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Use ‘preferred pronouns’ or else, university’s gender inclusion plan warns

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Boston, Mass., Jan 16, 2022 / 04:00 am (CNA).

The bishops of Fargo and Bismarck are speaking out against a proposed “gender inclusion” policy that would require everyone at the University of North Dakota — even visitors — to use preferred pronouns and affirm individuals’ chosen gender identities, or face the consequences.

Under the proposed rules, violators risk being expelled, fired, or kicked off campus, as spelled out under the University’s existing discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct policies. 

A draft of the policy also obliges the school to provide students with on-campus housing “consistent with their gender identity and expression,” and it applies the same gender identity rules to locker rooms and restrooms.

Located in Grand Forks, the state university has about 13,780 students and some 2,500 employees.

Christopher Dodson, the executive director and general counsel of the North Dakota Catholic Conference, representing the two dioceses, says the proposal as written is unconstitutional.

“We recognize that everyone should be treated with respect and that the university has a role in facilitating a respectful learning environment,” Dodson states in an Oct. 21 letter to Jennifer Rogers, the university’s policy officer.

“However, this proposal goes beyond setting mere rules for administrative tasks. Indeed, it embraces and demands acceptance of a particular ideology about gender and language that infringes upon free speech and religious rights,” Dodson states.

“We are particularly concerned about the proposal’s lack of any exemption for student organizations,” the letter continues.

“Fraternities and sororities are provided a limited exemption, but not student organizations. This means that UND would require student organizations to use preferred pronouns, accept expressed genders, and reject binary understandings of gender even if doing so conflicted with their sincerely held religious beliefs,” Dodson states.

“Students and faculty do not lose their First Amendment rights when they enter the doors of a state university. This is well-established constitutional law,” the letter continues. “The proposed policy by UND amounts to unconstitutionally compelling speech and a particular viewpoint.”

The conference on Jan. 10 sent a second letter outlining its concerns to parents of students in Catholic high schools and, in some cases, other Catholic parishioners with high school students. 

The school's proposal also drew fire from Grand Forks Mayor Brandon Bochenski, who said in a Facebook post that it "spits in the face of everything we believe in" and called it a "sad day for my alma mater," the Star Tribune reported.

In a 45-minute press conference on Jan. 14, University President Andrew Armacost called Dodson’s input “useful.” He said he is taking his time to slowly draft the next revision of the policy because Dodson brought up important constitutional issues that need to be addressed “the proper way.”

But Armacost, a former brigadier general and retired dean at the Air Force Academy, defended the intent of the proposed policy.

"The draft policy is intended to state our support to our LGBTQ members and, in particular, to our transgender and nonbinary members, with that same guarantee of access to education and fair employment without fear of discrimination or harassment," Armacost said.

Addressing the Catholic conference’s concern about housing arrangements for students, Armacost said students are able to request a roommate change for any reason.

In an interview with CNA, Dodson said he appreciated “clarification on the housing issue,” and said that “future iterations of the proposal, if any, should clearly address this issue.”

“Students should not, however, have to rely on receiving an exemption to the on-campus housing policy or requesting a roommate change to ensure that the student is placed with someone of the same sex,” he added.

Dodson said the conference shares the university’s desire to create a learning environment free of harassment but he called the policy proposal “overbroad.”

Bishop John T. Folda is the leader of the Diocese of Fargo. The Diocese of Bismarck is led by Bishop David D. Kagan.

Bishop of Fort Worth asks for prayers for Synagogue hostage situation involving alleged Al Qaeda terrorist

Breaking News / CNA

Fort Worth, Texas, Jan 15, 2022 / 20:53 pm (CNA).

Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth, Texas, made an urgent request to Catholics to pray for those involved in a hostage situation that was developing at a synagogue in nearby Colleyville on Saturday.

"Please pray for the safety of the hostages, their families, this congregation, for the members of law enforcement, and for the peaceful surrender of the perpetrator(s) of this crime," said Bishop Olson in a brief message posted on his Twitter account while the hostage situation was still developing. 

A man took hostages at the Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas during a service that was being live streamed on Facebook on Saturday, Jan. 15. The ranting man, claiming to be Aafia Siddiqui's brother, interrupted the ceremony and took four hostages, including Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, demanding either to release Siddiqui or allow him to talk to her. 

At 5:00 PM local time, the man released one hostage, and after more than eleven hours of tense negotiations, an FBI rescue team flown from Quantico freed the remaining hostages unharmed and killed the kidnaper.

At 9:30 PM local time, a loud bang followed by a short blast of rapid gunfire was heard. Three minutes later, Texas governor Greg Abbott tweeted: “Prayers answered.  All hostages are out alive and safe."    

Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist who graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and lived in the Boston area before returning to Pakistan, is a controversial figure. She is regarded by U.S. intelligence as a dangerous terrorist with deep Al Qaeda connections who plotted against U.S. military forces in Afghanistan; but she is seen as a national hero by Pakistan, who has repeatedly requested her release.

A mother of three and the only woman sentenced for terrorists actions in connection with 9/11, Siddiqui has been jailed at the Federal Medical Center-Carswell prison in Fort Worth since 2008 when she was convicted and sentenced on charges involving assault and firing of a weapon at U.S. Army officers in Afghanistan. The Fort Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), who defends Siddiqui's innocence, announced in July 2021 that she had been attacked by another inmate and was in solitary confinement.

During the standoff, Saddiqui’s lawyer, Marwa Elbially, had released a statement saying that "We want to verify that the perpetrator is NOT Dr. Aafia's brother who is a respected architect and member of the community. Whoever the assailant is, we want him to know that his actions are condemned by Dr. Aafia and her family," calling the suspect's actions "heinous and wrong."  

Aafia has one brother and one sister.

The press covering the live negotiations involving the FBI, local police, and a SWAT team were operating from Good Shepherd Catholic Church, which provided access to a warm area, restrooms, coffee and food.

In a follow-up tweet, Bishop Olson said “thanks be to God for their safety. Thank you to the parishioners of @goodshepherd_tx and their pastor Fr. Michael Higgins, TOR, for their assistance and charitable support for first responders and families of hostages”.

Colleyville Police Chief Michael Miller also thanked the Catholic parish for its support during the crisis. "I am Christian, I am a believer and I immediately activated a prayer network," Miller told the press.

Cardinal Dolan laments attacks on houses of worship in Religious Freedom Day message

Remains of statues vandalized at Our Lady of Mercy parish in New York City, July17, 2021. Credit: Diocese of Brooklyn.

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jan 15, 2022 / 12:47 pm (CNA).

Attacking houses of worship and religious art is akin to attacking the community who prays there, said Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York ahead of Religious Freedom Day, observed Jan. 16. 

“For nearly two years, the U.S. bishops have noticed a disturbing trend of Catholic churches being vandalized and statues being smashed,” said Dolan in a statement released Jan. 14 by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Dolan is the chairman of the USCCB’s religious liberty committee. 

“We are not alone. Our friends from other faith groups experience these outbursts too, and for some communities, they occur far more frequently,” he said. 

“An attack on a house of worship is certainly an assault on the particular community that gathers there. It is also an attack on the founding principle of America as a place where all people can practice their faith freely,” said Dolan. “And it is an attack on the human spirit, which yearns to know the truth about God and how to act in light of the truth.”

Dolan praised the “great tradition of religious freedom” in the United States, which has “allowed beauty to flourish,” for the benefit of all.  

Religious Freedom Day commemorates the 1786 passage of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, "to protect the right of individual conscience and religious exercise and to prohibit the compulsory support of any church."

Dolan said in his statement that “Diverse religious communities have built beautiful houses of worship, adorned with stained glass, statues, and symbols of faith, in earthly reflection of the glory and majesty of God.” 

“In the midst of a popular culture that too often caters to our basest appetites, sacred art and architecture calls all of us to think about ultimate things. All Americans benefit from these religious displays.” 

Religious art, said Dolan, “reminds us that we live most fully when we direct our lives toward our Creator and our neighbors.” The destruction of this art and other sacred things, he explained, “degrades our life together and harms the common good.”

Recently, a statue of Our Lady of Fatima at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, was defaced by a vandal. In response to the vandalism, and in honor of National Religious Freedom Day, the shrine will be hosting a rosary on Jan. 16. In the statement, Dolan  encouraged all Catholics to join in and pray the rosary on Sunday, “as we pray that all religious communities would be free to worship without fear and to continue to bless this great country.” 

“On this National Religious Freedom Day, let us resolve to promote religious freedom for all people, and to honor the place of the sacred both in our lives and our landscapes,” he said.

Pope Francis: The Holy Spirit reforms the Church through the saints

Pope Francis at the general audience on April 25, 2018. / Shutterstock/CNA

Vatican City, Jan 15, 2022 / 07:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said Saturday that it takes saints to reform the Church and for this each Catholic is called to a deeper “second conversion.”

“It is the Holy Spirit who forms and reforms the Church and does so through the Word of God and through the saints, who put the Word into practice in their lives,” Pope Francis said Jan. 15.

In an audience with the religious order founded by Saint Cajetan, the pope underlined that “reform must begin with oneself.”

A 16th century contemporary of Martin Luther, Cajetan sought to reform the Catholic Church, especially the clergy, but from within the Church itself.

Pope Francis said that when Saint Cajetan “came to Rome to work in the papal curia, he noticed the unfortunately widespread spiritual and moral degradation.”

“And while he carried out his office work, he frequented the oratory of Divine Love, cultivating prayer and spiritual formation; and then he went to a hospital to assist the sick. This is the way: to begin with oneself to live the Gospel more deeply and coherently,” the pope said.

“All the saints show us this way. They are the true reformers of the Church,” he said.

Pope Francis underlined that every saint is “a plan of the Father to reflect and incarnate, at a specific moment in history, an aspect of the Gospel.”

Cajetan and a small group of like-minded priests founded the Congregation of Clerics Regular, which became known as the Theatines, in 1524.

The community of priests sought to save souls primarily through living moral lives, through sacred studies, through preaching, and through tending to the sick and the poor.

Like many saints, Cajetan had a “vocation without a vocation,” or what could also be called “a second conversion,” the pope said.

“It is about the passage from an already good and esteemed life to a holy life, full of that ‘more’ that comes from the Holy Spirit,” Pope Francis said.

“This breakthrough is what makes not only the personal life of that man or woman grow, but also the life of the Church. This is what, in a certain sense, reforms it by purifying it and bringing out its evangelical beauty.”

The Theatine order became known as strong Catholic reformers even before the Protestant Reformation had fully taken hold.

“Saint Cajetan evangelized Rome, Venice, Naples, and he did so above all through the witness of life and the works of mercy, practicing the great ‘protocol’ that Jesus left us with the parable of the final judgment, Matthew 25,” Pope Francis said.

In 1527, the house of the Theatine order in Rome was sacked by troops of Emperor Charles V, and the members fled to Venice.

At the age of 42, Cajetan founded a hospital for "incurables" in Venice, and worked to comfort and heal the sick during times of plague.

In 1533, the pope sent Cajetan to Naples, where he founded another oratory. The corresponding church, San Paolo Maggiore, became an important hub of Catholic reformation.

While in Naples, Cajetan also founded a charitable nonprofit bank designed to protect the poor from usury - or lending money at exorbitant rates of interest. Eventually, the bank became the Bank of Naples.

Cajetan became dangerously sick and offered his sufferings for the conversion of the people of Naples. He died on August 6th 1547, the feast of the Transfiguration, and is buried in the San Paolo Maggiore Basilica in Naples.

Today the Theatines are present in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, the United States, Mexico, Spain, and Italy. The order met with the pope at the Apostolic Palace as it conducts its 164th General Chapter.

“I encourage you to move forward ... with docility to the Holy Spirit, without rigid schemes … but firmly established in the essential things: prayer, adoration, common life, fraternal charity, poverty and service to the poor,” Pope Francis said.

“All this with an apostolic heart, with the good evangelical eagerness to seek first of all the Kingdom of God.”

Pro-life congressional leaders praise pledge to oppose federal abortion funding

The US Capitol / Nicholas Haro/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jan 15, 2022 / 06:00 am (CNA).

One hundred and eighty one members of the House of Representatives signed a letter praising the pro-life leadership of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, as well as promising to vote against any appropriations bill that does not include a prohibition of the use of federal funds for abortion. 

“Thank you for the consistent pro-life leadership you have shown even as House and Senate Democrats have demonstrated their plan to use Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Appropriations legislation to strip out longstanding pro-life protections that have been in place for decades,” the House members wrote in a letter. The letter was led by Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ), co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, and Jim Banks (R-IN), who leads the Republican Study Committee.  

“For decades, federal appropriations legislation has included language to protect taxpayer money from funding and facilitating the killing of children alive but not yet born,” they said. “The most famous of these protections, the Hyde Amendment, prevents direct taxpayer funding of abortion through programs like Medicaid.” 

The Hyde Amendment is a rider to appropriations bills. It has received consistent bipartisan support since it was first written in 1976. 

“Abortion is not health care unless one construes the precious life of an unborn child to be analogous to a tumor to be excised or a disease to be vanquished—pregnancy is not a disease,” said Smith. “Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize abortion nor should anyone or any entity be coerced against their conscience to perform or facilitate the killing of an unborn child.”

Banks concurred, saying that removing the Hyde Amendment would be both “wrong and unpopular.”

“But today’s Democrat party only caters to their far-left base who demand the government provide taxpayer-funded abortions up until the point of birth,” he said. “Pro-life conservatives stand united against their radical agenda.”

In 2016, the Democratic National Committee’s official party platform called, for the first time, for a repeal of the Hyde Amendment. 

“Taxpayers should not be forced to pay for abortion domestically or internationally,” said the letter. 

“The consciences of health care providers who do not want to participate in abortion should be respected. Funding should not go to international organizations that are complicit in forced abortion and involuntary sterilization,” referring to what is commonly known as the “Mexico City Policy.”

As president, Donald Trump (R) expanded the Mexico City Policy. When President Joe Biden (D) was inaugurated, he repealed the policy in the first days of his presidency, similar to what his Democratic predecessors Bill Clinton and Barack Obama did during their presidencies. 

The letter called for “all longstanding pro-life provisions to be retained” in the appropriation bills, noting that the majority of Americans are opposed to the use of taxpayer funding to pay for abortions. 

The lawmakers quoted then-Senator Biden, who, in a 1994 letter to one of his constituents, wrote “those of us who are opposed to abortion should not be compelled to pay for them.” 

Biden repeatedly voted for and voiced public support for the Hyde Amendment throughout his time serving as a member of the Senate. In 2019, over a 24-hour period, Biden announced that he no longer supported the Hyde Amendment.

US bishops' pro-life novena to begin next week

null / Courtesy of the USCCB's Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities

Washington D.C., Jan 14, 2022 / 16:01 pm (CNA).

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ “9 Days for Life”, as the bishops once again encourage everyone to pray for an end to abortion.

“This pro-life novena is an opportunity for recollection and reparation in observation of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade—the Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal throughout the United States,” said a Jan. 12 statement from the USCCB. 

The novena begins Jan. 19 and is sponsored by the conference’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities. The first 9 Days for Life novena was prayed in 2013, in observance of the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. In the decision, the justices found that a woman had a legal right to an abortion throughout the entirety of her pregnancy. 

Each day, participants in the novena will pray for a specific intention related to ending abortion, and will be provided with “a reflection, educational information, and suggested daily actions.” 

Jan. 22 is the USCCB’s annual “Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children.” That date marks the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in the case Roe v. Wade, and is a day of penance in the dioceses of the United States.

Those seeking to participate in the novena can sign up for text or email reminders at Participants are encouraged to use the hashtag #9DaysForLife if they post about the novena on social media.

'We must not lose our sense of humor': Pope writes to journalist who caught him leaving record store

Pope Francis is seen leaving a record store in Rome. / Javier Martinez-Brocal/Rome Reports TV News Agency

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jan 14, 2022 / 15:55 pm (CNA).

After a journalist reported on Pope Francis’ surprise visit to a record store, the pope surprised him back — by writing him a letter.

Javier Martínez-Brocal, director of the Rome-based news agency Rome Reports, tweeted a black-and-white photo on Jan. 11 of the pope exiting a record store near the Pantheon in Rome. The photo went viral as people wanted to know, “What did he buy?” The journalist also captured video of the encounter.

But while the pope left the shop with a disc, he came for another purpose: to visit the owner, an old friend of his, and to bless the newly-renovated store.

Following the incident, Martínez-Brocal apologized to the pope for intruding on the moment.

“I'm sorry that the Pope, who loves freedom, has to stay in his residence, because every move he makes is caught on camera,” Martínez-Brocal says in a Rome Reports video released on Jan. 14. “I wrote to him to apologize and to say that, on the other hand, a story like this, which can make people smile, is important in a time when we only hear about tragedies.”

To his surprise, the pontiff responded. Pope Francis confirmed that he saw the photo and even thanked Martínez-Brocal for his “noble” post, Vatican News reported.

Pope Francis revealed that he had attempted to keep his visit secret, joking that, “one cannot deny that it was a ‘terrible fate’ that, after taking all precautions, there was a journalist waiting for someone at the cab stop.”

He continued, “We must not lose our sense of humor,” and thanked the journalist “for fulfilling your vocation, even if it means giving the Pope a hard time.”

On a more serious note, he added that he missed freely roaming city streets.

“What I miss most in this Diocese is not being able to ‘wander the streets,’ as I did in Buenos Aires, walking from one parish to another,” he wrote.

Martínez-Brocal reacted to the pope’s letter.

“I think the Pope recognizes the importance of a journalist's job, even if it's sometimes uncomfortable for him or causes him problems,” he said. “But he is grateful for this service of honestly recounting events as they happen.”

The pope did not reveal the genre of music the shopkeepers gifted him with. That part of his visit, it seems, he kept a mystery.

Pope Francis is a music-enthusiast. His music library, curated by the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, houses nearly 2,000 CDs and 19 vinyl records, Catholic News Service reported. The recordings include music from the pope’s personal collection as well as music the pope has received as gifts.

Most of the library is classical, but it also includes Édith Piaf, Argentine tango tunes, and a 25-disc collection of Elvis Presley’s Gospel songs.

Here's the latest update on the attack on the Our Lady of Fatima statue in D.C.

Surveillance footage shows a man hammering at the Our Lady of Fatima statue located outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 5, 2021. / Screenshot taken from Metropolitan Police Department video

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jan 14, 2022 / 15:30 pm (CNA).

A marble statute of Our Lady of Fatima outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., suffered "irreparable damage" at the hands of a still unidentified assailant and will be replaced, a basilica spokesperson has told CNA.

Police now know the identity of a "suspect" sought in connection with the Dec. 5 attack, the spokesperson said, referring further questions about the investigation to the Metropolitan Police Department.

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police Department confirmed that a "person of interest" has been identified but said police are not releasing any further information at this time. No arrests have been reported.

In another development, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, has announced that a public rosary in "response to the recent vandalism of a statue of Our Lady of Fatima" will take place at the basilica on Sunday, Jan. 16 in observance of Religious Freedom Day.

“I encourage all Catholics to participate in this event, as we pray that all religious communities would be free to worship without fear and to continue to bless this great country," Dolan said in a statement released Friday.

The rosary will be held at 1:30 p.m. EST, and will be live streamed.

“Religious art instructs and inspires. It reminds us that we live most fully when we direct our lives toward our Creator and our neighbors,” Dolan said. “On the other hand, the defacement of such public symbols of the sacred degrades our life together and harms the common good.”

Police have shared surveillance footage that shows a man wearing a mask approaching the Marian statue located outside the basilica. The man steps up to the statue, withdraws a mallet or hammer-like tool, and appears to strike at the statue's hands. He climbs back down only to step up again and repeatedly whack at the statute's face, sending pieces of marble flying. 

The basilica spokesperson told CNA the cost of the Carrara marble statue's replacement is “to be determined.” No decision has been made yet about when or how the existing statue will be removed and disposed of, the spokesperson said.

The statue is valued at $250,000, according to a police report obtained by CNA. The case is not being treated as a hate crime, police have said.

English prosecutors consider guidelines advising against charges for those who assist in 'mercy killings'

Lady Justice atop the Old Bailey in London. / antb/Shutterstock.

London, England, Jan 14, 2022 / 14:07 pm (CNA).

The Crown Prosecution Service, which brings criminal charges in England and Wales, is considering a proposal to examine “mercy killings” that would advise against charging those who assist in the deaths of gravely ill people who wish for assisted suicide or euthanasia if there is evidence that the person wanted to die. 

The CPS is seeking the public's input as new guidelines are considered.

Max Hill, Director of Public Prosecutions, told the PA News Agency that in the case of “mercy killings,” “prosecution may be required, but there are circumstances where actually, even where you have the evidence, you may be able to move away from prosecution – for example, where there is evidence of a settled intention on the part of the victim that their life should come to an end, and that what happens is at the time of their choosing.”

"At one end of that spectrum, these are cases of murder – when you take somebody else’s life, it may not be at the victim’s time of choosing and they may not have reached a point, even if they’re sick, of deciding that they want their life to end… But at the other end of the spectrum, nobody wants to see a devoted husband or wife charged and going to court," Hill asserted in another interview.

The Sunday Post reported that under the draft guidance, cases where the suspect was motivated only by compassion, where they tried to take their own life at the same time, and where they fully cooperated with the police would be less likely to result in prosecution.

If there is no evidence that the person wanted to die, Hill added, the case would be treated as a murder. In addition, if the victim were under 18 or did not have the mental capacity to decide to end their own life, those would be factors in favor of prosecution. 

A consultation period on the proposed guidelines launched Jan. 14 and is due to conclude April 8.

“[The new guidelines] means that in some cases charges will be brought, but in others we will be able to avoid placing a loving husband or a loving wife in court to face criminal charges,” Hill said, in reference to a high-profile case from 2019. 

In that case, a U.K. court acquitted an 80-year-old woman accused of killing her husband Dennis, 81, with a lethal dose of prescription medicine. Mavis Eccleston told jurors that her husband wanted to end his life after receiving a terminal diagnosis of bowel cancer. He had stopped treatment except for pain management medication, and he had reportedly talked about going to Switzerland to take advantage of legal assisted suicide in the country.

The couple decided to end their lives together with a lethal dose of medication, and reportedly wrote a note to their family explaining their decision. 

The couple was found in their apartment by family members on Feb. 19, 2018, after they had taken the drugs. The couple was rushed to the hospital and given an antidote to the medication. Mavis survived; Dennis did not.

The woman’s family later called for the legalization of assisted suicide "so that dying people aren't forced to suffer, make plans in secret or ask loved ones to risk prosecution by helping them," the BBC reported.

And in 2017 an English chemist, Bipin Desai, was cleared after administering lethal drugs to his 85-year-old father, who had reportedly wanted to die. A judge at the time ruled that the chemist's actions "were acts of pure compassion and mercy."

The Catholic Church teaches that assisted suicide and euthanasia are a violation of the dignity of all human life, and therefore morally impermissible.

The Catholic Church supports, rather than assisted suicide or euthanasia, palliative care, which means seeking to accompany a patient towards the end of their lives with methods such as pain management. While firmly opposing euthanasia, Catholics do not believe life must always be prolonged with burdensome medical treatment.

Assisted suicide is illegal in England and Wales, and doctors who assist a suicide can be jailed up to 14 years under the Suicide Act 1961.

Parliament has consistently rejected efforts to change the law.

In 2015 the British parliament rejected a bill that would have legalized assisted suicide for patients with a terminal diagnosis, by a vote of 330 to 118. 

A bill to legalize assisted suicide in England and Wales was not taken to a vote last year, after seven hours of debate and notable opposition in the House of Lords in October.

A joyful, faithful 'warrior': Catholic philosopher, author Alice von Hildebrand dies at 98

Dr. Alice von Hildebrand / Dr. Alice von Hildebrand

Denver Newsroom, Jan 14, 2022 / 13:17 pm (CNA).

Catholic philosopher and longtime professor Alice von Hildebrand died Jan. 14 at the age of 98.

“With sadness suffused by joy, I write to share that our beloved friend and sister Alice von Hildebrand went home to the Lord at 12:25am this morning. She died peacefully at home after a brief illness,” wrote Hildebrand Project Founder and President John Henry Crosby in a Jan. 14 death announcement. 

“Those who knew Lily often heard her say that the wick of her candle was growing ever shorter. In fact, she yearned for death — to see the face of Our Lord, to be reunited at last with her husband Dietrich, her parents, her dearest friend Madeleine Stebbins — with the peace that only true innocence and profound faith can grant.” 

Von Hildebrand was born Alice Jourdain in Belgium in 1923. She fled Europe during World War II, arriving in New York City in 1940. Soon after, she met renowned personalist philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand. She recalled being immediately impressed by Dietrich’s dedication to truth and wisdom. 

"The moment he opened his mouth, I knew that it was what I was looking for: the perfume of the supernatural, the radiant beauty of truth, the unity of all values: truth, beauty, and goodness," von Hildebrand wrote in her 2014 autobiography, “Memoirs of a Happy Failure.” 

She was a philosophy student of Dietrich’s for several years before the pair were married in 1959. 

Von Hildebrand spent the majority of her career teaching philosophy at Hunter College in New York City, beginning in 1947. Though she described the secular college as radically anti-Catholic, von Hildebrand was well-liked among her students and even inspired several of them to conversion. 

“In secular universities, the word 'objective truth' triggers panic,” she wrote in her autobiography. "God said, 'I know you do not belong there,' as my colleagues repeated time and again. 'But, I have work for you to do, and you cannot do it on your own. I will help you.'"

In 1984, von Hildebrand retired from Hunter College after 37 years and she was awarded the college’s Presidential Award for excellence in teaching. 

Von Hildebrand published several books during her lifetime including “The Privilege of Being a Woman” and “The Soul of a Lion: The Life of Dietrich von Hildebrand.” She also wrote countless articles and essays and helped launch the Hildebrand Project to promote her late husband’s work.  

She was a frequent contributor to Catholic News Agency and made more than eighty appearances on CNA's parent company the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN).  

“We are grateful for the many contributions she made to Catholic thought and for the many programs she made for EWTN over the years,” said EWTN Chaplain Father Joseph Wolfe. “May she enjoy her eternal reward and the joy of being reunited with her dear husband Dietrich, whom she so admired.” 

Alejandro Bermudez, executive director of Catholic News Agency and ACI Prensa, called von Hildebrand an “exemplary, happy warrior” for the Church.

“She not only made more than 80 appearances on EWTN, but left probably her most important body of essays in the set of articles she wrote exclusively for CNA,” Bermudez said. You can read her work for CNA here.

In a 2014 interview with CNA, von Hildebrand reflected that her life looked radically different than the one she expected. 

"God has chosen the pattern of my life - totally different from what I had imagined. I feel like the female Habakkuk brought into the lion's den," she said. 

"When I look back on my life, the words that come to my mind from my heart are: misericodias domini in aeternum cantabo," citing Latin words from the Psalms which translate to "I will sing the mercies of the Lord forever."

Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.