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Amid Burma conflict, diocese bans two priests from political involvement

A protest of the coup d'etat in Hpa-An, the capital of Karen State, Burma, on Feb. 9, 2021. Credit: Ninjastrikers (CC BY-SA 4.0). / null

Denver Newsroom, Jun 29, 2022 / 11:26 am (CNA).

A Catholic diocese in Burma has ordered two priests to stop participating in politics and posting on social media against the country’s power structure and Church officials. The priests are staunch critics of the junta whose 2021 coup launched an insurgency that the Catholic bishops hope to end. 

Father Dominic Wun Kyaw Htwe and Father Clement Angelo Ate both faced rebukes from the Diocese of Kengtung for openly opposing the junta. The two priests are living in exiled communities across the border with Thailand.

“Your active involvement in politics and your posts on social media not only cause great perplexity,” said a June 22 letter to Htwe, charging that his actions divide “public opinion and our Christian community itself.”

The June 22 letter to Htwe from Father Peter Anwe, administrator of the Diocese of Kengtung, cited his active participation in politics through being present at protest movements and through social media posts against political authorities and Church leaders “despite several warnings.”

The Kengtung diocese is in the Shan state of Burma, also known as Myanmar, and is heavily affected by the ongoing civil war, Asia News reports.  A junta overthrew the country’s government on Feb. 1, 2021. Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's elected civilian leader, was detained along with the country’s President, Win Myint. Many supporters of the government took to the streets in protest, and some took up arms and formed rebel groups.

Htwe responded to the diocese’s letter, saying, “This situation has been thought of since the beginning of the revolution. You can kick me out at once.” He said he is “proud of being far… from a society that is dominated by fear and enjoys the pursuit of financial riches rather than justice and truth.”

“I have a very strong love of my mother religion,” the priest said, saying the present is a time “when there is a clear distinction between right and wrong.” The warning to him has strengthened his resolve to “fight harder” 

Ate, the other priest rebuked by his diocese, said he would continue “fighting and standing with our suffering people” and “do as much as I can for them.”

Some Church leaders have been outspoken. Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon has strongly objected to the military’s death sentences for some activists.

“As cardinal of Myanmar I plead — from the very depths of my heart — with the junta, not to hang these men, and I appeal to the world to act,” he said at an international conference last Monday. “If the regime goes through with this, it marks a new low for this already brutal, barbaric, inhumane and criminal junta.”

In January, Bo told Vatican Radio his country suffers from “spiraling chaos, confusion, conflict, and human agony.” The country’s bishops are trying to accompany the people, advocate for humanitarian access, and urge all parties in the conflict to make peace.

Catholics make up only 1% of the country’s population, which is majority Buddhist.

Some 1,900 people have died and another 1 million have been displaced under the junta's repressive control of the country, Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva earlier this month. Thousands more have been arrested, she said, and an estimated 14 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian aid.

In the Diocese of Loikaw in eastern Burma, almost half of the parishes have been abandoned because of intense fighting. At least nine churches in the diocese have been hit by government military shelling and airstrikes, according to the report.

Htwe, 34, joined the protests immediately after the coup. After receiving warnings from backers of the coup, he was warned he would be arrested. He fled his parish of St. Anthony of Padua in February 2021 and hid in a border town for six months before crossing into Thailand, disguised as a plantation coffee worker, according to Asia News.

He began to help a Thai priest at a parish in the Diocese of Chiang Rai that mainly serves Akha people, the same ethnicity as Htwe. He ministered the sacraments and gave catechism lessons, but also collected donations of money, food, and clothing for refugees from Burma.

“Our dreams, our hopes and our future have been taken away from us. Our lives were destroyed by terrorist and murderous soldiers,” he told AsiaNews in April. 

He denounced the Burmese army and said people in Burma are “tortured, raped and burned alive.” 

“We want to see at least the right to life as human beings recognized. Myanmar's should not only be an internal problem, it should be an international issue because these are crimes against humanity,” he said.

The priest accused the Chinese government of backing the junta in Burma over the democratically elected government.

In an April letter on Holy Thursday 2022, Htwe called for “concrete actions” from the international community.

Pope Francis on the feast of Peter and Paul: Care for the vulnerable

Pope Francis at a Mass for the feast of Ss. Peter and Paul in St. Peter's Basilica, June 29, 2022. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Vatican City, Jun 29, 2022 / 10:17 am (CNA).

Pope Francis called Wednesday for Catholics not to retreat into their own groups, but to open the church doors and work together to care for the vulnerable in the world.

“What can we do together, as Church, to make the world in which we live more humane, just and solidarity, more open to God and to fraternity among men? Surely we must not retreat into our ecclesial circles and remain pinned to some of our fruitless debates,” he said at Mass on June 29 for the feast of Saints Peter and Paul.

“Together we can and must continue to care for human life, the protection of creation, the dignity of work, the problems of families, the treatment of the elderly and all those who are abandoned, rejected or treated with contempt,” he said. “In a word, we are called to be a Church that promotes the culture of care, tenderness and compassion towards the vulnerable.”

During the Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis also blessed the pallia for the metropolitan archbishops appointed in the last year. 

Pallia are white woolen vestments adorned with six black silk crosses given to metropolitan archbishops. They symbolize the metropolitan’s authority and unity with the Holy See.

The title of “metropolitan archbishop” refers to the archbishop of a metropolis, which is the primary city of an ecclesiastical province or region.

There were 32 metropolitan archbishops from 24 countries present in Rome to receive their blessed pallium from Pope Francis on June 29.

“In communion with Peter, [the metropolitan archbishops] are called to ‘get up quickly,’ not to sleep, and to serve as vigilant sentinels over the flock,” Francis said. “To get up and ‘fight the good fight,’ never alone, but together with all the holy and faithful people of God.”

Formerly, the new metropolitans would be invested with the pallia by the pope at the same June 29 Mass in which they were blessed, but in 2015 Francis changed this policy to have the bishops be invested with the pallia in their diocese by the local apostolic nuncio.

At the end of Mass on Wednesday, Pope Francis handed each archbishop his pallium in a small box tied with a brown ribbon.

Pope Francis presided over the opening rites of the Mass, with the blessing of the pallia and the Liturgy of the Word. He also delivered the homily and received the offertory gifts. Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, dean of the College of Cardinals, celebrated the second half of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

In his homily, Pope Francis spoke about the Catholic Church’s ongoing synodal path, which is leading up to the Synod on Synodality, which will take place in October 2023.

“The Synod that we are now celebrating calls us to become a Church that gets up, one that is not turned in on itself, but capable of pressing forward, leaving behind its own prisons and setting out to meet the world, with the courage to open doors,” he said. “Let us open the door. The Lord calls.”

The pope said sometimes the Church has open doors, but only to condemn people and send them away. 

“A Church that does not linger in its sacred precincts, but is driven by enthusiasm for the preaching of the Gospel and the desire to encounter and accept everyone. Let us not forget that word: everyone,” he said.

“Go to crossroads and bring everyone, the blind, the deaf, the lame, the sick, the righteous and the sinner: everyone,” he continued. “This word of the Lord should continue to echo in our hearts and minds: in the Church there is a place for everyone.”

Pope Francis condemned an attitude of laziness in the Church.

“Often we are like Peter in chains, imprisoned by our habits, fearful of change and bound to the chains of our routine. This leads quietly to spiritual mediocrity: we run the risk of ‘taking it easy’ and ‘getting by,’ also in our pastoral work,” he said.

“Our enthusiasm for mission wanes,” Francis added, “and instead of being a sign of vitality and creativity, ends up appearing tepid and listless.”

The pope referenced The Drama of Atheist Humanism by 20th century theologian Henri de Lubac.

“Then, the great current of newness and life that is the Gospel becomes in our hands — to use the words of Father de Lubac — a faith that ‘falls into formalism and habit…, a religion of ceremonies and devotions, of ornaments and vulgar consolations… a Christianity that is clerical, formalistic, anemic and callous,’” he said.

At the end of Mass, the Patriarchal Holy Trinity Cathedral Choir of Tbilisi, an Orthodox choir from the country of Georgia, chanted “Ave Maria” by Ilia II. 

The Tbilisi choir also gave a two-hour performance in the Sistine Chapel on June 26.

A delegation from the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople attended the Mass for Saints Peter and Paul.

Pope Francis and the delegation prayed together before the tomb of St. Peter after Mass.

Faith ‘is never a walk in the park,’ Pope Francis says on Peter and Paul feast

Pope Francis during his appearance for the Angelus in St. Peter's Square on June 29, 2022, the feast of Saints Peter and Paul. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, Jun 29, 2022 / 08:40 am (CNA).

The journey of faith is never easy for anyone, not even for the Apostles Peter and Paul, Pope Francis said in his Angelus address on Wednesday.

“The journey of faith is not a walk in the park, but is instead demanding, sometimes arduous,” he said on June 29.

The pope prayed a mid-week Angelus to mark the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, the patron saints of the city of Rome.

In his message before the Marian prayer, he reflected on a passage from the Gospel of St. Matthew, when Peter says to Jesus: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

“It is a profession of faith, which Peter pronounces not on the basis of his human understanding, but because God the Father inspired it in him,” he said.

When Jesus then reveals to his disciples that he will suffer, die, and on the third day be raised, Peter rebukes him, saying, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.”

Pope Francis recalled that Jesus’ response to Peter was: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a scandal to me, because you do not think according to God, but according to men!” 

“Does not the same thing happen to us?” the pope said. “We repeat the Creed, we say it with faith, but when faced with the harsh trials of life, everything seems to falter.”

“We are inclined to protest to the Lord,” Francis added, “telling him that it is not right, that there must be other, more direct, less strenuous ways.”

St. Peter needed time to mature, moving from first horror at the cross to a courageous embrace of his own death, he said, noting that “the Apostle Paul also had his own path, and he too passed through a slow maturation of faith, experiencing moments of uncertainty and doubt.”

“The journey of faith is never a walk in the park, for anyone, not for Peter nor for Paul, not for any Christian,” he said. 

The pope concluded his message with two questions for reflection.

“In the light of this experience of the holy apostles Peter and Paul, each of us can ask ourselves: When I profess my faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, do I do so with the awareness that I must always be learning, or do I assume that I ‘already have it all figured out’?” he said.

“And again,” he continued, “in difficulties and trials do I become discouraged, do I complain, or do I learn to make them an opportunity to grow in trust in the Lord? For he, in fact — as Paul writes to Timothy — delivers us from all evil and brings us safely to heaven.”

The pope addressed an estimated 15,000 people from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, according to the Vatican. During the Angelus and his remarks afterward, he sometimes placed his right hand on the windowsill and leaned his weight on his right arm.

The 85-year-old pope, who has an injury in his right knee, has used a wheelchair for many of his public audiences for almost two months. He has recently walked short distances with the support of a cane.

Pope Francis condemns ‘barbaric attack’ on Ukraine mall

A photograph taken on June 28, 2022 shows charred goods in a grocery store of the destroyed Amstor mall in Kremenchuk, one day after it was hit by a Russian missile strike according to Ukrainian authorities. / Photo by Genya Savilov/AFP via Getty Images

Vatican City, Jun 29, 2022 / 08:20 am (CNA).

Pope Francis condemned an attack on a shopping mall in Kremenchuk, central Ukraine, as “barbaric,” during a public address on Wednesday.

“I carry in my heart every day the dear and tormented Ukraine, which continues to be plagued by barbaric attacks, such as the one that struck the Kremenchuk shopping center,” the pope said on June 29.

A Russian missile strike hit a shopping mall in Kremenchuk on June 27. Ukrainian authorities said the next day that at least 18 people were killed in the attack and another 36 were missing.

“I pray that this foolish war may soon see an end, and I renew the invitation to persevere, without tiring, in the prayer for peace: may the Lord open those paths of dialogue that men are unwilling or unable to find,” he said. “And let us not neglect to come to the aid of the Ukrainian people, who are suffering so much.”

Francis spoke about Ukraine after praying the Angelus in honor of the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.  

Pope Francis during his appearance for the Angelus in Rome on June 29, 2022. Vatican Media
Pope Francis during his appearance for the Angelus in Rome on June 29, 2022. Vatican Media

The pope addressed an estimated 15,000 people from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, according to the Vatican. During the Angelus and his remarks afterward, he sometimes placed his right hand on the windowsill and leaned his weight on his right arm.

The 85-year-old pope, who has an injury in his right knee, has used a wheelchair for many of his public audiences for almost two months. He has recently walked short distances with the support of a cane.

Pope Francis extended his best wishes to Romans and those staying in Rome on the feast of Peter and Paul, the patron saints of the capital city of Italy. He said he hopes “that all may find in [Rome] a decent welcome worthy of its beauty.”

He also lamented the recent outbreak of fires in Rome, affected by record-high temperatures and drought across Italy.

“All this should make us reflect on the protection of creation, which is our responsibility,” he said. “It is not a fad, it is a responsibility: the future of the earth is in our hands and with our decisions.”

Temperatures reached over 104 degrees Fahrenheit across most of Italy on June 28, and Rome tied its highest heat on record.

Nancy Pelosi reportedly receives Communion at papal Mass

Pope Francis greets House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Paul Pelosi in St. Peter's Basilica after Mass on June 29, 2022. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, Jun 29, 2022 / 05:00 am (CNA).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly received Holy Communion at a Mass with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday.

Pelosi took Communion, according to sources present at the Mass, Crux reported on June 29.

The Associated Press, citing two witnesses, reported that Pelosi was seated in the section reserved for diplomats, and received Communion with the other attendees.

Pelosi was banned from receiving Holy Communion in her home diocese, the Archdiocese of San Francisco, in May.

A screen capture of the Vatican Media livestream showing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on June 29, 2022.
A screen capture of the Vatican Media livestream showing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on June 29, 2022.

San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone said Pelosi should not be admitted to Communion, nor should she present herself to receive the Eucharist, until she publicly repudiates her support for abortion.

Pelosi, who is in Rome on a family vacation, attended Pope Francis' Mass for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul in St. Peter's Basilica.

Pope Francis speaks to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Paul Pelosi after Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on June 29, 2022. Vatican Media
Pope Francis speaks to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Paul Pelosi after Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on June 29, 2022. Vatican Media

Cordileone said on May 20 that the step to bar Pelosi from Communion was “purely pastoral, not political” and came after Pelosi, D-Calif., who has described herself as a “devout Catholic,” repeatedly rebuffed his efforts to reach out to her to discuss her abortion advocacy.

Pope Francis met with Pelosi at the Vatican in October last year.

This story was updated with information from the AP report.

Pope Francis pens letter on liturgy after Traditionis custodes

Canonization Mass on May 15, 2022 / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City, Jun 29, 2022 / 04:05 am (CNA).

Pope Francis published a letter on the liturgy Wednesday, nearly one year after he issued the motu proprio Traditionis custodes, restricting the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass.

In the 15-page apostolic letter, Desiderio Desideravi, the pope said he wanted “to invite the whole Church to rediscover, to safeguard, and to live the truth and power of the Christian celebration.”

“I want the beauty of the Christian celebration and its necessary consequences for the life of the Church not to be spoiled by a superficial and foreshortened understanding of its value or, worse yet, by its being exploited in service of some ideological vision, no matter what the hue,” he said in the document, published on June 29, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.

The title of the letter is taken from the Latin text of Luke 22:15: “Desiderio desideravi hoc Pascha manducare vobiscum, antequam patiar” — In English, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”

Pope Francis said, after writing a letter to bishops to accompany Traditionis custodes, he wished to address all Catholics with some reflections on liturgical formation, the theological importance of the Mass, and acceptance of the liturgical documents of the Second Vatican Council.

“We owe to the Council — and to the liturgical movement that preceded it — the rediscovery of a theological understanding of the Liturgy and of its importance in the life of the Church,” Francis said.

“Let us abandon our polemics to listen together to what the Spirit is saying to the Church. Let us safeguard our communion. Let us continue to be astonished at the beauty of the Liturgy,” he urged.

He said the principles stated in Sacrosanctum Concilium, Vatican II’s constitution on the sacred liturgy, have been fundamental for the reform of the liturgy and continue to be fundamental for the promotion of its “full, conscious, active, and fruitful celebration.”

“The non-acceptance of the liturgical reform, as also a superficial understanding of it, distracts us from the obligation of finding responses to the question that I come back to repeating: how can we grow in our capacity to live in full the liturgical action? How do we continue to let ourselves be amazed at what happens in the celebration under our very eyes?” he said.

“We are in need of a serious and dynamic liturgical formation,” he underlined, noting that “it would be trivial to read the tensions, unfortunately present around the celebration, as a simple divergence between different tastes concerning a particular ritual form.”

The problem, the pope said, is primarily ecclesiological: “I do not see how it is possible to say that one recognizes the validity of the Council — though it amazes me that a Catholic might presume not to do so — and at the same time not accept the liturgical reform born out of Sacrosanctum Concilium.”

This is why he felt the need to issue Traditionis custodes, to affirm the liturgical books promulgated by popes Paul VI and John Paul II after the Second Vatican Council as “the unique expression of the lex orandi [the law of prayer] of the Roman Rite,” he said.

In the letter, Pope Francis called for liturgical formation beyond the academic environment to be accessible to all Catholics, in order to revive a sense of wonder at the mystery of the sacrifice of the Mass.

“The full extent of our formation is our conformation to Christ,” he explained. “I repeat: it does not have to do with an abstract mental process, but with becoming Him. This is the purpose for which the Spirit is given, whose action is always and only to confect the Body of Christ.”

The pope also spoke about the importance of an ars celebrandi, the “art of celebrating” the Mass.

“Let us be clear here: every aspect of the celebration must be carefully tended to (space, time,

gestures, words, objects, vestments, song, music…) and every rubric must be observed,” he said. “Such attention would be enough to prevent robbing from the assembly what is owed to it; namely, the paschal mystery celebrated according to the ritual that the Church sets down.”

“But,” he continued, “even if the quality and the proper action of the celebration were guaranteed, that would not be enough to make our participation full.”

Liturgical formation must teach people how to read and understand symbols, he said, referencing the writing of Romano Guardini, a 20th century German Catholic priest and intellectual.

“The task is not easy because modern man has become illiterate, no longer able to read symbols; it is almost as if their existence is not even suspected,” Francis said.

Francis said he has noticed that a Catholic community’s manner of living the celebration of the Mass is conditioned by the way the pastor celebrates it, and when the manner of celebration is inadequate, the “common root” is “a heightened personalism of the celebrating style which at times expresses a poorly concealed mania to be the center of attention.”

“Often this becomes more evident when our celebrations are transmitted over the air or online, something not always opportune and that needs further reflection,” he noted. “Be sure you understand me: these are not the most widespread behaviors, but still, not infrequently assemblies suffer from being thus abused.”

“The action of the celebration” of the Mass, he said, “is the place in which, by means of memorial, the Paschal Mystery is made present so that the baptized, through their participation, can experience it in their own lives.”

“Without this understanding, the celebration easily falls into a preoccupation with the exterior (more or less refined) or into a concern only for rubrics (more or less rigid),” he said.

“Christian faith is either an encounter with Him alive, or it does not exist,” he said. “Liturgy guarantees for us the possibility of such an encounter. For us a vague memory of the Last Supper would do no good. We need to be present at that Supper, to be able to hear his voice, to eat his Body and to drink his Blood. We need Him.”

More Catholic churches, pregnancy centers, and a pro-life memorial vandalized

LifeChoice Pregnancy Center in Winter Haven, Florida was defaced with pro-abortion graffiti June 25, 2022. / LifeChoice Pregnancy Center

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 28, 2022 / 19:20 pm (CNA).

More vandalism of Catholic churches, pro-life pregnancy centers, and a pro-life memorial have been reported since Roe v. Wade was overturned on Friday. 

LifeChoice pregnancy center in Winter Haven, Florida was defaced with pro-abortion graffiti June 25.

Director of Development for LifeChoices Lyndsy Flanagan told CNA Tuesday that the clinic was alerted by a local pastor who saw the damage on Sunday morning. A local church community, Winter Haven Worship Center, volunteered to repaint the whole building on Monday, Flanagan said.

The vandals also painted over security cameras and the clinic’s sign, she said. A pressure washer could not clean it and the clinic now needs a new sign, she said. 

Photos of the graffiti show the words “Janes revenge,” “Jane was here” “Abortion 4 all,” “Your time is up,” “We’re coming for you,” “We are everywhere,” some flowers, and anarchist symbols.

Being in a smaller community, Flanagan said she was surprised at the vandalism, despite the heated political climate.

The damage is estimated between $3,000 and $4,000 she said. The vandals were caught on video.

When CNA asked how many perpetrators were in the video, Flanagan said the FBI told her not to give any details until they finish the investigation. "They asked us not to speak on any of the details involved in the video footage until the investigation is complete, " she said.

"Because it's a national group that they believe could be involved in this, they are asking us to tread very lightly with all details concerning what we have knowledge of based on the video footage so that we can continue the investigation," she said.

Pro-abortion graffiti was discovered June 27 on the doors of the The Church of the Ascension in Manhattan. 

A purported photo of the vandalism on the church doors shows the words “If abortion isn’t safe, neither are you!” 

Joseph Zwilling, director of communications for the Archdiocese of New York, said that “Any act of vandalism or violence against any house of worship should be condemned, particularly when such vandalism is a result of hatred of that religion.”

“Fortunately, thanks to the good work of the NYPD and local police departments, and the security measures the archdiocese encouraged the parishes to take, it appears that this is the only act of vandalism against a church in the archdiocese in the aftermath of the Dobbs decision,” he said.

St. Anthony Catholic Church in Renton, Washington had its windows smashed and was defaced with pro-abortion slogans in the early hours of June 25.

Dean Savelli, the church’s facilities manager, told CNA that three vandals defaced the front of the church with graffiti that said “Abortions save lives,” in two places. He said the vandals destroyed three of the five locks in the church.

The vandals smashed seven stained glass windows, Savelli said. The vandals, who were caught on camera, also broke some of the tops to collection boxes. The damage will amount to between $25,000 and $30,000 he said. 

Richard Garnett of South Bend, Indiana, told CNA that he drives by a memorial cross for aborted unborn babies almost every day and noticed June 25 that it was vandalized with pro-abortion graffiti. 

The white cross which says “In memory of aborted children” with a red heart, had yellow graffiti that crossed out the pro-life message and wrote pro-choice down the horizontal stretch of the cross, a photo of the vandalism shows.

According to a Saint Joseph County Police Department incident summary, an employee of St. Therese Little Flower Catholic Church reported to the police June 27 that the sign was vandalized.

Karissa Lundstrom, who leads the Heart to Heart Pregnancy Center in Cortez, Colorado told CNA that her clinic was defaced with pro-abortion graffiti sometime between Saturday night and Sunday evening. 

She would not share a photo of the vandalism nor say what the graffiti said, because she does not want the vandalism to be the center of attention. The graffiti was partly on the sidewalk and partly on the building, she said, and it was cleaned up easily.

Judges temporarily block abortion bans in Louisiana, Utah, Texas

The scene outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., after the court released its decision in the Dobbs abortion case, June 24, 2022. / Katie Yoder/CNA

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 28, 2022 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

Judges in Louisiana, Utah, and Texas have temporarily blocked the enforcement of those states’ laws banning abortion, after the Supreme Court returned the regulation of abortion to the states.

On June 24, the court voted 6-3 in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to uphold a Mississippi law restricting most abortions after 15 weeks. At the same time, justices voted 5-4, to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Robin Giarrusso issued a temporary block June 27 on a 2006 Louisiana law banning abortion in the state in the case of Roe’s overturn, in response to a lawsuit filed by abortion providers. 

“Abortion groups, represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, argue the abortion restrictions violate providers' due process rights and ‘lack constitutionally required safeguards to prevent arbitrary enforcement,’” Fox News reported about Louisiana.

In the coming weeks Giarrusso will rule whether the law may be enforced on a permanent basis. A hearing is set for July 8.

The Democratic Governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, even said that he is "unabashedly pro-life and opposed to abortion,” yet he is aware that not everyone feels the same, according to the BBC.

In Utah, Third District Judge Andrew Stone issued a 14-day block June 27 on the state’s trigger law in response to a lawsuit brought by the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah. NBC says that Stone claims women are “deprived of safe, local medical treatments to terminate pregnancies."

Utah State Senator Daniel McCay, sponsor of the state’s trigger law, said, “I'm confident that Utah’s abortion ban will be upheld, and we can work to support life." 

A hearing in the matter will be held July 11.

In Texas, Judge Christine Weems in Harris County granted a temporary restraining order June 28 against the enforcement of a 1925 law banning abortion.

Marc Hearron, a lawyer for the abortion providers in the Texas lawsuit, said, according to Reuters, "Every hour that abortion is accessible in Texas is a victory." 

The state’s law banning abortion from about six weeks into pregnancy is still being enforced.

The Texas attorney general has said he will appeal Weems’ decision; a hearing is scheduled July 12.

Challenges to abortion bans in several other states are focused on state constitutions in which rights to privacy are included. These include Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Montana, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Washington. 

Reuters reported that abortion providers in Kentucky, Idaho, and Mississippi are suing to block enforcement of trigger laws in those states.

Hundreds of men gather to pray the rosary in Mexico City

Hundreds of men pray in Santo Domingo Plaza on June 25 at the first-ever Men's Rosary in Mexico City. / Photo courtesy of Martín Orive

Mexico City, Mexico, Jun 28, 2022 / 17:39 pm (CNA).

On the feast day of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, June 25, hundreds of men took part in the first-ever Men’s Rosary in Mexico City, loudly proclaiming “Long live Christ the King!” 

The men first attended Mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral and then headed out in procession to the atrium of Santo Domingo church, located in the central district of the Mexican capital.

Speaking to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language sister news agency, Leonardo Brown, the coordinator of the event, said “it was a unique, and I would say historical, experience.”

“The contingent set out singing songs to Christ the King and to the Virgin” and processed to Santo Domingo Plaza for the prayers “with everyone facing the images of the Virgin and the patron St. Joseph,” he said.

About 700 or 800 men prayed the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet, Brown added.

For Brown, “the most exciting experience was that many people spontaneously joined the procession, as well as witnessing so many men on their knees in front of the Virgin of Guadalupe.”

In addition, Brown said one could see “not a few who were shaken with emotion by the songs to Christ the King to the point of shedding tears.”

Among the testimonies shared at the event was that of a man who went to Confession after 13 years of being away from the sacrament.

The Men’s Rosary is an international prayer movement that began in Poland. The movement has especially taken off in Latin America, with Men’s Rosary events in Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, and Paraguay. Other countries where Men’s Rosary events have taken place include Germany, Ukraine, the Netherlands, England, the United States, Lithuania, and Spain.

On their website, the initiators of the Men’s Rosary in Poland explain that their goal is to fulfill the desire of the Virgin Mary, which is to do the will of her Son, Jesus Christ.

They also note that “the role of men in God’s plan is to protect all those whom God has given us here on earth, for eternal life.”

“Just as St. Joseph was the earthly protector of the Holy Family, we also have the task of defending the sanctity of our families and loved ones,” they say on the website. “We want to do it together, in a community of men. In this unity, we strengthen our masculine identity and masculine virtues.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Cardinal reveals he was detained by drug traffickers in Mexico

Cardinal Francisco Robles Ortega / Credit: Archbishopric of Guadalajara Press

Guadalajara, Mexico, Jun 28, 2022 / 16:25 pm (CNA).

Cardinal Francisco Robles Ortega, the archbishop of Guadalajara, revealed that last week he was stopped and questioned at a checkpoint manned by drug traffickers during a visit to the northern part of Mexico's Jalisco state.

ArquiMedios, a weekly publication of the Archdiocese of Guadalajara, reported the cardinal made the statement at a June 26 press conference.

The cardinal lamented the current climate of violence in Mexico, including the recent killing of two Jesuit priests and another man in a church in the state of Chihuahua. 

The priests were trying to protect the man, who had fled inside the church as he was being pursued by an armed assailant who then shot him and the two priests, killing all three.

At the press conference, the archbishop explained that he was “stopped at two checkpoints, obviously belonging to organized crime, and they demand that you tell them where you’re coming from, what’s your purpose, what you’re doing there.”

“I mean, that’s like the most normal, the most natural thing, but why?” the cardinal asked during the press conference.

“This is due to the deterioration of values, respect for life, respect for institutions,” so it is important to assume an attitude of individual responsibility in the current situation, he said.

The cardinal said that “we must all be aware that, if we do not propose each one in his field, in his place, in his relationships, to be builders of peace, of understanding, of reconciliation, we will end up destroying each other.”

The archbishop of Guadalajara asked the authorities to do their job and guarantee security for all citizens.

“We’re not asking that someone be shot to death, we’re just asking that they enforce the law,” he said.

In other recent incidents of violence in the country, 13 people, including four police officers, were killed in El Salto, Jalisco state, in a shootout between law enforcement and drug traffickers, and the Bishop of Zacatecas, Sigifredo Noriega Barceló, was stopped and questioned by organized crime members.

Mexico is experiencing a dramatic escalation in violence. Between 2018 and 2021, the country recorded the highest number of homicides in its history. The period includes the last year of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s term and the first three years of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Mexican presidents hold office for six years.

From Jan. 1 to June 26 of this year, according to official figures, more than 12,847 homicides have occurred in Mexico.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.