"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
|Mother Teresa visits CRS headquarters in 1996 accompanied by her friend Sean Callahan, left, and an unidentified man from her entourage. Photo by CRS staff.|
In his message for World Mission Sunday, which will be celebrated on October 24, Pope Benedict XVI stressed the opportunity for renewed commitment to spreading the Gospel. The message, dated February 6, follows:
"The month of October, with the celebration of World Mission Sunday, offers to diocesan and parish communities, institutes of consecrated life, ecclesial movements, and the entire People of God an opportunity to renew the commitment to proclaim the Gospel and to give pastoral activities greater missionary perspective. This annual event invites us to live intensely the liturgical and catechetical, charitable, and cultural processes through which Jesus Christ summons us to the banquet of His word and of the Eucharist, to taste the gift of His presence, to be formed at His school, and to live ever more closely united to Him, our teacher and Lord. He Himself tells us, 'He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him' (Jn 14: 21). Only on the basis of this encounter with the Love of God that changes life can we live in communion with Him and with one another and offer our brothers and sisters a credible witness, accounting for the hope that is in us (cf. 1 Pt 3:15). An adult faith, capable of entrusting itself totally to God with a filial attitude fostered by prayer, meditation on the word of God, and study of the truth of the faith, is a prerequisite for furthering a new humanism founded on the Gospel of Jesus.
The good God does not need years to accomplish His work of love in a soul; one ray from His Heart can, in an instant, make His flower bloom for eternity.
– St. Thérése of Lisieux
"Furthermore, in many countries the various ecclesial activities are resumed in October, after the summer break, and the Church invites us to learn from Mary, by praying the Holy Rosary, to contemplate the Father's plan of love for humanity, to love her as He loves her. Is not this also the meaning of mission?
"Indeed, the Father calls us to be sons and daughters loved in the beloved Son, and to recognize that we are all brothers and sisters in Him Who is the gift of salvation for humanity divided by discord and sin, and the revealer of the true face of God Who 'so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life' (Jn 3: 16).
" 'We wish to see Jesus' (Jn 12:21), is the request in John's Gospel that some Greeks, who had arrived in Jerusalem for the paschal pilgrimage, address to the Apostle Philip. It also resonates in our hearts during this month of October which reminds us that the commitment to, and task of, Gospel proclamation is a duty of the whole Church, 'by her very nature missionary' (Ad gentes, n. 2), and invites us to become champions of the newness of life made up of authentic relationships in communities founded on the Gospel. In a multiethnic society that is experiencing increasingly disturbing forms of loneliness and indifference, Christians must learn to offer signs of hope and to become universal brethren, cultivating the great ideals that transform history and, without false illusions or useless fears, must strive to make the planet a home for all peoples.
"Like the Greek pilgrims of two thousand years ago, the people of our time too, even perhaps unbeknown to them, ask believers not only to 'speak' of Jesus, but to 'make Jesus seen,' to make the face of the Redeemer shine out in every corner of the earth before the generations of the new millennium and especially before the young people of every continent, the privileged ones to whom the Gospel proclamation is intended. They must perceive that Christians bring Christ's word because He is the truth, because they have found in Him the meaning and the truth for their own lives.
"These considerations refer to the missionary mandate that all the baptized and the entire Church have received but that cannot be fulfilled without a profound personal, community and pastoral conversion. In fact, awareness of the call to proclaim the Gospel not only encourages every individual member of the faithful but also all diocesan and parish communities to integral renewal and ever greater openness to missionary cooperation among the Churches, to promote the proclamation of the Gospel in the heart of every person, of every people, culture, race, and nationality in every place. This awareness is nourished through the work of Fidei Donum priests, consecrated people, catechists, and lay missionaries in the constant endeavor to encourage ecclesial communion so that even the phenomenon of 'interculturality' may be integrated in a model of unity in which the Gospel is a leaven of freedom and progress, a source of brotherhood, humility, and peace (cf. Ad gentes, n. 8). The Church in fact 'is in the nature of sacrament a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all men' (Lumen gentium, n. 1).
It is difficult to become a saint. Difficult, but not impossible. The road to perfection is long as one’s lifetime. Along the way, consolation becomes rest; but as soon as your strength is restored, you must diligently get up and resume the trip.
– St. Padre Pio
"Ecclesial communion is born from the encounter with the Son of God, Jesus Christ, Who, through the Church's proclamation reaches out to human beings and creates fellowship with Himself and hence with the Father and the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Jn 1:3).
Christ establishes the new relationship between man and God. 'He reveals to us that "God is love" (1 Jn 4:8) and at the same time teaches us that the fundamental law of human perfection, and consequently of the transformation of the world, is the new commandment of love. He assures those who trust in the charity of God that the way of love is open to all men and that the effort to establish a universal brotherhood will not be in vain' (Gaudium et spes, n. 38).
"The Church becomes 'communion' on the basis of the Eucharist in which Christ, present in bread and in wine with His sacrifice of love builds the Church as His Body, uniting us with the Triune God and with one another (cf. 1 Cor 10: 16ff.). In the Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum caritatis I wrote, 'The love that we celebrate in the sacrament is not something we can keep to ourselves. By its very nature it demands to be shared with everyone. What the world needs is God's love; it needs to encounter Christ and to believe in Him' (n. 84). For this reason the Eucharist is not only the source and summit of the Church's life, but also of her mission: 'an authentically Eucharistic Church is a missionary Church' (ibid.), which can bring all to communion with God, proclaiming with conviction 'that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us' (1 Jn 1:3).
"Dear friends, on this World Mission Sunday in which the heart's gaze extends to the immense spaces of mission, let us all be protagonists of the Church's commitment to proclaim the Gospel. The missionary impulse has always been a sign of vitality for our Churches (cf. Encyclical Letter, Redemptoris missio, n. 2), with their cooperation and their unique witness of unity, brotherhood, and solidarity that gives credibility to heralds of the Love that saves!
“No undertaking, perhaps, is so pleasing to God as supporting the Missionary work of the Church. All who are reckoned Christians or boast of that name must contribute their support either by their prayers or by an offering according to their means.”
"I therefore renew to everyone the invitation to pray and, despite financial difficulties, to offer fraternal and concrete help to support the young Churches. This act of love and sharing, which the precious service of the Pontifical Missionary Societies to which I express my gratitude will see to allocating, will support the formation of priests, seminarians, and catechists in the most distant mission lands and will encourage the young ecclesial communities.
"At the end of this annual Message for World Mission Sunday, I would like with special affection to express my gratitude to missionaries who bear witness to the coming of the Kingdom of God in the most remote and challenging places, often with their lives. To them, who are in the vanguard of the Gospel's proclamation, every believer offers friendship, closeness, and support. May God Who loves a cheerful giver (cf. 2 Cor 9: 7) fill them with spiritual fervor and deep joy.
"As with the 'Yes' of Mary, every generous response of the ecclesial community to the Divine invitation to love our brothers and sisters, will raise up a new Apostolic and ecclesial motherhood (cf. Gal 4:4, 19, 26), leaving us struck by the mystery of the God of love Who 'when the time had fully come . . . sent forth His Son, born of a woman' (Gal 4:4) to give faith and boldness to the new Apostles. Such a response will make everyone capable 'rejoicing in hope' (Rom 12: 12) by realizing the project of God, Who wills 'that the whole human race form one people of God, be united in the one body of Christ, and be built up into one temple of the Holy Spirit' (Ad gentes, n. 7)."
(Patrick Carney is the associate web producer, writer, and editor for Catholic Relief Services. He is based in CRS headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland. This article is reprinted with permission.)
“How can there be too
many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers.”
– Mother Teresa
The phone rang in Sean Callahan's new office in Calcutta, India. The soft voice on the line told him to start loading trucks with supplies and to be ready to leave in two hours.
People in neighboring Bangladesh, struggling with heavy flooding, needed help quickly. Despite knowing that traffic wasn't being allowed to cross the border into Bangladesh, Sean obliged and readied the trucks.
As the aid trucks approached the border, to no surprise, a line of trucks were being stopped and inspected by border patrols. When patrolmen approached the truck, the driver pointed to his traveling companion, the soft-spoken woman who organized the trip. When the patrolman saw Mother Teresa sitting in the front seat of the lead truck and her sisters in the Missionaries of Charity in each of the other trucks, they were promptly escorted to the front of the line and allowed to cross the border and offer aid to suffering Bangladeshis.
Mother Teresa, who was born on August 26, 100 years ago, had a long history of working with Catholic Relief Services to help the poor across the globe. Her inspiration helps CRS carry on her mission today.
After taking over as CRS' country representative for eastern India in 1994, Sean's first order of business was to meet with Mother Teresa to discuss the relationship between CRS and her sisters of the Missionaries of Charity.
"She was always very available to CRS," Sean says. "She credited CRS with being the organization that provided, before they really got going, a lot of their early assistance. Whenever they needed support or help, they came to CRS."
Mother Teresa, often in partnership with CRS, worked every day to fulfill her mission of helping the poorest of the poor.
The Missionaries of Charity and CRS continue to work closely on a daily basis to provide an orphanage for children in Calcutta. CRS helps the sisters running the orphanage near their Mother House by providing nutritional food and education for the children.
Among Mother Teresa's many passions was operating a center for the dying in Calcutta. To Mother Teresa,
this was a place where anybody could come to receive care, treatment, and companionship in their final days. Sean was one of many people to see the Missionaries of Charity in action by volunteering in the center.
”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.”
– Mother Teresa
"No one should be forgotten," Sean says of Mother Teresa's philosophy. "Even those who are suffering and that are dying, and that may not recover and may not be productive citizens also should have the opportunity for human dignity and respect and to finish their life here in a manner that we'd all feel comfortable with. If you went to any of her centers or places, the fact that people were doing this work joyfully, to me, was the incredible part."
Beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2003, Blessed Mother Teresa was revered for her tireless work in Calcutta by people of all faiths in the region. Her center for the dying was often staffed by Christian, Hindu, and Muslim volunteers who worked happily to help those in need regardless of religious affiliation.
"Sometimes there would be traffic jams in Calcutta, as you can imagine. Sometimes people would move out of the way and they'd say 'Mother's coming' and people would let her go through," Sean says.
Mother Teresa also had a personal relationship with CRS and our staff in Calcutta by making herself available to offer advice and counsel to CRS staffers.
"It really was more like a familial relationship than a partner relationship," Sean says of his time working with Mother Teresa.
In the fall of 1995, Sean was stricken with multiple illnesses that required his return to the United States to take a new job at CRS headquarters in Baltimore.
On his last trip to Calcutta before starting his new post at CRS, Sean stopped to see the sisters of the Missionaries of Charity one more time. He was told that Mother Teresa was visiting the United States in May, and she would love to visit with him in Baltimore.
Even though her itinerary had been finalized with the U.S. Secret Service, which provided the security for her trip, Mother Teresa requested that the plans be changed to accommodate a brief visit to CRS headquarters.
On May 30, 1996, CRS staffers and their families lined a long hallway inside the former CRS headquarters building just to catch a brief glimpse of Mother Teresa during her short visit. Instead, Mother Teresa, acknowledging her longtime relationship with CRS, insisted on speaking to the audience and personally greeted everyone who showed up to meet her.
Mother Teresa's work demonstrated her true passion for helping the poorest of the poor live a life of dignity. Through her work with the Missionaries of Charity and her relationship with CRS, she was able to touch the lives of people across the world. Along with the Missionaries of Charity, CRS continues Mother Teresa's work throughout the world to help those most in need.
"It was just her whole presence and atmosphere," Sean says. "You'd have to admire and smile as you saw her."
In their Labor Day statement, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) urged a new social contract for "New Things" in today's economy. The statement was released August 24 and dated September 6 (Labor Day) by Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, NY, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. My People is printing the statement which follows because of the importance of the issues.
Labor Day Statement:
"This year has been difficult for many workers. Most heart-rending, of course, are those who lost their lives. The nation still mourns the twenty-nine West Virginia miners who died when the earth around them collapsed. We still grieve for the eleven riggers who died in the Gulf of Mexico when their oil derrick exploded. We are still saddened as the work life of the entire Gulf Coast is damaged or destroyed by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. These are just the most visible examples of workers whose lives have been lost. But others suffer as well. Many millions are jobless or have a family member or friend who is among the fifteen million unemployed or the additional eleven million workers who only can find part-time work. Far too many have been unemployed for months, some even years. This is a pervasive failure of our economy today.
"Despite many efforts, our country and our economy have not recovered from the financial and economic failures that overwhelmed us three years ago. Unemployment remains at 9.5 percent. There seems to be no quick fix or lasting remedy. Reports indicate an eight million job 'deficit' — jobs that existed when the recession began but have since disappeared. And with employers adding only about 100,000 jobs per month, it could take nearly seven years just to get back to where we were. In other words, to bring down the unemployment rate, the economy would have to create another 100,000 jobs per month. Yet another 131,000 jobs were lost in July.
"We cannot create many new jobs unless there are new investments, initiatives, and creativity in the economy. Previous decades saw the kind of growth in the economy that led to a 20 percent increase in jobs. That is not the case today. While our country has become increasingly a service-based economy, we have not succeeded in replacing whole areas of creative productivity that gave the U.S. economy the strength and stability it had in the past.
"Today, as old assumptions collapse, many are calling for a new 'social contract.' They suggest that this is a crucial moment in American history in which America is undergoing a rare economic transformation, shedding jobs and testing safety nets as the nation searches for new ways to govern and grow our economy. Workers need a new 'social contract.' Currently, the rewards and 'security' that employers and society offer workers in return for an honest day's work do not reflect the global economy of the 21st century in which American workers are now trying to compete.
"The Church faces the challenging task of bringing the light of the Gospel to these changing realities. In 1891, Pope Leo XIII issued what has become the Magna Carta of Catholic social teaching, Rerum Novarum, in which he dealt with the major shifts in production and new growth in productivity brought about by the Industrial Revolution that had seemingly moved the world into a new age.
"Pope Leo addressed what he called the res novae, or 'new things' of that time. European society was in many ways split into two ideological camps, one socialist, demanding collectivist organization with much governmental control and the other then called 'liberal,' arguing that the entrepreneurs and those who owned the means of production should be free to develop markets with the most able, or ruthless, rising to prominence and wealth by whatever means they could find. Neither option seemed morally correct to the Pope.
"The Holy Father insisted on the value and dignity of the worker as a human being endowed with rights and responsibilities. He commended free association or unions as legitimate and he insisted on a family wage that corresponded to the needs of the worker and family. He opened the way to humanize the industrial revolution and to bring Catholic principles about the person in society to factories and farms, markets and economies of a changing world.
"That encyclical provided moral, and even spiritual, guidance for many of the great social reforms of the last century, including advances in public health, the banking system, public education, living wages, unions, and income security through the creation of Social Security, unemployment insurance, and similar programs. Then, as today, the Church was concerned about the balance between capital and labor, between owners and workers, when new technologies — whether steam engines, electricity, computers, or modern communications whatever it might be — disrupt that balance and put economic justice and the social contract up for re-negotiation.
"Pope Benedict XVI confronts this same challenge directly and clearly in his most recent encyclical, Caritas in Veritate. More than 100 years of papal 'social encyclicals' have given the Church a number of principles based on the Gospels and the lived experience of the Church. These principles and experience are now an integral part of Church teaching that have built on
Pope Leo's encyclical with both continuity and new insights. To all these Pope Benedict has added a new theological vision expressed by the very title of his letter: Caritas in Veritate, or Charity in Truth.
"One of the principal 'new things' addressed by Pope Benedict is globalization. Like Pope Paul VI before him, Pope Benedict uses the centrality of integral human development as one of the basic criteria to address the challenges of an interdependent world. Here the economic realities of one nation or one society are constantly being influenced by some or all of the economies and cultures of the rest of the world.
"As a Church with a long tradition of bringing the light of the Gospel to the concrete social, economic, political, and cultural questions of the day, Pope Benedict reminds us this Labor Day that we as a nation and people do not live in isolation, we influence and are influenced by our brothers and sisters in all the nations, economies, and cultures that make up this globalized world. More than ever, the dignity of the worker is a foundation upon which we should measure much of what is good, and not so good, in the financial, industrial, and service sectors of our economy and our world.
"Work is a good for every person. Productive work receives its intrinsic value from the worker who gives of him or herself in the workplace. People without work retain their innate dignity as a human person; they lack, however, one of the major avenues for self-expression and self-fulfillment. Work is that aspect of life that allows us to care for ourselves and those we love and to contribute to the wider society. Thus, through our work and productivity, we provide for ourselves and our dear ones and contribute to the good of our society and to the common good of our nation and world.
"While it is not the role of the Church to propose a concrete economic blueprint for the future, the words of Pope Benedict should remind us that a key, perhaps the key, to overcoming the current economic situation is to unleash the creative forces of men and women. People, not things, must be the center — and the ultimate measure — of new initiatives for our nation's economy, as well as the economies in which we are in competitive and cooperative relationships around the world.
" 'Unemployment today provokes new forms of economic marginalization, and the current crisis can only make this situation worse,' the Pope writes. 'Being out of work or dependent on public or private assistance for a prolonged period undermines the freedom and creativity of the person and his family and social relationships, causing great psychological and spiritual suffering. I would like to remind everyone, especially governments engaged in boosting the world's economic and social assets, that the primary capital to be safeguarded and valued is man, the human person in his or her integrity' (CV #25, emphasis in the original). Placing the human person at the center of economic life advances the cause of justice.
"For the worker without employment, a job is the major issue. But jobs are not individual 'things' whose worth can be measured by numbers. Jobs are the result of initiatives creating markets that offer new opportunities in response to new challenges. These are not limited to our economy in isolation from others. Our economy should stimulate greater productivity, new jobs, and new wealth. Our economy, in tandem with others, should provide workers jobs, wages, and benefits to support themselves and their families through expanded productivity, wise policies, and healthier markets.
"Pope Benedict links three interrelated components of society in a way that offers a hint at a new way or renewed way to think about a better future. They are the market, the state, and civil society. He says, 'In the global era, the economy is influenced by competitive models tied to cultures that differ greatly among themselves. The different forms of economic enterprise to which they give rise find their main point of encounter in commutative justice. Economic life undoubtedly requires contracts, in order to regulate relations of exchange between goods of equivalent value. But it also needs just laws and forms of redistribution governed by politics, and what it is more, it needs works redolent of the spirit of gift' (CV 37).
"This last point, redolent of the spirit of gift or 'unconditional gift,' is a Christian understanding that the world and all of creation is a gift from God. Pope Benedict introduces this theological concept with a challenge to us to expand our horizons. He challenges us by introducing this theological sense of life as a gift from God and asks us if it does not have a place in our deliberations about life in the marketplace. If there is 'nothing human foreign to the Gospel' as Pope Paul VI often said, then the very real human challenges of a productive marketplace with good jobs for all might be in some way shaped by this expanded and demanding notion of gift.
"His words suggest something else as well. The interaction of the market, the state, and civil society may well be in need of re-assessment and re-evaluation to renew the way the various parts of our society, economy, and productivity engage with one another. Catholic social teaching on the economy, the political community, and society is spelled out in The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. The role of the market is clearly the major force for the development of a sound economy. The state has played and continues to play an important, perhaps increasingly important, role in the economy and in the regulation of markets. At times, the market and the state seem to be the only two factors; sometimes in collaboration, other times in tension with each other.
"Perhaps the most undervalued and overlooked sector in this framework is that of civil society. Could a reawakening and new development of the roles of intermediary institutions, including voluntary associations and unions, be a force to call the market to a greater understanding of the centrality of the worker? Could they be a means to restrain, mediate, or hold accountable both the state and the marketplace? Could their voices help create greater economic and social justice, a more mutually respectful and collaborative stance by all the actors toward the economy, work, and wealth creation around the world? Pope Benedict believes this. He suggests that the various components of civil society can work, along with those in the market and the state, to introduce elements in favor of an economy of gift and gratuitousness. Without excluding the essential roles of market and state, 'civil society' may well be a different, but also essential voice to advance the good of all. Pope Benedict is convinced that 'economic life must be understood as a multi-layered phenomenon.' He believes that introducing a sense of fraternity and gift can become a humanizing and civilizing force for the common good and for greater justice and peace.
"In too many places across America, workers are not being fully paid for their labor. National reports tell of factory workers whose time begins with the start of the conveyor belt not their arrival; of retail workers who are 'clocked out' and then required to restock or take inventory; and wait staff
whose employers do not give them their tips. Some unscrupulous employers ignore weak and inadequate laws that forbid such unfair practices in order to increase the bottom line. Families struggling to make ends meet cannot have wage earners shortchanged on overtime or not get paid for all the hours they work. The dignity of the person is diminished when poor or middle-class people are denied their full wage or just compensation for their hard work. A good job at good wages for everyone who is willing and able to work should be our national goal and a moral priority.
"In light of this and similar issues, perhaps the call for a new 'social contract' should be cast in the context of a globalized economy and seek a renewed development of the relations among the three sectors of market, state, and civil society. This new social contract could emphasize the roles and responsibilities of civil society, which would include, among others, labor unions (which the Church has supported since Rerum Novarum), and also business associations, universities, think tanks, other social, economic, and cultural groups, and all those who seek to add vision and hope to a national and global economic dialogue.
"Moving from general principles of Catholic social teaching to application in everyday life is never easy. We need to assess not just individual actions but broader trends in social and economic structures. The Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops offers the following six criteria to evaluate policies and institutions. On this Labor Day, they also offer a path forward at a time of economic distress and uncertainty:
"We find ourselves at a crucial moment in economic life. Millions lack work and there is so much work to do. As Catholics we look to Jesus Christ, Who teaches us: 'Apart from Me you can do nothing,' (Jn 15:5) but then reassures us with: 'I am with you always' (Mt 28:20). Pope Benedict reminds us: 'As we contemplate the vast amount of work to be done, we are sustained by our faith that God is present alongside those who come together in His name to work for justice.' (#78)
"This Labor Day we must seek to protect the life and dignity of each worker in a renewed and robust economy. Workers need to have a real voice and effective protections in economic life. The market, the state, and civil society, unions and employers all have roles to play and they must be exercised in creative and fruitful interrelationships. Private action and public policies that strengthen families and reduce poverty are needed. New jobs with just wages and benefits must be created so that all workers can express their dignity through the dignity of work and are able to fulfill God's call to us all to be co-creators. A new social contract, which begins by honoring work and workers, must be forged that ultimately focuses on the common good of the entire human family."
Fred H. Summe is Vice President of Northern Kentucky Right to Life, P.O. Box 1202, Covington, Kentucky 41012
"I urge all of the Catholic faithful to treat homosexuals with love, understanding, and respect," states Fr. Michael Rodriguez. "At the same time, never forget that genuine love demands that we seek, above all, the salvation of souls. Homosexual acts lead to the damnation of souls."
As reported in The Wanderer, Fr. Rodriguez was rebuked by his bishop, who stated that Fr. Rodriguez does "not necessarily express the belief of the Catholic Church." Bishop Armando S. Ochoa of El Paso, Texas, continued: "Our Church does not want to simply judge and condemn, but first to offer Christ's love and compassion."
The Bishop needs to be reminded that bishops don't always necessarily express the beliefs of the Catholic Church. Plus, the way that Catholics express Christ's love and compassion is by bearing witness to the truth, by teaching clearly and accurately what the Catholic Church teaches.
The Catholic Catechism (Section 2357) explains Christ's moral teaching:
"Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that 'homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.' They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementary. Under no circumstances can they be approved."
Pope Benedict XVI, when he was Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, adds: "As in every moral disorder, homosexual activity prevents one's own fulfillment and happiness by acting contrary to the creative wisdom of God . . . What at all costs to be avoided is the unfounded and demeaning assumption that the sexual behavior of homosexual persons is always and totally compulsive and therefore inculpable… Christians who are homosexuals are called, as all of us are, to a chaste life."
Publicly teaching that those who engage in homosexual acts are not only jeopardizing their eternal life, but also destroying their human life and happiness, is a Christian duty.
A more compassionate and courageous bishop writes: "Both Church teaching and the study of reality, the natural law, show that homosexuality is an objective disorder – that is, it does not correspond to the God-given reality of the sexually differentiated human being. Therefore, to condone the homosexual lifestyle is never a move in favor of a person's true happiness." Bishop Thomas Olmsted, of Phoenix, Arizona, continues: "Moreover, to change the legal and societal definition of the fundamental institution of marriage in order to suit an adult's sexual preference is a selfish and irresponsible corruption of the truth."
That is what is taking place in our country. We are destroying the understanding of marriage and family by recognizing homosexual relations as "same-sex marriages," in order that those who engage in this deviant sexual activity can feel justified.
What are same-sex "marriages"? Same sex "marriages" deal with two men or two women having sex with each other—mutual masturbation. This euphemism simply hides the reality of the homosexual act.
What the homosexual community is trying to accomplish through civil law is to raise this sexual perversion to the status of a marriage, giving homosexuality the credibility and acceptability that marriage gives the conjugal act between a husband and wife.
Legal recognition of so-called same-sex "marriages" or unions have found strong opposition from the Catholic Church. The Church has long recognized that a marriage between a man and a woman is God's plan and is not subject to redefinition by civil law or by the culture. Marriage is not a right granted by the government, whether through its legislatures or courts, but is a human covenant instituted by God.
Thus, civil law cannot define or establish marriage to be anything other than what is intended by God. Those in authority need to acknowledge that marriage is between a man and a woman, and through the law, try to foster and support this relationship.
If the civil law can redefine the term "marriage" to include a union between two people of the same sex, why can't it define "marriage" to be the union of three people of the same sex or different sexes? Why not four, or five?
If "domestic partners" should be entitled to legal recognition, and the benefits and support normally granted to traditional marriages, why shouldn't the term "domestic partners" also include siblings, roommates, or parents and adult children?
As the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated in Considerations regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons:
"There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law. . . . The denial of the social and legal status of marriage to forms of cohabitation that are not and cannot be marital is not opposed to justice; on the contrary, justice requires it."
"Marriage is not a menu for sexual lifestyles, a vehicle for the delivery of government benefits, a way of gaining self-esteem, a political advantage for oppressed special interest groups, an artifact of law, a sociological experiment, or a mechanism for securing social respectability," explains Donald DeMarco, Ph.D., retired professor of philosophy at St. Jerome's College, writing in Social Justice Review.
He continues: "Real marriage is and always will be a two-in-one-flesh union between a man and a woman who are committed to each other in love and for life, and who are open to the blessing of children whom they are prepared to love and educate to the best of their abilities."
"Society has to understand that marriage and same-sex marriage cannot coexist," declares Bishop Salvatore Cordileone, Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego, California. "And it's not just a matter of letting people live their personal lives. Catholic schools and hospitals will be forced to hire people in same-sex marriages."
We, as Christians, are obligated to teach the truth in order that others are not misled nor encouraged into sinful acts, which destroy the sinner's soul and that person's happiness.
As Christians, we must remember we hate the sin and not the sinner. Homosexual orientation is not a sinful act of itself. Like all temptations, they are only sins when we give into the temptation and commit the act.
People who are tempted in this way need our love and respect and encouragement. They, like all of us who are called to live a chaste life, need the grace of God and the support and encouragement of their fellow Christians.
The greatest service Christians can render to others is to teach and give witness to the truth. To do anything less, is to fail in Christian duty.
(Editor's note: Mr. Casson writes from Missouri. We welcome contributions from prisoners. We would like to hear from a variety of prisoners.)
Lord Jesus, our only Savior, tis You Who
enkindles the flame.
That sets our hearts-a-fire.
It is Your teachings and precepts,
That allow us to continually rise above the sinful mire.
With our hearts-a-fire, we joyfully do Your work,
By following Your example, our Christian duties we do not shirk.
For Your saving light shines down so true.
Through adverse times, we do not rue.
Your merciful grace helps those to see,
What a wonderful life this could truly be.
So to You, Lord Jesus, with our hearts-a-fire,
In following You, we will never tire.
vatican city — Pope Benedict XVI sent the following letter to Sister Mary Prema, Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity:
"I send cordial greetings to you and to all the Missionaries of Charity as you begin the centenary celebrations of the birth of Blessed Mother Teresa, foundress of your Congregation and an exemplary model of Christian virtue. I am confident that this year will be for the Church and the world an occasion of joyful gratitude to God for the inestimable gift that Mother Teresa was in her lifetime, and continues to be through the affectionate and tireless work of you, her spiritual children.
"In your preparation for this year you strove to draw closer to the person of Jesus, Whose thirst for souls is sated by your ministry to Him in the poorest of the poor. Having responded with trust to the direct call of the Lord, Mother Teresa exemplified before the world the words of Saint John: 'Beloved, if God so loves us, we ought also to love one another. If we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us' (cf. Jn 4:11-12).
"May this love continue to inspire you as Missionaries of Charity, to give yourselves generously to Jesus, Whom you see and serve in the poor, the sick, the lonely, and the abandoned. I encourage you to draw constantly from the spirituality and example of Mother Teresa and, in her footsteps, to take up Christ's invitation: 'Come, be My light.' Joining myself spiritually to the centenary celebrations, and with great affection in the Lord, I cordially impart to the Missionaries of Charity, and to all those whom you serve, my paternal Apostolic Blessing."
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.
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