Life Notes

HLI Elects New President

FRONT ROYAL, VA—Father Paul Marx OSB, founder and chairman of Human Life International (HLI), announced Jan. 8 the election of Father Richard Welch CSsR, JCL, as the organization's new president. He succeeds Father Matthew Habiger OSB.

Father Welch, 44, is a Redemptorist priest, ordained in 1980. For 12 years he served as a missionary in Puerto Rico. There he worked to defeat a euthanasia bill in the Puerto Rican legislature, and organized a pro-life group of teenagers whose members distributed thousands of copies of Humanae Vitae at both public and Catholic universities. He holds the distinction of being the first priest arrested for protesting abortion in the United States.

Long associated with HLI as a conference speaker, Father Welch was appointed to the staff as ecclesiastical counsel in February 1996, and elected to the board of directors in 1997.

“Father Welch is uniquely qualified to provide strong leadership for HLI's worldwide apostolic mission of promoting and defending faith, life, and family,” said Father Marx. “His educational background, administrative skill, experience in canon law, and his long career of preaching and teaching the Gospel of Life is an extraordinary combination with which to lead HLI into the new century.”

Father Habiger, who has served HLI since 1991 as executive director and later as president, continues to serve as a member of the board of directors and will focus on expanding HLI's pro-life work in Africa and Asia.

Judge Puts N.J. ‘Partial-Birth’ Ban On Hold

TRENTON, N.J.—By extending a temporary restraining order Dec. 24, a federal judge once again put on hold a New Jersey law banning partial-birth abortions. Richard Collier, the Catholic pro-life attorney defending the law for the state Legislature, said he regretted that the temporary restraining order was granted in the first place. But he said he would use the extra time it afforded to conduct extensive legal and medical research and line up expert witnesses for the full hearing on the law's constitutionality, now set for June 3 in federal court.

Assisted-Suicide Advocacy Group Moves to Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore.—The move to Oregon of a prominent group that supports a right to die will boost physician-assisted suicides, say foes of the practice. Compassion in Dying, now based in Seattle, will transfer its headquarters to Oregon, where voters in November affirmed the nation's only law removing penalties for doctors who help patients die. The organization also plans to establish a statewide network of suicide counselors by June 1. Founded in 1993, the organization has guided dozens of patients toward hastened death, even while Washington law forbids assisted suicide.