Very interesting.

Washingon Times:

The director of “The Exorcist” said he was recently invited by the Vatican to witness an alleged case demonic possession. He left a changed man.

William Friedkin, 80, told an audience at the Cannes film festival that he went to Rome to experience an exorcism unfold in person.

“I was invited by the Vatican exorcist to shoot and video an actual exorcism which … few people have ever seen and which nobody has ever photographed,” he said, Agence France-Press reported Thursday.

Mr. Friedkin said he was “astonished” at how many similarities there were to his 1973 film.

“I don’t think I will ever be the same having seen this astonishing thing. I am not talking about some cult — I am talking about an exorcism by the Catholic Church in Rome,” he said, AFP reported.

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USCCB President Reacts To Supreme Court HHS Mandate Decision

May 16, 2016
WASHINGTON—Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a per curiam opinion in the case of Zubik v. Burwell, in which Catholic and other religious organizations are challenging the HHS mandate requiring them to facilitate health insurance coverage of sterilization, contraception, and drugs and devices that may cause abortions.

The Court unanimously vacated the decisions before it, remanding the cases to the lower courts with instructions to afford the parties the opportunity to work out an alternative approach to the mandate. In the meantime, the Court forbade the government from imposing taxes or penalties on the organizations for failure to provide the required “notice” and “certification” or otherwise to trigger the “accommodation.”

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, offered the following statement in response:

I am encouraged by today’s unanimous decision of the Supreme Court. It wipes away the bad decisions that so many of our charitable ministries were appealing, it maintains hope that we might resolve this dispute finally and favorably sometime in the future, and in the meantime, it prevents the Administration from issuing crippling fines against those who object.

I take this occasion to reiterate the unity and resolve that the bishops of the United States have expressed repeatedly in opposition to the HHS mandate, such as in their Special Message from 2013 and their statement “United for Religious Freedom” from 2012. I also recall the encouragement that we have received from Pope Francis in this regard during his recent apostolic visit to the United States, first by his remarks at the White House, and then by his personal visit to the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Speaking about religious liberty from the White House in September, Pope Francis said “that freedom remains one of America’s most precious possessions. And, as my brothers, the United States Bishops, have reminded us, all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.”

In light of this, USCCB will continue its opposition to the HHS mandate in all three branches of government. We are grateful to the Supreme Court for the opportunity to continue that effort. We remain convinced that, as a nation, we do not wish to push people of faith and their ministries out of charitable work – under threat of severe government fines – or leave freedom of religion protected only in private worship.

USCCB Chairmen Respond To Administration’s New Guidance Letter On Title IX Application

May 16, 2016
USCCB Chairmen Respond to Administration’s New Guidance Letter on Title IX Application

WASHINGTON—Two Committee chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued the following statement in response to guidance issued May 13 by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education entitled “Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students”:

The Catholic Church consistently affirms the inherent dignity of each and every human person and advocates for the wellbeing of all people, particularly the most vulnerable. Especially at a young age and in schools, it is important that our children understand the depth of God’s love for them and their intrinsic worth and beauty. Children should always be and feel safe and secure and know they are loved.

The guidance issued May 13 by the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education that treats “a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex” is deeply disturbing. The guidance fails to address a number of important concerns and contradicts a basic understanding of human formation so well expressed by Pope Francis: that “the young need to be helped to accept their own body as it was created” (Amoris Laetitia [AL], no. 285).

Children, youth, and parents in these difficult situations deserve compassion, sensitivity, and respect. All of these can be expressed without infringing on legitimate concerns about privacy and security on the part of the other young students and parents. The federal regulatory guidance issued on May 13 does not even attempt to achieve this balance. It unfortunately does not respect the ongoing political discussion at the state and local levels and in Congress, or the broader cultural discussion, about how best to address these sensitive issues. Rather, the guidance short-circuits those discussions entirely.

As Pope Francis has recently indicated, “‘biological sex and the socio-cultural role of sex (gender) can be distinguished but not separated'” (AL, no. 56, emphasis added). We pray that the government make room for more just and compassionate approaches and policies in this sensitive area, in order to serve the good of all students and parents, as well as the common good. We will be studying the guidance further to understand the full extent of its implications.

The statement was issued by Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth; and Archbishop George Lucas, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Catholic Education.

Bishop Conley:

On Friday, May 13, the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Justice issued a joint instruction, which they called “significant guidance,” to public school districts across the country. The guidance stated that in order to receive federal funds for education, every public school district must provide services, restrooms, and “equal access” to all students according to their stated gender identity.

The federal government has ordered that when any student and his parents tell the school that his “gender identity” has changed—if he was born a boy, for example, but considers himself a girl—the school must treat him, in every possible way, like an actual girl. The government declared that the boy who says he is a girl must be permitted to change in locker rooms with other girls, to stay in girls’ rooms on overnight trips, and, very often, to participate on girls’ sports teams.

This “guidance” is deeply disturbing. In fact, the administration’s action is simply wrong. It is wrong to deny the fundamental difference between men and women; and to teach children that our identity, at its very core, is arbitrary and self-determined. God created us male and female, and policies like this deny the basic beauty of God’s creation.

Boethius, the 6th century Roman senator and Christian philosopher, was a thoughtful critic of disturbing trends he saw in Roman society. In his classic work, the Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius criticized those evil spirits “who slay the rich and fruitful harvest of Reason with the barren thorns of Passion. They habituate men to their sickness of mind instead of curing them.”

We are living in a time when ordinary human reason is quickly being replaced by “the barren thorns of passion.” Our entire culture has been caught up in a kind of sentimentalized and relativized tyranny of tolerance: we vilify and condemn, ever more quickly, any sense of reasonable and ordered social policy. We have a vague sense that endorsing certain fashionable kinds of social and emotional disorders—including transgenderism—is a mandate of justice, or a victory for civil rights.

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