Every child ‘a precious gift from God,’ Trump tells pro-life rally

Pro-life advocates watch U.S. President Donald Trump during a live broadcast to the annual March for Life rally in Washington Jan. 19. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

By Julie Asher 
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — In remarks broadcast to the March for Life from the White House Rose Garden, President Donald Trump said that his administration “will always defend the very first right in the Declaration of Independence, and that is the right to life.”

He invoked the theme of this year’s march, “Love Saves Lives,” and praised the crowd as being very special and “such great citizens gathered in our nation’s capital from many places for one beautiful cause” — celebrating and cherishing life.

“Every unborn child is a precious gift from God,” he said, his remarks interrupted several times by applause from the crowd gathered on the National Mall. He praised the pro-lifers for having “such big hearts and tireless devotion to make sure parents have the support they need to choose life.”

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Posted in U.S.

Sunday Scripture readings, Jan. 21, 2018: Could this really happen?

The Catholic News Service column

The Catholic News Service column “Speak to Me Lord” offers reflections on the Sunday Scripture readings. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

Jan. 21, Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

     Cycle B
     1) Jon 3:1-5, 10
     Psalm 25:4-5, 6-9
     2) 1 Cor 7:29-31
     Gospel: Mk 1:14-20

Today’s readings seem a bit implausible.

In the first, a prophet named Jonah goes to a city called Nineveh — capital of a ruthless empire — makes a brief announcement of God’s judgment, and just like that, everybody repents of their sins.

The ruins of Nineveh are at modern Mosul in Iraq, a city that the Islamic State terrorist group controlled until recently. Could you imagine some guy in a village being told by God to go to Mosul in, say, 2016, preaching God’s justice on a downtown street — and every jihadi just laying down his weapons and walking away? Continue reading

Posted in "Speak to Me Lord", CNS columns

Pope Francis calls for church with ‘Amazonian and indigenous’ face

Members of an indigenous group from the Amazon region listen during a meeting with Pope Francis during a Jan. 19 meeting at Madre de Dios stadium in Puerto Maldonado, Peru. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

By Barbara J. Fraser
Catholic News Service

PUERTO MALDONADO, Peru (CNS) — Pope Francis called on indigenous people of the Amazon to work with missionaries and bishops to shape a church with an “Amazonian and indigenous” face.

The pope pledged the church’s “whole-hearted option for the defense of life, the defense of the earth and the defense of cultures” and called his audience to work together toward the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon, which he has called for 2019.

“The native Amazonian peoples have probably never been so threatened on their own lands as they are at present,” Pope Francis said. “Amazonia is not only a reserve of biodiversity, but also a cultural reserve that must be preserved in the face of the new forms of colonialism.”

He also called for a change in the consumer culture that extracts resources from the Amazon without regard for the people who live there, and he had harsh words for officials who consider indigenous people an obstacle to development.

“Your lives cry out against a style of life that is oblivious to its own real cost,” the pope told the audience of some 2,500 indigenous people from Peru, Brazil and Bolivia.

Upon his arrival in this Amazonian town, the pope was welcomed by children who chanted, “Pope Francis is Amazonian now.” Once in Madre de Dios stadium, dancers in feathered headdresses accompanied him as he greeted the crowd.

Members of various indigenous peoples presented the pope with gifts that reflected their culture, including a basket, painting, book and woven stole. The pope left the stadium wearing a feathered headdress and strings of beads typically worn by community chiefs, presented to him by Santiago Manuin Valera, an Awajun leader from northern Peru.

The pope said he had come to listen to the people of this Amazonian region, which is rich in natural resources and indigenous cultures but increasingly devastated by illegal mining, deforestation and social problems.

A Harakbut woman and man and an Awajun woman described the threats their peoples face from outsiders who take timber and other resources from their lands, as well as their fear that their cultures could disappear and their efforts to keep those cultures alive

The pope echoed their concerns, listing oil and gas, mining, logging, industrial agriculture and even conservation programs as activities that do not take indigenous peoples into account, but “strangle” them and force young people to migrate because of a lack of alternatives.

“We have to break with the historical paradigm that views Amazonia as an inexhaustible source of supplies for other countries without concern for its inhabitants,” he said.

On his journey to the Amazon, the pope flew over an area where illegal gold mining has carved huge, cratered, polluted scars visible from outer space. He noted that the mining has been accompanied by the trafficking of people for sex and labor.

The day before his visit, in a meeting with Amazonian bishops, representatives of various indigenous delegations said they hoped the pope would urge governments to respect their rights, especially by demarcating their territories and respecting laws requiring officials to consult indigenous communities about development projects that would affect them.

Without mentioning titling or prior consent laws directly, the pope called for “institutional expressions” of respect and dialogue with native peoples.

“Recognition and dialogue will be the best way to transform relationships whose history is marked by exclusion and discrimination,” he said.

Pope Francis greets members of an indigenous group from the Amazon region during a Jan. 19 meeting at Madre de Dios stadium in Puerto Maldonado, Peru. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The pope praised the church’s work among native peoples in the Amazon, although he acknowledged errors. In many parts of the Amazon, missionaries started the first schools for indigenous children.

While noting that education and building schools is the government’s job, Pope Francis urged the Amazonian bishops to continue to encourage intercultural and bilingual education in schools, universities and teacher training programs.

Echoing the Harakbut speakers who had greeted him, he emphasized that education for native people must “build bridges and create a culture of encounter,” in a way that “respects and integrates their ancestral wisdom as a treasure belonging to the whole nation.”

The pope praised young indigenous people who are “working to reinterpret the history of their peoples from their own perspective,” as well as those who “show the world your worldview and your cultural richness” through art, music, crafts and literature.

“Much has been written and spoken about you,” he said. “It is good that you are now the ones to define yourselves and show us your identity. We need to listen to you.”

The pope urged his listeners, many of whom are pastoral agents in remote rural communities and poor urban areas, not to let their people’s Catholic faith be uprooted. Each culture “enriches the church by showing a new aspect of Christ’s face,” he said.

Pope Francis encouraged them to draw on the wisdom of their peoples, especially elders, to counter the pressures they face and to dialogue with missionaries and bishops.

“We need the native peoples to shape the culture of the local churches in Amazonia,” he said.

– – –

Follow Fraser on Twitter: @Barbara_Fraser.

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Posted in World

Cardinal invokes Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in march vigil homily

Young people hold hands as they pray the Lord’s Prayer during the opening Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington Jan. 18. The all-night vigil is held before the annual March for Life, which this year marked the 45th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion across the nation. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

By Mark Pattison 
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan invoked the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during a homily at the Jan. 18 Mass that opened the National Prayer Vigil for Life.

Like “Pastor King,” as Cardinal Dolan referred to him throughout his homily, “our belief in the dignity of the human person and the sacredness of all human life propels us to concern for human life wherever, whenever, and however it is threatened, from racial antagonism to justice for immigrants, from the war-torn to the hungry,” the prelate said.

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Posted in U.S.

Head of March for Life calls abortion ‘social justice cause of our time’

By Catholic News Service

Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, is pictured in a 2012 photo. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

NEW YORK (CNS) — Charlie Camosy, associate professor in the theology department at Jesuit-run Fordham University, spoke to Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, in advance of this year’s annual march in Washington Jan. 19.

She talked about changes in the event and the crowd she has seen over the years, the efforts to unify pro-lifers on a variety of life issues and her own pro-life views.

For her, abortion is “the single most significant social justice cause of our time.”

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Posted in U.S.

Pope marries couple on flight during Chilean trip

Latam Airlines employees Carlos Ciuffardi Elorriaga, 41, and Paula Podest Ruiz, 39, kiss after being married by Pope Francis aboard his flight from Santiago, Chile, to Lima, Peru, Jan. 18. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)


By Junno Arocho Esteves 
Catholic News Service

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT TO IQUIQUE, Chile (CNS) — Love was literally in the air as Pope Francis performed an impromptu wedding ceremony at 36,000 feet aboard his flight in Chile.

During his flight to Iquique Jan. 18, the pope was approached by LatAm flight steward Carlos Ciuffardi Elorriaga and asked for a blessing for him and his wife, stewardess Paula Podest Ruiz.

The couple were supposed to be married in their home parish in Santiago Feb. 27, 2010. However, tragedy struck when an earthquake destroyed the church. Eight years later, they remained only civilly married.

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Posted in Vatican, World

March lauded for witnessing to life; participation in ‘9 Days’ urged

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, is pictured in 2015 at the Vatican. In a message of support for the March for Life in Washington, Archbishop Paglia praised “the tens of thousands” of participants for their witness to the “value of every human life” and for upholding the dignity of life from conception to natural death. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

By Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — In a message of support for the March for Life in Washington, a Vatican official praised “the tens of thousands” of participants for their witness to the “value of every human life” and for upholding the dignity of life from conception to natural death.

“You give witness to the world of your understanding of the value of every human life and of your commitment to welcome, nurture, protect and integrate every human life from the first moment of conception until natural death,” said Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

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Posted in U.S., Vatican