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Archive of May 13, 2013

Spirit prevents 'Nobel Prize for Holiness' thoughts, Pope says

Vatican City, May 13, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Holy Spirit helps Christians remember their personal history so they do not think they are “a winner of the ‘Nobel Prize for Holiness,’” Pope Francis said this morning.

“And when a little vanity creeps in, when someone believes themselves to be a winner of the ‘Nobel Prize for Holiness,’ then memory is also good for us: ‘But ... remember where I took you from, the very least of the flock. You were behind, in the flock,’” the Pope preached May 13 in his homily on Acts 19.

Vatican Radio technicians and staff from the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrant attended the 7:00 a.m. Mass in the chapel of St. Martha’s residence.

The reading from the Acts of the Apostles recalled a trip that St. Paul made to Ephesus, where he met some disciples and asked them if they received the Holy Spirit. They replied, “We have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

This response served as the launching point for the Pope’s homily.

These first Christians’ lack of awareness is not something that was confined to the first ages of the faith, he noted.

“Even now, many Christians do not know who the Holy Spirit is, what the Holy Spirit is. And you sometimes hear: ‘But I get on well enough with the Father and with Son, because I pray the Our Father to the Father, I have communion with the Son, but I do not know what to do with the Holy Spirit …’” Pope Francis remarked.  

These people see the Holy Spirit as “‘the dove, the one that gives us the seven gifts,’” he explained.

“But in this way,” the Pope said, “the poor Holy Spirit always comes last and finds no place in our lives.”

Pope Francis described the Holy Spirit as “God active in us,” “God who helps us remember,” who “awakens our memory.” Jesus himself explained this to the Apostles before Pentecost: the Spirit that God will send in my name “will remind you of everything I have said.”

“Memory is a great grace, and when a Christian has no memory – this is a hard thing, but it’s true – he is not a Christian, he is an idolater,” the Holy Father stated.

He explained that this is because people who have no memory fall into the trap of thinking that they do not need God and can save themselves.

But the Holy Spirit helps believers “enter into history,” he said, pointing to St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews.

There, the Pope taught, “the author says: ‘Remember your fathers in the faith’ – memory; ‘remember the early days of your faith, how you were courageous’ - memory. A memory of our life, of our history, a memory of the moment when we had the grace of meeting Jesus, the memory of all that Jesus has told us.”

“That memory that comes from the heart, that is a grace of the Holy Spirit,” Pope Francis stressed.

He said remembering also means recalling “one’s own misery, that which makes us slaves, and together with them, the grace of God that redeems us from our miseries.”

Pope Francis concluded with an invitation to Christians to ask the grace of memory, so that they will never forget the paths that have been taken, “that they will not forget the graces of their lives; that they will not forget the forgiveness of their sins; that they will not forget that they were slaves and the Lord has saved them.”

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Italian pro-lifers hope Rome march has global reach

Rome, Italy, May 13, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The main organizer of Italy’s March for Life hopes that its location in Rome means it has global influence by sending “a message to the whole Christian world.”

“This event is very important for us and it gives a worldwide impact since it is in Rome. And I think in the future it could be the most important one,” said Virginia Coda Nunziante, organizer of Italy’s March for Life.

“Rome is the seat of Christianity and to host this here is important because it gives a message to the whole Christian world,” she remarked May 12 during the annual March for Life.

Sunday’s demonstration was the third time the Italian March for Life was held and the second time it took place in Rome.

Some news accounts reported around 40,000 participants for the demonstration, but CNA’s staff on the ground estimated the crowd at around 20,000 marchers.

The annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. regularly draws crowds in the hundreds of thousands that are underreported in the American media.

The most recent march, which took place on January 25, drew around 400,000 people, with about 80 percent of those demonstrators being young people, according to organizers.

People from the United States, Europe and Africa gathered on May 12 outside the Coliseum where they heard from pro-life advocates before beginning their route to Castel Sant’Angelo.

After completing their march, they joined thousands of pilgrims at Saint Peter’s Square who were there for a canonization ceremony and Pope Francis’ weekly Regina Caeli address.

The pro-life marchers were not disappointed, since the Pope greeted them in particular.

“I greet the participants of the March for Life which took place this morning in Rome and invite everyone to stay focused on the important issue of respect for human life, from the moment of conception,” he said.

However, contrary to some news reports, the Pope did not join the march but made a brief trip in the popemobile outside of St. Peter’s Square, as he has done in recent weeks. Participants in the march were at the end of his route and had the chance to see Pope Francis.

The event was organized by several Italian pro-life groups and featured well-known speakers, such as the president of the U.S. March for Life, Jeanne Monahan, pro-life activist Lila Rose, and the Mayor of Rome, Giovanni Alemanno.

“We would like to spread the culture of life in Italy so this is an occasion to get all of Italy’s associations and groups together to say a clear ‘yes’ to life and ‘no’ to abortion,” said march organizer Coda Nunziante.

Italy legalized abortion in 1978, leading to the deaths of six million babies between then and now, according to Coda Nunziante.

But Italians were not the only ones present, since groups from Poland, France, Belgium, Ireland, Spain, Albania and Nigeria also traveled to Rome to defend the unborn.

“This is very important for Italians to understand that abortion is a worldwide problem, so we all have to be tied together in order to have a wider impact,” she said.

A pro-life group from Szczecin, which is very active in Poland, also participated in last year’s march in Rome.

“We shouldn’t only demonstrate defending life in Poland but in the whole world because life is the most important value, it is global and universal,” said Alicia Kanselarcik outside the Coliseum.

Alan Holdren contributed to this report from Rome.

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Popemobile trip surprises March for Life participants

Vatican City, May 13, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pro-lifers who had just finished the third annual Italian March for Life on Sunday were surprised to see Pope Francis coming toward them in the popemobile.

“It was a great joy for us because we didn’t expect this at all, we just expected his message,” said March for Life organizer Virginia Coda Nunziante.

“It was extraordinary because I met the people who unexpectedly saw him coming,” she told CNA on May 13.

The popemobile brought the Pope down the first block of Via della Conciliazione after he finished his first canonization Mass and the weekly Regina Caeli prayer on Sunday.

May 12 was also the day that around 20,000 pro-lifers from Italy and beyond converged on Rome to defend the unborn and call for an end to abortion in the country.

Their route took them from the Coliseum to Castel Sant’ Angelo, which sits on the end of Via della Conciliazione. A large number of the pro-lifers then continued down the street to be present for Pope Francis reciting the Regina Caeli.

Before praying the Marian prayer, the Pope acknowledged the presence of the group.

“I greet the participants of the March for Life which took place this morning in Rome and invite everyone to stay focused on the important issue of respect for human life, from the moment of conception,” he said.

“I think Pope Francis understands the importance of this and he encourages all Catholics to stand up against abortion,” said Coda Nunziante.

Speakers at the march included the Mayor of Rome, Giovanni Alemanno, well-known American pro-life activist Lila Rose, and the president of the U.S. March for Life, Jeanne Monahan.

But one speaker at the event, a Chinese seminarian who wore sunglasses and asked participants not to take his picture, stood out because he gave his testimony without revealing his identity.

“His words were very touching and he spoke about what is happening in China where over 400 million babies have been aborted in 40 years,” Coda Nunziante recalled.

Irene Van der Wende, who was conceived in rape and aborted her baby after she was also raped at age 15, also spoke out against abortion at the Coliseum.

“I’ve come here to educate the public about what abortion does to children,” said Van der Wende.
 
“It’s only when we show the graphics, pictures and the reality that people will be moved in their hearts,” she told CNA.

The event’s main speaker was Jeanne Monahan, the president of the U.S. March for life, who said she thinks the annual American gathering is the largest civil demonstration in the world.

“But coming here is amazing,” Monahan said.

“Italians’ understanding of being involved in the public sphere is very different to ours, so this is pretty new to them,” she commented.

For Monahan “it’s also fascinating to be in Rome” because she is Catholic.

“Italians are a little shy and discouraged to get involved because of the culture of death. So everything that we can do makes a huge difference,” said Monahan.

“I also think it’s beautifully ironic that today is Mother’s Day in Italy and in the U.S. because the call to many women is to be a mother, either spiritually or physically,” she said, summing up the holiday.

On the other hand, “abortion is the most anti-woman thing that anyone could every do,” Monahan stated.

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Vatican stats show continued growth in Africa, Asia

Vatican City, May 13, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Vatican statistics released today show that the number of Asian and African Catholics is continuing its upward trajectory, while the Church in Europe is still shrinking.

The number of religious excluding priests has risen 18.5 percent in Africa and a whopping 44.9 percent in Asia in just 10 years, according to the 2013 Pontifical Yearbook.

The Yearbook, which was published May 13 and contains data from 2011, revealed Catholics still make up less than 18 percent of the world’s population, but the Church is growing the fastest in Africa and Asia.

And although it shows “a strong downward trend was observed in data for the professed religious women with a decrease of 10 percent from 2001 to 2011,” there has also been “a sustained increase” with over 28 percent in Africa and 18 percent in Asia.

The Yearbook states that although the number of Catholics in the world increased by just 1.5 percent from 2010 to 2011, it increased by 4.3 percent in Africa and 2 percent in Asia.

The total number of Catholics that were baptized in 2011 had the highest representation in the Americas at 48.8 percent, followed by Europe with 23.5 percent, Africa was at 16 percent, Asia had 10.9 percent and Oceania came in at just under one percent.

“The dynamics of the number of priests in Africa and Asia is somewhat comforting,” says the document.

It reports that there were over 3,000 new priests in the two continents in 2011 and that in 10 years the numbers increased by 39.5 percent in Africa and 32 percent in Asia.

“America remains stationary around an average of 122,000 priests and Europe, in contrast to the global average, has seen a decrease of 9 percent in the past decade,” the Yearbook says.

Another surprising fact is that the number of permanent deacons has also boomed, especially in Europe and the United States, increasing by over 40 percent in the last 10 years.

The Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and the Substitute for General Affairs Archbishop Angelo Becciu presented the Yearbook on May 13 to Pope Francis.

It was edited by several people, including Monsignor Vittorio Formenti, head of the Central Bureau of Statistics of the Church, and Enrico Nenna, the chief statistician in the Vatican’s Central Office for Church Statistics.

The number of Catholics worldwide has remained steady at 1.214 billion for the year 2011.

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Undecided on two charges, Gosnell jurors continue deliberations

Philadelphia, Pa., May 13, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The jury considering the case of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell has said it is deadlocked on two of the more than 250 charges against the doctor accused of killing a patient and several babies born alive.

The two undecided charges were not announced. Deliberations are now in their 10th day.

Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart on Monday instructed the jury to try to arrive at unanimous decisions on all counts. He asked jurors to return to the jury room and discuss the charges further, NBC 10 Philadelphia reports.

Gosnell, 72, initially faced seven counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of infants who were allegedly killed after surviving abortions at his Philadelphia clinic, the Women’s Medical Society.

Judge Minehart threw out three of the infant murder charges after Gosnell’s attorney argued that there was no proof the babies had been born alive.

In addition to the four remaining first-degree murder charges, Gosnell also faces a third-degree murder charge concerning a Virginia woman who died in 2009 after his untrained clinic employees allegedly administered an overdose of a drug.

Other charges include racketeering, conspiracy, failure to counsel women and illegal third-trimester abortions.

Gosnell’s trial became a rallying cry for pro-life advocates, who lamented a lack of major media coverage of the trial. Their efforts on social media helped draw attention to the case.

The gruesome testimony at the trial included reports that Gosnell and his staff snipped the necks of over 100 babies who survived abortions. One doctor at the clinic testified that the procedure was “literally a beheading.”

Gosnell’s clinic reportedly had minimal state oversight through 1993 and no oversight since then. The practices at his clinic were not discovered until a Federal Bureau of Investigation and Drug Enforcement Agency raid was conducted in February 2010 to seek evidence of illegal distribution of prescription painkillers.

Investigators found blood-stained rooms and filthy equipment. The clinic stored aborted fetuses in a basement freezer in plastic food containers and bags next to staff lunches. Gosnell kept severed feet of unborn babies preserved in specimen jars, allegedly for future identification or DNA samples.

Staff members allegedly sent women to give birth into toilets, a doctor allegedly spread sexually transmitted infections to women through poor sanitary standards and a 15-year-old staffer reportedly administered anesthesia to patients. In addition, there have been accusations that the clinic gave better treatment to white patients than minorities.

Gosnell, who had also operated a clinic in Delaware, could face the death penalty if convicted.

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Board game created by nun becomes a hit in Spain

Rome, Italy, May 13, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A new faith-based board game created by a Spanish nun has become one of the most popular First Communion gifts in Spain this year.

Sister Maria Granados Molina created the new game, “The Joy of the Faith,” which tests players’ knowledge of Catholicism. The game’s publisher said 2,000 copies have been made since the game went on sale a few months ago, and there are hopes to market it in the United States and Latin America.

Thirty-five year-old Sr. Molina was born in Granada and belongs to a Carmelite order in the city of Cuenca. She works as a catechist for the Diocese of Cuenca.

In an interview with CNA, Sr. Molina said she never imagined the game would become so popular. She made the first version of the game at home with her own printer and the help “of the sisters from my congregation in Cuenca.”

“The Joy of the Faith” is intended to help players learn about Jesus and the experience of being a Christian. Players roll dice and answer questions about the Catholic faith to move along the spaces on the board. The game incorporates drawings, gestures and prayers.
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Sr. Molina debuted the game in Madrid last year during a conference on catechesis. It was picked up by a national distributor and made available later throughout the country.

“The game is the fruit of a desire, a concern and a prayer…and I think it has received a surprising reception. Nobody thought that with the way Spain is right now that a game like this would be a success,” she said.

The game is based on the children’s catechetical book “Jesus is Lord,” which was approved by the Bishops’ Conference of Spain. It is intended for children ages 7 and up, and it can be played by groups of young people, families, schools and catechists.

“I wanted people to draw closer to the experience of Jesus,” Sr. Molina said.

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Abortionist Gosnell convicted of three baby murders

Philadelphia, Pa., May 13, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell on Monday was convicted on three of the four first degree murder charges for killing babies who had been born alive.

Gosnell, 72, could face the death penalty for the murder charges. The jury will hear arguments for and against a death sentence a week from Tuesday.

The unborn babies were known only by letters, and Gosnell was convicted of the murders of Baby Boy A, Baby C and Baby D at his Philadelphia clinic, the Women’s Medical Society.

Baby Boy A was killed after Gosnell induced delivery on his mother, who was almost 30 weeks pregnant. Gosnell severed the baby’s spine and put his body in a shoebox for disposal, joking that the baby was so big he could “walk me to the bus stop,” the grand jury report said.

Baby C moved and breathed for 20 minutes after delivery before an assistant cut the baby’s spinal cord.

Baby D was delivered into a toilet. A clinic staffer told the grand jury that the baby moved and looked like it was swimming when another staffer removed the baby from the toilet and cut its neck.

The abortionist was found not guilty in the death of Baby E, who a witness said cried before Gosnell killed it and put it in a waste bin.

Gosnell initially faced seven counts of first degree murder for the deaths of infants who were allegedly killed after being born alive.

Judge Jeffrey Minehart threw out three of the infant murder charges for unstated reasons. Gosnell’s attorney had argued that there was no proof the babies had been born alive.

The abortion doctor was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a patient who died of an overdose in 2009. Prosecutors had sought a third-degree murder charge in her case, saying Gosnell let his untrained and unlicensed staff give the 41-year-old Bhutanese immigrant woman a fatal combination of drugs.

The abortionist was also convicted of infanticide in the death of Baby A and conspiracy in the deaths of babies D and C.

Gosnell faced over 250 charges, including racketeering, conspiracy and violations of Pennsylvania’s late-term abortion ban. He faced more than 200 counts of breaking a state law that requires a 24-hour waiting period on abortion.

The gruesome testimony at the trial included reports that Gosnell and his staff snipped the necks of over 100 babies who survived abortions. One doctor at the clinic testified that the procedure was “literally a beheading.”

The grand jury report said that most of the acts could not be prosecuted because Gosnell destroyed the files.

Gosnell’s name became a rallying cry for pro-life advocates who lamented a lack of major media coverage of his trial. Their efforts on social media helped draw attention to the case.

Lila Rose, president of the pro-life group Live Action, said Gosnell’s “gruesome and inhuman crimes” had “cried out for justice.”

“Even as we celebrate this verdict, we honor and mourn as well those innocents who did not receive ‘their day in court’ – and we must remember that Gosnell is not an outlier within the abortion industry,” Rose said May 13.

Jack McMahon, Gosnell’s attorney, said his client was “disappointed” and “upset” over the verdict. McMahon said the jury “obviously took their job seriously.”

“The verdict should be respected based on their effort,” he said, Fox News reports.

The jury had said it was deadlocked on two charges early on Monday. It was not reported which charges had caused the deadlock.

Gosnell’s clinic had minimal state oversight through 1993 and no oversight since then. The practices at his clinic were not discovered until a Federal Bureau of Investigation and Drug Enforcement Agency raid was conducted in February 2010 to seek evidence of illegal distribution of prescription painkillers.

Investigators found blood-stained rooms and filthy equipment. The clinic stored aborted fetuses in a basement freezer in plastic food containers and bags next to staff lunches. Gosnell kept severed feet of unborn babies preserved in specimen jars, allegedly for future identification or DNA samples.

Staff allegedly sent women to give birth into toilets, a doctor allegedly spread sexually transmitted infections to women through poor sanitary standards, and a 15-year-old staffer administered anesthesia to patients. The clinic allegedly gave better treatment to white patients.

Several of Gosnell’s former employees have pleaded guilty to murder and other charges.

The exposure of Gosnell’s clinic resulted in the firing of two high-ranking Pennsylvania health department officials and tougher rules for Philadelphia abortion clinics, none of which had been inspected in 15 years.

Gosnell had also operated a clinic in Delaware.

He performed thousands of abortions over his 30-year career, making about $1.8 million per year. Authorities found $250,000 hidden in a bedroom when they searched his house. He still faces federal drug charges, Fox News reports.

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Gosnell conviction prompts call for abortion business scrutiny

Philadelphia, Pa., May 13, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - As news of the guilty verdict of first degree murder for abortionist Kermit Gosnell broke, pro-life leaders welcomed his conviction while calling for a closer look at the abortion industry as a whole.

U.S. Congresswoman Diane Black, (R–Tenn.), said that while she applauds the grand jury’s decision to convict the Philadelphia abortionist on at least three charges of first-degree murder, she said his crimes “stand as a stark reminder that there is no such thing as a safe abortion.”

“While Gosnell’s horrific actions were especially egregious,” she said in a May 13 statement, “we should remember that this is what happens each time an abortion is performed – a beating heart is stopped and an innocent human life is ended.”

Gosnell faced over 250 charges, including racketeering, conspiracy and violations of Pennsylvania’s late-term abortion ban. He faced more than 200 counts of breaking a state law that requires a 24-hour waiting period on abortion.

He was convicted for three of four first-degree murder charges and the one charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a patient who died of an overdose.

The gruesome testimony at the trial included reports that Gosnell and his staff snipped the necks of over 100 babies who survived abortions. One doctor at the clinic testified that the procedure was “literally a beheading.”

Gosnell, 72, could face the death penalty for his crimes.

Rep. Chris Smith, (R–N.J.), Co-Chairman of the House Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, said that “not much” difference exists between Gosnell’s “House of Horrors” and abortion clinics around the country.

“Some abortionists may have cleaner sheets than Gosnell, and better sterilized equipment and better trained accomplices, but what they do – what Gosnell did – kill babies and hurt women – is the same,” he said in a May 13 statement.

Although some 55 million babies have been aborted in the 40 years since abortion has been legal in the United States, there is an “appalling lack of compassion” for the victims and their mothers who have been “physically, emotionally, psychologically” wounded, he said.

Lila Rose, president of pro-life investigative group, Live Action, said Gosnell’s “gruesome and inhuman crimes” must not be seen as outliers in the abortion industry.

“We cannot allow these 'guilty' verdicts, welcome as they are, to make us complacent when it comes to the continuing abuses happening even now in abortion facilities throughout our nation,” she said.

In her statement, Rose called on Congress “to investigate all those participating in or willing to participate in this kind of brutality” toward women and children.

Anna Higgins, director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council, called the jury’s verdict “a just conclusion to a horrific case.”

However, she said, the case highlights the “callous disregard for the health and safety of women” as well as the “inhumanity of abortion.”

Higgins called on Congress to work with states in requiring abortion clinics “to apply the same safety standards as those followed by other medical facilities, including veterinary offices.”

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