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March for Life in Paris draws 40,000 despite heavy rain

January 22, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Paris, France, Jan 22, 2018 / 04:51 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Heavy rains did not deter huge crowds from gathering in the streets of Paris for the city’s March for Life on Sunday.

Organizers estimated that about 40,000 people showed up for the march, which had as its theme, “From darkness to light.”

Despite the heavy rain, the marchers completed the entire route. The march lasted about four hours, starting from Porte Dauphine and ending in the Trocadero esplanade, in downtown Paris.

A minute of silence was held during the march for those who have lost their lives to abortion.

More than 200,000 abortions are performed each year in France, according to government statistics.

March for Life spokesman Emil Dupont told CNA’s Spanish-language sister agency ACI Prensa that “it is important to break the silence and speak about the consequences of abortion, which no one want to say anything about. So we’ve got to do it.”

“It is very important to work together for life,” he stressed. 

Ana del Pino, the European coordinator of the OneOfUs Federation, agreed, emphasizing the need for unity and cooperation among all the European pro-life groups “to present a common front in defense of motherhood, the family and life.” 

In addition to protection for the unborn, this year the March for Life placed special emphasis on end-of-life issues.

Although active assisted suicide is illegal in France, a bill passed in January 2016 allows for “terminal sedation.” For those who are determined to be near death, the law permits “heavy and continuous sedation,” administered until the patient dies either from the illness or starvation. 

In addition to the tens of thousands of French who took to the streets to demonstrate for life, several pro-life groups from Holland, Spain, Germany, Italy and Portugal also joined in the march.

Pablo Siegrist from the Jerome Lejeune Foundation in Spain told ACI Prensa that his group participated in this demonstration in France because the laws on surrogate motherhood, abortion and euthanasia have “a clear crisscross effect between countries, and that’s why we believe we have a much more encompassing goal to offer, which is to defend everyone’s life.

“We believe that life is a treasure regardless of the physical or mental abilities a person may have and that everyone has a lot of contribute. We stand up for everyone, no matter what their situation is,” Siegrist stressed. 

Alvaro Ortega, president of the Spanish +Life Foundation, one of the numerous groups of young people attending the March for Life, said the reason they came was because “we believe it is absolutely necessary to defend the most innocent and defenseless which is the child who has been conceived but not yet born.”

Ortega also stressed the importance of an international presence in demonstrations such as this one because issues like abortion and euthanasia “come from an agenda organized on the international level, and so the response has to also be international.”


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Pro-life bill would eliminate vast majority of legal abortions in Poland

January 15, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Warsaw, Poland, Jan 15, 2018 / 12:46 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Lawmakers in Poland proposed pro-life legislation last week that would outlaw abortions performed because of a congenital disorder or deformity in the unborn child.

Members of parliament shot down a “Save Women” bill Jan. 10 that would have liberalized abortion access, allowing abortion through the first trimester of pregnancy and opening access to emergency contraception.

Instead, the country’s lawmakers promoted the “Stop Abortion” bill that would ban abortion for pregnancies in which the baby had received a congenital disorder diagnosis or deformity.

The new proposal, if passed, could eliminate the majority of abortions legally performed in Poland. According to Deutsche Welle, around 1,100 legal abortions took place in 2016. Of these abortions, 1,042 took place because the child was deformed.

“We have come to parliament today because we don’t want hospitals turning into abattoirs,” said Kaja Godek of the Life and Family Foundation, who introduced the bill to parliament, according to The Guardian.

Abortion in Poland is legal in Poland only in cases of rape or incest, if the mother’s health is threatened, or if the baby has received a fatal diagnosis or deformity.

The “Stop Abortion” bill began taking shape late in 2017; it was originally met with threats from the European Parliament, which said it would take legal action if legislators promoted the new restrictions.

However, Poland’s bishops’ conference dismissed the pressure of EU sanctions, and gave their full support for the abortion restriction bill.

“The Polish bishops’ conference underlines that the right to life is fundamental to every human being, so we should all protect this right for defenseless children,” said Fr. Pawel Rytel-Andrianik, a spokesman for the bishops’ conference, according to the Catholic Herald.

“Nobody can take this right away, nor can external or internal pressure change the scientifically proven fact that human life begins at the moment of conception,” he continued.

A crowd of approximately 2,000 met on the steps of the Polish parliament in Warsaw on Saturday to protest the abortion restriction bill. Many of the protestors held signs saying, “My mind, my body, my choice,” and “Women will die without abortions.”

“The women whose rights and freedoms are being violated today have been left to face this problem alone,” stated Anna Karaszewska of the Let’s Save Women 2017 group, according to Deutsche Welle.

The Law and Justice party (PiS), which has been in power since 2015, has introduced multiple pro-life bills over the past few years. The PiS has also effectively cut off public funding for in-vitro fertilization and required a prescription for the morning-after pill.

PiS party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski supported the “Stop Abortion” bill, saying that all babies – deformed or not – have the right to life.

“We will strive to ensure that even in pregnancies which are very difficult, when a child is sure to die, strongly deformed, women end up giving birth so that the child can be baptized, buried, and have a name,” Kaczynski said, according to The Guardian.

The BBC reported in 2016 that it is estimated there may be 10,000 abortions performed illegally in Poland every year.

A 2016 bill to ban all abortions in Poland was defeated.


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Pope Francis makes surprise visit to sick children

January 5, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Rome, Italy, Jan 5, 2018 / 10:22 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In yet another “Mercy Friday” outing, Pope Francis this afternoon traveled to the outskirts of Rome to visit sick children receiving care at a campus of the Vatican’s Bambino Gesu hospital, offering comfort to patients and their parents.

According to a Jan. 5 Vatican communique, the Pope made the visit around 3 p.m., heading to the Palidoro campus of Bambino Gesu children’s hospital, which sits about 20 miles west of Rome.

Francis made his way through different wings of the hospital, greeting the children who are receiving care and their parents, who are helping their children through “these tiresome and painful trials.”

Bambino Gesù, colloquially known as the “Pope’s hospital,” is among most important pediatric hospitals in the world. Founded in 1869 by the Duchess Arabella Salviati, the hospital was donated to Pius XI in 1924, with the aim of giving it a more stable future.

The Palidoro campus was established in 1978 under Bl. Paul VI, who entrusted Bambino Gesu with the activities of the “Pontificia Opera di Assistenza” clinic in Palidoro, which specialized in care for polio patients and until that year had been separate from the hospital.

The campus is also currently home to a special exhibit titled “Caro Papa, ti regalo un disegno,” meaning, “Dear Pope, I’ll give you a drawing.”

Promoted by both Bambino Gesu and the Jesuit newspaper “La Civilta’ Cattolica,” the exhibit consists of a series of drawings given to the Pope by children throughout the world either through the mail, or in person during audiences or trips abroad.

The drawings were given to La Civilta’ Cattolica, which partnered with Bambino Gesu to launch a campaign using the images as a means of supporting and welcoming the children who come to hospital from all over the world.

Promoted largely through social media outlets such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, the campaign promises each person who makes a donation, no matter how much, a digital copy of the drawings given to Pope Francis by the children, and which has been certified by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

Parolin inaugurated the exhibit featuring the original drawings at the Palidoro campus, which is managing campaign and fundraising efforts.

Pope Francis’ visit to the hospital is a continuation of his “Mercy Friday” custom which he began during the Jubilee of Mercy, in 2016.

Originally planned once per month for the duration of the jubilee, the Pope has continued these visits as a means of practicing the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. He has met with refugees, children, women freed from sex trafficking, and the terminally ill, among others.


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Only a well-formed conscience can decide: Cardinal Marx on sexual morality

December 28, 2017 CNA Daily News 11

Munich, Germany, Dec 28, 2017 / 02:39 pm (CNA).- German Cardinal Reinhard Marx has stated that decisions about sexual morality must be discerned according to a well-formed conscience, respecting “the interplay of freedom and responsibility.”

The chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference said in a new interview that a person “has to be guided into the full reality of the faith and heed the voice of the Church. It is not sufficient to say that one knows by oneself whether something is good for you, or not. That would not constitute a conscientious decision-making process in the context of the Gospel.”

Speaking to the German magazine “Herder Korrespondenz,” Cardinal Marx affirmed that this also applies to homosexuality.

A “truly comprehensive assessment of the severity of guilt” is not possible “without looking at the individual’s conscience, without looking at his reality, at the concrete circumstances.”

Cardinal Marx warned against interpreting this “interplay of freedom and responsibility” as “relativism,” saying that while “there must be respect for the decision that one freely takes,” it is always within the context of the Gospel.

“It would be quite terrible to consider this as relativism, like some indeed have repeatedly claimed, as though everyone could just go about doing whatever they please.”

Asked whether he sees a risk of a new schism in the Church, given the current debates and controversies in Catholicism, Cardinal Marx answered: “I don’t see this being the case. I’d rather say not to be afraid, the Lord guides the Church.” In fact, the Archbishop of Munich and Freising continued, “productive debates” are “particularly important in our time.”

With regard to the question of “synodality,” something Pope Francis has repeatedly underscored as an important part of his papal agenda, Cardinal Marx said that he considered synodality an expression and consequence of the responsibilities and autonomy of the local churches, for example in liturgical translations.

“We can’t just publish texts in Rome that are then simply translated around the world. Even under John Paul II there were synods for each continent in order to focus more on specific regions. We should continue on that path.”

On the question of ordaining women to the priesthood, which the German interviewers also raised, the Cardinal gave a short, definitive answer: “That really is not for discussion. The pope has spoken decisively on the matter.”



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Irish forest secretly grows into Celtic cross

December 21, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Dublin, Ireland, Dec 21, 2017 / 07:01 pm (CNA).- The Celtic cross has been recognized as an emblem of Irish Christianity for centuries.

Today, the symbol is visible from thousands of feet in the air, greeting passengers who fly into the City of Derry … […]

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What to do if you’re too ashamed to go to Confession

December 21, 2017 CNA Daily News 4

Madrid, Spain, Dec 21, 2017 / 12:16 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- While Reconciliation is intended to allow Christ’s victory to overcome sin in our lives, what happens when shame over one’s sins is so great that it keeps people away from the sacrament?

The famous Spanish theologian Father José Antonio Fortea discussed this phenomenon, and practical solutions to it, in a blog post.

Normally, a sense of Christ’s mercy should be enough to help people overcome their shame and go to Confession, in order to receive forgiveness and healing.

However, in some cases, Fr. Fortea acknowledged, people are overwhelmed by their sins, and this shame becomes “a wall” keeping them away from Reconciliation.

“They would rather make a 100-mile pilgrimage than have to confess face-to-face certain things they did that are terribly and frightfully humiliating to them,” he said, reflecting on the torment that faces some penitents who struggle approaching the sacrament.

The Spanish priest first pointed out the importance of priests offering fatherly compassion on those who have “these burdens on their consciences.”

He also noted the importance of ensuring truly anonymous confessions. In each city, he said, “there ought to be at least one confessional where instead of a grill, there is a metal sheet with small holes, making it totally impossible to see the person making their confession.”

The person confessing should not be visible to the priest as they approach or leave, he continued. If there is a window on the priest’s door, it should not be transparent.

“With these measures, the vast majority of the faithful can resolve the problem of shame,” Fr. Fortea said.

But for those “truly very rare” cases where shame is still a major obstacle, even with anonymous confessionals, additional steps can be taken.

In these instances of extreme shame, the person can “make an anonymous phone call to a priest in the city and tell him about this problem.” Confession itself cannot take place over the phone, but “in many cases, the phone conversation will be enough so the penitent can get up his confidence and can approach the kind of above-mentioned confessional.”

If the penitent still finds that the shame of mentioning his sins is too great to bear, he can arrange for a written confession with the priest.

Fr. Fortea said that in several of the confessionals in his city of Alcalá de Henares, Spain, “it’s possible for the penitent to move the screen slightly, just a fraction of an inch, and slip in a piece of paper.”

He offered guidelines for such written confessions: they should generally not be longer than one page, sins should be written “in a clear and concise manner,” or if possible, should be typed for clarity in reading.

“The priest will give his counsel, the penance and absolution without needing to bring up any questions for the penitent. In this case asking questions would be counterproductive,” he reflected.

While the general rule is that confession should be vocal, it can be done through writing in some cases, the priest said. He noted that those who are deaf or mute have always been permitted to make written confessions.

And in the case of insurmountable shame, this would also be licit, he said. “A psychological inability can be just as real as a physical one.”

This article was originally published on CNA Aug. 18, 2016.