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Abortion kills more than does Covid, says mother who almost aborted daughter

Pregnancy Test. / Flickr/Ernesto Andrade.

Bogotá, Colombia, May 7, 2021 / 12:05 pm (CNA).

“Abortion is a scourge that kills many children and moms, it kills more than COVID. It's relentless,” said Liz Martínez, a 33-year-old Colombian mother who almost two years ago was about to abort her daughter Lucrecia.

Martínez is one of the mothers who receive help from the Moms 40 Coalition for Life Foundation, which has ties to the 40 Days for Life prayer campaign that helps pregnant women in vulnerable situations.

“I thank God for the foundation. They have saved many lives. Without them I would have had an abortion and I wouldn’t have forgiven myself,” Martínez told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language news partner.

“I thank God because if it weren't for these people I would have killed my daughter, and she’s the best thing that ever happened to me. She has light brown skin and green eyes, beautiful, a bundle of energy, but she’s my daughter. I thank God, He knows what he’s doing,” she said.

Lucrecia Yepes Martínez was born June 6, 2019. She’s the fourth child of Martínez, who had her first pregnancy when she was 16. At that time, "I always rejected the idea of abortion and never considered it, and whenever they asked me, I said I wouldn’t do it."

“I had my first child at 17. I had two other children with my husband and I stuck it out with him for 14 years. He became unfaithful and I got divorced. I tried to forgive him and I couldn't,” she recounted.

“When I got divorced, I kept my three children, Santiago, 16, Danilo, 14, and Evan, 10. After I was divorced for a year, I met the person who would become my boyfriend. I had a tubal ligation when I had the child who’s now 10, so I wouldn’t have any more children,” the mother explained.

However, Martínez became pregnant again, and the doctor told her that it could be an ectopic pregnancy with the baby developing outside the uterus, but it turned out not to be so. “The left tube had reformed itself and the baby was in the womb. I fell into a crisis. My daughter's father is a police officer, divorced, he already had three children.”

"‘It’s a normal pregnancy and can go to term,’ the doctor said. "It’s impossible," I said, “but the doctor told me that for God nothing is impossible and that in his career he had already seen a few other cases of women who had had tubal ligations and became pregnant. "

Martínez’ mother offered her money to have an abortion, but she refused. Then her mother stopped paying for her college classes. Martínez also lost custody of her children and with the situation having become more complicated, she looked for where she could get an abortion.

“I went to an abortion center … they offered to do a D&C abortion.” 

“They told me it cost 580 thousand pesos ($154) and I agreed to it,” Martinez told ACI Prensa.

“They told me to tell them why I wanted to have an abortion. And they asked me what I was going to do with four children. They convince you to have an abortion,” she added.

When she left the abortion clinic, she saw some people from 40 Days for Life. 

“A woman looked at me. I felt bad and hid the pregnancy test in my backpack. She kept looking at me, I felt ashamed and when I took two steps she came over to me. She gently asked me how I was doing. She introduced herself, told me that her name was Andrea and asked me if I were pregnant," she recalled. 

Martínez told her about her situation and another man, who was holding a rosary, came over to her. “He told me that he was a doctor and that he and the others came to save the lives of the babies. We walked for two blocks, which seemed like an eternity to me. A psychologist received me at the place where they had accompanied me to. They did an ultrasound and they had me listen to the baby's heart,” which didn’t happen at the abortion center.

Given the situation, the Moms 40 Coalition Foundation always sent her food and supported her. However, "sometimes the idea of having an abortion would return, but with psychological therapy I was able to understand that I really did want to have and protect" Lucrecia.

“When the girl was born I continued to be part of the group that receives help from the foundation. There they provide training for us and help us regarding work, they give us things for the children.”

“They’re always standing ready to help. They’ve sent me a playpen recently and I put Lucrecia there when I’m cooking,” she added.

She said that when she’s able to, “I’m planning on joining the foundation to save more lives.”

Pope Francis meets with bishop of murdered lay missionary

Pope Francis meets with a delegation from the Diocese of Huarí, Peru, May 6, 2021. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, May 7, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis met with a delegation Thursday from the diocese in Peru where Nadia De Munari, an Italian lay missionary, was murdered last month.

Bishop Giorgio Barbetta, the auxiliary of Huarí diocese, came to Italy to offer a funeral Mass for De Munari, who was killed while serving among the poor as a Vincentian missionary in Peru.

/ Vatican Media.
/ Vatican Media.

“A beacon illuminated Nadia’s life,” Barbetta said at the funeral on May 3 in Schio, Italy.

De Munari brought this light to Nuevo Chimbote, the community where she served in Peru, Barbetta said.

In Nuevo Chimbote, the bishop explained, 80,000 people live “in shacks made of mats, often without light, water and sewers,” he said.

It was in this poor neighborhood that De Munari ran multiple kindergartens, daycare centers, and a primary school, serving around 500 children

“Just a few weeks ago, Nadia was worried about the children and had brought together the teachers to resume activities following the quarantine. She was running towards the good, but she was stopped by violence,” the bishop said.

On the morning of April 21, De Munari was found unconscious in a pool of blood with head injuries in the missionary center where she lived in Nuevo Chimbote.

According to the local newspaper Diario de Chimbote, she had been attacked in the early hours of April 21 at the “Mamma Mia” home run by Operation Mato Grosso organization.

The missionary was taken to the Eleazar Guzmán Barrón regional hospital, where the attending physician said that she had fractures to her jaw, forearm, and neck, as well as several cuts to her head and face.

She was later transferred to a clinic in Lima, where she died April 24. She was 50 years old.

There is an ongoing police investigation into the circumstances surrounding her death.

/ Vatican Media.
/ Vatican Media.

Pope Francis received Bishop Barbetta and priests from the Peruvian diocese in a private audience on May 6. The group showed the pope photographs and shared memories of the late missionary.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin sent a message, dated April 27, on behalf of Pope Francis, saying that the pontiff offered prayers for the eternal repose of her soul.

The telegram said that Pope Francis condemned “this new and unjustifiable episode of violence, which is added to the many others in which missionaries have lost their lives while performing, with self-denial, their service to the Gospel and assistance to the most needy and defenseless.”

Barbetta said that De Munari’s life and blood had “become a seed” that has taken root.

“In Nuevo Chimbote, no one will be able to forget her … This seed will take root again in the hearts of many young people and those who receive this seed will feel pain and love, indissolubly united. But from pain, from non-sense, from coldness, they will discover love. it will be able to give life to the desire of God … because as Nadia often repeated ‘don't keep life for yourself, give it as a gift.’”

New EWTN documentary on Bl. Carlo Acutis available to watch for free

Bl. Carlo Acutis /

Denver, Colo., May 7, 2021 / 11:00 am (CNA).

A new documentary about Blessed Carlo Acutis, the first millennial to be beatified by the Catholic Church, is available to watch for free this month.

“I Am With You,” an EWTN special documentary about Acutis’ life, is available to watch online throughout the entire month of May. Users who sign up for EWTN’s free on-demand program can also receive two free eBooks: 12 Stations of the Eucharist and 7 Lessons in Holiness from Blessed Carlo Acutis. 

Carlo, who was born in 1991 and grew up in Milan, had an aptitude for computer programming. This led him at age 12 to create a website chronicling Eucharistic miracles. The site is still active to this day. 

The Italian teenager, who also loved soccer and video games, spent time volunteering at a soup kitchen in Milan run by both the Capuchins and Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. People who knew him say had a great love for the poor, especially the homeless. 

Acutis, who died of leukemia in 2006, would have turned 30 this month. The young man offered up his suffering in his final days for the Pope and for the Church. 

Carlo was designated “Venerable” in 2018. Pope Francis beatified him in Assisi on Oct. 10, 2020.

The documentary on his life commences with extensive reflections on the Real Presence, and covers Acutis’ passionate devotion to the Eucharist that began during his childhood. The film features interviews with Carlo’s mother Antonia Salzano, as well as one of Carlo’s best friends, Mattia Pastorelli.

Antonia recalled her son fondly as her “little savior.” In the documentary, she talks about how Carlo was always a devout child despite not growing up in a devout family. 

Another interviewee, family friend Rajesh Moher, called Carlo his “spiritual master.” Rajesh’s friendship with Carlo led him, a former Hindu, to accept baptism in 1999. 

“I Am With You” contains many striking images of Assisi and the Basilica of St. Francis; Acutis was buried in Assisi, a place he loved dearly. 

After his death at age 15, his cause for canonization began in 2013. The documentary also includes information about the first miracle that took place through Carlo’s intercession in Brazil in 2013.

‘There is always the power of prayer’: Why this bishop prays daily for President Biden

Bishop Joseph Coffey / EWTN Pro-Life Weekly

Washington D.C., May 7, 2021 / 10:00 am (CNA).

One U.S. bishop has committed to pray daily for President Joe Biden, because of the president’s pro-abortion policies.

Bishop Joseph Coffey, auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Military Services, U.S.A., has pledged to pray daily for the president. He told EWTN Pro-Life Weekly why the matter is so important to him, in an interview that aired on Thursday night.

“What I would like to say to him, if I could,” Bishop Coffey said, “is that none of us are promised tomorrow. And each day could be the last day on earth, and he has such power as the most important, most powerful man in the world as president.”

“It’s very, very sad, because he said that he is personally opposed to abortion, but wouldn’t want to impose his values on others,” Coffey said of Biden. “Well that makes no sense.”

Biden, he added, has actually “imposed” pro-abortion policies through executive actions. In January, the president repealed the Mexico City Policy, allowing U.S. global health assistance to go to international pro-abortion groups. He also instructed his administration to begin reviewing the Protect Life Rule – the first step toward allowing federal funding of clinics that refer for abortions through the Title X program. The administration in April followed that order by proposing to repeal the pro-life rule.

“That’s exactly what he’s doing, he’s imposing his values on those orders,” Coffey said of Biden’s executive actions on funding pro-abortion groups.

“So for those two reasons, I am committed to praying for this president, that he would change those views,” he told EWTN Pro-Life Weekly.

He emphasized the power both of prayer and of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, in bringing about conversion.

“I always try to remember that whenever I’m preaching on a homily, that those who have had to make a terrible choice that they regret – there’s always redemption, healing, through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, confession. I always stress that,” he said. “And there is always the power of prayer for conversion.”

Bishop Coffey is also episcopal vicar for veterans’ affairs at the archdiocese, and a decorated Navy captain. He told EWTN Pro-Life Weekly that the pro-life cause was close to his heart “for many, many years.”

Coffey said he was 12 years old and one of nine children when the Supreme Court in 1973 struck down state abortion bans in its Roe v. Wade decision, legalizing abortion throughout the United States. His father talked about the issue at the family dinner table the night of the ruling. “That’s when I committed to being a pro-lifer,” Coffey recalled.

He was involved with the group Operation Rescue for years. In 2020, Coffey told the National Catholic Register “We were always peaceful and nonviolent,” adding that he would sit in front of abortion clinics to give sidewalk counselors a chance to reach women as they tried to access the clinic. He was arrested “in about a dozen cities,” he said of his time in Operation Rescue – including one arrest with his mother and several siblings on Good Friday in 1989.

Ordained a priest 25 years ago, Coffey said he prays first for the Holy Father and then the president, at the Prayer of the Faithful during Sunday Mass.

“Throughout various administrations, Republican and Democrat, I have committed to pray for our president every Sunday,” he said. “So I am ramping that up now to pray especially every day for this president, for his conversion, so that he will be more pro-life.”

Biden is just the second Catholic president in U.S. history. While he has taken positions contrary to Church teaching on life and sexuality, the president is still Catholic, Coffey maintained – which makes his positions all the more “tragic.”

“I think we all hear sometimes ‘he’s no Catholic.’ Well he is. Everyone who is baptized is Catholic,” Coffey said. “That’s why this is so tragic, and that’s why I am asking all Catholics to pray for him, really, every day.”

Sainthood cause opened for Filipino priest killed by Islamists in 2000

Fr. Rhoel Gallardo (1965-2000). / Courtesy of the Claretian Missionaries.

Rome Newsroom, May 7, 2021 / 09:00 am (CNA).

The sainthood cause opened this week of Fr. Rhoel Gallardo, who died on May 3, 2000, after being held for 43 days by Islamists.

The Claretian missionary was killed at the age of 34, just six years after his ordination as a priest and 11 years after making his first profession as a religious.

On March 20, 2000, Gallardo was kidnapped, together with a school administrator, five teachers, and 22 students from the Claret School of Tumahubong, a village located on the island province of Basilan, in the Philippines.

The majority of the population in Basilan is Muslim; the next largest religious group is Catholic. Gallardo, who was the school’s principal, and the teachers and students, were taken captive by the Islamic separatist group Abu Sayyaf, the East Asia branch of the Islamic State.

Gallardo died when he was shot in the head, shoulder, and back at close range, after repeatedly refusing to renounce his Catholic faith. Three teachers and five children also died when they were caught in a gunfight between the terrorists and the military.

When Gallardo’s body was recovered, it was discovered that the nails on his index fingers and toes had been pulled off before he was shot. There were also other signs of torture.

The Territorial Prelature of Isabela, led by Bishop Leo Dalmao, officially opened Gallardo’s cause for beatification on May 3, 2021, the 21st anniversary of his death.

The ceremony took place at St. Vincent Ferrer’s Church in Tumahubong, the town where Gallardo had volunteered to serve the year before his murder.

According to Claretian Fr. Angel Calvo, quoted in Asia News, “Fr. Gallardo was the first priest kidnapped in Basilan to be killed. Other priests and nuns had been seized, even beaten, but in the end everyone was freed.”

“People already think of him as a martyr, a hero. The other hostages said that he did not want to give up the cross and the rosary, as the Islamists wanted. That's why they tortured him by ripping off his nails,” Calvo said.

“He suffered a lot; yet, as school principal, even in captivity he cared first of all about the teachers and the children entrusted to him. He offered his life for the people around him.”

The priest said that even after Gallardo’s death, the Claretian missionaries stayed in Basilan. In the two decades since Gallardo’s death, Abu Sayyaf has moved its activities more to the island of Jolo.

“Fr. Gallardo’s testimony remains an example that no one has forgotten,” Calvo said.

CBCP News, the news agency of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, quoted Fr. Elias Ayubon, the provincial superior of the Claretian Missionaries in the Philippines, who said that Gallardo “stood up for God who was faithful to him until the last drop of his blood.”

Martyrdom “could have occurred to any of us who were the young missionaries then, but it was given to Fr. Rhoel because, in hindsight, he was the most prepared to receive the crown,” Ayubon said.

“We join in fervent prayer that our brother and friend Servant of God Fr. Rhoel Gallardo will, one day, be counted among the martyrs and saints of our Mother Church.”

German Catholic diocese hosts event declaring same-sex blessings a case of ‘not if, but how’

Churches in Germany are flying LGBT pride flags in response to the Vatican’s ‘no’ to same-sex blessings. / Rudolf Gehrig/CNA Deutsch.

CNA Staff, May 7, 2021 / 05:30 am (CNA).

A German Catholic diocese has hosted an online event declaring that same-sex blessings are a matter of “not if, but how.”

The Diocese of Essen, in Germany’s industrial Ruhr area, held the conference, entitled “Blessings for all. Blessing celebrations for same-sex couples,” ahead of a nationwide event on May 10 in defiance of the Vatican’s “no” to same-sex blessings.

The diocese said in a May 3 post on its website that around 100 people took part in the conference. Among them were theologians who, it said, argued that “the Church must move out of the premodern era and embrace the current state of knowledge of science and society.”

The report noted that “currently some dioceses are jointly developing a handout on the topic [of same-sex blessings], which will also include a proposal on how to conduct a blessing celebration.”

One participating professor suggested that blessings of homosexual unions should take the form of comprehensive and festive liturgies, including the proclamation of the word, a prayer of blessing, intercessions, and the exchange of rings.

“Blessing celebrations are high forms of Christian liturgy, comparable to baptism,” Benedikt Kranemann said.

CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, reported that Essen’s Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck said in an interview last month that he would “not suspend a priest in his diocese or impose other Church penalties on him” if the cleric blesses same-sex couples.

Essen diocese noted that its vicar general, Fr. Klaus Pfeffer, addressed the virtual conference.

It said: “Deeply hurtful, wounding, overshadowing entire life stories: according to the impression of Essen’s vicar general Klaus Pfeffer, this is how the Church acts when it judges the lives of homosexual couples, refuses to bless them and dares to declare the binding, faithful love of two people a sin.”

“This finally needs to end: Not if, but how blessing celebrations for homosexual couples can be conducted in the church was the focus of the digital symposium ‘Blessing for all. Blessing celebrations for same-sex couples’ on Friday, April 30, in the Diocese of Essen.”

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) published a “Responsum ad dubium” March 15 replying to the question, “does the Church have the power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex?” The CDF answered, “Negative,” outlining its reasoning in an explanatory note and accompanying commentary.

The Vatican statement, issued with the approval of Pope Francis, sparked protests in the German-speaking Catholic world. A number of bishops expressed support for blessings of same-sex couples, while churches displayed LGBT pride flags, and a group of more than 200 theology professors signed a statement criticizing the Vatican.

Catholic pastoral workers are organizing a day of protest on May 10. The event is known as “Segnungsgottesdiensten für Liebende,” or “blessing services for lovers.” The organizers, who are using the hashtag “#liebegewinnt” (“love wins”), hope that same-sex couples across Germany will take part in the event.

Several German bishops have previously spoken in favor of blessings for same-sex couples, including Overbeck, bishops’ conference chairman Georg Bätzing (Limburg), Helmut Dieser (Aachen), Reinhard Marx (Munich and Freising), Franz-Josef Bode (Osnabrück), Peter Kohlgraf (Mainz), and Heinrich Timmerevers (Dresden-Meissen).

But other bishops have welcomed the CDF’s intervention. Among them are Rainer Maria Woelki (Cologne), Stephan Burger (Freiburg), Ulrich Neymeyr (Erfurt), Gregor Maria Hanke (Eichstätt), Wolfgang Ipolt (Görlitz), Stefan Oster (Passau), and Rudolf Voderholzer (Regensburg).

Bätzing said last week that the day of protest was not a “helpful sign.”

The bishops’ conference chairman said that blessing services were “not suitable as an instrument for Church-political demonstrations or protest actions.”

Cardinals’ council discusses pandemic recovery, curial reform with Pope Francis

A view of St. Peter's Basilica from within the Vatican. / Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

Vatican City, May 7, 2021 / 04:05 am (CNA).

Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals met online Thursday to discuss the Church’s response to the economic and social fallout of the coronavirus pandemic in different parts of the world, according to a Vatican statement.

Each of the seven cardinals described the situation in their respective regions and “the commitment of the Church in favor of health, economic recovery and the support offered to the most needy,” the statement from the Holy See Press Office said.

Pope Francis also participated in the May 6 meeting, connecting virtually from his residence in Vatican City.

Also on the agenda for the meeting was the ongoing revision of the draft of the new constitution to govern the Roman Curia, known as Praedicate evangelium.

According to the Vatican, the Council of Cardinals discussed “the working methodology that will have to be implemented for the revision and correction of some normative texts following the future entry into force of the next apostolic constitution, as well as the further perspectives opened by the text in preparation.”

The group of cardinal advisers, sometimes referred to as the C9 because it previously had nine members, was established by Pope Francis in 2013, to “assist him in the governance of the universal Church,” as well as to revise the text of the 1988 apostolic constitution Pastor bonus.

At one of the council’s first meetings, it was decided that projected revisions to Pastor bonus would be substantial enough to warrant an entirely new constitution.

The cardinals have been working on drafting and revising the text since 2014, soliciting feedback from bishops’ conferences last year. An updated draft was presented to Pope Francis last summer and suggestions from Vatican departments are being evaluated. But the Vatican has given no projected date for the constitution’s publication.

The cardinal members of the council are Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State; Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay; Seán O’Malley, archbishop of Boston; Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa; Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising; Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu of Kinshasa; and Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Governorate of the Vatican City State.

The Council of Cardinal’s next meeting is scheduled for June.

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