Archive of August 11, 2009

New chapel dedicated at site of ‘martyred’ catechists and children

Maputo, Mozambique, Aug 11, 2009 (CNA) - A new chapel has opened at the site of a 1992 massacre of catechists and their families during the Mozambique civil war. The church of St. Mary Magdalen was recently consecrated in a ceremony accompanied by dancing, singing and drums.

Many children were there as women in colorful costumes sang and danced, many with a baby strapped to their front or back with a long cloth.

Bishop of Inhambane Adriano Langa was the chief celebrant at the Mass, where he formally blessed the chapel of the village of Nyapapa in Guiua parish.

The chapel was built with the help of international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need.

“During Holy Mass the whole congregation remembered our benefactors, prayed for them and gave thanks for them. It was a beautiful moment, and we felt that we are not alone," Fr. Diamantino Antunes wrote to ACN.

Some 23 people were murdered at the parish pastoral center on March 22, 1992. The local priest had invited a group of catechists to an ongoing one year training session there. The catechists had brought their families, coming from as far as 250 miles away at a time of 16 years of civil war and immeasurable suffering.

The first evening after their arrival they celebrated a feast, joyous for reaching their destination. That same night, they were ambushed by a horde of rebels which included child soldiers doped with alcohol and drugs and turned into killers.

Two catechists were shot dead immediately.

Sr. Therese Balela of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary had shortly before gone into the house after plaiting the little girls’ hair. She tried to keep her fellow sisters safe by barricading them into a room. According to ACN, she then ran into the chapel to rescue the Blessed Sacrament. One attacker saw her and shot through the window, but the bullet missed.

The rebels separated the children from the adults. Some were tortured.

The adults, realizing they were going to die, asked the soldiers to allow them to pray.

“At this they were murdered with knives and axes. Even little children were butchered bestially," ACN says.

Some survived despite their terrible injuries, but 10 children and 13 adults were murdered.

Many more would have died had the priest not successfully informed his bishop, who called the army for help.

The rebels were surprised by the government troops and fled, leaving the surviving victims.

Today behind the pastoral center is a memorial next to the graves of these martyrs.

A cross in front of their graves bears all their names. The simple graves each have a green wooden cross, along with the name of the victim. A small thatched chapel has been built behind the graves.

On the 22nd of each month Catholics from the entire region gather there and commemorate the dead with a Holy Mass. The catechists who have completed their training each year in the pastoral center make their solemn promise in the presence of the bishop to serve the Church, with the martyred catechists as their example.

The Diocese of Inhambe has almost 300,000 Catholics in an area of almost 30,000 square miles but only eight diocesan and 38 religious priests. The diocese’s 22 parishes are widely scattered among villages, making chapels and support from catechists essential.

Father Antunes has expressed hopes that ACN will help the faithful of the village of Maunzo to build a chapel of their own. These villagers now face a five mile walk if they want to attend Mass in the parish church.

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Catholic college’s ‘no contraceptives’ healthcare policy is discriminatory, EEOC charges

Belmont, N.C., Aug 11, 2009 (CNA) - Revisiting a case that had been thought closed, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has ruled that Belmont Abbey College’s decision to remove contraception from its faculty health care policy, in accordance with Catholic teaching, discriminated against women.

After a faculty member discovered that contraception, abortion and voluntary sterilization were covered by the North Carolina college’s health care policy, the drugs and procedures were removed from the plan in December 2007. Though the state of North Carolina requires this coverage, it offers an exemption for religious institutions.

Explaining the decision to end the coverage, college president Dr. William Thierfelder had written:

“The teaching of the Catholic Church on this moral issue is clear. The responsibility of the College as a Catholic College sponsored by the monks of Belmont Abbey to follow Church teaching is equally clear. There was no other course of action possible if we were to operate in fidelity to our mission and to our identity as a Catholic College.”

Speaking in a Monday statement, the college said that in March 2009 it had received a “Dismissal and Notice of Rights” determination letter from the EEOC, saying that the Commission was closing its file on the discrimination charge. According to the college, the file was closed because the Commission was unable to conclude that the college’s decision to change the employee health plan violated the statutes.

“We were surprised to learn that the EEOC has now reversed itself,” the college’s statement said.

Reuben Daniels Jr., Director of the EEOC Charlotte District Office, issued an August 5 determination holding that that the denial of prescription contraception drugs constitutes discrimination based on gender “because only females take oral prescription contraceptives.”

“By denying coverage, men are not affected, only women,” he added, the Gaston Gazette reports.

The EEOC has also ruled that the college retaliated against faculty members who filed charges with the Commission by identifying them by name in a letter to faculty and staff. The Commission said that complainants should be protected by confidentiality.

“By disclosing Charging Party’s name, a chilling effect was created on Respondent’s campus whereby other faculty and staff members would be reluctant to file a charge of employment discrimination for fear of disclosure.”

The EEOC has asked both faculty and the college to work with it to reach a resolution, the Gaston Gazette says. If the college declines to discuss the settlement or an acceptable settlement is not reached, the EEOC director will inform both sides and advise them of the court enforcement alternatives available.

Responding to the EEOC’s latest determination, Belmont Abbey College said in a statement:

“We are disappointed that this matter has taken this very unusual twist, but we remain committed to ensuring that all of the College’s policies and practices follow the teachings of the Catholic Church, which includes valuing all life and treating individuals with dignity and respect, and providing equal opportunities for all.”

The college expressed disagreement with the EEOC’s charges of discrimination and retaliation.

“The College is confident that its actions ultimately will be found to be in compliance with all federal and state laws and with the U.S. Constitution,” the college’s statement continued. “Accordingly, the College will be asking the EEOC to reconsider each of the current determinations it has made in connection with the charges filed against the College.”

“The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College,” published by the Catholic higher education organization the Cardinal Newman Society, has listed Belmont Abbey College as an example of a faithful Catholic college.

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God intervened through Our Lady of Guadalupe to evangelize the Americas, explains Guadalupe expert

Phoenix, Ariz., Aug 11, 2009 (CNA) - This past week, Msgr. Eduardo Chávez Sánchez told an audience gathered at the Marian Congress, that the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe was a “salvation event” specifically directed to evangelize of all of the Americas.


Msgr. Chavez, who holds a doctorate in Church history, has published more than 28 books and articles and was recently the postulator for the cause for the canonization of Juan Diego.  He addressed a crowd gathered in Phoenix, Arizona last Thursday and remarked that Mary’s apparition in Mexico in 1531 was more powerful than most realize.


The monsignor began by noting that after the Spanish had defeated the Indians in Mexico and ended their ritual human sacrifices, a small group of Franciscan missionaries began to evangelize the new world.


He explained that there were complex tensions between the missionaries and Spanish that complicated the missionaries’ evangelization effort. Not only did the missionaries not know the native language, but they also struggled to try and protect the Indians from exploitation by the Spanish. The conflict grew so serious that the local bishop, Juan de Zumárraga, was almost assassinated by the Spanish.


Historians do not “doubt that during the first evangelizing effort in Mexico, the work of the missionaries was extraordinary,” Msgr. Chavez said, but “the task was more than they could handle.”


The situation grew more difficult for the missionaries as they tried a “thousand different ways to make themselves understood,” but had little success.  Bishop Zumárraga became so concerned that he told some of the missionaries, “If God does not intervene to provide an instant remedy, this land is on the verge of being lost forever...”


“And God intervened through the being He loves the most, His own Mother, who chooses a simple and humble Indian to be her faithful messenger, her completely trustworthy intercessor: Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin,” Chavez remarked.


In 1524, soon after the first Franciscan missionaries arrived in Mexico, Juan Diego accepted the Catholic faith and was baptized.


Chavez recounted that “on Saturday, December 9, 1531, Juan Diego was on his way to Tlatelolco to attend catechism when the Mother of God appeared to him. She asked him to be her messenger.”


She asked Juan Diego to go to Bishop Zumárraga and ask for a little temple to be built in dedication to her in the valley of Tepyac. Zumárraga received Juan Diego, but asked for a sign from the Virgin Mary to prove her message.


Juan Diego, whose uncle had been sick, tried to avoid their next meeting, but the Blessed Mother still appeared to him. Msgr. Chavez said, “The Virgin asked him to go to the top of the hill, where he would find beautiful flowers to cut and put in his tilma (cloak). Just as she said, Juan Diego found on that dry and rocky hilltop, a place of death, the most beautiful and extraordinary flowers.”


He filled his tilma and brought the roses to the bishop as was requested. When he approached the bishop, he opened his tilma to reveal the beautiful image of the Virgin Mother as a “mestiza” (a woman of mixed race), wrapped in the sun with the moon at her feet, her robe studded with stars. “Her message and will is the spreading of the love of God and that is why she asked for a temple, to offer His love to persons of every lineage who trust in Her.”


She told Juan Diego that her name was “Santa Maria de Guadalupe.” Chavez explained that “Guadalupe” is a name of Arabic origin that means “the river bed,” “the one that carries the water;” it can also be translated as “river of light.” She takes us to the living water.)


Finally, Msgr. Chavez argued that Juan Diego’s humble tilma had four essential meanings to the Indians:  First, the tilma was used as cover for protection against inclement weather.  It was also used to carry things, thus contributed to the support of the family.


Thirdly, within the Indian society, the tilma was an indication of the status and social condition of a person. Only noblemen could have their garments decorated. And lastly, the tilma was so important that during Indian weddings the man’s tilma was tied into a knot with the huipil, the woman’s dress, as a symbol that their lives were united.


The image, Chavez argued, is a code that the Indians understood perfectly.


Soon after the apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe, “conversions began occurring at an astounding rate.” The missionaries were in awe of what was happening: “the Indians were coming from everywhere, from far away lands asking for the sacraments.”


Chavez said that by 1539, only eight years after the apparition, almost nine million Indians had converted with the help of a small group of Franciscans.


The message for us today, Msgr. Chavez concluded, is that “God intervenes by means of his own Mother…to allow every human being to become a participating part of [her Son]. She is the first disciple and missionary who manifests and delivers to us the message of salvation.”


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Meet ‘Brother Martino,’ the oldest pharmacist serving the Pope

Rome, Italy, Aug 11, 2009 (CNA) -

He is 76 years old and has spent 33 years serving at the Vatican, 21 of which he has spent in the ambulance that follows Popes around. Brother Martin Mendez, known affectionately as “Br. Martino,” is a member of the Order of St. John of God and works at the Vatican Pharmacy. He has served Popes Paul VI, John Paul II and now Benedict XVI. 

Br. Martino is one of the oldest active workers at the Vatican and those who know him say he is a tireless worker. He also has earned a nick-name—“Br. Candy”—because he hands out sweets to everyone, “especially to those who complained about their shift or because they wanted to rest more.” 

After serving as the Pope’s nurse for 25 years, this Spanish monk has spent the last eight years at the Vatican Pharmacy.  He studied nursing in Madrid and as a member of the Order of St. John of God has worked throughout Spain and Bolivia. “I remember one night on the highest lake in the world, Lake Titicaca, at some 4,000 meters. That’s way up there,” he said, recounting his time in Bolivia to a Spanish newspaper.

Amidst his present-day joys he says there is one thing he misses—his spot in the Pope’s ambulance. “When they told me I was too old to sit there and that I should take another job, I was sad.  That ambulance had become my second home.  But later I was happy to know I would be at the Pope’s disposal for any emergency.”

Since Wednesday is his day-off, he is able to take up his otherwise forbidden seat in the ambulance during the Pope’s Wednesday General Audiences.

Br. Martino said he attended to Paul VI before his death, but that he was absent from Rome during the short 33-day reign of Pope John Paul I. Afterwards he was Pope John Paul II’s nurse for many years and was with him during some of the pontiff’s most difficult moments, such as the assassination attempt of May 13, 1981. “I was very close to him and miraculously I did not have to go to the hospital myself,” he said.

Asked when he would retire, Br. Martino said, “What do I know? When the Lord wills it. If you are asking when I will stop working, you can talk to my superiors.”

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Obama wants abortion coverage in reform bill, Catholic League charges

New York City, N.Y., Aug 11, 2009 (CNA) - Health care reform is hitting a wall, claims Catholic League president Bill Donohue, and if you want to know why, the answer is opposition to coverage for abortion.

According to Donohue, President Obama has thus far refused to ask Congress to pass an amendment to exclude abortion coverage from public funding because Obama is so committed to making the procedure more available.

Echoing observations made by pro-life advocates, the Catholic League president notes that only 35 percent agreed with Obama on allowing funding of abortions overseas and that a later Gallup poll found that a majority of Americans now consider themselves pro-life.

Despite these findings, Donohue charges that the president and his staff are so extreme that they are "apparently willing to sink health care reform before ever excluding abortion from the final bill."

As it tries to deal with the public backlash against the various health care proposals, the White House has created a "Reality Check" section to answer objections people have to the bills.

Noticeably absent from a list of objections that includes rationing, euthanasia, veteran’s care and private insurance, is the issue of taxpayer funding for abortions, notes Donohue. "There’s a reason for that—every time an amendment has been introduced to formally exclude abortion, it has been defeated."

Amendments to exclude abortion from any health care coverage were proposed by Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and Joseph Pitts (R-Penn.) but were voted down.

An amendment was later proposed by Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) to the House Energy and Commerce Committee and was approved. The Capps proposal was billed as a compromise on the abortion issue, but it contained a provision requiring that at least one insurance plan in each ‘premium rating area’ would cover abortion.

Although the U.S. Bishops support health care reform, they have strongly voiced their objection to including abortion in health care coverage on two occasions.

Bishop William Murphy first expressed the bishops’ objections in a letter sent to members of Congress on July 17, saying that it was objectionable to make Americans "pay for the destruction of human life."

Cardinal Justin Rigali, the U.S. bishops’ pro-life chairman, followed up the earlier letter by writing on July 29 to Senate House Energy and Commerce Committee members. His message was: "Much-needed reform must not become a vehicle for promoting an ‘abortion rights’ agenda or reversing longstanding current policies against federal abortion mandates and funding."


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Denver archbishop: ‘Common ground’ claim will be tested by details of health care reform

Denver, Colo., Aug 11, 2009 (CNA) - Whether or not the White House and Congress are really seeking to find common ground on health care reform legislation will be discovered in the details of the plan put forth, Archbishop Charles Chaput said today, warning against any attempts to place an abortion mandate in the reform bills.

The "common ground" message, Archbishop Chaput wrote, is "a very welcome theme" and along with the concept of the "common good" comprises a central message of Catholic social teaching.

"This is why the Church always seeks to work cooperatively with people of other faiths and no faith to secure the basic elements of human dignity for all our citizens—decent housing, a living wage, justice under the law and adequate food and health care," he explained.

Promoting human dignity has also been the impetus behind the U.S. bishops’ push for national health care reform "for the past several decades," Chaput said. "It’s also why the Church, in principle, supports current efforts to craft legislation that would ensure basic health care coverage for all Americans."

That being said, the Archbishop of Denver cautioned that "God, or the devil, is always in the details. As Scripture says, ‘You will know them by their fruits.’"

"The test of White House and congressional honesty about seeking ‘common ground’ will be the details of the health care plan being worked on this summer and fall," he wrote, saying that any plan that involves mandated abortion access or abortion funding would contradict the meaning of health care.

"The reason is obvious. Killing or funding the killing of unborn children has nothing to do with promoting human health, and including these things in any ‘health care’ proposal, no matter how shrewdly hidden, would simply be a form of lying," Chaput charged.

Noting that both Bishop William Murphy and Cardinal Justin Rigali have already voiced strong concerns about "a possible stealth mandate for abortion" being placed in the reform bills, Archbishop Chaput dismissed a "compromise" solution put forward by Rep. Lois Capps as a "shell game."

The Capps proposal would "seemingly ban abortion coverage as part of a federally mandated minimum benefits package. But it would require at least one insurance plan in each ‘premium rating area’ to cover abortion," the Colorado prelate explained.

However, the net effect of the Capps approach would lead to "elective abortion being covered under a government-operated public plan by allowing federal subsidies to flow to private insurance plans that cover elective abortion. This isn’t a compromise," he wrote.

Urging Colorado Catholics to contact their federal lawmakers immediately, Archbishop Chaput said that they should insist that "abortion and abortion funding be completely excluded from any national health care plan."

He also offered a few key principles that any health care reform legislation should abide by, "especially in light of the mixed and sobering track record of national health plans in other countries." Among the principles listed by Chaput are access to basic, quality health services for all persons, from conception to natural death, the protection of the conscience rights of individuals and religious institutions, the exclusion of "all so-called ‘services’ that involve violence against the dignity of the human person and that the reform measures should be "economically realistic and sustainable," spreading costs equitably across all taxpayers.

Archbishop Chaput closed his column by exhorting his flock to get involved in the political discussion, saying, "Catholics can’t afford to be absent or silent. Please get involved and make your convictions and concerns known now. We’ll have only ourselves to blame if we don’t."

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Cardinal Urosa accuses Chavez of seeking to remove God from the classroom

Caracas, Venezuela, Aug 11, 2009 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Caracas, Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, told reporters this week that the Venezuelan government suffers from “a completely negative attitude in its desire to remove religion and God from the classroom.”

Directly criticizing a proposed reform of educational laws that would eliminate religion from the state-dictated curricula, Cardinal Urosa said, “Christian families and Catholic educators must firmly demand that the option of children to receive instruction in the faith professed by their parents be included.”

Cardinal Urosa said the proposed reform was “very ambiguous” and gives the state a monopoly on education, with no regard for the legitimacy or the rights of “intermediate societies such as the Church and citizens’ organizations to operate private schools.”

It would also “eliminate religion from schools” by overturning current law which states that parents have the right to have their children receive two hours of religious education as part of the school curriculum.

The cardinal noted that the new law is clearly inspired by the model of a secular state and the opposition to religion that has its roots in the French Revolution.

“It is an anthropologically demonstrated fact that religion is an integral part of human existence and that therefore, society as such as the right to practice it,” he added.

Cardinal Urosa criticized the quick passage of the bill during the late night hours as a show of disrespect for the will of the people.

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Bolivian president snubs Catholic celebration of country’s independence

La Paz, Bolivia, Aug 11, 2009 (CNA) - During the celebration of Bolivia’s independence day on August 6, President Evo Morales snubbed the Catholic Church by skipping the traditional “Te Deum” prayer and spending the afternoon with various evangelical groups.

After ignoring the traditional Thanksgiving Mass which Bolivian presidents usually attend, Morales delivered a speech calling for unity in the country in Sucre, Bolivia’s official capital.

According to local reports, state-run television “manipulated the broadcast during the president’s speech” by inserting pre-recorded applauses.

Recently Morales said the Catholic Church was nothing more than an “historical nuisance” and an “institution of the past” that must be relegated or suppressed. The statements of the president, who is one of Hugo Chavez’s main allies, have led to increased political and social tensions in Bolivia.

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Death penalty not the answer to heinous crimes, says Chilean bishop

Santiago, Chile, Aug 11, 2009 (CNA) - Bishop Gonzalo Duarte Garcia of Valparaiso expressed his sorrow this week over the killing of five year-old Francisca Silva but warned that the death penalty many people are calling for is not an answer to the horror of such a crime.  Instead, he called for reflection on the kind of society that is being formed in the country.


“The tragic death of Francisca Silvia and everything related to her wake and funeral has been the most painful thing I have experienced in my 42 years as a priest.  As never before I have felt the powerlessness of the human being in the face of extreme moral pain and the impossibility of speaking words of comfort,” the bishop said, recalling the Mass for Francisca, a girl who as kidnapped, raped and murdered by her neighbor.


Bishop Duarte Garcia said he understood those who were calling for the death penalty for the assailant. The outcry is “a spontaneous expression of sorrow and a cry for justice, because unfortunately, public opinion, and particularly the world of the poor, feels that justice is not being done in Chile.”


However, although he said he was “harshly criticized” for his position, Bishop Duarte Garcia stressed that the death penalty is not the solution to the horror of such crimes. “Chilean society, through its leaders who represent it and have been elected by it, took an important humane step in prohibiting the death penalty,” he said.


The Chilean prelate said the courts must be allowed to do their job, he emphasized.


Chileans must reflect on “the kind of family we are building, the kind of society we are building, the kind of Church we are building,” he said. “How long will we allow the fights, the verbal violence, the slandering to continue?” he asked.  “Now the time has come to dedicate ourselves to the noble task of giving our children and young people a beautiful world, a better world, a world more just and of greater solidarity.” he urged.


Bishop Duarte Garcia said, “No human words are capable of consoling” those who have lost a daughter, but it is then that “we must hold fast to the Word of God, which alone can give meaning to our lives.” 

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Cardinal Pell celebrates Mass for Life for pregnant women

Sydney, Australia, Aug 11, 2009 (CNA) - Cardinal George Pell of Sydney celebrated the Mass for Life this past Sunday at the Basilica of St. Mary, in honor of all women who are expecting.

The Mass was attended by more than 150 future mothers who received a personal blessing from the cardinal at end of the celebration.

"The Archbishop and Archdiocese are keen to acknowledge the wonderful gift of new life and the willingness of women to be the bearers of this life," said Chris Meney, Director of the Archdiocese's Life, Marriage and Family Centre. "All mothers-to-be are welcome no matter what their individual circumstances or whether they are in a relationship or not. We want to celebrate those women who have made the choice to have babies and show our absolute commitment to the defense and protection of human life."

The idea of a Mass for Life, which was first celebrated in 2008, came to Cardinal Pell during a visit to Seoul, South Korea, where he was the first international figure to receive the Mysterium Vitae Grand Prix Award from the Archdiocese of Seoul for his commitment to life. The award also highlighted his creation of a $100,000 fund for adult stem cell research in Australia.

It was in South Korea that the cardinal became aware of the Mass for Life celebrated by Korean Catholics, and he decided to bring the idea with him back to Australia.

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Survey finds younger, more faithful trend in new religious vocations

Chicago, Ill., Aug 11, 2009 (CNA) - A new survey of those in U.S. religious communities finds that most vowed religious are aging. However, most postulants in training are under 30 and tend to favor larger communities that are faithful to the Church’s teachings.

The Georgetown University-based Center for the Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) conducted the survey on behalf of the National Religious Vocations Conference (NRVC), a Chicago-based professional association of religious vocation directors.

The survey polled both religious institutions and individuals who were in training for their vows or had made final vows, determining that at least 2,630 responding men and women were in initial formation and nearly 4,000 were in initial formation or had professed final vows in the previous 15 years.

Of those in training, about 43 percent of the respondents were under 30. About 21 percent of these were Hispanic, while 14 percent were Asian or Pacific Islander and six percent African or African American.

Previously, those who had finally professed made up an estimated 94 percent white, a press release from the NRVC says.

Among all new members 70 percent entered with a bachelor’s degree, while 90 percent held fulltime jobs. Seven percent have been married and five percent have children. A reported 73 percent attended Catholic schools for at least part of their education, while 68 percent considered religious life before age 21.

The NRVC reports that religious are an aging population overall, with most communities reporting diminishing numbers. According to the institutional survey results, about 75 percent of finally professed men and 91 percent of finally professed women are aged 60 and over, while a majority of those under the age of 60 are in their 50s.

However, some religious orders are attracting new members and a few are experiencing “significant growth.”  “Men’s communities and women’s communities following more traditional practices have better success attracting younger members today,” the NRVC says.

Looking at the big picture, the report finds that a majority of religious communities have at least one person in formation but only about 20 percent had more than five people in initial formation. Further, some responding institutes had recently merged, increasing the proportion of those institutes with postulants.

The survey reports that most new religious members want to live, work and pray with other members of their community. New entrants prefer to live in large communities of eight or more, while institutes in which members live alone face challenges attracting new members.

Older entrants to a community are drawn to its mission, while younger entrants look for an institute’s fidelity to the Church. Younger members also seek to wear a religious habit.

Younger members report not having known men and women religious when they first felt drawn to that life. They reported relying on a friend or mentor for recommendations and also used online vocation resources, including websites for religious communities.

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‘Distinctively Catholic’ Eunice Kennedy Shriver mourned

Washington D.C., Aug 11, 2009 (CNA) - Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of President John F. Kennedy, died today at the age of 88. The Knights of Columbus praised her as the founder of the Special Olympics, while pro-life leaders remembered her stand as a prominent Democrat who objected to the party’s increasing support for abortion.

"No one more than Eunice Kennedy Shriver understood better the power held by the most vulnerable in our society,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of the Susan B. Anthony List, said in a statement. “She fought for those hidden in the shadows of life, while acknowledging that they teach us far more than we could ever offer them. She was consistent in her championing of every vulnerable human life.”

According to the Susan B. Anthony List, Eunice and her husband, former Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Sargent Shriver, joined Pennsylvania Gov. Bob Casey, Sr. and many other influential pro-life leaders in signing a full-page New York Times ad protesting the Democratic Party’s embrace of abortion politics.

The July 1992 ad, titled “The New American Compact,” denounced abortion as a drastic reversal of American progress towards liberty and justice for all. It declared the pro-abortion Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade to be “the most momentous act of exclusion in our history” which deprived every unborn human being of the “most fundamental” human right to life.

The ad also called for support for policies that help both mother and child, concluding:

"We can choose to reaffirm our respect for human life. We can choose to extend once again the mantle of protection to all members of the human family, including the unborn. We can choose to provide effective care of mothers and children. And if we make those choices, America will experience a new birth of freedom, bringing with it a renewed spirit of community, compassion, and caring."

Jane Abraham, General Chairman of the Susan B. Anthony List, said Mrs. Shriver and her “heart for the most vulnerable” will be “deeply missed.”

“She fought for the dignity inherent in every human life, born and unborn. Her legacy will serve as a life-affirming example to young women everywhere, and for that we are so blessed,” Abraham added.

Mrs. Shriver was an early supporter of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List. She and her husband also supported Democrats for Life of America and Feminists for Life.

Supreme Knight of Columbus Carl A. Anderson said that Knights of Columbus everywhere mourn the passing of Mrs. Shriver.

“While she made many contributions to society throughout her life, her greatest legacy is the creation of Special Olympics. Our involvement in, and support of, Special Olympics began 40 years ago, on the day that she and her husband, our brother Knight Sargent Shriver, held the first Special Olympics games in Chicago.”

Mrs. Shriver became an advocate on behalf of the disabled in part because of her developmentally disabled sister, Rosemary, the Associated Press reports. Rosemary was given a lobotomy at the age of 23 and spent most of her life in institutional care.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s personal dedication to the intellectually disabled inspired generations of Knights and their families to volunteer their time to her “unique approach” to affirm the “fundamental dignity of every person,” Anderson added.

"Her approach to this and all of the causes that she pursued was distinctively Catholic, and the depth of her faith, which she shared with her husband throughout their lives together, has been an inspiration to every Knight. We express our heartfelt condolences to Sargent Shriver and the entire Shriver family."

In an August 10 letter sent prior to Mrs. Shriver’s death, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, conveyed to her family “the warm greetings and paternal affection” of Pope Benedict XVI. Archbishop Sambi said the Pontiff united himself spiritually with each of her family members and prayed that God will grant Mrs. Shriver, a woman of “ardent faith and generous public service,” the reward of her many labors, particularly on behalf of the physically and mentally challenged.

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