Archive of June 8, 2011

Illinois Catholic Charities suing state over adoption rules

Chicago, Ill., Jun 8, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Catholic Charities offices from three dioceses in Illinois have filed suit against the state after having to shut down their adoption and foster care services following the enactment of the state's civil union law on June 1.

“Child welfare advocates know it is in the best interest of Illinois children for Catholic Charities to stay in this business,” said Steven Roach, head of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Springfield.

“It’s tragic that there are people who believe unnecessarily disrupting the lives of thousands of vulnerable children is an acceptable outcome in this situation.”

Catholic Charities organizations in the Dioceses of Springfield, Peoria and Joliet filed a lawsuit in Sangamon County Circuit Court on June 7 seeking to legally continue their current practices of working only with married couples and single, non-cohabiting individuals. The suit was filed against the Illinois Attorney General and the Department of Children and Family Services.

The “State of Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act,” which became law on June 1, does not allow child welfare agencies to restrict their adoption and foster care work to married heterosexual couples, even in cases where these agencies partner with religious groups.

Rather than violate Catholic teaching, the three dioceses – along with the Diocese of Rockford which has not filed suit – chose to halt all state-funded adoptions and foster care placements.

However, in an effort to reverse the situation, attorneys from the Thomas More Society filed a brief on behalf of the charities Tuesday, arguing that the new civil unions law includes protections for the religious freedom of entities like Catholic Charities.

Attorneys argue that the Illinois Human Rights Act also exempts religious adoption agencies from the civil union law, and that civil union couples are free to choose among dozens of other organizations for adoption or foster care services.

Catholic Charities have served thousands of children and families since 1921 and handle about 20 percent of the adoption and foster care cases in Illinois.

“Religious and faith-based entities need not check their beliefs at the door when providing vital social services for the benefit of needy and vulnerable children and families in Illinois,” said Tom Brejcha of the Thomas More Society.

“Catholic Charities has a clear right under Illinois law to pursue its charitable good works in the true spirit of the Gospels and the Sermon on the Mount, faithful to the essential tenets of its Catholic faith,” he added. 

“We will advocate strongly to protect Catholic Charities’ continuing its mission of social service.”

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Catholics should lead political defense of life and marriage, panel says

Washington D.C., Jun 8, 2011 (CNA) - A panel discussion at the Faith & Freedom Coalition Conference and Strategy Briefing discussed Catholic action in defense of life and marriage ahead of the 2012 presidential election. Speakers urged Catholics to take leadership on these issues and to participate in the political process.

“Many Catholics are frustrated by what they perceive as a lack of intensity in Catholic leaders about the issue of abortion and same-sex marriage,” panelist Deal Hudson, president of Catholic Advocate, told attendees. “Some faithful Catholics become confused about the priority they give to life and marriage when they see so much energy being spent on other issues like immigration and universal health care.”

This “lack of leadership” on issues of life and marriage causes Catholics to join political groups that have no Catholic affiliation. However, this creates a vacuum in the Church which benefits a truncated idea of social justice “that has distanced itself from the protection of the most vulnerable among us, the unborn,” Hudson said.

The Faith & Freedom Coalition event took place June 3-4 in Washington, D.C.

Other members of the event’s Catholic panel included Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List; grassroots activist Larry Cirignano; and Maggie Gallagher, chair of the National Organization for Marriage. Catholic Advocate, an organization dedicated to faithful Catholic participation in the political process, sponsored the panel.

Matt Smith, Catholic Advocate vice-president, hosted the discussion. He framed the hour-long discussion around the importance of Catholics as a swing vote whose loyalty to socially conservative presidential candidates has been repeatedly demonstrated, Hudson told CNA.

Smith stressed the responsibility of the Catholic laity to engage the political process, especially in registering and educating Catholic voters and mounting get-out-the-vote efforts.

Smith was a coalition builder for President George W. Bush, while Hudson led the Bush campaign’s Catholic outreach in 2000 and 2004 and served as an advisor for Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential bid.

The panel was the only discussion of the Catholic vote in a conference addressed by all Republican presidential hopefuls, except for Newt Gingrich. It was “extremely well-attended” by predominantly evangelical conference participants, Hudson said.

The Faith & Freedom Coalition, founded by Christian Coalition founder and evangelical leader Ralph Reed, intends to organize “people of faith” for effective civic action and lobbying as well as to protest discrimination against religious believers.

The coalition declares its respect for the sanctity and dignity of life, family and marriage. It advocates education reform and help for the poor while taking Republican-leaning positions favoring limited government, lower taxes and free markets. The group also backs strong foreign policy and support for Israel.

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Md. Episcopal parish to join Catholic Church through ordinariate

Bladensburg, Md., Jun 8, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

The small congregation of St. Luke’s Episcopal parish in Bladensburg, Maryland will join the Catholic Church through the Anglican ordinariate structure created by Pope Benedict XVI.

“We welcome the St. Luke community warmly into our family of faith,” Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington said June 6. “The proposed ordinariate provides a path to unity, one that recognizes our shared beliefs on matters of faith while also recognizing and respecting the liturgical heritage of the Anglican Church.”

He said the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington recognizes “the openness of the community to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in their faith journey.”

The community will begin to prepare for reception into the Catholic Church later this year. Its married rector, Rev. Mark Lewis, hopes to begin the process to be ordained a Catholic priest.

Cardinal Wuerl is supporting the parish’s transition, as is Episcopal Bishop John Bryson Chane of Washington.

“I am deeply grateful to Cardinal Wuerl and to Bishop Chane for their support throughout this discernment,” Rev. Lewis said. “We look forward to continuing to worship in the Anglican tradition, while at the same time being in full communion with the Holy See of Peter.”

The parish has about 100 members, the majority of whom are from Africa and the Caribbean.

Under an agreement with the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, the parish will continue to worship in its current church building under a lease with a purchase option.

Bishop Chane said the transition was achieved “in a spirit of pastoral sensitivity and mutual respect.”

“Christians move from one church to another with far greater frequency than in the past, sometimes as individuals, sometimes as groups. I was glad to be able to meet the spiritual needs of the people and priest of St. Luke’s in a way that respects the tradition and polity of both of our Churches,” Bishop Chane said in a statement issued by the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.

St. Luke’s annual parish meeting in January 2010 featured significant conversation about how its “traditional beliefs” were “incongruent” with the present state of the Episcopal Church. This prompted parishioners to ask its leadership to explore available options.

In January 2011 the parish vestry unanimously affirmed the parish’s desire to enter the Anglican Ordinariate. Pope Benedict established the special church jurisdiction for members of the Anglican Communion who desire to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while retaining many of their customs and traditions.

Theological and moral issues have split the Anglican Communion on issues such as the authority of Scripture, the ordination of women as priests and bishops, and sexual morality.

Rev. Lewis, in a letter to friends published on the parish website, explained that his decision to join the ordinariate was not so much a desire to leave Anglicanism as it was to enter into full communion with the Holy See.

The debates within the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion “illumined” Anglicanism’s lack of “the apostolic authority to defend the faith, guard unity, and settle disputes,” Rev. Lewis said.

He and his wife, Vickey, prayed and studied on these issues and “our hearts began to move toward Rome.”

Patrick Delaney, a lay parish leader from Mitchellville, also cited issues of church authority.

“In the Episcopal Church, bishops in one place say one thing and in another say another,” he told the Washington Post. “That’s the crux of it. Each bishop has its own kingdom.”

He and others at St. Luke’s said they were thrilled to help rejoin the Catholic Church, from which Anglicanism broke in the 1500s.

“It feels fantastic,” Delaney said. “It’s like correcting 500 years of history.”

Rev. Lewis said the parish had already embraced various Catholic practices but it has now ordered a larger statue of Mary. It plans more teachings on praying the Rosary and going to confession.

The pastor asked for prayers and support as he and the people of St. Luke’s “seek to live out our Anglican heritage with integrity in a Personal Ordinariate of the Roman Catholic Church.”

Cardinal Wuerl will announce next month at a bishops’ meeting how much interest in a U.S. ordinariate he has found. Officials think interest is high enough that they are creating a U.S. ordinariate for Anglican converts, the Washington Post reports.

Until an ordinariate is officially established for the U.S., St. Luke’s will come under the care of the Archdiocese of Washington.

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Archbishop exhorts Peruvians to unite after polarizing election

Lima, Peru, Jun 8, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Archbishop Jose Antonio Eguren of Piura and Tumbes, Peru called on the country to come together “as one nation under one flag – the red and white,” after Peru's June 5 elections.

The archbishop urged Peruvians not to give in “to the same old sins” of deception, revenge, insults and violence.

Ollanta Humala defeated Keiko Fujimori by a small margin of 51.4 percent to 48.6 percent after a ruthless campaign characterized by physical and verbal attacks between supporters of the opposing camps.

The archbishop's words came in a message marking the 131st anniversary of the Battle of Arica, which took place June 7, 1880 during the War of the Pacific. He urged his fellow countrymen to follow the example of the battle's heroes.

“Their heroism is for us a permanent motivation to unselfish love for Peru, and by their sacrifice they teach us that the country is not a pedestal for personal show or hunger for power, but rather the altar for serving and sacrificing for her.”

The Church will continue to work for the unity and common good of Peru based on the Gospel and the social teachings of the Church, “through the formation of consciences and by helping to open minds and wills to the demands of the truth and the good,” he said. 

For this reason, the Church “will always defend the truth of the human person, his dignity and vocation, from conception to natural death. She will promote the family as the primary and vital cell of society, because the issue of man is inseparable from the family. And she will continue to proclaim that development must be comprehensive and not just economic in order for it to be authentic,” the archbishop said.

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Pope hopes Croatia trip will impact all of Europe

Vatican City, Jun 8, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict said on June 8 that he hopes his visit to Croatia this past weekend “will bear abundant fruit for Croatian families, the entire nation and throughout Europe.”

The Pope said at the Wednesday General Audience in St. Peter’s Square that the June 4-5 visit was characterized by what he called “an intense spirit of faith.” In today's review of the trip, he said that he primarily wanted to highlight his message to families delivered at the first annual Croatian National Family Day on Sunday morning.

In an era of divorce and separation, the Pope said that “the fidelity of spouses has become in itself a significant sign of the love of Christ.” He described this witness as “the first education in the faith” by which “children learn, without anything being said, that God is love, loyal, patient, respectful and generous.”

“Faith in the God, who is love, is primarily transmitted through the testimony of a faithful conjugal love, which naturally translates into love for children, the fruit of such a union.”

Pope Benedict also recalled with affection his meeting with over 50,000 youngsters in Zagreb’s Ban Jelacic Square on Saturday night.

“There I was able to meet the new Croatian generation, and I felt the full force of their young faith, animated by a great enthusiasm for life and its meaning, for the good, for freedom, that is to say for God.”

He explained that he was able to remind the young people that God loved them first, a discovery that the Pope said “keeps us always disciples and, therefore, always young in spirit!”

On Sunday evening, just prior to leaving Croatia, the Pope prayed second vespers – or evening prayers – at the tomb of the former Archbishop of Zagreb, Blessed Aloysius Stepinac, in Zagreb’s cathedral. Blessed Aloysius was the leader of Croatia’s Catholics through the Nazi invasion of the Second World War and then the communist oppression in the subsequent years. He was jailed following a show-trial in 1952, died under house arrest in 1960 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1998.

“In the light of his testimony,” said Pope Benedict said at today’s audience, “I encouraged bishops and priests in their ministry, urging them to communion and apostolate.”

Finally, the Pope commented upon his meeting with representatives of civil society – academics, cultural figures and business leaders– at Croatia’s National Theatre in Zagreb on Saturday evening. There he had outlined the importance of Europe to the Church and the world.

“Once again it has been made clear to all that Europe has a profound vocation to preserve and renew a humanism that has Christian roots and that can be defined as ‘catholic,’ that is, universal and whole.”

“It is a humanism that lies at the center of the human being’s conscience, its transcendent openness and, at the same time, its historical reality, which is capable of inspiring political projects that are diverse but convergent in building a substantial democracy based on the ethical values rooted in human nature itself.”

The Pope then asked the pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square to pray to “the Virgin Mary, Queen of the Croatians,” before imparting his apostolic blessing.

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World Youth Day expected to pump $146 million into Spanish economy

Madrid, Spain, Jun 8, 2011 (CNA) - Tax payers in Spain will not be footing the bill for World Youth Day 2011, as organizers estimate the events in Madrid that week will pump $146 million into the Spanish economy.
Fernando Gimenez Barriocanal, World Youth Day's finance manager reported that of the $146 million expected to be generated, “nearly $73 million will come from abroad and will remain in Spain.” 

Gimenez went on to say that 90 percent of the contracts for the events have gone to Spanish companies through a public bidding system.

The event's organizers are now focused on increasing registration, especially among young people in Spain, by reminding them that a portion of their registration fees will go to a special fund to help young people from poorer countries attend the event. So far some $1.1 million has gone into the fund, and organizers expect it to reach $2 million.
The World Youth Day office in Madrid has also produced two new videos in order to draw more young Spaniards. The videos were created under the theme: “Some trains pass by only once in life.”

“What we want with this campaign is to convey metaphorically the contrast between traveling alone in this life versus the possibility of sharing and enjoying this journey with other people,” Gabriel Gonzalez-Andrio, the event's director of marketing, explained.

The event will be held August 16 - 21 in Madrid, Spain.

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Exclusive: Santorum outlines campaign vision, says religion is essential to democracy

Washington D.C., Jun 8, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Introduced by his wife Karen and joined on stage by his seven children, former Republican Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum officially launched his campaign for president on June 8 at a rally held at the Somerset, Pa. County Courthouse.

“I believe now, that Americans now are not looking for someone they can believe in,” Santorum said referring to President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign slogan, “Change You Can Believe In.”

Instead, Santorum said, today voters are “looking for a president who believes in them.”

Santorum added: “I'm ready to lead. I'm ready to do what has to be done for the next generation, with the courage to fight for freedom, with the courage to fight for America.”

Santorum, 53, is currently one of two Catholics to enter the race to be the country’s next president. Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House and Catholic convert, announced his run last month.

He told the crowd of several hundred supporters that he chose the spot to announce his campaign because it was near where his grandfather Pietro worked as a coal miner after emigrating from Italy in 1927.

Somerset is also not far from where a hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 crashed on its way to Washington, D.C., during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The spot was thus symbolic of key themes Santorum hopes to highlight in his bid for the presidency – the need to restore traditional American values and economic competitiveness, and the need for a strong defense against the threats of America’s enemies.

The former two-term senator was once the third-ranking Republican in the Senate’s leadership. He lost his seat in 2006 to Democrat Bob Casey.

But in an exclusive interview with National Review Online editor-at-large Kathryn Jean Lopez conducted for Catholic News Agency, he said, “You learn more from loss than from success.”

Santorum said that he is ready to lead and that the voters are ready for a candidate who believes in God and the importance of religion to American democracy.

“Americans want our leaders to have a reliance on God …” he said. “We want leaders who understand that faith is essential to the sustenance of democracy, that faith is an agent for good, that it protects the weak and defenseless, that it motives people to confront injustice.” 

In the following interview he talks about his campaign themes and the relationship between his political message and his Catholic faith.

CNA: When you speak to a group like the Faith and Freedom Coalition, like you did this weekend, or go to work at a place like the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where you have been a fellow, does it feel a bit like coming home? On paper, at least, are faith and freedom and ethics and public policy a good summation of why you ever bother with politics?

Sen. Rick Santorum: Yes, absolutely. I am certainly compelled by my faith to help engage in making this a better country, supporting a culture of life, and confronting the enemies of freedom.

Faith and freedom are dependent on one another, and our founders understood this. Freedom was meant for a virtuous people, and virtue is forged out of faith. Without faith, without religion as an active agent in our personal and public life, we will not be able to maintain the freedoms that we have been so uniquely blessed with. The two options to freedom rooted in faith are a spiraling into moral and cultural anarchy, or the replacement of internal restraint with external restraint, which is called totalitarianism.

CNA: You frequently talk about having a narrative that will move the ball forward. What do you mean by this? What’s the narrative? What ball?

Sen. Santorum: The narrative is “freedom under God.” The narrative of “why” America was established is found in the Declaration of Independence – “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Sadly, many of our leaders are asking the question “What is America?” This is not the first time. In his day, Lincoln said we didn’t have a good definition of liberty and were in great need of one. Freedom and equality, properly understood, as our Founders understood those terms, have been lost. By moving the ball forward, I mean that we have to renew our understanding of the Founders’ vision, return to it, and own its implications in our public and private lives.

Under our current leadership, the freedom of the individual has been subordinated to the growth of the government. That’s the European model – not ours. People talk of teachable moments. There’s never been a greater one than now.

CNA: So, where will America be after four years of Rick Santorum as president? Because with your announcement Monday, that’s what you’re aiming for.

Sen. Santorum: America will be well down the road to fiscal sanity and stability. The American private sector will be thriving. Decisions will be returned from Washington bureaucrats to main streets and homes. The American worker will have job opportunities in a robust economy spurred by growth-oriented fiscal, regulatory, and monetary policy. The most vulnerable among us will have a vocal and consistent leader in the White House with an administration dedicated to their protection. We will be friends to our allies and restore a lot of essential trust that has been lost. And our enemies will be confronted as enemies, not appeased as if we are the weak party and the supplicant. Both our friends and enemies will know where America stands. Fundamentally, faith in American greatness and in Americans themselves will be restored.

CNA: Why do you want to be president of the United States?

Sen. Santorum: I want to be president because I believe the American people deserve a leader who believes in them. I think 2008 was an experiment where a lot of people wanted a president they could believe in. That experiment failed.

My sense is people want a leader who trusts the American people, one who promotes rather than hampers the free enterprise system, one who believes in the growth of our private sector economy not the growth of the public sector government. In short, I want to be president because we have a great many things we need to get right – from national security and foreign policy to the economy to domestic social issues – and the current president has gotten almost all of those things wrong.

CNA: You’ve never been an executive? How are you qualified?

Sen. Santorum: By experience and by temperament. I’ve served the public in a lot of different ways, but one way is by exhibiting strong and decisive leadership, with a willingness to take positions that may not have been politically expedient, but were for the common good.

I’ve been elected a member of the House, elected a member of the Senate, and was elected to the leadership in the Senate. And in those roles, I was able to write, originate, and push substantive, meaningful legislation – from welfare reform in 1996 to the Syria Accountability Act to the Iran Freedom and Support Act to the Born Alive Infant Protect Act to the ban on partial-birth abortion.

Those bills, and many, many others, weren’t popular at first, but through work and talk and persuasion, I helped get them passed, and more often than not with bipartisan support. I look forward to putting my record before the American people. And of course, nothing qualifies you more for public service than a household of seven children.

CNA: What are you most proud of from your congressional record? Welfare reform?

Sen. Santorum: All of these things have been important. I think what I’m most proud of is the fact that I was known as someone who was willing to take on the tough issues and not trim my views or my votes for convenience or to appease any one constituency at the expense of another. In Pennsylvania, populated by one of the most elderly electorates in the nation (and seniors vote!), I was willing to address entitlement reform, and almost lost my first senate race because I was talking about the inevitable insolvency of Social Security and the fiscal instability of Medicare, Peggy Noonan once wrote about me that my style has been “to face what his colleagues hope to finesse.”

CNA: You were working on reforming health-care before it was cool, weren’t you?

Sen. Santorum: Yes. I’ve been at it a long time. As both a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Finance Committee in the 1990s, I was one of the first pushing for healthcare savings accounts and for reform of Medicare.

Health care is one of those rare issues that implicates each and every one of us, and America has been blessed with the most advanced system that the world has ever seen. We have been incredibly innovative and successful in providing effective and quality care. But the choices have to be left in the hands of patients and health care providers for this to continue.

The “new order” that makes us dependent on government is not just a reorienting of our health care system, but a vast effort to make every American dependent on the government for their very lives.

CNA: Is your impression people still primarily associate you with abortion and marriage?

Sen. Santorum: Some do. I think the Left does. That’s fine. I don’t shrink from that, I’m proud of it. The protection of the vulnerable, whether children in the womb or the elderly at the end of their lives, is something to be proud of. The defense of some of our most important institutions the world has ever known – marriage and the family – why should anyone be embarrassed about standing for them?

But I also have a long record on tax, financial, and entitlement reform. I worked with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle on issues of inner city, rural, and global poverty. How can a society survive with three of our four of its inner city children are born out of wedlock? It’s probably just harder for some on the other side to understand those issues and, thus, less easy for them to criticize me for them.

The same is true on national security and foreign policy. I have been a leader not just while in the Senate with legislation like the Syria Accountability Act and the Iran Freedom and Support Act, but have devoted the past four years of my life to a program at a think tank to address the rise of radical Islamism, and its anti-American allies such as Venezuela.

CNA: What can you reasonably move forward on on those issues as president?

Sen. Santorum: All of them. I think everything should be in play because everything is in play. I don’t separate these issues as if they were legs of a stool. And the president is uniquely in a position to balance them.

CNA: Why shouldn’t those who disagree with you – especially on marriage and abortion – consider that a threat?

Sen. Santorum: If it is considered a threat to stand up for the values and virtues, the building blocks and ballasts, that have helped us secure the blessing of liberty, then that is our opponents’ problem not mine. I think the vast majority of Americans support life and marriage and our national defense and the idea of free enterprise. My question back to you is: “Who and what are the real threats to our more perfect union?”

I have a long history of bipartisan working relationships on Capitol Hill. As president, I would actually be able to uniquely work with my former colleagues, regardless of party and the particular split of Congress at the time of my election if there is one. I actually think my background as a federal legislator for 16 years will help in the success in forging consensus and moving the ball forward. I saw how poorly some of the previous administrations understood and treated members of Congress, and I certainly will not let my staff fall prey to the arrogance that can often overtake people who work at the White House.

CNA: I know it’s not cool to ask candidates about other potential candidates but: One of the only people who might begin to understand what it might be like to be Rick Santorum is Sarah Palin. She’s done stuff she doesn’t get credit for. She’s hated with a passion. Is this all about social issues with the two of you?

Sen. Santorum: I don’t think so. I could name other political leaders who support probably 99 percent of what Sarah supports but are not in the crosshairs of the elites. I think it’s something more. I think for Sarah it’s that she doesn’t do things the way most politicians do them, doesn’t speak the way most politicians speak and, yes, if you are an outspoken conservative woman, that’s going to attract more criticism as well.

That’s been the case in our movement for a very long time; look at how conservative female politicians and columnists and radio hosts are criticized – strong women that don’t tow the party line get attacked. The good news is they tend to handle it better and it seems to faze them less and less. I am proud to be in a party that has a field that includes strong women like Sarah and Michele Bachmann.

As for me, I think it’s that I’ve led on the issues, I’ve been out front on them, and haven’t just quietly checked the boxes or kept my head down hoping not to attract notice. It’s the man – or the woman – with the football that gets tackled after all.

CNA: What do you hear most often as you go to Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina? From conservative activists, and perhaps, others?

Sen. Santorum: They want to know how it is we could lose so much so quickly. I don’t think very many people saw the speed with which President Obama could dismantle the economy and economic freedom or how quickly he would be able to consolidate power in Washington.

We haven’t had liberal Democrats in power in a while and I think a lot of people have forgotten how they govern and what they truly believe. Ronald Reagan used to say that freedom is only one generation away from extinction. With all the powers and levers of government now, that timeline has been accelerated. And it surprises people.

The government was designed to help people thrive and reach their God-given potentials. Most people know that intuitively and they speak a lot about how so much of that has been lost – taken, actually. In a country dedicated to free enterprise and entrepreneurism, it has become frustrating to people that the government has come to do the exact opposite of making life and work easier; it now makes things harder on people and business, and it does so all in order to strengthen the state not the individual. And this at a time that the competition from around the world has increased, especially from China.

This is what bothers people the most. Just at the time when we need to unleash American ingenuity and entrepreneurship, the very things that made us a great economic and military superpower, we are being shackled. These are the sentiments I note the most as I travel around the country.

CNA: Why is radical jihad such an issue for you?

Sen. Santorum: Because it’s such an issue for the jihadists. To borrow from Lincoln, they truly do want to blow out all the moral lights around us. Why don’t we believe what they say they believe?

They want to destroy Israel, they want to destroy America, they want to destroy the West, and they have no compunction about killing as many innocents as possible along the way. They are serious about it. They tell us this is what they want to do and they act on it, and our leaders choose to not believe them or see it.

The reason it’s an issue for me is I take the enemy at his word and action. To paraphrase (former British prime minister) Tony Blair, we have to have the same cultural resolve as the enemy, maybe even stronger. I worry about that. I’m not sure we fully appreciate the threat yet. And I think too many actually adopt at least a part of the Islamist complaint and grievance against us – that their wrath is somehow our fault. It is not.

CNA: Are we completely unaware of what’s going on in our backyard in this regard?

Sen. Santorum: Almost completely. I was talking about Venezuela and Hugo Chavez long before most. In fact, I was criticized in my 2006 race for being alarmist by raising the possibility that Iran might be working with Venezuela to plant terrorist cells in our back yard. You look at his alliances with Iran now, you look at Hezbollah in Latin America now, and then you look at the weakened state of our border, yes. If we don’t wake up ourselves we are going to be woken up by others. I have been saying this for years now, and working to wake Americans up. My weekly alert was called “The Gathering Storm” for a reason.

CNA: Do you ever feel a bit like a man without a state, having lost your last senatorial election as dramatically as you did?

Sen. Santorum: Not really. You learn more from loss than from success. Not that that’s what you hope for, obviously. But I think loss makes greater leaders, loss is a great teacher. I was proud of how I campaigned in 2006, and overwhelmed with the support and volunteers who joined the campaign to help. We never abandoned our principles or trimmed our views – I think even my critics will say that’s at least one thing about me they’ve admired. And I honestly don’t know of anything differently I could have done in 2006 to have succeeded.

But I’ve never felt like a man without a state. I’ve been privileged to be doing a lot of things since 2006 that I think – and hope – have been helpful to the American cause. I’ve worked at a think tank promoting issues of national security, I was privileged to have a regular newspaper column, I’ve been the Friday host of Bill Bennett’s “Morning in America” radio show, I’ve been able to travel more of the country and talk to more and more people. I think it’s all made me wiser, actually, and given me new and better appreciations for and about the whole country. Maybe most importantly, loss makes you more humble.

CNA: Why are you doing this? You can’t possibly win, can you?

Sen. Santorum: If I didn’t think I could win I would not be doing this. I think my record, my experience, my achievements, and my worldview stand in bold contrast to a lot of others. I’ve been written off and underestimated in almost every election I’ve run. That’s fine. Reagan once said there’s a difference between the box office and the critics – I try not to pay too much attention to the critics. The stakes are too high.

CNA: How are you doing this with a sick toddler and kids who need to go to college? It’s not like you’ve ever made a ton of money at anything.

Sen. Santorum: I have always believed if you work hard, keep your mind focused on the important things, and try not to worry about the future, it will usually take care of itself. That’s one of the things that has made this country so special – barriers can be great, but hard work and resolve usually pays itself off.

By the way, I think a great many Americans think we are losing this very thing because of the way the government has put so many burdens in place, because of the national debt we’ve been accumulating, and because the individual and the citizen have been downgraded as the government has been more and more empowered. But in general, I’m not someone who wants to look back someday and say I didn’t do everything I could to help keep America safe, secure, and prosperous – and not just for myself. In fact it’s for my children that I’ve stayed in the public fray.

CNA: What do you tell your daughter, Elizabeth, a student at the University of Dallas, when she reads what folks say about you? When she Googles your name?

Sen. Santorum: I don’t have to tell her much. She knows that personal vilification is often the price you have to pay for standing up strong for the right principles. She knows what the First Amendment is. Others have taken slings and arrows too, that’s just part of the cost of conviction. She’s an adult and gets all that.

CNA: Aren’t the kids sick of politics? Isn’t your wife, Karen?

Sen. Santorum: Politics at its best, campaigns at their best, should be and can be fun. Meeting people, hearing the concerns of fellow citizens, working hard to try and do something to better the country and peoples’ lives – that’s not something to get sick of. Yes, there are always challenges and trade offs, but service in the cause of the important is service not to ever regret. I couldn’t do anything in my career without Karen and the family – they are my biggest supporters and helpers and motivators. I couldn’t and wouldn’t do this without their blessings and support. We do this, we do everything, together.

CNA: When you talk about being “called” to do this – to run for president – it can make people nervous. Like you have a Messianic complex. We may have that already in the White House, some have certainly suggested. What do you mean when you say you believe you are called to do this now, and to run like you can and will win?

Sen. Santorum: We all have callings. They can be vocational and they can be personal. … I am also called to be a devoted father and husband. The idea of calling is something we should all embrace. It gives us purpose in what we do and how we live. Lincoln spoke of the reverence for America as our “political religion.” I’d like to think it’s mine, too.

A call to duty on behalf of the country shouldn’t make people nervous, it should actually motivate each and every one of us, whatever our work on behalf of our country. The question people should ask, whether it’s about me or President Obama or anyone else, is what do they intend to do with that call to duty. What are their ends? And are their means constitutional?

As for a messianic complex in the president, I leave that question to others. It’s just not something I think about. What I think about is what he is doing with his power and what we should be doing in contrast. As for me, all I’ve ever asked is that people engage me and join me in the debate about what I’ve stood for and proposed. The essence of our democracy is debate and discussion. I simply want to have more of that on behalf of our country. I don’t think there’s anything messianic about that.

CNA: How important is being Catholic in all of this?

Sen. Santorum: Supremely. You asked about my family earlier and I said I couldn’t do anything without them. I couldn’t do anything without my faith either. I think that’s true for a lot of people. An overwhelming percentage of Americans are religious, and religion matters to their daily lives. I am no different. I’m someone who needs and relies on God. I feel and see his work everywhere around me, every day. And I couldn’t imagine life without him.

I actually believe that Americans want our leaders to have a reliance on God. It shows that they are humble, and understand that they are under a higher authority. And we want leaders who respect religious conviction, not demean it. We want leaders who understand that faith is essential to the sustenance of democracy, that faith is an agent for good, that it protects the weak and defenseless, that it motives people to confront injustice.

Look at all of the great social movements in America over the centuries; most were led by religious leaders. And importantly, it is not just generic faith in God, but the understanding of the world that my Catholicism gives me – the world as it should be, an understanding of human nature and the ordering of our common affairs – that is important to me as a public official. Being religious, and my being consciously Catholic, is something to be proud of.

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New Jersey nun fighting to clear Pius XII’s name

Rome, Italy, Jun 8, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - She may turn 90 next year, but Sister Margherita Marchione still has pretty important work to do – clearing the name of the wartime Pope Pius XII and seeing him beatified.

“I for one will fight to the very end to make sure that that happens because no one deserves it more than he,” the New Jersey sister told CNA June 7, during a visit to Rome.

Sr. Marchione is in Rome to address a conference on Pope Pius XII, which is being hosted by the Italian Senate. Pope Pius occupied the papacy during the Second World War. His critics accuse him of not taking a stand against the Nazi persecution of the Jews.

But Sr. Marchione says this is nonsense.

“Actually an Italian historian, Enzo De Felice, stated that at least 5,000 Jews were saved through the efforts of Pope Pius XII,” she said.

“And how did he do it? He asked all the convents and monasteries in Rome to open their doors to the Jews who were being persecuted by the Nazis and to give them the possibility of remaining there,” said Sr. Marchione, a member of the Religious Teacher Filippini order.

Sr. Marchione actually met Pope Pius XII in person, back in 1957. Her fight to clear his name, though, didn’t begin until a visit to Rome 16 years ago.

“Well, I came here in 1995 and I heard the stories from the sisters who were actually alive back then.”

Her order hid 114 Jewish women in three convents across Rome during the war.

“They were telling (me) how the Jewish women were hidden and what they did to protect them. How they themselves shared the food that they had - and how many times they didn’t have enough food for themselves.”

Since then she’s published 10 books in English and Italian on Pius XII. And she’s still uncovering fresh historical evidence, including something she told people at this week’s conference.

“Yesterday I think I surprised the audience because I was able to tell them about a plaque which is right on the piazza of St. Peter’s and I’m quite sure no one in the audience – because I challenged them – had ever gone to read it.”

“But I did a few days ago. And it is a beautiful marble plaque stating that Pope Pius XII, during the Nazi occupation of Rome, was able to save so many people.”

Sr. Marchione believes that if people study the historical evidence, they will come to see that the myth about Pius XII shying away from helping Jews is not true.

“I would say that people should study the documents and learn the truth. The truth of the matter is that he did all in his power as the Pope to save as many Jews as possible.”

“Those are the facts. No one can deny them.”

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