Bishops call for prayer, fasting on May 13 after leaked court opinion 

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To counter rising tensions in the wake of the leaked Supreme Court opinion that indicated a majority of justices are ready to overturn the precedents that legalized abortion, leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are calling on the faithful to unite in fasting and prayer. 

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the USCCB, and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, invited “Catholics around the country to join us in fasting and praying the Rosary on Friday, May 13, the Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima.” 

The intentions of the fasting and prayer are: 

  • For our nation, for the integrity of our judicial system, and that all branches of government be dedicated to seeking the common good and protecting the dignity and rights of the human person, from conception to natural death.  
  • For the overturning of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey in the Supreme Court’s final decision in Dobbs v. Jackson
  • For the conversion of the hearts and minds of those who advocate for abortion. 
  • For a new commitment to building an America where children are welcomed, cherished, and cared for; where mothers and fathers are encouraged and strengthened; and where marriage and the family are recognized and supported as the true foundations of a healthy and flourishing society. 
  • For Our Blessed Mother’s intercession and guidance as the Church continues to walk with mothers and families in need, and continues to promote alternatives to abortion, and seeks to create a culture of life.  

“As Catholics, let us witness to the beautiful gift of life with civility and love, and with our peaceful prayers and our compassionate service to all those in need,” Archbishops Gomez and Lori wrote. 

The online news site Politico published a report late May 2 from a leaked draft of an opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito that indicated a majority of the Supreme Court justices seem set to overturn Roe v. Wade and a later abortion case Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The draft opinion was written for the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case concerning a Mississippi abortion law. 

The report prompted some abortion advocates to call for nationwide demonstrations, disruptions of church services, and the personal intimidation of specific Supreme Court justices. 

Protests outside the homes of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh in the Washington area, as well as a spate of vandalism and disruptions targeting locales of groups that oppose abortion, including some Catholic churches, have been reported. 

The New York Times reported May 7 that part of the wall of the headquarters of Wisconsin Family Action, in Madison, was set on fire, leaving behind graffiti that read: “If abortions aren’t safe then you aren’t either.” 

Madison Bishop Donald J. Hying, in a May 9 statement, called the vandalism, “a brazen act of violence, which all citizens should condemn, as an attack on the respect and concern we owe to each other in seeking the common good.” 

Officials from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ religious liberty office said they documented nine similar incidents on the weekend after the leak, stretching from New York to Los Angeles. 

Most were disruptions or destruction of property such as the one reported by The Denver Channel in Colorado, an ABC affiliate, where Sacred Heart of Mary Church staff, in Boulder, removed graffiti, paint, and broken glass over Mother’s Day weekend. 

Though the leaked draft is not final, Chief Justice Roberts confirmed its authenticity and has called for an investigation. The draft, according to the Politico report, shows five justices’ alignment against Roe v. Wade – enough to overturn it. The court’s final decision could be announced in the next two months. 

Authorities in Washington, wary after what happened during the Jan. 6, 2021, attacks on the U.S Capitol nearby, have erected tall and difficult-to-scale fencing around the Supreme Court, where some punches have been thrown and tensions have grown among protestors who disagree. 

Biden administration officials issued a statement against violence May 9. Referring to U.S. President Joe Biden by the Twitter handle for President of the United States, or @POTUS, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that he “strongly believes in the Constitutional right to protest.” 

“But that should never include violence, threats, or vandalism. Judges perform an incredibly important function in our society, and they must be able to do their jobs without concern for their personal safety,” she tweeted. 

Rhina Guidos of Catholic News Service contributed to this report. 

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