"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
|David Endres will be ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk on May 23, 2009, at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains in Cincinnati. He is the son of Jim and Chris Endres of Fairfield, Ohio, and the nephew of the late Father Al Lauer, founder of Presentation Ministries. He will be a priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Fr. Endres will celebrate Masses of Thanksgiving on the Ascension of the Lord, Sunday, May 24, 1 p.m. at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, 400 Nilles Road, Fairfield, Ohio, and on Pentecost Sunday, May 31, at 11:30 a.m. at St. Antoninus Church, 1500 Linneman Road, Cincinnati, Ohio. All are invited to join him in the celebration of Masses of Thanksgiving for his vocation.|
The 46th World Day of Prayer for Vocations will be May 3. Pope Benedict XVI's message for the day was dated January 20. The message follows:
"On the occasion of the next World Day of Prayer for Vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life, which will be celebrated on May 3, 2009, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, I want to invite all the People of God to reflect on the theme: Faith in the divine initiative - the human response. The exhortation of Jesus to His disciples: 'Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest' (Mt 9:38) has a constant resonance in the Church. Pray! The urgent call of the Lord stresses that prayer for vocations should be continuous and trusting. The Christian community can only really 'have ever greater faith and hope in God's providence' (Sacramentum Caritatis, 26) if it is enlivened by prayer.
"The vocation to the priesthood and to the consecrated life constitutes a special gift of God which becomes part of the great plan of love and salvation that God has for every man and woman and for the whole of humanity. The Apostle Paul, whom we remember in a special way during this Pauline Year dedicated to the two-thousandth anniversary of his birth, writing to the Ephesians says, 'Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him' (Eph 1:3-4). In the universal call to holiness, of particular relevance is God's initiative of choosing some to follow His Son Jesus Christ more closely, and to be His privileged ministers and witnesses. The divine Master personally called the Apostles 'to be with Him, and to be sent out to preach and have authority to cast out demons' (Mk 3:14-15); they, in turn, gathered other disciples around them as faithful collaborators in this mission. In this way, responding to the Lord's call and docile to the movement of the Holy Spirit, over the centuries, countless ranks of priests and consecrated persons placed themselves totally at the service of the Gospel in the Church. Let us give thanks to God, because even today He continues to call together workers into His vineyard. While it is undoubtedly true that a worrisome shortage of priests is evident in some regions of the world, and that the Church encounters difficulties and obstacles along the way, we are sustained by the unshakable certitude that the one who firmly guides her in the pathways of time towards the definitive fulfillment of the Kingdom is He, the Lord, Who freely chooses persons of every culture and of every age and invites them to follow Him according to the mysterious plans of His merciful love.
"Our first duty, therefore, is to keep alive in families and in parishes, in movements and in apostolic associations, in religious communities and in all the sectors of diocesan life this appeal to the divine initiative with unceasing prayer. We must pray that the whole Christian people grows in its trust in God, convinced that the 'Lord of the harvest' does not cease to ask some to place their entire existence freely at His service so as to work with Him more closely in the mission of salvation. What is asked of those who are called, for their part, is careful listening and prudent discernment, a generous and willing adherence to the divine plan, and a serious study of the reality that is proper to the priestly and religious vocations, so as to be able to respond responsibly and with conviction.
"The Catechism of the Catholic Church rightly reminds us that God's free initiative requires a free response on the part of men and women; a positive response which always presupposes acceptance of and identification with the plan that God has for everyone; a response which welcomes the Lord's loving initiative and becomes, for the one who is called, a binding moral imperative, an offering of thanksgiving to God and a total cooperation with the plan which God carries out in history (cf. n. 2062).
"O Father, raise up among Christians numerous and holy vocations to the
priesthood, to keep the faith alive and guard the gracious memory of your Son
Jesus through the preaching of His word and the administration of the
Sacraments, with which you continually
renew your faithful."
— Pope Benedict XVI
"Contemplating the mystery of the Eucharist, which expresses in a sublime way the free gift of the Father in the Person of His Only Begotten Son for the salvation of mankind, and the full and docile readiness of Christ to drink to the dregs the 'cup' of the will of God (cf. Mt 26:39), we can more readily understand how 'faith in the divine initiative' models and gives value to the 'human response.' In the Eucharist, that perfect gift which brings to fulfillment the plan of love for the redemption of the world, Jesus offers Himself freely for the salvation of mankind. 'The Church,' my beloved predecessor John Paul II wrote, 'has received the Eucharist from Christ her Lord not as a gift – however precious – among so many others, but as the gift par excellence, for it is the gift of Himself, of His person in His sacred humanity, as well as the gift of His saving work' (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 11).
"It is priests who are called to perpetuate this salvific mystery from century to century until the Lord's glorious return, for they can contemplate, precisely in the Eucharistic Christ, the eminent model of a 'vocational dialogue' between the free initiative of the Father and the faithful response of Christ. In the celebration of the Eucharist it is Christ Himself Who acts in those whom He chooses as His ministers; He supports them so that their response develops in a dimension of trust and gratitude that removes all fear, even when they experience more acutely their own weakness (cf. Rm 8:26-28), or indeed when the experience of misunderstanding or even of persecution is most bitter (cf. Rm 8:35-39).
"The awareness of being saved by the love of Christ, which every Mass nourishes in the faithful and especially in priests, cannot but arouse within them a trusting self-abandonment to Christ Who gave His life for us. To believe in the Lord and to accept His gift, therefore, leads us to entrust ourselves to Him with thankful hearts, adhering to His plan of salvation. When this does happen, the one who is 'called' voluntarily leaves everything and submits himself to the teaching of the divine Master; hence a fruitful dialogue between God and man begins, a mysterious encounter between the love of the Lord Who calls and the freedom of man who responds in love, hearing the words of Jesus echoing in his soul, 'You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide' (Jn 15:16).
"This intertwining of love between the divine initiative and the human response is present also, in a wonderful way, in the vocation to the consecrated life. The Second Vatican Council recalls, 'The evangelical counsels of chastity dedicated to God, poverty, and obedience are based upon the words and examples of the Lord. They were further commanded by the apostles and Fathers of the Church, as well as by the doctors and pastors of souls. The counsels are a divine gift, which the Church received from its Lord and which it always safeguards with the help of His grace' (Lumen Gentium, 43).
"Once more, Jesus is the model of complete and trusting adherence to the will of the Father, to Whom every consecrated person must look. Attracted by Him, from the very first centuries of Christianity, many men and women have left families, possessions, material riches, and all that is humanly desirable in order to follow Christ generously and live the Gospel without compromise, which had become for them a school of deeply rooted holiness. Today too, many undertake this same demanding journey of evangelical perfection and realize their vocation in the profession of the evangelical counsels. The witness of these our brothers and sisters, in contemplative monasteries, religious institutes, and congregations of apostolic life, reminds the people of God of 'that mystery of the Kingdom of God is already at work in history, even as it awaits its full realization in heaven' (Vita Consecrata, 1).
"Who can consider himself worthy to approach the priestly ministry? Who can embrace the consecrated life relying only on his or her own human powers? Once again, it is useful to reiterate that the response of men and women to the divine call, whenever they are aware that it is God Who takes the initiative and brings His plan of salvation to fulfillment, is never patterned after the timid self-interest of the worthless servant who, out of fear, hid the talent entrusted to him in the ground (cf. Mt 25:14-30), but rather expresses itself in a ready adherence to the Lord's invitation, as in the case of Peter who, trusting in the Lord' word, did not hesitate to let down the net once more even after having toiled all night and catching nothing (cf. Lk 5:5). Without in any sense renouncing personal responsibility, the free human response to God thus becomes 'co-responsibility,' responsibility in and with Christ, through the action of His Holy Spirit; it becomes communion with the One Who makes it possible for us to bear much fruit (cf. Jn 15:5).
"An emblematic human response, full of trust in God's initiative, is the generous and unmitigated 'Amen' of the Virgin of Nazareth, uttered with humble and decisive adherence to the plan of the Most High announced to her by God's messenger (cf. Lk 1:38). Her prompt 'Yes' allowed her to become the Mother of God, the Mother of our Savior. Mary, after this first 'fiat,' had to repeat it many times, even up to the culminating moment of the crucifixion of Jesus, when 'standing by the cross of Jesus' as the Evangelist John notes, she participated in the dreadful suffering of her innocent Son. And it was from the cross, that Jesus, while dying, gave her to us as Mother and entrusted us to her as sons and daughters (cf. Jn 19:26-27); she is especially the Mother of priests and consecrated persons. I want to entrust to her all those who are aware of God's call to set out on the road of the ministerial priesthood or consecrated life.
"Dear friends, do not become discouraged in the face of difficulties and doubts; trust in God and follow Jesus faithfully and you will be witnesses of the joy that flows from intimate union with Him. Imitating the Virgin Mary whom all generations proclaim as blessed because she believed (cf. Lk 1:48), commit yourselves with every spiritual energy, to realize the heavenly Father's plan of salvation, cultivating in your heart, like her, the ability to be astonished and to adore Him Who is mighty and does 'great things,' for Holy is His name (cf. Lk 1:49)."
Pope Benedict XVI announced a Year for Priests running from June 19, 2009, to June 19, 2010, at a March 16 meeting of the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for the Clergy at the Vatican. The Plenary Assembly meeting focused on the missionary identity of the priest.
In his address, the Pope said . . . "The missionary dimension of the priesthood is born from the priest's sacramental configuration to Christ. As a consequence it brings with it a heartfelt and total adherence to what the ecclesial tradition has identified as apostolica vivendi forma. This consists in participation in a 'new life,' spiritually speaking, in that 'new way of life' which the Lord Jesus inaugurated and which the Apostles made their own. Through the imposition of the Bishop's hands and the consecratory prayer of the Church, the candidates become new men, they become 'presbyters.' In this light it is clear that the tria munera are first a gift and only consequently an office, first a participation in a life, and hence a potestas. Of course, the great ecclesial tradition has rightly separated sacramental efficacy from the concrete existential situation of the individual priest and so the legitimate expectations of the faithful are appropriately safeguarded. However, this correct doctrinal explanation takes nothing from the necessary, indeed indispensable, aspiration to moral perfection that must dwell in every authentically priestly heart.
"Precisely to encourage priests in this striving for spiritual perfection on which, above all, the effectiveness of their ministry depends, I have decided to establish a special 'Year for Priests' that will begin on June 19 and last until June 19, 2010. In fact, it is the 150th anniversary of the death of the Holy Curé d'Ars, John Mary Vianney, a true example of a pastor at the service of Christ's flock. It will be the task of your Congregation, in agreement with the diocesan Ordinaries and with the superiors of religious institutes to promote and to coordinate the various spiritual and pastoral initiatives that seem useful for making the importance of the priest's role and mission in the Church and in contemporary society ever more clearly perceived.
"The priest's mission, as the theme of the Plenary Assembly emphasizes, is carried out 'in the Church.' This ecclesial communal, hierarchical, and doctrinal dimension is absolutely indispensable to every authentic mission and alone guarantees its spiritual effectiveness. The four aspects mentioned must always be recognized as intimately connected: the mission is 'ecclesial' because no one proclaims himself in the first person, but within and through his own humanity every priest must be well aware that he is bringing to the world Another, God Himself. God is the only treasure which ultimately people desire to find in a priest. The mission is 'communional' because it is carried out in a unity and communion that only secondly has also important aspects of social visibility. Moreover, these derive essentially from that divine intimacy in which the priest is called to be expert, so that he may be able to lead the souls entrusted to him humbly and trustingly to the same encounter with the Lord. Lastly, the 'hierarchical' and 'doctrinal' dimensions suggest reaffirming the importance of the ecclesiastical discipline (the term has a connection with 'disciple') and doctrinal training and not only theological, initial and continuing formation.
"Awareness of the radical social changes that have occurred in recent decades must motivate the best ecclesial forces to supervise the formation of candidates for the ministry. In particular, it must foster the constant concern of Pastors for their principal collaborators, both by cultivating truly fatherly human relations and by taking an interest in their continuing formation, especially from the doctrinal and spiritual viewpoints. The mission is rooted in a special way in a good formation, developed in communion with uninterrupted ecclesial Tradition, without breaks or temptations of irregularity. In this sense, it is important to encourage in priests, especially in the young generations, a correct reception of the texts of the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, interpreted in the light of the Church's entire fund of doctrine. It seems urgent to recover that awareness that has always been at the heart of the Church's mission, which impels priests to be present, identifiable, and recognizable both for their judgment of faith, for their personal virtues as well as for the habit, in the contexts of culture and of charity.
"As Church and as priests, we proclaim Jesus of Nazareth Lord and Christ, Crucified and Risen, Sovereign of time and of history, in the glad certainty that this truth coincides with the deepest expectations of the human heart. In the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word, that is, of the fact that God became man like us, lies both the content and the method of Christian proclamation. The true dynamic center of the mission is here: in Jesus Christ, precisely. The centrality of Christ brings with it the correct appreciation of the ministerial priesthood, without which there would be neither the Eucharist, nor even the mission nor the Church herself. In this regard it is necessary to be alert to ensure that the 'new structures' or pastoral organizations are not planned on the basis of an erroneous interpretation of the proper promotion of the laity for a time in which one would have 'to do without' the ordained ministry, because in that case the presuppositions for a further dilution of the ministerial priesthood would be laid and possible presumed 'solutions' might come dramatically to coincide with the real causes of contemporary problems linked to the ministry . . ."
Fred H. Summe, vice president of Northern Kentucky Right to Life
In March, the White House and the University of Notre Dame announced that President Barack Obama would be the commencement speaker at Notre Dame's May 17 graduation and that the university would honor him with a Doctor of Law degree.
As 4,000 American unborn babies' lives daily are destroyed and their bodies torn apart by a suction abortion, poisoned by a highly concentrated salt solution, or cut to pieces by a curettage, Notre Dame honors the most pro-abortion president in U.S. history. For a university which is probably the best known Catholic school in the nation to honor an elected official whose position, prior votes, and stated commitments have supported the legalization of abortion on demand, and indeed post-natal infanticide, is indeed a grave scandal.
In this rather dark cloud, there seems to be a silver lining. In the last 30 years, not only have Catholic institutions, religious orders, agencies, priests, and hierarchy given platforms to pro-abortion public figures, but they also have honored them and financially compensated them, with little protest other than pro-life organizations, who then found themselves subject to unfounded criticism and exclusion by those who control these Church-sponsored events.
However, things have apparently changed, for now we are hearing protests not only from pro-life organizations throughout the nation, but also from a number of U.S. bishops, as well as members of the faculty and the student body at Notre Dame.
Bishop John D'Arcy, Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, announced his decision to boycott the graduation, asking Notre Dame to "recommit itself to the primacy of truth over prestige." However, the president of Notre Dame, Fr. John Jenkins, announced he would not reconsider his decision.
The Cardinal Newman Society sponsored a website (NotreDameScandal.com) and has gathered hundreds of thousands of names on a petition to Notre Dame's president urging him to reverse his decision.
How could anyone not know of President Obama's public and insistent support for legalized abortion? He was the sole senator who voted against the Induced Infant Liability Act in the Illinois legislature (in Congress it is called the Born Alive Protection Act) that would have given legal protection to children born alive from botched abortions. He also voted against the Partial Birth Abortion Ban in the U.S. Senate in October, 2007. This is a procedure in which the child is manipulated in the womb to a feet-first delivery position, and then mostly delivered with the head only retained inside the cervix. The neck is then punctured and the brain sucked out, and a dead baby is then delivered.
"If we accept that a mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill each other?. . . Abortion is the greatest destroyer of peace today."
President Obama, immediately upon taking office, overturned by executive order the Mexico City Policy, which forbade the funding of abortions and groups providing abortions outside of the U.S., allowing millions of U.S. tax dollars to go to support abortions especially in third-world countries. He declared, "I look forward to working with Congress to restore U.S. financial support for the UN Population Fund," which had been halted in 2002 when a state department investigation showed the fund was supporting China's coercive One-Child-Per-Family Policy through forced abortions and sterilizations.
President Obama reversed President Bush's limits on federal funds being used for embryonic stem cell research. Although Obama included groups like Planned Parenthood, he excluded pro-life groups from the White House Health Care Summit, which was to discuss healthcare reforms. The White House website calls for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and the promotion of gay adoptions.
Prior to his election, Obama had promised to support and sign the Freedom of Choice Act, which would nullify multiple pro-life gains made in the Congress and all states in the past 36 years – parental notification, maternal safety, born alive infant protection, partial birth abortion ban, etc.
Should not President Obama's public position and actions supporting the legalization of abortion not disqualify him from being given a platform from which to speak in a Catholic facility or honored at a Catholic event? If a public official was in favor of child abuse or legalized slavery, would not he be prohibited? And if any Catholic community or institution would invite him to speak, wouldn't the outcry be overwhelming?
Supporting legalized abortion, helping to keep the killing machine in place, disqualifies anyone, regardless of what public office they may hold, and regardless of what positions they may have on other important issues. To honor them, with an award or with a platform, gives acceptability and credibility to their stated support for the killing of unborn children. It gives scandal by encouraging others to disregard the Church's teaching that abortion is an abominable crime, which may lead others to have an abortion, or to cooperate in an abortion.
In June 2004, the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops published the governing principle: "The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors, or platforms which would suggest support for their actions."
What issue is more fundamental than the right to life? "Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights – for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture – is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with the maximum determination," taught Pope John Paul II.
It is indeed exciting and encouraging to hear protests from some bishops around the country.
Archbishop John Myers of Newark stated: "When we extend honors to people who do not share our respect and reverence for life in all stages, and give them a prominent stage in our parishes, schools, and other institutions, we unfortunately create the perception that we endorse their public positions on these issues."
"For President Obama to be honored by Notre Dame is more than a disappointment, it is a scandal," states Bishop Edward J. Slattery of Tulsa.
The Bishop of Sioux City, R. Walker Nickless, stated: "Catholic institutions of higher learning must always be places where the Catholic values we hold so dearly will always be supported and promoted – not where the culture of death is allowed to be honored or valued."
In a public letter, Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix calls the decision of Fr. Jenkins "…a public act of disobedience to the bishops of the United States."
Statements of a number of other bishops can be found on LifeSiteNews.com.
Dr. Charles Rice, Emeritus Professor of Law at the University, suggested "that Fr. Jenkins and the other Fellows and Trustees responsible for this fiasco should resign or be removed."
"…By inviting Barack Obama as commencement speaker, Notre Dame is telling the nation that the teaching of the Catholic Church on this fundamental issue [abortion] can be ignored," wrote Dr. Ralph McInerny, a professor at Notre Dame, reports The Wanderer.
As reported in LifeSiteNews.com, a dozen student groups at the university issued a statement chastising the administration for ignoring "fundamental moral principles." The students expressed their concern that the university has put students in "a moral dilemma as to whether they should attend their own graduation."
"Many pro-life seniors, along with their families, are conflicted about whether to participate in the commencement ceremony," write the students. "The lack of concern for these devoted sons and daughters of Notre Dame, who love this University and the Catholic principles on which it was built, is shameful."
The undermining of the culture of life, and the harm done to the Catholic Church by the decision of Notre Dame, is well summarized in an editorial published by the Wall Street Journal, penned by William McGurn: "In the end, the result is moral incoherence. It is an incoherence in which abortion-rights advocates have the most to gain, because it demoralizes those who support the cause of life while removing fears of even the slightest social sanction for those who do not. And it is an incoherence we see all across American Catholic life today."
One can write to Fr. John Jenkins, CSC, Office of the President, 400 Main Building, Notre Dame, IN 46556.
We pray that someday the University of Notre Dame will again be an honor to the woman after which it has been named.
Crossbearer: A Memoir of Faith by Joe Eszterhas has become a bestseller at Amazon.com. Reviewer G. Grant sums it up well at their website, "He is still the same, raw guy, telling it like it is in his brusque, humorous style. His life turns around, due to three incidents; he comes down with diagnosed incurable throat cancer; has a miraculous cure, and he experiences a religious, curbside enlightenment when his life is at the bottom ebb."
Eszterhas has already told much of his life story in Hollywood Animal and The Devil's Guide to Hollywood. Then it was about the Hollywood lifestyle and the challenges of being a screenwriter. Now his story is more a story about faith, Catholic faith.
Jerry Felty writes, "One part that stands out is his love of his mother who suffered from mental illness much of her life and died with her rosary. As horrible as life must have been for her, she never relinquished the comfort of her belief in Our Blessed Mother."
It is also the story of how he came from post-World War II refugee camps and grew up poor in Cleveland, Ohio. That Eszterhaus' parents made little effort to learn English or assimilate into American culture didn't help. He clawed his way to the top to become the highest paid screenwriter, getting three million dollars for "Basic Instinct." "I'm sorry for some things I did and said," he confesses.
He begins raising four sons with his second wife on the beach. "We didn't want them to become surfers," he says, so the family went back home to Ohio, to Holy Angels Church, Bainbridge township.
Predictably, since he had been smoking since the age of 12, he was diagnosed with cancer and, in the process of recovery, he stopped drinking and smoking when God came to him. "I've discovered that fighting cancer is a breeze compared to fighting certain directors." Now he has to learn to deal with hard-to-deal-with neighbors and kids' coaches.
Dennis Doverspike wrote at Amazon, "What Eszterhas does well is describe how the Church makes it difficult these days to be Catholic," the narrow way, "while at the same time describing the sense of community the Church provides."
Victor G. Kakavas wrote, "Often we forget the power of faith and prayer, only to go back to it when we really need it. We are all guilty of that — that is why this book is a must read. If anything, this book will make you re-examine your own life and hopefully bring you closer to your faith."
When asked what his next project is, Joe says simply, "I'm going to raise our boys and love my wife forever."
At Jesus' Tomb
by Michael P. Davis
(Mr. Davis writes from MS. We welcome contributions from prisoners. We would like to hear from a variety of prisoners.)
Today, as I prayed before Mass, I had a "waking dream." In it I found myself standing among the faithful, who were praying outside the garden tomb in Jerusalem.
Suddenly the earth trembled like a bass receiver and the stone that once sealed the tomb rolled back into place. As soon as it closed, the sun began to swell in the sky! As it got larger and larger, the light from it turned blue and I saw the people fall to their knees! As soon as the sun consumed the entire sky, a voice from heaven called and said, "It will not be opened until My return." Just as the voice stopped, the sky became as it was and all was quiet for a while, then there was weeping like a chorus of cries from hell!
Major changes in media and communications technologies have impacted relationships, culture, dialogue, and friendship throughout the world. The 43rd World Day of Communications on May 24 will address some of these. The Pope's message for this Day is released each year on January 24, the feast of St. Frances de Sales, patron of the Catholic Press. Pope Benedict XVI's message follows:
"In anticipation of the forthcoming World Communications Day, I would like to address to you some reflections on the theme chosen for this year - New Technologies, New Relationships: Promoting a Culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship. The new digital technologies are, indeed, bringing about fundamental shifts in patterns of communication and human relationships. These changes are particularly evident among those young people who have grown up with the new technologies and are at home in a digital world that often seems quite foreign to those of us who, as adults, have had to learn to understand and appreciate the opportunities it has to offer for communications. In this year's message, I am conscious of those who constitute the so-called digital generation and I would like to share with them, in particular, some ideas concerning the extraordinary potential of the new technologies, if they are used to promote human understanding and solidarity. These technologies are truly a gift to humanity and we must endeavor to ensure that the benefits they offer are put at the service of all human individuals and communities, especially those who are most disadvantaged and vulnerable.
"The accessibility of mobile telephones and computers, combined with the global reach and penetration of the Internet, has opened up a range of means of communication that permit the almost instantaneous communication of words and images across enormous distances and to some of the most isolated corners of the world; something that would have been unthinkable for previous generations. Young people, in particular, have grasped the enormous capacity of the new media to foster connectedness, communication, and understanding between individuals and communities, and they are turning to them as means of communicating with existing friends, of meeting new friends, of forming communities and networks, of seeking information and news, and of sharing their ideas and opinions. Many benefits flow from this new culture of communication: families are able to maintain contact across great distances; students and researchers have more immediate and easier access to documents, sources and scientific discoveries, hence they can work collaboratively from different locations; moreover, the interactive nature of many of the new media facilitates more dynamic forms of learning and communication, thereby contributing to social progress.
"While the speed with which the new technologies have evolved in terms of their efficiency and reliability is rightly a source of wonder, their popularity with users should not surprise us, as they respond to a fundamental desire of people to communicate and to relate to each other. This desire for communication and friendship is rooted in our very nature as human beings and cannot be adequately understood as a response to technical innovations. In the light of the biblical message, it should be seen primarily as a reflection of our participation in the communicative and unifying Love of God, Who desires to make of all humanity one family. When we find ourselves drawn towards other people, when we want to know more about them and make ourselves known to them, we are responding to God's call - a call that is imprinted in our nature as beings created in the image and likeness of God, the God of communication and communion.
"The desire for connectedness and the instinct for communication that are so obvious in contemporary culture are best understood as modern manifestations of the basic and enduring propensity of humans to reach beyond themselves and to seek communion with others. In reality, when we open ourselves to others, we are fulfilling our deepest need and becoming more fully human. Loving is, in fact, what we are designed for by our Creator. Naturally, I am not talking about fleeting, shallow relationships, I am talking about the real love that is at the very heart of Jesus' moral teaching: 'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength' and 'You must love your neighbor as yourself' (cf. Mk 12:30-31). In this light, reflecting on the significance of the new technologies, it is important to focus not just on their undoubted capacity to foster contact between people, but on the quality of the content that is put into circulation using these means. I would encourage all people of good will who are active in the emerging environment of digital communication to commit themselves to promoting a culture of respect, dialogue and friendship.
"Those who are active in the production and dissemination of new media content, therefore, should strive to respect the dignity and worth of the human person. If the new technologies are to serve the good of individuals and of society, all users will avoid the sharing of words and images that are degrading of human beings, that promote hatred and intolerance, that debase the goodness and intimacy of human sexuality, or that exploit the weak and vulnerable.
"The new technologies have also opened the way for dialogue between people from different countries, cultures, and religions. The new digital arena, the so-called cyberspace, allows them to encounter and to know each other's traditions and values. Such encounters, if they are to be fruitful, require honest and appropriate forms of expression together with attentive and respectful listening. The dialogue must be rooted in a genuine and mutual searching for truth if it is to realize its potential to promote growth in understanding and tolerance. Life is not just a succession of events or experiences: it is a search for the true, the good, and the beautiful. It is to this end that we make our choices; it is for this that we exercise our freedom; it is in this - in truth, in goodness, and in beauty - that we find happiness and joy. We must not allow ourselves to be deceived by those who see us merely as consumers in a market of undifferentiated possibilities, where choice itself becomes the good, novelty usurps beauty, and subjective experience displaces truth.
"The concept of friendship has enjoyed a renewed prominence in the vocabulary of the new digital social networks that have emerged in the last few years. The concept is one of the noblest achievements of human culture. It is in and through our friendships that we grow and develop as humans. For this reason, true friendship has always been seen as one of the greatest goods any human person can experience. We should be careful, therefore, never to trivialize the concept or the experience of friendship. It would be sad if our desire to sustain and develop on-line friendships were to be at the cost of our availability to engage with our families, our neighbors, and those we meet in the daily reality of our places of work, education, and recreation. If the desire for virtual connectedness becomes obsessive, it may in fact function to isolate individuals from real social interaction while also disrupting the patterns of rest, silence, and reflection that are necessary for healthy human development.
"Friendship is a great human good, but it would be emptied of its ultimate value if it were to be understood as an end in itself. Friends should support and encourage each other in developing their gifts and talents and in putting them at the service of the human community. In this context, it is gratifying to note the emergence of new digital networks that seek to promote human solidarity, peace and justice, human rights and respect for human life and the good of creation. These networks can facilitate forms of cooperation between people from different geographical and cultural contexts that enable them to deepen their common humanity and their sense of shared responsibility for the good of all. We must, therefore, strive to ensure that the digital world, where such networks can be established, is a world that is truly open to all. It would be a tragedy for the future of humanity if the new instruments of communication, which permit the sharing of knowledge and information in a more rapid and effective manner, were not made accessible to those who are already economically and socially marginalized, or if it should contribute only to increasing the gap separating the poor from the new networks that are developing at the service of human socialization and information.
"I would like to conclude this message by addressing myself, in particular, to young Catholic believers: to encourage them to bring the witness of their faith to the digital world. Dear Brothers and Sisters, I ask you to introduce into the culture of this new environment of communications and information technology the values on which you have built your lives. In the early life of the Church, the great Apostles and their disciples brought the Good News of Jesus to the Greek and Roman world. Just as, at that time, a fruitful evangelization required that careful attention be given to understanding the culture and customs of those pagan peoples so that the truth of the Gospel would touch their hearts and minds, so also today, the proclamation of Christ in the world of new technologies requires a profound knowledge of this world if the technologies are to serve our mission adequately. It falls, in particular, to young people, who have an almost spontaneous affinity for the new means of communication, to take on the responsibility for the evangelization of this 'digital continent.' Be sure to announce the Gospel to your contemporaries with enthusiasm. You know their fears and their hopes, their aspirations and their disappointments: the greatest gift you can give to them is to share with them the 'Good News' of a God Who became man, Who suffered, died and rose again to save all people. Human hearts are yearning for a world where love endures, where gifts are shared, where unity is built, where freedom finds meaning in truth, and where identity is found in respectful communion. Our faith can respond to these expectations: may you become its heralds! The Pope accompanies you with his prayers and his blessing."
Washington — The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops reports:
"Cardinal Francis George is urging Catholics in the United States to tell the
Obama Administration to retain Health and Human Services regulations governing
conscience protections for health care workers.is is vital to keep the government from 'moving our
country from democracy to despotism,' said Cardinal George, President of the
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He delivered the
message via video available on the Web at http://www.usccb.org/
"Those who want to protect conscience rights can speak
out through an action alert at http://www.usccb.org/
Cardinal George stated: ". . . On . . . February 27, the Obama Administration placed on a federal website the news that it intends to remove a conscience protection rule for the Department of Health and Human Services. That rule is one part of the range of legal protections for health care workers—for doctors, nurses, and others—who have objections in conscience to being involved in abortion and other killing procedures that are against how they live their faith I God.
"As Catholic bishops and American citizens, we are deeply concerned that such an action on the government's part would be the first step in moving our country from democracy to despotism. Respect for personal conscience and freedom of religion as such ensures our basic freedom from government oppression. No government should come between an individual person and God—that's what America is supposed to be about. This is the true common ground for us as Americans. We therefore need legal protection for freedom of conscience and of religion—including freedom for religious health care institutions to be true to themselves.
"Conscientious objection against many actions is a part of our life. We have a conscientious objection against war for those who cannot fight, even though it's good to defend your country. We have a conscientious objection for doctors against being involved in administering the death penalty. Why shouldn't our government and our legal system permit conscientious objection to a morally bad action, the killing of babies in their mother's womb? People understand what really happens in an abortion and in related procedures—a living member of the human family is killed—that's what it's all about—and no one should be forced by the government to act as though he or she were blind to this reality.
"I ask you please "I ask you please to let the government know that you want conscience protections to remain strongly in place. In particular, let the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington know that you stand for the protection of conscience, especially now for those who provide the health care services so necessary for a good society. Thank you and God bless you."
(Source: USCCB 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.
Divine Spirit of light and love, I consecrate my mind
and heart and will to You for time and for eternity. May my mind be open
to Your divine inspirations and to the teachings of the Church, whose
infallible guide You are. May my heart be filled with love of God and of
my neighbor and my will conformed to the will of God. May my whole life
be a faithful imitation of the life and virtues of Christ our Lord to Whom,
with the Father and You, be honor and glory forever.
- Pope St. Pius X -
Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378, www.presentationministries.com