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My People

Vol. 23, Issue 12, December 2010

"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


O Come Let Us Adore Him!

“When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us; not because of any righteous deeds we had done, but because of His mercy.  He saved us through the baptism of new birth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.  This Spirit He lavished on us through Jesus Christ our Savior, that we might be justified by His grace and become heirs, in hope, of eternal life.  You can depend on this to be true.”  (Titus 3:4-8)

Pray For Peace In The Middle East

The Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops concluded with a Mass in Vatican City on October 24. Pope Benedict XVI's homily follows:

"Two weeks from the opening Celebration, we are gathered once again on the Lord's day, at the Altar of the Confession in St. Peter's Basilica, to conclude the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops. In our hearts is a deep gratitude towards God Who has afforded us this truly extraordinary experience, not just for us, but for the good of the Church, for the People of God who live in the lands between the Mediterranean and Mesopotamia. As Bishop of Rome, I would like to express my gratitude to you, Venerable Synod Fathers: Cardinals, Patriarchs, Archbishops, Bishops. I wish to especially thank the Secretary General, the four Presidents Delegate, the Relator General, the Special Secretary, and all the collaborators, who have worked tirelessly in these days. This morning we left the Synod Hall and came to 'the temple to pray': in this, we are touched directly by the parable of the pharisee and the publican, told by Jesus and recounted by the Evangelist St. Luke (cf. 18:9-14). We too may be tempted, like the pharisee, to tell God of our merits, perhaps thinking of our work during these days. However, to rise up to Heaven, prayer must emanate from a poor, humble heart. And therefore we too, at the conclusion of this ecclesial event, wish to first and foremost give thanks to God, not for our merits, but for the gift that He has given us. We recognize ourselves as small and in need of salvation, of mercy; we recognize all that comes from Him and that only with His Grace we may realize what the Holy Spirit told us. Only in this manner may we 'return home' truly enriched, made more just and more able to walk in the path of the Lord.

"The First Reading and the responsorial Psalm stress the theme of prayer, emphasizing that it is much more powerful to God's heart when those who pray are in a condition of need and are afflicted. 'The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds' affirms Ecclesiasticus (35:21); and the Psalmist adds: 'Yahweh is near to the broken-hearted, He helps those whose spirit is crushed' (34:18). Our thoughts go to our numerous brothers and sisters who live in the region of the Middle East and who find themselves in trying situations, at times very burdensome, both for the material poverty and for the discouragement, the state of tension and at times of fear. Today the Word of God also offers us a light of consoling hope, there where He presents prayer, personified, that 'until He has eliminated the hordes of the arrogant and broken the sceptres of the wicked, until He has repaid all people as their deeds deserve and human actions as their intentions merit' (Ecc 35:21-22). This link too, between prayer and justice makes us think of many situations in the world, particularly in the Middle East. The cry of the poor and oppressed finds an immediate echo in God, Who desires to intervene to open up a way out, to restore a future of freedom, a horizon of hope.

"This faith in God Who is near, Who frees His friends, is what the Apostle Paul witnesses to in today's epistle, in the Second Letter to Timothy. Realizing that the end of his earthly life was near, Paul makes an assessment: 'I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith' (2 Tm 4:7). For each one of us, dear brothers in the episcopacy, this is a model to imitate: may Divine Goodness allow us to make a similar judgment of ourselves! St. Paul continues, 'the Lord stood by me and gave me power, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed for all the gentiles to hear' (2 Tm 4:17). It is a word which resounds with particular strength on this Sunday in which we celebrate World Mission Day! Communion with Jesus crucified and risen, witness of His love. The Apostle's experience is a model for every Christian, especially for us Shepherds. We have shared a powerful moment of ecclesial communion. We now leave each other so that each may return to his own mission, but we know that we remain united, we remain in His love.

"The Synodal Assembly which concludes today has always kept in mind the icon of the first Christian community, described in the Acts of the Apostles: 'The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul' (Acts 4:32). It is a reality that we experienced in these past days, in which we have shared the joys and the pains, the concerns and the hopes of Christians in the Middle East. We experienced the unity of the Church in the variety of Churches present in that region. Led by the Holy Spirit, we became 'united, heart and soul' in faith, in hope, and in charity, most of all during the Eucharistic celebrations, source and summit of ecclesial communion, and in the Liturgy of the Hours as well, celebrated every morning according to one of the seven Catholic rites of the Middle East. We have thus enhanced the liturgical, spiritual, and theological wealth of the Eastern Catholic Churches, as well as of the Latin Church. It involved an exchange of precious gifts, from which all the Synodal Fathers benefited. It is hoped that this positive experience repeats itself in the respective communities of the Middle East, encouraging the participation of the faithful in liturgical celebrations of other Catholic rites, thus opening themselves to the dimensions of the Universal Church.

"Common prayer helped us to face the challenges of the Catholic Church in the Middle East as well. One of these is communion within each sui iuris Church, as well as in the relationships between the various Catholic Churches of different traditions. As today's Gospel reminded us (cf. Lk 18:9-14), we need humility, in order to recognize our limitations, our errors, and omissions, in order to be able to truly be 'united, heart and soul.' A fuller communion within the Catholic Church favors ecumenical dialogue with other Churches and ecclesial communities as well. The Catholic Church reiterated in this Synodal meeting its deep conviction to pursuing such dialogue as well, so that the prayer of the Lord Jesus might be completely fulfilled: 'May they all be one' (Jn 17:21).

"The words of the Lord Jesus may be applied to Christians in the Middle East: 'There is no need to be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom' (Lk 12:32). Indeed, even if they are few, they are bearers of the Good News of the love of God for man, love which revealed itself in the Holy Land in the person of Jesus Christ. This Word of salvation, strengthened with the grace of the Sacraments, resounds with particular potency in the places in which, by Divine Providence, it was written, and it is the only Word which is able to break that vicious circle of vengeance, hate, and violence. From a purified heart, in peace with God and neighbor, may intentions and initiatives for peace at local, national, and international levels be born. In these actions, to whose accomplishment the whole international community is called, Christians as full-fledged citizens can and must do their part with the spirit of the Beatitudes, becoming builders of peace and apostles of reconciliation to the benefit of all society.

"Conflicts, wars, violence, and terrorism have gone on for too long in the Middle East. Peace, which is a gift of God, is also the result of the efforts of men of goodwill, of the national and international institutions, in particular of the states most involved in the search for a solution to conflicts. We must never resign ourselves to the absence of peace. Peace is possible. Peace is urgent. Peace is the indispensable condition for a life worthy of humanity and society. Peace is also the best remedy to avoid emigration from the Middle East. 'Pray for the peace of Jerusalem' we are told in the Psalm (122:6). We pray for peace in the Holy Land. We pray for peace in the Middle East, undertaking to try to ensure that this gift of God to men of goodwill should spread through the whole world.

"Another contribution that Christians can bring to society is the promotion of an authentic freedom of religion and conscience, one of the fundamental human rights that each state should always respect. In numerous countries of the Middle East there exists freedom of belief, while the space given to the freedom to practice religion is often quite limited. Increasing this space of freedom becomes essential to guarantee to all the members of the various religious communities the true freedom to live and profess their faith. This topic could become the subject of dialogue between Christians and Muslims, a dialogue whose urgency and usefulness was reiterated by the Synodal Fathers.

"During the work of the Synod what was often underlined was the need to offer the Gospel anew to people who do not know it very well or who have even moved away from the Church. What was often evoked was the need for a new evangelization for the Middle East as well. This was quite a widespread theme, especially in the countries where Christianity has ancient roots. The recent creation of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization also responds to this profound need. For this reason, after having consulted the episcopacy of the whole world and after having listened to the Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, I have decided to dedicate the next Ordinary General Assembly, in 2012, to the following theme: 'Nova evangelizatio ad christianam fidem tradendam — The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.'

"Dear brothers and sisters of the Middle East! May the experience of these days assure you that you are never alone, that you are always accompanied by the Holy See and the whole Church, which, having been born in Jerusalem, spread through the Middle East and then the rest of the world. We entrust the results of the Special Assembly for the Middle East, as well as the preparation for the Ordinary General Assembly, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, and Queen of Peace. Amen."

Christians Challenged To Open Hearts To Refugees

Pope Benedict XVI called the Church to consider the issue of migration and the need for conversion and implementation of the Church's social teaching. In his message for the 97th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, dated September 27, the Pope said:

"The World Day of Migrants and Refugees offers the whole Church an opportunity to reflect on a theme linked to the growing phenomenon of migration, to pray that hearts may open to Christian welcome, and to the effort to increase in the world justice and charity, pillars on which to build an authentic and lasting peace. 'As I have loved you, so you also should love one another' (Jn 13:34), is the invitation that the Lord forcefully addresses to us and renews us constantly: if the Father calls us to be beloved children in His dearly beloved Son, He also calls us to recognize each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

“The virgin shall be with child and give birth to a son, and they shall call Him Emmanuel,”
a name which means  “God is with us.”  (Mt 1:23)

"This profound link between all human beings is the origin of the theme that I have chosen for our reflection this year: 'One human family,' one family of brothers and sisters in societies that are becoming ever more multiethnic and intercultural, where also people of various religions are urged to take part in dialogue, so that a serene and fruitful coexistence with respect for legitimate differences may be found. The Second Vatican Council affirms that 'All peoples are one community and have one origin, because God caused the whole human race to dwell on the face of the earth (cf. Acts 17:26); they also have one final end, God' (Message for the World Day of Peace, 2008, 1). 'His providence, His manifestations of goodness, His saving design extend to all men' (Declaration Nostra aetate, 1). Thus, 'We do not live alongside one another purely by chance; all of us are progressing along a common path as men and women, and thus as brothers and sisters' (Message for the World Day of Peace, 2008, 6).

"The road is the same, that of life, but the situations that we pass through on this route are different: many people have to face the difficult experience of migration in its various forms: internal or international, permanent or seasonal, economic or political, voluntary or forced. In various cases the departure from their Country is motivated by different forms of persecution, so that escape becomes necessary. Moreover, the phenomenon of globalization itself, characteristic of our epoch, is not only a social and economic process, but also entails 'humanity itself [that] is becoming increasingly interconnected,' crossing geographical and cultural boundaries. In this regard, the Church does not cease to recall that the deep sense of this epochal process and its fundamental ethical criterion are given by the unity of the human family and its development towards what is good (cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Caritas in veritate, 42). All, therefore, belong to one family, migrants and the local populations that welcome them, and all have the same right to enjoy the goods of the earth whose destination is universal, as the social doctrine of the Church teaches. It is here that solidarity and sharing are founded.

" 'In an increasingly globalized society, the common good and the effort to obtain it cannot fail to assume the dimensions of the whole human family, that is to say, the community of peoples and nations, in such a way as to shape the earthly city in unity and peace, rendering it to some degree an anticipation and a prefiguration of the undivided city of God' (Benedict XVI, Encyclical Caritas in veritate, 7). This is also the perspective with which to look at the reality of migration. In fact, as the Servant of God Paul VI formerly noted, 'the weakening of brotherly ties between individuals and nations' (Encyclical Populorum progressio, 66), is a profound cause of underdevelopment and – we may add – has a major impact on the migration phenomenon. Human brotherhood is the, at times surprising, experience of a relationship that unites, of a profound bond with the other, different from me, based on the simple fact of being human beings. Assumed and lived responsibly, it fosters a life of communion and sharing with all and in particular with migrants; it supports the gift of self to others, for their good, for the good of all, in the local, national, and world political communities.

"Venerable John Paul II, on the occasion of this same Day celebrated in 2001, emphasized that '[the universal common good] includes the whole family of peoples, beyond every nationalistic egoism. The right to emigrate must be considered in this context. The Church recognizes this right in every human person, in its dual aspect of the possibility to leave one's country, and the possibility to enter another country to look for better conditions of life' (Message for World Day of Migration, 2001, 3; cf. John XXIII, Encyclical Mater et Magistra, 30; Paul VI, Encyclical Octogesima adveniens, 17). At the same time, States have the right to regulate migration flows and to defend their own frontiers, always guaranteeing the respect due to the dignity of each and every human person. Immigrants, moreover, have the duty to integrate into the host Country, respecting its laws and its national identity. 'The challenge is to combine the welcome due to every human being, especially when in need, with a reckoning of what is necessary for both the local inhabitants and the new arrivals to live a dignified and peaceful life' (World Day of Peace, 2001, 13).

"In this context, the presence of the Church, as the People of God journeying through history among all the other peoples, is a source of trust and hope. Indeed the Church is 'in Christ like a sacrament or as a sign and instrument both of a very closely knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race' (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 1); and through the action within her of the Holy Spirit, 'the effort to establish a universal brotherhood is not a hopeless one' (Idem, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 38). It is the Holy Eucharist in particular that constitutes, in the heart of the Church, an inexhaustible source of communion for the whole of humanity. It is thanks to this that the People of God includes 'every nation, race, people, and tongue' (Rv 7:9), not with a sort of sacred power but with the superior service of charity. In fact the exercise of charity, especially for the poorest and weakest, is the criterion that proves the authenticity of the Eucharistic celebration (cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Mane nobiscum Domine, 28).

"The situation of refugees and of the other forced migrants, who are an important part of the migration phenomenon, should be specifically considered in the light of the theme 'One human family.' For these people who flee from violence and persecution the International Community has taken on precise commitments. Respect of their rights, as well as the legitimate concern for security and social coherence, foster a stable and harmonious coexistence.

"Also in the case of those who are forced to migrate, solidarity is nourished by the 'reserve' of love that is born from considering ourselves a single human family and, for the Catholic faithful, members of the Mystical Body of Christ: in fact we find ourselves depending on each other, all responsible for our brothers and sisters in humanity and, for those who believe, in the faith. As I have already had the opportunity to say, 'Welcoming refugees and giving them hospitality is for everyone an imperative gesture of human solidarity, so that they may not feel isolated because of intolerance and disinterest' (General Audience, June 20, 2007: Insegnamenti II, 1 [2007], 1158). This means that those who are forced to leave their homes or their country will be helped to find a place where they may live in peace and safety, where they may work and take on the rights and duties that exist in the Country that welcomes them, contributing to the common good and without forgetting the religious dimension of life.

"Lastly, I would like to address a special thought, again accompanied by prayer, to the foreign and international students who are also a growing reality within the great migration phenomenon. This, as well, is a socially important category with a view to their return, as future leaders, to their Countries of origin. They constitute cultural and economic 'bridges' between these Countries and the host Countries, and all this goes precisely in the direction of forming 'one human family.' This is the conviction that must support the commitment to foreign students and must accompany attention to their practical problems, such as financial difficulties or the hardship of feeling alone in facing a very different social and university context, as well as the difficulties of integration. In this regard, I would like to recall that 'to belong to a university community . . . is to stand at the crossroads of the cultures that have formed the modern world' (John Paul II, To the Bishops of the United States of America of the Ecclesiastical Provinces of Chicago, Indianapolis and Milwaukee on their ad limina visit, May 30, 1998, 6: Insegnamenti XXI, 1 [1998] 1116). At school and at university the culture of the new generations is formed: their capacity to see humanity as a family called to be united in diversity largely depends on these institutions.

"Dear brothers and sisters, the world of migrants is vast and diversified. It knows wonderful and promising experiences, as well as, unfortunately, so many others that are tragic and unworthy of the human being and of societies that claim to be civil. For the Church this reality constitutes an eloquent sign of our times which further highlights humanity's vocation to form one family, and, at the same time, the difficulties which, instead of uniting it, divide it and tear it apart. Let us not lose hope and let us together pray God, the Father of all, to help us – each in the first person – to be men and women capable of brotherly relationships and, at the social, political, and institutional levels, so that understanding and reciprocal esteem among peoples and cultures may increase. With these hopes, as I invoke the intercession of Mary Most Holy, Stella Maris, I cordially impart the Apostolic Blessing to all and, especially, to migrants and refugees and to everyone who works in this important field."

In Defense of Life: Pro-Life News

Fred H. Summe
Fred H. Summe is Vice President of Northern Kentucky Right to Life, P.O. Box 1202, Covington, Kentucky 41012

by Fred H. Summe

There are many good resources that pro-lifers can tap into to keep abreast of current developments in our battle with the culture of death. The following are some excerpts, addressing different topics of interest.

Defunding Embryonic Stem Cell Research

In August, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth granted an injunction banning federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, overturning both President Obama's and former President Bush's guidelines for research on embryonic stem cells.

As reported in NLA Brief, published by the National Lawyers Association: "James S. Sherley, a biological engineer at Boston Biomedical Research Institute, and Theresa Deisher, of Ave Maria Biotechnology Company, contend that the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, which was first passed in 1996 and has been renewed every year since as a rider to appropriation bills for the Department of Health and Human Services, explicitly forbids funding for hESC (Human Embryo Stem Cell) research. President Bush and President Obama differed on their views on the destruction of human embryos for research." [Bush banned federal funding for the development of and/or research on new stem cell lines, but not existing ones. Obama removed the limited restriction of Bush.]

"However, they did agree that destroying them and using the by-products were two entirely different issues. All subsequent regulation has rested upon that assumption. No federal funding has ever been made available for the destruction of embryos, but work on embryonic stem cells was supported by both presidents, albeit to different extents.

"But Judge Lamberth firmly declared that this assumption is wrong.

"Despite defendants' attempt to separate the derivation of ESCs from research on the ESCs, the two cannot be separated. Derivation of ESCs from an embryo is an integral step in conducting ESC research. If one step or 'piece of research' of an ESC research project results in the destruction of an embryo, the entire project is precluded from receiving federal funding by the Dickey-Wicker Amendment.

"As the Vatican pointed out in 2008 in a discerning document on reproductive technology, Dignitas Personae, scientists cannot build an ethical firewall between how material is obtained and what they do with it. A 'person who says that he does not approve of the injustice perpetrated by others, but at the same time accepts for his own work the "biological material" which the others have obtained by means of that injustice' contradicts himself."

Witness to Truth

Printed in Lay Witness, published by Catholics United for the Faith, is the following excerpt from the address to the 2010 National Meeting of the Institute on Religious Life, given by Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, and former Archbishop of St. Louis:

"The United States of America bears a particularly heavy responsibility to the world in giving witness to the truth. As an Italian prelate observed to me some months ago, our nation is still Christian, and the battle against secularism has not yet been completely lost in the United States as it seemingly has been lost in Europe. Europe is looking to the United States to see that indeed the battle against secularism can be won.

"I urge you, in particular, to assist the lay faithful – above all, politicians and elected representatives, government officials, and ministers of justice who are Catholic – to give a coherent witness to the truth of the moral law, written by God into His creation and upon every human heart. Catholics are in positions of leadership in our nation to an extent that I would never have dreamed as I was growing up in the 1950s. The vice president, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, five justices of the Supreme Court, and some 140 or so senators and congressmen say that they are Catholics. It cannot be that Our Lord has given Catholics such positions of leadership in order that they may betray the truth of the natural moral law, cooperate in the wholesale killing of the innocent and defenseless unborn, in the artificial generation and destruction of embryonic human life, in the violation of the integrity of the marital union, and in the denial of fundamental rights of conscience.

"On the other hand, what a force for the transformation of our nation they could be, if they would be faithful and strong in the safeguarding of the truth about the inviolable dignity of all human life, the integrity of the union of one man and one woman in marriage for the procreation of new human life, and the sanctity of the rightly formed conscience.

"Now is the time for us all and, in particular, for consecrated persons to stand up for the truth and to call upon our fellow Catholics in leadership to do the same or to cease identifying themselves as Catholics."

Pope Calls Upon Brazilian Bishops to Speak Out

In a speech delivered to a group of Brazilian bishops presented in Rome for a regularly scheduled visit, Pope Benedict XVI stated that "in defending life we should not fear opposition and unpopularity, refusing any compromise and ambiguity that conforms us to the mentality of this world," reports

"Any defense of political, economic, and social human rights that does not include the energetic defense of the right to life from conception to natural death is totally false and illusory," the Pope also said, adding that "regarding efforts on behalf of the weakest and the most defenseless, who is more helpless than an unborn child or a sick person in a vegetative or terminal state?"

Benedict also stressed the importance of educating Catholics about their faith, and their social obligations, particularly with regard to the right to vote, noting that "on certain occasions, pastors should remind all citizens of the right, which is also an obligation, to freely use the vote itself for the promotion of the common good."

As reported in another article published by

The "failure of the Catholic bishops" to teach on life issues is "directly responsible for great confusion and, consequently, for the failure of the overwhelming majority of Catholics, both clerical and lay, to provide truly effective resistance to the greatest legalized slaughter of human beings in the history of the world," said John Smeaton, national director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (United Kingdom). "Countless millions of unborn children are being killed each year and the policy of very many Catholic bishops is contributing hugely to this deplorable situation."

Population Controls

At the September 2010 United Nations summit of heads of state, gathered to discuss the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, warned against using the goals as a pretext for population control:

"Any attempt to use MDGs to spread and impose egoistic lifestyles or, worse still, population policies, as a cheap means to reduce the number of poor people would be malevolent and short-sighted. I say this, not just as a religious leader, but also as an African and a man coming from a poor family. I urge the international community not to be afraid of the poor. MDGs should be used to fight poverty and not to eliminate the poor! Instead, give poor countries a friendly financial and trade mainframe and help them to promote good governance and the participation of civil society, and Africa and the other poor regions of the world will effectively contribute to the welfare of all." The Catholic World Report

World Needs To Unite Against Hunger

Pope Benedict XVI continued his tradition of writing the head of the United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organization to mark World Food Day (October 16). The Holy Father sent a letter, dated October 15, to Mr. Jacques Diouf, Director General. The letter follows:

"The annual celebration of World Food Day is an occasion to draw up a balance-sheet of all that has been achieved through the commitment of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to guarantee daily food for millions of our brothers and sisters throughout the world. It also provides a suitable occasion to note the difficulties that are encountered when the necessary attitudes of solidarity are lacking.

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.  You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing . . . for a child is born to us, a Son is given us; upon His shoulder dominion rests.  They name Him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.”  (Is 9:1-2,5)

"Too often, attention is diverted from the needs of populations, insufficient emphasis is placed on work in the fields, and the goods of the earth are not given adequate protection. As a result, economic imbalance is produced, and the inalienable rights and dignity of every human person are ignored.

"The theme of this year's World Food Day, United against Hunger, is a timely reminder that everyone needs to make a commitment to give the agricultural sector its proper importance. Everyone – from individuals to the organizations of civil society, States and international institutions – needs to give priority to one of the most urgent goals for the human family: freedom from hunger. In order to achieve freedom from hunger it is necessary to ensure not only that enough food is available, but also that everyone has daily access to it: this means promoting whatever resources and infrastructures are necessary in order to sustain production and distribution on a scale sufficient to guarantee fully the right to food.

"The efforts to achieve this goal will surely help to build up the unity of the human family throughout the world. Concrete initiatives are needed, informed by charity, and inspired by truth – initiatives that are capable of overcoming natural obstacles linked to the cycles of the seasons or to environmental conditions, as well as man-made obstacles. Charity, practiced in the light of truth, can bring an end to divisions and conflicts so as to allow the goods of the earth to pass between peoples in a lively and continuous exchange.

"An important step forward was the international community's recent decision to protect the right to water which, as FAO has always maintained, is essential to human nutrition, to rural activities, and to the conservation of nature. Indeed, as my venerable predecessor Pope John Paul II observed in his Message for the 2002 World Food Day, many different religions and cultures recognize a symbolic value in water, from which there 'springs an invitation to be fully aware of the importance of this precious commodity, and consequently to revise present patterns of behavior in order to guarantee, today and in the future, that all people shall have access to the water indispensable for their needs, and that productive activities, and agriculture in particular, shall enjoy adequate levels of this priceless resource' (Message for the 2002 World Food Day, October 13, 2002).

"If the international community is to be truly 'united' against hunger, then poverty must be overcome through authentic human development, based on the idea of the person as a unity of body, soul, and spirit. Today, though, there is a tendency to limit the vision of development to one that satisfies the material needs of the person, especially through access to technology; yet authentic development is not simply a function of what a person 'has,' it must also embrace higher values of fraternity, solidarity, and the common good.

"Amid the pressures of globalization, under the influence of interests that often remain fragmented, it is wise to propose a model of development built on fraternity: if it is inspired by solidarity and directed towards the common good, it will be able to provide correctives to the current global crisis. In order to sustain levels of food security in the short term, adequate funding must be provided so as to make it possible for agriculture to reactivate production cycles, despite the deterioration of climactic and environmental conditions. These conditions, it must be said, have a markedly negative impact on rural populations, crop systems, and working patterns, especially in countries that are already afflicted with food shortages. Developed countries have to be aware that the world's growing needs require consistent levels of aid from them. They cannot simply remain closed towards others: such an attitude would not help to resolve the crisis.

"In this context, FAO has the essential task of examining the issue of world hunger at the institutional level and proposing particular initiatives that involve its member States in responding to the growing demand for food. Indeed, the nations of the world are called to give and to receive in proportion to their effective needs, by reason of that 'pressing moral need for renewed solidarity, especially in relationships between developing countries and those that are highly industrialized' (Caritas in Veritate, 49).

"The recent worthy campaign '1 Billion Hungry,' by which FAO seeks to raise awareness of the urgency of the fight against hunger, has highlighted the need for an adequate response both from individual countries and from the international community, even when the response is limited to assistance or emergency aid. This is why a reform of international institutions according to the principle of subsidiarity is essential, since 'institutions by themselves are not enough, because integral human development is primarily a vocation, and therefore it involves a free assumption of responsibility in solidarity on the part of everyone' (ibid., 11).

'In order to eliminate hunger and malnutrition, obstacles of self-interest must be overcome so as to make room for a fruitful gratuitousness, manifested in international cooperation as an expression of genuine fraternity. This does not obviate the need for justice, though, and it is important that existing rules be respected and implemented, in addition to whatever plans for intervention and programs of action may prove necessary. Individuals, peoples, and countries must be allowed to shape their own development, taking advantage of external assistance in accordance with priorities and concepts rooted in their traditional techniques, in their culture, in their religious patrimony, and in the wisdom passed on from generation to generation within the family.

"Invoking the blessing of the Almighty upon the activities of FAO, I wish to assure you, Mr. Director General, that the Church is always ready to work for the defeat of hunger. Indeed, she is constantly at work, through her own structures, to alleviate the poverty and deprivation afflicting large parts of the world's population, and she is fully conscious that her own engagement in this field forms part of a common international effort to promote unity and peace among the community of peoples."

Book Shares Christmas Customs

by Michael Halm

Reginald Holme, one of the authors of Christmas Around the World, gives many different ways in which to make the Christmas season more meaningful.

He shares about how a Sunday school in Japan thanked their policemen with flowers and cake at Christmas and told them the true meaning of Christmas.

Holme quotes one student who was also touched who said, "Before last Christmas I experienced Christmas only as enjoying myself and I held parties with my friends and feasted. Now I take delight in serving others."

The author also tells of Don Richardson, a Canadian missionary who converted the Sawi of New Guinea. They had a custom of exchanging children to ensure peace. When Richardson told them about God sending His Son as a Peace Child for all tribes they accepted it.

Holme starts his Christmas customs chapter by noting that even the date of the holiday varies between peoples. It is not just one day but a Christmas season. Catholics, since the 4th century, begin celebrating Christ's birth on Christmas Eve, December 24. Greeks, Syrians, and Ethiopians still celebrate on Epiphany, January 6, and the Armenians as late as January 18.

In pre-Communist Ukraine he tells his readers there was the tradition of fasting for 39 days before Christmas. When the first star was seen, the 12-course supper began, including fish, beet soup, stuffed cabbage, and cooked dried fruit.

During the first week of Advent in Bavaria St. Nicholas visits, but children receive gifts from the Christkind (Christ Child). In Westphalia is the custom of writing letters to the Christ Child.

When St. Nicholas (feast December 6) visits Holland, accompanied by Black Peter, gifts are given, and hot punch or chocolate served.

On December 13, in Sweden a daughter in the family dresses as St. Lucia and serves the rest of the family, escorted by her brothers, the "Star Boys."

On December 16 Mexicans begins a novena, a time of the pilgrimage to posadas (lodgings) imitating Joseph and Mary's journey to Bethlehem. After being turned away the procession ends that night with prayers followed by refreshments, music, and dancing.

In Norway a thaw after the first heavy snowfall is called the "biscuit thaw" because of the heat from all the Christmas biscuits being baked.

Sicilians fast from sunset to sunset the day before Christmas Eve. After carols and songs before the crechι comes a feast of eels, fish, pasta, and sweet bread. Italians eat no meat for 24 hours before Christmas Eve, Holme writes, "But there follows a meal as big as the family can afford."

Christmas Eve is called "Dipping Day" in Sweden from the custom of dipping rye bread in the Christmas ham drippings. In Ireland the youngest child lights the window candle for the Holy Family on Christmas Eve and caraway seed cakes are baked.

Hungarians feast and give presents on Christmas Eve before the evening meal with seeded rolls, dumplings, or biscuits.

In Greece Mass starts before sunrise on Christmas. The meal afterward includes Christ's Bread decorated with nuts.

In Urdu and Punjabi Christmas Day is called Bara Din, "the Big Day." In Southern India "The host however poor," Holme writes, "will try to bring out a thali or tray filled with chunks of sweetmeat for the 40 to 50 people crowded on his verandah," some even his non-Christian neighbors.

In Finland Christmas Day is celebrated with gingerbread in many shapes and spiced red wine with raisins. In Greenland the men serve the women coffee and cake, rather than the other way around. Everyone in the village gets a gift as children go from hut to hut singing carols.

The Venerable Bede wrote that the English began their year on December 25. Joseph of Arimathea is said to have planted his staff on Weary-All Hill, which grew into the Glastonbury Thorn which flowers at this season. In Dewsbury, Yorkshire, the Devil's Knell has been toll for seven centuries, once for every year since Jesus' birth.

In Rome a cannon at Castle of St. Angelo proclaims Christmas. In Alsace a goose is traditional, in Brittany buckwheat cakes and sour cream. In Burgundy it's turkey and chestnuts, in Paris oysters.

In Minho provence, the Portuguese eat a Christmas banquet in the early hours of Christmas, praying for the dead and leaving the table spread to remember them.

New Year's Eve in Scotland is celebrated as Hogmanay with cheese and oat cakes. The first one to cross the threshold after midnight, whether family member or stranger, prompts the celebration of the First Foot. In Italy it's celebrated with raisin bread, turkey, chicken or rabbit, and of course, spaghetti. In France the New Year starts with champagne.

Puerto Ricans continue to celebrate Christmas on January 6, Three Kings Day, and the two following with house-to-house processions, fruit, and guitar music. Bethlehem Day, January 12, concludes the Christmas season.

Light to the Nations: A Christian Perspective on World News

U.S. has "Moral obligation" to iraqis

WASHINGTON — On November 1, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), offered the prayers of the U.S. bishops and expressed solidarity with the suffering Christians of Iraq following the October 31 attack on the Syrian Catholic cathedral in Baghdad that killed 58 people and wounded 75.

Cardinal George's statement follows:

"The October 31 attack on the Syrian Catholic cathedral in Baghdad that killed 58 and wounded 75 has shocked and horrified the Catholic community and all people of goodwill. We join Pope Benedict XVI in expressing our profound sorrow at this savage violence and offer our heartfelt prayers for the victims, their families, and the Church and people of Iraq.

"In the recent Synod on the Middle East, the bishops from Iraq spoke of the perilous situation facing Christians and other minorities in that country. They recalled: kidnappings for ransom; bombings of churches, schools, and other property occupied by Christians; threats to Christian-run businesses and livelihoods; and the death of Archbishop Rahho and other priests following kidnappings. Together with this most recent murderous attack, this pattern points to an appalling lack of basic security. Many Christians have been forced to leave their homes or have fled abroad in search of safety. Many have little hope of return to Iraq in the near future. The Synod called on the international community to help Iraq 'put an end to the consequences of a deadly war and re-establish security, something which will protect all its citizens …'

"The United States bears responsibility for working effectively with the Iraqi government to stem the violence. Our Conference of Bishops raised grave moral questions prior to the United States military intervention in Iraq and then called for a 'responsible transition.' While we welcomed the end of U.S.-led combat in Iraq, we share the Iraqi bishops' concern that the United States failed to help Iraqis in finding the political will and concrete ways needed to protect the lives of all citizens, especially Christians and other vulnerable minorities, and to ensure that refugees and displaced persons are able to return to their homes safely. Having invaded Iraq, the U.S. government has a moral obligation not to abandon those Iraqis who cannot defend themselves.

"At the conclusion of the Synod, the pope said, 'Peace is possible. Peace is urgent. Peace is the indispensable condition for a life of dignity for individuals and society.'

"We offer our prayers and solidarity with the suffering Christians of Iraq at this terrible time of loss and horrific violence. We stand with the bishops, Church, and people of Iraq in their urgent search for greater security, freedom, and protection. We call upon the United States to take additional steps to help Iraq protect its citizens, especially the most vulnerable."

(Source: USCCB press release)

new hope for the peace of jerusalem

washington, d.c. — The National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East issued a statement on September 29, 2010, supporting U.S. leadership for peace. The statement, which was signed by Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders, follows:

"Our faith traditions teach that every person is created by the one God and deserving of respect. This common religious heritage finds expression in our common commitment to peace with justice for all.

"With the support and engagement of the United States, earlier this month, direct negotiations resumed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority with the goal of reaching agreement within one year. It is imperative that the peace talks continue. While we have long supported a halt to all settlement expansion, we support the United States working with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas to reach a mutually acceptable agreement that will allow the negotiations to continue. We stand united in support of active, fair, and firm U.S. leadership for Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace. Two years ago, we issued a statement on 'a window of hope.' Today we declare there is 'New Hope for the Peace of Jerusalem.' It will be difficult to achieve, but peace is possible.

"Since 2003 we have worked together for a two-state solution that will bring Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace within the framework of U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242, 338 and 1397. As religious leaders in the United States, we have prayed for peace, made public statements, met with public officials, and stood in solidarity with religious leaders in Israel, the Palestinian Territories, and throughout the region.

"Despite tragic violence and discouraging developments, there are signs of hope. Majorities of both Israelis and Palestinians still support a two-state solution. Arab states have declared their commitment to peace in the Arab Peace Initiative. There are U.S. diplomatic efforts to restart Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-Lebanese negotiations for peace. Official and informal negotiations have produced the outlines of concrete compromises for resolving the conflict, including the final status issues: borders and security, settlements, refugees, and Jerusalem. Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders both here and in the region reject the killing of innocents, support a just peace, and believe sustained negotiations are the only path to peace.

"As we said two years ago, there is a real danger that cynicism will replace hope and that people will give up on peace. With the resumption of direct negotiations, clarity is demanded. So let us be clear. As religious leaders, we remain firmly committed to a two-state solution to the conflict as the only viable way forward. We believe that concerted, sustained U.S. leadership for peace is essential. And we know that time is not on the side of peace, that delay is not an option.

"The path to peace shuns violence and embraces dialogue. This path demands reciprocal steps that build confidence. This path can lead to a future of two states, Israel and a viable, independent Palestine, living side by side in peace with security and dignity for both peoples, stability in the region, and a comprehensive peace between Israel and all her Arab neighbors.

"The United States has a unique and indispensable role which gives our nation a special responsibility to pursue peace. Achieving Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace will have positive reverberations in the region and around the world. Our nation and the world will be much safer with the achievement of the peace of Jerusalem.

"We refuse, now and always, to give into cynicism or despair. We are people of hope. We call upon the members of our religious communities to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and to support active, fair, and firm U.S. leadership to advance comprehensive peace in the Middle East. The time for peace is now."

(Source: USCCB)

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 especially for peace in the Middle East, the birth place of Jesus.
  • We pray that we will grow in closeness to Jesus and in holiness this Advent and Christmas season.
  • We pray for an end to hunger and malnutrition.
  • We pray for peace on earth and for God's kingdom to come.
  • We pray for migrants and refugees and for growth in understanding and friendship among people.
  • We pray for Christians in Iraq and for the Iraqi people and for the United States and other nations to take action to help Iraq protect its citizens.
  • We pray for the upcoming elections in Sudan to result in a peaceful and just solution.
  • We pray for the victory of the culture of love and life over the culture of death.
  • We pray that we will open our hearts to those in need and to the marginalized.
  • We pray for many conversions and that we will share our faith with many others.

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Phone: (513) 662-5378

Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378,



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