Vatican City, Apr 1, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The appointment of Msgr. Brian Edwin Ferme as prelate secretary of the newly established Council for the Economy shows Pope Francis will shape the council with the advice of his Council of Cardinals.
Msgr. Ferme, a canonist, was reportedly the personal choice of Cardinal George Pell, a member of the Council of Cardinals and prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy. He is likely to take his post at the beginning of the summer.
The priest will assist “the Cardinal Coordinator in the fulfillment 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 the March 22 press release announcing the appointment.
The cardinal coordinator is Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising, and also a member of the Council of Cardinals.
Msgr. Ferme is a consultor to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, and a longtime friend of Cardinal Pell, having written the foreword the cardinal’s book, “God and Caesar.”
The appointment of Msgr. Ferme can be read as a halt to the rise of Msgr. Lucio Vallejo Balda, secretary of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy.
When the economy secretariat was announced, rumors began to spread about the possibility of Msgr. Vallejo’s appointment as prelate secretary, which he did not deny.
According to a Vatican source who spoke to CNA March 8, Msgr. Vallejo had been charged with organizing the secretariat’s offices, located in St. John Tower within the Vatican’s walls. This responsibility led to the belief that he would take a high post in Vatican’s new financial office.
According to the source, both Pope Francis and Cardinal Pell were bothered by Msgr. Vallejo’s outspokenness with the press.
Pope Francis appointed instead as prelate secretary Msgr. Alfred Xuereb, his own personal secretary and a delegate on commissions regarding the Vatican bank and the economic structures of the Holy See.
After that, Pope Francis chose the members of the Council for the Economy. The eight appointed are Reinhard Marx; Juan Cipriani Thorne of Lima; Daniel DiNardo of Houston; Wilfrid Napier of Durban; Jean-Pierre Ricard of Bordeaux; Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico; John Tong Hon of Hong Kong; and Agostino Vallini, vicar general of Rome.
The seven lay members have been mostly chosen from among the members of the commission for reference on the economic structure of the Holy See. Joseph Zahra is its president, and Jean Batiste de Frannsu, Enrique Llano Cueto, Jochen Messmer and George Yeo are all members.
The final members are John Kyle, a Canadian reportedly backed by Cardinal Thomas Christopher Collins of Toronto; and the Italian economist Francesco Vermiglio.
Msgr. Ferme, in his capacity as prelate secretary of the council and personal friend to Cardinal Pell, will establish a strict bond between the two economic bodies established by Pope Francis.
The appointment of a general auditor is now awaited; this position is likely to replace the prefecture for economic affairs.
The new auditor will also be picked on the suggestion of Cardinals Marx and Pell. According to the Vatican source, Pope Francis wants to build a network of cardinals and consultants who know each other very well and so are able to collaborate efficiently.
Pope Francis’ team for the economy is now taking its definitive shape, and in turn will give form to the new bodies, sketching the statutes that will regulate their competencies and functions.
Washington D.C., Apr 1, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The earliest days of a child's development, both in the womb and after birth, are essential to human development and are well within the reach of the development community's ability to address the problem, a House hearing said.
“There is perhaps no wiser investment that we could make in the human person than to concentrate on ensuring that sufficient nutrition and health assistance is given during the first 1,000 days of life,” said Rep. Chris Smith (R- N.J), chairman of the House of Representatives’ global health subcommittee, which hosted the March 25 hearing.
"We must take a holistic, mother-and-child approach to the problem," he added.
The hearing, entitled “The First One Thousand Days: Development Aid Programs to Bolster Health and Nutrition” discussed development from conception to age two and the impact of quality of life in these early stages on further development.
Sophia Aguirre, chair of Catholic University of America's Integral Economic Development Management Program, advocated "placing the family at the center" of development solutions. Saying it is a "long-term investment" solution.
Aguirre said ensuring "household food access, good health and hygiene conditions, as well as good care and health practices for infant and pregnant mothers" safeguards the ability of future generations to work toward their own development.
Failing to guarantee proper nutrition and development in utero and in early childhood, she added, "has been found to be also related to dementia, obesity, hypertension, and diabetes among other illnesses."
Aguirre continued, saying these phenomena affect not only "those who suffer them, but it places an economic burden on the family members, communities, and finances of the country to which they belong.”
“These burdens can be avoided through investing in effective preventive initiatives.”
Aguirre stressed that typically, "these needs are first met in the family," and that aid programs should focus on helping households as a whole: “Healthy families are the key to providing stability during this early stage of life.”
Tjada D'Oyen McKenna, an official with the U.S. Agency for International Development, testified as lead witness at the hearing, explaining that malnutrition for mothers and children has long-ranging consequences.
"At least 165 million children worldwide are stunted or have short stature resulting from chronic under-nutrition," McKenna said.
"Stunting leads to irreversible cognitive impairment and poor health over the life span. Each year, under-nutrition in all forms is the underlying cause of 3.1 million child deaths, or 45 percent of all child deaths worldwide.”
Henry Perry, associate professor at the international health department in the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, said that while the maternal and infant mortality rate around the globe has decreased greatly, "we must recognize that we have a long way to go."
Perry encouraged the funding of child survival programs and community education initiatives, improved community-centered strategies, and increased support for the Child Survival and Health Grants Program.
Mehret Mandefro, adjunct professor of Health Policy at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, encouraged aid organizations to focus on supporting psychological development and promoting maternal health conditions.
"Psychosocial development is often left off the table in discussions about global child survival," he said. He called on congressmen to consider "the conditions under which pregnant mothers live and give birth," especially how they relate to poverty.
“Because we pay insufficient attention to the prenatal and postpartum environment, we miss a huge opportunity to improve the lives of the very people we could help the most.”
Smith commented that increasing child and maternal health are "complimentary objectives," not opposed to one another.
"Curbing child mortality in the womb and at birth also goes hand-in-hand with reducing maternal mortality," he stated.
"Best practices to radically reduce maternal mortality can and must be life-affirming -- protecting from harm both patients, the mother and the child in the womb."
Vatican City, Apr 1, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Jersey Vargas, the 10 year old daughter of undocumented immigrants who traveled from Los Angeles to the Vatican to ask the Pope’s help for herself and children like her, said she is thrilled to have met him.
“When I met the Pope I was very happy because he blessed me and told me he would talk to President Obama,” Vargas told CNA shortly after her March 26 meeting with Pope Francis.
Vargas was chosen as the representative of a group of immigration reform advocates who asked the Pope to intercede for them with Pope Francis, with whom he was to meet the following day.
She was born in the U.S., and her father is currently imprisoned in Indiana and at risk of being deported; Vargas has not seen him for more than two years.
“I needed to meet Pope Francis to explain my situation and that of my father to him,” Vargas said. “Right now he is in another state in the U.S. He has a deportation order and I am very afraid that they will deport him.”
She said that if she could meet with President Obama, “I would tell him to please listen to Pope Francis, because he has a very important message for you: ‘My father and thousands of other children and their families are in your hands, you have to help them.’”
“It is unfair that he gets to be with his girls, while we have to be separated from our fathers.”
Vargas also gave Pope Francis some 1,500 letters from children like herself who suffer from living apart from their parents because of U.S. immigration law.
“I told the Pope to please help us, because we are suffering. I was born in the United States, only my parents are Mexican,” Vargas explained.
“My father is a hard worker, he never rests. When he would come home late I could see his hands dirty from cement and dust. He came home tired and took off his shoes.”
Vargas met Pope Francis at the end of his General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, giving him, in addition to the letters, the gift of a handkerchief.
Vargas’ mother sewed into the handkerchief two birds and a nest, representing herself, her husband, and their home.
When they met, Pope Francis blessed Vargas, kissed her forehead, and told her, “I will talk to President Obama about it.”
Alicia Flores, director of “Hermandad Mexicana Transnacional” and a member of the delegation accompanying Jersey, told CNA, “we have come to send a message to President Obama via the Pope, asking the Pope that he would advocate for all the families who are going to be deported, as is Jersey’s family.”
Flores stressed that Obama has “deported more than 2 million people” – more than were deported during the eight years of George W. Bush’s administrations.
Obama “maintains he is deporting criminals,” she said, “while in truth he is deporting fathers whose only crime is that of giving a contribution to the country, since they are working, and of being without the proper documents.”
“Obama could give an executive order to stop the deportations and he has not. So there is no excuse for him to keep separating families and making these children like Jersey suffer.”
Following Thursday’s meeting between the Pope and Obama, the Holy See press office stated that “views were exchanged on some current international themes and it was hoped that, in areas of conflict, there would be respect for humanitarian and international law and a negotiated solution between the parties involved.”
“In the context of bilateral relations and cooperation between Church and State, there was a discussion on questions of particular relevance for the Church in (the U.S), such as the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection, as well as the issue of immigration reform. Finally, the common commitment to the eradication of trafficking of human persons in the world was stated.”
Vatican City, Apr 1, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
During a six-day trip to the Eternal City, Clarissa Salazar, who until recently lived on the streets in the U.S., said the visit has made a lasting impact on her, and is something for which she is grateful.
“It changed my life in a way I can't describe,” Salazar said of the pilgrimage, adding that “I came on this trip as an invitation because I was homeless for a long time and finally got my life together.”
Arranged through Denver Homeless Ministries, an organization committed to providing awareness of homeless persons in the community of Denver and providing opportunities to serve them as both equals and friends, the Roman pilgrimage took place March 24 – 29, and consisted of Salazar; trip organizer Tanya Cangelosi; and a Ruthenian priest of the Eparchy of Holy Protection of Mary of Phoenix.
When in Rome, Salazar continued in her March 31 interview with CNA, it was obvious that it was “a holy place where Christ is important,” adding that it was significant for her to know that she “was in a different country where homelessness does exist.”
In a brief description of her life given on DHM’s online page for the pilgrimage, Salazar, whose street name is “Glitterbear,” revealed that her mother had been “a verbal abusive drunk,” and that having been physically abused from the age of 2 until she was 4, she was removed from her home.
A few years later Salazar explained that she was placed back with her mother to finish school, but that immediately after completing high school she got into a relationship that landed her “on the streets.”
Finally breaking up with the man after being “abused physically, verbally, mentally and emotionally” for thirteen years, she sent the “two beautiful children” she had with him to live in the care of her mother, and had been living “on the streets since.”
Cangelosi, who originally came up with the idea to take the homeless to Rome and was in charge of coordinating the details of the trip for DHM, explained to CNA in a March 31 interview that she is already beginning to see the fruits of the trip for Salazar.
“In order for Clarissa to go, she had to be released from probation,” Cangelosi noted, explaining that after speaking to her probation officer in August and seeing the efforts that Salazar had been making, the officer expressed that “this was the most fantastic idea she had ever heard of and believed Glitterbear was the perfect candidate.”
Cangelosi recalled that Salazar’s probation officer decided to end her probation early so that there would be “no paper” on her way back through customs, and lauded the fact that she got housing about a month before the pilgrimage took place, and upon her return “will receive her two children back to now begin living as a family.”
“I believe this experience will help her teach her children to never give up and to reach for the moon because the World and opportunities are so much bigger than the streets or their own backyard!”
Recounting how the idea of taking homeless on pilgrimage to Rome had originally come to her, Cangelosi noted that she had dreamt of doing it, and upon waking up stated “Lord if this is from You, forget it, pick someone else!!!”
However when the idea didn’t go away, but instead became more persistent, Cangelosi said that she finally woke up one morning “with an excitement I couldn't contain and said out loud ‘I'm going to Rome and taking homeless with me!’”
“I believe through much prayer and talking with the Lord that he had a plan and I wanted to do whatever he asked and let him be the guide. That was my peace throughout the process.”
This trip “was to show homeless something so fantastic, so far out of their realm or thoughts that it would forever change their lives.”
Going on this pilgrimage, Cangelosi continued, gave many “who thought their lot in life was the streets of poverty a hope that there is always something bigger than their small piece of the world.”
After having completed the pilgrimage this year, Cangelosi explained that although she is not eager to repeat the process of sorting through the “many issues” that come with clearing the records of homeless persons who want to go, she is willing to do the trip again “because of the experience Glitterbear received,” as well as the fun the group had while touring around the city.
“Getting to know Glitterbear helps us understand the dreams and desires of those who have lived very hard lives to get to this place in their lives.”
Highlighting a few of her favorite parts of the trip, Salazar expressed that she particularly enjoyed “viewing and walking through all the ancient buildings” of Rome, and that being able to see Pope Francis during one of his weekly general audiences was “very different,” but “felt amazing!”
When asked whether she would recommend the trip to others in her situation, Salazar replied that “yes, I most definitely would.”
Indianapolis, Ind., Apr 1, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis has named Archbishop Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis as a member of the congregation of the Roman Curia that oversees vowed religious life.
“Together with the other cardinals and archbishops named to the congregation, I will try to advise the Holy Father and the cardinal prefect of the congregation on questions regarding religious life around the world,” Archbishop Tobin told The Criterion, the Indianapolis archdiocese’s newspaper.
On March 29 the Pope named the archbishop as a member of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
Archbishop Tobin will join other cardinals and archbishops on the dicastery; he is the only American named as a new member, though Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston and Cardinal Francis George of Chicago were reappointed to five-year terms with the congregation.
Archbishop Tobin said he was “quite surprised” by the appointment, adding he was “grateful for the confidence of the Holy Father” and “pleased to honor his request.”
A Redemptorist who was superior general of his order from 1997 to 2009, he had become secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life 2010, and left that position when he was appointed Archbishop of Indianapolis in 2012.
Pope Francis also named the heads of several religious orders to the congregation for religious life, including the Master of the Dominicans, Fr. Bruno Cadore; the Capuchin Franciscans’ Minister General Fr. Mauro Johri; and the Comboni Missionaries’ Superior General, Fr. Enrique Sánchez González. He reappointed the Jesuit superior general, Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, to the congregation.
The dicastery’s prefect is Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, and its secretary is Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo.
According to the Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, in 2013 there were more than 720,000 religious sisters, 54,000 religious brothers and 135,000 religious order priests around the world.
Vatican City, Apr 1, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
In his homily on Tuesday, Pope Francis lamented the many Christians who close the door to God’s grace out of spiritual laziness, urging them to instead receive healing from the Lord so they can spread the Gospel.
“This is the disease of sloth, the acedia of Christians. This attitude that is crippling the apostolic zeal, which makes Christian people stand still and at ease,” the Pope exclaimed in his April 1 Mass.
Addressing those gathered in the chapel of the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse, the pontiff centered his reflections on the day’s Gospel, taken from John, in which Jesus heals a paralytic on the Sabbath and is later persecuted for it.
Using the figures in the reading as a launching point, the Pope drew attention to both the infirmity of the sick man whom Jesus healed, as well as the spiritual illness of the Pharisees who plotted against him because of the act.
“I think of many Christians, of many Catholics," in these figures, the Pope said, noting that “yes, they are Catholics, but without enthusiasm -- even embittered.”
Observing how some might say “I go to Mass every Sunday, but better not get mixed up in things – I have faith for my health, I do not feel the need to give it to another...’” the pontiff noted that to stay in one’s own house living a “quiet life” and not risking anything is “the disease of sloth, the acedia of Christians.”
This “standing at ease” is “not in the good sense of the word,” he explained, adding that “they do not bother to go out to proclaim the Gospel! They are anesthetized.”
Anesthesia, the Pope went on to say, “is a negative experience,” adding that those Christians who suffer from this spiritual sloth “are sad” because “they are people without light – real downers, and this is a disease of us Christians.”
Emphasizing that those who have this attitude “are not useful” and “do not do the Church well,” the Roman Pontiff questioned “how many Christians are like this? Selfish, out for themselves.”
Returning to the Gospel passage, Pope Francis underlined another type of sin seen in those who criticized Jesus, referring to it as the sin of formalism, and stating that “Christians who do not leave space for the grace of God – and the Christian life, the life of these people, consists in having all the paperwork, all the certificates, in order.”
“Christian hypocrites, like these, only interested in their formalities,” he repeated, adding “It was a Sabbath? No, you cannot do miracles on the Sabbath, the grace of God cannot work on Sabbath days.”
People with this attitude “close the door to the grace of God,” the Pope continued, emphasizing that “we have so many in the Church, we have many! It is another sin.”
“The first, those who have the sin of sloth, are not able to go forward with their apostolic zeal, because they have decided to stand firm in themselves, in their sorrows, their resentments, in all of that. Such as these are not capable of bringing salvation, because they close the door to salvation.”
Highlighting how “we ourselves have often been taken by this acedia, or have been many times like the Pharisees: hypocrites,” the Roman Pontiff explained that because these temptations inevitably come our way, "we must learn to defend ourselves.”
In the face of these temptations, before “that field hospital there, which was a symbol of the Church” and in front of “a lot of hurting people,” Jesus approaches the man and asks only one thing, the pontiff recalled: “Do you want to be healed?”
Afterwards, “grace accomplishes everything,” the Pope observed, noting that when Jesus meets him later in the temple, he tells the man to “sin no more.”
“The two Christian words: do you want to be healed? Sin no more. First he heals, then (he says), ‘sin no more,’” reflected the pontiff, highlighting how these words are “spoken with tenderness, with love.”
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis affirmed that “this is the Christian way, the way of apostolic zeal: to get close to many people who are injured and in this field hospital, often people whose wounds were inflicted by men and women of the Church.”
“It is a word of a brother and of a sister: do you want to be healed?” he asked, noting how when the man goes forward, Jesus tells him “‘Ah, do not sin any more, it is not good for you.’”
“Much better: Jesus’ two words are more beautiful than the attitude of sloth or the attitude of hypocrisy.”
Tucson, Ariz., Apr 1, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
A group of U.S. bishops visited the U.S.-Mexico border Tuesday to say Mass in remembrance of migrants who died during their journey, calling attention to the humanitarian consequences of American immigration policy.
"Human beings are dying on both sides of this wall," said Cardinal Séan O'Malley of Boston April 1.
“We are judged by how we treat the most vulnerable among us,” he said during a news conference following the Mass, at which he preached.
He urged Congress to take action, saying that laws "must change, if they undermine human dignity."
Catholics on both side of the border participated in the Mass, held Nogales, Ariz., with those on the Mexican side of the border receiving Communion through slits in the border fence.
The trip was inspired by Pope Francis' 2013 trip to Lampedusa to pray for immigrants who died traveling to Europe. The bishops laid a wreath at the border wall, echoing the Pope's placement of a wreath in the Mediterranean Sea.
Cardinal O'Malley said his work with the migrant community "helped me to glimpse the hardships and humiliations of so many immigrants who come to the States fleeing from poverty and oppression, seeking a better life for their children."
“Sadly enough, many immigrants spend years without the opportunity to see their loved ones.”
“How many rural areas are peopled by grandparents taking care of little grandchildren because the parents are off in the United States working to send money back home?”
The cardinal also spoke to the deadly conditions facing migrants crossing the border, including harsh conditions and animals in the desert, as well as violence from drug traffickers.
"We know that the border is lined with unmarked graves of thousands who die alone and nameless.” He noted that more than “400 bodies are found here at the border” every year – and that there are countless others that are not found.
The Gospel reading for the Mass told the parable of the Good Samaritan, a reading, Cardinal O'Malley said, that shows us “that people who belong to God’s covenant community show love that is not limited by friendship and propinquity, but a love that has a universal scope and does not look for recompense.”
“We come here today to be a neighbor, and to find a neighbor in each of the suffering people who risk their lives and at times lose their lives in the desert.”
The cardinal also added that while the U.S. benefits greatly from the contributions of immigrants as they pay into Social Security, Medicare, and other social programs they are unable to benefit from, more than “10 million undocumented immigrants are exposed to exploitation and lack access to basic human services.”
"The system is broken and is causing untold suffering and a tenable waste of resources, human and material.”
Other bishops present also spoke out in support of immigration reform.
“As a moral matter, our nation can no longer employ an immigration system that divides families and denies basic due process protections to our fellow human beings,” said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo Almaguer, auxiliary bishop of Seattle.
Bishop Elizondo urged Congress to make changes to the immigration system, saying, "we can no longer stand idly by" with the current state of the immigration system, adding: "it is a moral imperative that Congress act this year."
With "as many as 100,000 children separated from their parents each year," Bishop Elizondo continued, "there is a large social cost to inaction."
"Under our current immigration system we're weakening this great nation of ours," commented Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City.
"To be honest, it is a stain on the soul of our nation, one we must eradicate with comprehensive immigration reform."
Los Angeles, Calif., Apr 1, 2014 (CNA) - At age 19, Maria Teresa Alva was already involved with the Christian Life Movement in her native Peru, when she met members of the Marian Community of Reconciliation, also known as “Fraternas” — laywomen who have consecrated themselves to God in order to serve others in the world.
Founded in Peru by a consecrated layman in 1991, the Fraternas take on the commitments of obedience, celibacy and detachment from temporal goods in order to be fully available for the apostolate, centered on working with youth, families, the needy, the evangelization of culture and the protection and the dignity of life. Currently, members of the community serve in several dioceses of South and Central America, Australia, England, Italy and the U.S. (California, Colorado, Connecticut and Texas).
Alva felt there was something special about the Fraternas. “I was really touched about their joy and happiness,” the now 37-year-old told The Tidings in a group interview with three other community members at the recent Religious Education Congress.
“I started to ask myself and ask God what he wanted for me,” said Alva. “I knew I wanted to give my entire heart to God, not only a part, all of it. So, with a lot of signs, I realized he was really calling me to this kind of life.”
Since joining the community, she has served in Chile, Ecuador, Peru and arrived two months ago to join three other Fraternas living together in a house near St. Victor Church in West Hollywood.
Susana Nieto, 36, the director of faith formation at St. Martin of Tours parish in Brentwood, says her high school participation in the Christian Life Movement’s ministries to the needy and to youth also sparked the desire for a deeper commitment.
“I felt that God was calling me to consecrate myself somehow,” said Nieto. “Just by opening my heart to the will of God, to see what it was that God wanted me to do and also knowing the signs that he was putting in my path, I realized that this was my vocation [to join the Fraternas],” which she did at age 20.
She said the authenticity of the Fraternas impressed her. “The joy that each member was able to spread and share just by living — by doing daily things like cooking, going shopping, praying, leading groups — it was that joy, their own witness and testimony, that brought me closer to Christ. I saw how they were so happy and fulfilled living their own vocation that it put down my own [fear] barriers of discovering my vocation.”
Like other Fraternas, after living three years in a house of formation, Nieto was sent to a community — in her case to a town close to where she grew up in Lima, Peru — and she started her apostolic ministry, which lasted for two years. She was then sent on a mission to the U.S. in Denver, serving there eight years working with youth before arriving in Los Angeles nearly four years ago along with fellow Fraternas, Brazil-born Luciane Urban, executive coordinator to Archbishop José Gomez.
“Sometimes,” noted Urban, “when we tell about our vocation and we say ‘I gave my life to God and I don’t know where I’m going to live, who I’m going to live with, what I’m going to do, or how long I’m going to be in one place,’ people ask, ‘How can you live with such insecurity?’”
She explained it as a paradox of faith. “On a human level, it seems so insecure, but it’s totally the opposite,” said Urban. “What greater security can we have than being in God’s hands?
“I think that’s one of the things that gives us a lot of joy and that helps us be able to live here and meet the people and the friends we make in one place, and then go to another place or change ministries or do something that we have never done or thought of before. If God is asking us to do it, he’s going to give us the grace. What seems so insecure in the eyes of the world, it’s the total security of God.”
Peruvian native Rossana Goni, 47, who was a journalist with Catholic News Agency before joining the Fraternas at age 26, points out that the community (canonically approved as a society of apostolic life) was born after the Second Vatican Council, which called for the laity to be more active in evangelization.
“In our community, the emphasis is on being a lay person and being active and evangelizing — to go out and be there in the middle of the world doing something,” explained Goni, the community’s superior in Los Angeles. She notes that Pope Francis is calling today for a similar type of outreach with the new evangelization.
“We want that — we want to go out and tell people that God is alive and he loves you and he wants you to be happy,” said Goni.
She noted that, although members take a vow of celibacy, that doesn’t mean the consecrated laywomen give up motherhood. They become spiritual mothers, helping people on their path to holiness. “I’m a spiritual mother to many, even people older than me,” noted Goni.
“To be a spiritual mother,” she added, “is extremely fulfilling. We were born for that. We’re women; we don’t lose that [desire for] motherhood. We live it fully.”
Posted with permission from Angelus: The Tidings Online, official publication of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
New Orleans, La., Apr 1, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pro-life advocates took encouragement from a federal appeals court’s decision upholding a Texas law that strengthened health and safety requirements for the state’s abortion clinics and barred late-term abortions.
Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser praised the court for “upholding this common sense measure to safeguard women from unscrupulous abortionists.”
“It is an outrage that America’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, would seek to undo this and other safety standards aimed at protecting women,” she said in a March 27 statement criticizing the law’s opponents.
On Thursday a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously overturned a lower federal court's decision blocking provisions of the law.
The law, H.B. 2, required abortion clinics to abide by health requirements equivalent to those of other outpatient surgical clinics. The provisions require doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at local hospitals.
The law also prohibited abortions after 20 weeks of gestation except in cases where a pregnant mother faces a risk to her life or a serious health risk. It was passed in a special session in late 2013 following contentious media coverage focused on the filibuster of pro-abortion rights Democratic State Sen. Wendy Davis, who is now a Texas gubernatorial candidate.
Supporters of the legislation argued that such health and safety regulations were necessary for the health of both the mother and the child, particularly given high profile cases of malpractice in other states. They cited the case of Pennsylvania abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell in Pennsylvania, whose negligent sanitation and safety protocols contributed to the deaths of several patients.
The law was challenged by Planned Parenthood and other Texas abortion providers. They said the health regulations would close down most abortion clinics in the state.
In October 2013 federal District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled that the law was unconstitutional. Texas appealed the decision, making its oral arguments before the Federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans in January.
The appeals court rejected the district court's ruling that the health regulations “imposed an undue burden in a large fraction of the cases,” saying that the evidence presented to the lower court “demonstrates that if the admitting privileges regulation burdens abortion access by diminishing the number of doctors who will perform abortions and requiring women to travel farther, the burden does not fall on the vast majority of Texas women seeking abortions.”
Dannenfelser attributed the law’s passage to abuses at abortion clinics.
“From Kermit Gosnell’s ‘house of horrors’ to one Planned Parenthood’s ‘meat market style’ abortions, last year the nation’s eyes were opened to the tragic reality of what goes on inside America’s abortion facilities," she said.
“Thankfully, pro-life legislators in Texas took notice and sought to protect women from such negligence and brutality in their state,” she continued.
“The consequences of championing abortion masked as ‘women’s health care’ have already proved tragic in state after state.”
The law has contributed to the closure of about one third of the abortion providers in Texas, where 19 abortion clinics remain open, Reuters reports.