Fr Clovis: The Francis Effect

Cardinal Burke and Fr ClovisRecently, Father Linus Clovis, our Spiritual Director, addressed the pro-life and pro-family leaders gathered for the Rome Life Forum.  His talk was entitled “The Francis Effect”.

The Rome Life Forum was organised by Voice of the Family and the focus of the meetings was the Synod of the Family.

Father Clovis is the director of the Secretariat for Family and Life in St Lucia.  He has a doctorate in Mathematics and degrees in Theology, Canon Law and Latin Literature.  He was ordained by St John Paul II in 1983.

The following are some quotes from Father’s talk, but I encourage you to listen to the whole presentation:

“When a bishop — a Catholic bishop — can applaud sin publicly, it causes us to tremble. But this is essentially the ‘Francis Effect.’ It’s disarming bishops and priests, especially after the Holy Father said, ‘Who am I to judge?’ I as a priest say Mass, preaching, and I make a judgment about a sin, one breaking the ten commandments, I would be condemned for judging. I would be accused of being ‘more Catholic than the pope’. There used to be a saying — rhetorical — ‘is the pope Catholic?’ That’s no longer funny.”

“Obedience is owed to the pope, but the pope owes obedience to the word and the apostolic tradition. We have to obey the pope, but the pope himself must obey the written word. He must obey the tradition. He must respond to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Obedience is owed to the pope, but it is the duty of the pope to give the character of possibility to this obedience. The pope has to facilitate our obeying him, by himself being obedient to the Word of God. Pope Felix III told us, ‘an error that is not resisted is approved. A truth that is not defended is suppressed.’ So we have an obligation to resist error, and we must do everything that we can to promote the truth.”

“The popes are hated, and I don’t think we had a problem with that per se. We didn’t like it. But I think that I’ll be correct in saying that we prefer our popes to be hated by the world than loved by the world. Because if he’s loved by the world, it indicates that he’s speaking the language of the world. And we know that there can be no relationship, no fellowship, between light and darkness. St. Paul tells us this.”

“He complains we talk too much about abortion and contraception. Well…Do we? Again, the apostle tells us ‘convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching.’ So, we have an obligation to speak about those sins for which the punishment is eternal damnation in Hell. We’re talking about the salvation of souls. The Code of Canon Law ends, ‘the highest good is the salvation of souls.’ And this is why Christ founded His Church: for the salvation of souls.”

“Our concern is of course for the upcoming synod and what appears to be favored to bring remarried divorcees to communion. This is going to be a serious blow to the Church and to the faithful. Because already it has caused a lot of confusion and misunderstanding. Even in my pastoral experience I’ve encountered women who’ve said…a mother, her son’s divorced, remarried, and says, ‘Well the Holy Father allows him to communion, doesn’t he? I don’t think it’s right, father, but the pope…’ We have that problem already. And we see the pattern, is is done for Humane Vitae. It’s up there in the air, and of course it’s going to…become the law. You can do it. So, we really do need to have eyes firmly fixed on heaven, beseeching heaven, to guide our bishops.”

“There are rumors of the pastoral relaxation of Humanae Vitae….it’s not going to be contradicted, it’s not going to be deleted, it’s going to be extended. Which is so much more deadly. Because we have presented something that is evil as if it were good. And we are building this evil thing on a good foundation.”

“We love the pope! He is our father. He is our sweet Christ on Earth. There is concern among Catholics who are confused and fearful. And we and they do not wish to criticize, or worse still, to judge the pope. But, again, we are judging not his person or his office but the results of his actions. And we’re not doing this out of indignation. Because what he is doing is the cause of our indignation. And it is a threat to our faith. And it’s a threat to the Church. And it’s a danger to the salvation of souls.”

“‘Now it can be said…’ — this is written by…Melchior Cano, a famous theologian in the 16th century — ‘Now it can be said briefly that those who defend blindly and indiscriminately any judgment whatsoever of the Supreme Pontiff concerning every matter weaken the authority of the Apostolic See; they do not support it; they subvert it; they do not fortify it… . Peter has no need of our lies; he has no need of our adulation.’ In other words, we must be vigilant. We must be objective in our approach to the present crisis in the Church.”


Celebrating the Annunciation and 20 Years of Evangelium Vitae

Protecting life from conception through to natural death

Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38

These words of great trust in God, and self-giving, were those of Mary as the Angel Gabriel came to her, and announced the conception of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Today we, in the Catholic Church, celebrate that moment.  A moment where Mary put aside all her fear and her wondering and offered herself totally to the will of God and to the gift of life.

It is little wonder then, that St John Paul II chose this day 20 years ago, to promulgate his Encyclical Letter “Evangelium Vitae – On the Value and Inviolability of Human Life.”

This great encyclical has informed and encouraged many in the pro-life movement as we work daily to build a culture of life.  For us here at Family Life International NZ, it is at the very heart of everything we do!

In it we are reminded that each and every one of us are called to be a people of life and for life and that just like the Angel Gabriel we are being asked to profess with humility and courage the Gospel of Life, which, St John Paul II reminds us, is the person of Jesus (see #29).

When St John Paul II appealed to every person to “respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life!” (#5), he meant every human life from the moment of conception through to the very last stages of life.  He also reminded us that “we must not fear hostility or unpopularity, and we must refuse any compromise or ambiguity which might conform us to the world’s way of thinking.” (#82).

Outlining so many important ways we can promote a culture of life and a civilization of love, St John Paul II appeals to us to “discover anew the humility and the courage to pray and fast so that power from on high will break down the walls of lies and deceit.”

And so today, on the feast of the Annunciation, and on the anniversary of this great encyclical, we once again take up the challenge, in humility, to pray unceasingly,  to speak courageously, to serve with love, and to work tirelessly for the renewal of society, so that every human life from conception through to natural death is respected and given what is inherently theirs – a right to life.

Synod on the Family: Consultation of the New Zealand Bishops

FamilyThe New Zealand Catholic Bishops have released their consultation questionnaire in preparation for this year’s Synod on the Family which is to be held in Rome, October 5th to 19th.

Bishop Charles Drennan of Palmerston North will be participating in the Synod this October.

Responses to the questionnaire need to be submitted before Monday 9th March.

The focus of this second phase is supposed to be “on practical pastoral approaches which strengthen the beauty of married life and accompany those whose relationships are not unfolding within the bond of marriage.”

However, this paragraph is found in the Bishop’s statement:

We are acutely aware of the many people who in their hearts consider themselves Catholic but are not regularly at Church. Please encourage these family members and friends to participate. Also of particular interest to us are those who see themselves as beyond the Church: perhaps some divorced and remarried, or gay women and men. We urge you to share your experiences through the questionnaire. No-one walks beyond the reach of the Good Shepherd.

And it was concerning to read the following (emphasis mine):

The proposed questions which follow and the reference numbers to the paragraphs in the Relatio Synodi are intended to assist the bishops’ conferences in their reflection and to avoid, in their responses, a formulation of pastoral care based simply on an application of doctrine, which would not respect the conclusions of the Extraordinary Synodal Assembly and would lead their reflection far from the path already indicated. 

Given the grave scandal that occurred during the last Synod on the Family, every Catholic, especially those who are faithfully trying to live their vocation, is encouraged to speak the truth in love.

Family Life International NZ is one of the supporting organisations of Voice of the Family, an initiative which has been formed specifically to offer expertise and resources on family issues before, during and after the Synods on the Family.

The submission made by Voice of the Family to the Pontifical Council of the Family’s consultation is a useful document to read prior to answering the questions in the survey.

Familiaris Consortio – On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World – is another very important document to peruse.  This document was prepared by Saint Pope John Paul II at the end of the 1980 Synod on the Family.

The Lineamenta “The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World” contains the text of the Relatio Synodi (the final document of the last Synod) and the discussion questions.

The questions in the New Zealand Catholic Bishops survey are presented below for your reflection.  A Word document can also be downloaded at the Catholic Bishops website.  Answers to the questions can be submitted on this online form.

As well as filling out the survey, let each of us ensure that we pray daily for Pope Francis, as well as every Cardinal, Bishop and Priest – especially those who will participate in the Synod on the Family.

Consultation Questions in preparation for the Ordinary Synod on the Family October 5th to 19th, 2015

Does the description of the various familial situations in the Relatio Synodi correspond to what exists in the Church and society today? What missing aspects should be included?

The proposed questions which follow and the reference numbers to the paragraphs in the Relatio Synodi are intended to assist the bishops’ conferences in their reflection and to avoid, in their responses, a formulation of pastoral care based simply on an application of doctrine, which would not respect the conclusions of the Extraordinary Synodal Assembly and would lead their reflection far from the path already indicated.

1. What initiatives are taking place and what are those planned in relation to the challenges these cultural changes pose to the family (cf. ns. 6 – 7): which initiatives are geared to reawaken an awareness of God’s presence in family life; to teaching and establishing sound interpersonal relationships; to fostering social and economic policies useful to the family; to alleviating difficulties associated with attention given to children, the elderly and family members who are ill; and to addressing more specific cultural factors present in the local Church?

2. What analytical tools are currently being used in these times of anthropological and cultural changes; what are the more significant positive or negative results? (cf. n. 5)

3. Beyond proclaiming God’s Word and pointing out extreme situations, how does the Church choose to be present “as Church” and to draw near families in extreme situations? (cf. n. 8). How does the Church seek to prevent these situations? What can be done to support and strengthen families of believers and those faithful to the bonds of marriage?

4. How does the Church respond, in her pastoral activity, to the diffusion of cultural relativism in secularized society and to the consequent rejection, on the part of many, of the model of family formed by a man and woman united in the marriage and open to life?

5. How do Christian families bear witness, for succeeding generations, to the development and growth of a life of sentiment? (cf. ns. 9 – 10). In this regard, how might the formation of ordained ministers be improved? What qualified persons are urgently needed in this pastoral activity?

6. To what extent and by what means is the ordinary pastoral care of families addressed to those on the periphery? (cf. n. 11). What are the operational guidelines available to foster and appreciate the “desire to form a family” planted by the Creator in the heart of every person, especially among young people, including those in family situations which do not correspond to the Christian vision? How do they respond to the Church’s efforts in her mission to them? How prevalent is natural marriage among the non-baptized, also in relation to the desire to form a family among the young?

7. A fixed gaze on Christ opens up new possibilities. “Indeed, every time we return to the source of the Christian experience, new paths and undreamed of possibilities open up” (n. 12). How is the teaching from Sacred Scripture utilized in pastoral activity on behalf of families. To what extent does “fixing our gaze on Christ” nourish a pastoral care of the family which is courageous and faithful?

8. What marriage and family values can be seen to be realized in the life of young people and married couples? What form do they take? Are there values which can be highlighted? (cf. n. 13) What sinful aspects are to be avoided and overcome?

9. What human pedagogy needs to be taken into account — in keeping with divine pedagogy — so as better to understand what is required in the Church’s pastoral activity in light of the maturation of a couple’s life together which would lead to marriage in the future? (cf. n. 13)

10. What is being done to demonstrate the greatness and beauty of the gift of indissolubility so as to prompt a desire to live it and strengthen it more and more? (cf. n. 14)

11. How can people be helped to understand that a relationship with God can assist couples in overcoming the inherent weaknesses in marital relations? (cf. n. 14) How do people bear witness to the fact that divine blessings accompany every true marriage? How do people manifest that the grace of the Sacrament sustains married couples throughout their life together?

12. How can people be made to understand that Christian marriage corresponds to the original plan of God and, thus, one of fulfillment and not confinement? (cf. n. 13)

13. How can the Church be conceived as a “domestic Church” (Lumen Gentium, 11), agent and object of the work of evangelization in service to the Kingdom of God?

14. How can an awareness of this missionary task of the family be fostered?

15. The Lord looks with love at the Christian family and through him the family grows as a true community of life and love. How can a familial spirituality be developed and how can families become places of new life in Christ? (cf. n. 21)

16. What initiatives in catechesis can be developed and fostered to make known and offer assistance to persons in living the Church’s teaching on the family, above all in surmounting any possible discrepancy between what is lived and what is professed and in leading to a process of conversion?

17. What initiatives can lead people to understand the value of an indissoluble and fruitful marriage as the path to complete personal fulfilment? (cf. n. 21)

18. What can be done to show that the family has many unique aspects for experiencing the joys of human existence?

19. The Second Vatican Council, returning to an ancient ecclesial tradition, expressed an appreciation for natural marriage. To what extent does diocesan pastoral activity acknowledge the value of this popular wisdom as fundamental in culture and society? (cf. n. 22)

20. How can people be helped to understand that no one is beyond the mercy of God? How can this truth be expressed in the Church’s pastoral activity towards families, especially those which are wounded and fragile? (cf. n. 28)

21. In the case of those who have not yet arrived at a full understanding of the gift of Christ’s love, how can the faithful express a friendly attitude and offer trustworthy guidance without failing to proclaim the demands of the Gospel? (cf. n. 24)

22. What can be done so that persons in the various forms of union between a man and a woman — in which human values can be present — might experience a sense of respect, trust and encouragement to grow in the Church’s good will and be helped to arrive at the fulness of Christian marriage? (cf. n. 25)

23. How is the family emphasized in the formation of priests and other pastoral workers? How are families themselves involved?

24. Are people aware that the rapid evolution in society requires a constant attention to language in pastoral communication. How can an effective testimony be given to the priority of grace in a way that family life is conceived and lived as welcoming the Holy Spirit?

25. In proclaiming the Gospel of the Family, how can the conditions be created so that each family might actually be as God wills and that society might acknowledge the family’s dignity and mission? What “pastoral conversion” and what further steps towards an in-depth examination are being done to achieve this?

26. Are people aware of the importance of the collaboration of social and civil institutions on behalf of the family? How is this actually done? What criteria are used to inspire it? In this regard, what role can be played by family associations? How can this collaboration be sustained even in a bold repudiation of the cultural, economic and political processes which threaten the family?

27. How can relations between family, society and civil life be fostered for the benefit of the family? How can the support of the State and the international community be fostered on behalf of the family?

28. How is marriage preparation proposed in order to highlight the vocation and mission of the family according to faith in Jesus Christ? Is it proposed as an authentic ecclesial experience? How can it be renewed and improved?

29. How does the catechesis of Christian initiation present an openness to the vocation and mission of the family? What practices are seen as most urgent? How is the relation among Baptism, Eucharist and marriage proposed? What emphasis is given to the character of the catechumenate and mystagogy which is often a part of marriage preparation? How can the community be involved in this preparation?

30. Does marriage preparation and accompanying couples in the initial years of married life adequately value the important contribution of the witness and sustenance which can be given by families, associations and family movements? What positive experiences can be reported in this regard?

31. The pastoral accompaniment of couples in the initial years of family life — as observed in synodal discussion — needs further development. What are the most significant initiatives already being undertaken? What elements need further development in parishes, dioceses or associations and movements?

32. What criteria in a proper pastoral discernment of individual situations are being considered in light the Church’s teaching in which the primary elements of marriage are unity, indissolubility and openness to life?

33. Is the Christian community able to be pastorally involved in these situations? How can it assist in discerning the positive and negative elements in the life of persons united in a civil marriage so as to guide and sustain them on a path of growth and conversion towards the Sacrament of Matrimony? How can those living together be assisted to decide to marry?

34. In a particular way, what response is to be given to problems arising from the continuity of traditional forms of marriage in stages or those between families?

35. Is the Christian community in a position to undertake the care of all wounded families so that they can experience the Father’s mercy? How does the Christian community engage in removing the social and economic factors which often determine this situation? What steps have been taken and what can be done to increase this activity and the sense of mission which sustains it?

36. How can the identification of shared pastoral guidelines be fostered at the level of the particular Church? In this regard, how can a dialogue be developed among the various particular Churches cum Petro and sub Petro?

37. How can the procedure to determine cases of nullity be made more accessible, streamlined and possibly without expense?

38. With regard to the divorced and remarried, pastoral practice concerning the sacraments needs to be further studied, including assessment of the Orthodox practice and taking into account “the distinction between an objective sinful situation and extenuating circumstances” (n. 52). What are the prospects in such a case? What is possible? What suggestions can be offered to resolve forms of undue or unnecessary impediments?

39. Does current legislation provide a valid response to the challenges resulting from mixed marriages or interreligious marriages? Should other elements be taken into account?

40. How can the Christian community give pastoral attention to families with persons with homosexual tendencies? What are the responses that, in light of cultural sensitivities, are considered to be most appropriate? While avoiding any unjust discrimination, how can such persons receive pastoral care in these situations in light of the Gospel? How can God’s will be proposed to them in their situation?

41. What are the most significant steps that have been taken to announce and effectively promote the beauty and dignity of becoming a mother or father, in light, for example, of Humanae Vitae of Blessed Pope Paul VI? How can dialogue be promoted with the sciences and biomedical technologies in a way that respects the human ecology of reproduction?

42. A generous maternity / paternity needs structures and tools. Does the Christian community exercise an effective solidarity and support? How? Is it courageous in proposing valid solutions even at a socio-political level? How can adoption and foster-parenting be encouraged as a powerful sign of fruitful generosity? How can the care and respect of children be promoted?

43. The Christian lives maternity / paternity as a response to a vocation. Is this vocation sufficiently emphasized in catechesis? What formation is offered so that it might effectively guide the consciences of married couples? Are people aware of the grave consequences of demographic change?

44. How does the Church combat the scourge of abortion and foster an effective culture of life?

45. Fulfilling their educational mission is not always easy for parents. Do they find solidarity and support from the Christian community? What suggestions might be offered in formation? What steps can be taken to acknowledge the role of parents in raising children, even at the socio-political level?

46. How can parents and the Christian family be made aware that the duty of transmitting the faith is an intrinsic aspect of being a Christian?



Restoring the culture in 2015

All chilren have a right to life



While the summer sun keeps shining and the children are playing and enjoying their break from school, the seemingly endless days of summer with limited commitments and a generally slow start to each day, is coming to a close for most.

And it needs to!

This year – 2015 – is an important year for all those who work to restore the culture.

Throughout the world each individual country has its own specific attacks against life, faith and family to defend.  The common thread is that self-centredness and relativism is now embedded into cultural mores; one’s neighbour is disregarded and the focus is on so-called  personal “rights”.  What results is a denigration of the dignity of the human person.  We have chaos.

As 2015 unfolds the reality of the task ahead hits with an almighty thump!  The urgency with which we must act is critical.  Lives are at stake.  Eternal souls are in danger.

What is on the horizon as 2015 unfolds?

More preborn children will be aborted because their mothers feel they have no other choice.
14,073 abortions were recorded in the year ended December 2013.  The majority were killed before 12 weeks.  Many are unaware that New Zealand’s law allows abortion for the physical and mental health of the mother until birth.

73 preborn children, 20 weeks+ were aborted in 2013.

It is generally considered that a 24 week baby is ‘viable’ – that means he or she has a good chance of surviving.  In 2013 Statistics NZ record that 13 precious children 24 weeks+ were not afforded that chance to live.

So-called Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs) are becoming more popular
Organisations like Family Planning are pushing LARCs as a great way to prevent pregnancy – especially to youth.  LARCs are devices such as IUDs and ‘contraceptive’ implants like Jadelle or Implanon; as well as the Depo Provera shot.

These so-called contraceptives, while aiming to prevent conception in the first place, can also work to prevent a newly conceived human being from implanting in the womb.  This action is abortifacient (causes early abortions).

It is impossible to calculate how many little ones are aborted this way each year.

Sex education is a constant threat to our youth
The promotion of sex education is designed to desensitize our youth into believing that sexual relations outside of marriage is normal and to be desired.  Increasingly, the aim of sex education is to affirm homosexuality and to engineer the notion that gender is fluid.

Following the horrifying Roastbusters incident, a great deal of attention has been turned towards the issue of consent.  While it is incredibly important for both boys and girls to understand just what rape actually is (in a society where anything to do with sex has been confused), it should be noted that this emphasis on consent still reinforces the notion that sexual activity outside of marriage, when mutually desired, is acceptable.

Sex education is responsible for much of the moral decay we see in society today as it has chipped away at morality – generation after generation.

The ever present threat of euthanasia and assisted suicide
While there is no Bill sitting in the ballot box right now waiting for selection on this issue, pro-euthanasia/assisted suicide propaganda is being regularly fed to the New Zealand public.  The aim is to sway people into believing that every person should have the right to end their own lives.  Then, when the time is perceived to be right, the euthanasia advocates will pounce, bringing in legislation (most likely the End of Life Choice Bill), that will lead us down a slippery slope of legalised killing on demand.  The old, the young, the mentally and physically disabled will all be at risk.

The latest piece of euthanasia propaganda was published by Stuff yesterday.

Synod on the Family
The second Synod on the Family is to take place October 4th to 25th in Rome.  It directly follows the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia (September 22nd to 27th).

Given the drama of the first Synod on the Family and the significant discussions surrounding homosexuality and communion for the civilly divorced and remarried, this second Synod is most important.

The theme of the next Synod is The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world.

Ongoing threats to a culture of life and a civilization of love
Of course the above points are just a few of the serious attacks on life, faith and family in the coming year.  We could easily add to the list:

  • IVF and the insane loss of life in the process, as well as the dilemma of what to do with the thousands of surplus frozen embryos;
  • the ongoing attack against marriage and family through the legal status of same-sex unions (what is commonly referred to as ‘marriage’);
  • the search and destroy mission of many medical professionals who wish to eradicate people with Down syndrome, Spina bifida and other disabilities before they are born, and to further shorten the lives of those preborn babies who may be born still or live for only a short time after birth;
  • the targeted sterilization programme in South Auckland, which is a low socioeconomic area with a high population of Maori and Pacific Islanders; and
  • the push to remove abortion from the Crimes Act.

The attacks are great and numerous.  They cannot be underestimated.  Yes, it may even seem overwhelming.  And it is if only a few have the courage to speak up and do something!

This list (which is incomplete) should serve to encourage each and everyone of us to act with URGENCY.  Lives are at stake.  Eternal souls are at risk of being lost forever.

The team at Family Life International know we have a big year ahead.

Through our Family Life Crisis Pregnancy Centres in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin we have the opportunity to talk with mothers all over the country (and the world) about their unexpected pregnancy concerns.  We offer practical help, friendship and support.  Already this year we have fielded a significant number of emails, Facebook messages, texts and phone calls.  Service to those who are in their greatest hour of need is key.

We aim to educate by giving the facts, to as many people as we possibly can – both the young and the old – through educational presentations, print publications and our online presence – website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube.

And we pray.

“You can do more than pray once you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed” rightly said the philosopher John Bunyan.

Prayer is what sustains us and gives us the courage to keep going.  Our faith and trust in God, and obedience to His commands, is the foundation from which all our works to restore the culture to one that embraces life, flows.

We are all called to be at the service of life, St John Paul II reminds us.  It is every person’s duty everywhere, at all times.  Each of us has very specific talents and life experiences that are very necessary in this great battle.

How will you work to restore the culture in 2015?


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Abby Johnson challenges New Zealand pro-lifers

Abby Johnson and Bishop Patrick Dunn
Bishop Patrick Dunn, Bishop of Auckland with Abby Johnson.

Over 500 people traveled to Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin to hear the powerful and inspiring story of Abby Johnson over the last week.

Abby is a former clinic director of a Planned Parenthood facility in Bryan/College Station, Texas.  She worked there out of a great desire to help women in need.  However, after eight years, Abby realised that she had been duped; that Planned Parenthood were only about the acquisition of money and that their services weren’t really as comprehensive as they liked to let on.

After viewing an ultrasound guided abortion of a 13-week-old little boy, Abby’s view of abortion changed and she came to understand over the coming days that she could no longer work at Planned Parenthood.

Abby was invited to come to New Zealand by Family Life International.  The time available was limited, so the decision was made to have presentations in the three city centres where Family Life International has a presence with their John Paul II Centres for Life.  It was hoped that Abby would convey how urgent it is to act, the best way to reach abortion workers, and to give encouragement to those who work so tirelessly for life.

Here are just some of the points that came through from the four talks Abby gave throughout New Zealand:

We must act
Babies are dying, women are being hurt from abortion.  It is horrific. If the government were setting up facilities where women could bring their already born children to be killed, what would you do?  Society would (hopefully) be outraged.  We must be outraged that babies are being torn apart or poisoned in their mother’s wombs.

Each one of us needs to do more
Abby asked for each person to think about what they could do to help make abortion unthinkable.  “If you are not doing anything at all then do something, if you are already doing something, then do more” was an important point that came through every talk.  Prayer is important – vital.  But prayer should lead us to act.

Christians need to start worrying about offending the heart of God
This statement cuts to the very centre of the issue.  We Christians are afraid of offending people.  But we need to worry about offending the heart of God.  Nothing must offend God more than the destruction through abortion of His little ones, made in His image and likeness – and our inaction, our apathy.

There are many ways to act
Every person has gifts to bring the pro-life movement.  Here are just some of the ways you might be able to make a difference:

  • Volunteer at your local pregnancy centre – counselling, answering phones, cleaning, gardening, office administration, fundraising, sorting clothes and baby equipment, teaching classes to mothers, pampering the mothers with beauty treatments…  Medical professionals are also needed:  doctors, nurses, midwives, ultrasound technicians…
  • Reforming the law around abortion.  It concerned Abby that while there is a big push for abortion to come out of the Crimes Act, New Zealand pro-lifer’s were not working on legislation to promote life (that I am aware of – MK).
  • Social Media.  Use social media to our advantage, to speak the truth about the humanity of the preborn child and to speak of the reality of abortion.
  • Education is vitally important.  Some people are born teachers and we have important teaching to do!
  • Presence outside abortion facilities.  We need pray-ers and people to counsel women who are going into the abortion facilities.

Our presence outside abortion facilities is vital
It was noted that most of the abortions in New Zealand occur in public hospitals and this can pose a problem. However this is a brilliant opportunity to educate the general public about what is going on in our hospitals and what abortion actually is!

When we stand outside of abortion facilities we are not there to protest!  It is a powerful witness to what is occurring within the walls of the building.  Sidewalk counsellors have an opportunity to talk to those who are going into the facility for an abortion.  They are able to listen and offer real alternatives and practical support to women who are facing their greatest hour of need at that time.  Those present are also able to reach out to abortion workers, to be a friendly face.  We are not there to condemn, we are there to offer hope and to serve.

Abby encouraged those present at the talks to try praying outside an abortion facility – especially the youth and priests, bishops and pastors of other denominations.  40 Days for Life is a great opportunity to do this.  It was encouraging for those present to hear that it is normal for those who go outside the facilities to feel nervous and “weird” about it.

Abby Johnson and Rebecca and Michael Loretz
Abby Johnson with Mr and Mrs Loretz in Auckland.
Voice for Life Canterbury and Abby Johnson
Youth from Voice for Life Canterbury traveled from Christchurch to Dunedin to hear Abby Johnson speak.
Bishop Colin Campbell and Abby Johnbson
Bishop Colin Campbell, Bishop of Dunedin meets with Abby Johnson
Abby Johnson in Wellington
There was a great turn out in Wellington.

It was an honour to meet so many wonderful people throughout the country as I travelled with Abby and Heather. So many of you are doing many wonderful things to promote life and you genuinely want to do more.  It was encouraging for me to see that.  For more information about what you can do to help Family Life Crisis Pregnancy Centres in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin or in the other regions of New Zealand, I would love to hear from you.  Send me an email here.

Together we will make abortion unthinkable in this land!





Remembering our little ones who have died not yet born

People gathered throughout New Zealand on Friday night for Masses of Remembrance and a Vigil for Life.

Held in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin, the Masses were poignant reminders of the tragic loss of life and pain people experience because of still birth, miscarriage, abortion and IVF.

The date of November 21st was chosen as it was the eve of one of New Zealand’s most tragic days in history.  A day where almost 2,000 embryos were given their death sentence as they reached their legal “use-by” date of ten years.

Bishop Patrick Dunn and three other priests celebrated a Mass of Remembrance in Auckland.  Remembered were all babies lost through miscarriage, stillbirth, abortion as well as the embryos discarded through IVF, and their parents.
Bishop Patrick Dunn and three other priests celebrated a Mass of Remembrance in Auckland. Remembered were all babies lost through miscarriage, stillbirth, abortion as well as the embryos discarded through IVF, and their parents.

The Mass of Remembrance in Auckland, celebrated by Bishop Patrick Dunn, was well attended.  Participants processed to the front of the Church after Bishop Dunn’s compassionate homily to light candles for babies lost.  The sight of so many flames a stark reminder of just how precious human life is.

Some of the candles lit to remember the little ones in Auckland.
Some of the candles lit to remember the little ones in Auckland.

A Mass of Remembrance was also held in Dunedin, with the full blessing of Bishop Colin Campbell.  This was the first Mass of its kind in the diocese.  Many of those present appreciated the opportunity to mourn and remember.

In Dunedin candles were placed at Our Lady's feet in remembrance of babies lost.
In Dunedin candles were placed at Our Lady’s feet in remembrance of babies lost.

Family Life International NZ’s John Paul II Centre for Life in Wellington holds a regular Vigil for Life.  This month, it was held to coincide with the Masses of Remembrance in Auckland and Dunedin.

The Mass was celebrated by Archbishop John Dew, and was followed by Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and a rosary pilgrimage to the front of Wellington Hospital.  Here, more than 2000 preborn babies loose their lives to abortion every year.

Archbishop John Dew in adoration at the Wellington Vigil for Life.
Archbishop John Dew in adoration at the Wellington Vigil for Life.

Close to the abortion facility, Te Mahoe, stands the fertility clinic.  Significantly many human embryos loose their lives here every week.

The Vigil for Life is a very special opportunity for locals to pray for an end to abortion and make a regular act of love for the preborn babies and their families.

Participants in the Wellington Vigil for Life process to the local abortion facility.
Participants in the Wellington Vigil for Life process to the local abortion facility.

The team at Family Life International NZ believe it is important to remember and to pray for all those who have lost in these tragic circumstances.  In the presence of Our Lord in the most Blessed Sacrament, hope can be found.

“The Lord is close to the broken-hearted; those whose spirit is crushed he will save.”
Psalm 33:19

Final Report of the Synod on the Family released in English

Holy Family IconThe final report (Relatio Synodi) of the Synod on the Family which was held in Rome October 5th to 19th has finally been released in English.

Each paragraph of the report was voted on by the Bishops at the Synod.  A majority of 2/3 in favour of the paragraph is required for it to remain in the final published copy.  However, this time, three paragraphs failed to reach the 2/3 majority and yet they are still included in the final document.  These paragraphs relate to homosexuality and Holy Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried.

The three paragraphs are:

  • #52 on access to the sacraments for those divorced and civilly remarried.  104 Synod Fathers voted for this paragraph while 74 rejected it.
  • #53 on Spiritual Communion versus sacramental communion.  112 Synod Fathers voted for and 64 against this paragraph.
  • #55 on the pastoral attention for people who have a tendency towards homosexuality. 118 Synod Fathers voted in favour of this paragraph while 62 did not.

It is surprising how long it has taken for the final report to be published in English considering the controversial mid-term report was released in five languages at the same time.

A portal web page is available on Family Life International NZ’s website with links to important Synod documents and relevant Church teaching on marriage and family.  Also available are some of the more memorable video interviews with prelates such as Cardinal Pell and Burke.