Archive of April 14, 2010

Prop. 8 backers unsurprised as failed petition drive stalls repeal effort

Sacramento, Calif., Apr 14, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Backers of an initiative to redefine marriage in California have failed to gather enough signatures for the November ballot, an outcome which did not surprise a leader with the Proposition 8 campaign. Looking forward to a 2012 rematch on the issue, he says Californians’ support for marriage is deep but continued vigilance is warranted.

The failed petition initiative sought to overturn Prop. 8, which itself overturned a California Supreme Court decision that required the state to recognize same-sex “marriages.”

More than 694,000 signatures of registered voters were required by Monday, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Initiative organizers would not disclose how many signatures they gathered.

"It wasn't close enough to submit signatures to county registrars," said Sean Bohac, a leading advisor for Prop. 8 opponent Restore Equality 2010. The group raised about $10,550.

Supporters of Prop. 8 said the failure shows Californians support the present law.

"Even the minority of Californians who voted against Prop. 8 have accepted that the majority rules and moved on to other issues,” Brian Brown, executive director of Prop. 8 backer the National Organization for Marriage, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Opponents of Prop. 8 have debated whether to push for its repeal in 2010 or 2012, with the most influential groups choosing to wait.

A recent poll conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California claimed that for the first time more voters in the state support same-sex “marriage” than oppose it, with 50 percent in favor and 45 percent in opposition.

CNA spoke about the petition drive with Jeff Flint, campaign manager for Prop. 8.

He said he was “not surprised” by the petition failure.

Though he did not know how many signatures appeal backers had gathered, he said there were “not that many.”

“Most of the mainstream pro-gay marriage groups had already abandoned the 2010 effort, because they knew it was doomed to failure.”

Asked about Prop. 8 opponents’ plans for 2012, he said supporters “welcome the opportunity and challenge.”

“The voters of California have a depth of support for the institution of marriage that will sustain through the challenge of gay marriage activists, regardless of when or where. Marriage has won in every state in which the voters get their say,” Flint said.

Responding to the Public Policy Institute of California poll, he said no public polls had Prop. 8 over 50 percent either.

“So we don't give too much credibility to new polling saying there has been any significant shift in public opinion to support gay marriage.”

If opponents of Prop. 8 thought they had the support they would be moving forward this year, Flint argued.

“The fact that they did not put the measure on the ballot this year shows that they do not have confidence they would win.”

CNA asked about claims that older opponents of same-sex “marriage” would be replaced by younger voters who favor it.

“The opposition's argument about the inevitability of gay marriage due to demographic trends is vastly overblown,” Flint replied. “The fact is that if we based public policy on 18-25 year-olds, we would have vastly different public policy in a whole host of issues.”

He noted that younger voters are generally unmarried, childless, and often don’t work or pay taxes.

“Most have not even voted yet, even though they can,” he continued.

“As they age, they marry, they have kids, they become concerned about the values that society teaches their own children, and they become more conservative on issues such as marriage.”

Nonetheless, Flint advised supporters of marriage to “be vigilant.”

“We should push back against the popular culture that seeks to spread a message that gay marriage is just fine, with no consequences for the institution, society at large, and especially children,” he said, advocating education about marriage as “the very foundation of society.”

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Voice of the Good Shepherd should be heard in priests, says Pope

Vatican City, Apr 14, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Pope Benedict XVI dedicated his weekly catechesis to the priestly duty of teaching the faith at today's General Audience. He told an estimated 35,000 people in St. Peter's Square that the duties of the priest, who acts in the person of Jesus, often put him in opposition to the popular culture.

Noting that the series of meditations in the general audiences during the Easter Season will all focus on the subject of the ordained ministry, the Pope used today's address to specifically focus on the priest's duty to teach, which is "so important for our times."

Explaining that priests act in the person of Christ and represent him, the Holy Father presented the three "munera," or duties, of teaching, sanctifying and governing. In exercising these three duties, priests carry out "the actions of the Risen Christ," the Pope taught.

The function of the priest, acting "in persona Christi," is to make the light of the word of God present in the world, he continued. And, it is not on himself that the priest is called to preach "but Jesus Christ and his revelation of the Father," the Holy Father said.

"This teaching, far from an abstract doctrine, is a living proclamation of the person of Christ, who is himself Truth, the source of our joy, peace and spiritual rebirth."

The whole life of the priest must therefore provide a testimony to truth of his message, "in harmony with the apostolic tradition and often in opposition to the spirit of the dominant culture," Benedict told the crowd.

Concluding his catechesis, the Holy Father reminded the faithful of the great task of the priest, "to be announcers of His Word, of the Truth that saves; being his voice in the world to bring that which is useful for the true good of the souls and the authentic path of faith."

The "voice of the Good Shepherd" should always be recognizable in a priest, he said.

Following the catechesis, the Holy Father sent out greetings in 10 languages, including words of comfort in Polish for the loss of their president and those who accompanied him. During the Italian greeting, he called for solidarity with the Chinese people after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck the city of Gyegu in the Qinghai Province and killed 400 people on Wednesday morning.

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Vatican spokesman: Atheist campaign to arrest Pope is publicity stunt

Vatican City, Apr 14, 2010 (CNA) - Dismissing an atheist campaign to arrest Pope Benedict XVI as “a stunt to get public attention,” Vatican spokesman Fr. Frederico Lombardi has said the Pope’s September visit to Britain will go forward. One campaign leader has in the past suggested that a Catholic upbringing is worse than many forms of child abuse.

The campaign, led by atheists Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, claims the Pope has committed crimes against humanity. UK human rights lawyers are preparing a brief against Benedict, claiming he has covered up sex abuse in the Catholic Church, ANSA reports.

Atheist polemicist Christopher Hitchens has argued that the Vatican is not a legal state and Pope Benedict cannot claim diplomatic immunity.

For his part, Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist and leading atheist, said he hoped to raise public consciousness “to the point where the British government will find it very awkward indeed to go ahead with the Pope's visit.”

At the press conference Tuesday, Fr. Frederico Lombardi described the effort to arrest the Pope as “original.”

"For the moment it appears to be merely a stunt to get public attention,” he continued. "It would be very curious for the Pope to be arrested during a state visit."

Dawkins’ past statements suggest a wider agenda. In an essay titled “Religion's Real Child Abuse,” posted on his website in 2006, he speculated that instructing young people in the Catholic faith was worse than many kinds of physical abuse.

Discussing how sexual abuse can range in severity, he recounted a mild instance of molestation he suffered at nine years old.

For him the incident was “a disagreeable sensation” and produced a mixture of embarrassment and revulsion. However, in his view it was “certainly not in the same league as being led to believe that I, or someone I knew, might go to everlasting fire.”

“Odious as the physical abuse of children by priests undoubtedly is, I suspect that it may do them less lasting damage than the mental abuse of bringing them up Catholic in the first place,” Dawkins wrote.

According to ANSA, security will be tightened for the papal visit to Britain after victims’ groups and secularists announced a series of high-profile and potentially provocative events.

However, Fr. Lombardi said there were “no particular security concerns” about the Pope’s visit to Malta this coming weekend. He reported that the Pope does not plan to discuss the abuse scandals in Malta, but will address immigration and values.

According to Fr. Lombardi, Pope Benedict is willing to meet with victims of abuse privately, as he has done during visits to Australia and the United States.

While media reports have tried to connect Pope Benedict with cover-ups of sexual abuse, critics have found significant factual inaccuracies and omissions in them. His defenders point to his actions against sex abuse as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

During his Sept. 16-19 visit to Britain, the Pope will meet Queen Elizabeth and beatify renowned convert and theologian, Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman.

The pontiff’s visit to the United Kingdom will be the first state visit by a Pope. The 1982 visit of Pope John Paul II was pastoral in nature.

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New Nebraska law requires abortionists to evaluate risks for mother

Lincoln, Neb., Apr 14, 2010 (CNA) - Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman has signed a bill into law that will require a physician to conduct a risk evaluation before performing an abortion on a woman to determine physical, psychological and other forms of risks for the mother.

Bill LB594, was introduced by Sen. Cap Dierks, a non-partisan legislator from Ewing. Passed on April 12 by a 40 to 9 vote, it requires abortion providers to evaluate the risk factors for patients at least one hour before the abortion.

According to the Nebraska Unicameral Update, risks can include physical, psychological, emotional, demographic and situational factors. Doctors are required to discuss the risks with the patient based on research from peer-reviewed journals. Violations entitle the patient to a civil legal action.

Pro-life advocates praised the bill.

"We've worked on this bill for quite a long time so we're excited to see it pass," Ann Marie Bowen, President of Nebraskans United for Life said, according to KPTM.

"This is what we need to do until we can eradicate abortion altogether by abortionists who care less about their patients' trauma."

Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Julie Stauch claimed the bill created barriers to women and was “ideologically driven,” while the organization's Chief Operations Officer Penny Dickey claimed the legislation was “cumbersome” and “confusing.”

Governor Dave Heineman signed the risk factor evaluation bill and the Abortion Pain Prevention Act, which bars abortions at 20 weeks, on Tuesday afternoon.

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After coal mine disaster, West Virginia bishop calls for better miner safety

Wheeling, W.V., Apr 14, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Following the disastrous explosion that killed 29 miners at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia, Bishop Michael J. Bransfield has called for more measures to ensure safety for miners. He also reflected upon how Christians should understand the tragedy.

His comments came in a Sunday homily at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling, West Virginia. According to excerpts provided by the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, he connected the disaster with the Sunday Mass readings about St. Thomas’ doubts about Jesus Christ’s Resurrection.

“In Thomas’ struggle to come to belief in the Resurrection is the experience of every Christian: to believe without having seen,” Bishop Bransfield commented.

While Thomas was allowed to touch Christ, “for us it is more difficult: for, we begin with faith, and faith informs our natural lights to be able to see the wonder that is all around us.”

Turning to the mine explosion, he continued:

“In 2006, we experienced the Sago mine disaster. In 2010, we are now living through the Upper Big Branch mine disaster. Confronted with doubt as experienced by Thomas the apostle it is impossible not to ask what can be done to protect the lives of miners. Can those entrusted with the protection of miners be trusted to fulfill the jobs and enforce the laws?

“Is our technology in the U.S. mines in 2010 equal to the technology that is easily available in other industries? Is it safer to travel in space than to work in a West Virginia mine?” he asked.

“In the 21st Century, there should be a greater span between accidents than just four years.”

Bishop Bransfield said protecting the lives of miners should have at least the same priority as ecological protections.

He then noted Jesus’ words when he appeared to the apostles, “Peace be with you.”

“His greeting calmed their fears and restored their faith,” the bishop explained.

“The presence of the Risen Jesus made a difference in the lives of all in that upper room. We need our faith in the Resurrected Christ as we pray for these 29 miners and their families. We also need to keep the safety of our miners as a priority for government.

“Our country should realize that West Virginia pays too high a price when we turn on our electricity. As one of the greatest suppliers of electricity in our country, we must reflect on what producing this energy truly costs.”

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Expert affirms that happiness is possible while living in celibacy

Pamplona, Spain, Apr 14, 2010 (CNA) - Speaking at the 31st Symposium on Theology held at the University of Navarra in Spain, the Symposium President Jutta Burggraf remarked that “it is possible to find happiness in celibacy.”  She explained that “happiness doesn't necessarily depend on whether one is married or single, but rather if one lives with or without love.”

The symposium begins today, and will end Friday, April 16.

When asked about the issue of celibacy amidst the sexual abuse scandals within the Church, Burggraf noted that “happiness doesn't necessarily depend on whether one is married or single, but rather if one lives with or without love.”

“The one who is celibate has heard a specific call from Christ and leans on the all-powerful help of God and not on his own excellence,” she said.

Alluding to the theme of the symposium, Burggraf recalled that “by conversion we mean that radical shift in a person’s life after his encounter with Jesus Christ,” further explaining that “fidelity to the Gospel demands changes in the lives of Christians.”

“The Christian message is always timely and fascinating: there is a God who loves each person and wants us happy now and eternally.  Whoever believes this is better prepared to put the difficulties of everyday life into perspective,” she added.

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Fr. Lombardi: Bertone's linkage of pedophilia and homosexuality refers to cases in priesthood

Rome, Italy, Apr 14, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The relationship Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone spoke of in Chile this week between pedophilia and homosexuality refers to documented cases within the Church, said Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi. The link was made evident in statistics released by attorney, Monsignor Charles J Scicluna a month ago.

In an interview with the Italian Bishops' Avvenire newspaper published on March 13, Msgr. Scicluna, reported that 10 percent of abuse cases involved children, while 90 percent involved adolescents.

Referring to cases of priests abusing adolescents, Msgr. Scicluna said that 60 percent involved males, while 30 percent corresponded to females.

At a press conference in Chile yesterday, the Vatican Secretary of State told reporters that according to "several experts," no correlation existed between the celibate life and pedophilia, rather the relationship was between homosexuality and pedophilia. The cardinal's comments brought on an avalanche of criticism from homosexual groups.

Speaking of the link made by Cardinal Bertone, Fr. Lombardi said, "It obviously refers to the problem of abuse by priests and not in the population in general."

Fr. Lombardi also mentioned that it is not considered within the competency of Church authorities to make general affirmations of a psychological or medical nature. He added that questions such as those related to pedophilia are sent on to "the studies of specialists and ongoing research."

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Pope calls for solidarity after earthquake in China

Vatican City, Apr 14, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - A 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck western China on Wednesday morning, leaving hundreds dead and thousands injured. The Holy Father called for solidarity for the victims at the Wednesday General Audience, praying for the relief of suffering.

“My thoughts go out to China and the populations hit by a strong earthquake, which caused numerous losses of human lives, injuries and great damage,” said Pope Benedict after the Wednesday's catechesis in St. Peter's Square.

The earthquake shook the city of Gyegu in the Qinghai Province at 7:49 a.m. and destroyed 85 percent of its buildings, according to the Xinhua news agency and the China Earthquake Networks Center. Approximately 400 people are feared dead and around 10,000 are thought to be injured. The population of the city is reportedly around 100,000 people.

Benedict XVI assured the victims of his prayers, adding that he is "spiritually close to the people tested by such a serious calamity."

For their intentions, he said, "I beg from God relief in their suffering and courage in this adversity.” The Pope added that he hopes "common solidarity" will not be lacking.

Caritas Internationalis reported that immediate needs for the victims include shelter, medical supplies and staff. They expressed their support for Jinde Charities, which is in the process of assessing the situation through the local Church in order to mobilize aid efforts.

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Mexico City sees increase in church-goers over Holy Week, despite media attacks

Mexico City, Mexico, Apr 14, 2010 (CNA) - Father Juan Jose Cedeno, the associate communications director for the Archdiocese of Mexico City reported this week that a massive number of Mexican faithful attended Holy Week services, despite the recent flood of media attacks on Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic Church.

According to the archdiocesan news service, Mexico City parish pastors said the number of faithful in attendance during Holy Week doubled and tripled in a way that has not been seen for years.

“The faithful desired to manifest their support for the priests they know and trust.  They have been hurt by the attacks on the Church and have banded together,” explained Fr. Cedeno.  He noted that “the faithful experienced a great need for God upon seeing a society that is divided, hurt and filled with hatred.”

Even government officials noticed the increase and pledged to create special tourist routes so those visiting the capital city could more easily take part in the area's “religious attractions.”

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Beatification dates set for three Spaniards, three Italians and a Pole

Vatican City, Apr 14, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -

The Holy See has announced the official dates for the upcoming beatifications of seven European candidates for sainthood. Three Spaniards, three Italians and a Pole will be beatified in the next three months, each in their respective countries.

The dates were released by The Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff through the Holy See's Press Office on Wednesday.

Spain will see the beatifications of Jesuit Fr. Bernardo Francisco de Hoyos on April 18 in the Cathedral of Valladolid, Capuchin Fr. José Tous y Soler in the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar in Barcelona on April 25, and layman Manuel Lozano Garrido at the fairgrounds in Linares on June 12.

In Italy, Carmelite priest, Fr. Angelo Paoli's ceremony will take place on April 25 at St. John Lateran in Rome, while virgin and Franciscan tertiary, Teresa Manganiello's beatification will be on the Solemnity of Pentecost, May 22 at the Basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Benevento, Italy. A third Italian, Sister Maria Pierina De Micheli of the Daughters of the Immaculate Conception in Buenos Aires, will be blessed with beatification on May 30 at St. Mary Major in Rome.

Martyred Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko's ceremony is to be held in Marshal J. Pilsudski Square in Warsaw, Poland on June 6.

All of the ceremonies except for two will be presided over by the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato. Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone will celebrate the ceremony for Fr. Tous y Soler in Barcelona, and Cardinal Augustino Vallini, Vicar of Rome, that of Fr. Paoli.

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Vatican paper says Beatles don't need absolution

Vatican City, Apr 14, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - On Wednesday, L’Osservatore Romano (LOR) followed up on an article from last Saturday’s edition which paid homage to the legacy of the Beatles. After reactions from international media and Ringo Starr cast the previous article as an attempt to grant "forgiveness" to the artists, the Vatican paper stated on Wednesday that there was "no need" for absolution.

The Saturday article was spun by the international media as an effort by the Vatican to “absolve” the Beatles for John Lennon’s words: “We’re more popular than Jesus.”

The story on the Beatles, by Giuseppe Fiorentino and Gaetano Vallini, begins, "It's true they took stupefying substances; overwhelmed by success they lived dissolute and uninhibited years; in an excess of boastfulness they even said they were more famous than Jesus; they had fun launching mysterious messages, even Satanic, according to improbable declarations ... sure they weren't the best example for young people at the time, but neither (were they) the worst."

Forty years after their break-up the Beatles' "beautiful melodies remain as precious jewels that have changed light music forever” and continue to raise emotions, the article goes on.

Noting the lasting effects of the short, prolific and influential seven years in which the band was together, the writers ventured to ponder not what would have happened if they had reunited, but what music would have been like without them.

The writers' perspective, which was printed on April 10 to observe the 40th anniversary of the official break-up of the band, was not intended to extend absolution “of which the four artists from Liverpool naturally did not have any need,” LOR said.

“Consonance” between the Holy See and the Beatles had already between witnessed, according to the Vatican paper, when John Lennon issued an apology in 1966 for having expressed himself in a way which may have been confusing to people.

In a press conference in Chicago, he clarified his words, saying, "I'm not anti-God, anti-Christ or anti-religion. I was not saying we are greater or better. I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky.

“I'm sorry I said it, really. I never meant it to be a lousy anti-religious thing. From what I've read, or observed, Christianity just seems to be shrinking, to be losing contact."

In an article from LOR, dated the day after the press conference, an anonymous journalist acknowledged Lennon’s words, noting that his remarks about the “absenteeism or the distraction of many” undeniably had “some foundation.”

Asked by CNN what he thought about apparent "forgiveness" from the Vatican, Ringo Starr said this week, "Didn't the Vatican say we were satanic or possibly satanic -- and they've still forgiven us? I think the Vatican, they've got more to talk about than the Beatles."

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Dissident asks Norway to facilitate 'dialogue between Cubans'

Havana, Cuba, Apr 14, 2010 (CNA) - The coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement, Oswaldo Paya, has asked the government of Norway to facilitate dialogue between Cuban citizens wanting peaceful change and the country's leaders.

Paya made his request after a meeting with the ambassador of Norway, Jan Tore Holvik, on April 7.

In a statement, Paya acknowledged that most Cubans want peaceful change “in order to overcome difficulties of all sorts, to move toward reconciliation among Cubans, and to progress in the guarantee of all rights for all citizens.”

Paya then emphasized the importance of dialogue between citizens who work for peaceful change and government officials.  However, he warned, “dialogue cannot be conditioned or limited by political programs or agendas, but rather it must be a place for the common search for solutions and for working together for the good of our people.”

He added that the document entitled, “United in Hope,” which is the result of a joint effort between hundreds of peaceful Cuban dissidents is not a set of conditions or a rigid agenda, but rather a synthesis of our vision for the first steps we are proposing and which we now deliver to the government of Norway.”

Paya asked Norway to present this document “to the Cuban government, to the Norwegian parliament and society, and to world public opinion.”

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Catholic pro-life leader demands protection for abused, pregnant girls

CNA STAFF, Apr 14, 2010 (CNA) - The chairwoman of Alliance for the Family, Christine de Marcellus de Vollmer, denounced the media push to decriminalize abortion in Latin America by using the tragic cases of young, pregnant sexual abuse victims.  She then called on politicians to adequately protect and show solidarity with such girls and their unborn children.

Speaking with CNA, de Vollmer referred to two specific cases: one of a 10-year-old girl who was raped in Recife, Brazil, and a similar case in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, one of the 18 Mexican states that has enshrined protection of the unborn into law.

Christine de Vollmer began by explaining the need to "powerfully raise our voices so that people do not fall prey to this malicious information. We are obviously in the midst of a campaign to legalize ‘therapeutic abortion’ in cases where the life of the mother is ‘at risk.’ We know that this step always leads to the legalization of all abortions."

She explained that the “girls are not the primary concern of promoters” of therapeutic abortion.  “It is obvious that their priority is the legalization of abortion.”  For evidence to back her claims, de Vollmer said, “a clear sign of this pro-abortion priority” can be found in Recife and Quintana Roo, two places that have been “recent battlegrounds in the fight to legalize abortion, and its promoters want to clear the path by using these extreme cases.”

De Vollmer said it is necessary to provide adequate explanations in order to confront the fallacies of the abortion lobbyists and feminists that are being promoted by the media (even by some Catholic media).

She noted that the first explanation has to do with the term “rape.”  “We here in Latin America know well that we are not dealing with rape (in these cases), but rather with something worse and more common—and which perhaps we don’t want to face—which is this tragic promiscuity.”  De Vollmer said that in these situations, “everybody lives in the same little house and sleeps in the same bed.  And of course all kinds of things happen there, unfortunately including to children.  As the bodies of these little girls are stimulated, they begin to ovulate and become pregnant at some point. It is not 'rape.' In fact, it's something much worse and more endemic."  

The second fallacy of the feminists is the use of the word, “stepfathers.” 

“They aren’t stepfathers. They are simply men who live in the home with the mother and her daughters, oftentimes for just circumstantial reasons, without any serious commitment,” she underscored.

De Vollmer also told CNA, “We need to look at the entire social reality of the abuse of so many little girls. We must not fall into the ‘false compassion’ and reductive reasoning of the promoters of abortion.  They want us to pay attention to the little girl only when she is already pregnant in order to give her what they are selling: abortion.”

“It would be more objective, engaging, and caring to prevent or correct the very common situations of promiscuity and danger of so many young girls before its too late,” she added.

This problem “exists not only in Quintana Roo and Recife. This abuse will not be stopped by legalizing abortion. On the contrary, it will increase because among other things, the visible consequences (of abuse) will be taken away,” De Vollmer said.

“The suffering of these girls and their unborn babies is a call to solidarity,” she continued.  “They need special psychological and medical care and perhaps the option to give these children up in adoption.”

“We must expose this and clarify that these conditions must be addressed by politicians and the Church, rather than only paying attention when the girl gets pregnant,” she underscored.

“Politicians must not rend their garments over these pregnancies when they turn a blind eye to the abuse that goes on daily.  If they do nothing to stop this abuse, it can only end in pregnancy,” she said.

“This is not ‘a medical opinion’ or a ‘medical case’,” de Vollmer stressed.  “It is an eminently social and humanitarian issue, and humanity cannot save itself by killing its weakest members.”

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