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Posted on 05/13/2022 22:00 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Denver Newsroom, May 13, 2022 / 17:00 pm (CNA).
You’ve heard of Roe v. Wade — and you’ve probably heard that the U.S. Supreme Court may be about to overturn it.
But what exactly is Roe v. Wade, and why does it matter whether it’s overturned?
Here’s what to know:
Roe v. Wade was a legal case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States in January 1973.
“Wade” refers to Henry Wade, the district attorney of Dallas County, Texas. “Roe” is the pseudonym of Norma McCorvey, a Louisiana woman who had filed a lawsuit in Texas to get an abortion, which was illegal at the time. Despite her involvement in the case, McCorvey never actually got an abortion. In fact, she eventually converted to Protestant Christianity and later to Catholicism, and engaged in pro-life ministry in her later years.
In their opinion, the justices ruled that states could not ban abortion before viability, which the court determined to be 24 to 28 weeks into pregnancy. The legal reasoning centered on the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment, which the court interpreted as conferring a "right to privacy" for women seeking abortions.
The makeup of the court at that time, which issued the ruling by a 7-2 vote, was entirely male — the first female justice, Sandra Day O’Connor, would not arrive at the court until eight years later.
Nearly 20 years later, the court upheld Roe in the case Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The 1992 ruling said that while states could regulate pre-viability abortions, they could not enforce an “undue burden,” defined by the court as “a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus.”
What effects has Roe had since the decision was made?
The immediate effect was the legalization of abortion throughout the entire United States, until roughly the end of the second trimester. Abortion was already legal in some form in several states — such as Colorado, Hawaii, and New York— before Roe changed the status quo for the entire country.
Abortion rates in the U.S. rose in the years following Roe, peaking at an estimated 1.4 million per year in 1990. In 2019, the latest year government figures are available, there were an estimated 630,000 abortions.
Since Roe and Casey, every state regulation on abortion that has been proposed or passed has had to be viewed through Roe’s legal framework of “strict scrutiny”, and later through Casey’s “undue burden” standard. Dozens of state regulations have been struck down by courts over the years for being out of step with Roe, and thus unconstitutional.
Is there a chance Roe could be overturned now?
Yes. A case currently before the court, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, involves a 2018 Mississippi law restricting most abortions after 15 weeks. The case centers on the question of “Whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional,” or whether states can ban abortion before a fetus can survive outside the womb, making it a direct challenge to Roe and Casey.
What will happen if Roe is overturned?
If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the question of abortion legalization or restriction will return to the states. State policy would vary widely on the question of abortion, with the practice being automatically outlawed in several states, and explicity protected in others.
If Roe is overturned and women who would have chosen an abortion are unable to get them, many more babies and mothers will need care than previously. Pro-life organizations are marshalling resources to offer support.
That said, abortions will continue in states which have passed laws to protect access to it, and some states, such as Colorado, have explicitly positioned themselves as destinations where women can travel from states with restrictions to avail themselves of abortions.
The federal government under President Joe Biden has attempted preemptively to pass a bill codifying Roe v. Wade into federal law, which if passed would supersede state-level pro-life laws, but such attempts so far have failed.
What will happen if Roe is not overturned?
There are a number of scenarios that could come to fruition that involve Roe remaining in place.
If the Supreme Court does not overturn Roe, but upholds Mississippi’s 15-week ban, other states with a court-blocked 15-week bans, such as Arizona, could see their laws come into effect. Additionally, other pro-life states may pass 15-week bans now that they are constitutionally allowed to do so.
If the Mississippi law is struck down, and Roe and Casey are affirmed, it would be a devastating setback for the pro-life movement, which has pinned its long-term legal strategy on someday having a “conservative” supermajority on the Supreme Court, as is the case today.
So… How likely is it that Roe v. Wade will be overturned?
A leaked draft opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court, which has been confirmed to be genuine though not necessarily final, suggests that the court is indeed poised to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The draft, reported on May 2 after being leaked to Politico, shows the court siding with Mississippi, as well as a thoroughly repudiating Roe and Casey.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Associate Justice Samuel Alito writes in the 98-page draft document, which is labeled as the “Opinion of the Court.”
“It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
The Politico news report said that four justices had joined Alito in the majority, three are preparing dissents, and Chief Justice John Roberts — often a swing vote — had not yet settled on a side.
Whatever the court ultimately decides, the consequences for the country will be enormous.
Posted on 05/13/2022 05:30 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON - Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Most Reverend Edward M. Deliman, 75, from the Office of Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia.
The resignation was publicized in Washington on May 13, 2022, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Posted on 05/12/2022 16:00 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Denver Newsroom, May 12, 2022 / 11:00 am (CNA).
The bishop-elect of Charleston is set to become the first Black bishop in the diocese’s 200-year history when he is installed this Friday, May 13.
An immigrant, a former missionary, and a polyglot, Bishop-elect Jacques Fabre-Jeune will also be the second bishop of Haitian origin in the U.S., and the first to be the head of a diocese.
Fabre-Jeune told CNA that he prays that he would be "a good servant" and "the image of Jesus for the people that God has put under me, so that I can serve them with sincerity, with humility, and of course with love."
He also said he plans to serve and love everyone in the diocese, drawing on Catholicism’s universality “to go beyond languages, beyond culture.”
"As a bishop, our first responsibility is to take care of everyone — we call them souls — that is in the diocese. That's our responsibility,” Fabre-Jeune told CNA.
He said he believes his years as a missionary, going into other cultures with an evangelizing spirit, will be an asset in his role as bishop.
Fabre-Jeune was born in Port-au-Prince in 1955, one of six siblings; his father worked as a carpenter. Fabre-Jeune’s parents wanted a safer and more stable environment in which to raise their children, and got an opportunity to come to the United States to do factory work. Fabre-Jeune’s mother went to the U.S. first, followed by the rest of the family four years later.
Fabre-Jeune said his mother, who led the local Legion of Mary group, helped to instill a love of the faith in him, and he felt a call to the priesthood when he was 11 years old. The call faded after he arrived in the U.S. at age 16, but reawakened during his college years at St. John’s University in New York. He said the example of priests he got to know in New York, including the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, helped to model the priestly life for him.
After graduating from St. John’s, Fabre-Jeune joined the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo, also known as the Scalabrinians. The Scalabrinians were originally founded to support spiritually missionaries going to South and North America, and today its members do much to serve refugees and immigrants.
Being an immigrant himself, Fabre-Jeune said he felt called to the Scalabrinians, and to serve fellow immigrants. His novitiate took place in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he learned to speak Spanish fluently. And in fact, Fabre-Jeune speaks five languages in total — English, French, Spanish, Italian, and Haitian Creole — English being his third.
He was ordained to the priesthood in Brooklyn, New York, in 1986 at the age of 30. At his first parish assignment, he worked with many Haitians and Hispanics, and later served as chaplain to Haitian refugees in Guantanamo Bay from 1990 to 1991. He served as pastor of a parish in the Dominican Republic from 1991 to 2004.
After he arrived in Georgia in 2006, he served as parochial vicar for two parishes. Fabre-Jeune has administered the San Felipe de Jesús Mission in Forest Park, Georgia for the past 12 years, a congregation that he described as “99% Mexican.” While administering the mission, Fabre-Jeune also served as the director of the Hispanic Charismatic Renewal and a member of the Archdiocese of Atlanta’s finance council.
Kathleen Merritt, Director of the Office of Black Catholics and Native American Ministry at the Charleston diocese, told CNA that the diocese’ Black Catholic community is “energetic and hopeful” about Fabre-Jeune’s appointment.
The history of Black Catholicism in the area predates the creation of the diocese itself, going back to the 18th century, when enslaved people and refugees from Haiti came to the area. Bishop John England arrived in 1820 and assigned a priest to minister to the plantations and build churches to minister to the many Black Catholics. After the Civil War, Bishop Patrick Lynch established St. Peter's Church as the first parish for the newly emancipated. Later on, during the era of segregation, Bishop Paul Hallahan decreed that diocesan schools would accept students of all races.
Today, the diocese includes about 4,000 Black Catholics as of the latest parish census, Merritt said.
“Our new bishop has put a spark in not just Black Catholics and other minorities but almost everyone,” Merritt said.
“Having a Black bishop may result in more vocations within the Black community because our Black youth will now see and associate with a shepherd that looks like them.”
Still, she said, the numbers of Black Catholics in the diocese has dropped since the 1980s with the closing of parishes, schools, and difficulties associated with 1989’s Hurricane Hugo. But there are at least five predominantly Black parishes open in the diocese today, she said.
Fabre-Jeune’s appointment was made public Feb. 22. He succeeds Bishop Emeritus Robert Guglielmone, who retired upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75.
The Catholic Diocese of Charleston was established in 1820 and covers the state of South Carolina. More than 5 million people live within the diocese, an estimated 10% of whom are Catholic.
When the news of Fabre-Jeune’s appointment as bishop reached his siblings, all of whom now live in the U.S., he said they all thought about how their mother — who has since died, along with their father — would have been overjoyed by the news.
Fabre-Jeune said he has received a warm and gracious welcome so far in Charleston, which he said reminds him of Haiti in certain ways, especially the palm trees, a famous symbol of South Carolina. Fabre-Jeune chose a palm tree as an image for his episcopal coat of arms.
"I love people and feel that I've been loved, and I hope it will be the same" in Charleston, he said.
Fabre-Jeune will be consecrated and installed as Charleston’s bishop on May 13.
Posted on 05/12/2022 14:35 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., May 12, 2022 / 09:35 am (CNA).
More than 70 pro-life leaders, including Archbishop William E. Lori who leads the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee, are demanding that state lawmakers refuse to punish or criminalize women who obtain abortions.
“As national and state pro-life organizations, representing tens of millions of pro-life men, women, and children across the country, let us be clear: We state unequivocally that any measure seeking to criminalize or punish women is not pro-life and we stand firmly opposed to such efforts,” the May 12 letter to state lawmakers reads.
The letter comes as lawmakers in states such as Louisiana consider legislation that could subject women who obtain abortions to criminal prosecution and prison.
Laura Echevarria, a spokesperson for the National Right to Life, the pro-life group that coordinated the letter’s release, told CNA that it responded, in part, to actions by states like Louisiana. The letter also responded to rhetoric from abortion activists.
“This has been a long-standing policy issue of ours” and many of the other signers, Echevarria said. “We felt we needed to make it clear that this was something that we did not agree with. That we do not believe in prosecuting women who have had abortions. We see them as a second victim in these situations.”
“We wanted to make sure that this was very clear to state legislators, but also to the public-at-large,” she added. “We do not want women thinking that this is something that the movement approves of, because we don’t.”
In addition to Lori, signers include Carol Tobias of the National Right to Life, Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List, Jeanne Mancini of the March for Life, and Catherine Glenn Foster of Americans United for Life. You can read the full letter below:
The open letter follows a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that suggests justices will overturn Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide in 1973, later this year.
The letter takes care to say that there are two victims with every abortion: both the mother and her unborn child.
“The mother who aborts her child is also Roe’s victim,” the letter reads. “She is the victim of a callous industry created to take lives; an industry that claims to provide for ‘women’s health,’ but denies the reality that far too many American women suffer devastating physical and psychological damage following abortion.”
In bold text, the letter adds, “Women are victims of abortion and require our compassion and support as well as ready access to counseling and social services in the days, weeks, months, and years following an abortion.”
If the Supreme Court overturns Roe, as the leaked draft suggests, the issue of abortion will be left up to each individual state — and elected lawmakers.
“But in seizing that opportunity,” the letter cautions, “we must ensure that the laws we advance to protect unborn children do not harm their mothers.” In other words, the letter continues, “turning women who have abortions into criminals is not the way.”
Several organizations, many of them run by Catholics, offer healing and hope to women harmed by abortion, including Project Rachel, Rachel's Vineyard, and Silence No More Awareness Campaign.
While the Catholic Church condemns abortion, it also stresses the importance of forgiveness and mercy for the women who have obtained abortions. Just as the unborn have inherent dignity and worth as human persons, so do their mothers.
“The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy,” the Catechism of the Catholic Church reads, but instead “makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.”
Statement of U.S. Bishops’ Chairman on International Justice and Peace on Arrest of Cardinal Joseph Zen
Posted on 05/12/2022 05:30 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON - Upon the news of the arrest of Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong on May 11, Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace called for prayer and the pursuit of justice.
Bishop Malloy’s full statement follows:
“The alarming news of the May 11 arrest in Hong Kong of Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun due to his past role in administering a humanitarian fund for protestors indicates the downward trend in respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights in Hong Kong. This steadfast pastor and strong supporter of democracy and justice was arrested along with other trustees of a fund that paid for legal and medical expenses of pro-democracy protestors, a fund that was disbanded in the fall of 2021. Because of Cardinal Zen’s support for these protestors, he is being accused of ‘collusion with foreign forces.’ Under the national security law imposed in June 2020, ‘secession, subversion and collusion with foreign forces’ is a crime punishable with sentences of up to life imprisonment. Thus, although Cardinal Zen has been released on bail, his situation remains precarious.
“The Vatican’s press office said Wednesday, ‘The Holy See has learned with concern the news of Cardinal Zen’s arrest and is following the evolution of the situation with extreme attention.’ I join with the Holy See in expressing concern for the fate of Cardinal Zen and others who share his current predicament. I invite all those of good will to pray for their safety and that justice may prevail.”
Posted on 05/11/2022 22:25 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Denver Newsroom, May 11, 2022 / 17:25 pm (CNA).
An expansive abortion bill that would declare abortion a human right, undercut existing state pro-life laws, and force objecting doctors to perform abortions, again failed to pass the U.S. Senate on Wednesday.
The Women’s Health Protection Act failed 49-51 by a largely party line vote, with U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., voting against the bill. An almost identical version of the bill failed in a February vote by an identical margin.
While leading Catholic bishops called on Congress to stop pushing abortion, President Joe Biden called on voters to support candidates in favor of abortion rights in upcoming Senate races and pledged to sign the bill into law.
Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, the chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chair of the bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, said May 11: “More than 60 million unborn children have already lost their lives to abortion, and countless women suffer from the physical and emotional trauma of abortion. This radical bill would add millions more to that tragic toll.”
They said the proposed legislation was “an utterly unjust and extreme measure that would impose abortion on demand nationwide at any stage of pregnancy through federal statute.”
“We are relieved that the Senate vote to advance this bill failed for the second time in less than three months,” Lori and Dolan said.
While backers claimed the bill would have simply codified current Supreme Court abortion precedent, it in fact it would go far beyond and threaten existing laws which limit abortion.
Lori and Dolan’s response emphasized these details.
“This bill insists that elective abortion, including late-term elective abortion, is a ‘human right’ and ‘women’s health care’ -- something that should be promoted, funded, and celebrated,” they said. “S. 4132 is far more extreme than Roe v. Wade.”
“It would invalidate widely supported laws that protect women and unborn children from an unscrupulous abortion industry, would force all Americans to support abortion here and abroad with their tax dollars, and seeks to force religious hospitals and health care professionals to perform abortions against their beliefs,” said Lori and Dolan.
The bill would also have forced insurers and employers to cover for or pay for abortion.
U.S. President Joe Biden, a professed Catholic who was once publicly critical of legal abortion, blamed Senate Republicans for blocking the bill. His statement said that “fundamental rights are at risk at the Supreme Court.”
“This failure to act comes at a time when women’s constitutional rights are under unprecedented attack – and it runs counter to the will of the majority of American people,” he said.
While surveys indicate that many Americans support the Roe v. Wade decision, they simultaneously support limits on abortion that are not currently allowed. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to vote to return the abortion debate to the states this June.
“To protect the right to choose, voters need to elect more pro-choice senators this November, and return a pro-choice majority to the House,” Biden said. “If they do, Congress can pass this bill in January, and put it on my desk, so I can sign it into law.”
Thirteen Catholic Senators, including Sen. Bob Casey, Jr., D-Penn., voted in favor of the bill.
Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America, said the legislation was “extreme” and “goes further than Roe.”
“I am confounded as to why the Democratic Party is pushing a bill that will allow an industry to avoid any governmental oversight and operate freely without health and safety protocols,” said Day, whose organization also emphasizes the need for government support for pregnant women and mothers.
“(Senate Majority Leader) Schumer wanted to put Senators on record and he may not like the outcome this fall,” Day said. “A vote against abortion extremism will bring voters to the polls--particularly in the states like Ohio, Georgia, and Arizona that are toss-ups.”
Though Manchin voted against the bill, he also made statements indicating he is in favor of codifying Roe.
“I’ve just thought this legislation we’ve had for 50 years… It’s precedent and law,” he said, according to CNN correspondent Manu Raju. Manchin nonetheless rejected the Women’s Health Act as an “expansion,” not a “codification” of Roe v. Wade.
The proposal was Democrats’ response to a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that suggests justices will overturn Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide in 1973, and related precedents.
The Senate vote drew criticism from Republicans.
“Americans overwhelmingly support commonsense pro-life protections and limits on abortion, but Democrats are doubling down on taxpayer-funded, unlimited abortion on demand up to the moment of birth,” said Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.
The non-partisan Susan B. Anthony List announced an ad buy to emphasize what the group said is an unpopular position.
“Pro-abortion Democrats are dramatically out of touch with the American people, who overwhelmingly reject abortion on demand until birth,” Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser said, adding, “Radical pro-abortion lawmakers who shamefully advocate a ‘right’ to abortion at any time for any reason will see the consequences of their extremism at the ballot box this fall.”
While direct abortion is strongly rejected in Catholic teaching, Lori and Dolan emphasized that legal abortion is also contrary to Americans’ understanding of God-given rights.
“As a nation built on the recognition that every human being is endowed by its Creator with the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we implore Congress to stop pushing abortion as a solution to the needs of women and young girls, and instead embrace public policy that fully respects and facilitates these rights and the needs of both mother and child,” the bishops said.
Posted on 05/11/2022 20:21 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., May 11, 2022 / 15:21 pm (CNA).
When Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen claimed that abortion economically helps women — including low-income, Black women — one senator challenged her with his personal story.
“I’ll just simply say that, as a guy raised by a Black woman in abject poverty, I am thankful to be here as a United States senator,” Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina said Tuesday.
He made his comments during a May 10 hearing held by the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. At the hearing, Yellen testified as a witness and claimed that abortion enables women to succeed in the workforce.
“I believe that eliminating the right of women to make a decision about when and whether to have children would have very damaging effects on the economy and would set women back decades,” she said. “Roe v. Wade and access to reproductive health care, including abortion, helped lead to increased labor force participation.”
Yellen’s remarks followed a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that suggests justices will overturn Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide in 1973.
Roe v. Wade, Yellen claimed, enabled women to pursue an education, increase their earning potential, balance their families and careers, and benefit their planned children.
Studies show that “denying women access to abortion increase their odds of living in poverty or need for public assistance,” Yellen added.
At a later point in the hearing, Scott asked her to clarify.
“Did you say that ending the life of a child is good for the labor force participation rate?” he asked.
The increased labor force participation rate, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is the percentage of the population that is either working or actively looking for work.
“To the guy who was raised by a single mom who worked long hours to keep us out of poverty — I think people can disagree on the issue of being pro-life or pro-abortion — but, in the end, I think framing it in the context of labor force participation is, just feels callous to me,” he added. “I think finding a way to have a debate around abortion in a meeting for the economic stability of our country is harsh.”
Yellen replied that she did not intend to come across as harsh.
“In many cases, abortions are of teenage women, particularly low-income and often Black, who aren’t in a position to be able to care for children, have unexpected pregnancies, and it deprives them of the ability often to continue their education to later participate in the work force,” she said. “So there is a spillover into labor force participation. And it means that children will grow up in poverty and do worse themselves.”
Scott responded that “there’s a lot of ways for us to address the issue about the child that’s here.”
“We can, at the same time, have a real conversation about increasing child tax credits that are refundable,” he said. “We can, at the same time, have a conversation about the opportunity to have a more robust system around the issue of child care, of early childhood education. We could have a conversation about financial literacy.”
At the end of the hearing, Scott stressed that millions of children face circumstances similar to his: being raised in poverty by single-parent households that are Black.
The American Dream is one of hope and opportunity. We should be having conversations about economic policies that ensure everyone—including single moms and their kids—have access to that dream. Sec. Yellen's comments today don't meet that mark. pic.twitter.com/DqumCuggHs— Tim Scott (@SenatorTimScott) May 10, 2022
“Telling Black teenage moms that there’s only one alternative for them is a depressing and challenge message,” he said. “What I’m talking about is the importance of understanding the reality that even during tough financial times in households like the one I was raised, there is still hope.”
He ended, “I’m simply saying that the experience of so many of us, millions of us, in poverty, I conclude is a reason to be hopeful about what’s possible even for those incredibly powerful positive women making really hard choices.”
The argument that women rely on abortion to succeed economically is a common one made by abortion supporters.
An amicus brief submitted by hundreds of professional women in Dobbs v. Jackson, the case that could overturn Roe, argues that, instead, abortion harms women.
Posted on 05/11/2022 18:28 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Denver Newsroom, May 11, 2022 / 13:28 pm (CNA).
In the early 19th century, what is now the southern United States was — at least from the Vatican’s perspective — largely empty and unknown. It was into this frontier that a young French clergyman ventured, seeking to serve the people of Alabama.
A new documentary chronicles the life of Bishop Michael Portier, the first Bishop of Mobile and a giant in the history of Catholicism in the American south.
Produced by the Archdiocese of Mobile and 4PM Media, “Servant of the South- The Life of Bishop Michael Portier” is set to air on EWTN on May 22 at 1:30 p.m. Eastern time. It is also available to view online, now.
Portier, a Frenchman, was appointed to lead a vast swath of what is now the southern United States in the early 19th century. During his remarkable tenure, Portier oversaw the establishment of the first university in Alabama, founded a hospital that continues to serve patients to this day, and built Mobile’s cathedral.
“His legacy is perseverance. He was planting the seeds of what we have now,” Archbishop Thomas Rodi of Mobile said.
“You can’t write the history of Alabama without mentioning the Catholic Church.”
Born in Montbrison, France in 1795, Portier was a contemporary of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests. Portier grew up under the French First Republic, the product of the French Revolution, when the Catholic Church was largely suppressed by the new government, and many were guillotined for their loyalty. The revolutionaries adopted a ten-day a week calendar, in an attempt to demote the importance of Sunday.
Though none of Portier’s writings talk about this time of his life, he likely saw “a society in disarray,” said interviewee Dr. Charles Nolan, formerly the archivist for the New Orleans archdiocese.
In 1801, a concordat between the Vatican and France allowed the country’s seminaries to reopen, and in 1815, Portier entered a seminary in Lyon which would become an incubator for priests being sent to the fledgling U.S. and other parts of the world.
At the time, Bishop Louis William Valentine Dubourg, of St. Louis, was pleading to the seminarians in France for help in his diocese, but did not mince words about the miseries that they were likely to endure as missionaries in the harsh territory of North America. Despite his mother’s reluctance to let him become a missionary, Portier felt called to come and help to convert the people of this new land, and to lay down his life for them in a heroic fashion.
Immediately upon arrival in the United States in 1817, Portier continued his studies at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, and then was called to New Orleans to minister to young people there.
Portier was ordained a priest on September 29, 1818 in St. Louis, and was tasked with starting a Catholic school in New Orleans. Soon after, however, he was asked to minister to the people of the territory that is today Alabama and Florida.
The territory was vast and sparsely populated. Portier traveled — with some difficulty — from town to town preaching, an event which attracted both Catholics and Protestants in the towns he visited.
The territory was home to many free blacks, slaves, and mixed-race people. Portier himself had several slaves as housekeepers, but by all accounts treated them well.
Portier’s priesthood was marked with challenges at every turn. At one point he fell ill and nearly died; at another, his church burned down and two other priests abandoned him. Desperate, he went back to France on a begging tour, and brought back some additional help.
Eventually, the Vatican asked him to become the bishop of a new local Church, the Vicariate Apostolic of Alabama and the Floridas. At Bishop DuBorg’s prompting, Portier wrote back to Rome saying he felt inadequate for the role, citing his youth and inexperience. But Pope Leo XII would not hear of it.
Portier was consecrated a bishop, and in 1829 the vicariate was raised to the Diocese of Mobile.
Portier wrote about striving all the greater for his own sanctity, in order to be a “worthy instrument” of God’s will.
As bishop, Portier established Spring Hill College in Mobile, with the goal of giving the Church an institutional presence that would serve students, including women, of all religions, and serve the greater community. The college was the first institution of higher learning in Alabama, and despite some setbacks over the years, continues to provide Catholic education to college students to this day.
Portier ministered to the territory’s extreme poor during the late 1830s. He helped to establish a women’s charity to care for orphans, and the Daughters of Charity later took over the operation, helping with Mobile’s orphanage, hospital, and schools.
During this time, the capital of Alabama moved several times as the territory gained more residents and the balances of power shifted. Portier made sure there was at least one Catholic Church in every capital of Alabama.
After 13 years of work, on Dec. 8, 1850, Mobile’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was dedicated. The cathedral is, today, one of the oldest cathedral buildings still in use in the U.S.
On May 14, 1859, Portier died at the hospital he helped to found. His legacy was not only a planting of the Catholic faith in the hearts of many residents of Alabama, but also an establishment of an institutional presence for the Church in the form of a cathedral, parishes, a university, a hospital, and more.
“Servant of the South- The Life of Bishop Michael Portier” can be viewed on EWTN on May 22 at 1:30 p.m. Eastern time, or viewed online.
Posted on 05/11/2022 16:00 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington D.C., May 11, 2022 / 11:00 am (CNA).
The U.S. Senate voted Wednesday against moving forward with what pro-life leaders described as “The Abortion on Demand Until Birth Act.”
The Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022 (WHPA), which needed 60 votes to move forward, failed in the Senate with 51 lawmakers voting against it and 49 voting for it. The vote fell along party lines, except for one Democrat who voted against the bill: Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who is Catholic and has previously identified himself as pro-life. If approved, the bill would override states’ pro-life laws and remove restrictions on abortion up to the point of birth in some cases.
The intent of the WHPA, or S.4132, is to “enshrine a virtually unlimited abortion ‘right’ in federal law and block common ground pro-life laws around the country,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List), has warned.
The May 11 vote was Democrats’ response to a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that suggests justices will overturn Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide in 1973.
“[F]or the first time in fifty years, women in America face the real possibility of living in a world where the protections of Roe v. Wade are a thing of the past,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “And there will be no hiding from where each of us stands on this most precious, most private, most personal decision that women ever have to make when it comes to their own bodies.”
An almost identical version of the WHPA failed in the Senate in February. That vote also fell along party lines, with only one Democrat (Manchin) voting against proceeding. No Republican voted in support of the WHPA.
“It would impose abortion up until the moment of birth without any limits in all 50 states,” Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, the founder and chair of the Senate Pro-Life Caucus, said on the floor Tuesday. “In a nutshell, this radical bill would make the United States of America one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a preborn child.”
Daines, who previously spoke with CNA about Democrats’ response to the leaked draft opinion, cited a saint — Mother Teresa of Calcutta — during his Tuesday remarks.
At the 1994 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., Mother Teresa urged, “I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of an innocent child.”
She added: “Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.”
What is the WHPA?
If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade later this year, as the leaked draft opinion suggests, then abortion could be left up to individual states. The WHPA threatens pro-life state laws.
The act’s text lists a series of specific restrictions it would do away with, on everything from limitations on telemedicine to restrictions around viability, which the act defines as the point when a fetus can survive outside the womb — determined by “the good-faith medical judgment of the treating health care provider.”
The WHPA would forbid any kind of limit on abortion before fetal viability, including “a prohibition or restriction on a particular abortion procedure.” After viability, the WHPA would outlaw limits on abortion “when, in the good-faith medical judgment of the treating health care provider, continuation of the pregnancy would pose a risk to the pregnant patient’s life or health.”
National pro-life groups, such as SBA List, have expressed concern over this section because the Supreme Court, in Doe v. Bolton, broadly defined what “may relate to health,” including “all factors — physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age — relevant to the wellbeing of the patient.”
In the past, SBA List has warned that the WHPA would also “nullify pro-life laws in states across the country, including late-term abortion limits when unborn children can feel pain, waiting periods, informed consent laws, antidiscrimination laws, and more.”
The Catholic position
In February, 13 Catholic senators, including Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), voted in favor of the WHPA. Wednesday's vote produced the same outcome.
President Joe Biden, who also is Catholic, and his administration have repeatedly expressed support for the WHPA.
The Catholic Church condemns abortion in the strongest possible terms.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which summarizes Church teaching, recognizes the inherent dignity and worth of the unborn human person and considers abortion a “crime against human life.”
“Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception,” the catechism reads. “From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.”
In his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae, Pope St. John Paul II addressed abortion in light of politics.
“I repeat once more that a law which violates an innocent person's natural right to life is unjust and, as such, is not valid as a law,” he wrote. “For this reason I urgently appeal once more to all political leaders not to pass laws which, by disregarding the dignity of the person, undermine the very fabric of society.”
The “Church encourages political leaders, starting with those who are Christians, not to give in, but to make those choices which, taking into account what is realistically attainable, will lead to the re- establishment of a just order in the defence and promotion of the value of life,” he added.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith later explained the late pontiff’s teaching in a doctrinal note on “The Participation of Catholics in Political Life.”
“John Paul II, continuing the constant teaching of the Church, has reiterated many times that those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a grave and clear obligation to oppose any law that attacks human life,” it read. “For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them.”
Posted on 05/11/2022 05:30 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON - Today, the U.S. Senate failed to advance the Women’s Health Protection Act, S. 4132. This bill would have imposed abortion on demand nationwide at any stage of pregnancy through federal statute and would have eliminated pro-life laws at every level of government -- including parental notification for minor girls, informed consent, and health or safety protections specific to abortion facilities. S. 4132 also would have compelled all Americans to support abortions here and abroad with their tax dollars and would have also likely forced health care providers and professionals to perform, assist in, and/or refer for abortion against their deeply-held beliefs, as well as forced employers and insurers to cover or pay for abortion.
Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, issued the following statement:
“The ‘Women’s Health Protection Act’ (S. 4132) is an utterly unjust and extreme measure that would impose abortion on demand nationwide at any stage of pregnancy through federal statute. We are relieved that the Senate vote to advance this bill failed for the second time in less than three months. This bill insists that elective abortion, including late-term elective abortion, is a ‘human right’ and ‘women’s health care’ -- something that should be promoted, funded, and celebrated. S. 4132 is far more extreme than Roe v. Wade. It would invalidate widely supported laws that protect women and unborn children from an unscrupulous abortion industry, would force all Americans to support abortion here and abroad with their tax dollars, and seeks to force religious hospitals and health care professionals to perform abortions against their beliefs.
“More than 60 million unborn children have already lost their lives to abortion, and countless women suffer from the physical and emotional trauma of abortion. This radical bill would add millions more to that tragic toll. As a nation built on the recognition that every human being is endowed by its Creator with the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we implore Congress to stop pushing abortion as a solution to the needs of women and young girls, and instead embrace public policy that fully respects and facilitates these rights and the needs of both mother and child.”