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Pope Francis calls for day of prayer for Ukraine

Pope Francis gives the Angelus address on Jan. 23, 2022 / Vatican Media

Vatican City, Jan 23, 2022 / 11:55 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Sunday called for January 26 to be a day of prayer for peace in Ukraine, as the threat rises of Russian invasion into the Eastern European country.

“I am following with concern the increase of tensions that threaten to inflict a new blow to the peace in Ukraine, and call into question the security of the European continent, with wider repercussions,” the pope said after his weekly Angelus address Jan. 23.

“I make a heartfelt appeal to all people of good will, that they may raise prayers to God Almighty, that every political action and initiative may serve human brotherhood, rather than partisan interests,” he stated.

Russia has sent an estimated 100,000 troops to the Ukrainian border. U.S. President Joe Biden said at a press conference on Jan. 19 that he expected Russian President Vladimir Putin to order an invasion.

The British government said on Jan. 22 that Russia may be plotting to install a pro-Kremlin leader in Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv.

“Those who pursue their own interests, to the detriment of others, disregard their human vocation, as we were all created as brothers and sisters,” Pope Francis said. “For this reason, and with concern, given the current tensions, I propose that next Wednesday, January 26, be a day of prayer for peace.”

Catholic bishops in Europe have also expressed support for Ukraine and appealed to Christians to pray for peace.

The pope’s appeal for Ukraine came after he led the weekly recitation of the Angelus, a traditional Marian prayer, from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square.

People wave at Pope Francis during his Angelus address on Jan. 23, 2022. Vatican Media
People wave at Pope Francis during his Angelus address on Jan. 23, 2022. Vatican Media

In his address before the prayer, Francis spoke about the day’s Gospel reading, “the first word of Jesus’ preaching recorded in the Gospel of Luke,” particularly when Jesus says: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled.”

“Let us dwell on this ‘today,’” the pope said. “The Word of God is always ‘today.’ It begins with a ‘today:’ when you read the Word of God, a ‘today’ begins in your soul, if you understand it well.”

Speaking on Word of God Sunday, Pope Francis thanked those who preach and proclaim the Gospel with fidelity and in a way that rouses hearts. He also addressed the problem of religious talks or homilies which are too “generic, abstract.”

There are homilies which “do not touch the soul and the life of the people,” he said, explaining that the reason this happens is “because they lack the power of this ‘today;’ what Jesus ‘fills with meaning’ by the power of the Spirit, is today.”

“Yes, at times one hears impeccable conferences, well-constructed speeches, but they do not move the heart and so everything remains as before,” he noted. “Even many homilies — I say it with respect but with pain — are abstract, and instead of awakening the soul, they put it to sleep. When the faithful start looking at their watches — ‘when is this going to end?’ — they put the soul to sleep,” he said.

Pope Francis encouraged everyone to read and re-read a small passage of scripture every day: “Keep the Gospel in your pocket or your bag, to read it on your travels, at any moment, and read it calmly. In time we will discover that these words are made especially for us, for our life.”

“The Word of God, is indeed alive and effective; it changes us, it enters into our affairs, it illuminates our daily lives, it comforts and brings order. Remember: the Word of God transforms an ordinary day into the today in which God speaks to us,” he said.

Francis suggested that during this liturgical year, it would be good for Catholics to spend time in personal reflection on the Gospel of Luke, the Gospel proclaimed at Mass on Sundays.

“Let us familiarize ourselves with the Gospel, it will bring us the newness and joy of God,” he said.

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Biden reaffirms support for abortion on anniversary of Roe v. Wade

U.S. President Joe Biden arrives at the Vatican to meet Pope Francis Oct. 29, 2021 / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jan 22, 2022 / 10:40 am (CNA).

President Joe Biden pledged to defend a so-called right to abortion and reaffirmed his commitment to the widespread availability of the procedure in a Jan. 22 statement marking the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

“The constitutional right established in Roe v. Wade nearly 50 years ago today is under assault as never before,” reads the statement, which was co-signed by Vice President Kamala Harris. “It is a right we believe should be codified into law, and we pledge to defend it with every tool we possess.”

“We are deeply committed to protecting access to health care, including reproductive health care—and to ensuring that this country is not pushed backwards on women’s equality,” the statement continues. 

The statement was released one day after tens of thousands of pro-life advocates gathered in Washington for the annual March for Life

Biden and Harris condemned efforts by pro-life lawmakers to enact restrictions on abortion, saying that “in Texas, Mississippi, and many other states around the country, access to reproductive health care is under attack.” 

“These state restrictions constrain the freedom of all women,” they wrote, adding that such restrictions are “particularly devastating for those who have fewer options and fewer resources, such as those in underserved communities, including communities of color and many in rural areas.” 

In addition to support of codifying a right to an abortion throughout the entirety of a pregnancy, Biden and Harris wrote that they will “continue to work with Congress on the Women’s Health Protection Act.” 

The Women’s Health Protection Act would establish “a statutory right for health care professionals to provide abortion and the right for their patients to receive care, free from medically unnecessary restrictions that single out abortion care.” 

If passed, the bill would also eliminate requirements including mandatory waiting periods and ultrasounds before the procedure can be performed. 

Biden and Harris wrote that it is important to “ensure that our daughters and granddaughters have the same fundamental rights that their mothers and grandmothers fought for and won on this day, 49 years ago.” 

“At this pivotal moment, we recommit to strengthening access to critical reproductive health care, defending the constitutional right established by Roe, and protecting the freedom of all people to build their own future,” the statement reads. 

Biden is the second Catholic president and the first to be elected since Roe v. Wade. In an interview with The Washingtonian when Roe was issued, Biden said he was more moderate on many social issues, including abortion. 

"But when it comes to issues like abortion, amnesty, and acid, I'm about as liberal as your grandmother," Biden said at the time. "I don't like the Supreme Court decision on abortion. I think it went too far. I don't think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body."

While in the Senate, Biden repeatedly voted for legislation that would prevent the taxpayer funding of abortion. However, his views on abortion began to shift over time. 

By his last year in the Senate prior to becoming vice president, Biden received a zero rating by the National Right to Life Committee. The last time Biden received a score above zero from the pro-life committee was in 2003-2004.

“There’s no surprise here,” said Mercedes Schlapp, former strategic communications director for the Trump administration, in a Jan. 21 interview with EWTN’s Owen Jensen. “We knew he was going to be radical on abortion. We knew he was going to support abortion— late term abortions. We know he’s obsessed and [the Democratic] party is obsessed with codifying Roe v. Wade.”

“As Catholics, we need to be vocal,” she continued. “We need to stand strong and we need to tell the president this is not right. We need to defend the unborn.”

These are the best signs we saw at the March for Life

Yuni and Natalie Wu of the Lexington-area in Kentucky at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. / Katie Yoder/CNA

Washington D.C., Jan 22, 2022 / 07:20 am (CNA).

Tens of thousands of Americans attended the 49th March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Friday to challenge the legality of abortion and celebrate a culture of life. The largest annual pro-life event in the country marks the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling which legalized abortion nationwide.

Here are the 15 of the best signs that CNA saw at the march:

A man raises his Baby Yoda sign during a rally held on the National Mall at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
A man raises his Baby Yoda sign during a rally held on the National Mall at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
Yuni and Natalie Wu of the Lexington-area in Kentucky at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
Yuni and Natalie Wu of the Lexington-area in Kentucky at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
A woman holds up a sign while marching outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
A woman holds up a sign while marching outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
A man holds up a sign while marching outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
A man holds up a sign while marching outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
A young woman holds another Baby Yoda Sign outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
A young woman holds another Baby Yoda Sign outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
Young adults hold colorful signs outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
Young adults hold colorful signs outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
A woman sports a message on her coat outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
A woman sports a message on her coat outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
Ben (12) and Madeline (turning 14 on Jan. 21) of Fredericksburg, Virginia, at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
Ben (12) and Madeline (turning 14 on Jan. 21) of Fredericksburg, Virginia, at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA



A close-up of Akili’s sign at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
A close-up of Akili’s sign at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
Young women from Charlotte, North Carolina, display their handmade signs during a rally on the National Mall at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
Young women from Charlotte, North Carolina, display their handmade signs during a rally on the National Mall at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
18-year-old Akili of Warrenton, Virginia, at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
18-year-old Akili of Warrenton, Virginia, at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
A woman holds her pro-life sign during a rally held on the National Mall at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
A woman holds her pro-life sign during a rally held on the National Mall at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
Mary St. Hilaire, of Wichita, Kansas (left), and Kristina Massa, 22, of Lincoln, Nebraska, at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
Mary St. Hilaire, of Wichita, Kansas (left), and Kristina Massa, 22, of Lincoln, Nebraska, at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Katie Yoder/CNA
Two women gather during a rally held on the National Mall at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
Two women gather during a rally held on the National Mall at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
Young people pose with their signs outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA
Young people pose with their signs outside the U.S. Supreme Court at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. Christine Rousselle/CNA

Missed the March for Life? Here it is, in a 45-second video

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. Newsroom, Jan 22, 2022 / 06:26 am (CNA).

Missed the March for Life? Well, can you watch the whole thing in the time it takes to say three Hail Marys.

As it has done in the past, the pro-life group Students for Life released a 45-second-long time-lapse video of the marchers filing past an elevated camera set up along the route.

The turnout for the Jan. 21 march in Washington, D.C., as you can see, was huge. While it's not the practice of the march's organizers or the police to provide specific estimates of the size of the crowd, Students for Life, calculates that about 150,000 people paraded past its camera post.

"The cold couldn't dampen the spirits of the Pro-Life Generation who knew we were celebrating the last anniversary of Roe v. Wade," the group, officially Students for Life of America, tweeted on Friday. "The largest human rights march in the world IS against abortion." You can watch the the march video below.

Impressive, no? You also don't want to miss the powerful speech Father Mike Schmitz of "Bible in a Year" fame delivered at the rally right before the march. Here's the EWTN video of the speech:

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