"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
October 13 marks the fifth anniversary of the death of Father Al Lauer, founder of Presentation Ministries. It is also the 90th anniversary of the final apparition of Our Lady of Fatima.
The Search For Truth
Volunteers Share Christ's Love
In Defense of Life: In The News
Society Should Treat Migrants With Respect
Light to the Nations: A Christian Perspective on World News
Iraqi Refugees Need Assistance
Pray The News
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, represented Pope Benedict XVI at the 28th meeting for friendship Among peoples August 19th in Rimini, Italy. Cardinal Bertone presided at Mass and discussed the importance of man's search for truth in his homily. He said:
"...I joyfully carry out the welcome task of bringing you the blessing and greeting of the Holy Father Benedict XVI, who has asked me to assure you of his spiritual closeness in the hope that this praiseworthy event, well-known and long appreciated by him, will be a real success.
"More especially, at recent Meetings the human reality and constitutive dimensions of the human personality, people's thirst for knowledge and for happiness, was examined and weighed from various perspectives and viewpoints. On several occasions this led you to a deeper reflection on what binds man to his destiny and on his irrepressible longing for the infinite.
"At this year's Meeting, the basic question you wish to ask concerns the truth, as the particularly evocative theme chosen suggests: The truth is the destiny for which we were made.
"For every human being, thirst for the truth has always been a deep desire and demanding challenge. Indeed, man is by nature 'curious': he is prompted to find answers to the many 'whys' of life and to seek the truth.
"In his magisterial Encyclical Letter Fides et Ratio, the late Pope John Paul II says in this regard: 'It is the nature of the human being to seek the truth. This search looks not only to the attainment of truths which are partial, empirical or scientific....Their search looks towards an ulterior truth which would explain the meaning of life. And it is therefore a search which can reach its end only in reaching the absolute' (n. 33). And a little earlier, he defines man simply but extremely effectively as 'the one who seeks the truth' (n. 28).
"In the current socio-cultural context, the truth unfortunately often loses its universal value to become a 'relative' reference. Indeed, the term 'truth' is often equated with the word 'opinion' and is then necessarily declined in the plural: thus, a great many truths exist, that is, a great many opinions that are often very divergent.
"One sometimes has the impression that in the atmosphere of relativism and scepticism which pervades our civilization, we have even reached the point of proclaiming radical distrust in the possibility of knowing the truth. Is it not true that we perceive, most convincingly, in this modern attitude to the truth all the intense scepticism that Pilate's disturbing question to Jesus contains: 'What is truth?' (Jn 18:38).
"The then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in a beautiful essay written a few years ago, referring to the Screwtape Letters, a successful book by the writer and philosopher C.S. Lewis, in which a senior devil, called precisely, 'Screwtape,' writes 31 letters to his nephew, 'Wormwood,' on how to seduce man – moreover, I know this book is very popular with you! – as I was saying, Cardinal Ratzinger noted: 'Today, it is not modern to question oneself on the truth. The young devil expressed to his superior concern that particularly intelligent individuals read the books of wisdom of the ancients in such a way that they might be on the track of the truth; Screwtape reassured him, reminding him that 'the only problem that will never arise is that of the truth of what they read; rather, they will wonder about influences and dependences, the development of the writer concerned, the history of the effects of his work and so forth." The result of such an operation is clearly an immunization against the truth' (Fede, Verità, Tolleranza, Siena, 2002, p. 195).
"Returning to this topic a few years later at a meeting with students at the Lateran University, Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, said: 'If the question of the truth and the concrete possibility for every person to be able to reach it is neglected, life ends up being reduced to a plethora of hypotheses, deprived of assurances and points of reference' (Address to Students, Pontifical Lateran University, October 21, 2006; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, November 1, p. 3).
"But this is not all: in this perspective, life deprived of all certainties becomes opaque, loses its meaning and is ultimately exposed to every possible form of violence and abuse, as the daily news unfortunately obliges us to note.
"On this 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time the Word of God helps us to reflect profitably on these very topics.
"The passage of the First Reading from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah (38:4-6, 8-10) recounts the experience of the Prophet who was in Jerusalem when the Babylonians were besieging it. He stated that there was no chance of resisting, for this would only lead to worse consequences, and therefore recommended negotiating with Nebuchadnezzar.
"But the people and especially their leaders did not agree. They wanted to hold out and were ready to resist the siege to the bitter end. Indeed, considering Jeremiah a defeatist, they became furious with him. King Zedekiah did not dare to oppose the princes who desired to inflict a very harsh punishment on the Prophet and let them have their way. Jeremiah was then taken and thrown into a cistern. What a terrible and even paradoxical situation the Prophet found himself in! He spoke in God's Name but his followers were hostile to him; it even seemed that the Lord himself was no longer protecting him and had left him in his enemies' hands.
"The Prophet did not proclaim a truth of compromise or convenience, an opportunist truth, but the truth in its entirety, a truth that corresponded with the divine will itself, even if it was uncomfortable. Those who listened to him listened to God, those who opposed him were opposing God.
"Jeremiah, imprisoned in the cistern, reminds us of Jesus, who was to be put to death for having witnessed to the truth and to know the darkness of the tomb; but just as the Prophet was to be hoisted out of the cistern, Christ, rising from death, would emerge victorious from the tomb. Whoever is ready to serve the truth, who wishes to remain faithful to God, must be prepared to experience Jeremiah's lot personally, Christ's same destiny.
"St Raymond of Peñafort wrote that those who desire to live fully in Christ suffer persecution. However, when Christians, St Gregory the Great commented, are enlightened by true wisdom, they are not afraid of the derision or unjust censure to which they are subjected. Theodoret of Cyr added that the fortitude with which Christ faced death must be an incentive to us to face life's trials courageously. When it seems that God himself has abandoned us, it is then that we must persevere in prayer; it is then, making our own the invocation of the Responsorial Psalm, that we repeat, full of trust and certain of being heard: 'Lord, make haste to help me...bring me out of prison' (cf. Ps 141: 1; 142: 7).
"Indeed, just as God went to Jeremiah's rescue by causing Ebel-melech to intervene to save him, he makes himself present with his providential help to those who are suffering and rejected because of truth and justice.
"The Gospel passage we have just heard also brings us an important message. It asks us not to give in to compromises when the truth of our relationship with God is at stake. Jesus said: 'Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division' (Lk 12:51).
"Did Jesus then come to kindle the flame of discord among men and women and even in families? How can that be if God is the God of peace and love and if Christ is our peace (cf. Eph 2:14)?
"Did not Jesus die on the Cross to destroy in his Body all hostility (cf. Eph 2:14-18)? Was it not he who commanded us to love even our enemies (cf. Mt 5:44; Lk 6:27-35)? Will not his Kingdom be fully achieved precisely by the establishment of unity and peace (cf. I Cor 15:28)?
"In fact, the defense of peace, love, truth and good are at the root of a fight to the death between the Almighty and Satan, his true enemy, whose aim it is to destroy God's work and deprive man of his friendship. Since humanity was born, since the tragic event of Original Sin, Satan has been opposed to God and, were it possible, would like even to annihilate him, to establish his own kingdom of chaos, hatred and unhappiness. His aim is to attract man and subjugate him to himself. To do this, he must in any case separate man from God.
"History unfortunately shows that scores of people have always fallen into Satan's snares; they delude themselves into thinking that they will progress and obtain happiness by following the deceptive suggestions of the Evil One, who spurs man to fulfil himself apart from, or even in opposition to, God.
"But the result is failure and ruin, unhappiness and death. Jesus came to unmask the Devil's sly and artful strategy. He pointed out Satan to everyone as the one true enemy of God and man and engaged in the great battle of salvation against him.
"The fire he came to bring to the earth is thus the fire of separation from the devil; the fire of truth that shows up the true face of Satan as the father of lies; the fire that makes it possible to distinguish clearly between good and evil, between truth and error; hence, it is a fire of 'holy' discord that obliges each one of us to take a stance, to decide clearly whether to side with God or to be against him.
"Knowing and choosing the truth is being with Christ. The truth - as the Meeting's theme emphasizes - is the destiny for which we were made. How timely are Christ's words today which we hear ceaselessly resounding within us as a constant challenge: 'I am the truth' (Jn 14:6)! Christ is the only One who can identify the truth with a person; he is truth personified, made human, and those who seek him fulfil themselves completely.
"He says, 'If you continue in my word you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free' (Jn 8:31-32). In the Encyclical Fides et Ratio cited above, Pope John Paul II wrote: 'Whoever lives for the truth is reaching for a form of knowledge which is fired more and more with love for what it knows' (n. 42).
"Let us now ask ourselves with St Augustine: 'Quid fortius desiderat homo quam veritatem? – What does man desire more ardently than the truth?' The whole of man's existence is marked by this question that finds a full answer in the encounter with Christ.
"May the Meeting help our society understand that 'the truth is the destiny for which we were made.' May Mary, Mater Veritatis, obtain that we be tireless seekers of the truth that is Christ."
During his trip to Austria, Pope Benedict XVI met with volunteer associations in a September 9 meeting in Vienna. He encouraged their effort and noted that, "it is good to meet people who are trying to give a face to the Gospel message in our communities; to see people, young and old, who concretely express in Church and society the love which we, as Christians, must be overwhelmed: the love of God which enables us to see others as our neighbors, our brothers and sisters!"...
The Pope continued: "Thanks be to God, many people consider it an honor to engage in volunteer service to individuals, groups and organizations, or to respond to specific needs concerning the common good. This kind of involvement is first of all an occasion for personal growth and for active and responsible participation in the life of society. The willingness to take up volunteer work can have various motivations. Frequently it is simply born of a desire to do something meaningful and helpful, and out of a desire for new experiences. Young people rightly and naturally also discover in volunteer work a source of joy, positive experiences and genuine camaraderie in carrying out a worthwhile project alongside others. Often these personal ideas and initiatives are linked to a practical love of neighbor; the individual thus becomes part of a wider community of support...
"Young people especially long to have their abilities and talents 'awakened and discovered.' Volunteers want to be asked, they want to be told: 'I need you' – 'You can do it!' How good it feels to hear words like these! In their human simplicity, they unwittingly point us to the God who has called each of us into being and given us a personal task, the God Who needs each of us and awaits our response. Jesus called men and women, and gave them the courage needed to embark on a great undertaking, one to which, by themselves, they would never have dared to aspire. To allow oneself to be called, to make a decision and then to set out on a path – without the usual questions about whether it is useful or profitable – this attitude will naturally bring healing in its wake. The saints have shown us this path by their lives. It is a fascinating and thrilling path, a path of generosity and, nowadays, one which is much needed. To say 'yes' to volunteering to help others is a decision which is liberating; it opens our hearts to the needs of others, to the requirements of justice, to the defense of life and the protection of creation. Volunteer work is really about the heart of the Christian image of God and man: love of God and love of neighbor.
". . .Volunteer work reflects gratitude for, and the desire to share with others, the love that we ourselves have received. In the words of the fourteenth-century theologian Duns Scotus, Deus vult condiligentes – God wants persons who love together with him. Seen in this light, unremunerated service has much to do with God's grace. A culture which would calculate the cost of everything, forcing human relationships into a strait jacket of rights and duties, is able to realize, thanks to the countless people who freely donate their time and service to others, that life is an unmerited gift. For all the many different or even contradictory reasons which motivate people to volunteer their services, all are ultimately based on a profound solidarity born of 'gratuitousness.' It was as a free gift that we received life from our Creator, it was as a free gift that we were set free from the blind alley of sin and evil, it was as a free gift that we were given the Spirit with his many gifts. In my Encyclical (Deus Caritas Est) I wrote: 'Love is free; it is not practiced as a way of achieving other ends.' 'Those who are in a position to help others will realize that in doing so they themselves receive help; being able to help others is no merit or achievement of their own. This duty is a grace.' By our commitment to volunteer work, we freely pass on what we ourselves have received. This 'inner logic' of gratuitousness goes beyond strict moral obligation.
"Without volunteer service, society and the common good could not, cannot and will not endure. A readiness to be at the service of others is something which surpasses the calculus of outlay and return: it shatters the rules of a market economy. The value of human beings cannot be judged by purely economic criteria. Without volunteers, then, no state can be built up. A society's progress and worth constantly depend on people who do more than what is strictly their duty.
"...Volunteer work is a service to human dignity, inasmuch as men and women are created in the image and likeness of God. As Irenaeus of Lyons, in the second century, said: 'The glory of God is the living man, and the life of man is the vision of God.' And Nicholas of Cusa, in his treatise on the vision of God went on to develop this insight: 'Since the eye is where love is found, I know that you love me… Your gaze, O Lord, is love…. By gazing upon me, you, the hidden God, enable me to catch a glimpse of you…Your gaze bestows life…Your gaze is creative.' God's gaze – the gaze of Jesus fills us with God's love. Some ways of looking at others can be meaningless or even contemptuous. There are looks that reveal esteem and express love. Volunteer workers have regard for others; they remind us of the dignity of every human being and they awaken enthusiasm and hope. Volunteer workers are guardians and advocates of human rights and human dignity.
"Jesus' gaze is connected with another way of seeing others. In the Gospel the words: 'He saw him and passed by' are said of the priest and the Levite who see the man lying half-dead on the wayside, yet do not come to his help (Lk 10:31-2). There are people who see, but pretend not to see, who are faced with human needs yet remain indifferent. This is part of the coldness of our present time. In the gaze of others, and particularly of the person who needs our help, we experience the concrete demands of Christian love. Jesus Christ does not teach us a spirituality 'of closed eyes,' but one of 'alertness,' one which entails an absolute duty to take notice of the needs of others and of situations involving those whom the Gospel tells us are our neighbors. The gaze of Jesus, what 'his eyes' teach us, leads to human closeness, solidarity, giving time, sharing our gifts and even our material goods. For this reason, 'those who work for the Church's charitable organizations must be distinguished by the fact that they do not merely meet the needs of the moment, – as important as this is – but they dedicate themselves to others with heartfelt concern… This heart sees where love is needed, and acts accordingly.' Yes, 'I have to become like someone in love, someone whose heart is open to being shaken up by another's need. Then I find my neighbor or - better – then I am found by him.'
"Finally, the commandment of love for God and neighbor (cf. Mt 22:37-40; Lk 10:27) reminds us that it is through our love of neighbor that we Christians honor God himself. Archbishop Kothgasser has already quoted the saying of Jesus: 'As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me' (Mt 25:40). If Jesus himself is present in the concrete man or woman whom we encounter, then unremunerated service can bring us to an experience of God. Sharing in human situations and needs leads to a 'new' and meaningful kind of togetherness. In this way, volunteer work can help bring people out of their isolation and make them part of a community.
"To conclude, I would like to mention the power of prayer and its importance for everyone engaged in charitable work. Praying to God sets us free from ideologies or a sense of hopelessness in the face of endless needs. 'Even in their bewilderment and failure to understand the world about them, Christians continue to believe in the "goodness and loving kindness of God" (Tit 3:4). Immersed like everyone else in the dramatic complexity of historical events, they remain unshakably certain that God is our Father and loves us, even when his silence remains incomprehensible.'
"...Whenever people do more than their simple duty in professional life and in the family – and even doing this well calls for great strength and much love – and whenever they commit themselves to helping others, putting their precious free time at the service of man and his dignity, their hearts expand. Volunteers do not understand the term 'neighbor' in the literal meaning of the word; for them, it includes those who are far away, those who are loved by God, and those who, with our help, need to experience the work of redemption accomplished by Christ. The other, whom the Gospel calls our 'neighbor,' thus becomes our privileged partner as we face the pressures and constraints of the world in which we live. Anyone who takes seriously the 'priority' of his neighbor lives and acts in accordance with the Gospel and shares in the mission of the Church, which always looks at the whole person and wants everyone to experience the love of God..."
Fred H. Summe, vice president of Northern Kentucky Right to Life
The following news items are presented for your information. This type of news cannot be found in the pro-death secular news media, and is rarely found even in Catholic diocesan newspapers. However, as a fortunate reader of My People, you know where to find the news.
Your Tax Dollars At Work
Last year, Planned Parenthood received more than $300 million dollars from government grants and contracts. However, Title X is the biggest piece of the pie as it makes up approximately 23 percent of Planned Parenthood's total government funding. An estimated $70 million was given to PP through Title X, more than any other single organization in the country.
Pope Benedict XVI
Catholic Pro-Lifers are encouraged by the recent strong statement by Pope Benedict XVI, wherein he reaffirmed, during a recent Mexico City trip, that legislators who vote to permit the killing of unborn children have excommunicated themselves and should be refused Communion.
The Holy Father was asked by a reporter, "Do you agree with the excommunications given to legislators in Mexico City on this question?" and he replied, "Yes, the excommunication was not something arbitrary. It is part of the Canon Law Code [Canon 915]. It is based simply on the principle that the killing of an innocent human child is incompatible with going in communion with the body of Christ. Legislative action in favor of abortion is incompatible with participation in the Eucharist. Politicians exclude themselves from Communion."
Cardinal Changes His Mind
Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras has had a change of heart. He recently told Time magazine he would not deny Holy Communion to a pro-abortion politician. But following Pope Benedict's recent comments, Cardinal Rodriguez said he was wrong: "A recent declaration of the Holy See clearly states that when all precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible, and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it." American Life League (www.all.org)
Speaking With Forked Tongue
Republican hopeful Rudy Giuliani tried to humor pro-lifers by devoting one of his new "12 Commitments to the American People" to adoption. "I will increase adoptions, decrease abortions, and protect the quality of life for our children," he states. In the past, Giuliani's personal efforts to increase adoptions included donations to Planned Parenthood, an organization which, last year, could not report a single adoption referral. Family Research Council (www.frc.org)
The Catholic News Agency is spreading news of new scientific research that backs up the Church on its opposition to the morning-after pill. Researchers say one of the advertised modes of action for so-called emergency contraception pills – inhibition of implantation of the days-old human embryo in the uterine lining, an action that results in the embryo's death – is indeed a fact.
Out of Africa
Lucy Kibaki, First Lady of Kenya, is warning the youth of her country: "Fellow citizens, this gadget called the condom...is causing the spread of AIDS in this country." She chairs the Organization of the 40 African First Ladies and has joined with Ugandan First Lady Janet Musevgi in calling for abstinence as the only way to stop the AIDS pandemic in Africa.
Mrs. Kibaki's speeches have touched a nerve in AIDS activists, who continue to promote condom use, even though the 2003 UN report on condoms showed that they failed 10% of the time to prevent disease transmission, meaning that contraction of the disease means "when," rather than "if."
Alveda King, niece of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., has made some strong Pro-Life statements: "Abortion is a deadly genocide for all populations. Yet, evidence shows that groups such as Planned Parenthood have targeted African-American communities with a campaign to encourage young black parents to abort babies. ...The proper solution is righteousness and holy living, including abstinence and marriage. This is the case for all people, regardless of nationality and socioeconomic status. ...My uncle, Dr. King, said, 'The Negro cannot win if he is willing to sacrifice the lives of his family for personal comfort and safety.' My parents raised me as a Christian, and I believe the Bible. My grandfather, Daddy King, was very firm about the life of the unborn, and rejected the idea of abortion."
Brushing aside criticism from the Holy See, Amnesty International has affirmed its new policy of support for legal abortion. The group confirmed the policy, "adopted in April this year, that aims to support the decriminalization of abortion, to ensure women have access to health care when complications arise from abortion and to defend women's access to abortion." The Wanderer (www. thewandererpress.com)
The head of the Vatican delegation stressed the need to treat migrants with dignity and respect and to integrate them into society at a July 10 meeting of the World Forum on Migration and Development in Brussels, Belgium.
Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant People said:
"In our day, the link between migration and development calls for greater attention in every part of the world.
"As my Delegation cordially thanks the Belgian Government for its efforts in organizing this Forum, it desires to stress in this regard that whether they are migrants or members of the local population, human beings are not primarily or solely an economic factor but human people, endowed with innate dignity and equal and inalienable rights.
"At the same time, even development cannot claim to be authentic if it is obtained at ordinary people's expense (cf. Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, n. 9). To be genuine, development must concern every person and the whole person (cf. Populorum Progressio, n. 14), that is, it must be integral and holistic.
"Unless the moral, cultural, spiritual and religious requirements of individuals and communities are respected, their material well-being will prove inadequate (cf. Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, n. 9).
"With regard to migration, there is no doubt that in the first place people are entitled to live in peace and dignity in their own country.
"As a result, their countries of origin have the serious responsibility for working to increase development so that their citizens will not be compelled to leave their homeland in search of a dignified life elsewhere.
"Nevertheless, to achieve the common universal good (intended for the whole of humanity), the support, solidarity, assistance and cooperation of others is essential, especially when a nation cannot manage to keep up with the development process and the struggle for peace and security.
"Today, unfortunately, people are still emigrating, driven among other things by the necessity of providing for their family, which is, effectively, the natural and fundamental cell of society.
"Migrants need to live in a family like others but are even more in need of their own family, since for those who are far from home family support is indispensable (cf. Pope Benedict XVI, Message for the 93rd World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2007; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 13 December 2006, p. 6).
"Consequently, families should not be disunited or debilitated, nor should their members, especially women and children, be left in a situation of vulnerability.
"In another perspective, migration is also caused by the demand of industrialized countries for the services of migrants, which is linked to globalization. So it is that migrants contribute to the well-being of the host country.
"Moreover, because of their human dignity, they must be respected and their rights and freedoms guaranteed: the right to a dignified life and fair treatment in the work place, the rights of access to education, health care and other social benefits, to the development of their skills, to growth from a human viewpoint, to express their culture freely and to practice their religion.
"Rights and duties, however, go hand in hand.
"Therefore, at the same time, migrants are also duty bound to respect the identity and laws of their country of residence, to strive to be properly integrated (not assimilated) into the host society and to learn the language. They must learn to esteem and respect the host country, even to the point of coming to love and defend it (cf. Erga Migrantes Caritas Christi, n. 77).
"Among them, unfortunately, are migrants in an illegal situation who nevertheless possess inalienable human dignity, independently of their legal status. Consequently, their rights must be safeguarded and not overlooked or violated (cf. ibid.).
"The status of illegal immigrants, in fact, does not imply criminality. This problem could be solved by the improvement of international cooperation which would discourage illegality by increasing legal channels for migration.
"Allow me to echo here the Papal Appeal, addressed to those Governments that have not already done so, to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. Thank you."
CASTEL GANDOLFO, ITALY – Pope Benedict XVI addressed participants in the 12th World Congress of the International Commission of Catholic Prison Pastoral Care on September 6.
The Pope said: "...The theme of your Congress this year, 'Discovering the Face of Christ in Every Prisoner' (Mt 25:36), aptly portrays your ministry as a vivid encounter with the Lord. Indeed, in Christ the 'love of God and love of neighbor have become one,' so that 'in the least of the brethren we find Jesus Himself, and in Him...God' (Deus Caritas Est, 15).
"Your ministry requires much patience and perseverance. Not infrequently there are disappointments and frustrations. Strengthening the bonds that unite you with your bishops will enable you to find the support and guidance you need to raise awareness of your vital mission. Indeed, this ministry within the local Christian community will encourage others to join you in performing corporal works of mercy, thus enriching the ecclesial life of the diocese. Likewise, it will help to draw those whom you serve into the heart of the universal Church, especially through their regular participation in the celebration of the sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist (cf. Sacramentum Caritatis, 59).
"Prisoners easily can be overwhelmed by feelings of isolation, shame and rejection that threaten to shatter their hopes and aspirations for the future. Within this context, chaplains and their collaborators are called to be heralds of God's infinite compassion and forgiveness. In cooperation with civil authorities, they are entrusted with the weighty task of helping the incarcerated rediscover a sense of purpose so that, with God's grace, they can reform their lives, be reconciled with their families and friends, and, insofar as possible, assume the responsibilities and duties which will enable them to conduct upright and honest lives within society.
"Judicial and penal institutions play a fundamental role in protecting citizens and safeguarding the common good (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2266). At the same time, they are to aid in rebuilding 'social relationships disrupted by the criminal act committed' (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 403). By their very nature, therefore, these institutions must contribute to the rehabilitation of offenders, facilitating their transition from despair to hope and from unreliability to dependability. When conditions within jails and prisons are not conducive to the process of regaining a sense of a worth and accepting its related duties, these institutions fail to achieve one of their essential ends. Public authorities must be ever vigilant in this task, eschewing any means of punishment or correction that either undermine or debase the human dignity of prisoners. In this regard, I reiterate that the prohibition against torture 'cannot be contravened under any circumstances' (Ibid., 404). . ."
BALTIMORE, MD – As roads are repaired and communications restored, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), in coordination with its local Church partner, Caritas Peru, continues to deliver life-saving supplies to families affected by the worst earthquake to hit Peru in 30 years.
The agency has already committed an initial $100,000 and is seeking an additional $1.4 million to support Caritas Peru's response and reconstruction efforts. The appeal is part of a larger Caritas Confederation effort to raise $11 million for immediate relief and long-term recovery, which would ultimately help some 50,000 people.
The powerful 8.0-magnitude earthquake that hit Peru on Aug. 15 toppled homes, churches and buildings and was felt from the earthquake's epicenter in the Department of Ica to the capital city Lima, over 100 miles away. More than 85,000 people are now homeless and 35,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged.
CRS immediately responded by providing food, water, shelter, blankets, and cooking and hygiene kits to some 10,000 people in Ica, the region in Peru's southern desert that was hardest hit by the quake. Many of CRS staff in Peru and across South America have supported this effort.
"The people most affected by the earthquake are some of the poorest to begin with," said Aaron Skrocki, CRS Emergency Coordinator in South America. "The earthquake has taken what was already a difficult situation and made it worse. That is where Catholic Relief Services comes in. We are there to support the local Church helping people get back on their feet and regain their lives as quickly as possible."
Traveling through Chincha, Ica, and Pisco, the three cities nearest the quake's epicenter, Skrocki and a CRS - Caritas assessment team found widespread destruction in the poorer rural areas where homes are made of adobe. Initial relief efforts were hampered due to the condition of the roads. In addition, already fragile potable water and irrigation systems were destroyed by the tremor. Restoring the systems over the next several months will be critical in allowing people to return to farming the land and watering their livestock.
Caritas has set up its main centers of operations in Pisco, Cañete, Ica and Chinca, where hundreds of volunteers are helping with aid distributions and other activities.
CRS, in partnership with Caritas Peru, has been responding to natural disasters in Peru since 1954. In addition to emergency relief, the agency supports programs—including agriculture production and marketing, microfinance, and citizen participation projects— that help poor, marginalized communities become self-reliant.
(Source: CRS press release).
by Michael Halm
Speaking of Iraqi refugees, Jack Connolly says, "More, much more, needs to be done in terms of assisting and protecting this population."
There are several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) which are trying to help.
Connolly himself represents Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in the Middle East, which is providing assistance to Iraqi refugees in Syria and Lebanon. Nearly two million dollars is coming from the US Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, and more than half a million from private funds. The United Nations estimates two million Iraqis have become refugees in neighboring countries, Jordan and Syria primarily, but also Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey. Another two million are displace within Iraq. The UN estimates 50,000 Iraqis flee their homes per month.
"When you look at the numbers affected, more than four million people uprooted, the response is still not sufficient," Connolly adds.
The first influx of refugees into Jordan was about eight years ago. A million refugees have come in that last two years, 50,000 of them Christian.
"Usually the first thing they do is come to the Church. It is the first contact they have with other people and with relatives," said Ra'ed Bahou, the director of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine.
"People know they now have to come a half-hour earlier to get a seat," he said.
While some professionals are working illegally, he explains, most end up as a day laborers.
"Organizations like us can give them the basics, but we can't support whole families. We can give them money for one or two months. It is very difficult emotionally," he said. The Iraqis have been accepted by the Jordanian population, he said, and are slowly becoming part of the ethnic makeup of the country.
In Syria, CRS is working with the local Caritas/Syria and St. Vincent de Paul Society. Bishop Antoine Audo, of the Chaldean Catholic diocese of Aleppo, said that some 25,000 Iraqis refugees are in Syria. He said that the refugees had packed into Damascus because the authorities had allowed them in without visas and supported the aid efforts of the Church.
"There is a big need to help the people in Damascus. We cannot provide a solution for all the problems but we are doing whatever we can. We are very grateful to Aid to the Church in Need, (ACN)."
Many gave gone on to Lebanon, which is almost one third Christian. Up to 40,000, at the al-Farad's Assyrian Church of St. George, Iraqi refugees now make up almost one-third of the congregation. "It was bad in Iraq under the old regime," says James Isho. "Now it's even worse."
"Every day five or six more families come here," says Bishop Michael Kisargi. "Everyone can tell me a story about persecution by Muslims."
Lebanon already has 400,000 Palestinian refugees, some of whom have lived there for almost 60 years without citizenship. The newly arriving Iraqi refugees therefore aren't legally allowed to work in Lebanon.
"I can't go on like this," he says. "We are a poor church and the situation is getting worse."
"More information on these and other of our needy Christian brothers and sisters can be found by contacting the organizations mentioned above. CRS can be found at www.crs.org or 228 W. Lexington Street Baltimore, MD 21201-3413.
The Pontifical Mission for Palestine is one of the local organizations under the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (www.cnewa.org, 1011 First Ave., New York, NY 10022-4195).
Caritas Internationales is out of the Vatican itself (www.caritas.va, Palazzo San Calisto, 00120 Vatican City). The ACN is also international (www.aidtothechurchinneed.org, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, NY 11222).
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