PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Days after a judge blocked a city permit that would have allowed the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas, to close a street for its annual Mass for Life, blocking the entrance to an abortion clinic, a diocesan spokesperson said they hope to make their case to the City Council and reschedule the event.
“That’s our hope,” Matthew Vainer, director of communications for the diocese, said of holding the Mass in front of the abortion clinic, adding that it’s important to do so because “it’s important for us as Catholics to always believe that the unborn need a voice, so we can hold up their lives.”
The diocese’s Mass for Life was scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 7. Two days earlier, the diocese was informed by the City Council that more than a third of property owners affected by the street closure had objected, which, according to a city ordinance, requires the matter to go before the City Council.
Last month, the abortion clinic, Trust Women, also filed a request for a temporary restraining order to prevent the Mass, which a judge granted on Oct. 6, until the City Council takes up the matter.
As a result of the objections and the judge’s order, Vainer told The Tablet that the diocese asked for an emergency City Council hearing, but that wasn’t accommodated. There is still no date set for the hearing, he said.
In an Oct. 6 statement, the diocese said, “It is our hope that we have the opportunity to speak in front of the City Council, as it is important to express our religious liberties by praying in public.”
In place of the Oct. 7 Mass, Bishop Carl Kemme led a rosary at the same location, which was able to take place because there wasn’t a need to close the road.
Vainer said the diocese has held the Mass for Life on that street for the past six years, except for the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, without issue. The difference this year, he said, is the addition of a new business on the street, which, with Trust Women, accounted for more than a third of property owners, so that both businesses objecting to the Mass was enough to get it at least temporarily stopped.
Trust Women, according to its website, is an organization that provides resources for abortions, gender affirming care, medication assisted treatment, and sexual health services. The other organization, the Strategic Workspace and Event Center, according to its website, offers office space to businesses.
Reached by The Tablet, the Strategic Workspace and Event Center declined to comment on why it objected to the diocese’s planned Mass for Life. The Tablet couldn’t reach Trust Women for comment.
Vainer said the diocese generally draws between 100-250 people to the Mass for Life, which is why the street has to be closed. He added there is no set timeline for rescheduling the Mass, but that they’ll figure something else out if not.
“I definitely think there are alternative options,” Vainer said.