Mexico City, Mexico, Feb 8, 2017 / 10:44 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Catholic weekly of the Archdiocese of Mexico City criticized the city’s new constitution, saying that “it does not recognize what is most valuable for any human being, even f… […]
Glasgow, Scotland, Feb 8, 2017 / 05:53 am (CNA).- A Glasgow priest says he firmly believes he survived a recent near-fatal health scare thanks to the miraculous intercession of Venerable Margaret Sinclair, the poor Edinburgh girl turned nun who died in 1925.
“For 32 years of priesthood, I’ve been preaching the resurrection of Christ and this is a sign for me that I am doing something which is true and not wasted,” said Monsignor Peter Smith, parish priest of St Paul’s in Whiteinch, during an exclusive interview with this month’s edition of Flourish, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Glasgow.
“I don’t want to be the center of attention, but if I’ve been granted this favor then I have to let it be known and allow the Church to judge it.”
Since being diagnosed with cancer last May, 58-year-old Monsignor Smith has been urging friends and family to pray to Venerable Margaret to aid him. His request was enthusiastically supported by his neighboring Glasgow priest, Father Joe McAuley, who is in charge of promoting Venerable Margaret’s cause for beatification.
Two months ago, though, Monsignor Smith’s health took a turn for the worse when medics discovered a blood clot on his lung and a deadly infection attacking body tissue from his hips to shoulders. Doctors decided not to operate as it would kill him. They suspected the Glasgow priest wouldn’t survive 48 hours.
Incredibly, he did, with his surgeon assuring him that there is “no medical explanation” for the remarkable recovery. Monsignor Smith, however, believes that it was the work of Venerable Margaret – something he now wants to tell the world about.
“When you ask someone for a favor and they grant it, it is only right to say thank you,” he said.
“We don’t expect miracles – and I’m not sure I expected one either – after all, my cancer hasn’t gone away – but I’ve been around long enough in ministry not to be surprised. I’ve seen it happen.”
“If this helps people, in the light of faith, grow closer to the Gospel, then I am doing my job. In illness I am able to live my priesthood and help other people.”
Venerable Margaret Sinclair was born in the Edinburgh’s Cowgate in 1900, one of six children who grew up in poverty in a two-room basement. Her father was a dustman and she left school at 14, whereupon she worked as a French polisher and became a trade union activist.
In 1923 she entered a Convent of the Order of Poor Clares in London, becoming Sister Mary Francis of the Five Wounds, where she helped the poor before dying of tuberculosis in 1925. She now lies in rest in her home parish of St Patrick’s in the Cowgate.
“Margaret Sinclair is a wonderful example of an ordinary Scottish woman, close to our time, who lived the Gospel in the everyday, in a poor family home in Edinburgh, at school, in St Patrick’s parish, the word of industry and into the convent,” said Monsignor Smith.
In 1978 Pope Paul VI declared Margaret Sinclair to be “Venerable”. If the Catholic Church now authenticates Monsignor Smith’s cure to be truly miraculous it could pave the way for Margaret to become “blessed,” just one step away from sainthood which would, normally, require a further miracle.
“Firstly, I am delighted to learn of Monsignor Smith’s dramatically improved health and assure him of my continued prayers in his ongoing battle with cancer,” said Archbishop Leo Cushley, “potentially, though, this could be a major landmark in the bid to beatify Margaret Sinclair, a great contemporary witness to the desirability and possibility of daily holiness.”
Read more at www.flourishnewspaper.co.uk
For more information on Venerable Margaret, go to:www.margaretsinclair.scot
Vatican City, Feb 8, 2017 / 05:16 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Wednesday Pope Francis made an urgent appeal for prayer on behalf for all suffering due to slavery and exploitation, pointing specifically to the minority Rohingya population of Myanmar, who have undergone violent persecution for years.
“I would like pray with you today in a special way for our brother and sister Rohingya. They were driven out of Myanmar, they go from one place to another and no one wants them,” the Pope said Feb. 8.
“They are good people, peaceful people, they aren’t Christians, but they are good. They are our brothers and sisters. And they have suffered for years,” he said, noting that often times members of the ethnic minority have been “tortured and killed” simply for carrying forward their traditions and Muslim faith.
He spoke to pilgrims gathered for his general audience in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, leading them in praying an “Our Father” for the Rohingya people, and asking St. Josephine Bakhita, herself a former salve, to intercede.
Rohingya people are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group largely from the Rakhine state of Burma, in west Myanmar. Since clashes began in 2012 between the state’s Buddhist community and the long-oppressed Rohingya Muslim minority, some 125,000 Rohingya have been displaced, while more than 100,000 have fled Myanmar by sea.
In order to escape forced segregation from the rest of the population inside rural ghettos, many of the Rohingya – who are not recognized by the government as a legitimate ethnic group or as citizens of Myanmar – have made the perilous journey at sea in hopes of evading persecution.
In 2015 a number of Rohingya people – estimated to be in the thousands – were stranded at sea in boats with dwindling supplies while Southeastern nations such as Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia refuse to take them in.
However, in recent months tens of thousands have fled to Bangladesh amid a military crackdown on insurgents in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state. The horrifying stories recounted by the Rohingya include harrowing tales of rapes, killings and the burning of their houses.
According to BBC News, despite claims of a genocide, a special government-appointed committee in Myanmar formed in January has investigated the situation, but found no evidence to support the allegations.
In Bangladesh, however, the Rohingya have had little relief, since they are not recognized as refugees in the country. Since October, many who fled to Bangladesh have been detained and forced to return to the neighboring Rakhine state.
In his audience appeal, Pope Francis also pointed out that Feb. 8 marks both the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, as well as the third International day of prayer and reflection against human trafficking. This year the day focuses on the plight of children, with the theme: “We are children! Not slaves!”
Kidnapped and sold into slavery at the age of 7, St. Josephine is the event’s patron. After being bought and sold several times during her adolescence, often undergoing immense suffering, she eventually discovered the faith in her early 20s. She was then baptized, and after being freed entered the Canossian Sisters in Italy.
Pope Francis noted that like modern trafficking victims, St. Josephine was “enslaved in Africa, exploited, humiliated,” but she never lost hope.
“She carried hope forward, and ended up as a migrant in Europe,” he said, noting that it was there that she felt God’s call and became a religious sister.
“Let us pray to St. Josephine Bakhita for all, for all migrants, refugees and exploited, who suffer so much,” he said, and led pilgrims in a round of applause in honor of the Saint.
In his audience speech, Francis continued his ongoing catechesis on the virtue of hope, focusing particularly on its communitarian and ecclesial dimension.
He noted how in St. Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians, the apostle’s gaze was “widened” to all the different realities that formed part of the Christian community at the time. In seeing them, Paul asked them “to pray for one another and to support one another.”
This doesn’t just mean helping people in the practical things of everyday life, he said, but also means “helping each other in hope, sustaining each other in hope.”
“It’s not a coincidence that he begins by referencing those who have been entrusted with pastoral responsibility and guidance,” because they are “the first to be called to nourish hope,” the Pope said, noting that this isn’t because they better than others, but because of the divine ministry entrusted to them which “goes well beyond their own strength.”
Francis then pointed to those risk losing hope and falling into desperation, noting that the news always seems to be full of the bad things people do when they become desperate.
“Desperation leads to many bad things,” he said, explaining that when it comes to those who are discouraged, weak and feel downcast due to life’s heaviness, the Church in these cases must make her “closeness and warmth” even closer and more loving, showing even greater compassion.
Compassion, he cautioned, doesn’t mean “to have pity” on someone, but rather to “to suffer with the other, to draw near to the one who suffers. A word, a caress, but which comes from the heart. This is compassion.”
This witness, the Pope said, doesn’t stay closed in the confines of the Christian community, but rather “resounds in all its vigor” even to social and civil context outside as an appeal “not to create walls, but bridges, to not exchange evil with evil, (but) to overcome evil with good, offense with forgiveness.”
A Christian, Francis said, can never tell someone “’you will pay!’ Never. This is not a Christian act.”
Instead, offenses must be overcome with forgiveness so as to live in peace with everyone, he said, adding that “this is the Church! And this is operates Christian hope, when it takes the strong features but at the same time the tenderness of love.”
In learning to have this kind of hope, “it’s not possible” to do it alone, he said, adding that in ourder to be nourished, hope “needs a body in when the various members sustain and revitalize each other.
“This means that, if we hope, it’s because many of our brothers and sisters have taught us to hope and have kept our hope alive,” he said, noting that among these people are “the small, the poor, the simple and the marginalized.”
This is the case, he said, because “those who close in their own wellbeing, in their own contentment, who always feel in place, don’t know hope.
Tokyo, Japan, Feb 8, 2017 / 03:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A 17th century Catholic Samurai and martyr was beatified during a Mass in Osaka, Japan on Tuesday.
Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presided over the Beatification Mass of Justo Takayama Ukon, who was declared a martyr by Pope Francis in January last year.
Takayama Ukon was born in 1552 in Japan during the time when Jesuit missionaries were being introduced within the country. By the time Takayama was 12, his father had converted to Catholicism and had his son baptized as “Justo” by the Jesuit Fr. Gaspare di Lella.
Takayama’s position in Japanese society as daimyo (a feudal lord) allowed him many benefits, such as owning grand estates and raising vast armies. As a Catholic, Takayama used his power to support and protect the short-lived missionary expansion within Japan, influencing the conversion of thousands of Japanese.
When a time of persecution set in within the country under the reign of Japan’s chancellor Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1587, many newly-converted Catholics abandoned their beliefs.
By the 1620s, most missionaries were either driven out of the country or into underground ministry. These missionary priests would have been of the same era as those featured in the recent movie “Silence” by director Martin Scorsese. Although the film is based on a fictional novel by the Japanese author Shusaku Endo, many of the events and people depicted in “Silence” are real.
Instead of denying their faith, Takayama and his father left their prestigious position in society and chose a life of poverty and exile. Although many of his friends tried to persuade Takayama to deny Catholicism, he remained strong in his beliefs.
Takayama “did not want to fight against other Christians, and this led him to live a poor life, because when a samurai does not obey his ‘chief,’ he loses everything he has,” Fr. Anton Witwer, a general postulator of the Society of Jesus, told CNA in 2014.
Ten years passed, and the chancellor became more fierce in his persecution against Christians. He eventually crucified 26 Catholics, and by 1614, Christianity in Japan was completely banned.
The new boycott on Christianity forced Takayama to leave Japan in exile with 300 other Catholics. They fled to the Philippines, but not long after his arrival, Takayama died on February 3, 1615.
In 2013, the Japanese bishops’ conference submitted the lengthy 400-page application for the beatification of Takayama to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. On Jan. 22, 2016, Takayama’s advancement in the cause for canonization was further promulgated when Pope Francis approved his decree of martyrdom.
“Since Takayama died in exile because of the weaknesses caused by the maltreatments he suffered in his homeland, the process for beatification is that of a martyr,” Fr. Witwer explained.
Takayama’s life exemplifies the Christian example of “a great fidelity to the Christian vocation, persevering despite all difficulties,” Fr. Witwer continued.
“As a Christian, as a leader, as a cultural person, as a pioneer of adaptation, Ukon is a role model and there are many things we can learn from him,” Father Renzo De Luca, and Argentinian Jesuit and the director of the 26 Martyrs Museum in Nagasaki, told Vatican Radio.
“In this era of political distrust, I think he will be helpful for people other than Christians.”
Rome, Italy, Feb 8, 2017 / 12:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- As human trafficking continues to be a supremely important issue during Pope Francis’ pontificate, with an estimated 20 million victims worldwide, St. Josephine Bakhita, enslaved during her own childhood, has emerged as a patron not only for her home country of Sudan, but for all victims of trafficking.
St. Josephine was kidnapped and sold into slavery at the age of 7, undergoing immense suffering throughout her adolescence before discovering the faith in her early 20s. She was baptized, and after being freed entered the Canossian Sisters in Italy.
Feb. 8, St. Josephine’s feast day, marks the third international day of prayer and reflection against human trafficking. This year the day focuses on the plight of children, with the theme: “We are children! Not slaves!”
The first year, celebrated in more than 154 countries, was strongly supported by Pope Francis.
If Pope Francis visits the African countries of South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in November, as he is rumored to do, the focus of the trip will likely be on the issue of human trafficking, a growing problem the Pope has highlighted over the last four years.
South Sudan and the D.R. Congo have high levels of trafficking, both as a source and destination, due largely to the two countries’ ongoing conflicts and high numbers of internal displacement, creating a prime environment for traffickers to take advantage.
Both countries have received less-than-stellar reviews from the U.S. government based on the seriousness of their trafficking problems and their governments’ efforts to curb the practice.
The U.S. government, in cooperation with embassies around the globe, foreign governments, and non-governmental organizations, researches the practice of trafficking worldwide and ranks countries in a tier system.
Tier 1 countries meet the “minimum standards” of fighting trafficking, set forth in a 2000 law, which include prohibition of and sufficient punishment for trafficking. Tier 3 countries, the lowest tier, not only fail to meet the U.S. government’s trafficking standards but are also considered to not be doing enough to prevent trafficking.
According to the U.S. State Department’s latest annual report, released June 30, South Sudan is considered a “Tier 3” country, while the D.R. Congo is considered to be on “Tier 2” or the “Watch List.”
Regardless, if the Pope visits, he will likely reference in some way the example of St. Josephine Bakhita, who is highly regarded in South Sudan.
Born in 1869 in a small village in the Darfur region of Sudan, Bakhita was kidnapped by slave traders at the age of 7. So terrified she could not even remember her own name, her kidnappers gave her the name “Bakhita,” which means “fortunate” in Arabic.
This was the last time she saw her natural family, being sold and resold into slavery five different times.
She was tortured by her various owners who branded her, beat and cut her, suffering especially during her adolescent years. Despite not knowing Christ or the redemptive nature of suffering, she bore her pain valiantly.
Bakhita recorded having a certain awe for the world and its creator: “Seeing the sun, the moon and the stars, I said to myself: ‘Who could be the Master of these beautiful things?’ And I felt a great desire to see Him, to know Him and to pay Him homage,” she wrote.
Eventually she was purchased by the Italian consul Calisto Legnani, who later gave her to a friend of the family, Augusto Michieli, who brought her to Italy as a nanny to his daughter. In the Italian families was the first time she was not mistreated.
While she was with the Michieli family she discovered the Crucified Christ through the gift of a small silver crucifix, given to her by the family’s estate manager. Looking at it, she felt something she could not explain, she would later say.
This was her first introduction to Jesus, whom she called “The Good Master.” In 1888, when she was almost 20 years old, she and the Michieli daughter were sent to be guests at the Institute of the Catechumens run by the Canossian Sisters in Venice. There she began her journey of faith.
Soon after she was baptized, taking the name Josephine Margaret. Desiring to dedicate her life to God, she won a legal battle to remain in Italy (though her master wanted her to return to Africa with him) and entered the Canossians in 1896.
She dedicated the rest of her life to assisting her community and teaching others to love God, and she died on Feb. 8, 1947.
St. Josephine was beatified in 1992 and canonized in 2000 by St. John Paul II. She is the first person to be canonized from Sudan and is the patron saint of the country.
Rome, Italy, Feb 7, 2017 / 06:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Colombia is the only country in the Americas where child soldiers can still be found.
Despite the recent signing of a peace agreement between the Colombian government and FARC rebels, it’s estimated that some 6,000 minors are still fighting for the guerrillas, though the numbers aren’t exact.
However, what is known for certain is that thousands of youth in the country hit 18 after spending years of their childhood in armed combat.
While the phenomenon is typically associated with Africa, it’s a surprisingly raw reality for Colombia, since poverty and domestic violence often leave many youth desperate, making the desire to leave home and join criminal gangs or, in this case, guerrilla forces, seem like an exciting alternative.
This was the case for Catalina and Manuel – two youth from difficult backgrounds who left home and joined forces with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), fighting in their ranks for several years until traumatic events eventually drove them to leave.
In a documentary on Salesian efforts to help troubled youth in Colombia, Catalina shared her heart-wrenching story, recounting how ever since she was little “I had issues with my stepfather. He got drunk and beat me, he always gave me bruises.”
“He hit me with hot sticks, straight from the fire. I had problems with him because he tried to abuse me,” she said. While she was able to resist her stepfather’s advances, when she attempted to tell her mother what happened, “my mother never believed me.”
Catalina described how when her stepfather would hit her mother, she would defend her, but sometimes her mother hit her as well.
“It was too much,” she said, explaining that “I grew to hate my mother.” She eventually started smoking, partying and using “basuco” – a paste used as a base for cocaine – before attempting suicide.
However, one day when she while she was out she heard a sound like “metal against metal.” When she saw that it came from FARC guerrilla fighters, she immediately left to join them at age 13.
While at first being with the guerrillas seemed “like a dream,” Catalina, who was handed a gun that was bigger than she was after just eight days in the guerrilla camp, soon found herself asking “what have I got myself into now?”
Describing the most traumatic moment during her time with the guerrillas, Catalina explained that she and her boyfriend at the time were among 44 people, including many children, who arrived at another camp.
When night came, she and her boyfriend were alone when around eight helicopters attacked their battalion.
Soon “something collapsed on me and I fell in a deep sleep. I felt sleepy and in a stupor,” she said.
While her head was still spinning, her boyfriend told her to run because the Colombian army was nearby, so “I ran as fast as I could.”
Catalina recalled how her boyfriend covered for her as she ran, but was shot and killed during the attack. “It’s tough when you share a lot with someone and they kill him,” she said, noting that she still wears a necklace he had given to her.
After experiencing the traumatic death of her boyfriend and many other friends, coupled with a sharp distaste for the disparity of how different members of the guerrillas were treated based on their status, at 16 Catalina eventually summoned the courage to run away, despite knowing the guerrillas would kill her if they ever found her.
Similarly, Manuel recounted in the documentary how he ran away from home with his brother when he was just eight-years-old due to poverty.
“We didn’t have much at home, so my brother and I decided to hit the streets together,” he said, adding that they eventually joined FARC forces simply out of curiosity.
“In the wilderness, your life starts to be a weapon,” he said, explaining that daily concerns quickly shift from simple things to something “as significant as taking a life of another. In the end, it was normal to kill someone.”
Manuel then recalled the moment his brother was killed for disobedience. Being the type of person who did what he wanted whenever he wanted to, Manuel’s brother began to break the rules in the camps they lived in.
“He didn’t change, he kept doing it and they decided to kill him,” Manuel said, explaining that he was able to say goodbye, but felt lost once his brother had been executed.
Since his brother was like “a mom and dad” to him, Manuel felt that after his brother’s death there was nothing left for him in the guerrillas, so he left, eventually ending up at the Salesian-run Don Bosco City in Medellin, where Catalina had also ended up.
The two youth, who used fake names for the sake of protection, are now both 19, and have been able start a process of healing and reintegration into society with the help of the Salesians at the center.
The Don Bosco City in Medellin focuses specifically on helping youth, and has so far helped 1,300 youth from lives of brutality, violence and emotional turmoil. A similar center in Cali has in its 15 operating years save some 2,300 youth from the same fate.
Services offered in the “city” include rehabilitation projects and psychological support, since many of the youth that come through have lived through traumatic and violent events.
Many of the girls who come have been abused, while some of the youth have even forced to choose between family members, kneeling on the floor at gunpoint and pointing out who lived and who died.
Since many of the girls have lived in brutal conditions, learning to be tough and to fight, part of the services provided at the center include teaching the girls what it means to be a woman through activities aimed at expressing their femininity.
A final phase of the program provides education and workforce development, since many of the youth dropped out of school at a young age and have an incomplete education when they arrive.
Both Catalina and Manuel have gone through the final “reinsertion” phase of the center, and are pursuing careers. While Manuel is learning technical engineering, Catalina is hoping to study at university to fulfill her lifelong dream of being a nurse.
The director of the center, Salesian priest Fr. Rafael Bejarano, was present at a Feb. 2 news conference on the documentary, alongside James Areiza, coordinator of the projects of protection and prevention at the Don Bosco city.
Bejarano told journalists that what the Church is doing, “without belonging to any political party, is to support the work the national government, together with the FARC, are doing: building together.”
“It’s not about demanding the guerrillas demobilize and give in their weapons, but about moving forward together,” he said, noting that this type of cooperation is the only way for Colombians to build lasting peace after the country’s 52 year conflict.
Since 1964, as many as 260,000 people have been killed and millions displaced in Colombia’s civil war.
According to Human Rights Watch, with more than 6.8 million people forcibly displaced due to the conflict, Colombia has the world’s second largest population of internally displaced people, with Syria in first place.
In August 2016 a peace accord between the Colombian government and the country’s largest rebel group, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), was finally reached following four years of negotiations in Cuba.
However, the agreement was narrowly rejected in a referendum Oct. 2, with many claiming that it was too lenient on FARC, particularly when it came to kidnapping and drug trafficking.
A revised agreement was signed Nov. 24, and sent to Colombia’s Congress for approval, rather than being submitted to a popular vote. The reformed accord was approved Nov. 30, with revised features including the demand that FARC hand over assets to be used for reparations, a 10 year time limit for the transitional justice system, and FARC rebels’ providing information about their drug trafficking.
Since the agreement took effect abuses attributed to FARC forces have fallen sharply, according to Human Rights Watch. However, the country’s second largest guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), continues to commit serious abuses against civilians such as kidnapping, murder, forced displacement and child recruitment.
In his comments to journalists, Fr. Bejarano said that despite the unrest, the real Colombia “isn’t known in the world.”
Describing the country as “beautiful, multi-cultural, with an enormous natural wealth,” he said Colombians want peace, but the ability to dialogue and to build a proper “political culture” are still a work in progress. This, he said, is why the popular vote was against the referendum.
Catalina, who was present with Manuel at the new conference, said that for her the days leading up to the referendum were “moments of joy,” since in her mind and in the minds of many others with her background it meant that “no more children will be there (with the guerrillas), it’s going to be different, we will be able to return to our homes.”
Both she and Manuel live in separate camps away from their families, but are able to communicate via cell phones and, in Catalina’s case, rare visits.
Although she was sad when the popular vote rejected the referendum, Catalina said she feels a lot of “interior peace,” which is the first thing people must work for. If true peace is to be achieved, people have to “think about the other, not only ourselves,” she said.
Both she and Manuel are hopeful about the situation, saying it comes down to making a daily commitment to work for peace.
As far as reintegration, Catalina noted that “everyone makes mistakes,” and that for certain people, there will always be a hole in their lives that can’t be patched up.
“There are many people who hold a grudge for what happened, for the massacres they lived and don’t forgive,” she said, but added that for the youth who have come through the Don Bosco City, “we have an opportunity.”
“There are many who don’t want it, but we must give the opportunity despite all these (things),” and must make the most of what they themselves have received.
Santiago, Chile, Feb 7, 2017 / 01:58 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- On Sundays, Felipe Pereira is full of enthusiasm. That’s because on Sundays, the 21-year-old goes to Paradise Beach to enjoy the sea along with his friends and to learn how to surf.
For children and young adults with mental disabilities, this is more than a sport. It is the Waves of Hope free surfing school, based in northern Chile’s Antofagasta region.
The school is directed by Chilean surfing enthusiasts Claudio Morales, Catalina Daniels and Pablo Marín. They launched the program five years ago.
After knocking on a lot of doors, running pilot projects, consulting with specialists, and coming up with financing, they began their first class with six surfboards and six wetsuits.
Each Sunday from December to February, the three directors and other volunteers welcome up to 15 children with Down syndrome, Asperger’s syndrome and autism, giving them completely personalized classes adapted to each person’s condition.
<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/3rINx1ueb1c” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>
Pereira is a very sociable young man who does folk dancing, goes swimming, and works in his school’s bake shop. He told CNA that what he likes most about the surfing classes is “getting on top of the surf board and catching the waves.”
“I like the sea. I really like to go,” he said. Pereira also liked his instructors, saying, “I like how nice they are to us, I love what they do.”
Instructor Catalina Daniels told CNA that her students “challenge you to change. You can’t go on being the same.”
“They are a tremendous example of how love is the driving force of the best things, the best times, the best efforts. Affectionate warmth is the best investment and with them it’s incredible,” she said.
Daniels also discussed the impact of faith, saying “the person who knows Christ, Jesus, who by his mercy came into your life, can’t be the same. You have to be better, more loving, more understanding, more tolerant, because they are.”
Surfing requires strength, balance, agility, and a lot of technique. But what is most important, the Waves of Hope founders recognize, is the relationship between the instructor and the student. This breaks down the barriers of discrimination to make way for integration.
Many Chileans have never spoken or shaken hands with a person with Down syndrome.
“So very motivated volunteers come, but the first day they don’t know what to say, they don’t know how to act, they try to help, but even they freeze up,” Daniels told CNA.
But the students laugh and tell jokes, and eventually, relationships are formed.
“They have an incredible time. They float, row, do group dynamics, take up the surfboard. They have demonstrated that they can do a lot, they have overcome many difficulties related to their condition,” Daniels said.
She explained that the problem is rooted in discrimination and the lack of proper integration.
“They were born struggling with frustration, they were born already disadvantaged,” she said of the students. “It was really hard getting support from the businesses. Why don’t we see girls with Down syndrome promoting products in advertising? Because the beauty of our students is an atypical beauty and no one wants it on their front page.”
“Chile is a country that creates handicaps,” she reflected, adding that trends to de-value family, school and the Church also cause problems for the disabled.
Daniels recommended that people draw closer to God: “to give love you have to be with the Creator of love…When you have love, you have to give it, you have to give it shape, make it real.”
Claudio Morales, another director, added that the volunteers are “the big winners” of Waves of Hope.
“Children with Down syndrome capture your heart in an incredible way,” he said. “I believe that all the volunteers have a changed way of looking at life.”
Vatican City, Feb 7, 2017 / 12:55 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis could meet with President Donald Trump at the end of May.
The British newspaper The Tablet, citing diplomatic sources, said the two will meet during President Trump’s visit to Italy.
Washington D.C., Feb 7, 2017 / 12:20 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Planned Parenthood clinics had monthly quotas for abortions or abortion referrals, according to two former clinic workers in a new Live Action investigative video.
“I trained my staff the… […]
Washington D.C., Feb 7, 2017 / 09:51 am (CNA).- Two weeks ago, America witnessed a historic event. Tens of thousands of people gathered in Washington, D.C. for the 44th annual March for Life and heard from the highest ranking White House official to ever grace the March for Life stage – Vice President Mike Pence, along with top-ranking WH official Kellyanne Conway.
The day was a bit of a blur for those of us who were there, but in reflecting back on that historic event two weeks ago, I am reminded of the critical theme that we chose this year for the March for Life – “The Power of One.”
This year’s theme was conceived one night early last Spring during a “Tenebrae” service at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington D.C. The service, which means “shadows” in Latin, falls within the context of Holy Week, when Christians worldwide celebrate the Lord’s Supper, the passion, death and ultimately resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday.
At one point within the service, all of the lights in the cathedral except one – a candelabra with eight candles lit on the altar – are out. As meaningful lamentations from the Old Testament are read, one by one, each of the eight candles are snuffed out until the entire cathedral is pitch black. The darkness is stark and uncomfortable, but then everything changes. A single candle at the very top is lit, symbolizing Christ. It is notable and surprising how that one little candle creates an enormously different environment than the darkness. Literally, every square foot of that cathedral was touched by a little bit of light, and that little bit of light changed everything.
“Even the smallest person can change the course of history” is a powerful line from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and this line truly encapsulates “The Power of One” theme.
Working to build a culture of life can sometimes feel like we are working and living in the darkness. I experienced that darkness back in June, one day after the Supreme Court made two life issues-related decisions: The first essentially gave abortion clinics a pass, and decided to treat them differently than other outpatient facilities with regard to health standards and regulations. In the second ruling, a family pharmacy from Washington State, after battling for many years, was told that they either had to violate their consciences by filling life-destructive drug prescriptions or close up their business.
As a pro-life American who doesn’t identify with either political party, approaching the close of difficult years with the Obama Administration on life and religious freedom issues, these decisions were somewhat of a final blow as we looked towards possible continuation of such policies over coming years.
But as I reflected on those two decisions and the other trials that our nation was facing, I was reminded of that little candle and the power it had to light the entire cathedral. I had to remember that no matter who is President, who is in Congress or what Supreme Court decisions are made – as significant as they are – every single one of us has the power to make a change in this world, and there is always hope. Thus, the theme of this year’s March for Life was born.
On Jan. 22, Americans from every inch of this country gathered in our nation’s capital for the historic 44th annual March for Life, not only to commemorate that dark day when Roe v Wade legalized abortion in our nation, but also to celebrate life and the countless lives saved throughout the years since abortion was legalized.
The speakers for this year’s March for Life embodied “The Power of One” theme in a way I could have never imagined. Vice President Mike Pence joined us as the first-ever vice president to address the March for Life, alongside top White House adviser Kellyanne Conway – both of whom are inspiring role models, exemplifying how one person can truly change the world.
Abby Johnson shared her story of being a former Planned Parenthood director who became an outspoken pro-life advocate and founder of “And Then There Were None.” Benjamin Watson spoke about his life outside of the NFL as a father of five, a strong Christian, and a pro-life advocate in the public square. The youth presence at the March for Life is always incredible and this year we were thrilled to hear from Katrina Gallic, a student at the University of Mary. She spoke about the many buses her school brings every year to the March for Life and how, despite the blizzard of 2016, they continued as witnesses to life; even after getting snowed in on the Pennsylvania turnpike.
The March for Life is made up of tens of thousands of people who have the capacity to be the candle in a world that sometimes feels dark. This is the true power of one – every person has the power to be a light in this often dark world. We’ve been marching strong for 44 years, and this year, more than ever, there is so much opportunity for change. We will continue to march until a culture of life and respect has been restored in the United States; a culture where abortion is unthinkable and the inherent dignity of the human person is respected from conception to death.
*Jeanne Mancini is the President of the March for Life.