"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
Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate World Youth Day with young people from around the world on July 20 in Australia. The Pope will be in Australia July 17-21.
In an address to a meeting marking the 40th anniversary of Pope Paul VI's encyclical, Humanae Vitae, Pope Benedict XVI pointed out the continued relevance of this historical document.
The Pope said: ". . . In the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, the Second Vatican Council was already addressing scientists, urging them to join forces to achieve unity in knowledge and a consolidated certainty on the conditions that can favor 'the proper regulation of births' (n. 52). My Predecessor of venerable memory, the Servant of God Paul VI, published his Encyclical Letter Humanae Vitae on July 25, 1968. The Document very soon became a sign of contradiction. Drafted to treat a difficult situation, it constitutes a significant show of courage in reasserting the continuity of the Church's doctrine and tradition. This text, all too often misunderstood and misinterpreted, also sparked much discussion because it was published at the beginning of profound contestations that marked the lives of entire generations. Forty years after its publication this teaching not only expresses its unchanged truth but also reveals the farsightedness with which the problem is treated. In fact, conjugal love is described within a global process that does not stop at the division between soul and body and is not subjected to mere sentiment, often transient and precarious, but rather takes charge of the person's unity and the total sharing of the spouses who, in their reciprocal acceptance, offer themselves in a promise of faithful and exclusive love that flows from a genuine choice of freedom. How can such love remain closed to the gift of life? Life is always a precious gift; every time we witness its beginnings we see the power of the creative action of God Who trusts man and thus calls him to build the future with the strength of hope.
"The Magisterium of the Church cannot be exonerated from reflecting in an ever new and deeper way on the fundamental principles that concern marriage and procreation. What was true yesterday is true also today. The truth expressed in Humanae Vitae does not change; on the contrary, precisely in the light of the new scientific discoveries, its teaching becomes more timely and elicits reflection on the intrinsic value it possesses. The key word to enter coherently into its content remains 'love.' As I wrote in my first Encyclical Deus Caritas Est: 'Man is truly himself when his body and soul are intimately united . . .Yet it is neither the spirit alone nor the body alone that loves: it is man, the person, a unified creature composed of body and soul, who loves' (n. 5). If this unity is removed, the value of the person is lost and there is a serious risk of considering the body a commodity that can be bought or sold (cf. ibid). In a culture subjected to the prevalence of 'having' over 'being,' human life risks losing its value. If the practice of sexuality becomes a drug that seeks to enslave one's partner to one's own desires and interests, without respecting the cycle of the beloved, then what must be defended is no longer solely the true concept of love but in the first place the dignity of the person. As believers, we could never let the domination of technology invalidate the quality of love and the sacredness of life.
"It was not by chance that Jesus, in speaking of human love, alluded to what God created at the beginning of the Creation (cf. Mt 19:4-6). His teaching refers to a free act with which the Creator not only meant to express the riches of His love which is open, giving itself to all, but He also wanted to impress upon it a paradigm in accordance with which humanity's action must be declined. In the fruitfulness of conjugal love, the man and the woman share in the Father's creative act and make it clear that at the origin of their spousal life they pronounce a genuine 'yes' which is truly lived in reciprocity, remaining ever open to life. This word of the Lord with its profound truth endures unchanged and cannot be abolished by the different theories that have succeeded one another in the course of the years, and at times even been contradictory. Natural law, which is at the root of the recognition of true equality between persons and peoples, deserves to be recognized as the source that inspires the relationship between the spouses in their responsibility for begetting new children. The transmission of life is inscribed in nature and its laws stand as an unwritten norm to which all must refer. Any attempt to turn one's gaze away from this principle is in itself barren and does not produce a future.
"We urgently need to rediscover a new covenant that has always been fruitful when it has been respected; it puts reason and love first. A perceptive teacher like William of Saint-Thierry could write words that we feel are profoundly valid even for our time: 'If reason instructs love and love illumines reason, if reason is converted into love and love consents to be held within the bounds of reason, they can do something great' (De Natura et dignitate amoris, 21, 8). What is this 'something great' that we can witness? It is the promotion of responsibility for life which brings to fruition the gift that each one makes of him or herself to the other. It is the fruit of a love that can think and choose in complete freedom, without letting itself be conditioned unduly by the possible sacrifice requested. From this comes the miracle of life that parents experience in themselves, as they sense the extraordinary nature of what takes place in them and through them. No mechanical technique can substitute the act of love that husband and wife exchange as the sign of a greater mystery which (as protagonists and sharers in creation) sees them playing the lead and sharing in creation.
"Unfortunately, more and more often we see sorrowful events that involve adolescents, whose reactions show their incorrect knowledge of the mystery of life and of the risky implications of their actions. The urgent need for education to which I often refer, primarily concerns the theme of life. I sincerely hope that young people in particular will be given very special attention so that they may learn the true meaning of love and prepare for it with an appropriate education in sexuality, without letting themselves be distracted by ephemeral messages that prevent them from reaching the essence of the truth at stake. To circulate false illusions in the context of love or to deceive people concerning the genuine responsibilities that they are called to assume with the exercise of their own sexuality does not do honor to a society based on the principles of freedom and democracy. Freedom must be conjugated with truth and responsibility with the force of dedication to the other, even with sacrifice; without these components the human community does not grow and the risk of enclosing itself in an asphyxiating cycle of selfishness is always present.
"The teaching expressed by the Encyclical Humanae Vitae is not easy. Yet it conforms with the fundamental structure through which life has always been transmitted since the world's creation, with respect for nature and in conformity with its needs. Concern for human life and safeguarding the person's dignity require us not to leave anything untried so that all may be involved in the genuine truth of responsible conjugal love in full adherence to the law engraved on the heart of every person . . ."
Pope Benedict XVI addressed the needs of migrants at a May 15 meeting of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People in Vatican City.
The Pope said: ". . . During my recent visit to the United States of America, I was able to encourage that great country to continue in its commitment to welcoming the brothers and sisters who arrive there, usually from poor countries. I pointed out in particular the serious problem of family reunion, a subject I had already treated in my Message for the 93rd World Day of Migrants and Refugees, dedicated precisely to the theme. I wish to recall here that on various occasions I have presented the icon of the Holy Family as a model for migrant families, referring to the image presented by my Venerable Predecessor, Pope Pius XII, in the Apostolic Constitution Exsul Familia, which constitutes the magna carta of the pastoral care of migrants (cf. AAS 44, 1952, p. 649; Erga Migrantes Caritas Christi, n. 20; ORE, May 26, 2004, p. I). Moreover, in his Messages of 1980, 1986, and 1993, my Venerable Predecessor John Paul II intended to stress that ecclesial commitment is not only in favor of the individual migrant but also of his family, a community of love and a factor of integration.
"First of all, I am pleased to reaffirm that the Church's concern for migrant families in no way diminishes her pastoral involvement with those on the move. Indeed, this commitment to preserving unity of vision and action between the two 'wings' (migration and vagrancy) can help one understand the magnitude of the phenomenon, and at the same time be an incentive to all for a specific pastoral approach, encouraged by the Supreme Pontiffs and hoped for by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council (cf. Christus Dominus, n. 18), and appropriately upheld by documents drafted by your Pontifical Council as well as by Congresses and Meetings. One must not forget that the family, even the migrant family and the itinerant family, constitutes the original cell of society which must not be destroyed but rather defended with courage and patience. It represents the community in which from infancy the child has been taught to worship and love God, learning the grammar of human and moral values and learning to make good use of freedom in the truth. Unfortunately, in many situations it is difficult for this to happen, especially in the case of those who are caught up in the phenomenon of human mobility.
"Furthermore, in its action of welcome and dialogue with migrants and itinerant people, the Christian community has as a constant reference point, the Person of Christ our Lord. He has bequeathed to His disciples a golden rule to abide by in one's own life: the new commandment of love. Through the Gospel and the Sacraments, especially the Most Holy Eucharist, Christ continues to transmit to the Church the Love that He lived, even to death and death on a Cross. It is very significant, in this regard, that the Liturgy provides for the celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage in the heart of the Eucharistic celebration. This points to the profound bond that unites the two Sacraments. The spouses, in their daily life, must draw inspiration for their behavior from the example of Christ Who 'loved the Church and gave Himself up for her' (Eph 5:25): this supreme act of love is represented in every Eucharistic celebration. It will thus be appropriate for the pastoral care of the family to stress this important sacramental fact as its fundamental reference point. Those who attend Mass - and it is also necessary to make the celebration of it easier for migrants and itinerant people - find in the Eucharist a very strong reference to their own family, to their own marriage, and are encouraged to live their situation in the perspective of faith, seeking in divine grace the necessary strength to succeed . . ."
As the victims of the Chinese earthquake and the Olympics in China attract the media's attention and our prayers, the Chinese martyrs will also be remembered. Their feast day is July 9. The Chinese Martyrs Catholic Church in Toronto, Ontario, is named for them.
It was no mere coincidence that Pope John Paul II canonized the Chinese martyrs on October 1, the feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, patroness of the missions. Since it was also the anniversary of the founding of the Communist state in China in 1949, the People's Republic of China took offense.
The first Catholic mission in Beijing was by Italian Franciscan Giovanni de Montecorvino in 1234, who baptized thousands and founded three churches. By 1300 Chinese Catholics numbered about 30,000.
One of the first martyrs was forty-six-year-old Peter Wu Guosheng, a lay catechist, martyred in 1814. Fr. Augustine Zhao Rong and Joseph Zhang Dapeng, another lay catechist, were strangled to death in 1815. Fr. Joseph Yuan Zaide was strangled in 1817 and Fr. Paul Liu Hanzuo was martyred in 1819.
A typical story would be that of eighteen-year-old Chi Zhuzi, who cried out to those who had just cut off his right arm and were preparing to flay him alive: "Every piece of my flesh, every drop of my blood will tell you that I am Christian."
As Catholic Culture puts it on their website, www.catholicculture.org, "The fact that this considerable number of Chinese lay faithful offered their lives for Christ together with the missionaries who had proclaimed the Gospel to them and had been so devoted to them is evidence of the depth of the link that faith in Christ establishes. It gathers into a single family people of various races and cultures, strongly uniting them not for political motives but in virtue of a religion that preaches love, brotherhood, peace, and justice."
Priests and lay catechists continued to be persecuted and martyred. Fr. Thaddeus Liu Ruiting was strangled in 1823. Lay catechist Peter Liu Wenyuan was exiled to Tartary for almost twenty years. Joachim Ho was baptized at about twenty before becoming a lay catechist. When forty he was arrested, tortured, and finally exiled to Tartary, where he also remained for almost twenty years. When they returned, they were both arrested and strangled in 1834 and 1839, respectively.
By 1844 Catholics were permitted to practice their faith and by 1846 the old penalties were abolished. By 1856, however, the persecutions returned. Lawrence Bai Xiaoman was beheaded. Agnes Cao Guiying, a thirty-five-year-old widow, born into an old Christian family, was arrested for instructing young girls.
In 1858 three catechists, Jerome Lu Tingmei, Lawrence Wang Bing, Agatha Lin Zao, known as the Martyrs of MaoKou, were beheaded.
The Martyrs of Qingyanzhen, two seminarians, Joseph Zhang Wenlan and Paul Chen Changpin, a layman John Baptist Luo Tingying and their cook Martha Wang-Luo were martyred on the same day in 1861. Four lay catechists were martyred in 1862, Martin Wu Xuesheng, John Zhang Tianshen, John Chen Xianheng, and Lucy Yi Zhenmei.
An estimated 20,000 Christians were killed during China's Boxer Uprising in 1900. Among them were the Franciscan seminarians John Zhang Huan, John Wang Rui, John Zhang Jingguang, and the secular Franciscans Patrick Dong Bodi, Philip Zhang Zhihe, Peter Wu Anbang, and Matthew Feng De.
Franciscan lay catechist Simon Chen Ximan was martyred as were castechumens Zhang Huailu and Lang-Yang.
They came from all walks of life – farmers Francis Zhang Rong and James Yan Guodong, laborer Peter Zhang Banniu, manservants Thomas Shen Jihe and James Zhao Quanxin, cook Peter Wang Erman, and virgin Rose Fan Hui.
Others we know even less about, from seventy-nine-year-old Paul Liu Jinde and seven-year-old Paul Lang Fu.
The Eastern Orthodox Church has recognized 222 Albazinians who also died during the Boxer Rebellion as "Holy Martyrs of China" since 1903.
Pope Benedict XVI in his letter to the Church in China dated May 27, 2007, asked Chinese Catholics to keep May 24, The memorial of Mary, Help of Christians, as a day of prayer for the Church in China. Chinese Catholics honor Mary under this title at the Marian Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai. The Pope called Catholics throughout the world to join in prayer for the Church in China.
The Pope composed the following prayer to Our Lady of Sheshan:
Virgin Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother,
Venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title "Help of Christians,"
The entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection.
We come before you today to implore your protection.
Look upon the People of God and, with a mother's care, guide them
along the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be
a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens.
When you obediently said "Yes" in the house of Nazareth,
you allowed God's eternal Son to take flesh in your virginal womb
and thus to begin in history the work of our redemption.
You willingly and generously cooperated in that work,
allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul,
until the supreme hour of the Cross, when you kept watch on Calvary,
standing beside your Son, Who died that we might live.
From that moment, you became, in a new way,
the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith
and choose to follow in His footsteps by taking up His Cross.
Mother of hope, in the darkness of Holy Saturday you journeyed
with unfailing trust towards the dawn of Easter.
Grant that your children may discern at all times,
even those that are darkest, the signs of God's loving presence.
Our Lady of Sheshan, sustain all those in China,
who, amid their daily trials, continue to believe, to hope, to love.
May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world,
and of the world to Jesus.
In the statue overlooking the Shrine you lift your Son on high,
offering Him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love.
Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love,
ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built.
Mother of China and all Asia, pray for us, now and forever.
Fred H. Summe, vice president of Northern Kentucky Right to Life
"Candidates who support abortion on demand, the homosexual agenda, liberal attitudes towards pornography of any sort – are antithetical to our way of life and it is forbidden to support or vote for them," states Rabbi Yehuda Levin of Brooklyn, New York, as spokesman for the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada.
Wall Street Will Not Invest In It
Fifty-three percent of New Jersey voters rejected a $450 million proposal to fund human embryonic stem-cell research. Celebrate Life, published by American Life League, reports that New Jersey Right to Life (which unaffiliated itself with National Right to Life) sponsored ads in which Steven McDonald, a New York detective who was shot and severely disabled, stated: "Research [human embryonic stem-cell research] has not produced one cure. Not one. Question 2 is about taking your tax dollars for something that Wall Street and the drug companies will not invest in."
Nazi Party Steeped in Homosexuality
As reported by LifeSiteNews.com, Berlin unveiled a monument to honor homosexual victims of Nazi persecution, in spite of research indicating that many Nazis, including Adolf Hitler, were themselves actively homosexual.
In her 2006 study, The Pink Swastika as Holocaust Revisionist History, Judith A. Reisman of the Institute for Media Education demonstrates that while Hitler degraded Jews, Marxists, Negroes, Chinese, Arabs, women, and Eastern Europeans, the Fuhrer had no negative remarks for homosexuality. There was no symbol homosexuals had to wear on their clothing nor were they barred from travel, work, shopping, or public appearances.
After identifying many of the leading Nazi figures as being homosexual, including Hermann Goering, Hitler's second-in-command, Reisman states: "Adolf Hitler's homosexuality has been demonstrated beyond question by German historian Lothar Machtan's massively researched new book, The Hidden Hitler."
The following is an excerpt from the address to the Catholic Medical Association of Chicago, January 27, 2007, by the Rev. Msgr. Robert J. Dempsey, M.A., S.T.D.:
"[The Catechism of the Catholic Church] reaffirms the Church's constant teaching that homosexual acts are 'acts of grave depravity,' 'intrinsically disordered,' 'contrary to the natural law,' and a sin 'gravely contrary to chastity.' At the same time, it recognizes that for most homosexuals their condition is a trial, that they 'must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity,' and that 'every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.'
"The Catechism's phrase 'unjust discrimination' is significant, for it suggests that there are forms of discrimination that may not be unjust….In 1992 the Congregation [for the Doctrine of the Faith] said more explicitly that 'there are areas in which it is not unjust discrimination to take sexual orientation into account, for example, in the placement of children for adoption or foster care, in employment of teachers or athletic coaches, and in military recruitment.' To return to our example of kleptomaniacs, while these unfortunate people should have a place to live, food to eat and gainful employment, it is not unjust if they are forbidden to be bank tellers or security guards. Nor would an adoption agency be acting unjustly – on the contrary, it would be acting quite wisely – if it refused to place a child with a kleptomaniac couple. Such considerations apply mutates mutandis to homo-sexuals as well."
Writing in Social Justice Review, Lloyd Duplantis, P.D., a pharmacist for over 30 years, addresses adverse health effects of the contraceptive pills in the United States:
"These chemicals create a violent reaction in the finely tuned endocrine balance of a woman. The attempts to stop the most dynamic aspect of a healthy woman's physiology – her reproductive fertility – by introducing a steroid-based chemical always affects the woman negatively.
"Many pill users complain of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and mood swings…. Hypertension, gall bladder disease – often necessitating surgical removal – and liver heptomas, are some of the more common medical problems that are manifested.
"The pill has been a major factor in the development and rapid spread of AIDS. Steroidal chemicals have a suppressant effect on the immune system, thus allowing bacteria and viruses of all types more readily to attack the compromised system."
"…In 2006 the Mayo Clinic Proceeding published a study that showed premenopausal women who used oral contraceptives (oc's) prior to having their first child have a 44% higher risk of getting breast cancer than women who don't use oc's," states the Winter/December 2007 issue of The Advisor (website: www.provitaadvisors.com/).
In spite of the fact that the Vatican banned the use of the so-called "morning-after pill," also known as emergency contraception or Plan B, the Connecticut Catholic bishops informed Catholic hospitals to provide it because of a state law. In Kentucky, the four Catholic bishops issued a statement authorizing the distribution of this abortifacient in Catholic hospitals in cases of sexual assault.
When asked if the ban can be lifted for rape cases, Bishop Elio Sgreccia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, replied: "No. It is not able to prevent the rape. But it is able to eliminate the embryo. It is thus the second negative intervention on the woman," reports Celebrate Life, published by American Life League.
President of Human Life International, Fr. Tom Euteneuer, pointed out: "The truth is that there is absolutely no doubt about how the 'Plan B' pills work," citing the manufacturer's own literature that the pill, among other things, prevents implantation, or attachment of the fertilized egg in the uterus, and this, by definition, is an abortion.
Condoms and AIDS
In its April 2008 issue, The Catholic World Report exposes the Catholic Relief Services' promotion of the use of condoms to prevent the transmission of AIDS. CRS is an agency of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops.
The Catholic World Report continues quoting selections from the publications of CRS promoting among young adolescents "safer sex expressions."
UNAIDS Attacks Church
Alberto Stella, Coordinator for the UNAIDS program, blamed the Church's objection to condom use for spreading AIDS in Latin America, reports the National Catholic Register.
Norman Hearst, a family physician and epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, states: "Many people who consider themselves AIDS 'experts' believe condoms are the only answer. But, in fact, condom promotion has not worked in population-wide epidemics as a public-health strategy."
The Register reported that "When UNAIDS asked Hearst to do a scientific review to see if condom promotions had reversed HIV/AIDS epidemics, he too concluded the promotions had not simply failed: They'd backfired. To his surprise, Hearst found that countries with the most condoms per man tended to have the highest HIV rates. UNAIDS refused to publish Hearst's findings."
"Condom promotion in Africa has been a disaster," Hearst said.
"It is strange that some theologians have difficulty accepting the precise and limited doctrine of papal infallibility, but see no problem in granting de facto infallibility to everyone who has a conscience." Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, 1984.
(Editor's note: Mr. Maitre writes from Florida. He is involved in the Kairos prison ministry and gave the following Scripture reading and comments at the monthly Kairos reunion. We welcome contributions from prisoners and would like to hear from a variety of prisoners.)
My brothers, I'd like to call your attention to 1 Tm 1:15-16: "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — of whom I am the worst. But, for that very reason, I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe in Him and receive eternal life."
My friends, to fully understand this statement we need to ask, "Who was Paul?" "How did he describe himself and his past?" In Acts 22:4-5 Paul said, "I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, as also the high priest and the Council can testify. I even obtained letters from them to their brothers in Damascus and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished." We all know the story of Paul's encounter with the Lord on his way to Damascus. Paul, the persecutor, became an evangelist, traveling from Jerusalem through Turkey and Greece, into Italy and beyond. Everywhere he went Paul preached the Gospel and planted churches. Paul was a prolific writer. Paul the persecutor became Inmate Paul the persecuted. He was eventually executed for his faith.
Many of Paul's writings have come down to us today. Romans, First and Second Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, First and Second Thessalonians, First and Second Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and possibly Hebrews. That, my brothers, is almost half of the New Testament. Written by a man who at one time was persecuting and killing Christians.
What does that say to us today? Have any of us walked away from a car wreck when we shouldn't have? Been shot at? Stabbed? Been deathly ill and recovered? Had to look out the front window in the morning to see if the car was there? And had no idea how we or it got home? We survived because the hand of God was on us! Protecting us. God used Paul to establish the Church in the days of Rome. God used Paul to write half the New Testament. God has a plan for each of us! Our Lord doesn't care about our past. He didn't care about Paul's. All our past sins have been cast away from us as far as the East is from the West. God is the God of the future.
What does God want from each of us? Could it be plant-ing churches in another country? Could it be helping a local ministry reach out to others? Could it be healing broken family relationships? Could it be leading a family member, neighbor, or co-worker to Jesus? How do we find out? Simply seek the Lord in prayer. Then, when the Lord calls, don't be like Moses and say, "Who am I that I should go." (Ex 3:11) Be like Isaiah and say, "Here I am, Lord. Send me!" (Is 6:8)
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