WASHINGTON (CNS) – How to make sense of Americans’ attitudes toward abortion? It isn’t easy. In polls, many respondents will give answers that contradict each other. A Gallup poll in 2019 – Gallup has polled regularly on abortion since 1975 – found that 92% of Americans believed that using birth control was “morally acceptable,” but their support for abortion, by contrast, was more mixed. (The Catholic Church teaches that both are morally wrong.) But the year before, Gallup found that 65% of Americans believed abortion should generally be illegal during the second trimester of pregnancy – but in the same survey, 69% said the Supreme Court should not overturn Roe v. Wade. FiveThirtyEight, which itself analyzed abortion polls, “found that a large majority of Americans support abortion in the first trimester, but that support tends to drop in the second trimester.” In an ABC News-Washington Post poll conducted in late April, 54% of Americans want the court to uphold Roe, nearly twice as many as the 28% who want to see it struck down. Also, an ABC poll offering only a yes-or-no choice found that 57% of Americans opposed a ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, while 58% opposed a ban after six weeks.

WASHINGTON (CNS) – The chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace praised a May 16 statement announcing the lifting of restrictions against Cuba by the Biden administration, particularly those measures that will help family reunification. The Biden administration said it will increase consular services on the island to help with visa processing “making it possible for more Cubans to join their families in the United States via regular migration channels.” The State Department also announced plans to allow more people from the U.S. to engage with Cubans via group travel, allowing U.S. flights beyond Havana, and reinstating a remittance program for families in the U.S. to send up to $1,000 per quarter to family members on the island. The move reverses restrictions imposed by the Trump administration, which had taken a more punitive stance on Cuba. “We commend the administration’s renewed interest in restarting U.S. engagement with Cuba. Recognizing that points of contention remain between our two countries, Cuba’s punitive isolation has not produced the economic and social change that the United States has sought to effect,” said Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, Illinois, who chairs the USCCB’S international policy committee.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Catholics of all ages are called to form strong faith communities, listen to and dialogue with others, reach out to share the Gospel and work to protect the environment, Pope Francis said in a series of speeches May 21. Still using a wheelchair because of ongoing pain in his knee, Pope Francis had a busy day, meeting four separate groups in addition to holding three private meetings. The pope’s public appointments began with an apology to several hundred adolescents preparing for confirmation in the Archdiocese of Genoa; they had gathered in the small square between the pope’s residence and St. Peter’s Basilica. “I’ve made you wait 35 minutes. I am sorry,” the pope told them. “I heard the noise but had not finished the things I had to do first.” Pope Francis pleaded with the youngsters not to make their confirmation a “farewell sacrament” from active parish life, but to treasure the grace they receive, strengthen it with prayer and share it “because in the church we are not ‘me alone,’ or just me and God; no, we are all of us, in community.”

ROME (CNS) – Celebrating the launch of the Scholas International Educational Movement and its environmental project, Pope Francis encouraged young people, especially women, to lead the charge in fighting climate change. “Defending nature means defending the poetry of creation, it means defending harmony. It is a fight for harmony. And women know more about harmony than us men,” the pope said May 19 during an event at Rome’s Pontifical Urban University. U2 frontman Bono, who joined the pope for the launch, said he had been a supporter of Scholas for the past four years and was “drawn to this idea of a ‘culture of encounter.’” Scholas began in Pope Francis’ Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, supporting education in poor neighborhoods by pairing their schools with private schools and institutions in wealthier neighborhoods. The organization has spread to other countries and supports a variety of exchange programs aimed at promoting education, encouraging creativity and teaching young people about respect, tolerance and peace.

Pope Francis greets U2 singer Bono before a meeting of Scholas Occurentes in Rome May 19, 2022. The event was for the launch of the “Laudato Si’ School,” a yearlong project of Scholas young people to develop projects to promote protection of the environment. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

MEXICO CITY (CNS) – A Nicaraguan bishop and priest accused police of harassing them – the latest attempt by the government to impede the work of the Catholic Church. Bishop Rolando José Álvarez Lagos of Matagalpa, Nicaragua, started a hunger strike May 19. He said he would have only water and electrolytes until police stop the harassment – including harassment of his parents and family. In a video posted to the Facebook account of the Diocese of Matagalpa, Bishop Álvarez said police followed him all day and, when he asked to speak with the chief of police, officers entered the house where he was with his family. “I have been persecuted throughout the day by the Sandinista police, from morning until late at night, at all times, during all my movements of the day,” Bishop Álvarez said. “They came to my private, family, paternal, maternal home, putting the safety of my family at risk.” The Nicaraguan bishops’ conference issued a statement supporting Bishop Álvarez May 21. “We are experiencing difficult moments as a nation and our duty as a church is to announce the truth of the Gospel,” the statement said.

SASKATOON, Saskatchewan (CNS) – Chief Cadmus Delorme of the Cowessess First Nation and Archbishop Donald Bolen of Regina, Saskatchewan, have been walking together for some time now – including through the work of ground-penetrating radar and finding 751 hits near a former Catholic-run residential school last summer. “It took the validation of unmarked graves (to) put us in this moment,” Delorme said at a recent “Walking With Your Neighbor” event in Saskatoon. He described how the discoveries of unmarked graves has led to millions of Canadians putting down their “shields” and admitting they did not know the truth about Indigenous peoples and Canada. “We are truly at a moment where all of us – Indigenous and not – must all reset our compass just a little bit – because our children and children yet unborn depend upon this moment. We could look the other way and stay with the status quo … but the status quo doesn’t work,” said Delorme. “Walking Together” is the theme of Pope Francis’ July 24-29 visit to Canada’s Indigenous peoples. In the presentation at the Cathedral of the Holy Family, Archbishop Bolen stressed the importance of finding a new way of walking together and coming to a new understanding of the truth of Canadian history. “The conversation starts to open up between the church and Indigenous peoples when we acknowledge the profound suffering, the waves of suffering that so many Indigenous peoples have experienced in the context of residential schools, and more broadly in the context of the Indian Act and colonization,” said Archbishop Bolen. “We need to acknowledge our responsibility as church for our involvement in these schools, that took away language and culture and spirituality and suppressed so many good things.”