Archive of February 8, 2009

Catholic family asking for miracle through intercession of JP II

Omaha, Neb., Feb 8, 2009 (CNA) - Tracy and Tami Hauser are praying for a miracle and asking others to do the same.  On Oct. 8, their seventh child, John Paul, was born with a rare chromosomal disorder called Trisomy 13, which doctors consider incompatible with life.  Despite the bleak diagnosis, the Hausers are praying for their son's healing through the intercession of the late Pope John Paul II, their son's namesake.


The Omaha couple wants to spread a devotion to the late Pope's beatification and canonization prayer in hopes that he will intercede for them and grant them one of the three miracles needed for his canonization.

"Every day is a miracle and even if John Paul should end up dying and going to heaven, it's still a great thing for this devotion for Pope John Paul to be spread," Tami Hauser said. "I am confident and believe that he loves this baby and will intercede for us. I have just felt compelled to spread this devotion to him."

The couple, whose children range in age from 21 years to 12 weeks, said their goal is to get 1,000 people praying the beatification prayer daily with them.

They have already distributed nearly 400 prayer cards within their parish community at St. Margaret Mary Church, as well as to their neighbors, family and friends. They even dropped off a few prayer cards to the chancery.

In response, the family has received prepared meals and letters telling of prayers for their son, including one from Omaha Archbishop Elden Francis Curtiss.

"I was praying last night on how to get more people praying with us and it occurred to me that Pope John Paul II really believed in utilizing the media to spread devotion, and that I should contact the Catholic Voice to help me spread a devotion to this prayer and cause," Tami Hauser said. "It must be the Holy Spirit."


The Catholic Voice is the newspaper for the Archdiocese of Omaha.

Already John Paul has experienced small miracles.

Most children born with the disease die before birth and the few that survive usually do not come home from the hospital, Tami Hauser said. The ones who do come home have a 50 percent chance of dying within the first six months of life and 91 percent chance of dying within the first year, she said.

John Paul already has overcome two episodes where he stopped breathing and recovered on his own, and he has no external or internal malformations, she said. Many babies born with Trisomy 13, which occurs when extra DNA from chromosome 13 appears in some or all of the body's cells, have multiple abnormalities.

His breathing seems to have improved and strengthened with time, Tami Hauser said. He has hit his developmental goals so far, and he can hear and see. Last week he smiled at his grandmother, she said.

The couple found out about John Paul's illness six months into the pregnancy.

"I named him John Paul because I loved Pope John Paul and I just knew that's what I should name him after I found out about this," Tami Hauser said. "I really didn't think we were going to bring him home so I thought, 'Wouldn't that be a good person to look out for him in heaven?'"

She said John Paul's situation is a perfect opportunity for a miracle.

"There are so many people who are interested in him in our community and praying for him already that he could just have a big impact if he was able to overcome this. He really has the ability to reflect the Lord's glory," she said. "When you have a diagnosis that's so bleak, there's just no medically explaining it away."

Tami Hauser said John Paul's life has strengthened her family's faith and has brought great blessings.

"Every day really is a miracle," she said. "I just look for little things every day to rejoice in."


The Beatification Prayer:


O Blessed Trinity, we thank you for having graced the church with Pope John Paul II and for allowing the tenderness of your fatherly care, the glory of the cross of Christ, and the splendor of the Holy Spirit, to shine through him. Trusting fully in your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd, and has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you. Grant us, by his intercession, and according to your will, the graces we implore, hoping that he will soon be numbered among your saints. Amen. John Paul II, intercede for us!


Printed with permission from The Catholic Voice, newspaper from the Archdiocese of Omaha, Nebraska.



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Vandal defaces crosses from university pro-life display

Washington D.C., Feb 8, 2009 (CNA) - The College Democrats at George Washington University have expelled one of their members after the unidentified student stole and defaced a number of crosses used in a Young America’s Foundation (YAF) pro-life display.

On the evening of Jan. 26 members of the College Republicans found the crosses scattered around the office they share with the College Democrats, the campus newspaper The Hatchet reports.

One cross was pinned upside down on a bulletin board and draped with a condom. Another featured a depiction of Jesus on the cross with the words “pwned” and “lol,” internet lingo for “owned” and “laughing out loud.”

The other crosses were inscribed with the words “Darwin,” “take a condom” and “Amelia West,” who is vice president of the Campus Democrats.

Brandon Hines, communication director for the College Republicans, told The Hatchet that he first saw the crosses during his office hours on Monday night. Pictures were taken and later appeared on conservative filmmaker Pat Dollard’s blog.

A New York-area church had donated the crosses to YAF to commemorate the anniversary of Roe v. Wade in a display on campus.

YAF president Rob Lockwood called the action “completely inappropriate.”

“It’s private property and disrespectful on a number of levels. If they want to do that in their apartment they would have the right to, but these were on display in a public student office.”

A Jan. 29 statement from the College Democrats said that a member of their group had apologized for the vandalism and was expelled from the organization, the Hatchet reports. The member was not named in the statement.

“We would never as an organization sanction such reprehensible conduct and we are tremendously upset that the organization's trust was violated by a member who chose to act otherwise," the statement said.

According to The Hatchet, West also commented in an e-mail:

“A simple apology is not enough to make up for the feelings of those affected and we ask all to realize that our organization has been hurt by this too… And now is the time for us to come together - Democrats, Republicans, believers of all faiths - and bring healthy closure to this incident while embracing the tenets of respect in this academic community."

Lockwood said the vandalism was reported to the university police department and the crosses are now in the department’s custody.

University spokeswoman Tracy Schario said the student responsible for the action has been identified by the school and will face disciplinary action.

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Cardinal Rigali urges retention of pro-life Congressional spending laws

Washington D.C., Feb 8, 2009 (CNA) - Members of Congress are being urged to maintain pro-life provisions in appropriations bills in a recent letter from Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia and chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-life Activities.

“I urge you not to use this legislation to weaken or rescind longstanding provisions that protect U.S. taxpayers from being forced to fund and promote the destruction of innocent human life," Cardinal Rigali said, speaking on behalf of the Committee in his Feb. 5 letter.

He said he is joined by “millions of Catholics and others” who are sending to their representatives postcards bearing the message “Please oppose FOCA [the 'Freedom of Choice Act'] or any similar measure, and retain laws against federal funding and promotion of abortion.”

“While an extreme proposal like FOCA would overturn hundreds of pro-life laws at once, we are equally concerned that such laws may be overturned one at a time during Congress's appropriations process," the cardinal noted.

Cardinal Rigali’s letter highlighted pro-life prohibitions such as: the Hyde Amendment and similar measures which prohibit taxpayer funding for abortions; the Dickey/Wicker Amendment barring federal funding for research in which human embryos are created, harmed and destroyed; and the Kemp-Kasten Amendment preventing U.S. funding of organizations that support or help manage programs involving coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.

“In a society that wants to reduce abortions, it makes no sense for government to force its citizens to fund and promote abortion,” he wrote.

The conscience protections provided in the Hyde Weldon Amendment to prevent discrimination against pro-life heath care providers are also of concern to the bishops and other pro-lifers.

“Clearly 'choice' is an empty slogan if physicians, nurses and hospitals must 'choose' to provide abortions or be forced out of the health care field,” the cardinal said.

Cardinal Rigali closed his letter by arguing that these laws and similar ones have been in effect for many years “no matter which party controlled Congress or the White House” because “they are modest, common-sense policies that are widely supported even among people who disagree on the legal status of abortion.”

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Sex abuse attorney’s book ignores abuse in public schools, critics charge

Denver, Colo., Feb 8, 2009 (CNA) - A prominent law professor’s push to remove statutes of limitations on sexual abuse lawsuits ignores much larger sexual abuse problems in the public schools and excessively concentrates upon the Catholic Church, two writers say in a critical book review.

Marci Hamilton is a Yeshiva University law professor who has lobbied for “window legislation” allowing sexual abuse lawsuits on allegations which are past the standard statutory limitations.

She describes her 2008 book “Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children” as a “how-to book on stopping child abuse, empowering survivors, and helping society identify child predators.” Eliminating Statutes of limitation is her “straightforward and attainable” answer for both criminal prosecution of sexual perpetrators and for civil damage suits against them and their employers.

L. Martin Nussbaum, who is legal counsel for the Colorado Catholic Conference and other religious institutions, and writer Melissa Musick Nussbaum voiced their criticisms of Hamilton in an essay published Thursday at First Things Magazine’s blog “On the Square.”

In Hamilton’s book, according to the Nussbaums, the author calls for abolishing “statutes of limitations going forward” and for retroactively reviving time-barred claims of sexual abuse.

“But when she turns to public entities, Hamilton goes curiously vague,” the Nussbaums charge.

“She notes that public entities are often protected by sovereign immunity, a doctrine that ‘protects a state’s treasury from private lawsuits in order to shield a state from onerous interference with the performance of governmental duties and to preserve its control over state property and funds that might otherwise be endangered.’

“She shows no such concern for soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and schools endangered by private lawsuits against the Catholic community. Indeed, she claims that the Catholic institutions and their insurers were able to pay settlements totaling over two billion dollars to date without affecting the Church’s ‘charitable public works.’”

The Nussbaums argued that this approach neglects the realities of sexual abuse.

They highlight a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ report “Child Maltreatment 2006,” which shows that about 66 percent of sexual abuse perpetrators are parents, other relatives, unmarried partners of parents, friends or neighbors. Only 0.5 percent are classed as “professionals,” among whom clergy are a subset.

“Neither Child Maltreatment 2006 nor any other study identifies clergy (much less Catholic priests) as a statistically significant class of perpetrators. Statistically insignificant and taken from years and decades past, cases of abuse involving Catholic clergy—though profoundly troubling—are nonetheless few compared to the cases involving, for example, public-school teachers,” the Nussbaums argued.

“[I]n both actual numbers and percentages, sexual abuse of children by teachers, coaches, and employees in public schools exceeds anything that occurred in Catholic institutions,” they continued, claiming that sexual abuse of children in public schools is still occurring in “significant numbers,” in contrast to Catholic institutions.

According to the Nussbaums, expert Prof. Carol Shakeshaft told Education Week magazine “The physical sexual abuse of students in [public] schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests.”

The Catholic bishops’ 2007 Annual Report on sexual abuse, based on an outside audit, found fifteen allegations of childhood sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in the U.S. from 2000 to 2007, an average rate of less than two per year. However, a 2007 Associated Press investigation indentified 2,570 public school teachers in the period 2001 to 2005 who had their teaching licenses “taken away, denied, surrendered voluntarily, or restricted” as a result of sexual conduct with minors.

Noting that the bishops’ report includes unproven allegations while the public schools report concerns sufficiently proven allegations, the Nussbaums write:

“Assuming only one victim per disciplined public school teacher, the ratio of abuse in public schools to that in the Catholic Church could run as high as 275 to 1.”

However, according to the Nussbaums, Hamilton’s new book only argues for the removal of statutory limitations for private entities and not for public ones.

The Nussbaums defended the existence of statutes of limitation, arguing the laws ensure reliable evidence and hamper false accusations. They also prevent undue liabilities upon future generations who are punished for the actions of a perpetrator in their organization’s past.

The two critics then identified Hamilton as a member of a coalition which included victims’ attorneys and the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests who in 2002 successfully lobbied the California State Assembly to enact a window on statutes of limitations for sex abuse claims,

This resulted in claims against the Catholic Church concerning incidents as far back as the 1930s, many alleging abuse by over a hundred priests “long dead.”

Against Hamilton’s claim that Catholic dioceses were not “targeted” by the legislation, the Nussbaums quote the chief sponsor of the bill, State Sen. John Burton, who told the Los Angeles Times that the bill was a “direct response” to the national clerical sexual abuse scandal involving Catholic priests and was aimed at “deep pocket” defendants such as the Catholic Church.

The Nussbaums also described Hamilton and her coalition’s efforts in Colorado in 2006, saying that the Colorado Catholic Conference had asked that the coalition’s proposed legislation satisfy the two principles of “fairness and prevention” by asking that the same standards and penalties be applied to both private and public institutions.

Hamilton attacked the argument as an “insidious” and “vile” strategy, to which the Nussbaums responded:

“Calling for childhood sexual abuse legislation that treats public and private entities alike is only insidious if one’s real goal is to burden only private institutions.”

The Nussbaums concluded their essay at the First Things website by arguing:

“Marci Hamilton’s Justice Denied is a sloppy piece of work, poorly researched and poorly written. It is a diatribe against the Catholic Church disguised as a solution to child sexual abuse. Hamilton’s clients and ours—all of us—deserve better.”

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Pope Benedict: despite sicknesses, we are ‘made for life’

Vatican City, Feb 8, 2009 (CNA) - Pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday to pray the Angelus prayer at noon with Pope Benedict XVI. In his remarks preceding the Angelus, Pope Benedict spoke about the Sunday Gospel in which Jesus shows God’s love through healing a “multitude” of persons.

Benedict XVI spoke about "the meaning and value of illness in every situation in which the human being can find himself."

"In spite of the fact that sickness is part of the human experience," he said, "we are unable to accustom ourselves to it, not only because it sometimes becomes truly burdensome and serious, but essentially because we are made for life.”

“Our 'internal instinct' rightly makes us think of God as the fullness of life, and moreover as eternal and perfect Life," the Holy Father said.

He continued: “When we are tested by suffering and our prayers seem to be in vain, doubts arise within us, and in anguish we ask: what is the will of God?”

“It is to this question that we find an answer in the Gospel,” the Pontiff explained. “For example, in today's passage we read that 'Jesus healed many who were afflicted with various illnesses, and cast out many demons.’ In another passage from St. Matthew, it says that 'Jesus went through all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom and healing every sort of illness and infirmity among the people.'”

Pope Benedict expounded: “Jesus leaves no doubt. God, whose face he himself has revealed to us, is the God of life, who delivers us from all evil. The signs of his power of love are the healings that he performs.”

He added: “In this way he demonstrates that the kingdom of God is near, by restoring men and women to their full integrity in spirit and body.”

"The work of Jesus is extended in the mission of the Church,” the Pontiff continued. “Through the sacraments, it is Christ who communicates his life to multitudes of brothers and sisters, while he heals and comforts countless sick through the many health care activities that the Christian communities carry out with fraternal charity.”

The Holy Father explained, “It is true. How many Christians, priests, religious, and laity, have lent and continue to lend in every part of the world their hands, their eyes, and their hearts to Christ, the true physician of souls and bodies."

He concluded: "Let us pray for all the sick, especially those most seriously ill, who cannot provide for themselves in any way, but are completely dependent on the care of others. May each of them experience, in the concern of those beside him, the power of God's love and the riches of his saving grace. Mary, health of the sick, pray for us."

After the Marian prayer, the pope asked Catholics all over the world to unite in prayer with the faithful of Madagascar, where for weeks there have been clashes and demonstrations between the police and the population. The bishops of the island have called for a day of prayer today, on behalf of national reconciliation and social justice. "I invite you," the pope said, "to unite yourselves with the Catholics of Madagascar to entrust to the Lord those who have died in the demonstrations, and to implore from him, through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, the return of harmony, social tranquility, and civil coexistence."

On the occasion of the World Day of the Sick, on February 11, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the Pontiff noted, a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica will be held and presided over by the President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers, Cardinal Lozano Barragán. That afternoon, the pope will meet with the sick and pilgrims in the basilica.

Pope Benedict said, “I assure my special blessing to all the sick, to health care workers, and to volunteers in every part of the world."

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Vatican not considering ‘immediate’ action in wake of Legionaries' crisis

Vatican City, Feb 8, 2009 (CNA) - The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, headed by Cardinal Franc Rodé, is not considering an immediate intervention in the crisis generated by the recent announcement that the deceased founder of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi, Fr. Marcial Maciel, led a double life and fathered a child in the 1980s.

An official from the Congregation who spoke with Catholic News Agency explained Saturday morning that the dicastery – usually known by its short, inaccurate older name, the Congregation for Religious – has no immediate plans to intervene in the Legion of Christ. However, the official said that intervention could happen in the future in “case of necessity.”

The official explained that the dicastery usually intervenes in religious congregations in two circumstances: when it is requested by the organization itself, or when the internal crisis of an organization is perceived by the Holy See as “impossible to solve by internal means.”

When asked to describe cases of the latter, the official used the following examples: “a religious order or congregation in which a significant internal split takes place around the identity of their charism; when there is a significant number of members who question new or reigning authorities, or when economic or moral problems bring the organization to a crisis that cannot be managed by its current leadership.”

In that regard, the official cited the example of Lumen Dei, a spiritual family in which the dicastery recently intervened after the Vatican found the leadership could not deal with internal struggles.

The official explained that it is “too early” to tell if the Legionaries’ leadership is incapable of working through the crisis generated by the public acknowledgment of Fr. Maciel’s double life, and said that “there is no doubt the Church is expecting some kind of program for the future that will bring back confidence both internally and publicly.”

Asked if the dicastery would intervene if there is a “re-foundation” of the Legion, as suggested by some commentators, the official said that “‘re-foundation’ is too broad a concept to define a policy from the Congregation.”

“A ‘re-foundation’ could mean a complete renewal of their original charism and a deep scrutiny of the current leadership,” the official told CNA. “In that case, an intervention does not seem apparent.”

“But if by such a term we are speaking of a revision of the original charism, the discipline or even the name, then obviously the Congregation will have to be involved as required by the (Canon) law.”

Finally, the official highlighted that the fact that the dicastery is not announcing an intervention “in no way implies a lack of the sense of gravity of the issue.”

“It just means that any step should be decided according to the principles of charity, prudence and justice, moved by the well-being of those affected and the common good of the Church, and not in a rush to respond to short-sighted pressure.”

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