Archive of January 22, 2013

Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life

Denver, Colo., Jan 22, 2013 (CNA) - Hundreds of pro-life advocates gathered on the west steps of the Colorado capitol on Sunday for the March for Life rally and walk ahead of the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Father Rocco Porter, pastor of Blessed John XXIII University Parish in Fort Collins, Colo., encouraged the crowd to persist in their advocacy to end legalized abortion, which the U.S. Supreme Court declared a constitutional right in 1973.

“God's plan takes time. God's conversion in everyone’s heart takes a lifetime,” he said at the Jan. 20 rally.

“God allows us to fight this fight,” he added. “We have to fight this fight, because he knows we will be victorious. In every fight from David and Goliath to now, the giant will fall. And when the giant falls, we will see our victory. It is not a victory for ourselves but a victory for God.”

Police estimated attendance at 1,500 people, while organizers said it drew more participants than any previous pro-life march in Denver. After the rally, marchers took a winding path through downtown Denver, with many people carrying pro-life signs and banners. Organizers said the march was half a mile long.

Other rally speakers included Fr. W. Scott Daniels, O.P., a priest associate with Priests for Life; pro-life speaker and founder of Issues4Life Walter B. Hoye II of Oakland, Calif.; author and former legal abortion advocate Jane Brennan; Julie Averill, Denver regional coordinator of Silent No More; and Michael Voris of Church Militant TV.

Author and former radio host Gregg Jackson emceed the rally.

Several women who had had abortions shared their stories. One woman said she had an abortion at age 16 after her father and stepmother threatened to throw her out of the house. She recounted how she later acquired her medical records of the act in an effort to heal. She discovered, however, that the records from the abortion clinic misrepresented her age and the age of her unborn baby and incorrectly said she had been shown an ultrasound of her baby.

March for Life Denver director Rosalinda Lozano told CNA Jan. 20. that the pro-life movement in Colorado is “blessed with amazing pro-life advocates” and there are “many  dedicated people” who want to find “the key to ending abortion.” She said the pro-life movement only needs improvement in “unity in numbers.”

She credited the organization Personhood Colorado for encouraging more interest in the movement. Lozano expressed gratitude to long-time pro-life advocates for their “dedication and perseverance.”

Lozano said young people new to the movement should remember that their life has value.

“Be an example of that value and actively promote the pro life movement in your life. You are the generation who can end this evil against the innocent,” she said.

One of the many young attendees was Jessica Clark, Vice President of Regis University Students for Life.

Clark told CNA that pro-life advocates have to testify that life is “not a burden, but a gift.”

“Life is a gift and our culture is constantly trying to tell us otherwise,” she noted.

Earlier that day, Catholics packed the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception across the street from the capitol for the Respect Life Mass, celebrated by Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver.

At the same time as the capitol rally, about three hundred people attended a prayer vigil at Lighthouse Women’s Center in north Denver. Archbishop Aquila led the vigil and blessed participants before leading a procession to the abortion clinic Planned Parenthood Stapleton, the Archdiocese of Denver reports.

They prayed at the clinic and a choir of seminarians led a song in honor of the Virgin Mary. Many people placed flowers at the facility’s fence.

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Pope names Brazilian born priest new head of Vatican TV

Vatican City, Jan 22, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - In a restructuring of Vatican communication departments, a Brazilian born priest will be the new director of the Vatican TV station.

Pope Benedict appointed Fr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, professor at the Pontifical Lateran University and cinema expert, to take the place of Father Federico Lombardi.

“I feel very happy about this decision that has been taken because I still have a lot of work to do as head of Vatican Radio and as head of the Vatican's press office,” Fr. Lombardi, 70, told CNA.

“As long as they don't appoint a new head for these two posts, I will still remain here,” the Jesuit priest added, laughing.

The Pope named Fr. Lombardi as the Vatican's press office director in 2006, a role which later meant also heading both Vatican Television Center and Vatican Radio.

Fr. Viganò, who was born in Rio de Janeiro on June 27, 1962, is a professor at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome and veteran in cinema. He is a member of the Pontifical Theological Academy and of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

The Vatican's television station, or CTV, was founded in 1983 to broadcast Vatican activities, including the Pope's weekly general audience and angelus. It broadcasts an average of 200 live events each year.

In additional restructuring, the Pope also appointed Journalist Angelo Scelzo, the undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, as deputy director of the Vatican Press Office.

The new appointment is a way of uniting the accreditation process at the Holy See's press office. Previously, the Press Office was in charge of accrediting print journalists while the Pontifical Council for Social Communications coordinated accrediting cameramen and photographers.

Scelzo, however, will connect the two media departments. He will manage audiovisual accreditations and work with current deputy director, Fr. Ciro Benedettini.

“The decision of the Secretariat of State to finally unify the accreditation sector has been expected for a long time,” said Fr. Benedettini.

“This was just nonsensical in the present situation of cross media where print journalists can also film for a website,” he told CNA.

The Pontifical Council for Social Communications and the Vatican's press office will now be separated between “news” and “projects” accreditations. The press office will authorize news coverage at the Vatican while the social communications department will authorize documentaries.

Established by Pope Pius XII in 1948, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications aims at spreading the gospel with new media. Its president is Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli and its secretary is Monsignor Paul Tighe.

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Cardinal finds prayer, penance needed for end of abortion

Washington D.C., Jan 22, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Prayers and penitential hearts must be at the foundation of efforts to restore a genuine respect for life in America, observed Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley of Boston.

“Our nation greatly needs our prayers and personal sacrifices,” said the cardinal, who chairs the pro-life committee for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“The evil of abortion inflicts unimaginable pain, but Jesus offers us healing and renewal,” he emphasized in a Jan. 16 statement. “He came not to condemn us, but to free us from the burden of the wrongs we have done so that all might be saved.”

Jan. 22 marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that effectively legalized abortion throughout the nation.

In his anniversary statement, Cardinal O’Malley reflected on the ruling and its implications for America.

“Without grounding in the Constitution, law or human rights, these decisions have made it legal for the past forty years in the United States to end the life of an unborn child,” he said. “Since then fifty-five million children never had the chance to be born.”

He lamented that the court and much of society accept this “staggering” loss of children’s lives as “a matter of personal choice.”

Cardinal O’Malley encouraged Americans to “build a civilization worthy of human beings created in God's image.”

Stressing the spiritual nature of this battle, he invited Catholics to participate in “Nine Days of Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage” from Jan. 19 to 27.

This novena is part of a larger prayer strategy by the U.S. bishops to support life, marriage and religious liberty, he explained. Throughout the nine days, participants will pray for a renewed respect for life in the nation, as well as for the healing and conversion of all those who have been involved in the abortion industry.

Novena materials – which include daily intercessions, reflections and acts of reparation – are available via text message, social media and the website for the bishops’ conference. This portable format makes the prayers accessible to the scores of pilgrims who will be traveling to the nation’s capital on Jan. 25 for the annual March for Life.

The nine-day initiative further encourages young people to display pro-life Facebook pictures and to submit brief videos from pro-life events for a video contest.

Cardinal O’Malley also highlighted the importance of forgiveness, explaining that Christ’s “Divine Mercy knows no limits” if we only ask for it. He encouraged those who know people suffering from an abortion to compassionately aid them in seeking help.

The cardinal voiced hope that “our defense of human life and religious freedom,” as well as our witness to human dignity and compassionate service, will “spark a renewal of love and commitment to the true good of others.”

“Only a love that seeks to serve those most in need, whatever the personal cost to ourselves, is strong enough to overcome a culture of death,” he said.

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Pope Benedict celebrates St. Agnes with blessing of lambs

Vatican City, Jan 22, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - In a traditional ceremony marking the feast of Saint Agnes, Pope Benedict blessed a pair of lambs whose wool will be used to make palliums for the Church's new metropolitan archbishops.

On Jan. 21, the priests of Rome's Cathedral of St. John Lateran presented the Pope with the lambs in baskets with flowers.

The wool of the lambs, who were raised by the Trappists of Tre Fontane Monastery, will be used to make palliums, a vestment worn by metropolitan archbishops to signify their unity with the Church of Rome.

On the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, June 29, Pope Benedict will bestow the palliums on the men who were named metropolitan archbishops in the last year. June 29 is an important feast for the Roman Church, since the two apostles were martyred there in the first century.

The pallium is a white wool vestment, emblazoned with six black silk crosses. Metropolitan archbishops wear it on their shoulders over their chasuble. The wearing of the pallium dates back to at least the fifth century.

St. Agnes, whose name means “lamb” in Latin, was a Roman virgin-martyr who at the tender age of 12 gave up her life for the sake of Christ and her consecrated virginity.

Since she is mentioned in the Roman Canon, her association with the pallium is an important symbol of unity with the successor of Saint Peter.

One of the lambs wore a crown of white flowers in memory of St. Agnes' purity, and the other bore a red floral wreath to recall her faithful witness until death.

The lambs were presented to Pope Benedict at the Urban VIII Chapel at the Vatican's Apostolic Palace. They had been blessed earlier at the Basilica of St. Agnes Outside-the-walls, where the virgin-martyr is buried.

The lambs had been brought to a convent the day before, where they were washed and cared for in preparation for their presentation to the Pontiff.

After their presentation to Pope Benedict, the lambs were taken to the Saint Cecilia convent, where Benedictine sisters will care for them and finally shear them on Holy Thursday. Then the sisters will
weave the palliums from their soft, pure wool.

After the palliums are woven, they will be kept in an urn at St. Peter's tomb until their bestowal by the Bishop of Rome on the newly-appointed metropolitan archbishops.

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Vietnamese communist leader meets Pope for first time

Vatican City, Jan 22, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict received in audience today the secretary general of Vietnam's Communist Party, discussing issues of interest to the Vatican city-state and Vietnam.

The pontiff spoke with Nguyên Phú Trong on Jan. 22, who then met with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and the Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti.

The Church leaders addressed with Trong their hopes of strengthening the existing fruitful cooperation between the two states.

Trong's audience with the Pope was unusual in that he is a political leader and not a head of state, with whom Pope Benedict would usually meet.

His visit with Pope Benedict is part of a wider European tour he is conducting with another nine members of the Communist Party of Vietnam. Trong met with Italian authorities on Jan. 21 and will end his European trip with a visit to London on Jan. 24.

A Vietnamese delegation from the office in charge of religious affairs visited the Vatican just two months ago.

The Holy See has not had full diplomatic ties with Vietnam since 1975, though in 2011 Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, apostolic nuncio to Singapore, was appointed the Vatican's “Official” to Vietnam.

“Most Vietnamese will say, 'Well, this is just another meeting,' but it’s the first time a secretary general, the most powerful member of the Communist Party, visits the Pope,” Father Cuong Pham, a priest of Vietnamese descent, told CNA Jan. 22.

“I think we should give them the benefit of the doubt that there is a sincere desire to improve relations and engage the Church with the Holy See,” he added.

But Fr. Pham, who works in Rome, said the situation for Catholics there remains difficult.

“The situation has worsened because there is a big faction among members of the government that is hostile to religion as a whole and they feel like the Catholic Church is becoming too prominent,” Fr. Pham noted.

“By limiting the Church’s role, they want to show that the government is in charge because they don’t think that any religious group should have that type of influence,” he added.

And according to Fr. Pham, there are more tensions on a local level than on a government level.

“In several areas of the country there have been cases of abuse on high levels, which even violate Vietnamese law and the constitution,” said the priest.

He also observed that meeting with the Pope could perhaps change public opinion about Vietnam's human rights abuses.

“It makes the Vietnamese government look good and also that they are solicitous towards the Church and respecting freedom of religion, although that’s only on the surface and we don’t know if it will translate into action,” he said.

“The average Vietnamese would hope that the Holy Father has used the opportunity to speak for them, who are voiceless.”

Vietnamese Catholics, who constitute some seven percent of the nation's population, often face persecution from the atheist government.

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Women recount pain, suffering following abortions

Washington D.C., Jan 22, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Forty years after abortion was legalized throughout America, women who have been victims of the procedure are speaking out about the trauma and suffering it has caused in their lives.

“Women need better options than the death of their baby,” said Olivia Gans Turner, who became the director of American Victims of Abortion after experiencing the deep emotional pain that accompanied an abortion.

Turner was one of five women who spoke about the physical and emotional suffering that comes from abortion at a Jan. 22 press conference at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C.

The conference was co-sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R- NJ), Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) and Rep.  Diane Black (R-Tenn.), who said that they hoped to show America the truth about abortion by allowing its victims to tell their stories.

Turner recalled that she had an abortion in 1981, when she was in college. She said that workers at Planned Parenthood had pressured her into the procedure, while withholding crucial information about the health risks of abortion and about the development of her unborn child.

“I was told repeatedly told that I was immature and foolish not to have an abortion,” she said.

Another victim, Irene Beltran,remembered that at “the clinic, I was treated like livestock being herded from one step to the next.”  

After receiving an abortion-inducing drug, Beltran was surprised when she felt her unborn daughter moving and kicking in her womb. She went to the hospital in the hopes of saving her baby, but it was too late to reverse the effects of the procedure.

Beltran gave birth to a baby girl who died in her arms shortly after being born. She named her daughter Leonor and spent the child's final moments apologizing for what she had unknowingly done. Feeling betrayed by the experience, she decided to speak up to inform other women who may be drawn to make the same choice.

Other women recounted their intense emotional struggles with the aftermath of abortion. One woman, Kellie Stauffer, said that after having an abortion at the age of 14, she suffered for more than a decade with post-traumatic stress disorder until she was able to start the process of healing and forgiveness at a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat

“(L)ife sadly was never the same,” Stauffer said. “I tried to numb my pain in anyway I could find: drugs, alcohol, food, meaningless relationships, but nothing took away the deep darkness that overwhelmed my soul.”

Linda Shrewsbury, a  founding member of American Victims of Abortion and Black Americans for Life, said that when she had an abortion 40 years ago, she was not prepared for "the mental and emotional darkness I was about to enter."

“I couldn’t have grasped the immense psychological toll abortion would take for years into the future,” she said.

As an African American woman struggling to come to terms with her own abortion, Shrewsbury was shocked to discover what she called the racist roots of abortion in America and how the push for the procedure was tied to the eugenics movement.

The press conference also discussed the harm caused by regulations allowing minors to obtain abortions without parental notification or consent.

One participant, Marcia Carroll, recounted how her daughter had become pregnant at age 14 and decided, with the support of her family, to keep her baby.

However, the baby's father and his family did not support the decision and tried to pressure Carroll's daughter into changing her mind. Carroll said that this harassment concerned her and she relied upon parental consent laws in the state to keep her daughter safe.

Tragically, she said, her daughter's boyfriend and his family coerced and threatened her into getting a secret abortion, taking her across state lines to circumvent the parental consent law and berating the young girl when she started crying out of fear.

Carroll said that her daughter suffered from years of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide attempts as a result of the experience. In addition, she later learned that the doctor who performed the abortion had "previously had his medical license revoked for unethical practices and sexual misconduct against minors.”  

Calling for stricter regulations for the protection of young women, Carroll said that years later, “it is still hard for me to understand how anything about that day could be considered legal or safe.”

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After 40 years of abortion, bishops voice sorrow, hope

Washington D.C., Jan 22, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Church leaders across the U.S. expressed both grief and renewed determination on the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion throughout America.

“Forty years after Roe v. Wade, the scourge of abortion is still a part of our land,” said Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, D.C., “but the faith, love and witness of our young people is a reminder to all of us that in the end, truth, goodness, life and love will win out.”

“Abortion continues to be the defining human rights issue of our age,” the cardinal said in a Jan. 22 blog post.

He called for “serious reflection, prayer and action” on the millions of lives that have been lost in the name of “choice.” At the same time, he said, there is ample reason for hope.

Recalling the Holy Spirit's “palpable” presence at Pentecost, the cardinal pointed to the vibrant energy of the huge crowds of young people that gather in Washington, D.C. every year to stand up for life.

This “next generation of pro-life disciples” sheds the light of hope on the darkness of the past four decades of legalized abortion, he said.

“As I process into the Verizon Center each year to celebrate the Mass for Life, I experience their faith and their joy and their incredible witness for life and love,” he reflected. “Each year, their witness reminds us of the urgency of the moment, the commitment of our young people, and the power of the Eucharist.”

Catholics are called “to be confident in the truth of our faith and share it with others,” particularly in this Year of Faith, Cardinal Wuerl said, stressing that “the Gospel of Life will continue to change hearts and will ultimately change our nation.”

Other Church leaders also joined in expressing both sorrow and hope at the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, using the internet and social media to convey their message.

“Today is a day of mourning for our nation,” Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City posted on Twitter. “Forty years after Roe v. Wade we beg the Lord's mercy and pray for conversion and repentance.”

Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison posted on Facebook that he was praying in a special way “for our nation, that individually and as a society we might experience the conversion of heart necessary to view every life as sacred.”

“The forces of death press on from every side in contemporary American culture,” added Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio of Brooklyn. He called for “direct conversation” and political courage to restore a sense of respect for both life and religious liberty.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston observed that it is “wondrous to see so many young people who have become enthusiastic participants in the pro-life movement.”

In a Jan. 22 blog post, the cardinal reflected on both the growing numbers of pro-life Americans and the “somber” and “daunting” task ahead of them.

“What was not foreseen in 1973 was that the fledgling Pro-Life Movement of that time has not only remained, but also has grown in tenacity and confidence,” he explained.

In addition, he said, through programs such as Project Rachel, those who have been harmed by abortions have found healing, forgiveness and peace.

Looking to the future, Cardinal DiNardo acknowledged that changing hearts “requires much work, much persuasion, good teaching and financial backing.”

However, he added, these elements alone “will never accomplish anything if they are not matched by insistent and consistent prayer to the Lord to grant us what we need to turn hearts towards the true meaning of human life.”

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LA archdiocese vows continued anti-abuse efforts

Los Angeles, Calif., Jan 22, 2013 (CNA) - As former priests face litigation over sexual abuse, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has renewed its commitment to protect the young people of the Church.

“No institution has learned more from mistakes made decades ago in dealing with priests who have abused young people than the Archdiocese of Los Angeles,” said a Jan. 22 release from the archdiocese.

“The past cannot be changed, but we have learned from it. We are justifiably proud of our record of child protection in the 21st century, and we remain vigilant against all that would harm our children and young people.”

The Los Angeles Times published a story Jan. 21 saying that 25 years ago, in the late 1980s, archdiocesan officials tried to hide sex abuse cases from police.

The paper's story is based on personnel files dating from 1986 and 1987 which were filed as evidence in pending litigation involving two former priests.

“We have apologized for the sad and shameful actions of some priests,” the archdiocese stated, “as well as for our inadequate responses in assisting victims and in dealing with perpetrators.”

“For more than a decade, however, few institutions have done as much as the Los Angeles Archdiocese to promptly report abuse allegations to civil authorities, to screen all those who supervise children, and to train adults and children in the latest abuse prevention procedures.”

Much of what the L.A. Times discusses are memos between Los Angeles’ former archbishop, Cardinal Roger Mahony, and then-Monsignor Thomas Curry, who was vicar of clergy at the time. Msgr. Curry was consecrated a bishop in 1994, and since that time has served as one of the auxiliary bishops of the Los Angeles archdiocese.

Cardinal Mahony stated Jan. 21 that his “thoughts and prayers” are with the victims of the “sinful abuse” committed by Catholic clergy.

He wrote that the archdiocese took steps towards safeguarding children beginning in 1987 and that they progressed “as we learned more about…the ineffectiveness of so-called ‘treatments’ at the time.”

The cardinal, who retired in 2011, recounted his meetings with the victims of abuse. He said he offered them his “personal apology” and “took full responsibility…for my own failure to protect fully the children and youth entrusted to my care.”

He said he keeps the names of victims and their abusers on the altar of his private chapel and that “every single day” he prays for the victims, each of whom is “precious in God’s eyes and deserving of my own prayer and sacrifices for them.”

Bishop Curry also released a statement, saying Jan. 22 that he wishes to “apologize for those instances when I made decisions regarding the treatment and disposition of clergy accused of sexual abuse that in retrospect appear inadequate or mistaken.”

He also expressed sympathy for the victims of abuse by clergy and said he has “come to a fuller understanding over the years of the causes and treatment of sexual abuse.”

Bishop Curry noted that in his pastoral region, Santa Barbara, he has “fully implemented…the Archdiocese’s policies and procedures for reporting abuse, screening those who supervise children, and abuse prevention training for adults and children.”

Cardinal Mahony concluded, “It remains my daily and fervent prayer that God’s grace will flood the heart and soul of each victim, and that their life-journey continues forward with ever greater healing.”

The ex-priests facing pending litigation are, according to the L.A. archdiocese, Nicholas Aguilar Rivera and Michael Baker. Rivera served in Los Angeles in 1987 and 1988, when he returned to Mexico, where he was from. Baker was ordained in 1974, and resigned from the priesthood in 2000.

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