VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Gossip is the enemy of a parish’s sense of community and acceptance, Pope Francis said.

The pope warned of the dangers of gossip during a meeting at the Vatican March 25 with a parish from Rho, near Milan in northern Italy.

Gossip “kills,” the pope said, before recommending a “good medicine” to stop it.

“If you feel that you want to gossip, bite your tongue,” said the pope.

Pope Francis greets a child during a meeting with parishioners from Rho in the Archdiocese of Milan in the Vatican audience hall March 25, 2023. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

Gossip, he said, “is a plague that ruins parishes, families and so many other things.”

The pope described parishes as “blessed places” where the church’s diversity is represented by bringing together different “generations, backgrounds, ways of serving and different and complementary gifts.”

“This is the church,” he said. “When the church is not like that it falls into worldliness, it falls into clericalism which is an ugly thing.”

The parish, Pope Francis said, “is the place where, following Jesus, we meet, we get to know one another, enrich one another as people from different generations and cultural and social backgrounds, each with something unique to give and receive.”

Parishes must remain places of welcome for whoever enters, he said. “If you are a priest, it’s for this reason; if you are on the parish council, it is for this reason: to open doors, to open windows, to always receive (others) with a smile and never say ‘not now.’ Total openness.”

Pope Francis also underscored the value of involving children in parish activities and regularly celebrating children’s Masses.

Parish life offers young people an opportunity to engage with their community’s elderly people, he added, urging young people to “talk, debate and listen to the elderly, because they will give you strength so you may go forth taking a piece from their (life) story.”

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The desecrated face of a statue of the crucified Christ in a Jerusalem church should move Catholics around the world “to recognize the pain of so many of our brothers and sisters” in the Holy Land, who have experienced the tragedy of violence and natural disasters, said a top Vatican official.

Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, prefect of the Dicastery for Eastern Churches, has written to bishops around the world asking them to urge their people to generously support the traditional Good Friday collection for the Holy Land.

Customarily, 65% of the funds collected goes to the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, which ministers to Christians throughout the Middle East and is responsible for most of the shrines connected with the life of Jesus, including the Church of the Flagellation where a Jewish tourist attacked a statue of Christ in early February.

The remaining 35% of the collection goes to the Dicastery for Eastern Churches and funds seminaries, advanced education for priests and nuns and Catholic schools in the Middle East, including Bethlehem University.

The ministry of the Franciscans in supporting the Christian communities of the Middle East and keeping alive the Christian faith in the region includes humanitarian aid, especially now in Syria given the devastating earthquakes that struck in February.

“To the drama of the war that has lasted for over 12 years in Syria, the strong seismic shocks added (to the) devastation caused by collapsed buildings,” Archbishop Gugerotti wrote. “Many of our brothers and sisters in faith and in humanity have faced a new exodus from their homes, this time no longer for fear of bombs or for what the invasion of the Plain of Nineveh had meant in Iraq, but because their very houses trembled.”

Franciscan communities in the region, along with those of other religious orders, are offering shelter and food to those displaced by the earthquakes, he said.

Throughout the region, he said, the Franciscans “remain sources of hope by caring for the littlest ones, educating schoolchildren and youth, accompanying mothers in difficulty, attending to the elderly and the sick, as well as offering housing projects for new families and creating jobs,” so that living Christian communities can remain in the places where Jesus and the apostles lived.

Releasing the archbishop’s appeal March 24, the Vatican also published a summary report, which said just over $9 million was collected in 2022.

In addition to support of the Jesuit-run Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, a school of advanced studies in Eastern Christian theology, liturgy and canon law, the dicastery used its share to support scholarships for 252 students in Rome and to support regular church life in Jerusalem, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Turkey, Iran and Iraq.

The Franciscan Custody’s report was divided into categories of funds used for pilgrim facilities, for benefiting the local community, for assisting refugees and residents on the Greek island of Rhodes, for providing emergency and development aid to people in Syria and Lebanon and for helping pay the salaries of employees in Israel and Palestine to offset losses incurred because the COVID-19 pandemic meant that international pilgrimages were stopped or slowed.

(OSV News) – Powerful tornadoes tore through rural Mississippi the night of Friday, March 24, killing or injuring dozens and causing widespread destruction.

By Saturday night, an update from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) reported the death toll had risen to 25 and dozens of others were injured; four persons reported missing are accounted for. Multiple state agencies and partners have been working together to help in response and recovery efforts. News reports said that search and recovery crews continue to dig through destroyed homes and buildings on Sunday.

“The loss will be felt in these towns forever,” Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said in a Twitter post on Saturday. “Please pray for God’s hand to be over all who lost family and friends.”

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz of the Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi, extended his prayers and encouraged Catholics to support all communities affected by this tragic event. “We join in prayer for all those affected by the storms that crossed our state,” he said in a statement posted on the diocesan website March 25.

An aerial view of the aftermath of a tornado, in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, U.S. March 25, 2023 in this screengrab obtained from a video. Dozens are dead or injured after a least one powerful tornado tore through rural Mississippi March 24. (OSV News photo/, Jordan Hall via Reuters)

During his Angelus, Pope Francis also prayed for the victims of the deadly weather and the people recovering from the loss of life and devastating destruction, according to Vatican News.

“We pray also for the victims of the terrible tornado that struck Mississippi in the United States,” the pope said at the end of his Angelus prayer on March 26.

Early Sunday morning, President Joe Biden ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas affected, due to the major disaster in Mississippi.

According to the White House disaster declaration, funding would be available to aid people in the counties of Carroll, Humphreys, Monroe, and Sharkey, and it can include grants for temporary houses and home repairs, as well as loans to cover uninsured property losses.

The National Weather Service confirmed tornado damage about 60 miles (96 kilometers) northeast of Jackson, Mississippi, with a lot of the destruction reported in Silver City and Rolling Fork, a rural town of more than 1,800 people.

Processing information from damage surveys could take days to complete, but the National Weather Service noted the Rolling Fork/Silver City tornado has a preliminary EF-4 rating, which estimates wind speeds to have been 166-200 mph. Preliminary statistics from the National Weather Service said that tornado traveled approximately 59 miles over the course of an hour and 10 minutes. The Blackhawk/Winona tornado now has a preliminary EF-3 rating, with severe wind speeds in the 136-165 mph range.

“My city is gone. But we are resilient,” Rolling Fork Mayor Eldridge Walker said on CNN. Video and photos of the area showed houses reduced to rubble. On Twitter, Governor Reeves shared photos of relief efforts underway in Rolling Fork, Silver City, Amory and Winona, noting perseverance, unity and even prayer behind the response of responders and volunteers.

In an interview with OSV News, Marvin Edwards, a lay ecclesial minister of Sacred Heart Parish in Winona, shared what it was like to be in the tornado’s path. He said that he and his wife — who live 20 miles away from the parish — were in bed for the night when the tornado struck.

“This is the first time a tornado hit us directly. My emergency tornado watch went off on my cell phone. That’s not unusual, so I didn’t pay a lot of attention. All of a sudden, I heard this loud noise as my wife and I were laying in bed. We jumped up and the roof went away. We didn’t have time (to shelter); all of a sudden it (the tornado) was there,” he told OSV News.

Saying it all happened quickly, Edwards said they were not injured and only saw the damage once it was morning. “The tornado had a mile-wide path, and it picked up (strength) as it moved across the lake,” he said. “It took the roof off my house. I’ve got two cars with a big tree sitting across them; both of them are smashed.”

“As far as I know, all of our parishioners (at Sacred Heart) are OK. We don’t have a lot of parishioners; we’re a small mission church,” he said. “My immediate thought was, ‘I got angels protecting me evidently.’ I just thanked him (God). Something was protecting me.”

A local TV station reported a crisis shelter opened in Rolling Forks to provide a medical station, as well as cots, toiletries, and water. The state’s emergency management agency said shelters have also been opened in Belzoni and Amory to provide shelter to those affected, which includes hundreds of people who lost their homes.

On March 25, Gov. Reeves issued a State of Emergency in all counties affected by the tornado and severe storms that occurred across Mississippi. He called on agencies to set forth the emergency responsibilities delineated in Mississippi’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan.

“We give thanks and pray for first responders, who are working tirelessly in affected communities trying to reach those missing, restore power and assist those surviving,” Bishop Kopacz said in a statement on the Diocese of Jackson website.

“I encourage all to continue to pray and find ways to support all affected communities,” he added. “We will be reaching out through our Catholic Charities Disaster Response team to assist in recovery efforts.”

The National Weather Service of Huntsville, Alabama, also confirmed four tornadoes touched down in their state overnight March 24-25, all of which were EF-1 or EF-2 strength. The New York Times reported Saturday morning that at least one person died in Alabama as a result of the severe storm system.

In a Saturday afternoon email, Donald Carson, the Diocese of Birmingham’s communications director, noted Alabama did not experience similar levels of lives lost or destruction as the neighboring state.

“We will pray for all whose lives were lost in Mississippi and those who love them and all affected by the storms,” he said.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency’s Twitter and Facebook page, @MSEMA, also warned Mississippians that a large portion of the state has the potential for more severe storms Sunday evening and “tornadoes cannot be ruled out.”

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis has updated the procedures for investigating allegations of sexual abuse or the cover up of abuse, specifying that the leaders of Vatican-recognized international Catholic lay associations and movements have the same responsibilities over their members that a bishop has over the priests of his diocese.

The updated version of “Vos Estis Lux Mundi” (You are the light of the world), published March 25, also expanded the categories of victims covered by the regulations to include vulnerable adults.

The original text spoke of the crime of “sexual acts with a minor or a vulnerable person.” The updated text read, “a crime against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue committed with a minor, or with a person who habitually has an imperfect use of reason, or with a vulnerable adult.”

“Anything that expands the categories of those who should be protected is to be welcomed,” Oblate Father Andrew Small, secretary of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, told Catholic News Service March 25.

Archbishop Filippo Iannone, prefect of the Dicastery for Legislative Texts, speaks to reporters in the Vatican press office March 25, 2023, after Pope Francis issued an updated text of “Vos Estis Lux Mundi” (You are the light of the world), spelling out the procedures for investigating allegations of sexual abuse or of the cover up of abuse. (CNS photo/Cindy Wooden)

Father Small also pointed to the updated document’s insistence that not only must dioceses and bishops’ conferences have a “system” for reporting abuse or its cover up, they also must have “organisms or offices easily accessible to the public” to accept reports.

Making the procedures “well known and publicly accessible is part of justice,” he said.

Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, secretary of the Vatican Dicastery for Legislative Texts, told CNS the updated document was based on four years of experience operating under the previous version, but the update also was needed to incorporate changes Pope Francis made in 2021 to the Code of Canon Law’s “Book VI: Penal Sanctions in the Church.”

The new rules go into effect April 30.

Boston Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, said in a statement that with the updated text, “the church’s ongoing work of preventing sexual abuse by ministers of the church received a further boost.”

Updating the norms, “Pope Francis has reconfirmed the serious responsibilities on bishops and others in leadership positions to ensure robust safeguarding policies and procedures are in place and are effective,” the cardinal said.

One thing the updated version did not do, however, was provide mandatory and explicit steps for revealing publicly when a bishop has been asked to or forced to resign because of abuse or covering up abuse allegations.

Many Catholics, including bishops, have called for such public notification after news reports revealed that a bishop who “resigned” had been sanctioned by the Vatican.

In September, the Vatican confirmed it had placed restrictions on the ministry of Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo of Dili, East Timor, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 for nonviolent resistance to Indonesia’s 24-year occupation of his homeland.

And in November, the French bishops revealed that Bishop Michel Santier of Créteil, who announced in 2021 that he was retiring for health reasons, had been credibly accused of sexual misconduct and disciplined by the Vatican.

Archbishop Filippo Iannone, prefect of the Dicastery for Legislative Texts, was asked whether Catholics in general have a right to know when a bishop or priest has been disciplined for abuse or for covering up abuse.

“A distinction must be made between those who have a legitimate interest in the case,” specifically the victim, and the public, the archbishop said.

Asked the same question, Bishop Arrieta responded that “it depends on the level of scandal” and how widespread knowledge of the case is. “If the damage is limited to the victim and the victim is informed of the outcome (of the process), then you could argue that justice has been served.”

In his statement, Cardinal O’Malley said that “as much as possible, those impacted by abuse should be kept informed about the status and the eventual outcome of any case pursued because of any accusation made. Communicating the process of the church’s disciplinary system goes to the heart of its effectiveness. Judgments should be made available to interested parties, especially to those making accusations and the victims of sexual abuse.”

Archbishop Charles Scicluna, adjunct secretary of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, told Vatican News “one of the strongest changes” the pope made was to add laypeople leading Vatican-recognized organizations or movements and priests leading clerical associations to the list of those covered by “Vos Estis.” Like bishops, they must act when allegations of sexual abuse or the abuse of power are made, or they can face a “Vos Estis” process.

Cases of abuse in several Catholic movements have made headlines in the past several years. Perhaps the best known was the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, founded in Peru in 1971. An internal investigation in 2017 found that Luis Fernando Figari, who began the movement and headed it until 2010, and three other high-ranking former members abused 19 minors and 10 adults.

In 2017 the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life banned Figari from living in a Sodalitium community, participating in Sodalitium activities or contacting any Sodalitium member.

Father Small said Pope Francis’ update – declaring “Vos Estis” to be “definitive” and no longer “experimental” – shows that the church still has work to do in implementing its laws to punish abusers and those who cover up abuse. Expanding its coverage to include leaders of lay movements, he said, is an important part of the church’s global safeguarding efforts.

The definitive text of “Vos Estis,” Father Small said, “is a clear sign that a culture of impunity is over in the church.”

A detail view of the Shroud of Turin is seen at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, Italy. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)


CANTON — The Knights of Columbus of Saint Michael Parish will host a one-hour presentation on the venerable Shroud of Turin on Saturday, March 25, at the Canton church.

Following the 4 p.m. vigil Mass at Saint Michael Church, the program on the mysterious burial cloth by Alex Piechochi will be offered at 5 p.m. in the parish’s social hall. The public is welcome free of charge.

Piechochi’s detailed discourse, which will be accompanied by a full size replica of the Shroud, will explore the circuitous history and intriguing facts associated with the much-scrutinized fabric that for centuries has been piously believed in the Christian world to be the sacred wrapping of the crucified Lord.

A light meal and fellowship will follow the Shroud presentation. For more information, call the parish office at (570) 673-5253.

The parish community of Exaltation of the Holy Cross Church, 420 Main Road, Buttonwood section of Hanover Township, invites all faithful to participate in a Polish Lenten service on Sunday, March 26, the Fifth Sunday of Lent.

The 11th annual presentation of “Gorzkie Zale” (Bitter Lamentations), a moving Lenten service more than 300 years old, will be held in the church beginning at 3 p.m. The devotion will conclude with benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

The service, which recounts the Passion of Jesus –– from his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane to his redeeming death on the cross –– will be conducted by Father Richard Cirba, host pastor, and Father James McGahagan.

Musical accompaniment will be provided by Dominick Costantino Jr. and the music ministry of Exaltation of the Holy Cross Parish, assisted by singers throughout the Diocese.

Incorporating prose and verse, chant and reading, prayer and meditation, the inspirational devotion reflects on the mystery of Christian redemption.

The Lamentations highlight the emotional nature of Polish spirituality, inviting all to share in the Lord’s Passion as seen through the eyes of his Mother Mary.

The devotional service can be experienced by all through the use of bilingual booklets, with both Polish and English lyrics. A light social will follow the devotion.

Anyone wishing to participate with the choir may contact Mr. Costantino at (570) 706-6951. For more information, call (570) 899-5080.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – To evangelize well, the faithful need to dialogue with God, let the Holy Spirit renew their hearts and lives, and then dialogue with today’s world, Pope Francis said.

The Holy Spirit is “the protagonist of evangelization. Without the Holy Spirit we will only be advertising the church,” he said during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square March 22.

Pope Francis prays during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican March 22, 2023. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

The church, too, always must be “evangelizing herself” or else “it remains a museum piece,” he said.

The pope continued his series of talks about “the passion for evangelization: the apostolic zeal of the believer” by reflecting on St. Paul VI’s apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Nuntiandi” (On Evangelization in the Modern World) and its emphasis on witnessing to Christ.

“You cannot evangelize without witness — the witness of the personal encounter with Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word in which salvation is fulfilled,” he said.

“Witness also includes professed faith, that is, convinced and manifest adherence to God the father, son and Holy Spirit, who created and redeemed us out of love,” he said.

And, he said, it is a faith “that transforms us, that transforms our relationships, the criteria and the values that determine our choices. Witness, therefore, cannot be separated from consistency between what one believes and what one proclaims.”

“A person is credible if there is harmony between what they believe and live, how they believe and live,” the pope said. Anything else is hypocrisy.

“Every one of us is required to respond to three fundamental questions, posed in this way by St. Paul VI: ‘Do you believe what you are proclaiming? Do you live what you believe? Do you preach what you live?'” the pope said.

“We cannot be satisfied with easy, pre-packaged answers,” he said. “We are called upon to accept the risk, albeit destabilized, of the search, trusting fully in the action of the Holy Spirit who works in each one of us, driving us ever further: beyond our boundaries, beyond our barriers, beyond our limits, of any type.”

St. Paul VI, he said, “teaches that the zeal for evangelization springs from holiness which springs from a heart filled with God. Nourished by prayer and, above all, by love for the Eucharist, evangelization in turn increases holiness in the people who carry it out.”

“Without holiness, the word of the evangelizer ‘will have difficulty in touching the heart of modern man’ and ‘risks being vain and sterile'” because it is just a string of empty words, he said, quoting St. Paul’s exhortation.

Evangelization is addressed not only to others “but also ourselves, believers in Christ and active members of the people of God,” Pope Francis said. “We have to convert every day, receive the word of God and change our life each day, this is how you evangelize the heart.”

The Catholic Church, “which is the people of God immersed in the world,” is often tempted by many idols, therefore, “she always needs to hear the proclamation of the mighty works of God,” to pray and feel the power of the Holy Spirit, which changes people’s hearts, he said.

“A church that evangelizes herself in order to evangelize is a church that, guided by the Holy Spirit, is required to walk a demanding path of conversion and renewal,” he said.

This includes “the ability to change the ways of understanding and living its evangelizing presence in history, avoiding taking refuge in the protected zones of the logic of ‘it has always been done this way’ (which) are shelters that make the church fall ill,” he said.

“The church must always go forward, it must continually grow,” he added. “This way it stays young.”

At the end of the audience, the pope underlined the sanctity of all human life. He greeted the faithful from Poland, which celebrates the Day for the Sanctity of Life March 25.

“As a sign of the need to protect human life from conception to its natural end, the Yes to Life Foundation is giving to Zambia the ‘Voice of the Unborn’ bell, which I blessed this morning,” he said.

“May its sound carry the message that every life is sacred and inviolable,” he added.

PHILADELPHIA (OSV News) – A Philadelphia Catholic school community whose parish has historical ties to St. John Neumann is recovering after a March 21 fire devastated its building.

A three-alarm blaze broke out at Our Mother of Consolation Parish School in the city’s Chestnut Hill section just after 3:30 p.m., less than an hour after classes had been dismissed for the day.

A parent collecting her child had alerted school staff to the fire after seeing smoke coming from the roof, according to Sister of St. Joseph Christine Konopelski, pastoral associate for faith formation at OMC, speaking with local media.

Emergency equipment is pictured outside the charred structure of Our Mother of Consolation Parish School in Philadelphia March 22, 2023, following a three-alarm fire March 21 that gutted the historic building. One firefighter suffered minor injuries battling the blaze, the cause for which remains under investigation. (OSV News photo/Gina Christian)

Remaining staff and students were evacuated from the building. The fire was placed under control shortly before 5:30 p.m. and remains under investigation, Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam K. Thiel told local media.

One responding firefighter sustained minor injuries and was taken to the hospital for treatment.

OMC pastor Father John Fisher, an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales, told OSV News March 22 it was “a blessing to know we are not mourning the loss of life.”

He said that several agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF, were investigating the cause of the blaze.

Students have been temporarily shifted to a remote learning plan, as damage to the school has shuttered the building “for the remainder of the year,” Father Fisher and OMC school principal Patricia Sheetz said in a joint statement issued March 21.

Father Fisher and Sheetz also noted they are “working to identify potential locations in proximity to our parish where the children can begin attending class again in person,” having already received “many offers” for space usage, including from “local churches, elementary schools and (nearby) Chestnut Hill College.”

The two also said they have been “deluged” by support, with Philadelphia Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez, Auxiliary Bishop Timothy C. Senior and vicar general Msgr. Daniel Kutys expressing concern, along with several elected officials and OMC parishioners, parents and alumni.

Father Fisher told OSV News that the school was “more than an educational building. It was a home where kids felt loved, safe and embraced, and where their faith was nurtured.”

The school, which along with the parish buildings is listed on Philadelphia’s register of historic places, was first opened in 1862 in an old tenant house donated to the Sisters of Saint Joseph by philanthropist John Middleton, a Quaker who converted to Catholicism. In 1854, Middleton had petitioned St. John Neumann (1811-1860), then bishop of Philadelphia, to create the parish that became OMC, with Middleton largely funding the church’s construction.

Amid the loss, Father Fisher said several faculty had noticed signs of hope.

“We were standing on the sidewalk, and they said through the grade four classroom window they could see the cross still hanging on the wall,” he said. “And our Blessed Mother statue outside is still going strong.”

WASHINGTON (OSV News) – A still-pending ruling by a federal judge in Texas could pull an abortion drug from the market across the United States.

A lawsuit by a coalition of pro-life opponents of the drug mifepristone, the first of two drugs used in a medication or chemical abortion, is demanding the U.S. Food and Drug Administration revoke its approval of the drug.

If U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk rules in favor of the plaintiffs, he could issue a nationwide injunction on the sale of mifepristone, as requested by the plaintiffs, which would affect even U.S. states where abortion is legal and the drug is permitted under state law.

Another drug used in combination with mifepristone for abortions, called misoprostol, would still be available. Misoprostol is sometimes prescribed by doctors for early miscarriage, but the FDA has not approved the drug for inducing abortion on its own.

The Catholic Church teaches that all human life is sacred and must be respected from conception to natural death. It opposes direct abortion as an act of violence that takes the life of the unborn child.

In January, the FDA eased restrictions on the sale of mifepristone, the first of two drugs used in a chemical abortion, permitting their sale at retail pharmacies for the first time. The decision followed the Supreme Court’s decision last year in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that struck down the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, after which states moved to restrict or broaden abortion access.

“The FDA approved Mifeprex (mifepristone) more than 20 years ago based on a thorough and comprehensive review of the scientific evidence presented and determined that it was safe and effective for its indicated use,” the agency said on its website.

Proponents of the use of mifepristone for abortion argue the court should keep the FDA regulations in place.

Boxes of mifepristone, the first pill given in a medical abortion, are pictured in a Jan. 13, 2023, photo. A federal judge in Texas is poised to rule on whether to suspend the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, potentially pulling the drug from the market nationwide. (OSV News photo/Evelyn Hockstein, Reuters)

“There’s zero justification for removing this medication from the market that isn’t political,” the ACLU said in a March 15 tweet. “This case should’ve been laughed out of court.”

On its website, the FDA states that mifepristone “is safe when used as indicated and directed” through 10 weeks gestation. The agency’s adverse reaction guidelines for the drug state that “serious and sometimes fatal infections and bleeding occur very rarely.”

Opponents of mifepristone say those risks are more common and more dangerous than proponents of the drug say.

Dr. Ingrid Skop, a board-certified OB-GYN and senior fellow and director of medical affairs at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, told reporters in a March 21 press call that the lawsuit is about “holding the FDA accountable to its own rules and protecting American women and girls from dangerous drugs.”

“Although like approximately 90% of obstetricians, I do not perform elective abortions, I have cared for women in emergency rooms or in my private practice who suffered complications from chemical abortions,” Dr. Skop said. “Because they have been told it’s safer than Tylenol, they are usually surprised and unprepared when complications occur.”

Dr. Skop said the abortion pill is marketed to women as more natural, and as allowing the process to take place “in her own home.” But she said that claim is for “the benefit of the abortion industry, not women.”

“Few physicians are willing to perform abortions,” she said, “so chemical abortions solve staffing problems.”

After a March 15 hearing in Amarillo, Texas, Kacsmaryk did not issue a decision, but indicated his ruling would come as soon as possible.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis has invited Catholics worldwide to renew the act of consecrating the church and all humanity, especially Russia and Ukraine, to Mary every March 25, the feast of the Annunciation.

At the end of his general audience in St. Peter’s Square March 22, the pope recalled last year’s service “when, in union with all the bishops of the world, the church and humanity, especially Russia and Ukraine, were consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

Pope Francis burns incense in front of a Marian statue after consecrating the world and, in particular, Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary during a Lenten penance service in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican March 25, 2022. A year later, he asked Catholics worldwide to renew the consecration and pray for peace. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

“Let us not tire of entrusting the cause of peace to the Queen of Peace,” he said, asking that people not forget “troubled Ukraine, which is suffering so much.”

The pope invited “every believer and community, especially prayer groups, to renew every March 25 the Act of Consecration to Our Lady, so that she, who is mother, may preserve us all in unity and peace.”

As Russia’s violent invasion of Ukraine entered its second month Pope Francis pronounced the Act of Consecration after leading a Lenten penance service in St. Peter’s Basilica March 25, 2022. He had asked bishops around the world to join him the same day in consecrating Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

In his homily during the Lenten penance service, Pope Francis had said the Act of Consecration was “no magic formula but a spiritual act” of trust by “children who, amid the tribulation of this cruel and senseless war that threatens our world, turn to their mother, reposing all their fears and pain in her heart and abandoning themselves to her.”

“It means placing in that pure and undefiled heart, where God is mirrored, the inestimable goods of fraternity and peace, all that we have and are, so that she, the mother whom the Lord has given us, may protect us and watch over us,” the pope had said.