Archive of March 18, 2009

Israeli ambassador confirms Pope Benedict may wear cross at Western Wall

Rome, Italy, Mar 18, 2009 (CNA) - Contrary to comments attributed to an Israeli rabbi, Pope Benedict XVI will not be barred from entering the holy area of Jerusalem’s Western Wall while wearing a cross.

On Tuesday the Jerusalem Post quoted Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, who oversees worship matters at the Western Wall, as saying that the Pope should not wear a cross during his visit to the area.

“It is not fitting to enter the Western Wall area with religious symbols, including a cross,” the rabbi reportedly said, according to SIR.

Mordechay Lewy, Israel’s Ambassador to the Holy See, issued a clarifying statement saying that the Jerusalem Post’s quotation was “misleading.”

Ambassador Lewy said that Israel will “respect, as a matter of course, the religious symbols of the Holy Father and of his entourage, as expected in accordance with rules of hospitality and dignity,” following the same procedure applied in Pope John Paul II’s papal visit to Israel in 2000.

“This was confirmed to a high Official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Jerusalem personally by Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch,” the ambassador’s statement continued.

Pope Benedict is scheduled to visit the Western Wall on May 12 as part of his journey to the Holy Land.

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Pastor bars Florida VOTF from holding annual Mass over group’s restructuring efforts

Naples, Fla., Mar 18, 2009 (CNA) - Citing Voice of the Faithful’s advocacy of church restructuring, the pastor of a Catholic church in Naples, Florida has barred the Southwest Florida VOTF affiliate from celebrating its annual Mass at the parish.

St. John the Evangelist Church pastor Rev. John Ludden told the Naples News that he was concerned about the organization as a whole because “they’re becoming a group within the church that are aligning themselves with other groups that ... don’t trust the hierarchy and want to change our structure.”

Voice of the Faithful (VOTF), a self-described church reform group, advocates a “strategic plan” which would reduce pastoral and episcopal governance of parishes and dioceses. CNA has reported the strategic plan is “remarkably similar” to a recently proposed Connecticut bill that aimed to forcibly reorganize the Church in Connecticut.

The bill was withdrawn after massive Catholic protests and VOTF has denied initiating any specific legislation at the state or federal level to advance their plans.

VOTF of Southwest Florida (VOTF-SWFL) describes its aims on its web site, saying “Our specific area of concentration is the bureaucracy or management of the temporal affairs of our church. The realization of this goal will occur when we, the laity, are given ‘our place at the table’.”

In his reported remarks, Fr. Ludden did not refer to the Connecticut bill, but said he made his decision based on his knowledge of the group. His decision had nothing to do with the individuals involved in the organization, he said.

“I know some of the people who come to Mass every Sunday are part of the group, and by no means does this mean they are not welcome to the church,” he explained. “We are here to foster faith, to nurture it.”

According to the national organization’s web site, VOTF Trustee Board Member John Hushon is a parishioner at St. John the Evangelist in Naples.

“In terms of the Eucharist, the Mass for Catholics is the sacrament of unity,” Fr. Ludden told Naples News, adding that in his view VOTF stands “in stark contrast” to that unity and the group would “stand in contradiction to what the Mass is all about.”

Peg Clark, President of VOTF-SWFL said the priest’s decision was “a total unexpected surprise.”

The group reportedly will celebrate its annual Mass in the sanctuary of a rented Presbyterian Church.

“We will have the Mass in the appropriate venue,” she said. She also voiced her group’s determination to have Mass in a Catholic Church next year.

VOTF-SWFL’s lecture series at St. John the Evangelist was banned in 2008. The Diocese of Venice said the speakers were prohibited from the Catholic venue because they “repeatedly expressed positions which contradict the Church’s teachings and doctrine.”

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Catholic Church in Africa ‘best hope’ for peace, charity says

London, England, Mar 18, 2009 (CNA) - As Pope Benedict XVI makes his first visit to Africa, the charity Aid to the Church in Need has highlighted both its own work and the growth of Catholicism on the continent, calling the Church Africa’s “best hope” for peace.

According to a press release from Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the charity’s project support has grown more in Africa than in most other continents, especially over the past three years, as the charity responds to a “vocations boom” and increasing numbers of Catholics.

The charity says its work is concentrating on Christian education as well as religious and human formation for clergy and laity. ACN believes these efforts are crucial in the quest to break Africa’s “cycle of violence.”

“The Church in Africa – with growing numbers of priests and a more committed laity – is undoubtedly the best hope for a continent that for some people represents nothing but injustice, bloodshed and despair,” said Regina Lynch, ACN projects director.

According to recent audited figures, the charity has paid out about $574,000 for projects in Angola and about $715,000 for projects in Cameroon. Its overall expenditures in Africa total more than $18.1 million.

Calling support for vocations “crucial,” Lynch explained that ACN has increased its commitment to help both seminarians and religious Sisters.

“For ACN it is not only a question of quantity but of quality and we are working with religious superiors in vocations discernment and formation,” she said.

She also underlined the group’s work with laity in promoting Christian family values, AIDS prevention and other pro-life initiatives.

“ACN’s increasing work in Africa is a response to the amount of life and energy in the Church – its struggle to rebuild respect for human dignity, develop paths towards reconciliation and give young people a chance for a better life,” she reported.

The inculcation of Christian values such as love and forgiveness is critical, she said, noting that ACN’s Child Bible has now been distributed across 46 African countries in 64 different languages.

Reconciliation initiatives are also key to the charity’s work. One example the group cites is its support for the Marian shrine in Kibeho, Rwanda, which is seen as helping the country to heal the wounds of its civil conflict.

ACN has also sponsored projects such as Save the Savable schools for children in Khartoum, Sudan which with other projects assists those parts of Africa affected by the spread of Islam.

“Sadly, fundamentalism is reaching deep into the continent and in some countries the future of Christianity is on a knife-edge,” Lynch said. “Violence, poverty and extremism in regions such as eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe and Sudan have fundamentally assaulted the dignity of the human person – their values, their sense of right and wrong, their sense of community and their trust in God. If these scars are to heal, the Church needs our support.”

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What the Pope really said about AIDS and condoms

Aboard the papal plane, Mar 18, 2009 (CNA) - Yesterday the international media played host to a raft of experts railing against Pope Benedict’s brief words on the use of condoms in the fight against AIDS. However, the incident was the result of the Pope’s words being pulled from his defense of the Church’s personalistic approach to the AIDS crisis.

The vast majority of the Pope’s words were dedicated to explaining how the best response to AIDS is to promote a spiritual and human renewal of people’s understanding of sexuality and to be willing to live true sacrificial friendships with those who suffer from AIDS.

A full transcript of the exchange follows.

A journalist from French state TV asked Pope Benedict:

“Holy Father among the many evils that affect Africa there is also the particular problem of the the spread of AIDS. The position of the Catholic Church for fighting this evil is frequently considered unrealistic and ineffective.

“Will you address this issue during your trip? Holy Father, could you please respond in French to this question?” he asked.

Although the Pope responded to a previous question from the French newspaper La Croix in French, he gave this in-depth answer in Italian.  

“I would say the opposite.”

"It is my belief that the most effective presence on the front in the battle against HIV/AIDS is precisely the Catholic Church and her institutions. I think of the Community of Sant’ Egidio, which does so much, visibly and invisibly to fight AIDS, of the Camillians, of all the nuns that are at the service of the sick.

“I would say that this problem of AIDS cannot be overcome with advertising slogans. If the soul is lacking, if Africans do not help one another, the scourge cannot be resolved by distributing condoms; quite the contrary, we risk worsening the problem. The solution can only come through a twofold commitment: firstly, the humanization of sexuality, in other words a spiritual and human renewal bringing a new way of behaving towards one another; and secondly, true friendship, above all with those who are suffering, a readiness - even through personal sacrifice - to be present with those who suffer. And these are the factors that help and bring visible progress.

“Therefore, I would say that our double effort is to renew the human person internally, to give spiritual and human strength to a way of behaving that is just towards our own body and the other person’s body; and this capacity of suffering with those who suffer, to remain present in trying situations.

“I believe that this is the first response [to AIDS] and that this is what the Church does, and thus, she offers a great and important contribution. And we are grateful to those that do this.”

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Canadian bishops investigating social arm for funding pro-abortion groups

Toronto, Canada, Mar 18, 2009 (CNA) - In a response to recent reports that the Canadian Catholic group, Development and Peace, a part of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops is funding abortion advocacy groups in Mexico and South America, the Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto has explained to CNA that the bishops are currently looking into the accuracy of the reports.


Last week, LifeSite News reported that money from the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP) is being distributed to organizations that support the legalization of abortion and encourage the distribution of contraceptives in Mexico. Lifesite News spoke to the Director of International Programs at CCODP, Gilio Brunelli, who admitted that they do not do a thorough review of the activities that the organization supports.


Brunelli told LifeSite News that CCODP does not “have a policy for or against" abortion.  When they asked again for clarification he replied, "No we don't," adding that such matters are "not our role. It's the role of our bishops."


Additionally, it was reported by the National Catholic Register that the Canadian bishops’ conference is also supporting “reproductive health” groups in Bolivia, such as the organization, “Centro de Promoción y Salud Integral” (CEPROSI), which is listed as a partner in the bishops’ Lenten mini-magazine. 


Susana Inch Sainze, a Bolivian pro-life activist and attorney, discussed CEPROSI with the Register saying:  “During the 2004-2005 [legislative year], a strong pro-abortion law, under the name of ‘Sexual and Reproductive Rights’ was passed by Congress in Bolivia but finally vetoed by the then-President. In order to force the government to pass the law, several pro-abortion organizations in the country created the ‘Vigilant Round Table of Sexual and Reproductive Rights,’ as well as the ‘Regional Committees for Sexual of Reproductive Health,’ as a way to openly promote abortion at a grassroots level. The Centro de Promoción y Salud Integral, CEPROSI, was one of the most militant, radical and active in this process,” she said.


Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto Richard Grecco explained to CNA on Wednesday that Michael Casey, the director of Development and Peace has informed him that “each agency and project mentioned in LifeSite is currently being investigated in detail to determine the accuracy of the allegations being made.”  


“I hope and pray that the allegations are false,” Bishop Grecco continued.  “However, if such is not to be the case, then I expect D&P to cease support of projects and sever connections with foreign partners that support or finance abortions.”


Bishop Grecco also informed CNA that he has requested that the National Council devise new policy at its meeting next week that will “direct the International Programs Dept. to make thorough inquiries of all foreign agencies and projects to assure that D&P partners and its projects are in compliance with Catholic values and the Magisterium.”  


“Catholics especially those who generously contribute to D&P need and deserve assurance that D&P efforts around the world comply with Catholic values and teaching,” he concluded.

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Colombian bishops deplore murder of two Redemptorist priests

Bogotá, Colombia, Mar 18, 2009 (CNA) - The Bishops’ Conference of Colombia issued a statement yesterday expressing its sorrow over the murder of two Redemptorist priests on Monday night in the town of La Primavera.

Authorities believe that Father Gabriel Fernando Montoya Tamayo and Jesus Ariel Jimenez were killed on Monday night by a student of the institute that they worked at. News reports indicate that he may have killed the priests to cover up his theft of a large sum of money.

In their statement the bishops “express their sentiment of solidarity with Father Francisco Antonio Ceballos Escobar, Apostolic Pro-Vicar of Puerto Carreno, with the family members of the victims, the Redemptorist missionaries and the communities the two priests served.”

In condemning these crimes, “which once again have shocked the Catholic Church and the entire country,” the bishops said they “trust that the motives and persons responsible for this violent and sacrilegious act, which is an attack on the hopes for reconciliation and peace that the Church has expressed,” will be uncovered.

 The bishops urged all Colombians “to pray for the two murdered priests and ask the Lord, the Prince of Peace, to touch the hearts of those who sow death in Colombia.”

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Pope calls media’s ‘papal solitude’ theme a myth

Aboard the papal plane, Mar 18, 2009 (CNA) - Once Pope Benedict XVI’s flight to Africa was sufficiently underway yesterday, he took questions from reporters accompanying him on his trip. The Holy Father responded to the claim by some in the media that he is alone and isolated in his decisions, by calling it a "myth" and saying "I do not feel alone at all."

The first of several questions put to Benedict XVI concerned a theme being repeated by the news media that the Pope has been isolated by the sometimes controversial decisions he has made, in particular the recent lifting of four Lefebvrist bishops’ excommunications.

The journalist noted that especially since Pope Benedict wrote a letter to world’s Catholic bishops last week, "many newspapers speak of the 'solitude' of the Pope. What is your view on this? Do you really feel alone?"

The Pope replied that he in fact feels just the opposite. "To tell the truth I cannot help laughing a little about this myth of my solitude. I do not feel alone at all. Every day I hold meetings with my closest collaborators, first among them the secretary of State."

"I see all heads of the dicasteries regularly, each day I receive bishops on their ad limina visits: lately all the visits have been bishops, one after another, from Nigeria and from Argentina. We had two plenary assemblies--one of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the other of the Congregation for Clergy. We had some friendly discussions, [we are] a network of friends. Besides, my Mass companions from Germany came recently for a day to talk to me."

"Truly, I am surrounded by friends in a marvelous collaboration with bishops, with my collaborators, and with lay people, and I am grateful for this."

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Cardinal George meets with President Obama to advance ‘common good’

Washington D.C., Mar 18, 2009 (CNA) - Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, met with President Barack Obama on Wednesday afternoon. In their private meeting of about 30 minutes, they discussed the role of the Catholic Church in the U.S. and its relation to the new Administration.

Cardinal George expressed his gratitude for the meeting and expressed his hopes that it will foster fruitful dialogue for the benefit of the common good, a U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) statement reports.

According to the White House, the president and the cardinal discussed a wide range of issues, including “important opportunities for the government and the Catholic Church to continue their long-standing partnership to tackle some of the nation’s most pressing challenges.”

“The President thanked Cardinal George for his leadership and for the contributions of the Catholic Church in America and around the world,” the White House said.

Cardinal George recently warned that the Obama Administration’s review of conscience protection rules for pro-life medical workers risk moving the country towards “despotism.”

Speaking as the head of the U.S. bishops just after Obama’s election this past November, Cardinal George lamented that some Catholics must put aside Catholic teachings in order to be considered full partners in American life.

In particular, Cardinal George singled out the issue of Catholic beliefs on abortion being sidelined.

“The common good can never be adequately incarnated in any society when those waiting to be born can be legally killed at choice… common ground cannot be found by destroying the common good.”

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Pope advises bishops on strengthening Church in Cameroon

Vatican City, Mar 18, 2009 (CNA) -

Two days into his visit to Cameroon, Pope Benedict assessed the state of the Church in the country by meeting with the nation’s 31 bishops. Praising the high number of vocations and the involvement of the laity, the Holy Father offered ways to respond to the erosion of African family values, the spread of religious sects and proper celebration of the liturgy.

On Wednesday morning after celebrating Mass in private at the chapel of the apostolic nunciature, the Pope paid a courtesy visit to the country's president, Paul Biya.

Following his meeting with the president, the Holy Father traveled by car to the Church of Christ-Roi, where he met with the 31 bishops of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon.

The Pope began his speech by recalling that the Church is celebrating the Year of St. Paul and noted that the saint’s example reminds Catholics of the "urgent need to proclaim the Gospel to everyone." This need should cause bishops who have a larger number of priests to share them with poorer dioceses "so that the proclamation of the Gospel should not suffer through lack of ministers," Benedict XVI said.

He also offered advice to bishops in their role of shepherding priests. "The quality of the bond uniting you with the priests, your principal and irreplaceable co-workers, is of the greatest importance. If they see in their Bishop a father and a brother who loves them, listens to them and offers them comfort in their trials, who devotes particular attention to their human and material needs, they are encouraged to carry out their ministry whole-heartedly, worthily and fruitfully."

While on the topic of priests, Pope Benedict shared his joy with the fact that "many young men are presenting themselves as candidates for the priesthood. Nevertheless, he emphasized the need to ensure that "serious discernment" takes place and to facilitate this by giving priority "to the choice and training of formators and spiritual directors."

The Pope pointed to numerous other bright spots within the Cameroonian Church, such as the long history of missionary and religious involvement in the country, the dedication of catechists or teachers of the faith to bringing the Gospel to the local culture and the growing number of lay organizations, particularly those that promote the dignity of women.

The Church in Cameroon also faces "many challenges," Pope Benedict noted, saying that the family is particularly of concern as modern society collides with its values.

He praised the bishops for vigorously defending the "essential values of the African family" and placing a high priority on evangelization with an emphasis on promoting "a better understanding of the nature, dignity and role of marriage, which presupposes an indissoluble and stable union."

Pope Benedict also addressed another area in need of attention – the liturgy. The Pope observed that in general, the "ecclesial celebrations are festive and joyful, manifesting the fervor of the faithful who are happy to be together, in Church, giving praise to the Lord." However, it is "essential that the joy expressed in this way does not obstruct, but rather facilitates dialogue and communion with God," he cautioned.

One phenomenon the Pope noted that is present throughout Africa is the spread of non-Christian religious movements, superstitious practices and relativism. These constitute "an urgent invitation to give new impetus to the formation of children and young adults, especially in university settings and intellectual circles," he said.

The Holy Father drew his message to a close by exhorting the bishops to be defenders of the rights of the poor, to call forth and encourage the exercise of charity, thus caring for the "little ones." With Africa being prone to tribal divisions, he stressed that this calling "leaves no room for ethnocentrism or factionalism, and it contributes towards reconciliation and co-operation among ethnic groups for the good of all."

"So it is the duty of Christians, particularly lay people with social, economic and political responsibilities, to be guided by the Church's social teaching, in order to contribute to the building up of a more just world where everyone can live with dignity."

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Holy Father points to St. Joseph as an example of fatherly sacrifice

Yaounde, Cameroon, Mar 18, 2009 (CNA) -

Before a crowd of bishops, laity and leaders of other Christian faiths, Benedict XVI spoke on Wednesday evening at the Marie Reine des Apôtres Basilica, where he reminded the faithful to look to the example of St. Joseph and his "fatherhood in the daily tasks" of life.

At the basilica to celebrate Vespers or evening prayer, the Pope focused his remarks on the figure of St. Joseph, whose solemnity is March 19.

Explaining fatherhood, Benedict XVI reminded his audience, "To be a father means above all to be at the service of life and growth." He further connected Saint Joseph’s "great devotion" and willingness to "experience persecution, exile and poverty" to his vocation as a father, with his only reward being in Jesus’ presence.

St. Joseph’s example should spur priests to care for the faithful whom they have "spiritually begotten by Baptism and instruction," Pope Benedict said, calling on them to put "the celebration of the Eucharist" at the center of their lives.

He continued speaking to the priests saying they "cannot occupy center stage; [they are] a servant, a humble instrument pointing to Christ, who offers himself in sacrifice for the salvation of the world." This, Benedict taught, is how Origen understood Joseph and Jesus’ relationship to be, "Joseph understood that Jesus was superior to him even as he submitted to him, and, knowing the superiority of his charge, he commanded him with respect and moderation."

Benedict XVI thanked the priests in attendance and acknowledged that "pastoral ministry demands many sacrifices," but is also a "source of great joy" which must be enriched by "trusting in your Bishops."

Calling the consecrated life "a radical imitation of Christ," Benedict XVI expressed his gratitude to the consecrated persons and those "in ecclesial movements" by describing their lives as "significant and indispensable for the life of the Church." He further encouraged them to also look to Saint Joseph who teaches "it is possible to love without possessing" and reminded them to continue to be attentive and "reveal the loving face of God to the poor" and through all the works that they perform.

Concluding his reflections on the vocation of "fatherhood" and the example of Saint Joseph, he taught that the saint "reveals to us the secret of a humanity which dwells in the presence of mystery and is open to that mystery at every moment of everyday life. In Joseph, faith is not separated from action. His faith had a decisive effect on his actions."

We can further learn from Joseph’s fatherhood by reflecting upon how he "stepped aside and left God free to act, placing no obstacles in his way."

"His example helps us to understand that it is only by complete submission to the will of God that we become effective workers in the service of his plan…"

The Holy Father then turned to non-Catholic Christians and spoke about the challenges of unity. In Christ, he said, "we are called to acknowledge one another as brothers and sisters, children of the same Father. During this year dedicated to the Apostle Paul, the great herald of Jesus Christ and the Apostle of the Nations, let us all turn towards him so as to hear and learn ‘the faith and truth’ which are the deepest reasons for the unity of Christ’s disciples."

In closing, the Holy Father offered a prayer to the "spouse of Saint Joseph, the Virgin Mary, "Queen of Apostles." "To her I commend the consecration which each of you has received, as well as your desire to respond ever more faithfully to your calling and to the mission entrusted to you. Finally, I invoke her intercession for your beautiful country."

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Spanish bishops prepare to launch pro-life ad campaign

Madrid, Spain, Mar 18, 2009 (CNA) - The secretary general of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Juan Antonio Martinez Camino, said the bishops’ ad campaign “Protect My Life!,” should remind all Spaniards that “it is necessary to protect life in all of its diversity,” especially the unborn, “who have no voice, but do have a right to life.”

Speaking to Europa Press, Bishop Martinez discussed the ad campaign, which coincides with the Day of the Unborn Child on March 25. “It is necessary to protect life in all of its diversity, but it is ironic that our laws at this time provide less protection to an unborn human—and if some proposals are approved, even less,” than to animals, he said. 

“This is not reasonable and what we want to do with this campaign is to make people think, and ultimately, to look out for the good of all, beginning with those who are weakest. This campaign gives voice to those who have none but who do have the right to life,” the bishop added.

He praised the growing sensitivity to the need to protect the embryos of different animal species and plants that are in extinction, and that this should lead to greater reflection on “the need to protect unborn human beings not less but more.”

“There is still time. There is even still even time to take the better path of protecting the unborn human being, as is necessary and proper to such a fundamental right as the right to life,” the bishop said.

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Chilean bishops defend unborn from promise of presidential candidate

Santiago, Chile, Mar 18, 2009 (CNA) - With a candidate for the Chilean presidency promising to legalize abortion if elected, the president of the Chilean Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Alejandro Goic Karmelic, issued a statement on Tuesday emphasizing that “the teaching of the Church in support of human life from conception to natural death is well-known by Catholics and the public at large.”

Bishop Goic noted that Pope Benedict XVI “teaches us that the Church must make her message attractive not to make the truth relative but in order to present it in dialogue with the multiple points of view in today’s society.”

He recalled that the Holy Father writes in number 28 of Deus Caritas Est: “The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. She cannot and must not replace the State. Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. She has to play her part through rational argument and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper.”

As usual, Bishop Goic pointed out, “during our next Plenary Assembly the bishops will study issues of great concern for us pastors, such as unemployment and the economic crisis, domestic violence, the care of the environment, and the right to life as well.  After the meeting the bishops will probably issue a joint statement on these important issues.”

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Montreal hospital faces $3.5 million lawsuit for keeping disabled newborn alive

Montreal, Canada, Mar 18, 2009 (CNA) - Montreal Children’s Hospital faces a $3.5 million lawsuit for allegedly putting a couple’s severely disabled newborn daughter back on life support without their consent.

Phebe Mantha was born on November 5, 2007 at another Montreal hospital, where she allegedly suffered complications during birth, the National Post reports.

She was transferred to Montreal’s Children’s Hospital, where doctors told her parents Marie-Eve Laurendeau and Stephane Manthe, that she would never be able to breathe or feed on her own.

They were also told that she would be deaf and dumb and would never see or walk.

“They told the couple that Phebe would have very little consciousness of life and doctors recommended to withdraw feeding and breathing support," said the couple’s lawyer, Jean-Pierre Menard.

The parents agreed to withdraw life support, reportedly believing it would avoid their daughter’s significant suffering.

Contrary to the doctors’ prognosis, Phebe was able to breathe on her own. However, she could only accept food through a tube.

According to Menard, the doctors said that Phebe suffered each time she was fed and recommended removing nutrition and giving palliative care to “control any discomfort.”

"The parents said it was the worst decision they ever had to make but they could not see what kind of life Phebe would have,” the couple’s lawyer said. They believed if their child could somehow consent, she would have “agreed to have her life end."

However, the hospital’s ethics committee overturned the decision and ordered Phebe’s feeding to continue. Menard alleged that the committee consulted neither the original doctors nor the parents, despite their obligation to do so.

"The ethics committee attempted to impose their morality on the couple, something they had no right to do," argued Menard, the National Post reports.

A few days after the committee’s decision, when Phebe’s parents learned their daughter was back on life support, Menard said there was little they could do.

“The parents by this time were demolished. They could not go and ask a court to kill their child,” he said.

Though the parents believed Phebe would live her remaining days at the hospital, 10 weeks later they were told that she would have to go to an institution or would have to go home.

Laurendeau was given training and equipment needed to keep Phebe alive, but had to quit work because it was impossible to obtain care for the girl.

According to Menard, the parents attend Phebe 10 to 20 times a day, feeding her and suctioning her airways and stomach. The child requires a high level of care because she is in danger of catching a life-threatening illness.

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