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Pro-life leaders: Allowing mail-order abortion pill will pose 'grave danger' for women

Ivanko80/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Apr 13, 2021 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

Pro-life groups criticized the Biden administration for allowing the distribution of the abortion pill through the mail during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“With this action, the Biden administration has made it clear that it will prioritize abortion over women's safety,” said March for Life President Jeanne Mancini. “Allowing unsupervised chemical abortions via telemedicine, without requiring timely access to medical care, will put women in grave danger.”

In a Monday letter from the commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the FDA announced it would “exercise enforcement discretion” on its regulations of the abortion pill. Acting FDA commissioner Janet Woodcock said she would allow for the abortion pill regimen to be prescribed remotely and sent to women through the mail or through a mail-order pharmacy.

“Further, to the extent all of the other requirements of the Mifepristone REMS Program are met, CDER intends to exercise enforcement discretion during the COVID19 PHE with respect to the dispensing of mifepristone through the mail either by or under the supervision of a certified prescriber, or through a mail-order pharmacy when such dispensing is done under the supervision of a certified prescriber,” Woodcock wrote. 

Since 2000, the FDA had placed the abortion pill regimen on its REMS list, or “Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy.” The list is reserved for higher-risk drugs and procedures, and under the regimen, the abortion pill could only be prescribed in-person by a certified prescriber in a health clinic setting.

Pro-abortion groups sued the Trump administration over the regulation in 2020, however, claiming that the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic warranted that women be able to obtain the abortion pill remotely.

In July, Judge Theodore Chuang of the Maryland district placed an injunction on the FDA regulations during the pandemic. The Supreme Court ultimately ruled in the Trump administration’s favor by reversing Chuang’s injunction in a 6-3 decision. 

The FDA’s April 12 letter means that women will be able to receive the abortion pill through the mail during the pandemic.  

Mancini said that the FDA’s data from 2018 showed “thousands of adverse events” as a result of the abortion pill, “including 768 hospitalizations and 24 deaths since 2000.”

“Chemical abortions should have more medical oversight not less,” said Mancini.  

Xavier Becerra, the new Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), pushed for the FDA to roll back its regulations of the abortion pill during the pandemic. At his confirmation hearing in February, Becerra said that the regimen should be available remotely.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, said the FDA’s decision was “pure politics” and accused pro-abortion activists of “exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic from the beginning, working to eliminate safety precautions in order to expand the proliferation of dangerous chemical abortion drugs.”

Dannenfelser added that the decision to allow telemedicine abortions “prioritizes abortion industry profits over the health and safety of women” and is evidence of the “abortion extremism of the Biden-Harris administration.” 

“This is flagrant and dangerous disregard for the health and safety of American women and girls,” she said. 

Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins noted that Woodcock herself had testified in 2006 that “women have died and been injured ingesting these chemicals.” 

“The parsed language of her letter downplays all the reasons for greater medical engagement,” Hawkins stated.

“We know that the chemicals have four times the complications of surgical abortion, can cause dangerous complications later in pregnancy and in ectopic pregnancies, and can harm women’s future fertility if handed out without proper screening and treatment for blood type,” said Hawkins. 

Hawkins noted that the availability of the drugs through the mail poses a risk to women, “if abusers get hold of the drugs to force on women, sometimes without their knowledge or consent.”

Priest-president of elite NY Jesuit high school sacked, sexual misconduct against adults alleged

Regis High School in New York City. / ajay_suresh via Flickr (CC_BY_2.0)

CNA Staff, Apr 13, 2021 / 17:17 pm (CNA).

A Jesuit priest who was president of an all-boys high school in New York City has been removed after the board of trustees determined he engaged in inappropriate, non-consensual sexual misconduct with several adults, including subordinates.

 

Anthony DiNovi, chair of the Regis High School board of trustees, sent an April 11 message to the high school community announcing the removal of Father Daniel Lahart, S.J. from his position as school president. The 59-year-old Lahart had been president since 2016.

 

DiNovi said the board had put Lahart on administrative leave on Feb. 28 after learning of allegations he had “acted inappropriately with adult members of the Regis community.” The board hired a third-party investigator to review the claims.

 

Based on the investigator’s findings, the board has concluded “that Fr. Lahart engaged in inappropriate and unwelcome verbal communications and physical conduct, all of a sexual nature, with adult members of the Regis community, including subordinates.”

 

“This conduct was non-consensual, and moreover, continued notwithstanding express requests from the affected parties for the conduct to cease,” said DiNovi.

 

DiNovi said the investigation was committed to due process, adding “Fr. Lahart was invited to participate, but declined to do so.”

 

“Last week, the school notified Fr. Lahart that the board—with the approval of the USA East Province of the Society of Jesus—intended to remove him for cause as President, which we expect will take effect on April 21, 2021,” said the message.

 

DiNovi said the school would not disclose further details about the investigation to protect victims’ privacy. Regis is an all-boys school run by the Society of Jesus. It has faculty and staff of both sexes. The school’s student body numbers over 500. The Upper East Side Manhattan school does not charge tuition and instead relies on donations from alumni and other benefactors.

 

“Please know the board did not come to its decision lightly and took seriously its obligation to act with transparency, integrity, and compassion in service of our community, both with respect to Fr. Lahart and to those members of our community who were harmed by his conduct,” DiNovi said. “We are committed to ensuring a safe, respectful, and caring workplace for all current and future Regis staff members.”

 

Lahart was the 22nd president of the school. The 2015 announcement of Lahart’s selection as president noted his 14 years as president of the Houston, Texas school Strake Jesuit College Preparatory. He previously served as vice president for finance and administration at Washington, D.C.’s Gonzaga College High School and as provincial assistant for secondary education for the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus. In that role, he was the provincial’s delegate to middle and secondary schools.

 

Lahart also had taught mathematics at Scranton Preparatory School in Pennsylvania.

 

Regis High alumni include Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport, Conn.; Father Joseph McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University; U.S. Rep. Andrew Harris, R-Maryland; and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who has been a leading media commentator on the novel coronavirus epidemic. 

 

The board of trustees has named Christian Talbot, a former Regis faculty member, as interim president.


Federal court upholds Ohio's Down syndrome abortion ban

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Washington D.C., Apr 13, 2021 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

A federal court on Tuesday upheld an Ohio law prohibiting doctors from performing abortions based on a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. 

The full Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 9-7 to lift an injunction on Ohio's Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act, signed into law by former Republican governor John Kasich in 2017. 

A federal district court judge first blocked the law from going into effect in March 2018. A three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit upheld the judge’s ruling in October 2019.

After the state of Ohio appealed the ruling to the full panel of the Sixth Circuit, a majority on Tuesday reversed the district court’s injunction. 

“The right to an abortion before viability is not absolute,” wrote Judge Alice Batchelder in the court’s majority opinion, adding, “Simply put, there is no absolute or per se right to an abortion based on the stage of the pregnancy.”

Ohio’s law H.B. 214 would make performing abortions based on a Down syndrome diagnosis - or the likelihood of such a diagnosis - subject to criminal penalties. Doctors would be in violation of the law if they knew the mother’s reason for seeking an abortion was a diagnosis of Down syndrome, or a belief that the child had Down syndrome.

Some pro-life advocates argue that the Supreme Court should now rule on the Ohio law, or on similar laws in other states.

In a statement, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, said the ruling “upholds Ohio as a safe haven for unborn babies with Down Syndrome.” 

“This law includes reasonable, compassionate measures to prevent lethal discrimination in the womb,” Dannenfelser said. She added that the law “has the potential to pose a significant challenge to Roe v. Wade.” 

The court’s 1973 ruling in Roe found that women had a right to an abortion before the “viability” of the unborn child, but that states could regulate the issue once the child is viable. In the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling, the court found that states could regulate abortion pre-viability, but could not pose an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to an abortion.

On Tuesday, a majority on the Sixth Circuit ruled that the law did not impose an “undue burden” on women seeking an abortion.

“We hold that the restrictions imposed, or burdens created, by H.B. 214 do not create a substantial obstacle to a woman’s ability to choose or obtain an abortion. Moreover, those restrictions are reasonably related to, and further, Ohio’s legitimate interests,” the majority opinion stated.

Dannenfelser said that the Supreme Court should rule on the matter. 

“Now that a circuit split has occurred on the issue of whether states may prohibit the eugenic practice of discrimination abortion, the Supreme Court has even more reason to weigh in on this important matter and declare these laws as constitutional,” she said. 

Other “discrimination abortion” bans have been passed by states, outlawing abortions conducted for reasons of the baby’s sex, race, or fetal anomaly.

“Discriminatory abortions based on sex, race and disability are no less than modern-day eugenics, and must swiftly come to an end,” Dannenfelser stated. 

Two Ohio Planned Parenthood affiliates were among the organizations that sued over Ohio’s law. Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement, “This abortion ban inserts politicians between patients and their doctors, denying services to those who need it.”

Former auxiliary bishop who mishandled reports of misconduct named pastor in Cincinnati archdiocese

Saint Peter in Chains Cathedral on W 8th Street in Cincinnati, Ohio. / Nagel photography/Shutterstock

Cincinnati, Ohio, Apr 13, 2021 / 16:01 pm (CNA).

A Catholic bishop who resigned last year as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati amid controversy for failure to report to his archbishop and to the archdiocese’s personnel board a priest's alleged innapropriate behavior with a minor has been named pastor of a two-church pastoral region.

Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Joseph Binzer was named pastor of the Corpus Christi and St. John Neumann Pastoral Region, which includes two Catholic churches in Hamilton County, the television station Fox19 reports.

An archdiocese spokesperson said Bishop Binzer would continue his roles as the program coordinator for senior clergy services; director of Health and Hospital Ministries; and chaplain for the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Cincinnati.

In May 2020 the Holy See Press Office announced that Pope Francis had accepted the then-65-year-old bishop’s resignation as an auxiliary bishop of the Cincinnati archdiocese. The statement gave no reason for the decision.

At the time, Bishop Binzer apologized for his response to reports of misconduct by Father Geoff Drew, who will soon go to trial for raping a 10-year-old after pleading not guilty. The bishop said he was “deeply sorry for my role in addressing the concerns raised about Father Drew, which has had a negative impact on the trust and faith of the people of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.”

Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati removed Bishop Binzer from his position as head of priest personnel in August 2019, after CNA presented officials with its investigation into claims that Bishop Binzer failed to pass on reports that Fr. Drew had engaged in inappropriate behavior with teenage boys.

Bishop Binzer later resigned as a member of the U.S. bishops’ conference committee for the protection of children and young people.

Fr. Kyle Schnippel, the outgoing pastor of the Corpus Christi and St. John Neumann Pastoral Region, said he was “surprised” to be nominated for another assignment. The priest said the transition planning has already begun for Bishop Binzer.

Fr. Schnippel recounted his conversation with the bishop in a letter to parishioners at the St. John Neumann’s website.

“As I spoke to (the) bishop shortly after the announcements were made, he assured me of his excitement and joy at coming here,” Fr. Schnippel said. “The first thing he wanted me to pass along to everyone here is that he is already praying for us, for you: the parishioners of these two parishes. He has some connections here already. An aunt and uncle were parishioners at Corpus Christi for a time and he has celebrated Mass here a number of times as well. He is looking forward to getting to know you all better over the coming years.”

At the time of Bishop Binzer’s resignation, Archbishop Schnurr said the bishop would continue to serve in the archdiocese, as determined in conversations among the archbishop, the archbishop, and the priest personnel board.

“In this difficult and unfortunate time, please keep Bishop Binzer and all the people of the archdiocese in your prayers,” Archbishop Schnurr said in May 2020.

The bishop’s appointment as a pastor has drawn media attention and criticism because of his handling of misconduct reports against a priest.

In August 2019 CNA reported that Binzer was told in 2013 about allegations concerning Fr. Drew, and failed to disclose them to Archbishop Schnurr and other archdiocesan officials.

While the archdiocesan victims’ assistance coordinator, who reported to Bishop Binzer, was aware of the allegation, the information was not made known to the diocesan priest personnel board or Archbishop Schnurr.

In 2015, similar allegations were again made against Fr. Drew. The matter was forwarded to Butler County officials, who determined that the activity was not criminal. Again, Bishop Binzer reported neither the complaints nor the investigation to the archbishop or informed the priest personnel board.

Sources in the archdiocesan chancery told CNA in August 2019 that Bishop Binzer met with Fr. Drew twice, was assured by him that he would reform his conduct, and the bishop considered this sufficient.

In early 2018, Fr. Drew applied for a transfer to St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish in Green Township, which is attached to the largest Catholic school in the archdiocese.

As head of priest personnel, Bishop Binzer was in charge of the process that considers requests and proposals for reassignment, in conjunction with the priest personnel board.

Neither the board nor the archbishop were made aware of the multiple complaints against Fr. Drew, and the transfer was approved.

The allegations were also reportedly not recorded by Bishop Binzer in the priest’s personnel file that would have been available to the archdiocesan personnel board as part of the process.

A month after Fr. Drew’s arrival at St. Ignatius, a parishioner at Drew’s former parish resubmitted the 2015 complaints about the priest, but this time it was also brought to the attention of Archbishop Schnurr.

Also in 2018, Bishop Binzer received an additional complaint of similarly inappropriate contact by Fr. Drew, dating to his time as a high school music teacher, before his ordination as a priest.

Following a diocesan investigation, Fr. Drew was ordered to attend counselling with a psychologist.

On July 23, Fr. Drew was removed from ministry, when it emerged that he had sent a series of inappropriate text messages to a 17-year-old.

Fr. Drew, who is now 59 years old, is scheduled to go to trial April 26 on 9 counts of rape or enter a plea. He has pleaded not guilty, but could face life in prison if he is convicted. He is accused of raping a 10-year-old student multiple times from 1988-1991 as a music minister at a Catholic school, before he became a priest.

Following Supreme Court ruling, California lifts capacity limits on religious gatherings

Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church, Los Angeles / Leonid Andronov/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Apr 13, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

California lifted all capacity restrictions on religious gatherings on Monday, following the Supreme Court’s ruling over the weekend that the state’s restrictions were too harsh. 

“In response to recent judicial rulings, effective immediately, location and capacity limits on places of worship are not mandatory but are strongly recommended,” the state announced on Monday.

The state’s guidelines still recommend that worship services be held outside in counties with the most severe spread of COVID-19. For other counties at lesser risk of COVID-19 transmission, the state recommends that indoor religious services be limited to 25% capacity or 50% capacity. 

Other health restrictions, such as masking and social distancing, still apply to gatherings. Singing and chanting is permitted, but performers are subject to mask and distancing restrictions; the severity of the restrictions depends on the local level of COVID-19 risk.

According to California’s color-coding system for COVID-19 risk in counties, “purple” counties are determined to be at “widespread” risk of the virus; “red” counties are at “substantial” risk, “orange” counties at “moderate” risk, and “yellow” counties at “minimal” risk. Two counties are coded purple and two are yellow, with 22 counties labeled red and 32 counties labeled orange. 

The California Department of Public Health guidance on preventing virus transmission at gatherings, updated in November 2020, now adds that “limits will not be enforced to the extent that they have been enjoined by a court.”

In February, the Supreme Court ruled against the state’s near-total ban on indoor religious services, saying that the state could at most limit such services to 25% capacity.

Previously, the state limited indoor gatherings at homes to a maximum of three households. After residents sued to overturn the capacity limits for private Bible studies, the Supreme Court ruled on April 9 that the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court should have granted an injunction blocking the policy. 

The court majority noted in an unsigned order that the state’s “three households” rule did not apply as strictly to secular indoor gatherings - such as indoor shopping or businesses such as nail salons - as it did to private religious gatherings at homes.

“Where the government permits other activities to proceed with precautions, it must show that the religious exercise at issue is more dangerous than those activities even when the same precautions are applied,” said the court’s majority opinion in the 5-4 decision. “Otherwise, precautions that suffice for other activities suffice for religious exercise too.”

Chief Justice John Roberts, along with Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor, dissented from the majority opinion. 

Justice Kagan, writing a dissenting opinion joined by Justices Breyer and Sotomayor, stated that the state had treated religious and secular gatherings fairly.

“California limits religious gatherings in homes to three households. If the State also limits all secular gatherings in homes to three households, it has complied with the First Amendment,” Kagan said. “And the State does exactly that: It has adopted a blanket restriction on at-home gatherings of all kinds, religious and secular alike.”

Priest who served at Franciscan University of Steubenville indicted on rape allegations

The Portiuncula Chapel on the campus of the Franciscan University of Steubenville. / Robert Pernett via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0).

Tacna, Peru, Apr 12, 2021 / 19:08 pm (CNA).

A Franciscan priest who once worked in campus ministry at Franciscan University of Steubenville has been indicted in Ohio for the alleged rape of a female patient who was mentally or physically impaired.

 

On April 7, Father David Morrier, T.O.R., was indicted in Ohio by the Jefferson County Grand Jury on two charges of sexual battery and a single charge of rape. He was removed from active ministry in 2015 on unspecified sexual misconduct charges, his Franciscan province has said.

 

The 59-year-old priest is a mental health professional. He allegedly maintained a three-year sexual relationship with a patient the indictment described as “substantially impaired because of a mental or physical condition,” the Steubenville newspaper The Herald Star reports. He allegedly falsely represented to her that sexual conduct was “necessary for mental health treatment purposes.”

 

An April 9 statement from the Office of the Minister Provincial of the Third Order Regular Franciscans’ Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus said that the alleged charges took place between November 2010 and spring 2013.

 

“Fr. Morrier was removed from public ministry in 2015 due to allegations of sexual misconduct,” the provincial’s office said. “He has not exercised public ministry since that time. Being removed from public ministry means that he has not publicly celebrated Mass or any sacraments. The province has cooperated fully with the investigation into this matter.”

 

“The province takes all allegations of sexual misconduct seriously and urges anyone who has been a victim of sexual misconduct to call law enforcement officials immediately,” the statement continued.

 

In an April 8 statement the Diocese of Steubenville said it first became aware of the case “when the alleged victim presented the allegations to the diocese in November 2018.”

 

“Although Father Morrier is not a priest of the Steubenville Diocese, the diocese began an immediate preliminary investigation with the alleged victim and officers with the Steubenville police department,” the statement said.

 

“The Diocese of Steubenville submitted a report to the Minister General of the T.O.R.’s in Rome as well as to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Holy See on December 11, 2018. Since that time, the diocese has continued to work with the Steubenville police department and has provided updates on the investigation to the Holy See,” the statement added. The Steubenville diocese said it takes abuse allegations “most seriously” and “encourages victims of abuse to contact the local police department in whose jurisdiction the abuse occurred.”

 

Morrier was ordained a priest for the Franciscan province in 1997. The charges against him overlap his time as a campus minister at Franciscan University of Steubenville, a position he held through 2014.

 

An April 8 statement from the Franciscan University of Steubenville said “the university has cooperated and will continue to cooperate fully with authorities concerning the conduct of Father David Morrier, T.O.R., prior to 2014.”

 

“Franciscan University removed him permanently from campus ministry, and he was also prohibited from returning to campus,” said the university. It did not clarify the timing of the removal.

 

“Sexual assault is not only a crime but a serious sin,” it added, saying all sexual misconduct complaints face action under the university’s Policy on Discrimination, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct.

 

“Anyone who may have been harmed while at Franciscan University is offered counseling and other appropriate services,” said the university. “Anyone who experienced or is aware of sexual misconduct at Franciscan University is encouraged to make a report to the University and/or the Steubenville Police Department.”

 

After Morrier’s time at Steubenville, he appears to have served at a Franciscan church in Arlington, Texas in the Diocese of Fort Worth. According to a cached version of the St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church and School website, Morrier was announced as the new parochial vicar of the parish on May 1, 2014, with his duties beginning June 3 of that year. The parish is run by the Franciscan Friars, Third Order Regular.

Archbishop Cordileone calls for ‘inoculation against racism’

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone speaks at the San Francisco for Unity prayer service against racism. / Dennis Callahan/Archdiocese of San Francisco.

CNA Staff, Apr 12, 2021 / 17:51 pm (CNA).

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco last week condemned violence against Asian people in the United States, drawing comparisons between the COVID-19 vaccine and standing against racism.

 

“Inoculation against racism can be summed up in one word: virtue,” Cordileone said April 10 at the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption.

 

The archbishop’s remarks were made at a prayer service “for an end to violence and racism particularly against Asians, for healing for our nation, and for the flourishing of peace and justice in our land.”

 

The event was held amid recent reports of rising violence against the Asian community in the United States.

 

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 36% of people in San Francisco County are of Asian descent. Cordileone noted that immigration from China has been a constant in the city from its beginning, and immigration from other Asian countries is also common in the area. He called it “very disturbing” that “racial violence would rear its ugly head here.”

 

The archbishop cited Pope Francis, who described racism as “a virus that quickly mutates and, instead of disappearing, goes into hiding, and lurks in waiting.”

 

Cordileone said “the virus of racism” is a lot like COVID-19. “It never goes away, but there are ways to inoculate oneself against it, even if one has to be always vigilant to protect oneself from being infected.”

 

He noted that a vaccine will not kill the virus, but instead prevents a person from being harmed if exposed to it.

 

“But what is our inoculation against racism?” the archbishop questioned. He highlighted the early Christian communities depicted in the Acts of the Apostles as a “good start in answering that question.”

 

“We see here,” said the bishop, “the qualities that make such a peaceful and harmonious common life possible: each one looked out first and foremost for the good of the other, not what they were going to get out of it.”

 

Cordileone challenged the congregation to live out the Christian “mission of mercy.” He concluded by listing virtues he thought best acted as the “inoculation against racism” – specifically, “generosity, selflessness, trust and trustworthiness, humility, courage, conviction, forgiveness, and, of course, mercy itself.”

 

The archbishop encouraged San Franciscans to lead by example and “make our Golden Gate an authentic symbol of a city that will let no stranger wait outside its door.”

After school shooting, Knoxville bishop asks for 'positive solutions' to gun violence

Bishop Richard Stika of Knoxville / Catholic News Agency

Washington D.C., Apr 12, 2021 / 17:22 pm (CNA).

Bishop Richard Stika of the Diocese of Knoxville demanded “positive solutions” to gun violence after a fatal shooting at an area high school on Monday. 

“Once again and regrettably, I am asking for prayers for the victims of another terrible shooting in Knoxville,” Bishop Stika wrote in a statement on Monday. “I have been monitoring today’s unfortunate and violent incident and offer my personal prayers for all of the victims, including a law-enforcement officer.”

According to local authorities, one person was killed and a police officer was injured Monday during a shooting at Knoxville’s Austin-East High School. Knoxville police said that officers had responded to reports of an armed male at the school, who was subsequently killed in a shooting when confronted by police, according to ABC 8 News.

One police officer was injured and is recovering at a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries. 

Bishop Stika on Monday decried ongoing acts of violence and called for prayers and “positive solutions.”

“The series of tragic events that has taken place in recent weeks in Knoxville, especially involving the Austin-East community, and those that have taken place throughout the United States, demonstrate that violence in our society remains a serious, almost daily occurrence and that it claims victims in many different ways,” the bishop wrote.

Four teenagers in Knoxville had already been killed by gun violence since Jan. 27, according to the. Knoxville News Sentinel.

“As a nation, we must commit ourselves to work to turn away from violence and find real solutions that lead us to love, compassion, and decency,” he stated. 

“As Bishop of the Diocese of Knoxville, I pledge to do what I can to help. Prayers are important, but communities must come together to find positive solutions to this ongoing problem in our country.”

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigations is reviewing the incident and the circumstances that led to the shooting, the Knoxville Police Department said on Monday.

The department said that on Monday afternoon around 3:15 p.m., it received reports of a male armed with a gun at the school. Officers responded and found the suspect in a bathroom. After they ordered the suspect to come out, he fired gunshots, injuring one officer. An officer returned fire, and the suspect was pronounced dead at the scene.

This story was updated on April 13.

St Paul-Minneapolis archbishop prays for peace, caution after Daunte Wright shooting

A protester argues with a Minnesota State Patrol outside the Brooklyn Center Police Station after a police officer shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minn., April 12, 2021. Credit: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images.

St. Paul, Minn., Apr 12, 2021 / 17:09 pm (CNA).

On Monday, Archbishop Bernard Hebda of Saint Paul and Minneapolis prayed for all parties involved in the police shooting of Daunte Wright. 

“I have been praying for [Wright’s] eternal repose, for his family and for all those who loved him,” Archbishop Hebda said April 12. He added he was “also praying for the Brooklyn Center Police officer involved in the shooting, and for her family and friends. I suspect that they are grieving in a different way.”

At a traffic stop April 11 in Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis-Saint Paul, police officers attempted to arrest Wright, a black man, for what they said was an outstanding arrest warrant. After Wright resisted arrest to escape in his car, one of the officers shot him. Wright drove several blocks before crashing. He died on the scene of the crash. 

Referencing body camera video footage, the chief of police said he believed the shooting was an accident, as the officer intended to tase Wright. The officer was placed on administrative leave. 

The shooting of Wright occurred during the nationally heated trial of Derek Chauvin, a Minnesota police officer who is accused of killing George Floyd. The coupling of events has sparked protests, rioting, and looting across Minneapolis. The National Guard was deployed and a curfew was imposed.

“While early indications point towards the shooting being accidental” the archbishop said, “I encourage allowing investigators from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to complete a thorough investigation before coming to any personal judgments as to what occurred.”

Hebda called on the community to “pause and pray, particularly during this time of already heightened tension due to the Chauvin trial.” The archbishop also mentioned that he was “encouraged and inspired by the pleas for peace that have continued to come from the family of George Floyd.”

He concluded by asking that “all of us take time daily to pray for justice, but also for peace in our families and in our communities.”

Catholic aid group praises Biden’s proposed boost to foreign assistance

People wait outside a distribution point to receive aid rations in Oromia Region, Ethiopia, in February 2018 / Will Baxter/Catholic Relief Services

Washington D.C., Apr 12, 2021 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

A Catholic aid agency is praising President Biden’s 2022 fiscal year budget request for its focus on fighting poverty.

“The administration’s proposal to increase poverty-focused international assistance in its FY22 budget request demonstrates a steadfast commitment to American leadership abroad,” stated Bill O’Keefe, executive vice president for mission, mobilization and advocacy at Catholic Relief Services (CRS), on Friday.

The White House released its discretionary funding request for fiscal year 2022 on Friday. The request is a summary of the administration’s full budget, which will be released later.

Included in the request is $1 billion in U.S. foreign assistance for fighting infectious diseases around the globe, as well as $2.5 billion for international climate programs.

O’Keefe said that the proposed funding “will be vital” to fighting global poverty, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID-19 has plunged tens of millions of families further into poverty, threatening their ability to put food on the table,” O’Keefe stated. “The U.S. is a blessed nation. It’s our moral responsibility as Americans to protect the life and dignity of those most in need.”

Increased foreign assistance will help the United States counter the threats of climate change and future pandemics, O'Keefe said, adding that it will also boost the U.S. response to "the complex challenges plaguing Central America.”

In 2019, CRS criticized President Trump’s proposal to cut foreign aid by nearly 25%.

The 2022 federal budget process is also expected to feature a debate over taxpayer funding of abortions.

Biden’s budget request did not specifically mention abortion funding, but pro-life groups are warning that a proposed $340 million increase for the Title X family planning program would fund pro-abortion groups.

While the Trump administration set up safeguards against Title X funding of abortion clinics – forbidding grantees from referring for abortions or being co-located with abortion clinics – the Biden administration is currently in the process of rolling back those requirements.

In addition, Biden’s budget request includes funding of the UN’s population fund (UNFPA). The Trump administration stopped funding the UNFPA in 2017 over its partnership with the Chinese government, claiming that the organization was complicit in China’s practice of forced abortions.

“Biden’s funding proposal further raises the stakes for inclusion of the Hyde family of longstanding pro-life policies,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, on Friday. 

The Hyde Amendment – federal policy that bars funding of elective abortions in appropriations – has been enacted in law since 1976 as a rider to budget bills. However, Biden in 2019 reversed his long-standing support for the policy, and has opposed it as president. Democratic leadership in Congress have also called for the repeal of the policy.

“Under his radical Cabinet appointees, funding increases will translate to a payday for abortion giants like Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes International, and greater complicity in human rights abuses around the world,” Dannenfelser stated. “We strongly urge our congressional allies to reject any budget that omits these vital protections.”

Democratic leaders have also called for the repeal of other pro-life funding policies such as the Helms Amendment, which forbids federal funding of international abortions. President Biden has already allowed for federal funding of pro-abortion foreign NGOs by repealing the Mexico City Policy.