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'Come to our rescue': Nigerian priest to international community after month of captivity

Fr. Bako Francis Awesuh, who was held captive for more than a month by Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria's Kaduna state earlier this year. / Aid to the Church in Need.

Kaduna, Nigeria, Dec 2, 2021 / 13:05 pm (CNA).

A Nigerian priest who spent more than a month in captivity following his abduction earlier this year has called on the international community to come to the aid of the people of God in Nigeria’s Kaduna State amid heightened insecurity.

Fr. Bako Francis Awesuh, 37, told Aid to the Church in Need Nov. 25 attacks from the predominantly Muslim Fulani herders “have become very common in Kaduna state.”

“I am therefore calling on the international community to please come to our rescue,” Fr. Awesuh told the pontifical charity organization.

In a September 2021 report, the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) ranked Kaduna as one of Nigeria’s least secure states.

Intersociety members said in the report that at least 608 people in Kaduna state have lost their lives in what has been described as “Christian butcheries” perpetrated by Fulani bandits in the first nine months of the year. 

The report also indicated that 4,400 Christians in Nigeria have been killed, while at least 20 priests and pastors have been murdered or abducted in the West African nation.

Fr. Awesuh told Aid to the Church in Need that Fulani herdsmen stormed his residence in Kachia Local Government Area at 11 pm May 16. 

“I heard gunshots and I quickly turned off the television set. Turning off the light, I saw shadows and heard footsteps. I carefully opened the curtain to see what was going on. I saw five bulky Fulani herdsmen who were well-armed. I recognized them by their dress and by the way they spoke. I stood there confused, not knowing what to do, as I felt completely lost,” the priest recounted.

He added that his body became stiff and started sweating profusely after the attackers knocked at his door.

“They kept on knocking, but, afraid, I refused to open the door. They broke down the door and forced themselves inside. One of the men pushed me to the floor, tied me up and flogged me mercilessly, saying ka ki ka bude mana kofa da tsori (‘you are getting tortured because you kept us standing outside for so long and refused to open the door when we were knocking’). They stripped me naked down to my shorts.”

Abducted along with ten of his parishioners, the priest said that for the next three days they trekked in the bushes feeding only on mangos.

“We were hungry, tired, and weak and our legs hurt a lot and our feet were swollen as we trekked barefoot. There was rain on the second and third days, but we had to keep moving. On the third day, we arrived at a camp deep in the forest,” Fr. Awesuh said.

They remained in the forest for nearly five weeks, where they were fed with rice, oil, and salt. The food was prepared by the women who had been kidnapped, he added.

“We were not allowed to bathe throughout our captivity. We had to urinate and defecate in the hut. We were smelling like dead bodies and the hut smelled like a mortuary. We were tortured and threatened with death if a ransom of 50 million naira ($120,000) was not paid,” Fr. Awesuh said. 

He related that “Our families pleaded and negotiated with our kidnappers, until they finally accepted the sum of 7 million naira ($17,000).”

The priest recalled that three parishioners tracked down the abductees, meaning to rescue them, but they lost their lives in the process.

“Oh, what sorrow to have watched three of my parishioners shot dead in cold blood, right before my eyes—and I couldn’t do anything. It was very painful! At this point, I felt helpless, hopeless, useless, and restless! I urgently craved for death to take me, as the scene of the killings kept playing in my head.”

“Whenever I opened my mouth to pray, words failed me. All I could say was ‘Lord have mercy,’” Fr. Awesuh recounted.

He thanked God for his freedom saying, “To the greater glory of God’s name, we were released and came out alive. I narrowly escaped death. I know of so many priests kidnapped before and after me who were killed even after a ransom was paid.”

Fr. Awesuh, whose current location remains undisclosed for security reasons, said he has undergone counselling.

“The love I received and experienced from my family, friends and especially the Church, was enormous,” he concluded.

Pope Francis tells Cypriot authorities he is praying for ‘the peace of the entire island’

Pope Francis addresses the authorities, civil society, and diplomatic corps at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus, Dec. 2, 2021. / Vatican Media.

Nicosia, Cyprus, Dec 2, 2021 / 10:20 am (CNA).

Pope Francis told Cypriot authorities on Thursday that he is praying for “the peace of the entire island.”

The pope addressed political leaders, representatives of civil society, and members of the diplomatic corps at the Presidential Palace in the capital, Nicosia, on Dec. 2, hours after he arrived on the island divided by a U.N. buffer zone.

Pope Francis with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus, Dec. 2, 2021. Andrea Gagliarducci/CNA.
Pope Francis with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus, Dec. 2, 2021. Andrea Gagliarducci/CNA.

He described the de facto partition of the island as “the greatest wound suffered by this land.”

“I pray for your peace, for the peace of the entire island, and I make it my fervent hope,” he said.

“The way of peace, which reconciles conflicts and regenerates the beauty of fraternity, has a single word as its signpost. That word is dialogue.”

Pope Francis is the second pope to visit Cyprus after Benedict XVI made a three-day trip to the Mediterranean island in 2010. He is embarking on a five-day visit that will also take him to Greece, another predominantly Orthodox Christian country.

Pope Francis meets Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus, Dec. 2, 2021. Vatican Media.
Pope Francis meets Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus, Dec. 2, 2021. Vatican Media.

In his live-streamed address, the pope described Cyprus, an island in the eastern Mediterranean Sea with a population of 1.2 million people, as “a country geographically small, but historically great.”

He said that the nation has served as “the eastern gate of Europe and the western gate of the Middle East,” offering “an open door, a harbor that unites.”

“Cyprus, as a crossroads of civilizations, has an innate vocation to encounter, favored by the welcoming character of the Cypriot people,” he said.

The island of Cyprus also contains Northern Cyprus, a predominantly Sunni Muslim territory located on the northeastern portion of the island.

Northern Cyprus is recognized only by neighboring Turkey, which invaded Cyprus in 1974, and is considered part of the Republic of Cyprus by all other states.

Pope Francis left Rome at 11 a.m. local time on Thursday. After touching down at Larnaca International Airport, he traveled to the divided capital city, where he addressed members of the country’s Catholic minority at the Maronite Cathedral of Our Lady of Grace in Nicosia.

He was then driven to the Presidential Palace, where he paid a courtesy visit to Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, who later gave a speech praising the pope’s outreach to the poor and defense of the environment.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

Anastasiades said that Cyprus receives an outsized share of migrants compared to other European Union member states and thanked the pope for his role in transferring 50 migrants from Cyprus to Italy.

“Your symbolic initiative is, first of all, a strong message about the need for a much-needed review of EU immigration policy, so that, on the one hand, there is a fairer division of the management of problems and, on the other, and a more humane life for those who emigrate to the member states,” he said.

Flanked by Anastasiades, the pope visited a statue of Makarios III, the first president of Cyprus, in the Presidential Palace gardens. Considered the “Father of the Nation,” Makarios was also the Orthodox archbishop of Cyprus. He survived four attempts on his life and a coup during his three presidential terms.

Pope Francis with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades before a statue of Makarios III at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus, Dec. 2, 2021. Vatican Media.
Pope Francis with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades before a statue of Makarios III at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus, Dec. 2, 2021. Vatican Media.

Pope Francis paid tribute to Makarios in his address to the country’s leaders, pointing out that his name means “blessed” in Greek, which, he said, evoked the Beatitudes presented by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount.

The pope noted that Cyprus played an important role in early Christian history.

“Precisely from this place, where Europe and the East meet, there began the first great inculturation of the Gospel on this continent,” he said.

“I am deeply moved to be able to retrace the steps of the great missionaries of the early Church, particularly Saints Paul, Barnabas, and Mark.”

The pope compared the island, with its natural beauty and man-made treasures, to “a pearl of great price in the heart of the Mediterranean,” alluding to Jesus’ Parable of the Pearl, recounted in the Gospel of Matthew.

He said: “A pearl in fact becomes what it is because it takes shape over time. It takes years for its various layers to become compact and give it luster.”

“So too, the beauty of this land comes from the cultures which over the centuries have met and blended here. Today too, the light of Cyprus is richly variegated.”

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

He went on: “Many peoples and nations have contributed different shades and tints to this people. I think too of the presence of many immigrants: percentagewise, more than any other country of the European Union.”

“To preserve the multicolored and multifaceted beauty of the whole is no easy thing. As in the formation of a pearl, it takes time and patience; it demands a broad vision capable of embracing a variety of cultures and looking to the future with foresight.”

“I think in this regard of the importance of protecting and supporting all the members of society, especially those who are statistically a minority.”

The pope observed that a pearl is created when an oyster faces “an unexpected threat to its safety,” such as a grain of sand.

The Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus, Dec. 2, 2021. Andrea Gagliarducci/CNA.
The Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus, Dec. 2, 2021. Andrea Gagliarducci/CNA.

“To protect itself, it reacts by assimilating the thing that wounded it: it encloses the foreign body that endangers it and makes it into something beautiful: a pearl,” he said.

“The pearl of Cyprus has been darkened by the pandemic, which has prevented many visitors from visiting it and seeing its beauty; here, as in other places, this has aggravated the effects of the financial and economic crisis.”

“In this period of recovery, however, it will not be anxious efforts to recover what was lost that will ensure and consolidate growth, but the commitment to promote the recovery of society, especially through a decisive fight against corruption and everything that violates the dignity of the person; here I think, for example, of the scourge of human trafficking.”

The statue of Archbishop Makarios in the grounds of the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus, Dec. 2, 2021. Andrea Gagliarducci/CNA.
The statue of Archbishop Makarios in the grounds of the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus, Dec. 2, 2021. Andrea Gagliarducci/CNA.

Pope Francis urged the Cypriot authorities to make bold gestures to try to achieve reconciliation between the island’s divided peoples.

“Not gestures of power, threats of reprisal and shows of force, but gestures of détente and concrete steps towards dialogue,” he suggested.

“I think, for example, of openness to sincere discussion that would give priority to people’s needs, ever more effective involvement on the part of the international community, the need to protect the religious and cultural heritage, and the restitution of all that people hold most precious in that regard, such as places or at least sacred furnishings.”

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

The pope praised a peacebuilding initiative called the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Project, which brings together the island’s religious leaders under the auspices of the Swedish embassy.

“Times that seem least favorable, when dialogue languishes, can be the very times that prepare for peace,” he said.

“The pearl also reminds us of this, for it takes shape in the patient, hidden process of weaving new substances together with the agent that caused the wound.”

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

The pope urged dispirited leaders to think of younger generations that long for a “world of peace,” rather than “one marred by perennial rivalries and poisoned by unresolved disputes.”

“Cyprus, as a geographic, historical, cultural, and religious crossroads, is in a position to be a peacemaker. May it be a workshop of peace in the Mediterranean,” he said.

“Peace is not often achieved by great personalities, but by the daily determination of ordinary men and women. The European continent needs reconciliation and unity; it needs courage and enthusiasm, if it is to move forward.”

“For it will not be the walls of fear and the vetoes dictated by nationalist interests that ensure its progress, nor will economic recovery alone serve to guarantee its security and stability.”

He concluded: “May we look to the history of Cyprus to see how encounter and welcome have brought forth good fruits that endure. Not only in the history of Christianity, for which Cyprus was ‘the springboard’ on this continent, but also for the building of a society which found its richness in integration.”

“This spirit of enlargement, this ability to look beyond one’s own borders, brings rejuvenation and makes possible the rediscovery of a brilliance that was lost.”

Pope Francis invites Catholics in Cyprus to be agents of fraternity

Pope Francis visits the Maronite Cathedral of Our Lady of Grace in Nicosia, Cyprus, Dec. 2, 2021. / Vatican Media.

Rome Newsroom, Dec 2, 2021 / 08:47 am (CNA).

On his first day in Cyprus, Pope Francis invited the Catholic community to promote a spirit of fraternity in the island country, which is divided by a U.N. buffer zone.

“We need a fraternal Church, one that is an agent of fraternity in our world,” the pope said Dec. 2, shortly after arriving in Nicosia, the divided capital city.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

In his live-streamed speech at the Maronite Cathedral of Our Lady of Grace, Francis said that “in Cyprus, there are many spiritual and ecclesial sensibilities, different backgrounds and histories, different rites and traditions. Yet we should not experience diversity as a threat to identity; no, we should not be jealous or defensive.”

“If we fall into this temptation, then fear grows, and fear gives rise to distrust, distrust leads to suspicion and then, sooner or later, to conflict,” he continued. “We are brothers and sisters, loved by a single Father.”

Pope Francis landed Thursday afternoon in Cyprus at the start of a five-day trip that will also take him to Athens, Greece, and the island of Lesbos. The visit is expected to highlight the plight of migrants, since both countries have been major stopping points for migrants and refugees seeking to enter Europe, mainly from the Middle East and Africa.

Pope Francis boards the plane to Cyprus at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport, Dec. 2, 2021. Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.
Pope Francis boards the plane to Cyprus at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport, Dec. 2, 2021. Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

The pope touched down at Larnaca International Airport, then traveled the 31 miles to Nicosia by car.

Addressing Catholic priests, consecrated, deacons, catechists, and ecclesial associations and movements of Cyprus, he said: “By your spirit of fraternity, you can remind everyone, and Europe as a whole, that we need to work together to build a future worthy of humanity, to overcome divisions, to break down walls, to dream and work for unity. We need to welcome and integrate one another, and to walk together as brothers and sisters, all of us.”

The predominantly Orthodox Christian Republic of Cyprus has a population of 1.2 million people, just 10,000 of whom are Catholic.

The island is split by a U.N. buffer zone, with the de facto state of Northern Cyprus located on the northeastern portion of the island. The predominantly Sunni Muslim territory is recognized only by neighboring Turkey, which invaded Cyprus in 1974, and is regarded by all other states as part of the Republic of Cyprus.

Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.
Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Before leaving the Vatican on Dec. 2, Francis greeted around 12 migrants from Afghanistan, Somalia, Congo, and Syria, now living in Italy. Some of them were migrants who came to Rome on the plane with Pope Francis after his 2016 visit to Lesbos.

On his way to the airport, the pope stopped to meet another group of immigrants hosted by the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, a parish close to Fiumicino Airport. While there, he also prayed before an image of Our Lady of Loreto.

The night before the trip, Francis made his customary stop at the Basilica of St. Mary Major to visit the icon of Mary, Salus Populi Romani, to ask for her intercession for his travels.

Pope Francis prays before the icon Salus Populi Romani at the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome on Dec. 1, 2021. Vatican Media.
Pope Francis prays before the icon Salus Populi Romani at the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome on Dec. 1, 2021. Vatican Media.

Cyprus and Greece are significant in early Christian history, because the Apostles St. Paul and St. Barnabas traveled to the Mediterranean countries to bring the Gospel. The Acts of the Apostles records that St. Paul stopped in Cyprus and converted the Roman Proconsul Sergius Paulus to Christianity. The Apostle also famously preached on the streets of Athens.

Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, and Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, the head of the Maronite Church, traveled from the Holy Land and Lebanon to be present at the pope’s encounter with Maronite and Latin Catholics in Cyprus Dec. 2.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

The Maronite Church is one of the 23 autonomous Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with Rome. There are an estimated 3 million Maronite Catholics worldwide, around a million of whom live in Lebanon.

After listening to songs and testimony from Raï and two religious sisters, Pope Francis spoke about St. Barnabas, the apostle who was born on the island of Cyprus.

Barnabas “was a great man of faith and wisdom chosen by the Church in Jerusalem — the Mother Church, we could say — as the person best suited to visit a new community, that of Antioch, made up of a number of recent converts from paganism,” Francis said, praising the patience that Barnabas showed to “people coming from another whole world, another culture, another religious sensibility.”

“They were people who had just had a life-changing experience; theirs was a faith full of enthusiasm, yet still fragile,” he said.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

Barnabas, he added, had “the patience of discernment that is capable of perceiving the signs of God’s work in every place, the patience to ‘study’ other cultures and traditions. Above all else, Barnabas had the patience of accompaniment ... he did not overwhelm the fragile faith of the newcomers by taking a rigorous and inflexible approach, or by making excessive demands about the observance of precepts. He accompanied them, taking them by the hand and dialoguing with them.”

Pope Francis invited Catholics in Cyprus to have the same patience.

“The work you are carrying out on this island, as you welcome new brothers and sisters arriving from other shores of the world, is precious,” he said. “Like Barnabas, you too are called to foster a patient and attentive outlook, to be visible and credible signs of the patience of God, who never leaves anyone outside the home, bereft of his loving embrace.”

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

He pointed out that Barnabas is also a good example of fraternity, as seen in his friendship with St. Paul, which they were able to maintain even through disagreements about how to carry out their mission.

“I share with you my joy in visiting this land and journeying as a pilgrim in the footsteps of the great apostle Barnabas, a son of this people, a disciple who loved Jesus and a fearless herald of the Gospel,” Pope Francis said.

“As he visited the emerging Christian communities, [Barnabas] saw the grace of God at work; he rejoiced and urged everyone ‘to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose’ (cf. Acts 11:23). I come with the same desire: to see the grace of God at work in your Church and in your land, to rejoice with you at the wondrous things the Lord has done, and to urge you to persevere always, without growing weary or discouraged,” he said.

Dobbs Day: Here's what it was like at the rallies outside the Supreme Court

Thousands of pro-life advocates gathered outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 1, 2021, in conjunction with oral arguments in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization abortion case. / Katie Yoder/CNA

Washington D.C., Dec 2, 2021 / 08:04 am (CNA).

Anna Del Duca and daughter, Frances, woke up at 5 a.m. Wednesday morning to brave the 30-degree weather outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. They arrived hours before oral arguments began in the highly-anticipated abortion case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

The case, which involves a Mississippi law restricting most abortions after 15 weeks, challenges two landmark decisions: Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which upheld Roe in 1992. 

“We're looking forward to the end of Roe versus Wade in our country,” Anna, who drove from Pittsburgh Tuesday night, told CNA. In her hands, she held a sign reading, “I regret my abortion.”

Anna Del Duca (right) and her daughter, Frances, traveled from Pittsburgh to attend a pro-life rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1, 2021, in conjunction with oral arguments for the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization abortion case. Katie Yoder/CNA
Anna Del Duca (right) and her daughter, Frances, traveled from Pittsburgh to attend a pro-life rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1, 2021, in conjunction with oral arguments for the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization abortion case. Katie Yoder/CNA

“I would like to use my testimony to be a blessing to others,” she said, so that “others will choose life or those who have regretted abortion or had an abortion would turn to Jesus.”

Anna remembered having an abortion when she was just 19. Today, she and her daughter run a group called Restorers of Streets to Dwell In Pittsburgh that offers help to women seeking healing after abortion. 

Anna and Frances were among thousands of Americans who rallied outside the Supreme Court before, during, and after the oral arguments. To accommodate them, law enforcement closed the street in front of the court. Capitol police also placed fencing in the space in front of the building in an attempt to physically separate rallies held by abortion supporters and pro-lifers.

At 21-weeks pregnant, pro-life speaker Alison Centofante emceed the pro-life rally, called, “Empower Women Promote Life.” The event featured a slew of pro-life women of diverse backgrounds and numerous politicians.

“It’s funny, there were so many diverse speakers today that the only unifying thread was that we want to protect preborn children,” Centofante told CNA. They included Democrats, Republicans, Christians, Catholics, agnostics, atheists, women who chose life, and women who regretted their abortions, she said.

She recognized women there, including Aimee Murphy, as people who are not the typical “cookie cutter pro-lifer.”

Aimee Murphy, 32, founder of pro-life group Rehumanize International, arrived at the Supreme Court around 6:30 a.m. She drove from Pittsburgh the night before. Her sign read, “Queer Latina feminist rape survivor against abortion.”“At Rehumanize International, we oppose all forms of aggressive violence,” she told CNA. “Even as a secular and non-partisan organization, we understand that abortion is the most urgent cause that we must stand against in our modern day and age because it takes on average over 800,000 lives a year.”

She also had a personal reason for attending. 

“When I was 16 years old, I was raped and my rapist then threatened to kill me if I didn't have an abortion,” she revealed.

“It was when he threatened me that I felt finally a solidarity with unborn children and I understood then that, yeah, the science told me that a life begins at conception, but that I couldn't be like my abusive ex and pass on the violence and oppression of abortion to another human being — that all that I would be doing in having an abortion would be telling my child, ‘You are an inconvenience to me and to my future, therefore I'm going to kill you,’ which is exactly the same thing that my rapist was telling me when he threatened to kill me.”

On the other side of the police fence, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the National Abortion Access Coalition and NARAL Pro-Choice America participated in another rally. Yellow balloons printed with the words “BANS OFF OUR BODIES” escaped into the sky. Several pro-choice demonstrators declined to speak with CNA.

Voices clashed in the air as people, the majority of whom were women, spoke into their respective microphones at both rallies. Abortion supporters stressed bodily autonomy, while pro-lifers recognized the humanity of the unborn child. Chants arose from both sides at different points, from “Whose choice? My choice!” to “Hey hey, ho ho, Roe v. Wade has got to go!”

At 10 a.m., the pro-life crowd sudddenly went silent as the oral arguments began and the rally paused temporarily as live audio played through speakers.

Hundreds of students from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, traveled to Washington, D.C. for a pro-life rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1, 2021, in conjunction with oral arguments in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization abortion case. Katie Yoder/CNA
Hundreds of students from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, traveled to Washington, D.C. for a pro-life rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1, 2021, in conjunction with oral arguments in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization abortion case. Katie Yoder/CNA

During the oral arguments, students from Liberty University knelt in prayer. One student estimated that more than a thousand students from the school made the more than 3-hour trip from Lynchburg, Virginia.

“Talking about our faith is one thing, but actually acting upon it is another,” he said. “We have to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. So to me this is part of doing that.”

Sister Mary Karen, who has been with the Sisters of Life for 21 years, also stressed the importance of prayer. She drove from New York earlier that morning because, she said, she felt drawn to attend. She came, she said, to pray for the country and promote the dignity of a human person. 

“Our culture is post-abortive,” she explained. “So many people have suffered and the loss of human life is so detrimental, just not knowing that we have value and are precious and sacred.”

Theresa Bonopartis, of Harrison, New York, was among the pro-life demonstrators outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1, 2021. She runs a nonprofit group called Entering Canaan that ministers to women and others wounded by abortion. Katie Yoder/CNA
Theresa Bonopartis, of Harrison, New York, was among the pro-life demonstrators outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1, 2021. She runs a nonprofit group called Entering Canaan that ministers to women and others wounded by abortion. Katie Yoder/CNA

She stood next to Theresa Bonopartis, who traveled from Harrison, New York, and ministers to women and others wounded by abortion.

“I've been fighting abortion for 30 years at least,” she told CNA. 

Her ministry, called Entering Canaan, began with the Sisters of Life and is observing its 25th anniversary this year. It provides retreats for women, men, and even siblings of aborted babies.

Abortion is personal for Bonopartis, who said she had a coerced abortion when she was just 17. 

“I was kicked out of the house by my father and then coerced into getting an abortion,” she said. “Pretty much cut me off from everything, and that's something people don't really talk about … they make it try to seem like it's a woman's right, it's a free choice. It's all this other stuff, but many women are coerced in one way or another.”

She guessed that she was 14 or 15 weeks pregnant at the time.

“I saw my son. I had a saline abortion, so I saw him, which I always considered a blessing because it never allowed me to deny what abortion was,” she said. Afterward, she said she struggled with self-esteem issues, hating herself, guilt, shame, and more. Then, she found healing.

“I know what that pain is like, I know what that experience is like, and you know that you can get past it,” she said. “You just want to be able to give that message to other people, that they're able to heal.”

Residents of Mississippi, where the Dobbs v. Jackson case originated, also attended. 

Marion, who declined to provide her last name, drove from Mississippi to stand outside the Supreme Court. She said she was in her early 20s when Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. 

“At the time, of course, I could care less,” she said. Since then, she had a change of heart. 

“We were the generation that allowed it,” she said, “and so we are the generation who will help close that door and reverse it.”

Marion, who declined to provide her last name, was among those who attended a pro-life rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1, 2021, from Mississippi, where the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization abortion case originated. Katie Yoder/CNA
Marion, who declined to provide her last name, was among those who attended a pro-life rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1, 2021, from Mississippi, where the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization abortion case originated. Katie Yoder/CNA

The crowd at the pro-life rally included all ages, from those who had witnessed Roe to bundled-up babies, children running around, and college students holding up homemade signs. 

One group of young friends traveled across the country to stand outside the Supreme Court. They cited their faith and family as reasons for attending.

Mathilde Steenepoorte, 19, from Green Bay, Wisconsin, identified herself as “very pro-life” in large part because of her younger brother with Down syndrome. She said she was saddened by the abortion rates of unborn babies dianosed with Down syndrome.

Juanito Estevez, from Freeport, a village on Long Island, New York, at a pro-life rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1, 2021. Katie Yoder/CNA
Juanito Estevez, from Freeport, a village on Long Island, New York, at a pro-life rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1, 2021. Katie Yoder/CNA

Juanito Estevez, from Freeport, a village on Long Island, New York, arrived Tuesday. He woke up at 6 a.m. to arrive at the Supreme Court with a crucifix in hand.

“I believe that God is the giver of life and we don't have the right [to decide] whether a baby should live or die,” he said.

He also said that he believed women have been lied to about abortion. 

“We say it's their right, and there's a choice,” he said. When girls tell him “I have the right,” his response, he said, is to ask back, “You have the right for what?” 

Mallory Finch, from Charlotte, North Carolina, was among the pro-life demonstrators outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1, 2021.
Mallory Finch, from Charlotte, North Carolina, was among the pro-life demonstrators outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1, 2021.

Mallory Finch, from Charlotte, North Carolina, also woke up early but emphasized “it was worth it.” A pro-life podcast host, she called abortion a “human-rights issue.”

“I hope that it overturns Roe,” she said of the case, “but that doesn't mean that our job as pro-lifers is done. It makes this, really, just the beginning.” 

From Syria to Slovakia, buildings are lit up in support of persecuted Christians

Red Week 2021 is marked in Bosnia and Herzegovina. / Aid to the Church in Need.

Königstein, Germany, Dec 2, 2021 / 05:20 am (CNA).

Hundreds of buildings across the world were lit up in solidarity with persecuted Christians in Red Week, an annual event organized by the charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

This year’s commemoration, on Nov. 17-24, marked the first time that the eastern European countries of Ukraine and Bosnia and Herzegovina have taken part in the event, with Kyiv’s Greek Catholic Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ and Sarajevo Cathedral illuminated in red.

Another highlight was the participation of the Maronite Cathedral of St. Elijah in Aleppo, Syria. The cathedral was badly damaged in the country’s ongoing war but rebuilt with help from ACN.

Also lit up in red were Sacré-Cœur in the French capital, Paris, and the cathedrals in Sydney, Melbourne, and Hobart in Australia.

On Red Wednesday, the final day of Red Week, ACN released a report declaring the treatment of Christian minority women and girls in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia a “human rights catastrophe.”

At the start of Red Week, the pontifical foundation announced it was donating $5.6 million to help Christian communities in Lebanon and Syria.

Pope Francis accepts resignation of Catholic archbishop of Paris

Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris. / Ibex73 via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Rome Newsroom, Dec 2, 2021 / 04:23 am (CNA).

Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Archbishop Michel Aupetit on Thursday amid a controversy surrounding an alleged prior relationship with a woman before he was archbishop of Paris.

A statement from the Holy See press office on Dec. 2 said that Pope Francis accepted the resignation submitted by Aupetit and had appointed Archbishop Georges Pontier, archbishop emeritus of Marseille, as the interim apostolic administrator.

Aupetit, who was installed in the French capital in 2018, wrote to the pope after the French weekly magazine Le Point published a report portraying him as an authoritarian and divisive figure.

The report also raised concerns about Aupetit’s contacts with a woman dating back to 2012, when he was vicar general of Paris archdiocese.

The 70-year-old archbishop, who had a late vocation to the priesthood after working as a doctor, told Le Point that he was not in a relationship with the woman.

He said: “My behavior towards her may have been ambiguous, thus suggesting the existence between us of an intimate relationship and sexual relations, which I strongly refute … I decided not to see her again and I informed her.”

Aupetit told the French Catholic daily La Croix that he had spoken to Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops, about his situation, as well as to Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the apostolic nuncio to France.

“This is not because of what I should or should not have done in the past — otherwise I would have left a long time ago — but to avoid division, if I myself am a source of division,” he said.

In a Dec. 2 statement also released as a video message, Aupetit said: “The painful events of the past week, about which I have already spoken, had led me to place my mission in the hands of Pope Francis in order to preserve the archdiocese from the division that suspicion and loss of trust always provoke.”

“I have received this heavy burden from the archdiocese of Paris and I have tried to carry it out with fervor and dedication. I give thanks to God, who has always given me the gift of a benevolent gaze at my fellow human beings and of love for people, which led me to the practice of medicine in the first place. Caring is something deeply rooted in me and the difficulties of relationships between people do not diminish it.”

He added: “I was, of course, greatly disturbed by the attacks on me. Today, I thank God that my heart is deeply at peace. I thank the many, many people who have shown me their trust and affection over the past eight days.”

“I pray for those who may have wished me ill as Christ taught us to do, who helps us beyond our poor strength. I ask forgiveness of those whom I might have hurt and assure you all of my deep friendship and my prayer, which will always be yours.”

Concluding his message, he recalled the words of his first homily as archbishop of Paris: “Don’t look at the archbishop, contemplate Christ!”

Sixteen martyrs of the Spanish Civil War to be beatified in Granada

Father Cayetano Giménez Martín, a martyr of the Spanish Civil War who will be beatified along with 15 companionions in Granada, Feb. 26, 2022. / Archdiocese of Granada.

Granada, Spain, Dec 1, 2021 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

The beatification ceremony for sixteen martyrs of the Spanish Civil War will be held in February at the Granada Cathedral. 

Fr. Cayetano Giménez Martín and his 15 companions will be beatified Feb. 26, 2022. Of the group, all were priests, except a seminarian and a layman. 

The Spanish Civil War was fought from 1936 to 1939 between the Nationalist forces, led by Francisco Franco, and the Republican faction. During the war, Republicans martyred thousands of clerics, religious, and laity; of these, 11 have been canonized, and more than 2,000 beatified.

Fr. Cayetano refused to escape to safety at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. When his parish church was burned, he took refuge with a family for two weeks but was captured, and then shot Aug. 1, 1936, shouting “Viva Cristo Rey”.

His companions were: Fr. José Becerra Sánchez; Fr. José Jiménez Reyes; Fr. Pedro Ruiz de Valdivia; Fr. Francisco Morales Valenzuela; Fr. José Frías Ruiz; Fr. Manuel Vázquez Alfalla; Fr.Ramón Cervilla Luis; Fr. Lorenzo Palomino Villaescusa; Fr. José Rescalvo Ruiz; Fr. Manuel Vilches Montalvo; Fr. José María Polo Rejón; Fr. Juan Bazaga Palacios; Fr. Miguel Romero Rojas; Antonio Caba Pozo, a seminarian; and José Muñoz Calvo, a layman.

Caba Pozo was about 22 when he was arrested on July 19, 1936. He was shot while praying the rosary two days later.

Muñoz Calvo was president of the youth of Catholic Action. He was jailed July 27, 1936 for refusing to deny his membership in the group, and killed July 30. 

The diocesan phase to study their cause for beatification was opened on July 1, 1999 and concluded on Sept. 28 the same year. On Nov. 29, 2019, the Holy See announced the promulgation of the decree of martyrdom.

While there is a tendency to associate the Spanish martyrs of the 20th century solely with the civil war of 1936-39, there were decades of preparation leading to this, accompanied by desecrations of churches, according to a Spanish priest serving in Rome.

The religious persecution in Spain in the 20th century took "some preparation. It is not something that can be narrowed down, it cannot be limited simply to the first months of the Spanish Civil War," Msgr. José Jaime Brosel Gavilà, rector of Santa Maria in Monserrato degli Spagnoli, the Spanish national church in Rome, told ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish language news partner, last year.

While a great number of the martyrs lost their lives during the civil war, there were also other periods, such as the Tragic Week, an uprising of Republicans, socialists, and anarchists in Catalonia in July 1909; the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic in 1931; and the Revolution of 1934, a movement of rebellious strikes.

These incidents were also accompanied by the destruction of religious buildings, desecrations, persecution, and the murder of priests, bishops, men and women religious, and lay people out of hatred of the faith.

Pro-life leaders react to President Joe Biden's statements about Dobbs abortion case

U.S. President Joe Biden arrives at the Vatican to meet Pope Francis Oct. 29, 2021 / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Denver Newsroom, Dec 1, 2021 / 17:52 pm (CNA).

President Joe Biden reaffirmed his support of Roe v. Wade on Wednesday, in response to a question about the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization abortion case before the U.S. Supreme Court that could overturn the nation’s abortion precedent, though he said he did not listen to the oral arguments that took place earlier in the day.

"I didn't see any of the debate today, the presentation today,” Biden said. “And I support Roe v. Wade.” 

Biden’s presidency, which has repeatedly reaffirmed and expanded access to abortion and abortion rights, has been a source of continued contraversy owing to his Catholic faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person — among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.” 

“If Joe Biden had paid attention today, he would have heard the most rigorous debate the Supreme Court has ever had on abortion — the kind of debate all Americans deserve, but have been denied for almost 50 years since Roe v. Wade,” said Prudence Robertson of the Susan B. Anthony List. 

“President Biden may have missed the debate at the Supreme Court today, but it's impossible to miss how much technology has advanced in fetal development, how far women have come in being able to carve their own path without abortion, or the rise of pregnancy help centers across the nation that stand ready to help her not need an abortion,” said Jor-El Godsey, president of Heartbeat International. 

Megan Wold, an attorney practicing in appellate and constitutional law who is a former law clerk to Justice Samuel Alito and a former deputy solicitor general in Ohio, said that “Roe v. Wade did not hold that abortion was simply rational, it held that abortion was so fundamental that states are obligated to allow abortion on demand until viability. That was wrong when Roe was decided and it is still wrong now.”

Wold continued: “I think the Supreme Court knows that. As we heard today, a majority of the court understands that Roe has no basis in the Constitution or in our history and traditions, and that the passage of time has only further exposed how deeply flawed Roe is.”

Andrea Trudden, senior director of communications and marketing for Heartbeat International, told CNA that if Biden had paid attention he “would have heard that women do not ‘need’ abortion to be successful. Through technological and scientific advances over the last 50 years, women have resources at their fingertips to help them overcome hurdles and set them up for success. Pregnancy help organizations offer compassionate care and support while providing practical needs to pregnant women through parenting classes, job training, and even housing so that no woman feels that abortion is her only option.”

Brian Burch, president of Catholic Vote, said that it was almost impossible for him to believe the president would not have tuned in to Wednesday’s oral arguments “given the historical significance of the case and the politics surrounding it.”

“I can't help but think his conscience is agitating him. He knows he's wrong, and yet persists in doubling down on defending the killing of millions of innocent children," Burtch said of Biden.

During a press conference, Biden defended his support as the “rational position to take,” adding, “And I continue to support it.”

“Even former Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg understood Roe was wrongly decided,” Godsey told CNA. “Keeping the country captive to a culture of death is far from rational. Women deserve better than abortion.”

“In 1974, Biden stated that I ‘went too far.’ Indeed, it put us in the company of a tiny handful of nations that allow abortion on demand more than halfway through pregnancy, when unborn babies can clearly feel pain, even up to birth,” Robertson of Susan B. Anthony said.

“That is the radical status quo our ‘devout’ Catholic president swears allegiance to today," she said. "The American people and their elected representatives overwhelmingly reject this extremism. It’s time to restore their right to protect women and children.”

Added Burch: “The Holy Spirit doesn't stop working, and neither should we."

Dobbs v. Jackson: What did Roberts, Kavanaugh, and Barrett say?

Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett testifies during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Oct. 13, 2020. / null

Denver Newsroom, Dec 1, 2021 / 17:22 pm (CNA).

As the wait begins for a decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization abortion case, close attention will be paid to the comments and questions of three conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court that some observers view as possible swing votes: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., and Associate Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

At issue is a 15-week abortion ban passed in Mississippi, which challenges the court’s precedent of allowing abortions before viability, roughly 24-28 weeks into pregnancy. Pro-life groups are hoping the court, where conservative appointees have a 6-3 majority, will strike down Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

A number of questions from the justices focused on the principle of stare decisis, a Latin phrase roughly meaning “to stand by things that have been decided,” and understood to mean that the court generally stands by its own precedent.

The justices' questions and comments were made in response to the three lawyers who gave oral arguments in the case on Dec. 1. They are: Scott G. Stewart, the solicitor general of Mississippi; Julie Rikelman, litigation director of the Center for Reproductive Rights, who was representing the Jackson Women’s Health abortion clinic in Mississippi, and U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth B. Prelogar, who was representing the Biden administration in opposition to Mississippi’s law.

Here are some of the highlights of what Roberts, Kavanaugh, and Barrett said during the proceeding:

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

Roberts to Stewart: “On stare decisis, I think the first issue you look at is whether or not the decision at issue was wrongly decided. I've actually never quite understood how you evaluate that. Is it wrongly decided based on legal principles and doctrine when it was decided or in retrospect? Because Roe — I mean, there are a lot of cases around the time of Roe, not of that magnitude but the same type of analysis, that went through exactly the sorts of things we today would say were erroneous, but do we look at it from today's perspective, it's going to be a long list of cases that we're going to say were wrongly decided.”

Roberts to Rikelman: “...if you think that the issue is one of choice, that women should have a choice to terminate their pregnancy, that supposes that there is a point at which they've had the fair choice, opportunity to [choose], and why would 15 weeks be an inappropriate line? Because viability, it seems to me, doesn't have anything to do with choice. But, if it really is an issue about choice, why is 15 weeks not enough time?”

Roberts to Rikelman: “...I'd like to focus on the 15-week ban because that's not a dramatic departure from viability. It is the standard that the vast majority of other countries have. When you get to the viability standard, we share that standard with the People's Republic of China and North Korea. And I don't think you have to be in favor of looking to international law to set our constitutional standards to be concerned if those are your -- share that particular time period.”

Roberts to Rikelman: “It is certainly true that we cannot base our decisions on whether they're popular or not with the people. Casey seemed to say we shouldn't base our decisions not only on that but whether they're going to — whether they're going to seem popular, and it seemed to me to have a paradoxical conclusion that the more unpopular the decisions are, the firmer the Court should be in not departing from prior precedent, sort of a super stare decisis, but it's super stare decisis for what are regarded as — by many, as the most erroneous decisions. Do you think there is that category? Is there -- or is it just normal stare decisis?”

Roberts to Prelogar: “...your discussion of the reliance interests and the ability of women and men to control their lives in reliance on the right to an abortion, the argument would not be as strong, I think you'll have to concede, given what we're talking about, which is not a prohibition; it's a 15-week line. Is that right?”

Justice Brett Kavanaugh

Kavanaugh to Stewart: “I want to be clear about what you're arguing and not arguing … to be clear, you're not arguing that the Court somehow has the authority to itself prohibit abortion or that this Court has the authority to order the states to prohibit abortion as I understand it, correct?”

Kavanaugh to Stewart: “And as I understand it, you're arguing that the Constitution is silent and, therefore, neutral on the question of abortion? In other words, that the Constitution is neither pro-life nor pro-choice on the question of abortion but leaves the issue for the people of the states or perhaps Congress to resolve in the democratic process? Is that accurate? ... [I]f you were to prevail, the states, a majority of states or states still could, and presumably would, continue to freely allow abortion, many states; some states would be able to do that even if you prevail under your view, is that correct?”

Kavanaugh to Rikelman: “I think the other side would say that the core problem here is that the Court has been forced by the position you're taking … to pick sides on the most contentious social debate in American life and to do so in a situation where they say that the Constitution is neutral on the question of abortion, the text and history, that the Constitution's neither pro-life nor pro-choice on the question of abortion, and they would say, therefore, it should be left to the people, to the states, or to Congress … and we [the Supreme Court] should be scrupulously neutral on the question … I want to give you a chance to respond to that.”

Kavanaugh to Rikelman: “I want to ask a question about stare decisis … history helps think about stare decisis … and the history of how the Court's applied stare decisis, and when you really dig into it, the history tells a somewhat different story, I think, than is sometimes assumed. If you think about some of the most important cases, the most consequential cases in this Court's history, there's a string of them where the cases overruled precedent. Brown v. Board outlawed separate but equal. Baker versus Carr, which set the stage for one person/one vote. West Coast Hotel, which recognized the states' authority to regulate business. Miranda versus Arizona, which required police to give warnings when the right to — about the right to remain silent and to have an attorney present to suspects in criminal custody. Lawrence v. Texas, which said that the state may not prohibit same-sex conduct. Mapp versus Ohio, which held that the exclusionary rule applies to state criminal prosecutions to exclude evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Giddeon versus Wainwright, which guaranteed the right to counsel in criminal cases. Obergefell, which recognized a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. In each of those cases...the Court overruled precedent. … So I assume you agree with most, if not all, the cases I listed there, where the Court overruled the precedent. So the question on stare decisis is why, if … we think that the prior precedents are seriously wrong, if that, why then doesn't the history of this Court's practice with respect to those cases tell us that the right answer is actually a return to the position of neutrality and — and not stick with those precedents in the same way that all those other cases didn't?”

Kavanaugh to Prelogar: “When you have those two interests at stake and both are important, as you acknowledge … why should this Court be the arbiter rather than Congress, the state legislatures, state supreme courts, the people being able to resolve this? And there will be different answers in Mississippi and New York, different answers in Alabama than California because they're two different interests at stake and the people in those states might value those interests somewhat differently. Why is that not the right answer?”

Justice Amy Coney Barrett

Barrett to Stewart: “I have a question … about stare decisis. And I think a lot of the colloquy you've had with all of us has been about the benefits of stare decisis, which I don't think anyone disputes … You know, we have Plessy, Brown. We have Bowers versus Hardwick, to Lawrence. But, in thinking about stare decisis, which is obviously the core of this case, how should we be thinking about it — I mean, Justice Breyer pointed out that in Casey and in some respects, well, it was a different conception of stare decisis insofar as it very explicitly took into account public reaction. Is that a factor that you accept, or are you arguing that we should minimize that factor?. .. [Is there a distinct set of stare decisis considerations applicable to what the Court might decide is a watershed distinction?”

Barrett to Rikelman: “... Petitioner points out that in all 50 states, you can terminate parental rights by relinquishing a child ... and I think the shortest period might have been 48 hours if I'm remembering the data correctly. So it seems to me, seen in that light, both Roe and Casey emphasize the burdens of parenting, and insofar as you and many of your amici focus on the ways in which forced parenting, forced motherhood, would hinder women's access to the workplace and to equal opportunities, it's also focused on the consequences of parenting and the obligations of motherhood that flow from pregnancy. Why don't the safe haven laws take care of that problem? It seems to me that it focuses the burden much more narrowly. There is, without question, an infringement on bodily autonomy, you know, which we have in other contexts, like vaccines. However, it doesn't seem to me to follow that pregnancy and then parenthood are all part of the same burden. And so it seems to me that the choice more focused would be between, say, the ability to get an abortion at 23 weeks or the state requiring the woman to go 15, 16 weeks more and then terminate parental rights at the conclusion. Why didn't you address the safe haven laws and why don't they matter?”

Barrett to Rikelman: “I don't understand why 27 weeks is less workable than 24.”

Barrett to Prelogar: “... I asked Ms. Rikelman this question too, but I'm not sure that I fully understand the government's position or Ms. Rikelman's position. So, on pages 18 and 19 of your brief, you talk about reliance interests and you quote some of the language from Casey about a woman's ability to participate in the social and economic life of the nation. And I mentioned the safe haven laws to Ms. Rikelman, and it seems to me I fully understand the reliance interests. There are the airy ones Justice Kagan was referring to and then there are the more specific ones about a woman's access to abortion as a backup form of birth control in the event that contraception fails so that she need not bear the burdens of pregnancy. But what do you have to say to Petitioners' argument that those reliance interests do not include the reliance interests of parenting and bringing a child into the world when maybe that's not the best thing for her family or her career?”

Note: Transcripts obtained via the U.S. Supreme Court website. Most of the questions presented here have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Pro-life leaders, legal experts speak out after Dobbs arguments at US Supreme Court

Pro-life advocates at the 45th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., Jan. 19, 2018. / Jonah McKeown/CNA

Denver Newsroom, Dec 1, 2021 / 17:01 pm (CNA).

On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, concerning Mississippi’s ban on most abortions after 15 weeks. Leading up to and in response following the oral arguments, pro-life leaders and legal experts offered their perspectives. 

Below is a collection of statements and social media posts. 

Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie 
Senior Fellow, The Catholic Association

“Justice Sotomayor's assertions in today's oral argument in the landmark abortion case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health about fetal pain were wholly ignorant of the tremendous scientific advances in fetal medicine. As recently as last year, doctors in the Journal of Medical Ethics wrote, 'Current neuroscientific evidence supports the possibility of fetal pain before the 'consensus' cutoff of 24 weeks' and may be as early as 12 weeks. Not only does medicine agree that fetal anesthesia be administered for fetal surgery, a clear reflection of the medical consensus that unborn babies can feel pain, but like viability, the line marking when they feel pain continues to inch earlier.”

“As a practicing diagnostic radiologist, I can attest that advances in ultrasound technology continue to astonish the medical community as to the humanity of the unborn child, a truth and medical reality that we can now see clearly in the earliest weeks of life. To compare an unborn child to a brain-dead person or a corpse flouts science which tells us that at 15 weeks gestation, a baby's organs are fully formed, her heart pumps 26 quarts of blood a day, and her lungs are already practicing drawing breath. This case is before the Supreme Court today in large part because Americans have seen the evolving science and increasingly want a voice in a question of great moral consequence.” 


Sherif Girgis
Associate Professor of Law, Notre Dame Law School

“Across the political spectrum, many close court-watchers who would've said at 9:59 a.m. that there is no chance the Court fully reverses Roe are now saying that's the likeliest outcome. The Chief repeatedly asked if there was a middle ground, and no one produced one. On the contrary, the lawyers for the Biden administration and the clinics repeatedly rejected any middle ground.” 

“Justice Kavanaugh repeatedly signaled that he thinks abortion is entirely for the states to decide. Justice Barrett showed that the availability of adoption undercuts many of the arguments for a constitutional abortion right. I would be very surprised if Roe survived the summer. "

Megan Wold
Legal Expert & Attorney Practicing Appellate and Constitutional Law

“During today’s argument, the justices signaled that Roe was wrongly decided as an original matter; that Roe has been undermined by subsequent scientific and legal developments; that the Constitution is silent on the question of abortion; and that no right to abortion exists in our country’s history and tradition. These views support overruling Roe.” 

“Moreover, no Justice proposed a new standard to replace Roe, and six justices suggested a willingness to eliminate Roe’s key viability holding.  It is clear that the court is likely to substantially weaken Roe, or more likely, to overrule Roe altogether." 

Stephen Billy
Executive Director, Charlotte Lozier Institute

“Chief Justice John Roberts correctly stated during today’s Dobbs oral arguments that United States abortion law is extreme in comparison to global and European norms. The United States is among a small handful of nations, including China and North Korea, that allow elective abortion more than halfway through pregnancy, or after 20 weeks.”

“I was stunned to hear the abortion industry counsel challenge Chief Justice Roberts on whether or not U.S. abortion law is extreme. The Chief Justice correctly cited CLI research that shows how Roe puts the United States in the same class with China and North Korea, allowing abortion-on-demand until the day of birth. Does the abortion industry not read the Washington Post?”

“Despite Ms. Rikelman’s claims, the black-letter law is clear:  47 out of 50 European nations limit elective abortion prior to the 15-week limit proposed by Mississippi.”

Camille Pauley
Co-Founder, Healing the Culture

“Roe v. Wade is an archaic judicial artifact on life support, and the Supreme Court should seize this opportunity to dump it on the ash heap of history. But no matter how this decision falls, Roe is a crippled legal dogma that will not long survive.”

“Science, philosophy, and public opinion have passed it by. Our hope is that the Court’s ruling in Dobbs will bury this dead letter from the past and reinstate the principles of human rights that are outlined in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.” 

“The lethal logic of Roe v. Wade is that your life won’t be protected unless you’ve attained a certain level of development, but this violates the most critical and important principles of civilization—do no harm, the ends don’t justify the means, every human being is intrinsically valuable, the right to life must take priority over the right to liberty, and numerous others. Without these principles, civilization collapses.” 

Chelsey Youman
National Legislative Advisor, Human Coalition Action

“Roe was egregiously bad jurisprudence and has resulted in millions of deaths. Ending an innocent human life is not justified by purported reliance interests. Continued fidelity to Roe and Casey is extraordinarily disruptive to a functioning and healthy society, and if the Court’s rulings are to have any integrity, this precedent must not stand any longer. It is time for Roe to be consigned to the dustbin of history.”

“We flatly reject the claim that abortion is necessary to the flourishing of women. We advocate every day for women who are able to parent, work, and succeed amid challenges. Human Coalition Action stands ready to advocate for a culture of life, regardless of whether Roe is overturned. We pushed for the expansion of the safety net in Texas for pregnant and postpartum mothers, and we will continue to advocate for protection of preborn children, and for prioritizing the health and safety of mothers.”

Tom Brejcha
President and Chief Counsel, Thomas More Society

“As the high court hears arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson, we face the first real legal opportunity in over a decade to topple Roe v. Wade. The 1973 decision that legalized abortion in America has left a tragic trail of human carnage: more than sixty-two million dead children and countless broken families and wounded souls.”

Dr. David Prentice
Vice President of Research, Charlotte Lozier Institute

“Respectfully, we suggest that Justice Sotomayor follow the science, which has not stood still since Roe was decided in 1973.  Modern research is revealing that unborn babies do feel pain at an early stage, and we see that science in action regularly during fetal surgery, in which doctors apply analgesia in utero to prevent the suffering of the unborn child.”