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My People

Vol. 23, Issue 3, March 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


The 26th Annual Pro-Life Rosary Procession and Rally was held on Saturday, January 23, in Cincinnati. Over 1,000 pro-lifers processed from City Hall to Fountain Square, at which Jack Gruber, Chairman of Family First, and Robert C. Cetrulo, J.D., President of Northern Kentucky Right to Life, spoke. Tom Brinkman, former Ohio state representative, emceed the rally, at which Chris Monzel, Cincinnati City Councilman, also spoke. (Photo provided by Fred Summe)

Lenten Message Focuses On Justice

Pope Benedict XVI's Message for Lent 2010 emphasizes justice. The message, dated October 30, 2009, follows:

"Each year, on the occasion of Lent, the Church invites us to a sincere review of our life in light of the teachings of the Gospel. This year, I would like to offer you some reflections on the great theme of justice, beginning from the Pauline affirmation: 'The justice of God has been manifested through faith in Jesus Christ' (cf. Rm 3:21-22).

Justice: "dare cuique suum"

"First of all, I want to consider the meaning of the term 'justice,' which in common usage implies 'to render to every man his due,' according to the famous expression of Ulpian, a Roman jurist of the third century. In reality, however, this classical definition does not specify what 'due' is to be rendered to each person. What man needs most cannot be guaranteed to him by law. In order to live life to the full, something more intimate is necessary that can be granted only as a gift: we could say that man lives by that love which only God can communicate since He created the human person in His image and likeness. Material goods are certainly useful and required – indeed Jesus Himself was concerned to heal the sick, feed the crowds that followed Him, and surely condemns the indifference that even today forces hundreds of millions into death through lack of food, water, and medicine – yet 'distributive' justice does not render to the human being the totality of his 'due.' Just as man needs bread, so does man have even more need of God. Saint Augustine notes: if 'justice is that virtue which gives every one his due . . . where, then, is the justice of man, when he deserts the true God?' (De civitate Dei, XIX, 21).

What is the Cause of Injustice?

"The Evangelist Mark reports the following words of Jesus, which are inserted within the debate at that time regarding what is pure and impure: 'There is nothing outside a man which by going into him can defile him; but the things which come out of a man are what defile him . . . What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts' (Mk 7:14-15, 20-21). Beyond the immediate question concerning food, we can detect in the reaction of the Pharisees a permanent temptation within man: to situate the origin of evil in an exterior cause. Many modern ideologies deep down have this presupposition: since injustice comes 'from outside,' in order for justice to reign, it is sufficient to remove the exterior causes that prevent it being achieved. This way of thinking – Jesus warns – is ingenuous and shortsighted. Injustice, the fruit of evil, does not have exclusively external roots; its origin lies in the human heart, where the seeds are found of a mysterious cooperation with evil. With bitterness the Psalmist recognizes this: 'Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me' (Ps 51:7). Indeed, man is weakened by an intense influence, which wounds his capacity to enter into communion with the other. By nature, he is open to sharing freely, but he finds in his being a strange force of gravity that makes him turn in and affirm himself above and against others: this is egoism, the result of original sin. Adam and Eve, seduced by Satan's lie, snatching the mysterious fruit against the divine command, replaced the logic of trusting in Love with that of suspicion and competition; the logic of receiving and trustfully expecting from the Other with anxiously seizing and doing on one's own (cf. Gn 3:1-6), experiencing, as a consequence, a sense of disquiet and uncertainty. How can man free himself from this selfish influence and open himself to love?

Justice and Sedaqah

"At the heart of the wisdom of Israel, we find a profound link between faith in God Who 'lifts the needy from the ash heap' (Ps 113:7) and justice towards one's neighbor. The Hebrew word itself that indicates the virtue of justice, sedaqah, expresses this well. Sedaqah, in fact, signifies on the one hand full acceptance of the will of the God of Israel; on the other hand, equity in relation to one's neighbor (cf. Ex 20:12-17), especially the poor, the stranger, the orphan, and the widow (cf. Dt 10:18-19). But the two meanings are linked because giving to the poor for the Israelite is none other than restoring what is owed to God, Who had pity on the misery of His people. It was not by chance that the gift to Moses of the tablets of the Law on Mount Sinai took place after the crossing of the Red Sea. Listening to the Law presupposes faith in God Who first 'heard the cry' of His people and 'came down to deliver them out of hand of the Egyptians' (cf. Ex 3:8). God is attentive to the cry of the poor and in return asks to be listened to: He asks for justice towards the poor (cf. Sir 4:4-5, 8-9), the stranger (cf. Ex 22:20), the slave (cf. Dt 15:12-18). In order to enter into justice, it is thus necessary to leave that illusion of self-sufficiency, the profound state of closure, which is the very origin of injustice. In other words, what is needed is an even deeper 'exodus' than that accomplished by God with Moses, a liberation of the heart, which the Law on its own is powerless to realize. Does man have any hope of justice then?

Christ, the Justice of God

"The Christian Good News responds positively to man's thirst for justice, as Saint Paul affirms in the Letter to the Romans: 'But now the justice of God has been manifested apart from law . . . the justice of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, Whom God put forward as an expiation by His blood, to be received by faith' (3:21-25). What then is the justice of Christ? Above all, it is the justice that comes from grace, where it is not man who makes amends, heals himself and others. The fact that 'expiation' flows from the 'blood' of Christ signifies that it is not man's sacrifices that free him from the weight of his faults, but the loving act of God Who opens Himself in the extreme, even to the point of bearing in Himself the 'curse' due to man so as to give in return the 'blessing' due to God (cf. Gal 3:13-14). But this raises an immediate objection: what kind of justice is this where the just man dies for the guilty and the guilty receives in return the blessing due to the just one? Would this not mean that each one receives the contrary of his 'due'? In reality, here we discover divine justice, which is so profoundly different from its human counterpart. God has paid for us the price of the exchange in His Son, a price that is truly exorbitant. Before the justice of the Cross, man may rebel for this reveals how man is not a self-sufficient being, but in need of Another in order to realize himself fully. Conversion to Christ, believing in the Gospel, ultimately means this: to exit the illusion of self-sufficiency in order to discover and accept one's own need – the need of others and God, the need of His forgiveness and His friendship. So we understand how faith is altogether different from a natural, good-feeling, obvious fact: humility is required to accept that I need Another to free me from 'what is mine,' to give me gratuitously 'what is His.' This happens especially in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. Thanks to Christ's action, we may enter into the 'greatest' justice, which is that of love (cf. Rm 13:8-10), the justice that recognizes itself in every case more a debtor than a creditor, because it has received more than could ever have been expected. Strengthened by this very experience, the Christian is moved to contribute to creating just societies, where all receive what is necessary to live according to the dignity proper to the human person and where justice is enlivened by love.

"Dear brothers and sisters, Lent culminates in the Paschal Triduum, in which this year, too, we shall celebrate divine justice – the fullness of charity, gift, salvation. May this penitential season be for every Christian a time of authentic conversion and intense knowledge of the mystery of Christ, Who came to fulfill every justice . . ."

St. Francis Of Assisi: Giant Of Holiness

In his January 27 General Audience, Pope Benedict XVI discussed the contributions of St. Francis of Assisi to the Church. He called Francis "an authentic 'giant' of holiness, who continues to fascinate a great many people of all age groups and every religion."

The Pope continued: 'A sun was born into the world.' With these words, in the Divine Comedy (Paradiso, Canto XI), the great Italian poet Dante Alighieri alludes to Francis' birth, which took place in Assisi either at the end of 1181 or the beginning of 1182. As part of a rich family, his father was a cloth merchant, Francis lived a carefree adolescence and youth, cultivating the chivalrous ideals of the time. At age 20, he took part in a military campaign and was taken prisoner. He became ill and was freed. After his return to Assisi, a slow process of spiritual conversion began within him, which brought him to gradually abandon the worldly lifestyle that he had adopted thus far. The famous episodes of Francis' meeting with the leper to whom, dismounting from his horse, he gave the kiss of peace and of the message from the Crucifix in the small Church of St. Damian, date pack to this period. Three times Christ on the Cross came to life, and told him: 'Go, Francis, and repair My Church in ruins.' This simple occurrence of the word of God heard in the Church of St. Damian contains a profound symbolism. At that moment St. Francis was called to repair the small church, but the ruinous state of the building was a symbol of the dramatic and disquieting situation of the Church herself. At that time the Church had a superficial faith which did not shape or transform life, a scarcely zealous clergy, and a chilling of love. It was an interior destruction of the Church which also brought a decomposition of unity, with the birth of heretical movements. Yet, there at the center of the Church in ruins was the Crucified Lord, and He spoke: He called for renewal, He called Francis to the manual labor of repairing the small Church of St. Damian, the symbol of a much deeper call to renew Christ's own Church, with her radicality of faith and her loving enthusiasm for Christ. This event, which probably happened in 1205, calls to mind another similar occurrence which took place in 1207: Pope Innocent III's dream. In it, he saw the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the mother of all churches, collapsing and one small and insignificant religious brother supporting the church on his shoulders to prevent it from falling. On the one hand, it is interesting to note that it is not the Pope who was helping to prevent the church from collapsing but rather a small and insignificant brother, whom the Pope recognized in Francis when he later came to visit. Innocent III was a powerful Pope who had a great theological formation and great political influence; nevertheless he was not the one to renew the Church but the small, insignificant religious. It was St. Francis, called by God. On the other hand, however, it is important to note that St. Francis does not renew the Church without or in opposition to the Pope, but only in communion with him. The two realities go together: the Successor of Peter, the Bishops, the Church founded on the succession of the Apostles and the new charism that the Holy Spirit brought to life at that time for the Church's renewal. Authentic renewal grew from these together.

"Let us return to the life of St. Francis. When his father Bernardone reproached him for being too generous to the poor, Francis, standing before the Bishop of Assisi, in a symbolic gesture, stripped off his clothes, thus showing he renounced his paternal inheritance. Just as at the moment of creation, Francis had nothing, only the life that God gave him, into Whose hands he delivered himself. He then lived as a hermit, until, in 1208, another fundamental step in his journey of conversion took place. While listening to a passage from the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus' discourse to the apostles whom He sent out on mission, Francis felt called to live in poverty and dedicate himself to preaching. Other companions joined him, and in 1209 he travelled to Rome, to propose to Pope Innocent III the plan for a new form of Christian life. He received a fatherly welcome from that great Pontiff, who, enlightened by the Lord, perceived the divine origin of the movement inspired by Francis. The Poverello of Assisi understood that every charism as a gift of the Holy Spirit existed to serve the Body of Christ, which is the Church; therefore he always acted in full communion with the ecclesial authorities. In the life of the Saints there is no contradiction between prophetic charism and the charism of governance, and if tension arises, they know to patiently await the times determined by the Holy Spirit.

"Actually, several 19th-century and also 20th-century historians have sought to construct a so-called historical Francis, behind the traditional depiction of the Saint, just as they sought to create a so-called historical Jesus behind the Jesus of the Gospels. This historical Francis would not have been a man of the Church, but rather a man connected directly and solely to Christ, a man that wanted to bring about a renewal of the People of God, without canonical forms or hierarchy. The truth is that St. Francis really did have an extremely intimate relationship with Jesus and with the word of God, that he wanted to pursue sine glossa: just as it is, in all its radicality and truth. It is also true that initially he did not intend to create an Order with the necessary canonical forms. Rather he simply wanted, through the word of God and the presence of the Lord, to renew the People of God, to call them back to listening to the word, and to literal obedience to Christ. Furthermore, he knew that Christ was never 'mine' but is always 'ours,' that 'I' cannot possess Christ that 'I' cannot rebuild in opposition to the Church, her will and her teaching. Instead it is only in communion with the Church built on the Apostolic succession that obedience too, to the word of God can be renewed.

"It is also true that Francis had no intention of creating a new Order, but solely that of renewing the People of God for the Lord Who comes. He understood, however, through suffering and pain that everything must have its own order and that the law of the Church is necessary to give shape to renewal. Thus he placed himself fully, with his heart, in communion with the Church, with the Pope, and with the Bishops. He always knew that the center of the Church is the Eucharist, where the Body of Christ and His Blood are made present through the priesthood, the Eucharist, and the communion of the Church. Wherever the priesthood and the Eucharist and the Church come together, it is there alone that the word of God also dwells. The real historical Francis was the Francis of the Church, and precisely in this way he continues to speak to non-believers and believers of other confessions and religions as well.

"Francis and his friars, who were becoming ever more numerous, established themselves at the Portiuncula, or the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, the sacred place par excellence of Franciscan spirituality. Even Clare, a young woman of Assisi from a noble family, followed the school of Francis. This became the origin of the Second Franciscan Order, that of the Poor Clares, another experience destined to produce outstanding figures of sainthood in the Church.

Almighty, eternal, just, and merciful God, grant us in our misery that we may do for Your sake alone what we know You want us to do, and always want what pleases You; so that, cleansed and enlightened interiorly and fired with the ardor of the Holy Spirit, we may be able to follow in the footsteps of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and so make our way to You.
— St. Francis of Assisi

"Innocent III's Successor, Pope Honorius III, with his Bull Cum Dilecti in 1218 supported the unique development of the first Friars Minor, who started missions in different European countries, and even in Morocco. In 1219 Francis obtained permission to visit and speak to the Muslim sultan Malik al-Klmil, to preach the Gospel of Jesus there too. I would like to highlight this episode in St. Francis' life, which is very timely. In an age when there was a conflict underway between Christianity and Islam, Francis, intentionally armed only with his faith and personal humility, travelled the path of dialogue effectively. The chronicles tell us that he was given a benevolent welcome and a cordial reception by the Muslim Sultan. It provides a model which should inspire today's relations between Christians and Muslims: to promote a sincere dialogue, in reciprocal respect and mutual understanding (cf. Nostra Aetate, 3). It appears that later, in 1220, Francis visited the Holy Land, thus sowing a seed that would bear much fruit: his spiritual sons would in fact make of the Sites where Jesus lived a privileged space for their mission. It is with gratitude that I think today of the great merits of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.

"On his return to Italy, Francis turned over the administration of his Order to his vicar, Br. Pietro Cattani, while the Pope entrusted the rapidly growing Order's protection to Cardinal Ugolino, the future Supreme Pontiff Gregory IX. For his part, the Founder, dedicated completely to his preaching, which he carried out with great success, compiled his Rule that was then approved by the Pope.

"In 1224, at the hermitage in La Verna, Francis had a vision of the Crucified Lord in the form of a seraph and from that encounter received the stigmata from the Seraph Crucifix, thus becoming one with the Crucified Christ. It was a gift, therefore, that expressed his intimate identification with the Lord.

"The death of Francis, his transitus, occurred on the evening of October 3, 1226, in the Portiuncula. After having blessed his spiritual children, he died, lying on the bare earthen floor. Two years later Pope Gregory IX entered him in the roll of saints. A short time after, a great basilica in his honor was constructed in Assisi, still today an extremely popular pilgrim destination. There pilgrims can venerate the Saint's tomb and take in the frescoes by Giotto, an artist who has magnificently illustrated Francis' life.

"It has been said that Francis represents an alter Christus, that he was truly a living icon of Christ. He has also been called 'the brother of Jesus.' Indeed, this was his ideal: to be like Jesus, to contemplate Christ in the Gospel, to love Him intensely, and to imitate His virtues. In particular, he wished to ascribe interior and exterior poverty with a fundamental value, which he also taught to his spiritual sons. The first Beatitude of the Sermon on the Mount 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven' (Mt 5:3) found a luminous fulfillment in the life and words of St. Francis. Truly, dear friends, the saints are the best interpreters of the Bible. As they incarnate the word of God in their own lives, they make it more captivating than ever, so that it really speaks to us. The witness of Francis, who loved poverty as a means to follow Christ with dedication and total freedom, continues to be for us too an invitation to cultivate interior poverty in order to grow in our trust of God, also by adopting a sober lifestyle and a detachment from material goods.

"Francis' love for Christ expressed itself in a special way in the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist. In the Fonti Francescane (Writings of St. Francis) one reads such moving expressions as: 'Let everyone be struck with fear, let the whole world tremble, and let the heavens exult, when Christ, the Son of the living God, is present on the altar in the hands of a priest. Oh stupendous dignity! O humble sublimity, that the Lord of the universe, God and the Son of God, so humbles Himself that for our salvation He hides Himself under an ordinary piece of bread' (Francis of Assisi, Scritti, Editrici Francescane, Padova 2002, 401).

"In this Year for Priests, I would also like to recall a piece of advice that Francis gave to priests: 'When you wish to celebrate Mass, in a pure way, reverently make the true sacrifice of the Most Holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ' (Francis of Assisi, Scritti, 399). Francis always showed great deference towards priests, and asserted that they should always be treated with respect, even in cases where they might be somewhat unworthy personally. The reason he gave for this profound respect was that they receive the gift of consecrating the Eucharist. Dear brothers in the priesthood, let us never forget this teaching: the holiness of the Eucharist appeals to us to be pure, to live in a way that is consistent with the Mystery we celebrate.

"From love for Christ stems love for others and also for all God's creatures. This is yet another characteristic trait of Francis' spirituality: the sense of universal brotherhood and love for Creation, which inspired the famous Canticle of Creatures. This too is an extremely timely message. As I recalled in my recent Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, development is sustainable only when it respects Creation and does not damage the environment (cf. nn. 48-52), and in the Message for the World Day of Peace this year, I also underscored that even building stable peace is linked to respect for Creation. Francis reminds us that the wisdom and benevolence of the Creator is expressed through Creation. He understood nature as a language in which God speaks to us, in which reality becomes clear, and we can speak of God and with God.

"Dear friends, Francis was a great Saint and a joyful man. His simplicity, his humility, his faith, his love for Christ, his goodness towards every man and every woman, brought him gladness in every circumstance. Indeed, there subsists an intimate and indissoluble relationship between holiness and joy. A French writer once wrote that there is only one sorrow in the world: not to be saints, that is, not to be near to God. Looking at the testimony of St. Francis, we understand that this is the secret of true happiness: to become saints, close to God!

"May the Virgin, so tenderly loved by Francis, obtain this gift for us. Let us entrust ourselves to her with the words of the Poverello of Assisi himself: 'Blessed Virgin Mary, no one like you among women has ever been born in the world, daughter and handmaid of the Most High King and heavenly Father, Mother of our Most Blessed Lord Jesus Christ, spouse of the Holy Spirit. Pray for us . . . to your most blessed and beloved Son, Lord and Master' (Francesco di Assisi, Scritti, 163)."

Poverty Is A Scandal

(Editor's note: The following is a January 27 press release by Caritas International)

Poverty is a scandal. What else can it be when just over 40 years after man first walked on the moon, there are still humans unable to provide for their most basic needs, like food, shelter, warmth.

It is with this central message - poverty is unacceptable in the 21st century - that Caritas Europa is launching today its Zero Poverty campaign for the European Year 2010 for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion at the European Parliament in Brussels.

Sharing a platform with Elisabeth Schroedter MEP, Vice-Chairwoman of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, and with presentations by Erny Gillen (President of Caritas Europa) and Paolo Pezzana/Patrizia Cappelletti (representing Caritas Italy), Caritas Europa is offering the vision of Zero Poverty - a vision of a different world, in which no-one is forced to live on the streets or dies prematurely because they cannot afford healthcare.

The Poverty Paper: Prevention is better than cure

In its Poverty Paper, published especially for the European Year 2010, Caritas defines poverty as a lack of well-being rather than a lack of financial resources - though naturally, a lack of basic means is an extremely common cause of emotional and psychological distress.

It is by supporting and strengthening the three traditional sources of social welfare: 1) the labor market 2) the family 3) the welfare state, that the poor and socially excluded can become truly self-sufficient and restore the dignity that has been robbed from them by the stigma of poverty.

Caritas believes that in order to achieve the vision of Zero Poverty, society has to tackle poverty's root causes rather than merely respond to its consequences. Today, social policies are still focused on assisting poor people. However, if the fight against poverty and social exclusion is to be sustained, more emphasis must be placed on what policies can do to prevent the spiral of poverty from taking place, particularly in the early stages of an individual's life.

The Petition: Taking a united stand against poverty

Over the course of 2010, Caritas Europa and its Europe-wide network will be raising awareness of poverty, and lobbying national governments and supranational institutions for change. A central aspect of their campaigning activity will be the Petition Against Poverty, which calls on European governments to take four achievable steps to end poverty.

These are: End child poverty by guaranteeing allowances for every child in Europe, regardless of the status of their parents; Secure a minimum standard of social security for all; Guarantee universal healthcare and strengthen the welfare state; Take active steps to ensure decent jobs with decent wages.

The target for the petition is to reach one million signatures of citizens who are nationals of a significant number of member states. This would be a requirement for inviting the Commission to submit appropriate legislative proposals on the basis of the European citizen's initiative, one of the major innovations of the Treaty of Lisbon. Act Now!

At the beginning of 2010 Caritas is looking forward to a year in which a number of the socio-political orthodoxies of past decades are challenged and many people inspired to look at poverty through new eyes. However, without the support of thousands of volunteers and sympathisers, nothing will be possible.

It is with this in mind that everybody who cares about combating poverty is invited to make a stand in 2010: a stand against poverty; a stand for social justice; a stand that will get people talking, thinking, and acting.

Poverty is everybody's concern. The Zero Poverty campaign ( proposes concrete actions against poverty that can be accomplished in our everyday life. Act now for a better future!

In Defense of Life: The Hand Of God

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

by Fred H. Summe

The December 21, 2009, Newsweek confidently predicted that as to President Barack Obama, "with a health-care victory, he'll be back on top." Newsweek's crystal ball also foretold that Massachusetts Attorney General, Martha Coakley, "will likely get Kennedy's senate seat."

Three weeks proved that the liberal, pro-abortion Newsweek was out of touch with realty.

True, 2010 found pro-lifers discouraged by the U.S. House of Representatives passing its version of the so-called health care reform, which, even with the Stupak Amendment, would provide for federal funding of some abortions, as well as euthanasia, contraception, and secular "sex education."

Right before Christmas, the U.S. Senate passed its version of the so-called health care reform, which had no restrictions on the funding of abortion. It looked like it was simply a matter of time before the pro-life movement would be handed one of its greatest defeats.

The House version and the Senate version needed to be reconciled into a single bill, one which would be approved by both. The Democratic leadership in both the House and the Senate were openly confident that by February it would be a done deal.

Not only would federal funds be available for the payment of abortions, but our health care system would be introduced to health care rationing, under which so-called "Medicare advisory boards," commonly referred to as "death panels," would have a say, and sometimes control over, what medical care, treatment, or medication would be available to especially the elderly. Conscience protection for pro-life physicians and pharmacists would no longer be honored; teenage girls would be provided with so-called "family planning" through a government-run health care scheme; and intentionally causing death by dehydration and starvation would not be considered euthanasia or assisted suicide.

Pro-abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood, would be recipients of even more federal funds, as President Barack Obama promised: "It is important for organizations like Planned Parenthood to be part of that system."

Regardless of what "health care reform" bill would have passed and become law, the federal government would have a bigger role and control over one-sixth of the U.S. economy. Those in charge of implementing this legislation have made their pro-death inclinations abundantly clear. This administration, or future ones, would certainly find their power and control intoxicating, and there would be irresistible further advances in their dangerous policies.

God is Never Outdone

Although things looked pretty hopeless on the political front, those who hold the Judeo-Christian principles of the sanctity of all innocent human life had continued, as they always continue, to beseech the Author of Life for His guidance and assistance.

On January 19, 2010, unbeknown to the national news media, both liberal and conservative, and still unbeknown to them, the Hand of God saved us from a national disaster, giving us a second chance.

Somehow David, disguised as a state senator who weeks before the election had received hardly any funds or support from the Republican National Committee, had defeated a statewide officeholder, the Democrat attorney general, for a U.S. Senate seat that all considered would remain in the Democrat column, and in a state that consistently elected those who promoted the culture of death. Scott Brown (a mixed bag on pro-life issues) defeated Martha Coakley (who bragged that she was more "pro-choice" than her opponent) in a state with a heavy Catholic population, the majority of which consistently betray its Catholic principles, in order to elect some of the strongest and most effective "Catholic" pro-abortion officeholders.

“Let us search and examine our ways that we may return to the Lord! Let us reach out our hearts toward God in heaven!”
(Lam 3:40-41)

Almost instantly, victory for the pro-death movement was snatched from its hands by the Hand of God. The election of Brown, who ran on a heavily anti-health-care-bill platform, caused panic among Democratic members of Congress. If they could lose in Massachusetts, there was no place they could not lose. Whether it's the House version or the Senate version, "health care reform" appears to be dead in the water.

However, pro-lifers must not abandon their vigilance, for the other side is simply regrouping. "Don't walk away from reform. Not now. Not when we are so close," was the unyielding plea of Obama to Congress in his State of the Union Address. He apologized for "not explaining [the health care reform legislation] more clearly to the American people," ignoring the fact that he had given 29 major public addresses on the subject and that the American public understood and rejected the plan. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi tried to rally House Democrats with the call "We have to get it done. What the process is doesn't matter."

It Ain't Over Yet!

So the battle continues, especially on three fronts.

The first front is the legislative or political front. Pro-lifers are not opposed to health care reform and have always supported access to health care. Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut, stated: "That doesn't mean we favor the government taking over one-sixth of our economy – but it does mean that intelligent ways should be found to help those who need the help to get health insurance and adequate medical care." Lori points out that "health care reform ought to avoid a centralization of power and respect the principle of subsidiarity."

In a document issued jointly by Most Rev. John F. Naumann, Archbishop of Kansas City, KS, and Most Rev. Robert W. Finn, Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph, MO, this danger was pointed out clearly:

"The writings of recent Popes have warned that the neglect of subsidiarity can lead to an excessive centralization of human services, which in turn leads to excessive costs, and loss of personal responsibility and quality of care. …diminishing personal responsibility or creating an inordinately bureaucratic structure which will be vulnerable to financial abuse, be crippling to our national economy, and remove the sense of humanity from the work of healing and helping the sick."

Bishop Richard Stika of Knoxville, Tennessee, warns: "So many people have not even read the bill, and as you take it apart you can see that it goes way beyond health care – with the abortion, with the conscience clause – a whole variety of different issues that were hidden in the 1,000-plus pages that now have come to light." The Bishop continues: "Realistically, [health care reform] is going to go back to the drawing board…Once it does, pro-lifers will again have to make sure their voices are heard." (

As the Wall Street Journal warned: "Although administration officials are eager to deny it, rationing health care is central to President Barack Obama's health plan. The Obama strategy is to reduce health costs by rationing the services that we and future generations of patients will receive."

The two Kansas City bishops, quoted above, also expressed their concern that end-of-life counseling mandated by the government creates the risk of pressuring those who are especially vulnerable to end their life, and "would send the message that they are no longer of value to society."

Electing Pro-Lifers

The second front pro-lifers must again concentrate on, especially this year, is the election of pro-lifers to all offices in the local, state, and federal government.

Some issues are non-negotiable: abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, assisted suicide, embryonic stem cell research, and human cloning. These acts are intrinsically evil and are never morally justified even if permitted by law.

Even though a candidate holds positions you favor on other issues, if he favors legalized child abuse, he would disqualify himself from your vote. The same is true for all of these intrinsic evils. Pro-lifers must work hard this year to help elect those who hold the Judeo-Christian principle of the sanctity of all innocent human life.

Pro-lifers must also demand accountability of those seeking public office, inquiring whether they have helped elect, by their public support or financial support, those who help keep the killing machine in place. For example, if a congressman has voted for Rep. Nancy Pelosi to be the Speaker of the House, he is not to be excused because he voted along party lines, abandoning the Judeo-Christian principle of the sanctity of all innocent human life.

Power of Prayer

Thirdly, let us not forget what brought about the assistance of the Almighty, that has given us this second chance to reform the so-called health care reform. It was the prayers, innumerable Masses offered to stop abortion, rosary processions to abortion mills, fasting and sacrifices done in secret, and constant pleading for God's help, that brought about the Hand of God.

Praise God that the battle continues, and that He has honored us with the opportunity to participate.

Haiti Quake Produces "Miracles"

At least 135 people buried by Haiti's earthquake and its aftershocks were rescued by search teams. " 'If you save one man,' we say in Hebrew," Col. Gili Shenhal said, " 'you save the whole world,' and this is one of the main reasons that we are here." Some, however, consider the outpouring of charity from so many recession-hit nations to these very needy people the greater miracle.

Most were rescued within a few days. Reinhard Riedel's wife was pulled, dehydrated but otherwise uninjured, from a hotel's ruins on Saturday. "It's a little miracle," he said. That same day a baby boy was delivered aboard a U.S. Coast Guard vessel by medical rescue personnel who had rescued his mother.

Eight days afterward, seven-year-old Kiki and his sister Sabrina Joachim were rescued. Their aunt Denival Orana returned to salvage some possessions, and heard Kiki's faint cries. American firefighters were able to cut a hole in the floor and pass water down to them.

Describing his rescue, he said, "I smiled because I was free. I smiled because I was alive." He added, "I am sad for my brothers and sister but happy with my mama."

“I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts. I will put My spirit within you and make you live by My statutes, careful to observe My decrees.”
(Ez 36:25-27)

Although losing three of her five children, his mother Ena said, "When I saw them, I collapsed in tears and hugged them. We were all laughing and crying at the same time."

Also on the eighth day 22-day-old Elizabeth Josaint was rescued in the devastated seaside town of Jacmel, where her mother Michelin Josaint's husband was killed. The baby's grandfather, Michellet Josaint, calls it a sign. "When I come here," he said, "I don't find the baby. The people tell me, 'Relax.' And I come here and I find my children with the baby . . . fantastic!"

"At 90 degrees, you would die of dehydration in seven days," Dr. Kent Holtorf explains, "but if you add in the extra humidity, like in Haiti, you're not losing water through your skin as quickly, and you can survive for an extra three to five days."

Even so, 21-year-old Emanuel Buteau survived 10 days under the wreckage of his collapsed apartment building. He was saved by an Israeli rescue team and revived at an Israeli field hospital.

"It's a big miracle!" Buteau said through a translator. "I was praying to God and I was saying, 'God, if it's Your will, I will die. If its Your will, I will survive."

After being knocked unconscious, he woke up in a cramped, dark air pocket. He prayed a lot and cried a lot. Then Buteau's mother returned to try to find his body to bury. Hearing her speak of him in the past tense, he called her name, and she called the Israeli rescue team.

After 11 days Haitians turned out for an open-air funeral Mass for the archbishop of Port-au-Prince, Monsignor Joseph Serge Miot, who was buried at Lilavois Cemetery. Thousands of others, however, had to be buried in unmarked mass graves. From six in the morning to six at night, they prayed.

Pastor Gregory Toussaint of the Tabernacle of Glory Church in Miami, Florida, who helped organize the event, said that those who suffered when the Earth shook wanted to ask for God's forgiveness. Others came to openly give thanks.

That's when the Haitian government declared an end to searches for survivors. Wismond Exantus Jean-Pierre, 24, was rescued 11 days after.

Dehydrated and exhausted, Wismond said he stayed alive by diving under a desk and drinking cola, beer, and eating cookies.

"I was hungry, but every night I thought about the revelation that I would survive." Scottish-born Carmen Michalska, 36, from Sheffield, was attached to the Hellenic Rescue Team from Greece. After two and a half hours of digging, she volunteered to squeeze down a tiny hole to get to him under 20 feet of what had been the two-story Napoli Inn hotel.

"To save somebody's life was amazing," she said.

"He smiled and was so happy to see us. He held our light for us while we sawed the wood in front of him away. I couldn't talk to him because I don't speak French but he said 'Merci.' "

Wismond's brother Enso, 23, who lost six relatives in the earthquake, shared: "I had a dream that my brother called to me and told me he was alive. He told me to come get him and I have been coming every day."

Later, at a French field hospital, Wismond told his own story. "I was hungry but every night I thought about the revelation that I would survive. I prayed. It's a big miracle for me. When I leave the hospital I will give my heart to the Lord because He saved my life."

Fourteen days after the original quake, 35-year-old Rico Dibrivell was pulled out in just dusty underpants, likely buried in one of the aftershocks. After fifteen days, however, came yet another miracle. Near St. Gerard University, Darlene Etienne was found. Dr. Claude Fuilla of the French rescue team found the young woman, who was taken to the French Navy hospital ship Sirocco.

"We cannot really explain this because that's just [against] biological facts," Dr. Evelyne Lambert says. "We are very surprised by the fact that she's alive . . . She's saying that she has been underground since the very beginning."

Drop The Debt For Haiti

Caritas worker talking to a woman in Leogane, one of the areas hit hardest by the earthquake (Credits: Katie Orlinski, Caritas, 2010)

(Editor's note: Caritas International, the Catholic relief agency, provided the following press release on February 5)

Caritas welcomes the IMF's (International Monetary Fund) decision this week to lend earthquake-stricken Haiti US$102 million on highly concessional terms, but we are disappointed that it was not possible at the same time to cancel Haiti's outstanding debts to the IMF.

The appalling images coming out of Port-au-Prince show that it will be many years before Haiti will be in a position to service any international loans. That is why Caritas is joining campaigners from around the world who are calling for immediate debt cancellation.

Chris Bain, the Director of CAFOD (a Caritas member in England and Wales), said "Vague promises of future debt cancellation are not enough. Haiti must be free to heal its wounds, rebuild, and reconstruct confident that it is not building up debt obligations in the future."

The managing director of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn has given his support to efforts to cancel Haiti's debts and has said that "IMF is now working with all donors to try to delete all the Haitian debt, including our new loan."

But this debt cancellation could come in five years time when Haiti will be due to start repayments - but five years from now the world will be coping with new emergencies and the spotlight of public attention will have moved away from Haiti.

Caritas says the time for debt cancellation is now. Caritas urges the IMF and other donors to ensure that the burden of debt is lifted from Haiti as it struggles to rebuild - a task that will take decades and billions of dollars.

The World Bank (owed $39 million) and Inter-American Development Bank (owed $447 million) have also expressed support for debt cancellation, though have yet to formally agree a deal.

Pray The News

Christ shield me this day, Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every person who thinks of me. Christ in every eye that sees me. Christ in the ear that hears me.
— St. Patrick of Ireland, from his breastplate

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 that we will grow in discipleship and holiness during this Lenten season.
  • We pray that Lent will be a time of authentic conversion and greater understanding of the mystery of Christ, Who came to "fulfill every justice."
  • We pray that we will have the heart of Jesus for the poor and the suffering.
  • We pray that every person will share resources with others.
  • We pray for an end to abortion, euthanasia, and all attacks on life.
  • We pray in thanksgiving for the example of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Patrick, and other saints.
  • We pray for peace and reconciliation between enemies.
  • We pray for all priests to grow in holiness during this Year for Priests.

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



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