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There’s a generation that didn’t know John Paul II – this film is for them

April 3, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Denver, Colo., Apr 3, 2017 / 04:42 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square and around their television sets to pray for Pope John Paul II as he passed away on April 2, 2005. They remembered the more than 26 years he served as the Holy Father; the courage he had in fighting communism; his immense love; and his adventurous spirit.

But that was 12 years ago.

The generation of young people who grew up during the papacies of Benedict XVI and Pope Francis might only know St. John Paul II for his canonization, which took place April 27, 2014.

The recent documentary Liberating a Continent: John Paul II and the Fall of Communism hopes to educate this younger generation on the heroic life of the Roman Pontiff – telling the stories they cannot find in their textbooks.

“One of the reasons we set out to make this film is to kind of cement the legacy of Pope John Paul II,” David Naglieri, the film’s writer and director, told CNA.

“There’s a generation now that’s graduating college, entering the workforce, that didn’t necessarily live through all these events with the fall of Communism. Perhaps they didn’t … have the chance to see Pope John Paul II in person.”

Like a real life super-hero movie, the 90-minute film focuses on the saint’s role as an integral part in the fall of communism in central and eastern Europe – except St. John Paul II did not use destructive weapons to take down some of the world’s toughest leaders.

Rather, he used prayer and solidarity to encourage those oppressed by communism in Poland to keep their hope and will alive.

According to Naglieri, this documentary is unlike any other John Paul II film.

“What helps separate our film from past works is that we looked at the entire span of central and eastern Europe and how his message not just impacted Poland, but other countries as well,” he said.

“And then we tried to connect it to the modern day and to see how John Paul’s legacy continues to impact those who are striving for freedom in Europe.”

The film reveals the events in St. John Paul II’s life through a timeline, which helps show how God’s providence guided the saint his entire life.

The late Pope grew up in Krakow, and became its archbishop in 1964. The documentary explains how he returned to the city for nine days in 1979, the year after his election as Bishop of Rome, instead of his intended two.

An interview in the documentary with Dr. Norman Davies, a historian of Poland, explains how the government’s distribution of antennas during the 1980 Olympic games led to the spreading of St. John Paul II’s message behind the Iron Curtain.

The film even tells the story of how President Reagan and the Pope met six days before the president’s famous ‘tear down this wall’ speech in 1987.

Filled with striking stories and interviews such as these, the documentary shows who truly held the power during this difficult time in the world’s history.

Naglieri said the film was an 18-month project from beginning to end, and that “we traveled to Poland and other central European countries several times during the making of it. ”

The documentary features interviews with Reagan’s National Security Advisor from 1981-82, the Prime Minister of Poland, the Archbishop of Lviv, a former Director of the Holy See Press Office, as well as journalists, historians, authors, and professors.

Narrating the documentary is Jim Caviezel, who portrayed Christ in Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of the Christ’. Joe Kraemer, known for his work on multiple ‘Mission Impossible’ movies, composed the documentary’s original music.

 

This article was originally published on CNA June 15, 2016.

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In North Carolina, more changes for disputed bathroom law

March 31, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Raleigh, N.C., Mar 31, 2017 / 09:32 am (CNA/EWTN News).- North Carolina has modified its law on gender identity and the use of bathrooms and locker rooms, after facing pressure from LGBT activists and their allies in business, sports and entertainment.

But some say the changes take the wrong path.

“Every North Carolinian deserves to have their privacy respected in intimate settings like locker rooms and restrooms,” said Kellie Fiedorek, legal counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom, March 30.

“One of government’s essential duties is to protect the citizens it governs, not to create uncertainty about whether showers and locker rooms will still be safe for women and girls,” she said. “North Carolina’s economy is booming, so the state should not let the NCAA and others dictate the state’s policies and sell out their citizens’ interests based on flat-out lies about an economic doomsday that never happened.”

Fiedorek charged that the legislature “failed families by giving into hypocritical bullies.”

The repeal bill removes the portion of the 2016 law H.B. 2 that had said that in public buildings and schools, people must use the restrooms and locker rooms that align with the biological sex on their birth certificate, rather than their self-perceived “gender identity.”

Supporters of the 2016 law said distinctions on the basis of sex are necessary for private areas such as restrooms and shower facilities. They warned that the ordinance would allow any biological male into the women’s restrooms, which could lead to instances of assault.

The law drew protests from influential corporations and entertainment figures, while the Obama administration’s Justice Department, operating under a new interpretation of anti-discrimination law, contended that it violated civil rights protections on the basis of sex.

The National College Athletics Association had moved its 2016-2017 championship events out of the state because of the bill.

H.B. 2 was passed in response to a Charlotte City Council Ordinance that would have, among other provisions, allowed individuals to use restroom facilities based on their self-perceived “gender identity.”

The 2016 measure had been signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory, who was defeated in the 2016 elections by Democrat Roy Cooper. Gov. Cooper had promised to repeal the law.

The new governor, who is seeking anti-discrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, said the latest legislation was not his preferred solution.

The new modifications passed the House 70-48 and the Senate 32-16. It reserves to the state legislature the right to regulate bathroom access. It also bars local governments from passing any new nondiscrimination ordinances or amendments applying to private employment and public accommodation until the year 2020.

 

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Archbishop Gomez: English wasn’t America’s first language

March 30, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Washington D.C., Mar 30, 2017 / 03:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In recent months, national debates over immigration and deportation have reached a fever pitch in the wake of President Trump’s election.

But for Archbishop Jose Gomez, both Catholic principles and the history of America as a home to people from a variety of backgrounds means that the immigration debate has higher stakes than just law enforcement or national sovereignty.

“For me, and for the Catholic Church in this country, immigration is about people. It is about families,” the archbishop said in a March 23 talk at the Catholic University of America.

“We are talking about souls, not statistics.”

Born in Monterrey, Mexico, the archbishop explained that he too was an immigrant, even though he has been an American citizen for more than 20 years. He pointed out that his family has been living in what is now Texas since the early 19th Century, and his family’s relationship to both America and immigration reaches back generations.

He also explained that his archdiocese – the Archdiocese of Los Angeles – is not only the largest, with around 5 million Catholics, but the most diverse.

Within the archdiocese, Mass is celebrated and parishioners ministered to in more than 40 languages, from nearly every country in Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

“The Church is alive here – and active,” he said. “And we are really a Church of immigrants.”
 
Nearly one million of these immigrants who live within the Archdiocese of Los Angeles are undocumented.

Archbishop Gomez argued that this issue of large numbers of undocumented persons is something his adopted country desperately needs to address. This is incredibly important, he said, not only for immigrants and their families, but for America as a whole.

“Everybody right now knows that our immigration system is totally broken and needs to be fixed,” the archbishop said. However, while the United States has a right to secure its borders and enforce its laws, it also has to take responsibility for creating and benefiting from the situation that lead more than 11 million people to come to the country without documentation, he said.

“For many years our country did not enforce its immigration laws,” Archbishop Gomez said. “Why not? Because American businesses were demanding ‘cheap’ labor. So government officials looked the other way.”

The archbishop argued that “we need to recognize that we all share some of the blame for this broken immigration system.”

“Business is to blame. Government is to blame,” Archbishop Gomez said. “And you and I – we have responsibility, too. We ‘benefit’ and depend every day on an economy that is built on the backs of undocumented workers. It is just a fact. Immigrants grow our food, they serve us in our restaurants; they clean our rooms and our offices, they build our homes.”

He noted that while undocumented persons may be living here in violation of the law, “we aren’t putting business owners in jail or punishing government workers who didn’t do their job.”

“The only people we are punishing is the undocumented workers,” he charged. “They are the only ones.” While some punishment, such as community service or other requirements to stay in the United States may be appropriate, Archbishop Gomez commented, it is unfair to the families of nearly 11 million people to deport people with families – some of whom have been here for years.

“That is not fair. It is cruel, actually,” Archbishop Gomez said. “These are just ordinary moms and dads – just like your parents – who want to give their kids a better life.”

To balance love, laws, justice, and mercy, Catholics should consider principles that focus on the human person. The first principle, he said, is to recognize that “every immigrant is a human person, a child of God,” regardless of their legal status or background. The second Catholic principle to consider is that”immigration should keep families together.”

Archbishop Gomez pointed out that over a quarter of deportations break up families, and overwhelming majority of these deportations do not apply to violent criminals.

“I do not believe there is any public policy purpose that is served by taking away some little girl’s dad or some little boy’s mom. We are breaking up families and punishing kids for the mistakes of their parents. And that’s not right.”

While some common place policies could quickly resolve the issues surrounding immigration, Archbishop Gomez argued that the real conflict has more to do with ongoing questions about America – questions like what it means to be an American and what America’s mission is in the world.

The archbishop noted that almost all Americans are of immigrant heritage. “But immigration to this country has never been easy.” He pointed out that immigrant groups like the Irish have faced discrimination and hardship.

Yet, the history of America owes much to its immigrant – particularly Hispanic – roots, which long predate the arrival of English settlers, the archbishop said.

“For me – American history begins with Our Lady of Guadalupe,” Archbishop Gomez reflected. Before the founding fathers were born or before the Revolutionary War was fought, Spanish and Mexican missionaries and Philippine immigrants were settling in what is now the United States, celebrating the nation’s first Thanksgiving and establishing churches.”

“Something we should think about: the first non-indigenous language spoken in this country was not English. It was Spanish. We need to really think about what the means,” he said.

What it means, in his opinion, is that we “can no longer afford to tell a story of America that excludes the rich inheritance of Latinos and Asians.”

Conceptions of American identity that don’t incorporate the rich history of these groups, he said, are not only incomplete and inarticulate, they are not as well-set to adjust to the changing landscape of the United States. America is changing, and if America wants to be great, he argued, it needs to speak to the conscience and realities of the United States.

“That is what’s at stake in our immigration debate – the future of this beautiful American story,” Archbishop Gomez concluded. “Our national debate is really a great struggle for the American spirit and the American soul.”

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Planned Parenthood investigators reject ‘bogus’ felony charges

March 29, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

San Francisco, Calif., Mar 29, 2017 / 04:07 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The undercover journalists whose work appeared to implicate Planned Parenthood officials in the illegal sale of unborn baby body parts now face 15 felony charges in California, but one insists the allegations are phony.

David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress characterized the allegations as “bogus charges from Planned Parenthood’s political cronies.”

“The public knows the real criminals are Planned Parenthood and their business partners like StemExpress and DV Biologics – currently being prosecuted in California – who have harvested and sold aborted baby body parts for profit for years in direct violation of state and federal law,” he said March 28.

California Attorney General Xavier Beccerra has charged that Daleiden and his co-investigator Sandra Merritt filmed 14 people without their consent in Los Angeles, Pasadena, San Francisco and El Dorado. The two are also charged with conspiracy to invade privacy.

Beccerra said his office “will not tolerate the criminal recording of confidential conversations.”

“The right to privacy is a cornerstone of California’s Constitution, and a right that is foundational in a free democratic society,” he said Tuesday.

Data from the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit, nonpartisan funding watchdog, appear to show that Beccerra has received several minor donations from Planned Parenthood, totally some $6,000 in the last 20 years.

In the current case, court papers claim the undercover investigators’ surreptitious recording of officials involved in Planned Parenthood and other sections of the abortion industry were illegal. An affidavit filed in San Francisco Superior Court justified the conspiracy charges on the grounds the investigators used pseudonyms, fake California drivers’ licenses, and a front medical research company, Biomax Procurement Services, in order to secure a booth at the National Abortion Federation’s 2014 conference in San Francisco.

Daleiden compared the California charges to Texas charges that had been filed against him and dismissed in June 2016, including a charge he had used a fake California driver’s license to access a Texas Planned Parenthood building.

“They tried the same collusion with corrupt officials in Houston, Texas and failed: both the charges and the district attorney were thrown out,” he said.

The Center for Medical Progress videos gave great momentum to efforts to end state and federal taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, which receives about half a billion dollars in federal funds annually, about 40 percent of its operating budget. While this money is forbidden by law from funding abortions, critics charge that these rules may not always be followed, and that any federal funding frees up other money for abortions.

In January 2017, the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives Select Investigative Panel investigating fetal tissue procurement released its report declaring that there are abuses and possible criminal violations in the area. The procurement of fetal tissue for profit is illegal.

Although a dozen states opened investigations into the organizations involved, they did not find legally admissible evidence of wrongdoing.

Backers of Planned Parenthood have charged that the videos were deceptively edited, a charge Daleiden has strongly contested, releasing the full videos to support his claim.

Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Mary Alice Carter said that the California charges show “the only people who broke the law are those behind the fraudulent tapes.” Carter denied that Planned Parenthood has done anything wrong.

Vicki Saporta of the National Abortion Federation charged that the videos resulted in a “flood of hate speech, threats and violence” to abortion providers.

Daleiden, however, defended his work.

“We look forward to showing the entire world what is on our yet-unreleased video tapes of Planned Parenthood’s criminal baby body parts enterprise, in vindication of the First Amendment rights of all,” he said Tuesday.

On March 29, the Center for Medical Progress released its latest video, which involved Dr. DeShawn Taylor, a past medical director of Planned Parenthood who served as an abortion provider at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles.

The video appeared to show Taylor saying her facility’s treatment of babies who show “signs of life” after an abortion depended on “who’s in the room.”

The release of the investigation’s first video took place in July 2015. It and subsequent videos have drawn a massive response from Planned Parenthood and its allies. A 2015 grant listing from the Open Societies Foundation, published after a foundations’ computer system was hacked, found a planned $7-8 million campaign to respond to the videos. The Hewlett Foundation and the Democracy Alliance were named as other partners in the campaign.

 

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