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LA archbishop welcomes Trump immigration order

Washington D.C., Jun 20, 2018 / 03:35 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Archbishop of Los Angeles said he “welcomes” an executive order signed Wednesday by President Trump, and called on Congress to act on immigration reform.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday titled “Affording Congress an Opportunity to Address Family Separation,” intended to end the practice of separating children from their parents at the U.S. border, while maintaining the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy illegal entry into the United States.

The executive order said that detained families will be held together, “where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources.”

In a tweet Wednesday afternoon, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, Vice-President of the bishops’ conference, said “I welcome the President’s executive order ending the cruel family separation policy. Now Congress needs to act on immigration. With my brother (bishops) @USCCB, I am disappointed about the bills the House will vote on tomorrow.”

“We need a bipartisan bill like the #USAAct that provides a clear path to citizenship for #Dreamers and secures our borders. And we need it now,” Gomez added in a subsequent tweet.

The executive order laid the blame for family separation on Congress for its “failure to act” as well as court orders that “have put the Administration in the position of separating alien families to effectively enforce the law.”

“The Secretary of Homeland Security (Secretary), shall, to the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations, maintain custody of alien families during the pendency of any criminal improper entry or immigration proceedings involving their members,” the order reads.

Minor children are not currently permitted in detention facilities where adults are held. This new executive order calls for the Secretary of Defense to provide the Secretary of Homeland Security with existing facilities that can be used to house a family unit. If these facilities do not exist, they will be constructed.

The 1997 Flores consent decree limits the amount of time that undocumented immigrant children can be held by the federal government, whether they crossed the border with relatives or by themselves. In Wednesday’s executive order, the attorney general was instructed to “promptly file a request” with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to modify this agreement. With the requested modifications, undocumented immigrant families would be able to be detained together during criminal proceedings.

The Attorney General was also ordered to prioritize any cases involving a detained family.

The US bishops’ conference did not respond to a request for comment by deadline. The conference, as well as individual bishops, have been vocal in opposition to family separation at the border.

Speaking at the signing, President Trump said he “didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,” and that “it's a problem that's gone on for many years, as you know, through many administrations.”

“So we're keeping families together, and this will solve that problem,” said Trump.

“At the same time, we are keeping a very powerful border and it continues to be a zero-tolerance. We have zero tolerance for people that enter our country illegally.”

 

Catholic Charities Fort Worth hosts migrant children separated from parents

Fort Worth, Texas, Jun 20, 2018 / 03:07 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- As thousands of children have been separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexican border in recent weeks, Catholic Charities Fort Worth has opened its doors to shelter the unaccompanied migrant children.

“…Catholic Charities Fort Worth has received and is assisting children who have been separated from their parents at the U.S./Mexico border,” said Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth in a June 19 statement.

“The Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth and Catholic Charities Fort Worth, as in the past, will live out the mission to help those in need,” Olson continued, noting that “Catholic Charities staff stands ready to expand the program as needed.”

The Trump administration’s immigration policy has garnered international attention for its zero-tolerance stance at the border, which has enforced the separation of migrant children from their parents who have be detained by border officials as a way to deter illegal immigration.

The United Nations condemned the separation policy June 5, saying it was “a serious violation of the rights of the child.”

Olson additionally condemned the practice, saying supporting it “lacks compassion, promotes hardness of heart, and further desensitizes us to our mission and responsibilities as Christians to give comfort to the afflicted and to promote respect for human life…”

“The unwarranted separation of parents from their children not only harms those relationships but undermines the right to life, the respect for legitimate authority, and all other basic human rights in society,” Olson remarked.

“The use of separation of children, including babies, from their mothers and fathers at the U.S./Mexican border as a tool for implementing the Administration’s zero-tolerance policy is sinful because it undermines the right to life of the vulnerable, directly traumatizes those who have already been injured, and undermines the role of legitimate authority,” he continued.

According to the administration, the policy has separated around 2,342 children from their parents between May 9 and June 5. The federal government is in charge of providing shelter for the migrant children who have been taken from their parents.

Catholic Charities Fort Worth has been hosting a number of migrant children in an effort to serve the families torn apart by the immigration policy. The Star-Telegram reported Catholic Charities was contracted with the federal government’s Office of Refugee Resettlement, according to Pat Svacina, a spokesman for the Diocese of Fort Worth.

To protect the privacy of the children, Catholic Charities did not release any information on the children they were sheltering at their 26-bed facility.

An online statement from Catholic Charities Fort Worth offered ways to help, encouraging individuals to donate to their Unaccompanied Children program or help create welcome boxes. They are also looking for foster parents through the International Foster Care Program who can provide a safe haven for the children who have been separated from their parents.

“I call on each of us to examine our own consciences and interior lives if we in any way take cruel delight in these actions done in the name of our government and in the name of the security of our borders,” said Olson.

“Separating children from their mothers and fathers in an already traumatic time in their lives as immigrants seeking asylum is inhumane and morally wrong without due regard for the safety and protection of the children and informed consent of their parents.”

Abortion clinic will not receive Texas bishops’ emails, court rules

Austin, Texas, Jun 20, 2018 / 01:26 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The 23 bishops of Texas will not have to turn over emails and other communications to an abortion provider, a federal appeals court ruled on Monday.

The ruling came in response to a Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops (TCCB) appeal from  an order from a trial court on Sunday requiring the bishops to hand over private documents to Whole Woman’s Health, a chain of abortion facilities in the state.

Whole Woman’s Health filed suit against the State of Texas two years ago over a law that requires aborted fetal remains to be either buried or cremated. Previously, the remains were treated as medical waste and thrown into a landfill.

Although the bishops are not party to the lawsuit, Whole Woman’s Health attempted to acquire various communications from the TCCB concerning abortion. These included private email and internal communications between bishops.

The bishops had previously offered to bury aborted fetal remains for free in Catholic cemeteries in Texas.

The bishops had requested emergency protection of their emails and other documents from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which put a halt to Sunday’s order. The court ordered additional briefs to be submitted by Monday, June 25.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents the TCCB, said that the bishops deserve privacy from the government in their communications.

“Government should not have unbounded power to insert itself into the private conversations of any group, much less the leadership of the Catholic Church,” said Eric Rassbach, vice president and senior counsel at Becket.

“Constant surveillance of religious groups is a hallmark of totalitarian societies, not a free people.”

Rassbach’s sentiment was echoed by Texas bishops, who reiterated the importance of being able to have private deliberations amongst themselves.

Bishop Joe S. Vasquez, from the Diocese of Austin, said that he and his brother bishops have “not just a right, but a duty to speak out on issues that concern justice, mercy, and a consistent ethic on life.”

To do this, Vasquez said, it is critical that they be able to deliberate with each other privately prior to issuing a statement on a topic. He said the court’s ruling was “vital” for the Church.

“Children are not disposable,” said Bishop Edward J. Burns from the Diocese of Dallas, comparing the lawsuit to the policy of separating undocumented children from their parents at the U.S. border.

“We believe that life is sacred from the moment of conception. We also believe that we have a right to discuss in private how to address this issue and uphold the dignity of every human life, and that while upholding the sacredness of life may seem at odds with some people, our religious liberties and religious rights should not be eroded.”

 

Courage apostolate's 2018 conference to recall founder's mission

Bridgeport, Conn., Jun 20, 2018 / 11:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Courage International, an apostolate of the Catholic Church which serves people with same-sex attraction who seek to live a chaste life, will host its 30th annual conference this July, focusing on the faith of its founder, Fr. John Harvey, OSFS.

This year would have been Harvey’s 100th birthday. The conference will be held July 12-15 at Villanova University in Philadelphia.

Featuring speakers such as Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia and EWTN’s Johnette Benkovic, the theme of this year’s conference is “Faithful to a mission.” Several bishops have also confirmed their attendance.

"The program will focus on themes that were important to Father Harvey’s spirituality and pastoral approach, and we plan to include a number of speakers who worked closely with Father Harvey during the 28 years that he led the Courage apostolate," said Father Philip Bochanski, Courage International's executive director, in a June 19 statement.

Harvey was the director of Courage International from its inception in 1980 until his retirement in 2008. He died in 2010, at the age of 92.

The five goals of Courage International are chastity, prayer and dedication, fellowship, support, and “to live lives that may serve as good examples to others.”

Courage discourages the use of the terms “gay” and “lesbian” to refer to members, saying the organization “sees persons with same-sex attractions first and foremost as men and women created in the image of God.”

Since its founding, the organization has grown to have over 100 chapters in 14 countries. There is also a companion support group, EnCourage, for families and friends of those with same-sex attraction. Members of both Courage and EnCourage will share their personal testimonies at the conference.

 In 2016, Courage and EnCourage received canonical status as a diocesan clerical public association of the faithful.

Immediately preceding the 2018 conference, there will be a “clergy day” for priests, deacons, and seminarians, featuring seminars aiming to teach clergy how to minister properly to people with same-sex attraction.

Texas pro-life laws face sweeping legal challenge

Austin, Texas, Jun 20, 2018 / 01:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Dozens of pro-life laws in Texas are being challenged in a lawsuit claiming that they pose an undue burden on women, but a national pro-life group says abortion regulations are important for women’s health and safety.

Catherine Glenn Foster, president and CEO of Americans United For Life, said she believes that the courts will agree that the existing laws are constitutional, protect the interests of women, and do not constitute an “undue burden” on women.

“Americans United for Life expects the federal courts involved in these lawsuits to recognize these critical interests and protect the lives of women seeking abortion through reasonable, constitutional health and safety regulations,” she told CNA.

Some of the laws being challenged by the suit include those requiring an abortion to be performed by a doctor, mandating that a women view an ultrasound and wait 24 hours before obtaining an abortion, and requiring the parents of a minor consent prior to her abortion.

The suit also seeks to legalize telemedicine abortions, in which a doctor communicates with a patient through a video conference for a medical abortion. Presently, this practice is banned in Texas.

In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 2013 Texas law that required abortions to take place in a surgical center and required doctors who performed abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. These requirements were interpreted by the Supreme Court to be an “undue burden” on women seeking an abortion.

The 2013 law saw over half of the state’s abortion facilities shut down, and since then, only three have resumed operations.

Plaintiffs in the current case are hoping to use the 2016 ruling as precedent to challenge other pro-life laws in the state.

The plaintiffs in the current case are Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, the Afiya Center, Fund Texas Choice, the Lilith Fund, the Texas Equal Access Fund, the West Fund, and Dr. Bhavik Kumar, who is the medical director at Whole Woman’s Health Alliance. Whole Woman’s Health, a chain of abortion clinics throughout Texas, was the plaintiff in the 2016 Supreme Court case.

The suit also claims the University of Texas System, which includes 14 public universities in Texas, is discriminatory as it does not permit students to receive credit for internships at locations that provide abortions, nor does it place students in field rotations at places that offer abortions.

The laws being challenged by the lawsuit are hardly unusual in the United States, nor are they unique to Texas. The majority of states have a mandatory waiting period of typically 18-72 hours before an abortion and require either parental notification or consent for a minor’s abortion. Twenty-three states have laws requiring abortion providers to perform an ultrasound before an abortion or inform women about the availability of an ultrasound.

Foster noted that courts have acknowledged and upheld abortion regulations as an important part of protecting women’s health and safety.

“[The abortion industry] would prefer that women not know what the Supreme Court has...acknowledged that abortion can be risky to a pregnant woman’s health, and thus states have an ‘important interest’ in protecting women’s health and a ‘legitimate interest in seeing to it that abortion, like any other procedure, is performed under circumstances that ensure maximum safety for the patient’,” she said.

Americans United for Life has released a report documenting hundreds of safety violations in various abortion facilities throughout the United States, including in Texas. The report claims that clinics have had instances of unlicensed staff, poor protocol and unsanitary medical conditions, at times resulting in severe health complications or death for patients.