"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
|On July 9, the people of South Sudan celebrated the birth of their new nation. Coming from all over southern Sudan, hundreds of thousands of people converged on the new capital Juba to hear the declaration of independence and take part in various events. (Photo by Kim Poznak, Catholic Relief Services)|
In a May meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, the Vatican addressed some of the issues for confronting developing countries. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi addressed the Fourth Conference of the United Nations on Least Developed Countries (LDCs). His remarks follow:
". . . 1. The LDCs' development paradigm implemented over the past years has proven ineffective. Since the early 2000s the continued growth (7% per year from 2002 to 2007) in many LDCs has not translated into an improved situation for the people. The number of very poor people has actually increased (more than 3 million per year from 2002 to 2007). In 2007, 59% of the population in African LDCs was living on less than USD 1.25 per day.
"2. Currently the growth in many of these countries comes primarily from the exploitation and export of natural resources, especially mineral reserves, while growth across other sectors is not robust or consistent. Unfortunately the growth that is realized in the extractives sector is the subject of many controversies on revenue distribution and local community impact, and only creates a significant number of jobs in the exploratory and build up phase of the project but very few that are long term. This correlates with ILO research that shows the labor force in LDC countries increasing by 2.5% per year but the opportunities for employment are not commensurate with either the robust growth or the demand for employment. The impact of these limited employment opportunities is experienced particularly by the young and those who are entering the work force for the first time. The success stories are found in countries that have created some productive capacities such as horticulture, in the cases of Uganda and Ethiopia. Ghana and Kenya that are not LDCs have also shown good performance in this area.
"3. The analysis of this current reality in the LDC group has led UNCTAD, in its Least Developed Countries Report 2010, to propose a new international development architecture that calls for a more comprehensive approach to the challenges of development. It should be noted that at the session of the UNCTAD's Trade Development Board (TDB) dedicated to LDCs, the majority of the groups were in favor of the proposed new international architecture for development. Several groups also insisted on the need to include specific considerations for post conflict management situations, the reconstruction of infrastructures, and agricultural production, while others have insisted that regional approaches to these issues be considered.
"The Holy See supports this new approach and will focus its intervention on three themes.
"4. The first theme looks at the Pillars of "integral human development."
"In the encyclical letter 'Caritas in Veritate' that was released on July 7, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI reviews the foundational teaching on development that was presented in the encyclical letter of Pope Paul VI, 'On the Progress of Peoples (Populorum Progressio)' in 1967: 'development cannot be limited to mere economic growth. In order to be authentic, it must be complete: integral, that is, it has to promote the good of every man and of the whole man.' It is important that we recall this foundational teaching on the nature of development and recover its central truth as we reflect on the specific challenges that the LDCs present at this ministerial conference.
"Since 1967 numerous theories and approaches to development have been proposed and tested and this has resulted in a much deeper understanding of the complex and evolving challenges that any consideration of this topic presents. It remains however true that there are still millions who have little or no access to the goods and benefits that development offers. An honest evaluation of the progress that has been made is reflected in the words of the Holy Father who writes that '. . . progress, remains an open question, made all the more acute and urgent by the current economic and financial crisis. If some areas of the globe, with a history of poverty, have experienced remarkable changes in terms of their economic growth and their share in world production, other zones are still living in a situation of deprivation comparable to that which existed at the time of Paul VI, and in some cases one can even speak of a deterioration.'
"Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offense, and it is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people's sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes." (1 Cor 13:4-7)
"In numerous other evaluations, including the aforementioned UNCTAD report, we have been reminded that a comprehensive and inclusive framework for international development is essential if any enduring results are to be achieved. In the Catholic Social Teaching tradition the pillars for such framework have been identified as follows: respect for human dignity; protection of human rights; care of creation; participation in community, subsidiarity, and solidarity. Other pillars that are judged to be constitutive of an integral development plan are education; natural resource exploitation; agriculture; manufacturing; trade; financial services; infrastructure, and technology.
"As we continue to reflect on the specific challenges which development presents in LDCs it remains imperative that these pillars serve as a guide in our efforts to promote and sustain an approach to development that is integral and authentically human.
"5. The second theme deals with the kind of growth necessary for 'integral human development.'
"Any approach to the challenge of development must recognize that 'the development of individuals and peoples depends partly on the resolution of problems of a spiritual nature. Development must include not just material growth but also spiritual growth.' Too often the use of quantifiable metrics and economic criteria to measure such realities as gross domestic product or the narrow horizon of stock market growth fails to capture the full measure of what it means to be human, fails to appreciate the transcendent dimension of the person, and therefore what it takes to promote the development of the whole person.
"Growth, therefore, that promotes 'integral human development' is one that is inclusive of the pillars already mentioned above and evaluated by how well it promotes sustainable development and communities, creates decent jobs, alleviates people's poverty, and protects the environment. A model of growth that includes these objectives will build a domestic economic and commercial cycle that is sustainable, respects the environment, and promotes development. Among the necessary elements in this growth model, especially in LDCs, are a vibrant agriculture sector and job creation across a number of sectors that will engage the large number of people who are entering the employment sector.
"In LDCs for example, the agricultural value added for workers rose three times more slowly than the GDP per capita over the last 20 years. At the same time, LDCs' dependence on imported food commodities has greatly increased (multiplied by 3 between 2000 and 2008). As a result it is among the 2.5 billion people dependent on agriculture for their daily sustenance that one finds most of the people who suffer from malnutrition and hunger.
"Any growth model that is adopted, therefore, must recognize and strengthen the central role of agriculture in economic activity; thereby reducing malnutrition in rural areas and increasing production per person in order to enhance local, regional, or national food independence.
"Investments to improve productivity are required in the areas of seeds, training, sharing of tools for cultivation and of the means for marketing. Structural changes are also demanded according to the specificity of individual states. For example, we must ensure security of land tenure for farmers, especially for those with small landholdings. The customary right of land ownership may be reconsidered. A clear property right gives the farmer the opportunity to pledge his land in exchange for seasonal credit to purchase necessary inputs. In addition, the aim of land tenure has now become increasingly important in the face of the expansion of the phenomenon of land grabbing. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 80% of the land is occupied by poor who have no land title.
"Across all sectors of society from agriculture to manufacturing to delivery of services we must remember that decent work 'expresses the essential dignity of every man and woman in the context of their particular society: work that is freely chosen, effectively associating workers, both men and women, with the development of their community.' Work is not a commodity. Decent work gives everyone the opportunity to use his own talents and to be creative; it is a motor of sustainable growth at the service of the common good and so it must be a central objective of the new architecture. The final goal, then, is the creation of a 'work that makes it possible for families to meet their needs and provide schooling for their children, without the children themselves being forced into labor; work that permits the workers to organize themselves freely, and to make their voices heard; work that leaves enough room for rediscovering one's roots at a personal, familial and spiritual level; work that guarantees those who have retired a decent standard of living.'
"6. The third theme to be kept in mind is the role of the State in promoting 'integral human development.'
"The number of institutions, agents, and actors in the development space has increased exponentially over the years. The official development commitments of governments alongside those of voluntary organizations have been substantial during that time. They have now been joined and in some instances are dwarfed by the presence of such actors as corporations, private foundations, and private investors. There is, we believe, a need and room for all of these actors for they can bring different perspectives, modes of operating, and can thereby make unique contributions to the development that is needed in LDCs.
"Unless souls are saved, nothing is saved; there can be no world peace unless there is soul peace. World wars are only projections of the conflicts waged inside the souls of modern men, for nothing happens in the external world that has not first happened within a soul."
- Bishop Fulton Sheen
"In this environment, however, the role of the state and of regional, international, and global authorities is critical and must be supported and respected. Combined with the Catholic perspective on the responsibility of the state to guarantee the public order and promote the common good, these bodies must play a pivotal role in orchestrating and directing LDC development. This can be especially challenging in a post-conflict context and especially so in a 'failed state' situation.
"The teaching of our tradition, when it comes to the responsibility of governments to enact the legal framework and rules so that financial and commercial activities fulfill their social purpose and function smoothly, has consistently asserted a positive role for a limited government, that is neither libertarian or collectivist. It became clear during the 2008 financial crisis that the market does not naturally contain in itself the ingredients for an automatic correction of errors and would have led to a collapse of the financial and economic system if the states had not acted. The rescue of the banks, necessary as it has been, did not prevent the painful impact of the crisis on the population since ultimately the correction of the market's vagaries is carried out to the detriment of populations, states have a duty to intervene pre-emptively to avoid such suffering. 'The articulation of political authority at the local, national, and international levels is one of the best ways of giving direction to the process of economic globalization. It is also the way to ensure that it does not actually undermine the foundations of democracy.'
"While recognizing the benefits of free trade to promote development and therefore the urgency to close the gap in the Doha Development Round, the implementation of the commitments to introduce duty free, quota free access to the market for the LDCs should be accompanied by adequate measures to protect farmers against price volatility which has a strong impact on food security for several reasons: high prices make food unaffordable for the poor and temporarily low prices give farmers the incorrect information on needed seedlings after harvest for the following year. To prevent price volatility or at least weaken its impact, local food crops need to be protected against sudden disruptions in international prices. For example, the establishment of regional stockpiles of raw food (cereals, oil, sugar) can have a twofold benefit: these stocks can be sold at an affordable price in case of shock and they can play a moderating role against the volatility of local prices.
"The 'developmental state' plays a unique and key role in the development of a country and with other regional and international authorities is expected to coordinate appropriate and constructive plans. In addition to the tasks already mentioned above, the responsibility of mobilizing the domestic resources that are regarded as a critical component of stable financing for government priorities and development needs has been identified as essential. This is a tedious and complicated undertaking, especially where no basic framework or infrastructure exists to advance such an objective. Alongside the other resources like FDI (Foreign Direct Investment), ODA (Official Development Assistance), and remittances from local citizens working abroad, these domestic resources will play an essential role in any development plan.
"Corporations: The presence of private corporations in communities, societies and countries continues to grow and they have a far reaching impact wherever they are located. Their influence on development, depending on their size and footprint, in local communities and across broad sections of society can be significant and should be monitored and evaluated by the state. They should also be expected to fulfill their obligations as good corporate citizens by keeping in mind according to the Holy Father that, 'business management cannot concern itself only with the interests of the proprietors, but must also assume responsibility for all the other stakeholders who contribute to the life of the business: the workers, the clients, the suppliers of various elements of production, the community of reference.'
"Private Finance and Development: The presence of private finance institutions and actors, such as private equity and hedge funds, in countries and regions across the world continues to increase. Facilitated by the continued expansion and integration of all aspects of the global financial system, their presence presents a unique set of challenges in LDCs. It is important that LDCs be in a position to benefit from their presence and assure that their activities are making a contribution to lasting development.
"Once again Pope Benedict reminds all actors in this space and this applies especially to those investors in LDCs that, 'What should be avoided is a speculative use of financial resources that yields to the temptation of seeking only short-term profit, without regard for the long-term sustainability of the enterprise, its benefit to the real economy and attention to the advancement, in suitable and appropriate ways, of further economic initiatives in countries in need of development. It is true that the export of investments and skills can benefit the populations of the receiving country. Labor and technical knowledge are a universal good. Yet it is not right to export these things merely for the sake of obtaining advantageous conditions, or worse, for purposes of exploitation, without making a real contribution to local society by helping to bring about a robust productive and social system, an essential factor for stable development.'
"In conclusion, Mr. President, LDCs continue to face enormous challenges as they search for the resources and the path to development for their citizens. There remains no easy formula for success but the promise of solidarity can be a foundation for the renewal of commitment by those who have wrestled with this challenge for decades and a guidepost for the new actors in this space. There are numerous different and essential roles and responsibilities for the successful implementation of the development process in the LDCs. Thus, the Holy See anticipates a new Program of Action for the LDCs for the coming decade. Now is the time to translate into concrete action the commitments that have been made in these days. The future well being of the LDCs depends to a great extent upon the spirit of gratuitousness that motivates our common efforts. Working together in a coordinated and cooperative fashion the institutions and actors from all sectors can and must support the efforts of all LDCs to achieve their goals as members of the one human family."
Delegations from around the globe helped usher in the world's newest nation, the Republic of South Sudan, at the John Garang Memorial in Juba, South Sudan, on Saturday, July 9, 2011.
Credit: Sara A. Fajardo/Catholic Relief Services
The Republic of South Sudan became independent from the rest of Sudan on July 9, 2011.
Bishop John Ricard, SSJ, bishop emeritus of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida, represented the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) at the ceremonies.
For decades the USCCB has worked to support the Church and people of Sudan who suffered great hardship during their long civil war and suffer even now from continuing conflicts, especially in Darfur and the border regions between north and south.
Coming just five days after the United States celebrated gaining its own independence 235 years ago, Bishop Ricard, who has visited Sudan many times, will present to the bishops of Sudan replicas of three historic documents that enshrine the principles and ideals of U.S. independence: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights. They are being offered as symbols of human solidarity and hope.
Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, New York, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, who visited north and south Sudan last summer, commented on Bishop Ricard's historic trip.
"It is our sincere hope and prayer that the people of the Republic of South Sudan will enjoy freedom and prosperity. We ask God to guide them as they strive to build a new nation on a foundation of respect for human rights and religious freedom," Bishop Hubbard said. "We are mindful of the tremendous sacrifices and loss of life that led to independence and of the continuing suffering in the region. As South Sudan becomes independent, we implore the nations and peoples of the region to work together to resolve their differences so that everyone can enjoy lasting peace and human rights. We pledge the continued solidarity of our Conference of Bishops with the Church in South Sudan, Sudan, and the region."
Fred H. Summe is Vice President of Northern Kentucky Right to Life, P.O. Box 1202, Covington, Kentucky 41012
"Have you ever considered how really insulting it is to say to someone, 'I think your mother should have been able to abort you'? It's like saying, 'If I had my way, you'd be dead right now.' And that is the reality with which I live every time someone says they are pro-choice or pro-life 'except in cases of rape' because I absolutely would have been aborted if it had been legal in Michigan when I was an unborn child, and I can tell you that it hurts.
"But I know that most people don't put a face to this issue – for them abortion is just a concept – with a quick cliché, they sweep it under the rug and forget about it. I do hope that, as a child conceived in rape, I can help to put a face, a voice, and a story to this issue," relates Rebecca Kiessling, a family law attorney.
"I was adopted nearly from birth. At 18, I learned that I was conceived out of a brutal rape at knifepoint by a serial rapist. Like most people, I'd never considered that abortion applied to my life, but once I received this information, all of a sudden I realized that, not only does it apply to my life, but also it has to do with my very existence.
"It was as if I could hear the echoes of all those people who, with the most sympathetic of tones, would say, 'Well, except in cases of rape…,' or who would rather fervently exclaim in disgust: 'Especially in cases of rape!!!' All these people are out there who don't even know me, but are standing in judgment of my life, so quick to dismiss it just because of how I was conceived.
"I felt like I was now going to have to justify my own existence, that I would have to prove myself to the world that I shouldn't have been aborted and that I was worthy of living. I also remember feeling like garbage because of people who would say that my life was like garbage – that I was disposable."
Northern Kentucky Right to Life is indeed proud to invite Rebecca Kiessling to address the 38th Annual Celebration of Life scheduled for Sunday, September 11, 2011, at the Drawbridge Hotel, Fort Mitchell, Kentucky (I-75, Exit 186).
The doors will open at 1:15 p.m., followed by the showing of a pro-life film at 1:30 p.m. Refreshments and exhibits will be available at 2:00 p.m. with the program commencing at 2:30 p.m. (Free babysitting is provided.)
Tickets ($10.00) and additional information can be obtained from Stan Barczak, Northern Kentucky Right to Life, P.O. Box 1202, Covington 41012. (859-431-6380). (Tickets can be obtained in advance or at the door.)
Rebecca, wife and home school mother of five, the oldest of whom is 10, and two of which were adopted, was honored by Feminists for Life as one of their internationally named "remarkable pro-life women." As a pro-life speaker and adoption speaker, Rebecca has appeared on the 700 Club, Good Morning America, CNN, CBS, EWTN Life on the Rock, and Facing Life Head-On.
In 1976, she authored for Heritage House the pamphlet Conceived in Rape: A Story of Hope, and since has written on this issue, including her essay, "The Right of the Unborn Child Not to be Unjustly Killed." She currently serves on the advisory board for Michigan Nurses for Life and for Crossroads Pregnancy Center.
"Please understand that whenever you identify yourself as being 'pro-choice,' or whenever you make that exception for rape, what that really translates into is you being able to stand before me, look me in the eye, and say to me, 'I think your mother should have been able to abort you.' That's a pretty powerful statement. I would never say to someone, 'If I had my way, you'd be dead right now,'" states Rebecca.
"But that is the reality with which I live – this is the ruthless reality of that position, and I can tell you that it hurts and it's mean.
"I've often experienced those who would confront me and try to dismiss me with quick quips like, 'Oh well, you were lucky!' Be sure that my survival has nothing to do with luck. The fact that I'm alive today has to do with choices that were made by our society at large, people who fought to ensure abortion was illegal in Michigan at the time – even in cases of rape, people who argued to protect my life, and people who voted pro-life.
"I wasn't lucky. I was protected. And would you really rationalize that our brothers and sisters who are being aborted every day are just somehow 'unlucky.'
"But I know that God intends for every unborn child to be given the same opportunity to be born, and I can't sit contentedly saying, 'Well, at least my life was spared.' Or, 'I deserved it. Look what I've done with my life.' And millions of others didn't?
"One of the greatest things I've learned is that the rapist is NOT my creator, as some people would have me believe. My value and identity are not established as a 'product of rape,' but as a child of God.
"I'll be able to teach my children, and I teach others that your value is not based on the circumstances of your conception, your parents, your siblings, your mate, your house, your clothes, your looks, your IQ, your grades, your scores, your money, your occupation, your successes or failures, or your abilities or disabilities – these are the lies that are perpetuated in our society.
"In fact, most motivational speakers tell their audiences that if they could just make something of themselves and meet this certain societal standard, then they too could 'be somebody.' But the fact is that no one could ever meet all of these ridiculous standards, and many people will fall incredibly short and so, does that mean that they are not 'somebody' or that they are 'nobody'?
"The truth is that you don't have to prove your worth to anyone, and if you really want to know what your value is, all you have to do is look to the Cross – because that's the price that was paid for your life! That's the infinite value that God placed on your life! He thinks you are pretty valuable, and so do I. Won't you join me in affirming others' value as well, in word and in action?"
The woman who has conceived a child by the violent act of rape or by incest needs understanding, encouragement, and support by family, friends, and the entire community. An abortion cannot and will not remove the suffering from such trauma nor cause the woman to forget such acts.
"Rape and incest victims actually suffer considerably from the abortion. What are some of the symptoms of rape? The woman feels dirty, guilty, sexually violated, down on herself, angry, and fearful or hateful toward men; she may experience sexual dysfunction, or feel she has lost control of her life.
"Now let's look at the symptoms of abortion. The woman feels dirty, guilty, sexually violated, down on herself, angry, and fearful or hateful toward men; she may experience sexual dysfunction or a loss of control of her life – all the same symptoms.
"So instead of curing the problem, we are intensifying the same symptoms by offering abortion. Abortion, then, is a 'cure' that only aggravates the problem." David C. Reardon, Director of Eliot Institute for Social Sciences Research
"I soon discovered that the aftermath of my abortion continued a long time after the memory of my rape had faded. I felt empty and horrible," states Jackie Bakker, a victim of rape.
Considering the priority of the abortion issue and the euthanasia issue, please make the personal commitment to hear this pro-life advocate and encourage your family and friends to join you. Take this opportunity to also come and meet the more than 20 exhibitors, who can show you how you can also participate in the pro-life movement, giving witness in a variety of ways, to the sanctity of all human life.
Two Catholic leaders stressed the need to consider the world's poor in a July 5 letter to Representative Kay Granger, chairwoman, and Nita Lowey, ranking member of the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs. The committee is working on the Foreign Appropriations bill for FY 2012. Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Ken Hackett, president of Catholic Relief Services, wrote the letter which follows:
"As you prepare to mark up the FY 2012 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) wish to share with you our funding priorities for poverty-focused humanitarian and development assistance. In supporting these life-saving services, we seek to promote integral human development, reduce poverty, and improve stability in the world's poorest countries and communities in morally appropriate ways. Doing so contributes to our long-term security, since poverty and hopelessness can provide a fertile ground for the growth of terrorism.
"We acknowledge the difficult challenges that Congress faces to get the nation's financial house in order: fulfilling the demands of justice and obligations to future generations; controlling future debt and deficits; and protecting the life and dignity of those who are poor and vulnerable.
"However, the United States has a moral imperative to maintain its commitment to assist the poorest people in the poorest places on earth as they face the global impacts of the economic downturn, climate change, and food crisis.
"Based on our overseas experience and relationships, the USCCB and CRS have identified critical poverty-focused development and humanitarian accounts that warrant robust funding (please see the attached table). We have also attached testimony submitted to the subcommittee earlier this year that provides more details on the priority programs we support. The enacted FY 2011 Foreign Affairs budget cut these life-saving programs by an average of 8.4% from FY 2010; further cuts would be disproportionate and life-threatening to the world's poorest people.
"At stake are a wide range of life-saving and dignity-preserving activities including the following: agricultural assistance to poor farmers; medicines for people living with HIV/AIDS and vaccines for preventable diseases; assistance to orphans and vulnerable children; humanitarian assistance in cases of famine; emergency health care, shelter, and reconstruction in disaster-devastated places like Haiti; peacekeepers to protect innocent civilians in troubled nations such as Sudan and the Congo; and life-sustaining support to migrants and refugees fleeing conflict or persecution in nations like Iraq.
"We welcome appropriate efforts to reduce our nation's deficit and debt, but we urge the Subcommittee to work with other members of Congress to be fiscally responsible in morally appropriate ways. First, insist on balanced contributions across the entire federal budget, including defense, revenue, agricultural subsidies, and fair and just entitlement reform. Second, give priority to those who are poor and vulnerable at home and abroad. Preserve life-saving services to the poor; if necessary, target other foreign affairs accounts not listed on the attached table.
"The Subcommittee must cut with great care, eliminating only those expenses unrelated to basic human needs and development—for example, in middle or high income countries that are better able to cope with the consequences. Even within accounts not on the attached list, however, we urge that the needs of the poor be given priority. For example, in the Economic Support Fund, assistance for Sudan and Haiti and other poverty-focused programs must be retained. Of course, as with all accounts, we should subject poverty-focused services to careful scrutiny so as to eliminate waste and duplication.
"As you consider appropriations language, we strongly support restoring the Mexico City Policy against funding groups that perform or promote abortion, and denying funding to the U.N. Population Fund which supports a program of coerced abortion and involuntary sterilization in China. It is also important to preserve the Helms Amendment, prohibiting U.S. funding for abortion, and the Kemp-Kasten provision, prohibiting support of organizations involved in programs of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.
"The USCCB, CRS, and many others in the faith community committed to a Circle of Protection (www.circleofprotection.us) stand ready to work with leaders of both parties for a budget that reduces future deficits, protects poor and vulnerable people at home and abroad, advances the common good, and promotes human life and dignity.
O Almighty Eternal God, look upon the face of Your Son, and for love of Him Who is the Eternal High Priest have pity on Your priests. Remember, O most compassionate God, that they are but weak and frail human beings. Stir up in them the grace of their vocation which is in them by the imposition of the Bishop's hands. Keep them close to You, lest the enemy prevail against them, so that they may never do anything in the slightest degree unworthy of their sublime vocation.
O Jesus, I pray for Your faithful and fervent priests; for Your unfaithful and tepid priests; for Your priests laboring at home or abroad in distant mission fields; for Your tempted priests; for the lonely and desolate priests; for Your young priests; for Your dying priests; for the souls of Your priests in Purgatory.
But above all, I commend to You the priest dearest to me; the priest who baptized me; the priests who absolved me from my sins; the priests at whose Masses I assisted and who gave me Your Body and Blood in Holy Communion; the priests who taught and instructed me or helped and encouraged me; all the priests to whom I am indebted in any other way. O Jesus, keep them all close to Your heart, and bless them abundantly in time and in eternity. Amen.
Archbishop Francis Assisi Chullikatt, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, presented a statement to a June meeting of the UN on HIV/AIDs in New York. His statement follows:
"On the adoption of the declaration, the Holy See offers the following statement of interpretation. I would ask that the text of this statement, which explains the official position of the Holy See, kindly be included in the report of this high-level plenary of the General Assembly.
"In providing more than one fourth of all care for those who are suffering from HIV and AIDS, Catholic healthcare institutions know well the importance of access to treatment, care, and support for the millions of people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS.
"The position of the Holy See on the expressions 'sexual and reproductive health' and 'services,' 'reproductive rights' and on the Secretary-General's Global Strategy on Women and Children's Health is to be interpreted in terms of its reservations in the Report of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) of 1994. The position of the Holy See on the word 'gender' and its various uses is to be interpreted in terms of its reservations in the Report of the Fourth World Conference on Women.
"The Holy See understands that, when referring to 'young people,' the definition of which enjoying no international consensus, States must always respect the responsibilities, rights, and duties of parents to provide appropriate direction and guidance to their children, which includes having primary responsibility for the upbringing, development, and education of their children (cf. Convention on the Rights of the Child, Articles 5, 18, and 27,2). States must acknowledge that the family, based on marriage being the equal partnership between one man and one woman and the natural and fundamental group unit of society, is indispensable in the fight against HIV and AIDS for the airily is where children learn moral values to help them live in a responsible manner and where the greater part of care and support is provided (cf. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 16,3).
"The Holy See rejects references to terms such as 'populations at risk' and 'populations at higher risk' because they treat persons as objects and can give the false impression that certain types of irresponsible behavior are somehow morally acceptable. The Holy See does not endorse the use of condoms/commodities as part of HIV and AIDS prevention programs or classes/programs of education in sex/sexuality.
"Prevention programs or classes/programs of education in human sexuality should focus not on trying to convince the world that risky and dangerous behavior forms part of an acceptable lifestyle, but rather should focus on risk avoidance, which is ethically and empirically sound. The only safe and completely reliable method of preventing the sexual transmission of HIV is abstinence before marriage and respect and mutual fidelity within marriage, which is and must always be the foundation of any discussion of prevention and support.
"The Holy See does not accept so-called 'harm reduction' efforts related to drug use. Such efforts do not respect the dignity of those who are suffering from drug addiction as they do not treat or cure the sick person, but instead falsely suggest that they cannot break free from the cycle of addiction. Such persons must be provided the necessary spiritual, psychological, and familial support to break free from the addictive behavior in order to restore their dignity and encourage social inclusion.
"During negotiations, the Holy See rejected the characterization of persons who engage in prostitution as 'sex workers' as this can give the false impression that prostitution could somehow be a legitimate form of work. Prostitution cannot be separated from the issue of the status and dignity of persons; governments and society must not accept such a dehumanization and objectification of persons.
"What is needed is a value-based approach to counter the disease of HIV and AIDS, an approach which provides the necessary care and moral support for those infected and which promotes living in conformity with the norms of the natural moral order, an approach which respects fully the inherent dignity of the human person . . ."
vatican city — Pope Benedict XVI met with members of the "Assembly of Organizations For Aid To The Eastern Churches" (ROACO) on June 24. The Holy Father addressed several issues of concern regarding the Middle East and Africa. He said:
". . . The charity of the Church wishes to reach out in a particular way to the Holy Land but also to the whole of the Middle East, to sustain the Christian presence there. I ask you to do your utmost — including involving the public authorities with whom you are in touch at an international level — to enable the pastors and faithful of Christ, in the East where they were born, to be able to live there not as 'strangers and sojourners' but as 'fellow citizens' (Eph 2:19) who bear witness to Jesus Christ as did the saints of the past, also children of the Eastern Churches, before them.
"The East is rightly their homeland on earth. It is there that still today they are called to foster the common good, through their faith, making no distinctions. Every person who professes this faith must be recognized as having equal dignity and true freedom, thereby permitting a more fruitful ecumenical and interreligious collaboration.
"I thank you for your reflections on the changes that are taking place in the countries of North Africa and the Middle East, which are a source of anxiety throughout the world. Through the communications received at this time from the Coptic-Catholic Cardinal-Patriarch and from the Maronite Patriarch, as well as the Pontifical Representative in Jerusalem and the Franciscan Custos of the Holy Land, the Congregation and the agencies will be able to assess the situation on the ground for the Church and the peoples of that region, which is so important for world peace and stability.
"The Pope wishes to express his closeness, also through you, to those who are suffering and to those who are trying desperately to escape, thereby increasing the flow of migration that often remains without hope. I pray that the necessary emergency assistance will be forthcoming, but above all I pray that every possible form of mediation will be explored, so that violence may cease and social harmony and peaceful coexistence may everywhere be restored, with respect for the rights of individuals as well as communities. Fervent prayer and reflection will help us at the same time to read the signs emerging from the present season of toil and tears: may the Lord of history always turn them to the common good.
"The Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, celebrated last October in the Vatican and in which several of you took part, brought the brothers and sisters of the East even more decisively into the heart of the Church and introduced us to perceiving the signs of newness in our time. However, immediately after that meeting, senseless violence ferociously attacked defenseless people (cf. Angelus, November 1, 2010) in the Syrian-Catholic Cathedral of Baghdad, and in subsequent months in various other places. The suffering experienced because of Christ can help to sow the good seed of the Synod and produce an evermore fruitful harvest, God willing. I therefore present to the good will of ROACO members all that resulted from the Synod and, also, the precious spiritual heritage constituted by the cup of the passion of many Christians, as a reference for an intelligent and generous service which begins with the lowliest, which excludes no one and always measures its authenticity against the Eucharistic Mystery . . ."
vatican city — Caritas members in South Sudan aim to provide 100,000 people with water, food, shelter, health, and education.
South Sudan became an independent state July 9, 2011, after decades of conflict, poor governance, and natural disasters. People in the emerging nation face an acute shortage of basic needs as the country lacks infrastructure and faces high levels of poverty and underdevelopment.
Currently, a third of children are underweight, over a third fail to live to their fifth birthday, half the population live in extreme poverty, and literacy rates are as low as 36 percent. A young girl in South Sudan has more chance of dying in childbirth than finishing her primary education.
Caritas members will work together in partnership with the local Catholic Church under a joint program of $7.6 million (5.7 million Euros) running up till July 2012. The work will focus on repair and rehabilitation of water, sanitation, health, and education facilities and the provision of shelter, food, and other aid assistance.
Caritas provides safe water for southern Sudan
Credit: Sara A. Fajardo/CRS
Caritas will work with those returning to their homes, the internally displaced, and other vulnerable people. All the work will have strong community ownership with projects being handed over to the local population to maintain and run in the future.
Sudan Country Representative for Catholic Relief Services, Darren Hercyk, is part of the Caritas coordination effort. He said, "The people of South Sudan have an historic opportunity to put years of conflict behind them. Caritas has worked side by side with them for decades and we share in their hopes and joy for the new nation's future."
Caritas will remain committed to supporting the Church in South Sudan. We will join with them in building a country where access to the basics like clean water, health care, an education, and safe birth delivery is guaranteed."
Caritas will also further support the development of an early warning system through the Sudan Catholic Radio Network (SCRN) to reduce the impact of future disasters.
Humanitarian assistance to South Sudan will be required beyond the timeframe of the program. The Caritas program will also increase capacity in national and local partners so they carry the work forward with minimal support from the Caritas confederation.
This will involve training of staff in national and diocesan Caritas Sudan offices (Caritas Sudan was formally known as Sudan Aid) on program delivery and reducing future disasters. International Caritas members operating in South Sudan will continue with the process of twinning with local diocesan offices.
Caritas is also supporting the peacebuilding initiatives of the Sudanese bishops, such as an international prayer campaign and a tree planting initiative in every diocese in South Sudan.
(Source: Caritas press release)
"Hope will not leave us disappointed, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us. At the appointed time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for us godless men. It is rare that anyone should lay down his life for a just man, though it is barely possible that for a good man someone may have the courage to die. It is precisely in this that God proves His love for us: that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Now that we have been justified by His blood, it is all the more certain that we shall be saved by Him from God's wrath. For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to Him by the death of His Son, it is all the more certain that we who have been reconciled will be saved by His life. Not only that; we go so far as to make God our boast through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom we have now received reconciliation" (Rom 5:5-11).
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.
Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378, www.presentationministries.com