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Browsing News Entries

Scotland's rise in anti-Catholic crimes prompts call for government action

Glasgow, Scotland, Aug 15, 2017 / 01:50 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Crimes motivated by anti-Catholicism are on the rise in Scotland, and a leading Catholic spokesman has said the government must take more specific action to combat the trend.

“Were any other type of crime to be dominated so completely by a single type of behavior, we might expect a targeted strategy to emerge, promoted by the authorities as a response to a particular problem,” said Peter Kearney, director of the Scottish Catholic Media Office, in a forthcoming essay for The Scotsman.

Kearney compared the need for a targeted strategy to campaigns against mobile phone use while driving or drunk driving. These specific actions are targeted, rather than a generic campaign for “safe driving.”

“The approach is sensible and logical: before a problem can be tackled, it must first be identified and addressed,” he said. “Surprisingly, this doesn’t happen when it comes to religious intolerance and the criminal behavior which goes with it.”

There were a total of 719 charges related to religious prejudice in Scotland in 2016-2017, an increase from 642 in the period of 2015-2016.

Roman Catholicism was the most frequent target of abuse, making up 57 percent of these charges, numbering 384, in the latest period – an increase from 299 in 2015-2016. Catholics make up about 17 percent of the population.

Kearney suggested the figures show that Scottish society “remains scarred by past hatreds and tumults.” His Scottish Catholic Media Office is accountable to the Bishops Conference of Scotland.

Church leaders are expected to meet with Annabelle Ewing, the community safety minister. Kearney said recent exchanges in parliament indicated “the government’s unwillingness to adopt a name and shame approach to religious hate crime.”

He said cabinet secretary Angela Constance gave a “vague” response to concerns.

The figures regarding the crimes come in the Scottish government’s latest report, “Religiously Aggravated Offending in Scotland 2016-2017.”

Charges of religious aggravation were concentrated in Glasgow. In about half of all prejudice-related charges, the accused was under the influence of alcohol. About 41 percent of all charges involved accused perpetrators under the age of 30. Police officers were targeted for religiously aggravated abuse in about 44 percent of the charges.

Other religions were also targeted. There were 165 charges motivated by prejudice against Protestantism in 2016-2017, a slight increase from the previous period, and 113 charges involving anti-Islam prejudice, a slight decrease from the previous period. Anti-Jewish charges numbered 23.

About half of the charges came under laws targeting sectarianism in soccer. The Scottish Labour Party has proposed to repeal those laws, with support from several other parties in Parliament.

 

Twelve killed by falling tree before Marian procession in Portugal

Funchal, Portugal, Aug 15, 2017 / 11:44 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A tree fell on a crowd taking part in the largest religious festival in Portugal's Madeira region on Tuesday, killing 12 persons and injuring 52, according to local press reports.

The 200 year-old tree fell on the crowd at Nossa Senhora do Monte parish in Funchal, the capital of Portugal's autonomous region of Madeira, an archipelago in the Atlantic ocean, Aug. 15.

The faithful were preparing to celebrate a procession in honor of Madeira's patronness, Our Lady of Monte. Bishop Antonio José Cavaco Carrilho of Funchal said Mass before the procession, which was cancelled.

The Portuguese government is providing medical support to the victims.

Madeira has declared three days of mourning in light of the tragedy.

Archbishop Jorge Ferreira da Costa Ortiga of Braga tweeted, saying, “Faith is not life insurance, but a secure life. My prayers are for the victims of Funchal and for their families.”

 

A fé não é um seguro de vida, mas uma vida segura. A minha oração pelas vítimas do #Funchal e seus familiares. #tragédia #Madeira #Senhora pic.twitter.com/66USOAan5h

— D. Jorge Ortiga (@djorgeortiga) August 15, 2017  

Abortion-pill reversal: The next frontier of informed-consent laws?

Indianapolis, Ind., Aug 15, 2017 / 06:04 am (National Catholic Register).- Medication abortions are on their way to becoming the dominant method of abortion in the U.S. But lawmakers are starting to look at whether to change their state’s informed-consent laws to let women know of an experimental treatment that could possibly reverse the effects of a progesterone-blocking abortion.

Indiana state Rep. Ronald Bacon, (R-Chandler), told the National Catholic Register that he heard about the “abortion-pill reversal” technique during a presentation by Fort Wayne obstetrician-gynecologist Christina Francis. Bacon, who is Catholic, thought that women contemplating abortion, or who have taken mifepristone – the first pill in the two-pill RU-486 abortion process – should at least know the possibility existed.

In the event they wanted to reconsider their choice for abortion, Bacon said they should know about this possibility and who they should contact from the information packet that abortion doctors are required to give their patients.

“We should at least try to give women as much information as possible,” he said.

Bacon’s legislation passed Indiana’s House of Representatives Feb. 27 on a 54-41 vote, but never made it through the state senate. Other pro-life lawmakers balked at the law, citing the need for more studies.

Still, Bacon said the media coverage of the debate did create awareness.

“I felt at least the word got out there,” he said.  

Rapidly Changing Industry

First-trimester abortion accounts for 91 percent of all abortions performed in the U.S. But RU-486 medication abortions account for nearly a third of all abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute. That figure is rising, and in some states, RU-486 accounts for half of all abortions.

In Scandinavian countries, that future has already arrived: Medication abortions account for 96 percent of abortions in Finland, 91 percent in Sweden and 86 percent in Norway.

Mifepristone is the first drug taken in the two-step RU-486 chemical abortion regimen. The first pill (also known as Mifeprex) blocks the hormone progesterone from bonding to the uterine wall, causing it to shed, killing the embryo by literally starving it to death. Approximately 24-48 hours later, a second pill called misoprostol (commercially known as Cytotec) is ingested to expel the deceased unborn child with the other contents of the uterus.

However, Dr. George Delgado, medical director of Culture of Life Family Services in San Diego, California, that runs the AbortionPillReversal.com program and its 24/7 hotline, has developed protocols designed to block the effects of mifepristone by flooding a woman’s body with progesterone, ideally within 72 hours of taking the abortion pill. The concept involves overwhelming Mifeprex with progesterone in order to save the uterine lining and allow women to exercise their choice to continue their pregnancies.

Delgado said he is in the process of submitting an article for publication to a peer-reviewed medical journal that “will describe over 200 cases of successful reversals.”

The article will build on another study published in the spring 2017 edition of Issues in Law and Medicine by his colleague Dr. Mary Davenport, which reviews studies on women who took mifepristone alone for abortion. The review, he said found the embryo survival rate to be between 8 and 25 percent.

Delgado said that upper limit of 25 percent will form the “historical control group” for comparing the embryo survival rates from their best progesterone-treatment protocols, which their data puts in the range of 60-70 percent.

“It does make a difference if a woman who changes her mind undergoes our reversal protocols,” he said.

Abortion-Pill Reversal

Many pro-life physicians and pro-life health centers across the country have now made abortion-pill reversal a treatment option to women.

Kathleen Eaton Bravo, founder of the Obria Medical Clinics and president of the Obria Foundation, told the National Catholic Register that Obria provides the progesterone treatment to women who request it. She said that as Obria’s telemedicine platform expands in more states, it will provide another mechanism for women searching for help after taking the first abortion pill.

“We have a much better opportunity to save lives this way,” she said. Bravo, who is a post-abortive mother, said when she had time to reflect on her surgical abortion decades ago, it was too late to do anything to save her child. But the woman who takes mifepristone in a doctor’s office actually has time in the privacy of her home to consider whether she really wants to go through with abortion before taking the second pill. At that point, she said, a woman who changes her mind and wants to keep her baby will turn to her smartphone and start searching for help.

“We have a much larger window of opportunity to save this child’s life if we can reach them through their smartphones,” Bravo said. “This is a much bigger opportunity to save lives than we’ve ever had through surgical abortions.”

Bravo said the best prevention against medication abortion is building relationships with abortion-vulnerable women so they never end up taking the abortion pill in the first place. She pointed out that Planned Parenthood’s abortion business model today is based on pre-existing relationships with clients: It utilizes telemedicine to connect with women and men and is providing them with health services. She noted that in California, Planned Parenthood is expanding into primary care and is starting to rebrand as “Melody Women’s Health.”

Bravo said that Obria is seeking to build those pre-existing relationships with women and men by connecting to them through Obria’s telemedicine platform and providing them with medical care and social support so that if they are in a crisis situation, they will turn to Obria first for help.

Model Legislation

So far, just three states have enacted changes to informed-consent laws related to informing women about abortion reversal.

Arkansas explicitly requires women to be told that it might be possible to reverse a mifepristone abortion. South Dakota’s legislation states that a woman does not have to continue the two-step abortion regimen if she changes her mind, and to look to the state health department’s website for information on reversal – none of which can be found there. Arizona passed and then repealed legislation requiring women to be informed that medication abortion could be reversed after a court challenge.

Lawmakers in a handful of other states have attempted to bring similar bills to their statehouses for consideration based on model legislation developed by Americans United for Life (AUL).

Denise Burke, AUL’s vice president of legal affairs, told the National Catholic Register that the organization believes women should know there’s a “possibility” that they could increase their chances of keeping their children with this treatment.

“This is empowering women to make the best decision for them and their families,” she said.

Burke said AUL has been in contact with a number of legislators that are contemplating bills for 2018. She hopes that the results of Delgado’s forthcoming study will bolster the case for lawmakers for making this knowledge part of the informed-consent process for abortion.

ACOG Opposed

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), however, has weighed against states changing their informed-consent laws. An ACOG spokesman referred to a position paper noting abortion-pill reversal has not been substantiated by the body of scientific evidence and is not recommended in ACOG’s clinical guidance on medication abortion.

ACOG’s paper noted that pregnancy will continue in 30-50 percent of women who take mifepristone alone and do not take misoprostol.

“Available research seems to indicate that in the rare situation where a woman takes mifepristone and then changes her mind, doing nothing and waiting to see what happens is just as effective as intervening with a course of progesterone,” it stated.

Dr. Gretchen Stuart, director of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s family-planning division, told the National Catholic Register that “laws that affect medical practice should be based on scientific evidence.”

“The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that medication abortion reversal is not supported by scientific evidence, and, therefore, this approach is not recommended,” she said.

Stuart also noted that Delgado’s previous report in the literature of women receiving progesterone injections was “too small a sample size to make scientific conclusions.”

In contrast, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists has lent its support to Delgado’s work.

Studies on the Way

Delgado told the National Catholic Register his latest findings will be published over the next several months. However, he stated the ACOG position paper cited figures for incomplete abortion, which are not the same figures as embryo survival. In the studies where doctors checked for the embryo’s survival with ultrasound, the embryo was already dead, even though the woman’s body had not begun the process of expelling the uterine contents.

In principle, he said women should know that reversal is an option “in case they change their minds” and be assured no scientific data indicates either mifepristone or progesterone treatments cause birth defects.

“We have evidence that using progesterone to reverse the effects of a mifepristone abortion is both safe and effective,” Delgado said.

Further studies demonstrating the effectiveness of Delgado’s technique will likely be needed before more legislators act on it. Rep. Bacon said he intends to bring his bill back to the statehouse once he can approach his fellow Indiana lawmakers with “more clinical proof.”

“I definitely will bring it back then.”

 

This article was originally published by the National Catholic Register.

 

In Christ, Mary brings new joy and meaning to mankind, Pope says

Vatican City, Aug 15, 2017 / 04:26 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On the Feast of the Assumption, Pope Francis said that in bringing Christ to the world, Mary also provides the joy and grace of her Son, which not only sustain us in difficulty, but are primarily intended for the weak and humble.

“Carrying Jesus, the Madonna also brings us a new joy, full of meaning; she brings us a new ability to pass with faith through the most painful and difficult moments; she brings us the capacity for mercy, forgiveness, understanding and supporting one another,” the Pope said Aug. 15.

Mary, he said, “is the model of faith and virtue,” and in contemplating her Assumption into Heaven, we give her thanks “because she always precedes us on the pilgrimage of life and of faith.”

We are also able to ask that she “guard us and sustain us, that we may have a strong faith, joyful and merciful; that she help us to be holy, to meet her, one day, in paradise,” he said.

Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims present for a special Angelus address given for the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, which is celebrated annually Aug. 15.

The dogma of the Assumption of Mary – also called the “Dormition of Mary” in the Eastern Churches – teaches that when Mary's earthly life ended, God assumed her body and soul into heaven.

The Assumption of Mary was a widely-held tradition even in the early centuries of the Church, and was a frequent meditation in the writings of saints throughout the centuries. However, it wasn't until 1950 that it was dogmatically defined by Pope Pius XII in the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus.

In his Angelus speech honoring the feast, Pope Francis turned to the day's Gospel reading from Luke, in which Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth, who is miraculously pregnant with John the Baptist, despite her advanced age.

He noted how when Mary arrived to her cousin, having gone “in haste,” Elizabeth immediately proclaims, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”

In this moment, the greatest gift that Mary brought not just to Elizabeth, but to the whole world, “is Jesus, who already lives in her,” Francis said.

“And he lives not only by faith and waiting, as in many other women in the Old Testament: from the Virgin Mary Jesus took on human flesh, for his mission of salvation.”

The Pope then noted how preceding the encounter, Elisabeth and her husband Zechariah were filled with sadness by the fact that they couldn't have children. However, in place of this, “now there is the joy of a child on the way: a child who will become the great John the Baptist, precursor of the Messiah.”

And when Mary arrives, this joy “overflows and bursts from their hearts,” he said, “because the invisible but real presence of Jesus fills all meaning: life, family, the salvation of the people...everything!”

Mary herself expresses this joy when she speaks the “stupendous prayer” of the Magnificat, which is “a song of joy to God who works great things through humble people, unknown to the world, like Mary herself, like her spouse Joseph, and also like the village in which they lived, Nazareth.”

In off-the-cuff remarks, the Pope pointed to “the great things the Lord does in the world with the humble, because humility is like a void that leaves room for God.”

The humble person “is strong because they are humble, not because they are powerful,” he said, and urged those present to ask themselves “how is my humility?” and to reflect on the answer.

Going on, Francis said the Magnificat prayer is an expression of God's mercy and fidelity, as well as his plan for salvation, which he carries out with “the little ones and the poor, with those who have faith in him” and trust in his Word, as Mary did.

Jesus' arrival to Elizabeth and Zechariah through Mary brings not only a climate of joy and communion, but also “a climate of faith which leads to hope, prayer and praise,” the Pope said, noting that the same thing can happen for each person today.

Francis closed his address asking Mary to bring to each person and their families and communities “that immense gift, that unique grace which we must always ask for before and above all other graces that are also in our heart: the grace that is Jesus Christ!”

After leading pilgrims in the Angelus, the Pope offered a special prayer for all those who are suffering due to various global situations.

He entrusted to Mary and her intercession “the anxieties and pains of the peoples who in many parts of the world suffer due to natural disasters, social tensions or conflicts,” asking that she obtain for them “consolation and a future of peace and harmony!”

In addition to the various conflicts raging throughout the world, the Pope's words come after one woman lost her life and several others were injured when a car rammed into a group of protesters at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. earlier this week, adding fuel to what were already-escalated racial tensions in the United States.

The Pope's appeal also comes as many South Asian and African countries such as India, Bangladesh and Sierra Leone face heavy flooding and mudslides, which so far have led to hundreds, if not thousands, of deaths.