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What are schism and excommunication in the Catholic Church?

null / Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA

ACI Prensa Staff, Jun 25, 2024 / 16:15 pm (CNA).

Recently a community of Poor Clare nuns in Spain announced their decision to leave the Catholic Church, thus committing the canonical crime of schism and incurring excommunication. Italian Archbishop Carlo María Viganò is also undergoing a Vatican extrajudicial process for schism. 

Just what are schism and excommunication in the Catholic Church? An explanation follows.

Schism

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, schism is “the rupture of ecclesiastical union and unity, i.e. either the act by which one of the faithful severs as far as in him lies the ties which bind him to the social organization of the Church and make him a member of the mystical body of Christ, or the state of dissociation or separation which is the result of that act.”

Canon 751 of the Code of Canon Law states that schism is “the refusal of submission to the supreme pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.” Canon 1364 stipulates that the penalty for this crime is excommunication “latae sententiae,” i.e., automatically upon the commission of the offense.

Excommunication

Briefly, excommunication can be defined as the most serious penalty a baptized person can incur, which consists of being placed outside the communion of the faithful of the Catholic Church and denied access to the sacraments.

The Catholic Encyclopedia states that excommunication is “a medicinal, spiritual penalty that deprives the guilty Christian of all participation in the common blessings of ecclesiastical society.”

“Being a penalty, it supposes guilt; and being the most serious penalty that the Church can inflict, it naturally supposes a very grave offense. It is also a medicinal rather than a vindictive penalty, being intended not so much to punish the culprit as to correct him and bring him back to the path of righteousness,” the encyclopedia explains.

Why is a person excommunicated?

Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, major penitentiary emeritus of the Church, explained in 2015 that the purpose of excommunication is to bring “the guilty to repentance and conversion.”

“With the penalty of excommunication the Church is not trying in some way to restrict the extent of mercy but is simply making evident the seriousness of the crime,” he noted.

Excommunication is not only a punishment and goes beyond restricting access to holy Communion.

According to Canon 1339 § 2, along with excommunication “in the case of behavior which gives rise to scandal or serious disturbance of public order, the ordinary can also correct the person, in a way appropriate to the particular conditions of the person and of what has been done.”

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

Pope Francis meets with leaders of Institute of Christ the King, a Latin Mass group

Monsignor Gilles Wach (center), prior general of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, is received in private audience by Pope Francis on June 24, 2024. He is accompanied by Monsignor Rudolf Michael Schmitz, vicar general of the institute, and Canon Louis Valadier, provincial of France. / Credit: Courtesy of Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 25, 2024 / 15:45 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis on Monday met with three leaders of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (ICKSP) — an institute whose priests celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass and live according to the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales.

The June 24 meeting comes at a time when celebrations of the Traditional Latin Mass are restricted by the pontiff’s motu proprio Traditionis Custodes

Although the ICKSP’s news release following the meeting did not reference any discussion of the Traditional Latin Mass, the institute said “the pope insisted that we continue to serve the Church according to our own, proper charism, in the spirit of unity and communion which the harmony and balance of the Salesian spirituality allow.”

Francis met with Monsignor Gilles Wach, the prior general of ICKSP, who was celebrating the 45th anniversary of his priestly ordination by St. John Paul II. He also met with Monsignor Rudolf Michael Schmitz, the institute’s vicar general, and Canon Louis Valadier, the provincial of France.

“This audience was an occasion to thank the Holy Father for his inspiring apostolic letter Totum Amoris Est, dedicated to St. Francis de Sales, our patron saint,” read an ICKSP statement, referencing the pope’s December 2022 letter.

The statement added that the prior general spoke to the pontiff about “all the pastoral work carried out by the priests of the institute throughout the world in the service of souls.”

ICKSP’s statement also said that Pope Francis expressed gratitude for their prayers and for the missionary work of the Sister Adorers, which is a group of religious sisters affiliated with ICKSP, and for the dedication of the oblates. According to the statement, the pontiff invited the leaders as well as the sisters to visit him again.

The institute was co-founded by Wach and Father Philippe Mora in Gabon, Africa, in 1988 and received canonical recognition in 1990. The institute embraces long-standing Catholic liturgical traditions, including celebrations of the Traditional Latin Mass, according to the pre-Vatican II missal.

ICKSP has an international presence, including in more than a dozen U.S. states.

Pope Francis imposed sweeping restrictions on the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass in July 2021, directing bishops to designate locations for the celebration of the Latin Mass but instructing them that those locations not be within parish churches. 

The pontiff granted some temporary dispensations, which allowed parishes with thriving Latin Mass communities to keep offering the traditional Mass — but those dispensations will need to be extended, prior to their expiration, by the pontiff himself in order for the Latin Mass to continue in those parishes.

EU bishop: Elections show citizens concerned about Ukraine war

At his Angelus address June 9, 2024, Pope Francis asked people to pray for the people who are suffering in Myanmar and in Ukraine, giving a special shoutout to some Ukrainians who were in the crowd waving flags. / Credit: Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Jun 25, 2024 / 15:15 pm (CNA).

Citizens of the European Union want EU politicians to be more actively engaged in international issues such as the Ukraine war, an Italian bishop said after the EU elections earlier this month. 

Bishop Mariano Crociata of Latina, president of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), told EWTN News that despite low voter turnout, EU citizens have an expectation that the elected members of the 27 countries’ joint parliament will respond to the problems they are living through, including fear of widespread war in Europe.

“The [election] result denotes … in the citizens of the countries that are part of the European Union, a phase of concern, perhaps one must even say fear,” he said. He explained that there is fear regarding “the presence of a war whose outcome is not foreseen or understood” and voters are looking for greater peace of mind.

EU citizens also have the expectation, he said, that elected officials will “do something, to have their voices heard” and “to have the political strength to become more and more an international subject, a subject that at least operates, is active a much as possible, in the confrontation between the big and medium powers that have responsibilities on so many things and particularly on the war in Ukraine.”

Crociata, who was elected president of COMECE for a five-year term in 2023, lamented the fact that only 51% of the 370 million people eligible to vote for the EU parliament and commission cast ballots during the June 7–8 elections.

“This is already a questioning, thought-provoking element, calling for reflection,” he said. 

The bishop also spoke about the importance of pushing the new EU commission and parliament to reinforce diplomatic action toward peace between Ukraine and Russia while also engaging as much as possible in dialogue.

“Any kind of dialogue that may take place with Ukraine, with Russia, with the countries close to Russia, with the citizens who frequent our countries and are from Russia, should not be considered of little importance,” he said.

“Don’t think that they are collateral initiatives,” Crociata continued. “Though maybe not directly effective or directly aimed at diplomatic action, they are not of little importance because I would say creating a climate ... within these countries can play its part, along with the institutional initiatives.”

“I think public opinion, shared sensitivity, communication, everything [can have an effect] ... We have to do our part because everything can have an influence, which sooner or later will result in the big decisions that can really turn the tide and stop the war,” he said.

A father shares the heartache of abortion at rally celebrating overturning of Roe v. Wade

Students and pro-life advocates gather at the Lincoln Memorial for a rally commemorating the second anniversary of the overturning of Roe v. Wade on June 22, 2024. / Credit: Gigi Duncan/CNA

Washington D.C., Jun 25, 2024 / 14:45 pm (CNA).

Thomas Kearns knows the heartache that results from abortion. It was only three months ago that he lost his preborn daughter. 

Clementine, who was almost five months along, was “subjected to a second-trimester abortion without proper legal and ethical guidelines being followed,” Kearns shared with the crowd gathered at the Lincoln Memorial for the Celebrate Life Rally on June 22. 

“People tell me she is not a human, or she wasn’t alive. People tell me I’m crying over someone I never met before. But the first time I truly met Clementine was during the sonogram,” Kearns maintained. “We heard her heartbeat; it was so loud for someone so small. There she was, her little body and beautiful future.”

Kearns continued his heartbreaking story before the group of students and pro-life advocates. He described how an abortion clinic “preyed” on Clementine’s mom’s “uncertainty and vulnerability,” ultimately leading her to a late-term abortion that left her with “trauma and regret.”

His family’s “deepest sorrow,” he said, has been that his daughter was denied a proper burial because Clementine’s body was taken and sold for research — “dissected by advanced bioscience resources who distributed her remains to research centers.” 

“My daughter has been a science experiment for three months,” he stated. “Our children are not disposable, with souls, lives, and destinies that deserve to be fulfilled. So why did Clementine have to die? What would you do to save your family, to stop someone you love from dying?”

At the rally commemorating the second anniversary of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Kearns called on those in attendance to be bold and continue the fight to protect the unborn.

“It’s time to wake up to the truth. Abortion is ending families and killing our children,” he said. “True empowerment comes from providing encouragement, love, and protection. Not the false choice of ending a family member’s life.”

In an impassioned statement, Kearns declared: “I love Clementine. I will find her and give her a resting place and the respect that she deserves. Clementine will make a difference; Clementine’s voice will be heard. Even after my death, Clementine will live on.”

When asked by CNA what his outlook of the pro-life future consists of, Kearns shared: “What we’ve been doing these past years needs to be amplified. We need to educate people on the truth, on science and biology. Transparency is the future.”

“We need to explain every detail, explain the facts. Abortion is gruesome,” Kearns continued. “This is another stage of life. We should protect the unborn the same way we would protect a 2-year-old.”

While those attending the rally and subsequent conference events celebrated the anniversary of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, many also expressed a shared motivation to push harder for the sanctity of human life ahead of state ballot measures that could enshrine abortion “rights” into their constitutions. 

“Remember Clementine,” Kearns concluded as the crowd cheered. “And end abortion.”

Top Republican senator says faith is ‘the foundation for pretty much everything I do’

South Dakota Sen. John Thune speaks about his faith to “EWTN News Nightly” on June 24, 2024. / Credit: “EWTN News Nightly”

CNA Staff, Jun 25, 2024 / 14:15 pm (CNA).

An aspiring GOP U.S. Senate leader told EWTN News this week about the indispensable role faith plays in his life, saying that “starting off the day in prayer is critical to every day.”

Pro-life Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, a potential candidate for the role of Senate Republican leader, told “EWTN News Nightly” on Monday that “at an early age, I made a profession of faith in Christ, and that’s been the foundation for pretty much everything I do.”

Thune serves as the Senate Republican whip, the No. 2 position in Senate Republican leadership, and aspires to take on the role of leader once Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell — currently the minority leader — leaves the post in November.

Thune told EWTN News Capitol Hill correspondent Erik Rosales on Monday that his parents became Christians “later in life.”

“They were in their 30s, but a friend of my dad’s from high school got them involved in a Bible study,” he said. “They were having some struggles in their marriage and their lives — and they found the Lord that way.” 

Thune said he stays grounded by reading Scripture every day. 

“Starting off the day in prayer is critical to every day,” he explained. “In a lot of cases, it’s asking for wisdom. This is a job where there are a lot of things coming at you and being able to discern what’s true from what’s false, knowing right and wrong, and asking for the Lord’s guidance on that.” 

“It says in James 1:5 [that] if any man asks for wisdom, God will give it to him,” the senator pointed out.

Staunchly pro-life, Thune this month attempted to pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, though Senate Democrats stymied the measure.

“It says in Psalm 139 that [God] formed our inward parts, wove us in our mother’s womb, that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and that my soul knows it very well,” Thune said on Monday. 

“I think that the clear articulation of that as part of our Judeo-Christian heritage is something that shapes the way I view the issue,” he said. “But there’s just, for me, an intuitive instinctive sense of right and wrong on that issue.”

When asked what he wants to bring to the Republican Party if he is elected leader, Thune said he wants to present “solutions and results.”

“I want to be a hopeful, optimistic leader, a leader who’s willing to do hard things, make hard decisions, and a leader who comes with strong convictions and doesn’t shy away from or back down from a fight but at the same time understands that this is a country that’s a democracy, and there are going to be a lot of people at different points of view,” he said.

“At the end, you have to try and figure out how to get solutions and results for the American people,” Thune added. “That doesn’t mean you’re always going to get everything you want.”

Pope Francis meets with Russian ambassador to the Vatican

Pope Francis meets with Russia’s new ambassador to the Vatican Ivan Soltanovsky on Sept. 18, 2023, at the Vatican. / Credit: Vatican Media

CNA Staff, Jun 25, 2024 / 13:45 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis on June 22 met with Ivan Soltanovsky, Russia’s ambassador to the Holy See, in their first meeting since Soltanovsky presented his diplomatic letters to the pontiff last September. 

Soltanovsky, a 69-year-old career diplomat, was appointed to his current role in May 2023. No details of the pair’s most recent meeting have yet been released. 

Soltanovsky told Russia’s official Tass News Agency earlier this month that the Holy See remains one of the few global players who favor diplomacy, peace, and dialogue based on mutual respect and consideration of interests.

“In a situation where traditional methods of building peace no longer work, the Vatican has tirelessly been looking for new ways and opportunities and is willing, as Pope Francis said, to ‘think out of the box,’” the Russian diplomat told Tass. 

Pope Francis has condemned Russia’s war of aggression and called for peace in Ukraine on numerous occasions but has also occasionally received criticism from Ukrainians for the way he has expressed himself. He has offered to act as a mediator between the two countries.

Pope Francis paid an unusual visit to Soltanovsky’s predecessor, Aleksandr Avdeyev, at the Russian embassy on Feb. 25, 2022, the day after Russia’s full-scale invasion began. The Vatican said the pope went to the embassy “to show his concern for the war.” Later, in September 2022, Pope Francis said he was involved in a prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine, which involved calling Avdeyev “to see if something could be done, if an exchange of prisoners could be speeded up.”

In mid-2023, ahead of Soltanovsky’s appointment, Pope Francis asked Italian Cardinal Matteo Zuppi to serve as a papal envoy to “initiate paths of peace” between Russia and Ukraine. Zuppi has since made several diplomatic visits across the world to promote peace between Russia and Ukraine, including stops in Kyiv, Ukraine; Moscow; and Washington, D.C. 

In recent weeks, prominent Vatican officials have reaffirmed the pope’s desire to maintain communication with both Russia and Ukraine. Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin also said the Holy See is greatly concerned about the tragic humanitarian consequences of the war “and is especially committed to facilitating the repatriation of children and encouraging the release of prisoners, especially seriously wounded soldiers and civilians.”

Pope Francis donates ambulance, opens war trauma center in Ukraine

Pope Francis blesses the ambulance that he donated in June 2024 to to treat the wounded in Ukraine’s Ternopil region. / Credit: Dicastery for the Service of Charity

Rome Newsroom, Jun 25, 2024 / 13:15 pm (CNA).

The Vatican has announced the opening of a war trauma rehabilitation center this month in Ukraine named after St. John Paul II.

Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner and prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Service of Charity, is traveling to Ukraine to inaugurate the clinic on the pope’s behalf.

The cardinal will also personally deliver an ambulance filled with medical supplies that was donated by Pope Francis to treat the wounded in Ukraine’s Ternopil region.

“In the Ternopil region, due to the continuing war, numerous convoys arrive daily carrying civilians and soldiers forced to flee the border area with Russia, where hostilities are most bloody,” the announcement from the Vatican’s charity dicastery said on June 24.

“This ambulance will also be a valuable tool to support relief workers treating injured people.”

It will be Krajewski’s eighth trip to Ukraine since the war broke out. On one of his prior trips, the cardinal was shot at as he delivered humanitarian aid near the city of Zaporizhzhia.

According to the Vatican’s charity dicastery, the St. John Paul II Rehabilitation Center, located in Vinnytsia in the Diocese of Kamyanets-Podilskyy, will provide both physical and psychological rehabilitation for soldiers and their families who have suffered from war trauma.

The clinic, created with contributions from the Papal Foundation and Aid to the Church in Need, will be open to all “without any distinction of faith, nationality, or exclusion,” according to Pope Francis’ wishes.

Pope Francis has already donated two other ambulances that are being used to provide medical assistance and humanitarian relief in other parts of Ukraine.

Pope Francis appoints new bishops of Rapid City, Davenport dioceses

Bishop-elect Scott Bullock (left) and Bishop-elect Dennis Walsh. / Credit: Diocese of Rapid City; Diocese of Davenport

CNA Staff, Jun 25, 2024 / 12:45 pm (CNA).

The Vatican announced on Tuesday that Pope Francis has appointed two new bishops to lead two U.S. dioceses in the Midwest. 

The Holy See said Father Dennis Walsh would head the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa, while Father Scott Bullock would lead the Diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota. 

Bishop-elect Walsh was born on July 16, 1965, in Ohio. He received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from St. Alphonsus College in Suffield, Connecticut, and later obtained a master’s of divinity from Washington Theological College. 

Walsh entered the religious order of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer in 1992 and was ordained a priest on May 27, 2000. In July of that year he was incardinated in the Diocese of Toledo.

Walsh has served a variety of priestly roles, including as parochial vicar at St. Michael Parish in Baltimore and as secretariat of finance for the Baltimore Redemptorist Province, both before his incardination at Toledo.

In the Toledo Diocese, the bishop-elect was pastor at several parishes; he also served as a member of the Catholic Foundation Board, a member of the diocesan Presbyteral Council, and as dean of the St. Junipero Serra Deanery.

The Davenport Diocese was previously headed by Archbishop Thomas Zinkula, who was appointed to lead the Archdiocese of Dubuque in 2023. Father Kenneth Kuntz has served as the apostolic administrator of the diocese since that time.

Bishop-elect Bullock, meanwhile, will go to Rapid City after serving as a parish priest in the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa, where he currently serves as pastor of St. Edward Parish in Waterloo.

Born on Oct. 26, 1963, in Royal Oak, Michigan, Bullock earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Delaware and received an industrial engineering degree from the General Motors Institute in Flint, Michigan.

At Pontifical North American College in Rome, he earned a degree in sacred theology, after which he received a licentiate in canon law from the Catholic University of America.

Ordained on June 22, 1991, he has held several pastorships and diocesan roles in Dubuque, where he served as director of seminarians for 14 years as well as director of the recently ordained program and judicial vicar for the archdiocese.

Bishop Peter Muhich had led the Rapid City Diocese until his death in February of this year. Father Daniel Juelfs administered the diocese in the interim.

The Davenport Diocese numbers 85,437 Catholics while the Rapid City Diocese has a Catholic population of 23,668.

Trump pledges, if elected, to get jailed pro-life activists ‘back to their families’

Former U.S. President Donald Trump walks on stage to deliver the keynote address at the Faith & Freedom Coalition's Road to Majority Policy Conference at the Washington Hilton on June 22, 2024, in Washington, D.C. / Credit: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 25, 2024 / 10:50 am (CNA).

Former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee in the 2024 U.S. presidential election, has expressed his support for the pro-life activists who have been aggressively prosecuted and jailed under the Biden administration.

Trump raised the issue during a June 22 speech to the Faith and Freedom Coalition, where he specifically mentioned the case of 75-year-old Paulette Harlow, a Catholic, who was convicted of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act this year. 

The U.S. Department of Justice has tried and convicted more than a dozen pro-life activists in 2024 based on the federal law, which increases penalties for anyone who obstructs access to an abortion clinic. Harlow, who is in poor health, was sentenced last month to 24 months in prison for participating in a blockade of an abortion clinic in Washington, D.C.

“Paulette is one of many peaceful pro-lifers who Joe Biden has rounded up, sometimes with SWAT teams, and thrown them in jail,” Trump said. “Many people are in jail over this. … We’re going to get that taken care of immediately — [on the] first day.”

Trump added that, if elected to another term as president, his administration would “rapidly review the cases of every political prisoner who’s unjustly victimized by the Biden regime, including Paulette, so we can get them out of the gulags and back to their families where they belong.”

When reached for comment, the former president’s national press secretary, Karoline Leavitt, did not elaborate on Trump’s pledge. CNA specifically asked whether Trump would commit to pardoning Harlow and the other pro-life activists convicted of FACE Act violations during the Trump administration.

During his speech, Trump said Christians, and especially Catholics, are being persecuted under the country’s current leadership. The former president also reiterated his promise to create a federal task force to investigate anti-Christian bias and other forms of illegal discrimination against people of faith. 

“We will protect Christians in our schools, in our military, in our government, in our workplaces, in our hospitals, and in our public square,” Trump said.

Trump also took credit for the United States Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. He said abortion policy was given “back to the states … where the people [can] vote and make their decisions.” He said if Democrats “get their way, they will have a federal law for abortion to rip the baby out of the womb in the seventh, eighth, and ninth month and even execute the baby after birth.”

For her part, Leavitt said the Biden administration has “waged a yearslong assault on Christianity.” She added that, under Biden, the Federal Bureau of Investigation “plotted to infiltrate Catholic Masses to spy on attendees” and emphasized that as president, Trump will “end Biden’s discrimination against Christians and stand up for religious freedom, as he did in his first term.” 

Trenton Catholic Charities apologizes for sponsoring ‘beyond the gender binary’ book reading

View of downtown Trenton, New Jersey. / Credit: Wikimedia Commons

CNA Staff, Jun 25, 2024 / 06:00 am (CNA).

Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Trenton issued an apology for co-sponsoring a children’s “story time” session this month with a book encouraging kids to move “beyond the gender binary.”

“We are very sorry for the confusion and hurt this may have caused. We are currently reviewing what led to our agency’s participation in the book reading. It is important to note that this event took place without the knowledge of or approval by [Trenton] Bishop David M. O’Connell, CM,” Hollis Painting, a spokeswoman for Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton, told CNA.

The book “My Shadow Is Purple” is written by Scott Stuart, a children’s author who, on his website, claims to be “a leading voice on fully accepting and empowering our children, exactly as they are.”

The book reading occurred at the Hamilton Township public library on June 17 and took place in the “children’s room.”

Scott Chianese, the library’s director, told the Daily Wire that Catholic Charities contacted the library to host the book reading and that it was the first event the charity hosted at the library.

A “local” Catholic parent identified only as “Tom” told the outlet that he was shocked by the reading of the book. 

“We seriously question how this sponsorship is anything other than a sad example of secularized virtue signaling,” he told the outlet. “I would also like the Diocese of Trenton to explain how moving children ‘beyond the gender binary’ will move them closer to God?”

Boy in a dress

The rhyme-scheme picture book features a young boy who says his “shadow” is different from his father’s “blue” and his mother’s “pink” shadow.

“My Dad has a shadow that’s blue as a berry, and my Mom’s is as pink as a blossoming cherry. There’s only those choices, a 2 or a 1. But mine is quite different, it’s both and it’s none,” the book says.

Toward the end of the book, the boy gets invited to his school’s dance and he shows up wearing a dress. “I’m ready to rock and I’m feeling cute,” the boy says.

When he gets to the dance, the boy feels that he can’t join the “pink” or the “blue” shadows and is upset that his teacher is making him choose one side. 

“If I cannot be purple, then I cannot stay,” he said. “I’ll leave and go home, I quietly say.”

Then the boy meets other students at the dance who have different-color shadows like he does.

One student says to the boy: “There’s more than two colors our shadows can be. I was too scared before but blue is not me. I know from outside, blue fits like a glove, but my shadow’s yellow, which to me feels like love.”

The apology

In Catholic Charities’ statement to CNA, Painting said: “Our purpose, rooted in our Catholic faith, is to restore dignity and independence to individuals and families in need, particularly the poor and vulnerable.”

“We achieve this through service, advocacy, and community building. For over three decades, we have worked with the New Jersey Department of Children and Families to provide resources to victims of child abuse,” she said.

Painting said that Catholic Charities was chosen for a state grant to provide and sponsor “youth mental wellness and bullying, suicide, and substance-abuse prevention initiatives.”

“On June 17, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton participated in a book reading at a public library as part of this grant program. We understand that, during this event, a book was read that addressed a gender-related topic,” she said.

“While this is a vitally important state program — and one which Catholic Charities is uniquely qualified to execute — our contract clearly states that we will not administer or host any content that may go against the teachings of the Catholic Church or its values; for any such topic, the curriculum is to be delivered by another community-based mental health organization,” Painting said.

Painting called the contract “an important boundary” and added that “we are working to determine how those lines were blurred during this event.”

“We are deeply committed to serving the community and remain focused on helping those in need while ensuring all future activities align with Catholic values and teachings,” she said.