On 16 March. News from France, Switzerland, Canada, and Syria about the defense of life, surrogacy, migrants, the Festival of Families, Lent, and Mercy.
• EUROPE / ONE OF US On March 12th, nearly 1200 people gathered in Paris for the official opening of the European Federation One of us, which unites various European pro-life associations. Several European ministers present spoke out on this occasion. As reported in the press, the president of the Jerome Lejeune Foundation expressed the idea that the federation should "continue to develop the momentum, launched at the European level in 2012, for the defense of life and human dignity." At that time, he recalls, "a popular initiative was started on the basis of two requests: on the one hand, to stop the funding, at the European level, of embryo research; and, on the other hand, to abolish the European Union‘s support of certain campaigns that promote abortion in developing countries, in contradiction with the legislation of some Member States." • EUROPEAN COUNCIL / SURROGATE MOTHERHOOD The Commission on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development of the Assembly of the Council of Europe rejected, by a single vote, a report entitled "Human rights and ethical issues related to surrogacy" at a meeting held in Paris on March 15th. This report recommending framing and then legalizing surrogacy was presented by the Belgian gynecologist Petra De Sutter. It had caused a controversy because of its content but also because of the rapporteur herself: she is the director of a center for assisted procreation where surrogate motherhood is practiced and collaborator of an Indian clinic where wombs are rented out. Many associations have expressed their satisfaction with the result of the Committee‘s vote, including No Maternity traffic, Alliance Vita and the French Confederation of Catholic Family Associations.
• FRANCE / MIGRANTS The press is very interested in the action deployed by the Church in France to welcome foreigners, as is shown by this article about the work of the French Caritas in the diocese of Saint-Denis, in the northern suburbs of Paris, where there are many communities from Africa and the Middle East. A new initiative of supportive housing, in eight parish buildings within the department of Seine-Saint-Denis, is mobilizing almost 300 people for the reception of "those who are far away from everything."
• SWITZERLAND / FESTIVAL OF FAMILIES The Festival of the families of the Diocese of Sion celebrated its 20th anniversary on March 13th, with a Mass of the families presided over by the Bishop, Msgr. Jean-Marie Lovey. Many movements working in the field of family ministry, including Avifa, the Temas of Our Lady, Vivre & Aimer, Focolare, Alpha Courses and Revivre, participated. The Festival of the families was created in 1996 by the Bishop of Sion, Cardinal Henri Schwery
• CANADA / LENT During Lent, the Canadian Bishops‘ Conference continues publishing resources for homilies and prayers of the faithful intended as a bridge between the Sunday liturgy and pastoral initiatives for life and the family. As always, the suggestions for homilies and prayers are available for family or personal prayer. They can also be of help to groups and organizations. The texts for the month of March can be found on the web page dedicated to the life and the family.
• SYRIA / MERCY While the war in Syria continues in its fifth year, the Maronite Archbishop of Damascus, Msgr. Samir Nassar, has published an article stating that the violence, which is martyrizing the country, is also a source of mercy. In this text, put online by the Œuvre d‘Orient, Msgr. Nassar refers especially to the family: "With twelve million refugees and displaced persons, all the charitable movements have been overwhelmed by the situation, and only the family, bulwark of the Eastern society, has absorbed the shock and continues assuming the role of hospitality, consolation, sharing and support." He then added, "the wave of solidarity means housing twenty people in one room, sharing everyday life, including visits to the cemetery. These families incarnate Mercy, in silence and without expecting anything in return."