Daily Dispatches
Pope Francis delivers a blessing from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square.
Associated Press/Photo by Andrew Medichini
Pope Francis delivers a blessing from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square.

Vital Signs: Vatican takes birth control poll


Survey says? The Vatican is conducting a worldwide survey on how its parishes discuss and deal with birth control, divorce, and gay marriage. The findings will help set the agenda for a meeting of the presidents of national bishops’ conferences in October 2014.

The survey reflects the pope’s pledge to move away from what he called a “Vatican-centric” approach toward one where local church leaders are more involved in decision-making. 

A few of the questions on the survey specifically asked parishes if their married couples tend to follow the church’s teaching against the use of artificial contraception and how it counsels cohabiting unmarried couples and homosexual couples. Pope Francis has urged pastors to focus on being merciful on such divisive issues as abortion, gay marriage, and contraception while making clear his support of traditional marriage and opposition to abortion.

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He also said the church needs to do a better job preparing young people for marriage, lamenting that newlyweds seem to think marriage isn’t a lifelong commitment but just a “provisional” one.

Lawsuit ended in Kansas. Kansas’ Shawnee County state court upheld a pro-life bill Thursday, after the Center for Women’s Health in Overland Park filed a lawsuit against the law in June. The Pro-Life Protections Act bans sex-selective abortion, restricts tax funding for abortion businesses, and codifies informational material about a woman’s alternatives before her abortion.

The Center for Women’s Health is also responsible for the ongoing 2011 lawsuit against Kansas’ abortion facility licensing law, which requires centers to pass the state’s health and safety standards. The lawsuits attempting to stop pro-life legislation in Kansas have cost the state upwards of $913,000 since 2011.

Wichita pastor will face trial. Wichita, Kan., pastor Mark Holik will face trial for harassing Julie Burkhart, an abortionist who opened the city’s first abortion facility since Dr. George Tiller’s 2009 murder. A Kansas judge ruled Saturday that a trial is necessary to determine if his statements and actions are constitutionally protected.

Burkhart won a temporary protection stalking order against Holick earlier this year and is now seeking to make it permanent. Burkhart filed the case after what she describes as “wanted-style” fliers listing her home address surfaced around town. She also accuses Holick of pointing a sign at her house that read, “Where’s your church?” Burkhart’s lawyer said it’s threatening because Tiller was killed at his church.

Holick’s lawyer argued the flier simply urged people to pray for Burkhart’s repentance and salvation and is protected political and religious speech. He also said Holick did not hold the “Where’s your church?” sign and that even if he had, the sign simply references concern for Burkhart’s need for religious affiliation and is protected speech.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Alissa Robertson
Alissa Robertson


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