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Meet Michael McGivney Schachle, the miracle baby who helped make his namesake a Blessed

Daniel and Michelle Schachle with their son, Michael McGivney Schachle, 7, at the annual convention of the Knights of Columbus held Aug. 1-4, 2022, in Nashville, Tennessee. / Joe Bukuras/CNA

Nashville, Tenn., Aug 7, 2022 / 04:00 am (CNA).

Seated in a small black wagon pulled by his father, 7-year-old Michael McGivney Schachle happily rolled along the hallways of the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville last week, innocently unaware that people were staring at him in awe as he passed by.

His parents noticed. They’re used to it by now.

“He's like a living relic,” his mother Michelle Schachle said.

Numerous U.S. prelates and other Catholic dignitaries attended the Knights of Columbus’ annual convention at the hotel on Aug. 1-4. But few could match Michael’s star power, which radiated from his megawatt smile.

Doctors gave Michael McGivney Schachle "zero" chance of survival before his birth. Thanks to the intercession of Father Michael McGivney, the founder of the Knights of Columbus, he was miraculously healed in the womb of a life-threatening condition. Courtesy of the Schachle family
Doctors gave Michael McGivney Schachle "zero" chance of survival before his birth. Thanks to the intercession of Father Michael McGivney, the founder of the Knights of Columbus, he was miraculously healed in the womb of a life-threatening condition. Courtesy of the Schachle family

For good reason: Michael, whose family lives in Dickson, Tennessee, is the boy whose miraculous healing in his mother’s womb from a life-threatening condition led Pope Francis to beatify Father Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus, placing him one step from sainthood.

Michael’s parents — his father Daniel is a knight and an insurance agent for the fraternal order — spoke to CNA at the convention about their son, their faith, and the miracle that will follow Michael for the rest of his life.

‘Zero’ chance of survival

Michelle found out that she was pregnant with Michael, the couple’s thirteenth child, in December 2014. It was only one month later that Michael, who was originally intended to be named Benedict after Michelle’s grandfather, was diagnosed with Down syndrome.

In February 2015, an ultrasound revealed another complication: Michael had a rare condition called hydrops fetalis, in which fluid builds up in the baby’s tissues and organs, causing swelling. The doctor told Michelle that the baby’s condition was fatal and encouraged her to abort the child.

According to Michelle, the diagnosing doctor said that she had worked at the hospital for 30 years and had never seen a child survive as severe a case of the condition as Michael had.

“Daniel wanted a percentage [for chances of the child’s survival] and he was hoping she'd say like 10% or 15%,” Michelle recounted.

“She said, ‘Zero. There’s no chance.’”

Because of their Catholic faith, however, abortion was not an option.

So, the couple turned to prayer. 

It was Daniel who decided to seek the help of Father McGivney (1852-1890), an Irish-Catholic priest who ministered to immigrant families in New Haven, Connecticut, and founded the Knights as a mutual aid and fraternal insurance organization.

“Father McGivney, we both need a miracle. Please pray if it's God's will that this cup will pass from me and that my son will be healed. But not our will, but his will be done,” Daniel says he prayed, kneeling in his bedroom, the night after the diagnosis.

Daniel said he promised that if his son were cured, the boy would be named after the Knights’ founder.

He had not consulted with this wife on that part of the deal, however.

“She was like, ‘We're gonna name him Benedict. You can't change his name!’” 

The next day the couple began asking their friends to pray for their son’s healing through Father McGivney’s intercession.

Despite the dire diagnosis, the couple decided to go forward with a pre-planned pilgrimage to Europe sponsored by the Knights.

The couple said they were given many signal graces on the trip. One of those graces came in Rome, while their priest, Father Michael Fye, offered Mass at the Vatican. Daniel said that the priest chose a random chapel in the church to celebrate Mass, and it turned out to be the same chapel that the Knights of Columbus had paid to restore an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Help, a few years earlier.

The Schachle family of Dickson, Tennessee. Courtesy of the Schachle family
The Schachle family of Dickson, Tennessee. Courtesy of the Schachle family

A watershed moment came in Fatima, Portugal.

As the couple was praying for a miracle during Holy Mass, they were astounded by the scripture reading of the day from the fourth chapter of the Gospel of John. In the reading, a royal official whose son was sick in Capernaum asks Jesus to heal the boy.

Jesus responds, “You may go; your son will live.” Hearing those words, the Schachles were stunned. Daniel’s jaw dropped.

“There were just a thousand little things like that that happened on the trip,” Daniel said. “So, by the time we left, I was almost sure that God had done something because of all of those signs.”

‘A kiss from God’

When the couple arrived back home, Michelle went for her next ultrasound. What she saw that day would later be accepted as evidence in support of McGivney’s beatification.

After reviewing the image, Dr. Mary Carroll told Michelle that she would need to see a certain pediatrician with expertise in caring for Down syndrome pregnancies because the baby could be born a month early.

Confused, Michelle said that she thought the baby had a 0% chance of survival and that there was no hope. 

“Honey, you just came back from Fatima. There's always hope,’” Michelle remembers the doctor telling her. Their son still had Down syndrome, but the ultrasound showed there was no trace of hydrops.

It was that day that the child received the name Michael McGivney Schachle, Michelle said. 

Michelle began to weep. But according to Michelle, Carroll said to her, “Sweetheart, don't cry. That's the prettiest baby I've ever seen in my life.” 

Mikey Schachle, whose life was saved by an officially recognized miracle through the intercession of Fr. Michael McGivney. Photo courtesy of the Schachle Family.
Mikey Schachle, whose life was saved by an officially recognized miracle through the intercession of Fr. Michael McGivney. Photo courtesy of the Schachle Family.

Michael was born on May 15, 2015. Providentially, May 15 is the anniversary of the chartering of the first Knights of Columbus council.

The Schachles have other curious connections to McGivney: Michelle and McGivney have the same birthday, and both Michael and McGivney were born into families of 13 children. The family also had named their homeschool after McGivney.

Michael’s miracle was approved by Pope Francis on May 27, 2020.

Today, “Mikey,” as he’s known, loves making people laugh with his jokes. He knows he was healed in his mommy’s tummy and says he loves God.

And those who know his incredible story stop and smile when he’s around.

On Aug. 2, Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly made a special mention of the Schachles in his annual address. A large video screen showed Daniel raising his smiling son in the air.

The crowd cheered.

Seeing him, his mother says, is like “a little kiss from God — proof that God exists and that he loves you.”

Unborn babies are tax exempt under Georgia’s heartbeat-based abortion law

The Georgia capitol in Atlanta. / Rob Wilson / Shutterstock.

Denver Newsroom, Aug 5, 2022 / 19:00 pm (CNA).

An unborn baby is now recognized as a dependent who will qualify expectant parents for a $3,000 deduction in Georgia tax rules, under the same law which bans abortion based on a detectible fetal heartbeat.

Georgia’s Department of Revenue issued new guidance stating that “any unborn child with a detectable human heartbeat” is eligible for Georgia’s individual income tax dependent exemption, National Public Radio reports. A heartbeat is detectable about six weeks into pregnancy, sometimes before women know they are pregnant.

A woman six weeks pregnant as of July 20 may list her unborn child on her tax returns next year, with relevant medical records or other supporting documentation. More specific instructions are expected later this year, the New York Times reports.

Georgia’s 2019 law banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detectible recognizes the unborn child as a “natural person.” The same law which allows expectant parents to claim their baby as a dependent also requires a father to pay child support for “direct medical and pregnancy-related expenses” for an unborn child.

In June the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which mandated legal abortion nationwide in 1973.

In light of that decision, a three-judge panel with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit on July 20 ruled that Georgia’s abortion ban can become law.

Legal protections and benefits for the unborn child and expecting parents have drawn criticism from some abortion advocates, but there are also legal questions to be answered.

In a July 2020 ruling against the state law, U.S. District Judge Steve Jones questioned whether a pregnant woman with an eating disorder could be found guilty of child cruelty and whether health care providers required to report child abuse could be liable for failing to report a pregnant woman living with an abusive relationship partner, the Georgia Recorder reports.

Lauren Groh-Wargo, the campaign manager of Georgia’s strongly pro-abortion rights Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, questioned whether a woman who claims the tax deduction but later miscarries could be investigated for tax fraud and procuring an illegal abortion.

However, the Georgia law exempts miscarriages, stillbirths, and ectopic pregnancies from legal penalty.

The law allows abortions in cases of medical emergencies to prevent the death or physical impairment of the pregnant woman.

Though the law recognizes the unborn child as a person, it still allows abortion up to 20 weeks into pregnancy targeting unborn children allegedly conceived in rape or incest, if an official police report was filed.

Alabama and Arizona also have abortion laws that broadly define the unborn child as a person.

Another 40 states, including Texas and California, define the unborn child as a legal person in cases involving homicide, the New York Times reports.

Some states have passed pro-abortion laws explicitly stripping legal rights from an unborn child. A 2022 Colorado law, the Reproductive Health Equity Act, says that “a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent or derivative rights under the laws of the state.”

Two-year-old lawsuit accusing Theodore McCarrick of repeatedly raping boy still pending in NJ

Former cardinal Theodore McCarrick arrives at Massachusetts' Dedham District Courthouse for his arraignment, Sept. 3, 2021. / Andrew Bukuras/CNA

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Aug 5, 2022 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

One of the more graphic sexual abuse lawsuits against former cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick is still pending in New Jersey after the parties recently failed to settle the nearly two-year-old case, court filings show.

The civil lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Newark in September 2020, accuses McCarrick of raping and sexually assaulting an unnamed adolescent boy on more than 50 occasions from 1985 to 1990.

The lawsuit also names the Archdiocese of Newark and the Diocese of Metuchen as defendants, alleging that they failed to protect the boy from McCarrick while he led those New Jersey dioceses. All the defendants deny the claims against them.

The parties met with a private mediator June 23 but were unable to settle the case, court records show.

“At this juncture, the parties do not believe that another settlement conference will be productive,” the plaintiff’s lawyers, Mark Lefkowitz and Kevin Mulhearn, wrote in a July 21 letter to U.S. District Court Evelyn Padin.

The lawyers revealed in the letter that the Newark Archdiocese has produced 172,734 pages of documents requested by the plaintiff’s legal team, which is still reviewing the records.

Depositions of McCarrick and the plaintiff, who is now in his late thirties, have taken place, the letter said. Other individuals have yet to be deposed.

McCarrick, 92, was dismissed from the clerical state by Pope Francis in 2019 after a Vatican investigation found him guilty of sexually assaulting minors and adults.

Dozens of alleged assaults

The New Jersey lawsuit is one of several civil complaints still pending against McCarrick.

The disgraced prelate also faces criminal prosecution in district court in Dedham, Massachusetts, for allegedly sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy in 1974.

In that case, McCarrick entered a not guilty plea in September 2021 to three counts of indecent assault and battery. Each charge carries up to five years in prison.

No trial date has been set in the criminal case. The next hearing date is Sept. 8, a spokesman for the Norfolk District Attorney’s Office told CNA Friday.

The New Jersey civil case involving the alleged rapes of an adolescent boy has received significant media attention due to the graphic nature of the allegations. The 108-page lawsuit also chronicles in detail McCarrick’s steady rise up the Catholic hierarchy, despite multiple warnings and complaints about his alleged predatory behavior toward minors, seminarians, and young priests.

According to the lawsuit, McCarrick was “deeply revered, respected, and highly trusted” by the plaintiff’s “extremely devout Catholic” parents and extended family.

“Plaintiff’s parents were thrilled that McCarrick, a high-ranking Catholic bishop whom they viewed as God’s emissary, had decided to single out their family (and their son) for special attention and could not even begin to imagine that McCarrick’s desires toward Plaintiff were sexual or predatory in nature,” the lawsuit states.

“They thus strongly encouraged Plaintiff to spend considerable time with McCarrick, as they viewed his actions toward Plaintiff as a blessed manifestation of God’s grace,” according to the complaint.

In 1985, while McCarrick was bishop of Metuchen, the then-12-year-old boy stayed overnight at the Metuchen rectory with his parents’ approval, the lawsuit states.

The next day, McCarrick took the boy to a beach house owned by the diocese in Sea Girt, New Jersey, where McCarrick sexually assaulted the boy for the first time, the lawsuit alleges.

Subsequent sexual assaults allegedly took place in a variety of other locations, including the rectory in Metuchen, a fishing cabin in the woods at the Eldred Preserve in the Catskills in New York State, and a hotel in Ireland, the lawsuit states.

The assaults continued when McCarrick became archbishop in Newark, the lawsuit states. In one incident alleged to have taken place at McCarrick’s private Newark residence, McCarrick brought another, unidentified priest to the apartment.

“This is my friend. He’s like us. We all do the same thing,” McCarrick allegedly told the then 13- or 14-year-old boy by way of introduction, according to the lawsuit. “I’m gonna leave now. And you two enjoy yourselves.”

The other priest then sexually assaulted and raped the boy, the lawsuit states. After the priest left, McCarrick raped the boy again, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit alleges that McCarrick’s alleged predatory behavior was known within the dioceses and spoken of at high levels of the Catholic Church, yet nothing was done to stop him, in part “because McCarrick was an exceptional fundraiser for the Catholic Church, and was charismatic and viewed by many as a rising star in the Church.”

Lasting damage alleged

The plaintiff had been a straight A student prior to McCarrick's abuse, the lawsuit states.

"Upon suffering sexual abuse by McCarrick, however, Plaintiff’s grades slipped dramatically, as he was unable to concentrate, and his behavior at school worsened considerably," the complaint alleges.

"Plaintiff attended three separate high schools, as he was expelled from several high schools for excessive fighting and general bad behavior. He became a wild, unruly child, prone to bursts of anger and untamed aggression, and frequently got into fights with other children (particularly when other boys touched him, as he hated physical contact with other males)," the lawsuit states.

The plaintiff never attended college and instead joined the U.S. Coast Guard, requesting to be stationed in Alaska "to separate himself from McCarrick and his nightmarish experiences to the greatest extent possible," the lawsuit states.

Lawyers for McCarrick, the Archdiocese of Newark, and the Diocese of Metuchen could not be reached for comment Friday.



  




Little Sisters of the Poor to close Denver nursing home after 105 years

Little Sisters of the Poor. Courtesy of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. / null

Denver, Colo., Aug 5, 2022 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

After years of service to the elderly in the Archdiocese of Denver, the Little Sisters of the Poor announced this week their intention to withdraw from a nursing home they have operated for more than a century, citing the need to dedicate resources to other projects. 

The Mullen Home complex, located in Denver’s West Highland neighborhood, received its first residents in 1918 after the sisters moved in the year prior. The home includes private rooms for assisted living, apartments for the elderly, a library, and a chapel. It was expanded and renovated between 1975 and 1980. 

The order’s leader in Denver said the decision to close the home had come about following a “lengthy period of prayer, much consultation and much study.”

“As part of a strategic plan aimed at strengthening our ministry and the quality of our religious and community life, we Little Sisters have recognized the need to withdraw from a certain number of Homes in the United States, while at the same time dedicating our resources to much needed upgrades and reconstruction projects in others,” Mother Julie Horseman said in an emailed statement Aug. 3. 

“While it is always difficult for the Little Sisters to withdraw from any of our Homes, know that our immediate concern is for our Residents and Staff members. We will be working with all of them in the coming weeks and months, assisting with this difficult transition.”

According to the Archdiocese of Denver, the land on which the nursing home sits was given to the Little Sisters by John K. Mullen and his wife Catherine in 1917. Mullen was a Denver-based Irish-American entrepreneur and philanthropist who supported many Catholic causes in Denver and elsewhere.

The deed by which Mullen transferred the land to the religious order had a provision whereby the land and buildings would be transferred to the Archdiocese of Denver if the Little Sisters ceased operating the nursing home. The archdiocese is “studying its new purpose with prayerful consideration,” the Little Sisters said. 

“Their intention is to use it to further the mission of the Church and preserve our legacy in the Denver area,” Mother Horseman said. 

The Little Sisters of the Poor began in France in 1839, when the order’s founder, Saint Jeanne Jugan, offered her bed to an elderly woman who was blind and lying paralyzed in the cold. Today, the order serves in 30 countries, with 27 homes in the United States. Because the sisters care for the low-income elderly, they trust in God for financial support. Sources of income such as Medicaid and pensions from the residents generally only cover about half of their expenses, so they beg for the remainder. 

Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver thanked the Little Sisters for their more than 100 years of ministry in the city, adding that the archdiocese is “still in the process of determining the next steps for the property.” 

“I want to offer my heartfelt and sincere gratitude for their work. Whenever I would visit Mullen Home as a priest and later as a bishop, I was always edified by their witness to the Catholic faith and their living out of the corporal works of mercy. Their compassionate care for the elderly provided a witness to Jesus Christ and his love for the poor and the sick,” Aquila said. 

The nearest Little Sisters-run nursing homes to Denver after the Mullen Home closes will be in Gallup, New Mexico and Kansas City, Missouri. 

Visa, Mastercard pause ad buys with Pornhub following controversy

sxc.hu.

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Aug 5, 2022 / 16:37 pm (CNA).

On Thursday, Visa and Mastercard temporarily suspended ad purchases with Pornhub and its parent company, MindGeek, after the latest court ruling in a child pornography lawsuit. 

The action follows a court ruling last week that denied Visa’s request to be removed from the case, which alleged that the company was complicit in a child pornography crime involving a 13-year old girl. 

The ruling determined that “Visa knew that MindGeek’s websites were teeming with monetized child porn,” but continued to process financial transactions that MindGeek profited off of from “sex trafficking” and distributing explicit content involving children. 

In an Aug. 4 statement addressing the news, Visa’s CEO Alfred F. Kelley Jr. declared that the company “strongly disagree[d]” with the court’s decision and was “confident” in its position. 

“In our view, our company’s role, policies, and practices have been mischaracterized,” Kelley wrote, adding that the allegations were “repugnant and stand in direct contradiction to Visa’s values and purpose.”

Kelley later added that Visa does not make any “moral judgments” on legal purchases made by consumers and that Visa can only be used to purchase content on sites that feature “adult professional actors in legal adult entertainment.”   

But Patrina Mosley, a women and children’s policy advisor, points out the hypocrisy of such a statement. 

“[Visa] acknowledge[s] that sex trafficking, sexual exploitation, and child sexual abuse are illegal, then goes on to say ‘we do not make moral judgments on legal purchase made by consumers,’” she wrote in an email to CNA. 

“Visa and Mastercard knew exactly what type of business they were getting into when they allowed payments for ads to be processed on Pornhub. It is only after being sued have they relented, further toppling one of the world's largest exploitation sites.”

Mosley, who has over a decade of experience in combatting sexual exploitation, referenced the fact that 16 states in the U.S. have already declared pornography a public health hazard. 

But it’s not enough, she added: “The only way to help prevent exploitation is to make pornography illegal.”

How to comment on Biden rule forcing doctors to perform transition surgeries, abortions

null / Darko Stojanovic via Pixabay (CC0).

Washington D.C., Aug 5, 2022 / 16:36 pm (CNA).

The Biden administration’s proposed rule that would force doctors and hospitals to provide gender transition procedures and abortions went live Wednesday, beginning the 60-day comment period during which members of the public can voice their objections before it becomes the law of the land. 

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rule was published in the Federal Register yesterday. Outside groups and individuals have until October 3, 2022, to submit comments that may be considered in the rule-making process. 

The rule would revise the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to add “sexual orientation and gender identity” and “reproductive health care services” including “pregnancy termination" to existing “protections against discrimination on the basis of sex.” 

The action would reverse Trump-era conscience protections for medical professionals. It would also expand the Obama-era version of the rule to include abortion. 

Catholic medical organizations have already stated they will submit comments opposing the rule’s mandate, but a former HHS official is encouraging citizens to speak out too.

Arina Grossu, former senior communications advisor in the Office for Civil Rights at HHS, wrote in an email to CNA that “It is critical for individuals and organizations to express their unique voice through the public comment process while there still is time.

“If you care deeply about protecting conscience rights and the integrity of health care, this is your chance to speak up,” she added.

Grossu, a fellow with the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism, recommends a guide from the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC) that explains how concerned citizens can submit impactful comments on rules. 

“Comments are the public’s last best chance to influence agency rules that will bind or affect them with the force of law,” the resource emphasizes. 

The guide emphasizes that it is important for commenters to submit individual, unique arguments for how the rule would negatively impact them or their organizations. Including relevant expertise and citing personal stories or examples is also helpful.

How to submit comments 

To submit comments online, individuals can navigate to where the rule is posted in the Federal Register and click “Submit a Formal Comment” in the top right-hand of the page. 

An online form with required fields will pop up, asking commenters to submit their comments and specify whether they are an individual, group, or prefer to remain anonymous. 

There is also an option to leave an email address to receive confirmation of one’s submission along with a tracking number, or attach additional documentation to support a comment.

Catholic medical organizations to comment 

Catholic Healthcare Leadership Alliance (CHCLA) released a statement Thursday morning saying it would be adding its comment in opposition to the rule. 

Dr. Steven White, president of CHCLA, called the proposed regulation a “terrible affront” to the rights of doctors who practice in line with their consciences. 

“Catholic hospitals and Catholic health care professionals are bound to follow the long-standing tradition of the healing ministry of Jesus Christ and His Church,” he said in the statement, which includes “providing life-affirming care from conception to natural death and upholding the dignity of the human person made in the image of God as male and female.”

You can submit your comments on the rule here

U.S. bishops urge support for mothers and babies after Biden abortion executive order

null / Credit: Unsplash

Denver Newsroom, Aug 5, 2022 / 11:42 am (CNA).

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, the U.S. bishops’pro-life chair, on Friday called on President Joe Biden to increase support and care for mothers and children.

The Aug. 5 message was in response to an executive order from the president that facilitates abortion by allow states to use Medicaid to pay for abortion services for women traveling from other states.

“I continue to call on the President and all our elected officials to increase support and care to mothers and babies, rather than facilitate the destruction of defenseless, voiceless human beings,” Lori said.

He added that “Even preceding the Dobbs decision, my brother bishops and I have implored the nation to stand with moms in need, and work together to protect and support women and children.”

“Continued promotion of abortion takes lives and irreparably harms vulnerable pregnant mothers, their families, and society,” Lori stated. “It is the wrong direction to take at a moment when we should be working to support women and to build up a culture of life.”

Biden’s Aug. 3 executive order directed Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra to “consider action to advance access to reproductive healthcare services” for women, particularly those who travel out of state to have abortions. It was not clear from the language of the executive order exactly which abortion services would be covered.

Under the Hyde Amendment, the use of federal funding for abortions is prohibited except in the cases of rape, incest, or a “life-endangering physical condition” that places the mother “in danger of death.” 

At an Aug. 3 press briefing White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed that the order “paves the way for Medicaid to pay for abortions for women having to travel out of state” by allowing states to apply for Medicaid waivers.

When asked by a reporter how the administration would accomplish this in light of the Hyde Amendment’s restrictions on federal abortion funding, Jean-Pierre said, “we’re going to leave it to HHS to come up with the details on the specifics on how they’re going to work with states — if a state asks for a waiver — and what that’s going to look like.” 

This is the second executive order the administration has released since the overturning of Roe v. Wade. 

The order, which calls traveling across state lines for abortions a “bedrock right,” also reaffirms a rule the Biden administration proposed last week that would force doctors to provide abortions. 

In addition, the order calls for data collection and research at the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to measure accurately “the impact that diminishing access to reproductive health care services has on women’s health.”

Pro-life groups have also criticized the executive order.

Amy Gehrke, Executive Director of Illinois Right to Life, said Aug. 3 that “the women of Illinois and beyond don’t need more ‘help’ obtaining abortions, they need resources that truly give them choices when facing unplanned pregnancies. They need practical resources such as diapers, food, health care, and counseling. We know that over 60 percent of women feel pressured into abortions they don’t really want. They need to know aid is available to help them choose life for their children.”

The executive order, Gehrke said, “is cause to mourn that our president is doing everything he possibly can to degrade women by expanding access to abortion.”

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America called the executive order an illegal effort to “force taxpayers to fund abortion on demand until birth in Democrat-led states.”

Public Masses suspended at Chicago's Shrine of Christ the King

A community Carols and Candles event at the Shrine of Christ the King Sovereign Priest in Chicago, Ill., Dec. 16, 2017. / Marc Monaghan via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Denver Newsroom, Aug 4, 2022 / 17:19 pm (CNA).

A prominent Chicago church that is home to a Traditional Latin Mass religious institute announced the end of all public Masses, as of last Sunday.

“As of August 1, 2022 the celebration of public Masses is suspended,” said a message on the website of the Shrine of Christ the King. 

The shrine, in the Woodlawn neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, forms the U.S. headquarters of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. The institute is a society of apostolic life that celebrates the traditional form of the Roman rite, also known as the Traditional Latin Mass.

Members of the nonprofit community group Save the Shrine told the Chicago Sun-Times they are concerned the changes will endanger the church, a historic landmark.

One member of the group, Jennifer Blackman, attributed the change to a ban from the Chicago Archdiocese under new guidelines for the celebration of the Latin Mass.

Susan Thomas, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Chicago, rejected the claim. She said the church sent a July 31 letter to the archdiocese saying it would stop the Masses.

“They chose to discontinue the Masses and sent the archdiocese a letter stating that they would stop offering Mass and other sacraments at the shrine,” Thomas told the Chicago Sun-Times. 

“The shrine had the option to continue Latin Mass under the guidelines and decided not to,” Thomas said. “It is a false statement that we have a citywide Latin Mass ban. That’s simply untrue. Latin Mass is offered in the archdiocese.”

Among the guidelines of the Archdiocese of Chicago are a prohibition of the celebration of Traditional Latin Masses on the first Sunday of every month, Christmas, the Triduum, Easter Sunday, and Pentecost.

While Catholic communities that celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass are present only at a small percentage of Catholic churches, their numbers grew after Pope Benedict XVI announced broad permission for clergy to say the traditional Latin Mass in a 2007 motu proprio. 

Pope Francis, however, allowed local bishops to limit significantly celebrations of the traditional Latin Mass in his 2021 motu proprio Traditionis custodes. Various dioceses’ implementations of the new policy have caused serious concern among some Catholic congregations dedicated to the traditional Latin Mass.

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago announced his new directive implementing Traditionis custodes in December 2021. Under the directive, which took effect on Jan. 25, 2022, Cupich curtailed the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass and other sacraments that use liturgical books that predate Vatican II. Priests, deacons, and ordained ministers who wish to use the Old Rite must submit their requests to the cardinal in writing and agree to abide by the new norms.

CNA sought comment from the Christ the King shrine and the archdiocese but did not receive a response by publication.

In October 2015 the shrine suffered a devastating fire that collapsed much of its roof and its choir loft. The church windows and much of the interior furnishings were destroyed, though no one was injured. The tabernacle and an 18th-century statue of the Infant of Prague were rescued from the blaze.

The shrine church was built in 1927 as St. Clara Church and later renamed for St. Gelasius. 

After the fire, the Chicago Archdiocese secured a demolition permit but deeded the church site to the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest after an outpouring of financial support for its reconstruction.

Parishioners and the Coalition to Save the Shrine raised more than $3 million to rebuild the church.

Shortly after the fire, Mike Medina, then-president of the Woodlawn Residents Association, said that “From organizing block clean-up days and hosting meetings with city and civic leaders, to promoting local businesses and teaching hockey to neighborhood youth, the Shrine of Christ the King has been a tireless advocate for Woodlawn and serves our neighborhood with a giving and gracious heart. We stand together with the Shrine!”

The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest was founded in the west coast Central African country of Gabon in 1990. Its members are known as canons and wear blue choir dress to signify the community’s consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Its motherhouse and international seminary are located in Gricigliano, Italy, in the Archdiocese of Florence.

“Recognizing the importance of a deep harmony between faith, liturgy, life, and the power of beauty in attracting the human senses to the things above, an integral part of the Institute's charism is the use of the traditional Latin Liturgy of 1962 for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the other sacraments,” the institute says on its international website.

It describes the “essential elements” of its spirituality as “great care for a solemn liturgy, complete fidelity to the doctrine of the Church and the Holy Father, and awareness of the central role of Grace, especially Charity.”

Another Chicago-based religious community that celebrates the Traditional Latin Mass, the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, has modified its practices under the Chicago archbishop’s new rules.

Kansas abortion vote: Why did the pro-life amendment fail?

A poll worker helps a voter cast their ballot in the Kansas Primary Election at Merriam Christian Church on August 02, 2022 in Merriam, Kansas. / Kyle Rivas/Getty Images.

Washington D.C., Aug 4, 2022 / 16:18 pm (CNA).

The reason a pro-life amendment — known as the “Value Them Both” amendment — recently failed in Kansas boils down to misinformation and messaging, according to a Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America spokeswoman.

“I think ultimately it came down to chaos, confusion, and lies ruling the day,” Mallory Carroll, the vice president of communications for the national pro-life organization, told CNA. “The pro-abortion movement was very successful at claiming that this vote was going to be a vote to stop all abortion in Kansas and put women’s lives at risk.”

The referendum represented the first major statewide vote on abortion following the overturning of Roe v. Wade. With over 95% of ballots counted as of Thursday afternoon, Kansas voters rejected the pro-life amendment by about 59% to 41% during their state’s primary election.

The amendment, if approved, would have reversed the Kansas Supreme Court’s 2019 ruling that the state’s constitution protects a woman’s right to abortion. The ruling threatens existing Kansas laws, including a general ban on abortion 22 weeks or later into pregnancy. 

Currently, state lawmakers are, in most cases, prohibited from passing any type of abortion restriction. The amendment would have enabled state lawmakers to pass legislation to regulate or restrict abortion.

Ahead of the vote, SBA Pro-Life America invested $1.4 million in a Kansas voter education campaign which included digital ads, TV, radio, and mail as well as visits to more than 250,000 Kansas homes.

Carroll called the advertising from pro-abortion activists “incredibly deceptive and ultimately successful.”

“A lot of people worked really hard, we contacted a lot of voters, but the message that the pro-abortion movement was pushing, that this was going to lead to women literally dying, was more effective and salient,” Carroll said. “It really raises the stakes for upcoming elections and underscores how important it is that, both as a pro-life movement and individual pro-life candidates, need to be really clear about what it is that we stand for.”

That includes, she said, “that we are supporting protections for unborn children and women, and that we're not advocating for the criminalization of women or anything that's going to put moms in jeopardy.”

After the amendment’s failure, Carroll refused to be discouraged and looked to the future instead.

“We just won a 50-year-long battle to ensure that Americans could use the democratic process to make their voices heard and as disappointing as this decision was in Kansas, it is the people using the tools left to us by our founders and we must carry on,” she said, referring to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. “This is just the first of many opportunities that voters are going to have to make their voices heard on the life issue.”

She added: “We have to stay engaged and keep up the spirit of perseverance that has gotten us through these last five decades under Roe.” 

The vote has broad implications that extend past Kansas’ borders. It could indicate how other states will vote on abortion after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization — which overturned Roe and left abortion policy up to the states — and suggest where Americans stand on abortion ahead of the midterm elections in November.

Carroll said that the vote’s impact on the midterm elections “really depends on what pro-life candidates take away from this.”

“Our sincere hope is that pro-life candidates will remember the responsibility that they have to go on offense to explain to voters what they believe and to define their political opponents on this issue,” she said. “Otherwise they will be defined by the pro-abortion people.”

Life is a winning issue, she stressed.

“Life is always morally right, it still is politically smart, it just requires action on the part of candidates,” she said. 

Carroll expressed concern about one area: the overall idea that there could be more ballot initiatives. 

This is because, she said, this “hasn't been historically an area that the pro-life movement has focused on” as a way to effect change.

“We haven't spent a ton of time working on ballot initiatives, so if this is an area where the pro-abortion movement thinks now that they can win, we could see more of them,” she said, “and we're going to have to up our game and ability to engage in these types of races.”

Britney Spears’ wedding: Who can get married in a Catholic church?

Britney Spears (L) and Sam Asghari arrive at the premiere of Sony Pictures' "Once Upon A Time ... In Hollywood" at the Chinese Theatre on July 22, 2019 in Hollywood, California. The couple wed in June 2022. / Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Aug 4, 2022 / 14:30 pm (CNA).

American pop star Britney Spears is expressing frustration after reportedly being unable to get married at a Catholic church. But there are four main requirements to have a Catholic church wedding, a priest tells CNA.

In a since-deleted Instagram post, Spears reportedly shared a photo Wednesday of another couple’s wedding inside St. Monica Catholic Church in Santa Monica, near Los Angeles.

“This is where I originally wanted to get married during COVID!!!! I wanted to go every Sunday,” she wrote, commenting on the church’s beauty. “[T]hey said it was temporarily shut down due to COVID!!!! Then 2 years later when I wanted to get married there they said I had to be catholic and go through TEST!!! Isn't church supposed to be open to all???”

A church representative later told TMZ that there was no record of Spears requesting to be married there. Her post came after she celebrated her wedding with actor Sam Asghari in June.

In response to Spears’ story, Father Matthew P. Schneider, LC, who teaches theology at Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, North Carolina, outlined four main requirements for a wedding to take place in a Catholic church.

Either the bride or groom must be Catholic and free from any impediments, such as marriage to another person. Both the bride and groom must “intend what the Church does,” including recognizing marriage as something permanent, exclusive, and open to life. 

They must also plan to raise their children Catholic.

Schneider stressed that the Catholic Church welcomes all, even with these requirements. 

“The Catholic Church is open to all, but for many to have a wedding in a Catholic church requires becoming Catholic & agreeing to Catholic teaching,” he tweeted. “Many other religions would be similar: for example, I doubt a synagogue would hold a wedding if neither spouse was Jewish.”

He spoke more specifically with CNA about Spears’ faith.

“It is not clear from public information what Britney Spears' canonical status is,” he said, referring to her status with the Catholic Church. “She was baptized a Baptist; then in 2021 she stated she was Catholic, but now she says she can't get married in a Catholic church because she is not Catholic.”

In 2021, Spears announced in a since-deleted Instagram post that she is Catholic and attends Mass. Spears has repeatedly posted prayers, including the Hail Mary, on social media. Her Instagram bio reminds people to “Pray Every Day.” 

While Spears was raised Baptist, several of her family members are practicing Catholics, including her mother, Lynne Spears, her sister, Jamie Lynn, and her nieces, Maddie Aldridge and Ivey Joan Watson, CNA previously reported.

“Is she a catechumen, formally received into the Catholic Church, or still a Baptist with some interest in Catholicism?” Schneider asked.

He also referenced Spears’ two previous marriages, adding that, “to be married in a Catholic church, she would need to get annulments on those."