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Appeals court rejects Biden administration request to enforce ‘gender identity’ Title IX rules

The U.S. Department of Education sign hangs over the entrance to the federal building housing the agency's headquarters on Feb. 9, 2024, in Washington, D.C. / Credit: J. David Ake/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 19, 2024 / 15:22 pm (CNA).

An appellate court rejected a request from President Joe Biden’s administration to enforce a regulation in four states that would broadly prohibit discrimination based on a person’s self-asserted “gender identity.”

The United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld a lower court ruling that prevents the U.S. Department of Education from enforcing any part of the “gender identity” provisions in the Title IX rule for public schools and colleges in Montana, Idaho, Louisiana, and Mississippi. 

The lower court’s order will remain in place as all five states continue their lawsuit, which challenges the legality of the regulation.

Courts have blocked the Department of Education from enforcing the regulation in 15 states altogether, while attorneys general in about a dozen other states have also filed lawsuits. The regulation will go into effect on Aug. 1 in jurisdictions where courts have not blocked its enforcement.

The regulation, which the administration promulgated in April, reinterprets Title IX’s prohibition on “sex discrimination” to include a prohibition on “gender identity” discrimination. 

Some lawyers and Republican attorneys general have warned that the rule would jeopardize state laws that restrict girls’ and women’s locker rooms, bathrooms, dormitories, and athletic competitions to only girls and women and could force states to allow access to men who identify as women.

“The Biden administration’s radical redefinition of sex turns back the clock on equal opportunity for women, undermines fairness, and threatens student safety and privacy,” Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Natalie Thompson, who is representing the Louisiana-based Rapides Parish School Board in the lawsuit, said in a statement

“The 5th Circuit now joins the 6th Circuit in holding back the Biden administration’s illegal efforts to rewrite Title IX while this critical lawsuit continues,” she added. “The administration continues to ignore biological reality, science, and common sense.” 

“The Rapides Parish School Board and schools and teachers across the country are right to stand against the administration’s adoption of extreme gender ideology, which would have devastating consequences for students, teachers, administrators, and families.”

After the lower court blocked the Department of Education from enforcing any part of the rule, the department filed an appeal that requested permission to partially enforce the rule while the litigation continues. The department claimed that the prohibition on enforcement was too broad and requested permission to enforce reporting and record-keeping rules, grievance procedures, and a variety of provisions related to “gender identity” discrimination included in the new rule.

In the ruling, the judges wrote that “the answer is no,” adding that the provisions the department wants to enforce are “complex, lengthy, and burdensome” and that the department “has given us little basis to assess the likelihood of success” in the case.

“The implementation and compliance costs would double if the partially implemented rule differs from a final judgment,” the judges wrote. “They would first have to amend their policies, alter their procedures, and train their employees to comply with a partial version of the rule pending appeal, and then they would have to do it all over again to comply with the rule as it stands at the conclusion of the litigation.”

The prohibition on sex discrimination written into the law itself makes no mention of “gender identity.” When Congress added the Title IX sex discrimination provisions into federal law in the 1970s, the intent was to provide girls and women with equal access to education and did not have any reference to transgenderism.

In spite of this, the Biden administration argues that interpreting “sex discrimination” to include “gender identity” discrimination is within the scope of the Department of Education’s regulatory authority. The states opposed to the rule argue that this interpretation is not consistent with the actual text of the law and falls outside of the department’s regulatory authority.

Pope Francis’ desire for Olympics is to foster world peace, which is ‘seriously threatened’

“The Olympic Games are, by their very nature, about peace, not war,” Pope Francis emphasized, noting that “the five intertwined rings represent the spirit of fraternity that should characterize the Olympic event and sporting competition in general.” / Credit: Ibex73, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

ACI Prensa Staff, Jul 19, 2024 / 14:47 pm (CNA).

In a message addressed to Archbishop Laurent Ulrich of Paris, Pope Francis expressed his fervent desire that the upcoming Olympic Games would foster world peace, which he said is “seriously threatened,” and follow the tradition of the ancient world of establishing a truce during the competition.

“In these troubled times, when world peace is seriously threatened, it is my fervent desire that everyone will respect this truce in the hope of resolving conflicts and restoring harmony,” the pontiff said.

Pope Francis has also stressed that the Olympic Games, which begin Friday, July 26, and run through Sunday, Aug. 11, in Paris, can “be an exceptional forum for encounters between peoples, even the most hostile,” and an occasion “to break down prejudices, to foster esteem where there is contempt and mistrust, and friendship where there is hatred.” 

“The Olympic Games are, by their very nature, about peace, not war,” he pointed out, noting that “the five intertwined rings represent the spirit of fraternity that should characterize the Olympic event and sporting competition in general.”

The Holy Father also said that he hopes the organization of the Olympic Games “will be for all the people of France a wonderful opportunity for fraternal harmony, enabling us to go beyond differences and opposing views, and strengthen the unity of the nation.”

Addressing the Catholics in France, he encouraged them to open the doors of their hearts, bearing witness to the Christ who dwells within them and communicates his joy to them, specifically through “the gratuitousness and generosity of their welcoming everyone.”

Sports, a universal language

Pope Francis noted that sports are “a universal language that transcends borders, languages, races, nationalities, and religions; it has the ability to unite people, to foster dialogue and mutual acceptance; it encourages people to surpass themselves, instills a spirit of sacrifice, promotes loyalty in interpersonal relations; it invites people to acknowledge their own limits and the value of others.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Pro-life roundup: Trump says abortion ‘will never be a federal issue again’

Republican presidential nominee former president Donald Trump speaks after officially accepting the Republican presidential nomination on stage on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention at the Fiserv Forum on July 18, 2024, in Milwaukee. / Credit: Andrew Harnik/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 19, 2024 / 13:52 pm (CNA).

Here’s a roundup of pro-life-related developments that took place in the U.S. this week. 

Trump says states will decide abortion, Heritage Foundation goes ‘too far’

In an interview with Fox News released during the Republican National Convention, former president Donald Trump reasserted his stance that abortion is exclusively a state issue and said that it “will never be a federal issue again.”

“By getting rid of Roe v. Wade I was able to get it back into the states and now I’ve given it back to the people, the people are voting and frankly the people are voting in many cases quite liberally,” he said.

He added: “They can vote the way they want, it’s not a federal issue, it will never be a federal issue again.”

In the interview Trump was being questioned about his stance on Project 2025, a policy agenda published by the conservative Heritage Foundation.

He distanced himself from Project 2025, particularly with its stance on abortion, arguing that it is “too severe” and “goes way too far.”

Project 2025 holds that “abortion and euthanasia are not health care” and that the Health and Human Services Department must ensure that all its programs and activities are “rooted in a deep respect for innocent human life from Day 1 until natural death.” 

It also posits that the FDA should reinstate a ban on mailing abortion pills and administering the drugs via telemedicine without in-person doctor visits.

“They have a strong view on abortion,” Trump said. “From what I’ve heard it’s not too far, [it’s] way too far, they’ve gone really too far.”

Abortion group sues Arkansas for invalidating broad abortion amendment

A pro-abortion group is suing Arkansas after its Secretary of State John Thurston invalidated a proposed abortion amendment, blocking its placement on the state ballot this November.

According to Thurston, the group, which goes by the name “Arkansans for Limited Government,” did not follow the proper procedures when submitting its request to have the amendment added to the ballot.

In response, the abortion group filed a lawsuit with the Arkansas Supreme Court in which it asked the court to reverse Thurston’s decision and order him to resume processing its request.

The group contends that it followed all necessary procedures to have the proposal added and that Thurston’s decision constitutes a “disregard for the power expressly reserved by the people in the Arkansas Constitution.”

In response, Thurston stood by his decision, telling Arkansans for Limited Government in a July 15 letter that the “defects” in their request “required me to reject your petition.”

Currently, Arkansas protects unborn life beginning at conception, only allowing abortion in cases in which the mother’s life is in danger.

If successfully passed by Arkansas voters, the abortion amendment would mandate that the state not “prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict” abortion before 18 weeks of pregnancy. The amendment would further prohibit the state from restricting abortion at all stages in cases of rape, incest, fetal anomaly, or health of the mother.

Iowa abortion supporters ask to block heartbeat law

After the Iowa Supreme Court issued a decision in June to allow the state’s pro-life heartbeat law to go into effect, an attorney for Planned Parenthood is asking the court to reconsider its decision.

The court’s decision was based on the belief that abortion is not a fundamental right under the Iowa Constitution. The decision is temporary and allows the heartbeat law, which protects life beginning at six weeks, to go into effect while legal challenges against it proceed in the courts.

According to reporting by the Iowa Capital Dispatch, attorney Peter Im, a lawyer with Planned Parenthood, is petitioning the court to review and potentially revise its decision. Im is arguing that laws restricting abortion should have to face higher legal scrutiny and not impose an “undue burden” on abortion access.

The Iowa heartbeat law could take effect as early as Friday evening depending on a ruling by a state district court in the afternoon. 

Montana judge orders state to count signatures from inactive voters

A Montana district judge issued a temporary ruling on Tuesday that requires the state to count inactive voters’ signatures in support of a broad abortion amendment.

This comes after Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen invalidated thousands of signatures from citizens whose voting status was “inactive.”

Judge Mike Menehan ruled that the state must count those signatures in its assessment of whether to add the abortion proposal to this November’s ballot.

If added to the ballot and passed by voters, the Montana abortion amendment would prohibit the state from “denying or burdening the right to abortion” before fetal viability or beyond when a health care professional determines it is “medically indicated to protect the pregnant patient’s life or health.”

Pennsylvania governor refuses to defend law banning state-funded abortion

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, filed a court notice on Tuesday that the state will not defend its long-standing law banning Medicaid funding for abortion. 

The ban on tax-funded Medicaid abortion, which has been in place since 1982, is being challenged by Allegheny Reproductive Health Center, a Pittsburgh abortion clinic, and several other abortion groups, in Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court. 

In a Tuesday statement, Shapiro said that “the current ban imposes a burden on women that is not sustainable and therefore violates our state constitution.”

“My administration looks forward to making our arguments in court and is urging the court to strike down this ban that denies Pennsylvanians access to health care solely because of their sex and clearly runs counter to the recent Supreme Court ruling,” he said. 

Abortion is currently legal in Pennsylvania until 24 weeks of pregnancy. There were 34,838 abortions in Pennsylvania in 2022, the most recent year with complete data. 

Wisconsin leaders join lawsuit to establish right to abortion

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul, both Democrats, have joined a lawsuit in the state Supreme Court to establish a right to abortion in the state constitution. 

In a Wednesday statement, Evers said he was joining the lawsuit, Planned Parenthood v. Urmanski, which is centered on whether the Wisconsin Constitution guarantees a right to abortion. 

Evers claimed that efforts to enshrine abortion into state law have “never been more important” because of what he called “looming Republican threats” to enact a national abortion ban and restrict access to birth control and emergency contraception.

After the overturning of Roe v. Wade, a pre-Roe law protecting life at conception went into effect for a short time until a ruling by a district judge found that the law did not apply to abortion. 

Currently, abortion is legal in Wisconsin until 20 weeks of pregnancy. 

‘There’s a better way’: Baltimore Archdiocese doubles gun buyback budget to $100,000

The Archdiocese of Baltimore said it acquired several hundred guns as part of a “buyback” program financed by local parishes and individual donors on Aug. 5, 2023. / Credit: Baltimore Police Department

CNA Staff, Jul 19, 2024 / 12:54 pm (CNA).

The Archdiocese of Baltimore will hold its second gun buyback program next month with the aim of doubling its budget from last year and taking even more guns off the streets of its titular city. 

The archdiocese said last year that it obtained 360 guns using $50,000 in raised funds in what officials described as an interfaith event to build “a coalition for peace in West Baltimore.” 

Long known for its high crime and homicide rates, murders in Baltimore have been particularly elevated for roughly a decade. The city in 2023 recorded a homicide rate of about 46 per 100,000 people compared with the U.S. rate of 5.5 per 100,000. 

Father Mike Murphy, the pastor of St. Joseph’s Monastery Parish in Irvington, told CNA last year that the diocese would do another gun buyback program “for sure.” 

The program arose “out of sadness and a desire to make a difference,” he said at the time, and a desire “to move the Church, all churches, into the streets and build strong community relationships.”

The Catholic Review, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, reported this week that the event will once again take place in August of this year with a doubled budget goal of $100,000 for buyback purchases. 

“We’re not under any illusion that we are going to stop all gun violence,” Murphy told the Catholic newspaper this week. 

“But we’re trying to change the narrative and promote the message that life is sacred,” he said. 

In a video message last month, Baltimore Archbishop William Lori said of the 2023 buyback that “every gun that was turned in brought with it the potential to save a life.”

“Our effort aligns with the Church’s belief that every human life is sacred and answers the Holy Father’s repeated call that the faithful work to reduce the trafficking of firearms,” Lori said. 

The archbishop said that “any money raised this year that is not used to purchase guns in the buyback will go towards the needs of families of homicide victims” through the archdiocese’s grief ministry program, which offers care packages to those who have lost loved ones to violence. 

“Ultimately, these efforts provide us with an avenue to channel God’s love towards peace and healing for Baltimore and all our neighbors who call the city home,” Lori said. 

Last year’s program netted nearly 160 handguns as well as shotguns and rifles. Handguns and long guns were purchased for $200 apiece, while assault weapons were bought for $300. All of the purchased firearms were destroyed. 

Murphy indicated to the Catholic Review this month that the program will continue after this year. “

“This isn’t a one-and-done event. We’re trying to show people there’s a better way,” he said.

Father Mike Schmitz preaches repentance at National Eucharistic Congress

Father Mike Schmitz speaks at the revival session of the National Eucharistic Congress on July 18, 2024. / Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

Indianapolis, Ind., Jul 19, 2024 / 11:30 am (CNA).

In his keynote speech at the National Eucharistic Congress Thursday evening “revival session,” Father Mike Schmitz, host of the popular “Bible in a Year” podcast, used a word that one doesn’t hear very often these days. He called on the Catholics gathered in Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium to repent.

“If this is going to be a revival, if it’s going to be a real revival, here’s the reality. In the history of Christianity, you can never have a revival without repentance,” said Schmitz, chaplain at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

Schmitz, whose YouTube videos and podcasts have made him a household name among Catholics and non-Catholics alike, was met with a standing ovation from the crowd of over 50,000 when he walked onto the stage on the second night of the five-day event to deliver his talk titled “The Greatest Love Story.”

Father Mike Schmitz speaks at the revival session of the National Eucharistic Congress at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on July 18, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Father Mike Schmitz speaks at the revival session of the National Eucharistic Congress at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on July 18, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

The National Eucharistic Congress is a culminating event of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ three-year-long National Eucharistic Revival, an initiative that aims to renew Catholics’ faith that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, a central tenet of Catholicism. 

The bishops in 2019 decided to embark on the initiative following a Pew survey that found that only one-third of Catholics believed that the consecrated bread and wine in the Mass are the body and blood of Jesus.

While some have disputed the methodology of that particular survey, belief in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist has been widely acknowledged to have declined in recent years.

Schmitz told the crowd attending the conference, however, that believing in the doctrine of the Real Presence that teaches that the Eucharist is Jesus is not enough. 

Comparing Catholics today to the people of Jerusalem to whom the prophet Jeremiah preached about the need to repent, Schmitz said the problem is not that we don’t know about the Eucharist, it’s that we are indifferent to it. 

“Too often,” he said, Catholics are “the people Jeremiah was speaking to. ... We say, ‘We have the Real Presence, we have the Real Presence, we have the Real Presence,’ but our hearts are far from him. We know — we just don’t care.” 

“If the remedy for ignorance is to get to knowledge, and the road to knowledge is truth, the remedy for indifference is love, and the road to love is repentance,” he challenged the gathering.

Ciboria filled with hosts await the start of Mass at the National Eucharistic Congress at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on July 18, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Ciboria filled with hosts await the start of Mass at the National Eucharistic Congress at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on July 18, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

Schmitz, who at one point seemed to tear up while talking about the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, told the crowd that belief in the presence of Jesus is “not the point of the Mass.”

“This whole conference, we’re talking about the real presence of Jesus. Amen. Yes, Jesus is truly present, body, blood, soul, and divinity in every Eucharist, in every Mass, in every tabernacle around the world,” he said.

“Is the point of the Mass the presence of Jesus? No. It’s the presence of Jesus that makes the point possible. I want to say that again. The presence of Jesus is not the point of the Mass,” Schmitz said.

“The Real Presence makes the sacrifice possible. We fall into a big trap when we say, ‘Oh, no, the point is that you’re here.’ Or, ‘The point is I get to receive you.’ Those are amazing things. But what saves us is the sacrifice of the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus to the Father in humble obedience,” he said.

He called on the assembled to repent — of large sins and “those small things that we settle for.” Both, he said, can “snuff out” the flame of our love for Jesus.

Everyone, he said, should ask themselves: “If I’ve lost the fire of my love for the Lord, my first love, the first fire, what are the fire extinguishers in my life?” 

He concluded by calling on those gathered for the conference to resolve to make changes in their lives.

“I can’t expect to take the fire of this weekend and bring it back to my home if I’m trying to cram it into the life I just left,” Schmitz continued. “Something has to change. Someone has to redecorate my home. We have to do some remodeling. That’s the plan. Tonight, be able to make some of those decisions. What are the fire extinguishers I know I’m returning to when I go back home? It’s time to remodel because I cannot fit the fire of God’s love and for the life I left behind.” 

The evening also included a keynote speech from Mother Olga of the Sacred Heart, who shared her experiences of Eucharistic miracles and healing that she has witnessed in her own life and in her work in the Archdiocese of Boston. 

Mother Olga of the Sacred Heart recounts her experiences with the healing power of the Eucharist at the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis on July 18, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Mother Olga of the Sacred Heart recounts her experiences with the healing power of the Eucharist at the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis on July 18, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

She recounted her experiences helping a young cancer patient and a significantly premature baby access the Eucharist. Both defied the odds and are thriving today, she said.

“I give thanks to God for allowing me to be present and to witness these miracles so I can come and be a voice for him and for them, so that you go out and share with everybody. Eucharistic miracles are real and Our Lord truly present, and he’s here in our midst, wherever you go, any parish, any church, any diocese,” she said.

Lila Rose, the founder and president of the pro-life human rights group Live Action, and Ken and Mary Ann Duppong, parents of Servant of God Michelle Duppong, also offered testimonies about their faith.

Before the conclusion of the event, the faithful knelt in adoration of the Eucharist, which was processed into and out of the stadium by Bishop William Byrne of Springfield, Massachusetts.

Bishop William Byrne of the Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts, prays before the Eucharist. Credit: Jeffry Bruno
Bishop William Byrne of the Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts, prays before the Eucharist. Credit: Jeffry Bruno
More than 50,000 kneel in adoration of the Eucharist at the National Eucharistic Congress held at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis. Credit: Jeffry Bruno
More than 50,000 kneel in adoration of the Eucharist at the National Eucharistic Congress held at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis. Credit: Jeffry Bruno

Bob Newhart, celebrated comedian and lifelong Catholic, dies at 94

Bob Newhart arrives at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on Sept. 10, 2016, in Los Angeles. / Credit: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

CNA Staff, Jul 19, 2024 / 09:15 am (CNA).

Bob Newhart, a cultural giant who is credited with pioneering modern stand-up comedy and spoke openly of his lifelong Catholic faith, died this week. He was 94.

The native Illinoisan passed away at his Los Angeles home on Thursday, his publicist said. The actor had suffered from several brief illnesses prior to his death.

Born in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park in 1929, Newhart gained prominence in the 1960s for his stand-up comedy; he would go on to star in the successful CBS television programs “The Bob Newhart Show” and “Newhart. He was known to later audiences for his supporting roles in the movie “Elf” and the show “The Big Bang Theory.”

Raised in the Catholic faith, Newhart attended multiple Catholic schools in Chicago, including St. Ignatius College Prep, before attending Loyola University Chicago, graduating with a degree in business management. 

He joked with the Catholic business group Legatus in 2013 that he “credited the Jesuits for the somewhat twisted way I have of looking at life.”

Newhart was married to his wife, Virginia, for 60 years, from 1963 until her death in 2023. He told Legatus in 2013 that the couple’s Catholic faith helped keep their decades-long marriage stable. 

“Being Catholic has a lot to do with it,” he said. “You work a little harder. You don’t just have your first fight and walk out the door.”

The actor said he went to Mass twice weekly. He said he regularly thanked God for helping his wife through a bout of liver cancer. “I kind of go and thank him for that. That was a very emotional time,” he said.

While in Los Angeles, the Newharts attended Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Beverly Hills, according to the parish’s website. Newhart was also a member of the Catholic Motion Picture Guild, which worked to establish moral artistic guidelines in the burgeoning Hollywood film industry. 

Newhart said he resisted the temptation to inject racy humor into his famously family-friendly comedy acts.

“There were times along the way over 50 years — mostly in the ’70s — when there was the temptation to maybe get a little bluer in my stand-up act,” he told Legatus. “It just never felt comfortable. It was like a sweater that never felt right, you know?”

His faith was known among his Hollywood friends. Fellow actor Don Rickles, who maintained a longtime friendship with Newhart, quipped in 2012: “We’re apples and oranges. I’m a Jew, he’s a Catholic. He’s low-key; I’m a yeller.” 

In an industry that has become defined by pervasive secularism, Newhart remained a steady, understated presence of faith for decades. He joked at one point that as a child his faith seemed universal. 

“I thought the entire world was Catholic when I grew up,” he said at the 1978 Chicago Emmy Awards. “Everybody I knew was Catholic. I assumed everybody on Saturday just automatically went to confession.”

The comedian stressed the benefits of humor and laughter. “No society would be either pleasant or lasting without humor,” he told Loyola University graduates at a commencement address in 2001. “Studies have shown that people with a sense of humor tend to be less egocentric, more realistic about the world, more humble in times of victory, and less defeated in times of travail.”

Speaking to Legatus in 2013, he implied that God would agree. 

“I think God has an incredible sense of humor,” he said. “All you have to do is look around the world. There’s no question that he has an incredible sense of humor.”

Bishop reminds vacationers: Only in God does the soul find rest

null / Credit: Egor Pasko from Moscow, Russia, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

ACI Prensa Staff, Jul 19, 2024 / 07:00 am (CNA).

In a new pastoral letter, Bishop Ginés García Beltrán of Getafe, Spain, reflects on the meaning of rest during summer vacation, when many families take the opportunity to take time to get away and relax.

García points out that “rest is good and necessary.” On the human level, this does not consist only of doing nothing but of “giving meaning to what we do” or “doing with tranquility and joy what we usually cannot do.”

García then poses the direct question: “You, in whom do you rest?” Underlining the personal nature of the question (“I didn’t say what gives you rest”), the Spanish bishop reminds us that man’s true rest is “in God” as expressed by the psalmist when he said: “My soul rests in God alone.” 

For the prelate, this verse conveys a lesson: “Trust in God opens the way to hope” in such a way that “all my problems, my burdens, my sufferings have an answer in the salvation of God.”

What then should we do with our daily rushing around and stress and the questions of existence? García proposes the following answer: “Put them in the hands of God and learn to rest in him.”

Abandonment to God

García also discusses an attitude that “today’s man does not practice very frequently,” which is abandonment to God. On this subject, the bishop notes that “taking hold of the reins of life is a requirement that we impose on ourselves without realizing that we are carrying a burden that is too heavy; there are those who believe that they must carry the weight of the world on their shoulders.”

García says each of us is called “to trust and abandon oneself in the hands of God and let him direct [his or her] life.” This doesn’t mean “abandoning your own responsibilities,” the prelate points out, but rather “not falling into the temptation of believing that we are the lord and master of ourselves.”

The bishop of Getafe notes that “what is necessary is having a regular relationship with the Lord, listening to his word, having concern for his things. Everything else is also important, but it will only make sense in view of the one thing that is necessary,” as illustrated in the Gospel passage that highlights the difference in the attitudes of Martha and Mary when Jesus came to visit them at Bethany.

Finally, referring to the Virgin Mary, García says: “She is a beautiful example for us to look at. With her yes to God she teaches us that only in him can our soul rest and only in him does our life and the rhythm of our existence find meaning.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Diocese of Buffalo welcomes Gianna Emanuela Molla for events honoring her mother

Gianna Emanuela Molla joins a private birthday dinner for Cheryl Calire at The St. Joseph Chapel at the Mother Teresa Home. / Credit: Photo courtesy of Cheryl Calire

CNA Staff, Jul 19, 2024 / 06:00 am (CNA).

For the past 15 years, Cheryl Calire, the director of life ministries at the Diocese of Buffalo, has worked to open eight St. Gianna Molla Pregnancy Outreach Centers. On July 11, when the eighth center was opened in Holley, New York, a very special guest was in attendance: Gianna Emanuela Molla, the daughter of the center’s namesake.

After meeting for the first time in 2011, Calire formed a friendship with Molla and has been trying to have her visit the diocese ever since. Finally, during the same year that Calire will be retiring, she was able to host Molla for a weekend of events honoring Molla’s mother.

“It took many, many years cultivating a friendship and a relationship,” Calire told CNA in an interview. “She knew I was going to be retiring at the end of the year, so it worked out and as she would say, ‘In God’s time.’”

Cheryl Calire and Gianna Emanuela Molla at a luncheon held by David and Cheryl Calire, founders and residents of the Mother Teresa Home, celebrating Molla's visit to Buffalo and Calire's upcoming retirement in December 2024. Credit: Photo courtesy of Cheryl Calire
Cheryl Calire and Gianna Emanuela Molla at a luncheon held by David and Cheryl Calire, founders and residents of the Mother Teresa Home, celebrating Molla's visit to Buffalo and Calire's upcoming retirement in December 2024. Credit: Photo courtesy of Cheryl Calire

The weekend of events kicked off with a dedication ceremony for the St. Gianna and Pietro Molla Family Garden at the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Kenmore, New York. The garden serves as a space for reflection and comfort for parents grieving the loss of a child. There is also a place for family members to be buried if, down the road, they decide that they would like to be buried with their children. The Diocese of Buffalo and Buffalo Catholic Cemeteries, which own and operate the cemetery, are also creating a special fund to cover burial costs for parents who have lost children.

Staff from the St. Gianna Molla Pregnancy Outreach Centers with Gianna Emanuela Molla at the dedication of the St. Gianna and Pietro Molla Family Garden on July 11, 2024. Credit: Photo courtesy of Cheryl Calire
Staff from the St. Gianna Molla Pregnancy Outreach Centers with Gianna Emanuela Molla at the dedication of the St. Gianna and Pietro Molla Family Garden on July 11, 2024. Credit: Photo courtesy of Cheryl Calire

From there, Molla was taken to the newest St. Gianna Molla Pregnancy Outreach Center for a Mass and benediction at the new location. These centers serve families by providing material, emotional, and spiritual support to mothers, fathers, and young families in need during and after pregnancy. 

“The first year, in 2010, we helped 200 families and I thought that was something,” Calire said. “We are on track this year to help over 2,000 families in the western New York area.”

Molla travels around the world not only speaking about her mother but is also working to promote the cause of her father, Pietro.

“She’s kind of made it her life mission to not only spread the word about her mom and her sainthood, but as she said her mom’s already a saint — many people know all about her — she’s trying to increase the awareness about her dad,” Calire explained. “He was a single dad, raised all those kids that were left behind, and she feels in a heroic way about him as well.”

She shared that Molla was thrilled to learn about the diocese’s mobile outreach program geared toward fathers called the Buffalo Peacemakers and Buffalo Fathers Pietro Molla Outreach.

Calire explained that many of their referrals come from local Catholic hospitals, the children’s hospital, family court, and domestic violence center as well as immigrants and refugees who cross the border from Canada.

Gianna Emanuela Molla prays in front of the tomb of Venerable Nelson Baker, who is in the canonization process, at the Our Lady of Victory National Shrine and Basilica. Credit: Cheryl Calire
Gianna Emanuela Molla prays in front of the tomb of Venerable Nelson Baker, who is in the canonization process, at the Our Lady of Victory National Shrine and Basilica. Credit: Cheryl Calire

During her time working with the pregnancy centers, Calire realized there was a need for more resources in order to help mothers in need to choose life. This inspired her and her husband to convert an old rectory into a hospitality home for expectant mothers who don’t have support or don’t have anywhere to live. They provide housing, connect them to resources, help mothers finish their education, and more.

The Mother Teresa Home opened in 2016 and since then has served more than 100 mothers and 104 babies. Calire and her husband live and serve there. 

On Friday, July 12, Molla took part in a day full of activities for the whole family at the Our Lady of Victory National Shrine and Basilica, which included a respect life art contest, Mass, card-making for the elderly and infirm, and the president of the Society of St. Gianna Molla, Robert White, brought first-class relics and spoke about the beloved saint.

Finally, on Sunday, July 14, a special Mass was celebrated at the St. Joseph Cathedral in honor of Molla’s visit to the diocese.

At the culmination of her visit to the Diocese of Buffalo, Gianna Emanuela Molla stands with the clergy who celebrated Mass at the St. Joseph Cathedral on July 14, 2024. Credit: Cheryl Calire
At the culmination of her visit to the Diocese of Buffalo, Gianna Emanuela Molla stands with the clergy who celebrated Mass at the St. Joseph Cathedral on July 14, 2024. Credit: Cheryl Calire

When asked what it’s like to be in the presence of a daughter of a saint, Calire said it’s “overwhelming.”

“One of the reasons I wanted to bring her to Buffalo — it’s no secret, there’s a lot of challenges going on right now in our diocese … I’m aware of them, but I try not to focus on them. I try to focus on the ministry and Christ,” she shared. “So with that in mind, I just kept on saying if I can bring her here this could be an opportunity for others to feel the way I did in 2011. When I first met her, it was life-changing for me.”

“When you hear her speak about her parents and refer to them as ‘my mother’ and ‘my father’ when she speaks of them, as you know, the things that her dad shared with her about her mom, it makes it like you’re sitting at somebody’s dining room table and you’re talking about family.” 

Representatives from the Knights of Columbus in Buffalo who support the works of the Office of Life Ministries at the St. Gianna and Pietro Molla Family Garden dedication and blessing on July 11, 2024. Credit: Cheryl Calire
Representatives from the Knights of Columbus in Buffalo who support the works of the Office of Life Ministries at the St. Gianna and Pietro Molla Family Garden dedication and blessing on July 11, 2024. Credit: Cheryl Calire

One moment that particularly stood out to Calire was at the dedication of the family garden when a Knight of Columbus fainted due to the heat. 

“What does Dr. Gianna Emanuela do? She runs right over, kneels by his side until the paramedics get there in the mud,” she recalled. “Her loving, caring nature and her being a geriatric doctor it just kicked in like, ‘I’m just a regular person in the crowd here who’s a doctor and I’m taking over. Move out of the way until the paramedics get here.’ It was really something to witness that.” 

Calire called Molla’s time in Buffalo “very, very, very moving.”

Elon Musk moves companies from California, blasts law that hides gender transition from parents

Elon Musk attends a session during the Cannes Lions International Festival Of Creativity 2024 on June 19, 2024 in Cannes, France. / Credit: Marc Piasecki/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 18, 2024 / 17:37 pm (CNA).

Elon Musk, the CEO of X and SpaceX and one of the richest men in the world, announced that he will move both multibillion-dollar companies out of California because he opposes a new law that hides information from parents about their child’s gender identity.

The law, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday, prohibits school districts from adopting policies that require parental notification if a child begins to identify as a gender that is different from his or her biological sex. Under this law, schools could not prevent teachers from hiding information about a child’s social gender transition from his or her parents.

Musk, who has a son who identifies as a woman, called the legislation “the final straw” in a post on X Tuesday afternoon. The businesses will move a few states over to Texas. 

“Because of this law and the many others that preceded it, attacking both families and companies, SpaceX will now move its HQ from Hawthorne, California, to Starbase, Texas,” Musk said.

Less than 20 minutes later, Musk made another post, which announced that the headquarters of X “will move to Austin.”

Musk already moved the headquarters of Tesla, another company for which he is the CEO, to Texas in 2021.

SpaceX employs about 13,000 people and X employs about 1,000 people — although not all of those employees are based in California.

“I did make it clear to Gov. Newsom about a year ago that laws of this nature would force families and companies to leave California to protect their children,” Musk added in a reply to his first post.

According to state-to-state migration numbers, Americans are disproportionately choosing other states over California. 

California has suffered a net interstate migration loss every year for more than two decades, which means that the number of people moving out of California to live in another state is higher than the number of people moving to California from other states.

From 2001 through 2023, California lost more than 3.7 million more people to state-to-state migration than it gained, according to numbers tallied by the Public Policy Institute of California. There was not a single year in that time frame in which California gained more people from interstate migration than it lost. California also suffered a net population decline in 2020, 2021, and 2022.

William Swaim, the president of the conservative California Policy Center, told CNA that it’s “not just big players like Musk” leaving the state but also “entrepreneurs, retirees, and parents of school-age kids.”

“Policies like this one have pushed hundreds of businesses to leave the states for greener — or redder — pastures; places like Texas, Florida, Tennessee, seem to be the big winners,” Swaim said.

According to Swaim, a number of problems contribute to the state’s population decline.

“Under Gavin Newsom, the state has logged a number of firsts and worsts: the nation’s worst unemployment rate, its highest business and marginal-income tax rates, and massive, growing, and fatal government pension liabilities,” he said. “Suffering the nation’s highest poverty and homeless rates, its highest costs of living, housing, electricity, insurance, and gasoline, it’s also reeling from the nation’s worst-ever state budget deficit.”

Democratic lawmakers in California introduced the legislation on transgender policies after the state government feuded with local school boards that instituted parental notification policies for when children identify as transgender or request to be called by pronouns inconsistent with their biological sex. In August of last year, Attorney General Rob Bonta sued Chino Valley Unified School District over its parental notification policy. 

A group of parents have already filed a lawsuit against state government officials to block the state from enforcing its ban on parental notification policies.

Last year, Newsom signed several other bills that faced criticism from parental rights advocates. This includes a law that penalizes schools that refuse to teach LGBT content and another that forces courts to consider “gender affirmation” in child custody decisions.

Catholics from across country meet in Indiana for National Eucharistic Congress

Big smiles from a group from the Diocese of Sacramento, California, as they wait in the long line to complete their registration for the congress in the Indiana Convention Center on July 15, 2024. / Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/EWTN

Indianapolis, Ind., Jul 18, 2024 / 16:29 pm (CNA).

Tens of thousands of Catholics from across the U.S. have come together to praise the Lord in Eucharistic adoration this week in an NFL stadium at the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis.

Bishop Andrew Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, who led U.S. bishops’ initiative of Eucharistic Revival, called the congress “a moment of unity” for the Church in the United States.

As the bishop held up the Blessed Sacrament in a massive 4-foot monstrance in center field of Lucas Oil Stadium, the crowd prayed together “Jesus, I trust in you.”

For many, the journey to Indianapolis was a pilgrimage of profound spiritual significance. Parishes, religious orders, families, clergy, and laypeople embarked on their travels by plane, car, and on foot driven by a deep desire to deepen their relationship with the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

Diane Hanley drove nearly 600 miles with three other women from Little Rock, Arkansas, for a “girls’ trip” to the July 17–21 congress.

“It was blessed the whole way,” Hanley told CNA.

“We took like three hours to say one rosary in the car because of all the intentions and all the reflections and everything,” she added. “So the journey is part of the joy.”

One hundred fifty people traveled from the Diocese of Sacramento, California — among them Josie, who said that she came to the congress to receive Christ and to be able to better evangelize.

“I am an evangelizer in my community, and I feel like I need more learning experience to be able to better evangelize people because Christ is love and I just love him,” she said.

Dom Mann and his wife Cassidy, Ohioans in their early 20s, are spending their first anniversary at the Congress. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Dom Mann and his wife Cassidy, Ohioans in their early 20s, are spending their first anniversary at the Congress. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

Newlyweds Dominic and Cassidy Mann, 23 and 21, respectively, from Cleveland are celebrating their first wedding anniversary at the congress. They told CNA that they came to the National Eucharistic Congress seeking to “experience Jesus at a whole other level.”

“Our first time being Eucharistic ministers was our wedding. So to be able to have that and to spend our one-year at the congress is just very beautiful and impactful,” Dominic said.

“The Eucharist has meant a lot in our marriage,” Cassidy added. As young Catholics, growing in faith together throughout dating, engagement, and marriage has been “transformative in our relationship,” she said.

The Manns were not the only couple to mark a relationship milestone at the congress. 

Charlie Chengary, 21, and Katherine Blawas, 22, a young couple from Chicago and Ohio, respectively, got engaged in Indianapolis on the eve of the congress. The two began dating a little over a year ago after meeting on Catholic Match. 

“I have never been in a place with so many Catholics. This is like a little foretaste of heaven,” Blawas said.

Jaella Mac Au, one of the Perpetual Pilgrims, in front of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, the endpoint of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimages. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Jaella Mac Au, one of the Perpetual Pilgrims, in front of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, the endpoint of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimages. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

Jaella Mac Au, 20, traveled 2,200 miles across 12 states over two months as a pilgrim in one of four Eucharistic pilgrimage groups that traversed the United States to arrive at the congress. 

Her pilgrimage group began its journey by walking over San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge in a Eucharistic procession. 

She told CNA that tears came to her eyes when she finally arrived in Indianapolis this week.

“It was wonderful and beautiful,” Mac Au said. “We were the first route to get here … and I was like, ‘I don’t believe we’re actually here.’”

She added that her experience as a pilgrim helped her understand that Jesus “doesn’t just sit in a church” but desires to be brought out into the world for all to see.

“The Lord is present in his body, blood, soul, and divinity,” she said. “He desires to go out and proclaim the good news that he sees us and that he loves us.”

Sister Faustina and Sister Anastasia Marie, Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, came with a delegation of 22 sisters to the Congress. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Sister Faustina and Sister Anastasia Marie, Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, came with a delegation of 22 sisters to the Congress. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

Sister Faustina and Sister Anastasia Marie, Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, came with a delegation of 22 sisters to the congress.

“The Eucharist is the center of our spirituality. All that we do comes from a relationship with our Lord, and we spend much of our day in prayer, and then we go out to serve in the apostolate,” Sister Faustina said. 

“We encounter Our Lord in the Eucharist and also go out to meet him with his people. And all of that comes from encountering him in the Eucharist.”

Sister Anastasia Marie added that she is praying for people to “have a deeper encounter with God’s mercy through the Eucharist” during the congress. 

Brian and Angela Barcelos from Raynham, Massachusetts, at the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis on July 17, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/EWTN
Brian and Angela Barcelos from Raynham, Massachusetts, at the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis on July 17, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/EWTN

Large crowds created long lines on the first day of the National Eucharistic Congress. Brian and Angela Barcelos from Raynham, Massachusetts, waited more than 1.5 hours to pick up their name badges for the congress but did not seem too upset about it. “We are here for the Eucharist!” Brian said. 

More than 54,000 people had bought tickets for the congress as of July 17, according to the organizers. 

All 50 states and 17 countries are represented among the congress participants, which include more than 1,000 priests and 200 bishops and cardinals.

“I feel like I’ve already gotten so much out of this already just by being in line,” Blawas said.

Bishop John Doerfler of Marquette, Michigan, called the National Eucharistic Congress July 17-21, 2024, “a privileged opportunity for us to deepen the bonds of our unity of faith in the Lord Jesus.” Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Bishop John Doerfler of Marquette, Michigan, called the National Eucharistic Congress July 17-21, 2024, “a privileged opportunity for us to deepen the bonds of our unity of faith in the Lord Jesus.” Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/CNA

Bishop John Doerfler of Marquette, Michigan, was joined by 50 people from his diocese who made the trip from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to the congress.

The bishop hosted a diocesan Eucharistic congress as part of the National Eucharistic Revival leading up to the national congress. He said that he is looking forward to meeting Catholics from across the country over the next five days.

“It’s a privileged opportunity for us to deepen the bonds of our unity of faith in the Lord Jesus and show him our great gratitude for the precious gift he gives to us of himself in the holy Eucharist,” Doerfler said.

Members of the National Association of African Catholics in the United States pose for a group photo on July 17, 2024, at the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis. The group performed praise and worship songs from East and West Africa during the event. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/EWTN
Members of the National Association of African Catholics in the United States pose for a group photo on July 17, 2024, at the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis. The group performed praise and worship songs from East and West Africa during the event. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/EWTN

The National Association of African Catholics in the United States registered more than 90 people for the congress.

The group performed praise and worship songs from East and West Africa, bringing their cultural heritage from Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, and Ivory Coast to the Exhibition Hall stage at the congress.

“Celebrating the Eucharist is at the center of everything we do,” said Sally Stovall, the president of the association. “That’s what the African community is trying to portray in terms of bringing our cultural heritage for everybody to see how we celebrate in our countries.”

Tim Glemkowski, CEO of the National Eucharistic Congress. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Tim Glemkowski, CEO of the National Eucharistic Congress. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

Tim Glemkowski, father of four and CEO of the National Eucharistic Congress, told CNA that he hopes each and every attendee at the congress will encounter Jesus personally and be sent on mission to share Christ’s love with the world.

“About two and a half years of planning have gone into this moment, and it’s incredible to see it come to fruition even greater than we expected in so many ways,” Glemkowski said. 

“God is with his Church right now. This all happened — the incredible pilgrimage with 250,000 people joining and 50,000 people here — it is all possible because God is doing something in his Church right now. And so we need to be attentive to that and open to what he’s trying to do today.”