Front Royal, Va., Sep 30, 2008 (CNA) - The pro-life group Human Life International (HLI) has launched an international campaign to promote praying the St. Michael prayer for the conversion of abortionists.
“The fight against the culture of death is primarily a spiritual battle,” said HLI president Fr. Thomas J. Euteneuer. “Human Life International knows that with the aid of St. Michael, abortionists around the world will convert from their cooperation with evil.”
“Nowhere are the words of St. Paul that ‘our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens’ (Ephesians 6:12), more evident or obvious than in the abortion battle,” he continued.
“As a pro-life organization we are naturally concerned with the babies killed by abortion and their mothers who are ravaged by it. But we are also concerned with the eternal souls of those caught up in this evil, the abortionists, and others who promote it. We want to see them in Heaven, and as a priest that is of ultimate concern to me.”
HLI is asking people to sign a pledge of support for the campaign and to pray the St. Michael prayer daily, especially after each Mass. The organization also asks people to send copies of the pledge to parishes to be inserted in the weekly bulletins.
HLI has produced St. Michael prayer cards in English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese. More information is available at www.hli.org/st_michael_prayer.html.
New Orleans, La., Sep 30, 2008 (CNA) - Archbishop of New Orleans Alfred C. Hughes has criticized a Louisiana lawmaker’s proposal to pay poor women to sterilize themselves, calling it “seriously wrong,” “blatantly anti-life,” and a “form of eugenics.”
Louisiana’s Rep. John LaBruzzo, a Republican from Metairie, last week said he is studying a plan to pay poor women $1,000 to have their Fallopian tubes tied.
His proposal would also cover other forms of birth control, such as vasectomies for men, and could also encourage tax incentives for college-educated, higher-income people to have more children, the Times-Picayune reports.
Speaking of demographic trends, LaBruzzo said: “We're on a train headed to the future and there's a bridge out… And nobody wants to talk about it.”
LaBruzzo said he is concerned that people receiving government aid such as food stamps and subsidized housing are reproducing at a faster rate than the more affluent, better-educated people who presumably pay more taxes to the government.
He said he is now gathering statistics in an effort to reduce the number of people “that are going from generational welfare to generational welfare."
LaBruzzo, who represents the same district that elected David Duke to the state legislature in 1989, said his proposal is not targeting race because more white people are on welfare than black people.
Writing in a Thursday statement, Archbishop Hughes rebuked the proposal, saying:
“The Catholic Church has consistently taught that direct sterilization is seriously wrong. The recent proposal of Representative LaBruzzo not only would make sterilization our public policy and require tax payers to pay for it, but would also constitute a form of eugenics that the Church and this country have always condemned as an egregious affront to those targeted and blatantly anti-life.”
“Our lawmakers would do better to focus on policies that promote education and achievement to counteract poverty and the bigotry of low expectations,” Archbishop Hughes said.
Washington D.C., Sep 30, 2008 (CNA) - William Murphy, Bishop of Rockville Centre and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, has written to U.S. political leaders and the Secretary of the Treasury asking that the Bush administration and Congress make a moral response to the financial crisis.
“The economic crisis facing our nation is both terribly disturbing and enormously complicated,” Bishop Murphy wrote in his September 26 letter. “I write to offer the prayers of the U.S. Catholic Bishops and express the concerns of our Conference as you face difficult choices on how to limit the damage and move forward with prudence and justice.”
While saying that the bishops do not bring “technical expertise,” the bishop explained, “we believe our faith and moral principles can help guide the search for just and effective responses to the economic turmoil threatening our people.”
Bishop Murphy urged that the “enormous human impact” of the crisis be at the center of the debate over the response plan. People are losing their jobs, their benefits, and even their homes while some people risk losing their life savings.
“The scandalous search for excessive economic rewards even to the point of dangerous speculation that exacerbates the pain and losses of the more vulnerable are egregious examples of an economic ethic that places economic gain above all other values,” he wrote.
Attributing the crisis to “greed, speculation, exploitation of vulnerable people and dishonest practices,” Bishop Murphy said those responsible for the crisis should be held accountable.
Citing John Paul II’s words about the human needs not met by the free market, the bishop wrote that the crisis showed the market has limitations as well as advantages. He then endorsed “effective public regulation and protection” when necessary.
The principle of solidarity “reminds us that we are in this together and warns us that concern for narrow interests alone can make things worse.” Calling for a commitment to the common good, Bishop Murphy said protection of the vulnerable workers, business owners, homeowners, renters, and stockholders should be included in efforts to protect financial institutions.
The bishop added that the principle of subsidiarity means that private actors and institutions should accept their own obligations. If they do not, larger entities such as the government will have to step in.
“This is a challenging time for our nation,” Bishop Murphy wrote. “Everyone who carries responsibility should exercise it according to their respective roles and with a great sensitivity to reforming practices and setting forth new guidelines that will serve all people, all institutions of the economy and the common good of the people as a nation.”
Bishop Murphy closed his letter by repeating the Catholic tradition’s call for a “society of work, enterprise and participation” which is not directed against the market but demands its appropriate control to ensure that the “basic needs of the whole society are satisfied.”
Vatican City, Sep 30, 2008 (CNA) - Recognizing that the world is becoming increasingly influenced by new technologies, Pope Benedict XVI is dedicating his upcoming message for the World Day of Social Communications to ways that these channels of communication can help promote a culture of "respect, dialogue and friendship."
Every year the Pope pens a message to journalists and those who contribute to the field of social communications. The message is always published on the Feast of St. Francis de Sales, the patron of journalists, which will fall on January 24 in 2009.
Also in keeping with tradition, the president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, announced the theme for the papal message and commented on it yesterday, the Feast of the Archangels Michael, Raphael and Gabriel. The archangel Gabriel is associated with communications because he delivered news of the Incarnation to the Virgin Mary.
Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli informed a press conference that the Pope’s message is titled: "New Technologies, New Relationships. Promoting a Culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship."
Pope Benedict, the archbishop said, "is presenting us with a true work plan, ... a compendium of commitments and responsibilities that ... those involved in the field of communications are personally called to shoulder, at a time so deeply marked by the development of new media technologies which, in effect, are creating a new environment, a new culture.
"It is clear that the Pope has a certain confidence in the possibilities the communications media can offer; the media can be of great help in favoring a climate of dialogue and trust."
Archbishop Celli also noted that new technologies lead to "new relationships" and that these new inventions do not "simply mean a step forwards in technical terms," but create "new conditions and possibilities for mankind to use and apply this resource for the common good, placing it at the foundation of a widespread cultural growth."
The council president also announced that in March 2009 bishops with responsibility for communication will attend a seminar organized in collaboration with experts in media and communication "to devise a more precise and up-to-date form of pastoral care for the social communications media."
The World Day of Social Communications will be celebrated in nearly every country on Sunday, May 31, 2009.
Rome, Italy, Sep 30, 2008 (CNA) - The head of the Church’s “Supreme Court,” Archbishop Raymond Burke, recently granted an interview to the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire, during which he discussed the reaction of the media to his appointment in Rome, the Democrat Party and denying Communion to pro-choice politicians.
Last June, Archbishop Burke was appointed as prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome. Originally from Wisconsin, Burke was ordained in 1975 and was named Bishop of LaCrosse in 1994. In 2004, Burke became the eighth archbishop of St. Louis and was known as one of the strongest voices in the American Church, as well as one of the leading American experts in Canon law.
During the interview, the prelate countered claims that he was appointed to the Vatican-based position in an effort to remove him from the Archdiocese of St. Louis, saying, "I have too much respect for the Pope to believe that in order to move someone away from a diocese he would nominate him to a very sensitive dicastery like this one."
In his new position, Archbishop Burke serves as the head of the Church’s Supreme Tribunal, which ensures that justice is correctly administered. Also known as the Church’s Supreme Court, the Tribunal examines matters referred to it by the Congregations of the Roman Curia, as well as questions from the Holy Father.
Speculation that the archbishop was being "removed" stemmed from the fact that he was found in the spotlight several times as the Archbishop of St. Louis. During his tenure in the archdiocese, he corrected a Catholic parish that practiced like a “protestant one,” he took action when abortion-supporting Sheryl Crow was invited to a fundraising event for a Catholic Pediatrics Hospital and he spoke up when two women were “ordained” to the priesthood in his archdiocese.
“In all these cases I had to intervene with discipline in order to avoid scandalizing the faithful. I didn’t want to do it, but I had to," he told Avvenire.
Turning to discuss the Democrat Party, Archbishop Burke warned that the party is “at risk of becoming the ‘Death Party,’ due to its positions on bioethical questions as Ramesh Ponnuru wrote in his book, ‘The Party of Death: The Democrats, the Media, the Courts and the Disregard for Human Life’.”
The Democrat party once was the “party that helped our Catholic immigrant fathers and grandfathers to prosper in the American Society. However, it is no longer the same,” he remarked. While there are some pro-life Democrats, they are very rare, unfortunately.”
Catholic Democrats who flaunt the teachings of the Church was also an issue commented on by Archbishop Burke.
Recently, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senator Joe Biden drew ire from American bishops for their pro-choice positions. These run-ins, Avvenire noted, have brought the conversation on whether or not these politicians should be denied the Holy Eucharist - a stance that Archbishop Burke has strongly affirmed- to the fore.
“Mine is not an isolated position. It is shared by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput from Denver, by Bishop Peter J. Jugis from Charlotte and a few others,” he answered, while noting that the bishops' conference has not "assumed this position, leaving each bishop free to make his own decision.” He continued, “I have always maintained that there must be a united position in order to demonstrate the unity of the Church when facing this serious issue.”
Though a united decision has not been made, the archbishop noted: “Recently, I have noticed that other bishops are coming to this position” after statements from Pelosi and Biden. Though both have stated that they are “good Catholics, they have represented the Church teaching on abortion in a false and tendentious way.”
This same theme was touched upon by then-Cardinal Ratzinger in 2004 in a letter to the American bishops, Burke noted. The Holy Father made it clear that “it is not licit to give Holy Communion to one who is publicly and commonly in a sinful state. In this sense, it is logical that one who publicly an commonly supports abortion falls into this category.”
However, Archbishop Burke emphasized the need for the Church to continue to clarify its position on this point. “Some time ago, a protestant American politician asked me if the Church changed its position regarding abortion. I answered ‘no,’ obviously. He then told me: ‘It’s weird, because in the United States Congress, many Catholics easily support laws in favor of the right to abortion’.”
It is because of this, he concluded, that the Church “must always be very clear on this point.”
Rome, Italy, Sep 30, 2008 (CNA) - In an interview by Andrea Tornielli for the Italian newspaper Il Giornale, Pope Benedict XVI’s brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, revealed several unknown details from the childhood of the Pontiff, such as when he said one time that Benedict would be a good name for a pope, and that he never attended Hitler Youth meetings he was obliged to sign up for.
During the interview in Ratisbona, Germany, Msgr. Ratzinger said his brother was “a lively child, but not an earthquake. I remember him as always being joyful. From the time he was a child he showed a great sensitivity to animals, flowers and in general to all nature. Perhaps that’s why he was always given pets as Christmas gifts. His care for nature and for living beings was characteristic of him.”
Speaking later about their family, Msgr. Ratzinger said his family was “very united” and his father was a “police commissioner who came from an old family of farmers from lower Bavaria. My mother was a daughter of artisans, and before getting married she had worked as a cook. When it was possible, as kids we went to daily Mass.”
After noting that their father considered Nazism to be “a catastrophe and not only the great enemy of the Church but also of all faiths and of human life in general,” Msgr. Ratzinger said he and his brother were forced to join the Hitler Youth because “the State ordered all school-age kids, according to their age, to be signed up for certain youth groups. When it was obligatory, we were registered as a block. There was no freedom to choose, and not showing up would have brought very negative consequences.”
He said his brother Joseph “did not attend the meetings” and that that “brought economic harm to my family because by not doing so we could not receive the discounts for school tuition.”
He said that both were altar boys and that their vocations became clear early on, “first to me and then to him.” “At Tittmoning, Joseph received Confirmation from Cardinal Michael Faulhaber, the great Archbishop of Munich. He was amazed and said he would like to become a cardinal. But just a few days later, while watching a painter who was painting the walls of our house, he said he wanted to be a painter when he grew up too.”
After commenting that both were not inclined to physical activity, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger said World War II was a difficult period for the family. “We had a ticket to buy the monthly rations, which were simply generic items such as sugar, butter, oil and a little bit of meat.” He also touched on military service: “My brother was called shortly after me. We had objectives and ideals that were contrary to those of Hitler, but it was our duty as soldiers. We didn’t know when the war would end.”
Both men were ordained in 1951, and both have always considered the Mass to be the center of “our faith and our action, it is the personal encounter with God. This is naturally in first place. We cannot imagine a day without the Mass, without the liturgy. It would be impoverished and lacking the essential,” he said.
Msgr. Ratzinger said he was “disappointed” when his brother was elected Pope, because “this meant we would have to significantly reconfigure our relationship,” because they would not be able to see each other much. “In any case, after the human decision of the cardinals, this is the will of God and we must say yes to it.”
He went on to reveal that the first one to congratulate the new Pontiff when he first called home was Ms. Heindl, the housekeeper. “At that time the bells were being rung the entire time and you couldn’t hear well,” so she took the Holy Father’s call and was able to congratulate him.
Later Msgr. Georg said, “Some years ago my brother told me, ‘Benedict would be a good name for a new Pope.’ Now he doesn’t remember having said it, but I very much do.” He also recalled his brother’s personality. “He has never been a brash man, intentionally offending others. He always had great respect for the opinions of others. Often the media creates erroneous images of people.”
Lastly, Msgr. Georg told the Vatican watcher Andrea Tornielli that the experience of being the brother of the Pope “is a situation that brings repercussions and consequences. When I go to the city, I always encounter people who kindly greet me, especially Italian tourists. They say to me, ‘The Pope’s brother’.” “I never imagined” that would be me, “nor did I expect it,” he said.
“It was quite unusual for a German to become Pope, because for centuries this had not been the case. We never even thought about having this honor which was completely beyond our expectations,” he said.
La Paz, Bolivia, Sep 30, 2008 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Cardinal Julio Terrazas Sandoval, said this that week nice words are not enough to bring peace and that Bolivians need to dedicate “time to reaching an agreement, to laying the foundation for a lasting peace.”
“It’s not enough to talk, it’s not enough to say nice things, we need to work, we need to be converted, we need to change. How can we say we defend life if the dead keep multiplying, how can we talk about the truth of our people when the lies keep multiplying, how can we say we want to be brothers and sisters when we can’t even stand each other?” the cardinal asked during Sunday Mass.
“What we believers have to ask ourselves today,” the cardinal continued, is whether or not Bolivia is doing the will of God. What’s important now is that “the fruits of truth and justice” are sought out.
The cardinal called on Bolivians not to do anything “out of rivalry or pride,” and that his message was meant for “those responsible for our nation, those responsible for different social groups and also for those responsible for each family.” Christ “was filled with life and he became life for us, he became justice for us, he became freedom for all, he became love that bestows love, he became forgiveness, to reconcile us with the Father, he became the reconciler, to give us also the capacity to forgive each other.”
The cardinal made his comments as Bolivia endures conflict on both the social and political levels. The country’s president Evo Morales is seeking to re-write the constitution along socialist lines, while impoverished Bolivians are at times violently protesting against the rich who live in the resource rich eastern lowlands.
Columbus, Ohio, Sep 30, 2008 (CNA) - A new survey from Rasmussen Reports shows that Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain is leading Democratic Sen. Barack Obama among Catholic voters in the key swing state of Ohio 51 percent to 43 percent.
McCain leads Obama among all Ohio voters by 48 to 47 percent, a statistical tie within the September 28 poll’s margin of error.
According to Rasmussen, 57 percent of Catholic voters named economic issues the most important, while 15 percent named national security issues the most important.
Catholic voters are positioned to be an important swing demographic in Ohio.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, Ohio has more than 2 million Catholics. The Catholic vote is particularly strong in western Ohio in the Dayton area and the 13 rural counties north and east of the city. There are more than 500,000 Catholics in that area, more than in any part of the state except Cleveland.
While about one in four Ohio voters is Catholic, they tend to have a higher turnout rate.
Rev. John Putka, a Marianist priest and political science professor at the University of Dayton, told the Columbus Dispatch that the Catholic vote is “going to decide the election.”
He broke the Catholic vote into three blocs: observants, modernists, and secularists.
According to Father Putka, “observants” are conservative, attend church regularly, and typically vote Republican based on abortion and other social issues. They supported George W. Bush over John Kerry in 2004 by 65 to 35 percent.
"McCain's selection of Palin totally galvanized this pro-life group," Fr. Putka observed. "They were lukewarm before but not now.”
“Modernists,” in Father Putka’s classification, go to church less frequently and are less guided by Catholic beliefs. Their numbers include some “Reagan Democrats” and are sometimes called “cafeteria Catholics” because of their selective adherence to Catholic doctrine.
“Secularists” include those who go to church rarely and are not typically guided by Catholic beliefs. These voters heavily voted for Kerry and are likely to support the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. Barack Obama.
Of these three groups, Father Putka said modernists are the true swing vote.
Mexico City, Mexico, Sep 30, 2008 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, said during his homily on Sunday that it is always possible to return to doing good and to begin life anew.
No matter how big the crisis or how great our fear, he said, it is always possible for society to overcome. “Salvation and lifting ourselves up no matter how far we have fallen is always possible, no matter how large the crisis, and this is true for all communities or countries,” he said.
According to the Archdiocese of Mexico City’s news service, the cardinal also pointed out that all sin, “no matter how private or secret” causes harm, and that “there are some sins against neighbors or against one’s brother that violate the fundamental rights of the person,” the cardinal stated.
Nevertheless, he concluded, one can always achieve salvation if one is responsible for his own acts, since nobody has to be irremediable prisoner of his past life.
Santiago, Chile, Sep 30, 2008 (CNA) - Addressing the issue of the financial crisis affecting the United States and the rest of the world, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Renato Martino, called on society this week to remember that the human person should be at the center of the world economy.
In a press conference during his visit to Chile, the cardinal said, “The economic crisis manifesting itself throughout the world is perhaps a sign telling us that the world is not made only of accounts, money and economy; and that perhaps this is a phenomenon to help us remember that the human person must be put at the center of the entire world economy.”
According to the press office of the Bishops’ Conference of Chile, the cardinal said the greatest social problems facing humanity today in the eyes of the Church include the migration of peoples and the 200 million who emigrate in search of work, refuge or a better economic situation.
He also addressed the problem of the world’s water supply. “The right to water is a fundamental human right that is part of the right to life, which is composed of various rights, such as the right to food, the right to work, the right to water. For this reason water cannot be an element that is privatized; it must be at the disposition of all,’ he said.
, Sep 30, 2008 (CNA) - Fireproof, a new movie about a firefighter who learns how to rescue his troubled marriage, is reportedly faring well at the box office on its opening weekend.
According to a press release from Samuel Goldwyn Films, the movie placed fourth at the box office. Opening on 839 screens, the film grossed $6,804,764.
Alex Kendrick, who co-wrote the film with his brother Stephen, directs the film staring Kirk Cameron and new actress Erin Bethea. It was filmed with an all-volunteer cast and crew of 1,200 people.
Samuel Goldwyn Films reports that communities across the U.S. are using the film as a tool to support local firefighters, police, and other first responders, who have a divorce rate of up to 90 percent. Such efforts provide volunteer babysitting for the first responders and their spouses as they spend the night at the movies.
Churches are also reportedly using the film as an introduction to their marriage courses.
“Congratulations to Alex and Stephen Kendrick for showing once again that they know how to make a movie both entertaining and substantive,” said Meyer Gottlieb, president of Samuel Goldwyn Films. Fireproof will make you laugh, cry, and reflect. I’m confident audiences will continue to support it.”
Michael Catt, senior pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church and executive producer, commented on the film’s success, saying: “We believe good stories can have a good effect. This film was made by a small army of people who poured into something bigger than themselves – into not just a movie, but a movement to restore and uplift marriages across the country.”
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment oversees the Affirm Films label, which was one of the film’s acquisition partners.
Bob Rubin, executive vice president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, said the film shows the “faith market” is an “underserved community with a growing appetite for filmed content that is both inspirational and entertaining.”
“We are delighted to be part of the team that brought Fireproof to audiences nationwide,” he continued.
Goldwyn plans to expand the film’s release to more than 1,000 screens.