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What is the devil’s favorite sin? An exorcist responds

February 16, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Madrid, Spain, Feb 16, 2017 / 03:17 am (CNA).- Is an exorcist afraid? What is the devil’s favorite sin? These and other questions were tackled in an interview with the Dominican priest, Father Juan José Gallego, an exorcist from the Archdiocese of Barcelona in Catalonia, Spain.

Almost a decade after Fr. Gallego was appointed as exorcist, he was interviewed by the Spanish daily El Mundo. The priest said that in his experience, pride is the sin the devil likes the most.

“Have you ever been afraid?” the interviewer asked.

“In the beginning I had a lot of fear,” Fr. Gallego replied. “All I had to do was look over my shoulder and I saw demons… the other day I was doing an exorcism, ‘I command you! I order you!’…and the Evil One, with a loud voice fires back at me: ‘Galleeeego, you’re over-doooing it.’ That shook me.”

Nevertheless, he knows that the devil is not more powerful than God. The exorcist recalled that “when they appointed me, a relative told me, ‘Whoa, Juan José, I’m really afraid, because in the movie ‘The Exorcist,’ one person died and the other threw himself through a window. I said to her ‘Don’t forget that the devil is (just a) creature of God.’”

When people are possessed, he added, “they lose consciousness, they speak strange languages, they have inordinate strength, they feel really bad, you see very well-mannered people vomiting and blaspheming.”

“There was a boy whom the demon would set his shirt on fire at night and things like that. He told me what the demons were proposing him to do: If you make a pact with us, you’ll never have to go through any more of what you’re going through now.”

Father Gallego also warned that “New Age” practices like reiki and some yoga can be points of entry for the demons. He also said that addictions are “a type of possession.”

“When people are going through a crisis they suffer more. They can feel hopeless. People feel like they’ve got the devil inside,” he said.


This article was originally published on CNA Aug. 25, 2015.


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Meet the priest who has helped rescue thousands on the Mediterranean Sea

February 16, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Madrid, Spain, Feb 16, 2017 / 01:56 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Father Alberto Gaton is the chaplain of a Spanish ship that combats human trafficking by rescuing people in the Mediterranean Sea. In the span of almost 5 months, his team has managed to rescue more than 3,000 people.

“Seventy percent of them are Christians fleeing from persecution in their countries,” he told CNA. “They’re fleeing persecution from Boko Haram in Nigeria, the terrorists groups, the situation in their countries.”

From September 2016 through January 2017, the priest was aboard the “Frigate Navarra” in Operation Sophia, the EU anti-migrant smuggling operation in the Mediterranean Sea. The ship had a crew of 208 sailors.

“We were also collaborating to rescue people that the mafias have abandoned to their fate in the sea – we on the Frigate Navarra, along with other NGOs and other European naval forces, collaborated to make rescues,” he said.

In precarious make-shift boats of rubber and wood, hundreds of people try to cross the Mediterranean every day, the chaplain said. “Heavy storms frequently come up, and if we’re not there, they would die.”

The main goal of Operation Sophia is to “combat the mafias which are trafficking in souls on the Mediterranean,” he said, and “always help to rescue those at sea, because they are the poor people of the land who embark from all points in Africa hoping to reach the coasts of Europe and who many times end up on the bottom of the sea.”

Sometimes, it happens that due to wind, rough seas or nightfall, the rescue is hindered, he said. “Thanks be to God, we were able to rescue all the boats we were responsible for, even though some of them were in very bad sea conditions.”

Fr. Gaton recalled his first rescue: “once inside the ship, they began to dance, it was a happy day because nobody died. It was marvelous to see those who were rescued safe and sound dancing.”

But the joy of days like that is offset by the profound sadness of seeing “what point this world has come to in wickedness of heart, which when God is forgotten, is capable of sending little children, pregnant mothers and babies in inflatable boats that are like shoe boxes, floating coffins with no other fate than to be rescued or lost.”

When they rescue refugees, he said, “the first thing is to recover from injuries, have something to eat, treat dehydration…But meanwhile I am always there with the families, with the sick.”

At one point, an old woman who had been rescued asked him to bless her and the girl she was carrying.

“The parents of the little girl had gone missing before the rescue and now it was the old woman who took care of her. She just asked me to bless them. We prayed together in the infirmary,” he recalled.

On another occasion, a Protestant pastor had fled his homeland due to persecution. “I helped him in everything I could,” the chaplain said, adding that most of the time, people don’t ask for anything material. “They just want a prayer, a smile.”

Fr. Gaton told CNA that his work as a chaplain has been difficult. “You are faced with death, with suffering, with violence. If you’re far from home and the priest introduces himself as another shipmate for the believers and non-believers with whom they can unburden themselves, they can talk and share like they can’t do with the naval officers.”

In addition to carrying out the same tasks as the other sailors, his unique task is “to be with the parishioners without forgetting that you are a soldier, but giving your all as a priest. “

The priest said that every day, Mass was celebrated on the ship. However, since there was no chapel, it was celebrated on the deck, or else inside if there was bad weather.

Another especially moving moment for the chaplain was evening prayer, offered each day “at the moment of sunset, to the Lord of the calm and the storm.” Even the atheists would join in when there was a bad storm or if they had a sick relative.

The priest said that in the months spent at sea on the Frigate Navarra, they celebrated a First Communion, and several sailors took marriage or Confirmation prep classes.

“I always say that at sea, the atheists become agnostics; the agnostics become non-practicing Catholics, and the non-practicing, at least for a while, they practice. That’s my experience.”

Fr. Gaton was ordained a priest at the age of 29, after exercising his ministry in Santander, Spain; Rome; and the United States, and at the advice of his bishop, he decided to join the army. When he began this service, he was already 45 years old.

Currently, he is Major Chaplain of the southern military region, a permanent major, and as such he belongs to the military archdiocese.




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French court allows dating website to continue promoting affairs

February 14, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

Paris, France, Feb 14, 2017 / 06:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).-  

A complaint brought by a Catholic group against a dating site that promotes extramarital affairs was thrown out by a French court last week.


The suit was dismissed after a Paris court determined that the National Confederation of Catholic Family Associations could not file the complaint, since infidelity complaints can only be filed within a private marital relationship, and because an affair does not always constitute a civil violation, according to reports from the AP.


The website, Gleeden, advertises itself as “The first extramarital dating site made by women,” with a logo featuring a half-eaten apple referencing the sin of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Launched in 2009, the website claims to be a world leader in coordinating extramarital affairs, with a million users in France and 2.4 million throughout the world.


Catholic Family Associations first filed a legal complaint against the site’s U.S. based publisher, Black Divine, in a Paris court in February 2015. The group said the advertisements for the site were crude and immoral and constituted a breach of an article in French civil code.


While adultery was decriminalized in France in 1975, article 212 of the French Civil Code states, “Married partners owe each other the duty of respect, fidelity, help and assistance.” Many family lawyers believed the suit would succeed for this reason.


Despite France’s secularism and typical laissez faire attitude towards sexual mores, Gleeden scandalized many with the release of its public advertisements in 2015, highlighting a cultural divide within the country. Several towns and bus companies opted to remove the advertisements after receiving numerous complaints.


“There are plenty of other websites out there which promote sexual contact between individuals, but what makes Gleeden different is that its very business model is based on marital infidelity,” Jean-Marie Andres, president of the Association of Catholic Families, told the BBC in 2015.


“It states quite openly that its purpose is to offer married women opportunities to have sex outside the marriage,” she said.


“But here in France, people and parliament are all in agreement that marriage is a public commitment. It’s in the law. What we are trying to do with our suit is show that the civil code – the law – has meaning.”


Gleeden argued in the case that it was merely facilitating affairs, and that the demand for them already existed.


A spokesperson for Catholic Family Associations told the AP that the group had not yet decided whether it would appeal the decision.


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Watch a 20-week baby in utero with new groundbreaking technology

February 8, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

London, England, Feb 8, 2017 / 04:35 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- When the fetal ultrasound gained popularity in the 1970s, it was hailed as a “window to the womb.” But now, new technology could offer a much more in-depth view of babies before birth.

Courtesy of a new multimillion dollar project based out of London, some parents are able to see clear scans of every movement and organ of their babies in the womb starting as early as 20 weeks, using advanced MRI technology.

“There is nothing quite as emotional as seeing your unborn child moving inside you, and these MRI scans are taking images to the next level,” stated Cathy Ranson, the editor of, a website that is distributing videos of the MRI scans.

“They are truly breathtaking,” Ranson continued.

Traditionally, ultrasounds are used during pregnancy to check in on growing babies in the womb using high frequency sound waves. Although useful, ultrasounds usually produce limited visual scopes of the womb and can vary in quality depending on various factors, such as age, weight, and position.

However, a curious team of medics pushed the limits of the ultrasound to find out if there was a better way to get in-utero scans.

Top minds from Kings College London, St. Thomas’ Hospital, Imperial College London, University of Firenze, the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and Philips Health were given £10 million from the Wellcome Trust and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to see if they could advance antenatal scans.

This team of medics composed a new series of algorithms and magnetic fields to go beyond the limits of the ultrasound. This new technology is allowing clear pictures of the entire womb, making details like a 20-week heart valve crystal clear.

A video, produced by the iFIND project, shows just how detailed the scans are: the baby is stretching, turning, and even playing with the umbilical cord. They also recorded the reverberations of the baby’s movements, which could be seen rippling through the mother’s belly.

In addition to creating the optimal scan, the MRI technology also has a mechanism that auto corrects any small movements to produce an overall smooth image.

Dr. David Lloyd, a Clinical Research Fellow at King’s College London, said the new MRI scans “can see the structures inside the body, regardless of whether there’s bone, muscle or fat in the way.”

“It is also one of the few imaging techniques that is safe to use in pregnancy,” Dr. Lloyd continued.

This new technology is more than just a great picture for excited parents to see. The MRI scans could also reveal complications or growth deficiencies earlier in the pregnancy, which could allow for advanced treatment even before the baby is born.

The MRI scans have already kicked up some debate, especially in the UK where abortion is legal up to 24 weeks. These new scans, showing how babies actively move around at 20 weeks, is making the current abortion limit even more questionable.

Moving forward, the iFIND project wants the MRI scans to become available for all pregnant women around the world.




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Priest attributes ‘miraculous’ healing to Venerable Margaret Sinclair

February 8, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

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.”


For more information on Venerable Margaret, go



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St Josephine Bakhita, former slave, is patron of trafficking victims

February 8, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

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.


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How Colombia’s child soldiers are trying to begin again

February 8, 2017 CNA Daily News 0

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.


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The story of a father who runs marathons with his disabled son

February 2, 2017 CNA Daily News 1

Madrid, Spain, Feb 2, 2017 / 12:06 am (CNA).- Most fathers like to share their hobbies with their sons. But for José Manuel this proved a challenge – given that his fourth child Pablo suffers from a severe form of cerebral palsy.

Despite this, however, José Manuel had idea.

“I don’t remember when we began to run together. I know that the first time was in the summer. I was getting ready to go out for a run, but neither my wife nor children could stay to take care of Pablo. So I decided I could take him with me,” José Manuel Roas Treviño told CNA.

Even though José Manuel said he did not know if Pablo would like the experience or not, he quickly  demonstrated that he did: “He sat up straight in the chair and when he does that it means ‘okay,’ because it takes a huge amount of effort to keep sitting up straight.”

“We were running down a nearby bicycle lane and he was totally into it, he was laughing, shrieking, lifting up his arms. I was singing to him and he was laughing more and more. And I realized that what we were experiencing was very special.”

Pablo is 18 years-old and is affected by acute cerebral palsy, which makes him completely dependent on his parents, José Manuel and Maite. He cannot speak or walk, nor he will be able to in the future. But for his parents, Pablo far from being a burden, is a gift.

“I thank God every day for Pablo and for this life story that God is having us experience. Because when he was born, a wall certainly was raised up with all the limitations that appeared, because you were presented with a terrible life.”

“But for me, I live it every day in the first person, this still is surprising. God has given us a complex life story to live but he also helps us to go forward with it and to do it with hope, with a sense of humor.”

“Because I too have looked the other way from those who had children in their cars like Pablo and my heart just recoiled.”

José Manuel recalled the time he was preparing to become a special ed teacher. One morning in November of 1988 I sat down to study and the subject was cerebral palsy. At that instant I was frightened and I remember I literally said, “My God, what am I doing? You’re not preparing me to have a child like that, are you?”

“And I was so scared that that same day I quit preparing for those exams, and I started another major.”

José Manuel does not deny that the sufferings are “enormous, more than I had ever imagined” but he stressed that “it is suffering that you get much more out of than what you lose. God is near the weak, and Pablo is certainly the weakest there is.”

“We find in him things you don’t find anywhere else such as love and forgiveness of the purest sort.”

This father also commented that “there are very hard days, like I never in my life thought of, but it’s true that afterwards you discover who you are and also who God is, which is that which makes these impossibilities possible.”

That is why he insists that despite the difficulties his faith in God is stronger, thanks to Pablo.

“Yes, it’s precisely because of Pablo that we believe in God, because we are living the impossible. We’re a normal family that gets into fights everyday, and we’ve got our things…but where Pablo is concerned, our differences end. This is what unites us the most, and so for us Pablo is a blessing, he’s what draws us together.”

In addition, José Manuel emphasized how encouraging it is to see during races and marathons everybody wants to high five him, how the people applaud him during the race course and he lifts up his hands and laughs”… and he insists “It’s a miracle that we’re living and much more so to be able to share it with him.”

So far they has run six marathons: three in Seville, two in Madrid and one in New York, and he assures there are more races left to share.

For José Manuel and his entire family, having Pablo is “a true privilege, I say it with all my heart.”