Manila, Philippines, Oct 19, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Super Typhoon Megi departed from the Philippines yesterday, leaving an estimated 13 people dead as it drifted toward China and Hong Kong. Catholic Relief Services announced it is preparing emergency humanitarian aid for families affected by the unusually powerful storm, which significantly damaged infrastructure in addition to destroying crops and homes.
The storm was the strongest tropical cyclone to hit land since 2007, reaching the category of a “super typhoon” due to its sustained wind speeds reaching over 150 mph. Although the super typhoon proved less deadly than a similar cyclone that killed more than 100 Philippines residents earlier this year, its effects for survivors may prove to be greater.
Fr. Val Dimoc, a priest in the Cordillera mountain region, observed the cyclone's effects upon crops in the northern region of Luzon. He described how “upland rice farmers who planted in early July were about to harvest, but their crops have been blown down by the wind.”
Joe Curry, a representative for CRS in the Philippines, noted the danger that flooding poses to residents and their property, stating that the charity is at work securing access to affected areas following the storm's departure. The agency plans to collaborate with local dioceses as well as Caritas Philippines.
Arnaldo Arcadio, the emergency program manager for CRS, described a dramatic ordeal as the extraordinarily powerful storm passed through, describing how he and other CRS workers “took refuge in the parish when the winds were strong and the rain was battering down.”
Arcadio and other relief coordinators and workers were eventually able to return to the city of Baguio, to begin the immense task of distributing emergency supplies and providing shelter for those left homeless. CRS expects to be occupied for months helping to provide items like cookware, food, and soap, as well as clearing away debris and rebuilding houses in the northern Philippines.
Santiago, Chile, Oct 19, 2010 (CNA) - At a Mass of Thanksgiving with 20 rescued miners outside the San Jose Mine in Chile, Bishop Gonzalo Duarte underscored the vital importance of the family within society.
Bishop Duarte, vice-president of the Chilean Bishops’ Conference, thanked the miners and their families for their example of strength, solidarity, unity and drive to live. “The family is the best place to be born, to grow up, to grow old and to die,” he said, praising the miners’ loved ones for remaining outside the mine during the entire ordeal.
The bishop also offered special thanks to mothers and grandmothers, whom he called “the backbone” of the country.
He exhorted those present to trust in the justice of God, who watches over each person, and to thank him for answering our prayers. “God acts through men and women,” he said.
Caracas, Venezuela, Oct 19, 2010 (CNA) - The parish of Our Lady of the Rosary in Baruta, Venezuela has reported that two 24-karat gold rosaries were stolen from a statue of Mary on October 16. Both rosaries date back to the year 1700.
Parishioners noted that the intruder took the rosaries from the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary of Baruta – one of the oldest statues of Mary in Venezuela.
According to police investigations, there was no sign of forced entry.
Parishioners said the rosaries were of both historical and religious value, and expressed concern that the number of thefts from the church is on the rise.
Vatican City, Oct 19, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI said that World Mission Sunday is an opportunity for Catholics to to reflect on the Church's mission to bring Christ's message and love to “every people, culture, race and nationality.”
Authentic Christian mission recognizes that God's love cross all geographical borders and boundaries of culture, the Pope said in a message prepared for the annual day of prayer and promotion of the Church’s missionary activity, to be celebrated this year on Oct. 24.
“The Father calls us to be sons and daughters, loved in the beloved Son, and to recognize that we are all brothers and sisters in (Christ), who is the gift of salvation for humanity,” the Pope reflected.
The Pope said that while “discord and sin” divide humanity, members of the Church are called to bear witness by the example of their lives and to promote a “new humanism founded on the Gospel of Jesus.” The demonstration of authentic love, he said, gives credibility to the words of the Gospel, both in its historic centers and in remote lands.
This proclamation of God's love in Christ, he emphasized, is “a duty of the whole Church” which is “by her very nature missionary.” While some individuals experience a particular call to proclaim this message as clergy, catechists, or lay missionaries, others participate in the universal mission to “offer signs of hope and to become universal brethren.” In all circumstances, he said, “the Gospel is a leaven of freedom and progress” and “a source of brotherhood.”
Pope Benedict stressed that the task of foreign missions “cannot be fulfilled without a … community and pastoral conversion” involving “all diocesan and parish communities.” The local church's celebration of the Eucharist, he explained, both calls and enables its members “to promote the proclamation of the Gospel in the heart of … every people, culture, race and nationality in every place.”
Pope Benedict expressed special gratitude of “missionaries who bear witness to the coming of the Kingdom of God in the most remote and challenging places, often with their lives.” Describing them as the “vanguard of the Gospel's proclamation,” he urged all members of the Church to support the work of the Pontifical Missionary Societies through prayer and the gift of their resources.
Sao Paulo, Brazil, Oct 19, 2010 (CNA) -
Cardinal Odilo Scherer of Sao Paulo, Brazil spoke out last week in defense of human life, stressing that abortion must not be legalized in the country.
In an Oct. 13 article, the cardinal recalled that the Church in Brazil will soon celebrate Pro-Life Week in order to warn Brazilians of the threats to human life, especially abortion.
Abortion has become a leading issue in Brazil as the country prepares for its Oct. 31 presidential runoff elections. Workers' Party candidate Dilma Rousseff has stated her support for legalizing the procedure.
The cardinal explained in his article that “There are also those who claim this is a human right.” However, he asked, is “taking the lives of innocent and defenseless human beings a human right?”
Responding to the argument that a woman has a right to do what she wants with her body, Cardinal Scherer said, “The baby a woman carries in her womb is not part of her body, but it is another body, different from hers.”
“Women received their nature from God: the beauty and gratifying mission of conceiving and welcoming human life, of making it live in the world, of supporting and protecting this fragile and beautiful life,” he continued.
The legal protection against abortion is not a punishment, but rather the protection of the right to life, the cardinal added. “How do we protect the unborn and ensure the first of all human rights if abortion is legalized?” he asked.
Cardinal Scherer called on the government to promote measures that allow pregnant women and their children to live in dignity and safety.
Santiago, Chile, Oct 19, 2010 (CNA) - Father Alejandro Castillo, the vicar general of the Diocese of Copiapo, Chile recently remarked that the rescue of the 33 miners from the San Jose mine is a sign that “after the cross comes the resurrection.”
“The resurrection is present after a prolonged cross,” Father Castillo told CNA last week, speaking in place of Bishop Gaspar Quintana. The bishop was busy meeting with miners at the Copiapo Hospital.
“Thank God the miners are in the hospital - it has been a night of great joy because of the reunion of the miners’ families,” Father Castillo said, explaining that the rescue has underscored the value of human life, the dignity of man and the value of the family.
Father Castillo underscored the role that Bishop Quintana played in the recent events, pointing out that the bishop met continuously with the families of the miners since August 7, two days after the accident.
The pastoral care of the 33 miners and their families will continue into the future, but now at the parish level, the priest said.
Father Castillo also announced that Chileans in Santiago will have the chance to see the miners on October 26, during their public meeting with President Sebastian Pinera.
Columbus, Ohio, Oct 19, 2010 (CNA) - An Ohio congressman has filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission charging that a pro-life political group has misrepresented him as a supporter of federal abortion funding. The pro-life group has asked a federal court to intervene.
The Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) had intended to put up four billboards targeting Democratic U.S. Rep. Steve Driehaus.
“Shame on Steve Driehaus!” the proposed billboard reads, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Driehaus voted FOR taxpayer-funded abortion.”
The candidate filed a criminal complaint with the elections commission under a statute which outlaws making “a false statement concerning the voting record of a candidate or public official.” He said that his vote for health care legislation does not mean he supports federal funding for abortions.
Last Thursday, a three-member panel of the commission ruled in Rep. Driehaus’ favor, saying the complaint had “probable cause” and the billboards’ comments were not allowable. A full hearing will take place to determine whether the SBA List broke Ohio law.
The Republican-leaning pro-life organization has asked a federal judge to overturn the law, saying it has a chilling effect on free speech and lacks a requirement to prove “actual malice.”
According to the Enquirer, SBA List president Marjorie Dannenfelser said the commission allowed the congressman to prevent constituents from “learning the truth about his vote in favor of taxpayer funding of abortion in the health care reform bill.”
“We are disappointed and surprised that the complaint was not immediately dismissed,” she said.
Kristin Day of Democrats for Life of America (DFLA) said on Monday that her group was “pleased” that the commission initially ruled in favor of Driehaus.
“We are disappointed in those who would mischaracterize the pro-life Democrat’s vote for political gain,” she continued, saying that the congressman did not vote for taxpayer-funded abortions because “there is no federal funding for abortion in the PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act).”
Driehaus is also backed by the Democrat-leaning group Catholics United. Its president Chris Korzen said the SBA List claim lacked evidence. He charged that “the religious right continues to spread lies about federal funding of abortion in service of a partisan agenda.”
Writing at the Catholic Advocate, former President George W. Bush campaign advisor Deal Hudson charged that Driehaus wants to take away the freedom of the SBA List and its president Marjorie Dannenfelser to speak publicly about his voting record.
“Dannenfelser, if found guilty, could go to jail,” Hudson claimed. He also suggested that Driehaus originally had the SBA List’s view of the health care legislation because he sponsored the Stupak-Pitts Amendment which would have imposed statutory restrictions on the bill.
“Dannenfelser has said nothing about the health care bill that has not already been said by the Catholic bishops, speaking through the official statements of the USCCB,” Hudson continued.
While President Barack Obama signed an executive order applying the Hyde Amendment’s abortion funding restrictions to the health care legislation, critics say the order will not withstand a court challenge.
“(T)he Executive Order cannot and does not fix the statutory problems of direct funding of abortion at CHCs (Community Health Centers), and of funding insurance plans that cover abortions,” counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) wrote in a March 25 memo on the topic.
Madrid, Spain, Oct 19, 2010 (CNA) - The Institute for Family Policy has denounced the Spanish government for failing to introduce policies to increase the country's birthrate. The institute also noted that the government's persistent support for abortion has led to more than one million abortions in the last 15 years.
The president of the Institute, Eduardo Hertfelder, said it “makes no sense” that while Europe is implementing policies to increase the birth rate and reduce the number of abortions, Spain does nothing. Instead, he continued, the government “passes a backwards-looking law like the recent law on abortion that only makes the problem worse.”
Spain's new abortion law permits abortion up until the 14th week of pregnancy without restrictions.
Hertfelder noted that abortions in Spain have risen from 47,800 in 1994 to more than 115,000 in 2008 – an increase of 142 percent. “We can state that the number of abortions performed in Spain during this period, together with the low birth rate, has been the main cause in the sinking of the youth population and the aging of the populace in Spain,” he warned.
The institute said that the regions in Spain most affected by abortion are Catalonia, with 220,000 abortions in the last 15 years, Madrid, with 204,000 abortions and Andalusia, with 190,000.
Houston, Texas, Oct 19, 2010 (CNA) - In response to the opening of what they say is the largest abortion facility in the Western Hemisphere, pro-life groups are organizing a major event in Houston on Saturday. Eduardo Verastegui, the Mexican actor who starred in the pro-life film “Bella,” will be the keynote speaker at the event.
Organizers of Unite for Life – Houston say the Oct. 23 event will inspire pro-lifers and teach them how to take action in their communities. Pro-life organizations will attend the event to provide information and attract new members.
Mary Catharine Maxian, M.D., chairwoman of Unite for Life – Houston 2010 and president of Health Care Professionals for Life, said that many pro-life people have an earnest desire to help the cause but don’t know where to start.
"Unite for Life - Houston is designed to be not just motivational, but action-oriented. We will be giving pro-life Houstonians concrete tools and information for them to immediately get involved and be part of the solution,” she commented. “One way to help is to join groups that are already established.”
She said the event will help people find a “niche” in the pro-life movement that fits them.
“When we get all of the pro-lifers working together, praying together, voting together, and uniting our efforts with the will of God, the abortion industry will not stand a chance against us."
Keynote speaker Eduardo Verastegui is a founder of the Bella Hero project, which intends to equip pregnancy care centers with copies of Bella to show to women who are considering abortion.
The event will take place at the Catholic Charismatic Center in Houston from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. It will end with a “prayerful” march to Planned Parenthood, organizers say.
Planned Parenthood recently opened an abortion facility in Houston which will perform abortions up to the 25th week of pregnancy.
“We Houstonians are horrified by the opening of Planned Parenthood’s late-term abortion supercenter here in our city. We now stand together in commitment to shutting down this Planned Parenthood and ending ALL abortion in our city,” a brochure for the event reads.
The website of Unite for Life - Houston is http://www.uniteforlife2010.org.
Lima, Peru, Oct 19, 2010 (CNA) - Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani prayed to the Lord of the Miracles for the protection of the unborn and the family during an Oct. 18 Mass in Lima, Peru.
The entire month of October is dedicated to the devotion of the Lord of the Miracles in Peru. The famous image has been venerated in the country for over 350 years.
Each October, thousands of Peruvians travel to the country’s capital to participate in the processions through the city's streets.
In his homily, the cardinal urged Catholics to always always defend life. “Lord of Miracles, make us strong people of faith who put it into practice” in order to fight for the unborn.
The cardinal also encouraged parents to assume their roles as educators of their children, in keeping with the vows they made at the altar to “baptize their children upon birth and raise them in the faith.”
“Dear parents, it can be done. The family can be upheld as the main place where children” learn about the “faith from a young age.”
“May the Lord of Miracles lead children on the path of faith,” he said.
Cardinal Cipriani prayed, “May our life of faith be put into practice.” He encouraged “a life of prayer, in which each one of us lifts up his heart, contemplates Jesus, prays for his blessing, protection, forgiveness, and thanks him for life and the family.”