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NEW ZEALAND (ChurchMilitant.com) - In response to the advancing Culture of Death, New Zealand Catholics are holding a Rosary Crusade for life and faith.
Inspired by Polish Catholics and concerned by their country's socialist leaders' desire to remove all limits on abortion and legalize euthanasia, faithful Catholics Beverley Bennett and Clare Dargaville thought their country needed a Rosary Crusade as well.
"Starting the Rosary Crusade was definitely a moment of divine inspiration," Dargaville said.
On Dec. 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, New Zealanders will gather at 65 locations across the country to pray for "Life and Faith." This is also the day of their March for Life in Wellington, New Zealand. Abortion has been legal for 41 years and over 500,000 lives have been lost — over 10 percent of the population of the small country of 4.5 million.
Church Militant spoke with Dargaville, who said they had no resources aside from the love of Our Lady and knowing the power of prayer. Bennett has been a pivotal member of the team that has been preparing since February.
"She is a prayer warrior and has been praying every day, non-stop, for the success of the Rosary Crusade," Dargaville said.
"We had absolutely no money to fund our pro-life Rosary campaign, but again by divine inspiration, a group of faithful Catholics came forward with a substantial donation," Dargaville said. "Without their help, our campaign would have stalled."
She said they approached Dan Lim for help with the website design "because we knew he would create a stunningly beautiful website, as befits Our Lady, the Queen of Heaven."
Lim and Dargaville have worked together before on the design for the Fatima Rosary Pledge. She said after a year of searching for a website designer, they met accidentally and began working together.
Both websites Lim and Dargaville designed are rich in Catholic history. Dargaville's accounts of how praying the Rosary has influenced the course of world events or spared the life of a young girl from Ted Bundy's murderous wrath is worth the reader's time.
The group also commissioned Michael Pervan, who Dargaville called "the best iconographer in Australasia," to paint an image of Our Lady of Assumption, the patron saint of New Zealand, for the Rosary Crusade.
The meaning of the icon is that Our Lady is the Woman of the Apocalypse inviting us to pray the Holy Rosary. The clouds represent New Zealand, "the land of the long white cloud."
Like the United States-based Rosary Coast to Coast, New Zealand's Rosary Crusade started with a 54-day Rosary novena beginning on Oct. 16. Faithful Catholics pray three novenas in petition and three novenas in thanksgiving. The last novena coincides with the nine-day novena to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, the patroness of the United States, and starts on Nov. 30.
The Labour Party's advance of the Culture of Death since taking control of the government in 2017 has been rapid. The Law Commission was tasked with updating the abortion laws, and they made three recommendations, taking abortion out of the Crimes Act, making it a health issue and removing the time limits.
In December of that same year, they took power, and the End of Life Choices Bill that would legalize euthanasia had its first reading.
After receiving almost 40,000 submissions, the parliamentary hearings just closed on Nov. 13. This was reported as the country's largest ever, and the committee's report on the findings is expected in 2019. Nearly all of those submissions opposed legalizing euthanasia.
The bill's sponsor, David Seymour, downplayed the opposition saying, "There's no question it's probably 80 or 90 percent opposed, but I think people have to keep that in perspective — it's still much less than one percent of the New Zealand population and it's a highly motivated group."
Earlier in the year, New Zealand's Law Commission asked for submissions on whether or not abortion should be taken off the Crimes Act. While this is being promoted by abortion activists as "decriminalizing abortion" to protect women who procure unlawful abortions, under New Zealand's current laws, women cannot be charged for unlawful abortions.
Bishop Patrick Dunn, the president of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops' Conference, said in a statement, "Taking abortion out of the Crimes Act will, however, effectively remove all legal protections for the unborn child."
The majority of New Zealanders responding to the Law Commission agreed. Over 3,500 people responded, and only 18 percent agreed that abortion should be removed from the Crimes Act.
Bishop Dunn is one of the Rosary Crusade's patrons.
"Bishop Patrick has always been a staunch defender of the unborn," Dargaville said. "Four other bishops have offered their prayerful support as well."
He provided this quote for the Rosary Crusade:
When Bishop Pompallier first celebrated Mass in Aotearoa New Zealand in January 1838, he placed our country under the protection of Mary assumed into heaven. In the Rosary Crusade, let us ask Her to bless our efforts to create a society in which life is respected and treasured from the moment of conception until natural death.
Dargaville said that quote "resonates with Catholics all over the country." Bishop Pompallier celebrated the first Mass in New Zealand and was well-loved and respected, especially by the Maori — the indigenous people of New Zealand.
"So much so, that a group of Catholic Maori spent years negotiating to bring Bp. Pompallier's remains back to New Zealand from Paris," she explained. "They were re-interred in Motuti."
Dargaville noted the number of registered groups that have signed up "is pretty impressive considering we only launched our campaign just over six weeks ago." She said more are signing up every day.
The Rosary Crusade is also asking for prayers for New Zealand from Catholics all over the world.
"It is no exaggeration to say we are standing on a precipice," Dargaville said. "If these anti-life laws are passed they will be virtually impossible to overturn in the future."
"We hope New Zealanders and Catholics all around the world will join us on Dec. 8 at 3 p.m. [Chatham Daylight Time] and pray for this once very Christian nation," she said.
More information about the Rosary Crusade can be found here.