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My People

Vol. 20, Issue 8, August 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

St. Francis of Assisi: Lover of Jesus And His Church
Work Is Key Component For Social Justice
Global Refugee Population Is Increasing
Light to the Nations: A Christian Perspective on World News
In Defense of Life: Celebration For Life
Historic Encyclical Led To Missionary Innovation
Pray The News


St. Francis of Assisi: Lover of Jesus And His Church

Pope Benedict XVI marked the 800th anniversary of the conversion of St. Francis of Assisi with a visit to Assisi in June.

On June 17, he met with youth in the square in front of the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels. The Pope said:

". . .Here, with Francis, the heart of a Mother, the 'Virgin made Church,' as he liked to invoke her, welcomes us (cf. Salut BVM, 1). Francis had a special affection for the little Church of the Portiuncula, kept in this Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels. It was among the churches that gave him shelter in the first years of his conversion and where he listened to and meditated on the Gospel of the mission (cf. 1 Cel I, 9, 22).

"After the first steps at Rivotorto, it was here that he placed the 'headquarters' of the Order, where the friars could gather almost as if in a maternal womb to restore themselves and to set out again, full of apostolic zeal.

"Here all had access to a font of mercy in the experience of the 'great pardon' which all of us always need. Lastly, here he lived his meeting with 'sister death.'

"Dear young people, you know that what brought me to Assisi was the desire to relive the interior journey of Francis on the occasion of the eighth centenary of his conversion.

"This moment of my Pilgrimage has a particular significance. I think of this moment as the climax of my day.

"St. Francis speaks to all, but I know that for you young people he has a special attraction. Your numerous presence here confirms it for me. . .His conversion came about when he was in the prime of life, of his experience, of his dreams. He had spent 25 years without coming to terms with the meaning of life. A few months before he died, he would recall that period as the time when he 'was in sin' (cf. 2 Testament 1).

"What was Francis' thought concerning sin? According to biographies, each one according to its own view, it is not easy to determine. A meaningful portrait of his way of living is found in the Legend of the Three Companions (LTC), where one reads: 'Francis was always happy and generous, dedicated to play and song, roaming through the town of Assisi day and night with friends like him, spend-thrifts, dissipating all that they could have or earn on lunches and other things' (3 LTC 1, 2).

"Of how many of today's youth could something similar be said? Then today, there is also the possibility of going far from one's city to have fun. The initiatives for relaxation during the weekend attract many young people. One can even 'surf' virtually, 'navigating' on the Internet and seeking every type of information or contact.

"Unfortunately, there is no lack of – and rather, there are many, too many! – young people who seek mental scenes as fatuous as they are destructive in the artificial paradise of drugs. How can it be denied that there are many young people, and not so young people, who are tempted to emulate the life of Francis before his conversion?

"In that way of living there was the desire for happiness that dwells in every human heart. But could that life bring true joy? Francis certainly did not find it.

"You yourselves, dear young people, can verify this beginning with your experience. The truth is that finite things can give only a faint idea of joy, but only the Infinite can fill the heart. Another great convert said so, St. Augustine: 'You made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you' (Confessions 1, 1).

"Again the same biographical text tells us that Francis was rather vain. He liked to have sumptuous clothing made for him and sought originality (cf. 3 LTS 1, 2).

"In vanity, in the quest for originality, there is something that in some way touches all of us. Today, 'taking care of one's image' or of 'seeking an image' is often spoken of. To be able to have a minimum of success, we need to win approval in the eyes of others with something unheard of, original.

"To a certain extent this can express an innocent desire to be accepted. But often pride, excessive self-seeking, egoism, and the desire to dominate creep in.

"In reality, centering life upon oneself is a mortal trap: we can be ourselves only if we open ourselves in love, loving God and our brothers and sisters.

"An aspect that impressed the contemporaries of Francis was also his ambition, his thirst for glory and adventure. It was this that led him to the battlefield, where he ended as a prisoner for a year in Perugia. The same thirst for glory, when freed, would take him to Apulia, on a new military expedition, but precisely in this circumstance, at Spoleto, the Lord made Himself present in his heart and inspired him to retrace his steps and listen seriously to His Word.

"It is interesting to notice how the Lord took Francis in his stride, that of wanting to affirm himself, in order to indicate to him the path of a holy ambition focused on the Infinite: 'Who can be more useful to you, the master or the servant?' (LTC 2, 6), was the question that he heard resound in his heart. It was as if to say: why be content to be dependent on men when there is a God ready to welcome you into his house, into his royal service?

"Dear young people, you reminded me about some problems concerning youth, of your difficulty to build a future, and above all how to discern the truth.

"In Christ's passion narrative we find Pilate's question: 'What is truth?' (Jn 18:38). It is the question of a skeptic who asks: 'But, you say you are the truth, but what is the truth?' And thus, with truth being unrecognizable, Pilate lets it be understood: we act according to what is most practical, what is most successful and not seeking the truth. He then condemns Jesus to death because he follows pragmatism, success, his own fortune.

"Many today also say: 'But what is the truth? We can find fragments, but how can we find the truth?' It is really hard to believe that this is the truth: Jesus Christ, the true Life, the compass of our life. And yet, if we begin, as it is very tempting to do, to live for the moment without truth, we really lose the criteria and we also lose the foundation of common peace which alone can be the truth.

"And this truth is Christ. The truth of Christ has been proven in the lives of the saints in all ages. The saints are the great trails of light in history that attest: this is the life, this is the way, this is the truth. Therefore, we have the courage to say 'yes' to Jesus Christ: 'Your truth is proven in the lives of many saints. We will follow you!'

". . .St. Francis heard . . .in his heart the voice of Christ, and what happened? He came to understand that he had to place himself at the service of his brethren, above all those suffering most. This is the consequence of that first encounter with the voice of Christ.

"This morning, passing by Rivotorto, I glanced at the place where, according to tradition, the lepers were gathered: the least, the marginalized, for whom Francis felt an irrepressible sense of disgust.

"Touched by grace he opened his heart to them. And he did it not only from a pious gesture of charity, which would be too little, but by kissing them and serving them. He himself confesses that what at first had been bitter, became for him 'sweetness of soul and body' (cf. 2 Test. 3).

"Grace, therefore, began to form Francis. He became ever more able to fix his gaze on the Face of Christ and to listen to His voice. It was at that point that the Crucifix of San Damiano spoke to him, calling him to a difficult mission: 'Go, Francis, and repair my house which, as you can see, is all in ruins' (cf. 2 Cel I, 6, 10).

"This morning, being at San Damiano, and then at the Basilica of St. Clare where the original Crucifix that spoke to Francis is kept, I too fixed my eyes on those eyes of Christ. It is the image of the Crucified and Risen Christ, life of the Church, that speaks also in us if we are attentive, as 2,000 years ago He spoke to his Apostles and 800 years ago He spoke to Francis. The Church continually lives by this encounter.

"Yes, dear young people: may we let ourselves encounter Christ! We entrust ourselves to his Word. In him there is not only a fascinating human being.

"Certainly, he is fully human and similar to us in everything except sin (cf. Heb 4:15). But he is also much more: God is made man in him and therefore he is the only Savior, as his very Name says: Jesus, or rather, 'God saves.'

"One comes to Assisi to learn from St. Francis the secret of recognizing Jesus Christ and experiencing him. This is what Francis felt about Jesus, according to what his first biographer narrates: 'He always carried Jesus in his heart. Jesus on his lips, Jesus in his ears, Jesus in his eyes, Jesus in his hands, Jesus in all his other members. . .Rather, finding himself travelling often and meditating on and singing of Jesus, he would forget that he was travelling and would invite all creatures to praise Jesus' (cf. 1 Cel II, 9, 115). Thus, we see that communion with Jesus also opens the heart and eyes to creation.

"In a word, Francis was truly in love with Jesus. He met Him in the Word of God, in the brethren, in nature, but above all in the Eucharistic Presence. Concerning this he wrote in his Testament: 'In this world, I see nothing corporally of the same Most High Son of God except in His Most Holy Body and Most Holy Blood' (cf. 2 Test. 10).

"Christmas at Greccio expresses the need to contemplate him in his tender humanity as a baby (cf. 1 Cel I, 30, 85-86).

"The experience of La Verna, where he received the stigmata, shows the degree of intimacy he had reached in his relationship with the Crucified Christ. He could truly say with Paul: 'For me to live is Christ' (Phil 1:21).

"If he rids himself of everything and chooses poverty, the reason for all of this is Christ, and only Christ. Jesus is his all: He is enough!

"Exactly because he is of Christ, Francis is also a man of the Church. From the Crucifix of San Damiano he heard the direction to repair the house of Christ, which is precisely the Church.

"There is an intimate and indissoluble relationship between Christ and the Church. To be called to repair it certainly implies, in the mission of Francis, something that is his own and original. At the same time, this duty, after all, was none other than the responsibility that Christ attributes to every baptized person. To every one of us he also says: 'Go and repair my house.'

"We are all called to repair in every generation the house of Christ, the Church, anew. And only by doing this does the Church live and become beautiful. And as we know, there are many ways to repair, to edify, to build the house of God, the Church. One also edifies through the different vocations, from the lay and family vocation, to the life of special consecration, to the priestly vocation.

"At this point I wish to dwell in particular on this vocation. Francis, who was a deacon, not a priest (cf. 1 Cel I, 30, 86), nourished a great veneration for priests. Although knowing that there is also much poverty and fragility in God's ministers, he saw them as ministers of the Body of Christ, and that was enough to make a sense of love, reverence, and obedience well up within him (cf. 2 Test. 6-10).

"His love for priests is an invitation to rediscover the beauty of this vocation. It is vital for the People of God.

"Dear young people, surround your priests with love and gratitude. If the Lord should call some of you to this great ministry, or even to some form of consecrated life, do not hesitate to say your 'yes.' Yes is not easy, but it is beautiful to be ministers of the Lord, it is beautiful to spend your life for him!

"The young Francis felt a truly filial affection for his Bishop, and it was in his hands that, stripping himself of everything, he made his profession of a life already totally consecrated to the Lord (cf. 1 Cel I, 6, 15). He felt in a special way the mission of the Vicar of Christ, to whom he submitted his Rule and entrusted his Order.

"If the Popes have shown throughout history such affection for Assisi, this in a certain sense is in exchange for the affection that Francis had for the Pope. I am pleased, dear young people, to be here, in the wake of my Predecessors and in particular of my friend, the beloved Pope John Paul II.

"As with concentric circles, the love of Francis for Jesus extends not only to the Church but to all things seen in Christ and for Christ. Here the Canticle of the Creatures is born in which the eye rests on the splendor of creation: from brother sun to sister moon, from sister water to brother fire.

"His interior gaze became so pure and penetrating as to perceive the beauty of creation in the beauty of creatures. The Canticle of Brother Sun, before being a great work of poetry and an implicit invitation to respect creation, is a prayer, praise addressed to the Lord, Creator of all.

"Under the banner of prayer one can see Francis' commitment to peace. This aspect of his life is highly contemporary in a world that greatly needs peace and is not able to find the way to it. Francis is a man of peace and a peacemaker. He witnessed it in his meekness, yet without ever remaining silent about his faith, as his meeting with the Sultan demonstrates (cf. 1 Cel I, 20, 57).

"Since interreligious dialogue, especially after the Second Vatican Council, has today become the common and irrenounceable heritage of Christian sensitivity, Francis can help us to dialogue authentically without falling into an attitude of indifference in regard to the truth or in the attenuation of our Christian proclamation.

"His being a man of peace, tolerance, and dialogue, is ever born from his experience of God-Love. His greeting of peace, is, not by chance, a prayer: 'May the Lord give you peace' (2 Test. 23).

"Dear young people, your vast presence here says how the figure of Francis speaks to your heart. I willingly consign his message to you, but above all, his life and his witness. It is time that you, young people, like Francis, take seriously and know how to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus. It is time to look at the history of this third millennium just begun as a history that needs the Gospel leaven ever more.

"Once again, I make my own the invitation that my beloved Predecessor, John Paul II, always liked to address especially to youth: 'Open the doors to Christ.' Open them like Francis did, without fear, without calculation, without measure. Be, dear young people, my joy, as you were for John Paul II. . ."


Work Is Key Component For Social Justice

H.E. Msgr. Silvano Tomasi, Vatican representative, addressed the 96th session of the International Labor Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 13.

His address follows:

"Even today, the pursuit of social justice remains a most challenging ideal and an operational task for the International Labor Organization (ILO) as it continues to develop up-to-date standards and to influence policy in the world of work within the evolving global economy. In this regard, the Delegation of the Holy See acknowledges shared objectives with the ILO. It fully supports the combined action of workers, employers, and governments to make decent work for sustainable development a collective goal within the international community as well as a priority in national programs. Much of the restlessness and many of the conflicts that torment our society are rooted in the lack of jobs, in employment which lacks decent work conditions or living wages, and in unjust economic relations. The timely agenda of this Conference rightly addresses old and new forms of discrimination, social protection, the new context of work and its impact on individual workers and their families, and related themes. In fact, work, enterprise, and the global arena of financial investments, trade, and production should be rooted in a creative, cooperative, and rule-based effort at the service of the human person, of every man and woman, and of their equal dignity and rights. It is the human dimension of work that needs to be valued and protected; moreover, an enabling environment must be created so that personal talents are invested for the common good.

"In recent years changes have been brought about in the fields of economy, technology, and communica-tions that have transformed the face of work and the conditions of the labor market, at times in dramatic ways. Obviously, the international system is evolving under the weight of an aging population in some regions, of outsourcing, of the gap between needed skills and an educational system still incapable of preparing people with skills to meet such demands, of the search for balance between fair policy space and an effective multilateralism, of the demand for greater flexibility and mobility. One emerging tendency appears to favor more individualistic relations between enterprise and employees. These latter would protect their own rights on the base of their skills and entrepreneurial ability. These developments may be calling on us to re-think current forms of solidarity. Although workers may no longer find themselves in physical proximity with each other, solidarity remains crucial and indispensable if founded on our common humanity that links all types of work. In turn, 'through work man not only transforms nature, adapting it to his own needs, but he also achieves fulfillment as a human being and indeed, in a sense, becomes "more a human being"' (John Paul II, Laborem Exercens, 9). In a way, the world of labor has overturned the old practice: now work tends to take precedence over capital and real wealth is found in the knowledge, in the human and relational capacities of workers, in their creativity and ability to confront new situations. At the same time, even in the face of such new approaches to work, exploitation is possible in the form of over-work, excessive flexibility, and stiff competition that make family life and personal growth impossible.

"The new globalized context of work makes it evident that a person working with and for other persons progressively reaches out to the whole human family. Through his work a person is opened to an increasingly universal dimension and, in this way, can 'humanize' globalization and thus, by keeping the human person at the center of this process, can provide an ethical measure against its negative aspects. Therefore the universalization of labor standards should not be considered a burden on trade agreements but rather a concrete support for the human rights of workers and a condition for more equitable competition on the global level. At the same time this universalization will not leave workers and their families only at the 'mercy' of economic forces beyond the control of national policies. The mechanisms needed to implement such an approach can vary from special international funds for the protection of workers to a normative, incremental application of standards and, in this way, can promote and carry on the historical achievement of organized labor. As the world is confronted with a globalization that increases wealth but is not equitable in its distribution, social goals cannot be left out of the picture. A policy of convergence between social and economic policies seems better suited to stimulate the creation of new employment opportunities and advance decent work, both of which still elude too many people.

"The urgent necessity of creating new jobs is rightly recognized as the first means to prevent discrimination and poverty. With an estimated 195 million men and women unable to find work last year and with 1.4 billion people holding jobs that did not pay enough to lift them above the $2 a day poverty line, the responsibility of the international community and of governments is put to the test to ensure both an enabling economic environment and the availability of decent work. The Second Global Report on Discrimination under the follow-up to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work rightly highlights some categories of workers that deserve special attention in the new market circumstances: women still remaining without equal pay for equal work and in need of fairness in career advancement; people with disabilities; the tens of millions of migrants, a major component of productivity in the global economy; young and old workers; people living with HIV and AIDS; working parents searching for better measures to reconcile responsibilities to both work and family; the masses of rural poor without practically any safety net; children forced too early into the labor market.

"Within this somewhat somber picture, the proposal of a Convention and Recommendation Concerning Work in the Fishing Sector represents a sign of major progress. It is estimated that some 40 million people worldwide work in the fishing industry; 1.5 million of these are industrial or deep-sea fishers, while the rest are traditional coastal fishers. The harsh reality of the work environment for fishers, their confined space in the fishing vessels, and their vulnerability; their long working hours causing excessive fatigue that can result in serious occupational accidents; the exploitation of children in deep-sea diving who are exposed to injuries and death; and the excessive long periods away from the family; these and similar other considerations have prompted careful negotiations that hopefully will now be brought to conclusion with an additional instrument of protection. In fact, the proposed Convention and Recommendation can also provide the basis for the elimination of abuse and discrimination inflicted on industrial fishers through the illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing on distant water vessels within the system of open registry. Inter-related issues of justice, safety, and health demand a concerted response to the legitimate claim by fishers that their rights be protected and that their quality of life be advanced. Solidarity cannot extend, of course, to permit over-fishing or to causing damage to ocean life. Such solidarity should instead help fishers and countries that, due to lack of resources, sell their fishing rights to richer countries with evident threat to the survival of small and coastal fishers and consequent destruction of the fish habitat. . .

"The instruments of protection become the expression of solidarity at a global level, especially for the large number of people without work or without decent work. A simpler lifestyle and a more equitable sharing of the resources of the planet are needed. The Holy Father Benedict XVI has recently remarked: 'It is not possible to continue using the wealth of the poorest countries with impunity, without them also being able to participate in world growth' (Address to new Ambassadors, June 1, 2007). The new horizon of the social question is now the world because the human person is at its center as protagonist of an integral development, which is the new name of peace. Through the adoption of Decent Work as a development paradigm for the multilateral system, locally adapted and implemented in Decent Work Country Programs, workers, employers, and governments, acting together, can give concrete form to this vision for a better future. . ."


Global Refugee Population Is Increasing

H.E. Msgr. Silvano Tomasi, Vatican representative, addressed the 39th session of the Permanent Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 25.

H.E. Msgr. Tomasi said:

". . .The global refugee population has begun to increase again and the population of concern to the UNHCR Office is now well over 32 million. People forcibly displaced are a stark reminder of persisting conflicts and violations of human rights. The Delegation of the Holy See greatly appreciates the UNHCR's courageous service and openness to creative responses to the plight of all forcibly uprooted persons. In the present spiraling crisis of people obliged to move from their homes, while factual information is available, the complexity of the issues and perhaps some deficit of political will slow down the possibility of solutions.

"Grey areas of concern seem to increase where existing protection instruments cannot apply or lack clarity of mandate. Reference is made to a phenomenon that now continues for some years, the terrible loss of life in the attempt to reach a safe haven on the part of thousands of people forced by desperate circumstances to look for survival outside their own country. The phenomenon is not just regional. It is present in the Mediterranean where people try to cross from Africa to Europe; in the Atlantic where they cross from West Africa to the Canary Islands. Other people lose their lives moving from East Africa to the Arabian Peninsula; from Caribbean islands to the American continent; from Mexico across the desert to the United States; in some areas of Asia. The questions arise of how the obligation to protect the international community can be exercised in such a situation; if a normative vacuum exists for the protection of these victims who meet death in trying to escape some other forms of physical or psychological death. The UNHCR could raise the issue of a coordination of policies at the United Nations level that could focus on this trans-regional problem taking into account new developments, initiate a systematic study of how protection can be provided, and even develop a specific protection cluster. Of course, in the long run a positive and preventive approach would require the transformation of conditions in the places of origin through greater security, respect of human rights, effective political participation, the creation of jobs, and an environment of peace. But this local transformation cannot happen without the involvement of the international community for better organized and wider legal channels for the movement of people and without fair agricultural, financial, and trade policies that would not impact in a negative way the poor countries thus triggering forced displacement.

"A second point my Delegation wants to return to is that of the Middle East refugees and the worsening situation of ethnic and religious minorities cleansing. It seems that there is no way forward because of the inadequate acceptance of needy cases for resettlement and no way backward because of the impossibility of return due to persisting insecurity and refusal of coexistence among different religious communities. Christians in particular are confronted with a renewed era of martyrdom. Besides, the necessary funding for an adequate response to the suffering of Iraqi refugees is not yet sufficiently available. Adding his voice to the recent celebration of World Refugee Day the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI stated: 'Welcoming refugees and giving them hospitality is a duty of human solidarity so that they may not feel isolated because of intolerance and lack of concern.' He appealed that asylum and the rights of refugees be guaranteed and that the leaders of Nations should offer protection to all in need of it. Burden sharing, both in terms of funds and provision of resettlement, remains a major challenge, as it is protection in the region. . .

". . .Critical refugee and internally displaced people situations around the world call for a renewed commitment and an active engagement on the part of the international community. It is an obvious form of solidarity within the human family. Today's developments in the vast world of forced displacements and tomorrow's consequences of climate change forcing people to move call for intellectual creativity and pragmatic programs of action that may give an answer to the new demands for protection. . ."


Edge To Edge

by Michael Halm


Light to the Nations: A Christian Perspective on World News

Pope Appeals for Peace From Assisi

ASSISI, ITALY – At the end of his Angelus message on June 17 during his visit to Assisi, Pope Benedict XVI called for efforts to bring about peace. He said:

". . .I consider it my duty to launch from here a pressing and heartfelt appeal to stop all the armed conflicts which bathe the earth in blood. May weapons be silenced and may hatred everywhere give way to love, offense to forgiveness, and discord to union!

"We feel here the spiritual presence of all those whom war and its tragic consequences cause to weep, suffer, and die in any part of the world.

"We are thinking in particular of the Holy Land, so loved by St. Francis; and of Iraq, Lebanon, and the entire region of the Middle East. For too long now the peoples of those countries have been experiencing the horrors of war, terrorism, blind violence, the illusion that force can resolve conflicts, the refusal to listen to the reasoning of others, and the refusal to do them justice.

"Only a responsible and sincere dialogue, backed by the generous support of the International Community, will be able to put an end to all this suffering and restore life and dignity to individuals, institutions, and peoples.

"May St. Francis, a man of peace, obtain for us from the Lord an increasing number of people who accept to make themselves 'instruments of his peace' through thousands of small acts in daily life; and that all who have roles of responsibility be motivated by a passionate love for peace and an indomitable determination to achieve it, choosing the appropriate means to obtain it.

"May the Blessed Virgin, whom the 'Poverello' loved tenderly and praised in inspired tones, help us discover the secret of peace in the miracle of love which was fulfilled in her womb with the Incarnation of the Son of God."

(Source: L'Osservatore Romano English edition)


CRS Assists Iraqi Refugees

BALTIMORE, MD – Catholic Relief Services (CRS) will provide assistance to Iraqi refugees living in Syria and Lebanon, thanks to nearly $2 million dollars from the U.S. Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, and more than half a million dollars in private funds.

The rapid escalation of sectarian violence in Iraq has forced an estimated two million Iraqis to seek safety in neighboring states.

"The majority of families, upwards of 1.7 million, fled to Syria and Jordan, with a few hundred thousand also seeking refuge in Lebanon, Egypt, and Turkey. More than two million more people are displaced within Iraq, and the UN estimates every month another 50,000 Iraqis flee their homes.

"Although it's only recently that the international community has acknowledged and begun to respond to this humanitarian catastrophe, when you look at the numbers affected – more than four million people uprooted – the response is still not sufficient," said Jack Connolly, CRS Senior Representative for the Middle East. "More, much more, needs to be done in terms of assisting and protecting this population."

"CRS and the Caritas/Lebanon Migrant Center (CLMC) will begin providing immediate humanitarian, educational, medical, and psychosocial support to more than 11,000 Iraqi refugees in Beirut, with outreach to other areas of the country.

In Syria, CRS assistance, coordinated with local partners Caritas/Syria and St. Vincent de Paul Society, will reach more than 17,500 Iraqi refugees staying near Damascus and the northern cities of Hasakeh and Aleppo.

In addition to providing basic family needs, CRS and its local partners will use an integrative, holistic approach to address potential community tensions that might arise in host areas towards refugees.

(Source: CRS press release)


CRS Wins Grant to Educate Workers

BALTIMORE, MD – Catholic Relief Services (CRS) announced today it has been awarded a $4.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to help improve labor law compliance in the six Central American countries and the Dominican Republic that signed the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR).

CRS and civil organizations will create eight worker rights centers to educate some 200,000 workers about labor rights and provide them with legal guidance about the procedures and documentation needed to exercise those rights.

Targeting individual workers, labor organizations and labor unions in diverse industries, the four-year project will also create outreach campaigns about labor rights and legal assistance to reach individual and organized workers in the places where they work.

Although CAFTA-DR obligates labor law compliance in member countries, worker rights in these countries are inadequately enforced. Workers are often unaware of their rights and are ill-equipped to present labor claims.

To attack the root causes of labor violations and support a culture of compliance, workers must have the knowledge, skills, and tools to exercise their rights. While there are many groups working to improve the status of workers, little coordination, especially at the local level, exists.

"Worker rights centers are truly an innovative way to address labor violations and misperceptions of labor laws," said Richard Jones, Country Representative, CRS/El Salvador. "Through them, we hope to strengthen the capacity of local organizations to inform workers about their rights and equip workers to take action on claims when necessary."

In El Salvador and regionally the project, called "Todos Trabajamos: Labor Rights for Everyone," will work with partners Human Rights Institute of the University of Central America (IDHUCA) and the Independent Monitoring Group of El Salvador (GMIES). In Nicaragua, it will partner with the Justice and Peace Commission of León/ Chinandega (CJP); in Costa Rica with National Caritas (PSC); in Honduras with the Center for Research and Promotion of Human Rights (CIPRODEH); in Guatemala with the Commission for the Verification of Codes of Conduct in Guatemala (COVERCO); and in the Dominican Republic with the Jesuit Refugee Service in the Dominican Republic (JRS).

(Source : CRS press release)


In Defense of Life: Celebration For Life

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

An elderly husband worries about how to care for his wife, now in the last stages of cancer. The daughter wonders what she can do for her father who is now severely disabled by a stroke. Parents seek help for their terminally ill son.

To whom do you turn for assistance and advice on how to care for those you love, when you know their condition will not improve, and death may be soon in the future?


Hospice care is not a place, but is compassionate care for the terminally ill. Focusing on caring, not curing, making every day count by adding life to days, hospice care benefits not only the patient but the ones who love them.

"I met a VA patient and spent about 15 minutes a day with him. I just took the time to listen. It turned out that he was the worst patient in the nursing home, a verbally abusive man. The nurses came to me later and asked, 'What did you do? He's completely changed!'," relates Greg Patterson, founder of Covenant Hospice Services.

"The work involves faith in God, pro-life principles, and compassion so that patients can experience the joy of life to the end of life.

"Our goal is to relieve a patient's pain and suffering, and it takes a certain type of person that can work day in and day out to relieve suffering."

Sunday, September 23

Northern Kentucky Right to Life is indeed proud to invite Greg Patterson to address the 34th Annual Celebration for Life, scheduled for Sunday, September 23, at the Drawbridge Estates in Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky (I-75, Exit 186).

The doors will open at 1:15 p.m., followed by the showing of a pro-life film at 1:30 p.m. Refreshments and exhibits will be available at 2:00 p.m. with the program commencing at 2:30 p.m. (Free babysitting is provided.)

Tickets ($10.00) and additional information can be obtained from Stan Barczak, Northern Kentucky Right to Life, 1822 Madison Avenue, Covington. (859-431-6380). (Tickets can be obtained in advance or at the door.)

Greg Patterson

Greg Patterson, a certified public accountant and certified hospice administrator with over 20 years of experience in healthcare, lives with his wife and five daughters on a small farm in Paris, Kentucky.

As founder and CEO of Covenant Hospice, Patterson states: "…our mission is to create and fulfill a covenant with God that each person has the right to live pain and symptom free; the right to die with dignity; and to serve and support our patients, their families, and staff in a manner pleasing to Him."

Covenant Hospice is a Medicare-certified program whose team works together to develop a plan of care, assuring that proper nursing care is provided, that pain and symptoms are managed, that personal needs, such as bathing, feeding, and housekeeping are arranged, and that treating physicians are kept informed. Services also include supporting and encouraging not only the patient but also his family, emphasizing spiritual needs. It also assists in explaining what Medicare benefits are available and the role of private health insurance policies. Care is provided to patients in their homes, assisted living facilities, or nursing homes.

Greg Patterson with his family
Not All Hospices Are the Same

Patterson points out that there are approximately 4,000 separate organizations in the hospice business today. Many of them are affiliated with hospitals, including religious institutions, which are advocating and distributing documents authorizing the withdrawal of food and water from non-dying patients — directly contrary to the specific teaching of Pope John Paul II, that food and water are ordinary care, and are required to be furnished to every patient, including comatose patients, and that the deprivation of those essential means of life constitutes euthanasia.

"The scary thing about the Terri Schiavo situation is that her case was a public awakening to something that has been going on for some time," states Patterson.

Patterson notes that many hospice organizations do support euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide. Although many officially oppose euthanasia, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, one of the largest associations of hospices in the U.S., officially opposes euthanasia, but has invited euthanasia advocates to speak at its conference.

Patterson warns that if one is looking for a hospice, it is important to understand their philosophy. "If you look at Oregon's state hospice organization endorsing physician-assisted suicide, it's very disturbing."

Bring a Friend

Considering the priority of the abortion issue, please make the personal commitment to hear this pro-life advocate and encourage your family and friends to join you. Take this opportunity to also come and meet the over 20 exhibitors, who can show you how you can also participate in the pro-life movement, giving witness in a variety of ways, to the sanctity of all human life.

Always Care

"Deeply embedded in our moral and medical traditions is the distinction…between allowing to die, on the one hand, and killing, on the other…It is never permitted, it is always prohibited, to take any action that is aimed at the death of ourselves or others…we must learn again the wisdom that teaches us always to care, never to kill." A Declaration on Euthanasia, issued by Thirteen Jewish and Christian Scholars.


Historic Encyclical Led To Missionary Innovation

In 1957, Pope Pius XII wrote an encyclical important in the development of the Church's missionary activity. The Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone wrote a letter to Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples to mark the 50th anniversary of the encyclical, Fidei Donum.

He wrote: ". . .With this Document, the Supreme Pontiff intended to focus the gaze of the Church's Pastors on Africa at a time when the Continent was opening to the life of the modern world, in the years of what may have been the gravest upheaval in its millennial history (cf. Fidei Donum, n. 7).

"In Chapter III, addressing the threefold missionary commitment of the Church (prayer, material aid, and sending people), Pius XII mentioned among other things a new type of missionary cooperation that was different from the traditional forms.

"He wrote: 'Another form of assistance, which is more burdensome, has been undertaken by some Bishops who, despite the difficulties attendant upon so doing, have permitted this or that priest of the Diocese to go and spend some time in working for the Bishops in Africa.

"'This procedure has the exceptional result of allowing the wise and well-planned establishment of specialized forms of the priestly ministry, such as taking charge of teaching the secular and sacred sciences for which the local clergy have not been trained.

"'We are happy to encourage these timely and fruitful undertakings. If this course of action is taken with due preparation, very important advantages will accrue to the Catholic Church in present-day Africa, which has its full measure of both difficulties and hopes' (Fidei Donum, nn. 73, 74).

"A new missionary 'subject' was born from the Supreme Pontiff's appeal for the missions in Africa and took its name, 'Fidei donum,' precisely from the Encyclical.

"The Papal Document sowed a seed that fell on fertile ground and sprouted, thanks to the deep ecclesiological and missiological reflection of the Second Vatican Council and to the post-conciliar missionary magisterium.

"Consequently, certain essential elements have already been established, both in theory and in practice, that contribute to defining the identity and configuration of Fidei donum missionaries.

"These elements can be formulated as follows: the Church is missionary by nature; the universal Church is expressed and subsists in the particular Churches; the particular Churches have been missionary since their creation; they are responsible for evangelization in solido and in communion with all the other Churches.

"Since then, 50 years have passed, during which the particular Churches – those founded long ago, then the younger ones – have continued to send priests and lay people to other Churches for the missio ad gentes, for the new evangelization or simply to meet the poorer Churches' need for personnel and means.

"Such a practice could, with time, become the norm of missionary co-responsibility. Through this cooperation, in fact, the entire Church becomes effectively missionary since the missio ad gentes is considered a task and responsibility of all the particular Churches.

"On the occasion of this important anniversary and after the repeated requests of the National Directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies, the Pontifical Missionary Union organized a Congress in Rome with two principal aims: first of all, to review the ground covered, providing a critical analysis of the bright spots and shadows that have marked it; secondly, to help give a renewed and more genuine identity to 'Fidei donum' missionaries in the light of the information that comes from experience, from the Pope's Magisterium, and from the documents of the Bishops' Conferences . . .

"In particular, it is appropriate to rethink the Church's communion and co-responsibility for mission, as well as the methodological implications such as the need for common planning, the integration of 'Fidei donum' missionaries with specific tasks and roles, their reinsertion into their Churches of origin, the mutual exchange of people, means and apostolic methodologies, formation courses for missionaries, the need to set up national missionary formation centers for those who are to be sent, and coordination centers to respond adequately to the requests for personnel and means.

"A further objective is to enable the young Churches, which for the time being have to rely on the aid of the missionary institutes, to send out their own 'Fidei donum' missionaries.

"The Holy Father welcomed this initiative and views it with trust, in the hope that it may help to relaunch the missionary commitment promoted 50 years ago by Pope Pius XII with his Encyclical Fidei Donum. . ."


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 in thanksgiving for the lives and examples of the saints.
  • We pray that we would experience deep repentance and conversion, leading to great love of Jesus and His Church.
  • We pray for peace and justice throughout the world.
  • We pray for the success of the Celebration for Life and the Bible Institute.
  • We pray for all missionaries.
  • We pray in thanksgiving for the teachings of the Church.


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