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Pope Francis hospitalized for abdominal surgery

Pope Francis greeted pilgrims in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday, June 7, 2023, a few hours before he will be hospitalized for abdominal surgery under general anesthesia. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Rome Newsroom, Jun 7, 2023 / 03:01 am (CNA).

Pope Francis will undergo abdominal surgery under general anesthesia on Wednesday afternoon, the Vatican has confirmed.

The operation was planned by the pope’s medical team in recent days after it became necessary due to a hernia that was causing recurrent, painful, and worsening symptoms, according to Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni.

Bruni said that Pope Francis will have a laparotomy and abdominal wall reconstruction with prosthetic material in the early afternoon on June 7.

The surgery will attempt to repair an incisional hernia, a type of abdominal wall hernia at the site of a previous surgical incision. In the pope’s case, this could be the result of the scarring caused by the pope’s colon surgery in July 2021.

The pope will be taken to Rome’s Gemelli Hospital immediately after his general audience in St. Peter’s Square and will recover in the hospital for several days post-surgery.

The news of Pope Francis’ surgery comes one day after Italian media reported that he went to Gemelli hospital for a 40-minute visit on June 6.

Pope Francis, 86, was hospitalized for four days in March for a lung infection and canceled all of his scheduled activities on May 26 due to a fever.

Since early 2022 the pope has suffered from knee pain. He started to have difficulty standing and walking and has been using a cane and wheelchair for over a year.

Pope Francis told the Italian bishops in May last year that he did not want to have his knee operated on because he did not want to recover from general anesthesia again following his 2021 colon surgery.

The pope has also dealt this year with a recurrence of diverticulitis, a painful inflammation of bulges in the large intestine, for which he was operated on in July 2021.

Despite his recent medical challenges, the Vatican recently announced the pope’s intention to visit Mongolia Aug. 31–Sept. 1.

Francis is also scheduled to be in Lisbon, Portugal, for World Youth Day Aug. 2–6. The trip also includes a visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima.

Parents in Honduras launch movement to oppose imposition of gender ideology in schools

null / Credit: Shutterstock

ACI Prensa Staff, Jun 6, 2023 / 16:15 pm (CNA).

Last Saturday, hundreds of parents in Honduras officially launched the “For Our Children” movement, a citizen platform that seeks to stop the attempt to impose gender ideology in the public school curriculum.

With the slogan “Don’t mess with my children,” a group of approximately 500 people met June 3 at the Cortés Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the city of San Pedro de Sula to present a manifesto highlighting the “inalienable right” of parents to educate their children according to their “values, principles, and beliefs.”

Martha Lorena de Casco, a member of the Pro-Life Honduras Committee, explained to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, that this movement was formed to respond to the attempt by the administration of President Xiomara Castro to “mandate the implementation [of] a sex education guide with gender ideology starting in kindergarten.”

“This has got people worked up, because many people understand what gender is. Consequently, a movement was created that opposes the attempt of the presidency to apply a law that was designed without consulting parents and that was debated only among NGOs [nongovernmental organizations], trans groups, feminist groups. That is an affront,” the pro-life leader explained.

On March 8, the Honduran Congress passed the “Comprehensive Education Law for the Prevention of Teen Pregnancy” with the intention of creating “sex education curricula appropriate to the age of the students to prevent teen pregnancies.”

The manifesto published by For Our Children opposes this law because it “unilaterally incorporates ideologies promoted by international organizations that are not consistent with Honduran values or what we parents want for our children.”

The parents specified that any change in the curriculum must have their agreement because their “participation in educational institutions — public, private, Christian, and non-Christian — is a right and a prerogative.”

“We expressly state our right to participate directly and without mediators in any content review process, pedagogical forms, and key educational issues, etc., and in any attempt by this or future governments to modify the curriculum without our consent or to use its implementation to indoctrinate our children,” For Our Children stressed.

The parents also repudiated the intention to include comprehensive sex education.

This involves “the introduction of homosexuality, transgenderism, masturbation, sexual experimentation, gender fluid, and other identities to minors, even more so, to children in early childhood, which we consider perversion and abuse.”

The manifesto states it is “in favor of sex education with values based on biology and respect for the integrity of children.”

“No current educational model promoted by governments and international organizations should be implemented without the express consent of parents at any age,” the movement asserts.

Lastly, Honduran parents called on President Castro to veto the Comprehensive Sexual Education Law for the Prevention of Teen Pregnancy. They also urged her to publicly promise “that she will not continue the social experiment of gender ideology in our educational system.”

In addition, the manifesto requires the president to “promote and publicize a bill to strengthen the family and the preferential right of parents to the education of their children.”

“We will be vigilant, alert, and committed in every school in the country. Know [that] those that are behind this plan to ideologize our children … are not going to achieve it and that they will be met with a united and determined people,” the manifesto concludes.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Thousands of United Methodist churches break away over LGBTQ+ disagreements

A pro-LGBTQ message on a Methodist church in Nashville, Tennessee. / Glendale United Methodist Church|Flickr

Washington D.C., Jun 6, 2023 / 15:45 pm (CNA).

As the United Methodist Church (UMC) is rocked by disagreement over LGBTQ+ issues, more than 4,000 congregations have officially split from the denomination this year. 

More congregations joined the growing schism this weekend with 60 leaving in Michigan on Saturday and 250 in Kentucky splitting with the UMC on Sunday. 

Jay Therrell, president of the Wesleyan Covenant Association and a leader in the “disaffiliation” movement, told CNA that “the authority of Scripture and the lordship of Christ” has “deteriorated for many, many years in the United Methodist Church.” 

Today, Therrell said, that problem is “playing out in the issue of human sexuality.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, 4,876 Methodist churches this year have officially completed the process to break away from the UMC, Therrell said.

According to Therrell, many of those churches have gone on to join the more theologically conservative Global Methodist Church, which was founded in 2022 with the help of the Wesleyan Covenant Association and now numbers approximately 2,500 congregations. 

“We absolutely believe that the United Methodist Church is drifting day by day ever more progressive,” Therrell said. “We have bishops all across the globe who are completely violating the Book of Discipline [the primary Methodist book of teachings, similar to the Catholic catechism]. They are allowing all sorts of things to happen that violate various paragraphs, much of it to do with human sexuality.” 

The conflict erupted in full force in 2019 after a special session of the General Conference of the entire UMC debated whether to adopt new rules promoting homosexuality in the church. The propositions were ultimately defeated in a 53% to 46% vote approving a “Traditional Plan” reaffirming the UMC’s stance on traditional marriage and sexuality.

Since 2019, however, the UMC has steered the church toward the left on key social issues such as LGBTQ+ ideology.

Though denying the ordination of homosexual individuals, the UMC’s official website states that “everyone is welcome to worship and actively participate in the life of our churches” and that “laypersons may become members and live out their faith through their local church without respect to sexual orientation or practice.”

The UMC’s website further admits that the denomination’s teaching on homosexuality may be changed in the future. “When the next General Conference convenes (April–May 3, 2024) it will address multiple legislative proposals to alter existing church policies on human sexuality and to divide or restructure the denomination as a result of differences on these and other issues,” the UMC’s website states.

In the United States, the UMC is divided into five “jurisdictions.” Each of these jurisdictions passed similar measures in 2022 stating that “LGBTQIA+ people will be protected, affirmed, and empowered” in the church, according to the AP.

Of the 46 active UMC bishops, two are openly homosexual, despite official UMC policy denying the ordination of LGBTQ+ persons.

Meanwhile, the influence of LGBTQ+ supportive groups has been increasing within the UMC. 

The Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) is a group that, according to its website, is “committed to intersectional justice across and beyond the United Methodist connection” and is “working for the full participation of all LGBTQ+ people throughout the life and leadership of the Church.”

According to a November 2022 RMN statement, conferences of the UMC’s five jurisdictions resulted in “a historic slate of episcopal elections for the Reconciling movement” in which 13 new LGBTQ+ supportive bishops were elected.

“Episcopal elections are important for LGBTQ+ justice because our Church’s moral direction is deeply influenced by the values of the elected bishops and because bishops hold immense power to affect the livelihoods of LGBTQ+ clergy and congregations seeking justice and inclusion,” RMN said. “We celebrate these newly elected justice-seeking bishops who represent more of the whole of humanity and whose wisdom is invaluable in the ongoing co-creation of our Church.”

Besides electing openly homosexual bishops, some members of the UMC clergy have called for official apologies to be made for even challenging their election. 

At the 2022 South Central Jurisdiction Conference, RMN reported that Rev. Katie McKay Simpson, a pastor from Louisiana, “called the jurisdiction to collective confession and apology for challenging the historic election of Bishop Karen Oliveto, the Church’s first out gay bishop.”

To Therrell, the jurisdictions’ adoption of pro-LGBTQ+ resolutions “telegraph where the future of the UMC is.” 

“We think it is highly likely at the General Conference in 2024 that the definition of marriage will change, that the ordination standards will change, and that most of the traditional provisions we’ve passed in recent years will be repealed,” Therrell said. 

As of now, nearly one-quarter of UMC congregations have officially broken away within the last five years.

The departures have only been increasing exponentially. According to UM News, the official news-gathering agency of the UMC, 4,645 churches officially split from the UMC so far this year. That is more than double the number of churches that left in the previous year (2,003) and almost 10 times the number in 2021 (486). 

NFL champ Harrison Butker makes a statement with pro-life necktie at White House visit

President Joe Biden welcomes the Kansas City Chiefs to the White House in Washington, D.C., June 5, 2023. Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker (back row, center) wore a tie with a pro-life message on it. / Credit: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Boston, Mass., Jun 6, 2023 / 15:15 pm (CNA).

During the Kansas City Chiefs’ visit to the White House on Monday in celebration of their Super Bowl victory in February, the team’s kicker, Harrison Butker, made a statement in support of the unborn by wearing a custom-made necktie with a pro-life message.

Butker, a faithful Catholic, wore a tie that says “Vulnerari Praesidio,” a Latin phrase he says means “protect the most vulnerable.”

“I want to give the most vulnerable, the unborn, a voice at a place where every effort has been made to allow and normalize the tragic termination of their lives,” Butker said in a June 6 statement.

Butker is referring to the Biden administration’s aggressive pro-abortion stance, a position that has put Biden at odds with the U.S. bishops and members of his own faith. 

“As a father who has experienced three miscarriages, my wife and I understand the hardships that come with losing a child. Every life is precious and should be valued whether outside or inside the womb,” he said.

The gray tie was created in conjunction with the pro-life advocacy group Live Action. 

According to the organization, accompanying the tie on Butker’s suit is a gold pin of two tiny feet — the exact-size feet a 10-week-old baby would have.

Biden gave a speech at the event praising the Super Bowl champions not only for their football skills but also for using their platforms for good. 

“As much as these guys know about football, they know about life and how to use their platform to make a difference,” the president said in a speech celebrating the team’s victory.

In a statement to CNA on Tuesday, Live Action president Lila Rose said that “Live Action was proud to partner with NFL superstar and pro-life advocate Harrison Butker to create a necktie in honor of the preborn to wear while meeting President Biden at the White House.”

“President Biden is a professing Catholic who, as the most powerful man in the world, is responsible for leading the most pro-abortion administration in our history that has overseen a horrific death toll of 2,548 children every day lost to abortion,” she said.

“I call on President Biden to reject the extremism of the abortion lobby and to protect the vulnerable children of his nation,” Rose added.

Hundreds of thousands of unborn children are killed in the womb every year through abortion. 

Butker kicked the Super Bowl-winning field goal for the Chiefs during his team’s stunning Feb. 12 Super Bowl victory against the Philadelphia Eagles.

In addition to his game-clinching kick, he captured media attention for his scapular, which made a timely appearance as it slipped out of his jersey while more than 100 million fans across the globe watched him line up for a 27-yard field goal attempt with 11 seconds left on the clock in a tie game.

“I think that was our Blessed Mother asking for the spotlight to be shown on her and reminding me that all the glory goes to God and to her,” Butker told CNA in March.

Papal envoy to Ukraine meets with President Zelenskyy, concludes ‘intense’ visit

Pope Francis’ envoy to Ukraine Cardinal Matteo Zuppi on June 6, 2023, finished a “brief but intense” two-day visit to Kyiv, which included a meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. / Credit: Vatican News/YouTube

CNA Newsroom, Jun 6, 2023 / 13:15 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis’ envoy to Ukraine Cardinal Matteo Zuppi on Tuesday finished a “brief but intense” two-day visit to Kyiv, which included a meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“The results of these talks, such as those with religious representatives, as well as the direct experience of the atrocious suffering of the Ukrainian people as a result of the ongoing war, will be brought to the Holy Father’s attention,” the Holy See Press Office said in a bulletin Tuesday. 

Zuppi’s conversations “will undoubtedly be useful in assessing the steps to be taken both on the humanitarian level and in the search for paths to a just and lasting peace,” the bulletin said.

On Tuesday morning, Zuppi stopped to pray at Kyiv’s St. Sophia Cathedral, a historic center of Christianity.

He then met with Zelenskyy and other political leaders. The meeting with the president was “very cordial” according to Avvenire, the newspaper published by the Italian Episcopal Conference.

Zelenskyy, writing on the messaging internet service Telegram, said he and Zuppi discussed the situation in Ukraine and humanitarian cooperation.

“Only joint efforts, diplomatic isolation, and pressure on Russia can bring a just peace on Ukrainian soil,” the president said. “I ask the Holy See to help implement the Ukrainian peace plan. Ukraine welcomes the willingness of other states and partners to find ways to peace, but since the war is on our territory the solution for achieving peace can only be Ukrainian.”

The cardinal thanked Ukraine’s civil authorities for the meetings, especially for the meeting with Ukraine’s president, the Holy See Press Office said.

Last month Pope Francis asked Zuppi, who is archbishop of Bologna and president of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, to serve as a papal envoy to “initiate paths of peace” between Russia and Ukraine.

The cardinal has strong ties to the influential peace-building community Sant’Egidio, a lay Catholic association. Sant’Egidio has taken part in peace negotiations in many countries including Mozambique, South Sudan, Congo, Burundi, and the Central African Republic.

On Monday, the first day of his visit, Zuppi visited the town of Bucha about 16 miles west of Kyiv, Vatican News reported. He prayed at the graves of dozens of civilians massacred by Russian troops in March 2022. Many of the victims were tortured and buried in mass graves.

He met with Dmytro Lubinets, the Ukrainian Parliament’s human rights commissioner. Topics of discussion included the treatment of Ukrainian children in Russian-occupied territories and the treatment of prisoners, including civilians.

Also on Monday, the cardinal met with representatives of the Council of Churches and Religious Organizations.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin on May 26 said that Zuppi’s mission does not have mediation as its immediate goal. Rather, his role aims to create a climate for mediation and “help move toward a peaceful solution.”

‘We have much to celebrate’: USCCB pro-life chair releases Dobbs anniversary statement

Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ fall plenary assembly in Baltimore, Nov. 16, 2022. / Katie Yoder/CNA

CNA Newsroom, Jun 6, 2023 / 12:45 pm (CNA).

Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, released a statement June 6 ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s June 24, 2022, decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade.

“We have much to celebrate,” Burbidge wrote. “By the grace of God, the nearly 50-year reign of national abortion on demand has been put to an end. Roe v. Wade — a seemingly insurmountable blight on our nation — is no more!”

Amid the time for celebration, however, “we are reminded that this is not the end, but the beginning of a critical new phase in our efforts to protect human life,” Burbidge said in the statement. “Despite this momentous legal victory, sobering and varied challenges lie ahead of us.”

Burbidge pointed out that in the last year, several states have passed legislation to protect unborn life while other states enacted “extreme abortion policies that leave children vulnerable to abortion, even until the moment of birth.”

“In this shifting political landscape, we persist confidently in our efforts to defend life,” he continued. “The work that lies ahead continues to be not just changing laws but also helping to change hearts, with steadfast faith in the power of God to do so.”

Burbidge called for “radical solidarity” with women facing unexpected or challenging pregnancies as well as compassion for those who suffer due to their participation in abortion. He also called for prayer.

“May all people of faith and good will work together to proclaim that human life is a precious gift from God; that each person who receives this gift has responsibilities toward God, self and others; and that society, through its laws and social institutions, must protect and nurture human life at every stage of its existence,” he concluded.

Here is Pope Francis’ schedule for World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon

A screenshot from Pope Francis' May 4 video message to young people attending World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal. / Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Jun 6, 2023 / 11:45 am (CNA).

Pope Francis’ schedule for his trip to Portugal for World Youth Day 2023 was published by the Vatican on Tuesday.

During his Aug. 2–6 visit to the southern European country, the 86-year-old pope will split his time between WYD events and meetings with local government and religious leaders and other organizations.

He will also spend the morning of Aug. 5 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, about 75 miles northeast of Lisbon, where he will pray the rosary with sick young adults in the Marian shrine’s Chapel of Apparitions.

On the evening of Aug. 5, Pope Francis will participate in a vigil with World Youth Day participants at Tejo Park in Lisbon, a green space of more than 220 acres flanked by the Tagus River and with a view of Europe’s second-longest bridge, Vasco da Gama.

The park will be the site for WYD 2023’s main festivities, including Mass with Pope Francis on the final day.

Sunday Mass followed by a meeting with World Youth Day volunteers will be the pope’s final encounters before returning to Rome on the evening of Aug. 6.

The five-day trip will begin with a meeting with Portugal’s Catholic President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa followed by an address to government authorities, civil society members, and the diplomatic corps.

He will later meet with the country’s prime minister, António Costa, before praying vespers with local priests, bishops, seminarians, and consecrated men and women at the 16th-century Jerónimos Monastery, one of Lisbon’s top-visited sites.

On Aug. 3, Francis will meet students from the Portuguese Catholic University before traveling to the Cascais suburb west of Lisbon to spend time with young people from Scholas Occurentes, an international group that promotes education in poor communities.

That afternoon he will take part in his first World Youth Day event, a welcome ceremony at Eduardo VII Park.

On Friday, Aug. 4, Pope Francis will hear confessions, meet representatives of charity organizations, have lunch with young adults, and pray the Stations of the Cross.

The trip will mark Francis’ fourth World Youth Day after taking part in the international Catholic gatherings in Panama, Poland, and Brazil.

World Youth Day was established by Pope John Paul II in 1985. The weeklong celebration usually attracts hundreds of thousands of young people.

The theme of Lisbon’s World Youth Day, which will take place Aug. 1-6, is “Mary arose and went with haste.”

Pope Francis names two new auxiliary bishops for San Diego who immigrated to US as teens

San Diego Auxiliary Bishops-elect Felipe Pulido and Michael Pham. / Credit: Diocese of Yakima, Father Michael Pham

Rome Newsroom, Jun 6, 2023 / 10:34 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Tuesday appointed two new auxiliary bishops for San Diego who both immigrated to the U.S. as teenagers.

The Vatican announced on June 6 that Father Michael Pham, 56, and Father Felipe Pulido, 53, will be consecrated as bishops for the Diocese of San Diego.

Pham is San Diego’s current vicar general and escaped Vietnam in a refugee boat with his siblings when he was 13 years old.

“Being appointed auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of San Diego by our Holy Father, Pope Francis, is incredible and unfathomable news for me. I am so deeply honored,” Pham told CNA.

While growing up in South Vietnam in the 1970s, Pham noticed a Catholic priest in town who was very involved with his parishioners and kind to everyone. At 10 years old Pham thought: “I want to be like that.”

After the Vietnam War ended with the fall of Saigon, Pham and two of his siblings fled the country in July 1980 in a harrowing boat journey in the South China Sea with no food and little water.

“We were jammed in like sardines.There was barely room to sit down,” Pham recounted to the Mission Times Courier.

Pham and his siblings spent three months in a refugee camp in Malaysia before finding asylum in the United States as unaccompanied minors.

The siblings were hosted by a family in Minnesota until Pham’s father, who had aided the Americans during his service in the South Vietnamese army, also gained asylum in the U.S. and moved the family to San Diego.

Pham finished high school in San Diego and went on to earn a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from San Diego State University. While working for a company that maintained databases for Boeing, he felt a call to the priesthood.

His father was strongly against him becoming a priest, but Pham’s call to his vocation became more intense and he applied to the seminary without his father’s approval.

“My parents soon realized that they couldn’t stop me from entering the seminary, and they finally accepted my request for their approval. I truly felt the hands of God working throughout the whole process for me to become a priest,” Pham said.

He enrolled in St. Francis Seminary and later studied at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, California, before he was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of San Diego in 1999 at the age of 32. Pham spent four years as the diocesan vocation director and has been the pastor of Good Shepherd Parish since 2016.

“It is truly a privilege and an honor to become a priest. And now, I am being called to serve the Church in a greater capacity as bishop. I don’t know what I have, but I hope and pray through the guidance of the Holy Spirit to give me wisdom, knowledge, and strength to take on this task that the pope has entrusted to me to serve God’s people,” Pham told CNA.

Pulido is the vicar for clergy and vocations director for the Diocese of Yakima, Washington. He was born in a small town in Mexico in the state of Michoacán and is the oldest of seven children.

At age 12 he entered a minor seminary in Mexico, where he studied through high school.

When he was 18, Pulido came to the U.S. with his parents and worked in the fields in Washington picking and packing fruit. He worked as a teacher assistant for three years at the Epic Migrant Head Start program before entering Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon in 1994 at the age of 24.

He spent time in Rome as a student at the Pontifical North American College and earned a degree in sacred theology with high honors at the Angelicum in Rome in 2000. Pulido also studied at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Rome from 2001 to 2002 and was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Yakima in 2002.

Pulido has served as the pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Kennewick, Washington, since 2020.

“Father Pulido is the first priest of the Yakima Diocese named to be a bishop since its founding in 1951. We are all very proud of him,” Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima said after the appointment was announced.

As auxiliary bishops, Pham and Pulido will join Auxiliary Bishop Ramon Bejarano in assisting Cardinal Robert McElroy in his duties as bishop of San Diego. The Diocese of San Diego serves more than 1.3 million Catholics.

Vatican: Pope Francis has checkup at Rome hospital

Pope Francis at his Wednesday general audience in St. Peter’s Square on May 31, 2023. / Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Jun 6, 2023 / 05:36 am (CNA).

Pope Francis went to a Rome hospital’s center for the elderly for a visit on Tuesday, according to Italian media reports.

Italian news agency ANSA reported that Pope Francis spent about 40 minutes at Gemelli Hospital before returning to his Vatican residence shortly before noon on June 6.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni issued a brief statement June 6 confirming media reports.

Bruni said: “This morning Pope Francis went to Gemelli Hospital to undergo some clinical examinations and returned to the Vatican before noon.”

According to its website, Gemelli Hospital’s center for elderly patients has a day hospital as well as areas for acute patients, rehabilitation, neuropsychology, and research.

Pope Francis, 86, canceled meetings on May 26 due to a fever. He resumed his normal activities the next day.

At the end of March he was hospitalized for four days for a lung infection.

Since early 2022 the pope has suffered from knee pain. He started to have difficulty standing and walking and has been using a cane and wheelchair for over a year.

He has also dealt this year with a recurrence of diverticulitis, a painful inflammation of bulges in the large intestine, for which he was operated on in July 2021.

Despite his recent medical challenges, the Vatican recently announced the pope’s intention to visit Mongolia Aug. 31–Sept. 1.

Francis is also scheduled to be in Lisbon, Portugal, for World Youth Day Aug. 2–6. The trip also includes a visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima.

This story was updated at 6:39 a.m. MDT with the statement from Matteo Bruni.

Former feminist turned pro-lifer shares her testimony prior to March for Life in Colombia

Adriana (left) / March for Life in Medellín, Colombia, on June 3, 2023. / Credit: United for Life

ACI Prensa Staff, Jun 5, 2023 / 17:20 pm (CNA).

A young Colombian mother shared her testimony regarding her feminist past and recounted how now, as a pregnant mom, she defends the right to life of unborn children.

In a special interview as a prelude to the National March for Life held throughout Colombia on June 3, Adriana shared her testimony with the United for Life platform in Medellín.

With the message “I defend women, including her” written on her showing midriff, Adriana related that she belonged to a group of women from her town and “from there they connected us to the entire feminist organization.”

The young woman lamented how in her time as a feminist, the leaders encouraged them to experience attraction to other women and to strip down during their demonstrations.

“I was surprised because they freely told us so at large gatherings and invited us to have an inclination for the same sex, for women themselves. And that kind of didn’t square with me,” Adriana said.

“In many of the demonstrations that we were at,” she continued, “because I was very active in the movement, they urged me a lot to strip down, to paint my body for the demonstration, which, thank God, I never agreed to because I didn’t see the reason to violate my privacy, my dignity.”

The change

Regarding the reasons that led her to leave the feminist movement, Adriana explained that “the issue of their supporting abortion so much never sat right with me because it doesn’t seem right to me to attack an innocent baby, because we, their moms, are the only ones who can defend them, so I decided to get out of the movement.”

“I got to know Lazos de Amor Mariano (Bonds of Mary’s Love), I consecrated myself [to Jesus through the Virgin Mary] and well, that’s it. By the grace of God, I’m pregnant. It was very hard, very difficult, but I love my baby and I am infinitely grateful to God for giving me this gift of being a mother,” she said.

“Being a mother is a gift, it’s not a right, because many want to and cannot,” the young Colombian said.

Bonds of Mary’s Love is a private association of the lay faithful dedicated to the new evangelization called for by St. John Paul II.

The crisis

Regarding the crisis that she had to go through when she realized she was pregnant, Adriana recalled that “I was very desperate because I was unemployed, without support, because my baby’s father left me alone, he doesn’t want to take responsibility and I was desperate all by myself and I said to myself, ‘What am I going to do?’”

“I talked with a missionary [from Bonds of Mary’s Love] and he connected me with Red Provida (Pro-life Network); they called me and a psychologist spoke with me, she offered me complete support. They have supported me emotionally, spiritually,” she added.

“All this can be overcome, thanks be to God,” the young mother remarked.

For life and against abortion

When asked about her participation in the March for Life events in Colombia, Adriana replied: “I’m here because I’m against abortion.”

If the woman decides not to be with the man, “there are many options such as adopting, but the baby is not to blame. There is no reason, not for rape, or deformities, to not to give life to a baby,” she continued.

The Constitutional Court (CC) of Colombia decriminalized abortion in 2006 on three grounds: rape, fetal deformities, or danger to the life of the mother.

In February 2022, the same court issued another ruling that liberalized abortion on demand up to 24 weeks, or six months of pregnancy.

The June 3 National March for Life, which was organized by the United for Life platform, demanded the repeal of that ruling as well as a 2012 CC ruling that decriminalized euthanasia. Tens of thousands of people turned out for the event in approximately 70 cities including Bogotá, Medellín, Cali, Bucaramanga, and Chiquinquirá.

To conclude her testimony, Adriana stressed that “we don’t have authority over life, God does. He’s the one who decides who dies or lives. We don’t have that right, especially if we have this great gift of giving life. How can you take it away?”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.