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Pope Francis calls for day of prayer for Ukraine

Pope Francis gives the Angelus address on Jan. 23, 2022 / Vatican Media

Vatican City, Jan 23, 2022 / 11:55 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Sunday called for January 26 to be a day of prayer for peace in Ukraine, as the threat rises of Russian invasion into the Eastern European country.

“I am following with concern the increase of tensions that threaten to inflict a new blow to the peace in Ukraine, and call into question the security of the European continent, with wider repercussions,” the pope said after his weekly Angelus address Jan. 23.

“I make a heartfelt appeal to all people of good will, that they may raise prayers to God Almighty, that every political action and initiative may serve human brotherhood, rather than partisan interests,” he stated.

Russia has sent an estimated 100,000 troops to the Ukrainian border. U.S. President Joe Biden said at a press conference on Jan. 19 that he expected Russian President Vladimir Putin to order an invasion.

The British government said on Jan. 22 that Russia may be plotting to install a pro-Kremlin leader in Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv.

“Those who pursue their own interests, to the detriment of others, disregard their human vocation, as we were all created as brothers and sisters,” Pope Francis said. “For this reason, and with concern, given the current tensions, I propose that next Wednesday, January 26, be a day of prayer for peace.”

Catholic bishops in Europe have also expressed support for Ukraine and appealed to Christians to pray for peace.

The pope’s appeal for Ukraine came after he led the weekly recitation of the Angelus, a traditional Marian prayer, from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square.

People wave at Pope Francis during his Angelus address on Jan. 23, 2022. Vatican Media
People wave at Pope Francis during his Angelus address on Jan. 23, 2022. Vatican Media

In his address before the prayer, Francis spoke about the day’s Gospel reading, “the first word of Jesus’ preaching recorded in the Gospel of Luke,” particularly when Jesus says: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled.”

“Let us dwell on this ‘today,’” the pope said. “The Word of God is always ‘today.’ It begins with a ‘today:’ when you read the Word of God, a ‘today’ begins in your soul, if you understand it well.”

Speaking on Word of God Sunday, Pope Francis thanked those who preach and proclaim the Gospel with fidelity and in a way that rouses hearts. He also addressed the problem of religious talks or homilies which are too “generic, abstract.”

There are homilies which “do not touch the soul and the life of the people,” he said, explaining that the reason this happens is “because they lack the power of this ‘today;’ what Jesus ‘fills with meaning’ by the power of the Spirit, is today.”

“Yes, at times one hears impeccable conferences, well-constructed speeches, but they do not move the heart and so everything remains as before,” he noted. “Even many homilies — I say it with respect but with pain — are abstract, and instead of awakening the soul, they put it to sleep. When the faithful start looking at their watches — ‘when is this going to end?’ — they put the soul to sleep,” he said.

Pope Francis encouraged everyone to read and re-read a small passage of scripture every day: “Keep the Gospel in your pocket or your bag, to read it on your travels, at any moment, and read it calmly. In time we will discover that these words are made especially for us, for our life.”

“The Word of God, is indeed alive and effective; it changes us, it enters into our affairs, it illuminates our daily lives, it comforts and brings order. Remember: the Word of God transforms an ordinary day into the today in which God speaks to us,” he said.

Francis suggested that during this liturgical year, it would be good for Catholics to spend time in personal reflection on the Gospel of Luke, the Gospel proclaimed at Mass on Sundays.

“Let us familiarize ourselves with the Gospel, it will bring us the newness and joy of God,” he said.

St. Marianne Cope

St. Marianne Cope

Feast date: Jan 23

St. Marianne Cope was born in western Germany in 1838. She entered religious life in Syracuse, N.Y. in 1862. She served as a teacher and principal in several schools in the state and established two of the first hospitals in the central New York area: St. Elizabeth Hospital in Utica and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse.

In 1883, Mother Marianne’s community was the only one of fifty to respond positively to an emissary from Hawaii who requested Catholic sisters to provide health care on the Hawaiian Islands, especially to those with leprosy.

Over the next five years, St. Marianne set up a system of long-term education and care for her patients.

She ministered to patients at Kalaupapa on the island of Molokai. Her time of service overlapped with the last years of St. Damien of Molokai, a priest who served victims of Hansen’s disease and himself died of leprosy.

St. Marianne promised her sisters that none of them would ever contract the disease. To this day, no sister has. Her care earned her the affectionate title “beloved mother of the outcasts.”

She died in 1918 and was beatified on May 14, 2005 and canonized on October 21, 2012, both by Pope Benedict XVI.

"At a time when little could be done for those suffering from this terrible disease, Marianne Cope showed the highest love, courage and enthusiasm," Pope Benedict XVI said in his homily during the Mass for her canonization. "She is a shining and energetic example of the best of the tradition of Catholic nursing sisters and of the spirit of her beloved Saint Francis."

St. Ildephonsus

St. Ildephonsus

Feast date: Jan 23

St. Ildephonsus was the Archbishop of Toledo, and died 23 January, 667. He was born of a distinguished family and was the nephew of St. Eugenius, his predecessor in the See of Toledo. At an early age, despite the determined opposition of his father, he embraced the monastic life in the monastery of Agli, near Toledo. He was ordained a deacon, around the year 630. He was called by King Reccesvinth, near the end of 657 to fill the archiepiscopal throne of Toledo, where he governed the Church of Toledo for just over nine years and was buried in the Basilica of Saint Leocadia.

Ildephonsus had a strong devotion to the Blessd Mother, and it is said that  one day he was praying before the relics of Saint Leocadia, when the martyr arose from her tomb and thanked the saint for the devotion he showed towards the Mother of God. It was also related that on another occasion the Blessed Virgin appeared to him in person and presented him with a priestly vestment, to reward him for his zeal in honoring her.

The literary work of Ildephonsus is more widely known than the details of his life, and merits for him a distinguished place in the role of Spanish writers.

Biden reaffirms support for abortion on anniversary of Roe v. Wade

U.S. President Joe Biden arrives at the Vatican to meet Pope Francis Oct. 29, 2021 / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jan 22, 2022 / 10:40 am (CNA).

President Joe Biden pledged to defend a so-called right to abortion and reaffirmed his commitment to the widespread availability of the procedure in a Jan. 22 statement marking the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

“The constitutional right established in Roe v. Wade nearly 50 years ago today is under assault as never before,” reads the statement, which was co-signed by Vice President Kamala Harris. “It is a right we believe should be codified into law, and we pledge to defend it with every tool we possess.”

“We are deeply committed to protecting access to health care, including reproductive health care—and to ensuring that this country is not pushed backwards on women’s equality,” the statement continues. 

The statement was released one day after tens of thousands of pro-life advocates gathered in Washington for the annual March for Life

Biden and Harris condemned efforts by pro-life lawmakers to enact restrictions on abortion, saying that “in Texas, Mississippi, and many other states around the country, access to reproductive health care is under attack.” 

“These state restrictions constrain the freedom of all women,” they wrote, adding that such restrictions are “particularly devastating for those who have fewer options and fewer resources, such as those in underserved communities, including communities of color and many in rural areas.” 

In addition to support of codifying a right to an abortion throughout the entirety of a pregnancy, Biden and Harris wrote that they will “continue to work with Congress on the Women’s Health Protection Act.” 

The Women’s Health Protection Act would establish “a statutory right for health care professionals to provide abortion and the right for their patients to receive care, free from medically unnecessary restrictions that single out abortion care.” 

If passed, the bill would also eliminate requirements including mandatory waiting periods and ultrasounds before the procedure can be performed. 

Biden and Harris wrote that it is important to “ensure that our daughters and granddaughters have the same fundamental rights that their mothers and grandmothers fought for and won on this day, 49 years ago.” 

“At this pivotal moment, we recommit to strengthening access to critical reproductive health care, defending the constitutional right established by Roe, and protecting the freedom of all people to build their own future,” the statement reads. 

Biden is the second Catholic president and the first to be elected since Roe v. Wade. In an interview with The Washingtonian when Roe was issued, Biden said he was more moderate on many social issues, including abortion. 

"But when it comes to issues like abortion, amnesty, and acid, I'm about as liberal as your grandmother," Biden said at the time. "I don't like the Supreme Court decision on abortion. I think it went too far. I don't think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body."

While in the Senate, Biden repeatedly voted for legislation that would prevent the taxpayer funding of abortion. However, his views on abortion began to shift over time. 

By his last year in the Senate prior to becoming vice president, Biden received a zero rating by the National Right to Life Committee. The last time Biden received a score above zero from the pro-life committee was in 2003-2004.

“There’s no surprise here,” said Mercedes Schlapp, former strategic communications director for the Trump administration, in a Jan. 21 interview with EWTN’s Owen Jensen. “We knew he was going to be radical on abortion. We knew he was going to support abortion— late term abortions. We know he’s obsessed and [the Democratic] party is obsessed with codifying Roe v. Wade.”

“As Catholics, we need to be vocal,” she continued. “We need to stand strong and we need to tell the president this is not right. We need to defend the unborn.”

These are the best signs we saw at the March for Life

Yuni and Natalie Wu of the Lexington-area in Kentucky at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. / Katie Yoder/CNA

Washington D.C., Jan 22, 2022 / 07:20 am (CNA).

Tens of thousands of Americans attended the 49th March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Friday to challenge the legality of abortion and celebrate a culture of life. The largest annual pro-life event in the country marks the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling which legalized abortion nationwide.

Here are the 15 of the best signs that CNA saw at the march:

A man raises his Baby Yoda sign during a rally held on the National Mall at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
A man raises his Baby Yoda sign during a rally held on the National Mall at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
Yuni and Natalie Wu of the Lexington-area in Kentucky at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
Yuni and Natalie Wu of the Lexington-area in Kentucky at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
A woman holds up a sign while marching outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
A woman holds up a sign while marching outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
A man holds up a sign while marching outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
A man holds up a sign while marching outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
A young woman holds another Baby Yoda Sign outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
A young woman holds another Baby Yoda Sign outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
Young adults hold colorful signs outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
Young adults hold colorful signs outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
A woman sports a message on her coat outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
A woman sports a message on her coat outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
Ben (12) and Madeline (turning 14 on Jan. 21) of Fredericksburg, Virginia, at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
Ben (12) and Madeline (turning 14 on Jan. 21) of Fredericksburg, Virginia, at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA



A close-up of Akili’s sign at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
A close-up of Akili’s sign at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
Young women from Charlotte, North Carolina, display their handmade signs during a rally on the National Mall at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
Young women from Charlotte, North Carolina, display their handmade signs during a rally on the National Mall at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
18-year-old Akili of Warrenton, Virginia, at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
18-year-old Akili of Warrenton, Virginia, at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
A woman holds her pro-life sign during a rally held on the National Mall at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
A woman holds her pro-life sign during a rally held on the National Mall at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
Mary St. Hilaire, of Wichita, Kansas (left), and Kristina Massa, 22, of Lincoln, Nebraska, at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
Mary St. Hilaire, of Wichita, Kansas (left), and Kristina Massa, 22, of Lincoln, Nebraska, at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
Two women gather during a rally held on the National Mall at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
Two women gather during a rally held on the National Mall at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
Young people pose with their signs outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
Young people pose with their signs outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA

Missed the March for Life? Here it is, in a 45-second video

Students for Life of America estimates that about 150,000 people attended the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022, based an analysis of a video of the marchers. / Screen shot of Students for Life of America video

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jan 22, 2022 / 06:26 am (CNA).

Missed the March for Life? Well, can you watch the whole thing in the time it takes to say three Hail Marys.

As it has done in the past, the pro-life group Students for Life released a 45-second-long time-lapse video of the marchers filing past an elevated camera set up along the route.

The turnout for the Jan. 21 march in Washington, D.C., as you can see, was huge. While it's not the practice of the march's organizers or the police to provide specific estimates of the size of the crowd, Students for Life, calculates that about 150,000 people paraded past its camera post.

"The cold couldn't dampen the spirits of the Pro-Life Generation who knew we were celebrating the last anniversary of Roe v. Wade," the group, officially Students for Life of America, tweeted on Friday. "The largest human rights march in the world IS against abortion." You can watch the the march video below.

Impressive, no? You also don't want to miss the powerful speech Father Mike Schmitz of "Bible in a Year" fame delivered at the rally right before the march. Here's the EWTN video of the speech:

March for Life 2022: 'A great witness to the sanctity of human life'

Participants of the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. / CNA

Washington D.C., Jan 21, 2022 / 18:44 pm (CNA).

Participants returned in large numbers to the annual March for Life Friday, braving frigid weather one year after the event’s pandemic-related virtual shutdown to demonstrate solidarity for the unborn at the start what could be a decisive year for the pro-life movement.

Billed as the “largest human rights demonstration in the world,” the daylong gathering began tentatively with scattered clusters of bundled participants trickling into the National Mall on a clear but chilly morning. That it was bracingly cold was apparent from the the woolen socks Franciscan friars wore beneath their sandal straps.

The ongoing coronavirus crisis, coupled with tightened COVID-19 restrictions in the District of Columbia, kept some regulars at home. But by the start of a mid-day, pre-march rally, headlined by a passionate speech by “Bible in a Year” podcast star Father Mike Schmitz, the size of the crowd had swelled into the tens of thousands, resembling a typical year’s turnout.

But this year’s march was anything but typical. The possibility that the country’s highest court later this year might strike down the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide — and sparked the first March for Life 49 years ago — lent a festive, anticipatory air to the day’s rituals, culminating in a walk up Constitution Avenue to the steps of the Supreme Court.

“We are hoping and praying that this year, 2022, will bring a historic change for life,” Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, the event’s organizer, said at the rally.

“Roe,” she said, “is not settled law.”

No time for complacency

Such statements carry extra weight this year because of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a pivotal Mississippi abortion case that many in the pro-life movement see as the best — and possibly last — opportunity to unravel the tightly woven legal framework that has produced some 62 million abortions across the United States, a staggering toll the Catholic Church views as an epic human tragedy. A decision in the case isn’t expected until the end of the court’s term in June.

“The Supreme Court, God-willing, (is) poised to affirm the Dobbs case, to prevent abortions after 15 weeks, but also to begin, and we hope, the dismantling of Roe v. Wade,” said Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), who spoke during the rally.

The intense polarization surrounding the case was made manifest by a brazen publicity stunt by an activist group called Catholics for Choice, which on Thursday night beamed carefully calibrated pro-choice messages on the facade of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception here, while a prayer vigil to end abortion took place inside. Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the Archbishop of Washington, criticized the group’s actions, which another prelate, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone called “diabolical.”

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said the pro-life movement cannot afford to become “complacent,” regardless of the outcome of Dobbs.

“The Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion is a response of love for both mothers and their children in the womb. The Church’s teaching proclaims a message of life, reminding us that every life is a sacred gift from God from the moment of conception until natural death,” Lori said in a statement.

“We cannot build a truly just society and remain complacent when faced with the massive impact of Roe v. Wade, which has taken over 60 million lives since 1973. May we pray, fast, and work for the day when the gift of every human life is protected in law and welcomed in love,” he added.

‘A large Catholic presence’

Thursday night’s drama gave way to an upbeat show of solidarity at Friday’s march. By longstanding practice, neither organizers nor the police provided estimates of the number of marchers.

More than 200 students from Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio arrived by bus for the march before 5 a.m. on Friday morning, two students told CNA. The overnight bus drive took more than five hours. 

Participants at the March for Life in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 21, 2022. CNA
Participants at the March for Life in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 21, 2022. CNA

This was the first March for Life for 18-year-old Lucia Hunt from Dallas, Texas, and 21-year-old Niklas Koehler from Ashburn, Virginia. They said the march met their expectations. 

“I definitely was looking forward to seeing a whole bunch of people defending life and there's this huge crowd out there so I’m definitely happy with the pro-life movement,” Koehler said.

“I was expecting a large Catholic presence and so far I've seen it, which I'm pretty happy about,” Hunt said. He explained that he’s pro-life “because I believe in the truth, and the truth is that a child is a human being from the moment of conception up until natural death.”

Added Hunt: “Not only is a child a human being, but a human being is also a child of God, and I believe in protecting that life.”

Many of the marchers were there for the first time, including a group of young women from Charlotte, North Carolina. 

“I just think we can have more options for people rather than just ending lives,”  Millie Bryan, a 17-year-old from Charlotte, told CNA. Bryan was attending her first-ever March for Life, and was toting a sign that read “Stop telling women they can’t finish school, have a career, succeed without abortion.” 

She added that she was most looking forward to “getting the opportunity to see the people come together to fight for something that’s really important, to fight for life.” 

Bagpipers and drummers with American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property concluded the march. Members of the group carried waving red flags and reverently carried a platform topped with a statue of Our Lady of Fatima.

“There are still a lot of people here. It’s great that people still made the sacrifice to come out,” said Father David Yallaly, who attended the march with the Chicago-based group Crusaders for Life. “It’s a great witness to the message of the sanctity of human life.”

St John Cantius parish in Chicago seeks to reassure faithful amid changes

St. John Cantius parish in Chicago, Ill. / Tom Gill via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Chicago, Ill., Jan 21, 2022 / 17:16 pm (CNA).

The priests of Chicago’s St. John Cantius parish have pledged both continued support for their parishioners and obedience to the liturgical changes implemented by Pope Francis and Cardinal Blase Cupich.

The church is well known for its dignified liturgical celebrations according to both the Novus Ordo and the usus antiquior.

“When Pope Francis issued his motu proprio Traditionis custodes, some worried it might spell the end of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius. But let not your heart be troubled. We’re not going anywhere,” Fr. Joshua Caswell, Superior General of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius and pastor of the West Town Chicago neighborhood’s St. John Cantius Parish, said Jan. 16 at the 7:30 a.m. Sunday Mass.

“We fully acknowledge that many of you have endured a heavy cross and have been preoccupied by confusion, uncertainty, and sadness,” Caswell said. “Each of us, brothers and priests, have shared a great deal in these emotions and we carried that same cross right alongside of you”

The canons regular, founded in 1998, follow a form of vowed religious life that celebrates both the Tridentine and the post-Second Vatican Council forms of the Catholic Mass. In addition to St. John Cantius, they work in the Chicago archdiocese at St. Peter Parish in Volo, Ill., a village to the northwest of Chicago. They also staff a parish in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois and a chapel in Michigan.

“We are committed to continuing our ministry to you, to restore the sacred in all things,” Caswell told the congregation Sunday. “The canons regular are just as committed to filial piety for the Office of the Archbishop of Chicago and the Bishop of Rome.”

Last month Cardinal Cupich issued a policy for the Archdiocese of Chicago that curtails the celebration of the Mass and other sacraments according to the usus antiquior.

The canons regular celebrate both forms of the Mass, including the rarely celebrated Latin-language ordinary form of the Mass. Benedict XVI had granted broad permission for the usus antiquior, but these permissions are in question following Pope Francis’ Traditionis custodes. 

Under the Chicago archdiocese policy which takes effect Jan. 25, clerics who wish to use the “old rite” must submit their requests to Cupich in writing and agree to abide by the new norms under Pope Francis’ motu proprio.

Those rules specify that the usus antiquior must incorporate scripture readings in the vernacular, using the official translation of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Such Masses cannot take place in a parish church unless both the archbishop and the Vatican agree to grant an exemption. 

Further, Cupich’s policy also prohibits the celebration of Traditional Latin Masses on the first Sunday of every month, on Christmas, during the Triduum, on Easter Sunday, and on Pentecost Sunday.

These changes will take place at St. John Cantius Church effective Jan. 25, the church website said.

“We are grateful that His Eminence Cardinal Blase Cupich has pledged to empower our community to live our charism and to pursue our mission in accordance with his policy which implements the Holy Father’s motu proprio,” said Caswell.

“This means that for the foreseeable future, we will continue to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass both in the Ordinary Form and the Extraordinary Form. We will continue to pray ‘ad orientem’,” the priest said.

The Latin term “ad orientem,” meaning “towards the east,” is used to describe liturgies where the priest faces the altar. This was generally the orientation of the Catholic liturgy before the Second Vatican.

On their website, the canons regular say both the ordinary form and the extraordinary form, as the “official liturgies of the Church,” are “the perfect fulfillment of the church’s unceasing obligation of praise due to our God who is the source of all life.”

“They are the center of our spirituality and religious life by being for us the primary means by which we are daily drawn closer to God.”

In a Dec. 27, 2021 statement, Caswell said he had an audience with Cupich on Dec. 23, in which he assured the cardinal that the canons regular are committed to unity with the archbishop and the pope.

 

“His Eminence indicated he wants the work of the Canons Regular to continue, albeit within the boundaries established by the Archdiocesan policy to take effect January 25, 2022.”

“We will be petitioning His Eminence for various permissions. The cardinal has encouraged us to do so,” he said.

Caswell said the canons regular received the news of the new policy “with no little sadness,” but recognized the challenge to “live more fully our charism.”

“In this moment we are prayerfully discerning how to be a bridge for unity in the life of the Church by faithfully implementing the archdiocesan policy in accord with our spiritual and pastoral patronage, as well as the guidance of the Archbishop of Chicago, and at the same time remain faithful to our mission,” Caswell said in the message.

He asked the faithful to join the canons regular in praying a rosary novena beginning Jan. 25

“Throughout this novena, our hearts will be fixed on Mary’s—whose heart was also pierced—and who will ultimately say to us, as she told the wedding guests at Cana, pointing to her Son: ‘Do whatever He tells you’,” said Caswell.

US Supreme Court allows Texas abortion law challenge to stay with state's top court

Thousands of pro-life advocates gathered outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 1, 2021, in conjunction with oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. / Katie Yoder/CNA

Washington D.C., Jan 21, 2022 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday declined to send a legal challenge against a Texas abortion law back to a lower federal court— which has already blocked enforcement of the law once— sending the challenge instead to the Texas Supreme Court. 

The Jan. 20 ruling, which leaves the law in place for now, is the latest in a long series regarding the Texas “heartbeat” abortion law, in effect since September 2021, which bans abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat except in medical emergencies.

The law relies on private lawsuits filed by citizens to enforce the ban. This framework allows for awards of at least $10,000 for plaintiffs who successfully sue those who perform or aid and abet abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. 

The case will now proceed to the Texas Supreme Court, which the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has asked to rule on whether certain state licensing officials, cited in a December Supreme Court opinion, have the power to enforce the abortion law. The law will remain in place at least until the Texas Supreme Court responds to the circuit court.

​​In the Jan. 20 opinion, the Supreme Court declined a request brought by several pro-abortion organizations to send the case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson, “without delay” back to the district court. 

The Supreme Court’s decision to decline the request was given without explanation. Three justices dissented from the opinion, with Justice Sonya Sotomayor decrying the decision to send the case to the state Supreme Court as serving to “extend the deprivation of the federal constitutional rights of its citizens through procedural manipulation.”

The latest ruling follows a Dec. 10 decision by the court that the abortion providers can continue their legal challenge, but that the abortion law will remain in effect while the challenge plays out. 

In that December opinion, the Supreme Court did not rule on the constitutionality of the Texas law, but rather that the abortion providers’ lawsuit against certain executive licensing officials, such as the executive director of the Texas Medical Board, can continue. State court clerks, state judges, and the Texas attorney general cannot be sued, that ruling states.

A three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit had issued a ruling reinstating the law on Oct. 8, reversing an Oct. 6 decision to halt the law’s enforcement by Judge Robert Pitman of the Western District of Texas.

In a 5-4 decision issued Sept. 1, the Supreme Court declined to block the law from taking effect, but in late October decided to consider two challenges— one brought by the federal government, and the other by abortion providers— to the law on an expedited basis.

Judge blocks COVID vaccine mandate for federal employees

null / oasisamuel/Shutterstock

Denver Newsroom, Jan 21, 2022 / 15:19 pm (CNA).

A federal judge on Friday issued a preliminary injunction against a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal employees.

Judge Jeffrey Brown of the District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled Jan. 21 that federal employees were likely to succeed in challenging the vaccine requirement. 

“The court notes at the outset that this case is not about whether folks should get vaccinated against COVID-19—the court believes they should,” the decision reads. “It is not even about the federal government’s power, exercised properly, to mandate vaccination of its employees.” 

“It is instead about whether the President can, with the stroke of a pen and without the input of Congress, require millions of federal employees to undergo a medical procedure as a condition of their employment,” the decision continues. “That, under the current state of the law as just recently expressed by the Supreme Court, is a bridge too far.”

Brown wrote that “Regardless of what the conventional wisdom may be concerning vaccination, no legal remedy adequately protects the liberty interests of employees who must choose between violating a mandate of doubtful validity or consenting to an unwanted medical procedure that cannot be undone.”

The Justice Department immediately appealed the ruling. The White House has said that 98% of federal employees are vaccinated. 

“Obviously we are confident in our legal authority here,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Jan. 21.

President Joe Biden issued the vaccine mandate for millions of federal employees in September, though enforcement of the mandate was delayed until early 2022.

Employees could not agree to regular testing for the virus as an alternative to the vaccine, though they could seek out medical or religious exemptions. Employees who failed to comply with the mandate risked losing their jobs. 

Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors has already been suspended. 

Last week, the Supreme Court blocked Biden’s vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees. The court allowed a federal rule requiring millions of U.S. health care workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

In its December 2020 Note on the morality of using some anti-Covid-19 vaccines, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated that “vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation” and “therefore, it must be voluntary.”