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The Undefeated: A New Pro-Life Generation Rises in California

In 07 Observations on 2013/11/06 at 12:00 AM

BY PETER JESSERER SMITH 

With a priority to translate the message of life into Spanish, the state’s young pro-lifers are social-media savvy and have fresh ideas.

Students for Life of America’s “Pregnant on Campus Initiative” webpage.

– Students for Life of America

LOS ANGELES — A new generation of pro-life leaders is rising in California, and they have set their sights on creating a pro-life California by building a pro-life movement that has fresh new ideas, social-media savvy and is truly bilingual.

California is the most populous state in the United States, with 38 million people, 15 million of whom identify as Latino. It’s also the state that accounts for the most abortions of unborn children, 17.7% of the total U.S. abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute. And it is the state where the abortion industry is getting ready for a rapid expansion.

The California Legislature passed two bills that expand abortion access in the state — allowing nurses and midwives to perform first-trimester, vacuum-aspiration abortions and changing building codes to allow those abortions to occur in primary-care clinics.

But despite these legislative losses, young pro-life leaders are seeking to build a new movement that brings the pro-life message to people in California in fresh, engaging ways. They are social-media savvy, but also make it a priority to translate the pro-life message into Spanish as part of their outreach to the growing Hispanic community.
Changing Youth With the Pro-Life Message

“This generation is amazing, and they going for it,” said Casey Tesauro, West Coast regional director for Students for Life of America (SFLA).

Tesauro, 25, said that the pro-life students she works with are “definitely fearless,” but they generally take a different approach to educating their peers and others about abortion than the previous generation did. They are much more focused on dialogue and building relationships in order to change hearts and minds.

“The idea of dialogue is really popular with this generation,” Tesauro said. Rather than arguing, the approach seeks to find common ground for a discussion and understand where the other person — possibly a post-abortive mother or father — is coming from. “We encourage our students to really focus on listening to the person.”

Students for Life has two major initiatives that Tesauro is helping chapters bring to their campuses to further the dialogue toward a culture of life. She said that, over the next two weeks, the “Planned Parenthood Project” will come through more than 40 college campuses and inform them about Planned Parenthood’s abortion business and how it profits from their age group.

Tesauro explained that all the material Students for Life gives to students on campuses is taken from Planned Parenthood’s annual report.

“One thing we are seeing with this Planned Parenthood Project is students don’t like being taken advantage of, especially by a big business,” she said.

But a long-term project for chapters, Tesauro said, is the “Pregnant on Campus Initiative.” Planned Parenthood aggressively targets for abortion single, college-age women. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 58% of women having abortions are in their 20s, and 85% of women having abortions are unmarried. So Students for Life chapters are advocating that their colleges and universities make themselves friendly to women who are pregnant and friendly to families, by building diaper-changing stations, offering lactation rooms, providing housing for student mothers and their families and changing school policy toward pregnancy.

“We want to tell her that she doesn’t have to choose between an education and having her child,” Tesauro said.
New Media Savvy

But the new, younger pro-life leadership is also tapping into the vast potential of new media and social media to connect audiences with the pro-life message.

But they also admit they are playing catch-up, because the pro-life movement has not kept up with Planned Parenthood’s pace in taking advantage of these new-media tools to engage the culture.

“I think that there has been a lack of sufficient response to how fast everything is moving in the state of California,” said Jonathan Keller, Right to Life of Central California’s executive director.

According to a 2013 Pew research study, 72% of Americans are engaged in social media, while 80% of Latinos — who equal California’s non-Hispanic white population — also use social-networking sites.

Keller, 30, said that God has blessed his group with “a very pro-active, very media-savvy and social- media-savvy staff.” He’s the second-oldest member of his staff — the newest hire being the 35-year-old Hispanic outreach director, Michael Salinas.

Keller said they conduct large-scale community outreach in the central valley region of the state, but new media and social media are critical to those efforts. The Right to Life group has dual Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts to engage with a local audience and larger statewide and national audiences. They have a television program called Life Report: Pro-Life Talk. Real-World Answers that broadcasts on the local Catholic television and radio stations, but is also available for free on iTunes and YouTube.

But he said that if the pro-life education message is going to translate into pro-life civic action, then the pro-life movement needs to take a lesson from President Barack Obama’s election success (and Mitt Romney and John McCain’s failure) to be strongly present in the digital environment. Keller pointed out that Obama’s concerted effort to reach out to youth through social media inspired them with a cause and turned them into passionate activists who manned phones and walked precincts.

“I think they [McCain and Romney] failed to adequately grasp how fast the world is changing when it comes to social media and being able to converse with the up-and-coming generation,” Keller said.
A Bilingual Message

The next generation of pro-life leaders in California realizes one thing: The pro-life movement must speak English and Spanish to get the message into the Latino community and all of California.

Astrid Bennett Guttierez, spokeswoman for Hispanics for Life (Hispanos Pro Vida) and co-host of EWTN’s The Catholic View for Women, explained that her Los Angeles-based group was trying to create a pro-life Hispanic grassroots.

“It’s not so much that [Latinos] accept abortion, but they’ve never really thought about it,” she said.

Gutierrez pointed out that neither the Catholic Church, nor the pro-life movement can afford to ignore the need to make websites and educational materials easily accessible in Spanish. She also noted that Latino youth born in the U.S. are preferring more and more to speak Spanish, and that Planned Parenthood is heavily engaged in marketing itself to the Hispanic community and expanding its access.

To counter those efforts, Hispanics for Life has been working through the Respect Life Office of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to establish chapters in almost 300 parishes, Gutierrez said. They are also working with Priests for Life to re-catechize the Latino community and awaken them to the reality that the abortion industry is an even greater priority than the important issue of immigration reform.

Gutierrez said that Hispanic culture is “more visual,” and graphic images of abortion have proved key for Hispanics having “a frank and open discussion about abortion,” which is not always the case with other populations.

“When Hispanic people find out [the truth] about [abortion], they are so surprised. They are shocked,” Guttierez said.

Keller said Right to Life of Central California has grasped this reality, and they are getting the pro-life message into the Hispanic community. He said Michael Salinas, their Hispanic outreach director, will be translating all their materials into Spanish, including the website.

Students for Life’s Tesauro also said she has spoken with many student activists at California campuses who are committed to being leaders in the Latino community and getting them connected with the pro-life message.
The Pro-Life Generation’

And these efforts to get the pro-life message into Spanish and engaged with Latinos may prove critical to breaking the stranglehold of Planned Parenthood on the Democratic Party in California, where Latinos form a large constituency.

Keller said that one of his organization’s “primary goals” is to reach out to the Hispanic community and help them “connect the dots on abortion” and demand lawmakers represent their pro-life values.

Tesauro said she firmly believes that the youth “are the pro-life generation,” and she has hope that the youth will make the difference in California.

“I really am hopeful,” she said. “Because every time I visit a college, I walk off that campus feeling more hopeful and encouraged that abortion will end.

Peter Jesserer Smith is a Register staff writer.

National Catholic Register

09/23/2013
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We Must Live the Faith with a Young Heart

In Uncategorized on 2013/03/27 at 12:00 AM

The pontiff urged the youth to “tell the world that it is good to follow Christ!”

JOY

“Jesus enters Jerusalem. The crowd of disciples accompanies him in festive mood, their garments are stretched out before him, there is talk of the miracles he has accomplished, and loud praises are heard: ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’ (Lk 19:38).“

“Crowds, celebrating, praise, blessing, peace: joy fills the air. Jesus has awakened great hopes, especially in the hearts of the simple, the humble, the poor, the forgotten, those who do not matter in the eyes of the world. He understands human sufferings, he has shown the face of God’s mercy, he has bent down to heal body and soul.”

“This is Jesus. This is his heart that looks upon all of us, who sees our sicknesses, our sins. Jesus’ love is great. And so He enters into Jerusalem with this love and looks upon all of us. It is a beautiful scene, full of light—the light of the Jesus’ love, of his heart—joy, and celebration.”

“At the beginning of Mass, we repeated all this. We waved our palms. We also welcomed Jesus; we too expressed our joy at accompanying him, at knowing him to be close, present in us and among us as a friend, a brother, and also as a King: that is, a shining beacon for our lives. Jesus is God but He lowered himself to walk with us. He is our friend, our brother. He enlightens us along the journey. And thus today we have welcomed him.”

“And this is the first word that I want to tell you: ‘Joy!’ Do not be men and women of sadness: a Christian can never be sad! Never give way to discouragement! Ours is not a joy that comes from having many possessions, but it comes from having encountered a Person, Jesus, who is among us. It comes from knowing that with him we are never alone, even at difficult moments, even when our life’s journey comes up against problems and obstacles that seem insurmountable, and there are so many of them! This is the moment when the enemy comes, when the devil, often times dressed as an angel, comes and insidiously tells us his word. Don’t listen to him! Follow Jesus! We accompany, we follow Jesus, but above all we know that he accompanies us and carries us on his shoulders. This is our joy, this is the hope that we must bring to this world of ours. Please don’t let him steal our hope. Don’t let him steal our hope, that hope that Jesus gives us.”

CROSS

“The second word. Why does Jesus enter Jerusalem? Or better: how does Jesus enter Jerusalem? The crowds acclaim him as King. And he does not deny it, he does not tell them to be silent (cf. Lk 19:39-40). But what kind of a King is Jesus? Let us take a look at him: He is riding on a donkey; He is not accompanied by a court; He is not surrounded by an army as a symbol of power. He is received by humble people, simple folk who had the sense to see something more in Jesus; those with a sense of faith that tells them: ‘This is the Saviour. Jesus does not enter the Holy City to receive the honours reserved to earthly kings, to the powerful, to rulers. He enters to be scourged, insulted and abused, as Isaiah foretold in the First Reading (cf. Is 50:6). He enters to receive a crown of thorns, a staff, a purple robe: his kingship becomes an object of derision. He enters to climb Calvary, carrying his burden of wood.”

“And this brings us to the second word: Cross. Jesus enters Jerusalem in order to die on the Cross. And it is here that his kingship shines forth in godly fashion: his royal throne is the wood of the Cross! I think of what Benedict XVI said to the cardinals, ‘You are princes, but of a crucified King.’ That is Jesus’ throne. Jesus takes it upon himself… Why the Cross? Because Jesus takes upon himself the evil, the filth, the sin of the world, including our own sin—all of us—and he cleanses it, he cleanses it with his blood, with the mercy and the love of God. Let us look around: how many wounds are inflicted upon humanity by evil! Wars, violence, economic conflicts that hit the weakest, greed for money, which none of us can take with us, it must be left behind.”

Here the Pope added a personal note: “My grandmother used to tell us children, ‘A shroud has no pockets!’” Then he continued: “Loving money, power, corruption, divisions, crimes against human life and against creation! And also—each of us knows and recognizes—our personal sins: our failures in love and respect towards God, towards our neighbour and towards the whole of creation.”

“Jesus on the Cross feels the whole weight of the evil, and with the force of God’s love he conquers it, he defeats it with his resurrection. This is the good that Jesus’ does for all of us upon his throne of the Cross. Christ’s Cross embraced with love does not lead to sadness, but to joy! It leads to the joy of being saved and of doing a little of what He did that day of his death.”

YOUTH

“Today in this Square, there are many young people: for 28 years Palm Sunday has been World Youth Day! This is our third word: Youth! Dear young people, I saw you in the procession when you entered. I think of you celebrating around Jesus, waving your olive branches. I think of you crying out his name and expressing your joy at being with him! You have an important part in the celebration of faith! You bring us the joy of faith and you tell us that we must live the faith with a young heart,” and here he emphasized, “a young heart, always, even at the age of seventy or eighty, a young heart. With Christ, the heart never grows old!”

“Yet all of us, all of you know very well that the King whom we follow and who accompanies us is very special: he is a King who loves even to the Cross and who teaches us to serve and to love. And you are not ashamed of his Cross! On the contrary, you embrace it, because you have understood that it is in giving ourselves, in giving ourselves and in going outside of ourselves, that we have true joy and through God’s love He has conquered evil. You carry the pilgrim Cross through all the Continents, along the highways of the world! You carry it in response to Jesus’ call: “Go, make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19), which is the theme of World Youth Day this year. You carry it so as to tell everyone that on the Cross Jesus knocked down the wall of enmity that divides people and nations, and he brought reconciliation and peace.”

“Dear friends, I too am setting out on a journey with you today, in the footsteps of Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI. We are already close to the next stage of this great pilgrimage of the Cross. I look forward joyfully to this coming July in Rio de Janeiro! I will see you in that great city in Brazil! Prepare well in your communities—prepare spiritually above all—so that our gathering in Rio may be a sign of faith for the whole world.” Then, in an unscripted exhortation, the Pope called out: “Young persons, you must tell the world that it’s good to follow Jesus, that it’s good to go with Jesus. Jesus’ message is good. It’s good to go outside ourselves to the ends of the earth and of existence to bring Jesus! Three words: Joy, Cross, and Youth.”

“Let us ask the intercession of the Virgin Mary. She teaches us the joy of meeting Christ, the love with which we must look to the foot of the Cross, the enthusiasm of the young heart with which we must follow him during this Holy Week and throughout our lives. May it be so.”

The Pope Emphasizes the Importance of Education in the New Context of Our Age

In 07 Observations on 2013/03/01 at 9:11 AM

The Pope focused on the theme of education, one of the principal challenges of our times and which today is located “in a context in which the evolution of ways of life and forms of knowledge create human, cultural, social and spiritual ruptures hitherto unknown in the history of humanity”.

In this regard, he also mentioned that social networks “tend to substitute natural social and communicative spaces, often becoming the only point of reference for information and knowledge. The family and schools no longer appear to be the primary or most natural fertile ground where younger generations receive the lifeblood of their existence. … Schools and universities seem to have become incapable of creative projects leading to a transcendental teleology able to attract young people in the very depths of their being. … Today’s world and its responsible adults are not able to provide them with the necessary points of reference”.

The Holy Father asked whether the dysfunction of certain institutions and services, both public and private, can be explained “by an inadequately provided and received education”, and went on to invite the governments of the nations represented by the ambassadors “to contribute courageously to the advancement of humanity, favouring the education of the new generations through the promotion of a healthy anthropology, the essential basis for all true education, and consonant with our common natural heritage. This task must take as its starting point a sober review of the various problems that exist within your respective countries, where certain political and economic policies may risk a gradual erosion of your anthropological and spiritual heritages, which have been refined through the centuries and patiently constructed on foundations that respect the essence of the human person in all its variety and in perfect harmony with the cosmos”. The Pope continued, “I again urge your governments to have the courage to strengthen and consolidate the moral authority – the call to a coherent way of life – necessary for a genuine and healthy education for the younger generations”.

“The right to an education in correct values can be neither denied nor neglected. The duty to educate in these values must never be limited or weakened by any form of national or supranational political interest. Therefore it is essential to educate in and about the truth: … the truth about mankind, about creation, about institutions, and so on. Alongside education in the righteousness of the heart and mind, the young also need, now more than ever, to be educated in the meaning of effort and perseverance in the face of difficulty. They need to recognise that all human action must be responsible and coherent with the desire for the infinite, and that this action should form a part of their growth, with a view to developing a humanity that is increasingly fraternal and free from the temptations of individualism and materialism”.

Vatican Information Service #121213

The Idea of Sainthood Has Often Been Distorted

In 07 Observations on 2012/10/04 at 9:11 AM

“We increasingly experience the failure of our efforts and our personal shortcomings, despite our best intentions. In the final analysis, the world in which we live, in spite of its technical progress, does not seem to be getting any better. There is still war and terror, hunger and disease, bitter poverty and merciless oppression. And even those figures in our history who saw themselves as ‘bringers of light’ – without being fired by Christ, the one true light – did not manage to create an earthly paradise, but set up dictatorships and totalitarian systems, in which even the smallest spark of true humanity was choked”.

“At this point we cannot remain silent about the existence of evil. We see it in so many places in this world; but we also see it – and this scares us – in our own lives. Truly, within our hearts there is a tendency towards evil, there is selfishness, envy, aggression. Perhaps with a certain self-discipline all this can to some degree be controlled. But it becomes more difficult with faults that are somewhat hidden, that can engulf us like a thick fog, such as sloth, or laziness in willing and doing good. Again and again in history, keen observers have pointed out that damage to the Church comes not from her opponents, but from uncommitted Christians”.

“Dear friends, again and again the very notion of saints has been caricatured and distorted, as if to be holy meant to be remote from the world, naive and joyless. Often it is thought that a saint has to be someone with great ascetic and moral achievements, who might well be revered, but could never be imitated in our own lives. How false and discouraging this opinion is! There is no saint, apart from the Blessed Virgin Mary, who has not also known sin, who has never fallen. Dear friends, Christ is not so much interested in how often in your lives you stumble and fall, as in how often you pick yourselves up again. He does not demand glittering achievements, but He wants His light to shine in you. He does not call you because you are good and perfect, but because He is good and He wants to make you His friends. Yes, you are the light of the world because Jesus is your light. You are Christians – not because you do special and extraordinary things, but because Christ is your life. You are holy because His grace is at work in you”.

“This gathering shines in more ways than one – in the glow of innumerable lights, in the radiance of so many young people who believe in Christ. A candle can only give light if it lets itself be consumed by the flame. It would remain useless if its wax failed to nourish the fire. Allow Christ to burn in you, even at the cost of sacrifice and renunciation. Do not be afraid that you might lose something and, so to speak, emerge empty-handed at the end. Have the courage to apply your talents and gifts for God’s kingdom and to give yourselves – like candle wax – so that the Lord can light up the darkness through you. Dare to be glowing saints, in whose eyes and hearts the love of Christ beams and who thus bring light to the world. I am confident that you and many other young people here in Germany are lamps of hope that do not remain hidden. ‘You are the light of the world'”.

Pope Benedict To German youth in Freiburg, Germany
(Vatican Information Service; 20110925 (1040)

Young Catholics meet a man who understands them By Colleen Carroll Campbell

In 10 Colleen Carroll Campbell on 2012/09/09 at 9:11 AM

There was an unusual intimacy in Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks to the 25,000 cheering young pilgrims who converged for last week’s papal youth rally in New York. Appearing happy and at home with his young listeners, Benedict spoke to them as too few of their elders do: He spoke as one who understands them from the inside.

This is important to young Catholics, whose affection for the pope and attraction to traditional Catholic teachings and devotions often is dismissed as naiveté or rigidity. At 81, Benedict understands a fundamental truth about fervent young Catholics that many of their middle-aged elders miss: Their enthusiasm for the faith is not about rejecting the world. It is about embracing a radical commitment to God that inspires them to influence the world with Gospel values.

Read more: https://2cornucopias.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php

Colleen Carroll Campbell is a St. Louis-based author, former presidential speechwriter and television and radio host of “Faith & Culture” on EWTN. Her website is www.colleen-campbell.com.

Benedict and the Young By Colleen Carroll Campbell

In 10 Colleen Carroll Campbell on 2011/09/21 at 6:00 PM

The seeds Pope John Paul II  planted  have produced a crop of dedicated, holy and scholarly young priests, particularly in the Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina.  Blog administrators comment on this article.

It happens every time the pope encounters a young crowd, and it is happening again at the papal youth rally in Yonkers: Young Catholics will turn out in droves to give Pope Benedict a warm, rock-star welcome. And many of their elders will watch and wonder: What do they see in him?

He’s the pope, of course, which still counts for something among even the most poorly catechized young Catholics. And a certain contagious enthusiasm always permeates youth gatherings. Then there is the cult-of-personality explanation favored by journalists who puzzled over Pope John Paul II’s rapport with young people for decades. But that rationale lost steam after 1 million effusive young pilgrims showed up to cheer the shy and retiring Benedict at his first World Youth Day gathering in 2005, which pundits had expected to be a flop without the charismatic John Paul.

Read more: http://www.colleen-campbell.com/Misc_Columns/080419PapalBlogFive.htm

Colleen Carroll Campbell is a St. Louis-based author, former presidential speechwriter and television and radio host of “Faith & Culture” on EWTN. Her website is www.colleen-campbell.com.