Vatican City, Oct 14, 2005 (CNA) - Speaking to the General Synod of Bishops in Rome, who reached the midpoint of their meetings yesterday, Archbishop Felix Alaba Adeosin Job of Ibadan, Nigeria addressed the assembly on the topic of immigrants--particularly religious and priests, who, he said, must be offered respect if they are to celebrate the Eucharist with dignity.
The 'Instrumentum laboris', which is the working document prepared before the Synod, "reminds us", the archbishop said, "that the Eucharist brings the faithful together and makes them a community, despite differences in race, language, nation and culture."
But, "migration", he added, "is not limited to lay faithful alone."
Noting the many priests and religious, particularly from his own region, who are sent "to study abroad for their home congregations or dioceses, he noted that "if the immigrant priest is to celebrate the sacred sacrifice with dignity, devotion and reverence he must be recognized, be granted a decent means of livelihood and be assured of belonging."
Turning to pastoral care for female religious immigrants, the archbishop said, this situation "is more complex, and deserves greater care."
In his own experience as a bishop, he recalled that, "These young ladies are [often] uprooted from their culture and tradition and planted in Europe and America where the climate, culture and customs often overwhelm them and often they are thrown out of these institutions."
"Inevitably", he said, "many of them fall prey to people and situations. Their plight, as the broken body of Christ, should be looked into with compassion and love. They are part of the body of Christ, the Church."
He stressed that "Consecrated life is a witness to Christ in the Church and their presence is a blessing to the local Church."
Paris, France, Oct 14, 2005 (CNA) - Earlier this week, Msgr. Francesco Follo, Head of the Vatican Delegation to the 33rd general UNESCO conference, meeting in Paris, told participants that in light of recent scientific and medical advances, treating human beings as simple research material puts the entire species in grave moral danger.
The Monsignor spoke to the assembly on October 10th on issues of bioethics, education, freedom and justice.
"Today," he said, "we find ourselves in a new situation in which mankind, faced with the temptation to treat human beings as simple research material, could place the whole future of the species in danger."
Therefore, he stressed, "the main reason for which bioethics must exist is itself ethical."
He added that goals of education must be to form individuals to be "free and responsible, especially in their affective and social behavior."
UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is meeting this week to discuss cultural challenges facing the world of science today.
, Oct 14, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican recognizes that all people have a right to information and communication, which is vital in the life of all democratic societies, Archbishop Celestino Migliore told a United Nations committee Oct. 13.
The archbishop expressed his hope that the Second Phase of the UN World Summit on the Information Society, to be held in Tunis shortly, will lead to "further concrete efforts to build a more inclusive digital society, which will reduce the widespread ‘info-poverty’.
"It would be well if a new dynamic were created which goes beyond the political and commercial logic usually at play in these fields," he said.
The Vatican’s permanent observer at the UN said access to communication should not depend upon wealth, education, or political power. "The right to communicate is the right of all," he said.
The archbishop addressed the justice issues related to the Information Society, characterized by communications media and new technologies. New technologies, he said, have an important role to play in the advancement of the poor and in the promotion of their point of view before the world’s decision makers, said the archbishop.
"Knowledge is essential in establishing presence in the international marketplace, and is key to participating in the global economy of which the Internet is an increasingly important vehicle," he said.
He spoke of a successful Vatican-sponsored initiative in South America, called the Digital Network of the Church in Latin America (RIAL), which promotes digital technologies and media education, especially in poor areas. The Holy See also supports the continued promotion of the traditional role of libraries and radios in formation.
The archbishop emphasized the need to protect children and young people from the increase of violence, intolerance and pornography that is being published and broadcast.
He said people must also address whether technological progress helps humanity grow in dignity, responsibility and openness to others.
Albany, N.Y., Oct 14, 2005 (CNA) - Dioceses in New York State have launched a massive postcard campaign in favor of tax credits for religious- and private-school education.
The New York State Catholic Conference has printed 1.5 million postcards in support of the proposal that would also provide tax credits for families with children in public schools and for all public- and private-school teachers to offset classroom expenses, reported the Associated Press.
The postcards have been distributed to churches in seven of the state's eight dioceses. The Diocese of Brooklyn ran a similar campaign last year, mailing 90,000 postcards.
The current postcards are directed to Gov. George Pataki, state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. They read: "I strongly support education tax credits as a way to improve public, independent and religious schools and to help ALL parents offset the cost of educating their students."
The tax credit would include up to $3,000 a year for a family with two or more children in school or in home school. Credits would decrease as the household income increases above $40,000. The tax credit would be used against a family's cost for books and other classroom supplies or to compensate for tuition at private, religious or nonreligious schools.
According to the AP, the proposal would also provide public- and private-school teachers a tax credit of $250 to $500 a year for out-of-pocket classroom supplies.
State Sen. Martin Golden, a Brooklyn Republican and the bill's co-sponsor, said the measure would provide more funds directly to schools because families and teachers could spend more of their own money on supplies, computer software and other items if they can recover some of the cost.
Pataki has said he would consider tax credits for families sending children to nonpublic schools.
, Oct 14, 2005 (CNA) - Catholics must examine their "lackadaisical" approach to the Eucharist, and recognize that in the mass "we share in the feast that the Lord Himself has prepared for us," said Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo.
"A great crisis today around the Eucharist is not just a crisis of faith, but a crisis of love - of a love rooted in obedience to the love revealed to us by our God," wrote the bishop in a letter to be published in the Oct. 15 issue of the diocesan newspaper, New Earth.
The bishop noted that October is the last month of the Year of the Eucharist, inaugurated by Pope John Paul II in October 2004, and dedicated to the rediscovery of the importance of the Eucharist for Catholics. The Year of the Eucharist will officially close with the mass of the Synod of Bishops in Rome Oct. 23.
"Some people want to have the Eucharist without conversion; yet that is not the way of the Lord," he continued. The bishop noted that some people receive Communion in a state of grave sin.
"They may miss mass on Sunday, they may be taking money illegitimately, they may be engaging in sexual relations outside of marriage, they may vocally support abortion, euthanasia, homosexual activity and homosexual unions, they may fail in the just treatment of their neighbor by gossip or prejudice, or they may commit some other serious sin and go to Communion," he said.
Others perceive that they "do not get anything out of mass" and simply view it as one more event in a busy weekend, sometimes leaving it as the last thing to fit into a full schedule of activities. Others complain that mass is too long or simply do not come.
"This is a tragedy," he said, "because the Eucharist is about Jesus Christ and his saving works on our behalf."
The archbishop addressed apathy about mass attendance, a lack of knowledge about the Eucharist, and visible signs of irreverence for the Eucharist. He also expressed dismay over the use of cell phones by the laity and ordained ministers alike during mass. Inappropriate dress, gum chewing, cell phones and pagers do not express reverence for the Eucharist, the bishop said. People must dress modestly for church, he said, adding that shorts for adults and mini-skirts for women are not appropriate.
"Each of us must examine how lackadaisical we have become with the celebration of the Eucharist," he said. "While we may have no ill intention in our hearts, we need to look at how we dress for the banquet."
As the Year of the Eucharist concludes, the bishop said he hopes Catholics have come to discover more fully the sacrifice in which they participate and the gift of salvation offered in Jesus.
Marion, Ohio, Oct 14, 2005 (CNA) - From 1981 to 1985, Coach Gerry Faust led one of the most fabled teams in college football through one of their most mediocre eras in history.
The Ohio-born coach, legendary for his high school coaching career, was replaced by Lou Holtz, who went on to lead the Notre Dame Fighting Irish back to greatness. While many would harbor resentment or regret at such a tenuous stint in the spotlight, Faust says that he has used the experience to strengthen his faith in God and teach other Catholics about the art of perseverance.
Coach Faust told David Hartline of the Catholic Report, that when things didn’t go quite as planned at Notre Dame, he "accepted it as God’s will."
"I felt I had let the kids down", he said, and "tried to figure the whole thing out. Perhaps Our Lord Jesus or the Blessed Mother wanted me to speak to others about life experiences like I do now… I know that I have been richly blessed and I love that university. I go to South Bend often and I just loved being able to work with everyone, whether it was at Moeller, Notre Dame or Akron."
Faust spoke to Hartline while traveling through Ohio, speaking to various Catholic groups in the area.
In 1985, Faust’s last year as coach, the Miami Hurricanes, as of to add insult to injury, ran up the score of the final game of the season 58-7 at Orange Bowl Stadium--something Hartline pointed out, would have made many coaches "go ballistic."
Asked whether he was bitter at then Miami coach Jimmy Johnson, Faust said, "I never judge a person, the Lord does that. I do remember that as I was about to go on to the field after the Miami loss and a priest came up to me and said don’t shake hands with that guy. I shook Jimmy Johnson’s hand and left it at that."
Talking about life nowadays, since finishing his coaching career at the University of Akron, Faust says that "My faith and family are the two most important things to me."
"God has blessed me so much," he said, "…I feel like I have got to give something back by speaking to Church groups, especially Catholic men’s conferences. I speak about 150 times a year. I feel I get more out of those conferences than those in attendance."
"I learn so much from the speakers and those who came to hear us," he recalled. " I look at all the troubles in the world and it seems, in my life, so many dreams became a possibility."
"My dreams may not have turned out like I wanted them to," says Faust, "but I have been so blessed…as Catholics we have so many special gifts. Unfortunately, not everyone takes advantage of all these blessings, like the presence of Our Lord in the daily Mass, the renewal that comes with confession, the intercession of the Blessed Mother and prayers like the rosary."
"I just want to pay back by telling others about all of these great gifts of our faith."
, Oct 14, 2005 (CNA) - In an video interview, Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, affirmed that the single most-destructive force facing our nation today is the breakdown of the American Family. He discussed the social trends that have led to the breakdown of the family and offers positive steps - such as comprehensive welfare reform - to reinvigorate good moral choices that keep families strong and keeps families together.
He goes back to the core value of the American people, freedom, and stresses the divide between liberals and conservatives on this notion., and how the idea of freedom has gone away from the Founders idea of a common good, a purpose beyond the individual, something beyond the wants and desires of the individual.
The video interview gives a thoughtful, inside look at what motivated the Senator to write the book "It Takes a Family" and why he wants all families to read this book, so as to become re-engaged and refocused back to the family and community and less focused on self. "It's important to step back from our busy life and reflect on some of the specifics that have led our society astray and how we can turn the trends back toward the family. I want this book to help individuals reflect about their choices in life and then re-inspire them to do what is right for the common good."
Sen. Santorum also said you saw the best and worst in people when the devastating hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. He said, "clearly the most effective first responders were families and church members who pulled their resources together to help the victims, without thought of race, creed or politics."
Family centered approach. Popular culture is hostile to family values. We have to be more engaged in the culture and be protective of our children. He commented on the F.A.M.I.L.Y bracelet "Forget about me, I love you." Sen. Santorum wished to put forth the idea that children learn in the family to give things up for others. Selfless love is learned in the family. The institution of family goes beyond each members, and therefore is fundamental for our society, he concluded.
New Milford, Conn., Oct 14, 2005 (CNA) - A new book of prayer, dedicated to mothers and influenced by the life of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, is now available is bookstores.
"Catholic Prayer Book for Mothers" by Donna Cooper O’Boyle features traditional and original prayers, includes quotes from Pope John Paul II and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, and offers moms advice and encouragement as it discusses the gifts, sacrifices and sorrows of motherhood, reports the New Times.
"How does a mother inundated with family really have time for prayer? She really needs to transform her life into a prayer," said the mother of five and longtime friend of Mother Teresa.
"Our society today devalues the role of the mother because we judge value by the size of the paycheck," she told the newspaper.
But the book tries "to help mothers be at peace being a mother, just knowing that the role at the heart of the home is a significant role," she added.
Cooper O'Boyle's friendship with Mother Teresa began almost 20 years ago when she and her family were in Washington, D.C., visiting AIDS and cancer patients at a convent of the Missionaries of Charity. Their meeting at mass one morning struck the young mother, who eventually sent Mother Teresa a letter.
"Lo and behold, I got a letter back," she told the New Times. "She wrote with bits of advice and direction and asking for prayer and offering prayer."
Cooper O'Boyle had received 22 letters and a personal phone call from Mother Teresa and had seen her on 12 occasions, meeting privately with her a couple of times before she died.
The key to Mother Teresa's success in her work, Cooper O'Boyle says, "boils down to her saying yes to God."
Cooper O’Boyle will hold a book signing at Borders Bookstore in Danbury Nov. 13 at 2 p.m.
"Catholic Prayer Book for Mothers" is available at www.osv.com
and local bookstores.
Havana, Cuba, Oct 14, 2005 (CNA) - In an interview with the Italian daily La Stampa, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone of Genoa, who just returned from a visit to Cuba, said Fidel Castro is seeking the help of the Catholic Church to curb the number of abortions in that country.
Cuba is the only country in Latin America where abortion is considered a family planning method, and during recent decades the number of women who have undergone the procedure has become alarming.
"Fidel Castro has asked our help in combating the plague of abortion in Cuba," said the cardinal, adding that recourse to abortion "is also a consequence of sexual tourism. Naturally Castro is concerned, and I was embarrassed by the behavior of certain Italians who travel abroad."
According to Cardinal Bertone, Castro is concerned about the spread of abortions and considers it to be on the causes of the country’s demographic crisis.
Quito, Ecuador, Oct 14, 2005 (CNA) - Several pro-life groups in Ecuador have brought a lawsuit against the medical laboratories and government health officials who distribute the morning after pill in that country despite a court order that prohibits sale of the pill.
The lawsuit is against the Galiafarma and Tecnofarm pharmaceutical companies for illegally distributing the pills Postinor 2 and Glanique, the commercial names of the abortifacient drug.
The text of the lawsuit notes that the medical data on the so-called Emergency Oral Contraceptive, omits information about the abortifacient effect of the pill and is thus a violation of the public’s right to know.
The text adds that while in the United States, where abortion is legal, manufacturers of the drug are required to clearly describe its anti-implantation effect, in Ecuador, where abortion is illegal, such a requirement is mysteriously absent.
Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 14, 2005 (CNA) - The Director of the Bioethics Group at the Pan American University of Mexico, Rodrigo Guerra, warned this week that in places where the legalization of the morning after pill is being debated, many people are not aware of their own country’s legal statutes regarding the unborn and are told that human life does not begin at the moment of fertilization.
Guerra, who is also coordinator of the Social Observatory of the Latin American Bishops’ Council (CELAM) said that in order to deny the possible anti-implantation effects of the drug, health officials in different countries where abortion is illegal hide certain technical aspects which are unknown to the average citizen and which demonstrate that the empirical data is still insufficient in determining whether the pill is just another contraceptive.
On the other hand, Guerra stated that in countries where abortion is allowed, the very laboratories that promote the so-called Emergency Oral Contraceptive recognize that the main ingredient, Levonorgestrel, can prevent the maturation of the uterus lining and thus preclude the minimum conditions necessary for the zygote to become implanted and develop. "In both situations an ideological component exists that is thrown into the mix with the scientific debate and that distorts the sense of justice that should be present in all pubic policy," Guerra said.
Regarding the recent studies carried out on monkeys and rats by health researchers in Peru, Mexico and Chile, Guerra noted that while the leaders of such research, Muller and Crozatto, prove that Levonorgestrel does not inhibit implantation, it is not scientific to extrapolate that this is the case with humans.
"Mating in these types of monkeys occurs very close to the time of ovulation and thus the drug does not act like an abortifacient but rather merely like a contraceptive. In the case of humans, sexual relations can take place before, during and after ovulation, meaning the effect of the substance can truly be abortifacient," he maintained.
Lastly, Guerra called on Catholics to defend human life with sophisticated and intelligent reasons both in the medical field and in the area of philosophical ethics.
Cadiz, Spain, Oct 14, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Antonio Ceballos Atienza of Cadiz and Ceuta, Spain, called on authorities of the EU, Spain and Morocco this week to show and demand respect for the human dignity of immigrants who are deported, because the suffering face of Christ is reflected in them.
In a statement, the bishop called for respect "in the name of God" for "the human rights of these men, women and children who being deported to other countries and that they be guaranteed the most elemental and dignified human treatment."
Bishop Ceballos said he recognizes that immigration is not the solution to the problems of injustice and poverty that immigrants experience in their own countries, but the deaths of five immigrants last September on the border between Ceuta and Morocco and the subsequent events the followed "force me to not remain silent and to denounce, in the name of God" and of the citizens of this diocese "the manner in which solutions are being given to these persons in whom I see the face of Jesus Christ suffering such ignominy and humiliation."
"The dignity of the human person demands that all men and women be treated, not as animals, nor as machines, but as persons and children of God," he said. Bishop Ceballos asked that during this weekend’s Masses, prayers be offered for a just and dignified solution and that people protest outside the churches "in silence and in prayer, as a communal repulsion of these events."
He thanked parishioners, humanitarian associations and the media for their generosity and for their commitment and service, "which make us all more humane."
Washington D.C., Oct 14, 2005 (CNA) - The United States Catholic Bishops Conference is launching today a new program to renew priests' sense of vocational fulfillment and to encourage them to draw on that satisfaction and invite other men to pursue the priesthood: “Fishers of Men.”
The program is designed to get priests to step back from their daily lives and reflect on the many positive reasons they pursued their vocations, to discuss those reasons with their brother priests, and ultimately to share those reasons with other men with an invitation to the priesthood.
"At the basis of the 'Fishers of Men' program is the conviction that there is a close connection between priests regenerating their appreciation of their own priestly vocation and the creation of an environment in which men are actively invited to respond to God's call to the priesthood," said Bishop Blase Cupich of Rapid City (S.D.), the chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Vocations.
Research done for the Vocations Committee indicates that an invitation from a priest is one of the most effective ways of having a man consider the priesthood. Of seminarians ordained in 2003, 78 percent said that a priest had invited them to consider the priesthood. .
The program is articulated into four phases:
Phase one involves agreement to conduct the program and preparing for a convocation -- or summit -- of the diocese's priests. Phase two includes interviews with a broad sampling of the priests in a diocese, the results of which will be presented at the summit. Phase three is the Summit, during which the assembled priests will reflect further on the questions asked in the interview phase, share with one another their responses, and discuss ways to share their renewed sense of contentment with other men who might be thinking about a vocation to the priesthood. Phase four of the program is the ongoing follow up to the Summit and involves the development of a strategy for keeping priests actively engaged in inviting men to consider a vocation to the priesthood.
An extensive resource kit prepared by the Vocations Secretariat includes everything a diocese needs to implement the program. Sample letters, interview questions, timelines, a model agenda for a day-long summit, as well as a sample PowerPoint(r) presentation are all contained in a three-ring binder sent to all 195 dioceses in the United States.
The kit also includes a trailer for a "Fishers of Men" video that can be incorporated into the Summit program. Produced by Grassroots Film (see note below) of Brooklyn, N.Y., the fast-paced video shows many of the facets of a priest's daily life.
"Its purpose is twofold: renew in US priests and bishops an awareness of how treasured the gift of priesthood is and what it means in each of our lives; and to encourage us all, inspired by this renewal, to urge other men to consider the vocation which we have received as a gift." Bishop Cupich concluded.
NOTE: The Fishers of Men video is produced by Joseph Campo of Grassroots Films: