X

Browsing News Entries

Pontifical Academy for Life is betraying its founder, JPII biographer George Weigel says

George Weigel at the Angelicum in Rome, May 18, 2022. / Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA

ACI Prensa Staff, May 22, 2024 / 15:05 pm (CNA).

George Weigel, biographer of St. John Paul II, lamented that the Pontifical Academy for Life betrayed Dr. Jérôme Lejeune, its founding president, with a book that dissents from the pontiff’s encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life).

Weigel made the charge last week in his talk titled “St. John Paul II and Jérôme Lejeune: Two Lives at the Service of Life,” given as part of the second International Conference on Bioethics in Rome from May 17–18 in the Eternal City.

“For decades, the academy and the John Paul II Institute did creative, innovative work in developing a Catholic moral theology and pastoral practice capable of meeting the challenge of 21st-century assaults on the dignity and sanctity of life — and did so in ways that called the various expressions of the culture of death to conversion,” the author and theologian noted.

“Yet now,” Weigel continued, ”the academy has published a book with the ironic title ‘La Gioia della Vita,’ (‘The Joy of Life’) authored by theologians who can only be described honestly as dissenting from the authoritative teaching of Evangelium Vitae.”

“That book not only weakens the Catholic case for a culture of life that rejects the grave crimes against life identified by Evangelium Vitae. It does so in terms of an anti-biblical and anti-metaphysical anthropology that would have been completely foreign, indeed abhorrent, to both Jérôme Lejeune and John Paul II,” he pointed out.

In his presentation, Weigel further charged that “as the Pontifical Academy for Life betrays its founding president, Dr. Lejeune, by publishing and promoting such an ill-informed and poorly-argued book, so does the reconstituted John Paul II Institute, now largely bereft of students, betray the intention of the saint and scholar who founded it, and who called Catholic moral theology to a renewal that would not surrender to the zeitgeist, the spirit of the age, but rather convert it to right reason, true compassion, and the noble exercise of freedom.”

“And that is why we must hope that the deconstruction of the Pontifical Academy for Life and the John Paul II Institute for Studies of Marriage and the Family, a painful process that can be observed over the past decade, is halted, and then reversed, in the years ahead,” emphasized the eminent scholar of the life of St. John Paul II.

‘The Joy of Life’

On Feb. 9, the Vatican Publishing House published ”La Gioia della Vita” (”The Joy of Life”), whose prologue was written by Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, who sparked controversy for his statements about euthanasia in April 2023. The text contains “reflections on the challenges of contemporary theological ethics” by authors such as the priests Carlo Casalone and Maurizio Chiodi.

According to a March article in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, the book, “without revolutionizing Catholic doctrine, nevertheless outlines important openings on controversial topics such as contraception, medically assisted procreation, and assisted suicide.”

In January 2022, Casalone, a Jesuit priest, member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, and professor of moral theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, argued that the euthanasia bill in Italy was not contrary to the common good, a claim that was rejected by 60 pro-life organizations.

In August of that year, the academy published an interview with another of its members, Chiodi, who noted that Catholic teaching condemning contraceptives is open to “theological debate within the Church, even with the possibility of dissent.”

Another controversial book 

In a September 2022 open letter, nine international experts pointed out alleged serious errors disseminated in the Pontifical Academy for Life book titled Theological Ethics of Life: Scripture, Tradition, and Practical Challenges,” which promotes changing the teaching of the Catholic Church on the use of contraceptives.

Going back more than half a decade, a series of substantial changes has been made to the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family as well as to its statutes.

The changes, some of its former directors lamented in 2019, not only alienated the students but also are “a danger to maintaining the heritage” of the Polish saint.

Another consequence of the new statutes was “the drastic reduction of moral theology,” they lamented.

Who was Jérôme Lejeune?

Jérôme Lejeune (1926–1994) was the French doctor who discovered in 1958 the trisomy of chromosome pair 21, responsible for Down syndrome.

The discovery was published in the journal Nature in 1959. Since then Lejeune dedicated all his efforts to defending these children against attempts to exploit his discovery to justify the abortion of children with this condition.

This position meant that his candidacy for the 1970 Nobel Prize in Medicine was unsuccessful, despite the significance of his discovery.

Lejeune was the founding president of the Pontifical Academy for Life and his work contributed to the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. He is now in the process of beatification.

In his presentation, Weigel explained that the truths for the defense of life from conception to natural death do not need the gift of faith to be understood and “are not truths accessible to Catholics only.” 

“That is why the ongoing work of the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation is so important,” he stressed in reference to the institution that promotes the principles of the famous French geneticist.

To conclude, Weigel expressed his hope that “Jérôme Lejeune’s heroic virtues will be officially recognized by the Church, so that he may join his friend, John Paul II, among the ranks of the beatified and canonized.”

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

Archbishop shares key themes of upcoming International Eucharistic Congress in Ecuador 

Archbishop Alfredo José Espinoza Mateus, SDB, discusses the upcoming International Eucharistic Congress to be held Sept. 8–15, 2024, in Quito, Ecuador, on “EWTN News Nightly” May 21, 2024. / Credit: “EWTN News Nightly” screen shot

CNA Staff, May 22, 2024 / 14:23 pm (CNA).

Following the announcement that EWTN will be the designated channel for the 2024 International Eucharistic Congress in Quito, Ecuador, Sept. 8–15, the archbishop of Quito shared that the congress will emphasize commitment to “life” and “fraternity.”   

“I hope that it will be a congress that commits and leads to life, that it will not be a congress that remains in theoretical formulas but a congress that starts from reality, from the vision of the speakers that they have of reality, and that it carries their commitment of fraternity,” Archbishop Alfredo José Espinoza Mateus, SDB, told EWTN Rome reporter Benjamin Crockett in a segment on “EWTN News Nightly” on Tuesday. 

During a Vatican press conference, Espinoza noted that the Eucharistic congress coincides with a historical consecration 150 years ago, when Ecuador became the first nation to be consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1874. 

The 53rd International Eucharistic Congress’ theme is “fraternity to heal the world.” 

“The theme also evokes the title of the encyclical Fratelli Tutti and is inspired by the biblical text ‘You are all brothers and sisters,’” said Father Juan Carlos Garzón, secretary-general of the congress. “Therefore we are in ecclesial and universal harmony with the Holy Father and with Latin America.”

Pope Francis has appointed Cardinal Kevin Joseph Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family, and Life, as his special envoy for the congress. Although the Holy Father will himself not attend — he will be in Asia for his apostolic journey — thousands of faithful and pilgrims are expected to gather in Ecuador’s capital city.

“We are expecting 5,500 people, which is the capacity of the convention center in terms of the congress itself,” Espinoza noted. “As for the big celebrations, we expect thousands of people to participate — possibly 30,000 or 40,000 people.”

Pope Francis to palliative care symposium: Euthanasia is a ‘failure of love’

null / Lighthunter via Shutterstock.

CNA Staff, May 22, 2024 / 13:45 pm (CNA).

Speaking to an interfaith symposium on palliative care taking place in Toronto May 21–23, Pope Francis 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.”

“All who experience the uncertainties so often brought about by sickness and death need the witness of hope provided by those who care for them and who remain at their side,” the pope said in his message to the symposium.  

“In this regard, palliative care, while seeking to alleviate the burden of pain as much as possible, is above all a concrete sign of closeness and solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are suffering. At the same time, this kind of care can help patients and their loved ones to accept the vulnerability, frailty, and finitude that mark human life in this world.”

The International Interfaith Symposium on Palliative Care was organized by the Pontifical Academy for Life and the Canadian Episcopal Conference. The pope’s message was read on the opening night of the symposium by Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, apostolic nuncio to Canada. 

Quoting his 2020 encyclical Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis called euthanasia “a failure of love, a reflection of a ‘throwaway culture’ in which ‘persons are no longer seen as a paramount value to be cared for and respected.’”

He also repeated a conviction he has shared before that assisted suicide and euthanasia constitute a “false compassion.”

“‘[C]ompassion,’ a word that means ‘suffering with,’ does not involve the intentional ending of a life but rather the willingness to share the burdens of those facing the end stages of our earthly pilgrimage,” he explained.

“Palliative care, then, is a genuine form of compassion, for it responds to suffering, whether physical, emotional, psychological, or spiritual, by affirming the fundamental and inviolable dignity of every person, especially the dying, and helping them to accept the inevitable moment of passage from this life to eternal life.”

The Church has long supported palliative care, teaching that assisted suicide and euthanasia — which both involve the intentional taking of life — are never permissible. Withholding “extraordinary means” of medical treatment and allowing death to occur naturally can be morally permissible under Catholic teaching.

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.

“[O]ur religious convictions offer a more profound understanding of illness, suffering, and death, seeing these as part of the mystery of divine providence and, for the Christian tradition, a means toward sanctification,” the pope continued in his remarks to the symposium.

“At the same time, the compassionate actions and respect shown by dedicated medical personnel and caregivers have often created the possibility for those at the end of their lives to find spiritual comfort, hope and reconciliation with God, family members and friends.”

Bishop of Shanghai defends China’s religious freedom record at Vatican conference

Shanghai Bishop Shen Bin speaks to Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin at a Vatican conference on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. / Credit: Fabio Gonnella/EWTN

Rome Newsroom, May 22, 2024 / 13:14 pm (CNA).

The bishop of Shanghai defended the Chinese government’s religious freedom record at a Vatican conference on Tuesday in a speech that called for the Church in China to “follow a path of ‘sinicization.’”

One year after Bishop Joseph Shen Bin was unilaterally installed by Chinese authorities as bishop of Shanghai in violation of the Vatican-China deal, the controversial Chinese bishop was a featured speaker at a Vatican conference beside Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

The Shanghai bishop delivered a 15-minute speech in Mandarin to a packed auditorium at the Pontifical Urban University on the Janiculum Hill overlooking St. Peter’s Basilica.

“The policy of religious freedom implemented by the Chinese government has no interest in changing the Catholic faith but only hopes that the Catholic clergy and faithful will defend the interests of the Chinese people and free themselves from the control of foreign powers,” Shen Bin said in his speech.

In China, Catholic priests are only allowed to minister in recognized places of worship in which minors under the age of 18 are not allowed to enter. Religious groups in China have been barred from conducting any religious activities online without first applying and receiving approval from the provincial Department of Religious Affairs.

Since coming to power in 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping has mandated the “sinicization” of all religions in China, a move the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom called “a far-reaching strategy to control, govern, and manipulate all aspects of faith into a socialist mold infused with ‘Chinese characteristics.’”

The bishop of Shanghai echoed Xi’s call for “sinicization” of Christianity in his speech at the Vatican conference.

“Today the Chinese people are carrying out the great rebirth of the Chinese nation in a global way with Chinese-style modernization, and the Catholic Church in China must move in the same direction, following a path of ‘sinicization’ that is in line with Chinese society and culture today,” the bishop said.

Shanghai Bishop Shen Bin speaks to Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin at a Vatican conference on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. Credit: Courtney Mares/CNA
Shanghai Bishop Shen Bin speaks to Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin at a Vatican conference on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. Credit: Courtney Mares/CNA

Shen Bin is the president of a group called the Council of Chinese Bishops, a state-sanctioned bishops’ conference not recognized by the Vatican. He previously was the vice president of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association established by the Chinese Communist Party and under the control of the United Front Work Department.

He was consecrated as a Catholic bishop in 2010 with the consent of both the pope and Chinese authorities, according to the Vatican. He served as bishop of the Diocese of Haimen until April 2023, when he was transferred to Shanghai “without the involvement of the Holy See.” Pope Francis confirmed Shen Bin as the bishop of Shanghai three months later.

In his speech to the Vatican conference, Shen Bin quoted some of the statutes of the Chinese state-sanctioned bishops’ conference — a noteworthy choice given that Parolin had called for a Chinese bishops’ conference with “statutes appropriate to its ecclesial nature and pastoral mission” in the Vatican’s announcement of the pope’s acceptance of Shen Bin’s transfer last year. 

The Chinese bishop also used Scripture to defend his stance that “the development of the Church in China must follow a Chinese perspective.”

“In dealing with the relationship between church and state, religion and politics, we must return to what the Bible says: ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s,’” Shen Bin said.

The conference, titled “100 Years Since the ‘Concilium Sinense’: Between History and the Present,” was held in Chinese and Italian in the Great Hall of the Pontifical Urban University. 

The one-day event marked the 100th anniversary of a Church council that took place in Shanghai in 1924 and brought together 105 Catholic missionaries, bishops, and Chinese Catholics to establish a framework for a native Chinese hierarchy.

The Pastoral Commission for China and Agenzia Fides, the information service of the Pontifical Mission Societies, organized the conference, which also featured Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle and voices from mainland China as speakers. Pope Francis sent a video message to the conference in which he noted that Chinese Catholics have endured “times of patience and trial” in the past century.

None of the speakers at the Vatican conference spoke critically of human rights or religious freedom in China. 

Professor Zheng Xiaojun, the director of the Institute of World Religions at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, assured conference participants that religious freedom is fully guaranteed in China. 

According to the 2024 report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, religious freedom conditions in China deteriorated last year as the government intensified its implementation of its “sinicization” policy, which “requires groups to follow the CCP’s Marxist interpretation of religion, including by altering religious scriptures and doctrines to conform to that interpretation.”

Catholic-run Pennsylvania migrant facility criticized for ‘deplorable’ conditions

"We had to sue the Biden administration to get them to release these documents,” American Accountability Foundation President Thomas Jones told "EWTN News Nightly" anchor Tracy Sabol. “When the documents came out, we [understood] why we had to sue them.” / Credit: "EWTN News Nightly"/Screenshot

CNA Staff, May 22, 2024 / 10:53 am (CNA).

Documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests reveal what a federal government official described as “deplorable” conditions that were found in 2021 at a Catholic-run facility for migrant children in Pennsylvania. 

The emails were obtained via FOIA by the American Accountability Foundation (AAF) and published by CatholicVote last week. They show a U.S. Department of Homeland Security official relaying an April 2021 report from a worker out of Pennsylvania on the Journey of Hope facility in Pittsburgh. 

That facility is run by the Holy Family Institute, a nonprofit group that describes itself as “rooted in the rich tradition of Catholic social teaching and the heritage of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.” It works via contract with the U.S. government to house unaccompanied migrant children.

In the email, dated April 10, 2021, the Pennsylvania worker described the facility as “deplorable.”

“They haven’t cleaned a thing in the time it’s been set up,” the worker reported. “There is [expletive] smeared on the floors. We have begged their admins to have a cleaning service come in but they refuse. Say the 5-year-olds can clean themselves.” 

“Everyone on my floor has lice,” the report continued. ”They treated them then [put] them back in the same dirty sheets.”

“I thought one of the girls was pregnant,” the worker said. “The clinic refused to see her. Kids have 100 fever and aren’t seen by anyone. It’s bad.”

On Tuesday, Thomas Jones, the president of AAF, spoke with “EWTN News Nightly” anchor Tracy Sabol about the exposé. He described the findings as “appalling and shocking.”

Jones told Sabol that AAF has had a “longtime focus” on investigating migrant facilities in the U.S. He said it was “pretty complicated” to obtain the emails that revealed the conditions at the Pittsburgh facility.

“Unfortunately, we had to sue the Biden administration to get them to release these documents,” he said. “And I think when the documents came out, we [understood] why we had to sue them.”

“The conditions just weren’t just unclean,” Jones noted. “The whistleblower was recording things like there was fecal matter smeared across the wall, children had lice, toilets were overflowing. And what happened was kind of the bureaucratic finger-pointing instead of somebody doing the simple, humane thing to pick up a mop and clean this mess up.”

Jones said the group has not yet corroborated the claims from the government employee, but they decided that the report “needs to be on the street right away.” He added that it is “really incumbent upon the Department of Health and Human Services to do a full-scale audit with the assistance of the Department of Justice to make sure all of these facilities are up to standards, that this isn’t happening anywhere else.”

Reached via email on Tuesday, the Holy Family Institute did not comment on the allegations of the conditions at the facility. “Please direct your questions to the Federal Office of the Administration for Children and Families,” the institute said. That federal office did not respond to a similar query.

Pope Francis: Humility ‘is the source of peace in the world and in the Church’

Pope Francis waves to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Wednesday general audience on May 22, 2024, at the Vatican. / Credit: Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, May 22, 2024 / 09:03 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Wednesday closed his catechetical series on vices and virtues with a review of humility, a virtue that forms the “the base of Christian life” and is a source of peace for the Church and the world.

“Humility is everything. It is what saves us from the evil one and from the danger of becoming his accomplices. It is the source of peace in the world and in the Church. God has given us an example of this in Jesus and Mary, for our salvation and happiness,” the pope said to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday morning.

The pope’s reflection on humility closes a series on the four cardinal and three theological virtues that began last December. While humility is not part of the seven “heavenly virtues,” the pope underscored the importance of humility as forming the “base of Christian life.”

Pope Francis greets pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Wednesday general audience on May 22, 2024, at the Vatican. Credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis greets pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Wednesday general audience on May 22, 2024, at the Vatican. Credit: Vatican Media

Humility is the “great antagonist of the most mortal of sins, namely arrogance,” the pope said, stressing that it “restores everything to its correct dimension.” 

Francis buttressed this point by looking to the beatitudes, which come from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, with the pope reading aloud the first: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” 

The pope said the first beatitude serves as a foundation for the others. 

“Meekness, mercy, and purity of heart stem from that inner sense of smallness,” he said. “Humility is the gateway to all the virtues.” 

The Holy Father further developed this point by looking to Mary as a personification of the virtue of humility. 

“The chosen heroine is not a little queen who grew up coddled, but an unknown girl, Mary,” he said. 

Pope Francis greets pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Wednesday general audience on May 22, 2024, at the Vatican. Credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis greets pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Wednesday general audience on May 22, 2024, at the Vatican. Credit: Vatican Media

“Not even the most sacred truth of her life, being the Mother of God, becomes a reason for her to boast before men,” he continued. “In a world marked by the pursuit of appearance, of showing oneself to be superior to others, Mary walks decisively, by the sole power of God’s grace, in the opposite direction.”

Observing that Mary faced “difficult moments” and “days when her faith advanced in darkness,” the pope implored the faithful to emulate the Blessed Mother as her humility never wavered.

“She is always small, always without self-importance, always free of ambition. This smallness of hers is her invincible strength: It is she who remains at the foot of the cross while the illusion of a triumphant Messiah is shattered.”

At the end of the catechesis the pope renewed his regular appeal for peace, saying: “We need peace; the world is at war.”

“Let’s not forget the tormented Ukraine, which is suffering so much. Let’s not forget Palestine, Israel; may this war stop. Let’s not forget Myanmar and let’s not forget many countries at war.”

Abortion on the ballot: Which states will be voting in 2024

null / Credit: Shutterstock

CNA Staff, May 22, 2024 / 07:00 am (CNA).

The 2024 elections are less than six months away. While all eyes are on the presidential matchup, there are also numerous efforts by abortion activists to enshrine abortion rights in state codes and constitutions.

Nearly a dozen states are considering such measures ahead of the November elections. The efforts come after the 2022 repeal of Roe v. Wade, which returned to the states the power to legislate on abortion, resulting in nearly half of states enacting strong protections for babies in the womb.

CNA is tracking efforts by both pro-abortion and pro-life supporters to put abortion-related votes on the November 2024 ballot. See below for the latest updates on ballot measures around the country.

Arizona

The political action committee Arizona for Abortion Access said in April that it had gathered more than 500,000 signatures to see its pro-abortion constitutional amendment put before voters in November. The threshold for the activists was about 383,000 and the deadline for signatures is July 3.

The proposed amendment would allow late-term abortions up to “fetal viability” — about 22-24 weeks — or later in pregnancy if a doctor deems it necessary for a woman to end the life of her child. The secretary of state’s office will still need to verify the signatures before the initiative can appear on the ballot.

Abortion is currently restricted in Arizona until the 15th week of pregnancy.

The state has been the focus of pro-abortion and pro-life activists throughout 2024 due to fights over an 1860s-era abortion ban still on the books in the state. Democrats and some breakaway Republicans succeeded in repealing the law at the beginning of May. 

Arkansas 

The pro-abortion group Arkansans for Limited Government has proposed ballot language to the attorney general that could result in a vote on abortion in November.

The originally proposed state constitutional amendment, an initial draft of which was rejected by the state attorney general in November, would forbid the state from restricting “access to abortion within 18 weeks of conception, or later in pregnancy in cases of rape, incest, [and] in the event of a fatal fetal anomaly.” 

Arkansans for Limited Government did not respond to a query asking if they had secured enough signatures to put the amendment before voters in November. The group was still calling for signatures on its Facebook page last week; nearly 100,000 signatures must be gathered for the proposal to reach the ballot.

David Cox, the assistant director of the Little Rock-based Family Council, told CNA last year that “if passed, the amendment’s language would effectively erase decades of good, pro-life laws” in the state.

In Arkansas, abortion is illegal in nearly all cases except if a doctor determines that one is necessary to save the mother’s life.

Colorado

Advocates on both sides of the abortion debate in Colorado circulated dueling ballot proposals for 2024. For either amendment to reach the ballot, proponents needed to gather more than 124,000 signatures.

The pro-life initiative, which would have been added to the state statutory code, would stipulate that a living human child “must not be intentionally dismembered, mutilated, poisoned, scalded, starved, stabbed, given toxic injections known to cause death, left to die of the elements for lack of warmth or nutrition,” or otherwise killed. 

It failed to gather enough signatures before its April 18 deadline.

The pro-abortion measure, meanwhile, would affirm state laws that are already in place that allow abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. 

Its language would amend the state constitution to say that the government “shall not deny, impede, or discriminate against the exercise of the right to abortion, including prohibiting health insurance coverage for abortion.” 

The Colorado Secretary of State’s office said last week that the measure had secured enough signatures to qualify for the 2024 ballot.

Abortion is presently legal at all stages of pregnancy in Colorado, one of only a handful of states that allow abortion at any time.

Florida

The pro-abortion group Floridians Protecting Freedom successfully gathered enough signatures to place its Right to Abortion Initiative constitutional amendment on the November ballot.

The proposed language of the measure would add a right to abortion before the point of “viability” to the state’s constitution if 60% of voters approve. It would also allow for abortions later in pregnancy if a woman’s doctor deems it necessary to end the life of her child. 

The Florida attorney general in October 2023 had asked the state Supreme Court to block the effort, arguing that the initiative “does not satisfy the legal requirements for ballot placement.”

The court’s justices ruled in April that the measure could appear on the ballot. 

In Florida, abortion is currently illegal after six weeks of pregnancy with limited exceptions. 

Maryland

The proposed Maryland Right to Reproductive Freedom Amendment would cement an abortion “right” in the state’s constitution and make it impossible for pro-life laws to be enacted. The amendment was added to the ballot by the state Legislature after passing by a supermajority vote (60%). It will ultimately be decided by the state’s voters on Nov. 5.

Maryland state laws on abortion were extreme even before Roe v. Wade was overturned on June 24, 2022. In April of that year, the Legislature allotted $3.5 million per year for “abortion care” training there.

The Maryland Board of Public Works, meanwhile, in June of this year approved nearly $1.3 million in emergency spending to pay for a stockpile of two abortion drugs in response to a lawsuit that could take one of the drugs off the market.

Maryland currently places no gestational limits on abortion. Parental notice is required for a minor to have an abortion.

Missouri

The pro-abortion group Missourians for Constitutional Freedom announced in May that it had turned in more than 380,000 signatures to place its pro-abortion initiative on the November ballot. The measure, if passed, would amend the state constitution to establish a broad right to abortion.

A countermeasure, one that would have seen abortion legalized in the state, had been proposed by the Missouri Women & Family Research Fund. That group, which was launched by longtime Republican staffer Jamie Corley, argued on its website that the state should provide “reasonable exceptions for abortion care, protection for birth control, and immunity for mothers and doctors against criminal prosecution.” 

To that end the group submitted multiple proposed constitutional amendments to the state in August. Yet the group suspended its campaign in February, with Corley stating that the dual pro-abortion campaigns could “create confusion and potentially split the vote.”

Abortion is illegal in Missouri with narrow exceptions for the mother’s life and/or health.

Montana

In April, the Montana Supreme Court said pro-abortion activists there could gather signatures to put a pro-abortion state constitutional amendment on the November ballot. 

The measure, if passed, would “amend the Montana Constitution to expressly provide a right to make and carry out decisions about one’s own pregnancy, including the right to abortion.”

Activists need to gather more than 60,000 signatures by June 21 to place the measure on the ballot.

Nebraska

The pro-abortion group Protect Our Rights filed language with the secretary of state that could see abortion on the ballot in November. More than 87,000 signatures must be gathered for the proposal to reach the ballot. 

The measure, if approved, would “amend the Nebraska Constitution to provide all persons the fundamental right to abortion without interference from the state or its political subdivisions until fetal viability.” 

Backers of that measure did not clarify to CNA if they’ve reached enough signatures to qualify the measure for the November ballot. The deadline is July 5.

A proposed pro-life amendment, meanwhile, would amend the state constitution to outlaw abortion “in the second and third trimesters” except in cases of medical emergencies or when the baby is the product of rape or incest. Advocates with that amendment similarly did not respond when asked if they had secured enough signatures.

The state earlier this year limited abortion to 12 weeks into pregnancy

Nevada

The pro-abortion coalition group Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom said in April of this year that it had reached “more than 50%” of its goal of collecting enough signatures to put a state constitutional amendment on the November ballot. Supporters of the initiative need 102,000 valid signatures by June 26 to qualify for the ballot.

The measure would affirm current extreme laws on abortion and add to the state constitution a “fundamental right to abortion” up to the point of “fetal viability.” It would also allow for abortions later in pregnancy if a woman’s doctor deems it necessary to end the life of her child. 

The group has already met the threshold necessary to place the measure on the ballot, but an activist told local media that abortion advocates “want to make sure all of our data is absolutely correct” and are thus collecting double the number of signatures required. The pro-abortion group did not respond to a query from CNA asking whether it had met its signature goal since April. 

Earlier this year Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo, a Republican, signed into law a measure to protect abortionists who violate abortion laws in other states and prevent health care licensing boards from disqualifying a person due to his or her participation in providing abortions.

Abortion is legal up until about 24 weeks of pregnancy in the state, or even later in pregnancy if the life of the mother is at risk. 

New York

In New York, lawmakers initially succeeded in getting a proposed amendment on the 2024 ballot. It would have added a so-called “right” to abortion to the state constitution in the form of an equal rights amendment. 

The amendment was added to the ballot by the state Legislature after passing by a majority vote in both chambers in two consecutive legislative sessions, as required by law. The proposal stipulated in part that state residents “shall [not] be denied equal rights under the laws [of the state]” on the basis of “pregnancy.” 

But a state Supreme Court judge ruled in May that the measure could not appear on the ballot in November because the state did not follow the proper procedure in adding it. The state has vowed to appeal the decision. 

Abortion is legal in New York through “viability,” though it is largely available after viability as well, given exceptions for the mother’s “mental health.” 

South Dakota

The South Dakota secretary of state confirmed in May that a pro-abortion amendment would appear before voters on the November 2024 ballot. 

The measure would establish “a constitutional right to an abortion” and allow the fatal procedure through all nine months of pregnancy. Signature-gathering was spearheaded by the pro-abortion group Dakotans for Health. 

Abortion is illegal in South Dakota barring exceptions to save the mother’s life.

Catholic high school decades in the making breaks ground in northern Colorado

The graduating senior class pioneered St. John Paul II High School in Colorado as freshmen. The 12 students are the first to have gone through all four years of the St. John Paull II program. / Credit: Monica Yee/St. John Paul II High School

CNA Staff, May 22, 2024 / 06:00 am (CNA).

After operating out of a parish for four years, a long-anticipated Catholic high school in northern Colorado celebrated graduation on its newly broken ground last weekend.

The seniors who pioneered St. John Paul II High School as freshmen studying at Our Lady of the Valley Parish four years ago graduated on the 44 acres that will be home to the school’s future building. These 12 students — the first graduates to have gone through the entire program — joined the founding headmaster, Blaise Hockel, in breaking ground days before graduation. 

The executive committee breaks ground at graduation. Credit: Monica Yee/St. John Paul II High School
The executive committee breaks ground at graduation. Credit: Monica Yee/St. John Paul II High School

Local Coloradans have been waiting decades for a Catholic high school in the Fort Collins area, miles away from any Catholic high school. Forty-nine years before St. John Paul II opened its doors in Windsor, Colorado, on Aug. 17, 2020, local Catholics sent a letter to the archdiocese requesting a Catholic high school. 

As the closest Catholic high school in a 45-mile radius, St. John Paul II draws students from a 60-mile radius, even bringing students in from Cheyenne, Wyoming.

“For many Catholic families in the area, including my own and my wife’s, when our families came into northern Colorado, they were hearing whispers and rumblings about a Catholic high school opening up,” Hockel told CNA in a phone call. 

Now, some 53 years later, the long-awaited school will have its own building, grounds, and even a chapel. 

“When we started this process, we very intentionally wanted to build something that was beautiful, that would lead to families, to students, to the people of northern Colorado seeing it as the heart of the Church in northern Colorado,” Hockel said. 

Edward Mulholland, a professor at Benedictine College, was the commencement speaker for the St. John Paul II High School graduation. Mulholland directs the Great Books program at Benedictine. Credit: Monica Yee/St. John Paul II High School
Edward Mulholland, a professor at Benedictine College, was the commencement speaker for the St. John Paul II High School graduation. Mulholland directs the Great Books program at Benedictine. Credit: Monica Yee/St. John Paul II High School

The model plan shows landmark paintings such as “The Creation of Adam” by Michelangelo, while the chapel features an altar rail, elegant altar, and accents of blue paint on the vaulted ceiling and walls. 

“When you walk into a space where you’re supposed to be pursuing the good, and it is a bland beige, it’s really hard to aspire,” Hockel continued. “It’s hard for teachers to inspire. It’s hard for students to aspire towards greater things. So we’re trying to design this building not like so many of the other things that have been slapped up over the last couple of decades.” 

Averi Ulibarri, valedictorian of the senior class, gives a speech at graduation. Credit:  Monica Yee/St. John Paul II High School
Averi Ulibarri, valedictorian of the senior class, gives a speech at graduation. Credit: Monica Yee/St. John Paul II High School

The new building is set to be completed in time for the 2025-2026 academic year. Hockel said the school has received an “unprecedented” amount of support in the most necessary area — more than $25 million in funds for the school.

“At the beginning of the process, we were working with a major consulting firm who told us that we would be able to raise a certain amount of dollars and no more,” he said. “And we tripled the number of dollars that we raised within four months of going out, asking the community for support.”

“The experts have been at a loss to explain why this is going as well as it is,” Hockel continued. “But the answer is pretty simple. It’s a combination of a desire of the people for the good for their community and the will of God, and nothing short of it.”

The school began with 26 students in 2020 and has nearly doubled in size; Hockel anticipates more growth.

“As we’ve closed on our land here … we’re going to be building our first phase of the school with the anticipation of growing to 180 students in the next two years, and then growing up to 250 while we’re in our Phase 1 plan,” he explained. “Then as we look to our next two phases across the next 10 to 20 years, we’ll look to increase that number to a population of about 400 to 450 students and maxing out at, within the next 30 years, a 600-person campus.”

St. John Paul II offers “a four-year program steeped in traditional classical education” that emphasizes “a holistic education,” Hockel noted. 

The classical education model at St. John Paul II emphasizes primary sources, the early Church Fathers, as well as a “very robust” math and science program.

Father Gregg Pederson and Father Crispan Kibambe celebrated the baccalaureate Mass in a tent on the new grounds of St. John Paul II High School. Pearson is pastor of Our Lady of the Valley Parish, which hosted the school for four years. Kibambe is the parochial vicar at St. Mary Parish. Credit: Monica Yee/St. John Paul II High School
Father Gregg Pederson and Father Crispan Kibambe celebrated the baccalaureate Mass in a tent on the new grounds of St. John Paul II High School. Pearson is pastor of Our Lady of the Valley Parish, which hosted the school for four years. Kibambe is the parochial vicar at St. Mary Parish. Credit: Monica Yee/St. John Paul II High School

“The students read primary sources, they read Church Fathers,” Hockel said. “They go through a very robust math and science program so that they can get up into modern calculus and into modern physics, with the anticipation that by the time they graduate from our school, they’re prepared to be well-formed young men and women if they choose to pursue college or if they choose to pursue trade, that regardless, they are well-formed citizens.”

“We’re built on the principle that we should give to the children a holistic education, which is built around their mind, around their body, around their communal development, around their spiritual development, so that ultimately they can fulfill that call of the Great Commission and go out and make disciples of all nations,” he added.

Faith and Politics Clash in Mexican Presidential Debate

Our Lady of Guadalupe took center stage during the presidential debate in Mexico this week after candidate Xochitl Galvez accused her opponent, Claudia Sheinbaum, of "political opportunism" for wearing a skirt with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, "even though you don't believe in her or in God."

5 Biblical Warnings We All Must Heed

A warning is put in place to alert a person of any possible or impending danger or negative circumstances. A warning can be seen as cautionary advice, and advance notice of something that is coming. However you look at it, warnings are usually important signs to pay attention to.