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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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

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