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Papal envoy to Ukraine meets with President Zelenskyy, concludes ‘intense’ visit

Pope Francis’ envoy to Ukraine Cardinal Matteo Zuppi on June 6, 2023, finished a “brief but intense” two-day visit to Kyiv, which included a meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. / Credit: Vatican News/YouTube

CNA Newsroom, Jun 6, 2023 / 13:15 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis’ envoy to Ukraine Cardinal Matteo Zuppi on Tuesday finished a “brief but intense” two-day visit to Kyiv, which included a meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“The results of these talks, such as those with religious representatives, as well as the direct experience of the atrocious suffering of the Ukrainian people as a result of the ongoing war, will be brought to the Holy Father’s attention,” the Holy See Press Office said in a bulletin Tuesday. 

Zuppi’s conversations “will undoubtedly be useful in assessing the steps to be taken both on the humanitarian level and in the search for paths to a just and lasting peace,” the bulletin said.

On Tuesday morning, Zuppi stopped to pray at Kyiv’s St. Sophia Cathedral, a historic center of Christianity.

He then met with Zelenskyy and other political leaders. The meeting with the president was “very cordial” according to Avvenire, the newspaper published by the Italian Episcopal Conference.

Zelenskyy, writing on the messaging internet service Telegram, said he and Zuppi discussed the situation in Ukraine and humanitarian cooperation.

“Only joint efforts, diplomatic isolation, and pressure on Russia can bring a just peace on Ukrainian soil,” the president said. “I ask the Holy See to help implement the Ukrainian peace plan. Ukraine welcomes the willingness of other states and partners to find ways to peace, but since the war is on our territory the solution for achieving peace can only be Ukrainian.”

The cardinal thanked Ukraine’s civil authorities for the meetings, especially for the meeting with Ukraine’s president, the Holy See Press Office said.

Last month Pope Francis asked Zuppi, who is archbishop of Bologna and president of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, to serve as a papal envoy to “initiate paths of peace” between Russia and Ukraine.

The cardinal has strong ties to the influential peace-building community Sant’Egidio, a lay Catholic association. Sant’Egidio has taken part in peace negotiations in many countries including Mozambique, South Sudan, Congo, Burundi, and the Central African Republic.

On Monday, the first day of his visit, Zuppi visited the town of Bucha about 16 miles west of Kyiv, Vatican News reported. He prayed at the graves of dozens of civilians massacred by Russian troops in March 2022. Many of the victims were tortured and buried in mass graves.

He met with Dmytro Lubinets, the Ukrainian Parliament’s human rights commissioner. Topics of discussion included the treatment of Ukrainian children in Russian-occupied territories and the treatment of prisoners, including civilians.

Also on Monday, the cardinal met with representatives of the Council of Churches and Religious Organizations.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin on May 26 said that Zuppi’s mission does not have mediation as its immediate goal. Rather, his role aims to create a climate for mediation and “help move toward a peaceful solution.”

‘We have much to celebrate’: USCCB pro-life chair releases Dobbs anniversary statement

Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ fall plenary assembly in Baltimore, Nov. 16, 2022. / Katie Yoder/CNA

CNA Newsroom, Jun 6, 2023 / 12:45 pm (CNA).

Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, released a statement June 6 ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s June 24, 2022, decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade.

“We have much to celebrate,” Burbidge wrote. “By the grace of God, the nearly 50-year reign of national abortion on demand has been put to an end. Roe v. Wade — a seemingly insurmountable blight on our nation — is no more!”

Amid the time for celebration, however, “we are reminded that this is not the end, but the beginning of a critical new phase in our efforts to protect human life,” Burbidge said in the statement. “Despite this momentous legal victory, sobering and varied challenges lie ahead of us.”

Burbidge pointed out that in the last year, several states have passed legislation to protect unborn life while other states enacted “extreme abortion policies that leave children vulnerable to abortion, even until the moment of birth.”

“In this shifting political landscape, we persist confidently in our efforts to defend life,” he continued. “The work that lies ahead continues to be not just changing laws but also helping to change hearts, with steadfast faith in the power of God to do so.”

Burbidge called for “radical solidarity” with women facing unexpected or challenging pregnancies as well as compassion for those who suffer due to their participation in abortion. He also called for prayer.

“May all people of faith and good will work together to proclaim that human life is a precious gift from God; that each person who receives this gift has responsibilities toward God, self and others; and that society, through its laws and social institutions, must protect and nurture human life at every stage of its existence,” he concluded.

Here is Pope Francis’ schedule for World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon

A screenshot from Pope Francis' May 4 video message to young people attending World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal. / Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Jun 6, 2023 / 11:45 am (CNA).

Pope Francis’ schedule for his trip to Portugal for World Youth Day 2023 was published by the Vatican on Tuesday.

During his Aug. 2–6 visit to the southern European country, the 86-year-old pope will split his time between WYD events and meetings with local government and religious leaders and other organizations.

He will also spend the morning of Aug. 5 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, about 75 miles northeast of Lisbon, where he will pray the rosary with sick young adults in the Marian shrine’s Chapel of Apparitions.

On the evening of Aug. 5, Pope Francis will participate in a vigil with World Youth Day participants at Tejo Park in Lisbon, a green space of more than 220 acres flanked by the Tagus River and with a view of Europe’s second-longest bridge, Vasco da Gama.

The park will be the site for WYD 2023’s main festivities, including Mass with Pope Francis on the final day.

Sunday Mass followed by a meeting with World Youth Day volunteers will be the pope’s final encounters before returning to Rome on the evening of Aug. 6.

The five-day trip will begin with a meeting with Portugal’s Catholic President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa followed by an address to government authorities, civil society members, and the diplomatic corps.

He will later meet with the country’s prime minister, António Costa, before praying vespers with local priests, bishops, seminarians, and consecrated men and women at the 16th-century Jerónimos Monastery, one of Lisbon’s top-visited sites.

On Aug. 3, Francis will meet students from the Portuguese Catholic University before traveling to the Cascais suburb west of Lisbon to spend time with young people from Scholas Occurentes, an international group that promotes education in poor communities.

That afternoon he will take part in his first World Youth Day event, a welcome ceremony at Eduardo VII Park.

On Friday, Aug. 4, Pope Francis will hear confessions, meet representatives of charity organizations, have lunch with young adults, and pray the Stations of the Cross.

The trip will mark Francis’ fourth World Youth Day after taking part in the international Catholic gatherings in Panama, Poland, and Brazil.

World Youth Day was established by Pope John Paul II in 1985. The weeklong celebration usually attracts hundreds of thousands of young people.

The theme of Lisbon’s World Youth Day, which will take place Aug. 1-6, is “Mary arose and went with haste.”

Pope Francis names two new auxiliary bishops for San Diego who immigrated to US as teens

San Diego Auxiliary Bishops-elect Felipe Pulido and Michael Pham. / Credit: Diocese of Yakima, Father Michael Pham

Rome Newsroom, Jun 6, 2023 / 10:34 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Tuesday appointed two new auxiliary bishops for San Diego who both immigrated to the U.S. as teenagers.

The Vatican announced on June 6 that Father Michael Pham, 56, and Father Felipe Pulido, 53, will be consecrated as bishops for the Diocese of San Diego.

Pham is San Diego’s current vicar general and escaped Vietnam in a refugee boat with his siblings when he was 13 years old.

“Being appointed auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of San Diego by our Holy Father, Pope Francis, is incredible and unfathomable news for me. I am so deeply honored,” Pham told CNA.

While growing up in South Vietnam in the 1970s, Pham noticed a Catholic priest in town who was very involved with his parishioners and kind to everyone. At 10 years old Pham thought: “I want to be like that.”

After the Vietnam War ended with the fall of Saigon, Pham and two of his siblings fled the country in July 1980 in a harrowing boat journey in the South China Sea with no food and little water.

“We were jammed in like sardines.There was barely room to sit down,” Pham recounted to the Mission Times Courier.

Pham and his siblings spent three months in a refugee camp in Malaysia before finding asylum in the United States as unaccompanied minors.

The siblings were hosted by a family in Minnesota until Pham’s father, who had aided the Americans during his service in the South Vietnamese army, also gained asylum in the U.S. and moved the family to San Diego.

Pham finished high school in San Diego and went on to earn a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from San Diego State University. While working for a company that maintained databases for Boeing, he felt a call to the priesthood.

His father was strongly against him becoming a priest, but Pham’s call to his vocation became more intense and he applied to the seminary without his father’s approval.

“My parents soon realized that they couldn’t stop me from entering the seminary, and they finally accepted my request for their approval. I truly felt the hands of God working throughout the whole process for me to become a priest,” Pham said.

He enrolled in St. Francis Seminary and later studied at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, California, before he was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of San Diego in 1999 at the age of 32. Pham spent four years as the diocesan vocation director and has been the pastor of Good Shepherd Parish since 2016.

“It is truly a privilege and an honor to become a priest. And now, I am being called to serve the Church in a greater capacity as bishop. I don’t know what I have, but I hope and pray through the guidance of the Holy Spirit to give me wisdom, knowledge, and strength to take on this task that the pope has entrusted to me to serve God’s people,” Pham told CNA.

Pulido is the vicar for clergy and vocations director for the Diocese of Yakima, Washington. He was born in a small town in Mexico in the state of Michoacán and is the oldest of seven children.

At age 12 he entered a minor seminary in Mexico, where he studied through high school.

When he was 18, Pulido came to the U.S. with his parents and worked in the fields in Washington picking and packing fruit. He worked as a teacher assistant for three years at the Epic Migrant Head Start program before entering Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon in 1994 at the age of 24.

He spent time in Rome as a student at the Pontifical North American College and earned a degree in sacred theology with high honors at the Angelicum in Rome in 2000. Pulido also studied at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Rome from 2001 to 2002 and was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Yakima in 2002.

Pulido has served as the pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Kennewick, Washington, since 2020.

“Father Pulido is the first priest of the Yakima Diocese named to be a bishop since its founding in 1951. We are all very proud of him,” Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima said after the appointment was announced.

As auxiliary bishops, Pham and Pulido will join Auxiliary Bishop Ramon Bejarano in assisting Cardinal Robert McElroy in his duties as bishop of San Diego. The Diocese of San Diego serves more than 1.3 million Catholics.

Vatican: Pope Francis has checkup at Rome hospital

Pope Francis at his Wednesday general audience in St. Peter’s Square on May 31, 2023. / Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Jun 6, 2023 / 05:36 am (CNA).

Pope Francis went to a Rome hospital’s center for the elderly for a visit on Tuesday, according to Italian media reports.

Italian news agency ANSA reported that Pope Francis spent about 40 minutes at Gemelli Hospital before returning to his Vatican residence shortly before noon on June 6.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni issued a brief statement June 6 confirming media reports.

Bruni said: “This morning Pope Francis went to Gemelli Hospital to undergo some clinical examinations and returned to the Vatican before noon.”

According to its website, Gemelli Hospital’s center for elderly patients has a day hospital as well as areas for acute patients, rehabilitation, neuropsychology, and research.

Pope Francis, 86, canceled meetings on May 26 due to a fever. He resumed his normal activities the next day.

At the end of March he was hospitalized for four days for a lung infection.

Since early 2022 the pope has suffered from knee pain. He started to have difficulty standing and walking and has been using a cane and wheelchair for over a year.

He has also dealt this year with a recurrence of diverticulitis, a painful inflammation of bulges in the large intestine, for which he was operated on in July 2021.

Despite his recent medical challenges, the Vatican recently announced the pope’s intention to visit Mongolia Aug. 31–Sept. 1.

Francis is also scheduled to be in Lisbon, Portugal, for World Youth Day Aug. 2–6. The trip also includes a visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima.

This story was updated at 6:39 a.m. MDT with the statement from Matteo Bruni.

Former feminist turned pro-lifer shares her testimony prior to March for Life in Colombia

Adriana (left) / March for Life in Medellín, Colombia, on June 3, 2023. / Credit: United for Life

ACI Prensa Staff, Jun 5, 2023 / 17:20 pm (CNA).

A young Colombian mother shared her testimony regarding her feminist past and recounted how now, as a pregnant mom, she defends the right to life of unborn children.

In a special interview as a prelude to the National March for Life held throughout Colombia on June 3, Adriana shared her testimony with the United for Life platform in Medellín.

With the message “I defend women, including her” written on her showing midriff, Adriana related that she belonged to a group of women from her town and “from there they connected us to the entire feminist organization.”

The young woman lamented how in her time as a feminist, the leaders encouraged them to experience attraction to other women and to strip down during their demonstrations.

“I was surprised because they freely told us so at large gatherings and invited us to have an inclination for the same sex, for women themselves. And that kind of didn’t square with me,” Adriana said.

“In many of the demonstrations that we were at,” she continued, “because I was very active in the movement, they urged me a lot to strip down, to paint my body for the demonstration, which, thank God, I never agreed to because I didn’t see the reason to violate my privacy, my dignity.”

The change

Regarding the reasons that led her to leave the feminist movement, Adriana explained that “the issue of their supporting abortion so much never sat right with me because it doesn’t seem right to me to attack an innocent baby, because we, their moms, are the only ones who can defend them, so I decided to get out of the movement.”

“I got to know Lazos de Amor Mariano (Bonds of Mary’s Love), I consecrated myself [to Jesus through the Virgin Mary] and well, that’s it. By the grace of God, I’m pregnant. It was very hard, very difficult, but I love my baby and I am infinitely grateful to God for giving me this gift of being a mother,” she said.

“Being a mother is a gift, it’s not a right, because many want to and cannot,” the young Colombian said.

Bonds of Mary’s Love is a private association of the lay faithful dedicated to the new evangelization called for by St. John Paul II.

The crisis

Regarding the crisis that she had to go through when she realized she was pregnant, Adriana recalled that “I was very desperate because I was unemployed, without support, because my baby’s father left me alone, he doesn’t want to take responsibility and I was desperate all by myself and I said to myself, ‘What am I going to do?’”

“I talked with a missionary [from Bonds of Mary’s Love] and he connected me with Red Provida (Pro-life Network); they called me and a psychologist spoke with me, she offered me complete support. They have supported me emotionally, spiritually,” she added.

“All this can be overcome, thanks be to God,” the young mother remarked.

For life and against abortion

When asked about her participation in the March for Life events in Colombia, Adriana replied: “I’m here because I’m against abortion.”

If the woman decides not to be with the man, “there are many options such as adopting, but the baby is not to blame. There is no reason, not for rape, or deformities, to not to give life to a baby,” she continued.

The Constitutional Court (CC) of Colombia decriminalized abortion in 2006 on three grounds: rape, fetal deformities, or danger to the life of the mother.

In February 2022, the same court issued another ruling that liberalized abortion on demand up to 24 weeks, or six months of pregnancy.

The June 3 National March for Life, which was organized by the United for Life platform, demanded the repeal of that ruling as well as a 2012 CC ruling that decriminalized euthanasia. Tens of thousands of people turned out for the event in approximately 70 cities including Bogotá, Medellín, Cali, Bucaramanga, and Chiquinquirá.

To conclude her testimony, Adriana stressed that “we don’t have authority over life, God does. He’s the one who decides who dies or lives. We don’t have that right, especially if we have this great gift of giving life. How can you take it away?”

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

Oklahoma board approves first Catholic charter school in the country

null / Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jun 5, 2023 / 16:50 pm (CNA).

The state of Oklahoma approved the country’s first-ever religious charter school on Monday. The move will allow public funds to pay the tuition of children attending an online Catholic school run by the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and the Diocese of Tulsa.

The Statewide Virtual Charter School Board voted 3-2 to approve St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School in a three-hour-long meeting. The “yes” votes included a new member who was appointed by Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt on Friday.

In a statement, the governor applauded the decision.

“This is a win for religious liberty and education freedom in our great state, and I am encouraged by these efforts to give parents more options when it comes to their child’s education,” Stitt said.

“Oklahomans support religious liberty for all and support an increasingly innovative educational system that expands choice,” the governor added. “Today, with the nation watching, our state showed that we will not stand for religious discrimination.”

Because charter schools are public schools funded by taxpayers, the decision to fund a religiously affiliated charter school is already coming under legal scrutiny. Republican Attorney General Gentner Drummond rebuked the board’s vote and said the action was unconstitutional.

“The approval of any publicly funded religious school is contrary to Oklahoma law and not in the best interest of taxpayers,” Drummond said. “It’s extremely disappointing that board members violated their oath in order to fund religious schools with our tax dollars. In doing so, these members have exposed themselves and the state to potential legal action that could be costly.”

State Superintendent Ryan Walters disagreed with the attorney general, stating that the move expands school choice.

“This decision reflects months of hard work and, more importantly, the will of the people of Oklahoma,” Walters said. “I encouraged the board to approve this monumental decision, and now the U.S.’s first religious charter school will be welcomed by my administration. I have fought for school choice in all forms and this further empowers parents. We will make sure every Oklahoma parent has the opportunity to decide what is best for their child.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that states cannot discriminate against religiously affiliated schools in its school voucher programs. However, the constitutionality of charter schools run by religious institutions has not yet come up.

Church tower collapses following earthquakes in southern Peru

The tower of Purísima Concepción Church in Lari, Peru, collapsed following earthquakes in May 2023. / Credit: Municipality of Caylloma

ACI Prensa Staff, Jun 5, 2023 / 16:30 pm (CNA).

A tower at a church in southern Peru has collapsed due to a series of earthquakes there in recent days.

According to RPP Noticias, the tower, which had already suffered damage from an earthquake in 2016, is located at Purísima Concepción (Most Pure Conception) Church in the Colca Valley in the Lari district of Caylloma province in the Arequipa region.

The foundation of the church and 12 other churches are at risk of collapsing due to the condition of their infrastructure after the quakes, which ranged from 2.7 to 5.5 in magnitude.

The mayor of Caylloma, Alfonso Mamani, said it is necessary for the Ministry of Culture to intervene in order to rehabilitate and preserve all the churches that had already been damaged in the 2016 earthquake. That earthquake left more than 250 families homeless.

Although there were already projects for the restoration of the churches, new evaluations are now necessary due to the recent damage.

The mayor of the Lari district, José Panta Mamani, asked for support to rebuild the Purísima Concepción church and the houses affected by the earthquakes.

“Our reservoirs are damaged; they’ve shifted, and at any time they can collapse. I just want to strongly ask our authorities; hopefully, this time they’ll focus on these places where we have to attend to,” the mayor said.

“Otherwise, as I say, our province of Caylloma is on the way to disappearing, because there is no longer any hope for anything, because everything is damaged,” he lamented.

The epicenter of the earthquakes was in the Maca district. The earthquakes also damaged several houses in the neighboring districts of Tisco, Lari, Ichupampa, and Achoma.

Due to the emergency situation, the Provincial Municipality of Caylloma set up tents in the Maca district, where residents were able to spend the night.

Other damage included landslides on highways and in the Madrigal district.

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

Report: Twitter fails to block some child pornography  

Photo illustration. / Shutterstock

Denver, Colo., Jun 5, 2023 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

The social media website Twitter has apparently failed to block images of child sexual abuse, with researchers detecting several dozen known images of illegal pornographic material on the platform from March through May.

Though Twitter appeared to correct the problem, it imposed new fees for the use of an application to monitor the social media platform’s ability to block child pornography, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The Wall Street Journal’s report was based on research conducted by the Stanford Internet Observatory, which conducted a study of child protection issues across multiple social media platforms. It used a computer program to analyze a data set of about 100,000 Tweets from March 12 to May 20. The researchers found more than 40 images on Twitter flagged as CSAM (child sexual abuse material) in databases that companies use to screen content.

“This is one of the most basic things you can do to prevent CSAM online, and it did not seem to be working,” David Thiel, chief technologist at the Stanford Internet Observatory and report co-author, told the Wall Street Journal.

Thiel said it was “a surprise” to get any hits on “a small Twitter dataset.” Researchers used a digital signature analysis called PhotoDNA and their own software program to scan for the images and did not view the images themselves.

Twitter has previously said it uses PhotoDNA and other tools to detect CSAM, but it did not comment to the Wall Street Journal about whether it still uses PhotoDNA. The Stanford researchers said Twitter told them it has detected some false positives in CSAM databases that the platform’s operators manually filter out. Twitter said researchers might see false positives going forward.

The platform has touted its efforts to combat child sexual exploitation. It reported that it suspended about 404,000 accounts in the month of January for creating or engaging with material involving CSAM.

Research on Twitter involves access through an application programming interface (API). Twitter is now charging for this access, which could make analysis of Twitter unaffordable for researchers, the Wall Street Journal reported. The Stanford Internet Observatory has stopped using the enterprise-level API for Twitter because of the new costs.

The observatory, based at Stanford University, aims to study abuse of the internet in real time. Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter, in March accused the observatory of being a “propaganda machine” for its work on content moderation during the 2020 U.S. election.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), which advocates against sexual abuse and the public harms of pornography, placed Twitter on its 2023 “Dirty Dozen” list. The list aims to spotlight major mainstream entities that facilitate, enable, or profit from sexual abuse and exploitation. The NCOSE Law Center is representing two plaintiffs whose abuser groomed the then-teenage boys into sending sexually explicit videos of themselves. Compilations of the illegal material were then posted and shared on Twitter.

Citing the technology news blog site TechDirt, the NCOSE said: “Most experts agree that Musk’s actions since purchasing Twitter have so far served to make the crime of child sexual exploitation worse.”

Carmelite nuns file new theft and defamation charges against Fort Worth Bishop Olson

Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity in Arlington, Texas. / Credit: CBS News Texas/YouTube

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 5, 2023 / 15:30 pm (CNA).

Carmelite nuns of the Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity in Arlington, Texas, filed new theft and defamation charges Friday against Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth.

The nuns’ new charges were filed in a district court for Tarrant County, Texas, the day after Olson dismissed the monastery’s prioress, Reverend Mother Teresa Agnes Gerlach, from religious life on the grounds that she had a sexual affair with an unnamed priest.

In a Thursday decree, Olson announced he had found Gerlach, prioress of the Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity in Arlington, “guilty of having violated the sixth commandment of the Decalogue and her vow of chastity with a priest from outside the Diocese of Fort Worth.”

The new charges levied by the monastery are in addition to a lawsuit filed on May 3 that seeks $1 million in civil damages and asks the court to block the bishop’s and the diocese’s access to any records obtained by confiscating the reverend mother’s property.

“Bishop Olson forced the Reverend Mother to turn over her computer, iPad, and cellular phone to him personally,” the charge states. 

Though the physical property has since been returned, the nuns allege that the diocese made digital copies of the information containing “private correspondence, private documents, extensive medical records,” and financial information, “including but not limited to donor lists.” 

“This is the private property of the Plaintiffs, none of which is relevant or related to the canonical investigation, which according to the Defendants has now been concluded,” the suit says. 

Additionally, the nuns claim that Olson and the diocese defamed Gerlach by voluntarily publishing “patently false and defamatory” statements about the prioress on the diocesan website. 

In turn, the diocese is arguing that the dispute is an ecclesiastical matter and should not be heard in a civil court.

The civil hearing on the case is set for June 23.

Although Olson has concluded his ecclesiastical investigation and the diocese alleges that Gerlach admitted to the misconduct, the monastery’s attorney Matthew Bobo emphatically denies that claim. 

According to Bobo, Gerlach, 43, was under the influence of pain medication related to a surgery when she is alleged to have admitted to the affair and “has not admitted to any grave misconduct that would warrant his extreme and emotionally damaging measures.”

Per Olson’s decree, Gerlach has 30 days to appeal her dismissal to the Vatican’s Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of the Apostolic Life.

Bobo has said that Gerlach intends to appeal the decision.