Rebecca Millette

EXCLUSIVE: Jamaican missionaries lead effort to stop abortion, launch massive pro-life center

Rebecca Millette
Rebecca Millette
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KINGSTON, Jamaica, June 20, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Although abortion is currently illegal in the Caribbean island of Jamaica, the effort to fight recent attempts at its legalization, as well as the back alley abortion trade, has required an enormous amount of energy and ingenuity.

The leaders in this effort are The Missionaries of the Poor (MOP), an international monastic order of brothers and priests, with over 500 members worldwide, founded in 1981 by Rev. Fr. Richard Ho Lung in Kingston, Jamaica.  The order also recently started a sisterhood for nuns as part of their work helping pregnant women and new mothers.

Relying exclusively on donations, the missionaries are dedicated to serving the poorest of the poor, the homeless, HIV/AIDS victims, mentally handicapped youth and adults, and the elderly.  Currently, they sustain missions in Jamaica, Haiti, Africa, India, the Philippines, and North Carolina.

LifeSiteNews recently interviewed Rev. Fr. Charles Susai, Secretary General and Project Co-ordinator of the MOP, to learn more about the group’s work.

The MOP, Rev. Susai told LSN, not only lead the way in fighting efforts to legalize abortion in Parliament, but they seek to provide an alternative to abortion for women in crisis pregnancies through their missionary efforts.

The Holy Innocents Women in Crisis Center, established by the MOP, is expected to be in operation in December 2011.  The massive facility in Kingston, Jamaica will house a daycare centre for up to 200 children, counseling rooms, medical centre and homes for pregnant women and new mothers.  The entire endeavor relies on the generous volunteer work of local medical personnel and donations.

A Pro-Life Apostolate

The MOP first felt the need for a pro-life apostolate in 2006 after two of the brothers found aborted babies thrown in a garbage dump.  Then, in 2008, international organizations and lobbyists, such as the European Union, put heavy pressure on Jamaica to legalize abortion, with the promise of funding. Jamaican politicians responded by tabling an abortion bill to legalize killing the unborn. 

The bill went as far as to say that if doctors refused to perform abortions they could be penalized for up to six months in prison and charged $250,000 Jamaican dollars.

“Jamaica is particularly aimed at because we are the biggest English-speaking island in the Caribbean. If you get through Jamaica, you can get through the entire Caribbean region,” MOP founder Rev. Ho Lung told Jamaica’s Gleaner News in March 2011.

With the threat of legalized abortion looming, Rev. Ho Lung, who is well known in Jamaica, “took the abortion debate to the streets.”

Together with lead members of the ‘Coalition for the Defense of Life’ in Jamaica, he spearheaded a series of pro-life breakfasts designed to open the abortion debate and inform concerned parties, gathering together pastors, teachers, doctors, students, professionals, and entrepreneurs.

Over a period of six to eight months in 2009, the breakfasts were held almost every other week.  Doctors Doreen West and Wayne West of the Coalition in Defense for Life would show the reality of abortion and explain how, from a medical point of view, abortion would not solve any problems.

“We initiated it, but it’s the people who are calling for more of these meetings because they don’t know much about abortion and they want to learn,” Rev. Ho Lung said.

According to a Don Anderson poll survey from 2009, published in Jamaica’s Daily Observer News, just under 70 percent of adult Jamaicans were against abortion. Sixty-seven percent said that they opposed abortion, 15 percent were in favor, and 18 percent were “ambivalent” on the issue. The polling company concluded: “it is safe to make the point that Jamaicans are pro-life supporters.”

Rev. Ho Lung also confronted the issue before a Joint Select Committee of Parliament, demanding that they listen to the voice of the people and deliberate the issue fully before pushing abortion legislation. He appealed to Jamaica’s Christian heritage and its Constitution, which, he said, was designed to promote life.

Following debate, the Jamaican Parliament quietly put the abortion bill aside, protecting the legal status quo in the country.

The Holy Innocents Center

Rev. Ho Lung says his motivation for the Holy Innocents Women in Crisis Center in Kingston came in response to a question Parliamentarians put to him, “what is your answer to the abortion issue?”

While he agreed that for many women it could be a burden to have another child, Rev. Ho Lung has encouraged women to bear the burden, while simultaneously seeking to provide the means to make their burden lighter. “These little babies are either people or they are not people,” he said. “We cannot say they are tissues they might be in the womb but they have a separate existence from the mother.”

The title for the Center came from the Biblical account of the holy innocents, who were killed by King Herod in his search for the Christ Child.  Construction began on the Center in January 2010, and will open in December. However, pregnant mothers and teenage pregnant girls already receive support, encouragement, and aid through the MOP.

Although the MOP have over 200 brothers and 6 priests working in Kingston, in order to better provide care for the mothers and their babies, the missionaries founded an order of sisters.  Currently, the order has six nuns who will be working as full-time directors of the new facility.

Two of the sisters, both from Canada, have six and thirty years experience, respectively, in nursing.  There are also two American sisters and two Jamaican sisters, and other young women interested in the order.

At the medical center pregnant mothers will be offered assistance, such as counseling and medical support.  The facility already has doctors and nurses from Kingston who have offered to volunteer their time, as well as others in clinics where the pregnant mothers can be sent for further consultation. 

“The doctors have been extremely kind, knowing the type of work we do, so they volunteer,” Rev. Susai told LSN.

In addition to the doctors and nurses, 60 volunteers help to run the facility, which is capable of housing up to 20 women.  The missionaries will hire some paid staff to work in the daycare, which will support up to 200 babies.

Sr. Joanne Belmonte of the MOP testified that receiving an ultrasound machine was, for the missionaries, a “day of joy and tears.”  “I don’t know who was more excited, the moms or us,” she said.

“This machine will be a very useful tool/weapon in our new ministry of trying to protect unborn babies in the mother’s womb,” she added. “That is what Holy Innocents is all about - reaching out to these moms/women offering them a different ending.”

“We will be offering counseling for the pregnant women in crisis, along with spiritual support and Pre and Post Natal care. If need be we will offer lodging for the pregnant women. After the birth of the baby and if mom has to go to work/school, we will offer Daycare.”

Funding the Pro-Life Cause

Despite the tremendous generosity of doctors, nurses, and volunteer staff who donate their time to the cause, the MOP require further funding, volunteers, and supplies in order to be able to open the Holy Innocents Center this December.

“We are not very good beggars,” Rev. Susai told LSN, “we trust a lot in the Lord.”

The group fundraises through a musical group that does traveling performances, as well as through responses to their newsletter and friends of the missionaries.

“We need volunteers as well monetary support given the fact that our works are all done free of cost,” Rev. Fr. Charles told LSN.

To learn more about the Missionaries of the Poor, visit their website http://www.missionariesofthepoor.org/

Rev. Fr. Richard Ho Lung, founder of the MOP, also appears weekly on the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) on a show called “Church and the Poor”.

To support or volunteer with the Missionaries of the Poor in their apostolate and pro-life work, click here.

Donations may also be sent to the MOP in the U.S.:
Missionaries of the Poor
P.O. Box 29893
Atlanta, GA 30359


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Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

African researchers warn early sexual activity increases risk of cancers

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

A report on rising cancer rates in Africa delivered at a conference in Namibia last week warned that oral contraceptives and engaging in sexual activity from a young age lead to an increased risk of breast and reproductive system cancers.

Researchers presented the "2014 Integrated Africa Cancer Fact Sheet & Summary Score Card" during the 8th Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer in Africa (SCCA) conference, held in Windhoek, Namibia from July 20 to 22, noted that cancer is a growing health problem in many developing countries and that breast and cervical cancer are the most common forms affecting African women.

The report said that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) play a major role in reproductive system cancers and that young girls who engage in sexual activity risk getting, among other STDs, the human papilloma virus (HPV), some strains of which are linked to cervical cancer.

The report said although HPV infections are common in healthy women, they are usually fought off by the body’s immune system, with no discernible symptoms or health consequences.

The Cancer Association of South Africa points out that of the scores of HPV types, 14 of the more than 40 sexually transmitted varieties are considered "high risk" for causing serious illness, while two, HPV-16 and HPV-18, are linked to cervical cancer.

“Long-term use of oral contraceptives is also associated with increased risk [of cancer], and women living with HIV-AIDS are at increased risk of cervical cancer,” the report said.

Dr. Thandeka Mazibuko, a South African oncologist, told the conference attendees that when an 18-year-old is diagnosed with cervical cancer, “this means sex is an important activity in her life and she indulged from a young age.”

Mazibuko said the standard treatment for cancer of the cervix is seven weeks of radiation therapy.

“After the treatment they cannot have sex with their husbands or partners. They cannot bear children because everything has been closed up. Some may still have the womb but radiation makes them infertile,” Mazibuko said, according to a report in The Namibian.

Statistics from the Cancer Association of Namibia show that cases of cervical cancer have risen from 129 in 2005 to 266 in 2012.

The SCCA Conference theme was, "Moving forward to end Cervical Cancer by 2030: Universal Access to Cervical Cancer Prevention."

In his keynote address, host and Namibian President Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba urged African countries to help each other to expand and modernize health care delivery in the continent.

"Within the context of the post-2015 Development Agenda and sustainable development goals, the provision of adequate health care to African women and children must be re-emphasized," said the president, according to AllAfrica.

The Namibian leader urged mothers to breastfeed their children for at least six months as a measure to prevent breast cancer.


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Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary

Allow ‘lethal injection’ for poor to save on palliative care: Lithuanian health minister

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By Hilary White

Euthanasia is a solution for terminally ill poor people who cannot afford palliative care and who do not want to “see their families agonize” over their suffering, Lithuania’s health minister said last week.

In an interview on national television, Minister Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė added that the Belgian law on child euthanasia ought to be “taken into account” as well. 

Šalaševičiūtė told TV3 News that Lithuania, a country whose population is 77 percent Catholic, is not a welfare state and cannot guarantee quality palliative care for all those in need of it. The solution, therefore, would be “lethal injection.”

“It is time to think through euthanasia in these patients and allow them to make a decision: to live or die,” she said.

Direct euthanasia remains illegal in the Balkan state, but activists tried to bring it to the table in 2012. A motion to drop the planned bill was passed in the Parliament in March that year in a vote of 75 to 14. Since then the country has undergone a change in government in which the far-left Social Democrats have formed the largest voting bloc.

Šalaševičiūtė is a member of Parliament for the Social Democrats, the party originally established in the late 19th century – re-formed in the late 1980s – from Marxist principles and now affiliated with the international Party of European Socialists and Socialist International.

Fr. Andrius Narbekovas, a prominent priest, lecturer, physician, bioethicist, and member of the government’s bioethics committee, called the suggestion “satanic,” according to Delfi.lt. He issued a statement saying it is the purpose of the Ministry of Health to “protect the health and life, instead of looking for ways to take away life.”

“We understand that people who are sick are in need of funds. But a society that declares itself democratic, should very clearly understand that we have to take care of the sick, not kill them,” he said.


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Islamists in Mosul mark Christian homes with an Arabic "N" for Nazarene.
Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.

We must open wide our doors to Iraq’s Christians

Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.
By Gualberto Garcia Jones J.D.

On July 18, the largest Christian community in Iraq, the Chaldean Catholics of Mosul, were given a grotesque ultimatum: leave your ancestral home, convert to Islam, or die.

All but forgotten by the 1.2 billion Catholics of the world, these last Christians who still speak Jesus’ native tongue of Aramaic and live in the land of Abraham and Jonah are being wiped out before our very eyes.

As a way of issuing a thinly-veiled threat, reminiscent of the Nazi persecution of the Jews, the Arabic letter “N” (for Nazarean) has been painted on the outside of the homes of all known Christians in Mosul.

These threats, issued by the fanatical Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) known for its bloodthirsty rampage of executions, have been taken very seriously by the several hundred thousand Christians in Mosul who have left with little more than the clothes they were wearing. 

At least most of these Christians were able to flee and find temporary protection among the Kurds in their semi-autonomous region.  However the Kurds do not have the resources to defend or shelter the Chaldean Christians for much longer.

On Monday, during an interview on Fox News, Republican U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, who recently joined with 54 other members of the House of Representatives in a letter to President Obama asking him to act to protect these communities, stated that while Iraqi President Maliki had sent military flights to Mosul to evacuate Shiite Muslims, the US has done nothing to protect the Chaldean Christians.  Rep. Wolf also stated emphatically that President Obama has done “almost nothing” about the genocide taking place.

The silence from the White House is deafening.  But the lack of leadership from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in America has been shocking as well.

Nevertheless, the plight of these Iraqi Christians is beginning to be taken seriously.   This is due in large part to the heroic efforts of local Iraqi religious leaders like Chaldean Patriarch Sako, who has gone on a whirlwind tour of the world to alert us all of the plight of these Iraqi Christians.  In a statement demonstrating his character, he told the Christians of Iraq last week, “We are your shepherds, and with our full responsibility towards you we will stay with you to the end, will not leave you, whatever the sacrifices.”

Before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was launched there were approximately 1.5 to 2 million Christians living in Iraq.  Today, there are believed to be less than 200,000.  The numbers speak for themselves.

Now that the world is beginning to be aware of the genocide in Northern Iraq, many of us ask ourselves: what can we do?  As citizens and as Christians blessed to live in nations with relative peace and security, what can we do?

The answer is quite simple and unexpected.  Demand that our government and church pull its head out of the sand and follow France. Yes, France.  

Yesterday, in a heroic gesture of Christian solidarity that would make Joan of Arc proud, the government of France opened wide its doors to the persecuted Iraqi Christians.  

”France is outraged by these abuses that it condemns with the utmost firmness," Laurent Fabius, France's foreign minister, and Bernard Cazeneuve, France's interior minister, said in a joint statement on Monday.

"The ultimatum given to these communities in Mosul by ISIS is the latest tragic example of the terrible threat that jihadist groups in Iraq, but also in Syria and elsewhere, pose to these populations that are historically an integral part of this region," they added. "We are ready, if they wish, to facilitate their asylum on our soil.  We are in constant contact with local and national authorities to ensure everything is done to protect them.”

The French statement drives home three crucial elements that every government, especially the United States, should communicate immediately:

  1. Recognize the genocide and name the perpetrators and victims.

  2. Officially condemn what is happening in the strongest terms.

  3. Offer a solution that includes cooperation with local authorities but which leads by making solid commitments such as offering asylum or other forms of protection.

With regard to the Church, we should look to the Chaldean Patriarch and the Iraqi bishops who shared their expectations explicitly in an open letter to “all people of conscience in Iraq and around the world” to take “practical actions to assure our people, not merely expressions of condemnation.”  Noticeably, the last section of the letter from the Iraqi bishops, before a final prayer to God, is an expression of thanks to the Kurdish government, which has welcomed them not just with “expressions” of goodwill but, like France, with a sacrificial hospitality.

On Friday, July 25, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops did issue a statement, but unfortunately it lacked much in terms of leadership or solutions.  We should encourage our bishops to do better than that, be bolder and stronger for our persecuted brothers and sisters, name names and offer concrete sacrificial aid. In a word, be more like the French.

In 1553, Rome welcomed the Chaldean church into the fold of the Catholic Church.  Nearly 500 years later, Catholic Americans must find ways to welcome these persecuted people into our country, into our churches, and into our own homes if need be.

I say, I am with you St. Joan of Arc.   I am with you, France.  I am with you, Chaldeans!

Gualberto Garcia Jones is the Executive Director of the International Human Rights Group, a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, that seeks to advance the fundamental rights to life, the natural family, and religious liberty through international law and international relations. 


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