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Pastor of vibrant Arkansas parish named Bishop of Shreveport

Vatican City, Nov 19, 2019 / 06:00 am (CNA).- Pope Francis Tuesday appointed Msgr. Francis Malone, pastor of an Arkansa parish known for having generated many priestly vocations, as the next bishop of Shreveport, Louisiana.

Malone, 69, is the pastor of Christ the King in Little Rock, Arkansas, a parish which has produced at 6 priests and 6 seminarians since 2006. Before he became pastor in 2001, the parish had not had any vocations.

“Msgr. Francis Malone ... showed me how pure joy can be infectious, and that made me want to be a priest from an early age,” Daniel Wendel, a seminarian from Christ the King parish, wrote on the Diocese of Little Rock website this year.

Other seminarians and parishioners pointed to Msgr. Malone’s example as among the reasons why their parish has drawn many men to the priesthood. Malone himself credited Eucharistic Adoration.

“Our parish had no seminarians until after we inaugurated perpetual adoration,” Msgr. Malone told Arkansas Catholic in 2013.

“There can be no coincidence that since PEA [Perpetual Eucharitsic Adoration] began, we have had 11 men step forward to begin the process of discernment that leads to the altar, one of whom is now ordained,” he said.

As bishop-elect of the Diocese of Shreveport, Malone will succeed Bishop Michael Gerard Duca who led the diocese for ten years until Pope Francis appointed him bishop of Baton Rouge in June 2018.

Born in Philadelphia on Sept. 1, 1950, Malone was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Little Rock at the age of 26. Before becoming pastor at Christ the King, Malone served as pastor at Immaculate Conception Church, St. Anne Church, St. Michael Church, St. Mary of the Mount Church, and rector at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock, among other assignments.

Malone is a canon lawyer, who earned his J.C.L. at the Catholic University of America in 1989. He is also holds multiple degrees from the University of Dallas, where he studied history as an undergraduate, and went on to earn master’s degrees in both divinity and education.

He has served as Chancellor of Ecclesial Affairs for the Diocese of Little Rock since 2008. Previously he was vicar general 2002-2006, managing editor of Arkansas Catholic Newspaper & director of communications in 1995, and chaplain of Rogers Memorial Hospital in 1983.

He was named a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre in 2002 and a protonotary apostolic in 2010.

Malone will be the third bishop of Shreveport, a diocese created in 1986. The Diocese of Shreveport has a total population of 812,200, of which 41,335 are Catholic.

Democratic AG group wrong to shun pro-life candidates, critics say

Washington D.C., Nov 19, 2019 / 03:00 am (CNA).- Pro-life Democrats and some election-minded politicos have faulted the decision of a Democratic state attorneys general organization to support only declared pro-abortion rights candidates.

The Democratic Attorneys General Association will require candidates to make a public pro-abortion statement if they want to receive backing from the group, the association announced. The association recruits candidates and provides financial support, data analysis, messaging work and policy position development.

Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America, pointed to the victory of Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, a pro-life Democrat, who won reelection by about 40,000 votes on Nov. 16.

Given his recent victory, Day told CNA, “it is clearly the wrong direction for the Democratic Attorney Generals Association to impose an abortion litmus test on democratic candidates. This is particularly concerning for a party that prides itself on diversity and inclusion.”

“Governor Edwards did not run from his pro-life position, he embraced it and was proud to promote a whole life agenda to protect and support life from womb to tomb,” Day continued. “This was a source of strength for his campaign. An abortion-rights candidate would have lost. Imposing a litmus test on candidates would force one-third of Democrats, who oppose abortion, out of the party and lessen the opportunity for Democratic gains.”

“We encourage [the Democratic Attorneys General Association] to reconsider this shortsighted and discriminatory policy and embrace a big tent policy of inclusion,” she said.

New York Attorney General Letitia James discussed the new requirement in a Nov. 17 video for the group.

“Attorneys general are on the front lines of the fight for reproductive freedom,” James said. “They have the power to protect your rights.”

Jim Hood, Attorney General of Mississippi, is the only Democratic attorney general to describe himself as a pro-life Democrat. There are 27 Democrats holding this office across the U.S.

Former U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, a two-term Democratic attorney general who lost her 2018 Senate re-election bid in a strongly Republican state, told the New York Times she thought the new policy was “wrongheaded.”

“There are very principled people, who are Democrats, who feel very strongly about this issue for religious reasons and when you say you’re not welcome in our party I think it is exclusionary,” she said. “You have to look at the totality of a candidate.”

She too cited the victory of Gov. Edwards of Louisiana. Edwards campaigned on issues including his opposition to abortion and his support for a state law barring abortion when the unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable.

Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum of Oregon, a co-chair of the Democratic Attorneys General Association’s executive committee, voiced hope that other Democratic committees would follow the group’s example of exclusive support for pro-abortion candidates.

“We are going to be the ones to be right out in front and hopefully the other committees will follow right along,” she told the New York Times.

The Democratic Attorneys General Association policy change had been under consideration for three years. Officials with the group said the new rule will attract more diverse candidates and increase the number of women who run for attorney general. In 2017 the association pledged to ensure at least half of the party’s attorneys general will be women by 2022.

Sean Rankin, executive director of the association, contended the new requirement will increase “the size of the tent.”

“Even in states like Georgia, Texas and Arizona, we’ve run pro-choice candidates who’ve done extraordinarily well,” he told the New York Times.

While Democratic political candidates used to speak frequently of their support for legal abortion with the caveat that it should be “safe, legal and rare,” recent years have witnessed a strong turn within the party against any abortion restrictions.

Democratic presidential primary candidate and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has renounced his support for the Hyde Amendment, which bars most taxpayer-financed Medicaid funds for abortion.

In January a Virginia legislator put forward one of the most radical abortion bills in the country that would have removed most restrictions on second and third trimester abortions, including when the mother was in labor.

Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, explaining the bill on the regional radio station WTOP, said that under the legislation, a baby that survived a botched abortion would be made “comfortable” while the mother and doctor discuss whether or not the baby would be allowed to survive. He sparked a national uproar over his comments.

A New York law just signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo bars employers from enforcing certain codes of conduct or belief in the workplace with regard to “reproductive rights,” and requires them to inform employees of their right to abortions without fear of any workplace retaliatory action.

Several plaintiffs have challenged the law, saying it singles out pro-life and religious employers by refusing to exempt them. It forces these organizations to employ people who may have publicly defied the mission of an organization, such as a church employee who publicly opposes the teachings of that church on abortion or marriage.

Cuomo has also signed a law requiring contraceptive and abortifacient coverage in employee health plans and a law strengthening legal abortion in the event federal legal precedent is overturned or modified.

In October, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a measure requiring public universities to provide free access to drug-induced abortions for students and free abortion counseling services.

Kansas Catholic Conference says Medicaid expansion needs pro-life revisions

Topeka, Kansas, Nov 19, 2019 / 12:17 am (CNA).- As Kansas considers expanding its Medicaid program, the state’s Catholic Conference said its support is contingent upon the establishment of pro-life safeguards.

Last week, the Special Committee on Medicaid Expansion - a joint House and Senate panel - held two days of hearings discussing an expansion of KanCare.

Chuck Weber, executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference, said in his Nov. 12 testimony that the conference cannot support the legislation unless it explicitly excludes the expansion of abortion coverage, includes conscience protections for healthcare organizations and individuals, and a state constitutional amendment is enacted to clarify that abortion is not a natural right.

There are currently an estimated 400,000 people enrolled in Medicaid in Kansas. The Medicaid expansion bill would extend eligibility to an additional 130,000 low-income adults and children, the Topeka Capital-Journal reports.

April Holman, executive director of Alliance for a Healthy Kansas, a coalition supporting the expansion, said there is an insurance gap where people cannot afford private health insurance but make too much money to qualify for Medicaid.

Weber said the current healthcare system needs to be revised, noting that hospital emergency rooms are required to accept all patients, and therefore become the primary healthcare access point for many uninsured people, which raises costs for everyone.

Even for those with health insurance, he said,  rapidly rising deductibles may lead to “crushing debt.”

But while the system needs to be updated, Weber said the proposal for Medicaid expansion presents “scientific and ethical” concerns.

The Kansas Catholic Conference will not support a Medicaid expansion proposal unless it clearly excludes expanding abortion coverage and includes conscience protections for healthcare institutions and professionals, he said.

In addition, the conference believes Kansas must adopt a state constitutional amendment clarifying that abortion is not a “natural right.” The conference believes this is necessary due to the Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt ruling earlier this year, in which the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that abortion is a “natural right.”

Weber said the ruling established a right to “virtually unlimited abortion” and used radical language that may provide a legal gateway into physician-assisted suicide and irreversible gender transition procedures.

“This ruling raises the specter of publicly funded surgical and chemical abortion,” he said. “The medical community, not an unfettered and unregulated abortion industry, best provides authentic healthcare for vulnerable women and babies.”

During the hearing, the special committee approved a motion by Rep. Will Carpenter (R-El Dorado) to enable health care providers to decline treatments for reasons of conscience, and stating that the proposed expansion of Medicaid would not broaden abortion access, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal.

 

St. Raphael Kalinowski

Saint Raphael was born  in 1835 as Joseph, son of Andrew and Josepha Kalinowski in present day Lithuania. Saint Raphael felt a call to the priesthood early in his life, but decided to complete his education. He studied zoology, chemistry, agriculture, and apiculture at the Institute of Agronomy in Hory Horki, Russia, and at the Academy of Military Engineering in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Saint Raphael became a Lieutenant in the Russian Military Engineering Corps in 1857. During his post he was responsible for the planning and supervised construction of the railway between Kursk and Odessa. He was promoted to captain in 1862 and stationed in Brest-Litovsk. In Bret-Litovsk he started, taught, and covered all the costs of a Sunday school, accepting anyone interested.In 1863 he supported the Polish insurrection. He resigned from the Russian army and became the rebellion's minister of war for the Vilna region. He only took the commission with the understanding that he would never hand out a death sentence nor execute a prisoner. He was soon arrested by Russian authorities, and in June of 1864 he was condemned to death for his part in the revolt. Fearing they would be creating a political martyr, they commuted his sentence to ten years of forced labour in the Siberian salt mines. Part of his sentence was spent in Irkutsk, where his relics have been moved to sanctify the new cathedral.Upon his release in 1873, he was exiled from his home region in Lithuania. He moved to Paris, France, and worked there as a tutor for three years. In 1877 he finally answered the long-heard call to the religious life, and joined the Carmelite Order at Graz, Austria, taking the name Raphael. He studied theology in Hungary and then joined the Carmelite house in Czama, Poland. He was ordained on January 15, 1882.Saint Raphael worked to restore the Discalced Carmelites to Poland, and for church unity. He founded a convent at Wadowice, Poland in 1889, and worked alongside Blessed Alphonsus Mary Marurek. He was a noted spiritual director for both Catholics and Orthodox. He was considered  an enthusiastic parish priest and spent countless hours with his parishioners in the confessional. Saint Raphael died in 1907 and was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1991.Source: Catholic-forum.com

China defends detention of Muslims in Xinjiang

Urumqi, China, Nov 18, 2019 / 05:01 pm (CNA).- The Chinese government is defending its policy of mass detention and re-education of Muslims in the country's northwest as an appropriate measure against terrorism, following a New York Times report that showed the direct involvement of senior government officials in ordering the policy.

Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, criticized the newspaper’s report Nov. 18, saying it smeared China’s efforts against extremism, but not disputing the authenticity of the leaked documents, The Times reported Monday.

The Xinjiang government said the earlier Times article was “completely fabricated by hostile forces at home and abroad … America’s New York Times has again fabricated and concocted fake news about Xinjiang. This is nothing more than getting up to its old tricks, and is completely unworthy of refutation. This despicable conduct will surely be met with the contempt of wiser minds in the international community.”

The Times reports that Chinese President Xi Jinping laid the groundwork for the development of the mass detentions in a series of private speeches to officials in 2014 in which he called for “absolutely no mercy” toward 'terrorists'.

In Urumqi on April 30, 2014, Xi said that “the psychological impact of extremist religious thought on people must never be underestimated. People who are captured by religious extremism — male or female, old or young — have their consciences destroyed, lose their humanity and murder without blinking an eye.”

In another speech in Xinjiang, Xi stated: “There must be effective educational remolding and transformation of criminals … even after these people are released, their education and transformation must continue.”

According to the Times, 403 pages of documents, nearly half of which were speeches from Xi and other leaders, were leaked to it “by a member of the Chinese political establishment who … expressed hope that their disclosure would prevent party leaders, including Mr. Xi, from escaping culpability for the mass detentions.”

Among the documents, the Times said, are a model script for officials encountering returning university students who ask what has happened to their disappeared family members.

In the script from officials in Turpan, 120 miles southeast of Urumqi, the students were to be told that if their family members “don’t undergo study and training, they’ll never thoroughly and fully understand the dangers of religious extremism … No matter what age, anyone who has been infected by religious extremism must undergo study.”

The students would be told to “treasure this chance for free education that the party and government has provided to thoroughly eradicate erroneous thinking, and also learn Chinese and job skills,” which “offers a great foundation for a happy life for your family.”

If the students asked if their relatives had committed any crime, they were to be told that while they hadn't, “it is just that their thinking has been infected by unhealthy thoughts … freedom is only possible when this 'virus' in their thinking is eradicated and they are in good health.”

The documents also detail the government's reaction to officials deemed to be inadequately zealous in the repression of the Uighurs.

Wang Yongzhi was appointed to run Yarkant county, 830 miles southwest of Urumqi, in 2014. Wang had detention facilities built which housed 20,000 people, but expressed misgivings about the policy, and released some 7,000 internees. After that, he was “detained, stripped of power and prosecuted” in 2017, according to the Times.

Xinjiang has experienced some terrorist attacks, including a massive knife attack at a train station in 2014 in which 31 people were killed and 141 wounded, but the Chinese government has repressed reports about the extent of the attacks, the Times reports.

The main victims of the Chinese crackdown on Muslims in the region are an ethnic group called the Uighurs. An estimated 1 million Uighurs have been detained in re-education camps in Xinjiang in the past three years, as part of a widespread effort by the government to “Sinicize” religion in the country.

Inside the camps they are reportedly subjected to forced labor, torture, and political indoctrination. Outside the camps, Uighurs are monitored by pervasive police forces and facial recognition technology.

The Chinese government at one time denied the camps even existed, but has since shifted to defending its actions as a reasonable response to a national security threat.

Government officials from the region said in July that the area's re-education camps for Muslims have been successful, with most of those held having been reintegrated into Chinese society.

Uighurs can be arrested and detained under vague anti-terrorism laws. Violence in the region escalated in the 1990s and again in 2008.

During a Sept. 23 UN event on religious freedom, US vice president Mike Pence mentioned that “the Communist Party in China has arrested Christian pastors, banned the sale of Bibles, demolished churches, and imprisoned more than a million Uighurs in the Muslim population,” and a fact sheet issued by the White House said the administration “is deeply concerned” for the interned Uighurs.

And the US State Department hosted a panel on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly Sept. 24 to draw attention to the “human rights crisis in Xinjiang,” where partipants heard first-hand accounts of repression of Muslim groups in Xinjiang.

John Sullivan, deputy secretary of state, said at the panel that “The UN must seek the immediate, unhindered, and unmonitored access to Xinjiang for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The United Nations, including its member states, have a responsibility to stand up for the human rights of people everywhere, including Muslims in Xinjiang. We urge the UN to investigate and closely monitor China’s rights abuses, including the repression of religious freedom and belief.”

“We cannot be the only guardians of the truth nor the only members of the international community to call out China and demand that they stop,” Sullivan stated.

Pakistan is among the few Muslim-majority countries to have warned against the escalating persecution of the Uighurs.

The US Commerce Department in October added 28 Chinese organizations to a blacklist barring them from buying products from US companies, saying they cooperate in the detention and repression of the Uighurs.

Washington DC drops bill to legalize sex trade

Washington D.C., Nov 18, 2019 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- A bill to legalize the buying and selling of sex in Washington, DC, will not move forward after widespread opposition and concern that the bill lacked enough support of the city council to be passed. 

The Community Safety and Health Amendment Act of 2019 (B23-0318) would have made the capital the first city in the United States to fully legalize prostitution. 

Councilman David Grosso (I-At Large), who authored the bill, said that he knew it would be an “uphill battle” to become law in D.C., but that he has not given up the issue. The Washington Post reported that Grosso thinks the bill should instead be placed on the ballot in the district and voted on by city residents. 

On November 1, Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who leads the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety, which hosted a hearing on the bill, told local media WAMU9 that the council would not vote on B23-0318 this year. 

“There were incredibly sharp divisions about what the path forward would look like,” said Allen. “It did not seem to be consensus at all, and I don’t hear the support from my colleagues.”

Despite the lack of further action on the bill, Allen said that he thought it had sparked a “very important conversation” that had given “a lot of voice to a community that is already very marginalized.” 

On October 17, D.C. Council held a 14-hour hearing that included passionate testimony from people on both sides of the issue. Testifying against passing the bill included the Archdiocese of Washington, former sex workers, and Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office. 

The American Civil Liberties Union and current sex workers in DC were among the many who testified in favor of the bill’s passage. 

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) reported that the majority of the feedback his office had received about the bill was negative. He rejected claims that he had somehow rigged the DC Council to be against the legalization of prostitution. 

Mendelson said the controversy over B23-0318 was “unusually large” and that it is very rare for a hearing to stretch 14 hours with many people opposed to the bill.

“We will continue to look for ways to best serve the interest of victims,” said Mendelson. “Addressing the issue of prostitution again in this form seems unlikely.”

Venerable Fulton Sheen to be beatified in December

Peoria, Ill., Nov 18, 2019 / 02:42 pm (CNA).- The Diocese of Peoria announced Monday that Venerable Fulton Sheen will be beatified Dec. 21 at the city's Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception.

Sheen had been ordained a priest of the diocese in that cathedral Sept. 20, 1919.

“It seems entirely fitting that the Beatification will take place at the end of this 100-year anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood,” the Peoria diocese stated Nov. 18.

Sheen was born in Illinois in 1895, and was 24 when he was ordained a priest.

He was appointed auxiliary bishop of New York in 1951, and he remained there until his appointment as Bishop of Rochester in 1966. He retired in 1969 and moved back to New York City until his death in 1979.

Sheen was a beloved television catechist during the 1950s and '60s in the United States. His television show “Life is Worth Living” reached an audience of millions.

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints promulgated a decree July 6 recognizing a miracle attributed to Sheen's intercession, which allowed for his beatification.

The miracle involves the unexplained recovery of James Fulton Engstrom, a boy born apparently stillborn in September 2010 to Bonnie and Travis Engstrom of the Peoria-area town of Goodfield. He showed no signs of life as medical professionals tried to revive him. The child’s mother and father prayed to Archbishop Sheen to heal their son.

The Peoria diocese opened the cause for Sheen’s canonization in 2002, after Archdiocese of New York said it would not explore the case. In 2012, Benedict XVI recognized the heroic virtues of the archbishop.

The beatification follows legal battles in civil courts over the location of Sheen's body.

His corpse was transferred to the Peoria cathedral June 27 after a protracted series of suits.

Sheen’s will had declared his wish to be buried in the Archdiocese of New York Calvary Cemetery. Soon after Sheen died, Cardinal Terence Cooke of New York asked Joan Sheen Cunningham, Sheen’s niece and closest living relative, if his remains could be placed in the crypt of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, and she consented.

In September 2014, Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria suspended Sheen’s cause on the grounds that the Holy See expected Sheen’s remains to be in the Peoria diocese.

Cunningham has since said that Sheen would have wanted to have been interred in Peoria if he knew that he would be considered for sainthood. In 2016, she filed a legal complaint seeking to have her uncle’s remains moved to the Peoria cathedral.

Our Lady unites the divided into the faithful, Cordileone says

Washington D.C., Nov 18, 2019 / 02:30 pm (CNA).- Mary unites all of God’s children, sparking conversions among those of different faiths, said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco on Saturday, Nov. 16.

The archbishop pointed to Mary as a force for conversion and unity among different peoples at the first-ever Mass of the Americas in the Extraordinary Form, held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. 

“This Mass we celebrate today, the ‘Mass of the Americas,’ speaks profoundly to the power of our Mother to unite her children,” said Cordileone in his homily. “She stands there in every generation of the Church, interceding to her Son for her children, actively leading them to him, united as one in him.” 

The Mass of the Americas is a “twinned tribute” to both Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. It was commissioned by the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship, and was first celebrated Dec. 8, 2018, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Since its debut, it has gone on a “Marian unity tour” throughout North America, which included a stop in Washington, DC. 

The Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship’s website states that it is an organization dedicated to “open[ing] the door of Beauty to God” through providing resources for “more beautiful and reverent liturgies” as well as “energizing a Catholic culture of the arts.” 

It was no accident that Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared as a mixed-race woman who could appeal both to native Mexicans and the Spanish settlers, and that her image resulted in the conversion of an entire country, explained Cordileone. 

“She appeared at a time of great conflict, turbulence and bloodshed, to form a new Christian people for her Son, not by the sword nor by human sacrifice, but by the love of a mother who identifies herself with her children,” he said. 

“After [the apparition] Mexico became Catholic: Our Lady of Guadalupe unites the Old World and the New, and so a new Christian people is formed from the two, a mestizo people; a new Christian civilization is born from the union brought about by her who is venerated as both la Morenita and la Inmaculada,” the archbishop said.

Cordileone also spoke about how the Church is open to all, regardless of their material worth, and that it is a chance for people to satisfy the innate human hunger for beauty. The archbishop pointed to the Extraordinary Form liturgy, music, and vestments as a form of assisting humanity in their desire for beautiful things. 

“Perhaps what the poor most lack in their lives is beauty: being dignified by that beauty which ennobles and elevates the soul, assuring them of their equal dignity as a fellow child of God whom God created in His image and likeness,” said Cordileone. 

Poverty, said the archbishop, is not just limited to a lack of material goods. “There is also spiritual poverty, a poverty of the soul. The absence of beauty and prevalence of the ugly eventually corrupts a soul, leading to spiritual misery,” he said.

Evidence of this spiritual poverty is found in increasing rates of depression, “irrational intolerance” of people with differing views, and predation of the less fortunate, he said. Despite living in the United States, “the most affluent society in the history of the world,” America is still overrun with “Anger, division, injustice and depression.” 

The Church’s three transcendentals of beauty, truth, and goodness are one way to combat this divide.

“We are happy to come together today to offer something beautiful to God and to express our love for the Mother of His Son: we give our best, because we are motivated by love, which settles for nothing less,” he said. 

“And here our Blessed Mother is once again uniting us: the poor with the well-to-do and the in between, from every nation, race, people and tongue.”

Pope, Abu Dhabi crown prince make joint commitment to improving health of the poor

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Nov 18, 2019 / 01:57 pm (CNA).- In a joint statement signed Monday, Pope Francis and Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, committed to helping improve the health of those who live in impoverished communities.

The statement was signed in Abu Dhabi on their behalf Nov. 18 by Archbishop Francisco Padilla, apostolic nuncio to the United Arab Emirates, and Mohamed Mubarak Al Mazrouei, the crown prince's undersecretary.

“We reaffirm our mutual cooperation towards the improvement of the health and wellbeing of communities in need,” they said. “This cooperation stems from a belief that every person, no matter their background, has the right to live a dignified and healthy life.”

The statement was made on the occasion of the Reaching the Last Mile forum held in Abu Dhabi, an initiative of Al Nahyan's that works to eradicate preventable diseases like polio, malaria, and guinea worm disease from poor communities.

Such preventable diseases often spread as a result of “the poverty and social vulnerability of the most marginalized members of society,” the statement noted.

The pope and the crown prince called for renewed efforts on the parts of states to improve the health and medical resources available to all of their citizens, including the most marginalized. They also called on the international community to commit to improving the health and wellbeing of vulnerable populations throughout the world.

“One such area of focus is the fight to end Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), which affect more than 1.5 billion of the world’s population,” they said.

According to the World Health Organization, NTDs are “a diverse group of communicable diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions in 149 countries.”

“Faced with diseases that today can be monitored, prevented and eliminated, there is a need for greater efforts on the parts of all to coordinate available resources in order to achieve adequate solutions,” Pope Francis and Al Nahyan said.

“This will also demand an interdisciplinary, socio-medical and environmental approach. Guaranteeing the right to treatment for all people is paramount. We therefore fully support the Reaching the Last Mile Fund and its work in treating and monitoring of NTDs, and in the future will continue to collaborate on other global health initiatives,” they said.

“Finally, we trust in the solidarity of all people who understand the sufferings of those in situations of great need in neglected and disadvantaged parts of the world, so that this needless scourge afflicting humanity may be eradicated once and for all.”

Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Pope Francis visited the city in February, to promote interreligious dialogue and give support to the UAE's Christian minority. He was invited by Al Nahyan, and while there he signed a peace declaration on human fraternity with Ahmed el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar, which stated that “the pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings.”

What the cluck? Chick-Fil-A sauces Christian charities

Washington D.C., Nov 18, 2019 / 01:45 pm (CNA).- American fast-food chain Chick-Fil-A has announced it will stop donating to two large faith-based charitable organizations, after years of criticism from LGBT groups.

On Monday, the Chick-Fil-A Foundation announced the organizations it would donate to in 2020. Notably, the foundation will no longer donate to the Salvation Army or to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Instead, the foundation has pledged $9 million each to Junior Achievement, Covenant House International, and local food banks near new Chick-Fil-A locations. 

“The Foundation will no longer make multi-year commitments and will reassess its philanthropic partnerships annually to allow maximum impact,” said the Chick-Fil-A Foundation in a press release. “These partners could include faith-based and non-faith-based charities.” 

Previously, the Chick-Fil-A Foundation had donated to support the Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and had signed multi-year commitments with each organization. According to a statement provided to Business Insider from Chick-Fil-A, those deals were fulfilled in 2018 and were not renewed. 

The donations to Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes were earmarked for specific programs that would assist underprivileged children.

Both the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Salvation Army promote the Biblical belief that marriage is a union between one man and one woman. Fellowship of Christian Athletes includes on its application for employment the organization's belief that God does not approve of same-sex relationships or premarital sex. 

The Salvation Army denies allegations that it is an anti-gay organization, and says that its charitable services are available to all, regardless of sexual orientation. 

Chick-Fil-A has faced considerable controversy regarding its past charitable donations. In 2012, after the founder of Chick-Fil-A stated his opposition to same-sex marriage, there were calls for a nationwide boycott of the chain. This boycott largely failed, and Chick-Fil-A is now the third-largest restaurant chain in the country in terms of systemwide sales, trailing only McDonald’s and Starbucks. 

After the outcry in 2012, Chick-Fil-A announced that it would no longer be supporting some  organizations link to traditional views on marriage through its WinShape Foundation. The chain continued to provide support for both the Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. 

Chick-Fil-A’s donation history has been cited in efforts to block the restaurant from opening locations in San Antonio and Buffalo’s airports. The opening of the company’s first restaurant in United Kingdom was met with extended protests by LGBT campaigners. The owners of the U.K. shopping center hosting the Chick-Fil-A announced that the lease would not be renewed after the six month trial. 

Chick-Fil-A is closed on Sundays to give the chain’s workers a chance to attend religious services and be with their families.