EXCLUSIVE: Jamaican missionaries lead effort to stop abortion, launch massive pro-life center
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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Planned Parenthood closes Iowa abortion facility because of low business
DUBUQUE, Iowa, May 3, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Planned Parenthood closed an Iowa abortion facility on Friday, noting low business that left the facility unsustainable from a financial standpoint.
Although Planned Parenthood of the Heartland announced in January that it planned to close the Dubuque, Iowa, office, pro-life sidewalk counselors were overjoyed on Friday to read the sign in the window that read: “Our office is closed, effective April 28, 2016.”
The office did not perform surgical abortions but did provide medication abortions to the community of about 58,000.
“Rejoice with us for the lives of unborn children saved!” Iowa Right to Life said in a statement after the closure.
As with numerous other closures, Planned Parenthood, which styles itself a provider of “care no matter what,” emphasized it was closing its doors to preserve its bottom line.
“After assessing the shifting health care landscape, changing demographics, and the challenges of operating in areas with low patient volumes, we made the tough decision to close the Dubuque Health Center,” the group said in an announcement. “This change allows us to expand hours and see more patients in Cedar Rapids, where there is unmet demand due to lack of clinician hours.”
“While we regret making this change, we know it is a necessary step in order to continue our mission to provide, promote and protect reproductive and sexual health through health services, education and advocacy. Patients have been notified, and if they wish, they can receive a broader array of services at our health center in Cedar Rapids, where we have expanded hours to accommodate more patient,” Planned Parenthood said.
American Life League’s vice president, Jim Sedlak, remembers speaking to the county right to life group nine years ago.
“I told them at the time that they needed to protest outside Planned Parenthood at least once a week,” he said. “They told me they would do better than that. Over the last eight years, these dedicated pro-lifers were outside Planned Parenthood every hour it was open. And now...it’s closed for good.”
That aligns with advice that David Bereit, the founder of 40 Days for Life, once told young people who wanted to know how to end abortion.
Be loving and compassionate, he said.
“Your peaceful, loving presence out there flies in the face of all the stereotypes they want to throw onto us,” he added. “When you show them love instead of condemnation, when you show them peace and joy instead of anger and judgment, that will begin to break down the walls.”
Iowa Right to Life credited just such tactics with closing an office in Red Oak that performed webcam abortions. “Planned Parenthood shut down in Red Oak in large part because of the constant, prayerful presence outside their clinic,” the group said.
Upon hearing of the latest abortion facility shuttering, the Dubuque County Right to Life said that Planned Parenthood isn't the only group that will move its base of operations. “We will probably put our efforts in Cedar Rapids and will continue to spread the pro-life message,” said Executive Director Marian Bourek.
Ted Cruz confronted by mom who supports aborting disabled babies…just like hers
MARION, Indiana, May 3, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Senator Ted Cruz was met on the campaign trail by a mother who strongly opposed a state pro-life law that would have protected children with birth conditions – like her own.
Andrea DeBruler, a 41-year-old nurse, confronted the presidential hopeful in the city of Marion as Cruz campaigned with Gov. Mike Pence.
DeBruler first asked Cruz, then Pence, about House Bill 1337, which bans abortions performed due to the child's race, sex, or disability, such as Down syndome.
DeBruler held up a picture of her daughter, Jania, who was born with cerebral palsy. “This was a choice,” she said.
She asked Sen. Cruz if he supported the bill, which made Indiana the second state in the nation to ban abortion for Down syndrome, after North Dakota.
“I'm not Governor Pence,” he replied. “But I'll tell you this: I believe in protecting human life.”
Pence, who endorsed Cruz in today's make-or-break Indiana primary, listened to her objections.
“I'm not here as a Republican, I'm not here as a Democrat. I'm here as a woman, a woman with choices, choices that you guys should not make,” DeBruler said.
After hearing that she felt many families lacked sufficient resources to care for children, especially in an area like Marion, Gov. Pence offered to connect her with social services.
“God bless her,” he said, looking at Jania's picture, “and God bless you.”
Though it may be unusual to encounter a woman arguing for the right to abort her own child, the governor handled it calmly. Pence had specifically reflected on “precious moments” he spent with “families of children with disabilities, especially those raising children with Down syndrome” when he signed the bill into law in March.
"We are truly thankful for the passage of this historic legislation by the Indiana House and applaud the new civil rights protections this bill creates for unborn children, as well as the new provisions this bill establishes for the humane final disposition of aborted babies," Indiana Right to Life President Mike Fichter said at the time.
DeBruler told the UK media outlet The Independent that H.B. 1337 “means you can no longer have an abortion based on deformity. I’m against this law, because I think it should be a woman’s choice” to abort for any reason.
Congressional Democrats made similar statements during hearings last month for Rep. Trent Franks' federal Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), with Congressman John Conyers saying the bill is “patently unconstitutional,” because a woman has the right to abort a child before viability for any reason.
Both leading contenders for the Democratic nomination expressed their displeasure with the law, which protects unborn children from racial or sexual discrimination, as well as discrimination on the basis of an inborn trait like mental capacity.
When Gov. Pence signed the law, Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted:
The decision to have an abortion is for a woman to make, not the Governor of Indiana. https://t.co/1VOroXS2br— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 24, 2016
Hillary Clinton later said, “I commend the women of this state, young and old, for standing up against this governor and this legislature.”
DeBruler told The Independent, despite her comment about not being a Democrat or a Republican, she is in fact a Democrat and will vote for Hillary Clinton in today's primary.
The moral challenge to Cardinal Wuerl in pending Notre Dame outrage
May 3, 2016 (CatholicCulture) -- In 2009, when the University of Notre Dame invited President Barack Obama to deliver a commencement address, dozens of American bishops lodged loud public protests. Yet this year, as Notre Dame prepares to confer an even greater honor on Vice President Joe Biden (together with former House Speaker John Boehner), the silence from the hierarchy is deafening.
Back in 2009, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston said that Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama was “very disappointing,”, while then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan termed it a “big mistake.” The late Bishop John D’Arcy, then leader of the Indiana diocese in which the university is located, spoke of “the terrible breach which has taken place between Notre Dame and the Church.” For the first time in his 25 years of service to the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, Bishop D’Arcy declined to attend the Notre Dame commencement exercises; instead he addressed a protest rally organized by pro-life students, faculty, alumni, and staff.
These prelates and others explained their dismay by referring to the statement “Catholics in Political Life,” released in 2004 by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. In that document, the bishops reflected on the need to maintain a consistent public witness in defense of human life, and therefore to distance themselves from public officials who support legal abortion. The statement set forth a clear policy that Catholic institutions should not give public honors to “pro-choice” politicians:
The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.
By giving President Obama an honorary degree and offering him an opportunity to speak at graduation, Notre Dame clearly violated that policy. University officials could offer only garbled partial defenses, claiming that they were honoring Obama not because he supports unrestricted abortion, but because he is President of the United States.
This year the university cannot offer even that lame defense of the decision to award the Laetare Medal to Vice President Biden. Unlike Obama, Biden is a Catholic, and by granting him this award the university is explicitly saying that the Vice President has “illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity.” In other words, Notre Dame is honoring Vice President Biden as a Catholic political leader despite his unwavering support for abortion and same-sex marriage.
Give credit to Bishop Kevin Rhoades, the current leader of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, for raising a lonely voice of protest. “I believe it is wrong for Notre Dame to honor any ‘pro-choice’ public official with the Laetare Medal, even if he/she has other positive accomplishments in public service,” Bishop Rhoades said. But if any other bishops have joined him in that rebuke to Notre Dame, I must have missed their public announcements.
Some observers, of liberal political sympathies, have argued that it is wrong to honor John Boehner, too, because the former Speaker disagreed with the US bishops’ stand on immigration. This is a tired old argument, conflating disagreement with the bishops on a prudential political decision with defiance of Church teaching on a fundamental moral principle. But it is noteworthy that Notre Dame officials saw fit to make a joint award, no doubt in a cynical effort to dodge political criticism by choosing one honoree from each side of the political spectrum.
“We live in a toxic political environment where poisonous invective and partisan gamesmanship pass for political leadership,” said Father John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, in announcing the Laetare Award recipients. (Notice the pre-emptive suggestion that those who criticize the school’s choices may be engaged in “poisonous invective.”) He went on to make a tortured argument that although Notre Dame is honoring two politicians, it is not honoring them for what they have done in their political careers:
In recognizing both men, Notre Dame is not endorsing the policy positions of either, but celebrating two lives dedicated to keeping our democratic institutions working for the common good through dialogue focused on the issues and responsible compromise.
By now we all know the familiar dodges. The politician claims to oppose abortion personally, but to feel a delicate reticence about imposing his views on others. He says that we must be willing to compromise (even on life-and-death decisions). He insists that he is not “pro-abortion” but “pro-choice.”
That last bubble of rhetoric was unceremoniously burst by Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC, when he celebrated Mass at Georgetown after Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richard had delivered a lecture there. “The word ‘choice’ is a smokescreen,” he said, “behind which those killing unborn children take refuge. Every chance you get, blow that smoke away!”
Now Cardinal Wuerl himself has a chance to “blow that smoke away.” As things stand, he is scheduled to celebrate Mass at the Notre Dame commencement, and to receive an honorary degree. He could pull out; he could absent himself from the ceremonies, to ensure that he does not become part of an event that pays homage to a “pro-choice” Catholic politician.
And there is a precedent. Back in 2009, the Harvard legal scholar (and former US ambassador to the Holy See) Mary Ann Glendon was chosen to receive the Laetare Award. But when she learned that President Obama would be speaking, she announced her decision to decline the award. Clearly annoyed that her presence might be used to quiet the critics of the honor for Obama, Ambassador Glendon wrote that she did not want to be used as a counterweight, nor did she see the Notre Dame commencement as an appropriate venue for a genteel debate about legal abortion:
A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision—in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops—to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.
Could Cardinal Wuerl do this year what Ambassador Glendon did in 2009? Even at this late date, his withdrawal would send a powerful message of support for the right to life: an unmistakable rebuke to politicians who hide behind the smokescreen that the cardinal himself identified. To be sure, if he did withdraw, the cardinal would be caught in an avalanche of public criticism; he would suffer for his public witness. But there is a reason why cardinals wear red.
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