CNA STAFF, Nov 8, 2009 (CNA) - On November 13, the universal Church will honor St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, an Italian missionary who spent much of her life working with Italian immigrants in the United States. Mother Cabrini, who had a deathly fear of water and drowning, crossed the Atlantic Ocean more than 30 times in service of the Church and the people she was serving.
St. Frances Cabrini longed to be a missionary to China, but God had other plans for her. Orphaned in Italy before she was 18, she joined the Sisters of the Sacred Heart and took on the name “Xavier” in honor of St. Francis Xavier, the great missionary to the Orient.
At the advice of Pope Leo XIII who told her, “Not to the East, but to the West” she focused her missionary efforts on the United States. Accepting Archbishop Corrigan of New York's invitation, she came to America and spent nearly 30 years traveling back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean as well as around the United States setting up orphanages, hospitals, convents, and schools for the often marginalized Italian immigrants.
Eventually, St. Frances became a naturalized U.S. citizen. She died in 1917 and was canonized in 1946, just before a new wave of immigrants began to arrive in the U.S.
St. Frances Cabrini is the patron of immigrants.
Phoenix, Ariz., Nov 8, 2009 (CNA) - From its humble beginnings in the church of St. Francis Xavier in Phoenix, Rosary Sunday has grown into an annual event that draws more than 5,000 people in devotion to Mary. Last month, Catholics in the diocese marked the 34th year the faithful throughout the state gathered for adoration, confession, benediction and the recitation of the rosary.
Under her title, “Immaculate Heart of Mary,” and in honor of the Year for Priests, families and individuals entered the Phoenix Convention Center representing a multitude of ethnic communities and organizations.
Rudy and Barbara Martinez drove 240 miles one-way from Cameron, Ariz. to participate in the public prayer honoring the Blessed Mother.
“We come because we want to show her our love and gratitude,” Barbara said. This is the fifth year the couple has made the journey from the Navajo Indian Reservation in Northern Arizona. “It’s important for us to be here together in honor of Our Lady.”
The strong devotion to the mother of Jesus gave impetus to the Phoenix Diocese embracing an event that has attracted national attention.
Dorothy Westfall, the event’s coordinator and a Legion of Mary member, fields calls from other dioceses around the country each year on how to develop advisory committees in hopes of starting a Rosary Sunday.
“People come because they see this as an opportunity for grace,” Westfall said. “Not only for themselves, but for their family, the country and the world.”
The spirit, beauty and reverence of the afternoon was not lost on the keynote speaker.
“I am very impressed. We need one of these in the Rockford Diocese,” said Fr. James Parker. “When we pray those beads, we touch the heart of the Mother of God and simultaneously touch the heart of God.”
The Illinois priest used imagery and stories to emphasize Mary’s love, concern and protection of the faithful.
“When we pray the rosary, she wraps us in her mantle,” Fr. Parker said. “When we are close to her, we are able to maintain a peace of heart.”
The event proved to be an uplifting and spiritual opportunity for many families to pass the torch of faith and tradition on to their children.
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted’s very presence got the crowd to their feet, but it was his words of encouragement that rang true with many.
In his opening address, the bishop said Mary will help each person as they join with Christ by offering daily sacrifices.
John and Anita Usher of St. Mary Parish in Chandler brought their eight children to their fourth Rosary Sunday.
The home-schooling troupe was joyful to be among a “community of like believers,” despite having recently lost a job and their home.
“We feel so welcomed and so blessed to honor Mary this way,” Anita said. “When you have God, what else do you need?”
The festivities are a visual and auditory array of music, singing, dancing and drumming, but nothing holds a candle to the silence that befalls 5,000 people, many on bended knee, during the benediction.
For Westfall, Rosary Sunday is about Catholic tradition. She was only eight when she attended her first rosary event in downtown Phoenix, which was also sponsored by the Knights of Columbus.
Those early years have given way to a $50,000 production that needs hundreds of volunteers and sponsors.
With barely a breath taken from the moment Rosary Sunday ends, planning for next year begins.
“Each year we are blessed to have so many hands involved in this process,” Westfall said. “They come out of the woodwork to make sure it’s successful.”
Sam Marshall began praying the rosary after he was inspired by a group of women in Santa Fe, NM, more than a decade ago.
“More men need to pray the rosary, but they think it’s something women do,” he said. “We all want more, inside, than we realize. We just have all this worldly stuff that gets in the way.”
Printed with permission from the Catholic Sun, newspaper for the Diocese of Phoenix.
Pensacola, Fla., Nov 8, 2009 (CNA) - An abortion facility in Pensacola, Florida has announced that it will close, bringing joy to participants in the three 40 Days for Life prayer vigils at the site. One pro-life organizer said the closing was “an answer to prayer.”
The Community Healthcare Center, which was dually licensed as an abortion clinic and as a clinical laboratory, faced a $413,000 fine after the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) found its lab license had been expired for 413 days. The clinic was fined $1,000 for each day it was unlicensed, the Pensacola News Journal reports.
Instead of paying the fine, the abortion clinic decided to shut down, AHCA press secretary Tiffany Vause reported.
State officials had offered a reduced fine as part of a settlement agreement, but never received a response.
"As of October 30, 2009, The Community Health Center of Pensacola will be terminating its practice,” a notice published in the local newspaper read.
"There had been an abortion clinic in that location for 25 years," commented David Bereit, national director of 40 Days for Life. "People have prayed there that abortions would cease, and it was during the fall 40 Days for Life campaign -- the peaceful, prayerful presence of faithful Christians -- that it was finally announced that this facility, where untold numbers of unborn children perished, was closing. That is not just a coincidence. God works in mysterious ways, and this is indeed an answer to prayer!"
The 40 Days for Life campaign claims that the Pensacola clinic is the fifth abortion facility that has closed after being the site of a vigil organized by the campaign.
Bereit adds that 571 lives are known to have been “spared from abortion” in the fall campaign.
“There have been eight abortion industry employees who have left their jobs. And two abortion centers have announced their closings. It's been a most eventful 40 days."
The other announced clinic closure was a Planned Parenthood clinic in Kalispell, Montana, which had been the site of a 40 Days for Life vigil last spring.
One director of a Planned Parenthood clinic, Abby Johnson, was among the employees who quit their jobs. She cited a change of heart after observing an ultrasound of an abortion.
The Pensacola News Journal reports that there are 71 abortion clinics licensed in Florida. The closure of the Community Healthcare Center leaves AMS of Pensacola as the only abortion clinic in Escambia County.
The website for the 40 Days for Life campaign is at http://www.40daysforlife.com.
Dallas, Texas, Nov 8, 2009 (CNA) - An abortionist who says he know he is “killing” has opened a late-term abortion clinic in North Texas, prompting local pro-lifers to express their dismay that such a clinic was absent for only 14 months. However, they also affirmed their resolve to peacefully end the “grave evil” in their community.
Dr. Curtis Boyd, who opened the first abortion clinic in Texas in 1973, is the only doctor in North Texas who will perform abortions on women up to six months pregnant.
"We see patients from Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and across Texas," he said, according to WFAA TV.
"Am I killing?" Boyd said. "Yes, I am. I know that."
Boyd reported that he was ordained a Baptist minister and is now Unitarian. He said he prays often.
"I'll ask that the spirit of this pregnancy be returned to God with love and understanding," he said.
A group called the Catholic Pro-Life Committee gathers outside his office to try to persuade women away from abortion.
"Well, we're certainly disappointed to hear any unborn child will be killed by abortion,” said Karen Garnett of the Catholic Pro-Life Committee. “But, to hear it's a late-term abortion in Dallas, once again, it's particularly devastating."
Boyd opened the Southwestern Women’s Surgery Center last week. By law, he must have a surgery center in order to abort an unborn child more than 16 weeks after conception.
He told WFAA TV that he has been troubled because of the torment he says drives patients to seek his services.
"The hardest ones are the young girls," he said, reporting that girls as young as nine and ten have come to his clinic.
Boyd, a close friend of the murdered Kansas late-term abortionist Dr. George Tiller, also received death threats.
"I don't want the fate that befell Dr. Tiller, but I'm not going to be deterred because what I'm doing is important," he told WFAA, saying that he takes numerous security precautions.
In an Oct. 28 statement Karen Garnett expressed the Catholic Pro-Life Committee’s “deep disappointment” that a late-term abortion facility would again be operating in Dallas. She reported the last late-term abortion clinic had closed 14 months previously.
She explained that Boyd’s new clinic is registered as an ambulatory surgical center and “equipped to kill innocent unborn children through 24 weeks gestation.”
“God, have mercy on us,” she prayed.
Garnett reported that there are five total “killing centers” in Dallas.
“We will continue to pray and work, peacefully and legally, for Dallas to be free of these five terrible ‘wounds in our city,’ where the innocent blood of more than 11,000 unborn children is shed each year.”
Professing her group’s commitment to an “abortion-free Dallas,” she explained that the new facility will not provide access for sidewalk counselors to speak with mothers arriving for abortions. Counselors at other clinics have helped save “thousands of lives” over the past 12 years, Garnett reported.
She said the Catholic Pro-Life Committee will work with churches, businesses and residents of the area to try to save the unborn and to offer “help and hope” to their mothers.
“We are calling on people of faith from all over Dallas and the surrounding suburbs to join with us in a renewed, massive prayer and public witness effort against this grave evil in our community,” she added, asking for prayers for Dr. Boyd, his wife, all his clinic staff, and those at other Dallas abortion facilities.
Claiming that the average age of abortionists in America is 72, she added a prayer that younger doctors continue to avoid the abortion industry.
“Deliver us, Lord, from the evil of abortion,” her statement concluded.
Washington D.C., Nov 8, 2009 (CNA) - This morning, top pro-life organizations across the U.S. praised the inclusion of strong pro-life provisions on the health care bill via the Stupak-Pitts amendment, but warned that Obama’s health care project still poses significant threats to life and family issues, especially in the version discussed in the Senate.
The Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which was given the opportunity to be taken to a vote after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi realized she did not have sufficient votes to pass the bill, removed two major pro-abortion components from H.R. 3962: The prohibition of the "public option" from paying for abortion, except to save the life of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest; and by permanently prohibiting the use of the new federal premium subsidies to purchase private insurance plans that cover abortion.
The Stupak-Pitts Amendment passed by a margin of 240-194, while the health care bill passed later on Saturday night by 220-215.
The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) Legislative Director Douglas Johnson said that "the Obama White House and top congressional Democratic leaders spent months concealing and misrepresenting provisions that would directly fund abortions through a government plan, and subsidize premiums for private abortion plans. Today's bipartisan House vote is a sharp blow to the White House's pro-abortion smuggling operation."
Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said on Saturday that, "the House of Representatives made a principled and politically sound decision to continue our nation's longstanding policy of protecting taxpayers' conscience in the area of abortion funding. We urge the Senate to follow suit."
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins described the amendment's passage as "a huge pro-life victory for women, their unborn children, and families. We applaud this House vote which prohibits the abortion industry from further profiting from taxpayers by using government funds to pay for the gruesome act of abortion. I congratulate the bipartisan coalition that for months has worked to ensure that abortion is not covered in the bill."
Operation Rescue President Troy Newman also said on Sunday that "the voices of 71% of the American people who oppose taxpayer funded abortions were heard loud and clear. We thank each one who took the time to raise their voices in opposition to the Obama-Pelosi- Carhart effort to force taxpayers to fund the shedding of innocent blood through abortion."
While Dr. Charmaine Yoest, President and CEO of Americans United for Life said: "the passage of this amendment is a victory for the pro-life Americans across this country who have flooded Congress this week with the message that abortion does not belong in health care. The bipartisan effort that led to its passage, under the leadership of Congressmen Bart Stupak and Joe Pitts, is a step toward a future where both political parties defend Life."
Nevertheless, the pro-life organizations highlighted that the threats against the right to life still exist.
In fact, NRLC's leadership warned that "the White House and pro- abortion congressional Democratic leaders will keep trying to enact government funding of abortion, and will keep trying to conceal their true intentions, so there is a long battle ahead."
"We will remain vigilant, and shift our efforts to the Senate to ensure that these same pro-life protections are added to the Senate bill, said the Susan B. Anthony List.
FRC's Perkins also warned that: "unfortunately, H.R. 3962 is a seriously flawed piece of legislation. The Speaker's bill still allows rationing of health care for seniors, raises health costs for families, mandates that families purchase under threat of fines and penalties, encourages counseling for assisted suicide in some states, does not offer broad conscience protections for health care workers and seeks to insert the federal government into all aspects of citizen's lives. Speaker Pelosi is using the guise of health care reform to push her version of social engineering onto American taxpayers. Additionally, the legislation would place a crushing debt on both current and future generations."
Concerned Women of America said that "the bill still contains objectionable provisions that will ration and deny health care and pay for coercive 'end of life planning'."
"There is still a long way to go to prevent government subsidized health care from paying for abortions. Now the ball is in the Senate's court, and we pray that the common sense displayed in the House on the matter of abortion funding will also prevail in the Senate," Operation Rescue's statement said.
Dr. Yoest warned too that "one victory however does not mean the battle is won."
"We are deeply concerned by the rhetoric we heard today from Democratic leadership indicating an intention to subvert the bipartisan pro-life majority. We will remain vigilant in watching the final language of the Senate bill to ensure that pro-life protections remain in the final health care reform bill."
The only dissenting voice came from the pro-Obama "Catholics United," whose executive director, Chris Korzen said that "the bishops' stamp of approval means that this bill is unambiguously pro-life, and we will vigorously oppose those who suggest otherwise."
However, a staff member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) currently working on the Hill to prevent health care from including an abortion mandate, quickly dismissed Korzen's claim.
Speaking for background to CNA, the USCCB staff member said that "there is stamp no of approval from the bishops whatsoever. Someone here has been either extremely naive or extremely partisan."
The bill will now be debated and voted upon in the Senate.
Vatican City, Nov 8, 2009 (CNA) - Speaking before Sunday’s Angelus in the city of Brescia, Italy, the Holy Father recalled Paul VI’s strong devotion to the Blessed Mother. "As his ecclesial responsibilities increased he in fact developed an ever wider vision and organic relationship with the Blessed Virgin Mary and the mystery of the Church," noted Pope Benedict.
The Pontiff continued, recalling the promulgation of "Lumen Gentium." "In the words of Paul VI it 'has as its summit and crowning a whole chapter devoted to the Virgin’." In that context, Pope Paul "proclaimed the Blessed Virgin Mary 'Mother of the Church,' pointing out, with great ecumenical sensitivity, that 'devotion to Mary...is an ordained means of guiding souls to Christ and thus join them with the Father, in the love of the Holy Spirit’."
Finally the Holy Father prayed with words of Paul VI: "O Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, to you we entrust the Church of Brescia and all the people of this region."
Vatican City, Nov 8, 2009 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Sunday Mass for the 15,000 people squeezed into Brescia, Italy’s Paul VI Square. The Holy Father recalled the Gospel of the widow’s contribution and underlined the necessity of the Church’s role in the Salvation of humanity.
Benedict XVI began by reflecting upon the day’s Gospel of the widow’s contribution, highlighting the location in which the scene took place, the Temple of Jerusalem and religious center of the people of Israel. "Jesus demonstrates his affection for the Temple as a house of prayers, but also his desire to reveal its most profound significance, tied to the Mystery of His death and resurrection, in which He himself becomes the new and definitive Temple, the meeting place of God and man, Creator and His creature."
As he did to the disciples of that time, the Holy Father added, Jesus tells Christians today to note the gesture of the very poor widow who gives two small coins to the treasury of the Temple: "This, in fact, explains the fundamental characteristic of the ‘living stones’ of this new Temple, that is the complete gift of self to the Lord and to one’s neighbor."
"The Church," he continued, "is a concrete, spiritual organism that prolongs in space and time the oblation of the Son of God, a sacrifice apparently insignificant in respect to the dimensions of the world and history, but decisive to the eyes of God…The Church, which is constantly given life by the Eucharist, by the self gift of Jesus, is the continuation of the sacrifice of Jesus, of the overabundance that reveals itself in the poverty."
Rendering homage to the Servant of God Paul VI, 30 years after his death, the Pontiff said that the Church’s encounter and dialogue with humanity today were particularly important to the late Pontiff, from the first years of his priesthood to his Pontificate. Pope Benedict explained, "Encountering the Church, contemporary man can encounter Him, Christ, because man has absolute need of Christ."
Benedict XVI concluded by praying that divine beauty be present in every community and that the Church be a luminous sign of hope for the humanity of the third millennium: "May this grace be obtained for us by Mary, whom Paul VI proclaimed, at the end of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Mother of the Church."
Washington D.C., Nov 8, 2009 (CNA) -Prior to yesterday’s House vote on health care reform, Representative Chris Smith, (R-N.J.), addressed members of Congress saying, “if we truly want to reduce abortion in America, don’t fund it!”
In his remarks, the congressmen spoke about abortion’s impact on women. “Abortion not only kills a child, it harms women physically and psychologically and risks significant harm to subsequent children,” he stated. “The mental health of women is damaged, sometimes irreparably, by abortion.”
Rep. Smith then referred to the Times of London who reported that “senior obstetricians and psychiatrists say that new evidence has uncovered a clear link between abortion and mental illness in women with no previous history of psychological problems.”
Another study from New Zealand showed that 78% of 15-18 year olds who had abortions faced depression compared with 31% of their peers.
Smith continued, “Numerous studies also show that the risk of pre-term birth of children to women who have previously procured an abortion increases with the number of previous abortions. One abortion increases the risk 35%; two or more abortions increase the risk by a staggering 93%. Prematurity is a leading cause of death and disability in children.”
“If we truly want to reduce abortion in America, don’t fund it!”
The congressmen then cited the Guttmacher Institute, formerly the research arm of Planned Parenthood who notes “that prohibiting federal funds for abortion reduces abortion by 25 percent.”
“Millions of Americans are alive today because public funding did not facilitate their deaths. Millions more will be alive tomorrow if the Stupak/ Pitts amendment is adopted to this bill,” he concluded.
Washington D.C., Nov 8, 2009 (CNA) - Recalling the tragedy last week in which one man opened fire on his fellow soldiers at Ft. Hood in Texas, the Archbishop of Military Services, Timothy P. Broglio, issued a statement of prayer for all involved in the shooting.
Causes for the shooting have not yet been established, but the shooter Maj. Malik Nadal Hasan is currently on a ventilator in stable condition following a shootout with the police.
Archbishop Broglio commended the two Ft. Hood chaplains, Fathers Edward McCabe and Raphael Eke, and said he was “grateful for their service” and that he prays “that the consolation they have so generously offered might also touch their wounded hearts and replenish their sapped strength.”
The Archbishop’s message of consolation also bears witness to the importance of creating a society of peace and understanding. “We cannot allow violence to engender more violence.” It is everyone’s task to establish a different tone in the world from our daily interactions with families and coworkers to the international level.
Noting “the shadow of death and suffering has struck the innocent who were at the service of our country,” Archbishop Broglio also remembered the perpetrators of the crime, saying, “may the Almighty and Merciful Lord look upon them with clemency.”