December 4, 2021 Column Father De Celles

THE END OF ROE? As I write this column (Wednesday, December 1) the Supreme Court of the United States is hearing oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The case challenges a 2018 Mississippi law that prohibits nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of gestation, with exceptions for cases of a medical emergency or severe fetal abnormality.

            Folks, this is the case pro-lifers have been waiting for. As Legal Scholar Ed Whelan recently noted in the National Review (citing Notre Dame law professor Sherif Girgis):

“Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization…puts the Supreme Court to a binary choice on Mississippi’s law …: Either the Court applies the Roe/Casey regime to hold that the statute is impermissible because it bars abortion before viability, or it overrules Roe and Casey and holds that the statute is permissible. As Girgis puts it, there is “no intellectually honest way for [the Court] to uphold the Mississippi law without overruling” Roe and Casey.”

            Of course “Roe” refers to “Roe v. Wade,” the case that established a so-called constitutional right to abortion. The logic of that decision was heavily modified by the 1992 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), that established the “undue burden” standard,” which it summarized as follows:

“An undue burden exists, and therefore a provision of law is invalid, if its purpose or effect is to place a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability.”

As Whelan notes: “In other words, viability defines the end of the period in which the undue-burden standard operates.” The Mississippi law directly challenges this since 15 weeks is well before any current medically recognized line of viability of the fetus/baby.

There is an extremely good chance that the Court, with a current majority of 6 “conservative Justices,” will reject the Casey standard, thus rejecting the near absolute right to abortion. And of course, that changes everything (although the fight will surely continue at the state level). Some are concerned that some of the “conservative Justices” may cave in, especially Chief Justice John Roberts. But as a not-so-casual observer of the Court for many years, I just don’t think this will happen. I could be wrong, but I’m very optimistic of a 6-3, or at least 5-4, overturning of Roe and Casey.

But the Court most certainly won’t issue its decision until June, 2022, right before they recess for the Summer. And in the meantime the devil will be fighting to defend killing the unborn. So, we still have lots of prayers to pray, especially for the Justices and their clerks, the bright young lawyers who contribute greatly to forming and articulating the final opinion. Pray that they may resist all temptation and have the courage to do the right thing, even in the face of so much public and political pressure. And that they may have the wisdom to see the clear logic and truth that leads to overturning Roe/Casey.

Let us especially pray to St. Raymond of Peñafort and St. Thomas More, the patron saints of lawyers, that they may intercede and intervene for us.

Thanks. I’d like to thank all the folks who came to adoration on the 30th and 1st to pray for Dobbs, especially those who came in the middle of the night to pray. And also to all of you who went down to the Supreme Court building to pray and bear witness during the hearing.

FCPS Promotes Porn. Did you hear that the Fairfax County Public Schools has reinstated 2 pornographic books to high school libraries? Here is an excerpt of a Washington Examiner article by Jeremiah Poff (November 23, 2021):

Fairfax County Public Schools announced Tuesday it would reinstate two books containing pornographic images and language to the district’s high school libraries.

The two books, Genderqueer by Maia Kobabe and Lawnboy by Jonathan Evison, had been removed from circulation pending an internal review, which ultimately determined that the books would stay in public high schools.

“The decision reaffirms FCPS’ ongoing commitment to provide diverse reading materials that reflect our student population, allowing every child an opportunity to see themselves reflected in literary characters,” FCPS said in a press release. “Both reviews concluded that the books were valuable in their potential to reach marginalized youth who may struggle to find relatable literary characters that reflect their personal journeys.”

Kobabe and Evison’s book contains graphic depictions of oral sex between homosexual characters. Genderqueer also contains a graphic, ancient Greek-style image of a bearded man with a younger-looking person, which critics said depicted pedophilia.

The two books touched off a national controversy when Fairfax mother Stacy Langton read from the books during the county school board’s September meeting but was cut off before her allotted time to speak to the board had expired. The board cited the explicit nature of Langton’s comments for shutting her down.

….Langton told the Washington Examiner. “The committee finding that the materials are not obscene is patently absurd….It’s insulting…“This is essentially FCPS coming out in favor of porn in schools.”

….Nicole Neily, the president and founder of Parents Defending Education, blasted the review board’s decision…: “Schools are no place for hardcore pornography, yet Fairfax County Public Schools insists on pushing this graphic material upon our children…By announcing their decision over Thanksgiving break, they clearly hope that parents won’t take notice. However, their actions show just how unfamiliar they are with parents: We’re always looking out for our children, and we won’t take this lying down.”

Advent Holy Hour with Talk. Pleasejoin us this Thursday December 9, from 7pm to 8pm, for our Advent  Holy Hour with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. We’ll begin with Exposition, then I’ll give a short talk, followed by the Rosary, silent prayer and then Benediction. This year my topic is “Faith, Hope and Love at Christmas” and this Thursday I will talk about Hope.

Immaculate Conception. This Wednesday, December 8, is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. This year it is once again, post-Covid, a Holy Day of obligation, meaning you are required to go to Mass under pain of mortal sin (unless one of the dispensations for Sunday Masses applies to you). But why wouldn’t you want to come to Mass on this great feast day, which celebrates the conception of Mary, free from original sin, in her mother’s womb? In Advent it reminds us of Mary’s perfect preparation to receive Christ into her life. In addition to the regularly scheduled 6:30am and 8:30am daily Masses we will also offer a 7pm Vigil on Tuesday, and a noon and 7pm Mass on Wednesday.

Other Advent Events this Week. Parents don’t forget to bring the kids to Breakfast with Santa after the 9am Mass on Saturday, December 11. And don’t forget to stop by the “Giving Tree” in the narthex today, and help to make Christmas a little merrier for some folks who are having a rough time this year—families of our parish and Our Lady of the Blue Ridge parish in Madison. And don’t forget: go to confession during Advent—we have confessions every single day of Advent, except Christmas Eve.

Oremus pro invicem, Fr. De Celles