"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
Remembering Pope John Paul II: Prophet, Witness, And Servant
Be Witnesses Of Joy Of The Risen Lord
In Defense of Life: Emergency Contraception
Rediscover Jesus In Confession
Children Should Be At Center Of Concern
Light to the Nations: A Christian Perspective on World News
Pray The News
The second anniversary of Pope John Paul II's death was marked with an April 2 Mass in St. Peter's Square, Vatican City. In his homily, Pope Benedict XVI said:
"Two years ago, at a slightly later hour than now, beloved Pope John Paul II departed this world for the house of the Father.
"With this celebration, let us first of all renew our thanksgiving to God for having given him to us for well near 27 years as a father and reliable guide in the faith, a zealous Pastor and courageous prophet of hope, a tireless witness and passionate servant of God's love.
"As we offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice in suffrage for his chosen soul, we remember the unforgettable devotion with which he celebrated the Holy Mysteries and adored the Sacrament of the Altar, the center of his life and of his untiring mission. . ."
Referring to the Gospel passage, the Pope continued: "Not only pregnant with Paschal significance, the narrative of the supper at Bethany is imbued with an anguishing resonance filled with love and devotion, a mist of joy and pain: festive joy at the visit of Jesus and his disciples, at the resurrection of Lazarus, and at the Passover now at hand; deep sorrow because this Passover might be the last, as they were led to fear by the scheming of the Jews who desired the death of Jesus and by the threats to Lazarus whose death they were also planning.
"One action in this Gospel passage is drawn to our attention, and which even now speaks to our hearts in a special way: Mary of Bethany, at a certain point, 'took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair' (Jn 12:3). This is one of those details of Jesus' life which St. John cherished among his dearest memories and which is charged with inexhaustible feeling.
"He speaks of love for Christ, a superabundant, wondrous love like that 'costly' ointment poured over his feet. This event symptomatically shocked Judas Iscariot: the logic of love clashed with the logic of profit.
"For us, gathered in prayer in memory of my Venerable Predecessor, the gesture of the anointing of Mary of Bethany is full of spiritual echoes and suggestions. It evokes John Paul II's shining witness of love for Christ, unreserved and unstinting.
"The 'house,' that is, the entire Church, 'was filled with the "fragrance"' of his love (cf. Jn 12:3).
"Of course, we who were close to him benefited from it and are grateful to God, but even those who knew him from afar were able to enjoy it because Pope Wojtyla's love for Christ was so strong, so intense, we could say, that it overflowed in every region of the world.
"Was not the esteem, respect, and affection expressed to him at his death by believers and non-believers alike an eloquent witness of this?
"St. Augustine wrote, commenting on this passage of John's Gospel: '"The house was filled with the fragrance." The world is filled with the fame of a good character: for a good character is like a sweet scent . . .Through the good, the name of the Lord is honored' (In Io. Evang. tr. 50, 7).
"This is really true; the intense and fruitful pastoral ministry and, even more, the calvary of the agony and serene death of our beloved Pope showed the people of our time that Jesus Christ was truly his 'all.'
"The fruitfulness of this witness, as we know, depended on the Cross. In Karol Wojtyla's life, the word 'cross' was not merely a word. From his childhood, he was familiar with suffering and death. As priest and Bishop and especially as Supreme Pontiff, he took most seriously the Risen Christ's last call to Simon Peter on the shore of the Lake of Galilee: 'Follow me. . .Follow me!' (Jn 21:19, 22).
"His whole life, particularly with the slow but implacable advance of the disease which gradually stripped him of everything, became an offering to Christ, a living proclamation of his passion in hope brimming with faith in the resurrection.
"He lived his Pontificate in the sign of 'prodigality,' generously spending himself without reserve. What motivated him other than mystical love for Christ, for the One who, on October 16, 1978, had him called with the ceremonial words: 'Magister adest et vocat te — the Teacher is here and is calling you'?
"On April 2, 2005, the Teacher called him again, this time without intermediaries, in order to take him home to the house of the Father. And once again he promptly responded with his brave heart in a whisper: 'Let me go to the Lord' (cf. S. Dziwisz, Una vita con Karol, p. 223).
"He had been preparing for a long time for this last encounter with Jesus, as the various drafts of his Testament reveal.
"During the long periods he spent in his private chapel he spoke to Jesus, abandoning himself totally to his will, and entrusted himself to Mary, repeating the Totus tuus. Like his Divine Teacher, he lived his agony in prayer. On the last day of his life, on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday, he asked that the Gospel of John be read to him.
"With the help of those who were nursing him, he wanted to take part in all the daily prayers and in the Liturgy of the Hours, he wanted to do adoration and meditation. He died while he was praying. He truly fell asleep in the Lord.
'"And the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment' (Jn 12:3).
"Let us return to this most evocative annotation by the Evangelist John. The Pope's sweet scent of faith, hope, and charity filled his house, filled St. Peter's Square, filled the Church, and spread throughout the world.
"What happened after his death was for believers an effect of that 'fragrance' which reached everyone near and far and attracted them to a man whom God had gradually conformed to his Christ.
"For this reason, we can apply to him the words of the first Song of the Servant of the Lord which we heard in the First Reading: 'Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him, he will bring forth justice to the nations. . .' (Is 42:1).
"'Servant of God': this is what he was and this is what we in the Church call him now, while the process of his Beatification continues.
"This morning, the diocesan investigation into his life, virtues, and fame of sanctity was concluded. 'Servant of God,' a particularly appropriate title for him. The Lord called him to his service on the path of the priesthood and little by little unfolded before him ever broader horizons: from his own Diocese to the universal Church.
"This dimension of universality reached its apex at the moment of his death, an event the whole world lived with a participation unprecedented in history.
"Dear brothers and sisters, the Responsorial Psalm has placed words full of trust on our lips. In the Communion of Saints, we seem to hear them spoken aloud by our beloved John Paul II, who, from the Father's House, we are sure of it, never ceases to accompany the Church on her way: 'Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord!' (Ps 27: 13-14).
"Yes, let your heart take courage, dear brothers and sisters, and burn with hope! With this invitation in our hearts let us continue the Eucharistic Celebration, already looking at the light of the Resurrection of Christ that will shine out in the Easter Vigil after the dramatic darkness of Good Friday.
"May the Totus tuus of the beloved Pontiff encourage us to follow him on the path of the gift of ourselves to Christ through the intercession of Mary, and may she herself, the Virgin Mary, obtain it for us while we entrust to her motherly hands this father, brother, and friend of ours, that he may rest in God and rejoice in peace. Amen."
In his Easter Urbi et orbi (to the city and the world), Pope Benedict XVI called Christians to witness to the Risen Christ.
The Holy Father stated: "Christ is risen! Peace to you! Today we celebrate the great mystery, the foundation of Christian faith and hope: Jesus of Nazareth, the Crucified One, has risen from the dead on the third day according to the Scriptures. We listen today with renewed emotion to the announcement proclaimed by the angels on the dawn of the first day after the Sabbath, to Mary of Magdala and to the women at the sepulchre: 'Why do you search among the dead for one who is alive? He is not here, He is risen!' (Lk 24:5-6).
"It is not difficult to imagine the feelings of these women at that moment: feelings of sadness and dismay at the death of their Lord, feelings of disbelief and amazement before a fact too astonishing to be true. But the tomb was open and empty: the body was no longer there. Peter and John, having been informed of this by the women, ran to the sepulchre and found that they were right. The faith of the Apostles in Jesus, the expected Messiah, had been submitted to a severe trial by the scandal of the cross. At his arrest, his condemnation and death, they were dispersed. Now they are together again, perplexed and bewildered. But the Risen One himself comes in response to their thirst for greater certainty. This encounter was not a dream or an illusion or a subjective imagination; it was a real experience, even if unexpected, and all the more striking for that reason. 'Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "peace be with you!'" (Jn 20:19).
"At these words their faith, which was almost spent within them, was re-kindled. The Apostles told Thomas who had been absent from that first extraordinary encounter: Yes, the Lord has fulfilled all that he foretold; he is truly risen and we have seen and touched him! Thomas, however, remained doubtful and perplexed. When Jesus came for a second time, eight days later in the Upper Room, he said to him: 'put your finger here and see My hands; and put out your hand and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing!' The Apostle's response is a moving profession of faith: "My Lord and my God!" (Jn 20:27-28).
"'My Lord and my God!' We too renew that profession of faith of Thomas. I have chosen these words for my Easter greetings this year, because humanity today expects from Christians a renewed witness to the resurrection of Christ; it needs to encounter him and to know him as true God and true man. If we can recognize in this Apostle the doubts and uncertainties of so many Christians today, the fears and disappointments of many of our contemporaries, with him we can also rediscover with renewed conviction, faith in Christ dead and risen for us. This faith, handed down through the centuries by the successors of the Apostles, continues on because the Risen Lord dies no more. He lives in the Church and guides it firmly towards the fulfillment of his eternal design of salvation.
"We may all be tempted by the disbelief of Thomas. Suffering, evil, injustice, death, especially when it strikes the innocent such as children who are victims of war and terrorism, of sickness and hunger, does not all of this put our faith to the test? Paradoxically the disbelief of Thomas is most valuable to us in these cases because it helps to purify all false concepts of God and leads us to discover his true face: the face of a God who, in Christ, has taken upon himself the wounds of injured humanity. Thomas has received from the Lord, and has in turn transmitted to the Church, the gift of a faith put to the test by the passion and death of Jesus and confirmed by meeting him risen. His faith was almost dead but was born again thanks to his touching the wounds of Christ, those wounds that the Risen One did not hide but showed, and continues to point out to us in the trials and sufferings of every human being.
"'By his wounds you have been healed' (1 Pt 2:24). This is the message Peter addressed to the early converts. Those wounds that, in the beginning were an obstacle for Thomas's faith, being a sign of Jesus' apparent failure, those same wounds have become in his encounter with the Risen One, signs of a victorious love. These wounds that Christ has received for love of us help us to understand who God is and to repeat: 'My Lord and my God!' Only a God who loves us to the extent of taking upon himself our wounds and our pain, especially innocent suffering, is worthy of faith.
"How many wounds, how much suffering there is in the world! Natural calamities and human tragedies that cause innumerable victims and enormous material destruction are not lacking. My thoughts go to recent events in Madagascar, in the Solomon Islands, in Latin America, and in other regions of the world. I am thinking of the scourge of hunger, of incurable diseases, of terrorism and kidnapping of people, of the thousand faces of violence which some people attempt to justify in the name of religion, of contempt for life, of the violation of human rights, and the exploitation of persons. I look with apprehension at the conditions prevailing in several regions of Africa. In Darfur and in the neighboring countries there is a catastrophic, and sadly to say underestimated, humanitarian situation. In Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo the violence and looting of the past weeks raises fears for the future of the Congolese democratic process and the reconstruction of the country. In Somalia the renewed fighting has driven away the prospect of peace and worsened a regional crisis, especially with regard to the displacement of populations and the traffic of arms. Zimbabwe is in the grip of a grievous crisis and for this reason the Bishops of that country in a recent document indicated prayer and a shared commitment for the common good as the only way forward.
"Likewise the population of East Timor stands in need of reconciliation and peace as it prepares to hold important elections. Elsewhere too, peace is sorely needed: in Sri Lanka only a negotiated solution can put an end to the conflict that causes so much bloodshed; Afghanistan is marked by growing unrest and instability; in the Middle East, besides some signs of hope in the dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian authority, nothing positive comes from Iraq, torn apart by continual slaughter as the civil population flees. In Lebanon the paralysis of the country's political institutions threatens the role that the country is called to play in the Middle East and puts its future seriously in jeopardy. Finally, I cannot forget the difficulties faced daily by the Christian communities and the exodus of Christians from that blessed Land which is the cradle of our faith. I affectionately renew to these populations the expression of my spiritual closeness.
"Dear brothers and sisters, through the wounds of the Risen Christ we can see the evils which afflict humanity with the eyes of hope. In fact, by his rising the Lord has not taken away suffering and evil from the world but has vanquished them at their roots by the superabundance of his grace. He has countered the arrogance of evil with the supremacy of his love. He has left us the love that does not fear death, as the way to peace and joy. 'Even as I have loved you – he said to his disciples before his death – so you must also love one another' (cf. Jn 13:34).
"Brothers and sisters in faith, who are listening to me from every part of the world! Christ is risen and he is alive among us. It is he who is the hope of a better future. As we say with Thomas: 'My Lord and my God!,' may we hear again in our hearts the beautiful yet demanding words of the Lord: 'If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him" (Jn 12:26). United to him and ready to offer our lives for our brothers (cf. 1 Jn 3:16), let us become apostles of peace, messengers of a joy that does not fear pain – the joy of the Resurrection. May Mary, Mother of the Risen Christ, obtain for us this Easter gift. Happy Easter to you all."
Fred H. Summe, vice president of Northern Kentucky Right to Life
The Federal Drug Administration, with the backing and approval of President Bush, has now approved the dispensing of the so-called "emergency contraception" / "morning after pill" by local pharmacists. The destruction of unborn children reaches a more intense level.
The clear and conclusive medical and ethical authorities demonstrate that the use of the "emergency contraception" impedes the implantation of the newly conceived child, resulting in his or her death, and thus is a chemical abortion. The so-called "emergency contraception" is simply a chemical abortion, equally immoral as a surgical abortion.
When Does Human Life Begin?
"It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception, when the egg and sperm join to form the zygote, and that this developing human always is a member of our species in all stages of its life. There is not one medical text in use in one medical school in this country that teaches to the contrary." – Micheline Matthews Roth, M.D., Principal Research Associate of Harvard University Medical School
"After fertilization has taken place, a new human being has come into being. . . This is no longer a matter of taste or opinion. Each individual has a very neat beginning at conception." – Dr. Jerome LeJeune, Genetics Professor at the University of Descartes in Paris, internationally famous scientist who discovered the Down's Syndrome chromosome
How "Emergency Contraception" Functions
"Emergency contraception (also known as the morning-after pill or EC) 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. The number of pills depends on the specific brand. 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
Of course, the Catholic Church clearly condemns chemical abortion as equally evil with surgical abortion.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has addressed specifically the question of treatments morally permissible to a victim of rape or incest: "It is not permissible, however, to initiate or to recommend treatments that have as their purpose or direct effect the removal, destruction, or interference with the implantation of a fertilized ovum." – Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Healthcare Services, Directive 36 (2001)
Rape and Incest
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 of 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
"Abortion for incest victims sounds compassionate, caring, and heroic; but, in actual practice, it is simply another violent and deceptive tool in the hand of the abuser...abortion does absolutely nothing to protect a young girl from continued abuse and, in fact, aids and abets the abuser in his crime." – Mary Jean Doe (a pseudonym), a member of Feminists for Life and a victim of incest
Regardless of the circumstances in which a baby is conceived, an unborn baby is still a baby.
What Are You Supporting?
Where do you have your prescriptions filled? At one of the large chains of drugstores, or at a local pharmacy? No matter which one it is, you need to ask the pharmacists whether they make available the so-called "emergency contraception."
If the response is no, we need to encourage this. On the other hand, if they respond in the affirmative, we need to discourage this by informing them that we have no choice but to shop elsewhere.
Our clear witness is needed to change the hearts and minds of pharmacists, who may well be the ones who advise someone to love the one growing within.
In a March 16 address to participants in a course on the sacrament of penance, Pope Benedict XVI stressed the importance of this sacrament in our day and "the necessity for priests to prepare themselves to administer it with devotion and fidelity to the praise of God and for the sanctification of the Christian people, as they promise to their Bishop on the day of their priestly ordination."
The Pope continued: "In fact, it is one of the qualifying duties of the special ministry that they are called to exercise 'in persona Christi.' With the gestures and sacramental words the priest above all makes God's love visible, which was revealed fully in Christ.
"In the administration of the Sacrament of Pardon and of Reconciliation, the priest — as the Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls — acts as 'the sign and the instrument of God's merciful love for the sinner' (n. 1465). What takes place in this Sacrament, therefore, is especially a mystery of love, a work of the merciful love of the Lord.
"'God is love' (1 Jn 4:16): in this simple affirmation the Evangelist John has enclosed the revelation of the entire mystery of the Triune God. And in meeting with Nicodemus, Jesus, foretelling his passion and death on the Cross, affirms: 'For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life' (Jn 3:16).
"We all need to draw from the inexhaustible fountain of divine love, which is totally manifested to us in the mystery of the Cross, in order to find authentic peace with God, with ourselves, and with our neighbor. Only from this spiritual source is it possible to draw the indispensable interior energy to overcome the evil and sin in the ceaseless battle that marks our earthly pilgrimage toward the heavenly homeland.
"The contemporary world continues to present contradictions so clearly outlined by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council (cf. Gaudium et Spes, nn. 4-10): we see a humanity that would like to be self-sufficient, where more than a few consider it almost possible to do without God in order to live well; and yet how many seem sadly condemned to face the dramatic situations of an empty existence, how much violence there still is on the earth, how much solitude weighs on the soul of the humanity of the communications era!
"In a word, it seems that today there is even loss of the 'sense of sin,' but in compensation the 'guilt complex' has increased.
"Who can free the heart of humankind from this yoke of death if not the One who by dying overcame forever the power of evil with the omnipotence of divine love?
"As St. Paul reminded the Christians of Ephesus: 'God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ' (Eph 2:4).
"The priest in the Sacrament of Confession is the instrument of this merciful love of God, whom he invokes in the formula of the absolution of sins: 'God, the Father of mercies, through the death and Resurrection of his Son, has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church, may God grant you pardon and peace.'
"The New Testament speaks on every page of God's love and mercy, which are made visible in Christ. Jesus, in fact, who 'receives sinners and eats with them' (Lk 15:2), and with authority affirms: 'Man, your sins are forgiven you' (Lk 5:20), says: 'Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick do; I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance' (Lk 5:31-32).
"The duty of the priest and the confessor is primarily this: to bring every person to experience the love of Christ, encountering him on the path of their own lives as Paul met him on the road to Damascus. We know the impassioned declaration of the Apostle to the Gentiles after that meeting which changed his life: '[he] loved me and gave himself for me' (Gal 2:20).
"This is his personal experience on the way to Damascus: the Lord Jesus loved Paul and gave himself for him. And in Confession this is also our way, our way to Damascus, our experience: Jesus has loved me and has given himself for me.
"May every person have this same spiritual experience and, as the Servant of God John Paul II said, rediscover 'Christ as mysterium pietatis, the one in whom God shows us his compassionate heart and reconciles us fully with himself. It is this face of Christ that must be rediscovered through the Sacrament of Penance' (John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte, n. 37).
"The priest, minister of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, must always consider it his duty to make transpire, in words and in drawing near to the penitent, the merciful love of God. Like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, to welcome the penitent sinner, to help him rise again from sin, to encourage him to amend himself, never making pacts with evil but always taking up again the way of evangelical perfection. May this beautiful experience of the prodigal son, who finds the fullness of divine mercy in the father, be the experience of whoever confesses in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
"Dear brothers, all this means that the priest engaged in the ministry of the Sacrament of Penance is himself motivated by a constant tending to holiness. The Catechism of the Catholic Church aims high in this demand when it affirms: 'The confessor. . .should have a proven knowledge of Christian behavior, experience of human affairs, respect and sensitivity toward the one who has fallen; he must love the truth, be faithful to the Magisterium of the Church, and lead the penitent with patience toward healing and full maturity. He must pray and do penance for his penitent, entrusting him to the Lord's mercy' (n. 1466).
"To be able to fulfill this important mission, always interiorly united to the Lord, the priest must be faithful to the Church's Magisterium concerning moral doctrine, aware that the law of good and evil is not determined by the situation, but by God.
"I ask the Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, to sustain the ministry of priest confessors and to help every Christian community to understand ever more the value and importance of the Sacrament of Penance for the spiritual growth of every one of the faithful. . .
The Vatican delegation to the United Nations addressed issues concerning children at a meeting of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child March 23 in Geneva, Switzerland. Msgr. Silvano Tomasi represented the Holy See. He stated:
"The Delegation of the Holy See very much welcomes the attention given to child protection and to children's rights in recent studies and debates. In fact the child should not only be placed high on the political agenda but right at the center of concern: the future of society depends on children and on how they are prepared for it, and their vulnerability calls for special protection. A child is neither an instrument nor an object. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child attributes to the child the fundamental rights of a person; it recognizes the child to have the same equality and dignity as any adult person. In its preamble, it affirms that because of its immaturity the child 'needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection before as well as after birth.' Respect of children is respect of humanity.
"In many cases, due to lack of will and of resources, good legal provisions and public policies are not implemented, with grave consequences for children. They often become the first victims of famines and wars. They are crippled by unexploded munitions, deprived of schooling, lack sufficient food, are obliged to sleep and survive on sidewalks in urban centers, sick with AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis without the possibility of medicaments, sold to traffickers, recruited into irregular armies, uprooted by forced displacements, compelled into long hours of debilitating work. These millions of young victims are a vivid symbol of existing inequalities and failing systems. Unfortunately these are not the only contradictions affecting children in our globalized world. To many children the right to life is denied; prenatal selection eliminates both babies suspected to be with disabilities and female children simply because of their sex and thus deny the equal and intrinsic value of disabled persons and of girls for their families and for society. In a variety of ways violence against children goes on, a humiliating violation of their rights as human beings.
"If respect of the human rights of children measures the health of a society, then the legal recognition of these rights is urgent. The first right of children is that of being born and educated in a welcoming and secure family environment where their physical, psychological, and spiritual growth is guaranteed, their potential is developed, and where the awareness of personal dignity becomes the base for relating to others and for confronting the future. The target of eliminating violence against children and of providing a constructive and healthy context for their development demands that the State and society concretely support and enable the family to carry out its task. A vital way, in fact, to counteract the vulnerability of children is to strengthen the families in which they are meant to grow, to thrive, and to be formed as responsible and productive citizens in their local communities and in the wider society. Governments must assume their rightful role to protect and promote family life because the family has obvious vital and organic links with society. The creation of conditions leading to peace and economic progress, a continued responsibility of the national and the international communities, will open the way to reducing and eventually eliminating those situations that hurt children in a disproportionate way. My Delegation certainly agrees that all forms of violence against children are unjustifiable, preventable, and must be stopped.
"A coherent effort to eliminate violence against children will therefore reject the exaltation of violence in the public culture of society. Education becomes a critical instrument to instill not just tolerance for coexistence in today's societies experiencing everywhere a greater pluralism, but appreciation and respect of others, openness to dialogue in a concerted search for the common good, and even to love as a more constructive bond for the orderly functioning of society. It would turn into a new form of violence against children if the State were to impose a specific model of moral conscience on children without taking into consideration the moral and religious convictions of parents. Civil society has a major role to play in supporting the family and counteracting all forms of violence against children. On her part, the Catholic Church's over 300,000 social, caring, and educational institutions work daily to ensure both a peace-oriented and creative education for children, and the development of their talents, and to provide the reintegration of abused and neglected children into their families, if possible, and into society. . .
"Children are both weakness and hope. To pursue the defense of their rights and the elimination of all forms of violence against them remains an institutional challenge for the international community. Success will be reached if priority is given to the natural role of the family and to the public culture that recognizes that children too are full human persons. . .
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – During a visit this week to Israel and the Palestinian territories, Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, D.C., and member of the Board of Directors of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), called for continuing active U.S. involvement to support a just peace in the Holy Land that would guarantee security for Israel and a viable state for Palestinians.
The Cardinal met with local religious leaders of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian faiths, as well as government officials, including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, during a visit Wednesday to Gaza City. In addition, he had the opportunity to meet with youth groups and student leaders in Gaza who are helping to promote peace within their schools and local communities.
"We truly believe that peace in the Holy Land is a key to peace in the Middle East," Cardinal McCarrick said. "The U.S. has a unique opportunity to act as an honest broker and seek a two-state solution that gives Israel the ability to exist securely within its borders, and at the same time, allows Palestinians to feel at home in a viable state of their own."
The Cardinal met. . .with the recently formed Council for Interreligious Institutions, which brings together the leaders of the three faith communities in Jerusalem. After the meeting, he indicated there is reason for hope, but remarked "the time is shortening, and there is always concern a disaster could arise which could put the progress of peace back."
A new United Nations report finds nearly half of households in the Palestinian territories are malnourished as a result of the current conflict and the international boycott of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority. CRS provides emergency food assistance to a combined 150,000 people in the West Bank and Gaza and also supports programs in education, job creation, and youth development.
In January, Cardinal McCarrick led an inter-faith delegation that met with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to promote peace in the Holy Land as a priority for foreign policy. Members represented the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East (NILI), a group of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian leaders committed to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and active U.S. leadership in the peace process.
(Source: Catholic Relief Services press release)
ROME, ITALY – Msgr. Pietro Parlin, Vatican representative, spoke of factors concerned in working for peace in the Middle East in a March 22 meeting of a United Nations Committee for the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People at F.A.O. headquarters. He said: ". . . The Holy See has always followed with particular attention the events of recent decades: thousands of Catholics live in this land, which we like to call the 'Holy Land' since it preserves the living memory of the events which have marked our history of salvation. Millions of Catholics and Christians throughout the world look to this land, with the hope of being able to travel there on pilgrimage.
"Recently Pope Benedict XVI himself wished to emphasize this attentiveness by addressing a letter to the Catholics who live in the Middle East. He noted that 'in the present circumstances, marked little by light and too much by darkness, it is a cause of consolation and hope for me to know that the Christian communities in the Middle East, whose intense suffering I am well aware of, continue to be vital and active communities, resolute in bearing witness to their faith with their specific identity in the societies in which they are situated. They wish to contribute in a constructive manner to the urgent needs of their respective societies and the whole region.'
"In this letter, the Pope sets out in concrete detail how this constructive contribution should take place. I take the liberty of quoting the relevant passages, since these contain very useful recommendations as to the spirit in which the work of creating the conditions for a true and just peace between Israelis and Palestinians should be undertaken: 'The daily news coming from the Middle East shows a growth of alarming situations, seemingly with no possible escape. They are events which naturally give rise, in those involved, to recriminations and rage, leading them to thoughts of retaliation and revenge. We know that these are not Christian sentiments; to give in to them would leave us callous and spiteful, far from that "gentleness and lowliness" which Jesus Christ proposed to us as the model of behavior. Indeed, we could lose the opportunity to make a properly Christian contribution to the solution of the grave problems of our time. It would not be at all wise, especially now, to spend our time asking who has suffered the most or presenting an account of injustices suffered, listing the reasons which reinforce one's own argument. This has often happened in the past, with results which to say the least were disappointing. Suffering in the end affects everyone, and when one person suffers he should first of all wish to understand how much someone else in a similar situation suffers. Patient and humble dialogue, achieved through listening to each other and being intent upon understanding someone else's situation has already borne positive results in many countries previously devastated by violence and revenge. A little more trust in the compassion of others, especially those suffering, cannot but bear efficacious results. Today, many parties rightly plead for this interior disposition. . . Through you, my dearly beloved, I wish to make an appeal to your fellow citizens, men and women of the different Christian confessions, of different religions, and all who honestly seek peace, justice, and solidarity by listening and sincere dialogue. I say to you all: persevere with courage and trust! I appeal to those who hold positions of responsibility in guiding events to cultivate that sensitivity, attentiveness, and closeness which surpass schemes and strategies so that they can build societies that are more peaceful and just, truly respectful of every human being. . .'"
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.
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