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Archive of August 13, 2009

Catholic playwright works to impact culture by showcasing heroic sanctity

San Jose, Calif., Aug 13, 2009 (CNA) - A Catholic California playwright says that theatre is “the grassroots of entertainment” that can have a “profound impact” on young people. He points to his own plays and productions as examples of efforts to bring portrayals of heroism and sanctity to the secular culture.

Cathal Gallagher, author of more than ten plays, was born in County Donegal, Ireland in 1938. He served in the U.S. Air Force and lived in Denver, Colorado before moving to San Jose, California in 1963.

In a Tuesday e-mail interview he told CNA that he had been writing comedies for the stage when he read about Cardinal Josef Mindszenty, a Hungarian prelate who suffered under Communist persecution. Gallagher said he was so moved by the cardinal’s heroism that he decided to write a play about him.

Though Gallagher had thought he could submit the play to a Catholic theatre company, he could not find one. This led him and some fellow playwrights and directors to found Quo Vadis Theatre Company.

Gallagher explained that the company decided to put on its plays in city theatres, not church halls.

“By staging plays about heroic characters, it enabled us to engage the secular culture,” he told CNA, saying his choice of venue exposed many theatergoers to Catholic saints and martyrs for the first time.

Gallagher also sees his work as a way to evangelize.

“A Hollywood producer has stated that movies have more influence on kids than parents do.

“I would go further. We have lost our youth to entertainment. They have been swallowed by the culture. It’s going to get worse. I have seen some Hollywood scripts and they are atrocious.

“Our answer is to show heroic characters on stage. Young people imitate their heroes.”

While movies cost millions to make, plays are the “grassroots of entertainment,” Gallagher explained. He noted that they can have a “profound impact” on college and high school students.

“Great plays become movies and then DVDs and enter the marketplace of ideas,” he added.

Last year, urged by some Los Angeles-area Catholics to go “right to the heart of Tinseltown,” Gallagher and his son Peter founded G.K. Chesterton Theatre Company in Santa Monica.

Because some non-Catholics would not attend a Quo Vadis production, the new company was secular in nature to appeal to a wider audience. However, its plays are in the same genre of inspiring stories about heroes, saints and martyrs.

The new company’s first production was “Malcolm and Teresa,” a play Gallagher wrote based on British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge’s conversion, which resulted from his encounters with Mother Teresa.

It received “excellent reviews,” Gallagher told CNA, explaining that it had a six-week run. Some theatergoers returned for a second viewing and others asked that its run be extended.

G.K. Chesterton Theatre Company is seeking permanent space in Los Angeles, Gallagher said, and needs financial support from the business community.

“A theatre of our own would serve as an oasis in a pretty sordid world. It would enable us to train new playwrights and screenwriters and maybe bring about a Catholic renaissance in the arts,” he said.

Other plays Gallagher has produced include “Viva Cristo Rey,” about the Mexican Jesuit martyr Blessed Miguel Pro, as well as a drama based on a priest’s account of a death row inmate’s conversion in 1944 Mississippi. His play “The Pearl of York” depicts the 16th century English martyr St. Margaret Clitherow.

“Margaret of Castello,” his next production, portrays the life of the young Italian woman who led a life of sanctity in 13th century Florence despite being born blind, lame and a hunchback, and also being abandoned by her parents.

“The theme is obviously pro-life,” Gallagher told CNA. “Every human being has worth and a God-given place in the human family.”

The play opens October 8 at the Historic Hoover Theater in San Jose, California, with tickets going on sale October 1.

The website of Quo Vadis Theatre Company is http://www.quovadistheatre.org.

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Speakers at World Congress of Families decry anti-family ‘cultural imperialism’

Amsterdam, Netherlands, Aug 13, 2009 (CNA) - Speakers at the Fifth World Congress of Families in Amsterdam on Tuesday discussed the place of the family in the developing world, emphasizing the potential for mutual learning between nations. One speaker lamented a new “cultural imperialism” which promotes a “culture of death” in less developed countries.

The World Congress of Families V (WCFV), which concluded on Wednesday, is the preeminent gathering of individuals and organizations from around the world who promote the natural family. It is inter-religious in nature.

The panel discussion for members of the media took place at Amsterdam’s RAI Center. It had as its theme “The Developing World is the First World of the Family.”

Larry Jacobs, Managing Director of the Congress’ projects, moderated the panel.

He noted that calling developing countries the “Third World” can be inaccurate. Though he acknowledged that many Western nations have more robust economies, he said the economy is only one measure of the wealth of a society. Concerning the strength of the family, he said, some countries in the so-called “third world” are actually the “first world.”

The King of Ghana, Drolor Basso Adamley I, was among the panelists. He stated that the developing world can make a significant contribution in promoting the natural family and has “a great deal to teach the West.”

Another panelist, Christine Vollmer of the Latin American Alliance for the Family, concurred and said that the underdeveloped world is beginning to teach “humanity” to the developed world. Dr. Farooq Hassan, a Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, emphasized that both the East and the West can teach each other.

Yuri Mantilla, director of International Government Affairs for Focus on the Family, said that developing countries generally think that population is not the problem. The panelist decried a “neo-cultural imperialism” that promotes a “culture of death” through policies and values that affirm abortion, devalue the natural family and traditional marriage, and advocate population control at a time of worldwide population decline.

Moira Chimombo, the Executive Director of the African family group SAFE, discussed the fight against HIV/AIDS with reporters, saying that AIDS is not just a medical problem but a “behavioral problem” that should be combated with a “family approach.”

While the Amsterdam building of an organizer of the Congress was attacked on July 30 by anti-Christian vandals opposed to the event, Congress speaker James M. Kushiner reported on the blog of Touchstone Magazine that fewer than a dozen protesters turned out.

According to previous reports, Congress participants from the U.S. included Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute; President of the Population Research Institute Steven W. Mosher; and Dr. Allan Carlson, WCF founder and president of the Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society.

The Congress’ declaration on the family is reportedly forthcoming.

The World Congress of Families web site is at http://www.worldcongress.org/

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N.Y. archbishop takes stock of challenges in the American Catholic Church

Phoenix, Ariz., Aug 13, 2009 (CNA) - Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York told CNA last week that the Catholic Church is currently facing many challenges, four being: the vocation to marriage, the state of Catholic parishes and schools, the great number of lapsed Catholics and finally the difficulties in a culture desperate to keep the Church and morals out of the public square.

 

Sitting down with CNA in Phoenix, Arizona during the 127th annual Knights of Columbus convention, the archbishop noted that while he loves his new assignment as the Archbishop of New York, his archdiocese of 2.6 million Catholics, as well as the Church in the United States, is currently facing some serious challenges.

 

“Oh, there’s tons of challenges, my Lord, there’s never any dearth of challenges,” the archbishop began, explaining that the basic challenge for all Catholics is the same one that Jesus gave on Pentecost Sunday: “Go out to the world and preach the Gospel.”

 

The archbishop then broke down Jesus’ words into four practical challenges the Church currently faces in preaching the Gospel to all people, the first being the instability of marriage and family.

 

“That’s where we have the real vocation crisis,” he remarked, noting that “only 50% of our Catholic young people are getting married.”

 

“We have a vocation crisis to life-long, life-giving, loving, faithful marriage.  If we take care of that one, we’ll have all the priests and nuns we need for the church,” Dolan said.

 

The second challenge the Church faces, according to Archbishop Dolan, is that it must “maintain and strengthen the blessed infrastructure that we have in the Catholic Church in the United States.”  This infrastructure, the parishes, schools, religious education programs, Catholic Charities and hospitals, has “fortified the Church” for “over 200 years.”  Now, however, these same institutions are struggling because of their size and cost.

 

The aim isn’t only to maintain them, he continued, they need to be strengthened because “now more than ever does the Church need a public face.”

 

The Church needs to have a good public profile because there are “a lot of people out there who would like to exclude the Church from any type of public witness and we can’t let that happen,” the Archbishop of New York said.

 

Moving on to the third challenge for the U.S. Catholic Church, Dolan simply described it as reaching out and inviting our people home. 

 

“It scares the life out of me when I find out that second most identifiable religious grouping on the religious landscape of the United States are people who say, ‘I used to be a Catholic.’”

 

We bishops have to do something about this, he insisted.  “We have to say, ‘no, look, there is no such thing as a former Catholic.  Your Catholicism is, as a matter of fact, in your DNA.  And whether you like it or not you’re born into it just like you’re born into a natural family.’”

 

Now, he continued, “you might say, ‘I’m ticked off at my natural family, I’m not hanging around with them anymore, I’ve got things to work out.’ But you’re still a member of that family and sooner or later you usually make your peace with it and go home.”

 

In comparison, “the Church is our supernatural family,” he explained, “you might be upset with it, you might not be showing up for Sunday dinner, you might be mad at it about a couple of things…but you’re still a member.” 

 

The Church “is your supernatural family, and, darn it, we need you and want you to come back home.  You’re always welcome,” Dolan offered.

 

The final challenge the he listed is confronting “a culture” with many “strident voices who want to keep” God, morals, virtue and the Church “out of the public square.”

 

He explained that those voices will say that “religious is fine as an individual hobby… but don’t enforce it on the rest of us.”

 

However, Dolan argued, without the voice of the Church, “our public square is reduced if the Church isn’t part of it, and what makes America great is that religion has always had a strong, respected place at the table.” Those who want to exclude the voice of the Church, he said, are involved in “galloping secularism.” 

 

He explained: “There are those movers and shakers in society that want to take the teeth out of religion and we can’t let that happen” because America, individuals, the world and culture would be much worse off.

 

“We’ve got something to say, and darn it, we want to say it,” he stated.

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Strong Catholic presence at large music festival in the northeast

Gilford, N.H., Aug 13, 2009 (CNA) - More than 100 performers proclaimed God’s overwhelming love during the four-day SoulFest Christian music festival held on Gunstock Mountain.

 

A large gathering of about 13,000 guests listened to inspirational talks and enjoyed performances from national and local musical artists and some of the biggest acts in Christian music, including, Casting Crowns, Newsboys, and Third Day.

 

Among the various Christian denominations represented at SoulFest, the Catholic presence was significant.

 

Daily Mass was celebrated Thursday through Saturday at 10 a.m. with a lively music ministry guided by the talented Matt Maher, one of the most popular, critically-acclaimed Catholic musicians in the country.

 

With his hair buzzed short to form the shape of a cross, Tom Snow, 17, of Southington, CT, explained that he has been attending SoulFest for the past six years.

 

“I absolutely love it,” Snow said after Mass. “I love being able to be in a place where there are so many Christian people.”

 

David Simon, 24, of Saddle River, N.J, explained how wonderful it is to have daily Mass at SoulFest.

 

“It’s an opportunity for Catholics who left the Church to want to come home,” said Simon. “It’s such and opportunity to see the power of the Eucharist.”

 

Glenridge, a New England-based Catholic rock band from of Concord, N.H., comprised of five young men, expressed their passion for their faith through their music, presenting eager fans with a musical heat, burning up SoulFest.  With three performances, Glenridge was the only Catholic band to ever play the main stage at SoulFest, other than Matt Maher.

 

“I loved that we got to play on the biggest stage there in front of nearly a thousand people and that it was the same stage that so many other huge bands have played on before,” said bassist Matt Gennetti, 18. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing.”

 

Guitarist Brad Bittman, 17, expressed that as Catholic artists, the group’s music has been well received at SoulFest.

 

“Everyone that has seen us has had nothing but good things to say about our music,” said Bittman. “We've gotten messages from people that we knew before and have just met at Soulfest saying how unique and epic our sound is, and how our lyrics have touched them in some way.”

 

The band members explained that their Catholic faith plays a central role in their music.

 

“It’s such a big part of who we are that it’s naturally going to be a key source for inspiration,” said pianist Ben O’Brien, 19.

 

Glenridge expressed that they are musically inspired by bands both Christian and secular such as Rich Mullins, Delirious, Matt Maher, U2, and Coldplay.

 

“We are on a search for our own unique sound as it is divinely inspired,” said lead vocalist Brian Waldron, 30.

 

Drummer Brandon Fitts, 20, noted that Glenridge does not discriminate between different Christian denominations, but explained that it is a privilege knowing they are a Catholic band among many Protestant performers.

 

“It was a cool experience being one of the only Catholic bands to play at Soulfest,” said Fitts. “We love being Catholic but know that we are one body under the love of Jesus Christ no matter what Christian church you go to on Sunday. We make sure to love everyone.”

 

O’Brien explained that writing and performing their own faith-based music is their vocation as Catholics.

 

“I think a lot of people get involved in this industry just for the money,” O’Brien said. “For us, at the end of the day, if we’ve somehow drawn people closer to God, that’s what’s important to us.”

 

Printed with permission from The Rhode Island Catholic.

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Archbishop Gomez proposes community service for illegal immigrants instead of deportation

San Antonio, Texas, Aug 13, 2009 (CNA) - Discussing the topic of immigration reform, Archbishop of San Antonio José H. Gomez is warning that those who break U.S. laws should not expect to escape punishment. However, instead of deportation, he is proposing community service as a “far more constructive solution” that would build communities rather than “tear them apart.”

In his latest column for the archdiocesean newspaper, which will be published on Friday, Archbishop Gomez will recount his personal history as both an American citizen and an immigrant. He was born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico and some of his ancestors have been in present-day Texas since the early 19th century.

“I’ve always had family and friends on both sides of the border. So I have many conflicting emotions about the way this debate has played out in recent years,” he says.

But it’s not his personal life that drives his efforts to push for immigration reform, rather Archbishop Gomez writes that it’s the need for Catholics to be true witnesses to the “generous love of Christ” in observing the “spiritual, emotional, social and economic deterioration” that the law is causing both for immigrants and their families and the entire United States.

Archbishop Gomez reiterates Cardinal Francis George’s comments that the U.S. immigration system clearly requires repair, and also his exhortation to respect and observe all just laws.

“From a humanitarian perspective,” the cardinal said at the U.S. bishops’ spring meeting, “our fellow human beings, who migrate to support their families, continue to suffer at the hands of immigration policies that separate them from family members and drive them into remote parts of the American desert, sometimes to their deaths. This suffering should not continue.”

Commenting further, Archbishop Gomez says bishops are not politicians but “pastors of souls” who believe the current immigration situation is “profoundly harmful to the soul of our country.”

“[W]e need a reform that will confront the issue in all its complexity that will reconcile the parties and overcome extreme positions,” the Archbishop of San Antonio urges, repeating Cardinal George’s call for a resolution to the legal status of immigrants lacking proper documentation.

“The Church has an important role to play in promoting forgiveness and reconciliation on this issue,” the archbishop adds. “We must work so that justice and mercy, not anger and resentment, are the motives behind our response to illegal immigration.”

He also notes that the millions of immigrants have violated U.S. immigration and that this makes law-abiding Americans angry.

“And it should,” he writes.

While punishment is necessary, Archbishop Gomez explains, deportation is “too severe a penalty.”

“Deportations are breaking up families, leaving wives without husbands, children without parents. That is not a situation that Catholics should want. The family is central not only to our faith, but to our society.”

Instead, Gomez re-introduces his proposal that he gave at a Missouri Catholic Conference meeting last October. There he said that illegal immigrants “can’t expect to escape punishment” but added that this punishment should be “some kind of community service.”

“This would build communities rather than tear them apart. And it would serve to better integrate the immigrants into the social and moral fabric of America,” Archbishop Gomez writes.

While this may or may not be the solution, it is possible for politicians to find “a just and honorable solution” that equally expresses compassion for the defenseless and respect for the law, he says.

“The lives of millions of undocumented workers and their families hang in the balance,” his column concludes. “With all my heart, I ask Catholics and people of good will to encourage our elected officials, with our prayers and our actions, to propose comprehensive immigration reform before the end of this year.”

Archbishop Gomez’s full column will be available in Today’s Catholic, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

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Former Attorney General responds to attempt to legalize anencephaly abortion in Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Aug 13, 2009 (CNA) - The former Attorney General of Brazil, Claudio Fonteles, has strongly called for the defense of the unborn in response to a new effort to get the Supreme Court to legalize abortion in cases of anencephaly.

 

Interim Attorney General Deborah Duprat, who held the post for 22 days earlier this year, filed motions before Brazil’s high court in support of anencephaly abortion and the legalization of homosexual unions.

 

Fonteles, who consistently opposed abortion in cases of babies with disabilities and deformities, published his objections this week to the opinions of Duprat, who took advantage of her short term to push the pro-abortion agenda.

 

He questioned Duprat’s insistence that abortion is necessary in such cases because these babies have a very brief life span.  “This reasoning is totally incompatible with the constitutional principle of the inviolability of human life,” Fonteles said.

 

“Human life is inviolable, it is a personal right that is individually guaranteed and leads to the necessary conclusion that the length of a human life—whether 3 seconds, 3 minutes, 3 hours, 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months, 3 years—is not a decisive factor” in its deliberate elimination.

 

He also criticized Duprat’s assertion that the recognition of human dignity necessarily entails respect for each person’s free determination to “make fundamental decisions about their own lives and to act without interference from the State or from third parties.”

 

The “constitutional principle of human dignity safeguards the self-determination of each man and woman because everybody, man and woman alike, from the moment of conception, is in constant and unceasing movement through the cycles that compose our lives. We are embryos, later fetuses, newborns, infants, young people, adults and elderly. We are able to experience each of the cycles.”

 

Fonteles also disputed the notion that the mother should have total power over her unborn child. This is actually discrimination against the father, making him a person “who counts for nothing.” A “reproductive autonomy that only serves the interest of the mother” must not be accepted, he insisted.

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Youth endangered by music with suggestive lyrics, Filipino bishop says

Manila, Philippines, Aug 13, 2009 (CNA) - Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez, the head of the Diocese of Caloocan, is urging music composers and radio stations not to promote a culture of casual sex to the youth through sexually explicit lyrics.

 

The bishop made his comments over the Church-run radio channel Radyo Veritas on Thursday and criticized the song “Banana” by the group “Illegal Substance.” The group bases their songs off of sophomoric humor and crass lyrics.

 

“The song has a meaning that is sexual,” said Bishop Iñiguez.

 

Songs like that, he said, including another hit “Nagmamahal Ako ng Bakla (I’m Loving Gay Men),” have a double meaning.

 

“They should be banned because of its sexually explicit lyrics,” said Bishop Iñiguez, who heads the Committee on Public Affairs of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

 

These songs and others like them “will affect their thinking and their concept of morality regarding those matters” and could encourage teenagers to engage in casual sex, he worried.

 

Music composers should also remember their responsibility to contribute to the good of society by thinking first of the negative effects of the lyrics to the young listeners.

 

"I think those composers should have social responsibilities.”

 

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Archdiocese of St. Paul says ‘reform’ group not associated with Catholic Church

St. Paul, Minn., Aug 13, 2009 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has announced that a group of Catholics planning a “synod” for church “reform” is not associated with the Catholic Church, cautioning the faithful that the group is trying to change magisterial teachings of the Church that all Catholics must believe.

The group, the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR) is planning to hold a “synod” at an undisclosed location within the archdiocese on September 18, 2010. The theme will be “Claiming Our Place at the Table.”

On its website, the group explains its “Understanding of Church [sic]” as a “communion of communities” based upon “acceptance.” It professes support for the “fundamental equality of all members,” participation and collaboration, a “dialogical spirit” and a “Prophetic/prophetic sign.”

The website announces a “major fundraiser” for the “synod,” held in Lake Elmo, Minnesota on Thursday, with Maryknoll priest Fr. Roy Bourgeois. The announcement says he will share his perspective on “the social injustices within Roman Catholicism” and will offer a vision of the “emerging church.”

Last year Fr. Bourgeois was excommunicated for publicly dissenting from Catholic teaching by advocating the "ordination" of women. 

He has described the “exclusion of women from the priesthood” as an injustice comparable to the injustice he has opposed in the School of the Americas, a controversial U.S. training program for Latin American military leaders. He has also compared Catholic teaching on women’s ordination to the segregation of African-Americans in his home state of Louisiana.

CNA contacted the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers and spoke with spokeswoman Betsey Guest, who confirmed that Fr. Bourgeois had been excommunicated automatically after he did not recant his statements regarding the ordination of women.

A Thursday statement from the Archdiocese of St. Paul says that the CCCR “synod” is not being conducted under the auspices of the archdiocese, the Catholic Church, or any entity or organization associated with either.

“Moreover, the Archdiocese wishes to lovingly caution those members of the faithful participating in the ‘work/study groups’ and intending to attend the synod of the potential that the issues on which CCCR will seek reform are magisterial teachings of the Church, and are therefore to be believed by divine and catholic faith,” the statement continued.

The archdiocese reminded the Catholic faithful that contrary doctrines ought to be shunned, while the faith and morals proposed “definitively” by the Magisterium of the Church should be embraced, safeguarded and expounded.

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Audit finds Planned Parenthood affiliate overcharged $629,000 to Medicaid

Spokane, Wash., Aug 13, 2009 (CNA) - An audit has uncovered information that Planned Parenthood of the Inland Northwest has required unnecessary office visits by its poorest patients, securing over half a million dollars in excess payments from Medicaid.

The audit has also discovered questionable billing procedures and unauthorized staff prescribing and dispensing birth control pills, Doug Porter, Washington’s Medicaid director, told the Spokesman-Review.

The excess taxpayer-funded Medicaid payments total $629,143, out of a total of about $7.7 million in payments. Interest of one percent per month will begin accruing on August 20 if the clinic does not repay the state.

The audit was launched after staff with the Washington Department of Social and Health Services became suspicious of the frequency of clinic visits by Medicaid patients.

“Most birth control clinics will see a woman and usually determine what method of birth control is best and then they will prescribe six months to a year right then and there,” Porter explained.

However, Medicaid patients were coming to Planned Parenthood every month.

Auditors reviewed 333 procedures performed from March 2004 to February 2007. Audit sample findings were then applied to all 267,815 procedures to calculate the overpayment.

Porter told the Spokesman-Review he could not disclose whether he had referred the findings to Medicaid fraud investigators with the Washington Attorney General’s Office.

Planned Parenthood is considering appealing the latest audit’s findings. In a written statement, the organization said the audit was “routine” and would not affect patient services.

Porter told the Spokesman Review that the overbilling is considered significant.

“What we hope is that $630,000 is enough tuition to be smarter about how they operate and do business,” he said. “It’s indicative of sloppy billing practices for sure, but it’s not egregious.”

Porter also noted concerns about audit findings that drug prescriptions were being charged by unauthorized staff.

“That’s a quality-of-care issue,” he said. “You can’t have a receptionist handing out pills.”

Planned Parenthood clinics in other states are also under investigation after being exposed by student investigator Lila Rose of Live Action Films for not reporting suspected cases of statutory rape, as required by state law.

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Family is fundamental to society, World Congress of Families declaration says

Amsterdam, Netherlands, Aug 13, 2009 (CNA) -

Concluding its 2009 meeting, the World Congress of Families (WCF) has issued its Amsterdam Declaration on the Family. The document defends the natural family as a “fundamental” of society and advocates its protection and encouragement.

The Congress, which took place from August 10 -12 in Amsterdam, describes itself as the world’s largest gathering of pro-family leaders and grass-roots activists.

The WCF Declaration, adopted on Wednesday, affirmed the statement in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights that says the family is “the natural and fundamental group unit of society, and is entitled to protection by society and the State.”

Traditional Marriage

Following previous declarations, signatories affirmed that the family rests upon “the lifelong marriage of a man to a woman, for the purposes of welcoming and nurturing new human life, providing love, companionship, and mutual support, building a home rich in functions, and strengthening the bonds of the generations.”

“Religious organizations should be free to uphold their own moral teachings about marriage and family in the public square,” the Declaration added.

The Declaration described the family as existing prior to the state. It called for “sound laws and policies” that support the natural institution of marriage, discourage divorce, encourage commitment to childrearing, and respect parental authority in moral and practical education.

Sex Education

It specifically addressed sex education, saying it should be “parent-guided” and focused on self-restraint, fidelity, and responsible choices.

Discussing the response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the Congress endorsed a program of “abstinence, faithfulness and character building” to reinforce family life, break the “cycle of infection” and best serve the interests of children.

Children

Calling for the expansion of access to pre- and post-natal care and counseling on “positive alternatives” to abortion, the Congress endorsed the promotion of breastfeeding as a child survival strategy.

The Declaration called for the protection of vulnerable human life, “especially at the beginning and end of the life cycle.”

The Congress further advocated the protection of the physical, mental, social and spiritual development of children. It professed support for “pro-child” social, cultural and legal structures most optimal for children and endorsed work arrangements that allow parents to spend more time with their children.

Poverty

The Declaration also proposed the natural family as the solution to poverty, saying support for those in extreme poverty should be given in “a family context” while family home ownership and micro-enterprises sold be encouraged. It endorsed the renewal of rural economies as alternatives to migration to cities and affirmed “intergenerational solidarity” beyond the nuclear family.

The World Congress of Families said its statement may not necessarily reflect the views of individual speakers and delegates.

Congress participants from the U.S. included Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute; president of the Population Research Institute Steven W. Mosher; and Dr. Allan Carlson, WCF founder and president of the Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society.

The WCF website is at http://www.worldcongress.org/

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