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Court okays Ark. ban on Planned Parenthood's Medicaid money

Little Rock, Ark., Aug 19, 2017 / 03:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Arkansas may block tens of thousands of dollars in Medicaid funding from going to Planned Parenthood, a panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has said.

“All patients should have access to ethical, quality and responsible health care, and should never be beholden to a company that is only seeking to protect its profits,” Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said in response to the decision, the Associated Press reports.

According to Rutledge, the Aug. 16 ruling found that Planned Parenthood and the three patients could not contest the state's determination “that a medical provider has engaged in misconduct that merits disqualification from the Medicaid program.”

The 2-1 panel ruling comes two years after the state ended its contract with the organization over videos filmed by undercover investigators that appeared to show involvement in the illegal sale of fetal tissue for profit.

While federal law bars federal funding for most abortions, and Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the U.S., the organization receives federal money for other services.

In Arkansas, in the fiscal year before the contract was terminated, Planned Parenthood had received $51,000 in Medicaid funds. The organization runs health centers in Fayetteville and Little Rock.

The ruling said that the unnamed patients who filed the legal challenge to the defunding decision did not have the right to file a challenge. It did not directly address the state’s reasoning for terminating the contract. The ruling vacated a U.S. district judge’s order that continued payments to Planned Parenthood patients.

Judge Michael Melloy authored a dissenting opinion in the ruling, noting that several federal courts have blocked other states’ efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. He said the patients have a right to challenge the contract termination.

The case could go to the Supreme Court. Planned Parenthood said it is evaluating its options to challenge the ruling, which will take effect in one to two weeks.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson had ended the contract on the grounds he believed there was evidence of wrongful conduct.

He called Wednesday’s decision “a substantial legal victory for the right of the state to determine whether Medicaid providers are acting in accordance with best practices.” The ruling also affirmed the state’s prerogative to make judgments on the Medicaid program, he added.

Videos from the Center for Medical Progress appeared to show Planned Parenthood and other leaders in the abortion industry involved in the procurement of fetal tissue and unborn babies’ bodies for sale, which is illegal under federal law.

The videos energized abortion foes' push to defund Planned Parenthood. For its part, the abortion provider and its allies dedicated millions of dollars in a campaign to counter the videos' impact and charged that the videos had been heavily edited.

First Option - First Reading: Joshua 24:14-29

14 "Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River, and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.
15 And if you be unwilling to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
16 Then the people answered, "Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods;
17 for it is the LORD our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, and who did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed;
18 and the LORD drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land; therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God."
19 But Joshua said to the people, "You cannot serve the LORD; for he is a holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins.
20 If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm, and consume you, after having done you good."
21 And the people said to Joshua, "Nay; but we will serve the LORD."
22 Then Joshua said to the people, "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the LORD, to serve him." And they said, "We are witnesses."
23 He said, "Then put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD, the God of Israel."
24 And the people said to Joshua, "The LORD our God we will serve, and his voice we will obey."
25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made statutes and ordinances for them at Shechem.
26 And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God; and he took a great stone, and set it up there under the oak in the sanctuary of the LORD.
27 And Joshua said to all the people, "Behold, this stone shall be a witness against us; for it has heard all the words of the LORD which he spoke to us; therefore it shall be a witness against you, lest you deal falsely with your God."
28 So Joshua sent the people away, every man to his inheritance.
29 After these things Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being a hundred and ten years old.

Second Option - Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 23:1-6

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want;
2 he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters;
3 he restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies; thou anointest my head with oil, my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Second Option - First Reading: Ezekiel 34:11-16

11 "For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out.
12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when some of his sheep have been scattered abroad, so will I seek out my sheep; and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.
13 And I will bring them out from the peoples, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the fountains, and in all the inhabited places of the country.
14 I will feed them with good pasture, and upon the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on fat pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel.
15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord GOD.
16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the crippled, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will watch over; I will feed them in justice.

First Option - Gospel: Matthew 19:13-15

13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people;
14 but Jesus said, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven."
15 And he laid his hands on them and went away.

First Option - Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 11

1 Preserve me, O God, for in thee I take refuge.
2 I say to the LORD, "Thou art my Lord; I have no good apart from thee."
5 The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; thou holdest my lot.
7 I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.
8 I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
11 Thou dost show me the path of life; in thy presence there is fulness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.

Second Option - Gospel: John 10:11-16

11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
12 He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.
13 He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep.
14 I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me,
15 as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
16 And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.

No, Pope Francis did not beatify Roberto Clemente

San Juan, Puerto Rico, Aug 18, 2017 / 03:14 pm (CNA).- Sports fans in the U.S. and beyond may be disappointed to learn that reports of baseball Hall-of-Famer Roberto Clemente being recently beatified by Pope Francis are nothing more than fake news.

Vatican officials confirmed to the Washington Post that rumors of Pope Francis beatifying the Pittsburgh Pirates star are false.

The rumors appear to have originated with a Christian News Wire post late last month, and were slowly picked up by other media outlets and social media accounts.

The Christian News Wire article quotes Richard Rossi, who has been pushing for Clemente’s canonization after directing a film about the baseball star’s life, entitled “Baseball’s Last Hero.”

At the center of the claims is former Olympian high jumper Jamie Nieto, who played Clemente in the film. Nieto broke his neck in a back flip accident in 2016, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. After months of rehab, he was able to walk about 130 steps down the aisle with his bride on his wedding day.

According to the article, Rossi claimed that he had foreseen the healing in a vision, and had written to Pope Francis about it, and that the Pope agreed to beatify Clemente if the healing were to take place. Normally, one Vatican-approved miracle is necessary for beatification, and a second miracle is necessary for canonization, when the Church officially recognizes someone as a saint.

But while enthusiastic fans may be willing to take Rossi’s alleged claims at face value, the Vatican follows a very specific, formal process in determining the validity of an alleged miracle, with a commission of theologians and scientific experts examining the facts of the case.

When it comes to medical miracles, the Vatican must determine that the healing could not possibly have had any therapeutic or natural explanation, in order to ensure that the healing could only be attributed to divine intervention.

In Nieto’s case, however, doctors said there was a small possibility that he would be able to walk again, and he then spent months in rehab, working toward that goal.

The Vatican also must confirm that the healed person prayed exclusively to the potential saint in question, thereby determining that it was that individual’s intercession before God that resulted in the miraculous healing.

However, in the AP story detailing Nieto’s steps down the aisle for his wedding, the former Olympian does not mention praying to Clemente at all, instead saying, “I’ve worked really hard to get to this point.”

This is not the first time that false rumors have circulated regarding Clemente’s sainthood status. In early 2015, Catholic News Wire claimed that his canonization cause had received a “papal message of support.”

The article included a photo of a letter that it claimed was a show of support from Pope Francis for Clemente’s canonization cause.

However, the letter was in fact from an official at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and did not convey a papal message of support, but rather instructed Rossi that the local bishop, not the Pope, is the correct person to contact about potentially opening a canonization cause.

Translated into English, it reads:

“Distinguished Mr. Rossi, Recently you addressed a letter to Pope Francis calling attention to the figure of Roberto Clemente. Given the specific competence of this congregation, this letter was sent to this dicastery. In this regard, I wish to inform you that the competent authority to introduce a cause of beatification is the bishop where the person has died. Hence you would have to address your request to the Bishop of San Juan in Puerto Rico. Wishing you God's blessing, Fr. Boguslaw Turek.”

Clemente, a devout Catholic, was known for both his immense talent on the ballfield and his extensive charitable efforts. He died in a 1972 plane crash on his way to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. He was 38 years old at the time of his death.

With a legacy marked by his Catholic faith and humanitarian work, it is possible that the legendary right fielder could have his canonization cause opened. But the process would be lengthy, and each official step would be announced through authorized Church channels.

A beatification of the baseball star would undoubtedly be a highly anticipated event, especially on the largely Catholic island of Puerto Rico, where Clemente grew up. Sports fans can rest assured that should such a high-profile beatification occur, an official announcement would be made with enough notice for them to follow along, or even attend the historic event.

 

Richmond’s Bishop DiLorenzo passes away at 75

Richmond, Va., Aug 18, 2017 / 10:16 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Bishop Francis Xavier DiLorenzo of Richmond has passed away at the age of 75.

“Please pray for the repose of the soul of Bishop DiLorenzo, for his family and friends, and for the people of the Diocese of Richmond,” said the Richmond diocese’s vicar general, Monsignor Mark Lane.

“He was a faithful servant of the Church for 49 years and a Shepherd of the Diocese of Richmond for 13 years.”

In the neighboring Diocese of Arlington, Bishop Michael Burbidge also called for prayers.

“May we be united in our prayer for Bishop Francis DiLorenzo, Bishop of Richmond, and his eternal peace,” the bishop said on Twitter.

Bishop DiLorenzo passed away at St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond on Thursday evening.

Bishop DiLorenzo was born in Philadelphia on April 15, 1942, the eldest of three children, his biography on the Richmond diocese’s website says. After studying at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Cardinal John Krol of Philadelphia ordained him to the priesthood in May 1968. His service in the Philadelphia archdiocese included positions as high school chaplain and religion and biology teacher.

He began studies in Rome in 1971, earning a license in sacred theology from the Academy Alphonsiana in 1973 and a doctorate in sacred theology in 1975 from the Angelicum. Upon his return to the U.S., Father DiLorenzo was appointed chaplain and associate professor of moral theology at Immaculata College in Pennsylvania. He then served as vice-rector and rector at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

Pope John Paul II appointed him auxiliary bishop of Scranton, Penn. in 1988, where he served for five years. After becoming apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Honolulu, he became Bishop of Honolulu in October 1994. He was installed as Bishop of Richmond in 2004.

His work at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops include membership of its administrative committee its doctrine committee, and its ad hoc committee on bishops’ life and ministry. He was chairman of the conference’s Committee on Science and Human Values. He helped launch a series of teaching brochures on the relationship of science and religion and on bioethical issues like genetic testing and screening of embryos.

He had submitted his resignation upon reaching age 75, in accord with canon law.

There are about 220,000 Catholics in the Richmond diocese.

 

FOCUS expands to 15 new campuses this year

Denver, Colo., Aug 18, 2017 / 06:23 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) has announced that it will expand to 15 new campuses for the 2017-2018 school year.

This brings the total number of campuses with a FOCUS presence up to 137.

“I firmly believe God has called me to share this great joy He has given me through this experience to others, and I am absolutely delighted to now be able to do that through FOCUS!” said Natalie Larkins, a first-year FOCUS missionary at Western Kentucky, in a press release.

The new campuses for the upcoming academic year are Bowling Green State University (Ohio), Indiana University, Iowa State University, Kansas State University, Louisiana State University, Slippery Rock University (Pennsylvania), University of Nebraska at Kearney, University of Rochester (New York), University of Southampton (England), University of Southern Mississippi, University of Toledo (Ohio), Valparaiso University (Indiana), West Chester University (Pennsylvania), Western Kentucky University, and Western Michigan University.

A campus outreach ministry, FOCUS works to inspire and equip college students to know, love and share their faith through intentional virtue-based friendships.

Missionaries stationed at campuses throughout the country and internationally invite students to grow in their faith through Bible studies, small groups, events, mission trips, and one-on-one discipleships.

FOCUS has more than doubled its campus presence since 2011.

The organization is hoping to again double the number of campuses it serves within the next five years, with a goal of reaching 250 FOCUS campuses by 2022.