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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Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Nabil Kukali, director and founder of the Palestinian Centre for Palestinian Opinion explains to AsiaNews the reasons for Hamas’ victory and Palestinian voting dynamics.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) -- “Hamas will enter into the peace process because there’s no other choice”. The Palestinian people voted for Hamas to punish Fatah for its foolishness and errors. But the people, at least 78%, want peace with Israel and improved economic conditions. Hamas cannot ignore the people’s will.” This in the words of Nabil Kukali, director and founder of the Palestinian Centre for Palestine Opinion, which has been studying Palestinian public opinion since 1994. Kukali, a Christian, is also a professor at Hebron University, in one of the most heated areas of the West Bank and what is held to be a Hamas stronghold.
Professor Kukali is about to release a survey on the reasons for the Palestinian vote, following Hamas’ victory in parliamentary elections. Survey results show that if Hamas wants to maintain popular support, it must change tactics and program. “As long as Hamas was not in power, it could ‘resist’, but if it takes on government it can’t enter into dialogue and ‘resist’ at the same time.”
As for the worries expressed by Christians and moderate Muslims that the legislature might go off on a fundamentalist tangent, Prof Kukali is straightforward. “We Christians have lived here since the time of Christ and they cannot throw us out. We shall see how things evolve over the next few months. But I think the main perception among Palestinians is that we are a single people, Muslims and Christians, Hamas and Fatah supporters.”
Here is his full interview with AsiaNews:
Professor Kukali, how do you see the situation after Hamas’ election victory?
Allow me to say first of all that the elections were a victory for democracy. It is an important step toward Palestine becoming a modern state in all respects. The important thing is to maintain this course. We are set to become the first democratic state in the Arab Middle East after Lebanon and Iraq.
What are your views on the international community’s worries vis-à-vis Hamas?
Hamas represents a new starting point. On local television yesterday, I saw a Hamas member who stated: “it is not a sin to shake the hand of an Israeli, even if he’s an Israeli soldier.” There are a few signs of change. If you’re out of the government, you can do whatever you want. If you’ve been elected and have to set up a government, it’s another story. To judge Hamas in government, we will have to see who becomes Prime Minister. For the moment, there is a lot of discussion within Hamas among differing positions.
Do Palestianians support Hamas’ struggle?
Hamas won in Palestine for two basic reasons. First, they were fed up with Fatah and its corruption, and wanted a change. Secondly, because the majority of the Palestinian population – at least 78% according to our data – wants peace with Israel and wants economic improvement. The choice was between Fatah and Hamas. Palestinians chose Hamas to punish Fatah, in power since 1994, for its foolishness and errors.
The Palestinian population’s agenda differs from Hamas’. The people want to negotiate with Israel and we must hold on to the aid coming from the international community and keep moving along the road map set out by the Quartet. As long as Hamas was not in government, it could “resist”, but if it goes to government, it can’t enter into dialogue and “resist” at the same time.
My impression is that Hamas will enter into the peace process because there’s no other choice. If Hamas refuses, what happens? Israel would continue to build its wall, isolating Palestinians. In the meantime, the international community, the European Union and the U.S. would cut off aid and disaster would ensue. Hamas is intelligent and will understand.
After all, Palestine is going through want Israel did in 1976, when Labour lost power to Likkud. People have been frustrated for too long, but this doesn’t mean that they don’t want peace with Israel or that they take no interest in the country’s economy or aid, or that Hamas’ agenda is good. Elections results only mean that people wanted to challenge Fatah.
Are there any signs of change in Hamas?
There’s a change in attitude. And once Hamas is in government, it will change even more. Hamas needs dialogue with Israel and can’t delegate this task to anyone else. People no longer want as leader someone from Fatah. At the same time, all that people really want is peace with Israel, so that economic conditions improve. If Hamas betrays this expectation, the government risks falling and we would go to new elections.
Various Palestinians, both Christians and Muslims, fear an increase in Islamic fundamentalism and laws inspired by Sharia…
Palestine already has its laws and it’s not easy for Hamas to change them. I am Christian and among the few who work at the university in Hebron, where Hamas is very strong. But I have no problems whatsoever. We Christians have lived here since the times of Christ and they can’t throw us out. We shall see how things evolve over the next few months. But I think that the main perception among Palestinians is that we are a single people, Muslims and Christians, Hamas and Fatah supporters.
Of course, Christians must be helped to stay in this land and to avoid emigrating: you Christians in the West should help us by supporting religious tourism and pilgrimages. Once, we Christians were 15% of the population; today we are 1.5%. We need contacts that help the Palestinian economy of Christians to find new markets and to improve and sustain our existence. We shall see how things evolve. For now there are 6 or 7 Christian members in the Palestinian parliament.
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The primacy of charity and its most privileged witnesses, in other words the saints, provided the central theme of the Pope's reflections on Monday morning, before praying the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.
Benedict XVI referred to his first Encyclical, Deus caritas est, published last Wednesday, January 25, saying that saints "have all made of their lives, though with a thousand differing shades, a hymn to the God of Love." He particularly recalled those saints whose feast days are commemorated over this period and "who are very different from one another: the Apostle Paul with the disciples Timothy and Titus... belong to the very roots of the Church, missionaries of the first evangelization. Thomas Aquinas, from the Middle Ages, is the model of a Catholic theologian who found Christ in the supreme synthesis of truth and love. Angela Merici, in the period of the Renaissance, proposed a way of sanctity for those who live in the lay state. In the modern age, we have John Bosco who, enflamed by the charity of Jesus the Good Shepherd, cared for disadvantaged children."
"In truth," he continued, "the entire history of the Church is a history of sanctity, animated by the one Love which has its source in God. Indeed, only supernatural charity, such as that which flows ever new from the heart of Christ, can explain the prodigious flowering over the centuries of religious orders and institutes both male and female, as well as other forms of consecrated life. These men and women, whom the Spirit of Christ has formed as models of evangelical devotion, lead us to consider the importance of consecrated life as an expression, and a school, of charity."
The Pope closed his comments by recalling how "on February 2, Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, the Church celebrates the Day of Consecrated Life. On that afternoon, as John Paul II used to like to do, I will preside at Mass in the Vatican Basilica. Together we will give thanks to God for the gift of consecrated life and pray that it may continue in the world as an eloquent sign of His merciful love."
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VATICAN CITY, JAN 31, 2006 (VIS) - Made public today was The Message of Benedict XVI for Lent 2006. The text, dated September 29, 2005, has as its title a verse taken from the Gospel of St. Mark: "Jesus, at the sight of the crowds, was moved with pity." The full English-language version of the document is given below:
"Lent is a privileged time of interior pilgrimage towards Him Who is the fount of mercy. It is a pilgrimage in which He Himself accompanies us through the desert of our poverty, sustaining us on our way towards the intense joy of Easter.
"Even in the 'valley of darkness' of which the Psalmist speaks, while the tempter prompts us to despair or to place a vain hope in the work of our own hands, God is there to guard us and sustain us. Yes, even today the Lord hears the cry of the multitudes longing for joy, peace, and love. As in every age, they feel abandoned. Yet, even in the desolation of misery, loneliness, violence and hunger that indiscriminately afflict children, adults, and the elderly, God does not allow darkness to prevail.
"In fact, in the words of my beloved Predecessor, Pope John Paul II, there is a 'divine limit imposed upon evil,' namely, mercy. It is with these thoughts in mind that I have chosen as my theme for this Message the Gospel text: 'Jesus, at the sight of the crowds, was moved with pity.'
"In this light, I would like to pause and reflect upon an issue much debated today: the question of development. Even now, the compassionate 'gaze' of Christ continues to fall upon individuals and peoples. He watches them, knowing that the divine 'plan' includes their call to salvation. Jesus knows the perils that put this plan at risk, and He is moved with pity for the crowds. He chooses to defend them from the wolves even at the cost of His own life. The gaze of Jesus embraces individuals and multitudes, and He brings them all before the Father, offering Himself as a sacrifice of expiation.
"Enlightened by this Paschal truth, the Church knows that if we are to promote development in its fullness, our own 'gaze' upon mankind has to be measured against that of Christ. In fact, it is quite impossible to separate the response to people's material and social needs from the fulfillment of the profound desires of their hearts. This has to be emphasized all the more in today's rapidly changing world, in which our responsibility towards the poor emerges with ever greater clarity and urgency. My venerable predecessor, Pope Paul VI, accurately described the scandal of underdevelopment as an outrage against humanity. In this sense, in the Encyclical 'Populorum Progressio,' he denounced 'the lack of material necessities for those who are without the minimum essential for life, the moral deficiencies of those who are mutilated by selfishness' and 'oppressive social structures, whether due to the abuses of ownership or to the abuses of power, to the exploitation of workers or to unjust transactions.'
"As the antidote to such evil, Paul VI suggested not only 'increased esteem for the dignity of others, the turning towards the spirit of poverty, cooperation for the common good, the will and desire for peace,' but also 'the acknowledgement by man of supreme values, and of God, their source and their finality'
"In this vein, the Pope went on to propose that, finally and above all, there is 'faith, a gift of God accepted by the good will of man, and unity in the charity of Christ.' Thus, the 'gaze' of Christ upon the crowd impels us to affirm the true content of this 'complete humanism' that, according to Paul VI, consists in the 'fully-rounded development of the whole man and of all men.' For this reason, the primary contribution that the Church offers to the development of mankind and peoples does not consist merely in material means or technical solutions. Rather, it involves the proclamation of the truth of Christ, Who educates consciences and teaches the authentic dignity of the person and of work; it means the promotion of a culture that truly responds to all the questions of humanity.
"In the face of the terrible challenge of poverty afflicting so much of the world's population, indifference and self-centered isolation stand in stark contrast to the 'gaze' of Christ. Fasting and almsgiving, which, together with prayer, the Church proposes in a special way during the Lenten Season, are suitable means for us to become conformed to this 'gaze.' The examples of the saints and the long history of the Church's missionary activity provide invaluable indications of the most effective ways to support development.
"Even in this era of global interdependence, it is clear that no economic, social, or political project can replace that gift of self to another through which charity is expressed. Those who act according to the logic of the Gospel live the faith as friendship with God Incarnate and, like Him, bear the burden of the material and spiritual needs of their neighbors. They see it as an inexhaustible mystery, worthy of infinite care and attention. They know that he who does not give God gives too little; as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta frequently observed, the worst poverty is not to know Christ. Therefore, we must help others to find God in the merciful face of Christ. Without this perspective, civilization lacks a solid foundation.
"Thanks to men and women obedient to the Holy Spirit, many forms of charitable work intended to promote development have arisen in the Church: hospitals, universities, professional formation schools, and small businesses. Such initiatives demonstrate the genuine humanitarian concern of those moved by the Gospel message, far in advance of other forms of social welfare. These charitable activities point out the way to achieve a globalization that is focused upon the true good of mankind and, hence, the path towards authentic peace.
"Moved like Jesus with compassion for the crowds, the Church today considers it her duty to ask political leaders and those with economic and financial power to promote development based on respect for the dignity of every man and woman. An important litmus test for the success of their efforts is religious liberty, understood not simply as the freedom to proclaim and celebrate Christ, but also the opportunity to contribute to the building of a world enlivened by charity. These efforts have to include a recognition of the central role of authentic religious values in responding to man's deepest concerns, and in supplying the ethical motivation for his personal and social responsibilities. These are the criteria by which Christians should assess the political programs of their leaders.
"We cannot ignore the fact that many mistakes have been made in the course of history by those who claimed to be disciples of Jesus. Very often, when having to address grave problems, they have thought that they should first improve this world and only afterwards turn their minds to the next. The temptation was to believe that, in the face of urgent needs, the first imperative was to change external structures. The consequence, for some, was that Christianity became a kind of moralism, 'believing' was replaced with 'doing.' Rightly, therefore, my Predecessor, Pope John Paul II, of blessed memory, observed: 'The temptation today is to reduce Christianity to merely human wisdom, a pseudo-science of well-being. In our heavily secularized world, a gradual secularization of salvation has taken place, so that people strive for the good of man, but man who is truncated.We know, however, that Jesus came to bring integral salvation.'
"It is this integral salvation that Lent puts before us, pointing towards the victory of Christ over every evil that oppresses us. In turning to the Divine Master, in being converted to Him, in experiencing His mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we will discover a 'gaze' that searches us profoundly and gives new life to the crowds and to each one of us. It restores trust to those who do not succumb to skepticism, opening up before them the perspective of eternal beatitude. Throughout history, even when hate seems to prevail, the luminous testimony of His love is never lacking. To Mary, 'the living fount of hope,' we entrust our Lenten journey, so that she may lead us to her Son. I commend to her in particular the multitudes who suffer poverty and cry out for help, support, and understanding. With these sentiments, I cordially impart to all of you a special Apostolic Blessing."
MESS/LENT 2006/... VIS 060131 (1440)
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New York, Jan. 31, 2006 (CNA) - The Catholic League is urging New Hampshire state legislators to reject a bill that would remove the priest-penitent privilege that has traditionally been granted by legislators and mandate all members of the clergy to report instances of suspected child abuse to the authorities.
House Bill 1127 is sponsored by Representative Mary Stuart Gile. A similar bill had been proposed in January 2003, but it was not passed.
"The priest-penitent privilege has been honored by the courts for over 200 years,” said Catholic League president Bill Donohue. “The Sacrament of Reconciliation is conditioned on confidentiality, much like lawyer-client, doctor-patient, reporter-source relationships.”
“Neither Rep. Gile, nor anyone else, has one scintilla of evidence suggesting that child abuse would decrease if what is heard in the confessional were made public,” he stated, adding that the bill was flawed in three ways.
“It is an unconstitutional encroachment by the state on religion; it is based on the superstition that child molesters are going free because priests are shielding them from the authorities, and; it is premised on the fatuous notion that priests would violate the seal of the confessional before ever going to prison,” he said.
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My wife was put on birth control because she has a hormonal problem. The doctor said she would be at risk for cancer if she was taken off the birth control. Does this go against the Catholic Church’s teaching and is it a sin because it still works as a birth control? Thank you for listening.
Dear Mr. Lucas,
Peace in Christ!
When Pope Paul VI wrote his encyclical Humane Vitae to teach about contraception, he included exceptional circumstances. Paragraph 15 refers to the question of “therapeutic means.” The Holy Father wrote:
“But the Church in no way regards as unlawful therapeutic means considered necessary to cure organic diseases, even though they also have a contraceptive effect, and this is foreseen — provided that this contraceptive effect is not directly intended for any motive whatsoever.”
The Pope is using a principle of moral reasoning called the “principle of double effect.” The principle of double effect applies when one performs an act, intending to bring about a good end, but a foreseen, unintended evil side-effect will result. Further, the good end intended must be proportionately equal or greater than the unintended evil side-effect. So you have a “double effect” resulting from an act — one good and one evil. The act that is the means to achieve the good end must not be, in itself, evil. One cannot do an intrinsically evil act under any circumstances and justify it on the basis that it has a good result. One may not do evil that good may come.
With the treatment of your wife’s “hormonal problem”, in light of the directive of Humane Vitae, the end intended is the relief of a condition. An unintended, but foreseen, consequence is the contraceptive effect, i.e., a potential conception is prevented.
In light of the principle of double effect and applying the teaching of Humane Vitae, it could be morally licit to use a contraceptive to treat the condition. The treatment of the illness could be proportionate to the unintended contraceptive side-effect.
There is one very important aspect to consider. One must ask if the contraceptive is also an abortifacient. If a conception is possible, the potential abortion of a human embryo is an evil side-effect that, many Catholic moralists hold, is not rightly proportionate to the good end intended. The pill in its common form is known to be abortifacient, so one must consider it, not merely a contraceptive, but also an abortifacient. There are other Catholic moralists who hold that because a resulting abortion is only potential and indirect (direct abortions are never morally permissible), using contraceptives with abortifacient properties legitimately falls under double effect and would, hence, be permissible.
There are a couple of institutions that specialize in just these sort of issues and exercise complete fidelity to the Magisterium in their work and research:
The Pope Paul VI Institute
6901 Mercy Road
Omaha, NE 68106-2604
The Couple to Couple League
PO Box 111184
Cincinnati, OH 45211-1184
Both of these fine organizations have years of experience. Each work closely with numerous medical professionals. That is to say, both of these organizations are sound on both moral and medical grounds. It could be that they are aware of medically sound alternatives to treat your wife’s condition. In addition to the contraceptive/abortifacient properties, the pill has potentially adverse side-effects that might be avoided by other means. It is often the case that other possible treatments are not offered, either because the doctor is not aware of them (they don’t teach everything in medical school) or because it is simply easier to distribute the pill.
United in the Faith,
Catholics United for the Faith
827 North Fourth Street
Steubenville, OH 43952
- Editor's Note: To submit a faith question to Catholic Exchange, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that all email submitted to Catholic Exchange becomes the property of Catholic Exchange and may be published in this space. Published letters may be edited for length and clarity. Names and cities of letter writers may also be published. Email addresses of viewers will not normally be published.
- Pope: the development of all of man and all men in his Message for Lent
- Indifference to poor, self-centered isolation stand in marked contrast to ‘gaze of Christ’, says Pope
- Saint Pius X Fraternity seeks to regularize its canonical status and outlines detailed plan
- Alito confirmed giving high court 1st Catholic majority, impact yet remains unclear
- 'Bernadette' star promotes film's sequel as it debuts in U.S.
- 3 young women live out the reality, share the joy of contemplative life
- Cardinal apologizes to Chicago parishioners
- Benedict XVI Focuses on Jesus' Gaze - Says It "Embraces Individuals and Multitudes"
- How to Understand Purification - And More on Moms and First Communion
Monday, January 30, 2006
"For more than a few of the faithful," he said, "ecclesiastical sentences in this area, in fact, have an impact on the possibility or not of receiving Communion."
Pope Benedict met Jan. 28 with members of the Roman Rota, a church court dealing mainly with marriage cases.
A tribunal declaration that a marriage was invalid would allow a divorced and civilly remarried couple to have their union recognized by the church and, therefore, to receive Communion.
Pope Benedict said the reason why so many bishops at the October synod on the Eucharist raised questions about tribunals and annulment procedures was precisely because receiving the Eucharist is so important.
At times, the pope said, it can appear that pastoral concern for people in irregular marriage situations clashes head-on with the church's insistence that matrimony is forever and that annulments may be granted only when there is clear proof that the conditions for a valid marriage did not exist from the beginning.
"The fundamental point of encounter between law and pastoral concern," the pope said, is "love for the truth."
The pastoral value of an annulment "cannot be separated from love for the truth," he said.
The purpose of an annulment procedure "is not to uselessly complicate the lives of the faithful nor even less to exacerbate litigiousness, but only to serve the truth," Pope Benedict said.
The pope also said a husband and wife who have separated cannot self-declare their marriage invalid because marriage is a sacrament of the church and a good for society.
Reason dictates that an impartial third party be asked to examine the facts and make a judgment, he said.
At the same time, the search for truth in a marriage case is very concrete and has a deep impact on the individuals involved, the pope said. Because it touches both their human and Christian development, "it is very important that the declaration arrive in a reasonable amount of time," the pope said.
Pope Benedict said it also was very important that the church's pastoral approach to couples be evident long before any troubles arise. From the moment a couple requests to be married in a Catholic Church, priests must work to ensure that the couple understands the meaning of the sacrament of matrimony, he said.
And at the first sign of trouble between a husband and wife, he said, they must be offered assistance in resolving their differences and finding "the path of reconciliation."
- Copyright (c) 2006 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
On Friday morning, the Pope received the president and leaders of ACLI, the Christian Associations of Italian Workers, which is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its foundation.
In his address to them, the Pope recalled the three "directives" the association is historically committed to put into effect. The first of these, he said, is "faithfulness to workers," affirming in this context how the Magisterium has always highlighted the human dimension of work, without overlooking "the commandment of rest. To insist, then, that Sunday does not become like all the other days of the week, is to take a stand in favor of civilization."
The Holy Father went on: "From the primacy of the ethical dimension of human work arise other priorities: that of man over work, of work over capital, of the universal destination of wealth over the right to private property; in brief, the priority of being over having."
Benedict XVI highlighted how, in our time, science and technology "present huge possibilities for improving everyone's lives," but warned that "the misguided use of such power can provoke grave and irreparable threats to the future of life itself."
"The defense of life - from conception to natural end — wherever it is threatened, offended or trampled underfoot, is the primary duty of an authentic ethic of responsibility, and this may be coherently extended to all other forms of poverty, injustice and exclusion," he said.
The Pope then identified "faithfulness to democracy" as the second directive. "It alone can guarantee equality of rights for all. Justice is the testing ground of true democracy. That said, it should not be forgotten that the search for truth constitutes the essential condition for a real, not merely an apparent, democracy. 'As history demonstrates, a democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism'."
The association's third directive, said the Holy Father, is "faithfulness to the Church. Only a willing and passionate adherence to the [Church] can guarantee the identity necessary to ensure a presence in all areas of society and the world, without losing the flavor and fragrance of the Gospel."
"As lay people and associated Christian workers," the Pope concluded, "always take care over the formation of your members and leaders, with a view to the special service to which you are called. Remain courageously present in all crucial areas of social life."
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This is the fourth part of a four part series about Mother Angelica. For the rest of the article, click the following links for Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.
Suffering With God
In my day spent at EWTN, I began to see that Mother Angelica’s spirituality goes much deeper than the externals that had tripped me up.
I heard it first from Samuel F. Carnley in accounting when I asked him about the legend that EWTN refuses to use a budget. He didn’t answer directly but noted that the accounting he does is “not a bottom-line approach.” What other kind of accounting is there? “We operate on a model of stewardship,” he said. “We count on the donors to answer God’s call.”
Deacon Steltemeier elaborated. “The Lord told Mother, ‘Get it up there and I’ll take care of the rest.’” So Mother got the signal going, and then demurred from grand fundraising schemes, telethons, and the like. She simply asked listeners to “think of us in between your light bill and your gas bill.” And they responded.
“The listeners realized that Mother loved them,” Steltemeier said. “They could see that Mother loves them. The power of the Lord’s love compels us to do what God wants us to do. That’s dynamite stuff.”
Behind the feisty demeanor, pain and suffering, obedience and faith have been the constants in Mother Angelica’s life. It’s as if at each stage of her life, God took a strange pleasure in calling her to do something big, throwing an impossible obstacle in her way, then watching her do it anyway.
When she was trying to be a little girl, He watched her lose her family. When she was trying to be a contemplative nun, He allowed her to develop a swelling condition in her knees that made it impossible to kneel and almost cost her a place in the convent. Before calling her to lead crews in building an unprecedented monastery in the deep South, God watched her lose the ability to walk in a freak accident.
When she tried to serve the Church with a worldwide cable television network that inspired countless conversions, prominent bishops tried to shut her down. And after she built her own wildly successful talk show into a media empire, God took away her ability to communicate.
The jolly nun who spoke as much with her warm grin and mischievous winks as with her frank words is now all but unable to speak.
“He expects me to operate, if I don’t have the money, if I don’t have the brains, if I don’t have the talent — in faith,” she told Arroyo. “You know what faith is? Faith is one foot on the ground, one foot in the air, and a queasy feeling in the stomach.”
Hers is a prime example of the spirituality of suffering that historians will likely use to define the Catholicism of the 20th Century, despite so many attempts by Catholics to blaze easier spiritual paths.
One thinks of the stigmatist Padre Pio, whose shrine is the most visited in the world, but whose name is rarely mentioned in homilies. Or Mother Teresa, who spent decades in spiritual darkness. St. Faustina, St. Gianna Molla, Edith Stein — what so many of these modern saints have in common is that their causes were advanced by John Paul II, the suffering pope. Like Mother Angelica, he too lost his family, then his mobility, then his speech — and left an enormous mark on the world.
People who undergo suffering on this scale are usually crushed by it. But those who accept these blows as ways to commune with God open up channels of grace capable of moving mountains.
Thus, EWTN stands as more than a monument to the charism and powers of one woman — though Mother Angelica’s charismatic powers certainly didn’t hurt.
“EWTN is God’s network,” said Warsaw.
He once asked Mother what her legacy would be. She didn’t mention the number of TV households, the facilities, the radio signals that span the globe, or any of the rest of it. She didn’t mention the conversions people attribute to her work, or the enormous shrine that rises like Assisi’s cathedral in the middle of a Hanceville, Alabama, field. Her legacy? “That all we did in all of this was rely on the Lord’s providence.”
“You want to do something for the Lord?” Mother once asked. “Do it. Whatever you feel needs to be done, even though you’re shaking in your boots, you’re scared to death — take the first step forward. The grace comes with that one step and you get the grace as you step. Being afraid is not a problem; it’s doing nothing when you’re afraid.”
Deacon Steltemeier described her life now. “She prays and suffers for the Church and for the world and for EWTN. That’s all she does. And she’s happy. If you see her you just melt with joy. She’s prayerful, childlike, loving.”
Then he left me with one caution about my article.
“Don’t just talk about the suffering,” he said. “Talk about love. It’s love that bears fruit.”
Tom Hoopes is executive editor of the National Catholic Register, and, with his wife April, editorial director of Faith & Family magazine.
- (This article is courtesy of Crisis Magazine. This data file is the sole property of of the copyright holder, Crisis Magazine.)
The New Hampshire state legislature is currently considering a bill (House Bill 1127) sponsored by Representative Mary Stuart Gile that would mandate all members of the clergy to report instances of suspected child abuse to the authorities, allowing of no exceptions. The bill seeks to remove the priest-penitent privilege that has traditionally been granted by legislators.
Catholic League president William Donohue wrote to New Hampshire lawmakers who serve on the Children and Family Law Committee urging them to reject this initiative. He spoke to this issue today:
“In January 2003, the Catholic League publicly protested a proposed New Hampshire bill designed to break the seal of the confessional—all under the guise of protecting young people. The bill eventually lost. But now the same person who sponsored that bill is back, Mary Gile, thus assuring round two. She seems not to know when to quit.
“Gile’s bill is flawed in three ways: (a) it is an unconstitutional encroachment by the state on religion (b) it is based on the superstition that child molesters are going free because priests are shielding them from the authorities, and (c) it is premised on the fatuous notion that priests would violate the seal of the confessional before ever going to prison.
"The priest-penitent privilege has been honored by the courts for over 200 years. Neither Rep. Gile, nor anyone else, has one scintilla of evidence suggesting that child abuse would decrease if what is heard in the confessional were made public. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is conditioned on confidentiality, much like lawyer-client, doctor-patient, reporter-source relationships. For all these reasons, Gile’s bill is a loser, and should be shot down again.”
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KOCHI, India (UCAN) -- The triennial meeting of India's major Religious superiors began on Jan. 27 with their leader urging the Catholic Church to end its "double speak" on gender justice.
The Church understands the need for gender justice, but does not know how to insure it, Montfort Brother Varghese Theckanath told the national assembly of the Conference of Religious India (CRI), of which he is national president.
"Gender-sensitive Church" is the theme of the five-day program at Kochi, southern India. Some 575 major superiors representing 125,000 Catholic men and women Religious in the country are attending the event.
"As far as gender justice in the Church is concerned, the die is cast. But dilemmas remain, bordering on double speak," Brother Theckanath remarked in his keynote address. The Catholic Church remains "one of the most patriarchal of institutions," he said, despite "profound, egalitarian and nondiscriminative" responses and statements from the hierarchy.
The 48-year-old Religious described the assembly theme as "timely, Spirit-inspired, prophetic and future-oriented" with its focus on bridging "the gaps" between the vision and practices in the Church.
Gender justice within the Church and society would help end discrimination against women, he acknowledged. But it also would help the Church to become collaborative and to "discover the relational character of humanity, affirm unity in diversity and connect all to the whole of creation." He cited liberation, inclusion and celebration as the marks of a collaborative Church.
"We are looking forward to an ideal situation where we can create a level playing field for women as much as for men through policies to redistribute resources -- both material and spiritual -- responsibilities and rights in all spheres of social life," said Brother Theckanath, superior of his Montfort Brothers' Hyderabad province.
He said women continue to be denied access to decision-making in the Church even after repeated discussions on this.
As an example of "double speak" on gender justice in the Church, he cited the late Pope John Paul II's "Pastor Bonus" (good shepherd), the 1988 apostolic constitution on the reorganization of the Roman Curia. According to Brother Theckanath, the document categorically states that "matters requiring the exercise of power of governance be reserved to those in Holy Orders." Even official recognition of minor orders such as lectors and acolytes has been banned for women, the brother noted, adding that this "shows where we stand."
He charged that the Church uses the biblical imagery of the bride and bridegroom to justify an unequal relationship between men and women in the Church. "We must admit that there cannot be a participatory Church with gender justice as long as the Church retains the assumption that female humanity is ontologically different and secondary to male humanity," he asserted.
Brother Theckanath charged that families, schools and religious formation houses perpetuate gender discrimination and "inculturation of patriarchal values," which in turn block "meaningful collaboration." He challenged the Religious superiors to use their network of schools and formation houses to change the cultural stereotyping of women.
He called on women Religious to lead the campaign to change the misconceptions about women through a theological and political agenda. This will lead to a more gender-sensitive Church, he added.
Many participants told UCA News that setting such an agenda in the Church is tough, but they expressed their happiness over identifying the problems.
Father George Patteri, superior of the Jesuits' Kolkata province in eastern India, told UCA News the assembly would help Religious broaden their perceptions about gender justice. While admitting that it is not possible to change the Church "overnight," he sees hope because the Church realizes it has a problem of "gender justice" and must involve women more in decision-making.
Sister Roshni, provincial of the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary, maintained that "meaningful collaboration of men and women" would strengthen the Church. She added that women Religious are also "equally responsible" for the Church's patriarchal mindset. "Jesus showed us how to fight injustice. But we are scared to fight. We should be honest about it. Changes would come only when we force changes," she said.
Sister Elisita, assistant superior general of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, expressed optimism. "I have faith in the Church and believe that things will change. This meeting is a small step forward," she commented.
Archbishop Jacob Thoomkuzhy of Trichur, who opened the assembly, acknowledged gender equality "remains a dream within the Church and society."
Bishop George Punnakkottil of Kothamangalam, who also addressed the assembly, urged Religious to protect, guide and support women within the Church and society. "Our community will only be strengthened when we establish gender justice," he said.
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- Pope Benedict calls Saints, witnesses of charity, announces he’ll preside at Day of Consecrated Life
- Would-be First Miracle of Pope John Paul II revealed
- Russia, enthusiasm and amazement for the Pope’s Encyclical
Sunday, January 29, 2006
A reference to the encyclical "Deus caritas est" and to consecrated persons, models of dedication and love in various social realities. An appeal to international organizations to defeat leprosy and poverty. Two peace doves released from the Pope's window.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) -- Persons consecrated in poverty, chastity and obedience "are eloquent signs in the world " of God's merciful love, celebrated in the encyclical "Deus caritas est." Recalling the recently released document, Benedict XVI reaffirmed at today's Angelus "the primacy of charity in the life of Christians and in the Church", and saints as "privileged witnesses" who "have made of their existence, in thousands of different tonalities, a hymn to God-Love." The Pope cited the past week's saints from the liturgical calendar (Paul, Timothy, Titus, Angela Merici, Thomas Aquinas) and the saints mentioned in his Encyclical, who are "known mainly for their charity": John of God, Camillo de Lellis, Vincent de Paul, Louise de Marillac, Giuseppe Cottolengo, Luigi Orione, Teresa of Calcutta. In referring to them, all consecrated persons, the Pope reaffirmed "the importance of consecrated life as an expression and school of charity" and the "imitation of Christ in chastity, poverty and obedience....entirely geared to the attainment of perfect charity." To indicate to the entire Church the importance of the state of the evangelical counsels, Benedict XVI will preside Mass at Saint Peter's Basilica on February 2, Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple and World Day for Consecrated Life.
After praying the Angelus, the Pope reminded everyone of World Leprosy Day, instituted by Raoul Follereau and at its fiftieth edition today. Benedict XVI sent a greeting to "those who suffer from this illness," and encouraged "missionaries, health workers and volunteers committed to this frontier of service to man." He then added that, "Leprosy is the symptom of a worse and vaster evil, which is poverty. For this reason, in line with my Predecessors, I renew the appeal to leaders of Nations, that they may unite their forces to overcome the serious imbalances that still penalize a large part of humanity."
Greeting Polish prilgrims, the pope expressed his sorrow and closeness with the families of the victims of the Katowice disaster. Due to the weight of snow, the roof of a building, in which an exhibition was taking place, caved in, killing 65 people. "I entrust the deceased to God's mercy, " the Pontiff said, "In spirit, I join their relatives and those who were injured in the incident."
Finally, Benedict XVI greeted in Italian the young people of Rome's Catholic Action who were in Saint Peter's Square to conclude a month of studies dedicated to peace. "Dear young people! I know that you have set yourselves the task of 'training yourself towards peace', guided by the great 'trainer', who is Jesus," the Pontiff said. He also added, "For this reason, I entrust to Catholic Action the task that I proposed to everyone in my Message for January 1st: learn to always say and do the truth; in this way you will become builders of peace." In concluding his address from the window of his study, the Pope, together with a child, released two doves, symbols of peace. Benedict XVI joked when one of the two, instead of flying out into the open, took refuge inside. "The dove of peace wants to stay with the Pope," he said, "But it will find his freedom."
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During the hearings in the Senate Judiciary committee, Judge Samuel Alito exhibited a quality called "professional skepticism." He is perhaps the most perfect example of this quality who has come before the public eye in recent years, and those who teach professional skepticism could use him as a model.
The sharp contrast between Alito's cautiously studied approach to the law and the recklessly polemical methods of the Senate Democrats was highly instructive. Professional skepticism is the exact opposite of a fallacy called "jumping to conclusions" or "hasty generalizations."
The narrow partisans, metaphysical skeptics, and closet nihilists in our midst have given skepticism a bad name. However, a very special kind of studied skepticism is essential for quality work in those professions that risk coming to plausible but false conclusions. Some of the fields that require professional skepticism are law, medicine, research, investigation, quality control, safety inspection, journalism, and auditing.
Professional skepticism is a state of suspended belief--or tentative disbelief--as one patiently and systematically seeks the truth. The suspended belief is not a negative bias, but a resistance to coming to a premature conclusion. One with an open mind must not be too hasty in drawing conclusions. A conclusion is the point at which one begins to close his mind to alternative possibilities.
Suspended belief is expressed through a questioning and seeking attitude that is maintained as one wades through masses of information, interviews people, sorts and organizes facts, and weighs the evidence. All information and evidence is to be carefully weighed and scrutinized. This must be done while maintaining an open mind and a commitment to the truth.
The measure of a professional
Profession skepticism is a tricky balancing act. One must be skeptical, questioning, rational, thorough, systematic, patient, persevering, open-minded, impartial, and devoted to the truth--all at the same time. Very difficult. Thus, professional skepticism is a difficult art to master, and a quality that sets the professional off from the amateur. The degree of mastery of this art distinguishes the seasoned professional from the mediocrity.
One of the defining characteristics of mediocre judges is the lack of professional skepticism. The two swing votes on the present Supreme Court, Anthony Kennedy and Sandra Day O'Connor, are mediocrities, precisely because they have never mastered the fine art of professional skepticism. When they jump to conclusions based upon the "feel" of a case, or an exotic theory, they expose themselves as amateurs and dilettantes in the art of jurisprudence. If Alito replaces O'Connor, which seems probable, the court will become more professional, rational, and careful, and less amenable to unsound legal novelties.
The master detective
Professional skepticism is one of the recurring themes of the television show Poirot, based upon Agatha Christie's detective stories about the Belgian master detective, Hercules Poirot. After the police make up their minds about a case, Poirot is still following clues like a bloodhound. When Poirot finally solves the case, the police are invariably embarrassed. What is Poirot's secret? "I use my little grey cells" (of the brain), he says. Every step he takes in a case is a step of intellectual analysis. He does a great deal of thinking about clues and evaluating the evidence before he comes to a conclusion. In contrast, the average person tends to jump to conclusions and only then employ "the little grey cells" to rationalize and defend the conclusion.
Relatively few people seriously think before they make decisions. The pattern of human vice and folly is to make impulsive choices based upon inflated conceits about what they know and then make defensive excuses for their bad choices. Poirot is a figure of virtue and wisdom because he studiously thinks through a case from beginning to end before he draws a conclusion. He keeps his mind in a humble state about what he really knows about a case until he has solid grounds to stand upon. In order to make certain he is correct, he goes to a lot of trouble to test and prove his conclusion. Poirot understands that the world is more complex and subtle than even a seasoned observer might suggest, and the cleverest detective can be fooled if he does not put his conclusions to the test.
Poirot has a sidekick, Hastings, who invariably indulges in premature speculations. Poirot courteously listens to these perambulations with his characteristic look of skepticism, and either quashes it by pointing out a simple fact, or expresses doubt about the direction that Hastings is going. Poirot is sensitive to the delicate cross-currents of the case, while Hastings follows the most obvious clues in a straight-ahead manner, invariably skipping important steps in a rush to judgment.
Agatha Christie uses Hastings as a stage prop to give Poirot a sounding board as he reveals to the audience the wrong way to proceed in the case. This tactic highlights Poirot's investigative art, gives the audience a hint of what Poirot is up to, or mystifies the audience because he is not doing what they expect. Suspense novels by Christie will reward a second reading as one discovers all the hints that one missed the first time around and how these missed clues logically lead to the murderer.
Judicial "rope a dope"
Poirot gives a perpetual class in professional skepticism as he teaches us how to sort out the false clues from the true ones. Hastings plays the role of jumping to conclusions. His very name "Hastings" suggests haste. In the recent hearings of the Senate judiciary committee, Alito played Poirot, and instructed us in trained skepticism. The Democrats played the part of Hastings and jumped to hasty conclusions. No matter how flimsy their conclusions were, the Democrats stuck with them like bulldogs.
As Poirot used Hastings as a prop, Alito used the Democrats as a prop to display his exquisite and artful methods of finding his way through the labyrinths of the law.
Each hasty and strident question or demand by the Democrats brought forth calm, intellectual explanations of the nature of particular cases and an exposition of the bearing of statutes and precedents upon the cases. When the senators tried to lead Alito to places a judge must not go, he responded by laying out the frameworks and processes by which a judge must proceed in particular cases. He did not directly contradict the senators, but used his "little grey cells" to indirectly expose the logical fallacies or improprieties in their questions, in the off-chance hope that they might care to listen and think.
If the senators did not get the point, did not want to get the point, or tried to circumvent the true question at hand, their haste and prejudgment became evident to the television audience when Alito calmly returned them to the point. The Democrats were like a class of novice karate students who are gently disarmed by the master of the school without quite knowing what is happening to them. Some of the senators, like Joseph Biden, were tone deaf and oblivious to how bad they looked on television. Ted Kennedy, who is smarter and meaner than Biden, did a slow burn because he realized that he was playing the chump before the cameras. He could not find a way to punch his way out of the paper bag that Alito artfully dropped over him. In a rope-a-dope frenzy because he could not lay a glove on Alito, Kennedy tried to bully Arlen Specter, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, who spanked him like a bad puppy.
A class in professional skepticism could be taught by selected clips of Poirot correcting Hastings, interspersed with clips of Alito gently instructing the hasty Democrats about how a judge can and cannot proceed in the process of jurisprudence.
The empirical scientist
Professional skepticism had its origins in science and subsequently was adopted in investigation and law. Francis Bacon (1561-1626) laid the empirical foundations for modern science: The scientist must begin his research with the careful observation of objects and phenomena. Such observations must be recorded, described, measured, quantified, and classified. The recording of the observation provides a document with "evidential value," in the lingo of law and auditing. "Empirical evidence," is the preferred phrase in science, and "factual evidence" is preferred in investigation.
The scientist must evaluate the quality, or "evidential value," of the evidence. Then he may proceed to take a tiny step of inductive reasoning about what the evidence implies. Bacon warned against "flying up to sweeping generalities." He said the scientist must have "weights on his feet," rather than "wings on his feet," so that he takes one inductive step at a time, rather than jumping to conclusions. Each step must be tested and critically analyzed before the next step can be taken. The scientist must try to disprove his tentative conclusions, and if he cannot disprove them, he may proceed to the next logical test. Thus, he slowly builds an unbroken chain of induction beginning with the facts. The unbroken chain of evidence, tests, and evaluations is the exact oppose of leaping to conclusions, in which rash speculations replace the trail of facts.
Auditors are required to document all steps of observation and testing in their work papers. The "audit trail" in the work papers begins with the rationale for a test and leads to the documentation of the test and the evaluation of the evidence. Such evaluation must be traceable to the auditor's conclusions and recommendations in his report. One might trace through twenty pages of work papers while following an audit trail to its conclusion. Breaks in the documented audit trail open the auditor to the accusation of the lack of due professional care, because one cannot tell how the conclusions flow from the documented tests and the evidence.
In like manner, critiques in peer-reviewed journals of scientific research sometimes question whether the researcher's conclusions are supported by the facts presented in his research. Journals of law review contain similar criticisms of hasty conclusions drawn in judicial rulings.
Speculation about future cases
Judge Alito refused to speculate about what his conclusions might be in cases yet to come before him. Every case has its own fact pattern, its own evidence, and often a unique relationship to legal precedent and to statutory law. Without knowing all such facts and principles and hearing all the arguments, professional skepticism wisely blocks speculations and discussions of hypothetical situations.
A judge can explain the fact pattern, evidence, and legal precepts that guided him in cases that are matters of record. He can explain the kinds of procedures and legal precedents he might bring to a certain kind of case. But any hint about his vote in a hypothetical future case is unethical. If he is a true professional, he will be aware that he does not know how he will rule until he knows the facts and hears the arguments.
Sometimes a surprise, like a jack-in-the box, might spring up to embarrass the hasty judge. An unexpected bit of evidence that comes to light late in the game, or a surprising twist of law, might be the embarrassing jack-in-the-box. Judge Alito was wisely on his guard about a potential jack-in-the-box surprise. Of all the criticisms vented at him, there were no reproaches about his legal craftsmanship or his concern about legal loose ends.
The liberal senators on the Judiciary Committee were more interested in the practical outcomes of law than the process of law. Unfortunately, outcome-driven jurisprudence is inherently unjust. When a judge stretches and remolds the law to provide a social result that he feels is desirable, he must do it at the expense of justice for the opposing parties who come before him.
The plaintiff's attorney in a civil case makes his case that the defendant violated the law or breached a contract. The defendant's attorney will argue that the defendant did not violate the law or breach an agreement. The dispute may center upon how the law or precedent applies to the case in question. The case of the plaintiff's lawyer may depend upon legal precedents from prior cases to explain why and how the defendant broke the law or breached a contract. If the unjust judge invents a novel theory of law because he wants to change society, and he therefore finds for the plaintiff, it is unjust to the defendant who could not have predicted how the law would be construed when he took the action that was later ruled illegal. If the social-engineering judge finds for the defendant, it is unjust to the plaintiff, because he is left naked to harm, not knowing how to use the law to defend his interests.
In criminal cases, the government is the plaintiff, and the defendant is the alleged violator of criminal law. If the unjust judge twists the law to find for the plaintiff, then an innocent man might go to jail for an action he had no reason to construe as a crime. If the unjust judge finds for the defendant, then society is injured as criminals go free, escaping through loopholes in the law that did not exist before the judge made his ruling.
No matter how golden the intentions of the outcome-based judge are, his decisions are unjust. He creates a real injustice in the legal system, while pursuing a speculative good for society that may or may not work out in the real world the way he expects. The result is an accumulating hodgepodge of legalized injustice that must gradually subvert the society in which it operates, and morally corrupt many of the citizens. Outcome-based law is a powerful acid that eats away at the social fabric, and corrodes the rationality and order that make civilization possible.
Seasoned judges who practice professional skepticism as they sit on the bench are an effective antidote to unjust outcome-based court decisions. Judges who refuse to leap to conclusions, but insist on knowing all the facts and laws and hearing all the arguments, are our chief defenders of justice and a rational ordered society. Judges who speculate about outcomes in the real world and twist the law to provide the outcomes they desire must of necessity behave unjustly towards the plaintiff or the defendant. Such judges are enemies of justice and a threat to reason, order, and civilization.
The scriptures teach that justice is one of the fruits of righteousness and wisdom. The connection between wisdom and justice is particularly intriguing. "I wisdom dwell with prudence, to find out knowledge of witty inventions." (Proverbs 8:12) Prudence operating through the discipline of professional skepticism can discover witty inventions that lead away from discovering the truth and rendering justice. The witty inventions might be the ruses of clever lawyers or the arbitrary law of liberal judges. Verses 13-16 amplify this lesson about wisdom and prudence and bring us to the conclusion of justice in government: "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil, pride, and arrogance, and the evil way, and the perverse mouth, do I hate. Council is mine, and sound wisdom. I am understanding; I have strength. By me [by wisdom] kings reign and princes decree justice. By me [by wisdom] princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth."
Thus, having just judges who are wise and prudent is one of the means God provides for a nation to be ruled so that justice might be established throughout the land. The harsh process of the Senate confirmation hearings can providentially serve to winnow out the foolish and unjust nominees, and confirm the wise and the just nominees. Harriet Miers, a candidate who was not equipped with the intellectual tools to practice professional skepticism, was winnowed out before she got beyond the phase of informal meetings with senators. Two just and capable judges, John Roberts and Sam Alito, have passed through the Senate committee gauntlet and survived the blows of unjust senators. Praise be to God for his providential care of this Republic.
- RenewAmerica analyst Fred Hutchison also writes a column for RenewAmerica.
This Post's Link
- Benedict XVI: No Love, No Consecrated Life ~ Latter Can't Be Understood Otherwise, He Says
- Chiara Lubich's Comments on "God Is Love" ~ "Love Is Inscribed in the Very Nature of the Church"
- On Witnesses of Love ~ "The Whole History of the Church Is a History of Holiness"
- The Silent Life Is a Hit in Germany
- Pontiff Links Leprosy to Poverty ~ Comments on World Day
Saturday, January 28, 2006
"Roe hangs by a thread on the Supreme Court," said NARAL Pro-Choice America in its 2006 report on "The Status of Women's Reproductive Rights in the United States," referring to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision lifting most state restrictions on abortion.
"And while existing restrictions are numerous and significant, if the court were to overturn Roe, the outlook for women in much of the United States is bleak," the report added.
Alito "poses a direct threat to women's health and safety," said Karen Pearl, interim president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a statement Jan. 24, the day the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Alito's nomination.
"His long record of hostility toward women's rights and privacy rights make him a wholly unsuitable replacement" for O'Connor, Pearl added.
Some of the rhetoric on the matter has seemed to imply that as soon as Alito takes his place on the court, abortion clinics across the country will shut down and hundreds of women will be forced to wander the back alleys of the nation looking for illegal abortions.
That's not true, of course.
What will happen – if the Supreme Court accepts a case challenging Roe and then votes to overturn the 33-year-old decision – is that each state will decide if and how to regulate abortion within its own jurisdiction. In short, no one really knows the outcome.
At least four states – South Dakota, Ohio, Tennessee and Indiana – have enacted or are considering laws that would prohibit abortion in the state if Roe is overturned. Another four – Alaska, Florida, Minnesota and Montana – have provisions in their state constitutions that would keep abortion legal even if abortion is banned at the federal level. Four others – Alabama, Delaware, Massachusetts and Wisconsin – have pre-Roe laws against abortion on the books that have not been overturned by the courts.
But any of that could be changed by legislative action or a court ruling before or after a Roe-related case comes before the Supreme Court.
On the federal level, the Right to Life Act – which would guarantee equal protection under the 14th Amendment "for the right to life of each born and preborn human person" – has 70 co-sponsors in the House but has been pending without action since its introduction nearly a year ago.
NARAL Pro-Choice America and the Center for Reproductive Rights, a legal advocacy center in New York working to keep abortion legal, both say that if Roe were overturned about 20 states would be likely to ban abortion, another 20 would keep it legal and the other 10 states and the District of Columbia could go either way.
But even those organizations don't agree on which states would go which way.
It's important to remember, too, that in the years before Roe, the U.S. was not abortion-free. Colorado was the first state, in 1967, to permit abortions in some circumstances.
By the end of 1972, according to the National Right to Life Committee, 13 states had laws that allowed abortions in cases of rape, incest or fetal deformity or when the mother's mental or physical health was endangered. Another 31 states permitted abortion to save a woman's life.
In survey results released to coincide with the 33rd anniversary of Roe, Zogby International found a dramatic shift in public sentiment on abortion since the 1990s.
Although a slight majority (52 percent) still favored abortion in some circumstances, only 42 percent approved of government financing for abortions and 43 percent opposed abortion in most cases.
"What's striking to me is that the numbers were radically different 10 years ago," said John Zogby, president and CEO of the polling company, in a statement. "Ten years ago, maybe just seven or eight years ago, pro-choice forces were in the ascendancy and posted pro-choice numbers in the area of 65 percent to 68 percent."
In a report released Jan. 23 by the Heritage Foundation, a Washington think tank, Michael J. New, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Alabama, said state laws requiring informed consent or parental involvement before abortions did much to bring the number of abortions down in the 1990s, after two decades of rising numbers.
"Overall, this research finds that value shifts have little impact on the incidence of abortion," New wrote. "Conversely, enacted legislation results in statistically significant reductions in abortion rates and ratios."
Deirdre McQuade, director of planning and information for the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, believes state regulation of abortions and court actions that narrow the scope of Roe v. Wade both are important in building "a culture of life."
But perhaps more important, she said, are policies at all levels of society that show a commitment "to support women in making good choices" -- everything from fair wages to adequate day care to "life-affirming legislation" on adoption.
Only then, McQuade said, will the U.S. become a society in which abortion "is not seen as the solution to a problem" and a place where abortion is considered "unthinkable and unnecessary."
- Copyright (c) 2006 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
WASHINGTON (Catholic Online) — An advertising campaign from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Pro-life Secretariat has been released throughout the country to dispel myths about Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision and to challenge the public to reconsider the scope of abortion law in the United States.
Called the “Second Look Project,” the advertisements currently running in buses and trains and on radio in the Washington area and in print publications in major U.S. media outlets asks “Have we gone too far?.”
New “Roe v. Reality” ads from the Second Look Project are now running in buses and trains throughout the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority system. In addition, 60-second radio spots are being aired in a focused campaign in the Washington, D.C. listening area. Print ads have also been appearing around the anniversary of Roe in major media outlets including the Washington Post and the New York Times.
“The Second Look Project seeks to inform Americans of the actual legal status of abortion in the United States,” said Deirdre McQuade of the bishops’ pro-life secretariat, who oversees the initiative. “By citing pro-choice legal scholars, Supreme Court justices and a feminist organization’s survey, the new ads challenge Americans to take a ‘second look’ at common assumptions about abortion that are, in reality, false.”
McQuade expressed confidence that the advertisements would appeal to the general public. “Public support of abortion on demand is declining,” she said. “One Metro ad highlights this point in a myth/fact pairing: ‘Myth: The vast majority of American women believe abortion should be legal for any reason. Fact: Only 30% do.’”
Other Second Look Project ads have been running for several weeks in the San Francisco Bay area transit system, sponsored by Friends of the Oakland Diocese Respect Life Ministry. There, many of the ads have been vandalized and destroyed in what McQuade describes as “vigilante censorship.”
“The destruction of these factual, understated ads is quite revealing,” McQuade said. “Some supporters of ‘choice’ would deny the public the right to make informed choices on this important issue of public policy.”
The advertising direct viewers to a website with the radio spots as well as references and additional information on Roe v. Wade: www.SecondLook.org. The Second Look Project first mounted an ad campaign in the D.C. Area in January 2005.
What first began as a parish property dispute in northwest St. Louis has led to excommunication for the six members of the board of directors of the civil corporation of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish and the diocesan priest whom they hired. In a column written in the December 16 issue of the archdiocesan newspaper, St. Louis Review, Archbishop Raymond Burke declared that the board and the suspended priest were in schism and therefore incurred the penalty of excommunication.
The Fact of the Schism
Archbishop Burke stated that the parish is no longer a Roman Catholic parish of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
The battle began long before Archbishop Burke was appointed. Archbishop Burke inherited the crisis after his installation in January, 2004. The conflict arises from an 1891 agreement that deeded the church property to the parish board. Prior to Archbishop Burke’s appointment, then-Archbishop Justin Rigali made attempts to have St. Stanislaus conform with universal Church law by bringing the parish under the archdiocese’s auspices. In response, the St. Stanislaus board of directors altered their by-laws, eliminating any recognition of the authority of the archbishop and pastor.
“I write, with heavy heart, about a situation which I, as bishop, had hoped that I would never have to address,” wrote Archbishop Burke in his column. “The fact of the schism, however, must be addressed by me now, because it has immediate effects in the whole Church, especially the Archdiocese of St. Louis.”
Although rare, the penalty of excommunication has been used before by US bishops. In 1996, after issuing a warning, Lincoln Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz excommunicated members of Call to Action, Planned Parenthood, and several other organizations. In 1999, Rochester Bishop Matthew Clark excommunicated suspended priest Father James Callan and parishioners who had started their own church.
Those who are excommunicated may not participate in the Eucharist, or celebrate or receive the sacraments unless they are in danger of death.
“It doesn’t strike me that Archbishop Burke is trying to be mean,” said canon lawyer Pete Vere, author of Surprised by Canon Law. “As legislator, he’s trying to apply one law for all the parishes in the diocese. Essentially, this is the Polish National Catholic Church controversy all over again.”
The Polish National Catholic Church was formed in 1897 after parishioners at Sacred Hearts Parish in Scranton, Pennsylvania, had a dispute with the Roman Catholic Church over cemetery funds and parish property. Father Franciszek Hodur organized a schismatic church in Scranton, also named St. Stanislaus, and called for legal ownership of church properties, parishioner-led governance, and parishioner involvement in the appointment of priests. Father Hodur was excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church in 1898. The schismatic Polish National Catholic Church today has 30 parishes and 25,000 members throughout the US and Canada.
“Historically, many ethnic parishes have been run by lay trustees,” said Vere. “Rome has become increasingly less tolerant with that since the revision of the Code of Canon Law. The model that was used then is no longer relevant today. Laws can be revoked or changed.”
An Issue of Authority
That doesn’t sit well with people like third-generation St. Stanislaus Kostka parishioner Roger Krasnicki, attorney and spokesman for the board of directors.
“In 1891, Archbishop Kenrick deeded all the property to a civil corporation which he was instrumental in having formed,” said Krasnicki. “Archbishop Rigali brought it up. Archbishop Burke has vigorously and viciously pursued it.”
“Archbishop Burke is attempting to change, redirect, and disrupt the status quo that we were guaranteed in legal writing by Archbishop Kenrick,” the board of directors wrote in an open letter. As a result, the board of directors has resisted any archdiocesan proposals to have the parish placed under the auspices of the archdiocese. In trying to plead their case, Krasnicki went to Rome.
In November, 2004, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy wrote Krasnicki that “the actions of the Board of Directors in attempting to take control of the Parish represents a clear affront to the authority of the Church,” and advised the board to follow the bishop’s directives. “You have attempted…to transform St. Stanislaus Parish into an entity which has no resemblance to a parish.”
Archbishop Burke offered to place the church property in a charitable trust that he would control. The directors rejected the offer, saying that it gave the archbishop the final say regarding board membership. The archbishop warned that refusal would lead St. Stanislaus parish to no longer be Roman Catholic. In January, the parish voted not to cede the property to the archbishop. That led Archbishop Burke to place the board’s six members under interdict, asking them to repent.
In November, the board took the further step of hiring a suspended priest from a neighboring diocese. Father Marek Bozek of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, was expected to begin serving the parish on December 20. Father Bozek’s first Mass at the parish was expected to be on Christmas Eve.
“The parish was asked whether they wanted the board of directors to find a Roman Catholic priest who could minister to the parish, explaining that it could result in excommunication. Seventy-seven point four percent of the 336 parishioners who voted, gave the directors the authority to do so,” said Krasnicki.
Both sides in the conflict see the central issue differently. Those at St. Stanislaus believe it’s largely about money. The parish’s assets have reportedly grown to $9 million.
“What started off as a money issue has evolved into an issue of power and ego,” said Krasnicki.
Archbishop Burke stated that the conflict is not about money.
“There has never been a question that the money and all the other temporal goods of the parish belong to the parish, as is the case with every other parish in the archdiocese,” wrote Archbishop Burke.
Rather, Archbishop Burke says it is an issue of obedience.
“They have rejected both my direction and the direction of the Apostolic See,” wrote Burke. “Their conflict is with the Roman Catholic Church. The members of the board of directors refuse to accept the governance of the parish by the Roman Catholic Church insisting that they remain devout Roman Catholics by governing the parish themselves. They have, thereby, broken the bond of communion with the Apostolic See and the Archdiocese of St. Louis.”
While reconciliation seems a long way off, not all St. Stanislaus parishioners oppose the archbishop. Prior to August, 2004, Jarek Czernikiewicz and his family had been parishioners at St. Stanislaus. Their three children were baptized there.
When Archbishop Burke removed St. Stanislaus’s priest during the summer of 2004, Czernikiewicz and his family, and more than 100 others, decided to follow the archbishop’s directives. They left St. Stanislaus and have been attending Mass at St. Agatha’s parish, which the archbishop designated as the chief Polish church in the diocese.
“It was emotional to leave, but I saw it as a matter of respect,” said Czernikiewicz, a structural engineer. “I saw [the board show] disrespect for our spiritual father, Archbishop Burke.”
As a result, last April, the board of directors at St. Stanislaus sent a letter to those who left saying that they are no longer members of St. Stanislaus parish.
Local Catholics have been following the conflict. Among them, Larry Slattery feels the archdiocese has been more than fair. “The archdiocese has gone out of their way to make concessions,” said Slattery. “It boils down to an issue of obedience.”
Krasnicki said that he expects to file an appeal of the excommunication with Rome.
- Tim Drake is the author of Young and Catholic: The Face of Tomorrow’s Church (Sophia Institute Press, 2004). He serves as staff writer with the National Catholic Register and Faith and Family Magazine. He writes from Saint Cloud, Minnesota.
Young and Catholic can be ordered by calling 1-800-888-9344 or visiting Sophia Institute Press.
(This article originally appeared in the National Catholic Register.)
Dear Catholic Exchange:
I have a question about our Father's name. When we pray: "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name..." What name are we to think of?
In the “Our Father” prayer we are reminded of the sanctity of the name of God. This clause is discussed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in paragraphs 2807-2815.
To “hallow” means to recognize as holy or treat in a holy way. Therefore, when we pray this prayer, we are recalling the holiness of God’s name. Throughout salvation history, the significance of the name of God is clear. God does not reveal His name to Abraham and only begins to reveal it to Moses, describing Himself as “I am who am.” The Jewish people considered the name of God so holy that they did not pronounce it directly. The name of Father is not fully revealed until Jesus reveals it to us in the New Testament.
As individuals, our own name is an important part of our identity because it represents who we are. Similarly, when we say that someone has “made a name for themselves” we mean that they have created a reputation. When we pray the "Our Father" and recall the need to keep holy the name of God, we are not referring to a specific one of the many names God has been called, but to His name in the sense that it represents and refers to God as a divine person. In the Old Testament, we often see God performing some saving action among the Israelites for “the sake of His name.” Because one’s name represents the very person, the name of God must be kept holy.
United in the Faith,
Catholics United for the Faith
827 North Fourth Street
Steubenville, OH 43952
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The Thomas More Law Center, a national, public-interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has filed a petition with the US Supreme Court, asking the court to review an Establishment Clause case involving a religious display that was hostile to Catholics. In addition to asking the high court to revisit its confusing and inconsistent Establishment Clause jurisprudence, the petition notes that this would be a case of first impression. The Supreme Court has yet to decide a “hostility to religion” case under the Establishment Clause.
Richard Thompson, the President and Chief Counsel for the Law Center, commented, “The Supreme Court’s modern Establishment Clause jurisprudence is in hopeless disarray. Despite giving lip service to the concept that the Establishment Clause prohibits both the promotion of and hostility towards religion, this and several other recent decisions by federal judges have demonstrated that there is a double standard. The Ten Commandments and the Nativity scene are out and public schools can’t mention intelligent design, but an overtly, anti-Catholic display is permissible because it allegedly enhances aesthetics. Apparently, the Establishment Clause protects atheists and secular humanists, but affords no comparable protection for Christians. This disturbing trend in our federal courts must be reversed.”
The US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Denver, Colorado, affirmed a ruling by a district judge in Kansas that Washburn University did not violate the Constitution by publicly and prominently displaying a sculpture that mocks the Catholic faith. The sculpture at issue depicts a Roman Catholic bishop with a grotesque facial expression wearing a miter that resembles a phallus. It was entitled Holier than Thou and included a caption with a heretical statements about the Sacrament of Penance. The sculpture, which was supported with public funds, was displayed outside of the student union, one of the most traveled areas of the campus.
The lawsuit was brought by the Law Center on behalf of Dr. Thomas O’Connor and Andrew Strobl. Dr. O’Connor, a professor of 39 years at Washburn, and Strobl, a senior at Washburn at the time of the filing of the case, are both devout Catholics. The lawsuit alleged that Washburn’s display of this anti-Catholic symbol conveyed the impermissible state-sponsored message of hostility toward the Catholic faith in violation of the Establishment Clause. The district court and the Tenth Circuit disagreed, holding that “under the circumstances,” the display of this symbol did not constitute an unconstitutional endorsement of an anti-Catholic message.
According to Robert Muise, the Law Center attorney handling this case, “This case should give the Court an opportunity to clarify its decisions and provide much needed guidance for the lower federal courts, particularly with regard to hostility claims. The Court could decide to dispense with its current, muddled jurisprudence and return the Establishment Clause to its original meaning, which would also be a welcomed result.”
(This update is courtesy of the The Thomas More Law Center.)
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Friday, January 27, 2006
Vatican City, Jan. 27, 2006 (CNA) - As the Christian Associations of Italian Workers began its 60th anniversary celebrations, Pope Benedict XVI told members of the group, gathered today at the Vatican, that only in the search for truth, true human dignity, and the value of workers over capital, will true democracy be able to flourish.
the Pope received the president and leaders of ACLI, the Christian Associations of Italian Workers, which is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its foundation.
The Pope shaped his address by speaking on each of the three directives which the association is historically committed to.
Noting the first of these, "faithfulness to workers," he pointed out that the Magisterium of the Church has always highlighted the human dimension of work, without overlooking "the commandment of rest. To insist, then, that Sunday does not become like all the other days of the week, is to take a stand in favor of civilization."
The Pope continued, saying that "From the primacy of the ethical dimension of human work arise other priorities: that of man over work, of work over capital, of the universal destination of wealth over the right to private property; in brief, the priority of being over having."
He pointed out that in the modern world, science and technology "present huge possibilities for improving everyone's lives," but warned that "the misguided use of such power can provoke grave and irreparable threats to the future of life itself."
"The defense of life - from conception to natural end - wherever it is threatened, offended or trampled underfoot, is the primary duty of an authentic ethic of responsibility, and this may be coherently extended to all other forms of poverty, injustice and exclusion," Benedict said.
He then discussed the organization’s second directive, "faithfulness to democracy," saying that "It alone can guarantee equality of rights for all. ...Justice is the testing ground of true democracy.”
“That said,” the Holy Father pointed out, “it should not be forgotten that the search for truth constitutes the essential condition for a real, not merely an apparent, democracy. 'As history demonstrates, a democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism'."
Speaking on the third directive, "faithfulness to the Church.,” Benedict said that “Only a willing and passionate adherence to the [Church] can guarantee the identity necessary to ensure a presence in all areas of society and the world, without losing the flavor and fragrance of the Gospel."
The Pope then charged the group. "As lay people and associated Christian workers…always take care over the formation of your members and leaders, with a view to the special service to which you are called.”
“Remain courageously present”, he stressed, “in all crucial areas of social life."
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The pro-abortion movement has made great gains using the "pro-choice" label. First, the "pro-choice" label numbs our moral sensitivity because its masks that anyone really is for abortion, ignores scientific and medical evidence, and diverts attention from the act itself. Secondly, the idea of being "pro-choice" seems to appeal to Americans who cherish freedom and the idea of being free to choose rather than being forced to do anything.
In arguing against this "pro-choice" position, one must first focus on the heart of the choice — a child. Proceeding from a purely scientific approach, we know that when conception occurs, a new and unique human being is created. The DNA genetic code attests to this uniqueness. (Why else has DNA coding become so important in identifying criminals?) Moreover, from that moment of conception, the child continues to develop and to grow; the child is born, matures to adolescence and then adulthood, and eventually dies. Note though that this is all the same person who was conceived: all that has been added is nourishment, time and hopefully a lot of love. Therefore, our Church teaches, "From the time that the ovum is fertilized, a life is begun which is neither that of the father nor of the mother; it is rather the life of a new human being with his own growth. It would never be made human if it were not human already" (Declaration on Procured Abortion, No. 12, 1974).
Moving beyond science to the level of faith, we also believe that Almighty God creates and infuses a unique and immortal soul into that body. This soul — our spiritual principle — is what gives each person that identity of being made in God's image and likeness. (cf. Catechism, No. 363-368). Even if there were some doubt that God infused the soul at conception or some doubt that the conceived child were truly a person, "it is objectively a grave sin to dare to risk murder. ‘The one who will be a man is already one’" (Declaration, No. 13).
We find in sacred Scripture testimony to the sanctity of life in the womb: The Lord said to the mother of Samson, "As for the son you will conceive and bear, no razor shall touch his head, for this boy is to be consecrated to God from the womb!" (Jgs 13:5). Job said, "Did not He Who made me in the womb make him? Did not the same One fashion us before our birth?" (Jb 31:15). In Psalm 139:13, we pray, "Truly you have formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb." The Lord spoke to Jeremiah, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you" (Jer 1:5).
For Christians the sanctity of life in the womb and the belief that this truly is a person is further corroborated by the incarnation: Mary conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ, true God, entered this world, becoming also true man. Even though Jesus was still in the womb of His blessed mother, both St. Elizabeth and St. John the Baptist, who was also in the womb, rejoiced at the presence of the Lord. Would anyone dare suggest Jesus was not a person in the womb of His mother? Little wonder in the Didache (The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles) — the first manual of doctrine, liturgical laws and morals written about the year AD 80 — we find the moral prohibition, "You shall not kill by abortion the fruit of the womb and you shall not murder the infant already born."
Given that the heart of the choice involves a unique, human person, the choice of action becomes clear: to preserve and safeguard the life of this person in the womb or to destroy it. Since this is a person, the latter choice does not involve simply a termination of a pregnancy or the removal of a fetus; rather, the latter choice involves a direct killing of an innocent person — a deliberate murder. Therefore, the act of abortion is an intrinsically evil act. The Second Vatican Council asserted, "Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes" ("Gaudium et Spes" No. 51).
We do not have the right to choose evil, no matter what the circumstances are or even if some sort of "good" may arise. To purposefully choose to do evil is an affront to God Himself, in whose image and likeness we are made. In the "pro-choice position," one is not choosing between two good actions; instead, one is turning a blind eye to the objectively evil action of abortion and pretending that it is on the same moral standing as protecting the child in the womb. To say one is "pro-choice" in this matter is no different than saying one is "pro-choice" for apartheid, Nazi concentration camps or Jim Crow segregation laws — "I am personally against it, but everybody should choose." Of course, the person who does not get to choose in any of these cases is the one society has deemed dispensable, disposable and unworthy of life.
Although we may live in a pluralistic and democratic society, we as Christians cannot ignore truth, whether found in divine revelation or in the natural law known through right reason. On November 21, 2002, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) issued, with the approval of Pope John Paul II, a "Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life," which asserted this point:
A kind of cultural relativism exists today, evident in the conceptualization and defense of an ethical pluralism, which sanctions the decadence and disintegration of reason and the principles of the natural moral law.... As a result, citizens claim complete autonomy with regard to their moral choices, and lawmakers maintain that they are respecting this freedom of choice by enacting laws which ignore the principles of natural ethics and yield to ephemeral cultural and moral trends, as if every possible outlook on life were of equal value.... Democracy must be based on the true and solid foundation of non-negotiable ethical principles, which are the underpinning of life in society.
When the life of the unborn child is no longer sacred and protected, but subject to abortion on demand as a matter of legalized choice, all lives eventually become vulnerable, as evidenced in the growing euthanasia and assisted-suicide movements in our country.
Regarding the "pro-choice" argument, our beloved late Pope John Paul II stated, "Anyone can see that the alternative here is only apparent. It is not possible to speak of the right to choose when a clear moral evil is involved, when what is at stake is the commandment, ‘Do not kill!’" (Crossing the Threshold of Hope, p. 205). Christians must continue to defend the sanctity of human life in the face of this insidious pro-choice argument. To be "pro-life" is not to impose one’s values on another; rather, to be "pro-life" is to uphold the truth of God and the dignity of every human being, born or unborn.
In fall 2001, Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde issued a letter to mark Respect Life Sunday in which he taught,
To be a faithful and serious Catholic necessarily means that one is pro-life and not pro-choice. To be pro-choice essentially means supporting the right of a woman to terminate the life of her baby, either pre-born or partially born. No Catholic can claim to be a faithful and serious member of the Church while advocating for or actively supporting direct attacks on innocent human life.
Moreover, protecting human life from conception until natural death is more than a Catholic issue. It is an issue of fundamental morality, rooted in both the natural and divine law.
In those difficult, tragic situations — rape and incest (which result in conception at most 2 percent of the time depending upon which set of statistics one looks at); a young teenage pregnant mother; or a deformed or handicapped child — we must remember the child is still an innocent human being who through no fault of his own was conceived. Here sharing in the Cross of our Lord becomes a reality without question. In these cases, we as members of the Church must support both the mother and the child through our prayers and by opening our hearts, homes and wallets to their needs. We must make the sacrifice to preserve human life.
- Fr. Saunders is pastor of Our Lady of Hope Parish in Potomac Falls and a professor of catechetics and theology at Notre Dame Graduate School in Alexandria. If you enjoy reading Fr. Saunders's work, his new book entitled Straight Answers (400 pages) is available at the Pauline Book and Media Center of Arlington, Virginia (703/549-3806).
(This article courtesy of the Arlington Catholic Herald.)
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