"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
The 45th World Day of Prayer for Vocations will be on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, April 13. This year the Day focuses on the link between vocations and the Church's missionary activity. Pope Benedict XVI's message for the Day, dated December 3, 2007, follows:
"For the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, to be celebrated on April 13, 2008, I have chosen the theme: Vocations at the service of the Church on mission. The Risen Jesus gave to the Apostles this command: 'Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit' (Mt 28:19), assuring them: 'I am with you always, to the close of the age' (Mt 28:20). The Church is missionary in herself and in each one of her members. Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, every Christian is called to bear witness and to announce the Gospel, but this missionary dimension is associated in a special and intimate way with the priestly vocation. In the covenant with Israel, God entrusted to certain men, called by him and sent to the people in his name, a mission as prophets and priests. He did so, for example, with Moses: 'Come, – God told him – I will send you to Pharaoh, that you may bring forth my people. . . out of Egypt. . .when you have brought forth the people out of Egypt, you will serve God upon this mountain' (Ex 3:10 and 12). The same happened with the prophets.
"The promises made to our fathers were fulfilled entirely in Jesus Christ. In this regard, the Second Vatican Council says: 'The Son, therefore, came, sent by the Father. It was in him, before the foundation of the world, that the Father chose us and predestined us to become adopted sons. . .To carry out the will of the Father, Christ inaugurated the kingdom of heaven on earth and revealed to us the mystery of that kingdom. By his obedience he brought about redemption' (Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 3). And Jesus already in his public life, while preaching in Galilee, chose some disciples to be his close collaborators in the messianic ministry. For example, on the occasion of the multiplication of the loaves, he said to the Apostles: 'You give them something to eat' (Mt 14:16), encouraging them to assume the needs of the crowds to whom he wished to offer nourishment, but also to reveal the food 'which endures to eternal life' (Jn 6:27). He was moved to compassion for the people, because while visiting cities and villages, he found the crowds weary and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (cf. Mt 9:36). From this gaze of love came the invitation to his disciples: 'Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest" (Mt 9:38), and he sent the Twelve initially 'to the lost sheep of the house of Israel' with precise instructions. If we pause to meditate on this passage of Matthew's Gospel, commonly called the 'missionary discourse,' we may take note of those aspects which distinguish the missionary activity of a Christian community, eager to remain faithful to the example and teaching of Jesus. To respond to the Lord's call means facing in prudence and simplicity every danger and even persecutions, since 'a disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master' (Mt 10:24). Having become one with their Master, the disciples are no longer alone as they announce the Kingdom of heaven; Jesus himself is acting in them: 'He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me' (Mt 10:40). Furthermore, as true witnesses, 'clothed with power from on high' (Lk 24:49), they preach 'repentance and the forgiveness of sins' (Lk 24:47) to all peoples.
"Precisely because they have been sent by the Lord, the Twelve are called 'Apostles,' destined to walk the roads of the world announcing the Gospel as witnesses to the death and resurrection of Christ. Saint Paul, writing to the Christians of Corinth, says: 'We – the Apostles – preach Christ crucified' (1 Cor 1:23). The Book of the Acts of the Apostles also assigns a very important role in this task of evangelization to other disciples whose missionary vocation arises from providential, sometimes painful, circumstances such as expulsion from their own lands for being followers of Jesus (cf. 8,1-4). The Holy Spirit transforms this trial into an occasion of grace, using it so that the name of the Lord can be preached to other peoples, stretching in this way the horizons of the Christian community. These are men and women who, as Luke writes in the Acts of the Apostles, 'have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ' (15:26). First among them is undoubtedly Paul of Tarsus, called by the Lord himself, hence a true Apostle. The story of Paul, the greatest missionary of all times, brings out in many ways the link between vocation and mission. Accused by his opponents of not being authorized for the apostolate, he makes repeated appeals precisely to the call which he received directly from the Lord (cf. Rom 1:1; Gal 1:11-12 and 15-17).
"In the beginning, and thereafter, what 'impels' the Apostles (cf. 2 Cor 5:14) is always 'the love of Christ.' Innumerable missionaries, throughout the centuries, as faithful servants of the Church, docile to the action of the Holy Spirit, have followed in the footsteps of the first disciples. The Second Vatican Council notes: 'Although every disciple of Christ, as far in him lies, has the duty of spreading the faith, Christ the Lord always calls whomever he will from among the number of his disciples, to be with him and to be sent by him to preach to the nations [cf. Mk 3:3-15]' (Decree Ad Gentes, 23). In fact, the love of Christ must be communicated to the brothers by example and words, with all one's life. My venerable predecessor John Paul II wrote: 'The special vocation of missionaries "for life" retains all its validity: it is the model of the Church's missionary commitment, which always stands in need of radical and total self-giving, of new and bold endeavors.' (Encyclical Redemptoris Missio, 66)
"Among those totally dedicated to the service of the Gospel, are priests, called to preach the word of God, administer the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation, committed to helping the lowly, the sick, the suffering, the poor, and those who experience hardship in areas of the world where there are, at times, many who still have not had a real encounter with Jesus Christ. Missionaries announce for the first time to these people Christ's redemptive love. Statistics show that the number of baptized persons increases every year thanks to the pastoral work of these priests, who are wholly consecrated to the salvation of their brothers and sisters. In this context, a special word of thanks must be expressed 'to the fidei donum priests who work faithfully and generously at building up the community by proclaiming the word of God and breaking the Bread of Life, devoting all their energy to serving the mission of the Church. Let us thank God for all the priests who have suffered even to the sacrifice of their lives in order to serve Christ. . .Theirs is a moving witness that can inspire many young people to follow Christ and to expend their lives for others, and thus to discover true life' (Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, 26).
"There have always been in the Church many men and women who, prompted by the action of the Holy Spirit, choose to live the Gospel in a radical way, professing the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. This multitude of men and women religious, belonging to innumerable Institutes of contemplative and active life, still plays 'the main role in the evangelisation of the world' (Ad Gentes, 40). With their continual and community prayer, contemplatives intercede without ceasing for all humanity. Religious of the active life, with their many charitable activities, bring to all a living witness of the love and mercy of God. The Servant of God Paul VI concerning these apostles of our times said: 'Thanks to their consecration they are eminently willing and free to leave everything and to go and proclaim the Gospel even to the ends of the earth. They are enterprising and their apostolate is often marked by an originality, by a genius that demands admiration. They are generous: often they are found at the outposts of the mission, and they take the greatest of risks for their health and their very lives. Truly the Church owes them much' (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, 69).
"Furthermore, so that the Church may continue to fulfill the mission entrusted to her by Christ, and not lack promoters of the Gospel so badly needed by the world, Christian communities must never fail to provide both children and adults with constant education in the faith. It is necessary to keep alive in the faithful a committed sense of missionary responsibility and active solidarity with the peoples of the world. The gift of faith calls all Christians to cooperate in the work of evangelization. This awareness must be nourished by preaching and catechesis, by the liturgy, and by constant formation in prayer. It must grow through the practice of welcoming others, with charity and spiritual companionship, through reflection and discernment, as well as pastoral planning, of which attention to vocations must be an integral part.
"Vocations to the ministerial priesthood and to the consecrated life can only flourish in a spiritual soil that is well cultivated. Christian communities that live the missionary dimension of the mystery of the Church in a profound way will never be inward looking. Mission, as a witness of divine love, becomes particularly effective when it is shared in a community, 'so that the world may believe' (cf. Jn 17:21). The Church prays everyday to the Holy Spirit for the gift of vocations. Gathered around the Virgin Mary, Queen of the Apostles, as in the beginning, the ecclesial community learns from her how to implore the Lord for a flowering of new apostles, alive with the faith and love that are necessary for the mission.
"While I entrust this reflection to all the ecclesial communities so that they may make it their own, and draw from it inspiration for prayer, and as I encourage those who are committed to work with faith and generosity in the service of vocations, I wholeheartedly send to educators, catechists and to all, particularly to young people on their vocational journey, a special Apostolic Blessing."
On February 25, Pope Benedict XVI addressed a meeting organized by the Pontifical Academy for Life. The meeting in Rome had the theme: "Close by the Incurable Sick Person and the Dying: Scientific and Ethical Aspects." The Holy Father said:
". . .You seek to give answers to the many problems posed every day by the constant progress of the medical sciences, whose activities are increasingly sustained by high-level technological tools.
"In view of all this, the urgent challenge emerges for everyone, and in a special way for the Church enlivened by the Risen Lord, to bring into the vast horizon of human life the splendor of the revealed truth and the support of hope.
"When a life is extinguished by unforeseen causes at an advanced age, on the threshold of earthly life or in its prime, we should not only see this as a biological factor which is exhausted or a biography which is ending, but indeed as a new birth and a renewed existence offered by the Risen One to those who did not deliberately oppose his Love. The earthly experience concludes with death, but through death full and definitive life beyond time unfolds for each one of us. The Lord of life is present beside the sick person as the One who lives and gives life, the One who said: 'I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly' (Jn 10:10). 'I am the Resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live' (Jn 11:25), and 'I will raise him up on the last day' (Jn 6:54). At that solemn and sacred moment, all efforts made in Christian hope to improve ourselves and the world entrusted to us, purified by grace, find their meaning and are made precious through the love of God the Creator and Father. When, at the moment of death, the relationship with God is fully realized in the encounter with 'him who does not die, who is Life itself and Love itself, then we are in life; then we "live"' (Spe Salvi, n. 27). For the community of believers, this encounter of the dying person with the Source of Life and Love is a gift that has value for all, that enriches the communion of all the faithful. As such, it deserves the attention and participation of the community, not only of the family of close relatives but, within the limits and forms possible, of the whole community that was bound to the dying person. No believer should die in loneliness and neglect. Mother Teresa of Calcutta took special care to gather the poor and the forsaken so that they might experience the Father's warmth in the embrace of sisters and brothers, at least at the moment of death.
"But it is not only the Christian community which, due to its particular bonds of supernatural communion, is committed to accompanying and celebrating in its members the mystery of suffering and death and the dawn of new life. The whole of society, in fact, is required through its health-care and civil institutions to respect the life and dignity of the seriously sick and the dying. Even while knowing that 'it is not science that redeems man' (Spe Salvi, n. 26), our entire society and in particular the sectors linked to medical science are bound to express the solidarity of love and the safeguard and respect of human life at every moment of its earthly development, especially when it is suffering a condition of sickness or is in its terminal stage. In practice, it is a question of guaranteeing to every person who needs it the necessary support, through appropriate treatment and medical interventions, diagnosed and treated in accordance with the criteria of medical proportionality, always taking into account the moral duty of administering (on the part of the doctor) and of accepting (on the part of the patient) those means for the preservation of life that are 'ordinary' in the specific situation. On the other hand, recourse to treatment with a high risk factor or which it would be prudent to judge as 'extraordinary,' is to be considered morally licit but optional. Furthermore, it will always be necessary to assure the necessary and due care for each person as well as the support of families most harshly tried by the illness of one of their members, especially if it is serious and prolonged. Also with regard to employment procedures, it is usual to recognize the specific rights of relatives at the moment of a birth; likewise, and especially in certain circumstances, close relatives must be recognized as having similar rights at the moment of the terminal illness of one of their family members. A supportive and humanitarian society cannot fail to take into account the difficult conditions of families who, sometimes for long periods, must bear the burden of caring at home for seriously-ill people who are not self-sufficient. Greater respect for individual human life passes inevitably through the concrete solidarity of each and every one, constituting one of the most urgent challenges of our time.
"As I recalled in the Encyclical Spe Salvi: 'The true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer. This holds true both for the individual and for society. A society unable to accept its suffering members and incapable of helping to share their suffering and to bear it inwardly through "com-passion" is a cruel and inhuman society' (n. 38). In a complex society, strongly influenced by the dynamics of productivity and the needs of the economy, frail people and the poorest families risk being overwhelmed in times of financial difficulty and/or illness. More and more lonely elderly people exist in big cities, even in situations of serious illness and close to death. In such situations, the pressure of euthanasia is felt, especially when a utilitarian vision of the person creeps in. In this regard, I take this opportunity to reaffirm once again the firm and constant ethical condemnation of every form of direct euthanasia, in accordance with the Church's centuries-old teaching.
"The synergetic effort of civil society and the community of believers must aim not only to ensure that all live a dignified and responsible life, but also, experience the moment of trial and death in terms of brotherhood and solidarity, even when death occurs within a poor family or in a hospital bed. The Church, with her already functioning institutions and new initiatives, is called to bear a witness of active charity, especially in the critical situations of non-self-sufficient people deprived of family support, and for the seriously ill in need of palliative treatment and the appropriate religious assistance. On the one hand, the spiritual mobilization of parish and diocesan communities, and on the other, the creation or improvement of structures dependent on the Church, will be able to animate and sensitize the whole social environment, so that solidarity and charity are offered and witnessed to each suffering person and particularly to those who are close to death. For its part, society cannot fail to guarantee assistance to families that intend to commit themselves to nursing at home, sometimes for long periods, sick people afflicted with degenerative pathologies (tumors, neuro-degenerative diseases, etc.), or in need of particularly demanding nursing care. The help of all active and responsible members of society is especially required for those institutions of specific assistance that require numerous specialized personnel and particularly expensive equipment. It is above all in these sectors that the synergy between the Church and the institutions can prove uniquely precious for ensuring the necessary help to human life in the time of frailty.
"While I hope that at this International Congress, celebrated in connection with the Jubilee of the Lourdes Apparitions, it will be possible to identify new proposals to alleviate the situation of those caught up in terminal forms of illness, I exhort you to persevere in your praiseworthy commitment to the service of life in all its phases. With these sentiments, I assure you of my prayers in support of your work and accompany you with a special Apostolic Blessing."
Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Permanent Observer of the Vatican at the United Nations in New York addressed the 46th session of the Commission for Social Development of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) on February 7 in New York. He stated:
"The promotion of full employment and decent work for all has been an area of continued focus for this Organization. From the Copenhagen Declaration and Program of Action to the forty-fifth and forty-sixth sessions of this Commission, productive employment, poverty eradication and social integration remain important objectives for the United Nations.
"My delegation wishes to stress two key aspects of the item under our consideration: first, that the lack of full employment and decent work and its associated poverty and social disintegration offend human dignity, and second, that we can only hold the trust of the people if we listen to them and concretely take their needs into account.
"Today's overall world economic situation continues to present challenges to the objective of full employment and decent work for all. The ever accelerating periodic cycles of growth and job creation on the one hand, and of recession and job losses on the other, disturb the financial and trade relations and mechanisms. At this very moment, with bated breath the world wonders where the ongoing financial woes, provoked by the crisis in the real estate sector in some of the most developed economies, would lead us.
"In such economic context, this Commission is challenged to stress the need for effective ways to protect low-income families and workers from financial collapse. Most often, they are the hardest hit in times of economic downturn, thus, any policy to stimulate the economy must provide them concrete economic help. Assisting them is a question of justice and solidarity, but it is also a financially sound measure to stimulate national economies and international trade.
"Such assistance can only be effective if measures taken by the stronger economies do not exacerbate the situation in the developing economies. Since this risk looms large in today's highly interdependent economy, the international community must be vigilant to prevent such practice from happening. The Holy See wishes to recall that the compelling needs of the poor have a priority claim on our conscience and on the choices financial leaders make, and as such, it is incumbent upon international fora to provide a platform to the poor because, more often than not, they are left voiceless in the search for solutions to problems that also deeply matter to them.
"In order to accelerate the realization of the Copenhagen goals, it is necessary to create an environment and structures which enable people to take an active part in decision-making. Creating an enabling environment, promoting structures responsive to the needs of people and dialoging without preconditions are all integral components to regulating the world economy, better predicting its periodic cycles and finding the most appropriate measures to blunt the negative consequences of global economic downturns.
"While globalization has opened the door to economic prosperity to many people, its downsides continue to disproportionately affect the weak members of our society. Therefore, governments' response to these challenges must be guided by the moral tenet that a good society is measured by the extent to which those with responsibility attend to the needs of the weaker members, especially those most in need. A good society is one in which all benefit from the common good, and nobody is left outside the common concern. Economic policies that help low-income working people live dignified, decent lives should be a priority of any good society worthy of the name.
"Finally, my delegation wishes to stress that trust, earned rather than given, among all parties is essential in the area of employment. The persistence of poverty, unemployment and social disintegration are by-products of distrust and the absence of fair relations among the various components of the economic and social mechanisms. A lack of mutual trust among parties also means a lack of confidence in the future which, in turn, means the absence of job security. People, especially the young looking for their first job, discover meaning and confidence in the future when they find long-term work with the opportunity for a deserved promotion.
"The Holy See recognizes that the aforementioned issues, among others, are essential in responding to the needs of those who seek decent employment and opportunities to move out of poverty and avoid marginalization, exploitation and social disintegration. Those seeking to enhance their lives look to us for action. It is the hope of my delegation that our words here will quickly become our actions. . ."
Fred H. Summe, vice president of Northern Kentucky Right to Life
No matter which U.S. Senator, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, or Barack Obama, is elected as president, you can be assured that there will again be a concerted effort in Congress to provide federal tax dollars for embryonic stem-cell research. Since all three senators supported and voted for such funding, the "bully pulpit" of the presidency will lend its strength to the funding of the destruction of innocent human life.
Although intentionally blurred by the national news media, which refers to the issue as funding stem-cell research, there is a clear distinction between adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells, the latter of which involves the killing of a human person at a stage of life referred to as an embryo.
What is the difference between stem cells, and why is there a controversy over funding of embryonic stem cells?
Stem cells are cells that have a unique ability to develop into different types of cells. As explained in an article printed in Celebrate Life, published by American Life League (P.O. Box 1350, Stafford, VA 22555), there are currently four known sources of obtaining stem cells:
Cord blood — recovered from the umbilical cord of a living infant and used as a source of allogenic hematopoietic stem cells for bone marrow reconstitution.
Adult stem cells — recovered from mature tissues or cells within the live patient, often, but not exclusively, located in bone marrow, has been used for years in clinical treatment.
Embryonic germ cells (EG cells) — usually obtained from an aborted child, at a stage of development when the child is referred to as a fetus.
Embryonic stem cells (ES cells) — usually requires the chemical destruction of the human embryo during the blastocyst or pluripotent stage of development from an early embryo usually 6-14 days old. This form of stem cell has proposed potential to become any number of cell types.
As to the above two first sources, there is no protest.
Research involving EG cells is morally objectionable if the cells are obtained from fetal tissue derived from elective abortions. If it is obtained from a spontaneous abortion, commonly referred to as a miscarriage, it is morally acceptable to use the embryonic germ cells.
Research using ES cells is always morally objectionable, because a human life is destroyed in order to obtain ES cells.
ES cells come from an embryo. What is an embryo?
An embryo is a human being. The term "embryo" simply designates the stage of development of a human being. The embryo is not some other type of life, which later develops into a human person.
Human life goes through various stages of development, with each stage of development given a name, such as zygote, blastocyst, embryo, fetus, infant, adolescent, adult, or elderly person.
When the egg and sperm are joined, a new human being comes into existence. This single cell (a zygote) undergoes a cell division and is referred to as an embryo.
As a fact of biology, and not a matter of religious belief, the human embryo is a human being. It is not animal life or some type of plant. Each of us was once at the stage of life of an embryo.
Since embryonic stem cell research involves the destruction of the embryo, an individual human being, it is always morally unacceptable.
"Adult stem cells already have a proven track record in actual medical treatment," states Brian W. Donnelly, M.D., writing in the Lay Witness. Dr. Donnelly reports cases where heart disease and cancers (liver, breast, ovarian, kidney, and brain) have been successfully treated, as well as some cases involving diabetes, blood diseases, and autoimmune disorders. "Spinal cord injuries is one of the most promising avenues for stem cell treatment."
On the other hand, Dr. Donnelly states, "…so far embryonic stem cells have had no actual success in treating patients." He explains that, "…they are difficult to control," leading to benign overgrowth.
Comparing successful treatments using adult stem cells as compared to the use of embryonic stem cells, "the score was 73 to 0, with adult stem cells in the lead," states the doctor.
It is sad that in our country, there is no law or regulation even limiting, much less outlawing, the destruction of human embryos for the purpose of research. The issue in Congress is simply whether the federal government should fund embryonic stem cell research. There is no prohibition against the use of private funds.
The problem to the pro-death community, is that private capital for embryonic stem cell research is drying up. If embryonic stem cell research really had the potential of developing cures for illnesses, the multi-billion dollar drug industry, realizing the tremendous potential for a profit, would be pumping money into this type of research.
So the pro-death community looks to the government for taxpayer money to support its evil.
Those who support the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion up to the time of birth, for any reason or no reason at all, heavily lobbied Congress to spend such funds on embryonic stem cell research. One can only expect this, for if the parts of an aborted child could be used to obtain a great, desirable result, such as curing a dreadful disease, those favoring legalized abortion would feel justified. Any pains of conscience about killing an unborn child would be soothed by rationalizing that someone else's life would be saved or at least improved.
Even if a use of the bodies of aborted children could bring about a desirable result, the killing of an innocent person is still an evil.
This Frankenstein-like advocacy is the result of a society, which for over 32 years has accepted as morally okay, abortion on demand. We have lost our moral compass, in favor of a utopian ethic, which holds that what makes something right or wrong is whether the benefits outweigh the disadvantages or whether the "good results" are worth tolerating the "bad effects."
Each individual human life is no longer recognized as an entity in and of itself. A person's life is no longer a great value simply because he or she exists. People are valued in relationship to the wants and desires of others.
If there is no moral absolute established by God that each human life has an equal right to life, and that it is wrong to kill an innocent person, then where does one draw the line as to what is and isn't morally acceptable conduct? If what is right and wrong is simply a matter of weighing "good" against "bad," then any act can be "justified" as morally acceptable.
"…society must learn to embrace…the great gift of life, to cherish it, to protect it, and to defend it against the culture of death, itself an expression of the great fear that stalks our times." Pope John Paul II (October 2, 1998).
There are growing numbers of faith-building DVDs available now with just a little searching. Among the Bible stories are the New Testament classics, Jesus of Nazareth, The Passion of the Christ, The Gospel of John, and A.D. previously on video. There are also lesser known ones as well, like The Final Inquiry which takes place three years after the crucifixion as a Roman is sent to investigate the continuing rumors of Jesus of Nazareth.
There are, however, programs on the earliest saints, The Story of the Twelve Apostles and Mary. Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother Mother of Hope tells the story of Mary's appearance to St. Juan Diego, including stories of miracles and conversations since, and her continuing pro-life message. The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima, The Events at Garabandal, Marian Apparitions of the Twentieth Century tell of other appearances.
There are many faith-building non-Biblical stories now on DVD too. The Keys to the Kingdom, A Time to Remember, The Bells of St. Mary's, The Scarlet and the Black, The Small Miracle, The Fourth Wise Man, The Miracle of Marccelino, The Staircase, and The Inn of the Sixth Happiness are but a few of them.
There are several excellently done lives of the saints lovingly made in their countries of origin. The Italian-made Maria Goretti includes a 16-page study booklet. Also from Italy comes St. Anthony with subtitles rather than dubbing.
From France comes Bernadette, recommended by the Vatican as a "sensitive portrayal of a very moving story that deserves a wide audience," which is shown daily at Lourdes. The sequel, The Passion of Bernadette tells the rest of the story, what happened after Mary's appearances.
Becket is now on DVD with the usual extras, commentary, interviews, and more. Then there is also Xavier, Missionary and Saint.
Holy women are not excluded. We now have Thérése and The Miracle of St. Thérése, as well as Rita. The Theresa of Avila miniseries has been converted to a three-disc DVD set. Theresa of Avila: Personality and Prayer on the other hand is a practical how-to presentation.
Saint Francis was filmed on location in Assisi. Both it and Padre Pio: Miracle Man come in both a subtitled and dubbed version, both with a 16-page booklet. Don Bosco is on the same DVD as Monsieur Vincent, St. Vincent de Paul. The three saintly Poles, Sts. Faustina, Maximilian Kolbe, and Pope John Paul II, are on one DVD, Ocean of Mercy.
Also available are documentaries on newer saints, Padre Pio: Sanctus, The Healing Prophet: Solanus Casey, and Mother Teresa: The Legacy. The Life of Sr. Faustina tells her story based on her writings, including her beatification miracles. Two Suitcases tells the story of St. Josephine Bakhita, the Sudanese slave who became a Catholic, a nun, and a saint.
Among animated DVDs for children are Bernadette: The Princess of Lourdes, Francis: The Knight of Assisi, Francis Xavier: The Samurai's Lost Treasure, Patrick, The Day the Sun Danced: The True Story of Fatima, Juan Diego: Messenger of Guadalupe, and Nicholas: The Boy Who Was Santa Claus.
Besides the popular Veggie tales series teaching basic morality and Bible stories, others deal with such varied things as guardian angels, My Secret Friend, or a child-sized Ben Hur: The Race to Glory. Still others help parents teach about the Church and their Friend Jesus, The Mass Unveiled, The Way of the Cross for Children, and Children's Adoration. Champions of Faith: The Baseball Edition even brings together faith and baseball.
Further information can be found about these and future DVDs at the Leaflet Missal Company (www.leafletonline.com), Catholic Child (www.catholicchild.com) and Ignatius Press (www.ignatius.com). They are three of the companies who have branched out from Catholic publications to videos and now to DVDs.
In receiving the new American ambassador to the Vatican, Mary Ann Glendon, on February 29, Pope Benedict XVI referred to the importance of the principles of common moral law in the development of the American republic and their continued importance to America. The Pope's address follows:
"It is a pleasure for me to accept the Letters by which you are accredited Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America and to offer my cordial good wishes as you take up your new responsibilities in the service of your country. I am confident that the knowledge and experience born of your distinguished association with the work of the Holy See will prove beneficial in the fulfillment of your duties and enrich the activity of the diplomatic community to which you now belong. I also thank you for the cordial greetings which you have conveyed to me from President George W. Bush on behalf of the American people, as I look forward to my Pastoral Visit to the United States in April.
"From the dawn of the Republic, America has been, as you noted, a nation which values the role of religious belief in ensuring a vibrant and ethically sound democratic order. Your nation's example of uniting people of good will, regardless of race, nationality or creed, in a shared vision and a disciplined pursuit of the common good has encouraged many younger nations in their efforts to create a harmonious, free and just social order. Today this task of reconciling unity and diversity, of forging a common vision and summoning the moral energy to accomplish it, has become an urgent priority for the whole human family, which is increasingly aware of its interdependence and the need for effective solidarity in meeting global challenges and building a future of peace for coming generations.
"The experience of the past century, with its heavy toll of war and violence, culminating in the planned extermination of whole peoples, has made it clear that the future of humanity cannot depend on mere political compromise. Rather, it must be the fruit of a deeper consensus based on the acknowledgment of universal truths grounded in reasoned reflection on the postulates of our common humanity (cf. Message for the 2008 World Day of Peace, 13). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose sixtieth anniversary we celebrate this year, was the product of a world-wide recognition that a just global order can only be based on the acknowledgment and defense of the inviolable dignity and rights of every man and woman. This recognition, in turn, must motivate every decision affecting the future of the human family and all its members. I am confident that your country, established on the self-evident truth that the Creator has endowed each human being with certain inalienable rights, will continue to find in the principles of the common moral law, enshrined in its founding documents, a sure guide for exercising its leadership within the international community.
"The building of a global juridic culture inspired by the highest ideals of justice, solidarity and peace calls for firm commitment, hope and generosity on the part of each new generation (cf. Spe Salvi, 25). I appreciate your reference to America's significant efforts to discover creative means of alleviating the grave problems facing so many nations and peoples in our world. The building of a more secure future for the human family means first and foremost working for the integral development of peoples, especially through the provision of adequate health care, the elimination of pandemics like AIDS, broader educational opportunities to young people, the promotion of women and the curbing of the corruption and militarization which divert precious resources from many of our brothers and sisters in the poorer countries. The progress of the human family is threatened not only by the plague of international terrorism, but also by such threats to peace as the quickening pace of the arms race and the continuance of tensions in the Middle East. I take this occasion to express my hope that patient and transparent negotiations will lead to the reduction and elimination of nuclear weapons and that the recent Annapolis Conference will be the first of a series of steps towards lasting peace in the region. The resolution of these and similar problems calls for trust in, and commitment to, the work of international bodies such as the United Nations Organization, which by their nature are capable of fostering genuine dialogue and understanding, reconciling divergent views, and developing multilateral policies and strategies capable of meeting the manifold challenges of our complex and rapidly changing world.
"I cannot fail to note with gratitude the importance which the United States has attributed to interreligious and intercultural dialogue as a positive force for peacemaking. The Holy See is convinced of the great spiritual potential represented by such dialogue, particularly with regard to the promotion of nonviolence and the rejection of ideologies which manipulate and disfigure religion for political purposes, and justify violence in the name of God. The American people's historic appreciation of the role of religion in shaping public discourse and in shedding light on the inherent moral dimension of social issues - a role at times contested in the name of a straitened understanding of political life and public discourse - is reflected in the efforts of so many of your fellow-citizens and government leaders to ensure legal protection for God's gift of life from conception to natural death, and the safeguarding of the institution of marriage, acknowledged as a stable union between a man and a woman, and that of the family.
"Madam Ambassador, as you now undertake your high responsibilities in the service of your country, I renew my good wishes for the success of your work. Be assured that you may always count on the offices of the Holy See to assist and support you in the fulfillment of your duties. Upon you and your family, and upon all the beloved American people, I cordially invoke God's blessings of wisdom, strength and peace."
Beirut, Lebanon — Thirteen Iraqi refugees who had been detained in holding cells in Lebanon were released February 29 and many more will be released in coming months, thanks to the efforts of Catholic Relief Services' (CRS) partner in Lebanon. With funding from CRS and other groups, the Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center has negotiated with Lebanese authorities to release up to 300 Iraqi refugees currently detained because of their illegal immigration status.
"The Iraqi refugees were jumping up and down, hugging each other," says Melinda Burrell, Country Representative for CRS Lebanon, who witnessed the release at Beirut's Retention Center for Foreign Persons in Adlieh. All the detainees released were Iraqi men; most had been detained in cells for at least six months, and one as long as ten months. "Just let me feel the sun on my skin," said the first man released from the retention center.
Tens of thousands of Iraqi refugees who fled violence in their home country now live in Lebanon, many without visas. Several hundred have been imprisoned as illegal immigrants, sharing cells with criminals or detained in a retention center in Beirut. Currently, up to 400 Iraqis are detained.
CRS and Catholic partners from France and Italy, as well as the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR), have provided funding to regularize the status of the detainees and pay visa fees. UNHCR staff provided individual counseling to the men on the morning before their release, reassuring them that they have been granted recognized refugee status. The Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center will provide case workers to document the Iraqis' status and their families' needs.
"This is a major and unprecedented step forward, and will partly alleviate the plight of these refugees living in dreadful conditions in Lebanon," says Najla Chahda, director of the Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center. "Without CRS' support, this dream would have never come true."
The Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center also plans to create a job-sponsorship program for Iraqis in Lebanon. Iraqis who are legally hired by Lebanese sponsors will not be at risk of arrest.
"Years before the issue of Iraqi refugees became front-page news, social workers at the Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center were working with compassion and skill to help these families get on their feet once they reached Lebanon," says Ms. Burrell. "CRS is proud to support the Migrant Center's commitment to helping those who are bearing the brunt of the chaos in Iraq."
(Source: CRS press release)
Baltimore, MD — Catholic Relief Services (CRS) applauds the bipartisan compromise approved February 27 by the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee that strengthens life-saving prevention, treatment and care to persons living with HIV and AIDS provided by the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
The bill approved by the Committee authorizes up to $50 billion for PEPFAR over the next five years. The Committee adopted two improvements sought by CRS. First, it expands linkages to food and nutrition to increase the effectiveness of treatment programs. The bill also provides resources to address the shortage of healthcare workers in countries with minimal healthcare systems.
In addition, the Committee bill also addresses two problems identified by CRS. It restores a balanced approach to HIV prevention that includes support for evidence-based abstinence and behavior change prevention programs. The bill also removes language in a previous draft that would have mandated the integration of family planning and reproductive health services into HIV prevention, care and treatment. Provisions in the draft bill would have effectively both excluded CRS and other religious organizations from participation in PEPFAR and reduced the effectiveness of prevention programs.
By fixing these deficiencies, the Committee ensured that hundreds of thousands of patients in the poorest, most remote regions of the world will not be denied the life-saving treatment provided by PEPFAR.
"The strong leadership and vision exhibited today puts the interests of those millions of people affected by HIV above partisan battles," says Bill O'Keefe, senior director for advocacy at CRS. "The Committee made great strides in affirming human life and dignity today. Plenty of work remains, however, to secure passage of this vital bill."
As the lead agency of the five-partner AIDSRelief consortium, which received the largest PEPFAR grant of $335 million, CRS has helped bring antiretroviral therapy to more than 100,000 people and other care and treatment services to another 250,000 people in 9 countries. CRS is also serving more than 56,000 orphans and vulnerable children affected by HIV through a $9 million, 5-year PEPFAR program in Botswana, Haiti, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia.
(Source: CRS press release)
Because we are sons and daughters of God, saved by Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we do not merely read the news but make the news. We direct the course of world events by faith expressed in action and intercession. Please pray for the stories covered in this paper. Clip out this intercessory list and make it part of your daily prayer.
Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378, www.presentationministries.com