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Biden official promises 5 actions to protect abortion after Roe

Xavier Becerra, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. / vasilis asvestas/Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 28, 2022 / 14:25 pm (CNA).

The Biden administration is taking five steps to protect access to abortion, according to Xavier Becerra, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Those steps, Becerra said on Tuesday, include increasing access to medication abortion and training health workers following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide in 1973.

Becerra condemned what he called the court’s “despicable” decision that leaves abortion policy up to each individual state.

“There is no magic bullet. But if there is something we can do, we will find it and we will do it at HHS,” Becerra said June 28, referring to instructions that he received from President Joe Biden.

Becerra stressed that HHS would support Biden as he works to make available abortion pills and to enable women to travel for out-of-state abortions.

Both Biden and Becerra, who are Catholic, support abortion, in contrast with the Catholic Church’s teaching that “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception.”

Following the overturning of Roe, Becerra would not say Monday if he thought fewer abortions would be a good thing in America.

“I think if we leave things in the hands of a woman to make decisions for her own body, we’re going to have the best decisions made,” Becerra told EWTN correspondent Owen Jensen.

At the Tuesday news conference, Becerra outlined the HHS’ five steps to protect abortion. He began with abortion pills, which allow women to perform early abortions without leaving their homes.

The HHS, Becerra said, “will take steps to increase access” by ensuring that federally-supported programs and services provide these pills in cases of rape, incest, or to save the woman’s life, in compliance with federal law.

The department is also looking into protecting patient and provider privacy, supporting doctors’ “clinical judgment” when treating pregnant women in emergencies, and training providers on family planning and “helping patients navigate this new reality,” he continued.

Becerra added that he is directing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to also protect “family planning care,” including contraception.

When asked about the possibility of placing abortion clinics on federal land to bypass state laws or helping women travel to different states to obtain abortion, Becerra responded that “every option is on the table.”

Of all the steps, Becerra emphasized increasing access to abortion pills, calling it a “national imperative.” That included, he said, working “to ensure that states may not ban medication abortion, based on a disagreement with the FDA’s expert judgment about the drug’s safety and efficacy.”

Pro-life research organizations, such as the Charlotte Lozier Institute, have expressed concern about the safety of this type of abortion for women.

“How we respond will speak to how we view the rights, the dignity and the wellbeing of women everywhere,” Becerra said. “All options are on the table. We will do everything within our legal limit of the law to reach patients and support providers.”

Immediately before his remarks, HHS launched a website claiming to inform Americans about their “rights” to “reproductive health care,” including abortion. Among other things, it recommends abortion funds “if you need help paying for an abortion.”

Following Becerra’s remarks, Senator Steve Daines, founder and chair of the Senate Pro-Life Caucus, issued a statement responding to the Biden administration’s plans regarding abortion. 

“The Biden administration will stop at nothing, not even a Supreme Court ruling, to force their radical, pro-abortion agenda on all Americans,” the Republican from Montana said. “Instead of allowing Americans’ voices to be heard when it comes to abortion, President Biden wants to force states to allow dangerous DIY abortion pills and is considering plans to use taxpayer dollars to fund abortion tourism across state lines and even set up abortion clinics in our national parks.”

He added: “This is outrageous. Our fight is long from over—I will continue to stand up for all life, no matter how small.”

These U.S. companies will pay staff abortion travel expenses

Starbucks coffee shop. / AKS.9955/wikimedia. CC BY SA 4.0

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 28, 2022 / 13:54 pm (CNA).

As some states ban or regulate abortion following the Dobbs decision, numerous companies have announced they will provide financial assistance to employees traveling for abortions.

In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court ruled June 24 that the right to an abortion is not protected under the U.S. Constitution; states are thus now able to ban abortion.  

Many states already have enacted trigger laws to ban abortion immediately, while the practice remains legal in others. 

Some prominent corporations have announced they will support employees in states where they cannot procure abortion by covering travel costs associated with the procedure through their health insurance.

Dick’s Sporting Goods announced June 24 that it will provide up to $4,000 in travel reimbursements to any employee, spouse, or dependent enrolled in its medical plan seeking an abortion in states where it is illegal. 

“We recognize people feel passionately about this topic– and that there are teammates and athletes who will not agree with this decision,” the company said. The statement also noted that it believes these decisions are “deeply personal.”

Some companies, including Starbucks and Levi Strauss and Co., will fully reimburse expenses for women seeking legal access to abortion. A Starbucks statement says, “We will provide partners enrolled in Starbucks healthcare plan a medical travel reimbursement benefit to access an abortion.”

Other companies making similar offers, The Hill reported, include Amazon, Yelp, Microsoft, Apple, Netflix, Tesla, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Mastercard, Lyft, Disney, Meta, Comcast, Airbnb, Patagonia, DoorDash, PayPal, Reddit, Meta, Zillow, and Uber.

Some of the firms had announced travel assistance for abortion before the Dobbs ruling was released, in reaction either to the May 2 leak of a draft of the decision, or the Texas law banning abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

Winning 2025 Jubilee Year logo unveiled after global competition

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, pro-prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization, presents the logo for the 2025 Jubilee Year, June 28, 2022. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City, Jun 28, 2022 / 10:40 am (CNA).

The Vatican evangelization chief unveiled on Tuesday the winning logo of the 2025 Jubilee Year, chosen after a worldwide competition.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, pro-prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization, presented the logo and the preparations for the Catholic Church’s next holy year at a June 28 press conference.

A jubilee is a Holy Year of grace and pilgrimage in the Catholic Church, which typically takes place every 25 years. The motto of the 2025 Jubilee is “Pilgrims of Hope” — “Peregrinantes in Spem” in Latin.

The logo of the 2025 Jubilee Year, with the motto in English. Courtesy of the Dicastery for Evangelization
The logo of the 2025 Jubilee Year, with the motto in English. Courtesy of the Dicastery for Evangelization

Fisichella said there were 294 entries from 48 countries entered in the logo competition. Participants ranged in age from six to 83 years old.

“In fact, many were hand-made drawings by children from all over the world, and it was truly moving to review these drawings that were the fruit of imagination and simple faith,” the archbishop said.

A panel narrowed the selection to three projects, which were presented to Pope Francis, who chose the logo designed by Italian Giacomo Travisani.

A Vatican press release described the logo as “four stylized figures to indicate all of humanity from the four corners of the earth.”

“They are each embracing another, indicating the solidarity and brotherhood that must unite peoples,” it continued. “It should be noted that the first figure is clinging to the cross. The underlying waves are choppy to indicate that the pilgrimage of life is not always on calm waters.”

“Oftentimes personal circumstances and world events call for a greater sense of hope. This is why the lower part of the cross is elongated, turning into an anchor, which dominates the movement of the waves. As is well known, the anchor has often been used as a metaphor for hope,” it said.

The logo may be freely used by bishops’ conferences and Catholic communities for pastoral reasons, Fisichella said, while noting that commercial use is prohibited by a copyright maintained and managed by the Dicastery for Evangelization.

Fisichella said the official website of the 2025 Jubilee Year will launch after the summer.

The Catholic Church’s last Great Jubilee was held in 2000 with the motto “Christ Yesterday, Today, Forever.”

In 2015, Pope Francis called for an extraordinary Jubilee, a Holy Year of Mercy.

Archbishop Fisichella said the year before the Jubilee, 2024, will be dedicated to prayer in preparation of the Holy Year, while 2023 will be focused on promoting the major documents of the Second Vatican Council.

“The year 2023 will be devoted to revisiting the fundamental topics of the four Council Constitutions so that the Church can breathe anew the profound and timely teaching produced by Vatican II, whose 60th anniversary will be celebrated on October 11,” the evangelization chief said.

“For this reason,” he added, “a series of user-friendly resources, written in appealing language, are being produced to arouse curiosity in those who have no memory of the event and to help them enter into the essence of the Council in order to discover the innovative longing that enabled the Church to consciously enter the third millennium of its history.”

Vatican debuts monthly street newspaper

The front page of the new L’Osservatore di Strada, which will be available June 30. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City, Jun 28, 2022 / 09:44 am (CNA).

The Vatican-owned L’Osservatore Romano debuted on Tuesday a street newspaper aiming “to give voice to the voiceless.”

L’Osservatore di Strada — in English “The Street Observer”  — “is above all a newspaper with the poor,” according to a June 28 press release.

“Even those who have a cardboard box for a house have something to say and teach,” it said.

The monthly newspaper will be available both online and in print, which can be procured on Sunday mornings in St. Peter’s Square for a free-will offering.

All proceeds will go toward the poor and homeless assisting with the production of the paper.

Each edition of the street paper will be organized around a theme, and include editorials by people living on the streets, joint articles by both famous writers and marginalized people, reports on Pope Francis, and a section with artistic contributions by the poor, including drawings, stories, songs, and poems.

L’Osservatore Romano, online and in print, is now subscription-based after more than 135 years as the pope’s newspaper.

The newspaper was first launched in 1861 to defend the Papal States against the Italian political revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi in his bid to subsume the pope’s territories into a newly unified Italy.

The paper’s ownership was independent of the Church until 1885, when it was acquired by the Vatican during the reign of Leo XIII.

The daily edition of the newspaper is in Italian.

In 1968, a weekly edition in English was started. There are also weekly editions in Spanish, French, German, and Portuguese. The publication also has a monthly edition in Polish.

Pope Francis: ‘I have been able to walk for three days’

Pope Francis walks with a cane at the beginning of a meeting with Brazilian bishops on June 27, 2022. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, Jun 28, 2022 / 07:30 am (CNA).

The Vatican has released a video of Pope Francis telling a group of bishops from Brazil this week that his mobility has improved.

“I have been able to walk for three days,” the pope said with a wave on June 27 as he walked with the help of a cane across the library of the Apostolic Palace.

Pope Francis’ wheelchair could be seen in the back of the room as he greeted the Brazilian bishops. The pope has used a wheelchair for many of his public audiences for nearly two months.

The 85-year-old pope's comment comes after he used a cane to walk a short distance during the closing Mass of the World Meeting of Families on June 25 and across the stage of Paul VI Hall in an audience with Neocatechumenal Way members on June 27.

Pope Francis has said that he began medical treatment for a knee injury the first week of May. He has postponed two international trips to Lebanon and South Sudan due to his health.

In Pope Francis’ meeting with the delegation of Brazilian bishops, he encouraged them to talk with him for as long as they wanted and to speak “without censorship.”

The meeting lasted for three hours as Brazilian bishops spoke of their concerns about the destruction of the Amazon rainforest with the pope, according to Vatican News’ Portuguese language service.

During the discussion about the Amazon, Archbishop Evaristo Pascoal Spengler of Marajo said that Pope Francis “closed his eyes in an expression of pain and suffering and then asked: ‘What can we do?’”

“He is very sensitive to this reality of destruction in the Amazon,” said Spengler, who serves as the president of the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (Repam).

Multiple delegations of bishops from Brazil have been meeting with the pope in May and June during their ad limina visit to Rome.

An "ad limina apostolorum" visit is a papal meeting required for every diocesan bishop in the world to provide an update on the state of one's diocese. The trip to Rome, usually made together with all the bishops from a country or region, also serves as a pilgrimage to "the threshold of the apostles," giving the bishops, who are the successors of the apostles, the opportunity to pray at the tomb of St. Peter and St. Paul.

Ad limina visits typically take place every five years, as the world's more than 5,300 bishops rotate through Rome. The last ad limina visit for U.S. bishops was in November 2019.

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Pope Francis asks for prayers after 46 migrants found dead in Texas trailer truck

Pope Francis at a general audience in Rome in June 2018. / CNA file photo

Vatican City, Jun 28, 2022 / 05:55 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has asked people to pray after 46 migrants were found dead in a Texas trailer truck on Monday.

“I sorrowfully heard the news of the tragedy of the #migrants in Texas and #Melilla,” the pope said in a social media post on June 28.

“Let us #PrayTogether for these brothers and sisters who died following their hope of a better life; and for ourselves, may the Lord might open our hearts so these misfortunes never happen again.”

The migrants were found dead in an abandoned tractor-trailer in San Antonio, Texas on the evening of June 27. Sixteen other people were hospitalized, including four children, according to the Associated Press.

The pope also asked for prayers for migrants who died last week attempting to cross the border between Morocco and Spain.

Moroccan authorities have reported that 23 people died on June 24 in a stampede as migrants attempted to breach a fence into the Spanish North African enclave of Melilla.

The Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) also issued a statement in response to the migrant deaths in Melilla.

"The EU and its member states’ management of migration cannot consist in giving a blank check to neighboring countries that don’t respect the inalienable dignity of migrants and refugees," it said.

"COMECE also condemns the use of violence by people trying to cross borders and calls for a proportionate use of force by law enforcement agents and the absolute respect of the human dignity and the fundamental rights of migrants and refugees, as well as the facilitation of an appropriate screening of persons that are legitimate asylum seekers.”

Pope Francis to teens: Use the summer break well

Pope Francis with teens at the opening ceremony of World Youth Day 2019 in Panama. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, Jun 28, 2022 / 04:05 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Tuesday encouraged young people to spend their summer break from school in a good way, such as by spending time in rest, prayer, service, and helping their families.

“I encourage you to use well and responsibly the time that is available to you: it is in this way that one grows and prepares oneself to take on more demanding tasks,” the pope said in a June 28 video message.

“Besides recreation and rest, I know that some of you use this time to offer help voluntarily in solidarity initiatives; others devote themselves to small jobs to lend a hand to their family or to support their studies; others carve out days of silence and prayer to be with God and to receive light on their path,” he said.

The video was sent to 130 youth, ages 12-18, taking part in a week-long Global Youth Tourism Summit in Sorrento, Italy.

Teenagers from 60 countries, including the United States, Ukraine, Italy, Sudan, Yemen, Armenia, and Kazakhstan, will take classes on different aspects of the tourism industry from June 27-July 3.

“For those of you who are still students, tourism coincides with the time of the school holidays,” Pope Francis said. “The experiences one can have in this period will remain in your memory.”

“I hope you will be messengers of hope and rebirth for the future,” he concluded. “I send you my blessing and my greeting.”

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