Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

Record turnout for Paris March for Life: unprecedented support from Catholic Church

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits
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January 23, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The 8th annual March for Life attracted a record number of French pro-lifers on Sunday.

This year’s march was considered especially crucial by local pro-lifers, since 2012 will see presidential and legislative elections in France. While the abortion issue has been more or less ignored in political debate in recent years, the organizers of the March for Life hope that the increasingly popular event will help draw attention to the issue.

One of the more hopeful signs this year was the increasing support of the French hierarchy of the Catholic Church for the event, including a surprising about-face from the Paris cardinal.

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Just before the 2009 edition of the March for Life, Cardinal André Vingt-Trois had clearly dissociated himself from the initiative during an interview on the official Parisian Catholic radio station, Radio Notre Dame. The cardinal suggested that from a “tactical” standpoint, “I don’t think the objective should be to yell things from the rooftops: what’s needed is work, to help with the work. And if you’re serious about that, results will follow and you’ll be heard.”

However, since then Pope Benedict XVI has sent messages of support to the Paris March for Life in 2011 and again this year.

Increasing pressure from pro-life Catholics, a growing number of bishops throwing their weight behind the March – 32 in total – and the enthusiasm of the young generation of Parisian priests have tipped the balance. In November Cardinal Vingt-Trois, in his final speech to the Assembly of the French episcopate, named the March for Life as “one of the means of action Christians choose” to promote respect for human life.

As a result, the March for Life was announced in many parishes and dioceses this year. The total number of marchers was up at least 20%, with an unprecedented number of diocesan priests from the Paris region taking part.

Cardinal Barbarin, primate of Gaul and archbishop of Lyons, sent his personal blessing: “May God bless you all, who will be taking part in the March tomorrow. My prayer will join yours, so that your March may bear fruit, and bring light and peace to our country.”

Three bishops attended the March in person. Mgr. Marc Aillet, bishop of Bayonne, told LifeSiteNews that he came to accompany the members of his flock who came to Paris for the occasion.

“I encourage the Catholic faithful to commit themselves to promote the culture of life and the Gospel of Life,” he said.

“I believe one of the ways to proclaim the Gospel of Life is to proclaim it in the streets, peacefully, joyfully and positively, as I believe it is being done today. That is why I think I am in my role as a pastor in accompanying and encouraging the faithful who are really committing themselves, and who sometimes give their life for this great cause.”

Noting that the “fears” which marked previous years are slowly being dispersed, Mgr. Aillet spoke of the new hope which is growing for life thanks to the presence of many young people and families.

More and more young people are present each year at the March for Life. Jean-Marie Le Mené, president of the Fondation Jerôme-Lejeune – which perpetuates the work of the famed French pro-life geneticist for children with Down’s syndrome – has been taking part in the March since its first year. He commented that a large part of the battle has already been won as young people who weren’t even born when the French abortion law came into effect in 1975 have heard the pro-life message and are ready to take up the battle without being hampered by preconceived ideas. “We all know that demography is what makes geopolitics. I think that is also true in the area of law-making.”

The Paris March for Life explicitly demands “laws for life,” support for the traditional family and an end to public measures that increasingly undermine respect for human life. The media kit for the March included a list of the many unfortunate measures taken by the government since Nicolas Sarkozy was elected into office. They include free distribution of condoms in high schools, social security refunds for morning-after pills, increased screening for Down’s syndrome and other genetic illnesses, propaganda for contraception and gender ideology in all publicly funded schools, increasing alignment of civil unions on marriage, and the financial reevaluation of abortions to make the activity more attractive to hospital doctors. More and more politicians of Sarkozy’s governing UMP party are making their support for homosexual “marriage” and adoption known.

To date, only one party has explicitly promised to abolish French laws that make abortion legal: the “Parti de la France” was largely represented at the March. The Christian Democrat Party was represented by its president, Christine Boutin. She intends to create better conditions to “welcome life” but is stopping short of advocating for abolishing legal abortion.

Boutin told the glossy women’s magazine Elle: “I do not want to question the principle of the abortion laws, even though my own position is public knowledge. I am not favorable to abortion. It is, I think, a tragedy. I think the trivialization of abortion is not a good thing. That being said, it seems to me to be necessary that one should be able to accompany women who are facing difficulties.”

Over 220,000 legal abortions are performed every year in France and numbers are rising, while France is one of the world’s most contracepting nations.


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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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