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Archive of March 4, 2011

Knights of Columbus opening new facility for Haitian amputees

Port au Prince, Haiti, Mar 4, 2011 (CNA) - On March 5, the Knights of Columbus will unveil their latest effort to help Haitian children injured in last year's earthquake, with the opening of a state-of-the-art prosthetics and rehabilitation center.

Located in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, the Össur International Prosthetics and Orthotics Laboratory is the result of the Knights' partnership with the Iceland-based Össur company – a leading prosthetics manufacturer – and the medical charity Project Medishare. The Challenged Athletes Foundation will also begin offering their assistance in rehabilitating the child amputees.

At Saturday's ribbon-cutting and grand opening ceremony, the prosthetics company's founder Össur Kristinsson – himself an amputee – will present more than 600 modular prosthetic systems for use by Project Medishare in the “Healing Haiti's Children” program.

A joint project of the Knights of Columbus and Project Medishare, the program offers prosthetic limbs and rehabilitation to every child injured in the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January 2010.

More than 100 child amputees have already received help and rehabilitation since the program began in the summer of 2010. Each of the children receives a two-year course of free prosthetics and physical therapy.

Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, the head of the Catholic fraternal and charitable organization, said the Knights were “pleased to be able to help to heal those children injured in the devastating earthquake, and to give them renewed hope in the possibility of living life with regained mobility.”

“Providing the limbs, therapy and support to these children is truly a life changing gift,” said Anderson, “and one that we are very pleased to be able to give in partnership with Medishare and with the help of Challenged Athletes Foundation and Össur.”

The new facility is located at Project Medishare's Bernard Mevs Hospital, Haiti's main hospital for pediatric care. The laboratory will employ a number of Haitians to train as prosthetics technicians and assemble the materials provided by Össur.

Through these new jobs, the Knights of Columbus hope to contribute to the greater project of recovery for Haiti, which has faced several crises – including a tropical storm, a cholera epidemic, and political turmoil – since last January's earthquake.

In addition to the “Healing Haiti's Children” project, the Knights of Columbus have also been working to provide more than 2,000 wheelchairs to Haiti, through a partnership with the Global Wheelchair Mission.

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Weak faith cannot compete with modern 'idolatry,' Denver archbishop warns

Paris, France, Mar 4, 2011 (CNA) - Addressing a gathering of European church officials on March 4,  Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver warned that many contemporary Christians have reduced their faith to a convenient “form of paganism,” which cannot compete with the widespread “idolatry” of modern consumer culture.

Archbishop Chaput offered his observations at a conference in Paris honoring the late Cardinal Archbishop Jean-Marie Lustiger, a Jewish convert to Catholicism who was the Archbishop of Paris from 1981 to 2005.

The Denver archbishop described Cardinal Lustiger as “an unsentimental realist” who dared to speak about disturbing trends in the Church and society – including a lack of faith among professed Christians, leaving a vacuum that would be filled by other “gods” such as sex and money.

“Lustiger named lukewarm Christians and superficial Christianity for what they are: a congenial form of paganism,” said Archbishop Chaput. “The Church needs a great deal more of his medicine.”

He recalled Cardinal Lustiger's prophetic warnings against “creating alibis and escaping the implications of our faith.” In a passage cited by Archbishop Chaput, the cardinal wrote that “many Christians,” through evasions and misunderstandings, had “reduced the God of the Covenant to a mere idol.”

“The main crisis of modern Christianity is not one of resources, or personnel, or marketing,” Archbishop Chaput asserted. “It is a crisis of faith. Millions of people claim to be Christian, but they don't really believe.”

“They don't study Scripture. They don't love the Church as a mother and teacher. And they settle for an inoffensive, vanilla Christianity that amounts to a system of decent social ethics.” 

“This is self-delusion,” he warned, “the worst kind of phony Christianity that has no power to create hope out of suffering, to resist persecution, or to lead anyone else to God.”

Archbishop Chaput said that these weakened forms of Christian faith would not be able to compete with the many modern cults of instant gratification and success.

Cardinal Lustiger, he recalled, had “warned that one of the deepest and oldest instincts of man is idolatry.” The Denver archbishop said he sees that instinct taking on several forms today.

“There are no real atheists in America – quite the opposite,” he said. “We have a thriving free market of little gods to worship. Sex and technology have very large congregations.” 

“I was especially struck,” he noted, “by Lustiger's description of the modern state 'as one of the strongest forms of idolatry that exists; it has become the most absolute substitute for God that men have been able to give themselves . . .  and it is a tyrant god, feeding itself on its victims.'”

But the Archbishop of Denver said that these human tendencies, leading to the worship of objects and of oneself, could not be driven out by the mere exercise of authority.

“The Christian remedy to these idolatries,” he explained, “can never simply be coerced from the outside, by stronger statements from stronger bishops.” He quoted Cardinal Lustiger's insight that these forms of idolatry “must be exorcised from the inside … To uproot them, we must be converted in depth.”

He also indicated that Cardinal Lustiger's unique perspective was just as important for U.S. Catholics today as it was for European Catholics during his lifetime. The cardinal's work, Archbishop Chaput noted, “continues to influence our seminary formation” at Denver's St. John Vianney seminary. 

“He is a Jew who discovers Jesus Christ … His mother is murdered at Auschwitz. He survives the most horrific war in history, but he refuses to hate and despair. Instead, he turns to God more deeply and gives himself to the priesthood.”

“Most of the young men I meet hunger for examples of manliness, confidence, courage and faith,” Archbishop Chaput noted. “Cardinal Lustiger's personal story is itself a catechesis – an invitation to pursue God heroically.”

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South Dakota passes bill requiring 72 hour wait for abortions

Sioux Falls, S.D., Mar 4, 2011 (CNA) - South Dakota's Senate voted on March 2 to pass legislation requiring women to wait 72 hours and be provided counseling before undergoing an abortion.

In a 21-13 vote, the Senate approved HB 1217, which mandates that a licensed physician first meet with a woman considering an abortion, discuss the documented risks with her, and schedule the procedure no earlier than 72 hours after the assessment. The bill now awaits signature from Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
 
The Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls strongly supported the bill, saying it would provide the necessary “informed consent that must be given to mothers considering an abortion so that they are protected and not coerced.”

“This additional protection will also help to insure that mothers are as fully aware as possible of the implications and ramifications of the grave decision to terminate the most sacred gift of life,” read a diocesan statement.

The legislation also requires that that prior to an abortion being performed in the state, a licensed physician must determine during the preliminary consultation that the mother's decision to abort is not the result of any coercion. The doctor must also obtain the approximate age of the father of the unborn child, to see if a significant age difference is a coercive factor or influence.

Under the new measure, the pregnant mother will be provided a list of all pregnancy help centers registered with the South Dakota Department of Health, and prior to the day of the scheduled abortion, have a consultation at one of the registered pregnancy help centers.

Republican state Sen. Al Novstrup, the primary sponsor of the bill, said that the legislation will help protect women from being pressured into having abortions and better inform them of other options, according to the Associated Press.

Rep. Novstrup asserted that women in the state get inadequate counseling at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Sioux Falls and that women only see a doctor once they've already had an abortion.

“Defend the right of women to be informed and know the risk before they go forward,” Novstrup said on March 2, before the vote took place.

The measure will also provide a pregnant mother – or her survivors as the case may be – the chance to obtain civil penalties from a doctor who fails to comply with the provisions of the act, resulting in damages or harm to the woman.

Additionally, the legislation requires that the mother not consent to an abortion until the day it's scheduled and may not go through with the procedure until all of the bill's provisions are met, including verification that she consulted a pregnancy help center.

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Colombian senator proposes amendment to prohibit abortion

Bogotá, Colombia, Mar 4, 2011 (CNA) - A Colombian senator recently proposed a constitutional amendment that would raise “an absolute and complete barrier” against abortion in the country.

The measure would amend the country’s constitution in order to reverse the legalization of abortion passed by Colombia’s Constitutional Court in 2006.

Senator Jose Dario Salazar, leader of the Colombian Conservative Party, said the amendment would change article 11 of the Colombian Constitution, which reads, “The right to life is inviolable. There shall be no death penalty.”

The phrase “from conception to natural death” would be added to specifically prohibit abortion.

Senator Salazar spoke with CNA March 3, saying he proposed the reform, which will be formally presented at the end of March, because the ruling of the Constitutional Court that legalized abortion “is doing serious damage to society.”

The true role of the government, he said, is “to develop a social role that offers women and their babies a life of dignity from the beginning, in terms of health care, nutrition and work, so that there is no justification for abortion.”

“The government needs to provide security for society so that crimes like rape do not take place.  It needs to provide women educational, sexual and psychological guidance” so that they do not have abortions, he added.

The government has the duty “to provide all of these benefits,” the senator continued. It must not promote the “easy and absurd solution” of aborting a child just because the pregnancy is unwanted or comes at a difficult moment.

Senator Salazar clarified that the amendment would not send women to prison for abortion and noted that the proposal is not of a religious nature. It is rather “a moral and ethical debate on the defense of human life,” as “even atheists defend life,” the senator concluded.

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Catholic university to mark Pope Benedict's 60 years in priesthood

Murcia, Spain, Mar 4, 2011 (CNA/Europa Press) - The San Antonio Catholic University of Murcia, Spain will host a worldwide congress Oct. 26-30 to honor Pope Benedict XVI on the 60th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.

Cardinal Antonio Canizares, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, will preside over the event titled, “Benedict XVI: A Pope for the Third Millennium.”

The Holy See recently announced its approval for the worldwide congress.

In Spring 2010, the university hosted a congress in honor of the late John Paul II, whose beatification will take place in Rome on May 1. The prestigious sculptor Venancio Blanco unveiled a bronze statue of Pope John Paul II at the 2010 congress.  

Blanco will create a sculpture of Benedict XVI for the event in October, which also will be displayed permanently on campus.

Experts from around the world are expected to attend the congress to share their reflections on the life and works of Pope Benedict XVI.

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Vatican synod aims to rediscover 'original enthusiasm' of following Christ

Vatican City, Mar 4, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

The newly-released outline for 2012's Synod on the New Evangelization speaks of the Church's need to rediscover its “original enthusiasm” – by emphasizing society's need for God, and the possibility of a personal encounter with Christ.

On March 4, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, presented Pope Benedict XVI with a preparatory document for next year's synod. During the meeting, which will take place from Oct. 7-28, 2012, bishops and other participants from around the world will discuss the late Pope John Paul II's vision of proposing the Christian faith in new ways.

One goal of the new evangelization, according to the synod's new guidelines, is to revive an enthusiasm for the Christian faith among historically Catholic populations.

“The new evangelization,” the drafters wrote, “should aim to revive the original enthusiasm in Christians, a new mission that should involve all members of God's community.”

“The Gospel,” they explained, “is to be understood not as a book or a doctrine, but rather as a person: Jesus Christ, the definitive Word of God, who made himself a man.”

Archbishop Eterovic noted that the outline for the synod also draws an important distinction between two types of contemporary missionary activity.

On the one hand, there is the “regular activity of the Church,” intended for “those who do not yet know Jesus Christ.” But this mission, he explained, differs from “the new evangelization – which is directed toward those who have moved away from the Church, those who have been baptized but not sufficiently evangelized.”

In order to draw these people back, synod organizers believe that the Church must come to grips with a number of challenges posed to the Christian faith by today's “social and cultural context.”

In the document presented to the Pope, they listed a number of these challenges which will be discussed at the 2012 synod – including the secularization of society, the changing global economy, developments in science and technology, and the realm of politics.

The upcoming synod's work is closely connected with Pope Benedict XVI's recent creation of a Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, which will develop ways of re-proposing the Christian faith in places where it has been weakened.

In the October 2010 letter that established the new council, Pope Benedict said he hopes “that the entire Church, allowing herself to be regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit, may present herself to the contemporary world with a missionary impulse in order to promote the new evangelization.”

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Ann Arbor Dominicans withdraw plans to purchase JP II Cultural Center

Ann Arbor, Mich., Mar 4, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist announced March 3 that they are no longer planning to purchase the John Paul II Cultural Center in D.C., citing a lack of funds.

The head of the order, Mother Assumpta Long, said in a March 3 open letter that while “architectural renderings of the facility determined that the building could be renovated, the Sisters discerned that to pursue this endeavor was not a prudent use of our limited resources.”

The decision to retract their offer was also influenced by what Mother Assumpta described as an inadequate level of financial support for turning the building into a House of Studies for their sisters in formation.

The center, which was the brainchild of the now retired Archbishop of Detroit, Cardinal Adam Maida, has been beset by numerous financial difficulties over the years. Intended to be a museum and Catholic intellectual hub, the center borrowed heavily from the Archdiocese of Detroit, owing them $40 million as of 2006, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Instead of moving to D.C., the sisters are now moving ahead with plans to establish priories in California and Texas. Mother Assumpta said that the new priories will “enable us to receive new vocations and to spread our teaching apostolate across the country.”

“It is our hope to continue to expand the witness of religious life across our nation,” she said.
 
Sister Thomas Augustine, director of California Mission Advancement, told Catholic San Francisco that the order has had “between 10 and 20 new vocations per year for the past five years.” “It has happened to us before that by the time we finished adding onto the motherhouse in Ann Arbor we were already out of room! This time we are hoping to stay ahead of things so we are planning for two new houses of formation.”

Mother Assumpta said in her open letter that they received 19 young women into their postulant program this past February. A retreat weekend designed for women thinking about becoming religious sisters drew more than 100 inquirers.

Information on the sisters’ expansion efforts can be found at:  www.sistersofmary.org/expansion

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