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Read about the five Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade

Left to right, Supreme Court associate justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Brett M. Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, and Neil M. Gorsuch. / Courtesy of Supreme Court

Denver Newsroom, Jun 24, 2022 / 09:15 am (CNA).

The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade with its landmark Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision, issued Friday. 

For the first time in almost 50 years, the debate over legal abortion returns to the individual U.S. states, allowing many states to protect the lives of the unborn. 

Such protection efforts will still face strong opposition from foes who say individual autonomy should trump the right to life, and Congressional Democrats have pushed for federal legislation they say would “codify” Roe.

Though the Dobbs decision falls short of nationwide protections for the unborn, it nonetheless represents a major victory for the decades of pro-life efforts to cultivate and promote jurists capable of rejecting Roe’s deeply troubling precedent and allowing the country to chart a different path.

The majority opinion, authored by Justice Samuel Alito, was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. Thomas and Kavanaugh also filed concurring opinions.

Chief Justice John Roberts filed an opinion concurring in the judgement, in which he advocated for a more narrow ruling.

"The Court’s decision to overrule Roe and Casey is a serious jolt to the legal system—regardless of how you view those cases," his opinion reads. "A narrower decision rejecting the misguided viability line would be markedly less unsettling, and nothing more is needed to decide this case."

"My point is that Roe adopted two distinct rules of constitutional law: one, that a woman has the right to choose to terminate a pregnancy; two, that such right may be overridden by the State’s legitimate interests when the fetus is viable outside the womb," he added at another point. "The latter is obviously distinct from the former. I would abandon that timing rule, but see no need in this case to consider the basic right."

Here are the justices who voted to end Roe v. Wade.

Associate Justice Samuel J. Alito Jr.

Alito is the author of the Dobbs decision. Now 72, he was nominated to the Supreme Court by President George W. Bush, where he has served since January 2006. He replaced Reagan nominee Justice Sandra Day O’Connor upon her retirement.

Alito outlined his philosophy in a January 2006 hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

“A judge can’t have any agenda. A judge can’t have any preferred outcome in any particular case. And a judge certainly doesn’t have a client,” he said. “The judge’s only obligation — and it’s a solemn obligation — is to the rule of law, and what that means is that in every single case, the judge has to do what the law requires.”

Alito added that “there is nothing that is more important for our Republic than the rule of law. No person in this country, no matter how high or powerful, is above the law, and no person in this country is beneath the law.”

Associate Justice Samuel J. Alito Jr. Screenshot from YouTube video
Associate Justice Samuel J. Alito Jr. Screenshot from YouTube video

The justice’s other work has at times addressed religious and moral issues. Alito wrote the majority opinion in the 2014 Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case, which rebuked the Obama administration’s mandate that companies and others provide contraceptive coverage, including drugs that can cause abortions, in employee health plans. The mandate through the Department of Health and Human Services was particularly burdensome to Catholic organizations which reject contraception and abortifacients as unethical.

Alito also wrote a notable dissent from the majority opinion in the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges case, in which the Supreme Court held that the Constitution guarantees the right to same-sex marriage.

He is a practicing Catholic from a first-generation Italian-American family in Trenton, New Jersey. He is a graduate of Yale Law School and was an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1972 to 1980.

Alito gave the keynote address to the 2017 graduating class of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia and received an honorary doctorate from the seminary, presented by Philadelphia’s then-Archbishop Charles Chaput.

In his remarks to the seminarians, he emphasized the importance of religious freedom and anticipated more struggles to come in the face of political and cultural dangers. He also said his faith provides him meaning and purpose in life.

Alito’s nomination gave the Supreme Court its first Catholic majority. At the time of his nomination Eleanor Smeal, then-president of the group Feminist Majority, whose causes include legal abortion, noted this fact and voiced concern that the court majority “would underrepresent other religions, not to mention nonbelievers.” Smeal’s statement drew criticism from some Catholics.

Associate Justice Clarence Thomas

In 1991, Thomas was nominated by President George H. W. Bush to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first Black Supreme Court justice and a President Kennedy appointee who retired due to declining health.

Thomas, a Black man who grew up in segregated Georgia, has often had to reflect on the effects of race and racism in his life and in American history.

In a 2007 Supreme Court decision that ruled that race cannot be a factor in assigning children to public schools, rejecting a policy implemented to advance racial diversity, Thomas cited Justice John Marshall Harlan. In 1896 Harlan dissented from a pro-racial segregation ruling with the words: “Our Constitution is colorblind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.”

Before Thomas became a federal judge, he served in various public and private roles and was chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He was a Catholic seminarian at Conception Seminary in Conception, Missouri. He was one of the first African-Americans to graduate from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he later served as a trustee.

Allegations of sexual harassment, which Thomas strongly denied, made his 1991 confirmation hearings a major flashpoint of contention. His critics also opposed his judicial philosophy and worried how he might decide on various cases, including any reconsideration of Roe v. Wade.

Thomas has explicitly lamented abortion as a “tool of modern-day eugenics” that the court must eventually address. He made this argument in a 2019 solo opinion in the case Box v. Planned Parenthood, which concerned an Indiana ban on abortion based on race, sex, or disability of the unborn child.

 In his view, the foundation for legal abortion was built in the birth-control movement of the early 20th century, which developed alongside the eugenics movement. Eugenics claimed to advance the scientific improvement of the human population either through fostering births of “superior” humans or by preventing the births of “inferior” people, sometimes through coercive means including forced sterilization.

Thomas charged that Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger promoted birth control, though not abortion, “as a means of reducing the ‘ever increasing, unceasingly spawning class of human beings who never should have been born at all,” Thomas said, citing Sanger’s own words. Later abortion advocates, including Sanger collaborator Allan Guttmacher, “explicitly endorsed eugenic reasons for abortion,” the justice wrote.

Thomas lamented that previous Supreme Court decisions gave legitimacy and power to the eugenics movement and its coercive aspects. Prenatal screenings and other technologies, he warned, mean that “abortion can easily be used to eliminate children with unwanted characteristics” and he questioned why the right to a legal abortion should protect this.

At that time, Thomas agreed with the Supreme Court’s decision not to revisit lower courts’ injunction against the Indiana abortion regulation, pending further developments.

“Although the Court declines to wade into these issues today, we cannot avoid them forever,” said Thomas, who added, “the Constitution itself is silent on abortion.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

Thomas was born near Savannah, Georgia. He was raised by his grandfather, a Black Catholic convert, and his grandmother, a staunch Baptist. Thomas attended Catholic schools and would convert to Catholicism in his youth.

Though he entered a Catholic seminary, he left after the 1968 assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Thomas has said he was repelled by fellow seminarians’ disparaging comments about King. That experience led to years of distance from Catholicism, and years of involvement and interest in Black radicalism before he moved into conservative political circles. He returned to the practice of the Catholic faith after becoming a Supreme Court justice.

In a September 2021 address at the University of Notre Dame, Thomas said the example of his grandparents and the Catholic nuns who taught him helped instill the belief that all people were children of God and that the racist flaws of American society were a betrayal of its best promises. He said he did not heed his grandfather’s warnings and became disenchanted, embittered, cynical, and despondent until he once again returned to the beliefs taught to him in his childhood.

Thomas is married and has a son from a previous marriage. The 74-year-old justice is the longest-serving justice on the court.

Associate Justice Neil M. Gorsuch

Gorsuch was nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016. The vacancy became especially contentious, with Democrats strongly objecting that Senate Republicans should not have blocked then-President Barack Obama’s nomination of federal appellate court judge Merrick Garland. Garland would later become President Joe Biden’s attorney general.

Gorsuch’s approach to the U.S. Constitution tends to defer to elected legislatures. Federal judges should shun imposing their views on the laws as written, he said.

“If judges were just secret legislators, declaring not what the law is but what they would like it to be, the very idea of a government by the people and for the people would be at risk,” he said in his March 2017 confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“In my decade on the bench, I have tried to treat all who come before me fairly and with respect, and afford equal right to poor and to rich,” he added.

At his confirmation hearings, he acknowledged Roe v. Wade as settled precedent, though he declined to say whether it was decided correctly and how he would rule in future abortion cases.

Gorsuch holds a law degree from Harvard Law School and a doctorate from Oxford University, where he studied under the prominent natural law legal scholar John Finnis.

He authored the 2006 book “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia,” in which he explored various arguments made in favor of doctor-prescribed suicide and euthanasia before offering his own observations and opinions. He argued that "human life is fundamentally and inherently valuable,” and that “the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong." He supported laws that banned doctor-prescribed suicide, basing his arguments upon "secular moral theory.”

During his 2017 confirmation hearings, he said that the book was essentially his doctoral dissertation, written in his capacity as a commentator and not a judge. He published the book the same year he was nominated and confirmed to the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Gorsuch clerked for Reagan appointee Justice Anthony Kennedy, a longtime swing vote in key court decisions. Kennedy was a joint author of the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision which concerned abortion restrictions in Pennsylvania. That decision was a divided judgement. It allowed some abortion restrictions but refused to overturn Roe v. Wade, as pro-life advocates had hoped.

Gorsuch also clerked for President John F. Kennedy-appointee Justice Byron White, one of two justices to dissent from the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

White’s dissent, which Alito cites in the Dobbs decision, said there was “nothing in the language or history of the Constitution to support the Court’s judgment” legalizing abortion. White said the Supreme Court’s action in Roe was “an exercise of raw judicial power” and he objected to the invalidation of all state abortion laws. While not declaring a value judgement on abortion, he rejected the court’s choice both to impose “a constitutional barrier to state efforts to protect human life” and to invest “mothers and doctors with the constitutionally protected right to exterminate it.”

White was the only Democrat-appointed justice to join Justice Clarence Thomas and two other justices to dissent against Planned Parenthood v. Casey.  

Gorsuch’s time on the court is not without controversy. He wrote the majority opinion in Bostock v. Clayton County which ruled that a ban on sex discrimination in employment included sexual orientation and gender identity. The decision means that a funeral home cannot require male employees to dress like males or ban male employees from wearing dresses.

Gorsuch was born in Denver, Colorado. He is married with two daughters. He was raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools, including the Society of Jesus’ prestigious Georgetown Preparatory School in Maryland. He and his wife, a British citizen, were married at an Anglican church in England and they attend an Episcopalian church in Boulder, Colorado., where he has taught at the University of Colorado. His late uncle, John P. Gorsuch, was an Episcopal priest.

Associate Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh

Kavanaugh was born in Washington, D.C., and is a graduate of Yale Law School. Like Gorsuch, he was a law clerk for Justice Anthony Kennedy, and like Gorsuch, he attended the Jesuits’ Georgetown Preparatory School.

Kavanaugh has served as legal counsel to President George W. Bush and also as an Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary for the president, his biography on the Supreme Court website says.

President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh to fill the seat of Justice Kennedy, who retired in June 2018.

“A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law. A judge must interpret statutes as written, and a judge must interpret the Constitution as written, informed by history and tradition and precedent,” Kavanaugh said in his White House speech accepting the nomination.

“I will tell each senator that I revere the Constitution. I believe that an independent judiciary is the crown jewel of our constitutional republic,” he continued. “If confirmed by the Senate, I will keep an open mind in every case, and I will always strive to preserve the Constitution of the United States and of the American rule of law.”

Kavanaugh taught constitutional law for more than a decade at Harvard Law School. His acceptance speech noted that he had been hired by law school dean Elena Kagan, herself named to the Supreme Court by President Obama.

As a federal judge, Kavanaugh wrote a decision that prevented a pregnant undocumented minor in federal custody from receiving an abortion. The decision was overturned by a higher court.

Kavanaugh said he is “part of the vibrant Catholic community in the D.C. area,” adding, “the members of that community disagree about many things, but we are united by a commitment to serve.”

Kavanaugh had been a consistent volunteer at Catholic Charities, helping to serve food to the homeless several times a year.

Monsignor John Enzler, CEO and president of Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of Washington, is a longtime friend. Kavanaugh in childhood would assist the priest at Mass as an altar boy.

Kavanaugh is a married father of two and has served as a basketball coach for his two daughters’ basketball team.

Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh speaks before the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 27, 2018. YouTube screenshot via CBS News
Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh speaks before the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 27, 2018. YouTube screenshot via CBS News

His Senate confirmation hearings in 2018 were rocked by decades-old sexual harassment allegations which Kavanaugh angrily denied. Two different pro-abortion rights groups also tried to disrupt the confirmation hearings.

Kavanaugh’s wife Ashley, who also served in the Bush White House, is town manager of Chevy Chase Section Five, the incorporated Maryland village where the Kavanaughs live.

Protests of the Supreme Court’s looming decision on abortion seem to have inspired a credible threat to Kavanaugh’s life. Nicholas John Roske of Simi Valley, Calif. was charged with attempted murder of a Supreme Court justice after the 26-year-old was arrested near Kavanaugh’s home early morning of June 8. He allegedly was armed and had planned to kill the justice and himself, but then abandoned his plan and reported himself to authorities after a phone call with his sister.

Roske was reportedly angry about the prospect that Roe v. Wade would be overturned and about the wide availability of guns in light of the mass shooting at a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school.

Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett

Barrett, nominated by President Trump to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2020, is the second Catholic woman to serve on the court.  

Barrett was born in New Orleans and is the eldest of seven siblings. She and her husband have seven children, including two adopted from Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Her father, Mike Coney, has served as a deacon in the New Orleans archdiocese for 40 years.

She is a graduate of Notre Dame Law School and taught classes there for years before becoming a professor there in 2010.

Amy Coney Barrett. Photo courtesy of the Notre Dame Law School.
Amy Coney Barrett. Photo courtesy of the Notre Dame Law School.

Barrett was a law clerk for the late Justice Antonin Scalia and credits him as a major influence, though she has also emphasized that she would rule on cases as she sees fit. Even justices with the same judicial approach do not necessarily agree on application, she told her Senate confirmation hearings in October 2020.

She said the legal approach of “originalism” means “that I interpret the Constitution as a law … and that I interpret its text as text, and I understand it to have the meaning that it had at the time people ratified it. So that meaning doesn't change over time and it’s not up to me to update it or infuse my own policy views into it.”

President Trump had previously nominated Barrett to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Her September 2017 confirmation hearings included some scrutiny of her Catholic faith. 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., drew attention for one particular comment to her: “And I think in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that's of concern.”

Barrett insisted that as a judge, she would honor binding precedents, and would not let her religious beliefs inappropriately alter her judicial decisions.

She is a member of the ecumenical charismatic group People of Praise, which has an estimated 2,000 adult members. The group has priest members in two dioceses and it operates several schools. Her membership in the group was the subject of some scrutiny by the media during her confirmation process. Some have called the group a “cult” and criticized its former practice of referring to husbands and wives as “heads” and “handmaidens,” both scriptural references.

Some context about the group came from Bishop Peter Smith, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Portland and part of a group of priests associated with People of Praise. He told CNA in July 2018 that the group was one of many lay charismatic movements that emerged in the Church after the Second Vatican Council. It sought to provide an opportunity for Catholic families to live their faith more intentionally.

While most People of Praise members are Catholic, the group is officially ecumenical; people from a variety of Christian denominations can join. Members of the group are free to attend the church of their choosing, including Catholic parishes, Smith explained.

Barrett has reflected on how Catholic faith can interact with the American judicial system. In 1998 the future Supreme Court justice co-authored an article with law professor John Garvey on the possibility of Catholic judges recusing themselves in capital cases, due to the Church's teaching on the death penalty.

Seven myths about overturning Roe v. Wade

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St. Louis, Mo., Jun 24, 2022 / 08:48 am (CNA).

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling Friday overturning the 1973 decision Roe v. Wade as well as the 1992 decision Planned Parenthood v. Casey. In simplest terms, this means that abortion is no longer legal nationwide — the legality of abortion is now determined at the state level. 

There are a lot of myths out there about what this ruling means and what will happen next. Here are some responses to common myths about the overturning of Roe v. Wade: 

Myth 1: Abortion is now illegal in the United States. 

Abortion — which the Catholic Church teaches is a “grave evil” — is still legal in many areas of the country. Now that Roe v. Wade is overturned, abortion is governed by state laws, and for years some states have been legislating in a pro-life direction, and others in a pro-choice direction. 

States such as Hawaii, Colorado, Nevada, New York, and Illinois have written explicit abortion protections into their state laws. Abortions there will continue, and many of those states have positioned themselves as destinations for women traveling to obtain abortions from states with more restrictions. 

That said, there exist dozens of state laws regulating abortion that were, up until the court’s June 24 ruling, in legal limbo or struck down entirely for being out of step with Roe, and thus unconstitutional. Now, those laws will be able to come into effect. They include a total ban on abortion in these states: Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. 

The legal landscape at the state level is varied and complex, as among the more pro-life states, there are a variety of kinds of restrictions that have been enacted. For example, Nebraska bans a certain kind of abortion called dilation and evacuation, which is typically done in the second trimester of pregnancy and results in the dismemberment of an unborn child. Other states, such as Arizona, have restrictions such as a ban on abortions done solely because of a Down syndrome diagnosis. 

A handful of states, such as Michigan, have previously-unenforceable bans on abortion, some 100 or more years old, that have never have been repealed. In Michigan, where a judge recently blocked the state's ban, Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) has repeatedly called for the ban’s complete repeal. 

Some state legislatures may scramble in the coming days, weeks, or months to pass laws regulating — or deregulating — abortion.  

Myth 2: Women will be harmed by this decision. 

Virtually all states with “trigger” laws to ban abortion include an exception for medical emergencies, and stipulate that the person punished under the law would be the person performing the abortion, not the woman seeking one.

In addition, at least one expert observer says cases of women being prosecuted for obtaining abortions are very unlikely to occur.  

“There is no documented case in America of a woman being prosecuted for seeking an abortion since 1922. There has been only one case of a woman being convicted for unlawful self-management of abortion, and that was vacated on appeal,” legal scholar O. Carter Snead wrote recently in the Economist. 

“All modern abortion laws immunize the woman seeking abortion from liability."

Speaking more broadly, there is a commonly cited study, called the Turnaway Study, which advocates of abortion say proves that most women do not regret their abortions, and that women who were denied abortions at certain points in their lives had worse mental health and economic outcomes than those who were not. The study has since been widely debunked, with its research methods and potential conflicts of interest being criticized. Many women who regret their abortions have joined the pro-life movement. 

Myth 3: Women could now be jailed after having miscarriages. 

About one in five pregnancies will end in miscarriage. Every woman will respond and process their grief differently, but needless to say, such an intensely personal and emotional occurrence should be met with compassion and loving care.  

Some pro-choice activists have falsely stated that in countries such as El Salvador — where abortion is prohibited entirely — women have been investigated and jailed following miscarriages. In fact, reporting from ACI Prensa has found that the 140 cases often cited by pro-choice activists in El Salvador of women being jailed actually involve aggravated homicide of their newborn babies, rather than naturally occurring miscarriages.

In the U.S., incidents where a mother could be jailed for a miscarriage are relatively rare, and often involve instances where women used illegal and harmful drugs during pregnancy. For example, an Oklahoma woman was sentenced last October to four years in prison after her baby died in her womb at 17 weeks. In that case, the 21-year-old woman admitted to using methamphetamines while pregnant, and traces of meth were found in the unborn baby’s body.

About two dozen states have laws defining substance use during pregnancy as child abuse under civil child welfare statutes, according to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute. But, "There is also no serious likelihood of the incidental criminalization of contraception, [in vitro fertilization] and management of ectopic pregnancy or miscarriages," Snead, the legal scholar, wrote.

Myth 4: A majority of women will live in states with no surgical abortion. 

Because several of the most populous states in the nation — such as California, New York, and Illinois — have moved to codify abortion into their laws, a majority of women will likely live in states where surgical abortion is still accessible. Many of the most pro-life states in the country have relatively small populations, despite being geographically large. 

That said, populous states such as Texas and Florida have made moves toward more pro-life policies in recent years. 

Myth 5: Treatment for ectopic pregnancy is considered an abortion, and thus many women will likely die from lack of treatment in states where abortion is illegal.

Ectopic pregnancies occur when an embryo implants outside the uterus, usually in the Fallopian tube. Though relatively rare, the most recent data available from the CDC shows the rate of ectopic pregnancies increasing to about 1.4% as of 2013, and may today be as high as 2%.

Once implanted, the embryo’s growth is likely to rupture the Fallopian tube, which can cause the death of both mother and child. And whether treatment is done or not, the embryo is highly unlikely to survive.

There are three common medical procedures to address ectopic pregnancies, two surgical and one involving a drug. In all of the procedures, the embryo dies. From a Catholic perspective, direct abortion — the intentional killing of an unborn baby — is never permitted, but a procedure to save a woman's life that has the unintended effect of an unborn baby's death is morally permissible.

But medical professionals have noted that virtually every state regulation or ban on abortion contains an explicit exception for ectopic pregnancy treatment — which, again, is generally not considered the same as an abortion. 

True enough, some recent state legislative proposals — which have garnered frenzied media attention — have included references to ectopic pregnancy that have worried some medical professionals for their ambiguity. But state legislatures have taken steps to address this problem and make sure that ectopic pregnancy treatments are allowed and accessible.

For example, a Louisiana bill under consideration would treat abortion as a homicide, and originally did not carve out an explicit protection for ectopic pregnancy treatment. However, a companion Louisiana bill, from pro-life Democrat Katrina Jackson, explicitly states that ectopic pregnancy treatments are not illegal under Louisiana’s abortion ban. 

Myth 6: Women in states where surgical abortions are banned will be unable to get abortions, unless they travel. 

Again, the reality is that abortion will remain accessible for many women who seek it out. Part of the reason for this is the proliferation of the “abortion pill,” also known as medication abortion. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control's most recent Abortion Surveillance report, for the year 2019, “early medical abortions” made up 42.3% of abortions that year.

The two-pill regimen is fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which in late 2021 authorized doctors to prescribe the drugs online and mail the pills, allowing women to perform early abortions — up to ten weeks of gestation — without leaving their homes. 

At least 19 states mandate that a clinician must be physically present when the pills are administered. But even so, research by pro-life groups has found that the rate of abortion-related emergency-room visits is increasing faster for medical abortions than for surgical abortions, and that medical abortion makes subsequent abortions more dangerous.

To complicate matters, taking an abortion pill can cause a life-threatening emergency for women who have an ectopic pregnancy, and telehealth appointments may not be enough to catch when a woman seeking a medication abortion is experiencing an ectopic pregnancy. 

Myth 7: Now that Roe v. Wade is overturned, it’s a done deal. States will always be able to restrict abortion from now on. 

This is true currently, but the federal government under President Joe Biden has attempted to pass a bill codifying Roe v. Wade into federal law, which if passed would supersede state-level pro-life laws; but such attempts so far have failed. But just because such efforts have failed so far does not mean the federal government will not continue to try to pass such measures. There is a chance, however, that in light of the Dobbs ruling, the Supreme Court could strike down a federal law attempting to codify abortion rights. 

For pro-life people, the work continues. 

Note: The second paragraph after "Myth 3" has been revised since publication for greater clarity.

Roe v. Wade is overturned. What happens next?

Map of the United States. / Shutterstock

St. Louis, Mo., Jun 24, 2022 / 08:26 am (CNA).

The U.S. Supreme Court on June 24 issued a 6-3 ruling overturning the seminal decisions of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, with the immediate effect of returning the question of abortion policy to the states. 

What other effects have already happened or will soon happen as a result of this decision? Here are three quick things you need to know:

  1. In these states, abortion is now completely illegal, with a few exceptions:

  • Alabama

  • Arkansas

  • Idaho

  • Kentucky

  • Louisiana

  • Mississippi

  • Missouri

  • North Dakota

  • Oklahoma

  • South Dakota

  • Tennessee

  • Texas

  • Utah

  • Wyoming

In other states such as Arizona, Nebraska, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Georgia, lawmakers have passed pro-life measures such as bans on certain methods of abortion, bans on abortions done for eugenic reasons, and bans on abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Here’s a list of states with “heartbeat” bans (excluding those states that also have a total ban):

  • South Carolina

  • Georgia

  • Ohio

  1. Several states in the country have passed laws to protect abortion within their borders.

Most notably, some states such as Colorado, Washington D.C., and New York allow abortion up until the point of birth. These states, and the District of Columbia, have passed some form of explicit protection for abortion:

  • California

  • Colorado

  • Connecticut

  • Delaware

  • Washington, D.C.

  • Hawaii

  • Illinois

  • Maine

  • Maryland

  • Massachusetts

  • Minnesota

  • Nevada

  • New Jersey

  • New York

  • Oregon

  • Rhode Island

  • Vermont

  • Washington

In a few cases, state supreme courts has found a “right to abortion” in the state constitution:

  • Alaska

  • Kansas

  • Iowa

  • Montana

In these states, the abortion landscape could be somewhat ambiguous, at least until the state legislatures act to make their statutes clearer:

  • New Mexico: Pre-Roe ban repealed in 2021, but not much else in its statutes governs abortion.

  • Michigan: 1931 pre-Roe ban is still on the books, though a court temporarily blocked it on May 17.

In terms of U.S. territories, the Penal Code of Puerto Rico prohibits abortion except to save the life of the mother. However, in 1980, the decision of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico in the Pueblo v. Duarte case effectively made abortion legal at any point in pregnancy because of the broad interpretation of “the life and health of the woman” that it mandated. A bill currently under consideration in Puerto Rico would limit abortion to the 22nd week of gestation. 

  1. The decision promises to play a major role in the upcoming mid-term elections.

Abortion has the potential to be a major issue in the November elections in the U.S., but early polling suggests economic problems such as inflation may play more of a role. 

According to a December poll from the Associated Press/NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, cited by FiveThirtyEight, just 13 percent of Democrats named abortion or reproductive rights as one of the issues they wanted Congress to address in 2022. That number could be higher now.

Some Democrats, including President Joe Biden, have already indicated that abortion will be a key issue in this year’s midterm elections, with Biden saying in a statement last week that “we will need more pro-choice Senators and a pro-choice majority in the House to adopt legislation that codifies Roe, which I will work to pass and sign into law.”

There have already been attempts in the Senate to pass a codification of Roe v. Wade into federal law, but so far these have failed, with Democrat Joe Manchin joining all the senate Republicans in opposition. Political observers have speculated that even if Democrats abolished the filibuster rule — which requires 60 votes to break a filibuster from the minority — they may still not have enough votes to pass a codification of Roe v. Wade. 

Plus, there is a chance that, in light of the Dobbs ruling, the Supreme Court could strike down a federal law attempting to codify abortion rights. 

Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade in historic abortion decision

Demonstrators on both sides of the abortion issue outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., after the court released its decision in the Dobbs abortion case on June 24, 2022. / Katie Yoder/CNA

Washington D.C., Jun 24, 2022 / 08:24 am (CNA).

The Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade in a historic 6-3 decision released Friday that brings a sudden and dramatic end to nearly a half-century of nationwide legalized abortion in the U.S. 

The opinion, in the Mississippi abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, is widely seen as the Supreme Court’s most highly anticipated and consequential ruling since Roe. It not only overturns Roe, the landmark 1973 abortion case, but also Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 decision that affirmed Roe.

"Abortion presents a profound moral question. The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority," the opinion states. "We now overrule these decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives." You can read the full opinion below.

The Dobbs opinion was written by Associate Justice Samuel Alito. Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett joined the opinion. Thomas and Kavanaugh filed concurring opinions. Chief Justice John Roberts filed an opinion concurring in the judgement. Associate Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan dissented.

"In overruling Roe and Casey, this Court betrays its guiding principles. With sorrow—for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection—we dissent," the dissenting opinion reads.

The decision does not ban or criminalize abortion, nor does it recognize an unborn child's constitutional right to life. But in one, breathtaking stroke, the court’s action sweeps away entrenched legal barriers, created and strictly enforced by the federal judiciary, that for decades have blocked states like Mississippi from heavily restricting or prohibiting the killing of unborn children in the womb.

In the process, the decision ushers in a new era of abortion politics in the U.S., with the battleground now shifting to state legislatures. Those democratically elected bodies are now free to debate and regulate abortion as they see fit, as happened throughout American history before the Supreme Court federalized the issue.

“An entirely new pro-life movement begins today. We are ready to go on offense for life in every single one of those legislative bodies, in each statehouse and the White House," Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life American President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement Friday. "Over the next few years we will have the opportunity to save hundreds of thousands, even millions of lives by limiting the horror of abortion in many states."

Speaking from the White House Friday afternoon, President Joe Biden, a Catholic who ardently supports legalized abortion, called the court's opinion "a tragic mistake."

"It's a sad date for the country, in my view, but that doesn't mean the fight is over," Biden said. He called for Congress to codify Roe and the legal framework it created into federal law.

Acknowledging widespread anger and disappointment at the court's decision, Biden called for demonstrations to remain peaceful, saying, "Threats and intimidation are not speech."

Catholic bishops respond

Friday's ruling marks a watershed moment for the Catholic Church and the wider pro-life movement in the United States, which have painstakingly sought Roe’s reversal since the landmark 7-2 decision was handed down on Jan. 19, 1973.

"America was founded on the truth that all men and women are created equal, with God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said in a joint statement following the opinion's release.

"This truth was grievously denied by the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized and normalized the taking of innocent human life," the Catholic bishops continued. "We thank God today that the Court has now overturned this decision." Gomez is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Lori is chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

"Today’s decision is also the fruit of the prayers, sacrifices, and advocacy of countless ordinary Americans from every walk of life. Over these long years, millions of our fellow citizens have worked together peacefully to educate and persuade their neighbors about the injustice of abortion, to offer care and counseling to women, and to work for alternatives to abortion, including adoption, foster care, and public policies that truly support families," the statement continued.

"We share their joy today and we are grateful to them. Their work for the cause of life reflects all that is good in our democracy, and the pro-life movement deserves to be numbered among the great movements for social change and civil rights in our nation’s history."

Decision conforms to leaked draft

The outcome of Dobbs came as little surprise, since the final opinion substantially resembled a draft written by Alito in February that was leaked to the press on May 2.

In Roe v. Wade, the court ruled that states could not ban abortion before viability, which the court determined to be 24 to 28 weeks into pregnancy. Nearly 20 years later, the court upheld Roe in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The 1992 ruling said that while states could regulate pre-viability abortions, they could not enforce an “undue burden,” defined by the court as “a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus.”

Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, the subject of the Dobbs case, directly challenged both decisions, because it bans abortion weeks after 15 weeks, well before the point of viability.

"Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have inflamed debate and deepened division," the opinion states.

"It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people's elected representatives," the opinion states.

Roberts writes own opinion

In his opinion concurring in the judgment, Roberts called for a narrower ruling.

"The Court’s decision to overrule Roe and Casey is a serious jolt to the legal system—regardless of how you view those cases," his opinion reads. "A narrower decision rejecting the misguided viability line would be markedly less unsettling, and nothing more is needed to decide this case."

"My point is that Roe adopted two distinct rules of constitutional law: one, that a woman has the right to choose to terminate a pregnancy; two, that such right may be overridden by the State’s legitimate interests when the fetus is viable outside the womb," he added at another point. "The latter is obviously distinct from the former. I would abandon that timing rule, but see no need in this case to consider the basic right."

This is a developing story.

1-year challenge: Knights of Columbus aims to raise $5M for pro-life clinics, maternity homes

Photo illustration. / Shutterstock

Mansfield, Mass., Jun 23, 2022 / 18:12 pm (CNA).

The Knights of Columbus announced Thursday a new goal to donate at least $5 million to pro-life pregnancy centers and maternity homes across the United States and Canada by June 30, 2023. 

“As Knights, we are called to courage and self-sacrifice,” Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly said in a press release. “Standing for life means making personal sacrifices for women and children in need — being willing to give of our time, skills and financial resources, and accepting the fact that the fruits of our labors are often hidden.”

The Knights of Columbus (KofC) is the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization, with more than two million members in 16,000 councils worldwide. 

The new call for funding of pro-life pregnancy centers and maternity homes comes at a time when many centers across the country are paying out of pocket for increased security measures and repairs. 

Those new infrastructure developments at centers are a direct result of the many vandalisms that have occurred at pro-life pregnancy centers across the nation. 

The vandalism began in early May when the news outlet Politico leaked a Supreme Court draft ruling showing that the justices may have been prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade. 

The new initiative is called Aid and Support After Pregnancy or “ASAP” for short. ASAP aims to raise the money by calling on all U.S. and Canadian councils to increase donations to pro-life pregnancy centers, maternity homes, and “other organizations which give direct assistance to new mothers and/or babies.”

“Mothers and children need our help now more than ever,” Kelly said. 

The KofC has a strong history of supporting pro-life pregnancy centers across the nation. One of the organization's projects is its Ultrasound Initiative, which has provided pro-life pregnancy centers in all 50 states with more than 1,500 ultrasound machines since 2009.

The KofC says its members have volunteered at pro-life pregnancy centers for more than 1.7 million hours collectively from 2018 to 2021. Over that time, the KofC donated more than $18 million in funds and supplies to pro-life pregnancy centers and maternity homes, according to the press release.

Editor's note: This story was corrected to note the end date of the fund drive is June 30, 2023.

Biden administration seeks school regulation change to ban LGBT discrimination


Washington D.C., Jun 23, 2022 / 17:45 pm (CNA).

The Biden administration proposed expanding the definition of “sex” to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” on the 50th anniversary of Title IX, a gender equality law that applies to thousands of schools across the U.S.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects Americans from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal funding. Today, its protections impact everything from women’s participation in sports to sexual harassment at schools. 

Its text reads: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

The Department of Education intends to expand discrimination on the basis of sex to include discrimination based on “sex stereotypes, sex characteristics, pregnancy or related conditions, sexual orientation, and gender identity,” it announced Thursday.

These changes, the Washington Post reported, would, among other things, permit transgender students “to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity, using their correct pronouns and addressing bullying based on their gender identity.”

Title IX includes exceptions, including a religious exemption for educational institutions “controlled by a religious organization” if the application is inconsistent with the religious tenets of the organization.

Before becoming law, the proposed changes must undergo a public comment process. After it is published in the Federal Register, comments can be submitted the following 60 days via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at

CNA reached out to several Catholic colleges and universities for comment Thursday. One responded by publication time saying that it will review the changes and will submit comments if necessary. 

Title IX applies to approximately 17,600 local school districts and over 5,000 postsecondary institutions, charter schools, for-profit schools, libraries, and museums, according to the department. It also applies to vocational rehabilitation agencies and education agencies.

Regarding athletics, the department announced Thursday that it will address Title IX's application to athletics at a later time. The announcement came the same day that female athletes from across the country expressed concern in Washington, D.C., about competing against transgender athletes.

For the 49th anniversary of Title IX, in 2021, the Biden administration issued a “notice of interpretation” that it would enforce Title IX protections against sex discrimination in education to also protect sexual orientation and gender identity. The proposed changes that came Thursday would make this federal law.

The Education Department’s fact sheet clarifies that the proposed regulations “would make clear that preventing someone from participating in school programs and activities consistent with their gender identity would cause harm in violation of Title IX, except in some limited areas set out in the statute or regulations.”

The changes also include revisions regarding how schools and higher education institutions address and respond to sexual assault and sexual harassment — and they expand the definition of sex-based harassment.

The changes also affect pregnant and parenting students. 

“The proposed regulations would update existing protections for students, applicants, and employees against discrimination because of pregnancy or related conditions,” the fact sheet reads. “The proposed regulations would strengthen requirements that schools provide reasonable modifications for pregnant students, reasonable break time for pregnant employees, and lactation space.” 

The department identifies “key issue areas” where Title IX applies: recruitment, admissions, and counseling; financial assistance; athletics; sex-based harassment; treatment of pregnant and parenting students; treatment of LGBTQI+ students; discipline; single-sex education, and employment.

Report: More than 800,000 lives saved by pro-life pregnancy centers since 2016

null / Prostock-Studio/Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 23, 2022 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

Pro-life pregnancy centers have saved over 800,000 lives since 2016, according to an analysis by the Charlotte Lozier Institute.

The analysis says that pro-life pregnancy centers “exist to provide support, education, classes, medical care and critical resources for women faced with difficult circumstances surrounding unexpected pregnancy.”

CLI, the research arm of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, conducted the analysis with data from more than 1,100 Care Net pregnancy centers, according to a press release. Care Net is a Christian non-profit that offers a network of pro-life pregnancy centers and pro-life education. The data was then weighted by CLI to create national estimates. 

Data from the years 2016 through 2020 published by CLI show that an estimated 177,716 babies' lives were saved in 2019, marking the highest number out of all five years. The lowest estimated number of lives saved was in 2020, with 144,176. 

In 2016 there were an estimated 173,587 lives saved. In 2018 there were an estimated 169,547 lives saved. In 2019 there were an estimated 177,716 lives saved. 

The total number of estimated lives saved throughout the data set is 828,131. 

In the press release president of CLI, Charles Donovan condemned the recent attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers. 

“Radical pro-abortion activists have violently attacked pro-life pregnancy centers in recent weeks, which Speaker Pelosi and other national leaders have failed to condemn,” he said. “Yet real-world data shows that compassion and decency are winning, with more than 800,000 precious babies saved thanks to brave volunteers and staff who willingly take the risk of helping women and their families.”

Data from 2019 shows that 2,700 clinics across the nation were run by just short of 15,000 staff members and nearly 54,000 volunteers. The staff and volunteers included 10,200 licensed medical professionals, the analysis says. 

Out of the 10,200 licensed medical professionals, the analysis says that 3,791 were clinic staff members and 6,424 were clinic volunteers. There are about 3,000 pro-life pregnancy centers across the country today, the analysis says.

The lead author of the analysis, Moira Gaul, said that “On average, pregnancy centers consistently have client satisfaction rates over 95% leading to many ‘word-of-mouth’ referrals to pro-life pregnancy centers — meaning that the 800,000 lives saved just since 2016 represent a significant number of women who received support and then told their friends and families about the compassionate and cost-free care they received.”  

“More than any other group, pro-life pregnancy centers are best equipped to support women facing unintended pregnancies in a post-Roe America,” Gaul, an associate scholar at CLI, said. 

Another analysis done by CLI showed that in 2019, approximately 2 million women, men, and youth were served by more than 2,700 pro-life pregnancy centers across the nation, the press release says.

Those services included free ultrasound services, prenatal and parenting classes, and over 1.2 million diapers given.

Pro-life pregnancy centers have come under attack since early May when a draft Supreme Court opinion was leaked showing that the justices may have been poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision that created federal protections for abortion. 

The court is expected to release the opinion or decision in that case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, at the end of June or beginning of July.

The analysis says that pro-life pregnancy centers began organizing in the late 1960s, the same time some states began legalizing abortion.

Female athletes advocate for women’s sports ahead of Title IX transgender changes

Cynthia Monteleone, shown at the "Our Bodies, Our Sports" rally in Washington, D.C., on June 23, 2022. The mother of three is a track coach, a Team USA World Masters track champion, and an advocate for the preservation of women’s sports. / Katie Yoder/CNA

Washington D.C., Jun 23, 2022 / 16:03 pm (CNA).

Women athletes who are opposed to biological males identifying as transgender females competing in women’s sports rallied in Washington, D.C., on Thursday ahead of new proposed regulations coming from the Biden administration regarding transgender athletes.

The event, “Our Bodies, Our Sports,” sponsored by the Independent Women’s Forum, among other groups, coincided with the 50th anniversary of Title IX, a federal law that ensures that no person at schools and colleges receiving federal funds is discriminated against based on sex. The Biden administration plans to broaden the scope of the law to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, in addition to gender.

Several athletes spoke to CNA, including a Catholic track star from Hawaii and a swimmer from Kentucky who competed against transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, said they attended the rally, which drew a counterprotest by trans-rights activists, to preserve women's sports.

Riley Gaines Barker, 21, a recent graduate of the University of Kentucky, competed against transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, a biological male. Katie Yoder/CNA
Riley Gaines Barker, 21, a recent graduate of the University of Kentucky, competed against transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, a biological male. Katie Yoder/CNA

Riley Gaines Barker, 21, a recent graduate of the University of Kentucky, has won many championships and awards for swimming throughout her college career. Earlier this year, she tied for 5th place with Lia Thomas in the NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships. Barker said Thomas, competing for the University of Pennsylvania, received the 5th place trophy, while she was told that one would be sent to her at a later date.

“Women have fought the past 50 years today for equal rights in terms of sports and equal opportunities,” Barker told CNA.

“Just when you think you're almost there, it's a complete 180. My goal is to be here, and to use my voice to help bring light to the situation, and to help get back what Title IX is supposed to stand for,” she said.

For Barker, this issue comes down to a matter of fairness.

“It's not that I'm transphobic. I don't think that. I think that you can do what you want in your free time, but when you're infringing on women's sport and it's involving lots of female athletes, that's when I'm going to get involved and that's when I'm going to speak up about it,” she said.

Cynthia Monteleone, who lives in Hawaii, is a mother of three, a track coach, a Team USA World Masters track champion, and an advocate for the preservation of women’s sports.

“It means more to me to champion this fight for women's sports than anything else, and that's because I'm being true to myself and allowing my faith to guide me,” Monteleone, who is Catholic, told CNA.

Monteleone said she decided to skip the world track championships in Finland to attend Thursday’s rally. Had she competed, she would have had to go against a biological male, she said.

“I began to ask questions about the fairness of this issue, and I was told to keep my mouth shut for my own safety,” Monteleone said. “I did not do that. I'm still speaking up louder than ever.”

Monteleone said the stand she’s taking stems from the moral values she derives from her Catholic faith.

“God will lead the way to the path you're supposed to be on, so I am not supposed to get that medal at that world championship this week,” she said. “It means nothing to me if there's not a fair playing field.”

Monteleone said her daughter, Margaret, had a similar experience at her first high school track meet, where she lost to a biological male.

Monteleone said she does not place any value on the words of those who call her position on the issue “transphobic” or “discriminatory.” Instead, she noted, “I just say ‘stay strong’ and don't put value in those words.”

Madisan DeBos, a Division I track and cross country student-athlete at Southern Utah University, speaks at the "Our Bodies, Our Sports" rally in Washington, D.C., on June 23, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
Madisan DeBos, a Division I track and cross country student-athlete at Southern Utah University, speaks at the "Our Bodies, Our Sports" rally in Washington, D.C., on June 23, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA

Another outspoken woman at the event was Madisan DeBos, a Division I track and cross country student-athlete at Southern Utah University.

“This is something that is so important to me because I have personally been affected by this issue at hand,” DeBos said, recalling a time when her relay team lost out to a team with a transgender athlete.

“Being here today and being alongside all of these athletes, I think our voices together are what's going to help make change,” DeBos said.

DeBos spoke on the biological differences between men and women and how women have the right to fight for fairness in their sports.

“This is within the sports world, and that really is a different world,” she told CNA. The physical advantages that come with being a biological male have “nothing to do with the outside world” when it comes to fair treatment.

Can laity preach at Mass? Chicago parish offers pulpit to same-sex couple

Alex Shingleton and Landon Duyka deliver a 'Gospel reflection' during Mass at Old St. Patrick's in Chicago, Ill., June 19, 2022. / Old St. Patrick’s/vimeo.

Denver Newsroom, Jun 22, 2022 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

A Chicago Catholic parish is facing questions after the pastor allowed a couple in a same-sex marriage to offer a “reflection” in lieu of the homily at a June 19 Mass. 

The parish, Old St. Patrick’s, is a historic and prominent parish on Chicago’s west loop. The priest celebrating the Mass, Father Joe Roccasalva, introduced the two men immediately after proclaiming the Gospel and said they were to give a Father’s Day “Gospel reflection.” According to canon law, laypeople are not allowed to preach homilies during Mass — only the ordained, meaning priests, bishops, and deacons, are allowed to do so. 

Upon taking the lectern, Alex Shingleton and Landon Duyka — who say they have been members of the parish for a decade — described their same-sex marriage as a “blessing” and the adoption of their two children as “miracles.” 

“Let’s be honest, there are probably not too many gay dads speaking on Father’s Day at many Catholic Churches on the planet today,” one of the men said. 

Later in the presentation, one of the men stated: “We wanted to raise our children in the Catholic Church…On the other hand, we didn’t want to expose our children to bigotry and have them feel any shame or intolerance about their family.” 

The men described as a “miracle” the fact that they had found an LGBT-affirming community at the self-described “radically inclusive” Old St. Patrick’s parish, as they said they had experienced rejection and a lack of welcome at other Catholic parishes. 

The Catholic Church teaches that people who identify as LGBT should be treated with dignity and respect, but also that homosexual acts are sinful and that homosexual unions — even if recognized as marriage by governments or society — cannot be approved by the Church under any circumstance. 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that "'homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved." At the same time, the Catechism and popes have drawn a clear distinction between homosexual acts and homosexual inclinations, the latter of which, while objectively disordered, are not sinful

"Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection," the Catechism adds.

In terms of the question of laypeople giving homilies, Father Pius Pietrzyk OP, a canon lawyer, told CNA in written responses that although the allowance of the reflection was technically a clear violation of the law, Catholics should not merely be concerned with the letter of the law, but also the reasons behind it. 

“[The law] expresses the Church's understanding of the role of the priest in the life of the parish community,” Pietrzyk explained. 

“More importantly, it expresses the essential link between the munus sanctificandi [duty to sanctify, or consecrate] and the munus docendi [the duty to teach], which is rooted in the sacrament of holy orders.” 

Pietrzyk said he hopes that the men who spoke at Old St. Patrick’s continue to participate in the Catholic Church. 

“We should continue to encourage these two men to participate in the life of the Church,” Pietrzyk stressed, but reiterated that the fact that they are living publicly as a same-sex married couple — a state the Church teaches to be sinful — cannot simply be ignored. 

Moreover, Pietrzyk described the priest’s decision to allow the men to speak during Mass as a “politicization of the Eucharist.”

“The selection of these two as [homilists] on Father's Day must be seen for what it is, a political act of submission to modern sexual ideologies and an act of rebellion against the teachings of Christ and his Church,” the priest said. 

In March 2021, the Vatican’s doctrinal office clarified that the Catholic Church does not have the power to give liturgical blessings of homosexual unions, writing that “it is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage (i.e., outside the indissoluble union of a man and a woman open in itself to the transmission of life), as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex.” The ruling and note were approved for publication by Pope Francis. 

The Archdiocese of Chicago has not responded to questions on the matter from other Catholic publications. 

Museum of the Bible exhibit explores architectural history of St. Peter's Basilica

An exhibit at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., focuses on the history of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. / Courtesy of Museum of the Bible

Washington D.C., Jun 21, 2022 / 18:41 pm (CNA).

Known for its grandeur, St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City has long been an architectural inspiration worldwide. Now the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., is honoring the history of the structure’s architecture with a new exhibit.

Basilica Sancti Petri: The Transformation of Saint Peter’s Basilica” opened May 27 and will remain in the museum's long-term Vatican exhibit, Treasures from the Vatican Museums and the Vatican Library, through Sept. 25.

The exhibit features numerous original prints of design ideas put forward by infamous artists of the 16th century such as Antonio da Sangallo, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Carlo Fontana, Agostino Veneziano, and Antoine Lafréry.

“We have that historical perspective, but also these unique and beautiful prints at the same time,” Jeff Kloha, chief curator of the Museum of the Bible, told CNA. “So it's a combination of a historical exhibit and an art exhibit. You get to see what [the artists] started on, an idea, and how it changed.”

St. Peter’s Basilica is designed with a combination of primarily Roman and Latin influences. Its current state depicts bits and pieces from each artist’s prints.

“Basilica Sancti Petri,” the 2014 book by Barbara Jatta, director of the Vatican Museums, inspired the Museum of the Bible exhibit. Kloha told CNA that Jatta’s collection of the prints for the book led her to offer the original copies for display in the exhibit.

St. Peter’s Basilica was originally built by Roman Emperor Constantine during the pontificate of Pope Sylvester I (314–345) and was completed in 337. It was eventually demolished and rebuilt in the 16th century. The basilica has been the primary church of the Vatican and the site of papal celebrations for centuries. Its architecture has been a blueprint for numerous churches and secular buildings, and it is the first Christian church to be built on the burial site of a martyr — its namesake, St. Peter.

In Matthew 16:18, Jesus says to Simon Peter, “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.”

“It's an interesting way that the Bible becomes kind of concrete in that sense,” Kloha told CNA, while also noting that “in many ways it becomes a model, a pattern for what follows,” both in Catholicism and other traditions.

Basilica Sancti Petri: The Transformation of Saint Peter’s Basilica” will be included as a part of general admission tickets to the Museum of the Bible through Sept. 25. To learn more about this exhibit and others, visit the museum’s website.