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5 things to know about Cardinal Zen

Cardinal Joseph Zen. / Iris Tong via Wikimedia (Public Domain).

Rome Newsroom, May 11, 2022 / 11:05 am (CNA).

The 90-year-old cardinal was arrested and released on bail on May 11.

US Senate's vote on radical abortion bill: Here's what to know

Credit: Unsplash. / null

Washington D.C., May 11, 2022 / 11:00 am (CNA).

The U.S. Senate voted Wednesday against moving forward with what pro-life leaders described as “The Abortion on Demand Until Birth Act.” 

The Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022 (WHPA), which needed 60 votes to move forward, failed in the Senate with 51 lawmakers voting against it and 49 voting for it. The vote fell along party lines, except for one Democrat who voted against the bill: Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who is Catholic and has previously identified himself as pro-life. If approved, the bill would override states’ pro-life laws and remove restrictions on abortion up to the point of birth in some cases.

The intent of the WHPA, or S.4132, is to “enshrine a virtually unlimited abortion ‘right’ in federal law and block common ground pro-life laws around the country,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List), has warned.

The May 11 vote was Democrats’ response to a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that suggests justices will overturn Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide in 1973.

“[F]or the first time in fifty years, women in America face the real possibility of living in a world where the protections of Roe v. Wade are a thing of the past,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “And there will be no hiding from where each of us stands on this most precious, most private, most personal decision that women ever have to make when it comes to their own bodies.”

An almost identical version of the WHPA failed in the Senate in February. That vote also fell along party lines, with only one Democrat (Manchin) voting against proceeding. No Republican voted in support of the WHPA. 

“It would impose abortion up until the moment of birth without any limits in all 50 states,” Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, the founder and chair of the Senate Pro-Life Caucus, said on the floor Tuesday. “In a nutshell, this radical bill would make the United States of America one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a preborn child.”

Daines, who previously spoke with CNA about Democrats’ response to the leaked draft opinion, cited a saint — Mother Teresa of Calcutta — during his Tuesday remarks.

At the 1994 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., Mother Teresa urged, “I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of an innocent child.” 

She added: “Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.”

What is the WHPA?

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade later this year, as the leaked draft opinion suggests, then abortion could be left up to individual states. The WHPA threatens pro-life state laws.

The act’s text lists a series of specific restrictions it would do away with, on everything from limitations on telemedicine to restrictions around viability, which the act defines as the point when a fetus can survive outside the womb — determined by “the good-faith medical judgment of the treating health care provider.”

The WHPA would forbid any kind of limit on abortion before fetal viability, including “a prohibition or restriction on a particular abortion procedure.” After viability, the WHPA would outlaw limits on abortion “when, in the good-faith medical judgment of the treating health care provider, continuation of the pregnancy would pose a risk to the pregnant patient’s life or health.”

National pro-life groups, such as SBA List, have expressed concern over this section because the Supreme Court, in Doe v. Bolton, broadly defined what “may relate to health,” including “all factors — physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age — relevant to the wellbeing of the patient.”

In the past, SBA List has warned that the WHPA would also “nullify pro-life laws in states across the country, including late-term abortion limits when unborn children can feel pain, waiting periods, informed consent laws, antidiscrimination laws, and more.”

The Catholic position

In February, 13 Catholic senators, including Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), voted in favor of the WHPA. Wednesday's vote produced the same outcome.

President Joe Biden, who also is Catholic, and his administration have repeatedly expressed support for the WHPA.

The Catholic Church condemns abortion in the strongest possible terms.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which summarizes Church teaching, recognizes the inherent dignity and worth of the unborn human person and considers abortion a “crime against human life.” 

“Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception,” the catechism reads. “From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.”

In his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae, Pope St. John Paul II addressed abortion in light of politics.

“I repeat once more that a law which violates an innocent person's natural right to life is unjust and, as such, is not valid as a law,” he wrote. “For this reason I urgently appeal once more to all political leaders not to pass laws which, by disregarding the dignity of the person, undermine the very fabric of society.”

The “Church encourages political leaders, starting with those who are Christians, not to give in, but to make those choices which, taking into account what is realistically attainable, will lead to the re- establishment of a just order in the defence and promotion of the value of life,” he added.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith later explained the late pontiff’s teaching in a doctrinal note on “The Participation of Catholics in Political Life.”

“John Paul II, continuing the constant teaching of the Church, has reiterated many times that those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a grave and clear obligation to oppose any law that attacks human life,” it read. “For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them.”

Politico: Supreme Court abortion draft still the only one being circulated

United States Supreme Court. / Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 11, 2022 / 06:33 am (CNA).

The draft opinion leaked to the press that would overturn Roe v. Wade is still the only one being circulated among Supreme Court justices, whose votes in a pivotal abortion case remain unchanged, Politico reported Wednesday.

Politico is the same news outlet that first published the draft, written by conservative associate justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., on May 2.

In its latest report, Politico said it has learned that "none of the conservative justices who initially sided with Alito have to date switched their votes."

The case in question, Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, centers on Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban, a direct challenge to Roe.

After Politico first published the draft opinion, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. ordered an investigation into the source of the lea, which he called an "egregious breach of trust" and an "affront" to the court.

The Supreme Court also said in a statement that while the draft is authentic, "it does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case."

News of the draft opinion has triggered a wave of protests by advocates of legalized abortion, as well as acts of violence and other provocations against Catholic churches and pro-life organizations.

Ukraine war: Catholic charity to fund restoration of looted seminary

Damage at the Major Theological Seminary of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Vorzel, Ukraine. / Caritas-Spes Zhytomyr.

Vorzel, Ukraine, May 11, 2022 / 04:25 am (CNA).

‘They took everything they could,’ said seminary rector Father Ruslan Mikhalkiv.

Catholics under attack: Incidents since SCOTUS draft abortion decision, by state

Vandalism at St. John XXIII parish in Fort Collins, Colo., May 7, 2022. / Eileen Pulse

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 10, 2022 / 18:50 pm (CNA).

The publication of a leaked draft opinion in a pivotal Supreme Court abortion case on May 2 triggered a wave of protests by supporters of legalized abortion and acts of vandalism and violence targeting Catholic churches and pro-life organizations.

The draft opinion suggested that a conservative majority on the court is poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

Here is a compilation of reported incidents since May 2, by state:

California

The 10 a.m. Mass on May 8 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles was disrupted just before Communion by female protesters dressed in red gowns and large white hats. They were escorted from the church. The women shouted and unfurled a banner but were quickly escorted away, allowing the Mass to resume.

Colorado

St. John XXIII parish in Fort Collins, about an hour north of Denver, was tagged with graffiti in the early morning of May 7, police said. “My Body My Choice” and a symbol that appears to be an “A” signifying “anarchy” were written on the church’s exterior. Some exterior glass panels at the church also were broken.

The look and style of the graffiti appears similar to that which appeared on a Catholic church building in nearby Boulder a few days prior. Sacred Heart of Mary Parish was defaced with pro-abortion slogans the evening of May 3, marking the second time in less than a year that the parish has been targeted with graffiti of this sort. 

Maryland

About 100 protesters marched from the home of Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh to that of Chief Justice John Roberts, both in the Chevy Chase area, the evening of May 7. Demonstrators yelled “If you take away our choices, we will riot,” and “The whole world is watching.”

New York

Pro-abortion demonstrators rallied on May 7 outside the the Basilica of Saint Patrick's Old Cathedral (better known as “Old St. Pat’s”) in Lower Manhattan. The protest disrupted a monthly pro-life procession from the church to a nearby Planned Parenthood abortion clinic. A Franciscan friar was heckled, and a woman dressed in a bathing suit stuffed to simulate pregnancy danced in front of the church and crudely pretended to abort baby dolls.

The church’s pastor, Father Brian Graebe, later told Fox News, “We have received a number of threats to bomb the church, burn it down."

Oregon

Oregon Right to Life reported that on the evening of May 8 Molotov cocktails were thrown at the organization’s offices in Keizer, igniting a small fire. The fire was quickly put out and no one was hurt.

Texas

The tabernacle was stolen overnight from St. Bartholomew the Apostle Catholic Church in Katy, the pastor reported May 9.

On May 8, graffiti saying “Pro-choice is pro-life” was spray-painted on the front and side doors of Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Houston.

A pro-life pregnancy center in Denton called the Loreto House was vandalized over Mother’s Day weekend. Messages saying “Not a clinic” and “Forced abortion is murder” were left on the center’s street sign, walls, and doors.

Virginia

First Care Women’s Health, a pro-life pregnancy resource center in Manassas, was vandalized on the night of May 8-9. “ABORTION IS A RIGHT,” and “LIARS” was written in black spray paint on the building’s exterior.

Outside the Alexandria home of Justice Samuel Alito, who authored the leaked draft opinion, protesters from Shut Down DC chanted May 9 “abort the court.”

Wisconsin

A fire was set at the headquarters of Wisconsin Family Action, a pro-life advocacy group, in Madison on May 8. Police said a Molotov cocktail was thrown at the building but did not ignite, but another fire was set. The building was unoccupied at the time and no one was hurt. outside of the building also sprayed with graffiti depicting an anarchy symbol, a coded anti-police slogan and the phrase, "If abortions aren't safe then you aren't either."

US bishops urge fasting and prayer in response to pro-abortion threats

null / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Denver Newsroom, May 10, 2022 / 14:50 pm (CNA).

In response to threats of violence from pro-abortion activists, the U.S. bishops’ conference is inviting Catholics around the country to join in fasting and praying the rosary on Friday, May 13, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima.

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the conference, urged Catholics to pray for the conversion of the hearts and minds of those who advocate for abortion, as well as for the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

Lori and Gomez also encouraged prayer for “a new commitment to building an America where children are welcomed, cherished, and cared for; where mothers and fathers are encouraged and strengthened; and where marriage and the family are recognized and supported as the true foundations of a healthy and flourishing society.”

The bishops also urged prayers for the United States, “for the integrity of our judicial system, and that all branches of government be dedicated to seeking the common good and protecting the dignity and rights of the human person, from conception to natural death.”

Finally, Lori and Gomez asked for “Our Blessed Mother’s intercession and guidance as the Church continues to walk with mothers and families in need, and continues to promote alternatives to abortion, and seeks to create a culture of life.”

Those in favor of legal abortion have staged demonstrations following the May 2 revelation of a leaked draft opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court, suggesting that the court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. 

If the court’s final ruling does overturn Roe and Casey, the question of abortion legalization will return to the states, and more than a dozen states will largely curtail abortion, or outlaw it altogether. 

There have been threats of violence from some online figures, including the group Ruth Sent Us, which threatened to disrupt Catholic Masses on Mother’s Day and to “burn the Eucharist.” 

Large-scale Mass disruption and property damage has not materialized, though there have been several instances of vandalism and attempted arson reported throughout the country at parishes and at pro-life pregnancy centers, and protestors did disrupt at least two Masses last weekend at the cathedrals of New York City and Los Angeles. 

Roe v. Wade: Pro-life leaders react to Chicago mayor's 'incendiary' call to arms

Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot leads the city's Pride Parade as Grand Marshal, June 30, 2019. / Vashon Jordan Jr. via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 10, 2022 / 13:42 pm (CNA).

Catholic and pro-life leaders are condemning the Chicago’s mayor’s “call to arms” in response to the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion suggesting that justices will overturn Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide in 1973.

“To my friends in the LGBTQ+ community—the Supreme Court is coming for us next. This moment has to be a call to arms,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a Democrat in a same-sex marriage, tweeted on Monday. “We will not surrender our rights without a fight—a fight to victory!”

Catholic and pro-life leaders expressed concern with Lightfoot’s wording at a time when abortion activists are threatening Supreme Court justices and attacking Catholic churches and pro-life pregnancy centers.

“It is seriously concerning to see politicians like Mayor Lightfoot use incendiary language with violent undertones at a time when certain Supreme Court justices need additional security and churches and pregnancy centers are under actual attack by the abortion movement,” Ashley McGuire, a senior fellow with The Catholic Association, told CNA. 

She added, “Efforts to intimidate jurists and frighten pro-lifers will not prevail, but they are reckless and must be condemned.” 

The ​​March for Life Chicago — which unites thousands of Midwesterners every year to promote life — expressed concern about Lightfoot’s wording amid the ongoing violence.

“The March for Life Chicago condemns Mayor Lightfoot’s ‘call to arms,’ especially following a Molotov cocktail being thrown into a pro-life organization’s office just 150 miles from Chicago,” the group told CNA. “The March for Life Chicago calls upon Mayor Lightfoot, civic leaders, and all Midwesterners to peacefully build a society where preborn children and their parents are protected from the violence of abortion.”

Amy Gehrke, the executive director of Illinois Right to Life, also called out the mayor.

“At a time when violence in the city of Chicago is spiraling out of control, it is mind-boggling that Mayor Lightfoot is putting more taxpayer money towards the violence of abortion,” she told CNA. “It is also mind-boggling that, with violence against pro-life advocates rising sharply, that Mayor Lightfoot would use irresponsible and incendiary language such as issuing a ‘call to arms.’”

On Monday, Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Public Health announced an allocation of $500,000 for supporting “access to reproductive healthcare for Chicagoans and patients seeking safe, legal care from neighboring states that have or ultimately will ban abortion if the Supreme Court decides to strike down Roe v. Wade.”

“Through this investment, my administration is reaffirming our commitment to ensure safe access for anyone seeking safe reproductive healthcare,” Lightfoot said. “That includes access to transportation, lodging, care, and, if necessary, safe and legal access to an abortion procedure.”

Gehrke responded, “By welcoming women to Chicago for abortions Mayor Lightfoot is putting the women of our neighboring states at risk.”

“Talk of threats to the LGBTQ community and others is a straw man,” she concluded. “Abortion advocates know when they talk about the real issue — the deliberate killing of preborn children and the harm it causes their mothers — they lose.”

The mayor’s press office did not respond with comment by time of publication to expand on the meaning of Lightfoot’s remarks. When Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado's third congressional district called Lightfoot an “insurrectionist” in response to her “call to arms” tweet, Lightfoot responded, “Excuse me. Insurrection is your thing. Not ours.” 

In response to the Supreme Court draft opinion, which the court noted “does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case,” some Democrats such as President Joe Biden have claimed that overturning Roe would threaten  LGBTQ and contraception “rights.”

The draft opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, takes pains to say otherwise.

“To ensure that our decision is not misunderstood or mischaracterized, we emphasize that our decision concerns the constitutional right to abortion and no other right,” Alito writes. “Nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedent that do not concern abortion.”

“Roe’s defenders characterize the abortion right as similar to the rights recognized in past decisions involving matters such as intimate sexual relations, contraception, and marriage, but abortion is fundamentally different, as both Roe and Casey acknowledged, because it destroys what those decisions called ‘fetal life’ and what the law now before us describes as an ‘unborn human being,’” the draft reads.

Exhibit of Ukrainian child refugees' art opens at cathedral in Latvia

The opening night of an exhibition of art by Ukrainian refugee children at St. James' Cathedral in Riga, Latvia, May 8, 2022. / Archdiocese of Riga.

Riga, Latvia, May 10, 2022 / 11:00 am (CNA).

An exhibition of artwork made by Ukrainian refugee children was opened Sunday at the complex of St. James' Cathedral in Riga. Hosted by Archbishop Zbigņev Stankevičs, the event was attended by several ambassadors to Latvia.

Titus Brandsma: A new patron saint of journalism?

An icon of Titus Brandsma in Bolsward, the Netherlands. / Anthony Johnson/EWTN.

Rome Newsroom, May 10, 2022 / 10:11 am (CNA).

More than 60 journalists have issued an appeal to Pope Francis.

Catholic charity sees ‘signs of hope’ for Iraq’s beleaguered Christians

The Catholic University of Erbil in Ankawa, in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Credit: Aid to the Church in Need. / null

Königstein, Germany, May 10, 2022 / 08:00 am (CNA).

‘Pope Francis’ visit, I think, really has given them hope,’ said Aid to the Church in Need’s Regina Lynch.