Baton Rouge, La., Oct 29, 2009 (CNA) - Health care is a basic right and its proposed reform must provide access for all while also excluding abortion funding and protecting the consciences of health care providers, a Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops statement says.
In its Oct. 26 statement, the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops (LCCB) noted that Pope John XXIII’s encyclical Pacem in Terris taught of “universal and inviolable” rights that include the right to medical care and to be looked after in times of ill health. There is also an “apostolic duty” to heal the sick while proclaiming the Gospel, they said.
“For centuries, Catholic hospitals have served and ministered to the sick and the dying. Other Catholic institutions have welcomed and served the elderly, handicapped, expectant mothers, newborns, and others with physical, emotional or spiritual needs,” the Louisiana bishops wrote. “This is an important expression of our respect for the innate dignity that lies within every human being, regardless of race, nationality, religion, political opinion, or social class.”
This respect for life, the LCCB said, motivates Catholics to ask Congress to support reforms that exclude public health care funds for abortion, prohibit any form of euthanasia, protect conscience rights for health care professionals and institutions, and respect the right of a physician and a patient to decide on healing treatment without interference.
The bishops appealed for a plan that provides “basic affordable medical care for all,” including legal immigrants, while protecting the role of personal and private entities in health care.
The LCCB also invited Catholics to pray that God will enlighten all legislators so that they know what is good for society and those in need.
Glasgow, United Kingdom, Oct 29, 2009 (CNA) - The Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow Mario Conti has commented on the Vatican’s recently announced proposal to welcome Anglican communities into full communion with the Catholic Church. Noting that the faith of individual believers is also important, he said he has long thought such an offer would be “a way forward” for some Anglicans.
“Those seeking full communion with the Catholic Church will find support in the company of others making the same journey and the Holy Father is providing the opportunity for that community of persons to enter together,” Archbishop Conti said in a statement.
“This new opportunity for groups to enter the Catholic Church which the Holy Father foresees will require also that the Church be satisfied that the individuals within that community have a genuine desire to embrace the fullness of the Catholic faith,”
The archbishop also voiced his appreciation for the position of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, of which he is a member. The Council said that it must not be forgotten that the faith of the believer is “salient” in any group of the faithful.
Dublin, Ireland, Oct 29, 2009 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Tuam has responded to an alleged visionary who predicted that another Marian apparition would take place at the Shrine of Knock, warning that recent gatherings inspired by his claims could obscure the “authentic identity” and “essential message” of the shrine.
The Shrine of Knock is at the site of an 1879 apparition where Mary, Joseph and St. John appeared to several laymen.
Joe Coleman of Dublin had predicted an apparition would take place on Oct. 11 at the Shrine of Knock church. He claimed the Virgin Mary said 50,000 would attend.
“I have seen her twice in recent months in the Gable chapel at Knock,” Coleman had told the Mayo News. “The statue comes alive, she opens her arms, a lovely pink cloak comes around her, there are stars above her head, she turned into Jesus, then to Padre Pio and then back to herself. While the vision is happening, I can see nothing else in the chapel.”
Coleman claimed he and several others had previously witnessed Marian apparitions. He also spoke of the great need for reconciliation and returning to churches.
According to BBC News, about 5,000 gathered at the shrine on Oct. 11. Some claimed to witness the sun shimmering and changing color.
Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary responded to Coleman’s alleged visions in an Oct. 26 statement.
He called the Shrine of Knock, which is in his archdiocese, a “much loved place of pilgrimage and prayer.” Its great gift, he wrote, consists in “prayer and the celebration of the sacraments, in penance and the conversion of life.”
The archbishop noted that Pope John Paul II had visited the shrine. The Pontiff had told how pilgrims have been healed, comforted and confirmed in their faith because they trusted that the Mother of God would lead them to her son Jesus.
“It is this trust in the Mother of God, this turning to her divine Son borne out in the practical care of the sick, and in the celebration of the sacraments of reconciliation, anointing and Eucharist that lie at the core of the Knock pilgrimage,” Archbishop Neary added.
“Such faith makes Knock pilgrims firm in hope and active in love for the sick and suffering. They do not expect visions or seek further apparitions. God has manifested Himself in Jesus Christ and His people have responded ever since.
“It is not healthy, does not give glory to God and certainly is not good witness to the faith to be looking for extraordinary phenomena,” the Irish archbishop said.
He said that the original apparition at Knock wasn’t sought for or expected by the “humble, honest people who were its astonished witnesses.”
“Their faith reveals the patience and humility that characterizes true belief.”
“Unfortunately, recent events at the Shrine obscure this essential message. They risk misleading God’s people and undermining faith. For this reason such events are to be regretted rather than encouraged,” the Archbishop of Tuam’s message concluded, saying that the Shrine will be best served by retaining its “authentic identity.”
Vatican City, Oct 29, 2009 (CNA) - The Office of Papal Liturgical Celebrations announced today the list of events that the Pope will preside over from November through January 2010. Highlights of the celebrations include the Christmas Midnight Mass, the Urbi et Orbi blessing and the baptism of children.
The full list of celebrations is as follows:
- Saturday 28. At 5 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, celebration of first Vespers for the First Sunday of Advent.
- Tuesday 8. Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. At 4 p.m. in Piazza di Spagna, veneration of the Virgin.
- Thursday 24. Solemnity of the Lord's Nativity. At 10 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica the Pope will celebrate Midnight Mass.
- Friday 25. Solemnity of the Lord's Nativity. At 12 p.m. the Pope will impart the Urbi et Orbi blessing from the central balcony of the Vatican Basilica.
- Thursday 31. At 8 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica the Holy Father will preside over first Vespers in thanksgiving for the closing year.
- Friday 1. Solemnity of Holy Mary, Mother of God, and the 43rd World Day of Peace. At 10 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, celebration of Holy Mass.
-Wednesday 6. Solemnity of the Lord's Epiphany. At 10 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, celebration of Holy Mass.
- Sunday 10. Feast of the Lord's Baptism. At 10 p.m. in the Sistine Chapel, celebration of Holy Mass and baptism of children.
- Monday 25. Feast of the conversion of St. Paul the Apostle. At 5:30 p.m. in the Basilica of St. Paul without the Walls, celebration of Vespers.
Vatican City, Oct 29, 2009 (CNA) -
In a meeting today with Iran's new ambassador to the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI called on Iran to begin a new era of international cooperation and to guarantee religious freedom to Catholics in the country.
Noting that he has spoken on the importance of ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue before, the Pope emphasized that “the establishment of cordial relations between believers of different religions is an urgent need in our day, in order to build a world that is more human and that conforms more to God's plan of creation."
The Pope stressed that "Catholics have been present in Iran from the first centuries of Christianity and have always been an integral part of the nation's life and culture." He also called on the Iranian authorities to acknowledged the religious diversity of their nation and to “strengthen and guarantee Christians the freedom of professing their faith and of assuring the Catholic community conditions essential to its existence, especially the possibility of counting on sufficient religious personnel and their ability to move within the country to ensure religious service to the faithful.”
Iran, the Holy Father said, is “a great nation that possesses eminent spiritual traditions and its people have a profound religious sensibility... [which] can be reason to hope for a greater openness and confident collaboration with the international community.”
Given these roots, the Pope said he hopes for “a new phase of international cooperation, more concretely rooted in humanitarian principles and in the effective assistance of those who suffer, one less dependent on the cold calculation of exchange and technological or economic benefits.”
Pope Benedict also assured Iran that “the Holy See, by its nature and its mission, is directly interested in the life of the local churches and wishes to make all the necessary efforts to help the Catholic community in Iran keep alive the signs of Christian presence in a spirit of benevolent understanding with all.”
In a show of solidarity with the universal church in Iran, the Pope concluded his remarks by telling the Catholics in Iran that he is “near to them and prays that they persevere in maintaining their own identity and remaining rooted to their land, generously working with all their compatriots in the development of the nation.”
Vatican City, Oct 29, 2009 (CNA) -
Addressing the full Pontifical Council for Social Communications today, Benedict XVI urged its members to help communicate the teachings of the Church on the “digital continent” of the ever-changing technological landscape.
Reflecting on the role of social networking and increasingly real-time electronic communication, Pope Benedict XVI said on Thursday that "modern culture is established, even before its content, in the very fact of the existence of new forms of communication that use new languages; they use new technologies and create new psychological attitudes.”
"Effectively," he continued, the advent of new technology “supposes a challenge for the Church, which is called to announce the Gospel to persons in the third millennium, maintaining its content unaltered but making it understandable.”
Quoting John Paul II's encyclical "Redemptoris Missio" that affirms: "Involvement in the mass media, however, is not meant merely to strengthen the preaching of the Gospel. There is a deeper reality involved here: since the very evangelization of modern culture depends to a great extent on the influence of the media.”
“It is not enough to use the media simply to spread the Christian message and the Church's authentic teaching. It is also necessary to integrate that message into the 'new culture' created by modern communications," the Holy Father asserted.
Pope Benedict also emphasized the need to promote a culture of respect, a culture aware of the dignity of the human being. He charged those companies and individuals responsible for the development and promotion of new media as ones “capable of developing the gifts and talents of each and of putting them at the service of the human community."
"In this way the Church exercises that which can be defined as a ‘deaconate of culture’ on today's ‘digital continent,’ using its means to announce the Gospel, the only Word that can save the human being,” the Pope proclaimed.
The task of enriching the elements of the new culture of the media, beginning with their ethical aspects, falls to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. This Council must provide orientation and guidance in helping the particular churches understand the importance of communication, “which represents a key point that cannot be overlooked in any pastoral plan," the Pontiff explained.
Concluding, Pope Benedict recalled the 50th anniversary of the Vatican Film Archive founded by Blessed John XXIII, which possesses a "rich cultural patrimony pertaining to all humanity.” The archive must continue to collect and catalogue images "that document the path of Christianity through the suggestive witness of the image," he urged.
Lima, Peru, Oct 29, 2009 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Lima, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, reminded the Peruvian State this week of its duty to protect human life, “because the human person is the center of all of society.”
During a Mass celebrating the Solemnity of the Lord of Miracles, Cardinal Cipriani reaffirmed that all life “is sacred from the first moment of conception” and that no person is the result of chance, but rather “the fruit of a thought of God.” “Nobody has been born by chance,” he exclaimed, “each one of us is the result of God’s love.”
Amidst debate in Peru on the legalization of abortion in cases of rape and fetal deformation as well as the morning-after pill, the cardinal said that the Peruvian people are “noble” and that the unborn do not deserve to be in danger in the womb, which ought to be a place of “warmth, tenderness, care and love.”
Cardinal Cipriani urged Peruvians to draw close to the Lord and to leave behind the corruption and abuse of today’s society. “The Holy Father Benedict XVI reminds us—following the example of John Paul II—that he who allows Christ in loses nothing, nothing that makes life free and beautiful. A friendship with the Lord of Miracles opens the doors to life,” he said.
Orlando, Fla., Oct 29, 2009 (CNA) - The Fellowship of Catholic University Students, a college campus outreach program focused on bringing students to Christ through Bible studies and personal relationships, will host a national conference over the holidays in Orlando, Florida.
FOCUS hosts a national conference every two years, and past conferences have attracted in excess of 3,000 students. Featuring live music from acclaimed Christian recording artists, Eucharistic adoration,
breakout sessions, a comedian and a variety of speakers.
Students will have the opportunity to hear music by Matt Maher, a contributing artist for Life Teen, and Matthew West.
Conference attendees will also hear talks by Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel, CFR, founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal; Archbishop of Denver Charles Chaput; FOCUS founder Curtis Martin and three professors from the Denver-based Augustine Institute. Author and speaker Matthew Kelly, whose message of living God's will by becoming the best version of yourself was inspired by the Second Vatican Council's universal call to holiness, will also speak at the conference.
“As connected as we are to each other through technology, nothing can replace the profound power and sense of belonging that occurs when thousands of people physically gather to pray together, be inspired by each other and collectively grow closer to Jesus Christ,” said FOCUS founder Curtis Martin. “We encourage all students—from the most devout Catholics, to those still investigating matters of faith — to join us in Orlando this year for an event that will change lives.”
More information about the conference as well as registration forms can be found at the conference's website www.focusconference.org. Those unable to attend the conference are asked to pray for its success and to consider sponsoring a student who is unable to go for financial reasons.
La Paz, Bolivia, Oct 29, 2009 (CNA) - Archbishop Tito Solari of Cochabamba called on political candidates to respect the institution of the family and educate the country's youth.
Speaking with reporters the archbishop encouraged those running for office “to adopt a language that respects the family, educates young people, builds up life and also strengthens the country in unity, respect, fraternity and solidarity.”
He then reminded candidates that a country is built not on divisions, offenses and separation, but by listening to others so “together we can lift up the positive, what we dream for, what we desire for the country.”
Murfreesboro, Tenn., Oct 29, 2009 (CNA) - The organization Children of God for Life released a statement on Tuesday blasting the pharmaceutical company Neocutis for using cells harvested from an aborted fetus in the development of anti-aging creams. The pro-life group is calling for a boycott of the company's products.
Debi Vinnedge, the executive director of Children of God for Life, lambasted the company for their disregard for life, saying, "It is absolutely deplorable that Neocutis would resort to exploiting the remains of a deliberately slaughtered baby for nothing other than pure vanity and financial gain. There is simply no moral justification for this."
The “Processed Skin Proteins" (PSPs) being used in Neocutis' burn and wound treatments were taken from a electively-aborted 14-week-old male fetus donated by the University Hospital of Lausanne in Switzerland.
The baby boy's cells were used to create a working cell bank by multiplying them in lab cultures until they numbered in the hundreds of millions.
According to information available about the process on the Neocutis website, "the skin sample was taken at the period of scarless wound healing in compliance with legal and ethical rules of the University Hospital of Lausanne (Switzerland)."
In a medical paper published by the same hospital in 2006, researchers supported the employment of fetal cells in the establishment of cell banks after observing that "fetal cells have the capacity of extraordinary expansion," where "from one organ donation it is possible to produce several hundred million fetal skin constructs."
The paper further explains that fetal cells "are very resistant against physical and oxidative stress when compared to adult skin cells under the same culture conditions," which makes them a good source for exploitation and a replacement for other, albeit less controversial, means of producing PSPs.
This fetal cell bank was "originally established for wound healing and burn treatments," the hospital said.
However, an additional destination for these fetal cells has been the development of anti-aging cosmetic creams.
"There is absolutely no reason to use aborted babies for such selfish motives," Vinnedge stated. "It is anti-life, anti-woman and counter-productive as Neocutis is about to find out!"
Vinnedge warned that there would be repercussions for Neocutis, "We know there are companies using moral sources for collagen and skin proteins. We intend to publicly promote these other cosmetic companies competing with Neocutis that are willing to step forward and contact us." She pledged that competing companies willing to verify in writing that their products are "morally produced" would gain the Children of God for Life´s endorsement.
She also invited immediate response from individual clients, imploring "women who are using Neocutis products to throw them in the garbage and to contact the company to express their concerns."
CNA was unable to reach anyone at Neocutis for comment on their use of fetal cells.
Washington D.C., Oct 29, 2009 (CNA) - Democrats for Life of America claims to have 40 congressmen who will vote against the House health care reform legislation if taxpayer funded abortion language is not removed from the bill, the organization announced on Thursday.
The 40 vote coalition concerns the refusal of the House leadership to include language that would prevent abortions from being paid for in any new health care reform scheme. If Hyde Amendment-type language were inserted into the bill, Democrats for Life of America (DFLA) says, taxpayer funded abortions in appropriations bills would be prevented.
Several attempts to insert such language have been unsuccessful in committee.
"I want to be clear, pro-life Democrats want to help pass health care reform but our coalition can in no- way support reform that includes tax payer funded abortions. If the leadership will remove that language, we feel confident that we can deliver enough votes to help put this much needed reform over the top in the House," Kristen Day, DFLA Executive Director, said in a statement.
“We believe in a big-tent Democratic Party, but to not allow Hyde language to be included in health care reform would force some pro-choice and pro-life Democrats to vote against health care reform. If we add this language, we believe we can help Speaker Pelosi get the votes to pass this legislation.”