Archive of October 3, 2007

Are you guys really going to be out here for 40 days?

Sacramento, Calif., Oct 3, 2007 (CNA) - We’re praying at Planned Parenthood at 29th and B Streets. St. Stephen's took the Wednesday shift and St. Joseph's in Auburn took Thursday. The parking lot of PP is well lit, and as an odd answer to our prayers, PP has hired a nighttime security guard, further insuring our protection throughout the night.

A young man named Hank who works at PP approached me today for the very first time. He began by saying, "I'm curious about something... Are you guys really going to be out here for 40 days? I said, "Yes." He continued incredulously, " mean all day and all night?" I answered "Yes" again. He responded, "Wow! That's amazing!" I told him how seriously we felt about this and he said, "Yeah, I know, I've been reading through the 40 Days web site."

He came closer and I took his hand, introducing myself. I told him we cared about him and he said, "Yeah, I know you do," looking me directly in the eye. His lunch break was about up, so he left to return to his job. Please keep Hank in your prayers.

At home, I received a long-distance phone call and a young woman's voice began, "Is this the 40 Days for Life hotline number?" Then, with great anger in her voice, she spoke for several minutes with this theme: "I'm a Christian, but I don't know how you people can judge women who are going in for abortions. You don't know anything about them! How dare you!”

This gave me an opening to tell my story, explaining that I had not always been pro-life, but actually helped my best friend obtain an abortion over twenty years ago, because that is what I thought a "best friend" would do. My friend has suffered tremendously, and I am very regretful for not helping her and her baby.

The woman’s anger gave way to sobbing as she described the "choice" she felt forced to make several years ago. "If someone had only helped me... I was so desperate," and "If I had only known how much it would hurt me, every day of my life, I wouldn't have done it". After about 20 minutes of conversation, she was very receptive to my suggestion that she contact Rachel's Vineyard Post-abortion Healing ministry – in Sacramento: (916) 733-0161, or on the Internet at A call that began with anger turned into a miracle by God's grace.

40 Days: Sacramento plans a variety of special days:
Tuesday, Oct. 9 -- Catechists, Sunday School, Religious Education, Teachers' Day
Tuesday, Oct. 16 -- Day for Widows and Widowers
Thursday, Oct. 18 -- Medical and Health Professionals' Day
Tuesday, Oct. 30 -- Invite your Priest, Pastor, Deacon, and Sister to join us
Sunday, Nov. 4 -- Legal Professionals, Public Officials and Law Enforcement Officer Appreciation Day

There are still a few days and blocks of time, especially at night, that need prayer coverage at 29th and B Street. Please stop by and join us anytime, if even just for a few minutes.

Story courtesy of California Catholic Daily.

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Our belief that God became a man is a historical reality, says Pope Benedict XVI

Vatican City, Oct 3, 2007 (CNA) - The Holy Father took up again today his catechesis on the Apostolic Fathers, reflecting on the figure of Cyril of Alexandria, proclaimed doctor of the Church in 1882 by Pope Leo XIII. In the presence of 40,000 people, Pope Benedict explained how St. Cyril shows us that Jesus’ birth marked the entry of God, who existed before all time, into real history.   

St. Cyril is a true guardian of the faith because he “constantly referred to and quoted from the ecclesiastic authorities prior to his time, to show the continuity of his theology with the tradition of the church.”  For this reason, Benedict noted, he was called the “seal of the Fathers” and the “guardian of exactitude” of the faith.

St. Cyril’s Life

Before being elected bishop of Alexandria, little is know of his life.  The Holy Father noted that “he entered early into the ecclesiastical life and received a good education, both culturally and theologically.”  He was nephew to the then ruling bishop of Alexandria.  Both he and his powerful uncle traveled to Constantinople to attend a synod in 406 to depose the bishop of that city.  Upon his uncle’s death in 412, Cyril was elected bishop of Alexandria, “which he governed with great energy for thirty-two years, looking always to affirm its primacy in the East, while maintaining its traditionally strong links with Rome”.

St. Cyril’s Teaching

Cyril was well known for having worked to heal the rift between Constantinople and Rome. However, in 427, Bishop Nestorius began perpetuating the heresy that Christ's human nature is separate from His divine nature, Pope Benedict explained that Nestorius was “thus denying the true union between God and man in Christ."

Cyril explained his christology thus: “We affirm that there are different natures which are united in a true union, and from both of these there results one single Christ and Son, not because the union has destroyed the difference of natures, but rather that divinity and humanity, united in an indescribable way, have produced for us the only Lord and Christ and Son.”

Relevance for Today

Speaking of the relevance of this theology for today, Benedict spoke these words: “The Christian faith is above all an encounter with Jesus, “a Person who gives life a new horizon”(Enc. Deus caritas est, 1).  “It was not one Son, the Logos (word) who was born of God the Father, and another Son that was born of the holy Virgin; but we believe that precisely Him who existed before all time was born also according to the flesh, of a woman.”

Thus, the Pope affirmed, this doctrine is important, since it shows that our faith is rooted in historical events.  Furthermore, Benedict proclaimed, “according to his promise, he will always be with us…God is eternal, he is born of a woman and remains with us every day.  In this confidence we live, in this confidence we find the path of our life.”

The audience concluded with the Our Father and the Apostolic blessing.  The Holy Father then greeted pilgrims from the various nations gathered in St. Peter’s square to listen to the general audience.

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Vatican representative to UN pleas: make refugees a priority!

Geneva, Ill., Oct 3, 2007 (CNA) - “Millions of normal, ordinary human beings are thrust into situations of incredible humiliation and suffering,” said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi in a statement to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Archbishop Tomasi, the head of the Holy See’s permanent observer mission to the United Nations, surveyed the plight of peoples forcibly displaced from their homes by violent conflicts, extreme misery, environmental degradation, religious persecution, and other injustices. Globally some ten million people are estimated to be refugees from their home country, while about twenty-four million are internally displaced within their country of origin.

The archbishop warned against indifference to these numbers: “Public opinion tends to accept almost as normal the fact that millions of fellow human beings are so uprooted and relegated to miserable and painful conditions. But welcoming refugees and giving them hospitality is, for every one, a vital gesture of human solidarity in order to help them feel less isolated by intolerance and disinterest.”

He urged that uprooted persons take first priority in the international community and that gaps in refugee aid be remedied.  Truly respecting the rights of displaced persons, he claimed, would lead to a comprehensive response for their safety.  “A globalization of protection results from a globalization of rights.”

Refugee issues should be viewed from the perspective of human rights, he argued.  This approach means that the duty to protect displaced persons is international and reaches “beyond the narrow national interest of single states and beyond the fear that it may be a disguised form of domination.” This duty also means that governments and other social groups have a responsibility to protect human rights and may not drive people from their homes.

Archbishop Tomasi also condemned strict asylum regulations which excessively confine refugees to detainment camps: “The policy of detention is enforced beyond strictly necessary measures, while people are forced, more or less permanently, to stay in camps, without having their right to freedom of movement and access to work guaranteed, a situation that too often results in chronic malnutrition [develops].”

The archbishop recommended preventative measures in areas of conflict to avoid situations that create refugees.  He emphasized peacemaking, dialogue, and reconciliation. “The prevention of conflicts, which always are a source of human rights violations and of massive forced displacement, must become the main road in the efforts of the international community to eradicate the tragedy of forced displacement.”

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Supreme Court avoids Catholic religious freedom case

Albany, N.Y., Oct 3, 2007 (CNA) - The United States Supreme Court on Monday declined to consider the appeal of Catholic and other religious groups seeking an exemption from a New York law mandating the funding of contraceptives in employee insurance programs, the International Herald-Tribune reports.

Catholic Charities in Albany and eight other Catholic and Baptist organizations sought to overturn the New York State’s Court of Appeals decision to deny their exemption from the law.

Sponsors of the New York law, passed in 2002, justified it as a democratic measure.  Typical employee health plans excluded contraceptive coverage, the cost of which was unequally borne by women.

The law included an exemption for “religious employers,” but defined such employers as a non-profit organization that advances religious values, primarily employs people of its religious faith, and primarily serves those who share that faith.  Since Catholic Charities serves a “secular purpose,” does not proselytize, and discriminates neither in its employment practices nor in its choice of clients, it did not qualify for this exemption. 

Catholic Charities and its co-plaintiffs did not argue the specifics of these qualifications.  Instead they claimed that the state was unjustly attempting to “coerce a church entity to finance private conduct that the church teaches is morally wrong,” thus violating First Amendment protections of the free exercise of religion.

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Reported miracle could make Mother Teresa a saint

Kohima, India, Oct 3, 2007 (CNA) - An Indian priest who worked with Mother Teresa believes she has miraculously interceded to heal him. If the claim is accepted by the Vatican, his evidence could prove her sainthood.

Father V.M. Thomas, a 56-year-old Salesian priest based in the northeastern Indian town of Guwahati, was inexplicably healed of a painful ureter stone the day before he was to undergo surgery.  The details were related in a letter he wrote for the dossier of the investigation into the canonization of Mother Teresa.

Fr. Thomas’ Story

Father Thomas first suffered severe abdominal pain in February.  Doctors diagnosed the priest with renal colic and calculi, prescribing medicine to treat the problems.  The treatment did not succeed.  After recurring pain, doctors recommended in July that Father Thomas undergo surgery.

Father Thomas wanted to wait.

On August 27 he was overcome by “excruciating” pain and met with doctors again.  He was admitted to a Guwahati hospital on September 4.  Tests confirmed the presence of a large stone in his left ureter, and he was scheduled for surgery on September 6.

On September 5, Blessed Teresa’s feast day, Father Thomas asked hospital staff permission to leave to celebrate Mass.  At first permission was refused, but doctors soon surrendered to his request and allowed him a half hour leave.  He went to Shishu Bhavan, a home for abandoned children founded by Mother Teresa.  The priest sought the beatified nun’s intercession for a successful operation and a speedy recovery.  He later wrote: "all this I desired very strongly because of my very close association with Mother Teresa from 1979 to 1997.”

After celebrating Mass, Father Thomas returned to the hospital to be prepared for surgery.  He reportedly had a feeling of well-being and slept peacefully. 

On the afternoon of September 6, a pre-surgery X-ray was taken.  The doctors could not locate the ureter stone.  A repeat X-ray also proved negative, as did an ultrasound performed by the same radiologist who did the September 4 tests.

According to the priest’s notes, the hospital’s surgeon concluded "the disappearance of the calculus was beyond medical explanation."  The surgeon later confirmed:  "the calculus was no longer there in the ureter, and moreover he had not passed out the calculus in urine, so the operation was canceled."  The surgeon stated in his case summary:  "It indeed seemed like a miracle and unique incident as the stone, which could not be dissolved with medicine, just vanished on that particular day."

Father Thomas believes he was healed at the Mass at Shishu Bhavan.

According to standard Church procedure, a miracle that occurred following Blessed Teresa's beatification on Oct. 19, 2003, is required for her to be declared a saint.

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Republicans could lose social conservatives to third party

Salt Lake City, Utah, Oct 3, 2007 (CNA) - Social conservatives have threatened to abandon the Republican Party and support a third party presidential bid if their concerns are marginalized by a pro-choice presidential candidate.

A break-away group of influential activists issued this warning at the Saturday meeting of the Council for National Policy in Salt Lake City.  The group included Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. 

Richard Viguerie, one of the break-away conservatives, explained the motive behind the statement: "There's a general feeling among social conservatives, as well as economic conservatives, that they have been betrayed by the Republican Party."  The group, however, has not chosen a candidate for their proposed third party campaign.

Social conservatives’ discontent is in part a response to the success of former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, a pro-abortion candidate who also favors homosexual marriage.  Currently, Giuliani is one of the front-runners in the Republican primary race.  He has described himself as “personally opposed” to abortion, following a rhetorical device popularized by former New York governor Mario Cuomo.  The phrase is often used by Catholics who support abortion rights.

A socially conservative third party candidate could split the Republican Party and lead to a victory for the Democrats in November of 2008.

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Incorrupt heart of first canonized Mexican bishop venerated in Juarez

Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 3, 2007 (CNA) - The relics of St. Rafael Guizar y Valencia, the first Mexican bishop to be canonized, are being venerated in the chapel that bears his name in the Diocese of Juarez October 2-13.

Father Roberto Luna Valenzuela explained that the relics include the heart of the saint, “which remains incorrupt due to his holiness,” and that they would be permanently displayed in Veracruz. 

The saint’s heart will be at the parish of Corpus Christi and later will be venerated at other parishes such as Cristo Rey, San Juan Apostol y Evangelista, Santa Rosa, Santo Tomas Apostol, Mater Dolorosa, San José de Lomas, among others.

“A small procession will take place so that Bishop Renato Ascencio Leon of Juarez can transfer the relics from the parish of Santo Tomas Apostol to the chapel that was placed under the protection of the Mexican saint,” Father Luna said.

The relics “will encourage Catholics in Juarez to respond to the call to holiness that God gives to all of his children,” he added.

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Holy See hosting conference on formation and evolution of galaxies

Rome, Italy, Oct 3, 2007 (CNA) - The Vatican Astronomical Observatory is hosting an international conference on the formation and evolution of the galaxies, with more than 210 scientists participating from 26 countries, including Germany, France, Italy, the United States, Australia, Canada, Holland and Japan.

The conference, which began October 1 and ends October 5, will center on those galaxies in which the part that is in the form of a disc predominates.  In addition there will be discussions about large conglomerates made up of stars, interstellar dust and gases.
The discussion on October 1 focused on the Milky Way. The next day participants discussed the properties of the discs of nearby galaxies and the laws of formation of stars and their chemical evolution.  The rest of the days will center on the periphery of galaxies, the evolution of their structural properties and their formation in a hierarchical universe.

“The astronomers gathered at this conference have studied galactic discs,” said Father Guy Consolmagno, a member of the Vatican Observatory.

This conference is to show the world that “the Church does not fear science,” he noted, adding that in reality, “there is not reason to think there is a conflict between the Church and astronomy because faith that is fearful of the truth is not faith.”

The Vatican Observatory was founded in 1891 by Pope Leo XIII to show that “the Church and her pastors are not opposed to solid and authentic science, both human and divine, but rather they embrace it, drive it and promote it with the utmost dedication,” said Father Jose Gabriel Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory.  The Observatory “is a great visible sign of the commitment of the Church to the contemporary world,” he said.

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Dominicans rally against abortion

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Oct 3, 2007 (CNA) - Church leaders, politicians and civil groups have announced they will take measures to express opposition to a bill that would legalize abortion in the Dominican Republic.

Speaking to reports, Bishop Jesús María de Jesús Moya of San Francisco de Macoris and Bishop Julio César Corniel Amaro of Puerto Plata expressed their rejection of abortion as the killing of an innocent human being.

“The Church will oppose anything that attacks human life and in order to achieve this, she is willing to take any action necessary so that this inalienable right to life of men and women is respected,” Bishop Corniel Amaro told reporters, saying the bishops plan to organize a diocesan meeting in order to plan pro-life activities.

They also announced a special Mass would be celebrated on October 25 outside the country’s parliament by Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez of Santo Domingo, and a march for life would be held on October 28.

The Social Christian Reformist Party and its presidential candidate, Amable Aristy, began a national campaign this week called “A Green Light to Life.” Speaking to reporters, Aristy said President Leonel Fernandez is responsible for promoting the issue of abortion in the country.  He noted that the new Penal Code makes abortion a crime.

Aristy said his position on abortion was not partisan but rather an expression of his belief that the “right to life is a fundamental and absolute human right that cannot be restricted.”

“Nobody has the right to determine or decide who should be born and who should die.  That’s the reason for our Green Light to Life campaign,” he said.

Senator Cristina Lizardo of Santo Domingo called on the country’s institutions to respect life.  “I wish to say that the right to life is not a religious question, but rather a moral and juridical one, and that is a commandment from God,” she said.

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New nun study looks at Alzheimer's disease

Chicago, Ill., Oct 3, 2007 (CNA) - Scientists have been searching for ways to unveil many of the mysteries surrounding Alzheimer's disease for decades. A group of researchers from the University of Chicago who chose to look at a group of almost 1,000 nuns, priests, and monks found that those who were the most conscientious had the lowest chance of developing the disease.

Interestingly, the scientists found that being conscientious might make people better able to cope with plaques that build up in the brain and are believed to lead to the disease.

In the study, “conscientiousness” refers to a person's tendency to control impulses and be goal-directed, and is also known as will, work and dependability, according to background information in the article.

The latest study followed a group of nuns, monks and priests from across the United States over a period of 12 years. They were chosen as a group because they were deemed more likely to be willing to take part in a study that might help others in the future, but not themselves.

As well as assessing their medical well-being, the researchers also asked the group to rate themselves on areas such as self- discipline, reliability and being hard- working.
The average score among the group was 34 out of 48 - perhaps surprisingly, similar to scores among the general population.

Dr. Robert Wilson, the lead researcher from Rush University in Chicago, said that during the study, 176 people developed Alzheimer's. But those with the highest scores for conscientiousness appeared to have a lower risk than lazier counterparts.

Nuns, priests and monks with scores in the top 10 per cent had an 89 per cent lower risk of developing Alzheimer's than those with scores in the lowest 10 per cent.

The researchers, writing in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry, also found that conscientiousness was associated with a slower rate of mental decline.

But an examination of 324 brains of those who died during the study did not find any link between conscientiousness and signs of the disease. The brains of the conscientious had similar levels of plaques and tangles which build up and cause Alzheimer's as those of the less conscientious.

Dr Wilson said this was not unexpected. He said the trait of being conscientious may just help the brain cope better with the physical causes of Alzheimer's.

One reason for the link between being conscientious and a lower risk of Alzheimer's is that people who are hard-working also experience educational and career success, which has been linked to a lower risk of the disease.

The researchers said that being conscientious has also been linked to resilience and to coping with difficulties. Dr Wilson said that, by working hard and being conscientious, people might reduce their risk of Alzheimer's.

However, Professor Clive Ballard, director of research at the Alzheimer's Society, urged caution, saying: "It is important to remember that this study only looked at one group of people and may not translate to the whole population."

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