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My People

Vol. 20, Issue 12, December 2007

"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


"We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world."
– St. Francis of Assisi

Prayer Is The Greatest Transforming Power

In a pastoral visit to Naples, Pope Benedict XVI stressed the transforming power of prayer in a homily on October 21. Naples has been faced with many economic and social problems and with violence and criminal activity.

In his homily, the Pope said: ". . .In meditating on the biblical Readings for this Sunday and thinking of the situation of Naples, I was struck by the fact that today the main theme of the Word of God is prayer; indeed, we 'ought always to pray and not lose heart,' as the Gospel says (cf. Lk 18:1). At first sight, this might seem a message not particularly relevant, unrealistic, not very incisive with regard to a social reality with so many problems such as yours. But, if we think about it, we understand that this Word contains a message that certainly goes against the tide and yet is destined to illuminate in depth the conscience of this Church and city of yours. I would sum it up like this: the power that changes the world and transforms it into the Kingdom of God, in silence and without fanfare, is faith – and prayer is the expression of faith. When faith is filled with love for God, recognized as a good and just Father, prayer becomes persevering, insistent, it becomes a groan of the spirit, a cry of the soul that penetrates God's Heart. Thus, prayer becomes the greatest transforming power in the world. In the face of a difficult and complex social reality, as yours certainly is, it is essential to strengthen hope which is based on faith and expressed in unflagging prayer. It is prayer that keeps the torch of faith alight. Jesus asks, as we heard at the end of the Gospel: 'When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?' (Lk 18:8). It is a question that makes us think. What will be our answer to this disturbing question? Today, let us repeat together with humble courage: Lord, in coming among us at this Sunday celebration you find us gathered together with the lamp of faith lit. We believe and trust in you! Increase our faith!

"The biblical Readings we have heard present several models to inspire us in our profession of faith, which is also always a profession of hope because faith and hope open the earth to divine power, to the power for good. They are the figures of the widow, whom we encounter in the Gospel parable, and of Moses, of whom the Book of Exodus speaks. The widow of the Gospel (cf. Lk 18:1-8) makes us think of the 'little,' the lowliest, but also of so many simple, upright people who suffer because of abuse, who feel powerless in the face of the perduring social malaise and are tempted to despair. To them Jesus repeats: look at this poor widow, with what tenacity does she insist and in the end succeeds in being heard by a dishonest judge! How could you imagine that your Heavenly Father, who is good and faithful and powerful, who desires only his children's good, would not do justice to you in his own time? Faith assures us that God hears our prayers and grants them at the appropriate moment, although our daily experience seems to deny this certainty. In fact, in the face of certain events in the news or of life's numerous daily hardships which the press does not even mention, the supplication of the ancient Prophet: 'O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you, "Violence!" and you will not save?' (Heb 1:2) wells up in the heart spontaneously. There is one answer to this heartfelt invocation: God cannot change things without our conversion, and our true conversion begins with the 'cry' of the soul imploring forgiveness and salvation. Christian prayer is not, therefore, an expression of fatalism or inertia; on the contrary, it is the opposite of evasion from reality, from consoling intimism. It is the force of hope, the maximum expression of faith in the power of God who is Love and does not abandon us. The prayer Jesus taught us which culminated in Gethsemane has the character of 'competitiveness,' that is, of a struggle because we line up with determination at the Lord's side to fight injustice and conquer evil with good; it is the weapon of the lowly and the poor in spirit, who reject every type of violence. Indeed, they respond to it with evangelical non-violence, thereby testifying that the truth of Love is stronger than hatred and death.

"This also emerges in the First Reading, the famous account of the battle between the Israelites and Amalek's men (cf. Ex 17:8-13a). It was precisely prayer, addressed with faith to the true God, that determined the fate of that harsh conflict. While Joshua and his men were tackling their adversaries on the battlefield, Moses was standing on the hilltop, his hands uplifted in the position of a person praying. These raised hands of the great leader guaranteed Israel's victory. God was with his people; he wanted them to win but made Moses' uplifted hands the condition for his intervention.

"It seems incredible, but that is how it is: God needs the raised hands of his servant! Moses' raised arms are reminiscent of the arms of Jesus on the Cross: the outspread, nailed arms with which the Redeemer won the crucial battle against the infernal enemy. His fight, his arms raised to the Father and wide open for the world, ask for other arms, other hearts that continue to offer themselves with his same love until the end of the world. I am addressing you in particular, dear Pastors of the Church in Naples, making my own the words that St. Paul address to Timothy and that we heard in the Second Reading: remain firm in what you have learned and have believed. Preach the word, persevere on every occasion, in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching (cf. 2 Tim 3:14, 16; 4:2). And like Moses on the mountain, persevere in prayer for and with the faithful entrusted to your pastoral care, so that every day they may be able to face together the good fight of the Gospel. . ."

Fatima Continues To Call To Conversion

In October, the 90th anniversary of the final apparition (October 13, 1917) of Our Lady of Fatima was observed. Our Lady of Fatima continues to call for repentance and conversion.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone represented Pope Benedict XVI at anniversary events in Portugal. In a homily on October 14, Cardinal Bertone said: ". . .We thank God for having had the chance to listen to him today, here in Fatima, the place chosen by Our Lady to offer a motherly message, through the three little shepherd children, to the Church and to the whole world."

"The People who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing. . . for a child is born to us, a Son is given us; upon His shoulder dominion rests. They name Him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace." (Is 9:1-2,5)

The Secretary of State continued: ". . .Dear brothers and sisters, let us now seek to understand the Word of God that has just been proclaimed. The Gospel speaks of the meeting of 10 lepers with Jesus. They are healed by him but only one, a Samaritan, returns to thank him and it is to this grateful foreigner that he says, 'Your faith has made you well' (Lk 17:19). All 10 were 'healed' from their illness, yet only one was 'saved': the one who through his faith glorified God and thanked Jesus. St. Luke stresses that the leper who was saved was a foreigner. Naaman, of whom the first Reading speaks, a commander in the army of the Arameans and sick with leprosy, was also a foreigner. He was healed when, obeying the Prophet Elisha's words, he went to wash in the waters of the River Jordan. The Word of God, as we sang in the refrain of the Responsorial Psalm, sheds light on the fact that 'the salvation of the Lord is for all the peoples.' Universal openness of salvation and fidelity to Israel, which at first sight appear contradictory, are in fact two inseparable and reciprocal aspects of the same saving mystery: it is precisely the intensity and steadfastness of God's love for the people he has chosen that makes this love a 'blessing' for all peoples (cf. Gn 12:3). This is manifested to the most exalted degree in the Cross of Christ, the greatest sign of his dedication to the lost sheep of the House of Israel and, at the same time, of the redemption of all humanity.

"The Word of God, which today resounds in the liturgy throughout the world, acquires a quite special significance for us who hear it in this blessed place, marked 90 years ago by Mary's special presence. Everything here continues to be illuminated by this spiritual presence, which also offers us a perspective for interpreting the message of Scripture that we can sum up like this: Mary was preserved from the leprosy of sin, she lived continually giving thanks to God and became the icon of salvation; 'full of grace,' she is a sign of God's fidelity to his promises, an image and a model of the church, the new Israel open to all peoples; Mary fully participated in the Paschal Mystery of her Son: she died with him and lives with him, with him she persevered, and with him she reigns for ever (cf. 1 Tim 2:11-12).

"The beautiful Lady presented herself to the shepherd children dazzling with light; but in her words and sometimes also on her face, veiled with features of sadness, was a constant reference to the reality of sin; she showed the children her Immaculate Heart, crowned with thorns, and explained that their prayers and sacrifices were needed to atone for all the evils that offended God, in order to bring an end to war and obtain peace for the world. Mary's language was simple and suitable for children, but far from sugary and nothing like the language of a fairy tale. Indeed, she introduced them in very realistic terms into the drama of life; she asked for their collaboration and since she found Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia full of generous willingness, she revealed to them: 'Therefore, you will have much to suffer, but God's grace will be your comfort' (First Apparition, May 13, 1917). The Virgin chooses innocent children as her select collaborators in order to combat with the weapons of prayer and penance, of sacrifice and suffering, the terrible leprosy of sin that corrupts humanity. Why does she do so? Might it not be because this responds to the method of God, who 'chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong... things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are' (1 Cor 1:27, 28). Our thoughts go to the example of the many children who have faced and today still continue to face suffering and illness with serenity, comforting their parents and relatives in moments of such great testing. Among these marvellous figures of miniature apostles of Christ, I am pleased to remember the extraordinary Silvio Dissegna, a little boy from the Piedmont who died of cancer when he was about 12 years old and whose cause of Beatification has already been introduced.

"Ninety years after the apparitions, Fatima continues to be a beacon of comforting hope but also a strong appeal for conversion. The light that Mary made shine into the eyes of the shepherd children and manifested to so many people in the miracle of the sun on October 13, shows that God's grace is stronger than sin and death. Mary invites everyone, however, to convert and repent; she wants simple hearts who generously accept to pray and suffer for the reparation of sins, for the conversion of sinners, and for the salvation of souls. Mary expects a response from all her children! Dear brothers and sisters, let us accept her invitation and remain faithful to our Christian vocation.

"Let us offer fervent prayers every day, especially the Holy Rosary, as well as our suffering in reparation for sin and for world peace. Let us consider ourselves her small and humble children who are anxious to live in praise and glory of the Most Blessed Trinity, to whom this Church is felicitously dedicated. Amen!"

In Defense of Life: Abortions and Catholic Hospitals

Fred H. Summe
Fred H. Summe, vice president of Northern Kentucky Right to Life

by Fred H. Summe

On September 28, 2007, the Connecticut Catholic bishops withdrew their opposition to a Connecticut statute which required all hospitals to provide the so-called "emergency contraception" to victims of rape.

When the legislation was pending last spring, the three Connecticut bishops argued that the proposed legislation requiring hospitals to provide "emergency contraception" would cause a "direct opposition to our religious beliefs that life begins at the moment of conception and as such is a serious violation of a basic tenet of the Catholic faith."

However, on September 28, the bishops announced that their hospitals and clinics would comply with the new statute, stating "…that this law is seriously flawed, but not sufficiently to bar compliance with it at the present time." Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport explained: "Failure of the hospitals to comply would put them and their staff at risk."

What happened? Why last spring was this law "a serious violation" of Catholic moral principles, and now in September, the bishops think it is morally okay? Have the Connecticut bishops abandoned the unborn child in Catholic hospitals, in order to not put themselves and their hospitals "at risk"?

How "Emergency Contraception" Functions

"Emergency contraception (also known as the morning-after pill or EC or Plan B) is a high dosage of the birth control pill. Those who promote EC claim it may be used after sexual intercourse, over a period of 72 hours, to achieve the goal of preventing pregnancy.

"EC consists of multiple doses of pills taken at specific time intervals. Pills used for 'emergency contraception' contain the same steroids found in the typical birth control pill.

"How does it work?

"EC has three possible ways in which it can work:

"1. Ovulation is inhibited, meaning an egg will not be released.

"2. The normal menstrual cycle is altered, delaying ovulation; or

"3. The lining of the uterus is irritated, so that if the first and second actions fail, and a child is conceived, this tiny baby boy or girl will die before he or she can actually attach to the lining of the uterus. In this third action, her body rejects the tiny baby and the child will die. This is called chemical abortion." – American Life League

"While these pills may sometimes have a contraceptive mode of action because they prevent or delay ovulation or fertilization, they are designed to prevent implantation as well.

"Thus, some researchers conclude that interfering with the endometrium 'could explain the majority of cases where pregnancies are prevented by the morning-after pill.'

"Women are being falsely led to believe that these pills are contraceptive in nature. But one of their common and intended modes of action is to prevent the development of the embryo, resulting in his or her death." – Emergency "Contraception" and Early Abortion, published by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Is It Morally Right?

The Connecticut bishops are not the only ones who have addressed this issue. Catholic hospitals in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Colorado, New York, California, and Washington have also approved the giving of "emergency contraception" to victims of sexual assault.

In November 2004, the four Kentucky bishops issued a statement titled CCK Guideline for Catholic Health Care Institutions Treating Victims of Sexual Assault, in which they approved the use of this abortifacient drug in Catholic hospitals in cases of sexual assault. It was ironic that these four bishops had just opposed legislation for the public distribution of that drug, stating: "The primary function of the drug is abortifacient."

The Catholic Medical Association, in its August 2007 edition of Linacre Quarterly, emphatically stated: "...EC [emergency contraception] cannot licitly be distributed, prescribed or taken by those who profess to respect the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. This is especially true for devout Roman Catholics."

The Catholic Medical Association quotes the Vatican Pontifical Academy of Life:

"It is clear, therefore, that the proven 'anti-implantation' action of the morning-after pill is really nothing other than a chemically induced abortion.

"...Consequently, from the ethical standpoint the same absolute unlawfulness of +-abortifacient procedures also applies to distributing, prescribing and taking the morning-after pill. All who, whether sharing the intention or not, directly cooperate with this procedure are also morally responsible for it."

Renowned theologian Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner, a familiar name to those who watch EWTN, stated: "The fact is, if we have any doubt about whether a given action would directly risk someone's life, entail a violation of justice or threaten the salvation of a soul, we may not act on the basis of a scientific probability...That means even if the pill in Plan B is only 'dubiously' abortive, we simply may not use it at all."

Fr. Fehlner, who was the North American Superior for the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate in the United States from 1996 to 2002, continues: " every conception, in itself is a blessing, not an evil to be prevented even by the use of chemical contraceptives which have so far all been shown also to 'contracept' via abortion."

Chris Kahlenborn, M.D., stated bluntly: "The bishops who approve this are approving potential abortions."

Sexual Assault

Some argue that these pills are necessary in cases of rape and incest.

The woman who has conceived a child by the violent act of rape or by incest needs understanding, encouragement, and support by family, friends, and the entire community. An abortion cannot and will not remove the suffering from such trauma nor cause the woman to forget such acts.

"Rape and incest victims actually suffer considerably from the abortion. What are some of the symptoms or rape? The woman feels dirty, guilty, sexually violated, down on herself, angry, and fearful or hateful toward men; she may experience sexual dysfunction, or feel she has lost control of her life.

"Now let's look at the symptoms of abortion. The woman feels dirty, guilty, sexually violated, down on herself, angry, and fearful or hateful toward men; she may experience sexual dysfunction or a loss of control of her life – all the same symptoms.

"So instead of curing the problem, we are intensifying the same symptoms by offering abortion. Abortion, then, is a 'cure' that only aggravates the problem." – David C. Reardon, Director of Eliot Institute for Social Sciences Research

Regardless of the circumstances in which a baby is conceived, an unborn baby is still a baby.

Refugee Challenge Continues

At a November 8 meeting of the United Nations in New York, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Vatican representative, testified about the continuing refugee crisis.

He said: "The Holy See expresses deep appreciation to the UNHCR [United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees] for all its efforts in assisting the 32.9 million persons who have been entrusted to its protection this year. In particular, I note with satisfaction the creative initiatives for more efficient field operations and a better understanding of the challenges, such as the Field Protection Reference Group, the upcoming Dialogue on the challenges of protection centered on the nexus asylum-migration, and the Cluster Approach, which has made possible more precise and coherent interventions in emergency situations.

"In the face of a creeping fatigue and pessimism that appears now and then within the international community in the area of humanitarian assistance, this occasion seems appropriate to recall that the UNHCR is one of the essential instruments with which States and the international community as a whole honor their commitment to protect those who flee their homes for various reasons. However, such responsibility cannot be merely left to the Office of the High Commissioner. Rather, concerned States have the duty to protect those persons and sustain them with firm political will and adequate financial resources. In fulfilling their part, States lay a solid basis on which the UNHCR operations can build upon.

"The challenges are many, complex, and daunting. Our sense of humanity is confronted everyday with news of migrants and refugees — generally a mixture of both and most often undocumented — who try to cross borders in search of safety and better living conditions. In such attempts, many lives are lost everyday. We are not dealing here with sporadic cases. Rather, we have before us masses of peoples on the move for various causes and with varied motivations: peoples driven away from their homes by armed conflicts and persecutions, peoples fleeing from extreme poverty, peoples constrained to migrate because of environmental degradation and natural disasters.

"Preoccupations have been expressed that the status of such peoples is caught in legal grey areas, especially when they move across frontiers of countries or regions with rigid migration policies. Concerns increase when doubts arise regarding the applicability of existing international instruments, or when no legal instruments of protection exist. It seems therefore urgent to consider a coordinated international effort, with a view to seeking greater clarity in existing legal instruments of protection or, if need be, to establishing new ones.

"However, regardless of such legal grey areas and irrespective of their status as refugees, displaced persons, or undocumented migrants, their dignity and human rights cannot be violated nor ignored. Their right to life, to personal security, to liberty of conscience and of religion, to non-discrimination, especially of those most vulnerable like children, come before any legal or political consideration. My delegation therefore appeals to all countries and regions concerned to employ all those measures which are apt to ensure that the human rights of those peoples in such precarious situations are adequately protected and their human dignity respected. . .

"More concretely, we are distressed by the painful conditions of those who flee due to the long-running conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Chad, in Darfur, in Afghanistan, and in numerous other regions, among which the Middle East stands out with its many problems.

"In particular, the Holy See would like once again to draw the attention of the international community to the sufferings of the Iraqi refugees and displaced persons, who flee from indiscriminate attacks, from sectarian and violent acts based on political and religious convictions and on affiliation to specific social groups. This has been the most rapid and massive population displacement during the last years.

"The Holy See wishes to express appreciation to Iraq's neighboring countries which continue to shoulder the burden of welcoming millions of people. The international community must sustain those countries and the UNHCR in their work of ensuring that the Iraqi refugees and displaced persons do not feel abandoned and receive dignified accommodation.

"Pope Benedict XVI and many Catholic institutions have repeatedly appealed for urgent measures needed to guarantee protection of and assistance to those persons, while waiting that conditions in their country improve to allow their return. . .

"These huge humanitarian challenges can only be responsibly faced through factual collaboration among States, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, and civil society. Such collaboration, conducted in reciprocal trust and solidarity, can truly generate coherent and concrete answers to the cry for help of those in need of international protection. . ."

Feeding The Hungry Must Address Human Needs

October 16 marked World Food Day, sponsored by the United Nations. In a message, dated October 4, Pope Benedict XVI wrote the following to Jacques Diouf, Director General of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization:

"This year the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which you direct, invites the international community, remembering once again its foundation, to tackle one of the gravest challenges of our time: freeing millions of human beings from hunger, whose lives are in danger due to a lack of daily bread.

"The theme chosen for this Day: 'The right to food,' fittingly opens the reflections that the international community is preparing to make on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This coincidence helps us to recall the importance that the right to food has for the realization of other rights, beginning above all with the fundamental right to life.

"We must observe that the endeavors made until now have not significantly diminished the numbers of those suffering from hunger in the world, even though all know that food is a primary right. This is perhaps due to the fact that one tends to be solely and principally motivated by technical and economic considerations, forgetting the primary, ethical dimension of 'feeding the hungry.'

"This priority concerns the sentiments of compassion and solidarity proper to the human being, which includes sharing with others not only material goods, but also the love which all need. In effect, we give too little if we offer only material things.

"The available data show that the nonfulfillment of the right to food is not only due to natural causes, but also and above all, to situations provoked by the conduct of men and women that lead to a general deterioration of social, economic, and human standards.

"Increasingly, there are always more people who, because of poverty and bloody conflicts, feel obligated to leave their own home and loved ones in order to search for support outside their own country. In spite of international pledges, many of these people are refused.

"Among the mature members of the Community of Nations, however, a strong awareness is needed that considers food as a universal right of all human beings, without distinction or discrimination.

"The objective of eradicating hunger and at the same time of being able to provide healthy and sufficient food also demands specific methods and actions that mean a wise use of resources that respect Creation's patrimony.

"The result of working in this direction will benefit not only science, research and technology, but also take into account the cycles and rhythm of nature known to the inhabitants of rural areas, thus protecting the traditional customs of the indigenous communities, leaving aside egotistical and exclusively economic motivations.

"The right to food, with all that this implies, has an immediate repercussion on both the individual and communal dimensions, which bring together entire peoples and human groups. I am thinking in a special way of the situation of children - the main victims of this tragedy - who at times are obstacles to their physical and psychological development and in many instances are forced to work or are enlisted in armed groups in exchange for a little food.

"In such cases, I place my hope in the initiatives that have been proposed on many levels in favor of school food programs and which permit the entire community, whose survival is threatened by hunger, to look with great hope to the future.

"A common and concrete commitment is therefore urgently needed in which all members of society, both in the individual as well as the international spheres, feel duty-bound to work together in order to actualize the right to food, for failure to do so constitutes a clear violation of human dignity and of the rights which derive from it.

"Knowledge of the problems of the agricultural world and of a lack of food, demonstrated by a capacity to propose plans and programs to find solutions, is a fundamental merit of the FAO and testifies to the acute sensibility for the aspirations of those conditions put forward for a more human life.

"At this time when there are so many similar problems, it would also be well to find new initiatives that can contribute to alleviating the drama of hunger, and I encourage you to continue to work so that food may be guaranteed that responds to actual needs, and in such a way, that every person, created in the image of God, may grow conformed to his true human dimension.

"The Catholic Church feels close to you in this endeavor and, throughout your diverse institutions, desires to continue to collaborate in order to sustain the aspirations and hopes of those persons and those peoples for which the work of the FAO is directed. . ."

CRS Urges Increased Food Aid Funding

(Editior's Note: Catholic Relief Services provided the following press release on October 16, Word Food Day)

On this commemoration of World Food Day, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is urging Congress to provide increased food aid funding to offset the recent sharp rise in the prices of essential commodities like wheat, corn, and soybean oil.

Without increased funding, CRS could be forced to cut over 800,000 participants from its food aid programs. This threat comes as Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed. . .in his Message for World Food Day that "food is a primary right."

A recent CRS analysis of futures prices indicates a projected shortfall of $320 million in the 2008 fiscal year simply to maintain food aid at the amount provided in the 2006 fiscal year. This projection does not factor in rising costs for freight and other expenses.

CRS projections indicate that the price of wheat will increase by more than 70% in the 2008 fiscal year over 2006 prices. Soy bean oil is expected to increase by more than 45%. These rising prices will restrict the food aid tonnage that can be purchased, and rising freight prices will further eat into the Administration's proposed $1.2 billion food aid budget.

While CRS recognizes that the U.S. has a moral responsibility to respond to emergencies, this effort should not take resources away from the long-term development programs that assist the chronically hungry. Although U.S. law stipulates that 75% of food aid resources should be devoted to programs that address chronic hunger, these development efforts have only received 25% of annual food aid funding in recent years. Most food aid has been used for emergencies. This is simply robbing Peter to pay Paul.

In response, CRS and more than a dozen other humanitarian agencies that distribute food aid worldwide are urging Congress to mandate that at least half the current annual food aid budget - in other words, a minimum of $600 million - be used exclusively for development programs. These food aid programs have a profound effect on the lives of poor and hungry people around the world. They feed millions of people each year, many of them children, and help their families feed themselves over the long-term. Designated funding for long-term development would guarantee that we don't lose the fight against chronic hunger by diverting almost all food aid to short-term emergency uses.

An annual food aid appropriation of at least $2 billion is required to meet the needs for current emergency as well as long-term development programs.

Light to the Nations: A Christian Perspective on World News

ensure religions reject violence

NAPLES, ITALY – Pope Benedict XVI met on October 21 with the heads of religious delegations taking part in an inter-religious meeting. The Pope was in Naples for a pastoral visit, the religious leaders were attending the international Encounter for Peace, organized by the Sant' Egidio Community.

The Pope indicated: ". . . Today's meeting takes us back in spirit to 1986, when my venerable Predecessor John Paul II invited important Religious Representatives to the hills of St. Francis to pray for peace, stressing on that occasion the intrinsic ties that combine an authentic religious attitude with keen sensitivity to this fundamental good of humanity. In 2002, after the dramatic events of September 11 the previous year, John Paul II himself once again summoned Religious Leaders to Assisi to ask God to halt the serious threats that were looming over humanity, due especially to terrorism.

"While respecting the differences of the various religions, we are all called to work for peace and to be effectively committed to furthering reconciliation among peoples. This is the true 'spirit of Assisi' which opposes every form of violence and the abuse of religion as a pretext for violence. In the face of a world torn apart by conflicts, where violence in God's Name is at times justified, it is important to reaffirm that religions can never become vehicles of hatred; it is never possible, invoking God's Name, to succeed in justifying evil and violence. On the contrary, religions can and must offer precious resources to build a peaceful humanity because they speak of peace to the human heart. The Catholic Church intends to continue on the path of dialogue in order to encourage understanding between the different cultures, traditions, and forms of religious wisdom. I warmly hope that this spirit will be spread increasingly, especially where tensions are strongest, where freedom and respect for others are denied, and where men and women suffer the consequences of intolerance and misunderstanding.

"Dear friends, may these days of work and listening be fruitful for all. I address my prayers to Eternal God for this, so that he may pour out upon each one of the participants in the meeting an abundance of his Blessings, wisdom, and love. May he free human hearts of all hatred and uproot all violence, and make us all artisans of the civilization of love."

(Source: L'Osservatore Romano English edition)

faith should guide pharmacists

VAITCAN CITY – On October 29, Pope Benedict XVI addressed members of the International Congress of Catholic Pharmacists. The Pope analyzed some of the issues facing Catholic pharmacists, saying:

". . .The current develop-ment of an arsenal of medicines and the resulting possibilities for treatment oblige pharmacists to reflect on the ever broader functions they are called to fulfill, particularly as intermediaries between doctor and patient; they have an educational role with patients to teach them the proper dosage of their medication and especially to acquaint them with the ethical implications of the use of certain drugs. In this context, it is not possible to anesthetize consciences, for example, concerning the effects of particles whose purpose is to prevent an embryo's implantation or to shorten a person's life. The pharmacist must invite each person to advance humanity, so that every being may be protected from the moment of conception until natural death, and that medicines may fulfill properly their therapeutic role. No person, moreover, may be used thoughtlessly as an object for the purpose of therapeutic experimentation; therapeutic experimentation must take place in accordance with protocols that respect fundamental ethical norms. Every treatment or process of experimentation must be with a view to possible improvement of the person's physical condition and not merely seeking scientific advances. The pursuit of good for humanity cannot be to the detriment of people undergoing treatment. In the moral domain, your Federation is invited to address the issue of conscientious objection, which is a right your profession must recognize, permitting you not to collaborate either directly or indirectly by supplying products for the purpose of decisions that are clearly immoral such as, for example, abortion or euthanasia.

"It would also be advisable that the different pharmaceutical structures, laboratories at hospital centers and surgeries, as well as our contemporaries all together, be concerned with showing solidarity in the therapeutic context, to make access to treatment and urgently needed medicines available at all levels of society and in all countries, particularly to the poorest people.

"Prompted by the Holy Spirit, may you as Catholic pharmacists find in the life of faith and in the Church's teaching elements that will guide you in your professional approach to the sick, who are in need of human and moral support if they are to live with hope and find the inner resources that will help them throughout their lives. It is also your duty to help young people who enter the different pharmaceutical professions to reflect on the increasingly delicate ethical implications of their activities and decisions. To this end, it is important that all Catholic health-care professionals and people of good will join forces to deepen their formation, not only at a technical level but also with regard to bioethical issues, as well as to propose this formation to the profession as a whole. The human being, because he or she is the image of God, must always be the center of research and choices in the biomedical context. At the same time, the natural principle of the duty to provide care for the sick person is fundamental. The biomedical sciences are at the service of the human being; if this were not the case, they would have a cold and inhuman character. All scientific knowledge in the health sector and every therapeutic procedure is at the service of the sick person, viewed in his integral being, who must be an active partner in his treatment and whose autonomy must be respected. . ."

(Source: L'Osservatore Romano English edition)

families to meet in mexico

VATICAN CITY – The World Meeting of Families will be in Mexico from January 16-18. The theme of the meeting is "The family, teacher of human and Christian values."

In an October 1 letter to Cardinal Trugillo, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Pope Benedict XVI said:

". . .As the first school of life and faith and the 'domestic Church,' the family is called to educate the new generations in the human and Christian values so that in modelling its life on the example of Christ, it may shape within them a harmonious personality.

"In this task, so crucial for the human person who cannot be reduced merely to knowing how to use realities within his reach but strives above all to seek and to commit himself to the ideals and models of behavior which make him 'superior to bodily things' (Gaudium et Spes, n. 14), it is also necessary to rely on schools, parishes, and the various ecclesial groups that encourage the human being's integral education.

"At a time when there is frequently a gap between what people say they are doing and the actual way they live and behave, this upcoming World Meeting of Families is resolved to encourage Christian homes to form an upright moral conscience, which will help them, strengthened by God's grace, to follow faithfully his will which he revealed to us through Jesus Christ and has inscribed in the depths of every person's heart (ibid., n. 16). . ."

(Source: L'Osservatore Romano English edition)

Pray The News

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.

  • We pray for all to give themselves to the Baby Jesus this Christmas season.
  • We pray for peace throughout the world and especially in the Middle East.
  • We pray for an end to abortion, euthanasia, violence, and all threats to life.
  • We pray for the poor and the hungry.
  • We pray for all Catholic institutions to faithfully follow the teachings of the Church.

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