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Kentucky judge dismisses life at conception as a ‘Christian and Catholic belief’

Ultrasound of a baby in the womb. / GagliardiPhotography/Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 22, 2022 / 19:11 pm (CNA).

A circuit judge in Kentucky has again blocked a pair of state abortion bans from taking effect — in part, he said, because they adopt “a distinctly Christian and Catholic belief” about when life begins.

“The laws at issue here adopt the view embraced by some, but not all, religious traditions, that life begins at the moment of conception,” Judge Mitch Perry of the Jefferson County Circuit Court wrote in an opinion issued Friday.

“The General Assembly is not permitted to single out and endorse the doctrine of a favored faith for preferred treatment. By taking this approach, the bans fail to account for the diverse religious views of many Kentuckians whose faith leads them to take very different views of when life begins,” he said.

“There is nothing in our laws or history that allows for such theocratic based policymaking,” he added.

At issue are two laws Kentucky’s General Assembly passed in 2019. One is a six-week abortion ban, and the other a “trigger” law that would ban virtually all abortions in the state in the event the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. That happened on June 24, clearing the way for states to regulate abortion as they see fit.

Neither Kentucky law makes exceptions for rape or incest, Perry noted.

The plaintiffs in the case — two abortion clinics and an abortionist who owns one of the facilities — maintain the state laws are unconstitutional. They have asked Perry to issue a temporary restraining order to stop them from being enforced until the case is fully resolved in court.

Perry issued a stay June 29 and another one Friday.

Perry argued that in making the laws the General Assembly “essentially” established the “independent fetal personhood” of the fetus, noting in a footnote that the legislative body uses the term “unborn human beings."

A matter of science and reason

Perry wrote in his opinion that there is a “substantial likelihood” that the abortion bans violated the rights to privacy, equal protection, and religious freedom guaranteed in Kentucky’s state constitution.

Regarding religious freedom Perry wrote: "Both the Trigger Ban and the Six Week Ban implicate the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses by impermissibly establishing a distinctly Christian doctrine of the beginning of life, and by unduly interfering with the free exercise of other religions that do not share that same belief."

Pro-life advocates have noted, however, that Perry’s argument stands at odds with the position of the Catholic Church and other pro-life groups that it is a matter of scientific fact that human life begins at conception.

In 2019, the March for Life — which describes itself as the largest annual human rights demonstration in the world — chose as its theme “Unique from Day One: Pro-Life is Pro-Science.” 

“Science is behind the pro-life movement,” Jeanne Mancini, the president of the March for Life, said at the time.

“We see that medical and technological advancements always affirm the pro-life movement, for example, DNA is present at fertilization and no fingerprint on earth, past, present, or future, is the same,” Mancini said. “We know, too, a baby’s heart beats at just six weeks and we can distinctly observe it ourselves with ultrasound technology.”

Several pro-life organizations are not religious yet call for the protection of human life from its very beginning. These groups include Rehumanize International, Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, and Secular Pro-Life.

In the medical world, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), which consists of thousands of members and associates, says that its medical practitioners “share the view that human life begins at fertilization and that the lives of pre-born children should be protected.”

The Catholic Church itself teaches that science supports its teaching that human life begins at conception.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) says that “modern science has not changed the Church's constant teaching against abortion, but has underscored how important and reasonable it is, by confirming that the life of each individual of the human species begins with the earliest embryo.”

The USCCB also devotes an entire page to citing scientists and embryology experts about when life begins: at conception.

In his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae, St. John Paul II acknowledged science and cited the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s 1974 Declaration on Procured Abortion.  

“But in fact, ‘from the time that the ovum is fertilized, a life is begun which is neither that of the father nor the mother; it is rather the life of a new human being with his own growth. It would never be made human if it were not human already,’” the late pope quoted.

“This has always been clear, and ... modern genetic science offers clear confirmation. It has demonstrated that from the first instant there is established the programme of what this living being will be: a person, this individual person with his characteristic aspects already well determined,” he continued. “Right from fertilization the adventure of a human life begins, and each of its capacities requires time — a rather lengthy time — to find its place and to be in a position to act.”

St. John Paul II went on to cite the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s 1987 Instruction on Respect for Human Life in its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation Donum Vitae.

“Even if the presence of a spiritual soul cannot be ascertained by empirical data,” he added, “the results themselves of scientific research on the human embryo provide ‘a valuable indication for discerning by the use of reason a personal presence at the moment of the first appearance of a human life: how could a human individual not be a human person?’”

More recently, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas responded to criticism that opposition to abortion is solely a religious issue. Kansans will vote Aug. 2 on whether state lawmakers should have the authority to regulate or restrict abortion.

“From a Catholic perspective, abortion is not primarily a religious issue but a fundamental human rights issue,” Naumann wrote in the Wichita Eagle. “Our faith helps us understand the dignity of every human life created in the divine image as taught in the Hebrew scriptures, but reason alone is sufficient to know that it is wrong to destroy an innocent human life.”

Moreover, “The mere fact that a law coincides with religious beliefs does not mean it is an impermissible imposition of religion,” Naumann pointed out.

Ivana Trump receives traditional Catholic burial following funeral

Former President Donald Trump, former First Lady Melania Trump, Barron Trump, Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, and other relatives stand outside of St. Vincent Ferrer Roman Catholic Church after the funeral services of Ivana Trump in New York, on July 20, 2022. / Yuki Iwamura/AFP via Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 22, 2022 / 11:50 am (CNA).

The late Ivana Trump, a Catholic, received a traditional Catholic burial following her funeral on Wednesday. The funeral for Trump, attended by her ex-husband, former President Donald Trump, was held at Manhattan’s historic St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church.

Following the funeral, the New York socialite was laid to rest at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., where “ground was consecrated so Ms. Trump could have a traditional Catholic burial,” the New York Times reported. 

The rose-gold coffin was lowered into a 10-plot cemetery overlooking the first hole of the golf course, the New York Post reported. Family and close friends attended the burial service held the same day as the funeral. Donald and his three children with Ivana — Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric — spoke.

A source told the outlet that Trump was laid to rest near the main clubhouse in a private, grassy location marked by a “very discreet piece of granite engraved with her name.”

Former U.S. President Donald Trump, former U.S. First Lady Melania Trump, Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, and other mourners look on as the remains of Ivana Trump are carried out from St. Vincent Ferrer Roman Catholic Church during her funeral service in New York, on July 20, 2022. Yuki Iwamura/AFP via Getty Images)
Former U.S. President Donald Trump, former U.S. First Lady Melania Trump, Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, and other mourners look on as the remains of Ivana Trump are carried out from St. Vincent Ferrer Roman Catholic Church during her funeral service in New York, on July 20, 2022. Yuki Iwamura/AFP via Getty Images)

Before the funeral, CNA confirmed with St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church that Trump was Catholic.

The former president attended the New York funeral with his wife, Melania, and their son, Barron. Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric also came.

Roughly 100 people stood outside of the church to pay respects to Trump, as well as to see the former president and his family, according to the New York Times. One person even held up a sign that read, “PRAYERS AND CONDOLENCES TRUMP FAMILY. GOD BLESS AND PROTECT YOU.”

The service reportedly lasted around two hours, with speeches from each of Trump’s three children and other loved ones. The New York Times reported that most of the speeches “focused on her indefatigable drive, shaped by growing up in Czechoslovakia behind the Iron Curtain.” Her children shared anecdotes about their childhoods with her, noting her forceful yet loving parenting style.

Former nanny of the Trump children, Dorothy Curry, said, “Ivana, we have reached out to you many, many times, but obviously we didn’t reach out far enough,” in reference to some of the more difficult times in Trump’s life. 

Curry added: “We all basically let go and let God, and now you are totally in God’s hands.”

The New York Times reported that pallbearers brought Trump’s golden coffin to a Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home hearse, and her remains were then taken to her final resting place in New Jersey.

Pope Francis entrusts Canada trip to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Pope Francis prays with journalists on a papal flight August 14, 2014. / Alan Holdren/CNA

Rome, Italy, Jul 22, 2022 / 11:45 am (CNA).

Pope Francis visited a Roman basilica on Friday to ask for the Virgin Mary's intercession and protection ahead of his week-long trip to Canada.

‘Astonished’ German leaders take issue with Holy See’s latest warning about the ‘Synodal Way’

Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg at a press conference of the German "Synodal Way" / Synodaler Weg / Max von Lachner

CNA Newsroom, Jul 22, 2022 / 09:42 am (CNA).

The latest warning by the Holy See about the risk of a new schism from Germany arising from the “Synodal Way” has been sharply rejected and met with “astonishment” by its organizers, who in turn accused Rome of not acting like a synodal Church. 

Cardinal Gregory restricts Traditional Latin Masses to three locations in DC archdiocese

Cardinal Wilton Gregory, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, addresses the National Press Club in Washington, DC, on September 8, 2021. / Nicholas Kamm /AFP via Getty Images

Washington D.C., Jul 22, 2022 / 08:00 am (CNA).

Cardinal Wilton Gregory announced Friday that the Traditional Latin Mass will be restricted to three locations in the Archdiocese of Washington.

Starting Sept. 21, the Extraordinary Form of the Mass will only be allowed to be offered at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in Washington, D.C., St. John the Evangelist in Silver Spring, Maryland, and St. Dominic in Aquasco, Maryland.

Gregory lays out the new liturgical norms for the archdiocese, in response to Pope Francis' 2021 motu proprio Traditionis custodes, in a two-page letter and an accompanying decree obtained by CNA.

The Archdiocese of Washington posted the letter with the decree and liturgical norms online Friday morning.

The new protocol requires priests in the archdiocese to obtain permission to offer the Ordinary Form of the Mass ad orientem, “to the east” in Ecclesiastical Latin, in which the priest and the congregation together face the tabernacle during the Mass.

Ordinary Form Masses offered in either “the vernacular or in Latin will follow the prescribed rubric for ‘versus populum’ unless permission is granted otherwise by the Archbishop of Washington,” according to the policy.

The decree states that all sacraments other than the Eucharist must be celebrated according to the liturgical books promulgated by Paul VI and John Paul II after the Second Vatican Council.

In practice this means that baptisms and weddings in the Extraordinary Form will no longer be allowed in the archdiocese, although post-Vatican II rites can be celebrated with the use of Latin under the new norms, which will be reviewed in three years.

"The intent of these requirements is to foster and make manifest the unity of this local Church, as well as to provide all Catholics in the Archdiocese an opportunity to offer a concrete manifestation of the acceptance of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and its liturgical books," Gregory states.

Other locations in the archdiocese where the Traditional Latin Mass is currently offered are not referenced in the new norms. These include St. Mary Mother of God Church in Chinatown, the campus of Georgetown University campus, and St. Francis de Sales Church near The Catholic University of America, all in Washington, D.C., as well as St. Mary of the Assumption in Marlboro, Maryland, and St. Francis de Sales in Benedict, Maryland. The website dclatinmass.com maintains a listing of Latin Mass locations in the area.

Monsignor Pope named delegate

Gregory’s announcement of the new policy came less than a week after the anniversary of Pope Francis’ promulgation of Traditionis custodes, a motu proprio which placed sweeping restrictions on the celebration of Mass using the 1962 Roman Missal, also known as the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, the Tridentine Mass, and the Traditional Latin Mass. 

The Vatican’s Divine Worship dicastery issued a “responsa ad dubia” in December that said that according to Traditionis custodes, sacraments cannot be celebrated using the liturgical books Rituale Romanum and the Pontificale Romanum promulgated before the Vatican II reforms.

Priests in the Washington Archdiocese who wish to offer Mass according to the Roman Missal of 1962, either privately or publicly in the archdiocese will be required to obtain written permission. Gregory said that priests making the request must “explicitly affirm in writing, ‘the validity and legitimacy of the liturgical reform dictated by the Second Vatican Council and the Magisterium of the Supreme Pontiffs,’ and demonstrate an appreciation ‘of the value of concelebration, particularly at the Chrism Mass.’”

Monsignor Charles Pope, pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., will serve as Gregory's delegate "in the pastoral care" of the designated Latin Mass communities, Gregory states.

"This delegate will also serve as a moderator of all the clergy and instituted members who have received permission to celebrate the Eucharist using the Roman Missal of 1962 to ensure that provisions of Traditionis custodes, the Response ad dubia, and these norms are followed," the decree states.

In his letter, Gregory referenced the faithfulness of many adherents of the Traditional Latin Mass.

“In the time I have served as Archbishop of Washington, I have discovered that the majority of the faithful who participate in these liturgical celebrations in the Archdiocese of Washington are sincere, faith-filled, and well-meaning. Likewise, the majority of priests who celebrate these liturgies are doing their very best to respond pastorally to the needs of the faithful,” Gregory wrote in the letter.

He went on to say, however, “It is clear that the Holy Father’s sincere intention is to bring about greater unity in the Church through the celebration of the Mass and sacraments according to the 1970 Roman Missal of Pope Paul VI, which was the fruit of the renewal in the liturgy that the Second Vatican Council called for."

The neighboring diocese of Arlington, Virginia, issued a directive in January barring baptisms and weddings in the Extraordinary Form that were not already scheduled from taking place in the diocese. Twenty-one of the diocese’s 70 parishes offer the Latin Mass, one of the highest percentages among U.S. dioceses.

Pope Francis signed a decree in February confirming that the Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) can continue to use the liturgical books in force in 1962.

This is a developing story.

Pontifical Academy for Life board member: Church teaching on contraception has not changed

Mónica López Barahona, member of the board of the Pontifical Academy for Life. / Derecho a Vivir

Denver Newsroom, Jul 21, 2022 / 13:31 pm (CNA).

Dr. Mónica López Barahona, a member of the Board of Directors of the Pontifical Academy for Life and president of the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation in Spain, has clarified that the recent publication of a book by the academy hasn’t changed the bioethical magisterium of Church.

'The Catholic Church remembers Ukraine': Archbishop visits wounded soldiers

Archbishop Gintaras Grušas, accompanied by Father Andriy Zelinsky of the military chaplaincy, met wounded Ukrainian soldiers and their families. / Photo courtesy of Father Andriy Zelinsky

Rome Newsroom, Jul 21, 2022 / 04:15 am (CNA).

Before visiting recently released prisoners of war in Ukraine, the resident of the Council of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe spoke about self-defense.

‘Transparency and trust and Christ’: New rector takes helm of North American College seminary

Monsignor Thomas Powers, 24th rector of the Pontifical North American College. / Daniel Ibáñez / CNA

Rome, Italy, Jul 20, 2022 / 10:23 am (CNA).

The new rector of the North American College in Rome (NAC) said he wants the seminary to have an atmosphere of transparency and trust, with Christ being at the center of everything students do.

English grandmother arrested for praying near abortion clinic wins religious freedom challenge

Rose Lalor with her rosary in Liverpool, England. / ADF International

Liverpool, England, Jul 20, 2022 / 01:11 am (CNA).

A 76-year-old English grandmother who was fined for praying near to an abortion clinic has successfully overturned her financial penalty, but human rights campaigners still fear that the initial fine represents “a worrying trend in law enforcement” regarding certain beliefs.

German ‘Synodal Way’ a ‘conscious statement against Catechism,’ says official

Marc Frings speaking at a press conference of the German "Synodal Way" on February 4, 2022 / Synodaler Weg/Max von Lachner

CNA Newsroom, Jul 19, 2022 / 03:21 am (CNA).

The German “Synodal Way” is aiming to change the Church’s teaching on homosexuality by proposing “a conscious statement against the current Catholic catechism," according to a leading protagonist of the controversial process.