Browsing News Entries

Women scholars discuss danger of redefining women

Libresco, Favle and Bachiochi during the “The Dignity of the Sexed Body: Asymmetry, Equality, and Real Reproductive Justice” panel Nov. 13. / Steve Toepp / University of Notre Dame

South Bend, Ind., Nov 23, 2021 / 11:46 am (CNA).

Efforts to redefine women undermine their feminine dignity and unjustly pressure them to resort to abortions to keep pace with men in the workforce, a panel of women scholars said earlier this month in a discussion that highlighted the harmful consequences of de-sexing society.

Titled “The Dignity of the Sexed Body: Asymmetry, Equality, and Real Reproductive Justice,” the Nov. 13 discussion took place at the 21st annual fall conference of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame, and featured presentations by English professor Abigail Favale, legal scholar Erika Bachiochi, and writer Leah Libresco Sargeant.

Favale, the dean of the College of Humanities at George Fox University, in Newberg, Ore., spoke about the dangers of divorcing the terms “woman” and “female.”

Currently, she noted, “defining a woman as an adult human female is considered hate speech” by some, and use of the terms “pregnant woman” or “breastfeeding” can be labeled discriminatory. Yet “appropriating the identity of a woman is considered laudatory, liberating, the next frontier of civil rights,” she said. 

“[I]f woman no longer names the billions of persons who are female, how do we speak about them?” Favale asked.

Apparently, the answer is not so easy. Favale cited three failed definitions as proof.

One, from the Australian Academy of Sciences, defines a woman as “anyone who identifies as a woman.” A second definition, offered by British philosopher Katherine Jenkins, is someone who “experiences the norms that are associated with women in her social context as relevant to her.”

A third definition comes from trans-identified person Susan Striker, who says a woman is “useful shorthand for the entanglement of femininity and social status regardless of biology — not as an identity, but as the name for an imagined community that honors the female, enacts the feminine and exceeds the limitations of a sexist society.”

Favale says these definitions unseat the dignity of women in a deeply disquieting manner. 

Libresco, Favle and Bachiochi during the “The Dignity of the Sexed Body: Asymmetry, Equality, and Real Reproductive Justice” panel Nov. 13. Steve Toepp / University of Notre Dame
Libresco, Favle and Bachiochi during the “The Dignity of the Sexed Body: Asymmetry, Equality, and Real Reproductive Justice” panel Nov. 13. Steve Toepp / University of Notre Dame

“The most stunning aspect of this linguistic insurrection is the unnaming of female humans,” she said. “To quote Helen Joyce: The quest for the liberation of people with female bodies has arrived at an extraordinary position: that they do not even constitute a group that merits a name.”

The divorce between woman and adult human female also puts women in physical danger, Favale argued.

Women are the primary beneficiaries of the “few sex segregated spaces that continue to exist in western, liberal democracies — bathrooms, locker rooms, prisons, shelters, sports teams — [and] all of those exist for the benefit of women who are more vulnerable to sexual assault and harrasment,” she said. 

Ironically, Favale lays blame at the feet of the feminist movement. 

“For the past five decades mainstream feminism has enthusiastically been sawing off the branch it has been sitting on,” Favale said. 

“While there are myriad iterations and definitions of feminism, a common denominator among them is ostensibly a serious concern about the status and well-being of women,” she said. “And yet this very concept has been steadily eroded of content by feminists themselves.”

Without a reuniting of the two terms, warns Favale, the dignity of women will no longer be protected. 

“[A] feminism that rejects an entire definition of woman grounded in the concrete reality of the sexed human body cannot effectively advocate for those whose lives and circumstances are shaped by that body,” she concluded.  

Is it men who’ve been liberated?

Bachiochi, a pro-life feminist legal scholar and fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., elaborated on these bodily realities in her discussion of “the natural asymmetry of the sexed body.”

As Aristotle observed, “males reproduce outside of themselves and so can walk away, and females reproduce inside of themselves and so cannot,” Bachiochi noted. She went on to describe the physical differences between male and female arousal, the effect of testosterone in men, and the waves of oxytocin which uniquely affect the woman after the sexual act, chemically bonding her to her sexual partner whether he is worthy or not. 

“[A]t the heart of sex, there is a deep inequality,” she argued. 

Bachiochi claimed this asymmetry has prompted many movements to rectify the imbalance.

“Now, throughout human history women have attempted all sorts of means and methods to manage and even escape these natural asymmetries, asymmetries that make women vulnerable not only to stronger and more libidinous men, but also to the dangers and difficulties of childbearing,” she said. “From nascent contraceptives to dangerous aborations even to infanticide, desperate women have often resorted to desperate measures.”

What is new today, she said, is that women believe that equality with men “demands the affirmative right to engage in the killing of one’s own vulnerable and dependent child” and the right to engage in “putatively consequence-free sex just like a man.” 

Libresco, Favle and Bachiochi during the “The Dignity of the Sexed Body: Asymmetry, Equality, and Real Reproductive Justice” panel Nov. 13. Steve Toepp / University of Notre Dame
Libresco, Favle and Bachiochi during the “The Dignity of the Sexed Body: Asymmetry, Equality, and Real Reproductive Justice” panel Nov. 13. Steve Toepp / University of Notre Dame

Ironically, however, women’s liberation seems to have liberated men more than women, she argued. She highlighted that women experience this “right” to consequence-free sex with a great deal of cognitive dissonance.

Many women engage in casual sexual relationships “as a kind of right, a right that..too often becomes a kind of duty,” one that can result in the unintended consequence of pregnancy, Bachiochi said.

“It is the government, then, in seeking to restrict abortion, that would force [a woman in this position] to be a mother,” she said. “And so equality demands, from this perspective, that women enjoy the right to engage in a life-destroying, child-destroying act.”

Bachiochi, who also serves as the director of The Wollstonecraft Project at the Abigail Adams Institute, contrasted this attitude with the vision of Mary Wollstonecraft, a British advocate of women’s rights.

Wollstonecraft believed that asymmetries in the sexed body led to further asymmetries in the political, legal, and social realms. But rather than seeking to rectify these differences by making women more like irresponsible and libidinous men, Bachiochi said, Wollstonecraft and others believed the solution to procuring equality lay in greater chastity among the male sex. 

“The little respect paid to chastity in the male world is, I am persuaded, the grand source of many of the physical and moral evils that torment mankind, as well as of the vices and follies that degrade and destroy women,” Wollstonecraft famously said. 

“In Wollstonecraft’s view, engaged and attentive fatherhood was the very best means to direct men’s desires properly, by bringing them into the light of shared domesticity,” argued Bachiochi. 

The pressure to conform

Sargeant, the author of “Arriving at Amen: Seven Catholic Prayers that Even I Can Offer,” and “Building the Benedict Option,” agreed with Bachiochi’s contention that women’s equality is not synonymous with the ability to have sex and walk away from any consquences as men can do. 

“[C]ontraception and abortion are the most dangerous compromises that women are asked to make in order to make up for not being as good at being men, as it would be convenient for others if we were,” she argued. 

“Ruth Bader Ginsberg thought … that women cannot have equal protection under the law, cannot be equal as citizens, without having the ability to pay the entrance price to society, which is the ability to abandon somebody who is vulnerable and depends on you,” Sargeant said.

While that premise is false, she said, this is the way society is currently structured.  

“Abortion is one more example where we say to a woman, ‘The problem is that you are a woman. It's your responsibility to find a way for us all not to have to deal with that unpleasant reality, and whatever compromise, whatever sacrifice, whatever suffering you have to cause … is worth it because we don’t have room for women here,’” Sargeant said.

Sargeant sees this outlook manifested in the unreasonable pressures routinely placed on new mothers to return to work days or weeks after giving birth. In essence, women in these situations are told to be like men, she said.

Instead, Sargeant argued that the culture needs an entirely different argument about the human person, one that recognizes vulnerability, dependence, and the dignity of love, rather than asking women to conform to a standard of masculine autonomy.

Cordileone to Catholic students after boycott of pro-life assembly: 'Do not be victims of the culture'

Credit: Wuttichai Jantarak/Shutterstock / null

San Francisco, Calif., Nov 22, 2021 / 19:19 pm (CNA).

The archbishop of San Francisco has encouraged students at a local Catholic high school to reject the lies of the abortion industry and become courageous advocates for life, following a boycott of a pro-life assembly at the school. 

“Do not be victims of the culture,” Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone wrote in an open letter to students at Archbishop Riordan High School. 

Cordileone met with student leaders at the high school on Nov. 8 to discuss the incident.

The meeting was "a chance for productive and thoughtful dialogue," said the high school's interim president, Tim Reardon.

Cordileone wrote an open letter to all students in preparation for the meeting. The text of his letter was published by First Things Nov. 19. 

“There are powerful forces in our country that use slogans to co-opt you into being agents of their own self-serving agendas. You must see through the lies,” he said in the letter.

The students staged a walkout Oct. 22 to protest an all-school assembly featuring pro-life speaker Megan Almon.

According to an account of the incident by the San Francisco Chronicle, students began to exit the auditorium and file into an adjacent gym about “five minutes” into the presentation, leaving “a few dozen of the school’s more than 800 students” in the auditorium for the entire talk.

The walkout has since gained media attention after a video of the walkout went viral, with several hundred thousand views on TikTok.

“My school tried to hold a pro-life assembly,” on-screen text on the video of a throng of masked students reads, “So we walked out.”

In his letter, Cordileone praised students for their idealism and energetic advocacy for justice. He then challenged the students to discern the truth about abortion. 

“Abortion is the killing of a human life,” Cordileone wrote. “This is a scientific fact. The fetus in the mother’s womb is a unique, growing human being, with its own unique DNA. 

“The method of killing depends on the stage of pregnancy and type of abortion, but often involves such techniques as dismembering the limbs, crushing the skull, and burning the body,” he said.

But above all, abortion is a moral issue, the archbishop wrote. 

“No matter the method, abortion is a horrendously violent act,” Cordileone said. “This is not hyperbole. It is scientific fact.”

Cordileone went on to challenge students to advocate for the truth about abortion, which is not glamorous, but fosters greatness. 

“Think of the abolitionists of the mid-19th century, or the advocates of civil rights of the mid-20th century: They did not fit into the societies of their times, advocating for politically unpopular and unfashionable causes,” he wrote. “They risked, and some lost, their lives in the effort to correct the greatest injustice of their time. We now regard them as the moral heroes of their generation.”

He cited Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who once said that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

“This, though, only happens when a new generation of moral heroes rises up to correct the injustice,” the archbishop wrote. “This requires a strong backbone, great spiritual stamina. Will you be the moral heroes of your generation? Do you have what it takes?”

Cordileone urged the students to cultivate their prayer lives. He wrote that only Christ—and His Church—can offer women true choice in the face of an unplanned pregnancy, and healing after an abortion. 

He encouraged young women at the high school to cherish their fertility as a blessing that does not come at the cost of progress for women.  

“God has given you the awesome gift of being able to conceive and bring to the light of day a new, unique human being, with an immortal soul,” he wrote. “I’m old enough to remember a time when our society cherished this gift and protected it; indeed, in effect, society organized itself around it.”

“It is true that back then women were deprived of many opportunities that they now enjoy, and this is progress to be celebrated. However, it should not come at the cost of women having to cancel out this awesome gift.”

Cordileone challenged young men at the high school to respect women as equals, not as tools to be used for selfish pleasure. 

“You still have a ways to go before you mature into full manhood,” he wrote. “If you want to remain a boy forever, then spend your life caring only about yourself and every little immediate pleasure that you desire, because to be a real man requires a life of sacrifice and virtue. 

“It also means acting responsibly by showing respect toward women as your true equals and cherishing and respecting that awesome gift she has of bringing new life into the world,” he said.

He prayed that students at Archbishop Riordan High School would be open to learning and growing in their knowledge, “and especially open to hearing and trying to understand points of view different from your own, even points of view with which you strongly disagree.”

“I wish that is what those of you who walked out of the speech by a pro-life activist recently would have done,” he wrote. “This action put on full display one of the blind spots of youth due to young people’s lack of extended life experience: gullibility.”

After shocking Waukesha Christmas parade attack, Wis. Catholics grieve and pray

Catholics and others were injured, and at least four people killed, when a car drove through a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on Nov. 21. / Getty Images

Waukesha, Wisconsin, Nov 22, 2021 / 16:51 pm (CNA).

Catholics in the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha have responded with grief, prayer, and solidarity after an SUV drove into marchers in the city’s Christmas parade. Five people were killed, and among the nearly 50 injured are a Catholic priest, multiple parishioners, and Catholic schoolchildren.

“As the shepherd of the Catholic community of southeastern Wisconsin, I feel compelled to stand in solidarity with those who have been affected by this senseless act,” said Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee said in a video message on Monday. “When confronted with the shock and the grief encountered by our brothers and sisters in Waukesha, it is now important for us to turn to our faith which offers us God’s loving presence and consolation.”

Like other schools in the city, Catholic Memorial High School in Waukesha cancelled Monday classes. The high school, which had a contingent marching in the parade, held a prayer service at 12:30 p.m.

St. William Church in Waukesha scheduled a bilingual prayer service at 6 p.m. Central Time Monday and said it would be streamed live on its Facebook page and YouTube.

“Our prayers are with the people who have been injured and killed during the tragic incident in Waukesha,” the archbishop continued in the video. “Please join us in prayer for all those involved, their families, and those who are traumatized from witnessing the horrible scene.”

“I know that people of every faith and tradition will call their communities together and offer to God their sense of confidence in his ability to guide us through this difficult period and offer hope and healing,” said Listecki. “God bless you.”

A red SUV barreled through barricades and into a crowd marching down the main street of Waukesha just before 4:40 p.m. on Nov. 21. Videos posted on social media showed a dark SUV racing down the parade route past horrified onlookers moments before marchers were struck, with police in pursuit.

The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, the Waukesha Xtreme Dance team, and a marching band were also struck by the vehicle, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  Several of the dead were part of the dancing grandmothers’ group, while another was a Citizen Bank employee walking with a float. 

The youngest to die was 52, while the oldest was 81. Those hospitalized for their injuries included at least 18 children.

Also marching in the parade were individuals and institutions of the local Catholic community.

Waukesha has four Catholic parishes. In the wake of the incident, the city’s parishes provided social media livestreams of the rosary and Eucharistic adoration.  

Authorities named Darrell Brooks Jr. as the suspected driver, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Among other recommended charges, he could face five charges of first-degree intentional homicide, each of which has a sentence of mandatory life in prison.

Brooks, 39, was the subject of an ongoing domestic violence case. The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office said Nov. 22 that prosecutors had recommended an “inappropriately low” bail in this case and it is investigating the recommendation.

In the last two years Brooks has faced three charges of recklessly endangering others’ safety. He jumped bail for a July 2020 incident for allegedly firing a handgun during an argument.

Most recently, in early November, he allegedly ran over a woman with his vehicle in the parking lot of a Milwaukee gas station. She was hospitalized for her injuries. Brooks was free on $1,000 bail.

At a Monday afternoon press conference, Waukesha police chief confirmed that Brooks was involved in a “domestic disturbance” before he drove onto the parade route. There was an unconfirmed report that a knife was involved. Officials said on Monday that there was no police pursuit related to that incident, CNN reports.

Brooks has a significant record of other criminal convictions.

Bishop of Charleston prohibits confirmation, anointing of the sick in ‘Tridentine Form’

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Charleston, South Carolina / Bill Kennedy/Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Nov 22, 2021 / 16:12 pm (CNA).

Priests in the Diocese of Charleston, S.C. may no longer administer confirmation or the anointing of the sick in Latin using the pre-Vatican II Roman Missal, under a new policy that goes into effect Sunday.

The policy announced by Charleston Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone also limits the use of the Traditional Latin Mass, and comes in response to Pope Francis’ motu proprio Traditionis custodes, or “Guardians of the tradition.” The papal edict states that it is each bishop’s “exclusive competence” to authorize the use of the Traditional Latin Mass in his diocese.

The Mass using the Roman Missal of 1962 is known as the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, the Tridentine Mass, and the Traditional Latin Mass.

The new “Policy Regarding Celebration of the Mass of 1962 in the Diocese of Charleston” goes into effect on Nov. 28, the first Sunday of Advent. It identifies four parishes in the diocese where the Traditional Latin Mass may be said on Sundays and holy days of obligation, under certain conditions.

Guglielmone stipulates in the new policy that the Traditional Latin Mass cannot be celebrated for midnight Mass at Christmas, or during the Triduum or the Easter vigil. A single Traditional Latin Mass is allowed on All Souls Day. On weekdays, the older rite may be celebrated “if an additional Mass is celebrated according to the ‘NOVUS ORDO’ on the same day,” the policy states.

The four parishes where the Traditional Latin Mass can be celebrated are: Stella Maris in Sullivans Island; Sacred Heart in Charleston; Prince of Peace in Taylors, and Our Lady of the Lake in Chapin.

The policy also limits the celebration of certain sacraments in the “Tridentine form.”

Confirmation and anointing of the sick are not permitted, the bishop states. Baptism is allowed only at the request of the parents. Matrimony using the older rite is permitted with permission of the bishop, and funerals are allowed only at “specific prior written request of the deceased.”

A note adds that “Baptism, Matrimony and Anointing of the Sick can be celebrated in Latin according to the most recent updating of the rites.”

“Those priests who have been celebrating this Mass prior to the date of Pope Francis’ MOTU PROPRIO and who have indicated to me that they were doing so, may celebrate this Mass” in the four parishes, Guglielmone states in the policy.

A spokeswoman for the diocese confirmed that the new policy is in response to Traditionis custodes. “The motu proprio from the Holy Father requested that each bishop evaluate their diocese and implement specific instructions regarding the celebration of the Mass of 1962,” she told CNA. “After reviewing the rites thoroughly and consulting with the pastors of our diocese, the bishop approved this policy effective the first Sunday of Advent.”

The spokeswoman also addressed the sacramental regulations in the policy. “Regarding the specific limitations on certain sacraments, these decisions were made based upon the rubrics and study of the rites,” she said. “For example, before Vatican II the Mass could not be celebrated after 12:00 p.m. on a Sunday and not before midnight the day before a major feast day. Thus, there is no permission in the rubrics to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass on Christmas Eve.”

Guglielmone was appointed bishop of Charleston by Pope Benedict in 2009. The text of the new policy is below.

The new policy of the Diocese of Charleston, S.C., regarding the use of the Traditional Latin Mass. CNA
The new policy of the Diocese of Charleston, S.C., regarding the use of the Traditional Latin Mass. CNA

Catholic University of America: Unintentional abortion coverage for students wasn't used

The Catholic University of America. / Kristi Blokhin / Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Nov 22, 2021 / 14:51 pm (CNA).

Although it has acknowledged that its student health plan unintentionally covered certain abortion services for the past three years, The Catholic University of America said Monday that no abortion claims occurred during that time.

"Aetna reported that there were no abortion claims paid under the plan," university spokeswoman Karna Lozoya told CNA. 

Aetna is a healthcare provider often used by universities to offer students and staff a university-sponsored health insurance option. 

CUA’s report comes days after a media report uncovering that the university's student health care plan provided by Aetna covers abortion “when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest or if it places the woman’s life in serious danger.”

The College Fix, a new site that features the work of student journalists, originally reported Nov. 9 that CUA was offering the services. 

The news outlet has written a series of stories about student health care plans at a number of Catholic higher-education institutions that cover abortion services, sterilization surgeries, contraception, and even sex change surgeries, all in contradiction to the explicit teachings of the Catholic Church.

In an earlier statement to CNA, Lozoya explained that the abortion coverage was not intentional on the university’s part.

“The Catholic University of America is committed to defending life at every stage, and we work hard to live out that commitment in all aspects of University operations. For our student and staff health plans, we have always excluded abortion from coverage,” she said.

“A few years ago our health insurance provider for our student health plan (Aetna) made a blanket change to their plans to add limited exceptions to the abortion exclusion — in the case of rape, incest, and if the life of the mother is in danger. Unfortunately, the change was not intentional on our part. Our health insurance plan for staff never included these exceptions,” the statement continued.

“As a result of our direct communications with Aetna, they have removed all exceptions to the comprehensive exclusion of abortion coverage from our student health plan, and we have removed the plan from our website. An amended plan will be available soon, and it will be explicit that abortion is excluded from coverage,” Lozoya said. “The Catholic University of America apologizes for the error.”

A senior and student senator at Catholic University of America, Gerald Sharpe, told CNA that the university is pro-life.

“As the university mentioned, this was a colossal error. I know and have worked closely with the administration when I was student body President — they are deeply committed to protecting all life in the womb. As a senior at Catholic U, I can easily say the Church’s teaching on life is upheld and fostered on campus,” he said.

This article was updated with additional information on Nov. 22.

Faith leaders unite to ‘Pray for Dobbs,’ the case that could overturn Roe

Adult and young people hold signs protesting abortion. / Murloc / Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Nov 22, 2021 / 14:13 pm (CNA).

Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians recently united for a day of prayer in anticipation for an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case concerning abortion. 

“Our Christian churches and all people of goodwill must pray, fast, and work harder to end this pandemic of child sacrifice,” Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., said at the event held on Nov. 18.

The National Virtual Prayer Gathering comes as part of the “Pray for Dobbs” campaign. On Dec. 1, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that involves Mississippi’s law restricting most abortions after 15 weeks. The case challenges two landmark cases: Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that legalized abortion nationwide, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which upheld Roe in 1992.

The “Pray for Dobbs” campaign provides “resources to help your church, school, ministry, or faith community pray for a just decision in the Dobbs case,” including an informational webinar, flyers detailing the case, and action ideas. Those ideas include prayer, fasting, and organizing local prayer vigils for Dec. 1.

Kat Talalas, the assistant director for pro-life communciations at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), explained the initiative during in an informational webinar on Oct. 19. Some 3,500 church leaders participated in the webinar.

“Several faith leaders, all around the same time, had simultaneously the same idea, which is that we need a unified effort of Christians across the country joining together in prayer and fasting to end the scourge of abortion,” Talalas said during the webinar. “They also realized this would have to be an effort that comes out of the body of Christ and is not necessarily tied to any political group or political movement, but is truly an effort from people who are seeking to intercede and to ask God to protect all human life.”

With leaders of different faith traditions involved, she stressed, “We welcome you, we hope that you will join us in prayer and fasting from now until June 22.” The Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs case is expected to come sometime before July 2022.

The prayer event, hosted by Mary Szoch, the director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council (FRC), featured 16 guests including Naumann, former chair of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

“Our nation stands guilty of not only promoting, endorsing, and enshrining abortion across the land, but we are responsible for exporting abortion throughout the world in a sinister form of colonial imperialism,” Naumann said during the event. He asked God for forgiveness and to “strengthen us to stand against evil, to love those who may attack us, and show great compassion to those who’ve been involved in sins against life.”

Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, the superior general of the Sisters of Life, began her prayer during the event with the sign of the cross. She prayed for those wounded by abortion and for the children who have perished by abortion. 

“We pray that those whose hearts have been pierced by abortion may experience anew your gaze of love upon them and, in your gaze, be restored to experience their own great dignity,” she said.

“Holy Spirit,” she added, “inspire our Supreme Court justices and clerks for the deep sense of reverence for the sacredness of every human life so that every human life be protected in law. That the sufferings of abortion may end.”

Szoch described “Pray for Dobbs” as “bringing together Christians from around the country to pray for the end to abortion in America.” 

“It was really an effort all across the board,” she told CNA. “We had Catholics involved, we had Baptists involved, we had Presbyterians involved. I know I'm leaving out people there, but we really did have a unified effort.”

The speakers at the prayer event included Tony Evans, the senior pastor Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, Benjamin Watson, a former NFL star and Super Bowl champion, Tony Meléndez, a singer and concert guitarist, and Metropolitan Tikhon, the archbishop of Washington and Metropolitan of All America and Canada for the Orthodox Church.

She said it was advertised by churches across the country, the USCCB, FRC, and the Alliance Defending Freedom.

She acknowledged the importance of prayer and fasting in anticipation of the case.

“The atrocity of abortion is a grave evil and we know that God, the author of life, is pro-life,” she said. “He is the being who brought every unborn child into being, and he knows each unborn child intimately, and he has called each one of them by name for a purpose.”

Szoch highlighted another upcoming cross-denominational and non-partisan event called “Pray Together for Life.” Separate from “Pray for Dobbs,” FRC is organizing it to be held on Nov. 28 in Jackson, Miss.

“We need America to return to a nation that believes in the dignity of the human person,” she said, “and for that, we can't do it without God.” 

Heart surgery scheduled for San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy

Bishop Robert McElroy. / Catholic News Agency

San Diego, Calif., Nov 22, 2021 / 11:32 am (CNA).

Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego is scheduled for a coronary bypass surgery on Monday. He is expected to make a full recovery, though he will not return to work until after Christmas.

“I have great confidence in the medical staff who are carrying out this operation and, generally, patients are able to return to work in about four weeks,” he told the diocese’s priests in a letter.

“Of course, God will be in charge of all this,” he added.

The 67-year-old bishop began discussing the possible surgery with doctors after he received results from medical tests over the summer, the diocese said in a statement on Friday.

McElroy was born in San Francisco and ordained a priest there in 1980. He served as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of San Francisco from 2010 to 2015, when he was named Bishop of San Diego.

He is currently president of the California Catholic Conference and a member of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

His predecessor in San Diego, Bishop Cirilo Flores, died in September 2014 at the age of 66 after only one year in office. Flores had suffered a stroke and was undergoing treatment for prostate cancer.

Waukesha parade tragedy: Priest, Catholic schoolchildren hurt when SUV plows into marchers

Catholics and others were injured, and at least four people killed, when a car drove through a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on Nov. 21. / Getty Images

Waukesha, Wisconsin, Nov 22, 2021 / 01:00 am (CNA).

A Catholic priest, parishioners, and Catholic schoolchildren were injured when an SUV plowed into marchers during a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisc., on Sunday, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee has said.

“Our prayers are with the people who have been injured and killed during the tragic incident in Waukesha,” the archdiocese’s communications director, Sandra Peterson, said Nov. 21.

“Please join us in prayer for all those involved, their families, and those who are traumatized from witnessing the horrible scene.”

According to authorities, at least five people were killed and 40 injured when the driver of a red SUV barreled through barricades and into a crowd marching down the main street of the Milwaukee suburb just before 4:40 p.m. on Nov. 21. Videos posted on social media showed a dark SUV racing down the parade route past horrified onlookers moments before marchers were struck, with police in pursuit.

The Catholic Community of Waukesha, which includes four parishes, confirmed on Facebook late on Sunday night that several members of the community have been hospitalized for injuries.

The Catholic community was among those marching in the parade. The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, the Waukesha Xtreme Dance team, and a marching band were also struck, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The Waukesha police department said they have a person of interest in custody.

The Catholic Community of Waukesha will hold a livestreamed prayer service Nov. 22 at St. William Church, and said it is planning to provide counseling and support for parishioners following the tragedy.

“We continue to monitor the impact of yesterday’s tragic event and minister to our injured parishioners and to anyone who was in attendance,” the group wrote on Facebook.

“It is in our most difficult hours that we, as a community, turn to our Lord for refuge, strength and love. Please join us and with your community for prayer.”

The city’s four Catholic parishes have been livestreaming the rosary and Eucharistic adoration every night. The rosary following the incident Nov. 21 had almost 300 comments, over 250 reactions, and 53 shares.

A Roe v. Wade reading list: Must-read books to understand the landmark abortion ruling

People praying at an abortion clinic. / Diocese of Saginaw, CC BY ND 2.0.

Denver Newsroom, Nov 22, 2021 / 00:00 am (CNA).

Part of a continuing series examining the U.S. Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a direct challenge to the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion throughout the United States.

With oral arguments for the greatest challenge to Roe v. Wade in a half century set for Dec. 1, readers may be intrigued to know more about the landmark 1973 abortion case. These books can help explain where Roe went wrong and how to get it right.

Getting the science right

"Embryo: A Defense of Human Life" (Doubleday, 2008) by Robert P. George and Chris Tollefsen.

Legal scholar Robert P. George and philosophy professor Chris Tollefsen team up to provide a scientific and philosophical argument as to why the human embryo is a human being from the moment of conception. Though heavily focused on stem cell research, this book provides an excellent summary, based on scientific realities, as to why it is immoral to take the life of a human being in the womb.

Amicus Curiae brief filed in support of the petitioners in the Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization by Monique Chireau Wubbenhorst, M.D., M.P.H., Grazie Pozo Christie, M.D., Colleen Malloy, M.D. and the Catholic Association Foundation (July 2021.)

While Supreme Court briefs aren’t generally the easiest or most compelling reads, this 35-page document is an exception to the rule. Filled with important scientific advances, the brief contextualizes what Roe didn’t get right about the science. It includes stunning visual information that helps average readers conceptualize the fetus as a human being. Medical doctors treat these human beings as patients endowed with the right to life and who call forth from them a responsibility to save, thus many of these doctors are on the vanguard of new interventions that save lives. These scientific advancements uncover the hypocrisy of also treating fetuses as human beings that should be eliminated upon demand.

Getting the public policy right

"What It Means to Be Human: The Case for the Body in Public Bioethics" (Harvard University Press, 2020) by O. Carter Snead.

O. Carter Snead, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame, lays bare the anthropological undergirding of abortion case law — an anthropology known as “expressive individualism”— and its implications for society. By returning to the fundamental question about what it means to be human, Snead asks his readers to consider a more “capacious” understanding of humanity: human beings as embodied, vulnerable, social, and dependent beings whose good is found in community, and not simply the naked expression of self-determination. Chapter three, which focuses on abortion, provides a robust summary of the six most important cases that have shaped abortion case law, beginning with Roe v. Wade, and analyzes the questions underneath the case law, bringing to light all the anthropological shifts that need to be made in order to get the public policy right.

"Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice" (Cambridge University Press, 2007) by Francis J. Beckwith.

According to Siobhan Maloney from Humanum Review, “Francis Beckwith’s book is heralded as the ‘most comprehensive defense of the pro-life position, morally, legally and politically, that has ever been published.’ Perhaps the word comprehensive is the best that can be found to describe the task undertaken in this book.”

This 314-page work focuses heavily on answering the arguments made by pro-choice activists and politicians. It provides a thorough moral and legal response to the questions that are at the heart of Roe v. Wade, with chapters such as “The Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade, and Abortion Law,” and  “Abortion, Liberalism, and State Neutrality.”

Beckwith, a philosophy professor at Baylor University, tackles the policy questions by asking and answering questions about anthropology, ontology, and morality. Because we can know that the fetus is a human person by reason and not just by faith, he argues, we know that they are endowed with the same human rights as every being who is human in nature.

Understanding Roe’s impact

"Black and Pro-Life in America: The Incarceration and Exoneration of Walter B. Hoye" (Ignatius Press, 2018) by Robert W. Artigo.

Robert W. Artigo, an award-winning investigative journalist, details the powerful witness of the Rev. Walter B. Hoye II, a popular black Baptist minister who defied an unjust law without compromise, despite all the efforts of pro-abortion authorities to avoid the embarrassment of penalizing a beloved black minister if he would only "bend a little." 

Book cover of "Black and Pro-Life in America," by investigative journalist Robert W. Artigo. CNA screenshot
Book cover of "Black and Pro-Life in America," by investigative journalist Robert W. Artigo. CNA screenshot

Hoye was arrested on March 20, 2009 after defying a law passed by the City of Oakland, Calif., that made it illegal to approach a woman entering an abortion clinic without her consent. He went to jail for standing on a public sidewalk with a sign saying, "God loves you and your baby. Let us help you."

Hoye was offered a lesser sentence of community service, provided he agreed never to return to the clinic. Instead, the pro-life leader spent 30 days in jail to serve as a witness to his constitutional right to free speech and his Christian duty to offer help to women in need, most of whom were black like him. 

Two higher courts eventually exonerated Hoye; one overturned his criminal conviction, and the other struck down the Oakland "bubble law" as unconstitutional. Artigo provides a detailed play-by-play account of the political pro-abortion machinations that created the "bubble law” and the unexpected violator who defied it — a descendant of slaves and disciple of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Hoye not only scored a huge legal victory for the pro-life movement, he became one of the greatest pies in the face to attempts to legally sacramentalize abortion.

Critiques of Roe v. Wade

"Abuse of Discretion: The Inside Story of Roe v. Wade" (Encounter Books, 2013) by Clarke D. Forsythe.

Much can be said of Clarke D. Forsythe's incredibly detailed recount of how Roe was nothing but an embarrassing legal blunder by seven out of the nine justices of the 1973 Supreme Court. But let's just quote the review that Wall Street Journal's Jeffrey Rosen wrote back in 2013.

"Mr. Forsythe's generally fair-minded narrative about the internal dynamics on the Roe court will not change the minds of activists on either side of this intensely polarized debate. Nor can it tell the justices whether to overturn Roe, given that the case has been repeatedly reaffirmed over the past 40 years. But ‘Abuse of Discretion’ provides a cautionary tale about the political and constitutional hazards of unnecessarily broad Supreme Court decisions,” Rosen wrote in his review.

“Justice Harry Blackmun, the author of Roe, said in a 1991 interview that the court's decision to hear the abortion cases was a ‘serious mistake’ because the justices initially thought they were considering a narrow procedural question of when courts should intervene in pending criminal prosecutions. As a result, they decided the abortion cases without possessing a factual record about the medical, social and legal effects of various abortion restrictions,” Rosen continued.

“This gave a free-floating quality to the deliberations, which Mr. Forsythe documents in detail. Drawing on the private papers of the justices that have been released in the past two decades — including those of Blackmun, Potter Stewart and Byron White — he traces the horse-trading that occurred behind the scenes.”

Forsythe is the senior counsel at Americans United for Life Action (AULA.) So far, there is no account from the pro-choice side that has dared to refute his explanation of how the Supreme Court failed the country and the rule of law by legalizing abortion.

"A Private Choice: Abortion in America in the Seventies”  (Life Cycle Books, 1979) by John T. Noonan, Jr.

While Forsythe makes his case in a massive, 477-page book, John Thomas Noonan Jr., a brilliant Catholic scholar and federal judge, makes his argument in 192 pages divided into 21 chapters called “Inquiries.”  

In a review of Noonan's book published by the Marquette University's Linacre Quarterly journal in 1980, philosophy professor Patrick Lee accuses Noonan of being too nice to the "enemy." But at the same time, Lee recognizes that the book gives "a political and legal history of the abortion controversy, explaining where abortion got its political support, how its proponents and the press masked the ‘liberty’ of abortion with legend, and how the ‘liberty’ so expanded that its proponents forced the active cooperation of all in the abortion act.” 

Noonan's effort to reach a compromise may be dissapointing, but Lee highlights one of the strenghts of  “A Private Choice”: The proof that "mere legality of abortion was therefore not enough." 

Noonan points to the fact that "pro-abortionists demanded that government finance the exercise of this ‘liberty,’ even though the government finances the exercise of no other traditional, real liberty, such as of speech or of religion.”

Noonan continues: “Government does not buy printing presses or build churches for the poor. Supposedly, humanitarian concern for the poor motivated the demand for funding. Yet no one objected when the same Supreme Court ruled also that states can refuse welfare assistance to the fifth child of a mother on welfare.”

By this logic, “government must finance the poor's ‘right’ to abortion ... but not the poor child's right to eat,” Noonan writes. “How ‘humanitarian’ is a government that says, ‘We will help you, but first let us abort your children’?" 

Pro-life attorney: 'No court should be able to usurp state laws that protect human life'

Dorinda Chiappetta Bordlee, a New Orleans-based attorney. / Courtesy of Dorinda Chiappetta Bordlee.

Denver Newsroom, Nov 21, 2021 / 18:52 pm (CNA).

Part of a continuing series examining the U.S. Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a direct challenge to the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion throughout the United States.

On Dec. 1, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in the abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Many legal experts say the case presents the most momentous test yet of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide. At issue is the constitutionality of a 2018 Mississippi law banning most abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy.

As with any high-profile Supreme Court case, dozens of amicus curiae, or “friend of the court,” briefs have been filed both in support of and in opposition to the Mississippi law.

The following is a transcript of an interview with Dorinda Chiappetta Bordlee, a New Orleans-based attorney who strives to live out her Catholic faith by creating life-affirming options for pregnant women and their unborn children. She is one of 240 pro-life women to sign an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the Mississippi law at the heart of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, which will be decided in 2022. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Have you always considered yourself to be pro-life, or was there a moment or event that convinced you of the position?

I had gone through a period in college and law school where I took the position that I was personally pro-life, but believed a woman should have a right to choose. Then one of my closest friends — who was 30 years old at the time, I was maybe 27 —  shared with me about an abortion that she had had when she was 18 years old.

They had punctured her uterus and they sent her home, not even realizing they had done that. She had almost bled to death at home. Her sister had brought her to the ER, and they repaired her uterus. But her pregnancies after that were very high risk, and she almost lost the two babies that she had. Eventually, she was forced to have a hysterectomy. Not only was that abortion physically destructive to her, but even more so psychologically. It was just so traumatic. 

When I saw what abortion did to women — to my friend, my very close friend — the idea of being personally pro-life, but believing a woman should have a right to choose, that bubble popped because I could see that this is an industry preying on women. Abortions are kept a secret. And women are left to pay the price with our bodies, minds and spirits.

At the same time, I had just had my first child, my daughter. My heart had just burst open. I had no idea the incredible amount of life-changing love that comes from holding your child. I remember thinking if I had made a so-called ‘choice,’ that had taken the life of my daughter, then not only would this extraordinary child not be here but I, as a woman, would have been completely robbed of this extravagant yet unexpected joy. 

How did you come to the place where you are professionally?

After I became aware of the exploitive role of the abortion industry, I started writing letters to national pro-life organizations, offering my services as a lawyer. 

At night, it was almost like I was being antagonized by an unseen accuser who would make arguments for abortion, for the so-called “pro-choice” position. It was like I was being trained in my heart on how to answer those questions in a pro-woman, pro-child way. 

At the time, in 1994, the tagline of the pro-life movement was “abortion stops a beating heart,” and the pro-abortion tagline was “a woman’s right to choose.” What I came to understand was that pitting the child against the mother is not the right way to look at this. When a woman is pregnant, there is a unity of bodies, minds and spirits. What is good for the baby is good for the woman, and what hurts the baby hurts the woman. We have to be able to love them both, and to advocate for them both. I don't have to be pro-life or pro-woman, I can be both pro-woman and pro-life. 

After three nights of this, I finally told the Lord that I would write this “authentic woman” position in a letter to the editor. So I got up at three in the morning and I wrote an op-ed to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The letter addressed people who were being arrested for praying and offering alternatives in front of abortion clinics. 

What I pointed out was that these people were speaking on behalf of women and children. I wrote the op-ed and I faxed it in, because that's what you did at the time, and I finally got some sleep. And I remember a little voice in my ear saying, “Your life is never going to be the same again.”

The next day, the editor called me to verify that I had sent the letter, and they published it. That day, I received an invitation to attend the board meeting of New Orleans Right to Life, and they asked me to work with them on the passage of a law, going to the Louisiana legislature, and lobbying for what's called the Woman's Right to Know Act. 

That legislation requires abortion clinics to give women a booklet that is drawn up and created by the Department of Health. I ended up helping to write that booklet with doctors, and so forth. It shows the development of an unborn child in two-week increments. It also covers abortion’s medical risks, short-term and long-term, to a woman's health, including the increased risk of breast cancer. 

That pro-woman, pro-life act was passed and signed into law. To this day, when a woman goes into an abortion clinic in Louisiana, instead of just getting the sales pitch, she also gets the booklet with pictures of what her unborn baby looks like. She has to be told how far along she is in the pregnancy, so that she can look at the right pictures. Then she has to be given at least 24 hours before they do the procedure. 

My work on that law is how I ended up being hired by a national organization, Americans United for Life, and that law is now enacted in about 27 different states. In 2005, I helped co-found Bioethics Defense Fund to incorporate a Catholic understanding of the human person in all areas of biotechnology, including embryo stem cell research and end of life issues.

It's funny that the people who call themselves “pro-choice” — in an industry that calls itself “pro-choice” — would not support a law that gives women information, so that they can make a choice. You can't make a choice unless you have full information, and that’s what informed consent is. 

I was so naive at that time that I asked Planned Parenthood if they would join me in supporting this law. Not only did they not support it, they fought it tooth and nail. We would have two- and three-hour legislative hearings, and they by no means wanted the woman to get any information about the child, about the medical risks to the woman, about alternatives. Why would they not want that? Because it would hurt their bottom line of selling abortions. That's what this industry does. They sell death, they sell emotional destruction, they sell trauma, they sell despair.

How did it come about that you signed an amicus brief in this case? Have you signed amicus briefs in similar cases in the past? 

Since 1994, I've been so humbled to have the opportunity to actively work in the Louisiana legislature and to consult with legislatures around the country to enact laws that empower women to have information to choose life. Another example of that is ultrasound requirements, because what we learned was women thought that they were in a place where they could make a choice. When they do the ultrasound to see how far along they are in the pregnancy, the women ask to see the ultrasound on the screen and they're told no.

We're talking about basic information to connect women back to the reality that this is a child — that this is their child — that they are putting themselves at risk with this procedure and that there are alternatives. 

This brief laid out an argument about the fact that the abortion industry has disadvantaged women, and lured them into decisions that they then have to live with for the rest of their lives.

I signed this amicus brief as a client, and I co-filed a second amicus brief in this case as an attorney for Bioethics Defense Fund. Both briefs address how the abortion industry exploits women, but the separate brief goes into some procedural issues, like stare decisis, or whether the court should have to be bound by Roe v. Wade or Planned Parenthood v. Casey, just because they ruled that way in the past. The brief argues that wrongly decided, gravely immoral decisions have to be reviewed by the court, if you believe that the legal system is based on justice to human beings. 

Consider Dred Scott v. Sandford, in which the court said that people brought to the United States from Africa could be enslaved, and that they were not persons, for purposes of being able to have citizenship. That was a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. If we would say, “Well, that's what they said, so that's the law” then, we would still have people enslaved.

And it’s the same issue at stake in Dobbs. We're dealing with two classes of human beings here, the unborn children and their mothers, who are in vulnerable situations and can be exploited by a multimillion dollar industry. The amicus brief argues that the Supreme Court should reverse Roe because no court should be able to usurp state laws that protect human life.

Group prays outside of abortion clinic.  Catholic Diocese of Saginaw
<p>Group prays outside of abortion clinic. Catholic Diocese of Saginaw</p>

Many people are talking about what a “post-Roe” country could look like. What could the legal landscape of the United States look like, in terms of abortion law, if Roe is overturned?

If this court were to reverse Roe, it would basically mean that the court is saying abortion is an issue that should be regulated by state legislatures, just like any other crime or any other medical procedure. It should not have been decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade, where you had nine individuals setting abortion policy for the whole entire country. 

 So if it is returned to the states, then we have about 12 or 13 states, including my state of Louisiana, that have passed state constitutional amendments saying that there would be no constitutional protection for abortion, and abortion would become unlawful. It would become criminal for a doctor to perform an abortion. The woman would never be criminalized, because the law would view the woman as the second victim of abortion. That’s because it's such a risk to her, and often she is coerced by others into the abortion clinic. Those constitutional amendments would go into effect immediately.

All of the hard-core blue states, however many of them there are, would likely have liberal abortion laws. Sadly, it would be abortion on demand, if that’s the will of the people in those states. 

The other states in the middle would debate abortion law in their state legislatures. Women who were hurt by abortion would tell their stories. Doctors and nurses that were coerced by medical boards to participate in abortion against their will, against their conscience, against their faith, would tell their stories. So you would see a lot of debate, and a lot of people coming out with their stories.

There’s just a host of ways that this could turn out. But it's going to be a chance for all of us, especially as Catholics, to step up and be there for one another through our churches, through our health services, through pregnancy resource centers, through being there at the kitchen table talking to our own sons and daughters. 

Do you believe Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization has the potential of being a major turning point for women in the U.S., and the pro-life movement in the U.S.? 

Oh, absolutely yes. If this court puts abortion back into the proper stance of being in the democratic process, it will take away that false mask that abortion is just something that the court has to deal with. When it's back in your home court, then legislators and citizens have to step up and say, “OK, what am I willing to do so that I can be of service to my family or to my community?” That's how it should be. It's not easy, but this is what democracy looks like. 

This will put us back into that position that Catholics are so good at, which is providing health services, social services. We have food banks, we have Catholic hospitals, we have pro-life ministries for pregnant women. This will be our time to shine, and to tell women that they do have a choice, and they can choose life with all the support that they are entitled to as beloved daughters made in the image and likeness of God.

We hear a lot about the pro-life position being “anti-science” or “anti-intellectual.” Do you face this accusation often? If so, how do you respond?

What we have always done with all of the pro-life groups that I've consulted with is that when we have an initiative and we take it to the legislature or the courts, we lead with the science. We always make sure that we have medical doctors talking about the reality of abortion, or the impact on women's physical and psychological health. 

When doctors and scientists discuss abortion outside of the realm of politics, there's no question. This is, of course, a human being. That evidence is just unassailable. 

And so, the reality is that because the science is so clear that this is a human being, and because it's becoming more clear that abortion hurts women's health, being anti-science doesn't really become part of the debate. The debate is more about whether an industry can be regulated or not. This has gone from asking whether this is a child or not, to whether we should have an industry that gets to do what it wants to do, with no regulation and no protections for women.

What do you hope for the future of the pro-life movement? How can other faithful women support your efforts? 

My hope for the future of the pro-life movement is that it continues to be a movement of love in action. That's what I have seen all along. My vision of the future is a robust, young, innovative movement of people providing the services that are needed on the ground, at the local level. 

The Catholic Church talks about the principle of subsidiarity. For example, we hold to the principle that local school boards should be making the decisions for the schools because they know their unique needs. The same should happen in the pro-life movement. It needs to be local and tailor-made to the needs that are in each particular community.

Any other thoughts you would like to share? 

I would just encourage your readers to pray for the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, and to pray for our nation as this next phase comes into being. Pray that we can debate these important life-and-death issues with civility and respect, by speaking the truth in love. I realize that’s a big ask in today’s political climate.

We in the pro-life movement have to model that. The women who are being deceived by this industry are not the enemy. The women who even advocate for this industry are often post-abortive and wounded. And so I always encourage audiences to have compassion for those advocating for the pro-abortion position, because most of them honestly think that they're helping women by getting them out of a bad situation. They're just not aware of how harmful that escape of abortion is. They know not what they do, and our nation will be blessed if we can learn to forgive and to have compassion.

A post-Roe world is going to require a lot of prayer, and a lot of work. The pro-life movement is made up of extraordinary people who are beacons of God’s light and love. A post-Roe world is an opportunity for us to be love in action.