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Los Angeles archbishop prays for victims of shooting at dance studio

Inez Arakaki and her son Zachary place flowers on a makeshift memorial site in front of the Star Dance Studio in Monterey Park, California, on Jan. 23, 2023, where 10 people were shot dead late on Jan. 21, 2023. California police searched on Jan. 23, 2023 for what compelled a 72-year-old man of Asian descent to shoot dead 10 people as they celebrated Lunar New Year at a dance hall in the Los Angeles suburbs. / Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

CNA Newsroom, Jan 23, 2023 / 11:30 am (CNA).

Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez on Sunday offered prayers for victims of a Saturday shooting at a Monterey Park, California, ballroom dance studio.

“We pray for those killed and injured in this shooting, we ask that God stay close to their families and loved ones,” the archbishop said in a statement released Sunday. “We pray for the wounded to be healed, and we ask that God give strength and guidance to the doctors and nurses who are caring for them.”

Ten people were killed and at least 10 more were wounded after a gunman opened fire late Saturday night at Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park. Twenty minutes after the shooting, the 72-year-old suspect entered another nearby dance studio but was disarmed by two community members, the Los Angeles Times reported. The suspect then fled in a white cargo van.

The shooting, one of the worst in Los Angeles County history, took place in the midst of a two-day Lunar New Year festival that attracted tens of thousands of participants to what is considered a core of the Southern California Chinese community, according to the Times.

On Sunday morning, police found the van seen leaving the area of the shooting and, when they approached it, heard a single gunshot. Authorities later determined that the suspect, Huu Can Tran from nearby Hemet, California, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Times said.

“We still are not clear on the motive,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said.

“We ask that God grant wisdom and prudence to law enforcement and public officials working to make sense of the violence and keep our communities safe,” Archbishop Gomez said in his statement.

“And we pray for peace. Peace in the hearts of those who are troubled. Peace in the hearts of those who are afraid and hurting today, and peace for those whose faith has been shaken.”

“We pray also for peace in our own hearts,” he continued. “We pray that we might feel God’s love and know that he will deliver us from every evil.”

The archbishop concluded by asking for the intercession of the Blessed Mother, “to be a mother to us in this hour of pain and uncertainty. May she help us to care for those who are suffering and to be healers and peacemakers in our world.”

Walk for Life West Coast and OneLife LA 2023 proclaim: ‘Life is good!’

An estimated 10,000 people turned out for the Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco on Jan. 21, 2023, the second-largest pro-life demonstration in the U.S. after the national March for Life in Washington, D.C., which marked its 50th anniversary a day earlier. / Credit: Francisco Valdez

San Francisco, Calif., Jan 23, 2023 / 07:45 am (CNA).

Thousands of people joined pro-life walks in San Francisco and Los Angeles on Saturday, advocating for the unborn in a state that now bills itself as an abortion “sanctuary” following last year’s historic reversal of Roe v. Wade.

“What so many of us dreamed of, prayed for, and worked hard for during the course of half a century came to pass: the overturning of this monstrous decision,” San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone said in his homily at a Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral prior to the city’s 19th annual Walk for Life West Coast. He was referring to the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 24, 2022, ruling in the Mississippi abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that freed states to regulate abortion as they see fit.

“While the now historic Dobbs decision is a great step forward in building a culture of life in our society, in another sense it adds new and even greater challenges, especially here in our own state of California, which promises to be a so-called ‘sanctuary state’ for abortion,” the archbishop said. “Surely there could be no greater oxymoron, for ‘sanctuary’ is about protecting human life and human rights, not taking them away!”

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone at the San Francisco walk for life on Jan. 21, 2023. Credit: Dennis Callahan
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone at the San Francisco walk for life on Jan. 21, 2023. Credit: Dennis Callahan

Tens of thousands of people turned out for the San Francisco walk, the second-largest pro-life demonstration in the U.S. after the national March for Life in Washington, D.C., which marked its 50th anniversary a day earlier.

In Los Angeles, more than 5,000 pro-life supporters attended the ninth annual OneLife LA event, which focuses on combating homelessness and human trafficking and raising awareness of mental health in addition to championing the right to life. Its theme this year was “Our Mission Is Love.”

Participants at the OneLifeLA event in Los Angeles on Jan. 21, 2023. Credit: Stefano Garzia
Participants at the OneLifeLA event in Los Angeles on Jan. 21, 2023. Credit: Stefano Garzia

“Together we are doing something beautiful to make a difference,” Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez said in his welcoming remarks to the participants Saturday.

“We are part of a great movement of human freedom and human dignity, the beautiful movement to build a culture of life and love. We all want to live in a society where human life is cherished and welcomed, where everyone can live with dignity, from conception to natural death,” he continued.

“This is a spiritual movement, a movement of the hearts and minds and souls,” Gomez said. “The movement for life is a movement for love.”

Walk for Life West Coast

The Walk for Life West Coast began with a Silent No More Awareness Campaign event in San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza about the adverse consequences of abortion. The speakers there included Shawn Carney of the pro-life campaign 40 Days for Life, who awarded a “4040” scholarship of $4,040 to a college student dedicated to the pro-life cause.

“I love attending the Walk for Life,” Carney told the National Catholic Register. “You meet some great people involved with the pro-life movement, and it’s always a family-friendly, peaceful, joyful event.”

The talks were followed by a 1.8-mile walk from the Civic Center Plaza down San Francisco’s famous Market Street and ending at Embarcadero Plaza. 

An estimated 10,000 people turned out for the San Francisco Walk for Life on Jan. 21, 2023, the second-largest pro-life demonstration in the U.S. after the national March for Life in Washington, D.C., which marked its 50th anniversary a day earlier. Credit: Francisco Valdez
An estimated 10,000 people turned out for the San Francisco Walk for Life on Jan. 21, 2023, the second-largest pro-life demonstration in the U.S. after the national March for Life in Washington, D.C., which marked its 50th anniversary a day earlier. Credit: Francisco Valdez

Among the walkers was Gonzalo Alvarado, the youth and young adult ministry coordinator for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, who led young people from three parishes.

Through Christ “we can overcome the fear of death, suffering, our storms in our lives, and our crosses,” Alvarado said. “The fear of having a baby can be overcome in Christ. Having an abortion is not the answer.”

Joseph Moore, headmaster of the new Chesterton Academy of Sacramento, led a group of faculty and students.

A group from Chesterton Academy of Sacramento participates in the West Coast Walk for Life on Jan. 21, 2023, in San Francisco. Credit: Joseph Moore/Chesterton Academy
A group from Chesterton Academy of Sacramento participates in the West Coast Walk for Life on Jan. 21, 2023, in San Francisco. Credit: Joseph Moore/Chesterton Academy

Asked what brings him to the walk each year, Moore responded: “The truth is, I don’t want to participate — but I think I have to!”

He continued: “The walk is necessary, as the truth — that all human life is sacred and that the murder of the unborn is unspeakably evil — is so fundamental that it sickens me that it needs to be made at all. Yet, every year, I’m glad I went, encouraged by the enthusiasm and love displayed by the walkers.”

Our task as parents, Alvarado said, “is to prepare our children to endure and outlast the culture of death and to rebuild our civilization. We need joyful, educated Catholics to resist the tide of nihilism and irrationality that has seized our world, and, as the Church has so often done in the past, rebuild from the ashes. The Walk for Life is where we say to the world: ‘We do not consent. We stand for life!’”

Cordileone specifically addressed young people in his homily for the Walk for Life Mass.

“My dear young people, you who are the pro-life generation: God is calling you to greatness!” he said.

“Greatness does not come from power or wealth, or from what St. Paul calls wisdom by human standards, that is, the dominant narrative of a dehumanized culture divorced from the vision of faith in the one, true God,” Cordileone continued.

Young people participate in the West Coast Walk for Life on Jan. 21, 2023, in San Francisco. Credit: Joseph Moore/Chesterton Academy
Young people participate in the West Coast Walk for Life on Jan. 21, 2023, in San Francisco. Credit: Joseph Moore/Chesterton Academy

“It comes from being foolish enough to be chosen by God to shame the wise of this world, that is, those who perpetrate the destructive myths of the culture of death; by being weak enough to shame the strong, having the spiritual strength to speak truth to power and endure the ridicule, insults, and rejection that will come with it.”

Another pre-walk Mass was celebrated by Bishop Michael Barber of the Diocese of Oakland at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland.

OneLife LA

OneLife LA began Saturday with a youth and young-adult kickoff and a greeting from Archbishop Gomez, who then led walkers from Olvera Street to Los Angeles State Historic Park.

OneLife LA began the West Coast Walk for Life on Jan. 21, 2023, with a youth and young-adult kickoff and a greeting from Archbishop Jose Gomez, who then led walkers from Olvera Street to Los Angeles State Historic Park. Credit: Stefano Garzia
OneLife LA began the West Coast Walk for Life on Jan. 21, 2023, with a youth and young-adult kickoff and a greeting from Archbishop Jose Gomez, who then led walkers from Olvera Street to Los Angeles State Historic Park. Credit: Stefano Garzia

The speakers at the park included Jess Echeverry, who shared a testimony of being a child of divorce and “dark times of physical and sexual violence, teenage pregnancy, years of homelessness, abortion, same-sex attraction, and two attempts at suicide.”

Echeverry told the Register that she participates in OneLife LA because she wants to “help ignite the Church into action to help accompany those in need and to have a seat at the table when the homeless person is being spoken about and decisions are being made in regards to their marginalized lives.” She also noted that her participation is “a memorial and act of reparation for the life of my aborted daughter Esperanza.”

Echeverry had an abortion while homeless at age 18, but repented of her decision after converting to Catholicism and attending a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat, during which she “claimed my motherhood of her life.”

She added: “In that action, I promised her that I would share her life with everyone I could and to recognize her wherever I had a chance. What better way than OneLife LA?”

In Los Angeles, more than 5,000 pro-life supporters attended the ninth annual OneLife LA event Jan. 21, 2023, which focuses on combating homelessness and human trafficking and raising awareness of mental health in addition to championing the right to life. Its theme this year was “Our Mission Is Love.” Credit: Stefano Garzia
In Los Angeles, more than 5,000 pro-life supporters attended the ninth annual OneLife LA event Jan. 21, 2023, which focuses on combating homelessness and human trafficking and raising awareness of mental health in addition to championing the right to life. Its theme this year was “Our Mission Is Love.” Credit: Stefano Garzia

Michael Donaldson, senior director of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Office of Life, Justice, and Peace, a key event organizer, told the Register that while this year’s event provided an opportunity to celebrate the demise of Roe v. Wade, California’s embrace of abortion since the Dobbs ruling represents another uphill battle for the pro-life movement.

Among other setbacks, on Nov. 8, 2022, California voters approved the state’s Proposition 1 ballot measure by a 2-to-1 margin, enshrining the “right” to an abortion in the state’s constitution.

“We don’t feel the effect of [Roe’s] overturning,” Donaldson said. “We’re still in the thick of defending life here. We have to figure out how to change the culture.”

Longtime March for Life attendees see their prayers answered in Roe’s downfall

Tom and Mindy Edwards from Sandusky, Ohio, attend the 50th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2023. / Katie Yoder/CNA

Washington D.C., Jan 22, 2023 / 10:40 am (CNA).

Kristi Hamrick remembers the day 50 years ago when Roe v. Wade became the law of the land.

One of her enduring memories is how her father, a minister, reacted to the news.

“I probably saw him cry two or three times in his life,” she said. “The day that Roe happened was one of them.”

Her father fought the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Jan. 22, 1973, from the start, and Hamrick followed in his footsteps.

As the chief media and policy strategist for Students for Life of America, a leading pro-life advocacy organization, she attended last week’s March for Life in Washington, D.C. And like other longtime marchers, she was reminded of those early years in the wake of the court’s landmark abortion ruling when many in the pro-life movement feared they might not live to see Roe overturned.

But this year — at the 50th annual march — that longed-for outcome was finally a reality.

Tom and Mindy Edwards, of Sandusky, Ohio, attended their first March for Life in 1976.

“They’ve all been great. There’s always been a tremendous amount of people. You can never tell how many there are,” Tom, 70, told CNA. “It’s just beautiful in that way.”

“It’s nice for us to see all the young people. It just gives us a lot of hope,” added Mindy, 68.

This year, the couple traveled on a packed bus with the respect life ministry of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Port Clinton. For them, they said, the life issue is a personal one.

“We lost a baby 33 years ago, and that brought me into the pro-life movement,” Mindy revealed. “My husband and his family has always been in the pro-life movement since even before Roe v. Wade. And they really inspired me.”

Later on, the couple adopted a daughter with special needs. And so, when Casey Gunning, who has Down syndrome, spoke at the 2023 march, Mindy said they were left teary-eyed.

As the movement moves forward, Tom encouraged pro-life Americans to talk about the reality of abortion.

“We have to say what it is,” he said. “It’s the killing of an unborn child … It’s the killing of a child.”

Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, attends the 50th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2023. Katie Yoder/CNA
Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, attends the 50th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2023. Katie Yoder/CNA

Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, revealed that she didn’t expect to see Roe overturned in her lifetime — that is, until she read the main brief and listened to the oral arguments for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Mississippi abortion case that ultimately reversed Roe.

She was sitting in her office in Washington when the news of the decision broke on June 24, 2022.

“I was overcome with peace and gratitude for all of the marchers who marched over the years because, I think, it was in large part the witness to the inherent dignity of the unborn child that Roe got overturned.”

Chuck Donovan, who serves on the board of the March for Life and is president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research arm of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, said he attended his first march in 1979.

Over the years, he said that the “personality of the movement changed.”

“Initially, the march was an opportunity to highlight the Supreme Court decision, to protest it,” he recalled, with the typical march having a more “funereal aspect to it,” reflecting the lives lost to abortion. 

In the last decade or so, he said, he noticed a change.

“It got increasingly young — that grew — it became celebratory and optimistic,” he said. “I didn’t know whether technically we were winning, but the march began to feel like we were.”

He shared one march memory — of the first president to wave at pro-life marchers. 

March for Life founder Nellie Gray repeatedly tried to convince President Ronald Reagan to speak at the march, he said. At the time, Donovan worked at the White House and stressed Reagan “would have loved to do that.” Reagan’s team, however, was worried about his safety after the assassination attempt in 1981.

But Gray was tenacious. She met with the president the morning of march and told him, “You’ve got to come today,” Donovan remembered. Reagan was reluctant, but Gray managed to persuade him to wave to the marchers from the White House’s Truman balcony.

Kristi Hamrick, who serves as the vice president of media and policy for Students for Life Action and as the chief media and policy strategist for Students for Life of America, attends the 50th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2023. Katie Yoder/CNA
Kristi Hamrick, who serves as the vice president of media and policy for Students for Life Action and as the chief media and policy strategist for Students for Life of America, attends the 50th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2023. Katie Yoder/CNA

Kristi Hamrick, for her part, did believe she’d live to witness Roe’s demise.

It was always clear to her that abortion wasn’t in the U.S. Constitution, she said, but she also believes the evolution of the pro-life movement was a critical factor.

“We have lawyers, we have doctors, we have people focusing on service for women. We have people who are post-abortive who tell their stories. We have people who survived rape and rejected abortion, we have people conceived in rape,” she said. “And we didn’t have that when Roe happened. We made that.”

When Roe was overturned, she said she was on a Zoom call with her team and FaceTiming with people at the court. “I’ll never forget it,” she said.

“This huge evil is no more, and now we pick up our cross and keep going to the next thing. And, yes, it’s the 50 states ... but I am so excited,” she said.

“The Supreme Court was a roadblock. And now we can go anywhere we want.”

Harvard scientist: The wonders of the universe point to a Creator

The Pillars of Creation, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. / NASA/Public Domain

St. Louis, Mo., Jan 21, 2023 / 10:00 am (CNA).

The wonders we see in the universe “should draw us out of ourselves,” an Ivy League scientist said last week, “looking out not just towards the wonders themselves and towards the truths they reveal, but also towards the source of all truths and the ultimate Creator of all things.”

Karin Öberg, professor of astronomy and director of undergraduate studies at Harvard University, said her work as a scientist has helped her to appreciate that we live in a universe that “has a beginning, a middle, and an end that’s unfolding over time.”

She also said that belief in God, far from being an impediment to scientific inquiry, actually can be helpful for scientists because of the “sure foundation” that belief in a Creator provides. Öberg herself is a convert from atheism.

“I think we should feel quite confident that having a true philosophy, and a true religion, should make it easier to make scientific discoveries, and not the opposite,” Öberg said in a Jan. 13 speech.

Karin Öberg delivers a keynote address at the Wonder Conference on Jan. 13, 2023. Credit: Word on Fire/Screenshot
Karin Öberg delivers a keynote address at the Wonder Conference on Jan. 13, 2023. Credit: Word on Fire/Screenshot

Öberg delivered the second keynote address Jan. 13 at the Wonder Conference, organized by the Catholic media apostolate Word on Fire, which took place in Grapevine, Texas, and attracted about 1,000 participants.

Öberg, a Swedish-born scientist who serves on the board of the international Society of Catholic Scientists, primarily studies the formation of stars and planets. The “empty” space between stars — what’s known as the “interstellar medium” — is not actually empty at all but contains vast quantities of gas and dust. Over millions of years, interstellar clouds can start to collapse in on themselves, and that is how stars form, Öberg said.

Many scientists today and in the past have been guided in their scientific inquiry by their faith, Öberg said. Father Georges Lemaître, who first proposed the theory known today as the Big Bang, helped to mainstream the idea of the universe having a beginning, and thus needing a Creator.

“I can’t help but wonder if … the reason that he had the idea, instead of some of the other brilliant scientists that he was surrounded by, had something to do with his Catholicism. I mean, he already knew, by faith, that the universe had a beginning in time,” Öberg said, referring to the Catholic belief in creation as narrated in the Book of Genesis.

“And I can’t help but wonder that that made it easier for him to accept this idea … [and] there’s a reason, I think, that many atheists were very concerned about The Big Bang theory as it was being presented.”

Öberg said despite a reverence for science and the scientific method among many of her colleagues, it is important to note that the scientific method has limitations.

“There are many questions about the universe that we can ask that are not scientific … things like: What do you learn from beautiful art? What makes art beautiful?” she continued.

There exists a common idea, she said, that “you can only know if something is true if you can demonstrate it scientifically.” In reality, there are many ways of arriving at truth, “science being one of them,” but not the sole method. There are some questions — such as those of morality — that are reserved to the religious and philosophical realms. And most scientists can intuit this, she said.

“If you talk to a scientist [and ask] why they have a particular idea or hypothesis, they often say things such as: ‘It was an inspiration.’ When, at the heart of it, [the scientific method] is supposed to be a hyper-rational process,” Öberg said. Instead, “You’re basically calling on the Holy Spirit,” she said, laughing.

The rationality and order that scientists observe in the universe — and which make scientific inquiry of all kinds possible — point to a Creator that is the source of all rational thought, she continued.

“The scientific project relies on there being order and intelligibility in the universe, which is not something that science can prove that there is. It’s something that it assumes there to be,” Öberg said.

Moreover, she said, “if all we are are sort of animals that are evolved to survive and procreate, there’s no reason that that should come with a reason that’s finely attuned to finding truth.” The fact that humans are rational and seek after a high power points to our souls being “patterned on God himself.”

The intelligibility of the universe, as scientists continue to uncover, “shows the incredible generosity of the Creator in sharing his causal powers with creation again in a way that I think would have been impossible to imagine in the pre-scientific world.”

The inaugural Wonder Conference, which took place at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, was billed as an “opportunity to engage with theologians and other experts on important issues at the intersection of the Catholic faith and secular culture.” The conference, which was funded in part by a grant from the Templeton Foundation, featured talks from both religious scholars and scientists, as well as from Bishop Robert Barron of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota, the founder and face of Word on Fire.

“A perceived incompatibility between faith and science has led to a rise in the number of religiously unaffiliated. This perception runs counter to the experience of the Catholic tradition, which conveys the beautiful harmony between faith and science,” the website for the conference says.

Now that the March for Life is over, here’s a snapshot of a shifting abortion landscape

null / Credit: Ivon19 / Wikipedia (public domain) (CC-BY-SA-4.0)

St. Louis, Mo., Jan 21, 2023 / 06:00 am (CNA).

This week, health officials in New York City said they plan to begin offering free, city-funded abortion pills at four sexual health clinics, delivering up to 10,000 abortion pills a year. 

The plan, drawing consternation from pro-life advocates, is a product of an increasingly polarized post-Roe v. Wade legislative climate at the local, state, and federal levels. New York state’s constitution explicitly protects abortion access and has done so since 2019; other states, such as Texas and Louisiana, have enacted strong pro-life protections, saving thousands of lives.

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer, removing a previously-held constitutional right to abortion that had been in place for nearly half a century. The decision did not in itself ban abortion, but rather shifted the question of abortion legalization to a multitude of battlefields across the country, at the state and local levels. 

Since the ruling, state lawmakers have gone in very different directions, with many Democratic-led states introducing measures to expand and protect abortion access, and pro-life measures facing uphill battles even in conservative states. 

At the same time, pro-life advocates are emphasizing the importance of continuing to pass pro-life legislation — not merely in the form of abortion restrictions, but also implementing policies that build a culture where abortion is unnecessary and unthinkable. On Friday, numerous speakers at the 50th annual March for Life urged those present to support pro-family policies. 

“It is our charge today, in this new era, to channel that same determination and hope and prayer that has led you to these streets for 50 years, and use it to make changes,” said Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, who helped fight the legal case that led to the overturning of Roe.

“Use it to support women and children; use it to support women when they are pregnant and when they are nurturing a young family; use it to make more affordable quality child care and make it more accessible, use it to support workplace flexibility; use it to improve child support to make fathers equally responsible for their children; use it to provide educational resources for women; use it to improve adoption and foster care systems that fail our children,” she said, to applause from the crowd. 

As the March for Life comes to an end, here’s a snapshot of how the fight over abortion policy is going in the states. 

Pro-abortion opposition at state level

Several attempts to pass pro-life measures last year faced major pro-abortion opposition and advertising spending, as Americans in five states voted on the issue of abortion during the 2022 midterm elections in November. Three states — California, Michigan, and Vermont — passed constitutional amendments specifically to advance abortion. Citizens in Kentucky weighed a pro-life amendment, and Montana voters considered a measure that promises to protect babies who are born alive after attempted abortions. Both measures failed. 

Prior to that, a pro-life amendment failed in Kansas in August amid massive pro-abortion opposition, mostly originating from outside the state.

Indiana is one of the few states that has passed a pro-life measure since Roe, a broad abortion ban that took effect in August 2022. But that law was subsequently challenged and blocked in court. Virginia is currently considering a 15-week ban, and a bill in Montana would explicitly state that the Montana Constitution’s right to individual privacy does not guarantee access to abortion or “government funding of abortion.” 

All told, nearly half of all states currently have laws on the books banning abortion entirely, with a few exceptions. Many of the bans are on hold due to legal challenges. 

States move to protect abortion

Other states are currently considering new pro-abortion measures.

In Maine, Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, has signaled support for a bill to allow late-term abortions at any time in pregnancy with a doctor’s approval. Currently, Maine’s laws restrict abortion after 24 weeks, and late-term abortions in the state are extremely rare. 

Bishop Robert Deeley of Portland, Maine, spoke on Jan. 18 of his “astonished mind and pained heart in the wake of the radical and extreme measure” under consideration. He quoted the words of Pope Francis when he said that abortion is evil and that at a basic level is “the termination of human life in the maternal womb, in the name of safeguarding other rights.”

“The perpetrators of this planned reality are not ‘serving as a light’ and inspiring ‘others around the country’ as they would have you believe. They are attempting to normalize a horrific stance that each life is not sacred or deserving of the basic human dignity given by God and nature,” the bishop said. 

“As this debate continues, I implore people of goodwill to speak to your local representatives in the state legislature and ask them to reconsider this unnecessary reform that will bring immeasurable pain to Maine and its people. Join me in advocating and praying that we will find a way for all in our state and society to embrace an ethic which values all human life from conception to natural death,” Deeley concluded. 

Minnesota lawmakers are currently considering H.F. 1/S.F. 1, a bill that, according to the state’s bishops, “attempts to create an unlimited abortion regime in Minnesota that is out of step with Minnesotans’ actual views and those of the rest of the world.” 

The bill — known as the Protect Reproductive Options Act — would codify into law a constitutional right to “reproductive freedom.” Abortion already is available in Minnesota throughout pregnancy for most reasons, but the Protect Reproductive Options Act would codify it. 

Separate bills under consideration in Minnesota would remove parental notification requirements for minors procuring abortions, as well as remove state protections for babies born alive after an abortion.

“We are disappointed to see the quick pace at which these destructive bills are moving, and we hope to give legislators pause. When contemplating policy on any issue, we must consider all those who will be affected. In this case, that includes the mother, father, and most especially, the unborn child whose life is being taken,” the bishops said in a Jan. 18 letter. 

“In a post-Dobbs world in which states that allow abortion have the responsibility to both regulate the practice and protect nascent human life, we should be working to find common ground on the challenges before us in Minnesota. We stand firm that every child should be welcomed in life and protected by law.”

The Catholic leaders offered suggestions for legislative priorities that they said would help to offer support to mothers in need, reducing the demand for abortion. 

“This support means, among other things, policies that fund: nutritional aid for expectant mothers; health care coverage during and after pregnancy for both mother and child; child care assistance; and adequate housing. Enacting reasonable paid family and caregiver leave laws would help people retain work and care for their newborns. Reconsidering whether our adoption policies are unreasonably burdened by excessive costs or barriers to participation is also an imperative,” the bishops continued. 

“We also contend that there is a social duty to remove unnecessary barriers to contracting marriage, having children, and being able to raise them well. By raising the family to the top of our state’s policy priorities, we can help restore the family to its proper position as the foundational building block of society where children best flourish.”

Deadlock on abortion bills; pills in the spotlight

And at the federal level, the U.S. House of Representatives passed two pro-life measures in early January that are not expected to make it past the currently Democratic-controlled Senate. Last year the House passed the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022, an expansive abortion bill that would declare abortion a human right, undercut existing state pro-life laws, and force objecting doctors to perform abortions. The legislation subsequently failed in the Senate. 

Federal policy regarding abortion drugs — a fast-growing abortion method, especially in states with bans on surgical abortion — has also been in the spotlight recently. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recently advised that the U.S. Postal Service can deliver these abortion drugs by mail. This comes after the FDA lifted restrictions on the distribution of mifepristone — one of the two drugs in the abortion pill regimen — in December 2021. The decision authorized doctors to prescribe the drugs online and mail the pills, allowing pregnant women to perform early abortions without leaving their homes. 

Connecticut pro-life pregnancy center drops lawsuit against state’s ‘deceptive advertising’ ban

null / sergign/Shutterstock.

Hartford, Conn., Jan 20, 2023 / 18:30 pm (CNA).

A pro-life pregnancy center in Connecticut has ended its legal challenge of a state statute that bans what it calls “deceptive advertising” by such centers.

A lawyer representing Care Net Pregnancy Resource Center of Southeastern Connecticut said his clients are satisfied that the state attorney general, William Tong, isn’t taking action against crisis pregnancy centers in the state.

“Connecticut Attorney General Tong revealed in the litigation that he is not aware of any women being deceived by pro-life pregnancy centers. Therefore, he currently has no basis to enforce this law. Our client, Care Net New London, will continue to focus their energy and resources on serving unborn children and their mothers,” said Mark Lippelman, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, in a written statement to the National Catholic Register through a spokesman.

Alliance Defending Freedom is a legal organization headquartered in Arizona that takes religious-liberty and free-speech cases.

“We are pleased this matter has been resolved,” said Elizabeth Benton, chief of communications and policy for the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office, by email.

Both sides signed onto a court filing known as a “Joint Stipulation of Dismissal” on Jan. 11. The case was dismissed the next day without prejudice, meaning a similar lawsuit could be filed in the future.

In May 2021, the state legislature passed a bill that prohibits “any statement concerning any pregnancy-related service or the provision of any pregnancy-related service that is deceptive, whether by statement or omission, and that a limited-services pregnancy center knows or reasonably should know to be deceptive.”

The bill calls a pro-life pregnancy resource center a “limited-services pregnancy center” because it doesn’t provide abortions or contraception or referrals for them.

The governor signed it into law later that month. It took effect July 1, 2021.

Supporters of the statute say it’s needed because, they say, some pregnancy centers lure unsuspecting women with problem pregnancies into their buildings and make an unexpected and unwelcome pitch to them not to get an abortion, which they note is a time-sensitive decision since it becomes more difficult to get an abortion the longer a pregnancy continues.

Opponents of the statute say crisis-pregnancy centers use standard marketing techniques to reach potential clients and offer products and services free of charge that pregnant women are free to accept or reject. They say the point of the statute is to provide a chilling effect on what amounts to competition for abortion facilities.

This story originally appeared in the National Catholic Register.

Biden commemorates abortion as pro-lifers march in Washington

U.S. President Joe Biden / Credit: White House - Public Domain

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jan 20, 2023 / 17:45 pm (CNA).

As tens of thousands of pro-life activists marched to the Supreme Court on Friday for the annual March for Life, President Joe Biden issued a pro-abortion proclamation to commemorate the anniversary of the now-obsolete Roe V. Wade decision.

“I call upon Americans to honor generations of advocates who have fought for reproductive freedom, to recognize the countless women whose lives and futures have been saved and shaped by the Roe v. Wade decision, and to march forward with purpose as we work together to restore the right to choose,” Biden said in his proclamation.

The president officially recognized Jan. 22 as the 50th anniversary of Roe V. Wade, saying the Supreme Court “got Roe right 50 years ago.”

The decision, which was handed down on Jan. 22, 1973, proclaimed abortion to be a constitutional right and barred states from enforcing most abortion restrictions. On June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court fully reversed that decision and ruled that the constitution does not protect a right to have an abortion, returning the issue of abortion to the states to regulate as they see fit.

In his announcement, Biden rebuked the “conservative majority” in the current Supreme Court that overturned that precedent. He said millions of women live in states that impose “extreme bans” on abortion where doctors can be jailed for performing abortions.

Biden lauded his consistent pro-abortion record as president: He signed executive orders to make it easier to get an abortion across state lines, to expand access to abortion-inducing pills, and to create a task force on a government-wide response to ensure access to abortion. The president has also urged Congress to codify the Roe V. Wade abortion language into federal law.

At odds with Church teaching

Although Biden is the nation’s second Catholic president, his pro-abortion position is directly at odds with Church teaching. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, life must be respected and protected from the moment of conception. Pope Francis and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have consistently supported pro-life legislation and Catholic pro-life activists are consistently a major part of the March for Life.

The USCCB celebrated the National Prayer Vigil for Life on the eve of the march to show its support for the marchers. According to the USCCB, the Vatican provided a statement, which stated Pope Francis’ full support for the march and his gratefulness to those who defend the right to life for the preborn.

“The building of a truly just society rests upon respect for the sacred dignity of every person and the welcome given to each one as a brother or sister,” Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin wrote to the USCCB.

“In this regard, His Holiness [Pope Francis] trusts that Almighty God will strengthen the commitment of all, especially the young, to persevere in their efforts aimed at protecting human life in all its stages, especially through adequate legal measures enacted at every level of society,” Parolin continued. “To those taking part in the March for Life, and to all who support them by their prayers and sacrifices, the Holy Father gladly imparts his blessing as a pledge of strength and joy in the Lord.”

8 awesome signs from the March for Life

A young pro-life marcher carries a sign reading, “Save the baby humans,” at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2023. / Katie Yoder/CNA

Washington D.C., Jan 20, 2023 / 16:25 pm (CNA).

Tens of thousands of Americans attended the 50th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Friday to challenge abortion and celebrate the beauty of life, beginning at conception.

The largest annual pro-life event in the country happens on or around the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, the recently-overturned 1973 Supreme Court ruling that previously legalized abortion nationwide. 

Here are eight of the most effective signs that CNA saw at the march:

Daniel and Michelle Jacobeen from Alexandria, Virginia, attend the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2023, with their children. Their pro-life sign reads: “Our babies birth moms chose life.” Katie Yoder/CNA
Daniel and Michelle Jacobeen from Alexandria, Virginia, attend the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2023, with their children. Their pro-life sign reads: “Our babies birth moms chose life.” Katie Yoder/CNA
Cameron and Genevieve Mercier from Thompsontown, Pennsylvania, attend the March for Life in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2023. Their sign reads: “We will adopt your baby. Please don’t choose abortion.” Katie Yoder/CNA
Cameron and Genevieve Mercier from Thompsontown, Pennsylvania, attend the March for Life in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2023. Their sign reads: “We will adopt your baby. Please don’t choose abortion.” Katie Yoder/CNA
Mothers from rape and children who were conceived in rape with the group Save the 1, led by Rebecca Kiessling, share that “I love my life” and “I love my child” at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2023. Katie Yoder/CNA
Mothers from rape and children who were conceived in rape with the group Save the 1, led by Rebecca Kiessling, share that “I love my life” and “I love my child” at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2023. Katie Yoder/CNA
A young pro-life marcher carries a sign reading, “Save the baby humans,” at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2023. Katie Yoder/CNA
A young pro-life marcher carries a sign reading, “Save the baby humans,” at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2023. Katie Yoder/CNA
Young pro-life marchers carry Baby Yoda signs at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2023. Katie Yoder/CNA
Young pro-life marchers carry Baby Yoda signs at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2023. Katie Yoder/CNA
Young pro-life marchers carry Baby Yoda signs at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2023. Katie Yoder/CNA
Young pro-life marchers carry Baby Yoda signs at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2023. Katie Yoder/CNA
Pro-life marchers carry a banner reading “Every baby is somebody’s grandchild” at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2023. Katie Yoder/CNA
Pro-life marchers carry a banner reading “Every baby is somebody’s grandchild” at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2023. Katie Yoder/CNA
Connie Eller with MissouriBlacksforLife.org, Brenda Green, Vita Jackson, and Lily Johnson came from St. Louis, Missouri, and Illinois to be in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2023. They carried signs marking the first March for Life since the overturning of Roe: “I am the post-Roe generation.” Katie Yoder/CNA
Connie Eller with MissouriBlacksforLife.org, Brenda Green, Vita Jackson, and Lily Johnson came from St. Louis, Missouri, and Illinois to be in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2023. They carried signs marking the first March for Life since the overturning of Roe: “I am the post-Roe generation.” Katie Yoder/CNA

Alleged abuse victim files lawsuit against ex-priest, Denver Archdiocese

Photo illustration. / Shutterstock

Denver, Colo., Jan 20, 2023 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

A fifth alleged sexual abuse victim of a former Catholic priest convicted for crimes against minors has filed a lawsuit against his alleged abuser and the Archdiocese of Denver.

Scott Verti, 38, told the Fort Collins-based newspaper The Coloradoan he sees the lawsuit as “an opportunity for me to right a regret that I had over the last however many years as an adult, wishing I had come forward.”

Verti alleges that from 1999 to 2003 then Father Tim Evans abused him more than 100 times when he was an altar boy and sacristan at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Fort Collins, Colorado. The lawsuit, filed Jan. 19, alleges physical and sexual abuse at the church and at Evans’ apartment beginning when Verti was age 13 and ending when he was 18.

The alleged abuse resulted in post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction, and other problems, Verti said at a Thursday news conference, The Coloradoan reported.

“I had no ability to trust anybody,” he said. “That abuse ... corrupted my entire adult life.”

Verti seeks over $100,000 in damages. A law that took effect in January 2021 allows a three-year window for victims to file civil lawsuits against their alleged abusers for incidents as far back as 1960.

The archdiocese responded to the lawsuit in a Thursday statement, saying: “The Archdiocese of Denver cares about all survivors of sexual abuse and is fully committed to protecting the most vulnerable members of our community — children, youth, and at-risk adults.”

The archdiocese does not comment on pending litigation, Kelly Clark, director of public relations and communications, told CNA Jan. 20.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, Evans served as parochial vicar at Spirit of Christ Catholic Community in Arvada and pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Lakewood, both in the west Denver suburbs, before he was named pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish.

Evans faced a criminal investigation in 2005, in which three teen victims were identified. A fourth victim was identified in a 2019 report from the Colorado attorney general’s office, Verti’s attorney Kurt Zaner said Thursday. Evans’ first victim reported his abuse to the Denver Archdiocese in March 2003, and the archdiocese reported the allegation to police immediately and revoked his pastoral faculties.

Verti had been contacted by police during the 2005 investigation but was not ready to speak up, he told The Coloradoan.

In 2007 Evans was sentenced to 14 years to life in prison for sexually assaulting a teen at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church. He also was convicted of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust for a separate incident in Jefferson County, on the west side of the Denver metro area. He was laicized in May 2013.

In 2020, Evans was granted parole. News of his release prompted Verti to come forward, Verti said.

In October 2019 the Colorado attorney general’s office released a report based on the archives and personnel files of Colorado’s three dioceses dating back to 1950. It especially faulted dioceses’ responses to sexual abuse allegations before the early 1990s.

According to the report, Evans was accused of sexual harassment beginning in seminary. Though there was no explicit allegation of sexual misconduct with children, the report said, the archdiocese knew about and failed to investigate “serious and recurring personal relationship, boundary, and sexual issues that indicated he may engage in sexual misconduct with children.”

“The archdiocese has [had] a chance at every single step of this guy’s path to stop him,” said Zaner, one of Verti’s attorneys.

The report found that, since 1950, 43 diocesan priests have been credibly accused of sexually abusing at least 166 children in the state. Nearly 70% of victims were abused in the 1960s and 1970s. As of the report’s publication, the most recent acts of documented alleged clerical sexual abuse took place in 1998. It did find two alleged recent incidents of “grooming.”

Though the report acknowledged Catholic dioceses had improved their responses to abuse allegations, it offered several recommendations.

In his response to the report, Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver apologized to abuse victims and promised “to continue doing everything I can so it never happens again.” He stressed the need for continued vigilance against abuse in the Church and elsewhere in society.

Tony Dungy to pro-life march: God used a football game to show power of prayer

Tony Dungy speaks at the March for Life on Jan. 20, 2023. / EWTN YouTube

Washington D.C., Jan 20, 2023 / 15:25 pm (CNA).

Former head coach and NFL analyst Tony Dungy told a crowd gathered at Friday’s March for Life that the answer to the tragedy of abortion is prayer, calling to mind Damar Hamlin’s collapse on the football field and what happens when a nation turns to God.

“It’s amazing to me that God actually used football to shine some light on the subject of life for all of us,” Dungy said.

Buffalo Bills safety Hamlin collapsed on the field during a Jan. 2 Monday Night Football game after a routine hit. He then suffered cardiac arrest as players stood by in horror.

“It could have been tragic, but something miraculous happened. The team medical staff rushed out and they got Damar’s heart started again. But you know what? That wasn’t a miracle. The real miracle was the reaction.”

“The announcers on the broadcast, what did they say? ‘All we can do is pray,’” Dungy said.

“And all across the country, people started praying,” he said.

The former football coach, who has faced some backlash on social media for his involvement with the March for Life, told the crowd that the country’s prayerful reaction to Hamlin’s collapse was striking in that the NFL has actively prevented praying on the field in the past.

“The Bills players prayed right on the spot. Now usually when that happens, the cameras cut away from them. Because we don’t like to see that,” Dungy said.

“Back when I was coaching in the 1990s, a few Christian players got together and they said we want to pray after the games. And we actually got a memo from the NFL office that said, ‘Don’t let your players do that. If you do, you’ll be fined. Because that’s not appropriate.’ Can you believe that? That’s a true story,” Dungy said.

“But three weeks ago, everybody on that field was praying. And they continued the next week at every stadium and the NFL teams got together and prayed and it was amazing. Well, those prayers were answered with Damar’s recovery. Now he’s home. He’s been released from the hospital,” he said.

Dungy, who spoke at the March for Life with his wife, Lauren, told the crowd that the nation needs to pray for the unborn in the same way they prayed for Damar Hamlin.

“Every day in this country, innocent lives are at stake. The only difference is they don’t belong to a famous athlete. And they’re not seen on national TV. But those lives are still important to God and in God’s eyes,” Dungy said.

“Psalm 139 tells us that God is watching every one of these young bodies as they’re growing in their mother’s womb, because he placed them there. Now we know that there are a lot of people in this country that don’t believe, that don’t see these babies as being important. They don’t even see them as lives,” he continued.

Dungy urged the crowd to pray for the unborn.

“I think we have to take a lesson from Damar’s story. We have to pray. We need to pray with the same fervor that we prayed with during that week. Because God answers prayer and he will answer these prayers to save these precious unborn lives as we go forward. So if we do our part, we will save more and more of these lives,“ Dungy said.

This was Dungy’s first appearance at the March for Life. After posting on social media that he was excited to take part, he received more than 28,000 likes on his post. He also received some backlash from proponents of abortion.

Commentator Keith Olbermann wrote: “Dear @nbcsports - if you have any remaining concern for your operational reputation, fire Tony Dungy now. He is using you.”

Many more tweeted their appreciation and respect for Dungy. 

“I’m happy you’re not afraid to do this with cancel culture and all. Your media job could be in jeopardy. Stick to your convictions,” read one post from a supporter.

“Thank you both! ‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.’ Proverbs 31:8 #ProLife #lifematters,” wrote another.