Cross Plains, Wis., Oct 13, 2009 (CNA) - A married couple recently appointed by Pope Benedict to be consultors for the Pontifical Council for the Family says they will bring their experience in a ministry dedicated to helping troubled spouses reconcile to the job.
Frank and Julie LaBoda, from Cross Plains, Wisconsin, are international coordinators for the Retrouvaille program that helps couples experiencing troubled times in their marriage.
CNA spoke about the appointment with Julie LaBoda, who said their nomination was “really humbling.” At the same time, she said, the position will draw on their ministry, which she described as “who we are; it’s what we do.”
For the past 11 years the two have been involved in Retrouvaille, which Julie described as a “peer ministry” for couples who have experienced pain and misery in marriage. Retrouvaille participants share the “gifts of hope and reconciliation” and show how it is possible to have unity again.
The ministry is available in 24 countries around the world.
The LaBodas said they were happy to represent Retrouvaille and especially marriage in the United States.
Julie LaBoda said she did not know exactly what they would be doing for the Pontifical Council on the Family, but reported that she and her husband had met with its president, Cardinal Ennio Antonelli.
She described the Council as the arm of the Church that is invested in what the Church has to say and do about marriage and the family throughout the world.
The Council will be meeting by e-mail and will include the LaBodas if they have any questions for them.
LaBoda said her and her husband’s work with Retrouvaille and their own experiences would be “infinitely beneficial” in their consultations with the Council.
“We know firsthand from our own broken marriage and almost divorce that hope is possible and that the Church cares about marriage. God created marriage. It’s fabulous that the Church is fighting for us,” she told CNA.
“If we can be that voice for the committee, Amen.”
Through Retrouvaille, the LaBodas have met “hundreds and hundreds” of couples who thought they had lost all hope but have now reconciled, Julie LaBoda said. She deemed this to be their “strongest message.”
She said these couples are counting on the Catholic Church to extend that hope “because we’re not going to get it in the secular world.”
LaBoda said she was “a little disappointed” to learn that she and her husband are the only married couple appointed to be consultors for the Pontifical Council on the Family, though she is pleased that they are asking a married couple for their opinion.
She reported that there is an Italian married couple who are members of the Pontifical Council itself, adding that she believed they too were a Retrouvaille couple.
“Having been involved in Retrouvaille, it’s a lie for anyone to think that all priests don’t know anything about marriage,” she added.
Priests know “intimately” the struggles of married couples, LaBoda said, comparing such struggles to those found in priests’ sacramental call to be married to the Church.
“They have same joy and misery we have.”
“I do not take for granted the knowledge and wisdom that knowledge priests and religious have about sacrament of marriage,” she added.
More information on Retrouvaille can be found at http://Retrouvaille.org.
Sydney, Australia, Oct 13, 2009 (CNA) - A Catholic pharmacist in Australia has come under criticism for his decision to stop selling contraceptives and condoms.
Trevor Dal Broi, who runs East Griffith Pharmacy in New South Wales, is now handing out a leaflet to women with prescriptions for the contraceptive pill, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. The leaflets say he accepts the teachings of the Catholic Church on artificial contraception and that he has a moral objection to dispensing them.
Dal Broi, who is married with four children, did not explain his decision to the press. He has also banned the sale of emergency contraception pills. The pills have been available without a prescription for between $20 and $30 since 2004.
New South Wales Health Minister Carmel Tebbutt told the Sydney Morning Herald there was no legislation that compelled a pharmacist to supply or stock any medicine. She claimed that experts believe condoms play a very important role in preventing sexually transmitted diseases.
Family Planning New South Wales chief executive officer Ann Brassil said her organization also believes that without access to condoms and contraceptives, high rates of “unplanned pregnancies” and sexually transmitted infections will result.
In the United States, some Catholic pharmacists have also taken a stand against selling contraceptives.
Bob Laird, the executive director of Divine Mercy Care Pharmacy, told CNA last year that people are choosing not to use birth control and are instead selecting other options. “Birth control is not good health care. Birth control makes healthy reproductive organs sick and prevents the marital act from completion. This is not healthcare. Birth control is a lifestyle choice,” Laird said, adding that, “Many [people] reject such choices for moral and health reasons.”
Manila, Philippines, Oct 13, 2009 (CNA) - The Bishop of Pagadian City has said the diocese is “deeply saddened” by the Sunday night abduction of Columban Missionary Fr. Michael Sinnot. He appealed to the priest’s abductors to treat the “man of peace” respectfully and to release him soon.
Fr. Sinnott was taken at gunpoint by six men who stormed his home in Pagadian City on the island of Mindanao on Sunday. According to Reuters, witnesses said the priest was bundled into a van and later dragged to a boat.
No groups have claimed responsibility, though the region is home to radical Muslim groups such as Abu Sayyaf. The national police chief Jesus Verzosa said teams are scouring coastal areas in their hunt for the kidnappers.
In a statement read on Veritas 846 Radio on Monday morning, Bishop Emmanuel T. Cabajar, CSsR, said the priest had worked a long time in the southern island diocese and has been involved with disabled children through his Hangop Kabataan Foundation.
The priest has also worked with abused and abandoned children during his nearly fifty years in the country.
According to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Bishop Cabajar reported that the 78-year-old Irish missionary is not in the best of health and needs his daily dosage of medicine for a heart condition.
“It is urgent therefore that some arrangement be made to ensure that Fr. Mick gets his medicine,” he said, using the abducted priest’s nickname.
The bishop called on the people to pray for the priest’s safety. He also reported that he had not received any information on ransom demands.
Vatican City, Oct 13, 2009 (CNA) - The Holy See's press office released details this morning of the Pope's previously announced visit to the Synagogue of Rome as well as the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization's offices in Rome.
The Holy Father will first visit the headquarters of the FAO on November 16 to mark the opening of the World Summit on Food Security. The international summit is being held during the organization's 36th general conference, taking place November 18-23.
As previously announced by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict will also pay a visit to the Synagogue of Rome on January 17, 2010.
The date was chosen to coincide with “the 21st Day for the study and development of dialogue between Catholics and Jews, and of the Feast of the 'Mo'ed di Piombo' which falls on the same day.”
According to the press office, “The feast commemorates a miraculous event of 1793 when the Jews of Rome escaped an attack by the populace of the city thanks to a sudden storm which doused the fires that had been ignited against the gates of the ghetto.”
Washington D.C., Oct 13, 2009 (CNA) - Speaking on behalf of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Francis George offered his congratulations to President Obama after he received the Nobel Peace Prize. The Chicago cardinal noted that though more work needs to be done, the U.S. president has already contributed to peace nationally and internationally.
Cardinal George, who is the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as well as Archbishop of Chicago, released a statement yesterday expressing his “congratulations to President Barack Obama” on his receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.
The cardinal acknowledged the comments of many critics who have noted that though he has discussed peace, the president has yet to yield results.
“As he has graciously said, much of the work of realizing a more peaceful and just world for all persons and nations remains to be done; but the prize was given because as President of the United States he has already changed the international conversation,” the cardinal remarked.
Fox News reported last week that the award committee chose the president due to his work to reduce nuclear weapons, his commitment to easing tensions with the Middle East and his dedication to cooperation.
The chairman of the Norwegian award committee charged with selecting the peace prize recipient, Thorbjoern Jagland, said that although the president’s initiatives have yet to bear fruit, “Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future.”
Cardinal George added that Obama has already contributed to peace in the United States as the “remarkable and historic achievement of his election” has already “changed the relationships between men and women of all races.”
“The rich diversity of United States society is now more surely anchored in a national unity that is better able to foster the peace we all are challenged to pursue,” the cardinal said, concluding his statement by asking for God's blessing on “the President and his family.”
Vatican City, Oct 13, 2009 (CNA) - Writing in the context of the Year for Priests, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, the President of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, has sent a letter to those who are sick and suffering, asking them to pray for priests and the beatification of Pope John Paul II.
The purpose of the Year is to call the whole Christian community to “rediscover the beauty of the priestly vocation and thus to pray for priests,” the archbishop said, noting that this includes the sick.
Archbishop Zimowski reminded sick people in his October 1 letter that priests play an important role in their lives. “A priest at the bedside of a sick person represents Christ himself, the Divine Physician, who is not indifferent to the fate of those who suffer. Indeed, through the sacraments of the Church, administered by a priest, Jesus Christ offers to a sick person healing through reconciliation and the forgiveness of sins, through anointing with holy oil and lastly in the Eucharist, in the viaticum in which Christ himself becomes, as Giovanni Leonardi used to say, ‘the medicine of immortality’ by which ‘we are comforted, nourished, transformed into God, and participants in the divine nature,” he wrote.
The head of the Council for Health Care Workers also pointed out that the conclusion of the Year for Priests coincides with the 25th anniversary of the founding of Pontifical Council. Pope John Paul II, he recalled, founded the Council on the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes to demonstrate the Church's care for the sick.
“Because of this providential anniversary,” Archbishop Zimowski wrote, “I am near to each one of you and I invite you, dear sick brothers and sisters, to unceasingly address your prayers and the offering up of your sufferings to the Lord of life for the holiness of your well loved priests, so that they can with devotion and pastoral charity perform the ministry that is entrusted to them by Christ, the physician of bodies and souls.”
During the Year for Priests, he encouraged the faithful who are sick and suffering to “rediscover the beauty of the prayer of the Holy Rosary for the spiritual benefit of priests, in a special way during the month of October.” He also exhorted the sick to participate in Mass and adoration of the Eucharist, “every first Thursday and every first Friday of the month, which are respectively dedicated to devotion to the Eucharist and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.”
“I would like to remind you that in praying for priests one can obtain special indulgences this year,” the archbishop added.
Looking ahead to April 2010, the Polish archbishop asked for their prayers for the pilgrimage of hospital chaplains that is being first in the French towns of Lourdes and Ars to mark the Pontifical Council's anniversary.
Archbishop Zimowski summed up his prayer requests by saying, To you, therefore, dear sick and suffering brothers and sisters, I entrust the Church which needs your prayers and sufferings, the person of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, and all the bishops and priests in the world, who strive every day for your sanctification. I ask from you a special prayer for priests who are sick and afflicted in their bodies who every day experience, like you, the weight of pain, together with the force of saving grace which comforts and heals the soul.”
The Polish prelate also urged the sick to pray for “the beatification and canonization of the Servant of God John Paul II” recommending that they offer a prayer for the needs of the Church, authored by the late Pontiff.
Tegucigalpa, Oct 13, 2009 (CNA) - Unknown assailants fired 14 shots at the Seminary of Our Lady of Suyapa in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on Sunday. Fortunately, there were no one was reported as injured in the drive-by shooting.
According to the local police spokesman, Orlin Cerrato, the police do not have any suspects and have only discovered that the shots were fired from a passing vehicle. Cerrato also confirmed that no one was injured in the attack.
Seminary officials have called for an investigation by the police. The building is equipped with several security cameras that will be reviewed by police for possible clues.
Meanwhile, the seminary is continuing its normal operations.
The Seminary of Our Lady of Suyapa was the site where Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga met with the secretary general of the Organization of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza, about the situation regarding deposed President Manuel Zelaya.
During his visit July 3 visit to Honduras, Insulza called for Zelaya to be reinstated.
Vatican City, Oct 13, 2009 (CNA) - The expert Italian gynecologist Elena Giachhi said last Friday at the Synod for Africa that natural family planning through the Billings Method “fosters conjugal love, family unity, respect for women and generous openness to welcoming life.”
During her remarks at synod hall in Vatican City, Giachhi said that the simplicity of the Billings Method makes it accessible to all couples, “regardless of their educational level, religion or socioeconomic state,” whether they are Catholic, Muslim, Hindu or profess any other creed.
Giachhi, who belongs to the Center for the Study of Natural Family Planning at the Sacred Heart University of Rome, explained to the assembly that, “Couples can manage their fertility in a natural way, both for obtaining as well as for avoiding pregnancies in all the situations of fertile life.”
This method, she said, also contributes to “promoting the family and responsible procreation in a way that respects life, love and conjugal fidelity; promoting the dignity of women; preventing abortion, avoiding the use of artificial fertilization and helping couples with fertility issues to obtain pregnancy in a way that respects ethical values; preventing sexually transmitted diseases; teaching young people mature sexuality that encompasses the spiritual, bodily and psychological dimensions.”
The Billings Method, Giachhi said, “helps to spread human and Christian values, contributing to our pastoral commitment and to evangelization.”
Portland, Maine, Oct 13, 2009 (CNA) - A new Maine television ad by opponents of a marriage restoration amendment has been criticized for using a self-identified Catholic mother to promote homosexual “marriage.” Catholicvoteaction.org says the ad is “lying” about the Catholic Church.
In an ad produced by the group Protect Maine Equality, Yolande Dumont of Lewiston is shown talking about her son, his homosexual partner and her grandson, who are also shown in the ad.
“I’ve been a Catholic all my life, my faith means a lot to me,” she tells viewers. “Marriage to me is a great institution that works and that’s what I want for my children too.”
The Chicago-based organization CatholicVoteAction.org characterized the ad as “shameless.”
The group’s president, Brian Burch, charged that homosexual groups have lost the battle to make the Catholic Church accept “skewed views” on human sexuality and marriage. However, he said, they are now making a “desperate and despicable attempt” to sway Catholics by pretending that the Catholic faith supports their agenda.
“Gay marriage groups have lost virtually every ballot question put before the people for a vote, including a major defeat in California last November,” Burch added. “They are no longer content to defend their radical beliefs on their own, and instead have stooped to lying about the Catholic Church and its teachings, proof that gay activists will stop at nothing to promote their agenda.”
He characterized the ad as suggesting that the Catholic Church does not support the traditionally recognized nature of marriage, calling it “disingenuous, dishonest, and an insult to the intelligence of Catholic voters in Maine.”
“Everybody knows the Catholic Church is opposed to counterfeit marriages,” Burch continued. “The Church defends marriage as a civic institution believing marriage and family to be the fundamental unit of society.”
Burch called on Protect Maine Equality to pull the ad from the airwaves and from YouTube.
This November’s Maine ballot will include Question 1, which would repeal the state legislature’s recent bill that would recognize registered homosexual unions as marriages.
Commenting just after the state legislature approved the recognition of same-sex “marriages” last May, Bishop of Portland Richard Malone said, “Same-sex marriage is a dangerous sociological experiment that I believe will have negative consequences for society as a whole.
“Children will be taught in schools that same-sex marriage and traditional marriage are simply different expressions of the same thing, and that the logical and consistent understanding that marriage and reproduction are intrinsically linked is no longer valid. These are profound changes that will reverberate throughout society with tragic consequences,” he warned.
Question 1 is backed by Stand for Marriage Maine, whose website is at http://www.standformarriagemaine.com.
Lima, Peru, Oct 13, 2009 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Lima, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, encouraged a greater defense of the right to life amidst threats such as abortion, which he said is not a “Catholic or a non-Catholic issue.” The Peruvian cardinal also denounced the manipulation of statistics in order to promote the practice.
During his Saturday radio program, the cardinal said, “The cultural world today is without direction, it doesn’t know whether it will legalize abortion, drugs and other things that go against humanity itself; that is, there is a lack of respect for God.”
“For this reason, the Church must help this and future generations to return to the respect of the creature for the Creator,” he said.
Cardinal Cipriani recalled the words of Benedict XVI, who said that “charity or love that is empty of truth becomes a sentimentalism in which we arbitrarily insert contents. For this reason, today we are being filled with massive sentimentalism, in order to sneak in abortion.”
Referring to the current debate in the Peruvian Congress about abortion and euthanasia, the cardinal said he hopes lawmakers will correct their mistakes and address the issue not as a Catholic or non-Catholic one but as a question of human life.
He went onto denounce the misuse of statistics and those who advocate for abortion by saying, “more than half of all marriages end in divorce, that there are thousands of clandestine abortions and thousands of children roaming the streets.”
“I think all of this is a lie, that is, there is a statistic that’s supposed to make us think that marriage is useless, that children are a problem, that all women are unfaithful, and that men are shameless,” the cardinal stressed.
Rome, Italy, Oct 13, 2009 (CNA) - At the conclusion of the first Catholic Social Days for Europe, held in Danzika, Poland, participants released a final statement underscoring the need to defend human life and the family, to fight against poverty in solidarity with the rest of the world and to work for building peace and justice in Europe.
The conference, which was supported by the European bishops, addressed the issues of economic solidarity and the importance of democracy in its final message, urging respect for “the inalienable dignity of human life, from conception to natural death, as well as for the lives of “foreigners who knock on our door and the lives of future generations.”
“Solidarity is our common future,” the statement said. “European unity was the dream of some and has become the hope of many. Today our duty is to ensure we continue in the service of global solidarity,” especially with Africa.
After underscoring the urgency of promoting and protecting the family based on marriage between one man and one woman, the statement recalled the need to “implement a common European policy on immigration and asylum, recognizing the human dignity of all migrants.”
The statement also insisted that more effective measures be taken “to reduce poverty and social exclusion.” On a similar note, the participants endorsed promoting a policy for regulating the financial markets in the European Union and supporting international governance facilities.
Europe “needs men and women with open arms to welcome others in the name of Jesus Christ and to build together relationships and institutions of solidarity,” the declaration said.
London, England, Oct 13, 2009 (CNA) -
As many as 100,000 pilgrims are expected to visit Westminster Cathedral to view and venerate the relics of St. Therese of Lisieux during their month-long tour of England and Wales.
Agence France Presse reports that the cathedral has ordered 100,000 candles and 50,000 pink roses to meet the demand. The cathedral expects 2,000 pilgrims every hour until Thursday.
St. Therese became a Carmelite nun at the age of 15 and died in 1897 at the age of 24. Known as the “Little Flower of Jesus,” her autobiography “The Story of a Soul” attracted worldwide attention. She was canonized in 1925.
The saint’s relics, portions of her thigh and foot bones, are contained in a heavy jacaranda wood casket and are transported in a specially designed hearse. They arrived via the Eurotunnel on September 15 and have visited cathedrals, convents and the Wormwood Scrubs prison in London.
Eight people, including a filmmaker and a vowed religious, have accompanied her relics around England and Wales, according to the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
On Monday her relics were blessed on the steps of Westminster Cathedral by John Arnold, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster.
According to the AFP, Westminster Cathedral administrator Canon Christopher Tuckwell called St. Therese “a great inspiration to us all.” He hoped that her relics’ visit will deepen faith and renew peoples’ commitment to the Church.
The relics will be available for veneration around the clock until they leave the cathedral at 4:30 pm on Thursday.
Pope Benedict XVI has granted a plenary indulgence to the faithful who devoutly visit the cathedral on pilgrimage for the relics. They must fulfill the usual conditions of an indulgence: sacramental confession, the reception of Holy Communion and prayers for the Holy Father’s intentions. They must also conclude their prayers with the Our Father, the Creed, and invocations to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Therese.
The Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols discussed St. Therese in his first pastoral letter since his appointment to Westminster, the head Catholic see in England.
He said the saint teaches us that prayer can truly be part of our daily routine and “knitted into the regular tasks of the day.
“Through her own prayer she came to understand that her vocation was to love,” the archbishop explained.
Archbishop Nichols wrote that many people in the presence of the saint’s relics find their faith is strengthened and their prayer is deepened.
He “most earnestly” encouraged the faithful to visit her relics and he also noted the plenary indulgence. His letter quoted from St. Therese’s “The Story of a Soul,” in which she wrote: “I had discovered where it is that I belong in the Church, the niche God has appointed for me. To be nothing else than love, deep down in the heart of Mother Church.”
“Her direct, wholehearted love of the Lord has meant that the hidden life of St Therese has become a gift to people all over the world,” Archbishop Nichols wrote. “Everyone who seeks to know God in their own heart can draw inspiration from her example. True love such as hers is always creative.”
The relics of St. Therese have toured 46 countries since 1997.