FRC: Europe High Court Denies ‘Right to Abortion,’ Upholds Irish Legal Autonomy

December 17, 2010

WASHINGTON, (MetroCatholic) — In a decision involving challenges to Ireland’s abortion laws, the European Court of Human Rights today held that the European Convention on Human Rights does not contain a general right to abortion. In a suit that had been dubbed the “Roe v. Wade of Europe,” today’s decision was a substantial victory for the unborn. The ruling stymies the international abortion movement’s claims that abortion is a universally-recognized right.
In November, 2008, Family Research Council, the Alliance Defense Fund (FRC’s counsel), the European Centre for Law and Justice, and the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children filed an amicus brief supporting Ireland. Of this decision, Jeanne Monahan, Director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council, said:

“Europe’s highest court has sent a very welcome message not only to its constituent countries but to the world at large that the so-called ‘right to an abortion’ is neither fundamental nor recognized worldwide, as abortion advocates would suggest.

“We are thankful that the European Court on Human Rights stood by the right of a nation to define its own laws, and also that the court stood by the life of the unborn. The result of Europe’s ‘Roe v. Wade’ decision reaffirmed that it is up to nations to define their own laws, and that a woman’s right to choose what to do with her body does not extend to a right to terminate a life she is carrying,” Monahan concluded.

Of final note is that with respect to one of three plaintiffs, the Court also held that Ireland had not provided proper procedures pursuant to Article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution whereby a life-saving abortion could be procured effectively. This procedural failure was deemed to violate the Convention’s Article 8. It is anticipated that the Irish government will correct this situation while also continuing to maintain its current protections for unborn children.

Thomas More Society Rallies Illinois State’s Attorneys in Support of Parental Notice

November 22, 2010

CHICAGO (MetroCatholic) — Today, the Thomas More Society took another step toward the long-overdue enforcement of Illinois’ Parental Notice of Abortion Act. Society attorneys filed a “friend of the court” brief in the Illinois Appellate Court on behalf of a bipartisan group of Illinois State’s Attorneys, urging the rejection of the American Civil Liberties Union’s latest attack on the Act’s constitutionality. The ACLU contends that the Act violates the privacy, due process and equal protection guarantees in the Illinois Constitution of 1970.

The parental notice law requires an abortion doctor to notify a parent, grandparent, stepparent living in the household or legal guardian before performing an abortion on a minor, unless the minor states in writing that she is a victim of abuse or secures a confidential “judicial bypass.” Although the Illinois General Assembly enacted the current parental notice law on a bipartisan basis more than 15 years ago, the law has not gone into effect because of the ACLU’s federal and state court challenges. Though upheld by a Cook County judge, the law’s enforcement was still “stayed” by agreement of the ACLU and Attorney General, pending a final ruling on the ACLU’s appeal. Illinois is the Midwest’s only state without a parental notice or consent law in effect.

“We are thrilled that so many county prosecutors throughout Illinois support a parent’s right to know before a minor is taken for an abortion,” said Peter Breen, executive director and legal counsel at the Thomas More Society. “It’s long past time for Illinois to protect its daughters from ’secret’ abortions by affirming the right of parents to be involved in their children’s medical decisions.”

The amicus brief argues the following points:

  • The Illinois Constitution does not confer a right to abortion. On the contrary, the 1970 Constitutional Convention referred abortion issues to the legislature.
  • Numerous other federal and state courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have repeatedly upheld parental notice as constitutional.
  • The Illinois General Assembly properly found that parental consultation prior to an abortion promotes many legitimate state interests.

Thomas More Society special counsel Paul Benjamin Linton drafted the brief, which thirteen State’s Attorneys from across Illinois have joined. For more information or for comment from the Thomas More Society, please contact Stephanie Lewis at 312-422-1333 or [email protected]. For a copy of the brief, please visit www.thomasmoresociety.org.

About the Thomas More Society
Founded in 1997, the Thomas More Society is a national public interest law firm that exists to restore respect for life in law. Based in Chicago, the Thomas More Society defends the sanctity of human life, the family, and religious liberty in courtrooms across the country. The Society is a nonprofit organization wholly supported by private donations. For more information or to support the work of Thomas More Society, please visit www.thomasmoresociety.org.

No Charges for Unlicensed Abortionist as ND Prosecutors Ignore Laws

November 17, 2010

FARGO, N.D. (MetroCatholic) — State’s Attorney Birch Burdick has announced that he will not file criminal charges against an abortionist Lori Lynn Thorndike, who committed illegal abortions at the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo, North Dakota, while her medical license was lapsed.

Brudick used abortion clinic rhetoric word for word by describing Thorndike’s licensing issues as “an administrative oversight” and noted that she had active medical licenses in South Dakota and Colorado at the time she was doing abortions on a lapsed license in North Dakota.

“North Dakota laws are very explicit. It is a Class B Felony to commit abortions in that state without a valid North Dakota medical license. Burdick has decided all on his own that the laws of North Dakota that were enacted for the protection of vulnerable women should not be enforced,” said Operation Rescue spokesperson Cheryl Sullenger.

Sullenger also received a letter today from the North Dakota Board of Medical Examiners Executive Secretary Duane Houdek, dated November 9, 2010, informing her, “At this point we are soliciting additional information regarding the complaint against Dr. Thorndike. All of this information will be forwarded to the members of one of the Board’s investigative panels who will decide whether formal proceedings should be brought against this physician.”

The letter went on to say that the matter would be discussed at a meeting of the Board scheduled for November 18, 2010. However, the day after the letter was written, the Board unilaterally decided to reinstate Thorndike’s license without a hearing of the Board, and has since equivocated on whether or not the matter will be brought up at the referenced meetings.

“There is obviously some kind of monkey business at work in North Dakota. In this case, no one is saying that Thorndike did not break the law. They simply refuse to enforce the laws that were broken,” said Sullenger. “When authorities give abortion abuses a wink and a nod, it only serves to reinforce the dangerous notion that is prevalent among abortionists that they are above the law,” said Sullenger. “Allowing abortionists to break the law without consequences creates an atmosphere that opens the door to further abuses that eventually cost women their health and sometimes their lives. Burdick and Houdek will have a lot to answer for when - not if - their lack of good judgment comes back to haunt the women of North Dakota.”

Background

About Operation Rescue®
Operation Rescue is one of the leading pro-life Christian activist organizations in the nation and has become a strong voice for the pro-life movement in America. Operation Rescue is now headquartered in a former abortion clinic that it bought and closed in 2006. From there, Operation Rescue launches its innovative new strategies across the nation, exposing and closing abortion clinics through peaceful, legal means. Its activities are on the cutting edge of the abortion issue, taking direct action to stop abortion and ultimately restore legal personhood to the pre-born in obedience to biblical mandates.

‘Hush Hush’ E-Mail Reveals Back-Room Deal to Ignore Illegal Abortions in North Dakota

November 12, 2010

FARGO, N.D., (MetroCatholic)- Operation Rescue has learned through an intercepted secret e-mail that the North Dakota State Board of Medical Examiners (NDBME) has notified the Red River Women’s Clinic, the only abortion clinic in North Dakota, that the license of abortionist Lori Lynn Holst Thorndike has been restored and is currently in “Active-Unconditioned” status in spite of her operating illegally without an active medical license in that state since June 30, 2010.

This news particularly shocked pro-life activists at Operation Rescue and at local pro-life offices because there had been some indication given by the NDBME that a decision would not be made until the Board met on November 19, 2010.

The NDBME has attempted to downplay Thorndike’s lack of active licensure by indicating that it was an “administrative oversight.”

“It’s unbelievable that the Board would decide to overlook clear criminal activity and make a back-room deal to restore Thorndike’s license while leading pro-life supporters to believe that they are still looking into the matter,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “If that’s true, that’s a dishonest and unethical way to deal with the concerned public.”

Tammi Kromenaker, Director of the Red River Women’s Clinic, expressed relief at the news in a secret e-mail sent to supporters. She told her readers to “keep it hush hush” until after the NDMBE meeting scheduled for November 19th. Referring to the reinstatement of Thorndike’s license, Kromenaker wrote, “Whew!…This pretty much made my month [two smile face icons]. We are pretty happy around here & doing some happy dances.” Kromenaker included an attachment from the NDBME web site showing Thorndike’s newly restored license status.

North Dakota law is specific that only licensed physicians may legally do abortions. It is a Class B Felony to commit abortions without a license in that state.

Even the NDBME Executive Secretary Duane Houdek admits that Thorndike operated without a valid medical license. “It could be that she practiced once or twice,” Houdek told the local newspaper on October 30, 2010.

The NDBME web site had showed that Thorndike’s license status was “Inactive - Expired.” Then yesterday, a week and a half before NDBME officials announced they would make a decision, Thorndike’s license now appears in good standing.

“While the Board may be trying to sweep this illegal abortion scandal under the rug, there can be no doubt that crimes have been committed. The Attorney General still has yet to decide if criminal charges should be filed,” said Newman. “It is time for the public to let the Board know that their protection of illegal abortion activity is unconscionable and to remind the Attorney General that it is his duty to enforce North Dakota laws.”

Contact Duane Houdek of the NDBME: (701)328-6500
Contact ND Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem: (701)328-2210 or [email protected]

Read the E-Mail and attachment
Background

About Operation Rescue®
Operation Rescue is one of the leading pro-life Christian activist organizations in the nation and has become a strong voice for the pro-life movement in America. Operation Rescue is now headquartered in a former abortion clinic that it bought and closed in 2006. From there, Operation Rescue launches its innovative new strategies across the nation, exposing and closing abortion clinics through peaceful, legal means. Its activities are on the cutting edge of the abortion issue, taking direct action to stop abortion and ultimately restore legal personhood to the pre-born in obedience to biblical mandates.

Brazilian Congress considers proposal to reject legalized abortion

August 10, 2010

Brasilia, Brazil (CNA) — Brazil’s Congress is considering accepting a motion that would free the country of any obligation to adhere to the “Brasilia Consensus,” a July 16 document which proposes that abortion on demand be allowed in Brazil and throughout Latin America.

The document, which was promoted by Nilceia Freire, Brazil’s Minister for Women’s Affairs, was signed at the conclusion of the 11th Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Congress, which was held in Brasilia in July, was promoted by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, an entity linked to the U.N. Freire hosted the event and was an enthusiastic promoter of the final document, titled the “Brasilia Consensus.”

The document calls on countries in Latin America to review their own laws that impose punishment on women who undergo abortions.

According to the Defense of Life Movement, such an action would violate Brazil’s Constitution and Brazilian law. Both currently grant protection to human life without distinction. In addition, the “Brasilia Consensus” violates the American Convention on Human Rights, a binding agreement that carries the force of law in Brazil.

Brazil’s legislature has set a vote to decide whether to reject the document in its entirety. A number of lawmakers have pointed out that Freire’s proposal to change the country’s laws is a usurpation of the powers of Congress and that interference by the U.N. seriously affects the sovereignty of countries in Latin America.

Carlos Polo, director of the Population Research Institute’s Office for Latin America, explained to CNA that the Brasilia Consensus exhibits the logic of “sexual and reproductive rights + reproductive health = legal abortion,” something that is not a part of the legal framework of many countries in the region and therefore contradicts the idea of a consensus.

“For example, in Peru, a bill on Reproductive Health has not received enough support for passage even after attempts over eight years, and there is no indication things will change in the future,” Polo said. “For years, the promoters of this ideological discourse of ‘reproductive and sexual rights’ and ‘reproductive health’ went to great lengths to claim it did not include abortion. Today we see clearly and in writing from this document that they were not telling the truth,” he affirmed.

BREAKING: Federal Judge Rules Proposition 8 Unconstitutional

August 4, 2010

By Peter J. Smith

SAN FRANCISCO, California (LifeSiteNews.com) – U.S. District Chief Justice Vaughn Walker has dealt a blow to defenders of California’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, according to media sources.

Sources both with the Drudge Report and NY Magazine say Walker, who presides over the District Court for the Northern District of California, has declared Proposition 8 is unconstitutional, violating both the equal protection and due process clauses of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, because it bans same-sex “marriage.”

According to Drudge, Walker wrote in his decision that “Proposition 8 places the force of law behind stigmas against gays and lesbians.”

“Stereotypes and misinformation have resulted in social and legal disadvantages for gays and lesbians,” he said.

Proposition 8 states, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

Walker’s decision enjoins enforcement of Prop. 8. Pro-family advocates, however, have made clear they immediately will seek the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to stay Walker’s ruling, until an  appeal can be sorted out.

The 138-page decision will be made available by 5 PM, EST.

Developing …

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H.H.S. Approves Pennsylvania Plan to Use Federal Funds to Subsidize Coverage of Nearly All Abortions in New ‘High-Risk Pool’ Program

July 14, 2010

WASHINGTON (MetroCatholic) — The Obama Administration will give Pennsylvania $160 million to set up a new “high-risk” insurance program under a provision of the federal health care legislation enacted in March — and has quietly approved a plan submitted by an appointee of Governor Edward Rendell (D) under which the new program will cover any abortion that is legal in Pennsylvania.

The high-risk pool program is one of the new programs created by the sweeping health care legislation (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) that President Obama signed into law on March 23. The law authorizes $5 billion in federal funds for the program, which will cover as many as 400,000 people when it is implemented nationwide.

“The Obama Administration will give Pennsylvania $160 million in federal tax funds, which we’ve discovered will pay for insurance plans that cover any legal abortion,” said Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the federation of right-to-life organizations in all 50 states. “This is just the first proof of the phoniness of President Obama’s assurances that federal funds would not subsidize abortion — but it will not be the last.”

An earlier version of the health care legislation, passed by the House of Representatives in November 2009, contained a provision (the Stupak-Pitts Amendment) that would have prevented federal funds from subsidizing abortion or insurance coverage of abortion in any of the programs created by the bill, including the high-risk pool program. But President Obama opposed that pro-life provision, and it was not included in the bill later approved by both houses and signed into law. An executive order signed by the President on March 24, 2010 did not contain effective barriers to federal funding of abortion, and did not even mention the high-risk pool program.

“President Obama successfully opposed including language in the bill to prevent federal subsidies for abortions, and now the Administration is quietly advancing its abortion-expanding agenda through administrative decisions such as this, which they hope will escape broad public attention,” Johnson said.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has emphasized that the high-risk pool program is a federal program and that the states will not incur any cost. On May 11, 2010, in a letter to Democratic and Republican congressional leaders on implementation of the new law, DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote that “states may choose whether and how they participate in the program, which is funded entirely by the federal government.”

Details of the high-risk pool plans for most states are not yet available. But on June 28, Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Joel Ario (a member of the appointed cabinet of Governor Edward Rendell, a Democrat) issued a press release (see: tinyurl.com/icrelease) announcing that the federal Department of Health and Human Services had approved his agency’s proposal for implementing the new program in Pennsylvania. “The state will receive $160 million to set up the program, which will provide coverage to as many as 5,600 people between now and 2014,” according to the release. “The plan’s benefit package will include preventive care, physician services, diagnostic testing, hospitalization, mental health services, prescription medications and much more, with subsidized premiums of $283 a month.”

Examination of the detailed Pennsylvania plan (posted here: www.nrlc.org/AHC/PennsylvaniaHighRiskPoolPlan.pdf), reveals that the “much more” will include insurance coverage of any legal abortion.

The section on abortion (see page 14) asserts that “elective abortions are not covered.” However, that statement proves to be a red herring, because the operative language does not define “elective.” Rather, the proposal specifies that the coverage “includes only abortions and contraceptives that satisfy the requirements of” several specific statutes, the most pertinent of which is 18 Pa. C.S. § 3204, which says that an abortion is legal in Pennsylvania (consistent with Roe v. Wade) if a single physician believes that it is “necessary” based on “all factors (physical, emotional, psychological, familial and the woman’s age) relevant to the well-being of the woman.” Indeed, the cited statute provides only a single circumstance in which an abortion prior to 24 weeks is NOT permitted under the Pennsylvania statute: “No abortion which is sought solely because of the sex of the unborn child shall be deemed a necessary abortion.”

As a result, “Under the Rendell-Sebelius plan, federal funds will subsidize coverage of abortion performed for any reason, except sex selection,” said NRLC’s Johnson. “The Pennsylvania proposal conspicuously lacks language that would prevent funding of abortions performed as a method of birth control or for any other reason, except sex selection — and the Obama Administration has now approved this.”

A group of Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives who initially withheld support from the federal health care bill, because of concerns about pro-abortion effects, cited President Obama’s March 24 executive order in justifying their votes to pass the bill over objections from NRLC and other pro-life groups, which argued that the executive order did not contain effective barriers to federal subsidies for abortion. As USA Today reported on March 25, “Both sides in the abortion debate came to a rare agreement on Wednesday: The executive order on abortion signed by President Obama, they said, was basically meaningless. ‘A transparent political fig leaf,’ according to the National Right to Life Committee’s Douglas Johnson. ‘A symbolic gesture,’ said Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards.”

NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson and Senior Legislative Counsel Susan T. Muskett, J.D., are available for interviews to discuss federal abortion subsidies through the new high-risk pool program and other abortion-related problems with the new federal health care law. To arrange an interview, call the NRLC Communications Department at (202) 626-8825 or send e-mail to [email protected]

The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) is a federation of the right-to-life organizations in all 50 states (including the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation), with more than 3,000 local chapters.

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Feds Demand Court Toss Virginia Lawsuit Against Health Care Law

May 26, 2010

By Peter J. Smith

RICHMOND, Virginia (LifeSiteNews.com) – The federal government has requested a U.S. District Court toss out Virginia’s lawsuit against the health care reform law, which the state says conflicts with a statute declaring Virginia residents will not be forced to carry health insurance, saying that the state lacked standing to invoke federal jurisdiction.

The Associated Press reports that the Justice Department filed the motion to dismiss on Monday just hours before the midnight deadline to respond to Virginia’s legal challenge.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius argued that Congress was well within its rights to impose a national health insurance mandate under the interstate Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, and said Virginia and other states could not “manufacture its own standing to challenge a federal law by simple expedient of passing a statute purporting to nullify it.”

The new law mandates that all U.S. citizens must purchase health insurance or face a fine starting in 2014.

The federal government further claimed that, because the mandate applies “only to individuals, not the state government,” the commonwealth has no standing to pursue the case. Officials also insisted that Congress had broad authority to issue the mandate, which it called “essential” to the whole scheme of the health care reform law.

In a statement following the filing of the motion, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli stated: “We are still looking through the motion and 39-page brief that we received late Monday, but at initial glance, this is pretty close to what we expected.” Cuccinelli has until June 7 to respond to the motion.

Virginia had been the first state to fire a warning shot against the federal government over constitutional overreach as the health care bill was impending, by passing a bill declaring any federal mandate to require individuals to purchase health insurance null and void in the commonwealth.

The law states that, within Virginia, “No law shall restrict a person’s natural right and power of contract to secure the blessings of liberty to choose private health care systems or private plans.”

Within eight hours of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Cuccinelli filed suit in U.S. District Court in Richmond alleging that the Constitution does not permit the federal government to force citizens to buy a product.

“At no time in our history has the government mandated its citizens buy a good or service,” said Cuccinelli at the time of the filing. “We believe the federal law is unconstitutional as it is based on the commerce clause. Simply put, not buying insurance is not engaging in commerce.”

Well over a dozen attorneys general have followed Virginia’s lead by filing their own group lawsuit with the U.S. District Court in Pensacola, Florida, contending that the insurance mandate exceeds the limited scope of the powers granted to the federal government under Article I of the US Constitution.

Furthermore, they assert that the mandate violates the prohibition against the direct taxation of individuals outlined in Article I, sections 2 and 9 of the Constitution, and also invoke the Tenth Amendment reserving to states all powers not delegated to the federal government.

WE NEED AUTHENTICALLY CHRISTIAN POLITICIANS

May 21, 2010

VATICAN CITY (VIS)

The Holy Father today received participants in the twenty-fourth plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Laity who are currently meeting to examine the theme: “Witnesses to Christ in the political community”.

The Pope told them that, although the “technical formation of politicians” is not part of the Church’s mission, she reserves the right to “pass moral judgment in those matters which regard public order when the fundamental rights of the person or the salvation of souls require it”.

“It is up to the lay faithful to show - in their personal and family life, in social cultural and political life - that the faith enables them to read reality in a new and profound way, and to transform it”, he said.

“It is also the duty of the laity to participate actively in political life, in a manner coherent with the teaching of the Church, bringing their well- founded reasoning and great ideals into the democratic debate, and into the search for a broad consensus among everyone who cares about the defence of life and freedom, the protection of truth and the good of the family, solidarity with the needy, and the vital search for the common good”.

The Holy Father went on: “There is a need for authentically Christian politicians but, even more so, for lay faithful who bear witness to Christ and the Gospel in the civil and political community. This need must be reflected in the educational prospectus of the ecclesial community and requires new forms of presence and support from pastors. Christian membership of associations, ecclesial movements and new communities can be a good school for such disciples and witnesses, supported by the charismatic, community, educational and missionary resources of those groups”.

The Pope explained how “the spread of a confused cultural relativism, and of a utilitarian and hedonistic individualism weakens democracy and favours the dominance of strong powers. We must recover and reinvigorate authentic political wisdom; be demanding in what concerns our own sphere of competency; make discriminating use of scientific research; face reality in all its aspects, going beyond any kind of ideological reductionism or utopian dream; show we are open to true dialogue and collaboration, bearing in mind that politics is also a complex art of equilibrium between ideals and interests, but never forgetting that the contribution of Christians can be decisive only if knowledge of faith becomes knowledge of reality, the key to judgement and transformation. What is needed is a true ‘revolution of love’”.

VESAKH: CHRISTIANS, BUDDHISTS AND RESPECT FOR ENVIRONMENT

May 17, 2010

VATICAN CITY,  (VIS) - Made public today was the annual Message to Buddhists for the Feast of Vesakh, issued by the Pontifical Council for Inter- religious Dialogue and signed by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the council.

Vesakh, the main Buddhist festivity, marks three fundamental moments in the life of Gautama Buddha. It is held during the full moon of the month of May because, according to tradition, the Buddha was born, achieved enlightenment, and passed away in that period.

This year’s message is entitled “Christians and Buddhists Respect Human Life as the Basis of Respect for all Beings”.

“Let us take this opportunity”, the message reads, “to reflect together on a theme of particular relevance today, namely, the environmental crisis that has already caused notable hardship and suffering throughout the world. The efforts of both of our communities to engage in inter-religious dialogue have brought about a new awareness of the social and spiritual importance of our respective religious traditions in this area. We recognise that we hold in common a regard for values like respect for the nature of all things, contemplation, humility, simplicity, compassion, and generosity. These values contribute to a life of non-violence, equilibrium, and contentment with sufficiency”.

“The Catholic Church considers the protection of the environment as intimately linked to the theme of integral human development; and for her part, she is committed not only to promoting the protection of land, water and air as gifts destined for everyone, but also to encouraging others to join the efforts to protect mankind from self-destruction. Our responsibility to protect nature springs, in fact, from our respect for one another; it comes from the law inscribed in the hearts of all men and women”.

“Both Christians and Buddhists have a profound respect for human life”, the document goes on. “It is crucial therefore that we encourage efforts to create a sense of ecological responsibility, while at the same time reaffirming our shared convictions about the inviolability of human life at every stage and in every condition, the dignity of the person and the unique mission of the family, where one learns to love one’s neighbour and to respect nature.

“May we together promote a healthy relationship between human beings and the environment”, the message adds n conclusion. “By enhancing our efforts to promote ecological consciousness for serenity and peaceful coexistence, we can give witness to a respectful way of life that finds meaning not in having more, but in being more. By sharing the insights and commitments of our respective religious traditions, we can contribute to the well-being of our world”.

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