‘Walking with Moms in Need’ helps expectant, new moms ‘where they’re at’

By Dennis Sadowski
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Dioceses and parish volunteers who have embraced the “Walking with Moms in Need” initiative are still in the early stages of assessing its effectiveness.

Statistics – counting the numbers who have been helped – are an inconclusive means of measuring how well the initiative is working. But anecdotes so far give an encouraging picture.

This initiative of the U.S. bishops aims to connect pregnant women and their families with parishes and to a growing network of resources with the help of volunteers.

The rollout of the program was slowed because it was launched March 25, 2020, just as the pandemic began to take hold, but it is underway.

This is the logo for “Walking with Moms in Need.” (CNS/courtesy WalkingWithMoms.com)

“It’s not an abortion alternative,” Cindy Ketcherside, a coordinator at St. Theresa Parish in Phoenix, observed in an interview with Catholic News Service. She calls the women “abortion vulnerable,” but “what we’ve found are more working moms who already have children.”

Seldom do the women have to be dissuaded from an abortion. By the time “Walking with Moms in Need” is involved, that decision usually has already been made not to have an abortion.

Promoting the initiative is typically as simple as posters on parish bulletin boards and brochures. But those in need, going by anecdotal evidence, come to the program from all directions, and even through private conversations following Mass.

The common thread in the parish-level stories: There’s no such thing as a stereotype of the women who are helped.

Kathleen Wilson, coordinator of Respect Life for the Archdiocese of Detroit, likes to tell the story of the single mother with triplets. Forced to move back in with her mother because of the financial strain, she turned to the initiative for clothing, medical and nutrition needs.

“It shows you that we’re accompanying them even in very challenging circumstances.”

Another was a 17-year-old girl. Wilson praised the parish’s “lack of (harsh) judgment” so it was able to “embrace these young parents. There’s been this continuation of supporting this young life as a parish family.” The key question to ask, she said, is “How do we meet that person where they are?”

Parishes are encouraged to find the skills within their ranks, and Wilson knows of one that including a lactation specialist who was happy to add her expertise.

Megan Morris, director of the Life Center of Santa Ana, California, calls that loving the mother “where she’s at.”

“Our hope is not only saving the unborn baby, but bringing the mother and baby home to Christ and a community of support,” she said.

There are training sessions for volunteers. Each mother is assigned a companion to accompany them on the stressful trek of applying to state agencies who provide nutrition and housing assistance.

Among the worries, “formula is a big one,” Ketcherside said. Other help includes finding access to parenting classes and vouchers for Section 8 subsidized housing.

Sometimes the contact starts with a phone call, said Denise Malone, the Respect Life coordinator at St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Parish in Anthem, Arizona.

“I heard from a grandmother. Her very young daughter had had a baby out of wedlock. So the mom and the baby were living with the grandparents,” Malone told CNS.

And the request was a little different from food, shelter and clothing. “They wanted the mother to financially support the child. They asked for help in finding at-home day care. Money wasn’t an issue. And they wanted the mom to enroll in classes. So that was successful.”

The key to training volunteers: “Active listening is a really, really big thing, and being able to understand the mom and where they’re coming from. You can’t make assumptions.”

Another common element, Malone has found, is “fear. They’re all in a position where they’re fearful they can’t raise the child that they’re pregnant with. It is going to be a heck of a lot better to know that the mother will have their baby and we will protect them.”

“They’re overwhelmed,” Ketcherside agreed. “They don’t know where to go.”

In July, pro-life leaders in Baltimore for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Diocesan Pro-Life Leadership Conference noted that supporting women in choosing life is a top priority for them especially in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision June 24.
The ruling overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, and returned the abortion issue to the states.

Since Dobbs, interest in “Walking with Moms in Need” seems to have increased somewhat. For example, in the 10 days following the ruling, the Archdiocese of Detroit’s “Walking with Moms in Need” webpage received nearly 1,600 unique page views.

In 2021, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said the initiative “directly confronts the false, yet popular, narrative that the Catholic Church merely condemns abortion, without providing the resources or support women need in raising their children.”

(Editors: More about “Walking with Moms in Need” can be found online at walkingwithmoms.com.)

Mundo en Fotos

La gente pasa junto a una calabaza inflable mientras asisten a un festival de otoño en Manorville, Nueva York, el 16 de octubre de 2022. (Foto de CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)
Van Tran limpia afuera de su casa dañada luego de graves inundaciones en Melbourne, Australia, el 17 de octubre de 2022. El primer ministro australiano, Anthony Albanese, recorrió partes de Melbourne afectadas por las inundaciones, mientras tres estados del sureste continúan lidiando con una crisis de inundaciones después de días de fuertes inundaciones. lluvia. (Foto del CNS/Sandra Sanders, Reuters)
Los trabajadores descansan mientras descargan bolsas de granos como parte de los alimentos de ayuda enviados desde Ucrania en el almacén del Programa Mundial de Alimentos en Adama, Etiopía, el 8 de septiembre de 2022. Con motivo de la celebración del Día Mundial de la Alimentación de la ONU, el 16 de octubre, el Papa Francisco dichos actos de amor y solidaridad son clave para combatir el hambre. (Foto del CNS/Tiksa Negeri, Reuters)
La gente compra linternas en un mercado en Mumbai, India, el 28 de octubre de 2021, antes de Diwali, el festival hindú de las luces, que este año comienza el 24 de octubre en la mayoría de los países. (Foto del CNS/Niharika Kulkarni, Reuters)
Rishi Sunak, nuevo líder del Partido Conservador de Gran Bretaña, camina frente a la sede de la campaña conservadora en Londres el 24 de octubre de 2022. Sunak se convertirá en la primera persona de color del Reino Unido en ocupar el cargo de primer ministro. (Foto del CNS/Hannah McKay, Reuters)


WASHINGTON (CNS) – Catholic immigration advocates are emphasizing that the Oct. 5 ruling by a federal appeals court – finding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is unlawful – sends another signal that permanent legislation is needed to protect young immigrants from deportation and put them on a path to U.S. citizenship. A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans affirmed a lower court’s ruling last year that said the Obama administration did not have the legal authority in 2012 to create DACA in the first place. This appeals court decision, similar to the ruling last summer from a federal judge in Texas, prevents the Biden administration from enrolling new participants in the program. The new court decision continues to leave DACA in limbo. It did not say the program had to completely shut down or stop processing renewal applications, but it leaves in place last year’s order from U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen that said DACA could continue only for current recipients with no new participants. The 5th Circuit also returned the case to the lower court asking the judge to review new DACA regulations the Biden administration announced in August and set to go into effect Oct. 31. “DACA, like asylum, the border – immigration policy writ large – doesn’t belong in the courts,” Dylan Corbett, executive director of Hope Border Institute, tweeted after the ruling was announced. “Congress and the White House need to pass legislation that honors our values, the rights and dignity of those who migrate, and the contributions of those who make America home.”

WASHINGTON (CNS) – A federal court in Indiana sided with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and one of its Catholic high schools in a lawsuit filed by a former guidance counselor who said her contract was not renewed because of her same-sex union. The Sept. 30 ruling in Fitzgerald v. Roncalli High School and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, relied on previous Supreme Court rulings that have emphasized a ministerial exception protecting a religious school’s hiring and firing practices from government intrusion. The recent decision echoes a nearly identical ruling from a year ago based on a lawsuit filed against the same school and archdiocese from another school counselor whose contract was similarly not extended due to her same-sex union. The decisions in both cases were issued by U.S. District Judge Richard Young for the Southern District of Indiana. Young said the Indianapolis Archdiocese and its schools can select, retain or dismiss faculty according to their religious standards, something he also stressed a year ago. The current case involved Shelly Fitzgerald, former co-director of guidance at Roncalli High School for 15 years. Her employment was terminated in 2018 after she confirmed to the school that she was in a same-sex union and the school declined to renew her contract for the following year. School officials said her conduct was prohibited by the agreement she signed with the school.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The refusal to help desperate migrants “is revolting, it’s sinful, it’s criminal,” Pope Francis said as he canonized a bishop dedicated to assisting migrants and a Salesian brother who had immigrated with his family to Argentina. “The exclusion of migrants is criminal. It makes them die in front of us,” the pope said Oct. 9, referring to the deaths of migrants and refugees crossing dangerous seas in search of freedom and a dignified life. At the beginning of the liturgy in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis formally recognized the holiness of St. Giovanni Battista Scalabrini, an Italian who founded the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo to care for migrants, and St. Artemide Zatti, an Italian immigrant in Argentina who became a Salesian brother, pharmacist and nurse. The prayers at the Mass included one for “those forced to leave their homeland,” and asking God to teach people to share “his welcoming gaze toward all people” and “heal the throwaway culture of indifference.” Pope Francis focused much of his homily on the day’s Gospel reading about the 10 lepers healed by Jesus and, therefore, allowed back into society. “When we are honest with ourselves, we realize that we are all sick at heart, all sinners in need of the Father’s mercy,” the pope said. “Then we stop creating divisions on the basis of merit, social position or some other superficial criterion; our interior barriers and prejudices likewise fall. In the end, we realize once more that we are brothers and sisters.” Pope Francis asked the estimated 50,000 people at the Mass to think about whether in their families, at work and in their parishes, they are willing to walk with others and listen to them, “resisting the temptation to lock ourselves up in self-absorption and to think only of our own needs.”

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – As thousands of people sat in the dark in St. Peter’s Square, they watched fish jump from the facade of the basilica, saw the word “no” form and dissolve three times and heard an actor reciting the part of St. Peter speak about the overwhelming love and mercy of Jesus. They also heard tenor Andrea Bocelli sing four songs, including “The First Noel” from the soon-to-be released Christmas album he made with his children Matteo and Virginia. The nighttime event Oct. 2 was the premiere of “Follow Me,” an eight-minute film about the life and faith of St. Peter. Using “video mapping,” images of St. Peter from the basilica’s collection and that of the Vatican Museums were turned into 3D video clips and projected onto the facade of the basilica, which is built over the presumed tomb of the apostle. The film was to be shown every 15 minutes between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. until Oct. 16.

Projected images detailing the life of St. Peter the Apostle are seen on the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Oct. 2, 2022. Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli sang for thousands in St. Peter’s Square as the Vatican inaugurated a two-week showing of a short film about the life of St. Peter. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

FULDA, Germany (CNS) – The president of the German bishops’ conference demanded an apology from a Swiss cardinal at the Vatican over comments that brought up Germany’s Nazi past. Bishop Georg Bätzing, president of the German bishops’ conference, demanded an apology from Cardinal Kurt Koch, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, who seemed to compare what is underlying the German bishops’ Synodal Path process with a mistaken Christian ideology that underpinned the rise of Nazism. Cardinal Koch said he had been misunderstood. At the end of the German bishops’ plenary assembly Sept. 29, Bishop Bätzing said that, with his remarks, Cardinal Koch had “disqualified himself from the theological debate” about the Synodal Path. “If a public apology does not happen immediately, I will file an official complaint with the Holy Father,” Bishop Bätzing said. Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch apologized for offending people and said he never intended to imply that supporters of the German church’s Synodal Path were doing something similar to what a group of Christian supporters of the Nazis did in the 1930s. At a meeting Oct. 4 in Rome with Bishop Georg Bätzing, president of the German bishops’ conference, “Cardinal Koch expressly emphasized that it was completely far from him to want to impute the terrible ideology of the 1930s to the Synodal Path,” said a statement published the next day by the bishops’ conference. “Cardinal Koch asks for forgiveness from all those who feel hurt by the comparison he made,” the statement continued.

MEXICO CITY (CNS) – Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega blasted Catholic leaders as a “gang of murderers,” in comments amping up persecution of the church and scorning Pope Francis’ call for dialogue in the Central American country. In a fiery address, Ortega took aim at Nicaragua’s Catholic bishops for promoting democracy as an exit from the country’s political crisis, alleging without proof that they called on protesters to kill him during the 2018 protests – which his regime violently repressed. He called the bishops and Pope Francis “the perfect dictatorship,” then asked, accusatorially, “Who elected the bishops, the pope, the cardinals?” He continued in the Sept. 28 speech marking the 43rd anniversary of the National Police: “With what moral authority do they speak of democracy? Let them start with the Catholic vote. … Everything is imposed. It’s a dictatorship, the perfect dictatorship. It’s a tyranny, the perfect tyranny.” Catholic clergy in Nicaragua have remained mostly silent as Ortega – who won elections in 2021 after disqualifying and imprisoning opposition candidates – has persecuted priests and bishops speaking out on issues of human rights and democratic deterioration. The government also has closed church-run charitable and education initiatives, along with Catholic radio stations, and expelled priests and nuns, including the Missionaries of Charity. Ortega claimed in his comments that he was Catholic, but did not feel “represented,” partly because, “We hear talk of democracy, and they don’t practice democracy.”

Florida continues with rescue efforts after Hurricane Ian

By Rhina Guidos
WASHINGTON – As authorities in Florida continued rescue efforts, Catholic parishes and dioceses in the U.S. moved rapidly to collect aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, and U.S. President Joe Biden said it could take years to rebuild what was destroyed.

Though Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm after wrecking swaths of Florida, it regained strength and regrouped as a hurricane before heading toward South Carolina.

Biden approved an emergency declaration to send federal help before it made landfall in Charleston Sept. 30. Residents of Florida and the Carolinas face a recovery estimated to cost tens of billions of dollars.
As of Oct. 2, at least 80 people were confirmed dead, and more than 1,600 people had been rescued in parts of southwest and central Florida.

The Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida, will hold a special collection at its parishes in October to help with the damage, including in the neighboring Diocese of Venice and is asking for others to help at https://www.dosp.org/disasterrelief.

“Our hearts are moved with compassion for all those who have suffered damage and destruction due to Hurricane Ian, especially our brothers and sisters in the Diocese of Venice,” St. Petersburg’s Bishop Gregory L. Parkes said of the diocese that suffered the brunt of the damage.

A flooded community in Fort Myers, Fla., is seen Sept. 29, 2022, after Hurricane Ian caused widespread destruction. (CNS photo/Marco Bello, Reuters)

At the Vatican Oct. 2, after reciting the Angelus prayer with people in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis said: “I am close to the populations of Cuba and Florida, afflicted by a violent hurricane. May the Lord receive the victims, give consolation and hope to those who suffer, and sustain the solidarity efforts.”

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, called on Catholics and all people of goodwill to pray for those who lost their lives in the Caribbean and the southwest United States due to Hurricane Ian.

He urged prayers “for the comfort of their grieving families and communities” as well as prayers for those who have lost their homes and businesses. “May they find peace and comfort in God’s enduring love for us, even amid these most trying circumstances,” he said.

In a statement released late Sept. 30, the archbishop also prayed the emergency responders would be kept “from harm as they seek to bring relief, comfort and healing” to storm victims.

At a news conference Sept. 30, Biden told Floridians that the federal government would do all it could to help, particularly to rescue people and other recovery efforts.

He also announced that 44,000 utility workers were working to restore electricity for those left without power since the hurricane struck.

In preparing for Ian, the Florida Division of Emergency Management said it had coordinated with utility companies to make sure crews were prepared “to respond and restore power.”

As of Oct. 2, 590,000 people were still without power in Florida, but that figure was a significant reduction from the nearly 2 million who had no power immediately after Hurricane Ian struck.

“It’s not a crisis for Florida, it’s an American crisis,” Biden said during the news conference.

He said the situation on the ground was “far more devastating” than initially believed and “is likely to rank among the worst in the nation’s history.”

The president and first lady Jill Biden were visiting Puerto Rico Oct. 3 to see the devastation wrought by Hurricane Fiona, which slammed into the island a week before Ian hit Florida. The Bidens planned to visit Florida Oct. 5.

In the Diocese of Venice, Bishop Frank J. Dewane gave thanks via Twitter for those who prayed for people in the path of the Hurricane Ian.

“Damage is still being assessed, but it is clear that the devastation in the diocese is widespread,” he wrote. “There are several crews already at work throughout the diocese, and Catholic Charities is putting their local team into action. We are grateful for all those who have helped, and continue to help, during this difficult time.”

Catholic Charities USA is collecting donations at https://ccusa.online/Ian.

In Charleston, South Carolina, Bishop Jacques E. Fabre-Jeune offered Mass hours before the storm made landfall “for the protection of all people affected by Hurricane Ian and especially for our essential personnel working to keep us safe,” the diocese said on its Facebook page.

Ian hit close to 2:30 p.m. local time Sept. 30 as at Category 1 hurricane, flooding historic Charleston, with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph. The storm was later downgraded to a tropical storm as it hit North Carolina.

As the storm went through the Carolinas, about 850,000 people had no electricity but news reports said power was restored to more than half of them by the weekend.

(Editor’s note: The Diocese of Jackson will take up a second collection the weekend of Oct. 15-16 as a part of the Bishops Emergency Disaster Fund. The fund will be used to support immediate emergency needs and to aid in long-term rebuilding and recovery efforts.)

Parroquia, Caridades Católicas proveen agua y comida a inmigrantes de Florida después de Ian

Por Tom Tracy
Catholic News Service

FORT MYERS, Florida (CNS) — El padre Patrick O’Connor, párroco de la Parroquia Jesús Obrero, situada al noroeste del centro de Fort Myers, organizaba una operación el 4 de octubre mientras se hacía camino por el salón parroquial que se encontraba repleto de ropa.

Una eficiente línea de distribución de alimentos y agua estaba en pleno funcionamiento para atender a miles de miembros de la comunidad — en su mayoría trabajadores agrícolas e hispanos — que llegaron en lo que fue el día más ocupado de distribución de suministros de emergencia desde la llegado de Ian, según reveló el padre O’Connor.

Los voluntarios de una estación de radio en español en West Palm Beach acababan de terminar de descargar una entrega de suministros donados cuando el padre O’Connor se acercó para ofrecer abrazos y una bendición — y para tomar parte en la foto grupal con el personal de la estación de radio.

“Hicieron correr la voz por nosotros y nos trajeron cinco camiones llenos de agua, alimentos, ropa, y artículos para bebés, pañales, y productos femeninos, y todo tipo de cosas que la gente necesita en este momento, especialmente en East Fort Myers, que fue golpeado tan duramente”, expresó el padre O’Connor sobre la entrega de la estación de radio.

Los feligreses de la Parroquia de la Sagrada Familia en Sydney Mines, Nueva Escocia, preparan comidas para los residentes de la comunidad afectados por la tormenta postropical Fiona. La comunidad estuvo sin electricidad durante nueve días después de la tormenta e hizo uso de estufas de gas en el salón parroquial. (Foto de CNS/cortesía de Norma Blinkhorn)

Esta fue una labor que el mismo sacerdote y la despensa de alimentos de la parroquia desempeñaron después del huracán Irma de 2017; ahora estaban haciéndolo de nuevo después del aún más devastador huracán Ian de categoría 4 que arrasó el suroeste de Florida después de tocar tierra una semana antes en la costa oeste del estado.

“Esta es una comunidad muy pobre en esta parte de Fort Myers, y realmente no pueden evacuar como otras personas, por lo que están un poco atrapados”, manifestó el sacerdote, quien es un oblato de San Francisco de Sales.

El total de muertes solo en el área del condado de Lee, que incluye la ciudad de Fort Myers, se estimó en 45. El número de muertes en Florida es mucho más alto, y se espera que las cifras sigan aumentando.

El padre O’Connor dijo que su comunidad inmigrante, compuesta en su mayoría por trabajadores mexicanos y centroamericanos, es la que más necesita donaciones de alimentos y agua en este momento, ya que la situación de la cadena de suministro no ha sido muy buena.

Según los informes, la ciudad de Fort Myers tiene agua, pero ha advertido que sigue contaminada y no es seguro consumirla sin hervir en este momento. El padre O’Connor señaló que las personas en esta comunidad no pueden darse el lujo de conducir a otras comunidades para comprar suministros.

El padre Patrick O’Connor, párroco de la parroquia Jesús Obrero (Jesús el Trabajador) en Fort Meyers, Florida, saluda a una voluntaria para la distribución de suministros de emergencia el 4 de octubre de 2022, en medio de las secuelas del huracán Ian. (Foto del SNC/Tom Tracy)

“Parte del condado aún no tiene agua ni para las casas, han pasado días sin agua en algunas casas”, indicó el sacerdote. La hermana María Isabela Jaimes, una Hermana Franciscana de María Inmaculada de Bucaramanga, Colombia, que estaba ayudando en la Iglesia Jesús Obrero, dijo que nunca había experimentado una crisis de huracán hasta el paso de Irma.

“Gracias a Dios estoy viva, pero es porque pude evacuar antes de la tormenta”, dijo la hermana. “Pero sí me siento muy cerca al sufrimiento de mis hermanos y hermanas a causa de este huracán, y me he dado cuenta de la grandeza de Dios, pero también del respeto por el poder de la naturaleza”.

La hermana Jaimes dijo que la comunidad estaba relativamente de buen ánimo una semana después, cuando pasaron al modo de recuperación. “Veo a la gente aceptando la voluntad de Dios, ahora están en paz, están tranquilos”, acotó. “Vienen por bienes (donados), pero lo que realmente necesitan es solidaridad y paz interior, y comunidad”.

En el cercano Centro de Caridades Católicas Elizabeth Kay Galeana en Fort Myers, Alex Olivares, director regional de Caridades Católicas de la Diócesis de Venice, ayudó con la distribución de agua y suministros de emergencia. Los equipos de remoción de árboles y las compañías eléctricas cercanas estaban ocupados con proyectos de limpieza. “Esta tormenta nos golpeó muy fuerte; algunas personas la esperaban, pero la mayoría no, así que todos están luchando. Mucha gente todavía no tiene agua ni electricidad”, expresó Olivares.

En comparación con el huracán Irma, Olivares dijo que pensaba que el huracán Ian iba a ser menos severo, pero parece haber sido mucho peor para esta comunidad latina y afroamericana conocida localmente como Dunbar. Un empleado local de Caridades Católicas perdió toda su casa debido a las inundaciones, dijo Olivares. “El daño ha sido catastrófico en algunas áreas; partes de Fort Myers han quedado realmente destrozadas”, dijo.

Mientras tanto, el gobernador de Florida, Ron DeSantis, según se informa, dijo que las reparaciones en el puente de Pine Island deberían completarse para el final de la semana para que la remoción de escombros y los equipos de servicios públicos puedan avanzar a restablecer la energía. Pine Island es una de las islas de barrera más afectadas por el huracán Ian, junto con Sanibel, que se espera que permanezca en gran medida inaccesible después de que Ian destruyó la calzada.

Una estatua de San Francisco de Asís permanece de pie afuera de Fort Myers, Florida, hogar de Elizabeth Reyes, instructora de arte, y su esposo, Luis Reyes, empleado de Caridades Católicas de la Diócesis de Venecia, 5 de octubre de 2022. El huracán Ian trajo al menos 3 pulgadas de lluvia a la residencia de la familia Reyes el 28 de septiembre y provocó la caída de un árbol y un cable eléctrico de la casa. (Foto del SNC/Tom Tracy)

Fort Myers Beach también fue severamente dañada por Ian; DeSantis la describió como una zona de desastre total. Muchas comunidades desde el norte de Nápoles hasta Sarasota y más allá todavía esperan que se restablezca la energía. Un periódico informó que alrededor de una cuarta parte de los 2.2 millones de cortes de energía se han restablecido en los días transcurridos desde que Ian tocó tierra. El Departamento de Manejo de Emergencias de Florida también desplegó unas 11 estaciones de depósito de combustible en todo el estado, y se desplegó un camión de combustible móvil en la ciudad interior de Arcadia, que está muy afectada, para ayudar a los residentes sin acceso a combustible.

El gobernador también anunció la apertura del primer Centro de Recuperación por Desastre para los floridanos afectados por el huracán Ian en la Biblioteca Regional de Lakes en Fort Myers. El padre O’Connor instó a que los suministros de agua y alimentos se dirijan a las comunidades rurales y de trabajadores agrícolas como la suya.

“Estas son personas muy trabajadoras”, dijo el padre O’Connor. “Trabajan en restaurantes, construcción, paisajismo, son cocineros, chefs, cuadrillas de caminos, hacen todo el trabajo pesado; trabajadores agrícolas: son la columna vertebral de la comunidad y son los que limpiarán todo después de esto y serán parte fundamental e importante de la reconstrucción de toda la comunidad”. “En este momento están en crisis y necesitan mucha ayuda”, agregó.

Sister Thea Bowman documentary on her journey to sainthood, set to release Oct. 2

A new documentary from NewGroup Media and the Diocese of Jackson, MS, Going Home Like a Shooting Star: Thea Bowman’s Journey to Sainthood, presents the riveting life of Sister Thea Bowman, an African American Catholic Franciscan Sister who used her powerful gifts to educate and challenge the church and society to grow in racial inclusivity. Her skills of preaching, music, and teaching moved many Catholics to begin to confront their own racism while she urged her African American brothers and sisters to claim their gifts and share their “fully functioning” personhood.  Thea worked tirelessly to proclaim this message until her untimely death from breast cancer in 1990.

The film features interviews and commentary from her family, Sisters in community, colleagues, friends, and former students. Input from African-American scholars, clerics and bishops will speak to the ongoing issue of systemic racism in the church and country.  Extensive use is made of archival media that portrays Thea in action–photographs, film, video and audio recordings recorded in locations of significance to her life.

The program title is drawn from a quotation attributed to Sojourner Truth. When Thea was asked what she wanted said at her funeral, she answered, “Just say what Sojourner Truth said: ‘I’m not going to die. I’m going home like a shooting star.’”

The film, part of the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission’s fall documentary season, will begin airing on ABC stations nationwide on October 2, 2022. As of Sept. 30, the following stations have scheduled showings of the film:

WTVA Tupelo- Oct. 2 at 10 a.m.
WTOK Meridian – Oct. 2 at 11:30 p.m.
WLOX Biloxi – Oct. 16 at 1 p.m.
WAPT Jackson – Oct. 30 at 1 p.m.

The film can be streamed on the Diocese of Jackson’s YouTube channel beginning October 2. The film is free to view, with donations requested to the Cause for Sister Thea Bowman.

Sister Judith Ann Zielinski, OSF researched, wrote and produced the film, from early COVID-quarantined research in spring, 2020 through fund-raising, location production, scriptwriting, and delivery to ABC in fall, 2022.  She coordinated dramatic re-enactments from Thea’s childhood and early convent life and conducted all of the program’s interviews—with Thea’s childhood friends, former students, teaching colleagues, two bishops, several priests and Franciscan Sisters, weaving together their personal memories and testimonies as a basis for the script.

Christopher Salvador, NGM Partner, directed the dramatic re-enactments within the film, coordinated budget, contractual and network relations, and oversaw post- production.

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz, Ordinary of Jackson, MS, initiated Sister Thea’s Cause for Sainthood in 2018 with an appeal to the full body of US Bishops which won unanimous approval. As Executive Producer, he supported the production of the film, actively collaborated with the production team, and continues to oversee the advancement of Sister Thea’s Cause.

Other interviewees include:

Rev. Maurice J. Nutt, CSsR, Preacher and pastoral theologian; Thea’s doctoral student; her biographer; associate producer instrumental in gathering pivotal colleagues and friends of Thea to participate in the project;

Rev. Bryan Massingale, Theology Professor, Fordham University, Authority/ speaker on systemic racism in the US and church;

Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory, Ordinary, Archdiocese of Washington, DC, senior African-American Bishop who was present at Sister Thea’s famous Seton Hall address to the US Bishops in 1989;

Sr Eileen McKenzie, FSPA, President, Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, Thea’s religious community, La Crosse WI;

Sr Dorothy Ann Kundinger, FSPA, Thea’s friend, companion and caretaker during Thea’s struggle with cancer and present at her death

Going Home Like a Shooting Star includes extensive use of Bowman family photos, archival material, and footage of Thea from varied public appearances, including her famous interview with Mike Wallace on CBS’ 60 Minutes.

Going Home Like a Shooting Star was filmed on location in:

  • Jackson and Canton, MS
  • New Orleans, LA
  • La Crosse, WI
  • Washington, DC
  • San Antonio, TX
  • New York City
  • South Bend, IN

The film makes a strong connection between Thea’s Gospel call for justice, love and unity and the current effort of Black Lives Matter activists and efforts to combat systemic racism. Many in the film cite Thea’s voice as an influence on their ongoing efforts to achieve social and racial justice.

Production of Going Home Like a Shooting Star: Thea Bowman’s Journey to Sainthood was made possible with funding from the Catholic Communications Campaign of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as support from various foundations and congregations of U.S. men and women religious.


WASHINGTON (CNS) – House sponsors of a new bill to protect pregnancy centers said the measure would require the Biden administration to publicly disclose how it is handling the investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators of violent attacks on pregnancy resource centers around the country. “My goal is to foster an environment where no woman feels like their only option is abortion, and I am committed to supporting women and children at every stage of life,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., who co-sponsored the bill with Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J. “The violent attacks on pregnancy centers in Washington state and across the country are reprehensible and only endanger and intimidate the women who depend on them for critical medical care, education and other resources,” Rodgers said in a statement Sept. 20, the day she and Smith introduced the bill. The Protect Pregnancy Care Centers Act of 2022 quickly garnered 28 co-sponsors. “I believe all extreme and hateful acts of violence should be condemned, which is why I’m helping lead this legislation to hold President (Joe) Biden accountable for his failure to respond to this threat with the urgency it deserves,” Rodgers said. Nearly 70 acts of violence against such centers have been recorded since May, when a draft opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case was leaked.

NEW YORK (CNS) – “Little Amal,” a giant puppet that is on a worldwide pilgrimage to raise awareness about the plight of unaccompanied refugee minors, made a stop at St. Patrick’s Cathedral Sept. 18. The 12-foot puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee girl met migrant families who recently arrived in New York City from Ecuador, Afghanistan and Myanmar; Father Enrique Salvo, the cathedral’s rector; and representatives from Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York. “For immigrants and refugees around the world, New York is seen as a place of opportunity and promise – but there’s a tension running through U.S. history that suggests not everyone is welcome here,” said playwright/director Amir Nizar Zuabi, the artistic director of this “public art project” called “The Walk” and starring Amal, whose name means “hope.” “Amal will experience the wonder of New York and also the apprehension of arriving in a strange new place,” Zuabi said in a statement issued in advance of several New York events featuring the puppet. “This is a crucial moment to explore these themes. How will she be welcomed here? Who will do the welcoming?” The cathedral stop was one of 55 New York events welcoming the puppet over a three-week period that began Sept. 14 and ends Oct. 2 and is titled “Little Amal Walks NYC.”

“Little Amal,” a 12-foot-tall puppet of a young Syrian refugee girl, greets migrant families who have recently arrived in New York City from Ecuador, Afghanistan and Burma at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York Sept. 18, 2022. “Little Amal” has become a globally recognized symbol of human rights, especially for immigrants, refugees and other marginalized people. (CNS photo/courtesy DKC)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – As the October deadline approaches for the extension of the Vatican’s agreement with the Chinese government, the newly appointed editor of the news agency of the Dicastery for Evangelization said the deal has been instrumental in allowing Catholics to practice their faith openly and in communion with the church. In an editorial published Sept. 22, Gianni Valente, who was appointed earlier in the month as editor of Fides news agency, also said recent statements by Pope Francis and Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, “hinted at a positive intention on the part of the Holy See to continue the process of negotiation.” The agreement, he wrote, has allowed for Chinese Catholics to “experience the adventure of confession of faith in Christ in today’s China as it is, without privileges, without being pointed at and perceived as a foreign body, as exotic guests or representatives of distant cultures.” First signed in Beijing Sept. 22, 2018, the Vatican and the Chinese government agreed in 2020 “to extend the experimental implementation phase of the provisional agreement for another two years.” The provisional agreement, the text of which has never been made public, outlines procedures for ensuring Catholic bishops are elected by the Catholic community in China and approved by the pope before their ordinations and installations, according to news reports at the time.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Marking World Alzheimer’s Day Sept. 21, Pope Francis asked people to pray for all those affected by the illness, including families and caregivers. Alzheimer’s disease “affects so many people, who are often pushed to the margins of society because of this condition,” the pope said at the end of his general audience talk in St. Peter’s Square Sept. 21. “Let us pray for those suffering from Alzheimer’s, for their families, and for those who lovingly care for them, that they may be increasingly supported and helped,” he said. He also asked that people pray for men and women facing hemodialysis, dialysis or an organ transplant. September is also World Alzheimer’s Month, which is an initiative by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) to raise awareness, challenge the stigma surrounding Alzheimer’s and dementia, and garner more support for those affected. Dementia is a general term for a group of symptoms that negatively impact memory, and Alzheimer’s is a specific disease that is the most common cause of dementia.

DUBLIN (CNS) – More people in Northern Ireland now identify as Catholic than Protestant for the first time in the history of the jurisdiction, new census figures reveal. The data has led to calls for a referendum for voters to decide whether to remain part of Britain or join with the rest of Ireland and form a new country. It comes 101 years after Northern Ireland was established in the six northeastern counties on the island of Ireland, remaining part of Britain when the 26 southern counties won independence from British rule. The founders of Northern Ireland drew the boundaries of the state along lines that they hoped would guarantee a permanent Protestant majority. Traditionally, Protestants have supported being part of Britain, whereas the Catholic community has traditionally supported unity with the rest of the island to form a single independent Ireland. The first prime minister of Northern Ireland, Sir James Craig, famously addressed the legislature describing it as a “Protestant parliament for a Protestant people,” and the Catholic minority complained of discrimination in terms of jobs, housing and voting rights. The proportion of the resident population that is either Catholic or brought up Catholic is 45.7%, compared to 43.5% Protestant.

MOSCOW (CNS) – A senior Russian priest dismissed President Vladimir Putin’s threats of nuclear war as “just words,” but said many young Catholics now fear being forcibly conscripted with their priests to join the war against Ukraine. “Although I’m not a military person, I don’t think the Russian army could even use nuclear weapons – and if it did, this would be much more dangerous for Russia itself than anyone else,” said the priest, who asked not to be named. “People are certainly frightened here, particularly since Catholic parishioners and clergy could now be called up, beginning with those who’ve done military service. But I don’t think there’s much to fear from Putin, who’s just coming out with words.” Street protests erupted in Russia after Putin’s Sept. 21 order for a nationwide call-up of 300,000 reservists after setbacks in the Ukraine war. The priest told Catholic News Service Sept. 21 students and young people had “reacted very emotionally” to the mobilization order, with many debating its practical consequences. He added that there had been “no consultation” with Russia’s minority churches and said he had consulted lawyers about the order’s implications for church personnel. “Some young Catholics have already left the country, and more are doing so now,” the priest told CNS.

U.S. synod report finds participants share common hopes, lingering pain

By Dennis Sadowski
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Catholics across the country continue to feel wounded by the clergy abuse crisis, seek a more welcoming church in which their “lived reality” is prioritized over rules and regulations, and desire lifelong spiritual, pastoral and catechetical formation as disciples, according to a report synthesizing the 10-month synodal process in dioceses.

Participants in the process also expressed concern that the U.S. Catholic Church is deeply divided and that a lack of unity exists among the bishops, spoke of a desire to “accompany with authenticity” LGBTQ+ individuals and their families, and voiced hope that laypeople’s gifts would be more widely utilized in a spirit of collaboration throughout the church, the report said.

Released Sept. 19 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the report summarizes the concerns, hopes, pains and desires voiced by an estimated 700,000 participants who joined thousands of listening sessions and other events during the diocesan phase in the lead-up to the Synod of Bishops on synodality in October 2023.

There are roughly 66.8 million Catholics in the U.S., according to the report, meaning more than 1% of Catholics participated in the listening sessions.
“The listening is an opening movement toward a wise discernment locally, regionally and nationally about what our deepest concerns, our deepest hopes are right now at this moment in time,” Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas, who is overseeing the U.S. involvement in the synodal process, told Catholic News Service.

Bishop Flores, who chairs the USCCB’s Committee on Doctrine, said the process that has unfolded since October – and led to the 16-page synthesis report sent to the Vatican – enabled people to respectfully listen to each other and develop a new understanding of what life in the church can be.

Titled “National Synthesis of the People of God in the United States of America for the Diocesan Phase of the 2021-2023 Synod,” the report was prepared in advance of the Synod of Bishops called by Pope Francis.

The synod’s theme is “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.” The report is the synthesis of 290 documents received by the USCCB from various contributors. The report said the documents “represent over 22,000 reports from individual parishes and other groups” that emerged from more than 30,000 opportunities to join the synodal process.

The national synthesis report draws from the 14 intermediate syntheses submitted by teams from each of the geographic regions of the U.S. church. All 178 Latin dioceses and archdioceses submitted syntheses that were incorporated into the regional reports.
For the process, the USCCB created a 16th “region” for the numerous Catholic national ministries, universities, associations and organizations working throughout the country. Those organizations submitted 112 summary reports.

In a letter introducing the report, Bishop Flores described the document as “an attempt to synthesize and contextualize the common joys, hopes and wounds called forth with the help of the Holy Spirit in the unfolding of the synod.”

“While not a complete articulation of the many topics and perspectives shared in the listening process, this synthesis is an attempt to express the broader themes that seemed most prevalent in the dioceses and regions of our country,” he wrote.

The report is divided into four themes: “Enduring Wounds,” “Enhancing Communion and Participation,” “Ongoing Formation for Mission” and “Engaging Discernment.” Each section summarizes common observations raised in the listening sessions.

It includes directly quoted descriptions of common concerns, hopes and desires from individual regional reports raised in the local listening sessions.

The report cites several “enduring wounds” expressed during the sessions. In addition to the still unfolding effects of the sexual abuse crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to exact a toll on the sense of community people felt before the virus swept around the world in 2020.

“The pandemic itself ‘has led to the fraying of our communities in some ways, accelerating a trend toward disengagement and intensifying the isolation and loneliness of many, youth and elderly in particular. A large number of faithful have not yet returned to worship,’” the report said, quoting the Region 12 submission from Northwestern states.

Divisiveness and polarization in the church was a concern expressed in multiple regional reports. The Region 9 report covering four Midwestern states said division over the celebration of the Eucharist is disconcerting, particularly when it comes to the pre-Vatican II Mass.

“The limited access to the 1962 missal was lamented; many felt that the difference over how to celebrate the liturgy ‘sometimes reach the level of animosity. People on each side of the issue reported feeling judged by those who differ from them,’” the national synthesis report said quoting the Region 9 submission.

Other concerns were expressed by people who feel marginalized. The report said marginalized people fall into two broad groups.

One made up of those who are vulnerable by their lack of social or economic power, including those with disabilities, the mentally ill, immigrants, ethnic minorities, people in the U.S. without documents, the unborn and their mothers, and those living in poverty, who are homeless, are incarcerated or living with an addiction.

The second group includes women, “whose voices are frequently marginalized in the decision-making processes of the church,” the report said. Others in the group include those who are marginalized “because circumstances in their own lives are experienced as impediments to full participation in the life of the church” including members of the LGBTQ+ community and people who are divorced and may have remarried, and those civilly married.

“The synodal consultations around the enduring wounds caused by the clergy sexual abuse scandal, the pandemic, polarization and marginalization have exposed a deep hunger for healing and the strong desire for communion, community, and a sense of belonging and being united,” the national synthesis report said.

Under the theme of “Enhancing Communion and Participation,” the sacramental life of the church and the spirit of welcome within the church were addressed. The report found that the wounds expressed among participants in listening sessions could be addressed by the church being more welcoming to those not in the mainstream.

Quoting the Region 13 report from Southwestern states, the synthesis report said participants were concerned with “obstacles to community within their parishes, partly due to the divisive political climate and resulting polarization within the country.”

People in the region also identified the centrality of the Eucharist as a “source of hope for greater unity.” They said in addition that “receiving Eucharist does bring them more closely in solidarity with the poor,” according to the synthesis report.

Concerns about racism within the church and the lack of welcome to diverse cultural and ethnic communities emerged in listening sessions. The elderly, the report said, were particularly hurt by the departure of young people from church life.

“Young people themselves voiced a feeling of exclusion and desired to participate more fully as members of the parish community,” the synthesis report said.

The synthesis report also included the observation that “nearly all synodal consultations shared a deep appreciation for the powerful impact of women religious who have consistently led the way in carrying out the mission of the church.”

Participants in listening sessions expressed a “desire for stronger leadership, discernment and decision-making roles for women – both lay and religious – in their parishes and communities.”

The synthesis report said a common hope that emerged nationwide was the “desire for lifelong spiritual, pastoral and catechetical formation as disciples.” Discussions in the sessions “made clear the importance of evangelization as we continue to live out the church’s mission, which requires stronger formation.”
Steps would include accompaniment with families in their formation as people long for a closer encounter with Jesus.

Suggestions also emerged on the need to “journey together” in the formation of clergy. The Region 5 intermediate report from Southern states suggested such formation was needed to better understand human and pastoral needs, cultural sensitivity, stronger emphasis on social justice, how to include laypeople in decision-making and “learning to speak with empathy, creativity and compassion.”

Laypeople, the synthesis report said, also expressed hope that a genuine appreciation for their gifts and talents would grow into a “relationship of collaboration” with pastors.

The final theme, “Engaging Discernment,” concluded that the diocesan phase of the synodal process was the first step in a church rooted in synodality, or walking together.

The synthesis report said the process enabled thousands of people to reengage “in the simple practice of gathering, praying together and listening to one another.”

It invited people to commit to “ongoing attentive listening, respectful encounter and prayerful discernment.”

Going forward, the report called for continued engagement with communities that did not participate broadly in the listening sessions particularly Indigenous people, ethnic communities and immigrants.
“Engaging and discerning with our sisters and brothers who experience the woundedness of marginalization, as well as those whose voice were underrepresented within the synodal process, will be essential for the unfolding of the synodal journey in our dioceses and in our country,” the report said.

The next phase in preparation for the Synod of Bishops is being called the continental phase. It will find teams gathering by continent to synthesize the reports submitted to the Vatican thus far. Synod officials will prepare the “instrumentum laboris,” or working document, to guide continental or regional ecclesial assemblies that will take place by March.

The North American report will be submitted by the U.S. and Canada. Bishop Flores said some preliminary outreach has already occurred among the teams from the two nations. Other continental reports will involve significantly larger gatherings of teams from individual ecclesial assemblies.

Those assemblies will produce another set of documents that will help in the drafting of a second working document for the Synod of Bishops in October 2023.

The synod is expected to produce a final document on how synodality can be practiced throughout the church.

Catholic leaders weigh in on upcoming, busy Supreme Court term

By Carol Zimmermann
WASHINGTON (CNS) – The Supreme Court begins its new term Oct. 3, jumping right back into the fray with cases that take on affirmative action, voting, immigration, the environment and freedom of speech.
This term will include a new member, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, replacing Justice Stephen Breyer, who retired at the end of last session. It also will be the first time the public will be allowed back inside the court since the start of the pandemic.

In late September, the court had not announced if it will continue to provide live audio of oral arguments.
Another change is outside. Barriers around the court since May – after protests erupted following a leak of the court’s draft opinion on its Dobbs decision – have now been removed. The investigation into that leak, ordered by Chief Justice John Roberts, is still continuing.

The Supreme Court is seen in Washington June 7, 2022. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

For now, the court has agreed to hear 27 cases and has scheduled 18 of them.

In the weeks leading up to the court’s new session, law schools and think tanks have presented previews of big cases coming up and speculation on how the justices might respond.

Adam Liptak, a Supreme Court reporter for The New York Times, who moderated a few of these panels, pointed out in a Sept. 15 preview by the American Constitutional Society, that the court was not taking a breather after just finishing “a tumultuous term.”

And this term, as in many previous sessions, Catholic leaders have something to say about major cases coming up.

One case getting a lot of attention is 303 Creative v. Elenis about a Colorado graphic designer who does not want to create wedding websites for same-sex couples based on her Christian beliefs about marriage. The case, which does not have a date yet for oral arguments, is similar to the 2017 case involving a Colorado baker who refused to make a custom wedding cake for a same-sex couple based on his religious beliefs.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, joined by the Colorado Catholic Conference and other religious groups, are siding with the designer as they did with the baker five years ago.

In an amicus brief they said this case gives the court the chance to clarify free speech issues it said the court fell short of doing in the previous case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
In a Sept. 21 court preview by the Federalist Society, one panelist described the website case as a sequel to the court’s bakery decision and noted that the initial case “didn’t actually address the big speech issues at play” and instead took an “off ramp narrowly in favor of the baker on very established religious liberty grounds.”

“Here we have a new court,” Amanda Shanor, assistant professor of legal studies and business ethics at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, continued.

One difference is that in the current case, the artist, Lorie Smith, is not fighting a specific incident, as was the baker who denied baking a custom cake for a same-sex couple. Smith wants the court to weigh in before she is even asked to design a website for a same-sex couple.

Even though she does not wish to provide a service based on her Christian beliefs about marriage, the case hinges on her freedom of speech claim.

Shanor said Supreme Court preview panels in 2017 likely didn’t predict the baker winning, but now she already is pretty sure the court will likely rule in the artist’s favor and said the case could have broad implications about who can be viewed as an artist.

The USCCB’s brief said there is a “pressing need for the court to clarify how the compelled speech doctrine applies to wedding-vendor cases and other disputes.” It urged the justices to do what they have done in the past: “Apply the Free Speech Clause to protect religious speech, thereby strengthening liberty not just for the religious but for all society.”

It also said the current case “provides an appropriate and especially important opportunity to invoke free speech protections again to address the ongoing tensions in wedding-vendor cases and in the current cultural context more broadly” and implored the court to “protect individuals from compelled speech and to provide space in the public square for minority voices.”

Other groups that filed briefs on behalf of the wedding vendor included Catholicvote.org, the Thomas More Society, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and the Becket Fund.

DignityUSA, an unofficial Catholic support group for gay Catholics and their families, and New Ways Ministry, a Catholic pastoral outreach to LGBTQ people and their families, joined a brief filed by 30 religious and civil rights groups opposing the graphic artist’s case.

“Carving out this broad exemption would allow public businesses to legally exclude customers based on their identities,” it said, adding that “instead of safeguarding every citizen’s right to buy goods and services from businesses open to the public,” the proposed exemption “would further hurt the very people these civil rights laws were designed to protect.”

Another hot-button topic before the court this year involves affirmative action with two separate cases – from Harvard University and the University of North Carolina – challenging the way higher education institutions use race as a factor in their admission process.

The court chose to hear the two challenges Oct. 31 separately since Justice Jackson recused herself from the Harvard case because she just recently finished serving a six-year-term on the university’s board of trustees.

Georgetown University filed an amicus brief with 56 Catholic colleges and universities urging the court to uphold affirmative action in admissions in these cases that challenge a 40-year legal precedent.

The brief, joined by the University of Notre Dame, the College of the Holy Cross, DePaul University and Villanova University, among others, said the right to consider racial diversity in admissions is essential to their academic and religious missions and is “inextricably intertwined” with their religious foundations.
The brief also argued that this right is rooted in the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech and free exercise of religion, particularly for Catholic higher education institutions, whose ability to have discretion in how they choose students is critical to their religious missions.

The challengers in both cases are urging the justices to overrule their 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, a ruling that said the University of Michigan could consider race in its undergraduate admissions process as part of its efforts to obtain a diverse student body.

Catholic leaders and immigration groups also will be paying attention to United States v. Texas, which does not have an argument date yet.

The case will once again examine the executive branch’s authority to set immigration policy, criticized by Texas and Louisiana leaders as too lenient. It specifically challenges federal policy that prioritizes certain groups of unauthorized immigrants for arrest and deportation.

In the last term, the court ruled 5-4 in Biden v. Texas that the administration could end the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy, or the Migrant Protection Protocols, that required people seeking asylum at the southern U.S. border to stay in Mexico until their asylum case could be heard.

Another Texas case, on the death penalty, has long had the attention of Texas Catholic bishops, Catholic opponents of capital punishment, as well as celebrities. The case, Reed v. Goertz, argued Oct. 11, will examine when prisoners can pursue post-conviction claims for DNA testing of crime scene evidence.

Rodney Reed, sentenced to death more than 23 years ago for the murder of 19-year-old Stacey Stites, has maintained his innocence and his attorneys from the Innocence Project have brought forward crime scene evidence, not tested for DNA, that they say implicates someone else.

In 2019, five days before he was scheduled to be executed, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted an indefinite stay of Reed’s execution and said it was sending his case back to trial court for further review.

Sister Helen Prejean, a Sister of St. Joseph of Medaille, who is a longtime opponent of the death penalty, has been drawing attention to Reed’s case for several years, citing lack of evidence of his guilt.

Similarly, Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, said in a 2019 statement that if Reed’s execution proceeds, “there is great risk the state of Texas will execute a man who is innocent of this crime while allowing the guilty party to go free.”

Other big cases before the court this term involve voting rights, the Clean Water Act and a challenge to a California animal welfare law.

The court starts its new session amid low public support. A Gallup poll in June found just 25% of the public have confidence in the court.

A poll by Marquette University Law School this September found 40% of adults approve the job the court is doing, while 60% disapprove. A similar poll conducted by the Milwaukee Jesuit-run university in July showed 38% of adults favored the court’s work and 61% disapproved. Both results were down from court approval the poll found in 2020 and early 2021.

(Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim)

After Roe, Catholics must help ‘build a world’ that welcomes all

WASHINGTON (CNS) – The U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade “is, without question, an answer to prayer,” but in a post-Roe world, “Catholics must now work together for another, even deeper paradigm shift,” said the U.S. bishops’ pro-life chairman.

“We must move beyond a paradigm shift in the law in order to help the people of our nation better see who we can be as a nation by truly understanding what we owe to one another as members of the same human family,” said Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-life Activities.

“To build a world in which all are welcome,” he said, Catholics “must heed” the words of St. Teresa of Kolkata “and remember ‘that we belong to one another.'”

“We must shift the paradigm to what St. John Paul II described as ‘radical solidarity,’ making the good of others our own good, including especially mothers, babies – born and preborn – and families throughout the entire human lifespan,” Archbishop Lori said.

This is the poster for Respect Life Month 2022, which has as its theme: “Called to Serve Moms in Need.” The U.S. Catholic Church celebrates Respect Life Month every October. The first Sunday of October is designated as Respect Life Sunday, which is Oct. 2 this year. (CNS photo/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops)This is the poster for Respect Life Month 2022, which has as its theme: “Called to Serve Moms in Need.” The U.S. Catholic Church celebrates Respect Life Month every October. The first Sunday of October is designated as Respect Life Sunday, which is Oct. 2 this year. (CNS photo/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops)

He made the remarks in a Sept. 21 statement for the U.S. Catholic Church’s observance of Respect Life Month, which is October. The theme of the observance is “Called to Serve Moms in Need.”

The first Sunday of October is designated as Respect Life Sunday, which is Oct. 2 this year.
In their June 24 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a majority of the justices ended the court’s nearly 50-year nationwide “regime of abortion on demand,” the archbishop said.

This “regime” was “based on the indefensible view that the U.S. Constitution implicitly forbids government from protecting the preborn child in the womb from the violence of abortion,” he said.

The court “concluded that there is nothing in the Constitution’s text, history, American legal tradition or the court’s precedents that justified the extreme holding of Roe,” he said.
Dobbs was a challenge to a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks. The court affirmed the law 6-3 and also voted 5-4 to overturn the 1973 Roe ruling, which legalized abortion nationwide, and 1992’s Casey v. Planned Parenthood ruling, which affirmed Roe.

The ruling returned the issue of abortion to the states.

With Dobbs, the high court “cleared the way for a paradigm shift in American law, allowing it to enlarge its boundaries to again welcome a segment of the human family that had been outside of its protections for close to half a century,” he added.

He called Dobbs “a victory for justice, the rule of law and self-governance.”

“But for those of us who have prayed for this moment to arrive, it is the time for a renewal and rededication of our efforts to build a culture of life and civilization of love,” he said. “Justice is, of course, essential to this end. But it is not sufficient.

“To build a world in which all are welcome requires not only justice, but compassion, healing, and above all, unconditional love.”

“Abortion is a gruesome sign of how we have forgotten our mutual belonging,” Archbishop Lori continued. “The logic of Roe v. Wade has framed our national discourse on the issue of abortion as a zero-sum conflict among individual strangers.”

But “mother and child are not strangers; they are already bound together by flesh and kinship,” he said. “The new life that is developing under the heart of the mother is already situated in a network of relations, including family, neighbors and fellow citizens.”

Roe‘s logic “offers the woman only the right to see lethal force used against her child, but it otherwise abandons her,” he explained.

But “the logic of the culture of life recognizes that the pregnant woman and her child are not alone – they are fellow members of our larger human family whose interwoven vulnerability is a summons to all of us, but especially Catholics because of the teaching of Jesus and his proclamation of the Gospel of life,” the archbishop said.

To practice “radical solidarity and unconditional love in a post-Roe world,” he said, means speaking and living the truth” with compassion – the truth that abortion not only “unjustly kills a preborn child, but also gravely wounds women, men, families and the nation as a whole.”

Through law, policy, politics and culture, society must do whatever it can to provide mothers, children and families in need “with the care and support necessary for their flourishing throughout the entire arc of life’s journey,” he said.

“Building a world in which women are esteemed, children are loved and protected, and men are called to their responsibilities as fathers, requires us to understand and address the complex and tragic tangle of affliction and strife that culminates in the violence of abortion,” Archbishop Lori said. “This is a massive and daunting undertaking.”

“Catholics already have a strong foundation in the church’s centuries-long encouragement of parental and societal duties,” he said. “Millions of individual Catholics from all walks of life are already personally endeavoring to build the bonds of solidarity and compassion throughout our society.”

Many also are engaged in parish and community initiatives such as pregnancy resource centers, post-abortion counseling, he said, as well as Walking with Moms in Need, an initiative of the U.S. bishops to connect pregnant women and their families with parishes and to a growing network of resources.

(Editor’s Note: The full text of Archbishop Lori’s statement and Respect Life Month materials from the USCCB’s Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities can be found online at https://www.respectlife.org/respect-life-month.)