be invited to “annual formational experiences” of the institute, he said. Caggiano envisioned an environment that is “prayerful, studious and communal to both inform and form” those attending.

The virtual launch of the initiative is scheduled for December 2021. Caggiano said his plan was to establish the first in-person gathering - for every bishop and his diocesan staff - in Baltimore in November 2022. 

The institute will serve its “key stakeholders” of bishops on the education, doctrine, and family life committees, as well as the bishops of the 21 dioceses with catechetical publishing houses, he said.