"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 John Paul II|
Mass was celebrated on March 29 in Vatican City for the fifth anniversary of the death of Venerable John Paul II. In his homily, Pope Benedict XVI noted:
". . . We are doing so a few days early, because this year April 2 falls on Good Friday. All the same we are in Holy Week, a particularly favorable time for recollection and prayer, in which the Liturgy makes us relive the last days of Jesus' earthly life more intensely . . ."
The Pope continued: "In the first Reading from the Bible that has been proclaimed, the Prophet Isaiah presents the figure of a 'Servant of God' who at the same time is His chosen one, in Whom He is well pleased. The Servant was to act with steadfast firmness, with an energy that was never lacking until He had completed the task assigned to Him. Yet He appeared not to have at His disposal those human means that seemed indispensable for the implementation of so grandiose a plan. He was to present Himself with the power of conviction, and the Spirit Whom God had placed within Him was to give Him the ability to act with gentleness and force, assuring Him of ultimate success. What the inspired prophet says of the Servant we may apply to beloved John Paul II: the Lord called him to his service and, in entrusting to him tasks of ever greater responsibility, also accompanied him with his grace and ceaseless assistance. During his long Pontificate John Paul II did his utmost to proclaim the law with firmness, without weaknesses or indecision, especially when he had to contend with resistance, hostility, or rejection. He knew that the Lord had taken him by the hand and this enabled him to exercise a very fruitful ministry, for which, once again, we give fervent thanks to God.
"The Gospel just proclaimed takes us to Bethany, where, as the Evangelist notes, Lazarus, Martha, and Mary were giving a supper for the Teacher (Jn 12:1). This banquet in the house of Jesus' three friends was marked by presentiments of His imminent death: the six days before Easter, the suggestion of Judas, the traitor, Jesus' answer that calls to mind one of the devout burial rites, anticipated by Mary, the hint that they would not always have Him with them, and the attempt to put Lazarus to death that mirrors the desire to kill Jesus. In this Gospel account there is one gesture to which I would like to draw attention. Mary of Bethany 'took 300 grams [a pound] of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair' (cf. 12:3). Mary's gesture is the expression of great faith and love for the Lord; it is not enough for her to wash the Teacher's feet with water; she sprinkles on them a great quantity of the precious perfume which as Judas protested it would have been possible to sell for 300 denarii. She did not anoint His head, as was the custom, but His feet: Mary offers Jesus the most precious thing she has and with a gesture of deep devotion. Love does not calculate, does not measure, does not worry about expense, does not set up barriers but can give joyfully; it seeks only the good of the other, surmounts meanness, pettiness, resentment, and the narrow-mindedness that human beings sometimes harbor in their hearts.
"Mary stood at the feet of Jesus in a humble attitude of service, the same attitude that the Teacher Himself was to assume at the Last Supper, when, the fourth Gospel tells us, He 'rose from supper, laid aside His garments, and girded Himself with a towel. Then He poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet' (Jn 13:4-5), so that, He said, 'you also should do as I have done to you' (v. 15): the rule of the community of Jesus is that of love which knows how to serve to the point of offering one's life. And the scent spread: 'the house' the Evangelist remarks, 'was filled with the fragrance of the ointment' (Jn 12:3). The meaning of Mary's action, which is a response to God's infinite Love, spreads among all the guests; no gesture of charity and authentic devotion to Christ remains a personal event or concerns solely the relationship between the individual and the Lord. Rather, it concerns the whole Body of the Church, it is contagious: it instills love, joy, and light.
" 'He came to His own home, and His own people received Him not' (Jn 1:11). Mary's action is in contrast to the attitude and words of Judas who, under the pretext of the aid to be given to the poor, conceals the selfishness and falsehood of a person closed into himself, shackled by the greed for possession and who does not let the good fragrance of divine love envelop him. Judas calculates what one cannot calculate, he enters with a mean mindset the space which is one of love, of giving, of total dedication. And Jesus, Who had remained silent until that moment, intervenes defending Mary's gesture: 'Let her alone, let her keep it for the day of my burial' (Jn 12:7). Jesus understands that Mary has intuited God's love and points out that His 'hour' is now approaching, the 'hour' in which Love will find its supreme expression on the wood of the Cross: the Son of God gives Himself so that many may have life, He descends to the abysses of death to bring man to the heights of God, Who is not afraid to humble Himself, to make Himself 'obedient, unto death, even death on a cross' (Phil 2:8). In the Sermon in which he comments on this Gospel passage, St. Augustine addresses each one of us, with insistent words, the invitation to enter this circuit of love by imitating Mary's gesture and really placing ourselves in the sequela of Christ. Augustine writes: 'Whatever soul of you wishes to be truly faithful, anoint like Mary the feet of the Lord with precious ointment . . . Anoint the feet of Jesus: follow by a good life the Lord's footsteps. Wipe them with your hair: what you have of superfluity, give to the poor, and you have wiped the feet of the Lord' (In Ioh. evang., 50,6).
"Dear brothers and sisters, the entire life of Venerable John Paul II was lived under the sign of this love, this capacity to give himself generously, without reserve, without measure, without counting the cost. What motivated him was love for Christ to Whom he consecrated his life, a superabundant and unconditional love. And precisely because he drew ever closer to God in love, he could become a travelling companion for people today, sprinkling in the world the scent of God's Love. Those who had the joy of knowing him and seeing him regularly could appreciate how alive was his certainty that he would 'see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living,' as we heard in the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 27:13); a certainty that accompanied him throughout his life and that was manifest in a special way during the last period of his pilgrimage on this earth: his increasing physical weakness did not corrode his unshakable faith, his luminous hope, his fervent charity. He let himself be consumed for Christ, for the Church, for the whole world: his was a state of suffering lived to the end for love and with love.
"In his Homily for the 25th Anniversary of his Pontificate he confided that he had felt echoing in his soul, at the moment of his election, Jesus' question to Peter: 'Do you love Me? Do you love Me more than these? (Jn 21:15-16); and he added: 'Every day that same dialogue between Jesus and Peter takes place in my heart. In spirit, I focus on the benevolent gaze of the Risen Christ. Although He knows of my human frailty, He encourages me to answer confidently, like Peter: 'Lord, you know everything; You know that I love You' (Jn 21:17). And then He invites me to take on the responsibilities that He Himself has entrusted to me' (Homily, October 16, 2003; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, October 22, p. 3). These words are laden with faith and love, the love of God, that conquers everything! . . ."
On March 18, the eve of the feast of St. Joseph, a model for workers, Pope Benedict XVI met with members of the Italian Union of Industrialists, and Businesses of Rome in Vatican City.
In his remarks, the Pontiff said: ". . . The Roman business group, consisting mainly of small and medium-sized enterprises, is one of the most important associations in the area; it belongs to Confindustria which today also works in a context marked by globalization, by the negative effects of the recent financial crisis, by the so-called 'financialization' of the economy, and of businesses themselves. It is a complex situation because the current crisis has severely tried the economic and productive systems of various countries. Yet, it should be lived with trust because it may be considered an opportunity from the perspective of reviewing development models and a new organization of world finance, a 'new season' as has been said, for a profound rethinking.
"In my social Encyclical Caritas in veritate, I noted that we are emerging from a phase of development in which priority was given to what is material and technical rather than what is ethical and spiritual, and I encouraged people to make the person, in whom Christ reveals His deepest dignity, the focus of the economy and finance (cf. n. 25). Suggesting, further, that politics should not be subordinated to financial mechanisms, I called for reform and the creation of international juridical and political regulations (cf. n. 67), proportionate to the global structures of the economy and finance in order to achieve the common good of the human family more efficiently. Following in my Predecessors' footsteps, I reaffirmed that the increase in unemployment, especially among young people, the financial impoverishment of many workers, and the emergence of new forms of slavery chiefly demand access to steady employment for everyone (cf. nn. 32, 63). What guides the Church in making herself the champion of this goal is the conviction that work is a good for the human being, for the family, and for society, as well as a source of freedom and responsibility. In achieving these objectives, together with other members of society, business people are obviously involved and should be given special encouragement in their work at the service of society and of the common good.
"Everyone knows sacrifices are necessary in order to open one's own business or keep it viable in the market as a 'community of people' which produces goods and services and, therefore, does not make profit, necessary as it is, its only goal. Small and medium-sized businesses are always in greater need of financial backing, whereas credit appears harder to obtain and competition on the globalized markets is very strong, especially on the part of those countries in which systems of social protection for workers do not exist or are minimal. It follows that the high cost of labor makes one's own products and services less competitive and considerable sacrifices are required to avoid the dismissal of one's employees and to permit them professional updating.
"In this context, it is important to be able to set aside that individualistic and materialistic mindset that suggests taking investments out of the real economy to give priority to the use of one's own capital in financial markets, with a view to easier and more rapid returns. Allow me to remind you that the safest ways to counter the decline of the business system in one's own area consist instead in keeping in contact with other social realities, investing in research and innovation, steering clear of unfair competition between business companies, remembering one's own social duties, and encouraging high-quality production as a response to people's real needs. Various proofs exist that a firm's life depends on the attention it pays to all those with whom it builds relations, on its activity and its business ethics. The financial crisis itself has shown that in a market upset by successive bankruptcies, the people financially able to abide by moral behavior and attentive to the needs of their own area have survived. The success of the Italian business world, especially in some regions, has always been marked by the importance given to the network of relations it has been possible to create with employees and with other businesses, through relations of cooperation and reciprocal trust. Business can be vital and produce 'social riches' when entrepreneurs and managers are guided by farsightedness that prefers long-term investment to speculative profit and promotes innovation rather than seeking to accumulate wealth only for themselves.
"The businessman attentive to the common good is always called to view his own activity in the context of a plural 'all.' Such an approach, through personal dedication and a practical experience of brotherhood in economic and financial decisions, gives rise to a more competitive yet at the same time more civil market, motivated by the spirit of service. It is clear that such a business logic presupposes a certain motivation, a certain vision of man and of life, namely a humanism that is born from the awareness of being called, as individuals and as communities, to be part of the one family of God Who has created us in His image and likeness and has redeemed us in Christ. This humanism revives charity and lets itself be guided by truth; a humanism open to God and for this very reason open to man and to life, seen as a joyful task in a spirit of solidarity (cf. n. 78). Development in any sector of human life also implies openness to the transcendent, to the spiritual dimension of life, to trust in God, to love, to brotherhood, to acceptance, to justice, and to peace (cf. n. 79) . . ."
Pope Benedict XVI addressed the 16th Plenary Session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences meeting in Vatican City. The Pope pointed out that the meeting was "devoted to an analysis of the global economic crisis in the light of the ethical principles enshrined in the Church's social doctrine."
He continued: "The worldwide financial breakdown has, as we know, demonstrated the fragility of the present economic system and the institutions linked to it. It has also shown the error of the assumption that the market is capable of regulating itself, apart from public intervention and the support of internalized moral standards. This assumption is based on an impoverished notion of economic life as a sort of self-calibrating mechanism driven by self-interest and profit-seeking. As such, it overlooks the essentially ethical nature of economics as an activity of and for human beings. Rather than a spiral of production and consumption in view of narrowly-defined human needs, economic life should properly be seen as an exercise of human responsibility, intrinsically oriented towards the promotion of the dignity of the person, the pursuit of the common good and the integral development – political, cultural, and spiritual – of individuals, families, and societies. An appreciation of this fuller human dimension calls, in turn, for precisely the kind of cross-disciplinary research and reflection which the present session of the Academy has now undertaken.
"In my Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, I observed that 'the current crisis obliges us to re-plan our journey, to set ourselves new rules, and to discover new forms of commitment' (No. 21). Re-planning the journey, of course, also means looking to comprehensive and objective standards against which to judge the structures, institutions, and concrete decisions which guide and direct economic life. The Church, based on her faith in God the Creator, affirms the existence of a universal natural law which is the ultimate source of these criteria (cf. ibid., 59). Yet she is likewise convinced that the principles of this ethical order, inscribed in creation itself, are accessible to human reason and, as such, must be adopted as the basis for practical choices. As part of the great heritage of human wisdom, the natural moral law, which the Church has appropriated, purified and developed in the light of Christian revelation, serves as a beacon guiding the efforts of individuals and communities to pursue good and to avoid evil, while directing their commitment to building an authentically just and humane society.
"Among the indispensable principles shaping such an integral ethical approach to economic life must be the promotion of the common good, grounded in respect for the dignity of the human person and acknowledged as the primary goal of production and trade systems, political institutions, and social welfare. In our day, concern for the common good has taken on a more markedly global dimension. It has also become increasingly evident that the common good embraces responsibility towards future generations; intergenerational solidarity must henceforth be recognized as a basic ethical criterion for judging any social system. These realities point to the urgency of strengthening the governance procedures of the global economy, albeit with due respect for the principle of subsidiarity. In the end, however, all economic decisions and policies must be directed towards 'charity in truth,' inasmuch as truth preserves and channels the liberating power of charity amid ever-contingent human events and structures. For 'without truth, without trust and love for what is true, there is no social conscience and responsibility, and social action ends up serving private interests and the logic of power, resulting in social fragmentation' (Caritas in Veritate, 5).
"With these considerations . . . I once more express my confidence that this Plenary Session will contribute to a more profound discernment of the serious social and economic challenges facing our world, and help point the way forward to meet those challenges in a spirit of wisdom, justice, and authentic humanity. I assure you once more of my prayers for your important work, and upon you and your loved ones I cordially invoke God's blessings of joy and peace."
Fred H. Summe is Vice President of Northern Kentucky Right to Life, P.O. Box 1202, Covington, Kentucky 41012
"Socialism is not in conformity with biblical teaching. Socialism doesn't profit the poor, but only brings poverty and misery. Socialism is about the seizure of power. It only brings everyone down to the lowest common denominator," states Father John Corapi, who regularly appears on EWTN. "There's a lot of anxiety, a lack of trust in government, elected and appointed officials. There's a crisis of trust."
"The unraveling of Christianity has led to the unraveling of the world, " he explained. "We are at war [for souls], so we don't have the luxury to sit on our complacent rear ends" (Legatus Magazine).
The secretary general of the Spanish bishops' conference, Auxiliary Bishop Juan Antonio Martinez Camino of Madrid, warned that Spanish Catholic legislators who vote in favor of a bill to liberalize abortion which is currently before parliament would publicly place themselves in an "objective state of sin" and therefore may not receive Communion.
"Excommunication is provided in the Code of Canon Law for those who cooperate actively in the practice of abortion," Bishop Martinez Camino stated.
He said Catholics cannot support the legalization of abortion, and if they do, "they will objectively find themselves in a public state of sin and may not be admitted to Holy Communion."
While "the Church cannot judge their subjectivity," he added, those who "directly collaborate" in or promote abortion incur excommunication. (LifeSiteNews.com)
The Vatican's number two official, Secretary of State, Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, said April 12 that the Church's problems with pedophile priests have not been caused by celibacy, but by homosexuality. "…That there is a relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia. That is the truth, this is the problem…" (The Wanderer).
"Decades of social science research now tell us that a father's sustained, committed involvement with his children and presence in the home matter more than we ever imagined. On nearly every measure available — children raised by their married mothers and fathers fare better than those raised in other types of families. Unfortunately, fewer and fewer American children today experience that ideal" (Colleen Carroll Campbell, author, columnist, television host, and former White House speechwriter, writing in Voices).
"Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker, Oregon, has announced that his diocese is ending its sponsorship of St. Charles Medical Center-Bend because the hospital persists in performing tubal ligations, thus refusing to adhere to Catholic teaching on sterilization. "It is my responsibility to ensure the hospital is following Catholic principles both in name and in fact," said Bishop Vasa. "It would be misleading for me to allow St. Charles Bend to be acknowledged as Catholic in name while I am certain that some important tenets of the [USCCB's] 'Ethical and Religious Directives' are no longer being observed" (Catholic World Report).
A cadre of U.S. Congressmen has demanded that the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) explain its decision to stock the abortifacient Plan-B contraceptive on U.S. bases, citing concerns over the health effects it may have on female soldiers, conscience protections, and the potential for exploitation of minors.
DOD first announced back in February that they were going to order pharmacies on U.S. bases to provide the morning-after pill, also known as "emergency contraception," or "Plan B."
The morning-after pill is designed to prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg when taken before an embryo's conception. However, the drug can be taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse, and will also abort a newly-conceived embryo by preventing its implantation into the wall of the mother's womb.
Although manufacturers bypass that fact by redefining pregnancy to begin at implantation, not at the fertilization of the egg, science accepts that at the moment of conception DNA from the sperm and the egg unite to form a new and completely unique human being — nothing further is added by implantation.
First, these fourteen House colleagues noted that the FDA panel giving initial approval to Plan B "cautioned that repeated use of the potent steroid regimen could have adverse health consequences for women and girls. This concern remains unresolved."
Because Plan B is available over the counter, the Congressmen also noted with concern that minors could get hold of the drug from someone over 17 years old, raising further issues about how the drug could be used to hide statutory rape or sexual exploitation.
"For these reasons, some pharmacists and physicians throughout the United States refuse to prescribe, dispense, or refer for Plan B," the letter continued.
"We urge you to ensure that any directive from DOD provides adequate con-science protections for any personnel who may be in a position to prescribe or dispense the morning-after pill." (LifeSiteNews.com)
Alabama State Health Officials have placed a Birmingham Planned Parenthood center on probation for failing to properly report, as required by state law, cases of possible sexual abuse of minors. Investigators reviewed fields of girls aged 13-15 having abortions despite compelling evidence they were victims of statutory rape. The state health department also faulted Planned Parenthood for not complying with Alabama's parental consent law. The law requires written permission from a parent or legal guardian before a minor has an abortion.
In a video, Lila Rose of Live Action posed as a 14-year old made pregnant by her 31-year-old "boyfriend." She told them she didn't want her parents to know about an abortion, and, true to form, the Planned Parenthood staff person coached her on fudging actual parental consent and never even mentioned a statutory rape problem.
Planned Parenthood of the Inland Northwest in Spokane, Washington, also has a problem. It was fined $630,000 plus interest for over-billing Medicaid. The fine relates to results of an audit by state health officials covering the three-year period March 2004 thru February 2007. According to a story dated August 12, 2009, in a Spokane newspaper, the audit was initiated after staff with the Washington Department of Social and Health Services noticed a suspicious pattern in the frequency of clinic visits by Medicaid patients. (Pro Vita Advisors, email@example.com)
Burt Wolf's shows, "Travel and Traditions" and "Taste of Freedom," are both entertaining and informative. He mixes food, history, and often theology. Since they have been translated into Russian, Polish, Mandarin, and Korean, they reach a worldwide audience of over 150 million people. He has written thousands of segments for cable and hundreds of half-hours for PBS. He's been nominated for two CableAce awards and an Emmy.
Transcripts are available to even more on-line at www.burtwolf.com. Many are pilgrimages to religious sites. For the associated cruises see www.wmfe.org/burtwolf. "I don't think of myself as a travel writer," he says. "I know very little about the 'business' of travel. I make programs about cultural history which began when Ted Turner invited me to report for CNN." This was after he appeared on the Johnny Carson Show.
"For years, I wrote for the Washington Post, but like most newspaper writers, I had very little control over what actually went to print."
In "On the Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella" and "Santiago de Compostella," he joined pilgrims Francis of Assisi and Shirley McLaine, in "a physical stress test, a place to grieve, a journey of spiritual awakening, and a unique vacation."
In "Assisi, Italy" he tells about Francis and Clare, but also about the origin of the Christmas cribs, admirers of Francis from Protestantism, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam. "But they all appreciate St. Francis and his message of love and respect for everything — people, animals, and our natural environment."
"The Shine of Guadalupe, Mexico City" tells the story of our Lady of Guadalupe and Juan Diego. It also touches on the National Shrine in Washington, D.C., and the Knights of Columbus. He also includes his favorite subjects, food and drink, gordita (griddlecake), and goat with "drunken sauce."
In New Mexico he pilgrimaged to Chimayo, "the Lourdes of North America." It had been a sacred site to the local Indians for 10,000 years. In 1810 a sand pit was discovered which was recognized as sacred by Catholics. Wolf, however, also looks into other local specialities, the weaving and chili.
Wolf's trip to the Vatican "happened" to be just when John Paul II died and a new pope was chosen. "The first thing that I learned was that the history of the papacy is not just the history of the Catholic Church," he says, it's "actually an essential part of the history of the entire world."
"The Land of St. Patrick" has to do both with Ireland and St. Patrick's Day. It also involves another pilgrimage, this time to Patrick's Purgatory in Donegal. (www.loughderg.org)
"Austrian Monasteries" emphasizes especially Klosterneuberg and Melk with a stop at Land-haus Bacher restaurant between.
The Book of the Year: A Brief History of Our Seasonal Holidays corresponds to the "Taste of Freedom" series, emphasizing food and feasts. Of particular interest are the spring and winter feasts of Christians and Jews.
The Easter episode actually covers Holy Thursday through the whole Easter season. He had lamb with Count Ugo Contini Bonacossi near Florence. Pan de Ramerino (hot crossbuns), la Columbo (dove-shaped dessert). He explains egg decorating in Ukraine and Russia, and the annual White House egg hunt.
The Christmas episode includes the traditions that have accumulated around the holiday: Advent, the Christmas tree, the yule log, caroling, and Midnight Mass. Christmas foods include German Christollen (nut bread), Pfefferkuchen (spice cake), Lebcuchen (honey cake), gingerbread, and eggnog.
"I think it's essential to remember that the central theme of the story of God giving His only Son as a gift to humanity," he explains. "To me, Christmas is about rebirth during the darkest time but it is also about generosity and sharing."
The Passover episode covers not only the history of the 8-day holiday but also Italian Jews' macaroons, matzo ball soup, and American Jews' interfaith Seders, such as at Sammy's Rumanian Steakhouse.
The Hanukkah episode includes the deidel, the Northern European latke (potato pancake), Israeli soufganioth (jelly doughnuts), Spanish fritters, and American gift-giving and decorating.
He was filming on his 70th birthday. "The whole idea of retirement makes no sense to me. Keep challenging your mind and you'll stay young."
When asked which was his most "entertaining" European trip, he quickly answered, "My honeymoon. Because I had just married the woman of my dreams and the dreams keep getting better."
He also has a series just on local foods, both in the U.S. and Europe, called "What We Eat." Knowing French, he says, "will not help you appreciate the food in Paris. Look around the room at what other people are eating and if it looks good to you, point it out to your waiter."
On April 9, Pope Benedict XVI attended the first screening of an international film, "Under the Roman Sky," which covers Hitler's plan to kidnap the Pope. The film was directed by Christian Duguay and stars American actor James Cromwell. The screening was held at Castel Gandolfo.
In remarks after the screening, the Holy Father said the film "presents the fundamental role of Venerable Pius XII in saving Rome and many persecuted people between 1943 and 1944. Although it belongs to the popular genre, it aims to reconstruct those dramatic events and the figure of the 'Pastor Angelicus,' taking into account the most recent studies as well . . ."
The Pope continued: "These works conceived for the wider public, using the most modern means and at the same time aiming to illustrate figures or events of the past century have a special value, above all for the new generations. For those who studied certain events at school and have perhaps heard talk of them, films such as this one can be useful and stimulating and can help increase their knowledge of a period which is not far off but which the pressing events of recent history and a fragmented culture can cause to be forgotten.
"Pius XII was the Pontiff of our youth. With his rich teaching he knew how to speak to the people of his time, pointing out the way of Truth, and with his great wisdom was able to direct the Church toward the horizon of the third millennium. However, I am eager to stress in particular that Pius XII was the Pope who, as the father of all, presided in charity in Rome and throughout the world, especially in the difficult period of the Second World War. In a Discourse of July 23, 1944, immediately after the liberation of the City of Rome, he thanked the Members of the Circolo San Pietro [Circle of St. Peter] for their collaboration, saying 'You help us to satisfy more extensively our desire to wipe away so many tears, to alleviate so much suffering,' and pointed out as central for every Christian St. Paul's exhortation to the Colossians (3:14-15). 'And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one Body' (Discorsi e Radiomessaggi di Sua Santità Pio XII, pp. 87-88).
"The primacy of charity, of love which is the commandment of the Lord Jesus: this is the principle of, and the key to, the interpretation of all the work of the Church and in primis of her universal Pastor. Charity is the reason for every action, every intervention. It is the overriding motivation that prompts thought and practical action and I am glad that this unifying principle also emerges in this film. Permit me to suggest this key of interpretation in the light of the authentic testimony of the great teacher of faith, hope, and charity which Pope Pius XII was . . ."
Archbishop Celestine Migliore, representing the Vatican, addressed a United Nations Review Conference of the Parties to the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons meeting in New York on May 6.
His remarks follows:
". . . At the outset, I would like to read the message that Pope Benedict XVI has sent to this Conference: 'The process towards a coordinated and secure nuclear disarmament is strictly connected to the full and rapid fulfillment of the relevant international commitments. Peace, in fact, rests on trust and on respect for promises made, not merely on the equilibrium of forces. In this spirit, I encourage the initiatives that seek progressive disarmament and the creation of zones free of nuclear weapons, with a view to their complete elimination from the planet. I exhort all those participating in the New York meeting to overcome the burdens of history and to weave patiently a political and economic web of peace in order to foster integral human development and the authentic aspirations of peoples.'
"Nuclear weapons have remained a central item on the disarmament agenda for decades now. These weapons continue to exist in huge quantities, some of them in a state of operational readiness. They are no longer just for deterrence but have become entrenched in the military doctrines of the major powers. The danger of proliferation has escalated. The threat of nuclear terrorism has become real.
"In this context the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) remains a valid and indispensable multilateral instrument binding States Parties in its totality and particularly in its call to negotiations 'in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control' (Art. VI).
"One of the challenges is the fact that nuclear-weapon States, 40 years after the NPT entered into force, have still to pursue in a clear and effective way these negotiations mandated by Art. VI of the NPT, to comply with the ruling of the International Court of Justice that negotiations leading to the elimination of nuclear weapons must be concluded and to take the steps adopted in the year 2000 for their complete elimination. Nuclear disarmament is one of the pillars of the Treaty which ultimately conditions the other two for a simple fact: as long as nuclear weapons exist they will allow and even encourage proliferation and there will always be a risk that nuclear material produced for the peaceful use of energy will be turned into weapons. The effectiveness of our concerns and endeavors to put an end to nuclear proliferation needs to be supported by a strong moral authority. Moral authority comes first and foremost from respecting and delivering on promises and commitments.
"The military doctrines which continue to rely on nuclear weapons as a means of security and defense or even measure of power, de facto slow down nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation processes. The Holy See strongly advocates for transparent, verifiable, global, and irreversible nuclear disarmament and for addressing seriously the issues of nuclear strategic arms, the tactical ones and their means of delivery. In this context, the Holy See welcomes the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. The entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is of the highest priority. The universal banning of nuclear explosions will inhibit the development of nuclear weapons, and thus will contribute to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and will prevent further damage to the environment. In this direction, it is crucial to halt the production and transfer of fissile material for weapons. The immediate commencement of a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT) is a matter of responsibility and must not be further delayed. The Holy See encourages also nuclear-weapon States and those which possess such weapons to ratify the respective Protocols to the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones Treaties and strongly supports efforts to establish such a zone in the Middle East. Nuclear-weapon-free zones are the best example of trust, confidence, and affirmation that peace and security is possible without possessing nuclear weapons.
"The international community needs to seek new approaches to nuclear disarmament. It is a fact that no force on earth will be able to protect civil populations from the explosion of nuclear bombs, which could cause as many as millions of immediate deaths. Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation are indeed essential also from a humanitarian point of view. Every step on the non-proliferation and disarmament agenda must be geared towards ensuring the security and survival of humanity and must build on principles of the preeminent and inherent value of human dignity and the centrality of the human person, which constitute the basis of international humanitarian law. Important lessons can be learned from the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Mine Ban Treaty, which both demonstrate that it is possible to make a real difference for human security by breaking old habits.
". . . The world has arrived at an opportune moment to begin addressing in a systematic way the legal, political, and technical requisites for a nuclear weapons free world. For this reason, preparatory work should begin as soon as possible on a convention or framework agreement leading to the phased elimination of nuclear weapons . . ."
vatican city — Pope Benedict XVI stressed the fundamental right of children to be born in an ad limina visit with Scandinavian Bishops on March 25.
Noting that a Congress on the Family was scheduled for May in Scandavia, the Pope commented:
". . . One of the most important messages that the people of the Nordic lands need to hear from you is a reminder of the centrality of the family for the life of a healthy society. Sadly, recent years have seen a weakening of the commitment to the institution of marriage and the Christian understanding of human sexuality that for so long served as the foundation of personal and social relations in European society. Children have the right to be conceived and carried in the womb, brought into the world, and brought up within marriage: it is through the secure and recognized relationship to their own parents that they can discover their identity and achieve their proper human development (cf. Donum Vitae, February 22, 1987). In societies with a noble tradition of defending the rights of all their members, one would expect this fundamental right of children to be given priority over any supposed right of adults to impose on them alternative models of family life and certainly over any supposed right to abortion. Since the family is 'the first and indispensable teacher of peace' (Message for the 2008 World Day of Peace), the most reliable promoter of social cohesion and the best school of the virtues of good citizenship, it is in the interests of all, and especially of governments, to defend and promote stable family life . . ."
(Source: L'Osservatore Romano English edition)
notre dame, in — Arizona bishops received the following letter in support of their stand on immigration.
"We, the undersigned, are among more than 300 church leaders attending the Catholic Cultural Diversity Network Convocation at the University of Notre Dame from May 6-8, 2010. We are a cross-section of the entire Catholic Church in the United States coming from every region in the country and representing the many families of cultures, races, and ethnicities that make up the Church in the United States including those of European origin.
"We are blessed with the presence of nineteen archbishops and bishops, among them Archbishop Pietro Sambi, personal representative of our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, together with priests, religious men and women, deacons, and hundreds of lay ministers and Catholic professionals.
"We write in order to express our solidarity with you and the Catholic community under your care and all the people of Arizona and throughout the United States who have raised their voices in opposition to Arizona Law SB1070. This is a law which undermines the fabric of society by creating an atmosphere of discrimination against certain members of the community, profiling minorities, and creating fear among persons of color regardless of their immigration status.
"In expressing this concern we realize that all the people of Arizona together with millions of others throughout our country are suffering from a broken immigration system that is in need of immediate, comprehensive reform. We lament that both the executive and legislative branches of the federal government who rightly have jurisdiction in this matter, together with the leadership of both political parties, have shown themselves unwilling to resolve the urgent need for a new and equitable immigration policy. The time for them to face the issue of immigration reform is long past due.
"We congratulate you for your courage and leadership in this matter as well as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for taking a constructive, well-reasoned stand on these controversial matters consistent with Catholic social teaching. You have been stalwart advocates for human dignity and the common good. You and your people have opened doors to immigrants and welcomed them to the table of the Word and of the Eucharist. Through these gestures of solidarity you are a hopeful sign in American society that we are stronger together and you move us closer to the vision of Pentecost as a diverse people of one mind and heart. We pray that working together with all persons of good will we may find the way forward so that the rights and dignity of human beings including the undocumented as well as the integrity of our borders will be safeguarded and preserved.
"For our part we pledge our continued prayers and efforts in our local communities to lift up the need for immediate action on immigration reform."
(Source: US Conference of Catholic Bishops press release)
washington, dc — Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, NY, chairman of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace and Ken Hackett, president of Catholic Relief Services, sent a letter on May 4 to US Senators Max Baucus and Charles Grassley.
The letter follows:
"Thank you for sponsoring the Haiti Economic Lift Program Act (S 3275). The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) strongly support this bipartisan bill which—in the midst of so much desperation—will send a clear signal that the United States is prepared to take the necessary steps to improve the lives of thousands of Haitians both in the short-term and in the long-term. We encourage the Senate to move the bill quickly through the legislative process.
"As you may know, USCCB and CRS, the Catholic community's relief and development agency, took immediate and urgent steps to respond to the earthquake in Haiti by providing direct humanitarian assistance. USCCB also wrote to the Administration recommending that the U.S. government adopt a coherent strategy for long-term sustainable rebuilding and development that coordinates different U.S. Government agencies in an integrated approach, engaging other groups with expertise and experience with Haiti.
"A critically important part of the integrated strategy we recommended was the extension and improvement of the trade preference levels (TPLs) that Haiti was granted through the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Acts (HOPE I and HOPE II), which our Conference strongly supported. We note that your bill increases the TPLs through 2020 and extends the value-added rule through 2018 with some provisions. The light manufacturing sector was not as damaged as other parts of Port-au-Prince during the earthquake and thus could generate desperately needed employment. Thousands of jobs will be quickly created in Haiti if this legislation passes. It will give investors and retailers a clear signal that the United States has a strong commitment to help Haiti recover and rebuild, especially the Haitian economy, in the long-term.
"Thank you for your leadership in recognizing the need for a long-term and strong commitment to help Haiti recover and move toward human development and poverty reduction. Be assured that the Conference of Bishops and Catholic Relief Services will continue to do everything possible to stand in solidarity with the people of Haiti as they begin to rebuild their country."
(Source: USCCB press release)
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