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Camden diocese dedicates youth center to Blessed Carlo Acutis

CNA Staff, Oct 24, 2020 / 06:01 am (CNA).- The Bishop of Camden blessed a retreat center earlier this month, naming it for newly Blessed Carlo Acutis, an Italian teenager who dedicated his talents to sharing his love for the Eucharist.

Bishop Dennis Sullivan led the inauguration of the Blessed Carlo Acutis Youth Center in Absecon, 50 miles southeast of Camden, Oct. 8. He was joined by numerous students from Holy Spirit High School.

The event also involved Father Perry Cherubini, the president of Holy Spirit; Father Joshua Nevitt, the school’s director of Catholic identity; and Father Cosme de la Pena, pastor of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton parish.

Located across the street from the high school, the Blessed Carlo Acutis Youth Center was previously used as a convent.

Bishop Sullivan said Acutis’ example is a demonstration that senior citizens, “goody-two-shoes,” or priests are not the only people who can lead a life of holiness. He focused on the young saint’s youthful and humble piety as well as his dedication to the Eucharist and the poor.

“Holiness is possible for you,” the bishop told the high school students, noting that the young Italian was buried wearing sneakers and jeans. He stressed the value of using modern communication means to spread the faith.

Blessed Acutis died from leukemia at the age of 15 in 2006, and was beatified at the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi Oct. 10. Born in 1991, Acutis is the first millennial to be beatified.

The beatification drew an estimated 3,000 people to Assisi, including Acutis’ friends, family, and pilgrims inspired by his witness. The feast day of Carlo Acutis will be observed Oct. 12.

The young Italian had enjoyed computer science and video games. However, he also used his computer programming skills to spread devotion to the Eucharist and offered his suffering from cancer for the Church.

“Since he was a child … he had his gaze turned to Jesus. Love for the Eucharist was the foundation that kept alive his relationship with God. He often said ‘The Eucharist is my highway to heaven’,” Cardinal Agostino Vallini said in his homily for the beatification.

“Carlo felt a strong need to help people discover that God is close to us and that it is beautiful to be with him to enjoy his friendship and his grace.”

Pope Francis names new Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

Vatican City, Oct 24, 2020 / 04:06 am (CNA).- Pope Francis named Italian Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa as the new Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Saturday.

Pizzaballa has served as apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem since 2016, while the office of Latin Patriarch has remained vacant. 

The Oct. 24 appointment ends a four-year wait for the estimated 293,000 Latin Catholics in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan, and Cyprus for a new patriarch. 

Pizzaballa, a 55-year-old Franciscan friar, has lived in the Holy Land since 1990. The former Franciscan Custos of the Holy Land succeeds Jordanian-born Patriarch Emeritus Fouad Twal, who led the patriarchate from 2008 to 2016.

When Pizzaballa was appointed apostolic administrator, the Latin Patriarchate was on the verge of bankruptcy from debts amounting to more than $100 million.

In an interview with EWTN News in Rome on Wednesday, Pizzaballa said: “They have been four difficult years. I had a very clear mandate: first to put order in the administration.”

He reorganized the patriarchate’s financial management, put in place new internal and external controls, and created more transparency.

He was able to pay the debt with help from international donations, by cutting expenses, and with some property sales in Nazareth.

As apostolic administrator, Pizzaballa oversaw the patriarchate together with the Italian-born auxiliary Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, whose resignation, for the reason of age, was accepted by Pope Francis in August.

Pizzaballa -- who speaks Italian, Hebrew, and English -- told EWTN News that he was also given the task of improving the pastoral situation in the Holy Land, including creating more unity among the priests and the different Christian communities in Jordan, Israel, Palestine, and Cyprus.

He wanted to show “what we have in common,” he said. “And to create understanding, trust, among the different communities in the same diocese.”

“In the beginning, it was very difficult. But once we have been transparent, I felt that all the community was very supportive and so we could overcome all our problems and turn the page finally,” he said.

Pizzaballa was born in Cologno al Serio, Bergamo, Italy, on April 21, 1965. He joined the Franciscans in 1984, making his solemn profession in 1989. He was ordained to the priesthood on September 15, 1990. A month later, he moved to the Holy Land, studying biblical theology at the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum in Jerusalem.

He served as Vicar of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem for the pastoral care of Hebrew-speaking Catholics in Israel. He oversaw the publication of the Roman Missal in Hebrew in 1995.

He was Custos of the Holy Land -- the major superior of the Friars Minor in the Middle East -- from 2004 to 2016. He was appointed apostolic administrator sede vacante of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem on June 24, 2016.

One of Pizzaballa’s most pressing challenges as Latin Patriarch will be to help Latin Catholics in the Holy Land to weather the coronavirus crisis, which has had a severe economic impact on the community.

The Latin Patriarchate welcomed the news of Pizzaballa’s appointment.

“With feelings of joy and gratitude, the family of the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem, Amman, Nazareth, and Cyprus, in particular the bishops, patriarchal vicars, priests, deacons, seminarians, religious men and women, consecrated men and women, the People of God in all the parishes as well as the workers in the diocesan institutions, congratulates the new Patriarch wishing His Beatitude success in carrying out his exceptional responsibilities, especially in these unusual circumstances,” the patriarchate said in an Oct. 24. statement.

“May His Beatitude be granted good health and divine blessing to continue serving our Local Church, while promoting peace, justice, and reconciliation.”

Analysis: How the Washington Post is opening the path to use the pope against the Catholic Church

Denver Newsroom, Oct 23, 2020 / 11:05 pm (CNA).-  

Amid an international fracas over Pope Francis’ words on civil unions in a newly released documentary, the pope’s remarks have begun to be used to criticize Catholic organizations facing ongoing religious liberty challenges in the U.S. – despite the pope’s very public alignment with these organizations on the issues of same sex marriages and adoptions.

In “Francesco,” a documentary that premiered Wednesday, Pope Francis called for the passage of civil union laws, saying that homosexual couples need to be “covered” by the state.

The pope also affirmed that “homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family,” emphasizing that “nobody should be thrown out” of a family because of homosexuality, or “be made miserable.” Since the documentary’s release, those remarks have been proven to relate to children ostracized in their families because of their sexual orientation, while in the film they are presented absent this context, the result of heavy editing, with ambiguous implications.

The pope’s remarks have been distorted  to suggest a tacit endorsement of adoption by same-sex couples, something Pope Francis has actually consistently opposed during – and prior to– his pontificate.

The Supreme Court is set to hear Fulton v. City of Philadelphia on Nov. 4, a case that could impact faith-based adoption and foster care agencies affected by state and local non-discrimination ordinances around the country.
 
In 2018, the city of Philadelphia notified Catholic Social Services, as well as Bethany Christian Services, that their policies of not working with same-sex couples on foster care placements were discriminatory; the city stopped contracting with both services.

Catholic Social Services declined to alter its policy and has not had any new foster care placements through the city.

Litigation against the city was filed by Sharonell Fulton and Toni Simms-Busch, who have fostered more than 40 children. The lawsuit has now made its way to the Supreme Court.

On Wednesday, the Washington Post’s editorial board commented on the case:

“The U.S. Supreme Court will soon hear a case about whether a Catholic social services agency is entitled to continue receiving public funds if it refuses to place children in foster care with same-sex couples. Is the church’s position in that case consistent with the pope’s humane assessment that all people are entitled to enjoy the blessings of family life?”

The Post’s editorial did not reference the Pope’s clear record on the issue of such adoptions.  

The pope does not support the adoption of children by same-sex couples. He has said that through such adoptions children are “deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God.” He has also said that “every person needs a male father and a female mother that can help them shape their identity.”

In fact, according to a long-time theological advisor of the pope, Archbishop Victor Fernandez, the pope’s long-standing opposition to gay marriage is, in part, motivated by his basic Catholic understanding that children should have both a mother and a father. In Argentina, it is well known that Francis’ openness to a civil union law in 2010 was based on his hope that compromise on civil unions would forestall gay marriage, and with it the redefinition of the family.

Efforts to redefine the family through same-sex marriage, Francis said in 2015, “threaten to disfigure God’s plan for creation and betray the very values which have inspired and shaped all that is best in your culture.”

Despite that evidence, it seems unlikely that the Washington Post will be the last outlet or organization to make use of the pope’s words to suggest that Catholic organizations should change their policies.

While his meaning was not the same, the pope’s assertion that same-sex couples “have a right to a family,” makes use of a phrase that has been used by LGBT activists in many countries for the past two decades to insist on the legal right for gay couples to adopt. That phrase, quite apart from the context, is almost certain to become a rallying cry for advocates who want to claim falsely the pope’s support for their initiatives, both in the U.S., and elsewhere.

On Thursday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro asked his country’s legislature to consider a same-sex marriage bill, citing the words of the pope. In the developing world, Maduro will not be the last politician to use that approach.

While spin is rampant, and is likely to increase, and while the Holy See has yet to address the controversy, one thing is clear: there is no evidence to suggest that pope has deviated from his long and public opposition to same sex marriage and adoption by same sex couples.  

 

Former spiritual director of 'Medjugorje visionaries' excommunicated

CNA Staff, Oct 23, 2020 / 05:48 pm (CNA).- A laicized priest who had been the spiritual director to six people who said they experienced visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Bosnian town of Medjugorje has been excommunicated.

Tomislav Vlasic, who had been a Franciscan priest until he was laicized in 2009, was excommunicated July 15 by a decree of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Vatican. The excommunication was announced this week by the Diocese of Brescia, Italy, where the laicized priest lives.

The Brescia diocese said that since his laicization, Vlasic “has continued to carry out apostolic activities with individuals and groups, through conferences and online; he has continued to present himself as a religious and priest of the Catholic Church, simulating the celebration of sacraments.”

The diocese said Vlasic has been the source of “serious scandal to Catholics,” by disobeying the directives of ecclesiastical authorities.

When he was laicized, Vlasic was forbidden from teaching or engaging in apostolic work, and especially from teaching about Medjugorje.

He was in 2009 accused of teaching false doctrine, manipulating consciences, disobeying ecclesiastical authority, and of committing acts of sexual misconduct.

A person who is excommunicated is prohibited from receiving the sacramentals until the penalty has been lifted.

Alleged Marian apparitions in Medjugorje have long been a subject of controversy in the Church, which have been investigated by the Church but not yet authenticated or rejected.

The alleged apparitions began June 24, 1981, when six children in Medjugorje, a town in what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina, began to experience phenomena which they have claimed to be apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

According to these six “seers,” the apparitions contained a message of peace for the world, a call to conversion, prayer and fasting, as well as certain secrets surrounding events to be fulfilled in the future.

Since their beginning, the alleged apparitions have been a source of both controversy and conversion, with many flocking to the city for pilgrimage and prayer, and some claiming to have experienced miracles at the site, while many others claim the visions are non-credible.

In January 2014, a Vatican commission concluded a nearly four-year-long investigation on the doctrinal and disciplinary aspects of the Medjugorje apparitions, and submitted a document to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

When the congregation has analyzed the commission’s findings, it will finalize a document on the alleged apparitions, which will be submitted to the pope, who will make a final decision.

Pope Francis approved Catholic pilgrimages to Medjugorje in May 2019, but he has not made a deliberation on the authenticity of the apparitions.

Those alleged apparitions “still require an examination by the Church,” papal spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said in a statement May 12, 2019.

The pope permitted pilgrimages “as an acknowledgment of the “abundant fruits of grace” that have come from Medjugorje and to promote those “good fruits.” It is also part of the "particular pastoral attention" of Pope Francis to the place, Gisotti said.

Pope Francis visited Bosnia and Herzegovina in June 2015 but declined to stop in Medjugorje during his trip. During his return flight to Rome, he indicated that the process of investigation in the apparitions was nearly complete.

On the return flight from a visit to the Marian shrine of Fatima in May 2017, the pope spoke about the final document of the Medjugorje commission, sometimes referred to as the “Ruini report,” after the head of the commission, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, calling it “very, very good,” and noting a distinction between the first Marian apparitions at Medjugorje and the later ones.

“The first apparitions, which were to children, the report more or less says that these need to continue being studied,” he said, but as for “presumed current apparitions, the report has its doubts,” the pope said.

Santa Fe archdiocese again suspending public Mass

Denver Newsroom, Oct 23, 2020 / 04:37 pm (CNA).- The Archdiocese of Santa Fe is indefinitely suspending all public Masses after the weekend, citing rising COVID-19 cases in New Mexico and the approaching flu season.

The archdiocese’s schools may remain open.

In an Oct. 22 letter, Archbishop John Wester directed that all scheduled Masses be livestreamed or recorded starting Oct. 25. He said churches may remain open for private prayer, as long as people remain masked and socially distanced.

Funerals should be “delayed if possible,” with funeral rites without a Mass having ten or fewer people present, and anointing of the sick may continue “with due care,” he added.

Archbishop Wester said that “hospitals are also reaching maximum capacity for treating patients.”

The archbishop said there has been “no significant increase in the number of cases in our Catholic schools,” and thus Catholic schools may remain open “in accordance with the judgment of the pastor, superintendent and principals.” He said schools should prepare to provide online instruction if the need arises.

The archdiocese did not respond to CNA’s inquiry about whether there have been any outbreaks of the virus associated with the celebration of Mass in the archdiocese.

Since May 16-17, churches in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe have been allowed to reopen for the public celebration of Mass in line with phase one of the governor’s reopening guidelines, initially allowing for attendance set at 10% of building capacity, which was later expanded to 25%.

Under guidelines posted on the archdiocesan website, various restrictions on the celebration of the liturgy remain in place, including a prohibition on congregants singing.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has not issued any new orders telling houses of worship in the state to close again, but urged all residents Oct. 23 to “stay home,” to wear a mask, and to avoid crowds.

Medical experts have told CNA that the celebration of Mass during the pandemic in the United States has been shown to be safe as long as safety guidelines are followed.

In August, doctors Thomas McGovern, Deacon Timothy Flanigan, and Paul Cieslak authored an article for Real Clear Science on Mass attendance and COVID-19. At that point, the doctors said, Catholic parishes had celebrated over a million public Masses in the United States since shelter-in-place orders were lifted.

At the time of their writing, “for Catholic churches following guidelines, no outbreaks of COVID-19 have been linked to church attendance.” Even in a few cases where asymptomatic infected individuals attended Mass, following the guidelines prevented outbreaks: maintaining distance, mask wearing, and washing hands.

“The few churches that have been reported as sources of COVID-19 outbreaks did not follow social distancing or require masks; they also promoted congregational singing,” the doctors stated.

The doctors said in their article that there is no evidence that church services are higher risk than similar activities when guidelines are followed.

In July priests in the archdiocese were warned they could lose the faculty to preach if they give homilies longer than five minutes.

Fr. Glennon Jones, archdiocesan vicar general, wrote in a July 31 memo to priests that the chancery had “received reports of some homilies going on for well over the 5-minute limit set by the Archbishop.”

“If such homilies continue, [Archbishop John Wester] will consider severer [sic] actions for subject clergy,” Fr. Jones wrote, “up to and including possible suspension of the faculty to preach.”

Lujan Grisham announced new coronavirus restrictions on restaurants, museums, and stores Oct. 20.

Retail businesses in the state will have to close by 10 pm daily, and state-operated museums and historical sites will be required to shut down completely, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.

New Mexico recorded 827 new cases Oct. 21, a single-day record.

Public schools in the state have reported 264 COVID-19 cases in 157 schools, with 157 infected staff members and 97 infected students, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.

Lujan Grisham had closed non-essential businesses March 24, and banned “mass gatherings” of five or more people in the state.

Churches were initially exempt from the ban, although all of New Mexico’s Catholic dioceses stopped public Masses by the end of March to help curb the spread of the virus.

On April 11, Lujan Grisham extended the ban on “mass gatherings” to include houses of worship.

On April 15, Bishop Peter Baldacchino of Las Cruces announced that he would resume public Masses, being the first US diocese to reopen public Masses. He allowed for Masses to be offered outdoors with attendees spaced more than six feet apart, or inside churches with fewer than five people present.

Argentine bishops call bill to legalize abortion ‘untenable’

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct 23, 2020 / 04:25 pm (CNA).- The Catholic bishops of Argentina have blasted a plan to introduce an abortion legalization bill in the country, saying it is “untenable and inappropriate” to prioritize abortion during an ongoing pandemic.

An advisor to President Alberto Fernández announced that an abortion legalization bill would be introduced in the legislature at the end of October, El Día newspaper reported.

Fernández, who took office last year, has pledged to legalize abortion in Argentina. The country currently allows abortion in cases when the mother's life or health is in danger, or in cases of rape.

A legislative debate on the legalization of abortion was originally planned in March, but was postponed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Just as the dignity of life and the promotion of human rights are central concepts in an authentically democratic agenda,” the Catholic bishops’ conference said in an Oct. 22 statement, “the general public health situation…makes any attempt to introduce and discuss a law like this untenable and inappropriate.”

The coronavirus pandemic has underscored the state’s duty to care for the life and health of its people, the bishops said, and “not taking care of all lives, all Life, would be a very serious fault by a State that wants to protect its inhabitants.”

The bishops called for “political prudence” aimed at fostering unity in a wounded society.

“When the spirit of Argentines overcomes extreme situations with patience, ingenuity and hope –even in the face of families losing their loved ones; when we suffer from the humiliating increase in the number of ever poorer households; in a school year that left a large number of students on the sidelines and exposed the inequality of resources and means; when heroic healthcare workers, exhausted by superhuman effort, cry out to us to care for life; common sense - which abounds in ordinary people - reveals to us that there is no place to think about legislation that contradicts the discourse that says that taking care of all Argentines is a priority,” they said.

Other pro-life groups also criticized the plan to move forward with a legislative debate regarding abortion.

“Seriously, is abortion a priority in the middle of a crisis?” the group Prolife Unity said on social media. “Argentines need a State that takes care of them, that lifts them out of poverty and doesn’t abandon them. Abortion was not and is not a priority.”

Pro-life organizations have planned a pro-life caravan to drive by the Quinta de Olivos presidential residence on October 24 to protest the upcoming debate and possible legalization of abortion.

 

Mississippi asks US Supreme Court to solve circuit court split with 15 week abortion case

CNA Staff, Oct 23, 2020 / 02:01 pm (CNA).- The Mississippi Attorney General on Thursday urged the US Supreme Court to hear a case regarding the state’s ban on most abortions from 15 weeks into pregnancy, citing a circuit split over a question raised in the suit.

Lynn Fitch submitted a brief petitioning for writ of certiorari in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Oct. 22.

“The circuit split...continues to grow,” she wrote, over the question “whether the validity of a pre-viability law that protects women’s health, the dignity of unborn children, and the integrity of the medical profession and society should be analyzed under Casey’s ‘undue burden’ standard or Hellerstedt’s balancing of benefits and burdens.”

“This case remains an ideal vehicle to promptly resolve both that question and the first question presented—the contradictions in this Court’s decisions over use of ‘viability’ as a bright line for measuring pro-life legislation,” Fitch stated.

Fitch noted that in a recent case, a panel of the Fifth Circuit acknowledged that its decision conflicted with one reached by the Eighth Circuit, and that the Sixth Circuit has “reached the exact opposite conclusion as the Fifth Circuit panel majority.”

The circuit split arises from differences in interpretation of the Supreme Court’s June decision in June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo, which struck down Louisiana’s requirement that abortion doctors have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

In December 2019 Judge Patrick Higginbotham of the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a district court ruling that blocked Mississippi’s 15 week abortion ban.

The law allows abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy when the mother’s life or a major bodily function is in danger, or when the unborn child has a severe abnormality and is not expected to be able to live outside the womb at full term. Exceptions are not granted for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. Physicians who knowingly violate the law can lose their state medical license.

Defending the law, Mississippi’s attorneys have argued that it has an interest in protecting the life of the unborn, as well as maternal health. They pointed to an increased risk of complications for the mother when abortion is performed further into the pregnancy. They have also made a case that unborn babies are capable of feeling pain prior to viability.

Higginbotham wrote that “In an unbroken line dating to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s abortion cases have established (and affirmed, and re-affirmed) a woman’s right to choose an abortion before viability. States may regulate abortion procedures prior to viability so long as they do not impose an undue burden on the woman’s right but they may not ban abortions.”

In July, Governor Tate Reeves signed into law the Life Equality Act, banning abortion based on sex, race, or genetic abnormality.

Trump and Biden clash on immigration and coronavirus during final debate

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Oct 23, 2020 / 01:30 pm (CNA).- Immigration and the coronavirus pandemic took center stage on Thursday’s final debate between President Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden, while issues like abortion and religious liberty were not up for discussion, as the candidates enter the final two weeks of the presidential campaign. 

The debate, hosted by Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, featured new rules designed to improve the flow of discussion. Because of COVID-19 concerns, the candidates were spread apart and had a plexiglass barrier in between them. 

The night started off with moderator Kristen Welker of NBC questioning the two candidates about how they would lead the country through the “next stage” of the pandemic. 

Trump defended his record, saying he “closed the greatest economy in the world” to fight the disease, and noted that the excess mortality rate was “way down” compared to other countries. He also said that a vaccine is “coming” and “ready,” and will be “announced within weeks.” 

When pressed, Trump said that there was “not a guarantee” on the timeline but that he thinks there is a “good chance” a vaccine will be announced “within a matter of weeks.” 

Biden attacked the president for not encouraging mask wearing earlier in the pandemic, and said that he had “no comprehensive plan” for tackling the virus, which has caused the deaths of more than 250,000 people in the country.

“What I would do is make sure we have everyone encouraged to wear a mask, all the time. I would make sure we move in the direction of rapid testing, investing in rapid testing. I would make sure that we set up national standards as to how to open up schools and open up businesses to be safe, and give them the wherewithal and financial resources to be able to do that,” said Biden. 

Biden said that a vaccine process must be “totally transparent” in order for Americans to be willing to actually take the vaccine. He also defended calling Trump “xenophobic” when the president restricted travel from China at the beginning of the pandemic, and then added that the president “did it late.” 

The former vice president said that while he would not immediately endorse another shutdown, he had not ruled out the possibility, should a community experience a high rate of cases. 

Trump, conversely, pressed for the increased opening of schools, and stated that “we’re not going to shut down.” 

Following the discussion of coronavirus, the debate shifted to national security and foreign policy, and then onto health care reform. 

Trump was questioned about the recent claim that more than 500 children separated at the border from their families could not be reunited as their parents could not be located. 

During the approximately two months that the administration enforced its “zero tolerance” policy, which included family separation, was in effect, about 3,000 children were separated from their parents, plus an additional 1,000 children who were separated from their parents during a pilot program of the policy in 2017.

Catholic leaders, both domestic and international, have repeatedly criticized the family separation policy. 

At the end of June 2018, the court ordered that the children be reunited with their families.

The president appeared to deflect the question, saying first that “Children are brought here by coyotes and lots of bad people, cartels, and they’re brought here and it’s easy to use them to get into our country.” 

Trump said that he was “working” on a plan to reunite these children with their families, but said that this was difficult as “a lot of these kids come up without the parents” via a cartel or coyote. 

 A “coyote” is a slang term for a person paid to smuggle people into the United States. 

Biden objected to these claims, saying that “these 500 plus kids came with parents” and were separated from them at the border. He also rejected the idea that coyotes were responsible for bringing children across the border, saying that “their parents were with them.” 

Biden and Trump sparred on the topic of the now-infamous “cages” that temporarily housed children who were separated from their parents at the border. 

Trump noted that the “cages” were built during the Obama administration,during which time President Obama was referred to as the “deporter-in-chief” for the record-high number of deportations during his time in office. 

Biden countered that the policy of separating families made a “laughingstock” of the country, and said the failure to achieve immigration reform during his vice presidency was “a mistake” and that he would create a pathway to citizenship for “over 11 million undocumented people” within the first 100 days of his presidency. 

During exchanges on healthcare, Trump credited himself with “terminating” the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act, which he called “the worst part of Obamacare.” 

“Now [the ACA] is in court, because Obamacare is no good,” said Trump. “No matter how well you run it, it’s no good. What we’d like to do is terminate it.” 

The president said that if Obamacare were “terminated,” he would “come up with a brand new beautiful healthcare” policy that would continue to protect people with pre-existing conditions. 

Biden said that, if elected, he would “pass Obamacare with a public option.” He referred to this as “Bidencare.” This public option would cover people who qualify for Medicaid but “do not have the wherewithal...to get Medicaid.” 

Biden said that he would not eliminate private insurance.

Two more Swiss Guards test positive for the coronavirus

Vatican City, Oct 23, 2020 / 01:00 pm (CNA).- The Pontifical Swiss Guard announced Friday that two more of its members have tested positive for the coronavirus. 

The world’s smallest but oldest standing army said in a statement Oct. 23 that a total of 13 guards had now contracted the virus, following tests on every member of the corps. 

“No guards were hospitalized. Not all guards necessarily show symptoms such as fever, joint pain, coughing, and loss of sense of smell,” the unit said, adding that the guards’ health would continue to be monitored.

“We hope for a prompt recovery so that the guards can resume service in the best possible way, in health and safety,” it said.

The Vatican confirmed last week that an initial four Swiss Guards had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Responding to journalists’ questions Oct. 12, Holy See press office director Matteo Bruni said that the four guards had been placed in isolation following positive tests.

Citing the Governorate of Vatican City State’s new measures to combat the virus, he explained that all guards would wear face masks, both indoors and outdoors, regardless of whether they were on duty. They would also observe all other rules intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The corps, which has 135 soldiers, announced Oct. 15 that seven more of its members had tested positive for the virus, taking the then total to 11. 

Italy was one of Europe’s worst-hit countries during the first wave of the coronavirus. More than 484,800 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and 37,059 have died in Italy as of Oct. 23, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. 

The Italian health ministry said Friday that the country had recorded 19,143 new cases over 24 hours -- a new daily record. Some 186,002 people are currently confirmed positive with the virus in Italy, with 19,821 of those in the Lazio region, which includes Rome.

Pope Francis received 38 new recruits to the Swiss Guards in an audience Oct. 2.

He told them: “The time you will spend here is a unique moment in your existence: may you live it with a spirit of brotherhood, helping one another to lead a life rich in meaning and joyfully Christian.”

Munich archdiocese: Church tax income rises as record numbers depart

Rome Newsroom, Oct 23, 2020 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- The German Archdiocese of Munich and Freising announced Friday that it received 665 million euros in income from the church tax last year, despite a record number of Catholics in the diocese formally leaving the Church.

Official figures released Oct. 23 showed that the archdiocese’s total assets were around 3.6 billion euros ($4.26 billion). That is 114 million euros more than last year, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.

In 2019, the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, in southern Germany, received a total of 887 million euros, of which 665 million euros, roughly $787.8 million dollars, came from the church tax.

If an individual is registered as a Catholic in Germany, an additional 8-9% of their income tax goes to the Church. The only way they can stop paying the tax is to make an official declaration renouncing their membership, after which they are no longer allowed to receive the sacraments or a Catholic burial.

Munich archdiocese’s church tax in 2019 brought in 20 million euros more than in 2018, when it totaled 645 million euros.

The archdiocese is led by Cardinal Reinhard Marx, coordinator of the Vatican Council for the Economy and a member of the pope’s Council of Cardinal Advisers. Marx was named Archbishop of Munich and Freising in 2007 by Pope Benedict XVI, who led the same archdiocese from 1977 to 1981.

Earlier this year the Munich statistics office told CNA Deutsch that 10,744 Catholics formally withdrew from the Church in Munich in 2019. Statisticians said this was the first time that annual departures had surpassed the 10,000 mark since records began.

The rise in the archdiocese’s church tax income in 2019, despite an exodus of Catholics, follows the pattern of the rest of the country. 

The Church in Germany received 6.76 billion euros from the church tax in 2019, an increase of more than 100 million euros compared to 2018. The rise is believed to be due to the growth of Germany’s economy in 2019.

While the number of Catholics abandoning the faith has increased steadily since the 1960s, the Church’s income has risen. In 2019, a record number of Catholics left the Church in Germany, with 272,771 people formally leaving. 

Last year the German bishops announced plans for a two-year “Synodal Way,” bringing together lay people and bishops to discuss four major topics: the way power is exercised in the Church; sexual morality; the priesthood; and the role of women.

They said that the process would end with a series of “binding” votes -- raising concerns at the Vatican that the resolutions might challenge Church teaching and discipline. 

In June 2019, Pope Francis sent a 28-page letter to German Catholics urging them to focus on evangelization in the face of a “growing erosion and deterioration of faith.”

“Every time an ecclesial community has tried to get out of its problems alone, relying solely on its own strengths, methods and intelligence, it has ended up multiplying and nurturing the evils it wanted to overcome,” he wrote.

In an address to the German bishops in 2015, he said that “one can truly speak of an erosion of the Catholic faith in Germany,” urging them to “overcome resignation which paralyzes.”