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Why this man says abortion isn't just a woman's issue

Denver, Colo., Jan 21, 2018 / 12:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A man who lost his own child to abortion believes men have important things to say on the issue, and their voices need to be heard.

“We are told that men shouldn’t talk about abortion,” but it's an issue that affects them too, Jason Jones told CNA in a recent interview. “It’s a man’s issue and it’s a woman’s issue.”  

“As a man, I have something in me that wants to protect the vulnerable from violence. That is what men do,” he said.

Jones, a national pro-life advocate, said when he speaks frankly in those terms, men respond to him, because “we need to say the truth.”

“When men speak about abortion, it is very effective,” he added.

It might seem natural to think that women are better pro-life “spokespersons,” or that men should have a diminished role, Jones said. But “men have their place” in the discussion.

“Men share their stories, and their stories are sorrowful. Men who are scared, and manipulated or coerced into having an abortion. Men who can be humble and say 'I coerced my daughter or my girlfriend or my wife into getting an abortion.' We need to hear those stories.”

When men tell the truth about their own experience with abortion, “it changes people,” he said. “No one has a happy abortion story. When people tell the truth, it influences people.”

Jones, who often shares the story of his own child’s abortion, told CNA he was 17 when he and his girlfriend Katie found out they were pregnant. Still in high school, they planned to hide the pregnancy while he dropped out and joined the army so he could take care of the baby. He was excited to be a father, he said.

However, while still in basic training and during their third trimester, Jones got a call from his girlfriend's father saying their “secret” had been discovered and “taken care of.” He was devastated.

An atheist who didn't fully understand what abortion was, Jones said he realized his daughter, whom they had already named Jessica, had been murdered.

“That was it for me. It horrified me. It was unbelievable,” he said. “I had never been to church a day in my life, I knew nothing about politics. I was just a kid who was last in his class in high school, who to me, school was just something I had to do to play football.”

However, since the moment he found out that his daughter had been aborted, he says he has committed his life “to protecting women and children from the violence of abortion.”

Jones, 46, is now a film producer, author, and human rights worker known for his pro-life activism. He remained an atheist for years, though his contact with Christian organizations and study of political philosophy eventually led him, in 2003, to the Catholic Church. 

In his comments to CNA, Jones, who is now married with seven children, said that it can be hard to discuss abortion because the friends and loved ones of someone who has had an abortion often become defensive, saying that to condemn abortion is to condemn a person they care about.

“The irony is that you know your sister had an abortion because she called you crying about it, with a broken heart. And then when that person stumbles upon a pro-life activist, they get angry because they think you are calling their sister a bad person.”

“We need to help people understand that when a woman gets an abortion it’s...an act of desperation,” he said. “She’s a victim just like the child.”

Jones said the pro-life movement needs an “apologetic” that is able to get the truth about abortion across in a simple way, and which teaches men to defend women and children.

“You do not need sophisticated arguments to tell a man: you don’t pay a stranger to kill your baby. As a man, you defend your child from violence ... you defend the woman carrying your child from violence...it’s just very simple.”

He said that much of the language used in the pro-life movement is designed for women and to talk to women who are in a crisis situation, but men interact differently and need to be approached in a different way.

“When I talk to men about abortion, I talk to them as a man. I talk to them plainly,” he said. “I talk to them as a man that has lost his child.”

Many people can be cavalier and insensitive about abortion, he said, explaining that he can become passionate and wants to remind people that “we are victims in this too.”

When speaking about abortion, he says men should just be themselves: “Don’t talk about abortion differently that you talk about everything else, don’t put it off to the side. You are allowed, as a man, to talk about an issue like a man.”

Jones said his message to people who might be in a state of fear or crisis because of an unexpected pregnancy, said his message to them would be “what are you afraid of?”

“I had that experience, I became a teen parent,” but looking back, “what was I afraid of? … Being a father is such a beautiful gift ... there is no more beautiful thing in the world than being a father.”

 

Cardinal O’Malley: Pope’s words ‘a source of great pain’ for abuse survivors

Boston, Mass., Jan 20, 2018 / 03:25 pm (CNA).- The chairman of the Vatican’s commission on sexual abuse has said that recent comments from Pope Francis were painful and alienating to survivors of clerical sexual abuse.

"It is understandable that Pope Francis’ statements yesterday in Santiago, Chile were a source of great pain for survivors of sexual abuse by clergy or any other perpetrator,” said Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, in a Jan. 20 statement.  

The statement refers to a comment made by Pope Francis to a Chilean reporter Jan. 18. The Pope was asked about Bishop Juan Barros, a Chilean accused by four victims of clerical sexual abuse of colluding with their abuser to cover up his crimes. Barros, who has maintained his innocence, has been a subject of controversy since his 2015 appointment to lead the Diocese of Osorno.

“The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I’ll speak," Pope Francis told the reporter. "There is not one shred of proof against him. It’s all calumny. Is that clear?”

O’Malley said that “not having been personally involved in the cases that were the subject of yesterday’s interview I cannot address why the Holy Father chose the particular words he used at that time.”

“What I do know, however, is that Pope Francis fully recognizes the egregious failures of the Church and its clergy who abused children and the devastating impact those crimes have had on survivors and their loved ones.”

The Pope has long been a defender of Barros.  

On May 6, 2015, five months after Barros was appointed to lead the Diocese of Osorno, Deacon Jaime Coiro, general secretary of the Chilean episcopal conference, told Pope Francis that the Church in Osorno “is praying and suffering for you.”

“Osorno suffers, yes,” Pope Francis said, “for silliness.” According to a video of the conversation released by Chile’s Ahora Noticias, the Pope told Coiro that “the only accusation against that bishop was discredited by the judicial court.”

“Think with your head, and do not be carried away by the noses of the leftists, who are the ones who put this thing together,” the Pope added.

O’Malley was appointed by Pope Francis to lead the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors when it was established by the Pope in 2014. He is widely lauded for his leadership in the Archdiocese of Boston after the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law, amid widespread reports of clerical sexual abuse under Law’s leadership.

“Words that convey the message ‘if you cannot prove your claims then you will not be believed’ abandon those who have suffered reprehensible criminal violations of their human dignity and relegate survivors to discredited exile,” O’Malley’s statement read.

"My prayers and concern will always be with the survivors and their loved ones. We can never undo the suffering they experienced or fully heal their pain,” he added.

"In some cases we must accept that even our efforts to offer assistance can be a source of distress for survivors and that we must quietly pray for them while providing support in fulfillment of our moral obligation. I remain dedicated to work for the healing of all who have been so harmed and for vigilance in doing all that is possible to ensure the safety of children in the community of the Church so that these crimes never happen again."

Fight 'scourge' of violence against women, Pope says at Marian celebration

Lima, Peru, Jan 20, 2018 / 02:42 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- If we’re confused, facing difficulties, or struggling with sin, we can look to Mary to help guide us to the arms of her Son, Pope Francis said Saturday during a Marian celebration in Trujillo, Peru.

Quoting a homily by St. Bernard, the Pope said: “You who feel far away from terra firma, dragged down by the waves of this world, in the midst of storms and tempests: look to the Star and call upon Mary.”

“She shows us the way home. She brings us to Jesus, who is the Gate of Mercy,” he said Jan. 20.

The Pope also drew attention to a “scourge” of violence against women, decrying “many situations of violence that are kept quiet behind so many walls.”

“I ask you to fight against this source of suffering by calling for legislation and a culture that repudiates every form of violence.”

Speaking of the Immaculate Virgin of the Gate of Otuzco, a popular Marian devotion in Peru, Pope Francis declared her, “Our Lady of the Gate, ‘Mother of Mercy and Hope.’”

“Our Lady, who in centuries past showed her love for the children of this land when, placed above a gateway, she defended and protected them from the threats that afflicted them,” awakened the love of all Peruvians, the Pope said.

“Mary continues to defend us and point out the gate that opens for us the way to authentic life, to the Life that does not pass away. She walks beside every one of her children, in order to lead them home. She accompanies us all the way to the Gate that gives Life, for Jesus does not want anyone to remain outside, in the cold.”

The Immaculate Virgin of the Gate of Otuzco, also called the Virgin of La Puerta, is a popular Marian devotion of the Church in Peru. A shrine dedicated to the image is built on the location where a gate to Otuzco, an area outside Trujillo, used to stand.  

It is believed that in the 17th century, when her image was placed at the entrance to the city of Trujillo, she miraculously protected it from pirate attack. Her feast day is celebrated on Dec. 15.

Francis met with people gathered in Trujillo’s “Plaza de Armas” for a Marian celebration, part of his Jan. 18-22 trip to Peru. In addition to delivering a short message, the Pope prayed before the image of the Virgin of La Puerta. The encounter also included prayer and a reading from the first chapter of Luke.

Today, the square had “become an open-air shrine,” the Pope said, “where all of us want to let our Mother look upon us with her maternal and tender gaze.”

“If we consider that wherever there is a community, wherever there is life and hearts longing to find reasons to hope, to sing and to dance, to long for a decent life… there is the Lord, there we find his Mother, and there too the example of all those saints who help us to remain joyful in hope.”

He said that the many images and titles for Mary, of which there are many in Peru, are a sign that “in her heart all races find a place.” He also stressed that Mary is a mother “who knows the heart of her Peruvian children from the north and from so many other places.”

“How much I desire that this land, which clings to the Mother of Mercy and Hope, can abound in God’s goodness and tender love and bring it everywhere,” he stated.

“For there is no better medicine, dear brothers and sisters, to cure many wounds than a heart that has known mercy, than a heart that is compassionate before sorrow and misfortune.”

During the message, Francis also asked those present to think of their earthly mothers and grandmothers, explaining that love for Mary should lead us to feel appreciation and gratitude for all women.

Do not become 'professionals of the sacred,' Pope tells Peruvian priests, religious

Lima, Peru, Jan 20, 2018 / 02:40 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis met with Peruvian priests and religious Saturday, telling them that a sense of humor is a good remedy for the temptation to clerical self-importance.

“John [the Baptist] embodies the awareness of a disciple conscious that he is not, and never will be, the Messiah, but only one called to point out the Lord’s presence in the life of his people,” the Pope said Jan. 20.

Pointing to the passage in John's Gospel in which John the Baptist tells his disciples to “behold the Lamb of God” as he sees Jesus passing by, Francis noted that while John was a good and faithful disciple, he “was waiting for someone greater than himself.”

Those who are consecrated are not called to replace the Lord by their missions and activities, but rather, “to work with the Lord, side by side, never forgetting that we do not replace him.” Knowing they are not the Messiah, he said, frees clerics and religious “from thinking that we are overly important or too busy.”

While this temptation is real and is often present in in communities, Francis offered a remedy: laughter.

“Learning to laugh at ourselves gives us the spiritual ability to stand before the Lord with our limitations, our mistakes and our sins, but also our successes, and the joy of knowing that he is at our side,” he said.

“Laughter saves us from the self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism of those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others,” he said, and urged those present to conduct a “spiritual test” to see whether or not they are able to laugh at themselves.  

He told them to laugh in their community, but never “at the community or at others,” and to be “on guard against people so important that they have forgotten to smile in their lives.”

Pope Francis spoke to some 1,000 priests, seminarians and religious during a Jan. 20 trip to the Peruvian beach town of Huanchaco, where he traveled as part of his Jan. 18-21 visit to Peru, following a three-day visit to Chile.

He was greeted by Archbishop Jose Antonio Eguren Anselmi S.C.V., who oversees the dioceses of Piura and Tumbes.  Anselmi is a member of the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, which earlier this month received a “Commissioner” from the Pope tasked with governing the community as they carry out reform following revelations of serial abuse by their founder, Luis Fernando Figari, in 2015.

The encounter with priests, religious and seminarians from all over Peru took place at the seminary college of Trujillo. According to statistics provided by the Holy See Press Office, there are currently some 3,361 priests in Peru, including diocesan and religious; 65 permanent deacons; 422 professed male religious and 5,568 professed women religious.

In his speech, Pope Francis told attendees that their vocation is one of “remembrance,” because it points to the fact that neither life, nor faith, nor the Church began with any one of them.

Rather, he said “remembrance looks to the past in order to discover the sap that nourished the hearts of disciples for centuries, and thus comes to recognize God’s presence in the life of his people.”

One of the virtues of this remembrance, he said, is a “joyful self-awareness” which recognizes, like John the Baptist, that Jesus is the Messiah and we are simply his servants, called to both follow Jesus' example and continue his work of service to others, which is “the source of our joy.”

Another aspect of this remembrance is what Francis referred to as “the time of the call,” meaning the first moment in which God's call to their vocation was felt.

In his Gospel, John remembers the exact hour in which his life changed by meeting Jesus, saying “it was about the tenth hour,” the Pope said, adding that a single encounter with Jesus “changes our lives, it establishes a 'before' and an 'after'.

He urged attendees to remember the day when they first realized that “the Lord expected something more of us.”

If this moment is forgotten, “we forget our origins, our roots,” he said, “and by losing these basic coordinates, we lose sight of the most precious part of our lives as consecrated persons: the Lord’s gaze.”

“We do well to remember that our vocations are a loving call to love in return, and to serve,” he said, and quoting the Book of Deuteronomy, said that “if the Lord fell in love with you and chose you, it was not because you were more numerous than the others, for you are the least of peoples, but out of pure love!”

Pope Francis also pointed to the influence of popular piety on the vocational call, noting that in Peru, where colorful processions and large Masses marking special feast days are common, expressions of this piety “have taken on the most exquisite forms and have deep roots in God’s simple and faithful people.”

Because of this, he told those present “not to forget, much less look down on, the solid and simple faith of your people. Welcome, accompany and stimulate their encounter with the Lord.”

“Do not become 'professionals of the sacred' by forgetting your people, from whose midst the Lord took you. Do not lose your remembrance and respect for those who taught you how to pray,” he said, explaining that to remember the moment of one's call is to celebrate Christ's entry into their lives.

Remembrance, joy and gratitude, are the three “weapons” that best defend against “all vocational pretense,” he said, because “grateful awareness enlarges the heart and inspires us to service.”

Francis then reflected on the “contagious joy” of one's vocation, which he said is another virtue of the “remembrance” he spoke of.

Pointing to the day's Gospel, he noted that Andrew, who was one of the disciples of John the Baptist that followed Jesus on that first day, returned home after spending time with Jesus and told his brother Simon Peter what he experienced, saying “we have found the Messiah.”

“Faith in Jesus is contagious; it cannot be restrained or kept within,” he said, explaining that Andrew begins his mission with those closest to him by “radiating joy,” prompting those around him to also follow Jesus.

Joy, he said, “is the surest sign that we have discovered the Messiah” and is constantly present in the hearts of the apostles.

This joy is meant to be shared and so opens us to others, he said, adding that in the “the fragmented world in which we live, a world that can make us withdrawn, we are challenged to become builders and prophets of community.”

No one is saved alone, he said, stressing that isolation and fragmentation are not things that happen only “out there” in the world, but “divisions, wars and isolation are found within our communities, and what harm they bring us!”

Jesus sends his disciples to build communion and unity, however, often times the opposite happens, and “we go about this by displaying our disunity and, worse yet, trying to trip each other up,” Francis said, explaining that to build unity “does not mean thinking everyone is the same, or doing things always the same way.”

“It means discerning what everyone has to offer, respecting their differences, and acknowledging the gift of charisms within the Church, knowing that while each of us contributes what he or she has, we also need one another,” he said.

The Pope then cautioned against the temptation of the “only child,” who wants everything for themselves since there is no one to share with.

“Only the Lord has the fullness of the gifts; only he is the Messiah,” he said, and urged those in positions of authority to “please not...become self-referential.”

“Try to care for your brothers and sisters; try to keep them happy, because happiness is contagious,” he said. “Do not fall into the trap of an authority that turns into authoritarianism by forgetting that its mission is primarily one of service.”

Francis closed his speech thanking attendees for their presence, and prayed that “this 'deuteronomic' remembrance make us more joyful and grateful to be servants of unity in the midst of our people.”

 

When storms come, have faith in Jesus, Pope tells Catholics in Peru

Huanchaco, Peru, Jan 20, 2018 / 07:55 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a homily Saturday, Pope Francis spoke about the natural disasters Peru experienced over the last year, praising the way in which Peruvians joined together to help one another during these difficult moments.

“I know that, in the time of darkness, when you felt the brunt of the [storm], these lands kept moving forward,” the Pope said during Mass near Trujillo, Peru Jan. 20.

Like the five wise virgins in the parable in the day's Gospel, the people of Peru were prepared with “the oil needed to go out to help one another like true brothers and sisters,” he continued. “You had the oil of solidarity and generosity that stirred you to action, and you went out to meet the Lord with countless concrete gestures of support.”

The Mass, which took place in Huanchaco, a beach town outside the city of Trujillo, was part of Pope Francis’ Jan. 18-21 visit to Peru.

In his homily he referred to the “Niño,” or “Coastal El Niño,” the name given to a weather phenomenon off the coast of Peru and Ecuador, which began in December 2016.

The pattern caused warmer-than-usual water temperatures off the coasts of the two countries, which in turn triggered heavy rainfalls in the mountains.

The excess run-off from the rains caused severe flooding and mudslides, devastating parts of Peru, particularly in the north. Trujillo, Peru’s third most populated city, was one of the worst hit after a period of heavy rains last March caused mudslides and flooding directly affecting around 800,000 people and killing almost 100.

Francis encouraged Peruvians not to lose heart during these times of trials, but to use this Eucharistic celebration as an opportunity to unite their suffering to Christ’s suffering on the cross.

“These times of being ‘buffeted,’” he said, “call into question and challenge our strength of spirit and our deepest convictions. They make us realize how important it is to stand united, not alone, and to be filled with that unity which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.”

Many people are still suffering from the damage caused by “Coastal El Niño,” the Pope noted. And it’s possible these difficulties have caused their faith to waver.

If this is the case, “we want to unite ourselves to Jesus,” he said, because “[Jesus] knows our pain and our trials; he endured the greatest of sufferings in order to accompany us in our own trials. The crucified Jesus wants to be close to us in every painful situation, to give us a hand and to help lift us up.”

Like the story of the ten virgins in the Gospel reading, who were surprised by the bridegroom’s arrival in the middle of the night, the storms of life – both the physical storms as well as other difficulties – can catch us off-guard.

In the passage, we learn that five of the virgins were prepared with oil for their lamps and five were not. “At the appointed time, each of them showed what they had filled their life with,” Francis noted, and “the same thing happens to us.”

“There are times when we realize what we have filled our lives with. How important it is to fill our lives with the oil that lets us light our lamps in situations of darkness and to find the paths to move forward!”

He commended the Peruvians for being well-prepared with the grace of the Holy Spirit, so that “in the midst of darkness, you, together with so many others, were like living candles that lighted up the path with open hands, ready to help soothe the pain and share what you had, from your poverty, with others.”

“Fill your lives always with the Gospel,” he concluded. “I want to encourage you to be a community that lets itself be anointed by the Lord with the oil of the Spirit. He transforms, renews and strengthens everything.”
 

Warm weather greets marchers at the 45th annual March for Life

Washington D.C., Jan 19, 2018 / 04:54 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- They came from across the country and the globe to Washington, DC. for one purpose: to stand in solidarity with unborn children.

With a quite a few groups donned in matching hats and scarves – quickly rendered unnecessary due to the unseasonably warm January day – and clutching some innovative signs, the 45th annual March for Life went off without a hitch Jan. 19.

While the rally made history as President Donald Trump became the first sitting president to address the march via livestream video, the individual marchers to whom Catholic News Agency spoke over the course of the day were more concerned with the need to protect the unborn and to promote the dignity of life.

And they were big fans of the nice weather, of course.

The crowd was overwhelmingly young, and large groups from all over the country were spotted on the National Mall. A group of around 400 from Baton Rouge, La., made an impressive entrance, and the wave of white hats continued as far as the eye could see.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">From earlier—here’s a small bit of the 400-strong contingent from Baton Rouge, LA at the <a href="https://twitter.com/March_for_Life?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@March_for_Life</a> <a href="https://t.co/XJN3oKe7ha">pic.twitter.com/XJN3oKe7ha</a></p>&mdash; Catholic News Agency (@cnalive) <a href="https://twitter.com/cnalive/status/954493345660919808?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 19, 2018</a></blockquote>
<script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

The University of Mary had a three-bus contingent of about 150 students, faculty, and staff, who made the 30-hour car ride to Washington, D.C from Bismarck. The prospect of a long bus ride didn’t sway UMary junior Mary Kampa, who was returning to DC for her second March for Life in a row.

“Knowing that it’s not about the bus ride, and it’s not about me, and it’s for something much greater – standing up for the dignity of life,” Kampa told CNA. “I want to be a voice for the voiceless,” she continued.

Last year, the University of Mary contingent led the march. Kampa said that was an honor. This year, 20 students were present in the Rose Garden for Trump’s address.

And true to form, some UMary students were clad in short-sleeved shirts prior to the start of the pre-march rally. Kampa wasn’t surprised by this, considering the weather her and her classmates had left behind in North Dakota.

<blockquote class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/BeJeT5blJxh/" data-instgrm-version="8" style=" background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% - 2px); width:calc(100% - 2px);"><div style="padding:8px;"> <div style=" background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:50% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;"> <div style=" background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAABGdBTUEAALGPC/xhBQAAAAFzUkdCAK7OHOkAAAAMUExURczMzPf399fX1+bm5mzY9AMAAADiSURBVDjLvZXbEsMgCES5/P8/t9FuRVCRmU73JWlzosgSIIZURCjo/ad+EQJJB4Hv8BFt+IDpQoCx1wjOSBFhh2XssxEIYn3ulI/6MNReE07UIWJEv8UEOWDS88LY97kqyTliJKKtuYBbruAyVh5wOHiXmpi5we58Ek028czwyuQdLKPG1Bkb4NnM+VeAnfHqn1k4+GPT6uGQcvu2h2OVuIf/gWUFyy8OWEpdyZSa3aVCqpVoVvzZZ2VTnn2wU8qzVjDDetO90GSy9mVLqtgYSy231MxrY6I2gGqjrTY0L8fxCxfCBbhWrsYYAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;"></div></div> <p style=" margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;"> <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BeJeT5blJxh/" style=" color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;" target="_blank">We are the Pro-Life Generation! #marchforlife2018 #whywemarch #lovesaveslives #lifeatmary</a></p> <p style=" color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;">A post shared by <a href="https://www.instagram.com/universityofmary/" style=" color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px;" target="_blank"> University of Mary</a> (@universityofmary) on <time style=" font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;" datetime="2018-01-19T22:36:06+00:00">Jan 19, 2018 at 2:36pm PST</time></p></div></blockquote> <script async defer src="//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js"></script>

“It was negative 20 [degrees] last Sunday, so this is awesome,” she said, laughing.

Another big fan of the weather was Ave Maria University student John-Paul Arias. Arias was at his first March for Life, and unlike many of his classmates who were in DC, he flew up.

Arias said he thought it was important for men to “defend the life that we helped create,” and that they too had an important role in the pro-life movement. He said he was thrilled to be in Washington, and very excited to be at the march.

And despite AMU’s location in southwest Florida, it was somehow warmer in DC on Friday.

 

Pope Francis warns Peruvian leaders against 'virus' of corruption

Lima, Peru, Jan 19, 2018 / 03:33 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Speaking to Peruvian authorities Friday, Pope Francis issued a stern warning against corruption, which he said has done significant harm, and snuffs out the hope offered by the country's rich cultural and natural diversity.

“Peru is a land of hope that invites and challenges its people to unity,” the Pope said Jan. 19. However, he warned that despite the promise of the country's many saints and the rich cultural and environmental diversity, “over this hope a shadow is growing, a threat looms.”

He warned against the destruction of natural resources and urged authorities to be “very attentive to that other, often subtle form of environmental degradation that increasingly contaminates the whole system of life: corruption.”

“How much evil is done to our Latin American people and the democracies of this continent by this social 'virus', a phenomenon that infects everything, with the greatest harm being done to the poor and mother earth.”

Pope Francis spoke to Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski Godard and the country's diplomatic corps. He spent the morning in Peru's Amazonian region, visiting Puerto Maldonado before heading back to Lima for his meeting with civil authorities.

He will be in Peru until Jan. 21, following a three-day visit to Chile, marking his fourth tour of South America since his election.

The Pope's visit comes after Kuczynski narrowly escaped an impeachment vote in December following revelations that a company he owned had businesses ties with the Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht, which is at the center of of one of Latin America's biggest corruption scandals.

Odebrecht admitted in a 2016 plea bargain with the U.S. Department of Justice to paying around $800 million in bribes in 12 Latin American countries, the Guardian reports. Peru received some $29 million between 2009 and 2015.

Kuczynski is the latest Peruvian politician to get caught up in a scandal of this kind, with some former presidents currently sitting behind bars. The latest ex-president to be jailed was Ollanta Humala, who went to prison in July 2017 due to alleged money laundering in connection with Odebrecht.

In his speech, Pope Francis said efforts to fight the “social scourge” of corruption must be both recognized and supported, which is a task that involves everyone.

Hope must be defended, he said, which “requires a greater culture of transparency among public entities, the private sector and civil society. No one can be excluded from this process. Corruption is preventable and calls for commitment on the part of all.”

“I encourage and urge all those in positions of authority, in whatever sphere, to insist on this path in order to bring your people and your land the security born of feeling that Peru is a place of hope and opportunity for all, and not just for a few,” he said.

Francis praised the natural beauty and the vast biodiversity found in the country's Amazonian region, which contains the largest tropical forest and the most extensive river system on the planet. He also drew attention to the many cultures present in Peru, which he said are the “soul of this people.”

He also noted that the country has a lot of young people, who are “the most vital gift that this society possesses,” and many saints, who have “blazed paths of faith for the entire American continent.”

Pointing to the theme of his trip, “United in Hope,” the Pope said Peru is a land of hope that invites its inhabitants to a unique unity, which he said is threatened not only by corruption, but also by environmental destruction.

Quoting his 2015 encyclical on care for our common home, Laudato si', he said “never has humanity had such power over itself, yet nothing ensures that it will be used wisely, particularly when we consider how it is currently being used.”

“This is evident in the way that we are stripping the earth of its natural resources, without which no forms of life are possible,” he said, adding that the loss of jungles and forests means not only a loss of species and resources for the future, but also a loss of “vital relationships that could end up altering the entire ecosystem.”

To be united in hope, then, means both developing and promoting an integral ecology and listening to local populations and recognizing and respecting them as true partners in dialogue, since they know the land and the “the catastrophic effects produced, in the name of development, by many projects.”

Francis said environmental degradation is also linked to the moral degradation of communities, and pointed to black market mining as a practice which is “is destroying people’s lives.”

“This whole process of degradation brings with it and encourages organizations operating outside of legal structures; these debase so many of our brothers and sisters by subjecting them to human trafficking (a new form of slavery), irregular employment and crime … and to other evils that gravely affect their dignity and, at the same time, the dignity of the nation.”

Pope Francis closed his speech urging all those in positions of authority in every sphere “to bring your people and your land the security born of feeling that Peru is a place of hope and opportunity for all, and not just for a few.”

By doing this, a new Peru will be forged which “makes room for people of 'all bloods', a land in which 'the promise of Peruvian life' can be achieved,” he said, quoting from the Peruvian novelist José Maria Arguedas and the historian Jorge Basadre.

“I wish to renew in your presence the commitment of the Catholic Church, which has accompanied the life of this nation, in this joint effort to continue working so that Peru will continue to be a land of hope,” he concluded.

The Pope met privately with Kuczynski following his address.

Commentary: Aziz Ansari's hookup was a game of Russian roulette

New York City, N.Y., Jan 19, 2018 / 03:00 pm (CNA).- There are better models of fraternal correction than telling the story of the horrible night you spent with comedian Aziz Ansari to a reporter from a casually crude website. But that was where “Grace” (a pseudonym) went to express what she didn’t have a way to say to Ansari—that he had hounded her physically; pressured her to go farther, faster than she wanted; and left her feeling wretched after their night together.

Grace spoke up, she said, because she saw Ansari wearing a “Times Up” pin and supporting the #MeToo movement, and she couldn’t see how he reconciled his support of women generally with the way he treated her particularly.

Grace’s story sparked many reactions. But if Aziz Ansari is reading all the thinkpieces about him, he must feel most ill-served by his allies. “Aziz Ansari Is Guilty. Of Not Being a Mind Reader” wrote Bari Weiss for the New York Times, exonerating Ansari in a singularly insulting way.

It’s unreasonable, Weiss and others write, to expect Ansari and other men to be able to know if they’re scaring or upsetting their one-night-stands. The solution isn’t for men to pay attention to women’s non-verbal cues, she writes, but for women to be much more aggressive in fending off men who make them feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

For all the worry about women defining themselves as snowflakes or victims, the defense offered to Ansari sounds much more cossetting than comforting.

What virtuous man would feel relieved to be told he is powerless to avoid harming the women he takes to bed? Who would be put at ease, after seeing a woman in tears, to be told that it’s not his fault, he couldn’t help it, there’s no way for him to know—he’s not a mind-reader.

If sex is always such a blind leap, with no way to take care of your partner, what good man could have an assignation and respect himself in the morning. The sexual culture Ansari’s supporters describe is a game of Russian roulette: eventually, every man will wind up deeply wounding a woman he’s taken to bed, but he may never even find out which lovers were the collateral damage of our hookup culture. (And, of course, he also may be coerced, objectified, or abused himself).

Ansari’s critics agree, in part, with his supporters. Those non-verbal cues are hard to read, so men (and women) should stick to a “Yes means yes” model of consent, waiting to hear explicit, enthusiastic consent before pushing things with a partner, they say.

The “affirmative consent” model, viewed simply as harm reduction, is an improvement over the “Not a Mind Reader” defense, but it still sells men and women short. It’s a way of camouflaging the fundamental problem: you can’t have generically respectful and ethical sex.

As long as men and women go to bed as strangers, it will be very difficult for them to take care of each other. The most egregious behavior can be minimized with affirmative consent, but who is aiming for a sex life that is simply “not assault?"

Sex that is a gift of self is intimate and particularized. You make a gift of your particular self to one other particular person. No one makes love to “a woman” or “a man” generically—those who try are engaged in something much more like mutual masturbation than intercourse.

Before couples get intimate—which starts, physically, well before sex—they must know and love each other. There must be trust, in each other, and trust that they share an understanding of what the good is, if each person is relying on the other to will his or her good correctly. (They must also be right about what that good consists of, but the other pitfalls are more obvious).

That means ethical sex starts long before clothes come off. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes chastity as “the successful integration of sexuality within the person” (CCC 2337) and purity as that which “frees one from wide-spread eroticism and avoids those things which foster morbid curiosity” (CCC 530).

Both must become a habit, before it is possible to offer the gift of one’s sexuality to another. These virtues are a prerequisite to the other step Ansari and Grace skipped, getting to know the other person, to the point where you do know their non-verbal signals, because you see and know them in all their particularity.

One school for these virtues (and corrective to the culture) is the Angelic Warfare Confraternity, a fellowship of men and women pursuing chastity through prayer. Even someone not enrolled in the Confraternity can join (from time to time, or even every day) in the 15 Hail Marys that Confraternity member pray daily for chastity and purity. Joining in the Confraternity’s daily prayer is a particularly good redoubt to flee to in the case of temptation.

 

Leah Libresco Sargeant is the author of Arriving at Amen: Seven Catholic Prayers Even I Can Offer. Her writing has appeared at First Things, FiveThirtyEight, and The Washington Post.  Her opinions do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of Catholic News Agency.

 

Pro-life strength lies in love, speakers tell March for Life

Washington D.C., Jan 19, 2018 / 02:10 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The pro-life movement’s most powerful tool lies in its ability to love, speakers said Friday at the March for Life in Washington, D.C.

This year’s annual March, the theme of which was ‘Love Saves Lives’, was an historic event for numerous reasons - it marked the 45th anniversary of the March, it was an uncharacteristically balmy 50 degree day in January, and it was the first time the event was addressed live by the sitting President of the United States.  

“I want to thank every person here today who works with such big hearts to make sure parents have the care and support they need to choose life,” President Donald Trump told the crowds from the White House via a satellite feed.

“Because of you, tens of thousands of Americans have been born and reached their full God-given potential...you are the living witnesses of the theme ‘Love saves lives,’” he said.

Some speakers shared personal stories of love in difficult moments and pregnancies to emphasize this year’s theme during the March for LIfe rally.

One such story was told by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), who was joined on stage by her family, including her 4 year-old “miracle” daughter Abigail, who punctuated her mother’s remarks with questions and exclamations.

Beutler told the audience that while she was pregnant with Abigail, an ultrasound revealed devastating news - their daughter was not developing vital organs properly within the womb, and she would likely suffocate to death as soon as she was born.

Beutler said that she and her husband were told the baby had a “zero percent chance” of survival, and that most parents in their situation opt to get an abortion.

“We prayed, we cried...and in that devastation, we saw God,” Beutler said. Unwilling to abort, the couple sought doctors and experimental treatments that could give their daughter a chance at life. She said their love of their daughter and unwillingness to give up would save her life.

“Through divine intervention, and some very courageous doctors who were willing to take a risk, we now get to experience our daughter Abigail, who is a healthy, happy 4 year-old big sister,” Beutler said. “She says that someday she’s going to be the boss of mommy’s work - look out Speaker Ryan.”  

Sr. Bethany Madonna of the Sisters of Life told the crowd the story of Raquel, a scared pregnant woman who came to the sisters for help and told them that while she believed abortion was wrong, she could never tell another woman what to do.

That all changed one day when Raquel met a fellow scared pregnant woman in an elevator. She took the mother’s hand and had her feel the kicks of her own unborn baby.

“Yeah, my baby’s gonna be a linebacker. He’s gonna be strong and he’s gonna be blessed,” Raquel told the woman. “Why is he gonna be blessed? Because he’s here.”

Raquel then told the woman that she would have a girl, and could name her Raquel Jasmine, after the “fabulous lady you met on the elevator.”

Two years later, Raquel met the woman again at the doctor’s office. She was pushing a stroller with twin girls - named Raquel and Jasmine.

“It was such a small thing, this loving exchange, and the impact reaches in to eternity,” Sr. Bethany Madonna said. “You may not see the impact of your love, but God sees it. The love in your hearts is totally unique to you...and your love saves lives.”

Other speakers addressing the March included Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Pam Tebow, the mother of former pro-football player Tim Tebow, U.S. Representatives Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Chris Smith (R-NJ) and well as Metropolitan Tikhon, Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America and Canada, Orthodox Church of America, and Bishop Vincent Matthews Jr., President of the International Missions Department of the Church of God in Christ.

Ryan encouraged the crowd - mostly made up of young people, he noted - that love is the reason the pro-life movement is on the rise in the United States.

“The pro-life movement is on the rise because we have love on our side,” Ryan said. “We believe every person is worthy of love and dignity.”

“That’s one thing that gets lost [in the political debate about abortion] - just how compassionate the pro-life movement really is,” he said. “I’m proud of what this movement has done for women who have gone through the pain of abortion, how it supports single mothers who are struggling to support their children...this is the face of the pro-life movement,” Ryan added.

He also noted several pro-life bills that have been passed by the House in the past year, including the just-passed Born Alive Survivors Protection Act, which protects the lives of babies who survive failed abortions.

“Most importantly, we are striving to do all of this without judgement in our hearts, but with compassion and love for all of the victims [of abortion],” he said.  

“Thank you for being here...this is one that we will win this day. Thank you. God bless you, tell everybody come back next year and bring three friends.”

Meet the priest who serves an unlikely community in Peru's Amazon

Puerto Maldonado, Peru, Jan 19, 2018 / 02:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Fr. Pablo Zabala is a 70-year old Spanish priest, who serves in a remote part of the world: the Peruvian Amazon.

Most of the people who fill his church pews are gold miners and sex workers in Boca Colorado – an area that some are likening to the California Gold Rush. Before Fr. Zabala began serving in the Amazon, his fellow clergy compared it to Sodom and Gomorrah.

“God is in all parts,” Zabala told them, saying he felt a calling to serve with “the life of the common people,” according to the Associated Press.

Kabala, a former biologist, has lived in the Amazon for the past 24 years, 10 of which have been spent heading up the parish in Boca Colorado, part of the Madre de Dios region. Pope Francis visited the region's capital, Puerto Maldonado, on Friday.

During his ministry, he has seen how miners support their families through their trade mainly because they have no other option for work. Poverty, Zabala noted, has driven thousands into mining or prostitution.

According to AP, miners in the area are using mercury in their pursuit of gold, which has infiltrated into the local water systems. In addition, the miners have brought with them new roadways which have tapped into the rainforest’s supply of trees.

However, Zabala has been working closely with the locals, saying he often points the women toward the witness of St. Mary Madgalene, who has been an effective inspiration for them. He also noted that the women in the town have been instrumental in building two churches.

In addition, Zabala offers the support that he can to the miners, usually in the form of a listening ear. However, on occasion, the task falls to the local priest to bury lone miners who get caught up in local conflicts.

“He’s here for the difficult moments,” said Juana Roque, a local woman who lives with her family in the mining camps.

Pope Francis visited the Madre de Dios region Jan. 19, meeting with indigenous Amazonians, the people of Puerto Maldonado, and the community of a home for orphaned children.

While meeting with members of the Amazonian community, he handed out copies of his 2015 encyclical Laudato si' and noted that “the defense of the earth has no other purpose than the defense of life.

He also spoke about desperations of poverty which has led many to seek gold in the Amazon’s mines. However, he warned that gold can turn into “a false god that demands human sacrifices,” which can “corrupt people and institutions, and they ruin the forest.”