Catholics bring pro-life voices to the UN Commission for Women

.- As participants in the UN Commission for Women’s annual gathering advocated for increased international access to abortion, side events hosted by the Vatican and other Catholic groups presented a pro-life perspective on women’s empowerment at the UN.

The ten-day international meeting in New York March 11-22 included debate as to whether this year’s final document will include “universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights,” as a part of the commission’s “agreed conclusions,” as it did last year.

The topic of the commission’s 63rd session this year is “access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.”

For some at the UN meeting, access to public services means access to abortion.

“It’s a crime to prevent a woman from having access to abortion,”  said French Minister of Gender Marlene Schiappa at an event at the UN headquarters March 13.

Obianuju Ekeocha, president of Culture of Life Africa, said that her “head almost exploded” when she heard this.

She added that in her view, the UN Commission for Women’s annual gathering is “the heart of the pro-abortion movement.”

“The meetings that I have gone to … the people I have listened to speak right here at the United Nations, [for them] there is no room for compromise,” Ekeocha said in a video statement.

“They want abortion to be legal. They want it to be legal in every country in every situation,” she added.

Ekeocha said she attended a UN event in which an abortionist-midwife demonstrated how she trains other abortionists in developing countries. The UN event was entitled “All united for the right to abortion.”

During the week of the commission meeting, a screening of Ekeocha’s documentary, “Strings Attached,” was streamed at the Nigerian Mission to United Nations on March 12. The documentary uncovers “ideological colonization” of contraceptives and abortion into African countries and gives voice to African women who are suffering its effects.

Pro-life advocate Lila Rose spoke on the topic “Motherhood is a gift” at UN side event co-hosted by the Holy See Mission to the UN and C-Fam, entitled “Protecting Femininity and Human Dignity in Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality Policies Today.”

The Holy See Mission to the UN sponsored five side events addressing issues that affect women, from human trafficking to protections for women and girls with Down syndrome.

In conjunction with the Catholic Women’s Forum, the Holy See helped to organize an event on “Valuing Unpaid Work and Caregiving.”

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations said at the event that there has been a presumption in the United Nations that “a person’s work outside the home is far more valuable than a person’s work inside the home.”

Auza questioned whether “a prioritization of a person’s work in the labor markets over care work at home flows from woman’s deepest desires or whether it’s an emulation of a flawed, hyper-masculine, way of looking at the world, one in which work, and what work can provide, is treated as the most important value.”

“No women who desires to give of her time in this way should be stigmatized by society or penalized in comparison to other women or to men. Work schedules should be continuously adapted so that if a woman wishes to work she can do so without relinquishing her family life or enduring chronic stress,” he said. “Rather than having her readjust everything to the rules of the marketplace, the marketplace itself should be adjusted to what society recognizes is the enormous personal and social value of her work.”

“Humanity owes its very survival to the gift of caregiving, most notably in motherhood, and this indispensable contribution should be esteemed as such, by both women and by men,” Auza said.


Nearly 2 million attend March for Life in Argentina

Pro-life rally in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 23, 2019. (Credit: Facebook Marcha por la Vida.)

ROME – Nearly two million people marched on Saturday in Pope Francis’s native land of Argentina in pro-life demonstrations dedicated to defending the life of the unborn, and offering solutions to mothers in crisis pregnancies.

The rally was organized by Argentina’s March for Life, a lay-led organization. Although Catholic bishops, evangelical pastors, and Jewish and Islamic leaders participated, they were not involved in the organization of the event, which took place in more than 200 locations across the country.

The movement doesn’t have a political affiliation, either. In fact, the only political message issued from the stage was a warning to Argentine politicians: Abortion will be an issue in the upcoming presidential elections, and those who were out in the streets won’t vote for candidates who support overturning Argentina’s pro-life laws.

The other thing close to a political note of the rally was the presence, on stage in the country’s capital Buenos Aires, of a group of veterans from the 1980’s Falklands War, the only armed conflict in Argentina’s recent history.

“We’re all ordinary people, but at a moment in life we’re called to do extraordinary things for the nation. We defended both islands. Today, we’re here, as soldiers, to implore that we defend both lives, to save the nation,” their spokesman said.

Buenos Aires drew the largest crowd, with more than 300,000 people marching across the capital. Aerial footage showed that at one point, the column of people was more than one mile long.

Though the rally had been planned well in advance, the city government provided no security for the event, and neither did the national government. However, several participants told Crux that “seeing the climate of joy and celebration, it would have been a waste of resources.”

Some did, however, regret the fact that there were very few traffic police to make sure that those walking were safe from traffic, and in several instances cars could be seen among the crowd.

The city of Buenos Aires is governed by Horacio Larreta, who belongs to the party of President Mauricio Macri, who last year allowed Congress to debate the legalization of abortion for the first time in a decade.

According to Carolina Brown, one of the organizers of Saturday’s rally, there was a “palpable spirit of celebration, of joy, with families rallying together, as well as an overwhelming presence of young people.”

The latter, she said, wasn’t the case last year, but “seeing that young people are the ones who will have to continue fighting, seeing them come out in numbers, joining friends, is a reason for hope.”

During “march season,” Brown has a key role: Making sure that the people in the street find out about the event, as they have little support from Argentina’s major media outlets, and not everyone has access to social media.

“But Argentina, culturally, is pro-life, so when we’re out in the streets with the light blue handkerchiefs that represent the pro-life movement, many approach us, ask for information, ask for a handkerchief for themselves,” she told Crux on Sunday.

According to Brown, the narrative and attitude of the pro-abortion groups in the country “helps us a lot” because “Argentina is pro-life.”

“I’m very thankful, as an Argentine, of the response the convocation received, and also of the country I belong to: the Argentine people is expressing itself in the defense of life,” she said.

Pictures from the different rallies across the country show people holding signs calling for the state to “save them both,” people claiming to be “agnostic, leftist, pro-life,” “with abortion I won’t vote you,” “pro-life generation” and “lesbians for life.”

In different shapes and forms, the rally has been taking place every year since 1998, when the country declared March 25 to be the Day of the Unborn Child, but the participation and visibility has grown exponentially in the past two years, after the strong effort to legalize abortion.

Abortion today is illegal in Argentina, though there’s a protocol adopted by some states that allows for the practice when the pregnancy is the result of rape, or the life of the mother is at risk.

According to Alejando Geyer, one of the organizers of the rally, the event took place this year for three reasons: “Everyone’s right to be born, the right of families to educate their children without gender ideology, and the need to raise awareness of the fact that in our country, particularly during this year of elections, we define the future of the country, of the family, and of millions of unborn children.”



Widespread opposition to Relationships and Sex Education changes

Photo by Cathy Yeulet

The majority of respondents to a recent Government consultation oppose plans to teach children as young as five about homosexuality and transgenderism.

More than 11,000 people responded to the consultation, with 58 per cent saying the proposed content for Relationships Education in primary schools was not “age-appropriate”.

Even more, 64 per cent, said the same about Relationships and Sex Education in secondary schools.


Education Secretary Damian Hinds pushed ahead with the controversial plans last week, despite the “large number” of consultation responses objecting.

Withdrawal from the teaching of LGBT relationships was a particular concern for many respondents, with three in five opposing the plans to weaken parents’ rights to withdraw their children from the lessons.

Respondents also raised concerns about the objectivity of resources being recommended for primary schools, but the plans are set to go ahead with only minor alterations.

Parents, grandparents and teachers made up around half of the responses.


The Christian Institute’s Deputy Director for Public Affairs Simon Calvert said: “We are greatly encouraged by the high number of responses and the level of opposition to the plans.

“It’s appalling how the Government has sought to downplay these contributions and in fact the only changes they made after the consultation have made these plans worse.

“People should be ready to mobilise in the months ahead.”

The new guidelines are set to come into force from September 2020.


Killing of Christians Continues in Run-up to National Elections in Nigeria

Muslim Fulani herdsmen kill 12 at church wedding reception. 

Baptist Bathsheba Emmanuel, 35, was killed at wedding reception near Jagindi, Kaduna state, Nigeria on Feb. 12. (Morning Star News)

JAGINDI, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Nigerian Christians this month prayed that national elections would bring leaders who can stop Islamist attacks on them following killings by Boko Haram extremists and Muslim Fulani herdsmen.

In the wake of a Muslim herdsmen attack on a church wedding that killed 12 Christians Kaduna state in December and Boko Haram attacks that left several Christians dead in Adamawa state this month, the Rev. Samson Olasupo Ayokunle, president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) urged Christians to pray from Feb. 10 to Feb. 22 for free and fair elections and the release of Christian high school student Leah Sharibu and others from Boko Haram kidnappers.

“We are to pray for all Christians contesting for one post or the other for the will of God to be done concerning their ambition, and that the powerful in our nation will not be able to manipulate the election and edge them out,” said Ayokunle, also president of the Nigerian Baptist Convention. “We are to pray that the general elections should be free, fair and credible, and without violence or any bloodshed.”

Ahead of elections that began on Saturday (Feb. 23), he said Nigeria has been impoverished by visionless leaders, resulting in the suffering of the masses.

“We are to pray…that God should use the process to give the country good and godly leaders at all levels, and that every evil plan against Nigeria be frustrated,” he said. “That God should stop all groups behind the killings in Nigeria and their financiers, and that 2019 should be a new dawn for Nigeria.”

On Wednesday (Feb. 20), hundreds of Christian women from Jagindi, in Jema’a County in Kaduna State, took to the streets of Jagindi and Godogodo towns to protest the killing of 12 Christians at a wedding reception in the Jagindi suburb of Ungwan Pa Gwandara on Dec. 16. They said that after the slaughter, soldiers and police of the Muslim-controlled government in Kaduna arrested Christian leaders without cause.

“At about 9 p.m., there was a marriage feast that was going here at Ungwan Pa Gwandara. From behind the hill overlooking this village emerged armed Fulani herdsmen who shot indiscriminately at Christians from various churches here at the venue of the feast,” Siman Markus, a 42, a parishioner at St. John’s Catholic Church in Jagindi, told Morning Star News. “Twelve Christians who are members of various churches were shot dead instantly, while another five Christians were injured.”

Yohanna Dauda, 47, a parishioner at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, Jagindi, corroborated the account, saying it was devastating to area Christians. Dauda and Markus said eight Catholics, two Baptists and two Anglicans were killed. Six of those killed were children.

Markus identified the Catholic victims as Samuel Markus, 28; Glory Bala, 12; Chore Garba, 12; Beyan Avong, 12; Kasham Manasseh, 22; Tanania Francis, 25; Murna Irimiya, 38; and Victoria Solomon, 22; Baptists killed were Bathsheba Emmanuel, 35, and Yohanna Filibus, 12; and Anglicans slain were Friday Yohanna, 13, and Oyo Dauda, 10.

Those wounded were Catholics Francis Markus, 25; Boyi Kyau, 45; Akwaru Danladi, 30; Samaila Bala, 17; Veronica Clement, 23; Golon Sam, 20; Ishaku Boyi, 14; Briskila Solomon, 7; Felicia Solomon, 9 months; Kato Kadima, 14; Wawa Kadima, 12; and Judith Samuel, 2; Anglicans Esther Dauda, 50; Charity Samaila, 20; Samaila Garba, 41; and Janet Shadrach, 22; Baptists Precious Emmanuel, 6, and Paul Akore, 17.

Boko Haram Attack

In Adamawa state in Nigeria’s northeast, Boko Haram jihadists on Feb. 12 invaded four Christian communities in Madagali County, killing several Christians and displacing many others, sources said.

The attacks on Madagali, Gulak, Magar and Shuwa took place at about 8 p.m. and were the third onslaught on these areas in 10 days, following attacks on Feb. 4 and 11. Officials speculated that they were designed to make residents too fearful to vote.

Ruth Gauje, 32, of Shuwa village, told Morning Star News by phone that he saw a fellow Christian shot dead as she fled.

“I saw a man who I know to be a Christian and a member of the Church of the Brethren in Shuwa, my home town, shot to death,” she said. “Also, Bulama, a community leader in Madagali, was shot dead alongside many Christians.”

The number of those killed was unknown; in the Feb. 4 attack, three people were reportedly killed, and one civilian and one solider were reportedly killed in the Feb. 11 assault. Local press reported that soldiers killed most of the Boko Haram rebels in the Feb. 12 attack, citing civilian and military sources.

Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

Both presidential candidates in the national elections are Muslims: Incumbent Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and Abubakar Atiku of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

While both candidates were promising to rein in violence, Muslim Fulani herdsmen in the past two weeks attacked Christian communities in Kaduna, Nasarawa, Benue, and Plateau states. Attacked were Kajuru and Jagindi in Kaduna state, Agatu and Gwer in Benue state, Kadarko, Udege, Ugya, and Gadabuke in Nasarawa state, and Barkin Ladi and Riyom in Plateau state.

The United Nations Refugee Agency recently reported said that more than 2.4 million persons have been displaced due to Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria’s northern states.

The Rev. Benebo Fubara-Manuel, vice president of the Christian Council of West Africa, also urged peaceful elections.

“Peace is important,” he said in a press statement. “If we kill ourselves because of elections, in the end, who are we going to lead?”

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China’s War on Religion

What China Calls “Sinicization” is What Hitler Called “Nazification” written by Steven W. Mosher

Chinese worshippers attend a mass during the Christmas Eve at a Catholic church in Beijing on Dec. 24, 2018. (Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images)

For religious believers in China, things are rapidly going from bad to worse. And the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has made it clear that its “sinicization” campaign—turning churches into an arm of the state—is only just getting started.

The present wave of persecution began last February, when harsh new restrictions on religious activity were put in place. It has continued to pick up speed in the months since, as churches and mosques have been destroyed or defaced.

Catholics have been a particular target, with a number of bishops and priests arrested and some of China’s most famous shrines torn down. As one underground priest recently put it, “Catholicism in China is facing calamity.”

Other Christian denominations are faring little better. The Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, for example, was attacked on Dec. 9. Over 160 members of the congregation were arrested, along with their pastor, Wang Yi, who has been charged with “inciting subversion of state power.”

China’s Muslims are also under siege, especially the Turkish-speaking minorities of the Far West. Over the past year, more than a million Uyghurs and Kazakhs—out of a total population of only 10 million—have been sent to re-education camps. There they are required to speak only Chinese, forced to eat pork and drink alcohol, and told that all religions are nothing more than superstition.

The persecution of Tibetans and Falun Gong adherents is also reaching new heights. Even China’s tiny Jewish community, centered in the ancient city of Kaifeng, has not escaped the wrath of the authorities. In an eerie reprise of Kristallnacht, the authorities trashed their makeshift synagogue (they are forbidden from building a new one), ripping Hebrew scriptural quotations off the walls and filling in the ritual bath with dirt and stones.

It is important to understand that the Party is not beating down believers because these oppose the official state ideology of “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” The vast majority accept Communist rule. They just want to be left alone to practice their faiths in peace—a right supposedly guaranteed by the PRC’s Constitution.

The Pastor of the Early Rain Covenant Church, for example, has explicitly said that, following the Bible, he accepts and respects “the fact that this Communist regime has been allowed by God to rule temporarily.” It didn’t keep him out of jail.

The Catholic Church has gone even further in its efforts to appease China, entering into a still-secret agreement with the Communist Party last September over the appointment of bishops. But the Party’s war on religion has continued.

In fact, not long after the Sino-Vatican agreement was signed, the great shrine dedicated to Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows in Shanxi Province had its statues removed. A local Party official explained that they had to go because the shrine had “too many statues.”

This is laughable. China is literally littered with statues of past Communist leaders. The problem with those that lined the approach to Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows shrine is that they were the wrong statues. They depicted angels and saints, rather than Commie greats like Mao Zedong or Deng Xiaoping. Because of this, they had to go.

Even worse, the shrine of Our Lady of the Mountain in Yunnan Province was razed to the ground. Why is the government so determined to deface or destroy such centers of public Catholic devotion?

The real issue, in my view, was that tens of thousands of pilgrims from all over China visited these shrines each year to pay tribute to the Mother of God. Such a public display of loyalty to something other than the Party and its leaders went directly counter to its push for sinicization and could not be allowed to continue.

Some Westerners still seem to believe that sinicization is merely intended to free Chinese Christianity and other religions from foreign entanglements. What it really is, however, is a far-reaching political campaign intended to transform all religions in China into instruments of state control.

This is why the CCP has imposed a whole host of new restrictions on religious activity within China’s borders. And it is also why the state is aggressively invading the sanctuaries of churches it allows to stand.

The authorities are appointing church leaders, including Catholic bishops, who state openly that their primary loyalty is to the Party, rather than to their faith. The Bible is being rewritten under Party supervision to emphasize loyalty to the state. Pastors and priests are being ordered to hang the PRC flag and the portraits of Communist Party leaders above their altars. Those who offer any resistance to the state’s encroachments are accused, like Pastor Wang, of seeking to subvert the state.

This is not the first time this has happened.

After taking power in 1933, Hitler embarked on what he called Nazification. In order to bring the churches into line with the state, pastors and priests were ordered to hang swastikas around their altars, and display his picture in prominent places. Theologians were recruited to retranslate the Bible so that it conformed to Nazi thinking. And those who resisted these encroachments were arrested and charged with treason.

The ultimate goal of Nazification was the worship of the Third Reich and its leader, Adolf Hitler.

Facing intensifying persecution, nearly all of China’s Christian churches are more than willing to “render unto Caesar what is Caesars, and what is God’s unto God.”

Steven W. Mosher is the President of the Population Research Institute and the author of Bully of Asia: Why China’s Dream is the New Threat to World Order.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


Papst: Homosexuelle Priester, Ordensmänner und Ordensfrauen müssten angehalten werden, “den Zölibat umfassend zu leben” und mit ihrer Sexualität “voll verantwortlich” umzugehen (KAP)

Papst Franziskus hat Versäumnisse im Umgang mit Homosexualität in der Priesterausbildung eingeräumt. Dass es in der katholischen Kirche homosexuelle Priester und Ordensleute gebe, sehe er mit Sorge, “weil man damit an einem bestimmten Punkt vielleicht nicht gut umgegangen ist”, sagte er in einem Interviewband des spanischen Theologen Fernando Prado, dessen Text am Wochenende vorab veröffentlicht wurde. Franziskus drängte auf eine strengere Prüfung von Priesteramts- und Ordensanwärtern. Homosexuelle Geistliche müssten ebenso wie heterosexuelle konsequent enthaltsam leben. Der Band mit dem Titel “Die Kraft der Berufung” erscheint am Montag. Priesterseminare und Orden müssten Kandidaten strenger auf homosexuelle Neigungen prüfen, fordert der Papst. Wenn bei Kandidaten für geistliche Berufe keine sorgfältige Prüfung der affektiven Reife und der sexuellen Ausrichtung erfolge, gebe es später Probleme. Homosexualität sei ein “sehr ernstes” Thema. “Wir müssen strikt sein. In unseren Gesellschaften scheint Homosexualität geradezu eine Mode zu sein, und dieses Denken beeinflusst in gewisser Weise auch das Leben der Kirche”, so Franziskus. Als Beispiel schildert der Papst ein Gespräch mit einem Ordensgeistlichen, der bei einer Visitation in seiner Gemeinschaft auf homosexuelle Studenten und Ordensmitglieder getroffen sei. “‘Letztlich, sagte er, ist das nicht so schlimm. Es ist nur ein Ausdruck von Zuneigung.’ – Das ist ein Irrtum”, so Franziskus. “Im Ordens- und Priesterleben gibt es keinen Platz für eine solche Art von Zuneigung”, führt der Papst aus. Nach kirchlicher Weisung dürften Personen “mit dieser tiefsitzenden Tendenz” nicht zur Weihe oder zu Ordensgelübden zugelassen werden. “Das Weiheamt oder das geweihte Leben sind nicht ihr Platz, so Franziskus. Homosexuelle Priester, Ordensmänner und Ordensfrauen müssten angehalten werden, “den Zölibat umfassend zu leben” und mit ihrer Sexualität “voll verantwortlich” umzugehen, sagte der Papst; und weiter: “Es ist besser, dass sie das Priesteramt oder das Ordensleben aufgeben, als ein Doppelleben zu führen.”

© Kathpress

“Der Glaube ist ein Geschenk für jeden”

Als Jugendlicher rebellierte Rupert Santner gegen den Glauben. Später entdeckte er Gott als seinen großen Schatz. 2019 wird er zum Diakon geweiht.

Musik ist für den angehenden Priester Rupert Santner eine große Leidenschaft.

Ende 2019 folgt für Rupert Santner die Diakonweihe und im Sommer 2020 die Priesterweihe. Bilder: Loretto/Privat

Handwerklich begabt, absolvierte der Sohn vom Nigglbauern am Holztechnikum in Kuchl die HTL. Mit Gott ist Rupert Santner seit seiner Kindheit eng verbunden. Katholisch erzogen, besuchte er mit seiner Familie jeden Sonntag den Gottesdienst in Mariapfarr und Tamsweg und betete auch regelmäßig im Kreise seiner Familie.

Mit elf, zwölf Jahren hat er gegen den Glauben innerlich und äußerlich rebelliert. “Das, was ich zuvor bekämpft habe, habe ich später als großen Schatz entdecken dürfen”, erinnert sich der heute 28-Jährige. Seine “Berufung” empfing er im Alter von 14 Jahren: “Es war ein stiller Moment bei einem katholischen Jugendtreffen in Pöllau mit mehreren Hundert Teilnehmern. Es war ein Gnadenmoment. Ich dachte mir danach: ,Herrgott, wenn du willst, werde ich ein ganz ein kleiner Priester nur für dich.'”

Der Alltag hielt danach Einzug. Im Herzen blieb jedoch der Gedanke und kam nach der Matura wieder zurück. Gemeinsam mit einem Schulfreund war Santner drei Monate mit dem Auto unterwegs bis in die Türkei und Georgien. Dort verkauften sie das Auto und flogen weiter nach Indien. “Wir wollten andere Kulturen kennenlernen.”

Als Freiwilliger arbeitete der Lintschinger in einem Sterbeheim und Männerhospiz, kam auf eine besondere Weise in Berührung mit dem Tod. “Wir haben viel gesehen. Auch sehr viel Elend. Am Grab von Mutter Theresa in Kalkutta habe ich mich oft aufgehalten.” Und wieder tauchte die entscheidende Frage auf: “Wir waren weit weg von daheim. Es stellte sich erneut die Frage: Was jetzt? Eigentlich steht einem die ganze Welt offen. Es war zu der Zeit nicht einfach, Ja zu sagen. Ich dachte mir, vielleicht erschlägt es mich. Die entscheidende Frage lautet wohl: Bin ich bereit, mich selbst zu verschenken.”

Den Zivildienst leistete Rupert Santner in der Pfarre Pöllau. Dort kam auch sein handwerkliches Talent bei Renovierungsarbeiten zur Geltung. Parallel bekam er das geistige Leben und den Tagesablauf eines Priesters mit. “Eigentlich hab ich das gemacht, was ich kann, und das gesehen, was ich sehen wollte.” Sein Herzenswunsch wurde immer sichtbarer: “Für mich ist es eine Frage des Herzens und der Liebe. Dort, wo die Liebe am größten ist, dort verschenkt man sich auch am meisten. Es zeigt sich im Leben. Wenn ich etwas nicht liebe und nicht mit Leidenschaft betreibe, werde ich es früher oder später aufgeben. Der Mensch ist von der Vernunft gesteuert, aber noch viel mehr von Dingen, die dadurch Einzug ins Herz gefunden haben. Dinge, die wir lieben, bewegen uns zu ihnen hin.”

Mit 21 hat Rupert Santner mit dem Theologie-Studium in Heiligenkreuz (NÖ) begonnen. “Daheim am Hof haben sie mich vermisst. Auch bei der Musikkapelle St. Andrä musste ich leider aufhören. Für Freundschaften war es aber eine Bereicherung. In Diskussionen war meine Berufung auch ein Geschenk für andere.” Nach zwei Jahren wechselte er an das ITI Trumau (NÖ). “Ich wollte mehr sehen. Es ist dort intellektuell sehr hoch mit englisch-amerikanischer Lernmethode.” Nach drei Jahren – nach Abschluss der Sponsion – ging der Weg weiter nach Salzburg. Aktuell absolviert er sein Doktorat in Innsbruck. Parallel läuft seit 2016 das Priesterseminar. Ende 2019 folgt die Diakonweihe, im Sommer 2020 die Priesterweihe. “Ich bin nach wie vor der Gleiche, musiziere gerne. Ich habe ein Facebook-Konto und gehe mit Freunden auf ein Bier. Ich höre deswegen ja nicht auf zu leben. Ganz im Gegenteil. Durch meinen Weg erhalte ich unglaublich wertvolle neue Freundschaften. Mit meinem alten Umfeld habe ich nach wie vor Kontakt und jeder freut sich, wenn ich da bin.”

Viel Raum zur Verwirklichung bekommt er in seinen Aufgaben von der Jugendarbeit bis hin zu Medienprojekten. Ende Oktober führte er eine Wallfahrt mit 120 Kindern und Jugendlichen aus ganz Österreich in die Schweiz.

Und was bedeutet für den angehenden Priester Zufriedenheit? “Zufriedenheit bedeutet für mich, auf dem Platz zu sein, zu dem Gott mich geführt hat und wo mein Herz sich ganz daheim fühlt und sich auch ganz verschenken darf. Örtlich ist das nicht begrenzt. Als Priester muss man aus dem Glauben heraus leben. Sonst ergibt es keinen Sinn. Ich forsche sehr tief und beschäftige mich intensiv damit. Der Glaube beweist, dass Gott wirklich existiert und uns verwandelt und glücklich macht. Der Glaube ist ein Geschenk für jeden. Wir dürfen ihn als Priester stärken. Die Not in der Welt ist extrem groß und wird immer größer werden. Wenn Herzen nicht von Liebe erfüllt werden, bluten sie aus. Kein Mensch kann geben, was er nicht empfangen hat. Der Mensch muss sich erfüllen lassen”, sagt Rupert Santner.

Written by Salzburger Nachrichten


© Salzburger Nachrichten VerlagsgesmbH & Co KG 2018

Pilgrimage to Poland

Students from the ITI enjoyed a fruitful pilgrimage to Poland from October 5th through the 7th. Carefully organized by Fr. Juraj Terek and Piotr Drag (founding member of the ITI), the trip started with attending a conference co-sponsored by the conference of Polish bishops about European integration. The conference allowed students to grapple with current issues facing Europe in a professional setting.

The ITI was well represented when students sought to clarify the discussion by asking panels about the true causes of problems such as low birth rates and illegal immigration, about the true ends of working toward a thriving economy, if there would be attempts to restore the EU to the Catholic principles and model of its founders, and for evidence that upholding human dignity is successfully and intentionally being upheld in European rule of law.

Outside of the conference, students got to walk in the footsteps of Pope Saint John Paul II in a walking tour of Krakow. Sights included his seminary, Wawel cathedral, the cardinal palace, and the chapel where he first celebrated mass. Students were also blessed with a trip to the shrine of Divine Mercy, where their gracious tour guide recounted the highlights of Sr. Faustina’s life. The visit finished with a time of reflection with a member of Sr. Faustina’s order in the Hungarian chapel.

Next on the itinerary was a visit to the nearby John Paul II shrine, where students had the chance to see Polish Catholicism represented in a range of chapels as well as the cassock John Paul II wore during the attempt on his life. At the shrine, students providentially met Archbishop Theodorus Hoogenboom of Utrecht, who was a key speaker at the same conference.

The tour of religious sites around Krakow was topped with a visit to the Sanctuary Ecce Homo of St. Brother Albert, the “St. Francis of Krakow.” There, students got to contemplate with their own eyes Brother Albert’s profound painting of a mocked Jesus robed in red.

Finishing off the last day of the pilgrimage was a unique mass in Wieliczka’s St. Kinga chapel (entirely carved from salt!) and a guided tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau. There, moments were taken for prayer and to ask for the intercession of St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein). All students returned safely and sincerely thank Fr. Juraj and Piotr Drag for the amazing experience.

Caption: Students taking a break from the conference to enjoy a cafe in Krakow.

Caption: Students at the shrine of John Paul II with Archbishop Hoogenboom.

Caption: Students receive a blessing from Archbishop Hoogenboom at the shrine of John Paul II.

Caption: A Fr. Lijiu selfie taken at Wawel castle.

Summer Highlights

Leave it to ITI students to make the most of their summer break. The following is a roundup of some of the global adventures of returning students, which includes volunteering, teaching, and attending summer schools.

Elizabeth Ielmini

What I did: I taught English at the English Summer School (ESS) in Ukraine for the Ukrainian Catholic University. ESS is a summer camp held each year outside of Lviv for students attending the Ukrainian Catholic University.

My thoughts: Teaching English at the English Summer School in Ukraine was truly amazing and unforgettable. It was a blessing to be able to help these students learn English and to learn so much myself. I made so many dear friends and had such a wonderful time being a part of the community there. I also came to love Ukraine more and more and all things Ukrainian, Слава Україні! I was surrounded by amazing and inspiring people, all of whom I am grateful to for such an extraordinary summer: the priests who said liturgy for us everyday, my fellow teachers and other camp volunteers, the administration and leaders of the camp, and of course the wonderful students (especially the seminarians)!


Benedict Hince

What I did: This summer I presented a paper at the Hildebrand Schülerkreis on Moral Action and the Apprehension of the Person. The Schülerkreis was focused on Christian Personalism and Phenomenological realism, and it particularly sought to foster dialogue between this tradition and that of Thomistic philosophy. It was hosted in Gaming, Austria.

My thoughts: It was a wonderful event and posed some very interesting questions which led to great discussions, particularly concerning the encounter between metaphysics and phenomenology. One thing that really struck me was how two people can disagree profoundly over something, and yet discuss it in a spirit of friendship, both seeking the truth together. It was also my first time presenting a paper at a conference, and so the experience was really encouraging, particularly as I look to continue my studies and delve deeper into some big questions.


Nicholas Koeppel

What I did: This summer I attended the Central European Summer Summer school for 10 days in Poland, walking in the footsteps of St. John Paul II and learning what it means to be a leader.

My thoughts: I especially enjoyed visiting the places of John Paul II, including: Wadowice, the place of his birth and childhood and home parish, hiking on the nature trail he walked near his home, and visiting Kraków, the city where he was a young priest and bishop. I also enjoyed meeting and interacting with people from England, Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine. Thanks be to God for a blessed time!


Elizabeth Stone

What I did: This summer I had the opportunity to travel to Armenia and Georgia. I spent one month volunteering with the Missionaries of Charity in Spitak, an Armenian village. I assisted the Sisters at their center caring for those with physical and/or mental disabilities.

My thoughts: My days consisted of praying with the Sisters, cleaning/cooking, visiting women and families in the village, and most importantly, and giving as much love and attention as possible to those living at the center. It was a wonderful experience filled with so much joy! I cherished every moment spent with my new Armenian family and I left the country with a promise to return next summer.


Rachael Johnson

What I did: I attended the Humanum Institute’s Sex and Gender conference at St. Mary’s University in Twickenham, England.

My thoughts: The conference offered a wealth of insight into gender dysphoria and the issues surrounding it, and Dr. Newton (ITI alum and past professor) was one of many amazing speakers. It also allowed me a glimpse of what our British brothers and sisters in Christ are currently facing. And last, I discovered Cadbury is superior to Milka (sorry, Switzerland).


Elizabeth Schick

What I did: On July 30, I attended the first-ever celebration of the feast day of Bl. Solanus Casey, a Capuchin friar who lived in my home archdiocese of Detroit (Michigan, USA). Present at the feast day Mass were the archbishop, members of Solanus Casey’s family, members of the Capuchins, and the Panamanian woman whose healing prompted his beatification in November 2017. The Mass was held at the National Shrine of the Little Flower, a basilica where Solanus Casey often prayed.

My thoughts: I was at the ITI when Solanus Casey was beatified in Detroit last November, so I wasn’t able to attend the beatification Mass, which made me that much more eager to attend the first feast day of Detroit’s first “hometown saint” with the archbishop. The basilica was packed, and when Archbishop Vigneron asked during his homily how many people had had a prayer answered through Solanus’ intercession, there wasn’t a single pew without at least one hand in the air.

Bl. Solanus is a great reminder to me of the importance of humility and of God’s ability to work through His “little ones”. Solanus was ordained a simplex priest (meaning he could not preach nor hear confessions) due to his academic and linguistic struggles in the German-language seminary in Wisconsin, and he was assigned the lowly job of “porter” at the friary in Detroit after his ordination, and yet God chose to use him as an instrument of healing for thousands of people, both during his lifetime and afterwards. People would line the street just to speak with him, and he encouraged and affirmed many in their faith.

As a student of theology, immersed in academia, I have found it tremendously important to have such role models to remind me that a smile or a cup of water given to one in need is worth more than all the “right answers” in the world. And whenever I find myself struggling to understand a concept – or a language – I know that I can turn to him for assistance in both humbly accepting my limitations and joyfully persevering in my assigned tasks, no matter how difficult they may seem.

Bl. Solanus Casey, pray for us!



Schönborn: VfGH-Entscheidung zur Ehe verneint Wirklichkeit

5 Dezember 2017

Vorsitzender der Österreichischen Bischofskonferenz kritisiert Entscheidung des Verfassungsgerichtshofs, wonach Ehe künftig auch für gleichgeschlechtliche Paare möglich sein soll

Wien ( Mit deutlicher Kritik hat Kardinal Christoph Schönborn auf die Entscheidung des Verfassungsgerichtshofs (VfGH) zur Ehe reagiert: “Es ist beunruhigend, dass sogar die Verfassungsrichter den Blick verloren haben für die besondere Natur der Ehe als Verbindung von Mann und Frau. Sie ist wie keine andere Beziehung geeignet, Kinder hervorzubringen, zu hüten und aufzuziehen und damit die Generationenfolge zu sichern”, so der Vorsitzende der Bischofskonferenz in einer Stellungnahme gegenüber Kathpress. “Wenn der VfGH die Einzigartigkeit und damit die juristische Sonderstellung der Ehe verneint, die auf der Unterschiedlichkeit der Geschlechter aufbaut, verneint er die Wirklichkeit”, sagte der Kardinal und hielt in Richtung Höchstgericht fest: “Er tut damit der Gesellschaft keinen Dienst und schadet letzten Endes allen – auch denen, die er schützen möchte und die es auch zu schützen gilt.”

“Ich bin zuversichtlich, dass sich langfristig die Einsicht in die Schöpfungsordnung wieder durchsetzen wird, die der Mensch nicht missachten kann, ohne Schaden zu nehmen”, so der Kardinal, der weiter sagte: “Dennoch beklage ich die Umdeutung eines wesentlichen Begriffs der Rechtsordnung, der im Wesen des Menschen wurzelt und für die Gesellschaft eine entscheidende Rolle spielt – umso mehr, als der Verfassungsgerichtshof ohne weiters auch anders entscheiden hätte können und sein Erkenntnis nun sogar im Widerspruch zum Europäischen Menschengerichtshof steht.”

VfGH ändert bisherige Linie

Anlass für die Stellungnahme des Kardinals ist das am Dienstag veröffentlichte Erkenntnis des VfGH, mit der er seine bisherige Rechtsprechung zum Eherecht grundlegend geändert hat. Demnach sehen die Höchstrichter in der Unterscheidung zwischen Ehe und eingetragener Partnerschaft eine verfassungswidrige Verletzung des Diskriminierungsverbots. Gleichzeitig hat der VfGH verfügt, dass die bisher bestehenden unterschiedlichen Regelungen für verschieden- und gleichgeschlechtliche Paare mit Ablauf des 31. Dezember 2018 aufgehoben werden. Somit können auch gleichgeschlechtliche Paare in Österreich künftig heiraten. Gleichzeitig steht dann die eingetragene Partnerschaft auch verschiedengeschlechtlichen Paaren offen.

Anlass für das mit 4. Dezember 2017 datierte VfGH-Erkenntnis war die Beschwerde von zwei Frauen, die in eingetragener Partnerschaft leben und die Zulassung zur Begründung einer Ehe beantragt haben. Dieser Antrag wurde vom Magistrat der Stadt Wien und dann vom Verwaltungsgericht Wien abgelehnt. In der Folge hat der Verfassungsgerichtshof die Bestimmungen über Ehe und eingetragene Partnerschaft von Amts wegen einer Prüfung unterzogen. Insbesondere ist es dabei um die Frage gegangen, ob die als wesentliches Kriterium für die Ehe bestehende Wortfolge “verschiedenen Geschlechts” im Allgemeinen Bürgerlichen Gesetzbuch (Paragraf 44) dem Gleichheitsgebot widerspricht. Diese Frage bejaht der VfGH jetzt in seinem Erkenntnis und verfügt, dass diese Wortfolge als verfassungswidrig aufgehoben wird. Genauso werden auch jene Wortfolgen im Gesetz über die Eingetragenen Partnerschaft aufgehoben, die dieses Rechtsinstitut auf gleichgeschlechtliche Paare beschränken.

Als Begründung für das Abweichen von seiner bisherigen Linie führt der VfGH an, dass sich die eingetragene Partnerschaft, die gleichgeschlechtliche Paare seit 2010 eingehen können, mittlerweile inhaltlich immer weiter an die Ehe angenähert habe. Die jüngere Rechtsentwicklung habe insbesondere eine “gemeinsame Elternschaft auch gleichgeschlechtlicher Paare ermöglicht”, so der VfGH in der Presseerklärung, wo es heißt: “Gleichgeschlechtliche Paare dürfen Kinder (gemeinsam) adoptieren und die zulässigen Formen medizinisch unterstützter Fortpflanzung gleichberechtigt nutzen.”

Daraus folgert das Höchstgericht, dass die Unterscheidung in Ehe und eingetragene Partnerschaft sich heute nicht aufrechterhalten lasse, ohne gleichgeschlechtliche Paare zu diskriminieren. Die Trennung in zwei Rechtsinstitute bringe zum Ausdruck, dass Menschen mit gleichgeschlechtlicher sexueller Orientierung nicht gleich den Personen mit verschiedengeschlechtlicher Orientierung seien, so der VfGH.

In dem Erkenntnis der Höchstrichter heißt es dazu wörtlich: “Die damit verursachte diskriminierende Wirkung zeigt sich darin, dass durch die unterschiedliche Bezeichnung des Familienstandes (‘verheiratet’ versus ‘in eingetragener Partnerschaft lebend’) Personen in einer gleichgeschlechtlichen Partnerschaft auch in Zusammenhängen, in denen die sexuelle Orientierung keinerlei Rolle spielt und spielen darf, diese offen legen müssen und, insbesondere auch vor dem historischen Hintergrund, Gefahr laufen, diskriminiert zu werden.”

Der Gerichtshof kommt daher zu folgendem Schluss: “Die gesetzliche Trennung verschiedengeschlechtlicher und gleichgeschlechtlicher Beziehungen in zwei unterschiedliche Rechtsinstitute verstößt damit gegen das Verbot des Gleichheitsgrundsatzes, Menschen auf Grund personaler Merkmale wie hier der sexuellen Orientierung zu diskriminieren.”

Diese Entscheidung hat zur Folge, dass die bisherigen Bestimmungen (Ehe für verschiedengeschlechtliche Paare, eingetragene Partnerschaft für gleichgeschlechtliche Paare) noch bis 31. Dezember 2018 in Kraft bleiben, wenn es nicht schon vorher eine Aufhebung oder Änderung durch den Gesetzgeber gibt. Erfolgt das nicht, dann können gleichgeschlechtliche Paare spätestens nach dem 31. Dezember 2018 heiraten, so der VfGH in seiner Aussendung. Wer bereits in eingetragener Partnerschaft lebt, kann in ihr verbleiben, oder künftig gemeinsam eine Ehe eingehen. Weiters wird erklärt, dass eine bestehende eingetragene Partnerschaft ein Ehehindernis ist. Wer also verpartnert ist und eine andere Person heiraten will, muss zuerst die eingetragene Partnerschaft für nichtig erklären oder auflösen.

Bischofskonferenz für Einzigartigkeit der Ehe 

Kürzlich hatte sich die Bischofskonferenz mit dem damals noch laufenden VfGH-Verfahren befasst. In einer Erklärung nach Ende ihrer Vollversammlung Anfang November betonten die Bischöfe, dass die Ehe wie bisher ausschließlich Paaren verschiedenen Geschlechts vorbehalten bleiben soll, weil das ihre Einzigartigkeit im Vergleich mit anderen Formen des Zusammenlebens ausmache. An die Adresse des VfGH sagten die Bischöfe damals, man vertraue darauf, “dass die Verfassungsrichter verantwortungsvoll über diese Frage beraten und an ihrer bisherigen Linie festhalten, wonach die Ehe aufgrund ihres spezifischen Wesens anders zu behandeln ist als alle anderen Partnerschaftsformen. ” Diese Rechtseinsicht decke sich zudem mit jener des Europäischen Gerichtshofes für Menschenrechte (EGMR). So habe der EGMR wiederholt festgestellt, dass es nicht diskriminierend ist, die Ehe allein der Verbindung von Mann und Frau vorzubehalten, erinnerten die Bischöfe.

Mit einem Bruch mit dem bisherigen Eheverständnis wäre nichts gewonnen, aber das Vertrauen in fundamentale Begriffe der Rechtsordnung, die im Wesen des Menschen wurzeln und für die Gesellschaft grundlegend sind, verloren, zeigten sich die Bischöfe überzeugt. Sie warnten vor einer Vielzahl neuer Fragen, die durch eine Uminterpretation von Ehe aufgeworfen würden. So sei im Blick auf andere Länder absehbar, dass durch die Preisgabe des bisherigen Eheverständnisses Forderungen nach Leihmutterschaft, Geschwisterehe oder auch Polygamie nur mehr schwer abzuwehren sein würden.

“Das Wesen von Ehe ist die dauerhafte Verbindung zwischen Mann und Frau und ihre Offenheit für gemeinsame Kinder. Dieses Verständnis von Ehe ist fundamental für das Zusammenleben der Menschen. Es spiegelt sich wider in der Europäischen Menschenrechtskonvention genauso wie in der geltenden österreichischen Rechtsordnung”, so die Bischöfe in ihrer Erklärung vor einem Monat.

Die Bischöfe würden alle Bemühungen unterstützen, Diskriminierungen Homosexueller zu beseitigen. Die Unterscheidung der Ehe von anderen Partnerschaftsformen sei aber nicht nur keine Diskriminierung, sondern vom rechtlichen Gleichheitsgebot her gefordert, wonach Ungleiches ungleich zu behandeln ist. Der Unterschied zwischen der Ehe und einer homosexuellen Verbindung sei so wesentlich, dass der Ehebegriff nicht auch auf sie ausgeweitet werden könne, ohne dass dabei der Sinn von Ehe verloren ginge: die natürliche Generationenfolge durch gemeinsame Kinder und das Recht von Kindern auf Vater und Mutter. Die Bischöfen verwiesen dabei auf die auch in Österreich geltende Kinderrechtskonvention, wonach Kinder grundsätzlich ein Recht haben, ihren leiblichen Vater und ihre leibliche Mutter zu kennen und von ihnen erzogen zu werden.

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