"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
"Drought triggered the current crisis, but it’s as much a manmade as natural disaster," said Caritas Internationalis Humanitarian Director Alistair Dutton. Credits: Eoghan Rice/Trocaire
Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, urged United States bishops and clergy to address issues of poverty and joblessness. His September 15 letter to bishops follows:
"The Administrative Committee urged me to write you on an important matter for our Church and nation. During our recent meeting, it was reported that 46 million people (15%) now live in poverty in the United States. This report follows dismal unemployment figures in recent months. For us as bishops, these numbers are not statistics, but people suffering and wounded in their human dignity. They are parents who cannot feed their children, families that have lost their homes, and jobless workers who have lost not only income, but also a sense of their place in society. For us, each of these persons is a child of God with innate human dignity and rights that deserve respect. These numbers bring home to us the human costs and moral consequences of a broken economy that cannot fully utilize the talents, energy, and work of all our people. We know the terrible toll the current economic turmoil is taking on families and communities. In our own Catholic dioceses we are struggling to match scarce resources with growing needs and have had to make very difficult financial, personnel, and organizational choices.
"Unless souls are saved, nothing is saved; there can be no world peace unless there is soul peace. World wars are only projections of the conflicts waged inside the souls of modern men, for nothing happens in the external world that has not first happened within a soul."
Bishop Fulton Shee
"We discussed how best to respond to this urgent pastoral challenge. The Administrative Committee wanted something more than a public statement. Instead, they asked me to write to all the bishops and ask you to continue to do all you can to lift up the human, moral, and spiritual dimensions of the ongoing economic crisis. Widespread unemployment, underemployment, and pervasive poverty are diminishing human lives, undermining human dignity, and hurting children and families. I hope we can use our opportunities as pastors, teachers, and leaders to focus public attention and priority on the scandal of so much poverty and so many without work in our society. In order to assist you in these ongoing efforts, the Administrative Committee has asked the bishops' conference to provide you, diocesan staffs, and other leaders with resources and materials for preaching, educating the faithful, and advocating on behalf of the poor and jobless. You can already find some materials that can be helpful in these tasks on the 'Unemployment and Poverty' page of the USCCB website. This page will be updated periodically and additional resources will be available shortly . . .
"The best way out of poverty is to work at a living wage. In the words of Pope Benedict XVI, 'Being out of work or dependent on public or private assistance for a prolonged period undermines the freedom and creativity of the person and his family and social relationships, causing great psychological and spiritual suffering' (Caritas in Veritate, no. 25). The common good will not advance; economic security will not be achieved; and individual initiative will be weakened when so many live without the dignity of work and bear the crushing burden of poverty. These economic failures have fundamental institutional and systemic elements that have either been ignored or made worse by political and economic behaviors, which have undermined trust and confidence. However, this is not time to make excuses or place blame. It is a time for everyone to accept their own personal and institutional responsibility to help create jobs and to overcome poverty, each in accord with their own abilities and opportunities. Individuals and families, faith-based and community groups, businesses and labor, government at every level, all must work together and find effective ways to promote the common good in national and economic life.
"Sixteen million of our children (almost one out of four) are growing up poor. It is especially disheartening that African-Americans and Hispanics live with unemployment and poverty at far higher rates than others. Immigrant workers are especially vulnerable to exploitation and unfair treatment. These realities contradict our national pledge of 'liberty and justice for all.' They also contradict the consistent teaching of our Church. Our Catholic tradition begins with respect for the life and dignity of all, requires a priority concern for poor and vulnerable people, reflects the ties and bonds of solidarity, respects the mutual relationships of subsidiarity, and promotes the dignity of work and protection for workers.
"As bishops, we lead communities that include many of those who lack sufficient work or resources to live a decent life. Every day, we serve 'the least of these' in our midst. In our Catholic parishes, schools, charities, hospitals, and other ministries, the poor, the underemployed, and the unemployed are not issues, but people with names and faces. It is an essential part of our work as Catholics to build a more just society and economy. We feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, educate the young, welcome refugees, and care for the sick and vulnerable. Our Church serves and stands in solidarity with those who are poor and jobless, helping them break the cycle of poverty and act on behalf of their own families and communities. Our Conference will continue to urge our leaders to assist and protect the poor and jobless as they seek to promote economic growth and fiscal responsibility. The Catholic community will strengthen our work with others to address the economic, family, social, and other factors which contribute to widespread poverty.
"In these tough economic times, we turn to the God Who loves us. We pray for those who need work. We lift up the poor and suffering. We ask God's guidance for our nation. This is not a time to give in to discouragement. It is a time for faith, hope, and love. Faith offers us moral principles to guide us in the days ahead. Christian hope gives us strength. Christ's love calls us to care for those left behind in this broken economy.
"Thank you, my brothers, for your pastoral leadership in preaching the Gospel and standing strong for the Church's moral and social teaching in these difficult days."
(Editor's note: The following is a press release from Caritas International, the Catholic relief agency.)
Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday, October 5, highlighted the plight of 13 million people at risk in East Africa's ongoing food crisis. Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, and other parts of the region face a severe food crisis caused by drought, conflict, and social injustice. Somalia is the first famine of the 21st century, with hundreds of thousands of people in danger and one in three children suffering from malnutrition.
Pope Benedict urged the international community to tackle the humanitarian emergency. He invited everyone "to offer prayers and practical help for so many brothers and sisters so harshly tested, particularly the children in the region."
The Caritas network of Catholic aid agencies is helping over one million people in East Africa's food crisis, providing families with food, clean water, and a way to support themselves in the future. Caritas is developing and implementing programs worth more than €30 million ($41 million). . .
"Caritas members all over the world have moved quickly to help prevent suffering in East Africa through our partners on the ground," said Alistair Dutton. "We will continue to care for the hungriest and most vulnerable victims. Dutton is Humanitarian Director at Caritas.
"Drought triggered the current crisis, but it's as much a manmade as natural disaster. We must tackle chronic underdevelopment and help communities adapt to changing climates across the region. We must seek an end to conflict in Somalia if this is to be the only famine in East Africa this century."
The Pontifical Council Cor Unum hosted a meeting October 7 in the Vatican, inviting Catholic aid agencies including Caritas and representatives from the Church of England to discuss new efforts to tackle the crisis. In Ethiopia, Caritas and its church partners have distributed food to approximately 500,000 people and is providing clean water to an estimated 250,000 people. In Kenya and Ethiopia, diocesan partners run feeding centers for malnourished children. To aid refugees fleeing Somalia, Caritas members are working in refugee camps to build sanitation facilities like showers and latrines.
Because farmers have lost crops and livestock to the drought, Caritas is distributing drought-resistant seeds and is giving more than 10,000 animals to needy farmers. Ongoing programs will improve water systems and train farmers in conservation techniques so that communities are more resilient in the face of extreme weather.
A September 12 meeting in Rome addressed discrimination against Christians. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and its office for democratic institutions and human rights organized a roundtable discussion on the subject. The Vatican is a participating member of OSCE since its beginning in 1975.
Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Vatican secretary for relations with states spoke at the meeting. He stated:
". . . In his 2011 Message for the World Day of Peace, Pope Benedict XVI pointed out that 'at present, Christians are the religious group which suffers most from persecution on account of its faith. Many Christians experience daily affronts and often live in fear because of their pursuit of truth, their faith in Jesus Christ, and their heartfelt plea for respect for religious freedom. This situation is unacceptable, since it represents an insult to God and to human dignity; furthermore, it is a threat to security and peace, and an obstacle to the achievement of authentic and integral human development.'
"One may contend, and rightly so, that most of the hate crimes against Christians in the world occur outside the OSCE area. There are, however, warning signs even within that area. The annual hate crime report of ODIHR provides irrefutable proof of a growing intolerance against Christians. Ignoring this well-documented fact sends a negative signal also to those countries that are not participating States of our Organization. It is, therefore, important that a renewed awareness of the problem be raised everywhere. This is why the Holy See welcomes the Resolution of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly adopted this year in Belgrade as an important step towards 'initiat[ing] a public debate on intolerance and discrimination against Christians,' as stated in the document. Hopefully, concrete measures will be developed to combat intolerance against Christians as a follow-up of this Conference.
"Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous; love is
never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take
offense, and it is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other
people's sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to
trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes."
(1 Cor 13:4-7)
"In order to prevent hate crimes from occurring, it is essential to promote and consolidate religious liberty, the concept of which must be clear from the outset. In his address of January 10, 2011, to the members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, the Holy Father argued that religious liberty is 'the first of human rights, not only because it was historically the first to be recognized but also because it touches the constitutive dimension of man, his relation with his Creator.' He also noted that today, in many regions of the world, religious liberty is 'often called into question or violated' and that 'society, its leaders, and public opinion are becoming more and more aware, even if not always in a clear way, of this grave attack on the dignity and freedom of homo religiosus.'
"On the basis of such premises, it follows that religious freedom cannot be restricted to the simple freedom of worship, although the latter is obviously an important part of it. With due respect to the rights of all, religious freedom includes, among others, the right to preach, educate, convert, contribute to the political discourse, and participate fully in public activities.
"Nor is true religious liberty synonymous with relativism or with the post-modern idea that religion is a marginal component of public life. Pope Benedict XVI has often underscored the danger of a radical secularism that relegates, a priori, all kinds of religious manifestations to the private sphere. Relativism and secularism deny two fundamental aspects of the religious phenomenon, and hence of the right to religious freedom, that call for respect: the transcendental and the social dimensions of religion in which the human person seeks to be related, according to the dictates of his conscience, to the reality, so to say, above and around him. Religion is more than just a private opinion or Weltanschauung. It always has an impact on society and its moral principles.
"As I pointed out earlier, when we discuss denial of religious freedom and its connection with hate crimes, normally the violent persecutions of Christian minorities in some parts of the world come to mind. The Holy See is grateful to OSCE and to its individual participating States which are particularly active in denouncing the murder or imprisonment of innocent citizens that are killed or persecuted just because they believe in Christ. On the other hand, if it is true that the risk of hate crimes is connected to the denial of religious liberty, we should not forget that there are serious problems even in areas of the world where fortunately there is no violent persecution of Christians. Sadly, acts motivated by bias against Christians are fast becoming a reality also in those countries where they constitute a majority.
"Pope Benedict referred to this phenomenon in the same speech of January last to the Diplomatic Corps, when he said that — and I quote — 'turning our gaze from East to West, we find ourselves faced with other kinds of threats to the full exercise of religious freedom. I think in the first place of countries which accord great importance to pluralism and tolerance, but where religion is increasingly being marginalized. There is a tendency to consider religion, all religion, as something insignificant, alien or even destabilizing to modern society, and to attempt by different means to prevent it from having any influence on the life of society.'
"Of course, nobody would confuse or equate this marginalization of religion with the actual persecution and killing of Christians in other areas of the world. This conference, however, will no doubt help to shed light on the incidence of hate crimes against Christians even in regions where international public opinion would not normally expect them to happen. For hate crimes almost invariably feed on an environment where religious freedom is not fully respected and religion is discriminated against.
"In the OSCE region, we are largely blessed with a consensus on the importance of religious liberty. This is why it is important that we continue our conversation on the substance of religious liberty, on its fundamental connection with the idea of truth, and on the difference between religious freedom and relativism that merely tolerates religion while considering it with some degree of hostility. Again I quote from the 2011 Message for the World Day of Peace: 'Religious freedom' - the Holy Father said - 'should be understood, then, not merely as immunity from coercion, but even more fundamentally as an ability to order one's own choices in accordance with truth. […] A freedom which is hostile or indifferent to God becomes self-negating and does not guarantee full respect for others. A will which believes itself radically incapable of seeking truth and goodness has no objective reasons or motives for acting save those imposed by its fleeting and contingent interests; it does not have an "identity" to safeguard and build up through truly free and conscious decisions. As a result, it cannot demand respect from other "wills," which are themselves detached from their own deepest being and thus capable of imposing other "reasons" or, for that matter, no "reason" at all. The illusion that moral relativism provides the key for peaceful coexistence is actually the origin of divisions and the denial of the dignity of human beings.'
"Precisely this vision which identifies freedom with relativism or militant agnosticism, and which casts doubt on the possibility of ever knowing the truth, could be an underlying factor in the increased occurrence of those hate incidents and crimes which will be the object of our debate today . . ."
Fred H. Summe is Vice President of Northern Kentucky Right to Life, P.O. Box 1202, Covington, Kentucky 41012
The U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce has commenced an investigation into how Planned Parenthood Federation of America has used, or misused, the federal taxpayer's contribution of over $350 million each year. In a letter to Planned Parenthood, Chairman Rep. Cliff Stearns requested documentation that "ensures federal money received by PPFA and its affiliates is not being used to impermissibly subsidize abortion."
Stearns also requested that Planned Parenthood submit copies of its policies and procedures showing that all clinics "report all cases of suspected sexual abuse," reports LifeSiteNews.com.
Americans United for Life (AUL) released a comprehensive report documenting misuse of Medicaid and Title X family planning funds by Planned Parenthood.
AUL president, Dr. Charmaine Yoest, congratulated Rep. Cliff Stearns "for his leadership on this issue and for his willingness to look more closely at Planned Parenthood and its affiliates for their fraudulent use of taxpayer dollars, as outlined in AUL's report."
Documenting Planned Parenthood's willingness to assist in the covering up of sexual abuse of minor children as young as 13 years, are 16 videos produced by Live Action (LiveAction.org). "Even before the human trafficking footage, we released videos of 10 clinics that revealed the sexual abuse cover-up of minors as young as 13. In these 10 clinics, we had actors posing as the underage girls, self-reporting abuse and asking for help. In every case, Planned Parenthood worked to cover up the abuse of the underage girls and did not comply with the mandatory reporting laws for sexual abuse," reports Lila Rose, president of Live Action.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli reacted to the unedited video footage, "…what you do have is clearly an open willingness of several organizations, meaning subsidiaries of Planned Parenthood nationally…[to aid] sex trafficking of minors, and an open willingness to participate in this."
The national news media apologists for Planned Parenthood create the bogus argument that federal funds are not used by Planned Parenthood to perform abortions. How ludicrous is such an argument! If Planned Parenthood uses the funds to pay rent, utilities, salaries, advertisement, etc., enabling it to do abortions, isn't it in fact using the funds to do abortions?
"Taxpayer funds don't go to pay for abortions. This defies common sense and basic logic; of course taxpayer money helps to finance abortions at Planned Parenthood clinics. …As clinic director, I saw how money received by Planned Parenthood affiliate clinics all went into one pot at the end of the day – it isn't divvied up and directed to specific services," states Abby Johnson, former clinic director of a Planned Parenthood "clinic" in Texas, and author of Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader's Eye-Opening Journey Across the Life Line.
"Planned Parenthood's abortion business is very, very lucrative. The organization does a billion dollars worth of 'business' each year. Abortions alone account for over a third of this revenue … Another third comes from you and me in the form of government grants and contracts. …the organization has built up nearly one billion in assets, making it one of the wealthiest 'nonprofits' in American history, even as it has made the rest of us poorer by eliminating millions of people from our population," states Steve Mosher, president of Population Research Institute.
To the excitement of those who hold the Judeo-Christian principle of the sanctity of all innocent human life, the House Republicans, reinforced with many strongly pro-life freshmen, passed earlier this year an amendment to the proposed budget, defunding Planned Parenthood.
As the budget deadline approached, John Boehner and the majority of the House Republicans, facing a "threat" by the Democratic-controlled Senate and a possible veto by President Obama, abandoned all moral principles and agreed to again give federal tax funds to Planned Parenthood. On the misrepresentation that funding Planned Parenthood would be taken up in the Senate in a separate vote, the majority of the Republicans in the House withdrew the amendment to defund Planned Parenthood. All knew that a separate bill to defund Planned Parenthood would never pass the U.S. Senate, where it would require the support of at least 60 senators.
By abandoning the unborn child, the majority of Republicans in the House would not have to face the news media-created "boogie man" of an electorate angry at the government "shutting down."
Although there was talk by the Republicans of taking this issue up at a later date, and in future budgets, they all knew, as did the liberal pro-abortion news media and the Democratic Party, that all other future attempts would surely fail, since any such action to defund Planned Parenthood could only pass if it was an indispensable part of the budget bill.
This whole budget fiasco again proves that protection of the unborn child is an issue that only some of the Republicans consider a core issue, one on which there can really be no compromise. On the other side, the pro-abortion Democrats have again shown that the so-called "right" to destroy the life of the unborn child will be preserved by them no matter what.
So when the determined Democrats faced the lukewarm Republicans, the Republicans quickly capitulated.
Even though many Catholic colleges and universities have pro-abortion politicians as commencement speakers, such as the University of Notre Dame inviting President Obama, the most pro-abortion president in the history of the country, and then presenting him with an honorary degree, most Catholics would be shocked to know that Planned Parenthood also finds much support from Catholic institutions.
On April 11, 2011, the Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) issued its report, "A Scandalous Relationship: Catholic Colleges and Planned Parenthood," documenting more than 150 current and past connections between the two. "The report discovered referrals to Planned Parenthood for health services, as well as Planned Parenthood internships, fellowships, employee backgrounds, and other types of ties," reports lifesitenews.com.
"What is publicized on the Internet often indicates more extensive concerns hidden from public view, so while the information contained in this report is shocking and scandalous, it is only based on a rudimentary search of college web sites and likely does not capture all ties to Planned Parenthood at Catholic colleges and universities," states Patrick Reilly, President of CNS.
Even locally, how many times have you seen Catholic churches and institutions advertise, promote, sponsor, or donate to the Susan G. Komen Society to find a cure for cancer, all the while knowing that it is a major contributor to Planned Parenthood? "From 2004-2009, Komen affiliates contributed about $3.3 million to Planned Parenthood," reports The Wanderer.
Most recently, Bishop Leonard P. Blair of Toledo, OH, decided to order the churches and schools to discontinue support of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, stating: "They are also contributors to Planned Parenthood, which, though it may claim to provide needed medical services to poor women, is also the largest provider of abortions in our country." The Toledo, OH, diocese joins the St. Louis and Lafayette dioceses, and the Ohio Catholic Conference, which also expressed their opposition to supporting funding for Komen.
Sad to report, not all bishops agree. Bishop Ronald Herzog of Alexandria, LA, stated his support for the controversial Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. The diocese of Little Rock, AR, retracted its prior decision discouraging funding for Komen.
This disunity among the U.S. Catholic bishops over this issue, as well as whether to enforce Church Canon Law by denying Holy Communion to those public officeholders who publicly and consistently vote for and support the legalized slaughter of innocent children, has, and continues to, undermine efforts of the pro-life movement to reestablish in our culture and law the Judeo-Christian principle of the sanctity of all innocent human life.
So the battle continues, not only in Washington and in capitals in all 50 states, but also in the churches. Even though defunding Planned Parenthood of federal and state tax money would result in only denying them a percentage of their overall income, it would be a significant step toward saving our nation from self-destruction.
If Catholic institutions would cease supporting and funding Planned Parenthood and/or those who do support it, it would be a significant step toward promoting the "culture of life."
For the unborn child, let us "Stand Up For Life," as commanded by Pope John Paul II.
(Editor's note: Mr.Templeman wrote this while in prison. He has since been released and is in our prayers. We welcome contributions from prisoners. We would like to hear from a variety of prisoners.)
The breath is the Spirit
of the dance we have heard.
It is the Father Who sang.
The Son was His Word.
The love in our feet,
the need in our eyes,
the song in our teeth,
the pain in our sighs,
tells me I cannot go
except as He calls me.
I reach for eternity.
Religious leaders met in Assisi, Italy, October 27, marking the 25th anniversary of Blessed John Paul II's historic meeting there with representatives of the world's religions to pray for peace. The community of Sant'Egidio annually hosts a meeting "in order to deepen the spirit of peace and reconciliation so that God, through prayer, will make us people of people of peace" (Pope Benedict XVI).
This year's meeting was in Munich, Germany, September 11-13. The Holy Father sent a message for the meeting in a letter to Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising. His message follows:
". . . The theme of the meeting for peace, 'Bound to Live Together,' reminds us that we human beings are bound to each other. This social dimension is basically a simple aptitude that derives directly from our human condition. It is, therefore, our task to give it a positive slant. Living together can turn into living in antagonism, it can become hell if we do not learn to accept each other and if no one wants to be anything other than himself.
For The Spirit Of Jesus In Our Society
O Jesus, come back into our society, our family life, our souls, and reign there as our peaceful Sovereign. Enlighten with the splendor of faith and the charity of Your tender heart the souls of those who work for the good of the people, for Your poor. Impart to them Your own spirit, a spirit of discipline, order, and gentleness, preserving the flame of enthusiasm ever alight in their hearts . . . May that day come very soon, when we shall see You restored to the center of civic life, borne on the shoulders of Your joyful people.
Blessed Pope John XXIII
"However, opening oneself to others and offering oneself to others can also be a gift. Thus everything depends on viewing the propensity for living together as a commitment and a gift and on finding the true way to coexist. Today this coexistence, which could once be restricted to a single region, cannot but be lived at a universal level. Today, the subject of coexistence is the whole of humanity. Meetings such as the one held in Assisi and the one being held in Munich at this time are opportunities in which religions can question themselves and ask themselves how to promote peaceful coexistence.
"When we gather as Christians, let us remember that for biblical faith God is the creator of all human beings; indeed, God wants us to form one family in which we are all brothers and sisters. Let us remember that Christ proclaimed peace to those near and far (Eph 2:16 ff). We must never cease to learn it. The fundamental meaning of these encounters is that we should address those near and far in the same spirit of peace that Christ showed us. We must learn to live with each other rather than beside each other, namely, we must learn to open our hearts to others, to enable others to share in our joys, hopes, and anxieties.
"The heart is the place in which the Lord makes Himself close to us. This is why religion, which is focused on the encounter of the human being with the divine mystery, is essentially linked to the question of peace. If religion fails to bring about the encounter with God, if it brings God down to our level instead of raising us up to Him, if in a certain sense it makes Him our property, then in that way it can contribute to the disintegration of peace. If instead it leads to the divine, to the Creator and Redeemer of all human beings, then it becomes a force for peace.
"We know that in Christianity too there have been real distortions of the image of God that have led to the disruption of peace which is all the more reason to allow the divine God to purify us, to become people of peace. We must never fail in our joint effort for peace. This is why the many initiatives across the world, such as Sant'Egidio's annual prayer meeting for peace, and other similar projects are so valuable. The field in which the fruit of peace should flourish must always be cultivated. We are often unable to do anything more than ceaselessly prepare the ground for peace, within us and around us, taking many small steps, mindful of the great challenges that humanity as a whole — not the individual — must reckon with, such as migration, globalization, economic crises, and the safeguard of creation.
"Yet ultimately we know that peace is not simply 'achieved' but is always also 'given.' 'Peace is a gift of God and at the same time a task which is never fully completed' (Message for World Day of Peace 2011, n. 15). For this very reason it is necessary for the common witness of all who seek God with a pure heart, to achieve increasingly the idea of peaceful coexistence among all human beings. Since the first Meeting in Assisi 25 years ago, there have been turning points and many projects are being put into practice for reconciliation and peace which fill us with hope.
"Unfortunately, however, there have also been many opportunities missed and many steps back. Terrible acts of violence and terrorism have repeatedly suffocated the hope of a peaceful coexistence of the human family at the dawn of the third millennium. Some old conflicts smoulder under the ashes or flare up anew, and in addition there are new clashes and new problems.
"All this clearly shows us that peace is a permanent mandate entrusted to us and at the same time a gift to be invoked . . ."
WASHINGTON, D.C.—In advance of the 2012 elections, the U.S. bishops reaffirmed their 2007 document, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, in this coming election cycle and beyond, as the "continuing teaching of our Bishops' Conference and our guidance for Catholics in the exercise of their rights and duties as participants in our democracy."
Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), joined the chairs of nine USCCB committees in offering an Introductory Note to the document. The bishops discussed this action at their June meeting and authorized it at the September meeting of the USCCB Administrative Committee. Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship was approved overwhelmingly by the U.S. bishops in 2007.
"We urge our Catholic pastors and people to continue to use this important statement to help them form their consciences, to contribute to civil and respectful public dialogue, and to shape their choices in the coming election in the light of Catholic teaching," the bishops wrote. "It does not offer a voter's guide, scorecard of issues, or direction on how to vote. It applies Catholic moral principles to a range of important issues and warns against misguided appeals to 'conscience' to ignore fundamental moral claims, to reduce Catholic moral concerns to one or two matters, or to justify choices simply to advance partisan, ideological or personal interests."
The Introductory Note does not modify or interpret the document itself and emphasizes the importance of religious freedom. It raises six "current and fundamental problems, some involving opposition to intrinsic evils, and others raising serious moral questions." These are: abortion and threats to the lives and dignity of the vulnerable, sick or unwanted; threats to Catholic ministries, including health care, education and social services, to violate their consciences or stop serving those in need; intensifying efforts to redefine marriage; unemployment, poverty, and debt; immigration; and wars, terror, and violence, particularly in the Middle East.
The USCCB is launching a new website for Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/. It will offer a wide range of web-based and written materials and tools to assist pastors, parishes, Catholic organizations, and individuals. The document with the new Introductory Note will be available in print by the end of October and is already available online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/upload/Forming-Consciences-for-Faithful-Citizenship-2011.pdf.
(Source: USCCB press release)
vatican city — On September 11, Pope Benedict XVI sent a letter to Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
In his letter, the Pope said:
". . . On this day my thoughts turn to the somber events of September 11, 2001, when so many innocent lives were lost in the brutal assault on the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the further attacks in Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. I join you in commending the thousands of victims to the infinite mercy of Almighty God and in asking our heavenly Father to continue to console those who mourn the loss of loved ones.
"The tragedy of that day is compounded by the perpetrators' claim to be acting in God's name. Once again, it must be unequivocally stated that no circumstances can ever justify acts of terrorism. Every human life is precious in God's sight and no effort should be spared in the attempt to promote throughout the world a genuine respect for the inalienable rights and dignity of individuals and peoples everywhere.
"The American people are to be commended for the courage and generosity that they showed in the rescue operations and for their resilience in moving forward with hope and confidence. It is my fervent prayer that a firm commitment to justice and a global culture of solidarity will help rid the world of the grievances that so often give rise to acts of violence and will create the conditions for greater peace and prosperity, offering a brighter and more secure future.
"With these sentiments, I extend my most affectionate greetings to you, your brother Bishops, and all those entrusted to your pastoral care, and I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of peace and serenity in the Lord."
(Source: L'Osservatore Romano English edition)
WASHINGTON, D.C. —The U.S. bishops have established a new Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty to address growing concerns over the erosion of freedom of religion in America.
Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), established the ad hoc committee after consulting with the USCCB Administrative Committee during the Committee's September 13-14 meeting in Washington . . .
In a letter to bishops to announce the ad hoc committee, Archbishop Dolan said religious freedom "in its many and varied applications for Christians and people of faith, is now increasingly and in unprecedented ways under assault in America."
"This is most particularly so in an increasing number of federal government programs or policies that would infringe upon the right of conscience of people of faith or otherwise harm the foundational principle of religious liberty," he said. "As shepherds of over 70 million U.S. citizens we share a common and compelling responsibility to proclaim the truth of religious freedom for all, and so to protect our people from this assault which now appears to grow at an ever accelerating pace in ways most of us could never have imagined."
Archbishop Dolan said the committee will work closely with national organizations, charities, ecumenical and interreligious partners, and scholars "to form a united and forceful front in defense of religious freedom in our nation," and its work will begin immediately.
He added that "the establishment of the Ad Hoc Committee is one element of what I expect to be a new moment in the history of our Conference. Never before have we faced this kind of challenge to our ability to engage in the public square as people of faith and as a service provider. If we do not act now, the consequence will be grave."
Archbishop Dolan said that, although he and his predecessor as USCCB President, Cardinal Francis George, had sent private letters to President Obama on religious liberty in the context of redefining marriage, none of those letters received a response.
"I have offered to meet with the President to discuss these concerns and to impress upon him the dire nature of these actions by government," Archbishop Dolan said.
Archbishop Dolan listed six religious liberty concerns arising just since June:
(Source: USCCB press release)
Somali refugee mothers give water and food to their malnourished children at a medical center in Dagahaley refugee camp, Kenya. Following a severe drought, many families faced starvation and left Somalia on foot. Thousands of refugees are flooding into Dadaab every week. Photo by Laura Sheahen/Catholic Relief Services
As the drought continues in East Africa, we pray that world leaders will work together to provide the most comfort, food, water, and shelter to those in need. Lord, allow us to be transformed so that we may discern what is the will of God.
May God's will guide us in our actions so that we may know how to embrace the sacrifices we are called to make and respond to God's call of solidarity and justice.
We ask this through Your son Jesus Christ Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
For the Church, that we may not grow weary of the suffering in East Africa and continue to work together and keep the needs of our brothers and sisters in the forefront of our hearts and minds, we pray to the Lord. Response: Merciful God, hear our prayer
For all world leaders that they remember the people of East Africa and their plight and work to provide assistance, we pray to the Lord. Response: Merciful God, hear our prayer
For people in East Africa who are traveling many miles in search of water and food or living in camps trying to find ways to feed their families, may the help they receive be a sign of God's promise, we pray to the Lord. Response: Merciful God, hear our prayer
For those of us gathered here, remind us of Your love so that we may know how to share this love with all of our sisters and brothers, we pray to the Lord. Response: Merciful God, hear our prayer
(Source: Catholic Relief Services)
By the President of the United States of America.
"I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving
be offered for all men, especially for kings and those in authority, that we
may be able to lead undisturbed and tranquil lives."
(1 Tm 2:1-2)
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
William H. Seward, Secretary of State
Because we are sons and daughters of God, saved by Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we do not merely read the news but make the news. We direct the course of world events by faith expressed in action and intercession. Please pray for the stories covered in this paper. Clip out this intercessory list and make it part of your daily prayer.
Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378, www.presentationministries.com