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Latin American pro-life leaders celebrate overturning of Roe v. Wade

null / Rena Schild via Shutterstock.

Lima, Peru, Jun 28, 2022 / 15:30 pm (CNA).

Pro-life leaders from all over Latin America expressed their joy as they celebrated the June 24 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion throughout the United States 49 years ago.

Latin American leaders described the ruling as “historic,” “momentous,” “a new legal precedent,” “similar to the end of slavery,” a “light in the midst of darkness,” and a “miracle” that took place on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

El Salvador

Sara Larín, president of the VIDA SV Foundation in El Salvador, shared her feelings with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language sister news agency: “We’re super happy! It’s the beginning of the end of abortion in the world,” she said. “This is the ruling that officially abolished the practice of abortion as a supposed constitutional right: it’s historic, just as much as the abolition of slavery.”

“Now each state will have the freedom to decide whether to prohibit or restrict abortion,” she continued. “In addition, that would impact federal policy decisions to prevent abortion from being financed as part of U.S. cooperative aid to other countries in the region. The decision of the Supreme Court will undoubtedly have a positive impact on Latin America.”

Larín said that the ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization “will mark a legal precedent that will be a point of reference for all experts in constitutional law around the world and will serve as a tool for justice for the protection of children's rights from the moment of conception.”

Ecuador

“We have seen light in the midst of darkness! We have seen a great defeat of a giant,” said Martha Villafuerte, the national director of Familia Ecuador, in an interview with ACI Prensa.

“This couldn’t be a more perfect moment … that strengthens the entire pro-life community in the world, where many countries have recently had unconstitutional attacks, unjust laws, and despite everything, today the United States gives us a wake-up call that rouses our convictions more than ever,” she said.

Villafuerte said that in Ecuador, “we couldn’t be happier.”

“We have a recent abortion law that’s a knife in the heart, but today we have received the perfect cure, the hope to rise up, fight harder, and achieve the victory of life,” she said.

Mexico

Speaking with ACI Prensa, Marcial Padilla, the director of ConParticipación, described the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court as a “historic event” that will have a great “cultural” impact.

“This gives a clear and firm signal that the correct path based on science and ethics is to recognize and protect with equal dignity the mother and her unborn child. Thus, it’s a reminder that there’s a right to life, not the right to take life,” he said.

To Padilla, this ruling sends a clear signal to Latin America: “It’s possible to reverse the trend toward abortion in the laws and courts” and so “we must participate in the elections for government officials and the appointment of judges who respect human life at all times.” 

The president of the National Front for the Family, Rodrigo Iván Cortés, also shared his joy with ACI Prensa and noted that now various U.S. states “will be able to protect life and limit abortion.”

“Today is a day of profound joy, proof that human life can be defended in the law,” he said.

Pilar Rebollo, director of Steps for Life in Mexico, said her organization is “full of hope” to see “how persevering work bears fruit.”

“It’s possible to overturn what seems written in stone,” she said. “The truth came down on it with its own weight and in Mexico we can’t give up, because no effort is in vain, especially since we are on the side of life and truth.”

Colombia

Jesús Magaña, president of United for Life, told ACI Prensa that the news was received in Colombia “with great joy.”

“We salute the Supreme Court of the United States with great admiration, respect, and affection. We wholeheartedly support these six brave judges who made it possible to win this nearly 50-year fight to restore the right to life of unborn babies,” he commented.

Magaña believes the ruling will have a “convincing effect on the entire region and especially in Colombia, because the decisions on abortion — C-355 in 2006 and C-051 by our Constitutional Court — have a substantial foundation in Roe v. Wade.”

“Now it will be possible to call into question this jurisprudence that has become a sort of ‘copy and paste’ of the 1973 pro-death ruling in the U.S.,” he said.

Peru

The director of the Origin Association, Giuliana Caccia, told ACI Prensa that with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, “human rights will really begin to be defended” and, therefore, “it’s a day that’s a cause for pride and that’s worth celebrating.”

She also said the decision is like “pulling the rug out from under” all those bills that “base their arguments on this ruling.”

“What has happened today is the beginning of the end of abortion in the United States and in the world,” she said.

Bolivia

Elisa Lanza Sevilla, president of the Bolivian Platform for Life and Family and a director of Project Rachel, said that “there are no words to express so much emotion, so much joy, so much gratitude.”

“As a person working to defend life, I am thrilled to know that all over the world in pro-life groups, right now they are celebrating that a ruling that led to the death of millions of innocent children for 49 long years has come to an end,” she told ACI Prensa.

Lanza affirmed that “the expansion of the legalization of abortion in the world will be stopped” and this “silent holocaust” will end.

Finally, she thanked the “brave justices of the Supreme Court who brought the truth to light and fought for life to the end, regardless of putting their own lives at risk.”

Argentina

The director of CitizenGO campaigns in Argentina, Silvina Spataro, told ACI Prensa that “for those of us who defend life and family, this is the most important news in recent times.”

“It’s a historic ruling, and as such I believe that at this time we cannot fully assess the great importance it has and the scope that this measure will have,” she said.

Spataro recognized the “important role of Donald Trump” as president of the United States from 2017–2021, “since the votes of the three judges he appointed were essential.”

“I also want to highlight the strength of the civic-social participation of the pro-life movement in the United States, which remains strong, and the pressure from citizens that can be applied when we work in an organized manner,” she added.

Spataro said that “celebrating this great achievement has to strengthen us in standing firm in the defense of life from conception.”

“Just as slavery was reversed when it seemed impossible, it has to happen the same way to abortion; we have to continue working until it’s unthinkable for a mother to kill her child in her womb,” she concluded.

Dr. María José Mancino, founder and president of Doctors for Life in Argentina, also shared with ACI Prensa her happiness and said her organization is “united, happy, encouraged, and strengthened.”

“It is a victory, totally! Everyone from their place in life, we all gave everything, the call, our time, our resources, our sorrows and joys for this day,” she said. “It’s not just another day for any of the pro-life movements.”

Mancino said this “is the best news of the year and the best gift we can receive on the feast days of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. John the Baptist.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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.

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.”

'The Little Catholic Church on Irish Mountain' stood in West Virginia for 150 years before it burned

St. Colman Chapel and cemetery. / Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston

Denver Newsroom, Jun 27, 2022 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

Nestled in the thick woods atop Irish Mountain in West Virginia, a small, whitewashed wooden church stood resolute for nearly a century and a half — until this morning. 

Irish Mountain is aptly named — its bright green foliage would not be out of place on the Emerald Isle. But the name of the place goes deeper than appearances. St. Colman Chapel, which was discovered burned to the ground the morning of June 27, was the last surviving remnant of a once-thriving Irish immigrant community in the area, and its adjacent cemetery marks the final resting place of many of those Irish Catholics. 

The chapel burned under suspicious circumstances the night of June 26-27 and is being investigated as arson, according to the local volunteer fire department.

The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston told CNA it "is saddened to hear of the devastating fire at the historic St. Colman Catholic Church near Shady Spring, WV. Thankfully, no one was inside the building when the fire occurred and the structure is a total loss. The church, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places since it was built in 1877 was not regularly used. The Diocese is truly grateful for the response of so many fire departments in the area, but the little church burned quickly and nothing can be saved. The cemetery behind the church will continue to be maintained."

St. Colman Catholic Church and Cemetery in Raleigh County, West Virginia, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The church is known as "The Little Church on Irish Mountain.". National Register of Historic Places photo
St. Colman Catholic Church and Cemetery in Raleigh County, West Virginia, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The church is known as "The Little Church on Irish Mountain.". National Register of Historic Places photo

According to the nomination form for its inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, St. Colman’s was founded around 1877 to serve the burgeoning Irish immigrant population. It gained the moniker of “The Little Catholic Church on Irish Mountain.”

The Irish were some of the earliest European settlers in West Virginia, arriving in the mid-19th century. On Irish Mountain, the populace had grown to more than a half-dozen families after the first Irishman to settle in the area, Maurice Sullivan, purchased a large tract of land in 1855. 

The area is marked by stunning natural beauty; Irish Mountain is a relative stone’s throw from New River Gorge, the newest U.S. national park.

But in the late 19th century, the verdant wilderness represented a foreboding obstacle. 

“Located in an extremely isolated area, this community of Irish farmers became virtually self-sufficient and formed a distinctive ethnic group,” the nomination reads.

“The one aspect of their lives, however, in which they did not feel self-sufficient was their lack of a place of spiritual solace. The closest Roman Catholic church was St. Patrick Catholic Church in Hinton, founded in 1872, which was nearly fifteen miles away over torturous mountains and through rugged terrain.”

New River Gorge in southern West Virginia. Jonah McKeown/CNA
New River Gorge in southern West Virginia. Jonah McKeown/CNA

So, in 1876, Sullivan — the landowner — deeded one acre of his land to the Diocese of Wheeling (today the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston) for the establishment of a mission church and cemetery, with construction commencing the next year. 

The boxy, simple building was originally constructed of hewn logs, and many years later, in 1928, the log structure was covered with clapboard wood siding painted white. The church was dubbed St. Colman.

A large, unadorned wooden cross rose above the roof level at the chapel’s front. Inside, the white altar and some of the benches for the congregation were constructed in 1904 by Father J. J. Swint, who was a carpenter as well as priest, and later became Bishop of Wheeling.

Outside, the chapel’s cemetery contains the graves of several dozen of the area’s Irish residents, marked with granite and marble upright gravestones. It also has what is known as a "Lost Corner,” located in the cemetery’s rear, which is a small plot of unconsecrated ground where the unbaptized were buried. One gravestone bears the epitaph:"Remember kind friends as you pass by. As you are now, so once was I. As I am now, so you must be. Prepare for death, and follow me."

Despite the area losing some of its population as a result of some of its men leaving to work on the railroad, the community at Irish Mountain continued to thrive into the 20th century, with an average of 15 to 20 families occupying the area, the nomination says. But the mission church was never given its own priest, instead always relying on the Hinton parish, St. Patrick. 

At the time the Historic Places register nomination was written — 1984 — the author of the form described the worshipers there as “occasional."

Kelli Thompson Harrison, 50, from Crab Orchard, West Virginia, told CNA that her ancestors were Irish Catholic immigrants who worshipped at St. Colman Catholic Church.

“It's just truly heartbreaking because there's so much history there,” she said. The church was a place of meaning and purpose for the immigrant community, Harrison said, and it saddens her to see it destroyed.

The chapel had attracted attention in recent years for reasons other than its Catholic history — it was visited by ghosthunters, who claim to have experienced “cold spots” and the presence of ghosts at the site. In particular, the presence of the cemetery’s “Lost Corner” appears to have captured the imagination of believers in the paranormal. 

Ghosts or not, the attention given to the chapel by ghosthunters has caused it demonstrable harm. In 2012, the “windows, pews and the altar were broken and destroyed” by vandals, according to a report from the Beckley Register-Herald. The assailants also reportedly spray painted a message on the chapel’s interior: “This s*** is not haunted.” 

It is unclear whether the suspected arson attack that destroyed the church this week is related to its phantasmal reputation, or to the spate of arson attacks against Catholics that have plagued the nation as a whole in recent months.

In particular, Catholic churches, crisis pregnancy centers, and other pro-life groups have been on heightened alert in response to threats of retaliatory attacks by pro-abortion activists in the wake of the landmark abortion ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 24.

Vandalism of Catholic churches, pregnancy centers continues after Dobbs decision

Blue Ridge Pregnancy Center in Lynchburg, Virginia had its windows smashed and was defaced with graffiti the night of June 24-25. / null

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 27, 2022 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

In the wake of Friday's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Catholic churches, crisis pregnancy centers, and other pro-life groups have been on heightened alert in response to threats of retaliatory attacks by pro-abortion activists.

Several such locations have suffered vandalism since the June 24 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

In Reston, Virginia, about 16 miles northwest of Arlington, police and fire rescue arrived at St. John Neumann Catholic Church responding to a call for smoldering mulch June 26. 

Authorities at the scene determined that an accelerant was likely used in the fire, according to the Fairfax County Police Department. Photos of the graffiti show the words “This won’t stop” written on the church’s sign, and an illegible statement written on the wall of the church. 

Blue Ridge Pregnancy Center in Lynchburg, Virginia had its windows smashed and was defaced with graffiti the night of June 24-25, Lynchburg police say. Authorities responded to a call of property damage just before 11 a.m. June 25, and upon arrival discovered the spray paint and broken windows, police say. 

Photos of the graffiti shows the words “Jane’s Revenge,” “If abortion aint safe you aint safe,” and another illegible statement. 

Police say that security footage shows four masked individuals vandalizing the building. The investigation is ongoing. Police are asking anyone with information to contact Detective Dubie at (434) 941-9937 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 798-5900. Anonymous tips can be left online at http://p3tips.com or on the P3 app on a mobile device. 

At Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church in New Orleans, a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and a memorial stone for aborted unborn babies was defaced with red paint, Fox 8 reported June 25. 

Life Choices, a pro-life pregnancy center in Longmont, Colorado sustained fire and heavy smoke damage Saturday. The FBI and local police are investigating the fire as suspected arson. Pro-abortion slogans, including the words, "If abortions aren't safe neither are you," were written on the building in black graffiti.

Tree of Life Pregnancy Support Center in Paso Robles, California had its windows broken and was defaced with anarchist symbols and the initials “JR” according to calcoastnews.com. The news outlet reported that “JR” stands for Jane’s Revenge.

Paso Robles police said that the pregnancy center received a letter from Jane's Revenge, according to KSBY. It is unclear whether the letter was received before or after the vandalism. The vandalism is being investigated through surveillance tapes from surrounding businesses according to KSBY.

St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Harlingen, Texas had three of its statues vandalized over the weekend, according to valleycentral.com. Photos of the vandalism show a statue of what appears to be the Blessed Virgin Mary toppled over and beheaded. The church said that two statues of angels were stolen, according to the outlet.