Archive of March 22, 2014

South Carolina abortion ban could protect pain-capable unborn

Columbia, S.C., Mar 22, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pro-life advocates praised the South Carolina House’s passage of a bill to ban abortions after 19 weeks into pregnancy – the point at which science has indicated unborn children can feel pain.

“The majority of Americans support this swift moving, popular movement to protect children from abortion more than halfway through pregnancy,” Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List said Wednesday.

Dannenfelser thanked the bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Wendy Nanney, saying her efforts “reflect the reality that women support this measure in even higher numbers than men.”

“I've always been pro-life,” Nanney said.

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act passed March 19 by a vote of 84-29 in the Republican-controlled House, largely by a party-line vote, the Charleston Post and Courier reports.

Bill supporters cited claims that unborn children can feel pain at 20 weeks into pregnancy.

Nanney, responding to criticisms of those claims, said she would “rather err on the side of protecting that baby from pain.”

No South Carolina clinic performs 20-week abortions, the Post and Courier says. The bill provides an exception for women on the verge of organ failure or death.

The bill could face legal challenges if it passes the state Senate and is signed into law.

Nine other states have passed bans on abortions 20 weeks into pregnancy.

In West Virginia, the Democrat-controlled legislature passed a similar pro-life bill by overwhelming margins. It now heads to the desk of West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. Though Tomblin is a pro-life Democrat, he has told The Associated Press he is concerned that the bill is unconstitutional.

On March 18, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called for the passage of the federal Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which has already passed the U.S. House of Representatives.

He connected the legislation to the case of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted a year ago in the gruesome murders of babies who had survived late-term abortions.

“On this anniversary of the Gosnell trial, let’s show the world that we remember those who have been victimized by people like Kermit Gosnell and unite in this positive and life-affirming effort to safeguard the most vulnerable among us,” Sen. McConnell said. “Let’s take up this important pro-life legislation and send it to the President.”

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Central African bishop seeks hope, forgiveness amid carnage

Bangui, Central African Republic, Mar 22, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Central African Republic can recover from the carnage of violent conflict through a return to Christ, who empowers Christians to forgive their enemies, the archbishop of the nation’s capital says.

“How can a society touched by evil move forward? How can the people find reason to hope -- and discover light amidst the darkness,” Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga of Bangui asked in a March 17 reflection, which was provided to Aid to the Church in Need.

“We need men and women who are able to proclaim a message of reconciliation -- to help quiet the voices of division, hatred, and vengeance. Those voices run counter to the Church’s fundamental message -- we have to return to Christ Himself.”

Violence broke out in Central African Republic in December 2012. Seleka rebels, loosely organized groups that drew primarily Muslim fighters from other countries, ousted the president and installed their own leader in a March 2013 coup.

The Seleka were officially disbanded, but its members continued to commit crimes such as pillaging, looting, rape and murder.

In September 2013, after 10 months of terrorism at the hands of the Seleka, “anti-balaka” self-defense groups began to form. The anti-balaka picked up momentum in November, and the conflict in the nation took on a sectarian character, as some anti-balaka, many of whom are Christian, began attacking Muslims out of revenge for the Seleka’s acts.

After international pressure and resistance from the anti-balaka, Michel Djotodia stepped down as president in January 2014. Soon after, a national council elected an interim president, Catherine Samba-Panza, a Christian who has appealed for an end to bloodshed from both sides.

Thousands have been killed in the violence. The U.N. has estimated at least 650,000 people have been displaced within the country, while nearly 300,000 have fled to neighboring countries. Some 1.3 million are in need of food aid, in a country that was one of the world’s poorest even prior to the outbreak of violence.

Reflecting on the violence, Archbishop Nzapalainga wrote about his visit to Bouan, a town about 10 miles from Bouar, in the country’s west. Parts of a neighborhood had been burned down and many were killed.

“People had been set on fire as well, burned to death in their very homes. There were bones lying all around and people’s heads. I had never seen such a scene -- not in our country; maybe in footage from Rwanda or the former Yugoslavia, but not here.”

“That day we were touched by evil. It was manifested in this desire to kill, to destroy, to cut people into pieces. This barbarism was the work of the devil.”

He said that “for many years, the people of the Central African Republic have lived in harmony; we have known brotherhood – this communion among communities.”

“The upheaval and violence has brought division, death, suffering, the destruction of the other,” he lamented. “Now the time has come to open our hearts more widely still, so that God can give us a new dynamism -- fill up our hearts so that we will be able to offer our hand to others, in love, and to begin life together anew.”

The archbishop stressed the need for Christians to return to Jesus Christ and his words offering forgiveness: “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”

“Now the time has come to open our hearts more widely still, so that God can give us a new dynamism -- fill up our hearts so that we will be able to offer our hand to others, in love, and to begin life together anew.”

“In this moment, in the depth of our troubles, we, as Christians, cannot remain closed in upon ourselves.”

Some Christians in the nation have taken to heart the message of Archbishop Nzapalainga, reaching out to and protecting their Muslim neighbors in parishes, convents, and monasteries.

In the town of Boali, Fr. Xavier Fagba gave shelter in his parish to some 700 Muslims beginning in January.

Yet the anti-balaka threatened Fr. Fagba, and attacked the parish. The Muslim inhabitants of St. Peter’s parish were evacuated to Cameroon March 1, protected by African peacekeepers.

Much the same thing has happened in Carnot, where the local priests have given shelter to nearly 800 Muslims.

“Walking through town I’ve had guns pointed in my face four times,” Fr. Justin Nary told The Associated Press in February. “They (the anti-balaka) call my phone and say they’ll kill me once the peacekeepers are gone.”

The Muslim inhabitants of Carnot’s parish who can prove ties to Cameroon have been evacuated there, while the remainder have stayed behind, protected by the priests and foreign peacekeepers.

Archbishop Nzapalainga reflected that the power to forgive one’s enemy is “not possible in strictly human terms,” but is “an act of faith.”

“It is only with the power of great humility that we can offer this alternative,” he said. Only God can purify Christians and help them “extend ourselves to others, yes, in the face of all this suffering.”

“It will be hard, it will be very difficult, especially those first steps. But we have to make our way toward others again.”

“The Church needs men and women who can testify that peace is possible now; we need people who are committed firmly to peace-making -- who by their sheer witness bring about peace.”

When peace returns, the Church can act as a “witness of love” and “help men and women rediscover Christ and help those of other faiths recognize or discover the integrity of our faith.”

The archbishop said his role is to encourage all Catholics to proclaim a move towards Christ.

“Elsewhere, division and revenge rule the day. But Christ offers us an alternative: He proposes life -- not death. This Lent, we can begin to rebuild the Central African Republic!”

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Pope institutes commission for protecting minors

Vatican City, Mar 22, 2014 (CNA) - Today Pope Francis instituted the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, issuing the names of eight members tasked with structuring the future form of the commission.

“Pope Francis has made clear that the Church must hold the protection of minors amongst her highest priorities. Today, to carry forward this initiative, the Holy Father announces the names of several highly qualified persons who are committed to this issue,” said Fr. Lombardi, the director of the Holy See’s press office, on March 22.

A statement from the Vatican press office noted that the members’ “principal role will be to prepare the Statutes of the Commission, which will define its tasks and competencies. Other members will be added to the Commission in the future, chosen from various geographical areas of the world.”

The eight initial members are comprised of four women and four men, including Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston. Several are university professors and experts in psychology, law, and aiding those victimized by sexual abuse.

Fr. Lombardi noted that these eight will be “participating in the deliberations concerning the Commission’s final structure; describing the scope of its responsibilities; and developing the names of additional candidates, especially from other continents and countries, who can offer service to the Commission.”

The director of the Holy See’s press office also stressed Pope Francis’ desire to carry forward the work begun by his predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

“Continuing the work undertaken by his predecessors, and having heard the advice of a number of Cardinals, other members of the College of Bishops, and experts in the field, and having duly deliberated, Pope Francis now is forming a Commission for the safeguarding of minors,” explained Fr. Lombardi.

He went on to highlight the commission’s “multi-pronged approach to promoting youth protection” which will be done in light of “looking to the future without forgetting the past.”

The commission’s approach will include “education regarding the exploitation of children; discipline of offenders; civil and canonical duties and responsibilities; and the development of best practices as they have emerged in society at large.”

Although the creation of the commision was announced in December of 2013, it was unknown who would belong to its membership.

Today’s announcement named Dr. Catherine Bonnet of France; Mrs. Marie Collins of Ireland; Professor and Baroness Sheila Hollins of the U.K.; Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley O.F.M. Cap. of Boston; Professor Claudio Papale of Italy; Professor and former Prime Minister Hanna Suchocak of Poland; Fr. Humberto Miguel Yanez, S.J. of Argentina; and Fr. Hans Zollner, S.J. of Germany.

Fr. Lombardi described the group of five lay persons and three clerics as “called to work expediently” in order to “contribute to the Holy Father’s mission of upholding the sacred responsibility of ensuring the safety of young people.”

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Pope appoints Canon Law expert to Council for Economy

Vatican City, Mar 22, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Today Pope Francis nominated an expert in the Church’s legal system as the new Prelate Secretary for the recently-created Council for the Economy.

A press release on March 22 from the Holy See’s press office stated, “the Holy Father has nominated Msgr. Brian Ferme as Prelate Secretary of the Council for the Economy.”

The British Monsignor has served as the Dean of the Faculty of Canon Law at Rome’s Pontifical Lateran University and the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., as well as the Head of the St. Pius X Faculty of Canon Law in Venice.

Msgr. Ferme is not new to the Roman Curia. He acts as a consultor to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts. He has also worked with Apostolic Signatura.

He is the author of numerous scholarly publications and articles on canon law, and is a member of several academic and legal organizations, including the Canon Law Societies of Great Britain and Ireland, the Canon Law Society of America, and the Ecclesiastical Law Society. The priest from Portsmouth, England is also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Member of the Consociatio Internationalis of the History of Medieval Canon Law and the Selden Society.

Mrsg Ferme is an Academic Associate Member at the Center for Law and Religion at Cardiff University in Wales and a member of the editorial committee for the scholarly publication, “The Jurist.”

Prior to serving in these capacities, Msgr. Ferme had studied theology, philosophy, and canon law in Melbourne, Oxford and Rome.

As Prelate Secretary for the Council for the Economy, Msgr. Ferme will assist “the Cardinal Coordinator in the fulfilment of the functions of the Council for the Economy, whose competences are associated with the guidance and supervision of the administrative and financial activities of the economic entities of the Holy See,” noted today’s press release.

The Council for the Economy was created by Pope Francis last month following his motu proprio “Fidelis dispensator et prudens.” It is a 15-member organization, comprised of eight Cardinals and Bishops and seven lay experts, responsible for oversight of the administrative and financial structures of the Holy See and the Vatican City State. 

The Council, headed by its Cardinal Coordinator, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Germany, works closely with the new dicastery of the Roman Curia, the Secretariat for the Economy, headed by Cardinal George Pell of Sydney.

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