WASHINGTON (CNS) – More than 2,400 religious faith leaders, including hundreds of Catholic women religious and dozens of priests, asked the U.S. Senate to vote down tax cut legislation. In a Nov. 29 letter to senators, the leaders called the bill “fiscally irresponsible” and said that it “endangers our country’s economic health.” The letter added that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act “disproportionately benefits the wealthy at the expense of vulnerable people and low-income families.” The letter expressed concern that the legislation, with its complexity, was “being recklessly rushed through Congress” without enough time for review by voters. The correspondence was sent under the auspices of the Interreligious Working Group on Domestic Human Needs and the Interfaith Healthcare Coalition. It was addressed to Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, Senate majority and minority leaders, respectively. “As people of faith, we view decisions about tax policy and the federal budget as moral decisions. Simply put, this proposed legislation is fundamentally unjust. If it becomes law, it will result in harmful consequences for those most needing support so as to the benefit of high-income earners and big corporations,” the letter said.
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski said laws need to be changed to fix the country’s broken immigration system, but in the process, immigrants should not be demonized. “Fixing illegal immigration does not require the demonization of the so-called ‘illegals,’” said Archbishop Wenski, addressing an audience at a Nov. 28 event in Miami sponsored by the Immigration Partnership and Coalition Fund. “America has always been a land of promise and opportunity for those willing to work hard. We can provide for our national security and secure borders without making America, a nation of immigrants, less a land of promise or opportunity for immigrants.” His comments were posted on the Archdiocese of Miami’s website. Laws, he said, are “meant to benefit, not to enslave, mankind,” and the laws in the country, regarding immigration, are too “antiquated” and “inadequate” to deal with the problem. “Outdated laws, ill adapted to the increasing interdependence of our world and the globalization of labor, are bad laws,” the archbishop said.
WASHINGTON (CNS) – The Archdiocese of Washington filed suit in federal court Nov. 28 over the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s advertising guidelines after the transit system rejected an Advent and Christmas advertisement. The archdiocese seeks injunctive relief after WMATA, as the agency is known, refused to allow an ad promoting the archdiocese’s annual “Find the Perfect Gift” initiative for the Advent and Christmas seasons. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The archdiocese contends WMATA’s policy that “prohibits all noncommercial advertising, including any speech that purportedly promotes a religion, religious practice or belief,” is a violation of the free speech and free exercise of religion clauses of the First Amendment and a violation of the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. The WMATA’s prohibition, the archdiocese contends, “violates the free speech rights of the Archdiocese because the prohibition creates an unreasonable and disproportionate burden on the exercise of the archdiocese’s speech without any legitimate justification.”
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Bashar Warda of Irbil, Iraq, spoke about the blessings that can be found in the midst of persecution. He made the comments in his homily during a Nov. 28 Chaldean Catholic memorial Mass for victims of genocide at the hands of Islamic State fighters. The Mass was celebrated at the St. John Paul II National Shrine in Washington and was a part of the Week of Awareness for Persecuted Christians sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Knights of Columbus, Catholic Relief Services, the Catholic Near East Welfare Association and Aid to the Church in Need. Archbishop Warda was the principal celebrant of the Mass, and was joined by Father Salar Kajo, a parish priest in Teleskof, a town in the Ninevah region of Iraq that was just liberated from Islamic State control. As the two celebrants entered the shrine at the beginning of the Mass, they chanted prayers in Aramaic. The majority of the Mass, including the eucharistic prayers and the Our Father, also was prayed in that language, which Jesus spoke as he lived 2,000 years ago in the same region of the world where Christians are being persecuted today.
WASHINGTON (CNS) – When the news broke Nov. 27 of Meghan Markle’s engagement to Prince Harry, reporters descended upon the Los Angeles Catholic school Markle attended: Immaculate Heart High School and Middle School. “They’ve been scaling the walls,” Callie Webb, communication director for the school, said with slight exaggeration, but maybe not too much, of the reporters calling and visiting the 112-year-old school with mission-style terra cotta roofs just a few miles from the landmark Hollywood sign. For two days, Webb’s phone was ringing off the hook and her email mailbox was flooded with requests from local newspapers and TV stations as well as national media and British tabloids about the school’s famous fiancee – the 1999 graduate who is not Catholic but attended the school from seventh grade (before the sixth grade was added) until graduation. ABC’s “20/20” spent a day on the campus – with six of their vans parked on the school’s ball field – for an episode airing Dec. 1.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis’ raffle to benefit those in need will give even more people a chance to win a gift once owned by the pope. Announcing the fifth annual raffle Nov. 30, the Vatican said tickets would be available for purchase online and in several areas accessible to the public, such as the Vatican Museums’ bookshop and the Vatican post office or pharmacy. Tickets also will be sold at the Paul VI audience hall to those attending the Dec. 16 Christmas charity concert. “In this way, people will have an opportunity to make a double gesture of charity,” said a statement from the Vatican City State governor’s office. For 10 euros – about $11 – ticket buyers are eligible to win one of several items originally given as gifts to Pope Francis.