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Justices seem willing to allow Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban

WASHINGTON (CNS) — In the Supreme Court’s first major abortion case in decades — which...

Mike Pence calls on Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade

Former US Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Nov. 30, 2021. / Screenshot taken from Susan B. Anthony List livestream

Washington D.C., Nov 30, 2021 / 17:06 pm (CNA).

Former vice president Mike Pence is calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. 

“I came here today to speak about right and wrong, to say life is a human right, and urge the Supreme Court of the United States to choose life,” he said at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. 

Pence delivered his remarks in anticipation of the oral arguments in the Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on Dec. 1. The case involves a Mississippi law restricting most abortions after 15 weeks, and challenges two landmark decisions: Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which upheld Roe in 1992.

“As we stand here today, we may well be on the verge of an era when the Supreme Court sends Roe v. Wade to the ash heap of history where it belongs,” Pence said. 

A nonprofit organization founded by Pence, Advancing American Freedom, filed an amicus brief together with other organizations urging the court to overturn Roe and Casey.

“We are asking the court, in no uncertain terms, to make history,” Pence said at the Nov. 30 event. “We are asking the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn Roe v. Wade and restore the sanctity of life to the center of American law.”

He emphasized what he called the “truth about abortion.”

“Since the Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973, the heartbreaking consequences of the Roe decision cannot be overstated,” he said. “More than 62 million unborn children in the United States have been aborted.”

Their lives mattered, he urged.

“In the 48 years since the court’s ruling, unborn children have been relegated into a caste of second-class citizens, devoid of the most basic human rights,” he said. “Precious babies have lived outside the protection of the law, and at the mercy of a culture that devalues them and an abortion industry that profits from their suffering.”

Pence also highlighted the women wounded by abortion, including those facing regret after their abortions. He hoped that Roe v. Wade would be overturned, and declared that “Americans are ready for an end to the judicial tyranny of Roe v. Wade.”

“When the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade — and I believe with all my heart that day will come either now or in the near future — it will not come as a surprise to anyone,” he said. “It will simply be the culmination of a 50-year journey whose course and destination has been driven by the will of the American people.”

He called for prayers for the justices.

“I urge my fellow Americans to cherish life, to pray, tomorrow and every day between now and next spring for the justices on our Supreme Court to have the courage to seize this moment for life and join us as we humbly ask our new conservative majority on the Supreme Court of the United States,” he said, to “Overturn Roe v. Wade and give America a new beginning for life.”

Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, introduced Pence as a “longtime friend and pro-life leader” whose “tireless advocacy personally and at nearly every level of public service has been indispensable in getting us to this pivotal moment.”

“There’s no question that because of heroes like Mike Pence, and specifically because of Mike Pence, we are standing here today,” she said. 

“Without Trump and Pence, we would not be sitting here right now,” she told CNA of the previous administration, which appointed three Supreme Court justices. 

She also credited Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for refusing to move forward with the confirmation of Merrick Garland as a Supreme Court justice in 2016, during the Obama administration.

Like Pence, Dannenfelser expressed hope for the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

“It makes a lot of sense, given that four justices agreed to answer only one question — if any pre-viability abortion limit is constitutional,” she said of the question posed by the Dobbs case. 

The Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case asks “Whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional,” or whether states can ban abortion before a fetus can survive outside the womb. 

In Roe v. Wade, the court ruled that states could not ban abortion before viability, which the court determined to be 24 to 28 weeks into pregnancy. Nearly 20 years later, the court upheld Roe in 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.”

Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, the subject of the Dobbs case, bans abortion weeks before the point of viability.

“To set themselves up with that question to only just go back to Roe v. Wade seems rather unlikely,” Dannenfelser told CNA. “The question in my mind is, what would it be? What would it look like?” 

“The stakes are nothing less than the lives of millions of little boys and girls waiting to be born and the welfare of their mothers,” she said during her introductory remarks.

Chile legislature defeats bill that would have permitted elective abortion

Credit: Syda Productions/Shutterstock. / null

Santiago, Chile, Nov 30, 2021 / 16:23 pm (CNA).

The lower house of Chile’s legislature defeated Tuesday a bill that would have legalized elective abortion up to 14 weeks of pregnancy.

The bill was defeated in the Chamber of Deputies Nov. 30 by a vote of 65-62, with one abstention. 

Since September 2017, abortion in Chile has been legal up to 12 weeks of pregnancy on the grounds of rape, and there is no upper limit for fetal non-viability or risk to the life of the mother.

Rosario Corvalán, a lawyer with the legislative department of the Chilean NGO Comunidad y Justicia, expressed her joy over "the result and for the message it sends to citizens."

"They must stop giving us the message that ‘the majority of citizens want these bills,’ because our representatives have spoken and they don’t want abortion," Corvalán said.

Voting against the bill from the Christian Democratic Party were Matías Walker, Jorge Sabag, and Joanna Pérez, among others.

One of those absent for the vote was Gabriel Boric of Social Convergence, who is also a presidential candidate for the Apruebo Dignidad coalition who will be in the Dec. 19 presidential runoff election against José Antonio Kast of the Republican Party.

In his campaign platform, Boric promises to work to incorporate a comprehensive feminist perspective and to implement policies such as “legal, free and safe abortion on demand” as well as changes to the gender identity law.

Corvalán explained that some legislators who voted against the bill were in favor of abortion on the grounds passed in 2017. However, "they aren’t going to vote for abortion on demand" because they realize the manipulation involved and the end to be achieved.

“Although the law can’t change reality, it can be instructive. If you see that the majority of Congress says that ‘abortion is a crime,’ that helps citizens to reflect and say that ‘abortion is a bad thing,’” the lawyer said.

Corvalán encouraged pro-life people “not to stop defending their ideas, thinking that they’re an exception or something unusual. Let's go back to this common sense idea of defending the life of an innocent person."

The bill was introduced in January. 

The Chamber of Deputies’ Committee on Women, Equity and Gender had voted 7-6 against recommending the bill in August, but the larger body discussed it nevertheless.

After the debate in the lower house, the bill was sent back to the committee and was tabled until after the first round of the presidential elections Nov. 21.

The bill was debated during three sessions amid other issues, and was defeated in a full session of the Chamber of Deputies.

New Loyola Marymount alumni petition targets use of preferred pronouns

Alumni of Loyola Marymount University have launched a petition drive calling for the Los Angeles-area Catholic school to stop encouraging students to use preferred pronouns tied to their gender identity. / Shutterstock

Boston, Mass., Nov 30, 2021 / 14:05 pm (CNA).

After learning that students at Loyola Marymount University allegedly were required to include their preferred pronouns on assignments and are given the option to change their name and gender identity, an alumni-led group is petitioning the Los Angeles-area Catholic school to stop its “institutional commitment to gender ideology."

The petition partly stems from an email that a professor, Christopher Miller, allegedly sent to students on Sept. 9. The content of the email was posted on Twitter Nov. 12 by Libs of Tik Tok, a popular conservative Twitter account.

Loyola Marymount's website identifies Miller as Bhagwan Mallinath Assistant Professor of Jainism and Yoga Studies. Jainism is an ancient Indian religion.

“I added a new syllabus to Brightspace and the one major change we all need to take note of is that all are required to include their gender pronouns next to their name in their blog posts,” the alleged email reads. “I will count this toward your grade when I check for your name each time I grade the blogs.” Brightspace is a software platform for online teaching.

“Our own LMU Provost links this article in his own signature after he identifies his pronouns,” Miller allegedly wrote. “For those who are not aware of why this is important please take a few minutes to read this article.”

The linked article, addressing the importance of respecting one’s personal choice of pronouns, appears on a website called MyPronouns.org. 

“Using someone’s correct personal pronouns is a way to respect them and create an inclusive environment, just as using a person’s name can be a way to respect them,” the article states.

“Just as it can be offensive or even harassing to make up a nickname for someone and call them that nickname against their will, it can be offensive or harassing to guess at someone’s pronouns and refer to them using those pronouns if that is not how that person wants to be known,” the article continues. “Or, worse, actively choosing to ignore the pronouns someone has stated that they go by could imply the oppressive notion that intersex, transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people do not or should not exist.”

The petition calls on Loyola Marymount to stop promoting gender ideology and to renew its "institutional commitment to Roman Catholicism." The group behind the effort is called RenewLMU, which describes itself as “an alliance of students, alumni, faculty, donors, and other LMU supporters who seek to strengthen LMU’s Catholic mission and identity.”

“I was a student at LMU, and I would never have wanted a professor to try to force me to do something against my Catholic faith,” Anne Rosen, a 1985 Loyola Marymount graduate who wrote the petition, told CNA.

“This professor's actions contradict the Catholic faith because they both presuppose and reinforce what Pope Francis calls ‘gender ideology,’" she added.

RenewLMU has another petition underway calling for the university to re-install a statue of St. Junípero Serra on the school's Westchester campus. The university said in a statement to CNA that it removed the statue of the Franciscan missionary for repairs in the summer of 2020 and has since formed a task force to "invite feedback from the community and to develop recommendations on future plans." Those deliberations are still underway, the statement said.

The petition regarding preferred pronouns and gender identity includes a screenshot of what purports to be an email insignia from the dean of the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts, Robbin D. Crabtree, which includes her pronouns and a link labeled “why they matter.” 

The email signature block allegedly belonging to Robbin Crabtree, daean of Loyola Marymount University's Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts, includes a reference to preferred pronouns and a link labeled “why they matter.”. Courtesy of RenewLMU
The email signature block allegedly belonging to Robbin Crabtree, daean of Loyola Marymount University's Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts, includes a reference to preferred pronouns and a link labeled “why they matter.”. Courtesy of RenewLMU

CNA emailed Miller and the university's media office seeking comment but did not receive a response prior to publication. CNA was unable to reach Crabtree or Thomas Poon, Loyola Marymount's executive vice president and provost, for comment.

Another catalyst for Rosen’s petition is Loyola Marymount's “Chosen Name Project.” The project encourages students to choose a name, preferred gender, and pronoun identity, which all can be changed on a student’s personal information page on a school system called “PROWL,” a self-service portal for students.

A chosen name is “simply a name that a person uses in their daily life that is different than the name appearing on their legal records,” according to the university website. Transgender and “gender non-conforming” members of the college, students who use a nickname, and international students are some examples of students who “are most likely to benefit from” using a “chosen name,” according to the website.

The “Chosen Name Project” also includes a video put out by campus ministry staff that encourages students to reflect on their name. Among the questions the video poses is, “Can this name of mine represent my mission in life? Or do I need another name to give me clarity of mission to this world?”

At odds with Pope's teaching

The petition on RenewLMU.com reads: “Forcing students to declare their pronouns violates the promotion of justice because it violates the right of free speech. The right of free speech, which LMU says it protects, includes the right to remain silent, the right not to say something that you do not want to say. Compelled speech is not free speech.”

The petition says that forcing students to declare their pronouns also violates students' privacy. 

“Some students may want to remain private about their gender identity,” the petition says. “It is invasive and inappropriate for a professor to force his students to publicly declare their sexual orientation or their gender identity.”

The “service of faith” is also being violated, the petition says, because forcing students to declare their preferred pronouns signals endorsement of what Pope Francis has called "gender ideology.”

“The Pope teaches that the human body, as male or female, is part of the good gift of God’s creation. Any university whose mission statement includes the service of faith should protect students of faith from being forced to act against their faith,” the petition says.

Pope Francis has denounced gender ideology several times during his pontificate. In one instance, in an address to Polish bishops in July 2016, the pope stated that “in Europe, America, Latin America, Africa, and in some countries of Asia, there are genuine forms of ideological colonization taking place. And one of these — I will call it clearly by its name — is [the ideology of] ‘gender.’

"Today, children — children! — are taught in school that everyone can choose his or her sex. Why are they teaching this? Because the books are provided by the persons and institutions that give you money," the pope continued. "These forms of ideological colonization are also supported by influential countries. And this is terrible!”

The petition states that “we believe, as the Catholic Church believes, that all human beings deserve to be respected by everyone and protected against unjust discrimination,” and adds that “we should love all human beings, including every person with gender dysphoria.”

The petition continues: “Protecting people does not mean forcing other people to act contrary to their faith or their consciences. And loving all people does not mean speaking or acting contrary to the truth. As St. Edith Stein taught, ‘Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks truth.’”

The petition had collected 248 signatures as of Tuesday morning, Nov. 30, RenewLMU said.

Bishop Deeley presides at outdoor prayer service for unclaimed remains in South Portland

Bishop Robert Deeley leads a committal of unclaimed cremated remains at the Old Cemetery at Calvary in South Portland, Maine, Nov. 22, 2021. / Diocese of Portland

Portland, Maine, Nov 30, 2021 / 14:01 pm (CNA).

In view of the tombstones and damp terrain of the large and rolling Old Cemetery at Calvary, a small crowd stood reverently as Bishop Robert Deeley prayed over the unclaimed and cremated remains of ten people.

“May God grant them a merciful judgement, deliverance from death, and pardon of sin,” said Bishop Deeley. “May they rejoice forever in the presence of the eternal King and in the company of all the saints.”

Bishop Deeley then sprinkled holy water on the remains, which sat next to the All Souls burial plot, part of a special outdoor prayer service on Monday, November 22.

The rite of final commendation and committal of cremated remains is an act of mercy that serves as a reminder of the sacredness of the human person. In committing the body to its resting place, the community expresses the hope that, with all those who have gone before marked with the sign of faith, the deceased awaits the glory of the Resurrection. The rite of committal is an expression of the communion that exists between the Church on earth and the Church in heaven.

“We commend to Almighty God our brothers and sisters, and we commit their earthly remains to their resting place, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” the bishop prayed during the Prayer of Committal. “The Lord bless them and keep them.”

The remains on Monday came from area funeral homes.

“The diocese offers at no charge, to all funeral homes and to anyone who is considering scattering, the dignified committal of cremated remains at Calvary,” said Jessica Letendre, director of cemeteries for the Diocese of Portland.

“There are different reasons for remains to be unclaimed, including no family or the cost,” said Kenneth Greenleaf of Maine Catholic Cemeteries. “Bishop Deeley being at this service sends a powerful message that we have a bishop who is a leader that takes care of the poor and those in need.”

Respecting and taking care of families and the faithful departed is a central mission of Maine Catholic Cemeteries, one it proudly and humbly completes each day.

“We’re serving these families today. There are ten families here that don’t have anybody,” said Greenleaf. “We’re here serving them to make sure they are not forgotten.”

Joining the bishop on Monday was Monsignor Marc Caron, Deacon Mark Tuttle, and Sister Rita-Mae Bissonnette.

Fittingly, the service was held in November, a month in which Catholics are encouraged to pray for deceased loved ones and recall that they enjoy communion with each other on earth and with those who have preceded them in death.

Those in attendance at the service on Monday remained mindful of the persons, men and women, represented by the remains as they were commended to God in the hope of eternal peace.

“Burial in a Catholic cemetery recognizes baptismal commitment and gives witness, even in death, to our belief in the Resurrection,” said Letendre. “It was an honor to have Bishop Deeley preside over our outdoor prayer service on Monday afternoon, highlighting the great importance of respecting and revering all remains.”

One of the Corporal Works of Mercy is “bury the dead,” the act of which offers the opportunity to grieve and show others support during difficult times. Through prayer and action during these times, we show our respect for life, which is always a gift from God, and comfort to those who mourn.

“In gathering to bury the dead today, we are reminded of the humanity of those who we gather to bury, the way they shared the world in which we all live, and the charity they shared with others,” the bishop said during the service. “This is an act of mercy.”

This article was first published by the Diocese of Portland, and is reprinted with permission.

Pope Francis’ prayer intention for December is for catechists

Pope Francis meets young people of the Scholas Community at Rome’s Pontifical International College Maria Mater Ecclesiae, Nov. 25, 2021. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Vatican City, Nov 30, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis is asking Catholics to pray in December that catechists will witness to the Gospel with courage and creativity.

The pope made the appeal in his December prayer intention, shared with an accompanying video on Nov. 30.

“Let us pray for the catechists, summoned to announce the Word of God: may they be its witnesses, with courage and creativity and in the power of the Holy Spirit,” reads the prayer intention, promoted by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network.

A catechist is a Catholic who instructs others in Christian doctrine and the Gospel. Earlier this year, Pope Francis instituted a new ministry of catechist for lay people who have a particular call to serve the Catholic Church as a teacher of the faith.

In the video explaining his prayer intention, Pope Francis said that there is a need for “good catechists who are both companions and teachers.”

“The lay ministry of catechists is a vocation; it’s a mission. Being a catechist means that you ‘are a catechist,’ not that you ‘work as a catechist.’ It’s an entire way of being,” the pope said.

“We need creative people who proclaim the Gospel, but who proclaim it neither with a mute nor with a loudspeaker, but rather with their life, with gentleness, with a new language, and opening new ways,” he said.

Pope Francis noted that in many dioceses around the world, “evangelization is fundamentally in the hands of a catechist.”

The pope also expressed gratitude for catechists’ dedication to this mission in the service of the Church.

“Catechists have an invaluable mission for the transmission and growth of the faith,” Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis to Orthodox leader: May God prepare us to receive gift of full unity

Pope Francis meets with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I at the Vatican, Oct. 4, 2021. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Nov 30, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

On the feast of St. Andrew, Pope Francis expressed hope that Catholics and Orthodox Christians will collaborate together more often “to make visible our communion.”

In a message to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, the pope said that Christian unity would be realized through the grace of the Holy Spirit.

“Beloved brother in Christ, along the path towards full communion between our Churches, we are sustained by the intercession of the holy brothers Peter and Andrew, our patron saints,” Pope Francis said on Nov. 30.

“The full unity for which we yearn is, of course, a gift from God, through the grace of the Holy Spirit. May our Lord help us to be ready to embrace this gift through prayer, interior conversion, and openness to seeking and offering pardon.”

The pope sends a message each year on Nov. 30 to the Ecumenical Patriarch, who is regarded as the successor of St. Andrew the Apostle and “first among equals” in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

In this year’s message, Pope Francis recalled his recent meetings with Bartholomew I in Rome. The patriarch joined the pope at an interreligious prayer gathering for peace in front of the Colosseum and in signing a joint appeal at the Vatican asking countries to “achieve net-zero carbon emissions as soon as possible.”

“It was a source of joy for me that during your recent visit to Rome we were able not only to share our concerns regarding the present and future of our world but also to express our shared commitment to addressing issues of crucial significance for our whole human family, including the care of creation, the education of future generations, dialogue among the different religious traditions and the pursuit of peace,” Francis said.

“In this way, we as Pastors, together with our Churches, strengthen the profound bond that already unites us, since our common responsibility in the face of current challenges flows from our shared faith in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; in the one Lord Jesus Christ, his Son, who became man for our salvation, died and rose from the dead; and in the Holy Spirit, Lord and giver of life, who harmonizes differences without abolishing them.”

Pope Francis’ message to the Ecumenical Patriarch comes days before the pope departs for an apostolic visit to the predominantly Orthodox countries of Cyprus and Greece.

During his travels to the Mediterranean countries on Dec. 2-6, the pope will meet with Chrysostomos II, the Orthodox archbishop of Cyprus, and Ieronymos II, archbishop of Athens and All Greece.

The Holy See press office reported that a Vatican delegation traveled to Istanbul on Nov. 30 for a customary visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the feast of St. Andrew.

Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, led the delegation, which included the pontifical council’s secretary, Bishop Brian Farrell, and undersecretary, Msgr. Andrea Palmieri. They were joined by Msgr. Walter Erbi, the Charge d’Affaires of the apostolic nunciature in Turkey.

Koch read aloud the pope’s message at the end of the Divine Liturgy in the Orthodox Church of St. George in the Turkish capital.

In a short address, the Swiss cardinal referred to Patriarch Bartholomew’s hospitalization during a recent visit to the United States.

Koch said: “It has been a source of concern to us that Your All Holiness required hospitalization twice during your trip to America and that the doctors had to operate to insert a stent into your heart. We hope that this surgical measure will help you to continue your ecclesial service in good health.”

“When I read about it in the media, the thought crossed my mind that we perceive Your All Holiness as a living stent in the heart of your Church, in the heart of ecumenism and also in your commitment to the protection of God’s creation entrusted to us humans. In all of these aspects, you demonstrate deep care about the flow of oxygen, just as the stent inside a heart helps it to breathe easily.”

In his message, Pope Francis wrote: “United in this faith, let us seek with determination to make visible our communion.”

“While recognizing that there remain theological and ecclesiological questions at the heart of the work of our ongoing theological dialogue, it is my hope that Catholics and Orthodox may increasingly work together in those areas in which it is not only possible, but indeed imperative that we do so.”

Vatican cardinal criticizes advice to avoid word ‘Christmas’ in EU commission communications guide

Cardinal Pietro Parolin speaks in a Vatican News interview published Nov. 30, 2021. / Screenshot from Vatican News - Italiano YouTube channel.

Vatican City, Nov 30, 2021 / 06:22 am (CNA).

The Vatican’s Secretary of State on Tuesday criticized a European Commission communications guide discouraging staff from using the word “Christmas.”

In an interview published by Vatican News on Nov. 30, Cardinal Pietro Parolin suggested that the document was going “against reality” by downplaying Europe’s Christian roots.

He was commenting on a 32-page internal document called “#UnionOfEquality. European Commission Guidelines for Inclusive Communication,” launched on Oct. 26 by EU Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli.

Dalli announced on Nov. 30 that she was withdrawing the guidelines, saying that they “clearly need more work.”

The Italian newspaper Il Giornale reported on Nov. 28 that the guide urged employees at the European Commission, the executive branch of the EU, to “avoid assuming that everyone is Christian.”

“Not everyone celebrates the Christian holidays, and not all Christians celebrate them on the same dates,” the document said.

The guide encouraged officials based in the Belgian capital, Brussels, and Luxembourg to avoid a phrase such as “Christmas time can be stressful” and instead say “Holiday times can be stressful.”

It also recommended using the term “first name,” rather than “Christian name,” and said that when presenting hypothetical examples, officials should “not only choose names that are typically from one religion.”

Instead of “Maria and John are an international couple,” the guide recommended saying “Malika and Julio are an international couple.”

Parolin told Vatican News that the intention to avoid discrimination was laudable.

“But, in my opinion, this is certainly not the way to achieve this goal. Because in the end, it risks destroying, annihilating the person, in two main directions,” he said.

“The first is the diversity that characterizes our world. Unfortunately, the tendency is to homogenize everything, not knowing how to respect the rightful differences, which naturally must not become an adversarial issue or a source of discrimination, but must be integrated in order to build a full and integral humanity.”

He went on: “The second is forgetting what is a reality. And whoever goes against reality puts himself in serious danger. And then there is the cancelation of our roots, especially as regards Christian holidays, the Christian dimension of our Europe, too.”

“Of course, we know that Europe owes its existence and its identity to many contributions, but we certainly cannot forget that one of the main contributions, if not the main one, was Christianity itself. Therefore, destroying the diversity and destroying the roots means precisely to destroy the person.”

The advice concerning the word “Christmas” appeared in a section of the document called “Cultures, lifestyles or beliefs.”

Under the heading “Dos and Don’ts,” it said: “Consider the diversity of cultures, lifestyles, religions and socio-economic backgrounds in the composition of panels you organize, when inviting participants to events, and when selecting testing panels, focus groups, and your own communication teams.”

“Make space in your visual communication for different kinds of cultures, celebrations and rituals that are popular in different parts of the EU and in different communities.”

On Tuesday, Helena Dalli acknowledged concerns about the document, which she described as a “work in progress.”

“We are looking into these concerns with the view of addressing them in an updated version of the guidelines,” she wrote on her Twitter account on Nov. 30.

In an attached European Commission statement, she said: “My initiative to draft guidelines as an internal document for communication by Commission staff in their duties was intended to achieve an important aim: to illustrate the diversity of European culture and showcase the inclusive nature of the European Commission towards all walks of life and beliefs of European citizens.”

“However, the version of the guidelines published does not adequately serve this purpose. It is not a mature document and does not meet all Commission quality standards.”

“The guidelines clearly need more work. I therefore withdraw the guidelines and will work further on this document.”

Cardinal Parolin said that Pope Francis’ visit to Cyprus and Greece this week would take the pope to “the wellsprings of Europe.”

“So it seems to me that this journey comes at just the right time, it is a journey that reminds us precisely of these fundamental dimensions that cannot be erased,” he told Vatican News.

“We must rediscover the ability to integrate all these realities without ignoring them, without fighting them, without eliminating them and marginalizing them.”

Amid protests against Italy’s vaccine rules, Cardinal Parolin says Church’s message is clear

Cardinal Pietro Parolin attends an ordination at the Basilica of Sant'Eugenio in Rome, Sept. 5, 2020. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Verona, Italy, Nov 30, 2021 / 04:00 am (CNA).

Commenting on protests against Italy’s vaccine rules, the Vatican’s Secretary of State said that the Church’s message is clear that vaccination is an “act of love.”

In an interview with Vatican News published on Nov. 28, Cardinal Pietro Parolin was asked about “No Vax” and “No Pass” demonstrations in cities across Italy.

“No Vax” refers to demonstrators who object to COVID-19 vaccines, while “No Pass” protesters focus on the Italian government’s decision in October to require all workers to possess a Green Pass proving that the holder has been vaccinated, tested negative every 48 hours, or recently recovered from COVID-19.

Parolin was asked specifically to comment on the actions of a priest, Father Floriano Pellegrini, who blessed the crowd of more than 1,000 demonstrators before a “No Vax” march in Verona on Nov. 27.

“It seems to me that the message is clear and well known, there is no need to repeat it, it is what the Holy Father has always said,” said Parolin, who was attending an event promoting the Church’s social doctrine in the northern Italian city where the march occurred.

“I refer to his statements, his admonitions, to experience the reality and the issue of the vaccine with a sense of responsibility.”

He went on: “I believe this is what it is: a responsible freedom. Because many call for freedom, but freedom without responsibility is empty, indeed it becomes slavery.”

“Therefore, responsibility towards oneself, because we see how the No Vax [people] are affected by the disease, and responsibility, above all, towards others, which then the pope summed up with this beautiful expression that I like so much but that, in the end, goes in this sense, of an act of love.”

Italy was one of the countries worst hit by the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic. The nation of almost 60 million people has recorded more than 5 million COVID cases and 133,000 related deaths as of Nov. 30, according to the John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Almost 73% of the population is vaccinated.

The Italian authorities have announced plans to introduce a “super Green Pass,” entering into force on Dec. 6. The move will bar unvaccinated people from dining indoors at restaurants, going to the gym, visiting museums and other tourist sites, or attending weddings or other public ceremonies until at least Jan. 15.

The new rules will remove the possibility for people to offer proof of a negative test within the past 48 hours to enter the venues, meaning that only those who have been vaccinated or recently recovered from COVID-19 will be allowed access.

Father Pellegrini, a priest from Coi, a hamlet in the northern Italian province of Belluno, has gained media attention for his opposition to the Green Pass.

Pellegrini has been supporting a dock workers’ strike in the port city of Trieste in protest against the government’s COVID rules.

The priest of the Diocese of Belluno-Feltre wrote an open letter to the Italian bishops, questioning their willingness to protect religious freedom from state power.

“For a year and a half now, the vast majority of the Italian Catholic faithful have been disconcerted and scandalized by your incomprehensible silence, by your lack of ability to indicate the path of faith,” Pellegrini wrote in September.

"You seem, for all intents and purposes, salt that has lost its flavor and, as Christ says, ‘is good only to be thrown away and trampled on by men.’ You have yielded to almost everything that the Italian government has asked of you and continues to suggest and you have transformed the Church from a divine reality into a society manipulated by the government.”

The priest, who is a champion to the Trieste dockers, has criticized Pope Francis for promoting vaccination and regards Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the controversial former apostolic nuncio to the United States who is also an outspoken critic of vaccine mandates, as a “hero.”

Italian media reported that the country’s Catholic bishops took aim at No Vax protesters in their message for Italy’s Day for Life, issued on Nov. 17.

They praised Italians’ response to the pandemic, but said that “there were also manifestations of selfishness, indifference, and irresponsibility, often characterized by a misunderstood affirmation of freedom and a distorted conception of rights.”

“Very often, these were understandably frightened and confused people who were essentially also victims of the pandemic,” they wrote.

“In other cases, however, these behaviors and speeches expressed a vision of the human person and social relations that was far removed from the Gospel and the spirit of the [Italian] constitution.”

The Vatican’s doctrinal office said in December 2020 that it is “morally acceptable” to receive COVID-19 vaccines produced using cell lines from aborted fetuses when no alternative is available.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith also said that vaccination “must be voluntary,” while noting that those who refuse to receive vaccines produced with cell lines from aborted fetuses for reasons of conscience “must do their utmost to avoid … becoming vehicles for the transmission of the infectious agent.”

Pope Francis called vaccinations an “act of love” in a public service announcement issued in collaboration with the Ad Council in August.

He said: “Getting the vaccines that are authorized by the respective authorities is an act of love. I pray to God that each one of us can make his or her own small gesture of love, no matter how small, love is always grand.”

The pope was asked about the sharp differences among Christians over vaccines during an in-flight press conference as he returned from Slovakia to Rome in September.

He said that he did not know how to explain the opposition to COVID-19 vaccines.

“Some say it comes from the diversity of where the vaccines come from, which are not sufficiently tested and they are afraid. We must clarify and speak with serenity about this,” he said.

“In the Vatican, everyone is vaccinated except a small group which they are studying how to help.”

The Pontifical Swiss Guard, charged with protecting the pope, has required all 135 of its guards to get a COVID-19 vaccine. It emerged in October that three Swiss Guards had quit after refusing to comply with the requirement.

7 things to know about the Dobbs abortion case now before the Supreme Court

Pro-life and pro-abortion advocates outside of the Supreme Court during oral arguments in the case Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, March 2, 2016. / Catholic News Agency

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Nov 30, 2021 / 02:00 am (CNA).

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

The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing a historic case on Dec. 1 that directly challenges Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. Here’s what you need to know:

1. What is the case about?

The case, known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, involves a 2018 Mississippi law restricting most abortions after 15 weeks. “Dobbs” stands for Thomas E. Dobbs, who serves as the state health officer of the Mississippi State Department of Health. Jackson Women’s Health Organization provides abortion in Jackson, Mississippi, and is the only abortion clinic in that state.

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. The case challenges two landmark abortion cases that Mississippi calls “egregiously wrong”: Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

2. Why does the case challenge Roe and Casey?

In Roe v. Wade, the court ruled that states could not ban abortion before viability, which the court determined to be 24 to 28 weeks into pregnancy. Nearly 20 years later, the court upheld Roe in 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.”

Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, the subject of the Dobbs case, bans abortion weeks before the point of viability.

“Under the Constitution, may a State prohibit elective abortions before viability? Yes,” Mississippi argues in its brief. “Why? Because nothing in constitutional text, structure, history, or tradition supports a right to abortion.”

3. What time are the arguments?

The oral arguments are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 1, and will last for 70 minutes. 

4. Who will argue the case before the court?

Three people will speak before the justices. Scott G. Stewart, the solicitor general of Mississippi, will have 35 minutes to represent the state. For Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Julie Rikelman, litigation director of the Center for Reproductive Rights, will have 20 minutes. U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth B. Prelogar will also have 15 minutes to argue in support of Jackson Women’s Health Organization.  

5. How can Americans hear or read the arguments? 

The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. is temporarily closed to the public due to COVID-19, but Americans can still listen in. The high court provides an audio livestream of all oral arguments on its website. Following the event, its website also offers an audio recording and same-day transcript of the arguments. C-SPAN also livestreams the audio of Supreme Court arguments on its website and on its YouTube channel. CNA will provide updates on the arguments as they occur.

6. Who will be outside the Supreme Court during the arguments?

In support of abortion, the Women’s March will march to the Supreme Court at 2:15 p.m. The Center for Reproductive Rights and the National Abortion Access Coalition will gather outside at 7:30 a.m. NARAL Pro-Choice America will arrive at the same time.

A pro-life rally called “Empower Women Promote Life” will begin at 8 a.m. outside of the Supreme Court. Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch recently released the speaker list, which includes a slew of pro-life women of diverse backgrounds and numerous politicians.

7. What happens after the oral arguments are completed?

What happens next is that America waits. Nothing will be decided on Dec. 1. The Supreme Court generally releases decisions in high-profile cases, such as this one, in June. So there will be plenty of time between now and then to parse the questions that the various justices will pose during the oral arguments, looking for hints of how this or that justice might vote.

Whatever the court ultimately decides, the consequences for the country will be enormous.

If Roe and Casey are overturned, abortion law would be left up to each individual state. The Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive research organization once associated with Planned Parenthood, predicts that 26 states would certainly or likely ban abortion.

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.

Live updates: