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National Eucharistic Pilgrimage: When is it passing through your town?

The National Eucharistic Revival recleased a detailed map of the upcoming pilgrimage routes ahead of the National Eucharistic Congress. / Credit: National Eucharistic Revival

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Feb 23, 2024 / 18:25 pm (CNA).

The National Eucharistic Pilgrimage released a schedule of all the stops along the four pilgrimage routes planned across the country and ending at the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis this July. 

The stops, which were announced by organizers on Thursday, include shrines, cathedrals, parishes, cultural sites, and parks.  

At the stops, the faithful in the area will have the chance to join in the national event by participating in Mass, adoration, devotions, praise and worship, and fellowship as well as have opportunities to accompany the Eucharist on the streets as part of the pilgrimage.

Tim Glemkowski, CEO of the National Eucharistic Congress, Inc., said that “a cross-country pilgrimage of this scale has never been attempted before.”

“It will be a tremendously powerful action of witness and intercession as it interacts with local parish communities at stops all along the way,” Glemkowski said. “Following Jesus and praying through cities and rural towns is going to be life-changing for the Church across America.”

He also stressed that Catholics in communities across the country are “invited to be part of the historic movement to set hearts ablaze.”

What is the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage? 

The National Eucharistic Pilgrimage is being organized in conjunction with a three-year-long Eucharistic revival campaign by the U.S. Catholic bishops.

The national pilgrimage consists of four different routes beginning on opposite sides of the country and meeting in Indianapolis for the National Eucharistic Congress July 17–21.

Collectively the four National Eucharistic Pilgrimage routes will traverse 6,500 miles, 27 states, and 65 dioceses while carrying Christ in the Eucharist. 

The organizers are calling it “our national Emmaus moment” after the biblical passage in which Jesus walked with two of his disciples along the road to Emmaus. Through this campaign, the bishops plan to rededicate the country to Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

Where can I meet up with it? 

The National Eucharistic Pilgrimage’s four routes are the Marian Route from the north, the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Route from the east, the St. Juan Diego Route from the south, and the St. Junipero Serra Route from the west. 

To see when the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage is making a stop near you, click here

The Northern “Marian Route” will begin with a Pentecost Mass and Eucharistic procession at a historic site in the Lake Itasca region of Minnesota.

The Eastern “Seton Route” begins with Mass at the birthplace of the Knights of Columbus, St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Connecticut, on May 18. 

The Southern “Juan Diego Route” will begin with a Pentecost Mass on May 19 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Brownsville, Texas, just a few minutes’ walk from the U.S. border with Mexico. 

The Western “Junipero Serra Route” will begin on May 18 with solemn vespers and adoration at the historic Mission Dolores Basilica in San Francisco, at which Serra once celebrated Mass. 

Who will be leading the pilgrimages? 

According to the statement, each route will be led by a team of eight “Perpetual Pilgrims,” who have already been selected and whose names will be announced on March 11. 

A “rotating cadre” of 30 Franciscan Friars of the Renewal will provide “ecclesial support” for the pilgrims. 

How can I participate? 

Participating in the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage is simple and costs nothing. Exact details on individual events at pilgrimage stops, including registration information, are available on the route pages

You can also participate by walking portions of the pilgrimage with the Perpetual Pilgrims. To do so, organizers ask that you register, which you can do by clicking here.

After Alabama Supreme Court’s embryo personhood ruling, what comes next?

Technician does control check of the in vitro fertilization process using a microscope. / Credit: Shutterstock

CNA Staff, Feb 23, 2024 / 17:50 pm (CNA).

An Alabama Supreme Court decision that established the personhood of frozen embryos drew praise from pro-life groups. The possible wider effects of the decision, meanwhile, remain shrouded in uncertainty. 

The state Supreme Court ruled that frozen human embryos constitute children under state statute, a decision that could have wide-reaching effects on in vitro fertilization treatments.

The nine-judge court said in the 8-1 ruling that the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act is “sweeping and unqualified” and that its provisions extend to children “regardless of their location.”

“It applies to all children, born and unborn, without limitation,” the ruling said. “It is not the role of this court to craft a new limitation based on our own view of what is or is not wise public policy.”

The court’s decision came about as part of a lawsuit brought by several parents whose frozen embryos had been accidentally destroyed at a fertility clinic. The plaintiffs had argued that the destruction fell under the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act.

Pro-life advocates praised the decision. Katie Daniel, the state policy director for SBA Pro-Life America, said in a statement to CNA that the court in its ruling “recognized what is obvious and a scientific fact — life begins at conception.” 

“That does not mean fertility treatment is prohibited,” Daniel said. “Rather it means fertility treatments need not carelessly or intentionally destroy the new life created.” 

“Alabama or anyone concerned by this decision can look to Louisiana, which has had a law in place since the 1980s that requires IVF be practiced in a more ethical way,” she said. She noted that “1,000 babies are born every year in that state as a result of IVF.”

Lila Rose, the president and founder of Live Action, likewise said after the ruling that the decision “affirms the scientific reality that a new human life begins at the moment of fertilization.”

“This ruling, which involved a wrongful-death claim brought by parents against a fertility clinic that negligently caused the death of their children, rightly acknowledged the humanity of unborn children created through in vitro fertilization,” Rose said, calling the decision “an important step towards applying equal protection for all.”

Will it affect other states?

Though the ruling was understandably welcomed by pro-life advocates, it is less certain how the court decision may play out beyond the state of Alabama.

The question before the state Supreme Court was whether or not frozen embryos should be considered children under Alabama state statute. Jay Tidmarsh, a professor at Notre Dame Law School, told CNA that the ruling “decided only a question of state law.”

“On whether this will go to the U.S. Supreme Court, I think many people do not realize that the U.S. Supreme Court decides only issues of federal law,” Tidmarsh said. 

“On matters of [Alabama] state law, the Alabama Supreme Court has the final word, not the United States Supreme Court,” Tidmarsh said. 

“For the United States Supreme Court to become involved in this case, therefore, the Alabama decision must involve an issue of federal law,” he said.

The Constitution established the Supreme Court as overseeing cases involving “controversies to which the United States shall be a party,” as well as “controversies between two or more states.” The Alabama decision “does not decide or invoke any matter of federal law,” Tidmarsh pointed out. 

“I could well imagine some theories of federal law that the decision might implicate, but none of those theories was mentioned in the opinion,” he said. 

Danielle Pimentel, who serves as policy counsel at Americans United for Life, echoed Tidmarsh’s assessment. 

“Right now I don’t see there are any federal questions to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court,” she said. The decision was “focused on Alabama law and will stay within Alabama,” she said.

The ruling “doesn’t limit IVF or access to it,” she pointed out. “It simply ensures that both the parents and the children are protected under the Wrongful Death of the Minor Act. If the fertility clinic is acting negligently, parents can potentially bring a civil claim.”

The state Supreme Court’s decision, meanwhile, is only part of the lawsuit brought by the parents whose embryonic children had died at the fertility clinic, Pimentel noted. 

“[The court’s ruling] wasn’t a ruling on the merits,” she said. “We still don’t know what a trial court will decide on whether the defendants have violated the act. I think we’ll have to wait and see what the trial court decides.”

The Catholic Church has long condemned the IVF process and the production of embryos. There are now an estimated 1 million frozen embryos in the U.S. alone.

In 1996, Pope John Paul II made an “appeal to the conscience of the world’s scientific authorities and in particular to doctors, that the production of human embryos be halted.”

The Holy Father had noted at the time that there “seems to be no morally licit solution regarding the human destiny of the thousands and thousands of ‘frozen’ embryos which are and remain the subjects of essential rights and should therefore be protected by law as human persons.” 

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, meanwhile, wrote in the 1987 document Donum Vitae that even an IVF and embryo-transfer procedure that is “free of any compromise with the abortive practice of destroying embryos and with masturbation remains a technique which is morally illicit because it deprives human procreation of the dignity which is proper and connatural to it.”

CPAC speakers stress the role of faith in healing from sex trafficking

null / Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Feb 23, 2024 / 17:30 pm (CNA).

Faith plays an important role in the healing process for those who have survived human trafficking, a victim of sex trafficking and a founder of a shelter for victims shared during a panel discussion at the 2024 Conservative Political Action Conference.

“Just remember that when you were little, when all of you were small, just like myself, there are dreams … ideas and thoughts about life and what you want to be; who you want to be,” said Tanya Gould, who was a victim of human trafficking and now serves as the director of the Anti-Human Trafficking Office of the Attorney General of Virginia.

“It takes faith to believe that you’re still that person after all of that has happened to you,” Gould said.

An important part of the recovery process, according to Gould, was “having people and places and folks that believe in … just me being human — who I am and being [made] in the image of God.”

Elizabeth Ameling, the founder and executive director of The Latisha’s House Foundation, which provides housing for sex trafficking victims, said those who work at her shelter tell women that “they’ve always been loved and there’s no one like them,” adding that the group’s housing manager tells them: “You’re the apple of God’s eye, he only made one of you, [and] you’re perfect.”

“We say that to them because [most of them] don’t have moms and dads — overwhelmingly their parents are dead or in prison,” Ameling said. “They have to have that connection. If they develop that while they’re in our house, they do better going through counseling, they do better dealing with addiction and it is transformative because it lets them know they’re loved.”

The panelists also discussed efforts to combat human trafficking through law enforcement and government initiatives.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, another member of the panel, encouraged officials to go after those who purchase sexual services from women, noting that many of the women are victims of trafficking. He said that this emphasis, which his state is focusing on through Operation Buyer’s Remorse, ensures that women who are victims are not being prosecuted.

“Don’t buy sex in Ohio,” Yost said. “If the money dries up, the trafficking will dry up.”

Yost added that the influx of people immigrating into the United States illegally has heightened the problem of sex and labor trafficking in the United States. He argued that this problem is “dispersing everywhere” and is not just taking place in states that border Mexico.

“There’s no such thing as a border state anymore,” Yost said. “Or maybe I should say every state is a border state.”

Gould also highlighted the importance of raising awareness of sex trafficking as a means to combat the illicit market. She said a major part of Virginia’s efforts includes awareness to businesses and employees.

CPAC is an annual event that hosts conservative and Republican speakers. The event, which is located at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, began on Feb. 21 and concludes on Feb. 24.

Catholic University installs Crucifixion artwork by imprisoned Catholic activist Jimmy Lai

A drawing of the Crucifixion by imprisoned Catholic and pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai is unveiled by Lai's godfather, William McGurn, and his wife and daughter at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., Feb. 22, 2024. / Credit: Patrick G. Ryan/The Catholic University of America

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Feb 23, 2024 / 14:35 pm (CNA).

The Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, D.C., has installed a drawing of the Crucifixion by imprisoned Hong Kong Catholic and pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai.

Father Robert Sirico, a supporter and friend of Lai’s, said during the installation ceremony on Thursday that the sketch is a testimony “not just of Jimmy’s struggle but the struggle of all people of Hong Kong” and “all of the people of China, who will, by faith, resist [oppression].”

The large drawing depicts Christ on the cross flanked by eight orange flowers. It was created by Lai in prison, where, according to Sirico, he has been kept in solitary confinement for close to 1,500 days.

A drawing of the Crucifixion created in prison by Catholic Hong Konger and pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai now on display at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., Feb. 22, 2024. Credit: Patrick G. Ryan/The Catholic University of America
A drawing of the Crucifixion created in prison by Catholic Hong Konger and pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai now on display at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., Feb. 22, 2024. Credit: Patrick G. Ryan/The Catholic University of America

The picture was blessed by university chaplain Father Aquinas Guilbeau. It is now on permanent display by the St. Michael the Archangel Chapel in Catholic University’s Busch School of Business.

Catholic University Chaplain and Vice President of Ministry and Mission Father Aquinas Guilbeau, OP, blesses a drawing of the Crucifixion by imprisoned Catholic and pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai on Feb. 22, 2024. Credit: Patrick G. Ryan/The Catholic University of America
Catholic University Chaplain and Vice President of Ministry and Mission Father Aquinas Guilbeau, OP, blesses a drawing of the Crucifixion by imprisoned Catholic and pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai on Feb. 22, 2024. Credit: Patrick G. Ryan/The Catholic University of America

Who is Jimmy Lai?

A successful entrepreneur, newspaper owner, Catholic, and outspoken critic of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Lai has been in a Hong Kong prison since 2020 for his pro-democracy and free speech advocacy.

The activist, a convert to Catholicism, was originally arrested in August 2020 under that year’s controversial national security law, which was passed by China’s communist-controlled government. The law sharply curtailed free speech in Hong Kong in an effort to quash what the Chinese Communist Party considered subversion and sedition in the separately administered region.

The plaque below Lai’s drawing at Catholic University explains that he “cites his Catholic faith as the basis for his refusal to be silenced or flee to save himself from arrest.”

Sirico said that the Hong Kong activist willingly chose to give up his comfortable, affluent life by resisting the CCP and refusing to leave Hong Kong. Although Hong Kongers have for years enjoyed a greater degree of freedom than that found in mainland China, that is now quickly changing as Chinese officials crack down on the region.

“If I go away, I not only give up my destiny, I give up God, I give up my religion, I give up what I believe in,” Lai said in 2020. “I am what I am. I am what I believe. I cannot change it. And if I can’t change it, I have to accept my fate with praise.”

Sirico told CNA that Lai sees his imprisonment as a way of joining in Christ’s passion on the cross. He said that the drawing should serve as an inspiring reminder that the “blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”

Father Robert Sirico, founder of the Acton Institute and producer of a documentary on Jimmy Lai called "The Hong Konger," gives an address at the installation and blessing of a drawing of the crucifixion by Lai at The Catholic University of America's Busch School of Business, Feb. 22, 2024. Credit: Patrick G. Ryan/The Catholic University of America
Father Robert Sirico, founder of the Acton Institute and producer of a documentary on Jimmy Lai called "The Hong Konger," gives an address at the installation and blessing of a drawing of the crucifixion by Lai at The Catholic University of America's Busch School of Business, Feb. 22, 2024. Credit: Patrick G. Ryan/The Catholic University of America

In prison, Sirico said that Lai has devoted himself to religious reading and prayer. He has also begun creating religious drawings, mostly pictures of the Crucifixion, like the one now on display at Catholic University.

A symbol of resistance

CUA has been a vocal supporter of Lai in previous years. In 2022, the university awarded Lai an honorary degree.

Dr. Peter Kilpatrick, Catholic University’s president, told CNA that Lai “represents resistance to real oppression” and that he “represents freedom.”  

Kilpatrick said that he hopes students will look at the drawing and learn about Lai and his resistance in Hong Kong and realize that “there are still people in the world who are willing to fight for the truth and who are willing to fight for freedom.”

“I see freedoms being denied all around the world,” Kilpatrick said. “In 2024, we may have to fight harder … not just in Hong Kong, but perhaps right here in the United States, for freedom to worship as we should and must, for the freedom and the dignity of the human person, which is under assault.”

Chen Guangcheng, a world-renowned Chinese human rights activist known commonly as the “barefoot lawyer,” was also at the dedication ceremony. He told CNA that he came to show his support for Lai. 

“Jimmy Lai is a good person,” Guangcheng said. “He used his media to see the truth; that is why the CCP persecuted him.” 

Guangcheng urged Americans to do more in support of freedom in Hong Kong and mainland China.

“I think if the Western people and government stand with them, the situation still can change,” he said.

Pope Francis erects new diocese, names bishop in West African country of Guinea

Monsignor Moïse Tinguiano was appointed bishop of the newly erected Diocese of Boké in Guinea on Feb. 22, 2024. / Credit: Conakry Archdiocese

Rome Newsroom, Feb 23, 2024 / 13:40 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis on Thursday erected the new Diocese of Boké in the West African country of Guinea, with the new bishopric coming from territory previously under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Conakry. 

According to the figures provided by the Holy See Press Office, in the new diocese the total population sits at 1,153,909, of which 10,225 are Catholic. There will be six parishes, 11 diocesan priests, one religious priest, four seminarians, and 12 religious sisters. 

Leading the new diocese will be Monsignor Moïse Tinguiano, who has served as the parish priest of the Church of St. Augustin de Taouyah in Conakry since 2018.

Tinguiano was born on Dec. 11, 1977, and undertook his priestly studies at the minor seminary of St. John XXIII in Kindia. He went on to study philosophy and theology at the St. Augustin Samayah Major Seminary in Bamako, Mali. He was ordained to the priesthood on Nov. 26, 2006, and since then has served in a variety of pastoral roles. 

The bishop-elect went on to obtain a doctorate in catechetics and youth ministry from the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome, concluding his studies in 2017. 

From 2018 he served as the pastor of the Parish of St. Augustin de Taouyah, as a professor in the Benedict XVI seminary, and as director of the Catholic Radio Station La Voix de la Paix (the Voice of the People). 

Conakry is the capital and most populous city in the predominantly Sunni Muslim western African country, with nearly 89% of its residents Muslim, while only 7% identify as Christian. 

There have been multiple initiatives undertaken in Boké to promote religious dialogue in the predominantly Muslim country.

In 2022 the new governor of the administrative region of Boké, Mamadou Camara, launched the first-ever series of meetings aimed at bridging sectarian divisions between religious groups and building regional and national unity. 

According to Camara, religion has played an invaluable role in promoting “social peace,” and the prayers from religious leaders have “allowed Guinea to avoid numerous social crises and political tensions.” 

The first Catholic missionaries arrived in Guinea in 1875, and in 1890 the Conakry Mission was established. Guinea became an apostolic prefecture in 1897 and was made an apostolic vicariate in 1920. The Archdiocese of Conakry was erected on Sept. 14, 1955.

Why did four Mexican bishops meet with organized crime bosses?

The central plaza in Taxco, a city in the state of Guerrero, Mexico. / Credit: Wikimedia Commons

ACI Prensa Staff, Feb 23, 2024 / 08:00 am (CNA).

Four Catholic bishops recently made media headlines after it was learned that they had met with members of organized crime in the Mexican state of Guerrero. 

The bishop of Chilpancingo-Chilapa, José de Jesús González, confirmed at a press conference last week that the prelates of the Ecclesiastical Province of Acapulco “began to seek talks with the [crime] bosses who could bring about peace” in the region. However, he lamented that that goal “was not achieved.”

The other three prelates who participated in the effort were the archbishop of Acapulco, Leopoldo González; the bishop of Tlapa, Dagoberto Sosa; and the bishop of Ciudad Altamirano, Joel Ocampo.

Church ‘cannot remain indifferent’ to suffering

In a Feb. 21 interview with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, Father Mario Ángel Flores Ramos of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference and former rector of the Pontifical University of Mexico, discussed what he considers the two main considerations that led to the bishops’ meeting with the organized crime figures.

Flores pointed out that in the first place, the Catholic Church “cannot remain indifferent to the suffering of the community.” The Mexican priest noted that parish priests, as an active part of society, “are in direct contact with the realities faced by the population, which motivates the Church to seek to overcome conflicts and act as a mediator in crisis situations.”

He also stressed that priests do not have the responsibility of “finding an in-depth solution” but rather the Church tries to get the rival gangs “to reach agreements among themselves so as not to fight and thus prevent the problem from growing.”

The second reason, Flores explained, is the “lack of effective action by the authorities to maintain order” and “combat impunity.”

“Even taking into account that there is a presence of the National Guard, some state or municipal police, there’s no action and even less effectiveness. So there is impunity,” he lamented.

The administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador created the National Guard in 2019. It replaced the former Federal Police of Mexico and was given a mandate to “guarantee public safety.”

Flores said that the level of violence in the country exceeds any “sensitivity and respect for human life.” This situation, he noted, “leads the Church to try to make this situation a little less burdensome for everyone.”

Furthermore, the priest highlighted that “religious figures still carry a lot of weight with criminals” and “they retain respect and a certain trust for nuns, priests, and bishops. This, he said, gives the Catholic Church the “ability to be mediators even in intense conflicts.”

Guerrero, a ‘failed state’

Acapulco, the largest and best-known city in Guerrero, has been on the list of the 50 most violent cities in the world in the last two years according to the report compiled by the Citizens Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice. In 2022 the city was ranked 10th, and in 2023 it was ranked 15th.

Various crime gangs such as Los Ardillos, Los Tlacos, Guerreros Unidos, La Familia Michoacana, the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel, and the Sierra Cartel are fighting among themselves in turf wars and for the control of drug trafficking routes in the region. 

In Guerrero, poppies are grown from which opium and finally heroin are produced. The use of this substance, along with fentanyl and occasionally cocaine, has resulted in a powerful drug known as China White.

According to figures from the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System, in 2023, 1,398 first-degree homicides were recorded in Guerrero. Of these, 1,026 were carried out with firearms.

However, according to a security expert, the official figures could be lower than the real ones.

In a statement to ACI Prensa, José Antonio Ortega Sánchez, president of the Citizens Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice, pointed out that “it is very likely that the figures on the incidence of homicides in Mexico are higher.” He contends “there is an operation that can’t be concealed to hide the real figures.”

Ortega also referred to the role of the Catholic Church in addressing violence in Guerrero.

The security expert described Guerrero as “a failed state” where criminal organizations “exercise dominant control.” In addition, he said that the “inaction” of the authorities along with “impunity” are the factors that contribute to violence in the region.

“Given the defenselessness of the people of Guerrero and the power of the criminal organizations, the bishops of the Guerrero region decided to intervene directly, seeking to reach an understanding with the crime leaders to stop the clashes and protect the population,” he said.

The president of the Citizens Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice noted that the business of crime gangs “is not limited only to drug trafficking” but also covers a wide range of criminal activities, “such as collecting protection money, robberies, kidnappings, and extortion.” This situation, he said, “has led the Church to intervene in search of peaceful solutions.”

Ortega stressed that the only thing the Church is asking for is “peace, tranquility, and security for the population, which is the first obligation of the government toward its citizens.”

Not meeting to make a deal

The bishop emeritus of Chilpancingo-Chilapa, Salvador Rangel, who has held similar meetings with members of organized crime, said that the recent meeting of the prelates of Guerrero state was “not an agreement, it was simply talking, dialoguing.”

In a Feb. 16 interview with ACI Prensa, Rangel lamented that “the ones who have won the battle here are the drug traffickers.”

However, he encouraged people not to lose hope and, whatever may happen, to work so that everything turns out for the good of the people: “We mustn’t lose faith and hope,” he said.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Large families association launches ‘Save the planet, have more children’ campaign

A father and son observe pro-natalist billboard campaign in Madrid, Spain. / Credit: Large Families Association of Madrid

ACI Prensa Staff, Feb 23, 2024 / 07:00 am (CNA).

The Large Families Association of Madrid in Spain has launched an advertising campaign featuring the message “Save the planet, have more children.” 

The campaign’s objective is to “turn on its head the prevailing pessimism and invite more people to experience the joy that comes with a large family.”

On billboards and in publicity throughout metropolitan Madrid, the campaign also directly challenges people to consider that “a world without pollution is not worth it if there are no people to enjoy it.”

The association said in a statement that the campaign aims to “challenge passersby to ask themselves what reasons may be leading them to close themselves off from the possibility of expanding their family.”

The campaign tries to make people reflect upon such common attitudes as “Kids? I already have a dog,” “One is enough,” and “Two, but not one more!”

The ads include a QR code that invites readers to watch and share a video that exposes the programs of international institutions that are pressuring governments to enact neo-Malthusian policies to reduce the world population.

This agenda has resulted in a growing reduction in aid to large families. The narrator of the campaign’s video observes: “They tell us that we have to reduce the population... and that’s why they’ll help us with abortion, ideologies, or eliminating aid to large families.”

In addition, the video narration refers to issues such as the manipulation of language, such as: “They call it reproductive health care” or the threat posed by growing depopulation in rural areas by noting: “Do you know where there is room left? In the parks, which are empty, or in the schools, which are closing more and more classrooms.” 

The video concludes by pointing out: “They say they have calculated how much each child pollutes... and they have forgotten that a world without pollution is not worth it if there are no people to enjoy it.”

The Large Families Association’s ad campaign is reminiscent of a similar one that ran in New York’s Times Square in January by EveryLife, the leading pro-life diaper company in the U.S., which featured a post by X owner Elon Musk that read: “Having children is saving the world.”

Coinciding with the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., in January, below the Musk quote the billboard touted: “Make more babies.” 

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

She left a wild lifestyle but thanks to the Virgin Mary found true happiness in God

Irasema Ángel, 43, describes her past life as "a glass box full of lies," where there was no freedom or full happiness. / Credit: Courtesy of Irasema Ángel

ACI Prensa Staff, Feb 23, 2024 / 06:00 am (CNA).

Irasema Ángel, 43, exchanged a life of comfort for a life that now seeks to please God. Her testimony is proof of the importance of conversion in the lives of Christians.

From a very young age, Ángel — a Mexican national who resides in the United States — was involved in “a life full of luxuries,” a reality that she herself described as “a glass box full of lies,” where freedom and complete happiness did not exist.

Speaking with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, Ángel shared that her relationship with her father was always distant, which marked her youth. “At a certain point my father was unfaithful to my mother, and that’s when my heart broke,” she said.

When she was only 14, Ángel adopted a rebellious lifestyle, marked by feminism, hedonism, and self-sufficiency. This superficiality led her to distance herself from everyone, including her family, but especially from God and the sacraments.

“I thought I was the master of my own life and that I didn’t have to answer to anyone,” she said.

Born in the Mexican state of Baja California, she commented that “it was very common” for American influence to be very strong there — especially Hollywood — and she recognized that it had a profound impact on her way of conceiving the world.

“Hollywood knew how to sell me movies, fashion, music, and pornography. This deforms your identity and dignity as a daughter of God,” Ángel said. In addition, she noted that at that time she only thought about “having a good time and having fun.”

Thus the years went by: between bars and nightclubs, from Thursday to Sunday nonstop. Soon the parties became an occasion for drugs and lust. 

“No one educated me and it was very easy not to control myself. That made me a slave to passions,” she said. “In my case, I didn’t know the difference between love and lust. I was without shame or modesty.”

This way of living, Ángel said, permeated all aspects of her reality with frivolity from her way of dressing to the way she spoke and behaved — a situation that after several years changed radically when the Mother of God intervened in her life.

The Virgin Mary 

After a long personal process in which Ángel left her past life behind and began to be formed in the faith, she began to attend Mass at a parish in San Diego. There she “strived to fulfill the will of God,” but it was still difficult for her to overcome some situations that had been ingrained in her for a long time.

At that moment when her faith began to falter, a friend invited her to participate in a traditional dance in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe. At each of the meetings, the dance group prayed the rosary before and after each rehearsal in preparation for the pilgrimage on Dec. 12, the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

That day Ángel was just one of the pilgrims who venerated the Virgin. She commented that during the trip she didn’t feel anything in particular, but when she entered the church at the end of the procession, she was overcome with tears, which she still cannot explain. 

“I didn’t know what was happening. I had never asked the Virgin for anything directly, but I did ask God for my conversion every day. Then [Our Lady] came and rescued me from the clutches of Satan,” she recounted.

From that moment on, Ángel left behind the sins of her past life. 

“That’s how Mary came into my life and I made a clean break with mortal sin,” she said, adding that “I started to heal my wounds. God gave me another chance.”

The Mexican woman has been “walking hand in hand with Christ” for 18 years now. For her, the only goal that a human being should aspire to is to achieve holiness. She calls on young people to “not settle for less” and for “their standards and expectations to always be high.”

“Aspire to holiness. It’s a path that’s not easy, but with Jesus and Mary it really is possible,” she said. “For me that is true success, not what the world offers you. This is true heroism.”

“The success you seek is God’s dream for your life because it protects you from false love, it makes you less selfish, more generous, it gives you back your personality, your identity, and your character,” Ángel explained.

To learn more about Irasema Ángel and her conversion story, you can follow her on Facebook and on X.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

CPAC panelists sound alarm amid transgender-related parental rights battles

Terry Schilling, president of the American Principles Project discusses gender policy for minors with Dr. Eithan Haim and CPAC panel moderator Meg Brock of the Daily News Foundation. / Credit: Screenshot of CPAC 2024/Rumble

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Feb 22, 2024 / 22:08 pm (CNA).

The president of the American Principles Project, Terry Schilling, warned that the “transgender industry” is waging a “war on families” amid efforts by states to tear children away from parents who refuse to facilitate their children’s gender transitions.

“They are declaring war on families,” said Schilling, a Catholic, during a panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, on Thursday.

The panel — titled “Genesis 1:27” in reference to the biblical affirmation that “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” — delved into concerns about state governments imposing gender ideology on families and allowing surgical sex-change operations to be performed on children in more than half of the country.

The panelists specifically referenced the situation in Indiana, where the state government took a 15-year-old out of his parents’ custody after the teenager began to identify as transgender. The Catholic parents, Mary and Jeremy Cox, refused to refer to their son as a girl based on their belief that sex is immutable, and he developed an eating disorder.

Although the Indiana Court of Appeals could not substantiate any abuse or neglect from the parents, the judges still removed the child from the home and placed him with a family that would refer to him as a girl as a means to address the eating disorder. The appellate ruling occurred in October 2022, but the parents asked the United States Supreme Court to review the case last week.

The panelists also discussed the growing trend in states such as California, Washington, and Minnesota to pass laws that allow out-of-state runaway children to receive transgender surgeries without the knowledge or consent of their parents. 

Schilling said these laws and state actions “incriminate parents for doing their jobs” by punishing them “for protecting their children from this [transgender] industry that will quite literally chew them up and spit them out with destroyed bodies.” 

The Catholic father of six criticized what he called the “transgender for-profit industry,” which he said is enriching itself by providing transgender drugs to children and facilitating sex-change operations.

Schilling was joined on the panel by Dr. Eithan Haim, who was investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice for leaking details about a secretive program to facilitate sex changes for children at the Texas Children’s Hospital.

Haim encouraged doctors to speak up about the harm caused by facilitating gender transitions for children, arguing that “we take an oath when we go into medical school and we follow this path that we should do no harm, [and] that doesn’t just apply to the clinic [or] to the operating room … but it applies outside of that.” 

“These doctors [who facilitate sex changes for children] have believed they can become God and create something new when the actual goal of medicine is to preserve and strengthen what’s already been created,” Haim added.

The panel was hosted by Meg Brock of the Daily Caller News Foundation. This year’s CPAC proceedings continue through Saturday, Feb. 24.

Australian bishop Christopher Saunders arrested, charged with rape 

Our Lady Queen of Peace Cathedral in Broome, Australia.

Rome Newsroom, Feb 22, 2024 / 16:10 pm (CNA).

Christopher Saunders, the bishop emeritus of Broome, Australia, has been arrested and charged with rape and other charges based at least in part on the findings of a Vatican investigation into allegations he abused vulnerable young men.

Authorities announced Thursday that they were charging the 74-year-old prelate with two counts of rape, 14 counts of unlawful and indecent assault, and three counts of indecently dealing with a child as a person in authority, which reportedly occurred in the towns of Broome, Kununurra, and the Aboriginal community of Kalumburu between 2008 and 2014.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that Saunders will plead not guilty to the charges brought against him. Saunders was released on bail on a AU$10,000 ($6,500) bond on Thursday and has been ordered by the Broome Magistrates Court to reside at this home until the initial hearing in June. 

In a press release published on Thursday, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said the allegations made against Saunders “are very serious and deeply distressing, especially for those making those allegations.” 

Noting that it is “right and proper, and indeed necessary, that all such allegations be thoroughly investigated,” Costelloe expressed that the Church “will continue to cooperate fully with the police and take every necessary step to avoid any actions which may compromise the integrity and autonomy of the police investigation.”

Saunders was ordained to the priesthood in 1976. Before he was appointed the bishop of Broome in 1996, he had several assignments with aboriginal parishes. 

The Diocese of Broome, a suffragan diocese of the Archdiocese of Perth, is located in the remote northwestern region of Kimberley in the state of Western Australia and covers an area of approximately 297,000 square miles. 

Allegations were first made in 2020 against Saunders, who took a step back from the active governance of the diocese later that year. He formally resigned in 2021, citing “ill health.”

After an initial police investigation did not result in any charges against Saunders, Pope Francis ordered a canonical investigation — the first of its kind in Australia — following his 2019 motu proprio Vos Estis Lux Mundi, which established a new set of norms for the universal Church concerning the procedural handling of sexual abuse cases. 

The investigation was overseen by Archbishop Mark Coleridge of the Archdiocese of Brisbane but carried out by private investigators, culminating in a 200-page report. 

A new investigation was opened on the allegations brought against Saunders after the report was handed over to Australian police. In January, detectives from the Child Abuse Squad raided Saunders’ former home as part of “an ongoing investigation into historic child sex offenses.” 

Australian news outlet 7NEWS in September 2023 obtained the investigative report, which detailed a pattern of grooming young men and occasions of coercing young men to undress and perform sexual acts. The report also noted that Saunders held “bunga-bunga” parties, which were attended only by young men.  

The bombshell report stated that Saunders “spent hundreds of thousands of dollars grooming vulnerable young Aboriginal males by supplying them with gifts of alcohol, telephones, cash, and travel.” 

“The bishop has been variously described by witnesses as … a sexual predator that seeks to prey upon vulnerable Aboriginal men and boys,” the investigative report said.