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Pope, Trudeau discuss reconciliation with Canada’s indigenous people

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he asked Pope Francis to help Canadians “move forward on a real reconciliation” with the country’s indigenous people “by issuing an apology” on behalf of the Catholic Church for its role in harming their communities.

Pope Francis meets Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a private audience at the Vatican May 29. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Pope Francis meets Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a private audience at the Vatican May 29. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

The prime minister spoke to a handful of reporters in Rome’s Villa Borghese Park May 29 after having had a 36-minute private meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

“He reminded me that his entire life has been dedicated to supporting marginalized people in the world, fighting for them,” the prime minister said, adding the pope said that “he looked forward to working with me and with the Canadian bishops to figure out a path forward together.”

The 2015 report of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which focused on past treatment of the indigenous communities and concrete steps for a future of greater inclusion, included a recommendation that the pope come to Canada to apologize on behalf of the Catholic Church for its participation in the residential schools for indigenous children.

While the idea behind the schools was to promote the greater integration of indigenous communities into modern Canadian life, the schools, many run by Catholic religious orders, led to a situation in which many children were torn from their families, lost their native language and cultures and often suffered abuse.

Trudeau told reporters he invited the pope to go to Canada “in the coming years,” but added no further details about such a trip.

The Vatican meeting, Trudeau said, was an opportunity to have “a deeply personal and wide-ranging, thoughtful conversation with the leader of my own faith.”

For its part, the Vatican issued a statement saying that the prime minister’s meetings with the pope and with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, included “the themes of integration and reconciliation, as well as religious freedom and current ethical issues.”

Trudeau, who is Catholic, and the bishops of Canada work closely on fighting climate change and on welcoming and assisting refugees, especially from Syria. However, the bishops have sharp differences with the prime minister over a variety of issues related to the sanctity of human life and the family.

In early March Trudeau’s government announced it would “invest” $650 million (US$483 million) over three years to provide abortion and other services in the developing world. The president of the bishops’ conference, Bishop Douglas Crosby of Hamilton, Ontario, reacted by calling the policy “a reprehensible example of Western cultural imperialism.”

The bishops also have been working diligently to promote palliative care and a recognition of the sacredness of life of those who are dying as well as the right of medical personnel to conscientiously object to participating in practices they oppose on religious grounds. The Canadian Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 2015 that people who are “grievously and irremediably ill” have a right to medical assistance in dying.

After the closed-door meeting, Trudeau introduced his wife, Sophie Gregoire, and his delegation to the pope before exchanging gifts with him.

Trudeau gave the pope an edition of the six-volume “Relations des Jesuites de la Nouvelle-France,” a collection of 17th-century reports from Jesuit missionaries in what is now Canada. Trudeau told the Jesuit pope the volumes are an “essential tool for historians” in understanding the early history of the country. He also gave the pope framed samples of a Jesuit’s dictionary of Montagnais Innu, the language of an indigenous community in Canada.

Pope Francis, appreciating the gift, told the prime minister, “it was a custom of the Jesuits” to compile such dictionaries when they began missions in new lands.

The pope gave Trudeau the gold medallion minted for the fourth year of his pontificate (2016-17), which features an “embrace” as “a symbol of forgiveness, joy and mutual acceptance,” according to the Vatican’s description. It also refers to the passage from Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

Pope Francis is aware of the current situation in Canada and the concerns of the bishops on all the issues mentioned by Trudeau to the press and in the Vatican communique. From March to May Pope Francis spent hours listening to the bishops, who made their ad limina visits to the Vatican in four groups.

While all the bishops of Canada have not formally invited the pope to Canada, during the visits several of the groups explained the situation of Canada’s indigenous peoples, the history of the residential schools and the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Some of the bishops said they were told Pope Francis would consider a trip in 2018 or 2019. A final decision would require input from the whole Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in dialogue with the Vatican.

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Viewpoint: Deny Dover’s death-dealing bills

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Spring, nature’s season of rebirth and growth, has taken on a deadly aspect in Dover’s Legislative Hall with the introduction of three bills this session that focus on ending lives in Delaware.

One bill, Senate Bill 5, would officially make the Federal legalization of abortion part of the Delaware code of laws. The move might seem redundant, but the bill is intended to create back-up law for the First State to invoke, should the Supreme Court ever reverse its 44 years of rulings regarding Roe v. Wade.

Bishop Malooly, in a statement on SB5, has reiterated in his opposition to the measure. He stated on May 1 that the right to life is the first and most fundamental human right, that abortion denies God’s gift of life and dignity to the most vulnerable, and that “the life and dignity of every person must be respected and protected at every stage and every condition. This applies to the unborn as well as the sick, the elderly and those on death row.” Read more »

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Bishop Malooly’s letter to priests decries anti-life bills in Dover

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On May 3, Bishop Malooly wrote a letter to priests of the Diocese of Wilmington regarding three bills introduced this legislative session in Dover that would: codify in state law legalized abortion; amend the state’s death penalty statute in order to restore capital punishment; and legalized physician-assisted suicide.

The following is the text of the bishop’s letter to priests on Wednesday: Read more »

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Sidewalk counselor says ‘heart goes out’ to women in crisis pregnancies

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Catholic News Service

ST. PAUL, Minn. — It didn’t take long for Nicky Peters to feel the drama of being a sidewalk counselor outside Planned Parenthood in St. Paul.

The 19-year-old sophomore at St. Catherine University in St. Paul and member of St. Ambrose Parish in Woodbury had decided last spring to take her pro-life passion to the streets. She signed up to volunteer with Pro-Life Action Ministries in St. Paul and paired with Ann Redding, the organization’s sidewalk counseling coordinator.

Nicky Peters stands outside Planned Parenthood in St. Paul, Minn., Jan. 3. Peters stands outside the center twice a month to offer information and compassion to women arriving for abortions. (CNS photo/Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit)

Nicky Peters stands outside Planned Parenthood in St. Paul, Minn., Jan. 3. Peters stands outside the center twice a month to offer information and compassion to women arriving for abortions. (CNS photo/Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit)

This past June, the two showed up hoping to encounter women with unwanted pregnancies. It was Peters’ first time.

“That day was amazing,” she told The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. “I met Ann there, and within the first hour, a woman came up to us and told her (Ann) that she had changed her mind about having an abortion, but she had already had part of the procedure done.”

The woman told them that clinic workers had inserted laminaria sticks to help dilate her cervix to prepare for the abortion, but she had changed her mind. She jumped off the examination table and left the clinic without having them removed. When she encountered Redding and Peters on the sidewalk in front of the clinic, Redding hustled into action, leading the pregnant woman to nearby Abria Pregnancy Resources. Two months later, a healthy baby boy was born.

Peters, who is studying sign language interpreting at St. Kate’s, as her school’s known, will never forget that day. In fact, it’s what gives her the strength to spend hours alone on the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood, sometimes enduring insults and profanity hurled her way by vocal abortion supporters.

“It all goes back to that first day; the passion that I have is about helping these women,” said Peters, who does sidewalk counseling twice a month for about two-and-a-half hours each time. “My heart goes out to them, honestly. A child is such a wonderful thing that I’d do anything to help (the pregnant women).”

The seed of her current volunteer role was planted one year ago at the annual March for Life in Washington, marking the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in all 50 states. She made the trip out on a plane, but rode back on a bus chartered by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis when flights were canceled because of a powerful storm that dumped nearly 2 feet of snow in the mid-Atlantic region.

She rode back with other teens and young adults from the archdiocese, plus three women who belonged to Katies for Life on her campus.

“All these women were talking about how involved they were in the pro-life movement,” Peters recalled. “One girl in my college group who does a little bit of sidewalk counseling and is a prayer supporter described what it was, and it really sounded like something that I was called to do. I loved being pro-life and I really, really wanted to be more involved, so I looked into it, did some research and decided that this was for me and I wanted to do it.”

After going through a seminar and training, she went to Planned Parenthood with Redding, who has been in her role with Pro-Life Action Ministries since 2000.

“I’m just really glad she’s on board,” said Redding. “She’s out there to be compassionate with people. Whether it’s a ‘save’ or not, we’re recognizing the humanity of the child that’s (in danger of being) killed. Secondly, we are letting people know that we care about them.”

Redding noted that Peters is the perfect age for counseling because most of the women who come to Planned Parenthood for abortions are 20 to 24 years old. She estimates that 30 of the 200 regular sidewalk counselors who volunteer through the pro-life group are in that age group. Many are seminarians who come regularly on Friday afternoons.

“This is the best age group to be out there on the sidewalk,” Redding said. “The college-aged have physical strength, idealism and beauty. Young people have that beauty that draws someone to talk to them.”

However, the responses can be negative, even ugly, at times. Peters has discovered this, which initially surprised her.

“I do take a lot of heat, especially on the sidewalk, and even from people on campus,” she said. “I get profanity, the middle finger. I get anywhere from, ‘Oh, you’re just totally wrong,’ to large profanity statements.”

In between the encounters are long periods of silence, in which she sees no one and must figure out useful ways to spend her time.

Her go-to practice on those occasions is prayer. She recites decades of the rosary and calls on the intercession of the saints and Mary. Her words to God and to the people she meets are steeped in a deep faith that believes she is making a difference, and a faith that keeps her coming back for more, even when the coldest days of the year may lay ahead.

“I just love it, honestly,” she said. “It can get a little bit discouraging, but I always have to go back to that first day of helping that woman. I just have to go back to that day because I know that that truly was amazing, and I have to keep doing that so I can help more women. Even though people will give me the middle finger, I just have to sit there and pray for them and pray for a change of heart.”

Hrbacek is senior content specialist at The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

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New poll shows Americans strongly support abortion restrictions

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — A few days before the annual March for Life, a new national poll indicated shifting public attitudes, crossing party labels, in favor of increased restrictions on abortion.

“When you ask Americans what they think of abortion … you get very, very strong numbers in favor of restrictions,” said Andrew T. Walther, vice president of communications of the Knights of Columbus, during a Jan. 23 news conference.

Participants carry a banner during the annual annual Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco Jan. 21. (CNS photo/Jose Aguirre, Walk for Life West Coast)

Participants carry a banner during the annual annual Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco Jan. 21. (CNS photo/Jose Aguirre, Walk for Life West Coast)

The Marist survey of 2,729 adults was conducted in December and sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. It contains breakdowns by political affiliations and ethnicity but not religious beliefs, so there was no information on how many respondents were Catholics.

Fifty-two percent of the respondents indicated that they thought of themselves as “pro-choice,” while 42 percent self-identified as pro-life. But when the questions became more detailed on abortion policies, the numbers shifted.

Across political and ethnic lines, overwhelming majorities of respondents indicated they would like “significant restrictions.” That included 91 percent of those who called themselves supporters of President Donald J. Trump, and 55 percent of those who identified themselves as Hillary Clinton supporters. The poll further showed that 79 percent of both African-American and Latino respondents favored significant restrictions.

Further, 74 percent said they wanted the Supreme Court to rule on these restrictions, indicating support for overturning the court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized abortion virtually on demand.

Eighty-three percent said abortion should be allowed only to save the life of the mother, while 77 percent said it should not be permitted under any circumstance.

In line with Trump’s new executive order reinstating what’s called the Mexico City Policy, which bans tax dollars from funding groups that promote or perform abortion overseas, 83 percent opposed that use of tax money in other countries, and 62 percent opposed the use of tax money generally.

Fully half the respondents thought abortion “has a negative, long-term impact on a woman’s life,” while 19 percent were unsure.

Fifty-nine percent believe that abortion limits were either “important” or an immediate priority, and the same percentage agreed when asked if they thought abortion was morally wrong.

The same level of support was expressed for an abortion ban after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and 60 percent believed that medical professionals with moral objections should not be legally required to provide abortion services.

The 44th annual March for Life, which draws thousands to Washington to commemorate the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe decision, will be held Jan. 27.

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Presidential nominees spar over abortion issue as final debate opens

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Catholic News Service

 

WASHINGTON (CNS) — In the final presidential debate Oct. 19, Republican Donald Trump used his most explicit language to date to denounce late-term abortions.

Trump made those remarks after Democrat Hillary Clinton, answering the first question from moderator Chris Wallace, restated her support of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion virtually on demand, and she pledged continued support for Planned Parenthood. Read more »

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Candidates’ faith draws attention at vice presidential debate

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — In opening remarks during the vice presidential candidates’ debate Oct. 4, each candidate alluded to faith, but they didn’t return to how their beliefs influenced their political views until the last 10 minutes of the night. Read more »

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Abortion is not the answer for the Zika virus, archbishop says

February 18th, 2016 Posted in Senior / Health Tags: , , ,

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Catholic News Service

 

SAO PAULO — The president of the Brazilian bishops’ conference criticized a proposal by the U.N. Human Rights Commission that countries allow abortion in cases in which the mother was infected with the Zika virus.

“Abortion is not the answer for the Zika virus,” Archbishop Sergio da Rocha of Brasilia told reporters during a Feb. 10 news conference to announce the bishops’ Lenten Fraternity Campaign. “We need to value life in any situation or condition. Less quality of life does not mean less rights to live or less human dignity.” Read more »

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Priests in the U.S. previously granted authority to absolve sin of abortion

September 3rd, 2015 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

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Catholic News Service

 

Pope Francis’ Sept. 1 announcement that priests worldwide will be able to absolve women for the sin of abortion will have little effect on pastoral practices in the United States and Canada, where most priests already have such authority in the sacrament of reconciliation.

“It is my understanding that the faculty for the priest to lift the ‘latae sententiae’ excommunication for abortion is almost universally granted in North America,” said Don Clemmer, interim director of media relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Read more »

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Women further victimized by harvesting of fetal parts, says counselor

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Catholic News Service

ST. LOUIS  — Women who have an abortion are being further victimized when given the option to donate their child’s body parts for research, according to Sue Harvath, who has counseled post-abortive women in the St. Louis area for more than 30 years.

Harvath said it shouldn’t matter whether Planned Parenthood is making money from the sale of fetal body parts, as alleged in a series of undercover videos, because even the act of obtaining the body parts is manipulative and flat wrong. Read more »

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