NEW YORK – The U.S. Bishops’ Conference has invited Catholics to fast and pray the Rosary on Friday, May 13, in response to national tensions over a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, and put abortion law solely in the hands of the states.
The draft opinion was leaked on May 2. The days since have been rife with protests including demonstrations outside of the homes of specific Supreme Court justices, attacks against the headquarters of two pro-life organizations, and disruptions of church services.
The invitation to fast and pray was made specifically by USCCB president Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, and USCCB pro-life chair Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore. May 13 is the Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima.
The archbishops asked Catholics to pray for the U.S. and each branch of the government, that Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey be overturned, for “the conversion of the hearts and minds of those who advocate for abortion,” for a culture of life in the U.S., and for the intercession and guidance of the Blessed Virgin Mary “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.”
The Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe decision legalized abortion nationwide. The Casey decision affirmed Roe in 1992. As tensions rise over the possibility both decisions are overturned, the archbishops also called on Catholics to remain civil in their advocacy.
“As Catholics, let us give 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,” Gomez and Lori said in a statement. “Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.”
Wisconsin Family Action and Oregon Right to Life were the targets of May 8 attacks that each involved Molotov cocktails. No one from either organization was in their respective buildings at the time, and there were no injuries. Police in the cities of both organizations have said investigations are ongoing, and no arrests have been made as of May 10.
At the Wisconsin Family Action headquarters there was a fire that the Madison Police Department has classified as arson. At the scene there was also a Molotov cocktail thrown through a window that failed to ignite, and a graffiti message on the exterior that read “If abortions aren’t safe then you aren’t either.”
On May 10, the Madison Police Department acknowledged in a statement that it was aware of a group claiming responsibility for the arson, and is working with its federal partners to “determine the veracity of that claim.”
The unverified group is supposedly called “Jane’s Revenge.” The group’s statement claiming responsibility for the attack circulated on social media, and was first posted by reporter Robert Evans. It threatens further violence against pro-life organizations unless pro-life advocacy stops.
“Wisconsin is the first flashpoint, but we are all over the US, and we will issue no further warnings,” the unverified statement from the group reads. “And we will not stop, we will not back down, nor will we hesitate to strike until the unalienable right to manage our own health is returned to us. We are not a group but many. We are in your city.”
At the Oregon Right to Life office, the Keizer Police Department said an attempted break-in failed, so the unknown suspect or suspects ignited two Molotov cocktails and threw them towards the building. The attempt resulted in only a small fire with minimal damage.
On Monday, May 9, protesters also gathered outside of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s home to protest the draft opinion, which he authored. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh also saw demonstrators at their homes over the weekend.
Many Catholic parishes over the weekend brought in extra security guards or local police departments after reports that pro-abortion demonstrators would make their way to churches. That largely didn’t happen, although there were some incidents.
Pro-abortion protesters interrupted Masses at both the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, and at St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco. Demonstrators also got into confrontations with security guards and police outside of St. James Cathedral in Seattle, and a parish in Fort Collins, Colorado, was defaced with spray paint reading “My Body My Choice.”
In a May 4 statement on the Supreme Court leak, Lori asked Catholics to react with prayer and fasting until the Supreme Court makes its formal decision, which is expected this summer.
“We hope and pray for a change in our laws and stand ready to help all pregnant women in need in each of our communities,” Lori said.
Follow John Lavenburg on Twitter: @johnlavenburg