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Federal money to go to Texas women's health program without abortion providers

Austin, Texas, Jan 23, 2020 / 03:01 pm (CNA).- A Texas women’s health program that bars funding for health care providers that perform abortions has been approved for federal funding by the Trump administration, making it the first program to receive federal Medicaid funding while excluding abortion providers.

The Department of Health and Human Services approved the Medicaid waiver for the Healthy Texas Women program, which helps provide health care and family planning services to tens of thousands of women, the Dallas Morning News reports. The waiver is an administrative procedure that allows federal money for states that experiment in new ways to provide health care to the poor and disabled.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott welcomed the waiver, saying, “The Lone Star State is once again in partnership with the federal government to provide meaningful family planning and health services while fostering a culture of life.”

“This collaboration is a symbol of our commitment to championing the lives of Texas women. I am grateful to President Trump and his administration for approving this waiver, and for his commitment to protecting the unborn while providing much-needed health resources to Texas women,” Abbott said Jan. 22.

The Healthy Texas Women program was launched in 2007 under the name the Women’s Health Program. It served about 173,000 low-income women in 2018. The waiver, approved through December 2024, will fund services for over 200,000 clients a year, the governor’s office said. Federal funds will total about $350 million over five years, while the state will contribute about $100 million over that time.

The Obama administration refused to renew federal funding for the program because Texas would not fund abortion providers or affiliates. The funds did not go to abortions.

Before Planned Parenthood was dropped from funding, the organization served about 40 percent of the women in the program, providing birth control, cancer screenings, and other services. The funds did not go to abortions.

As the largest abortion provider in the U.S., however, any funding of Planned Parenthood has drawn critical attention from foes of abortion.

The Trump administration’s action drew praise from pro-life groups.

"Texas is a state that values life, and we are proud to see President Trump stand with us on this issue. Texas is proving it is possible to both care for women and protect life," Jonathan Saenz, President of Texas Values, commented Jan. 23.

“President Trump has repeatedly kept his promise to stop taxpayer funding of the big abortion industry including Planned Parenthood. Abortion is not health care,” said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “When Texas lawmakers exercised their right to fund women’s health care without underwriting abortion businesses, they were punished by the Obama administration and smeared by abortion activists and their media allies.”

Dannenfelser said that Planned Parenthood’s latest annual report shows “massive increases in both abortions and taxpayer funding at the same time they have seen steep declines in their number of patients, cancer screening and prevention services, breast exams, pap tests, and even contraceptive services.”

“Restoring Texas’s decision regarding use of federal funds is an acknowledgement that the Lone Star State was right all along,” said Dannenfelser, calling on President Trump and HHS Secretary Alex Azar “to immediately free all states to act on the will of their citizens to support women’s health care without encouraging abortion.”

Planned Parenthood Texas Votes said the waiver upends “longstanding federal policy.”

“Reproductive health care has been under constant attack for more than a decade in Texas and extreme politicians in the state have only been emboldened by support from the Trump administration,” the group said.

The Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities, a left-leaning group, said in 2017 that fewer women were being served than before Planned Parenthood was removed from the program. Enrollment dropped by 24% and 39% fewer of those enrolled accessed health centers.

In 2016, the state contracted with the evangelical Heidi Group to help provide services. The group failed to fulfill its promise to serve 50,000 women and the state ended its contract in 2018, the Dallas Morning News reports.

Aiming for pastoral presence in Philadelphia, Perez says he learned from Chaput

Philadelphia, Pa., Jan 23, 2020 / 01:35 pm (CNA).- The next Archbishop of Philadelphia said Thursday that he is glad for a homecoming to his native archdiocese, that he is inspired by the example of his predecessor, and that he aims to make pastoral presence the hallmark of his spiritual leadership.

Archbishop-elect Nelson Perez of Philadelphia said at a press conference Jan. 23 he is inspired by the “steadfastness” and “profound faith” of Archbishop Charles Chaput, his predecessor.

“I watched it from afar, learned from him—just watching him—how steadfast he was, and with profound faith, that while things were tough that God would make a way,” Perez said of Chaput who served as Philadelphia’s archbishop since 2011, “that somehow, someway, all things happen for the good of those who love God, as St. Paul said.”

“And he did that many times even in the midst of criticism,” he added, “but he was steadfast in his love for you and his love for the Church.”

On Thursday, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput—submitted, according to Church practice, on his 75th birthday in September—and selected one of Philadelphia’ former priests, Bishop Nelson Perez of Cleveland, as Chaput’s replacement.

Archbishop-elect Perez’s installation Mass will be Feb. 18 at Philadelphia’s Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. Perez served as Cleveland’s bishop since 2017, after serving five years as auxiliary bishop of Rockville Centre, New York.

When he is installed as archbishop, Perez will oversee almost 1.3 million Catholics and 214 parishes in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia archdiocese will likely face parish and school closures in the months to come. Perez acknowledged he will need to make decisions about those matters soon.

When asked by CNA on Thursday about his pastoral ministry, Perez began with one word: “presence.”

“I’m certainly not going to sit behind a desk. The role of the bishop is to be out and about,” he said, noting that in Cleveland he estimated he spent around 60% of his time visiting parishes and meeting with young people.

Outgoing Archbishop Chaput was often characterized in the press as a “culture warrior” who took “conservative” positions on controversial issues. The New York Times on Thursday suggested Chaput’s successor would embody a different vision for the Church in Philadelphia.

Perez balked at any notion that he and Chaput are at odds as bishops.

“We both definitely walk with the Church,” he told CNA.

During Thursday’s press conference announcing the appointment, Chaput heaped praise on the former Philadelphia priest. Perez, 58 years old, was born in Miami and raised in New Jersey but attended seminary at Philadelphia’s St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. He was ordained a priest of the archdiocese in 1989 and served for more than 20 years before moving to Rockville Centre in 2012.

Chaput told the press that he described his ideal successor last year to the apostolic nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Christophe Pierre.

“I asked for a successor who would care for and guide our people, speak the truth with conviction and charity, and live a faithful witness to Jesus Christ,” Chaput recalled.

“He [Perez] was enthusiastically supported and very well loved by the people he served as pastor. And for good reason,” Chaput said.

“He’s a good man, a man of deep Catholic faith, with the skills, character, and warmth that will make him an exceptional leader here in Philadelphia. He is exactly the man with exactly the abilities our Church needs.”

Perez admitted he is grateful to come back to the place of his ordination.

“Once a Philadelphia priest, always a Philadelphia priest,” he said on Thursday. “You carry it kind of inside you.”

Regarding his predecessor, “I am concerned of the shoes I have to fill,” Perez said. He noted that even after he left Philadelphia, he and Chaput would text and email each other, and that the archbishop had been a “mentor and brother bishop” to him.
 
When he was appointed auxiliary bishop of Rockville Centre in 2012, Perez said he visited Chaput at his residence. The archbishop disappeared into another room and came back to Perez with a pectoral cross.

“He put it around my neck and he said ‘you are now my brother bishop,’” Perez reflected on Thursday. “And ever since then, he’s been such a great support.”

At Thursday’s press conference, Perez wore the pectoral cross Chaput gave him.

Chaput had to make tough decisions for the good of the archdiocese and the Church, Perez said, “many times like a father has to do in a family.”

“He made calls that today, have placed the archdiocese in a way better place,” he said. “In particular we need to thank God and praise God for this man.”

As the son of Cuban immigrants, Perez has had a longtime focus on Hispanic ministry, leading Hispanic ministry efforts in Philadelphia, Rockville Centre, and on the national stage, as the former chair of the U.S. bishops’ sub-Committee for Hispanic Affairs.

Perez also helped lead the V Encuentro process for the USCCB, a national gathering of more than 3,000 Hispanic Catholic leaders that outlined evangelization priorities for the U.S. Church.

The most pressing issue for the Hispanic Church in the U.S., he told CNA, is reaching second- and third-generation immigrants who are culturally but not linguistically Hispanic. Studies have shown a decline in religious practice with each succeeding generation of immigrant Catholic families.

“We have to create a pastoral style that is Hispanic in culture and nature, but in the English language,” he told CNA.

 

Archbishop Chaput says successor is 'exactly the man our church needs'

IMAGE: CNS photo/Sarah Webb, CatholicPh

By Matthew Gambino

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- Proclaiming his successor as "exactly the man our church needs," Archbishop Charles J. Chaput introduced Bishop Nelson J. Perez, whom Pope Francis named as the next archbishop of Philadelphia, at a Jan. 23 news conference in Philadelphia.

He will be installed as archbishop Feb. 18 at 2 p.m. in the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul.

The pope had announced the appointment while accepting the resignation of Archbishop Chaput, who last September turned 75, the age at which canon law requires that bishops turn in their resignation to the pope.

Anticipation for his successor had been building intensely in the archdiocese since that time, and judging by the applause in the room filled with more than 100 archdiocesan staff, it was a warm welcome home for Archbishop Perez, 58, currently the bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland.

He described his appointment as a "surreal moment" for a former priest of the archdiocese to be named its new shepherd.

Archbishop Perez is the first archbishop of Philadelphia of Hispanic heritage; his parents emigrated from Cuba and he was born in Miami in 1961. He also is the first native son to be archbishop of Philadelphia since Archbishop (later Cardinal) Dennis Dougherty in the early 20th century.

And at 58, he is the youngest archbishop since Cardinal John Krol arrived in Philadelphia in 1961 at age 50.

Cleveland and Philadelphia also share a renewed bond in that the new archbishop led that diocese and Cardinal Krol was an auxiliary bishop there before being appointed to Philadelphia.

Archbishop Perez was ordained a priest for the archdiocese in 1989 and one of his ordination classmates joined him at the news conference: Father Gary Pacitti, pastor of St. Basil the Great in Kimberton. Archbishop Perez referred to him not only as a friend but "like my brother."

It was a sentiment that he extended to all his brother priests of the archdiocese and he would mention the strong priestly fellowship here several times during his remarks.

"You know, once a Philadelphia priest, always a Philadelphia priest," he said. "So the part of me that has that identity inside of me cannot wrap its head around being the Archbishop of Philadelphia. It doesn't compute. But it is what the Lord wants and what the Holy Father wants."

He said it is "awesome" to return Philadelphia with people who are faith-filled, who love the Lord, love the church. So I'm grateful to the Holy Father for placing this huge trust in me that I really don't deserve."

After studies at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary and his priestly ordination, then-Father Perez served at St. Ambrose Parish in Philadelphia, worked in ministry to Hispanic Catholics of the archdiocese and led two parishes, St. William in Philadelphia and St. Agnes in West Chester, before he was ordained an auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of Rockville Center, New York.

In 2017, he was named bishop of Cleveland and at the news conference he praised the people of that diocese, especially its Catholic young adults who "were a great source of joy" for him. He added that he "hoped to reach out to the young adults here" in Philadelphia.

Archbishop Perez also singled out praise for Archbishop Chaput, whom he called a friend and mentor.

Acknowledging the challenges of the past eight years in Philadelphia ranging from parish and school closures to financial crises to a wounded morale for both clergy and laity due to the sexual abuse crisis, Archbishop Chaput confronted them "with great courage and steadfastness," Archbishop Perez said.

"I watched it from afar (and) learned from him, how steadfast he was and with profound faith that while things were tough, that God would make a way, that somehow, someway all things happen for the good of those who love God, as St. Paul said."

Even in the midst of criticism, "I saw him make tough decisions, many times like a father. He made calls that today have placed the archdiocese in a way better place. We owe him a profound debt along with our gratitude (and) our love," Archbishop Perez said, inviting everyone to applaud his predecessor.

After the installation Mass, Archbishop Chaput will begin his retirement. For the first three months, he will have no public appointments as he takes up residence at St. Edmond's Home for Children, an archdiocesan facility in Rosemont for children with intellectual and physical disabilities.

After that period, he said, he will assist Archbishop Perez as needed and accept some writing and speaking engagements.

In his remarks Archbishop Perez offered a special greeting in Spanish to the Hispanic Catholics of the archdiocese, encouraging them in "a missionary church, in the life of our community and in the truth of the Gospel," he said.

He had previously served in diocesan-wide ministry to Latino Catholics in the 1990s and as pastor led two archdiocesan parishes with significant Hispanic populations.

He did not leave the clergy sexual abuse scandal unaddressed. "I and we continue to pray for your healing," he said of victims abused by members of the church, "and we hold deep within our hearts those who have been hurt. It never should have happened, and we are sorry."

Archbishop Perez appeared to describe his vision for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as he cited the words of Pope Francis, calling for "a community of missionary disciples" that will be "ever vibrant and powerful in the church here in Philadelphia," a community that "takes initiative" and is "engaged in the world around it, accompanies with the truth of the Gospel, is fruitful and is joyful."

Acknowledging the challenges of the present and the future that he may face in Philadelphia, Archbishop Perez said he was not afraid to "do what needs to be done for the good of the family."

Although the church has "gone through difficult moments in the last two decades, heart-wrenching moments ... the church is still here because the church is Christ. We (members of the church) come and go. The mystical body of Christ, the church, has to deal with us in our humanity, and we're complex human beings. But God works through us. So I have great hope for the church, despite everything you read."

He offered an encouragement to his listeners at the news conference and those watching it livestreamed on the internet: "Never underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit working in you, through you, and despite you," he said.

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Gambino is director and general manager of CatholicPhilly.com, the news website of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

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Little Sisters of the Poor return to court to fight birth control mandate

As someone who believes that women have a right to birth control but also believes that government should respect people’s religious beliefs, I see this controversy as both a tragedy and a farce. If there had been goodwill on both sides, litigation would not have been necessary. In fact, each side was suspicious of the other and any kind of deal became impossible.

Marchers 'deeply honored' Trump to address pro-life crowd in person

Pro-life supporters are "deeply honored to welcome" President Donald Trump to the 47th annual March for Life Jan. 24 rally in person, said Jeanne Mancini, March for Life president, in a statement late Jan. 22. Trump announced he will speak at the march on the National Mall, becoming the first sitting president in history to do so.

St. Timothy's relics moved to Rome for Week of Christian Unity

Vatican City, Jan 23, 2020 / 10:28 am (CNA).- The relics of St. Timothy are in Rome this week for veneration during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

The relics of St. Paul’s “beloved disciple” will remain in a side altar of the Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls through Jan. 25, when Pope Francis will visit the basilica to pray vespers on the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.

On Jan. 26, Timothy’s relics will be moved to St. Peter’s Basilica for the papal Mass celebrating the first Sunday of the Word of God, instituted by Pope Francis as a day to promote knowledge and love of Scripture.

St. Timothy has come to be considered a symbol of unity, particularly among Orthodox Christians and Catholics. In 2011, Russian Orthodox and Catholic bishops met in Termoli, Italy to pray and venerate Timothy’s relics together.

“The fact that Timothy is a reference for the brothers of the Eastern churches opens us to a specific and special vocation to ecumenism as a desire to meet each person and to communicate to that person the love and closeness of God,” Bishop Gianfranco De Luca of Termoli-Larino, Italy said when the relics were moved from Termoli to Rome Jan. 17.

St. Timothy’s relics were discovered in Termoli in 1945 during restoration work on the crypt of the cathedral.

Covered by a marble tombstone, the restorers found an inscription in the marble tile stating: “In the year of the Lord 1239. Here rest in peace the body of the blessed Timothy disciple of the blessed Apostle.”

The Church celebrates the feast of Saints Timothy and Titus on Jan. 26.

The son of a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father, Timothy came from Lystra in present-day Turkey. His mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois, are known to have joined the Church, and Timothy himself is described as a student of Sacred Scripture from his youth.

After St. Paul’s visit to Timothy’s home region of Lycaonia, around the year 51, the young man joined the apostle and accompanied him in his travels. Timothy remained in the city of Berea to help the local church after religious strife forced Paul to leave. Paul later sent him to Thessalonica to help the Church during a period of persecution.

The two met up again in Corinth, and Timothy eventually journeyed to Macedonia on Paul’s behalf. Problems in the Corinthian Church brought Timothy back for a time, after which he joined Paul and accompanied the apostle in subsequent travels.

Like Paul, Timothy endured a period of imprisonment in the course of his missionary work. His release is mentioned in the New Testament Epistle to the Hebrews.

Around the year 64, Timothy became the first bishop of the Church of Ephesus. During that same year, he received the first of two surviving letters from St. Paul. The second, written the next year, urges Timothy to visit St. Paul in Rome, where he was imprisoned before his martyrdom.

Ancient sources state that St. Timothy followed his mentor in dying as a martyr for the faith. In the year 93, during his leadership of the Church in Ephesus, he took a stand against the worship of idols and was consequently killed by a mob. The pagan festival he was protesting was held Jan. 22, and this date was preserved as St. Timothy’s memorial in the Christian East.

Teaching about farming also cultivates faith at Florida Catholic school

Trinity Catholic High School in Ocala, which rests on several acres of beautiful landscape housing multiple buildings, a massive football stadium, and even a small, fenced-off section to keep the livestock safe, merges Catholicism and agriculture into one learned experience that serves its students long after they graduate.

Links for 1/23/20

Michael Sean Winters rounds up political news and commentary: Ethicists on the Soleimani assassination; bystanderism and the lessons of the Holocaust; taking down "political hobbyists"; rebuilding Notre Dame.

Vatican rejoins financial intelligence network after raid

A global network of financial intelligence units has readmitted the Holy See after a two-month suspension sparked by a Vatican police raid on the Vatican's financial watchdog agency.

Trump: Travel ban expansion coming, nations aren't yet final

President Donald Trump said Jan.22 the U.S. would soon be imposing visa restrictions on more countries — though it's not clear yet how many nations will be affected by his expansion of the travel ban.