Ann Arbor, Mich., Mar 9, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -
In February, the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist made an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Since then, almost all the feedback the sisters have received has been overwhelmingly positive the sister's mission director told CNA/EWTN.
During their appearance, the sisters fielded questions regarding their vocation and discernment, their vows of poverty and chastity, and their life in community. “I think the main excitement for the sisters comes from the fact that we are glad to have had the chance to tell our story in such a positive, balanced manner to such a large audience,” Sister Maria Guadalupe Hallee, Director of Mission Advancement for the sisters, told CNA/EWTN.
“One of the sisters here put it really well when she said that the focus of the show really seemed to about ‘who we are’ rather than ‘what we do,’” she added. “We are really pleased with this, because although it seems like a very small distinction, it’s really quite important.”
On the show, “many of the sisters spoke about experiencing a desire for something more, and I would say that it is our identity as religious (brides of Christ, which Oprah found so fascinating) that fulfills us more than our activity – again, the primacy of ‘being’ over ‘doing,’” Sister Maria Guadalupe explained.
Since the show aired, the sisters have received positive feedback from all sides. Sister Maria Guadalupe reported that while traveling by plane, a flight attendant asked her if she had seen the “nuns” on Oprah. The question presented an opportunity for a lengthy conversation which proved edifying for those around them as well. She said that other sisters have also been approached about the show in gas stations, grocery stores, or on campus.
After the show, the number of young women registered for the sisters' February discernment retreat jumped from 70 to 135. The community has also received many emails from new and old supporters, both before and after the show, sharing their excitement. “Probably our favorite feedback, though, comes in the form of stories we’ve heard, both directly and indirectly, from individuals who have been away from the practice of their Catholic faith, but were encouraged by the joy of our sisters to consider returning to the faith,” explained Sister Maria Guadalupe. “These potential conversions are very precious to us, and we continue to pray for all who have encountered us through this show.”
In the end, “we could not have asked for anything better!” exclaimed the joyful Dominican.
For more information about the sisters, visit: http://www.sistersofmary.org/
Boston, Mass., Mar 9, 2010 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Boston has launched its 2010 Catholic Appeal, with recent figures indicating significant financial recovery since Cardinal Seán O'Malley took over the leadership of the archdiocese in 2003.
“The Archdiocese is blessed by the continued generosity of our parishioners and friends,” Cardinal Seán O’Malley, the Archbishop of Boston, commented. “In a particular way the priests, deacons, religious and lay members of our parishes are able to build up communities of faith and service because of the contributions in support of the Annual Appeal.”
Monetary contributions to the Catholic Appeal have increased nearly 75 percent, $6.3 million, since 2002. That year, reports about the archdiocese’s treatment of priests accused of sexual abuse sparked great controversy that led to the resignation of the cardinal’s predecessor, Cardinal Bernard Law.
Since Cardinal O’Malley’s 2003 installation, monetary contributions to the Catholic Appeal have increased by 44 percent.
Cardinal O’Malley launched the 2010 Appeal, themed “Called to Love and Share,” in the Flatley Room of the archdiocese’s Pastoral Center.
The cardinal in his homily for the weekend discussed Christian charity.
“All that we have and all that we are is a gift. When we give to help others, we are acknowledging that we are not absolute owners of our possessions, but administrators of the goods God has entrusted to us. Scripture teaches us that there is more joy in giving than in receiving. When we do things out of love, we express the truth of our being.”
He added that we have been created “not for ourselves, but for God and our brothers and sisters.”
Scot Landry, the archdiocese's secretary for institutional advancement, said that the Appeal is the “main source of funding” for the archdiocese’s central ministries.
“In many ways, the Catholic Appeal is to our Archdiocese what the offertory collection is to our parishes or what an Annual Fund is to universities,” he explained. “Through the Catholic Appeal, Catholics in our 291 parishes come together as one Church to pass on our faith, care for those in need, and gather to pray and worship together.”
The Catholic Appeal provides 74 percent of the resources for the archdiocese’s Central Operating Fund, which supports over 50 ministries, programs and offices in the archdiocese. Almost half of the gifts support specialized services to parishes, while almost 23 percent fund education, formation and evangelization efforts.
Slightly over ten percent of the Appeal supports general and operational services of the archdiocese, while 8.2 percent supports the mailings, materials and management of the Appeal itself.
“To everyone who has supported the Church’s works of mercy and evangelization I express my sincere gratitude.” Cardinal O’Malley continued. “Today, I ask all Catholics to be generous in contributing to the 2010 Catholic Appeal. Every gift matters. Working together in the name of the Church we can go forward to build a civilization of love.”
Rome, Italy, Mar 9, 2010 (CNA) - Archbishop of Hanoi Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet arrived in Rome on March 5 for medical treatment for chronic insomnia and stress.
The archbishop had been on medical leave at a monastery in Chau Son in Ninh Binh province since the beginning of January, VietCatholic News reports. He was invited to Rome by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Council of Cor Unum.
Upon his early morning arrival in Rome he was greeted by a group of Vietnamese clergy and religious men and women who were working in Rome.
His medical problems have been attributed to the pressure of his pastoral duties in his archdiocese, one of the largest in Vietnam.
The archbishop was overwhelmed by the scores of well-wishers who visited him in Vietnam to express their love and support.
According to VietCatholic News, Archbishop Joseph Kiet helped transform Lang Song diocese from “ruins” into “a viable, engaging Christian community” during his time as bishop there.
“His endless effort has left a long lasting impression on the minds of Lang Son faithful, and they came to Hanoi along with their new bishop just to tell him how much he means to them,” VietCatholic News reports, adding that Hanoi faithful felt similarly.
During devastating Hanoi floods two years ago, victims witnessed the archbishop with his pants rolled above his knees, walking with a cane to those affected to console them and to deliver emergency supplies.
Reports of the archbishop’s departure from his Hanoi office prompted speculation the defender of religious freedom had been removed in response to the communist government’s demands. Archbishop Joseph Kiet dismissed the rumors and urged Catholics to trust in God.
“If God's willing, he will bless me with good health so I can return to serve you all. As for how long will the treatment be, let’s leave it to the clinic and the doctors to decide,” he said.
Before his departure for Rome, a delegation from North Vietnam’s Diocese of Vinh had visited the prelate. He told them that as priests “we have no one else to fear but God. So if that is what God wants, we will serve in faith, not in fear.”
He urged his congregation to keep speaking “in truth and solidarity” by living “in communion with others among our Church.”
“Anything you do, entrust your faith in God, relying on his blessing and his power to obtain lasting peace. Your prayers and solidarity are the weapons of our Church."
Cardinals from various pontifical congregations have also delivered their good wishes to the archbishop, expressing hope for his quick recovery.
Archbishop Joseph Kiet underwent a preliminary physical exam by Vatican doctors the day of his arrival and is now awaiting admission to a clinic.
New York City, N.Y., Mar 9, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Some United Nations’ programs dedicated to advancing gender equality are becoming “increasingly ideologically driven” and a hindrance to women’s genuine advancement, says Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the apostolic nuncio leading the Holy See’s permanent observer mission to the United Nations.
In a Monday speech at the U.N. in New York City, the archbishop lamented that in recent official U.N. documents there have been interpretations of gender that “dissolve every specificity and complementarity between men and women.”
“These theories will not change the nature of things but certainly are already blurring and hindering any serious and timely advancement on the recognition of the inherent dignity and rights of women,” he warned.
Archbishop Migliore lamented that almost no document or resolution of international conferences and committees “fails to attempt to link the achievement of personal, social, economic and political rights to a notion of sexual and reproductive health and rights which is violent to unborn human life and is detrimental to the integral needs of women and men within society.”
Reporting that his delegation wishes for a productive review of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration, the archbishop decried violence in the form of female feticide, infanticide and abandonment.
He went on to detail some of the numerous threats against women around the world.
He first noted that discrimination in health and nutrition affects girls “much more” than boys, and girls are the majority of children out of school and have much higher rates of illiteracy.
Additionally, three quarters of those infected with HIV/AIDS are women between 15 and 24 years old, he added. In sub-Saharan Africa, three of four young people with the virus are women.
Among human trafficking victims, 70 percent are women and girls. Physical, sexual and psychological violence also affects women, especially where rape is used as a weapon of war.
The “motivations, values, guidelines and methodologies” at the United Nations may be hindering these efforts, he said.
“The Holy See reaffirms its commitments for improving the condition of women,” Archbishop Migliore’s comments concluded. “Its call to Catholic institutions, on the occasion of the Beijing Conference, for a concerted and prioritized strategy directed to girls and young women, especially the poorest, has yielded over the past years many significant results, and remains a strong commitment to implementing and promoting this task for the future.”
Vatican City, Mar 9, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Vatican's spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi commented today on the decades-old sex abuses cases in several European countries that recently came to light and lauded the Church for its “transparency” and “timely and decisive action” in dealing with them. Fr. Lombardi also stressed that focusing just on the problem of sex abuse in the Church gives a “false perspective” on an issue that affects society at large.
The Vatican spokesman opened his remarks by first noting the efforts of Pope Benedict and the Church to address the problems within the Church in Ireland. However, Fr. Lombardi explained that his comments are aimed more on the sex abuse cases surfacing in Germany, Austria and Holland.
“The main ecclesiastical institutions concerned - the German Jesuit Province (the first to be involved, through the case of the Canisius-Kolleg in Berlin), the German Episcopal Conference, the Austrian Episcopal Conference and the Netherlands Episcopal Conference - have faced the emergence of problem with timely and decisive action,” Fr. Federico stated on Tuesday.
“They have demonstrated their desire for transparency and, in a certain sense, accelerated the emergence of the problem by inviting victims to speak out, even when the cases involved date from many years ago. By doing so they have approached the matter 'on the right foot', because the correct starting point is recognition of what happened and concern for the victims and the consequences of the acts committed against them.”
At the same time, Fr. Lombardi said that “These events mobilize the Church to find appropriate responses and should be placed in a more wide-ranging context that concerns the protection of children and young people from sexual abuse in society as a whole.”
“Certainly, the errors committed in ecclesiastical institutions and by Church figures are particularly reprehensible because of the Church's educational and moral responsibility,” he noted, “but all objective and well-informed people know that the question is much broader, and concentrating accusations against the Church alone gives a false perspective.”
“By way of example,” Fr. Lombardi offered, “recent data supplied by the competent authorities in Austria shows that, over the same period of time, the number of proven cases in Church institutions was 17, while there were 510 other cases in other areas. It would be as well to concern ourselves also with them.”
Fr. Lombardi also ensured that the “the crime of the sexual abuse of minors has always been considered” by the Catholic Church “as one of the most serious of all, and canonical norms have constantly reaffirmed this, in particular the 2001 Letter 'De delictis gravioribus.'” Fr. Lombardi insisted that although some have cited the document as contributing to creating a “culture of silence,” those “who know and understand its contents, are aware that it was a decisive signal to remind the episcopate of the seriousness of the problem, as well as a real incentive to draw up operational guidelines to face it.”
The Vatican spokesman concluded his remarks by saying that “although the seriousness of the difficulties the Church is going through cannot be denied, we must not fail to do everything possible in order to ensure that, in the end, they bring positive results, of better protection for infancy and youth in the Church and in society, and the purification of the Church herself.”
Vatican City, Mar 9, 2010 (CNA) - L’Osservatore Romano (LOR) published an article yesterday commenting on the Oscar win by Kathryn Bigelow as best director for her film “The Hurt Locker.” The film took home five more Oscars than the box-office smash “Avatar,” directed by James Cameron.
The LOR article saw the two films as a match up between "David and Goliath," as Bigelow directed her independent film on a tiny budget, while Avatar was “the product of high-tech engineering” and directed by the “seemingly untouchable” Cameron.
In the end, Cameron fell to the “David of Kathryn Bigelow.”
While the Vatican newspaper praised Cameron for the many years he invested in Avatar, it pointed out that putting special effects above cinematography carries a great risk. “Thus Avatar seems more like a sequence of images, undoubtedly marvelous, but nonetheless simply placed one after the other, rather than a film,” the article said.
While Cameron basks in his millions in an industry that has become more commercialized and beholden to the illusion of 3D imagery, LOR continued, Bigelow shows she can roll up her sleeves and get dirty with the tools filmmakers have used since the beginning: “celluloid film and a pair of scissors, which she truly knows how to use like none other.”
Vatican City, Mar 9, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - In wake of the recent violence in the Jos region of Nigeria that left 200 people dead, the director of the Holy See’s Press office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, expressed “concern and horror” over the bloody events.
Fr. Lombardi also explained that the violence, which took place in the early hours of Sunday morning, should be seen “not as a religious, but a social confrontation.” The attacks were carried out by shepherds of the Muslim Fulani ethnic group against three villages of Christian farmers belonging to the Berom ethnicity.
“This is a classic conflict between herdsmen and farmers,” Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria told Vatican Radio on Monday. He also noted that, though the international media often links such violence to a religious conflict, “This is not the case, because they don’t kill each other due to religion, but for social, economic, tribal, (or) cultural demands."
He also said that the Church is working to “to promote good relations between Christians and Muslims and we seek also to come to an agreement in trying to curb the violence and work together to face concrete political and ethical problems."
Madrid, Spain, Mar 9, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Bishop Juan Antonio Reig Pla of Alcala de Henares remarked this week that by signing a bill into law that dramatically liberalizes abortion in Spain, King Juan Carlos has actively cooperated with the evil of abortion.
Despite numerous requests that the Spanish monarch refuse to sign the bill, King Juan Carlos put his signature to the new measure during a private ceremony last weekend. The law will take effect in July.
During an interview with Intereconomia TV on Saturday, Bishop Reig Pla openly commented, “What (the King) has done constitutes remote cooperation with evil.”
“The King should have thought about whether or not he was cooperating with the implementation of a law that will cause the death of innocent people,” the bishop said, noting that the King could have chosen a different option. “He could have refused to sign it, saying that his conscience came before signing a law that will not bring about good.”
Bishop Reig Pla rejected claims by some bishops that the King had no choice because of the constitutional requirement that he must sign duly passed laws. The new law “will not only make the abortion situation worse, but it will also lead to the imposition of sexual education in the classroom, as well as gender ideology, which is this government’s calling card.”
More than 60,000 people singed a petition urging the King not sign the bill into law, but last Wednesday his order to move forward with the measure was published in the Official State Bulletin, naming July 5 as the date it would go into effect.
Bogotá, Colombia, Mar 9, 2010 (CNA) - The National Commission of Reconciliation, led by the President of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia Bishop Ruben Salazar, has called on political and social organizations in the country to sign a National Accord for Peace and Reconciliation on March 12.
The accord is intended to create a “consensus” among sectors of the Colombian society to establish the minimum conditions necessary for overcoming the armed conflict within the country.
This national agreement encompasses “the need for Colombia to take part in the globalized world. It recognizes and supports the principle of international co-responsibility and welcomes the cooperation of the international community in the solution of our national problems, under the principle of non-intervention, and on the basis of an agenda of shared goals.”
It also upholds an ethical standard in which “the protection, promotion and defense of the dignity of the human person and human rights are given priority.”
The Church in Colombia, the various regional commissions of reconciliation, numerous other religious denominations, political parties and movements, trade unions, business associations, retired military and police officers, the academic community, the media and other important sectors in Colombian society are all expected to be involved in the agreement.
Santiago, Chile, Mar 9, 2010 (CNA) - The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Chile, Bishop Alejandro Goic Karmelic, sent a message to the women of the country yesterday on the International Day of Women. The prelate encouraged them to continue working for the reconstruction of a more just and equitable country, especially following the February 27 earthquake.
In his message, the bishop praised women who “give the best of themselves in each one of the roles they are called to take on: as mothers, daughters, wives, career professionals, workers in various fields, students, consecrated women, or committed laywomen.”
He added that “with hope and perseverance,” women “seek to build a better world that is more just and equitable for all.”
The bishop then underscored that today more than ever, “their courage and stoicism are being put to the test amidst so much suffering and human sadness. The vast majority of Chilean women are of profound faith and believers in a God who does not abandon us, who is infinitely merciful, and they base their lives and hope in Him.”
Bishop Karmelic encouraged Chileans to show greater “value and respect for women,” and prayed that “women recognize in themselves the gifts and graces that the Lord has placed in them and that bring dignity to their beings.”
He continued reminding women to follow “the example of the Most Holy Mary.”
“May they convey to those around them and to society, especially in our country, the true image and likeness with which God created them.”
After encouraging women who have lost loved ones to place their hope in Christ, Bishop Karmelic underscored that “in the Marian Year, the Church wishes to give thanks to the Most Holy Trinity for ‘the mystery of woman’” and for the “wonders of God that have been wrought in her and through her in the history of humanity.”
Phoenix, Ariz., Mar 9, 2010 (CNA) - In a statement released yesterday, the bishops of the Catholic Conference of Arizona told state lawmakers that they fear proposed legislation cracking down on illegal immigrants will intimidate them into not reporting criminal activity when they are victims and cause a spike in crime rates.
Currently, Senate Bill 1070 and House Bill 2632, which are identical, would require local police to enforce immigration laws more stringently. However, the bishops are concerned “that the present language of these bills does not clearly state that undocumented persons who become victims of crime can come forward without fear of deportation.”
“Anything that may deter crimes from being reported or prosecuted will only keep dangerous criminals on the streets, making our communities less safe,” the prelates added.
The bishops also expressed concern about the bills’ attempt to allow the State of Arizona to put its own law on illegal immigration on the books, making it the first state to do so. The proposed statute would require immigrants who are in the state illegally under federal law to be charged with trespassing under state law. The charge associated with the former is a high-level misdemeanor, while the latter is a felony.
While the proposed law intends to make it easier for the police to detain immigrants suspected of being complicit in a crime, the bishops fear that the unintended consequences of the legislation would be far reaching and detrimental to society.
If the bills become law, they warned, it could lead to the “possibility of criminalizing the presence of even children and young persons brought into our country by their parents.” “If enacted, these bills could lead to separation of family members that would not take place under current federal law,” they said.
The statement concluded by calling for a withdrawal of the two bills, an option the bishops said is better than the risk of “costly and unfairly punitive enforcement.” The Arizona prelates also called upon the federal government to enact comprehensive immigration reform to address the problems with the current immigration system.
“In the meantime,” they wrote, “we are concerned that local legislation not create new problems for families or have a negative impact on public safety.”
Washington D.C., Mar 9, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Following his remarks last week that he and his colleagues are prepared to strike down health care reform if it provides federal funding for abortion, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said on Monday that he is “more optimistic” than he was a week ago regarding legislative negotiations.
“The president says he doesn't want to expand or restrict current law (on abortion). Neither do I,” Stupak told the Associated Press on Monday. “That's never been our position. So is there some language that we can agree on that hits both points – we don't restrict, we don't expand abortion rights? I think we can get there.”
Although Rep. Stupak is satisfied with the current House bill, given his amendment to it that prevents federally funding abortions, he has been vocal in his opposition to the Senate bill. The representative stated on Feb. 23 that the Senate bill is “unacceptable” on the issue of abortion.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told ABC's “Good Morning America” on Tuesday that although President Obama “will keep his promise” on finding a solution to the issue of federally funded abortions, ultimately, “This is not a bill about abortion. This is about health care reform.”
Democratic political analyst and author Mark Stricherz explained the current situation of the health care bill to CNA on Tuesday and the importance of Rep. Stupak's coalition, saying, “The bottom line is that Pelosi needs Stupak's supporters to pass health-care reform. She doesn't have the votes any other way.”
“Now, she doesn't want to alienate the pro-choicers. So that's why she, Hoyer, and Stupak are working on language that's more conservative than Nelson's in the Senate but a bit more liberal than Stupak's. How they thread that needle is anyone's guess,” Stricherz said.
Cleveland, Ohio, Mar 9, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Calling pro-life advocates and all Christians to courage and virtue, Archbishop of Denver Charles J. Chaput provided a list of “dos and don’ts” for the pro-life movement on Tuesday evening. He urged an end to divisions and false oppositions, encouraging pro-lifers to be joyous and hopeful witnesses through public action and new technologies.
Delivering the keynote speech for Cleveland Right to Life's symposium "Bringing America Back to Life" on March 9, the archbishop said pro-life unity is a sign of God’s Spirit, while division is the sign of “Someone very different.”
“As a bishop, I've been baffled by the energy wasted on internal pro-life bickering. We can never allow our differences to become personal.”
“Don’t create or accept false oppositions,” he added, criticizing efforts to drop the legal fight to end abortion by seeking “common ground.”
In his view, Americans have not taken such gradualist approaches to reducing injustices such as racism or sexual assault.
“We make sexual assault illegal -- even though we know it will sometimes still tragically occur -- because it’s gravely evil. It’s an act of violence, and the law should proscribe it.”
If abortion is really an “intimate act of violence,” an end to it is necessary through law. Pro-lifers cannot be satisfied with “mere ‘reductions’ in the body count,” he continued, adding that a legal approach combined with support for pregnant women is needed.
“Don't hate the adversary,” Archbishop Chaput reminded his audience, saying that few supporters of abortion understand the “full gravity” of the act.
“Our enemy is the Evil One, not other human beings,” he explained. “We need to trust in the power of love; the true power of God.”
As positive advice, he urged his audience to become “martyrs,” that is, witnesses about human dignity in their daily actions.
“But public witness can be costly. We need to be ready to pay a price for our convictions. We may never be asked to bleed for what we believe. But we do see character assassination, contempt and calumny against good people every day in our public media. We need to prepare for that. Nothing, not even our good name, should stop us from doing what we know to be right.”
The Archbishop of Denver likened simplistic political slogans to viruses transmitted so quickly a person cannot respond to them intelligently.
He criticized a common complaint against those who “impose” their morals on others, explaining that all law is the public expression of moral conviction. The central question in public debate is which moral convictions of which people shall guide the laws.
“If you and I as citizens don’t do the shaping, then somebody else will,” he cautioned. “That’s the nature of a democracy.”
Citizens who fail to bring their moral beliefs into the public conversation and work for their advancement help ensure the defeat of those beliefs.
Efforts to wall off religious beliefs from political behavior are illogical and encourage self-deceit, the archbishop warned.
“God sees that our duplicity is really a kind of cowardice; and that our lack of courage does a lot more damage than simply compromising our own integrity. It also undermines the courage of other good people who really do try to publicly witness to what they believe. And that compounds a sin of dishonesty with a sin of injustice.”
“We can’t build a just society, and at the same time legally sanctify the destruction of generations of unborn human life. The rights of the poor and the rights of the unborn child flow from exactly the same human dignity guaranteed by the God who created us.”
“Do keep hope alive,” he continued, explaining that joy is not self-deception but the acknowledgment that God truly is on the side of “human life and dignity.”
“Nothing is more inspiring than happy warriors,” Archbishop Chaput commented. “I've never in my life seen a joy-filled pro-abortion event. And I've always found that instructive.”
He also encouraged the use of the “best means” for the pro-life message, especially new technologies.
“Many of the traditional, mainline media are losing influence. But blogs, social networks, and YouTube channels are thriving. They offer huge pro-life opportunities.”
His final exhortation reiterated that cultural renewal, not grasping power, is the real goal.
“Culture can be changed in small but powerful ways. But achieving that change demands from each of us a lifelong commitment to education; to studying and really understanding the issues that face us in science, medicine, technology and law; to deepening the character formation of our children and ourselves; and ultimately, to personal action and personal witness in the public square. Nobody will do these things for us.”
No defense of the human person, no matter how small, is “unfruitful or forgotten,” he commented. God loves the “ordinary, simple, everyday people” who keep His Word and are faithful to His commandments in leavening the world with goodness.
“If you speak up for the unborn child in this life, someone will speak up for you in the next, when we meet God face to face.”
He closed his comments by quoting an “unofficial motto” of the Texas Rangers: “No man in the wrong can stand up against a fella that’s in the right, and keeps a-comin.”
“Courage and humility, justice and perseverance, do have power. Good does win. And the sanctity of human life will endure,” Archbishop Chaput said.
If people remember that God so loved the world that He gave His only son, he noted, “then the odds look pretty good, and it’s worth fighting for what’s right.”