More than 5,000 anti-abortion advocates attended the second annual Pennsylvania March for Life in Harrisburg on Sept. 19, 2022. This was the first official state March in the nation since the Roe v. Wade reversal.

HARRISBURG – As he finished marching around the State Capitol, Thaddeus Zielinski, 67, a resident of Chinchilla, said he was “thrilled” by the size of the crowd at the second annual Pennsylvania March for Life.

“I was very impressed, especially for a state march or gathering,” Zielinski said. “I’ve been to Washington, D.C. for the March for Life numerous years and I was very impressed with the Harrisburg March – thrilled actually – and I hope we send a clear message into the Capitol to the governor and whoever the next governor may be.”

More than 5,000 anti-abortion advocates filled the Capitol steps on Sept. 19, 2022, sprawling out onto the complex lawn and even onto North 3rd Street. It was the first official state March in the nation since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Churches from across the Diocese of Scranton had a strong presence at the 2022 March for Life. Numerous buses traveled from nearly every corner of the diocese, including Towanda, Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Hazleton, Williamsport and Pocono Pines.

“Love life, choose life,” the Most Reverend Nelson J. Perez, Archbishop of Philadelphia, said as he welcomed the large crowd to an outdoor rally immediately before the march.

Other speakers included Ann McElhinney, producer and co-writer of the film “Gosnell – The Untold Story of America’s Biggest Serial Killer,” Jeanne Mancini, president of the national March for Life, and former U.S. Senate candidate Kathy Barnette.

Barnette told the crowd she is the byproduct of rape and her mother was just 11 at the time she was conceived.

Zach Houston, left, a sophomore at Marywood University, takes a photo with Bishop Joseph C. Bambera and Jordan Cook, a senior at Marywood, at the second annual PA March for Life. (Photos/Eric Deabill)

“I am grateful that there were adults in the room, adults with a mind, with a heart,” Barnette said. “My grandmother couldn’t spell her name but she had enough sense to know that what was growing in my mother’s womb was not a broomstick and was not a clump of cells but a human. It was a life!”

Barnette’s story touched Mike Kilmer of Wyalusing, who arrived at the March for Life on a bus with 35 other people from the Towanda, Wyalusing and Dushore areas.

“Her story is like wow,” Kilmer exclaimed. “I know there were a lot of tears in the audience. What a powerful story. She wouldn’t be here if people subscribed to the theory, ‘Oh, you were raped, so you should abort your baby.’”

Many families and schoolchildren – including students from Holy Redeemer High School, The University of Scranton and Marywood University – attended the second annual Pennsylvania March for Life. They joined many Republican lawmakers who have proposed anti-abortion legislation in the GOP-controlled General Assembly.

“A lot of our representatives should be paying attention. We’ve noticed that several of the representatives won’t even acknowledge the fact that we’re out here and you can see that there are thousands of people. How can you ignore that?” Alex Piechocki, a resident of Towanda and parishioner at Saints Peter & Paul Parish, asked.

Carol Carroll organized a bus trip from Luzerne County’s Back Mountain with the assistance of a Social Justice Grant from the Diocesan Annual Appeal. That meant dozens of parishioners from Gate of Heaven Parish and Our Lady of Victory Parish could attend the March for Life.

“This year’s March was definitely bigger than last year. There was a lot more excitement too. It was great,” Carroll said.

“We’ve now got to go home and spread the word, not only to be here in Harrisburg but be in our communities and in our churches,” her fellow parishioner, Nancy Restaino, added.

Attending the March for Life on Sept. 19, 2022, from Holy Redeemer High School in Wilkes-Barre was, from left: Jeff Passetti, Sophia Fiedorczyk, Marcus Fiedorczyk, Lukas Kachinko and Megan Martin.

Pennsylvania remains a state where abortions are still legal through the end of the 23rd week of pregnancy and allowed after only in cases of life or health endangerment.

Meanwhile, other states are passing laws or implementing restrictions on abortion in the post-Roe era where the legality of abortion is left up to each state.

The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, attended this year’s March for Life in Harrisburg. He also concelebrated the 1:30 p.m. Mass at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Harrisburg which was attended by hundreds of people, including many from the Scranton area.

“It is a great testimony and witness to the fact that at the heart of the belief of so many of our Catholics is this incredible respect for human life and it’s really consoling to me to see our people be willing to stand on what they believe and be willing to profess it so boldly,” the bishop said.

SCRANTON – Later this week, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine reaches its seven-month mark, people of goodwill are being invited to come together and pray for an end to the senseless conflict.

A Prayer Service for an End to the War in Ukraine will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton.

Father Myron Myronyuk, Pastor, Saint Vladimir Ukrainian Catholic Church of Scranton, who has several family members still living in Ukraine and fighting in the Ukrainian military, will lead the Prayer Service along with the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton.

The special Prayer Service comes at a pivotal time. In a prerecorded video message released Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial military mobilization that would call up roughly 300,000 reservists to the military. During the address, Mr. Putin also challenged the West over its support for Ukraine.

During Sunday’s Prayer Service in Scranton, everyone in attendance will be invited to offer prayers for peace in Ukraine and for the innocent people who continue to suffer in the country. A goodwill offering for those on the ground helping the Ukrainian people will be collected at the conclusion of the Prayer Service.

While in-person attendance is highly encouraged, the Prayer Service will also be broadcast live on CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton and livestream on the Diocese of Scranton website, YouTube channel and social media platforms.

Destroyed houses and cars are seen in Izium, recently liberated by Ukrainian Armed Forces, in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine, Sept. 20, 2022. (CNS photo/Gleb Garanich, Reuters)




Bishop Bambera celebrates the 150th Anniversary Mass for Saint Basil Church in Dushore on Sept. 17, 2022. (Photo courtesy/The Sullivan Review)

DUSHORE – Hundreds of people came together in prayer and thanksgiving on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first Mass said inside Saint Basil Church.

While the public celebration was delayed a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the faith and spirit of those in attendance was undeniable.

“Most of the community is here,” parishioner Hayes Clark said. “We have quite a Catholic community here in the Endless Mountains. It is just a good time for all.”

The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, served as principal celebrant of the Mass.

During his homily, he reminded everyone that a parish is more than just a building, it is the People of God.

“Through our faith in the risen Jesus, we are bound to our mothers and fathers, to grandparents and great-grandparents, and to every soul that has ever worshipped in this wonderful church for its 150 years,” Bishop Bambera said. “We are bound together because of the Eucharist that we celebrate on this altar and because of the words of faith that we proclaim in its presence: “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”

The special Mass brought people to tears.

From baptisms to weddings and funerals, this church has meant so much to people.

“I started to cry in Mass because I was born and raised in this church, baptized in this church and now I’m raising my kids in this church. My daughter served in the choir for the first time today,” parishioner Megan Bohensky said.

Following the Mass, a special dinner was held in Saint Basil’s hall.

Two proclamations, one from the Dushore mayor and the other from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, were presented.

The history of Saint Basil Church is significant.

The beginning of Catholic life within the present boundaries of the Diocese of Scranton in the early 1800s traces some of its easiest roots back to the Dushore-area.

“It’s 150 years since the church was built. My granduncle, Father Xavier A. Kaier came from Germany. He traveled and said mass and then came here and was the first rector, I think of this parish. He’s buried outside the church,” parishioner Suzanne Kaier explained.

Numerous renovations have helped Saint Basil Church remain the ‘beacon of faith’ that it is today.

It’s most recent challenge came in 2019 when the church was damaged in an EF-1 tornado with winds of up to 110 miles an hour.

“We had a tornado that tore part of the roof off. A tree fell on the rectory and knocked Father Thom out of bed but when Father said ‘we need to raise money,’ everybody came through,” parishioner Bob Guglielmi said.

After more than a century and a-half of doing Christ’s work, celebrating life, teaching people about Jesus and the faith, and helping those in need, the people in Dushore show no signs of slowing down.

“We as a Catholic community really strive to help out wherever we can in the community and the community in general is just one wonderful community to live in,” parishioner Donn Tourscher said.

Pope Francis prepares to address young people who participated in a pilgrimage hike from the Monte Mario nature reserve in Rome to St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Oct. 25, 2018, during the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment. Catholic young people are among the many groups of the faithful worldwide invited to share testimony and talk abut their experience of church during preparations for the 2023 world Synod of Bishops on synodality. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

WASHINGTON (CNS) – Catholics across the country continue to feel wounded by the clergy abuse crisis, seek a more welcoming church in which their “lived reality” is prioritized over rules and regulations, and desire lifelong spiritual, pastoral and catechetical formation as disciples, according to a report synthesizing the 10-month synodal process in dioceses.

Participants in the process also expressed concern that the U.S. Catholic Church is deeply divided and that a lack of unity exists among the bishops, spoke of a desire to “accompany with authenticity” LGBTQ+ individuals and their families, and voiced hope that laypeople’s gifts would be more widely utilized in a spirit of collaboration throughout the church, the report said.

Released Sept. 19 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the report summarizes the concerns, hopes, pains and desires voiced by an estimated 700,000 participants who joined thousands of listening sessions and other events during the diocesan phase in the lead-up to the Synod of Bishops on synodality in October 2023.

There are roughly 66.8 million Catholics in the U.S., according to the report, meaning more than 1% of Catholics participated in the listening sessions.

“The listening is an opening movement toward a wise discernment locally, regionally and nationally about what our deepest concerns, our deepest hopes are right now at this moment in time,” Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas, who is overseeing the U.S. involvement in the synodal process, told Catholic News Service.

Bishop Flores, who chairs the USCCB’s Committee on Doctrine, said the process that has unfolded since October – and led to the 16-page synthesis report sent to the Vatican – enabled people to respectfully listen to each other and develop a new understanding of what life in the church can be.

“It’s an important step that gives us an experience as a local church,” Bishop Flores said. “That’s why I think it’s always important to see that this is a seed that is planted and has a chance to grow. I think that’s what the Holy Father is asking for us.”

Titled “National Synthesis of the People of God in the United States of America for the Diocesan Phase of the 2021-2023 Synod,” the report was prepared in advance of the Synod of Bishops called by Pope Francis.

The synod’s theme is “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.”

The report is the synthesis of 290 documents received by the USCCB from various contributors. The report said the documents “represent over 22,000 reports from individual parishes and other groups” that emerged from more than 30,000 opportunities to join the synodal process.

The national synthesis report draws from the 14 intermediate syntheses submitted by teams from each of the geographic regions of the U.S. church. All 178 Latin dioceses and archdioceses submitted syntheses that were incorporated into the regional reports.

The 18 Eastern Catholic eparchies and archeparchies, which make up a separate region under the USCCB, submitted their reports directly to the Vatican.

For the process, the USCCB created a 16th “region” for the numerous Catholic national ministries, universities, associations and organizations working throughout the country. Those organizations submitted 112 summary reports.

In a letter introducing the report, Bishop Flores described the document as “an attempt to synthesize and contextualize the common joys, hopes and wounds called forth with the help of the Holy Spirit in the unfolding of the synod.”

“While not a complete articulation of the many topics and perspectives shared in the listening process, this synthesis is an attempt to express the broader themes that seemed most prevalent in the dioceses and regions of our country,” he wrote.

The report is divided into four themes: “Enduring Wounds,” “Enhancing Communion and Participation,” “Ongoing Formation for Mission” and “Engaging Discernment.” Each section summarizes common observations raised in the listening sessions.

It includes directly quoted descriptions of common concerns, hopes and desires from individual regional reports raised in the local listening sessions.

The report cites several “enduring wounds” expressed during the sessions. In addition to the still unfolding effects of the sexual abuse crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to exact a toll on the sense of community people felt before the virus swept around the world in 2020.

“The pandemic itself ‘has led to the fraying of our communities in some ways, accelerating a trend toward disengagement and intensifying the isolation and loneliness of many, youth and elderly in particular. A large number of faithful have not yet returned to worship,'” the report said, quoting the Region 12 submission from Northwestern states.

Divisiveness and polarization in the church was a concern expressed in multiple regional reports. The Region 9 report covering four Midwestern states said division over the celebration of the Eucharist is disconcerting, particularly when it comes to the pre-Vatican II Mass.

“The limited access to the 1962 missal was lamented; many felt that the difference over how to celebrate the liturgy ‘sometimes reach the level of animosity. People on each side of the issue reported feeling judged by those who differ from them,'” the national synthesis report said quoting the Region 9 submission.

Other concerns were expressed by people who feel marginalized. The report said marginalized people fall into two broad groups.

One made up of those who are vulnerable by their lack of social or economic power, including those with disabilities, the mentally ill, immigrants, ethnic minorities, people in the U.S. without documents, the unborn and their mothers, and those living in poverty, who are homeless, are incarcerated or living with an addiction.

The second group includes women, “whose voices are frequently marginalized in the decision-making processes of the church,” the report said. Others in the group include those who are marginalized “because circumstances in their own lives are experienced as impediments to full participation in the life of the church” including members of the LGBTQ+ community and people who are divorced and may have remarried, and those civilly married.

“The synodal consultations around the enduring wounds caused by the clergy sexual abuse scandal, the pandemic, polarization and marginalization have exposed a deep hunger for healing and the strong desire for communion, community, and a sense of belonging and being united,” the national synthesis report said.

Under the theme of “Enhancing Communion and Participation,” the sacramental life of the church and the spirit of welcome within the church were addressed. The report found that the wounds expressed among participants in listening sessions could be addressed by the church being more welcoming to those not in the mainstream.

Quoting the Region 13 report from Southwestern states, the synthesis report said participants were concerned with “obstacles to community within their parishes, partly due to the divisive political climate and resulting polarization within the country.”

People in the region also identified the centrality of the Eucharist as a “source of hope for greater unity.” They said in addition that “receiving Eucharist does bring them more closely in solidarity with the poor,” according to the synthesis report.

Concerns about racism within the church and the lack of welcome to diverse cultural and ethnic communities emerged in listening sessions. The elderly, the report said, were particularly hurt by the departure of young people from church life.

“Young people themselves voiced a feeling of exclusion and desired to participate more fully as members of the parish community,” the synthesis report said.

The synthesis report also included the observation that “nearly all synodal consultations shared a deep appreciation for the powerful impact of women religious who have consistently led the way in carrying out the mission of the church.”

Participants in listening sessions expressed a “desire for stronger leadership, discernment and decision-making roles for women — both lay and religious — in their parishes and communities.”

The synthesis report said a common hope that emerged nationwide was the “desire for lifelong spiritual, pastoral and catechetical formation as disciples.” Discussions in the sessions “made clear the importance of evangelization as we continue to live out the church’s mission, which requires stronger formation.”

Steps would include accompaniment with families in their formation as people long for a closer encounter with Jesus.

Suggestions also emerged on the need to “journey together” in the formation of clergy. The Region 5 intermediate report from Southern states suggested such formation was needed to better understand human and pastoral needs, cultural sensitivity, stronger emphasis on social justice, how to include laypeople in decision- making and “learning to speak with empathy, creativity and compassion.”

Laypeople, the synthesis report said, also expressed hope that a genuine appreciation for their gifts and talents would grow into a “relationship of collaboration” with pastors.

The final theme, “Engaging Discernment,” concluded that the diocesan phase of the synodal process was the first step in a church rooted in synodality, or walking together.

The synthesis report said the process enabled thousands of people to reengage “in the simple practice of gathering, praying together and listening to one another.”

It invited people to commit to “ongoing attentive listening, respectful encounter and prayerful discernment.”

Going forward, the report called for continued engagement with communities that did not participate broadly in the listening sessions particularly Indigenous people, ethnic communities and immigrants.

“Engaging and discerning with our sisters and brothers who experience the woundedness of marginalization, as well as those whose voice were underrepresented within the synodal process, will be essential for the unfolding of the synodal journey in our dioceses and in our country,” the report said.

The next phase in preparation for the Synod of Bishops is being called the continental phase. It will find teams gathering by continent to synthesize the reports submitted to the Vatican thus far. Synod officials will prepare the “instrumentum laboris,” or working document, to guide continental or regional ecclesial assemblies that will take place by March.

The North American report will be submitted by the U.S. and Canada. Bishop Flores said some preliminary outreach has already occurred among the teams from the two nations. Other continental reports will involve significantly larger gatherings of teams from individual ecclesial assemblies.

Those assemblies will produce another set of documents that will help in the drafting of a second working document for the Synod of Bishops in October 2023.

The synod is expected to produce a final document on how synodality can be practiced throughout the church.

Archbishop Borys Gudziak of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, left, and Washington Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory participate in a press briefing at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington Sept. 21, 2022. The briefing followed an ecumenical prayer service to pray for the victims of the war in Ukraine and for peace there. (CNS photo/Matthew Barrick, Catholic Standard)

WASHINGTON (CNS) – Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory of Washington joined Archbishop Borys Gudziak of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia Sept. 21 for an ecumenical prayer service to remember those who have been killed in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and to renew calls for peace for that war-ravaged nation.

Archbishop Gudziak prayed that God would “in blessed repose grant (the victims of the war) eternal rest” and “render their memory eternal.”

He also prayed God would “place the souls of his servants, the victims of the war in Ukraine, which have departed from us, in the abode of the just, and give them rest in the bosom of Abraham, and number them among the just.”

The prayers were offered during the Panakhyda (service for deceased) that was held in the Crypt Church at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

The service also marked 200 days since the start of renewed hostilities by Russia against Ukraine.

“We join in this evening according to the prayer of the Byzantine Ukrainian tradition to show our solidarity in the one body of Christ,” Cardinal Gregory said. “We pray for those defending their homeland so that they may be strengthened to live in the fullness of God’s love.”

Cardinal Gregory and Archbishop Gudziak were joined by Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services, Washington Auxiliary Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, who is the U.S. bishops’ migration committee chairman, representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Melkite Catholic Church.

The mostly sung prayer service drew a congregation of slightly more than 100 people — some in traditional Ukrainian dress.

“Tonight, as we gather to remember the senseless suffering of the Ukrainian people, we turn to our God, our only help,” Cardinal Gregory said. “Tonight, we pray in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

“Tonight, we remember our freedom, we remember the love of Jesus Christ for the entire world as we gather before the cross. The cross of Our Lord represents the greatest manifestation of love.”

Since Feb. 24, when Russia invaded Ukraine, more than 5,900 Ukrainian civilians have been killed and an additional 8,700 civilians have been injured, according to the U.N. At least 972 Ukrainian children have been killed or injured.

“These staggering statistics tell the tale of a horrible tragedy,” Cardinal Gregory said at the prayer service. “Yet amid this dreadful tragedy, we have seen some of the most charitable acts. It brought out the best in so many people throughout the world as they opened their home and hearts to refugees.”

Both Cardinal Gregory and Archbishop Gudziak lamented reports of war crimes and other atrocities being committed against the people of Ukraine by Russian soldiers.

Recently a mass grave in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Izium was discovered and believed to contain the remains of about 500 people. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in a video message, said investigators saw evidence that some of the victims had been tortured.

Similar mass grave sites were found earlier this year in other areas formerly occupied by Russian forces.

In addition, in areas recaptured by Ukrainian forces, the U.N.’s human rights monitors have found evidence of torture, mutilation, rape, looting and the deliberate killings of civilians by Russian troops as well as churches, houses, hospitals, schools and other buildings being targeted.

“Today our Ukrainian sisters and brothers face unspeakable tragedies,” Cardinal Gregory said. “These war crimes call out to God as countless people mourn their dead. We must remember these people.”

“We remember and name these atrocities to remember what is not authentically human, to remember these sufferings are not from God,” he added.

Archbishop Gudziak asked for prayers for “those who were tortured and executed.” He also reminded the faithful to pray for “those who are in constant pain” and for “all those killed and for their eternal repose.”

The current hostilities have caused Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II, as approximately 7.3 million Ukrainians have fled the country and another third of the population is displaced from their homes. The war also has been blamed for a worsening global food insecurity crisis.

“Many nations of the world have opened their countries and their homes (to Ukrainian refugees),” Cardinal Gregory said. “This is a wonderful example of humanity, but we cannot say we are doing enough until there is peace in Ukraine.”

The evening prayer service came on a day when war rhetoric dominated the news.

Russian President Vladimir Putin renewed his nuclear threats, and U.S. President Joe Biden, in an address to the U.N., criticized Russia for shunning its nuclear nonproliferation agreements and for “extinguishing Ukraine’s right to exist as a state.”

Archbishop Gudziak conceded there is a lot to worry about, but “fear is something the devil wants to instill,” he added.

“We have to trust we are in the hands of the Lord. If we pray, if we trust in the Lord, if we look at the example of the martyrs, then we will find what we are looking for,” he said.

At the end of the prayer service, Archbishop Gudziak noted that he has been to Ukraine four times in the past four months “and I have seen the people of Ukraine are standing up for justice (and) risking their lives.”

“Everyone I have met (in Ukraine) — they thank you for your support. They thank you for you being informed and standing up for the truth,” he said. “They thank people of goodwill for their humanitarian aid. Everywhere I went, Ukrainians were thanking Americans and American Catholics.”

By his own estimate, he said, American Catholics have contributed about $100 million in humanitarian aid to the suffering people of Ukraine.

“The generosity of Catholic people in the United States should not be underestimated,” Cardinal Gregory remarked. “The people of Ukraine need all the help we can provide them, and we must insist peace return to people from whom peace was taken.”

Archbishop Gudziak said he was heartened by that fact that “there has been a thundering chorus of support from the United Nations” and that the church “has participated in the efforts of freedom and liberation.”

But he also has been saddened by “the daily stream of funerals to the cemeteries.”

“Seeing so many funerals and so many grieving families is so painful,” Archbishop Gudziak said. “However, I have not heard one Ukrainian say, ‘We have to give up.'”

Archbishop Gudziak said that those who wish to help should send donations to Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Charities USA, the Knights of Columbus and many other Catholic agencies that are collecting money.

Donating money is the best way to help the people of Ukraine, he noted, because many needed items can be purchased in Ukraine, which in turn supports the local economy.

“Please continue to pray,” he said. “There is nothing more powerful.”

Abria Pregnancy Resources in St. Paul, Minn., is seen vandalized Aug. 1, 2022. (CNS photo/Angela Franey via The Catholic Spirit)

WASHINGTON (CNS) – House sponsors of a new bill to protect pregnancy centers said the measure would require the Biden administration to publicly disclose how it is handling the investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators of violent attacks on pregnancy resource centers around the country.

“My goal is to foster an environment where no woman feels like their only option is abortion, and I am committed to supporting women and children at every stage of life,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., who co-sponsored the bill with Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J.

“The violent attacks on pregnancy centers in Washington state and across the country are reprehensible and only endanger and intimidate the women who depend on them for critical medical care, education and other resources,” Rodgers said in a statement Sept. 20, the day she and Smith introduced the bill.

The Protect Pregnancy Care Centers Act of 2022 quickly garnered 28 co-sponsors.

“I believe all extreme and hateful acts of violence should be condemned, which is why I’m helping lead this legislation to hold President (Joe) Biden accountable for his failure to respond to this threat with the urgency it deserves,” Rodgers said.

Nearly 70 acts of violence against such centers have been recorded since May, when a draft opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health organization case was leaked.

The court’s June 24 decision in the Dobbs case ultimately overturned Roe v. Wade, which had legalized abortion nationwide. The ruling allows states to decide their own laws regarding abortion.

Many of the centers have been firebombed, vandalized and graffitied.

Smith said the “pro-abortion” group “Jane’s Revenge,” whose name has been graffitied on many of the centers that have been attacked, has declared “open season” on these pro-life pregnancy centers, amounting to what he called “horrific acts of terrorism.”

“Now more than ever, we need to ensure the safety and security of the estimated 3,000 pregnancy care centers that provide life-affirming alternatives to abortion — offering critical, quality care for pregnant women facing challenging circumstances and helping to save so many unborn, innocent lives,” said Smith said in a statement.

He said the attacks on these centers are “a coordinated effort to intimidate front-line volunteers and licensed medical professionals providing critical support to mothers in need and their unborn baby boys and girls.”

Among its provisions, the Protect Pregnancy Care Centers Act would require the inspector generals of the departments of Justice and Homeland Security to investigate and disclose to Congress information on the Biden administration’s response “to the surging violence,” including details gathered on groups that have claimed responsibility for the attacks and the number of prosecutions initiated against perpetrators.

The measure also would require the Biden administration to report on current funding streams available to pregnancy care centers for needed security measures “to guard against violent threats and provide recommendations for the creation of additional grant programs to protect them given the spike in attacks in recent months.”

Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life, said the legislation “is a step forward in ensuring that pregnancy centers are able to serve the needs of women in their communities without fear of violence.”

Other supporters of the measure include the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Heartbeat International, the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, March for Life and the Family Research Council.

In a June 16 story, the Washington Examiner quoted an FBI spokesperson as saying the agency was investigating attacks and threats “targeting pregnancy resource centers and faith-based organizations across the country.”

“The FBI takes all threats seriously and we continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners and will remain vigilant to protect our communities,” the spokesperson said.

Besides attacks on pregnancy centers, arson, vandalism and other destruction has taken place at about 100 Catholic sites across the United States since May 2020.

A number of Catholic and other pro-life leaders, as well as members of Congress, have urged the Biden administration to do more to investigate such attacks.

On Sept. 21, the CEO of a pregnancy care center in Buffalo, New York, that was firebombed over three months ago told reporters that neither the local police department nor the FBI “is taking the case seriously.”

In late August, pro-life leaders denounced a consumer alert issued by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison criticizing the state’s crisis pregnancy centers.

His alert stated that “many so-called crisis pregnancy centers may pose as reproductive health care clinics despite not providing comprehensive reproductive health care to consumers.”

In late June, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., called for the state and federal government to “crack down” on crisis pregnancy centers, and a month later demanded the federal government shut them all down because, she said, they “fool people who are looking for pregnancy termination.”

A new study cited by Rodgers, Smith and National Right to Life’s Tobias showed that nearly 3,000 pregnancy centers serve about 2 million clients annually.

It said the centers provide such services as limited obstetrical ultrasounds under a local doctor’s oversight; parenting classes; material assistance, such as diapers, cribs and car seats; and referrals to local resources to help pregnant women in need with housing or transportation.

A member of the Puerto Rico National Guard wades through water Sept. 19, 2022, in search for people to be rescued from flooded streets in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona in Salinas, Puerto Rico. (CNS photo/Ricardo Arduengo)

Puerto Rico’s archbishop said he has not been in contact with all his priests since Hurricane Fiona knocked out power to the island, and he expressed concern for the hurricane’s impact on the southern and western parts of the island.

Archbishop Roberto González Nieves also said he expected Catholic schools in the most affected areas to be closed for weeks, and he expressed concern for the trauma suffered by children.

“I haven’t been able to have a Zoom call today and very few phone calls in general because the signals are not working — but yesterday I had one Zoom with 35 pastors; many could not join us because they don’t have electricity or internet or water,” Archbishop González told Catholic News Service by phone after several failed attempts to reach him Sept. 21.

“This hurricane sat over the island for almost a day with heavy winds and rains, but the south and the west is where there were towns destroyed — the Ponce and Mayagüez regions really got the brunt of the hurricane,” he added.

“In terms of the general San Juan area, my sense is that the damage is minimal, but in some respects it was more difficult than during Maria, when I never lost contact through the internet or telephone. But with Fiona it rained constantly for a very long time.”

The hurricane touched down in Puerto Rico Sept. 18, causing massive flooding, wind damage, power outages and the shutdown of water service across a large part of the island, affecting millions of residents and leaving at least four people dead, officials said, although they were investigating at least four more deaths.

Earlier, Fiona left one dead in Guadeloupe. After the hurricane passed Puerto Rico, it caused worse damage in the Dominican Republic as it picked up strength moving north, triggering mudslides and destroying hundreds of homes. In the Dominican Republic, at least two people were killed — one by a utility pole, another by a tree, which were toppled by gusting winds.

Fiona also hit Turks and Caicos Sept. 20, and gusts were recorded as high as 155 mph Sept. 21 as it headed toward Bermuda. It was expected to pass between Bermuda and the eastern United States before traveling northward to Nova Scotia and other Atlantic provinces of eastern Canada.

Archbishop González told CNS that various Catholic Charities chapters around the U.S. as well as the Chicago-based Catholic Extension had already offered financial or material support.

He said the island’s own Caritas staff had not had enough time to compile a report on the damage in the hard-hit areas due to transportation and public safety difficulties following Fiona.

He described both Ponce and Mayagüez as impoverished areas and said Ponce was still reeling from damage following a recent earthquake that left the local cathedral with structural damage that had only recently been addressed in a preliminary way.

He also said post-hurricane repairs and hardening of Puerto Rico’s infrastructure following Hurricane Maria in 2017 were not as thorough as hoped for, and the situation has now been exacerbated by Fiona.

“We did not attend sufficiently into the recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria, so it is a big wakeup call. Here in this hurricane (path), every couple of years we get to survive one of these atmospheric catastrophes,” he said, adding that he also experienced a severe hurricane crisis during his time as a coadjutor bishop in Corpus Christi, Texas.

“This kind of experience is especially traumatic for children; during a hurricane it is not just the winds and rains, it is the noise which is quite traumatic for children,” the archbishop said, adding that he expects local Catholic schools in the affected areas would be closed for weeks.

In separate telegrams sent to the presidents of the bishops’ conferences of Puerto Rico and of the Dominican Republic Sept. 21, Pope Francis assured them of his prayers, asking that God would offer his consolation to those suffering as a result of the natural disaster.

To find out how to assist visit the website for Caritas in Puerto Rico:

A husband feeds his wife, an Alzheimer’s patient, in their house in Lisbon, Portugal, in this 2009, file photo. At his general audience Sept. 21, 2022, Pope Francis marked World Alzheimer’s Day. (CNS photo/Nacho Doce, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Marking World Alzheimer’s Day Sept. 21, Pope Francis asked people to pray for all those affected by the illness, including families and caregivers.

Alzheimer’s disease “affects so many people, who are often pushed to the margins of society because of this condition,” the pope said at the end of his general audience talk in St. Peter’s Square Sept. 21.

“Let us pray for those suffering from Alzheimer’s, for their families, and for those who lovingly care for them, that they may be increasingly supported and helped,” he said.

He also asked that people pray for men and women facing hemodialysis, dialysis or an organ transplant.

September is also World Alzheimer’s Month, which is an initiative by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) to raise awareness, challenge the stigma surrounding Alzheimer’s and dementia, and garner more support for those affected. Dementia is a general term for a group of symptoms that negatively impact memory, and Alzheimer’s is a specific disease that is the most common cause of dementia.

According to ADI, in 2020 there were more than 55 million people worldwide living with dementia and the number is expected to reach 78 million in 2030.

The majority of people with dementia live in low- and middle-income countries and, since dementia mainly affects older people, the fastest growth in the elderly population is taking place in China, India, and their south Asian and western Pacific neighbors, according to ADI.

Early diagnosis and access to health care, which are lacking in underdeveloped communities, are key for helping people get needed treatment, care and support, it added.

Destroyed houses and cars are seen in Izium, recently liberated by Ukrainian Armed Forces, in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine, Sept. 20, 2022. (CNS photo/Gleb Garanich, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Highlighting the “terrible situation” unfolding in Ukraine, Pope Francis again called for prayers for the nation’s “noble and martyred” people.

The pope said his envoy there “told me about the pain of these people, the savagery, the monstrosities, the tortured corpses they find.”

Pope Francis was relaying the news he said he received Sept. 20 by telephone from Polish Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, papal almoner, whom the pope has sent to Ukraine to deliver humanitarian aid and comfort in his name.

Speaking to those gathered for his general audience in St. Peter’s Square Sept. 21, the pope asked that people pray and unite with “these people who are so noble and martyred.”

Cardinal Krajewski was making his fourth visit to Ukraine since the war began and traveled to Odesa and surrounding areas.

In an interview with Vatican News published Sept. 19, the cardinal said he could only pray when he was standing near a mass grave site in eastern Ukraine and seeing the delicate and solemn removal of bodies.

“I knew I would find so many dead, but I met men who showed the beauty that is sometimes hidden in our hearts,” Cardinal Krajewski said after visiting the mass grave in the northeastern city of Izium.

“They showed a human beauty in a place where there could have only been revenge. Instead, there wasn’t,” he told Vatican News.

Russian forces fled the area after Ukraine launched a counteroffensive to regain occupied territory. In a forest near Izium, soldiers found a mass grave site with the remains of an estimated 500 people.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in a video message, said investigators saw evidence that some of the victims had been tortured.

Similar mass grave sites were found earlier this year in other areas formerly occupied by Russian forces.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied Russia’s involvement in the atrocities, and repeated accusations that mass grave sites were staged by Ukraine, the Reuters news agency reported.

Cardinal Krajewski, who was accompanied by Ukrainian Bishop Pavlo Honcharuk of Kharkiv-Zaporizhia, said the careful removal of the bodies in Izium seemed like a solemn liturgy.

“There was one thing that touched me so much,” he told Vatican News Service. “These young Ukrainians were pulling out the bodies so gently, so quietly, in total silence. It looked like a ‘celebration’; nobody was talking but there were so many policemen and soldiers there — at least 200 people. All in silence, with an incredible appreciation for the mystery of death. Truly there was so much to learn from these people.”

Noting that the workers removed the bodies as if they were doing it “for their own families, for their parents, children, siblings,” Cardinal Krajewski said that he and Bishop Honcharuk could only watch and pray.

“The bishop and I were walking around among them. I was reciting the Divine Mercy Chaplet the whole time; we were there for at least three hours. I couldn’t do anything else,” he said.

“This is what has stayed with me now that I’m back in Kharkiv. I am in the chapel and think about these young people,” he said.

In an interview with Vatican News published Sept. 17, Cardinal Krajewski said he and several others came under gunfire while delivering humanitarian aid to suffering Ukrainians on Pope Francis’ behalf.

The Polish cardinal was delivering goods in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia with a Catholic bishop, a Protestant bishop and a Ukrainian soldier when the attack occurred.

“For the first time in my life, I didn’t know where to run because it’s not enough to run. You have to know where to go,” the cardinal said.

The cardinal and those with him managed to escape the attack and continued delivering goods loaded in a minibus.

The Dicastery for the Service of Charity announced Sept. 9 that Cardinal Krajewski would embark on his fourth trip to Ukraine and visit Odesa, Zhytomyr, Kharkiv and other locations in eastern Ukraine.

The purpose of his visit, the dicastery said, was to provide support to “various communities of faithful, priests and religious, and their bishops, who for more than 200 days continue to remain in the places of their ministry despite the dangers of war.”

“It is a silent and evangelical trip to be with the people who are suffering, praying and comforting each of them, showing with his presence that they are not alone in this situation that is only bringing destruction and death,” the statement said.

Speaking by telephone with Vatican News, Cardinal Krajewski noted that his visit to Ukraine coincided with the ninth anniversary of his episcopal ordination and his appointment as papal almoner.

The cardinal said he spent the day loading a minibus with provisions and rosaries blessed by the pope and delivering them to people in areas where “no one besides soldiers enter anymore.”

Witnessing the devastation of war in the country on the day of his anniversary, Cardinal Krajewski told Vatican News that it was a “day without mercy” in which “there are no tears nor words.”

“We can only pray and repeat: ‘Jesus, I trust in you,'” the cardinal said.

On September 19, 2022, His Excellency, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, announced the following appointments, effective October 10, 2022:

Monsignor Joseph G. Quinn, J.D., J.C.L., from Pastor, Saint John Neumann Parish and Saint Paul of the Cross Parish, Scranton, to Pastor, Our Lady of the Snows Parish, Clarks Summit.

Reverend Jonathan P. Kuhar, from Parochial Vicar, Saint John Neumann Parish and Saint Paul of the Cross Parish, Scranton, to Pastor, Saint John Neumann Parish and Saint Paul of the Cross Parish, Scranton.

Reverend Alfredo Rosario Paulino, from the Diocese of La Vega, Dominican Republic, to Parochial Vicar, Saint John Neumann Parish and Saint Paul of the Cross Parish, Scranton.

Reverend John M. Lapera, from Administrator, Our Lady of the Snows Parish, Clarks Summit.  Father Lapera will continue to serve as Pastor, Saint Gregory Parish, Clarks Green.


His Excellency, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, announces the following appointment, effective November 26, 2022:

 Reverend Helias De Oliveira, from Parochial Vicar, Saint John Neumann Parish and Saint Paul of the Cross Parish, Scranton.  Father De Oliveira will return to ministry in the Diocese of Joinville, SC, Brazil.