Washington D.C., Jul 16, 2010 (CNA) - Responding to reports that new federal high-risk insurance pool programs are covering abortions, the Catholic Health Association (CHA) said it would not comment on the issue. The organization referred inquiries to the federal government.
The CHA backed recent federal health care legislation over the objection of the U.S. Catholic bishops and other pro-life groups who said its abortion funding restrictions were insufficient. CHA president Sr. Carol Keehan also received one of the pens President Barack Obama used to sign the bill.
In a Thursday phone call, CNA spoke with Fred Caesar, special assistant to Sr. Keehan.
Asked CHA’s reaction to claims that high-risk insurance pools in Pennsylvania and New Mexico are covering abortions, Caesar referred CNA to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) statement on the issue.
When asked if he could comment on several questions, including what CHA will do if it is proven that abortion funding restrictions are not airtight, Caesar said he could not.
“We’ll pass,” he said.
The National Right to Life Committee has reported that Pennsylvania’s high-risk insurance pool program, created by the federal health care legislation passed earlier this year, says that it does not cover “elective abortions.” However, “elective abortion” is not defined and Pennsylvania law allows legal abortion if a physician believes that is “necessary” based on “all factors (physical, emotional, psychological, familial and the woman's age) relevant to the well-being of the woman.”
The New Mexico Medical Insurance Pool initially reported it would cover “elective termination of pregnancy.” This policy was changed following media attention.
HHS issued a statement on the issue saying “abortions will not be covered in the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan except in the cases of rape or incest, or where the life of the woman would be endangered.”
New Dehli, India, Jul 16, 2010 (CNA) - An “unexpected” government order to expel a long-serving Catholic missionary priest from India caused dismay and protest among Catholics in the region he has served.
Fr. Jim Borst, a Mill Hill missionary originally from the Netherlands, has worked in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir since 1963.
The Foreigners Registration Office has told him to leave India by the end of July, the Catholic bishops of India's news service reports.
Bishop Peter Celestine Elampassery of Jammu-Sringar said the order was “unexpected” and the Church will make “all efforts” to have the order canceled.
Catholics in the state want Fr. Borst to “stay in Kashmir and be buried here,” the bishop reported, adding that Church officials have already approached the government to explain that the missionary is present “to work for the poor.”
Mill Hill missionaries pioneered education and health care in the state in the early 19th century.
The missionary is “unfazed by the order and is hopeful he can continue” his work, Bishop Elampassery told UCA News.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) said the government’s action was “myopic.”
Fr. Borst is principal of the Good Shepherd School in Kashmir Valley. Some Muslim groups have accused him of using the school as a cover for converting people.
The bishop dismissed the charge as “baseless,” adding that the priest has been “very careful” about his actions since 2004, when he was “threatened with a similar order.”
According to the Indian bishops' conference, Jammu and Kashmir is India’s only Muslim-majority state.
Cambridge, England, Jul 16, 2010 (CNA) - A paralyzed man in England who had once said he would never want to be kept alive were he severely disabled narrowly escaped death when doctors were about to withdraw treatment. Though previously unresponsive and in a “very bleak” condition, he communicated that he wanted to continue to live.
Richard Rudd was paralyzed and brain damaged after being injured in a motorcycle accident last October and suffering subsequent medical complications. Treated in Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, England his family thought they knew he would not want to live.
“We said that knowing Richard, there was no way in a million years that he would want to live with his injuries,” his father told the Daily Telegraph. Rudd had told his daughter that if he suffered a severe injury in an accident like a car crash, he “wouldn’t want to go on,” Rudd’s father reported.
Rudd’s father gave permission for treatment to be withdrawn. As hospital staff gathered around Rudd’s bed, they noticed he was able to blink his eyes for the first time in several weeks.
The doctors asked Rudd three times whether he wanted to continue to live. He blinked “yes” in reply to each of their three questions.
“… his doctor asked him three times if he wished treatment to continue, and each time he moved his eyes to the left, the signal for 'yes’,” Rudd’s father reported.
Rudd was not “brain dead” but had been aware of his situation, the Telegraph reported. In his October 23 accident, a car pulled in front of his motorcycle and the collision threw him 20 feet into a ditch. He could still talk and move his arms immediately after the crash, but after complications in surgery he was brain damaged and completely paralyzed.
“He had severe injuries to his brain and we could not communicate with him. The outcome was thought to be very bleak indeed,” Prof. David Menon, who was in charge of Rudd’s care, told the Telegraph.
“In fact, Richard was in a locked in state where people have relatively normal cognitive processes in the brain but are only able to allow you to know about that by movement of the eyes or eyelids,” he continued, saying “everything changed” when Rudd showed voluntary eye movement.
Though Rudd will require round-the-clock medical care for the rest of his life, he hopes to learn to communicate using his tongue, eyes and facial muscles.
Rudd has two daughters, 18-year-old Charlotte and 14-year-old Bethan.
“His daughters are certainly glad that he's alive. They joke around in front of him, he smiles and that lifts him for ages,” Rudd’s father said. He added that Rudd’s long-term memory is intact and he can make facial expressions, “but physically he’s gone.”
“It might not be the same Richard that we started out with, but at least he's still coping because he still smiles when we talk about the past or when he sees his children.”
Rudd’s father said he was glad his son has been given “the chance to survive and to have a say.”
The Christian Institute, based in the U.K., noted that Rudd’s story is echoed in many other severely ill or disabled people who thought they wanted to die but changed their minds.
Citing David Jeffrey’s book “Against Physician Assisted Suicide,” the institute recounted the story of a former army instructor who was being treated for terminal cancer and was determined to commit suicide.
After a discussion with the doctor, it was found that he missed the army. He was subsequently taken to watch a parade of young recruits, where a party had been arranged in his honor.
“His life was transformed,” Jeffrey said, according to The Christian Institute. “He had a purpose and his demeanor completely changed. He died two weeks later, comfortably. People’s lives always have that potential. Even in the midst of suffering there can be change.
“You just don’t know what will happen.”
Alison Davis, national coordinator of the group No Less Human, was born with severe spina bifida and is dependent on a wheelchair. Often in extreme pain for hours at a time, for many years she wanted to commit suicide.
“If euthanasia had been legal, I would certainly have requested it and I wouldn’t be here now,” she has remarked, according to The Christian Institute.
After several suicide attempts were stopped by her friends, she began to change her mind. She met with disabled children she had been sponsoring through a charity, an experience which led her to think “I want to live.”
“I’ll always be grateful to the friends who saved my life (though I wasn’t at the time). And I’m especially thankful there was no possibility of persuading my doctors to legally help me die,” Davis said. She now believes that disabled people deserve “the same kind of help routinely given” to those who feel suicidal but do not have a physical condition.
Caracas, Venezuela, Jul 16, 2010 (CNA) -
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has once again lashed out at the Catholic Church, this time against Pope Benedict XVI, saying, “He is not an ambassador of Christ.” “Christ,” he asserted, “is in the people.”
“Christ doesn’t need any ambassadors,” Chavez said, announcing that the the relationship between Venezuela and the Holy See would be reviewed. “We must review those accords, with all due respect to the Vatican State and to the Pope, who is no ambassador of Christ on Earth, as they say.”
“Christ is in the people and in those who fight for the justice of the liberation of the meek, that’s where Christ is - the true Christ, Our Father, the liberator of the poor on Earth, the supreme example of sacrifice for those who suffer,” Chavez went on.
The Venezuelan leader also launched new insults against the Archbishop of Caracas, Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino. “I called you a 'Neanderthal.' Let me say it again: Neanderthal!” He also called the Venezuelan bishops “a bunch of cavemen, in case you didn’t get it.”
The latest criticisms from Chavez came during a meeting with Socialist party leaders on the response from the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference to the president’s attacks on Cardinal Urosa.
Vatican City, Jul 16, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -
An annual meeting of the Populorum Progressio Foundation dedicated to allotting funds to projects for vulnerable people across Latin America and the Caribbean will take place later this month. During the meeting, a substantial donation will be made in the Pope's name for the rebuilding of a Haitian school damaged in January's earthquake.
The administrative council of the Populorum Progressio Foundation, formed of Catholic prelates from across Latin America and representatives of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum," will meet this year in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic from July 20-23.
During what is their first annual meeting in a Caribbean nation, they will be discussing the allocation of funds destined to finance projects that aid indigenous, mestizo and African-American laborers in the Caribbean and throughout Latin America.
According to the communique released by "Cor Unum" regarding the event, this year's encounter carries on the tradition of meeting in areas that permit "direct contact with the concrete reality of the various areas of the continent and, at the same time, make the activities of the Foundation in particular churches known."
At the meeting, 230 projects from 20 different countries from Mexico to Bolivia, Brazil and the Antilles will be presented. Besides paperwork, the group will visit Church-run aid camps in Haiti and will celebrate Mass with the local Church community.
Also on that day, they will meet with representatives from humanitarian aid organizations and visit Caritas' national headquarters, where the president of “Cor Unum,” Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, will make a $250,000 donation on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI towards rebuilding St. Francis de Sales school in Port-au-Prince. The school was destroyed in the devastating earthquake last January.
The statement also announced that a second donation of an unspecified amount will be delivered in the Holy Father's name to the local chapter of Caritas that same evening.
Since its creation in 1992, the Populorum Progressio Foundation has worked to aid "integral development" in the poorest of areas through projects in the areas of production, communal infrastructure, education, health and construction.
Vatican City, Jul 16, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - On Wednesday, Vatican Radio director Fr. Federico Lombardi countered a seemingly incriminating study that reports emission towers from the Holy See's radio station have damaged nearby residents' health. The Vatican spokesman said that a second study addressing the matter will soon be presented to the court.
Fr. Lombardi's message came after local Italian media published the results of a report presented in an ongoing court case addressing a higher incidence of leukemia in children in areas close to a Vatican Radio transmission center just kilometers from Rome.
Noting his surprise that the as yet unreleased court document had been picked up in the press, he said that Vatican Radio would soon be presenting the "considerations and counter-deductions" of their own expert counselors in the case.
Fr. Lombardi said that, as far as they know, no causal connection such as that shown in the leaked report has ever been published in international scientific literature, so the hypothesis in the report should not be regarded as proven.
Turning to its historical record, he said that the Holy See's radio station has "always observed the international regulations on electromagnetic emissions" and, since 2001, has exceeded Italian norms in terms of restrictions.
Vatican Radio shares the space at the area in question, just northwest of Rome, with Italian Navy Radar installations, which are also being examined in the investigation.
Canary Islands, Jul 16, 2010 (CNA) -
Spanish soccer star David Silva, who played on the nation's winning World Cup team is spending the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel thanking her for the victory last Sunday in South Africa.
The midfielder, who is from the Canary Islands, promised he would participate in the celebrations honoring Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the patroness of his hometown of Arguineguin.
Silva’s grandmother told reporters the family has a great devotion to Our Lady and that they were very “nervous” during the World Cup final. So much so, she said, that she could not watch the end. “I just held on to Our Lady of Mount Carmel … Who would have thought that when this 14 year-old boy who I raised left my home he would achieve this? I am so proud,” she added.
Upon arriving in his home town, Silva told reporters he wanted to join the Marian festivities, as has always been his custom.
At the beginning of July, celebrations in honor of Our Lady began taking place on the islands. In Silva’s hometown of Arguineguin there is a long procession through the streets, which are covered in rugs made especially for the occasion.
Rome, Italy, Jul 16, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Following Thursday's announcement from the Vatican updating the procedures of investigation and punishment of the most serious sins, including sexual abuse of minors and attempted women's ordination, several European bishops' conferences welcomed the changes.
The revised norms set in concrete what has been general practice within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) for the last nine years for "delicta graviora," or the most serious sins within the Church. Among the modifications was the extension of the statute of limitations from 10 to 20 years from the alleged victim's 18th birthday, the condemnation of pedophile pornagraphy as a serious sin and the consideration of the mentally disadvantaged as on a par with the abuse of minors by clergy.
In a statement to Italy's SIR news, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, president of the German bishops, said he was "grateful" for the updated norms, especially for the fact that through them the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) delivered a "clear signal" for greater information and punishment in cases of sexual abuse of minors.
"The Congregation's new document represents an unambiguous witness in favor of the victims of faults and crimes in the ecclesiastic ambit," he said.
The spokesman for the Bishops of Belgium said that they find the new norms "'adequate' to respond even more effectively" to sexual abuses that take place within the Church.
In a statement released by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, a spokesman said that the bishops "welcome" the publication of the norms, noting that they "clearly demonstrate the Church’s concern for the safeguarding of children and all vulnerable people.”
Also making a statement was Swiss bishops' secretary general Msgr. Felix Gmur, who welcomed the norms saying that the conference feels "supported in its efforts to combat all forms of sexual aggression decisively."
Calling the norms "adequate and more stringent," he said that "sexual violence is a delict (sin) and sexual violence against children is a particularly abominable delict. In the Church there cannot be a place for these things."
Washington D.C., Jul 16, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the chairman of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, welcomed a statement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that declared federal funds will not be used to cover elective abortions in the new high-risk insurance pools that are beginning to be implemented in some states. At the same time, he said that the U.S. bishops were “gravely concerned” that some states had planned to cover elective abortions with federal money.
Earlier this week, New Mexico and Pennsylvania rolled out Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plans (PCIP) programs which drew on federal funds to subsidize insurance plans for those who did not have insurance because of pre-existing conditions.
Cardinal DiNardo explained in his statement that the program introduced in Pennsylvania, “while purporting not to fund ‘elective’ abortions, made clear in its text that all abortions that satisfy the requirements of certain Pennsylvania statutes (i.e., all abortions that are not illegal in that state) would be covered, and reimbursed, with a combination of private premiums and federal funds drawn from the U.S. Treasury.”
The New Mexico program stated in its original plan that it would cover elective abortions. Critics alleged that the plans demonstrated the duplicity of those who supported the health care bill and the uselessness of Obama’s executive order, which said that besides the exceptions outlined by the Hyde Amendment, the federal government would not fund abortions in community health centers or insurance exchanges.
Following media inquiries and a public outcry from pro-life activists, New Mexico announced that it had changed the policy and would not cover elective abortions with its PCIP Program.
On the evening of July 14, HHS also released a statement which declared that “in Pennsylvania and in all other states abortions will not be covered in the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) except in the cases of rape or incest, or where the life of the woman would be endangered.” They also declared that their policy “is the same for both state and federally-run PCIP programs.”
Cardinal DiNardo welcomed the HHS statement, but said that the U.S. bishops were still “gravely concerned” because “it was not issued until after some states had announced that pro-abortion health plans were approved and had begun to enroll patients.”
The statement, which only applies to PCIPs, “illustrates once again the need for Congress to enact legislation clearly stating once and for all that funds appropriated by PPACA will not pay for abortions or for insurance coverage that includes abortion,” the cardinal said.
Cardinal DiNardo also explained that the legislation he is calling for would be similar to the Hyde Amendment and would ensure that “the issue of government involvement in the taking of innocent human life” would not fluctuate under the whim or “the changeable discretion of executive officials.” Nor would it “depend on the continued vigilance of pro-life advocates,” he pointed out.
He concluded by affirming the bishops’ support for health care coverage that meets Americans needs, respects their dignity, and does not destroy life. “It is vitally important for people with serious medical conditions who have been unable to obtain coverage to receive the help offered by programs such as this – and for them to be assured that their coverage will be life-affirming, not life-threatening.”
Bogotá, Colombia, Jul 16, 2010 (CNA) - A top health official in Colombia said this week that three abortion clinics in the capital city of Bogota have been closed, with the latest case involving the trafficking of children.
The district Secretary of Health, Hector Zambrano told Colombian radio that the latest clinic, shut down last weekend, “was not equipped to provide ultrasounds,” and “was hiding illicit activity such as illegal abortions and trafficking of minors.”
He added that the clinic also “employed unlicensed medical personnel.”
Zambrano noted that so far this year, officials have closed down three clinics, thanks to help from nearby residents.
In 2006, Colombia’s Constitutional Court legalized abortion in the country allowing it in three cases: rape, fetal deformation or to save the life of the mother.
Vatican City, Jul 16, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano (LOR) will publish an article tomorrow in which it asserts that with the approval of homosexual "marriage" by the Argentinean senate, the future of the family in the country is "threatened." The people who suffer most from its passage, said one Argentinean archbishop, are children.
With a vote of 33-27 on Wednesday, the senate passed legislation which modifies civil law to read that marriage is between "parties united in marriage," and grant them equal standing with heterosexual couples in adoption programs.
Archbishop of Buenos Aires Jorge Mario Bergoglio was quoted by the Vatican paper as saying that the decision to legalize same-sex "marriage" represents "a war against God."
He and the bishops of Argentina, the article says, have repeated "many times" that same-sex unions "do not possess the biological and anthropological elements that are proper of marriage and of family. In this type of union the conjugal dimension and the openness to the transmission of life are lacking."
The Vatican paper also quoted the words of the Archbishop of San Juan de Cuyo, Alfonso Rogelio Delgado Evers, who said that the work for the dignity of people, families and children must continue. "We need to explain to the citizens that there is a type of aggression and discrimination towards normal people in this action."
Marriage between a man and a woman to produce and take care of life "is not at all comparable to other types of union," he said. "The politicians who approved this law did not take in to account and did not think about protecting the most vulnerable people: children."
LOR reported that protests against the new law are being held by Catholics across Argentina.
Madrid, Spain, Jul 16, 2010 (CNA/Europa Press) - The group of Cuban political prisoners who were released and sent to Spain as a result of the mediation of the Catholic Church called on the Raul Castro regime Thursday to immediately release those dissidents who refuse to be “deported” to Spain and desire to remain in Cuba to defend their ideas.
“The Cuban government has released those of us who have chosen exile,” said journalist Ricardo Gonzalez Alfonso during a press conference in Madrid. “It’s much easier to free those who want to stay,” he added. “All you have to do is open the prison doors.”
“If the intention is to release them all, what are they waiting for?” he asked. Alfonso questioned whether Castro’s intention is to use these political prisoners as “hostages” or pawns for future deals.
Alfonso said the government should release these political prisoners “at once” and not within three or four months, as was promised to Cardinal Jaime Ortega during negotiations.
Julio Cesar Galvez, another dissident who arrived in Madrid this week, echoed Gonzalez Alfonso's sentiments and said the eventual release of the prisoners in Cuba should also mean they will be free to move about the country and find work, without harassment from state security agents. “May those who want to stay there be freed,” he said.
Galvez read a statement from the nine dissidents in Madrid pledging their commitment to “continue the fight for the release of all the prisoners” and for “a free and democratic Cuba.” “If we defended our rights when it was impossible to speak up, it would absurd to give up the fight now that we have much more favorable conditions,” he said.
Omar Rodriguez Saludes, another of the dissidents sent to Spain, called on the Cuban government to first release those prisoners who are sick among the 52 it has promised to free, citing the particular cases of Efren Fernandez and Guido Sigler Amaya.
Julio Cesar Galvez also took the occasion to denounce the terrible prison conditions in Cuba, where sometimes as many as 40 prisoners share a cell infested with rats, cockroaches and other pests. They are often fed nothing more than water boiled with plantain peels.
Not only are the political prisoners subject to such harsh conditions, so are common criminals are as well. Many of them suffer from dengue fever and tuberculosis. Normando Hernandez Gonzalez, another freed dissident, said prison officials ignore the pleas of those who have fallen ill, leading many to fall into despair and commit self-inflicted wounds in order to gain the medical attention they need.
For this reason, Omar Rodriguez demanded the Cuban government allow the U.N. to visit prisons on the island and assess their conditions. Julio Cesar Galvez went even further and said U.N. inspectors should be allowed in “to show what is happening inside Cuba.”
Rodriguez also quoted a famous statement by Fidel Castro—“Ideas cannot be killed”—and said, “Neither can ideas be kidnapped or exiled, that is our message to the Cuban government.”
Peoria, Ill., Jul 16, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Diocese of Peoria has scheduled a meeting with officials from the University of Illinois to discuss the termination of adjunct professor Dr. Kenneth Howell. The diocese said it did not respond to the termination sooner because it wanted to first meet with university officials.
Howell was fired from the University of Illinois after an anonymous student complained that his statements about homosexuality amounted to “hate speech.” The statements were made within the context of an Introduction to Catholicism class this spring.
The professor had taught at the university for nine years.
In his defense, Howell said he was simply explaining Catholic teaching on homosexual behavior. According to the Church, he said, homosexual behavior violates natural law and is immoral.
A letter written by Howell explained that after he was fired from the university, he was also informed that he would no longer be employed by the Newman Center, since there was no longer any teaching for him to do.
Howell said that he had suggested continuing to teach classes on Catholicism at the Newman Center, but that Monsignor Gregory Ketcham, current director of the center, had turned down the offer.
In a press release yesterday, the Diocese of Peoria confirmed plans to meet with officials from the University of Illinois to discuss Howell’s termination.
Diocese chancellor Patricia Gibson explained that the diocese is committed to pursuing a “just resolution” and has been seeking contact with the university since they were informed of Howell’s dismissal.
“The Diocese has had direct contact with the President of the University of Illinois, who has reiterated that academic freedom is at the core of their teaching and he is willing to have a review of this action so that all the details related to this situation can be investigated,” Gibson stated.
“The University has given us every assurance that they intend to continue to offer Catholic courses in the Department of Religion,” she said. “They have also indicated that they are open to a discussion concerning who will teach these courses in the future.”
Gibson told CNA that the diocesan officials had refrained from making a statement earlier because they were waiting to give the university a chance to speak with them first.
Now that the university has contacted the diocese, a meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, she said.
Msgr. Ketcham, director of the Newman Center at the university, emphasized that Howell’s position there had been to teach Catholic courses at the university.
In a letter addressed to the residents of Newman Hall, Msgr. Ketcham reiterated the Newman Center’s commitment to the faith.
“St. John’s Catholic Newman Center (SJCNC) and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria firmly proclaim all the truths of the Catholic Faith,” he said.
“The Catholic Diocese of Peoria felt that it would be irresponsible to react too quickly making a public statement without first giving the University of Illinois the chance to speak with us,” he explained. “It wasn’t until July 10 that we finally heard from the University, and the Diocese of Peoria will be speaking with the University early next week.”
“Dr. Ken Howell was primarily employed by SJCNC to teach Catholic courses on campus for University credit and we will seek to lobby for him to continue to do that,” Msgr. Ketcham said.
Denver, Colo., Jul 16, 2010 (CNA) - Scripture is “the one story that really matters” because it is the story of God’s “new creation,” Archbishop Charles J. Chaput has said in a lecture on Friday morning. Calling on Christians to live their lives “in Christ,” he said Catholics should allow God’s “new creation” to take root in themselves.
Speaking on Friday at the Catholic Bible Conference at St. Thomas More Parish in the Denver suburb of Littleton, the Archbishop of Denver said the story of Scripture is “the greatest story ever told – a story of God’s creative power, man’s betrayal, God’s redemptive love; and a new destiny for humanity greater and more beautiful than anything any of us can imagine. What man has violated -- including himself -- God makes new and better.”
Criticizing a kind of “tamed” Christianity, he explained: “There’s nothing tepid or routine about a real encounter with Sacred Scripture … God’s Word is profoundly good, but it is never ‘tame’.”
When Jesus said “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled” (Lk. 12:49), the archbishop commented, “he spoke not as an interesting moral counselor, but as the restless, incarnate Word of God, the Scriptures in flesh and blood, on fire with his Father’s mission of salvation.”
“Scripture is passionate; it’s a love story, and it can only be absorbed by giving it everything we have: our mind, our heart and our will. It’s the one story that really matters; the story of God’s love for humanity.
Explaining the “structure and meaning” of Scripture, he said the beginning, middle and end of Scripture correspond to man’s creation, fall and redemption. These “three key acts” embody “God’s plan for each of us.”
Because modern Christians are often “uneasy” with the biblical account of creation, Archbishop Chaput said they often miss its “important truths” about God’s goodness, the inherent goodness of Creation, and the centrality of man and woman.
“In Genesis, humanity crowns the created world as a final, perfected expression of God’s love,” the archbishop added.
He described the Book of Genesis as “a poetic account, not a newspaper report – but nonetheless a reliable expression of the truth about the history of humanity.” At some point, mankind’s first parents “turned away from God’s will” and wounded themselves and all subsequent generations.
“Every one of us is born a victim and carrier of that original wound. It separates us from God,” he explained, noting that only God can save mankind.
Archbishop Chaput emphasized the reality of sin and the foundational nature of original sin. Sin “defaces who God intended us to be,” but Jesus does more than erase our sins. He also “elevates us for sonship” and gives us “a share in God’s own nature.”
He noted the imagery of the “new creation” throughout the Gospel of St. John, saying this imagery climaxes with “the resurrected Jesus breathing the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, just as God breathed his Spirit into Adam.”
However, the archbishop explained, Jesus’ Resurrection is the central image, as according to St. Paul it “ushers in a new creation.” He then noted that the gospel authors’ naming of the day of the Resurrection as the first of the week “hints that the new creation has only just begun.”
“Those who believe in Jesus Christ, and conform their lives to him, take part in this new creation,” he taught the crowd of attendees, noting that baptism makes us “a new creation in Christ.”
Describing the Holy Spirit as “the key” and “the engine” of the new creation, the archbishop said Christians need to be “led by the Spirit.”
Turning to St. Paul's writings, the Denver prelate said we are presented with two roads: “the way of the flesh that surrenders to the disordered passions … or the way of obedience to the Holy Spirit, which allows God to take root in us and bear the fruits of love, joy and peace.”
This use of the word “fruit” by St. Paul is “very deliberate,” Archbishop Chaput said, explaining that fruit must be carefully cultivated. In baptism the Holy Spirit is “planted in our souls,” but, he said, receiving the sacrament is no reason for passivity because “ … the extent to which God’s new creation takes root in us depends upon our efforts, sustained over time, to help it grow.”
“We succeed as Christians only in the degree to which we allow God to graft us into the life of his Son,” he explained, noting each person’s “unique and unrepeatable role” in the salvation history of which God is the author.
The way for Christians to grow in their life in Christ is to create a daily time for prayer, silence, and Scripture study, as well as by worship, the archbishop taught.
This life also advances by “submitting our pride and our lives to our mater et magistra – the Church who is our ‘mother and teacher,’ precisely because she is also ecclesiam suam, ‘his Church,’ the Church Jesus Christ founded, guides and loves for the salvation of his people.”
Archbishop Chaput closed his talk by urging Catholics to “Live the life God calls you to right now … and in your witness, God will renew the face of the earth.”