London, England, Jun 7, 2008 (CNA) - The Lord's Prayer will be read in Aramaic at a special Mass celebrated by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor at Westminster Cathedral next week in support of Iraqi Christians.
At a time when many of Iraq’s Christians have been forced to flee the volatile situation in their homeland, the Mass at 5:30pm on June 16 will offer an opportunity for bishops and worshippers to come together and stand in solidarity with the country’s Christian community.
In addition to the Lord’s Prayer being read in Aramaic – the language closest to Christ’s dialect – the Gospel will be sung in Arabic. The Mass will also allow people to pray for peace in Iraq and also for Iraqi communities here in England and Wales.
According to The Universe, Bishop Crispian Hollis, Bishop of Portsmouth, will be preaching at the Mass and Bishop Alan Hopes, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster with responsibility for Ethnic Chaplaincies, will concelebrate together with other bishops.
During the Mass, special prayers will be said for Archbishop Faraj Rahho of Mosul who was killed in March having been kidnapped after leading prayers at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Mosul; for Margaret Hassan and the many others who have lost their lives in Iraq.
Last month Bishop Hollis and Bishop William Kenney, Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham, visited Erbil, Kirkuk, and Sulemaniyah in northern Iraq, at the invitation of the Chaldean bishops and shared in the experiences of the people, priests and religious of the area.
The bishops also spent time at the Chaldean Seminary of St. Peter in Ainkawa, a Christian town near Erbil.
Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk, who hosted the bishops, told The Universe, “Many people have left their homes, their property and their jobs and are losing their patience, so this visit was very helpful to encourage us to continue with courage and hope for a better future.”
Recently, the Catholic charity for suffering Christians, Aid to the Church in Need, spoke to Fr. Habib Jajou, who will play a part in the Mass as chaplain for the London-based Iraqi Chaldean Christian community.
He referred to the volatile situation in Iraq: “What we want to do is just let people know how serious the situation is for our communities in Iraq – not just Christians but other minorities.”
Lublin, Poland, Jun 7, 2008 (CNA) - Church-connected programs in Poland are ministering to people with same-sex attractions, encouraging them to live chaste lives amid their sufferings and burdens.
The Odwaga center, whose name means “Courage,” was founded in 2007 by the church-associated Light-Life Foundation. It reportedly offers “therapy” for homosexuals in the southeastern city of Lublin.
According to Agence France Presse, Odwaga programs require first-year participants to dedicate one weekend a month to support group sessions. In the two following years, they devote 20 hours a month to group therapy sessions led by psychologists, who are often priests.
They can also pray and receive Communion in the center’s chapel.
Lena Wojdan, a psychologist involved in Odwaga programs, described the program’s aims to Agence France Presse.
"The goal isn't to change the patient, to shift their orientations, but rather to prepare them to accept their leanings," said Wojdan. "They need to accept that God created them as they are. This is something that they have been given to bear as a burden."
"This is a kind of suffering which has meaning for Christians, a suffering that they have to face each day,” she added, saying that people can overcome their feelings and resist their urges.
Odwaga also runs groups for participants’ parents or others close to them.
London, England, Jun 7, 2008 (CNA) - A woman whose child survived an abortion attempt has now welcomed her baby into her life.
Twenty five year-old Jodie Percival’s first son had died of a life-threatening kidney condition. Last year, she became pregnant while on the birth-control pill and she and her fiancé Billy Crampton, 35, decided to abort the child, the Daily Mail says.
“Deciding to terminate at eight weeks was just utterly horrible but I couldn't cope with the anguish of losing another baby,” said Percival, a hairdresser.
Weeks after the attempted abortion, Percival felt a quivering in her stomach. Doctors discovered she was 19 weeks pregnant, the child having survived the abortion.
“I couldn't believe it,” Percival said, according to the Daily Mail. “This was the baby I thought I'd terminated.
“At first I was angry that this was happening to us, that the procedure had failed.”
“I wrote to the hospital, I couldn't believe that they had let me down like this. They wrote back and apologized and said it was very rare.”
Percival carries a gene which triggers a kidney disorder, in which cysts grow on the kidneys of an unborn baby. Her first baby, Thane, was born prematurely and lived only 20 minutes. Her second son, Lewis, is now 20 months old.
Doctors told the couple from Nottinghamshire that the unborn child was likely to survive. Finley Crampton was born three weeks premature, weighing 6 pounds and 3 ounces.
Though he has minor kidney damage, he is expected to live a normal life.
“I still struggle to believe just what he has fought through. Now he's here I wouldn't change it for the world,” she added.
London, England, Jun 7, 2008 (CNA) - A Catholic adoption agency in Britain has ended its service of placing children in new homes because a new anti-discrimination law forbids the agency from turning away homosexual couples. A Minister of Parliament has said the new law “smacks of a secular attack on the Catholic Church.”
The Equality Act, which will come into effect on January 1, outlaws discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the provision of goods and services. Then-Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has since converted to Catholicism, wanted Catholic adoption agencies to be exempted from the rules.
Directors of the Catholic Children’s Rescue Society (CCRS), which has been in operation since 1886, say the new legislation forces them to stop recruiting, assessing, or approving couples who want to adopt children, according to the Telegraph. While other British adoption agencies have cut their ties to the Catholic Church to continue their service, the CCRS cannot do so because it is closely linked with the Diocese of Salford.
“The decision has been taken with regret by the trustees who have been fully informed all the way along,” said CCRS director Kathy Batt. "We did not want to separate from the diocese as other agencies have, though that is no criticism of them."
The CCRS will become the first adoption agency to stop offering its services. It will merge with local Catholic welfare groups to provide care homes for children, homeless shelters, and support for adoptive parents.
Jim Dobbin, a Catholic Labor Party MP in Manchester, lamented the action.
"It is a tragedy,” Dobbin said, according to the Telegraph. “There is a shortage of people willing to adopt generally in the country and there is something very wrong when some of the better and more efficient agencies feel they have to close because they can't conform to what the Government is demanding.”
"I don't think there was any need for this legislation at all. It was forced through and was all done to avoid discrimination but all it has done is to introduce discrimination against agencies that operate according to the principles of a religious faith.
"The Government will rue the day when it pursued this line of action. It smacks of a secular attack on the Catholic Church."