St. Mary Catholic Community

Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

Archbishop Follo: The Body of Christ: Bread of Life, Angelic Bread for Humanity

With the invitation to take the communion and to worship Christ-Eucharist as the Virgin Mary did it.

The post Archbishop Follo: The Body of Christ: Bread of Life, Angelic Bread for Humanity appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Update: Historic cross on public property can stay, Supreme Court rules

IMAGE: CNS photo/Chaz Muth

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In a 7-2 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of preserving a historic cross-shaped memorial in Bladensburg, Maryland saying the cross did not endorse religion.

The June 20 ruling reversed a lower court decision last year.

"Although the cross has long been a preeminent Christian symbol, its use in the Bladensburg memorial has a special significance," said the court's ruling in an opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito. He said the memorial, paying tribute to soldiers who died in World War I, should be seen in the same "historical context" as the white crosses marking the overseas graves of soldiers who had lost their lives in that war.

He also said removing the memorial "would be seen by many not as a neutral act but as the manifestation of a hostility toward religion that has no place in our Establishment Clause traditions."

Alito noted that for nearly a century, the 40-foot cross "has expressed the community's grief at the loss of the young men who perished, its thanks for their sacrifice, and its dedication to the ideals for which they fought. It has become a prominent community landmark."

Several justices wrote separate opinions in this case, dissented by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor.

"This is a great victory for not only the American Legion and our veterans, but really this is a landmark decision on religious liberty," said Kelly Shackelford, president and chief counsel to First Liberty Institute, a Texas law firm that represented the American Legion in this case

Joining him for a news conference in front of Supreme Court June 20 was Michael Moore, commissioner of the American Legion Post 136 in Greenbelt, Maryland, who first visited the memorial when he was 8 years old with his father and learned about the 49 men whose memories are enshrined there.

"I feel vindicated. The legion is just gratified at the decision. We're very, very happy that the memory, sacrifice and the service of past members will not be destroyed," he told reporters.

Shackelford said that for 50 years the Lemon test -- based on a 1971 Supreme Court case Lemon v Kurtzman and used to determine if a law violates the First Amendment -- has caused confusion and attacks on veterans' memorials, menorahs, Nativity scenes and more.

"The Lemon test is not useful in this context, it's not helpful," he said. "We are a country that has a religious heritage and history, so you're going to see monuments that are secular and those that are religious."

Charlie Russo, director of the University of Dayton's doctoral program in Educational Leadership and Research and a law professor at the University of Dayton School of Law in Ohio, said the decision "shakes the Establishment Clause jurisprudence to its very foundation."

"Of course, it remains to be seen what happens in later litigation, but religious symbols may well be OK in public education and elsewhere," he told Catholic News Service, saying this ruling could have "an impact on the many cases in schools where religious symbols such as the cross, a creche and student-painted religious murals have been banned."

But the court ruling also left some wiggle room. Abner Greene, a professor at Fordham Law School in New York, said the court "did not adopt the more conservative position that only government coercion violates the Establishment Clause."

He said the court specifically focused "on the history of the specific religious symbol on state property" and "did not adopt a more categorically permissive rule."

In late February, the justices heard oral arguments about the 93-year-old cross on a grassy median strip in an intersection of a Washington suburb. Opponents said it endorsed religion and supporters viewed it as a secular monument.

Known as the Bladensburg Cross or the Peace Cross, the cement and marble memorial was erected by the Snyder-Farmer Post of the American Legion of Hyattsville, Maryland, to recall the 49 men of Prince George's County who died in World War I. The cross, whose construction was funded by local families, was dedicated July 13, 1925.

Last year, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals based in Richmond, Virginia, ruled 2-1 that the monument is unconstitutional and must be removed or destroyed because it has the "primary effect of endorsing religion and excessively entangles the government in religion."

The American Humanist Association, a Washington-based group that represents atheists and others, filed suit against the memorial, saying its cross shape on public property violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

The monument's supporters stress that its message is secular: to commemorate war victims. They also have argued that its cross shape was not intended for religious reasons but to look similar to cross-shaped grave markers in Europe used for American soldiers who died there.

"Figure out where you want to draw the line," Justice Elena Kagan said during oral arguments about markers with religious connotations.

She also pointed out some distinctions about this memorial, saying it was put up when crosses were a common way to honor those who died in World War I; it is located near other war memorials and does not include religious language.

Other justices pointed out the strong Christian symbolism that comes across even in a plain cross. Ginsburg pointed out that it is "the preeminent symbol of Christianity."

Alito had cautioned against a general ruling against all war memorials with crosses, telling the attorney representing those opposed to the memorial: "There are cross monuments all over the country, many of them quite old. Do you want them all taken down?"

The Trump administration had joined dozens of religious, municipal and veterans' groups defending the cross monument and complaining that the court's mixed messages about religious symbols have forced legal battles on a case-by-case basis.

The Thomas More Law Center, a nonprofit law firm with a focus on religious liberty, said in a friend-of-the-court brief that the monument's purpose was not to advance or inhibit religion but to "honor the dead using a historical symbol of death and sacrifice."

"The decision to destroy this memorial, which existed without complaint for nearly a century, simply because the plaintiffs, passing motorists, claim to be offended by the memorial's use of the Latin cross, evidences an intolerance to religion, and Christianity in particular, that is wholly inconsistent with our nation's history and with the purpose and meaning of the First Amendment's Religion Clauses," it said.

- - -

Contributing to this story was Sydney Clark.

- - -

Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim.



- - -

Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

Abu Dhabi Document Discussion

Articles from June 20, 2019

The post Abu Dhabi Document Discussion appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Migration situation requires a humane, Christian response, official says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Mohsin Raza, Reuters

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican recognizes how difficult it is for nations to manage the flow of migrants and refugees, but one thing is certain: "We must respond in a humane manner, a Christian manner, and we must try to help people, not harm them," said the Vatican foreign minister.

Archbishop Paul Gallagher, whose formal title is Vatican secretary for relations with states, spoke with Vatican News June 19, the eve of the U.N.'s World Refugee Day.

While the Vatican obviously respects the sovereignty of individual nations to determine how best to respond to the needs of migrants and refugees, the archbishop said, "the numbers are what they are, and we must face that and we must help."

In connection with World Refugee Day, the U.N. Refugee Agency released its annual report on "forced displacement" around the world.

At the end of 2018, it said, there were 70.8 million people forcibly displaced worldwide, and 25.9 million of those people were officially recognized as refugees, which means they were found to have fled their homelands because of persecution, war or violence and they have a "well-founded fear of persecution" if they return home. At year's end, another 3.5 million people were asylum seekers in the process of applying for protected status.

Children under the age of 18 make up one half of the world's refugee population, the report said. And, in what the U.N. said was surely an "underestimate," it counted 27,600 unaccompanied and separated children, who sought asylum on their own, and another 111,000 unaccompanied and separated children, who had refugee status.

More than two-thirds (67%) of all refugees were from five countries: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia.

The five countries hosting the most refugees, the U.N. said, were: Turkey with 3.7 million refugees; Pakistan with 1.4 million; Uganda with 1.2 million; Sudan with 1.1 million and Germany with 1.1 million.

Archbishop Gallagher told Vatican News, "It's obvious that conflicts in the world, difficulties with the environment and extreme poverty are elements that will not change from one day to the next, so we must continue -- probably for many years -- to act in solidarity and with fraternal love for these people."

While the situation is dire for the migrants and refugees, the archbishop said that people in wealthier nations must acknowledge the contributions of newcomers, and not just in terms of cultural enrichment, but also in offsetting the declining birthrate in many European countries and the need in many nations for factory and farmworkers.

"So, it is necessary to have a balanced approach, but also try to humanize ourselves," he said. "In fact, if one treats others badly, we are the ones who are diminished."


- - -

Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

Pope Francis Meets Cardinal Ranjith of Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan Cardinal Is in Rome for Press Conference of Aid to the Church in Need

The post Pope Francis Meets Cardinal Ranjith of Sri Lanka appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Save the Children Calls for Aid for Children in Africa

Day of the African Child (DAC) Marked on June 16

The post Save the Children Calls for Aid for Children in Africa appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Indonesian Bishop Cites Source of Vocations

'The boom in vocations arises from faith lived in the family'

The post Indonesian Bishop Cites Source of Vocations appeared first on ZENIT - English.

Opening of Christian Archaeological Site of Sir Bani Yas, United Arab Emirates

'The church and monastery shed light on our cultural history, one that we can be proud of.'

The post Opening of Christian Archaeological Site of Sir Bani Yas, United Arab Emirates appeared first on ZENIT - English.

World Refugee Day 2019 to be Celebrated June 20

WASHINGTON—Today is World Refugee Day which is observed in the United States and around the world. World Refugee Day, first celebrated in 2000, is designed to increase awareness of refugees.

Currently, the world is embroiled in the biggest migratory crisis since World War II with more than 25 million refugees around the world.

“We have seen the images of the refugee crisis, and World Refugee Day calls attention to the critical need to assist our refugee brothers and sisters and make them feel a sense of welcome,” said Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration. “It is imperative for us to highlight the contributions refugees make in our communities.”

The Presidential Determination for refugee resettlement was set at an all-time low of 30,000 refugees for the current fiscal year. This comes only one year after half of the 45,000 refugees set forth by the Administration’s determination were resettled in the United States.  

USCCB/MRS, with Catholic Charities USA, will be participating in a Capitol Hill briefing on Thursday for members of Congress and their staff. The briefing will include information about the root causes forcing refugees to flee their home country and the impact of refugee resettlement in the United States. More information on World Refugee Day can be found on the Justice for Immigrants website.

Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Joe Vazquez, Committee on Migration, refugees, migrants, immigrants, human trafficking, World Refugee Day

# # #
Mark Priceman
O: 202-541-3064