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Posted on 09/22/2023 16:25 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
CNA Staff, Sep 22, 2023 / 12:25 pm (CNA).
Following a report that Pope Francis and Vatican officials held a meeting earlier this month to discuss requesting the resignation of Tyler, Texas, Bishop Joseph Strickland, the prelate said on Wednesday he has not been contacted by the Vatican about such matters.
In addition, Strickland said if Pope Francis were to remove him from office he would respect the Holy Father’s authority but would not resign if asked.
“Last week an article was published on a website called ‘The Pillar,’ and the article alleged that a meeting was held with Pope Francis where some of the members of the Congregation for Bishops recommended that I be encouraged to resign as bishop of Tyler,” Strickland said in a Sept. 20 letter to his diocese.
“Let me be clear that I have received no communication from Rome regarding this. At this point it is simply an article discussing supposed leaked information from the Vatican,” he added.
“I have said publicly that I cannot resign as bishop of Tyler because that would be me abandoning the flock that I was given charge of by Pope Benedict XVI,” he said.
“I have also said that I will respect the authority of Pope Francis if he removes me from office as bishop of Tyler,” he added.
The reported meeting follows a Vatican-directed investigation into Strickland in June called an apostolic visitation, which, according to a source, addressed the firebrand bishop’s social media use but also questions related to diocesan management.
Strickland, 64, who has served as bishop of the Diocese of Tyler since 2012, has been outspoken on certain Catholic social issues such as abortion and gender ideology.
He has also been critical of Pope Francis, saying in a May Tweet that he rejects “his program of undermining the Deposit of Faith.”
Strickland’s statement on Wednesday marks his first public response following a Sept. 11 article by The Pillar, which, citing anonymous sources, reported that Pope Francis was to be presented with the findings of the apostolic visitation and would be encouraged to request the Tyler bishop’s resignation.
Strickland said he has not been contacted by any Church official since the apostolic visitation. He added that he wasn’t given a reason for why the visitation occurred and hasn’t received a report from the investigation.
Strickland said he is grateful for the support and prayers that many have expressed.
“I continue to love serving as your shepherd and thankfully during all of this I have been able to visit many of your parishes and celebrate our Catholic faith with you,” he said.
Strickland said he is “blessed” in his prayer life and feels “very close” to Christ, and supported by the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints.
“I am at peace with whatever the Lord’s call for me is; let us continue to pray for Pope Francis, the Church, and the Diocese of Tyler that we call home,” he said.
In a July podcast, Strickland said that the apostolic visitation was “not fun” and added that the Vatican’s delegates were “looking at everything.”
The bishop compared it to “being called to the principal’s office.”
“It’s not something that I would volunteer for, to go through an apostolic visitation,” he said. “It kind of puts a shadow over the diocese.”
“There have been some administrative issues, and I’m sure people are concerned,” he said. “I’m sure there are people saying that there must be something really bad, and something’s really gone wrong for this apostolic visitation [to happen].”
“I’ve got nothing to hide,” he said in an excerpt of the podcast posted to YouTube.
Crediting God and the Catholic faithful, Strickland said the diocese is in good financial condition.
He said he thinks he was subject to the visitation “because I’ve been bold enough and loved the Lord enough and his Church, simply preaching the truth.”
Posted on 09/22/2023 14:30 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 22, 2023 / 10:30 am (CNA).
Global leaders adopted a United Nations resolution this week that urged member states to take certain actions when preparing for and responding to a pandemic — one of those actions appears to ask governments to secure access to abortion.
The resolution’s language states that the focus is “pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response” and asks states to commit to actions that are “driven by equity and the respect for human rights.” The section focused on equality includes a commitment by states to protecting “reproductive rights.”
“[We] call upon member states to take all measures necessary to ensure the right of women and girls to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health, including sexual and reproductive health, and reproductive rights,” operative paragraph 10 of the global “call to action” reads in part.
United Nations General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding and member states have wide discretion in how they interpret the text. However, some pro-life lawmakers are concerned about the language.
“And, for the pro-life community, they are now seeing that the work isn’t just here at home, it’s not just in our state capitols, it’s not just here on Capitol Hill,” Cammack said. “It’s a global fight that we have to undertake as well.”
The reproductive rights language was supported and endorsed by President Joe Biden’s administration earlier this year. In February, United States U.N. Ambassador Pamela K. Hamamoto specifically requested that the language be included.
“Our work must be inclusive and applicable for the improved health and well-being of all people,” Hamamoto said in her statement to the U.N. regarding the pandemic resolution.
“A commitment to ‘equity’ must address inequities not only between countries but also within them,” Hamamoto continued. “Not just protecting populations from pandemics — but also from illness, death, and disrupted access to essential health care services during pandemics, including sexual and reproductive health services.”
Stefano Gennarini, the vice president for legal studies at the Center for Family and Human Rights, told “EWTN News Nightly” that pressure from the Biden administration indicates that this section of the resolution is about global abortion access.
“We know, given the Biden administration’s support for abortion, we know this to mean an attempt essentially to create an international right to abortion,” Gennarini said.
World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus issued a statement praising the resolution. His statement referenced the WHO’s support for equity in health care but did not reference the statement on reproductive rights.
“I welcome this commitment by world leaders to provide the political support and direction needed so that WHO, governments, and all involved can protect people’s health and take concrete steps towards investing in local capacities, ensuring equity and supporting the global emergency health architecture that the world needs,” Ghebreyesus said.
The WHO is working with U.N. member states to amend international health regulations that focus on issues that arose during the pandemic.
Posted on 09/21/2023 20:20 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 21, 2023 / 16:20 pm (CNA).
The United States Senate began confirming military appointments one by one on Wednesday to bypass a pro-life blockade led by Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville, which has been holding up the usually routine process since February.
Military promotions and appointments to fill vacancies are normally approved in large blocks through the unanimous consent of the Senate, but one senator refusing to consent forces the chamber to take the votes up individually. Tuberville has blocked unanimous consent for seven months in protest of the Department of Defense’s pro-abortion policies.
A new policy adopted last year provides paid leave and reimbursement of travel expenses for service members to obtain abortions, which was meant to increase access to abortion for anyone living in or stationed in states that impose restrictions on the procedure. It also covers travel costs for spouses or dependents to obtain abortions.
On Wednesday, the Senate voted 83-11 to confirm its first individual military appointment since Tuberville’s blockade began: Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. as chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Senate confirmed two more appointments individually on Thursday — Gen. Randy George as Army chief of staff and Gen. Eric Smith as commandant of the Marine Corps — but it’s unclear whether other nominees will get individual votes anytime soon.
The blockade has caused a backlog of more than 300 appointments.
Before Wednesday’s vote, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the blockade forced leadership “to confront his obstruction head on” by holding a vote but added that “this cannot continue.” He said the appointment would be confirmed, the DOD policy would remain in place, and Tuberville “will have accomplished nothing.”
“What Sen. Tuberville is doing will set the military and the Senate down a path to vote on every single military promotion,” Schumer said. “It will make every single military officer’s promotion subject to the political whims of the Senate and even of one senator. It will change the nature of our nonpolitical military. It will hamstring the Senate and further bog down this body and make it harder for us to legislate.”
Tuberville responded to Schumer’s comments when speaking on the Senate floor later that day, saying that the Senate “could have confirmed these nominees a long, long time ago” but that Democrats have instead “spent months complaining about having to vote.” He said he will continue his blockade but blamed the backlog on Schumer for not holding any individual votes on the appointments.
“My hold is still in place,” Tuberville said. “The hold will remain in place as long as the Pentagon’s illegal abortion policy remains in place. If the Pentagon lifts the policy, then I will lift my hold. It’s as easy as that.”
After the confirmation, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin thanked Schumer for holding the vote and criticized Tuberville for continuing his blockade.
“Sen. Tuberville’s continued hold on hundreds of our nation’s military leaders endangers our national security and military readiness,” Austin said in a statement. “It is well past time to confirm the over 300 other military nominees.”
Austin said Brown “will be a tremendous leader of our joint force and I look forward to working with him in his new capacity” and that the nominees are “well-qualified” and “apolitical.”
Federal law prohibits DOD funds from being “used to perform abortions except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term or in a case in which the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.” Although the statute does not expressly prohibit funding for travel to obtain an abortion, some Republicans have argued that such funds violate the statute. President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice told the DOD that such funding is permissible under the law.
Republicans have introduced legislation that would expressly prohibit agencies from funding ancillary expenses related to obtaining an abortion, but those efforts have failed in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Posted on 09/21/2023 19:46 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Charlotte, N.C., Sep 21, 2023 / 15:46 pm (CNA).
The National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Maryland, is opening a new $4 million state-of-the-art Seton Shrine Museum and Visitor Center on Sept. 22, offering visitors an interactive encounter with the first American-born canonized saint.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774–1821), a widowed mother, opened one of the first free Catholic schools for girls in the United States and established the first order of women religious in the country — the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph — on the very grounds where her shrine and the new museum and visitor center are located. She was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1975.
The shrine includes St. Elizabeth Ann’s original “Stone House” and “White House” as well as the basilica. With the addition of the museum and visitors center, pilgrims to the shrine now have the opportunity to immerse themselves in her life by walking in her footsteps where she lived and served, and through interactive displays and exhibits in the museum that are rich in American history and the history of the Catholic Church in America.
What was formerly the provincial entrance near the basilica has been transformed into a modern and welcoming visitor center, seamlessly connecting visitors to the gift shop and museum galleries. Inside, the galleries paint an intimate portrait of Mother Seton through dozens of artifacts, visual storytelling displays, and digital interactive exhibits.
The museum houses three core galleries: the SEEKER exhibit, which delves into Mother Seton’s troubled childhood, fairytale marriage, bankruptcy, widowhood, and conversion to Catholicism; the SERVANT exhibit, which explores how Mother Seton founded a new community of consecrated religious and pioneered a way for women in America to serve God; and the SAINT exhibit, which provides insights into the dedicated efforts of thousands of Americans across four generations for Mother Seton to be declared a saint.
“One of my favorite exhibits is an exhibit which consists of a digital touch screen, showcasing the 14 Sisters of Charity communities,” said Rob Judge, executive director of the shrine. “The impact exhibit allows visitors to look all around the world at all the past and present missions that the hundreds of sisters have worked in over the years, showcasing the huge impact they’ve had in serving the poor. And it all came from a woman who decided to start a school after she was widowed and invited other women to join her.”
Judge notes that Elizabeth Ann Seton never set out to build a huge network. “That’s the beauty of it. If we are faithful one step at a time, that is available to all of us. The impact exhibit helps make that clear. Her life and work developed into so much more than founding a school. By a simple yes, so much good has been done,” he told CNA.
In addition to the permanent exhibits, the museum also features two special exhibits that will be on display for a limited time.
The first is “Fancywork: Early American Needlework from St. Joseph’s Academy and Free School,” an exhibit with more than 20 pieces of needlework dating from the early 1800s to the 1870s and the stories of the students behind the works.
The second is “Getting in the Habit: Iconic Clothing of the Daughters of Charity,” which displays dozens of historic artifacts that explore the ranging apparel of the Daughters of Charity throughout the years, exhibited by the Daughter of Charity Province of St. Louise, Provincial Archives.
“This story from 200 years ago is worth telling today through this state-of-the-art facility,” said Tony Dilulio, director of programs for the shrine and a wealth of knowledge when it comes to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Dilulio coordinated the experts involved in the lighting, exhibits, and design — many of whom also created landmarks such as presidential libraries.
“I would love to challenge every visitor to be a ‘servant saint seeker.’ To seek God as St. Elizabeth Ann Seton did. To work as diligently as she did her whole life, and to be a saint!” Dilulio added.
With the addition of the new museum and visitors center, the shrine anticipates a significant increase in pilgrims, which averages 60,000 visitors annually.
“We need models and intercessors, and she’s par excellence,” Judge said. “We’re hoping that through these exhibits people get to know her a bit. She’s a very relatable saint. In order to relate to someone you have to know something about them. We hope this museum allows people to relate to her and get to know her better and seek her intercession in their lives.”
The Mass, blessing, and dedication Sept. 22 will be presided over by Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore. More information on the Seton Shrine Museum can be found on the shrine’s website.
Posted on 09/21/2023 18:53 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
CNA Staff, Sep 21, 2023 / 14:53 pm (CNA).
A group of pro-life students who participated in a demonstration at a North Carolina college last week during a visit to campus by Vice President Kamala Harris say they were escorted off campus by police for their own safety after being harassed by a large crowd.
Harris’ speech at North Carolina A&T University on Sept. 15 was part of her “Fight for Our Freedoms College Tour,” an effort to mobilize college students to vote and support the Democratic agenda on a variety of issues, including the expansion of abortion.
Before the event, a number of students holding signs with pro-life messages such as “abortion hurts women” and “fight for our freedoms” gathered on the Greensboro, North Carolina, campus.
According to members of the group, they engaged in positive dialogue with students on campus. When the vice president’s speech was over, however, things got ugly.
A video shared on X shows a crowd of young people stealing signs from the pro-life activists who were brought together by the group Students for Life of America.
One young man can be seen taking the Students for Life group’s marker and sign and writing “BLM,” otherwise known as Black Lives Matter, on it. The crowd cheered as he raised the sign and danced around.
Two others can be seen on video holding up signs that say “F*** dem kids,” while the crowd is heard chanting the same.
Other profanities could be heard being shouted at the pro-life group. Photos from the protest show the pro-life group being taunted with obscene hand gestures. The group also claims they were “twerked on” (a type of suggestive dancing), which several photos confirm.
One of the Students for Life of America student leaders, Lydia Taylor, told CNA Wednesday that as the “mob” closed in on her and was waving signs in her face, the police intervened.
“They immediately came in and said, ‘We have to go now’ and pulled us out of the mob. We were forced to leave a lot of our stuff behind,” the 20-year old said.
While @ncatsuaggies students yelled “F*ck ‘Dem Kids” and “Black Lives Matter,” SFLA Student Leaders Lydia Taylor, Jessica Newell & Pro-Life Force tried their best to protect their belongings & correct the abortion lobby’s false narrative — because Black Preborn Lives Matter, too. pic.twitter.com/B6j5tk025V— Students for Life Action (@SFLAction) September 16, 2023
The group ended up retrieving a bull horn, microphone, and some speakers but lost some of their signs and materials that are used at other pro-life demonstrations.
“It was so chaotic,” she said.
Taylor, who organized the group of about 10 pro-life students from across the state, is a student at Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina, about an hour and 20-minute drive away from where the protest took place.
When she heard about the vice president’s plan to talk about expanding abortion access at college campuses in states across the country, including her own, she felt called to spring into action.
“We need to go and stand up against her pro-abortion extremism, especially since she supports abortion with no restrictions up until the moment of birth,” she said.
During her speech at the university, Harris called for greater access to abortion in the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
“One does not have to abandon their faith, or deeply held beliefs, to agree that the government should not be telling [a woman] what to do with her body,” Harris said, taking issue with what she called “extremist so-called leaders” passing state pro-life laws.
The vice president criticized those laws, especially those being passed without rape and incest exceptions, calling them “immoral.”
“What the [Supreme] Court took away, Congress can put back in place. Congress can pass a law that puts back in place the protections of a case called Roe v. Wade, which gives you the right to make decisions for yourself,” she told the crowd, urging them to vote for lawmakers who will do so.
Taylor told CNA that before the crowd of students harassed them, her group had many positive conversations with students attending the vice president’s event on campus.
“We changed at least 10 minds and have connected with students there that are interested in starting a pro-life group, which was incredible,” she said.
Other university students approached Taylor expressing support for the pro-life cause, she said.
It was after the talk that things went south.
“I think it’s interesting that it went peacefully before the Kamala Harris event, but after hearing her speak, immediately, the first thing they did was come and harass us and vandalize our signs,” she said.
After someone wrote “Black Lives Matter” on the pro-life group’s sign, Taylor said: “Hey, we actually agree that Black lives do matter, and the abortion industry is targeting Black lives, and we’d love to have a peaceful conversation with you.”
But the crowd, which she said numbered in the hundreds, just became more aggressive.
CNA reached out to the university for a comment but did not receive a response.
Posted on 09/21/2023 08:00 AM (CNA Daily News - US)
CNA Staff, Sep 21, 2023 / 04:00 am (CNA).
Sept. 21 marks the feast day of St. Matthew, also known as Levi, an apostle of Jesus and, according to tradition, the author of one of the four Gospels.
Surprisingly little is known for certain about Matthew’s life, even though his Gospel is so crucial for the Church. The manner of Matthew’s calling by Jesus is well known — Matthew was a Jew but worked as a tax collector for the Romans in Capernaum near the Sea of Galilee, making him a pariah among his own people. When Jesus called Matthew to follow him, Matthew gave up his presumably materialistic life as a tax collector to follow the Lord.
Jesus’ calling of Matthew led some religious authorities of the Jewish community to wonder: “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” To which Jesus responded: “I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
The Catholic Encyclopedia notes, however, that no further reference is made to Matthew in the Gospels, except in the list of the Apostles, and “of Matthew’s subsequent career we have only inaccurate or legendary data.” It appears though, according to a number of other ancient sources, that he evangelized for at least a decade and a half in Asia.
Matthew’s earthly body is purported to lie in the crypt beneath the cathedral of Salerno, Italy. In the crypt, a bronze St. Matthew made by Michelangelo Naccherino in 1606 sits above the altar. The saint is shown writing the Gospel with a book resting on his left knee and a pen in his right hand. At his left side, an angel hands him an inkwell as he writes his Gospel.
Alfano I, the archbishop of Salerno from 1058–1085, completed the crypt in 1081 and placed Matthew’s body in the sepulcher. The renovation in the early 17th century was carried out by architects Domenico and his son Giulio Cesare Fontana.
According to legend, St. Matthew’s intercession helped to protect the city in 1544 from the dreaded pirate Ariadeno Barbarossa, supreme commander of the Turkish military fleet, when a storm that had been prayed for by devotees to St. Matthew in Salerno blew Barbarossa’s fleet away from the city.
Eastern Catholics and the Orthodox churches celebrate St. Matthew on Nov. 16, along with St. Fulvianus, a prince who is recorded in some traditions as converting from paganism after Matthew’s martyrdom.
Pope Benedict said in 2006 that “in the figure of Matthew, the Gospels present to us a true and proper paradox: those who seem to be the farthest from holiness can even become a model of the acceptance of God’s mercy and offer a glimpse of its marvelous effects in their own lives.
Posted on 09/20/2023 23:25 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 20, 2023 / 19:25 pm (CNA).
Attorney General Merrick Garland strongly objected to accusations that the Department of Justice would discriminate against Catholic Americans during a House Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday.
Garland called the suggestion of anti-Catholic bias “outrageous” and “absurd” when questioned about a memo that originated with the Richmond Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The memo, dated Jan. 23 and leaked to the media in February, revealed an FBI Richmond investigation into “radical traditionalist” Catholics and their possible ties to “the far-right white nationalist movement.” It suggested “trip wire or source development” within Latin Mass communities to mitigate risks.
The FBI quickly retracted the memo shortly after it was made public. Both Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray have condemned the memo.
During the hearing on Wednesday, Rep. Jeff Van Drew questioned Garland about the memo, which led to a tense exchange.
“Do you agree that traditional Catholics are violent extremists?” Van Drew asked Garland.
“I have no idea what ‘traditional’ means here,” Garland responded. “...The idea that someone with my family background would discriminate against any religion is so outrageous, so absurd.”
Garland, who is Jewish, has spoken about his family escaping persecution in Europe. He said in a speech in April that his grandmother was one of five children. He said that she escaped religious persecution before World War I but that two of her siblings remained in Europe and were ultimately killed during the Holocaust.
Van Drew pressed Garland further, saying: “It was your FBI that … was sending undercover agents into Catholic churches.” He asked Garland whether he believes that traditionalist Catholics are extremists.
Garland stated that he was “appalled by that memo” and told Van Drew that “Catholics are not extremists.” However, the attorney general said he did not know whether anyone was fired for drafting or circulating the memo.
Posted on 09/20/2023 22:50 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 20, 2023 / 18:50 pm (CNA).
As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is making his case to the United Nations and the U.S. Congress for more military aid against Russia, a growing number of Republican lawmakers have expressed reservations about sending the country tens of billions of additional taxpayer dollars.
“While Russia is pushing the world to the final war, Ukraine is doing everything to ensure that after Russian aggression, no one in the world will dare to attack any nation,” Zelenskyy said at the United Nations meeting in New York City on Tuesday as he urged foreign leaders to stand against Russia.
“Weaponization must be restrained,” Zelenskyy said. “War crimes must be punished. Deported people must come back home. And the occupier must return to their own land.”
During Zelenskyy’s trip to the United States, he also plans to visit Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Congress about additional aid to support Ukraine’s military effort against Russia’s invasion. The United States has already approved more than $113 billion in humanitarian and military support for Ukraine throughout the war, but President Joe Biden is asking Congress to approve another $24 billion in emergency funding for Ukraine.
Growing hesitation among Republicans
Most Republican lawmakers and every Democratic lawmaker have supported previous Ukrainian funding packages, but opposition to additional aid is growing within the Republican Party. Some polls have shown a slim majority of Republican voters opposing more aid to Ukraine and more Republican lawmakers are hesitant to support Biden’s request for emergency funding.
“Is Zelenskyy elected to Congress?” Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told a press gaggle when asked whether he will commit to more funding for Ukraine’s war effort this week.
“Is [Zelenksyy] our president?” McCarthy continued. “I don’t think I have to commit [to] anything. I have questions for him. Where’s the accountability in the money we already spent? What is the plan for victory? I think that’s what the American public wants to know.”
McCarthy famously promised that Republican leadership would not write a “blank check” to Ukraine last year but has consistently voted to support aid for the war effort. Other Republican lawmakers who have voted for aid, such as Republican Reps. Mike Garcia and Nancy Mace, have also suggested that Congress focus on domestic needs instead.
Republican Rep. Lisa McClain said in a statement to CNA that “Vladimir Putin’s illegal and aggressive invasion of Ukraine is reprehensible” and that “the United States has stood with Ukraine in this war since day one,” but she also warned that the United States is falling short of domestic obligations.
“To write another check for a foreign war while we still haven’t given relief aid to Maui or East Palestine is a big ask that will not be met with open arms,” McClain said. “I think all Republicans have no issue standing in solidarity with Ukraine, but we have real problems here at home that need to be addressed first.”
Republican Rep. Paul Gosar, who has taken a strong stance against military aid to Ukraine since the beginning of the war, told CNA in a statement provided by his office that he will continue to oppose any funding requests “to perpetuate the needless death and destruction on both sides in this war.”
“Our nation is under attack at the southern border, inflation is at an historic high, and our country is buried in $33 trillion national debt,” Gosar said. “Anyone in Congress who thinks differently should spend more time away from Washington, D.C., because most Americans are fed up with the war and the endless spending. Congress should stop wasting money in Ukraine and focus on America’s needs.”
Will it be enough to block more aid?
In spite of this growing movement, some members of Republican leadership believe this faction is still a minority of the party’s elected officials. When contacted by CNA, Republican Rep. Michael McCaul’s office referred to statements the congressman made to CNN this week.
“I do think the majority of the majorities in both [the] House and Senate support this effort [to provide additional aid to Ukraine],” McCaul, the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said.
“We’ll be meeting with Zelenskyy on Thursday,” McCaul continued. “... But I think we also need answers. … A lot of members want to know, ‘What is the plan for victory? Why aren’t we putting the weapons into Ukraine that they need to win rather than a slow bleeding survival rate that was counterproductive to the counteroffensive?’”
Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has also maintained staunch support for military aid to Ukraine in the country’s fight against Russia. While speaking in the Senate this week, McConnell doubled down on support for aid to Ukraine.
“Tomorrow, I’ll join colleagues in welcoming President Zelenskyy to the Capitol,” McConnell said. “I’ll continue to make the case myself for sustained support for the Ukrainian cause, not out of charity, but out of a primary focus on Americans’ interests.”
Support for continued aid to Ukraine has also remained strong among Democratic lawmakers, who have not seen a similar opposition movement rising from within their party.
Posted on 09/20/2023 22:10 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 20, 2023 / 18:10 pm (CNA).
Texas Republican Rep. Chip Roy and 25 House Republicans introduced a resolution Tuesday to repeal the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, a law that has been used extensively by the Biden administration to penalize pro-life activists.
Passed in 1994, the FACE Act imposes criminal penalties on individuals convicted of “violent, threatening, damaging, and obstructive conduct” that interferes with access to abortion clinics, places of worship, and pregnancy centers.
The resolution introduced by Roy in the House and sponsored by Utah Senator Mike Lee in the Senate would repeal the FACE Act on the grounds that it is an unconstitutional use of federal power and that it has been weaponized against people of certain religious and political beliefs.
In a Monday press release Roy said that “free Americans should never live in fear of their government targeting them because of their beliefs. Yet, Biden's Department of Justice has brazenly weaponized the FACE Act against normal, everyday Americans across the political spectrum, simply because they are pro-life.”
“Our Constitution separates power between the federal government and the states for a reason, and we ignore that safeguard at our own peril,” Roy went on. “The FACE Act is an unconstitutional federal takeover of state police powers; it must be repealed.”
Roy also led an unsuccessful effort to prohibit taxpayer funding from being used to enforce the FACE Act in April.
How has the FACE Act been used?
Though churches and pregnancy centers are included in the FACE Act, in the last year only four people have been charged for attacks on churches and pregnancy centers, despite over 100 attacks.
During Wednesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing, Roy questioned Biden Administration Attorney General Merrick Garland about bias in the FACE Act’s application.
“Are you concerned that enforcement of the FACE Act has been biased towards pro-lifers over anti-life protestors 126 to 4,” Roy asked Garland. “126 times against pro-lifers, versus 4 times.”
Most recently, three pro-life activists — Joan Bell, 74, Jean Marshall, 73, and Jonathan Darnel, 41 — were found guilty on Sept. 15 of felonies related to the FACE Act that could land them up to 11 years in prison and fines as much as $350,000.
The Biden Department of Justice alleged that the three activists engaged in a conspiracy to create a blockade of an abortion clinic in an October 2022 protest in Washington D.C.
Another eight pro-life activists in Michigan were charged with FACE Act violations in February.
The most notable FACE Act charge was made against Mark Houck, a Pennsylvania father of seven, who made national headlines when he was arrested by armed authorities at his home on Sept. 23, 2022. Houck was eventually cleared of all charges in January.
New Jersey Republican Rep. Chris Smith, a co-sponsor, said in a press release Tuesday, that “the FACE Act prescribes harsh, mean-spirited punishments when pro-life individuals engage in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience — the staple of the human rights and civil rights movements.”
“Under the FACE Act, peaceful actions like holding a sign, singing a hymn, or praying the Rosary, if conducted near an abortion mill, can result in jail sentences, massive fines, and punitive damages by the party that feels it has been offended,” he said.
“The Biden Administration has weaponized the FACE Act, singling out nonviolent pro-life advocates and punishing them as felons,” Smith continued. “At the same time, there has been no documented arrest in over 80 instances of violent attacks, firebombing, and vandalism by pro-abortion activists in a coordinated effort to intimidate front-line volunteers and licensed medical professionals providing critical support to mothers in need and their unborn baby boys and girls.”
Posted on 09/20/2023 18:32 PM (CNA Daily News - US)
CNA Staff, Sep 20, 2023 / 14:32 pm (CNA).
A monthlong nationwide college tour by Vice President Kamala Harris, meant in part to promote the expansion of abortion under law, has prompted repudiation from pro-life advocates.
The tour, announced Sept. 7, is aimed at bringing together “thousands of students for high-energy, large-scale events” focused on “key issues that disproportionately impact young people across the country — from reproductive freedom and gun safety to climate action, voting rights, LGBTQ+ equality, and book bans.”
Harris is set to visit “around a dozen campuses in at least seven states,” including historically Black colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions, community colleges, apprenticeship programs, and state schools, the White House said. Most of the states Harris will visit, such as Virginia and North Carolina, are considered swing states in U.S. presidential elections.
Harris’ most recent stop was at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro on Sept. 15. In her speech, which focused mainly on voting rights, Harris urged voters to support, among other things, the “freedom to make decisions about your own body.”
“One does not have to abandon their faith, or deeply held beliefs, to agree that the government should not be telling [a woman] what to do with her body,” Harris said, taking issue with what she called “extremist so-called leaders” passing state pro-life laws. The vice president criticized those laws, especially those being passed without rape and incest exceptions, calling them “immoral.”
“What the [Supreme] Court took away, Congress can put back in place. Congress can pass a law that puts back in place the protections of a case called Roe v. Wade, which gives you the right to make decisions for yourself,” she told the crowd, urging them to vote for lawmakers who will do so.
Harris has long been considered a champion of the abortion industry, raking in numerous endorsements and campaign contributions from pro-abortion organizations. She and President Joe Biden, a Catholic, have on numerous occasions jointly reaffirmed their support for abortion and condemned efforts by pro-life lawmakers to enact restrictions on abortion.
In recent months, Harris has lamented the growing number of states that have restricted abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and encouraged Congress to enact pro-abortion legislation, drawing ire from national pro-life groups.
SBA Pro-Life America, a national advocacy organization, condemned Harris’ urging the young people in attendance to use their votes to expand access to abortion.
“Vice President Kamala Harris just kicked off her ‘Abortion Activism Around America’ tour aimed at indoctrinating our young people. Today, she spoke in the beautiful and vibrant state of North Carolina. While there, she continued to push her no-limits abortion-on-demand beliefs. But Harris needs to understand that North Carolinians do not support her radical approach,” said Michelle Ashley, SBA Pro-Life America’s North Carolina state director.
“In fact, the majority of North Carolinians want serious limits on abortions, wanting no elective abortions after the first trimester,” Ashley continued, citing a poll SBA conducted in January.
“This belief stands in complete opposition to the Biden-Harris administration’s stance. I’m grateful to the brave North Carolinians who stand fearlessly for life in the face of this current administration’s nationwide no-limits pro-abortion push.”
Students for Life of America (SFLA) staged a protest in North Carolina ahead of Harris’ arrival and said they were directed by university police to stand in a “free speech area.” The group said that despite some resistance from students, a number of “genuinely curious students approached us, wanting to hear more about our beliefs and resources. Several minds were changed.”
“Unfortunately, after Harris’ event ended, a large mob surrounded us, and chaos ensued,” SFLA member Lydia Taylor narrated.
“When they shouted ‘Black Lives Matter,’ I told them that pro-lifers agree with them and that the abortion industry was targeting Black lives in the womb. Together, we could protect those Black babies — but sadly, this made them even more aggressive. Finally, the police came through the mob to get us out and to safety. We were forced to leave some of our property behind in the chaos, and the deserted signs were torn up immediately and vandalized further.”
The day before Harris arrived in North Carolina, SFLA president Kristan Hawkins sent a letter to Harris inviting her to debate the issue of abortion on a college campus. Hawkins is making her own college tour this fall and both women are stopping at Northern Arizona University, albeit on different dates.
“The administration that you help lead fights for abortion through all nine months, for any reason, with taxpayer funding, up to and including infanticide. Throw in the attacks on conscience rights and states passing pro-life laws, and it’s clear that your administration is working to earn the money that Planned Parenthood Action and others have invested in your agenda,” Hawkins wrote in part.
“While this is well known to those of us who track this human rights policy, for most students on college and university campuses, the extent of the radial abortion agenda of the Biden-Harris administration is more camouflaged by rhetoric about ‘access’ and ‘justice.’”
The pro-life group National Right to Life responded the day before Harris’ North Carolina stop, on Sept. 14, saying the Biden administration has “employed a whole-of-government approach to promoting abortion, using every lever of power at its disposal to make abortions more available and more common, with no thought of the innocent unborn children who would die.”
“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have made unlimited abortion throughout pregnancy a priority issue,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life.
“The Biden-Harris abortion agenda is extreme and out of step with the majority of Americans.”
Harris’ next stop will be at Morehouse College, a historically Black men's liberal arts college in Atlanta, on Sept. 26, according to the White House website.