Here in Montreal, we kicked off the fall 2011 "40 Days for Life" prayer vigil last night in Lahaie Park - Saint-Joseph Blvd., corner Saint-Laurent.
After welcoming remarks, I invited two of the fourteen people present to address the group. First, I asked Georges (Quebec Life Coalition President, Mr. Georges Buscemi) to say a few words. He spoke eloquently about the importance of the present vigil, not only that for Montreal but for each of the 300 other locations worldwide.
The vigil team is packed with many persons who have participated in each of the previous five campaigns - quite a dedication. I invited one of these to speak next. Charlotte (Ms. Charlotte l'Heureux - a.k.a., "La Memère Charlotte") is seen below sharing her thoughts, which are frequently punctuated with "rimettes" - i.e., an expression she has coined to mean a humourous rhyme.
After the two speakers, night prayer was recited, at the end of which we gathered near the banner that had been lain out on the grass next to the sidewalk. Stringing ourselves along and a few of us holding the banner, Gabriel led us in a few closing prayers. Jerry (seen below, third from the left) added to the evening, as he frequently does during the vigil, in a customary fashion, paying his harmonica (not shown).
The evening ended with refreshments in the community hall of a nearby convent.
The vigil continues through until Sunday, November 6.
In the days leading up to the beginning of the prayer vigil, I hope to profile the fourteen other registered locations in Canada that will be holding 40-day vigils. Today, I present the second in the series - Moncton, New Brunswick.
The fall 2011, 40 Days for life campaign in Moncton, NB, is in its second edition. After having participated in the 40-day vigil a year ago in neighbouring Fredericton, N.B., Mario and Rosalie Graziani, with the aid of a few friends, coordinated their first one in Moncton this past spring.
Despite being new to organizing 40-day vigils, Rosalie informs me that they intend to have full 24-hour coverage at the vigil location for the duration of the forty days, which is quite remarkable considering that more established sites like Montreal provide a 12-hour presence per day.
Rosalie credits this feat to the broad community support that the vigil is attracting. She estimated that up to 220 people from various denominations came this past spring. Among the latter were Roman Catholics - including members of the Knights of Columbus, Baptists, and Pentecostals.
This Fall the same vigil location as this past spring has been selected. The Dr. Georges L Dumont Regional Hospital is located in downtown Moncton, in proximity to the Université de Moncton.Further, Rosalie speaks about the positive effect of the first vigil. Awareness building is reaching the Moncton's youth. Many have been questioning why their classrooms are not as full as they had been in previous generations and why there are fewer children being born. They see increased levels of immigration to build up an otherwise diminishing Canadian population. As they come upon the vigilers praying for an end to abortion, they get it. They can connect the dots; ready access to abortion and hormonal contraceptives has had a devastating effect on their absent peers, insidiously cut short their lives at the very outset.
Rosalie also notes how a young woman, post-abortive, chose life when faced with a subsequent pregnancy and now encourages Rosalie and her team of prayers onward.
Yes, there are hecklers. The proximity of the univesity provides a stream of young adults, and a few teachers, who asperse them with derision. Yet we pray that the prayerful presence, in all weather, can soften their hearts and make them realize the tragedy which is befalling us all.
In the days leading up to the beginning of the prayer vigil, I hope to profile the fourteen other registered locations in Canada that will be holding 40-day vigils. Today, I begin this series with the eastern-most site - Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The 40 Days for Life prayer vigil campaign in Halifax N.S., is in its fourth edition. Ms. Julie Culshaw is coordinating the event along with Ms. Anne Ashford Hall.
Ms. Culshaw is finding good support for the project among the general populace. The site's log book, a register that persons coming to the vigil location to pray must sign, noted over 200 different entries during this past campaign, Spring 2011
The vigil has an ecumenical flavour to it. Both Roman Catholics and Christian evangelicals have responded to the call to protest the lost of innocent life and the harm being done to women inside the Victoria General Hospital.
Two events will buttress the 40-day vigil. On the eve of the vigil, September 27, the ecumenical trait will be evident as the prayer warriors and others will gather for an inter-denominational service at St. Thomas Aquinas church.
The second event is a closing banquet. On Sunday, October 30, participants will gather in a Church hall to break bread and listen to guest speaker, Mr. Georges Buscemi! Yes, our own Quebec Life Coalition president.
In between both events, peaceful volunteers will gather outside the Victoria General Hospital. At least the prayers will be peaceful. Over the four vigils, Ms. Culshaw reports that she has seen an escalation in hostility towards the 40-days group, aside from the staple fare of slurs shouted at them by passers-by. For example, the first campaign was marked by a single incident of violence - a water-bombed hurled at the vigilers on the last day. On the other hand, on the first day of the last campaign this past spring 2011, an angry protestor violently grabbed and tore the signs belonging to the prayers. Further, a video of the incident was taken and then doctored to further discredit the vigilers; this was placed on U -tube. Fortunately, the Halifax Regional Police have provided professional service when called upon.
Photos and blog for the group may be found here.
I came across the following post earlier in the day from the site entitled "The Creative Minority Report". I reproduce it below. I include it because I find it a well articulated and sensitive presentation of a grave topic in our society - the unjust fate of un-borns children having some form of imperfection, such as trisomic 21 - i.e., Down's syndrome, or spina bifida. Regarding the former, I have read that 90% to 95% are aborted. The article concerns the latter condition.
What is striking about this article, and this eerily echoes what I have heard both by to the girls heading into abortion facilities and by the facility's workers, is the prescient knowledge of the fate of the unborn. There is the presumption that the life of the unborn will be one of misery. Little weight is attributed to unknown possibilities of life. The followingis the article in its entirety. - Brian J.
Chelsea Zimmerman is guest posting here once a week for the next few weeks. We're glad to have her. She typically writes at Reflections of a Paralytic - which is a great blog that you should bookmark or follow or favorite or whatever it is you do to. Just read her. Here she is:
And here's her excellent post:
After the accident that left me paralyzed from the chest down, my first roommate in rehab was a young woman with spina bifida, a birth defect that involves the incomplete development of the spinal cord or its coverings, usually leaving the individual unable to walk unaided. She was the happiest, most full of life girl I’ve ever met and her love for life influenced me greatly, helping me more easily adjust to life with a major disability.
I’ve lost touch with her over the years, but she and her infectious laughter were clear in my mind as I read with great sadness this column by “Sara Carpenter” (a pseudonym) in the UK Daily Mail about the decision she made to kill her unborn child after it was determined that he would be born with spina bifida. It’s not that it was news to me that children pre-natally diagnosed with various diseases and disabilities are killed in untero. But the description she gave of how she pictured her son’s life with a disability cut me to the core:
"I pictured him watching from the sofa, frustrated and immobile, as his sisters turned cartwheels and somersaults in the living room. I envisaged trips to the park, where he would sit on the sidelines as other children clambered over climbing frames and kicked footballs. … “I tried to shake away the image I conjured in my head of a little boy, lonely and friendless, robbed of the most basic human functions. The prospect of watching a child I’d love just as much as his sisters suffer in this way made me howl. I hugged my stomach, as if I could in some way shield him from the misery that lay ahead.”
What is even more upsetting about her account is that Sara and her husband both acknowledged that they were in fact killing their son – not vaguely “terminating a pregnancy.” They named him, held him after he was delivered via induced labor abortion and gave him a proper burial. Sara even talks about the abortion being, “completely at odds with my instincts as a mother.” And yet she did it and she justified it because she thought she was sparing him the awful life she was so sure he would have.
But why was she so sure of this? Who says that disabled children have such miserable lives? Certainly not the children themselves! In fact, researchers at Newcastle University recently applied standard self-assessment techniques used to appraise children’s levels of happiness to 500 young people with cerebral palsy. The results demonstrated that “Disabled children in the North of England have the same range of happiness and unhappiness as all children.” As they grow up and develop their sense of self, “they see their disabilities as part as who they are…(and) they perceived their position in life no differently as their friends in the general population.” The same can be said of children with other disabilities, including spina bifida. I dare anyone to listen to this laugh and tell me that that child is not happy to be alive.
So what is the problem?
The problem is that by and large non-disabled people simply disagree with this. They instinctively judge the lives of these children through able-bodied eyes and only see tragedy. Going back to the Newcastle study, even many parents who have chosen to love and care for their disabled child scored their children’s quality of life much lower than the children themselves. And, so many, many parents like the Carpenters conclude that the only loving thing to do is end their handicapped child’s life in the womb and spare them the suffering.
I have no doubt that the decision to abort is every bit as agonizing as Carpenter describes in her piece. However the parents and those advising them in these cases are confusing love with pity which often stems from a kind of selfish empathy. One sees a child in a wheelchair and thinks that he would rather be dead than have to live in such a situation himself, so he decides that it is much more merciful to never allow a child like that to be born. These people are so blinded by fear of the “otherness” of such conditions that they cannot see what is still good and beautiful. What’s more, in many ways, they are trying to save themselves from the emotional stress of having to care for someone suffering so terribly as much as they are trying to save the child from his own suffering, if not more so.
Everyone has the right to pursue happiness, including children with disabilities, and the reality is that most of them will enjoy their lives immensely…if they’re given the opportunity. Sure, sick and disabled people must endure sometimes tragic suffering, but the value and meaning of our lives are no way diminished by some physical limitations. Even in the midst of the pain and adversity that come with disease and disability, there is still quite a lot to enjoy about life. You just have to be willing to see it.
Objet : Canadian Catholic Organization for Development & Peace
March 17, 2009
Archbishop Terrence Prendergast,
Archbishop of Ottawa
Last week I read a disturbing report about the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace's scandalous activities in funding pro-abortion groups in Mexico. The report claims that hundreds of thousands of dollars are being donated to anti-life, pro-abortion organizations. I have included the full news report here with my correspondence.
As you know, each diocese in Canada collects money on behalf of the CCODP every year. There is a collection envelope during Lent to help fund their activities. This year it is scheduled for this coming Sunday March 29.
For many years, the CCODP has long supported questionable causes, many of which are diametrically opposed to Catholic teaching and the traditional family. Over the years the CCODP has been more interested in promoting social Marxism and social engineering than fulfilling its original mandate of seeking authentic social justice. Personally, I have long since stopped supporting this organization since it is neither Catholic, nor does it seek to foster development or peace. In truth, it sponsors activities and groups which do the exact opposite. I have strongly encouraged family and friends to eschew donations to this group, and I will continue to do so in the future unless some major changes happen within this organization.
This latest revelation, however - while not surprising - represents yet another outrage against the sanctity of human life. What makes this scandal particularly offensive is that the CCODP is taking the sacrificial offerings of unknowing Catholics, who would otherwise be appalled at these revelations, and directing their donations to groups who support the killing of unborn children.
This situation is even more disgraceful considering Ottawa Catholics are heavily involved in the 40 Days for Life Campaign to end the scourge of abortion in Canada. While we are praying, fasting, witnessing and sacrificing here in Ottawa, our money is going to Mexico to kill our brothers and sisters there.
I do not understand why the Catholic bishops continue to support such an organization when it has shown us time and time again that it is more interested in furthering the agenda of the Culture of Death than it is in advancing the Gospel of Life.
This is not merely an isolated event. This theft has been happening for years, and it has not come without a serious cost of credibility to the bishops of Canada. You must understand, your Grace, that this kind of blind support and perhaps even negligent oversight over the initiatives of the CCODP does not enhance the trust or the fidelity a bishop's office deserves.
I can scarcely imagine a more obscene practice which cries out for immediate intervention and correction by the country?s Catholic bishops.
I am therefore asking you to withhold any contributions collected on behalf of the CCODP by the Archdiocese until a full and thorough review is conducted into the beneficiaries of CCODP funding.
If the Archdiocese is seeking a legitimate way to alleviate poverty in the world while still remaining faithful to the Gospel, may I respectfully suggest a Catholic organization like Chalice (chalice.ca) which does the real work of social justice among the less fortunate.
As for the proper disposition on how to clean up the CCODP, I can think of no better illustration than this past Sunday's Gospel reading.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Family Research Council announced today that that the European Court of Human Rights has granted permission for the organization to defend Ireland's ban on the practice of abortion. FRC will be represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and organizations.
"Family Research Council is proud to be working with the Alliance Defense Fund in this important battle," said Bill Saunders, FRC's Human Rights Counsel and Senior Fellow of the Center for Human Life and Bioethics, "Ireland has wisely chosen to protect its most vulnerable citizens and we will work tirelessly to ensure that unborn children remain protected in Ireland."
"No one should be allowed to decide that an innocent life is worthless. ADF and FRC are looking forward to defending Ireland's abortion ban so that scores of pre-born children are guaranteed the protection the Irish people gave them," said ADF Chief Counsel Benjamin Bull. "This case is not only pivotal to Europe; it's pivotal to America. With greater frequency, the U.S. Supreme Court looks across the ocean to see what other countries are doing when considering its own cases. This case could be the Roe v. Wade of Europe."
The case was filed initially by three women who sought abortions in Ireland and were unable to do so. The European Court granted the opportunity for three pro-life organizations to file a brief defending Ireland's abortion ban. A hearing could occur as early as next year.
For more information, including the court order, visit http://www.telladf.org/
SOURCE Family Research Council
© 2008 PR Newswire