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My People

Vol. 22, Issue 2, February 2009

"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

Fighting Poverty Is Crucial In Building Peace

The annual World Day of Peace was observed in the Catholic Church on January 1. In his message for this day, dated December 8, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI wrote:

"Once again, as the new year begins, I want to extend good wishes for peace to people everywhere. With this Message I would like to propose a reflection on the theme: Fighting Poverty to Build Peace. Back in 1993, my venerable Predecessor Pope John Paul II, in his Message for the World Day of Peace that year, drew attention to the negative repercussions for peace when entire populations live in poverty. Poverty is often a contributory factor or a compounding element in conflicts, including armed ones. In turn, these conflicts fuel further tragic situations of poverty. 'Our world,' he wrote, 'shows increasing evidence of another grave threat to peace: many individuals and indeed whole peoples are living today in conditions of extreme poverty. The gap between rich and poor has become more marked, even in the most economically developed nations. This is a problem which the conscience of humanity cannot ignore, since the conditions in which a great number of people are living are an insult to their innate dignity and as a result are a threat to the authentic and harmonious progress of the world community' [1].

"In this context, fighting poverty requires attentive consideration of the complex phenomenon of globalization. This is important from a methodological standpoint, because it suggests drawing upon the fruits of economic and sociological research into the many different aspects of poverty. Yet the reference to globalization should also alert us to the spiritual and moral implications of the question, urging us, in our dealings with the poor, to set out from the clear recognition that we all share in a single divine plan: we are called to form one family in which all – individuals, peoples, and nations – model their behavior according to the principles of fraternity and responsibility.

"This perspective requires an understanding of poverty that is wide-ranging and well articulated. If it were a question of material poverty alone, then the social sciences, which enable us to measure phenomena on the basis of mainly quantitative data, would be sufficient to illustrate its principal characteristics. Yet we know that other, non-material forms of poverty exist which are not the direct and automatic consequence of material deprivation. For example, in advanced wealthy societies, there is evidence of marginalization, as well as affective, moral, and spiritual poverty, seen in people whose interior lives are disoriented and who experience various forms of malaise despite their economic prosperity. On the one hand, I have in mind what is known as 'moral underdevelopment' [2], and on the other hand the negative consequences of 'superdevelopment' [3]. Nor can I forget that, in so-called 'poor' societies, economic growth is often hampered by cultural impediments which lead to inefficient use of available resources. It remains true, however, that every form of externally imposed poverty has at its root a lack of respect for the transcendent dignity of the human person. When man is not considered within the total context of his vocation, and when the demands of a true 'human ecology' [4] are not respected, the cruel forces of poverty are unleashed, as is evident in certain specific areas that I shall now consider briefly one by one.

Poverty and moral implications

"Poverty is often considered a consequence of demographic change. For this reason, there are international campaigns afoot to reduce birth-rates, sometimes using methods that respect neither the dignity of the woman, nor the right of parents to choose responsibly how many children to have [5]; graver still, these methods often fail to respect even the right to life. The extermination of millions of unborn children, in the name of the fight against poverty, actually constitutes the destruction of the poorest of all human beings. And yet it remains the case that in 1981, around 40% of the world's population was below the threshold of absolute poverty, while today that percentage has been reduced by as much as a half, and whole peoples have escaped from poverty despite experiencing substantial demographic growth. This goes to show that resources to solve the problem of poverty do exist, even in the face of an increasing population. Nor must it be forgotten that, since the end of the Second World War, the world's population has grown by four billion, largely because of certain countries that have recently emerged on the international scene as new economic powers, and have experienced rapid development specifically because of the large number of their inhabitants. Moreover, among the most developed nations, those with higher birth-rates enjoy better opportunities for development. In other words, population is proving to be an asset, not a factor that contributes to poverty.

"Another area of concern has to do with pandemic diseases, such as malaria, tuberculosis, and AIDS. Insofar as they affect the wealth-producing sectors of the population, they are a significant factor in the overall deterioration of conditions in the country concerned. Efforts to rein in the consequences of these diseases on the population do not always achieve significant results. It also happens that countries afflicted by some of these pandemics find themselves held hostage, when they try to address them, by those who make economic aid conditional upon the implementation of anti-life policies. It is especially hard to combat AIDS, a major cause of poverty, unless the moral issues connected with the spread of the virus are also addressed. First and foremost, educational campaigns are needed, aimed especially at the young, to promote a ethic that fully corresponds to the dignity of the person; initiatives of this kind have already borne important fruits, causing a reduction in the spread of AIDS. Then, too, the necessary medicines and treatment must be made available to poorer peoples as well. This presupposes a determined effort to promote medical research and innovative forms of treatment, as well as flexible application, when required, of the international rules protecting intellectual property, so as to guarantee necessary basic healthcare to all people.

"A third area requiring attention in programs for fighting poverty, which once again highlights its intrinsic moral dimension, is child poverty. When poverty strikes a family, the children prove to be the most vulnerable victims: almost half of those living in absolute poverty today are children. To take the side of children when considering poverty means giving priority to those objectives which concern them most directly, such as caring for mothers, commitment to education, access to vaccines, medical care and drinking water, safeguarding the environment, and above all, commitment to defense of the family and the stability of relations within it. When the family is weakened, it is inevitably children who suffer. If the dignity of women and mothers is not protected, it is the children who are affected most.

"A fourth area needing particular attention from the moral standpoint is the relationship between disarmament and development. The current level of world military expenditure gives cause for concern. As I have pointed out before, it can happen that 'immense military expenditure, involving material and human resources and arms, is in fact diverted from development projects for peoples, especially the poorest who are most in need of aid. This is contrary to what is stated in the Charter of the United Nations, which engages the international community and States in particular "to promote the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security with the least diversion for armaments of the world's human and economic resources" (art. 26)' [6].

"This state of affairs does nothing to promote, and indeed seriously impedes, attainment of the ambitious development targets of the international community. What is more, an excessive increase in military expenditure risks accelerating the arms race, producing pockets of underdevelopment and desperation, so that it can paradoxically become a cause of instability, tension, and conflict. As my venerable Predecessor Paul VI wisely observed, 'the new name for peace is development' [7]. States are therefore invited to reflect seriously on the underlying reasons for conflicts, often provoked by injustice, and to practice courageous self-criticism. If relations can be improved, it should be possible to reduce expenditure on arms. The resources saved could then be earmarked for development projects to assist the poorest and most needy individuals and peoples: efforts expended in this way would be efforts for peace within the human family.

"A fifth area connected with the fight against material poverty concerns the current food crisis, which places in jeopardy the fulfillment of basic needs. This crisis is characterized not so much by a shortage of food, as by difficulty in gaining access to it and by different forms of speculation: in other words, by a structural lack of political and economic institutions capable of addressing needs and emergencies. Malnutrition can also cause grave mental and physical damage to the population, depriving many people of the energy necessary to escape from poverty unaided. This contributes to the widening gap of inequality, and can provoke violent reactions. All the indicators of relative poverty in recent years point to an increased disparity between rich and poor. No doubt the principal reasons for this are, on the one hand, advances in technology, which mainly benefit the more affluent, and on the other hand, changes in the prices of industrial products, which rise much faster than those of agricultural products and raw materials in the possession of poorer countries. In this way, the majority of the population in the poorest countries suffers a double marginalization, through the adverse effects of lower incomes and higher prices.

Global solidarity and the fight against poverty

"One of the most important ways of building peace is through a form of globalization directed towards the interests of the whole human family [8]. In order to govern globalization, however, there needs to be a strong sense of global solidarity [9] between rich and poor countries, as well as within individual countries, including affluent ones. A 'common code of ethics' [10] is also needed, consisting of norms based not upon mere consensus, but rooted in the natural law inscribed by the Creator on the conscience of every human being (cf. Rom 2:14-15). Does not every one of us sense deep within his or her conscience a call to make a personal contribution to the common good and to peace in society? Globalization eliminates certain barriers, but is still able to build new ones; it brings peoples together, but spatial and temporal proximity does not of itself create the conditions for true communion and authentic peace. Effective means to redress the marginalization of the world's poor through globalization will only be found if people everywhere feel personally outraged by the injustices in the world and by the concomitant violations of human rights. The Church, which is the 'sign and instrument of communion with God and of the unity of the entire human race' [11] will continue to offer her contribution so that injustices and misunderstandings may be resolved, leading to a world of greater peace and solidarity.

"In the field of international commerce and finance, there are processes at work today which permit a positive integration of economies, leading to an overall improvement in conditions, but there are also processes tending in the opposite direction, dividing and marginalizing peoples, and creating dangerous situations that can erupt into wars and conflicts. Since the Second World War, international trade in goods and services has grown extraordinarily fast, with a momentum unprecedented in history. Much of this global trade has involved countries that were industrialized early, with the significant addition of many newly-emerging countries which have now entered onto the world stage. Yet there are other low-income countries which are still seriously marginalized in terms of trade. Their growth has been negatively influenced by the rapid decline, seen in recent decades, in the prices of commodities, which constitute practically the whole of their exports. In these countries, which are mostly in Africa, dependence on the exportation of commodities continues to constitute a potent risk factor. Here I should like to renew an appeal for all countries to be given equal opportunities of access to the world market, without exclusion or marginalization.

"A similar reflection may be made in the area of finance, which is a key aspect of the phenomenon of globalization, owing to the development of technology and policies of liberalization in the flow of capital between countries. Objectively, the most important function of finance is to sustain the possibility of long-term investment and hence of development. Today this appears extremely fragile: it is experiencing the negative repercussions of a system of financial dealings – both national and global – based upon very short-term thinking, which aims at increasing the value of financial operations and concentrates on the technical management of various forms of risk. The recent crisis demonstrates how financial activity can at times be completely turned in on itself, lacking any long-term consideration of the common good. This lowering of the objectives of global finance to the very short term reduces its capacity to function as a bridge between the present and the future, and as a stimulus to the creation of new opportunities for production and for work in the long term. Finance limited in this way to the short and very short term becomes dangerous for everyone, even for those who benefit when the markets perform well [12].

"All of this would indicate that the fight against poverty requires cooperation both on the economic level and on the legal level, so as to allow the international community, and especially poorer countries, to identify and implement coordinated strategies to deal with the problems discussed above, thereby providing an effective legal framework for the economy. Incentives are needed for establishing efficient participatory institutions, and support is needed in fighting crime and fostering a culture of legality. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that policies which place too much emphasis on assistance underlie many of the failures in providing aid to poor countries. Investing in the formation of people and developing a specific and well-integrated culture of enterprise would seem at present to be the right approach in the medium and long term. If economic activities require a favorable context in order to develop, this must not distract attention from the need to generate revenue. While it has been rightly emphasized that increasing per capita income cannot be the ultimate goal of political and economic activity, it is still an important means of attaining the objective of the fight against hunger and absolute poverty. Hence, the illusion that a policy of mere redistribution of existing wealth can definitively resolve the problem must be set aside. In a modern economy, the value of assets is utterly dependent on the capacity to generate revenue in the present and the future. Wealth creation therefore becomes an inescapable duty, which must be kept in mind if the fight against material poverty is to be effective in the long term.

"If the poor are to be given priority, then there has to be enough room for an ethical approach to economics on the part of those active in the international market, an ethical approach to politics on the part of those in public office, and an ethical approach to participation capable of harnessing the contributions of civil society at local and international levels. International agencies themselves have come to recognize the value and advantage of economic initiatives taken by civil society or local administrations to promote the emancipation and social inclusion of those sectors of the population that often fall below the threshold of extreme poverty and yet are not easily reached by official aid. The history of twentieth-century economic development teaches us that good development policies depend for their effectiveness on responsible implementation by human agents and on the creation of positive partnerships between markets, civil society, and States. Civil society in particular plays a key part in every process of development, since development is essentially a cultural phenomenon, and culture is born and develops in the civil sphere [13].

"As my venerable Predecessor Pope John Paul II had occasion to remark, globalization 'is notably ambivalent' [14] and therefore needs to be managed with great prudence. This will include giving priority to the needs of the world's poor, and overcoming the scandal of the imbalance between the problems of poverty and the measures which have been adopted in order to address them. The imbalance lies both in the cultural and political order and in the spiritual and moral order. In fact we often consider only the superficial and instrumental causes of poverty without attending to those harbored within the human heart, like greed and narrow vision. The problems of development, aid, and international cooperation are sometimes addressed without any real attention to the human element, but as merely technical questions – limited, that is, to establishing structures, setting up trade agreements, and allocating funding impersonally. What the fight against poverty really needs are men and women who live in a profoundly fraternal way and are able to accompany individuals, families, and communities on journeys of authentic human development.


"In the Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, John Paul II warned of the need to 'abandon a mentality in which the poor – as individuals and as peoples – are considered a burden, as irksome intruders trying to consume what others have produced.' The poor, he wrote, 'ask for the right to share in enjoying material goods and to make good use of their capacity for work, thus creating a world that is more just and prosperous for all' [15]. In today's globalized world, it is increasingly evident that peace can be built only if everyone is assured the possibility of reasonable growth: sooner or later, the distortions produced by unjust systems have to be paid for by everyone. It is utterly foolish to build a luxury home in the midst of desert or decay. Globalization on its own is incapable of building peace, and in many cases, it actually creates divisions and conflicts. If anything it points to a need: to be oriented towards a goal of profound solidarity that seeks the good of each and all. In this sense, globalization should be seen as a good opportunity to achieve something important in the fight against poverty, and to place at the disposal of justice and peace resources which were scarcely conceivable previously.

"The Church's social teaching has always been concerned with the poor. At the time of the Encyclical Letter Rerum Novarum, the poor were identified mainly as the workers in the new industrial society; in the social Magisterium of Pius XI, Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, and John Paul II, new forms of poverty were gradually explored, as the scope of the social question widened to reach global proportions [16]. This expansion of the social question to the worldwide scale has to be considered not just as a quantitative extension, but also as a qualitative growth in the understanding of man and the needs of the human family. For this reason, while attentively following the current phenomena of globalization and their impact on human poverty, the Church points out the new aspects of the social question, not only in their breadth but also in their depth, insofar as they concern man's identity and his relationship with God. These principles of social teaching tend to clarify the links between poverty and globalization and they help to guide action towards the building of peace. Among these principles, it is timely to recall in particular the 'preferential love for the poor' [17], in the light of the primacy of charity, which is attested throughout Christian tradition, beginning with that of the early Church (cf. Acts 4:32-36; 1 Cor 16:1; 2 Cor 8-9; Gal 2:10).

" 'Everyone should put his hand to the work which falls to his share, at once and immediately,' wrote Leo XIII in 1891, and he added: 'In regard to the Church, her cooperation will never be wanting, be the time or the occasion what it may' [18]. It is in the same spirit that the Church to this day carries out her work for the poor, in whom she sees Christ [19], and she constantly hears echoing in her heart the command of the Prince of Peace to His Apostles: 'Vos date illis manducare – Give them something to eat yourselves' (Lk 9:13). Faithful to this summons from the Lord, the Christian community will never fail, then, to assure the entire human family of her support through gestures of creative solidarity, not only by 'giving from one's surplus,' but above all by 'a change of life-styles, of models of production and consumption, and of the established structures of power which today govern societies' [20]. At the start of the New Year, then, I extend to every disciple of Christ and to every person of good will a warm invitation to expand their hearts to meet the needs of the poor and to take whatever practical steps are possible in order to help them. The truth of the axiom cannot be refuted: 'to fight poverty is to build peace.' "

[1] Message for the 1993 World Day of Peace, 1.

[2] Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, 19.

[3] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 28.

[4] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 38.

[5] Cf. Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, 37; John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 25.

[6] Benedict XVI, Letter to Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino on the occasion of the International Seminar organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace on the theme: "Disarmament, Development, and Peace. Prospects for Integral Disarmament," April 10, 2008: L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, April 30, 2008, p. 2.

[7] Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, 87.

[8] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 58.

[9] Cf. John Paul II, Address to the Christian Associations of Italian Working People, April 27, 2002, 4: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XXV:1 (2002), p. 637.

[10] John Paul II, Address to the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, April 27, 2001, 4: L'Osservatore Romano, English Edition, May 2, 2001, p. 7.

[11] Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 1.

[12] Cf. Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 368.

[13] Cf. ibid., 356.

[14] Address to Leaders of Trade Unions and Workers' Associations, May 2, 2000, 3: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XXIII, 1 (2000), p. 726.

[15] No. 28.

[16] Cf. Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, 3.

[17] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 42; cf. Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 57.

[18] Encyclical Letter Rerum Novarum, 45.

[19] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 58.

[20] Ibid.

Lay Ministry Remains Urgent

Pope Benedict XVI addressed participants in a meeting of the Pontifical Council of the Laity in Vatican City on November 15. The Holy Father said:

". . . The Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles laici defined the magna charta for Catholic laity of our time and is the mature fruit of the reflections and of the exchange of experiences and proposals and of the reflections of the 7th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which took place in the month of October in 1987 on the theme 'Vocation and mission of the laity in the Church and in the world.' It involved an organic revisiting of the Second Vatican Council's teachings in regard to lay people: the dignity of the baptized, the vocation to holiness, belonging to the ecclesial communion, participation in the building of the Christian community and the Church's mission, witness in all social contexts and commitment to service of the person for the individual's integral development and for the common good of society themes present above all in the Constitutions Lumen gentium and Gaudium et spes, as well as in the Decree Apostolicam actuositatem.

"While taking up again the teachings of the Council, Christifideles laici orients the discernment, examination, and orientation of lay efforts within the Church faced with the social changes of these years. In many different Churches lay participation has grown thanks to pastoral, diocesan, and parish councils revealing itself to be very positive insofar as it is animated by an authentic sensus Ecclesiae. The clear awareness of the Church's charismatic dimension has brought about an appreciation and esteemed the more simple charisma that Divine Providence bestows on individuals as well as those that bring great spiritual, educational, and missionary fecundity. Not by chance does the Document recognize and encourage the 'new era of group endeavors of the lay faithful.' It is a sign of the 'richness and the versatility of resources that the Holy Spirit nourishes in the ecclesial community' (n. 29), which indicate the ecclesial 'criteria' necessary on one side for the discernment of Pastors and on the other side for growth of the life of lay associations, ecclesial movements, and new communities. In this respect I would like to thank the Pontifical Council for the Laity in a very special way, for the work completed during the last decades to welcome, accompany, discern, recognize, and encourage these ecclesial realities, favoring the knowledge of their Catholic identity, helping them to insert themselves more fully into the great tradition and the living fabric of the Church, and promoting their missionary development.

"To speak of Catholic laity means to refer to the countless baptized persons working in multiple and various circumstances to grow as disciples and witnesses of the Lord and to rediscover and experience the beauty in the truth and joy of being Christians. The current cultural and social condition renders still more urgent this apostolic action to generously share in the treasure of grace and holiness, of charity, doctrine, culture, and works, from which the stream of Catholic tradition flows. The new generations are not only the preferred audience of this transmission and sharing but also those whose hearts await truth and happiness in order to be able to give Christian witness, as happens already in an admirable way. I myself have been witness to it in Sydney at the recent World Youth Day. And therefore, I encourage the Pontifical Council for the Laity to continue the work of this providential global youth pilgrimage in the name of Christ, and to work at the promotion of youth ministry and their authentic education everywhere.

"I also know of your commitment regarding issues of special importance, such as that of the dignity and participation of women in the life of the Church and of society. I have already had the opportunity to appreciate the Convention you sponsored 20 years from the promulgation of the Apostolic Letter Mulieris dignitatem on the theme 'Woman and Man, the Humanum in its Entirety.' Man and woman, equal in dignity, are called to enrich themselves mutually in communion and collaboration, not only in matrimony and in the family, but also in society and all of its dimensions. Christian women are asked to be knowledgeable of and courageous in facing their demanding work, for which, however, they do not lack the support of a distinct tendency towards holiness, of a special acuteness in the discernment of our time's cultural currents, and of the particular passion for human care that characterizes them. Enough cannot be said for how much the Church recognizes, appreciates, and values women's participation in her mission of service to the spreading of the Gospel.

"Allow me, dear friends, a last reflection regarding the secular nature that is characteristic of the lay faithful. The world within the scheme of family life, its working and social life is a theological place, an environment and a means in which and through which to realize their vocation and mission (cf. Christifideles laici, 15-17). Every milieu, circumstance, and activity in which we engage that can become resplendent with the unity of faith and life is entrusted to the responsibility of lay faithful, moved by the desire to communicate the gift of encounter with Christ and the certainty of the human person's dignity. It is their duty to take up the witness of charity especially with the most poor, suffering, and needy just as it is to assume every Christian task aimed to construct conditions of ever greater justice and peace within human coexistence, thus opening new horizons to the Gospel! Therefore I ask the Pontifical Council for the Laity to follow with diligent pastoral care the formation, witness, and collaboration of lay faithful in the most varied situations, in which the authentic nature of human life in society is at risk. In a particular way, I confirm the necessity and urgency of the evangelical formation and pastoral accompaniment of a new generation of Catholics working in politics, that they be coherent with the professed faith, that they have moral firmness, the capacity of educated judgment, professional competence, and passion for service to the common good.

"Work in the Lord's large vineyard needs Christifideles laici who, like the Most Holy Virgin Mary, speak and live the 'fiat' to God's plan in their life . . .

In Defense of Life: In The News

Fred H. Summe

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

by Fred H. Summe

Only One Child Allowed

China's "one-child" family planning policy "…led to forced abortions and sterilizations and a dangerously imbalanced sex ratio due to the traditional preference for male heirs, which has prompted countless families to abort female fetuses. The policy continues to engender anger and resentment, especially among farmers in the countryside because of the sometimes brutal methods used to endorse it, such as heavy fines and the seizure of property. Local authorities themselves face demotions, criticism, or the loss of jobs if they fail to hit population targets." Cincinnati Enquirer

"In China and Vietnam, heavy fines are levied on the families of 'illegal' children, and the children themselves are denied residency, food rations, healthcare, and even schooling. Elements of such policies are found in South Korea, India, and other countries with rigorous family planning programs.

"Whether they [population control groups] are trying to contracept or sterilize women directly, or educate and employ them out of hearth and home, they blithely dismiss the desire of some women to have children." Population Research Institute

"It is true that children require hard work on the part of parents. But it is precisely this work of love which develops the other-centered habit of thinking, and mature growth in responsibility in the character of the mother and father. Despite its challenge, there are few other joys as great as receiving love and delight from one's children and knowing that the love one gives is essential to them." Kathleen Curran Sweeney, writing in the Social Justice Review

Climate Change

"While they [extreme environmentalists] insist on saving humanity from itself, they stress the need for vastly reducing the world's population," warns the Mindszenty Report.

"No goal is more crucial to healing the global environment than stabilizing human population." Al Gore

"I am a believer in the Catholic understanding of faith and morals. I reserve my leaps of faith for religion, e.g., the Incarnation and Redemption. I am certainly skeptical about extravagant claims of impending manmade climate catastrophes, because the evidence is insufficient.

"Climate change has always been occurring.

"In the 1970s some scientists were predicting a new ice age because of global cooling. Today other scientists are predicting an apocalypse because of global warming. It is no disrespect to science or scientists to take these latest claims with a grain of salt." Cardinal George Pell of Australia


"Many physicians have concluded that suicide is a true failure of medical care…All of them indicate that they've been able to support all patients sufficiently in every necessary way, which requires careful examination and compassionate and effective care." Celebrate Life, published by American Life League

"In European hospitals, especially in Holland, euthanasia is drastically on the rise. It is not only the elderly who are at risk. Many Dutch doctors openly admit that they regularly commit eugenic infanticide on defective children. …In Europe the debate has progressed from not whether euthanasia is right or wrong but how to regulate it." Mindszenty Report

The columnist Nat Hentoff, a self-described secular Jew, contended that the death of Terri Schiavo was "the longest public execution in American history." Hentoff further states: "Most Americans did not know that 29 major national disability-rights organizations filed legal briefs and lobbied Congress to understand that this was not a right-to-die case, but one about the right to continue living." Lifewatch, published by the Taskforce of United Methodists on Abortion and


"The first thing I'd do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act," stated Sen. Barack Obama in 2008.

"FOCA is the most radical piece of abortion legislation ever considered by the U.S. Congress. Its goal is to create a fundamental right to abortion and to sweep away the more than 300 federal, state, or local regulations that currently exist." Columbia, published by the Knights of Columbus

Last summer, Amnesty International affirmed its new policy of support for legal abortion, stating: "Amnesty International finds it unacceptable for women . . . to be denied access to abortion services." The Catholic World Report

Prudential Judgment Versus Intrinsic Evil

"In some moral matters the use of reason allows for a legitimate diversity in our prudential judgments. Catholic voters may differ, e.g., on what constitutes the best immigration policy. Catholics may even have differing judgments on the state's use of the death penalty or the decision to wage a just war. Since such judgments do not involve a direct choice of something evil, it is possible for Catholic voters to arrive at different, even opposing judgments. …A correct conscience recognizes that there are some choices that always involve doing evil and which can never be done even as a means to a good end. These choices include abortion, euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, the destruction of embryonic human beings in stem cell research, human cloning, and same-sex 'marriage.' Such acts are judged to be intrinsically evil, that is, evil in and of themselves, regardless of our motives or the circumstances." Moral Principles for Catholic Voters, issued by the four Bishops of Kansas

"When we have [a politician with a pro-abortion stand] who has that stand on a disqualifying issue, then the other issues, in many ways, do not matter because they are already wrong on that most absolutely fundamental issue." Bishop Robert Vasa, Bishop of Baker, Oregon

Duty of Christians

"If you want equal justice for all, and true freedom and lasting peace, then America, defend life!"
— Pope John Paul II

Speaking of Christians today, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, said, "Our true problem is not being a minority, but rather having voluntarily become marginal, irrelevant, because of our lack of courage, so that we will be left alone, because of our mediocrity. For Christians, the moment has arrived to free themselves from a false inferiority complex…to be valiant witnesses of Christ."

"If we really love this country, and if we really treasure our faith, living our Catholic beliefs without excuses or apologies, and advancing them in the public square, are the best expressions of patriotism we can give to the nation. American Catholics need to be more Catholic, not less; and not simply 'more Catholic,' but more authentically and unselfishly Catholic – in the way we live our personal lives, and in our public words and actions. That includes our political choices," states Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver.

Prison To Praise: In Awe Of You

by A. J. Casson
(Editor's note: Mr. Casson writes from Missouri. We welcome contributions from prisoners. We would like to hear from a variety of prisoners.)

Lord God, You are the most powerful being in all the universe. Though mighty You are, You have never forgotten Your love, For all Your children here on earth. And that's why I'm in awe of You.

Lord God, you could demand that we abide by Your laws! But instead, You wait patiently hoping that one day, We will see Your saving light! And that's why I'm in awe of You.

Lord God, You could at anytime, Turn Your back on us, but You never have. Instead, You heal the sick and feed the poor. And that's why I'm in awe of You.

Lord God, You sent Your only son Jesus to live among us. And at Your bidding, he could have been an all powerful King! Who held absolute dominion over all the lands of the earth! But instead, for us Jesus died an agonizing death, nailed to a cross.

So Satan and death could be defeated. And for the first time we, God's people, Could obtain forgiveness of sins. And that's why I'm in awe of You.

And best of all, Jesus gave us the promise, Of eternal life with You in heaven. And that, my Lord, is why as Christians, We are all in awe of You.

Pope Telegrams President Obama

Pope Benedict XVI sent a telegram to new American President Barack Obama. The telegram was made public on January 20 and reads:

Sacred Heart of Jesus,
we place our
trust in You!

"On the occasion of your inauguration as the 44th President of the United States of America I offer cordial good wishes, together with the assurance of my prayers that almighty God will grant you unfailing wisdom and strength in the exercise of your high responsibilities. Under your leadership may the American people continue to find in their religious and political heritage the spiritual values and ethical principles needed to cooperate in the building of a truly just and free society, marked by respect for the dignity, equality, and rights of each of its members, especially the poor, the outcast, and those who have no voice. At a time when so many of our brothers and sisters throughout the world yearn for liberation from the scourge of poverty, hunger, and violence I pray that you will be confirmed in your resolve to promote understanding, cooperation, and peace among the nations, so that all may share in the banquet of life which God wills to set for the whole human family (cf. Isaiah 25:6-7). Upon you and your family, and upon all the American people, I willingly invoke the Lord's blessings of joy and peace."

Make Me An Instrument Of Your Peace

(Saint Francis Prayer)

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

Light to the Nations: A Christian Perspective on World News

Church Appeals for Peace in Gaza

Vatican city — Pope Benedict XVI made an appeal for peace in the Gaza Strip after the Angelus on January 4. He indicated: "The Patriarchs and the Heads of the Christian Churches in Jerusalem today, in all the Churches in the Holy Land, ask the faithful to pray for an end to the conflict in the Gaza Strip and to implore justice and peace for their land. I join them and I also ask you to do the same, remembering, as they say, 'the victims, the wounded, and the broken-hearted . . . for those living in panic and fear, that God may bless them with calm, tranquility, and true peace.'

"The tragic news reaching us from Gaza shows how the rejection of dialogue leads to situations that bear unspeakably heavily upon the peoples who are once again victims of hatred and war. War and hatred do not resolve problems. Very recent history also confirms this. Let us pray, therefore, that 'the Child in the manger . . . may inspire the authorities and those responsible on both sides, Israeli and Palestinian, to take immediate action to put an end to the current tragic situation.' "

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, addressed a special United Nations meeting on the situation in the Gaza Strip on January 9 in Geneva, Switzerland. Archbishop Tomasi's statement follows: "The Delegation of the Holy See would like to express its solidarity with both the people in Gaza, who are dying and suffering because of the on-going military assault by the Israeli Defense Forces, and the people in Sderot, Ashkelon, and other Israeli cities who are living under the constant terror of rocket attacks launched by Palestinian militants from within the Gaza-strip, which have caused casualties and wounded a number of people.

"The Patriarchs and Heads of churches of Jerusalem marked last Sunday as a day of prayer with the intention to put an end to the conflict in Gaza and to restore peace and justice in the Holy Land. It is their conviction that the continuation of bloodshed and violence will not lead to peace and justice but breed more hatred and hostility and thus a continued confrontation between the two peoples. These religious leaders call upon both parties to return to their senses and refrain from all violent acts, which only bring destruction and tragedy. They urge them instead to work to resolve their differences through peaceful and non-violent means.

"The Holy Father, Benedict XVI, underlined last Sunday that the refusal of dialogue between the parties has led to unspeakable suffering for the population in Gaza, victims of hatred and war.

"Mr. President, it is evident that the warring parties are not able to exit from this vicious circle of violence without the help of the international community that should therefore fulfill its responsibilities, intervene actively to stop the bloodshed, provide access for emergency humanitarian assistance, and end all forms of confrontation. At the same time, the international community should remain engaged in removing the root causes of the conflict that can only be resolved within the framework of a lasting solution of the greater Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the international resolutions adopted during the years.

"May I conclude with the words of Pope Benedict XVI pronounced yesterday during the annual meeting with diplomats accredited to the Holy See: 'Once again I would repeat that military options are no solution and that violence, wherever it comes from and whatever form it takes, must be firmly condemned. I express my hope that, with the decisive commitment of the International community, the ceasefire in the Gaza-strip will be re-established — an indispensable condition for restoring acceptable living conditions to the population — and that negotiations for peace will resume, with the rejection of hatred, acts of provocation, and the use of arms . . ."

(Source: L'Osservatore Romano, English edition)

Pray The News

Because we are sons and daughters of God, saved by Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we do not merely read the news but make the news. We direct the course of world events by faith expressed in action and intercession. Please pray for the stories covered in this paper. Clip out this intercessory list and make it part of your daily prayer.

  •  We pray for the new Obama administration to be under the lordship of Jesus.
  •  We pray to be open to the Holy Spirit in determining how to change our life-styles and to be in solidarity with the poor.
  •  We pray for a true understanding of the causes of poverty and for effective efforts for development.
  •  We pray for respect for life at all stages and for each human person.
  •  We pray for lay ministers to do God's work on earth.
  •  We pray for a greater love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
  •  We pray for peace throughout the world and especially in the Middle East.

Edge To Edge

by Michael Halm

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Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378,



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