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Spanish bishops on migrants: 'We don't love God if we don't love our brothers'

Madrid, Spain, Sep 19, 2019 / 05:50 pm (CNA).- The head of the migration commission for the Spanish Bishops’ Conference emphasized that love of neighbor is essential for Christians, and this includes a care for migrants and refugees.

“We don't love God if we don't love our brothers,” stressed Bishop Luis Quinteiro of Tuy-Vigo in a presentation on the bishops’ preparations for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

Observed in the Church since 1914 as an opportunity for prayer and awareness, the World Day of Migrants and Refugees will be held Sept. 29. Pope Francis has chosen as this year’s theme, “It’s not just about migrants.”

Normally observed in January, the day will instead by marked on the last Sunday of September this year.

Quinteiro called migration “a decisive issue” and said he hopes that this World Day of Migrants and Refugees will help remind people that foreigners are “not a danger, but help to enrich us.”

In a message, the Spanish bishops called for the most vulnerable to be protected and for human rights of migrants to be respected regardless of their legal status.

They also called for the closure of detention centers where migrants who cross the border illegally are held. The detention centers have drawn significant criticism for poor living conditions.

“It's not just about migrants, it's about humanity,” said Fr. José Luis Pinilla, secretary general of the Spanish Conference of Religious.

Padre Pio overcame suffering with hope, says Italian journalist

Foggia, Italy, Sep 19, 2019 / 04:58 pm (CNA).- More than 50 years after the death of Padre Pio, one of the last journalists to interview the saint has reflected on the saint's hope and suffering.

Renzo Allegri, the author of the biography “Man of Hope,” visited the Italian saint a year before he died in 1968. He said Pio’s suffering was difficult to witness, but the experience emphasized the saint's silent strength.

“It was hard for me to watch him walking in the sacristy or the corridors of the monastery, bent over, dragging his swollen feet, and holding on to the walls so that he would not fall down,” wrote Allegri.

“His suffering was tremendous, but he bore it without complaining as he continued to give himself to those who needed him. When he would lift his head and look around, his big eyes looked like they were burning, not from pain but from a goodness that he could not contain.”

Allegri said that during his stay at San Giovanni Rotondo in 1967, he was able to speak with Pio twice. He said he witnessed an “extraordinary moral strength that emanated from [Pio’s] whole being.”

Following the saint’s death, Allegri wrote a long newspaper piece on Pio’s life and works. During his research, the journalist was given thousands of unpublished documents regarding the saint’s hardships.

“I discovered something about Padre Pio that few people knew: he had endured incredibly enormous suffering throughout his life, consisting of more persecution, humiliation, accusations, slanders, trials, and condemnations than one can imagine,” he said.

He said many people will focus on Pio’s intense life of penance and characterize him as a dark and medieval. However, he said the saint is better labeled as “a man of hope.”

“Throughout his life, in the midst of the most difficult trials, he always looked to the future with a spirit of optimism, faith, and love,” said Allegri.

The saint was born in 1887 to farmers Grazio Mario Forgione and Maria Giuseppa Di Nunzio. During his childhood, Pio was known for his zealous spirituality, and, when he was 15, he entered the novitiate of the Capuchin Franciscan Friars in Morcone.

World War I broke out in 1914 and Pio was drafted into the 10th Company of the Italian Medical Corps. He was released shortly thereafter due to medical reasons. In 1916, he moved to the Lady of Grace Capuchin Friary located in San Giovanni Rotondo.

Many miracles and extraordinary sufferings have been attributed to Pio’s life. Beside experiencing bilocation and levitation, he also had the stigmata - a miraculous exhibition of the wounds of Christ - and underwent physical attacks from the devil.

In his recent reflection, Allegri pointed to the words of Cardinal Giuseppe Siri, archbishop emeritus of Genoa, who highlighted Christ’s redemptive suffering as essential to the faith. In times when this is misunderstood, Siri said God will send men like Padre Pio.

“With the stigmata which he bore throughout his life and with the other physical and moral sufferings he endured, Padre Pio calls our attention to the body of Christ as a means of salvation,” Siri told Allegri in an interview for “Man with Hope.”

“In our time the temptation to forget about the reality of the body of Christ is enormous. And God has sent us this man with the task of calling us back to the truth.”

Indiana bishop offers cemetery for burial of aborted remains

Fort Wayne, Ind., Sep 19, 2019 / 03:45 pm (CNA).- The Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend offered Thursday the use of a Catholic cemetery to bury the more than 2,000 remains of aborted children that were discovered in the garage of a recently-deceased former abortionist, as authorities in one state close their investigation into the discovery.

“I join my voice to the many people who have expressed their horror and disgust at the discovery of 2,246 medically preserved remains of unborn babies in the Illinois home of Ulrich Klopfer, who performed thousands of abortions in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend,” Rhoades said Sept. 19.

“I strongly support the investigation being carried out by the attorneys general of Illinois and Indiana. I also offer any assistance, including the use of our Catholic Cemetery in Fort Wayne, for the proper and dignified burial of the remains of these unborn children.”

At a press conference Thursday, the Will County Sheriff’s Office announced that they will not pursue criminal charges related to the discovery of 2,246 “medically preserved fetal remains” in the Klopfer's garage. The remains were discovered by Klopfer’s family members Sept. 12, nine days after his death at age 75.

According to the sheriff’s office, the remains were discovered in more than 70 cardboard boxes that were stacked nearly up to the ceiling of the garage. He said Klopfer’s family has been cooperating with the investigation.

“The remains discovered were inside small sealed plastic bags, which contained formalin, a chemical used to preserve biological material,” said a joint statement from the Will County Sheriff’s Office, Will County State’s Attorney’s Office, and the Will County Coroner's Office. The statement said that these boxes were mixed with boxes that contained “various personal property” of Klopfer.

The statement said that the boxes were dated 2000-2002. During those years, Klopfer owned and operated three abortion clinics in Indiana. These clinics, which were located in South Bend, Fort Wayne, and Gary, were all shuttered by the end of 2015 after numerous complaints against Klopfer’s practices.

In 2016, Klopfer’s medical license was suspended after he admitted that he performed abortions on two 13-year-old girls, and did not report them to the state in a timely manner. He also admitted that he did not give pain medication to adult patients unless they paid extra, and his clinic in Fort Wayne was described as dirty and unkempt, with broken equipment.

Will County Sheriff Mike Kelley said at the press conference that Klopfer left no documentation as to why he chose to store the remains in his garage.

Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow said that he was working with the Indiana Attorney General’s office to transfer the fetal remains to Indiana authorities, where the investigation will continue. He said that there will be an investigation into Klopfer’s admission that he performed an abortion on a 10-year-old rape survivor, who was then returned to her family without reporting the act.

Glasgow declined to state the estimated gestational age of the fetal remains, and did not elaborate as to how the bags were labeled. He said that once the remains are transferred to Indiana, the attorney general will ask women who were Klopfer’s patients at that time to contact the agency with any additional information that they may have.

While Klopfer cannot be charged with anything as he is deceased, the presence of fetal remains in his home suggests he violated Indiana law regarding the disposal of medical waste, as well as a law regarding records keeping. Authorities in Indiana will investigate whether Klopfer had an accomplice who helped him transport the remains to his home in Illinois. That person may be charged, although the age of the remains could be past the statute of limitations.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is running for the Democratic nomination for president, said that he found the discovery to be “extremely disturbing,” and he supported an investigation. He also said that he hopes it is not used to further restrict abortion rights.

“I hope that it doesn’t get caught up in politics at a time when women need access to healthcare,” he added.

As mayor, Buttigieg attempted to block the construction of a pregnancy center in South Bend, and supported the operation of Whole Women’s Health, an abortion clinic. Whole Women’s Health currently is operating without a license, and is administered by a former employee of Klopfer.

Transgender man will be allowed to sue Catholic hospital over hysterectomy

Sacramento, Calif., Sep 19, 2019 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- A Sacramento-area woman who identifies as a transgender man will be allowed to sue a Catholic hospital for cancelling and rescheduling a procedure to remove her uterus, following a ruling from the 1st District Court of Appeal that overturned a lower court ruling on Wednesday.

Evan Minton, who identifies as a male, says in the lawsuit that Dignity Health, a Catholic health system that operates Mercy San Juan Medical Center outside Sacramento, in 2017 cancelled a planned hysterectomy when she mentioned to a nurse that she identifies as trangendered.

Dignity Health arranged for Minton to have the procedure done at a different hospital within 72 hours of the cancellation, the Sacramento Bee reports. The surgeon, Dr Lindsey Dawson, told the Bee that Dignity Health officials assisted her in getting emergency privileges at Methodist, a non-Catholic affiliated hospital, so she could perform the hysterectomy there.

Minton sued, arguing that the hospital’s actions violated California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, which says businesses must offer full and equal access to state residents, the Bee reports.

Dignity Health provided a response to the Sacramento Bee.

“Catholic hospitals do not perform sterilizing procedures such as hysterectomies for any patient regardless of their gender identity, unless there is a serious threat to the life or health of the patient,” the Dignity statement said.

“Courts have repeatedly recognized the right of faith-based hospitals not to provide services based on their religious principles....In this case, Mr. Minton was able to quickly receive the sought-after procedure at another nearby Dignity Health hospital that is not Catholic-affiliated.”

A San Francisco Superior Court judge initially dismissed Minton’s lawsuit, on the grounds that the hospital followed court precedent in rescheduling the patient quickly at a different hospital.

Court records show that Minton underwent hormone replacement therapy in 2012 and a mastectomy in 2014, and planned to undergo the hysterectomy before having a penis surgically created.

Another Catholic health system in California, St. Joseph Health, is facing a similar lawsuit filed in March from another woman who identifies as a transgender man after one of its locations, St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka, refused to perform a hysterectomy.

After the surgery at St. Joseph was denied, Knight underwent a hysterectomy at a hospital unaffiliated with the St. Joseph Health of Northern California system, 30 minutes away.

Like Dignity Health, St. Joseph Health said in a statement that hysterectomies are only performed at their facilities when they have been deemed “medically necessary,” and not for purposes of sterilization.

The teaching of the Catholic Church recognizes a hysterectomy as licit when there is a grave and present danger to the life or health of the mother, and when the intention of the procedure is not to prevent the possibility of conception.
 
In January 2019, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued an authoritative response which explained the circumstances under which a hysterectomy could be morally licit.

A 2016 letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services signed by the general counsel for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, together with other groups, affirmed that the denial of surgery to someone seeking to change their gender would not be discriminatory, noting that in such cases there would be nothing medically wrong with otherwise healthy organs to be removed.

“It is not ‘discrimination’ when a hospital provides care it considers appropriate, declines to perform procedures destructive to patients’ welfare and well-being, or declines to take actions that undermine the health, safety, and privacy of other patients,” the letter said.
 
“A hospital does not engage in 'discrimination' when, for example, it performs a mastectomy or hysterectomy on a woman with breast or uterine cancer, respectively, but declines to perform such a procedure on a woman with perfectly healthy breasts or uterus who is seeking to have the appearance of a man.”

 

Polls show majority support in US for medical conscience protections

Washington D.C., Sep 19, 2019 / 01:00 pm (CNA).- New poll results show that a large majority of Americans believe that healthcare professionals should not be forced to provide procedures that violate their moral beliefs. 

The results of two polls, released by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on Sept. 18, show widespread support for conscience protections in the healthcare industry, and for regulatory changes that take into account new pressures surrounding so-called gender reassignment procedures.

“An overwhelming majority of Americans agree: no healthcare professional should be forced to violate deeply-held beliefs in order to keep a job. The practice of medicine depends on those courageous and generous enough to serve all people — especially the poor and marginalized — with the highest ethical standards,” said a joint statement on the results released by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, who chairs the USCCB committee on pro-life activities. 

The release was also signed by Bishop Robert J. McManus of Worcester, chair of the committee for religious liberty, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, chair of the committee on domestic justice, and Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, chairman of the subcommittee for the defense of marriage.

“If we exclude people of faith from the medical profession, Americans will suffer, especially those most in need,” the bishops added. In many areas of the country, Catholic or other religiously-affiliated hospitals are the only institutions present to serve a community. 

A total of 83% of all respondents in the Heart+Mind Strategies poll, conducted on behalf of the USCCB, said that it was important to not force healthcare professionals to participate in procedures to which they have moral objections. This total included 86% of women polled and 79% of men. 

The survey polled 1,004 adults over the age of 18 from July 18-21, 2019. The sample size was equally divided between men and women. 

Nearly six out of 10 respondents said that healthcare providers, such as doctors or nurses, should not be required to perform abortions if they are morally opposed to the practice. Only 20% thought it should be legally required for doctors or nurses to perform abortions, and another 22% said they were not sure.

Fifty-nine percent of respondents said that they supported regulations to protect conscience rights, and 21% said they were opposed. An additional 21% said they were not sure if they supported these regulations. 

These numbers were slightly different when the question was modified to specifically ask about doctors opposed to performing “gender reassignment procedures.” This question saw 60% of respondents say they were in favor of regulations to protect the rights of doctors to refuse to perform such procedures with 22% who said they were opposed. Only 18% said they were unsure if they thought doctors should be forced to violate their consciences in these cases. 

The poll also found that over eight out of 10 Americans believe that “having a moral alignment with one’s healthcare professional is important.” This figure rose four points to 85% among women, and fell to 77% among men. 

In May, the Department of Health and Human Services introduced the Protecting Statutory Conscience Rights in Health Care; Delegations of Authority rule, which protects doctors and other medical practitioners who object to procedures like abortion, sterilization, or facilitating euthanasia. The rule mandates that institutions receiving federal money be certified that they comply with more than two dozen laws protecting conscience and religious freedom rights. 

After initially being scheduled to go into effect in July, it has been delayed until the end of November due to legal challenges.

‘Secret preacher’ of Dachau concentration camp beatified

Limburg, Germany, Sep 19, 2019 / 12:06 pm (CNA).- The ‘secret preacher of block 17’ who witnessed to Christ in a Nazi concentration camp was beatified this week in Limburg, Germany.

Blessed Father Richard Henkes was a German Pallottine priest denounced by the Nazis for his outspoken preaching. He died in Dachau concentration camp in 1945 while caring for prisoners sick with typhus.

“The real reformers of the Church are the blessed and the saints,” said Cardinal Kurt Koch at Henkes’ beatification on Sept. 19. “For we can only achieve the utmost externally, in structural terms, when we are also prepared to strive to achieve our utmost internally, in faith.”

“Love is not without sacrifice,” Koch said. “The Christian martyrdom is only real if it is realized as the supreme act of love for God and for one’s brothers and sisters.”

From the pulpit and the classroom, Fr. Henkes spoke out against the Nazi ideology and condemned the regime’s crimes against human dignity, focusing one homily on their killing of the disabled. Henkes was first denounced in 1937 for one of his homilies, for which he had to stand trial.

In the following years of World War II, Henkes was interrogated and threatened by the Gestapo again and again as he continued to work as a youth chaplain and retreat master.

“In the face of this neo-pagan ideology, Father Henkes surmised that wherever God is reduced to insignificance and pushed out of the public eye, man is also reduced to insignificance,” Koch said.

“Only when God is exalted through us human beings, when we do what Mary did in the Magnificat - Magnificat anima mea: Let God be exalted through my soul - wherever that takes place, there man is not reduced to insignificance, but is given a share in the greatness of God's love,” the cardinal said.

Fr. Henkes was finally arrested by the Gestapo in May 1943 because of the content of one of his homilies in Branitz. He was then imprisoned in the Dachau concentration camp, where he lived in the priests’ barracks, did compulsory labor, and secretly studied Czech with the future archbishop of Prague, Servant of God Cardinal Josef Beran.

Henkes had begun studying the Czech language before his imprisonment, and said that he hoped to continue serving the Czech people as a priest after the war. He secretly preached in block 17 of Dachau, where there were many Czech people.

In late 1944, a typhus epidemic overtook block 17. Fr. Henkes volunteered to be locked up with the sick prisoners, so that he could continue to minister to them and care for the dying.

He described the situation in Dachau in a letter smuggled out of the camp through a middleman: “People are dying in masses because they are completely starving. There are only skeletons. A gruesome picture. I have been vaccinated against typhus fever and I hope that the Lord God protects me ... However, one thinks of how this will end up here. We can do nothing, we can only rely on the Lord God.”

After eight weeks in the quarantined barracks, Fr. Henkes became infected with typhus. He died within a week, on Feb. 22, 1945. Allied forces liberated Dachau concentration camp on April 29, 1945.

Shortly after the end of World War II, Catholics in the Czech Republic began calling for Henkes’ cause for sainthood to be opened.

Last Sunday, Henkes joined the ranks of the saints and beatified priests and religious who died witnessing to Christ amid the inhumanity and horror of the Nazi concentration camps. This includes not only St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, who both were killed in Auschwitz, but also Henkes’ fellow prisoners in the priest barracks of Dachau, several of whom have already been beatified.

More than 2,500 Catholic priests and seminarians were imprisoned in Dachau concentration camp under the Nazi regime, of which 1,034 died in the camp.

Blessed Michal Kozal -- a Polish bishop killed by lethal injection in Dachau in 1943 -- was beatified by St. John Paul II in Warsaw in 1987.

Blessed Karl Leisner was secretly ordained a priest while imprisoned in Dachau in 1944 by a French bishop also held within the concentration camp. (Bishop Gabriel Piguet was able to obtain clandestine authorization from Leisner’s bishop before the ordination.) Leisner died of tuberculosis shortly after celebrating his first Mass.

Fr. Leisner was beatified, along with Fr. Provost Lichtenberg, by St. John Paul II during his visit to Berlin in 1996.

Blessed Fr. Engelmar Unzeitig, who also died in Dachau while caring for sick prisoners infected with typhus in 1945, was beatified in Germany in 2016. Fr. Unzeitig wrote in a letter from the concentration camp: “God’s almighty grace helps us overcome obstacles … love doubles our strength, makes us inventive, makes us feel content and inwardly free. If people would only realize what God has in store for those who love him!”

Pope's cardinal advisors continue to discuss apostolic constitution

Vatican City, Sep 19, 2019 / 10:14 am (CNA).- Pope Francis’ now six-member Council of Cardinal Advisors met this week to continue work on the forthcoming apostolic constitution, incorporating into the draft suggestions submitted by bishops’ conferences and others during the summer.

According to a brief press release from the Holy See press office Thursday, the council met Sept. 17-19, with a focus on “re-reading and modifying the draft of the new Apostolic Constitution,” which has the provisional title Praedicate evangelium.

“This first rereading, which has come to an end, was a passage of listening and reflection that responds to the indications of the Holy Father in the sense of communion and synodality,” the statement said.

The new constitution has been the advisory group’s key reform project since its establishment in 2013, one month after Pope Francis’ election.

The document is expected to place renewed emphasis on evangelization as the structural priority of the Church’s mission, with some predicting the merger of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization into a single larger department.

Praedicate evangelium will replace Pastor bonus, the current apostolic constitution on the Roman Curia promulgated by Pope John Paul II on June 28, 1988, and subsequently modified by both popes Benedict and Francis.

Pope Francis attended the council’s meetings, the advisory group's 31st, when not in other audiences and appointments. On Wednesday morning the pope held his usual general audience, and Thursday morning he had a full slate of appointments, including with Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising and the coordinator of the Council for the Economy, who is also president of the German bishops’ conference.

The Council of Cardinal Advisors is often referred to informally as the “C9,” although there have been only six members since December 2018, when three of the original members, Cardinals George Pell, Francisco Javier Errazuriz, and Laurent Monsengwo, were removed, ostensibly for reasons of age.

In addition to Marx, the other members of the pope’s advisory council are Cardinals Pietro Parolin, Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, Seán Patrick O’Malley, Giuseppe Bertello and Oswald Gracias.

Bishops Marcello Semeraro and Marco Mellino, the secretary and adjunct secretary of the council, were also present at the meetings this week.

The next round of gatherings will take place Dec. 2-4.

Blood of St. Januarius liquefies on feast day

Naples, Italy, Sep 19, 2019 / 10:06 am (CNA).- The miracle of the liquefiction of the blood of early Church martyr St. Januarius took place Thursday in Naples.

The blood was shown to have liquefied shortly after 10 a.m. during Mass in the Naples’ Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary.

The Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, Archbishop of Naples, who in his homily, strongly criticized the violent crime of Neapolitan streets.

Despite the city’s recurring miracle, “the evil that the hateful and violent killers commit in Naples is limitless,” he said.” In effect they try to kill at birth just the possibility of making a future…”

This, he noted, generates fear and insecurity, and goes against the common good. 

“We must ask ourselves: does Naples still have a great and sincere heart? Us citizens of today's Naples have to answer this question with truth, therefore, with realism, with honesty and courageously, without letting ourselves be taken by a false nostalgia of the times we once had,” he stated.

St. Januarius, or San Gennaro in Italian, the patron of Naples, was a bishop of the city in the third century, whose bones and blood are preserved in the cathedral as relics. He is believed to have been martyred during Diocletian persecution.

The reputed miracle is locally known and accepted, though has not been the subject of official Church recognition. The liquefaction reportedly happens at least three times a year: Sept. 19, the saint's feast day, the Saturday before the first Sunday of May, and Dec. 16, the anniversary of the 1631 eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

During the miracle, the dried, red-colored mass confined to one side of the reliquary becomes blood that covers the entire glass. In local lore, the failure of the blood to liquefy signals war, famine, disease or other disaster.

The blood did not liquefy in December 2016, but Monsignor Vincenzo De Gregorio, abbot of the Chapel of the Treasure of San Gennaro, said it was a sign that Catholics should pray rather than worry about what the lack of miracle could mean.

“We must not think of disasters and calamities. We are men of faith and we must pray,” he said at the time.

The vial has sometimes changed upon the visit of a pope.

On March 21, 2015, Pope Francis met with priests, religious and seminarians at the cathedral and gave a blessing with the relic.

Sepe then received the vial back from the pope and noted that the blood had partially liquefied.

The last time blood liquefied in the presence of a pope was in 1848 when Bl. Pius IX visited. The phenomenon didn’t happen when St. John Paul II visited the city in October 1979, or when Benedict XVI visited in October 2007.

 

Draft law would preserve abortion pill restrictions

Washington D.C., Sep 19, 2019 / 10:00 am (CNA).- New federal legislation has been drafted to preserve restrictions on the availability of abortion pills. The Support and Value Expectant Moms and Babies Act (SAVE) was introduced Thursday by pro-life congressional leaders in response to efforts to broaden access to chemical abortions in the United States.

“While the national abortion rate decline is a welcome sign, the dramatic rise in use of the abortion pill should worry pro-life activists and pro-abortion activists alike,” stated Rep. Robert Latta (R-Ohio), sponsor of the SAVE Moms and Babies Act which he introduced in the House Sept. 19.

“The SAVE Moms & Babies Act helps ensure this abortion method is recognized for what it is: dangerous,” Latta said.

Mifepristone—also known as Mifeprex—is the first of two drugs used in the RU-486 chemical abortion process, and its use together with Misopristol is highly-regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Mifeprex causes the mother’s body to stop nourishing the unborn child; Misoprostol, taken afterward, causes contractions and expels the child and placenta from the mother’s body.

The FDA has applied special guidelines, the Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS), to the two-drug process. Under REMS, the drugs can only be prescribed and dispensed by a certified health care provider in a health care setting, and can only be administered up to 70 days after the woman’s last menstrual cycle.

Abortion advocates are pushing for increased access to the drugs through mail order, online and through telemedicine.

In 2016, the FDA adopted revisions to its guidelines which included removing the requirement that the drugs be prescribed by a physician. The REMS process is still in place.

“Lawmakers and advocates pushing for this pill to be available on demand and over the counter are neglecting the safety and health of women across this country,” Rep. Latta said, noting that chemical abortions already pose danger for the mother even with medical oversight.

“Without proper medical oversight, it has resulted in hospitalizations, severe complications, and several deaths,” he said.

The SAVE Moms and Babies Act would prevent the removal of the FDA’s existing REMS standards for the abortion pill, and would also prohibit the remote dispensing of the pill through the mail or by telemedicine. It would also block new chemical abortion drugs from FDA approval.

Pro-life groups are warning that increased access to chemical abortions could result in more women experiencing dangerous complications if they self-administer the abortion pill without proper medical oversight.

According to a 2018 GAO report, the FDA recorded around 4,200 incidents of Mifeprex-related “adverse events” between its approval in September of 2000 and June 30, 2017. Out of approximately 3.2 million women who have used the drug, 20 deaths were reported during that period, the report found.

The report added that “FDA has conducted a variety of monitoring activities and these have not identified significant concerns with the safety and use of Mifeprex, in accordance with its approved REMS.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 2271 teaches that “Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion” and that direct abortion “is gravely contrary to the moral law.” In addition to being a mortal sin, the procurement of a completed abortion is a canonical crime carrying with it the penalty of excommunication.

In 2009, when Italy legalized the abortion pill, the president emeritus of the Pontifical Academy for Life Monsignor Elio Sgreccia said it was no different than a surgical abortion and stated that “there will be excommunication for the doctor, the woman, and anyone who encourages its use.”

“First abortion was legalized to stop it being clandestine, but now doctors are washing their hands of it and transferring the burden of conscience to women,” Monsignor Sgreccia said, as reported by Reuters.

Bishops in California are currently working to oppose state legislation, currently waiting for the governor’s signature, that would force the state’s universities to offer chemical abortions to students. 

Latta’s bill comes after Planned Parenthood’s research arm, the Guttmacher Institute, reported an overall decline in the abortion rate to an all-time low in the U.S., with an estimated 862,000 abortions in 2017.

However, the percentage of chemical abortions in “nonhospital facilities” has gone up 25% since 2014, to a total of 339,640 abortions—39% of the overall abortion number.

Guttmacher admitted that the overall abortion decline might not be as steep as reported, in part due to unreported “self-managed abortions.” Mifeprex and Misoprostol “are becoming increasingly available online, as are resources about how to safely and effectively self-manage an abortion outside of a clinical setting,” the report stated.

“The industry’s migration to chemical self-abortion is deeply disturbing,” said Chuck Donovan, president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, a pro-life organization. He also noted that the trend could push the abortion rate back up in the future but with a “higher rate of injury” to women.

Mallory Quigley, vice president of communications for Susan B. Anthony List, said the increase in chemical abortions is part of the abortion industry’s determination to profit “off the destruction of unborn children and wounding of mothers” while cutting overhead costs.

Chaput: Fr. James Martin's message causes confusion about Church doctrine

Philadelphia, Pa., Sep 19, 2019 / 07:46 am (CNA).- After Fr. James Martin, SJ, spoke at a Philadelphia university, the Archbishop of Philadelphia urged caution about the priest’s message, especially regarding the possibility that Catholic teaching on sexuality might change.

“Father Martin has sought in a dedicated way to accompany and support people with same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria. Many of his efforts have been laudable, and we need to join him in stressing the dignity of persons in such situations,” Archbishop Charles Chaput wrote in a Sept. 19 column published on his archdiocesan website.

“At the same time, a pattern of ambiguity in his teachings tends to undermine his stated aims, alienating people from the very support they need for authentic human flourishing. Due to the confusion caused by his statements and activities regarding same-sex related (LGBT) issues, I find it necessary to emphasize that Father Martin does not speak with authority on behalf of the Church, and to caution the faithful about some of his claims,” Chaput added.

Martin is the author of “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity,” and speaks frequently on issues pertaining to homosexuality and Catholicism. He spoke Sept. 17 at Philadelphia's St. Joseph's University.

Chaput’s column raised his concern that “Father Martin – no doubt unintentionally -- inspires hope that the Church’s teachings on human sexuality can be changed.”

“In his book, ‘Building A Bridge,’ he writes: ‘For a teaching to be really authoritative it is expected that it will be received by the people of God . . . From what I can tell, in the LGBT community, the teaching that LGBT people must be celibate their entire lives . . . has not been received.’ One might easily, and falsely, infer from such language that the Church’s teaching on sexual intimacy lacks binding authority for same-sex attracted Catholics,” Chaput wrote.

The archbishop credited Martin for the priest’s insistence that he has never directly challenged Catholic teaching.

“But what is implied or omitted often speaks as loudly as what is actually stated, and in the current climate, incomplete truths do, in fact, present a challenge to faithful Catholic belief. When people hear that ‘the Church welcomes gay people’ or needs to be more ‘inclusive and welcoming’ without also hearing the conditions of an authentically Christian life set for all persons by Jesus Christ and his Church -- namely, living a life of chastity -- they can easily misunderstand the nature of Christian conversion and discipleship,” Chaput noted.

“For this reason, Catholic teaching always requires more than polite affirmation or pro forma agreement, particularly from those who comment publicly on matters of doctrine. Faithful Catholics who are same-sex attracted need support and encouragement in the virtue of chastity. They deserve to hear – as all people do – the truth about human sexuality spoken clearly and confidently. Anything less lacks both mercy and justice.”

Chaput’s column addressed other concerns about Martin’s work. 

Among those concerns is Martin's collaboration with New Ways Ministry, an advocacy group that has been criticized by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for "ambiguities and errors" in its teaching. The organization gave Martin its 2016 Bridge Building Award.

The archbishop noted that “Father Martin suggests that same-sex attracted people and those with gender dysphoria should be labeled according to their attraction and dysphoria, calling for use of the phrase 'LGBT Catholic' in Church documents and language. But while the Church does teach that the body is integral to human identity, our sexual appetites do not define who we are.”

“If we are primarily defined by our sexual attractions, then, in order to be fulfilled, it would follow that we must identify with and act on our attractions. Anything calling for the denial or restraint of our sexual appetites would logically amount to repression and even cruelty. This is the opposite of the Gospel's clear teaching that our identity is found in Jesus Christ, created in the image and likeness of God and called to be sons and daughters of God,” the archbishop said.

The archbishop also lamented that Martin “suggests that Catholic teaching on same-sex attraction as ‘objectively disordered’ (for example, in CCC 2358) is cruel and should be modified.”

That suggestion “misrepresents Catholic belief,” Chaput said.

“It’s worth recalling here that the Catechism also describes lust, extra-marital relations, and contracepted sex (2351), masturbation (2352), and even non-sexual sins such as lying and calumny (1753), as intrinsically ‘disordered.’ The suggestion that the wisdom of the Church, rooted in the Word of God and centuries of human experience, is somehow cruel or misguided does grave harm to her mission. Families have been destroyed because of this misperception, and Father Martin regrettably contributes ambiguity to issues that demand a liberating biblical clarity,” the archbishop added.

For his part, Martin tweeted a response to Chaput's column Thursday morning. The tweets took the form of a letter to Chaput.

“I think my main response is that it's difficult to respond to critiques that I am ‘implying’ things, when I am assiduous in my writings and talks about not challenging church teaching,” Martin wrote.

Martin noted that the lecture he offered at St. Joseph's University “is the same lecture that I presented at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin last year, the text of which was vetted and approved beforehand by the Vatican.”

Acknowleding that same-sex relations and same-sex marriage are impermissable and immoral, Martin tweeted that “LGBT Catholics have heard this repeatedly. Indeed, often that is the only thing that they hear from their church.”

“What I am trying to do instead is encourage Catholics to see LGBT people as more than just sexual beings, to see them in their totality, much as Jesus saw people on the margins, people who were also seen as ‘other’ in his time,” the priest wrote.

During his World Meeting of Families lecture, which Martin said was the same lecture he gave in Philadelphia this week, the priest criticized “homophobic pastors” and said that “LGBT people bring special gifts to the Church, like any group.”

Chaput’s column, which explained that he was unable to prevent Martin from appearing at a Catholic college overseen by a religious order, also criticized “bitter personal attacks” against the priest from other Catholics.

“As I’ve said previously, such attacks are inexcusable and unChristian.”

Nevertheless, the archbishop said, he had a responsibility to raise objections to some aspects of Martin’s message.

“Supporters of Father Martin’s efforts will note, correctly, that several Church leaders have endorsed his work,” Chaput concluded.  

“Those Churchmen are responsible for their words -- as I am for mine, as pastor of the Church in Philadelphia.  And specifically in that role as pastor, I want to extend the CDF’s caution to all the faithful of the Church in Philadelphia, regarding the ambiguity about same-sex related issues found throughout the statements and activities of Father James Martin.”