FBI director spars with GOP senators about memo on 'radical traditionalist Catholics' (Our Sunday Visitor) FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before a Senate committee on December 5, the day after the House Judiciary Committee released a report on the “weaponization of law enforcement” against Catholics.
Wray said that the FBI agents involved in producing the memo warning against “warning against “radical traditionalist Catholic ideology” were “not found to have engaged in any intentional or bad faith conduct.”
“Those individuals have all been admonished, and ... it is all going into their annual performance reviews, which has a direct impact on their compensation, among other things,” Wray added.
Council of Cardinals discusses feminine role, Ukraine war, abuse prevention (Vatican Press Office) At its meeting in Rome this week, the Council of Cardinals heard a series of presentations on the role of women in the Church, and also discussed topics including the war in Ukraine and the implementation of sex-abuse prevention programs.
The Council “agreed on the need to listen, also and above all in individual Christian communities, to the feminine aspect of the Church,” the Vatican press office reported.
Denouncing 'right-wing extremists,' Bavaria's bishops criticize political party after election success (Pillar) “A clear line must be drawn against right-wing extremists,” the Freising Bishops’ Conference said after the AfD party (Alternative für Deutschland, or Alternative for Germany) finished in third place in the Bavarian state election, with over 2 million votes (out of 9.2 million votes cast).
The bishops added, “It is unacceptable for Christians to vote for parties that spread nationalist, racist, or anti-Semitic opinions, or tolerate them in their ranks.”
House Judiciary Committee releases report on 'weaponization of law enforcement' against Catholics (House Judiciary Committee) The FBI “singled out Americans who are pro-life, pro-family, and support the biological basis for sex and gender distinction as potential domestic terrorists,” the House Judiciary Committee charged on December 4 as it released a 29-page interim staff report, “The FBI’s Breach of Religious Freedom: The Weaponization of Law Enforcement Against Catholic Americans.”
“The Committee on the Judiciary and the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government have been investigating the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s categorization of certain Catholic Americans as potential domestic terrorists,” the Judiciary Committee stated, as it discussed its investigation into a leaked and retracted memo from the FBI’s Richmond office warning against “radical traditionalist Catholic ideology.”
“While the FBI claims it ‘does not categorize investigations as domestic terrorism based on the religious beliefs—to include Catholicism—of the subject involved,’ an FBI-wide memorandum originating from the FBI’s Richmond Field Office did just that,” the Judiciary Committee said.
“The FBI’s Richmond memorandum is a startling reminder that Americans’ civil liberties and core Constitutional rights must be vigorously guarded against government overreach, including in this case from an overzealous federal law enforcement agency,” the Committee continued. “Not only did the FBI propose to develop sources, but it already interviewed a priest and choir director affiliated with a Catholic church in Richmond, Virginia for the memorandum.”
“Most concerning of all, without the disclosure of the whistleblower, the Richmond memorandum would still be operative in FBI systems, violating the religious liberties of millions of Catholic Americans,” the Committee added.
USCCB, Catholic Charities warn: HHS regulations on unaccompanied migrant children facilitate abortion (USCCB) In an 18-page letter, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Charities USA welcomed portions of the Department of Health and Human Services’ proposed regulations on the care of unaccompanied migrant children while expressing concern about several aspects of the regulations.
“We are deeply concerned by and strongly oppose the Agency’s attempts to codify through this Proposed Rule its policy of facilitating abortions,” the USCCB and Catholic Charities USA wrote. “Relatedly, ORR’s failure to adequately enshrine conscience protections within the regulatory text itself should be rectified in the final rule.”
“We also note the use of ambiguous terminology throughout the Proposed Rule and affirm that these terms should not be construed so as to conflict with the religious beliefs and moral convictions of faith-based service providers,” they added.
Australian state's Religious Vilification Act takes effect (Religion Clause) New South Wales (map), Australia’s most populous state, has made it a crime to “incite hatred towards, serious contempt for or severe ridicule of a person ... on the ground the person (i) has, or does not have, a religious belief or affiliation, or (ii) engages, or does not engage, in religious activity.”
“The amendments closely mirror existing provisions that make vilification unlawful based on race, homosexuality, transgender status, and HIV/AIDS status,” Australasian Lawyer reported.
Violators can be ordered to apologize and fined up to $100,000.
German cardinal sees Church 'more polarized than ever' (Katholisch (German)) Cardinal Rainer Woelki of Cologne said that “our Church in Germany is more polarized than ever” in a talk to the archdiocesan council.
Cardinal Woelki, who has been critical of the Synodal Path, said that the controversial proposals adopted by the majority of the German bishops’ conference have put new strains on Church unity. “There were already tensions before, we all know that,” he said. “But now they are so strong that I am increasingly worried.”
Nuns sue Smith & Wesson to halt its assault-style weapons sales (Reuters) Four women’s religious institutes have sued Smith & Wesson in an attempt to halt the sale of assault-style rifles.
“These rifles have no purpose other than mass murder,” the Adrian Dominican Sisters, the Sisters of Bon Secours USA, the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, and the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary stated in their lawsuit against the firearm manufacturer.
St. Peter's Basilica unveils charity projects ahead of 2025 Jubilee (Vatican News) At a December 5 press conference, Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, discussed two charitable projects associated with the 2025 Jubilee: the making of wooden rosaries, constructed by refugees from migrant boats; and the employment of an ex-prisoner as an electrician.
Since the 15th century, it has been customary for the Church to celebrate a jubilee every 25 years. The theme of the 2025 jubilee is “Pilgrims of Hope.”
Pope renews call for 'concrete political changes' on climate (Vatican Press Office) “Albeit at a distance, I follow the work of COP28 in Dubai with great attention. I am close,” Pope Francis said on December 3, the day after Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy See’s Secretary of State, delivered the Pope’s address to the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference.
Pope Francis added, “I reiterate my appeal for a response to climate change with concrete political changes; let us come out of the straits of particularism and nationalism, mindsets of the past, and embrace a common vision, all making every effort now, without delay, for a necessary global conversion.”
CELAM bishops back Guatemalan cardinal, threatened with arrest (ADN) The leaders of the Latin American bishops’ conference CELAM has issued a statement of support for Cardinal Alvaro Ramazzini of Huehuetenango, Guatemala, who has been threatened with arrest by his country’s government.
The cardinal has appealed for the recognition of president-elect Bernardo Arevalo, who won a resounding upset victory in August elections and is due to take office in January. The incumbent government has pursued criminal charges against Arevalo, prompting concerns that the democratic process could be thwarted.
CELAM backed Cardinal Ramazzini as “a witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ incarnated in the poorest whose voice reveals the feeling of a people seeking ways to express their just demands.”
Cardinal Ramazzini, who is currently in Germany, said that he had not been informed of any plan for his arrest. He added that his trip to Germany had been scheduled long ago, and he had not left the country to avoid arrest.
Pope calls world leaders to end divisions to fight climate change (CNS) Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy See’s Secretary of State, traveled to Dubai to deliver the Pope’s address to COP28, the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference.
Pope Francis had been scheduled to deliver the December 2 address in person, but cancelled his trip because of a bronchial ailment.
“I am with you to raise the question which we must answer now: Are we working for a culture of life or a culture of death?” the Pontiff wrote. “To all of you I make this heartfelt appeal: Let us choose life! Let us choose the future! May we be attentive to the cry of the earth, may we hear the plea of the poor, may we be sensitive to the hopes of the young and the dreams of children!”
During his address, Pope Francis criticized the ideology of population control.
“Particularly striking in this regard are the attempts made to shift the blame onto the poor and high birth rates,” he said. “These are falsities that must be firmly dispelled.”
“It is not the fault of the poor, since the almost half of our world that is more needy is responsible for scarcely 10% of toxic emissions, while the gap between the opulent few and the masses of the poor has never been so abysmal,” he continued. “The poor are the real victims of what is happening ... Births are not a problem, but a resource: they are not opposed to life, but for life, whereas certain ideological and utilitarian models now being imposed with a velvet glove on families and peoples constitute real forms of colonization.”
Notre Dame introduces new university president (Crux) Father Robert Dowd, who has been vice president of Notre Dame, has been named to succeed Father John Jenkins as president of the university.
Father Dowd, a longtime faculty member, will take the helm at the end of the current academic year. He will be the university’s 18th president, and will continue the unbroken Notre Dame tradition of having a priest of the Congregation of the Holy Cross—the religious order that founded the university—in that role.
Father Dowd is a Notre Dame alumnus who, after his ordination to the priesthood, earned his doctorate in political science from UCLA, specializing in African politics and inter-religious relations.
Father Jenkins will be stepping down after 19 years as president.
In Vatican trial, defense protests 'outrage against the truth' (Vatican News (Italian)) Defense lawyers told a Vatican tribunal that there is “not an ounce of truth” in prosecutors’ charges against financier Raffaele Mincione, in the 81st hearing of the Vatican’s financial-misconduct trial on December 4.
Mincione’s lawyers argued that prosecutors had built their case on an unsupported theory— “a sort of parallel reality”— by claiming that Mincione had misled Vatican officials regarding investments. They said that it would not “dwell on the legitimacy of this process,” but pointed to “gaps” in the factual information that prosecutors have presented. The charges against Mincione have damaged his reputation and are an “outrage against the truth,” they said.
Mincione’s defense is wrapping up its case as the marathon trial— the result of an investigation that began in 2018— nears its conclusion.
Mexican bishop announces excommunication of thief who stole Blessed Sacrament (CNA) Bishop Hilario González García of Saltillo (Mexico) has announced the automatic excommunication of the unknown thief (or thieves) who broke into a church, broke into the tabernacle, and stole a ciborium with the Blessed Sacrament.
The prelate declared that “whoever perpetrated it, if he is Catholic, has committed a crime against the sacraments” and was automatically excommunicated.
US bishops' pro-life chairman explains why abortion is a genuine 'priority' amid elections (Our Sunday Visitor) “From the moment of conception, life is sacred, that’s the foundation,” said Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington (VA), the chairman of the US bishops’ pro-life committee, as he explained why abortion is the bishops’ preeminent public policy priority.
The prelate made his remarks after the bishops, in a 225-11 vote at their November meaning, affirmed that “the threat of abortion remains our pre-eminent priority because it directly attacks our most vulnerable and voiceless brothers and sisters and destroys more than a million lives per year in our country alone.”
USCCB distributes over $10M from national collections (USCCB) The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops announced the distribution of over $10 million in grants from national collections.
Fifteen grants totaling more than $1.2 million were given to Catholic home missions; 32 grants totaling more than $900,000 were awarded to 18 African episcopal conferences; nearly $3.6 million was awarded to 133 projects in formerly Communist nations of Europe; nearly $3.25 million was awarded to 125 projects in Latin America; and $1.45 million was provided to disaster relief that will help rebuild churches in Puerto Rico.
In discussing the grants, the USCCB did not offer a full list of the grant recipients—listing, for example, only one of the 125 grant recipients in Latin America (the Interational Eucharistic Congress in Ecuador).