Denver, Colo., Mar 15, 2010 (CNA) - In his weekly column for the Denver Catholic Register, the Archbishop of Denver, Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., says the Senate health-care bill does not meet minimum moral standards and therefore, doesn’t have the support of the Catholic bishops.
“The Senate version of health-care reform currently being forced ahead by congressional leaders and the White House is a bad bill that will result in bad law,” says the archbishop in his column titled, “Catholics, health care and the Senate’s bad bill,” published today on the archdiocese’s website.
“As I write this column on March 14, the Senate bill remains gravely flawed. It does not meet minimum moral standards in at least three important areas: the exclusion of abortion funding and services; adequate conscience protections for health-care professionals and institutions; and the inclusion of immigrants,” Chaput writes.
In reference to pro-Obama Catholic organizations who have been claiming that the bill is “sufficiently” pro-life, the Archbishop of Denver argues that “groups, trade associations and publications describing themselves as ‘Catholic’ or ‘prolife’ that endorse the Senate version – whatever their intentions – are doing a serious disservice to the nation and to the Church, undermining the witness of the Catholic community; and ensuring the failure of genuine, ethical health-care reform.”
Such groups, Archbishop Chaput explains, “create confusion at exactly the moment Catholics need to think clearly about the remaining issues in the health-care debate. They also provide the illusion of moral cover for an unethical piece of legislation.”
The archbishop then reminds his readers of “a few simple facts.”
First, the Catholic bishops of the United States began pressing for real national health-care reform “long before either political party or the public media found it convenient.” Second, the bishops have tried earnestly to craft a consensus “that would serve all Americans,” but the failure of their effort has one source: “It comes entirely from the stubbornness and evasions of certain key congressional leaders, and the unwillingness of the White House to honor promises made by the president last September.”
Third, “the health-care reform debate has never been merely a matter of party politics. Nor is it now.” In this regard, Archbishop Chaput praises Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak and “a number of his Democratic colleagues” for showing “extraordinary character in pushing for good health-care reform while resisting attempts to poison it with abortion-related entitlements and other bad ideas that have nothing to do with real health care.”
“To put it another way,” the Archbishop says, “few persons seriously oppose making adequate health services available for all Americans. But God, or the devil, is in the details -- and by that measure, the current Senate version of health-care reform is not merely defective, but also a dangerous mistake.”
Nevertheless, Archbishop Chaput writes that the “most painful feature” in the last weeks of the debate, “has been those ‘Catholic’ groups that by their eagerness for some kind of deal undercut the witness of the Catholic community and help advance a bad bill into a bad law. Their flawed judgment could now have damaging consequences for all of us.”
The Archbishop of Denver reminds his readers that the bill “does not deserve, nor does it have, the support of the Catholic bishops in our country, who speak for the believing Catholic community.”
“Catholics and other persons of good will concerned about the foundations of human dignity should oppose it,” he says in closing.
Santiago, Chile, Mar 15, 2010 (CNA) -
Numerous bishops in Chile are reporting on the amount of damage that many of the churches in the country are facing following the February 27 earthquake. Nearly 90 percent of Chile’s churches have been damaged or destroyed, including many historic national monuments.
Gustavo Villavicencio, who writes for “El Mercurio,” reported that “the nuns of the first Monastery of the Visitation still do not know if they will continue to be the spiritual lung of Santiago.” He noted that “their future is uncertain," and "concrete solutions" have yet to be found.
“Along with this monastery is a long list of other churches in the capital that have been damaged, including the Basilicas of Our Lady of Lourdes, Sacred Heart of Mary, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help.”
Bishop Juan Ignacio Gonzalez Errazuriz of San Bernardo reported that among the churches impacted by the quake in his city is “the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Maipo, built in 1850.”
Bishop Cristian Contreras Molina of San Felipe said the list of damaged churches in his region is long and includes the “old Carmelite Monastery and the hundred year-old Church of Putaendo,” which the pastor, Father Francisco Valenzuela said, was left in ruins.
In the Diocese of Rancagua, numerous churches were completely destroyed, including the Jesuit-run Church of St. Anthony of Padua, the Church of St. John the Evangelist and the Church of St. Rose of Pelequen, where the bell tower and steeple fell onto the roof and the entire building collapsed. “We need around $16 million to begin the work of reconstruction,” said the pastor, Father Jose Miguel Ortiz.
Bishop Tomislav Koljatic Maroevic of Linares said in his diocese, 16 of the 33 churches were reduced to rubble, four of which were national monuments. Those destroyed include the Church of St. Joseph, built in 1833; and the Church of St. Ambrose, where thousands of the faithful gather each year on February 2 to celebrate the Feast of the Presentation.
“The Cathedral of Linares, which contains the largest mosaic in all of Chile, created by Gulio di Girolamo, was also severely damaged,” the bishop said. He also reported that the Church of St. Francis in Chillan was also destroyed, together with its Museum of St. Francis, which contained significant historical and religious artifacts dating back to the 18th century.
The bishop then noted that the convent of the Carmelite Fathers was also damaged, as well as the Church of the Dominican Fathers and the Church of St. John of God in Chillan, which is a national monument.
Madrid, Spain, Mar 15, 2010 (CNA) - Archbishop Juan Jose Asenjo called on priests and seminarians to reverse “the vocational winter” by encouraging young people who feel the Lord’s call to respond with generosity and with the conviction that He will fulfill all of their expectations.
“It is no secret that the Church in the West and in Spain as well is currently experiencing a long ‘vocational winter.’ We need more priests in Seville to adequately minister to our communities,” the archbishop wrote in a letter for the Day for Seminarians.
Archbishop Asenjo encouraged young people to fix “their gaze on the open side of Christ, who died for us on the cross. … Perhaps you will discover a call of love that has been sent directly to your heart, to follow Him with generosity through the path of a priestly vocation.”
He also recalled the importance of seminary formation, and said formation directors and professors should carry out their work “with renewed enthusiasm, maintaining the level of demand and permanent fidelity to the guidance of the Church.”
“We must be committed to the formation of future priests through our prayer and our financial contribution, so that no seminarian is prevented from being a priest because of a lack of resources,” the archbishop wrote.
Archbishop Ansejo also referred to the Year of Priests, and said priests as well as seminarians should strive for the “interior renewal” of which Pope Benedict XVI has spoken.
The theme of his letter, “The Priest, Witness of God’s Mercy,” is a call to priests to embrace the same mindset as Jesus Christ, the eternal high Priest.”
“Among these sentiments mercy stands out, which is that particular kind of life that knows how to show pity and how to react to the suffering, poverty, injustice, spiritual misery and sin of those who journey by our side,” he said.
Vatican City, Mar 15, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Jadranka Kosor, prime minister of the Republic of Croatia met with the Holy Father on Saturday morning. Following her meeting with the Pope, Prime Minister Kosor met with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.
A "fruitful exchange of opinions" took place, according to a communique from the Holy See, during which time current issues in the international arena and also those more specific to the Balkans were discussed.
The condition of the Croatian community in Bosnia and Herzegovina was given special attention. Bosnian Croats represent the least populous of the three major ethnicities in that neighboring country.
The Vatican reported that the two sides reconfirmed their dedication to continue constructive dialogue on matters of mutual interest to the Church and the Croatian State. Conversation also turned to themes concerning the eventual full integration of Croatia into the European Union, one of the priorities of Kosor's administration.
Vatican City, Mar 15, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Meeting with Sudanese bishops on Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI urged them to always look to the Gospel for the principles necessary "to shape your preaching and teaching, your judgments and actions" in working to help restore peace.
Several bishops from Sudan were in Rome last week for their periodic "ad Limina apostolorum" visit.
In his audience with them at the Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father emphasized the importance of peace throughout his address.
"If peace is to plant deep roots," he said, "concrete efforts must be made to diminish the factors contributing to unrest, particularly corruption, ethnic tensions, indifference and selfishness." He added that if the bishops base their initiatives on "integrity, a sense of universal brotherhood and the virtues of justice, responsibility and charity," they will "surely be fruitful."
Noting "the exercise of mature and morally upright leadership" is fundamental to the process, Benedict XVI urged the bishops to implore "a change of heart" in the Sudanese people as a gift of the grace of God, so that the effects of violence can be healed and a "just and lasting peace" can be achieved.
"As heralds of the Gospel, you have sought to instill in your people and in society a sense of responsibility towards present and future generations, encouraging forgiveness, mutual acceptance and respect for commitments taken," said the Pope.
He commended them on their work to recognize basic human rights in law and to apply integral economic and human development models in Sudan. Benedict XVI said he appreciated the Sudanese Catholic Church's effort to help the poor "live with dignity and self-respect, ... find long-term work and to enable them to make their proper contribution to society."
He told them to always be inspired by a "spirituality of communion" in their preaching and pastoral activity and to be "teachers and witnesses of our communion in faith and the love of Christ.” Pope Benedict commended to them the practices of “sharing common initiatives, listening to your collaborators, helping priests, religious and faithful to accept and support one another as brothers and sisters, without distinction of race or ethnic group, in a generous exchange of gifts."
Benedict XVI concluded by encouraging the Sudanese bishops to strengthen Catholic education as part of the local Church's witness. He also invited them to continue promoting cooperation with followers of Islam through practical initiatives, stressing "the values that Christians share in common with Muslims” should be “the basis for that 'dialogue of life' which is an essential first step towards genuine inter-religious respect and understanding."
The bishops of Burkina Faso and Niger begin their "ad Limina" on Monday, following the Sudanese bishops and those of Uganda a week earlier.
Rome, Italy, Mar 15, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - In an article titled "The rigor of Benedict XVI against the filth in the Church," Bishop Giuseppe Versaldi of Alessandria, Italy defended the "rigor" of the Holy Father in fighting sexual abuse within the Church. It is "ungenerous," he wrote, to deny the "open and decided battle" he and the Church are leading against these crimes.
In Sunday's edition of L'Osservatore Romano, the bishop wrote that some clarifications are needed regarding the sexual abuses that have been coming to light in recent days. He began by emphasizing the Church's "wholehearted condemnation of these serious crimes that disgust the conscience of anyone."
When these crimes involve people with vested roles in the Church, he added, "the scandal becomes even graver and more detestable.”
"Rightly, the Church does not intend to tolerate any uncertainty as to the condemnation of the crime and the removal from the ministry of whomever turns out to be stained of such infamy, along with just reparation for victims."
After underscoring this position, however, Bishop Versaldi brought up the existence of a "tenacity towards the Catholic Church," commenting that it is as if it were the institution with the most frequent instances of abuses.
He referred to a "much reduced" number of cases in the U.S. and "even fewer in Europe," saying that while this puts the phenomenon in perspective quantitatively, "it does not reduce in any way its condemnation nor the fight to eradicate it, as the priesthood demands that only humanly and spiritually mature people enter.”
"Even a single case of abuse by a priest would be unacceptable," he stressed.
But the "negative image" given to the Catholic Church is exaggerated, Bishop Versaldi said, considering that "no causal nexus exists" between the priest's celibacy and deviant behaviors. First of all, “because it is well known that sexual abuses of minors are more widespread among lay and married people than among celibate clergy; secondly, the statistics of the research highlight that the priests guilty of abuses already do not observe the vow of celibacy."
However, he continued, "it is even more relevant to underscore that the Catholic Church - despite the deformed image with which it is wished to be represented - is the institution that has decided to lead the clearest battle against sexual abuses against minors starting from within."
This is the place where Benedict XVI has given "a decisive impulse to this fight," thanks to his 20-plus years of service within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Bishop Versaldi stated. From this "observatory," he explained, the Pope worked extensively with cases of sexual abuse and promoted reforms including "more rigorous" legislative norms.
"Now, as Supreme Pastor of the Church, the Pope maintains ... in this field a style of government that aims for the purification of the Church, eliminating the 'filth' that nests in it."
"Benedict XVI demonstrates himself to be, thus, a vigilant shepherd over his flock, despite the false image of (being) a devoted scholar only to writing books who would delegate to others the government of the Church," stressed the Bishop of Alessandria.
"It is thanks to the greater rigor of the Pope that several episcopal conferences are shedding light on cases of sexual abuses, collaborating also with civil authorities to render justice to the victims," he explained.
Bishop Versaldi then called it "paradoxical" that the Church would be represented "as if it were the responsible entity for abuses of minors." He also dubbed it "ungenerous" not to recognize "the merit" of the Church, "especially Benedict XVI," in leading "an open and decided battle against the crimes committed by its priests."
The bishop further proposed "another paradox" that exists today: that "wisely" established Church norms that are strict in preventing those who are immature "in the sexual field" from becoming priests, are “attacked and criticized by that same group that would like it to be the principal (entity) responsible for abuses of minors.
"The clear and rigorous line assumed by the Holy See," he concluded, "should instead be received in the Church ... to guarantee the truth, justice and charity towards everyone."
Bishop of Alessandria Giuseppe Versaldi is the ordinary emeritus of canon law and psychology at the Pontifical Gregorian University.
Madrid, Spain, Mar 15, 2010 (CNA) - The president of Professionals for Ethics in the Spanish region of Catalonia, Ramon Novella, denounced a plan by the Catalonian government, pharmacy schools and the company Durex to promote condoms among young people.
Calling it a “new tool for indoctrinating young people, and in the case of minors, an attempt to supplant the fundamental educational role of the family,” Novella said the plan followed the same lines as the course Education for the Citizenry and other educational programs such as those included in the new law on abortion.
Novella said all of these programs have done nothing but “promote promiscuity and irresponsibility among teens and young people,” leading to an increase in pregnancies, abortions and sexually-transmitted diseases.
He wondered aloud whether the Catalonian government “would assume responsibility for the pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases caused by the incorrect use or manufacturer’s defects in the contraceptive methods it recommends.”
Novella also denounced the use of taxpayer funds to give “free publicity” to a specific company. “Are there any economic or personal interests at work amongst the officials who have adopted this decision?” he asked.
The government in Catalonia already distributes sex-ed information at various outlets throughout the region, and it coordinated the distribution of 14,000 condoms on World AIDS Day.
Mexico City, Mexico, Mar 15, 2010 (CNA) - The spokesman for the Archdiocese of Mexico City, Father Hugo Valdemar, said this week the country’s Supreme Court should overrule the “perverse law” allowing homosexual unions and should protect the right of children to have a father and a mother. Father Valdemar made his comments after the first so-called homosexual marriage took place in the Mexican capital.
The spokesman for the archdiocese said he hoped the next legislature in Mexico City would revoke the recent series of laws that “are destroying Mexican families (such as the law on abortion).” These laws, Fr. Valdemar noted, have been approved and ratified during the administration” of Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, “who, as St. Paul says, is taking pride in what ought to be embarrassing.”
Father Valdemar warned that the legalization of homosexual unions makes a “mockery of the family” and undermines “values and morality.” He blamed passage of the law on international influence, “which offends Mexicans, who have great consideration and appreciation for the institution of the family.”
Together with the law on abortion, he said, the law on homosexuals “may be legal, but it will never moral.”
For this reason, he warned the faithful that “those who promote, support, implement or submit to these immoral laws cannot be in good standing with the Catholic Church.” “Doctors, nurses or judges, if they consider themselves Christians, have the duty to make use of conscientious objection in order to avoid becoming accomplices with these evil actions that will drag our society towards degradation and ruin,” the priest said.
Father Valdemar also pointed to Mayor Ebrard as the one responsible for this destruction of the family. The Mexico City mayor “does not hide his aversion for the Churches from the majority of the inhabitants he governs who profess the Christian faith and reject the perversion of their most respectful and beloved values, as is the case of the family,” the archdiocesan spokesman said.
“The authoritarianism of the mayor is obvious, as by mocking the society he governs, he has ignored the polls which clearly show that 70 percent of the people reject adoptions by same-sex couples,” Father Valdemar said.
Madrid, Spain, Mar 15, 2010 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Barcelona, Cardinal Lluis Martinez Sistach, invited the faithful to spiritually prepare for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the Spanish city on November 7. He also said the visit, during which the Holy Father will consecrate the Church of the Holy Family, would highlight the centrality of marriage and the family.
Cardinal Sistach underscored the importance of spiritually preparing for the Holy Father’s visit, saying that the faithful should prioritize prayer and seeking a greater understanding of the Pope’s ministry.
The Archbishop of Barcelona also urged the laity to manifest their gratitude to God for the gift of the visit by keeping their Christian commitments in the Church and in society with greater generosity and care, with solidarity for the poor and those in need as well.
In referring to the consecration of the Church of the Holy Family, Cardinal Sistach said that with this act, “The Pope is emphasizing the importance that marriage and family have for the good of persons, the Church, society and the need to defend and help families and life.”
“At the same time, his presence at this religious monument, a World Heritage site, shows the value that art and beauty have for the Holy Father, since as he says, 'Beauty can be turned into a path towards the transcendent, towards the ultimate mystery, towards God,'” he added.
Rome, Italy, Mar 15, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -
"Unity is a gift that can be given to us only by God" the Holy Father told the Lutheran Community of Rome this weekend. The Pope made this the focus of his homily to the community, highlighting common elements between Lutherans and Catholics but also expressing sadness for the Churches' continued disunity.
Commemorating Pope John Paul II's visit to the same Church in 1983, which marked 500 years since the birth of Martin Luther, Pope Benedict XVI gave a sermon at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Rome on Sunday afternoon. He was welcomed by the Lutheran community of Rome's pastor, Jens-Martin Kruse.
Speaking without notes in German, the Pope gave thanks on the occasion that they were all gathered in the same place, "singing together, listening to the Word of God, listening to one another and looking towards the One Christ, bearing witness to the One Christ."
He observed that while "we hear many complaints about the fact that there are no longer any new developments in ecumenism ... we can say with gratitude that there are many elements that unite us."
Noting that the divisions with the two Churches are due to mutual "fault," the Holy Father said "it makes us sad to know that this division is the result of a sinful situation, but we must also know that unity is a gift that can be given to us only by God."
The Holy Father cited differences between the two Churches in "essential aspects" and said that "we must not content ourselves with the successes of ecumenism over recent years, because we still cannot drink from the same chalice or gather together around the same altar."
A joint declaration on justification between the Lutheran and Catholic Churches in 1999, overseen by Pope John Paul II, lifted mutual excommunications dating back to the 16th century. In spite of this, continuing obstacles to unity "cannot but make us sad," the Pope stated, "because it is a situation of sin; and yet unity cannot be achieved by men."
"We must entrust ourselves to the Lord, because He is the only one Who can give us unity. Let us hope that He brings us to that goal."
Over 300 people were in attendance for the occasion, during which time gifts were shared by the Pope and the pastor. Benedict XVI gave the Lutheran pastor a depiction of Christ, in mosaic, modeled after the same work found in the Grottoes under the Altar of the Confession at St. Peter's.
During his homily, the Holy Father also spoke of the grain of wheat that must die to bear fruit. Of this, he explained that "a person who loves his life will lose it, but he who takes up the cross and follows Jesus will have eternal life."
"Life," he said, "is not in receiving but in giving ourselves. If we do not give to another we cannot receive."
Vatican City, Mar 15, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Benedict XVI released his message for the 25th World Youth Day celebration on Monday. He invites the young people of the world to realize their vocations and, instead of turning away disappointed as the young rich man in Mark's Gospel, to follow Jesus with courage.
Calling the World Youth Day initiative begun by Pope John Paul II "prophetic," the Holy Father writes that the events have reaped "abundant fruits, permitting the new Christian generations to come together, listen to the Word of God, discover the beauty of the Church and live strong experiences of faith that have brought many to the decision of giving themselves totally to Christ."
This year's celebration, which will take place on a diocesan level, is a "stage" on the path to WYD 2011 in Madrid, indicates the Pope, who says he hopes for a good turnout for the upcoming "event of grace."
To prepare for the celebration, the Benedict XVI reflects on this year's theme: "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" This, writes the Pope, presents the episode of Jesus' encounter with the rich young man which Pope John Paul II presented in his inaugural letter for the first World Youth Day in 1985.
Benedict XVI revisits John Paul II's original "beautiful" letter for this year's message, which he divides into seven points. Significant portions of Pope Benedict XVI's 2010 World Youth Day Message are presented below.
1. Jesus encounters the young man
The story from Mark's gospel of the young rich man who is disappointed when he is asked to sell everything and follow Christ, writes the Holy Father to youth, "effectively expresses the great attention of Jesus towards young people, towards you, towards your expectations, your hopes, and shows how great is his desire to meet with you personally and open a dialogue with each one of you."
"With this passage, my Predecessor wanted to exhort each of you to 'develop a personal conversation with Christ - a conversation that is of fundamental importance and essential for young people.'"
2. Jesus looked at him and loved him
"The heart of this very special encounter and the whole Christian experience" is in the Lord's gaze, writes Pope Benedict. In the personal love of Jesus Christ, "young or old, rich or poor; he loves us even when we turn our backs on him."
John Paul II wrote to youth in his message, "I hope you experience a look like that! I hope you experience the truth that he, the Christ, looks at you with love."
Pope Benedict adds John Paul II's words, "The knowledge that the Father has always loved us in his Son, that the Christ loves each one of us always becomes a firm point of support for all of our human existence.
"In this love," proposes Pope Benedict, "we find the source of all of the Christian life and the fundamental reason for evangelization: if we have truly found Jesus, we cannot help but witness him to those who have not encountered his look."
3. The discovery of the project of life
Pope Benedict writes that the situation facing the young man in the Gospel is one that faces all youth, "the season of life that you are immersed in is a time of discovery: of the gifts that God has lavished upon you and of your responsibilities. It is, moreover, a time of fundamental choices to build your 'project of life.'"
The Pope urges youth not to be fearful in answering the question: "What must I do, so that my life might have full value and full meaning?"
"To discover the 'project of life' that can make you plainly happy, start listening to God, who has a design of love for each of you," writes the Pope. "With trust, ask him: "Lord, what is your design of Creator and Father of my life? What is your will? I wish to complete it.
"Be sure that he will respond. Don't be fearful of his reply!"
4. Come and follow me!
"The Christian vocation springs from a proposal of love from the Lord and can be realized only thanks to a response of love," writes Benedict XVI, adding that, "The saints welcome this demanding invitation."
The Holy Father calls youth to welcome "joyfully" their vocations, "to live intensely and fruitfully in this world."
The young, rich man "unfortunately, does not welcome the invitation of Jesus and he leaves saddened," points out the Pope. "He did not find the courage to separate himself from material goods to find the greater good proposed by Jesus.
His sadness "is that which is born in the heart of each person when he does not have the courage to follow Christ, to carry out the right choice. But it's never too late to answer him!"
The Year for Priests highlights the Lord's "radical choice" of some for the vocation of the priesthood, religious and missionary life, writes the Pope. "Do not be afraid" ... because "He knows how to give profound joy to he who responds with courage," the Holy Father encourages young people.
The Pope also invites those called to married life to "welcome it with faith, working hard to establish a solid base to live a great love, faithful and open to the gift of life ... "
5. Oriented towards eternal life
"What must I do to inherit eternal life?" is a question that comes up in "particular painful moments of existence" when we experience death or failure, relates the Pope in the message.
He assures the youth that "Asking ourselves about the definitive future that awaits each of us gives full meaning to our existence, since it orients the 'project of life' not towards limited and passing, but broad and deep horizons that bring us to love the world ... to dedicate ourselves to His development, but always with the freedom and the joy that are born of faith and hope. They are horizons that help to put the earthly reality in absolute terms, feeling that God is preparing us for a bigger perspective ..."
The Pope concludes his thought with an exhortation to the youth not to forget "this prospect in your project of life: we are called to eternity. God has created us to be with Him forever.
"He will help you to give a full sense to your choices and give quality to your existence."
6. The commandments, way of true love
As Jesus reminds the young man, the commandments are "essential points of reference for living in love, for distinguishing clearly the good from the bad and building a solid and lasting project of life," the Pope writes. "Also to you, Jesus asks if you know the Commandments, if you work to form your consciences according to the divine law and if you put them in practice."
"This goes against today's mentality that proposes a freedom unrelated to values, rules, objective norms and invites denial of every limit to the desires of the moment," points out Pope Benedict. "But this type of proposal," he observes, "instead of leading to true freedom, makes man a slave to himself, to his immediate desires, to idols as power, money, unbridled pleasure and the seductions of the world, making him incapable of following his native vocation to love."
The commandments were given to us because God "wants to educate us in true liberty, because he wants to build with us a Kingdom of love, of justice and of peace."
"Listening to them and putting them in practice doesn't mean alienating onesself, but finding a path of freedom and of true love, because the commandments don't limit happiness, but indicate how to find it. Jesus at the beginning of the dialogue with the young rich man, reminds him that the law given by God is good, because 'God is good,'" writes the Pope.
7. We need you
Young people today might find themselves in a difficult situation marked by a lack of employment opportunities, ideal references or concrete prospects for the future, the Pope observes. Despite the difficulty or feelings of impotence, "do not let yourselves be discouraged and do not give up your dreams!"
"Instead, cultivate in your hearts great desires for fraternity, justice and peace.
"The future is in the hands of those who know how to seek and find strong reasons for life and hope. If you want it, the future is in your hands, because the gifts and the riches that the Lord has closed in the heart of each of you, molded by the encounter with Christ, can bring back true hope to the world!" says the Pope.
It is the faith in his love that, making you strong and generous, will give you the courage to confront with serenity the path of life and assume family and professional responsibilities. Work to build your future through serious routes of personal formation and study, to serve the common good in a competent and generous way.
The Holy Father includes the challenges that young people are called to respond to today to build a more just and fraternal world: "the use of the resources of the earth and respect for ecology, the just division of goods and the control of financial mechanisms, solidarity with the poor countries within the human family, the fight against hunger in the world, the promotion of the dignity of human work, service to the culture of life, the construction of peace between nations, interreligious dialogue, the good use of means of social communication."
"These are challenges that ask for a demanding and exciting project of life, in which to put all of your riches according to the design that God has for each of you," the Pope explains.
This "isn't about carrying out heroic or extraordinary gestures, but of acting by putting in fruit our own talents and possibilities, committing oneself to progress constantly in faith and love."
Pope Benedict XVI concludes the letter by inviting everyone to learn about the lives of the saints, particularly those who are priests in this special year that honors them.
Through their lives, we can see God's guidance and their experience of finding their way "day after day, in faith, hope and love.
"Christ calls each of you to work with Him and to assume your responsibilities to build a civilization of love. If you follow his Word, your way will also be illuminated and it will lead you to high goals, that give joy and full meaning to life."
The message concludes with the prayer, "May the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, accompany you with her protection" and the Pope's assurance of his prayers and blessing "with great affection."
This year's World Youth Day will be celebrated on a diocesan level on Palm Sunday, March 28.
Washington D.C., Mar 15, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - In a statement Monday, Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that the U.S. bishops are now opposing the current Senate health care bill because the cost “is too high” and “the loss too great” for it to be supported. Cardinal George also expressed concern with the Catholic Health Association's support the bill.
Spelling out his main objections to the Senate health care legislation, the cardinal said, “What do the bishops find so deeply disturbing about the Senate bill? The points at issue can be summarized briefly.”
“The status quo in federal abortion policy, as reflected in the Hyde Amendment, excludes abortion from all health insurance plans receiving federal subsidies,” he explained. “In the Senate bill, there is the provision that only one of the proposed multi-state plans will not cover elective abortions – all other plans (including other multi-state plans) can do so, and receive federal tax credits. This means that individuals or families in complex medical circumstances will likely be forced to choose and contribute to an insurance plan that funds abortions in order to meet their particular health needs.”
“Further,” added the prelate, “the Senate bill authorizes and appropriates billions of dollars in new funding outside the scope of the appropriations bills covered by the Hyde amendment and similar provisions. As the bill is written, the new funds it appropriates over the next five years, for Community Health Centers for example (Sec. 10503), will be available by statute for elective abortions, even though the present regulations do conform to the Hyde amendment. Regulations, however, can be changed at will, unless they are governed by statute.”
“Additionally,” he noted, “no provision in the Senate bill incorporates the longstanding and widely supported protection for conscience regarding abortion as found in the Hyde/Weldon amendment. Moreover, neither the House nor Senate bill contains meaningful conscience protection outside the abortion context. Any final bill, to be fair to all, must retain the accommodation of the full range of religious and moral objections in the provision of health insurance and services that are contained in current law, for both individuals and institutions.”
In contrast with the U.S. Bishops, Sr. Carol Keehan, director of the Catholic Health Association, expressed approval in a statement on March 13 for the current Senate bill. “The bill now being considered allows people buying insurance through an exchange to use federal dollars in the form of tax credits and their own dollars to buy a policy that covers their health care,” she asserted. “If they choose a policy with abortion coverage, then they must write a separate personal check for the cost of that coverage.”
“Is (the bill) perfect? No.” stated Sr. Keehan last Saturday. “But is it a major first step? Yes.”
Cardinal George addressed Sr. Keehan's claims on Monday, noting, “This analysis of the flaws in the legislation is not completely shared by the leaders of the Catholic Health Association. They believe, moreover, that the defects that they do recognize can be corrected after the passage of the final bill.”
“The bishops, however, judge that the flaws are so fundamental that they vitiate the good that the bill intends to promote,” the Chicago cardinal explained. “Assurances that the moral objections to the legislation can be met only after the bill is passed seem a little like asking us, in Midwestern parlance, to buy a pig in a poke.”
“This is not quibbling over technicalities,” Cardinal George insisted. “The deliberate omission in the Senate Bill of the necessary language that could have taken this moral question off the table and out of play leaves us still looking for a way to meet the President’s and our concern to provide health care for those millions whose primary care physician is now an emergency room doctor.”
“Two basic principles, therefore, continue to shape the concerns of the Catholic bishops,” Cardinal George concluded, “health care means taking care of the health needs of all, across the human life span; and the expansion of health care should not involve the expansion of abortion funding and of polices forcing everyone to pay for abortions.”
“Because these principles have not been respected, despite the good that the bill under consideration intends or might achieve, the Catholic bishops regretfully hold that it must be opposed unless and until these serious moral problems are addressed.”
To read Cardinal George's full statement, visit: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/document.php?n=980