Pro Pontiff, Pro-Magisterial, Pro-life, Pro-family. These articles reflect these values and I believe should be Interesting to Catholics. If there are any article I have missed, or you feel should not be here, or you agree/disagree with, then please feel free to post a comment.
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Sunday, July 31, 2005
Vatican City, July 28 - Pope Benedict XVI lamented the seemingly "dying" church in Europe and the United States and raised questions about the soaring number of priests in Asia and Africa in a lengthy, off-the-cuff speech to Italian priests.
Benedict also expressed sadness at the plight of divorced Roman Catholics who remarry without getting an annulment, reaffirming that they cannot receive Communion but stressing they should feel they still belong to the church.
The pope made the remarks to priests from the northern Valle d'Aosta region in a two-hour closed meeting Monday in Introd, near where he has been vacationing. The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, published a transcript of the remarks Wednesday.
The pope began his remarks, which touched on Marx, the upheavals in Europe of 1968 and other topics, by stressing that a pope isn't an "oracle" and "is infallible only in rare situations." Benedict previously has stressed that he intends to listen to others and not do only his will as pope.
He then delved into the issues raised by the Aosta bishop on the concerns of priests, noting that he was recently visited by bishops from Africa and Sri Lanka, where the number of priests is skyrocketing. In Europe and elsewhere, the number of priests has fallen sharply.
Benedict he said the "joy" at the growing numbers of churchmen in the developing world is accompanied by "a certain bitterness" because some would-be priests were only looking for a better life.
Becoming a priest, they become almost like a head of a tribe, they are naturally privileged and have another type of life," he said. "So the wheat and the chaff go together in this beautiful growth of vocations.
"Bishops have to be very attentive to discern (among the candidates) and not just be happy to have many future priests, but to see which ones really are the true vocations - discern between the wheat and the chaff," he said.
Benedict also touched on another his favorite themes: the state of the church in Europe. He said in contrast to the developing world, where there is a "springtime of faith," the West was "a world that is tired of its own culture, a world that has arrived at a time in which there's no more evidence of the need for God, much less Christ, and in which it seems that man alone can make himself.
"This is certainly a suffering linked, I'd say, to our time, in which generally one sees that the great churches appear to be dying," he said, mentioning Australia, Europe and the United States.
Benedict also responded to a question about giving the Eucharist to divorcees who remarry without getting a church annulment. The church says divorcees who remarry civally cannot receive Communion, arguing they are in a state that "contrasts with God's law."
The pope reaffirmed the teaching, although he acknowledged the suffering it has caused and said further study is needed. He mentioned in particular the case of when someone gets married in a church without being a true believer, is divorced, remarries and discovers his or her faith, but isn't allowed to receive Communion.
In reaffirming the policy, he said the church had to respect "the good of the community and the good of the sacrament" as well as help those who are suffering. He said priests should teach that suffering is necessary "and this is a noble form of suffering."
Some Italian media reports have suggested the pope was reconsidering the ban, and that the issue would come up at a bishops' meeting in October dedicated to the Eucharist. The question has long been a concern for Benedict; in the 1990s, bishops from his native Germany asked for flexibility on the matter.
The 78-year-old Benedict marked his 100th full day as pope Thursday, a papacy already far longer than the 33-day term of John Paul I. Benedict's immediate predecessor, John Paul II, was pope for more than 26 years.
The Gospel Is Timely
Pope John Paul II
Monday, September 6, 2004
(The following is the text of the homily the Holy Father delivered yesterday in Loreto, Italy, at the beatification Mass for Pino Suriano, Father Pere Tarrés i Claret, and Alberto Marvelli.) "What man can know the will of God?" This question, posed in the book of Wisdom, has an answer: Only the Son of God, made man for our salvation in Mary's virginal womb, can reveal God's plan to us. Only Jesus Christ knows the way to "attain wisdom of heart." And what is this way? He has told us in today's gospel: It is the way of the Cross. His words are clear: "Whoever does not bear his cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple." "To carry the cross after Jesus" means to be ready for any sacrifice for love of Him. It means to put anything or anyone before Him, not even the persons most dear to us, not even our own life. Dear brothers and sisters, gathered in this "splendid valley of Montorso," as described by Archbishop Comastri, whom I thank sincerely for the warm words he addressed to me. With him, I greet the cardinals, archbishops and bishops present; I greet the priests, religious, consecrated persons; and above all I greet you, members of Catholic Action who, led by the assistant general, Monsignor Francesco Lambiasi, and by the national president, Dr. Paola Bignardi, whom I thank for her warm greeting, wished to gather here, under the gaze of Our Lady of Loreto, to renew your commitment of faithful adherence to Jesus Christ. You know it: To adhere to Christ is an exacting choice. It is no accident that Jesus speaks of the "cross." However, He specifies immediately after: "after me." This is the important message: We do not bear the cross alone. He walks before us, opening the way with the light of His example and the strength of His love. The cross, accepted out of love, generates freedom. The Apostle Paul experienced this, "an old man and now a prisoner for Christ Jesus," as he describes himself in the letter to Philemon, but interiorly totally free. This is precisely the impression given in the page that was just proclaimed: Paul is in chains, but his heart is free, because it is full of the love of Christ. This is why, from the darkness of the prison in which he suffers for his Lord, he can speak of freedom to a friend who is outside the prison. Philemon is a Christian from the city of Colossae: Paul addresses him to ask him to liberate Onesimus, who is still a slave according to the law of the period, but a brother through baptism. Renouncing the other as his possession, Philemon will receive as a gift a brother. The lesson from this episode is clear: There is no greater love than that of the Cross; there is no greater freedom than that of love; there is no fuller fraternity than that born from the Cross of Christ. The three blessed, just proclaimed, made themselves humble disciples and heroic witnesses of the Cross of Jesus. Pedro Tarrés i Claret, first a doctor and then a priest, dedicated himself to the lay apostolate among the young of Barcelona's Catholic Action, of whom, subsequently, he was an assistant. In the exercise of the medical profession he dedicated himself with special attention to the sick who were poorest, convinced that "the sick person is a symbol of the suffering Christ." Once a priest, he consecrated himself with generous audacity to the tasks of his ministry, remaining faithful to the commitment assumed on the eve of his ordination: "Only one purpose, Lord: to be a holy priest, no matter what it costs." He accepted with faith and heroic patience a terrible sickness, which led to his death when he was only 45. Despite his suffering, he often repeated: "How good the Lord is to me!" And, "I am really happy." Alberto Marvelli, strong and free youth, generous son of the Church of Rimini and of Catholic Action, conceived the whole of his brief life of just 28 years as a gift of love to Jesus for the good of his brothers. "Jesus has enveloped me with His grace," he wrote in his diary. "I see only Him, I think only of Him." Alberto made of the daily Eucharist the center of his life. In prayer he also sought inspiration also for his political commitment, convinced of the need to live fully as children of God in history, to make the latter a story of salvation. In the difficult period of World War II, which sowed death and multiplied atrocious violence and suffering, Blessed Alberto lived an intense spiritual life, from which arose that love of Jesus which led him to forget himself constantly to carry the cross of the poor. Blessed Pina Suriano, a native of Partinico, in the Diocese of Monreale, also loved Jesus with an ardent and faithful love to the point of being able to write in all sincerity: "I do nothing other than to live for Jesus." She spoke to Jesus with the heart of a spouse: "Jesus, make me ever more yours. Jesus, I want to live and die with You and for You." As a girl she was a member of the Feminine Youth of Catholic Action, of which she was later a parish leader, finding in the association important stimulus for human and cultural growth in an intense climate of fraternal friendship. She matured gradually a simple and firm will to give her young life to God as an offering of love, in particular for the sanctification and perseverance of priests. Dear brothers and sisters, friends of Catholic Action, gathered in Loreto from Italy, Spain and so many parts of the world! Through the beatification of these three Servants of God, the Lord says to you today: Holiness is the greatest gift you can give to the Church and the world. Carry in your hearts what the Church carries in her heart: that many men and women of our time be conquered by the attraction of Christ; that His gospel may shine again as a light of hope for the poor, the sick, those hungry for justice; may Christian communities be ever more lively, open, attractive; may cities be welcoming and livable for all; may humanity be able to follow the ways of peace and fraternity. It corresponds to you, the laity, to witness to the faith through the virtues that are specific to you: fidelity and tenderness in the family, competence in work, tenacity in serving the common good, solidarity in social relations, creativity in undertaking works that are useful to evangelization and human promotion. It corresponds to you also to show, in close communion with pastors, that the gospel is timely, and that faith does not remove the believer from history, but submerges him more profoundly in it. Courage, Catholic Action! May the Lord guide your journey of renewal! The Immaculate Virgin of Loreto accompanies you with tender concern; the Church looks to you with confidence; the pope greets you, supports you, and gives you his heartfelt blessing.
Saturday, July 30, 2005
Date: Saturday, July 30, 2005
(The following homily was given by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde on the 25th Anniversary of Vows of Sister Mary Elizabeth of Our Lady at Poor Clares’ Monastery in Alexandria on May 29.)
A two-fold spirit of thanksgiving envelops us as we gather in this holy place, so dear to each of us and to our entire diocesan church. On this Solemnity of Corpus Christi, we give profound thanks to the Lord for the inestimable gift and great treasure He gives us in the Eucharist, both Sacrament and Sacrifice. Moreover, on this Silver Jubilee of Sister Mary Elizabeth of Our Lady, we likewise give joy-filled thanks to the Lord for having called her to be a Poor Clare through the profession of the vows of obedience, poverty, chastity and the observance of enclosure, which vows she shall renew in our midst following this homily. How filling it is that Sister Mary Elizabeth will renew her vows on this Solemnity of Corpus Christi because Jesus in the Eucharist is for her, as for each of us, our very life.
Yes, as the opening sentence of the Encyclical Letter "Ecclesia De Eucharistia" so beautifully reminds us, "The Church draws her life from the Eucharist" (No. 1). In a similar manner, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: "The Eucharist is ‘the source and the summit of the Christian life.’ The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and oriented towards it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch" (No. 1324).
Yes, the Catholic Church is truly a Eucharistic church. Some years ago, at the end of a presentation on a college campus whose focus was living as a Catholic in the world, a student posed this question to the speaker: "Why are you a Catholic?" The speaker responded: "Because of the Resurrection." "No," the student said, "that tells me why you are a Christian. I asked why are you a Catholic." The speaker paused and then replied: "Because of the Eucharist."
There is absolutely no doubt that at the core of who we are as the Church, Christ’s Body, lies the ineffable Mystery of the Holy Eucharist. Indeed, the Eucharist builds up the Church. We are members of the Church, nourished and strengthened by the Eucharistic Christ. In Christ, we find our food and our very life. The Lord Jesus comes to us under the signs of bread and wine, signs of nourishment. Today’s first reading from the Book of Deuteronomy reminds us that our spiritual ancestors, who journeyed for 40 years in the desert, were fed with manna, a food previously unknown to them, a food which came to them from heaven, prefiguring the heavenly food which Jesus gives us, His very own self. Today’s Gospel account narrates for us Jesus’ own words: "I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world … . Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever." Moreover, we find in the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist the source of our unity. So reminds us St. Paul in today’s second reading from his First Letter to the Corinthians: "Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf."
If, then, every disciple of the Lord finds his or her very life in the Eucharistic Jesus, all the more do those disciples who are living the consecrated life as members of religious congregations and institutes — and even more those among them who are living the contemplative life within the cloister.
Today, we rejoice with Sister Mary Elizabeth of Our Lady, who was the first to enter the new community of Poor Clares being formed for the proposed foundation here in our diocese, in this place called Alexandria. Sister Mary Elizabeth comes from Baltimore and went to the Poor Clares’ monastery in Roswell in January 1978 to begin her formation. Sister Mary Elizabeth made her first profession in the Monastery’s temporary chapel in 1980 and on May 31, 1984, she made her solemn profession in this chapel in the presence of both my Episcopal predecessors: Bishop Thomas J. Walsh and Bishop John R. Keating.
For these 25 years, since 1980, Christ has been her very life as a professed Poor Clare. In the Eucharist, Sister Mary Elizabeth has been strengthened by Christ’s Real Presence as she welcomes Him into the home of her heart in Holy Communion and adores Him present in the Tabernacle. After all, the Poor Clares, the spiritual daughters of St. Francis of Assisi and of St. Clare, are deeply rooted in the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist. They are dedicated to a life of worshipful love, whereby their daily life is centered on Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, enriched by daily participation in the Eucharistic Liturgy and rooted in the Divine Office. The Constitutions for the Poor Clares Federation of Mary Immaculate in the United States of America states so beautifully the centrality of the Eucharist in the lives of these nuns. "We shall gratefully acknowledge our sacred heritage from St. Francis and St. Clare of outstanding devotedness to the Holy Eucharist by focusing our lives on the tabernacle and manifesting ‘every reverence and honor to the Body and Blood of our Lord’"(Art. 25).
Dear Sister Mary Elizabeth, we rejoice with you on this grace-filled day as you observe in our midst and before the Lord your Silver Jubilee and profess again with renewed mind and heart those vows you first made 25 years ago. We thank God with you for calling you to the contemplative life of a Poor Clare and we thank you for saying "yes" to His call and for persevering in this vocation. Our prayer for you is that you will continue to grow in ever-deepening intimacy with your Spouse, the Lord Jesus Christ. May you find in Him your hope and your love — your very life! Pray for us, dear Sister, who likewise draw our life and strength from the One Who is your Beloved. With Mother Abbess and all your sisters here in this Monastery of Mary Mother of the Church, please continue to sustain all of us who form the Church of Arlington and especially me, appointed her shepherd in God’s divine providence. May we be faithful to our individual vocations even as you are to yours. Together, may we reflect a Church bright with the Light of Christ and aflame with His Love, a Church centered in the Eucharist, because Jesus truly present in the Eucharist remains our very life — now and unto eternity. Amen.
In 1954, after a campaign led by the Knights of Columbus, Congress unanimously voted to add the words "under God" to "The Pledge of Allegiance," effectively making it both a patriotic oath and a public prayer.
President Eisenhower joyously signed the bill into law and proudly proclaimed: "From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural schoolhouse, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty." They would be proclaiming what Americans had believed from the beginning.
But the secular extremists have captured a majority on the United States Supreme Court and put ends to voluntary nondenominational prayer in public schools and Ten Commandments displays in Kentucky courthouses. And the United States Supreme Court pointedly did not rule on the merits that "under God" could remain in "The Pledge of Allegiance" in the Newdow case.
- The word "God" appears in the first sentence of America's Declaration of Independence:
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
A synonym for God — "Creator" — and God-given rights appear in the second sentence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
(For a right to be unalienable, it has to come from God.) The last paragraph not only refers to God as "the Supreme Judge of the world," but humbly appeals to Him and ardently asserts "firm reliance on divine Providence":
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore have called the United States Constitution a "godless Constitution." They and other secular extremists crow that the word God appears in the Declaration of Independence, but not in the Constitution. Technically, that's true. But it is a distinction without a difference. And the Constitution certainly is not "godless." The Preamble to the Constitution states:
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Notice the word "blessings"? From Whom do you think the Framers were hoping to secure "blessings of liberty" for themselves and their posterity? From no one? From Satan? No. From God, the Creator, the Supreme Judge of the world, of course. America was founded in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Not by atheists or agnostists. Or Satanists. (Or Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists or Sikhs either, for that matter.)
Article I, Section 7 of the United States Constitution states in part:
Every bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a law, be presented to the President of the United States; if he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the objections at large on their journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a law. But in all such cases the votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and nays, and the names of the persons voting for and against the bill shall be entered on the journal of each House respectively. If any bill shall not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law, in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their adjournment prevent its return, in which case it shall not be a law.
Notice the parenthetical, “Sundays excepted"? Why Sundays? Because the men who drafted the Constitution were Christians and Sunday is the Lord's Day according to most Christians.
Jews and some Christians observe the period from Friday evening to Saturday evening as a day of rest and worship. But the Constitution was specific: It excepted Sundays, not the president's “Sabbath of choice,” nor did it provide for an exception only if the President is a Sabbath observer.
Above the list of signatories (George Washington is the first), the Constitution bears this note:
Done in convention by the unanimous consent of the states present the seventeenth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven and of the independence of the United States of America the twelfth.
Who was the Lord? Jesus Christ, of course.
The British lords who had ruled America had been chased away.
The truth that the secular extremists try mightily to obfuscate is that America's Declaration of Independence invoked God in a general way and America's Constitution went further, honoring Jesus, even while barring any religious test for public office. Clearly the Framers did not expect respect for the private right of conscience to be expanded to eliminate America's right as a nation to acknowledge God. They fully intended to support religion generally without establishing a national church.
Michael J. Gaynor, is a New York attorney admitted to practice in the New York State courts, the United States District Court for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He has written articles for The National Law Journal, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, and the Long Island Catholic as well as numerous online publications and recently appeared on The World Over With Raymond Arroyo (EWTN).
Thursday, July 28, 2005
It is no accident that Pope John Paul II proclaimed St. Francis of Assisi patron of those who promote ecology. It was emblematic of his thinking on the subject which he addressed consistently throughout his pontificate.
In fact, the Holy Father raised the environment in his very first encyclical, Redemptor Hominis (The Redeemer of Man) in 1979. His teachings on creation, the environment, and stewardship are worth considering for their relevance to the current dialogue.
On January 1, 1990, the pope delivered his World Day of Peace message in which he noted the lack of due respect for nature, but also a new ecological awareness. According to Sister Marjorie Keenan, RSHM, who wrote a definitive history of the Holy See and the environment, this remains the only major papal document totally on the environment. The Holy Father reviewed the biblical account of creation and the reconciliation of humanity to the Father through the death and Resurrection of Christ, concluding that “When man turns his back on the Creator’s plan, he provokes a disorder which has inevitable repercussions on the rest of the created order.” Stating that “the ecological crisis is a moral issue,” he affirmed the obligation of all men and women to contribute to the restoration of a healthy environment. For Christians the responsibility within creation, and their duty towards nature and the Creator, are an essential part of their faith.
- While defending the marketplace in the 1991 encyclical, Centesimus Annus (The Hundredth Year), the pope stated that
Equally worrying is the ecological question which accompanies the problem of consumerism and which is closely connected to it. In his desire to have and to enjoy rather than to be and to grow, man consumes the resources of the earth and his own life in an excessive and disordered way.
He describes this “senseless destruction of the natural environment” as being grounded in an “anthropological error” as to the true nature of human beings.
The magisterial Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994), one of the pope’s lasting contributions to the faithful, discusses “Respect for the integrity of creation” under the Seventh Commandment (“You shall not steal”). The Catechism follows long-standing Church teaching that the common good requires respect of “the universal destination of goods” as well as the right to private property. The goods of creation are destined for the whole human race. “The seventh commandment enjoins respect for the integrity of creation. Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined for the common good of past, present and future humanity. Use of the mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives,” states the Catechism:
- Man’s dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come.
In his 1995 Encyclical Letter, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), the Pontiff affirms that
…man has specific responsibility towards the environment in which he lives, towards the creation which God has put at the service of his personal dignity, of his life, not only for the present but also for future generations.
He emphasizes that
[i]t is the ecological question — ranging from the preservation of the different species of animals and of other forms of life to "human ecology" properly speaking — which finds in the Bible clear and strong ethical direction, leading to a solution which respects the great good of life, of every life….
This is because, “when it comes to the natural world, we are subject not only to biological laws but also to moral ones, which cannot be violated with impunity.”
And in 2002 the pope issued a joint declaration with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians, which stated that
Christians and all other believers have a specific role to play in proclaiming moral values and educating people in ecological awareness which is none other than responsibility toward self, toward others, toward creation.
Another priest-poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, expressed this unique, sacramental mode of perceiving the natural world, similar to that articulated by John Paul II. In his poem, “God’s Grandeur,” Hopkins exclaimed,
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
- It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
- It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Despite being “seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil” and the fact that it “wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell,” the world is ever new. “And for all this, nature is never spent;/ There lives the dearest freshness deep down things.” This fact Hopkins attributes to “the Holy Ghost” which “over the bent/World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.”
John Paul II grounded his ethic of stewardship in the dignity of man created in the image and likeness of God as reflected most fully in the Word made flesh. He steers clear of materialism and pantheism, embracing a sacramental view of creation as a visible manifestation of God. Stewardship as articulated by the pope does not come with easy answers. The Holy Father would be the first to recognize the paramount role of the virtue of prudence in human affairs. Still, his teaching on stewardship offers a true compass for thinking about the environment based as it is on his strong faith, his keen intellect, and his outdoorsman’s love of nature.©
Copyright 2005 Catholic ExchangeG. Tracy Mehan III served as assistant administrator for water at the US Environmental Protection Agency, 2001-2003. He is a principal with The Cadmus Group, Inc., an environmental consulting firm in Arlington, VA
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Friday, September 10, 2004
The Holy Father received American bishops from the ecclesiastical provinces of Boston and Hartford earlier this month.
He began his talk by stating that "throughout these reflections on the exercise of the munus episcopale propheticum, I have more than once drawn attention to the importance of the evangelization of culture. A fundamental challenge in this area is surely that of bringing about a fruitful encounter between the gospel and the new global culture which is rapidly taking shape as a result of unprecedented growth in communications and the expansion of a world economy. I am convinced that the Church in the United States can play a critical role in meeting this challenge, since this emerging reality is in many ways the fruit of contemporary Western, and particularly American, experiences, attitudes and ideals."
"The Church in the United States," he went on, "has long been committed to making her voice heard in public debate in the defense of fundamental human rights, the dignity of the person and the ethical requirements of a just and well-ordered society. In a pluralistic nation like your own, this has necessarily involved practical cooperation with men and women of various religious beliefs.... As the tragic events of 11 September 2001 have made clear, the building of a global culture of solidarity and respect for human dignity is one of the great moral tasks confronting humanity today."
John Paul II expressed his "personal gratitude for the traditional generosity of the faithful of the United States to the Church's mission 'ad gentes' through the training and sending forth of generations of missionaries and through the contributions of countless Catholics to the foreign missions.... May the Church in your country discover the sources for a profound interior renewal through a revitalization of missionary zeal."
"More than once in the course of these meetings," he remarked, "I have told you of my admiration for the outstanding contribution which the Catholic community in the United States has made to the spread of the gospel, the care of the poor, the sick and those in need, and the defense of fundamental human and Christian values."
The pope then noted that "the Church in your country has been chastened by the events of the past two years, and much effort has rightly been expended on understanding and addressing the issues of sexual abuse which have cast a shadow on her life and ministry. As you continue to confront the significant spiritual and material challenges which your local Churches are experiencing in this regard, I ask you to encourage all the faithful — clergy, religious and lay — to persevere in their public witness of faith and hope."
"In a particular way I would ask you to be strongly supportive of your brother priests, many of whom have suffered deeply because of the much-publicized failings of some of the Church's ministers.... Convey my personal gratitude for the generous and selfless service which marks the lives of so many American priests, as well as my deep appreciation of their daily efforts to be models of holiness and pastoral charity in the Christian communities entrusted to their care.... In a word, tell your priests that I hold them in my heart!"
LONDON — The Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and the Archbishop of Westminster, Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, have taken the unusual step of issuing a joint statement opposing a euthanasia measure before the House of Lords this week.
The private members bill, "Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill" is before a House of Lords committee and is not expected to pass. The bill would make it legal for doctors to "assist a person to die who is suffering unbearably." The bill specifically states that a doctor may actively kill patients. "'Assisted dying' means the attending physician, at the patient's request, either providing the patient with the means to end the patient's life or if the patient is physically unable to do so ending the patient's life."
The prelates have said that the qualifying requirements for a person to be euthanized by doctors rely too much on subjective criteria. The bill says that the patient himself must find his suffering "so severe as to be unacceptable." In their statement they said, "What terminally ill people need is to be cared for, not to be killed. They need excellent palliative care including proper and effective regimes for pain relief. They need to be treated with the compassion and respect that this Bill would put gravely at risk."
The covering letter from Williams and Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said, "We believe very strongly that respect for human life at all its stages is the foundation of a civilized society and that the long-term consequences of any change in the law to allow euthanasia in limited circumstances would be immensely grave."
The Bill is also opposed by the British Medical Association, Help the Aged, the Disability Rights Commission and Disability Awareness in Action. Professor Tim Maughan, the director of Wales Cancer Trials Network at Cardiff University said, "this is not what we became doctors to do." Dr. Nigel Sykes, Medical Director of St. Christopher's Hospice in London says the bill is "dangerous" and could progress to include patients with mental illness. "Euthanasia without express request will inevitably follow. Patients will be made to think that euthanasia is the decent thing to do," said Sykes.
See also: Bishops Oppose "Misguided and Unnecessary" Euthanasia Bill
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Friday, July 15, 2005
July 15, 2005
Catholicism "does not agree" with statement of faith, agency says
By Jean Gordon
A local Christian adoption agency that receives funds from the sale of Mississippi's Choose Life specialty car tags will not consider Catholics as adoptive parents.
"It has been our understanding that Catholicism does not agree with our Statement of Faith," wrote Bethany Christian Services director Karen Stewart in a July 8 letter to Sandy and Robert Stedman, a Catholic couple in Jackson seeking to adopt. "Our practice to not accept applications from Catholics was an effort to be good stewards of an adoptive applicant's time, money and emotional energy."
A private adoption agency, Bethany Christian Services has locations in 75 U.S. cities, including Jackson, Hattiesburg and Columbus.
The agency is one of 24 adoption and pregnancy counseling centers in the state that receives money from the sale of Choose Life car tags, which advocate against abortion.
Motorists pay an additional fee for the specialized license plate.
Of $244,000 generated by the sale of the tags in 2004, Bethany received $7,053, said Geraldine Gray, treasurer of Choose Life Mississippi, the umbrella group that distributes the money the tags raise to nonprofit groups.
"It is troubling to me if they are discriminating based on only the Catholics," Gray said.
Sandy Stedman, a 33-year-old neonatal nurse who had been trying to get pregnant for three years, said Stewart wrote her the letter after she called Bethany to inquire about the agency's policy toward Catholics.
"When I spoke to Karen Stewart, I said, 'I heard something I just cannot believe,' " Stedman said. "I asked, 'Do you accept Catholic applications?' and she said, 'No, we don't.' "
In a written response to The Clarion-Ledger's questions about the agency's policy toward prospective Catholic parents, Stewart did not answer the questions directly but wrote, "Bethany seeks to place children with (sic) who are emotionally, financially, socially and physically stable and who agree with the agency's Statement of Faith."
The Stedmans said they showed Bethany's statement of faith to their priest, who told them it did not conflict with Catholic teaching.
The statement is available at Bethany's Web site, www.bet hany.org.
"I have a feeling that the board has a little bit of that Deep South mentality about Catholics," Robert Stedman said.
Loria and Wes Williams, a Catholic couple in Ridgeland, had a similar experience with Bethany.
While going through fertility treatments, Loria Williams, 33, called Bethany in September 2004 because she and her husband decided also to pursue an adoption.
"When you go through infertility, you only have so much energy you can give certain things," she said, explaining she heard a rumor that Bethany didn't accept Catholic couples and wanted to confirm it before applying with the agency.
Like the Stedmans, she said she was told the agency didn't work with Catholics because they don't agree with Bethany's faith statement.
"I can't believe an agency that's nationwide would act like this," Williams said. "There was an agency who was Christian based but wasn't willing to help people across the board."
In Stewart's written statement to The Clarion-Ledger, she said Bethany's board will review its policy, but didn't specify which aspects of the policy will be addressed.
She wrote: "Recently, there have been many inquiries about our policy. When the Board of Directors meets for their regular bimonthly meeting, these inquiries will be addressed."
When Stedman learned Bethany Christian Services received funds from the Choose Life car tags, she said she was hurt and disappointed.
"I know of a lot of Catholics who get those tags," she said. "You're talking about something that goes through the Catholic faith — anti-abortion."
She added: "If it's OK to accept our money, it should be OK to open your home to us as a family."
Statement of Faith
Statement of Faith
Bethany Christian Services is founded upon the Scriptures which reveal the triune God. Members of the national board, local boards, staff and adoptive applicants indicate their personal agreement with Bethany's Statement of Faith by signing below.
I believe that the sovereign, triune God created the world out of nothing and sustains His creation. The heavens and earth are His handiwork. He made man and woman in His image and likeness as the crown of creation. All creation reflects His greatness and power.
I believe that God created the family, giving Adam and Eve the responsibility to conceive, bear and nurture children. As the creator of life, God Himself begins each human life at conception and gives to each person, as His image bearer, meaning, dignity and value.
I believe that sin entered the world when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and sought to be independent of Him. As a result of this Fall, all people are estranged from God and live in a world permeated by sin.
I believe that God, by His grace, provided redemption and restoration in Jesus Christ for all who repent and believe. As the Savior, Jesus takes away the sins of the world. Jesus is the one in whom we are called to put our hope, our only hope for forgiveness of sin and for reconciliation with God and with one another.
I believe that in all matters of faith and life, the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the final authority. The Scriptures point us with full reliability to Jesus, God's Son. The Scriptures tell us that we receive forgiveness of sins by faith in Jesus Christ, and that God provides salvation by grace alone for those who repent and believe.
I believe that forgiveness comes through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God's Son, who was made flesh, took our place in death, rose from the dead, and is now in glory with the Father interceding and praying for His people.
I believe that God, through His Spirit, lovingly calls, redeems and adopts us into His family, the Church and that, in gratitude for God's saving love in Christ, we are called to live a life of faithfulness and obedience according to the scriptures.
I believe that Jesus, through His Spirit, is presently directing God's work of making all things new.
I believe that the Christian Church, as the community of believers, has an obligation to protect, preserve, and enhance life as fully as possible for each person, born and unborn, from the beginning to the end of life. As Christians we are called to a life of faith into an ongoing ministry until that mission is completed by the coming of the Kingdom in its fullness. The Holy Spirit empowers us to fulfill that calling.
I, along with all followers of Christ, believe and wait expectantly for the triumphant return of Jesus Christ our King. At that time, I believe that Jesus Christ will gather us to Himself as one complete family and will, throughout eternity, fully enhance the lives of His children as citizens of His kingdom, sons and daughters in our Father's house. As His children we long hopefully for that day to appear and we face that day without fear, for the Judge is our Savior and Lord. To Him be the glory.
Approved: September 15, 1987 Bethany Christian Services National Board
Revised & Approved: July 15, 2003 Bethany Christian Services National Board
Revised & Approved: January 18, 2005 Bethany Christian Services National Board
© 2005 Bethany Christian Services Privacy Statement
Bethany adoption policy scrutinized
Choose Life examines agency's refusal to weigh applications by Catholics
By Jean Gordon
The organization that parcels out proceeds raised from the sale of the state's Choose Life car tags has asked to review the policy of a private adoption agency after learning the group will not consider Catholics as adoptive parents.
"We are receiving information from Bethany for our board," said Geraldine Gray of Choose Life Mississippi. "We'll look at the information they forward to us to get a clearer understanding."
A local Catholic couple was told in a July 8 letter from the Jackson office of Bethany Christian Services in Mississippi that, "It has been our understanding that Catholicism does not agree with our statement of faith. ... Our practice to not accept applications from Catholics was an effort to be good stewards of an adoptive applicant's time, money and emotional energy."
Jackson, Hattiesburg and Columbus are among 75 U.S. cities in which Bethany is located. The agency, which is based in Grand Rapids, Mich., is one of 24 adoption and pregnancy counseling centers in the state that receives money from the sale of the specialty car tags, which advocate against abortion.
Of the $244,000 generated by the sale of the license plates in 2004, Bethany received $7,053. The agency did not return a phone call.
Motorists pay an additional fee of $31 for the specialized car tag.
Though the fee passes through state coffers, it is considered a private donation, said Kathy Waterbury of the Mississippi Tax Commission.
"They aren't public funds in that we are collecting money on behalf of the organization the tag represents," she said.
Nick Feduccia, a 23-year-old Catholic student, purchased his first Choose Life car tag in May. He said he was unaware proceeds would be given to a charity that would exclude a certain faith.
"I'm pro-life, and every child needs a good home," he said. "It's very disturbing to me that they would exclude people who believe what they believe."
The state issues 185 specialty license plates, which benefit organizations ranging from wildlife groups to Mississippi's colleges and universities.
Proceeds from the sale of Choose Life car tags go to the nonprofit organization Choose Life Mississippi. That agency then distributes funds to nonprofit organizations that have applied to receive a portion of the money.
Gray said any anti-abortion organization can apply for the funds by downloading a form from the group's Web site, www. mschoose-life.org.
The two-page application asks applicants to describe how they work with women who come in for pregnancy tests, how many women they refer for adoption and to verify the organization's nonprofit status.
"We've never denied anyone who applied," Gray said, explaining Choose Life Mississippi aims to support organizations that don't refer women to abortion providers. "What we're interested in is saving babies."
Choose Life Mississippi also supports the Morning Star Pregnancy Care Center located in Gulfport, an adoption and pregnancy resource center affiliated with the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi.
That agency received $9,306 in 2004 from the sale of Choose Life car tags.
As one of the programs of Catholic Social and Community Services, Morning Star doesn't discriminate in any of its services, said its director, Sister Rebecca Rutkowski.
"Catholic and Community Services is open to all faiths, Christian and non-Christian alike," Rutkowski said.
However, Rutkowski said the agency will honor a birth mother's decision if she specifies a particular religion for the adoptive parents.
Catholic Charities in Jackson, which runs an adoption program, also works with people of all faiths.
"Faith is not a criteria for being served by Catholic Charities' programs," said executive director Linda Raff.
Catholic Charities does not receive money from Choose Life Mississippi, but Raff said she will consider applying for the funds.
The sanctity of life is a major part of Catholic teaching, and many Catholics rally around pro-life causes.
"We have every need to support life in all of its forms," said the Rev. Alfred Camp, senior priest at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Madison. "From conception to going through the aging process."
Camp, whose car also sports a Choose Life license plate, said misconceptions about Catholicism obscure what all Christians share in common.
"The term Christian is for those who believe in Christ," he said. "That's the unifying element. Christ is the center of our faith." Estimates put the number of Catholics in the state between 70,000 and 116,000.
Rep. Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, who voted for the bill authorizing the Choose Life license plates, said he is "troubled" by Bethany's practice of not considering Catholics as adoptive parents. "I understand they are a private organization and we can't dictate who they let adopt," Fillingane said. "But I think it would be in their best interest to reconsider and repeal that exemption."
Adoption agency drops Catholic ban
Christian firm: View too narrow
By Jean Gordon
Brian Albert Broom/The Clarion-Ledger
Hoping to start a family, Sandy and Robert Stedman of Jackson said they were denied a chance at adoption through Bethany Christian Services in Mississippi because they are Catholic. The board unanimously voted to change its policy.
After being criticized for excluding Roman Catholics as adoptive parents, the board of Bethany Christian Services in Mississippi has voted unanimously to include Catholic families in adoption programs.
"In accepting applications for adoption, all Christians who are in agreement with our agency statement of faith are welcome applicants to the adoption process," wrote Bethany state director Karen Stewart and board president Peggy McKey in a statement Wednesday. "Bethany Christian Services of Mississippi regrets any pain caused to families, especially to our Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ."
The agency had not accepted Catholics as adoptive parents because it said Catholicism did not agree with its statement of faith. A Jackson couple, after being told they could not adopt, brought the issue to the forefront.
A private adoption agency, Bethany Christian Services has locations in 75 U.S. cities, including Jackson, Hattiesburg and Columbus. Bethany Christian Services in Mississippi, which began operating in the 1980s, places an average of 20 babies a year, Stewart said.
The agency will continue to stand on its faith, but "We realize that we took too narrow a view in assessing adoptive applicants," the statement said.
Bethany's national office in Grand Rapids, Mich., also issued a statement Wednesday affirming, "All families in agreement with the agency's Statement of Faith, including Catholic families, are eligible to adopt."
Bethany Christian Services is among the 24 adoption and pregnancy counseling centers in the state that receive money from the sale of Choose Life specialty car tag. The tag advocates against abortion.
Of the $244,000 generated by the sale of the license plates in 2004, Bethany received $7,053. Geraldine Gray of Choose Life Mississippi, the nonprofit agency that parcels out the proceeds from the sale of the tag, said her organization is pleased with Bethany's decision.
"It certainly seems the fair thing to do," she said.
After hearing the news, Sandy Stedman of Jackson said, "I really think God had his hand in this."
Stedman and her husband, Robert, a Catholic couple wishing to adopt, inquired about Bethany's policy earlier this month seeking clarification because they heard the agency was not inclusive. A Ridgeland couple has said they were rejected for the same reason last year.
In a letter from Stewart, they were told: "It has been our understanding that Catholicism does not agree with our statement of faith. ... Our practice to not accept applications from Catholics was an effort to be good stewards of an adoptive applicant's time, money and emotional energy."
Stedman said Bethany's change in policy is "a true testament to Christians working together to resolve an issue peacefully."
The numbers of Catholics seeking to adopt who have been turned away was unavailable. McKey said the agency's past policy of excluding Catholic parents was "unintentional on our part" as Bethany had assumed Catholic Charities gave preference to Catholic couples seeking to adopt.
But Catholic Charities of Jackson is an ecumenical organization that historically has served people of all faiths, said the Rev. Elvin Sunds, who directed the organization from 1978 to 1994 and is now vicar general for the Catholic Diocese of Jackson.
Between 40 to 50 couples apply to adopt annually at Bethany Christian Services in Mississippi. The wait time for a domestic adoption ranges from one to three years. The cost is on a sliding scale, from $6,000 to $17,000.
Stewart said there is no "typical birth mother" as Bethany Christian Services counsels women in Mississippi from age 11 to their early 40s. She said the women come from all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Most women who choose adoption are 18 to 24 years old
AgapePress) - The official retreat center for the Southeast Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church is taking heat for its plans to host a convocation put on by major pro-homosexual caucus groups within Methodism.
The Labor Day weekend conference at Lake Junaluska in North Carolina will focus on how to lobby to overturn the church's teachings on marriage and sex, and lobby for the acceptance of same-sex "marriage" and practicing homosexual clergy. Called "Hearts of Fire," the conference is being organized by the pro-homosexual Methodist group Reconciling Congregations. According to that group's website, one forum will "explore the development of transgender and gender queer spirituality" as well as the "sources of gendering." Participants are encouraged to "come with a robust interest in all things gender, whether or not they themselves are gender non-normative."
Mark Tooley directs the United Methodist Action program at the Institute on Religion and Democracy in Washington, DC. He believes Lake Junaluska should not be renting the facility to Reconciling Congregations, which he describes as of the UMC's most vocal critics on marriage and sexual ethics.
"Obviously this is very disturbing to a lot of United Methodists, in that Lake Junaluska is owned by what is probably the most conservative and most theologically orthodox part of the church," Tooley observes. He says Lake Junaluska itself has its own internal standards that say it will not rent a facility to groups that do not support basic church teachings.
"It seems highly inappropriate to rent those facilities for a rally for same-sex 'marriage,' homosexual clergy, and various exotic forms of sexual expression," he adds.
But Joetta Rinehart, a spokeswomen for the retreat and convention center, says she believes the mission of Reconciling Congregations is compatible with the denomination's Book of Discipline. That book of law for the UMC affirms God's love for homosexuals, but calls homosexual practice "incompatible with Christian teaching."
The IRD spokesman supposes that should a group from the gaming or tobacco-growing industry wish to rent the facility, it would be turned away in deference to the UMC's beliefs regarding gambling and smoking. "But for some reason," he notes, "opposition to the United Methodist teachings on one of the foremost issues confronting our culture today -- the definition of marriage -- did not disqualify [this] event."
Tooley is urging United Methodists -- especially those in the Southeast -- to express their displeasure with the retreat center.
"I would challenge Lake Junaluska to remain faithful to the church of which it is a central part, to carry out and be faithful to its own internal standards, and not to rent its facility to a group that is dramatically and very publicly opposed to the church's teachings on issues that are very important to both the Church and society right now," he says.
Among the seven liberal bishops scheduled to speak at the event is Joe Sprague of Illinois, who has publicly denied the virgin birth, blood atonement, and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Also expected to speak is Beth Stroud, an openly lesbian Methodist minister from Philadelphia who was recently defrocked. Musical entertainment on the last evening of the four-day rally is to be provided by Jason & deMarco, two "spirit pop artists" who were featured in a July 2004 homosexual magazine article entitled "Singing for God and Gays."
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