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New Texas law axes insurance coverage for elective abortion

Austin, Texas, Aug 15, 2017 / 02:45 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A new law in Texas removes elective abortion coverage from the standard package of health insurance benefits offered in many plans, a move that pro-life advocates hailed as a victory for those who do not want to subsidize abortion.

“As a firm believer in Texas values I am proud to sign legislation that ensures no Texan is ever required to pay for a procedure that ends the life of an unborn child,” said Governor Greg Abbott upon signing House Bill 214 into law on Tuesday.

“This bill prohibits insurance providers from forcing Texas policy holders to subsidize elective abortions. I am grateful to the Texas legislature for getting this bill to my desk, and working to protect innocent life this special session.”

Under the new law, elective abortions will not be covered in standard private or state employee health insurance plans, nor in public plans subsidized by the Affordable Care Act.

Abortions deemed to be necessary in cases of medical emergency will still be covered in standard plans, and optional separate coverage for elective abortions may be purchased by those who are interested.

“This isn’t about who can get an abortion. It is about who is forced to pay for an abortion,” said Rep. John Smithee, lead author of the bill.

The law was signed during a special legislative session. It had been approved by the House in a 95-51 vote last week, and by the Senate in a 20-10 vote on Sunday.

More than half of U.S. states limit coverage of abortion under the Affordable Care Act.

Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, denounced the law, saying it will negatively impact women who “need” abortions.

Another bill signed into law by Abbott on Tuesday requires doctors and health care offices to report additional details about abortion complications.

State Sen. Donna Campbell said during a debate on the legislation last month that “collecting this data is important to guarantee best medical practices.”

Scotland's rise in anti-Catholic crimes prompts call for government action

Glasgow, Scotland, Aug 15, 2017 / 01:50 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Crimes motivated by anti-Catholicism are on the rise in Scotland, and a leading Catholic spokesman has said the government must take more specific action to combat the trend.

“Were any other type of crime to be dominated so completely by a single type of behavior, we might expect a targeted strategy to emerge, promoted by the authorities as a response to a particular problem,” said Peter Kearney, director of the Scottish Catholic Media Office, in a forthcoming essay for The Scotsman.

Kearney compared the need for a targeted strategy to campaigns against mobile phone use while driving or drunk driving. These specific actions are targeted, rather than a generic campaign for “safe driving.”

“The approach is sensible and logical: before a problem can be tackled, it must first be identified and addressed,” he said. “Surprisingly, this doesn’t happen when it comes to religious intolerance and the criminal behavior which goes with it.”

There were a total of 719 charges related to religious prejudice in Scotland in 2016-2017, an increase from 642 in the period of 2015-2016.

Roman Catholicism was the most frequent target of abuse, making up 57 percent of these charges, numbering 384, in the latest period – an increase from 299 in 2015-2016. Catholics make up about 17 percent of the population.

Kearney suggested the figures show that Scottish society “remains scarred by past hatreds and tumults.” His Scottish Catholic Media Office is accountable to the Bishops Conference of Scotland.

Church leaders are expected to meet with Annabelle Ewing, the community safety minister. Kearney said recent exchanges in parliament indicated “the government’s unwillingness to adopt a name and shame approach to religious hate crime.”

He said cabinet secretary Angela Constance gave a “vague” response to concerns.

The figures regarding the crimes come in the Scottish government’s latest report, “Religiously Aggravated Offending in Scotland 2016-2017.”

Charges of religious aggravation were concentrated in Glasgow. In about half of all prejudice-related charges, the accused was under the influence of alcohol. About 41 percent of all charges involved accused perpetrators under the age of 30. Police officers were targeted for religiously aggravated abuse in about 44 percent of the charges.

Other religions were also targeted. There were 165 charges motivated by prejudice against Protestantism in 2016-2017, a slight increase from the previous period, and 113 charges involving anti-Islam prejudice, a slight decrease from the previous period. Anti-Jewish charges numbered 23.

About half of the charges came under laws targeting sectarianism in soccer. The Scottish Labour Party has proposed to repeal those laws, with support from several other parties in Parliament.

 

Twelve killed by falling tree before Marian procession in Portugal

Funchal, Portugal, Aug 15, 2017 / 11:44 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A tree fell on a crowd taking part in the largest religious festival in Portugal's Madeira region on Tuesday, killing 12 persons and injuring 52, according to local press reports.

The 200 year-old tree fell on the crowd at Nossa Senhora do Monte parish in Funchal, the capital of Portugal's autonomous region of Madeira, an archipelago in the Atlantic ocean, Aug. 15.

The faithful were preparing to celebrate a procession in honor of Madeira's patronness, Our Lady of Monte. Bishop Antonio José Cavaco Carrilho of Funchal said Mass before the procession, which was cancelled.

The Portuguese government is providing medical support to the victims.

Madeira has declared three days of mourning in light of the tragedy.

Archbishop Jorge Ferreira da Costa Ortiga of Braga tweeted, saying, “Faith is not life insurance, but a secure life. My prayers are for the victims of Funchal and for their families.”

 

A fé não é um seguro de vida, mas uma vida segura. A minha oração pelas vítimas do #Funchal e seus familiares. #tragédia #Madeira #Senhora pic.twitter.com/66USOAan5h

— D. Jorge Ortiga (@djorgeortiga) August 15, 2017  

Abortion-pill reversal: The next frontier of informed-consent laws?

Indianapolis, Ind., Aug 15, 2017 / 06:04 am (National Catholic Register).- Medication abortions are on their way to becoming the dominant method of abortion in the U.S. But lawmakers are starting to look at whether to change their state’s informed-consent laws to let women know of an experimental treatment that could possibly reverse the effects of a progesterone-blocking abortion.

Indiana state Rep. Ronald Bacon, (R-Chandler), told the National Catholic Register that he heard about the “abortion-pill reversal” technique during a presentation by Fort Wayne obstetrician-gynecologist Christina Francis. Bacon, who is Catholic, thought that women contemplating abortion, or who have taken mifepristone – the first pill in the two-pill RU-486 abortion process – should at least know the possibility existed.

In the event they wanted to reconsider their choice for abortion, Bacon said they should know about this possibility and who they should contact from the information packet that abortion doctors are required to give their patients.

“We should at least try to give women as much information as possible,” he said.

Bacon’s legislation passed Indiana’s House of Representatives Feb. 27 on a 54-41 vote, but never made it through the state senate. Other pro-life lawmakers balked at the law, citing the need for more studies.

Still, Bacon said the media coverage of the debate did create awareness.

“I felt at least the word got out there,” he said.  

Rapidly Changing Industry

First-trimester abortion accounts for 91 percent of all abortions performed in the U.S. But RU-486 medication abortions account for nearly a third of all abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute. That figure is rising, and in some states, RU-486 accounts for half of all abortions.

In Scandinavian countries, that future has already arrived: Medication abortions account for 96 percent of abortions in Finland, 91 percent in Sweden and 86 percent in Norway.

Mifepristone is the first drug taken in the two-step RU-486 chemical abortion regimen. The first pill (also known as Mifeprex) blocks the hormone progesterone from bonding to the uterine wall, causing it to shed, killing the embryo by literally starving it to death. Approximately 24-48 hours later, a second pill called misoprostol (commercially known as Cytotec) is ingested to expel the deceased unborn child with the other contents of the uterus.

However, Dr. George Delgado, medical director of Culture of Life Family Services in San Diego, California, that runs the AbortionPillReversal.com program and its 24/7 hotline, has developed protocols designed to block the effects of mifepristone by flooding a woman’s body with progesterone, ideally within 72 hours of taking the abortion pill. The concept involves overwhelming Mifeprex with progesterone in order to save the uterine lining and allow women to exercise their choice to continue their pregnancies.

Delgado said he is in the process of submitting an article for publication to a peer-reviewed medical journal that “will describe over 200 cases of successful reversals.”

The article will build on another study published in the spring 2017 edition of Issues in Law and Medicine by his colleague Dr. Mary Davenport, which reviews studies on women who took mifepristone alone for abortion. The review, he said found the embryo survival rate to be between 8 and 25 percent.

Delgado said that upper limit of 25 percent will form the “historical control group” for comparing the embryo survival rates from their best progesterone-treatment protocols, which their data puts in the range of 60-70 percent.

“It does make a difference if a woman who changes her mind undergoes our reversal protocols,” he said.

Abortion-Pill Reversal

Many pro-life physicians and pro-life health centers across the country have now made abortion-pill reversal a treatment option to women.

Kathleen Eaton Bravo, founder of the Obria Medical Clinics and president of the Obria Foundation, told the National Catholic Register that Obria provides the progesterone treatment to women who request it. She said that as Obria’s telemedicine platform expands in more states, it will provide another mechanism for women searching for help after taking the first abortion pill.

“We have a much better opportunity to save lives this way,” she said. Bravo, who is a post-abortive mother, said when she had time to reflect on her surgical abortion decades ago, it was too late to do anything to save her child. But the woman who takes mifepristone in a doctor’s office actually has time in the privacy of her home to consider whether she really wants to go through with abortion before taking the second pill. At that point, she said, a woman who changes her mind and wants to keep her baby will turn to her smartphone and start searching for help.

“We have a much larger window of opportunity to save this child’s life if we can reach them through their smartphones,” Bravo said. “This is a much bigger opportunity to save lives than we’ve ever had through surgical abortions.”

Bravo said the best prevention against medication abortion is building relationships with abortion-vulnerable women so they never end up taking the abortion pill in the first place. She pointed out that Planned Parenthood’s abortion business model today is based on pre-existing relationships with clients: It utilizes telemedicine to connect with women and men and is providing them with health services. She noted that in California, Planned Parenthood is expanding into primary care and is starting to rebrand as “Melody Women’s Health.”

Bravo said that Obria is seeking to build those pre-existing relationships with women and men by connecting to them through Obria’s telemedicine platform and providing them with medical care and social support so that if they are in a crisis situation, they will turn to Obria first for help.

Model Legislation

So far, just three states have enacted changes to informed-consent laws related to informing women about abortion reversal.

Arkansas explicitly requires women to be told that it might be possible to reverse a mifepristone abortion. South Dakota’s legislation states that a woman does not have to continue the two-step abortion regimen if she changes her mind, and to look to the state health department’s website for information on reversal – none of which can be found there. Arizona passed and then repealed legislation requiring women to be informed that medication abortion could be reversed after a court challenge.

Lawmakers in a handful of other states have attempted to bring similar bills to their statehouses for consideration based on model legislation developed by Americans United for Life (AUL).

Denise Burke, AUL’s vice president of legal affairs, told the National Catholic Register that the organization believes women should know there’s a “possibility” that they could increase their chances of keeping their children with this treatment.

“This is empowering women to make the best decision for them and their families,” she said.

Burke said AUL has been in contact with a number of legislators that are contemplating bills for 2018. She hopes that the results of Delgado’s forthcoming study will bolster the case for lawmakers for making this knowledge part of the informed-consent process for abortion.

ACOG Opposed

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), however, has weighed against states changing their informed-consent laws. An ACOG spokesman referred to a position paper noting abortion-pill reversal has not been substantiated by the body of scientific evidence and is not recommended in ACOG’s clinical guidance on medication abortion.

ACOG’s paper noted that pregnancy will continue in 30-50 percent of women who take mifepristone alone and do not take misoprostol.

“Available research seems to indicate that in the rare situation where a woman takes mifepristone and then changes her mind, doing nothing and waiting to see what happens is just as effective as intervening with a course of progesterone,” it stated.

Dr. Gretchen Stuart, director of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s family-planning division, told the National Catholic Register that “laws that affect medical practice should be based on scientific evidence.”

“The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that medication abortion reversal is not supported by scientific evidence, and, therefore, this approach is not recommended,” she said.

Stuart also noted that Delgado’s previous report in the literature of women receiving progesterone injections was “too small a sample size to make scientific conclusions.”

In contrast, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists has lent its support to Delgado’s work.

Studies on the Way

Delgado told the National Catholic Register his latest findings will be published over the next several months. However, he stated the ACOG position paper cited figures for incomplete abortion, which are not the same figures as embryo survival. In the studies where doctors checked for the embryo’s survival with ultrasound, the embryo was already dead, even though the woman’s body had not begun the process of expelling the uterine contents.

In principle, he said women should know that reversal is an option “in case they change their minds” and be assured no scientific data indicates either mifepristone or progesterone treatments cause birth defects.

“We have evidence that using progesterone to reverse the effects of a mifepristone abortion is both safe and effective,” Delgado said.

Further studies demonstrating the effectiveness of Delgado’s technique will likely be needed before more legislators act on it. Rep. Bacon said he intends to bring his bill back to the statehouse once he can approach his fellow Indiana lawmakers with “more clinical proof.”

“I definitely will bring it back then.”

 

This article was originally published by the National Catholic Register.

 

In Christ, Mary brings new joy and meaning to mankind, Pope says

Vatican City, Aug 15, 2017 / 04:26 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On the Feast of the Assumption, Pope Francis said that in bringing Christ to the world, Mary also provides the joy and grace of her Son, which not only sustain us in difficulty, but are primarily intended for the weak and humble.

“Carrying Jesus, the Madonna also brings us a new joy, full of meaning; she brings us a new ability to pass with faith through the most painful and difficult moments; she brings us the capacity for mercy, forgiveness, understanding and supporting one another,” the Pope said Aug. 15.

Mary, he said, “is the model of faith and virtue,” and in contemplating her Assumption into Heaven, we give her thanks “because she always precedes us on the pilgrimage of life and of faith.”

We are also able to ask that she “guard us and sustain us, that we may have a strong faith, joyful and merciful; that she help us to be holy, to meet her, one day, in paradise,” he said.

Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims present for a special Angelus address given for the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, which is celebrated annually Aug. 15.

The dogma of the Assumption of Mary – also called the “Dormition of Mary” in the Eastern Churches – teaches that when Mary's earthly life ended, God assumed her body and soul into heaven.

The Assumption of Mary was a widely-held tradition even in the early centuries of the Church, and was a frequent meditation in the writings of saints throughout the centuries. However, it wasn't until 1950 that it was dogmatically defined by Pope Pius XII in the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus.

In his Angelus speech honoring the feast, Pope Francis turned to the day's Gospel reading from Luke, in which Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth, who is miraculously pregnant with John the Baptist, despite her advanced age.

He noted how when Mary arrived to her cousin, having gone “in haste,” Elizabeth immediately proclaims, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”

In this moment, the greatest gift that Mary brought not just to Elizabeth, but to the whole world, “is Jesus, who already lives in her,” Francis said.

“And he lives not only by faith and waiting, as in many other women in the Old Testament: from the Virgin Mary Jesus took on human flesh, for his mission of salvation.”

The Pope then noted how preceding the encounter, Elisabeth and her husband Zechariah were filled with sadness by the fact that they couldn't have children. However, in place of this, “now there is the joy of a child on the way: a child who will become the great John the Baptist, precursor of the Messiah.”

And when Mary arrives, this joy “overflows and bursts from their hearts,” he said, “because the invisible but real presence of Jesus fills all meaning: life, family, the salvation of the people...everything!”

Mary herself expresses this joy when she speaks the “stupendous prayer” of the Magnificat, which is “a song of joy to God who works great things through humble people, unknown to the world, like Mary herself, like her spouse Joseph, and also like the village in which they lived, Nazareth.”

In off-the-cuff remarks, the Pope pointed to “the great things the Lord does in the world with the humble, because humility is like a void that leaves room for God.”

The humble person “is strong because they are humble, not because they are powerful,” he said, and urged those present to ask themselves “how is my humility?” and to reflect on the answer.

Going on, Francis said the Magnificat prayer is an expression of God's mercy and fidelity, as well as his plan for salvation, which he carries out with “the little ones and the poor, with those who have faith in him” and trust in his Word, as Mary did.

Jesus' arrival to Elizabeth and Zechariah through Mary brings not only a climate of joy and communion, but also “a climate of faith which leads to hope, prayer and praise,” the Pope said, noting that the same thing can happen for each person today.

Francis closed his address asking Mary to bring to each person and their families and communities “that immense gift, that unique grace which we must always ask for before and above all other graces that are also in our heart: the grace that is Jesus Christ!”

After leading pilgrims in the Angelus, the Pope offered a special prayer for all those who are suffering due to various global situations.

He entrusted to Mary and her intercession “the anxieties and pains of the peoples who in many parts of the world suffer due to natural disasters, social tensions or conflicts,” asking that she obtain for them “consolation and a future of peace and harmony!”

In addition to the various conflicts raging throughout the world, the Pope's words come after one woman lost her life and several others were injured when a car rammed into a group of protesters at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. earlier this week, adding fuel to what were already-escalated racial tensions in the United States.

The Pope's appeal also comes as many South Asian and African countries such as India, Bangladesh and Sierra Leone face heavy flooding and mudslides, which so far have led to hundreds, if not thousands, of deaths.

Pope Francis prays Angelus for Solemnity of the Assumption

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis reflected on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Angelus on Tuesday.

The feast of the Assumption, also known as Ferragosto, is an important religious and civil holiday in Italy, and thousands of faithful were present in St Peter’s Square to celebrate with the Holy Father.

In his remarks, Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel reading, which relates the meeting of Mary with Elizabeth, and records Mary’s triumphant song of praise, the Magnificat. “The greatest gift that Mary brings to Elizabeth,” the Pope said, “is Jesus, who already lives within her – not in faith and hope, as in so many women in the Old Testament: Jesus has taken human flesh from the Virgin, for His mission of salvation.”

Elizabeth, the Pope said, had already received the joy of pregnancy, after having felt for so long the sorrow of not having a baby. Now, at the arrival of Mary, her joy “overflows and bursts from her heart, because the invisible but real presence of Jesus fills her senses.” That joy is echoed by Mary in the Magnificat, a song of praise for God, who accomplished His plan of salvation through the poor and humble.

God is able to do great things through the humble because, the Pope said, “humility is like an emptiness that leaves room for God.” The humble person “is powerful because he is humble, not because he is strong.” He challenged the faithful to reflect on their own efforts to foster the virtue of humility.

In the house of Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah, the Pope continued, “the coming of Jesus through Mary creates not only a climate of joy and fraternal communion, but also a climate of faith that leads to hope, to prayer, to praise.”

And we too, Pope Francis continued, desire these things for our homes. “Celebrating Mary Most Holy, Assumed into Heaven,” he said, “we would like her, once more, to bring to us, to our families, to our communities, that immense Gift, that unique Grace that we must always seek first and above all other graces that we have at heart: the grace that is Jesus Christ!”

Mary, the Pope said in conclusion, “is the model of virtue and of faith. In contemplating her today assumed into heaven, at the final completion of her earthly journey, we give thanks that she always goes before us in the pilgrimage of life and of faith.” And, he said, “we ask that she protect and sustain us; that we might have a strong, joyful, and merciful faith; that she might help us to be saints, to meet together with her, one day, in Paradise.”

Following the Angelus, Pope Francis entrusted to Mary, as Queen of Peace, “the anxieties and sorrows of peoples who, in many parts of the world, are suffering on account of natural calamities, of social tensions or of conflicts.” He prayed, “May our heavenly Mother obtain consolation for all, and a future of serenity and of concord.”

(from Vatican Radio)

Angelus: Listen to the Lord not horoscopes or fortune tellers

(Vatican Radio)"When you do not cling to the word of the Lord, but have more security in consulting horoscopes and fortune tellers you sink”. Those were Pope Francis’ words during his Angelus address on Sunday in St Peter’s Square.

He was referring to the Gospel of the day where Jesus walks on the waters of Lake Galilee to save Peter and the disciples from sinking in their boat due to the heavy waves of the sea.

Listen to Lydia O'Kane's report:

The Pope recounted how this story is rich in symbolism. The boat, he continued, “is the life of each of us, but it is also the life of the Church; The wind represents difficulties and trials.”

Peter's invocation: "Lord, command me to come to you!" And his cry, "Lord, save me", the Holy Father noted  “are so much like our desire to feel the closeness of the Lord, but also the fear and anguish that accompany the toughest moments of our lives and our communities, marked by internal fragility and external difficulties.”

Pope Francis explained, that at that moment, Peter was not sure of the word of Jesus, which was like a rope to cling to in hostile and turbulent waters. This is what can happen to us as well, he said,   “when you do not cling to the word of the Lord, but to have more security in consulting  horoscopes and fortune tellers you sink”.

The Gospel of today, the Pope underlined, “reminds us that faith in the Lord and in his word does not open a path where everything is easy and quiet for us; It does not take away the storms of life.

But faith, the Holy Father went on to say, “gives us the assurance of a Presence, that is Christ, which pushes us to overcome the existential buffs; Faith, in short, is not a loophole from the problems of life, but it sustains our journey and gives it meaning.

 

 

 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope at Audience: ‘Divine mercy is foundation of Christian hope’

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis continued his catechesis on Christian hope with pilgrims gathered in the Paul VI Hall for the Wednesday General Audience, saying that God’s mercy as embodied by Jesus both transforms us and renews our hope.

Listen to Devin Watkins’ report:

In his address to pilgrims at the Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis spoke about God’s mercy and forgiveness as the driving force or the “motor” of Christian hope.

He reflected on the passage in Luke’s Gospel (Lk 7:44-50) in which Jesus forgives the sins of the woman who bathed his feet with her tears and a precious ointment.

Pope Francis said that Jesus’ merciful action causes scandal, because it overturns the dominant attitude of his time. Jesus, he said, embraced sinners and the “untouchables” of his day, rather than rejecting them as was commonplace.

“Jesus, faced with human pain, feels mercy; Jesus’ heart is merciful. Jesus feels compassion. Literally: Jesus feels a tremor within.”

The Pope said Jesus’ astonishing attitude to those in desperate situations, even those who have made many mistakes in life, marks our Christian identity with the stamp of mercy.

And this gives a sure foundation to our hope.

Pope Francis then invited all present to reflect on the cost of sin.

“Jesus does not go to the cross because He heals the sick, preaches charity, or proclaims the beatitudes. The Son of God goes to the cross above all because He forgives sins, and because He wants the total and definitive liberation of the human heart.”

Finally, Pope Francis said God’s mercy both transforms us and renews our hope.

“[W]e are all poor sinners, in need of the mercy of God Who has the strength to transform us and to restore our hope every day.”

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis decries attack on Nigerian churchgoers, violence in CAR

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis appealed on Wednesday for an end to “every form of hatred and violence”, especially those “perpetrated in places of worship, where the faithful gather to pray”.

He was referring to an attack on Catholics attending Sunday Mass in southern Nigeria and to recent violence against Christians in the Central African Republic.

Listen to our report:

At his General Audience, Pope Francis said he “remains deeply saddened by the massacre, which took place last Sunday in Nigeria inside a church, where innocent people were killed.”

At least 13 people were killed and 26 others were wounded when gunmen opened fire on worshippers at St. Philip’s Catholic Church in Ozubulu near the city of Onitsha.

The Pope also decried an incident which occurred on Wednesday in the Central African Republic.

“And, unfortunately, news has arrived this morning of violent homicides in the Central African Republic against the Christian community.”

He expressed his desire that attacks on places of worship should cease.

“I hope that all forms of hatred and violence cease, and may such shameful crimes not be repeated, especially those perpetrated in places of worship, where the faithful gather to pray.”

After a brief pause, the Holy Father invited all present to think about “our brothers and sisters in Nigeria and in the Central African Republic” and to pray for them.

He then led the crowd in the recitation of the Hail Mary.

Pope Francis already on Monday sent a telegramme of condolences to Bishop Hilary Paul Odili Okeke of Nnewi following the attack on the church in his diocese.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope sends video message to Church in Peru

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a video message to Catholics in Peru, ahead of his planned pastoral visit there next January. The short video message was published on the website of the archdiocese of Lima by Archbishop Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne.

Listen to our report: 

In the message Pope Francis talks about the wealth of human resources that characterize the past and present of the Church in the South American nation. Peru has many great saints, he says, who have contributed to the building up of the Church, helping it to move from fragmentation to unity.

Saints work for unity

A saint, the pope continues, is someone who always work to create unity, just as Jesus did, and a saint must always follow in his footsteps.

In the video the pope invites all Peruvians to follow on this path and to work for unity, looking to the future with hope, rather than with bitterness or skepticism. A Christian always looks ahead with hope, he concludes, because he or she always hopes to see the realization of what the Lord has promised.

Pope to visit Chile and Peru

Pope Francis is scheduled to travel to Chile and Peru from January 15th to 21st, visiting the Peruvian cities of Puerto Maldonado and Trujillo, as well as the capital Lima.

(from Vatican Radio)