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U.S. House passes bill to combat forced organ harvesting

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Washington D.C., Mar 28, 2023 / 15:10 pm (CNA).

On Monday night the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would impose sanctions and penalties on individuals involved in the forced harvesting of human organs.

The bill, authored by Catholic Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, and called the Stop Forced Organ Harvesting Act of 2023, had nearly unanimous support, passing in a 412-2 vote. It will now advance to the Senate.

Under this law, any person determined by the president to be funding, sponsoring, or in any way facilitating the forced harvesting of organs could face sanctions as well as civil and criminal penalties.

Individuals determined to be involved with the forced organ harvesting industry could face civil penalties of up to $250,000 and criminal penalties of $1 million and up to 20 years in prison.

Additionally, individuals involved in the organ harvesting scheme could face sanctions blocking them from entering the U.S. and prohibiting them from engaging in transactions in property or interests in property within the country.

According to Smith, the secretive forced organ harvesting industry preys on minority communities throughout the world, with victims being abducted or imprisoned only for their organs to be removed for harvesting.

In some instances, the victims have been reported to still be alive during the harvesting procedure.

This forced organ harvesting industry is said to be especially prevalent in China under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

“These crimes against humanity are unimaginable,” Smith said during debate on the House floor on Monday. “Every year, under General Secretary Xi Jinping and his Chinese Communist Party, between 60,000 to 100,000 young victims — average age 28 — are murdered in cold blood to steal their internal organs.”

China’s Falun Gong and Uyghur communities, Smith explained, are especially targeted by the CCP for forced organ harvesting. 

“Elderly high-ranking Chinese Communist Party officials have received replacement organs from the very people they despise like the Falun Gong and the Uyghurs,” Smith said. 

“We must act decisively,” Smith continued. “State-sponsored forced organ harvesting is big business for Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party and shows absolutely no sign of abating. Which is why we and the rest of the world need to step up.”  

Police: Shooter at Nashville Christian school was former student, had ‘manifesto’

A woman prays at a makeshift memorial for victims outside the Covenant School building at the Covenant Presbyterian Church on March 28, 2023, following the March 27, 2023, shooting at the school in Nashville, Tennessee. / Credit: Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Washington D.C., Mar 28, 2023 / 14:50 pm (CNA).

A person who killed six people at a private Presbyterian Christian school in Nashville before being fatally shot by police wrote a manifesto that contained a map of the school and potential entry points, but a motive for the crime has yet to be determined, according to police.

Police confirmed the shooter was 28-year-old Audrey Hale, who was a biological female who identified as transgender and had previously attended Covenant School as a child. Police Chief John Drake said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon that the police do not believe the individual victims had been specifically targeted and that they are still not sure of the exact motive.

When asked whether Covenant School had been targeted for its Christian beliefs or whether there was any significance to the date of the attack, Drake said that is still unclear.

“I can’t confirm either,” Drake said. “I’m not sure [whether it is because] we’re approaching a holy period at Easter and all of that. I can’t confirm any of that. [We] do not know why she targeted that particular church. We do know she was a student at that church at one point but unsure right now if that was the reason why.”

Regarding the manifesto, Drake said there was “quite a bit of writing to it,” but only confirmed that “there was a map of the school” and “a drawing of how potentially she would enter.” He said the manifesto contained writings about other locations, but that he has “not read the whole entire manifesto” and that police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are still working on it.

Drake said that Hale legally purchased seven weapons and brought three of them to Covenant School on the day of the attack. He added that “she was under doctors’ care for an emotional disorder” and that her parents did not believe she should have owned guns and did not know she owned any at the time of the shooting.

Metropolitan Nashville Police Department officers shot Hale in a gunfight at about 10:24 a.m., but not before the shooter took the lives of three 9-year-old students and three adult staff members. The school, which serves about 200 students, provides education from preschool through sixth grade. All six victims were pronounced dead on arrival after being transported to the hospital.

The police were informed of the shooting at about 10:13 a.m. and engaged and killed the suspect by about 10:24 a.m., according to Drake. He said when the officers arrived, “the suspect was in an upper level” and “police cars were hit by gunfire.”

“As officers were approaching the building, there was gunfire going on,” Drake said. “They went in, they went through door by door, [which is how] we clear buildings. They heard gunfire and immediately ran to that and then took care of this horrible situation.”

Drake said he was impressed by the officers’ response but added that there is always room to improve.

“I was really impressed that with all that was going on, the danger that somebody had took control and said ‘let’s go, let’s go, let’s go’ and went in and took care and just tried to end this situation,” Drake said.

“We look at every single incident we have and if there’s a way to get better,” and “you always want to get there in two or three minutes, so there’s a lot of things that could have happened,” he added.

Mourners held a vigil at Belmont United Methodist Church Monday night to pray for the victims of the shooting, and others visited Covenant Presbyterian Church to lay flowers and pray. Bishop Mark Spalding of the Catholic Diocese of Nashville held a special Mass at the Cathedral of the Incarnation to pray for and remember the victims.

“My heart breaks with news of the school shooting at the Covenant School this morning,” Bishop Spalding said in a statement. “Let us pray for the victims, their families, and the Covenant Presbyterian community.”

Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church issued a statement on Facebook to notify its members that one of the children killed in the attack, Hallie Scruggs, was the granddaughter of two of its parishioners.

“Our Lady of the Lake is deeply united in prayer with the Covenant Presbyterian community,” the statement read. “Please continue to pray for the victims and their families and that God brings them a peace only he can provide.”

This is a developing story.

Latin America celebrates Day of the Unborn Child with pro-life marches in several countries

Thousands participated in the March for Life in Lima, Peru, on Saturday, March 25, 2023. / Credit: David Lizarzaburo/March for Life

ACI Prensa Staff, Mar 28, 2023 / 14:30 pm (CNA).

March 25, the solemnity of the Annunciation and the Incarnation of Christ in the womb of the Virgin Mary, is celebrated as the Day of the Unborn Child in Latin America, and large pro-life marches were held in Argentina, Ecuador, and Peru.


According to local organizers, 20,000 people turned out for the march in Buenos Aires alone. In addition, marches were held in the cities of Salta, Tucumán, Bahía Blanca, Corrientes, Mar de Plata, Córdoba, and Santiago del Estero.

Ana Belén Marmora, an Argentine pro-life leader, explained to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, that “the march is one day of the year in which all of us who defend life from conception take to the streets to demonstrate for it.”

The March for Life in Argentina on March 25, 2023. Credit: March for Argentine Life
The March for Life in Argentina on March 25, 2023. Credit: March for Argentine Life

“It’s important because if we really want to repeal the disastrous law on abortion, now more than ever we have to make it clearly seen that this is not over and that no one here is giving up,” she stressed.

On Dec. 30, 2020, the Argentine legislature passed a law pushed by President Alberto Fernández that legalized abortion on demand in the country for up to 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Marmora told ACI Prensa that the march also aims to defend “all the doctors and health professionals who today are pressured to perform abortions and whose conscientious objection is not respected.”

She said the march serves to alert the Legislature to the “grave error” it made in legalizing abortion and pointed to the case of María Del Valle, the first woman to die “from supposedly safe, free, and legal abortion.”


The same day, thousands of people took to the streets in the Ecuadorian cities of Quito, Guayaquil, and Cuenca to defend the right to life of the unborn child.

President Alfredo Palacios González established the Day of the Unborn Child in the country by decree 1441, which recognizes that the conceived person is a child.

The June 1, 2006, decree states that the conceived child must be guaranteed “the right to life, expressly recognizing the baby as a living human being and a legal person who cannot be discriminated against due to his/her unborn condition.”

March for life in Ecuador on March 25, 2023. Credit: Courtesy of Estela Zea
March for life in Ecuador on March 25, 2023. Credit: Courtesy of Estela Zea

Estela Zea, spokesperson for the Yes to Life movement, told ACI Prensa that she hopes these marches will reinforce “the Christian commitment of all Catholics who value, respect, and promote life, family, and freedom.”

The very large Voice of the Unborn bell featured in the march is owned by the Yes to Life movement and the bishop emeritus of Daule, Giovanni Piccioli. The bell was blessed by Pope Francis in October 2021 and sent to Ecuador “to wake up people’s conscience,” Zea said.

The archbishop of Guayaquil, Luis Cabrera, offered a Mass on Feb. 12, 2022, to receive the Voice of the Unborn bell, which arrived in Ecuador in the midst of the debate on a bill on legalizing abortion in cases of rape.

“We are not gods to decide who lives and who dies,” Cabrera said on that occasion.

The ‘Voice of the Unborn’ bell arrives at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle in Guayaquil, Ecuador, in 2022. Family News Service.
The ‘Voice of the Unborn’ bell arrives at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle in Guayaquil, Ecuador, in 2022. Family News Service.

In his talk at one of the marches, the bishop of Santa Elena and head of the Family and Life program of the Ecuadorian Bishops’ Conference, Iván Minda, encouraged the faithful to be the salt and light of the world.

The prelate urged the faithful that “with your life, witness, and prayer, be the salt and light” as the Lord has taught and “be leaven in the dough and positive change in society and in the time in which we find ourselves.”

In Guayaquil, Nelson Martinez, president of “I Educate My Children,” read a manifesto stating that “Ecuadorians will continue to demonstrate until the lives of unborn children continue to be recognized, respected, and protected from conception; the right of conscientious objection of doctors is guaranteed and all gender politics are excluded.”

“We are on the alert and vigilant before every attempt to violate the law and the constitution that our authorities, especially the Constitutional Court, aim to impose in our country,” he said.


Thousands turned out in a festive and peaceful atmosphere for the March for Life in Lima, Peru, the country’s capital. The march had been suspended for various reasons since 2018.

Entire families, young people, the elderly, children, pro-life groups, schools, and ecclesiastical movements participated in the heavily attended march.

At the end point of the march, a stage was set up featuring musicians and speakers. Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Adriano Tomasi of Lima recalled how the pro-life event began and highlighted its importance.

“We believe in the God of life, in the God of the family. Now as an older person I come to defend our lives, so that laws that exclude us are not made, because life is immeasurable, life is a gift from God,” the prelate told the attendees, according to a news brief from the March for Life.

Thousands participated in the March for Life in Lima, Peru, on Saturday, March 25, 2023. Credit: David Lizarzaburo/March for Life
Thousands participated in the March for Life in Lima, Peru, on Saturday, March 25, 2023. Credit: David Lizarzaburo/March for Life

Carol Maraví, executive director of the March for Life, reminded participants that “defending life is the noblest cause.”

“The marches began in 2002 and we will continue to defend life. See you next year,” she added.

Speaking to Radio Programs of Peru, Maraví stressed that this year's march also was intended to be an expression of solidarity with all those affected by the heavy rains and floods that hit the country, leaving thousands of victims and claiming the lives of at least 50 people.

Juan Carlos Puertas, secretary of the Values, Family, and Life Association, encouraged the marchers to continue participating in pro-life initiatives and to defend the right to life since different countries have passed laws violating that right.

At the event, congress members Rosangela Barbaràn and Alejandro Muñante as well as Lima city council members Giuliana Calambrogio and Leo de Paz signed a banner as a symbol of their commitment to defend life.

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

Religion, patriotism, and having children diminish in importance for Americans: WSJ poll

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St. Louis, Mo., Mar 28, 2023 / 13:45 pm (CNA).

A new poll of U.S. residents suggests that certain values such as religiosity and having children have receded in importance over the past 25 years, while people’s opinion of the importance of money increased during the same period. 

When asked about certain values and whether they consider them to be “very important,” 39% said “religion” was very important to them. By contrast, in 1998, 62% of respondents to the same question said religion was very important to them. 

The poll, released March 27, was conducted earlier this month by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago and funded by the Wall Street Journal. 

Faith was one of several indicators of more traditional values that the survey showed are less important to Americans than they were 25 years ago. The 2023 survey found that these values are less important than in 2019, the last time the survey was done. 

Among the findings:

  • Only 30% of 2023 respondents overall said having children was very important to them, compared with 59% in 1998 and 43% in 2019. 

  • In another notable drop, 38% in 2023 said “patriotism” is very important, compared with 70% in 1998 and 61% in 2019. 

  • Only 43% said marriage is very important (this question was not on the 2019 and 1998 surveys). 

  • The only value that increased in importance in respondents’ minds from 1998 to 2023 was money, which increased from 31% to 43% over the time period. 

“Aside from money, all age groups, including seniors, attached far less importance to these priorities and values than when pollsters asked about them in 1998 and 2019. But younger Americans in particular place low importance on these values, many of which were central to the lives of their parents,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

In the 2023 poll, just 19% of the respondents overall said they attend religious services once a week or more. Some 31% of younger respondents said that religion was very important to them, compared with 55% among seniors, the Journal reported. 

Broken down by self-described political persuasion, 53% of Republicans and 27% of Democrats said religion is “very important” to them, and 38% of Republicans and 26% of Democrats said having children is very important to them.

Bill McInturff, a pollster who worked on a previous WSJ survey, told the paper that “these differences are so dramatic, it paints a new and surprising portrait of a changing America’’ and surmised that “perhaps the toll of our political division, COVID, and the lowest economic confidence in decades is having a startling effect on our core values.”

Other findings

  • The pollsters asked respondents if they are confident or not confident that life for their children’s generation will be better than it has been for them. Seventy-eight percent said they do not feel confident, while 21% said they do. 

  • Only 27% of those surveyed said that “community involvement” was very important to them. That’s a dramatic decrease from 2019, when 62% said it was very important. In 1998, 47% rated it as very important.

  • “Hard work” is less important today that it used to be: 67% said it was very important, compared with 89% in 2019 and 83% in 1998.

The pollsters also asked respondents several questions about current issues that did not appear on the previous surveys. For example, respondents were asked for their opinions on transgender athletes.

Fifty-six percent of respondents said transgender athletes should play on teams matching their biological sex, 17% said they should be able to play on sports teams that match their gender identity, and 25% were unsure. 

The Journal-NORC survey polled 1,019 people from March 1–13. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.The full results of the 2023 WSJ poll can be found here.  The results of the NBC/Wall Street Journal polls taken in 2019 and 1998 can be found here.