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Archive of October 20, 2008

Catholics raise money for poor with St. Vincent de Paul walk

Wichita, Kan., Oct 20, 2008 (CNA) - Walkers who hit the track last month in Wichita and Hutchinson raised money, but more importantly, they raised awareness about the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Kathleen Hageman said she was happy to see the participants wearing Friends of the Poor T-shirts, whether or not they raised a dime for the society.

Hageman, a member of the society and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Wichita, said the walk helped remind people about the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the work it does.

Similar walks took place all over the country on Sept. 27, the Feast of St. Vincent de Paul, and the 175th anniversary of the founding of the society.

"The Society of St. Vincent de Paul raises money to help the poor with all their needs," Hageman said, "food, clothing, medical - any kind of need they have."

Ron Kelley, a member of Holy Cross Parish, Hutchinson, coordinated the walk for the Holy Cross Conference of the society.

The conference was founded at the parish about three years ago, he said.

"Bishop Jackels encouraged parishes to become involved. We were able to get it started and awareness is growing."

Even the youth are getting involved.

Holy Cross Grade School pupils made "prayer plates" for the walk’s finish line arch. The paper plates had prayers written on them such as "Help me." The plates were attached to an arch that also had a sign saying: "Friends of the Poor Walk, Walk a mile in their shoes.

The Friends of the Poor Walk is an annual event. In the Diocese of Wichita, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has a regular fundraising effort called Cars for the Poor.

Robert Small, a member of the society, helps coordinate Cars for the Poor. "The largest percentage of the proceeds goes to Holy Savior Catholic Academy," he said.

Vehicles donated to Cars for the Poor are then donated to the needy, he said, "or we sell them at a very reduced price to needy people if they can afford something but not full price."

Small added that some vehicles are sold at full value and the proceeds are used by the society or donated. "The largest percentage of proceeds go to Holy Savior."

Printed with permission from the Catholic Advance, newspaper for the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas.

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Fr. Lombardi calls for groups to stop meddling in canonization process of Pius XII

Vatican City, Oct 20, 2008 (CNA) - The Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Father Federico Lombardi S.J., confirmed on Sunday that Pope Benedict XVI is considering signing the decree of heroic virtues for Pope Pius XII, and asked that no one try to exert pressure "one way or the other."

 

Fr. Lombardi’s words come after some Jewish organizations launched a campaign against the beatification of Pope Pius XII, arguing that it would negatively impact relations between Judaism and the Church. The argument is based on the "black legend," which attempts to paint him as an "accomplice" to the wholesale slaughter of Jews by the Nazis during World War II.

 

Another cause of controversy that has arisen concerns the caption placed under Pope Pius XII's photograph in Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Museum.

 

The caption reads: "Even when reports about the murder of Jews reached the Vatican, the pope did not protest, either verbally or in writing. In December 1942, [Pius XII] abstained from signing the Allied declaration condemning the extermination of the Jews. When Jews were deported from Rome to Auschwitz, the pope did not intervene.

 

"The pope maintained his neutral position throughout the war, with the exception of appeals to the rulers of Hungary and Slovakia toward its end. His silence and the absence of guidelines obliged churchmen throughout Europe to decide on their own how to react."

 

On Sunday Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi called on the museum to re-examine the caption, saying, "As is already known, the Holy See representative to Israel has in the past raised objections concerning the caption about Pius XII in the Yad Vashem Museum. It is, therefore, to be hoped that this be the subject of a new, objective and profound examination on the part of the museum management.”

 

While some have said that the alteration of the caption is necessary before Pope Benedict would travel to the Holy Land, Fr. Lombardi dismissed that notion, calling the caption an “important fact” but also stating that it “cannot be considered decisive in determining any papal journey to the Holy Land.”

 

Turning to the declaration of Pope Pius XII as a “blessed”—the last step before being declared a saint—Fr. Lombardi emphasized that Pope Benedict has not yet signed the decree.  

 

With Jewish groups trying to influence Church affairs and Church officials also trying to weigh-in, Lombardi said that the Pope “is dedicating profound thought and reflection to the matter” and also underscored that “it is not appropriate to seek to exercise pressure upon him in one way or in another." 

 

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When there is no cure, relieve suffering by honoring dignity, says Holy Father

Vatican City, Oct 20, 2008 (CNA) - At the national congress of the Italian Surgical Society on Monday, the Holy Father reminded participants that the dignity of all patients must always be upheld so they will never feel abandoned.

 

During Pope Benedict’s address to the congress—meeting to discuss the theme: “Towards a Surgery that Respects the Sick”—he remarked how in the past, it was only possible to alleviate the suffering of the sick. However, now, thanks to advances in science and technology, it is possible to cure many of those suffering with illness. 

 

When medical personnel are working with a patient who cannot be cured or with whom “appreciable results” cannot be achieved, the Pope warned that these patients should never feel abandoned.

 

Though, they cannot hope for a cure, the “person's suffering can be relieved," because patients "have a dignity which must be honored, and which constitutes the necessary foundation of all medical activity. Respect for human dignity, in fact, requires unconditional respect for each individual human being, born or unborn, healthy or sick, whatever their condition may be."

 

Respecting patient’s human dignity requires doctors to work to discover "the most appropriate means to communicate with each patient,” the Holy Father said. “Such means of communication, while respecting the truth of the facts, will aim to sustain hope, which is an essential element of therapy.”

 

“Patients want to be listened to, not just subjected to sophisticated diagnoses," Benedict XVI explained.

 

"On the one hand, it is undeniable that the will of the patient must be respected,” but it is important to keep in mind that they may have an “unrealistic, and certainly impoverished, reading of human reality. On the other hand, the professional responsibility of doctors must bring them to suggest treatments that aim at the true good of patients, with an awareness that their specific competencies generally make them better capable of evaluating the situation than the patients themselves."

 

Family members also have a responsibility to their sick relatives, Benedict XVI added, saying that the family’s role is an important counterbalance for avoiding “increasing the sense of alienation that a person inevitably suffers if entrusted to a form of medical care that is highly technological but lacks sufficient human sentiment."

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Pro-life group denounces priests that support pro-abortion candidate in Brazil

Brasilia, Brazil, Oct 20, 2008 (CNA) - The Defense of Life Movement in Brazil has denounced group of priests who have met with leaders of the Worker's Party to support the candidacy of Marta Suplicy, a known abortion rights and gay marriage supporter who is running for mayor of Sao Paolo.

 

According to the pro-life movement, the group of priests from the Belen region of the Archdiocese of Sao Paolo has drafted a "Letter to Christians," which will be distributed at Masses and "recommends" that Catholics vote for Suplicy in the November elections.

 

The DLM said recent polls show that 32% of voters reject Suplicy's candidacy, especially because of her support for abortion. It also pointed out that despite the efforts by the government of Lula da Silva to legalize abortion, voter rejection of such a policy continues to grow.  The more science shows that life begins at the moment of conception, "the clearer it is for any person that abortion is the killing of an innocent human being," the organization said.

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Pro-lifers pick up where MLK left off, says African American pastor

Mishawaka, Ind., Oct 20, 2008 (CNA) - Rev. Clenard Childress, Jr., the founder of Blackgenocide.org and a leader in the pro-life movement, recently praised pro-lifers as the successors to the civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King Jr.  During his keynote address at a pro-life event in northern Indiana, the black pastor also took a swipe at Barack Obama for his stance on abortion.

 

Speaking to an overflow crowd of 445 pro-lifers gathered for the annual Saint Joseph County Right to Life fund raising dinner in Mishawaka, Indiana on October 16, Rev. Childress detailed the challenges faced by the pro-life movement today.

 

Childress began by noting that for African Americans, the most dangerous place they can be “is in the womb of their African American mother because one out of two will choose to abort…There is a black genocide going on in America.”

 

Quoting the Declaration of Independence’s proclamation of the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the pastor considered the plight of women who are told that their life will not be enjoyable unless they abort their children. “You have to understand there is another life in the womb, whose pursuit [of happiness] you will cut off. And the Declaration says—No! That life has a right to pursue happiness,” he exclaimed.

 

Pro-lifers and the leaders of the civil rights movement must fight for that right, said Childress, likening Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil right movement he led to today’s pro-lifers. “Your life is linked to Dr. King because you have picked up the baton where others have dropped it…That first movement was the Baptist Church; now this movement is the Catholic Church. But it takes all of us to get it done.” 

 

Rev. Childress criticized the role of some church leaders in this struggle. “And the shepherds are so pivotal, those that hold the title of clergy. Because in the Afro-American community right now many of the shepherds are leading the sheep to the slaughter.  And this is an abomination –no play on words—to God,” he said, alluding to the expression “Obamination.”

 

The minister also quoted extensively from Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” According to Childress, King lamented in his letter how the church of his day was weak and ineffectual as compared to the early Christians who were “small in numbers but big in commitment…The early church put an end to the evil of infanticide.”  

 

In a pointed but veiled reference to Barack Obama, Childress said, “But isn’t it strange that Martin Luther King  would mention infanticide in 1963, that the church stood up against infanticide, infant killing?…Isn’t it strange to you, civil rights worker, that there would be a candidate  that basically endorsed infanticide? In reading Martin’s letter, he called it evil.  How can anyone call it good?  How can a baby that survives an abortion be left on the table to die and you say it should be a law that it’s good that the child die? Would somebody explain that to me please?!!  And that’s why I don’t want to hear about your health plan! I want to know what the deal is here!” he exclaimed to loud and extended applause from the audience.

 

Childress emphasized the importance of 40 days or 40 years in Salvation History and expressed his belief that 40 years after the assassination of Dr. King, there would be a shift in American history that would bring about the end of abortion.  “He encouraged the attendees to remain faithful because “your faithfulness and your willingness [quoting King] to not be “merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion [but a] a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.”

 

The pro-life movement in South Bend has seen significant growth with the recent kickoff of the 40 Days for Life campaign. Nearly 5,000 local people are involved in the 40 day-long effort of prayer, peaceful protest and fasting for the end of abortion.

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Venezuelan bishops express concern for situation in their country

Caracas, Venezuela, Oct 20, 2008 (CNA) - The Bishops' Conference of Venezuela has expressed concern over the "growing" insecurity, scorn for life, and violence that exists in the country, and has demanded that the government guarantee fundamental rights and transparent regional elections in November.

In a message at the conclusion of their 38th Extraordinary Plenary Assembly, the bishops also stated that in the context of the current global financial crisis, "the enormous spending of the nation’s resources on the purchase of arms" is unjustifiable.  Venezuela "is anxious for peace," they said.

The bishops also criticized the government for imposing norms that were rejected by voters during a referendum in December of last year.  The new norms "contain unconstitutional aspects and grant greater control to the executive branch over numerous areas of the country's life, in detriment to people and to institutions, and they rein in multiple social and political rights of citizens."

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President of Costa Rican bishops calls on Catholic lawmakers to reject anti-life measures

San José, Costa Rica, Oct 20, 2008 (CNA) - The president of the Bishops' Conference of Costa Rica, Archbishop Hugo Barrantes of San Jose, exhorted Catholic lawmakers to reject measures currently under consideration in the National Assembly that attack the family and human life.

 

During a meeting with Catholic lawmakers, the archbishop expressed the Church's concern about some measures that would modify the law to make room for same-sex unions and so-called "sexual and reproductive rights," which mean nothing more than the promotion of abortion, sterilization, contraceptive methods and the introduction of the morning after pill. 

 

Archbishop Barrantes said believers cannot lead two parallel lives, one "spiritual" and the other "secular."  "The branches, connected to the vine which is Christ, bear good fruit in every sector in which we act and exist. Thus the rupture between one's faith and one's life is avoided," he said.

 

He urged lawmakers to "promote the objective moral and inalienable truth that implies defending human life and dignity from conception to natural death," to protect the family founded upon the union between a man and a woman, to defend the right of parents to educate their children, to work for the common good and to watch over religious freedom and non-discrimination.

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Catholic League claims Catholic political groups are financed by George Soros

, Oct 20, 2008 (CNA) - The Catholic League’s president Bill Donohue has come out swinging at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholics United for having ties to the left-wing financier George Soros.

 

Donohue charges that Soros’ liberal credentials couldn’t be more clear, citing a 2005 campaign by Soros-financed Moveon.org to convince Americans that they should back Democrats efforts to filibuster President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees to the Supreme Court.

 

At the time of Moveon.org's effort Donohue described it in a statement as: “a picture of a smiling Pope Benedict XVI holding a gavel outside the U.S. Supreme Court, along with the following inscription: ‘God Already Has a Job…He does not need one on the Supreme Court’.”  

 

Although the incident occurred in 2005, Donohue now says that Soros is financing two organizations that have close ties to the Democrat Party and are “apologists for abortion rights.”

 

According to The Catholic Key, Ambassador Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, the Chair of the Board of Directors for Catholics in Alliance is the wife of former Democratic National Committee finance chair, Smith Bagley. “Ambassador Bagley has herself given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the DNC, as well as to numerous stridently pro-choice Democratic candidates including, Barack Obama, Al Franken, Barbara Boxer, Claire McCaskill, Charles Schumer and The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund," The Catholic Key reported.

Catholics United also has ties to the Democrat Party, according to the group's web site. Catholics United Director of Organizing, James Salt, "oversaw the Kansas Democratic Party's faith outreach efforts, including messaging work for Governor Sebelius and development of faith-based messaging resources," the site says. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is currently in hot water with Archbishop Joseph Naumann for her close ties to abortionist George Tiller and her support for abortion.

 

Donohue alleges that these groups also have monetary links to George Soros. “In 2006, Soros’ Open Society Institute gave Catholics in Alliance $100,000 (double the amount he gave in 2005), and in the same year Catholics in Alliance listed Catholics United on its 990 (line 80b) as an organization with which it has a formal relationship,” Donohue asserts in documentation the Catholic League provided to CNA.

 

As further proof of a link, the Catholic League president cites a May 20, 2006 Washington Post article in which John Podesta, who runs the Soros-funded organization, Center for American Progress, “admits that he works closely with Catholics in Alliance and Catholics United.”

 

In an email to CNA on Monday, Catholics United president Chris Korzen denied any links to Soros. “Catholics United has no connection with Mr. Soros.  We have taken money from neither him nor OSI,” he said.

 

The Catholic League’s Director of Communications, Susan Fani, responded to Korzen's denial by telling CNA that the League stands by its statement and that the evidence is well documented.

For his part, Donohue believes that George Soros, who is Jewish, is driven to fund Catholic groups because he has an agenda to normalize Catholic support for abortion.

 

“The reason Soros funds the Catholic Left is the same reason he lavishly funds Catholics for Choice, the pro-abortion group that has twice been condemned as a fraud by Catholic bishops: they all service his agenda, namely, to make support for abortion rights a respectable Catholic position,” Donohue stated on Monday. 

 

As reported by CNA last Friday, Catholics in Alliance and Catholics United both came under fire from Archbishop Chaput of Denver, who said that the groups are doing a “disservice” to the Catholic Church.

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Expert Vatican psychiatrist: 'Celibacy is a provocation' to a superficial world

Rome, Italy, Oct 20, 2008 (CNA) - Manfred Lutz, a psychiatrist with the Congregation for the Clergy, has responded in an extensive article to those who consider celibacy not to be "natural" and explained that the discipline is not only necessary for priests and religious to fully live out their vocations, but that it is also a "provocation" to a superficial world that does not believe in life after death. 

In the article published by the L'Osservatore Romano, Lutz commented that celibacy represents "a permanent protest against collective superficiality." It proclaims that "the earthly world, with its joys and sufferings, is not all there is." 

One who cannot renounce the exercise of sexuality is not capable "of joining in a marital union" either, Lutz continued.  Looking upon women as "the object of satisfaction of a personal impulse plays a key role in the criticism of celibacy," he stated.  Lutz also noted that there are even times when spouses cannot "fully exercise their sexuality, as in the case for example of a temporary illness or a permanent handicap. In these cases, a spousal relationship that is truly profound is not destroyed but rather enriched.”

“In the same way,” Lutz continued, “the issue of celibacy should not be made into an issue merely of genital sexuality, but rather should be seen as a determined form of relationship that allows for a profound relationship with God and fruitful relationship with the persons confided to the pastoral care of the priest."

 Celibacy, Lutz argued, enables a priest to engage more intensely in spiritual direction.  "It is not true that spiritual guidance for couples would be better if it were given by spouses. Such a guide always runs the risk of unconsciously reliving the experiences of his or her own marriage and of transforming his or her own emotions into actions through a psychological mechanism without reflection."

 "For this reason," he continued, "such a guide needs solid monitoring to prevent this from happening.  On the other hand, a good spiritual guide has considerable existential experiences with many married couples, and therefore can reach out to the most difficult cases.  This explains, for example, the surprising fruitfulness of the writings on marriage of that great shepherd of souls, the Servant of God John Paul II."

Noting that celibacy is not for narcissists who are always looking to be the center of attention, Lutz recalled that the priest "should always be interested in other human beings and their misery, he should forget about himself and should make visible through his words the splendor of God before his own sufferings."

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