"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
Pope Stresses "Peace is Always Possible
Youth Send Message of Hope
Pope Remembers Polish Heroes
In Defense of Life: A Kentucky Tragedy
Just a Few Thoughts
Vatican Announces Themes For Peace, Communications Days
Light of the Nations: A Christian Perspective on World News
Pray the News
In a message, dated September 3, to the 18th International Meeting of "Peoples and Religions," sponsored by the Community of Saint Egidio, Pope John Paul II encouraged peacemakers and stressed that "peace is always possible!" The meeting was held September 5-7 in Milan, Italy. The theme of the meeting was "Religions and cultures: courage for a new humanism." The Pope directed his message through Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. A major portion of the Pope's message follows:
". . .In 1993, the religious leaders who met for the first time in Milan for the seventh 'Peoples and Religions' Meeting, launched an appeal to the world: 'May no hatred, no conflict, no war ever find an incentive in religion. War cannot be motivated by religion. May the words of religions always be words of peace! May the path of faith open them to dialogue and understanding! May they guide hearts to bring peace to the earth!' In the years since then a great many people have accepted this appeal and placed themselves at the service of peace and dialogue in a wide variety of countries. The spirit of dialogue and understanding has often guided the reconciliation process. Unfortunately, new wars have broken out; indeed, a mentality has spread that considers conflict between religious and civil worlds a virtually inevitable bequest of history.
"It is not so! Peace is always possible! It is always necessary to cooperate in order to uproot from culture and life the seeds of resentment and misunderstanding, as well as the desire to dominate, the arrogance of one's own interests and contempt for the identity of others. Indeed, such sentiments are the premise of a future of violence and war. Conflict is never inevitable! And religions have the special task of reminding all men and women to be aware of this fact, which is both a gift of God and the experience of many centuries of history. It is what I have called the 'spirit of Assisi.' Our world needs this spirit. It needs the vivifying convictions and behavior that this spirit gives to consolidate peace, strengthen the international institutions, and foster reconciliation. The 'spirit of Assisi' encourages religions to make their contribution to the new humanism that the contemporary world so badly needs.
Do not give in to the logic of violence, hatred, and revenge
"In particular, 'the intrinsic link between an authentic religious attitude and the great good of peace' (Assisi 1986, Concluding Address, n. 6; L'Osservatore Romano English edition [ORE], November 3, 1986, p. 3) fuels and nourishes the process that began in Assisi in 1986 and is continuing with the committed participation of so many religious leaders. In Assisi, first in 1986 and then in 2002, I wanted to emphasize this precious connection that I consider fundamental to the journey begun at that time. Indeed, as I wrote in my Message to the Meeting in Louvain-Brussels, 'praying side by side, although not glossing over differences, shows the strong bond which makes all of us humble searchers for peace,' which only God can give to mankind (September 10, 1992; ORE, September 23, 1992, p. 2).
"The world needs peace. Every day in the news there are reports of violence, terrorist attacks, military operations. Could it be that the world is giving up all hope of achieving peace? At times one gets the impression there is a gradual inurement to the use of violence and the spilling of innocent blood. Before these disturbing facts, I bend thoughtfully over the Scriptures; in them I find Jesus' comforting words: 'Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid' (Jn 14:27). These words kindle hope in us Christians who believe in Him, 'for He is our peace' (Eph 2: 14). I would like, however, to address everyone in order to ask you not to give in to the logic of violence, hatred, and revenge, but rather to persevere in dialogue. We must break the deadly chain that holds captive too many parts of our planet, staining them with blood. Believers of all religions can do much to achieve this goal. The image of peace that the Meeting in Milan projects encourages many to take the path of peace.
Find the courage to globalize solidarity and peace
"In a few days' time we will be commemorating that terrible September 11, 2001, that sowed death in the heart of the United States. Three years have now passed, and unfortunately, since that day, the destructive threats of terrorism seem to have increased. There is no doubt that firmness and determination are required to fight the operators of death. Yet at the same time, no stone must be left unturned if we are to uproot everything that might encourage the affirmation of this tide of terror: in particular, misery, desperation, and the emptiness of heart. We must not let ourselves be overcome by fear that leads to withdrawal into self and to strengthening the selfishness of individuals and groups. Courage is needed to globalize solidarity and peace. I am thinking in particular of Africa, 'the Continent that seems to incarnate the existing imbalance between the North and the South of the planet' (Message for the 16th International Meeting of Peoples and Religions, Palermo, Sicily, Italy, August 29, 2002, n. 3; ORE, September 11, 2002, p. 7), and my concern focuses on the beloved people of Iraq, for whom every day I invoke God for that peace which men and women are incapable of giving one another.
"The Milan Meeting shows the need to set out with determination on the true path of peace that never passes through violence and always through dialogue. Everyone knows, and particularly those who come from the countries that hostilities are bathing in blood, that violence always spawns violence. War throws open the doors to the abyss of evil. War even gives access to the most illogical possibilities. War, therefore, must always be considered a defeat: a defeat of reason and of humanity. Thus, may there soon be a spiritual and cultural impulse that will induce people to ban war. Yes, war never again! I was convinced of it in October 1986 at Assisi, when I asked the members of all the religions to join forces to pray to God for peace. I am even more convinced of it today: whereas my physical strength is waning, I feel the power of prayer growing more and more vigorous. . ."
European youth, on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, pledged to be "witnesses of Christ for a Europe of hope." Their message, dated August 7, had specific challenges for other young Christians, other youths, and adults. Their message, which was carried in L'Osservatore Romano weekly edition in English, follows:
"We have come as pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela from various countries of Europe. Together, we have reflected on being witnesses of Christ for a Europe of hope.
"We have done so in a place that is at the root of the European identity: peoples have met at James the Apostle's tomb and have learned to know one another and live side-by-side.
"In the aftermath of the Second World War, in 1948, thousands of young people from all over Europe met here, united by the same faith, to dream together of a future of peace.
"Many of their dreams have come true; others have yet to be fulfilled.
"We accept this inheritance in order to give a Christian soul to the process of European integration.
"This is why we are convinced that young people should be given credit and permitted to be the protagonists of the Continent's development, and that room should be made for them to assume responsibilities in political, social, financial, and ecclesial life.
"We want a welcoming, supportive, respectful, understanding Europe, one that is capable of integration; a Europe that works for peace and freedom and is aware of its own past.
"We are thinking of a Europe founded on the values of generosity and self-giving, of interiority and the sincere search for the truth.
"We believe in the centrality of personal dignity, we seek respect for the right to life, we believe that the development of every individual must take place in a real family.
"We maintain that these values should be protected from the threat of individualism, consumerism, ethical relativism, and superficiality.
Steps to be taken
"The Europe of the future faces many challenges. As young Christians we feel that some of these call us into question in a particular way.
Mobility and intercultural dialogue
"We live in an ever smaller world, in which we move rapidly and exchange culture and training in new and original forms of communication. Many young people travel for study or work; others for tourism; yet others go in search of a 'promised land.'
"We do not want this to be an occasion for confusion or conflict, but to provide an opportunity for self-appraisal by comparing ourselves with others.
"We believe it is necessary to build a 'European' culture, to be able to collaborate with the nations on the Continent and initiate dialogue with the cultures of the East and of the South of the world.
"We undertake to welcome every person and to make the most of the opportunities available to us for contact with others, as well as to create new networks of relations to help overcome cultural barriers, developing reciprocal understanding through the media of art, music, sport, religion.
Education, formation, occupation
"Well-tested and positive experiences of student exchanges exist that give a glimpse of a future Continent-wide educational system. We also recognize the tendency to greater mobility of young workers across Europe.
"We would like a common market of free ideas and access within a scholastic educational system that can develop the whole person, in the human, cultural, social, and spiritual dimensions, and that can accompany young people in the new forms of access to employment.
"Let us strive to further a culture of human and Christian values, to increase European knowledge in the educational environment, and to become educators for the future generations.
"In the experience of many young people the family has a fundamental role as a nucleus of stability and a school of values for their own personal growth. Whereas, others often painfully experience the instability of their emotional ties.
"We would like a Europe in which children can grow up in a serene environment, guaranteed and encouraged by appropriate family policies that are particularly attentive to young newly-married couples.
"As citizens, we wish to protect the family founded on marriage; as children, let us strive to live it as a place of respectful coexistence between the generations; as young people, let us learn to appreciate the value of reciprocal attention staked on responsibility for others and for the community in which we live.
Citizenship and participation
"The European Union, which is the result of a fruitful political endeavor, has made it possible to harmonize the economic and juridical systems of very different countries. May the involvement of European citizens and especially of young people 'from the bottom level,' be consistently promoted.
"We shall endeavor to overcome an individualistic approach to human rights, to recognize, develop, and appreciate the presence of individuals in those intermediate realities of social participation (families, associations, religious communities, organizations) that are places in which democracy is tested and matures.
Peace and development
"The desire for peace which has given birth to the European Union is still its goal today. We young Europeans know that our decisions influence the present and future of the rest of the inhabitants of the globe.
"We want the person and his or her dignity always to be at the center of the processes of social, economic, cultural, and environmental development, in a Europe that promotes peace and justice on the world scene.
"Let us try to adopt sustainable lifestyles and learn to manage conflicts without violence. Let us profit by the experiences of volunteer work and international cooperation that can contribute to the formation of new European citizens.
"We young Europeans have more and more possibilities open to us and many means of accessing information. However, certain problems arise: from the lack of European information to the ineffective protection of freedom and truth, in the name of economic, political, or nationalistic interests.
"We want transparency in information, in the media, and in relations between the public institutions and citizens, which helps us to feel like Europeans.
"We shall try to use the media to create the necessary spaces for critical analysis of information received and to encourage access to all that leads to greater knowledge of the situations of the other countries on the continent.
"As we face these vast prospects, we feel the need to ask for the company of our peers and of people of good will, to whom we propose:
• To other young Christians
"Be glad to be Christians!
"As the Apostle James said, be witnesses of Christ in deed and in word, living with joy in the Church and helping her to keep up with the times.
"Prepare yourselves seriously, with prayer, study, personal involvement, to be an important presence in the neighborhood, in the parish, in associations, in the world of work.
"Without fear or complexes, be 'young people in the Church, Christians in the world.'
• To all other young people
"Together and without prejudices, we can bring about a 'peaceful revolution' to build a more democratic, more just Europe, one that is an expression of civil society.
"We suggest that you put the person at the center of every project, believing in and staking everything on his or her full development.
"We offer Christ to you as a reference and model of life, Who can give meaning to your existence and satisfy your thirst for happiness.
• To adults
"Do not be afraid of being adults!
"We need people to guide us and to be examples of life.
"Let us establish a dialogue in order to share our experiences and hopes, to collaborate together, conscious of the fact that it will be we who carry forward the building of Europe.
"We ask you to trust young people and to support us, allowing our youth to challenge you.
"We know that the other continents are looking to Europe and to its young people, awaiting a courageous response to the challenges that the third millennium proposes to humanity.
"We feel that with the help of God, we can build a Europe of hope, responding to Christ's call with the same enthusiasm as the Apostle James: We can do it!"
VATICAN CITY – Pope John Paul II sent a message to the president of the city of Warsaw, Lech Kaczynski, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising in World War II. In his message, dated July 27, the Pope said:
"Thank you for inviting me to take part in the celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising. I wholeheartedly join the inhabitants of the Capital and all my compatriots in the solemn commemoration of the dramatic days that were, in a certain way, the climax of the entire nation's resistance to the Nazi occupation. As a son of this nation, I would like to pay homage to the heroes of that August insurrection, to those who fell and to those who survived and are still alive.
Loftiest expression of patriotism
"I bow to the insurgents who spared neither their blood nor their lives in the unequal fight for the cause of their Homeland. Although they suffered military defeat in the end due to inappropriate means and external conditions, their gesture will live on forever in the memory of the nation as the loftiest expression of patriotism. What love for the Homeland those young people must have cherished in their hearts! Despite their young age – many had barely emerged from childhood and their whole life lay before them – they climbed the barricades in the name of freedom, their own and that of the whole community. In remembering them, I put my admiration into words and pay homage to the soldiers of the Home Army (Armia Krajowa) and the other military formations commanded by Colonel, later General, Antoni Chrusciel ('Monter'). They were helped by the civilians of Warsaw who died in tens of thousands on the battlefield. And how can we forget the priests, chaplains of the Uprising who helped the combatants to the very end, often at the cost of their own lives? I would like to pay a special tribute to the heroic women-doctors and the nurses who tended the combatants. Many of them were massacred with the injured whom they nursed until the end. I hope that the memory of these heroic girls and women will live forever, encouraging disinterested service to those in need.
Warsaw, an eternal monument
"When I think back to those events and to the people involved in them, I am under the impression that Warsaw, the Indomitable City, rebuilt from its ruins and just as splendid today as other European capitals, is an eloquent monument to their moral victory. As such it will stand forever.
"I cordially greet all those who lived through those days. Today they make up a senior group of witnesses of events marked by the greatness of the human spirit, capable of building the common good upon the highest values of individuals. Sixty years later, I am glad that they should be enjoying the fruits of their military action despite the previous attempts to cancel those events from the national memory.
"I impart my Blessing to beloved Warsaw and to all of Poland. I ask God with His grace to make the hearts of all Poles more and more noble, so that the memory of their forebears' heroic deeds may be not only a return to remote history but also a stimulating example of patriotic love which, even in peacetime, is expressed by putting the common good before personal concerns. . ."
Fred H. Summe, vice president of Northern Kentucky Right to Life
On August 26, in a five-to-two decision, the Kentucky Supreme Court decided that comatose patients are better off dead and that the guardian, for the best interest of the ward, can kill the ward by starvation.
Matthew Woods, a 63-year-old man who had been retarded since birth, had the intellectual capacity of an 8 to 10-year-old child, according to the medical evidence, and had been adjudicated many years earlier as incompetent. The State of Kentucky was appointed as his guardian.
After he had sustained cardiopulmonary arrest during a severe asthma attack, his guardian petitioned the Court for approval of its decision to withdraw food and water.
Woods was not in the dying process, nor suffering pain.
The Kentucky Supreme Court, in Commonwealth vs. Woods, decided that food and water was "medical care" and that, in the best interest of the ward, this "medical care" could be terminated. For the guardian to withdraw nutrition and hydration, is not an act which allows the patient to die, but is an act which introduces the cause of death – starvation.
Even more startling was the fact that the Court, with no competent medical authority, equated food and water with "medical care" – even though it is obviously human care, not medical care.
Although Mr. Woods died of natural causes prior to the decision of the Court, the Kentucky Supreme Court has now opened the door to the killing of those whose lives are deemed unworthy to live.
A persuasive and courageous defense of the proper Pro-Life position was set forth in the Dissenting Opinion by Justice Donald Wintersheimer of Covington, Kentucky:
"It is deeply disappointing that this Court would decide to allow an agency of this State to end the life of a totally innocent ward of that very same State. It is even more shameful to realize that this State would seek to terminate the innocent human life of a person entrusted to its care and protection. Equally disturbing is the role of the hospital (St. Joseph Hospital of Lexington, Kentucky) and the ethics committee charged with the care and comfort of the patient inactively participating in this deplorable situation."
The Church Teaches
In his March 20, 2004, address to the participants in the International Congress: "Life-Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State: Scientific Advances and Ethical Dilemmas," John Paul II contradicts and refutes the underlying basis on which the Kentucky Supreme Court rendered its horrendous decision.
"In opposition to such trends of thought, I feel the duty to reaffirm strongly that the intrinsic value and personal dignity of every human being do not change, no matter what the concrete circumstances of his or her life. A man, even if seriously ill or disabled in the exercise of his highest functions, is and always will be a man, and he will never become a 'vegetable' or an 'animal.'
"The sick person in a 'vegetative state,' awaiting recovery or a natural end, still has the right to basic health care (nutrition, hydration, cleanliness, warmth, etc.), and to the prevention of complications related to his confinement to bed. He also has the right to appropriate rehabilitative care and to be monitored for clinical signs of eventual recovery.
"I should like particularly to underline how the administration of water and food, even when provided by artificial means, always represents a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act. Its use, furthermore, should be considered, in principle, ordinary and proportionate, and as such, morally obligatory, insofar as and until it is seen to have attained its proper finality, which in the present case consists in providing nourishment to the patient and alleviation of his suffering.
"Death by starvation or dehydration is, in fact, the only possible outcome as a result of their withdrawal. In this sense it ends up becoming, if done knowingly and willingly, true and proper euthanasia by omission."
The Pope continues, quoting the Evangelium Vitae, that euthanasia is "a serious violation of the law of God."
The Pope stresses that one cannot weigh the cost of caring for someone against the value of human life. The "quality" of a person cannot be the basis of decisions regarding that person's life, since there is no "level of quality of life."
The Pope exhorts all "to guard jealously the principle according to which the true task of medicine is 'to cure if possible, always to care.'"
Just a few thoughts on giving advice.
Have you ever heard the statement, "Never give advice; the wise don't need it and fools won't heed it." Truer words have not been spoken. Everyone has an idea of how the world should work. We have opinions on how people should dress and how they should raise their children and how they should spend their money. There's nothing wrong with having an opinion but when we choose to share our views with others, that's when trouble starts.
If you see a waitress holding a serving glass by the inner rim and then filling up the glass, you might be tempted to say something to the manager. Please reconsider. One would think that all employers want to know when one of their workers isn't performing up to standard but don't count on it. Recently, I experienced two employees of a local establishment giving terrible customer service to my family. I went to see the manager and privately expressed my concerns but was denied satisfaction.
All she did was defend her co-workers saying how they're overworked and full of stress. Although what they did was wrong, she understood why they did it and offered no resolution to my problem. She asked if I had a solution and when I offered one, she shot holes in it. Sharing opinions can be dangerous.
You can't tell people what to do in any situation. Nor can you tell the whole truth. Do you have any friends who you think could use a little help in the child rearing department? You better keep it to yourself. When, in your eyes, someone close to you is making a mistake in how they treat their kids, you best not share that view. Saying to them, "You better stay home tonight and talk to your children instead of attending another function," will bring you nothing but heartache and sorrow. It may be the truth and could provide lifelong benefits for the young ones, but if you're smart, you'll stay out of it.
Do you have a co-worker who constantly stirs up trouble and makes it difficult for everyone? Would you like to sit her down and say, "Look, you better straighten up and fly right because your attitude is bringing everybody down. No one wants to work with you anymore." This may be tempting to say and exactly what that person needs to hear but unless you're the person who signs the paychecks, find another way. The wise don't need advice and fools won't heed it.
Remember the poem about the owl? A wise old owl sat in an oak. The more he heard the less he spoke. The less he spoke the more he heard. Why aren't we all like that wise old bird? God gave us two ears and one mouth so maybe we should listen twice as much as we talk. My boss says we should stop talking two sentences before we're finished with our thought. Giving advice is always a risk; for what if the intended takes it the wrong way? It can only lead to hard feelings.
So as we go to work or play in the next few days, let's think first before we offer our free advice. The receiver probably won't be interested in what you have to say and may even resent you for saying anything. Be careful because once the words are out, you can't take them back and it may be too late. Truth, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, so watch what you say. Just a few thoughts.
The Vatican recently announced the themes for the 2005 World Day of Peace and the 2005 World Communications Day. The 36th World Day of Peace will be celebrated on January 1, 2005. World Communications Day will be observed on May 8, 2005.
L'Osservatore Romano English edition reported the theme of this year's World Day of Peace is "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good" (Rom 12:21). The Vatican paper said that "the theme is intended to awaken an awareness of evil as the cause and source of conflicts and wars, and at the same time an awareness of the indissoluble bond between moral good and peace."
The theme of World Communications Day is "The Communications Media: at the Service of Understanding between Peoples." Archbishop John Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications said the theme chosen by the Pope "reflects his desire that the media contribute to an authentic dialogue and mutual comprehension among peoples, leading to understanding, to justice, and to an enduring peace."
World Communications Day is the only world-wide celebration called for by the Second Vatican Council and is celebrated in most countries on the Sunday before Pentecost. The message for the Day is traditionally published on January 24, the memorial of St. Francis de Sales, patron of writers. The announcement of the theme was made on September 29, the feast of the Archangels Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel, patrons of those who work in radio.
Islamic-Catholic Committee Issues Statement on Iraq
Vatican City – Professor Dr. Hamid bin Ahmad Al-Rifaie, president of the International Islamic Forum for Dialogue, and Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligous Dialogue, issued the following statement on the situation in Iraq, dated August 2:
"As Presidents of the Islamic-Catholic Liaison Committee we firmly condemn, in its name, the terrorist acts that continue to be perpetrated in Iraq and that involve also the civilian population. We condemn in particular the suicide attacks in areas in which are located places of worship, both against Muslims and against Christians gathered for worship.
"Such acts of blind violence offend the sacred name of God and true religion. They evidence a gross misunderstanding of the history and culture of this sorely-tried Country. They represent a grave threat to peaceful coexistence and the ordered development of Iraqi society.
"It is our sincere hope that, with the help of the Almighty and Merciful God, the Iraqi people may finally enjoy the gift of peace, in an atmosphere of mutual respect and genuine collaboration among all its citizens of whatever religious tradition."
(Source: L'Osservatore Romano English edition)
Pope Remembers September 11
Castel Gandolfo, Italy – Pope John Paul II met with bishops from Pennsylvania and New Jersey on September 11, the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001. The bishops were on their ad limina visit to Rome. In meeting with the bishops the Pope said:
". . .I assure you of my closeness to the American people and I join you in praying for an end to the scourge of terrorism and the growth of the civilization of love.
"Our thoughts today are centered on the Bishop's exercise of sacred power, which must always be rooted in the moral authority of a life shaped by his sharing in Christ's consecration and mission. This demands of us a pastoral style inspired by the example of Christ, the Good Shepherd, and aimed at fostering holiness, communion, and mission in the Ecclesial Community.
"Dear brothers, as you guide the Churches entrusted to your care, may you find wisdom and strength through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, Patroness of your country. To all of you, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Lord."
(Source: L'Osservatore Romano English edition)
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