Browsing News Entries

Shroud of Turin exhibit to be held at Bible museum in DC

The Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. / bakdc/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jan 27, 2022 / 14:54 pm (CNA).

The Museum of the Bible will be opening a new exhibit dedicated to the Shroud of Turin next month.

“Mystery & Faith: The Shroud of Turin” will open to the public Feb. 26, and run until July 31. Admission is included with Museum of the Bible admission. The museum is located in Washington, D.C. 

The Shroud of Turin is an artifact that many believe to be the burial shroud of Christ. It is a 14-by-three-foot long piece of cloth stained with the image of a deceased man who had been tortured and crucified. The actual Shroud of Turin is stored in Turin, Italy. 

“One of the things we’ll do in the exhibit is to highlight the Gospel stories and show how the shroud reflects that, and how it’s depicted in the cloth, reflected in the cloth,” Jeffrey Kloha, Ph.D, the museum’s chief curatorial officer, said in a video posted on the Museum of the Bible’s website.

“It really gives us a great opportunity to allow people who might just have a surface knowledge to want to come and dig deeper,” he added.  

The exhibit will feature five exhibit sections and “eight cutting-edge interactives” to teach visitors “about how the Shroud mirrors the Gospels, its history, and its impact on millions of people.” 

Brian Hyland, a curator at the Museum of the Bible, said that one of the interactive stations will feature a recreation of the Shroud of Turin. Visitors will be able to wave their hands over parts of the shroud, which will trigger an audio explanation of how that specific part of the shroud is connected to the Gospel account of the crucifixion. 

“It mirrors the Gospels in the way that the pattern, the wounds on the shroud, match so closely to the Gospels,” said Hyland. “And that ties in to our mission at Museum of the Bible, of telling stories of the Bible.” 

To celebrate the opening of the exhibit, the Museum of the Bible is hosting a “grand opening celebration” on Feb. 26, featuring presentations from four experts on the Shroud of Turin: Russ Breault, Barrie Schwortz, Fr. Robert Spitzer, and Dr. Cheryl White.

EWTN, the parent company of Catholic News Agency, is one of the event’s sponsors. 

Spitzer, a Jesuit priest, is the host of “Father Spitzer’s Universe” on EWTN, as well as the  founder and president of the Magis Institute of Reason of Faith and the the Spitzer Center of Ethical Leadership.

White is a professor of history at Louisiana State University at Shreveport, and is a member of the American Confraternity of the Holy Shroud, serves on the board of the Shroud of Turin Research and Education Association, and is the co-host of the podcast “Who Is the Man of the Shroud?” 

Breault is the president and founder of the Shroud of Turin Education Project Inc., and has been researching the Shroud of Turin for over three decades. 

Schwortz, a retired technical photographer and scientist, was a member of the 1978 Shroud of Turin Research Project. At the time, he described himself as a non-practicing Jew. In a 2015 profile by Catholic News Agency, Schwortz said that the “science that convinced me” that the Shroud was not an ordinary artifact. 

"I think I serve God better this way, in my involvement in the Shroud, by being the last person in the world people would expect to be lecturing on what is, effectively, the ultimate Christian relic," he told CNA in 2015. 

"I think God in his infinite wisdom knew better than I did, and he put me there for a reason."

The Museum of the Bible was opened in 2017 and claims to be the "world's largest museum dedicated to the Bible." Its founder Steve Green, who is also the president of the craft chain Hobby Lobby.

When the museum was under construction in 2015, Green touted that the museum's collection of Biblical items was one of the largest private collections in the world. Many of those items have since been revealed to be forgeries. 

In 2017, the Department of Justice filed a civil forfeiture complaint and a stipulation of settlement, in which Hobby Lobby agreed to return approximately 3,500 artifacts to Iraq. 

Green had made the purchase of more than 5,500 cuneiform tablets and other artifacts in 2010 after a trip to the United Arab Emirates, despite warnings from experts that some of the items were likely stolen from archeological sites in Iraq.

Most of the artifacts were shipped into the U.S. by foreign antiquities dealers who made false statements on shipping labels and gave fake provenances and invoices, according to the DOJ.

US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer formally announces retirement

US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announces his retirement in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, in Washington, DC, Jan. 27, 2022. / Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Washington D.C., Jan 27, 2022 / 11:32 am (CNA).

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer formally announced his upcoming retirement from the Supreme Court on Thursday, one day after his plans were leaked by NBC News.

“I am writing to tell you that I have decided to retire from regular active judicial service as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States,” said a Jan. 27 letter from Breyer to President Joe Biden (D).

Breyer said that his resignation would go into effect when the Supreme Court enters its summer recess, “assuming that by then my successor has been nominated and confirmed.”

At 83, Breyer is the oldest justice on the Supreme Court. He was appointed to the bench in 1994 by President Bill Clinton (D).

“I enormously appreciate the privilege of serving as part of the federal judicial system - nearly 14 years as a Court of Appeals judge and nearly 28 years as a Member of the Supreme Court,” wrote Breyer. He said that he found judicial work to be “challenging and meaningful” and that he had “warm and friendly” relationships with his colleagues.

“Throughout, I have been aware of the great honor of participating as a judge in the effort to maintain our Constitution and the rule of law,” said Breyer.

Biden and Breyer made a joint appearance on Thursday afternoon to discuss the justice’s retirement announcement.

The president praised Breyer for his “remarkable career of public service, and his clear-eyed commitment to making our country’s laws work for its people.”

Breyer, added Biden, was a “model public servant in a time of great division” and he “patiently sought common ground” during his time on the Supreme Court.

With Breyer’s retirement, Biden is set to make his first nomination to the Supreme Court. In his appearance on Thursday, Biden reaffirmed his campaign pledge to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court.

"I will nominate someone with extraordinary qualifications, charity, experience and integrity,” said Biden. “And that person will be the first Black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court.”

Biden added that he did not have a specific person in mind for whom he was going to nominate, but said that he would work with both Democratic and Republican members of the Senate while deciding who he would put forward.

The nomination will come “before the end of February,” said the president.

A member of the liberal wing of the Supreme Court, Breyer has consistently supported abortion rights throughout his time on the court.

In 2000, Breyer authored the decision in Stenberg v. Carhart, which found that Nebraska’s law banning partial-birth abortions was unconstitutional as it did not have an exception to preserve the health of the mother. In Hill v. Colorado, which was decided one day before Stenberg v. Carhart, Breyer joined with the majority in upholding a Colorado law prohibiting protests outside of abortion clinics.

Due to Breyer’s age, calls for his retirement have been increasing since Biden’s election, to avoid a repeat of what happened when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in September 2020.

In 2020, shortly before the presidential election, Ginsburg, who was considered to be on the court’s liberal wing, died after a battle with cancer. President Donald Trump (R) then appointed Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative, to the Supreme Court, shifting the balance of the court.

Just War Theory and Ukraine: Would war with Russia be in accord with Catholic teaching?

Pope Francis is calling for prayers for a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Ukraine. / Shutterstock

Denver Newsroom, Jan 27, 2022 / 11:24 am (CNA).

Pope Francis called for a day of prayer for peace in Ukraine on Jan. 26., amid fears of a potential deeper incursion into the Eastern European country by Russia.

“I make a heartfelt appeal to all people of goodwill, that they may raise prayers to God Almighty, that every political action and initiative may serve human brotherhood, rather than partisan interests,” Pope Francis said on Jan. 23, admonishing all to remember the many lives lost in Ukraine during World War II and inveighing against war. “Please, no more war,” he said, appealing to those in power.

The prospect of war between Ukraine and Russia, and the potential involvement of the United States, brings with it questions about the morality of war. Just what is the Church’s teaching on war?

Unlike the Quakers and other Christian denominations, the Catholic Church is not pacifist in principle. Church teaching on the morality of war is based on a theory expounded by St. Augustine in the 4th century known as just war theory, and recognizes a potentially just reason to engage in war under certain conditions.

In 2019, expert theologians told CNA that applying this theory to modern warfare, which often involves missile and air strikes rather than pitched battles between troops, is more complicated but still normative.  

Kevin Miller, a moral theologian at Franciscan University of Steubenville, explained that the concept was a well-established part of Church teaching and thought.

"The Catechism of the Catholic Church does a nice job of summarizing the criteria for entering into the use of military force for self-defense," Miller told CNA, "though I tend to think of just war as more of a 'doctrine' than a 'theory' in the Church."

In his 2019 interview, Miller said the Church's moral criteria are divided into two categories: the ius ad bellum and the ius in bello, covering the right to war and how it is to be conducted once begun. To be morally licit, a war must be both just in its cause and conducted with justness.

Precisely what constitutes a just cause?

"The first criterion for the use of military force is, of course, a just cause," Taylor Patrick O'Neill, assistant professor of theology at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, told CNA in another 2019 interview.

Paragraph 2309 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that at one and the same time “the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain; all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective; there must be serious prospects of success; the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.”

According to the Catechism, weighing the above elements “belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.”

As universal shepherds, popes have often sought to influence the prudential judgments about the morality of war made by world leaders. In 2003, Pope John Paul II sent a delegation to dissuade President George W. Bush not to invade Iraq. Pope Francis was joined by his call to prayer for a peaceful resolution to the Ukraine crisis by bishops in the European episcopate and other bishops around the world.

The question of proportionality in war — whether military action causes more evil and disorder than it remedies — is an especially difficult question to answer, according to the theologians interviewed by CNA.

Said Miller: "To have the moral justification and to make some calculus of proportionality, you have to have some good intelligence about who could be harmed. Obviously, there can be unintended consequences, but you have to have a good amount of information about what the effects of a military action could be before you can judge if it is a just response."

Explained O’Neill: "Of course, so much of this is about thinking five or 10 steps down the road, and it is about balancing the need to prevent an escalation while keeping an eye on all the possible unforeseen consequences."

Some European bishops who joined the Holy Father in calling for prayer for peace in the Ukraine this week voiced concerns about escalation. Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, and Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, president of the Polish bishops conference, said earlier this week that rising tensions with Russia pose “a great danger” to the whole of Europe “which may destroy the progress made so far by many generations in building a peaceful order and unity in Europe.” 

Ukraine, which has a population of 44 million people, borders Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Belarus, and Russia.

In addition to satisfying the first set of conditions simultaneously to arrive at a decision that a just cause exists, the war must also be carried out in a just way. The Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes teaches clearly that: “The mere fact that war has regrettably broken out does not mean that everything becomes licit between warring parties.”

This means that military actions must meet certain moral conditions. For instance, indiscriminate destruction of cities or civilian life is prohibited, and the basic human rights of non-combatants, wounded soldiers, and prisoners of war must not be abrogated.

But serious questions of what military actions constitute ius in bello, or just acts in war, have multiplied in recent years with the advent of drone strikes and other acts of war against infrastructure that serves dual military and civilian purposes.

Modern conflicts often involve remote means of warfare and targets which are of unclear military status, such as governmental intelligence posts, radar stations, or other logistical installations. While the personnel in them might be primarily military, the presence of civilians has to be weighed carefully in discerning military action.

"The classification of people involved can be very difficult to discern in modern conflicts," O'Neill said.

"We don't necessarily see artillery shelling enemy lines. With strikes from distance on military targets, there are people involved who might not be military personnel: they might be government intelligence workers or people in a gray area,” he said. “But then there's the possibility of just the civilian janitor in the building — how do you put them in the balance of proportionality?

“It makes things very difficult."

O'Neill said that with modern means of warfare, there is a very high burden on governments to take all measures possible to limit the loss of potentially innocent human life.

The Russo-Ukrainian War began in February 2014, focused on the east of Ukraine. The conflict has claimed more than 14,000 lives and driven 1.3 million people from their homes, according to Caritas Internationalis, a Vatican-based confederation of Catholic charities raising funds for those affected.

The warring parties agreed to a cease-fire in July 2020. But Russia has sent an estimated 100,000 troops to the Ukrainian border. U.S. President Joe Biden said on Jan. 19 that he expected Russian President Vladimir Putin to order an invasion. 

Since then, tensions have not cooled down. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday that Putin will take time to study documents hand delivered by Western leaders regarding the conflict. But, he added, “it cannot be said that our views were taken into account, or that a readiness to take our concerns into account was demonstrated." 

 



Chicago priests serving in Springfield will celebrate Novus Ordo on First Sundays

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, under whose canonical authority the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius are. / Daniel IbanezCNA

Springfield, Ill., Jan 26, 2022 / 17:32 pm (CNA).

The Diocese of Springfield in Illinois has instituted regulations on members of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius serving there that are similar to those of the Archdiocese of Chicago, where the canons are incardinated.

The canons regular are under the canonical authority of the Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Blase Cupich.

“All Masses celebrated by the Canons Regular in the Diocese of Springfield will be celebrated on the first Sunday of the month according to the Novus Ordo,” said a Jan. 25 policy of the Springfield diocese.

Additionally, the policy regarding the canons’ parish in Springfield stated that a “plan of catechesis” will be issued in order to “assist and accompany those attached to the former rite and to fully appreciate the restoration of the liturgy and the teachings of the Council.” 

Priests who currently celebrate the traditional Mass in Springfield but who are incardinated in the Archdiocese of Chicago “will be asked to affirm in their written petition to celebrate the sacraments in the earlier liturgical form that the restored liturgy of the Council is the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite.” 

The diocese also declared that Sacred Heart Church in Springfield will be designated a “non-parochial church for the eucharistic celebrations according to the Missal of 1962,” as is required by Traditionis custodes. 

In 2014, the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius was entrusted with the pastoral care of Sacred Heart Church in Springfield. The Archdiocese of Chicago, the Society of St. John Cantius, and the Diocese of Springfield made a joint agreement that the canons regular would be able to minister in the Diocese of Springfield. 

The canons regular, which was founded in 1998, follows a form of vowed religious life that celebrates both the Tridentine and the post-Second Vatican Council forms of the Mass. 

Springfield’s release aligns the canons in the diocese with the policies implemented by their archbishop. That policy, which was announced in December, also went into effect on Jan. 25. 

Under the updated policies, the canons who wish to use the “old rite” must submit their requests to Cardinal Cupich in writing and agree to abide by the new norms under Pope Francis’ motu proprio.

The usus antiquior is also said in the Springfield diocese at St. Isidore’s in Mt. Zion, and at St. Rose of Lima in Quincy, a parish entrusted to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.

In a July 19, 2021 decree implementing Traditionis custodes, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield in Illinois had permitted the usus antiquior to be celebrated at both St. Rose of Lima and Sacred Heart “on any or all days of the year.” He also said that “Priests who already celebrate Mass according to the Missale Romanum of 1962 in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois are authorized to continue to enjoy this faculty upon request”.

Was it legal? Pro-abortion light projection on Catholic basilica part of debated trend

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. / Shutterstock

Denver Newsroom, Jan 26, 2022 / 17:06 pm (CNA).

A pro-abortion rights group drew wide condemnation from Catholics, including Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, for projecting pro-choice slogans on the facade of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception during a Mass and Holy Hour on the eve of the March for Life last Thursday. 

Whether the display broke the law, however, is another question.

The basilica, located next to the Catholic University of America, lists a private property policy on its website.

“The basilica exists to provide a respectful, distraction-free place of prayer, pilgrimage and worship,” the policy says. It bars trespassing and “distribution of any non-basilica approved materials on its private property regardless of the cause or issue represented.”

“No activity, event or use shall take place upon the basilica’s property, other than those sponsored by the Basilica, unless the individual or group involved has received prior written approval for such activity, event or use,” the policy continues.

Failure to comply with the policy will result in notification to local law enforcement and the filing of “all appropriate criminal charges,” the basilica says.

At the same time, targeted light displays on property might not constitute illegal trespassing under current law, the Thomason Reuters Foundation reported in June 2019. Protesters have been using this tactic for more than a decade. Union members have projected their messages on businesses during labor disputes, and a critic of President Donald Trump projected a message on the Trump Hotel in D.C. 

One group opposed to abortion has projected graphic images of an unborn abortion victim on the buildings of abortion provider Planned Parenthood. 

CNA contacted the basilica for comment but did not receive a response by deadline.

Catholics for Choice, the group behind the Jan. 20 display, has repeatedly been rejected by the U.S. bishops as a non-Catholic group. Cardinal Gregory said the projection demonstrated that the protesters “really are external to the Church,” and cited a biblical verse, John 13:30, that referenced the betrayal of Judas.

The group is largely funded by wealthy non-Catholics who favor legal abortion. Recent major donors include the Susan Thompson Buffet Foundation, funded by the financier Warren Buffett and family; and the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, funded by the family of a co-founder of the Hewlett Packard company.

John Czarnetzky, dean of the Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, Florida, was at the National Shrine during the Mass while the display was taking place outside. When he saw the news of the light display, he found it “immature,” he told CNA Jan. 25. 

While he was not an expert on whether the display could have violated local law, he said it’s possible the organizers of the light display projections calculated their actions to avoid breaking the law.

If the light projection had disrupted services inside the basilica, there could be a stronger case that a law was violated, Czarnetzky said. If the basilica had known of the effort ahead of time, it could have asked for a restraining order.

In New York City last Saturday, protesters of a Catholic pro-life vigil were much more militant.

Attendees at the Archdiocese of New York’s Prayer Vigil for Life at St. Patrick’s Cathedral were greeted by about 100 rowdy protestors. The protesters included members of the activist group New York City for Abortion Rights. Some of the protestors chanted insults and screamed vulgarities at them.

They made obscene gestures as a range of people from young children to elderly men and women who entered or exited the midtown Manhattan church. 

Toward the end of the protest, a light projection system displayed pro-abortion slogans including "God loves abortion," and "Abortion forever" on the exterior of the cathedral as demonstrators cheered. 

While light displays and obscene, aggressive protesters can be provocative, Czarnetzky advised Catholics to respond by following Christ’s advice to “turn the other cheek.” 

Any physical altercation between a person angered by protests could result in legal action against the person angered, he warned. 

The light projection protests at Catholic churches leave no damage, but they come amid a wave of vandalism in American cities. Some vandals have faced criminal charges for damaging churches with painted messages that object to Catholic opposition to abortion.

Puerto Rican archbishop condemns toppling of colonist's statue ahead of Spanish king's visit

The statue of Juan Ponce de Leon in San Juan, Puerto Rico. / P. Hughes via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

San Juan, Puerto Rico, Jan 26, 2022 / 15:08 pm (CNA).

The Archbishop of San Juan de Puerto Rico, Roberto Octavio González Nieves, expressed his sorrow and repudiated the demolition of the city’s statue of Juan Ponce de León, a Spanish colonizer who was Puerto Rico’s first governor.

“I would like to express my sadness over the acts that led to the demolition of the statue of the first governor of Puerto Rico, Juan Ponce de León. Said action must draw our strongest feeling of repudiation,” the archbishop said in a Jan. 24 statement.

The statue was torn down the night of Jan. 23-24, shortly before the visit of Felipe VI, the king of Spain, to the U.S. territory. The statue was reinstalled later on Jan. 24.

Felipe’s visit marks the 500th anniversary of the founding of San Juan, and is meant to strengthen commercial exchange.

Archbishop González said that "any feeling of recrimination that one has with the facts of our historical past, is not resolved with acts of vandalism or damaging historical places or places valuable for tourism."

The prelate said that "to protest past events you have to act uprightly, openly and without violence."

“Past injustices are rectified through orderly processes of reparation. The mistakes and wounds of the past are corrected through decisions and actions achieved as a result of a dialogue, coordinated by the Government, between the social, economic, educational, cultural and political institutions of the country,” he commented.

The prelate also stressed that "past errors cannot be remembered in order to act with a present marked by violence, but rather we all must learn from these errors by taking steps forward with a reconciling, healing spirit and with respectful, open and fruitful dialogue.”

Archbishop González acknowledged that "in the process of the conquest and colonization of Puerto Rico, blows were suffered that still require reparation and healing, such as the mistreatment of indigenous people, slavery and colonialism."

However, he said that "during recent centuries Puerto Rico has achieved a relationship of friendship and brotherhood with Spain."

"For example, cultural exchange, economic trade and specifically the aid from Caritas Spain to Caritas Puerto Rico have been significant blessings and have helped overcome the disasters of the recent hurricanes," he added.

The Archbishop of San Juan de Puerto Rico extended "a cordial, fraternal and affectionate welcome" to Felipe, and asked "our people to pray that his visit may be of benefit to our sister nations, Spain and Puerto Rico.”

"I hope that this visit of His Majesty is an important occasion to strengthen the Hispanic and Christian roots that define us as a civilized and respectful people."

“This visit not only invites us to look at the past, but also at the future, strengthening our roots of Hispanicity, faith and language. In a word, that it may reaffirm our Puerto Rican national identity in the mosaic of the families of humanity,” the archbishop concluded.

US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer reportedly to retire

US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer speaks at Brookings, Jan. 21, 2016. / Paul Morigi/Brookings Institution via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jan 26, 2022 / 11:07 am (CNA).

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will be retiring from the court, NBC News reported on Wednesday, Jan. 26. The network cited “people familiar with the decision” in its reporting.

Breyer, who at 83 is the Supreme Court’s oldest member, was appointed to the bench in 1994 by President Bill Clinton (D). He has served for 27 years.

Details on when exactly the associate justice will be retiring were not announced.

The White House did not confirm or deny the reports that Breyer would soon be announcing his retirement. Shortly after NBC’s story was published, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeted, “It has always been the decision of any Supreme Court Justice if and when they decide to retire, and how they want to announce it, and that remains the case today.”

Paski added that the White House had “no additional details or information to share” at the time. CNN reported that Breyer could formally announce his retirement as early as Jan. 27.

A member of the liberal wing, Breyer has consistently supported abortion rights throughout his time on the court.

In 2000, Breyer authored the decision in Stenberg v. Carhart, which found that Nebraska’s law banning partial-birth abortions was unconstitutional as it did not have an exception to preserve the health of the mother. In Hill v. Colorado, which was decided one day before Stenberg v. Carhart, Breyer joined with the majority in upholding a Colorado law prohibiting protests outside of abortion clinics.

If Breyer were to retire, it is a near-certainty that President Joe Biden (D) would appoint someone of a similar ideology to the Supreme Court. This is Biden’s first chance to appoint a justice to the court.

Due to Breyer’s age, calls for his retirement have been increasing since Biden’s election, to avoid a repeat of what happened when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in September 2020.

In 2020, shortly before the presidential election, Ginsburg, who was considered to be on the court’s liberal wing, died after a battle with cancer. President Donald Trump (R) then appointed Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative, to the Supreme Court, shifting the balance of the court.

The Supreme Court’s new term begins on Oct. 3, just under one month before the midterm elections. As the Senate could change hands with these elections, it is likely that Biden would seek to confirm a new member to the Supreme Court before that date.

According to CNN, Breyer wishes to remain on the court until a new member is confirmed to replace him.

Speculation about who would replace Breyer began as soon as rumors began swirling that his retirement was imminent.

Biden pledged multiple times in 2020 to appoint a Black woman to the court, saying in June that, “We are putting together a list of African American women who are qualified and have the experience to be on the court,” and that he would not be releasing that list until they are vetted.

How big was the March for Life? Here’s how one pro-life group came up with a massive total

Students for Life of America estimates that about 150,000 people attended the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022, based an analysis of a video of the marchers. / Screen shot of Students for Life of America video

Washington D.C., Jan 26, 2022 / 03:00 am (CNA).

Pro-life Americans recently traveled from across the country to attend the 2022 March for Life. Despite the pandemic and local COVID-19 rules, marchers gathered in numbers comparable to years past, leaving people to ask: How many marched for life?

The nation’s largest annual pro-life event in Washington, D.C., is held on or around the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. While the march condemns abortion every year, marchers exhibited a new momentum on Jan. 21, as the Supreme Court considers a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.  

In other words, the 49th march could also be the last.

While neither the March for Life nor the police provide specific numbers, organizers estimated that tens of thousands attended the 2022 March for Life, in a statement to CNA. 

Another pro-life group made a more exact estimate: roughly 150,000 marchers. Students for Life of America (SFLA) made the estimate by reviewing footage from their timelapse video capturing the entire 2022 March for Life. They shared the 45-second clip just hours after the march concluded.

“We froze a frame of the timelapse, counted all the people individually, and multiplied that by total frames,” Lauren Enriquez, deputy media strategist for SFLA, told CNA.

Ahead of the 2022 march, organizers guessed that 50,000 Americans would attend, in their permit application. After the event, news reports estimated anywhere between “thousands” and “tens of thousands” of Americans attended. SFLA stands by their 150,000 estimate.

“The Pro-Life Generation showed up in force to remember the sisters, brothers, friends, classmates, children, and neighbors lost to abortion in our lifetime — millions of priceless, beloved individuals who should be here with us today,” Enriquez told CNA. “We also showed up to represent the nearly five decades of activism and hard work that have led to this truly historic moment of potentially reversing Roe.”

She emphasized the resilience of the pro-life marchers.

“What’s more is that those thousands and thousands of marchers, young and elderly, braved sub-freezing temperatures to be out there,” Enriquez added, commenting on the harsh weather that day. “Their sacrifice is a testament to the unshakable fervor of this generation — and this moment. We are ready for a Post-Roe America!!”

State drops charges against Father James Jackson, but he's still being prosecuted. Here's why:

Father James Jackson, FSSP, appearing at a Nov. 15 arraignment before the Rhode Island District Court. / Joe Bukuras/CNA

Providence, R.I., Jan 25, 2022 / 16:56 pm (CNA).

State charges accusing Providence priest Father James Jackson of possession of child pornography, transfer of child pornography, and child erotica prohibited have been dropped, according to the state court website

But the ex-pastor, a member of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), still must face federal charges of distributing child pornography and possessing and accessing with intent to view child pornography, his lawyer John Calcagni III told CNA. He declined further comment.

The state’s move to drop charges was an expected procedural development that allows the federal case against Jackson to move forward.

Jackson, formerly pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Providence, was arrested on Oct. 30 by the Rhode Island State Police after an investigation by a Rhode Island computer crimes task force.

The state police had executed a search warrant that day at the parish and arrested Jackson after determining that he was the owner of large amounts of child sex abuse material found on an external hard drive in an office area near his bedroom, an affidavit states. 

The investigation revealed that an internet subscriber geolocated to St. Mary’s rectory shared child sexual abuse material via the peer-to-peer network on four occasions between Sept. 4 and Oct. 17, 2021, the affidavit states. 

His state charges could have amounted to a maximum penalty of up to 21 years in prison. 

The federal charges of distributing child pornography is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison, with a minimum mandatory term of incarceration of five years. Possessing and accessing with intent to view child pornography, his other federal charge, is punishable by up to 20 years of incarceration.

Prior to becoming pastor at St. Mary’s on Aug. 1, Jackson spent 15 years at the FSSP apostolate at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Littleton, Colorado.

Under the terms of his release from federal court in early November, Jackson is free on an unsecured bond with electronic monitoring. He was allowed to return to his home state of Kansas to live with a relative while waiting for the charges to be adjudicated.

Fresno parish church vandalized

Damage at St. Alphonsus parish church in Fresno, Calif., where the building was accessed late on Jan. 14, 2022. / Chandler Marquez/Diocese of Fresno.

Fresno, Calif., Jan 25, 2022 / 16:52 pm (CNA).

St. Alphonsus parish in Fresno was broken into overnight earlier this month. Both the tabernacle and a Marian shrine were vandalized.

Father Carlos Serrano, the pastor of St. Alphonsus, first discovered damage to the tabernacle the morning of Jan. 15. 

“When going through the church, he saw the other damage,” Chandler Marquez, communications director for the Diocese of Fresno, told CNA.

The parish has a Marian statue behind glass, where people often come to pray. Beside the statue is a box with monetary donations for the parish made in thanksgiving. Marquez said the vandal took the box with the donations.

The Fresno police investigated the incident, and were able to recover surveillance images of the vandal. Police assessed the monetary damage to the church at $35,000.

Marquez told KMPH that “The community is devastated. To begin it's a direct attack on the most sacred part of the church but also to have the Shrine of our Blessed Mother attacked. Culturally that means so much to this community.”

Marquez added that the tabernacle's doors were damaged enough that it is being examined to determine whether it can be restored.

St. Alphonsus parish was established in 1908, and it serves 700 families. Masses at the parish are said in English and Spanish.

In a message marking Religious Freedom Day earlier this month, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York stated that “For nearly two years, the U.S. bishops have noticed a disturbing trend of Catholic churches being vandalized and statues being smashed.”

“We are not alone. Our friends from other faith groups experience these outbursts too, and for some communities, they occur far more frequently,” he said.