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Catholic bishops urge gov't leaders to speak out against attacks on churches, pro-life pregnancy centers

US Conference of Catholic Bishops
Catholic Bishops meet at the start of an afternoon session during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Annual Spring Assembly in Atlanta, Georgia, on June 13, 2012. |

Leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are calling for politicians to speak out against the increasing vandalism of churches and pro-life pregnancy centers ahead of an expected U.S. Supreme Court ruling on abortion.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Catholic Archdiocese of New York, who serves as the chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Religious Liberty; and Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, who serves as Chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Pro-Life Activities; released a statement in response to the wave of pro-abortion vandalism Monday. 

The response comes six weeks after Politico published a leaked draft opinion in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which indicated that a majority of Supreme Court justices supported the draft opinion that would reverse the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

Vandalism directed at churches and pro-life pregnancy centers has accelerated following the draft opinion's publication. A final decision on the case is expected later this month. 

"Since the leak of the draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, charities that support pregnant mothers in need have been firebombed, pro-life organizations have been attacked almost daily, and even the lives of Supreme Court justices have been directly threatened," they wrote.

"In light of this, we urge our elected officials to take a strong stand against this violence, and our law enforcement authorities to increase their vigilance in protecting those who are in increased danger."

Dolan and Lori defended the Catholic Church's "long history of service to those who are most vulnerable, including both mother and child," noting that the Catholic Church "remains the largest provider of social services in the United States."

They said the social services provided by the Church range "from religious communities to pregnancy care centers, from refugee resettlement services to foster care and adoption agencies, and from maternity homes to parish-based ministries."

"The Church consistently bears witness in word and deed to the beauty and dignity of every human life," they added. "Above all, each of us must choose the path of peace and open our hearts to the love that God has for his children. O Sacred Heart of Jesus, touch our hearts and make them like your own."  

The USCCB has a running list of Catholic churches and pro-life pregnancy centers vandalized since May 2020, long before the Supreme Court said it would hear arguments about the constitutionality of Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban.

"Only rarely have the motives been clear; when they were, it was often opposition to the Church's teachings on life in the womb," Dolan and Lori insisted. 

The statement comes one week before the USCCB will celebrate Religious Freedom Week, which is slated to begin on June 22 and last through June 29.

This weeklong observance will give Catholics the opportunity to "pray, reflect, and act to promote religious freedom." Each day during Religious Freedom Week will have a specific focus. Church vandalism will serve as the focus on Thursday, June 23.

On June 23, Catholics are encouraged to "pray that Christian witness in the face of attacks on our churches will convert hearts to faith in Jesus Christ."

The USCCB maintains that "attacking sacred spaces — whether through damage to physical property or by projecting pro-abortion messages on a church while people pray for an end to abortion, as activists did in Washington, DC and New York in January — harms all people of faith, for the very nature of sacred spaces is that they are set apart and treated with respect."

"Attacks on houses of worship undermine life and dignity for all," the statement stresses. "The civic peace of a pluralistic society requires that people are free to worship without fear." 

The pro-abortion vandalism has extended beyond Catholic churches and pregnancy centers.

Several non-Catholic churches have also been subject to attacks in the past six weeks, including a Mormon church and two Protestant churches in Washington state. 

The pro-abortion group Ruth Sent Us called for the interruption of Catholic masses on Mothers' Day. Since then, activists have regularly held protests outside the homes of the six Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices.

However, only five of the six Republican-appointed justices are Catholic, as Neil Gorsuch is Episcopalian. Although Chief Justice John Roberts is Catholic, he did not sign on to the draft opinion in Dobbs

Most of the recent acts of vandalism against pro-life pregnancy centers and a group of churches in Washington state have come from a group of pro-abortion activists calling themselves Jane's Revenge.

Robert Evans, a journalist with the Netherlands-based news operation Bellingcat, obtained a manifesto from the group that outlined their demands for the "disbanding of all anti-choice establishments, fake clinics, and violent anti-choice groups within the next thirty days."

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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