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U.S. bishops invite Catholics to ‘pray, reflect, and act’ to promote religious freedom

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CNA Staff, Jun 11, 2024 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

The Catholic bishops of the United States are inviting Catholics to observe a week dedicated to prayer, reflection, and action related to religious freedom with topics such as church vandalism, blasphemy laws, and Christian persecution in India as particular areas of focus. 

Marking Religious Freedom Week, which begins June 22, the feast day of St. Thomas More and John Fisher, the bishops invited Catholics to reflect on a particular topic related to religious freedom for each day of the week.

Here’s a breakdown of the days of Religious Freedom Week 2024, which runs from June 22–29. 

June 22: Sacred spaces

On this day, Catholics are asked to pray that all people of faith would be free to gather in houses of worship without fear.  

The bishops have tracked more than 320 instances of vandalism against Catholic entities since 2020, including against Catholic churches, pro-life pregnancy centers, maternity homes, and other pro-life organizations across the country. These attacks have taken the form of vulgar graffiti, property damage, threats, theft, and arson. In addition, data show that antisemitic incidents have surged since the start of the Israel-Hamas war. 

“The very nature of a sacred space is that it is set apart from other spaces as a place to seek communion with the divine and thus should be treated with respect. In a pluralistic society such as ours, respect for sacred spaces is especially vital for the sake of civil peace, which is part of the common good,” the bishops said. 

June 23: Blasphemy and apostasy laws

Catholics on this day are asked to pray for all people of faith who live in fear of persecution under unjust blasphemy laws as well as those living under laws criminalizing apostasy. 

Blasphemy laws exist in nearly 40% of the world’s countries. Christians in countries such as Pakistan and Nigeria in recent years have faced conviction and sometimes even mob violence for apparent violations of the countries’ blasphemy laws, which often criminalize any criticism of Islam.

“Penalties for blasphemy vary considerably, ranging from fines to prison sentences to executions. Seven countries have the death penalty for blasphemy — Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, Mauritania, and Saudi Arabia,” the bishops noted. 

The bishops urged Catholics to support the work of Aid to the Church in Need, a papal charity that works to support persecuted Christians worldwide. 

June 24: Freedom to speak the truth

On this day, the bishops asked that Catholics pray that the Holy Spirit “would give us the courage to bear witness to the truth of the Gospel, even in the face of social and legal pressure.”

“All baptized Christians are called to share the joy of the Gospel with others. But in numerous settings — schools, the workplace, health care — individuals are being pressured to conform to the orthodoxy of gender ideology,” the bishops said. 

“Under the current administration, government agencies are proposing regulations that, in the name of prohibiting harassment, would chill or prohibit speech that upholds the nature of conjugal marriage, the bodily reality of human beings, and even the sanctity of life.”

“We certainly should approach people who disagree with us on these issues with tenderness and compassion, but that does not mean we should be forced to speak untruthfully. And in a pluralistic society, the government should afford ample space for people of different backgrounds and worldviews to be able to work together,” the bishops concluded. 

The bishops promoted as a resource a new website, Love Means More, which is designed to “bring clarity and compassion” to issues surrounding love, marriage, and sexuality by addressing “hidden assumptions about love.”

June 25: Service to immigrants

Catholics on this day are asked to pray that “the Lord would protect all migrants and refugees and that all those who work with people on the move would be free to serve.”

“As part of their duty to uphold the common good, civil authorities are responsible for ensuring public order, including by maintaining national borders. At the same time, the Church is commanded by Jesus Christ to serve vulnerable populations, including migrants and refugees, and recognize their God-given dignity,” the bishops said. 

“The Church has long sought to serve the needs of ‘people on the move,’ from providing for basic needs to assisting with refugee resettlement to offering legal services to help newcomers navigate the expectations of their receiving country.”

The bishops criticized what they called “attacks” on Catholic charitable organizations helping migrants, some of which have faced public criticism in recent years. 

“Sadly, in recent years, Christian services to migrants have faced vile attacks by both media personalities and political leaders seeking to make a point about current immigration trends. Debates about immigration and borders are simply part of American political life, and Christians should do their part to make those discussions healthy and productive,” the bishops concluded. 

The bishops urged Catholics to join in their efforts to advocate for bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform.

June 26: India

Catholics are urged to pray for “our Christian brothers and sisters in India, who face harassment and violent attacks.”

In recent years, Christians in India have decried an apparent rise in anti-Christian violence and Hindu extremism. Hindu mobs — often fueled by false accusations of forced conversions — have attacked Christians, destroyed churches, and disrupted religious worship services.

A U.S. religious freedom watchdog recently urged the Biden administration to add the government of India to a list of the world’s worst violators of religious freedom, citing India’s “increased transnational targeting of religious minorities and those advocating on their behalf.”

The bishops promoted the work of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), founded by Pope Pius XI in 1926 as “an instrument of love and a sign of hope for those in need scattered throughout the historic but unstable lands of the ancient Eastern churches — the Middle East, Northeast Africa, India, and Eastern Europe.”

June 27: Faith at work

Pray that business leaders would be free to promote a culture of life in their workplaces, the bishops urged. 

Specifically, the bishops discussed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which requires employers to accommodate women for workplace limitations that arise from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions and which had the full support of the USCCB when lawmakers considered the bill in 2022. However, regulations issued by President Joe Biden’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission this year have interpreted the related medical conditions covered in the law to include abortion.

The U.S. bishops last month filed a lawsuit that asks a court to strike down the abortion accommodation rule.

“[R]eligious employers should honor the pro-woman, pro-life intent of the law Congress passed and grant pregnant employees reasonable accommodations that allow them to have healthy pregnancies,” the bishops concluded.

June 28: Civility

On this day, Catholics are urged to pray that “God would give us the grace to remember the dignity of all and invite others to do the same.”

“As a Church and a nation, we are polarized and divided. But as Pope Francis writes in Fratelli Tutti, we can seek ‘a better kind of politics, one truly at the service of the common good,’” the bishops wrote.

“We can see ourselves as members of one family. We can seek to encounter and to grow. We can identify common values. We can listen to understand. We can seek the truth together. We can jointly come up with creative solutions to the problems that face our world.”

To this end, the bishops promoted an initiative formed in 2021 called “Civilize It,” designed to promote civility amid political polarization, appealing to Pope Francis’ 2020 encyclical Fratelli Tutti.

June 29: Catholic health care

Pray today that governments will respect the consciences of all individuals and institutions that care for the sick and vulnerable, the bishops said. 

“For centuries, Christians have carried on the healing ministry of Christ by building institutions dedicated to medicine and accompaniment of the dying. However, Catholic hospitals and medical professionals face numerous challenges to their mission today,” the bishops said. 

Among these challenges, they said, are an erosion of conscience protections under the Biden administration for medical professionals who object to practices and procedures such as abortion and transgender surgeries. 

In the face of this, Catholics are asked to pray that governments will respect the consciences of all individuals and institutions that care for the sick and vulnerable. The bishops also asked that Catholics sign up to receive alerts on new opportunities to let government agencies know that they “support the Church’s right to operate her institutions in accordance with her faith in Jesus Christ.”

Massachusetts launches ‘first-in-the-nation’ effort to target pregnancy resource centers

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CNA Staff, Jun 11, 2024 / 15:15 pm (CNA).

The Massachusetts state government this week announced what it billed as a “first-in-the-nation” effort to discredit — and steer pregnant women away from — pregnancy resource centers in the state. 

The state’s Department of Public Health said in a press release on Monday that it was launching what it described as an “education campaign” to highlight “the dangers and potential harm” of crisis pregnancy centers.

Those organizations offer aid and support to pregnant women, particularly women in desperate situations and who may be considering abortion.

Pro-abortion advocates have regularly criticized such centers for what they claim are misleading tactics that steer women away from having abortions. The Massachusetts government on Monday said those organizations “often mislead [women] about their options if they are pregnant and dissuade them from accessing abortions.”

The government’s campaign will “amplify how anti-abortion centers provide misinformation about abortion services to prevent people from making an informed choice about their care,” the Department of Public Health said. 

‘Extreme abortion agenda’

Pro-life advocates in Massachusetts criticized the state government’s campaign after it was announced this week.

In a statement to CNA, the Pregnancy Care Alliance of Massachusetts — which works to educate the public about pregnancy centers — said the state’s network of pregnancy centers “provides millions of dollars in no-cost support and care for thousands of women annually who face planned and unplanned pregnancies.”

“The women served by pregnancy resource centers overwhelmingly report a positive experience” the statement said. “Yet the [Gov. Maura] Healey administration and other politicians in the state are furthering their extreme abortion agenda by using a taxpayer-funded campaign to discredit our centers.”

The “politically motivated campaign,” the alliance said, “will negatively impact women the most, specifically the many women who want to parent and rely on the free assistance we provide.”

Meanwhile, Massachusetts Citizens for Life — which founded the Pregnancy Care Alliance group — said in a statement shared with CNA that the campaign will spread “multiple inaccurate claims” about pregnancy resource centers.

The organization said that in recent years pregnancy resource centers “have faced mounting pressure from the state, hindering their ability to effectively offer a life-affirming choice to women.”

“There is one reason why: Pregnancy resource centers threaten abortion industry bottom lines,” the group said.

The group’s president, Myrna Flynn, told CNA on Tuesday that “honoring the dignity of the human person is as central to the pro-life movement as it is to Catholic social teaching.” 

“In their commitment to support vulnerable women by offering a myriad of cost-free, life-affirming services, Massachusetts’ pregnancy resource centers elevate and seek to preserve a woman’s dignity above all else,” she said.

Flynn noted that in Massachusetts there have been “no complaints of merit filed against our PRCs [pregnancy resource centers]” and that for decades “tens of thousands of Bay State women received the help they desired inside these critical community treasures.”

“So for Gov. Healey, who describes herself as a Catholic, to direct $1 million of taxpayer money to an effort that is strategically designed to steer women away from PRCs and into abortion clinics instead effectively conveys one message: In this state, politically-generated abortion revenue matters more than women, their dignity, and the very lives of their children,” she said. 

In the state’s announcement, Healey claimed the campaign is “an important way to provide accurate information so residents can make informed decisions about reproductive care that are right for them.”

The campaign, which will “appear on social media platforms, billboards, radio, and transit,” was funded “through a $1 million investment” from the Massachusetts Legislature, the government said.

Flynn, meanwhile, indicated to CNA that pregnancy resource providers will work to counteract the government’s pro-abortion campaign. 

Massachusetts Citizens for Life “intends to inform citizens of our state about the truth of Healey’s aim and, in tandem, the truth about PRCs,” she said.

Bishops urge EU leaders to tackle voter disillusionment following elections

A man receives his ballot for the European elections in a polling station in The Hague on June 6, 2024, on the first day of the European Parliament election. / Credit: Nick Gammon/AFP via Getty Images

CNA Newsroom, Jun 11, 2024 / 14:45 pm (CNA).

The bishops’ commission underscored the pressing issue of persistent voter disengagement and the alarming rise of nationalist, Euroskeptic parties.

French euthanasia bill on hold as Macron calls ‘snap election’

French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron, exit a polling booth adorned with curtains displaying the colors of the flag of France before casting their ballot for the European Parliament election at a polling station in Le Touquet, northern France, on June 9, 2024. / Credit: HANNAH MCKAY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

CNA Staff, Jun 11, 2024 / 12:45 pm (CNA).

Reims Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort said earlier this year that the measure would “shift our entire health care system toward death as a solution.”

Workers discover human skeleton during Jubilee construction dig in Rome

Workers in Rome discovered a centuries-old skeleton during a June 2024 construction dig near the Vatican for one of the building projects for the Catholic Church’s 2025 Jubilee. / Credit: Daniel Ibañez/CNA

Rome Newsroom, Jun 11, 2024 / 10:15 am (CNA).

The skeleton was unearthed during excavations to create an underground motorway that will create a pedestrian-only road to St. Peter’s Basilica.

Amid abortion debate, Polish bishops urge protection of the unborn

Archbishop Tadeusz Wojda was named president of the Polish bishops’ conference on March 14, 2024. / Credit: Silar, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

CNA Newsroom, Jun 11, 2024 / 09:30 am (CNA).

A letter issued by the bishops on the protection of life comes amid growing pressure from lawmakers to dismantle Poland’s strong pro-life protections.

Tech-savvy Catholics embrace Carlo Acutis: ‘Saintliness is possible in this modern era’

A scene from “Digital Disciple: Carlo Acutis and the Eucharist” written by Philip Kosloski, the founder of Voyage Comics & Publishing. / Credit: Courtesy of Voyage Comics & Publishing

CNA Staff, Jun 11, 2024 / 06:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis late last month formally recognized a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Carlo Acutis, paving the way for the young Italian, who died of leukemia at age 15, to become the first canonized saint from the millennial generation. 

If you know anything about Carlo Acutis, you probably know that he loved going to Mass and helping the poor and downtrodden he encountered. A boy of strong faith despite not having grown up in a particularly religious household, Carlo was also known to spend hours adoring Christ in the Eucharist. 

But you may have also seen him described as the Catholic Church’s first “tech-savvy” saint. And for good reason.

Carlo was born in 1991 — the same year the World Wide Web came online in all its snail’s-pace, dial-up glory. And like so many of his generational peers, Carlo quickly embraced the internet’s possibilities, despite the technology still being relatively in its infancy; Google wasn’t even founded until Carlo was 7. But Carlo’s mother remembers the young whiz kid proudly describing himself as a “computer scientist” — well before he got his first computer as a gift around the year 2000.

Carlo Acutis. Credit: carloacutis.com
Carlo Acutis. Credit: carloacutis.com

Carlo’s mother, at her child’s pleading, got him textbooks on coding, which he devoured. He taught himself the basic coding languages of C, C++, and Java. Carlo’s uncle, whose work involved computers, gave him access to software such as Adobe Suite and the 3D rendering software Maya, which he eagerly made use of on his desktop computer. 

He was known for helping friends with computer problems — including, amusingly, a local order of nuns — and was known also to use the internet to find Mass times when the family traveled to new places.

(It wasn’t just desktop computing that interested Carlo; he was an avid player of video games, though he limited his playing to two hours a week so as not to lose himself in virtual worlds.)

The internet, of course, exploded rapidly during Carlo’s childhood and adolescence. By 2005, Wikipedia was already a popular reference site, and YouTube and Facebook were poised to take the world by storm. Unlike so many of his peers, who fell into the distractions, vices, and prideful pursuits that the burgeoning internet had to offer, Carlo used the internet for good. 

He helped a local computer engineering student create a website for his parish, Santa Maria Segreta. And perhaps Carlo’s most enduring tech-related legacy is a website he created with the help of his family displaying information and images of Eucharistic miracles around the world — a website that remains online to this day. 

In recent years — especially since his beatification in 2020 — Carlo’s embrace and masterful use of technology as a part of his holy life has inspired many young Catholics working in the fields of science and technology.

Mary Regina Boland is an assistant professor of data science at Saint Vincent College, a Benedictine Catholic school in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. A millennial “just a few years older” than Carlo herself, Boland said his use of his computer programming skills to create an exhibit on Eucharistic miracles is something that a lot of young students can connect with, especially the students she teaches in the data science program. 

Mary Regina Boland, an assistant professor of Data Science at Saint Vincent College in Pennsylvania. Credit: Photo courtesy of Mary Regina Boland
Mary Regina Boland, an assistant professor of Data Science at Saint Vincent College in Pennsylvania. Credit: Photo courtesy of Mary Regina Boland

Carlo died in 2006, when most of Boland’s students were still very young, and technology has only grown more powerful and sophisticated since his passing, she noted. 

“My hope is that with his canonization, he will become more widely known and his story of witnessing to the faith, guiding others to conversion, and his interests in technology will be spread more broadly,” Boland told CNA. 

“I think his witness can help draw more young people into the faith and also empower those who are Catholic to develop methods to make their faith more accessible in a world that is driven by technology and data.”

Boland said she sees a connection between her field — data science — and Carlo’s efforts to use technology to make Eucharistic miracles more known. 

“Data science, the field I teach and work in, is a field that utilizes data to derive knowledge, validate our understanding of scientific principles, and gain novel insights,” she continued.

“Carlo’s use of data and visualization techniques to bring the story of Eucharistic miracles to those whose knowledge of their faith is limited (or nonexistent) is a perfect example of an application that would fall under the realm of ‘data science’ today. Methods that use data science to shed light on aspects of Catholicism are very much needed today.”

Credit: PureSolution/Shutterstock.
Credit: PureSolution/Shutterstock.

Modestly describing himself as “mildly tech-savvy,” Nathaniel Hanson, who works in high-level robotics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, told CNA that Carlo’s use of his technological skills to further God’s kingdom demonstrated that “you can use technology as a means to glorify God and to make the world a better place, and that can be a path to a saintly life.”

For his part, much of Hanson’s work focuses on using his skills in robotics to create systems that help victims of natural disasters, which Hanson sees as a way of living out his faith’s call to respect the God-given dignity of every person and using “technology to elevate their dignity.”

Nathaniel Hanson, a technical staff member in the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Systems Group at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. Credit: Photo courtesy of Nathaniel Hanson
Nathaniel Hanson, a technical staff member in the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Systems Group at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. Credit: Photo courtesy of Nathaniel Hanson

Hanson, 27, is a few years younger than Carlo. He said faith is not regularly discussed in the tech-focused circles he works in, but he has occasionally encountered surprise from colleagues when they find out he’s Catholic. 

“Sometimes in intellectual circles, there can be this idea that the natural progression of intellect leads you to atheism or agnosticism,” he explained. 

In light of this, it’s “really exciting to have the first computer scientist saint being named” — for Catholics at large but for scientific-minded Catholics especially, he said. 

“Because of the pressures of the sciences and the disciplines, it is important that they see and point to someone who, even though he was so very young when he died, still dedicated his life to using technology to build the kingdom on Earth. I think that’s a very important call that we, as scientists and engineers, need to see.”

In Boston, where Hanson lives and works, many current and former Catholics take a dim view of the Church, in part because of the abuse scandals. In light of this, Hanson said he hopes Carlo’s canonization will provide “a good conversation starting point” to draw tech-minded people closer to the faith. 

Other young Catholic professionals working in scientific fields similarly said they appreciate Carlo’s public witness to the fact that faith and science are not mutually exclusive but rather harmonious. 

David Ramirez, an assistant professor of chemistry at Brescia University, a Catholic college in Kentucky, told CNA that he had heard of Carlo Acutis years ago but didn’t delve deeper into his story until recently when he learned about Carlo’s aptitude for computer programming, “which I had come to embrace as part of my graduate studies.”

David Ramirez, an assistant professor of chemistry at Brescia University, a Catholic college in Kentucky. Credit: Photo courtesy of David Ramirez
David Ramirez, an assistant professor of chemistry at Brescia University, a Catholic college in Kentucky. Credit: Photo courtesy of David Ramirez

“I was amazed how passionate he was to spread devotion to the Eucharist and used modern tools available to reach his goal,” Ramirez recalled.

Ramirez said in his experience, it’s rare to encounter a young person who has both a “religious” and a “scientific” inclination; many young people have an inclination to one or the other but not both, he said.

“My hope is that having Blessed Carlo canonized [will] indeed help more people come to grasp how science and technology can help us interact with and better communicate the truths that faith makes available to us,” he concluded. 

Josephine Kalshoven, who recently completed her doctorate in biomedical engineering at Brown University, recalls how Carlo first captured her attention when, during the pandemic, she attended the virtual gathering of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS). Learning about the young tech-savvy saint while attending an event made possible by the internet felt appropriate to her, she said. 

Josephine Kalshoven, a biomedical engineer. Credit: Photo courtesy of Josephine Kalshoven
Josephine Kalshoven, a biomedical engineer. Credit: Photo courtesy of Josephine Kalshoven

“I think there is a tendency to see the saints as people who lived in a time and place so far removed from our current era that it can be hard to map the lessons of their lives onto our own daily experiences,” Kalshoven told CNA.

“However, as an engineer and a young person myself, as someone who grew up making websites and playing video games, Carlo Acutis’ life parallels my own. The fact that he seems like he could so easily be ‘just some kid’ that I knew does not diminish his saintliness but rather demonstrates that saintliness is possible in this modern era for modern youth living modern lives.”

Carlo also showed, Kalshoven continued, that Catholics need not eschew modern technology in their pursuit of holiness. At the same time, the prudence and moderation he showed with his use of technology also provided a “shining example” in an era of myriad distractions. 

Moreover, she said, Carlo demonstrated that technology can be used for good, an insight “particularly appealing to people in STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math] fields like myself.”

“[H]e beautifully demonstrated that technology can be used to glorify God and to bring hope and truth to the world… to see a saint who used his technological skills to glorify God is a reminder that we are all called to glorify God in our own work, whatever that may look like,” Kalshoven concluded. 

“There are so many ways to become a saint and live for God here and now. I am thrilled by the canonization of Carlo Acutis … I believe it will only amplify attention to a particularly powerful witness to the faith in this modern era.”

Note: Many of the details about Carlo’s life come from the book “Blessed Carlo Acutis: A Saint in Sneakers” by CNA Rome correspondent Courtney Mares.

Pew study shows Biden and Trump supporters deeply divided on life and family issues

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CNA Staff, Jun 10, 2024 / 18:15 pm (CNA).

A new study examining some of the most contentious issues being considered by the electorate ahead of the 2024 U.S. presidential election between Joe Biden and Donald Trump has found that voters remain highly divided on hot-button issues such as abortion, gender, the role of the family in society, and immigration. 

Here are the topics covered in the June 6 Pew study, which polled some 8,000 registered voters, including top lines of what the researchers found as well as Catholic angles as they relate to several of the applicable topics.

Family

A relatively large minority of voters overall, 39%, think society is better off if people make marriage and having children a priority, while 59% say society is just as well off if people have other priorities.

Trump supporters were roughly three times as likely as Biden supporters to say society is better if people prioritize marriage and family. Nearly half of Trump supporters overall — 56% of men and 37% of women — say it is bad for society that people are having fewer children.

Abortion

As in the past, relatively few Americans (25%) say abortion should be legal in all cases, while even fewer (8%) say it should be illegal in all cases. (Separate, previous polling by EWTN has found that even among Catholics, just 9% of U.S. Catholic voters hold the view that abortion should be fully illegal, despite the Church’s teaching that abortion is a grave evil and is never acceptable at any stage of pregnancy.)

About two-thirds of Americans do not take an absolutist view: 38% say it should be legal in most cases, and 28% say it should be illegal in most cases, the report continues. Support for legal abortion is higher among Black (73%) and Asian (76%) adults compared with white (60%) and Hispanic (59%) adults.

Broken down, about 9 in 10 Biden supporters (88%) say abortion should be legal in most (46%) or all (42%) cases. Just 11% of Biden supporters say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. Biden, the nation’s second Catholic president, has made the expansion of abortion a cornerstone of his presidency. 

Gender and sexuality

Nearly two-thirds of registered voters (65%) say a person’s gender is determined by “the sex assigned to them at birth,” or biological sex, up from 53% in 2017. About a third (34%) say gender can be different from their sex at birth. (The Catholic Church teaches that people are born as body-soul composites and that a person’s sex cannot be changed.)

Nine in 10 Trump supporters and about 4 in 10 Biden supporters say sex at birth determines if someone is a man or a woman, the report says. About 6 in 10 Biden supporters say a person’s gender can be different from their sex at birth, something only 9% of Trump supporters say. 

Biden supporters are more than three times as likely as Trump supporters to say they are comfortable with the use of “they/them” pronouns.

IVF and artificial birth control

Seventy-three percent of all voters — including majorities of Biden (83%) and Trump supporters (64%) — say access to in vitro fertilization (IVF) is a good thing. The Catholic Church opposes the use of IVF as “morally unacceptable,” though polling has suggested few U.S. Catholics view IVF as morally wrong.

Similarly, a majority of voters — 93% of Biden supporters and 66% of Trump supporters — say it is good for society that birth control is widely available. Despite the Church’s longtime opposition to artificial birth control, large majorities of Catholics report using condoms and hormonal birth control.

Religion in society

A large majority of voters (71%) believe that religion should be “kept separate from government policies”; just 28% say government policies should support religious values and beliefs. Larger shares of Trump supporters than Biden supporters say religion — and particularly the Bible — should have influence on government policy.

Of Trump supporters, 36% say the Bible should have “a great deal” of influence on government policy, while 53% of Biden supporters say it should have no influence. Another 22% of Trump backers would like the federal government to declare Christianity the official religion of the U.S., while just 6% of Biden backers say this.

Fifty-nine percent of Trump supporters say that the federal government should not declare Christianity the official religion but it should promote Christian moral values — 34% of Biden supporters say the same.

A large share of voters (80%), including sizable majorities of both Biden and Trump supporters, say they are comfortable with someone they don’t know saying they will keep them in their prayers.

Criminal justice and gun control

A majority of voters overall (61%) say the criminal justice system is generally “not tough enough on criminals.” Just 13% say the system is too tough, while 25% say it treats criminals about right. 

Trump supporters (81%) are about twice as likely as Biden supporters (40%) to say the criminal justice system is not tough enough on criminals; older voters are also more likely to say this overall. 

Roughly 8 in 10 Biden supporters (83%) say the increase in guns in the U.S. is at least somewhat bad for society and those voters prioritize gun control by wide margins. Relatively few Trump supporters (21%) view the growing number of guns negatively; more say it is a good thing for society (40%) or neither bad nor good (38%).

Artificial intelligence

There is “broad skepticism” about the increased use of artificial intelligence (AI) in daily life, with roughly half of both Trump and Biden supporters saying the increased use of AI is “bad for society,” the report suggests. Pope Francis and the Vatican have weighed in repeatedly on the ethical use of artificial intelligence, with the pope set to attend the G7 summit this month to speak about the topic.

Race and diversity

Among registered voters, 8 in 10 Biden supporters say that white people benefit at least a fair amount from advantages in society that Black people do not have. By contrast, only 22% of Trump supporters say this.

Most Biden supporters (79%) say the historical practice of slavery in the U.S. continues to have at least a fair amount of impact. Among Trump supporters, a far smaller share (27%) say slavery’s legacy continues to affect Black people in the U.S.

Eighty-two percent of Biden voters say diversity strengthens society and 4% say it weakens it; this contrasts with about half (49%) of Trump voters who say diversity strengthens American society, while 19% say it weakens it. 

Immigration

Roughly 6 in 10 Trump supporters (63%) say there should be a national effort to deport undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S., while just 11% of Biden supporters hold this view. 

By contrast, Biden supporters overwhelmingly (85%) say undocumented immigrants should be eligible to stay legally if certain requirements are met — including 56% who say this should include a path to applying for citizenship. About a third of Trump supporters (32%) say undocumented immigrants should be eligible for legal status, including just 15% saying there should be a way for them to apply for citizenship.

While a 59% majority of voters say that undocumented immigrants should be allowed to stay in the U.S. legally, this is a substantial drop compared with June 2020, when 74% of voters said that undocumented immigrants should be allowed to stay legally, the report says. 

Sixty-nine percent of Trump supporters under 50 say they’re comfortable hearing a language other than English in their community, with Trump supporters 50 and older slightly less so. Ninety-two percent of Biden supporters under 50 and 76% of those 50 and older express comfort with hearing languages other than English in public places.

Areas of agreement

Despite shining a light on myriad differences in opinion between Trump and Biden voters, the poll also found that both cohorts mostly support the discussion of “America’s historical successes, as well as its flaws.”

To that end, nearly identical shares of Biden (74%) and Trump supporters (71%) say it is extremely or very important to “have public discussions about the country’s historical successes and strengths,” while 78% of Biden supporters and 60% of Trump supporters say it is at least very important to “have public discussions about the country’s failures and flaws.”

In addition, voters, regardless of party affiliation, are very positive about more open discussions of mental health. More than 8 in 10 voters overall (87%) say that more people openly discussing mental health and well-being is good for society. This includes large majorities of both Biden (94%) and Trump supporters (79%).

Excommunication looms for renegade group of Poor Clares in Spain 

The Archbishop of Burgos, Mario Iceta, was appointed Pontifical Commissioner in the case. / Credit: Archdiocese of Burgos, Spain

ACI Prensa Staff, Jun 10, 2024 / 17:30 pm (CNA).

The Ecclesiastical Court of the Archbishopric of Burgos, Spain, has formally accused the Poor Clare nuns of the Monastery of Belorado with schism. 

Italian pro-life association suffers spate of attacks against its headquarters

Three attacks against the Rome headquarters of the Italian pro-life center Pro Vita & Famiglia have taken place in the last month alone. / Credit: Pro Vita & Famiglia

ACI Prensa Staff, Jun 10, 2024 / 16:30 pm (CNA).

The Rome-based pro-life organization Pro Vita & Famiglia has been the target of multiple acts of vandalism.