Wichita, Kan., Feb 7, 2009 (CNA) - Even after 18 years working as a registered nurse in labor and delivery, Linda Pulliam never tires of the excitement and joy of bringing new lives into the world each day.
"When they are born it’s just a miracle, and it never gets old," Linda Pulliam, a registered nurse at the NewLife Center at Via Christi Regional Medical Center said. "It’s an exciting place to work because grandma and grandpa are waiting outside the door waiting to hear that baby cry."
When they do, it is music to her ears, "especially after it’s been a long labor. It’s such a relief and joy for everybody to hear that," she said. Besides the cries of newborns, Brahm’s lullaby plays each time a baby is born, to Pulliam’s delight. "It’s exciting to hear the music, even if you weren’t involved in the birth."
For Pulliam, working as a labor and delivery nurse is something of a calling. During her rounds in nursing school something clicked when she went through a rotation in labor and delivery. She just knew she had found her niche.
Over the years she’s been involved in too many births to count. Last year alone there were nearly 3,000 babies born at Via Christi Regional Medical Center’s St. Joseph Campus. The names of the families and infants are hard to recall, too, but a description of a scene during the labor or birth process will take her back to the moment.
"In labor you get to bond with [the patients] because you have been with them and you get to know them. Sometimes I see them in the grocery store and they say, ‘You delivered our baby!’ It’s pretty neat," she added.
Patients can request the nurse they want to help deliver their baby, and Pulliam’s been tapped numerous times. Because of her length of service, she’s starting to see babies she delivered come in to have babies of their own.
"It makes me feel good that they had a good experience and they trust you. There’s a comfort area there, especially if they’re coming in for their second child," she said.
With two daughters, two sons and six grandkids, Pulliam sees her family when she tends a young mother-to-be. "I try to treat each mom as if they were my daughters, and think about how I would like my daughters to be treated," she explained.
"This is still my niche. I love labor and delivery. It never crossed my mind to work some place else. Bringing a new life into the world makes it so special," she smiled.
Printed with permission from the Catholic Advance, newspaper from the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas.
Anchorage, Alaska, Feb 7, 2009 (CNA) - On a recent Friday afternoon, amid the bustle of midtown Anchorage traffic, the sounds of Old World liturgical chant — deep baritones mixing with high alto voices — floated from a tiny chapel.
The dozen or so singers who attended the practice session last month come from all walks of life. They are part of a growing chorus of voices in Alaska and across the world who are drawn to the ancient Gregorian chant.
“This music makes me think of the angels and how they sing,”18-year old Patrick Klump mused during a recent choir practice. “I love to sing, and with this I get to give glory to God at the same time,” Klump told the Anchor.
Fellow choir member Tim Main agreed.
“These hymns speak to me about faith,” Main said. “Sometimes it speaks simply, and sometimes profoundly, but either way it is an excellent way for me to pray.”
The group sings every Friday afternoon at Holy Rosary Academy, a K-12 Catholic school that operates independently of the Anchorage Archdiocese school system with permission from Archbishop Roger Schwietz.
Each practice session concludes with the chanting of Vespers. The group also sings for the Dominican rite Latin Mass at Holy Family Cathedral on the first Saturday of each month and occasionally for Masses at Blessed Sacrament Monastery in South Anchorage.
The newly formed choir is the realized dream of several local Catholics who sought for years to establish a Gregorian chant choir.
Originally a small group of staff and students from Holy Rosary Academy, the choir has since grown to include Catholics from a number of parishes in Anchorage.
The chanters got their opportunity to sing and perform publicly this past fall at the first annual Alaska Catholic Family Conference in Anchorage.
“From there, that’s where we decided that we wanted to get more active,” Mains said. “It got our feet on the ground and got us started.”
Choir member Angela Heaphy, a parishioner at St. Patrick Church, said she joined the group not only because of the singing, but also because it provides an opportunity to learn more about the rich traditions of the Catholic Church.
“It’s great to learn about the history of the church’s music,” she said. “I love the spiritual dimension and the camaraderie of praying in community.”
Preserving the sacred
According to Dr. Stan Grove, a choir member and teacher at Holy Rosary Academy, the roots behind Gregorian chant reach far into history, even before Christ’s birth.
“It’s believed that its organic development came from synagogue chant,” he explained. “People of the Jewish faith would gather and sing the psalms in prayer.”
He added that many church historians believe the first Christian community most likely sang a form of this synagogue prayer.
Gregorian chant rose to prominence in the Catholic Church during the early Middle Ages, around the 6th and 7th centuries and has since reverberated from the inside of monastery and cathedral walls across the world.
Tradition holds that St. Gregory the Great compiled many of the chants that are a part of the Mass today.
Although chant has always had official support from the church, its usage waned in the years following Vatican II (1962-65), when the Roman rite Catholic Mass was opened up to non-Latin languages.
More recently, there are signs that chant is finding its place again. In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI allowed for wider celebration of the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass, which has created a natural setting for Gregorian chant choirs to flourish.
In Anchorage, the introduction of the Dominican rite Latin Mass has also provided a liturgical context for the new Gregorian chanters.
Grove speaks about the importance of preserving this sacred music and points to church teaching on the matter, including writings from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, before he became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.
“I would be in favor of a new openness toward the use of Latin,” wrote Cardinal Ratzinger in his book “God and the World,” which was published in 2002.
Cardinal Ratzinger continued: “If even in the great liturgical celebrations in Rome, no one can sing the Kyrie or the Sanctus any more, no one knows what Gloria means, then a cultural loss has become a loss of what we share in common.”
As pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI has continued to encourage a renewal of sacred music throughout the world.
It is a cause that U.S. bishops also addressed in a document called “Sing to the Lord.” The document states that Gregorian chant “should be given pride of place in liturgical services.”
The Anchorage chanters believe their choir is one avenue for local Catholics to realize the universal church’s desire to rekindle Gregorian chant.
For Heaphy, chanting has benefits that extend far beyond the choir loft. “It’s great to have the music of the church stuck in my head,” she said. “Often times I find myself humming at home in the kitchen. I get far more out of it than I can contribute.”
Printed with permission from the Catholic Anchor, newspaper from the Diocese of Anchorage, Alaska.
Madrid, Spain, Feb 7, 2009 (CNA) - The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said this week, “When the Magisterium of the Church speaks about human rights she does not forget to base them on God, the source and guarantor of all rights, nor does she forget to root them in the natural law.”
During a speech marking the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the offices of the Bishops’ Conference of Spain in Madrid, the cardinal recalled, “The source of rights is never human consensus, as great as it may be.”
After emphasizing the intrinsic dignity of each person, Cardinal Bertone explained that “the current Roman Pontiff, in perfect continuity with the thinking of his predecessor, underscores that human rights are universal, they apply to all in virtue of the common origin of the person. In reality, the mark of universality is a consequence inscribed in the very concept of human rights: if human rights are those attributed to man for the mere fact of being man, it is therefore evident that they should be recognized for all those who meet this condition.”
“In our days, there is a continual and radical process of redefining individual human rights in very sensitive and fundamental areas, such as the family, the rights of the child and of women, etc. We should insist that human rights be ‘above’ politics and also above the ‘nation-state.’ They are truly supranational. No political minority or majority can change the rights of those who are most vulnerable in our society or the human rights inherent to all human persons,” he stated.
Speaking later about the first right of all human beings, the right to life, the Vatican Secretary of State emphasized, “We find ourselves facing a completely new panorama with respect to the era in which the Universal Declaration was approved, above all because of the development of sciences and technologies, with numerous technical instruments to make life or death decisions. There is a need to recover the full meaning of embracing life.”
Regarding religious freedom, the cardinal said, “It is inconceivable, therefore, that believers have to suppress a part of themselves—their faith—in order to be active citizens. It should never be necessary to renounce God in order to enjoy one’s own rights.”
“The commitment of the Church for human rights has precise reasons inherent in her very mission,” the cardinal said. “It is part of the Church’s diligence for man in his integral dimension. We could say that the ultimate and fundamental motive for the Church’s interest in human rights is of an ethical and religious order.”
Miami, Fla., Feb 7, 2009 (CNA) - The Florida Board of Medicine on Friday revoked the medical license of an abortionist who headed a clinic where a staffer allegedly placed a live baby girl in the trash after an abortion failed to kill her.
The board found Dr. Pierre Jean-Jacque Renelique guilty of medical malpractice and delegating responsibility to unlicensed personnel, the Associated Press reports.
This move follows the Jan. 27 filing of a suit on behalf of Shanice Denise Osbourne, the infant girl who was killed in July, 2006. The suit alleges that Shanice was born alive and then murdered by the defendant, abortion clinic owner Belkis Gonzalez, the Chicago-based Thomas More Society reports.
Shanice’s mother Sycloria Williams had decided to abort her pregnancy after learning she was pregnant in July 2006. The Miramar Woman Center in Miramar, Florida referred her to abortionist Dr. Pierre Jean-Jacque Renelique, who works at a Hialeah abortion clinic.
He inserted laminaria sticks to dilate Williams’ cervix and prescribed additional medication to be taken that night to prepare for the procedure the next morning at the Hialeah abortion clinic.
On the morning of July 20, 2006 Williams arrived at the clinic feeling ill and in severe pain from the medication the night before. Dr. Renelique was not present at the clinic, where no one else had any kind of medical license.
The clinic’s receptionist gave Williams the drug Cytotec, which induces labor and dilates the cervix.
Williams began to suffer worse nausea and cramping and the staff gave her a gown and placed her in the clinic’s recovery room area.
“There she waited for hours in severe and increasing abdominal pain without medical staff available,” a statement from the Thomas More Society claims.
While Williams began to position herself for birth as the chemically-induced labor progressed, the staff instructed her to “keep your legs together and sit down.”
Williams, bracing herself with the arms of the recliner chair she was sitting on, lifted herself and her water broke.
She delivered a live baby girl onto the seat of the recliner.
“The baby writhed and gasped for air, still connected to Williams by the umbilical cord. Immobilized by shock, Williams watched clinic owner Gonzalez run into the room, cut the umbilical cord with a pair of orange-handled shears, stuff the baby and afterbirth into a red biohazard bag and throw the bag into a garbage can,” the Thomas More Society alleges.
Around 3:00 p.m. or an hour later, the abortion doctor arrived at the clinic and sedated Williams. The doctor’s medical records did not indicate that Williams had delivered a live baby who was killed at the clinic.
Anonymous callers notified police at least three times about the live birth and murder. A search warrant executed by police on July 22, 2006 found medical records but could not find the baby’s remains.
Another anonymous caller six days later told police that the baby’s body had been hidden on the roof, though responding police did not find the baby’s body there.
Still another anonymous tip led police to acquire a search warrant and find the decomposing body of the baby in a cardboard box in a closet at the clinic. DNA confirmed the baby was Williams’.
A Miami-Dade County medical examiner performed an autopsy which reportedly showed that the baby’s lungs had been filled with air before she was killed, proving she was born alive.
The examiner blamed the death on “extreme prematurity,” which the Thomas More Society claimed ignored eyewitness testimony reporting that the baby was killed.
The Thomas More Society says it took interest in the case when the Miami Herald quoted a law professor who argued that if the baby wasn’t “viable” the case could not be considered homicide.”
Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society, called that view “dead wrong.”
“A disabled or dying patient may not be 'viable' in the sense of being able to live very long or without help, but if you kill them, it's murder. This was a case of infanticide, and we're not going to let it go ignored or unpunished.”
The Thomas More Society says it tried to secure a second autopsy but prosecutors would not release the baby’s body or take action to begin criminal proceedings.
An investigator and expert pathologist were retained by the Society. The expert examined the autopsy slides and other facts of the case, concluding that the acts and omissions of the abortionist and the clinic staff were causative factors in Shanice’s death.
"This case will trumpet to the world that abortion clinics are places of barbarism where mothers as well as their babies are at serious risk," Brejcha said. "Moreover, this case should put some sharp teeth into the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. As we struggle to end the scourge of legal abortion in this country, we must hold the line against infanticide!"
The lawsuit also targets thirteen defendants including Gonzalez, abortionist Dr. Renelique and their conglomerate of four South Florida abortion clinics. They are being sued for unlicensed and unauthorized medical practice, botched abortions, evasive tactics, falsifying medical records and the killing, hiding and disposing of the baby.
Scranton, Pa., Feb 7, 2009 (CNA) - Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton, Pennsylvania has written a letter to self-described pro-life Democrat Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) expressing “deep regret” over his vote against an amendment which would have reinstated the Mexico City Policy and said his vote would result in the deaths of thousands of unborn children.
The Mexico City Policy, which bars federal funding for international groups which promote or perform abortions, was reversed by President Barack Obama on Jan. 23.
Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) had proposed an amendment to the Children’s Health Insurance Act which would have reinstated the policy.
Writing in a Jan. 30 letter, Bishop Martino said he learned of Sen. Casey’s vote against the amendment “with deep regret.”
Explaining that the policy also prohibited the funding of organizations which lobby governments to make abortion legal, Bishop Martino wrote:
“In effect, the reversal of the Mexico City policy will mean that over 450 million dollars of American foreign aid will go to organizations that are militant in promoting abortion as a method of population control, particularly in countries that find abortion objectionable on moral grounds.
“Senator, is not this vote a contradiction of your repeated claim that you support the protection of unborn life?”
Saying that the senator’s office had argued that the 1973 Helms Amendment provides the same restrictions as the Mexico City Policy, Bishop Martino argued that the amendment prohibits only U.S. funds from being used to pay for abortions or to motivate or to coerce anyone to practice abortions.
The Helms Amendment “does not have the same effect in limiting abortions abroad” and “in no way keeps U.S. federal funds from organizations which use their own money to pay for or support abortions,” Bishop Martino charged.
The bishop explained that he had called for vigilance against objections to the Church’s teaching on life “so prevalent in political discourse.”
He said his call for vigilance prompted his own response to Sen. Casey.
“Your vote against the Mexico City Policy will mean the deaths of thousands of unborn children,” Bishop Martino said. “This is an offense against life and a denial of our Catholic teaching on the dignity of every human being. This action is worthy of condemnation by all moral men and women.”
The bishop also challenged Sen. Casey’s support for “family planning” before citing several Church documents which discussed lawmakers’ “grave and clear obligation” to oppose any law that “attacks human life.”
“It is my deepest wish, Senator, to convince you of the necessity of rescinding your vote on the Martinez Amendment,” Bishop Martino’s letter continued. “It is the height of irony that this amendment was defeated while the Senate passed legislation to provide health insurance for children who would otherwise be without it.
“What hypocrisy offers health insurance to children in one part of the world when children in another part will be deprived, by the stroke of the same pen, of their first breath?”
“Your failure to reverse this vote will regrettably mean that you persist formally in cooperating with the evil brought about by this hideous and unnecessary policy,” Bishop Martino counseled, offering to discuss his “grave concerns” with the Senator.
Dublin, Ireland, Feb 7, 2009 (CNA) - Speaking in Ireland on Saturday, Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput discussed the importance of truth in the public square and exhorted his listeners to bring Jesus to the world by being “vigorous and unembarrassed about our Catholic presence in society.”
Addressing the John Paul II Society in Ireland, the archbishop began his talk titled, “Render Unto Caesar: Personal Faith and Public Duty,” by noting that while there are differences between his usual audience of American Catholics and the current crowd of Irish Catholics, “being a ‘Catholic’ – and I mean genuinely Catholic -- makes us much more similar than we are different.” Yes, the mission of a Christian “changes it its details from country to country and age to age,” but the “basic mission is always the same – to bring the world to Jesus Christ; and Jesus Christ to the world,” he said.
The archbishop explained that his talk would address the “heart of the problems” Catholics “face in living our Christian vocation in the modern world.” We are being told two things: The Scriptures remind us to “make disciples of all nations,” and the mass media and political leaders tell us to “be ‘tolerant,’ to fit in, to ‘grow up’ and to stop making a lot of religious noise.”
“Obviously we can’t follow both voices at the same time.”
The archbishop then recalled the words “Render unto Caesar” from Matthew 22, when the Sadducees and Pharisees attempted to trap Jesus by asking if it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar.
If he says yes, they’ll accuse him of being in collaboration with Rome, if he answers no, Rome “will see him as a rebel and troublemaker,” the Denver prelate explained. Jesus asks for a coin “with the image of the Emperor Tiberius” and says:
“Whose likeness and inscription is this?’ They said, ‘Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Through his actions and words in the passage, the archbishop noted, Jesus “acknowledges that Caesar does have rights,” but his rights are not over things that belong to God. It is our job, to determine what belongs to God and what belongs to Caesar, he summarized.
Acknowledging that this can be difficult, the archbishop pointed Christians toward the Scriptures, where we learn that “we owe secular leaders our respect and prayers; respect for the law; obedience to proper authority; and service to the common good,” not to be confused with “subservience, or silence, or inaction, or excuse-making or acquiescence to grave evil in the public life we all share.”
He went on to say that the “more we reflect on this biblical text,” the more obvious it is that everything about our life “belongs not to Caesar but to God: our intellect, our talents, our free will, the people we love, the beauty and goodness in the world, our soul, our moral integrity, our hope for eternal life. These are the things worth struggling to ennoble and defend, and none of them came from Tiberius or anyone who succeeded him.”
Archbishop Chaput, always seeking to make the faith applicable, then asked, “So what does that imply for our actions right now, today, in public life?”
He explained that Catholics must speak and act in truth, they must live out the true description of a “Catholic,” they must be faithful to the Church, form their conscience properly, remember that the Church is non-partisan, defend life, treat others with charity and remember that being a more faithful Catholic leads to becoming a better citizen of one’s country.
He also emphasized that we cannot “call ourselves Catholic, and then simply stand by while immigrants get mistreated, or the poor get robbed, or unborn children get killed. The Catholic faith is always personal, but it’s never private. If our faith is real, then it will bear fruit in our public decisions and behaviors, including our political choices,” he stressed.
After listing the ways to be a more faithful Catholic in the public life, the archbishop reminded his audience that even if they haven’t adhered to the Church’s teachings in the past, “every breath we take is an opportunity for conversion and a new beginning.”
“Our task today, as fellow Catholics – here in Ireland, in the United States and everywhere the Church preaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ – is to make ourselves helpers of God as He builds a culture of justice, mercy and life.”
Lest some balk at the seeming impossibility of building a culture of life in today’s society, Archbishop Chaput employed an example:
“Let’s imagine a society, with a complex economy and a strong military. It also includes many different religions, although religion tends to be a private affair or a matter of civic ceremony.”
“Within this society,” he continued, “not enough children are born to replenish the adult population or do the work to keep the society going.” Promiscuity, bisexuality, birth control and abortion are not only “widely practiced” but also “justified by leading intellectuals.”
“What society am I talking about? he asked. “Most of the Western world would broadly fit this description,” but “I just outlined the state of the Mediterranean world at the time of Jesus Christ.”
The archbishop then linked our current “post-Christian” society with the “pre-Christian” world. “The truth is, the challenges we face as European and American Catholics today are very much like those facing the first Christians.”
With these similarities, the prelate continued, “it might help to have a little perspective on how they went about evangelizing their culture. They did such a good job that within 400 years Christianity was the world’s dominant religion and the foundation of Western civilization...”
Early Christianity spread because “the Apostles and their successors, preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ. People believed in that Gospel,” which “meant changing their whole way of thinking and living. It was a radical transformation -- so radical they couldn’t go on living like the people around them anymore.”
“The early Christians understood that they were members of a new worldwide family of God more important than any language or national borders.” “They saw the culture around them, despite all of its greatness and power, as a culture of despair, a society that was slowly killing itself,” Archbishop Chaput said.
“Here’s the point I want to leave you with,” the archbishop said as he brought his address with a close. “If the world of pagan Rome and its Caesars could be won for Jesus Christ, we can do the same in our own day. But what it takes is the zeal and courage to live what we claim to believe.”
“Each of us has the vocation to be a missionary of Jesus Christ where we live and work and vote. Each of us is called to bring Christian truth to the public debate, to be vigorous and unembarrassed about our Catholic presence in society, and to be a leaven in our nation’s public life,” he charged.
“All of us here today already have that hunger to make a difference in our hearts. Now we need to act on it. Now we need to live it. So let’s pray for each other, and encourage each other, and get down to the Lord’s work.”