Archive of July 3, 2011

Pope appeals for end to arrogance and violence

Vatican City, Jul 3, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

A "rule of life based on love" is needed if we are to receive the rest offered by Jesus Christ to "all who labor and are over-burdened," Pope Benedict XVI said during his brief Sunday Angelus address July 3.

"For this, we must abandon the path of arrogance and violence used to obtain positions of greater power, to ensure success at any cost," the Pope told over 40,000 pilgrims in St. Peter's Square.

Pope Benedict said the offer of Jesus, recounted in today's Gospel reading, testifies to his "compassion for the burdened masses, for they were like a flock without a shepherd."

"That look of Jesus seems to continue to the present day, to our present world. His kind eyes gaze on the masses burdened by difficult living conditions, but also those still searching for a valid reference point, for meaning and for a goal in life," said the Pope.

He observed that such people are to be found "in the world's poorest countries, tried by poverty" but also  "in the richest countries" where "there are many dissatisfied men and women, some even given to depression." And he gave special mention to "the many displaced persons and refugees, those who risk their lives emigrating."  

"The true remedy for the wounds of humanity," both material and spiritual, said the Pope, "is a rule of life based on love, brotherly love, which has its source in the love of God."

This will result in a new attitude towards the natural environment, giving up "the aggressive style that has dominated in recent centuries," and also towards other people - where "the force of truth against every injustice, is one that can ensure a future worthy of man."

After the Angelus, the Pope's thoughts turned to the topic of vacations. He is departing the Vatican this week for his July break at Castel Gandolfo, 15 miles outside Rome. He encouraged pilgrims to live the summer holiday period "orientated towards rest and serenity," and reminded them to take the Gospel with them wherever they go.

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New Jersey governor vetoes budget funding for Planned Parenthood

Trenton, N.J., Jul 3, 2011 (CNA) - Corrected July 7, 2011 10:23 MDT. Fixes reporting error by the Associated Press that said $7.5 million was given to federal health centers. The amount given to the centers was $4.6 million (paragraph 6).

New Jersey governor Chris Christie stripped $7.5 million in Planned Parenthood and other clinic funding from the state budget on June 30.

The governor narrowly avoided a July1 midnight deadline that would have shut down the state government. He did so by individually cutting $900 million from the Democrat-proposed budget and then signing it, as opposed to rejecting it outright.

The move allowed Gov. Christie to enact the state's $29.7 billion budget seven hours before the new fiscal year began.

“It is my solemn pact with the residents and taxpayers of New Jersey to never allow a return to the kind of reckless, autopilot spending that devastated our state’s economic health in years past and which was embodied in the budget I repaired,” Gov. Christie said.

“Let me be clear – New Jersey is only going to spend the money we have.”

Part of the budget revisions included a veto $7.5 million from clinics that provide family planning—including Planned Parenthood—and restoring $4.6 million to Federal Qualified Health Centers that was originally slated to be cut.

Planned Parenthood has been the subject of controversy in the state over improper billing practices and failure to comply with health and safety regulations.

Last August, the U.S. Inspector General's Audits from 2001-2005 cited the organization for improperly billing Medicaid $597,000 for family planning services which the state had to repay.

In March of this year, the Planned Parenthood facility in Mercer County was inspected by the New Jersey Department of Health, which issued a 39-page deficiency report for non-compliance with health and safety regulations.

Adding to the organization's woes in the state, a clinic worker at the Perth Amboy Planned Parenthood was caught on tape in February offering assistance to undercover activists posing as sex traffickers and claiming to employ girls as young as 13 years-old.

State Democrats including Senate President Stephen Sweeney criticized the budget on July 1 as “cruel and mean-spirited.”

Although Democratic leaders are planning to challenge some of the reductions, they will need a two-thirds majority to override the individual line item vetoes. This will require a vote that will need the unlikely support of state Republicans.

“We are not going to revert back to business as usual and undo all the progress that has been made,” Gov. Christie said on June 30. “The actions I have taken today reinforce a commitment to protecting taxpayer dollars.” 

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St. Elizabeth of Portugal, queen and peacemaker, celebrated on July 4

Denver, Colo., Jul 3, 2011 (CNA) - On July 4, the Catholic Church will celebrate St. Elizabeth of Portugal, a queen who served the poor and helped her country avoid war during the 13th and 14th centuries.

Elizabeth of Portugal was named for her great-aunt, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, who was canonized in 1235. Their lives were similar in some important ways: both of them were married at very young ages, they sought to live the precepts of the Gospel despite their status as royalty, and finished their lives as members of the Third Order of St. Francis.

The younger Elizabeth was born in 1271, the daughter of King Pedro III of Aragon and his wife Constantia. Even in her youth, Elizabeth showed a notable devotion to God through fasting, regular prayer, and a sense of life's seriousness. While still very young, she was married to King Diniz of Portugal, a marriage that would put her faith and patience to the test.

King Diniz was faithfully devoted to his country, known as the “Worker King” because of his diligence. Unfortunately, he generally failed to live out the same faithfulness toward his wife, although he is said to have repented of his years of infidelity before his death. Diniz and Elizabeth had two children, but the king fathered an additional seven children with other women.

Many members of the king's court likewise embraced or accepted various forms of immorality, and it would have been easy for the young queen to fall into these vices herself. But Elizabeth remained intent on doing God's will with a humble and charitable attitude. Rather than using her status as queen to pursue her own satisfaction, she sought to advance Christ's reign on earth.

Like her namesake and great-aunt Elizabeth of Hungary, Elizabeth of Portugal was a devoted patroness and personal friend of the poor and sick, and she compelled the women who served her at court to care for them as well. The queen's bishop testified that she had a custom of secretly inviting in lepers, whom she would bathe and clothe, even though the law of the land barred them from approaching the castle.

Elizabeth's commitment to the Gospel also became evident when she intervened to prevent civil war in the kingdom on two occasions. Alfonso, the only son of Diniz and Elizabeth, resented the king's indulgent treatment of one of his illegitimate sons, to the point that the father and son gathered together rival armies that were on the brink of open war in 1323.

On this occasion, St. Elizabeth placed herself between the two opposing armies, insisting that Diniz and Alfonso come to terms and make peace with one another. In 1336, the last year of her life, she intervened in a similar manner to prevent her son from waging war against the King of Castile for his poor treatment of Alfonso's own daughter.

Following King Diniz's death in 1325, Elizabeth had become a Franciscan of the Third Order, and had gone to live in a convent that she had established some years before. The testimony of miracles accomplished through her intercession, after her death in 1336, contributed to her canonization by Pope Urban VIII in 1625.

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Anglicans in Virginia celebrate with ‘Catholic theology and Anglican patrimony’

Arlington, Va., Jul 3, 2011 (CNA) - After a day filled with Masses celebrating the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, there was one more group of worshipers eager to fill the pews at Holy Spirit Church in Annandale, Va. on June 26.

Bringing with them their own hymns dating back to the 18th century and prayers devised from the Book of Common Prayer and adapted to Catholic teaching, more than 50 members of Anglican churches from around Northern Virginia gathered together for the first time at Holy Spirit to praise God with the liturgical and musical traditions they’ve held for years and the Catholic theology they have just adopted.

As members of the St. Thomas of Canterbury Anglican Use Society of Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia, these local Anglicans hope to enter full communion with the Catholic Church as a community. Their decision comes after the November 2009 apostolic constitution, “Anglicanorum coetibus,” in which Pope Benedict XVI made it possible for Anglicans, who so desired, to be reconciled with the Catholic Church while maintaining certain aspects of their own traditions.

The St. Thomas of Canterbury Society was formed in response to that effort. Its first meeting drew five people to an Alexandria library last June. Since that day, the group has grown gradually with Anglicans and recent converts to Catholicism, as well as family members. Starting in September, the group began holding monthly evening prayer services at St. Anselm Abbey in Washington.

The group began to attract more members from Northern Virginia. Looking for a new place to worship, the group approached Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde, who gave the society permission to use the facilities of Holy Spirit for prayer services, programs and classes. Sunday’s evening prayer and Benediction was the first service held at the church.

James Farr is president of the St. Thomas of Canterbury Society. He estimates there are 75 members in the group. So far, he says the efforts of the society have been “extremely positive.”

“People in our society love Pope Benedict XVI,” he said. “They want to come into the Catholic Church, but are used to our more English traditions. This will be the Catholic Faith with the Anglican patrimony.”

Last September, the Vatican appointed Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl to oversee the incorporation of Anglican groups into the Church in the United States. In a report released to bishops earlier this month, the cardinal said as many as 100 Anglican priests and 2,000 laypeople could be the first members of an ordinariate in the United States for former Anglicans who want to join the Catholic Church. The ordinariate, similar to a national diocese for Anglican converts, will be headed by an ordinary, a priest yet to be appointed by the Vatican.

So far, under “Anglicanorum coetibus,” the only ordinariate is in England with 60 former Anglican priests and approximately 1,000 laypeople. In addition to the ordinariate in the United States, two others are under consideration in Canada and Australia.

In a conference earlier this month, Cardinal Wuerl said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if the Vatican established the ordinariate in the United States by the end of the year. Once it forms, the Anglican-Catholics from the St. Thomas of Canterbury Society could enter full communion, along with two formerly Anglican congregations in Maryland — St. Luke in Bladensburg and Mount Calvary in Baltimore.

For members of the St. Thomas of Canterbury Society, this process has been a long time coming. Frustrated by a rising number of disputes within the Episcopal Church, many Anglicans have been attracted to the Catholic Church because of their desire for a clear sense of authority.

One local Anglican, who wished to remain anonymous, drove up from Woodbridge to attend Sunday’s prayer service.

“(In the Anglican Church,) there is no authority,” he said. “If there are 2,000 members in the church, there are 2,000 popes.”

He said he and other like-minded Anglicans have been hoping to come into full communion with the Catholic Church for years.

“It is requiring a lot of patience, but we’re patient because we’ve been waiting for this for 10 years and it has to unfold correctly,” he said. “It takes time for this to be done right.”

The St. Thomas of Canterbury Society has attracted the involvement of recent converts from the Anglican Church. One such Catholic is Heide Seward, a Holy Spirit parishioner who entered the Church from the Episcopal Church four years ago.

For Seward, the Anglican-use liturgy has given her the best of both worlds — the Catholic theology she lives by and loves and the traditional hymns and language of liturgy she remembers.

“It’s the same liturgy I grew up with,” she said. “I know the phrases and the prayers by heart and they don’t leave you. It’s nice to know there will be somewhere I can go to hear these liturgies.”

Father Terry W. Specht, pastor of Holy Spirit, is liaison for the St. Thomas of Canterbury Society in the diocese. His role in this process is to create a welcoming atmosphere for the Anglicans as they continue their discernment process toward the Catholic Church.

“Our role is to offer hospitality and encouragement and a place for common prayer and catechesis, to make sure the community as a whole is ready to make a corporate decision as a body and ready to be accepted into the Church,” he said.

Printed with permission from the Catholic Herald, newspaper for the Diocese of Arlington, Va.

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