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Manx abortion bill receives royal assent

January 16, 2019 CNA Daily News 0

Douglas, Isle of Man, Jan 16, 2019 / 12:39 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Isle of Man’s Abortion Reform Bill 2018 gained royal assent Tuesday, meaning women in the territory will soon be able to procure elective abortion up to 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Abortion policy on the the Isle of Man, a crown dependency located between England and Northern Ireland, had been governed by the Termination of Pregnancy Act 1995, which allows abortion only in cases where the mother’s life is endangered or if the baby has a low survival rate.

Royal assent was given Jan. 15 by Richard Gozney, Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Man.

Abortion rights supporters have urged the Department of Health and Social Care to enact the change as soon as possible.

The bill, which decriminalizes abortion, was passed unanimously by the Legislative Council Nov. 6, 2018. It allows elective abortion up to 14 weeks; up to 24 weeks if medical reasons or “serious social grounds” were presented; and, according to Isle of Man Today, “in certain emergency or serious situations after 24 weeks.”

Among amendments made to the bill were measures regarding counseling services and conscientious objection.

It will provide for buffer zones around medical centers to keep pro-life counselors and protesters at a distance from women procuring abortion, as well as measures to prevent sex-selective abortions.

The Anglican bishop of Sodor and Man, Peter Eagles, who is an ex officio member of the Legislative Council, had voted against the bill earlier in the year, but was in favor of it at the November vote.

“I see these amendments as being entirely within the spirit of the discussion held in this council earlier and as being instrumental in enhancing the bill’s effectiveness,” Eagles said, according to Isle of Man Today.

The bill has been opposed by the Catholic Church on the island and by Humanity and Equality in Abortion Reform.

It was expected to receive royal assent in 2018, but Manx Radio reported that the process was delayed by “the increased workload currently on the UK’s civil service” due to preparations for Brexit.

To gain royal assent, the British Ministry of Justice needed to examine the bill to ensure its compliance with human rights laws.

“There have been several recent cases where anti-abortion groups have tried to overturn laws made by democratically elected parliaments through employing barristers to present technical legal arguments,” Alex Allinson, a Member of the House of Keys, told Manx Radio last week.

The bill will be promulgated on Tynwald Day, July 5, 2019.


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British women in their 50s increasingly requesting in-vitro fertilization

January 15, 2019 CNA Daily News 1

London, England, Jan 15, 2019 / 07:19 pm (CNA).- In-vitro fertilization clinics in Britain are increasingly helping women over age 55 to conceive children because there is currently no legal age limit for the treatment, according to news reports.

“Women have been expected to cram all their life tasks into 15 years between the age of 25 and 40, including having a career, finding a man and having children,” Dr. Nick Macklon, medical director of the London Women’s Clinic, was quoted as saying in the Daily Mail.

“The technology we have opens that up so that they have longer. We believe an age limit for them to deliver at 54 is reasonable.”

Women are at greater risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth if they conceive after menopause, which occurs on average at age 51 for British women. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a British professional organization, recommends women have children between the ages of 20-35, and women older than 40 are considered to be at a higher risk of pregnancy complications.

Macklon said at his clinic, women over 50 are asked to confirm with an obstetrician that they are fit and healthy for pregnancy, while their medical and social circumstances are also assessed. The London Women’s Clinic has accepted 26 women aged 51 to 54 for egg donation treatment in the three years since it instituted a policy of treating women before their 55th birthday.

Dr. Marco Gaudoin, medical director for the Glasgow Centre for Reproductive Medicine in Scotland, told the Daily Mail that his clinic’s maximum age of 55 for women using donor eggs was set by its ethics committee, but also that he would consider treating a 60-year-old woman if she were mentally and physically well, and would ask the ethics committee to consider the request.

Dr. Gaudoin said it was “sexist” to believe that older women could not have children, when men of the same age could.

The Catholic Church has judged IVF treatment to be immoral because it separates the act of procreation from the marital act between a husband and wife.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2008 issued instruction that laid out guidelines for treatment assisting with infertility, writing that medical techniques regarding fertility must respect the right to life and to physical integrity of every human being from conception to natural death, the unity of marriage, and the requirement that “the procreation of a human person be brought about as the fruit of the conjugal act specific to the love between spouses.’”

The CDF also noted that even in modern IVF treatments, the number of embryos sacrificed in order to achieve pregnancy remains high, and embryos with defects may be discarded altogether. Moreover, IVF disassociates procreation from the personal marital act of a husband and wife, which in itself is ethically unacceptable.

“The Church recognizes the legitimacy of the desire for a child and understands the suffering of couples struggling with problems of fertility,” the CDF wrote.

“Such a desire, however, should not override the dignity of every human life to the point of absolute supremacy. The desire for a child cannot justify the “production” of offspring, just as the desire not to have a child cannot justify the abandonment or destruction of a child once he or she has been conceived.”

In order for there to be an age limit for IVF treatment set in Britain, the Department of Health would have to change the law. Alternatively the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority could issue guidelines telling clinics not to exceed a certain age.

In 2009, a British woman gave birth at age 66 after undergoing fertility treatment in Ukraine. In July 2018, a 58-year-old paid woman £4,500 to undergo IVF in India because British clinics would have turned her down because of her age.



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Caritas Rome will continue receiving Trevi Fountain coins, mayor clarifies

January 14, 2019 CNA Daily News 0

Rome, Italy, Jan 14, 2019 / 01:42 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- After several weeks of confusion, the mayor of Rome has clarified that coins scooped from the famous Trevi Fountain will not be used to pay for city council maintenance projects, but instead will continue to go to Caritas, a Catholic charity that helps Rome’s poor and homeless.

“Caritas and all the thousands of people it helps can rest assured,” Mayor Virginia Raggi told L’Osservatore Romano Jan. 14.

“I personally guarantee that this administration will never take away its contribution. On the issue of the coins, I confirm that they will continue to go to the charity. No one ever considered taking them away.”

Caritas Rome has been the beneficiary of the coins since 2001. Visitors to Rome toss about €1.5 million ($1.7 million) worth of coins into the Trevi Fountain each year, which represents about 15 percent of Caritas’ charitable budget. The funds are mainly used for housing for the homeless, soup kitchens, and parish-based services for struggling families.  

Rome’s City Council approved a proposal at the end of Dec. 2018 to use the funds gathered from the fountain for “maintenance of cultural sites and social welfare projects” starting April 1, the Telegraph reports.

An article denouncing the city council’s decision appeared in Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian Bishops Conference, on Jan. 12. Raggi now says the purpose of the December plan was merely to get an accurate count of the money in the fountains.

Raggi said the city’s utility company, ACEA, will be responsible for cleaning, sorting, and counting the coins under the new plan, a job previously done by Caritas volunteers.

In addition, Raggi announced that coins collected from other fountains in the city would also be given to the charity, to the tune of an extra €200,000.

Under the previous arrangement, ACEA periodically emptied the fountain and presented the coins to Caritas officials in the presence of the police. Caritas volunteers then dried, cleaned, separated by currency, counted and deposited the coins in the bank. Caritas provided a quarterly report to the city of how the funds were used, according to Avvenire.

The city council first proposed using the Trevi Fountain funds for its own purposes in Dec. 2017, but the plan was delayed for a year.

In 2016 the city of Rome had an estimated €14 billion in public debt, and the city council is facing mounting pressure to fix dangerous roads and pavements in the city.



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What pro-life Ireland can learn from pro-life America

January 13, 2019 CNA Daily News 1

Dublin, Ireland, Jan 13, 2019 / 04:18 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- With the dawn of legal abortion in Ireland, the pro-life movement in the country is beginning a fight that their U.S. counterparts have been engaged in since 1973.

For more than 40 years, pro-life Americans have staged marches, prayer vigils, sidewalk counseling, and political protests. Now, pro-life advocates in Ireland must determine how a robust pro-life movement should look in their country when abortion is legal.

Earlier this week, after hearing news of a group of pro-life protesters who gathered outside of a medical center in Ireland for several hours, holding signs with slogans such as “Say no to abortion in Galway,” Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin urged caution.

While everyone “has a right to make a protest,” he told The Irish Times, General Practitioners perform surgeries for “everybody…for all sorts of reasons.”

He added that he is “not a person personally for protest, what the Church should be doing is strengthening its resolve to help women in crisis and to educate people.”

The word “protest” is a touchy one in the pro-life world. It can conjure up images of angry mobs with torches and pitchforks, so some pro-life people prefer terms like “witness” or “sidewalk counselor,” or simply a faithful person at a prayer vigil.

But for many in the U.S. pro-life movement, it is dialogue and prayer – not protest – that are at the heart of what they do.

Mary Fisher is one of those people.

Fisher had an abortion herself, that caused her deep regret, anger and pain for years. After she found healing through a Bible study, Fisher now works as a regional coordinator for Silent No More, an organization that gives women who regret their abortions a platform from which to tell their stories, and connects women who have had abortions to healing ministries.

While Fisher participates in pro-life activism, she is opposed to the term “protest.”

“Protesting is kind of an anger thing. That’s the way it’s perceived,” Fisher told CNA. “This makes me mad, so I’m going to go out and protest, because it makes me so mad.”

But there is already so much anger from people who are pro-choice or who have had an abortion, that the only way to win them over is with love, Fisher said.

“Our world is so full of anger, and it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve got this baby inside me that I don’t want, and everybody says it’s just a bunch of cells. So I’m just going to flush it down the toilet.’ And we do it in anger.”

Fisher herself experienced that anger after her own abortion.

“I lived as an angry woman for so many years, that one of my daughters actually moved from Colorado…to New York to get as far away from me as possible, because I was just so angry at everything.”

Fisher said the only thing that will win over those who are pro-abortion is to love them.

That doesn’t mean Fisher does not participate in the pro-life movement. She’s planning on attending her local March for Life, with a sign that says: “I regret my abortion. Ask me why.”

She also participates in 40 Days for Life prayer vigils, she shares her story through talks, and she helps connect women in need of healing from abortion to bible studies or retreats that can help them.

But ultimately, she says, abortion will never change through political protest, because abortion is not fundamentally a political issue.

“Abortion is not a political issue. Abortion is a heart issue. And until we get to the heart, nothing’s going to change,” she said.

“Protest is how we create friction. Just the word protest… just the thought of a protest is angry people, angry people with knives and swords and forks out to fight. This is a fight against principalities. It is not against flesh and blood.”

Shawn Carney is the president and CEO of 40 Days for Life, a popular form of pro-life activism that holds prayer vigils outside of local abortion clinics throughout the United States. The 40-day long campaigns of “prayer, fasting, and peaceful activism” have the goal of “repentance, to seek God’s favor to turn hearts and minds from a culture of death to a culture of life, thus bringing an end to abortion,” according to their mission statement.

It’s not a protest, it’s a prayer vigil, Carney told CNA.

“We take the approach of praying in front of the (clinics) because abortion is overwhelming. And it ends the life of a human being and it causes a woman to think she has no other option than to pay a physician to end the life of her child. And so in that great hopelessness, our Lord is the answer. And his joy is the answer, and his mercy is the answer,” Carney said.

The campaign has seen great success in turning the hearts of both abortion doctors and women considering abortions. Since its beginning in 2004, the organization knows of some 200 abortion facility workers who have had a change of heart and left their job, and over 15,000 women who have chosen life, during a 40 Days campaign.

It’s also often an entry point for people who have never participated in any kind of pro-life activism, Carney said.

“We’ve had 800,000 people participate in 40 Days for Life around the world in 50 different countries, and 30 percent of them said this is the first thing they ever did in the pro-life movement,” Carney said. “It has served as a great point of entry because it is peaceful and because it’s effective.”

But there is one word from Archbishop Martin’s comments that Carney does take issue with: caution. “I don’t agree with using the word caution with opposing abortion right now in Ireland,” he said.

“I think they need to do just the opposite…and I think that the Irish have been too timid and a little too cautious with their approach to abortion. Now they have it. And that happened to us here in the United States. Shamefully, we’re the example of this. We were cautious. We were timid. And now we have 61 million children that have been aborted.”

Instead, he said, the Irish should not lost hope, and should cling to God and to their lively Irish heritage, and use that in their advantage to continue to fight legalized abortion.

“The last thing the Irish should do is to throw their hands up in the air…I think they need to get out there. The Irish are a courageous people,” Carney said, adding that he is of Irish descent.

“The Irish aren’t cautious with anything, right? They’re the loudest and they’re the most fun and they like to sing and they have hot tempers. And they take their history and their country seriously,” he said.

“And this, more than any other time in their history, they need to do the same and they need to joyfully go out and witness the love and the hope and the mercy to those women who now think that Ireland is just a free for all to have an abortion.”

There are forms of activism that don’t belong in the pro-life movement, Carney added. Anything violent or with an intent to do harm “aren’t part of the pro-life movement,” he said. He’s seen people driven away from even peaceful forms of pro-life activism after bombings or murders of abortion doctors have taken place, he added.

“And so the archbishop doesn’t want that in their country. Who does?” he said.

“No bishop or no politician or no pro-life advocate in any other country is saying, ‘I want violence in my country to oppose abortion.’ No one’s ever said that, but they all should encourage the peaceful, public opposition to this because abortion is certainly a public issue.”

Even though abortion is a heavy issue, Carney said his message to pro-life Ireland is to hope.

“There’s practical things: there’s 40 Days for Life campaigns they need to do in Ireland. They need to have a March for Life. They need to get to work and we can help them do that,” he said.

“But the bigger picture is looking down, going to your knees in prayer and reflecting: ‘What is going to be my response? What am I going to tell my children and my grandchildren now that I, as an Irish person living in this country that I love, we have abortion now. And what’s going to be my response?’”

“And for that, we need to go to the Gospels.”



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Ecumenical Patriarch recognizes independence of Orthodox Church of Ukraine

January 7, 2019 CNA Daily News 1

Istanbul, Turkey, Jan 7, 2019 / 08:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople on Saturday signed a tomos of autocephaly for the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, formally recognizing the Church’s independence.

The tomos was signed Jan. 5 at St. George’s Cathedral in Istanbul, after Bartholomew I concelebrated a Divine Liturgy with Epiphanius I, Metropolitan of Kyiv and primate of the newly-created Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

Among those present at the signing were Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko and several other Ukrainian government officials.

The tomos, or decree, has been delivered to Kyiv, where Epiphanius put it on public display following a Divine Liturgy celebrated Jan. 7 at St. Sophia’s Cathedral.

Bartholomew’s formal conferral of autocephaly is the culmination of a process that began amid the collapse of the Soviet Union, and gained momentum after Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and Russian backing of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

The Ecumenical Patriarch’s intention to create a single, autocephalous Church in Ukraine is motivated by a desire to unify the country’s 30 million Eastern Orthodox Christians, who were until recently split among three Churches: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), which is linked to the Russian Orthodox Church, and two Churches which had claimed autocephaly, but were not recognized by other Orthodox Churches: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate) and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.

Autocephaly for the Orthodox Church in Ukraine has been a fiercely contested subject between the Patriarchs of Moscow and Constantinople, with the Russian Orthodox Church seeing the move as an infringement of its jurisdiction and authority.

Bartholomew had announced Sept. 7 he was sending two envoys to meets with civil and ecclesial leaders in Kyiv to prepare for Ukrainian autocephaly. In response, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow said later that month he would remove Bartholomew’s names from the diptychs, and would not concelebrate with him.

The Ecumenical Patriarch declared Oct. 11 he would grant autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. At the same time, he restored to communion Metropolitan Filaret, head of the UOC-KP, and also revoked the right, granted in 1686, of the Russian Patriarch to consecrate the Metropolitan of Kyiv.

In response, the Russian Orthodox Church broke communion with Bartholomew Oct. 15, calling his recognition of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine “lawless and canonically void.” Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chair of external Church relations for the Russian Orthodox Church, said that “the church that acknowledged the schismatics has excluded itself from the canonical field of Orthodoxy.”

The Orthodox Church of Ukraine was established Dec. 15 at a “unification council” held by representatives of the UOC-KP and the UAOC. In addition, two bishops of the UOC-MP, Alexander Drabinko and Simeon Shostatsky, participated in the unification council. Soon afterward, they were declared schismatic by the UOC-MP, and their sees vacant. Both have joined the OCU.

Several UOC-MP parishes have also reportedly joined the OCU.

It was at the unification council that Epiphanius, 39, was elected primate of the OCU. He had previously been Metropolitan of Pereyaslavsky and Bila Tserkva in the UOC-KP.

Along with ecclesial leaders, Poroshenko has been a strong backer of Ukrainian autocephaly. At the conclusion of the unification council he said, “We are now creating an independent Ukraine. And this event is as important as the referendum on our independence adopted more than 27 years ago.”

He linked an independent Church to Ukrainian patriotism, and said: “Autocephaly is part of our state pro-European and pro-Ukrainian strategy, which we have been consistently implementing for almost five years. All this is the basis of our own way of development, development of the state of Ukraine and development of our Ukrainian nation.”

Fr. Alexander Laschuk, a Ukrainian Greek-Catholic priest, canon lawyer, and professor at St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto, discussed with CNA both the inter-Orthodox and the ecumenical implications of Ukrainian Orthodox autocephaly.

For the Orthodox Church in Ukraine “it’s a sign of maturity that the Ecumenical Patriarch, who is first among equals, sees they can be a self-governing Church … that’s a sort of vote-of-confidence for the Church in Ukraine.”

Within Eastern Orthodoxy, Laschuk said, the decision also will play into debates about how autocephaly is granted, given that “the power of the Ecumenical Patriarch is not the power of the Holy Father, so how decision are made is much more complicated at times.”

While Constantinople is the traditional and historical center of Eastern Orthodoxy, Moscow has long exercised considerable influence and power, both because of its size and because of its closeness to Russian civil authorities.

The debate over the granting of autocephaly plays into the relations of Constantinople and Moscow, and their relative importance and power. Both the Russian and Ecumenical Patriarchs have written to the heads of the other Eastern Orthodox Churches, asking them not to recognize, and to recognize, respectively, the OCU’s autocephaly.

The decision for autocephaly, Laschuk said, will also have a tremendous impact on ecumenism.

For example, because of the presence of Eastern Orthodox bishops with whom it is not in communion, the Moscow Patriarchate chose not to participate in the 2007 meeting at Ravenna of the commission for dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

“It will also affect ecumenical dialogue in the sense of ‘who is our bargaining partner’, for Catholics,” Laschuk said. Previously, the Holy See dialogued only with the UOC-MP as “canonical Orthodoxy” in the country, but “clearly that’s changed” with the recognition of the OCU by Constantinople.

The priest added that he thinks the head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, “is excited to have a partner with which he can actually dialogue; we won’t have the union of the Churches tomorrow, but if you can’t even talk to each other, it’s hard to get much done …  I think His Beatitude is very happy he has someone with whom he can talk, and be in the same room with, which was not the case previously.”

He commented that “entire regions of Ukraine” are becoming increasingly Seventh-Day Adventist or Pentecostal, and that “collaborative activity by the more traditional Churches is a very welcome thing, as opposed to sort of, warring factions.”

Major Archbishop Shevchuk had written to Epiphanius Dec. 20 to congratulate him on his election as primate of the OCU, commenting, “We have all witnessed how the Lord, through the power and deeds of the Holy Spirit, in cooperation with your good will, heals the wounds of church divisions and enmity, giving opportunity to reconcile with our brother in Christ.”

“At this significant moment, I extend my hand on behalf of our Church to you and all the Orthodox brethren, offering you to begin our path to unity, to the truth. Because the future of the Church, our people and the Ukrainian independent European state depends on how we today will cherish unity and overcome what separates us.”

Major Archbishop Shevchuk added that “we are grateful to the Lord who has blessed the participants of this, without exaggeration, an important event that will enter the history of independent Ukraine as a great God’s gift on the way to the complete unity of the Churches of Volodymyr’s Baptism.”

He noted that “the Churches of Volodymyr’s baptism … live in one liturgical heritage, from the depths of beauty and God-inspired wisdom we draw spiritual strength. Even today, we are not in full eucharistic communion, but are called to jointly overcome the obstacles that stand on the path to unity. This historic mission and the foundation of the future patriarchy of the united Kyivan Church were laid by even the glorious church men Peter Mohyla and Josyf Veliamyn Rutsky.”

The words of the head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church allude to the 988 baptism of Vladimir the Great, Grand Prince of Kiev, which resulted in the Christianization of Kievan Rus’, a state whose heritage Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus all claim.

The Christianization of Kievan Rus’ forms the roots of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate).


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Trial begins for French cardinal accused of abuse cover-up  

January 7, 2019 CNA Daily News 0

Lyon, France, Jan 7, 2019 / 10:57 am (CNA/EWTN News).- French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon, begins trial Monday on charges of failing to report allegations that a priest in his diocese abused minor boy scouts from 1986-1991.

Barbarin and five other archdiocesan officials are all on trial in a case involving Fr. Bernard Preynat, who has been accused of abusing dozens of minors in the 1980s and early ‘90s.

If convicted, Barbarin could face three years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000, Reuters reports.

In 2017, the cardinal told Le Monde that he did not conceal allegations against Preynat, but said that his response to the allegations had been “inadequate.” He said he opened an investigation against Preynat after becoming aware of the allegations against him.

Allegations against Preynat became public in 2015. Prosecutors dropped the case the following year after an initial investigation, but a victims group with more than 80 members saying they were abused by Preynat led to a reopening of the case, the Guardian reports.

Preynat was banned from leading boy scout groups in the early 1990s, but remained in ministry until being removed by Cardinal Barbarin in 2015.

The priest has acknowledged abusing minors, according to the Guardian, and will face trial later this year.

Cardinal Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was also ordered to testify in the case. In October, the Vatican invoked diplomatic immunity in refusing to deliver a French court summons to Ladaria, saying that as a minister of Vatican City State, he is protected under international law.

The court summons had involved a letter Ladaria sent to Barbarin, advising him to take disciplinary action against Preynat, “while avoiding public scandal.”

The plaintiffs’ lawyers wanted Ladaria to testify as to whether the direction to prevent scandal was intended as an injunction to avoid going to court, in which case they accuse the CDF prefect of being complicit in failing to report the allegedly abusive priest to authorities.

Barbarin’s trial comes as revelations of clerical sex abuse and cover up continue to send shock waves through the Catholic Church. The United States, Ireland, Australia, Chile, Argentina and Germany are among the countries that have seen recent abuse scandals uncovered.

Next month, Pope Francis will meet with the heads of national bishops’ conferences from around the world to discuss the prevention of sexual abuse of minors.