Washington D.C., Apr 27, 2008 (CNA) -
Participants in the 40 Days for Life prayer vigils to end abortion are celebrating the closure of a New York abortion facility, the end of abortion services in several other targeted clinics around the country and the new lives of the children who could have been aborted.
The New City, New York abortion facility Abortion Services closed on Friday. It was one of more than 50 clinics where prayer vigils were held in the spring.
David Bereit, national campaign director of 40 Days for Life, said, “We rejoice with pro-lifers in Rockland County, New York today as they celebrate the closing of an abortion facility that was responsible for ending the lives of untold numbers of innocent unborn children over its many years of operation. The unceasing prayers of these faithful people have been answered."
Bereit said he and his family visited the clinic vigil earlier in 2008. “My wife and children were photographed alongside a young man who carried a sign reading, 'Nothing is impossible with God.' That is certainly the case here. The prayerful efforts of many pro-lifers over the years have won this victory,” Bereit said.
“We are humbled to know that people participating in the 40 Days for Life campaign may have played a role in the peaceful closure of this abortion center."
According to Bereit, two other Planned Parenthood locations where 40 Days for Life vigils were held have stopped performing abortions. Abortions were unexpectedly halted at both the Lincoln, Nebraska and the Council Bluffs, Iowa locations.
“40 Days for Life leaders in both cities are unsure of the reason," said Bereit, "but they suspect it is because no abortionist is available since both facilities previously shared the same abortionist.”
He said at least one mother in Lincoln decided against abortion after learning the local Planned Parenthood was no longer performing them. “She took that as a sign from God that her baby was meant to live," Bereit said.
Various 40 Days for Life groups from across the nation are reporting that children saved during the spring vigils are now being born.
“The births of these children are among the most awesome blessings people have witnessed because of the prayerful outreach of 40 Days for Life. As we talk with more people around the country, we're confident we will hear more such stories of God's action in our midst,” Bereit said.
The 40 Days for Life campaign describes itself as a community-based effort featuring 40 days of prayer and fasting, “constant peaceful vigil” outside abortion facilities, and intense public outreach. It plans to conduct another series of vigils from September 24 through November 2.
The campaign’s website is www.40daysforlife.com
Vatican City, Apr 27, 2008 (CNA) -
Appearing in the window of his study shortly after a Mass in which he ordained 29 deacons to the priesthood, Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday told the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square that the mission of the Church is to "sow in the world the joy of the Gospel."
Delivering his Regina Coeli address, the Holy Father noted the hopefulness he experienced during his visit to the United States, he greeted the Eastern churches who celebrated Easter on Sunday, and he exhorted the faithful to pray for troubled countries in Africa.
The Holy Father said the annual ordination Mass he had just completed is a moment of special grace when "renewed sap is infused into the fabric of the Church Community." He also examined the duties of priests to bring joy to the world.
"If the presence of priests is indispensable for the life of the Church, it is nevertheless valuable for everyone," he said. "In the Acts of the Apostles, [St. Luke] states that the deacon Philip brought the Gospel to a city of Samaria; people received enthusiastically his preaching, even seeing signs of the prodigious nature of the gospel in the healing of the sick, 'and there was great joy in that city'." (cf. Acts 1, 8).
The Holy Father exhorted the people gathered in the square below:
"As I reminded the new priests during the celebration of the Eucharist, this is the sense of mission of the Church and in particular of priests: sow in the world the joy of the Gospel! Where Christ is preached by the power of the Holy Spirit and is welcomed with open mind, society, although full of so many problems, becomes a "city of joy" – as the title of a famous book on the work of Mother Teresa of Calcutta reads."
Pope Benedict said that this was also the theme of his apostolic visit to the United States, whose motto was "Christ Our Hope".
He said, "I thank God who greatly blessed this unique mission and allowed me to be an instrument of the hope of Christ, for the Church and for that country. I also thank Him because I myself was confirmed in the hope of American Catholics: I indeed found a great vitality and determination to live and bear witness to faith in Jesus."
The Holy Father recalled that today many Eastern churches who, following the Julian Calendar, celebrate the “great feast” of Easter. To them he expressed his warm greetings and spiritual closeness.
"I pray the triune God to confirm them in the faith, to fill them with the shining light that emanates from the resurrection of the Lord, and to comfort them in difficult situations in which they often must live and bear witness to the Gospel. I invite everyone to join me in invoking the Mother of God, so that the path of dialogue and cooperation leads soon to a more complete communion among all the disciples of Christ, because they are an ever more radiant sign of hope for all humanity."
At the end of the Regina Caeli, the pope urged the faithful to show a greater solidarity to those suffering in different parts of the African continent.
In particular, he mentioned the impoverished and strife-torn countries of Madagascar, Burundi, and Darfur, which he said seems to be an "unending tragedy."
"I ask you not to forget these tragic situations and your brothers and sisters who are living in the midst of them! I ask you to pray for them and make their voices heard!”
At the end of his address, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims in several languages and invoked his apostolic blessing upon all.
Vatican City, Apr 27, 2008 (CNA) -
Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday presided over a Mass of ordination at St. Peter's Basilica, telling the ordinands to spread the Gospel so that all might experience the “joy of Christ.”
Twenty-nine deacons, most of whom are students at Rome's Major seminary in St. John Lateran on the south side of the Tiber, prostrated themselves before Pope Benedict XVI above the tomb of St. Peter, and promised to dedicate their lives to serving the people of God, his Church and the Gospel.
The ordination Mass at St. Peter’s is an annual tradition in which the Pope, in his role as the Bishop of Rome, bestows the sacrament of Holy Orders on men from his own diocese. Included among the 29 were also a Haitian; three young South Americans from Chile, Colombia, and Paraguay; a French deacon; a deacon from Kerala, India; and one deacon from Baghdad in Iraq.
The annual celebration of this sacrament by the Holy Father has become a focal point for many young seminarians worldwide. In his recent trip to the United States, the Holy Father addressed the ideals of the priesthood on several occasions.
Most poignantly, speaking to seminarians and religious at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, New York, Pope Benedict said, "The People of God look to you to be holy priests, on a daily journey of conversion, inspiring in others the desire to enter more deeply into the ecclesial life of believers. I urge you to deepen your friendship with Jesus the Good Shepherd. Talk heart to heart with him. Reject any temptation to ostentation, careerism, or conceit. Strive for a pattern of life truly marked by charity, chastity and humility, in imitation of Christ, the Eternal High Priest, of whom you are to become living icons."
He also told young Americans gathered in Yankee Stadium, to open their hearts to “the Lord's call to follow him in the priesthood and the religious life."
During Sunday's homily, Pope Benedict spoke to the ordinands regarding the reading from the Acts of the Apostles about the Deacon Philip, reminding them of what it means to be a priest in the service of the Gospel. He said their mission is "to spread the Gospel to all so that all might experience the joy of Christ and there might be joy in every city. What can be more beautiful than this?"
Appearing in the window of his study shortly after the Mass, Pope Benedict told the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square that the annual ordination Mass is a moment of special grace when "renewed sap is infused into the fabric of the Church Community."