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Posted on 04/20/2019 22:16 PM (CNA Daily News)
Vatican City, Apr 20, 2019 / 02:16 pm (CNA).- In his Easter Vigil homily, Pope Francis said that the Risen Christ desires to “roll back the stone” that blocks the entrance to one’s heart, so that God’s light and love can enter.
“The Lord calls us to get up, to rise at his word, to look up and to realize that we were made for heaven, not for earth, for the heights of life and not for the depths of death,” Pope Francis said in St. Peter’s Basilica April 20.
“Each of us is called tonight to rediscover in the Risen Christ the one who rolls back from our heart the heaviest of stones. So let us first ask: What is the stone that I need to remove, what is its name?” he asked.
Pope Francis said the “stone of sin” blocks many hearts. “Sin is looking for life among the dead, for the meaning of life in things that pass away,” he explained.
“Sin seduces; it promises things easy and quick, prosperity and success, but then leaves behind only solitude and death,” he said, adding that with Christ we can pass “from self-centredness to communion, from desolation to consolation, from fear to confidence.”
“Why not prefer Jesus, the true light, to the glitter of wealth, career, pride and pleasure? Why not tell the empty things of this world that you no longer live for them, but for the Lord of life?” Francis asked.
The Vatican Easter Vigil Mass began with the blessing of the new fire in the atrium and the blessing of the paschal candle. The pope then processed into the dark church carrying the lit candle to signify the light of Christ coming to dispel the darkness.
“Today, let us remember how Jesus first called us, how he overcame our darkness, our resistance, our sins, and how he touched our hearts with his word,” he said.
Francis warned against having a “museum faith” instead of a living, “Easter faith.” Christ is “a person living today,” he said, not only a person from the past. “We encounter him in life.”
“Let us not keep our faces bowed to the ground in fear, but raise our eyes to the risen Christ. His gaze fills us with hope, for it tells us that we are loved unfailingly, and that however much we make a mess of things, his love remains unchanged,” he said.
Pope Francis described Christ’s love as the “one non-negotiable certitude we have in this life.”
“The Lord loves your life, even when you are afraid to look at it,” he said.
“In Easter he shows you how much he loves that life: even to the point of … experiencing anguish, abandonment, death and hell, in order to emerge triumphant to tell you: ‘You are not alone; put your trust in me!’” he continued.
During the Easter Vigil Mass, Pope Francis administered the Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist -- to eight people, from Italy, Ecuador, Peru, Albania, and Indonesia.
“Dear brothers and sisters: let us put the Living One at the centre of our lives,” Pope Francis said. “Let us seek him in all things and above all things. With him, we will rise again.”
Posted on 04/20/2019 11:00 AM (CNA Daily News)
Denver, Colo., Apr 20, 2019 / 03:00 am (CNA).- Twenty years ago, two teenagers opened gunfire outside Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.
Their massacre was premeditated and devastating; the boys also unsuccessfully planned to bomb the school with homemade explosives. They murdered 13 and wounded more than 20 others; finally they shot and killed themselves.
Twelve students and one teacher died the morning of April 20, 1999. The victims included at least four Catholics.
It was the most devastating school shooting in the United States up to that point, and would remain so until April 2007 when a gunman killed 32 people and himself at Virginia Tech.
Archbishop Charles Chaput, now of Philadelphia, was the shepherd of Denver at the time. More than 1,000 mourners turned out for the first three students’ funerals, over which Chaput presided.
"[Chaput] was very prompt in understanding the need to get to the scene and get to the families, the Catholic families, to provide them with support," Francis Maier, who was archdiocesan chancellor and special assistant to the archbishop at the time, told CNA in an interview.
The massacre happened at a time when school shootings were relatively rare, Maier emphasized. Columbine is in an upscale neighborhood, he noted, and it was a place where no one anticipated something like that could happen.
Maier said both secular and Church officials responded well when the shooting happened, but there were some moments at the beginning when people asked: "What do we do? How do we respond?"
“[Chaput] was engaged immediately. [The shooting] caught everyone by surprise, obviously, but he responded very promptly."
The archbishop stayed in touch with the parents of at least one of the victims for years afterward, thanks to the relationship forged in the immediate aftermath of the attack. Maier said he thought the archbishop was prepared by having been a pastor in the diocese before he was its archbishop, which he had been for 2 years in 1999.
"He had a long-lasting linkage to the event and the families that were involved," Maier said.
Maier said after the tragedy the Church was often asked how the shooting could be reconciled with the idea of a good and merciful God, and how the perpetrators— two kids— could do something like that?
"Delivering that message of God's presence and God's continuing love, obviously, was the archbishop's task,” Maier said.
“And in the funeral homilies that he preached, the counseling he gave to the families— a lot of counseling in a situation like this is just being present. Because what are you gonna say, you know? You can't say 'I know how you feel?' because you don't. And I think the archbishop understood that his presence and the presence that it represented as the Church's concern.”
The Columbine shooting prompted a national conversation about gun control and school safety.
Chaput testified before the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on May 4, 1999. He addressed violence in media and popular culture— a widely-discussed topic in the wake of the shootings.
“The reasonable person understands that what we eat, drink, and breathe will make us healthy or sick. In like manner, what we hear and what we see lifts us up or drags us down. It forms us inside,” Chaput told the committee.
He noted that “The Matrix,” a film in theaters at that time hugely popular with teenagers, featured a great deal of firearm violence. Chaput wondered if the shooters had seen the film; and if so, he mused that “it certainly didn't deter them” from committing their violent act.
“People of religious faith have been involved in music, art, literature, and architecture for thousands of years, because we know from experience that these things shape the soul, and through the soul, they shape behavior,” Chaput said.
“Common sense tells us that the violence of our music, our video games, our films, and our television has to go somewhere. It goes straight into the hearts of our children, to bear fruit in ways we cannot imagine until something like [Columbine] happens.”
Chaput emphasized his view that tragedies like Columbine emerge out of a culture in which people are not being taught to value human life.
“When we build our advertising campaigns on consumer selfishness and greed, and when money becomes our universal measure of value, how can we be surprised when our sense of community erodes?” he wondered.
“When we multiply and glorify guns, are we surprised when kids use them? When we answer murder with more violence in the death penalty, we put the State’s seal of approval on revenge.”
“When the most dangerous place in the country is a mother’s womb, and the unborn child can have his or her head crushed in an abortion, even in the process of being born, the body language of that message is that life is not sacred and may not be worth much at all.”
Maier agreed with Chaput’s diagnosis of the problem.
"Young people are not being formed properly in the dignity of life, and older people, adults, are deeply into self-satisfaction and license."
"The disease needs to be addressed, not the symptoms,” he said.
“Fixing it is not going to be removing one particular way of committing an evil act. People will find other means to do those things if they are committed to doing evil things. So I think the underlying culture that produces Columbine is still with us, and, if anything, it’s worse."
Posted on 04/20/2019 00:48 AM (CNA Daily News)
Hanoi, Vietnam, Apr 19, 2019 / 04:48 pm (CNA).- While the Stations of the Cross are a worldwide Lenten devotion for Catholics, the faithful in Vietnam have an additional practice that blends ancient traditional chants with Catholic prayer and meditation on the Crucifixion.
“The ‘Ngam Nguyen’ are…a unique Vietnamese Catholic practice of intoning a series of meditations recounting the Passion of Christ,” said Fr. Anthony Le Duc, national chaplain for the Vietnamese community in Thailand.
Fr. Duc told CNA that the intoned meditative chants, called “Ngam,” describe the suffering of Jesus. Designed to help people enter more deeply into the experience and emotions lived out by Christ during his Passion, they have been adapted from folk traditions integrated with prayers prepared by missionaries who came to Vietnam in the early 16 -17th century.
There are a total of 15 Ngam meditations recounting the excruciating pain and suffering that Jesus underwent as he was arrested, put on trial, and crucified at Golgotha.
These meditations differ from the traditional Stations of the Cross because they focus mainly on what occurs at the trial of Jesus before Pontius Pilate and on the Cross at Calvary, while the stations focus largely on what happens in between these two events.
Beginning with Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, and concluding with Jesus’ side being pierced by a spear, the Ngam meditations seek to immerse participants into Christ’s passion.
The intoning is melodic, in accordance with the tonal nature of the Vietnamese language. Since the meditations recount the pain and suffering of Christ, the tone is extremely melancholy, which can well up emotions and often bring the listener to tears.
When intoning the meditations, the reader must follow strict rules, depending on whether there is a comma, semicolon, period or other punctuation. If the reader comes upon the name of Jesus in the text, he must bow his head.
The recitation of the Ngam meditations – either in whole or as part of a series – takes place in many Vietnamese churches every day throughout the Lenten season, either as part of a post-Mass liturgy, or as a liturgical service on its own. The devotion starts with common prayers of the Church, followed by the meditations. Between meditations, an Our Father and 10 Hail Marys are recited. On Good Friday, the liturgy concludes with a Lamentation and other prayers. The entire liturgy can take over two hours to complete.
The Vietnamese take this tradition very seriously, viewing it as both liturgy and art form. During the Lenten season, many parishes organize competitions, which only the most skilled readers dare to enter.
The reciter chants without any instrumental accompaniment. The person who goes up to intone, often stands or kneels in front of the altar with the book placed before him. On both sides, there are people to follow his reading. If the intoner makes a mistake, the judge strikes a wooden instrument. If he makes three mistakes, he must leave the competition and someone else will go up to reread the meditation.
“The meditation also represents a creative adaptation of the spirituality and the liturgy of the Church to a local context,” Fr. Duc said. “And it speaks to the great collaboration between foreign missionaries in Vietnam and the local faithful in inventing this Lenten tradition that has been going on for centuries.”
European missionaries accompanying merchants on newly discovered sea routes brought the Catholic faith to Vietnam in 1533. Later in the 16th century, the arrival of many members of the Society of Jesus (SJ), Order of Preachers (OP), Order of Friars Minor (OFM) and the Society of Foreign Missions of Paris (MEP) boosted evangelization efforts in the east.
These missionaries taught the truths of the Catholic faith to converted native Vietnamese catechists, who came from various religious background and cultural traditions. The natives then taught the locals Christian prayers using the local educational method of intonation of religious texts, which was used in temples and during devotional folklore chants.
In previous centuries, these meditations were written in the Vietnamese “Nôm” script, a derivation of the Chinese script. However, in the 20th century, the meditations were printed in the Vietnamese Latin script “(quoc ngu)” which made them easier to read.
Different dioceses have their own versions that may have minor differences in the wording, matching their local dialect. Apart from these differences, the texts have undergone few revisions in recent decades.
Fr. Duc explained that “Ngam Nguyen” texts employ mostly ordinary speech, even colloquial in places, done “perhaps in order to make it easy for the average faithful to understand.”
The Ngam tradition is present throughout Vietnam, as well as in migrant communities in the United States, Australia, and Thailand, among other countries.
There are more than 5.5 million Catholics in Vietnam today. In past centuries, Christians in the country have faced persecution. In 1988, Pope John Paul II canonized 117 Blessed Martyrs of Vietnam, including both clergy and laity.
This article was originally published on CNA March 25, 2016.
Posted on 04/19/2019 18:53 PM (CNA Daily News)
Denver, Colo., Apr 19, 2019 / 10:53 am (CNA).- I’ve been married for 13 Easters now. I’ve been a dad for seven of those.
And every year, Easter sneaks up on our family. It shouldn’t. Lent is a long and penitential season, and the fair warning the Church gives us that Easter is coming. But a few weeks into Lent, it becomes normal- the sacrifices and penances become part of our routine- and I begin to forget that Easter is coming.
And then, it’s the Triduum.
Then it’s Good Friday, and we’re kneeling in the Church, and processing forward to kiss the cross.
Then it’s Holy Saturday, and some years we’re putting the kids in pajamas to let them sleep in the pews during Easter Vigil.
Then it’s Easter, and we’re celebrating with our family, and cooking a roast, and drinking champagne.
And every year, I find myself wondering if I’ve led my family well through Lent. Every year, I see the ways in which I might have invited my wife more often to prayer. Every year, I ask if I’ve taught the kids enough about Jesus and his sacrifice, if I’ve opened the Scripture often enough in our home.
Every year, I conclude I haven’t done enough. I haven’t really lived the Lent I should have, I decide. I haven’t really lived for Christ.
But all of that is folly.
We’re called, of course, to order our lives and homes and families to Jesus Christ. We’re called to be his disciples. We’re called to place him above all things.
But Easter reminds us that we’re also called to let him- and him alone- accomplish the transformation of our lives.
Not one of us can conquer death. Not one of us can atone for sin. Not one of us can transform a heart, ordering it to the unreserved love of God and neighbor.
Only he can do that.
We can put ourselves in his presence. We can offer ourselves to him. We can try to follow the examples of the saints. We can try to put the sacraments at the center of our lives.
But after that, we need to trust him. Easter tells us that we become saints through the work that he, and his grace, do in us, and through us, and for us. We are participants, but he is the source of life.
“We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death,” St. Paul tells the Romans, “so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.”
Our newness of life comes through him. And it takes time to be fully manifested. And we have to trust.
Pope Francis has rightly pointed out a kind of Pelagianism among many practicing Catholics today. A sense that we can do it ourselves: that if we manage to carry the burden of moral perfection, and apostolic life, and evangelical zeal, that we might get ourselves to heaven.
But we won’t, and we can’t. That’s not sufficient. The doors to heaven are open to us because he loved us enough to be scourged at a pillar, to hang on a cross, to be buried, and to conquer sin and death.
And in baptism, he makes us a part of his life, death, and resurrection.
The evil one wants to make us think we can do it alone. And when we fail, he leads us to despair. But an empty tomb will always be beyond our own powers and abilities.
This Easter, I’ll give thanks to the Lord for the ways I’ve grown closer to him this Lent. I’ll ask him to help me follow him more closely. I’ll repent of my sins, and confess them. I’ll continue to walk with him on the lifelong journey to holiness.
This Easter, I’ll try to remember that alone, I can’t be good enough, strong enough, or powerful enough to be free from my own sins, or from my impending death.
And I’ll celebrate that, because of what he did for me, I don’t have to be.
Posted on 04/19/2019 18:30 PM (CNA Daily News)
Vatican City, Apr 19, 2019 / 10:30 am (CNA).- Pope Francis’ prayer at Good Friday’s Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum included a plea for abused youth and for the Church, whom he said is continually under attack.
“Lord Jesus, help us to see in Your Cross all the crosses of the world … the cross of little ones wounded in their innocence and in their purity,” Pope Francis said in his prayer to conclude the Way of the Cross April 19.
Francis also prayed for “the cross of the Church, your Bride, who feels herself continually attacked from inside and outside.”
The meditations for this year’s Way of the Cross at the Colosseum — written by Sister Eugenia Bonetti, founder of “Slaves No More” — included reflections on the suffering endured by victims of human trafficking today.
“Like the young girl with a slim body we met one evening in Rome while men in luxury cars lined up to exploit her. She might have been the age of their own children,” the meditation for the sixth station, Veronica wipes the face of Jesus, stated.
“Cleanse our eyes so that we can see your face in our brothers and sisters, especially in all those children,” the prayer that followed stated. “Little ones used as cheap goods, bought and sold at will. Lord, we ask you to have mercy and compassion on this sick world. Help us rediscover the beauty of our dignity, and that of others, as human beings created in your image and likeness.”
Pope Francis personally selected Sister Bonetti to write the meditations for the Stations of the Cross. Bonetti, 80, is a Consolata Missionary Sister from northern Italy, who aids women and girls in Italy to leave prostitution and trafficking.
“Lord Jesus, it is easy to wear a crucifix on a chain around our neck or to use it to decorate the walls of our beautiful cathedrals or homes. It is less easy to encounter and acknowledge today’s newly crucified: the homeless; the young deprived of hope, without work and without prospects; the immigrants relegated to slums at the fringe of our societies after having endured untold suffering,” Bonetti wrote in her Way of the Cross meditations.
Pope Francis presided over the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday at the Colosseum – a Roman practice that dates back to the pontificate of Benedict XIV, who died in 1758.
After a pause, the tradition was revived by St. Pope Paul VI in 1964. During St. John Paul II’s papacy, the Colosseum stations became a worldwide television event; the pope himself used to carry the cross.
“We have gathered in this place where thousands of people once suffered martyrdom for their fidelity to Christ,” Bonetti wrote in her introduction to her station meditations.
“We want to walk this via dolorosa in union with the poor, the outcast of our societies and all those who even now are enduring crucifixion as victims of our narrowmindedness, our institutions and our laws, our blindness and selfishness, but especially our indifference and hardness of heart,” she continued.
Pope Francis prayed to see Christ in “the cross of consecrated persons who, along the way, have forgotten their first love” and “the cross of our common home that seriously withers under our eyes, selfish and blinded by greed and power.”
This year’s stations of the cross meditations also included prayers for children who are exploited in mines, fields and fisheries, bought and sold by human traffickers for organ harvesting, and for migrants who died in shipwrecks.
Human trafficking is an important topic to Pope Francis, who has spoken out against human exploitation throughout his pontificate. The pope has often invoked the intercession of St. Josephine Bakhita, once a slave herself, to intercede to bring about an end to “this plague.”
While in the past, the pope himself used to carry the cross from station to station around the Colosseum, it is now carried by individuals and families.
This year cross-bearers included priests from Syria and the Holy Land, several religious sisters, and a man in a wheelchair accompanied by volunteers with the Italian National Union for Transporting the Sick to Lourdes and International Shrines. Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, the Vicar General of Rome, carried the cross for the first and last stations.
In his prayer at the end of the Via Crucis, the pope prayed for “the cross of your children who, believing in You and trying to live according to Your word, find themselves marginalized and discarded even by their relatives and their peers.”
“Lord Jesus, revive in us the hope of the resurrection and your definitive victory against every evil and every death,” Pope Francis prayed.
Posted on 04/19/2019 18:00 PM (CNA Daily News)
Vatican City, Apr 19, 2019 / 10:00 am (CNA).- At the Vatican’s Good Friday service, the papal preacher connected Christ’s Passion with all in history who have suffered the degradation of their human dignity, highlighting in particular the experience of African-American slaves.
“The final word is not and never will be injustice and oppression. Jesus not only restored dignity to the disinherited of the world, he also gave them hope,” papal preacher Father Raniero Cantalamessa said in his homily in St. Peter’s Basilica April 19.
“We can say to the poor, the outcasts, those who are trapped in different forms of slavery still occurring in our society: Easter is your feast,” he said.
Reflecting on the rejection and hatred experienced by the “suffering servant” described by the Jewish prophet Isaiah, Cantalamessa said “the Crucified One” is a “prototype and representative of all the rejected, the disinherited, and the ‘discarded’ of the earth.”
“The African-American writer and theologian Howard Thurman—the man Martin Luther King considered his teacher and his inspiration for the non-violent struggle for human rights—wrote a book called ‘Jesus and the Disinherited.’ In it he shows what the figure of Jesus represented for the slaves in the south,” Cantalamessa said.
“When the slaves were deprived of every right and completely abject, the words of the Gospel that the minister would repeat in their segregated worship — the only meeting they were allowed to have— would give the slaves back a sense of their dignity as children of God,” he continued.
Howard Thurman, 1899-1981, was a Protestant minister and civil rights leader, who helped to found the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples, one of the first interracial and interdenominational churches in the United States in 1944.
The papal preacher continued, “The majority of Negro Spirituals that still move the world today arose in this context. At the time of public auction, slaves experienced the anguish of seeing wives separated from their husbands and children from their parents, being sold at times to different masters. It is easy to imagine the spirit with which they sang out in the sun or inside their huts, ‘Nobody knows the trouble I have seen. Nobody knows, but Jesus.’”
Fr. Cantalamessa, a Capuchin friar, has been the official papal preacher since he was appointed to the role by Pope St. John Paul II in 1980. He offers meditations to the pope and members of the Curia on Fridays during Advent and Lent, and he preaches the homily for the Good Friday veneration liturgy.
Pope Francis presided over the liturgy of the Lord’s Passion and prostrated himself before the altar in St. Peter’s Basilica at the beginning of the Good Friday service.
After St. John’s Gospel was chanted in Latin, Fr. Cantelamessa said in his homily, “the Church has received the mandate from its founder to stand with the poor and the weak, to be voice for those who have no voice.”
He continued, “the second historical task that religions need to take on together today, besides promoting peace, is not to remain silent in the face of the situation that is there for everyone to see. A few privileged people possess more goods than they could ever consume, while for entire centuries countless masses of poor people have lived without having a piece of bread or a sip of water to give their children.”
“No religion can remain indifferent to this because the God of all the religions is not indifferent to all of this,” Cantalamessa said.
The papal preacher said that Jesus on the cross “becomes a symbol” for the “part of humanity that is humiliated and insulted.”
He noted that “the most profound meaning” of the passion and death of Christ “is not social but spiritual and mystical.”
“‘Ecce homo!' 'Here is the man!’ exclaims Pilate … These are words which, after Christ, can be said of the endless host of men and women who are vilified, reduced to being objects, deprived of all human dignity,” Cantalamessa explained.
“One would want to exclaim, ‘You who are rejected, spurned, pariahs of the whole earth: the greatest man in history was one of you! Whatever nation, race, or religion you belong to, you have the right to claim him as yours,’” he said.
Posted on 04/19/2019 16:02 PM (CNA Daily News)
Paris, France, Apr 19, 2019 / 08:02 am (CNA).- After a massive fire gutted the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris April 15, the cathedral’s rector says a temporary wooden church might soon be constructed in the esplanade, or plaza, adjacent to the cathedral.
Monsignor Patrick Chauvet told France’s CNews April 18 that he was exploring plans to build an “ephemeral cathedral” adjacent to Notre Dame, where cleanup and construction are expected to begin soon.
Mass would be celebrated and confessions offered at the temporary structure, Chauvet suggested, adding that Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo is a supporter of the idea.
"We mustn't say 'the cathedral is closed for five years' and that's it," Chauvet said Thursday.
There is no formal estimate yet for how long the cathedral restoration will take. While France’s President Emmanuel Macron has said that he would like to see restoration completed within five years, experts say that possibility is extremely unlikely.
Nearly one billion euro have been pledged to the restoration effort.
While the images of the cathedral’ exterior suggested nearly total devastation after the fire, inside the cathedral’s vaulted stone ceiling mostly held, and protected many of the cathedral's religious and historical treasures from the flames.
The cathedral’s famed rose windows, its bell towers and massive bells, and its organ were all intact after the fire. The Church’s most important religious items were spared from the fire: the Eucharist, and relics of Christ’s crown of thorns and cross were saved during the fire.
Posted on 04/19/2019 14:01 PM (CNA Daily News)
Chicago, Ill., Apr 19, 2019 / 06:01 am (CNA).- A pro-life group is coordinating ecumenical Good Friday services and Ways of the Cross outside of abortion clinics in more than 30 states, saying it is a fitting time to pray for unborn victims, their mothers, and clinic workers affected by abortion.
“There’s no better day to remember the victims of abortion than Good Friday, when we remember the suffering and execution of Jesus Christ, an innocent man who preached the value of every single human life,” Eric Scheidler, director of the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League, said April 17.
Pro-life Christians have scheduled Way of the Cross services outside nearly 100 abortion clinics in more than 30 states, according to the Pro-Life Action League. It lists locations of these services on its website.
The league has coordinated the Good Friday prayer services since 2014 and expects thousands to attend this year. The group’s website includes a guide on how to host a Way of the Cross for Victims of Abortion, aiming for a broad Christian audience.
“Though the devotion of the Stations of the Cross has Catholic roots, the service we conduct is completely ecumenical,” the guide says. “People of every denomination join us each year and there is no material in the book that would be offensive to non-Catholics.”
The Pro-Life Action League asks participating groups to report the time, date and location of their services for listing on the league’s website.
“As a society, we've become increasingly sensitive to the victims of injustice, and that’s to our credit,” said Scheidler. “But we forget about the victims of abortion, starting with the more than 60 million unborn children who have lost their lives to legal abortion in the United States since 1973.”
The millions of women who regret their abortions are also victimized, he said, as are some abortion clinic staff. He charged that abortion provider Planned Parenthood exploited sincere desires to help women, as with former clinic director Abby Johnson whose story is depicted in the movie “Unplanned.”
The Pro-Life Action League was founded by Joe Scheidler in 1980. Its activities include public protest, sidewalk counseling, and youth outreach.
Posted on 04/19/2019 03:00 AM (CNA Daily News)
Seville, Spain, Apr 18, 2019 / 07:00 pm (CNA).- Authorities from Spain and Morocco have arrested a 23 year old man in Rabat, Morocco, who is suspected of planning an attack during Holy Week celebrations in the Spanish city of Seville.
According to Spanish federal police, Spain’s National Intelligence Center and the Moroccan secret service, 23-year-old Zouhair el Bouhdidi was planning detonate explosives during Holy Week processions in Seville, the city in which he lived.
The arrest took place after the Spanish authorities informed the Moroccans that el Bouhdidi had traveled to Morocco, allegedly in preparation for the attack, according to Spanish newspaper El Confidencial.
The police searched his Seville residence April 17.
The Islamic State had called for attacks during Holy Week in Spain in a video broadcast on propaganda channels. The video encouraged ISIS followers or supporters to act in the name of “holy war,” and showed images of processions on the streets of Valencia and Malaga alongside scenes in which pedestrians are mowed down by vehicles.
The Spanish Interior Minister had reinforced security details beginning last week because of the Holy Week celebrations and the upcoming elections.
Seville’s Holy Week processions have widely recognized for their beauty, and they annually attract throngs of tourists.
This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
Posted on 04/19/2019 02:01 AM (CNA Daily News)
Oklahoma City, Okla., Apr 18, 2019 / 06:01 pm (CNA).- Oklahoma legislators have passed a bill requiring physicians to tell women that a drug-induced abortion procedure can be reversed, but questions remain over the science behind the claims and whether the bill can pass constitutional muster.
“A number of women have regret after the abortion. They may have a regret during the process but, if they don’t know there may be a way to reverse the process, then they just don’t know,” bill author Rep. Mark Lepak, R-Claremore, told the Oklahoma television station News 4.
“There are a lot of things in this world that, once you make a decision, you can’t undo. This is perhaps one that you can change your mind and you still have some hope that you could deliver a happy, healthy baby,” he said.
The House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 614 by a vote of 72 to 24. The bill requires signage about abortion drug reversal to be posted in facilities where abortions are performed.
“If you continue to perform the abortion without the signage posted, without the notice, then there are penalties and fines associated,” Lepak said.
Doctors who violate the law could face felony charges, while facilities could face fines of $10,000 per day.
Jill Webb, legal director at the ACLU of Oklahoma, said the bill could result in legal challenges if it is signed into law.
“Arizona, for instance, immediately had it challenged, and what they did was reverse the policy even before it got to court for determination,” Webb told News 4. “Not only do you have freedom of speech to say what you want, you also can’t be compelled to say something you don’t believe, and that’s what the problem is.”
Similar Arizona legislation, passed in 2015, was repealed in 2016 after legal challenges and a failure to find a credible expert willing to defend it. The State of Arizona had to pay Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers more than $600,000 in attorney fees and other costs spent fighting the law, the Associated Press said.
Dr. Melinda Cail of Primary Health Partners criticized one argument for the bill based on a study of seven patients.
“I think that physicians will find it hard to swallow something that could be a felony that was based on such a small sample,” she said, according to News 4.
“In that study of seven people, two went on to stop the procedure and had continuation of the pregnancy,” she said, commenting that it lacked long-term follow-up on whether the babies and mothers were healthy after the procedure.
Lepak said the study was “very dated” but claimed other evidence backed the bill.
A chemical abortion is a two-step process that involves the ingestion of two drugs: mifepristone and misoprostol. The first drug, mifepristone, effectively starves the unborn baby by blocking the effects of the hormone progesterone. The second drug, misoprostol, is taken up to two days later and induces labor.
Backers of abortion pill reversal say the abortion can be reversed after a woman takes mifepristone but before she takes misoprostol, though this must be done quickly.
Dr. George Delgado, M.D., appears to have been the author of the first study involving seven women. Delgado, a pro-life California doctor, has been a leader in medical interventions to reverse the effects of the abortion pill regimen.
He and several other researchers wrote another analysis of abortion pill reversal in the journal Issues in Law and Medicine in April 2018.
In observations of 754 patients who sought abortion pill reversal before taking the second drug, the researchers said that intramuscular progesterone had a reversal rate of 64% and high dose oral progesterone had a reversal rate of 68%.
“There was no apparent increased risk of birth defects,” the abstract said.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which tends to oppose abortion regulations, has criticized the scientific claims behind abortion pill reversal.
Its 2015 position paper on the Arizona legislation noted that pregnancy will continue in 30-50% of women who take mifepristone alone and do not take misoprostol, the National Catholic Register has reported.
“Available research seems to indicate that in the rare situation where a woman takes mifepristone and then changes her mind, doing nothing and waiting to see what happens is just as effective as intervening with a course of progesterone,” the OB/GYN group said.
The methods behind Delgado’s more recent study have also come under criticism, including allegations that some women were dropped out of the study to inflate the success rate, Los Angeles Magazine reported in March 2019.
The Abortion Pill Rescue Network, which Delgado serves as a medical advisor, has claimed to have saved over 500 babies from abortion, its website said. The network is a program of Heartbeat International, a longstanding network of pro-life pregnancy assistance.