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Father Mike Schmitz's next podcast, 'Catechism in a Year,' starts Jan. 1

Father Mike Schmitz is the host of the podcast "the Bible in a Year," produced by Ascension. / Courtesy of Ascension

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 2, 2022 / 09:38 am (CNA).

Father Mike Schmitz, the voice behind the “Bible in a Year” podcast, will launch a new “Catechism in a Year” podcast on Jan. 1, 2023. 

For the 365 days of 2023, Schmitz will read through the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church, while “providing explanation, insight, and encouragement along the way,” according to a press release. The new podcast will be free on all streaming platforms, as well as on the Hallow prayer app.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a compilation of fundamental Christian truths and the essential teachings of the Church. The official U.S. version of the text is more than 900 pages long.

Ascension, the podcast’s publisher, reports that the “Bible in a Year” podcast has garnered 6.8 billion total listening minutes, as well as 300 million downloads to date.

In an announcement video, Schmitz said, “If your experience with the ‘Bible in a year’ was it took your life and started moving it and started bringing you closer and closer to the Lord, the ‘Catechism in a Year,’ I’m telling you, is going to put your prayer life and your relationship with the Lord into hyperdrive.”

In preparation for “Catechism in a Year,” Ascension will publish a new version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church so that podcast listeners can follow along.

The podcast’s webpage says, “If you have ever wanted to understand what it means to be Catholic and allow those truths to shape your life — this podcast is for you!” The page also includes a list of the goals of the podcast.

Ascension also includes some resources for keeping up to date with the “Catechism in a Year” news, including a Facebook group that listeners can join while awaiting the January launch.

Schmitz is the director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Duluth as well as the chaplain for the Newman Center at the University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD). Fr. Mike attended St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, and was ordained for the Diocese of Duluth in 2003.

Here are 11 American saints to remember on July Fourth

Photo illustration. / Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 2, 2022 / 08:38 am (CNA).

Americans celebrate their country’s independence on July 4th — as well as the people who formed the United States into the country that it is today. Those include American saints.

The U.S. bishops count a total of 11 American saints who dedicated their lives to God and those in need in this country. Here are their stories.

1. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, 1774-1821

Seton became the first American-born saint in 1975. Born in New York City, she married the love of her life at 19 and welcomed five children. She endured much suffering: Her husband William died of tuberculosis after facing financial trouble. Two years later, Seton converted to Catholicism and went on to found the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph — the first order of religious women in the U.S. She founded several schools, including the first free U.S. Catholic school. Today, she is considered the founder of the U.S. Catholic School system.

Her feast day is Jan. 4.

Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821), the first native born United States citizen to be canonized, circa 1810s. Shutterstock
Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821), the first native born United States citizen to be canonized, circa 1810s. Shutterstock

2. St. John Neumann, 1811-1860

Neumann is the first male U.S. citizen to become a saint. Originally from Bohemia, known today as the Czech Republic, he traveled to New York City to be ordained a priest. At the time, he was one of only 36 priests serving 200,000 Catholics in the New York area. He joined the Redemptorists at age 29 and became the first member to profess vows in the U.S. Neumann served as a missionary and, later, as the fourth bishop of Philadelphia. He founded the first diocesan Catholic school system in the United States, which grew from two to 100 under his care. He was canonized in 1977.

His feast day is Jan. 5.

3. St. Kateri Tekakwitha, 1656-1680

Tekakwitha, also known as the “Lily of the Mohawks,” became the first Native American saint in 2012. She was raised in Auriesville, New York, by her uncle, a Mohawk chief, after her parents died from a smallpox epidemic. After encountering Jesuit priests in her village, she converted to Catholicism at 19. Her relatives and the village attempted to punish her for her beliefs. She later ran away to Montreal, Canada, where she could practice her faith and live out her life as a consecrated virgin.

Her feast day is July 14.

Statue of St. Kateri Tekakwitha with lily. Shutterstock
Statue of St. Kateri Tekakwitha with lily. Shutterstock

4. St. Katharine Drexel, 1858-1955

A Philadelphia heiress raised by devout parents, Drexel dedicated her wealth and her life to serving Native Americans and African Americans. She founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People. Her work included starting schools in 13 states for African Americans, as well as 40 mission centers and 23 rural schools. She also established 50 missions for Native Americans. Together with her order, she founded New Orleans' Xavier University, the only historically black U.S. Catholic college. She became a saint in 2000.

Her feast day is March 3.

5. St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, 1769-1852

Duchesne served as a missionary to Native Americans. Born in France, she joined the Visitation nuns at 19 before being forced to leave during the French Revolution. Ten years later, she joined the Society of the Sacred Heart. She came to America in 1818, when she traveled to the Louisiana Territory to minister to Native Americans. She later started the first free school for girls west of the Mississippi River and the first Catholic school for Native Americans. She became a saint in 1988.

Her feast day is Nov. 18.

6. St. Isaac Jogues, 1607-1646

A Jesuit priest from France, Jogues served as a missionary to the Indians in “New France” and became one of the North American martyrs. When he and his companions traveled to Iroquois country in 1641, they were tortured and imprisoned by the Mohawks. He survived and even baptized some of the Native Americans before he escaped back to France. But he felt called to return, even though he knew he might not survive a second time. He was killed with a tomahawk in Auriesville, New York. He became a saint in 1930.

His feast day is Oct. 19.

7. St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, 1850-1917

A missionary from Italy, Cabrini founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. When she first traveled to New York City, she discovered that the house she had planned to turn into an orphanage was unavailable. When the archbishop advised her to return to Italy, she refused. Instead, she founded orphanages, hospitals, convents, and schools, many of which served Italian immigrants. She became the first U.S. citizen to be canonized a saint in 1946.

Her feast day is Nov. 13.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (public domain).
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (public domain).

8. St. Théodore Guérin, 1798-1856

A missionary from France, Guérin founded the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. At 25, she first joined the Sisters of Providence of Ruillé-sur-Loir before leading a group of sisters to Indiana in 1840. There, she opened a convent and the first girls’ boarding school in that state. Even as her health failed her, she continued to open schools throughout Indiana and Illinois while facing anti-Catholic sentiment. She became a saint in 2006.

Her feast day is Oct. 3.

9. St. Damien de Veuster of Molokai, 1840-1889

Originally from Belgium, St. Damien dedicated his life as a missionary to those with leprosy in Molokai, Hawaii. At 19, he joined the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. He then volunteered to serve those with leprosy who were quarantined on the island of Molokai. He spent his time building schools, churches, and hospitals. After contracting and dying from leprosy himself, he became a saint in 2009.

His feast day is May 10.

10. St. Marianne Cope, 1838-1918

Born in Germany, Cope joined the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis in Syracuse, New York, before serving multiple times as the novice mistress of her congregation and the superior of St. Joseph's Hospital. She later offered to go to Hawaii to serve those with leprosy. The Franciscan Sisters of Syracuse, led by Cope, joined St. Damien in Molokai. A former teacher and principal, Cope focused on education. She also brought joy and inspired the women there by gifting them with bright scarves and dresses. She became a saint in 2012.

Her feast day is Jan. 23.

11. St. Junípero Serra, 1713-1784

Serra served as the founder of the Spanish missions in California. Originally from Spain, he joined the Franciscans before becoming a missionary. He served those in Mexico before going to California, where he founded nine of the 21 Spanish missions and taught the Native Americans various trades. He became the first saint canonized on U.S. soil in 2015.

His feast day is July 1.

Lalo Garcia's painting of Saint Junípero Serra is featured in the '250 Years of Mission' exhibit. Lalo Garcia.
Lalo Garcia's painting of Saint Junípero Serra is featured in the '250 Years of Mission' exhibit. Lalo Garcia.

With Roe v Wade a dead letter, Biden rallies governors to promote abortion access

President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the White House, Sept. 9, 2021 /

Denver Newsroom, Jul 1, 2022 / 17:11 pm (CNA).

In the wake of a Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, President Joe Biden met with a group of Democratic governors on Friday to discuss how to increase access to abortion and to codify abortion rights at the federal level. 

Various governors backed pro-abortion amendments to state constitutions, state funding for abortion, and using federal facilities and supportive Native American lands as possible venues for providing abortions.

Biden himself called the 6-3 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision a “terrible,  extreme decision” and a “tragic reversal” of Roe v. Wade.  It would upend lives and impact “the health and safety of millions of women,” he said to the portion of a July 1 videoconference open to the press.

“I share the public outrage that this extremist court is committed to moving America backwards, with fewer rights, less autonomy and politicians invading the most personal decisions not only of women, but, you’ll find, if they expand on this decision, men as well.” said Biden. “This is not over.”

Biden now backs abortion despite being a professed Catholic. He is the second Catholic to become U.S. president.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops welcomed the Dobbs decision.

“America was founded on the truth that all men and women are created equal, with God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” conference president Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles and pro-life committee chair Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said in a joint statement. 

After the U.S. Supreme Court mandated legalized abortion nationwide in 1973, more than 60 million abortions took place. 

Nine Democratic governors joined President Biden for the videoconference: Kathy Hochul of New York, Roy Cooper of North Carolina, Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, Jared Polis of Colorado, Ned Lamont of Massachusetts, J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, Jay Inslee of Washington, Kate Brown of Oregon, and Dan McKee of Rhode Island.

Biden recounted his administration’s actions last week. The administration would seek to protect women traveling interstate to seek an abortion if state governments intervene, though no legislatures have passed such laws. The Biden administration will also intervene if FDA-approved medication is blocked at the state level. He also called for more funding for family planning, clarifying, “not for abortion but family planning.”

The president said he believes states which restrict abortion are preparing “unlawful actions.”

Though Biden backs what he says is a “codification” of the Roe v. Wade decision by Congress, he noted there are not enough votes to change the filibuster rules. Abortion backers need “two more votes” in the Senate, he said, claiming that Republicans will “try to ban abortions nationwide” if they take control of Congress in November.

Hochul told the conference that she is seeing “a lot of fear and anxiety” from women who support abortion.

“This is frightening time for women all across our nation, a lot of fear and anxiety out there,” she said. In her view, abortion access is “a matter of life and death” for women, saying that illegal abortions are “unsafe.”

The New York governor said she has expanded an extraordinary session of the state legislature from its focus on gun legislation. It will now add what Hochul characterized as “further protections for women in our state,” including an “equality agenda” that bars discrimination “on pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes.”

She also aims to “enshrine abortion rights in our constitution” and to establish New York as a “safe harbor” for abortion seekers.

Hochul called on Biden to use federal facilities to help provide abortions in states “hostile to abortion rights.” She suggested using veterans hospitals, military facilities, and other places under control of the federal government. 

It is unclear whether such federal assistance would be legal. The Hyde Amendment bars most federal funding for abortion. 

Hochul also said the federal government should try to protect abortion seekers and doctors from “vigilante justice” and “private rights of action.” 

A Texas law allowed private lawsuits against those who perform or help procure illegal abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detectible. Lawmakers added this ability in part because local pro-abortion authorities might decline to enforce the law. The Texas law explicitly bars lawsuits against a pregnant woman seeking an abortion.  

Cooper, chair of the Democratic Governors Association, characterized governors as the “last line of defense” for legal abortion. He said Planned Parenthood officials in North Carolina have told him they expect about 10,000 women seeking abortions from out of state in the next year.

“We are not backing down. We are ready to do what is needed to protect women’s health,” he said, using a common euphemism for abortion.

Lujan Grisham of New Mexico cited the state legislature’s recent repeal of a law criminalizing abortion. The state has also increased funding for family planning and “abortion care services.” Her executive order will reject any cooperation with states investigating violations of their abortion laws, including investigations or extraditions. 

She suggested that Native American lands could be venues for abortion clinics. 

“Our Indian Health Service clinics could be another effective vehicle” for providing abortions, she said, referring to a service under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The governor said that she has received outreach from “sovereign nations” which she thinks would be “very supportive and interested.”

President Biden said his administration is “looking at all alternatives, including the sovereign nation question.”

He also suggested Americans will back legal abortion, saying, “I think the American people are with us.”

Surveys about abortion give different answers depending on what is asked. Earlier this year, amid controversy over the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision draft leak, self-described pro-life survey respondents dipped to about 40%, according to Gallup. Other surveys indicate that while respondents say they support Roe v. Wade, they also support abortion restrictions which that precedent had barred, and even support returning questions about legal abortion to the state level. 

“I think people are going to be shocked when the first state that tries to arrest a woman for crossing a state line to get health services,” Biden said Friday, adding that such a move would show that ending Roe “affects all your basic rights.”

He told the governors that the Dobbs decision means “if you’ve got an 11-year-old child who’s a victim of incest who finds herself pregnant, she can’t get a choice. Her health can’t be protected if you’re raped and there’s no exceptions,” he said. He argued many people haven’t focused on these details beyond “the fundamental right of a women to be able to choose.”

The most recent proposal promising to codify Roe goes far beyond the original decision. The Women’s Health Protection Act, defeated in May by a 49-51 U.S. Senate vote, is an expansive abortion bill that would declare abortion a human right, undercut existing state pro-life laws, and force objecting doctors to perform abortions.

Biden had a record sceptical of legal abortion before becoming a strong backer of abortion causes.

Soon after Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, Biden said he thought the decision went “too far.” In his early career as a U.S. Senator from Delaware he voted for restrictions on federal funding for abortion. In a 1982 committee vote he supported a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Sister Simone Campbell to be among Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients

Sister Simone Campbell. / Bruce Cooper (edit) Thomas Good (photo)/wikimedia. CC BY SA 4.0

Denver Newsroom, Jul 1, 2022 / 16:45 pm (CNA).

Sister Simone Campbell, former executive director of the Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom July 7 at the White House.

The White House announced 17 recipients of the United States’ highest civilian honor on July 1.

“President Biden has long said that America can be defined by one word: possibilities. These seventeen Americans demonstrate the power of possibilities and embody the soul of the nation – hard work, perseverance, and faith,” read a statement from the White House.

“They have overcome significant obstacles to achieve impressive accomplishments in the arts and sciences, dedicated their lives to advocating for the most vulnerable among us, and acted with bravery to drive change in their communities – and across the world – while blazing trails for generations to come.”

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is “presented to individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavors,” the statement said.

Campbell is a member, and former general director, of the Sisters of Social Service. She has been a leading figure within the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

The White House described her as “a prominent advocate for economic justice, immigration reform, and healthcare policy.”

She received a law degree from the University of California-Davis School of Law in 1977.

Campbell was a prominent advocate for the Affordable Care Act.

During a January 2021 panel discussion hosted by the National Catholic Reporter, Campbell said that Biden “has a very developed approach” to abortion. “And for him, it hinges on religious liberty, and that he will not force his religious belief on the whole nation.”

Biden, the second Catholic president, has had unwavering support for abortion rights as president, and has refused to say if he supports any restrictions on the procedure.

Campbell offered a prayer at the Democratic National Convention in 2020. Asked by CNA that August whether the Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice opposes legal abortion, Campbell replied, “That is not our issue. That is not it. It is above my pay grade.” 

“It’s not the issue that we work on. I’m a lawyer. I would have to study it more intensely than I have,” Campbell said.

"Our agenda is the economic justice issues," she told CNA at the time. "As the issues of economic justice mean, as Pope Francis talks about so often, the capacity for families to be able to support themselves, to be able to have a roof on their head."

"We don't focus on reproductive rights, we focus on trying to ensure life for everyone. As Pope Francis says 'equally sacred is the care for the born'," Campbell said.

Campbell was referring to Pope Francis' 2018 apostolic exhortation Gaudete et exsultate, in which the pope stated: "Our defense of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development."

The pope added that the lives of the poor, the destitute, the abandoned, the infirm, the elderly, and others are "equally sacred."

According to CNA's review of foundation grants to Network Lobby, a review which had not accounted for a majority of the group's funds, the organization had taken grants from major funders who also focus on abortion rights.

Campbell told CNA in 2020 that it is not Network Lobby's mission to be "in the fight for Roe v. Wade," the Supreme Court decision that mandated legal abortion nationwide. While she agreed that the dignity of life is inviolable from conception, she added, "I'm so tired. How long have we fought over Roe v. Wade?"

Roe was overturned last week by a 6-3 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

Campbell told CNA in August 2020, "Our economic agenda is to ensure that everyone can flourish, that all life can flourish, and that we can care for our earth. Our niche is economic justice."

Campbell rejected any suggestion her approach might undermine efforts to secure legal protections for the unborn.

"We work for the Pregnant Women Support Act, funding for prenatal care, women's infants and children funding, making sure pregnant women get the care that they need," she said. She said there is crossover in ensuring health care for pregnant women, adequate nutrition, and adequate housing capacity "to carry the fetus to term."

She said Network Lobby cannot expand its work on abortion "because it doesn't fit in economic justice, which is our mission."

"The thing that's so painful for me is the view that only one issue, as important as it is, defines all of Catholicity," she said.

During a 2016 interview with Democracy Now, Campbell had said that "From my perspective, I don't think it's a good policy to outlaw abortion."

Among the the recipients next week of the Presidential Medal of Honor are also Father Alexander Karloutsos, a former vicar general of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; Khzir Khan, a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom from  August 2021 until May 2022; Megan Rapinoe, a soccer player and LGBTQI+ rights advocate; Alan Simpson, a former U.S. Senator from Wyoming and an advocate for same-sex marriage and abortion rights; Simone Biles; Gabrielle Giffords; Steve Jobs; John McCain; and Denzel Washington.

Suspected arson causes $1M in damage to Catholic school in Ohio

Fire rips through a building containing the cafeteria and gymnasium of St. Anthony of Padua School in Lorain, Ohio, on June 30, 2022. An arson investigation is underway. / Screenshot from Ohio Commerce Department YouTube video

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 1, 2022 / 16:38 pm (CNA).

A building on the grounds of a Catholic school in northern Ohio sustained an estimated $1 million in damage from a fire Thursday. An arson investigation is underway, authorities said.

The fire, which started outside the building, caused heavy smoke and structural damage to the cafeteria and gymnasium of St. Anthony of Padua School in Lorain, a community on the coast of Lake Erie, Jeff Fenn, assistant chief at the Lorain Fire Department, told CNA Friday. 

Fenn estimated the damage at $1 million. He said the nearby parish church was not damaged.

Heat from the fire caused windows to “pop” which allowed smoke to fill the whole gymnasium and cafeteria, Fenn said. The fire caused smoke and structural damage, he said.

Fenn told CNA he was baptized and received First Holy Communion at the parish.

“It’s close to my heart,” he said.

A tweet from the Ohio Department of Commerce says that “A $5,000 reward is available for information leading to the conviction of the person(s) responsible for this arson fire at St. Anthony of Padua School in Lorain.” 

Anyone with information about the arson is directed to call the Ohio Fire Marshall’s tip line at 800-589-2728.

A Facebook post from St. Anthony of Padua parish Catholic school and pre-school said, “There was a fire on campus very early this morning. Thankfully no one was hurt! It was an outside fire to the Social Hall & Gym. The fire was put out by the quick action of the Lorain Fire Department. An investigation is underway. Thank you for keeping us in your prayers!”

A follow-up post Thursday asked for continued prayers. 

It’s not clear if the fire is connected to pro-abortion violence directed at Catholic churches and pro-life organizations across the U.S.

U.S. bishops disappointed by Supreme Court's climate regulation ruling

Kodda / Shutterstock.

Denver Newsroom, Jul 1, 2022 / 14:45 pm (CNA).

The U.S. bishops said Friday they are disappointed by a Supreme Court ruling which limits the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

“The Catholic bishops of the United States have long-supported the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases in order to address climate change,” read a July 1 statement from Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, chair of the U.S. bishops’ domestic justice committee.

“We are, therefore, disappointed today that following the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act the EPA will have significantly restricted authority to regulate greenhouse gases from power plants.”

In its 6-3 decision in West Virginia v. EPA on June 30, the court ruled that the Clean Air Act does not explicitly give the EPA wide-ranging power to regulate the entire energy industry.

“A decision of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. 

The EPA’s regulations, he said, were an example of “agencies asserting highly consequential power beyond what Congress could reasonably be understood to have granted.”

Coakley wrote that “both reasonable regulation and legislation are critical for addressing the threat and challenges of climate change. We call upon Congress to give the EPA the necessary authority to meaningfully regulate greenhouse gases.”

He quoted a 2018 memo from the U.S. bishops’ office of general counsel to the administrator of the EPA urging that the agency has “both the statutory authority and responsibility to take regulatory action… It is hard to foresee a scenario, under current economic and technological conditions, in which the EPA faithfully carries out its mandate to protect the public health from greenhouse gases without significantly affecting political and economic realities.”

Laudato si’, Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on care for our common home, covered a wide range of topics in relation to the environment – from climate change, species extinction, and resource depletion, to waste, economic structures, and global inequality.

The encyclical praised St. Francis of Assisi for living out an "integral ecology" with joy and authenticity.

NY AG asks Google to remove pregnancy centers from ‘abortion’ search results

New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks to the media on May 26, 2022, in New York City. / Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 1, 2022 / 12:58 pm (CNA).

New York’s attorney general office sent Google a letter Tuesday requesting that the company remove pro-life pregnancy centers from search results for abortion services.

“A search through Google Maps seeking ‘abortion’ and a location will provide a local listing of both those health care providers who offer abortion services and organizations that do not provide abortion care,” wrote Darsana Srinivasan, chief of the health care bureau in the attorney general's office.

Nearly 3,000 U.S. pregnancy centers provide “​​essential medical, education and support services” to millions every year at little to no cost, according to the Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI), the research arm of SBA Pro-Life America. Thousands of licensed medical workers serve these centers, according to CLI.

But in her letter, Srinivasan maintained that crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) are not health care providers and will not help women with abortion.

“CPCs exist solely to intercept and dissuade pregnant people from making fully informed decisions about their healthcare such as the choice to obtain an abortion,” she claimed. “Including these organizations in a list for an individual seeking abortion services is dangerous and misleading.” 

Abortion activists have targeted many of these centers in anticipation of and following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide in 1973.

Srinivasan complained that a Google Maps search for “abortion Binghamton, NY” lists pregnancy centers such as Life Choices Center and Women’s Life Services “along with legitimate health care providers who offer abortion and abortion counseling.” 

She concluded: “With the expectation that New York will be seeing an increasing number of pregnant people from out of state seeking abortion services in our state—often traveling here at great financial cost and inconvenience — it is imperative that pregnant people are receiving accurate information.”

New York’s Democratic attorney general, Letitia James, added to the letter in a Wednesday release.

“New Yorkers, and others traveling to the state, should trust that Google Maps will provide accurate information and direct them to real and safe care,” she said. “My office will do whatever is necessary to work with Google to make these changes and ensure that people can locate the reproductive health care facilities that they need.”

Google, Life Choices Center, and Women’s Life Services did not respond to requests for comment by time of publication.

Nashville pregnancy center attacked, FBI joins investigation

null / Carl Ballou / Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 1, 2022 / 12:30 pm (CNA).

The FBI and Metropolitan Nashville Police are investigating an attempted arson of a pro-life pregnancy center in Nashville, Tennessee, that was attacked and had the words “Janes Revenge” written on the side at around 1:30 a.m. Thursday morning. 

Nashville Police said that Midtown Hills Precinct officers discovered a smashed window with “an unignited Molotov cocktail-type device” inside the building when they arrived at the scene at Hope Clinic for Women around 1:40 a.m. The device is being analyzed in a lab, police said.

Police said the attack on the center is the first vandalism in Nashville related to the June 24 U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. Police said they are working with the clinic to heighten security measures.

Kailey Cornett, executive director and CEO of Hope Clinic for Women, told CNA Friday that the window has been replaced and the graffiti cleaned off. 

“We’re all back in shape,” she said. 

Cornett said her team is resilient and very grateful for an influx of prayers and support after the news of the vandalism. 

“We are here to do what we’re called to do and that's to serve women,” she said. “We were able to rally around each other and support each other yesterday but I think that we're ready to get back to providing care today."

The incident is part of a surge of attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers and Catholic churches reported since the court’s decision returned abortion regulation to the states. CNA is tracking the incidents using the interactive map below.

The FBI said in June that it is investigating the series of attacks and threats against pro-life pregnancy centers and faith-based organizations across the nation.

Graffiti spelling out “Jane's Revenge” is commonly used in these vandalism incidents. It remains unclear if Jane’s Revenge is an organized group or merely a slogan. 

FBI probe could help prosecute Louisiana priests accused of inter-state sex abuse

St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans. / travelview/Shutterstock.

Denver Newsroom, Jul 1, 2022 / 12:04 pm (CNA).

Federal authorities are investigating alleged sex abuse of minors by New Orleans-area Catholic clergy, sometimes going back decades, on the grounds that the accused men could have violated a federal anti-sex trafficking law by crossing state lines. The investigation could provide another means for abuse victims to make their case against their abusers, and possibly file sex abuse lawsuits against Catholic dioceses and other organizations.

The FBI is probing whether accused priests can be prosecuted under various charges including the Mann Act, which bars taking anyone across state lines for illicit sex. Though some criminal claims may date back to the 1970s, the Mann Act has no statute of limitations. The Louisiana State Police is aiding the inquiry.

Federal prosecutors have used the Mann Act to help convict Ghislaine Maxwell, a leading figure in the Jeffrey Epstein sex abuse ring, and music star R. Kelly. In 2013, a Baptist pastor was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison for taking a 16-year-old girl across state lines for illicit purposes.

Federal authorities have interviewed more than a dozen alleged victims this year, the Associated Press reports. Some of the victims allege they were abused by a New Orleans-based priest on trips to Mississippi camps or Texas and Florida amusement parks. 

A former altar boy told the AP his abuse began in the 1970s when his accuser allegedly sexually abused him on trips to Colorado and Florida. 

The probe also involves allegations against former New Orleans priest Lawrence Hecker, now 90. Hecker was removed from ministry in 2002 after alleged abuse ranging in nature from fondling to rape. He allegedly abused children decades ago on out-of-state trips. He was dismissed from the clerical state in 2018. 

Richard Trahant, an attorney for Hecker’s alleged victims, in a court filing alleged that the records under the confidentiality order will reveal that the last four archbishops of New Orleans knew Hecker was a serial sexual abuser of children. 

The archdiocese list, however, said it first received an allegation against Hecker in 1996. Though attorneys have claimed that Archbishop Philip Hannan was aware of Hecker’s abuse, Hannan left office in 1988, reported in 2020.

The federal probe could pave the way for further revelations and further lawsuits against the New Orleans archdiocese.

In May 2020, the Archdiocese of New Orleans announced that it was filing for bankruptcy. Survivors who filed claims against the archdiocese in bankruptcy courts by the March 1, 2021 deadline would not be able to sue in state courts. The archdiocese faced about 400 sex abuse claims in bankruptcy court and these were a major motive for the bankruptcy effort. 

Victims could still sue their alleged abusers who operated in religious orders or lay ministries, the New Orleans Advocate reported.

Bankruptcy proceedings have sealed Church documents that were produced by lawsuits with a confidentiality order. Critics say the records document years of abuse claims, interviews with clergy accused of abuse, and a pattern of Church leaders reassigning accused clergy without reporting their alleged crimes to law enforcement.

The archdiocese in 2018 published a list naming 57 “credibly accused” clergy. Six more names were later added to the list. An Associated Press analysis faulted the initial list, arguing that it undercounted by at least 20.

Peter G. Strasser, a former U.S. attorney in New Orleans, declined to bring charges. He told the Associated Press he had “naively” thought federal charges could be possible but faced many obstacles, including the complexities of “putting the church on trial” for conspiracy and other charges.

“The issue has always been determining what is the federal crime,” he said.

Revelations of the extent of clergy sex abuse began in 2002, causing much scandal and pain but also efforts to strengthen support for victims, child protection programs, abuse reporting methods, and disciplinary action against abusive clergy and their superiors.

The U.S. bishops’ annual report on Findings and Recommendations on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, released in November 2021, said there were fewer than 24 new allegations of recent abuse by clergy.

However, over 4,200 new allegations of historic abuse were reported in the report’s one-year coverage period. 

Statistical graphs of the dates of reported abuse incidents continue to show that the numbers of alleged clergy abuse incidents peaked in the 1970s. Lawsuits from historic abuse have cost the Catholic Church in the U.S. hundreds of millions of dollars.

In 2021, the Louisiana legislature passed a law creating a three-year “lookback” window for survivors of child sex abuse to file lawsuits against their alleged abuser, even when the statute of limitations would normally impede such lawsuits.

At the time, the victim’s 28th birthday was the deadline for child sex abuse lawsuits

The archdiocese told CNA in October 2020 that it had been seeking to dismiss from the clerical state priests who had been removed from ministry over accusations of child sex abuse, in the wake of the 2018 report. Under canon law, dioceses are obligated to provide for the needs of priests removed from ministry, such as for housing and health care. They are not obliged to provide for the needs of priests who have been dismissed from the clerical state.

Attacks on churches, pro-life pregnancy centers continue 

Grafitti on a sign for All Saints Catholic Church in Portland, Oregon, June 25, 2022. / All Saints Catholic Church

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 30, 2022 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

Since the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision on Friday, attacks on Catholic churches and pro-life pregnancy centers have been reported in West Virginia, Washington, Virginia, Louisiana, Colorado, California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Indiana. 

Below are the latest recorded attacks since the decision.

St. Patrick Catholic Church in Philadelphia was defaced with pro-abortion spray paint June 25.

Father Hyacinth Cordell, O.P., pastor of the church, told CNA that the graffiti, which said "Abort the church," was on a corner on the outside of the church. It is cleaned off, he said.

Vandalism at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Philadelphia, June 25, 2022. Fr. Hyacinth Cordell, OP
Vandalism at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Philadelphia, June 25, 2022. Fr. Hyacinth Cordell, OP

A pro-life sign at St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church in Hutchinson, Kansas, about 50 miles northwest of Wichita, was vandalized over the weekend.

The sign which shows a mother holding a baby says “Vote Yes August 2nd” and “” below. The sign is encouraging people to vote yes on an amendment to the state constitution that would allow regulations on abortion. 

Matt Vainer, a spokesperson for the Diocese of Wichita, said that the perpetrator was followed by a witness who called the police. The perpetrator was arrested, he said. 

The pastor of St. Teresa of Avila, Fr. Aaron Spexarth, placed the sign underneath a crucifix in the church, as he believed it was most appropriate to place it at Christ’s feet, Vainer confirmed to CNA.

All Saints Catholic Church in Portland, Oregon had its sign defaced with pro-abortion graffiti June 25.

A photo of the vandalism shows the words “If abortions aren’t safe, neither are you! -XOXO Jane.” The FBI is investigating, Barbara Custer, a parish secretary at the church, told CNA.

A Woman's Friend Pregnancy Resource Clinic in Yuba City, California was vandalized June 27.

The clinic had one of its windows smashed by what seems to be one perpetrator according to video footage, the clinic’s executive director Kristen Bird told CNA. 

Video shows the perpetrator throwing three rocks at the window until it broke. Repairs will cost anywhere between $700 and $900. The FBI is investigating, Bird said. 

A window was smashed with a rock at A Woman's Friend Pregnancy Resource Clinic in Yuba City, California, June 27, 2022. A Woman's Friend Pregnancy Resource Clinic
A window was smashed with a rock at A Woman's Friend Pregnancy Resource Clinic in Yuba City, California, June 27, 2022. A Woman's Friend Pregnancy Resource Clinic

The mobile clinic of Options Health, a pregnancy center in Concord, California, was vandalized June 25, Blayne Wittig, the clinic’s Executive Director told CNA.

The Pregnancy Resource Center of Salt Lake City was vandalized June 24, within hours of the release of the Dobbs decision.

A receptionist at the clinic told CNA June 30 that a sign was taped to the front door that read “If abortions aren’t safe neither are you,” and on the backside, “Women are fragile, not like a flower, but more like a bomb.”

Stickers were left on the building, one of which that said “Jesus loves abortion” with a heart shape replacing the word “love.” Stickers were placed around that one which said “abortion forever” and “abortion is healthcare.”