Washington D.C., Oct 11, 2009 (CNA) - Comprehensive immigration reform is needed to help bring undocumented immigrants “out of the shadows” and to reunite them with their families, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick told a Senate subcommittee on Thursday.
Addressing the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security on Comprehensive Immigration Reform, the cardinal said the United States requires an immigration system that links legal immigration with the country’s long-term economic needs, with family unity and with basic human rights.
“Now, our immigration system accomplishes none of these goals,” commented Cardinal McCarrick, who is a consultant to the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration.
He added that immigration reform would restore the rule of law and would provide order and legality to “an otherwise chaotic system,” a press release from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) reports.
The cardinal urged that any immigration reform legislation help bring undocumented immigrants “out of the shadows” and give them the opportunity to achieve permanent residency and citizenship. He recommended that family-based immigration be strengthened in order to preserve family unity and that legal avenues be created to help migrant workers enter the country legally and safely.
Cardinal McCarrick also called for legislation that would give immigrants “their day in court” by restoring due process protections he said were removed in 1996. In addition, he encouraged international cooperation that would address the “root causes of migration” and help immigrants and their families remain in their home countries to “support their families in dignity.”
Though immigration has economic, social and legal aspects, the cardinal explained that from the perspective of Catholic teaching immigration is ultimately a humanitarian issue.
“In our view, our immigration laws ultimately must be judged by how they impact the basic dignity and God-given human rights of the human person.”
He exhorted the Senators to keep the discourse “civil” and to refrain from both de-humanizing immigrants and “scapegoating” them for unrelated economic or social challenges.
Cardinal McCarrick pledged the Catholic Church’s assistance for the legislators who “lead the nation toward a humane and just immigration system which both restores the rule of law and respects the inherent human dignity of the person.”
Minneapolis, Minn., Oct 11, 2009 (CNA) - The editor of the archdiocesan newspaper of Minneapolis-St. Paul says Catholics shouldn’t believe that anti-Catholicism is uncommon among the general public. The best way to fight anti-Catholicism is to be a good, faithful Catholic, he advised.
Reader comments on newspaper articles, he says, shows the prejudice is “just below the surface.”
Joe Towalski, editor of The Catholic Spirit, noted in an October 8 column separate anti-Catholic incidents, such as a professor’s publicity-generating desecration of the Eucharist and the recent staging of a play titled “The Pope and the Witch” which he said displayed “mean-spirited prejudice.”
“You might believe that these were isolated incidents, that such mean-spiritedness is limited to a few people who harbor perverse notions about intellectual freedom, that anti-Catholicism isn’t common among the general public,” Towalski added.
“Sadly, however, if you believe that, you would be wrong.”
The editor cited reader comments to two newspaper articles, one from the Minneapolis Star Tribune and one from The Catholic Spirit. He charged that these comments reveal an anti-Catholicism that “lurks just below the surface of respectable society and that occasionally pokes through.”
One Star Tribune story about the archdiocese’s pastoral planning process generated “troubling” comments, Towalski reported.
One reader charged that the Church “supports and shelters” illegal immigrants to support its operating budget. Another expressed confusion that any single woman would attend a Catholic church, saying they must “love the abuse.” Other commenters blamed the Catholic Church for being corrupt, power hungry, intolerant and evil.
“Some were too offensive to even be excerpted here,” the editor said.
Granting that the comments are from only a few people who are cloaked by anonymity, he said it is not hard to imagine that more people share the same views but are less willing to state them publicly.
“No one is saying the Church is above critique and criticism. It’s a holy institution, but it’s also a human institution that participates in public life on many levels and affects the lives of many Catholics and non-Catholics by its actions and teachings. We should expect many aspects of the church to be debated and assessed.”
However, Towalski condemned the “falsities, vitriol and contempt” directed at religion in general and Catholicism in particular.
He suggested that Catholics begin to respond with prayer, drawing their strength and support from pastors and fellow parishioners. Catholics’ actions also leave an impression, so they must do “everything possible” to ensure a good impression and to change some hearts and minds.
“Sometimes we have to confront prejudice and bigotry head on and communicate that it is unacceptable,” Towalski’s column concluded. “As a church, we don’t deserve special treatment from the rest of society, but we do deserve the same degree of civility and respect that people rightly expect to receive from us.”
CNA STAFF, Oct 11, 2009 (CNA) - On Thursday, October 15, Catholics will celebrate the feast of St. Teresa of Avila, the first woman to be proclaimed Doctor of the Church.
Born in Avila, Spain on March 28, 1515, Teresa’s mother died when she was the young age of 14 and the saint was raised by her father, a holy, intellectual man.
Teresa decided to enter the religious life at the age of 20 after reading the works of St. Jerome, believing the vocation to be the safest path to salvation for herself.
For her first 20 years in the convent, Teresa, in her own words, lived a mediocre prayer life. She said she had tried mental prayer but discontinued it because she could not tear herself away from the pettiness and worldliness of her conversations and desires, such as her longing to be held in good esteem by others.
However, an intense prayer experience before an image of Christ crucified helped her renounce her worldly attachments and soon, God began visiting her through visions.
The visions were so numerous and intense that it was though they were the work of the devil. But on being examined by St. Francis Borgia and St. Peter of Alcantara, they were discerned to be God’s mystical action in her soul.
Her account of her own spiritual life in her autobiography is extraordinary, even for a mystic. She describes intimate union with God through “spiritual espousals,” “mystical marriage,” and the “transverberation of her heart” (her heart was pierced as if by a surgeon’s knife while she was in prayer; upon her death it was discovered to have a scar – in an age when open heart surgery did not exist – thus confirming what she recounted).
On August 24, 1562 she founded the convent of Discalced Carmelite Nuns, a reform of the Carmelite order so radical and strict that it caused much violent opposition. However, with the grace of God she prevailed and founded many other similar convents.
She befriended St. John of the Cross and with him undertook similar reforms with the Carmelite friars.
After suffering to the end with painful illnesses and the exhaustion from carrying out God’s work, she died on October 4, 1582. Her body and transverberated heart are still incorrupt in Alba, Spain where she died.
On September 27, 1970 she was proclaimed the first ever woman Doctor in the history of the Church by Pope Paul VI.
Vatican City, Oct 11, 2009 (CNA) - Today, Pope Benedict XVI canonized five new saints in St. Peter’s Basilica, including Fr. Damian of Molokai. During his homily, the Holy Father noted that all of the saints followed the invitation of Christ: "Come, follow me!"
Speaking to the faithful packed in St. Peter’s Basilica this morning, the Pope described the invitation of Christ, saying that he "invites his disciples to the total gift of their lives, without calculation and human self-interest, with a wholehearted faith in God."
This call, the Holy Father continued, is welcomed by the saints who "place themselves in humble obedience" to follow the Lord.
They no longer focus on themselves, the Pope explained, but by their "logic of faith." They choose "to go against the trends of the time living according to the Gospel."
Benedict XVI then gave a brief description of each of the five newly-canonized saints: a bishop, a Trappist brother, two priests and a nun.
Archbishop Zygmunt Szczesny Feliński of Warsaw, founder of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary, was committed to evangelization and support for the poor, defending the oppressed during the Russian occupation of Poland, and was sentenced to 20 years in exile in Jaroslaw on the Volga. "His gift of himself to God and man," the Holy Father said in Polish, was "full of confidence and love," and "becomes a shining example for the entire Church."
To those younger generations today who "are not satisfied with what they have," the Pontiff gave the example of Rafael Arnaiz Baron, who came from a wealthy family and was a bit "of a dreamer." A Cistercian oblate, he died when he was 27 years old, and is considered one of the greatest mystics of the twentieth century.
The Pontiff next spoke of Dominican Father Francisco Coll y Guitard, founder of the Congregation of Dominican Sisters of the Annunciation Blessed Virgin Mary. Through his preaching, the saint spread his love of the Word of God and the Sacrament of Reconciliation among all people especially the young.
Father Damian, the famous apostle to the lepers, left Flanders, Belgium at the age of 23 to go on a mission to modern day Hawaii. "Not without fear and loathing," Pope Benedict underlined, "Father Damian made the choice to go on the island of Molokai in the service of lepers who were there, abandoned by all. So he exposed himself to the disease of which they suffered. With them he felt at home. The servant of the Word became a suffering servant, leper with the lepers, during the last four years of his life."
He continued, "To follow Christ, Father Damian not only left his homeland, but has also staked his health so he, as the word of Jesus announced in today's Gospel tells us, received eternal life."
The figure of Father Damian, Benedict XVI added, "teaches us to choose the good fight not those that lead to division, but those that gather us together in unity."
And finally, the Pope spoke of Jeanne Jugan. Referring to her by her religious name of St. Mary of the Cross, from the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Holy Father commented on her "wonderful work to help the most vulnerable elderly." He noted that her initiatives and goals are "still valid today, given that many elderly people suffer from multiple poverty and loneliness, sometimes even being abandoned by their families."
The Pope concluded by inviting all present "to allow themselves to be attracted by the shining example of these saints, to be guided by their teachings so that our entire lives become a hymn of praise to God's love."
Vatican City, Oct 11, 2009 (CNA) - Presiding over the Sunday Angelus following the canonization Mass for five new saints, Pope Benedict XVI stressed that "the Virgin Mary is the star that guides" us in every "area of holiness."
The Pope thanked the faithful from all around the world who traveled to Rome for the canonization Mass and remarked that Mary’s fiat, her "yes," makes her a "model of perfect adherence to the divine will."
In his words to the English-speaking pilgrims, the Holy Father said, "May these new saints accompany you with their prayers and inspire you by the example of their holy lives."
He also addressed "a group of survivors of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki," and prayed "that the world may never again witness such mass destruction of innocent human life."
"May God bless all of you, as well as your families and loved ones at home," he continued.
Finally, the Pope encouraged everyone present to look at "the Mother of Christ with filial trust, asking for her intercession and that of the new saints" for the Church to bring "peace and salvation."