"If my people, who are called by My name, humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14
Pope Benedict XVI addressed issues facing society in an era of turbulent change in a letter to participants of the 20th plenary assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. He specifically addressed the impact on children and young adults in a letter dated April 27. A major portion of the Pope's letter follows:
"Your present Session is devoted to a timely theme: Vanishing Youth? Solidarity with Children and Young People in an Age of Turbulence. Certain demographic indicators have clearly pointed to the urgent need for critical reflection in this area. While the statistics of population growth are indeed open to varying interpretations, there is general agreement that we are witnessing on a planetary level, and in the developed countries in particular, two significant and interconnected trends: on the one hand, an increase in life expectancy, and, on the other, a decrease in birth rates. As societies are growing older, many nations or groups of nations lack a sufficient number of young people to renew their population.
"This situation is the result of multiple and complex causes – often of an economic, social, and cultural character – which you have proposed to study. But its ultimate roots can be seen as moral and spiritual; they are linked to a disturbing deficit of faith, hope, and, indeed, love. To bring children into the world calls for self-centered eros to be fulfilled in a creative agape rooted in generosity and marked by trust and hope in the future. By its nature, love looks to the eternal (cf. Deus Caritas Est, 6). Perhaps the lack of such creative and forward-looking love is the reason why many couples today choose not to marry, why so many marriages fail, and why birth rates have significantly diminished.
"It is children and young people who are often the first to experience the consequences of this eclipse of love and hope. Often, instead of feeling loved and cherished, they appear to be merely tolerated. In 'an age of turbulence' they frequently lack adequate moral guidance from the adult world, to the serious detriment of their intellectual and spiritual development. Many children now grow up in a society which is forgetful of God and of the innate dignity of the human person made in God's image. In a world shaped by the accelerating processes of globalization, they are often exposed solely to materialistic visions of the universe, of life and human fulfillment.
"Yet children and young people are by nature receptive, generous, idealistic, and open to transcendence. They need above all else to be exposed to love and to develop in a healthy human ecology, where they can come to realize that they have not been cast into the world by chance, but through a gift that is part of God's loving plan. Parents, educators, and community leaders, if they are to be faithful to their own calling, can never renounce their duty to set before children and young people the task of choosing a life project directed towards authentic happiness, one capable of distinguishing between truth and falsehood, good and evil, justice and injustice, the real world and the world of 'virtual reality.'
"In your own scientific approach to the various issues treated in the present Session, I would encourage you to give due consideration to these overarching issues and, in particular, the question of human freedom, with its vast implications for a sound vision of the person and the achievement of affective maturity within the broader community. Inner freedom is in fact the condition for authentic human growth. Where such freedom is lacking or endangered, young people experience frustration and become incapable of striving generously for the ideals which can give shape to their lives as individuals and as members of society. As a result, they can become disheartened or rebellious, and their immense human potential diverted from meeting the exciting challenges of life.
"Christians, who believe that the Gospel sheds light on every aspect of individual and social life, will not fail to see the philosophical and theological dimensions of these issues, and the need to consider that fundamental opposition between sin and grace which embraces all the other conflicts which trouble the human heart: the conflict between error and truth, vice and virtue, rebellion and co-operation, war and peace. Nor can they help but be convinced that faith, lived out in the fullness of charity and communicated to new generations, is an essential element in the building of a better future and safeguarding intergenerational solidarity, inasmuch as it anchors every human effort to build a civilization of love in the revelation of God the Creator, the creation of men and women in His image, and the victory of Christ over evil and death.
"Dear friends, as I express my gratitude and support for your important research, pursued in accordance with the methods proper to your respective sciences, I encourage you never to lose sight of the inspiration and help which your studies can give to the young men and women of our time in their efforts to live productive and fulfilling lives. . ."
The 43rd World Day of Prayer for Vocations was celebrated on May 7, the Fourth Sunday of Easter. Pope Benedict XVI's message for the day was dated March 5. His message follows:
"The celebration of the. . . World Day of Prayer for Vocations gives me the opportunity to invite the entire People of God to reflect on the theme Vocation in the mystery of the Church. The Apostle Paul writes: 'Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. . .even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world. . .He destined us in love to be His sons through Jesus Christ' (Eph 1:3-5). Before the creation of the world, before our coming into existence, the heavenly Father chose us personally, calling us to enter into a filial relationship with Him, through Jesus, the Incarnate Word, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Dying for us, Jesus introduced us into the mystery of the Father's love, a love which completely envelops His Son and which He offers to all of us. In this way, united with Jesus, the Head, we form a sole body, the Church.
"The weight of two millennia of history makes it difficult to grasp the novelty of this captivating mystery of divine adoption, which is at the center of St. Paul's teaching. As the Apostle reminds us, the Father 'has made known to us the mystery of His will. . .as a plan to unite all things in Him' (Eph 1:9-10). And he adds, with enthusiasm: 'In everything God works for good with those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the first-born among many brethren" (Rom 8:28-29). The vision is indeed fascinating: we are called to live as brothers and sisters of Jesus, to feel that we are sons and daughters of the same Father. This is a gift that overturns every purely human idea and plan. The confession of the true faith opens wide our minds and hearts to the inexhaustible mystery of God, which permeates human existence. What should be said therefore of the temptation, which is very strong nowadays, to feel that we are self-sufficient to the point that we become closed to God's mysterious plan for each of us? The love of the Father, which is revealed in the person of Christ, puts this question to us.
"In order to respond to the call of God and start on our journey, it is not necessary to be already perfect. We know that the prodigal son's awareness of his own sin allowed him to set out on his return journey and thus feel the joy of reconciliation with the Father. Weaknesses and human limitations do not present an obstacle, as long as they help make us more aware of the fact that we are in need of the redeeming grace of Christ. This is the experience of St. Paul who confessed: 'I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me' (2 Cor 12:9). In the mystery of the Church, the mystical Body of Christ, the divine power of love changes the heart of man, making him able to communicate the love of God to his brothers and sisters. Throughout the centuries many men and women, transformed by divine love, have consecrated their lives to the cause of the Kingdom. Already on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, many allowed themselves to be won by Jesus: they were in search of healing in body or spirit, and they were touched by the power of His grace. Others were chosen personally by Him and became His apostles. We also find some, like Mary Magdalene and others, who followed Him on their own initiative, simply out of love. Like the disciple John, they too found a special place in His heart. These men and women, who knew the mystery of the love of the Father through Jesus, represent the variety of vocations which have always been present in the Church. The model of one called to give witness in a particular manner to the love of God, is Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who in her pilgrimage of faith is directly associated with the mystery of the Incarnation and Redemption.
"In Christ, the Head of the Church, which is His Body, all Christians form 'a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of Him' (1 Pt 2:9). The Church is holy, even if her members need to be purified, in order that holiness, which is a gift of God, can shine forth from them with its full splendor. The Second Vatican Council highlights the universal call to holiness, when it affirms: 'The followers of Christ are called by God, not because of their works, but according to His own purpose and grace. They are justified in the Lord Jesus, because in the Baptism of faith they truly become sons of God and sharers in the divine nature. In this way, they are really made holy' (Lumen Gentium, 40). Within the framework of this universal call, Christ, the High Priest, in His solicitude for the Church calls persons in every generation who are to care for His people. In particular, He calls to the ministerial priesthood men who are to exercise a fatherly role, the source of which is within the very fatherhood of God (cfr Eph 3:14). The mission of the priest in the Church is irreplaceable. Therefore, even if in some regions there is a scarcity of clergy, it should never be doubted that Christ continues to raise up men who, like the Apostles, leaving behind all other work, dedicate themselves completely to the celebration of the sacred mysteries, to the preaching of the Gospel, and to pastoral ministry. In the Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis, my venerable Predecessor Pope John Paul II wrote in this regard: 'The relation of the priest to Jesus Christ, and in Him to His Church, is found in the very being of the priest by virtue of his sacramental consecration/anointing and in his activity, that is, in his mission or ministry. In particular, the priest minister is the servant of Christ present in the Church as mystery, communion, and mission. In virtue of his participation in the "anointing" and "mission" of Christ, the priest can continue Christ's prayer, word, sacrifice, and salvific action in the Church. In this way, the priest is a servant of the Church as mystery because he actuates the Church's sacramental signs of the presence of the risen Christ' (no.16).
"Another special vocation, which occupies a place of honor in the Church, is the call to the consecrated life. Following the example of Mary of Bethany who 'sat at the Lord's feet and listened to His teaching' (Lk 10:39), many men and women consecrate themselves to a total and exclusive following of Christ. Although they undertake various services in the field of human formation and care of the poor, in teaching or in assisting the sick, they do not consider these activities as the principal purpose of their life, since, as the Code of Canon Law well underlines, 'the first and foremost duty of all religious is to be the contemplation of divine things and assiduous union with God in prayer' (can. 663 §1). Moreover, in the Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata Pope John Paul II noted: 'In the Church's tradition religious profession is considered to be a special and fruitful deepening of the consecration received in Baptism, inasmuch as it is the means by which the close union with Christ already begun in Baptism develops in the gift of a fuller, more explicit and authentic configuration to Him through the profession of the evangelical counsels' (no. 30).
"Remembering the counsel of Jesus: 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest' (Mt 9:37), we readily recognize the need to pray for vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life. It is not surprising that, where people pray fervently, vocations flourish. The holiness of the Church depends essentially on union with Christ and on being open to the mystery of grace that operates in the hearts of believers. Therefore, I invite all the faithful to nurture an intimate relationship with Christ, Teacher and Pastor of His people, by imitating Mary who kept the divine mysteries in her heart and pondered them constantly (cfr Lk 2:19). Together with her, who occupies a central position in the mystery of the Church, we pray:
"O Father, raise up among Christians abundant and holy vocations to the priesthood, who keep the faith alive and guard the blessed memory of Your Son Jesus through the preaching of His word and the administration of the Sacraments, with which You continually renew Your faithful.
"Grant us holy ministers of Your altar, who are careful and fervent guardians of the Eucharist, the sacrament of the supreme gift of Christ for the redemption of the world.
"Call ministers of Your mercy, who, through the sacrament of Reconciliation, spread the joy of Your forgiveness.
"Grant, O Father, that the Church may welcome with joy the numerous inspirations of the Spirit of Your Son and, docile to His teachings, may she care for vocations to the ministerial priesthood and to the consecrated life.
"Sustain the Bishops, priests, and deacons, consecrated men and women, and all the baptized in Christ, so that they may faithfully fulfill their mission at the service of the Gospel.
"This we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.
"Mary, Queen of Apostles, pray for us."
Monsignor Elio Sgreccia discussed issues of quality of life and ethics of heath for the Pontifical Academy For Life in a report carried on the Vatican Web site (www.Vatican.va.). Because of the critical nature of these issues, My People is printing most of this report which follows:
"Today, to evoke these two terms, quality of life and health, is equivalent to focusing public opinion on something more than a political program; it is almost like invoking 'absolutes,' the greatest or even the only forms of good, to be pursued to the point of a sort of divinization of health.
"On the other hand, there are some who bring light to bear on the emergence of new illnesses (those due to so-called 'well-being') and the abysmal injustice that is being created between the well-off and those excluded from their table, which is evident within the individual health-care sectors and also in the perspective of globalization.
Quality of life: magic words
"The words or message, 'quality of life,' which first appeared in a political document (a speech by United States President Johnson, who succeeded John Kennedy as President), permeated Western cultures as a political and financial ideal deemed sound for peaceful, powerful societies, capable of producing the means not only to satisfy their basic needs but also those that aspired to 'well-being': social security, health care, the enjoyment of their wealth, the improvement of the ecological environment, and the satisfaction of a certain number of desires. After satisfying their needs, people affirmed the urge to satisfy their desires; however, these have no predetermined limit.
"This message converged with the utilitarian philosophy widespread in English-speaking societies. Elaborated by the philosopher J. Bentham, it has been renewed in our day by other philosophers (such as P. Singer, in a sensist and materialist conception) to become an ideal: ethical good must produce pleasure and eliminate pain. The political program based on the quality-of-life concept thus becomes an ethical obligation.
"This change gave rise in turn to a corollary: the human being who does not possess the desired minimal 'quality' does not deserve to be kept alive, hence, the proposal of eugenic parameters for the purpose of selecting those who do deserve to be accepted or kept alive and those who are to be abandoned or suppressed via euthanasia.
"Self-awareness and the capacity for relating, that is, the 'signa personae,' without which the person himself would not exist, have often been proposed among the features that connote the minimum quality of a life held to be worth living. This is how it is, for example, in neo-contractual thought.
"Such an ideal conception of 'quality of life' thus inevitably challenges the more traditional concept of the 'sanctity of life,' misinterpreted as biological vitalism. This has also given rise to contraceptive programs: happiness means few, for quantity is the enemy of quality.
Health as well-being for all
"In the meantime, the complementary concept of 'health' had also received a utopian and hedonistic impulse, since it was defined by the World Health Organization (Preamble of the Constitution, July 22, 1946) as a state of 'complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not merely. . .as the absence of disease or infirmity.' In another document published by the same Organization, health is described as 'the physical and mental well-being necessary to live a life that is enjoyable, productive, and rich in meaning.'
"Such an ideal consequently impels society to plan 'health for all,' even 'free of charge.'
"It was soon noted, however, that financial resources are insufficient, even for the most developed countries; so health programs have been downsized in order to face the problem of the 'allocation of resources for health care.' This is a key theme for the economy, for medicine, and for all societies.
"Obviously, some people are considering reducing expenditures on the hospital 'businesses,' obliging them to revise the system of admitting patients. Others seek to identify and define 'needless expenses.' For example, might 'needless expenses' be the sums spent on the terminally ill? And this is a recognizable incentive to the legalization of euthanasia.
"The consequences of this cultural process in the concept of health have brought to the limelight the opposite of what had been proposed: a culture that does not accept self-control, sacrifice, or hardship, not even in things that are paradoxically harmful to health; the rejection of the element of 'responsibility' for lifestyles; the overwhelming desire to eliminate the concepts of disease, pain, and death.
"The miserable conditions, in terms of health and well-being, of the developing continents and countries should also be remembered. In many areas of Africa and Asia, for example, health service has been reduced to the minimum due to the total lack of organized health care, doctors, and medicines, and has led to the interruption of therapeutic treatment. The Pontifical Academy for Life also focused on this aspect during its General Assembly.
"However, the relators and participants were also asked the straightforward question: what concept of 'quality of life' and what ideal of 'health' are compatible with cultural and historical realism and further, with Christian anthropology?
"We are convinced that the winning solution will consist in working out a new, critical, and positive perspective that approves the non-reductionist concept of the human being (for this is the crux of the matter), a concept that respects the unchangeable and equal dignity of every human person as a creature of God, from conception until natural death; a perspective that will refer to the fundamental value of life and respect for the principle of ethical responsibility and will consider the human being in the perspective of spiritual life, open to transcendence. . ."
Fred H. Summe, vice president of Northern Kentucky Right to Life
1. At what age of development will an unborn child have all the bones, muscles, and organs that an adult has?
(a) 8 weeks
(b) 12 weeks
(c) 21 weeks
"Week 8: Everything is now present that will be found in a fully developed adult. The heart has been beating for more than a month; the stomach produces digestive juices; and the kidneys have begun to function. Forty muscle sets begin to operate in conjunction with the nervous system. The fetus's body responds to touch." The First Nine Months
2. In 1972, the year prior to the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, legalizing abortion up until the time of birth, approximately how many American women died from legal or illegal abortions?
The U.S. Center for Disease Control in 1980 reported that in 1972 only 39 women died from abortions in the United States.
Bernard Nathanson, M.D., one of the founders of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, states: ". . .when we spoke of the latter [number of women who died annually from illegal abortions], it was always 5,000 to 10,000 deaths a year. I confess that I knew the figures were totally false. . .It was a useful figure, widely accepted, so why go out of our way to correct it with honest statistics?"
3. Often the argument is made that poverty is brought about because of overpopulation. Which of the following countries is the most densely populated?
(b) North Korea
The population density in China is 352 people per square mile, North Korea is 492, Japan is 873, and Kenya is 150.
Singapore has a density of 16,514, Sudan has 42, and the United States has 80.
There are many factors which contribute to a nation's prosperity or its poverty. From the statistics, it is obvious that population density is not a factor.
"The real cause of poverty and pollution throughout the world is not overpopulation but government mismanagement of economic life, heavy taxes, corruption, restrictions on trade and productive effort, and misuse of resources," teaches Jacqueline R. Kasun, Professor of Economics and author of The War Against Population.
4. "Today it is possible for almost any patient to be brought through pregnancy alive, unless she suffers from a fatal illness such as cancer or leukemia, and if so, abortion would be unlikely to prolong, much less save life." This statement was made by:
Pope John Paul II in The Gospel of
(b) The Catholic Medic- ation Association
(c) Former U.S. Surgeon General Everett Koop, M.D.
(d) Alan Guttmacher, M.D. past president for Planned Parenthood
This statement belongs to Alan Guttmacher, M.D., who also states: "There is little evidence that pregnancy itself worsens a psychosis, either intensifying it or rendering a prognosis for a full recovery less likely."
A woman carrying a child is always entitled to receive reasonably necessary medical treatment for a pathological condition which imminently threatens her physical life, even if the unintended result is the death of the child (such as the case of the removal of a cancerous womb or an ectopic pregnancy, the treatment of which is not an abortion).
C. Everett Koop, M.D., noted: "In my 36 years of pediatric surgery I have never known of one instance where the child had to be aborted to save the mother's life."
5. When a woman has had an abortion, is it best for those around her to minimize any doubt or regrets that she may have and encourage her just to "forget it?"
True or False?
Theresa Karminski Burke, Ph.D., a psychologist, and founder of Rachel's Vineyard, has concluded the answer to be false. Based on her clinical treatment of post-aborted women, she has long concluded: "Common in the post-abortion patient are grief and heartache over the procedure and feelings of loss and victimization. Even more important, however, is her inability to process the trauma and its accompanying feelings because of denying and repressing her thoughts and feelings about the event. Because the consequences of abortion can be so threatening, we don't want to exacerbate the problem by doubting or negating the many women who have undergone excruciating pain because of their 'choice.'"
In his book, Abortion: The Silent Holocaust, Fr. John Powell, S.J., Ph.D., a psychologist, arrived at the same conclusion. Fr. Powell teaches: "If we have the baby killed by abortion, it certainly does not help the baby. In the short run it may well relieve the mother of a traumatic burden, but it will leave her with a lifelong memory of having once carried a child which she had destroyed. Today's experiences are tomorrow's memories. In general, the experience of an abortion is a long and painful memory."
6. Research involving stem cells taken from human embryos:
(a) have resulted in
(b) is morally acceptable.
(c) is not permitted under federal law.
(d) none of the above.
In spite of all the clamor from the pro-abortion national news media, including many Catholics publications, embryonic stem cell research has produced no cure or treatment.
Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, an expert in the field of bioethics and biotechnology, who earned a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Yale University, explains: "No therapies in humans have ever been successfully carried out using embryonic stem cells." On the other hand, Fr. Pacholczyk explains that adult stem cells have proven to be effective: "Adult stem cells are a 'natural' solution. . .adult stem cells have already been successfully used in human therapies for many years. . . New therapies using adult type stem cells. . . are being developed all the time."
To obtain embryonic stem cells requires the destruction of a human embryo, which is a human being, and thus is morally unacceptable.
There is no federal or state law prohibiting or even regulating embryonic stem cell research. What is being demanded from the pro-abortion community is that the federal government provide funds for this type of research.
Because we are sons and daughters of God, saved by Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we do not merely read the news but make the news. We direct the course of world events by faith expressed in action and intercession. Please pray for the stories covered in this paper. Clip out this intercessory list and make it part of your daily prayer.
Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378, www.presentationministries.com