Exclusive photos: Witness the breathtaking Mass of the Americas in Washington, DC

The first-ever performance of the new musical setting adapted for Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

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As the sun cast its first rays on the Capitol dome, thousands of faithful descended on the unofficial parish church of the United States’ capital, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, just outside the gates of the corridors of power, to raise their hearts to Christ in a prayer for the nation and a return to the sacred.At a time when our great nation suffers an identity crisis beyond measure, devolving it to a nation divided against itself, and the Church in America is suffering in tandem a period marked by scandal and loss of the sense of the sacred, the Mass of the Americas plants its flag on the frontline in the nation’s capital as a beacon of hope and a call to a return to a deep sense of the sacred through beauty.

The Solemn Pontifical High Mass honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary under her titles of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception (the Patroness of Mexico and all of the Americas, and the Patroness of the United States) was celebrated in Latin by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco. The Mass celebrated in the Extraordinary Form immediately recalled a sense of the sacred through its very rich and complex symbolism, each implement and motion having profound meaning. But what really raised this Mass to new heights was the music.

Under the patronage of Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship, composer Frank LaRocca’s  new composition, “Mass of the Americas,” debuted in its first-ever performance as an integral part of the Extraordinary Form liturgy, having been adapted from the original which is intended for use in the Ordinary Form. The work was performed by the Benedict XVI Choir and conducted by Richard Sparks.

This truly breathtaking confluence of the highest form of prayer and high art transcends consciousness and enables one to be raised to a place of unfathomable contemplation of Christ and His True Presence in the Eucharist.

In his homily, Archbishop Cordileone echoed the words of Servant of God Dorothy Day, “The absence of beauty and the prevalence of the ugly eventually corrupts a soul leading to spiritual misery,” he said. “Goodness feeds the body, truth feeds the mind, and beauty feeds the soul … perhaps it is the absence of beauty which most lacking in the world today, which explains the spiritual malaise in which we find ourselves.”

Beauty indeed is a powerful means of attracting a soul to Christ, and perhaps this new initiative, and others to follow, will touch and inspire a generation to have a renewed sense of awe, the same awe that is evoked when one brushes against the Divine.

The Mass will be touring the country with stops in San Francisco, Houston, Dallas and Tijuana. To learn more, visit the Benedict XVI Institute website MassOfTheAmericas.com.

Source: aleteia.org

Amazing Image of Unborn Baby at 18 Weeks is Called the Photograph of the Century


MICAIAH BILGER   NOV 18, 2019   |   3:54PM    WASHINGTON, DC

The image of an 18-week unborn baby from Life magazine’s stunning 1965 photo-spread is being hailed as the photograph of the century.

The description comes as a surprise from The Guardian, a left-wing British publication that supports abortion on demand. Its article celebrating the photograph tried to make excuses for abortion even as the images openly displayed the inherent humanity of babies in the womb.

The celebrated photograph was taken by Swedish photojournalist Lennart Nilsson and published in the April 1965 edition of Life under the title “Drama of Life Before Birth.” That issue became the “fastest-selling copy” of the magazine in the history of its publication, according to the report.

“In full colour and crystal clear detail, the picture showed a foetus in its amniotic sac, with its umbilical cord winding off to the placenta. The unborn child, floating in a seemingly cosmic backdrop, appears vulnerable yet serene. Its eyes are closed and its tiny, perfectly formed fists are clutched to its chest,” the report described.

The photo is one of several showing unborn babies in the famous magazine layout. They were published at a time when the abortion debate was beginning to boil and ultrasound technology was still extremely limited.

Most of the babies who Nilsson photographed had been miscarried or aborted. According to the report: “Nilsson was only able to photograph one living foetus, though, using an endoscopic camera that travelled into a womb. This picture was included in Life and is distinct from the others – being taken inside the uterus means it can’t capture the foetus in its entirety.”

His photos captured the humanity of unborn babies in amazing detail, in both black and white and color. Another photo of a 20-week unborn baby shows vivid details of the baby’s face, including the tiny veins in his/her eyelids and feathery hair growing across the forehead. Another photo of a 13-week unborn baby shows the amniotic sac and placenta surrounding a tiny baby with already distinguishable fingers and toes, eyes, ears and ribs.

The celebrated photographer died in 2017 at age 94. According to the report, he began limiting the use of his photos after seeing one of his images on a pro-life poster in the 1980s because he did not want them to be political.

Recently, however, the Paris Photo art fair began displaying Nilsson’s famous photos again, and other venues in Europe may follow, according to the report.

“The images caused a stir in Paris and it’s easy to see why: their quiet beauty has a powerful emotional pull,” the report described.

Though The Guardian still tried to justify abortion, its commentary seemed so hypocritical when juxtaposed with the photos of babies in the womb. Nilsson may not have wanted his photos to be political, but they became so because of the abortion industry’s attempts to deny the humanity of the unborn. His photos left an immense legacy because they show the powerful truth: Unborn babies are unique, living, valuable human beings, and the pro-life movement is on the side of science and truth.

Source: lifenews.com

China’s religion chiefs to double down on bringing doctrine in line with socialist dogma

  • Reinterpretation of texts the latest effort in four-year old push to establish ‘theology with Chinese characteristics’

China is seeking to develop “theology with Chinese characteristics” and make religion more compatible with socialism. Photo: Reuters

China is seeking to develop “theology with Chinese characteristics” and make religion more compatible with socialism. Photo: Reuters

China’s religious leaders met in Beijing on Tuesday to work on ways to reinterpret religious doctrine to bring it in line with socialism, as the ruling Communist Party presses on with its campaign to



The meeting, convened by Wang Yang, the country’s top official overseeing religious affairs, focused on how to ensure that religious dogma “meets the requirements of the progressing times” and fits “core socialist values”, according to state news agency Xinhua.

Wang, who is also a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, the party’s inner circle of power, said the goal was to develop “theology with Chinese characteristics” and make religion more compatible with socialism, the report said.

The meeting comes after the party’s powerful Central Committee met last month to map out China’s policy directions for the coming years.

It also comes four years after President Xi Jinping launched the “sinicisation” campaign to bring religions into line with Chinese culture and the party’s absolute authority.

But the ultimate goal, in Xi’s own words, was to keep believers away from “Western ideology” and “religious extremism”.

Pastor stabbed to death in Diyarbakir

26 Nov 2019

A church leader from South Korea was stabbed to death on Friday 22 November 2019 in Southeast Turkey. Pastor Jinwook Kim had been living in Turkey for the last 5 years, and moved to Diyarbakir city last year, where he led a small congregation.

A 16-year-old male has been arrested in connection with Pastor Kim’s murder. The motive for the killing is thought to have been robbery, as the pastor’s telephone was missing.  However, several local sources have suggested he was targeted because of his faith. Pastor Kim’s pregnant wife is due to give birth in the next few days; they also have a 4-year-old son.

The situation for Turkey’s small Christian community has become increasingly precarious, particularly following the foiled coup of 2016. Recent years have seen an increase in animosity, hate speech and anti-Christian sentiments. In October 2019 billboards encouraging Muslims not to befriend Jews and Christians were erected in the conservative city of Konya, sparking outrage and condemnation by rights groups both inside and outside Turkey.

For several in the Christian community the murder of Pastor Kim is uncomfortably reminiscent of the 2007 torture murders of three Christians at the Zirve publishing house in the city of Malatya by five young men, who were apprehended as they fled the scene of the crime. All five eventually received three aggravated life sentences each for premeditated murder in 2016.

CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “We extend our heartfelt condolences to the family, congregation and loved ones of Pastor Kim. We urge the Turkish government to fully investigate this murder, and hold those found to have been involved in it accountable. The government must also crack down on hate speech targeting Christians and other religious minorities, as it facilitates an atmosphere in which these communities are at increased risk. We call on the international community to press the Turkish government to end all forms of discrimination against religious minorities, and respect its constitutional obligations to protect and respect the rights of all citizens regardless of their religious affiliation or ethnic background.”

Source: csw.org.uk

Activists Attack Key Religious Freedom Precedent To Control What Parents Teach Kids

Overturning Wisconsin v. Yoder would have ramifications far beyond Amish schoolhouses, opening the door to increased regulation and government oversight of homeschooling and religious schools’ curricula.
Jeff DitzlerBy

The Amish might be the most quiescent religious group in America. They don’t proselytize, they don’t lobby or run for office, and most don’t even vote. Yet a little-known, almost 50-year-old Supreme Court decision involving them could be the next front in the battle for religious liberty.

In 1972, the Supreme Court handed down the decision Wisconsin v. Yoder, holding that the Amish community’s right to the free exercise of religion — specifically, eschewing formal education past eighth grade — trumped state laws mandating school attendance.

Enter Torah Bontrager. She left an Amish community in Iowa at age 15, later earned an Ivy League degree, and established the Amish Heritage Foundation to alter Amish communities. To her, this starts with overturning Yoder, the focus of a conference the foundation held last week at Bontrager’s alma mater, Columbia University. The foundation has planned a 30-state media tour but has not yet set its dates.

This movement is not limited to the Amish or even Christianity. Speakers at the conference decried a lack of preparation for the secular world in Islamic and Jewish schools, and the foundation has ties to the “ex-vangelical” movement. The biggest news from the conference was that the foundation has found three plaintiffs to sue to overturn Yoder. It didn’t give any names, but it described one as a minor who had left the Amish faith, began working in construction, and wanted to attend high school.

The State’s Interest and Power in Education

Education has traditionally been considered a state power, and the word “education” does not appear in the U.S. Constitution or any of its amendments. On what grounds, then, does the Amish Heritage Foundation claim “education [as] a federal right for all children”?

As a precedent, it cites a lawsuit filed against the state of Rhode Island by Michael Rebell, a Columbia professor, alleging that the rights to vote, speak freely, and serve on a jury imply that the government has a duty to provide adequate civic education and that by not having a civics education requirement, Rhode Island is violating students’ rights. By extension, according to the Amish Heritage Foundation, the rights of those raised in the Amish church to vote and speak freely imply that the government has a responsibility to make sure they attend high school.

The implications of imposing mainstream education requirements on the Amish would be profound. In most states, teachers are required to hold at least a bachelor’s degree, so the Amish would not be able to recruit teachers from their own ranks. They would have to rely on the local public schools or other denominations’ private schools.

Nor is civics the only aspect of secular education the Amish Heritage Foundation thinks Amish schoolchildren should be exposed to. One of the speakers at Columbia detailed horrific cases of sexual abuse within the Amish community, which the foundation linked to its cause, claiming secular sex education could prevent such abuse.

The Amish Heritage Foundation has some legitimate concerns, such as education conducted in languages (such as Yiddish or Pennsylvania German) that leaves students unprepared to deal with the English-speaking world, and a lack of instruction in subjects such as math or geography that no religion would find objectionable. The moral case for holding sexual abusers accountable should be obvious, especially to religious leaders, and by now, itshouldbeobvious that trying to cover up such abuse, or attempting to deal with it internally, doesn’t work in the long run. The movement to overturn Wisconsin v. Yoder should remind leaders in religious education that if they don’t reform themselves, others will be only too happy to impose reforms on them.

Overturning Yoder Would Have Serious Consequences

Far from being an imposition of a right-wing, traditionalist court, Wisconsin v. Yoder came near the high tide of Supreme Court liberalism. Yoder was decided in May 1972. The court imposed a national moratorium on the death penalty in Furman v. Georgia the next month and handed down the Roe v. Wade decision less than a year later. The court may have seen itself as sticking up for minority rights against overweening local government then, but a more aggressively individualistic and secular left, concerned with rooting out religion, especially Christianity, might be more open to overturning it.

So how much danger is Wisconsin v. Yoderin? Although the Amish Heritage Foundation is obscure, with fewer than 200 Twitter followers and just over 1,000 likes and followers on Facebook, Bontrager has attractedpressattention. If the case made it to the Supreme Court today, it’s likely the five conservative justices would uphold Yoder.

Among the court’s liberals, Justice Elena Kagan, who has shown a reluctance to overturn precedent, and Justice Stephen Breyer, who has been sympathetic to some religious liberty claims, might join them. In the longer term, however, if the activists can persuade public and legal opinion that Yoder is an unjustified privilege instead of a natural application of the First Amendment, a more left-wing court might someday overturn it.

Overturning Wisconsin v. Yoder would have ramifications far beyond Amish schoolhouses, opening the door to increased regulation and scrutiny of homeschooling and even government oversight of religious schools’ curricula. Overturning Yoder would make it harder for religious parents to control what ideas schools teach their children, as the explicit right to free exercise of religion becomes subordinate to a nebulous right to an “adequate education,” as defined by the government under activist influence.

Whatever you think of the Amish Heritage Foundation’s cause, it is absolutely right that the Yoder decision affects all Americans, not just the Amish.

Jeff Ditzler is a freelance writer based in Pennsylvania. You can follow him on Twitter @JeffDitzler.

‘It’s a game’: the travesty of the Daleiden case

‘This is a dangerous precedent for citizen journalism and First Amendment civil rights across the country’

Amid the twists and turns of the plethora of lawsuits against David Daleiden, the pro-life advocate who went undercover to record abortion industry executives talking about procuring fetal body parts, a one-liner sticks out.

‘So you know, it’s a game.’

The off-the-cuff remark was made by Ruth Arick, a former abortion clinic administrator turned owner of the abortion consulting firm Choice Pursuits, as she described how abortionists obtain intact fetuses for researchers who request them.

‘Some researchers are looking for whole fetuses in the earlier stages, so you over-dilate, you try to be able to extract an entire fetus through your cannula,’ Arick says in the surreptitiously recorded audio, recorded several years ago when Daleiden and his associate were posing undercover as fetal tissue procurers.

‘But then again, the over-dilation can be a risk to the woman, so you know, it’s a game,’ Arick adds.

The insouciance of the abortion industry veteran’s remarks contrasted with their jarring subject matter has the potential to scandalize the consciences of even some who generally support the right to choose. However, the judge and grand jury in the federal civil trial against Daleiden were ultimately successful in not letting lurid background information phase them and ended the case with a thud on Friday in a win for Planned Parenthood.

The audio recording was used as evidence in San Francisco’s US District Court, which saw the jury award Planned Parenthood over $2.2 million in its verdict against Daleiden under federal racketeering statutes. The lawsuit was brought by Planned Parenthood and ten of its abortion affiliates, who accused Daleiden and his pro-life organization, the Center for Medical Progress, of fraud, trespassing, and making illegal secret recordings.

‘The First Amendment is not a defense to the claims in this case for the jury to consider,’ Judge William Orrick wrote before the trial began. ‘Defendants’ argument that they were citizen journalists was admissible as context for the defendants’ case, not as a legal defense.’

After the ruling, abortion advocates rejoiced.

‘The jury recognized today that those behind the campaign broke the law in order to advance their goals of banning safe, legal abortion in this country, and to prevent Planned Parenthood from serving the patients who depend on us,’ said Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, adding that the activists spearheaded a ‘malicious campaign’ against the nation’s largest abortion provider.

On the other side, the heartbreak was almost palpable.

March for Life President Jeanne Mancini said her group was ‘saddened’ by the ‘profoundly unjust decision’ and lambasted Orrick for having a conflict of interest stemming from his ties to Planned Parenthood, which she claimed ‘greatly biased the jury’.

Orrick has received thousands of dollars from Planned Parenthood for his previous congressional campaigns.

Lila Rose, president of the pro-life group Live Action, also criticized Orrick’s ties to the plaintiff, saying he was ‘clearly incapable of seeing the true criminals here’.

‘It is a sad day when the justice system is manipulated by the rich and powerful to protect the guilty and punish the innocent,’ she lamented.

Daleiden himself did not mince words in his reaction to the legal blow, accusing Orrick of being a ‘biased judge’ who had decided the ruling before the trial began as well as suppressed video evidence instrumental to the case.

‘This is a dangerous precedent for citizen journalism and First Amendment civil rights across the country, sending a message that speaking truth and facts to criticize the powerful is no longer protected by our institutions,’ Daleiden said.

Daleiden’s lawyers plan to appeal Friday’s decision, saying their client used ‘standard investigative journalism techniques’ to investigate the ‘criminal activity’ of the nation’s largest abortion provider.

‘This is what so outraged the public. The true words of Planned Parenthood’s top abortion doctors and other personnel,’ lead counsel Peter Breen said in his closing argument. ‘They wanted to protect the brand. But what is it that hurt the brand? The very words spoken by Planned Parenthood personnel on those videos is what hurt the brand.’

Chief Counsel Tom Brejcha added that the verdict has also sunk its teeth into the ‘sacred tenet of freedom of the press’.

‘Planned Parenthood decided that it was above the law. Planned Parenthood was wrong,’ Brejcha stated.

Daleiden’s challenges are far from over. A separate California state criminal trial over the same undercover videos is ongoing in the Superior Court of California County of San Francisco, presided over by Judge Christopher Hite.

The prosecutor in that case is California attorney general Xavier Becerra, who took over the case from current Democratic 2020 candidate Kamala Harris. Both have wholeheartedly supported Planned Parenthood and received perks and laurels from the mammoth abortion provider for their trouble.

Perhaps the most telling moment of all the lawsuits occurred in that case, when longtime California abortionist Dr Forrest Smith testified, shockingly, on behalf of Daleiden, saying that even he cannot support Planned Parenthood’s reckless modus operandi when it comes to procuring fetal body parts.

‘There’s no question in my mind that at least some of these fetuses were live births,’ Smith told the court when asked whether the controversial, more aggressive abortion procedure Planned Parenthood executives describe in one of the undercover videos could result in the delivery of a live infant. ‘Very few people in abortion, outside of Planned Parenthood, do that.’

In other words, beyond the legal weeds and the rhetoric coming out of both sides, the grisly considerations backdropping these lawsuits extend far beyond a simple abortion debate to practices that managed to raise the eyebrow of even the most seasoned abortionist.

Source: spectator.us

Chilean churches looted during protests

A protester carries a statue of Christ from La Asuncion church to be added to a barricade in Santiago, Chile, Nov 8, 2019. Credit: Esteban Felix/AP/Shutterstock. Not licensed for redistribution.
A protester carries a statue of Christ from La Asuncion church to be added to a barricade in Santiago, Chile, Nov 8, 2019. Credit: Esteban Felix/AP/Shutterstock. Not licensed for redistribution.

.- Several churches across Chile have been attacked and looted amid anti-government protests in the country.

The demonstrations began in mid-October in Santiago over a now-suspended increase in subway fares.
Other regions joined in the protests, expanding their grievances to inequality and the cost of healthcare.

Protesters broke into Santiago’s La Asuncion parish Nov. 8, hauling out pews, confessionals, and statues – which they defaced – to build a barricade. They set the barricade on fire before clashing with police, and sprayed anti-Catholic graffiti on the walls, pillars, and altar of the church.

The next day, the Chilean bishops said that “with many Chileans we are radically opposed to injustice and to violence, we condemn them in all their forms and we hope that the tribunals will identify those responsible and sanction them.”

“The violent protesters only prevent us from looking with due attention to the just claims of the majority of the Chilean people who yearn for real and peaceful solutions … the people are not only tired of injustice, of also of violence, and the great majority hope for dialogue with respect to the reconstruction of the social fabric.”

On Nov. 10, attackers in Talca forced open the doors of the Mary Help of Christians shrine, where they destroyed religious  images and then carried them into the streets along with the church’s pews to set them on fire and erect barricades. Before the Carabineros de Chile arrived at the scene, the attackers desecrated the tabernacle.

At a Nov. 12 press conference, Fr. Pedro Pablo Cuello, director of the Salesian presence in Talca, said that “Chile needs to grow, needs to be reconciled, with peace, with justice and equity … This is a desecration of the very face of Jesus.”

Bishop Galo Fernández Villaseca, auxiliary bishop of Santiago and apostolic administrator of Talca, said he was “impacted and moved by the violence one is experiencing which is intensifying  in the country and among us. These are not just material damages, it’s an attitude of discord and which attacks the deepest sentiments of a person, our religious sentiments. The desecration of the Blessed Sacrament hurts us deeply.”

“It hurts me that the soul of Chile is wounded, is incapable of dialogue, that the soul of Chile claiming legitimate things that we share to a great extent, is walking down a path that is counterproductive,” Bishop  Fernández said.

He encouraged the practice of “peace, dialogue, to value what is true in the different person and to walk down a path that means progress for all women and men in Chile.”

The Salesian community in turn asked that Chileans “seek peace and the ways of understanding and dialogue … convinced that the great challenge of every society is to achieve a good integration in which all people have a decent life, especially the elderly and children.”

“It’s a matter of respecting one another, of working together. We all want to build a new Chile, a Chile truly just and solidary and we will continue working according to our responsibilities as priests and as a Salesian School,” they said.

Bishop Fernández said a Mass of reparation in the church Nov. 12.

Also on Nov. 10, a mob attacked Our Lady of the Angels parish in Viña del Mar, immediately northeast of Valparaiso.

The attackers pulled out statues of Saint Expeditus and Saint Teresa of the Andes from their glass enclosures and destroyed them. They also destroyed some stained glass windows and other windows, sprayed graffiti, and tried to enter the church.

“This violent action hurts us deeply since the Shrine of Saint Expeditus has always been a refuge for those who suffer and need a place of peace and hope. Not only has a sacred image been broken, but also the home has been violated that welcomes thousands of pilgrims who with faith give over their yearnings and hopes,” the parish said.

Along with expressing their support for the legitimate demands of society, the parish condemned the vandalism and violence and said it is “time for a true constructive dialogue and to seek paths of unity for all of us who live in this land.”

In recent days, the Cathedral of St. James in Valparaiso and Saint Teresa of the Andes parish in Punta Arenas have also been attacked.

More than 20 people have been killed in the protests. Many of the protests are peaceful, but some have included looting and arson, and attacks on public and private property, national heritage buildings, and churches. More than 7,000 demonstrators have been arrested.

President Sebastian Pinera replaced several cabinet ministers last month, but it did not sate the protesters.

Source: catholicnewsagency.com

Statement of 11 nations opposes ‘reproductive rights’ focus of Nairobi Summit

Kenya's pro family activists deliver over 68,000 signatures to the President of Kenya to remove support for the ICPD25 in Nairobi, Nov. 11, 2019. Credit: Simon Maina/AFP via Getty Images.
Kenya’s pro family activists deliver over 68,000 signatures to the President of Kenya to remove support for the ICPD25 in Nairobi, Nov. 11, 2019. Credit: Simon Maina/AFP via Getty Images.

.- On the sidelines of the Nairobi Summit, the US and 10 other nations delivered a joint statement Thursday indicating their commitment to women’s health, and their concern over the summit’s process and content.

The statement echoes concerns that the international gathering is too focused on “reproductive rights”.

“We are … concerned about the content of some of the key priorities of this Summit,” read the Nov. 14 joint statement from the US, Brazil, Belarus, Egypt, Haiti, Hungary, Libya, Poland, Senegal, St. Lucia, and Uganda.

“We do not support references in international documents to ambiguous terms and expressions, such as sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), which do not enjoy international consensus … In addition, the use of the term SRHR may be used to actively promote practices like abortion.”

The Nov. 12-14 Nairobi Summit is sponsored by the UN Population Fund and the governments of Kenya and Denmark, and it marks the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development, which was held in Cairo.

Its program includes five themes, among which are “Universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights as a part of universal health coverage” and “Upholding the right to sexual and reproductive health care even in humanitarian and fragile contexts.”

The 11 nations opposed to the summit’s abortion focus recalled that the 1994 Cairo Conference “had as its stated objectives and actions to collectively address the critical challenges and interrelationships between population and sustained economic growth in the context of sustainable development.”

In the past 25 years “many countries have made substantial progress in reducing death rates and increasing education and income levels, including by improving the educational and economic status of women. It is noteworthy that, as opposed to the population growth predictions included in the ICPD Program of Action, these predictions have not come to pass,” the joint statement noted.

“Indeed, in most regions of the world today, fertility is below population replacement rates. As a result, family planning should focus both on the voluntary achievement of pregnancy as well as the prevention of unwanted pregnancy.”

The 11 countries affirmed the “key foundational principles” of the Cairo Conference, saying, “We strongly support the holistic pursuit of the highest attainable outcomes of health, life, dignity, and well-being … this includes but is not limited to: reproductive concerns; maternal health; primary health care; voluntary and informed family planning; family strengthening; equal educational and economic opportunities for women and men.”

“We wish to emphasize that the agreement reached at Cairo remains a solid foundation for addressing new challenges within a consensus-driven process that gives each government equal opportunity to negotiate a broadly accepted document within the UN, reaffirming that health is a precondition for and an outcome and indicator of the realization of ICPD,” read the joint statement.

The nations said the Cairo Conference’s action program was “approved by consensus” because, in part, it “made clear that the conference did not create any new international human rights.”

The joint statement noted, “There is no international right to abortion; in fact, international law clearly states that ‘[e]veryone has the right to life’” and that the Cairo Conference said “that countries should ‘take appropriate steps to help women avoid abortion, which in no case should be promoted as a method of family planning’ (ICPD 7.24) and to ‘reduce the recourse to abortion’.”

The 11 countries added that they “cannot support a sex education that fails to adequately engage parents and which promotes abortion as a method of family planning.”

They indicated that “we would have appreciated more transparency and inclusiveness in the preparation of the Conference, including regarding criteria for civil society participation. While the Cairo ICPD Program of Action was negotiated and implemented with and by the entire UN General Assembly membership, only a small handful of governments were consulted on the planning and modalities of the 2019 Nairobi Summit. Therefore, outcomes from this summit are not intergovernmentally negotiated, nor are they the result of a consensus process. As a result, they should not be considered normative.”

The countries said the Nairobi Summit “is centered on only certain aspects of the ICPD Program of Action and does not fully reflect all views and positions of the Member States … unless negotiated and adopted by consensus of all Member States, within the process and structure of an international body such as the UN General Assembly, no ICPD follow-on document has consensual weight or standing amongst governments.”

“We call upon Member States to maintain the original and legitimate 1994 ICPD principles … that explicitly retain important government statements and reservations that permitted consensus, to reiterate their reservations to the ICPD Program of Action as reflected in the conference’s report, and to focus our efforts, resources, and determination to fulfill the unfinished work of attaining sustainable development for every nation so as to promote the dignity of the human person and human flourishing.”

The objections of the 11 countries represented by the joint statement echoed concerns from the Holy See and from bishops in Kenya.

The Holy See is not partipating in the summit, saying that the organizers chose “to focus the conference on a few controversial and divisive issues that do not enjoy international consensus and that do not reflect accurately the broader population and development agenda outlined by the ICPD.”

“The ICPD and its encompassing Programme of Action within the international community’s broad development agenda should not be reduced to so-called ‘sexual and reproductive health and rights’ and ‘comprehensive sexuality education,’”, the Holy See stated.

Bishop Alfred Rotich, Bishop Emeritus of the Military Ordinariate of Kenya and chair of the Kenyan bishops’ family life office, told ACI Africa: “We find such a conference not good for us, (and) destroying the agenda for life.”

Archbishop Martin Kivuva of Mombasa described the summit’s agenda as “unacceptable according to our teaching of the Catholic Church.”

The US delivered a commitment statement at the summit Nov. 13, saying it is committed “to empowering women and girls to thrive, but this statement is only intended for the purposes of this reading and is not to be used as an endorsement of the commitments of this summit.”

The commitment statement added that the US “has been, and will be a prime advocate and will continue to invest in programs which empower women and girls to realize their full potential, reinforce their inherent dignity, promote and advance their equality, protect their inalienable rights, and support optimal health outcomes across their lifespans. Families, positive male figures, (including caring fathers), communities, and civil society, (including faith based organizations), play an important role in supporting women and girls to thrive.”

Dr. Frederick Wamalma, regional president of Pax Romana International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs, told ACI Africa that the desire of many participants in the Nairobi Summit to have a decreasing rate of population growth in Africa is a fallacy.

“Africa needs to focus on population growth because we need to grow the population of working people, which is very important for us,” he said.

“If you go to some of the European countries, they don’t have the working age population. So, they have this larger population of old people who are no longer working. We don’t want to be caught up with what we’re seeing there,” Wamalma stated.

He added: “From a developing country point of view, population shouldn’t be a problem. What we need to be stressed with is being able to give these young people who are coming, joining the labour market the right skills to be able to be productive in the labour market.”

Wamalma stressed that African countries need clear “policies around education, policies around health, policies around labour market, policies around social protection.”

Rep. Chris Smith, a congressman from New Jersey, wrote in a Nov. 11 opinion piece at the Wall Street Journal that through the Nairobi Summit, “the governments of Kenya and Denmark and the United Nations Population Fund are attempting to hijack the U.N.’s global population and development work to support an extreme pro-abortion agenda.”

Smith, who attended the Cairo Conference, said the “conveners of the Nairobi Summit have blocked attendance by conservative organizations and excluded countries and stakeholders that disagree with their agenda from offering input on the substance and planning of the conference,” including the US.

He lamented that “key elements of the Cairo program are missing from the Nairobi Summit agenda,” noting that the ICPD recognized sex-selective abortion as a harmful practice.

“The Nairobi Summit isn’t a true reflection of ICPD but a gathering of like-minded individuals and organizations departing from the Cairo consensus as they promote a pro-abortion agenda while attempting to exploit Cairo’s name and reputation,” the congressman concluded.

To counter the agenda of the Nairobi Summit, the Kenya Christian Professionals Forum, with the backing of Kenya’s bishops, has organized a parallel convention to be held Nov. 11-14.
Magdalene Kahiu contributed to this report.

Source: catholicnewsagency.com

‘My Life Was a Miracle’: The Journey of an Abortion Survivor

“I knew that I couldn’t stand for what abortion does. And so, I chose to take a stance and to speak out,” abortion survivor Claire Culwell says. (Photo: Getty Images)

When she was 21 years old, Claire Culwell found out a huge secret about her past: her biological mom had tried to have an abortion when she was pregnant with Claire and her twin. While Claire’s twin didn’t survive, Claire did—and that revelation changed her life. “I knew that I couldn’t stand for what abortion does. And so, I chose to take a stance and to speak out,” she says. Listen to her interview on the podcast, or read the lightly edited transcript of our conversation, pasted below.

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Katrina Trinko: OK. So, we’re at the Values Voter Summit with Claire Culwell. Claire, thanks for joining us.

Claire Culwell: Thanks for having me.

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Trinko: OK, so, first off, you are an abortion survivor. Tell me about that.

Culwell: I met my birth mother in 2009; so, 10 years ago, and I had a gift for her, and I ended up thanking her for choosing life for me and giving me my family. And that was the moment she broke down into tears and shared with me about being pregnant at 13 years old.

She was in eighth grade, and she said she found herself pregnant, approached her mother. Her mother took her to an abortion clinic, and she had a dismemberment, a D&E abortion at 20 weeks, around 20 weeks.

And that they told her that her life would go back to normal. All the similar things that they tell women that have abortions today, but she said that her life never went back to normal.

In fact, a few weeks later she went back, because she said things didn’t seem right, and that’s when they told her that she had actually been pregnant with twins, and that they had successfully aborted one baby, but that I had survived.

And so, I was born at 30 weeks. I had a dislocated hip and club feet from being a twin. I was in a body cast for a little while to correct those things.

But when she shared this with me, obviously, I never imagined I would find something like that out. I thought the worst thing that will happen will be, she won’t want to meet me. But instead I found out that I had survived something that was meant to take my life.

And so, I knew that my life was a miracle, there was a reason that I was here, and I could either forgive my birth mother and share this story to show the humanity of the baby and offer hope and a message of forgiveness to women that have had abortions, or I could be angry and upset. And so, I chose to forgive my birth mother and share my story.

Trinko: So you had no idea before you met her that you had survived an abortion?

Culwell: No, I was 21 when I found out.

Trinko: Wow! So, how did

Culwell: I was adopted. So, I was placed for adoption, and since my birth mother was 13, and because they were [closed] adoptions back then, the majority of adoptions were, we didn’t know anything about my birth mother until we met her.

Trinko: How did you feel when you first found that out?

Culwell: When I first learned that I had survived my birth mother’s abortion, I remember not feeling sadness for myself, but looking into my birth mother’s eyes and seeing this deep pain that I somewhat identified with.

I mean, I had had hard things happen in my life, but I had never, I knew just from looking into her eyes that I had never experienced that level of pain, that deep pain that she had experienced, and so I knew that I couldn’t keep it to myself.

Trinko: And was it strange to realize that you had originally had a twin?

Culwell: I think that it kind of fit some of the pieces of the puzzle together for my life for me. I remember growing up and wanting a brother; specifically, a brother. I had a sister through adoption, but I felt like something was missing. And so, I do think that that was my natural instinct, because I lived five months in the womb with my twin, and so I knew him or her.

And so yeah, it is crazy. It’s surreal to think that I am literally missing probably my other half, you know? But it gives me reason to fight and to speak out in truth, because I imagine what our lives would have been like if my twin had been here, and it would’ve been very different for us.

Trinko: So, before you found this out, and you mentioned you were just 21, did you consider yourself pro-life? Did you have a view on abortion before this?

Culwell: I am adopted, and so, I think I would have told you back then that adoption was always a better option than abortion, but did I ever use that terminology like I’m pro-life? No, it wasn’t something that I ever thought about.

I wasn’t aware of anyone that had been affected by abortion in my life up until I was 21, and so, when I found out that I had been affected by abortion in a very unique way, in my mind, that’s what I thought back then. It opened up this whole new world for me.

Like, “OK, how do I feel about this? What does this mean? What does abortion do to a child or to a little girl like my birth mother or to a woman?” And I knew that I couldn’t stand for what abortion does. And so, I chose to take a stance and to speak out.

Trinko: Now, you’ve been speaking out for several years now. Has anyone who identifies as pro-choice, have they approached you? What has the response been from people who aren’t pro-life?

Culwell: It comes up in conversation … daily for me. All I have to do is sit down on an airplane, and it’s small talk. What do you do? What do you do? And it comes up. And so, I’ve had a lot of different responses.

A lot of people don’t want to hear it, and they will say, “Well, that’s interesting, but I don’t believe that happens.” And, “That’s imaginary. You must have made that up.” And it is …

Trinko: That’s so insulting to be like, “You must be crazy.”

Culwell: It can be hard to hear, but you know, I look at those instances as an opportunity to plant a seed. I got them to hear my story, and they’re going to go home and think about it.

I mean, how could you not go home and think about someone that survived an abortion? Something so eye-opening. But I think the majority of people, they hear my story and they see, “OK, I can actually see a physical person. I can see your face. I can hear your name. And so, this baby that is aborted grows up to be someone just like you.”

And so, they can really grasp onto that and identify with that. And it helps to put a face with what the issue of abortion is really dealing with, and I found that a lot of people do change their minds after seeing an abortion survivor.

Trinko: So, what do you think pro-lifers should be doing right now?

Culwell: I firmly believe that we need to speak love and truth and have our actions speak louder than words. You’ve heard that before. But I think that there are so many different movements that people can grasp onto and just different ways of approaching the life issue, but if you’re in prayer and if you’re speaking truth and love, and you’re reaching out to these women in love and telling them that we can help them, you can’t go wrong.

I think that every single woman or man or family that is entering into an abortion clinic and considering abortion is looking for a sign and looking for a way out.

And if you can imagine somebody holding out graphic signs and yelling, that’s not as welcoming, right? It may not be wrong, necessarily, but someone that is lovingly saying, “I’m here for you. I can help you.”

That is what women are looking for and what will help them choose life and feel empowered, because that’s what women need to feel. And that’s what we need to be voicing to them, is that they’re strong enough not just to have a career, but to have a family and continue on with their life and continue on with their career, because women are strong enough and capable of doing all those things.

Trinko: So, we’ve seen a surge in abortion extremism in the past year. Several states either passed or looked at passing laws that would have allowed abortion up to birth.

How do you as an abortion survivor feel about that, and how do you feel when so many liberal politicians seem willing to say that? “Yes. Anytime up until the very moment of birth it is OK to end this child’s life.”

Culwell: I remember what it felt like when New York lit up the Empire State Building pink in celebration of a woman’s right to choose late-term abortion. To me, all these people were celebrating this, and they thought it was this incredible thing. And then I’m standing there, and there’s other women just like me who have survived abortions or have had abortions themselves, and we’re standing there thinking, “Do they not see me? Do they not hear what I’ve been through? Do they not feel how abortion has hurt me?”

And so, when politicians and when states are celebrating these late-term abortion rights, it almost takes my breath away, because I think, “OK, they’re celebrating the right of women, and yet they’re not acknowledging mine.”

They don’t care about my right as a woman, as an unborn woman, about my right to choose. Because I definitely would not have chosen to be aborted. I definitely would not have chosen for my twin to be aborted, and for my life, my entire life, I will walk this earth as an abortion survivor when I didn’t have to. Because if my rights had been taken into consideration, I would have chosen to live.

Trinko: And you’re a mom yourself, right?

Culwell: I am.

Trinko: And what was the experience of pregnancy like for you? I mean, did it feel, I would imagine that, coming as an adopted child, it must have been a very emotional experience.

Culwell: I had an incredible childhood as an adoptee, and so, I actually have three children. I have two that I have chosen to be a mother to. I married a single dad, and so, I’ve had the privilege of raising them. And then I have one biological daughter. And so, I’ve only had one pregnancy, and that was extremely eye-opening for me, because I realized that if my life had been taken through abortion as it was meant to, as my twin was, that my little girl wouldn’t be here.

And so, I think that was the experience, the really eye-opening experience, for me was being pregnant and realizing the true domino effect that abortion has because my daughter’s life is now a miracle, too, because I lived to tell about my birth mother’s abortion.

Trinko: It’s beautiful. And I have cousins who are adopted, and we’re so grateful to their birth moms that they chose life for them, and yes, I love the way you say it, “I chose to have my daughters.”

Culwell: Adoption is such an incredible thing, and people often ask me, “Claire, why have you been able to respond in such a positive way? How have you been able to forgive your birth mother?” It truly is because of the family that I was adopted into and the way that I was raised. I knew without a doubt that my birth mother was already forgiven, and so I knew that I should forgive her, too.

Trinko: Well, thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

Culwell: Thank you for having me.

Katrina Trinko

Katrina Trinko is editor-in-chief of The Daily Signal and co-host of The Daily Signal Podcast. Send an email to Katrina.

Source: dailysignal.com

Countdown to death of Christianity in parts of Middle East ticking ever louder

For immediate release

23 October 2019


The countdown to Christianity’s disappearance in parts of the Middle East is ticking ever louder – and can only be stopped if the international community acts now – according to a new report launched today (Wednesday, 23rd October) in London.

The 2019 Persecuted and Forgotten? report, produced by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), warns of Christianity vanishing from towns and cities in the region, as – despite the defeat of Daesh (ISIS) – the impact of genocide has led to haemorrhaging numbers of the faithful.


There were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq before 2003 but by mid-2019, they had fallen to well below 150,000 and perhaps even less than 120,000 – a decline of up to 90 percent within a generation.

In Syria Christian numbers have fallen by two thirds since the conflict began in 2011.

The ACN report notes that the international community has shown unprecedented concern about the persecution of the region’s Christians, but failed to provide the aid required to ensure its survival during that period covered by the report (2017-19).


Persecuted and Forgotten? found that “Governments in the West and the UN failed to offer Christians in countries such as Iraq and Syria the emergency help they needed as genocide got underway.”

The report warns that the Church in the region could vanish if radical Islamists were to mount another attack on vulnerable communities – a threat highlighted by reports of jihadists escapingprison, as a result of this month’s renewed violence in north-east Syria. The Persecuted and Forgotten? report concludes: “Were there to be another Daesh-style assault on the faithful, it could result in the Church’s disappearance.

“However, if security can be guaranteed there is every indication that Christianity could survive in Nineveh and Erbil.”


Persecuted and Forgotten? also found that the persecution of Christians has worsened the most in South and East Asia – noting that, in 2017, 477 anti-Christian incidents were reported in India.

In the same region, 300 people died – and more than 500 were injured – in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday 2019 when jihadists bombed sites including three churches.

In a number of African countries Christians were threatened by Islamists seeking to eliminate the Church – either by use of force or by dishonest means, including bribing people to convert.

In Nigeria’s north and the ‘Middle Belt’ regions, militants continued a reign of terror against Christians and Muslims alike –3,731 Christians were reportedly killed in 2018.

While in other parts of the African continent, the main threat to Christians came from the state – over a 12-month period, more than 70 churches were attacked in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains with 32 burnt down.


The report can be consulted (for now only in the English version – other languages coming soon):https://persecutedchristians.acninternational.org/




Marcela Szymanski

Head of the EU office and Advocacy

Aid to the Church in Need

+32 472 705 300

Square de Meeûs 19,

1050 Brussels, Belgium


Read our report “Religious Freedom in the World” about the status of this right in 196 countries at www.religion-freedom-report.org