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Private school parents will appeal to EU for relief against Spanish education law

Madrid, Spain, Jan 19, 2021 / 06:01 pm (CNA).- An association of Spanish education advocates will appeal to the European Union to prevent Spain's socialist government from implementing an education law that will restrict the exercise of the rights of parents in deciding their children's education.

The law, approved by the Spanish parliament Dec. 23, 2020, eliminates Spanish as the official language, and most importantly, prevents parents from choosing religious schools for their children.

Spain has a charter school program that allows private schools, most of which are Catholic, to receive significant financial resources from the government. About 50% of Spain's students go to charter schools. The new law prevents parents who live in a district with a public school to opt into a charter school for their children, a blow to both parental freedom and the ability of charter schools to survive financially. 

“Más Plurales”, an organization that that includes thousands of educators, parents, and students from charter schools in Spain, announced Jan. 19 that “in the upcoming days we will appeal to the European Commission a lawsuit against the Spanish Government due to the serious imminent risk of violation of the fundamental rights and freedoms recognized by the European Union that implies the approval and entry into force of the new law.”

“This is a Law approved with little support, with the lowest number of parliamentary votes of all democratic educational laws and with a parliamentary procedure in which the intervention of civil society has been vetoed,” the statement also said.

The new law also dramatically affects religious education. Before the current law was approved, the government and the Catholic Church had an agreement that allowed one hour of elective Catholic education at public schools. The new law removes that hour from the school program, relegating it to an after school activity.

According to Más Plurales “almost 2 million citizens have signed our statement against the law and in favor of freedom and plurality. Demonstrations have been held in which thousands of cars have traveled the streets of the main cities throughout the country in protest of the content and the way in which this law has been implemented.”

The current Spanish government, controlled by a coalition between the Spanish Socialist Party and the leftist "Podemos," has increasingly been passing laws hostile to religion in the public square.

This pro-life Democrat is worried about the next Catholic president

Denver Newsroom, Jan 19, 2021 / 03:00 pm (CNA).- A former U.S. representative who was known as one of the last standing pro-life Democrats in Congress said he is worried about the example a Catholic president who is also pro-abortion will have on young Catholics. 

“I'm afraid that there's a lot of talk about Joe Biden being our second Catholic president,” said Dan Lipinski, a former U.S. representative for the third district of Illinois, on the southwest side of Chicago.

“It's going to be very clear early on if he does move on the executive orders, with respect to abortion, that's going to be very problematic, especially as a Catholic.”

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to repeal several pro-life policies put in place by the Trump administration, including the Protect Life Rule and the expanded Mexico City Policy. Biden has also pledged to repeal the Hyde Amendment and codify Roe v. Wade into law.

Among other things, these changes would allow for taxpayer funding to groups that perform abortions, both domestically and overseas. 

Lipinski said that his own Catholic faith influenced him during the 16 years he served in the U.S. House of Representatives, including by shaping his pro-life beliefs. Lipinksi was known as one of the last standing pro-life Democrats in Congress, voting against the party line on numerous legislative issues involving abortion.

“I knew that I was never going to change my position on abortion and in protecting lives. I knew that from the beginning,” Lipinski said in an interview with CNA, citing his Catholic faith in influencing his pro-life convictions.

“Honestly I just never believed that it was worthwhile to protect a seat in Congress, to protect my position in Congress, no matter how much I loved the job and was honored to represent the people of the third district. It just wasn't worth it to me to give up what I knew was right.”

Lipinski said he believes Catholics should allow their faith to influence all aspects of their lives.

“We all fall short, but we're all called to always, in everything we do, put our Catholic faith first and have that really inspire and guide what we do,” he said. “Certainly that extends to life as an elected official.”

While some Catholics argue that they are personally pro-life, but do not want to impose their values on other people, Lipinksi rejected this line of thinking.

“If you truly believe that the baby in the womb is a human person, alive...you can't compromise that away. You can't say, ‘well, not everyone believes that, so I'm not going to support that.’ You have to do everything you can to protect that life,” he said.

At the end of his time in Congress, Lipinksi was one of the sole Democrats opposing the party’s abortion stance. But it wasn’t always that way.

He remembers having several pro-life, Democratic colleagues during his first years in the House.

“I was still in the minority, but I always like to point out to people that back in 2009, the first time the Affordable Care Act - or Obamacare - passed the House, there was the Stupak–Pitts Amendment.”

The Stupack-Pitts Amendment prevented taxpayer dollars from being spent on elective abortion or insurance that covered elective abortion, and Lipinski said 64 Democrats voted for it.

“I think there may be a handful, a small handful, of Democrats who would support that in the House today,” he said. “With my loss last year and Collin Peterson in Minnesota, there really are no Democrats left that are 100% pro-life.”

“I'm very concerned about the direction the party has gone when it comes to the abortion issue, when it comes to family issues, protection of religious liberty,” he said. “The party really needs to … at the very least recognize people who are pro-life and respect their position, and at the very least not support taxpayer funding of abortion.”

Lipinski lost his seat last March in a primary race against Marie Newman, after pro-abortion groups contributed to a coalition giving more than $1.4 million in funding to Newman. 

The congressman said the night he knew he lost the primary was difficult for him. But he actually remembers the next day best.

“The next day I had people contacting me and thanking me for standing up for my principles, staying true to my Catholic faith, and I knew that God was calling me to something bigger,” he said. 

Lipinski said he is working on a book about being Catholic in the public square today, “and encouraging Catholics to stay true to their Catholic faith in a world right now that’s very tough and a very bipolar, tribal society where Catholics don't fit in neatly to either two tribes.” 

The book is an extension of a commencement address he delivered at Ave Maria University in 2019.

“As a former college professor, I especially want to reach out to young Catholics. I think these days, especially,” Lipinski said. “They need to have good examples, and they're really thirsting for a better understanding of what it means to be Catholic, and encouragement to be Catholic.”

“We are a very divided country right now. Catholics don't fit neatly into either party. I think that Catholics have really an opportunity to be a witness for every aspect of Catholic social teaching,” he said. “Obviously, the right to life is the most important, but the dignity of every individual, and what the government can do to uphold that dignity in a lot of different ways.”

This interview originally aired on Catholic News Agency’s podcast, CNA Newsroom. It has been adapted for print. 

As March for Life goes virtual, U.S. bishops call Catholics to prayer instead

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jan 19, 2021 / 02:50 pm (CNA).- After the national March for Life announced last week it would be taking place virtually, the U.S. bishops’ pro-life chair has exhorted Catholics to prayer instead.

“Peaceful prayer and witness must and will continue this year—just in a different format,” Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee, stated on Tuesday.

The archbishop encouraged Catholics who originally planned to attend the national March for Life in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 29, to instead unite in prayer beginning on Thursday, Jan. 21, the eve of the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision and the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. The 9 Days for Life novena will continue until Jan. 29.

The March for Life is an annual peaceful pro-life gathering in Washington, D.C. in protest of abortion. It has occurred every year since the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

Annually attended by pro-life advocates from all over the U.S., the march is the world’s largest annual human rights demonstration, according to organizers.

It is scheduled to take place on Jan. 29, but last Friday organizers for the event decided to confine attendance to a small group of pro-life leaders, citing safety precautions. The leaders will leave roses in front of the Supreme Court in mourning for the lives lost to abortion.

Jeanne Mancini, the president of the March for Life, cited the safety of participants as a key reason for the change in plans. The march was originally intended to continue albeit with health precautions for attendees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In light of the fact that we are in the midst of a pandemic which may be peaking, and in view of the heightened pressures that law enforcement officers and others are currently facing in and around the Capitol, this year’s March for Life will look different,” Mancini said.

Through the fall and into the winter, the number of reported cases of COVID-19 soared; the total number of deaths in the U.S. due to COVID-19 has now surpassed 400,000.

Security in Washington, D.C. has also intensified following the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol by thousands of rioters. Now, large portions of downtown Washington, D.C. are locked to the public in advance of the Jan. 20 Inauguration.

More than 25,000 National Guard troops are currently stationed in D.C., according to NBC News 4 Washington, and the National Mall has been closed to the public.

“The annual rally will take place virtually and we are asking all participants to stay home and to join the March virtually,” Mancini said.

Archbishop Naumann praised the decision by the march to move to a virtual format.

“As long-time participants in the annual March for Life, my brother bishops and I commend the march organizers for their concern for the lives and safety of all participants,” he said. “The countless, peaceful, pro-life marchers who would normally gather each year should not be put at risk.”

Archbishop of Washington prays for COVID victims at Lincoln Memorial

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jan 19, 2021 / 02:30 pm (CNA).- The Archbishop of Washington prayed for all victims of the COVID-19 pandemic at a national memorial service on Tuesday evening.

 

“We turn to the Lord of all to receive these, our sisters and brothers, into eternal peace, and to comfort all those who grieve the loss of a loved one,” Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C. prayed at the at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., appearing alongside President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

 

“We do so not as strangers or disinterested persons, but as fellow citizens who share some limited portion of their grief and sorrow,” Cardinal Gregory said of the prayer.

Gregory delivered the invocation at the Nationwide COVID-19 Memorial service on Tuesday evening, held on the eve of the 2021 Inauguration Day. More than 400,000 Americans have died from the COVID-19 pandemic since it began.

 

“To heal, we must remember. It’s hard sometimes to remember, but that’s how we heal,” President-elect Joe Biden stated in front of the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall. “It’s important to do that as a nation. That’s why we’re here today.”

 

Tuesday’s service also featured a rendition of “Amazing Grace” by Lori Marie Key, a 29 year-old nurse who worked in the COVID-19 unit at her hospital at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System; she appeared in a viral video earlier in 2020 singing “Amazing Grace” while at St. Mary Mercy Hospital in Livonia, Michigan.

 

Biden’s remarks were followed by a lighting around the Reflecting Pool. According to the Presidential Inaugural Committee, cities from around the U.S. joined in unity, lighting up prominent landmarks.

 

Cardinal Gregory mentioned the special pain of family and friends of COVID victims, who could not have a proper funeral for them due to restrictions on public gatherings.

 

“We pray for the countless families and relatives who had to surrender their loved ones without the comfort and the consolation of a familiar funeral ritual, according to their religious traditions or selection,” Cardinal Gregory prayed.

 

“May our prayer this evening serve as a small expression of our national desire to comfort and strengthen those who have endured the loss of a loved one to this pandemic, and may it be a resounding gesture of gratitude for all those who have cared for the victims of this virus, and their loved ones,” he said.

 

Biden, a Catholic, has reportedly invited congressional leaders to attend a service with him at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in D.C. on Wednesday morning.

 

Connecticut assisted suicide bill would not safeguard against coercion, opponents say

Hartford, Conn., Jan 19, 2021 / 02:01 pm (CNA).- Disability advocates criticized a Connecticut assisted suicide bill for failing to safeguard against coercion and for promoting the idea that the terminally ill are a burden on their caregivers.

“No amount of safeguards can counter the social stigma of needing help with intimate care, of having to rely on others for support, of seeing your caregivers are tired, and wondering whether the world would be better off without you,” Cathy Ludlum told the Hartford Courant.

Ludlum is the leader of Second Thoughts Connecticut, a group of disability advocates who oppose assisted suicide.

She added that the timing of the bill was suspect, as constituents are not allowed to gather and share their testimonies at public hearings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“One has to wonder why you’re pushing it through during COVID-19 when constituents have less access to legislators and public hearings,” she said.

Various assisted suicide bills have been proposed in the state starting in 2013, though none have been passed into law.

Rep. Jonathan Steinberg (D), co-chair of the state legislature’s public health committee, told the Hartford Courant that this bill was a priority for his committee, and that “nothing of real consequence” had been changed in the bill since its previous introduction other than some tweaks that reflect “some of the learning we’ve had from experience of other states.” Assisted suicide is when a patient is given lethal drugs by their doctor that they must administer to themselves in order to end their life. It is legal in nine U.S. states, including California, Oregon, Colorado, and Maine, as well as in the District of Columbia.

Typical requirements that must be met for a patient to be allowed to request assisted suicide include mental competency, a prognosis of six months or fewer to live, and the approval of at least two doctors, though these requirements vary by state. Disability groups are frequently vocal opponents of assisted suicide legislation, which they argue targets vulnerable populations including the disabled, the ill, the elderly, and the poor. Patients rights advocacy groups have also pointed to cases in which ill patients were offered assisted suicide instead of treatment because it was the cheapest option.

Thomas E. Sullivan, a cardiologist in Massachusetts, told the Hartford Courant that one of the main reasons people request assisted suicide is because they feel they are a burden on their caregivers. Other reasons people frequently give include loneliness, depression, dementia, and a loss of control. But instead of offering to kill these patients, they should be cared for by “physiatrists and other disability care specialists and when appropriate, the role of hospice, palliative and compassionate experts who routinely perform these functions in a most humane manner,” Sullivan said. In written testimony for a 2019 bill in Connecticut that proposed legalized physician assisted suicide, provided to CNA, Ludlum said she feared that people with disabilities would be disproportionately nudged toward assisted suicide instead of being provided with appropriate psychological and emotional support. Under that year’s legislation, Ludlum said she could be considered a candidate for assisted suicide, because without a feeding tube and respiratory support, she likely would die. “What is to prevent someone like me from showing up at a doctor’s office and saying, ‘I have had enough. I will be stopping all my treatment’?” she said.

Ludlum said she was concerned that someone with a disability “would be more likely to get compassionate nods of approval” for assisted suicide, rather than offers of psychological help or palliative care.

Steinburg told the Hartford Courant that he did not think the disability community did “a particularly good job of either reading the actual language of the bill nor having evaluated the actual experience of states that have passed such legislation, where I’ve yet to see any real significant pattern of abuse, of coercion.”
“We’re talking about a very small population of terminally ill patients, not the disabled community. We go out of our way in the language to do everything we can to assure that no family member or friend is coercing the person involved. So it really disappoints me that they continue to, in my mind, blindly oppose this legislation,” he added. Lisa Blumberg, a Hartford-area attorney, told the Hartford Courant that she opposed the bill because the language of the bill only took into account the patient’s competence for choosing assisted suicide at the time of the prescription of the drugs, instead of at the moment when they would take them. “We don’t know if a patient is competent when he takes them. We don’t know if he is having bad day. We don’t know anything. We cannot afford to just have faith,” she said.

Presidential Inaugural Committee facilitates donations to Planned Parenthood

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jan 19, 2021 / 01:55 pm (CNA).- The Presidential Inaugural Committee is facilitating donations to Planned Parenthood, encouraging supporters to sponsor American flags on the National Mall in the name of unity.

 

Through the committee’s “America United” program around the Jan. 20 Presidential Inauguration, supporters of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are encouraged to become a “symbolic sponsor” of the “Field of Flags” on the National Mall; they can do so by donating to a number of groups including Planned Parenthood.

 

“At a time when Americans cannot gather together in person for the inauguration, the PIC will install an extensive public art display on the National Mall that will include approximately 191,500 U.S. flags of varying sizes, including flags representing every state and territory, and 56 pillars of light,” the committee stated in a Jan. 11 announcement. 

 

The hundreds of thousands of flags “will represent the American people who are unable to travel to Washington, DC,” the committee stated, encouraging supporters “to become a symbolic sponsor of the Field of Flags in exchange for a donation to PIC’s partners in service.”

 

 

Here’s your first glimpse of what the #NationalMall will look like for Wednesday’s Inauguration of @joebiden: a sea of 200k US flags and state/territory flags. “All of it to show the American people that we're thinking about them in this time” - @moojv77. More on @cbsthismorning pic.twitter.com/rwHgW2tRGa

— Nancy Cordes (@nancycordes) January 18, 2021  

 

On the donation page for the Field of Flags, among the 95 groups listed as “partners” of the committee is the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

 

Among the other 95 “partner groups” of the committee are a number of pro-LGBT groups including the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

 

At the bottom of the donation site of ActBlue Charities, a 501(c)3 charitable organization of the Democratic fundraising site ActBlue, users are informed that they will receive emails from Planned Parenthood.

 

“You'll receive emails from Planned Parenthood organizations. You may unsubscribe at any time,” the site reads.

 

The committee had announced the “America United” program as an effort that “reflects the Biden-Harris commitment to healing the nation and bringing Americans together.”

 

Planned Parenthood supported the Biden-Harris ticket, and expressed jubilation over the selection of Harris as the Democratic vice presidential nominee in August.

 

In August, Planned Parenthood Action spent five figures on an online video ad hailing Harris as “OUR Reproductive Health Champion.” The group Planned Parenthood Votes also released a fact-sheet “Nine Reasons to Love Kamala Harris.”

 

As a 501(c)4 organization, the Presidential Inaugural Committee is considered a non-profit under tax law; such organizations can engage in certain political  advocacy, such as endorsing political candidates, that 501(c)3 charitable organizations cannot engage in.

 

The “America United” program of the inauguration committee cited the need for unity amid “unprecedented crisis and deep divisions,” including more than 370,000 deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic, economic hardships, and “political divisions.”

 

Vatican cardinal: Synodality is a vital tool in Catholic-Orthodox dialogue

Vatican City, Jan 19, 2021 / 01:00 pm (CNA).- Strengthening synodality is “the most important contribution” that the Catholic Church can make to ecumenical dialogue, especially dialogue with the Orthodox, a Vatican cardinal has said.

Writing in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano on Jan. 18, Cardinal Kurt Koch said: “Theological and pastoral efforts to build a synodal Church have a profound effect on ecumenism, as Pope Francis emphasizes with the basic principle of ecumenical dialogue, which consists in the exchange of gifts, thanks to which we can learn from each other.”

Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said that “the synodal tradition of Christianity includes a rich heritage that should be revitalized.” The cardinal’s essay was published at the start of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which takes place on Jan. 18-25.

He welcomed Pope Francis’ decision to hold a Synod of Bishops in 2022 on the theme of synodality.

“This synod will not only be an important event in the Catholic Church, but it will contain a significant ecumenical message, since synodality is an issue that also moves ecumenism, and moves it in depth,” he explained.

He pointed to the 2007 “Declaration of Ravenna,” in which Catholic and Orthodox theologians agreed that the bishop of Rome was the “protos,” or first among patriarchs, before the separation of East and West.

According to the Swiss cardinal, this was an immensely important step in Catholic-Orthodox dialogue.

“The fact that the two dialogue partners were able to declare together for the first time that the Church is structured synodally at all levels and therefore also at the universal level, and that she needs a protos is an important milestone in Catholic-Orthodox dialogue,” he said.

For this step to bear fruit in the future, Koch argued, it is necessary to deepen the relationship between synodality and primacy.

“It is not about reaching a compromise on the lowest common denominator. Rather, the respective strengths of the two ecclesial communities should be brought in,” he said. 

Koch pointed to a recommendation made by one Orthodox-Catholic working group that “the Churches must strive above all to achieve a better balance between synodality and primacy at all levels of ecclesial life, through the strengthening of synodal structures in the Catholic Church and through the acceptance by the Orthodox Church of a certain type of primacy within the world communion of Churches.”

The cardinal emphasized that “there must be a willingness to learn on both sides.” 

He said that the Catholic Church “must recognize that in her life and in her ecclesial structures she has not yet developed that degree of synodality which would be theologically possible and necessary” and that “a credible link between the hierarchical and the synodal-community principles would favor the advancement of ecumenical dialogue with orthodoxy.”

“The strengthening of synodality must undoubtedly be considered as the most important contribution that the Catholic Church can make to the ecumenical recognition of primacy,” he said.

On the Orthodox side, Koch said, “we can instead expect that, in ecumenical dialogue, they will come to recognize that primacy at the universal level is not only possible and theologically legitimate, but also necessary.”

The cardinal suggested that intra-Orthodox tensions showed the need for a “ministry of unity also at the universal level of the Church” not limited to “a simple honorary primacy” but with legal elements.

“We Catholics consider the primacy of the Bishop of Rome as a gift from the Lord to his Church and, therefore, also as an offering to all of Christianity on the path of rediscovering unity and life in unity,” Koch wrote.

Cathedral in Ohio vandalized with message 'Jesus is Black'

Toledo, Ohio, Jan 19, 2021 / 12:19 pm (CNA).- Police in Toledo, Ohio are investigating an arson attack on Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral involving an attempted fire and a spray-painted message on the outer walls reading “Jesus is Black.”

A man whom police identified as a suspect in the vandalism attack fatally shot a Toledo police officer Monday afternoon during a standoff at his home, police say.

Suspect Christopher Harris shot and killed 24-year-old Officer Brandon Stalker as Stalker attempted to arrest Harris, local media reported. Stalker leaves behind a fiancee and a child.

Bishop Daniel Thomas of Toledo on Tuesday afternoon issued a statement expressing “profound sorrow” at the officer’s death.

“Together with all people of good will, I am deeply grateful for the selfless generosity of the men and women in uniform who daily risk their own lives to protect and serve us all. Together, may we all commit ourselves to increased prayer and action to bring about an end to violence and all its underlying causes,” Thomas wrote.

“May Officer Brandon Stalker rest in the arms of our loving Father.”

The initial vandalism incident, which left an estimated $5,000 in damage, happened shortly before 2:30 am Jan. 18, WTOL11 reported. A neighbor said he saw a lone man outside the church, and called the police when he saw the fire.

According to WTOL11, fire crews on the scene did not find active flames, but did find evidence of a flash fire at the front entry doors which had extinguished itself. The fire damage was confined to the outer doors and trim.

The Diocese of Toledo in a Jan. 19 statement issued before media reports of the shooting thanked first responders and encouraged anyone with information about the incident to contact the Toledo Police Department.

“We are alarmed and heartsick by what occurred at the mother church of the Diocese of Toledo, a sacred building, a house of worship and an historical, architectural and spiritual treasure,” the statement read.

“As the damage to the Cathedral is assessed, there is an ongoing investigation to determine whether the acts were religious, racial or ethnic in nature and we will continue to cooperate with authorities...Together with all Catholics, Christians and people of faith we denounce any such acts of vandalism.”

Several incidents of racially-motivated graffiti left on church buildings have been reported throughout the United States since last summer, when protests erupted throughout the country in response to the May 2020 killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City on June 1, 2020 was tagged with various graffiti, including profanities, “No justice, no peace,” and “BLM” (Black Lives Matter).” The name of George Floyd, a black man killed by police in May 2020, was also written on the stairs outside the cathedral.

The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver was defaced with graffiti during a racially-charged protest the same day, with rioters spray-painting slogans such as “GOD IS DEAD” and “PEDOFILES” [sic] on the church’s exterior.

St. Peter Chaldean Catholic Cathedral in El Cajon, California on Sept. 25, 2020 was defaced with graffiti depicting “pentagrams, upside down crosses, white power, swastikas,” as well as slogans such as “Biden 2020,” and “BLM”.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral was again targeted Jan. 1 by protesters affiliated with Black Lives Matter Brooklyn and Justice for George, the New York Post reported. Police found the phrase “ACAB,” a derogatory phrase aimed at police, spray painted on the church.

 

 

 

US recognizes China’s treatment of Uyghurs as ‘genocide’

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jan 19, 2021 / 11:18 am (CNA).- The United States has declared that the Chinese government’s actions against the Uyghur population amount to genocide and crimes against humanity.

“I have determined that the People’s Republic of China is committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, China, targeting Uyghur Muslims and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a tweet posted shortly after noon on January 19.

“These acts are an affront to the Chinese people and to civilized nations everywhere,” said Pompeo, on his last full day as secretary of state. “The People's Republic of China and the CCP must be held to account.”

The Chinese government admitted in October 2018 that “re-education camps” for members of the Uyghur Muslim population had been established in Xingjiang. The camps were first spotted on satellite imagery in 2017.

The highest estimate sets the total number of inmates in the camps at 3 million, plus approximately half a million minor children in special boarding schools for “re-education” purposes. Survivors have reported indoctrination, forced abortions, beatings, forced labor, and torture in the camps.

In a statement published to the Department of State website, Pompeo further outlined his allegations against the People’s Republic of China.

“After careful examination of the available facts, I have determined that since at least March 2017, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), under the direction and control of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), has committed crimes against humanity against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other members of ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang,” said Pompeo.

He specifically cited the “arbitrary imprisonment” of more than a million Uyghurs; the continued use of forced sterilization, torture, and forced labor; and “the imposition of draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement.”

Pompeo said he believes “this genocide is ongoing, and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uyghurs by the Chinese party-state.”

“The governing authorities of the second most economically, militarily, and politically powerful country on earth have made clear that they are engaged in the forced assimilation and eventual erasure of a vulnerable ethnic and religious minority group, even as they simultaneously assert their country as a global leader and attempt to remold the international system in their image,” he said.

Pompeo, speaking on behalf of the United States, called for the People’s Republic of China to “immediately release all arbitrary detained persons” and to “abolish its system of internment, detention camps, house arrest and forced labor; cease coercive population control measures, including forced sterilizations, forced abortion, forced birth control, and the removal of children from their families; end all torture and abuse in places of detention; end the persecution of Uyghurs and other members of religious and ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang and elsewhere in China, and afford Uyghurs and other persecuted minorities the freedom to travel and emigrate.”

The secretary of state also requested that “all appropriate multilateral and relevant judicial bodies” to work alongside the United States “to promote accountability for those responsible for these atrocities.” The Department of State will continue to investigate the situation in Xinjiang, he said, and will make this evidence available to other authorities as well.

The sanctions against those who are promoting atrocities in Xinjiang will remain, said Pompeo.

“The United States has worked exhaustively to pull into the light what the Communist Party and General Secretary Xi Jinping wish to keep hidden through obfuscation, propaganda, and coercion,” said Pompeo.

“Beijing’s atrocities in Xinjiang represent an extreme affront to the Uyghurs, the people of China, and civilized people everywhere. We will not remain silent. If the Chinese Communist Party is allowed to commit genocide and crimes against humanity against its own people, imagine what it will be emboldened to do to the free world, in the not-so-distant future,” he said.

The Trump administration in recent months has cracked down on imports from China suspected to be produced with forced labor.

In August, President-elect Joe Biden’s campaign stated that the treatment of the Uyghur population in Xinjiang amounted to genocide.

“The unspeakable oppression that Uighurs and other ethnic minorities have suffered at the hands of China’s authoritarian government is genocide and Joe Biden stands against it in the strongest terms,” said campaign spokesman Andrew Bates at that time.

Report: Joe Biden set to promptly reverse pro-life policies

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jan 19, 2021 / 11:00 am (CNA).- President-elect Joe Biden is expected to promptly roll back pro-life policies the Trump administration put in place, NBC News reported on Monday. 

 

Biden, who will become the second Roman Catholic president when he is sworn in to office on Jan. 20, is believed to be seeking to repeal the Trump administration’s Protect Life Rule and the expanded Mexico City Policy.

 

The Protect Life Rule prevents organizations which perform or refer for abortions from receiving Title X family planning funds. It effectively stripped Planned Parenthood of approximately $60 million annually in federal funding. 

 

The Mexico City Policy prohibits federal funding of international non-governmental organizations which promote abortion as a method of family planning.

 

Biden is also expected to address the contraceptive mandate, and he has previously pledged to repeal the Hyde Amendment and codify Roe v. Wade into law; the Hyde Amendment prohibits the use of federal funding for elective abortions in Medicaid. 

 

Those actions, however, would depend upon Congress passing legislation.

 

Biden had previously supported the Hyde Amendment during his time in the Senate. Over the course of a 24-hour period in June 2019, however, he changed course amid pressure from pro-abortion groups and announced that he favored repealing the policy.

 

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris took credit for Biden’s abrupt about-face on the Hyde Amendment. 

 

Newly sworn-in presidents traditionally either rescind or reinstate some form of the Mexico City Policy. The first iteration of the policy was in 1984. It was rescinded in Jan., 1993 by President Bill Clinton, reinstated in Jan., 2001 by President George W. Bush, rescinded again in Jan., 2009 by President Barack Obama, and reinstated by President Donald Trump in 2017. 

 

Shortly after he reinstated the policy, the Trump administration expanded it to encompass more than $8 billion in global health assistance and not just funds earmarked for family planning programs. 

 

Alexis McGill Johnson, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States, said it was “tremendously exciting” that her organization has “champions (in the administration) who understand what needs to happen in the first 100 days.” 

 

Biden, who invited leaders in Congress to church on the morning of his inauguration, expressed dismay when the Supreme Court sided with the Little Sisters of the Poor in their court battle against the contraceptive mandate. 

 

He pledged to reinstate Obama-era policies requiring the sisters to ensure access to birth control in their employee health plans, in violation of their religious beliefs.