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Joe Biden announces he will not seek reelection in 2024 presidential race; endorses Harris

President Joe Biden waves on stage during the Vote To Live Properity Summit at the College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas, Nevada, on July 16, 2024. / Credit: KENT NISHIMURA/AFP via Getty Images

CNA Staff, Jul 21, 2024 / 14:15 pm (CNA).

President Joe Biden on Sunday said he would not seek reelection, conceding to growing calls in his party to bow out of the race after a highly criticized debate against GOP nominee Donald Trump in June.

“It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve as your president,” Biden, the second Catholic president of the United States, said in a July 21 statement posted on X. “And while it has been my intention to seek reelection, I believe it is in the best interest of my party and the country for me to stand down and to focus solely on fulfilling my duties as president for the remainder of my term.”

Biden added that he would speak to the nation later in the week about the details of his decision.

In an X post sent about a half hour after his first announcement, Biden endorsed his vice president, Kamala Harris, for president in the 2024 election.

“My very first decision as the party nominee in 2020 was to pick Kamala Harris as my vice president,” he said. “And it’s been the best decision I’ve made. Today I want to offer my full support and endorsement for Kamala to be the nominee of our party this year.”

The Democratic president has since last month been facing growing calls from his party and from supporters to bow out of the 2024 race amid concerns that he will be unable to serve another four years as president.

Democratic officials and major party boosters began sounding the alarm after the first 2024 presidential debate last month when Biden repeatedly lost his train of thought and struggled to articulate his vision for the country.

Multiple Democratic U.S. senators have called for Biden to pull out of the race, as have Democratic members of the U.S. House including California Rep. Adam Schiff. Flurries of media reports have indicated that former Speaker of the House California Rep. Nancy Pelosi and former President Barack Obama have also been pushing Biden to bow out.

High-ranking donors and boosters have also been backing away from the Democratic Party amid fears that Biden remaining in the race could have devastating down-ballot effects for lower candidates. Actor George Clooney, a longtime Democratic fundraiser, said in the New York Times earlier this month that Democrats are “not going to win in November with this president.”

Clooney urged the top Democrats to “ask this president to voluntarily step aside” so the party can mount a last-minute nomination effort for another candidate.

Big donors also pulled their money from Democratic campaigns in the hopes of forcing Biden out. Filmmaker Abigail Disney this month said she would halt all Democratic donations “unless and until they replace Biden at the top of the ticket.”

The New York Times, meanwhile, reported this month that big-ticket donors were holding upwards of $90 million from a Biden super PAC until the president resigned from the race.

This story was updated July 21, 2024, at 2:22 p.m. ET.

National Eucharistic Congress ends with prayer for ‘new Pentecost’ for U.S. Church

Nearly 60,000 people attended the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis July 17-21, 2024. / Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

Indianapolis, Ind., Jul 21, 2024 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

The National Eucharistic Congress concluded Sunday with a Mass with tens of thousands of people in an NFL football stadium, where the crowd prayed for “a new Pentecost” in the U.S. Church.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle presided over the closing Mass in Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium on July 21 as Pope Francis’ special envoy for the event. He shared that the pope told him that he desires the congress to lead to “conversion to the Eucharist.” 

“The presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is a gift and the fulfillment of his mission,” said the cardinal pro-prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Evangelization.

“Those who choose to stay with Jesus will be sent by Jesus,” Tagle added. “Let us go to proclaim Jesus zealously and joyfully for the life of the world.”

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle presides over the closing Mass in Indianapolis Lucas Oil Stadium on July 21, 2024, as Pope Francis’ special envoy for the event. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle presides over the closing Mass in Indianapolis Lucas Oil Stadium on July 21, 2024, as Pope Francis’ special envoy for the event. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

The nearly 60,000 Eucharistic congress attendees were sent out with “a great commissioning” on Sunday morning in which keynote speakers urged participants to proclaim the Gospel in every corner of the country. 

“What the Church needs is a new Pentecost,” Mother Adela Galindo, the foundress of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary, told the crowd in her keynote speech before the Mass.

“The Church must be faithful to the Gospel … not watering down the message of the Gospel,” she said. “We were born for these times. It is a time to go out in haste to a world that urgently needs to hear God’s word and God’s truth.” 

“Here is what we need to proclaim,” the Nicaraguan sister said. “That no darkness is greater than the light of the Eucharist. That no sin is greater than the merciful heart of the Eucharist.”

“Basically, brothers and sisters, that love is greater than death!” exclaimed the nun, who received an enthusiastic standing ovation from the crowd.

More than 1,600 priests, seminarians, bishops, and cardinals processed into Mass in the Indianapolis Colts’ stadium in a dramatic opening procession lasting 25 minutes. An additional 1,236 religious sisters and brothers were praying in the stands, according to the event organizers. 

Religious sisters pray at the closing Mass of the National Eucharistic Congress on July 21, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Religious sisters pray at the closing Mass of the National Eucharistic Congress on July 21, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra played the classical hymns “Panis Angelicus” and “Ave Verum Corpus” as Communion was brought to tens of thousands of people in the stadium.

Many people commented on the incredible energy, positivity, and hope among the congress participants who traveled from all 50 states to take part in the five-day event July 17–21.

“I don’t want to sound dramatic, but the National Eucharistic Congress has been something of a triumph — a crowded, crazy, and occasionally chaotic triumph. Peace and joy reign,” Stephen White, the executive director of the Catholic Project, commented on X.

“His presence is palpable and pervasive. The Lord is here,” White added.

Father Aquinas Guilbeau, OP, predicted that the legacy of the National Eucharistic Congress will be like that of the 1993 World Youth Day held in Denver for the Church in the U.S.

“Its grace will shape the Church for the next 50 years,” Guilbeau said.

Nearly 60,000 tickets were sold for the National Eucharistic Congress, according to organizers, including the day passes that were sold after the start of the event. 

Tagle began his homily by greeting the crowd in more than five languages, including Chinese, Vietnamese, Spanish, French, and Italian.

“The Holy Father prays, as we all do, that the congress may bear fruit, much fruit, for the renewal of the Church and of society in the United States of America,” Tagle said.

In his homily, the cardinal noted that “where there is a lack or a weakening of missionary zeal, maybe it is partly due to a weakening in the appreciation of gifts and giftedness.”

“If our horizon is only that of achievement, success, and profit, there is no room to see and receive gratuitous gifts. There is no place for gratitude and self-giving,” he added. “There will only be a relentless search for self-affirmation that eventually becomes oppressive and tiring, leading to more self-absorption or individualism.

Tagle underlined that the Eucharist is “a privileged moment to experience Jesus’ mission as a gift of himself.”

At the end of Mass, Bishop Andrew Cozzens announced to roaring applause that the U.S. bishops are planning to hold another National Eucharistic Congress in 2033, the Year of Redemption marking 2,000 years since Jesus’ crucifixion. 

The bishop of Crookston, Minnesota, who spearheaded the Eucharistic revival, also announced that another Eucharistic pilgrimage from Indianapolis to Los Angeles will take place in 2025.

“What do you say as you come to the end of the 10th National Eucharistic Congress?” Cozzens said. “It has been my experience and I hope yours that we’ve lived an experience of heaven. Of course, the Eucharist is a foretaste of heaven.”

From castles to cathedrals: Pope Francis’ schedule for Luxembourg and Belgium trip

Queen Mathilde of Belgium meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace with her husband, King Philippe of the Belgians, on Sept. 14, 2023. / Credit: Vatican Media

Vatican City, Jul 21, 2024 / 10:06 am (CNA).

Pope Francis will spend four days at the end of September in the small European countries of Luxembourg and Belgium, where he will greet royal leaders, prime ministers, professors and students, and Catholics in some of the countries’ historic palaces, cathedrals, and universities.

The pontiff will make a one-day stop in Luxembourg on Sept. 26 before visiting three cities in Belgium to mark the 600th anniversary of the Catholic universities of Leuven and Louvain-la-Neuve from Sept. 26–29.

The European visit will take place just under two weeks after Francis lands back in Rome at the end of the most ambitious journey of his pontificate: a 12-day trip to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and Singapore.

The full schedule of Pope Francis’ visit to the two constitutional monarchies of Luxembourg and Belgium is below.

Luxembourg

The first day of Pope Francis’ trip will be dedicated to visiting Luxembourg, a small landlocked country in Western Europe with an estimated population of 672,000 people.

Luxembourg is the seat of several institutions of the European Union, including the Court of Justice of the European Union, the highest judicial authority.

After his arrival, Francis will visit the grand duke of Luxembourg, Henri, at his official residence, the Grand Ducal Palace. Henri’s wife, Grand Duchess María Teresa, is one of only a few royal women with the “privilège du blanc,” a papal privilege allowing her to wear white when meeting the pope.

The pontiff will then meet with the prime minister of the grand duchy before addressing members of the government, civil society, and the diplomatic corps at a Luxembourg administrative building, Cercle Cité.

Luxembourg has just one ecclesiastical territory, the Archdiocese of Luxembourg, which is led by Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, the relator-general of the Catholic Church’s present Synod on Synodality.

In 2021, the archdiocese was estimated to have almost 457,000 Catholics, which is 73% of the population.

After lunch on Sept. 26, Francis will hold an audience with the Luxembourg Catholic community in the Gothic 17th-century Notre-Dame Cathedral before taking a 55-minute flight to the neighboring country of Belgium.

Belgium

The Royal Castle of Laeken in Brussels, built in the late 1700s, is the residential palace of the king and queen of Belgium. Since 1999, it has been the home of King Philippe and Queen Mathilde and their family.

Francis will meet King Philippe at the castle on the morning of Sept. 27. Philippe’s wife, Mathilde, as a Catholic queen, also has the “privilège du blanc” when meeting the pope.

The pope’s brief meeting with Belgium’s royal leader will be followed by appointments with the country’s prime minister and other governmental authorities.

The day’s schedule will close with a papal address to professors at KU Leuven, a Catholic research university, to mark the 600th anniversary of its founding. At KU Leuven, classes are mainly taught in Dutch and some English.

On his second full day in Belgium, Pope Francis will meet with clergy members and religious brothers and sisters in the Koekelberg National Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Brussels.

After lunch, he will make the just under one-hour drive to visit Louvain-la-Neuve, a university city about 18 miles southeast of the capital city.

The town hosts the French-language Catholic University of Leuven, which split from KU Leuven in the late 1960s.

Pope Francis will spend the afternoon meeting with university students in Louvain-la-Nueve before holding a private audience with Jesuits at St. Michel College back in Brussels.

On his final day in the Low Countries on Sept. 29, the pontiff will celebrate Sunday Mass in King Baudouin Stadium before departing shortly before 1 p.m. local time for Rome.

Pope Francis: In the silence of adoration we receive God’s grace

Pope Francis' brief remarks during the Angelus July 21, 2024, focused on the day’s Gospel passage from Mark, which demonstrates how rest and compassion for others go together. / Credit: Vatican Media

Vatican City, Jul 21, 2024 / 07:30 am (CNA).

Do not be consumed by “the anxiety of doing” but spend time in rest and silent prayer to receive God’s grace, Pope Francis said on Sunday.

The pontiff told Catholics, especially those in ministry, to beware of “the dictatorship of doing” during his weekly reflection and Angelus on July 21.

The Angelus is a Marian prayer traditionally recited at three different hours throughout the day: at 6 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m.

“It is only possible to have a compassionate gaze, which knows how to respond to the needs of others, if our heart is not consumed by the anxiety of doing, if we know how to stop and how to receive the grace of God in the silence of adoration,” Pope Francis said on a hot and humid day during the peak of summer in Rome.

Addressing the large crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square, Francis said we are often “held prisoner by haste.” He called it an important warning, especially for those in engaged in ministry and pastoral service in the Church.

“Am I able to stop during my days? Am I capable of taking a moment to be with myself and with the Lord, or am I always in a hurry for things to do?” he said from a window of the Apostolic Palace.

He added that sometimes families are forced to live a frenetic pace; for example, when a father has to work from dawn until dusk to put food on the table. But this is a social injustice, he said, and we should help families in this situation.

Religious sisters wave Spanish flags at Pope Francis during his weekly Angelus in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, July 21, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media
Religious sisters wave Spanish flags at Pope Francis during his weekly Angelus in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, July 21, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media

The pope’s brief remarks focused on the day’s Gospel passage, which demonstrates how Jesus is able to combine both rest and compassion for others.

In the Gospel, Jesus invites his apostles to “come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while,” but when they get out of the boat, they find the crowd already waiting for them.

Jesus’ “heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things,” the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 6, says.

“These may seem like two incompatible things — resting and being compassionate — but they actually go together,” Pope Francis underlined.

Jesus is concerned for his disciples’ tiredness, the pontiff said, because he is aware of the danger of our ministries and lives falling victim to an over concern with “things to do and with results.”

“We become agitated and lose sight of what is essential,” he emphasized.

Francis also explained that the rest proposed by Jesus is not “an escape from the world, a retreat into a merely personal well-being,” but a rest that helps us to have more compassion for others.

“Only if we learn how to rest can we have compassion,” he said.

After leading the Angelus, the pope spoke about the Summer Olympic Games, set to start in Paris on July 26, and the Paralympics, which will follow in August.

Sports, he said, have “a great social force, capable of peacefully uniting people of different cultures.”

“I hope that this event can be a sign of the inclusive world we want to build and that the athletes, with their sporting testimony, will be messengers of peace and good role models for young people,” he added.

Francis also recalled the tradition from ancient Greece of the “Olympic Truce,” noting that such an initiative would be an opportunity to “demonstrate a sincere desire for peace.”

13 things to know about J.D. Vance’s Catholic journey

Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, arrives to the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s “God and Country Breakfast” at the Pfister Hotel on July 18, 2024 in Milwaukee. / Credit: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

National Catholic Register, Jul 21, 2024 / 07:00 am (CNA).

Republican vice presidential nominee J.D. Vance is one of the most overtly religious major politicians in America.

Vance has written extensively about his life in faith, both in a mega-selling memoir and in a long essay that describes how a drug-using teenager with anger problems, family problems, school problems, and doubts about God became an accomplished, successful family man excited about being a Catholic.

But nowadays, he’s also the most questioned of religious politicians, as pro-lifers ask if he’s still one of them.

Where did he come from in faith? And how did he get where he is now?

Vance, who comes from a long line of culturally Protestant Scots-Irish Americans from Appalachia, was baptized Catholic in August 2019.

Below are 13 items about his meandering journey to Rome and the aftermath, drawn largely from his 3-million-copy-selling 2016 memoir “Hillbilly Elegy” and a 6,777-word essay he wrote about his conversion for the Easter 2020 issue of The Lamp, a Catholic magazine. 

Vance also talked about his conversion in an August 2019 interview with Rod Dreher published in The American Conservative.

1. J.D. Vance rarely went to church as a child.

Vance was largely raised by his grandmother, whom he called “Mamaw,” who believed in Jesus and liked Billy Graham but didn’t like what she called “organized religion.”

Vance wasn’t baptized as a child. The family members he spent the most time around generally didn’t go to church unless they were visiting their Appalachian ancestral home in Jackson, Kentucky.

Even so, he says in his memoir, his grandmother had “a deeply personal (albeit quirky) faith.”

2. Vance had a crisis of faith as a child.

When he was about 10, Vance had a moment of doubt.

“Mamaw, does God love us?” he asked his grandmother after a major disappointment, mindful of the fractured family life he and his half-sister were growing up in.

The question caused his grandmother to cry.

Vance doesn’t say how his grandmother answered the question. But he describes another instance when Mamaw accidentally went the wrong way on a three-lane interstate before making a U-turn, causing him to scream in terror.

“Don’t you know Jesus rides in the car with me?” his grandmother replied.

3. As a teenager, Vance was a Pentecostal.

As an adolescent, Vance reconnected with his biological father, whom he hadn’t seen much of after his parents split up. For a while, he stayed with his dad every other weekend.

“With little religious training, I was desperate for some exposure to a real church,” Vance wrote in “Hillbilly Elegy.”

His father had given up drinking and became a serious Pentecostal, and he would take Vance to a large Pentecostal church in southeastern Ohio with his new wife and their children.

Vance drank it in. Among other things, he rejected evolution and embraced millennialism, including a belief that the world would end in 2007.

“I’m not sure if I liked the structure or if I just wanted to share in something that was important to him — both, I suppose — but I became a devoted convert,” Vance writes in his memoir.

4. Vance didn’t like the Catholic Church when he was a kid.

Even before he started going to a Pentecostal church, Vance thought he knew certain things about Catholicism — which he didn’t like.

“I knew that Catholics worshipped Mary. I knew they rejected the legitimacy of Scripture. And I knew that the Antichrist — or at least, the Antichrist’s spiritual adviser — would be a Catholic,” Vance wrote in his April 2020 article in The Lamp of his once-misguided impressions.

5. Vance’s image of Jesus when he was growing up differed from his image of the Catholic Church’s image of Jesus.

One of Vance’s aunts married a Catholic, whom Vance liked and respected.

“I admired my uncle Dan above all other men …,” Vance wrote in “Hillbilly Elegy.”

His grandmother liked Dan, too.

But Catholicism seemed too formal and impersonal to her.

“The Catholic Jesus was a majestic deity, and we had little interest in majestic deities because we weren’t a majestic people,” Vance wrote in his conversion essay.

6. “Hillbilly Elegy” isn’t a conversion story.

Vance mentions the word “Catholic” or “Catholics” only five times in the 264-page book, and he never engages with Catholic teachings in it. He wrote it between 2013 and 2015, several years before he became a Catholic, and gives no hint that he had ever considered Catholicism.

He also doesn’t dwell in his book on his atheism as a young man, a period he describes at length in his conversion essay in The Lamp.

7. An Anglican philosopher provided the first crack in Vance’s atheism.

While he was still a nonbeliever, Vance encountered the work of English philosopher Basil Mitchell (1917–2011) in an undergraduate philosophy course at Ohio State.

As Vance describes it, Mitchell, who was a member of the Church of England, presented difficult experiences in life as a trial of faith that requires trust in God without fully understanding what God has in mind.

Vance was surprised by Mitchell’s presentation because as a young Christian he had always thought that “[d]oubt was unacceptable” and “that the proper response to a trial of faith was to suppress it and pretend it never happened.”

“But here was Mitchell,” Vance wrote in his conversion essay, “conceding that the brokenness of the world and our individual tribulations did, in fact, count against the existence of God. But not definitively.”

Republican vice presidential candidate J.D. Vance and former president Donald Trump bow in prayer during the last day of the 2024 Republican National Convention at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee on July 18, 2024. Credit: KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images
Republican vice presidential candidate J.D. Vance and former president Donald Trump bow in prayer during the last day of the 2024 Republican National Convention at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee on July 18, 2024. Credit: KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images

8. A homosexual billionaire influenced Vance’s outlook on life.

While a student at Yale Law School, Vance went to a talk by venture capitalist Peter Thiel, who was Facebook’s first outside investor and co-founded PayPal.

According to Vance, Thiel argued that elite professionals got themselves trapped into climbing rungs on the socioeconomic ladder at the expense of happiness.

Vance realized that he was “obsessed with achievement” for itself — “not as an end to something meaningful, but to win a social competition.” He also concluded that he “had prioritized striving over character.”

Thiel introduced Vance to the thought of René Girard (1923-2015), a French historian and philosopher whose writings, among other things, attracted Vance through the way he described Christianity as transcending the scapegoat myth of various cultures because Christ “has not wronged the civilization; the civilization has wronged him.”

Thiel, now 56, who identifies as a Christian and a conservative, is civilly married to a man. Vance worked for Thiel in venture capital, and Thiel was Vance’s major contributor in Vance’s successful run for U.S. Senate in Ohio in 2022.

9. Vance’s family ties kept him from becoming a Catholic for a long time.

Vance connected with Catholic doctrine several years after his grandmother died in 2005. It made sense to him.

“Yet I couldn’t shake the feeling that if I converted I would no longer be my grandmother’s grandson,” Vance wrote in The Lamp.

That left him in a sort of limbo.

“So for many years I occupied the uncomfortable territory between curiosity about Catholicism and mistrust,” he wrote.

10. Vance credits his Hindu wife with helping him convert to Catholicism.

Vance acknowledges having problems with anger stemming from his chaotic childhood and the destructive behavior of people in his family, especially his mother, who abused prescription drugs and went through a string of boyfriends and husbands.

That anger affected his relationship with Usha, his girlfriend in law school, but she helped him work through it to try to become the kind of husband and father he wanted to be. They married in 2014.

“The sad fact is that I couldn’t do it without Usha. Even at my best, I’m a delayed explosion — I can be defused, but only with skill and precision,” Vance wrote in “Hillbilly Elegy.”

Usha is the daughter of immigrants from India and a Hindu. Vance felt hesitant about joining the Catholic Church because he wasn’t a Catholic when they got married.

“But from the beginning, she supported my decision, so I can’t blame the delay on her,” Vance wrote in his conversion essay.

Vance has said the Church’s clergy sex-abuse scandal delayed his conversion by a few months.

11. Dominican priests helped draw Vance to Catholicism.

What Vance calls “a few informal conversations with a couple of Dominican friars” led to a period of serious study of Catholicism.

The process was gradual, with no a-ha moments.

But it included what he calls “some weird coincidences.”

During a late-night conversation at a hotel bar with an unnamed conservative Catholic writer, Vance says, he challenged the man for criticizing Pope Francis.

“While he admitted that some Catholics went too far, he defended his more measured approach,” Vance wrote in his conversion essay, “when suddenly a wine glass seemed to leap from a stable place behind the bar and crashed on the floor in front of us.”

That ended the conversation.

Another: While on a train from New York to Washington, D.C., Vance listened to a recording of an Orthodox choir singing a Psalm during Pope Francis’ visit to the country of Georgia in 2016.

When he got to Washington, he asked a Dominican friar to coffee.

“He invited me to visit his community, where I heard the friars chanting, apparently, the same psalm,” Vance wrote.

Vance was baptized in August 2019 by a Dominican priest, Father Henry Stephan, at St. Gertrude Priory, which is attached to a Dominican parish in Cincinnati, where Vance now lives.

Despite his Dominican connections, his confirmation saint is Augustine.

“I was pretty moved by the ‘Confessions,’” he told Rod Dreher. “I’ve probably read it in bits and pieces twice over the past 15 or so years. There’s a chapter from ‘The City of God’ that’s incredibly relevant now that I’m thinking about policy. There’s just a way that Augustine is an incredibly powerful advocate for the things that the Church believes. And one of the subtexts about my return to Christianity is that I had come from a world that wasn’t super-intellectual about the Christian faith. I spend a lot of my time these days among a lot of intellectual people who aren’t Christian. Augustine gave me a way to understand Christian faith in a strongly intellectual way. I also went through an angry atheist phase. As someone who spent a lot of his life buying into the lie that you had to be stupid to be a Christian, Augustine really demonstrated in a moving way that that’s not true.”

12. Vance credits practicing Catholicism with making him a better person.

Vance says practicing his Catholic faith has helped him increase his patience, curb his temper, forgive more easily, and choose his family over his career.

After he became a Catholic, Vance wrote in his conversion essay: “I realized that there was a part of me — the best part — that took its cues from Catholicism.”

13. Vance hasn’t yet explained how his current position on abortion squares with his Catholic faith.

Vance began public life as thoroughly pro-life.

In September 2021, several months after he began running for U.S. Senate in Ohio, Vance said he supported Texas’ law banning abortion.

“I think in Texas they’re trying to make it easier for unborn babies to be born,” Vance said during an interview with Spectrum News 1.

Asked about abortion in the cases of rape and incest, Vance said the question is “whether a child should be allowed to live.”

“Look, I think two wrongs don’t make a right. At the end of the day, we’re talking about an unborn baby,” Vance said (at 11:11 of the interview). “What kind of society do we want to have? A society that looks at unborn babies as inconveniences to be discarded?”

His tone shifted during a debate in October 2022 when he said he supported “reasonable exceptions,” including allowing a pregnant 10-year-old girl to have an abortion.

During a second debate that month, he said he supported a proposal in Congress at the time that would have banned abortion nationwide after 15 weeks.

More recently, Vance has aligned his public positions on abortion with those of his running mate, former president Donald Trump, who has said he wouldn’t sign a federal limitation on abortion and that he wouldn’t ban abortion pills.

On abortion pills, Vance told an interviewer on NBC on July 7 that he supports a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that, according to him, said that “the American people should have access to that medication.” Pressed about mifepristone, one of the two abortion chemicals, he said he supports access to it.

Vance has not at this writing publicly explained how he integrates his Catholic faith with his current position on abortion.

But he seemed to contemplate this sort of situation in an interview with Dreher in August 2019, shortly after his conversion and three years before he was elected to public office.

He noted that politics “is in part a popularity contest,” and he pointed out a tension between getting votes and living a life of faith.

“When you’re trying to do things that make you liked by as many people as possible, you’re not likely to do things that are consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church,” Vance said then. “I’m a Christian, and a conservative, and a Republican, so I have definite views about what that means. But you have to be humble and realize that politics are essentially a temporal game.”

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

2024 EWTN Summer Academy in Rome concludes

This summer some 40 aspiring and current Catholic journalists gathered at the campus of the Pontifical Urban University in Rome, where they studied and worked in teams to produce, shoot, and edit videos, all while taking a deeper dive into their faith. / Credit: EWTN News/Screenshot

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 21, 2024 / 06:00 am (CNA).

As part of its ongoing effort to help form the next generation of faithful Catholic journalists, EWTN News last month held its third annual Summer Academy in Rome.

Some 40 journalists from more than 20 countries participated in the training, which is designed “to deepen their skills and knowledge in religious media, journalism, cinematography, and storytelling” while also strengthening their “faith and understanding of the Church’s mission in the world.”

“It’s been such a blessing meeting Catholics from all over the world who also love the faith, love the Lord, and are passionate about journalism,” U.S. participant Thomas Phippen said during a segment about the experience on the award-winning EWTN News program “Vaticano.”

Addressing Vatican journalists earlier this year, Pope Francis encouraged members of this profession to continue reporting in a manner that “knows how to combine information with reflection, speaking with listening, discernment with love.”

The Holy Father also stressed the importance of “not sugarcoating tensions, but at the same time not creating unnecessary noise.”

“We all come here together for the same mission which is we want to spread Christianity using the power of the media,” said 2024 EWTN Summer Academy participant Valeria Joy Escalona of the Philippines. Credit: EWTN News/Screenshot
“We all come here together for the same mission which is we want to spread Christianity using the power of the media,” said 2024 EWTN Summer Academy participant Valeria Joy Escalona of the Philippines. Credit: EWTN News/Screenshot

According to EWTN News Vatican Bureau Chief Andreas Thonhauser, this summer’s program focused heavily on digital forms of communication, recognizing the “growing importance of fast-moving images” as well as “decreasing attention spans.”

“The academy not only provided practical courses on filming, video editing, and social media distribution but also on theological knowledge and apologetics,” Thonhauser added

The impact of the EWTN Summer Academy does not end with the training, as alumni are invited to remain connected through regular meetings and continuing education.

The next edition of the Summer Academy is scheduled for July 2025.

Eucharistic congress ‘a moment of unity’ for the U.S. Church, Bishop Cozzens says

Bishop Andrew Cozzens, who spearheaded the U.S. bishops’ National Eucharistic Revival, prays in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in Lucas Oil Stadium during the opening ceremony for the National Eucharistic Congress on July 17, 2024. / Photo by Casey Johnson, in partnership with the National Eucharistic Congress.

Indianapolis, Ind., Jul 20, 2024 / 14:20 pm (CNA).

Amid divisions in the United States and within the Catholic Church, the National Eucharistic Congress is “a moment of unity” for American Catholics, Bishop Andrew Cozzens told CNA.

In an interview at the congress in Indianapolis on July 19, the bishop of Crookston, Minnesota, who spearheaded the U.S. bishops’ National Eucharistic Revival, observed that a fruit of the congress has been “a real experience of unity.”

“Our society is wrought with division and especially American society with the individualism that breeds division,” Cozzens said.

“Unity in the Church is really essential for us today because that attitude of division in our society affects our Church, and it affects it dramatically,” he added.

More than 50,000 Catholics from all 50 states who speak more than 40 languages are present at the congress, which features keynote speeches and Eucharistic adoration in the Indianapolis Colts’ Lucas Oil Stadium.

Bishop Andrew Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, who spearheaded the U.S. bishops’ initiative of Eucharistic Revival, adores Christ in the Eucharist with tens of thousands of people in Lucas Oil Stadium. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Bishop Andrew Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, who spearheaded the U.S. bishops’ initiative of Eucharistic Revival, adores Christ in the Eucharist with tens of thousands of people in Lucas Oil Stadium. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

“What’s beautiful is we are united here with our bishops. It was the bishops who called us together. We are here because we are Catholic and we share the same faith,” the bishop said.

On Saturday morning, throngs of the faithful packed together in the NFL stadium for a Syro-Malabar liturgy. The Syro-Malabar Church is an Eastern Catholic rite primarily celebrated in India in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

Tim del Castillo from California described the experience of attending the Syro-Malabar liturgy as “a very powerful spiritual moment.”

At the end of the nearly two-hour liturgy, the hundreds of concelebrating priests and bishops processed out the corner of the stadium where the football players usually run onto the field at the beginning of the game, he said, and the people spontaneously started clapping and even cheering for the bishops.

“You could feel the support of the laypeople and everybody in the Catholic Church for our bishops who are our leaders — even though we don’t always agree with them necessarily on everything, they are our leaders, they are our fathers,” Castillo said.

“These are the ministers of our sacraments that are going out into the world for us laypeople and giving us the body and blood of Jesus Christ.”

For Castillo, the National Eucharistic Congress has “absolutely” been an experience of Church unity, especially with the opportunities each day for Catholics to pray together at different liturgies, including the Ruthenian-Byzantine rite, the Traditional Latin Mass, and youth Masses with praise and worship.

“You have all these Catholics who are all here to worship the Lord, and it’s okay that we’re doing it in different ways,” he said.

“And the center of it all is the adoration chapel across the street. Jesus in the Eucharist is where all these graces are flowing from,” he added.

Each day of the National Eucharistic Congress, the perpetual Eucharistic adoration chapel has been full of people of all ages kneeling and praying in silence. 

In the opening ceremony of the congress, Cozzens held up the Blessed Sacrament in a 4-foot monstrance in the center field of the football stadium and led tens of thousands of people in prayer in adoration of the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

Reflecting on the moment, the bishop said: “It was mainly an experience of gratitude to the Lord. I’m just so grateful to the Lord for his faithfulness and his provision and his love for each of us and for love for all these people.”

Under patronage of St. Joseph, parish priest restarts schooling for students in Gaza

Some young people from Gaza during study aid activities in a gazebo inside the compound of the Latin Parish of the Holy Family. Beginning June 10, 2024, about 150 children and teenagers ages 4 to 17 who are sheltering in the Latin parish and in the Orthodox parish have taken up their books and notebooks again to reconnect with their studies. Three gazebos in the garden host study groups. They were open-sided, but they have been closed to help the youth avoid distractions, as there are always people around. / Credit: Photo courtesy of Father Gabriel Romanelli

Jerusalem, Jul 20, 2024 / 10:00 am (CNA).

About 150 children and teenagers ages 4 to 17 who are sheltering in the Latin Parish of the Holy Family in Gaza took up their books and notebooks again in June for the first time since the start of the Israel-Hamas war last October thanks to an effort spearheaded by their parish priest, Father Gabriel Romanelli.

The program had to be suspended for two weeks earlier this month due to Israeli military action but resumed once again on July 19.

Returning to Gaza in mid-May after being stuck in Jerusalem for the first seven months of the Israel-Hamas war, Romanelli wasted no time. Within a few weeks, he launched the St. Joseph Project to help children reconnect with their studies after missing an entire year of school due to the ongoing conflict.

“I had been thinking about it since the war broke out, and when I returned, I saw that there was a great need for it,” he recounted. “It is good for children and teenagers to use their time well. Leaving them without study, without structure, leaves them at the mercy of what happens around them.”

Some children and teenagers from Gaza during a lesson on the veranda of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word house inside the compound of the Latin parish. “Engaging in studies helps to avoid thinking and talking only about the war, to not focus solely on the conflict. It is a small seed of hope,” Father Gabriel Romanelli explained to CNA. Credit: Photo courtesy of Father Gabriel Romanelli
Some children and teenagers from Gaza during a lesson on the veranda of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word house inside the compound of the Latin parish. “Engaging in studies helps to avoid thinking and talking only about the war, to not focus solely on the conflict. It is a small seed of hope,” Father Gabriel Romanelli explained to CNA. Credit: Photo courtesy of Father Gabriel Romanelli

It is not a typical school, and there are no formal curricula to follow. The idea is rather to help the young people channel their physical and mental energy into something constructive and to be ready for when school resumes.

“Because this war will end one day, and we will be ready to start again,” Romanelli said with conviction. 

“Engaging in studies helps to avoid thinking and talking only about the war, to not focus solely on the conflict. It is a small seed of hope,” he explained to CNA.

“The project,” Romanelli explained, “is dedicated to St. Joseph because it is thanks to him that the Holy Family found salvation in Egypt, passing through here, and later returned to Nazareth. We ask him to protect our children and help them grow.”

Attacks had intensified in the area very close to the parish. The priest recounted that “bombs and missiles fell within a few dozen or hundreds of meters, and shrapnel from bombs and missiles continued to rain down in the compound,” making it “very dangerous to stay outdoors.”

Some Christians from the Latin parish were slightly injured last week following an explosion in a nearby market. The Sacred Family School of the Latin Patriarchate, located about three miles away from the Latin parish, was hit on July 8, but that incident did not influence the decision to suspend activities.

A math review for the young people from Gaza in the chapel of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word, inside the compound of the Latin parish. Organizing the project hasn’t been easy. There isn’t a free space in the Catholic compound. But the parish priest, Father Gabriel Romanelli, doesn’t lack initiative. The chapel, the kitchen, the living room, and the balcony of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word’s house have all become “classrooms”; three gazebos in the garden host study groups. Even the parish church hosts a group. Credit: Photo courtesy of Father Gabriel Romanelli
A math review for the young people from Gaza in the chapel of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word, inside the compound of the Latin parish. Organizing the project hasn’t been easy. There isn’t a free space in the Catholic compound. But the parish priest, Father Gabriel Romanelli, doesn’t lack initiative. The chapel, the kitchen, the living room, and the balcony of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word’s house have all become “classrooms”; three gazebos in the garden host study groups. Even the parish church hosts a group. Credit: Photo courtesy of Father Gabriel Romanelli

Organizing the project hasn’t been simple. There isn’t a free space in the Catholic compound. But Romanelli doesn’t lack initiative.

The chapel, the kitchen, the living room, and the balcony of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word’s house have all become “classrooms”; three gazebos in the garden host study groups.

“They were open-sided, but we closed them to help the children avoid distractions, as there are always people around,” Romanelli said. Even the parish church hosts a group.

The school supplies the students are using were accumulated over time by Romanelli.

“For years, I have always tried to anticipate the worst-case scenario and have always stocked up on stationery for various school and oratory activities,” he told CNA. ”Also at the beginning of the war, I had as much of this type of material bought as possible.”

Young refugees from the nearby Orthodox parish of St. Porphyrius also participate in the school activities. The students are grouped by age. The younger ones gather for study on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, while the older ones meet on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

Every day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., small review lessons are held on key subjects: mathematics, Arabic, science, and English. Religious education and catechism are dedicated to the afternoon time and oratory activities.

“The [students] are happy, they have a desire to learn,” Romanelli said. “Of course, there are no homework assignments, because they don’t even have a home. There has been a positive impact on families as well. Parents encourage their children to read, review, and be punctual for classes.”

A group of teenagers from Gaza engages in school review activities. Every day, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., small review lessons are held on key subjects: mathematics, Arabic, science, and English. It is not a typical school, and there are no formal curricula to follow. The idea is rather to help the young people channel their physical and mental energy into something constructive and to be ready for when school resumes. “Because this war will end one day, and we will be ready to start again,” said Father Gabriel Romanelli, the parish priest, with conviction. Credit: Photo courtesy of Father Gabriel Romanelli
A group of teenagers from Gaza engages in school review activities. Every day, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., small review lessons are held on key subjects: mathematics, Arabic, science, and English. It is not a typical school, and there are no formal curricula to follow. The idea is rather to help the young people channel their physical and mental energy into something constructive and to be ready for when school resumes. “Because this war will end one day, and we will be ready to start again,” said Father Gabriel Romanelli, the parish priest, with conviction. Credit: Photo courtesy of Father Gabriel Romanelli

About 40 teachers have volunteered to help the children. “For them, too, preparing and engaging with the youth is very important,” Romanelli said. 

Before the war, the teachers taught in the five Christian schools — the Latin Patriarchate school, the Rosary Sisters’ school, the Protestant school, the Greek Orthodox school, and the Holy Family school — as well as some government schools. Today, they are all refugees in the Catholic and Orthodox compounds.

While it may seem peculiar to talk about education and studying when missiles and bombs continue to rain down around, Romanelli argued that there is nothing more right to do.

“Education is nourishment for the soul; it is essential,” he said. “First and foremost, from a spiritual perspective. If life is not lived in union with God, without the life of grace, people are like walking dead. Without this, humans will never find inner peace. But alongside this, it is important to nourish the intellectual aspect, the thought.”

Romanelli continued: “After eight months without lessons, without reading, what can we talk about? If one does not care for the formative, intellectual aspect, if one does not nourish oneself with good, interesting things that speak of the future, if one does not read and study, the soul withers, and thus life withers.”

A group of teenagers listens during a training session in the Latin Church of the Holy Family in Gaza. Religious education and catechism are dedicated to the afternoon time and oratory activities. Credit: Photo courtesy of Father Gabriel Romanelli
A group of teenagers listens during a training session in the Latin Church of the Holy Family in Gaza. Religious education and catechism are dedicated to the afternoon time and oratory activities. Credit: Photo courtesy of Father Gabriel Romanelli

With the St. Joseph Project, Romanelli has sought to “offer young people the opportunity to nourish their souls, both intellectually and spiritually. To keep them engaged in constructive activities, even though the noise of war serves as the backdrop to their days.”

At the moment, it’s not possible to imagine if or how a new school year might begin, but, Romanelli said, “the experience of these lessons shows us that there is the will and moral strength, there is the desire to start again, to find solutions.”

“God will help us,” Romanelli said. “The time of divine providence is perfect. On our part, we continue to sow desire for peace, justice, reconciliation, and to do good to all those we can, starting with those close to us.”

An invitation to find healing in Jesus: Day 3 of the National Eucharistic Congress

Father Boniface Hicks, O.S.B., a sought-after spiritual director and retreat master, processes the massive golden monstrance containing the Eucharist into the midst of the assembled crowd in Lucas Oil Stadium. / Credit: Jonah McKeown/CNA

Indianapolis, Ind., Jul 20, 2024 / 09:27 am (CNA).

Attendees at the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis were urged Friday night to approach Jesus just as people approached him in the Gospels: with their sins and brokenness, seeking healing. 

Father Boniface Hicks, OSB, a sought-after spiritual director and retreat master, carried the massive golden monstrance containing the Eucharist into the midst of the assembled crowd in Lucas Oil Stadium. Kneeling before the Eucharist, Hicks reminded the crowd of Jesus’ great and freeing love for every person. 

“He loves you. He made you. He desired you. He chose you. He knit you together with love, with his own hands in your mother’s womb. You are a masterpiece of his loving creativity. He sees you. He gazes on you now with love. He delights in you. I want to invite you on a new journey of healing,” Hicks prayed before the silent, kneeling crowd of 50,000. 

“He sees, in your whole life, a golden thread of goodness. He made you in his own image, and you’ve never lost that. That golden thread of goodness has continued even through the deepest sorrows, the darkest moments … Even in times of weakness, in times of sins and failures, times that you were hurt, and times that you hurt others, he wants to bring healing. Healing for your hurts, healing for your failures. And so I invite you to open your heart to his healing love.”

Hicks invited the crowd to pray a litany — a series of petitions to God — focused on healing. The first response was “Jesus, heal my heart with your love.” The second was “Jesus, come close to me.” The third was “Please forgive me, Jesus.” And the fourth was “Jesus, help me to believe.”

“Let us pray for courage as we hold the hurting places in our hearts before Jesus’ loving gaze,” the priest said before solemnly processing the Eucharist around the stadium.  

Hicks had previously told the National Catholic Register that his purpose in offering the healing prayers is to “help people open their hearts to how they can invite Jesus not only physically closer but also closer to those places where they carry insecurities and fears, tears and wounds from the past, as well as places where we have failed through our own sin.”

“I think there’s a temptation to reduce these things to an intellectual exercise, and I think the design of the organizers, and certainly my desire, is to let it be a real personal encounter that reaches the heart,” Hicks said ahead of the service. 

Father Boniface Hicks, OSB, a sought-after spiritual director and retreat master, processes the massive golden monstrance containing the Eucharist into the midst of the assembled crowd in Lucas Oil Stadium. Credit: Jonah McKeown/CNA
Father Boniface Hicks, OSB, a sought-after spiritual director and retreat master, processes the massive golden monstrance containing the Eucharist into the midst of the assembled crowd in Lucas Oil Stadium. Credit: Jonah McKeown/CNA

Before the adoration session, Sister Josephine Garrett of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth spoke of the importance of repenting of sin, quoting her community’s foundress, who said that God is pleased with “a soul who is susceptible to many falls, but who, knowing her weakness, turns to God in humility.”

“Tonight, I am begging you on behalf of Jesus Christ … tonight is a night of healing, but the healing begins with repentance,” the popular podcasting sister, who is also a licensed mental health counselor, said.

“No one is saved alone. The lives of others continually spill over into mine, and what I think, say, do, and achieve in my life spills over into that of others, for better or for worse. And this is good news. The healing that you and I long to see in the body of Christ — it begins with my repentance, with your repentance.”

The congress, the first such event to be held in the United States since World War II, is the fruit of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ multiyear project of Eucharistic Revival. The initiative aims to galvanize Catholics in their faith and love for the Eucharist as preparation for a special nationwide year of mission. Catholics young and old, from all across the country, are in attendance. The energy was high ahead of the keynotes last night, with an impromptu mosh pit forming in front of the stage during a high-energy worship song. 

Before the keynotes, the crowd heard from Paula Umaña, a former top-ranked tennis player from Costa Rica who lost the use of her legs due to a neurological condition. Today, she credits her family’s prayers and Mary’s intercession with helping her restore her ability to walk with the help of special leg devices. She appeared before the crowd with her son, Charles, who told the crowd: “When it seems impossible, run to Jesus.”

Paula Umaña, a former top-ranked tennis player from Costa Rica who lost the use of her legs due to a neurological condition, appears with her son Charles at the National Eucharistic Congress. Credit: Jonah McKeown/CNA
Paula Umaña, a former top-ranked tennis player from Costa Rica who lost the use of her legs due to a neurological condition, appears with her son Charles at the National Eucharistic Congress. Credit: Jonah McKeown/CNA

Today, Saturday, will have as a highlight a massive Eucharistic procession through downtown Indianapolis, beginning at the convention center and ending at the Indiana War Memorial. 

At tonight’s Revival Session, attendees will hear from Bishop Robert Barron, Gloria Purvis, Tim Glemkowski, and Jonathan Roumie, and will have praise and worship led by acclaimed musician Matt Maher. 

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The faith of Venezuela’s presidential candidates: A crucial decision for Catholic voters

Venezuelan opposition presidential candidate for the Plataforma Unitaria Democratica party, Edmundo Gonzalez Urrutia (left) and current Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro appear to have the lead in that country’s upcoming elections, which will take place July 28, 2024. / Credit: UAN BARRETO/AFP via Getty Images; AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images

ACI Prensa Staff, Jul 20, 2024 / 07:00 am (CNA).

Next Sunday, July 28, presidential elections will be held in Venezuela. Various candidates are vying for victory, but according to the Voice of America, several pollsters point out that two in particular seem to have the lead: current president Nicolás Maduro and Edmundo González Urrutia.

With a little over a week until the elections, Venezuelan Catholics must take a much closer look into which option best represents their moral and religious convictions.

Various activists and organizations inside and outside the country, such as the International Crisis Group, have charged that in Venezuela the elections will not be completely free or fair, since in recent months, Maduro’s forces have been arresting opposition leaders and closing businesses and establishments that have provided any type of logistical support to González.

In addition, there are serious complaints against the Venezuelan electoral system. In 2017, the company Smartmatic, in charge of providing the software and machines used in the elections, accused the regime of manipulating participation figures, the BBC reported, and questioned the result of that year’s elections in which the opposition decided not to participate.

Nicolás Maduro

Maduro is once again seeking reelection, aspiring for a third term that would keep him in office until 2031.

Maduro was serving as vice president under President Hugo Chávez when the latter died in office and Maduro assumed the presidency. He was subsequently elected president in a 2013 special election.Throughout his years as president, Maduro has been harshly criticized by leaders around the world and has been accused, along with his family and friends, in different cases of corruption.

Since 2020, the United States Department of State has offered a reward for information that leads to the capture of Maduro and other Chavista (pro-Maduro) leaders for crimes related to drug trafficking and terrorism. Under his government, millions of Venezuelans have left the country and hundreds of dissidents have been murdered, according to the nongovernmental organization Human Rights Watch.

Furthermore, due to the country’s economic collapse, millions of people are mired in extreme poverty, suffering from hunger and all kinds of deprivation. Maduro has blamed this on an alleged “economic war” against Venezuela, orchestrated mainly from the United States.

In religious matters, Maduro claims to have been raised Catholic and that his paternal family ancestry is of Sephardic Jewish origin, the Jerusalem Post reported. However, in 2005 he visited India — along with his wife and prominent Chavista figure, Cilia Flores — to meet the questionable guru Sai Baba and advance the establishment of a branch in Caracas to follow his teachings, according to the Indian Express.

In addition, over the last few years, Maduro has strengthened his ties with the evangelical church, announcing plans of financial support and appearing on national television alongside pastors in the midst of prayer sessions, while harshly criticizing the efforts at dialogue promoted by the Vatican in Venezuela and while it has persecuted and attacked the country’s bishops on numerous occasions.

In 2020, Reuters reported that Maduro expressed his support for same-sex unions and asked the country’s legislature, the National Assembly, to consider legalizing such unions in Venezuela, falsely claiming the alleged support of Pope Francis in this regard. On the issue of abortion, Chávez’s successor has not expressed himself openly.

Edmundo González Urrutia and María Corina Machado

Edmundo González Urrutia became relevant on the Venezuelan political scene in recent months when he was chosen as a stand-in candidate for María Corina Machado, who this year was disqualified by the Chavista justice system from running for any public office. González, 74, held various and important diplomatic positions during the 20th century.

Despite González’s experience, it is Machado who has assumed leadership of the campaign, touring the country with massive rallies and voicing strong opposition to Chavismo (the socialist policies of Chávez and his successor Maduro). Machado, the coordinator of the Vente Venezuela party, with a center-liberal tendency, has stood out as a political leader since 2002.

During the events of the last decade in Venezuela, Machado never managed to establish herself as the leader of the opposition coalition until, in 2023, she was elected by an overwhelming majority in the opposition’s primary elections to find a unity candidate to face Maduro in the presidential election.

The national coordinator of Vente Venezuela has affirmed her Catholic faith on numerous occasions. However, at the same time she has spoken out in favor of euthanasia, in a 2023 interview with Politiks, “only” in certain cases.

On the issue of abortion, Machado affirms that “a national, rational debate must take place” and that despite being clear about her religious convictions, she would “never impose” her religious vision on society. “That would be absolutely contrary to what a liberal society deserves and demands,” she said.

Likewise, she has been clear about her position in relation to homosexual unions: “I am in favor,” she stated in the same interview. Regarding allowing adoption for homosexual couples, Machado responded that she is in favor of “the well-being of children” and added that she knows firsthand “the drama of abandoned children.”

The bishops’ call

In recent days, the Venezuelan episcopate has highlighted the “majority will” of Venezuelans who wish to participate in the elections on July 28 to achieve a change that allows all citizens to “live in peace and justice.”

On behalf of the bishops, Archbishop Jesús González de Zárate, president of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference (CEV), stated that as pastors they must accompany this desire and actively contribute so that it can be realized.

“Like Elijah’s, the road is long and difficult. There is still a long way to go to achieve a better Venezuela, but we must not give up on this endeavor,” González de Zárate said in his homily at a Mass renewing Venezuela’s consecration to the Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

On July 11, the CEV published a new pastoral exhortation in which it encouraged Venezuelans to participate in the elections in order to overcome the very serious situation in which basic services, education, the economy, freedom, and justice in the country find themselves.

In addition, they called for a careful evaluation of the ability of each of the candidates to solve Venezuela’s problems. 

“The vote thus assumes a vital importance in the current reality we live in: Only by overcoming abstentionism and political apathy will we be able to make progress in the reconstruction of the country,” the bishops said.

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