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Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
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Monthly Archives: January 2014
Friday
By Adelaide Mena
 
WASHINGTON, D.C., January 17 (CNA/EWTN News)—The Supreme Court will rule this year on a case involving “buffer zones” outside abortion clinics, but it has declined to hear a case on state abortion bans after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
 
On January 15 the court heard oral arguments in McCullen v. Coakley, a case challenging a Massachusetts state law requiring a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics, in which protestors and pro-life counselors may not enter to speak with patients.
 
Supporters of the law say it is a matter of safety and unobstructed access to clinics, whereas opponents argue that it infringes upon freedom of speech and unfairly targets those who hold pro-life viewpoints.
 
The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling in the case in June.
The state’s brief on the case argues that the law is “justified solely by legitimate government interests in public safety and health care access.”
 
However, pro-life challengers to the law say that it infringes upon their constitutionally protected First Amendment right to the freedom of speech. They have argued in a legal brief that the law “indiscriminately criminalizes even peaceful, consensual, non-obstructive conversation and leafleting” and that it unfairly targets certain kinds of speech, namely, pro-life counseling and views.
 
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld the buffer law in January 2013, ruling that the First Amendment does not guarantee an audience “available at close range,” and arguing that pro-life counselors still have access to women seeking abortions, even with the 35-foot buffer zone in place.
 
Pro-life organizers from around the country have questioned the ruling.
“Though the Massachusetts law in question certainly has to do with abortion, and the risk to thousands of innocent human lives is severe, this is a First Amendment issue first and foremost,” said Lila Rose, president of the pro-life investigative organization Live Action, in a January 14 statement.
 
“The Constitution of the United States does not become void as one gets close to an abortion facility. The Court has a crucial opportunity today to defend our nation’s foundational commitment to freedom of speech.”
 
Dana Cody, president and executive director of Life Legal Defense Foundation, called for the “Supreme Court to put an end to these perverse attempts to silence pro-life speakers.”
 
“Massachusetts is grasping at straws and its ‘bubble zone’ law flies in the face of the very notion of freedom of speech,” she said.
 
The oral arguments in the Massachusetts case were heard two days after the Supreme Court announced that it would not be hearing an appeal from the state of Arizona that seeks to re-instate its law barring most late-term abortions.
 
Enacted in April 2012, the Arizona law prohibited most abortions after 20 weeks of gestation. About a dozen other states have similar restrictions. Several other states ban abortion at 24 weeks, the point of fetal viability.
 
Advocates of the Arizona law point to evidence that unborn babies can feel pain at 20 weeks of development and argue that late-term abortions pose a greater risk to the mother.
 
In May 2013 a panel of judges from the Ninth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals ruled the law unconstitutional, saying that Arizona’s limits on late-term abortion violated previous Supreme Court rulings that expanded access to abortion, including the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case.
 
Appeals-court judges also dismissed arguments based on the unborn baby’s ability to feel pain, saying that the state of Arizona can instead handle this problem by “requiring anesthetization of the fetuses about to be killed.”
 
The Supreme Court declined to hear the case, offering no comments on its decision. This allows the ruling from the appeals court to stand, overturning the regulation. Other state laws will not be affected.
Tuesday
WASHINGTON, D.C., January 14, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News)—The editors of USA Today have urged the Obama administration to stop trying to require the Little Sisters of the Poor to abide by the federal contraception mandate in violation of their religious beliefs.
 
“When the Obama administration picked a fight with Catholics and other religious groups over free birth-control coverage for employees, sooner or later it was bound to end up doing battle with a group like the Little Sisters of the Poor,” the USA Today editorial board said.
 
In a January 12 editorial entitled “Obamacare overreach tramples Little Sisters,” the publication’s editors argued that the administration’s move is “a political loser,” “constitutionally suspect,” and “ultimately unproductive.”
 
The Little Sisters of the Poor have worked for 175 years to care for the low-income elderly and dying in communities throughout the Unites States.
 
The community says its work is now being threatened by the federal contraception mandate, which was issued under the Affordable Care Act and requires employers to offer health-insurance plans covering contraception, sterilization, and some drugs that can cause early abortions.
 
The religious congregation on December 31 secured an emergency stay from the U.S. Supreme Court against the mandate. The Obama administration responded by reiterating its commitment to the mandate and its requirements.
 
USA Today said the administration is “now stuck arguing that it is justified in compelling nuns who care for the elderly poor to assist in offering health insurance that they say conflicts with their religious beliefs.”
 
The publication said the administration wrote its religious exemption to the rule “so narrowly” that it failed to exempt Catholic and other religious hospitals, colleges, and charities. The Little Sisters of the Poor fail to qualify because they are not affiliated with a particular house of worship.
 
The Obama administration “could find some less divisive way to provide the coverage,” USA Today said. “Instead, the administration is battling Catholic bishops and nuns, Southern Baptists, Christ-centered colleges, and assorted religious non-profits that filed challenges across the country.”
 
Rather than extend a religious exemption to the Little Sisters, the federal government has instead offered an “accommodation” under which the sisters can sign a document authorizing an outside group to provide the coverage they find morally objectionable.
 
However, the USA Today editors dismissed this accommodation as “more of a fig leaf than a fix.” They observed that the Little Sisters of the Poor and others say that the requirement “makes them complicit in an act that violates a tenet of their faith.”
 
The punishment for noncompliance with the mandate is “ruinous fines,” with the Little Sisters facing $4.5 million in annual fines for just two of their 30 homes.
 
USA Today noted that most of the legal cases against the mandate have been successful so far. More than 300 plaintiffs have filed lawsuits against the mandate, and legal injunctions have been granted in most cases, which are largely still working through the court system.
 
“The administration should take the hint,” the editorial said, calling on the federal government to adopt the “most expansive” religious exemption.
 
A “more meaningful” compromise would give religious freedom “the wide berth it deserves,” the publication stated.

 

Sunday

Redemptorist missionary Rev. Vincent John Douglass died quietly in his sleep on January 10, 2014, at St. Alphonsus Villa in New Smyrna Beach, Fla. He was 77 years old.

Father Douglass and his twin brother were born on August 2, 1936. His parents were members of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Brooklyn, N.Y. He professed his first vows as a Redemptorist on August 2, 1961, and was ordained on June 19, 1966.

The path that led Father Douglass to his Redemptorist vocation was indirect and winding, to say the least. Like many before him, he completed elementary school at OLPH, but he did not attend the Redemptorist Preparatory Seminary in North East, Pa. [read more]

Friday

Redemptorist missionary Rev. Vincent John Douglass died quietly in his sleep on January 10, 2014, at St. Alphonsus Villa in New Smyrna Beach, Fla. He was 77 years old.

Father Douglass and his twin brother were born on August 2, 1936. His parents were members of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Brooklyn, N.Y. He professed his first vows as a Redemptorist on August 2, 1961, and was ordained on June 19, 1966.

The path that led Father Douglass to his Redemptorist vocation was indirect and winding, to say the least. Like many before him, he completed elementary school at OLPH, but he did not attend the Redemptorist Preparatory Seminary in North East, Pa.

Instead he obtained his high school diploma from St. Michael’s in Brooklyn and then took evening college courses at St. John’s University while working during the day to help support his family.

When the Redemptorist parish priest, Father Wyatt, asked whether he had ever considered pursuing a religious vocation, Vincent expressed his interest in becoming a diocesan priest. Although Father Wyatt continued to minister to the many spiritual needs of the Douglass family, he also wrote a letter of recommendation on the young man’s behalf to the vocation director of the Diocese of Brooklyn.

Because his background in Latin was insufficient, the diocese sent him to St. Jerome’s in Kitchener, Canada. While studying there, he met a group of young seminarians who invited him to visit the Redemptorist Seminary in Windsor. And the rest is history.

After completing his theological studies at Esopus, N.Y., Father Douglass spent four years at St. Michael’s in Baltimore. Although he was extremely active in the apostolate as a parish priest, he was equally involved in the life of the community as the minister of the house.

In 1971 Father. Douglass was transferred to the Vice-Province of Richmond, where he worked for more than 40 years of his nearly 48 years of priesthood. His ministries included serving at the vice-provincial residence in Richmond, at the Redemptorist retreat house in Hampton, and at several parishes in Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

In 2008 he was transferred to less active duties at St. Alphonsus Villa in New Smyrna Beach, where he died.

When asked what kind of person he was, three of his classmates, without any consultation among themselves, responded in exactly the same way. “He was a very peaceful and kind person,” said Father Joseph Freund.

“He brought tranquility to the community,” agreed Father Tim Keating.

“He was a peace-loving individual,” echoed Father John Lavin. “He would never engage in harsh conversations or even in topics that led to quarreling. He was a great listener, which is probably why so many people came to him for counseling and advice.

“He was a very easygoing man who worked hard and led by example instead of barking out orders or making people feel inferior.”

“When it came to mission and ministry, especially for people who were in crisis, I know from personal experience that Father Douglass brought healing and love into many homes and hearts that were broken,” said Very Reverend Jerome Chavarria, the Vice-Provincial Superior.

 “I have this regret,” he added. “I wish I had spoken to Vinnie once more before he died. I would like to have thanked him again for the priestly kindness, consolation, and peace he brought to my family when my brother, Mike, died.”

A viewing and wake service will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, January 15, at Sacred Heart Church in New Smyrna Beach. A Mass of the Resurrection will be concelebrated at 11 a.m. Thursday, January 16, at Sacred Heart, followed by interment in the Redemptorist section of the Edgewater Cemetery in Edgewater, Fla.