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Archive of February 12, 2011

Illinois school rolls back tuition, urges families to try Catholic education

Rockford, Ill., Feb 12, 2011 (CNA) - News today about the economy usually includes the word “increase.” However, in a bold move to boost enrollment and keep a high quality west-side Catholic School viable, St. Bernadette pastor Father Kenneth Stachyra and school principal Elizabeth Heitkamp are using the words “decrease” and “roll-back.”

Last month principal Heitkamp presented a plan that decreases tuition rates at the school by almost 40 percent. In a letter to parents she said, “I am very excited to announce that St. Bernadette Catholic School is making Catholic Education more affordable for families. We have instituted a tuition roll back that takes our tuition rates back 10 years and reduces our current tuition by up to 40 percent!”

Heitkamp went on in the letter to explain how the school can afford to reduce tuition in such a sluggish economy.

“Our enrollment is decreasing, making it harder for us to continue to offer the necessary services to our students.

“By helping families to be able to afford our tuition, we are helping increase our enrollment. Increasing our enrollment allows us to maintain the quality of education we have given for over 50 years,” she wrote.

In a presentation to the parish and to parents, Heitkamp said adjustments to the budget had been made in the last few years to accommodate the lower enrollments and to maintain a reasonable budget for the parish, but she said, “we needed a new approach.”

Both St. Bernadette parish and school have seen a decrease in parishioners and students in the past 10 years. According to Dr. Michael Cieslak, director of the diocesan Office for Planning and Research, contributing to that decrease are the neighborhood demographics within the boundaries of the parish and school.

Cieslak reports that the neighborhood surrounding the parish has changed significantly due in part to the aging population, decreased family size and the severe downturn of the local economy.

The bottom-line, Heitkamp says, is that the school needs more students.

The Parish Finance Council, Father Strachyra, the Catholic Education Office, and even Bishop Thomas G. Doran have all given this tuition reduction plan their blessing and believe it is a creative way to get more students enrolled.

The new tuition structure is as follows:

Parish Families (including west-side parishes without schools)
1 child $1750
2 children $3500
3 or more $5250

Non Parish Families
1 child $2500
2 children $5000
Each additional child $2500

The new tuition rate will take effect for students enrolled for the 2011-12 school year. The new tuition rate is a price guarantee for two years.

“Tuition may increase slightly after that two-year period. But it is not our intent to return to our previous tuition levels,” Heitkamp said.

“Our finance council is trying to adjust to our demographic and our current demographic will not support the current rate. The support from the finance council and our parish is amazing and I am so appreciative,” she said.

Heitkamp has been principal at St. Bernadette for the past seven years and she has tried many creative and aggressive ways to recruit new students including marketing on television, radio and through print advertising. But the issue always comes back to finances she said.

“The Rockford metro area is fortunate to include several Catholic schools and we are thankful for the support of the parents who choose Catholic education and encourage them to continue in their current Catholic school. The object of St. Bernadette’s new tuition plan is not to pull students from their current parish home. The plan is to attract Catholic students from the public schools in and around St. Bernadette who may not have found the school affordable in the past and to help bring back students and families that may have left St. Bernadette for financial reasons,” said Superintendent of Diocesan Catholic Schools, Michael Kagan.

“If people walk the halls and talk to the staff and experience the positive atmosphere, I believe it will convince them to choose Catholic Schools,” Kagan said.

For a complete break-down of tuition, St. Bernadette boundaries and contact information for St. Bernadette school visit www.stbernadetterockford.com

Printed with permission from The Observer, newspaper for the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois.

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Going home after 20 years, Cleveland missionary honored as ‘Noble Friend of El Salvador’

San Salvador, El Salvador, Feb 12, 2011 (CNA) - One day in the port city of La Libertad, on the southern coast of El Salvador, a young boy who was preparing for his first Communion asked Msgr. Richard Antall if killing birds with a slingshot was a mortal sin.

The priest asked him what he did with the birds once he got them. “My momma cooks them and we eat them,” the boy replied.

“The priest has a very special window to people’s hearts,” Msgr. Antall recalled recently. “A question like that is difficult to forget. There is still hunger in this country.”

His 20 years as a missionary in El Salvador have given Msgr. Antall a unique window into the heart of a people that have lived through civil war, earthquakes, floods, and the daily struggles of too little food and too little hope for the future.

When he arrived in El Salvador in January 1986 he was a young priest, only four years out of the seminary. It was a dangerous time to be a Catholic missionary, with Church workers caught in the middle of the civil war then raging throughout the country.

Six years earlier, government-backed paramilitary forces had murdered a religious sister from Antall’s home diocese of Cleveland, along with two other sisters and a lay missionary. Nine months before that, Archbishop Oscar Romero had been gunned down while celebrating Mass in the capital city of San Salvador.

Msgr. Antall said he felt the tensions of the war when he first arrived at Immaculate Conception parish in La Libertad. He was greatly affected too by the heat, the smells and the poverty of the port city. But, he added, “as I grew to know the people, I fell in love with the parish.”

He spent 20 of the last 25 years there in La Libertad and in four other rural parishes. For much of the past decade, he has served as one of the highest-ranking officials in the Salvadoran Church — as moderator of the curia for the Archdiocese of San Salvador, a position akin to chief executive officer, reporting directly to the archbishop. In addition, he was head of the archdiocesan charities network and was responsible for the Salvadoran bishops’ outreach to immigrants.

For many years, he wrote about his missionary experience for the U.S. Catholic weekly, Our Sunday Visitor. He also wrote three books of theological reflections rooted in his work among the poor, “The Way of Compassion” (1997), “Witnesses to Calvary” (2000), and “Jesus Has a Question for You” (2002).

Msgr. Antall left El Salvador for good last week, returning home to Cleveland at the request of Bishop Richard Lennon, the head of his home diocese.

“The people of El Salvador have evangelized me, although I am the missionary,” he said. “With gratitude I say that I have received much more than I have given here.”

Upon departing Msgr. Antall was awarded the highest honor that the Salvadoran government gives to foreign nationals serving in the country. The national legislature voted unanimously to bestow upon him the title of “Noble Friend of El Salvador.”

The award reflected what legislators said was the widespread respect that this Cleveland priest had earned at all levels of Salvadoran society – despite strong political disagreements that some have with him.

Msgr. Antall has been an articulate advocate for the poor – and a pointed critic of efforts to change El Salvador’s ban on abortion and to legalize gay “marriage.”

In a special Jan. 27 legislative session, representatives from each of the country’s six main political parties paid tribute to Msgr. Antall.

Rep. David Reyes thanked him for always “reminding us so clearly of our duty.”

“We will not forget the people to whom he has dedicated many years of his life and we promise him that we will not forget him, that his words will be a landmark for our thinking,” he said.
Rep. Roberto D’Aubuisson said the country would never forget the missionary.

“When we voted to decree him ‘Noble Friend of El Salvador’ we were conscious that we were recognizing a man who truly deserves it and whom we’re going to carry in our hearts forever, because the work he has done in El Salvador left a lasting impression,” he said.

D’Aubuisson’s speech was reminder of the troubled days of the 13-year civil war, which ended in 1992. His father, a politician and army officer, was linked to the war’s notorious paramilitary “death squads” and was widely accused of directing the assassination of Archbishop Romero.

In his address to the legislature, Msgr. Antall recalled the Church workers slain during the war. He dedicated his award to the memory of Sister Dorothy Kazel and Jean Donovan, the two Cleveland missionaries assassinated in 1980 along with two Maryknoll sisters. “They loved this people to the point of giving up their lives,” he said.

He reminded the legislature of the many missionaries and Catholic charitable groups still working to improve the quality of life for the people of El Salvador. “The Church does not have borders,” he said, quoting the late Salvadoran Archbishop Arturo Rivera y Damas. “There are many of us here, sometimes struggling with the language, but always working for the common good.”

Msgr. Antall recalled his 10 years working for San Salvador’s now retired Archbishop Fernando Saenz Lacalle.

“I admire him very much,” he said. “I am only sorry that in all that time so little of his wisdom and holiness rubbed off on me.”

In parting, he addressed a pointed plea to legislators — to set aside their party differences and individual desires for power in order to focus on the great needs of the Salvadoran people.
 
“This country, which I love with my whole heart, has many problems. Violence, insecurity, poverty, the lack of economic growth, the disintegration of so many families, the migration of hope to other countries (not just our young people, hope itself is moving away). The lack of institutional credibility because of corruption and lack of efficiency, the problems with health care and education systems. These are questions of enormous weight and often require international solutions. However, the greatest problem, I believe, is the lack of unity,” he said.

He urged the lawmakers to see their work, and their lives, “with the perspective of eternity.”

“God has placed you here for a reason,” he said. “Your oath of office says that the country demands of you good service. I think it would be even more useful to say that God demands that of you. You treat or will treat very important issues here, especially those that deal with the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. May God grant you wisdom and valor. At heaven’s gates we will not be asked which political party we belonged to but how much we have loved and have sacrificed ourselves for that love. We have to go beyond so many particular interests and differences and concentrate on the good of all. You can give an example to the whole country of a leadership of union and I ask of God for you many blessings.”

Msgr. Antall has returned to Cleveland. He will be sent to Rome shortly for a three-month retreat at the North American College, before coming back to receive his future assignment from Bishop Lennon.

The United States has the highest Salvadoran population outside of El Salvador, he noted. And as the grandson of immigrants, Msgr. Antall said he can sympathize with their struggles – and the ongoing struggles of other immigrants in the United States.

He said he hopes one day to return to the country that has been his home for 20 years.

“In La Libertad, they say that whoever drinks water from the river Chilama will always come back again,” he said. “I have been bathing in that water and will never forget El Salvador, which I love very much.”

At one of the farewell parties in his honor, mariachis sang a Salvadoran song, “Volver, volver,” which means “Come back, come back.”

“I hope to come back again, as the song says, to the arms of this country,” Msgr. Antall said.

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Pro-life group's video stings spark ethical debate

Denver, Colo., Feb 12, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

The pro-life group Live Action has an indisputably Christian goal in mind, as it aims to defund and expose Planned Parenthood. But the group's use of “sting” operations, in which abortion clinic workers are caught agreeing to break the law, is causing controversy among leading moral theologians in the U.S.

Since Feb. 1, the group has been releasing video footage showing interaction between employees of Planned Parenthood, and undercover actors from Live Action. The actors, claiming to be a pimp and a prostitute, ask the employees how they can secure a number of services – including abortion, birth control, and STD testing – for a stable of underage immigrant sex workers they claim to manage. Sex trafficking is a federal crime, as is providing assistance to those engaged in it.

Live Action's ongoing exposé has already dealt a blow to the abortion provider's reputation. Planned Parenthood announced on Feb. 8 that it would be re-training its entire U.S. staff and instituting new disciplinary procedures. Attorneys general in Virginia and New Jersey are looking into the organization's treatment of young girls. The tapes could also help an ongoing effort in Congress to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding.

Germain Grisez, who was a professor of Christian ethics from 1979 to 2009 at Mount Saint Mary's University in Maryland, would hardly be among those seeking to criticize Live Action's pro-life goals. His multi-volume series “The Way of the Lord Jesus” contains some of the twentieth century's most articulate and thoughtful explanations and defenses of Catholic teaching on subjects such as abortion, contraception, and chastity.

What Grisez does not approve of, however, is Live Action's methodology – the means it is using, to achieve an end he himself supports.

“Catholics should regard such activity as morally and legally unacceptable,” he told CNA in a written statement on Feb. 11.

“From a moral point of view, I would call it scandal in the strict sense – that is, leading another to commit a sin. From a legal point of view, I would call it suborning agreement to cooperate in criminal activities.”

Tempting someone with an opportunity to commit a crime, Grisez pointed out, also involves “deception and lying.”

The authoritative second edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church – which Grisez was involved in revising, under the direction of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became Pope Benedict XVI – unequivocally says that lying is “the most direct offense against the truth.” It goes on to state that “by its very nature, lying is to be condemned.”

Although an earlier edition of the Catechism appeared to make allowances for lying in some circumstances, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – led by the future Pope – took a harder line when revising the original Latin text to its present form.

The absolute prohibition in the Catechism follows the teaching of both St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, which was originally codified in the Catechism of the Council of Trent. Proponents would argue that this teaching also follows the words of Jesus, who states in the Gospel of Matthew: “Let your 'Yes' mean 'Yes,' and your 'No' mean 'No.' Anything more is from the evil one.”

Professor William May, another moral theologian who was involved in revising the Catechism along with Grizez, concurred with his condemnation of Live Action's tactics in an interview with CNA.

To employ lies in exposing evil, Professor May said, is the kind of activity that St. Paul condemned when he wrote that Christians must not “do evil that good may come of it.” More recently, Pope John Paul II reaffirmed in the encyclical “Veritatis Splendor” that no unethical action can be justified on the basis of good intentions or results.

However, May explained that Catholics can, in good conscience, strategically withhold significant or sensitive information in certain settings. They may also legitimately have recourse to the technique known as “mental reservation,” which involves the use of a statement that can be taken in two different ways.

By these criteria, Live Action's actors could have employed statements that were technically true: for instance, by saying they were involved in “sex work” and meaning chastity education; or by saying they “knew some young girls” – who were in fact merely their younger siblings – and asking about what could be done “if they got pregnant” by an older person.

Through the careful use of ambiguous statements, Live Action might have invited Planned Parenthood employees to disclose sensitive information about hypothetical scenarios, without actually lying. Moral theologians and Church authorities have consistently distinguished these types of mental reservation from outright lies.

Like Professors Grisez and May, Dr. Christopher Kaczor – a Professor of Philosophy at Loyola Marymount University – has written extensively about ethics and the natural law from a Catholic standpoint. Like Prof. May, he believes Live Action would have been in a more readily defensible position if it had employed a careful strategy of mental reservation – rather than outright lying – in approaching Planned Parenthood.

But Kaczor expressed strong reservations about lines of argumentation that would forbid Live Action's work because of its use of lies.

These arguments, Kaczor wrote in a Feb. 11 piece for the Public Discourse online journal, “would seem to prove too much.” He was responding to a Feb. 9 piece by Christopher Tollefsen, another philosopher who claimed that Live Action's ends did not justify the means of lying.

Tollefsen's criteria, Kaczor said, would exclude most undercover police operations, investigative journalism involving a pretense, infiltrations of terrorist networks, and espionage work on behalf of intelligence agencies.

“It could be that morality demands an end to all such activities,” Kaczor acknowledged. “But it seems more likely that such activities are ethically permissible for serious reasons.” By the same standards, he said, Live Action's strategies might also be justified.

Speaking to CNA on Feb. 10, Live Action's President Lila Rose acknowledged the seriousness of the ethical concerns raised by her fellow Catholics. But she urged them to consider Planned Parenthood's role in the deaths of millions of children, and how this extraordinary reality might inform or change activists' moral obligations.

While Rose and her group are strongly opposed to violence against abortionists, she did compare the current situation to a “just war,” in which things may be done that could not be in a time of peace.

“During times of war, espionage does take place,” Rose pointed out. “Is it time, in our country, for us to use undercover work as a tactic to fight? I would say, and I think many Catholics would say, 'absolutely'.”

To some Catholics, her rationale may sound similar to “situation ethics” – which holds that the concrete particulars of a situation can alter what is right or wrong. Rose also acknowledged that the analogy – between war on the one hand, and a moral and legal struggle on the other – was not a perfect comparison.

Rose also believes there is precedent for her work in the case of some Catholics who lied to save Jews during World War II, or priests who assumed a false identity in order to minister under communist regimes.

Additionally, as Dr. Kaczor has pointed out in his essay, at least two of the Fathers of the Church – St. John Chrysostom in his book “On the Priesthood,” and St. John Cassian in his “Conferences” – defended the use of lying to save an innocent person.

Such a difficult question, coming in response to the reality of abortion, may continue to divide those who are otherwise firmly allied in their defense of unborn life.

The question is unlikely to be resolved to anyone's complete satisfaction in the near future. However, Rose said she intends to provide CNA with a longer position statement explaining her group's perspective on the morality of its work.

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Race car driver receives Pope John Paul II relics after horrific crash

Genoa, Italy, Feb 12, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - After Polish Formula One driver Robert Kubica survived a major crash last week, he requested relics of Pope John Paul II and received them from the present Archbishop of Krakow.

Kubica has been in the hospital since a Feb. 6 crash during a rally race called the Ronde di Andora in northwestern Italy's Liguria region left him with serious injuries to his limbs. The car was destroyed after it hit a guardrail on a mountain road at an estimated 140 mph.

The driver has undergone operations to treat damage in his right hand and shoulder and his right foot. According to local news reports, his co-pilot escaped the crash without major injuries.

From the hospital, Kubica sent a request to the archbishop of his hometown of Krakow. He wanted a relic of Pope John Paul II to help him through the process.
 
The 26-year-old’s veneration for the late-pope is well known. He races with the Polish Pope's name inscribed on his helmet.

Karol Wojtyla served as Archbishop of Krakow before he was elected pope.

The request for the relics reached John Paul II's former personal secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, who then gave Kubica a pair of relics in a gold medallion. Poland's TVN24 reported that the reliquary contains a piece of a papal robe and a drop of his blood.

Cardinal Dziwisz told the television station he wished the driver a speedy recovery and commended him to the care of the soon-to-be beatified John Paul II.

"I hope also that he has a lot of faith that this will help him," the cardinal said of the relics.

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New delegate to Kosovo does not change Holy See’s position, nuncio tells Serbia

Belgrade, Serbia, Feb 12, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Although the Holy See has appointed a delegate to help Catholics in Kosovo, it does not recognize the region as an independent state, the Vatican's top diplomat to Serbia has confirmed.

When Archbishop Juliusz Janusz was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as the new ambassador, or “apostolic nuncio,” to Slovenia on Feb. 10, he was also entrusted with the responsibility of apostolic delegate to Kosovo.

The Holy See's Press Office explained that as an apostolic delegate his responsibility has “a purely intra-ecclesial character.” The connection between the Vatican and Catholics in the Kosovo region is therefore “completely distinct” from diplomatic activity there.

“The mission of an apostolic delegate is not of a diplomatic nature but (it) responds to the requirement to meet in an adequate way the pastoral needs of the Catholic faithful,” the Vatican added.

In Belgrade Serbia's Politika newspaper interviewed Archbishop Orlando Antonini, the Vatican's nuncio to Serbia, about the consequences of the appointment.

He made assurances that the Holy See has not changed its position concerning Kosovo

The world is divided on recognizing the unilateral decision of Kosovo's regional government to split from Serbia in 2008. Most nations in the European Union recognize Kosovo's independence but fewer than half of U.N. member-countries do.

The U.S. supports its independence while Serbia, which has a centuries-long history of union and division with the area, still lays claim to it.

The archbishop explained that Catholic Church interest is directed only at local Catholics and not at diplomacy.

The community of more than 60,000 Catholics of mostly ethnic Albanian origin has experienced difficulties with practical issues in the life of the Church, he said. The Vatican hopes also to improve the relationship between local churches and the global Church.

Because these are strictly Church matters, he added, they were able to install the delegate “without having to change the well-known position of the Holy See on the status of Kosovo.”

Apostolic delegates exist in similar situations throughout the world, he said. Puerto Rico, for example, is legally a U.S. territory but it is within the Church jurisdiction of the Dominican Republic. The same is true for other Caribbean islands and places in the world, he explained.

As for discussion in the Vatican about recognizing the independence of the disputed region, the nuncio said the Holy See would not talk until the local governments based in Belgrade and Pristina, Kosovo reach a mutual decision on its status.

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