Our Lady of Fatima Parish

Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

Pope Francis to Slovakian Jesuits: ‘Some people wanted me to die’ amid health problems

Pope Francis addresses an ecumenical meeting at the apostolic nunciature in Bratislava, Slovakia, Sept. 12, 2021. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Sep 21, 2021 / 05:20 am (CNA).

In a private meeting with Jesuits in Slovakia on Sept. 12, Pope Francis said that there were people who wanted him to die after he underwent colon surgery in July.

During the encounter, a Jesuit priest asked the pope how he was doing, to which he replied: “Still alive, even though some people wanted me to die.”

“I know there were even meetings between prelates who thought the pope’s condition was more serious than the official version. They were preparing for the conclave,” he added. “Patience! Thank God, I’m all right.”

Pope Francis answered questions from fellow Jesuits at a closed-door meeting in Slovakia’s capital city, Bratislava, during his Sept. 12-15 visit to the country.

The trip was his first since being hospitalized on July 4 for an operation to relieve severe stricture of the colon caused by diverticulitis. The three-hour surgery included a left hemicolectomy, the removal of one side of the colon.

After the operation, false rumors began to circulate on social media and in online posts that Pope Francis might soon resign, based in part on other unsubstantiated claims that the pope was possibly suffering from a “degenerative” and “chronic” disease.

The text of the pope’s private Sept. 12 meeting with Jesuits in Slovakia was published by the Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica on Sept. 21.

During the encounter, one priest spoke with Pope Francis about tension in the Catholic Church in Slovakia, saying that some people saw Francis as “heterodox,” while others “idealize you.”

“We Jesuits try to overcome this division,” he said, asking: “How do you deal with people who look at you with suspicion?”

Pope Francis noted that “there is, for example, a large Catholic television channel that has no hesitation in continually speaking ill of the pope.”

“I personally deserve attacks and insults because I am a sinner, but the Church does not deserve them. They are the work of the devil,” he said.

The pope added that there were also clerics who had made “nasty comments about me.”

“I sometimes lose patience, especially when they make judgments without entering into a real dialogue. I can’t do anything there. However, I go on without entering their world of ideas and fantasies. I don’t want to enter it and that’s why I prefer to preach, preach...” he said.

“Some people accuse me of not talking about holiness," he continued. “They say I always talk about social issues and that I’m a communist. Yet I wrote an entire apostolic exhortation on holiness, Gaudete et exsultate.”

The pope went on to address his recent restrictions on the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass, which were made in the July 16 motu proprio Traditionis custodes.

“Now I hope that with the decision to stop the automatism of the ancient rite we can return to the true intentions of Benedict XVI and John Paul II,” he said. “From now on, those who want to celebrate with the Vetus Ordo [Traditional Latin Mass] must ask permission from Rome as is done with biritualism.”

Biritualism is the temporary or permanent privilege of a priest to celebrate the liturgy and administer the sacraments in more than one rite, such as the Latin Rite and one of the Eastern rites.

Pope Francis described reports that some young priests had asked for permission to offer the Traditional Latin Mass from their bishop a month after ordination as “a phenomenon that indicates that we are going backward.”

In an earlier part of the meeting, Francis had lamented an “ideology of going backward,” which he said was not a universal problem in the Church, but affected some countries.

“The temptation to go backward. We are suffering this today in the Church,” he said.

Francis recounted an anecdote told to him by a cardinal about two of his newly ordained priests who asked for permission to study Latin to be able to celebrate the Mass well.

According to the pope, the cardinal responded “with a sense of humor,” telling the priests: “But there are many Hispanics in the diocese! Study Spanish to be able to preach. Then, when you have studied Spanish, come back to me and I’ll tell you how many Vietnamese there are in the diocese, and I’ll ask you to study Vietnamese. Then, when you have learned Vietnamese, I will give you permission to study Latin.”

The cardinal made the priests “‘land,’ he made them return to earth,” the pope commented.

“I go ahead, not because I want to start a revolution,” Pope Francis said. “I do what I feel I must do. It takes a lot of patience, prayer and a lot of charity.”

This report was updated at 5:45 a.m. MDT to include the pope’s comments on the Traditional Latin Mass.

Pope Francis to theologians: See ‘contemporary challenges in light of the Wisdom of the Cross’

Pope Francis adores the crucifix during the Good Friday liturgy at St. Peter's Basilica April 2, 2021. / Credit: Vatican Media

Vatican City, Sep 21, 2021 / 04:10 am (CNA).

Pope Francis urged theologians gathering in Rome on Tuesday to promote “a renewed understanding of contemporary challenges in light of the Wisdom of the Cross.”

In a message to participants in an international theological congress, the pope said he hoped that the meeting would contribute to the evangelization of the 21st-century world.

He said: “It is my hope that by promoting fruitful theological, cultural, and pastoral interactions, this initiative will contribute to a renewed understanding of contemporary challenges in light of the Wisdom of the Cross, in order to foster evangelization faithful to God’s design and attentive to humanity.”

The pope’s message, dated July 1 but released Sept. 21, was addressed to Fr. Joachim Rego, C.P., superior general of the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ (Passionists).

The congress, dedicated to “The Wisdom of the Cross in a Pluralistic World” and taking place at the Pontifical Lateran University on Sept. 21-24, is part of a Jubilee year marking the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Passionist order.

“Contemplating the Crucified One, we see every human dimension embraced by God’s mercy. His kenotic [self-emptying] and compassionate love touches, through the Cross, the four cardinal points and reaches the extremes of our human condition, joining in a mysterious way the vertical relationship with God and the horizontal relationship with humanity, in a fraternal union that the death of Jesus has definitively made universal,” the pope said.

“The immense saving power unleashed by the weakness of the Cross reveals to theology the importance of an approach that knows how to combine the loftiness of reason with the humility of the heart.”

“Before the Crucified One, theology is also invited to address the most fragile and concrete conditions of men and women and to set aside polemical methods and agendas, joyfully sharing the labor of study, and confidently seeking the precious seeds that the Word scatters amidst the jagged and sometimes contradictory plurality of cultures.”

He continued: “The Cross of the Lord, a source of salvation for people of every place and every time, is therefore vibrant and effective also and above all at a crossroads, such as the contemporary one, characterized by rapid and complex changes.”

The pope sent a message to the Passionists in November 2020 as they prepared to launch the Jubilee year celebrating the foundation of the order by St. Paul of the Cross in Italy in 1720.

The Jubilee year, whose theme is “Renewing our mission: gratitude prophecy, and hope,” began on Nov. 22, 2020, and will end on Jan. 1, 2022.

“Do not tire of accentuating your commitment to the needs of humanity,” the pope said in his message to the order, dated Oct. 15.

“This missionary calling is directed above all towards the crucified of our age -- the poor, the weak, the oppressed, and those discarded by many forms of injustice.”

Addressing participants in the four-day theological congress, the pope said that the gathering corresponded to the desire of St. Paul of the Cross “to ensure that the Paschal Mystery, the center of the Christian faith and the charism of the Passionist religious family, is proclaimed and disseminated in response to divine Charity, and that it addresses the expectations and hopes of the world.”

The religious freedom cases the Supreme Court could hear – and refuse – this fall

Religious sisters show their support for the Little Sisters of the Poor outside the Supreme Court, where oral arguments were heard on March 23, 2016 in the Zubik v. Burwell case against the HHS Mandate. / Catholic News Agency

Washington D.C., Sep 20, 2021 / 16:30 pm (CNA).

In addition to a major abortion case, the Supreme Court this fall will consider cases on vocal prayer at executions and state tuition assistance for religious schools, and could decide take up other religious freedom cases.

Although the court usually decides death penalty cases on the “emergency docket” - reserved for urgent petitions outside the formal appeals process - the court will hear arguments in the case of a Texas death row inmate this term on its “merits” docket. The court recently halted the execution of Texas death row inmate John Henry Ramirez in order to consider his case; Ramirez is requesting his pastor be allowed to lay hands on him and pray out loud as he is executed by the state.

Current policy of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice allows Ramirez’s pastor to be present with him in the execution chamber, but without physical contact or audible prayer as he is dying.

Prisoners ought to have the time-honored practice of clergy visitation and prayer at their time of execution, said Mark Rienzi, president of The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, on a call with reporters last week. Becket filed an amicus brief at the Supreme Court in support of Ramirez’s case.

At a “bare minimum,” Rienzi said, the state ought to let an inmate have prayer and comfort of clergy as he is being executed.

The Supreme Court will also hear arguments in Carson v. Makin, involving Maine’s policy barring public tuition assistance for religious schools.

For Maine students who do not have a local public school, the state provides tuition assistance for them to attend another school of their choice. They may not, however, use the assistance for attending a “sectarian” school. The case before the court involves a challenge to the state’s policy, pushing for the state assistance to be allowed for religious schools as well.

The Supreme Court justices have “repeatedly” come together in defense of religious freedom in such cases, Rienzi said.

Perhaps the most notable Supreme Court case this fall is Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, regarding Mississippi’s law restricting most abortions after 15 weeks. The court is considering the question of whether all state bans on pre-viability abortions are illegal.

Although Becket is not representing the plaintiffs or defendants in the case, it filed an amicus brief at the court explaining the impact of legal abortion on religious organizations.

When the court previously struck down state bans and regulations of abortion, those rulings “amped up the [abortion] controversy beyond what it may have been otherwise,” Rienzi argued, and supplanted the political process of settling differences on abortion at the state level.

As a result, numerous “proxy” fights have ensued in the courts, he said, with states or federal administrations forcing employers – including religious employers – to provide coverage of abortions or abortifacients in employee health plans. Becket is asking the court to consider the effects of its abortion rulings on religious groups who are facing such abortion mandates.

The Supreme Court’s upcoming fall term might be notable not only for the religious freedom cases on the docket, but also for the pending cases the court might accept or refuse in the coming days.

The Catholic dioceses of Albany and Ogdensburg, as well as other Catholic and Christian ministries, have appealed to the Supreme Court for relief from New York state’s 2017 abortion coverage mandate. The state had required employers to provide abortion coverage in health insurance for employees, but the plaintiffs argue that they “can’t in good conscience” buy an insurance policy for someone else covering the killing of a child, Rienzi said.

While the state crafted a religious exemption for some employers, “it’s an awfully stingy and, I think, illegally stingy” exemption, Rienzi said. Only religious employers which employ and serve members of the same creed could be eligible for an exemption.

“They drafted a religious exemption that Jesus Christ himself would fail,” Rienzi said. “It prefers a very, very narrow subset of religious groups.” The Supreme Court will decide later this month whether or not it will hear the case of Diocese of Albany v. Lacewell.

In another case, the California-based Dignity Catholic health system was sued for refusing to provide a sex-change operation. The court could soon decide whether it will take up the case this term, Rienzi said.

There are several other religious freedom cases where “cert petitions” have been filed, or requests for the court to take up a particular case.

In one case of Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, a high school football coach in Washington state was fired for silently taking a knee and praying after games. He has appealed his case to the Supreme Court for a second time.

In the case of Seattle Union Gospel Mission, a faith-based homeless ministry is arguing it should be able to hire only employees of faith; the ministry faces a lawsuit from a man claiming the mission refused to hire him upon hearing he was in a same-sex relationship.

After a years-long court battle, the Little Sisters of the Poor gained relief from a federal contraceptive mandate when the Supreme Court upheld the sisters’ religious exemption to the mandate in 2020. That case, however, could be reignited if the Biden administration acts to remove the sisters’ religious exemption to the mandate.

“The case that never ends,” Rienzi quipped of the Little Sisters’ case, which is currently on hold in California and Pennsylvania. The Biden administration has asked judges for more time to act, but has not revealed any actions it might take.

“I think it’s pretty clear that the Biden administration has no place to go,” Rienzi said.  The Obama administration – which first issued the mandate – “was never able to win this in court,” he said.

“The law has actually improved on religious liberty since then. I don’t think there’s actually a path for the Biden admin to revive the contraceptive mandate successfully,” he said.

Local artists add beauty to Los Angeles exhibit ‘250 Years of Mission’ to celebrate Jubilee Year

Lalo Garcia's painting of Saint Junípero Serra is featured in the '250 Years of Mission' exhibit. / Lalo Garcia.

Los Angeles, Calif., Sep 20, 2021 / 15:34 pm (CNA).

On September 11, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles began a Jubilee Year, Forward in Mission, to mark 250 years since the opening of the region’s first church, Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, founded in 1771 by Saint Junípero Serra. An exhibit titled 250 Years of Mission will be on display at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels through Sept. 10, 2022, to tell the story of the Catholic faith in the region.   

“The Church has left such an indelible mark on our culture here from street names, the city names, and everything in between, to our radical charity in the community,” said Father Parker Sandoval, Vice Chancellor for Ministerial Services for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. “We thought it was very important to put forward to everyone for free, in an accessible space, a display of beauty and an opportunity to learn the richness of our history.” 

Local artists Aurelio G. D. Mendoza, Lalo Garcia, and John Nava are featured in the exhibit, which spans four galleries inside the cathedral. The galleries include historical documents and artifacts; colonial art from Spain and Mexico; Native American religious art; and the contributions of Mendoza, Garcia, and Nava. 

“Historically, here in Southern California, the missions are extremely important, not only as a tourist attraction, but as the seed of Catholicism,” said Garcia, whose oil painting of Saint Junípero Serra is in the exhibit. “I hope that you get a feel of Southern California, who we are, the buildings that we have here in the Camino Real, feel proud of the heritage as Californianos, and see the good things that he [St. Junípero Serra] did.” 

Garcia’s painting, which was commissioned by Archbishop José Gomez in honor of the canonization of Saint Junípero Serra in 2015, measures 30-by-40-inches and has a halo made of 24-karat gold leaf. He hopes his works become an “instrument for historians, priests, seminarians, teachers, anybody who acquires the piece, so that they can actually talk about it,” he said.

“I spend a lot of time reading, meditating, and thinking about the piece that I am going to create,” said Garcia, who came to the United States from Mexico when he was 13 years old. “It gives me more responsibility to create this type of art when I have seen people praying in front of an image that I have painted. I want the piece to be worthy of the space it’s going to take.” 

Two large oil paintings by Aurelio G. D. Mendoza (1901-1996) are also included in the exhibit. The two pieces are part of a trilogy called El Camino Real, which aim to depict both conversion of the Indigenous people and the construction of missions in California. In the first piece, which measures six-feet tall by five-feet wide, Mendoza painted Saint Junípero Serra pointing ahead, “signaling the way to follow,” said his granddaughter Lucy Mendoza. 

Mendoza’s second painting in the exhibit, titled Mision San Diego de Alcala, is five feet tall by eight-and-a-half feet wide. It shows Saint Junípero Serra with Father Sanchez, the architect of the San Diego mission, among both the Indigenous people and the Spanish soldiers.

“He took great care in making sure the Indigenous were portrayed with such beauty and grace,” said Lucy Mendoza.

Both pieces were completed in approximately 1976, when Mendoza was 75 years old. 

“You want people to feel a sense of pride in the history of California—and I know there's been some pain, there's been some controversy—but I also feel that there's so much good also,” said Lucy Mendoza. “My abuelito always said that so much can be learned through art.” 

The scale of Mendoza’s pieces, Father Sandoval said, are in themselves impactful. 

“They’re huge, they literally fill walls, and the images just pop,” he said. “Then, knowing that these were painted by people who have a devotion to the saints they are depicting makes them particularly beautiful.”

John Nava, the third local artist included in the exhibit, wove the tapestry for the Mass of Canonization of Saint Junípero Serra in 2015 in Washington, D.C.. Nava’s tapestry is on display in the same chapel as the other artists’ works. 

“It's not simply that they're great artists, but fundamentally they're people of faith,” said Father Sandoval. “That really comes through in the artwork.”

In addition to the local artists, 250 Years of Mission includes religious objects and art from Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, which fell victim to arson in July 2020, as well as materials from the archdiocesan archives. 

The exhibit aims to be both educational and beautiful, said Father Sandoval. 

“We live in a time where we are bombarded by bad news and ugliness on the newsfeed, on the front page, and on the screen,” said Father Sandoval. “That’s why we thought it was really important to accent the beauty of our faith and the history of the church and our mission here.” 

The exhibit is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and Sundays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Since the galleries line the sides of the cathedral, the exhibit is open anytime the cathedral is open to the public. 

“We hope that people not only enjoy the beauty and learn the history, but, above all, feel inspired to build on the legacy of faith that started here 250 years ago,” said Father Sandoval. “This is a summons to revival, to renewal, to refocus on what matters most, which is putting people in contact with Jesus.” 

“We hope we can bring as many people—especially young people—as possible to visit and feel moved to move into mission,” he said. 

‘The most radical abortion bill of all time’: House to vote this week on codifying ‘right’ to abortion

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) / Michael Candelori/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Sep 20, 2021 / 14:49 pm (CNA).

The House this week will vote on a bill that the U.S. bishops’ conference warns would effectively impose abortion on-demand throughout pregnancy.

The Women’s Health Protection Act (H.R. 3755), introduced by Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), recognizes the “statutory right” of women to have abortions. It also states the “right” of doctors, certified nurse-midwives, nurse practitioners and doctor’s assistants to perform abortions. It prohibits many limitations on this right, such as state pro-life laws requiring ultrasounds or waiting periods before abortions.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a Catholic, announced the House vote on the bill earlier this month after a Texas law went into effect restricting abortions after detection of a fetal heartbeat; a fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks into pregnancy. The Texas law is enforced through private civil lawsuits.

After the Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the law on Sept. 1, Pelosi vowed to bring up the Women’s Health Protection Act and “enshrine into law reproductive health care for all women across America.” The bill is scheduled to be voted on this week in the House.

In an action alert, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) calls the legislation “the most radical abortion bill of all time.”

Archbishop Joseph Naumann – chair of the USCCB's pro-life committee – outlined how the bill would expand abortion, in a Sept. 15 letter to members of Congress.

“This deceptively-named, extreme bill would impose abortion on demand nationwide at any stage of pregnancy through federal statute,” Archbishop Naumann wrote. The legislation, he said, would also override state and local pro-life laws such as parental notification and informed consent requirements.

“It would force all Americans to support abortions here and abroad with their tax dollars,” he said, and “would also likely force health care providers and professionals to perform, assist in, and/or refer for abortion against their deeply-held beliefs, as well as force employers and insurers to cover or pay for abortion.”

The bill overrides prohibitions on abortion “pre-viability,” or before the age an unborn child is determined to be likely to survive outside the womb.

However, the bill also allows for late-term abortions when a physician’s “good-faith medical judgment” deems the mother’s life or health at risk from the pregnancy. This, the USCCB argues in a fact-sheet, is not a “meaningful limitation” on late-term abortion and would effectively allow abortions until birth.

The bill would also likely require health care workers to perform abortions, overriding possible conscience exemptions under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the conference argues. For states defending their pro-life laws in court, they would have to meet a form of “strict scrutiny” test – “a heavy burden of proof,” the conference said.

On Monday, the White House stated its support for the legislation.

“In the wake of Texas’ unprecedented attack, it has never been more important to codify this constitutional right and to strengthen health care access for all women, regardless of where they live,” the White House stated.

Former Republican congressman Keith Rothfus stated on Twitter that Pelosi “makes a big deal about being #Catholic. But this week she plans to bring the most pro-#abortion bill ever up for a vote.”

The White House statement comes after President Joe Biden promised a “whole-of-government” effort to maintain abortion in Texas, following implementation of the state’s “heartbeat” law.

On Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a “three-pronged” response to the Texas law, increased funding for emergency contraceptives and “family planning services” in the state.

This article was updated on Sept. 20 with new information.

San Marino to vote on abortion legalization Sept. 26

Guaita tower, San Marino / princeztl/Shutterstock

Denver Newsroom, Sep 20, 2021 / 13:15 pm (CNA).

The tiny European nation of San Marino, where abortion has been illegal for nearly a century and a half, is set to hold a referendum on the legalization of abortion later this month. 

The nation of about 35,000 people, which is estimated to be over 90% Catholic, will vote Sept. 26 on whether to allow abortions up to 12 weeks into pregnancy; the vote would also determine the legality of abortion after 12 weeks if there “are anomalies and malformations of the fetus that involve a serious risk for the physical or psychological health of the woman.” 

Over 3,000 signatures were collected in support of the referendum, more than double the legal requirement, the Guardian reported. Several attempts to change the country’s abortion law over the past 20 years have failed after vetoes from successive governments. 

The currently-ruling Christian Democratic Party has urged citizens to vote no on the legal change. 

Abortion has been illegal in San Marino since 1865. Italy, which geographically surrounds the microstate, legalized abortion in 1978. Other majority-Catholic countries, notably Ireland, have liberalized their abortion laws in recent years by referendum. 

“San Marino has no obligation to adopt the laws of its border nations and it doesn’t need to depend on the bad example of Italy,” said Dr. Adolfo Morganti of Comitato Uno di Noi (“One of Us Comittee”), a pro-life group which campaigned against the legalization of abortion in San Marino. 

Morganti warned that the referendum language could open San Marino to the possibility of “abortion tourism,” as it does not impose a citizenship or residency requirement.

He also questioned the need for abortion legalization, given the strong welfare system in the country that provides aid to pregnant women in need. San Marino also has an already low birthrate of about 1.2 children per woman, and legal abortion will likely add to the state’s population decline, he said. 

Comitato Uno di Noi has received criticism from abortion advocates for a campaign of posters in San Marino that depict a boy with Down syndrome, with the caption: “I am an anomaly, so do I have fewer rights than you? Vote no [on the referendum].”

In many countries with liberal abortion laws, such as Iceland and the Netherlands, abortion rates for babies diagnosed witth Down syndrome is over 90%. Morganti said the poster conveys “a very uncomfortable truth, which is that wherever abortion has been liberalized, the hunt for [people with Down syndrome] has started immediately.”

Father Gabriele Mangiarotti, a priest who serves at a church in the historic center of San Marino, told France24 that changing the country’s abortion law would be a betrayal of the country’s principles. San Marino "was founded by a saint and therefore has a Christian presence in its DNA,” he said. According to tradition, a Christian named Marinus in the fourth century established a Christian community which eventually became the city-state of San Marino.

"Killing an innocent child is a serious act, a crime," he said. 

Supreme Court sets argument date for challenge to Roe v. Wade

null / Addie Mena/CNA

Washington D.C., Sep 20, 2021 / 12:02 pm (CNA).

The Supreme Court announced Monday that it will hear arguments in a critical abortion case on Dec. 1.

In the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a challenge to Mississippi’s law restricting most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, the court will decide the question of whether all state abortion bans pre-viability are unconstitutional. “Viability” is the court’s legal standard from 1973, regarded as the point at which an unborn child can survive outside the womb.

The court on Monday announced the date of oral arguments in the Dobbs case, scheduled for Dec. 1. Both the state of Mississippi and the abortion clinic challenging the law will have an opportunity to present arguments in-person to justices both for and against the law.

The Dobbs case is considered to be the latest and perhaps the best opportunity for pro-life advocates to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. States, the court ruled in Roe, could not ban abortions pre-viability.

Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, the law in question, was signed into law in 2018 but is not currently in effect. Although it restricted most abortions after 15 weeks, it included exceptions for when the mother’s life or major bodily function is in danger, or in cases where the unborn child has a severe abnormality and is not expected to survive outside the womb at full term.

The law would be enforced by revocation of state medical licenses for doctors in violation, and a fine of up to $500 for falsification of medical records about the circumstances of an abortion.

One pro-life leader on Monday expressed support for Mississippi’s law.

“It is time to follow the science and modernize our laws,” stated Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List.

The Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence has hampered state efforts to regulate abortion, she said, arguing that it has “made the United States one of only seven countries in the world – including China and North Korea – that allow abortion on demand for any reason up to birth.”

Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Mississippi’s lone abortion clinic, submitted its legal brief to the Supreme Court last week arguing that the court should maintain its abortion jurisprudence in Roe, as well as the 1992 case that upheld Roe, Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The clinic is represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Although the case regards Mississippi’s abortion law, both the state and Jackson Women’s Health Organization focused their legal briefs on either overturning or upholding Roe and Casey.

The state of Mississippi asked the Court to overturn Roe, arguing that “the conclusion that abortion is a constitutional right has no basis in text, structure, history, or tradition.”

Meanwhile, the brief of Jackson Women’s Health claimed that Mississippi’s law was a violation of rights established in the Roe and Casey decisions. Because of the two abortion rulings, “two generations … have come to depend on the availability of legal abortion,” the clinic argued.

Furthermore, Mississippi’s standard of 15 weeks violates Roe’s standard of viability, the brief argued.

“Medical consensus and the undisputed facts in the case establish that viability occurs no earlier than 23-24 weeks of pregnancy, precisely the time identified thirty years ago in Casey,” the brief stated.

On Monday, Dannenfelser stated that “[s]cience reveals the undeniable humanity of the unborn child.”

“By 15 weeks, an unborn baby’s heart has beat nearly 16 million times. She already shows a preference for her right or left hand, responds to taste, and can feel pain. They and their mothers deserve protection in the law,” she said.

Jeanne Mancini, president of the group March for Life, said on Monday, "We look forward to when the Supreme Court will reconsider the status quo of abortion jurisprudence which currently allows abortions to take place through all nine months of pregnancy."

"States have the right to protect all of their citizens, including those developing in the womb," she said.

This article was updated on Sept. 20 with a statement from March for Life. 

Massachusetts bishop: Clergy can support individuals' own vaccine exemption requests

Bishop William Byrne of Springfield in Massachusetts / Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts

Springfield, Mass., Sep 20, 2021 / 11:28 am (CNA).

Bishop William Byrne of Springfield in Massachusetts said Tuesday that clerics in the diocese should support Catholics who themselves seek conscientious exemption from COVID-19 vaccine mandates by attesting to their baptism and practice of the faith.

“It is important for us to recognize and encourage the well-formed consciences of those who both desire the vaccine for themselves and the common good, as well as those who for health concerns or other reasons, may desire not to receive the vaccine,” Bishop Byrne wrote Sept. 14 to clerics of the Diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.

“In charity as priests and deacons, we should help to support the conscience rights of our Catholic faithful on this and all matters. We can do this by attesting to their Sacramental Baptism and the ‘practicing’ of their Catholic faith, as a separate letter or statement, to support their letter or request for religious exemption, but not to compose or sign a letter or form ourselves.”

The bishop wrote his letter to assist his clerics who are receiving requests from parishioners seeking “religious exemption” from mandatory vaccination for COVID-19.

He cited documents from the US bishops' conference, the National Catholic Bioethics Center, and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which indicate that the vaccines may be taken, but that their reception is not a moral obligation and must therefore be voluntary.

“Many organizations and institutions are beginning to require the vaccine, and so in understanding conscience rights objections, we as leaders of our congregations, may be asked to assist Catholics in our parishes to pursue an exemption,” Bishop Byrne wrote.

The bishop said that “on the basis of conscience, it is not possible for anyone to act or speak on behalf of another person seeking an exemption.”

“Such a conscience right’s request for exemption must come from the individual themselves by way of

their own letter or the completion of an organization's form applying for exemption,” he noted.

However, he directed his clerics to provide accompanying letters that support individuals' own requests for religious or conscientious exemption.

“I hope the clarification of these points on what we can do, and what is beyond our scope of responsibility, is helpful to you as these requests may arise among our good people in the future,” Bishop Byrne concluded.

In its December 2020 Note on the morality of using some anti-Covid-19 vaccines, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated that “vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation” and “therefore, it must be voluntary.”

It said that “in the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination.”

“Those who, however, for reasons of conscience, refuse vaccines produced with cell lines from aborted fetuses, must do their utmost to avoid, by other prophylactic means and appropriate behavior, becoming vehicles for the transmission of the infectious agent,” the congregation wrote.

Bishop Thomas Paprock of Springfield in Illinois recently wrote that “while the Church promotes vaccination as morally acceptable and urges cooperation with public health authorities in promoting the common good, there are matters of personal health and moral conscience involved in vaccines that must be respected. Therefore, vaccine participation must be voluntary and cannot be forced, as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, under the authority of Pope Francis, indicated last December. While we encourage vaccination, we cannot and will not force vaccination as a condition of employment or the freedom of the faithful to worship in our parishes.”

“The Catholic Church teaches that some persons may have conscientious objections to the taking of the COVID vaccines, and that these conscientious convictions ought to be respected,” Bishop Paprocki added.

The Catholic Medical Association has stated that it “opposes mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations as a condition of employment without conscience or religious exemptions.”

The National Catholic Bioethics Center, a think tank that provides guidance on human dignity in health care and medical research, also issued a July 2 statement opposing mandated vaccination with any of the three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the United States.

The bishops of South Dakota and Colorado have both issued statements supporting Catholics wishing to seek conscience exemptions. The Colorado Catholic Conference issued a template for Catholics and their pastors to send to employers for religious exemption based on conscience.

Portland’s Archbishop Alexander Sample and Spokane’s Bishop Thomas Daly have both stated that any Catholic seeking an exemption places the burden on the individual’s conscience rather than on Church approval, and thus priests of their dioceses are not allowed to vouch for the conscience of another person in seeking an exemption from a vaccine mandate.

The five bishops in Wisconsin in late August issued a statement encouraging vaccination against COVID-19, while maintaining that people ought not be forced to accept a COVID vaccine. The bishops added that, in the cases of Catholics conscientiously objecting to receiving a vaccine, clergy should not be intervening on their behalf.

Many bishops in California, as well as in Chicago and Philadelphia, have instructed clergy not to assist parishioners seeking religious exemptions from receiving COVID-19 vaccines, stating that there is no basis in Catholic moral teaching for rejecting vaccine mandates on religious grounds.

Bishop John Stowe of Lexington has required COVID-19 vaccines for all diocesan employees, and Blase Cardinal Cupich of Chicago is requiring all archdiocesan employees and clergy to receive a vaccine for COVID-19, and will only allow exemptions for medical reasons.

Vatican requires vaccine pass for visitors, employees

People use hand sanitizer before entering St. Peter's Basilica. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City, Sep 20, 2021 / 08:15 am (CNA).

The Vatican will require all visitors and personnel to show a COVID-19 pass proving they have been vaccinated, have recovered from the coronavirus, or have tested negative for the disease in order to enter the city state beginning Oct. 1.

To enter Vatican territory, tourists and other visitors, employees, and officials will be required to show a digital or paper Covid Certificate issued by the Vatican or another country, according to an ordinance published Sept. 20.

A Swiss Guard watches over an entrance to the Vatican. Daniel Ibanez/CNA.
A Swiss Guard watches over an entrance to the Vatican. Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

The president of Vatican City State, Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, issued the ordinance at the request of Pope Francis, who asked “to take all appropriate measures to prevent, control and combat the ongoing public health emergency in the Vatican City State.”

Under the new order, Catholics attending liturgical celebrations at the Vatican will be an exception to the vaccine rule. People will be allowed to access a liturgy “for the time strictly necessary for the conduct of the rite,” while also following distancing and masking rules.

Italy’s vaccine passport, called the “Green Pass,” requires proof of vaccination against COVID-19, proof of recovery from COVID-19 within the previous six months, or proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test.

Religious sisters outside the St. Anne's Gate entrance to the Vatican. Daniel Ibanez/CNA
Religious sisters outside the St. Anne's Gate entrance to the Vatican. Daniel Ibanez/CNA

On Sept. 17, the Italian government approved an expansion to the Green Pass, making it a requirement for all private and public workplaces beginning Oct. 15.

Employees who do not have the pass could be suspended without pay or be forced to pay a fine of up to roughly $1,800.

Since Aug. 1, Italy has required the vaccine pass to enter certain indoor venues, such as restaurants and museums, and in September the pass also became necessary for travel within the country. The vaccine pass was already required for certain workplaces, such as hospitals and schools.

The ordinance mandating COVID-19 vaccination for visitors and employees of Vatican City State was signed Sept. 18, the day after Italy’s government expanded its vaccination mandate to the public and private sectors.

Vatican gendarmes will be responsible for checking vaccine passes at entrances to Vatican territory, according to the ordinance.

The order says Pope Francis, in a Sept. 7 meeting with Vatican City President Bertello, “affirmed that it is necessary to ensure the health and wellness of the work Community in respect of the dignity, rights, and fundamental liberty of every member.”

Rules for entering St. Peter's Basilica include using a COVID-19 mask, keeping physical distance from others, and wearing appropriate clothing. Daniel Ibanez/CNA
Rules for entering St. Peter's Basilica include using a COVID-19 mask, keeping physical distance from others, and wearing appropriate clothing. Daniel Ibanez/CNA

From Oct. 1, it will be required to have the Green Pass to enter St. Peter’s Basilica as a tourist.

In Italy, many historic Catholic churches which charge tourists ticket fares to enter had already required the Green Pass.

Since August, proof of coronavirus vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test has been required for tourists who wish to visit the Duomo in Florence, St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, and many of Italy’s most famous Catholic cathedrals.

Among the hundreds of churches in Rome, only the Pantheon has required the Green Pass for tourists. And the Pantheon, which was transformed into the Basilica of Santa Maria ad Martyres in the 7th century, does not require the pass for entrance to its Masses.

Poland’s March for Life and the Family draws 5,000 people

A family participates in Poland's March for Life and the Family in Warsaw on Sept. 19, 2021. / Family News Service

Rome Newsroom, Sep 20, 2021 / 07:00 am (CNA).

Poland’s March for Life and the Family drew 5,000 people this year, according to the event’s organizers.

The annual march took place in Warsaw on Sunday, Sept. 19. Thousands of participants took to the streets in the Polish capital brandishing the country’s red and white flag and posters with pro-life slogans.

Family News Service
Family News Service

It was Poland’s first March for Life since a landmark decision on abortion by Poland’s constitutional court came into effect earlier this year.

The Constitutional Tribunal in Warsaw ruled on Oct. 22, 2020, that abortion for fetal abnormalities was unconstitutional. The ruling, which cannot be appealed, is expected to lead to a significant reduction in the number of abortions in the country.

Abortion remains legal in Poland in cases of rape or incest and in cases of risk to the mother’s life after the ruling.

Polish President Andrzej Duda met with the organizers of the march, who are affiliated with the Center for Life and the Family and the Christian Social Congress, on Sept. 19.

Duda welcomed the constitutional court's ruling last year saying that “abortion for so-called eugenic reasons should not be allowed in Poland.”

Family News Service
Family News Service

The March for Life and the Family, which usually takes place in 140 Polish cities, was limited to Warsaw this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The organizers of this year’s scaled-down march selected “fatherhood” as a key theme of the event.

“We want to send a signal not only to the whole of Poland, but also to the whole world that there are men in Poland who take responsibility, that they do not run away from it,” Pawel Ozdoba, one of the event’s organizers said at the opening of the March for Life and the Family.

Family News Service
Family News Service

Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, the president of the Polish bishops’ conference, expressed good wishes to the participants of the march in a social media post.

The archbishop invoked two recently beatified Polish Catholic figures as examples of supporting the right to life.

Blessed Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, the Primate of Poland who led the Church’s resistance to communism, and Blessed Elżbieta Róża Czacka, a blind nun who revolutionized care for the visually impaired, were beatified the weekend prior in Warsaw.

“May Blessed Cardinal Wyszynski and Blessed Mother Czacka support you in showing that everyone has the right to life, and the family is the most precious good of humanity,” Gądecki wrote on Twitter.

A Mass was offered at the conclusion of the March in Warsaw’s Church of the Holy Cross.

Family News Service
Family News Service

“The Primate of the Millennium was so often called the ‘Father of the Nation,’ hence the connection. We wanted to show that Polish fathers are responsible,” Ozdoba said.

“A responsible and strong father and a strong man are needed not only by the family, but also by the whole society,” he said.