Fargo, N.D., May 29, 2010 (CNA) - When it comes to evangelization, the Newman Centers in Fargo and Grand Forks put forth a lot of effort and cover a lot of ground. During a bicycle race last month, more than 500 people actively demonstrated their faith by riding 40 miles to raise awareness of the Newman Centers and their role in bringing the Catholic faith to others.
In addition to being a successful evangelization tool, the race generated more than $150,000 that will support the work of the North Dakota Newman Centers.
“The people were so generous,” Deacon Sam Pupino said from St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center in Grand Forks. Their financial donations ensure that “we can do the evangelization that we need to do on these campuses.”
The stories of participants are as varied as they are. Some participants wore costumes. One participant stopped to fix other racers’ bicycles, lending them another bike so they could continue the race while he made repairs. One rider has ridden in all of the 25 races that have been held throughout the years. Two children in elementary school raised more than $150 each in pledges. A ninth grader raised $1,000.
The evangelization reached well beyond North Dakota’s borders. The parents of one student traveled from Illinois to participate, and took home with them information about how to coordinate bike races at their local Newman Center.
This annual visible and physical evangelization effort is also a friendly competition between the two Newman Centers. This year St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center earned the trophy with 233 racers and more than $85,000 in donations. St. Paul’s Newman Center in Fargo had 283 racers and raised more than $72,000.
“A lot of positives came out of this,” Deacon Pupino said, “and the most important was everybody had fun.”
Printed with permission from New Earth, newspaper for the Diocese of Fargo, North Dakota.
Chicago, Ill., May 29, 2010 (CNA) - Although a judge has already ruled that the Parental Notice of Abortion Act in Illinois is constitutional, he has also issued a stay of his decision, thereby delaying the implementation of the law. As a result, attorneys from the Thomas More Society filed an appeal on May 28 to have the stay lifted.
The legislation, which would require parental notification in the case of minors seeking to procure an abortion, has been held up from being enacted in the state due to attacks by the American Civil Liberties Union and others, according to Peter Breen, the Thomas More Society's executive director and legal counsel.
The Act has been on hold since 1995, when it was first introduced.
“The Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act has held up numerous times against attacks by the ACLU and other opponents, and we believe there is no legal reason to prevent implementation of this long-overdue and much- needed law in Illinois,” Breen said.
“It is time to enforce this law and put an end to secret abortions in Illinois,” he added.
Previously, local Judge Daniel Riley dismissed the ACLU's lawsuit challenging the constitutionality the act, yet imposed a stay of his decision until the ACLU's appeal is complete. This process, argued the Thomas More Society, could take additional years.
The society claimed that Judge Riley's stay has ultimately contradicted the will of the people in Illinois and is a violation of Illinois law, given the fact that the Act has been found constitutional.
Washington D.C., May 29, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Critics of the proposal to eliminate the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for homosexuals who serve in the military have warned the proposed change would advance a “radical” social agenda and would affect military readiness and the well-being of those in military service.
On Thursday the Senate Armed Services Committee and the full U.S. House approved measures to change the 1993 law allowing homosexuals to serve only if they do not reveal their sexual orientation.
The measures came in an amendment to a more than $700 billion defense spending bill, the Associated Press reports. The amendment and defense bill passed the House in formal vote on Friday by a margin of 229 to 186, with 26 Democrats voting against it and nine Republicans in favor. On Thursday evening a measure allowing the policy change passed the Armed Services Committee by 16-12, with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) favoring it and former Marine Sen. Jim Webb (D-Virginia) opposing it.
Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), who opposes the proposal, claimed it jeopardized the entire spending bill.
Former presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), a Navy veteran, said he thought the change would be “very harmful to the morale and effectiveness of our military.”
President Barack Obama claimed the legislation would “help make our armed forces even stronger and more inclusive by allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve honestly and with integrity.”
For her part, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the amendment would “close the door on a fundamental unfairness” while Joe Solmonese, president of the homosexual advocacy group Human Rights Campaign (HRC), argued that supporters were “on the right side of history,” according to the Associated Press.
Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, claimed that with the amendment the “hard left of the Democratic Party” chose to put “a political constituency with a radical agenda - the homosexual lobby - ahead of the well-being of our men and women in uniform.”
He claimed that in the Thursday vote Speaker Pelosi and the House Majority “ignored the pleas of the military, including all four service heads -- those who lead the men and women who actually understand what it means to selflessly serve.”
Perkins said the Speaker’s action denied the request of military associations who asked that debate be postponed until the review of the policy was completed.
"Unfortunately, for our brave servicemen and women, the liberal majority chose to advance the social agenda of a radical special interest group without giving an opportunity for the military to finish its own study of the issue. Concern, not for the troops but for their own political hides, is moving the Democrats to act with such expediency.”
Tommy Sears, executive director of the Center for Military Readiness, also criticized the proposal at the political website National Review Online.
“If, on the eve of Memorial Day, they impose this social-engineering scheme on the nation’s armed forces, Democrats will have earned infamy rather than a legacy,” he charged.
“Despite the professional views of our highest-ranking military leaders, congressional Democrats and the White House have decided to defy this advice, and instead brazenly force a vote on repeal at the eleventh hour to pay off their gay-activist political allies.”
A report from the FRC recently analyzed the rates of sexual assault in the military and found homosexuals in the armed forces are three times more likely to commit sexual assault. It also reported that many of the discharges of homosexuals under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy “are actually for sexual assaults.”
Vatican City, May 29, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi has explained the reasons for Pope Benedict XVI's coming visit to the island of Cyprus on Saturday morning. The trip, which he said follows in a line with the Holy Father's journey to Malta earlier this year, also invites prayer for the Middle East.
“Why Cyprus?” was the topic of this week’s installment of the spokesman’s editorial Octava Dies, offered through the Vatican's Television Center, in response to the question many people have posed as to what could be behind the decision to meet with Middle Eastern bishops in Cyprus to help prepare them for their Synod in October. The answer to this question, said Lombardi, is not a difficult one.
"We have only to read the Acts of the Apostles, the account of the first steps of the proclamation the Gospel to the world after the Resurrection of Jesus," he said.
The island makes six appearances in the Bible, he explained. In addition to being the Apostle Barnabas' homeland to which he would return and evangelize, it was the site that first welcomed Paul, Mark and Barnabas on their first "missionary journey." Paul made it back several times, recalled Fr. Lombardi.
The last time he set foot on the island was as a prisoner on his way to Rome, the same trip during which he found himself shipwrecked on Malta. Pope Benedict XVI celebrated the 1,950th anniversary of this event with the Maltese during his trip to the country from April 17-18 of this year.
Referring to another fundamental reason for the Pope's decision to publish the working document for the coming synod in this particular place, Fr. Lombardi explained that as a historically strategic, and thus cultural and spiritual, crossroads of those traveling to and from the Holy Land, it has long represented a point of encounter between East and West, Asia and Europe.
While we might find it hard to believe that John Paul II never reached the site, he continued, "it is no surprise that Benedict XVI has gladly accepted the invitation to go there, as a visitor and a pilgrim, on a journey that's an ideal continuation of his visit to Malta, travelling along the Mediterranean towards the East.
It's a journey," he said, "that also recalls last year's fundamental voyage to the Holy Land itself."
Concluding the editorial, Fr. Lombardi said that from the Pope's trip to the nation, "We can't not look, pray and hope for an announcement and service of the Gospel that is a source of dialogue, ecclesial communion, human growth and peace for all, in a region that is dear to all believers, but which is still experiencing too much suffering and division."
The Holy Father's journey to Cyprus will take place from June 4-6.
Rome, Italy, May 29, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Friday marked the second day of a conference on Dietrich von Hildebrand's philosophy of love at Rome's Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. The day’s sessions were explained to CNA / EWTN News by event organizer and Hildebrand Legacy Project Director John H. Crosby.
Three presentations, a panel discussion and a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Raymond Burke were Friday's major events. In the two morning sessions, lectures were given by Crosby's father, John F. Crosby, and German theologian and philosopher Hanna-Barbara Gerl-Falkovitz.
Speaking with CNA / EWTN News Friday evening, the younger Crosby recalled his father's contribution as particularly valuable. "The opportunity to hear from that first generation of Hildebrand students is special," he said, "because they understand it from within."
The Legacy Project director also noted the "great importance" of Gerl-Falkovitz' inclusion in the conference, which brought her to the attention of English speakers and completed one of the objectives of the conference, connecting people from all over the world. Her "extraordinarily rich paper" was dedicated to Hildebrand's conception of "The Gift of Love."
The panel discussion offered the "most down-to-earth and concrete" session of the day, Crosby went on to say. In uniting the stories of three people, one a Protestant, the session "took what had been mountain-top experiences from the conference and it converted them into ordinary, lived experience."
He commented that "in the midst of these very high-level conversations, to have something that was both deep, but down-to-earth was wonderful, and the audience responded with great enthusiasm."
However, it was the "eminent" Robert Spaemann's late afternoon lecture on the "Paradoxes of Love" that received the biggest turnout of the first two days. The philosopher, whose work, Crosby noted, is also studied by Pope Benedict XVI, filled the 280-person auditorium to capacity.
In addition to these, the mid-afternoon timeslot breaking activities into six different classrooms saw 17 papers presented a wide variety of studies carried out in regard to Hildebrand's philosophy. Presenters were divided into categories in themes such as his ideas on dialogue and art and papers posing his thought together with that of St. Thomas Aquinas.
Another highlight of the conference Crosby to date was Friday's attendance of six members of the Hildebrand family, including a great-great grandson. He said there's "something Catholic about having the flesh and blood descendants of him here and to see them so excited to have his legacy honored is, of course, a great joy."
Completing the review of the day two, Crosby recounted the "beautiful, solemn occasion" of the final event, the conference Mass. Principal celebrant, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, focused his homily on the Sacred Heart of Jesus, quoting extensively from Hildebrand's thought on how much Jesus' human heart reveals about his divinity.
The Legacy Project director had told CNA / EWTN News during day one that Archbishop Burke has been closely involved with their efforts. Crosby said that he wasn't there to celebrate just by chance, rather he had been invited to say the Mass as an example of the Hildebrandian principle of living one's philosophy.
"Let's put it this way," said Crosby, "Alice von Hildebrand says of her husband, 'He had the soul of a lion,' and I think, also in his own way, you could say that Archbishop Burke also has the 'soul of a lion.'"
Commenting on the complete turnout of participants in the Mass, Crosby remarked that "it was remarkable to see so many people there ... caught up in the beauty of the event."
In regard to the conference as a whole, he said that the momentum following the second day was "great.”
“When you consider especially that ... day two of a three-day academic conference, you would expect people to peter-out a little bit but there were a few things along the way that allowed the conference to maintain its momentum."
The Hildebrand Legacy Project offers full videos of all plenary speaker's presentations on their website www.hildebrandlegacy.org, which will include the live feeds from the conference's final day.