"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
Decent Work For All Is Critical
Family Is School Of Love
In Defense of Life: Ten Years Of Faithfulness
God Cares About Your Finances
Human Rights Issues Pose Global Concerns
A Message Of Hope For Families
Pray The News
As Americans celebrate Labor Day, they might reflect and pray about the nature and importance of work and its relationship to human dignity.
Monsignor Silvano Tomas, C.S., considered some of these issues in an address to the 95th session of the International Labor Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 8. His talk follows:
"The International Community has committed itself in a solemn way to promote 'full and productive employment and decent work for all, including for women and young people'(1). The strategic role of work in combating poverty and the quality of work, within its social context, bear directly on the dignity of the human person even before they serve as indispensable tools of development. The Delegation of the Holy See notices with satisfaction that decent work, not only as a notion, but as a strategic agenda, is now at the forefront of any discussion on eradicating poverty and that a convergence of efforts is underway for its implementation. The task, however, is far off from reaching its target. The liberalization of finance and trade and the ongoing process of globalization have produced much wealth, but plenty of evidence shows growing disparities among and within countries in reaping the benefits of this increased wealth. If the measure of decent work is adopted, it becomes clear that too many people remain excluded from enjoying it because they are indecently exploited or are altogether out of work. People not sufficiently qualified to board the globalization train or whose capacity and talents are utilized to propel forward the global economy without their sharing in the accruing benefits, are in the tens of millions: undocumented migrants working in agriculture, in manufacturing, in domestic service; women in textile industry working in unhealthy conditions and with miserable salaries; workers labeled by their race, caste, or religion that are relegated to the marginal jobs of society without a chance for upward mobility; exploited workers in export processing zones and all over the world, workers being paid less and less who must work more and more to earn a decent salary.
"A case can be made, it has been observed, that inequality and poverty are the overriding moral issue of the 21st century. Thus a globalization that fosters economic growth without equity blocks access to decent work and calls into question the current functioning of the international structures created to facilitate the flow of ideas, capital, technology, goods, and people for the common good.
"The importance of work is evident above all in the formation of a person's humanity. Not consumption, but the capacity to create new things, situations, expressions, marks the vitality of a person, her/his self-expression. The personal imprint given through work brings about satisfaction and the will to grow, to give, and contribute in a positive way to social coexistence. If work is lacking or is indecent, it is the person that is stifled and pushed into a crisis and a person in crisis is easily tempted by anti-social and destructive behavior. From the primacy of the ethical value of human labor follows 'a logical sequence of priorities: of the person over work, of work over capital, of the universal destination of goods over the exclusive right to private ownership of the means of production'(2), in a word, of the human being over enterprises, increased stock market value, material possessions. The changed perspective that decent work for all entails, calls for a renewed emphasis on the dignity of every person and on common good by placing them at the center of all labor activities and policies. . .
"The initiatives of solidarity undertaken to promote the implementation of the Decent Work Agenda at the local level are effective forms of cooperation that give credibility to this Agenda. In past decades, the ILO has developed a rich body of labor standards; they remain the main road through which the international community can achieve a progressive improvement of the quality of work and of the rights of workers. At the same time, this unique dimension of ILO requires today a convergence of efforts with other international agencies and a coherence of plans and actions so that the complexity of the economy and social relations may not frustrate or delay the global goal of decent work.
"Two steps taken in this context add an encouraging dimension to the concrete implementation of decent work objectives. The first concerns the 1999 Worst Forms of Children Labor Convention (n.182) and the recent good news that for the first time the number of children bound to work in the world has been reduced by 11% between 2000 and 2004, passing from 248 to 218 millions. The prospect that children may be taken out of agricultural work or quarrying, that they may not be trafficked for forced prostitution, that they may be able to go to school and grow up with hope, should redouble the determination of governments, employers, unions, the civil society to aim at a total elimination of child labor. The second step regards the hopefully soon to be adopted Convention and Recommendation on a Framework for Occupational Safety and Health. A safe and healthy working environment is an integral component of decent work, especially if we keep in mind that 270 million work accidents are registered every year and 160 million people suffer of illnesses related to work and accidents and illnesses causing the death of about 5,000 workers daily(3). The patient development of labor standards, when the political will and the collaboration of all segments of society are present, becomes an effective tool that gives results and changes the world of work for the better. . .
"In conclusion, the fast-evolving process of globalization impacts directly on the organization of production and of work and continues to demand adaptation and imagination to sustain decent work. But work will be really decent if, as Pope Benedict XVI has reminded workers on the occasion of last May 1st, the human person 'is subject and protagonist of work.' In fact, work is of primary importance for any woman and man's 'fulfillment and the development of society, and this is why it is necessary that it always be organized and developed in full respect of human dignity and at the service of the common good' (4).
(1) United Nations General Assembly, Resolution 60/1: 2005 World Summit Outcome, n. 47.
(2) Cfr. John Paul II, Laborem Exercens (The Human person and work, Rome, 1981, nn. 12-20.
(3) Cfr. Bureau international du Travail. Conférence internationale du Travail, 93 session, 2005. Rapport IV (I) Cadre promotionnel pour la sécurité et la santé au travail, p.1.
(4) Cfr. Benedict XVI's Homily of March 19 in L'Osservatore Romano. March 20-21, 2006, p.7.
The critical role of the family in the development of the human person was addressed by Pope Benedict XVI in a speech at a prayer vigil July 8 in Valencia, Spain. This vigil was part of the fifth World Meeting of Families. The Pope's speech follows:
". . . United by the same faith in Christ, we have gathered here from so many parts of the world as a community which with gratitude and joy bears witness that human beings were created in the image and likeness of God for love, and that complete human fulfillment only comes about when we make a sincere gift of ourselves to others. The family is the privileged setting where every person learns to give and receive love. That is why the Church constantly wishes to demonstrate her pastoral concern for this reality, so basic for the human person. This is what she teaches in her Magisterium: 'God, Who is love and Who created man and woman for love, has called them to love. By creating man and woman He called them to an intimate communion of life and love in Marriage.' 'So they are no longer two but one flesh (Mt 19:6)' (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Compendium, 337).
"This is the truth that the Church tirelessly proclaims to the world. My beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II said that 'man has been made in the image and likeness of God not only by his being human, but also by the communion of the persons that man and woman have formed since the beginning. They become the image of God, not so much in their aloneness as in their communion (Catechesis, November 14, 1979).' That is why I confirmed the calling of this Fifth World Meeting of Families in Spain, and specifically here in Valencia, a city rich in tradition and proud of the Christian faith lived and nurtured in so many of its families.
"The family is an intermediate institution between individuals and society, and nothing can completely take its place. The family is itself based primarily on a deep interpersonal relationship between husband and wife, sustained by affection and mutual understanding. To enable this, it receives abundant help from God in the sacrament of Matrimony, which brings with it a true vocation to holiness. Would that our children might experience more the harmony and affection between their parents, rather than disagreements and discord, since the love between father and mother is a source of great security for children and its teaches them the beauty of a faithful and lasting love.
"The family is a necessary good for peoples, an indispensable foundation for society and a great and lifelong treasure for couples. It is a unique good for children, who are meant to be the fruit of the love, of the total and generous self-giving of their parents. To proclaim the whole truth about the family, based on marriage as a domestic Church and a sanctuary of life, is a great responsibility incumbent upon all.
"Father and mother have said a complete 'yes' in the sight of God, which constitutes the basis of the sacrament which joins them together. Likewise, for the inner relationship of the family to be complete, they also need to say a 'yes' of acceptance to the children whom they have given birth to or adopted, and each of which has his or her own personality and character. In this way, children will grow up in a climate of acceptance and love, and upon reaching sufficient maturity, will then want to say 'yes' in turn to those who gave them life.
"The challenges of present-day society, marked by the centrifugal forces generated especially in urban settings, make it necessary to ensure that families do not feel alone. A small family can encounter difficult obstacles when it is isolated from relatives and friends. The ecclesial community therefore has the responsibility of offering support, encouragement and spiritual nourishment which can strengthen the cohesiveness of the family, especially in times of trial or difficulty. Here parishes have an important role to play, as do the various ecclesial associations, called to cooperate as networks of support and a helping hand for the growth of families in faith.
"Christ has shown us what will always be the supreme source of our life and thus of the lives of families: 'This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one had greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends' (Jn 15:12-13). The love of God Himself has been poured out upon us in Baptism. Consequently, families are called to experience this same kind of love, for the Lord makes it possible for us, through our human love, to be sensitive, loving, and merciful like Christ.
"Together with passing on the faith and the love of God, one of the greatest responsibilities of families is that of training free and responsible persons. For this reason the parents need gradually to give their children greater freedom, while remaining for some time the guardians of that freedom. If children see that their parents - and, more generally, all the adults around them - live life with joy and enthusiasm, despite all difficulties, they will themselves develop that profound 'joy of life' which can help them to overcome wisely the inevitable obstacles and problems which are part of life. Furthermore, when families are not closed in on themselves, children come to learn that every person is worthy of love, and that there is a basic, universal brotherhood which embraces every human being.
"This Fifth World Meeting invites us to reflect on a theme of particular importance, one fraught with great responsibility: the transmission of faith in the family. This theme is nicely expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: 'As a mother who teaches her children to speak and so to understand and communicate, the Church our Mother teaches us the language of faith in order to introduce us to the understanding and the life of faith' (No. 171).
"This is symbolically in the liturgy of Baptism: with the handing over of the lighted candle, the parents are made part of the mystery of new life as children of God given to their sons and daughters in the waters of baptism.
"To hand down the faith to children, with the help of individuals and institutions like the parish, the school, or Catholic associations, is a responsibility which parents cannot overlook, neglect, or completely delegate to others. 'The Christian family is called the domestic church because the family manifests and lives out the communal and familiar nature of the Church as the family of God. Each family member, in accord with his or her own role, exercises the baptismal priesthood and contributes towards making the family a community of grace and of prayer, a school of human and Christian virtues, and the place where the faith is first proclaimed to children' (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Compendium, 350). And what is more: 'Parents, in virtue of their participation in the fatherhood of God, have the first responsibility for the education of their children and they are the first heralds of the faith for them. They have the duty to love and respect their children as persons and as children of God... in particular, they have the mission of educating their children in the Christian faith' (ibid, 460).
"The language of faith is learned in homes where this faith grows and is strengthened through prayer and Christian practice. In the reading from Deuteronomy we have heard the prayer constantly repeated by the Chosen People, the 'Shema Israel,' which Jesus Himself would have heard and recited in His home in Nazareth. He Himself would refer to it during His public life, as we see in the Gospel of Mark (12:29). This is the faith of the Church, which is born of God's love which comes through your families. To live the fullness of this faith, in all its wondrous newness, is a great gift. All the same, at those times when God's face seems to be hidden, believing can be difficult and takes great effort.
"This meeting provides a new impetus for proclaiming the Gospel of the family, reaffirming the strength and identity of the family founded upon marriage and open to the generous gift of life, where children are accompanied in their bodily and spiritual growth. This is the best way to counter a widespread hedonism which reduces human relations to banality and empties them of their authentic value and beauty. To promote the values of marriage does not stand in the way of fully experiencing the happiness that man and women encounter in their mutual love. Christian faith and ethics are not meant to stifle love, but to make it healthier, stronger, and more truly free. Human love needs to be purified and to mature if it is to be fully human and the principle of a true and lasting joy (cf. Address at Saint John Lateran, 5 June 2006).
"And so I invite government leaders and legislators to reflect on the evident benefits which homes in peace and harmony assure to individuals and the family, the neuralgic center of society, as the Holy See has stated in the Charter of the Rights of the Family. The purpose of laws is the integral good of man, in response to his needs and aspirations. This good is a significant help to society, of which it cannot be deprived, and for peoples a safeguard and a purification. The family is also a school which enables men and women to grow to the full measure of their humanity. The experience of being loved by their parents helps children to become aware of their dignity as children.
"Children need to be brought up in the faith, to be loved and protected. Along with their basic right to be born and to be raised in the faith, children also have the right to a home which takes as its model the home of Nazareth, and to be shielded from all dangers and threats. I am the grandfather of the world, we have heard.
"I would now like to say a word to grandparents, who are so important for every family. They can be - and so often are - the guarantors of the affection and tenderness which every human being needs to give and receive. They offer little ones the perspective of time, they are memory and richness of families. In no way should they ever be excluded from the family circle. They are a treasure which the younger generation should not be denied, especially when they bear witness to their faith at the approach of death.
"I now wish to recite a part of the prayer which you have prayed in asking for the success of this World Meeting of Families.
"O God, Who in the Holy Family
left us a perfect model of family life
lived in faith and obedience to Your will.
Help us to be examples of faith and love for Your commandments.
Help us in our mission of transmitting the faith that we received from our parents.
Open the hearts of our children
so that the seed of faith, which they received in Baptism, will grow in them.
Strengthen the faith of our young people,
that they may grow in knowledge of Jesus.
Increase love and faithfulness in all marriages,
especially those going through times of suffering or difficulty.
United to Joseph and Mary,
we ask this through Jesus Christ Your Son, our Lord. Amen."
Fred H. Summe, vice president of Northern Kentucky Right to Life
For over 10 years now the prayer vigil sponsored by Helpers of God's Precious Infants has celebrated on Saturday mornings the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at Holy Name Church in Cincinnati, then processed three blocks to the Planned Parenthood abortuary, reciting the 15 decades of the Rosary, then returning to the Church for Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
TEN YEARS AT CALVARY
The priest who initiated this pro-life prayer effort was Fr. James Kelleher. Ten years ago, while he was in the Cincinnati area to complete some of his studies, Fr. Kelleher introduced to a number of pro-lifers the efforts of Msgr. Phillip Reilly, who had begun in Brooklyn, New York, a prayer effort known as Helpers of God's Precious Infants.
It was Msgr. Reilly who had initiated a nationwide effort encouraging others to pray more frequently at abortion mills.
Fr. Reilly taught that abortuaries are the modern day Calvary, since it is there that innocent blood is being shed. His inspiration was Mary, who throughout her life lived the words "be it done to me according to Thy word." Saying yes finally brought her to a place called Calvary to witness the horrifying crucifixion of her Son.
There she did not beg God to save her Son's life, nor did she curse soldiers or the Jewish leaders responsible for this horror. Instead, she faithfully accepted the will of God, joining herself to the sacrifice her Son was making, resulting in two innocent people suffering for the sins of others, especially those who could care less.
One may ask, instead of traveling to Holy Name Church, why not just attend Saturday morning Mass at my local parish, and pray the Rosary there? Why stand in front of Planned Parenthood's abortion mill, sometimes in unpleasant weather, to publicly recite a Rosary, while competing with all the noises of a busy street? A quiet place would be more conducive to meditating on the mysteries of the holy Rosary.
As Msgr. Reilly explained, it is Mary whose witness calls us to be there at modern day Calvary, not only to pray and to work to save unborn children, their mothers and fathers, or the abortionists, but also to pray for the salvation of their souls and our own souls.
It was Mary's faithfulness that brought her to Calvary. She had no illusions that her presence would somehow change the outcome and her Son would be spared crucifixion. Surely, St. John knew the same. It was the 10 other apostles who would bitterly regret that they were not there, to be faithful to Jesus.
It is important that we make the small sacrifice of also praying at the place where the blood of the innocent child is shed.
JOIN THE CELEBRATION
To help us celebrate the tenth anniversary of this pro-life prayer vigil, Fr. Kelleher will join us on Saturday, September 16, to celebrate the 8:00 a.m. Mass at Holy Name Church, which is located on Auburn Avenue, about four blocks north of Christ Hospital. Many of the priests, whose dedication enabled this prayer vigil to continue, will concelebrate with Fr. Kelleher. Mark your calendars. Plan to attend this special celebration and join those who faithfully pray for God's precious infants.
Ten years ago the prayer vigil was held only on the second Saturday of each month. Because of the generosity of other priests and the dedication of so many faithful pro-lifers, Mass, the Rosary, and Benediction were also offered on the fourth Saturday of each month. In 2006, the third Saturday was added.
For 2,000 years, Christians have found the life of Mary as a true witness of being faithful to the will of God. From her acceptance of the will of God, we now draw the inspiration to do the same. It is only in our attempt to follow Mary's example in her total abandonment to Divine Providence that pro-lifers can be inspired to continue their efforts, especially in light of the fact that after 33 years, abortion on demand still remains the law.
It is so easy to become discouraged, thinking, "What is the use?" or "What contribution can I make that will really change anything?" It is at these moments that a pro-lifer must turn to Mary to obtain the insight and grace to be faithful.
by Michael Joseph Halm
Perhaps the most interesting of all the marvelous chapters in Mysteries, Marvels and Miracles in the Lives of the Saints by Joan Carroll Cruz, given today's high personal and public debts, is the one on money miracles. She has authored many faith-building books based on signs and wonders: The Incorruptibles, Eucharistic Miracles, Miraculous Images of Our Lady, Miraculous Images of Our Lord, and Relics.
Just in Mysteries, Marvels and Miracles she has collected stories of saints' preternatural gifts of bilocation (being in two places at once), levitation, the odor of sanctity, miraculous transport, invisibility, knowledge or being understood, commanding animals or nature.
All of these, but especially the financial miracles, are explained by St. Therese's quoted words to Mother Carmela, "The power of God takes away or gives the same ease in matters temporal as in matters spiritual." He will, these seem to be demonstrating, provide for our every need, but not our every want.
In 1911 the Sisters of Carmel of Gallipoli were so impoverished, they had to pray rather than eat. On the third day of fasting and praying, January 16, Mother Carmela had a vision in the night. At first she thought "the brilliant Carmelite nun" was Theresa of Avila, but the saintly nun told her humbly, "I am the servant of God, Soeur Therese of Lisieux." St. Therese had died only fourteen years earlier.
She gave Mother Carmela five hundred francs, two hundred more than they needed to pay what they owed. The money continued to multiply over the following months, finally ending exactly a year later. The bishop, acknowledging the miracles, sent the convent a commemorative contribution. When opened on the anniversary of the first miracle, it too had been added to in the sealed envelope.
This sort of thing is nothing new, but has been happening for those who trust in God and when it's truly needed. Cruz retells the story in The Very Rev. Fr. Paul of Molli by Edward van Speybrouck. A friend who had known him before he died in 1896 put a picture of him in her safe and prayed. Two days later she says, I found more money than I had ever had at my disposal."
Jean Vianney, the Cure d'Ars, (died 1859) prayed to Our Lady of LaSalette and found the money needed for a mission.
St. Joseph Benedict Cottolengo (died 1842) showed his dubious creditor his empty pockets and then several gold coins appeared in them.
St. Gaspar del Bufalo (died 1837) advised Fr. Velentini to bless stones into money. He didn't, but did bless the little money he had and it became the amount needed to save the monastery.
Bl. Francis Xavier Bianchi (died 1815) had money in a drawer multiply. Gerard Majella (died 1755) prayed all night before the Blessed Sacrament to save his monastery and two bags of money were outside the door in the morning.
The mother superior of Rita Cascia (died 1457) found, as she'd told her she would, the exact amount needed in the alms box.
St. Lydwin of Schiedam (died 1433) had to sell off a family heirloom to pay off her brother's debt when he died. When her nephew returned the empty purse, it still contained the original amount. She named it "the purse of Jesus" and it never was without money for good works.
When Bl. Gonsalvo of Amarante (died 1259) begged from a certain rich man, the man gave him a note to give to his wife. On the note he had told her to give the man "as much gold as would balance this note." It took "a considerable amount of gold" to do so.
St. Benedict (died 543) prayed for the money to pay off Peregrinus' debt and after three days directed his brothers to a particular chest of grain, and they found the needed twelve coins and one extra for good works.
My own most memorable experience with Providence would be a lesson I learned when I had newly joined what would become Presentation Ministries. I had lost my contact lenses and needed glasses, but did not have the money to pay for them. In faith I went to the clinic and had my eyes examined. Just before the glasses were ready, just the amount needed came. It came from the most unexpected source, my missionary cousin, who has never sent me money before or since. He just said, "I thought you needed it more."
The United Nations has recently held the first meeting of a new Human Rights Council. A Vatican representative, Monsignor Giovanni Lajol, addressed the meeting on June 20 in Geneva, Switzerland. His comments considered the important issues this group will face in addressing human rights concerns and issues of human dignity. The speech follows:
". . . The new Human Rights Council constitutes a crucial milestone in the struggle that aims to place the human being at the center of all political activity, national and international.
"We have reached a key moment: the international norms of human rights that already recognize the essential elements of human dignity as well as each one of the fundamental human rights that derive from it, are now directed to creating procedures with a view to guaranteeing the effective enjoyment of these rights.
"The Holy See desires to contribute to the current debate in accordance with its specific nature and perspectives, always with the purpose of offering an essentially ethical reflection as a help in making the political decisions that must be taken here.
"In law and in the moral conscience of today's international community, human dignity is manifested as the seed from which all rights spring and replaces the sovereign and autonomous will of States as the ultimate foundation of every juridical system, including the international juridical system.
"It is an irreversible development, but at the same time it is easy to see that in many countries, the realization of this supreme principle has not been accompanied by an effective respect for human rights.
"On the contrary, a panoramic view of the world shows us that the human-rights situation is a cause of concern. If one considers the series of rights set down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the International Treaties concerning economic, social, and cultural as well as civil and political rights and other instruments, there are none that are not seriously violated in numerous countries, and unfortunately also in some of those that are Members of the new Council.
"Furthermore, governments exist that continue to believe that it is power which determines in the final analysis the content of human rights.
"Consequently, they believe they are authorized to have recourse to aberrant practices. Imposing birth control, denying the right to life in certain circumstances, claiming to control the awareness of citizens and their access to information, denying access to a public judiciary process and to the right to assure one's defense, repressing political dissidents, limiting immigration without distinction, permitting employment in degrading conditions, accepting discrimination against women, limiting the right of association: these are but a few examples of the rights most frequently trampled upon.
The importance of the new Council
"The new Human Rights Council is called to fill the gap between the pronouncements of the system of the conventions on human rights as a whole and the reality of their application in the different parts of the world. All Member States of this Council must individually and collectively assume responsibility for their defense and promotion.
"At the same time, the hierarchical articulation between the most important bodies of the United Nations clearly expresses the Organization's desire to renew its credibility in the eyes of world public opinion.
"Indeed, the Council can and must be the instrument that directs all international and national policies to what, according to the wishes of a Pope who always upheld the great cause of the United Nations, is its raison d'être: 'service to man, concerned and responsible attention to the essential problems and duties of his earthly existence in its social dimension and significance, on which also the good of each person depends' (John Paul II, Address to the General Assembly of the United Nations, October 2, 1979, n. 6; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, October 15, p. 8).
The right to life and to freedom of conscience and religion
". . . If the principle of the inalienable value of the human person is - as we believe - the source of all human rights and every social order, allow me to emphasize two essential corollaries:
"The first is the affirmation of the right to life from the first instant of human existence, that is, from conception to its natural end; men and women are people for the simple reason that they exist and not because of their greater or lesser capacity to express themselves, to enter into a relationship, or to assert their rights.
"A government, a group, or an individual can never arrogate to themselves the right to decide on the life of human beings, as if they were not persons, except by relegating their condition to objects to serve other ends, however great and noble these may be.
"The second corollary concerns the rights to freedom of conscience and religious freedom, because human beings have an inner and transcendent dimension which is an integral part of their being. To deny such a dimension is a serious affront to human dignity; it is equivalent to denying freedom of spirit. I would say even more: it is an attack on human life itself, because it means turning human beings into mere cogs in a project of social organization.
"It is only through freedom of conscience that human beings are able to recognize themselves and their neighbor in their transcendent dimension and thereby transform themselves into living members of social life.
"As for religious freedom in its personal and communal, public and private dimensions, it enables human beings to live the most important relationship of their life - their relationship with God - purely and without putting up any pretenses that are unworthy of them and even more, unworthy of God.
"This is the intimate and fundamental place of the freedom that State Authorities must safeguard and not hold up to ridicule, must respect and not violate. In this area, every form of violation by force is a violation of the domain reserved for God.
"Of course, like every other freedom, religious freedom must fit harmoniously into the context of all human freedoms. It cannot become arbitrary. Thus, it must also develop harmoniously and, in particular, with attentive respect for the religious freedom of others in the context of laws that apply to all. The State must at the same time promote and guarantee this general atmosphere of responsible freedom.
The attitude expected of the Human Rights Council
"No country, whatever its circumstances and degree of economic development, can shirk the strict obligation to respect all human rights. This respect cannot be more widespread in certain cultures than it is in others, for there is no country where men and women have a lesser degree of human dignity than men and women in other countries.
"The Holy See is appealing to all countries called to belong for the first time to the Human Rights Council. In the first place, it expects of them an exemplary attitude that is put into practice by a sincere and deep examination of the limits unjustly imposed on human rights - first of all within their own territory -, and it also expects them to work to re-establish these rights in their integrity, following the impartial guidelines of the International Community.
"The rich countries must understand that the enjoyment of human rights by all the inhabitants of a country, including immigrants, is not in opposition to the maintenance and growth of general well-being nor to the preservation of cultural values.
"The developing countries must understand that the process of economic development and the promotion of justice and social equality would be far more effective and rapid if they fully recognized human rights instead of failing to respect them for utilitarian reasons.
"The Holy See believes in the human being. Faith and trust in each man and each woman will never disappoint.
". . . The response that the Human Rights Council will make to the challenges of freedom in numerous countries of the world - starting with the members of the Council themselves - challenges the credibility of the United Nations and of the entire international juridical system. The Holy See will follow its work with attention and interest.
"From its position as Observer at the United Nations, the Holy See is prepared to offer its full collaboration, so that the action of the Human Rights Council will enable the dignity of every man and of every woman to be effectively respected. . ."
Pope Benedict XVI sent a message of hope to families from the fifth World Meeting of Families in Valencia, Spain. In a homily at Mass on July 9, the Pope discussed the key role of parents in transmitting the faith to their children. The Pope said:
". . . Both Esther and Paul, as we have just heard in today's readings, testify that the family is called to work for the handing on of the faith. Esther admits: 'Ever since I was born, I have heard in the tribe of my family that you, O Lord, took Israel out of all the nations'. Paul follows the tradition of his Jewish ancestors by worshiping God with a pure conscience. He praises the sincere faith of Timothy and speaks to him about 'a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and now, I am sure, lives in you' (2 Tm 1:15). In these biblical testimonies, the family includes not only parents and children, but also grandparents and ancestors. The family thus appears to us as a community of generations and the guarantee of a patrimony of traditions.
"None of us gave ourselves life or singlehandedly learned how to live. All of us received from others both life itself and its basic truths, and we have been called to attain perfection in relationship and loving communion with others. The family, founded on indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman, is the expression of this relational, filial, and communal aspect of life. It is the setting where men and women are enabled to be born with dignity, and to grow and develop in an integral manner.
"Once children are born, through their relationship with their parents they begin to share in a family tradition with even older roots. Together with the gift of life, they receive a whole patrimony of experience. Parents have the right and the inalienable duty to transmit this heritage to their children: to help them find their own identity, to initiate them to the life of society, to foster the responsible exercise of their moral freedom and their ability to love on the basis of their having been loved and, above all, to enable them to encounter God. Children experience human growth and maturity to the extent that they trustingly accept this heritage and training which they gradually make their own. They are thus enabled to make a personal synthesis between what has been passed on and what is new, a synthesis that every individual and generation is called to make.
At the origin of every man and woman, and thus in all human fatherhood and motherhood, we find God the Creator. For this reason, married couples must accept the child born to them, not simply as theirs alone, but also as a child of God, loved for his or her own sake and called to be a son or daughter of God. What is more: each generation, all parenthood and every family has its origin in God, Who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
"Esther's father had passed on to her, along with the memory of her forebears and her people, the memory of a God Who is the origin of all and to Whom all are called to answer. The memory of God the Father, Who chose a people for Himself and Who acts in history for our salvation. The memory of this Father sheds light on our deepest human identity: where we come from, who we are, and how great is our dignity. Certainly we come from our parents and we are their children, but we also come from God Who has created us in His image and called us to be His children. Consequently, at the origin of every human being there is not something haphazard or chance, but a loving plan of God. This was revealed to us by Jesus Christ, the true Son of God and a perfect man. He knew whence He came and whence all of us have come: from the love of His Father and our Father.
"Faith, then, is not merely a cultural heritage, but the constant working of the grace of God Who calls and our human freedom, which can respond or not to His call. Even if no one can answer for another person, Christian parents are still called to give a credible witness of their Christian faith and hope. They need to ensure that God's call and the good news of Christ will reach their children with the utmost clarity and authenticity.
"As the years pass, this gift of God which the parents have helped set before the eyes of the little ones will also need to be cultivated with wisdom and gentleness, in order to instill in them a capacity for discernment. Thus, with the constant witness of their parents' conjugal love, permeated with a living faith, and with the loving accompaniment of the Christian community, children will be helped better to appropriate the gift of their faith, to discover the deepest meaning of their own lives, and to respond with joy and gratitude.
"The Christian family passes on the faith when parents teach their children to pray and when they pray with them (cf. Familiaris Consortio, 60); when they lead them to the sacraments and gradually introduce them to the life of the Church; when all join in reading the Bible, letting the light of faith shine on their family life and praising God as our Father.
"In contemporary culture, we often see an excessive exaltation of the freedom of the individual as an autonomous subject, as if we were self-created and self-sufficient, apart from our relationship with others and our responsibilities in their regard. Attempts are being made to organize the life of society on the basis of subjective and ephemeral desires alone, with no reference to objective, prior truths such as the dignity of each human being and his inalienable rights and duties, which every social group is called to serve.
"The Church does not cease to remind us that true human freedom derives from our having been created in God's image and likeness. Christian education is consequently an education in freedom and for freedom. 'We do not do good as slaves, who are not free to act otherwise, bur we do it because we are personally responsible for the world; because we love truth and goodness, because we love God Himself and therefore His creatures as well. This is the true freedom to which the Holy Spirit wants to lead us' (Homily for the Vigil of Pentecost, June 9, 2006).
"Jesus Christ is the perfect human being, an example of filial freedom, Who teaches us to share with others His own love: 'As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you; abide in My love' (Jn 15:9). And so the Second Vatican Council teaches that 'Christian married couples and parents, following their own way, should support one another in grace all through life with faithful love, and should train their children, lovingly received from God, in Christian doctrine and evangelical virtues. Because in this way they present to all an example of unfailing and generous love, they build up the brotherhood of charity, and they stand as witnesses and cooperators of the fruitfulness of Mother Church, as a sign of and a share in that love with which Christ loved His Bride and gave Himself for her' (Lumen Gentium, 41).
"The joyful love with which our parents welcomed us and accompanied our first steps in this world is like a sacramental sign and prolongation of the benevolent love of God from which we have come. The experience of being welcomed and loved by God and by our parents is always the firm foundation for authentic human growth and authentic development, helping us to mature on the way towards truth and love, and to move beyond ourselves in order to enter into communion with others and with God.
"To help us advance along the path of human maturity, the Church teaches us to respect and foster the marvellous reality of the indissoluble marriage between man and woman which is also the origin of the family. To recognize and assist this institution is one of the greatest services which can be rendered nowadays to the common good and to the authentic development of individuals and societies, as well as the best means of ensuring the dignity, equality, and true freedom of the human person.
"This being the case, I want to stress the importance and the positive role which the Church's various family associations are playing in support of marriage and the family. Consequently, 'I wish to call on all Christians to collaborate cordially and courageously with all people of good will who are serving the family in accordance with their responsibility' (Familiaris Consortio, 86), so that by joining forces in a legitimate plurality of initiatives they will contribute to the promotion of the authentic good of the family in contemporary society.
"Let us return for a moment to the first reading of this Mass, drawn from the Book of Esther. The Church at prayer has seen in this humble queen interceding with all her heart for her suffering people, a prefigurement of Mary, whom her Son has given to us all as our Mother; a prefigurement of the Mother who protects by her love God's family on its earthly pilgrimage. Mary is the image and model of all mothers, of their great mission to be guardians of life, of their mission to be teachers of the art of living and of the art of loving.
"The Christian family - father, mother, and children - is called, then, to do all these things not as a task imposed from without, but rather as a gift of the sacramental grace of marriage poured out upon the spouses. If they remain open to the Spirit and implore His help, He will not fail to bestow on them the love of God the Father made manifest and incarnate in Christ. The presence of the Spirit will help spouses not to lose sight of the source and criterion of their love and self-giving, and to cooperate with Him to make it visible and incarnate in every aspect of their lives. The Spirit will also awaken in them a yearning for the definitive encounter with Christ in the house of His Father and our Father. And this is the message of hope that, from Valencia, I wish to share with all the families of the world. Amen."
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