40 Days for Life

40 days of hopeImage

I remember during my early years at university becoming friends with an exchange student from West Germany. When she left her home country, a wall divided it from the communist country of East Germany, and people had been killed for trying to cross that wall. By the time her year in New Zealand was over, Germans could freely travel across the border between the two Germanys, and official German reunification had taken place within a year.

When she came to New Zealand, the fall of the Berlin wall was a distant hope, with few people expecting it to happen within their lifetime. It seemed beyond reasonable for the wall to fall.

But it did.

The flame of resistance within the eastern bloc countries had been lit a decade before when Pope John Paul II visited his home country of Poland. His battle cry, “Be not afraid”, gave the people of Poland hope. A hope that spread throughout Eastern Europe, and contributed greatly to the eventual collapse of communism in Europe.

That same battle cry was also for the pro-life movement which was always so close to his heart. We have the Lord himself on our side. No matter how strong the opponents of the ‘Culture of Life” might be, they cannot endure. No matter how strong they seem, or how much they influence government policy, they are running on borrowed time. In fact, the war against them has already been won. It was won on the cross.

And victories are happening.

In the US, there have been a record number of pro-life laws being passed1,2, and it’s bringing abortion rates down. Spain is considering ending abortion on demard3.

So how might an end of abortion look? Especially here in New Zealand?

We have seen the numbers and rates of abortions drop here and New Zealand and in the US as well. And the greatest declines in abortion rates are in the youngest age groups. We can expect this to continue.

There are already shortages of staff willing to participate in abortion4. And this has affected abortion services5. The 40 days for life program includes prayer for medical staff involved in abortion, and has seen 88 workers leave abortion providers. This is something that could easily happen in New Zealand, and we know there are abortion staff in New Zealand who have doubts about their jobs6. They need our prayer.

I have noticed a change in public perception of the pro-life movement. We are now seen as the ones who are helping women. The opposition is still there, and they can still dominate the political process and the media. But the general public are more open to the pro-life message than ever before. I’m constantly surprised by the people who are genuinely enthusiastic about our work helping expectant mums. As in Eastern Europe during the last years of communism, hope is rising. And I can feel the change.

There is still more work to do. More prayer and pro-life work is needed. But slowly the public is seeing that abortion isn’t the solution that they thought it was. One day they will see that it isn’t a solution at all.

We need to hope. We need to pray. And we need to “Be not afraid”.

 

 

Get involved: 40 days for life

 

1.            Johnson, J. Pro-life laws and clinic closures lowered abortion rate: CDC | LifeSiteNews.com. LifeSiteNews (2013). at <http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/abortion-laws-and-clinic-closures-lowered-abortion-rate-cdc>

2.            Johnson, J. ‘Record number’ of pro-abortion laws being introduced dwarfed by pro-life gains, legal expert says | LifeSiteNews.com. LifeSiteNews (2014). at <http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/record-number-of-pro-abortion-laws-being-introduced-dwarfed-by-pro-life-gai>

3.            Metaxas, E. Restricting abortion, Spanish style | LifeSiteNews.com. LifeSiteNews at <http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/restricting-abortion-spanish-style>

4.            Board forced to bring outsiders to staff abortion facility -. CathNews N. Z. (2012). at <http://cathnews.co.nz/2012/10/16/board-forced-to-bring-outsiders-to-staff-invercargill-abortion-facility/>

5.            Hill, M. Abortion clinic opens in secrecy to protect staff. Stuff.co.nz (2012). at <http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/7813405/Abortion-clinic-opens-in-secrecy-to-protect-staff>

6.            Whelan, M. A day at the clinic. The Wireless at <http://thewireless.co.nz/themes/free/a-day-at-the-clinic>

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NZ Gay Marriage Bill Passes Second Reading

A just and valid marriage law

Last night the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill had its second reading in Parliament and was passed 77 votes to 44. The change from the first reading is very small, that reading saw the Bill pass 80 to 40.  It appears MPs believe they have a mandate to pass this legislation through.  The next step is the Committee stage, where the legislation is worked through clause by clause.  It is reported that this Bill could be passed as soon as April, although marriages between same-sex and transgender couples would not be able to take place for another four months after that.

Sadly, many MPs have not listened to those who are against the legislation.  They have been caught up in the “if two people love each other it must be okay” lie.  They have not understood the importance marriage between one man and one woman is to society.  They have failed to listen to the many people who have spoken against same-sex marriage.

The Bill is going through so fast that ordinary New Zealander’s have not had the opportunity to really talk through the facts and the implications this legislation would have on our society.  Too many people support gay marriage, but find the idea of gay adoption a difficult pill to swallow.  How many of those in support would change their minds if they knew the adoption legislation would be changed to allow gay adoption?  What implications will this legislation have for heterosexual couples who wish to adopt, from what is already a pitiful amount of babies and children available for adoption in the country each year anyway?

Fr Linus Clovis, a Canon Lawyer, spoke of a just and valid law in his article “The Church and the Legal Recognition of Homosexual Unions“, he said:

“To be just and therefore lawful and valid, a law cannot benefit a minority at the expense of the majority.  There is therefore reason to be concerned when the institution of marriage, which is available to every man and woman, is tampered with to accommodate the lifestyle choices of a few.”

Louisa Wall’s Marriage Bill (now dubbed a “Marriage Equality Bill), is surely not a just law.  It is a law which serves the minority, who push their militant agenda to redefine marriage and family, and in so doing defile this sacred institution.

How they voted:

Thank you to all the courageous MPs who stood up for true marriage, being between one man and one woman in the second reading of this Bill.

FOR: 77

National: Amy Adams, Chris Auchinvole, Maggie Barry, Paula Bennett, Jackie Blue, Cam Calder, David Carter, Judith Collins, Jacqui Dean, Craig Foss, Aaron Gilmore (new MP), Paul Goldsmith, Jo Goodhew, Tim Groser, Tau Henare, Paul Hutchison, Nikki Kaye, Steven Joyce, John Key, Hekia Parata, Jami-Lee Ross, Scott Simpson, Chris Tremain, Nicky Wagner, Kate Wilkinson, Maurice Williamson.

Labour: Jacinda Ardern, Carol Beaumont (new MP), David Clark, Clayton Cosgrove, David Cunliffe, Clare Curran, Lianne Dalziel, Ruth Dyson, Kris Faafoi, Darien Fenton, Phil Goff, Chris Hipkins, Parekura Horomia, Raymond Huo (did not vote first reading), Shane Jones, Annette King, Iain Lees-Galloway, Andrew Little, Moana Mackey, Nanaia Mahuta, Trevor Mallard, Sue Moroney, David Parker, Rajen Prasad, Grant Robertson, David Shearer, Maryan Street, Rino Tirikatene, Phil Twyford, Louisa Wall, Megan Woods.

Greens: Steffan Browning, David Clendon, Catherine Delahunty, Julie-Anne Genter, Kennedy Graham, Kevin Hague, Gareth Hughes, Jan Logie, Mojo Mathers, Russel Norman, Denise Roche, Metiria Turei, Eugenie Sage, Holly Walker.

Maori Party: Pita Sharples, Te Ururoa Flavell, Tariana Turia

United Future: Peter Dunne

ACT: John Banks

Mana: Hone Harawira

AGAINST: 44

National: Shane Ardern, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, David Bennett, Chester Borrows, Simon Bridges, Gerry Brownlee (changed vote), Jonathan Coleman (changed vote), Bill English, Chris Finlayson, Nathan Guy, John Hayes, Phil Heatley, Colin King, Melissa Lee, Sam Lotu-Iiga, Tim Macindoe, Todd McClay, Murray McCully (changed vote), Ian McKelvie (changed vote), Mark Mitchell, Alfred Ngaro, Simon O’Connor, Eric Roy, Tony Ryall, Mike Sabin, Katrina Shanks, Nick Smith, Lindsay Tisch, Anne Tolley, Louise Upston, Michael Woodhouse, Jian Yang, Jonathan Young.

Labour: Damien O’Connor, Ross Robertson, Su’a William Sio

NZ First: Asenati Lole-Taylor, Tracey Martin, Winston Peters, Richard Prosser, Barbara Stewart, Andrew Williams, Denis O’Rourke.

Independent:  Brendan Horan

Pope Benedict XVI’s Resignation

Pope Benedict XVI in Eucharistic AdorationMonday’s news of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation of the papacy was for me, as indeed for many others, a bombshell. I candidly admit that news of his death would have been less shocking.

I remember very well the elation that swept over me on hearing the news that Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger had been elected by the Conclave and that he had taken the name Benedict XVI. It was a case of hope against hope.

The media moguls and liberals were less enthused and on them a deep gloom settled: “definitely no change” they grumbled. They were not slow in chiding the new Pope for what they perceived as his naivety as in the case of the Regensburg address, which, raising Muslim ire, provoked unbelievable demonstrations in Islamic countries worldwide. The Holy Father by simply quoting the 13th century Byzantium Emperor Michael Paleologus who charged Islam with unreasonableness, allowed the reaction to prove the charge. Brilliant, I thought. The attempt to implicate him in the homosexual paedophile scandal failed miserably as it emerged that he, in fact, had done more than any other to tackle the issue. The condoms in Africa issue was another tinderbox from which he emerged as a master strategist. Pope Benedict’s defence of life and of the true meaning of human sexuality has been clear, consistent and unequivocal. For courageously calling abortion a “crime against society that kills the child and destroys the woman”, Planned Parenthood declared him a dangerous enemy. His statements, undoubtedly, angered the enemy outside the Church of which he is the Supreme Pastor.

The Holy Father provoked the enemy within by calling for an interpretation of Vatican II that is based upon a “hermeneutic of renewal in continuity”, that is, “what was sacred before the Council is sacred today.” He crystallised this call with the document Summorum Pontificum in which he declared that the Traditional Mass had never been abolished nor Latin forbidden. Suffice it to say that the reaction bordered on the hostile. In the words of Cardinal Raymond Burke, the Church’s highest judicial authority after the Pope “There’s no question that there remains in certain places a resistance to what the Holy Father has asked, and that’s sad. It’s sometimes even an expression of disagreement with the Holy Father’s discipline and even an expression that this is harmful for the Church.”

The Holy Father’s attempt to establish continuity in a decree lifting the excommunications from the bishops of the Society of St. Pius X resulted in a pillorying by modernists within the Church, in a collaboration with secular Jews. In a letter to the world’s bishops, the Holy Father expressed sincere shock at the lack of fraternal charity on the part of those whom he naively assumed had reverence for his office and for himself. The betrayal by his own butler in the Vatileaks affair indicates how close the enemy inside is.

Pope Benedict cited “advanced age” and a lack of “strength of mind and body” as the factors that led him to conclude that he is incapable of “adequately fulfilling” the Petrine ministry. While he certainly is of advanced age, I think there are deeper reasons for his resignation. Pope Benedict is a master strategist. He has already set the Church on course. What is required now is a successor of the calibre of St Pius X, or St Gregory VII, or even St. Leo the Great or St. Gregory the Great, who will mete out the firm discipline that is necessary to protect the Faith and faithful from those who openly resist the corrections that are needed to avert the present day crisis.

Papal resignations are rare but not new. There have been four in history and all made for the greater good of Christ’s Church. The third century pope, St Pontian was the first Bishop of Rome to resign. During the persecutions of the Emperor Severus, he was arrested and sent to the salt mines in 235. He resigned his office in order that a successor could be elected in Rome. Pope St Martin was arrested by the emperor Constans because of his refusal to approve the Monothelite heresy. He resigned in 654 so that the Church could be free to elect his successor. St Celestine V, a hermit elected because of his personal holiness, found himself unsuited to the task and so, in 1294, resigned for the good of the Church. The last pope to step down was Gregory XII, who did so in 1415 in order to end the Great Western Schism. These four popes, like Christ who loved the Church and gave Himself up for her (Eph.5:25), all relinquished the Supreme Office for the good of the Church. Pope Benedict, for the good of the Church in a “world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith” has done the same.

No doubt, hopes are raised that the next pope will approve contraception, abortion, same sex marriage and other such like inanities. It will not happen, because the Lord Jesus has promised that gates of hell will not prevail against His Church. The next pope, regardless of the Continent from which he comes, will teach the perennial truths of faith. As people of faith in unseen realities, we must pray for Pope Benedict XVI and even more for the Conclave that will elect his successor.

A Reflection on Pope Benedict’s Resignation

Pope Benedict XVIThis is one of the best reflections we here at Family Life International have seen on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI of his Petrine ministry.  It is from President Fahey, Thomas More College, and is well worth the read.

The Catholic world is largely shocked by the publication of Pope Benedict XVI’s letter of resignation this morning.  The secular world assumes the worst—no, it desires the worst, and by insulation worms doubts into the minds of even the faithful.

The secular world will tear through the brief letter and fixate upon the line about a “world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith.”  It will weave from these deconstructed words an existential tale of despair, scandal, and an authority which realizes it is no longer in touch with reality.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Benedict’s resignation is utterly consistent with his character.  It is traditional—he brings from our history and our law a fact and feature of the Papal Office: one can and—under certain circumstance—should put aside that office.

His resignation demonstrates once again the firm mark of a father and a teacher.   A father knows that his role is to provide example, instruction, and discipline, and ultimately put himself aside for the good of his own. The Petrine ministry is not exercised for a man, or for bishops and priests, or even for Catholics alone.  It is a ministry exercised for all those seeking God and for all those towards whom God’s mercy is extended.  It is a demanding office.

As with every text published by Benedict, this letter of resignation has no imbalance, flab, impression, or vagueness.  Not a word goes astray.  It is shot through with paternal love and professorial clarity.

An honest reading of this document can only lead to profound gratitude and sympathy for a suffering father who must understand each act and decision he makes as having “great importance for the life the Church.”  Read more…

Sadness at Pope Benedict’s Resignation

Pope Benedict XVISadly this morning, Catholics in New Zealand, have woken to the news that our Holy Father, Benedict XVI has resigned from his position of leader of the Church.  What more is there to say than we love our Holy Father Benedict XVI.  He has remained steadfast in leading his flock through, what has been an incredibly trying time for the Church.

The photo attached to this blog post, is of the most priviliged moment in my life, where, along with my mother, Colleen Bayer,  I was able to meet with the Holy Father and present to him my 10 week old son, John Paul.  I will never forget the moment.  It was the week that the Irish sex abuse scandal had blown up in the media.  There were reporters all around the Vatican, all of them it seemed, trying to get negative commentary from the pilgrims.  As Pope Benedict made his way up the line of people at the General Audience that day, I could see the weight of the world on his shoulders, the pain in his eyes.  How these years must have been such a burden on him.  And it seems, the pressures, the attacks on life, faith, marriage and family are becoming more and more intense.  Sometimes the attacks come from within.  Pope Benedict’s joy that day was evident when the preciousness of new life was presented to him.  His eyes lit up, his face beamed.  He rejoiced in this child, named after his friend Blessed John Paul the Great.

We will continue to pray for Benedict XVI while he remains in office, and indeed for the rest of his life.  We pray for the Holy Spirit to guide His Church in these times of uncertainty.  Let us continue to stand strong in our faith.  Let us hold fast to the Truth.

Governments Support Same-Sex Marriage Despite Wide spread Opposition

Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment BillOn Tuesday, the UK Parliament voted for same-sex marriage,  with a count of 400 for the legislation and only 175 against.  There are still a number of votes to be held before it becomes law.

Debate was strong in the House, with most MPs in favour of the legislation stating it was about equality, while most of those in opposition spoke about marriage being between a man and a woman, and that it is unable to be redefined to mean anything else.  Roger Gale, a Tory MP was very clear about why the legislation could not be passed, saying:

“It is not possible to redefine marriage.  Marriage is the union between a man and a woman, has been historically, remains so. It is Alice in Wonderland territory, Orwellian almost, for any Government of any political persuasion to seek to come along and try to re-write the lexicon. It will not do.”

There are deep concerns by the Catholic Church about the same-sex marriage bill and the implications it will have on the Church’s ability to conduct marriage ceremonies recognised by the State.  If this Bill were to pass, the Church is concerned for religious liberty.  Bishop Philip Egan said:

“Just as the Church has been forced to abandon its adoption services, so too Catholics who work in the medical profession and in social services are going to find themselves under intolerable moral pressures. These pressures will also arguably be felt throughout our Catholic schools, by teachers, staff and parents.”

The UK Catholic Bishops are so concerned about this proposed legislation, they have been trying to mobilise the laity into speaking up against same-sex marriage.  In the past few weeks they have distributed one million postcards for the laity to send to their local MPs asking them to vote against the Bill.

Meanwhile the French National Assembly also voted in favour of legislation which will legalise same-sex marriage and allow for gay adoption.  The vote taken on Saturday was 249-97.  It looks certain that this legislation will come into law in France, despite the protests of many of its citizens who have been very vocal about their opposition to the redefinition of marriage and gay adoption.

New Zealand’s Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill is currently before the Select Committee, who are hearing oral submissions throughout the country.  Over 2,000 written submissions can be read online.  There has been some disappointment, and even outrage, over the fact that many people who have requested to give an oral submission have not been given the opportunity to do so.  It also appears that the Select Committee are in favour of the legislation and have been somewhat hostile to many submitters who are opposed to the legislation.  The Select Committee must present their report on the 28th February.

Belgium Twins Accessed Euthanasia

Yesterday the Sydney Morning Herald reported on how 45-year-old Belgium twins were allowed to access euthanasia because they had been recently told that they would soon both go blind.  The twins were born deaf, were extremely close, and couldn’t bear the thought of not being able to see each other.

Warning bells should ring for New Zealand where Labour MP Maryann Street has her “End of Life Choices” Private Member Bill in the Ballot box.  This Bill intends to legalise euthanasia and physician assisted suicide in this country.

Belgian law allows for euthanasia in cases where people are able speak and make decisions for themselves and where a doctor certifies that they are suffering unbearable pain.

Sad as their case may be, these two men certainly could not have been suffering unbearable pain.  Their suffering was of the kind where something is about to happen and the person wishes that it would not.  Certainly, this case has flouted the law.

And this is what people who continue to promote euthanasia choose to ignore:  laws with supposed “safeguards” eventually become undone.  These laws simply become the top of the slippery slope, eventually ending in involuntary euthanasia.