Poland, France, Italy

Poland: pro-life mobilizationThe pro-life movements in Poland are being mobilized in favour of the right to life with a concerted campaign of events from 17 to 25 March, the day on which the Polish Church celebrates, on the solemnity of the Annunciation, the “Day of the Sanctity of Life”. The slogan chosen for this year’s events and prayer meetings is: “Light for life”. Meanwhile, the annual pro-life march ended at the Marian sanctuary of Jasna Gora on Saturday 20 March; over a thousand people participated in it. In a message, the participants expressed their solidarity with all those in Spain who are supporting the right to life and who “with their commitment and their determination testify to Europe and the world how to oppose the civilization of death”. During the Day of the Sanctity of Life on 25 March new “windows of life” where mothers, in total anonymity, may leave their offspring without depriving their newborn infants of proper care, will be opened in some Polish cities. Over the last four years, thanks especially to Caritas, 37 such “windows of life” have been opened in Poland, most of them in the homes of various religious congregations and hospital centres. It has been possible to save the lives of some thirty children in this way, says the director of Polish Caritas, Fr. Marian Subocz, who promises to open as soon as possible at least one “window of life” in each of the 31 Polish dioceses. In a letter to the faithful, the Bishop of Opole, the Most Rev. Andrzej Czaja wrote: “The Church for the good of man shall always defend human life and its dignity, at every stage of its development and existence; for the good of future generations the Church shall always oppose all forms of contempt for human dignity, as also unjust laws that limit the freedom of spouses in decisions regarding the transmission of life. This task is an obligation for each of us. It is the Annunciation and the Gospel of Life”. France: irrevocable friendship between Catholics and JewsJews and Catholics are united by a “friendship that has an irrevocable character”, declared Jérôme Beau, Auxiliary Bishop of Paris and member of the episcopal Council for relations with Judaism, condemning the incident that occurred in Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on Sunday 21 March. Rabbi Rivon Krygier had been invited to participate in the annual “Lenten Conference” event organized by the diocese of Paris. It was the first time a representative of the Jewish community had been invited to speak in Notre-Dame, but after a brief introduction by the Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, a man in the congregation shouted out, urging those present to recite a rosary, “in reparation for the scandal”. At this point some forty people – members of traditionalist groups (Civitas and MJCF) which yesterday claimed responsibility for the incident on the internet – began shouting “Long live Jesus, long live the Cross” and, after they had been ejected from the cathedral, flouted a huge 15 metre-wide banner with the slogan “Notre Dame isn’t a synagogue”. The rabbi’s lecture continued, but displaced to a small room inside the cathedral though transmitted in video to the congregation. “It’s the first time – pointed out Bishop Beau – that a rabbi has participated in a Lenten Conference and it’s also the first time that this theme of interfaith dialogue and Vatican II’s Declaration “Nostra Aetate” was tackled in this context. This invitation expresses in itself the progress made by this dialogue and mutual respect”. The bishop also tried to downplay the incident, recalling that over 1,200 people has gathered in the cathedral to welcome and applaud the rabbi. And he added: “The line of the Gospel does not change! We will never take a step backwards from the path drawn by Vatican II, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. On the contrary, the applause with which the rabbi’s intervention was greeted demonstrates the support of Catholics for openness and friendship”.Italy: bishops appeal for a responsible voteThe permanent Council of the Italian episcopate opened in Rome on 22 March. In his keynote address, the President of the Italian bishops, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, tackled various questions: the crisis of paedophilia, the international events linked to the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, the recrudescence of attacks on Catholics, the themes of the defence of life, the reaffirmation of “non-negotiable values” in politics, and the need for citizens to be represented by honest citizens, if possible pervaded by Christian values. As for the defence of life, the Cardinal pointed out that in Europe in 2008 alone “almost three million babies were not born” due to abortion, “in other words, one every eleven seconds”. He linked this tendency with the introduction in Italy of the day-after pill Ru486, which “will turn abortion into something banal (…) since the very idea of the pill is associated with simple gestures”. As for the imminent regional elections in Italy (28 March), he recalled such values as “dignity of the human person”, “inviolability of life from conception to natural death”, “freedom in education and schooling”, “family founded on the marriage between a man and a woman”, “hospitality to immigrants”, and “freedom from crime”. “These – he said – form an indivisible sum of moral goods placed on the frontiers of life and solidarity”. As for honesty in public life, he warned: “it’s not true that everyone steals”, but even if this were to happen “it would not attenuate one jot the imperative of honesty”. The Council’s work will continue until 25 March.

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