Pro-life leaders hold international conference in Rome

Participants in Italy's 2014 March for Life walk towards St. Peter's Basilica. Credit: Lauren Cater / CNA.

Leaders in the movement to protect human life from conception to natural death held a conference in Rome on Saturday to discuss various pro-life initiatives underway throughout the world.

“The idea was to bring together international leaders from the pro-life movement from all over the world, here to Rome to support the Italians, but also to be here with the Church,” said Joseph Meaney, the Director of Coordination for Human Life International, one of the organizations sponsoring the event.

The May 3 conference known as the Rome Life Forum, hosted just down the street from the Vatican, was held in anticipation of Italy’s fourth annual March for Life on May 4.

“This meeting is very exciting. It’s actually the first international life forum here in Rome, held in connection with the Roman March for life,” Meaney told CNA on May 3.

Leaders from 36 different pro-life groups from Europe, North America, and as far away as New Zealand met behind closed doors on Saturday morning to discuss and strategize.

The afternoon public portion of the conference included speakers Cardinal Raymond Burke and Catholic commentator George Weigel.

Conference participant Julia Calinescu, who moved to Romania with her husband Dan six years ago to begin the pro-life group LifeNation, said that she felt it was “very significant for leaders to be able to get together.”

“You still need a mentor, you’re never a ‘master of the trade,’ so it was really great for us to be inspired by people who have so much more experience than we do,” she noted.

Dan Calinescu said he felt encouraged by meeting so many other pro-life leaders from around the world.

“I think sometimes especially in Romania, because the pro-life movement is so young, sometimes you feel alone and like you’re fighting on your own, but just being here … we get strength from this,” he said.

He said the meeting provided exposure to other pro-life advocates’ experience.

“We’ve got a lot of ideas written down that we want to try, plus contacts, so we hope that we can exchange ideas in the future.”

Another attendee was Robert Colquhoun, a London-based International Outreach Director with the 40 Days for Life Campaign that encourages Christians “to pray and fast for an end to abortion.” He said it was encouraging “to see the collaboration and cooperation of many different leaders from around the world.”

The 40 Days for Life Campaign focuses specifically on helping “locally organized community initiatives” of Christians who hold prayer campaigns outside of abortion centers around the world. The group is in its eighth year and has expanded to 522 cities in 21 countries.

“We’ve seen nearly 9,000 lives that were scheduled to be aborted, saved from abortion,” Colquhoun explained. “We’ve also seen over 140 workers leave their jobs and quit the abortion industry, and we’ve now seen 50 abortion centers close their doors for good.”

He said the morning portion of Saturday’s conference helped to “get people communicating, collaborating together where they can collaborate,” across the different fields in the pro-life movement.

Heartbeat International, which has over 1,060 affiliates throughout the globe, was another represented organization at the event. Dr. Marie Meaney helps the group’s work to aid crisis pregnancy centers in beginning or improving their services.

“We also look at the wider problem because often women feel that they have no choice, that they have to have an abortion,” she explained, noting that some abortions are motivated by life problems ranging from sexual abuse to lack of employment.

“And we try to help them, concretely, in their particular situations, so that they will have a future for their child.”

Meaney expressed her excitement at meeting others in movement. “It is an opportunity to make connections, to work internationally--to gather ideas, to exchange ideas,” she said with enthusiasm.

Saturday’s conference also resulted in a joint declaration from 52 pro-life leaders from 16 countries.

Each leader signed a document asking the bishops of the Catholic Church to withhold Holy Communion from pro-abortion rights politicians “as an act of love and mercy towards those same politicians.”

The document cited Scripture, canon law, and a 2004 letter to U.S. bishops from the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The document said that Catholic politicians who support abortion are in “grave sin.”


Seeking the face of God in the Scriptures

Archbishop José H. Gomez

Prayer is seeking the face of God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls the story of how St. John Vianney once found a peasant praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The saint asked him what he was doing, and the man replied: “I look at him and he looks at me.”


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February 13, 2016

  • Saturday, February 13

    World Day of the Sick Mass, Mass and Anointing of the Sick, 12:30 p.m., Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels,  555 W Temple St, Los Angeles. Archbishop Gomez presiding with other bishops and priests. Special section designated for those in wheelchairs with volunteers available to help. Limited parking available for $8. Carpooling is encouraged. For more info: Chuck Huebner at cjhuebner or Jim LoCoco at



    Bosco Tech’s Yurak Memorial Run & Kids’ Fun Run, Check in begins at 8 a.m., Memorial Run at 9 a.m., Fun Run at 10 a.m., Bosco Tech, 1151 San Gabriel Blvd., Rosemead. Race registration is $35 per person. For school groups of 10 or more, the cost is $30. To register online, go to or; same-day registration available at check-in table. Included: racing fees, finisher medal, goodie bag and BBQ lunch. Plaques will be awarded to the top five male and female runners and to the fastest runner under 18.All proceeds to benefit Bosco Tech’s Yurak Athletic Center (YAC). 


    Cabrini Literary Guild “Sweetheart Bingo” Meeting, Sat., Feb.13 at Oakmont Country Club, 3100 Country Club Drive, Glendale. Meeting starts at 11 a.m., lunch at 12 p.m. ($30/person), and bingo social at 1 p.m. Bingo cards are $5 each, or $20 for five cards. For reservations, call (818) 790-3485.


    Footprints: Making Tracks for Neighbors in Need, 8:30 - 11:30 a.m., Bishop Amat High School track, 14301 Fairgrove Ave., La Puente. Catholic Charities San Gabriel Region will present this annual walk/run fundraiser to increase awareness about poverty, hunger and homelessness in the San Gabriel Region. Proceeds benefit those lacking basic needs, such as food, clothing, transportation and shelter. This is a come anytime, leave anytime event, with the first lap around the track to be led by Bishop David O'Connell. For more information, visit or contact Mary Romero at (213) 251-3582 or

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