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My People

Vol. 22, Issue 7, July 2009

"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


Notre Dame
President Obama’s trip to Notre Dame inspired this artwork by Kathy Murphy. See page 3 for Fred Summe’s column on this subject.

Talks Backed By Aid Key To Defusing North Korea Crisis

(Editor's note: The following is a press release provided by Caritas.)

Caritas says alleviating the acute suffering of the poor in North Korea (DPRK) rather than military action must be the key component to ending the current crisis.

Caritas Internationalis members from Asia, North America, and Europe met in China last week to discuss the situation on the Korea peninsula amid growing tensions there.

UN sanctions have been imposed on North Korea after the government in Pyongyang conducted nuclear weapon tests and vowed to strengthen its arms program.

Caritas is calling for denuclearization of the region if peaceful development is to be sustained.

Caritas is urging for peace talks with practical solutions for vulnerable North Koreans as the best way to prevent any escalation into military action. Caritas says resorting to armed confrontation will have devastating consequences for the poor in North Korea and destabilize the region.

The humanitarian crisis in North Korea is still present. At least 8.7 million people in North Korea need food assistance (out of a population of 23 million). The number actually receiving aid is much lower and aid is being cut further due to lack of funding. In many areas, health and education infrastructure is close to collapse.

Caritas Internationalis Secretary-General Lesley-Anne Knight was at the Beijing meeting. She said, "Armed intervention in response to North Korea's belligerent actions will only cause further human tragedy and compound the suffering of the people there.

"Genuine negotiations with concrete outcomes for improving the daily living conditions of the people are vital steps in reducing the suffering and engaging with North Korea to find a solution to this crisis.

"The desperate situation many North Koreans find themselves needs addressing by the international community. A major part of the population is highly vulnerable, living in a precarious state where basic needs are not met. They should not be the victims of their government's provocations."

Caritas is giving priority through its programs to children, women, and older people who are the most affected.

For several years, Caritas has been providing humanitarian assistance to the poorest in North Korea. It will continue to mobilize support and implement effective programs in the areas of food distribution, health, and education, together with local and regional partners. The global Caritas network works through its member, Caritas Korea, in coordinating all activities.

Caritas sees humanitarian aid to the people of North Korea as a critical part of a long-term engagement with the country. Caritas has a vital role to play and invites other international organizations and Church initiatives to join efforts to assist the people of North Korea.

Develop Habit Of Prayer For Peace

During his May visit to Monte Cassino, an Italian town destroyed in World War II, Pope Benedict XVI emphasized the importance of prayer in assuring progress for peace. In the Regina Caeli message on May 24, the Pope remarked:

"Every time we celebrate Holy Mass we feel echoing in our hearts the words that Jesus entrusted to the disciples at the Last Supper as a precious gift: 'Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you' (Jn 14: 27). How great is the need of the Christian community and the whole of humanity to taste to the full the riches and power of Christ's peace! St. Benedict was a great witness of it because he welcomed it into his life and made it fruitful in works of authentic cultural and spiritual renewal. For this very reason, the word PAX is displayed as a motto at the entrance to the Abbey of Monte Cassino and to every other Benedictine monastery: in fact, the monastic community is called to live in accordance with this peace, which is a Paschal gift par excellence. As you know, I went on my recent journey to the Holy Land as a pilgrim of peace and today in this region marked by the Benedictine charism I am granted the opportunity to emphasize, once again, that peace is in the first place a gift of God, hence its strength is found in prayer.

"However, it is a gift entrusted to human commitment. The necessary energy to put it into practice can also be drawn from prayer. It is therefore fundamental to cultivate an authentic life of prayer to assure the social progress of peace. Once again the history of monasticism teaches us that a great development of civilization is prepared for by listening daily to the word of God, which impels believers to make a personal and community effort to fight every form of selfishness and injustice. Only by learning, with Christ's grace, to combat and defeat the evil within ourselves and in relations with others, do we become authentic builders of peace and of civil progress. May the Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, help all Christians in their different vocations and walks of life to be witnesses of the peace that Christ gave us and left to us as a demanding mission to be carried out everywhere . . ."

Bible Institute Opens July 24

Presentation Ministries will present its 23rd annual Bible Institute July 24 - August 1 at Xavier University in Cincinnati. The overall theme of this year's program is "The Battle Belongs To The Lord!"

Bible Institute publicity asks: "Are you aware that we are in a spiritual battle? How will you reply to the Lord's call to action? Jesus is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! Behold, a new day is before us! Jesus is raising up an army — disciples that will take His message out to the ends of the earth. We have nothing to fear because it is the Lord Who fights for us. 'Who is this king of glory? The Lord, a mighty warrior, the Lord, mighty in battle.' (Ps 24:8)

"Looking about at our civilization, we see distress, discouragement, and an epidemic of fear. You can bring healing to the broken-hearted, freedom to the captives, and hope to those who are in despair. As any soldier would do, come to be equipped and outfitted for deployment in the Lord's service. The Bible Institute offers a unique combination of opportunities to learn and use the resources God has given us. Don't wait! The time is now. The place is here! Say 'yes' to the Lord!"

The Bible Institute offers both weekend and weekday programs. Programs may last from one to four days. People may come for any seminar or for the whole nine days. Evening events are also included.

Michael Cumbie, a Catholic lay evangelist, will be the featured speaker for the first weekend program, "The Triumph of the Elect!" Dan Schneider, a Catholic lay evangelist and apologist, will present the second weekend program, "Living the Victorious Life!"

See the Bible Institute webpage for more information.

In Defense of Life: OBAMA AT NOTRE DAME

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

by Fred H. Summe

Against the expressed opposition of more than 80 U.S. bishops, the University of Notre Dame presented President Barack Obama with the opportunity to deliver the commencement speech, at which he addressed the issue of abortion, at its May 18 commencement exercise, and then bestowed upon him an honorary doctor of law degree. The most extreme pro-abortion president in U.S. history made good use of this opportunity to give his longest abortion remarks since the election, telling the graduates that instead of "demonizing the opposition," we need to seek the "common ground."

Naturally, Fr. John Jenkins, President of the university, failed to ask the obvious question: To the 4,000 American unborn babies who are destroyed daily, with their bodies being torn apart by a suction abortion, poisoned by a highly concentrated salt solution, or cut to pieces by a curettage, what is the "common ground"?

Have we forgotten what abortion is? It is not just an issue, political or moral, which we can simply debate. Abortion is an act of intentionally killing an unborn child, someone who is precious and unique, a person who has never lived before and will never live again.

In a Fox News interview, Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, stated: "Everyone can imagine people they would protest speaking at a commencement: an avowed racist, anti-Semite, or advocate of terrorism. So the failure to object to one who is unwilling to call for an end to abortion is the failure to see that abortion is as bad or worse than those other evils. We have to stop trivializing abortion."

Also unchallenged by Fr. Jenkins and the faculty of Notre Dame, was Obama's discussion of embryonic stem cell research. The President stated: "Those who speak out against stem cell research may be rooted in an admirable conviction about the sacredness of life, but so are the parents of a child with juvenile diabetes who are convinced that their son's or daughter's hardships may be relieved."

Have the pro-life movement or the Catholic Church ever expressed opposition to all stem cell research? No. The President, to the applause of those in attendance at the graduation, got away with blurring the issue. The objection is to embryonic stem cell research, which requires the destruction of an unborn person, at a stage of life at which he or she is referred to as an embryo. Maybe someone needs to inform the President and Notre Dame University that to date no one has been cured or even successfully treated using embryonic stem cells. All success has come through research from adult stem cells or stem cells obtained from umbilical cords or placentas, which does not result in the death of anyone, nor is immoral. Now that the drug companies have abandoned the funding of embryonic stem cell research, realizing its unprofitability, the question in Congress is: Should the taxpayers foot the bill?

In defense of embryonic stem cell research, to what does Obama refer? Scientific facts? No. Morality? No. He simply appeals to one's emotions by relaying the concerns of parents of a child with juvenile diabetes. Why give someone who is suffering from a serious disease false hope, just to placate and financially support your political supporters in the pro-abortion industry? Based on such emotional grounds, apparently the faculty, administration, and students of Notre Dame saw no problem with justifying the destruction of newly-conceived children.

Fr. Jenkins' Speech

Fr. Jenkins wasted no time in criticizing those who criticized his decision on honoring someone who favors the killing of unborn children. Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City/St. Joseph analyzed Fr. Jenkins' speech:

"Fr. Jenkins himself uses a whole series of very, very hard words. He uses the words – division, pride, contempt, demonize, anger, distort, hateful, condemn, hostility. And one might wonder whether he uses those words as a kind of a caricature of the 60 to 70 bishops who have spoken out against his invitation.

"This seems to be the way he sets up the President's talk for him – to speak in a very negative way about anyone who appears to be contrary to the decision they made, and then to stress the primacy of dialogue, and then offer his admiration of the President. Dialogue is important, but the question is fairly raised, 'May we negotiate about things that are intrinsic evils?' and I think the answer is no."

Others Speak Out

This 7-month-old baby boy was aborted in Houston, Texas, in December 1989. His head and arm were ripped from his body as the abortionist pulled him with tongs from his mother’s womb. He is 16 inches long with the umbilical cord still attached. He could have been born and survived. He did FEEL and DIE a horrible death.

"Imagine a Catholic university in the 1960s awarding a segregationist politician an honorary doctorate. This would have been an outrage – giving religious cover to someone who denied the equal rights and fundamental equal dignity of a whole class of human beings. In the same way, it is an outrage for a Catholic university to provide a stamp of approval to someone who just last week wrote the death warrant for millions of embryonic human beings, the most recent of a long line of anti-life acts. Obama's pro-abortionist extremism relegates a whole class of human beings – unborn human beings – to the status of mere sub-personal objects that can be dismembered, ripped to shreds, or disposed of in trash cans.

"This is not a mere theoretical disagreement. This act of promoting a virulently pro-abortion politician will cost lives – the lives of many unborn. And it will harm young men and women by obscuring the ugly truth about abortion," teaches Patrick Lee, Professor of Bioethics at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.

As reported in, Wilson D. Miscamble, C.S.C., history professor at Notre Dame, in his address to pro-life protesters, stated: "University leaders assure the parents, their children will find an institution unashamedly Catholic and willing to embrace all the tenets of our faith. Of late, that rhetoric seems to ring rather hollow."

As noted by Bishop Michael Sheridan: "Your [Fr. Jenkins'] invitation to the president speaks far more loudly than your disclaimer that you disagree with him on the life issues."

". . . By inviting Barack Obama as commencement speaker, Notre Dame is telling the nation that the teaching of the Catholic Church on this fundamental issue [abortion] can be ignored," wrote Dr. Ralph McInerny, a professor at Notre Dame, reports The Wanderer.

The Other Commencement Exercise

As reported by, approximately 3,000 people gathered on the South Quad of the University for a Mass, rally, and prayer vigil hosted by the student coalition ND Response.

Bishop John M. D'Arcy of South Bend, Indiana, who boycotted the University's graduation, publicly thanked the group, referring to them as "heroes."

Fr. Pavone led in prayer the Notre Dame graduates who declined to go to their own graduation, in protest. Two days earlier, Fr. Pavone preached that "Love says I sacrifice myself for the good of the other person. Abortion says I sacrifice the other person for the good of myself." Fr. Pavone noted that, "They [Notre Dame] aren't taking the challenge, are they?"

Fundamental Right

What issue is more fundamental than the right to life? "Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights – for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture – is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with the maximum determination," taught Pope John Paul II.

We pray that someday the University of Notre Dame will again be an honor to the woman after whom it has been named.

Prison To Praise: Belonging And Belongings

by Louis Templeman

(Editor's note: Mr. Templeman is a student in Guadalupe Bible College, a part of Presentation Ministries. We welcome contributions from prisoners. We would like to hear from a variety of prisoners.)

My grandson's fifth birthday got me to thinking about one of the first words a child ever learns to speak — "mine." From early on we are concerned with what we own and how we may get more.

There is a black and white photo of me as a five-year-old with a toy gun in hand, a cowboy hot on my head, and two candy cigarettes in my mouth. I was proud of my get-up. They belonged to me. They gave me an aura of power. I tried to show it by feigning a fierce expression hoping I could foster fear in enemies and respect from friends. I'd taken on a new identity. I'd been, in fantasy, born again.

Next to me in the photo stands my older brother. Same get-up. However, he cut a much more striking figure. His snarl was more convincing. And he had only one candy cigarette hanging from his lips. I had two because I wanted to look as tough as he did. He was bigger and older, so I figured I needed the second cigarette to toughen up my softer image. I belonged to my brother. I was imitating him. My belongings brought me into the picture but my sense of belonging gave my confidence to draw my pistol, snarl, and chew two candy cigarettes. It took both to make me feel like a truly bad hombre.

Children show us that if belongings are important to our self-identity, belonging is just as important. If what belongs to us is critical then who we belong to is just as critical. Belongings and belonging are two essential issues in the development of the human personality. Our tendencies toward individualism cause us to enjoy the props, the pleasure, and pride of ownership, but this always fits into the larger issue of who we belong to: family, gangs, teams, associations, schools, professions, nations, race, etc. Such attachments are important to our sense of self.

As Christians we are directed to weaken our attachments to the world and strengthen our attachment to the Kingdom of God, that is, the Church, the issues of peace and justice, and the outworking of God's love through our lives. Jesus was serious when He said, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness" and all the things of the world that you really need will not be denied you. Paul also wrote regarding the issue of belonging and belongings in 1 Corinthians 3:21-23: "For all things are yours . . . all belong to you and you belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God."

The apostle placed both issues — belongings and belonging — before us. And if these possessions and attachments appear nebulous and intangible, it is only because our belongings are so precious to us that we have no appetite for spiritual matters. Kathleen Norris, in her book, Acedia and Me, speaks of modern consumers whose sense of self is attached to their store of stuff. She writes that "instead of feeling carefree . . . (they feel) burdened with more and more necessities until they" are no longer "able to distinguish between needs and wants, between self-indulgence and self respect" and so become "in short, perfect consumers." It would appear that such people have lost their center and have no joy withing themselves and so seek consolation outside. Yet, the more they seek exterior goods the less interior joy they find.

With the pen of a prophet Norris writes, "If there is a religion that compasses all the world, it is the pursuit of wealth." Sadly, it is obvious, that many Christians are guilty of a religious syncretism, a dualism, carrying Bibles and attending church all the while practicing a fervent credit-driven consumer lifestyle. Our practice makes our faith an alloy and not the pure gold Christ requires. It is very easy to become very adept at a show of religion all the while denying Christ a place in our lives. Scripture offers a cure: "His divine power has given us everything needed for life . . . through the knowledge of (Jesus our Lord) . . . so that through them you may escape from the consumption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants in the divine nature." 2 Peter 1:3

This scripture certainly speaks to both issues. Belongings is covered in "everything needed for life . . ." Belonging is covered in the phrase "participants in the divine nature." But how to attain such a state? It comes down to want-to or motivation. The term "escape" should cover that. Only a convert to God's love would see the need to escape. That little cowboy chewing two cigarettes was clueless to the need to escape. He had to grow up and convert. As I was writing my grandson's birthday card I considered how vulnerable he is to the pitfalls of materialism and secularization of this past modern age. And I was inspired to offer him this blessing:

In the undirected, unfocused noise of modern life, may you know silence.

In the cares of life where the urgent determines priorities, may you know stillness.

In the crazy confusion of busy, busy people with many, many plans, may you know the peace of simplicity.

Be food to the hungry, hope to the hurting, and in the dark clouds of the lost and hurried where people hunger for attention, yet give so little.

Where the pride of life fuels their decisions, may you elevate their eyes to God by the peace that feeds off humility.

Light to the Nations: A Christian Perspective on World News

10 commandments: a great yes to life

vatican city — Pope Benedict XVI sent a message to participants in an international conference on women March 20-21. In a letter to Cardinal Renato Martino, the Pope called the meeting organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and other groups ". . . an exemplary response to my predecessor Pope John Paul II's call for a 'new feminism' with the power to transform culture, imbuing it with a decisive respect for life (cf. Evangelium Vitae, 98-99)."

The Pope continued: "Every day we learn of further ways in which life is compromised, particularly in its most vulnerable stages. While justice demands that these be decried as a violation of human rights, they must also evoke a positive and proactive response. The recognition and appreciation of God's plan for women in the transmission of life and the nurturing of children is a constructive step in this direction. Beyond this, and given the distinctive influence of women in society, they must be encouraged to embrace the opportunity to uphold the dignity of life through their involvement in education and their participation in political and civic life. Indeed, because they have been gifted by the Creator with a unique 'capacity for the other,' women have a crucial part to play in the promotion of human rights, for without their voice the social fabric of society would be weakened (cf. Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 13).

"As you reflect on the role of women in the promotion of human rights, I invite you to keep in mind a task to which I have drawn attention on several occasions: namely, to correct any misconception that Christianity is simply a collection of commandments and prohibitions. The Gospel is a message of joy which encourages men and women to delight in spousal love; far from stifling it, Christian faith and ethics make it healthy, strong and truly free. This is the exact meaning of the Ten Commandments: they are not a series of 'noes' but a great 'yes' to love and to life (cf. Address to the Participants at the Ecclesial Convention of the Diocese of Rome, June 5, 2006).

"It is my sincere hope that your discussions . . . will translate into concrete initiatives that safeguard the indispensable role of the family in the integral development of the human person and of society as a whole. The genius of women to mobilize and organize endows them with the skills and motivation to develop ever-expanding networks for sharing experiences and generating new ideas . . ."

(Source: L'Osservatore Romano English edition)

Remembering Apostle to Far East

vatican city — May 11 marked the 400th anniversary of the death in Peking of Father Matteo Ricci, a great Italian Jesuit missionary to China. In a letter marking the event, Pope Benedict XVI said the missionary was "endowed with profound faith and extraordinary cultural and intellectual gifts, spent long years of his life building a fruitful dialogue between West and East, while at the same time effectively implanting the Gospel in the culture of the great people of China. Today, too his example continues to be a positive model in the encounter between the European and Chinese civilization. I therefore willingly join those who are commemorating this generous son of your region, an obedient minister of the Church and a daring and intelligent messenger of Christ's Gospel. Given his intense scientific and spiritual activity, it is impossible not to be favorably impressed by his innovative and special skill in bringing together with full respect China's cultural and spiritual traditions in their totality.

"Indeed, this was the attitude that distinguished his mission, which aspired to seek the harmony possible between the noble, thousand-year-old Chinese civilization and the Christian newness which is the leaven of liberation and authentic renewal in every society, since the Gospel is the universal message of salvation destined for all people, whatever the cultural and religious context to which they belong.

"What contributed to making his apostolate original and, we might say, prophetic, was undoubtedly the profound sympathy he felt for the Chinese and for their history, their culture and their religious traditions. It suffices to mention his Treatise on Friendship (De amicitia - Jiaoyoulun), which met with great success from its first edition in Nanking in 1595. A model of dialogue and respect for the beliefs of others, this fellow countryman of yours made friendship the style of his apostolate over the 28 years of his stay in China. The friendship he offered was reciprocated by the local populations thanks precisely to the atmosphere of respect and esteem that he sought to cultivate, concerned to become ever better acquainted with the traditions of the China of that time. Despite the difficulties and misunderstandings he encountered, Fr. Ricci chose to stay faithful to this style of evangelization until his death, putting into practice, it might be said, a scientific methodology and pastoral strategy based, on the one hand, on respect for healthy local customs that the Chinese neophytes were not obliged to abandon when they embraced the Christian faith and, on the other, on an awareness that the Revelation could perfect and complete them even better. Moreover, it was on the basis of these convictions that, like the Fathers of the Church in the Gospel's encounter with the Graeco-Roman culture, he organized his far-sighted work for the inculturation of Christianity in China, seeking constant understanding with that country's scholars . . ."

(Source: L'Osservatore Romano English edition)

Prayer For Those Killed In War

On May 24, Pope Benedict XVI visited Monte Cassino, an Italian town destroyed in World War II and home to a famous Benedictine Abbey. His trip was during the 65th anniversary of the May, 1944, occupation of the monastery after five months of fighting in which 4,600 Allied soldiers died. The Pope visited the Polish cemetery in Monte Cassino and offered the following prayer:

O God, our Father, inexhaustible source of life and peace,

welcome in Your merciful embrace

those who fell in the war that ravaged this land,

the fallen of every war that has stained the earth with blood.

Grant that they may enjoy the light that never fades,

which they glimpsed in faith and yearned for

during their earthly pilgrimage.

You, Who in Jesus Christ, Your Son,

offered to suffering humanity the most exalted proof of Your love

and through His Cross redeemed the world

from the dominion of sin and death,

give to all who still suffer

because of fratricidal wars

the strength of invincible hope,

the courage to perform daily actions for peace

and active trust in the civilization of love.

Pour our Your Holy Spirit, the Paraclete,

upon the people of our time

that they may understand that peace

is more precious than any corruptible treasure

and that they all work tirelessly together

to prepare a world in which justice and peace may reign

for the new generations.

O good and merciful Father,

give to us, Your children in Christ,

persevering peacemakers

and tireless servants of life,

the invaluable gift of Your love.


Edge to Edge

Pray The News

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.

  • We pray for all priests to grow in holiness during this year for priests.
  • We pray for the United States to be "one nation under God with liberty and justice for all."
  • We pray for peace and justice through the world.
  • We pray for all those who have fallen in wars.
  • We pray for all government leaders to be inspired by the Holy Spirit.
  • We pray for Catholics to be faithful to the teachings of the Church.

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