WASHINGTON (CNS) – Catholic immigration advocates are emphasizing that the Oct. 5 ruling by a federal appeals court – finding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is unlawful – sends another signal that permanent legislation is needed to protect young immigrants from deportation and put them on a path to U.S. citizenship. A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans affirmed a lower court’s ruling last year that said the Obama administration did not have the legal authority in 2012 to create DACA in the first place. This appeals court decision, similar to the ruling last summer from a federal judge in Texas, prevents the Biden administration from enrolling new participants in the program. The new court decision continues to leave DACA in limbo. It did not say the program had to completely shut down or stop processing renewal applications, but it leaves in place last year’s order from U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen that said DACA could continue only for current recipients with no new participants. The 5th Circuit also returned the case to the lower court asking the judge to review new DACA regulations the Biden administration announced in August and set to go into effect Oct. 31. “DACA, like asylum, the border – immigration policy writ large – doesn’t belong in the courts,” Dylan Corbett, executive director of Hope Border Institute, tweeted after the ruling was announced. “Congress and the White House need to pass legislation that honors our values, the rights and dignity of those who migrate, and the contributions of those who make America home.”
WASHINGTON (CNS) – A federal court in Indiana sided with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and one of its Catholic high schools in a lawsuit filed by a former guidance counselor who said her contract was not renewed because of her same-sex union. The Sept. 30 ruling in Fitzgerald v. Roncalli High School and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, relied on previous Supreme Court rulings that have emphasized a ministerial exception protecting a religious school’s hiring and firing practices from government intrusion. The recent decision echoes a nearly identical ruling from a year ago based on a lawsuit filed against the same school and archdiocese from another school counselor whose contract was similarly not extended due to her same-sex union. The decisions in both cases were issued by U.S. District Judge Richard Young for the Southern District of Indiana. Young said the Indianapolis Archdiocese and its schools can select, retain or dismiss faculty according to their religious standards, something he also stressed a year ago. The current case involved Shelly Fitzgerald, former co-director of guidance at Roncalli High School for 15 years. Her employment was terminated in 2018 after she confirmed to the school that she was in a same-sex union and the school declined to renew her contract for the following year. School officials said her conduct was prohibited by the agreement she signed with the school.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The refusal to help desperate migrants “is revolting, it’s sinful, it’s criminal,” Pope Francis said as he canonized a bishop dedicated to assisting migrants and a Salesian brother who had immigrated with his family to Argentina. “The exclusion of migrants is criminal. It makes them die in front of us,” the pope said Oct. 9, referring to the deaths of migrants and refugees crossing dangerous seas in search of freedom and a dignified life. At the beginning of the liturgy in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis formally recognized the holiness of St. Giovanni Battista Scalabrini, an Italian who founded the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo to care for migrants, and St. Artemide Zatti, an Italian immigrant in Argentina who became a Salesian brother, pharmacist and nurse. The prayers at the Mass included one for “those forced to leave their homeland,” and asking God to teach people to share “his welcoming gaze toward all people” and “heal the throwaway culture of indifference.” Pope Francis focused much of his homily on the day’s Gospel reading about the 10 lepers healed by Jesus and, therefore, allowed back into society. “When we are honest with ourselves, we realize that we are all sick at heart, all sinners in need of the Father’s mercy,” the pope said. “Then we stop creating divisions on the basis of merit, social position or some other superficial criterion; our interior barriers and prejudices likewise fall. In the end, we realize once more that we are brothers and sisters.” Pope Francis asked the estimated 50,000 people at the Mass to think about whether in their families, at work and in their parishes, they are willing to walk with others and listen to them, “resisting the temptation to lock ourselves up in self-absorption and to think only of our own needs.”
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – As thousands of people sat in the dark in St. Peter’s Square, they watched fish jump from the facade of the basilica, saw the word “no” form and dissolve three times and heard an actor reciting the part of St. Peter speak about the overwhelming love and mercy of Jesus. They also heard tenor Andrea Bocelli sing four songs, including “The First Noel” from the soon-to-be released Christmas album he made with his children Matteo and Virginia. The nighttime event Oct. 2 was the premiere of “Follow Me,” an eight-minute film about the life and faith of St. Peter. Using “video mapping,” images of St. Peter from the basilica’s collection and that of the Vatican Museums were turned into 3D video clips and projected onto the facade of the basilica, which is built over the presumed tomb of the apostle. The film was to be shown every 15 minutes between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. until Oct. 16.
FULDA, Germany (CNS) – The president of the German bishops’ conference demanded an apology from a Swiss cardinal at the Vatican over comments that brought up Germany’s Nazi past. Bishop Georg Bätzing, president of the German bishops’ conference, demanded an apology from Cardinal Kurt Koch, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, who seemed to compare what is underlying the German bishops’ Synodal Path process with a mistaken Christian ideology that underpinned the rise of Nazism. Cardinal Koch said he had been misunderstood. At the end of the German bishops’ plenary assembly Sept. 29, Bishop Bätzing said that, with his remarks, Cardinal Koch had “disqualified himself from the theological debate” about the Synodal Path. “If a public apology does not happen immediately, I will file an official complaint with the Holy Father,” Bishop Bätzing said. Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch apologized for offending people and said he never intended to imply that supporters of the German church’s Synodal Path were doing something similar to what a group of Christian supporters of the Nazis did in the 1930s. At a meeting Oct. 4 in Rome with Bishop Georg Bätzing, president of the German bishops’ conference, “Cardinal Koch expressly emphasized that it was completely far from him to want to impute the terrible ideology of the 1930s to the Synodal Path,” said a statement published the next day by the bishops’ conference. “Cardinal Koch asks for forgiveness from all those who feel hurt by the comparison he made,” the statement continued.
MEXICO CITY (CNS) – Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega blasted Catholic leaders as a “gang of murderers,” in comments amping up persecution of the church and scorning Pope Francis’ call for dialogue in the Central American country. In a fiery address, Ortega took aim at Nicaragua’s Catholic bishops for promoting democracy as an exit from the country’s political crisis, alleging without proof that they called on protesters to kill him during the 2018 protests – which his regime violently repressed. He called the bishops and Pope Francis “the perfect dictatorship,” then asked, accusatorially, “Who elected the bishops, the pope, the cardinals?” He continued in the Sept. 28 speech marking the 43rd anniversary of the National Police: “With what moral authority do they speak of democracy? Let them start with the Catholic vote. … Everything is imposed. It’s a dictatorship, the perfect dictatorship. It’s a tyranny, the perfect tyranny.” Catholic clergy in Nicaragua have remained mostly silent as Ortega – who won elections in 2021 after disqualifying and imprisoning opposition candidates – has persecuted priests and bishops speaking out on issues of human rights and democratic deterioration. The government also has closed church-run charitable and education initiatives, along with Catholic radio stations, and expelled priests and nuns, including the Missionaries of Charity. Ortega claimed in his comments that he was Catholic, but did not feel “represented,” partly because, “We hear talk of democracy, and they don’t practice democracy.”