"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
|"Just look for the face of Jesus everywhere you go, search among your family, friends and those you do not know."|
Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Pro-life Activities, wrote an August 11 letter to members of the U.S. House of Representatives on the health care reform bill currently before the House. Cardinal Rigali called the current legislation "seriously deficient" in its requirements for mandatory coverage and funding of abortion. He called for genuine reform that respects life and dignity.
Cardinal Rigali's letter follows:
"As you continue deliberations on the 'America's Affordable Health Choices Act' (H.R. 3200), I urge you to consider the overall priorities and concerns presented by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Bishop William Murphy's July 17 letter to Congress (www.usccb.org/sdwp/national/2009-07-17-murphy-letter-congress.pdf). The bishops' conference views health care as a basic right belonging to all human beings. We therefore have long supported health care reform that respects human life and dignity from conception to natural death; provides access to quality health care for all, with a special concern for immigrants and the poor; preserves pluralism, with respect for rights of conscience; and restrains costs while sharing them equitably.
"As this debate continues we will share our perspectives on positive and negative features in this and other health care reform legislation. In this letter I am writing specifically about our fundamental requirement that such legislation respect human life and rights of conscience in the context of abortion. Much-needed reform must not become a vehicle for promoting an 'abortion rights' agenda or reversing longstanding policies against federal funding and mandated coverage of abortion. In this sense we urge you to make this legislation 'abortion neutral,' by preserving longstanding federal policies that prevent government promotion of abortion and respect conscience rights.
"As amended by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on July 31, H.R. 3200 addresses two aspects of the abortion issue: The Act will not preempt certain state laws
regulating abortion, and will have no effect on existing federal conscience rights on abortion. These changes are helpful improvements. Especially welcome is the committee's approval of the Stupak/Pitts amendment, prohibiting governmental bodies that receive federal funds under this Act from discriminating against providers and insurers who decline involvement in abortion. The bishops' conference had urged approval of this amendment, which applies the policy of the Weldon amendment (approved by Congress every year since 2004 as part of the Labor/HHS appropriations bill) to the health care reform bill.
"On two other fundamental issues, however, the Act remains seriously deficient:
"1. The legislation delegates to the Secretary of Health and Human Services the power to make unlimited abortion a mandated benefit in the 'public health insurance plan' the government will manage nationwide. This would be a radical change: Federal law has long excluded most abortions from federal employees' health benefits packages, and no federal health program mandates coverage of elective abortions.
"2. Because some federal funds are authorized and appropriated by this legislation without passing through the Labor/HHS appropriations bill, they are not covered by the Hyde amendment and other federal provisions that have long prevented federal funding of abortion and of health benefits packages that include abortion. The committee rejected an amendment to extend this longstanding policy to the use of federal subsidies for health care premiums under this Act. Instead the committee created a legal fiction, a paper separation between federal funding and abortion: Federal funds will subsidize the public plan, as well as private health plans that include abortion on demand; but anyone who purchases these plans is required to pay a premium out of his or her own pocket (specified in the Act to be at least $1.00 a month) to cover all abortions beyond those eligible for federal funds under the current Hyde amendment. Thus some will claim that federal taxpayer funds do not support abortion under the Act.
"But this is an illusion. Funds paid into these plans are fungible, and federal taxpayer funds will subsidize the operating budget and provider networks that expand access to abortions. Furthermore, those constrained by economic necessity or other factors to purchase the 'public plan' will be forced by the federal government to pay directly and specifically for abortion coverage. This is the opposite of the policy in every other federal health program. Government will force low-income Americans to subsidize abortions for others (and abortion coverage for themselves) even if they find abortion morally abhorrent.
"Please consider the broader context. No federal program mandates coverage for elective abortions, or subsidizes health plans that include such abortions. Most Americans do not want abortion in their health coverage, and most consider themselves 'pro-life,' with a stronger majority among low-income Americans. About 80 percent of all hospitals do not generally provide abortions, and 85 percent of U.S. counties have no abortion provider. By what right, then, and by what precedent, would Congress make abortion coverage into a nationwide norm, or force Americans to subsidize it as a condition for participating in a public health program?
"As long-time supporters of genuine health care reform, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is working to ensure that needed health reform is not undermined by abandoning longstanding and widely supported policies against abortion funding and mandates and in favor of conscience protection.
"I urge you to help ensure that any legislation that comes up for a vote in the full House does not include these unacceptable features. Please support amendments to correct them, and oppose any rule for consideration of H.R. 3200 that would block such amendments. By your actions on these issues, you can advance urgently needed health care reform that will truly serve the poor and needy and uphold the dignity of all."
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) sent a July 17 letter to all members of the U.S. Congress on the subject of health care reform. Copies were sent to the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services. Bishop William Francis Murphy of Rockville Center, NY, signed the letter. He is chair of the Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. The letter follows:
"On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), I write to outline our policy priorities and to express hope that the serious efforts of the Congressional committees will bring genuine life-affirming reform to the nation's health care system. The USCCB looks forward to working with you to reform health care successfully in a manner that offers accessible, affordable, and quality health care that protects and respects the life and dignity of all people from conception until natural death.
"Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others,
knowing that you will receive from the Lord the due payment of the inheritance;
be slaves of the Lord Jesus Christ."
— Col 3:23-24
"For decades, the Catholic bishops of the United States have been and continue to be consistent advocates for comprehensive health care reform that leads to health care for all, including the weakest and most vulnerable. The bishops want to support health care reform. We have in the past and we always must insist that health care reform excludes abortion coverage or any other provisions that threaten the sanctity of life.
"As Congress begins debate on health care reform the Catholic bishops of the United States offer the following criteria for fair and just health care reform. Health care reform needs to reflect basic ethical principles. We offer these as a guide:
"Two of these criteria need special attention as Congress moves forward with health care reform.
Respect for life and dignity: As we renew our longstanding support for reforming our nation's health care system, we must also be clear that we strongly oppose inclusion of abortion as part of a national health care benefit. We would also oppose inclusion of technologies that similarly fail to uphold the sanctity and dignity of life. No health care reform plan should compel us or others to pay for the destruction of human life, whether through government funding or mandatory coverage of abortion. Any such action would be morally wrong. It also would be politically unwise. No health care legislation that compels Americans to pay for or participate in abortion will find sufficient votes to pass.
"For decades, Congress has respected the right of health care providers to decline involvement in abortion or abortion referrals, without exception, and has respected moral and religious objections in other contexts as well. The Weldon amendment to the Labor/HHS appropriations act, approved by Congress each year since 2004, forbids any federal agency or program (or state or local government receiving federal funds under the act) to discriminate against individual or institutional health care providers or insurers because they decline to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortion. Programs, such as Medicaid, that provide funding for the rare 'Hyde exception' abortions, also provide for participation in the program by health care providers who decline to provide any abortions at all. (For a compilation of such federal laws, see www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/abortion/crmay08.pdf.) Health care reform cannot be a vehicle for abandoning this consensus which respects freedom of conscience and honors our best American traditions. Any legislation should reflect longstanding and widely supported current policies on abortion funding, mandates, and conscience protections because they represent sound morality, wise policy, and political reality. Making the legislation 'abortion-neutral' in this sense will be essential for widely accepted reform.
"Access for all: Reform efforts must begin with the principle that decent health care is not a privilege, but a right and a requirement to protect the life and dignity of every person. All people need and should have access to comprehensive, quality health care that they can afford, and it should not depend on their stage of life, where or whether they or their parents work, how much they earn, where they live, or where they were born. The Bishops' Conference believes health care reform should be truly universal and it should be genuinely affordable. Many lower-income families simply lack the resources to meet their health care expenses. For these families, significant premiums and cost-sharing charges can serve as barriers to obtaining coverage or seeing a doctor. Therefore, Medicaid cost-sharing protections should be maintained and new coverage options should protect the lowest income enrollees from burdensome cost sharing. We urge Congress to limit premiums or exempt families earning less than 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level from monthly premiums. We also recommend limiting co-payments and other costs which could discourage needed care. In order to move toward universal coverage, we urge increases in eligibility levels. For example, we urge Congress to maintain at least the proposed minimum national eligibility level for Medicaid at 150 percent and CHIP at 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Level; to ensure comprehensive coverage; and to provide states with the resources to expand coverage.
"After health care reform is implemented, some individuals and families, including immigrants, will still lack health insurance coverage. We have a responsibility to ensure that no one is left without the ability to see a doctor when he or she is sick or get emergency care when his or her health is at risk. Therefore, we urge Congress to ensure sufficient funding for safety-net clinics, hospitals, and other providers serving those who will continue to fall through the cracks of a reformed system.
"The Catholic bishops renew our appeal to provide equity for legal immigrants in access to health care. This can be accomplished, in part, by repealing the five-year ban for legal immigrants to access Medicaid; repealing the applicability of 'sponsor-deeming' for Medicaid and CHIP; and ensuring that pregnant women in the United States, who will be giving birth to children who are United States citizens, are eligible along with their unborn children for health care regardless of their immigration status. Immigrants pay the same taxes as citizens and their health needs cannot be ignored. Leaving them outside a reformed system is both unfair and unwise.
"Health care is not just another issue for the Church or for a healthy society. It is a fundamental issue of human life and dignity. Health care is a critical component of the Catholic Church's ministry. The Church provides health care, purchases health care, and picks up the pieces of a failing health care system. The Catholic community encounters and serves the sick and uninsured in our emergency rooms, shelters, and on the doorsteps of our parishes. One out of six patients is cared for in Catholic hospitals. We bring both strong convictions and everyday experience to the issue of health care.
"We look forward to working with you on these priorities as you make important choices on how to strengthen and improve health care, a most important national priority. Genuine health care reform that protects the life and dignity of all is a moral imperative and a vital national obligation."
Fred H. Summe, vice president of Northern Kentucky Right to Life
"Through Terri's death, we've learned the value of life. Not only the life that most of us enjoy bodies healthy, minds alert, the capacity to love intact, able to reach out to our neighbors and our God but the life that was Terri's: limited, disabled, precarious, confined to a bed or a wheelchair, unable to eat by herself, dress herself, speak for herself, yet limitlessly precious. Injury or disability does not mitigate a human being's capacity to love or receive love. Mother Teresa said, 'We are made to love and be loved,'" writes Terri Shiavo's mother, Mary Schindler, in the book co-authored by Terri's family: A Life That Matters. Terri's mother continues: "All life is sacred. We think about it every day what it really means, and why it is fundamental to how we live out each day."
"We believe that Terri's life was worth fighting for, and we've never wavered in our commitment, even when people said, 'Let her go.' It really makes you dig down and question yourself on whether you'd have done the same thing for someone you never even knew. I think I would. I think all of us would. That's what we're doing now," writes her sister, Susanna.
The story of Terri Schiavo brought to the attention of the nation what has been becoming more and more acceptable across the nation, i.e., the withdrawal of food and hydration, resulting in death.
Our nation has seen our laws change from considering euthanasia and the so-called "physician-assisted suicide" as criminal offenses to becoming a so-called "right to die." This phrase of the culture of death is not only promoted by many case decisions of various state Supreme Courts, but unfortunately has also found much support in Catholic medical facilities.
Catholic hospitals, like all hospitals, greet a patient for admission with the question, "Do you have a living will?" and present the type of living will which would allow one to authorize the withdrawal of food and hydration.
Terri was not terminally ill, nor was she "brain dead" nor in a "vegetative state." She was disabled. After a number of years, Terri's husband, Michael Schiavo, was successful in obtaining a court order granting him the "right" to withdraw all nutrition and hydration from Terri. After 13 days, Terri, on March 31, 2005, at the age of 41, died of dehydration, as confirmed by the autopsy.
Fr. Frank Pavone, Director of Priests for Life, who was present for most of the two-week period of Terri's death, discloses: "Terri's death was not at all peaceful and beautiful. It was quite horrifying. She was dehydrating to death and looked it. Her face had an expression of dread and sorrow."
In their book, A Life That Matters, Terri's family explains that at one of the original hearings at which Judge Greer was taking evidence on which to base his decision to order the withdrawal of food and hydration from Terri, Michael Schiavo's attorney called a Catholic priest, Fr. Gerald Murphy. Fr. Murphy had never spoken to anyone in the Schindler family and had never visited Terri. Yet, after introducing himself as an official spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church on end-of-life matters, he (erroneously) announced that the Church condoned the termination of human life by removing life support and would indeed permit the removal of Terri's feeding tube.
"It would be considered a theft on our part if we didn't give to someone in greater need than we are."
— St. Francis of Assisi
After the hearing, the family went to the Bishop of St. Petersburg, Bishop Lynch, their bishop, and pleaded with the bishop to correct Fr. Murphy's erroneous statement as to what the Church teaches. Bishop Lynch refused.
However, Bishop Lynch's predecessor, retired Bishop Thomas Larkin, issued an affidavit stating that Fr. Murphy had misrepresented the Catholic Church's position on end-of-life matters.
Only a retired army general and Roman Catholic priest, Msgr. Thaddeus Malanowski, visited Terri and comforted the family. He was the only priest in the diocese to do so.
In their book, the family expresses the support they felt when a year prior to the court-ordered execution of Terri, Pope John Paul II issued, a year before his own death, a statement reiterating the consistent teaching of the Catholic Church:
"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 . . . 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."
Terri's family instituted the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation (www.terrisfight.org) to work to protect the lives of medically vulnerable and disabled from the threat of euthanasia.
"We pray that Terri's foundation will save the life of other innocents," writes her family. "May our efforts help build a society that holds every life as sacred and worthy of our love and care. Terri's great sacrifice was not in vain. She touched the lives of millions of people throughout the world. Truly, hers was a life that matters."
To the editors,
Thirty-five years after Roe vs Wade, one might be inclined to think all the facts against abortion have been stated. Surely the pro-choice advocates have heard it all. Haven't they?
Perhaps not. In regards to President Obama's speech at Notre Dame, we must resist the temptation to throw blame around. Instead, let us look for a light in the President's speech, a way which will open up more insight and arguments against abortion. In the Catholic Church, support for abortion is under our noses. Our arguments need to go to another level.
An an example, I had to keep my hand over the picture of the aborted seven month-old baby boy while I read Fred Summe's column in the July issue. Why? Something in me elicited a cry. While I read, I kept struggling with the thought that "silent scream" images are passé. Aren't they? The pro-choice advocates are calloused toward them. Then I thought, I am kidding myself. We do not have the luxury of indulging our sensibilities. Images of slaughtered human beings need to stay until abortion is illegal. Still, I was silently wishing, since we all know "exactly" what abortion is, is the fight almost over? Have we exhausted the depths?
No, not so. In order to achieve a "just society," embracing and linking arms and celebrating "brotherhood," 54% of Catholics have paid a terrible price, the most pro-abortion president in this nation's history. We proclaim "liberty and justice for all." Look again. The unborn have neither. This picture of a headless, seven month-old innocent human being with broken limbs reveals the truth about our nation.
A light is the latest Gallup Poll, revealing 51% of Americans say they are pro-life. Another is the Life at Conception Act which is gaining momentum in Congress. Perhaps our true selves are finally getting to the evil truth about abortion. I hope and pray it is so but we still have to contemplate the mangled aborted child. It is darkest before the dawn. May God give us strength and courage until the day we can celebrate liberty and justice in their fullness for all humans, born and unborn.
Hot Springs, AR
To the editors,
I can barely contain the sadness in my heart for the doctor in Kansas and his family! Another senseless murder on behalf of those senselessly murdered! The sheer insanity of it all makes me plead to Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit to hasten Christ's return and make things right on earth.
To protest en masse, to gather in unity, full of prayer and love is the only way, save reminding our leaders by letter that we will not go away!
This past January, I had a "whispering" from the Trinity and the Spirit of God showed me a way to share His message and make it clear there are more of us out there than the throngs of chanting protesters. I've shared my revelation with the Holy Father, my Archbishop Kurtz in Louisville, and your archbishop in Cincinnati.
Peacefilled, Christ wants each parish to gather at 3 p.m. in their church on January 17, 2010. In hand, each parishioner (man, woman, and child) will bring a card or letter addressed to President Obama. The brief note in each will be hand written, asking Obama to end abortion and fetalstem cell research in America. No graphic pictures of aborted fetues or harsh words are to be used, only a simple plea in the name of Christ Jesus to end the atrocities!
Each parishioner will had deliver the stamped envelope to a basket at the altar and the Pastor will bless the contents with the elders of the church praying over the basket.
Next, the congregation is to follow the elders and priest outside to the nearest mailbox, where the youngest parishioners are to deposit handsful of letters in the box.
Next, the group as a whole, joyfully singing and clapping of hands, should gather at the church's hall where one large long table is set with food that each family has contributed. There, we are to celebrate the family Catholic and remind each other (old and young) just how precious we are! Parishioners who've never spoken will embrace and long-time disagreements will be amended!
This request from Jesus was delivered by Him and His mother to me. I've relayed that message to the Conference of Bishops in D.C.
You can help God deliver it to your readers!
In Jesus' name
Peace, Love, Joy, Hope,
Michael P. Davis
Yazoo City, MS
washington, d.c. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announced on August 7 that a one-hour documentary on women religious living under communists in Eastern Europe after World War II. They served as nurses, teachers, and care givers for orphans and the mentally ill.
"Interrupted Lives: Catholic Sisters Under European Communism" tells their story. The show is distributed Sunday, September 13, to ABC-TV stations (check local listings).
A USCCB press release states: "Interrupted Lives explores the experiences of Greek and Roman Catholic Sisters of Eastern and Central Europe who at the end of World War II were trapped under Soviet domination as Josef Stalin seized control.
"Until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, many of these religious women endured imprisonment, exile to Siberia, forced farm and factory labor, deportation, seizure of their schools and hospitals, and expulsion from their convents. Also included are interviews with 'secret sisters' who joined religious life during this Communist period and lived out their vocations in the underground. 'We are inspired and strengthened by the faith and commitment of these sisters who endured over forty years of oppression under communism,' says Sister of St. Joseph Margaret Nacke, one of the executive producers of the documentary.
"Filmed on location in Ukraine, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and the United States, Interrupted Lives documents their stories and takes viewers to the apartment buildings, prisons, concentration convents, and seized properties where Communism intersected with the sisters' lives.
"Interviews with Eastern European scholars as well as sisters offer a powerful testimony to the faith, courage, and endurance of these religious women. Their own stories raise awareness of those who still today undergo persecution for political or religious beliefs.
"Interrupted Lives: Catholic Sisters Under European Communism is part of the Vision & Values series created by the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission. Members include the National Catholic Churches of Christ, the Islamic Society of North America, a consortium of national Jewish organizations, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The program was produced by NewGroup Media, South Bend, Indiana, with Sister of St. Joseph Mary Savoie and Sister Nacke, as executive producers.
"The program was funded in part by the USCCB's Catholic Communication Campaign and Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe.
"The Catholic Communication Campaign is an activity of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that develops media programming, projects, and resources to promote Gospel values. Donations of Catholic parishioners make possible the work of the CCC.
"To order DVDs, call 1-800-234-USCC (8722). More information is available at www.usccb.org/ccc/projects.shtml.
(Source: USCCB press release)
washington, d.c. Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops indicated that Caritas in Veritate, the Pope's new encyclical, will provide help to those seeking the truth in today's world.
A July 7 USCCB press release reports that Cardinal George "commented July 7, when Pope Benedict issued to the world a letter that analyzes the current global economic crisis in light of traditional moral principles. The letter affirms the progress that has been made in world development yet notes that other challenges exist given newly emerging problems in the global society.
"The encyclical offers sound reflections on the vocation of human development as well as on the moral principles on which a global economy must be based. It challenges business enterprises, governments, unions and individuals to reexamine their economic responsibilities in the light of charity governed by truth.
"This third encyclical of Pope Benedict's papacy, Caritas in Veritate is a call to see the relationship between human and environmental ecologies, and to link charity and truth in the pursuit of justice, the common good and authentic human development. In doing so, the Pope points out the responsibilities and limitations of government and the private market, challenges traditional ideologies of right and left, and calls all men and women to think and act anew.
"As Pope Benedict noted the world's current financial straits, he declared that 'the current crisis obliges us to re-plan our journey, to set ourselves new rules and to discover new forms of commitment, to build on positive experiences, and to reject negative ones. The crisis thus becomes an opportunity for discernment, in which to shape a new vision for the future.' (Italics in document)"
(Source: USCCB press release)
If you are asking yourself, "What can one person do against the overwhelming culture of death?" there are many things. The Lord has raised up warriors on many fronts in this battle for life.
"Leave room for the Holy Spirit to work." Amarillo's Pro-life director, Rita Diller, says, "Empty yourself and be God's humble instrument so that His work may be accomplished."
Her bishop, Bishop John W. Yanta, initiated a campaign against the Planned Parenthood centers in his diocese and all 19 were gone in 12 years. It was basically just following Jesus' command to be clever as serpents and gentle as doves. It included both spiritual and political activism.
Catholics in Amarillo prayed at a weekly diocesan pro-life Mass, held prayer vigils at the Planned Parenthood centers and events, displayed Our Lady of Guadalupe's image and Jesus' message of forgiveness.
Diller included such visible witnesses as the Knights of Columbus and post-abortive women. They kept the police and newspapers informed while building a reputation with them of peaceful protest. They even confronted the Girl Scouts on their support of Planned Parenthood.
They went inside the abortion facilities to learn exactly what was going on in each one, attended Planned Parenthood events, got on their mailing lists. They could then speak specifically to the men and women thinking of having an abortion.
The pro-life, however, involves other life issues as well. Leslie Kuhlman is involved with the new Theology of the Body Teaching Center which opened just last January. Already this ministry has reached adults, teens, teachers, and engaged couples, spreading the truth about marriage. "God gave us the Theology of the Body because we need it," she says. Even in this culture of death everyone craves Love. They just need to know where to find Him.
Located in suburban Cincinnati, it combines a pastoral setting and the power of the Holy Spirit. Its website, www.ruahwoods.org, expresses this.
Although Joe Brinck is one of the co-founders of the center, he says, "There is no one silver bullet." He recommends everyone get and watch "Maafa21" by Mark Crutcher at Life Dynamics Inc. out of Denton, Texas. It is the most informative presentation of the workings of this century-old devilish conspiracy. Their motto is, "We're not here just to put up a good fight. We're here to win, because winning is how the killing stops."
Brinck also suggests that all Catholics visit the National Catholic Bioethics Center (www.ncbcenter.org) to keep informed, write informed letters to their congressmen and senators, and discuss the life issues with friends and co-workers.
The fight is not only for the rights of the unborn or the sanctity of marriage, but increasingly for the rights of the chronically or terminally ill, for all of us as we grow older.
"Human life is an inviolable gift from God." The NCBC website says, "Our love of God and His creation should cause us to shun any thought of violating this great gift through suicide or euthanasia." It quotes Wisdom 1:13, "God did not make death, nor does He rejoice in the destruction of the living. For He fashioned all things that they may have being."
He also recommends Missionaries of the Gospel of Life, based on Fr. Frank Pavone's Priests for Life (www.priestsforlife.org/missionary/), but expanded for the laity.
The Coalition for Life recently led another Forty Days for Life in 144 cities in 44 states. The Cenacles of Life emphasize fasting one day a week on bread and water and praying ten decades of the rosary "to transform the face of the earth and to defeat this war on life."
Although some of these initiatives have grown to national and international outreaches, Brinck recommends fighting the fight locally in what ever way God calls you to do. This is what is called the principle of subsidiarity, working on the lowest necessary level, for even the least in the Kingdom of God is vital.
(Editor's note: Mr. Lau writes from Florida. We welcome contributions from prisoners. We would like to hear from a variety of prisoners.)
Seek out the Lord
Hold on forever
Promises made to be broken
Make them never
A world without Christ
There can be no realization
Don't even try living up to
No matter how hopeless your life may seem
Hold the Lord Jesus Christ
In your heart and dreams . . .
The first World Humanitarian Day was observed August 19. The United Nations General Assembly established this day in December, 2008.
Caritas Internationalis, the international Catholic relief agency, stressed in a press release that "governments must honor their commitments to allow aid agencies access to vulnerable communities on the first World Humanitarian Day."
The press release said: "The designation of the Day is a way to increase public understanding of humanitarian assistance activities worldwide. It is in part dedicated to the memory of all those aid workers who have lost their lives while bringing assistance to others, the majority of them from the communities they are trying to help.
"Caritas says its ability to bring support to the most vulnerable people in conflicts has been severely restricted by the actions of governments over the last 18 months.
"Caritas Internationalis Humanitarian Director Alistair Dutton said, 'From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, Georgia to Gaza, Sri Lanka to Sudan, we're seeing the erosion of one of the central pillars of humanitarianism: Aid agencies must be allowed to reach the most vulnerable people in conflicts. Governments must use this first World Humanitarian Day to reassert their commitment to safeguarding this principle as part of their obligations under the Geneva Conventions.
"Two hundred sixty humanitarians were victims of murder, kidnapping, and serious injury in 2008. Compared to 1998 when 69 humanitarians were involved in security incidents. Caritas united in sorrow for the staff of its members and of partners who were killed as they sought to bring peace in 2009. These include 'Raj' Anthonipillai Uthayaraj, 26, a volunteer driver killed in Sri Lanka in the no-fire zone on May 8 and Caritas France's Ricky Agusa Sukaka, 27, who was shot dead in the Democratic Republic of Congo on July 15. Caritas Vanni Director Rev. Fr. T.R. Vasanthaseelan and Rev. Fr. James Pathinathan were seriously injured in shelling in Sri Lanka in April."
The world continues to be challenged to provide humanitarian aid in response to disasters (natural and man-made). The Humanitarian Affairs segment of the United Nations Economic and Social Council met to consider such issues in Geneva, Switzerland, in July. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's Permanent Observer to the UN in Geneva, addressed the group on July 20. His address follows:
One must see God in everyone.
— St. Catherine Labouré
"Natural and man-made disasters affect millions of persons each year and no region of the world is exempted. In particular, chronic armed conflicts have devastated societies in various corners of the globe, with innumerable civilian victims. The Holy See, therefore, welcomes the present humanitarian dialogue as an opportunity to yet again highlight the continued challenges and the need for an effective and coherent globalized response, guided by sound policy directives such as solidarity and the promotion of the inherent dignity of all. In this way, the right of persons, their families and communities to humanitarian assistance, and of care providers to unhindered access to these people in need of basic social, physical, and spiritual attention, acquires a solid foundation and a motivation for action. While, for example, the year 2008 saw a decline in the number of refugees, still over 10 million men, women and children continue to live in refugee camps and 26 million remain internally displaced due to past and recent conflicts, insecurity and persecution. Asylum-seekers, irregular migrants, uprooted people looking for survival, and victims of natural disasters and climate change are confined in hundreds of detention centers and makeshift camps. Although far from the media spotlight, these untenable situations wreak an immeasurable physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual pain and lead to the breaking of the social fabric, destruction of families and communities, jeopardizing reconciliation, and threaten the lives of thousands of innocent civilians.
"The primary responsibility of protecting the lives of civilians lies first and foremost with the national authorities and parties engaged in an armed conflict. While the international community strives to prevent the eruption of conflicts, it is imperative that all parties recognize their responsibility for protecting the lives of civilians in areas under their jurisdiction or control and comply with and fully respect the rules and principles of international humanitarian law, among them, those related to the protection of humanitarian personnel and the unimpeded access to people in need. Further, in areas of natural disasters, States must work to promote, and allow access to, life-saving measures without using them for political control or to condition a political guarantee of impunity for violation of human rights. The common good should be the guiding principle and the international humanitarian law should be implemented in all circumstances and without any condition.
"At the same time, the international community remains a vital and indispensable actor in assisting the national authorities to respond to crises and, where these are unable to do so, it is called to provide access to emergency and life-saving regional and international actors. Naturally, in coordinating this internationalized response, the United Nations position places it in a unique role, with unique responsibilities to promote coordination and coherence for effective action and responsible management of available resources while preserving the basic humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality, and humanity. Besides, by respecting subsidiarity and the ability of local groups and individuals, this coordination can better identify and implement a humanitarian strategy that would reach the people most in need. It is these local organizations, often faith-based, present on the ground before disaster strikes, that will be the ones present long after the international community has directed its focus of attention on to other crises. The Holy See Delegation, therefore, stresses the essential role of the civil society in situations of emergency and the need for policies to be adopted in a way which recognizes their long-term contribution and enables their capacity to respond to the needs of all.
"New and old challenges have undermined the capacity and effectiveness of humanitarian actors to respond and provide assistance to millions of victims. The food crisis has led to a decrease in food distribution in famine areas, in camps and detention centers; the energy crises have added drastically to the cost of providing aid over long distances; and now the global economic crisis risks reducing funding to public and civil society, humanitarian agencies, and organizations. The Holy See notes with appreciation that many States continue with generosity to shoulder the responsibility to assist, economic crisis notwithstanding. Failure to remain in solidarity with and provide for people in humanitarian crises during this difficult time will lead only to social and political instability which undermines society and its ability to come together and resolve the economic crisis . . .
"My Delegation further calls on national authorities and groups in armed conflict to respect the rules of international humanitarian law, in particular the applicable Geneva Conventions and its optional protocols. The continued sexual violence perpetrated against women and girls within and around refugee camps violates all standards of international law and leads to the emotional, physical, and mental devastation of these women which cannot be justified under any circumstances. Further, greater efforts must be made to provide for and ensure access to prisoners of war and others placed in various forms of detention. Deprivation of freedom, of the right to work, to family reunion, to education, and personal development, among other human rights, cannot be simply discarded in emergencies. Camps and detention centers are meant to be temporary provisions and places where access is open and the dignity of persons remains a priority. With the cooperation of all actors, the international humanitarian community will retain the freedom to act in accordance with its mandates and principles, which should not be compromised by government interference.
"The Holy See remains committed to addressing the needs of all individuals affected by humanitarian and man-made crises regardless of ethnicity and religious creed. Through its many institutions, it remains deeply involved in non-partisan humanitarian assistance and looks forward to sharing its best practices and ideas with other stakeholders. Guiding principles of assistance both in natural and human-made disasters need to be implemented but before all, we must put at the center of all our interventions the person and her material, psychological, and spiritual needs."
"I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered for all men, especially for kings and those in authority, that we may be able to lead undisturbed and tranquil lives."
— 1 Tm 2:1-2
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