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Pro-life leaders condemn Rep. Matt Gaetz’s ‘hideous’ comments about abortion activists

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Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 26, 2022 / 16:12 pm (CNA).

National pro-life leaders are condemning Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican congressman from Florida, for his crude comments on the physical appearance of abortion activists. 

“SHAME on @mattgaetz for this hideous comment,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, tweeted, linking to a video of Gaetz’s recent speech.

On July 23, at the Turning Point USA (TPUSA) Student Action Summit in Tampa, Fla., Gaetz used derogatory terms to describe the appearance of abortion supporters.

“Why is it that the women with the least likelihood of getting pregnant are the ones most worried about having abortions?” he asked. “Nobody wants to impregnate you if you look like a thumb.”

Characterizing pro-abortion activists as 5’2” and 350 pounds, Gaetz continued by saying, “You look like you got ankles weaker than the legal reasoning behind Roe v. Wade.”

Gaetz also said in his TPUSA speech that pro-abortion protesters “need to get up and march for like an hour a day, swing those arms, get the blood pumping, maybe mix in a salad.”

In response, another pro-life leader, Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins, publicly criticized Gaetz’s speech on Twitter. Hawkins said that “the whole point” of the pro-life movement is to respect all humans, regardless of their size or any other traits. She compared his comments to attacking preborn babies for their size.

“If you want to claim to hold this pro-life worldview, your actions will need to show that you do not mete out peoples’ value based on what they look like,” Hawkins tweeted. “Rise above & commit to the real foundation of our movement.”

The public reaction prompted outlets to bring to light similar comments Gaetz has made in the past. Insider cited a tweet Gaetz made in May, where he asked: “How many of the women rallying against overturning Roe are over-educated, under-loved millennials who sadly return from protests to a lonely microwave dinner with their cats, and no bumble matches?”

Gaetz continues to defend what he said at the TPUSA Student Action Summit, despite negative feedback from both pro-abortion and pro-life activists.

As Anglican bishops gather, deep divisions over statement on banning same-sex marriage emerge

Archbishop Justin Welby in Łódź, Poland, July 21, 2016. / Mazur/

CNA Newsroom, Jul 26, 2022 / 13:07 pm (CNA).

Following criticism from Anglican bishops, participants in the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury, England will be given the opportunity to “clearly state their opposition” to a motion against same-sex marriage and blessings of homosexual unions.

Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh tells team members he would help raise their baby in event of unplanned pregnancy 

University of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh at his introductory press conference on Dec. 30, 2014. / Eric Upchurch, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Denver, Colo., Jul 26, 2022 / 11:29 am (CNA).

After receiving criticism on social media and from college football fans for remarks made at a pro-life event, Michigan Wolverines’ football coach Jim Harbaugh elaborated on his stance. 

In an interview with ESPN, Harbaugh shared how he has told his family, players, and staff members that if they found themselves in an unplanned pregnancy and could not take care of the baby then he and his wife would raise the child. 

"I've told [them] the same thing I tell my kids, boys, the girls, same thing I tell our players, our staff members. I encourage them if they have a pregnancy that wasn't planned, to go through with it, go through with it," Harbaugh said. "Let that unborn child be born and if at that time, you don't feel like you can care for it, you don't have the means or the wherewithal, then Sarah and I will take that baby." 

He added, "Any player on our team, any female staff member or any staff member or anybody in our family or our extended family that doesn't feel like after they have a baby they can take care of it, we got a big house. We'll raise that baby."

Harbaugh was a keynote speaker at the Plymouth Right to Life dinner and auction on July 17, 15 miles down the road from the University of Michigan, where Harbaugh played college football, and has been head coach since 2015. He gave a powerful speech in defense of the unborn, which triggered a reaction on social media. 

The theme of the evening was “We Were Made to be Courageous.” Harbaugh talked about the courage needed in today’s society for individuals to be able to stand up for their convictions.

“I believe in having the courage to let the unborn be born,” he said, according to the Detroit Catholic. “I love life. I believe in having a loving care and respect for life and death. My faith and my science are what drive these beliefs in me. Quoting from Jeremiah, ‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart. I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.'”

Raised Catholic, Harbaugh spoke about how his convictions were instilled in him from a young age by his parents. He now passes these values onto his own children, and puts them into practice in interactions with his football players and staff.  

Harbaugh recognized that not everyone agrees with his perspective on life, but added that it is important to express what you believe and why you believe it. 

“Passions can make the process messy, but when combined with respect, it ultimately produces the best outcomes,” Harbaugh said. “This process has been passionate and messy, but I have faith in the American people to ultimately develop the right policies and laws for all lives involved. I recognize one’s personal thinking regarding morality of a particular action may differ from their thinking on whether the government should make that action illegal. There are many things one may hold to be immoral, but the government appropriately allows because of some greater good or personal or constitutional right.”

“Ultimately, I don’t believe that is the case with abortion,” he added. “Yes, there are conflicts between the legitimate rights of the mother and the rights of the unborn child. One resolution might involve incredible hardship for the mother, family, and society. Another results in the death of an unborn person."

While neither outcome is good, Harbaugh said, the life of the unborn person must win out. He also noted the importance of supporting pro-life programs for mothers who are expecting and are in need of assistance. 

“In God’s plan, each unborn human truly has a future filled with potential, talent, dreams and love,” he said. “I have living proof in my family, my children, and the many thousands that I’ve coached that the unborn are amazing gifts from God to make this world a better place. To me, the right choice is to have the courage to let the unborn be born.”

His wife, Sarah Harbaugh, also shared her pro-life testimony during the event and how they promote their values as a married couple. 

“From an early age, my mom and dad would go to a Planned Parenthood and pray,” she said. “I feel my mom was a big influence for me, both my parents talked about protecting the unborn. I have friends, even family, who have considered abortion or had an abortion, and I know they are not better for it. If we had more support for women, more people who knew what really happens, we would be in a different place on this issue.”

The auction raised an estimated $44,000 for pro-life initiatives in the area. Donors also gave an estimated $100,000 in pledges for Plymouth Right to Life. 

Parents of Archie Battersbee lose appeal: 12-year-old can be removed from life support, judges rule

The Court of Appeal is based at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. / Anthony M. from Rome, Italy - Flickr via Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0).

London, England, Jul 26, 2022 / 09:21 am (CNA).

The parents of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee have lost an appeal against a decision to remove their son from life support. 

PHOTOS: Rome’s floating procession of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on the Tiber River

A statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was carried in procession in Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood on July 24, 2022. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA

Rome Newsroom, Jul 26, 2022 / 08:17 am (CNA).

Rome’s nine-day celebration of Our Lady of Mount Carmel culminated Sunday with a floating Marian procession in a boat down the Tiber River.

U.S. Bishops’ Chairman on International Justice and Peace Releases "A Renewed Call to Solidarity with Africa"

WASHINGTON – The 19th Plenary Assembly of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) has gathered for their plenary assembly in Accra, Ghana. Upon addressing the assembly today, Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace expressed his solidarity with the Church in Africa and announced the release of A Renewed Call to Solidarity with Africa.

“Two decades ago, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a landmark document to declare our bonds of solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Africa in their pursuit of justice and peace in service of helping men along the path of salvation. Today, with joy and hope, we renew those bonds. On behalf of bishops of the United States, I am pleased to issue the statement of our Committee, A Renewed Call to Solidarity with Africa. This Renewed Call highlights our progress of solidarity, articulates today’s ecclesial, economic, and political hopes and challenges as well as puts forth strategies for future collaboration. Our committee recommits itself to stand alongside the Church in Africa, knowing we are mutually enriched and edified as we do so.”

Auxiliary Bishop Peter L. Smith of Portland, chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on the Church of Africa added his praise and support, saying “This Renewed Call, reinvigorates the bishops’ vision for the Subcommittee’s Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa that directly supports the pastoral capacity of the local Church in Africa. I commend the reading and study of this document to the faithful and all those who wish to further our Christian solidarity with the Church across Africa.”

A Renewed Call to Solidarity with Africa, is available in English, French, and Spanish, along with a practical resource for prayer and action.


Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi


University of Michigan medical students walk out on pro-life speaker

Incoming medical students walk out on an address by a pro-life speaker at the University of Michigan, July 24, 2022. / Screenshot from Scorpiio via Twitter

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 25, 2022 / 16:44 pm (CNA).

Pro-abortion medical students staged a walkout at the University of Michigan’s white coat ceremony Sunday in order to protest the keynote speaker, who is pro-life.

In a video of the ceremony, dozens of students in white coats can be seen standing up and walking out as Dr. Kristin Collier, a clinical assistant professor at the Ann Arbor-based university, takes the podium. Other people, not clothed in white coats, can be seen leaving the ceremony as well.

The university had nominated Collier to give the keynote address to incoming medical students for their entrance to the medical field.

But prior to the ceremony, some students and alumni protested her selection with a petition. The petition, which asked the school to choose a different speaker, took aim at some tweets and interviews in which Collier made comments affirming the dignity of life.

“These comments are antithetical to the tenets of reproductive justice as restrictions on abortion affect women of color, other marginalized women, and trans people disproportionately,” the petition says.

However, the school refused to cancel Collier’s speech. 

A July 13 post from the University of Notre Dame’s “Mirror of Justice” blog showed a purported copy of the letter from Dr. Marschall Runge, dean of the University of Michigan Medical School.

The letter from Runge acknowledged that there had been “both positive and negative feedback” on the university’s choice for keynote speaker. However, he said, Collier did not plan to speak on “a divisive topic” in her remarks. 

“We would not revoke a speaker because they have different personal ideas than others,” he wrote. 

In her beginning remarks, Collier said: “I want to acknowledge the deep wounds that our community has suffered over the past several weeks. We have a great deal of work to do for healing to occur. And I hope that for today, for this time, we can focus on what matters most, coming together to support our newly accepted students and their families with the goal of welcoming them into one of the greatest vocations that exists on this earth: the vocation of medicine.”

Collier’s speech included three pieces of advice to assist the students in their careers. First, she told the crowd that “you are not a machine and neither is your patient,” emphasizing that “machines and robots can’t care for anyone.” 

“Task completion is not care,” she added.

In her second piece of advice, she encouraged the students to ask “big questions,” such as “What does it mean to be human?”, “Why do human beings matter?”, “What is health?”, and “What is medicine and what is it for?”

She noted that philosophical questions “are largely absent in the practice of medicine” and added that medicine “needs a philosophical lens to be able to see why medicine knows what it knows and does what it does.” 

Her third piece of advice was to practice gratitude. She said the medical profession will provide the students many occasions “to be acquainted with grief.”

“But in becoming acquainted with grief, you will hopefully develop an appreciation for what truly matters and what doesn’t,” she said. 

“Not infrequently at this hospital there are cars in our parking garages left behind from when someone has walked into this place and never walked back out,” she said. 

She also shared a story of her residency, when a fellow resident became ill. The efforts of the institution could not save his life, she said. 

“Collectively, we lost the deeply held belief that medicine could be our savior,” she said. “What had happened, in part, is that many of us had made medicine into what theologians call an idol. We had placed unrealistic hope onto something that medicine didn’t deserve and couldn’t live up to. When our idols come crashing down, pain ensues.”

She shared that she has since grown to understand the limits of medicine.

“The suffering can either harden you and make you into a burned-out machine,” she said, “or you can allow the vocation to soften you, to cultivate compassion, love, justice, and mercy. Let medicine do the latter of the two.”

Wildfires force monks out of Santo Domingo de Silos Monastery in Spain

A monk from the Monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos in Spain. / Credit: Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos

Denver Newsroom, Jul 25, 2022 / 14:47 pm (CNA).

The monks, who are known for their Gregorian chant, have been taken in by the nuns at a nearby Benedictine monastery.

Thieves return relic of Precious Blood of Jesus stolen from medieval church

Art detective Arthur Brand and the reliquary that turned up on his doorstep. / Credit: Arthur Brand

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 23, 2022 / 07:27 am (CNA).

Whoever broke into a medieval French church last month and stole a golden reliquary containing what is said to be the Precious Blood of Jesus appears to have had second thoughts.

It seems that once the thieves discovered that the box contained a relic of Jesus, they wanted nothing to do with it.

“They had no idea what they had stolen until they found out on the internet,” Arthur Brand, a Dutch investigator who specializes in recovering high-profile artifacts and stolen works of art, told CNA, “and that’s when they start panicking a bit.”

Brand, whose resume includes the reclamation of a $28 million Picasso and a set of bronze horses once owned by Adolph Hitler, learned of their misgivings from an email that appeared in his inbox one day.

The email purported to be from someone speaking on behalf of the thieves, who weeks earlier had pinched the ornate, centuries-old box from the sacristy of Holy Trinity Abbey in the town of Fécamp in Normandy, France.

Would Brand help them return it to the abbey? No questions asked?

The seasoned detective understood their predicament.

“First of all, you can’t sell such a relic, of course. And apart from that, I think they thought it would bring them very bad luck,” he explained. “So they said, ‘We want to return it, but we don’t want to get caught.’”

The emailer made Brand, a Catholic, an offer he couldn’t refuse. Unless he agreed to take the reliquary off the thieves’ hands, they’d destroy it.

The lead vials containing what is said to be the Precious Blood of Jesus. Credit: Arthur Brand
The lead vials containing what is said to be the Precious Blood of Jesus. Credit: Arthur Brand

Brand's doorbell rang a few days later. Peeking out the window, he could see the outlines of a cardboard box in the dark.

“I went downstairs and there it was,” he said. The next thing he knew he was holding the vessel containing the two lead vials said to contain the blood of Jesus. 

An ‘emotional’ reaction

The Benedictine monastery in Fécamp was a major medieval pilgrimage site beginning in the 12th century. The relic, which was housed there, drew Christians from across Europe. According to legend, the vials contain drops of blood from Jesus that were hidden in a fig tree in the Holy Land, which then floated across the ocean, eventually landing on a beach in Normandy.

Now, this priceless relic was in Brand’s home in Amsterdam. The experience, he said, made him more “emotional” than he had ever been following the recovery of any stolen work of art.

“Because of the importance of the relic, because of everything in it, the whole Middle Ages, Jesus, everything. It’s the recovery that made me the most emotional, of all the pieces I have recovered,” he said.

“It was a very deep feeling, you must understand. This relic, according to legend, was in this church for some 1,500 years. Millions of people in those 1,500 years traveled, some having walked for hundreds of miles, to see the blood of Jesus,” he said. “They went there to pray for their son to return from the Crusades or their daughter who was caught by the plague.”

Dutch Art detective Arthur Brand poses with the relic of the "Precious Blood of Christ" in Amsterdam, on July 6, 2022. Jeremy Audouard/AFP via Getty Images
Dutch Art detective Arthur Brand poses with the relic of the "Precious Blood of Christ" in Amsterdam, on July 6, 2022. Jeremy Audouard/AFP via Getty Images

Brand, describing himself as a “believer,” says he prays every night. “I try to behave, which is not always that easy, of course,” he said. 

While the reliquary was in his house, he said he avoided swearing and was careful about what he said and did.

“I tried to behave even more. It was like you have something in your home which you know is so important to so many people for so many centuries,” he said, “I tried to behave a bit more just out of respect for all these people who have been praying before this relic for all of these centuries.”

Did the reliquary have the same effect on the thieves, prompting them to return it? 

Perhaps, Brand said. But in his experience, he said, criminals generally do not steal from churches.

“I know a lot of thieves who would steal from an old woman but would never steal a penny from a church because they think it’s really bad luck,” he said.

"In their minds, they believe that they could be cursed. Whether they are Catholic, or superstitious, or don’t believe in anything, they still don’t want to risk it,” Brand explained.

Upon learning of the reliquary’s recovery, Le Havre’s Bishop Jean-Luc Brunin said it was “a great relief for the Catholic community” because “the ancient tradition of the Precious Blood has been part of the history of our city," The Tablet reported.      

As the police finish up their investigation and prepare to return the reliquary to its rightful home in France, Brand is returning to his “cold cases.” He's particularly anxious to recover the paintings stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum in Boston in 1990. 

Perhaps the publicity he has received from the stolen relic of the Precious Blood might lead to a break in that case, Brand mused.

“Maybe if somebody knows where these paintings are, and hopefully he’s Catholic and reads your story, these paintings could come back, too,'' he told CNA.

“My doorstep might be a little bit too far for them, but we will find a way.”

Pope Francis to Italian president: Italy faces ‘crucial choices for the life of the country’

Pope Francis received an audience with President Mattarella on Dec. 16, 2021. / Vatican Media

Rome, Italy, Jul 23, 2022 / 07:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis sent birthday greetings to Italian President Sergio Mattarella and thanked him for his dedicated service amid "not a few difficulties."