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Archbishop Paul Gallagher to represent Pope Francis at Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral

Archbishop Paul Gallagher in 2018. / Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äußeres via Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0).

Denver Newsroom, Sep 16, 2022 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis’ representative at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II will be veteran Vatican diplomat Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Holy See press office director said on Friday.

African nations stand alone against abortion rights, gender ideology at the UN 

The United Nations General Assembly in New York. / Drop of Light/Shutterstock.

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 16, 2022 / 16:31 pm (CNA).

A United Nations resolution defining abortion as a human right and advancing gender ideology was adopted this month with overwhelming support from Western countries but was opposed by a group of mainly African nations. 

The resolution, which is titled “International cooperation for access to justice, remedies and assistance for survivors of sexual violence,” includes language stating that countries must provide “access to safe abortion” as a “human right.”

The resolution, adopted on Sept. 2, also references new gender terminology that some countries said was in opposition to their values because it contradicted a traditional view on human sexuality.

Western nations define abortion as a ‘human right’

More than 80 nations, including the United States and members of the European Union, co-sponsored the inclusion of language that defined abortion as a human right for women and girls. 

“Human rights include the right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality,” the document reads. 

The resolution includes modern contraception, emergency contraception and “safe abortion” in a list of rights entitled to women. 

It also updated the resolution’s language to add “gender-based violence” to the definition of “sexual violence.”

A handful of countries protested this move, arguing it promoted societal acceptance of homosexuality and transgenderism. 

Africa’s pro-life, pro-family amendments fail 

The resolution’s focus on abortion and gender ideology came under fire from 33 nations, primarily from Africa. 

Nigeria led the fight by proposing several amendments to protect unborn children and delete controversial language from the resolution, but the measures failed to get enough support to pass.

“Each country should decide its abortion laws at the national level without external interference,” a Nigerian representative said in a fiery debate. “Countries should help women avoid abortion and provide mothers and their children with health-care and social support.” 

“[This] creates the danger that women will be pressured to abort their babies,” he added.

Nigeria also voiced strong opposition to references to gender identity, arguing that “gender” can only include “male” or “female'' and announced that the country would withdraw from the resolution completely to defend its “values, laws and sovereignty.”

“We should not be creating new rights,” the Nigerian representative said. 

In remarks made at the U.N. meeting, Senegal’s representative condemned the inclusion of abortion as a family planning method and argued the word “gender” must only refer to “social relations between males and females.”

Among the 32 nations that joined Nigeria in supporting amendments to strike abortion and gender language from the resolution were Uganda, Cameroon, Ethiopia, and Senegal. The Philippines, Nicaragua, Russia, and a handful of Middle Eastern countries also joined the effort.

Austin Ruse, president of the Center for Family & Human Rights, said in an interview with CNA that it is well-known that smaller African countries courageously stand against the West’s pro-abortion and gender policies.

“They have the most to lose,” he emphasized. “They know what the sexual revolution is about because they can see what has happened to our country and don’t want any of it.”

“They want basic medical care, clean water, safe sanitation; not the gender, reproductive health, and comprehensive sexuality education agenda that comes from the big powers,” he added. 

Poland and Hungary vote to advance abortion, gender ideology 

Missing from the effort to protect life and a traditional view of sexuality were Hungary and Poland, predominantly Catholic nations known as global leaders in opposing abortion and gender ideology.

Poland is one of the few nations that have banned almost all abortions and ranks among the most pro-life governments.

Hungary’s story is a bit more nuanced, as abortion is legal in the country with some restrictions. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, however, the country is introducing pro-life measures and leading the way on pro-family policies

Both Hungarian and Polish governments have also gone toe-to-toe with progressive European leaders over gender ideology in the recent past.

Imre Téglásy, director of Human Life International Hungary, told CNA in a statement that he believed that Hungary failed to oppose abortion at the U.N. because it faces “heavy attacks of the liberal representatives of the EU.”

Téglásy explained that the EU has punished Hungary by cutting billions in funding to the country when the nation defended its “sovereignty and Christian values.”

Téglásy said the other possible explanation is that Hungary’s ambassador to the U.N., Zsuzsa Horváth, was not “really aware” of her government’s pro-family policies.   

“You can evaluate both of these [decisions as] shameful,” he concluded. 

The Ordo Iuris Institute for Legal Culture, a Polish legal organization that promotes human dignity in law, issued a statement deploring the vote.

“The silence of Poland, as well as Hungary, in taking a position in the international arena, represented a failure to realize the commitment made in the Geneva Consensus Declaration to defend fundamental rights and to fight to restore the true meaning of the concept of human rights,” the statement read. 

The institute called the resolution a “missed opportunity” for Poland to defend its sovereign laws and unborn human life.

‘Missed opportunity’ to defend life and values

Ruse said that as far as he was aware, Poland and Hungary “have never broken the EU consensus” on social issues in 25 years.

If Hungary and Poland were to stand up to the EU’s promotion of abortion at the U.N., it would “open the door to many pro-life victories,” Ruse explained. 

All 27 countries in the alliance would have to negotiate their own positions on abortion, he said.

“The EU speaking with a single voice is very powerful. If that voice is taken away, then there are great opportunities for the pro-life cause to advance,” Ruse concluded. 

Rod Dreher, a senior editor at the American Conservative and author of “The Benedict Option,” is surprised that Hungary and Poland did not vote in favor of traditional values. 

Dreher has spent extended time in Hungary as a fellow at the Danube Institute.

“I don’t understand this. There might be a reasonable explanation,” he told CNA in an email. 

“That said, even if this vote is unjustifiable, we Americans must not lose track of how strong both governments have been on these issues — Poland more than Hungary on abortion, because abortion rights are, sadly, popular in Hungary, limiting what the government can do,” Dreher explained. 

“Both have taken very strong stands against gender ideology in Europe, and have been forced to pay a steep price by Brussels. And they have accepted that price. This is why I can’t pass judgment on Poland’s and Hungary’s U.N. votes without more information,” he said.

Both the Hungarian and Polish delegations to the UN did not respond to requests for comment at the time of publication.

UN resolution first to promote global abortion right

The resolution “puts abortion under the category of international human rights in a General Assembly resolution for the first time,” according to C-Fam. 

While U.N. resolutions are nonbinding on individual states, Stefano Gennarini, vice president for legal studies at C-Fam, told CNA resolutions are binding “both in terms of the programs and norms the U.N. system promotes globally.”

Gennarini explained that the move is concerning for international law and “can be read by activist judges in domestic and international courts as evidence of a human right to abortion.”

The U.N. did not respond to a request for comment. 

U.S. bishops hold National Migration Week amid migrant crisis

Crowds attend a town hall meeting on immigration in Los Angeles, Jan. 14, 2014. Photo courtesy of Victor Aleman/vida-nueva.com. / null

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 16, 2022 / 16:25 pm (CNA).

The U.S. bishops are inviting Catholics to participate in National Migration Week and the World Day of Migrants and Refugees by encountering “those living on the existential peripheries.” 

The week, beginning on Sept. 19, presents an opportunity to reflect on the circumstances of migrants, refugees, victims of human trafficking, and others, according to the bishops. The seven days conclude on Sept. 25, the Vatican’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees (WDMR). 

The bishops’ announcement comes as Republican governors are transporting migrants to northern states in response to the border crisis. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently took credit for flying migrants to Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts while Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey have bused thousands to cities like Washington, D.C., New York, and Chicago.

"The Biden-Harris Administration continues ignoring and denying the historic crisis at our southern border, which has endangered and overwhelmed Texas communities for almost two years," said Abbott said in a press release Thursday, after transporting migrants to Vice President Kamala Harris' residence at the United States Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. 

On Wednesday, DeSantis’ communications director, Taryn Fenske, shared the governor’s position with Fox News Digital.

"States like Massachusetts, New York and California will better facilitate the care of these individuals who they have invited into our country by incentivizing illegal immigration through their designation as ‘sanctuary states’ and support for the Biden administration’s open border policies,” Fenske said.

In Providence, Rhode Island, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin tweeted on Friday that every human person, from the baby in the womb to the migrants in Massachusetts, should be treated with dignity.

“The baby in the womb, the refugee in Cape Cod - neither should be exploited for political points,” he typed. “Both are children of God. Both should be respected, welcomed and cared for. Can't we as a society agree on that?”

Ahead of National Migration Week, the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops (FCCB) called reports of the state’s involvement in transporting migrants to Martha’s Vineyard “disconcerting.”

“Any action to transport persons under false pretenses and leave them stranded with no assistance, if this proves to be the case, fails to respect their human dignity and objectifies them,” the group said in a statement to CNA. “Immigration is not just a political issue, but a fundamental human and moral issue.”

“For immigrants are not faceless numbers – but human persons,” the statement adds. “They are our brothers and sisters.”

The FCCB called the country’s broken immigration system a problem, rather than immigrants. 

“While reasonable people may disagree on how our nation should respond, any effective response demands that we recognize that immigration is more than a ‘border security’ issue but is essentially about our labor markets and the men and women who fill the jobs that continue to make America strong,” the statement reads. “Justice and prudence demand that we treat them with dignity and find a reasonable way for their contributions and presence to be recognized within the law.”

Serving as executive director for the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, Jennifer Allmon also commented on the “politicization of the life and dignity of migrants.”

“Our nation’s unwillingness to address the broken immigration system over these past several years rests squarely on citizens and politicians of both major political parties,” she told CNA in a statement. “This polarization has brought us to a moment of crisis; there exists a legitimate concern that without each level of government discharging their respective responsibilities, the common good of the communities of our towns, state, and nation, and immigrants themselves, will continue to suffer grievously.”

She recognized “an urgent need for legitimate and moral reform of our system of immigration and asylum.”

“The experience of our Catholic Charities and outreach ministries throughout Texas has taught us that refugees are adding to the quality of life throughout the state with their cultures and talents and the gainful employment that prevents them from being added to the poverty rolls,” Allmon said.

“Nevertheless, it is vital now that all levels of government make responsible plans to avoid a rush of people flooding our border that could jeopardize the just rule of law and the capacity of governmental and nongovernmental efforts to assist migrants, refugees, and the residential and native poor who are already here among us.” 

The U.S. Catholic Church has observed National Migration Week since 1980, while the WDMR began in 1914.

“There has never been a more critical moment to reflect on the issue of migration, as we witness, for the first time in history, over 100 million forcibly displaced persons in the world,” Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, the auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, said in a statement

Dorsonville went on to list several groups that Catholics should keep in mind. 

“I am especially mindful of Dreamers, our new Afghan neighbors, Ukrainians fleeing conflict in their homeland, those with temporary protections who have made a home in the United States, and undocumented agricultural workers, all of whom have an important role to play in building the future of our country—just as they have a role in building the Kingdom of God,” Dorsonville added.

He concluded: “May this week help us to experience a renewed sense of what it means to live as brothers and sisters, traveling together on the same journey.”

40 Days for Life in Spain: ‘The more they persecute us, the more we will embrace the Cross!’

Bishop José Ignacio Munilla with volunteers from 40 Days for Life in Spain / Photo credit: 40 Days for Life in Spain

Denver Newsroom, Sep 16, 2022 / 14:08 pm (CNA).

Volunteers 40 Days for Life in Spain face for the first time the threat of jail time for praying near abortion centers during their next campaign, Sept. 28 to Nov. 6.

Pope Francis orders new canonical process in abuse case at Opus Dei school in Spain

null / Shutterstock

Denver Newsroom, Sep 16, 2022 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

Bishop Joseba Segura Etxezarraga of Bilbao has announced that Pope Francis has ordered a new canonical process for an abuse case at an Opus Dei-run school.

Update: Notre Dame football coach calls conversion to Catholic faith ‘a personal decision’

University of Notre Dame Head Football Coach Marcus Freeman / Notre Dame Athletics

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 16, 2022 / 11:10 am (CNA).

Marcus Freeman, head coach of the University of Notre Dame’s football team, told members of the press Sept. 15 that he had tried to keep his recent conversion to the Catholic faith under wraps.

The news that he had become a Catholic was made public after his home parish, St. Pius X Catholic Church in Granger, Indiana, published an announcement welcoming Freeman into the Church in its parish bulletin.

In a Zoom meeting with reporters, Freeman said that his decision to join the Catholic Church was a “family decision” and a “personal decision” and said that he was confirmed in September.

“I tried to keep it as private as I could,” Freeman said.

“Obviously, when you’re head coach at Notre Dame, nothing is private,” he added with a smile.

“Welcome to our newest Catholic, Marcus Freeman,” read the announcement in the church’s Sept. 11 parish bulletin.

Freeman was “received into the Catholic Church after preparing with Father Nate Wills, C.S.C., chaplain of the Notre Dame football team,” the bulletin announced. It was accompanied by a photo of the 36-year-old football coach and four priests, including Father John Jenkins, C.S.C., the university’s president.

“Marcus made a profession of faith, was confirmed, and received his First Holy Communion. Please pray for Marcus and his family as they celebrate and continue this journey in faith!” the announcement said. According to sources, Freeman entered the Church at the end of August, before the start of the football season.

Freeman’s wife, Joanna, is Catholic, as are their six children, Vinny, Siena, Gino, Nico, Capri, and Rocco. 

In an interview with the National Catholic Register published Aug. 31, Freeman, who was a Christian before his entrance into the Catholic Church, said that he was grateful to be at Notre Dame because of the school’s emphasis on faith.

“That’s important for me. I want our guys to wonder about what it means to embrace Jesus Christ,” Freeman told the Register.

European Parliament condemns growing repression of Catholic Church in Nicaragua, calls for release of bishop

The European Parliament building in Brussels, Belgium. / Ala z via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).

CNA Newsroom, Sep 16, 2022 / 05:08 am (CNA).

The resolution, passed Sept. 15, criticized the arbitrary “arrest of Bishop Rolando Álvarez” and called “for his and others’ immediate and unconditional release.”

Vote to enshrine same-sex marriage delayed until after midterms

null / Kulniz/Shutterstock.

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 15, 2022 / 15:55 pm (CNA).

The Senate has delayed a highly-anticipated vote to enshrine same-sex marriage into law until after the midterm elections this November. 

The news was announced by lawmakers Thursday after weeks of bipartisan deliberations that left some Republicans with objections to the act’s potential religious liberty implications. 

The bill, titled the Respect for Marriage Act, follows the House version that was passed earlier in July. 

It is being led by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin). and Susan Collins (R-Maine), who are working across aisles to gain at least 10 GOP Senate votes needed to pass it. 

Baldwin told reporters Thursday she is “very confident” the bill will pass but said she needs “a little more time.” 

Some Republicans, including Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), have signaled a need to hammer out legislative protections for religious liberty.

“There are some very legitimate concerns about religious liberty, and those concerns would have to be properly addressed,” Johnson said in an interview last week.

Johnson called the act “unnecessary” but said he saw “no reason to oppose it” in a statement in July. 

A record number of 47 Republicans joined Democrats in passing the bill in the House in July.

The bill would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage in federal law as the union of a man and a woman and permitted states not to recognize same-sex marriages that were contracted in other states.

DOMA was already effectively nullified, however, when the Supreme Court recognized same-sex marriage rights in the 2013 and 2015 Supreme Court decisions United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges. 

Democrats have pushed the bill as necessary after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. In Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion in that decision, he suggested the court should reconsider all “substantive due process” cases, including the 2015 Obergefell decision that legalized same-sex marriage. 

Catholics in Kazakhstan: few in number but deep in faith

Participants at the outdoor Mass in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, on Sept. 14, 2022 / Rudolf Gehrig / CNA Deutsch

Washington D.C., Sep 15, 2022 / 12:33 pm (CNA).

Despite making up only 1% of the country’s population, Catholics in Kazakhstan are devoted to the Virgin Mary.

Our Lady of Sorrows: What are Mary’s seven sorrows?

Our Lady of Sorrows at the Basilica of Our Lady of Sorrows in Granada, Spain. / José Manuel Ferro Ríos via Wikimedia (CC BY 3.0)

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 15, 2022 / 06:00 am (CNA).

Catholics are invited to contemplate the seven sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary in a special way on Sept. 15, the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.

The first sorrow begins with the prophecy of Simeon, a devout man in Jerusalem who met Christ as a baby. During the encounter, Simeon foretells Mary’s suffering.

“Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed,” he tells her, according to Luke’s Gospel.

As with the first sorrow, Mary’s other sorrows regard her son: fleeing into Egypt to save the Christ Child’s life; losing the child Jesus in the Temple for three days; meeting Christ on his way to Calvary; standing at the foot of the cross; watching Christ’s body being taken down from the cross; and burying Christ’s body.

Reflecting on Our Lady of Sorrows in Slovakia last year, Pope Francis highlighted Mary’s response to these sorrows.

“Mary, Mother of Sorrows, remains at the foot of the cross. She simply stands there. She does not run away, or try to save herself, or find ways to alleviate her grief,” he said. “Here is the proof of true compassion: to remain standing beneath the cross. To stand there weeping, yet with the faith that knows that, in her son, God transfigures pain and suffering and triumphs over death.”

Through these sorrows, Our Blessed Mother also offers hope. She revealed seven promises to St. Bridget of Sweden in the 14th century for those who recite seven Hail Marys daily while reflecting on her tears and sorrows, according to Our Sorrowful Mother’s Ministry (OSMM) in Vandalia, Illinois. 

OSMM lists those seven promises from Mary as:

1. “I will grant peace to their families.”

2. “They will be enlightened about the divine mysteries.”

3. “I will console them in their pains and I will accompany them in their work.”

4. “I will give them as much as they ask for as long as it does not oppose the adorable will of my divine Son or the sanctification of their souls.”

5. “I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy and I will protect them at every instant of their lives.”

6. “I will visibly help them at the moment of their death, they will see the face of their Mother.”

7. “I have obtained from my divine Son, that those who propagate this devotion to my tears and dolors, will be taken directly from this earthly life to eternal happiness since all their sins will be forgiven and my Son and I will be their eternal consolation and joy.”

The faithful can also ask for the intercession of Our Lady of Sorrows through the seven sorrows rosary, or chaplet. OSMM provides general instructions on how to pray it: The prayer resembles a regular rosary, except that there are seven sets of seven Hail Marys. Each of the seven sets — consisting of an Our Father and seven Hail Marys — focuses on one of the seven sorrows.