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‘American Spartacus’: Honoring a Black Catholic Civil War hero on Juneteenth

An 1889 rendition by architects Bullard & Bullard of the National Emancipation Monument proposed for Springfield, Illinois (Library of Congress), superimposed on a 34-star U.S. flag dating to the Civil War. / Credit: Wikimedia Commons

National Catholic Register, Jun 19, 2024 / 04:00 am (CNA).

Juneteenth is a federal holiday recognizing the liberation of Black Americans and marking the conclusion of the U.S. Civil War. On June 19, 1865, enslaved Black Americans in Galveston, Texas, saw the Union Army, which included regiments of armed Black Americans fighting under the American flag, reunite the country and declare them free from bondage. 

Black Americans began Juneteenth celebrations in Texas, and the celebration eventually spread throughout the country as the struggle to secure the peace and promise of racial equality won by the Civil War continued. This Juneteenth 2024 marks 168 years after the first Juneteenth celebration and is the fourth time the entire U.S. will observe it as a national holiday. 

Catholics on Juneteenth should celebrate this day by honoring the memory of Capt. André Cailloux, the Black Catholic hero and patriot called the “American Spartacus,” whose ultimate sacrifice on the battlefield was crucial to turning the tide of the Civil War and allowing us the opportunity to live in a country that strives after “peace and justice for all.” 

In 1861, at the outset of the Civil War, Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens proudly declared the Confederacy would be the first nation in the world built on white supremacy, “upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.”

But the Confederacy would end in ruins by 1865, and the United States would triumph, because Black Americans — making up 10% of the Union Army and suffering 10% of total battlefield casualties — would help turn the tide of the U.S. Civil War.

President Abraham Lincoln, at the strong urging of abolitionists like the Black orator Frederick Douglass, agreed in 1863 to allow the enlistment of Black Americans for combat regiments. But everything depended on how the first Black Americans proved their valor in battle and whether Black Americans would join in the overwhelming numbers needed to win the war.

Cailloux responded to the call to form one of the first Black combat regiments in the Union Army, the First Louisiana Native Guard. Moreover, this Catholic — a married father who owned a cigar business, supported the charitable works of the Church, and proudly called himself the “Blackest man in New Orleans” — was a commissioned officer. So much responsibility rested on his decisions; he doubtless knew his conduct in the heat of battle would become the measure by which the fighting capability of Black Americans would be judged.

Cailloux and his men met their finest hour in the bitter siege of Port Hudson, Louisiana. He was ordered to lead the First Louisiana Native Guard in an assault on entrenched Confederate fortifications — practically a suicide mission in the face of artillery and sharpshooters. In his charge, Cailloux never wavered, urging his men onward in both French and English as the bullets pierced his flesh, until finally an artillery shell struck him down. Even then, he managed to give one final order for his lieutenant to take charge.

The news of Cailloux’s undaunted heroism in the face of certain death electrified the country, and the significance of his pivotal sacrifice as a Black officer, soldier, and free man led African Americans to enlist in droves into the Union Army. With the valiant sacrifices of the Black volunteers of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry at the Battle of Fort Wagner following Cailloux’s death in July 1863, the U.S. had its answer: Black Americans would fight with courage and distinction for the union and freedom. 

Over the next two years, Gen. Robert E. Lee would see the ideology of the Confederacy unravel before his very eyes. White and Black Americans together in the Union Army fought his Army of Northern Virginia, and with their combined strength, finally defeated Lee and forced his surrender at Appomattox Court House. 

Cailloux’s body would later be recovered with the fall of Port Hudson. New Orleans commemorated this native son and hero with a military parade, with mourners stretching a mile long. Cailloux’s funeral Mass was celebrated by Father Claude Paschal Maistre, the only Catholic priest in New Orleans who opposed slavery against the pro-Confederate clergy and suffered greatly for his witness at the hands of his own archbishop.

Cailloux’s life was cut short in his prime, but contemporaries stood in awe of his decisive contribution to ending the Civil War.

Louisiana civil rights activist Rodolphe Desdunes (1849–1928), whose brother served under Cailloux, wrote: “The eyes of the world were indeed on this American Spartacus. The hero of ancient Rome displayed no braver heroism than did this officer who ran forward to his death with a smile on his lips and crying, ‘Let us go forward, O comrades!’”

One Union Army veteran, Col. Douglass Wilson, would say of Cailloux: “If ever patriotic heroism deserved to be honored in stately marble or in brass that of Captain Caillioux deserves to be, and the American people will have never redeemed their gratitude to genuine patriotism until that debt is paid.”

This article was first published by the National Catholic Register, CNA's sister news partner, and has been updated and adapted by CNA.

Bishops speak out against worsening violence in southwest Colombia

The flag of Colombia. / Politicnico Grancolombiano Departamento de Comunicaciones via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

ACI Prensa Staff, Jun 18, 2024 / 17:50 pm (CNA).

The bishops of the dioceses located in the Valle del Cauca district of Colombia have demanded that armed groups stop their actions that continue to cause more deaths in the southwestern part of the country and have called on the authorities to “find the solutions” that would bring peace to the country.

The prelates issued a statement on June 14 signed by the archbishop of Cali, Luis Fernando Rodríguez; the bishop of Buenaventura, Rubén Darío Jaramillo; Bishop César Alcides Balbín of Cartago; Bishop José Roberto Ospina of Buga; as well as the bishop-elect of Palmira, Father Rodrigo Gallego Trujillo, and the apostolic administrator of the same diocese, Bishop Edgar de Jesús García.

In their statement, the prelates decried “the worsening of polarization, threats, harassment, extortion, attacks, murders, and other acts of violence in Valle del Cauca and in a good part of southwestern Colombia, resulting in uncertainty, sadness, pain, and death, creating fear and eroding the hope of citizens.”

Given the situation, the prelates strongly reiterated their call to the armed groups “to cease these actions.”

“In the name of the Lord, we exhort those who plan and carry out these insane acts to become aware of the evil they do to the population and even to themselves. Nothing justifies violence!” the bishops stated.

They also asked the authorities on behalf of “the population that feels overwhelmed and afraid” to join forces with civil society “in order to find the solutions that will lead to overcoming this disturbing and painful situation.”

In their statement, the bishops of the Valle del Cauca district also reiterated the commitment of the Catholic Church “to continue accompanying all efforts to foster bridges of dialogue that would make it possible to achieve the pacification of hearts and the silencing of weapons.”

The Institute of Studies for Development and Peace (Indepaz) noted on its X account that on the same day that the bishops issued their statement, “three people were shot to death in the Nuevo Horizonte neighborhood of Florida, Valle of Cauca.”

According to Indepaz, the Dagoberto Ramos Front of the Western Bloc, local gangs, the Adán Izquierdo Company, with “Front 57 possibly moving in,” operate in this area. 

The Dagoberto Front and Front 57 are factions of the marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) that rejected the 2016 peace agreement with the government.

Indepaz also noted that in its early warning 031/23, the People’s Ombudsman’s Office stated that “between southern Valle del Cauca and the northern Cauca there is a worsening of the armed conflict and direct violence, not only due to the presence and territorial control of the groups present but also for the entry into these areas of other illegal armed elements.”

Indepaz said these groups were not executing a “permanent incursion or operations” in these regions “beyond sporadic transiting or pamphleting.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

U.S. bishop applauds Biden’s move to allow undocumented spouses pathway to citizenship

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks at an event marking the 12th anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in the East Room at the White House on June 18, 2024, in Washington, D.C. / Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 18, 2024 / 17:30 pm (CNA).

The head of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, Texas, on Tuesday praised the Biden administration’s new plan to offer a pathway to citizenship for undocumented spouses and children of American citizens.

This new streamlined process will permit noncitizen spouses married to U.S. citizens to apply to legally live and work in the U.S. without fear of being deported. In addition to the spouses, noncitizen children of applicants would also be allowed to receive such protections.

To be eligible for this process, noncitizens must have resided in the U.S. for 10 years or more and be legally married to an American citizen while satisfying all other applicable immigration requirements. Those who qualify under these guidelines would be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship after three years while also being allowed for work authorization in that period of time.

“We welcome today’s announcement and the hope it brings to thousands of American families who have grappled with the fear of separation for a decade or more,” Seitz shared following Tuesday’s announcement from the White House.

This executive action would also relieve the visa process for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), who would be able to stay in the country upon receiving a degree from an American educational institution and a job offer with a company based in the United States.

The Biden administration’s announcement comes on the anniversary of DACA, an Obama-era program created to protect eligible young adults who were brought to the United States illegally as children.

“As we commemorate the 12th anniversary of DACA, we’ve seen the positive impacts such programs can have, not only for beneficiaries themselves but for the families, employers, and communities that rely on them. This new program is sure to yield similar benefits,” Seitz stated. “However, as the fate of DACA hangs in the balance, we also know how insufficient these programs are.”

This plan of action comes amid an ongoing legislative stalemate on immigration reform. Last month, a bipartisan security bill pushed by the Democrat-led Senate failed to advance on a 43-50 procedural vote. Immigration policy has especially remained a prominent issue leading up to November’s presidential election, in which both candidates have spoken extensively of the topic on their campaign trails.

Despite this, Seitz emphasized the importance of advancing legislation centered on families.

“Legislators have a moral and patriotic duty to improve our legal immigration system, including the opportunities available for family reunification and preservation. A society is only as strong as its families, and family unity is a fundamental right,” he said. “For the good of the country, Congress must find a way to overcome partisan divisions and enact immigration reformation that includes an earned legalization program for longtime undocumented immigrants.”

Texas doctor indicted after exposing transgender child surgeries at children’s hospital

null / Credit: ADragan/Shutterstock

CNA Staff, Jun 18, 2024 / 17:08 pm (CNA).

A Texas doctor has been indicted for allegedly breaking federal law after he accessed patient records as part of an exposé into child transgender surgeries. 

In 2022, Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston announced that it would cease performing transgender procedures on minors, citing concerns over “legal ramifications” after state Attorney General Ken Paxton said some of those medical procedures could be considered child abuse under state law. 

Roughly a year later, journalist Christopher Rufo reported at City Journal that the hospital had “secretly continued to perform transgender medical interventions … on minor children.” Rufo cited “whistleblower documents” he obtained from inside the institution. 

On Monday the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas said in a press release that Texas doctor Eithan Haim had been “indicted for obtaining protected individual health information for patients that were not under his care and without authorization.” Rufo previously identified Haim as the source of the documents. 

Haim was set to make his first court appearance on Monday afternoon, the attorney’s office said. The doctor allegedly “obtained personal information including patient names, treatment codes, and the attending physician” from the Texas children’s hospital without authorization. 

He “allegedly obtained this information under false pretenses and with intent to cause malicious harm to TCH,” the press release said. 

If convicted, Haim “faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 maximum possible fine,” the government said. 

Texas has in recent years been at the forefront of the ongoing cultural and legal fight over transgender issues. The Biden administration in 2022 condemned the state policy whereby parents who facilitate “gender transition” medical treatments for children can be investigated for child abuse.  

Gov. Greg Abbott in February of that year directed Texas Family and Protective Services to investigate certain procedures performed on children, including ​​castration and hysterectomy, as well as puberty blockers and hormone treatments, as possible instances of child abuse. 

Earlier this month, Paxton announced that the state had “won a major victory” against the Biden administration over the White House’s attempt to rewrite federal Title IX law to include transgender protections.

The government’s new education rules in part redefined “sex discrimination” under Title IX to include protections for “gender identity.” A judge subsequently ruled that the federal government “cannot regulate state educational institutions in this way without violating federal law.”

Texas “prevailed on behalf of the entire nation,” Paxton said in announcing the ruling. 

The Texas Supreme Court, meanwhile, heard oral arguments in January in a challenge to the state’s ban on extreme transgender procedures performed on children. The outcome of that case is still pending.

Judge throws out Missouri lawsuit that challenged abortion ban on religious grounds

A bridge over the Mississippi River near St. Louis. / Credit: Checubus/Shutterstock

St. Louis, Mo., Jun 18, 2024 / 16:15 pm (CNA).

A pro-abortion lawsuit filed by a number of religious leaders in Missouri was thrown out after a judge ruled that the state’s pro-life laws do not infringe on Missourians’ freedom of religion.

In a June 14 order, the Missouri District Court for the 22nd Judicial Circuit ruled that the references to “Almighty God” in the statutes are similar to references found in the Missouri Constitution, which in turn are similar to sentiments expressed in the Declaration of Independence.

A coalition of more than a dozen Missouri religious leaders, including Jews, Christians, and Unitarian Universalists, filed the lawsuit in 2023, alleging that Missouri’s near-total abortion ban, which passed in 2019 and took effect after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, violates their religious freedom by invoking God as the creator of human life. 

Missouri law currently protects all unborn babies from abortion unless the mother’s life is at risk. 

The religious leaders had argued that Missouri’s abortion laws, which acknowledge “Almighty God [as] the author of life” and also state that life begins at conception, violate the state constitution and the U.S. Constitution.

The Jewish leaders who joined the lawsuit, in particular, argued that Judaism does not recognize unborn children as being alive until after birth.

In the June 14 ruling, Judge Jason Sengheiser also ruled that the outside of the preamble to the law, the rest of Missouri’s abortion law language does not contain any explicit religious language, with the judge finding that the state’s recognition that life begins at conception is not “only a religious belief” but a “medical and scientific” determination.

Jamie Morris, executive director of the Missouri Catholic Conference (MCC), said in a statement to CNA that the group is “pleased that common sense prevailed and the lawsuit was dismissed.”

“The statement ‘life begins at conception’ is a scientific reality, not a religious belief. As a broader point, many lawmakers rely on their faith in making all types of policy decisions, including those related to welfare, immigration, and the death penalty,” Morris said.

“Legislators should not be required to leave their faith at the Capitol door,” he said.

In a June 14 statement, the legal team representing the faith leaders said they “respectfully disagree with the court’s decision.”

“Missouri’s abortion ban is a direct attack on the separation of church and state, religious freedom, and reproductive freedom,” the statement said.

“Missouri lawmakers made clear that they were imposing their personal religious beliefs on all Missourians when they enacted these laws. We remain committed to restoring abortion access in Missouri.”

Like numerous other states, Missouri is facing the prospect of a vote on a ballot initiative this November that, if passed, would erode the state’s protections for unborn children.

The MCC is encouraging all Catholics to pray that the state’s abortion laws remain in place.

Federal court shields U.S. bishops from abortion mandate as lawsuit plays out

null / Credit: Shutterstock

CNA Staff, Jun 18, 2024 / 15:45 pm (CNA).

A federal court on Monday protected the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) from a new federal abortion rule as litigation over the directive plays out in court. 

The USCCB will not be “forced to support employee abortions against their religious beliefs” while a federal lawsuit works its way through the courts, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty said in a Monday press release.

The bishops, along with several other Catholic plaintiffs including the Catholic University of America, filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration last month over regulations that would require that employers accommodate women for workplace limitations that arise from “having or choosing not to have an abortion.”

The new regulations issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) were related to the implementation of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). The pregnancy law itself does not mention abortion.

The regulation also includes a prohibition on interference with the accommodations; it further forbids retaliation against a person who uses the accommodations.

The Monday ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana found that the EEOC “exceeded its statutory authority to implement the PWFA” and in doing so “both unlawfully expropriated the authority of Congress and encroached upon the sovereignty” of the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs were granted a preliminary injunction “until final judgment is entered” in the case, the ruling said.

District Judge David Joseph said in the decision that the PWFA was not originally passed to include abortion accommodations.

“If Congress had intended to mandate that employers accommodate elective abortions under the PWFA, it would have spoken clearly when enacting the statute, particularly given the enormous social, religious, and political importance of the abortion issue in our nation at this time,” the judge said.

The federal government “failed to include a broad religious exception” in the abortion mandate, Joseph wrote. The bishops, the ruling said, “demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on their claims of statutory and constitutional overreach.”

The USCCB praised the decision on Tuesday. 

“We have said from the start that abortion has no place in the pro-life, pro-woman Pregnant Workers Fairness Act,” spokeswoman Chieko Noguchi said. 

“We’re grateful the court has agreed and look forward to full and permanent respect for our rights and this law’s noble purpose,” she added. 

Becket senior counsel Laura Wolk Slavis, meanwhile, said in the legal group’s press release on Monday that the pro-abortion mandate from the government was “unacceptable and unlawful.”

“This ruling is an important step in ensuring that American workplaces can be free to continue serving their communities consistent with their beliefs,” she said.

Catholic pilgrims at Pittsburgh processions evangelize about Christ and the Eucharist

Hundreds of Catholics participate in Eucharistic procession in the Brookline neighborhood of Pittsburgh. / Credit: Tyler Arnold/CNA

Pittsburgh, Pa., Jun 18, 2024 / 15:15 pm (CNA).

As hundreds of Catholic pilgrims processed through the streets of Pittsburgh as part of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, some of the faithful saw the procession as an opportunity to evangelize about Jesus Christ and the Catholic doctrine that he is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament.

Pilgrims on the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, traveling across the United States, spent four days last week in Pittsburgh, beginning on June 13. 

The city’s rich Catholic heritage — about one-third of the residents are Catholic — made it an essential stop on the pilgrimage, which is part of the U.S. Catholic Church’s National Eucharistic Revival initiative.

Two Eucharistic processions went through the city’s streets, stopping to celebrate Mass, vespers, and adoration at local parish churches. 

Sue O’Keefe, who lives in the South Hills suburbs of Pittsburgh, told CNA that she has kept an eye on the pilgrimage since its inception and was “super excited they’ve come through Pittsburgh.” She commended “the idea of the [Eucharistic] revival and bringing Jesus to the streets.”

“I’ve been praying that the Spirit moves people to see the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and [to see that] he’s walking with us,” O’Keefe said.

O’Keefe and a few hundred other Catholics joined the pilgrims for their first procession, which went through the Brookline neighborhood of Pittsburgh on Thursday morning. The procession covered a one-mile stretch of the business district, which includes restaurants, bakeries, cafes, and a variety of other businesses. It began at the Resurrection Church of St. Teresa of Kolkata Parish and concluded at the St. Pius Church of St. Teresa of Kolkata Parish.

Dozens of people paused to watch the procession as it passed by — some were seen coming out of the district’s businesses to see what was happening. One woman gazed at the size of the crowd in the procession, looked back at the Eucharist, and made the sign of the cross before moving on.

The procession makes it way through a busy Pittsburgh business district. Credit: Tyler Arnold/CNA
The procession makes it way through a busy Pittsburgh business district. Credit: Tyler Arnold/CNA

A few pilgrims, including Sister Theresa Marie of the Daughters of Mary, approached people who stopped to watch the procession and people who were waiting in their vehicles as the procession crossed the street. She handed them cards that included a QR code, which sent them to the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage’s website to learn more about processions, other events, and Catholic teaching about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. 

“We met a lot of people in the streets,” Sister Theresa told CNA. “... We were able to encounter the people who were wondering what this is.” 

Sister Theresa noted that “most of the people were very positive,” although some declined to take a card. For those who didn’t take one, she said, “We pray for the openness of their heart.”

Pilgrims handed out cards to passersby that included a QR code directing them to the National Eucharistic Revival's website. Credit: National Eucharistic Revival
Pilgrims handed out cards to passersby that included a QR code directing them to the National Eucharistic Revival's website. Credit: National Eucharistic Revival

Mark Palaski, a Pittsburgh resident, told CNA: “So many people were driving by and stopping,” adding that they “showed us respect.” 

Bob O’Mara, a teacher living in Brookline, attended the procession with his wife and seven children, ages 1 through 14. He said the neighborhood was “very ideal” for a procession because “Brookline has a large young Catholic population.” 

Asked why he participated in the procession, O’Mara said: “[Christ is] the king of the universe and he deserves our praise.”

The pilgrims held a bilingual “happy hour” at St. Catherine of Siena Church of St. Teresa of Kolkata Parish later that evening, followed by a reception with testimony from the pilgrims. The following day, at the same parish, the pilgrims celebrated Mass and embarked on another 1.8-mile procession to the St. Michael the Archangel-St. Bernard Church, where adoration was held. 

Catholics kneel before the Eucharist at the Resurrection Church of St. Teresa of Kolkata Parish in Pittsburgh before the start of the procession. Credit: Tyler Arnold/CNA
Catholics kneel before the Eucharist at the Resurrection Church of St. Teresa of Kolkata Parish in Pittsburgh before the start of the procession. Credit: Tyler Arnold/CNA

After adoration, pilgrims prayed the Akathist to the Blessed Virgin Mary, sung by the Ukrainian Catholic Choir. This was followed by Holy Hour with sung vespers and another reception with pilgrim testimonies.

On Saturday, the pilgrims celebrated Mass at St. Mary of Mercy Church of Divine Mercy Parish, and on Sunday at St. Paul Cathedral, they celebrated Mass, which was said by Diocese of Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik.

The pilgrimage is continuing through western Pennsylvania before traveling across Ohio and eventually heading to Indianapolis for the National Eucharistic Congress.

Pope Francis erects new metropolitan see in Zambia, appoints pioneer archbishop

Archbishop-elect Benjamin Phiri of the newly erected Archdiocese of Ndola in Zambia. / Credit: Archdiocese of Ndola

ACI Africa, Jun 18, 2024 / 14:45 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis has erected the Archdiocese of Ndola in Zambia and appointed Bishop Benjamin Phiri as its first archbishop.

The southern African nation has had two metropolitan sees — the Archdiocese of Lusaka, headquartered in the country’s capital city, and the Archdiocese of Kasama in northern Zambia.

The latest administrative changes in the southern African nation were made public by the Holy See Press office on Tuesday, June 18.

The newly erected metropolitan see is located in the central region of ​​Zambia and measures 32,000 square kilometers (about 12,400 square miles) and has a population of 3.2 million, of which 1.9 million are Catholic, representing 59.6% of the total population of the archdiocese, according to the Holy See Press report.

With Kabwe and Solwezi as suffragan dioceses, the new metropolitan see has begun with 187 priests (106 diocesan and 81 religious), 151 religious brothers, 340 religious sisters, 143 major seminarians, and several catechists.

Phiri has been serving as bishop of Ndola since his installation in August 2020.

Born in June 1959 in the Diocese of Chipata, Phiri was ordained a priest of the same episcopal see in September 1986. He holds a licentiate in canon law from the Pontifical Urban University (Urbaniana) in Rome.

Phiri previously served as the national director of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops’ pastoral office and director of the vocational pastoral ministry in his native Diocese of Chipata, where he also began his episcopal ministry as auxiliary bishop in April 2011.

Previously as a priest, he also served as a personal secretary of the former bishop of Chipata, Medardo Mazombwe, who in November 1996 was appointed archbishop of Lusaka and, after his retirement in October 2006, elevated to cardinal in November 2010. He died in August 2013.

In his 2024 Lenten message, Phiri called on Christians in Zambia to nurture a relationship with the person of Jesus Christ and maintain their focus on him amid “many” challenges. 

He also cautioned Christians against sinful behavior, saying: “Remain focused on Christ, regardless of the many political, social, economic, and spiritual challenges that we are going through.”

Phiri called for steadfastness in the ways of the Lord, adding: “The angels of God are and shall remain to administer to us.”

This article was first published by ACI Africa, CNA’s news partner in Africa, and has been adapted by CNA.

UPDATE: ‘Jesus Thirsts’ film announces extended release

"Jesus Thirsts: The Miracle of the Eucharist" will be shown in theaters June 18-26, 2024. / Credit: "Jesus Thirsts: The Miracle of the Eucharist"

CNA Staff, Jun 18, 2024 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

Fathom Events announced June 18 that it has decided to give “Jesus Thirsts: The Miracle of the Eucharist” an extended release beyond its planned two-day encore of June 18–19. The film will now be in theaters from June 18–26.

The documentary scored big at the box office, grossing $2,141,273 and landing at the No. 1 spot in per screen average for all three days of its initial release earlier this month. 

According to Fathom Events, the film’s distributor, the movie is Fathom’s highest-grossing documentary of 2024 and is currently in second place among all documentaries released in 2024 so far.

The feature-length documentary by executive producer Deacon Steve Greco and producers Tim Moriarty and James Wahlberg was shown in theaters nationwide June 4–6.

Through dialogue with notable Catholic figures, the documentary takes viewers on a journey to rediscover the transformative power of the Eucharist by exploring the biblical origins of the Eucharist and sharing personal stories from those whose lives have been impacted by the Blessed Sacrament.

“My greatest hope for this film has been and continues to be winning souls for Jesus Christ,” Greco said in a June 7 press release. “I’m incredibly grateful to the moviegoers for showing up! Now, we need to show up again and with others.”

“The last three days have revealed the profound impact of our movie and now we have to get outside of the pew and lead our fallen-away brothers and sisters home,” Wahlberg said in the press release.

He added: “The feedback has been incredible — we have heard about packed theaters, minds and hearts deeply moved, and an urgency to tell others. The surge of posts on social media have moved like wildfire and we hope this leads to many who will become curious.”

Moriarty, writer and director of the film and founder of the production company Castletown Media, said in a press release: “Our team at Castletown Media has been profoundly moved by the overwhelming responses to ‘Jesus Thirsts: The Miracle of the Eucharist.’”

“Viewers, often with tears in their eyes, have rediscovered a beauty in their faith that they had perhaps only glimpsed before. Many fallen-away Catholics and those outside the Church have shared how the film illuminated for them the very heart of Catholicism,” he said.

“Let this film be a clarion call to all Catholics: The time for being ashamed of our faith has ended,” he added. “Now is the moment to rediscover the boundless love of God, who meets us in the humble guise of bread and wine, and to share this love with a world in desperate need.”

On May 7, Moriarty spoke with CNA at the premiere of the film in Orange County, California, and shared that when he was first approached with the idea he believed it was “the perfect film for our times.”

“We are in a time in our Church where we need to get back to fundamentals,” he said. “We need to get back to what is at the heart of our faith, which is the ongoing incarnation of Christ in the Eucharist.”

Moriarty shared that despite being raised Catholic, there was a period in his life where he fell away from the faith and it was the Eucharist that brought him back.

“It’s the greatest gift in the world,” he said. “It’s Jesus himself and there is nothing on Earth that can satisfy that deepest longing in us.”

This story was updated June 18, 2024, with the information regarding the extended release of the film.

Judge blocks Biden gender identity protection rule in 6 states

null / Shutterstock

CNA Staff, Jun 18, 2024 / 13:15 pm (CNA).

A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked a new Biden Title IX rule in six states that included “gender identity” in Title IX’s long-standing protection against discrimination by sex.

“There are two sexes: male and female,” began Chief Judge Danny Reeves of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky in his opinion.

In his ruling, Reeves said the rule was an attempt to “dramatically alter the purpose” of the law, which was originally set to protect women’s equal opportunity to education. 

The U.S. Department of Education issued new regulations in April that radically redefined long-standing federal sex discrimination policy under federal Title IX provisions. The new rules in part redefined “sex discrimination” under Title IX to include protections for “gender identity.” Title IX rules apply to any educational institutions that accept federal money. 

Reeves halted the enforcement of Biden’s changes to Title IX in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, explaining that Title IX was set to enable women to receive equal educational opportunities. 

“The new rule contravenes the plain text of Title IX by redefining ‘sex’ to include gender identity, violates government employees’ First Amendment rights, and is the result of arbitrary and capricious rulemaking,” Reeves wrote. 

The ruling follows that of another federal judge who temporarily blocked the new rule in Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Montana following April lawsuits by the states. More than a dozen other states have pending lawsuits against the rule.

The new law bans “different treatment or separation on the basis of sex,” which includes a prohibition on any policy or practice that “prevents a person from participating in an education program or activity consistent with their gender identity.”

Opponents have argued that the law could damage the safety of women’s spaces such as bathrooms, sports, and locker rooms.

At the recent U.S. bishops’ conference, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, president of the conference, reiterated the incompatibility of “sex change” with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

“Teaching about the need to respect the natural order of the human person, Pope Francis affirmed that ‘creation is prior tous and must be received as a gift. At the same time, we are called to protect our humanity, and this means, in the first place, accepting it and respecting it as it was created,’” he said, quoting Pope Francis.

In April, the bishops came out against a New Biden HHS Obamacare rule for advancing an “ideological view of sex.”

“These regulations … advance an ideological view of sex that, as the Holy See has noted, denies the most beautiful and most powerful difference that exists between living beings: sexual difference,” Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, said in the April 30 press release.