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UPDATE: Local 22-year-old man in custody in July Fourth parade shooting in Illinois

First responders take away victims from the scene of a mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade on July 4, 2022 in Highland Park, Illinois. At least six people were killed and 19 injured, according to published reports. / Jim Vondruska/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 4, 2022 / 17:55 pm (CNA).

Robert E. Crimo III, a 22-year-old from Highland Park, was apprehended late Monday in connection with a mass shooting during the Chicago suburb's Fourth of July parade, authorities said.

Crimo had been identified earlier in the day as a person of interest in the shooting, which left at least six dead and 19 injured.

Authorities believe the shooter opened fire from a rooftop along the parade route with a high-powered rifle. The shooting started at 10:14 a.m. local time and set off a panicked escape from the area.

Police crime tape is seen around the area where children's bicycles and baby strollers stand near the scene of the Fourth of July parade shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, on July 4, 2022. Youngrae Kim/AFP via Getty Images
Police crime tape is seen around the area where children's bicycles and baby strollers stand near the scene of the Fourth of July parade shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, on July 4, 2022. Youngrae Kim/AFP via Getty Images

Photos from the scene showed toppled lawn chairs and children’s bicycles abandoned on the sidewalk.

Highland Park is an affluent suburb about 20 miles north of Chicago along Lake Michigan.

In a statement, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago said he was praying for the victims and first responders. He also spoke out strongly against the scourge of gun violence.

“The parade reportedly had a heavy presence of police and fire vehicles, yet this shooter was able to wound at least two dozen people before he stopped, or was stopped, and fled. Victims ranged in age from 8 to 85. Weapons designed to rapidly destroy human bodies have no place in civil society,” Cupich said.

“It is barely July, and this year the United States is already experiencing more than one mass shooting a day. Chicago Police reported at least 55 shot and 7 killed since Friday, and the holiday weekend is not yet over. Gun violence is now the leading cause of death for U.S. children,” the statement continued.

“Whatever one makes of the right to bear arms, there is plenty of room for prudential judgment in interpreting the Second Amendment so as to enact serious, broadly popular gun-safety measures. The Senate finally passed a significant, yet modest, gun-safety bill last month. But clearly more must be done,” Cupich said.

“The right to bear arms does not eclipse the right to life, or the right of all Americans to go about their lives free of the fear that they might be shredded by bullets at any moment. Gun violence is a life issue. We must continue to pray that all our officials, elected and unelected alike, will redouble their commitment to keeping safe the people they have sworn to serve.”

Nigerian Christian villagers claim military helicopter fired on them, not bandits

Photo illustration of Nigerian military uniform. / Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 4, 2022 / 11:41 am (CNA).

Residents of predominantly Christian villages in north-central Nigeria that came under attack from Fulani bandits on motorcycles June 5 maintain that a government helicopter fired on the villages’ defenders, but authorities have denied the charge, saying the crew targeted the assailants.

The fighting, which lasted for several hours, took place in a group of villages about 30 miles south of Kaduna City, the capital of Kaduna. The raid left 32 villagers dead and 29 others, chiefly women, kidnapped, according to media reports and security authorities.

In its aftermath, authorities have sought to reassure residents that the government is on their side in the bloody conflict with Fulani bandits.

“An air force helicopter (under operation whirl punch) dispatched to the area, intercepted the bandits at the last location (Ungwan Maikori) and engaged them as they retreated, before the arrival of ground troops to the general area,” Samuel Aruwan, the state commissioner for internal security, said in a June 7 statement posted on Facebook.

But eyewitnesses and others who spoke to CNA say perhaps hundreds of villagers saw the helicopter fired on armed locals who were trying to ward off more than 200 invaders.

“The whole village saw the helicopter firing at the residents,” said Jonathan Asake, the head of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) who coordinated a meeting of villagers two days after the attack. 

In addition, Rev. Denis Sani, head of the local Evangelical Church Winning All as well as an elder advisor to volunteer neighborhood watchmen, told the conflict reporter Masara Kim that no ground troops arrived to rescue residents in Makori, one of the villages that came under attack.

Sani told CNA that the helicopter fired with a submachine gun toward him and his fellow civilian guards, forcing him and his assistant, Jonah Greece, to withdraw toward the forest to gain cover. 

“We pulled back to avoid getting killed, allowing the terrorists to enter the village,” Greece told CNA.

Defending their homes

“The attack started as we were ending our church services on Sunday around noon,” said Greece, a community medical practitioner in Maikori. 

Since the village had suffered a massacre by terrorists in March 2019 and an attack earlier this year, the able-bodied men formed a defensive perimeter around the approaches to Maikori.

“There were no military or police in the village, but about 40 to 50 men gathered up their hunting rifles,” Greece explained.

Sani called for the men of the village of Maikori to position themselves behind trees and tall grass. The attackers were mounted on 70 motorbikes, three fighters on each bike.

Greece said the attackers first swarmed through the neighboring village of Dogon Noma, burning houses and firing at villagers fleeing into the forest. Then they mounted their bikes and headed into Maikori where Sani and the defenders ambushed them with their homemade hunting rifles and pump shotguns, Greece said.

At approximately 1 p.m. the villagers noticed a helicopter variously described as white or “silver” hovering over Maikori and firing vertically down at the defenders, Greece said.

Claims denied

Nigerian media have reported that the claim that the helicopter fired on village defenders has been debunked. Villagers, however, are standing by their account.

To clear the air on disputed versions of the incident seven heads of state police agencies met with village leaders on June 20 in Kufana. 

“Aruwan said while the Government had not totally succeeded in its primary assignment, it was however doing its best to ensure that they had come also to clarify some lingering ‘misrepresentations’ being championed by some enemies of progress and of the government,” Stingo Usman, a Christian community leader in Maraban Kajuru who attended the meeting, told CNA.

The service chiefs at the meeting asserted that “it was impossible that the army helicopter had fired on the residents,” Usman said. None of the service chiefs who spoke were present during the attack, he added.

According to Stingo Usman, Ibrahim Usman, the village head of Dogon Noma, contradicted Aruwan’s account. The village head told the authorities at the meeting that “a helicopter arrived and the locals thought relief had come to them until they realized that they were being attacked by both the helicopter and the bandits,” Stingo Usman related to CNA in a text message.

“The youth then had to run for their lives and from that point, the armed Fulani bandits got access to the village and burned the whole village down, and also killed two people there,” Stingo Usman wrote, recounting Ibrahim Usman’s statements at the meeting.

The representative of Kajuru County in the Nigerian House of Representatives, Yakubu Umar Barde, has called for an investigation of possible complicity between the Nigerian military and the terrorists.  

In addition, calls for an internationally led forensic investigation of complicity between Muslim terrorists and rogue military units have come from Baroness Caroline Cox, a member of the United Kingdom’s House of Lords, and Gregory Stanton, a retired U.S. Foreign Service officer and the founder of Genocide Watch.

Security officials drew criticism for failing to stop the blasphemy murder of college student Deborah Emmanuel on the campus of Shehu Shegari teachers’ college in Sokoto on May 12.

There have been additional complaints lodged against the lax response by the military and police to other attacks blamed on radicalized Fulani Islamists, including a massacre Jan. 11 in Te’Egbe, in Plateau State, and on March 20 in Kagoro in southern Kaduna.

The inactivity and in some cases complicity of the military in terrorist attacks in the past has been noted by the human rights watchdog, Amnesty International.

"Amnesty International found evidence showing that security forces received information about impending attacks and in some cases, came in contact with attackers but did nothing to stop or prevent the attacks,” the organization said in a 2018 report

“Many attacks lasted for hours, in some cases days, even in communities where security forces were not far away,” the report said.

This leadership expert is guiding faithful Catholics from the pew to the boardroom

Cristofer Pereyra is the CEO of Tepeyac Leadership, Inc. in Phoenix, Arizona. / Courtesy of TLI

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 3, 2022 / 11:18 am (CNA).

Many people assume “Catholic leadership” stops at the pulpit, the principal’s office, or the doors to the parish center. Cristofer Pereyra wants to broaden that mindset.

A former television reporter with Univision, Pereyra led the Hispanic Mission Office for the Diocese of Phoenix under Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted. But an experience in a civic leadership training program opened his eyes to another mission: Teaching faithful lay Catholics how to be effective leaders in society.

Pereyra discovered that these types of programs are shaping leaders in small towns and large cities across the U.S. While they provide practical guidance and excellent networking opportunities, they also tend to advance a secular agenda that’s at odds with the Catholic faith, he found.

That revelation motivated him to launch the Tepeyac Leadership Initiative, which offers a five-month-long training program designed specifically for lay Catholics. As the initiative explains on its website, the goal is to educate participants “in the core teachings of the Church and their concrete application to the career world.” 

Now Pereyra has a book out that distills the program’s key principles: Catholic Leadership for Civil Society: A Practical Guide on Authentic Lay Leadership,” co-written with Erin Monnin. Archbishop José Gómez of Los Angeles wrote the introduction.

CNA spoke with Pereyra recently about the book and his belief that all Catholics are called to be leaders. Here are some highlights of the discussion:

Why did you start the Tepeyac Leadership program and write the book?

What we're trying to do, what we've been trying to do for the past six years, is to show lay Catholics what it means to be a leader out in civil society. Moreover, we have been extending them an invitation to realize that this is just no longer an option. Our true vocation is to seek to become influential leaders in society so that we can influence others for Christ to bring us closer to Christ. This is particularly for professionals, people who have been blessed by God with a college education and a professional career. The leadership initiative is the flagship program for my organization, Tepeyac Leadership. In our five-month, 18-week program we are trying to change the minds of lay Catholics, and we're forming them. Then, we're sending them out with a very concrete mindset and a very concrete mission, and that is to insert themselves into the secular institutions of society.

What led you to want to make a difference in Catholic leadership?

I was working for Bishop Olmsted as the director of the Hispanic Mission Office. A representative of the diocese sent me to a local secular civic leadership development program in Phoenix, Arizona. Going through that experience opened my eyes to the world and the reality of civic leadership development in the United States. It is in every major city in the United States, as I discovered. They have been placing and catapulting people into local leadership positions in their community. So their aims and goals are for service, philanthropy, even politics. Most of our public elected officials in the United States get their feet wet through this program. I had mixed feelings going through the program because in most of the sessions and discussions, I tended to be the lone conservative or religious voice in the room. Most of these programs around the United States form leaders with values that directly counter Catholic teaching.  

I spoke to the bishop, and said, “I think this is not a bad idea. It's a noble concept. Who could be against forming leaders? It is just not being oriented right, the way they're doing it. I think we can do it better.” We borrowed a template from the secular world, and that's how Tepeyac Leadership got started. We named this project simply because we were inspired by the story of St. Juan Diego (who had an encounter with the Blessed Virgin Mary on a hill by that name.) We wanted to ask Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego to intercede for the future of the program, which they've done, tremendously. 

What is the objective, specifically?

For us, the preeminent field for leadership, for Catholic leaders and civil society, is board service (on the board of a business or other organization.) Our question is, “Where are the Catholics when big decisions are being made?” If there were any Catholics at all, they either lack the information or the courage to speak up for truth. So our objective as an organization is ultimately to form and prepare to send out and encourage committed Catholics to seek out seats at those tables where decisions are being made. Those are decisions that impact the culture. We simply want to help bring about the decisions, the right decisions, that will bring about the common good, guided by our Catholic faith. To do that, we need to be well-formed and have a seat at the table. 

Is the program restricted to top-level executives?

We have broadened the definition of “board service.” We definitely are referring to actual boards — governance boards, advisory boards, fundraising boards, nonprofits, for-profits, pay-based, non-pay based, all of it. We definitely want more Catholics on those boards. But we're expanding the definition. We are also talking about your local homeowner's association, your teacher association, boards for your local public school district, local municipality. Ultimately, we just need more people, well-formed and committed Catholics, in all those areas where decisions are being made. 

What does Jesus say about leadership?

I don't know that the word “leadership” itself is in the (Gospels). Jesus points us toward the type of leadership that we must become in many instances, like when he asks us to be perfect, like his Father is perfect. What is Jesus truly saying? We are human beings; we're not going to be perfect. What he's inviting us to do is to try to become the best versions of ourselves every single day. Strive to grow in virtue, all of the virtues that he modeled for us. If every day we enter into a lifelong commitment to shape and grow and build our character by growing in virtue, then we are striving to be perfect, like God the Father is perfect.

The Tepeyac Leadership Initiative (TLI) program, which costs $2,000 per person, consists of weekly, virtual, online sessions from February through June. Participants also attend an all-day retreat, either virtually or in person. The program has three tracks, grouped by time zone. For more information, visit TLI’s Frequently Asked Questions page.

PHOTOS: Heated abortion confrontation in NYC

Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. / Jeffrey Bruno/CNA

New York City, N.Y., Jul 3, 2022 / 05:56 am (CNA).

Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a New York City Planned Parenthood abortion clinic Saturday, setting off a tense, hours’ long confrontation in Lower Manhattan.

With NYPD officers slowly pushing against the crowd, the marchers eventually reached the clinic. There were no immediate reports of arrests.

A counter-demonstration organized by NYC for Abortion Rights began Saturday morning outside the Basilica of Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Mulberry Street, where a monthly Witness for Life Mass is held at 8 a.m. on the first Saturday of the month. The Mass is followed by the recitation of the Rosary outside the nearby Planned Parenthood clinic, then benediction back at the basilica before a social with the Sisters of Life.

On Saturday, counter-demonstrators tried to stop participants from leaving the basilica, though marchers managed to slip out a back door, AMNY reported.

The marchers’ path to the clinic was blocked by pro-abortion protesters who pushed back against police trying to clear the way.

Kathryn Jean Lopez,  senior fellow at the National Review Institute and an editor-at-large of National Review, tweeted from the scene that it took marchers more than an hour to reach the clinic, which is just a block from the basilica. Marchers were “praying all the way,” she said.

Outside the basilica, demonstrators chanted, “Thank God for abortion,” and “F---- the Church,” among other slogans.

The demonstration comes a little over a week since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision that legalized abortion nationwide. With Roe no longer in effect, the issue of abortion is left up to the states to legislate.

Photojournalist Jeffrey Bruno captured the march and counter-demonstration for CNA.

Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA

Father Mike Schmitz's next podcast, 'Catechism in a Year,' starts Jan. 1

Father Mike Schmitz is the host of the podcast "the Bible in a Year," produced by Ascension. / Courtesy of Ascension

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 2, 2022 / 09:38 am (CNA).

Father Mike Schmitz, the voice behind the “Bible in a Year” podcast, will launch a new “Catechism in a Year” podcast on Jan. 1, 2023. 

For the 365 days of 2023, Schmitz will read through the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church, while “providing explanation, insight, and encouragement along the way,” according to a press release. The new podcast will be free on all streaming platforms, as well as on the Hallow prayer app.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a compilation of fundamental Christian truths and the essential teachings of the Church. The official U.S. version of the text is more than 900 pages long.

Ascension, the podcast’s publisher, reports that the “Bible in a Year” podcast has garnered 6.8 billion total listening minutes, as well as 300 million downloads to date.

In an announcement video, Schmitz said, “If your experience with the ‘Bible in a year’ was it took your life and started moving it and started bringing you closer and closer to the Lord, the ‘Catechism in a Year,’ I’m telling you, is going to put your prayer life and your relationship with the Lord into hyperdrive.”

In preparation for “Catechism in a Year,” Ascension will publish a new version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church so that podcast listeners can follow along.

The podcast’s webpage says, “If you have ever wanted to understand what it means to be Catholic and allow those truths to shape your life — this podcast is for you!” The page also includes a list of the goals of the podcast.

Ascension also includes some resources for keeping up to date with the “Catechism in a Year” news, including a Facebook group that listeners can join while awaiting the January launch.

Schmitz is the director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Duluth as well as the chaplain for the Newman Center at the University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD). Fr. Mike attended St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, and was ordained for the Diocese of Duluth in 2003.

Here are 11 American saints to remember on July Fourth

Photo illustration. / Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 2, 2022 / 08:38 am (CNA).

Americans celebrate their country’s independence on July 4th — as well as the people who formed the United States into the country that it is today. Those include American saints.

The U.S. bishops count a total of 11 American saints who dedicated their lives to God and those in need in this country. Here are their stories.

1. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, 1774-1821

Seton became the first American-born saint in 1975. Born in New York City, she married the love of her life at 19 and welcomed five children. She endured much suffering: Her husband William died of tuberculosis after facing financial trouble. Two years later, Seton converted to Catholicism and went on to found the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph — the first order of religious women in the U.S. She founded several schools, including the first free U.S. Catholic school. Today, she is considered the founder of the U.S. Catholic School system.

Her feast day is Jan. 4.

Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821), the first native born United States citizen to be canonized, circa 1810s. Shutterstock
Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821), the first native born United States citizen to be canonized, circa 1810s. Shutterstock

2. St. John Neumann, 1811-1860

Neumann is the first male U.S. citizen to become a saint. Originally from Bohemia, known today as the Czech Republic, he traveled to New York City to be ordained a priest. At the time, he was one of only 36 priests serving 200,000 Catholics in the New York area. He joined the Redemptorists at age 29 and became the first member to profess vows in the U.S. Neumann served as a missionary and, later, as the fourth bishop of Philadelphia. He founded the first diocesan Catholic school system in the United States, which grew from two to 100 under his care. He was canonized in 1977.

His feast day is Jan. 5.

3. St. Kateri Tekakwitha, 1656-1680

Tekakwitha, also known as the “Lily of the Mohawks,” became the first Native American saint in 2012. She was raised in Auriesville, New York, by her uncle, a Mohawk chief, after her parents died from a smallpox epidemic. After encountering Jesuit priests in her village, she converted to Catholicism at 19. Her relatives and the village attempted to punish her for her beliefs. She later ran away to Montreal, Canada, where she could practice her faith and live out her life as a consecrated virgin.

Her feast day is July 14.

Statue of St. Kateri Tekakwitha with lily. Shutterstock
Statue of St. Kateri Tekakwitha with lily. Shutterstock

4. St. Katharine Drexel, 1858-1955

A Philadelphia heiress raised by devout parents, Drexel dedicated her wealth and her life to serving Native Americans and African Americans. She founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People. Her work included starting schools in 13 states for African Americans, as well as 40 mission centers and 23 rural schools. She also established 50 missions for Native Americans. Together with her order, she founded New Orleans' Xavier University, the only historically black U.S. Catholic college. She became a saint in 2000.

Her feast day is March 3.

5. St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, 1769-1852

Duchesne served as a missionary to Native Americans. Born in France, she joined the Visitation nuns at 19 before being forced to leave during the French Revolution. Ten years later, she joined the Society of the Sacred Heart. She came to America in 1818, when she traveled to the Louisiana Territory to minister to Native Americans. She later started the first free school for girls west of the Mississippi River and the first Catholic school for Native Americans. She became a saint in 1988.

Her feast day is Nov. 18.

6. St. Isaac Jogues, 1607-1646

A Jesuit priest from France, Jogues served as a missionary to the Indians in “New France” and became one of the North American martyrs. When he and his companions traveled to Iroquois country in 1641, they were tortured and imprisoned by the Mohawks. He survived and even baptized some of the Native Americans before he escaped back to France. But he felt called to return, even though he knew he might not survive a second time. He was killed with a tomahawk in Auriesville, New York. He became a saint in 1930.

His feast day is Oct. 19.

7. St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, 1850-1917

A missionary from Italy, Cabrini founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. When she first traveled to New York City, she discovered that the house she had planned to turn into an orphanage was unavailable. When the archbishop advised her to return to Italy, she refused. Instead, she founded orphanages, hospitals, convents, and schools, many of which served Italian immigrants. She became the first U.S. citizen to be canonized a saint in 1946.

Her feast day is Nov. 13.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (public domain).
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (public domain).

8. St. Théodore Guérin, 1798-1856

A missionary from France, Guérin founded the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. At 25, she first joined the Sisters of Providence of Ruillé-sur-Loir before leading a group of sisters to Indiana in 1840. There, she opened a convent and the first girls’ boarding school in that state. Even as her health failed her, she continued to open schools throughout Indiana and Illinois while facing anti-Catholic sentiment. She became a saint in 2006.

Her feast day is Oct. 3.

9. St. Damien de Veuster of Molokai, 1840-1889

Originally from Belgium, St. Damien dedicated his life as a missionary to those with leprosy in Molokai, Hawaii. At 19, he joined the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. He then volunteered to serve those with leprosy who were quarantined on the island of Molokai. He spent his time building schools, churches, and hospitals. After contracting and dying from leprosy himself, he became a saint in 2009.

His feast day is May 10.

10. St. Marianne Cope, 1838-1918

Born in Germany, Cope joined the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis in Syracuse, New York, before serving multiple times as the novice mistress of her congregation and the superior of St. Joseph's Hospital. She later offered to go to Hawaii to serve those with leprosy. The Franciscan Sisters of Syracuse, led by Cope, joined St. Damien in Molokai. A former teacher and principal, Cope focused on education. She also brought joy and inspired the women there by gifting them with bright scarves and dresses. She became a saint in 2012.

Her feast day is Jan. 23.

11. St. Junípero Serra, 1713-1784

Serra served as the founder of the Spanish missions in California. Originally from Spain, he joined the Franciscans before becoming a missionary. He served those in Mexico before going to California, where he founded nine of the 21 Spanish missions and taught the Native Americans various trades. He became the first saint canonized on U.S. soil in 2015.

His feast day is July 1.

Lalo Garcia's painting of Saint Junípero Serra is featured in the '250 Years of Mission' exhibit. Lalo Garcia.
Lalo Garcia's painting of Saint Junípero Serra is featured in the '250 Years of Mission' exhibit. Lalo Garcia.

With Roe v Wade a dead letter, Biden rallies governors to promote abortion access

President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the White House, Sept. 9, 2021 / WhiteHouse.gov

Denver Newsroom, Jul 1, 2022 / 17:11 pm (CNA).

In the wake of a Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, President Joe Biden met with a group of Democratic governors on Friday to discuss how to increase access to abortion and to codify abortion rights at the federal level. 

Various governors backed pro-abortion amendments to state constitutions, state funding for abortion, and using federal facilities and supportive Native American lands as possible venues for providing abortions.

Biden himself called the 6-3 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision a “terrible,  extreme decision” and a “tragic reversal” of Roe v. Wade.  It would upend lives and impact “the health and safety of millions of women,” he said to the portion of a July 1 videoconference open to the press.

“I share the public outrage that this extremist court is committed to moving America backwards, with fewer rights, less autonomy and politicians invading the most personal decisions not only of women, but, you’ll find, if they expand on this decision, men as well.” said Biden. “This is not over.”

Biden now backs abortion despite being a professed Catholic. He is the second Catholic to become U.S. president.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops welcomed the Dobbs decision.

“America was founded on the truth that all men and women are created equal, with God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” conference president Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles and pro-life committee chair Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said in a joint statement. 

After the U.S. Supreme Court mandated legalized abortion nationwide in 1973, more than 60 million abortions took place. 

Nine Democratic governors joined President Biden for the videoconference: Kathy Hochul of New York, Roy Cooper of North Carolina, Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, Jared Polis of Colorado, Ned Lamont of Massachusetts, J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, Jay Inslee of Washington, Kate Brown of Oregon, and Dan McKee of Rhode Island.

Biden recounted his administration’s actions last week. The administration would seek to protect women traveling interstate to seek an abortion if state governments intervene, though no legislatures have passed such laws. The Biden administration will also intervene if FDA-approved medication is blocked at the state level. He also called for more funding for family planning, clarifying, “not for abortion but family planning.”

The president said he believes states which restrict abortion are preparing “unlawful actions.”

Though Biden backs what he says is a “codification” of the Roe v. Wade decision by Congress, he noted there are not enough votes to change the filibuster rules. Abortion backers need “two more votes” in the Senate, he said, claiming that Republicans will “try to ban abortions nationwide” if they take control of Congress in November.

Hochul told the conference that she is seeing “a lot of fear and anxiety” from women who support abortion.

“This is frightening time for women all across our nation, a lot of fear and anxiety out there,” she said. In her view, abortion access is “a matter of life and death” for women, saying that illegal abortions are “unsafe.”

The New York governor said she has expanded an extraordinary session of the state legislature from its focus on gun legislation. It will now add what Hochul characterized as “further protections for women in our state,” including an “equality agenda” that bars discrimination “on pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes.”

She also aims to “enshrine abortion rights in our constitution” and to establish New York as a “safe harbor” for abortion seekers.

Hochul called on Biden to use federal facilities to help provide abortions in states “hostile to abortion rights.” She suggested using veterans hospitals, military facilities, and other places under control of the federal government. 

It is unclear whether such federal assistance would be legal. The Hyde Amendment bars most federal funding for abortion. 

Hochul also said the federal government should try to protect abortion seekers and doctors from “vigilante justice” and “private rights of action.” 

A Texas law allowed private lawsuits against those who perform or help procure illegal abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detectible. Lawmakers added this ability in part because local pro-abortion authorities might decline to enforce the law. The Texas law explicitly bars lawsuits against a pregnant woman seeking an abortion.  

Cooper, chair of the Democratic Governors Association, characterized governors as the “last line of defense” for legal abortion. He said Planned Parenthood officials in North Carolina have told him they expect about 10,000 women seeking abortions from out of state in the next year.

“We are not backing down. We are ready to do what is needed to protect women’s health,” he said, using a common euphemism for abortion.

Lujan Grisham of New Mexico cited the state legislature’s recent repeal of a law criminalizing abortion. The state has also increased funding for family planning and “abortion care services.” Her executive order will reject any cooperation with states investigating violations of their abortion laws, including investigations or extraditions. 

She suggested that Native American lands could be venues for abortion clinics. 

“Our Indian Health Service clinics could be another effective vehicle” for providing abortions, she said, referring to a service under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The governor said that she has received outreach from “sovereign nations” which she thinks would be “very supportive and interested.”

President Biden said his administration is “looking at all alternatives, including the sovereign nation question.”

He also suggested Americans will back legal abortion, saying, “I think the American people are with us.”

Surveys about abortion give different answers depending on what is asked. Earlier this year, amid controversy over the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision draft leak, self-described pro-life survey respondents dipped to about 40%, according to Gallup. Other surveys indicate that while respondents say they support Roe v. Wade, they also support abortion restrictions which that precedent had barred, and even support returning questions about legal abortion to the state level. 

“I think people are going to be shocked when the first state that tries to arrest a woman for crossing a state line to get health services,” Biden said Friday, adding that such a move would show that ending Roe “affects all your basic rights.”

He told the governors that the Dobbs decision means “if you’ve got an 11-year-old child who’s a victim of incest who finds herself pregnant, she can’t get a choice. Her health can’t be protected if you’re raped and there’s no exceptions,” he said. He argued many people haven’t focused on these details beyond “the fundamental right of a women to be able to choose.”

The most recent proposal promising to codify Roe goes far beyond the original decision. The Women’s Health Protection Act, defeated in May by a 49-51 U.S. Senate vote, is an expansive abortion bill that would declare abortion a human right, undercut existing state pro-life laws, and force objecting doctors to perform abortions.

Biden had a record sceptical of legal abortion before becoming a strong backer of abortion causes.

Soon after Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, Biden said he thought the decision went “too far.” In his early career as a U.S. Senator from Delaware he voted for restrictions on federal funding for abortion. In a 1982 committee vote he supported a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Sister Simone Campbell to be among Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients

Sister Simone Campbell. / Bruce Cooper (edit) Thomas Good (photo)/wikimedia. CC BY SA 4.0

Denver Newsroom, Jul 1, 2022 / 16:45 pm (CNA).

Sister Simone Campbell, former executive director of the Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom July 7 at the White House.

The White House announced 17 recipients of the United States’ highest civilian honor on July 1.

“President Biden has long said that America can be defined by one word: possibilities. These seventeen Americans demonstrate the power of possibilities and embody the soul of the nation – hard work, perseverance, and faith,” read a statement from the White House.

“They have overcome significant obstacles to achieve impressive accomplishments in the arts and sciences, dedicated their lives to advocating for the most vulnerable among us, and acted with bravery to drive change in their communities – and across the world – while blazing trails for generations to come.”

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is “presented to individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavors,” the statement said.

Campbell is a member, and former general director, of the Sisters of Social Service. She has been a leading figure within the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

The White House described her as “a prominent advocate for economic justice, immigration reform, and healthcare policy.”

She received a law degree from the University of California-Davis School of Law in 1977.

Campbell was a prominent advocate for the Affordable Care Act.

During a January 2021 panel discussion hosted by the National Catholic Reporter, Campbell said that Biden “has a very developed approach” to abortion. “And for him, it hinges on religious liberty, and that he will not force his religious belief on the whole nation.”

Biden, the second Catholic president, has had unwavering support for abortion rights as president, and has refused to say if he supports any restrictions on the procedure.

Campbell offered a prayer at the Democratic National Convention in 2020. Asked by CNA that August whether the Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice opposes legal abortion, Campbell replied, “That is not our issue. That is not it. It is above my pay grade.” 

“It’s not the issue that we work on. I’m a lawyer. I would have to study it more intensely than I have,” Campbell said.

"Our agenda is the economic justice issues," she told CNA at the time. "As the issues of economic justice mean, as Pope Francis talks about so often, the capacity for families to be able to support themselves, to be able to have a roof on their head."

"We don't focus on reproductive rights, we focus on trying to ensure life for everyone. As Pope Francis says 'equally sacred is the care for the born'," Campbell said.

Campbell was referring to Pope Francis' 2018 apostolic exhortation Gaudete et exsultate, in which the pope stated: "Our defense of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development."

The pope added that the lives of the poor, the destitute, the abandoned, the infirm, the elderly, and others are "equally sacred."

According to CNA's review of foundation grants to Network Lobby, a review which had not accounted for a majority of the group's funds, the organization had taken grants from major funders who also focus on abortion rights.

Campbell told CNA in 2020 that it is not Network Lobby's mission to be "in the fight for Roe v. Wade," the Supreme Court decision that mandated legal abortion nationwide. While she agreed that the dignity of life is inviolable from conception, she added, "I'm so tired. How long have we fought over Roe v. Wade?"

Roe was overturned last week by a 6-3 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

Campbell told CNA in August 2020, "Our economic agenda is to ensure that everyone can flourish, that all life can flourish, and that we can care for our earth. Our niche is economic justice."

Campbell rejected any suggestion her approach might undermine efforts to secure legal protections for the unborn.

"We work for the Pregnant Women Support Act, funding for prenatal care, women's infants and children funding, making sure pregnant women get the care that they need," she said. She said there is crossover in ensuring health care for pregnant women, adequate nutrition, and adequate housing capacity "to carry the fetus to term."

She said Network Lobby cannot expand its work on abortion "because it doesn't fit in economic justice, which is our mission."

"The thing that's so painful for me is the view that only one issue, as important as it is, defines all of Catholicity," she said.

During a 2016 interview with Democracy Now, Campbell had said that "From my perspective, I don't think it's a good policy to outlaw abortion."

Among the the recipients next week of the Presidential Medal of Honor are also Father Alexander Karloutsos, a former vicar general of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; Khzir Khan, a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom from  August 2021 until May 2022; Megan Rapinoe, a soccer player and LGBTQI+ rights advocate; Alan Simpson, a former U.S. Senator from Wyoming and an advocate for same-sex marriage and abortion rights; Simone Biles; Gabrielle Giffords; Steve Jobs; John McCain; and Denzel Washington.

Suspected arson causes $1M in damage to Catholic school in Ohio

Fire rips through a building containing the cafeteria and gymnasium of St. Anthony of Padua School in Lorain, Ohio, on June 30, 2022. An arson investigation is underway. / Screenshot from Ohio Commerce Department YouTube video

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 1, 2022 / 16:38 pm (CNA).

A building on the grounds of a Catholic school in northern Ohio sustained an estimated $1 million in damage from a fire Thursday. An arson investigation is underway, authorities said.

The fire, which started outside the building, caused heavy smoke and structural damage to the cafeteria and gymnasium of St. Anthony of Padua School in Lorain, a community on the coast of Lake Erie, Jeff Fenn, assistant chief at the Lorain Fire Department, told CNA Friday. 

Fenn estimated the damage at $1 million. He said the nearby parish church was not damaged.

Heat from the fire caused windows to “pop” which allowed smoke to fill the whole gymnasium and cafeteria, Fenn said. The fire caused smoke and structural damage, he said.

Fenn told CNA he was baptized and received First Holy Communion at the parish.

“It’s close to my heart,” he said.

A tweet from the Ohio Department of Commerce says that “A $5,000 reward is available for information leading to the conviction of the person(s) responsible for this arson fire at St. Anthony of Padua School in Lorain.” 

Anyone with information about the arson is directed to call the Ohio Fire Marshall’s tip line at 800-589-2728.

A Facebook post from St. Anthony of Padua parish Catholic school and pre-school said, “There was a fire on campus very early this morning. Thankfully no one was hurt! It was an outside fire to the Social Hall & Gym. The fire was put out by the quick action of the Lorain Fire Department. An investigation is underway. Thank you for keeping us in your prayers!”

A follow-up post Thursday asked for continued prayers. 

It’s not clear if the fire is connected to pro-abortion violence directed at Catholic churches and pro-life organizations across the U.S.

U.S. bishops disappointed by Supreme Court's climate regulation ruling

Kodda / Shutterstock.

Denver Newsroom, Jul 1, 2022 / 14:45 pm (CNA).

The U.S. bishops said Friday they are disappointed by a Supreme Court ruling which limits the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

“The Catholic bishops of the United States have long-supported the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases in order to address climate change,” read a July 1 statement from Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, chair of the U.S. bishops’ domestic justice committee.

“We are, therefore, disappointed today that following the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act the EPA will have significantly restricted authority to regulate greenhouse gases from power plants.”

In its 6-3 decision in West Virginia v. EPA on June 30, the court ruled that the Clean Air Act does not explicitly give the EPA wide-ranging power to regulate the entire energy industry.

“A decision of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. 

The EPA’s regulations, he said, were an example of “agencies asserting highly consequential power beyond what Congress could reasonably be understood to have granted.”

Coakley wrote that “both reasonable regulation and legislation are critical for addressing the threat and challenges of climate change. We call upon Congress to give the EPA the necessary authority to meaningfully regulate greenhouse gases.”

He quoted a 2018 memo from the U.S. bishops’ office of general counsel to the administrator of the EPA urging that the agency has “both the statutory authority and responsibility to take regulatory action… It is hard to foresee a scenario, under current economic and technological conditions, in which the EPA faithfully carries out its mandate to protect the public health from greenhouse gases without significantly affecting political and economic realities.”

Laudato si’, Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on care for our common home, covered a wide range of topics in relation to the environment – from climate change, species extinction, and resource depletion, to waste, economic structures, and global inequality.

The encyclical praised St. Francis of Assisi for living out an "integral ecology" with joy and authenticity.