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Trump and Biden clash over Barrett nomination, abortion, in fiery debate

CNA Staff, Sep 30, 2020 / 09:00 am (CNA).- The future of Roe v. Wade and the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court were raised in Tuesday night’s presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden. 

While the 90-minute debate, held in Cleveland, Ohio, was marked by fiery exchanges from both candidates, with frequent interruptions during answers, both presidential candidates did offer some remarks on abortion and the Supreme Court.

Moderator Chris Wallace asked the candidates about Trump’s recent nomination of Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court, and for their thoughts about how Barrett might change the balance of the court. 

Trump, who answered first, said that Barrett was a “phenomenal nominee” who had the support of “very liberal people from Notre Dame and other places.” Barrett, said Trump, is “going to be fantastic.” 

“She’s going to be as good as anybody that has served on that court,” said Trump. The president defended his nomination of the judge during an election year, which has been criticized by Democratic lawmakers, who contrast the nomination with the Senate’s 2016 refusal to have a hearing on the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the court. Trump said that the Republican Party controls both the Senate and the presidency and therefore has the votes to confirm his nominee. In 2016, under President Barack Obama, the Democratic Party did not have the votes in the Senate to move forward with the confirmation process. 

“They had Merrick Garland, but the problem is they didn’t have the election so they were stopped,” said Trump. “And probably that would happen in reverse, also. Definitely would happen in reverse.”

Trump added that he was elected to serve as president for four years, not three years, and had the right to fill vacancies in the Supreme Court any time they arose during his four-year term. 

Biden said that the Senate should “wait” when it comes to confirming Barrett to the Supreme Court, saying that “The American people have a right to have a say in who the Supreme Court nominee is and that say occurs when they vote for United States senators and when they vote for the president of the United States.”

“They’re not going to get that chance now because we’re in the middle of an election already,” said Biden, noting that many people have already cast their votes. 

Biden was also asked if, should he be elected, he would support efforts to add justices to the Supreme Court beyond the nine now prescribed by law. Biden declined repeatedly to answer the question.

Biden said that the Affordable Care Act, legislation that was passed while he was serving as vice president, was at stake due to Barrett’s potential presence on the court. 

“And the justice--I’m not opposed to the justice--she seems like a very fine person,” said Biden. “But she’s written, before she went on the bench, which is her right, that she thinks that the Affordable Care Act is not constitutional. The other thing that’s on the court, and if it’s struck down, what happens? Women’s rights are fundamentally changed.” 

The former vice president, a Catholic and strong supporter of expanded access to abortion, also suggested that abortion rights could be at risk if Barrett is confirmed to the Supreme Court. 

“The point is that the president also is opposed to Roe v. Wade,” said Biden. “That’s on the ballot as well and the court, in the court, and so that’s also at stake right now.”

Trump pushed back at the apparent notion that overturning the Roe v. Wade decision was on the ballot this November, saying that “it’s not on the ballot.” 

“There’s nothing happening there,” Trump said, referring apparently to the issue of abortion at the Supreme Court. Trump did not elaborate.

Wallace said the conversation would eventually return to Roe v. Wade, but the topic was not again raised during the debate. 

Cardinal Pell arrives in Rome as financial scandal casts shadow over Vatican

Rome, Italy, Sep 30, 2020 / 08:00 am (CNA).- Cardinal George Pell arrived in Rome Wednesday as financial scandals continue to cast a shadow over the Vatican.

The former prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy was pictured in the Italian capital Sept. 30 on his first visit to the city since he left in 2017 for Australia to prove his innocence of abuse charges. 

The 79-year-old left Sydney International Airport on Tuesday evening and arrived in Italy following an overnight flight, sources close to the cardinal confirmed to CNA. 

On the day of Pell’s arrival, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica claimed in a front-page report that Vatican investigators had discovered that 20 million pounds ($26 million) had been withdrawn from an account reserved for use by Pope Francis.

In 2014, the pope asked Pell to take charge of the newly created Secretariat for the Economy and to lead efforts at reforming Vatican financial affairs. After charges of sexual abuse were brought by Victoria police, Pell took temporary leave of his role in 2017 to return to Australia and defend his name. 

Pell faced allegations from a single accuser related to his time as bishop of Melbourne. He spent 13 months in solitary confinement after he was initially convicted and given a six-year prison sentence, before being vindicated on appeal to the High Court.

Pell’s term of office as head of the Vatican’s financial secretariat expired during his time in prison, with Pope Francis naming Fr. Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, SJ, to succeed him in 2019.

The Australian cardinal returned to Rome less than a week after the dramatic resignation of Cardinal Angelo Becciu. Pope Francis asked Becciu to resign as prefect of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints and from the rights extended to members of the College of Cardinals Sept. 24 after he was linked to an ongoing investigation of financial misconduct at the Vatican.

Becciu had worked previously as the number two-ranking official in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, where, CNA has previously reported, he repeatedly clashed with Pell over the reform of Vatican finances.

The Italian cardinal held a press conference in Rome Sept. 25 at which he protested his innocence of financial wrongdoing.

Pell responded to the news of Becciu’s resignation with gratitude.

“The Holy Father was elected to clean up Vatican finances. He plays a long game and is to be thanked and congratulated on recent developments,” Pell wrote in a statement sent to CNA Sept. 25.

“I hope the cleaning of the stables continues in both the Vatican and Victoria,” Pell said.

Salesians raise 8 million euros for families affected by pandemic

CNA Staff, Sep 30, 2020 / 06:59 am (CNA).- The head of the Salesians announced that the order has raised nearly 8 million euros to help thousands of families worldwide who have been financially affected during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Specifically, 7.9 million euros have been collected, a very significant amount that has reached 62 Salesian provinces around the world, in response to 143 projects in support of very hard-hit families, who have benefited from food and small salaries to support themselves,” said Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime, Rector Major of the Salesians.

Fernández, who is the tenth successor of Fr. Don Bosco, founder of the order, spoke in a video message during his visit to Turin, where he is present for the opening of the ”Don Bosco House Museum” from October 2 to 4.

“I would like to tell you, in the name of Don Bosco, thank you for that solidarity, thank you for the good we do together,” he said to all those who donated.

“It’s been very beautiful because it has not only been about collecting money to help people, it’s also been about putting together reflections, concerns, ideas and initiatives to reach all parts of the world.”

Fernández stressed that many lives can be saved when people work together.

“For all this, in the name of Don Bosco, thank you very much for continuing to really help and change the lives of so many people,” he said.

The Salesians were founded by St. John Bosco, a 19th century Italian priest who had a particular love and apostolate for at-risk and underserved youth. Today, the order serves youth throughout the world primarily in schools, homeless shelters, and community centers.

 

Pope Francis calls for new economic model to rebuild post-coronavirus world

Vatican City, Sep 30, 2020 / 06:00 am (CNA).- Pope Francis called Wednesday for a new economic model to help rebuild the world after the coronavirus pandemic. 

In his general audience address in the San Damaso Courtyard, within the Vatican’s apostolic palace, Sept. 30, the pope criticized “trickle-down theory,” which proposes that tax breaks for high-earners will ultimately yield economic benefits for the rest of society.

He said: “And certainly we cannot expect the economic model that underlies unfair and unsustainable development to solve our problems. It has not and will not, because it cannot do so, even though some false prophets continue to promise the ‘trickle-down’ that never comes.” 

He added: “You have heard yourselves, the theory of the glass: it is important that the glass is full, and then overflows to the poor and to others, and they receive wealth. But there is a phenomenon: the glass starts to fill up and when it is almost full it grows, it grows and it grows, and never overflows. We must be careful.”

Today’s general audience address concluded a catechetical cycle entitled “Healing the world,” which the pope launched Aug. 5. The cycle focused on how the Church’s social doctrine can help the world to recover from the ravages of COVID-19, which has killed more than a million people worldwide. 

The series of addresses touched on themes that he is expected to develop in his new encyclical, Fratelli tutti, which will be published on Sunday.

The audience began with a reading in several languages from Hebrews 12:1-2, in which St. Paul the Apostle urges Christians to keep their “eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.”

Reviewing the catechetical cycle, the pope said: “In recent weeks we have reflected together, in the light of the Gospel, on how to heal the world that is suffering from a malaise that the pandemic has highlighted and accentuated. The malaise was already there: the pandemic highlighted it more, it accentuated it.” 

“We have walked the paths of dignity, solidarity and subsidiarity, paths that are essential to promote human dignity and the common good. And as disciples of Jesus, we have proposed to follow in His steps, opting for the poor, rethinking the use of material goods and taking care of our common home.” 

He continued: “In the midst of the pandemic that afflicts us, we have anchored ourselves to the principles of the social doctrine of the Church, letting ourselves be guided by faith, by hope and by charity. Here we have found solid help so as to be transformers who dream big, who are not stopped by the meanness that divides and hurts, but who encourage the generation of a new and better world.”



He challenged pilgrims, who were sat spaced apart in the courtyard as a safety measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19, to keep their eyes fixed on Christ. 

“Jesus, who renews and reconciles every creature, gives us the gifts necessary to love and heal as He knew how to do, to take care of all without distinction on the basis of race, language or nation,” he said.

To prepare for this healing mission, he explained, it was essential to “contemplate and appreciate the beauty of every human being and every creature,” recognizing Christ especially in the poor and suffering. 



He said that Christians were called to help society emerge from the pandemic in “a human way,” rather than a “mechanical way,” displaying the tenderness that is “the very sign of Jesus’ presence.”

He said: “A small virus continues to cause deep wounds and to expose our physical, social, and spiritual vulnerabilities. It has laid bare the great inequality that reigns in the world: inequality of opportunity, inequality of goods, inequality of access to health care, inequality of technology, education: millions of children cannot go to school, and so the list goes on.” 

“These injustices are neither natural nor inevitable. They are the work of man, they come from a model of growth detached from the deepest values ... And this has made many people lose hope and has increased uncertainty and anguish. That is why, to come out of the pandemic, we must find the cure not only for the coronavirus -- which is important! -- but also for the great human and socio-economic viruses.”

He continued: “We need to set to work urgently to generate good policies, to design systems of social organization that reward participation, care and generosity, rather than indifference, exploitation and particular interests.” 

“We must go ahead with tenderness. A fair and equitable society is a healthier society. A participatory society -- where the “last” are taken into account just like the “first” -- strengthens communion. A society where diversity is respected is much more resistant to any kind of virus.”

Concluding the address with a reflection on the kingdom of heaven, he said: “May God grant us to ‘viralize’ love and to ‘globalize’ hope in the light of faith.”



After his address, the pope offered a special greeting to new seminarians who arrived recently in Rome to begin their formation at the Pontifical North American College, as well as to deacons. 

He said: “May the Lord sustain their efforts to be faithful servants of the Gospel. Upon all of you and your families I invoke the joy and peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!”

Greeting Polish pilgrims, the pope noted that October is traditionally dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary. 

“Be faithful to your custom of praying the rosary in your communities and especially in your families,” he said. “Reflecting every day on the mysteries of Mary’s life in the light of the salvific work of her Son, let her participate in your joys, your worries and moments of happiness. May God bless you through her hands!”

Moneyval evaluation begins at Vatican

Vatican City, Sep 30, 2020 / 05:00 am (CNA).- The Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering watchdog, Moneyval, began its two-week on-site inspection of the Holy See and Vatican City Wednesday.

According to a Vatican statement Sept. 30, “the scope of this phase of evaluations” is to assess “the effectiveness of the legislative and institutional measures” adopted by the Holy See and Vatican City in recent years.

This evaluation follows Moneyval’s first on-site visit to the Vatican in 2012, as well as three progress reports, the last of which was in December 2017, the statement said.

Moneyval carries out the same evaluations on all its member jurisdictions.

Carmelo Barbagallo, president of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority, described the inspection as “especially important.” “Its outcome may determine how the jurisdiction [of the Vatican] is perceived by the financial community,” he said on July 3.

After the 2012 visit, the Vatican agreed to comply with a set of “recommendations” from Moneyval, incorporating them into internal policies. The two bodies have issued periodic updates on the Vatican’s progress. 

The 2020 evaluation will likely be looking to see how well these recommendations have been incorporated by Vatican offices, and at the role of APSA, which functions as the Holy See treasury, sovereign wealth manager, and administers payroll and operating expenses for Vatican City.