"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
|Blessed John Paul II|
The joyful celebration of Blessed John Paul II's beatification continued on May 2 with a Mass of Thanksgiving in St. Peter's Square. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, was the main celebrant. His homily follows:
" 'Simon, son of John, do you love me?...' 'Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you' (Jn 21:17). The dialogue between the Risen One and Peter is the dialogue that precedes the mandate: 'Feed my sheep,' but it is also a dialogue that first scrutinizes the whole of man's life.
"Might not these be the question and answer that marked the life and mission of Bl. John Paul II? He himself said so in Krakow in 1999: 'Today I feel called in a particular way to give thanks for this 1,000-year-old community of Christ's pastors, clerics, and lay people, because their witness to holiness thanks to the environment of faith which they formed and continued to form for 10 centuries in Krakow, have made it possible at the end of this millennium, on the very banks of the Vistola River at the foot of the Wawel Cathedral for Christ's exhortation: "Peter, feed my lambs" (Jn 21:15) to be heard. It became possible for one man's weakness to find support in the power of the perennial faith, hope, and charity of this land, and to give the response: "In the obedience of faith before Christ my Lord, entrusting myself to the Mother of Christ and of the Church, conscious of the great difficulty, I accept" ' (cf. Homily at Mass in Krakow, June 15, 1999).
"Yes, it was this dialogue of love between Christ and man that marked Karol Wojtyla's entire life and led him not only to faithful service to the Church but also to the unreserved personal dedication to God and to men and women which characterized his journey of holiness.
"I think we all remember that on the day of the funeral, during the celebration, at a certain moment the wind gently closed the pages of the Gospel Book that lay open on his coffin. It was as if the breath of the Spirit had wished to mark the end of Karol Wojtyla's human and spiritual adventure, illumined throughout by Christ's Gospel. In this Book he discovered God's plans for humanity and for himself but it was from it in particular that Karol learned Christ, his face and his love, which for him were always a call to responsibility.
"In the light of the Gospel he read the history of humanity and the vicissitudes of every man and every woman whom the Lord set on his path. His faith flowed from here, from the encounter with Christ in the Gospel.
An Act Of Consecration To The Holy Spirit
Divine Spirit of light and love, I consecrate my mind and heart and will to You for time and for eternity. May my mind be open to Your divine inspirations and to the teachings of the Church, whose infallible guide You are. May my heart be filled with love of God and of my neighbor and my will conformed to the will of God. May my whole life be a faithful imitation of the life and virtues of Christ our Lord to Whom, with the Father and You, be honor and glory forever. Amen.
- Pope St. Pius X -
"He was a man of faith, a man of God, a man who lived of God. His life was a ceaseless, constant prayer, a prayer that lovingly embraced every individual inhabitant of our planet, created in the image and likeness of God and for this reason deserving of respect; redeemed by Christ's death and Resurrection, and for this reason truly the living glory of God (Gloria Dei vivens homo [the glory of God is a living man] St. Irenaeus).
"Thanks to the faith that he expressed above all in prayer, John Paul II was an authentic champion of every human being's dignity and not merely a fighter for political and social ideologies.
"To his mind, every woman, every man, was a daughter or son of God independently of his or her race, skin color, geographical, and cultural background and even religious belief. His relationship with every person is summed up in this marvelous sentence, written by him: 'The other belongs to me.'
"Yet his prayer was also a constant intercession for the whole human family, for the Church, for every community of believers across the earth perhaps all the more effective the more heavily marked by the suffering that featured in the various phases of his life.
"Was it not from here from prayer, from prayer linked to so many painful events, his own and those of others that flowed from his concern for peace in the world, for the peaceful coexistence of peoples and nations? In the First Reading we heard: 'How beautiful up on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings, who publishes peace' (Is 52:7).
"Today let us thank the Lord for having given us a Pastor like him. A Pastor who could read the signs of God's presence in human history and who subsequently proclaimed his great works in all the world, in all the languages. A Pastor who had rooted within him a sense of mission, of the commitment to evangelize, to proclaim God's word everywhere, to shout it from the rooftops....
". . . Today let us give thanks to the Lord for a witness like him, so credible, so transparent, who taught us how we should experience faith and defend the Christian values, starting with life, without complexes or fear; and how we should witness to faith courageously and consistently, living the Beatitudes in our daily experience.
"Let us thank the Lord for giving us a guide like him who, profoundly living faith based on a solid and close bond with God, was able to transmit to men and women the truth which is 'Jesus Christ, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us!,' and that 'we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For . . . neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord' (Rom 8: 34, 37-39).
"The life, suffering, death, and holiness of John Paul II are a testimony to this, as well as a tangible, indisputable confirmation.
"Let us thank the Lord for giving us a Pope who was not only able to give the Catholic Church a universal outreach and a moral authority at an unprecedented global level, but also, especially with the celebration of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a vision that was more spiritual, more biblical, and more focused on the word of God. A Church which knew how to renew herself, how to structure a 'new evangelization,' how to intensify ecumenical and interreligious relations, and rediscover ways to fruitful dialogue with the new generations.
"Lastly, let us thank the Lord for giving us a man as Holy as him. We were all able to perceive some from close at hand, others from afar how consistent his humanity, his words, and his life were. He was a true man because he was inseparably bound to the One who is Truth. In following the One who is the Way, he was a man constantly on the move, ever striving for the greatest good of every person, of the Church, and of the world, and for the destination which for every believer is the glory of the Father. He was truly alive for he was a man full of the Life, which is Christ, ever open to his grace and to all the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
"His was a holiness lived out, especially in his last months, his last weeks, in total fidelity to the mission that had been assigned to him, until his death.
"Although this was not, properly speaking, a martyrdom, we all saw how in his life the words we have heard in today's Gospel came true: 'Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go' (Jn 21:18).
"We all saw how everything humanly impressive about him was taken from him: his physical strength, his physical expression, the possibility to move, even his speech. And it was especially then that he entrusted his life and his mission to Christ, because Christ alone can save the world. He knew that his physical weakness made Christ working in history even more clearly visible. And, by offering his suffering to him and to his Church, he gave to all of us a last, important lesson of humanity and of surrender, held in God's arms . . .
"Let us sing to the Lord a hymn of glory, for the gift of this great Pope: a man of faith and prayer, a Pastor and a Witness, a guide in the passage between two millenniums. May this hymn illumine our life, so that we do not only venerate the new Blessed, but, with the help of God's grace, follow his teaching and his example.
"As I address a grateful thought to Pope Benedict XVI, who has wished to raise his great Predecessor to the glory of the altars, I would like to end with the words he spoke on the first anniversary of the new Blessed's death.
" 'Dear brothers and sisters . . . our thoughts turn with emotion to the moment of the beloved Pontiff's death, but at the same time our hearts are, as it were, impelled to look ahead. We feel reverberating within them his repeated invitations to advance without fear on the path of fidelity to the Gospel, to be heralds and witnesses of Christ in the third millennium. We cannot but recall his ceaseless exhortations to cooperate generously in creating a more just humanity with greater solidarity, to be peacemakers and builders of hope. May our gaze always remain fixed on Christ, the same "yesterday and today and for ever" (Heb 13:8) who firmly guides his Church. We have believed in his love and it is the encounter with him "which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction" (cf. Deus Caritas Est, n. 1). May the power of the Spirit of Jesus be for all, dear brothers and sisters, as it was for Pope John Paul ii, a source of peace and joy, and may the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, help us to be in every circumstance, like him, unflagging apostles of his divine Son and prophets of his merciful love.' Amen!"
Approximately 1,500,000 people came to Vatican City to participate in Pope John Paul Ii's beatification on May 1. Observers reported the crowds were immense and joyful even by Vatican standards. L'Osservatore Romano in their Saturday daily edition, dated May 1, called it "an extraordinary event, without precedence in the last ten centuries of the Church's history."
In his homily at the beatification Mass, Pope Benedict XVI remarked: "Six years ago we gathered in this Square to celebrate the funeral of Pope John Paul II. Our grief at his loss was deep, but even greater was our sense of an immense grace which embraced Rome and the whole world: a grace which was in some way the fruit of my beloved predecessor's entire life, and especially of his witness in suffering. Even then we perceived the fragrance of his sanctity, and in any number of ways God's People showed their veneration for him. For this reason, with all due respect for the Church's canonical norms, I wanted his cause of beatification to move forward with reasonable haste. And now the longed-for day has come; it came quickly because this is what was pleasing to the Lord: John Paul II is blessed! . . .
"Today is the Second Sunday of Easter, which Blessed John Paul II entitled Divine Mercy Sunday. The date was chosen for today's celebration because, in God's providence, my predecessor died on the vigil of this feast. Today is also the first day of May, Mary's month, and the liturgical memorial of Saint Joseph the Worker. All these elements serve to enrich our prayer, they help us in our pilgrimage through time and space; but in heaven a very different celebration is taking place among the angels and saints! Even so, God is but one, and one too is Christ the Lord, who like a bridge joins earth to heaven. At this moment we feel closer than ever, sharing as it were in the liturgy of heaven.
" 'Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe' (Jn 20:29). In today's Gospel Jesus proclaims this beatitude: the beatitude of faith. For us, it is particularly striking because we are gathered to celebrate a beatification, but even more so because today the one proclaimed blessed is a Pope, a Successor of Peter, one who was called to confirm his brethren in the faith. John Paul II is blessed because of his faith, a strong, generous, and apostolic faith. We think at once of another beatitude: 'Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven' (Mt 16:17).
"What did our heavenly Father reveal to Simon? That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Because of this faith, Simon becomes Peter, the rock on which Jesus can build his Church. The eternal beatitude of John Paul II, which today the Church rejoices to proclaim, is wholly contained in these sayings of Jesus: 'Blessed are you, Simon' and 'Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe!' It is the beatitude of faith, which John Paul II also received as a gift from God the Father for the building up of Christ's Church.
"Our thoughts turn to yet another beatitude, one which appears in the Gospel before all others. It is the beatitude of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer. Mary, who had just conceived Jesus, was told by Saint Elizabeth: 'Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord' (Lk 1:45). The beatitude of faith has its model in Mary, and all of us rejoice that the beatification of John Paul II takes place on this first day of the month of Mary, beneath the maternal gaze of the one who by her faith sustained the faith of the Apostles and constantly sustains the faith of their successors, especially those called to occupy the Chair of Peter. Mary does not appear in the accounts of Christ's resurrection, yet hers is, as it were, a continual, hidden presence: she is the Mother to whom Jesus entrusted each of his disciples and the entire community . . .
"Today's second reading also speaks to us of faith. Saint Peter himself, filled with spiritual enthusiasm, points out to the newly-baptized the reason for their hope and their joy. I like to think how in this passage, at the beginning of his First Letter, Peter does not use language of exhortation; instead, he states a fact. He writes: 'you rejoice,' and he adds: 'you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls' (1 Pt 1:6, 8-9). All these verbs are in the indicative, because a new reality has come about in Christ's resurrection, a reality to which faith opens the door. 'This is the Lord's doing,' says the Psalm (118:23), and 'it is marvelous in our eyes,' the eyes of faith.
Pentecost . . .
reveals the face of the Church as a family gathered together with Mary, enlivened by the powerful outpouring of the Spirit and ready for the mission of evangelization. The contemplation of this scene, like that of the other glorious mysteries, ought to lead the faithful to an ever greater appreciation of their new life in Christ . . ."
Blessed John Paul II
Rosarium Virginis Mariae, n.23
"Dear brothers and sisters, today our eyes behold, in the full spiritual light of the risen Christ, the beloved and revered figure of John Paul II. Today his name is added to the host of those whom he proclaimed saints and blesseds during the almost twenty-seven years of his pontificate, thereby forcefully emphasizing the universal vocation to the heights of the Christian life, to holiness, taught by the conciliar Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium. All of us, as members of the people of God bishops, priests, deacons, laity, men and women religious are making our pilgrim way to the heavenly homeland where the Virgin Mary has preceded us, associated as she was in a unique and perfect way to the mystery of Christ and the Church. Karol Wojtyla took part in the Second Vatican Council, first as an auxiliary Bishop and then as Archbishop of Krakσw. He was fully aware that the Council's decision to devote the last chapter of its Constitution on the Church to Mary meant that the Mother of the Redeemer is held up as an image and model of holiness for every Christian and for the entire Church. This was the theological vision which Blessed John Paul II discovered as a young man and subsequently maintained and deepened throughout his life. A vision which is expressed in the scriptural image of the crucified Christ with Mary, his Mother, at his side. This icon from the Gospel of John (19:25-27) was taken up in the episcopal and later the papal coat-of-arms of Karol Wojtyla: a golden cross with the letter 'M' on the lower right and the motto 'Totus tuus,' drawn from the well-known words of Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort in which Karol Wojtyla found a guiding light for his life: 'Totus tuus ego sum et omnia mea tua sunt. Accipio te in mea omnia. Praebe mihi cor tuum, Maria I belong entirely to you, and all that I have is yours. I take you for my all. O Mary, give me your heart' (Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, 266).
"In his Testament, the new Blessed wrote: 'When, on October 16, 1978, the Conclave of Cardinals chose John Paul II, the Primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski said to me: "The task of the new Pope will be to lead the Church into the Third Millennium." ' And the Pope added: 'I would like once again to express my gratitude to the Holy Spirit for the great gift of the Second Vatican Council, to which, together with the whole Church and especially with the whole episcopate I feel indebted. I am convinced that it will long be granted to the new generations to draw from the treasures that this Council of the twentieth century has lavished upon us. As a Bishop who took part in the Council from the first to the last day, I desire to entrust this great patrimony to all who are and will be called in the future to put it into practice. For my part, I thank the Eternal Shepherd, who has enabled me to serve this very great cause in the course of all the years of my Pontificate.' And what is this 'cause'? It is the same one that John Paul II presented during his first solemn Mass in Saint Peter's Square in the unforgettable words: 'Do not be afraid! Open, open wide the doors to Christ!' What the newly-elected Pope asked of everyone, he was himself the first to do: society, culture, political, and economic systems he opened up to Christ, turning back with the strength of a titan a strength which came to him from God a tide which appeared irreversible. By his witness of faith, love, and apostolic courage, accompanied by great human charisma, this exemplary son of Poland helped believers throughout the world not to be afraid to be called Christian, to belong to the Church, to speak of the Gospel. In a word: he helped us not to fear the truth, because truth is the guarantee of liberty. To put it even more succinctly: he gave us the strength to believe in Christ, because Christ is Redemptor hominis, the Redeemer of man. This was the theme of his first encyclical, and the thread which runs though all the others.
"When Karol Wojtyla ascended to the throne of Peter, he brought with him a deep understanding of the difference between Marxism and Christianity, based on their respective visions of man. This was his message: man is the way of the Church, and Christ is the way of man. With this message, which is the great legacy of the Second Vatican Council and of its 'helmsman,' the Servant of God Pope Paul VI, John Paul II led the People of God across the threshold of the Third Millennium, which thanks to Christ he was able to call 'the threshold of hope.' Throughout the long journey of preparation for the great Jubilee he directed Christianity once again to the future, the future of God, which transcends history while nonetheless directly affecting it. He rightly reclaimed for Christianity that impulse of hope which had in some sense faltered before Marxism and the ideology of progress. He restored to Christianity its true face as a religion of hope, to be lived in history in an 'Advent' spirit, in a personal and communitarian existence directed to Christ, the fullness of humanity and the fulfillment of all our longings for justice and peace.
"Finally, on a more personal note, I would like to thank God for the gift of having worked for many years with Blessed Pope John Paul II. I had known him earlier and had esteemed him, but for twenty-three years, beginning in 1982 after he called me to Rome to be Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I was at his side and came to revere him all the more. My own service was sustained by his spiritual depth and by the richness of his insights. His example of prayer continually impressed and edified me: he remained deeply united to God even amid the many demands of his ministry. Then too, there was his witness in suffering: the Lord gradually stripped him of everything, yet he remained ever a 'rock,' as Christ desired. His profound humility, grounded in close union with Christ, enabled him to continue to lead the Church and to give to the world a message which became all the more eloquent as his physical strength declined. In this way he lived out in an extraordinary way the vocation of every priest and bishop to become completely one with Jesus, whom he daily receives and offers in the Church.
"Blessed are you, beloved Pope John Paul II, because you believed! Continue, we implore you, to sustain from heaven the faith of God's people. You often blessed us in this Square from the Apostolic Palace: Bless us, Holy Father! Amen."
Fred H. Summe is Vice President of Northern Kentucky Right to Life, P.O. Box 1202, Covington, Kentucky 41012
Once the Republicans had control of the U.S. House of Representatives, they boldly spoke of cutting the federal budget over the protests of the Democrats in Congress. Since all appropriation bills must originate in the House, the Republicans were in the position to address the ever-growing federal budget, with its ever-growing federal deficit.
Prior to the November elections, the Republicans had promised a $100 billion deduction in the federal budget, but then decided on a $61 billion deduction, which would result in this year's projected deficit of $1.6 trillion being reduced less than 4 percent.
To the excitement of those who hold the Judeo-Christian principles of the sanctity of all human life, the House Republicans, reinforced with many strongly pro-life freshmen, passed an amendment to the proposed budget, defunding Planned Parenthood.
"By banning federal funding to Planned Parenthood, Congress has taken a stand for millions of Americans who believe their tax dollars should not be used to subsidize the largest abortion provider in America," states Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), who introduced the amendment to defund Planned Parenthood, which passed in the House by a vote of 240 to 185.
After passing a couple of "continuing resolutions," the House Republicans, under pressure from constituents to address the budget itself, declined to pass any more temporary funding of the government, forcing the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate to take up the issue of the budget, and the issue of cutting the budget for this fiscal year. Their proposed budget only slightly reduced the amount the U.S. government would have to borrow to fund its out-of-control spending.
It quickly became clear that of the proposed $61 billion in cuts, the insignificant cut of $3.5 million from Planned Parenthood was the pivotal issue. Vice President Joe Biden, a Catholic, informed Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) that this was "unacceptable" and that it would be the deal breaker, reports politico.com.
At a fundraising event in Chicago, President Barack Obama stated he told Boehner that in regards to the provision to defund Planned Parenthood, " if you think you can overturn my veto, try it. But don't try to sneak this one through."
Nineteen Democratic senators wrote that they would oppose any efforts to deny Planned Parenthood funds. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) expressed his opposition to an amendment defunding Planned Parenthood in the proposed budget as "Hell, no!"
For years, we have heard in the pro-abortion secular news media that abortion really was no longer an issue. However, of all the items that were being cut or eliminated from the federal money fountain, the one which became the line in the sand was the funding of the killing of innocent unborn children. The Democrats in Washington were willing to fall on their swords over this insignificant cut in the federal budget, even if it meant "shutting down the government."
The official talking point for the national news media was that any "government shutdown" would be blamed on the Republicans, who would then have to face an angry electorate. Although it soon came out that the government really wasn't going to "shut down," and in fact only a few unessential services would be temporarily closed, the media hype struck fear in the ranks of Republicans. The last time that the federal government was temporarily "shut down" in the 1990s, this caused such little disturbance that most people cannot even remember the event.
"If that's the case, then shut it down," espouses Fr. Frank Pavone, Priests for Life. "When a government funds massive child-killing, it has betrayed its very purpose anyway. Maybe a shutdown will give our government officials a chance to reflect on what government should be doing in the first place serving life, not helping to destroy it."
As the budget deadline approached, John Boehner and the majority of the House Republicans, facing a "threat" by the Democratic-controlled Senate and a possible veto by President Obama, abandoned all moral principles and agreed to again give federal tax funds to Planned Parenthood. On the false concession that funding Planned Parenthood would be taken up in the Senate in a separate vote, the majority of the Republicans in the House withdrew the amendment to defund Planned Parenthood. All knew that a separate bill to defund Planned Parenthood would never pass the U.S. Senate, where it would require the support of at least 60 senators.
By abandoning the unborn child, the majority of Republicans in the House would not have to face the news media-created boogie man of an electorate angry at the government "shutting down."
Although there was talk by the Republicans of taking this issue up at a later date, and in future budgets, they all knew, as did the liberal pro-abortion news media and the Democratic party, that all other future attempts would surely fail, since any such action to defund Planned Parenthood could only pass if it was an indispensable part of the budget bill.
This whole budget fiasco again proves that protection of the unborn child is an issue that only some of the Republicans consider a core issue, one on which there can really be no compromise. On the other side, the pro-abortion Democrats have again shown that the so-called "right" to destroy the life of the unborn child will be preserved by them no matter what.
So when the determined Democrats faced the lukewarm Republicans, the Republicans quickly capitulated.
"Ending taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood is a non-negotiable," explains Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List. "Pro-life America demands that our leaders in the Senate step up and take on this fight and that the House leadership holds its ground. Americans have spoken, and the time to defund Planned Parenthood, a habitual and unapologetic ally of those who deal in the exploitation of minors, is now. This is a black and white issue, and we will accept nothing less than the total defunding of Planned Parenthood in the Continuing Resolution."
Once the majority of the Republicans in the House abandoned their moral principles, their promise to cut the budget $100 billion evaporated, and they settled for cuts allegedly eliminating $38 billion from the budget. However, as the following weeks disclosed, most of these so-called budget cuts were just smoke and mirrors, and some economists argued that the amount that was really being cut from last year's bloated budget was less than $1 billion.
"The hard outlay of savings again totaled by the Congressional Budget Office said what was really saved was a meager $352 million," reports The Wanderer. "Immediately, 59 mostly conservative GOP members decided to vote no. Boehner had to appeal to Dem Whip Steny Hoyer to give him enough Dem votes to make up the difference. So 81 Dems joined 179 Republicans to save Boehner's lying hide."
Reps. Steve Chabot (R-OH), Jean Schmidt (R-OH), and Mike Pence (R-IN) voted against this shameful compromise, while Reps. Geoff Davis (R-KY), John Boehner (R-OH), and Todd Young (R-IN) voted for it. Among the U.S. Senators from Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky, only Rand Paul (R-KY) voted nay.
So the federal government will continue spending money it doesn't have, borrowing money from China, Japan, or the Arabs to finance the massive debt the treasury must now market every month, and passing on a burden to future generations so that this generation can have all that it desires.
In spite of all the strong and courageous rhetoric of the Republican majority in the House, once they abandoned their moral principles, it all became much to do about nothing.
The great lesson of history, well documented in the Old Testament, that once men abandon their faith in God's moral absolutes, the nation will lose its greatness and prosperity.
(Editor's note: the following is a press release from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.)
"The moral measure of this budget debate is not which party wins or which powerful interests prevail, but rather how those who are jobless, hungry, homeless, or poor are treated," said the U.S. bishops in a letter to the Senate May 5.
The bishops recognize the "difficult choices about how to balance needs and resources and allocate burdens and sacrifices" that Congress and the Administration face, but insist that the moral and human dimensions of those choices must be addressed in the ongoing budget debate in the Senate and the nation.
The letter was signed by Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, of Stockton, California, chair of the bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice, and Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, New York, chair of the Committee on International Justice and Peace.
"We . . . wish to clearly acknowledge the difficult challenges that the Congress, Administration and government at all levels face to get our financial house in order: fulfilling the demands of justice and moral obligations to future generations; controlling future debt and deficits; and protecting the lives and dignity of those who are poor and vulnerable," wrote the bishops. At the same time, in the letter they offer several moral criteria based on Catholic Social Teaching to help guide difficult budgetary decisions.
Though the bishops do not offer a detailed critique of entire budget proposals, they do ask Senators to consider the human and moral dimensions of several key choices facing the Congress.
"Access to affordable, life-affirming health care remains an urgent national priority. We recognize that the rising costs of Medicare, Medicaid, and other entitlement programs need to be addressed, but we urge that the needs of the poor, working families, and vulnerable people be protected," the bishops said. "Cost cutting proposals should not simply shift health care costs from the federal government to the states or directly to beneficiaries."
The letter also highlights international assistance as an essential tool to promote human life and dignity, advance solidarity with poorer nations, and enhance global security.
"We ask the Senate to support poverty-focused assistance and to continue reform of foreign assistance so it is even more effective for the poorest people in the poorest places on earth."
The bishops said they "welcome the kind of bipartisan action that prevented a federal government shutdown and averted the hardships that would have come with failure to reach agreement on the FY 2011 continuing resolution."
Looking forward to proposals in the Senate for FY 2012, the letter cautions that "[a] just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons. It requires shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly."
"The Catholic bishops of the United States stand ready to work with leaders of both parties for a budget that reduces future deficits, protects poor and vulnerable people, advances the common good, and promotes human life and dignity," the bishops said.
The full text of the letter is available online: http://www.usccb.org
St. Joseph, guardian of Jesus and chaste husband of Mary, you passed your life in loving fulfillment of duty. You supported the holy fathers of Nazareth with the work of your hands. Kindly protect those who trustingly come to you. You know their aspirations, their hardships, their hopes. They look to you because they know you will understand and protect them. You too knew trial, labor, and weariness. But amid the worries of material life, your soul was full of deep peace and sang out in true joy through intimacy with God's Son entrusted to you and with Mary, His tender Mother. Assure those you protect that they do not labor alone. Teach them to find Jesus near them and to watch over Him faithfully as you have done. — Blessed John XXIII
Because we are sons and daughters of God, saved by Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we do not merely read the news but make the news. We direct the course of world events by faith expressed in action and intercession. Please pray for the stories covered in this paper. Clip out this intercessory list and make it part of your daily prayer.
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