Archive of March 26, 2010

Life with Down Syndrome baby 'normal and beautiful,' says blogger

Naples, Fla., Mar 26, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Professional photographer and blogger Kelle Hampton recently discussed her experience in giving birth to a baby with Down Syndrome in January telling CNA that life for her and many other families with a disabled child is “beautiful and normal.”

In an interview with the online ParentDish on Tuesday, Hampton recalled how her blog, “Enjoying the Small Things,” received 2,000 hits for her Jan. 29 post which candidly detailed her emotional experience in giving birth to her daughter, Nella Cordelia.

“I knew the minute I saw her that she had Down Syndrome and nobody else did,” Hampton wrote in her January blog post after giving birth. “I held her and cried. Cried and panned the room to meet eyes with anyone that would tell me she didn't have it. I held her and looked at her like she wasn't my baby and tried to take it in.”

“And all I can remember of these moments is her face,” Hampton noted. “I will never forget my daughter in my arms, opening her eyes over and over ... she locked eyes with mine and stared ... bore holes into my soul. Love me. Love me. I'm not what you expected, but oh, please love me.”

Hampton recounted how she and her husband had no indicators that Nella had Down Syndrome before her birth.

“My experience, although painful, is still beautiful to me,” Hampton told ParentDish, “and having my beautiful, perfect daughter placed in my arms was still a reward and holding her and loving her took the pain away so much more quickly than if I would have had to deal with the news for 20 weeks prior.”

“I wouldn't have done anything differently if we were to have found out Nella had D.S. during the pregnancy,” Hampton told CNA in a separate interview on Thursday. Considering that many parents who undergo testing for Down Syndrome are given the option of aborting their pre-born babies if the results are positive, Hampton said that “although I do not judge anyone who has different views than mine, I would ask anyone considering termination to at least talk to other families with children with Down syndrome.”

“It has been such a comfort for me to see pictures of children and talk to other parents, realizing how normal and beautiful their lives are,” she underscored. “Nothing much changes but for the addition of a little more love and the acceptance of a few more challenges, but we make that same commitment when we welcome any child, regardless of special needs.”

Kelle's birth story can be found at:

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Settlement reached in free speech dispute between Illinois city and pro-lifers

Aurora, Ill., Mar 26, 2010 (CNA) - The city of Aurora, Illinois has settled a lawsuit alleging it violated the First Amendment rights of protesters of a Planned Parenthood abortion facility. Protesters had complained of conflicting legal advice from city officials and threats of mass arrests from the local police chief.

At one protest in 2007, police arrived on the scene with an armored paddy wagon and constant video surveillance, which protesters said was intimidating.

The settlement requires the city to amend two ordinances claimed to be unconstitutional, mandates First Amendment training for city police and establishes a grievance process to handle disputes between protesters and city officials, a press release from the Chicago-based Thomas More Society reports.

The Planned Parenthood facility opened in 2007 after covertly gaining approval for construction under the subsidiary name Gemini Office Development. It attracted over 1,000 protesters after citizens learned the building presented as an office complex was in fact an abortion clinic.

Peter Breen, Executive Director of the Thomas More Society, said the settlement signals a “successful end” to the lawsuit intended to protect the rights of those who pray at protest at abortion facilities in the city.

The provisions of the settlement require the removal of signs barring any “picketing or protesting.” The settlement establishes protections for pro-life individuals to use public sidewalks and parkways. It also bars the arrests of protesters who use the private access road near the facility. They will not be arrested without a property owner’s direction.

For the sake of public safety, the city will take necessary steps to ensure a public sidewalk is constructed along the access road.

Signs with graphic content may be used in demonstrations, with appropriate warning signs displayed to alert passersby.

“Early on, Judge Virginia Kendall expressed her hope that the parties would reach an agreement that could serve as a model for the rest of the country,” Breen continued. “We believe this settlement agreement will become such a model.”

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White House Easter Egg Roll ticket giveaway excludes private schools, parents say

Washington D.C., Mar 26, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The White House has announced it has reserved 3,000 free tickets for the annual White House Easter Egg Roll for Washington, D.C.-area public and charter school students, but some parents of private or parochial schoolchildren are questioning why their children were not eligible for the reserved tickets.

The annual Easter Egg Roll will take place from 7:45 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. on Monday, April 5 on the South Lawn of the White House. The South Lawn will be opened to children ages 12 and under along with their families to enjoy the egg roll as well as sports, cooking classes, live musical performances, and storytelling.

According to the White House, the event’s theme is “Ready, Set, Go!” It is tied to First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative targeting childhood obesity.

The 3,000 reserved tickets for the event will be distributed to students at 11 D.C. public schools and several schools in Virginia and Maryland, reports. Children of other schools may attend the event only if they have registered for the online lottery system through which another 27,000 free tickets will be distributed.

At the Tuesday press conference where U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty announced the ticket giveaway, the father of a parochial school student asked why private and parochial schools were excluded.

“These tickets are from the White House to public schools, and we’re appreciative, but there may be other things unrelated to this press conference,” Fenty responded, according to “That’s a great question.”

The lottery for the 27,000 tickets is now closed and its results were announced on March 4. The application deadline was Feb. 28.

Robert Brannum, whose son Nicholas attends St. John’s College High School in D.C., told he thinks the 3,000 tickets should be available to all students.

“The White House is a public building,” he said. “The tickets are essentially being paid for with public dollars. So it should be open to everyone, not just going to select categories of students.”

Brannum, who attended and taught at D.C. public schools, said parents of private schooled, parochial schooled, and home schooled children pay taxes and “should be able to participate in some of the benefits of being citizens of the District of Columbia.”

The White House Easter Egg Roll is a tradition dating back to 1878.

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Diocese of Columbus launches Facebook application to encourage vocations

Columbus, Ohio, Mar 26, 2010 (CNA) - The Office of Vocations for the Diocese of Columbus has hired a marketing firm to develop and manage a Facebook application called Face Forward Columbus to help Catholic youth in central Ohio hear their vocation to the priesthood, religious life or marriage.

“Our responsibility is to preach the Good News wherever people are gathered,” said Fr. Jeff Coning, Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Columbus. “Kids are now gathering out on cyberspace, making it the new town square. We need to be in that town square interacting.”

The Office of Vocations recently hired Dublin, Ohio-based MJ2 Marketing to design, develop, and monitor the page. According to the diocese, it intends to reach 30,000 youth.

The page, described as a “dynamic, front-end gaming application,” has attracted more than 1,000 fans in its first 40 days.

Launched in December 2009, Face Forward is intended as a place where Catholic youth can gather to discuss real-life issues while exploring their faith and its relevance in their lives.

“We wanted them to be able to chat, listen, learn and interact with each other—and also become aware and more involved in their Catholic faith,” said Megan James, principal owner of MJ2 Marketing.

“We see kids from Watterson, Bishop Ready, Newark Catholic, and all over Ohio interacting. They are asking homework questions, discussing service projects, or the latest episode of ‘24.’ It is a place where kids feel comfortable to explore their Catholic faith together,” James added.

Each month a featured seminarian from the Pontifical College Josephinum posts his comments on the wall, contributes engaging video content and adds his own twists to a faith quiz and his own iPod playlist.

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Pope discusses protecting life with president of Guatemala

Vatican City, Mar 26, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Pope was smiling and looked rested during his audience with the President of Guatemala, Alvaro Colom Caballeros, on Friday morning. The discussions centered on regional issues, including the sancity of life.

The Vatican said that the president's conversation with the Holy Father, and later Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone and secretary for the Secretariat of State Archbishop Dominque Mamberti, was highlighted by comments on the "good relations" the Church enjoys with the State in Guatemala and the contribution of the Church to the nation's development.

They also exchanged perspectives on international issues, with the challenges posed by poverty, organized crime and emigration being of particular interest.

Additionally, the importance of promoting life from conception until death and of education were touched on during the discussions.

Following the private, 20-minute long visit with the Pope, the two leaders exchanged gifts. The Pope gave President Colom Caballeros a gold medal of his pontificate, while he received two jade figures, one an eight-inch tall Mayan pyramid of the jaguar and the other a figure from Mayan mythology created in northern Guatemala.

The president was accompanied by his Minister of Foreign Affairs as well as secretaries from his staff during his visit with the Holy Father in the Papal Library.

The meeting took place just after the third and final Lenten meditation offered by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa in the Redemptoris Mater chapel.

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Rep. Stupak: Speaker Pelosi had extra health care votes ‘in her pocket’

Washington D.C., Mar 26, 2010 (CNA) - The health care reform bill would have passed the House without the votes of Rep. Bart Stupak’s pro-life Democrats because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “always carries a number of votes in her pocket,” Stupak told CNA in a Thursday phone interview.

The Michigan Democrat explained that by opting for the executive order, pro-life Democrats believe they ensured the legislation was “somewhat restrictive” towards abortion funding.

“Speakers never bring a bill to the floor, unless they have the votes. And they always have few in reserve,” Stupak revealed, describing this as a “common tactic” that was used in the defeat of the Dornan Amendment in a funding bill earlier this year.

“The Speaker always carries a number of votes in her pocket,” he said, meaning that some members who voted ‘no’ would have voted ‘yes’ if needed.

“I had a number of members who thanked us after because they could vote no.”

Rep. Stupak said he thought the votes available for Sunday’s vote totaled 222.

The Congressman explained the political tactic in response to a question about how he would respond to pro-life advocates who felt betrayed by his vote for the legislation.

He suggested these advocates were “not aware of the legislative process,” explaining that there were only 45 “life votes” in the Senate.

“Our group of pro-life Democrats stood up, we passed the Stupak Amendment with 240 votes, we pushed it all the way to the last moment.

“The Speaker could have passed this bill without us, and then you would have a bill laden with federal government funding for abortion, especially federally funded health centers.

“So now we have a bill that is somewhat restrictive, not as much as we like. And we have an executive order that will enforce the Hyde provisions in this new law,” he continued, characterizing the order as an “ironclad commitment.”

According to Stupak, an important colloquy he had with Rep. Waxman (D-Calif.) on the House floor established Congressional intent because when there is a court challenge, “and I’m sure there will be,” the courts will look to that for guidance.

He asked his critics to “look at the executive order, and read it.”

In Rep. Stupak’s view, securing President Obama’s executive order on abortion funding was “absolutely” a success for the pro-life cause and for the country.

In the course of the interview, CNA asked Rep. Stupak about remarks he reportedly made accusing the U.S. bishops and pro-life groups of hypocrisy.

The Daily Caller had reported that Rep. Stupak said he suspected groups such as the U.S. bishops’ conference (USCCB), the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) and others were “just using the life issue to try to bring down health care reform.”

“Did they want to protect the sanctity of life or did they want to protect health care?” the Daily Caller reported Stupak as saying.

The Congressman initially denied this was an accurate account, but then commented further.

He told CNA he questioned whether some of the pro-life groups “were more interested in protecting the sanctity of life or defeating health care.”

Asked if he included the U.S. bishops in that, he replied “not necessarily.”

Since the time he made remarks questioning pro-life groups’ motives, he said, the U.S. bishops’ most recent statement has led him to believe they were still interested in passing health care.

“National Right to Life, I don’t think they ever were. I think they were more interested in defeating the health care bill, no matter what it costs.

“But at the time I made that statement, yeah, the way I explained it, that’s true.”

He stated that both NRLC and the bishops wanted statutory language to “protect the sanctity of life in the bill.”

“So do I, that was the Stupak Amendment, we passed that in the House,” the lawmaker told CNA.

“The reality is, in Senate you need 60 votes, we have 45 pro-life votes, as I’ve told both the Catholic bishops and Right to Life.

“Help me find 15 more votes, and we’ll pass your statutory language. Until that time, we cannot. Therefore we have to do all we can to protect the sanctity of life, and that is why the executive order, the colloquy, and the language of the bill will, to my mind, protect the sanctity of life.”

He quoted the executive order, which says it “maintains current Hyde Amendment restrictions governing abortion policy and extends those restrictions to the newly created health insurance exchanges.”

CNA asked whether he thought the bishops’ actions in the health care debate helped secure the executive order. “No, because they wouldn’t support it,” Stupak replied. The fate of the Stupak Amendment was “decided in December,” he added.

For the bishops or any others to seek statutory language and not agree to an executive order, is “pie in the sky,” in Rep. Stupak’s opinion.

“Find me 15 more votes. I’ll be happy to run the language, I’ll personally walk it over to the Senate. But you need 15 more votes, realistically. There comes a point in time you’ve got to be honest and say ‘here’s what we can and can’t do.”

The Democratic Congressman also charged that 41 GOP Senators’ strict commitment to the Byrd Rule prevented the Stupak Amendment from being reconsidered. That rule bars the use of the legislative reconciliation process to enact policy changes.

“On March 4 Senate Republicans circulated a letter committed to opposing any policy changes made through reconciliation,” Stupak told CNA.

“Any policy change. That would have been my amendment. I called a number of Republican Senators, and some of the leadership, and they said they would not allow even a joint resolution on Hyde language to come to the floor to a vote.”

Asked to respond to Rep. Trent Franks’ (R-Ariz.) charge that he fell for a “false solution” and was perhaps “deceived” by the administration, Stupak said “I totally disagree. I’m not going to respond to every personal charge.”

He then reiterated his Wednesday statement’s contrast between what he saw as an enthusiastic pro-life reaction to President Bush’s 2007 executive order on embryonic stem cell funding and the critical reaction to President Obama’s new order on abortion funding.

“I don’t think we missed anything,” he stated. “I think we got the job done.”

While there may be future opportunities to fix the legislation on abortion, he said, he did not indicate he saw flaws in the application of the abortion funding provisions.

The executive order has just gone into effect, he explained, saying he has not heard “any reports of any federal clinics or anyone performing abortions.”

If he is shown something indicating otherwise, he said, “let’s take a look at it.”

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Possible JP II miracle has not yet been examined, clarifies Vatican official

Vatican City, Mar 26, 2010 (CNA/Europa Press) - The prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, explained this week that the possible miraculous healing of a French nun attributed to the intercession of John Paul II has not yet been examined by the Vatican Medical Commission.

Cardinal Saraiva made his statements to a group of reporters in Rome in reference to reports published a month ago in Poland claiming that the Vatican commission had dismissed the miracle supposedly experienced by Sister Marie Simon Pierre.  The cardinal said the miracle could not have been rejected “because the doctors have not examined it yet.”

The nun had been suffering from Parkinson's, a degenerative disease of the nervous system, since 2001, but has testified that she was cured in the night of June 2, 2005 after praying to John Paul II, whose final years were also marked by the disease.

“All I can tell you is that I was sick and now I am cured.  It is for the church to say and to recognize whether it is a miracle,” Sr. Marie Simon Pierre told reporters in 2007.

The procedure for approving a miracle through the intercession of a specific person involves first “that it be approved by a Medical Commission, which certifies that the event is scientifically unexplainable and that the healing is instantaneous, complete and lasting,” the cardinal explained.

Before beginning the final examination, “the Congregation usually gets the opinion of two doctors beforehand” and keeps the information confidential. However, in the case of the French nun, one of the doctors expressed doubt and “the news came out,” the cardinal said.  He added that even so, this does not mean that the miracle has been rejected, but rather, as is usually the case, the Congregation will ask for a third opinion before beginning the official examination.

If the evaluation by the doctors is positive, the miracle will be evaluated by a Theological Commission, which will study whether or not the event is due to the intercession of John Paul II.  Then, it must pass analysis by the 30 members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, who are like the “Parliament” of the Congregation.

Asked if this might delay the date of John Paul II’s beatification, Cardinal Saraiva said, “It’s not a case of delaying because a date was never set in the first place.”

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Chilean bishops announce project to bring laughter to earthquake victims

Santiago, Chile, Mar 26, 2010 (CNA) - The bishops of Chile have announced a new campaign sponsored by Caritas Chile that will bring happiness and laughter to the country's earthquake victims through a series of performances throughout the country.

More than 30 comedians have already joined in the effort.

The first show will take place Wednesday in Santiago.  People are encouraged to bring non-perishable items that will be distributed to those in need.

Bishop Manuel Camilo Vial of Temuco and president of Caritas Chile, together with Chilean comedian Juan Carlos “Palta” Melendez announced the tour and noted that joy and good humor are necessary for those suffering at this time.

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Pope has no further ties to case of abusive German priest, repeats Fr. Lombardi

Vatican City, Mar 26, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said Friday that nothing has changed, responding to a New York Times report that claims to reveal new information about how then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was more connected to the handling of the case of a sexually abusive priest than was previously believed.

Earlier on Friday morning, the Archdiocese of Munich also refuted any further links or new information concerning the assignment of the known pedophile, Fr. Peter Hullerman, to another parish in 1980.

The Times reports that when then-Cardinal Ratzinger was Archbishop of Munich he was copied on a memo relating the information that Father Peter Hullerman would be placed in a parish just after starting "medical-psychotherapeutic" treatment for his involvement in child sex abuse.

After accusations from three different sets of parents that Fr. Hullerman had molested their sons, it was requested in Dec. 1979 that he be transferred from the Diocese of Essen to the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising to receive psychiatric help. The Pope served as the Archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982.

A memo was released after a Jan. 15, 1980 meeting during which a request for room and board for the Essen-based priest was approved with the words "Request is granted," the Times said.

According to the same report, "the minutes of the meeting include no references to the actual discussion that day," but they claim the document shows that Cardinal Ratzinger approved the transfer of the priest and was kept informed about the reassignment of the priest to another parish.

As their own account reads, "What part he played in the decision making, and how much interest he showed in the case of the troubled priest ... remains unclear."

The article also quoted the defense of Fr. Lorenz Wolf, judicial vicar at the Munich Archdiocese, who told them that it was a "routine" memo which was “unlikely to have landed on the archbishop’s desk." However, he added that the possibility that Cardinal Ratzinger had read it could not be ruled out.

On March 13 of this year, then-vicar general Msgr. Gerhard Gruber took full responsibility for the "grave error" of reassigning the priest to a parish.

In a statement from the Holy See's Press Office on Friday afternoon, Fr. Lombardi backed a statement released earlier in the day by the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising concerning the matter. The archdiocesan statement says: "The article in the New York Times contains no new information beyond that which the archdiocese has already communicated concerning the then archbishop's knowledge of the situation of Father H."

"Thus," writes Fr. Lombardi, "the archdiocese confirms the position, according to which the then-archbishop had no knowledge of the decision to reassign Father H. to pastoral activities in a parish.

"It rejects any other version of events as mere speculation."

He also repeats the original statement from the archdiocese, underlining that "The then vicar general, Msgr. Gerhard Gruber, has assumed full responsibility for his own erroneous decision to reassign Father H. to pastoral activity."

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Salvadoran government asks forgiveness for death of Archbishop Romero

San Salvador, El Salvador, Mar 26, 2010 (CNA) - The president of El Salvador, Mauricio Funes, recently apologized for the March 24, 1980 murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador. The president noted that the death squads who carried out the murder acted in collaboration with state agents. 

“In  these circumstances and in my capacity as president of the country, I ask forgiveness in the name of the Salvadoran State for this murder perpetrated 30 years ago,” Funes declared in an official declaration.

Funes has asked pardon from the family of Archbishop Romero, expressing his “sincerest condolences” and unconditional support “in the struggle to clarify the truth.”  Gaspar Romero, the late archbishop’s brother, accepted Funes' gesture.

The president acknowledged that Archbishop Romero “was a victim of the illegal violence perpetrated by a death squad.”

“These kinds of illegally armed groups carried out widespread terror among the civil population during those fateful years, leaving behind thousands of victims.  These death squads unfortunately acted with the protection, collaboration or participation of state agents," he explained.

Funes noted that the members of the “violent group” that carried out the killing “have already been identified by international investigators, both from the U.N. and from the Inter-American Human Rights Commission.”  “Our government has accepted the legal validity of these reports before the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, and thus our official recognition of the truth is unquestionable.”

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Legion publicly apologizes for 'reprehensible actions' of its founder

Rome, Italy, Mar 26, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - In a communique released on Thursday, the top leaders of the Legionaries of Christ acknowledged and asked forgiveness for the “reprehensible actions” of their founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel. Jim Fair, communications director for the Legion, told CNA on Friday that the communique was issued during the territorial directors annual meeting in Rome after a discussion on the current state and future of the order.

The March 25 statement's recognition of the allegations against the order's founder comes nearly four years after the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith completed a canonical investigation in 2006. Though the scandals surrounding Fr. Maciel have been alluded to by leaders within the movement in previous documents, homilies and conferences, the recent statement is the first one to be jointly written and signed by the all the territorial directors of the movement.

“We had thought and hoped that the accusations brought against our founder were false and unfounded, since they conflicted with our experience of him personally and his work,” reads Thursday's statement. “However, on May 19, 2006, the Holy See’s Press Office issued a communique as the conclusion of a canonical investigation that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) had begun in 2004.”

“At that time, the CDF reached sufficient moral certainty to impose serious canonical sanctions related to the accusations made against Fr Maciel, which included the sexual abuse of minor seminarians. Therefore, though it causes us consternation, we have to say that these acts did take place.”

“We later came to know that Fr Maciel had fathered a daughter in the context of a prolonged and stable relationship with a woman, and committed other grave acts,” the communique added. “After that, two other people surfaced, blood brothers who say they are his children from his relationship with another woman.”

“It has taken us time to come to terms with these facts regarding his life,” the leaders said. “For many, especially the victims, this time has been too long and very painful. We have not always been able, or found the way to reach out to everyone in the way we should have, and in fact wanted to. Hence the need we feel to make this communique.”

“We ask all those who accused him in the past to forgive us, those whom we did not believe or were incapable of giving a hearing to, since at the time we could not imagine that such behavior took place. If it turns out that anyone culpably cooperated in his misdeeds we will act according to the principles of Christian justice and charity, holding these people responsible for their actions.”

The Legion of Christ became the subject of an Apostolic Visitation after the double life of its founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel, came to light. The five bishops who were appointed to carry out the Apostolic Visitation of the Legion of Christ, which began on July 15 of last year, will present their final report to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone on April 30, after eight months of work.

Looking ahead to the end of the visitation, the Legion leaders wrote, “We will embrace with filial obedience whatever indications and recommendations the Holy Father gives us as a result of the apostolic visitation, and we are committed to putting them into practice.”

“The past months have helped us to reflect on our identity and mission, and they have also moved us to review various aspects of our institutional life, humbly and in all simplicity,” they added.

The communique concluded by listing multiple “resolutions” that the group will now adhere to, including honoring the “truth” about their history, continuing “to offer safety” for minors, improving cooperating with bishops and other institutions in the Church and redoubling their “dedication to their mission of offering Christ's Gospel to as many people as possible.”

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Bishops of Chile announce youth prayer service for quake victims

Santiago, Chile, Mar 26, 2010 (CNA) - The Chilean bishops announced this week that a special service led by young people will be held in Santiago to pray and express solidarity with all affected by the 8.8 earthquake that struck the country in February.

The event will be held on Saturday, March 27 at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on top of Mount San Cristobal and is open to all youth groups of the Archdiocese of Santiago and anyone wishes to pray for the country.

Brothers from the Taize Community will lead the prayer service.  The French community also plans to meet in Chile in December 2010 as part of the activities the Church is organizing for the country's bicentennial celebrations.

Brother Pedro of the Taize Community remarked that the timing of the prayer service is a perfect way to invite young people “to participate in the celebrations of the Paschal Mystery, which will take place in all parishes this week.”

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More than 70,000 attend WYD meeting with Pope in St. Peter’s Square

Vatican City, Mar 26, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Thursday evening’s celebration of World Youth Day (WYD) 2010 at the Vatican drew a staggering number of young people to the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica. For nearly an hour, the Holy Father held the attention of the crowd, teaching that love is the key to inheriting eternal life and that life is meant to be lived “all the way.”

Entering the square aboard the popemobile to the light of thousands of yellow and white prayer candles, the Holy Father took the stage just after 8:30 p.m. to orchestral music accompanied by a chorus and chants of “Ben-e-det-to,” which is “Benedict” in Italian as well as “blessed.”

This year the World Youth Day celebration is being held on the diocesan level, but it will be held on an international level in Madrid in 2011.

After addresses by the Cardinal Vicar of Rome and a young girl welcoming the Pope and thanking him for his presence, the Holy Father was asked some questions regarding the theme of this year’s 25th anniversary message for WYD2010, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

Before responding, he told the multitude of 75,000, “Thank you from (the bottom of) my heart for your presence, for this marvelous witness of faith, to want to live in communion with Jesus, and your enthusiasm to follow Jesus and live well.”

The Holy Father went on to teach that the keys to living well and attaining eternal life are held in the Ten Commandments, the "rules of love" through which we are taught to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves.

The Commandments, he said, "indicate the way of love with these essential points: the family, as foundation of society; life, to be respected as a gift from God; the order of sexuality, as the relation between man and woman and, finally, the truth."

God has a "precise project" for each person to find this "way of love," said the Pope, and that regardless of one's vocation, whether it is to be a scholar or a laborer, "everything is important in the eyes of God: it's beautiful if it is lived ‘all the way’ with that love that truly redeems the world."

“We ask the Lord to help us to find his will and to live it with joy!” exclaimed the Pope.

Offering advice on how to advance along the "way," Benedict XVI listed, "listening, responding, entering into believing communities, communion with Christ in the sacraments ... finally, doing, carrying out the words of faith that they may become the strength of my life.”

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Legion director general hopes apology will help movement's future

Rome, Italy, Mar 26, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Fr. Álvaro Corcuera, general director of the Legionaries of Christ, wrote a letter to Legionaries and members of the Regnum Christi Movement on March 25, explaining the intent behind a communique that was issued on Thursday that acknowledged and asked forgiveness for the “reprehensible actions” of their founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel. In the letter, Fr. Corcuera said that leaders of the order hope to “close this chapter of history and open a new one.”

Jim Fair, communications director for the Legionaries told CNA on Friday that the communique was issued during the territorial directors annual meeting in Rome.

“It has been a very painful time for everyone, even traumatic,” Fr. Corcuera wrote on Thursday. “The sudden uncovering of some facets of our founder’s life that were so removed from what we lived by his side, was a totally unexpected surprise for us all. We were not prepared for it.”

“In recent days,” he added, “I have been thinking through all of this with the general counselors and the territorial directors. Together, we have seen that once we have all read and assimilated this page in the life of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi, our task is to take a step forward, individually and as an institution, to close this chapter of our history and open a new one.”

Fr. Corcuera also referenced the Apostolic Visitation of the Legion of Christ, which began on July 15 of last year, and will conclude with a meeting with the Vatican's Secretary of State on  April 30. The five bishops who were appointed to the visitation will then present their final report after eight months of work.

“It is true that we are still awaiting the results of the apostolic visitation, whose operative phase has ended,” noted Fr. Corcuera. “Undoubtedly, our attitude is one of complete openness, and we will embrace supernaturally and with docility whatever the Holy Father sees fit to ask of us. But until that moment comes, which is presumably still some months away, we want to get moving, so to speak, to set out again on our way with faith and humility, and throw ourselves back into working with all our ardor in the mission the Lord has given to us at the service of the Church.”

The communique, said Fr. Corcuera, “besides what it means in itself, is also in function of this goal of institutional re-launching.”

“We have tried to make every decision and take every step in the presence of God, trying to discern how Jesus Christ would act,” he wrote, adding, “But I am not infallible. I don’t know if I got it right. For certain, not in everything.

“The other directors also may very well have committed some mistakes among countless wise actions. But what is without doubt is that God can write straight with crooked lines. In spite of the great limitations and defects of his instruments, God has guided our trajectory in the past, and he will continue to guide us in the future.”

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