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Ecuadorian bishops congratulate their country's first woman to win an Olympic gold medal

Neisi Dajomes. Credit: Ecuadorian Olympic Committee.

Quito, Ecuador, Aug 2, 2021 / 14:40 pm (CNA).

The Ecuadorian bishops congratulated on Twitter Neisi Dajomes, the country’s first woman to win gold in the Olympics, for her victory: "Thank you for infecting us with your enthusiasm and joy! God bless you!"

Dajomes, 23, won the gold medal in weightlifting in the 76 kg category (the lifter’s body weight)) at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Aug. 1.  The athlete said, “this medal is thanks to God.”

The 2020 Olympics were postponed to 2021, but retain the original year to avoid confusion as the games are held every four years.

Dajomes is the third Ecuadorian athlete to win a gold medal for Ecuador, following Richard Carapaz in cycling in Tokyo in July this year; and Jefferson Pérez in race walking in Atlanta in 1996.

The Ecuadorian Olympic Committee relayed on Twitter these words from Dajomes: "I went through a hard time, I lost my mother and recently my brother Javier Palacios, for whom I am here, and all my achievements are dedicated to their memory."

"I thank my country for the good vibes they sent me ... This medal is thanks to God," she added.

Dajomes told the Ecuadorian newspaper El Comercio that losing her mother and brother "have been trials God put me through to get here.”

NY archdiocese warns priests not to grant religious vaccine exemptions

oasisamuel/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Aug 2, 2021 / 13:30 pm (CNA).

The Archdiocese of New York has instructed priests not to grant religious exemptions for COVID-19 vaccines, saying that do so would contradict the pope.

“There is no basis for a priest to issue a religious exemption to the vaccine,” stated a July 30 memo from the archdiocese’s chancellor, John P. Cahill, to all pastors, administrators, and parochial vicars in the archdiocese.

“Pope Francis has made it very clear that it is morally acceptable to take any of the vaccines and said we have the moral responsibility to get vaccinated. Cardinal Dolan has said the same,” the memo stated.

By issuing a religious exemption to the vaccine, a priest would be “acting in contradiction to the directives of the Pope and is participating in an act that could have serious consequences to others,” the memo stated.

A screenshot of the memo was circulated on social media this weekend. CNA confirmed the memo’s accuracy with the archdiocese and with a priest of the archdiocese on Monday.

In a television interview in January, Pope Francis said, “I believe that, ethically, everyone has to get the vaccine.” In a December 2020 note, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated that “vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation” and “therefore, it must be voluntary.” The Vatican congregation acknowledged “reasons of conscience” for those refusing a vaccine.

Vaccine mandates have begun to be announced at places of employment in the United States. The Catholic health care network Ascension will mandate coronavirus vaccination for employees, physicians, volunteers, and vendors, although it has promised some health-related and religious exemptions.

Some Catholic institutions have stated their support for conscience exemptions to vaccine mandates, or have provided materials for individuals with religious objections to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. The National Catholic Bioethics Center lists a form letter on its website for individual Catholics seeking religious exemptions from vaccine mandates.

“The Roman Catholic Church teaches that a person may be required to refuse a medical intervention, including a vaccination, if his or her informed conscience comes to this sure judgment,” the letter states, adding that the Church “does not prohibit the use of any vaccine, and generally encourages the use of safe and effective vaccines as a way of safeguarding personal and public health.”

The Catholic Medical Association, a national network of Catholic doctors and health care workers, stated on July 28 that it “opposes mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations as a condition of employment without conscience or religious exemptions.”

The New York archdiocese’s memo began by acknowledging the “sincere moral objection” of some individuals to receiving COVID-19 vaccines, “due to their connection to abortion.”

“This concern is particularly acute among people who are strongly pro-life and very loyal to the teaching of the faith,” the memo stated.

The archdiocese further stated, “Any individual is free to exercise discretion on getting the vaccine based upon his or her own beliefs without seeking the inaccurate portrayal of Church instructions.”

Priests, however, “should not be active participants to such actions” by granting religious exemptions, the memo stated.

“Imagine a student receiving a religious [vaccine] exemption, contracting the virus and spreading it throughout the campus. Clearly this would be an embarrassment to the archdiocese. Some even argue that it might impose personal liability on the priest,” the memo said.

Currently, three vaccines have been given an emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration – those produced by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. While all three vaccines were tested on cell lines derived from elective abortions decades ago, only one of the vaccines – Johnson & Johnson – was directly produced using the controversial cell lines.

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has stated that the use of the vaccines with connections to the questionable cell lines is “morally acceptable,” but that Catholics should seek “ethically irreproachable Covid-19 vaccines” when available.

In its December 2020 note, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith further stated that vaccination must not be mandatory.

“Those who, however, for reasons of conscience, refuse vaccines produced with cell lines from aborted fetuses, must do their utmost to avoid, by other prophylactic means and appropriate behavior, becoming vehicles for the transmission of the infectious agent,” the congregation stated.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has stated that all three vaccines approved for use in the United States are “morally acceptable” for use.

“[I]f one can choose among equally safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, the vaccine with the least connection to abortion-derived cell lines should be chosen,” the USCCB said in March. “Therefore, if one has the ability to choose a vaccine, Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccines should be chosen over Johnson & Johnson’s.”

Body of Tennessee priest on path to canonization reburied in basilica

Fr. Patrick Ryan. Public domain.

Knoxville, Tenn., Aug 2, 2021 / 13:20 pm (CNA).

The body of Servant of God Patrick Ryan, a Tennessee priest who died in 1878 caring for victims of the Chattanooga’s yellow fever epidemic, were moved and reinterred at the city’s Saints Peter and Paul Basilica over the weekend. 

During a yellow fever epidemic in 1878, some 80% of Chattanooga residents fled the city. Father Ryan stayed to minister to the sick, dying of yellow fever himself Sept. 28, 1878. 

Bishop Richard Stika of Knoxville, who opened Father Ryan’s sainthood cause in 2016, celebrated a memorial Mass and presided over Father Ryan’s entombment July 31. 

“There is no greater gift than to give your life for your friends,” Bishop Stika said, as reported by the Chattanoogan. 

“Father Ryan did indeed give his life for his friends, friends that were Catholic, and friends that were not Catholic...His memory is still strong today.”

The procession from the cemetery where Father Ryan was interred to the basilica was mainly done with Ryan’s casket in a hearse, switching to a walking procession with bagpipes near the basilica. 

Father Ryan was buried in a cemetery near the basilica following his death in September 1878, and less than a decade later in 1886 his remains were moved, with a horse and buggy procession, to the then-new Mount Olivet Cemetery about six miles away. 

The diocese requested that Fr. Ryan be exhumed in part to confirm that he was a real person and not a “pious legend.” There is strong evidence pointing to the priest’s existence, like letters between clergymen and newspaper clippings.

Hamilton County officials approved Father Ryan’s exhumation in early 2019. When his casket was opened, beside his body were found vestments, a scapular, and a wooden crucifix.

Servant of God Patrick Ryan was born in 1845 near Nenagh in County Tipperary, Ireland. His family was forced to emigrate to the United States after suffering eviction from their home, and they settled in New York.

Father Ryan studied the priesthood at St. Vincent’s College in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. In 1869, he was ordained in Nashville. Later, he was sent to Chattanooga, where he opened the town’s oldest private school.

During the city’s yellow fever epidemic, an eyewitness said that the priest would go “from house to house in the worst-infected section of the city to find what he could do for the sick and needy,” according to a biography of Fr. Ryan on the website of Saints Peter and Paul Basilica.

Since 2016, the diocese’s historical commission on Fr. Ryan's cause for canonization has been investigating his life, with a view toward evaluating his possible beatification and canonization.

The tribunal held its first session of inquiry Sept. 28, 2020. There, Deacon Sean Smith chancellor of the Diocese of Knoxville, presented various documents required to proceed, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ vote on the cause’s advisability and the declaration from the Holy See that nothing obstructed the cause. 

Father David Carter, pastor and rector of Saints Peter and Paul, said the committee of inquiry will send its research on to Rome, in hopes the Church will declare him venerable before Christmas, the Chattanoogan reported. 

 

Father Carter said the committee has not yet interviewed anyone who has claimed to have received a miracle through Father Ryan’s intercession. At least two miracles are required before a person can be declared blessed.

Christian Pastor Walter Hoye Warns of the Wages of the Sexual Revolution

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NY Archdiocese Warns Priests Not to Grant Religious Vaccine Exemptions

cna

Pope Francis to Medjugorje youth festival: Christ frees us ‘from the seduction of idols’

Pope Francis at World Youth Day in Poland, July 2016. / Marcin Kadziolka/Shutterstock.

Vatican City, Aug 2, 2021 / 08:10 am (CNA).

In a message to the Medjugorje Youth Festival on Monday, Pope Francis told young Catholics that Christ’s loving gaze can free them from attraction to idols.

“Have the courage to live your youth by entrusting yourselves to the Lord and setting out on a journey with him,” the pope said Aug. 2.

“Let yourself be conquered by his loving gaze that frees us from the seduction of idols, from false riches that promise life but cause death,” he continued. “Do not be afraid to welcome the Word of Christ and to accept his call.”

Pope Francis’ message was sent on the second day of the 32nd Medjugorje Youth Festival taking place in Bosnia and Herzegovina Aug. 1-8.

In his reflection, the pope spoke about the Gospel’s rich young man, who, he said, set out to meet the Lord with enthusiasm and with a desire to know how he could reach eternal life.

“The Gospel does not tell us the name of that young man, and this suggests that he can represent each of us,” Francis said.

The pope noted that Jesus points the young man to the commandments, as the first step to take to inherit eternal life.

When the young man says he already acts with charity toward his neighbors, Jesus tells him: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have, give it to the poor and you will have a treasure in heaven.”

“What Jesus proposes is not so much a man deprived of everything, as a man who is free and rich in relationships,” Pope Francis underlined. “If the heart is crowded with goods, the Lord and neighbor become only things among others. Our having too much and wanting too much will suffocate our hearts and make us unhappy and unable to love.”

The pope said the third step Jesus proposes to the young man is to “come, follow me.”

Quoting Benedict XVI’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor, Francis said “following Christ is not an external imitation, because it touches man in the profound interiority of him. Being disciples of Jesus means being conformed to him.”

“In return, we will receive a rich and happy life, full of the faces of so many brothers and sisters, and fathers and mothers and children… (cf. Mt 19:29),” the pope stated. “Following Christ is not a loss, but an incalculable gain, while renunciation concerns the obstacle that prevents the journey.”

“Do not be discouraged like the rich young man of the Gospel; instead, fix your gaze on Mary, the great model of the imitation of Christ, and entrust yourselves to her who, with her ‘here I am,’ responded unreservedly to the call of the Lord,” he said, adding that “We look to Mary to find the strength and receive the grace that allows us to say our ‘here I am’ to the Lord.”

The Medjugorje Youth Festival is focused on prayer, with Mass, Eucharistic adoration, the Rosary, and a Marian procession. The week also includes religious lessons, testimonies, and a musical show.

“This event -- as the experience of so many says -- has the strength to set us on the path towards the Lord,” the pope said.

Cardinal Robert Sarah, the retired prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments celebrated the youth festival’s opening Mass Aug. 1. Earlier this month, Sarah underwent a robot-assisted prostate surgery in south Italy.

In his Aug. 1 homily, Cardinal Sarah said “we have come here, to Medjugorje, to renew our faith in Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, that is, to establish an authentic and vital relationship with Him, our Lord and our God, so that in prayer we can answer the crucial question: How to find Jesus and how to behave in His penetrating and sovereign Presence?”

“Many of our contemporaries, I would even say the multitude of people so close to us, in our families, among our friends, where we study and work, seem insensitive, indifferent, even opposed and hostile to the question of the existence of God; they even claim that they no longer think of faith at all and that it is a sign that they are free,” Sarah said.

The cardinal encouraged young people to remember their baptism and, as St. Paul says in Ephesians 4:24, “to put on a new man, created by God in righteousness and holiness of truth.”

“Today Christ the Lord calls us to look up; it is really important to remind modern consumers to eat to live, not to live to eat,” he said.

Cardinal Sarah said “Jesus, who knows the human heart, wants to respond to our deepest desires, to our most essential aspirations, to this hunger for Love and this thirst for the Absolute that torments us.”

The Eucharist, he continued, is “a remedy that allows us to leave the shore of our comfort and our false security, which is marked by relativism, and to cross to the shore of the Gospel of Truth and the Salvation of our souls.”

Body of Tennessee Priest on Path to Canonization Reburied in Basilica

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Saint Eusebius of Vercelli

Painting depicting St. Eusebius
Image: Santo Eusébio Ressuscitando Três Pessoas | Raphael

Saint of the Day for August 2

(c. 300 - August 1, 371)
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Saint Eusebius of Vercelli's Story

Someone has said that if there had been no Arian heresy denying Christ’s divinity, it would be very difficult to write the lives of many early saints. Eusebius is another of the defenders of the Church during one of its most trying periods.

Born on the isle of Sardinia, he became a member of the Roman clergy, and is the first recorded bishop of Vercelli in Piedmont in northwest Italy. Eusebius was also the first to link the monastic life with that of the clergy, establishing a community of his diocesan clergy on the principle that the best way to sanctify his people was to have them see a clergy formed in solid virtue and living in community.

He was sent by Pope Liberius to persuade the emperor to call a council to settle Catholic-Arian troubles. When it was called at Milan, Eusebius went reluctantly, sensing that the Arian block would have its way, although the Catholics were more numerous. He refused to go along with the condemnation of Saint Athanasius; instead, he laid the Nicene Creed on the table and insisted that all sign it before taking up any other matter. The emperor put pressure on him, but Eusebius insisted on Athanasius’ innocence and reminded the emperor that secular force should not be used to influence Church decisions. At first the emperor threatened to kill him, but later sent him into exile in Palestine. There the Arians dragged him through the streets and shut him up in a little room, releasing him only after his four-day hunger strike. They resumed their harassment shortly after.

His exile continued in Asia Minor and Egypt, until the new emperor permitted him to be welcomed back to his see in Vercelli. Eusebius attended the Council of Alexandria with Athanasius and approved the leniency shown to bishops who had wavered. He also worked with Saint Hilary of Poitiers against the Arians.

Eusebius died peacefully in his own diocese at what was then considered an advanced age.


Reflection

Catholics in the U.S. have sometimes felt penalized by an unwarranted interpretation of the principle of separation of Church and state, especially in the matter of Catholic schools. Be that as it may, the Church is happily free today from the tremendous pressure put on it after it became an “established” Church under Constantine. We are happily rid of such things as a pope asking an emperor to call a Church council, Pope John I being sent by the emperor to negotiate in the East, or the pressure of kings on papal elections. The Church cannot be a prophet if it’s in someone’s pocket.


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