by Bob Reddy, Florida Catholic (5/2/12)
PORT CHARLOTTE â€“Â Three groups within the Diocese of Venice serve as the catalysts for keeping Pro-Life activities at the forefront of any discussion.
The Diocese Respect Life Office – with the support of parish Respect Life team leaders – along with the Council of Catholic Women and the Knights of Columbus work closely together in getting the word out on the latest issues relating to life.
Many of the key people involved in the pro-life activities throughout the Diocese of Venice gathered April 14 at St. Charles Borromeo Parish to recap some of the highlights from the past year and to plan for the coming year. This Coalition of Life meeting included people from 26 different parishes and was led by Diocese Respect Life Office Director Jeanne Berdeaux.
While much of the past year has been very busy with prayer walks for life, conferences and other events in support of various activities for life, Berdeaux noted that the coming months are going to be crucial.
â€śWe have a continuing commitment to defending the right to life from conception to natural death, but it has reached a critical level as we are now needed to defend our basic freedom of religion and liberty,â€ť Berdeaux said, referring to the recent U.S. Health and Human Services mandate which requires insurance coverage to include contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs.
A Religious Freedom Rally held inSarasotaon March 23 included approximately 2,000 people, was just the beginning of what will be an ongoing effort to overturn the mandate. â€śBishop (Frank J.) Dewane warns us that this is just the beginning of what must be done to end this attack on the Church,â€ť Berdeaux said.
The efforts in the Diocese of Venice will coincide with the work of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops which is developing a campaign to strike down the mandate and its companion Health Care Amendment.
At the heart of the USCCB effort is reminding the faithful of their responsibility to learn Church teachings on key issues and then to defend Her when she is under attack.
â€śWe have to educate everyone in our parishes that they each have a moral obligation to act,â€ť Berdeaux said. This will be carried through in the upcoming elections as people must vote based on a consistent moral framework.
In addition to the HHS mandate, the State ofFloridahas two Constitutional Amendments, 6 and 8, which are supported by the Church and need support from the faithful.
Amendment 6 opens the door for legislation maintaining parentsâ€™ rights; prohibits public funds for abortion, with exceptions; and alignsFloridalaw with Federal law on funding of abortion. Amendment 8 preserves time-honored partnerships between government and social service organizations; ensures continued delivery of social services by faith-based organizations; and eliminates discrimination against churches and religious institutions who provide social services. The Florida Catholic Conference will be sending detailed information on the amendments to each Diocese in the coming weeks to help spread the word.
In another topic, the participants in the meeting were given an outreach to promote a Divine Mercy Chaplet for the sick and dying. This novena would be done to bring greater awareness to end-of-life issues on the parish level. Each person was provided with a sample of the chaplet which will be promoted in the coming months.
Part of the meeting looked back, and included the exciting news that more than 20 babies were saved by people who stood vigil in front of the different Planned Parenthoods abortion facilities inSarasota,Fort MyersandNaples.
In addition, prayer walks for life, including individual walks and the fall and spring 40 Days for life campaigns drew huge numbers of supporters. Many of the prayer vigils took place in front of Planned Parenthood facilities in Fort Myers, Naplesand Sarasota, while another vigil was at an abortion doctorâ€™s office in Port Charlotte. A group of 100 people also joined Bishop Dewane in Washington, D.C.for the National March for Life, to commemorate the 39th Anniversary of Roe vs. Wade.
The meeting also included recognition of parishes which have gone above others in supporting the cause of life. Three parishes and one Knights Council raised more than $1,000 for the annual Pennies for Babies Fund. The fund assists women in stressful pregnancies as well as their babies. The ongoing Novena of Masses for Life, which is on the 25th of each month from March until December includes 205 Masses throughout the Diocese. Berdeaux recognized the 17 parishes which will be have a Mass each month of the novena.
For more information about the activities of the Diocese of Venice Respect Life Office, please visit the Diocese of Venice website at dioceseofvenice.org, or contact Jeanne Berdeaux at email@example.com or 941-484-9543.