Minnesota Catholic Conference highlights Church’s role in public square

The Cathedral of Saint Paul in Saint Paul, Minn. / bhathaway / Shutterstock.

St. Paul, Minn., May 12, 2021 / 18:19 pm (CNA).

As Minnesota’s legislature prepares to finish its legislative session for the year, the state Catholic conference has noted a recent meeting of the state’s bishops with executive and legislative leaders.

“All year, Minnesota Catholic Conference staff help facilitate contacts between individual bishops and legislators, and each spring, all the bishops meet together with state leaders to share their policy concerns. On April 14, Minnesota’s bishops and diocesan administrators met with Gov. Tim Walz, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and legislative leaders,” read a May 11 commentary at The Catholic Spirit, the publication of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

The state legislature’s session, which began in January, will end May 17.

The Minnesota Catholic Conference said that the bishops this year “focused on stopping the legalization of assisted suicide by promoting better care for the sick and vulnerable populations, the creation of provisional driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, creating more educational options for low-income families, expanding existing nonpublic pupil aid programs, and their opposition to the creation of a recreational marijuana industry.”

“They also highlighted the shared goal of protecting people from COVID-19 while also respecting the ability of people of faith to gather for worship.”

In May 2020, the governor issued an order allowing for the resumption of limited public worship gatherings, days after the bishops of the state said they would allow public Masses to resume in defiance of previous guidelines.

The bishops maintained that the original guidelines were unfairly restrictive toward religious services, as businesses and other entities in the state were slowly being allowed to reopen with safety protocols in place to help guard against the coronavirus.

The state Cathoolic conference said that the bishops’ conversation with government leaders “are a good lesson in faithful citizenship. The bishops always thank leaders for their willingness to step forward and make significant sacrifices to serve all Minnesotans, and they invite public officials to share their priorities and find areas of common ground upon which they can build the common good.”

The conference described this year’s conversations as constructive, saying that “even when there were points of disagreement, there was civil dialogue and a recognition that these are difficult issues with a myriad of considerations.”

It said that both legislators and laity should remember that “sometimes a specific policy goal of the Church might align more with one party or political program than another. But the Church’s advocacy is principled, not partisan, thereby allowing Catholics to work collaboratively across the political spectrum.”

“:More important, the policy advocacy of our bishops is an expression of their pastoral care for all people in the community, especially the poor and vulnerable. After all, they are shepherds of all the souls in their diocese, not just Catholics, and are entrusted to work for their well-being. Advocating for good policies offers a credible witness to the Gospel … Through the work of principled advocacy, Catholics help others come to know the Church as a home for people to know, love and serve the Lord.”

The conference concluded that “to help people know Christ Jesus and obtain their salvation: That is the fundamental ‘why’ behind the Church’s participation in the public square.”

Former students testify at Vatican trial on abuse in minor seminary

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Four former students at the minor seminary located in the Vatican testified May 12 at the ongoing trial of Father Gabriele Martinelli, who is accused of sexually abusing a younger student at the St. Pius X Pre-Seminary.

One of the former students asked the journalists present to refer to him only by his initials, M.B., because he soon will be ordained to the priesthood; Giuseppe Pignatone, president of the Vatican City State tribunal, supported the request.

The four former students each had been questioned by Vatican investigators in 2018, and portions of their statements to the investigators were read at the trial. The May 12 session was the ninth of the trial, which began in October.

The abuse was said to have occurred between 2007 and 2012. Although both were under the age of 18 when the abuse was said to have begun, the court accused the priest of continuing to abuse the younger student when Martinelli, not yet a priest, was already 20.

Msgr. Enrico Radice, the former rector of the seminary, also is on trial and is accused of hindering the investigation into the abuse allegations. The seminary and the Opera Don Folci, the religious institution that runs the minor seminary, are accused of failing to protect the young students.

M.B. was the only one of the four witnesses to tell both the court and the investigators that the young man accusing Father Martinelli had told him of the abuse. And, he had told investigators in April 2018, “these facts were known to many at the pre-seminary.”

M.B. and the victim, L.G., were roommates for two years. L.G. had testified that Father Martinelli would sneak into his bed at night and abuse him.

“I did not witness what L.G. told me happened to him at night,” M.B. said. Asked specifically if he ever saw Father Martinelli enter their room at night, M.B. told the court, “No, I’m a heavy sleeper.”

Andrea Garzola, another former student, said he never witnessed any sexual acts or abuse while in the pre-seminary, but Father Martinelli did grab his genitals once, which led to a big fight, he said, and after that Father Martinelli, who was in charge of assigning students roles at Vatican liturgies, “assigned me to minor Masses.”

Thomas Compagnoni, who entered the pre-seminary in 2013 at the age of 12 and stayed only a year, said L.G. was the person who encouraged him to enter the school, and he never said anything about abuse.

Father Francesco Vicini, another former student and current vice rector of the pre-seminary, said he was L.G.’s roommate in 2006.

“He was a very serene boy, but he became grumpy over the years,” Father Vicini had told Vatican investigators, adding that L.G. was very “jealous” of Martinelli because of his role in making altar server assignments.

“I never had any knowledge or perception of what is now being talked about,” he said, referring to the abuse accusations.

Testifying in court, Father Vicini said that “L.G. and Martinelli were always arguing about everything. L.G. was not afraid of Martinelli, he was not one to keep quiet; if he disagreed with something, he made himself heard,” which, the priest said, led him to believe Martinelli did nothing wrong.

Biden administration reconsiders abortion pill regulations


Washington D.C., May 11, 2021 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

Pro-abortion groups last week praised the Biden administration for reconsidering federal safety regulations of the abortion pill regimen.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) on Friday said it was “thrilled” that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was reviewing restrictions on the regimen that have been in place since the year 2000. The FDA has long required the abortion pill regimen to be dispensed in-person in a health clinic setting, but pro-abortion groups have recently pushed for the pill to be prescribed remotely and dispensed through the mail.

In its statement on Twitter, ACOG supported the FDA’s “evidence-based review” of the “burdensome” and “unnecessary” regulations.

“We are confident that due to the FDA’s commitment to regulatory decision-making that reflects science and patient-centered care, the needless restrictions on #mifepristone will soon end and patients will have less restrictive access to medication abortion & miscarriage care,” ACOG stated on Twitter.

The American Civil Liberties Union called the review “long overdue, but a major move forward.” The group, on behalf of ACOG and other pro-abortion groups, sued the Trump administration last year for leaving the abortion pill regulations in place during the pandemic.

Since it approved the abortion pill regimen in 2000, the FDA has listed the protocol on its “REMS” list, reserved for higher-risk procedures. Under the classification, the abortion pill regimen must be prescribed by a certified health provider and dispensed in-person in a health clinic setting.

The regimen involves women taking mifepristone, which blocks nutrients to the unborn child, up until 70 days gestation. That is followed by a dose of misoprostol 24 to 48 hours later, which expels the deceased unborn child.

A federal judge last year sided with the pro-abortion groups, blocking the FDA’s in-person dispensing requirements during the pandemic. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately sided with the Trump administration, allowing them to continue with their restrictions on chemical abortions.

In April, the acting FDA commissioner said that the agency would allow for remote dispensing of the abortion pill during the pandemic by not enforcing its regulations.

Now, however, the agency is reviewing its regulations with the prospect of altering them beyond the pandemic.

On Friday, both the Biden administration and groups challenging the FDA regulations jointly filed for a stay on the case until Dec. 1, due to the FDA’s ongoing review of its regulations.

“The Parties jointly seek a stay of this matter in light of Defendant U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (‘FDA’) current review of the risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (‘REMS’) at issue in this case,” the motion stated.

The parties cited the FDA’s recent “review of the in-person dispensing requirement” for the abortion pill regimen “in the context of the COVID-19 public health emergency.” The motion noted that “the outcome of FDA’s review of the REMS could have a material effect on the issues before this Court.”

The new Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, has said he not only supports lifting the regulations during the pandemic, but added at his confirmation hearing that he favors increased use of telemedicine, in response to a question about the abortion pill regimen.

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