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    Congratulations to Cardinal-elect Gregory

    Jenny Kraska, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference, spoke about the elevation of Washington’s Archbishop, Cardinal-elect Wilton D. Gregory, to the College of Cardinals. Cardinal-elect Gregory serves on the Board of Governors of the Conference:

    “Today’s appointment of Cardinal-elect Gregory to the College of Cardinals is a great honor for him, the people he serves, and for all of us here in Maryland. Cardinal-elect Gregory is a pastor at heart whose gentle ministry is guided by his deep love for Christ. The universal Church will gain from his wisdom, kindness and faith as he takes on this new responsibility as a special advisor to the Holy Father and papal elector.

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    Town Halls on Police Reform

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    The Maryland Catholic Conference is convening two virtual town halls to discuss police reform and racial justice in Maryland, in partnership with two members of the Maryland House of Delegates Workgroup to Address Police Reform and Accountability, Delegate Darryl Barnes (D-25, Prince George’s County and chair of the Legislative Black Caucus) and Delegate Samuel “Sandy” Rosenberg (D-41, Baltimore City).

    The town halls will be held:

    • Tuesday, Oct. 6, 7:30 p.m. (our virtual "host" is Bishop McNamara High School, Forestville)
    • Monday, Oct. 26, 7:30 p.m. (our virtual "host" is St. Bernardine parish, Baltimore)

    Parishioners are invited to submit questions in advance or during the event here (please note which town hall). The town halls will be streamed live on the Maryland Catholic Conference’s Facebook page and can be accessed at mdcatholic.org/townhall.

    Panelists

    Panelists for the Oct. 6 town hall are Archbishop of Washington Wilton D. Gregory; Delegate Barnes; William Milam, vice-president of the Maryland Fraternal Order of Police; and Renee Mortel Joy, chief of the Public Integrity Unit of the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office and member of the Prince George’s County Police Reform Work Group.

    Panelists for the Oct. 26 town hall are Archbishop of Baltimore William E. Lori, Delegate Rosenberg, State Senator Jill Carter (D-41, City of Baltimore), and Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael S. Harrison.

    The House of Delegates’ Police Reform Workgroup is holding hearings, reviewing policies and procedures, identifying best practices for reform and accountability, and making recommendations prior to the January 2021 General Assembly session.

    Bishops' Letter on Racial Justice

    In June 2020, the Maryland bishops released a statement on racial justice that called for “…healing, harmony and solutions that recognize that every person has been created in the image of God and that every person possesses human dignity. …We pray that God will guide us during these difficult times and give us the courage to act with conviction in our duty to seek racial equality, heal divisions, and build bridges of understanding and hope.”

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    Celebrating 100 Years of Women's Suffrage

    Maryland Catholic women

    "The world doesn't need what women have, it needs what women are." - Edith Stein

    Download PDF: English | FrenchSpanish | Vietnamese

     August 26, 2020

    Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

    Today, the United States recognizes an important milestone. One hundred years ago, women gained the right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution. This amendment was the culmination of decades of steadfast advocacy, often in the face of violence and discrimination, by heroic women from all walks of life throughout our nation.

    As we celebrate this landmark achievement, we also acknowledge that many obstacles still must be overcome to achieve full recognition of the dignity of all women in our society.

    Given the contributions of women to the electorate over the last century, it seems almost inconceivable that so many did not support women’s suffrage 100 years ago, including some of our predecessors. We express our deep gratitude for the women who devoted their lives to fighting for the dignity of women at a time when this was considered unacceptable.

    The life of the Church in Maryland and, indeed, throughout our nation and world, has been enriched by women of the greatest caliber, women who have left their mark not only on the Church, but on all aspects of civilization. These women, and countless others, continue to inspire new generations of girls and women to share their unique gifts in service to the Church and for the common good.

    As we mark this historic occasion, we also recognize the many hurdles women continue to confront as they live out their vocations.

    We must remain vigilant to ensure that all women are treated with respect, acceptance and sincerity in the home, church, and workplace. We recall the prophetic words of St. John Paul II, who in his Letter to Women, said,“…there is an urgent need to achieve real equality in every area: equal pay for equal work, protection for working mothers, fairness in career advancements, equality of spouses with regard to family rights and the recognition of everything that is part of the rights and duties of citizens in a democratic State” while at the same time recognizing that  “…much remains to be done to prevent discrimination against those who have chosen to be wives and mothers.”  

    In Christ is Alive,  Pope Francis calls forth respect for women and acknowledgement that we as Church must recognize our own history: “[A] living Church can react by being attentive to the legitimate claims of those women who seek greater justice and equality. A living Church can look back on history and acknowledge a fair share of male authoritarianism, domination, various forms of enslavement, abuse and sexist violence.”

    He goes on to note the desire of young women in the Church to have women role models and mentors. To this end, we are grateful in a particular way to the women who serve in leadership positions in our own (arch)dioceses, parishes, schools, and Catholic ministries for the witness and encouragement they provide to young people as women of faith, intelligence and leadership. We hold up, as well, all women who provide their children and our society a loving witness to the beauty of family life.

    Our gratitude will never fully capture the heartfelt love we have for the many women in our own lives who have left an indelible mark on our character and vocations, beginning with our heavenly mother Mary. The enduring example of womanhood that Mary provides is a guiding light for all women; it is the ultimate example of unconditional love, sacrifice, strength, grace, and perseverance.

    It is our desire that the next 100 years of our nation’s history will serve as a time of continued progress that never fails to recognize the God-given dignity of all women. The voices and contributions of women are needed now more than ever as we seek to build a culture that recognizes that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights and those rights must be protected and preserved.

    We pray that all people of good will will join us in celebrating this momentous anniversary for women in the United States and may God’s grace continue to bless all women as they seek to live out their vocations.

    In Christ,

    Most Reverend William E. Lori 
    Archbishop of Baltimore

    Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory
    Archbishop of Washington
       
    Most Reverend W. Francis Malooly
    Bishop of Wilmington
    Most Reverend Roy E. Campbell Jr.
    Auxiliary Bishop of Washington
       

    Most Reverend Mario E. Dorsonville-Rodriguez
    Auxiliary Bishop of Washington

    Most Reverend Michael W. Fisher
    Auxiliary Bishop of Washington

       
    Most Reverend Bruce Lewandowski, CSsR
    Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore
    Most Reverend Denis J. Madden
    Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Baltimore
       
    Most Reverend Adam J. Parker
    Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore
     

     

     

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    What do the recent Supreme Court decisions say?

    Supreme Court of the United States

    The Supreme Court of the United States issued a number of opinions at the end of this year's session that directly impact Catholic entities or have been followed closely by the Church. Our staff summarized the issues and what the decisions mean: 

    Little Sisters of the Poor Win on Religious Freedom    

    In 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a “contraceptive mandate” requiring the Little Sisters of the Poor to pay for contraceptives in their healthcare plan against their religious and moral objections. After a number of challenges, these women religious made their third appearance at the Supreme Court earlier this year in a case about religious freedom and conscience protections. In a 7-2 decision in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania, the Court upheld the authority of a government agency to promulgate rules exempting employers with religious or moral objections from providing contraceptive coverage. The Little Sisters hope this will bring finality to their right to conscience protections on the issue.

    Faith-Based Organizations May Employ Those Who Uphold Their Mission

    In two cases consolidated into one for the Supreme Court’s decision, St. James School v. Biel and Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru, the Court upheld and expanded upon constitutional protections for faith-based organizations in employment decisions. In both cases, Catholic schools were sued by teachers for employment decisions made relative to whether the teachers were effectively carrying out the schools’ mission and identity as faith-based institutions. The Court had previously ruled that the “ministerial exception” could apply in instances where a person was in fact considered a “minister.”  In a 7-2 decision, the Court expanded upon that principle, ruling that faith-based schools may hire those who agree to carry out their faith mission and beliefs.

    States Cannot Prevent Faith-Based Schools from Educational Choice Programs

    Rooted in 19th-century anti-Catholic bigotry, “Blaine Amendments” in state constitutions that prohibited aid to faith-based schools have been used to block state-funded assistance to families and faith-based schools. In Espinoza v. Montana Dept. of Revenue, Ms. Espinoza, a single mother working three jobs, used a state-funded scholarship program to provide her children with the best education for their needs. The program was invalidated under Montana’s Blaine Amendment because it allowed families to choose a faith-based school. In a decision for educational choice and religious freedom, the Court invalidated the Blaine Amendment and ruled that it is unconstitutionally discriminatory for states to prohibit the participation of faith-based schools in state-funded programs simply due to their religious affiliation. Maryland does not have a Blaine Amendment.

    Louisiana Abortion Regulations Struck Down

    June Medical Services v. Russo dealt with a challenge to a Louisiana law requiring physicians to have admitting privileges at local hospitals in order to perform abortions. The Court held that its 2016 precedent in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt applied. There, an almost identical Texas law was struck down as an unconstitutional impediment to abortion. Though Chief Justice Roberts disagreed with the 2016 decision, he indicated that he was bound by the principles of legal precedent in concurring in the 5-4 decision. 

    DREAMERS Handed Victory in DACA Case

    Since 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program has postponed the deportation of those brought into the United States as children. The program was created largely to ensure that students (a/k/a “DREAMERS”) who were by and large raised in the United States could continue their education and not be subject to deportation. In Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California, the Court considered whether it was lawful for the current administration to phase out the DACA Program. The Court ultimately decided that the current administration did not have the authority to phase out the program in the manner that it did, and the program was thus upheld. 

    Clean Water Act Victory for Environmental Conservation

    An environmental case of interest here in Maryland also was decided. In County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, the Court considered the just how far the Clean Water Act was intended to go toward protecting oceans and other navigable waters from harmful waste discharge. In a 6-3 decision, the court upheld a significant expansion of the instances where a permit is required for pollutant discharge into those waters, thus further protecting against harmful pollutants finding their way into our waterways. 

     

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