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A mobile abortion clinic at a church? Planned Parenthood is considering just that.

null / Glynnis Jones/Shutterstock.

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Oct 4, 2022 / 16:15 pm (CNA).

Planned Parenthood is responding to state abortion restrictions by trying something new: an abortion clinic on wheels. It will send its first one — a 37-foot abortion RV — to Illinois, where it will offer abortions at various locations by the end of this year.

As the nation’s largest abortion provider maps the best routes for the mobile clinic, it is considering churches, as “potential stopping-off points,” NPR reported Monday.

The mobile clinic could be the first of many. Planned Parenthood is keeping open the possibility of creating additional ones in the future, the outlet reported officials as saying. The news follows the Supreme Court’s June decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and leave abortion policy up to the states.

The abortion RV will drive along the border of Illinois — a state with liberal abortion laws — to cater to pregnant women in neighboring states that are restricting abortion after Roe. More specifically, the clinic will travel near the borders of southeastern Missouri, western Kentucky and northeastern Tennessee while staying in Illinois, according to the AP.

A pro-life group in that state condemned the decision.

“Planned Parenthood’s announcement of a mobile abortion unit that will travel the southern portion of Illinois is further proof that the abortion industry will stop at nothing to expand the killing of preborn children at the expense of women’s health and safety,” ​​Amy Gehrke, the executive director of Illinois Right to Life, responded in a press release Tuesday.

This year, the clinic will hand out abortion pills up to 11 weeks’ gestation, NPR reported. Next year, it plans to offer surgical abortions.

“Rather than being the simple solution abortion advocates claim, chemical abortions often lead to massive bleeding and pain,” Gehrke cautioned about the abortion pills. “Women may also have to dispose of their child’s developing body. Finally, chemical abortions have an alarmingly high complication rate, four times that of surgical abortion.”

In 2021, the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research arm for SBA Pro-Life America, cited a study looking at more than 42,000 abortions in Finland from 2000 to 2006, which found chemical abortion has a complication rate four times greater than that of surgical abortion. 

The FDA first approved mifepristone, which is paired with another drug called misoprostol, for earlier abortions in 2000. It is accepted for use up to 10 weeks’ gestation.

Dr. Colleen McNicholas, chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis office, told NPR that women will consume mifepristone, the first drug, at the clinic. Women will swallow the other, misoprostol, on their own. 

“The mobile abortion clinic is a way to reduce travel times and distances in order to meet patients at the Illinois border,” McNicholas told the AP. 

The RV will feature a small waiting area, laboratory, and two exam rooms. 

Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri did not respond with comment by time of publication.

Maryland priest accused of sexual abuse of minors placed on administrative leave

Parishioners of Holy Cross Church in Garrett Park, Maryland, learned in a Sept. 30, 2022, email that their pastor was suspended over allegations of sexual abuse of minors. / Farragutful|Wikipedia|CC BY-SA 3.0

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Oct 4, 2022 / 15:15 pm (CNA).

A priest at a Catholic church in Garrett Park, Maryland, has been placed on administrative leave after he was accused of sexually abusing minors before he became a priest.

The Archdiocese of Washington (ADW) informed parishioners at Holy Cross Catholic Church in a Sept. 30 emailed letter that their pastor, Father Robert P. Buchmeier, had been suspended from his duties and is no longer living at the rectory. Buchmeier has not been charged criminally in connection with any of the allegations.

In the letter, Father Anthony Lickteig, the ADW’s episcopal vicar for clergy, explained that the Archdiocese of Arlington, Virginia, notified the ADW of the accusations against Buchmeier and noted that the abuse was alleged to have taken place decades before in another diocese “prior to his ordination to the priesthood.”

The letter did not specify the number of incidents of abuse cited in the accusation.

WTOP news reported that an email from the principal at Holy Cross Catholic School, which serves children from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, said that the alleged sexual abuse took place in Virginia.

The letter indicated that the accusations were first made to the Diocese of Arlington and advised anyone with more information to contact the Alexandria police.

Alexandria police could not be reached for comment at the time of publication. The Catholic Standard reported that as of Oct. 4, charges had not been filed against the priest.

Buchmeier was ordained in 1991 after studies at Blessed John XXIII Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts. Before entering the seminary, he spent 15 years of commissioned service in the U.S. Army as a Medical Service Corps officer.

He was appointed pastor of Holy Cross by Cardinal Donald Wuerl in 2015. Following his ordination, he served as a parochial vicar at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Clinton, Maryland.

He then served at the following Maryland churches: St. Bernardine of Siena Parish, Suitland; Christ the King Parish, Silver Spring; St. Mary Parish, Bryantown; and St. John the Evangelist Parish, Clinton. As a pastor, he has served at St. Nicholas Parish, Laurel, from 1998 to 2005; St. Columba Parish, Oxon Hill, from 2005 to 2011; and Sacred Heart Parish in La Plata from 2011 until his appointment to Holy Cross.

This is a developing story.

Medical groups ask DOJ to investigate critics of hospitals’ gender surgeries on children

Boston Children's Hospital / JosephBarillari|Wikipedia|CC BY-SA 3.0

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Oct 4, 2022 / 14:30 pm (CNA).

Three top medical groups have called on Biden’s justice department to investigate and prosecute activists and journalists who report on hospitals that perform irreversible gender surgeries on children. 

The American Medical Association (AMA), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to launch an investigation on Monday in a letter saying the backlash against children’s hospitals that perform gender surgeries amounted to “attacks.” 

“Children’s hospitals, academic health systems, and physicians are being targeted and threatened for providing evidence-based health care,” the letter read.

The letter claims that hospitals and medical staff who came under fire this summer for operating children’s gender clinics have faced harassment on social media and threats of violence in the form of emails, phone calls, and protestors. The letter also referred to a bomb threat that was later discovered to be false.

“The attacks are rooted in an intentional campaign of disinformation, where a few high-profile users on social media share false and misleading information targeting individual physicians and hospitals, resulting in a rapid escalation of threats, harassment, and disruption of care across multiple jurisdictions,” the letter states. 

The groups urged the Department of Justice to “investigate” and “prosecute” anyone responsible for spreading “disinformation” about gender programs. 

“We now urge your office to take swift action to investigate and prosecute all organizations, individuals, and entities responsible,” they wrote. 

Children’s hospitals received backlash for their own content 

One of the hospitals in question is Boston Children’s, which became infamous on social media earlier this summer when activists Libs of TikTok and Chris Elston, also known as “Billboard Chris,” highlighted the hospital’s own videos and website promoting its “first of a kind” gender clinic for kids.

Elston pointed out that the hospitals were coming under fire for their own published content.

“All I do is write the simple but horrific truth about what these clinics are doing to kids,” Elston told CNA.

“I’ve shared content which children’s hospitals themselves produced, and then tried to hide. It’s the words of their own doctors which cause the outrage.” 

Back in August, Elston shared screenshots on Twitter of Boston Children’s website, which said it offered double mastectomies for children as young as 15 and sterilizing genital surgeries for patients as young as 17.

After the hospital’s own videos describing these procedures went viral online, Boston Children’s removed the reference to 17-year-olds and updated its website to say patients must be 18 years of age to qualify. 

The hospital also deleted its entire YouTube playlist of at least 40 videos featuring surgeons describing the procedures.

Conservative activists such as Chris Rufo and Matt Walsh have also publicized the video playlists and websites of other children’s hospitals across the country that offer gender surgeries for children. 

Rufo took to Twitter on Monday, saying: “If ‘gender-affirming care’ is so good, the activists and doctors who promote it — and profit from it — should defend their practices in the realm of public opinion.”

Former transgender teen Chloe Cole replied, “‘Gender affirming care’ is so great that we need to violate 1A rights to convince people of how great it is!!!”

Boston Children’s Hospital did not respond to CNA’s request for comment. 

In the letter, the medical groups also called on tech companies, including Twitter, TikTok, and Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, to censor what they called “disinformation.” 

“[We] ask the platforms to take bolder action when false information is shared about specific institutions and physicians” and “do more to prevent coordinated campaigns of disinformation,” the organizations wrote.

Elston told CNA he has already experienced these effects.

“Twitter is already censoring me, requiring people to enter a birthdate before viewing my account, and flagging all media as ‘sensitive content.’ They’ve also made my account unsearchable,” he said.

But Elston and other activists fighting against gender transitions for children are not deterred. 

“Trying to silence us only amplifies our voices,” he said. “If the AMA and AAP want the outrage over gender clinics to cease, there is only one solution: stop transitioning kids.”

When CNA reached out for comment, the AMA referred to a joint press release put out by the three organizations in lieu of a comment. 

AMA president Dr. Jack Resneck said in the release, “We condemn groups that promote hate-motivated intolerance and toxic misinformation that can lead to grave real-world violence and extremism and jeopardize patients’ health outcomes.” 

“The AMA will continue to work with federal, state, and local law enforcement officials to develop and implement strategies that protect hardworking, law-abiding physicians and other health care workers from senseless acts of violence, abuse, and intimidation,” he added.

The AAP, CHA, and DOJ did not respond to CNA’s requests for comment.

U.S. bishops nominate candidates for conference president and vice president

USCCB Fall Meeting 2021 / CNA

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Oct 4, 2022 / 11:41 am (CNA).

The U.S. bishops released on Tuesday the names of the 10 candidates nominated to be the next president and vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

An election will be held during the bishops’ Fall General Assembly in Baltimore Nov. 14–17 to replace the outgoing president, Archbishop Jose H.Gomez of Los Angeles, and vice president, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit, whose three-year terms end at the conclusion of the meeting.

The nominees, chosen by their fellow bishops, are as follows:

  • Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, Archdiocese for the Military Services

  • Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, Diocese of Arlington, Virginia

  • Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut

  • Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, Archdiocese of Oklahoma City

  • Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, Archdiocese of San Francisco

  • Archbishop Paul D. Etienne, Archdiocese of Seattle

  • Bishop Daniel E. Flores, Diocese of Brownsville, Texas

  • Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, Archdiocese of San Antonio

  • Archbishop William E. Lori, Archdiocese of Baltimore

  • Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana

According to the bylaws of the USCCB, the president will first be elected by a simple majority vote of those present and voting. Then an election will be held for the position of vice president, with the remaining nominees making up the slate for that office. If no candidate receives a majority of the votes, a second vote would be taken. If no candidate emerges with a majority a runoff would take place between the two top vote-getters.

The bishops will also vote for new chairmen of six USCCB standing committees. The nominees are as follows:

Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance

Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, Diocese of Springfield, Illinois

Bishop Alfred A. Schlert, Diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania

Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs

Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania

Bishop Peter L. Smith, auxiliary bishop, Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon

Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson, Archdiocese of Indianapolis

Bishop William D. Byrne, Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts

Committee on International Justice and Peace 

Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez, Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Bishop Abdallah Elias Zaidan, MLM, Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon

Committee on Protection of Children and Young People 

Bishop Barry C. Knestout, Diocese of Richmond, Virginia

Bishop Elias R. Lorenzo, OSB, auxiliary bishop, Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey

Committee for Religious Liberty

Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, Archdiocese of San Francisco

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana

Details emerge about Father James Jackson's alleged pre-trial release violations

Father James Jackson, FSSP, appearing at a Nov. 15 arraignment before the Rhode Island District Court. / Joe Bukuras/CNA

Providence, R.I., Oct 3, 2022 / 18:25 pm (CNA).

Father James Jackson, a Rhode Island priest who was arrested in October on federal and state child pornography charges, admitted Monday in federal court that the government could prove that he violated certain conditions of his pre-trial release.

The conditions of Jackson’s pretrial release were set in November 2021 before he was allowed to leave Rhode Island to reside with a family member in Kansas. He was arrested in July by the U.S. Marshals in Kansas. He is currently in the custody of the U.S. Marshals at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, Rhode Island. 

In his Oct. 3 hearing in U.S. District Court in Providence, Jackson admitted that the government could prove that he violated the condition prohibiting him from “possessing any materials including videos, magazines, photographs, computer generated depictions or any other forms that depict sexually explicit conduct involving children,” according to James Rosenberg, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Rhode Island.

John C. Calcagni III, Jackson’s lawyer, did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

Jackson, wearing a brown prison uniform, also admitted that the government could prove that he violated the condition prohibiting him from having access to more than one internet-connected device, Rosenberg said. 

In addition, Jackson admitted that the government could prove that he violated the condition requiring him to “notify his supervising probation officer of all computers or electronic data storage devices where he was residing and to report any additional acquisitions,” he added.

“Additionally, he further admitted that the government could establish probable cause that he committed a new crime, to wit, possession of child pornography, while on pretrial release," Rosenberg said.

“To be very clear — he did NOT admit that he committed the new crime, only that the government could establish probable cause that he did,” Rosenberg wrote CNA in an email.

Rosenberg said that Jackson “conceded that he should be detained pending further proceedings.”

It’s unclear when the next hearing will be. In addition to federal proceedings, Jackson is also being investigated by a local police department in Kansas.

Around the time of his arrest in July, Overland Park Police Major James Sutterby told CNA that the department had an ongoing investigation into Jackson but he would not elaborate on the details. Sutterby could not be reached for further comment Monday.

Jackson's Rhode Island charges came after the state police had executed a search warrant Oct. 31 at his parish and arrested Jackson after determining that he was the owner of large amounts of child sex abuse material found on an external hard drive in an office area near his bedroom, an affidavit states. 

Jackson was originally charged with both federal and state offenses, but the state charges were dropped as a procedural move in January. 

The federal charges of distributing child pornography are punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison, with a minimum mandatory term of incarceration of five years. Possessing and accessing with intent to view child pornography, his other federal charge, is punishable by up to 20 years of incarceration. His trial is set for November.

Editor's note: This story was updated on Oct. 3 to correct the date for Jackson's trial. It is on the trial calendar for November, not September.

New EWTN poll: Most Catholics don’t want Biden to run for a second term

President Joe Biden speaks during the Phoenix Awards Dinner at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 1, 2022. / Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Oct 3, 2022 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

Most Catholics believe that President Joe Biden, the nation’s second Catholic president, should not run for a second term in 2024, according to a new EWTN News/RealClear Opinion Research Poll of likely Catholic voters released Monday.

The poll, conducted Sept. 12–19, shows Biden continues to face challenges in garnering support among Catholic voters in the run-up to Election Day on Nov. 8. In particular, the poll indicates waning support for the president among Hispanic Catholic voters, traditionally a strong source of support for the Democratic Party.

Among other highlights of the poll, Catholic voters rank inflation and the economy as the most critical issues facing the country, and most say they are very concerned about the state of education, especially after the lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Much of the poll’s results provide a snapshot of how Catholic voters assess Biden’s performance after two years in office.

When asked how they feel Biden is handling his job as president, nearly 52% of Catholic voters said they either disapproved (5%) or strongly disapproved (47%); around 46% either approved (32%) or strongly approved (14%). Notably, the strong disapproval number was significantly higher than strongly approved. Only 2% of voters had no opinion.

A majority of Catholics (58%) feel that Biden should not run for a second term in 2024, while only 22% support a possible re-election bid; 19% of Catholics are not sure. Most Catholics (67%-27% with 10% not sure) also do not want former President Donald Trump to run for president again in 2024.

The president’s challenges may also be reflected in the fact that the survey found Democrats trailing Republicans by four points in the generic ballot for Congress. When asked if they would vote for a Democrat or Republican candidate, almost 49% of Catholics would vote for the Republican candidate while 45% would choose the Democrat, with the rest not sure. This margin underestimates the Republican advantage in the race for control of Congress since Democrat voters are more geographically clustered.

The well-documented statistical disparity that exists between Mass-attending Catholics and those who attend only yearly or never remains in this latest poll.

Among Catholics who attend Mass once a week or more often, 75% say they would vote for the Republican candidate, while 54% of those who attend a few times a year or less would vote for the Democrat candidate.

Catholics are also divided on the president’s job approval. A substantial majority of Catholics (75%) who attend Mass at least weekly or more disapprove of the president’s handling of his job while his approval rating among Catholics who attend Mass a few times a year or less stands at 53%.

The poll, conducted by the Trafalgar Group, surveyed 1,581 Catholic voters and has a margin of error of 2.5%. The questionnaire was administered using a mix of six different methods, including live phone calls, text messages, and email.

A third and final EWTN News/RealClear poll will focus on the Catholic vote in the days just before the midterms.

EWTN
EWTN

Catholics divided on abortion

On the issue of abortion, the survey of Catholic voters taken after the release of the Supreme Court’s June 24 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, found that Catholics remain very divided even as a massive majority (87%) wants various restrictions on abortion.

Surveyed on whether they agree or disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Catholic voters are almost evenly split, with 48% saying that abortion should be a federally protected right and 46% saying each state should determine its own abortion policy; 6% were not sure. Still, 13% of Catholics say abortion should be available to a woman at any time she wants one during her entire pregnancy while 8% say that abortion should never be permitted under any circumstances.

Overall, most Catholics favor restrictions ranging from abortion should be allowed only in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother, 27%; until 15 weeks, when the baby can feel pain, 20%; only during the first six months of pregnancy, 13%; until a heartbeat can be detected, 10%; or only to save the life of the mother, 9%. Catholics who attend Mass once a week or more favor the overturn of Roe by 75%, while 50% of those who attend a few times a year or less believe abortion should be a federally protected right.

Catholics are similarly divided on whether they would be more or less likely to support a candidate who agrees with the overturn of Roe v. Wade, with 42% saying they would be more likely and 42% saying they would be less likely; 16% are not sure.

On the recent controversy surrounding pregnancy resource centers, some two-thirds of Catholic voters support public funding for these centers, where pregnant women can seek help with alternatives to abortion, while 18% are opposed and the remainder are not sure. Likewise, 62% say that political and church leaders should be speaking out against the recent attacks and acts of vandalism on pregnancy resource centers, compared with 15% who say they should not and another 23% who are not sure.

Inflation, jobs are major worries

Abortion, however, is not the most important issue to Catholic voters as they look to the midterms. While a major element of the Democrat campaign for the 2022 election, abortion trails significantly behind other issues, including inflation and the economy, as most important. Only 10% of Catholics say abortion is the most important issue facing the nation — tied with immigration, while 34% say inflation and another nearly 20% say the economy/jobs.

Like most Americans, Catholics are feeling the impact of inflation. Asked how much their personal finances have been affected by rising prices and inflation, 81% of Catholic voters say that inflation has impacted them, while only 19% say not much or not at all.

A plurality (41%) place the blame for inflation on Biden and his administration, while nearly 32% blame it on the global slowdown due to COVID-19 or the Russian invasion of Ukraine (more than 9%), and 17% say all of the above or they don’t know. As for the Inflation Reduction Act that the president recently signed into law, Catholics express little confidence that it will reduce inflation. A majority of Catholics (54%) say they don’t have much or any confidence that it will reduce inflation, while 37% say they have a great deal or some confidence and the rest are not sure.

Hispanic support slipping for Biden, Democrats

One potentially significant development the poll found was a decline in support for the president and Democrats in general among Hispanic Catholics — historically a reliable Democrat voting bloc.

When asked how they feel Biden is handling his job as president, 50% of Hispanic Catholics say they strongly approve (11%) or approve (39%), while nearly 47% say they either disapprove (7%) or strongly disapprove (40%). Biden’s numbers among white Catholics are much worse, with 54% strongly disapproving (51%) or disapproving (4%), compared with 44%, who either strongly approve (16%) or approve (28%). Among African-American Catholics, he enjoys a very high approval rate of 90%, with 12% approving strongly and 78% approving. The first EWTN/RealClear poll in July found that Biden’s approval rating among white Catholics was 36%, 59% among Hispanic Catholics, and 72% among Black Catholics.

President Joe Biden walks past a screen during a Hispanic Heritage Month reception in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 30, 2022. Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images
President Joe Biden walks past a screen during a Hispanic Heritage Month reception in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 30, 2022. Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

As for whether he should run for re-election, the president is facing a serious electoral and demographic challenge. Only 17% of white Catholics think he should run, while 62% say he should not. Among Hispanic Catholics, only 28% say he should run, and 53% say he should not. Almost all African-American Catholics (94%) think he should run again.

When asked about their preference for candidates in the midterms, Hispanic Catholics are now evenly divided, with 45% favoring the Democrat and 44% preferring the Republican. Among white Catholics, Republicans hold an edge of 51%-44%. Black Catholics favor the Democrat 90%-10%.

Education concerns

One other area of concern to many Catholics is that of education, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdowns that impacted schools across the country. Three-quarters of Catholics said they are concerned about a “COVID deficit” in schoolchildren that has caused them to have lost significant intellectual and social development; around 17% said they were not concerned and 10% said they were not sure.

A majority of Catholics (nearly 78%) either strongly support (47%) or support (21%) school choice, a policy that allows public education funds to follow students to the schools or services that best fit their needs, including a public school, private school, charter school, home school, parochial school, or any other learning environment a family might choose; 26% either strongly oppose (17%) or oppose (9%) school choice.

Majorities of Catholics also support parents of K–12 students helping determine what is being taught in schools (64%-31%), oppose biological boys who identify as girls competing against biological girls on school sports teams (76%-14%), and oppose introducing Critical Race Theory (CRT) into the classroom (60%-29%).

Half of Catholics believe in Real Presence

Finally, in the area of Catholic belief and practice, some 84% of Catholics believe in heaven. Previous polls found that 77% believe in hell and 65% believe in purgatory. A majority of Catholic voters (77%) also believe in guardian angels.

When asked about their Mass attendance post-COVID, only 1% of Catholics attend daily, 7% attend more than once a week, 24% once a week, 10% once or twice a month, 26% a few times a year, 5% once a year, and 26% less than once a year or never.

The numbers for Mass attendance are matched by belief in the Real Presence of the Eucharist. As found also in the last poll, 50% of Catholics believe that the transformed bread and wine are the Body and Blood of Christ while 40% say the bread and wine are symbols of the Body and Blood of Christ; almost 10% say they are not sure. At the same time, only 26% of Catholics go to confession at least monthly or yearly, while 50% never go.

Abortion-protesting priest faces possible prison time after charges under FACE Act

Father Fidelis Moscinski (far left, in gray robe), a well-known pro-life activist and priest of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (CFR), is seen during a tense standoff between pro-life and pro-abortion demonstrators in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022. / Jeffrey Bruno/CNA

St. Louis, Mo., Oct 3, 2022 / 15:00 pm (CNA).

A prominent pro-life priest known for his nonviolent attempts to hinder the operation of abortion clinics to save unborn children faces federal charges for padlocking closed the gate to a New York abortion clinic in July, blocking the entrance to the clinic in the hopes of counseling the women seeking an abortion that day to reconsider.

Father Fidelis Moscinski, 52, a priest of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (CFR), was charged last week under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, a 1994 federal law that prohibits the blocking of access to abortion clinics. 

According to a Sept. 29 release from the Department of Justice, Moscinski — whom the release identifies as “Christopher” — arrived at the Planned Parenthood of Greater New York clinic in Hempstead, New York, the morning of July 7 wearing civilian garb. 

He allegedly fastened several padlocks and bicycle locks, some with glue poured in them, onto the gated entrance of the clinic. Later, while wearing his friar’s habit, he lay in front of the gate to block access to the abortion clinic with his body. The clinic reportedly remained closed for two hours as a result of his actions. 

The DOJ says first-time convictions of the FACE Act are misdemeanor violations punishable by up to one year in federal prison; subsequent convictions are a felony. The FACE Act prohibits “violent, threatening, damaging, and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with the right to seek, obtain, or provide reproductive health services,” according to the DOJ. 

Terrisa Bukovinac, founder and executive director of the pro-life group Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU), decried the charges against Moscinski in an Oct. 2 statement. 

Bukovinac said the FACE Act was enacted primarily to quash the efforts of Operation Rescue, whose members would frequently try to physically prevent women from entering abortion clinics. 

“In recent years there has been a renewed interest in Rescue and of nonviolent direct action outside killing centers across America. And the response from [Attorney General Merrick] Garland’s DOJ has been swift,” Bukovinac said. 

“The weaponization of this office has led to the unjust targeting of peaceful pro-life activists such as Mark Houck, Father Fidelis, Lauren Handy, and others. Alternatively, Garland’s Justice Department has allowed violent pro-abortion groups to continue their terrorization of churches and pregnancy centers across the country,” she said, referring to the large number of as-yet unprosecuted crimes against pro-life entities reported across the country in the wake of the Roe v. Wade decision. 

Father Fidelis Moscinski (lower left, standing behind the cross), a well-known pro-life activist and priest of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (CFR), is seen during a tense standoff between pro-life and pro-abortion demonstrators in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022. The pro-life marchers were trying to reach a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic where they planned to hold a prayer vigil, and the pro-abortion demonstrators were trying to block their path. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Father Fidelis Moscinski (lower left, standing behind the cross), a well-known pro-life activist and priest of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (CFR), is seen during a tense standoff between pro-life and pro-abortion demonstrators in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022. The pro-life marchers were trying to reach a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic where they planned to hold a prayer vigil, and the pro-abortion demonstrators were trying to block their path. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA

Moscinski has garnered media attention in recent years for his prayerful protests in the face of pro-abortion opposition and his work with the group Red Rose Rescue. In 2021, photos of the procession at Brooklyn’s Witness for Life day of prayer showed pro-abortion advocates shouting, holding signs, and smoking cigarettes in the face of a calm Moscinski.

More recently, following his July 7 arrest, Moscinski told EWTN Pro-life Weekly that he knew his actions in blocking the clinic entrance could engender “severe consequences” and that he chose to act alone so as not to implicate anyone else. 

Moscinski told host Prudence Robertson that his goal was to “keep that Planned Parenthood closed for as long as possible so that I would have an opportunity to talk to the mothers that were coming in that morning.” He encouraged pro-life people to pray the rosary and to ask themselves: “What am I willing to sacrifice to show love to the mothers and children who are at risk for abortion?” 

Prosecutors cited that EWTN interview as part of the criminal complaint against Moscinski.

Bukovinac of Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising said her group is aware of at least 16 peaceful pro-life advocates indicted under the FACE Act in 2022 alone, including a member of PAAU, Lauren Handy

Another recent indictment, that of Philadelphia pro-life leader and father of seven Mark Houck, has garnered widespread consternation and criticism. Houck was indicted by a federal grand jury Sept. 22 after a Planned Parenthood clinic escort alleged that Houck pushed him twice, causing him to fall to the ground both times. Accounts of how Houck was taken into custody have been met with sharp criticism from GOP lawmakers, including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri.

8 quotes from saints on guardian angels

null / Petra Homeier/Shutterstock

Denver Newsroom, Oct 2, 2022 / 00:00 am (CNA).

During the month of October, the Catholic Church celebrates guardian angels.

Guardian angels are instruments of providence who protect their charges from suffering serious harm, and care for their salvation.

It is a theologically certain teaching that every one one of the faithful has his or her own guardian angel from baptism, and it is the general teaching of theologians that every human person has his or her own guardian angel from birth.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their [angels’] watchful care and intercession. ‘Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.’ Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God” (CCC, 336).

Several of our greatest saints have also shared their thoughts on guardian angels. Here’s what they had to say:

St. John Vianney: “Our guardian angels are our most faithful friends, because they are with us day and night, always and everywhere. We ought often to invoke them.”

St. John Bosco: “When tempted, invoke your angel. He is more eager to help you than you are to be helped. Ignore the devil and do not be afraid of him; he trembles and flees at the sight of your guardian angel.”

St. Jerome: “How great is the dignity of souls, that each person has from birth received an angel to protect it.”

St. Basil the Great: “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd, leading him to life.”

St. Bernard of Clairvaux: “We should show our affection for the angels, for one day they will be our co-heirs just as here below they are our guardians and trustees appointed and set over us by the father.”

St. Francis de Sales: “Make yourself familiar with the angels, and behold them frequently in spirit. Without being seen, they are present with you.”

St. Josemaría Escrivá: “If you remembered the presence of your angel and the angels of your neighbors, you would avoid many of the foolish things which slip into your conversations.”

St. John Cassian: “Cherubim means knowledge in abundance. They provide an everlasting protection for that which appeases God, namely, the calm of your heart, and they will cast a shadow of protection against all the attacks of malign spirits.”

The rosary: common myths and facts

null / Vatican Media.

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Oct 1, 2022 / 02:00 am (CNA).

October is designated by the Catholic Church as the “Month of the Rosary.” Here are seven common myths and facts about this devotion to Our Lady.

Only Catholics can pray the rosary. 

False. While rosaries are typically associated with Catholics, non-Catholics can certainly pray the rosary — and in fact, many credit it with their conversion. Even some Protestants recognize the rosary as a valid form of prayer.

Praying the rosary is idolatry. 

False. Some have objections to the rosary, claiming it idolizes Mary and is overly repetitive. 

Just like any practice, the rosary could be abused — just as someone might idolize a particular pastor or priest, form of worship, or fasting. But the rosary itself is not a form of idolatry. 

The rosary is not a prayer to Mary — it is a meditation on the life of Christ revealed in five mysteries “with the purposes of drawing the person praying deeper into reflecting on Christ’s joys, sacrifices, sufferings, and the glorious miracles of his life.” 

When we pray the Hail Mary, we are not adoring Mary, we are asking for her intercession — just as we might ask a friend or family member to pray for us. 

Second, any prayer can lose its meaning if we do not intentionally meditate on it. Focusing on the mysteries with purpose and intention is key to the rosary’s transforming power. As one author encourages: “The rosary itself stays the same, but we do not.”

You can wear a rosary as a necklace.

It depends. It is typically considered disrespectful and irreverent to wear a rosary around one’s neck, even though the Church does not have an explicit declaration against doing so. 

However, Canon 1171 of the Code of Canon Law says that “sacred objects, set aside for divine worship by dedication or blessing, are to be treated with reverence. They are not to be made over to secular or inappropriate use, even though they may belong to private persons.”

It is important to treat the rosary with respect and intention. If you intend to wear the rosary as a piece of jewelry, this would not be respectful and should be avoided. It goes without saying that wearing the rosary as a mockery or gang symbol would be a sin. 

But if it is your intention to use the rosary and be mindful of prayer, then it could be permissible. It is not uncommon in some cultures, like in Honduras and El Salvador, to see the rosary respectfully worn around the neck as a sign of devotion.

Rosary rings or bracelets might be a better option if you want to keep your rosary close at hand as a reminder to pray, as they are kept more out of sight and would not be as easily misconstrued to be a piece of jewelry. 

The rosary is an extremist symbol.

False. A widely-shared Atlantic article this summer went viral for accusing the rosary of being an “extremist symbol.” 

“Just as the AR-15 rifle has become a sacred object for Christian nationalists in general, the rosary has acquired a militaristic meaning for radical-traditional (or “rad trad”) Catholics,” the article read.

The author also cited the Church’s stance on traditional marriage and the sanctity of life as evidence of “extremism” and claimed that Catholics’ tendency to call the rosary a “weapon in the fight against evil” as dangerous. 

As CNA reported this year, popes have urged Catholics to pray the rosary since 1571 — often referring to the rosary as a prayer “weapon” and most powerful spiritual tool. 

The rosary is not biblical.

Untrue! Most of its words come directly from Scripture.

First, the Our Father is prayed. The words of the Our Father are those Christ taught his disciples to pray in Matthew 6:9–13.

The Hail Mary also comes straight from the Bible. The first part, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee,” comes from Luke 1:28, and the second, “Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,” is found in Luke 1:42.

Finally, each of the decades prayed on the rosary symbolizes an event in the lives of Jesus and Mary. The decades are divided into four sets of mysteries: Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, and Glorious, the majority of which are found in Scripture. 

A rosary bead, or pea, can kill you.

Somewhat true. A rosary pea, or abrus seed, is a vine plant native to India and parts of Asia. The seeds of the vine, which are red with black spots, are often used to make beaded jewelry — including rosaries. Rosary pea seeds contain a toxic substance called abrin, which is a naturally-occurring poison that can be fatal if ingested. However, it’s unlikely for someone to get abrin poisoning just from holding a rosary made from abrus seeds, as one would have to swallow them. 

Today, most rosaries are made from other non-toxic materials, such as olive wood, plastic, or glass — eliminating this concern.

Carrying a rosary can protect you.

True. The rosary has proven to be a miraculous force for protecting those of faith and bestowing upon them extra graces, such as the victory of the Christian forces at the Battle of Lepanto after St. Pius V implored Western Christians to pray the rosary.

Many great saints across history, including Pope John Paul II, Padre Pio, and Lucia of Fatima, have also recognized the rosary as the most powerful weapon in fighting the real spiritual battles we face in the world. 

We know that spiritual warfare is a real and present danger: “For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens” (Ephesians 6:11–12). 

“The Rosary is a powerful weapon to put the demons to flight and to keep oneself from sin … If you desire peace in your hearts, in your homes, and in your country, assemble each evening to recite the Rosary. Let not even one day pass without saying it, no matter how burdened you may be with many cares and labors,” Pope Pius XI said. 

Catholics converge on DC for a week of prayer and fasting

The International Week of Prayer and Fasting kicks off on Saturday, Oct. 1 at the National Basilica in Washington, DC. / The International Week of Prayer and Fasting (IWOPF)

Denver, Colo., Sep 30, 2022 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

On Saturday, Oct. 1, Catholics from around the world will once again kick off a week of prayer and fasting at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. 

Prayer and fasting are needed now more than ever, Maureen Flynn, founder of The International Week of Prayer and Fasting (IWOPF) told CNA. 

“It seems to be a real battle between the forces of darkness and the forces of light,” she said. 

The IWOPF is a grassroots movement made up of churches, schools, communities, and clergy who come together to pray and fast. In 2022, for the 30th IWOPF, Catholics everywhere are invited to pray for five intentions: the conversion of all peoples, to build a culture of life, defend the sanctity of marriage, for God’s mercy, and for all priests and vocations. 

The week of prayer and fasting will culminate in the National Rosary Rally at the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 9. The events cap a 54-day rosary novena prayed by Catholics around the country, which begins each year on Aug. 15, the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and ends on Oct. 7, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

Catholics joining in prayer for the 2019 IWOPF. IWOPF
Catholics joining in prayer for the 2019 IWOPF. IWOPF

Speakers at this year’s event include Bishop Joseph Coffey, who will offer the opening Mass on Oct. 1. Also speaking are Father Francis Peffley; Dave and Joan Maroney, founders of MOMM, a Divine Mercy apostolate; Father Robert Altier; and Ted and Maureen Flynn, the founders of IWOPF, and several others. 

In an interview with CNA, Maureen Flynn talked about the moment she decided to take action and get others to join in prayer and fasting. She recalled that in 1989 she was reading a newspaper article about some grandmothers who said they were for abortion.

“I was appalled,” she said. Soon after, she called a good friend and brought up the idea of starting a day of prayer. 

“Because this is ridiculous. These are grandmothers and they’re thinking it’s fine to kill children,” she remembers telling him.

However, instead of a single day of prayer, he suggested an entire week. The following year, the first conference was held in front of the U.S. Capitol. Approximately 500 people attended.

In 1997, the event was moved to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. That was also the year Mother Teresa was scheduled to be the keynote speaker. The event would be held on Oct. 5, 1997. However, Mother Teresa would not be in attendance. The now-saint died one month before, on Sept. 5. 

Flynn recalled that Mother Teresa had been very enthusiastic about the project.

“I remember at one point, she said, ‘My daughter, you must do this. God wants this. Prayer is the answer to the world's problems.’ I'll never forget what she said. So I think that gave us encouragement,” she said.

St. John Paul II also gave the organization two apostolic blessings, one in 1997 and the other in 2001. Pope Francis also gave his apostolic blessing to participants at the 22nd conference.

EWTN’s foundress, Mother Angelica, was the keynote speaker in 2000 and gave a talk on the Lord in the Eucharist. Jim Caviezel joined the conference in 2003 as the keynote speaker after finishing the filming of “The Passion of the Christ.” 

Flynn told CNA that she is encouraged by how much more receptive Catholics are to prayer and fasting now. 

“Years ago it was like pulling teeth to try to get people to see the importance of the rosary and fasting. Now I hear people saying, ‘Tell me how to fast, and could you recommend some good books on fasting,’” she said.

Flynn feels optimistic about other aspects of the Church as well.

“There are prayer networks everywhere now, compared with 30 years ago. The prayer networks are amazing. They give me great hope,” she added. 

“There’s a lot of great ministries out there compared with 30 years ago; there are many Marian groups, many pro-life groups, a lot of publishers; there are just tremendous ministries out there now that weren’t there before,” she said. “So although the battle seems to be intensifying, you see the great goodness going on.”

This year’s conference will also be held virtually in addition to in person. The week’s events will be live-streamed on the IWOPF website, Facebook page, and YouTube channel beginning Oct. 1.