CUA president pens columns about HHS mandate

CUA President John Garvey     (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

John Garvey, president of The Catholic University of America in Washington, has been writing a fair amount on the contraceptive mandate in the new health care reform law.

He wrote an op-ed piece in the May 25 edition of The Washington Post and a commentary in the June 8 edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Both columns outlined why Catholic University recently joined 42 Catholic dioceses, schools, hospitals, social service agencies and other institutions in filing suit in federal court to stop three government agencies from implementing a mandate that would require them cover contraceptives and sterilization in their health plans.

Catholic organizations have objected to the contraceptive mandate since it was announced last Aug. 1 by Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Unless they meet the four criteria of a narrow religious exemption or have a grandfathered health plan, employers will be required to pay for sterilizations and contraceptives as part of their health coverage beginning as soon as Aug. 1, 2012. Religiously affiliated institutions will be given an additional year — by August 2013 — to comply with the mandate.

Garvey, writing for the Chronicle, noted that if the federal government had provided a “genuine accommodation” to Catholic organizations with the health care law, it could have attained its goals “while respecting fully the constitutionally protected rights of our universities to remain true to our founding missions: the development of intellect and the inculcation of virtue.”

“Barring that, we feel compelled to seek relief from the courts,” he wrote.

In the Post, Garvey said Catholic institutions that filed suit against the HHS mandate “object that the rules force them to support activities — sterilization and abortion, in addition to contraception — that they view as immoral. It’s like compelling Jehovah’s Witnesses to salute the flag, or Quakers to fight or Jews to eat pork.”

UPDATE: Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik has written a similar commentary in USA Today that appeared yesterday. He also co-wrote a June 8 column in the Pittsburgh Catholic, the diocesan newspaper, discussing the reason for the lawsuits.

‘For Greater Glory’ is a ‘strong film with a timely message’ about religious liberty, says archbishop

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez at premiere of “For Greater Glory.” (CNS photo/Reuters)

It’s not every day a Catholic archbishop welcomes a host of Hollywood celebrities at a movie premiere, but that was the scene on the red carpet May 31, when Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez greeted the stars of the new movie “For Greater Glory,” among them Andy Garcia, Eva Longoria and Eduardo Verastegui. The film, opening yesterday in theaters, is about the 1920s Cristero Rebellion in Mexico.

“The anti-Catholic persecutions in Mexico in the 1920s and 1930s are long forgotten, it seems. The reality is hard to believe,” the archbishop wrote in his May 29 column for The Tidings, newspaper of the Los Angeles Archdiocese. “Just a generation ago, not far from our borders, thousands of men, women and even children, were imprisoned, exiled, tortured and murdered. All for the ‘crime’ of believing in Jesus Christ and wanting to live by their faith in him.

“So I welcome the new film, ‘For Greater Glory.’ It tells the dramatic story of this unknown war against religion and our church’s heroic resistance. It’s a strong film with a timely message. It reminds us that our religious liberties are won by blood and we can never take them for granted.”

Catholic News Service reviewer John Mulderig echoed that sentiment in his review: The Mexican government’s tyrannical interference with religious liberty, while obviously far more extreme than anything taking place north of the border today, nonetheless carries a sobering resonance with current events.

“If the film can be taken as a cautionary tale about where excessively zealous, overweening secularism can lead a nation, the warning is a stark one.”

The Catholic Church has canonized 25 martyrs of the rebellion and beatified even more. The most famous of the martyrs is St. Toribio Romo Gonzalez, a popular patron of Mexican migrants. On March 25,  the second full day of his two-day visit to Mexico before he traveled to Cuba, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in Silao, in the central state of Guanajuato, the country’s Catholic heartland and a stronghold of the 1920s Cristero Rebellion.

On Blessed Kateri’s feast day in Canada, a video reflection on her life

Here in the United States we don’t celebrate the feast of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha until July 14. But in Canada her feast day is today, the date of her death in 1680.

To celebrate the feast, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops commissioned Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, CEO of Salt + Light Television in Canada, to produce this video reflection on the life of Blessed Kateri, who will be made a saint Oct. 21:

The new evangelization, explained

Archbishop Fisichella (CNS/Paul Haring)

If you’ve been following the pontificate of Benedict XVI, chances are you’ve heard of the “new evangelization.” You may even have heard that there’s a new Vatican office dedicated to it. But have you ever heard the president of the new office explain it?

In this feature-length interview which premiered on Easter, Salt + Light Television‘s Basilian Father Thomas Rosica sat down for an interview with the president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, Archbishop Rino Fisichella. What follows is an engaging discussion on its meaning and what Archbishop Fisichella’s office is trying to accomplish. While some pastors may see it as just another program to be implemented by an overworked presbyterate, the archbishop calls the new evangelization a new way of approaching an old job — “a new work, a new language, a new enthusiasm for announcing the Gospel.”

Last-minute Lenten reflections

If you’re looking for some quick ways to reflect on the meaning of Lent as you finish up Holy Week, here something you may want to check out. Salt + Light TV in Toronto had Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa do a series of quick Lenten reflections. They’re all two minutes or less in length, so they’re easy to digest. This one, for instance, is on how the prophets call us to reconciliation and repentance.

Others that you can sample are on the meaning of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, why we focus on baptism during Lent, and how the life of King David reflects humanity’s need for redemption.

U.S. bishop featured by Canadian Catholic TV network

Our friends at Salt + Light TV in Toronto recently spoke with Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City for its series of one-on-one interviews called “Witness.”  Bishop Wester is the new chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Communications and a former chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Migration.

As the only Catholic bishop in Utah, he also is at the forefront of Catholicism’s relationship with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So topics he discusses here include the differences between his native San Francisco and his current home city and how the Catholic Church and the Mormon community both emphasize family values and care for the poor. He also speaks eloquently on immigration reform and on contemporary challenges for the church in modern communications.

New video highlights work of priests, in their own words

Our friends at Salt + Light Television, Canada’s premier Catholic media ministry, sent along this video they produced for Toronto’s annual “Ordinandi Dinner” for seminarians who will be ordained this year. (Here’s a story posted today by another longtime CNS friend, The Catholic Register in Toronto, on this week’s dinner.)

In the fast-paced video, about a dozen priests (they’ll come at you so quickly you’ll lose count) give their testimonies to what their priesthood means to them. It’s a celebration of ordained life. Take a look:

Canada welcomes new cardinal home with joyous celebration

Canada welcomed home its newest cardinal yesterday with a Mass at St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto. The celebration for Cardinal Thomas C. Collins, the 16th Canadian to be elevated to the College of Cardinals, was covered live by our colleagues at Salt + Light Television, Canada’s premier Catholic media ministry. Cardinal Collins was among the 22 prelates elevated to cardinal Feb. 18 by Pope Benedict XVI. You can watch Canada’s joyous celebration here:

You also can see a special report by Salt + Light on the making of a cardinal that focuses on Cardinal Collins. Our Rome bureau also had the pleasure of interviewing the new cardinal last month in Rome about the significance of the red that a cardinal wears.

A big day for lovers of Latin

Few know that today is the 50th anniversary of the promulgation of Pope John XXIII’s apostolic constitution “Veterum Sapientia” on the promotion of the study of Latin. Watch the video below posted today by our Rome bureau on how one group of American students there is trying to keep the language alive.

When we asked this morning on Twitter if anyone knew of today’s anniversary, The Criterion, archdiocesan newspaper of Indianapolis, promptly tweeted back that they were aware of it because it was on their front page 50 years ago. Scroll down and take a look at a portion of Page 1 of their March 2, 1962, edition (.pdf) that trumpeted the story.

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Screenshot of the lead story on The Criterion's front page 50 years ago.

New cardinals not all from U.S. (thank God!)

Confession time: We Americans often are accused — and rightly so — of looking primarily at the U.S. angle to a worldwide story and forgetting to see the broader picture. And so it is with this weekend’s creation of 22 new cardinals for the worldwide church. We’re all focused here on the two Americans — Cardinals-designate Timothy M. Dolan and Edwin F. O’Brien — getting red hats from Pope Benedict XVI this Saturday. How many of us can name one of the remaining 20?

Cardinal-designate Collins (CNS/Paul Haring)

Canada, though, is certainly proud of its new entry into the College of Cardinals, Cardinal-designate Thomas C. Collins of Toronto, who will become the 16th Canadian to wear red.

Our colleagues in the Canadian Catholic press are celebrating his elevation with special sections and interviews. Here, for instance, is the launchpad for coverage of the cardinal-designate by The Catholic Register in Toronto. Included is the ability to browse the paper’s 44-page special section on the cardinal.

Our friends at Salt + Light, Canada’s premier Catholic media ministry,  also are celebrating the event with a special series of telecasts from Rome called “The Making of a Cardinal.” The first and second parts are embedded below,  and you can go to Salt + Light’s YouTube channel for the rest as they’re produced.

(Our Rome bureau also interviewed Cardinal-designate Collins on the significance of the red that a cardinal wears; you can watch that here.)

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