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My People

Vol. 23, Issue 2, February 2010

"If my people, who are called by My name, humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land." — 2 Chronicles 7:14


Pope Benedict XVI

Protection Of Creation Is Essential To Building Peace

The 43rd World Day of Peace celebrated on January 1 focused on the connection between building peace and protecting creation. Pope Benedict XVI's Message for the Day was dated December 8. My People is printing this message in full because of the critical nature of issues of peace, development, and the environmental issues. The Pope's message follows:

If You Want To Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation

"1. At the beginning of this New Year, I wish to offer heartfelt greetings of peace to all Christian communities, international leaders, and people of good will throughout the world. For this XLIII World Day of Peace I have chosen the theme: If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation. Respect for creation is of immense consequence, not least because 'creation is the beginning and the foundation of all God's works,' [1] and its preservation has now become essential for the pacific coexistence of mankind. Man's inhumanity to man has given rise to numerous threats to peace and to authentic and integral human development – wars, international and regional conflicts, acts of terrorism, and violations of human rights. Yet no less troubling are the threats arising from the neglect – if not downright misuse – of the earth and the natural goods that God has given us. For this reason, it is imperative that mankind renew and strengthen 'that covenant between human beings and the environment, which should mirror the creative love of God, from Whom we come and towards Whom we are journeying.' [2]

"2. In my Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, I noted that integral human development is closely linked to the obligations which flow from man's relationship with the natural environment. The environment must be seen as God's gift to all people, and the use we make of it entails a shared responsibility for all humanity, especially the poor and future generations. I also observed that whenever nature, and human beings in particular, are seen merely as products of chance or an evolutionary determinism, our overall sense of responsibility wanes. [3] On the other hand, seeing creation as God's gift to humanity helps us understand our vocation and worth as human beings. With the Psalmist, we can exclaim with wonder: 'When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your hands, the moon and the stars which You have established; what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him?' (Ps 8:4-5). Contemplating the beauty of creation inspires us to recognize the love of the Creator, that Love which 'moves the sun and the other stars.' [4]

"3. Twenty years ago, Pope John Paul II devoted his Message for the World Day of Peace to the theme: Peace with God the Creator, Peace with All of Creation. He emphasized our relationship, as God's creatures, with the universe all around us. 'In our day,' he wrote, 'there is a growing awareness that world peace is threatened … also by a lack of due respect for nature.' He added that 'ecological awareness, rather than being downplayed, needs to be helped to develop and mature, and find fitting expression in concrete programs and initiatives.' [5] Previous Popes had spoken of the relationship between human beings and the environment. In 1971, for example, on the eightieth anniversary of Leo XIII's Encyclical Rerum Novarum, Paul VI pointed out that 'by an ill-considered exploitation of nature (man) risks destroying it and becoming in his turn the victim of this degradation.' He added that 'not only is the material environment becoming a permanent menace – pollution and refuse, new illnesses and absolute destructive capacity – but the human framework is no longer under man's control, thus creating an environment for tomorrow which may well be intolerable. This is a wide-ranging social problem which concerns the entire human family.' [6]

"4. Without entering into the merit of specific technical solutions, the Church is nonetheless concerned, as an 'expert in humanity,' to call attention to the relationship between the Creator, human beings, and the created order. In 1990 John Paul II had spoken of an 'ecological crisis' and, in highlighting its primarily ethical character, pointed to the 'urgent moral need for a new solidarity.' [7] His appeal is all the more pressing today, in the face of signs of a growing crisis which it would be irresponsible not to take seriously. Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change, desertification, the deterioration and loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes, and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical regions? Can we disregard the growing phenomenon of 'environmental refugees,' people who are forced by the degradation of their natural habitat to forsake it – and often their possessions as well – in order to face the dangers and uncertainties of forced displacement? Can we remain impassive in the face of actual and potential conflicts involving access to natural resources? All these are issues with a profound impact on the exercise of human rights, such as the right to life, food, health, and development.

"5. It should be evident that the ecological crisis cannot be viewed in isolation from other related questions, since it is closely linked to the notion of development itself and our understanding of man in his relationship to others and to the rest of creation. Prudence would thus dictate a profound, long-term review of our model of development, one which would take into consideration the meaning of the economy and its goals with an eye to correcting its malfunctions and misapplications. The ecological health of the planet calls for this, but it is also demanded by the cultural and moral crisis of humanity whose symptoms have for some time been evident in every part of the world. [8] Humanity needs a profound cultural renewal; it needs to rediscover those values which can serve as the solid basis for building a brighter future for all. Our present crises – be they economic, food-related, environmental, or social – are ultimately also moral crises, and all of them are interrelated. They require us to rethink the path which we are travelling together. Specifically, they call for a lifestyle marked by sobriety and solidarity, with new rules and forms of engagement, one which focuses confidently and courageously on strategies that actually work, while decisively rejecting those that have failed. Only in this way can the current crisis become an opportunity for discernment and new strategic planning.

"6. Is it not true that what we call 'nature' in a cosmic sense has its origin in 'a plan of love and truth'? The world 'is not the product of any necessity whatsoever, nor of blind fate or chance . . . The world proceeds from the free will of God; He wanted to make His creatures share in His being, in His intelligence, and in His goodness." [9] The Book of Genesis, in its very first pages, points to the wise design of the cosmos: it comes forth from God's mind and finds its culmination in man and woman, made in the image and likeness of the Creator to 'fill the earth' and to 'have dominion over' it as 'stewards' of God Himself (cf. Gen 1:28). The harmony between the Creator, mankind, and the created world, as described by Sacred Scripture, was disrupted by the sin of Adam and Eve, by man and woman, who wanted to take the place of God and refused to acknowledge that they were His creatures. As a result, the work of 'exercising dominion' over the earth, 'tilling it and keeping it,' was also disrupted, and conflict arose within and between mankind and the rest of creation (cf. Gen 3:17-19). Human beings let themselves be mastered by selfishness; they misunderstood the meaning of God's command and exploited creation out of a desire to exercise absolute domination over it. But the true meaning of God's original command, as the Book of Genesis clearly shows, was not a simple conferral of authority, but rather a summons to responsibility. The wisdom of the ancients had recognized that nature is not at our disposal as 'a heap of scattered refuse.' [10] Biblical Revelation made us see that nature is a gift of the Creator, Who gave it an inbuilt order and enabled man to draw from it the principles needed to 'till it and keep it;' (cf. Gen 2:15). [11] Everything that exists belongs to God, Who has entrusted it to man, albeit not for his arbitrary use. Once man, instead of acting as God's co-worker, sets himself up in place of God, he ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature, 'which is more tyrannized than governed by him.' [12] Man thus has a duty to exercise responsible stewardship over creation, to care for it and to cultivate it. [13]

"7. Sad to say, it is all too evident that large numbers of people in different countries and areas of our planet are experiencing increased hardship because of the negligence or refusal of many others to exercise responsible stewardship over the environment. The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council reminded us that 'God has destined the earth and everything it contains for all peoples and nations.' [14] The goods of creation belong to humanity as a whole. Yet the current pace of environmental exploitation is seriously endangering the supply of certain natural resources not only for the present generation, but above all for generations yet to come. [15] It is not hard to see that environmental degradation is often due to the lack of far-sighted official policies or to the pursuit of myopic economic interests, which then, tragically, become a serious threat to creation. To combat this phenomenon, economic activity needs to consider the fact that 'every economic decision has a moral consequence' [16] and thus show increased respect for the environment. When making use of natural resources, we should be concerned for their protection and consider the cost entailed – environmentally and socially – as an essential part of the overall expenses incurred. The international community and national governments are responsible for sending the right signals in order to combat effectively the misuse of the environment. To protect the environment, and to safeguard natural resources and the climate, there is a need to act in accordance with clearly-defined rules, also from the juridical and economic standpoint, while at the same time taking into due account the solidarity we owe to those living in the poorer areas of our world and to future generations.

"8. A greater sense of intergenerational solidarity is urgently needed. Future generations cannot be saddled with the cost of our use of common environmental resources. 'We have inherited from past generations, and we have benefited from the work of our contemporaries; for this reason we have obligations towards all, and we cannot refuse to interest ourselves in those who will come after us, to enlarge the human family. Universal solidarity represents a benefit as well as a duty. This is a responsibility that present generations have towards those of the future, a responsibility that also concerns individual States and the international community.' [17] Natural resources should be used in such a way that immediate benefits do not have a negative impact on living creatures, human and not, present and future; that the protection of private property does not conflict with the universal destination of goods; [18] that human activity does not compromise the fruitfulness of the earth, for the benefit of people now and in the future. In addition to a fairer sense of intergenerational solidarity there is also an urgent moral need for a renewed sense of intragenerational solidarity, especially in relationships between developing countries and highly industrialized countries: 'the international community has an urgent duty to find institutional means of regulating the exploitation of non-renewable resources, involving poor countries in the process, in order to plan together for the future.' [19] The ecological crisis shows the urgency of a solidarity which embraces time and space. It is important to acknowledge that among the causes of the present ecological crisis is the historical responsibility of the industrialized countries. Yet the less developed countries, and emerging countries in particular, are not exempt from their own responsibilities with regard to creation, for the duty of gradually adopting effective environmental measures and policies is incumbent upon all. This would be accomplished more easily if self-interest played a lesser role in the granting of aid and the sharing of knowledge and cleaner technologies.

"9. To be sure, among the basic problems which the international community has to address is that of energy resources and the development of joint and sustainable strategies to satisfy the energy needs of the present and future generations. This means that technologically advanced societies must be prepared to encourage more sober lifestyles, while reducing their energy consumption and improving its efficiency. At the same time there is a need to encourage research into, and utilization of, forms of energy with lower impact on the environment and 'a world-wide redistribution of energy resources, so that countries lacking those resources can have access to them.' [20] The ecological crisis offers an historic opportunity to develop a common plan of action aimed at orienting the model of global development towards greater respect for creation and for an integral human development inspired by the values proper to charity in truth. I would advocate the adoption of a model of development based on the centrality of the human person, on the promotion and sharing of the common good, on responsibility, on a realization of our need for a changed lifestyle, and on prudence, the virtue which tells us what needs to be done today in view of what might happen tomorrow. [21]

"10. A sustainable comprehensive management of the environment and the resources of the planet demands that human intelligence be directed to technological and scientific research and its practical applications. The 'new solidarity' for which John Paul II called in his Message for the 1990 World Day of Peace [22] and the 'global solidarity' for which I myself appealed in my Message for the 2009 World Day of Peace [23] are essential attitudes in shaping our efforts to protect creation through a better internationally-coordinated management of the earth's resources, particularly today, when there is an increasingly clear link between combatting environmental degradation and promoting an integral human development. These two realities are inseparable, since 'the integral development of individuals necessarily entails a joint effort for the development of humanity as a whole.' [24] At present there are a number of scientific developments and innovative approaches which promise to provide satisfactory and balanced solutions to the problem of our relationship to the environment. Encouragement needs to be given, for example, to research into effective ways of exploiting the immense potential of solar energy. Similar attention also needs to be paid to the world-wide problem of water and to the global water cycle system, which is of prime importance for life on earth and whose stability could be seriously jeopardized by climate change. Suitable strategies for rural development centered on small farmers and their families should be explored, as well as the implementation of appropriate policies for the management of forests, for waste disposal and for strengthening the linkage between combatting climate change and overcoming poverty. Ambitious national policies are required, together with a necessary international commitment which will offer important benefits especially in the medium and long term. There is a need, in effect, to move beyond a purely consumerist mentality in order to promote forms of agricultural and industrial production capable of respecting creation and satisfying the primary needs of all. The ecological problem must be dealt with not only because of the chilling prospects of environmental degradation on the horizon; the real motivation must be the quest for authentic world-wide solidarity inspired by the values of charity, justice, and the common good. For that matter, as I have stated elsewhere, 'technology is never merely technology. It reveals man and his aspirations towards development; it expresses the inner tension that impels him gradually to overcome material limitations. Technology in this sense is a response to God's command to till and keep the land (cf. Gen 2:15) that He has entrusted to humanity, and it must serve to reinforce the covenant between human beings and the environment, a covenant that should mirror God's creative love.' [25]

"11. It is becoming more and more evident that the issue of environmental degradation challenges us to examine our lifestyle and the prevailing models of consumption and production, which are often unsustainable from a social, environmental, and even economic point of view. We can no longer do without a real change of outlook which will result in new lifestyles, 'in which the quest for truth, beauty, goodness, and communion with others for the sake of common growth are the factors which determine consumer choices, savings, and investments.' [26] Education for peace must increasingly begin with far-reaching decisions on the part of individuals, families, communities, and states. We are all responsible for the protection and care of the environment. This responsibility knows no boundaries. In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity it is important for everyone to be committed at his or her proper level, working to overcome the prevalence of particular interests. A special role in raising awareness and in formation belongs to the different groups present in civil society and to the non-governmental organizations which work with determination and generosity for the spread of ecological responsibility, responsibility which should be ever more deeply anchored in respect for 'human ecology.'

The media also have a responsibility in this regard to offer positive and inspiring models. In a word, concern for the environment calls for a broad global vision of the world; a responsible common effort to move beyond approaches based on selfish nationalistic interests towards a vision constantly open to the needs of all peoples. We cannot remain indifferent to what is happening around us, for the deterioration of any one part of the planet affects us all. Relationships between individuals, social groups, and states, like those between human beings and the environment, must be marked by respect and 'charity in truth.' In this broader context one can only encourage the efforts of the international community to ensure progressive disarmament and a world free of nuclear weapons, whose presence alone threatens the life of the planet and the ongoing integral development of the present generation and of generations yet to come.

"12. The Church has a responsibility towards creation, and she considers it her duty to exercise that responsibility in public life, in order to protect earth, water, and air as gifts of God the Creator meant for everyone, and above all to save mankind from the danger of self-destruction. The degradation of nature is closely linked to the cultural models shaping human coexistence: consequently, 'when "human ecology" is respected within society, environmental ecology also benefits.' [27] Young people cannot be asked to respect the environment if they are not helped, within families and society as a whole, to respect themselves. The book of nature is one and indivisible; it includes not only the environment but also individual, family, and social ethics. [28] Our duties towards the environment flow from our duties towards the person, considered both individually and in relation to others.

"Hence I readily encourage efforts to promote a greater sense of ecological responsibility which, as I indicated in my Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, would safeguard an authentic 'human ecology' and thus forcefully reaffirm the inviolability of human life at every stage and in every condition, the dignity of the person and the unique mission of the family, where one is trained in love of neighbor and respect for nature. [29] There is a need to safeguard the human patrimony of society. This patrimony of values originates in and is part of the natural moral law, which is the foundation of respect for the human person and creation.

"13. Nor must we forget the very significant fact that many people experience peace and tranquillity, renewal and reinvigoration, when they come into close contact with the beauty and harmony of nature. There exists a certain reciprocity: as we care for creation, we realize that God, through creation, cares for us. On the other hand, a correct understanding of the relationship between man and the environment will not end by absolutizing nature or by considering it more important than the human person. If the Church's magisterium expresses grave misgivings about notions of the environment inspired by egocentrism and biocentrism, it is because such notions eliminate the difference of identity and worth between the human person and other living things. In the name of a supposedly egalitarian vision of the 'dignity' of all living creatures, such notions end up abolishing the distinctiveness and superior role of human beings. They also open the way to a new pantheism tinged with neo-paganism, which would see the source of man's salvation in nature alone, understood in purely naturalistic terms. The Church, for her part, is concerned that the question be approached in a balanced way, with respect for the 'grammar'which the Creator has inscribed in His handiwork by giving man the role of a steward and administrator with responsibility over creation, a role which man must certainly not abuse, but also one which he may not abdicate. In the same way, the opposite position, which would absolutize technology and human power, results in a grave assault not only on nature, but also on human dignity itself. [30]

"14. If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation. The quest for peace by people of good will surely would become easier if all acknowledge the indivisible relationship between God, human beings, and the whole of creation. In the light of divine Revelation and in fidelity to the Church's Tradition, Christians have their own contribution to make. They contemplate the cosmos and its marvels in light of the creative work of the Father and the redemptive work of Christ, Who by His death and resurrection has reconciled with God 'all things, whether on earth or in heaven' (Col 1:20). Christ, crucified and risen, has bestowed His Spirit of holiness upon mankind, to guide the course of history in anticipation of that day when, with the glorious return of the Savior, there will be 'new heavens and a new earth' (2 Pt 3:13), in which justice and peace will dwell for ever. Protecting the natural environment in order to build a world of peace is thus a duty incumbent upon each and all. It is an urgent challenge, one to be faced with renewed and concerted commitment; it is also a providential opportunity to hand down to coming generations the prospect of a better future for all. May this be clear to world leaders and to those at every level who are concerned for the future of humanity: the protection of creation and peacemaking are profoundly linked! For this reason, I invite all believers to raise a fervent prayer to God, the all-powerful Creator, and the Father of mercies, so that all men and women may take to heart the urgent appeal: If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation.

[1] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 198.
[2] Benedict XVI, Message for the 2008 World Day of Peace, 7.
[3] Cf. No.48.
[4] Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, Paradiso, XXXIII, 145.
[5] Message for the 1990 World Day of Peace, 1.
[6] Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens, 21.
[7] Message for the 1990 World Day of Peace, 10.
[8] Cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 32.
[9] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 295.
[10] Heraclitus of Ephesus (c. 535 – c. 475 B.C.), Fragment 22B124, in H. Diels-W. Kranz, Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, Weidmann, Berlin,1952, 6th ed.
[11] Cf. Benedict XVI,Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 48.
[12] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 37.
[13] Cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 50.
[14] Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 69.
[15] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 34.
[16] Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 37.
[17] Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 467; cf. Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, 17.
[18] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 30-31, 43
[19] Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 49.
[20] Ibid.
[21] Cf. Saint Thomas Aquinas, S. Th., II-II, q. 49, 5.
[22] Cf. No. 9.
[23] Cf. No. 8.
[24] Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Populorum Progressio, 43.
[25] Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 69.
[26] John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 36.
[27] Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 51.
[28] Cf. ibid., 15, 51.
[29] Cf. ibid., 28, 51, 61; John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 38, 39.
[30] Cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 70.

Sickness And Suffering Can Be A School Of Hope

In following Jesus, the Church provides service and care to the sick and suffering. The Church observes the World Day of the Sick on February 11, the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes. In his Message for the 18th World Day of the Sick, dated November 22, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his sincere hope "that this event will be an opportunity to give a more generous apostolic impetus to the service of the sick and of those who look after them.

The Holy Father continued:

"With the annual World Day of the Sick, the Church intends to carry out a far-reaching operation, raising the ecclesial community's awareness to the importance of pastoral service in the vast world of health care. This service is an integral part of the Church's role since it is engraved in Christ's saving mission itself. He, the divine Doctor, 'went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil' (Acts 10:38). In the mystery of His Passion, death, and Resurrection, human suffering takes on meaning and the fullness of light. In his Apostolic Letter Salvifici doloris, the Servant of God John Paul II offers enlightening words in this regard. 'Human suffering has reached its culmination in the Passion of Christ,' he wrote. 'And at the same time it has entered into a completely new dimension and a new order: it has been linked to love . . . to that love which creates good, also drawing it out from evil by means of suffering, just as the supreme good of the Redemption of the world was drawn from the Cross of Christ, and from that Cross constantly takes its beginning. The Cross of Christ has become a source from which flow rivers of living water' (n. 18).

"Let us search and examine our ways that we may return to the Lord! Let us reach out our hearts toward God in heaven!"

(Lam 3:40-41)

"At the Last Supper, before returning to the Father, the Lord Jesus knelt to wash the Apostles' feet, anticipating the supreme act of love on the Cross. With this act He invited His disciples to enter into the same logic of love that is given especially to the lowliest and to the needy (cf. Jn 13:12-17). Following His example, every Christian is called to relive, in different and ever new contexts, the Parable of the Good Samaritan who, passing by a man whom robbers had left half-dead by the roadside, 'saw him and had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back' (cf. Lk 10:33-35).

"At the end of the parable, Jesus said: 'Go and do likewise' (Lk 10:37). With these words He is also addressing us. Jesus exhorts us to bend over the physical and mental wounds of so many of our brothers and sisters whom we meet on the highways of the world. He helps us to understand that with God's grace, accepted and lived out in our daily life, the experience of sickness and suffering can become a school of hope. In truth, as I said in the Encyclical Spe salvi, 'It is not by sidestepping or fleeing from suffering that we are healed, but rather by our capacity for accepting it, maturing through it, and finding meaning through union with Christ, Who suffered with infinite love' (n. 37).

"The Second Ecumenical Vatican Council had already recalled the Church's important task of caring for human suffering. In the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium we read that 'Christ was sent by the Father "to bring good news to the poor . . . to heal the contrite of heart" (Lk 4:18), 'to seek and to save what was lost' (Lk 19:10) . . . Similarly, the Church encompasses with her love all those who are afflicted by human misery and she recognizes in those who are poor and who suffer, the image of her poor and suffering Founder. She does all in her power to relieve their need and in them she strives to serve Christ' (n. 8). The ecclesial community's humanitarian and spiritual action for the sick and the suffering has been expressed down the centuries in many forms and health-care structures, also of an institutional character. I would like here to recall those directly managed by the dioceses and those born from the generosity of various religious Institutes. It is a precious 'patrimony' that corresponds with the fact that 'love . . . needs to be organized if it is to be an ordered service to the community' (Encyclical Deus caritas est, n. 20). The creation of the Pontifical Council for Health-Care Workers 25 years ago complies with the Church's solicitude for the world of health care. And I am anxious to add that at this moment in history and culture we are feeling even more acutely the need for an attentive and far-reaching ecclesial presence beside the sick, as well as a presence in society that can effectively pass on the Gospel values that safeguard human life in all its phases, from its conception to its natural end.

"I would like here to take up the Message to the Poor, the Sick, and the Suffering which the Council Fathers addressed to the world at the end of the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council: 'All of you who feel heavily the weight of the Cross' they said, 'you who weep . . . you the unknown victims of suffering, take courage. You are the preferred children of the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of hope, happiness, and life. You are the brothers of the suffering Christ, and with Him, if you wish, you are saving the world' (The Documents of Vatican II, Walter M. Abbott, sj). I warmly thank those who, every day, 'serve the sick and the suffering,' so that 'the apostolate of God's mercy may ever more effectively respond to people's expectations and needs' (cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, Art. 152).

"In this Year for Priests, my thoughts turn in particular to you, dear priests, 'ministers of the sick,' signs and instruments of Christ's compassion who must reach out to every person marked by suffering. I ask you, dear presbyters, to spare no effort in giving them care and comfort. Time spent beside those who are put to the test may bear fruits of grace for all the other dimensions of pastoral care. Lastly I address you, dear sick people, and I ask you to pray and to offer your suffering up for priests, so that they may continue to be faithful to their vocation and that their ministry may be rich in spiritual fruits for the benefit of the whole Church . . ."

In Defense of Life: Obamacare Will Fund Abortion

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

by Fred H. Summe

For the first time in 46 years, the U.S. Senate met on Christmas Eve and at 7 a.m. in the morning voted to pass the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009, with all 60 Democrat senators voting in favor of it, and 39 Republican senators voting against it, with one Republican not present.

The pro-abortion Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate was clever in submitting the bill for only three weeks. Since it contained over 2,000 pages and more than 500 cross references, including to other statutes, few would have the opportunity to read, study, and analyze the complexity of the bill in order to understand what they were voting on. As many political analysts have concluded, senators voted on a bill few could have read and understood.

Buying Politicians

In order to get all Democrat U.S. senators to vote yes, it was necessary to "bribe" a number of senators. Besides the "Louisiana Purchase" ($100 million was awarded to the State of Louisiana for its senator's support of the bill), one of the saddest betrayals was that of Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Sen. Nelson had been clear and strong in his statements that he would not support the so-called health care bill because it would fund abortions. However, three days prior to the vote, he, emphasizing the need for a "compromise," abandoned millions of unborn children whose lives depended on his vote. For what did this senator abandon his principle? A pot of porridge.

It became clear that Sen. Nelson was not the lone holdout based on principle, but simply a seeker of a "bag of goodies" to return to his home state of Nebraska, in hopes that it would help him win reelection. Only after securing special federal funding solely for Nebraska to expand its Medicare coverage did the so-called pro-life senator from Nebraska sell his soul.

The Christian Defense Coalition criticized Nelson for having "sold America's children for a promised pot of gold." Even the governor of Nebraska could not accept Nelson's deal, which resulted in federal Medicare funding exclusively for his state, stating, "Nebraskans did not ask for a special deal, only a fair deal."

The Executive Director of Nebraska Right to Life, Julie Schmit-Albin, exposed the betrayal for what it is: "…this is out-in-the-open bribery."

Funding Abortions

Now that the Senate has passed its version of the so-called health care reform, the bills from the House and the Senate need to be reconciled into a single bill, acceptable to both houses of Congress. Although the House version clashes with the Senate version on a variety of issues, especially the public option and a surtax on the wealthy, the funding of abortion will be the central battleground in any reconciliation conference.

In the House version, the Stupak Amendment (which some church leaders and pro-life leaders have falsely identified as a prohibition against abortion funding) limits only some funding of abortions. However, even Rep. Stupak (D-MI) stated that "the Senate abortion language is not acceptable." He further noted: "A review of the Senate language indicates a dramatic shift in federal policy that would allow the federal government to subsidize insurance policies with abortion coverage."

Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the former pro-abortion governor of Kansas, admitted that all members of the new health insurance exchange will still be required to pay for abortion under the Senate bill (

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised to strip from the House version the Stupak Amendment, making the House version more in line with the U.S. Senate, which has already approved abortion funding. The question arises: will the House approve so-called health care legislation, without the Stupak Amendment?

The Wall Street Journal warns that abortion funding in the health care reform legislation may become law without again being voted on in the House. The Democrats could skip the give-and-take conference committee, and submit one version of the bill for a vote. Since the Senate only passed its version with no votes to spare, the House version could easily be discarded, including the Stupak Amendment. "Serious dialogue isn't what Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid are interested in right now," wrote the Wall Street Journal. If leaders decide to skip the conference, "it will be the latest example of violating principles of transparency and accountability in the single-minded pursuit of legislative victory."

Will the few Democratic members of the House, who claim that they are pro-life, hold to their stated principles, or will their vote be purchased by the Obama administration for some "bag of goodies" to take home with them?

Death Panels

Section 3403 of the Senate bill governs the highly controversial independent Medicare Advisory Board, frequently referred to as "death panels."

Subsection C of Section 3409 prohibits, as unbelievable as it may sound, any future change of this section by future Congresses. Subsection C states: "It shall not be in order in the Senate, or in the House of Representatives, to consider any bill resolution, amendment, or conference report that would repeal or otherwise change this subsection." Is it constitutional for one Congress to prohibit a future Congress from changing the law? Clearly not, but our elected officials in charge of the federal government have long ignored the Constitution.

"Why in God's name would the Senate Majority Leader want to make the Death Panel regulations the only thing in the Obamacare legislation that is not subject to amendment, repeal, or change by the United States Senate?!" exclaimed Eric Ericson on RedState blog. He continues: "…to my knowledge and the knowledge of those whom I have consulted on this issue, there has never been any legislation passed by the Congress with a prohibition on future Senates considering changes to previously enacted laws or regulations. …The Senate Democrats are ignoring the Constitution, the law, and their own rules to pass Obamacare."

Violating the Basic Principle of Subsidiarity

"Seriously flawed" is how the Family Research Council described both the Senate and House bills, since both, besides funding abortion, "still allow rationing of health care for seniors, raise health costs for families, mandate that families purchase under threat of fines and penalties, offer counsel about assisted suicide in some states, do not offer broad conscience protections for health care workers, and seek to insert the federal government into all aspects of citizens' lives."

Even assuming that the moral deficits in both the House and Senate bills could be remedied, which is impossible, there remains yet another very serious problem with the legislation. The introduction of the wholesale takeover of the health care system by the federal government is in violation of the basic principle of the doctrine of subsidiarity, supported in Christian ethics as well as in sound political philosophy. This longstanding doctrine of subsidiarity teaches quite clearly of the dangers of excessive governmental intervention.

Subsidiarity is a basic principle of Catholic social teaching, and was again explained by Pope John Paul II in 1991 in his encyclical Centesimus Annus: "A community of higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the [lower] of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society."

Pope Benedict XVI writes in Caritas in Veritate that "subsidiarity is the most effective antidote against any form of all-encompassing welfare state."

In a document issued jointly by Most Rev. John F. Naumann, Archbishop of Kansas City, KS, and Most Rev. Robert W. Finn, Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph, MO, this danger was pointed out clearly:

"The writings of recent Popes have warned that the neglect of subsidiarity can lead to an excessive centralization of human services, which in turn leads to excessive costs, and loss of personal responsibility and quality of care. …diminishing personal responsibility or creating an inordinately bureaucratic structure which will be vulnerable to financial abuse, be crippling to our national economy, and remove the sense of humanity from the work of healing and helping the sick."

Condemnation by Serious, Diverse, and Respected Pro-Life Groups

All of the pending bills have been uniformly condemned by all serious pro-lifers, including the Catholic Medical Association, Focus on the Family, the Christian Medical and Dental Association, the Southern Baptist Convention, Family Research Council, and numerous individual bishops throughout the United States. A fuller exposition of the reasons for objection by serious pro-lifers can be found at

Even assuming that we were able to secure clear language protecting against abortion funding, euthanasia counseling, health care rationing, denial of conscience rights, etc., those in charge of implementing this legislation have made their pro-death commitment abundantly clear, and would have great authority to corrupt what otherwise might be thought to be clear and incorruptible language of the legislation.

This administration, or future ones, having put the feet of this nation on this disastrous path of government-operated health care, would certainly find this power and control intoxicating and would be unable to resist further advances in these dangerous policies.

Christians Unite To Affirm Principles

by Michael Halm

Last November a "call of Christian Conscience" was written called the Manhattan Declaration. So far it has a third of a million signers, according to its website,

Cardinal Justin Rigali explained its points "are not the unique preserve of any particular Christian community or of the Christian tradition as a whole . . . They are principles that can be known and honored by men and women of goodwill even apart from Divine Revelation. They are principles of right reason and Natural Law."

Although the declaration itself is nearly 5,000 words long, it can be easily summarized. In the preamble our debt to past Christians is acknowledged. The main body of the document deals with attacks by the culture of death against life, marriage, and religious freedom. Reminding readers of the forgotten reasons why these need to be defended are what takes so many more words.

"We claim the heritage of those Christians who defended innocent life by rescuing discarded babies from trash heaps in Roman cities and publicly denouncing the empire's sanctioning of infanticide." The authors declare, "We remember with reverence those believers who sacrificed their lives by remaining in Roman cities to tend the sick and dying during the plagues, and who died bravely in the coliseums rather than deny their Lord."

"The great civil rights crusades of the 1950s and 60s were led by Christians claiming the Scriptures and asserting the glory of the image of God in every human being regardless of race, religion, age, or class."

"I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered for all men, especially for kings and those in authority, that we may be able to lead undisturbed and tranquil lives." (1 Tm 2:1-2)

"This same devotion to human dignity has led Christians in the last decade to work to end the dehumanizing scourge of human trafficking and sexual slavery, bring compassionate care to AIDS sufferers in Africa, and assist in a myriad of other human rights causes."

Robert George, one of the declaration's authors, is a Princeton University professor of jurisprudence. He explains: "For too long, the historic traditions of Catholicism, Evangelical Protestantism, and Eastern Orthodoxy have failed to speak formally with a united voice, despite their deep agreement on fundamental questions of morality, justice, and the common good. The Manhattan Declaration provided leaders of these traditions with an opportunity to rectify that. It is gratifying that they were willing — indeed eager — to seize the opportunity."

The other authors are Timothy George, professor of Samford University, and Chuck Colson, founder, Center for Christian Worldview.

On their FAQ (frequently asked questions) page is the further explanation, "We are seeking to build a movement — hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of Catholic, Evangelical, and Eastern Orthodox Christians who will stand together alongside other men and women of goodwill in defense of foundational principles of justice and the common good.

"We believe God is looking for good men and women who will pledge (as those who have done in signing the Manhattan Declaration), never to compromise the Gospel, and to become well-informed, effective advocates of true and godly principles."

In explaining the passage on ". . . the failure to take steps necessary to halt the spread of preventable diseases like AIDS, it defends the pope. "When Pope Benedict XVI was attacked for saying that the condom distribution in Africa is not the solution, he was supported not only by conservative Christians, but by Edward C. Green, Director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at Harvard University's Center for Population and Development Studies."

The declaration is not just the facts, but a pledge for the future. By signing you would be agreeing with "We will be united and untiring in our efforts to roll back the license to kill that began with the abandonment of the unborn to abortion," and "We pledge to labor ceaselessly to preserve the legal definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman and to rebuild the marriage culture."

It ends with the even stronger pledge of civil disobedience, "We will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality, and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar's. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God's."

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 people of Haiti as they rebuild after the devastating earthquake.
  • We pray that we will have the Heart of Jesus for those in Haiti and others in need of our help.
  • We pray for the Church in Haiti.
  • We pray that we will grow in holiness this Lent.
  • We pray that we will love Jesus more and more.
  • We pray for an end to abortion and to all attacks on life.
  • We pray that government leaders will do the will of God.
  • We pray that we will cultivate peace by protecting creation.
  • We pray for the upcoming Synod of Bishops in the Middle East.
  • We pray for all priests to grow in holiness during this Year for Priests.
  • We pray for God's wisdom in the health care debate and for His will to be done.

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



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