Columbia, Md., Jul 31, 2012 (CNA) - An uncle of a young pro-life advocate killed by a car during his pro-life walk across America is flying to the U.S. to take his nephew’s place and complete the remainder of the journey.
U.K. resident Paul Brilliant will attend his nephew Andrew Kentigern Moore’s July 31 funeral in Concord, Calif. and then meet the pro-life group Crossroads in Steubenville, Ohio to help complete their walk from San Francisco to Washington, D.C.
Brilliant “really wants to represent Andrew's family and be with the group as they make it to Washington, D.C.,” Crossroads president James Nolan said July 25.
Moore was praying the Rosary and walking alongside a highway near Indianapolis early on July 20 when he was hit by a car and killed. Investigators found no fault with the driver and Moore might have accidentally stepped onto the roadway.
The 20-year-old was a student at Thomas Aquinas College and was considering joining the priesthood.
His group had walked about 2,200 miles from San Francisco and had 600 miles remaining before reaching Washington, D.C.
The other volunteer walkers have decided to finish their walk in honor of Moore and his pro-life dedication.
“We are not surprised by their decision to continue,” Nolan said. “These are some of the most amazing and dedicated young people I've ever met.”
The Crossroads travelers will suspend their nighttime walking for the rest of the summer.
Caleb Glaser, the leader of the central route which Moore walked, said the group still considers Moore part of the team.
“We believe that he will be walking those miles in spirit with us,” he said.
The treks will finish in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 11 with a noontime rally and memorial at the U.S. Capitol.
Walk participants speak to parish groups to encourage pro-life activism. They stop at local abortion clinics to pray, to hold peaceful protests, and to counsel those who enter.
The Maryland-based Crossroads has held pro-life walks across America for 18 years. It holds four simultaneous pro-life walks across the country to witness to the sanctity of human life and to win converts to protecting life from conception until natural death.
Its website is http://www.crossroadswalk.org.
New York City, N.Y., Jul 31, 2012 (CNA) - New York Times columnist Ross Douthat said in a recent column that the reactions against the Chick-fil-A president’s stance on “gay marriage” reveal that many people only maintain a “facade” of respect for religious freedom.
Douthat suggested in his July 29 column that many people now believe religious beliefs cannot be exercised or expressed “in ways that might make anyone uncomfortable with his or her own sexual choices or identity.”
As examples, he pointed to the Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring employers, including many Catholic institutions, to provide insurance coverage for sterilization and contraception. He noted a German court’s ban on circumcision as a violation of a newborn’s human rights.
Douthat also saw this trend in the reaction to the Chick-fil-A’s president Dan Cathy’s comments in support of the definition of marriage between a man and a woman.
Several mayors in major American cities have responded to the comments by saying that the restaurant is not welcome in their city and that they will not allow new restaurants from the chain to open.
Douthat said this outspoken opposition might come from a belief that religious businessmen do not have the same rights as religious congregations. It could also draw from the belief that Western religion’s beliefs about chastity and monogamy are “incompatible with basic modern freedoms” in a way similar to honor killings, human sacrifice or forced marriage.
The columnist said that many critics of these religious views say they respect religious freedom but are instead are presenting a “facade” that they should be honest about.
“If you want to fine Catholic hospitals for following Catholic teaching, or prevent Jewish parents from circumcising their sons, or ban Chick-fil-A in Boston, then don’t tell religious people that you respect our freedoms,” Douthat challenged.
“Say what you really think: that the exercise of our religion threatens all that’s good and decent, and that you’re going to use the levers of power to bend us to your will.”
Washington D.C., Jul 31, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
While a new report from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton uses strong rhetoric to back religious liberty, a former diplomat says more action needs to be taken to turn those words into reality.
Dr. Thomas Farr, director of the Religious Freedom Project at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University, told CNA that although the report offers a "comprehensive catalogue of violations of religious freedom," it stops short of addressing them in a concrete and meaningful way.
Released on July 30, the congressionally-mandated International Religious Freedom Report examines the status of religious liberty in 199 countries and territories around the world during 2011.
The report outlines disturbing trends in religious freedom violations around the world, taking the form of violent extremism, growing blasphemy laws and an increase in anti-Semitism.
It lists eight countries – Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan – as "Countries of Particular Concern." These countries are the same eight that received this designation last year.
In announcing the findings of the report, U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Suzan Johnson Cook said that the U.S. has been working to voice concerns about these situations and to sponsor tolerance programs aimed at youth, as well as to impose sanctions on countries that fail to respect their citizens.
Countries such as Egypt, which are currently in a period of transition, have "a wonderful opportunity" to include respect for religious freedom in their new constitution, she said.
Aware of promises by Egyptian leaders to respect minorities, America is "looking at them to protect religious minorities and all citizens and adhere to the universal human rights," she explained.
The U.S. has also "raised the religious freedom issue" with China, the ambassador said.
Although the situation in the country is "complicated," she said that the U.S. is continuing to "press the government" of China and emphasized that conversations with the nation's leaders are ongoing.
In an address on the findings of the report, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged that there are significant reasons for concern in countries around the globe.
Religious freedom is critical, she emphasized, not only for its own sake, but also for the existence of a secure and stable democracy, as well as for economic and political progress.
"This is a bedrock priority of our foreign policy," she said.
Clinton said that the report "sends a signal to the worst offenders that the world is watching."
It allows the U.S. to more successfully target the countries and aid the individuals that are in greatest need of help, she added.
But while Farr said the language used by Clinton to support religious freedom was "very good," he added that the words do not translate into policies.
Formerly serving in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research in the 1990s, Farr became the first director of the department's international religious freedom office.
He explained that the International Religious Freedom Act, which mandates the annual report, requires that it tell what policies the U.S. is using "to advance religious freedom in a given country."
But the policy section of the report instead gives "a laundry list of unconnected meetings and 'dialogues,' or repetitions of senior US officials having 'raised the issue' or 'discussed' it with host country officials," he said.
While these meetings and discussions are not bad, he noted, they are not enough on their own to be effective.
Farr explained that "in most countries, there is very little evidence of a unified US strategy to advance religious freedom."
Rather, he said, "there is a grab bag of unrelated items whose purpose is to show movement, at least on a rhetorical level."
For example, he explained, "for a nation like Egypt, whose stability is so vital to our interests," one might expect to see the report give "a comprehensive strategy of policy programs and concrete initiatives designed to convince the Egyptians that their own interests require them to advance religious freedom."
Rather, one finds a list of discussions, dialogues and unrelated programs. While these programs may be good, he said, "they do not represent the kind of foreign policy strategy that takes the advancement of religious freedom as a serious issue of security, stability and success."
What the U.S. should be doing, Farr argued, is giving the religious freedom ambassador the tools "to develop strategies in key countries.
"She should be given increased authority and resources," he stressed. "Currently her office and function are isolated and under funded."
When this changes, he said, the world will know that the Secretary of State is serious about her statements and willing to "put policy weight" behind her strong rhetoric.
Erie, Pa., Jul 31, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Catholics in Erie, Pa., are deeply grateful for Pope Benedict's July 31 appointment of Msgr. Lawrence T. Persico as the diocese's tenth bishop.
“The Lord has answered our prayer and the Diocese of Erie has a new shepherd,” Bishop Donald W. Trautman said during a press conference Tuesday.
Bishop-designate Persico will succeed Bishop Trautman who, following Church procedure, submitted his resignation following his 75th birthday over a year ago.
Bishop Trautman said he knows the bishop-designate will love his “new spiritual family” in Erie and said the diocese would like to welcome him “with open arms” while assuring him of their “full support and cooperation.”
“I am delighted to be coming to Erie,” Bishop-designate Persico told the press conference.
Bishop-designate Persico said his appointment comes during an “exciting time” in the Church, especially since his ordination will come just before the start of Pope Benedict's “Year of Faith,” which will launch in October of this year.
“This year of Faith is a time for us to renew and deepen our personal relationship with Jesus Christ and recommit ourselves to His Church,” he said.
His pastoral motto will be “Truth in Charity,” he said, citing Pope Bendict's encyclical of the same name and Ephesians 4:14-15.
A Pennsylvania native, Bishop-designate Persico was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Greensburg, Pa. in 1977 and has served as vice-president of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference.
After graduating from the Greensburg diocesan seminary high school in 1969, Bishop-designate Persico went on to earn a Master's of Divinity degree from Saint Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, Pa.
In 1980, after having served as parochial vicar of Immaculate Conception Parish in Irwin, Pa., Bishop-designate Persico studied canon law at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. where he earned the licentiate degree in 1982. Since 1983, he has been a member of the Canon Law Society of America.
Following his appointment as assistant chancellor of the Diocese of Greensburg in 1998, the bishop-elect was appointed pastor of Saint James Parish in New Alexandria while also serving as the bishop's representative to the administrative board of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference.
In 2008, he was named a monsignor with the title of Prelate of Honor by Pope John Paul II.
While continuing as pastor, Bishop-designate Persico was appointed moderator of the curia, vicar general and the bishop's delegate for clergy sexual abuse in 2005 by Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt of Greensburg.
Months later, he was elected vice president of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference for two back to back terms which lasted until 2011.
Bishop-designate Persico will be ordained as Bishop of Erie, which is made up of 225,000 Catholics in 13 counties, during an Oct. 1 Mass at the diocese's St. Peter's Cathedral.
Bern, Switzerland, Jul 31, 2012 (CNA) -
The government of Switzerland has sparked controversy by legalizing a new prenatal test that detects the presence of Down’s Syndrome – a move that could lead to an increase of abortions in the country.
Called “Prenatest,” the procedure will be made available in the country starting in August, according to Neue Zürcher Zeitung am Sonntag. It uses blood samples from the mother to detect the presence of Trisomy 21 or Down’s Syndrome in her unborn child.
The German company LifeCodexx, which developed the test, calls it a “safe alternative to traditional invasive methods.”
According to data from the United Nations, each year between three and five thousand children are born with Down’s Syndrome throughout the world.
In a June interview, Spain-based physician Dr. Esteban Rodriguez Martin told CNA that prenatal tests for Down’s Syndrome result “in abortion in more than 85 percent of the babies who have the condition in the countries where unborn human life does not enjoy legal protection.”
Martin said that in countries like Spain, as soon as Down’s Syndrome is detected, the parents are informed “so they can decide whether or not to request an abortion, which would be performed in a public health care facility.”
In response, Martin said there are numerous foundations in Spain working to gain traction across Europe in raising awareness on the dignity of those suffering from Down’s Syndrome.
“In Spain, through Right to Life and HazteOir, we hope that the new regulations on abortion announced by the Mariano Rajoy administration will protect the lives of those who might be born with a handicap and penalize those practices intended to facilitate their intentional destruction.”
Vatican City, Jul 31, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - With exactly one year to go until the 28th World Youth Day begins in Rio de Janeiro, Pope Benedict XVI is praying this August that young people will engage in evangelization.
“That young people, called to follow Christ, may be willing to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel to the ends of the earth,” the official Vatican statement from July 31 says.
Pope Benedict’s mission prayer intention echoes almost exactly the theme for next year’s event in Brazil, “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
It also comes only days after he used his traditional Sunday Angelus address to send his best wishes to those organizing the six-day international festival, which will take place July 23-28, 2013.
“It is a valuable opportunity for many young people to experience the joy and beauty of belonging to the Church and living the faith,” the Pope said at the July 29 Angelus gathering.
Rio de Janeiro will be Pope Benedict’s fourth World Youth Day since being elected pontiff seven years ago. The international assembly will follow successful events in Cologne in 2005, Sydney in 2008 and Madrid in 2011. It will also be the first World Youth Day to be hosted by a South American country since the event convened in Buenos Aires in 1987.
At present, over 2 million pilgrims are expected to make the journey to Brazil next year.
“I look forward to this event and would like to encourage and thank the organizers, especially the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro, working diligently to prepare the reception of young people from around the world take part in this important ecclesial meeting,” the Pope added at the Angelus remarks.
Encounters between the 85-year-old Pope and young people have been a constant feature of his 23 apostolic visits outside of Italy. His message has always been constant and challenging – true happiness is to be found in following Jesus Christ.
“God wants us to be happy always. He knows us and he loves us,” he told young people in the Mexican city of Guanajuato during his last foreign visit, which was to Mexico and Cuba in March 2012.
“If we allow the love of Christ to change our heart, then we can change the world. This is the secret of authentic happiness.”
Los Angeles, Calif., Jul 31, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Over 100,000 Catholics will gather at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Aug. 5 to celebrate and honor Our Lady of Guadalupe in a city where the image of the Virgin is everywhere.
Andrew Walther, vice president of media and communications for the Knights of Columbus, said the free event is “a celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe and her role as the mother of all Catholics in America.”
The Knights of Columbus are co-sponsoring the Guadalupe Celebration this Sunday with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Walther told CNA on July 31 that Los Angeles is “an incredibly important city” for devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“This is going to be one of the largest Catholic celebrations ever in the U.S. It’s going to be certainly one of the largest Catholic celebrations in Los Angeles in a generation.”
Event speakers include Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus and Msgr. Eduardo Chávez, postulator of St. Juan Diego’s cause for canonization.
The Guadalupe Celebration will also display the Relic of the Tilma of St. Juan Diego, a small piece of the cloak on which the image of the Virgin Mary miraculously appeared in 16th century Mexico. The Archdiocese of Mexico gave the relic to Archbishop John Cantwell of Los Angeles in 1941. It is the only relic of the tilma in the U.S.
Walther said it is hard to avoid pictures of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Los Angeles, in churches and in secular life.
“She’s ubiquitous,” he said. “She’s on the walls of markets. She’s on T-shirts. She’s on car windows. She is, in a very visible way, present in Los Angeles.”
Organizers hope the Guadalupe Celebration will be “a really visible testament to the unity of Catholics in California,” Walther continued.
“It’s going to be a real testament to the love that Catholics have for Our Lady of Guadalupe. It’s going to be a real testament to the unifying force that is Our Lady of Guadalupe. It’s going to be a really good example of the vibrancy of the Catholic Church.”
In addition, the celebration will host international performers like Eurovision winner Dana Scallon and Mariachi artist and actor Pedro Fernandez. The event will also feature retired Major League Baseball catcher Mike Piazza, “Braveheart” producer Steve McEveety, actor Eduardo Verastegui and film director Alejandro Monteverde.
Walther said Our Lady of Guadalupe is “very important” to the Knights of Columbus in her role as Patroness of the Americas.
The first Knights of Columbus council in Mexico City was named for her. Supreme Knight Carl Anderson co-authored a book on her titled “Our Lady of Guadalupe: Mother of the Civilization of Love.”
The Catholic fraternal and charitable order co-sponsored the Tilma relic’s 2003 tour around the U.S. The knights’ first International Marian Congress, held in Arizona in 2009, included a Guadalupe Festival that drew 22,000 people.
While Mexicans and other Hispanics are particularly devoted to Our Lady of Guadalupe, Walther said the relic tour showed her broad appeal.
“People expected that we would have only Hispanic crowds,” he said. “The fact was, everybody came out for Our Lady of Guadalupe.”
He explained that Catholics honor the Virgin Mary because they understand that when Jesus Christ on the cross presented his mother to the Apostle John to serve as his own mother, “that was something he was doing for all of us.”
“We all have a mother in Mary,” he said, adding that those in the Americas have a particular mother in Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“Mary is a very important figure for us in terms of having a spiritual mother who all of us have in common,” said Walther.
He said the Guadalupe Celebration venue should be “very full.” Attendees should arrive early because seating is “first come, first serve.”
More information can be found at: http://www.guadalupecelebration.com.