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India’s Catholic bishops urged to highlight anti-Christian violence

Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay and President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA

Mumbai, India, Jan 24, 2022 / 08:35 am (CNA).

A Catholic group has urged India’s bishops to highlight recent attacks on the country’s Christians.

In a letter dated Jan. 10, members of the Forum for Justice and Peace claimed that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) had responded to rising anti-Christian violence with “complete silence.”

“During the two days Dec. 24-25, the media reported seven well-planned attacks on Christian institutions across the country,” they wrote.

“In fact, in the year 2021, there were 486 incidents of violence against the Christian community in India, according to the United Christian Front. What shocks us is the complete silence on the part of the official Church, the CBCI.”

The letter was addressed to Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the president of the CBCI and a member of Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinal Advisers.

India, the world’s second-most populous country after China, is ranked as the 10th worst country in the world in which to be a Christian by the advocacy group Open Doors.

According to a 2011 census, 79.8% of India’s 1.38 billion population is Hindu, 14.2% Muslim, and 2.3% Christian.

The country has the second-largest Catholic population in Asia after the Philippines. There are around 20 million Catholics in India, comprising Latin Rite Catholics as well as members of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church and the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.

A report published by three civil rights groups in October 2021 concluded that Christians faced persecution in 21 of the country’s 28 states.

The Forum for Justice and Peace, whose members belong to Catholic religious communities, connected violence against Christians to attacks on Muslims, India’s largest minority community.

“We request you to guide the Catholic community in India to respond to the increasing hate speech and violence against Muslims and Christians,” they wrote.

“When Muslims were lynched by the right-wing groups, the Church in India remained silent. Now, these groups have intensified their attacks on Christians.”

“We are of the view that we Catholics cannot remain silent spectators when the drama of violent attacks against the minorities is unfolding before us. We need to act and fulfill our prophetic role before it is too late.”

The letter was signed by Father Antony F. Thekkiniyath, O.F.M. Cap., and Sister Dorothy Fernandes, P.B.V.M., respectively the national secretary and national convenor of the Forum for Justice and Peace.

The authors asked Gracias, archbishop of Bombay since 2006, to adopt a seven-point plan to help persecuted Indian Christians.

The proposals included writing to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who invited the pope to India in October, urging him to order local leaders “to prevent such atrocities in future and to bring to book the culprits who are involved in these crimes.”

They also called for the swift denunciation of acts of anti-Christian violence by the bishops’ conference, a day of public fasting, and protest rallies.

“The violent acts against the Christian community and Muslim community or any other minority group are in complete violation of the law of the land and the Indian constitution,” the letter said.

“If we do not respond to such acts, the secular fabric of India will be lost, causing irreparable damage to the people of India, and an inclusive, democratic and pluralistic India as envisioned in the preamble of the Indian constitution could be lost forever.”

Catholic bishops of Ukraine and Poland say Russia tensions pose ‘great danger’

Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, with Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, president of the Polish bishops’ conference. / episkopat.pl.

Kyiv, Ukraine, Jan 24, 2022 / 06:05 am (CNA).

Catholic bishops in Ukraine and Poland said on Monday that rising tensions with Russia pose “a great danger” to the whole of Europe.

In a joint message on Jan. 24, Church leaders appealed to governments to “refrain from hostilities” in Ukraine, Europe’s second-largest country by area after Russia.

“The current situation represents a great danger for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the entire European continent, which may destroy the progress made so far by many generations in building a peaceful order and unity in Europe,” said the appeal signed by Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, and Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, president of the Polish bishops’ conference, among others.

The bishops issued their message the day after Pope Francis announced that Jan. 26 will be a day of prayer for peace in the Eastern European country.

“I am following with concern the increase of tensions that threaten to inflict a new blow to the peace in Ukraine, and call into question the security of the European continent, with wider repercussions,” the pope said after his Sunday Angelus address on Jan. 23.

Ukraine, which has a population of 44 million people, borders Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Belarus, and Russia.

The Russo-Ukrainian War began in February 2014, focused on the east of Ukraine. The conflict has claimed more than 14,000 lives and driven 1.3 million people from their homes, according to Caritas Internationalis, a Vatican-based confederation of Catholic charities raising funds for those affected.

The warring parties agreed to a cease-fire in July 2020. But Russia has sent an estimated 100,000 troops to the Ukrainian border. U.S. President Joe Biden said on Jan. 19 that he expected Russian President Vladimir Putin to order an invasion.

The U.S. State Department said on Jan. 23 that it had ordered the departure of family members of U.S. government employees at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv.

The Ukrainian and Polish bishops lamented the lack of progress in talks between Western countries and Russia.

“In their speeches, the leaders of many countries point to Russia’s increasing pressure on Ukraine, as massive armaments and troops are gathered on its border. The occupation of Donbas and Crimea has shown that the Russian Federation — in its violation of Ukraine’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity — disregards the binding rules of international law,” they said.

Europe’s Catholic bishops expressed support for Ukraine last week.

“At this extremely delicate time, we ask Christians to pray for the gift of peace in Ukraine so that those responsible may be filled with, and radiate, a peace that is ‘contagious’ and that the crisis will be overcome exclusively through dialogue,” the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) said.

In their message, the bishops of Ukraine and Poland called for a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

They said: “Today, the quest for alternatives to war in resolving international conflicts has become an urgent necessity, since the terrifying power of the means of destruction are now in the hands of even medium and small powers, and the increasingly strong ties existing between the peoples of the whole earth make it difficult, if not practically impossible, to limit the effects of any conflict.”

“Therefore, drawing on the experience of previous generations, we call upon those in power to refrain from hostilities. We encourage leaders to immediately withdraw from the path of ultimatums and the use of other countries as bargaining chips.”

“Differences in interests must be resolved not by the use of arms, but through agreements. The international community should unite in solidarity and actively support endangered society in all possible ways.”

Pope Francis: Global synodal path ‘a great opportunity to listen to one another’

Pope Francis listens to a boy called Emanuele at St. Paul of the Cross parish, Rome, on April 15, 2018. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Jan 24, 2022 / 04:18 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said on Monday that the two-year global consultation process leading to the Synod on Synodality is “a great opportunity” for Catholics to listen to one another.

Writing in his World Communications Day message, released on Jan. 24, the pope expressed concern that people were “losing the ability to listen,” both in the Church and wider public life.

“A synodal process has just been launched,” he wrote. “Let us pray that it will be a great opportunity to listen to one another.”

“Communion, in fact, is not the result of strategies and programs, but is built in mutual listening between brothers and sisters.”

Pope Francis formally invited the world’s Catholics last October to take part in a consultation process leading to the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 2023.

In his new message, entitled “Listening with the ear of the heart,” the pope reflected on biblical passages illustrating the importance of listening.

“Among the five senses, the one favored by God seems to be hearing, perhaps because it is less invasive, more discreet than sight, and therefore leaves the human being more free,” he wrote.

“Listening corresponds to the humble style of God. It is the action that allows God to reveal himself as the One who, by speaking, creates man and woman in his image, and by listening recognizes them as his partners in dialogue.”

The pope lamented what he described as an absence of listening in public discourse.

“The lack of listening, which we experience so often in daily life, is unfortunately also evident in public life, where, instead of listening to each other, we often ‘talk past one another,’” he observed.

“This is a symptom of the fact that, rather than seeking the true and the good, consensus is sought; rather than listening, one pays attention to the audience. Good communication, instead, does not try to impress the public with a soundbite, with the aim of ridiculing the other person, but pays attention to the reasons of the other person and tries to grasp the complexity of reality.”

“It is sad when, even in the Church, ideological alignments are formed and listening disappears, leaving sterile opposition in its wake.”

The pope signed the message on Jan. 24, the Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, patron of writers and journalists.

He urged members of the media to develop their listening capacities.

“Communication does not take place if listening has not taken place, and there is no good journalism without the ability to listen,” he said.

“In order to provide solid, balanced, and complete information, it is necessary to listen for a long time. To recount an event or describe an experience in news reporting, it is essential to know how to listen, to be ready to change one’s mind, to modify one’s initial assumptions.”

The pope suggested that listening to society was more critical than ever due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“So much previously accumulated mistrust towards ‘official information’ has also caused an ‘infodemic,’ within which the world of information is increasingly struggling to be credible and transparent,” he said.

He particularly encouraged journalists to tell the stories of migrants.

“Everyone would then be free to support the migration policies they deem most appropriate for their own country,” he wrote.

“But in any case, we would have before our eyes, not numbers, not dangerous invaders, but the faces and stories, gazes, expectations and sufferings of real men and women to listen to.”

Quoting the German Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed by the Nazis in 1945, the pope underlined that there was also a great need for listening in the Church.

He said: “It is the most precious and life-giving gift we can offer each other. ‘Christians have forgotten that the ministry of listening has been committed to them by him who is himself the great listener and whose work they should share. We should listen with the ears of God that we may speak the word of God.’”

World Communications Day, established by Pope Paul VI in 1967, will be celebrated this year on Sunday, May 29, the day that some countries will mark the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, transferred from the preceding Thursday.

The theme of this year’s commemoration, the 56th, is “Listen!”

Concluding his message, Pope Francis compared the Church to a choir.

“With the awareness that we participate in a communion that precedes and includes us, we can rediscover a symphonic Church, in which each person is able to sing with his or her own voice, welcoming the voices of others as a gift to manifest the harmony of the whole that the Holy Spirit composes,” he said.

Benedict XVI confirms he attended disputed 1980 meeting in Munich

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, pictured in summer 2017. / EWTN/Paul Badde.

Munich, Germany, Jan 24, 2022 / 03:38 am (CNA).

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI has apologized for mistakenly saying that he did not attend a disputed meeting in 1980 while serving as archbishop of Munich and Freising.

In a statement published in the German Catholic weekly Die Tagepost on Jan. 24, the 94-year-old retired pope said that the mistake was the result of an editing error, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.

Benedict XVI initially told investigators that he was not present at a meeting of archdiocesan officials on Jan. 15, 1980.

But in the statement, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Benedict XVI’s private secretary, said that the pope emeritus “would now like to make it clear that, contrary to what was stated during the hearing, he took part in the ordinariate meeting on Jan. 15, 1980.”

“The statement to the contrary was therefore objectively incorrect,” he said.

“He would like to emphasize that this was not done out of bad faith, but was the result of an error in the editing of his statement. He will explain how this came about in the pending statement. He is very sorry for this mistake and asks for this mistake to be excused.”

A more than 1,000-page report on the handling of abuse cases in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, issued on Jan. 20, accused the retired pope of mishandling four cases during his tenure as archbishop from 1977 to 1982.

Benedict XVI, who strongly denies cover-up allegations, sent 82 pages of observations to researchers compiling the report.

One of the four cases related to a priest named Father Peter Hullermann, who is accused of abusing at least 23 boys aged eight to 16 between 1973 and 1996.

The case was first highlighted by the media in 2010, when Benedict XVI was pope, and again earlier this month.

Attention has focused on an ordinariate meeting in 1980, in which the priest’s transfer from the Diocese of Essen to Munich archdiocese was discussed.

Gänswein noted in his statement to Die Tagespost that during the meeting it was agreed that the priest, who had admitted to sexually abusing children, should be provided with accommodation in Munich as he underwent therapy.

“Objectively correct, however, and documented by the files, is the statement that no decision was made in this meeting about a pastoral assignment of the priest in question,” he said.

“Rather, only the request to provide him with accommodation during his therapeutic treatment in Munich was granted.”

Hullermann was later permitted to serve without restrictions in a Munich parish. In 2010, former vicar general Msgr. Gerhard Gruber took “full responsibility” for the decision.

After leaving the Munich archdiocese in 1982, the future Benedict XVI served as prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith before his election as pope in 2005. He retired in 2013 and has since lived in relative seclusion at the Vatican.

The Munich report covered not only the period that the future Benedict XVI led the archdiocese, but also the tenures of Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, who succeeded him, and Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who has served as archbishop of Munich and Freising since 2007.

In addition to criticizing the future pope’s handling of four cases, investigators said that Wetter had mishandled 21 cases and Marx two cases.

Marx, a member of Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals, said that he was “shocked and ashamed” at the report’s findings.

The Munich archdiocese is expected to hold a press conference on Jan. 27 to address the study’s conclusions “after a first reading and examination.”

Gänswein’s statement said that Benedict XVI was continuing to read the extensive report by the Munich law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl.

“At present, he is carefully reading the statements made there, which fill him with shame and pain about the suffering inflicted on the victims,” he said.

“Even though he is endeavoring to read the report quickly, he asks for your understanding that it will take some time for him to read it in its entirety due to his age and health, but also because of its large volume. There will be a statement on the report.”

Pope Francis: The Word of God rekindles hope

Pope Francis conferred on Catholics the lay ministries of catechist and lector at a Mass for the Sunday of the Word of God on Jan. 23, 2022. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, Jan 23, 2022 / 15:10 pm (CNA).

On Word of God Sunday, Pope Francis reminded Christians that God speaks to them through scripture, filling them with hope and guiding their journey of faith.

“The word is at the center: it reveals God and leads us to man,” the pope said Jan. 23.

Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the fourth annual Sunday of the Word of God, during which he for the first time formally conferred upon lay Catholics the ministries of lector and catechist.

Pope Francis conferred on Catholics the lay ministries of catechist and lector at a Mass for the Sunday of the Word of God on Jan. 23, 2022. Vatican Media
Pope Francis conferred on Catholics the lay ministries of catechist and lector at a Mass for the Sunday of the Word of God on Jan. 23, 2022. Vatican Media

In his homily at Mass, Francis reflected on the “God of closeness” who guides us by his word.

God “wants to relieve the burdens that crush you, to warm your wintry coldness, to brighten your daily dreariness and to support your faltering steps,” the pope said. “This he does by his word, by the word he speaks to rekindle hope amid the ashes of your fears, to help you rediscover joy in the labyrinths of your sorrows, to fill with hope your feelings of solitude. He makes you move forward, not in a labyrinth, but on a daily journey to find him.”

Following the proclamation of the Gospel, the candidates for the ministries of catechist and lector were called by name, to which they responded: “Here I am.”

Pope Francis established the ministry of catechist as an instituted, vocational service within the Catholic Church last May.

The newly instituted ministry is for lay people who have a particular call to serve the Catholic Church as a teacher of the faith. The ministry lasts for the entirety of life, regardless of whether the person is actively carrying out that activity during every part of his or her life.

The pope changed Church law in January 2021 so that women can be formally instituted to the lay ministries of lector and acolyte.

A lector is a person who reads Scripture — other than the Gospel, which is only proclaimed by deacons and priests — to the congregation at Mass.

Pope Francis conferred on Catholics the lay ministries of catechist and lector at a Mass for the Sunday of the Word of God on Jan. 23, 2022. Vatican Media
Pope Francis conferred on Catholics the lay ministries of catechist and lector at a Mass for the Sunday of the Word of God on Jan. 23, 2022. Vatican Media

In his homily, Pope Francis noted that “in this celebration, some of our brothers and sisters will be instituted as lectors and catechists.”

“They are called to the important work of serving the Gospel of Jesus, of proclaiming him, so that his consolation, his joy and his liberation can reach everyone,” he said.

“That is also the mission of each one of us: to be credible messengers, prophets of God’s word in the world,” he continued.

Pope Francis conferred on Catholics the lay ministries of catechist and lector at a Mass for the Sunday of the Word of God on Jan. 23, 2022. Vatican Media
Pope Francis conferred on Catholics the lay ministries of catechist and lector at a Mass for the Sunday of the Word of God on Jan. 23, 2022. Vatican Media

He encouraged everyone to be passionate about sacred scripture, and to be willing to immerse themselves in the Word of God, which “reveals God’s newness and leads us tirelessly to love others.”

He also warned about the temptation to rigidity, which he called a perversion and an idol.

“Let us put the word of God at the center of the Church’s life and pastoral activity,” he urged. “In this way, we will be liberated from all rigid pelagianism, from all rigidity, set free from the illusion of a spirituality that puts you ‘in orbit,’ unconcerned about caring for our brothers and sisters. Let us put the word of God at the center of the Church’s life and pastoral activity. Let us listen to that word, pray with it, and put it into practice.”

After the homily, Pope Francis continued with the rite of conferral for the ministries of lector and catechist.

He began with the lectors, who knelt one-by-one before him to receive a Bible. Francis prayed over each one with the words: “Receive the book of holy scripture and faithfully transmit the Word of God, so that it may germinate and bear fruit in the hearts of men.”

Pope Francis conferred on Catholics the lay ministries of catechist and lector at a Mass for the Sunday of the Word of God on Jan. 23, 2022. Vatican Media
Pope Francis conferred on Catholics the lay ministries of catechist and lector at a Mass for the Sunday of the Word of God on Jan. 23, 2022. Vatican Media

Those being instituted as catechists also knelt before Pope Francis, who handed them each a silver crucifix, while saying: “Receive this sign of our faith, seat of the truth and charity of Christ: proclaim him by your life, actions and word.”

Two people from the Amazonian region in Peru were formally made catechists by the pope, along with other candidates from Brazil, Ghana, Poland, and Spain.

The ministry of lector was conferred on lay Catholics from South Korea, Pakistan, Ghana, and Italy.

Pope Francis declared the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time a special day for celebrating the Word of God when he issued the apostolic letter “Aperuit illis,” in 2019, on the 1,600th anniversary of the death of St. Jerome, who translated the Bible into Latin in the fourth century.

The Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization is the Vatican department responsible for promoting the Sunday of the Word of God.

Pope Francis conferred on Catholics the lay ministries of catechist and lector at a Mass for the Sunday of the Word of God on Jan. 23, 2022. Vatican Media
Pope Francis conferred on Catholics the lay ministries of catechist and lector at a Mass for the Sunday of the Word of God on Jan. 23, 2022. Vatican Media

Out of concern for the continued spread of COVID-19, around 2,000 people attended the papal Mass, a small percentage of the basilica’s total seating capacity.

Everyone who attended received a book with commentary from the Fathers of the Church on the fourth and fifth chapters of the Gospel of Saint Luke.

Pope Francis calls for day of prayer for Ukraine

Pope Francis gives the Angelus address on Jan. 23, 2022 / Vatican Media

Vatican City, Jan 23, 2022 / 11:55 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Sunday called for January 26 to be a day of prayer for peace in Ukraine, as the threat rises of Russian invasion into the Eastern European country.

“I am following with concern the increase of tensions that threaten to inflict a new blow to the peace in Ukraine, and call into question the security of the European continent, with wider repercussions,” the pope said after his weekly Angelus address Jan. 23.

“I make a heartfelt appeal to all people of good will, that they may raise prayers to God Almighty, that every political action and initiative may serve human brotherhood, rather than partisan interests,” he stated.

Russia has sent an estimated 100,000 troops to the Ukrainian border. U.S. President Joe Biden said at a press conference on Jan. 19 that he expected Russian President Vladimir Putin to order an invasion.

The British government said on Jan. 22 that Russia may be plotting to install a pro-Kremlin leader in Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv.

“Those who pursue their own interests, to the detriment of others, disregard their human vocation, as we were all created as brothers and sisters,” Pope Francis said. “For this reason, and with concern, given the current tensions, I propose that next Wednesday, January 26, be a day of prayer for peace.”

Catholic bishops in Europe have also expressed support for Ukraine and appealed to Christians to pray for peace.

The pope’s appeal for Ukraine came after he led the weekly recitation of the Angelus, a traditional Marian prayer, from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square.

People wave at Pope Francis during his Angelus address on Jan. 23, 2022. Vatican Media
People wave at Pope Francis during his Angelus address on Jan. 23, 2022. Vatican Media

In his address before the prayer, Francis spoke about the day’s Gospel reading, “the first word of Jesus’ preaching recorded in the Gospel of Luke,” particularly when Jesus says: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled.”

“Let us dwell on this ‘today,’” the pope said. “The Word of God is always ‘today.’ It begins with a ‘today:’ when you read the Word of God, a ‘today’ begins in your soul, if you understand it well.”

Speaking on Word of God Sunday, Pope Francis thanked those who preach and proclaim the Gospel with fidelity and in a way that rouses hearts. He also addressed the problem of religious talks or homilies which are too “generic, abstract.”

There are homilies which “do not touch the soul and the life of the people,” he said, explaining that the reason this happens is “because they lack the power of this ‘today;’ what Jesus ‘fills with meaning’ by the power of the Spirit, is today.”

“Yes, at times one hears impeccable conferences, well-constructed speeches, but they do not move the heart and so everything remains as before,” he noted. “Even many homilies — I say it with respect but with pain — are abstract, and instead of awakening the soul, they put it to sleep. When the faithful start looking at their watches — ‘when is this going to end?’ — they put the soul to sleep,” he said.

Pope Francis encouraged everyone to read and re-read a small passage of scripture every day: “Keep the Gospel in your pocket or your bag, to read it on your travels, at any moment, and read it calmly. In time we will discover that these words are made especially for us, for our life.”

“The Word of God, is indeed alive and effective; it changes us, it enters into our affairs, it illuminates our daily lives, it comforts and brings order. Remember: the Word of God transforms an ordinary day into the today in which God speaks to us,” he said.

Francis suggested that during this liturgical year, it would be good for Catholics to spend time in personal reflection on the Gospel of Luke, the Gospel proclaimed at Mass on Sundays.

“Let us familiarize ourselves with the Gospel, it will bring us the newness and joy of God,” he said.

Biden reaffirms support for abortion on anniversary of Roe v. Wade

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

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jan 22, 2022 / 10:40 am (CNA).

President Joe Biden pledged to defend a so-called right to abortion and reaffirmed his commitment to the widespread availability of the procedure in a Jan. 22 statement marking the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

“The constitutional right established in Roe v. Wade nearly 50 years ago today is under assault as never before,” reads the statement, which was co-signed by Vice President Kamala Harris. “It is a right we believe should be codified into law, and we pledge to defend it with every tool we possess.”

“We are deeply committed to protecting access to health care, including reproductive health care—and to ensuring that this country is not pushed backwards on women’s equality,” the statement continues. 

The statement was released one day after tens of thousands of pro-life advocates gathered in Washington for the annual March for Life

Biden and Harris condemned efforts by pro-life lawmakers to enact restrictions on abortion, saying that “in Texas, Mississippi, and many other states around the country, access to reproductive health care is under attack.” 

“These state restrictions constrain the freedom of all women,” they wrote, adding that such restrictions are “particularly devastating for those who have fewer options and fewer resources, such as those in underserved communities, including communities of color and many in rural areas.” 

In addition to support of codifying a right to an abortion throughout the entirety of a pregnancy, Biden and Harris wrote that they will “continue to work with Congress on the Women’s Health Protection Act.” 

The Women’s Health Protection Act would establish “a statutory right for health care professionals to provide abortion and the right for their patients to receive care, free from medically unnecessary restrictions that single out abortion care.” 

If passed, the bill would also eliminate requirements including mandatory waiting periods and ultrasounds before the procedure can be performed. 

Biden and Harris wrote that it is important to “ensure that our daughters and granddaughters have the same fundamental rights that their mothers and grandmothers fought for and won on this day, 49 years ago.” 

“At this pivotal moment, we recommit to strengthening access to critical reproductive health care, defending the constitutional right established by Roe, and protecting the freedom of all people to build their own future,” the statement reads. 

Biden is the second Catholic president and the first to be elected since Roe v. Wade. In an interview with The Washingtonian when Roe was issued, Biden said he was more moderate on many social issues, including abortion. 

"But when it comes to issues like abortion, amnesty, and acid, I'm about as liberal as your grandmother," Biden said at the time. "I don't like the Supreme Court decision on abortion. I think it went too far. I don't think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body."

While in the Senate, Biden repeatedly voted for legislation that would prevent the taxpayer funding of abortion. However, his views on abortion began to shift over time. 

By his last year in the Senate prior to becoming vice president, Biden received a zero rating by the National Right to Life Committee. The last time Biden received a score above zero from the pro-life committee was in 2003-2004.

“There’s no surprise here,” said Mercedes Schlapp, former strategic communications director for the Trump administration, in a Jan. 21 interview with EWTN’s Owen Jensen. “We knew he was going to be radical on abortion. We knew he was going to support abortion— late term abortions. We know he’s obsessed and [the Democratic] party is obsessed with codifying Roe v. Wade.”

“As Catholics, we need to be vocal,” she continued. “We need to stand strong and we need to tell the president this is not right. We need to defend the unborn.”

These are the best signs we saw at the March for Life

Yuni and Natalie Wu of the Lexington-area in Kentucky at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. / Katie Yoder/CNA

Washington D.C., Jan 22, 2022 / 07:20 am (CNA).

Tens of thousands of Americans attended the 49th March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Friday to challenge the legality of abortion and celebrate a culture of life. The largest annual pro-life event in the country marks the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling which legalized abortion nationwide.

Here are the 15 of the best signs that CNA saw at the march:

A man raises his Baby Yoda sign during a rally held on the National Mall at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
A man raises his Baby Yoda sign during a rally held on the National Mall at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
Yuni and Natalie Wu of the Lexington-area in Kentucky at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
Yuni and Natalie Wu of the Lexington-area in Kentucky at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
A woman holds up a sign while marching outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
A woman holds up a sign while marching outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
A man holds up a sign while marching outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
A man holds up a sign while marching outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
A young woman holds another Baby Yoda Sign outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
A young woman holds another Baby Yoda Sign outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
Young adults hold colorful signs outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
Young adults hold colorful signs outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
A woman sports a message on her coat outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
A woman sports a message on her coat outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
Ben (12) and Madeline (turning 14 on Jan. 21) of Fredericksburg, Virginia, at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
Ben (12) and Madeline (turning 14 on Jan. 21) of Fredericksburg, Virginia, at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA



A close-up of Akili’s sign at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
A close-up of Akili’s sign at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
Young women from Charlotte, North Carolina, display their handmade signs during a rally on the National Mall at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
Young women from Charlotte, North Carolina, display their handmade signs during a rally on the National Mall at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
18-year-old Akili of Warrenton, Virginia, at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
18-year-old Akili of Warrenton, Virginia, at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
A woman holds her pro-life sign during a rally held on the National Mall at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
A woman holds her pro-life sign during a rally held on the National Mall at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
Mary St. Hilaire, of Wichita, Kansas (left), and Kristina Massa, 22, of Lincoln, Nebraska, at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
Mary St. Hilaire, of Wichita, Kansas (left), and Kristina Massa, 22, of Lincoln, Nebraska, at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
Two women gather during a rally held on the National Mall at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
Two women gather during a rally held on the National Mall at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
Young people pose with their signs outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
Young people pose with their signs outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA

Missed the March for Life? Here it is, in a 45-second video

Students for Life of America estimates that about 150,000 people attended the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022, based an analysis of a video of the marchers. / Screen shot of Students for Life of America video

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jan 22, 2022 / 06:26 am (CNA).

Missed the March for Life? Well, can you watch the whole thing in the time it takes to say three Hail Marys.

As it has done in the past, the pro-life group Students for Life released a 45-second-long time-lapse video of the marchers filing past an elevated camera set up along the route.

The turnout for the Jan. 21 march in Washington, D.C., as you can see, was huge. While it's not the practice of the march's organizers or the police to provide specific estimates of the size of the crowd, Students for Life, calculates that about 150,000 people paraded past its camera post.

"The cold couldn't dampen the spirits of the Pro-Life Generation who knew we were celebrating the last anniversary of Roe v. Wade," the group, officially Students for Life of America, tweeted on Friday. "The largest human rights march in the world IS against abortion." You can watch the the march video below.

Impressive, no? You also don't want to miss the powerful speech Father Mike Schmitz of "Bible in a Year" fame delivered at the rally right before the march. Here's the EWTN video of the speech:

March for Life 2022: 'A great witness to the sanctity of human life'

Participants of the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. / CNA

Washington D.C., Jan 21, 2022 / 18:44 pm (CNA).

Participants returned in large numbers to the annual March for Life Friday, braving frigid weather one year after the event’s pandemic-related virtual shutdown to demonstrate solidarity for the unborn at the start what could be a decisive year for the pro-life movement.

Billed as the “largest human rights demonstration in the world,” the daylong gathering began tentatively with scattered clusters of bundled participants trickling into the National Mall on a clear but chilly morning. That it was bracingly cold was apparent from the the woolen socks Franciscan friars wore beneath their sandal straps.

The ongoing coronavirus crisis, coupled with tightened COVID-19 restrictions in the District of Columbia, kept some regulars at home. But by the start of a mid-day, pre-march rally, headlined by a passionate speech by “Bible in a Year” podcast star Father Mike Schmitz, the size of the crowd had swelled into the tens of thousands, resembling a typical year’s turnout.

But this year’s march was anything but typical. The possibility that the country’s highest court later this year might strike down the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide — and sparked the first March for Life 49 years ago — lent a festive, anticipatory air to the day’s rituals, culminating in a walk up Constitution Avenue to the steps of the Supreme Court.

“We are hoping and praying that this year, 2022, will bring a historic change for life,” Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, the event’s organizer, said at the rally.

“Roe,” she said, “is not settled law.”

No time for complacency

Such statements carry extra weight this year because of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a pivotal Mississippi abortion case that many in the pro-life movement see as the best — and possibly last — opportunity to unravel the tightly woven legal framework that has produced some 62 million abortions across the United States, a staggering toll the Catholic Church views as an epic human tragedy. A decision in the case isn’t expected until the end of the court’s term in June.

“The Supreme Court, God-willing, (is) poised to affirm the Dobbs case, to prevent abortions after 15 weeks, but also to begin, and we hope, the dismantling of Roe v. Wade,” said Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), who spoke during the rally.

The intense polarization surrounding the case was made manifest by a brazen publicity stunt by an activist group called Catholics for Choice, which on Thursday night beamed carefully calibrated pro-choice messages on the facade of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception here, while a prayer vigil to end abortion took place inside. Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the Archbishop of Washington, criticized the group’s actions, which another prelate, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone called “diabolical.”

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said the pro-life movement cannot afford to become “complacent,” regardless of the outcome of Dobbs.

“The Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion is a response of love for both mothers and their children in the womb. The Church’s teaching proclaims a message of life, reminding us that every life is a sacred gift from God from the moment of conception until natural death,” Lori said in a statement.

“We cannot build a truly just society and remain complacent when faced with the massive impact of Roe v. Wade, which has taken over 60 million lives since 1973. May we pray, fast, and work for the day when the gift of every human life is protected in law and welcomed in love,” he added.

‘A large Catholic presence’

Thursday night’s drama gave way to an upbeat show of solidarity at Friday’s march. By longstanding practice, neither organizers nor the police provided estimates of the number of marchers.

More than 200 students from Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio arrived by bus for the march before 5 a.m. on Friday morning, two students told CNA. The overnight bus drive took more than five hours. 

Participants at the March for Life in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 21, 2022. CNA
Participants at the March for Life in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 21, 2022. CNA

This was the first March for Life for 18-year-old Lucia Hunt from Dallas, Texas, and 21-year-old Niklas Koehler from Ashburn, Virginia. They said the march met their expectations. 

“I definitely was looking forward to seeing a whole bunch of people defending life and there's this huge crowd out there so I’m definitely happy with the pro-life movement,” Koehler said.

“I was expecting a large Catholic presence and so far I've seen it, which I'm pretty happy about,” Hunt said. He explained that he’s pro-life “because I believe in the truth, and the truth is that a child is a human being from the moment of conception up until natural death.”

Added Hunt: “Not only is a child a human being, but a human being is also a child of God, and I believe in protecting that life.”

Many of the marchers were there for the first time, including a group of young women from Charlotte, North Carolina. 

“I just think we can have more options for people rather than just ending lives,”  Millie Bryan, a 17-year-old from Charlotte, told CNA. Bryan was attending her first-ever March for Life, and was toting a sign that read “Stop telling women they can’t finish school, have a career, succeed without abortion.” 

She added that she was most looking forward to “getting the opportunity to see the people come together to fight for something that’s really important, to fight for life.” 

Bagpipers and drummers with American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property concluded the march. Members of the group carried waving red flags and reverently carried a platform topped with a statue of Our Lady of Fatima.

“There are still a lot of people here. It’s great that people still made the sacrifice to come out,” said Father David Yallaly, who attended the march with the Chicago-based group Crusaders for Life. “It’s a great witness to the message of the sanctity of human life.”