Archive of August 31, 2013

Catholic Voices USA names Boston media leader as new head

Boston, Mass., Aug 31, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The communications training group Catholic Voices USA has named as its next executive director Scot Landry, a leading media official with the Archdiocese of Boston.

“I am very excited for the opportunity to lead the Catholic Voices apostolate and to continue to participate in the Church's New Evangelization efforts,” Landry said in an interview published Aug. 30 in the Boston archdiocese’s newspaper The Boston Pilot.

Based on its British counterpart, Catholic Voices USA was founded to train lay people to present Catholicism in a positive way, mobilizing them to counter misrepresentations and make the case for the Catholic Church in the public square, through debates, media interviews and other formats.

The group’s previous director, Kim Daniels, was named spokeswoman for U.S. bishops’ conference president Cardinal Timothy Dolan earlier this year.

Landry is currently the Archdiocese of Boston’s Secretary for Media, as well as president and CEO of iCatholic Media, the corporation overseeing the archdiocese’s media efforts.

“We're beyond delighted,” Catholic Voices director Kathryn Jean Lopez said Aug. 29. “His organizational skills, evangelical zeal, and leadership talents are a great gift for this apostolic project -- one that so many people seem to crave.”

Landry said Catholic Voices “meets a huge need in the Church for lay people to become articulate, well-catechized and media-ready communicators, particularly on hot-button issues.”

He said that many media-trained individuals who comment on Catholic issues for the secular media sometimes “have an agenda that isn't always faithful to Church teaching” and can lead people astray.

“The good news is that we have many well-catechized lay Catholics who love the Church and have the authority of direct lived experience,” he added. “They simply need some media training to be comfortable and effective sharing, explaining and defending the Catholic faith particularly in the media. Training these individuals is the main purpose of Catholic Voices.”

Landry has served with the Archdiocese of Boston since 2006. He previously served as the archdiocese’s Secretary for Institutional Advancement, overseeing the annual Catholic appeal. As Secretary for Media, he is responsible for The Pilot, the archdiocese’s CatholicTV station, and archdiocesan websites and new media.

He helped bring a Catholic radio station to Boston and led the use of social media in the archdiocese. He also served on teams that managed initiatives like Catholics Come Home, The Light is On For You, and the educational campaign to defeat an assisted suicide initiative in Massachusetts, The Pilot reports.

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley praised Landry’s “gifts for leadership, organization, training and communication.”

Bishop Robert P. Deeley, the archdiocese’s vicar general, said Landry has been “particularly helpful” in evangelization efforts.

“I hope his new endeavors, which will build on his abilities in media and evangelization, will bring him much happiness,” Bishop Deeley said.

Landry said assisting Cardinal O’Malley and others of the archdiocese has been “one of the biggest honors of my life.”

The Pilot reports that Landry will continue to play a role in the Boston archdiocese, serving as a consultant for the cardinal, writing newspaper columns and hosting the radio program “The Good Catholic Life.”

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China one-child policy denounced as violating women's rights

Washington D.C., Aug 31, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - As stories of forced abortions continue to surface in China, a women’s rights activist is arguing that the nation’s one-child policy has widespread negative effects on the society, particularly its women.

Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women's Rights Without Frontiers, told CNA that the one-child policy “is enforced through forced abortion, up to the ninth month of pregnancy. It is also enforced through forced sterilization and coercive birth control.”

“This is the true war against women,” she stated.

Littlejohn’s organization recently translated an article by Lili Zeng, a woman from Guangdong Province in the south of China. Posted on the Chinese news site Tianya, the article said that “two days before my baby boy was due, seven family planning officials held down my body and forcibly aborted my baby by needle injection because I did not have a ‘birth permit.’”

The report is one of numerous similar accounts that have surfaced in recent months, as social media allows Chinese women to tell their stories to the world.

Last year, blind pro-life activist Chen Guangcheng made international headlines by escaping house arrest in China and asking to be taken to the U.S. to rest in safety with his family.

In her article, Zeng said that her child was born alive despite the efforts to abort him, yet died soon after birth. According to Zeng, a family planning officer told her, “I am just an executor of the policy.”

“If I were not the family planning director, there would be somebody else who would have handled the situation the same way, and your fate would have been the same,” the official continued. “If you want to blame someone, please blame the (one-child) policy.”

Littlejohn charged that the total number of abortions conducted in recent decades under the one-child policy “is greater than the entire population of the United States,” and that many of the procedures “are forced, and most of those births 'prevented' are females.”

She explained that the policy has heavily impacted Chinese demographics, creating an overall population that is older and more male than it would naturally be. In addition, low fertility rates, between “1.5 to 1.7 children per woman – well below the replacement level of 2.1,” are creating a society that “is getting old before it is getting rich.”

“Beyond this,” she cautioned, “because of the traditional preference for boys, girls are selectively aborted.”

Littlejohn explained that “China has the most skewed sex ratio at birth of any nation: 119 boys born for every 100 girls.”

This sex-selective abortion is resulting in “an estimated 37 million Chinese men who will never marry, because their future wives were selectively terminated,” she added, noting that this imbalance “is a powerful, driving force behind trafficking in women and sexual slavery” throughout Southeast Asia.

The one-child policy further harms women by severely impacting their health, Littlejohn explained.

“Some forced abortions are so violent that the women themselves die,” she observed, “along with their full term babies.”

Forced sterilizations can also “lead to life-long health complications,” and the one-child policy has had a negative effect upon the country’s mental health, she cautioned.

Even the U.S. State Department recognizes “the traditional preference for male children, (and) birth limitation policies” as factors in China having the “highest female suicide rate of any country in the world – approximately 590 women a day,” Littlejohn noted.

“Forced abortion shatters women psychologically,” she said.

Littlejohn urged those who object to the policy to support initiatives to help women in the country, and specifically to help empower “the woman to resist those who want her to abort or abandon her daughter.”

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Pope Francis names Italian archbishop to top Vatican post

Vatican City, Aug 31, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis made a key appointment at the Vatican today, naming 58-year-old Italian Archbishop Pietro Parolin as his new Secretary of State.

“It is with trepidation that I place myself in this new service to the Gospel, to the Church and to Pope Francis,” said Archbishop Parolin in an Aug. 31 statement, which was released by the Holy See Press Office along with the news of his appointment.

For the last four years, Archbishop Parolin has been serving as the Vatican's top diplomat, or Apostolic Nuncio, to Venezuela.

In the much-awaited appointment, Pope Francis has tapped him to replace current secretary of state, 78-year-old Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, appointed in 2006 by Benedict XVI. Cardinal Bertone, a canon lawyer and theologian by training, has continued to serve Pope Francis since his March 13 election.

Archbishop Parolin was trained at the Vatican's diplomatic school and has extensive experience working with the Secretariat of State both in Rome and abroad.

He served in Nigeria and Mexico before working in the Vatican Secretary of State from 2002-2009, where he served in the high-ranking position of Undersecretary for Relations with States.

“He knows how the Vatican works, and how the Catholic Church works around the world,” commented Greg Burke, Senior Communications Advisor to the Vatican Secretary of State, following the appointment.

The Vatican announced that Pope Francis has also confirmed Archbishop Giovanni Angleo Becciu as Subsitute for General Affairs; Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States; Archbishop George Ganswein, Prefect of the Papal Household; Msgr. Peter Wells, Assessor for General Affairs; and Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, Under-Secretary for Relations with States.

However Archbishop Parolin’s appointment as Secretary of State – the top Vatican post – is particularly important.

“Pope Francis will rely on him heavily for everything regarding international relations,” Burke noted.

Archbishop Parolin has particular experience facing challenging diplomatic situations.

For many years, he led annual Vatican discussions of church-state issues with Vietnam’s communist government. The eventual result was Vietnam’s acceptance of a non-resident papal representative to the country.

Additionally, the archbishop has represented the Vatican at international conferences on topics such as human trafficking and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Archbishop Parolin is going to be one of the most influential aides of Pope Francis,” said Burke.

In addition to his native Italian, Archbishop Parolin speaks French, English, and Spanish fluently.

His professional experience was not the only reason for his appointment, said Burke.

“The Pope certainly chose Parolin for his diplomatic experience,” he explained, “but above all because he’s a good priest, who shares the same vision of why people should work for the Church: to serve Christ and serve others.”

The archbishop entrusted himself to God's protection before such a “difficult and challenging mission,” but he also expressed gratitude to Pope Francis for showing him “unmerited trust.”

He pledged his “willingness and complete availability to work with [Pope Francis] and under his guidance for the greater glory of God, the good of the Holy Church, and the progress and peace of humanity, that humanity might find reasons to live and to hope.”

Besides a deep devotion to the service of the Church, Archbishop Parolin seems to share something else in common with Pope Francis: the addition of a personal touch. At the end of his official remarks regarding his appointment, he added in Spanish, “And, as they say in Venezuela, ‘May God bless you!’”

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