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My People

Vol. 19, Issue 8, August 2006

"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

This file photo shows a family surrounding a statue of the Sacred Heart.

Devotion To Sacred Heart Is Central To Christian Life
Fight Against Terrorism Must Respect Human Dignity
Africa: A Continent of Hopes and Challenges


Devotion To Sacred Heart Is Central To Christian Life

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Pope Pius XII's encyclical Haurietis Aquas on the Sacred Heart (May 15, 1956). Pope Benedict XVI sent a letter, dated May 15, 2006, to Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., Superior General of the Society of Jesus. This religious order has traditionally promoted the Sacred Heart devotion. The Pope's letter follows:

"Today, 50 years later, the Prophet Isaiah's words, which Pius XII placed at the beginning of the Encyclical with which he commemorated the first centenary of the extension of the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus to the entire Church, have lost none of their meaning: 'With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation' (Is 12: 3).

"By encouraging devotion to the Heart of Jesus, the Encyclical Haurietis Aquas exhorted believers to open themselves to the mystery of God and of His love and to allow themselves to be transformed by it. After 50 years, it is still a fitting task for Christians to continue to deepen their relationship with the Heart of Jesus, in such a way as to revive their faith in the saving love of God and to welcome Him ever better into their lives.

"The Redeemer's pierced side is the source to which the Encyclical Haurietis Aquas refers us: we must draw from this source to attain true knowledge of Jesus Christ and a deeper experience of His love.

"Thus, we will be able to understand better what it means to know God's love in Jesus Christ, to experience Him, keeping our gaze fixed on Him to the point that we live entirely on the experience of His love, so that we can subsequently witness to it to others.

"Indeed, to take up a saying of my venerable Predecessor John Paul II, 'In the Heart of Christ, man's heart learns to know the genuine and unique meaning of his life and of his destiny, to understand the value of an authentically Christian life, to keep himself from certain perversions of the human heart, and to unite the filial love for God and the love of neighbor.'

"Thus: 'The true reparation asked by the Heart of the Saviour will come when the civilization of the Heart of Christ can be built upon the ruins heaped up by hatred and violence' (Letter to Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, Superior General of the Society of Jesus for the Beatification of Bl. Claude de la Colombière, October 5, 1986; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, October 27, 1986, p. 7).

"In the Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, I cited the affirmation in the First Letter of St. John: 'We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us,' in order to emphasize that being Christian begins with the encounter with a Person (cf. n. 1).

"Since God revealed Himself most profoundly in the Incarnation of His Son in Whom He made Himself 'visible,' it is in our relationship with Christ that we can recognize who God really is (cf. Haurietis Aquas, nn. 29-41; Deus Caritas Est, nn. 12-15).

"And again: since the deepest expression of God's love is found in the gift Christ made of His life for us on the Cross, the deepest expression of God's love, it is above all by looking at His suffering and His death that we can see God's infinite love for us more and more clearly: 'God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life" (Jn 3: 16).

"Moreover, not only does this mystery of God's love for us constitute the content of the worship of and devotion to the Heart of Jesus, but in the same way it is likewise the content of all true spirituality and Christian devotion. It is consequently important to stress that the basis of the devotion is as old as Christianity itself.

"Indeed, it is only possible to be Christian by fixing our gaze on the Cross of our Redeemer, 'on Him Whom they have pierced' (Jn 19:37; cf. Zec 12:10).

"The Encyclical Haurietis Aquas rightly recalls that for countless souls the wound in Christ's side and the marks left by the nails have been 'the chief sign and symbol of that love' that ever more incisively shaped their life from within (cf. n. 52).

"Recognizing God's love in the Crucified One became an inner experience that prompted them to confess, together with Thomas: 'My Lord and my God!' (Jn 20:28), and enabled them to acquire a deeper faith by welcoming God's love unreservedly (cf. Haurietis Aquas, n. 49).

"The deepest meaning of this devotion to God's love is revealed solely through a more attentive consideration of its contribution not only to the knowledge, but also and especially to the personal experience of this love in trusting dedication to its service (cf. ibid., n. 62).

"It is obvious that experience and knowledge cannot be separated: the one refers to the other. Moreover, it is essential to emphasize that true knowledge of God's love is only possible in the context of an attitude of humble prayer and generous availability.

"Starting with this interior attitude, one sees that the gaze fixed upon His side, pierced by the spear, is transformed into silent adoration. Gazing at the Lord's pierced side, from which 'blood and water' flowed (cf. Jn 19:34), helps us to recognize the manifold gifts of grace that derive from it (cf. Haurietis Aquas, nn. 34-41) and opens us to all other forms of Christian worship embraced by the devotion to the Heart of Jesus.

"Faith, understood as a fruit of the experience of God's love, is a grace, a gift of God. Yet human beings will only be able to experience faith as a grace to the extent that they accept it within themselves as a gift on which they seek to live. Devotion to the love of God, to which the Encyclical Haurietis Aquas invited the faithful (cf. n. 72), must help us never to forget that He willingly took this suffering upon Himself 'for us,' 'for me.'

"When we practice this devotion, not only do we recognize God's love with gratitude but we continue to open ourselves to this love so that our lives are ever more closely patterned upon it. God, Who poured out His love 'into our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us' (cf. Rom 5:5), invites us tirelessly to accept His love. The main aim of the invitation to give ourselves entirely to the saving love of Christ and to consecrate ourselves to it (cf. Haurietis Aquas, n. 4) is, consequently, to bring about our relationship with God.

"This explains why the devotion, which is totally oriented to the love of God Who sacrificed Himself for us, has an irreplaceable importance for our faith and for our life in love.

"Whoever inwardly accepts God is moulded by Him. The experience of God's love should be lived by men and women as a 'calling' to which they must respond. Fixing our gaze on the Lord, Who 'took our infirmities and bore our diseases' (Mt 8:17), helps us to become more attentive to the suffering and need of others.

"Adoring contemplation of the side pierced by the spear makes us sensitive to God's salvific will. It enables us to entrust ourselves to His saving and merciful love, and at the same time strengthens us in the desire to take part in His work of salvation, becoming His instruments.

"The gifts received from the open side, from which 'blood and water' flowed (cf. Jn 19:34), ensure that our lives will also become for others a source from which 'rivers of living water' flow (Jn 7:38; cf. Deus Caritas Est, n. 7).

"The experience of love, brought by the devotion to the pierced side of the Redeemer, protects us from the risk of withdrawing into ourselves and makes us readier to live for others. 'By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren' (1 Jn 3:16; cf. Haurietis Aquas, n. 38).

"It was only the experience that God first gave us His love that has enabled us to respond to His commandment of love (cf. Deus Caritas Est, n. 17).

"So it is that the cult of love, which becomes visible in the mystery of the Cross presented anew in every celebration of the Eucharist, lays the foundations of our capacity to love and to make a gift of ourselves (cf. Haurietis Aquas, n. 69), becoming instruments in Christ's hands: only in this way can we be credible proclaimers of His love.

"However, this opening of ourselves to God's will must be renewed in every moment: 'Love is never "finished' and complete' (cf. Deus Caritas Est, n. 17).

"Thus, looking at the 'side pierced by the spear' from which shines forth God's boundless desire for our salvation cannot be considered a transitory form of worship or devotion: the adoration of God's love, whose historical and devotional expression is found in the symbol of the 'pierced heart,' remains indispensable for a living relationship with God (cf. Haurietis Aquas, n. 62).

"As I express the wish that the 50th anniversary will give rise to an ever more fervent response to love of the Heart of Christ in numerous hearts, I impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you, Most Reverend Father, and to all the Religious of the Society of Jesus, who are still very active in promoting this fundamental devotion."


Fight Against Terrorism Must Respect Human Dignity

Talk about the response to terrorists can easily be heard in newspapers, talk shows, the Internet, political campaigns, and other places where the public meets. Questions of the rights of suspected terrorists and legitimate parameters of government action are frequently heard. Monsignor Celestino Migliore, a representative of the Vatican, addressed some issues posed by terrorism in the United Nations meeting considering terrorism in New York on May 11.

He stated that the UN report under consideration "rightly contain a clear condemnation of terrorism based on the assumption that no cause, no matter how just, can excuse or legitimize the deliberate killing or maiming of civilians and non-combatants.

"Terrorism often takes root in the cultural fragmentation underlying tensions and divisions that unfortunately we have seen even in the UN in recent weeks and months. The Holy See therefore remains prepared to take part in this important debate with a view to finding common ground on which nations can build effective counter-terrorism strategies.

"At the start of this year, Pope Benedict XVI addressed Catholics and all women and men of good will, inviting them to link their efforts to reflection, cooperation, dialogue, and prayer, intended to overcome terrorism and build a just and peaceful coexistence in the human family.

"Given his conviction that, in analyzing the causes of the contemporary phenomenon of terrorism, consideration should be given not only to its political and social causes but also to its deeper cultural, religious, and ideological motivations, the Pope's invitation has already brought about a mosaic of debates, initiatives, and experiences both in academe and at the grass roots level throughout the world. My delegation is therefore pleased to note that the Report before us incorporates a cultural and religious component in its global strategy.

"Representatives will recall how the UN dedicated the year 2001 to dialogue among civilizations and how, last November, the Secretary-General launched the Alliance of Civilizations. Not long ago, a Tripartite Forum on inter-religious dialogue and cooperation for peace was also launched to bring together Governments, the UN system, and civil society. My delegation hopes that good use should be made of this new interest in the UN in cooperation among religions and in building bridges between cultures and civilizations. Undoubtedly, religion has an enormously positive potential when given the chance.

"The Holy See is willing to support initiatives that encourage believers to be agents of peace and join all those who would be builders of our peaceful coexistence. Moreover, when religion's true nature is rightly understood and lived out, it can become part of the solution rather than the problem, because it will promote humane engagement and regard for the dignity of others, to the common good of us all.

"This Organization should therefore encourage religions to make this important contribution on their own terms: that is, religions are called to create, support, and promote the precondition of every encounter, every dialogue, and of every understanding of pluralism and cultural difference. That precondition, Mr. President, is the dignity of the human person.

"Our common human dignity is a true precondition because it comes before every other consideration or methodological principle, even those of international law. We see it in the 'Golden Rule,' found throughout the religions of the world. Another description of this concept is reciprocity.

"Encouraging awareness and experience of this common heritage within and among religions will surely help in the translation of this positive vision into political and social categories which will, in their turn, inform the juridical categories linked to national and international relations.

"My delegation is also gratified to see the way the question of incitement to terrorism has been dealt with in the report before us. We all know that the skillful use of the Internet and mass media make terrorism a transnational, globally coordinated phenomenon, requiring therefore an equally powerful, globally coordinated solution.

"In this context, we renew our support of Security Council Resolution 1624 which both condemned 'in the strongest terms the incitement of terrorist acts' and repudiated 'attempts at the justification or glorification (apologie) of terrorist acts that may incite further terrorist acts.' Measures to confront any actor or entity whatsoever that financially support intolerance or ethnic and religious hatred are essential to a global strategy.

"The political, social, and economic exclusion of immigrant communities stokes the frustration of young people and has led to breakdowns in order in some places; but the demand for a just solution to these questions remains a legitimate one. By resolving such questions, swiftly and justly, nations can rob terrorists of the oxygen of hatred and of grievances, real or imagined, by which they attempt to legitimize their evil deeds and recruit the impressionable.

"Although how to stop the use of day-to-day materials against soft targets is often the more difficult problem to solve, denying terrorists weapons, including WMD, is obviously part of the struggle. In this context, my delegation welcomes Security Council Resolution 1673 on non-proliferation. We also agree that it must be the common goal of states to secure, and wherever possible eliminate, nuclear, biological, chemical, or radiological weapons and implement effective domestic and export controls on dual-use materials related to weapons of mass destruction.

"Furthermore, it appears that bioterrorism is a grave but seriously under-addressed threat. As we have seen in other theaters of action, the cost of doing nothing could far outstrip the cost of a major initiative now to strengthen public health systems' capacity to cope with such a terrible eventuality. As the report points out, important investments now in this field could in the meantime also have positive spin-offs in the general quality of healthcare available.

"Finally, Mr. President, counter-terrorism must be characterized by denying the moral high ground to terrorists. This is just one reason why the treatment of terrorists and suspects should be according to international humanitarian norms in a struggle which is ultimately one for hearts and minds.




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

"When a mother is abruptly and violently disconnected from her child, there is a natural trauma. She has undergone an unnatural death event.

"In many cases, she has violated her moral ethics and natural instincts. There has been a crushing blow to her image of 'mother' who nurtures, protects, and sustains life," explains Theresa Burke, Ph.D., a psychotherapist and founder of Rachel's Vineyard Ministries.

She continues: "I have counseled thousands of women whose lives have been shattered by the trauma of abortion, which they experienced as a cruel and degrading procedure. There is grief, sadness, heartache, guilt, shame, and anger.

"They have learned to numb themselves with alcohol and drugs, or master their trauma through repetitions of it. Some re-enact their abortion pain through promiscuity and repeat abortions, trapped in traumatic cycles of abandonment and rejection.

"Others stuff their feelings through eating disorders, panic attacks, mental depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide. Some have suffered permanent physical and reproductive damage that rendered them unable to have children in the future."

Northern Kentucky Right to Life is indeed proud to invite Theresa Burke, Ph.D., to address the 33rd Annual Celebration for Life, which is scheduled for Sunday, September 17, at London Hall, Drawbridge Estates in Ft. Mitchell, KY (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 Joan Arnsparger, Northern Kentucky Right to Life, 1822 Madison Avenue, Covington, KY (859-431-6380).

Rachel's Vineyard Ministries is a ministry of weekend retreats for healing after abortion. In 2006 it will provide 450 weekend retreats for healing after abortion. Each retreat will have between 12 and 25 participants. The ministry is growing at a 40% rate each year. In just the past seven years, thousands of men and women have come for help as Rachel's Vineyard has spread to Africa, Taiwan, Russia, England, Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Portugal, South America, Canada, and throughout the United States.

Dr. Burke, in her book Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion, co-authored with David C. Reardon, Ph.D., Director of the Elliot Institute, exposes the grief that women experience, sooner or later, about the abortion they had. Based on her experience with counseling hundreds of clients, she explains how these repressed feelings surface through destructive behavior, failed relationships, eating disorders, alcohol and drug abuse, and other emotional and behavioral problems.


"A woman goes through psychological stages in her relation with her unborn child as a pregnancy progresses — a factor often overlooked in the abortion debate. Pregnancy is not a disease or an illness. It is a natural event.

"Women's bodies are instinctually programmed to nurture and sustain life. The psychological relationship between the mother and her unborn child is triggered by physical and hormonal changes, but also by the woman's support system and culture," states Dr. Burke.

"By the moment of birth, when the child is placed in a mother's arms, the mystery, the wonder, the excitement all culminate in a powerful bonding process as the mother joyfully welcomes a precious new life into the world."


Dr. Burke inquires: "When we look behind the rhetoric of choice, we can more honestly ask, 'Whose choice is it?' Recent research indicates that in 95% of all cases the male partner plays a central role in the abortion decision."

As reported in the Elliott Institute's Post Abortion Review, studies indicate that up to 80% of women would give birth if given support.

"Too often, abortion is the choice of someone else in her life and we hear most women say they had no choice but abortion," states Dr. Burke. "In fact, murder is the No. 1 cause of death among pregnant women. Men who have been convicted of the murder of their pregnant partners cite not wanting to pay child support as the primary motive. Such disturbing national statistics clearly indicate that there is a high level of coercion driving women into unwanted abortions."

From her studies, Dr. Burke concludes that there usually are a number of persons who are involved in the so-called "her choice," such as "parents who threaten her with a withdrawal of love or even eviction if she does not abort; the school/mental health or health care professional who uses the power of their position to make abortion seem the rational, mature, and only decision that makes sense given her circumstances."


As Dr. Burke explains, the whole topic of abortion is very threatening since "grief following an abortion can be extremely complicated and can be experienced on all levels of the personality." It is difficult for women who have had abortions to talk about it, describe their feelings, or find someone who will listen and allow them to grieve.

Dr. Burke finds the popular view is that we should "bear our pain alone." Comments like "just forget about it," "it wasn't really a baby yet," "you can always have another baby," or "just stop thinking about it" will prohibit someone who needs to grieve from doing so. The pain is simply buried deeper, instead of exposing it and working through it.

Doesn't just talking about the whole issue of abortion, or the grief and trauma that some women experience, make others feel more guilty, causing them to have regrets and anxieties that they would not otherwise experience? To this, Dr. Burke responds, "If a woman is grieving over the death of her baby, the best thing I can do is acknowledge the reality of that experience with her."

As Dr. Burke explains, "Because the consequences of abortion can be so threatening, we don't want to exasperate the problem by doubting or negating the many women who have undergone excruciating pain because of their choice."

If someone came to you, revealing that they had an abortion, would you be prepared not only to listen but to encourage a woman to not only grieve, but to find healing?

Meet your Christian obligation to educate yourself, and make a personal commitment to hear this pro-life advocate and encourage your family and friends to join you.


Africa: A Continent of Hopes and Challenges

Africa poses both great hopes and challenges for the Church and the world. Many are aware of great issues threatening Africa: war, genocide, poverty, famine, starvation, AIDS, disease, etc. as well as the many natural resources possessed by this continent.

Over a decade ago, Pope John Paul II issued the apostolic exhortation, Ecclesia in Africa. The document resulted from much prayer, work, consultation, and thought concerning Africa by the First Special Assembly of Bishops for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.

The Synod of Bishops is now having the Second Special Assembly for Africa. As part of their process, this body developed a working document (or "lineamenta"), which was presented to the press on June 27. Cardinal Francis Arinze made the following address at the press conference:

"At more than 12 years since the celebration of the first Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Africa, the Church in Africa is taking this first major step towards the celebration of a Second Synod for Africa. To help us better to examine these 'Lineamenta,' it may be useful to reflect briefly on signs of good news about inner Church life in Africa, present problems and challenges on reconciliation, justice, and peace in African societies, and what the Catholic Church in Africa has done, or can do, to help.

1. Good News about Inner Church Life

"There are great differences in the situation of the Church in each of the 53 countries on the African continent. Therefore generalizations should be avoided. The following trends are notable in matters touching the inner life of the Church in African countries.

"Growth is a fact. Experts tell us that Africa is the continent with the highest annual percentage growth for Christianity in the world. Many more Africans get baptized each year. In some African countries seminaries and sisters' novitiates have more candidates than they can conveniently accommodate. New parishes and dioceses get created.

"But Africa is not satisfied with numbers. Growth and deepening in the faith are not forgotten. Some signs of this are the growing number of monasteries and higher ecclesiastical institutes, the organization of yearly retreats in parishes and mission stations that have no resident priest, the growth of Diocesan Pastoral and Catechetical Centers, and the many sessions organized in dioceses to reflect on what the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Ecclesia in Africa, says to the Church. Several Beatification Causes are being promoted, one of the latest being that of President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania. In the first week of July this year there will be a Liturgical Congress for all Africa and Madagascar organized in Kumasi, Ghana, by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Disciplines of the Sacraments in collaboration with the Bishops' Conferences of Africa.

"Africans are striving to live their faith more and more. The lay faithful are active. Priests and religious are engaging in missionary work inside and outside Africa.

2. Problems and Challenges in Society

"But the Church in Africa is not closed in on herself. She shares the joys and hopes, problems and challenges of the wider society in Africa.

"The painful situation of violence and even war in Somalia, the tragedy of Darfur, and the yet not totally resolved situation in the Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and to some extent in the Great Lakes Region, are causes of concern.

"The challenge of building up a nation in harmony and peaceful development out of peoples from many ethnic groups put together as a country by colonial masters remains present, as in Nigeria. Moreover, poverty, disease, and especially HIV/AIDS, are real threats and have wiped out large numbers or crippled them.

"At the same time, Africa in the past 12 years has recorded some good news also in these areas. Examples are a smooth passage from apartheid to democracy in the Republic of South Africa, the opposition party winning election without tears in Senegal, Ghana, Malawi, and Zambia, and significant steps towards greater democratization in several countries.

3. Role of the Church

"The Catholic Church, without any pretense at having a political or economic mission, knows that she has to contribute first by preaching the Gospel to call to a conversion of hearts, respect for the rights of other people, repentance and reconciliation, forgiveness and harmony. The lay faithful are conscientized to take on their own distinctive role in bringing the spirit of Christ into the various areas of secular life (cf. Vatican II: Apost. Actuositatem, 2, 7; Gaudium et Spes, 43).

"The dioceses in Africa take practical steps to show Christian solidarity to the poor and the needy. Most Bishops' Conferences have Justice and Peace Commissions which also help to educate citizens on their right and duty to vote. The Bishops, especially when gathered in Conference, speak on national issues with courage and love. Refugees and displaced persons find the Church as one of the few institutions that care for them and that can put a smile on their faces.

"A discussion of the 'Lineamenta' being released today will help to focus attention on many ways in which the Church in Africa can serve reconciliation, justice, and peace on this vast continent."

Prayer For Africa

"Holy Mary,
Mother of God, Protectress of Africa,
You have given the world the true Light, Jesus Christ.
Through your obedience to the Father and the grace of the Holy Spirit
You have given us the source of our reconciliation and our joy.

"Mother of Tenderness and Wisdom,
Show us Jesus, Son of God and your Son.
Guide our path of conversion,
so that Jesus will let His Glory shine in and on us,
in all the places of our personal, family, and social life.

"Mother, filled with Mercy and Justice,
Through your docility to the Spirit of Consolation,
Obtain the grace for us to be the witnesses of the Risen Lord,
So that we will increasingly become the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

"Mother of Perpetual Help,
To your maternal intercession we entrust
The preparation and fruits of the Second Synod for Africa.
Queen of Peace, pray for us!
Our Lady of Africa, pray for us!"

(Source: Lineamenta, Second Special Assembly for Africa, 2006)


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