Friday, December 31, 2010

POPE BENEDICT XVI Message for world day of Peace Jan 1st 2011

Pope Benedict in a very comprehensive message for the world day of peace stresses that religious freedom is the path to peace. Some highlights from Pope Benedict’s message are set out below and a link to the full text of the message has been added

Pope Benedict expresses the fact that Christians suffer most from persecution on account of their faith and that this persecution is two fold, one level being at the risk of life and liberty and the other being subjected to more subtle and sophisticated forms of prejudice and hostility.
I have felt it particularly appropriate to share some reflections on religious freedom as the path to peace. It is painful to think that in some areas of the world it is impossible to profess one’s religion freely except at the risk of life and personal liberty. In other areas we see more subtle and sophisticated forms of prejudice and hostility towards believers and religious symbols. At present, Christians are the religious group which suffers most from persecution on account of its faith. Many Christians experience daily affronts and often live in fear because of their pursuit of truth, their faith in Jesus Christ and their heartfelt plea for respect for religious freedom.
 According to Pope Benedict
The right to religious freedom is rooted in the very dignity of the human person,[2] whose transcendent nature must not be ignored or overlooked. God created man and woman in his own image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:27). For this reason each person is endowed with the sacred right to a full life, also from a spiritual standpoint. Without the acknowledgement of his spiritual being, without openness to the transcendent, the human person withdraws within himself, fails to find answers to the heart’s deepest questions about life’s meaning, fails to appropriate lasting ethical values and principles, and fails even to experience authentic freedom and to build a just society[...]
Pope Benedict considered various aspects of freedom such as the origin of religious and moral freedom and asserted that freedom and respect are actually inseperable. He also looked at the issues surrounding a freedom which is hostile to God which he described as self negating
Religious freedom is at the origin of moral freedom. Openness to truth and perfect goodness, openness to God, is rooted in human nature; it confers full dignity on each individual and is the guarantee of full mutual respect between persons. Religious freedom should be understood, then, not merely as immunity from coercion, but even more fundamentally as an ability to order one’s own choices in accordance with truth.
Freedom and respect are inseparable; indeed, “in exercising their rights, individuals and social groups are bound by the moral law to have regard for the rights of others, their own duties to others and the common good of all [...]
A freedom which is hostile or indifferent to God becomes self-negating and does not guarantee full respect for others. A will which believes itself radically incapable of seeking truth and goodness has no objective reasons or motives for acting save those imposed by its fleeting and contingent interests; it does not have an “identity” to safeguard and build up through truly free and conscious decisions. As a result, it cannot demand respect from other “wills”, which are themselves detached from their own deepest being and thus capable of imposing other “reasons” or, for that matter, no “reason” at all. The illusion that moral relativism provides the key for peaceful coexistence is actually the origin of divisions and the denial of the dignity of human beings. Hence we can see the need for recognition of a twofold dimension within the unity of the human person: a religious dimension and a social dimension. In this regard, “it is inconceivable that believers should have to suppress a part of themselves – their faith – in order to be active citizens. It should never be necessary to deny God in order to enjoy one’s rights”.[6] [...]
The family founded on marriage according to Pope Benedict is the first school for the social, cultural, moral and spiritual formation and growth of children 
The family founded on marriage, as the expression of the close union and complementarity between a man and a woman, finds its place here as the first school for the social, cultural, moral and spiritual formation and growth of children, who should always be able to see in their father and mother the first witnesses of a life directed to the pursuit of truth and the love of God. Parents must be always free to transmit to their children, responsibly and without constraints, their heritage of faith, values and culture. The family, the first cell of human society, remains the primary training ground for harmonious relations at every level of coexistence, human, national and international. Wisdom suggests that this is the road to building a strong and fraternal social fabric, in which young people can be prepared to assume their proper responsibilities in life, in a free society, and in a spirit of understanding and peace.
Link to full text

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New attempt to pressurise Ireland to introduce abortion in the wake of the A,B and C case

No sooner had media coverage on the A, B and C case started to die down than another ‘case’ comes to light.   Isn’t it extraordinary how this happens?
The newest case – for the moment – is that of a thirty-nine-year-old English lady who is reportedly suffering from cancer and who became pregnant earlier this year.   While we have, and indeed must have, full sympathy for her in relation to her cancer, her case is now being used by pro-abortion organisations and media in an intensified push towards having abortion legalised in Ireland.

The Irish Times admonishes us that – ‘Time and again, in the history of our abortion debate, life throws up profoundly painful cases that test the limits, ambiguities and inadequacies of our law and of the politics of denial that underpin it.’   (That’s media-speak for ‘we must legalise abortion in Ireland immediately.’) The newspaper continues on the same theme – ‘As she faces into an uncertain, curtailed future she has shown a real courage, … in speaking out about her treatment to ensure that others do not have to go through the same hell.’

The right to life of the unborn in Ireland has constitutional protection and there is a supreme court ruling on the relevant article as it related to a woman who it was claimed at the time was suicidal. While diverging judgments were delivered in the X-case ruling the judgment of Finlay CJ is often cited 

–if it can be established as a matter of probability that there is a real and substantial risk to the life, as distinct from the health, of the mother, which can only be avoided by the termination of her pregnancy, such termination is permissible.

But, ‘termination of her pregnancy’ is simply that, each of us terminated our mothers pregnancy by being born. Termination of pregnancy does not imply abortion even though it is regularly interpreted in this way.   Abortion is the direct killing of the unborn baby, by whatever means, and at whatever stage of pregnancy.   Termination of a pregnancy consists of – necessary medical care for both mother and unborn baby.  This is, and has always been, established Irish medical care and ethics.   If the baby unfortunately dies, then that is not abortion – the intention is to save the lives of both mother and baby.

However, to return to the latest case to be used by the pro-abortion lobby – it seems that the consultants caring for the woman sought the advice of the ethics forum at the hospital involved as to whether she was ‘eligible for an abortion in Ireland’ because she was ‘suffering from a life-threatening illness’.   According to reports, the ethics forum, having considered the issue ‘for at least a week, or possibly two’, ruled against her.    Then, following a further three weeks spent organising travel and finding a suitable institution in London, the woman underwent an abortion of her 10/11 weeks-old unborn baby during the summer of this year.   She was so unwell and weak that she had to be helped onto the London-bound aircraft by her partner.
The woman is quoted as saying – ‘The delay in having an abortion could well have made my condition much worse … But why is it that such a simple medical treatment is not available, even when a mother’s life is at risk?’

Abortion is not a treatment for cancer, but real treatment for cancer would not have been withheld in this case even if as a consequence of that treatment the unborn baby had died, this would not have been a direct attack on the life of the unborn baby. Neither is abortion ‘a simple medical treatment’.   Abortion is the intentional killing of an unborn baby at any stage of his or her life from conception onwards.

It has now emerged that that the hospital consultants in question were ‘guided, but not instructed’ by the findings of the hospital ethics forum.   The forum, when approached by medical staff involved in making ethically difficult decisions, offers ‘informed opinion’.     So it was not the ethics forum that made the decision that the lady could not have her baby aborted in Ireland.   Just another example of media hype in an effort to influence ordinary people towards an acceptance of abortion. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pope Benedict's address to the Roman Curia

The Holy Father is becoming much more direct in his comments about the state of the Church as well as the world.  In the lead into the Christmas period he made perhaps some of his strongest comments yet. 
"The very future of the world is at stake" he told his audience   

The Church according to Pope Benedict "cannot and should not limit herself to transmitting just the message of salvation to her faithful."  It must also he said "protect the human being against self-destruction" - a destruction which comes from a warped understanding of marriage and human sexuality. 

A commentary on his speech to the Roman Curia can be seen on this youtube link to The Real Catholic TV episode of Michael Voris’s  “The Vortex”

To read the Pope's speech in full, see this link;

The Irish media and the A,B and C case

There has been a lot of media talk, and a lot of media writing, about the ECHR (European Court of Human Rights) judgement in the ABC v. Ireland case recently.
Most of the media coverage has been ‘over the top’, and a great part of the media coverage has totally misrepresented both the situation with regard to abortion in Ireland and the A,B and C judgement.

It is refreshing, therefore, to read this letter from a young mother of four.   The letter appeared in the Irish Times on 22 December, and it helps to put a correct perspective on the whole matter.

‘Madam – I fail to see what all the fuss over the European Court of Human Rights’ ruling is about, especially on the part of pro-abortion campaigners.  While it does indeed call for legislation on abortion on the basis of the 1992 X-case, in the real world the X case does not allow for abortion.
‘The ruling in X determined that a pregnant woman, (or child) was entitled to an abortion if there was an imminent threat to her life and that could only be avoided by abortion.  As medical and psychiatric evidence points out, there is never any medical necessity for abortion.
‘There may be cases where pregnancies need to be terminated early, (as in my case when I suffered from severe pre-eclampsia) but in those instances when a very pre-mature baby is delivered, every effort should be made to save the baby’s life, even if in the end it proves fruitless.  Similarly, no pregnant woman is denied life-saving treatment, even if as a consequence the baby dies.
‘Pro-abortion campaigners are being dangerously disingenuous by trying to convince us that abortion is a cure for cancer, depression or any other ill.  Yours, etc. …’

It might be interesting to note that the then Master of the Rotunda Maternity Hospital in Dublin at the time of the X case, when questioned during the course of the Government hearings on abortion in 2000 about the young girl at the centre of the case, replied that he felt that 

‘the evidence presented from the suicide point of view was not challenged, for whatever reason.  In other words it was not subject to scrutiny by a second or indeed a third opinion.’   At the time, he said, he had been asked, ‘Is this girl depressed?  I said, “No, she is upset, she is tearful but so would I be if I was 14 and I was in London waiting to have a termination  …”’.    

It is notable, too, that the clinical psychologist who was involved at the time when the girl was deemed to be suicidal replied as follows about the case when he was questioned at the 2000 hearings: ‘ …   I believed that was not something that was going to be dug out later.’     I wonder why.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Caritas Baby Hospital Bethlehem, fundraiser

The health studies students in Truro College (Cornwall) decided to raise some funds for the Caritas Baby Hospital in Bethlehem recently.   They raised over £100 for the Hospital earlier this month by baking and selling cakes in aid of the sick children of Palestine, and they are to be congratulated for their initiative!

Also in Cornwall, on Christmas Eve, 24 December, a special Christmas torchlight walk took place, starting at St. Mary’s Church in Penzance.   Here is an extract about the walk from the website of the charity, ‘Children’s Relief Bethlehem UK’: 

‘As we celebrate Christmas in peace and security spare a thought for those who are less fortunate.  While we enjoy Christmas fare many children in Bethlehem are malnourished and suffering as a direct result of the conflict between Israel and Palestine.  This conflict has created disastrous living conditions in Bethlehem, poverty is everywhere in the West Bank and hygiene levels are low.  Many children are malnourished and permanent water shortage exacerbates the situation.
‘Locally based charity Children’s Relief Bethlehem UK invites everyone to join them on a torch light walk around Penzance to raise awareness of the plight faced by the many children who live in Bethlehem today. …’

You, too, can help in the work of this wonderful Hospital by either sending a direct donation, or by becoming a sponsor for some specific aspect of the Hospital’s ongoing care for the people of Bethlehem and surrounding areas.
The website address is:  

A further account of the Bethlehem Caritas Baby Hospital can be found in my blog for 30 May 2009, which shows a lovely photograph of Sr. Donatella holding one of the young patients in the Hospital.

Friday, December 24, 2010

"The practice of abortion is a mortal wound in Europe's heart": British Royal

The Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues (PNCI) reports on an article in the December issue of First Things which quotes Lord Nicholas Windsor, first male blood member of the British royal family to be received into the Catholic Church since King Charles II on his deathbed in 1685 as saying that abortion of unborn children is "the single most grievous moral deficit in contemporary life".
The great-grandson of King George V penned the essay "Caesar's Thumb: Europeans should not forget their most pressing moral issue: abortion" in the December edition of First Things and reflects on modern European society's acceptance of abortion.  Lord Nicholas recognizes the toll abortion takes on women and other individuals: "This is a historically unprecedented cascade of destruction wrought on individuals: on sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, future spouses and friends, mothers and fathers - destroyed in the form of those to whom we owe, quite simply and certainly, the greatest solidarity and duty of care because they are the weakest and most dependent of our fellow humans."
He rightfully recognizes the role of elected leaders in enabling the destruction of abortion and challenges the political establishment to recognize that abortion is "one of the gravest and most egregious abuses of human rights that human society has ever tolerated". He confronts the embedding of abortion in modern culture, which has rendered abortion to be "normalized" and "invisible to politics in Europe" and continues to state that "it has become the first taboo of the culture."

The gravity of the abortion decision on the lives of millions of children around the world is recognized by Lord Nicholas: "The sophistry is overwhelming: If I choose and desire my child, then ipso facto I have granted it the right to live, and it will live. But the inverse is equally the case, by means of nothing more or less than my choice: Caesar's thumb is up, or Caesar's thumb is down. And when it comes to exporting this idea, we do it with zeal and determination through such institutions as the United Nations and the European Union."

Lord Nicholas addresses the impact of abortion on Europe: "The granting to ourselves of the right wantonly to kill, each year, millions of our offspring at the beginning of their lives: This is the question of questions for Europe.

The practice of abortion is a mortal wound in Europe's heart, in the center of Hellenic and Judeo-Christian culture."

In conclusion, the royal addresses the present need to"creatively envisage new and compelling answers to the problems that give rise to this practice, when the easiest solutions may be destructive or distorting ones." He equates abortion to the great moral and social evil of slavery and calls for a new effort dedicated to ending abortion stating, "Having so recklessly carried this poison out of the twentieth-the ugliest of all centuries-let us, for the sake of all that has been good and beautiful and true about the culture of the West, be clear that there is an urgent moral priority here. Call it a "New Abolitionism for Europe..."

PNCI commends Lord Nicholas Windsor for his coverage in boldly speaking out for the culture of life and for calling on political leaders of our day to work to ensure a "thumb's up" for the lives of children in the womb. PNCI looks forward to working with Lord and Lady Windsor on the New Abolitionism in Europe.

Historical perspective 
Lord Nicholas Windsor forfeited his line of succession when he converted to Catholicism and put his faith first in his life despite the high prize he would have to pay. The Act of Settlement of 1700 bars past or present Roman Catholics, and those who marry Roman Catholics, from succession.
His marriage to Paola Doimi de Frankopan in St. Peter's was the first British royal wedding to take place at the Vatican since the 16th century break with the Vatican. A number of British MPs welcomed the marriage in 2006 with an Early Day Motion as "the first legal and public marriage within the rites of the Roman Catholic Church of a member of the Royal Family since 1554 and the marriage of Queen Mary I to Philip II of Spain."
 The baptisms of sons Albert and Leopold at St. Peter's were the first British royal baptisms since the Reformation. By their Catholic baptisms, Albert and Leopold also lose their place in the royal succession. Upon Albert's Baptism, an Early Day Motion welcomed his Baptism noting "that he was the first member of the Royal Family to be Baptised a Catholic since 1688 and the so-called Glorious Revolution when James II was chased away from his Crown and country on account of the Baptism of his son, the Old Pretender."

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Extracts from Cry for Life, The Netherlands report on their March for Life which took place on Dec 11
The Dutch annual March for Life which was organized by Cry for Life and Christians for Truth, attracted some eight hundred participants who braved the cold day in the nation’s political capitol, The Hague. The attendance showed a considerable increase on last year and approximately 30% of the group were young people. This represented the largest participation since the Marches began eighteen years ago. 

The March for Life is held each year in December commemorating the date, December 18, 1980, when abortion was approved in the Dutch Parliament. Abortion up to the 24th week is allowed. This year the venue was changed. The March was held in The Hague, the political capitol of the Netherlands. We gathered at noon on the Plein Square located directly in front of the Parliament buildings. An hour was spent praying, singing spiritual hymns and listening to uplifting leaders in the movement who encouraged those present to continue the work.
The officials greeted us. Mr. Cees van der Staaij, a member of parliament enthusiastically thanked the assembled group for coming. Although he admitted that his Christian party is small, he promised to faithfully lead the fight in parliament against abortion. Benigno Blanco of the Right to Life in Spain, sent greetings in a letter of support. So did Jan Bor who represents a similar group in India. He mentioned how they oppose the girl child discrimination through abortion so prevalent in that country. Rev. Eberhard De Jong, the Catholic Bishop welcomed us and encouraged the group in
its opposition to abortion. From the USA former hippy, now a converted Christian,
Brian Kemper encouraged the group to be a shining light in the darkness. Allan
Parker founder of the Justice Foundation related that his group now has more than
5000 personal testimonies which will become legal affidavits from women who
have suffered from abortion. They are telling their painful stories, how abortion did unbearable hurt to them through the ministry, Operation Outcry. These collected testimonies will be presented in upcoming court cases dealing with abortion. More testimonies are needed Allan said, They would like to have at least two million to drop on the Supreme Court’s docket for all to see.
More and more young people are getting involved in the right to life movement. We were so happy to see such a large contingent of young people eager to serve. Jacques Brunt from Heartcry Revival came with many young people challenging them to stand for life. Fire church leader, Frank Pott brought his young people who did the necessary hands on work for an event like this. They marvelously took care of setting up and taking down the platform, tables and signs, and even helped us carry all the materials to the car parked in the underground garage, two floors down.  A Big help! Thanks!
The opposition had warned us that
they were going to stop the march. They began to call Cry for Life offices continually to jam the telephone lines. We did not know what to expect, especially after The Hague police chief quietly suggested that in view of the pending opposition, we might like to cancel our march? Well……No - was the answer!
The police did a wonderful job.
They gave us great protection with mounted police and four SWAT teams in armored vehicles ready for action at moment’s notice. Disorderly conduct was not going to be tolerated.. The city would not issue a permit for the opposition so they had no group right to be there. Any undue noise or violence would not be tolerated. They came in years past with a loud siren and air horns, screaming epithets and curses. But this was not Amsterdam! About 12 protesters showed up. Most were docile. Five were arrested for disorderly conduct. The March was conducted in silence to honor the total silence of the unborn aborted baby who has no voice in the struggle for his life. Three mounted police on huge beautiful horses led the March. We walked about two km., all around the Dutch
Parliament Complex, returning to the Plein Square for a final encouraging send off. The Plein Square was the perfect place to gather. Now that our annual group is three times what it was only two years ago, this new location afforded much more space than the Dam Square in Amsterdam. And there were not so many distracting tourists walking among us.
The leadership of the 2010 March for Life believes that this year even tops last year’s surprise huge attendance. So many new people have become part of the pro-life movement in Holland. And so many of these are from the youth – tomorrow’s leaders. They have pledged to fight abortion until it is abolished. They have a long way to go. During this past year, 30,000 abortions were made in Holland, making the aggregate total now more than 630,000 lives sacrificed on the altars of self- indulgence since 1980. But someday it will all end.
March for Life in Holland, December 11, 2010, was a day of victory. Rejoice with us as we go forward into a new year. Website

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Belgian proposal for euthanasia of dementia sufferers and minors

The European institute of Bioethics reports on two new initiatives to expand the culture of death in Belguim. 

Three members of the Belgian House of Representatives (Myriam Vanlerberghe, Renaat Landuyt and Maya Detiège) according to the report, have tabled draft legislation for euthanizing people suffering from dementia.

The authors start from the observation that the Act of May 28, 2002 on euthanasia does not apply to people with dementia even if they have drafted an advance directive while still capable of doing so.
The authors argue that dementia is generally progressive and suggest that anyone, even if already ill, could write an advance directive nominating the stage at which his/her life may be terminated without ant limitation as to timescale. These people may therefore be euthanized, even if completely unable to consent at the time of euthanasia (confusion, unconsciousness), and even if the forward declaration was written many years before.
The authors also attack conscientious objection by suggesting that if the doctor refuses to perform euthanasia, there would be an obligation to transfer the case to a doctor who will implement the written request.

The same authors have also filed October 28, 2010 a bill on euthanasia of minors.
They propose that a minor with the faculty of discernment (12 years) should be able to request euthanasia under the same conditions as an adult. The decision would be made in consultation with parents and a medical team comprising at least the attending physician, nurse practitioner, a child psychologist or psychiatrist and a social worker.

 If the minor has no power of discernment, parents could make the request for euthanasia themselves.
In case of premature birth it is proposed that the decision could be taken by the parents in consultation with a small medical team.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pope Benedict's address to health care workers

When Pope Benedict addressed a message to the participants in the 25th International Conference organised by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers on 15 November 2010 he said this:

‘ … The theme you have chosen this year “Caritas in Veritate: toward an equitable and human health care”, is of particular interest for the Christian community in which care for the human being, for his transcendent dignity and for his inalienable rights is central.  Health is a precious good for the person and the community to be promoted, preserved and protected, dedicating the necessary means, resources and energy in order that more and more people may benefit from it.
‘Unfortunately the fact that still today many of the world’s populations have no access to the resources they need to satisfy their basic needs, particularly with regard to health care, is still a problem.  It is necessary to work with great commitment at all levels to ensure that the right to health care is rendered effective by furthering access to basic health care.  In our day on the one hand we are witnessing an attention to health that borders on pharmacological, medical and surgical consumerism, almost a cult of the body, and on the other, the difficulty of millions of people in achieving a basic standard of subsistence and in obtaining the indispensable medicines for treatment.
‘In the health-care sector too, which is an integral part of everyone’s life and of the common good, it is important to establish a real distributive justice which, on the basis of objective needs, guarantees adequate care to all.  Consequently, if it is not to become inhuman, the world of health care cannot disregard the moral rules that must govern it. …
‘Justice in health care must be among the priorities on the agenda of Governments and International Institutions.
‘Unfortunately, alongside the positive and encouraging results there are opinions and mindsets that damage it: I am referring to issues such as those connected with the so-called “reproductive health”, with recourse to artificial techniques of procreation that entail the destruction of embryos, or with legalized euthanasia.
‘Love of justice, the protection of life from conception to its natural end and respect for the dignity of every human being should be upheld and witnessed to, even going against the tide: the fundamental ethical values are the common patrimony of universal morality and the basis of democratic coexistence.
‘The joint effort of all is required, but also and above all a profound conversion of one’s inner orientation.  Only if one looks at the world with the Creator’s gaze, which is a loving gaze, will humanity learn to dwell on earth in peace and justice, allocating the earth and its resources justly to every man and every woman, for their good.
‘For this reason, “I would advocate the adoption of a model of development based on the centrality of the human person, on the promotion and sharing of the common good, on responsibility, on a realization of our need for a changed lifestyle, and on prudence, the virtue which tells us what needs to be done today in view of what might happen tomorrow”
(Benedict XVI, Message for the 2010 World Day of Peace, …).’

Monday, December 20, 2010

Pro-Life Demonstration in Dublin

The IFPA (Irish Family Planning Association), which is an associate of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, is part funded by the Irish government.
This organisation, the IFPA, as readers are no doubt aware, is responsible for having brought what is known as the A, B and C case to the European Court of Human Rights where a judgement was handed down by the Court last week (please see my recent blogs, and also those of John Smeaton –

In response to the judgement and its implications for Ireland, and to draw attention to the fact that it is tax-payers’ money that was used to bring the A, B and C case to Europe (in a direct attack on the Constitution of Ireland under which the lives of both mother and baby are expressly protected), Youth Defence, at very short notice, organised a rally in defence of life on Saturday last.   The rally took place in Dublin city, starting at the premises of the IFPA and ending in O’Connell Street some hours later.   When the rally ended most of those taking part continued on down O’Connell Street to stop and pray at the Crib there.

At the start of the rally a small number of pro-abortion advocates also gathered outside the IFPA premises, but needless to say they were hugely outnumbered by pro-lifers – young, old, middle-aged, babies in prams, and children of all ages.    As usual with these rallies, there was great camaraderie and chat and that knowledge that we were all there with one purpose – to defend life at all its stages.    When the rally moved down to O’Connell Street the participants took up their positions along the whole length of the GPO (General Post Office), and similarly along at least an equal amount of space on the pedestrian island in the middle of O’Connell Street.    Here, together with many placards and posters showing the unborn baby at each stage of its growth, and alerting passers-by to the involvement of the IFPA in the abortion industry, a number of people held an enormous banner with this message:  Abortion never saves a woman’s life – it just kills a baby.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Irish Government press release on A,B and C case

This judgment from the European Court of Human Rights confirms that Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution is in conformity with the European Convention on Human Rights. In the case of two of the three applicants, Ms A and Ms B, the Court dismissed their applications, finding that there had been no violation of their rights under the Convention.

In the case of the third applicant, Ms C, the Court found that Ireland had failed to respect the applicant's private life contrary to Article 8 of the Convention, as there was no accessible and effective procedure to enable her to establish whether she qualified for a lawful termination of pregnancy in accordance with Irish law.

The Government will examine the judgement carefully and consider what steps are required to implement the judgment.

Cardinal Brady Statement on A,B and C case

The following statement was issued by Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, in response to the judgement issued by the European Court of Human Rights on A, B, and C v. Ireland:
 "Today's judgment leaves future policy in Ireland on protecting the lives of unborn children in the hands of the Irish people and does not oblige Ireland to introduce legislation authorising abortion"
The judgement given today by the European Court of Human Rights regarding the legal position on abortion in Ireland raises profound moral and legal issues which will require careful analysis and reflection.  Today's judgment leaves future policy in Ireland on protecting the lives of unborn children in the hands of the Irish people and does not oblige Ireland to introduce legislation authorising abortion.

The Irish Constitution clearly says that the right to life of the unborn child is equal to that of his or her mother.  These are the fundamental human rights at stake.  The Catholic Church teaches that neither the unborn child nor the mother may be deliberately killed. The direct destruction of an innocent human life can never be justified, however difficult the circumstances.  We are always obliged to act with respect for the inherent right to life of both the mother and the unborn child in the mother’s womb.  No law which subordinates the rights of any human being to those of other human beings can be regarded as a just law.

At the beginning of Advent on 27 November last Pope Benedict spoke about the coming of Christ into our world in the womb of the Virgin Mary. The Holy Father reflected on the light that this sheds on the wonder of all human life.  The embryo in the womb, he said, is not just a collection of cells but “a new living being, dynamic and marvellously ordered, a new individual of the human species. This is what Jesus was in Mary’s womb; this is what we all were in our mother’s womb.”

As a society we all have a responsibility to respond sensitively to any woman who finds herself dealing with an unplanned pregnancy.  I urge anyone in this situation to contact CURA, the crisis pregnancy support service.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A,B and C case Decision

The European Court of Human Rights today delivered its judgement on the A, B and C v Ireland case in which three women claimed their rights had been infringed because of lack of access to abortion. The  court rejected the legal arguments of the first two women, but said that the third woman's right to a private life under article 8 of the European Convention had been violated by a failure of the Irish state to make her rights regarding abortion accessible to her. The court claimed that the Irish Constitution gives women a right to abortion under the Constitution's protection of the equal right to life of the mother of an unborn child. The third woman was in remission from cancer at the time of the pregnancy and feared that the pregnancy would cause a relapse of her cancer.

John Smeaton, national director of the Society for Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), said: "The court has misinterpreted the Irish Constitution and confused abortion with healthcare. The Irish Constitution does not confer any right to abortion, nor can the right to life of unborn children in any way be held to be in competition with the right to life of their mothers. Abortion is not healthcare, and Ireland, where abortion is banned, has the world's best record for maternal health. If implemented in law, this judgement would legalize abortion in a wide range of circumstances.

"This case was never about helping women faced with a crisis pregnancy. It was instigated by the international abortion lobby, which has with the ultimate aim of forcing governments across the globe to recognise access to abortion as a legal right.

“This warped decision lacks all legitimacy. It is vitally important that the people of Ireland continue to stand-up for the rights of unborn children who are the youngest and most vulnerable members of society. Abortion not only kills children: it is deeply damaging to women".

 The court has failed to respect Ireland’s national sovereignty by unilaterally misinterpreting the Irish Constitution's protection of the right to life. Ireland must dismiss out of hand this interference in a very sensitive national and constitutional issue. Europe is again deciding over the heads of the Irish people. We wonder what will be next tomorrow?

In protecting the unborn from abortion Ireland is fulfilling its duty under international human rights law to protect the lives of its innocent citizens. In any case, the Irish Supreme Court has already ruled* that the Irish Constitution trumps the European Convention on Human Rights, because the Convention is not part of Irish law and therefore not directly applicable in Irish cases”, * McD. -v- L. & anor, 10 Dec 2009

The right to life is the fundamental human right on which all other rights depend. Article 2 of the European Convention recognises the right to life of everyone, regardless of race, nationality, sex, age, birth or any other status. This is also recognised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. No legally-binding international agreement has ever recognised access to abortion as a human right.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPS): healing a paralysed monkey

According to an article by Contact Genethique, Japanese researchers have succeeded in curing a small monkey that was paralysed following injury to its spinal cord thanks to the administration of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells).

The team of Prof Hideyuki Okano, from Keio university, injected the stem cells into the animal’s spinal column nine days after the injury. 

The cells used were obtained by implanting four types of genes in human skin cells to reprogramme them. 

The monkey began to move its limbs after two to three weeks. “After six weeks, the animal had recovered to the level where it was jumping around,” Prof Okano said. “It was very close to the normal level. Its gripping strength on the forefeet also recovered to up to 80 per cent."

This team of researchers had also achieved this result with a mouse. “We are carrying out experiments with the aim of using safer cells of better quality so that clinical tests on humans may one day be possible," indicated Prof Okano at a conference on molecular biology in Kobe. The results of this research are still too insufficient to allow their medical use.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Abortionists: Out Heroding Herod

The HLI (Human Life International) newsletter for 8 December carried a reflection on the role of St. Joseph in his protection of the Holy Family and, by extension, all families.   The following is a short extract from the piece, which is written by Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro:
‘As you no doubt recall, when the Magi told Herod the Great that a king had been born, the paranoid Herod determined to destroy the infant before he could rob him of all the riches and luxuries he’d spent a lifetime amassing for himself.
‘Of course, Herod didn’t dare expose his hidden plan to the three kings standing before him.  Instead, he convinced them to come back once they’d found the Child King so that he too could go and worship Him.
‘But as the days turned into weeks. Herod realized the kings weren’t coming back.  Flying into a rage, he ordered his soldiers to hunt down and slaughter every male child up to the age of two who was living in and around Bethlehem.  No exceptions.  And no mercy.
‘As it was then, so it is today.  Thousands of Herods are pursing innocent babies and killing them just as mercilessly as the first Herod.  Like their mentor, today’s Herods speak sweet-sounding words in an effort to hide their intentions.  These liberal elitists talk of “reproductive health” and “quality of life” and “ending discrimination” and the like.  But their hidden agenda is to kill the babies! …
‘The only differences between the Herod of old and the Herods of today are in the weapons used and the number of victims.  Herod used swords and spears to kill the Holy Innocents.  Today’s Herods use abortion, “The Pill” and other chemical weapons.  And whereas Herod killed a relatively small number of babies, today’s Herods have butchered literally hundreds of millions … with no end in sight! …’
But St. Joseph, as Monsignor Barreiro points out, by taking immediate action as directed by the angel, brought Our Lady and the Christ Child to safety in Egypt.

In Irish folklore there is a lovely account of an incident that supposedly happened during the flight into Egypt, when the Holy Family took refuge along the way in a cave.   A spider, to protect them, spun its web across the entrance to the cave as Herod’s soldiers were pursuing them.   As the soldiers passed the cave and saw the huge web they decided that their prey was not there as no spider, they concluded, could possibly have spun such a web in so short a time.  So they passed on and continued their search.  And that’s why in Irish folklore it is considered to be unlucky to kill a spider, as it was supposedly due to a spider that the Holy Family was saved.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ted Turner on climate change and China's one child policy

Mr. Ted Turner, ‘media mogul’, and long-time advocate of population control, has said that the ‘environmental stress’ on the planet Earth requires ‘radical solutions’. Such solutions, he says, would include that countries should follow China’s one-child policies in order to reduce global population over time.   He has also suggested that ‘fertility rights could be sold so that poor people could profit from their decision not to reproduce.’   

But former president of Ireland, Mary Robinson (she who decided to cut short her position as president in order to take up a more ‘important’ role at the United Nations, and who has now once again returned to Ireland with a new personal venture for which she may be receiving a handsome grant from the Irish government), considers that radical solutions for population control, such as that suggested by Ted Turner, might backfire.  She clearly agrees with the goal however it is simply the methodology she considers to be too radical, ‘If we do it the wrong way’, Mary Robinson is quoted as saying, ‘we can divide the world.  A lot of people in the climate world could communicate this very badly.’   Indeed.  We know where Mary Robinson’s concerns lie.

Just a comment – funny how the phrase ‘global warming’ has gone out of fashion and is hardly used at all nowadays, certainly not after the snow, ice, and freezing temperatures of recent weeks.  No, it’s now called ‘climate change’ – so that any weather conditions can be used to justify the ‘over-population’ myth.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A,B and C case Decision due Thursday Dec 16th

Next Thursday 16 December, the European Court of Human Rights is to hand down its ruling in the case of three women seeking to overturn Ireland’s constitutional protection for unborn children.

Please pray that the right to life of children continues to be protected in the Republic of Ireland from conception.
The importance of this case cannot be exaggerated. The Court must acknowledge the right to life of the weakest and most vulnerable members of the human family if it is to retain any credibility in defending the most fundamental right of all human beings.

While no international treaty has ever recognised access to abortion as a human right, the European Court has in previous cases failed in its obligation to uphold the right to life of children before birth. This case was instigated by the international abortion lobby because it has failed to persuade the people of Ireland to legalise abortion. But success in the European Court would also be a stepping stone towards the creation of an internationally recognised human right to abortion on demand.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Next "Viva la Vida" Conference

Recently, in my blog, I wrote about the very successful "Viva la Vida" Conference that took place in Dublin last month.   The Conference was organised by Youth Defence, and that same group fresh from organising the 2010 Conference – are already planning a similar Conference for next year.   The 2011 "Viva la Vida" Conference is planned to take place in Madrid in August, coinciding with World Youth Day.   

Youth Defence has put together a travel ‘package’ for attendance at both WYD and the Viva la Vida Conference and pro-life festival.  Full details are available on their website (  Click on ‘Youth Defence to host pro-life festival at World Youth Day’, and then click on ‘view preliminary brochure’.   Alternatively, contact YD via email:
Enjoy meeting young (and maybe not so young) pro-life people from all over the world!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

March for Life Netherlands Saturday Dec, 11th

This years March for Life will take place in the Hague (rather than Amsterdam) on Saturday December 11, 2010. Participants will gather at the Plein in the Hague, opposite the entrance of the Parliament Buildings.

We understand that prior to the March for Life, speakers will highlight the consequences of abortion and speak up against the practise of killing children in the womb. A silent March will commence at the Plein to commemorate children who’s lives were taken through abortion and to raise public awareness to the plight of the unborn in a world that sees abortion as a woman's right . In conclusion, there will be a public meeting held on the Plein in The Hague.

The March for Life is a collaboration of Schreeuw om Leven, Christians for Truth and Hulp Vervolgde Christenen. 

Other Contacts and numbers are as follows ,
tel: +31 35 624 43 51 or   cell phone +31 6 511 991 25  or cell phone +31 6 482 704 06

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Threats to life are an ethical and political emergency

Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski president of the Vatican's health care council, in a statement at a major conference told the meeting.  Threats to life, especially abortion, euthanasia and the destruction of embryos, have "introduced unheard of challenges for Christian social doctrine and call for adequate answers." according to a report

Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski made this affirmation at an international meeting sponsored by Rome's Catholic University of the Sacred Heart. L'Osservatore Romano reported today about his intervention at the conference, which was on the topic "Respect of Life and Development of Peoples."

The archbishop proposed that the ethical emergency caused by these threats to life is slowly being transformed into a political emergency.

The lack of respect for human life has "dramatic implications, in certain aspects, because they directly affect the dignity of the life of individuals and peoples," he said.

According to Archbishop Zimowski, the social doctrine of the Church must respond to the "social phenomena" generated in the wake of the legalization of abortion and some forms of euthanasia, and the common practice of artificial insemination and the freezing of human embryos.

The archbishop illustrated the breadth of the issue with a few key statistics: 46 million legal abortions are carried out every year in the world; 50,000 children are born every year in the United States through assisted fertilization techniques.

Cultural crisis

Archbishop Zimowski went on to single out three points for analysis. In the first place, he explained that public opinion is influenced by ideological campaigns that lead to perceiving attacks on life as "rights of individual liberty."

The Vatican official further observed how medical practice socially legitimizes these evils. "The scientific context and the moral authority of the health organizations are largely sufficient, in the eyes of many, to make them acceptable," he lamented.

And in the third place, the archbishop indicated that "the juridical norm of the state confers on these practices the accrediting of a law approved by the majority, which, hence, dispenses from subsequent scruples of conscience."

In this context, Archbishop Zimowski affirmed that we are before a genuine cultural crisis, at whose root is the phenomenon of the tendency to disassociate private conscience and the socio-civil systems.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Chilean Videos, "Viva Chile" and “Chile, the Miners, and Respect for Life”

We have just received links to newly published videos showing Chilean respect for all human life. "Viva Chile" is a really groundbreaking video and depicts the humanity of the unborn child in the womb. “Chile, the Miners, and Respect for Human Life” is the title of another video which points out that Chile in many ways is a model for other countries to follow, not only in the case of the recent successful rescue of the 33 miners trapped underground for 69 days.  Chile’s constitution and whole legal system protects all human life, including the child before birth.

Chileans are serious about protecting unborn children. All abortion is illegal. Mother and child have an equal right to life in law.

“Chile, the Miners, and Respect for Human Life” includes some moving video of the miners’ rescue, and also includes two wonderfully positive and creative TV spots which were originally aired on Chilean TV to inaugurate the government’s program to promote and protect the well-being of young children. That program, “Chile Crece Contigo” (“Chile Grows with You”), by definition includes the unborn child.

Chile’s pro-life policies have helped make Chile the safest place in all of Latin America for a mother to give birth. Chile has the lowest maternal mortality rate in the whole continent.

Chile’s new president, Sebastián Piñera, expressed a strong position against abortion during his campaign, and during his May 21st presidential speech to the nation, he announced a new government program called “Committed to Life” to offer help to pregnant women to carry their babies to term.

The government of Chile has also made strong declarations at recent UN meetings explaining that Chile is a pro-life country, and will not accept abortion.

The video can be seen at:  and

For more information about Latin America and the pro-life cause, contact Dan Zeidler, the representative in the U.S. for the Caracas-based Latin American Alliance for the

Monday, December 6, 2010

More propaganda from Irish President on Homosexual lifestyles

 Mrs. Mary McAleese, President of Ireland, has once more spoken out publicly in support of homosexuals and their lifestyle.   It seems to be quite a recurrent theme of hers – unless, of course, it is that the Irish media likes to dwell on these matters and to highlight any mention of the homosexual agenda, particularly from such a public figure as the President.    

On this occasion, Mrs. McAleese was speaking at a ‘Traveller Pride Week’, when awards were given for various categories of achievement within the traveller community.  ‘Travellers’ is the name now given to those who form that group within Irish society once known as ‘Tinkers’ (arising from their chief craft and occupation of tin-smithing).   They are a wonderful people, with great family and religious traditions, but over the past few decades their traditional way of life – travelling from place to place around Ireland, and providing valuable services for the ‘settled’ population – has become more and more difficult as traditional trades have been replaced by more ‘modern’ and ‘up-to-date’ technology.
Now, too, the so-called ‘rights’ and ‘equality’ gurus have taken up the ‘cause’ of the travelling people, and not always for their betterment.

To get back to Mrs. McAleese, however – addressing the travellers, she is quoted as having said that they have faced ‘more than a few Everests of negativity’, so that their stories of success are ‘exactly what we need to hear at this difficult time.’  She went on to say that minorities within the traveller community, ‘such as people who were gay’ had to ‘cope with being doubly excluded’.   ‘For many kids who grew up … as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, we know that very often the first words of exclusion that they will hear … will likely be in their own home.’   One of the ten Traveller Pride awards was won – surprise, surprise – by the ‘Gay Traveller Support Group’.     Another award winner declared that: ‘There are a hundred ways to be a Traveller and being gay is just one of them.’
Mrs. McAleese, too, despite the numerous requests and entreaties to her earlier this year not to do so, signed into law the ‘Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Bill’ with unseemly haste (see my blog of 29 July 2010).    This Bill, now enacted into law, is a big threat to family and life in Ireland, but Mrs. Aleese – despite her duty as custodian of the Constitution of Ireland – chose instead to ignore the special protection afforded and guaranteed to the family by the Constitution, and acquiesced instead with the promoters of the homosexual agenda both in Ireland and, particularly, in Europe.

The Irish national television station doesn’t lag behind in this matter either.   On a recent Friday night programme, the ‘Late Late Show’, the presenter was interviewing the members of a music/singing band.  Having touched on the family situation of three members of the band, and mention being made of their wives, children, etc., he came to the fourth member and congratulated him on his forthcoming marriage.   It emerged, however, that the ‘marriage’ and ‘engagement’ (also referred to) were between two homosexuals.   Sadly there was not a whisper of a reaction from the audience present.  I wonder what is the reaction of the population at large who watch this particular programme in their thousands, and whether we have been sufficiently indoctrinated to accept the homosexual lifestyle as being a normal way of life. 
Even the current weekend ‘Magazine’ produced by one of the Irish daily newspapers highlights homosexuals and makes reference to Mrs. McAleese’s support for them. (The ‘Magazine’ will be lying around in houses for a week from now, as it also contains all television and radio programmes for that period).

Sad times, when such propaganda can be so easily provided to ‘soften up’ the people of Ireland.

John Smeaton’s blog for 4 December 2010 touches on the same subject.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Pope Benedict's comments on condom use

Much has been said, and much has been written, about what Pope Benedict XVI is supposed to have said, or what he is not supposed to have said, in his interview with Peter Seewald, which is now part of his book The Light of the World.

In an interview with the National Catholic Register journal (not to be confused with the dissident ‘National Catholic Report’), Cardinal Raymond Burke gives a very interesting insight into his thoughts concerning the ‘controversy’ set in train by the media worldwide following some of Pope Benedict’s comments.

Cardinal Burke, when asked: What is the Pope saying here? Is he saying that in some cases condoms can be permitted?, replies:

‘No, he’s not.  I don’t see any change in the Church’s teaching.  What he’s commenting on – in fact, he makes the statement very clearly that the Church does not regard the use of condoms as a real or a moral solution – in the point he makes about the male prostitute is a certain conversion process taking place in an individual’s life.   He’s simply making the comment that if a person who is given to prostitution at least considers using a condom to prevent giving the disease to another person – even though the effectiveness of this is very questionable – this could be a sign of someone who is having a certain moral awakening.  But in no way does it mean that prostitution is morally acceptable, nor does it mean that the use of condoms is morally acceptable….’

To the question: Is ‘the world’ assuming too quickly that the Pope all of a sudden is open to ‘compromising’ on condoms, that this may be a small yet significant opening toward ‘enlightenment’ for the Catholic Church? …, Cardinal Burke has this to say:

‘From what I’ve seen of the coverage in the media, I think that’s correct, that that’s what they’re trying to suggest.  But if you read the text there’s no suggestion of that at all.  It’s clear that the Pope is holding to what the Church has always taught in these matters.  … The text itself makes it very clear that the Church does not regard it [the use of a condom] as a real or moral solution.   And when he says that it could be a first step in a movement toward a different, more human way of living sexuality, that doesn’t mean in any sense that he’s saying the use of condoms is a good thing.’     

In reply to further questions put to Cardinal Burke, he replied as follows:
NCR - So, if nothing has changed in Catholic teaching on sexuality or the use of condoms, has the conversation changed anything?
CB - ‘I don’t see it at all.  What I see is the Holy Father is [sic] presenting a classical position of the Church from her moral theology.  Self-mastery, self-discipline is not an immediate accompaniment, so we have to understand that it may take people time to reform their lives.  But that doesn’t suggest that he’s diminishing the moral analysis of the immoral actions of the male prostitute, for instance.’
NCR - It seems that perhaps some of what he says in the answers to Seewald’s questions might lead to a renewed conversation on the nature of married love and sexuality.
CB - ‘That’s what I would hope, and I think that’s what the Holy Father was suggesting in the beginning of that part of the conversation with Peter Seewald where he engages in that whole point about the trivialization of human sexuality.’        

The entire interview with Cardinal Burke can be accessed on the website of the National Catholic Register.   It is well worth reading

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pope Benedicts prayer for the protection of life and family

Catholic News Agency (CNA) report that at the end of the 'vigil for unborn life' last Saturday Pope Benedict XVI prayed for the protection of life and the family. The prayer, which was composed by Benedict, asks God to bless families and to inspire society to embrace each and every life.
Below is the complete prayer translated into English by Vatican Radio:

Lord Jesus,
You who faithfully visit and fulfill with your Presence
the Church and the history of men;
You who in the miraculous Sacrament of your Body and Blood
render us participants in divine Life
and allow us a foretaste of the joy of eternal Life;
We adore and bless you.

Prostrated before You, source and lover of Life,
truly present and alive among us, we beg you.

Reawaken in us respect for every unborn life,
make us capable of seeing in the fruit of the maternal womb
the miraculous work of the Creator,
open our hearts to generously welcoming every child
that comes into life.

Bless all families,
sanctify the union of spouses,
render fruitful their love.

Accompany the choices of legislative assemblies
with the light of your Spirit,
so that peoples and nations may recognize and respect
the sacred nature of life, of every human life.

Guide the work of scientists and doctors,
so that all progress contributes to the integral well-being of the person,
and no one endures suppression or injustice.

Give creative charity to administrators and economists,
so they may realize and promote sufficient conditions
so that young families can serenely embrace
the birth of new children.

Console the married couples who suffer
because they are unable to have children
and in Your goodness provide for them.

Teach us all to care for orphaned or abandoned children,
so they may experience the warmth of your Charity,
the consolation of your divine Heart.

Together with Mary, Your Mother, the great believer,
in whose womb you took on our human nature,
we wait to receive from You, our Only True Good and Savior,
the strength to love and serve life,
in anticipation of living forever in You,
in communion with the Blessed Trinity.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Report on "Vigil for Unborn Life"

Vatican information Services (VIS) have reported on the “Vigil for unborn life”, presided over by the Holy Father and which took place on Saturday last they report

Benedict XVI began his homily by noting that
"with this celebration of Vespers the Lord gives us the grace and joy to begin the new liturgical year", in which "we will feel that the Church takes us by the hand and, in the image of Most Holy Mary, expresses her maternity by enabling us to experience the joyful expectation of the coming of the Lord, Who embraces us all in His salvific and consoling love".

Highlighting the fact that the celebration was being enriched with the solemn prayer vigil for unborn life, the Pope thanked "everyone who has taken up this invitation, and those who specifically dedicate themselves to protecting human life in various situations of fragility, especially at its beginnings and in its first stages".

"The Incarnation reveals to us - with intense light and in a surprising way - that each human life has exalted and incomparable dignity. Man has an unmistakeable originality with respect to all other living things, which inhabit the earth. He is a unique and distinctive being, gifted with intelligence and free will, as well as being composed of material reality. He simultaneously and inseparably lives in the spiritual and the corporeal dimensions".

"God loves us deeply, completely, without distinction", the Pope explained. "He calls us to be His friends. He brings us to share in a reality, which is beyond all imagination, all thoughts or words: His divine life. Moved and grateful, we become aware of the value and incomparable dignity of each human being, and of the great responsibility we have towards others".

Human beings, said the Pope, "have the right not to be treated as objects to be possessed, or things to be manipulated at will; not to be reduced to the status of a mere tool for the benefit of others and their interests. Human beings are a good per se, and it is necessary always to seek their integral development. Love for everyone, if sincere, spontaneously turns into preferential attention for the weakest and poorest. This is the context of the Church's concern for nascent life, which is the most fragile, the most threatened by the selfishness of adults and the clouding of conscience. The Church continually repeats Vatican Council II's declarations against abortion and all other violations of unborn life: 'from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care'".

The Holy Father went on: "There are cultural tendencies which seek to anaesthetise people's consciences by using pretexts" Yet, "as concerns the embryo in the womb, science itself highlights its autonomy and capacity for interaction with the mother, the co-ordination of its biological processes, the continuity of its development, the increasing complexity of the organism. It is not simply an accumulation of biological matter, but a new living being, ... a new individual of the human race. This is how Jesus was in Mary's womb; this is how it is for each one of us in our mother's womb".

Benedict XVI lamented the fact that "even after birth the life of children continues to be exposed to abandonment, to hunger and misery, to sickness, abuse, violence and exploitation. The multiple violations of children's rights committed in the world are a painful wound on the conscience of all men and women of good will. Faced with the sad spectacle of the injustices committed against the life of man, both before and after birth, I reiterate John Paul II's impassioned appeal for responsibility: 'respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life! Only in this direction will you find justice, development, true freedom, peace and happiness!'"

In this context, the Pope also exhorted "political, economic and media leaders to do everything they can to promote a culture that is ever more respectful of human life, in order to create favourable conditions and support-networks that welcome life and ensure its development".

At the end of the celebration of Vespers the Holy Father read a "Prayer for Life" specially composed for this occasion.
which took place last Saturday