Miami, Fla., Jun 15, 2010 (CNA) -
The story of Benny Abreu, a young woman from the Dominican Republic, has moved Floridians because of her testimony to motherly love. The Florida woman suffered from serious heart problems and preferred to die rather than abort the baby she was carrying.
Abreu, 25, graduated from Florida Central University at the beginning of May and decided to continue with her pregnancy, knowing that her serious heart condition could lead to complications.
According to Florida’s La Prensa newspaper, she never considered the possibility of abortion and saw her pregnancy as a blessing.
“The doctor told her she had to abort if she wanted to survive, but she told him no, that she could not kill her baby and that she was going to continue with her pregnancy,” said Martha Motley, the baby's grandmother.
On May 17, Abreu gave birth to her son but her condition worsened. She was transferred to Shands Hospital in Gainesville, which specializes in cardiology, where she died on May 30.
“I knew that she had a medical condition with her heart. I even took her to the doctor on several occasions, but it never entered my mind that she was going to die,” said Jovan Toliver, the baby’s father. “They (the doctors) said the baby should be delivered early and that she might suffer a little, but I never expected this to happen.”
Toliver added, “I have lost a part of me, but the only thing that sustains me is knowing that she never would have wanted me to leave her baby alone and for this reason I have to be strong.”
“She was very courageous and never doubted having her baby, even though as a result she had to pay the highest price,” Motley, who is Toliver's mother, told reporters. “I know that now she is in God’s hands and when she looks down she will see that the best part of her is with us and she’ll know that we will always take care of him.”
New York City, N.Y., Jun 15, 2010 (CNA) - In a previously published National Review Online article, a woman who chose to remain anonymous shared the painful story of her husband's pornography addiction and its detrimental effects on their marriage.
After citing various statistics on the nature and affects of pornography, she called on the scientific community at large to find and present a unified consensus on the results of porn addictions on family life.
In her article, the author described pornography as “a drug” that is thriving “under the ever-expanding banner of the First Amendment.” Citing authorities on the neurochemistry of addiction, she referenced data about pornography that “suggest its effects on the brain are strikingly similar to those of synthetic drugs.” She pointed to the fact that the pornography industry “produces more annual revenue — $97 billion worldwide in 2006 — than all of the leading technology companies combined.”
Sharing her own experiences, she described how her husband of 13 years, who had been her high-school sweetheart, had tried to fight his porn addiction for years. First exposed to pornography at age ten, he “viewed it regularly during high school and college.”
The effect on their marriage was devastating, the woman remembered. “For the past few years he had taken to sleeping in the basement, distancing himself from me, emotionally and physically,” she said. She recalled how her husband told her that he no longer felt love for her like he used to, and how he thought of her as the “mother of their children” rather than as a sexual partner.
One morning, at about 2 a.m., her husband called her from his office, intoxicated, to announce that he had “developed feelings” for another woman, whom she described as having “the physical qualities of a porn star.” Although he subsequently tried to break off the relationship with this woman, he went on to move out of the house a few months later, leaving his wife and five young children behind.
“In retrospect, I believe he succumbed to the allure of the secret fantasy life he had been indulging since his adolescence,” the author said in the March article.
Lamenting the fact that her experience is not unique, the author referenced a report released by the Witherspoon Institute this spring on “The Social Costs of Pornography.” Signed by more than 50 scholars from various professions, academic disciplines and political ideologies, the report details the effects of pornography on men, women and children.
Describing the report as “a stern warning to all married women to take seriously the signs of a sexual addiction,” she explained the four phases of the pornography addiction process, according to Dr. Victor Cline, a nationally renowned clinical psychologist who specializes in sexual addiction.
The first phase involves early and repeated exposure and indulgence in pornography. The second is a period of escalation, in which the addict requires more frequent exposure to get the same “high” and may begin to prefer porn to sexual intercourse. The third is desensitization, when behaviors once considered as repulsive or immoral come to be seen as normal. Finally is the “acting-out” phase, when the addict may breach the gap “from screen to real life” in acts of sexual deviancy that may include promiscuity, group sex, rape, sadomasochism, child molestation and extramarital affairs.
A 2004 study in Social Science Quarterly indicated that “Internet users who had an extramarital affair were 3.18 times more likely to have used online porn than Internet users who had not had an affair.”
The author spoke of the need for a more public scientific consensus on pornography's harmful effects on marriage.
She pointed to a 2002 meeting of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, in which surveyed lawyers said that “an obsessive interest in Internet pornography” was a significant factor in 56 percent of their divorce cases the prior year.
In addition, she referenced studies finding that “porn use creates the impression that aberrant sexual practices are more common than they really are, and that promiscuous behavior is normal.” She cited an analysis of 46 published studies showing that “regular exposure to pornography increased risk of sexual deviancy,” as well as neurological imaging via MRI scans of brain activity in a Princeton study indicating that “after viewing porn, men looked at women more as objects than as human beings.”
The author asked the scientific community to learn more about pornography addictions in order to prevent more families from being devastated by them. She called on Congress to “fund a long-term, multidisciplinary analysis of the effects of porn addiction on marriage and family life,” noting that the American Psychiatric Association is likely to add pornography addiction to their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual in coming months.
She then decried the fact that most health-insurance companies provide little or no coverage to treat porn addictions and that “the National Institutes of Health are granted billions of taxpayer dollars for research on a wide variety of public-health problems, and yet pornography addiction is not among them.”
“The fact is that the moral and financial needs of couples struggling with this form of addiction will remain unaddressed in a country that views pornography use as a constitutional right,” she observed.
Looking back at her own marriage, the author expresses regret that she was not able to understand what her husband had been experiencing and act to help him. “If anything is clear to me, it is this: We must learn more about this scourge and its effects on families,” she said.
Calling to mind the growing number of men and women feeling the effects of pornography in their lives, she concluded, “It is our obligation as a nation to pursue the truth for their sake, no matter how inconvenient for some the verdict may be.”
Harrisburg, Pa., Jun 15, 2010 (CNA) - A former Protestant pastor who is a married father of eight was ordained a Catholic priest on Saturday for the Diocese of Harrisburg.
The newly ordained Fr. Paul Shenck was raised Jewish and baptized a Christian when he was 16 years old. In 1994 he left the New Covenant Tabernacle, an evangelical church he founded, and then became a pastor in western New York for the Reformed Episcopal Church. He entered the Catholic Church in 2004.
He and his wife Rebecca have been married for 33 years.
While Latin-rite Catholic priests are ordinarily required to be celibates, a special provision instituted in 1980 by Pope John Paul II allows the ordination of married men in certain cases. Fr. Shenck is the Diocese of Harrisburg’s first married priest.
The new priest celebrated his first Mass with his mother at St. Francis Home in Williamsville, Penn. He was ordained by Bishop Victor Galeone of St. Augustine, Fla. because the diocese’s former bishop Kevin C. Rhoades had been moved to the Diocese of Ft. Wayne-South Bend in Indiana.
Previously, Fr. Shenck served as the executive vice president of the American Center for Law and Justice. He moved to Baltimore in 1997 and opened the National Pro-Life Center on Capitol Hill.
He is presently chairman of the National Pro-life Center and director of the Respect Life Office for the Diocese of Harrisburg.
Washington D.C., Jun 15, 2010 (CNA) -
Critically examining Christopher West’s presentation of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, chastity speaker Dawn Eden has said that West conveys “elements of truth.” However, West’s demand that couples have perfect chastity before marriage promotes a kind of “Puritanism” that discourages Catholics from dating, courtship and continence.
Eden, the author of the book “The Thrill of the Chaste,” gave her critique in a master’s thesis at the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. She delivered a speech on her thesis there on May 19, posting the speech’s text on her blog “The Dawn Patrol.”
The chastity speaker explained that she chose the topic because it involves the promotion of the Catholic vision of marriage and family, issues “close to my heart.” She said the subject was also “highly topical” because of recent public debate about West’s work conducted by Catholic theologians and scholars.
Her thesis tried to view the Theology of the Body through the “hermeneutic of continuity,” a view that sees the Catholic Church after the Second Vatican Council as continuous with the pre-Vatican II Church.
While West tries to undermine the idea that the Church has a negative view of sex, in Eden’s view he fuels another myth that the Church is fundamentally different after Vatican II. She cited West’s comments that the Theology of the Body is “revolutionary” because previous generations of Christians grew up under a “repressive approach” to sexual matters.
“His praise of Pope John Paul II is predicated on the repeated assumption, sometimes explicit, that the pre-conciliar Church was stodgy and prudish,” Eden argued. “While he no doubt intends to promote charity and unity, his approach effectively encourages division and disdain for our past.”
Saying that West presents himself as the “definitive interpreter” of John Paul II’s teachings, she worried some of his promotional material implies that the Christian Creed is something to be viewed “in light of the theology of the body, rather than vice versa.”
Eden acknowledged certain “elements of truth” in West’s interpretations. The liturgy is spousal “in a certain sense” and the sexual union of spouses can also be said to image Trinitarian love also “in a certain sense.”
However, she claimed West teaches that the true message of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body is that sexual desire “necessarily mediates desire for God.” He risks sexualizing Christianity rather than Christianizing sexuality, she warned.
In Eden’s view, West’s upbringing in the Mother of God Community formed his view of a “normative” Catholic upbringing. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the leaders of the Maryland-based group exercised “puritanical control” over members’ lives, including their dating.
In 1995 Cardinal James Hickey, the Archbishop of Washington, ordered reforms to correct its abuses. This came after West spent his late teens and early 20s living with his family in the Catholic community, which he later described as a “cult.”
Eden suggested that West’s experiences bear on his interpretation of John Paul II’s teachings on continence. Because in his upbringing engaged couples were barred from spending time alone together, she said it was understandable he wishes to show how Catholic teaching permits more latitude.
“Unfortunately, in his desire to counter puritanical attitudes, West ends up promoting an ideal that has the net effect of promoting Puritanism,” Eden argued. “West says that not only must an engaged couple be continent, they must possess the virtue of perfect chastity prior to marriage. That is, they should have no fear of being alone together, because they should have no lust for one another.”
Eden noted West’s comment in a 2009 talk that there is no “magic trick” and no “waving at the wand at the altar, that suddenly makes your sexual behavior beautiful, true, good, lovely, and pure."
According to Eden, this is wrong because it implies that continence is an insufficient preparation for marriage and because it claims that the sacrament of marriage “in no way affects the development of virtue.”
Catholic teaching in fact recognizes that the grace of marriage is what enables couples to transform their “imperfect virtue” of continence into the “perfect virtue of chastity,” explained Eden. She also quoted St. Paul’s words that all that is a required of an engaged couple is that they control themselves “in holiness and honor.”
“By raising the bar so high, to the point where any feeling of lust is proof that one is not ready for marriage, West is effectively promoting the very angelism that he decries,” Eden commented. “In an age when Catholics—along with singles in general—are marrying later and later, such a misinterpretation of Church teaching has real pastoral implications.”
She said twice during her lectures someone has asked her why Catholics are so afraid to date. Others have told her some Catholics who study the Theology of the Body think they can’t date before marriage.
“Young Catholics who are told that they are not ready to marry until they have not only continence, but perfect chastity, are simply avoiding the rituals of courtship,” Eden commented.
By way of suggesting positive corrections, Eden noted that John Paul II said catechesis on the Theology of the Body is incomplete without addressing “the problem of suffering and death.” A vision of married life should show both how spouses share in the Trinitarian communion and how they similarly share in Christ’s sufferings on the Cross.
Denver, Colo., Jun 15, 2010 (CNA) - On Monday, the Catholic Health Association (CHA) and its president, Sister Carol Keehan, opened the second day of its annual summit with a video featuring praises from President Barack Obama and Senator Bob Casey Jr. for the organization's support to the health care bill signed into law by the U.S. president on March 23.
Some 800 participants at the 2010 Catholic Health Assembly, held this year at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Denver, opened the day with a health reform video titled “I Can't Wait."
The video tries to provide, in less than 10 minutes, doctrinal and historic justification to CHA's controversial support to the health care bill, despite the opposition of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB.)
The video collects pro-health care reform statements from several top leaders at Catholic hospitals and former CHA presidents. It also features Democrat Senator Robert Casey of Pennsylvania.
“I can say without any hesitation that if the Catholic Health Association were not involved in this effort, it’s highly likely we wouldn’t be able to pass the bill,” Sen. Casey says in the video.
Later, Casey is featured again saying: “It was the right thing to do to pass this legislation ... It’s pro-life legislation, and we’re going to continue to call upon the Catholic Health Association for work as we implement this legislation, not just in the near term but over time.”
The video closes with a greeting from President Obama, who thanks “everybody at the Catholic Health Association for your help and courage in passing health care reform, a major victory for our nation, for human dignity, and for the most vulnerable among us.”
“I especially want to thank Sr. Carol Keehan for the extraordinary leadership she’s shown in advancing our national discussion. I know your ministry has been working for decades to make sure that everyone can afford quality health care.”
“Now, thanks to your efforts, the people in your ‘I Can’t Wait’ video won’t be waiting much longer,” President Obama adds in the video.
“Your work, your passion, your commitment helped make the difference, and you did so in a way that protects your long-standing beliefs and the beliefs of so many others across the country. On behalf of my administration and Americans everywhere, I want to say thank you. God bless you, and God bless America;” Obama says upon closing.
The video does not feature any U.S. Catholic bishop or USCCB spokesperson, although the opening Mass for the CHA assembly was presided over by Bishop Robert Lynch from St. Petersburg, Florida.
The USCCB strongly opposed the legislation on grounds that it will provide federal money to perform abortions for the first time in U.S. history.
Moreover, on May 21, the bishops clearly denied that “the divergence between the Catholic Conference and Catholic organizations, including the Catholic Health Association, represents merely a difference of analysis or strategy. Rather, for whatever good will was intended, it represented a fundamental disagreement, not just with our staff as some maintain, but with the Bishops themselves. As such it has resulted in confusion and a wound to Catholic unity.”
The USCCB spring “study meeting” is taking place this same week in St Petersburg.
After the fallout of the health care reform, the USCCB established an ad hoc Health Care Concerns Committee, headed by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana.
The committee should produce a report on the consequences of CHA openly opposing the Catholic bishops while claiming to represent Catholic doctrine. The report will likely be presented during the bishops' meeting.
Washington D.C., Jun 15, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - On Tuesday, Catholic University of America announced that Boston College law school dean, John H. Garvey, will be its new president.
Garvey, a 61-year-old father of five who has served as dean of the Boston College Law School since 1999, will replace Fr. David M. O'Connell, who was recently appointed as Coadjutor Bishop of Trenton, New Jersey.
According to his Boston College biography, the new Catholic University president attended Notre Dame in 1970 and law school at Harvard in 1974. He later served as assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General during Ronald Reagan's administration and taught at various schools before coming to Boston College in 1999. At the age of 34, Garvey was elected to the American Law Institute.
Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, who chairs the university's board of trustees and led the search for the new president, told the Washington Post on Tuesday that he fully expects Garvey to continue the work of reclaiming the Catholic identity of the university, despite the general surprise over the school choosing a layman as leader.
“The board would have seen a lot of advantages to having a priest be the president, but in the end the board asked the search committee to put forward the best candidates,” Archbishop Vigneron explained.
The Detroit archbishop then praised the newly elected president for his legal expertise and experience.
“I'm very grateful that he's an accomplished scholar, and I think he brings from his legal scholarship a lot of wisdom about the church's place in contemporary society,” the prelate noted.
“He's a very thoughtful man, very measured. He tries to bring light and insight to matters about which there's a lot of argument.”
Bogotá, Colombia, Jun 15, 2010 (CNA) - Commenting on the news that General Luis Mendieta was freed last weekend by the Colombian army after 12 years of captivity by a leftist guerrilla group, his wife asserted that “God heard” her prayers for his release.
Speaking on Colombian radio, she said, “I am the happiest woman in the world. I’m so happy, I don’t know what to do. Now is the time to hug him and I am going to celebrate his birthday with him. God heard my prayers. Thank God for this moment.”
In his first statements after being liberated, General Mendieta thanked President Alvaro Uribe for the rescue operation, the military and the media for supporting the liberation of hostages in Colombia. “May God repay you for this outcome,” he said.
The 53 year-old general was captured in 1998 by the leftist guerrilla group, FARC – Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia – during a siege of the eastern provincial capital of Mitu, reported the Boston Globe on Tuesday.
“Now that I have returned there are many things about Colombia, the world, everything, that I don’t know about, as I’ve spent 12 years with no intellectual stimulus,” the general said with emotion.
“I want to listen to the news, to commentary; I want to hear the voice of the people of the world because we heard no voices in the jungle. I want to hear from you, my beloved wife, from you, by beloved son, from you my beloved daughter. I want to hear from the entire world,” he added.
General Mendieta was liberated with Colonel Enrique Murillo, Sergeant Arbey Delgado Agote and Colonel William Donato, who all arrived in Bogota on a military plane from the province of Guaviare, where the rescue operation took place.
Mexico City, Mexico, Jun 15, 2010 (CNA) - Officials in the Mexican city of Queretaro decided this week to take down five ads that were placed on billboards around the city as part of a campaign by “Catholics for a Free Choice” (CFC) attempting to assert that abortion is not punishable by excommunication.
Bishop Felipe Arizmendi of San Cristobal de Las Casas warned that CFC has a biased interpretation of canon 1323 of the Code of Canon Law, which “contains a series of mitigating factors that exonerate not the sin but the penalty imposed by ecclesial legislation.”
“Does this canon exempt one from the sin of abortion? No,” the bishop clarified. “When it is freely and consciously carried out, abortion is an intrinsically evil act; it is evil in itself, as it is depriving life from a human being who is innocent and defenseless and is not an unjust aggressor.”
“There can be an exemption from the penalty of excommunication, but not from sin,” he explained.
Catholics for a Free Choice has reportedly been expanding its pro-abortion initiatives across Mexico in the cities of Jalisco, Baja California, Campeche, Chiapas, Colima, Guanajuato, Morelos, Oaxaca and Queretaro.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jun 15, 2010 (CNA) - Bishop Juan Martinez of Posadas in Argentina, reiterated this week that the Church’s opposition to proposals to reform Argentinean law to allow for same-sex “marriage” is not a fundamentalist position that rejects people because of their sexual orientation.
Rather, he underscored, “Properly speaking, marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.”
In a radio interview, the bishop added, “Of course we wish to help everybody in a spirit of mercy and closeness. But the issue of marriage and adoption by same-sex couples is what we are reflecting on.”
On the feast of Corpus Christi on June 6, Bishop Martinez expressed his concern for proposals to allow same-sex marriage in the country, saying it would have serious consequences on families, marriages, and children, “who deserve to have a mother and a father.”
He called on lawmakers to address these issues with responsibility and commitment, as their decisions would be affecting the present and the future of the country.
Rome, Italy, Jun 15, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The funeral Mass for Bishop Luigi Padovese, Apostolic Vicar of the Anatolia and President of the Bishops’ Conference of Turkey, was celebrated Tuesday morning at the Cathedral of Milan. The prelate was killed on June 3 as he prepared to accompany the Pope on his apostolic visit to Cyrpus.
Archbishop Edmond Farhat, who ordained Bishop Padovese on November 7, 2004, represented the Holy See at the Mass. Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi of Milan, who presided at the funeral and read a message from Pope Benedict.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi commented on the Mass, saying, “The Pope expressed his closeness and sorrow during his trip to Cyprus and continues to follow the story. The Secretary of State respects the competency of the Turkish justice system, which has assumed the task of investigating the murder.”
Yesterday the Holy Father named Archbishop Ruggero Franceschini of Izmir the new Apostolic Administrator of Anatolia.
After his appointment, the archbishop acknowledged his new mission would be “very difficult, as the Christian community has been shaken, but it is a young Christian community, and therefore, they are anxious to overcome this.”
“I spoke with young people and they are somewhat divided … But we will not be discouraged and we’ll do everything we can. I am convinced that we need to raise up this small and beautiful community, which wants to live and survive,” he told Vatican Radio.
The archbishop said the community of Anatolia was very angry and upset at the loss of their pastor, and that it was difficult to look to the future.
He noted that Bishop Padovese was very generous and opened his doors to others. He was not a wall, he was an open door. He worked with local officials to get Christian minorities recognized.”
“Bishop Padovese will be remembered as a good person, who continuously opened his arms to welcome everyone. Maybe he wasn’t prudent, but its hard to tell a bishop to be prudent!” he said.
“When someone is moved by apostolic zeal, he always moves forward, with a very open spirit, with the desire of always doing good. The Lord then does the rest,” Archbishop Franceschini said.
Washington D.C., Jun 15, 2010 (CNA) - Following Governor Charlie Crist’s veto of a bill which would require ultrasounds to prior to first trimester abortions, the Political Action Committee (PAC) of the Family Research Council (FRC) has launched a statewide radio campaign urging Floridians to stop Crist.
Last week, Gov. Crist, who recently left his party and removed the pro-life section of his website, vetoed a bill requiring an ultrasound to be performed before all first trimester abortions.
“This bill places an inappropriate burden on women seeking to terminate a pregnancy,” Gov. Crist stated in his veto announcement.
“Individuals hold strong personal views on the issue of life, as do I,” he continued. “However, personal views should not result in laws that unwisely expand the role of government and coerce people to obtain medical tests or procedures that are not medically necessary.”Women would have had the option to opt out of viewing the images of their live child prior to the abortion.
The bill also would have allowed Florida to opt out of using federal funds for abortion under the new health care law.
The FRC Action PAC ad, which will air across Florida on 74 stations beginning next week, describes Crist’s recent actions: “Governor Charlie Crist used to claim to be pro-life,” it says. “Now he's just pro-Crist. Since leaving his party he's decided he'd rather be pro-abortion, removing the pro-life section from his website and vetoing a bill that would allow women to see an ultrasound of their child before having an abortion."