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Groups ramp up election spending on anniversary of overturning of Roe v. Wade

null / Credit: Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 24, 2024 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

With Monday marking the second anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, several leading pro-abortion groups have announced plans to collectively spend over $100 million on efforts to advance “abortion rights” across America.

Meanwhile, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America (SBA), one of the nation’s top pro-life groups, plans to spend $92 million this election year. 

Pro-abortion coalition to spend $100 million

A coalition of nine pro-abortion groups calling itself “Abortion Access Now” announced on Monday a campaign to spend $100 million for pro-abortion efforts over the next decade.

The $100 million will be used over the next 10 years on lobbying efforts, grassroots organizing, public education, and communications campaigns to establish a federal right to abortion and to “expand abortion access and coverage,” the group said in a statement Monday.

“We envision a future where abortion … is not only legal but also accessible, affordable, and free from stigma or fear,” the campaign said in a June 24 statement.

Regina Moss, president and CEO of one of the coalition’s member groups, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, said that two years without Roe v. Wade has exposed “the fact that Roe has never been enough to secure full reproductive autonomy for our communities.”

“We are determined,” she went on, “to continue highlighting the importance of making our voices heard at the polls in a post-Roe world and advocating for policies that go beyond Roe to ensure that we can all make our own decisions about if, when, and how to grow our families in safe, healthy environments.”

In addition to these groups, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) marked the second anniversary of Roe’s overturning by releasing a slew of ads targeting Republicans for their pro-life positions.

Focus on 2024 elections

In the short term, Planned Parenthood Votes, the political arm of the world’s largest abortion organization, announced it would be devoting $40 million to digital, TV, mail, and phone advertising in favor of abortion ballot initiatives and pro-abortion candidates up and down the ballot this election year.

The abortion giant will be targeting eight states: Arizona, Georgia, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

According to a statement from Planned Parenthood Votes, local affiliated organizations will also be devoting resources to running “robust electoral campaigns” in California, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio.

In the statement, Planned Parenthood Votes executive director Jenny Lawson said that “for politicians like Donald Trump who oppose abortion … the end goal has always been full control of our bodies and our medical decisions.”

Lawson said that Planned Parenthood “is fighting for a future with full reproductive freedom for all — no matter who you are, where you live, and how much money you make.”

“With abortion banned or restricted in 21 states and escalating attacks on birth control and IVF access, all the freedoms we’ve fought for are on the line this year,” she added.  

Planned Parenthood’s $40 million adds to the more than $25 million that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) vowed in June to spend on state and national pro-abortion efforts this election cycle.

ACLU’s efforts will include digital and mail ads, paid media, and support for abortion ballot measures.

According to a June 5 statement, the ACLU will concentrate its campaign on 14 states: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

What is the pro-life movement doing?

Kelsey Pritchard, director of state public affairs at SBA, told CNA that her group is dedicating $92 million to voter contact election efforts this year.

SBA’s election efforts will use similar methods as those of Planned Parenthood and the ACLU but with the aim of “stop[ping] Joe Biden and the Democrats from banning states from having pro-life laws and mandating all-trimester abortion in every state across the country.”

This is the largest voter contact initiative in SBA’s history. Pritchard said the campaign will reach 10 million voters, focusing on eight key battleground states that she believes “will determine the outcome of the 2024 election.”

These states are Arizona, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Montana, and Georgia.

Since Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022, the pro-life movement has suffered several crushing defeats with sweeping abortion constitutional amendments passing in states like Ohio, Michigan, and California.

Pritchard, however, believes the problem primarily stems from messaging and inadequate spending rather than from voters’ not supporting the pro-life position.

“Pro-abortion activists’ No. 1 tactic is to spread misinformation on pregnant women’s ability to receive emergency care under pro-life laws because they know they will lose if they campaign on enshrining late-term abortion,” she said, adding that “the abortion industry can afford to pour millions into these races because they will see a [return on investment] when they can increase their profits at the expense of babies’ lives.”

Pritchard called on Republican leaders to be more vocal about challenging what she called “Big Abortion’s narrative” and to “inform voters how these amendments enshrine late-term abortion, jeopardize women’s health, and end parental rights.” 

Pope Francis meets with Opus Dei prelate Monsignor Fernando Ocáriz

Pope Francis meets with the prelate of Opus Dei, Monsignor Fernando Ocáriz, at the Vatican on June 24, 2024. / Credit: Vatican Media

ACI Prensa Staff, Jun 24, 2024 / 17:30 pm (CNA).

The press office of the Holy See reported that Pope Francis received on Monday the “moderator general” of Opus Dei, Monsignor Fernando de Ocáriz, accompanied by Monsignor Mariano Fazio, auxiliary vicar of the prelature.

The name “moderator general” has been used since the last motu proprio of Pope Francis regarding Opus Dei and is used interchangeably with the traditional name of prelate, as explained to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish- language news partner, by Clara Fontan of the communications office of Opus Dei in Rome.

The prelature reported on its website that “during the audience, the prelate informed the pope about the work being carried out with the Dicastery for the Clergy for the adaptation of the statutes, underlining the family atmosphere and open dialogue with which these tasks are being carried out. The pope encouraged them to continue working with this attitude of dialogue and cooperation.”

The prelature said that Ocáriz also explained to Pope Francis “some aspects of the preparation for the centennial of Opus Dei” to be celebrated in 2028. In particular, he referred to the “regional assemblies” taking place throughout this year with the participation of “all the members of Opus Dei together with many friends and cooperators.”

Ocáriz also conveyed to Pope Francis details about the trip he will soon make to South America.

“The pope encouraged him to be very close to the people, especially in countries where there is more suffering, or where the work of evangelization is more difficult,” and recalled the self-sacrificing work being done by various members of Opus Dei in those countries, the prelature indicated.

“The audience, which lasted about half an hour, took place in an atmosphere of warmth and affection on the part of the Holy Father, who gave the prelate and the auxiliary vicar his affectionate blessing,” the prelature concluded.

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

Catholic authorities in Spain excommunicate, expel renegade nuns

The decision was announced by Mario Iceta, archbishop of Burgos. / Credit: Archdiocese of Burgos, Spain

ACI Prensa Staff, Jun 24, 2024 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

The Catholic Church in Spain has decreed the excommunication and expulsion from consecrated life of the Poor Clare nuns of Belorado for committing the crime of schism.

Canon 751 of the Code of Canon Law states that schism is “the refusal of submission to the supreme pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.” The penalty for this crime is excommunication.

In a June 22 press release, the Archdiocese of Burgos “has communicated the decree of declaration of excommunication and declaration of ‘ipso facto’ [immediate] expulsion from consecrated life of each and every one of the 10 sisters who have incurred schism.”

The decision was announced by Mario Iceta, the archbishop of Burgos, who is also the pontifical commissioner and legal representative of the monasteries of Belorado, Orduña, and Derio in Spain.

The statement also points out that these “are the same sisters who have presented their free and personal decision to leave the Catholic Church. Given this decision, it is necessary to remember that the declaration of excommunication is a legal action considered by the Church as a medicinal measure, which prompts reflection and personal conversion.”

“The Church always shows her profound compassion and, as a mother, is ready to welcome her children who, like the prodigal son, trust in God’s mercy and begin the journey back to the Father’s house,” the statement explained. 

In addition, the Archdiocese of Burgos indicated that “there continues to be a monastic community made up of the sisters who have not incurred excommunication, as they have not supported the schism: They are the five older sisters and three other sisters who, although at this time are not at the monastery, they belong to the community by being incardinated in it.”

Finally, the archdiocesan statement noted that “the older sisters continue to be a priority in our concerns. The Federation of Poor Clares of Our Lady of Aránzazu has planned a way to immediately care for these sisters in the Belorado Monastery itself, moving some sisters from other monasteries of the federation to live in the monastery.”

The Poor Clares decision

On May 13, the community of Poor Clare sisters of the monasteries of Belorado and Orduña, located respectively in the Archdiocese of Burgos and the Diocese of Vitoria in Spain, made public a manifesto and a letter in which they announced that they were leaving the Catholic Church and placed themselves under the tutelage of the excommunicated false bishop Pablo de Rojas. The nuns claimed they were leaving “the Conciliar Church [i.e., post-Vatican II] to which it belonged to become part of the Catholic Church.” 

At the end of May, the Vatican appointed Iceta as pontifical commissioner with full powers. When he began to take measures, the nuns filed a complaint with the National Police, alleging “abuse of power” by Iceta.

At the beginning of June, the Archdiocese of Burgos formally informed the nuns that they had to appear before the ecclesiastical court of Burgos to answer for the crime of schism defined in Canon 751 of the Code of Canon Law, punishable by the penalty of excommunication. The deadline expired on Friday, June 21, with the nuns failing to appear.

What is excommunication?

Briefly, excommunication can be defined as the most serious penalty a baptized person can incur, which consists of being placed outside the communion of the faithful of the Catholic Church and denied access to the sacraments.

Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, major penitentiary emeritus of the Church, once explained that the purpose of excommunication is to bring “the guilty to repentance and conversion.”

“With the penalty of excommunication the Church is not trying in some way to restrict the extent of mercy but is simply making evident the seriousness of the crime,” he noted.

Why is a person excommunicated?

Excommunication is not only a punishment and goes beyond restricting access to holy Communion.

According to Canon 1339 § 2, along with excommunication “in the case of behavior which gives rise to scandal or serious disturbance of public order, the ordinary can also correct the person, in a way appropriate to the particular conditions of the person and of what has been done.”

What happens next?

Since the nuns have declared themselves no longer members of the Catholic Church, by remaining in the monastery they find themselves occupying the property of the Church to which they do not belong and have no legal right to stay there.

The archbishop has told them that they need to vacate the premises as a consequence of their actions but is taking a patient approach, hoping they will do so of their own accord by early July without having to be forcibly evicted. 

The archbishop pointed out that although the nuns do not recognize his jurisdiction nor that canon law applies to them in this case, as established in Article 1.4 of the accord between Spain and the Holy See, Spain’s civil law recognizes the Church’s Code of Canon Law as governing in these matters such that “civil law abides by what canon law says in ecclesiastical entities,” just as the Spanish state recognizes the validity of a marriage officiated by a Catholic priest.

Regarding the false bishop Rojas and the false priest Ceacero, Iceta explained that “it’s been almost four weeks since they were told that they should not be in the monastery and in a steadfast and contumacious way they persist in being there,” so the legal authorities will act against them, probably more quickly than with the excommunicated women.

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

Texas investigates Children’s Hospital over alleged secret sex changes on minors

Texas Children's Hospital. / Credit: Zereshk|Wikipedia|CC BY-SA 3.0

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 24, 2024 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has launched an investigation into allegations that illegal sex-change procedures are being performed on minors at Texas Children’s Hospital. 

The probe follows news reports based on documents a whistleblower shared with City Journal. The outlet reported that Texas Children’s doctor Eithan Haim shared information showing that the hospital system had “secretly continued to perform transgender medical interventions … on minor children” despite it being illegal in Texas. 

Haim has since been indicted for allegedly breaking federal law by violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) while obtaining and disclosing the private health information of Texas Children’s pediatric patients. If found guilty, Haim faces up to 10 years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine.

A representative for Paxton’s office confirmed with CNA on Friday that Texas Children’s is currently being investigated. The hospital system, which is the largest children’s system in the U.S., is being investigated for potential Medicaid fraud in its sex-change program, according to National Review.

In addition to Haim, Texas Children’s nurse Vanessa Sivadge shared with City Journal information indicating that the hospital was “stealing” from the government by billing sex-change procedures on minors to Medicaid, which is illegal in Texas.

Brian Harrison, a Republican in the state Legislature, has also called on the Texas House to hold hearings on the potential Medicaid fraud by Texas Children’s and into the federal government’s actions in attempting to “silence” the whistleblowers.

In a Wednesday statement, Harrison called the administration’s actions “absolutely outrageous” and an attempt to protect “abusive and illegal practices.”

“The Texas House of Representatives must not sit idly by and allow this federal overreach to occur,” he continued.

Headquartered in Houston, Texas Children’s is the largest children’s hospital system in the U.S. The hospital announced in 2022 that it would be ceasing sex-change “therapies” and procedures, citing concerns that these practices were potentially illegal under Texas law.

This followed the publication of a directive by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Paxton that transgender procedures on minors could be considered “child abuse” in Texas. In 2023, Texas passed a law that explicitly bans sex-change procedures on children.

At least three doctors associated with Texas Children’s — Richard Roberts, David Paul, and Kristy Rialon — had continued to perform “gender-affirming” procedures on children throughout 2022 and 2023, according to whistleblower evidence published by Christopher Rufo of the Manhattan Institute. Rufo claimed that Rialon had been performing surgeries on minors ranging in age from 15 to as young as 1.

Sivadge, the nurse at Texas Children’s, further alleged that the hospital was potentially billing transgender procedures on children to Medicaid.

Irish bishops decry assisted suicide proposal as ‘a failure of hope’

Christ Church Cathedral (Holy Trinity) in Dublin, Ireland. / Credit: Bas van den Heuvel/Shutterstock

CNA Staff, Jun 24, 2024 / 14:40 pm (CNA).

The Catholic bishops of Ireland on Monday issued a statement laying out the Church’s teaching on end-of-life issues and advocating for palliative care amid a push by Irish politicians to introduce legislation to legalize assisted suicide. 

“We believe that every person who is seriously ill, together with all those who are concerned with his or her care, however difficult the circumstances, is held in the unconditional love of God,” the bishops noted.

“By legislating for assisted suicide or euthanasia, the State would contribute to undermining the confidence of people who are terminally ill, who want to be cared for and want to live life as fully as possible until death naturally comes.”

The Catholic Church has long supported, in the face of terminal illness, palliative care, which involves the holistic management of a person’s suffering. Assisted suicide and euthanasia — which both involve the intentional taking of life — are never permissible under Catholic teaching, though the withholding “extraordinary means” of medical treatment and allowing death to occur naturally can be morally permissible.

Noting that patient “autonomy” is often cited as a reason to pass assisted suicide legislation, the Irish bishops said taking a patient’s life also takes away their autonomy and “cuts off any prospect of growth or healing and represents a failure of hope.” Instead of assisted suicide, palliative care services need to be made more widely available in hospitals and hospices and in the community, the bishops recommended.

A March 2024 report produced by a committee of the Oireachtas, or Irish Parliament, recommended that the government introduce legislation to legalize assisted suicide “in certain restricted circumstances” and with safeguards in place to avoid coercion. Under the recommendations, adults suffering with an “incurable and irreversible” condition with between six and 12 months to live could request assisted suicide, which would be done in the presence of a medical professional. 

In response to the report, the country’s bishops reiterated that “whatever the circumstances, the deliberate taking of human life, especially by those whose vocation is to care for it, undermines a fundamental principle of civilized society, namely that no person can lawfully take the life of another.” 

In addition, the intellectually disabled would be particularly vulnerable under such a law, the bishops warned, pointing to countries such as Canada where serious efforts are being made to expand the provision of assisted suicide to those who are mentally ill. 

Asking medical professionals to oversee assisted suicides would “radically undermine the ethos of health care.”

“Whenever we place health care professionals under pressure to participate, either directly or by referral, in an act that they themselves believe to be fundamentally immoral, we treat them as mindless functionaries. This does untold damage to the integrity of health care in Ireland and removes the human person as its primary focus,” the bishops concluded. 

“In our culture, we rightly hold doctors and nurses in high esteem because they are presumed always to be at the service of life, for as long as their patient lives. We call on Catholics to stand firmly in support of nurses and doctors who stand for life. One day it may be your life.”

Pope Francis has said that “authentic palliative care is radically different from euthanasia, which is never a source of hope or genuine concern for the sick and dying.”

Assisted suicide and euthanasia have been legalized in recent decades countries such as Canada, Australia, Spain, Belgium, and in multiple U.S. states, permitting patients to take their own lives or allowing doctors to kill them outright. In some of those countries, patients can request assisted suicide even if they are not suffering from a fatal affliction.

Ireland’s bishops have spoken out against assisted suicide proposals before. In 2021, they described a proposal to legalize assisted suicide, the Dying with Dignity Bill, as being “at odds with the common good” and “fundamentally flawed.”

The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland — the largest doctor’s group in the country — in 2023 also came out against assisted suicide, with a group representative saying the practice was “contrary to best medical practice” and that “the potential harms outweigh the arguments that can be made in favor” of it.

In the nearby U.K., proposals to legalize assisted suicide in recent years have been consistently rejected by lawmakers. The practice is illegal in England and Wales, and doctors who assist a suicide can be jailed up to 14 years under the Suicide Act 1961.

In October 2022 a bill to legalize assisted suicide in England and Wales was ultimately not taken to a vote after seven hours of debate and impassioned opposition in the House of Lords.

U.S. bishops applaud Supreme Court ruling on domestic violence gun law

Christian Defense Coalition Director Rev. Patrick Mahoney holds a sign that reads "Abusers Should NOT Own Guns!" outside the Supreme Court on June 21, 2024, in Washington, D.C. / Credit: Andrew Harnik/Getty Images

CNA Staff, Jun 24, 2024 / 12:38 pm (CNA).

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has praised a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on gun regulation, saying it will help protect victims of domestic violence by forbidding suspected abusers from owning guns.

The court last week ruled in United States v. Rahimi that “when an individual has been found by a court to pose a credible threat to the physical safety of another, that individual may be temporarily disarmed” without violating the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which allows for broad firearm ownership.

In a statement on Saturday, Archbishop Borys Gudziak — the chairman of the bishops’ Committee for Domestic Justice and Human Development — said “the common good demands that society protect vulnerable women and children from domestic violence.”

“[R]easonable restrictions on gun possession to ensure their safety do not violate the Constitution,” Gudziak, the metropolitan archbishop of Philadelphia of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, said in the statement. 

“Violence in any form is sinful, and the bishops have stated as clearly and strongly as we can that violence against women, inside or outside the home, is never justified,” the prelate said. 

“We welcome today’s opinion in upholding safeguards for women and children against gun violence. Properly understood, the Constitution does not require that a victim of domestic violence should fear for her life.”

The Supreme Court “has affirmed the government’s ability to protect victims of abuse,” the archbishop said. 

The USCCB had filed an amicus brief in the case in support of the government. In their August 2023 filing the bishops had argued that “the right to bear arms is not an unqualified license that must leave vulnerable family members to live in fear.”

“Abused victims are precisely the people whom a just government is tasked with protecting,” the bishops said. “The Second Amendment does not stand as a barrier to their safety.”

The court’s ruling was near unanimous; Justice Clarence Thomas was the only dissenter from the court’s ruling. The conservative judge argued that the court and the government could not “point to a single historical law revoking a citizen’s Second Amendment right based on possible interpersonal violence.”

“[I]n the interest of ensuring the government can regulate one subset of society, today’s decision puts at risk the Second Amendment rights of many more,” the justice said.

This is not the only gun-related decision from the high court this year. 

Last month the Supreme Court struck down a Trump-era federal rule that banned “bump stocks,” with the court arguing that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives had overstepped its authority in banning the rapid-fire gun accessories. 

Pope Francis appoints Gänswein to diplomatic role in Baltic states

Archbishop Georg Gänswein was the personal secretary of the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. / Credit: Bohumil Petrík

Vatican City, Jun 24, 2024 / 07:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Georg Gänswein, the former private secretary to the late Pope Benedict XVI, to a diplomatic role in the Baltic states.

The Vatican announced Monday that Gänswein will serve as the apostolic nuncio, or papal ambassador, to Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia.

The appointment comes after months of speculation and rumor across Rome and the Church in Germany as to Gänswein’s future after the death of Benedict XVI.

The relationship between Gänswein and the current pope has been notably strained. In a recent Spanish-language interview book, “El Sucesor,” Pope Francis went so far as to say Benedict was “being used” by Gänswein in the context of the publication of a “tell-all” book.

Last year, Pope Francis instructed Gänswein to return to Germany, leaving him without any official role in the Church. The 67-year-old has resided in his home region of the Archdiocese of Freiburg in southern Germany since July 2023, where he is an honorary canon in the Freiburg cathedral.

Before his departure from the Eternal City, Gänswein spent many years in Rome. He served as Benedict XVI’s personal secretary from 2003 until the Bavarian pope’s death on Dec. 31, 2022. Benedict also appointed him to serve as the prefect of the papal household in 2012, a role he carried into the pontificate of Pope Francis and concluded in February 2023.

Hailing from the Black Forest region of Germany, the son of a blacksmith was ordained a priest in 1984 by Archbishop Oskar Saier in Freiburg and holds a doctorate in canon law from Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich.

As apostolic nuncio to the Baltic states, Gänswein will serve as the permanent diplomatic representation of the Holy See and will perform similar duties to an ambassador.

The Baltic countries have a substantial Christian population. According to the Pew Research Center, 93% of Lithuanians are Christian with 75% of adults identifying as Catholic. Latvia and Estonia both have considerable Orthodox and Lutheran populations with Catholics only making up 1% of Estonia’s population.

Mass attendance is low across the Baltic states with only 7% of Catholics in Latvia and 10% in Lithuania saying they attend Mass weekly.

Gänswein succeeds Archbishop Pedro López Quintana, who served as the nuncio to the Baltic states until Pope Francis reassigned him as apostolic nuncio to Austria in 2019.

On two-year anniversary of Dobbs, pro-life activists remember the historic day

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, celebrates outside of the Supreme Court after the overturn of Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022. / Credit: Students for Life of America/Kevin Feliciano

CNA Staff, Jun 24, 2024 / 07:00 am (CNA).

It was slightly past 10 a.m. on June 24, 2022, a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. Hundreds were gathered outside the Supreme Court of the United States waiting for what the justices would decide in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, which would overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. 

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, delivered the decision to the crowd from the steps of the Supreme Court: “The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion.”

Immediately following her words, tears of joy were shed by one side of the crowd while the other was filled with disappointment. 

Savanna Deretich, federal government affairs coordinator for Students for Life of America, was at the Supreme Court on that historic day and told CNA she experienced the “purest joy” and for the first time knew “what it meant to actually just weep because you were so happy.”

Savanna Deretich, federal government affairs coordinator for Students for Life of America, celebrates the overturn on Roe v. Wade outside of the Supreme Court on June 24, 2022. Credit: Students for Life of America/Kevin Feliciano
Savanna Deretich, federal government affairs coordinator for Students for Life of America, celebrates the overturn on Roe v. Wade outside of the Supreme Court on June 24, 2022. Credit: Students for Life of America/Kevin Feliciano

Deretich, who at the time of the overturning was the state government affairs coordinator for Students for Life, was already in D.C. with other staff and roughly 200 of the group’s top student leaders for their annual National Leadership Collective. On the day the decision was made, knowing it would most likely happen then, the entire group spent part of their day at the Supreme Court before going back to their training.

“When the decision happened it was one of the best experiences of our lives because we had about 200 students flood the court with their ‘I’m the pro-life generation’ signs [and] ‘I’m part of the post-Roe generation,’” she said. “So, it was an honor to be with Students for Life as well as all of our top student leaders to be there for that moment.”

Despite the extreme heat and being “drenched in our own sweat,” Deretich said that “we were so happy I don’t think any of us really cared or realized how hot it was.”

The 25-year-old grew up in a Christian, home-schooling household where she was taught from a young age about the sanctity of life. When she was in high school she did an internship with her local pro-life organization, but it wasn’t until infanticide was legalized in New York in 2018 while she was in college that her passion for the life cause was truly ignited. 

“I remember looking at my phone and seeing the recording of New York legislators cheering in joy that they passed an infanticide bill and immediately — I’ve never felt this feeling before — but this burning fire ignited in my heart and I knew … in that moment I had to protect life in law. That was going to be my life’s mission,” she recalled. 

Savannah Dudzik (center) outside of the Supreme Court with two other pro-lifers on the day Roe v. Wade was overturned on June 24, 2022. Credit: Photo courtesy of Savannah Dudzik
Savannah Dudzik (center) outside of the Supreme Court with two other pro-lifers on the day Roe v. Wade was overturned on June 24, 2022. Credit: Photo courtesy of Savannah Dudzik

Another pro-lifer who jumped on the first plane to D.C. when she heard the news was Savannah Dudzik, an events representative with Live Action. At the time she was working for a few pro-life organizations and heard the news while on a Zoom call and immediately started “to cry with joy,” she told CNA in an interview. 

“I got off the Zoom call, and the first person I called was my dad. My dad has been involved in the pro-life movement his whole life as well,” Dudzik recalled. “I told him that I really just wanted to be there, at the Supreme Court, for this historic day. His advice was to book the first flight out of Tampa, so that’s what I did!”

She arrived at the Supreme Court in the afternoon and stayed until dark — celebrating with other pro-lifers.

“There was an overwhelming joy on the pro-life side: Our prayers had been answered! People who had been fighting for this their whole lives were there with tears in their eyes, and all the young people had a renewed vigor,” she said.

Dudzik returned to the Supreme Court the following day for the celebration rally where she said the atmosphere had “an air of sobriety.”

“The ecstatic feeling had worn off a bit and we realized that now this would be a tough issue fought at the federal level and state by state. The fight had only just begun.”

After the overturn of Roe, Dudzik began working with the pro-life organization Live Action, where she attends events across the country spreading the pro-life message and educating people on the truth about abortion. She also became a wife and mother to a baby girl, whom, she said, has given her more motivation to do pro-life work.

“From the second I saw the positive pregnancy test, working in the pro-life movement has become even more personal and close to my heart,” the 22-year-old shared. “Standing in front of the Supreme Court this year after the National March for Life and realizing that in D.C. I could easily kill my 23-week-old baby legally, it brought me to tears.”

She added: “Then, when my little baby girl was born, my vigor for spreading the message of a culture of life grew even more. Children are the greatest blessing — now I know this firsthand. My baby isn’t inhibiting me at all, squashing my dreams, or making my life miserable: She’s actually propelling me to do more to raise awareness and spread a culture of life.”

Savannah Dudzik sits in the airport holding a newspaper sharing the news that Roe v. Wade had been overturned on June 24, 2022. Credit: Photo courtesy of Savannah Dudzik
Savannah Dudzik sits in the airport holding a newspaper sharing the news that Roe v. Wade had been overturned on June 24, 2022. Credit: Photo courtesy of Savannah Dudzik

As for Deretich, soon after the overturn of Roe she took on a new role with Students for Life of America, becoming the government affairs coordinator at the federal level. 

Her main focus now consists of “making sure that even the very pro-life senators and Congress members know that the fight is not over because a lot of them wash their hands like, ‘We’re done now. Roe is overturned,’” she explained, adding: “We still have to talk about it. We still have to take actions on it and the fight is not over. It’s not just a state issue.”

Both Deretich and Dudzik agree there have been many wins since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, including 14 states enacting laws that ban abortion and offer full protection of human life. However, they said there is still much work to be done, in particular this November when several states — including Florida, Colorado, and South Dakota — will be voting on ballot initiatives regarding abortion.

You can find more information regarding state laws on abortion and ballot initiatives here

U.S. bishops commemorate 2nd anniversary of Dobbs ruling

The scene outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., after the court released its decision in the Dobbs abortion case on June 24, 2022. Pro-abortion demonstrators gradually made up a decided majority of the crowd as the day wore on. / Credit: Katie Yoder/CNA

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 24, 2024 / 06:00 am (CNA).

The chairman of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ pro-life committee has released a statement commemorating the second anniversary of the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, as chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, reflected on the challenges faced by the pro-life movement since the historic decision.

“On June 24, 2024, we celebrate the second anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, ending the tragic reign of Roe v. Wade,” he said.

“It is a day for thanksgiving to God for answering our prayers and blessing the many years of hard work. This anniversary calls us to reflect on where we have been and where we are going,” Burbidge said.

He then noted recent defeats and upcoming challenges in the fight to protect life in the womb.

“Kansas, Michigan, and Ohio drastically expanded access to abortion,” he said. 

“This fall, as many as 10 additional states will have abortion referenda on their ballots, allowing voters to enshrine ‘abortion rights’ and override existing pro-life safeguards,” Burbidge noted.

Burbidge urged Catholics “to engage their elected officials on all issues endangering life.”

Burbidge then went on to reflect on the power of the Eucharist to transform the current culture, stating that he “cannot help but think the Holy Spirit has inspired our National Eucharistic Revival for such a time as this. Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist has the power to transform our own hearts and the heart of our culture.”

Amid these reflections, Burbidge acknowledged the ongoing commitment of various advocacy groups that assist women facing unexpected and difficult pregnancies. Initiatives such as Walking with Moms in Need exemplify the Church’s dedication to providing comprehensive “material, emotional, and spiritual support,” he said.

Furthermore, Burbidge recognized efforts such as Project Rachel and Respect Life Prayer and Action, which offer assistance to individuals affected by abortion and encourage proactive engagement in legislative processes.

“Jesus tells us: I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly’ (Jn 10:10),” Burbidge said. “I pray we will be united in our efforts to protect God’s gift of life, in every stage and circumstance.”

This year, a unique convergence of historical milestones not only brings attention to the second anniversary of the Dobbs ruling but also the first National Eucharistic Congress of its kind in more than 80 years.

In recognizing this, Burbidge concluded his statement by inspiring all to “draw strength from our communion in the body and blood of Christ our savior” during this significant time.

‘Summer Christmas’: Why does the Church celebrate the birthday of St. John the Baptist?

Statue of St. John the Baptist with golden cross, Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic. / Credit: Oldrich Barak/Shutterstock

Rome Newsroom, Jun 24, 2024 / 04:00 am (CNA).

St. John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, is one of only three people in history — after Jesus and Mary — whose birthday is celebrated in the Church’s liturgy.

In fact, the Nativity of St. John the Baptist on June 24 is a solemnity, meaning it is the highest form of Catholic feast day. And because it falls exactly six months before the solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord, it is sometimes known as “summer Christmas.”

“The Church observes the birth of John as in some way sacred; and you will not find any other of the great men of old whose birth we celebrate officially. We celebrate John’s, as we celebrate Christ’s,” St. Augustine of Hippo said in his sermon 293

In the Mass for the solemnity, the priest prays to God in the preface, that in Christ’s precursor, “St. John the Baptist, we praise your great glory, for you consecrated him for a singular honor among those born of women.”

“His birth brought great rejoicing; even in the womb he leapt for joy at the coming of human salvation. He alone of all the prophets pointed out the Lamb of redemption,” the prayer continues. “And to make holy the flowing waters, he baptized the very author of baptism and was privileged to bear him supreme witness by the shedding of his blood.”

St. Augustine explained that “John, it seems, has been inserted as a kind of boundary between the two Testaments, the Old and the New. That he is somehow or other a boundary is something that the Lord himself indicates when he says, ‘The Law and the prophets were until John.’ So he represents the old and heralds the new. Because he represents the old, he is born of an elderly couple; because he represents the new, he is revealed as a prophet in his mother’s womb.”

John’s connection to Christ

Father Mauro Gagliardi, a theologian and liturgist who teaches in Rome, wrote in a 2009 article on Zenit that it is important to emphasize John the Baptist’s role as “Indicator.” John is “a prophet who refers back to Christ.”

The liturgy, Gagliardi said, does the same thing, and thus the June 24 solemnity “reminds us of this: The Christian liturgy is a powerful Indicator of Christ to the peoples, like [John] the Baptist.”

John the Baptist’s feast day also has cosmic connections, the theologian pointed out. The fact that June 24 is close to the summer solstice demonstrates the fulfillment of the prophecy in John 3:30 that “he must increase; I must decrease,” since after John’s birthday the days get shorter, or “decrease,” while after Jesus’ birthday on Dec. 25, the days get longer, or “increase.”

“This interweaving between a figure from the history of salvation — John — and the cosmic rhythms (both guided by the same God) has found a fruitful development in the devotion and liturgy of the Church,” Gagliardi said.

Popular customs of ‘summer Christmas’

The Church’s liturgical commemoration of St. John the Baptist dates back to the fourth century.

Acknowledgement of the saint’s importance can also be noted in his shared patronage, together with St. John the Apostle, of Rome’s Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, which is also the seat of the bishop of Rome, that is, the pope.

The night of June 23 is known in some countries, including Italy, as “St. John’s Eve.” Due to the solemnity’s timing, shortly after the summer solstice, some of the practices connected to the feast have a pagan character, including that some refer to it as “the Night of the Witches.”

Modern-day secular festivities may include concerts and theatrical performances, while Catholics usually celebrate Mass and hold religious processions.

One of the most typical customs related to St. John’s Eve, both secular and religious, is the bonfire, called in some countries “St. John’s Fires,” which are lit in honor of the saint who “was not the light, but came to testify to the light (Jn 1:8).” Fireworks or candle-lit processions can also take the place of bonfires.

In an Angelus message on June 25, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI said the feast of St. John the Baptist “reminds us that our life is entirely and always ‘relative’ to Christ and is fulfilled by accepting him, the Word, the Light and the Bridegroom, whose voices, lamps, and friends we are.”

“‘He must increase, but I must decrease’ (Jn 3:30): The Baptist’s words are a program for every Christian,” Benedict said.