1. New Illinois Abortion Clinic Anticipates Post-Roe World, A regional clinic across the river from Missouri reflects how both sides of the abortion divide are looking toward a landscape in which some states might ban abortions outright.

By Sabrina Tavernise, New York Times Online, October 22, 2019, 5:00 AM

When it opens just across the river from St. Louis this week, the new Planned Parenthood clinic in Illinois will be one of the largest abortion clinics in the Midwest, set up to serve around 11,000 women a year with various health services, double the capacity of the clinic it is replacing.

Its size says as much about the future as the present: With the Supreme Court’s shift to the right, activists on both sides of the abortion divide are adjusting their strategy, anticipating that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that extended federal protections to abortion, might eventually be overturned and that some states would jump at the chance to ban abortions.

Randall K. O’Bannon, director of education and research for National Right to Life, said Planned Parenthood had opened many large clinics over the years. Fairview Heights is simply the latest.

“This is not some brand-new surprising thing and it’s not necessarily just about the laws,” he said. “It’s also about how there is competition going on. Planned Parenthood is competing for business.”

Planned Parenthood itself drove some of the movement into Illinois. In the spring of 2018, it began sending women seeking abortion through medication rather than through a surgical procedure across the Mississippi River to a small storefront clinic it operated in Illinois.


2. After push from London, N. Ireland legalizes abortion, same-sex marriage.

By Amanda Ferguson, The Washington Post, October 22, 2019, Pg. A12

When the clock struck midnight in Northern Ireland early Tuesday, abortion and same-sex marriage became legal, marking a historic shift for this traditionally conservative territory.

The changes were all the more controversial because they were initiated by lawmakers in London.

Northern Ireland’s abortion laws had been some of the most restrictive in the world — the procedure was banned in almost all cases except when a woman’s life was at risk.

The Conservative government in Westminster argued that abortion and same-sex marriage were issues for Northern Ireland’s devolved government to decide. But the Northern Ireland Assembly has not convened in nearly three years amid a stalemate between pro-british unionists and Irish nationalists.

Under building pressure, Parliament in July amended a Northern Ireland bill to decriminalize abortion, liberalize the current law and permit same-sex marriage in the region — if the regional government was not restored by an October deadline.


3. What Cardinal Newman can teach the modern world about freedom of conscience.

Catholic News Agency, October 22, 2019, 3:30 AM

The writings of newly-canonized St. John Henry Newman offer important reflections for contemporary society on freedom of conscience and the duty to search for truth, said a leading figure in international religious freedom.

“Newman prefigured the Church’s 1965 Declaration on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis Humanae,” said Thomas Farr, president of the Religious Freedom Institute.

Farr, who served as the inaugural director of the U.S. State Department’s international religious freedom office in the early 2000s, spoke at a symposium hosted by the Thomistic Institute at the Angelicum University in Rome earlier this month. The event celebrated Cardinal Newman’s canonization on Oct. 13.

Newman was a 19th century theologian, poet, Catholic priest and cardinal. Born in 1801, he was before his conversion a well-known and well-respected Oxford academic, Anglican preacher, and public intellectual.

Farr said that Newman’s well-known phrase, “Conscience has rights because it has duties,” offers an important reminder that we are obliged to form our consciences in truth, recognizing that “our freedom does not give us a moral right to do what is wrong.”

Dignitatis Humanae affirms the right to religious freedom, a freedom from coercion in matters of conscience, Farr said.

“Together, Newman and Dignitatis can help us resist the erroneous notion of the ‘free’ conscience pointed inward to self and isolated from God and nature, rather than outward to God, who, more intimate to self and nature than anyone or anything, is the only guarantor of true freedom.”


4. Perhaps it’s fitting that Pope Francis now has his own ‘Cadaver Synod’.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, October 22, 2019

Pope Francis has invested synods of bishops with a relevance not seen in centuries, so perhaps it’s only fitting that he now has his own version of the most renowned summit of them all, the infamous “Cadaver Synod” of 897.

Believe it or not, the major headline out of Monday’s action at the Oct. 6-27 Synod of Bishops on the Amazon involved a video of two men stealing indigenous statues of a naked pregnant woman that had been on display in a Roman church and then, bit by bit, tossing smashed pieces of the image into the Tiber River in front of the papal fortress of Castel Sant’Angelo.

As of this writing, some 115,000 people had watched the video of the incident on Youtube.

A Vatican spokesman, Italian layman Paolo Ruffini, told reporters Monday in reaction that the theft and destruction of the statues was “an act of defiance” and a “stunt” which was “against the spirit of dialogue,” while Italian Jesuit Father Giacomo Costa helpfully added that “stealing objects is never constructive.”

Probably, nobody’s going to strangle the guys who stole the statues on Monday – though some overheated twitter discussion indicates there are at least a few souls out there capable of it. However, we’ll see if the act nonetheless boomerangs on the pundits and media outlets who whipped people into a frenzy, offering a sort of theatrical reductio ad absurdum on the whole debate.

In the meantime, the Amazon Synod will roll on, presumably producing a cluster of recommendations to Pope Francis that may provide the blueprint for a new pastoral approach in the world’s largest rainforest. It’s serious business, being conducted by people in earnest about what’s at stake.

Nevertheless, years from now what people may actually remember about this synod won’t be its conclusions, but its cadaver … which, if you think about it, is pretty much the opposite of what a well-executed damnatio memoriae is actually supposed to accomplish.


5. Chile’s religious leaders condemn violence; call for justice.

By Inés San Martín, Crux, October 22, 2019

For years several years now, Chile has been among the most stable and wealthiest countries in Latin America. However, the rise of the fare of the metro ticket in the capital, Santiago, has exposed the nation’s internal divisions and inequality.

Demonstrations have turned violent, with clashes between protesters and police leaving at least a dozen people dead.

Chile’s association for interreligious dialogue on Monday published a statement calling for the violence to cease.

“We invite you to make a great social pact to dialogue, which allows us to find solutions to build a more fair and supportive country,” said religious leaders, including a Catholic bishop, a rabbi, an imam, a Lutheran Evangelical bishop and the leader of the local Baha’i community.

They made a strong call for justice and peace, affirming that violence is “unacceptable.”

They also called for attention to be paid to the “injustices” seen in Chile, that demand “attention and a solution.”


6. Thieves steal Amazon fertility statues as synod nears end.

By Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press, October 21, 2019

Pope Francis’ controversial meeting on the Amazon took a criminal twist Monday after thieves stole indigenous fertility statues from a Vatican-area church and tossed them into the Tiber River.

Video of the pre-dawn theft from the Santa Maria in Traspontina church was shared and celebrated on conservative social media. The Vatican’s communications czar, Paolo Ruffini, termed it a “stunt” that violated the idea of dialogue.

Even before the three-week Amazon synod opened on Oct. 6, conservative and traditionalist Catholics had blasted its agenda as a heretical celebration of paganism, given its deference to indigenous cultures and spirituality.

Their criticism reached a fever pitch at the synod opening, when Francis presided over a prayer service in the Vatican gardens featuring the statues of naked pregnant women that were presented to the pope. Conservatives said the “Pachamama” statutes were pagan idols; the Vatican said they were symbols of life and fertility.

The statues were then placed in a side chapel of the Traspontina church, which is located just steps from St. Peter’s Square and has been the headquarters of the indigenous celebrations organized alongside the synod.


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