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Archive of July 17, 2011

Report: American taxpayers provide one-third of Planned Parenthood's annual budget

Washington D.C., Jul 17, 2011 (CNA) - A new in-depth report on Planned Parenthood by a pro-life group shows that American taxpayers give substantial amounts of money to the abortion provider each year.

“By Planned Parenthood’s own accounting, $363 million – one-third of its budget annually – comes from the American taxpayer,” said president of Americans United for Life Dr. Charmaine Yoest.

“While Congress is discussing going deeper in debt and raising the debt ceiling … our government is quietly subsidizing the world’s largest abortion provider with $1 million a day.”

Americans United for Life says its report, “The Case for Investigating Planned Parenthood,” is the result of their legal team researching more than 20 years of Planned Parenthood records, law enforcement reports, and other materials.

At a July 14 press conference in Washington, D.C. – hosted by Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) and Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) – Yoest outlined some the study findings.

In addition to taxpayers providing over $360 million annually to Planned Parenthood, the report documented that government funding of organization has doubled since 1998 – as well as the number of abortions performed.

The report claimed that the organization has committed numerous financial malpractices and human rights abuses over the last two decades. It cited failure to report criminal child sexual abuse, failure to comply with parental involvement laws and willingness to refer to substandard clinics as some of the offenses.

The report also states that Planned Parenthood has been documented as assisting people engaged in prostitution and/or sex trafficking, and has “dangerously” misused the abortion drug RU-486.

Analysis showed that Planned Parenthood has provided inaccurate and misleading information to women regarding fetal development and about abortion’s health risks. The report also stated that “considerable misinformation” has been given to patients on emergency contraception, including the pill “ella”.

Documentation also touched on Medicaid fraud allegedly committed by Planned Parenthood and its local affiliates. The report outlined four cases – in California, New York, New Jersey and Washington state – where Planned Parenthood affiliates have been exposed for fraudulent overbilling practices.

“American taxpayers are being forced to directly support this abortion-saturated organization which is fraught with fraud and misuse of government monies,” Yoest said on Thursday.

“We are very grateful to the Members of Congress who have stepped forward today to take a stand on behalf of the American taxpayer in calling for an investigation and hearings into Planned Parenthood and its systemic abuse of federal funding.”

To read the full report, visit: http://www.aul.org/aul-special-report-the-case-for-investigating-planned-parenthood

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Benedict XVI appeals for drought victims in Africa

Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Jul 17, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict addressed the severe African droughts in his prayers following the Sunday Angelus on July 17.

“I am following with deep concern the news from the Horn of Africa, particularly Somalia, stricken by a severe drought and then, in some areas, even by heavy rains that are causing a humanitarian catastrophe,” the Pope said, according to Vatican Radio.

The Catholic Agency for Overseas Development recently reported that 10 million East Africans are facing starvation and death due to the severe drought. The agency noted that this year’s conditions are the worst in living memory.

Rain is not expected until October.

“I hope international mobilization grows to send timely relief to our brothers and sisters already sorely tried, among which there are so many children,” the Pope continued. “May our solidarity and the concrete support to all people of good not fail these suffering people.”

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St. Bridget of Sweden, co-patroness of Europe, honored July 23

Denver, Colo., Jul 17, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - On July 23, the Catholic Church celebrates the long and fruitful life of St. Bridget of Sweden, who raised a large family before going on to found a religious order. In modern times, she has been named a patron saint of Europe.

Bridget was born in 1303, the daughter of a prince and legislator named Birger and his royally-descended wife Ingeburgis. Her parents were notable for their strong faith, and especially for their devotion to recalling Christ's suffering and death. Sadly, Ingeburgis died soon after Bridget's birth, and her aunt stepped in to assist in raising her.

The future saint had a serious temperament even as a child, and came to share her father's and her late mother's devotion to Christ's passion. At the age of 10, she had a vision of the Lord's agonizing death, in which he drew her attention to the wounds inflicted by “those who despise me, and are insensible to my love for them.”

At age 16, Bridget married the Swedish prince Ulf of Nericia. The couple joined the Third Order of St. Francis, and made their home an admirable example of the “domestic Church.” Out of their eight children, two died in infancy, and another two in the Crusades. Two of the surviving children married, and one of the two who entered religious life was canonized as St. Catherine of Sweden.

While bringing up their children, Bridget and Ulf also helped to care for the needs of the poor. They devoted their own resources to building a hospital, where they worked to care for patients themselves. After Ulf's resignation from the king's council, the couple undertook a long and arduous pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

The trip took a heavy toll on Ulf's health, and he nearly died during the return trip. Against the odds, however, he recovered. By the time of his death, Bridget's husband had become a part of the Cisterian monastic order with his wife's consent. Even after his death in 1344, the Cistercians continued to regard him as an example of holiness.

Bridget then renounced her position as a princess. She divided her husband's property among her surviving children, and resolved to devote the rest of her life to penance. She began wearing a hair shirt, and ate only bread and water on Fridays. During 1344 she also founded a monastic community, which would eventually develop into the Bridgettine Order.

During her years as a widow, Bridget experienced many visions of Christ which were compiled into two books of “Revelations.” Although the Church never gave a definitive judgment on their content, Blessed John Paul II wrote in 1999 that Church had “accepted the overall authenticity of her interior experience,” which he described as a “profound union with Christ.”

In 1349, Bridget made a pilgrimage to Rome to seek the Pope's approval for her community's rule of life. She ended up moving to the Eternal City, and never returned to Sweden during the remaining decades of her life. She did, however, leave her new home on pilgrimages to Assisi and the Holy Land.

St. Bridget of Sweden died in 1373. Two of her children brought her remains back to the headquarter of her religious order in Sweden the following year, and she was canonized by Pope Boniface IX in 1391. In 1999, Bl. John Paul II chose her as one of the three female co-patronesses of Europe, together with St. Catherine of Siena and St. Edith Stein.

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Tennessee priest ‘presents himself to the Church’

Knoxville, Tenn., Jul 17, 2011 (CNA) - Seven years after entering the Catholic Church, Father Doug Owens’s journey toward ordination was sealed with the single word present, as he responded to vocations director Father Michael Cummins’s invitation, “Let Douglas, who is to be ordained a priest, come forward.”

“That was easy enough, wasn’t it?” said Bishop Richard F. Stika of Knoxville, Tennessee before ordaining Father Owens during a May 28 Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral. “All those years you were in seminary all came down to that [word].”

“A lifetime has brought him to the moment when he said present. He presents himself to the Church, and after formation and spiritual growth and academic achievement, he stands before the people of God. He stands before Jesus and before the Father, praying that the Holy Spirit will continue to enlighten him and to be with him.”

Father Owens, 45, a native of London, Ky., is the 39th man ordained for the Diocese of Knoxville and the fourth ordained by Bishop Stika. He was raised a Southern Baptist and later became a Presbyterian before entering the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil in 2004.

Before entering Conception Seminary in fall 2005, he worked in hotel management and the restaurant business and later held sales and marketing positions for companies such as Schlage, Shaw Industries, and Edge Flooring.

The new priest completed his theology studies at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary near Philadelphia. In 2010 Bishop Stika ordained him to the diaconate at his home parish, Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Chattanooga.

In his remarks before the rite of ordination, Bishop Stika told the ordinand he would be posing several questions, “about service to the Church, about humility in your life, about an ongoing spirituality centered on the Eucharist and on the sacraments,” he said.

“It’s all a part of that moment when you said present. For you present yourself to the Lord, and with an open heart, you made the commitment and will continually make the commitment to be transformed into another Christ.”

God chooses each Christian to help build his kingdom, the bishop said, whether as a deacon, a priest, a consecrated person, or a single person.

Bishop Stika prayed that throughout the years of Father Owens’s priesthood, “it might never become ordinary to hold that bread in your hands and say ‘Take this, all of you, and eat it.’”

Speaking of the Apostles—who were not yet saints when Jesus chose them—the bishop said, “Just as the Apostles were all kinds of characters, who had all kinds of gifts and challenges, we priests too have all kinds of characters but also all kinds of gifts.”

Joining Father Owens for the ordination Mass were his mother, Nadene Owens; sister Patti Armstrong; and her children, Bradley, 15, Emily, 9, and Brett, 6.

Also present were two of his former fraternity brothers, now both priests—Father Michael Clark of St. Anthony Parish in Browns Valley, Ky., and Father Andrew Garner of St. Joseph Parish in Bowling Green, Ky.

Like her brother, Mrs. Armstrong, a member of St. Peter Chanel Parish in Marietta, Ga., is also a convert. In an interview after the ordination Mass, she said that when Father Owens first told her about his desire to become a priest, “I thought he was crazy.”

“I had to apologize to him after that, but at first I really didn’t understand why he was doing what he was doing.”

As time went by, she said, she could see how God was working through him.

“He never talked to me about converting, but it just fell into place, and it was the best decision I ever made,” she said.

Father Owens’s mother said that her son was “really excited and happy, and he’s ready to hit the ground running.”

Mrs. Armstrong said that although her mother wasn’t planning to convert to Catholicism, “she has embraced it and couldn’t be more proud” of Father Owens.

The new priest celebrated his Mass of thanksgiving at OLPH the day after his ordination. The experience was “very moving and humbling,” he said.

“And it was fantastic to have three of my classmates from St. Charles Borromeo—two as my deacons and one as a priest.”

Printed with permission from the East Tennessee Catholic, newspaper from the Dioceses of Knoxville, Tennessee.

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Catholic aid agency appeals for help as 10 million face starvation in East Africa

Dadaab, Kenya, Jul 17, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

The U.K.-based Catholic Agency for Overseas Development is appealing to the world on behalf of 10 million East Africans facing starvation and death due to a severe drought.

“As we are talking now, we're seeing 10 million people at risk,” said the agency's International Director Geoff O'Donoghue, in a July 9 Vatican Radio interview. “We are trying to get resources to put clean water, medicine and food alongside these communities – to get alongside people and support them to survive.”

Some aid workers say this year's drought conditions in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan are the worst in living memory. O'Donoghue noted that no rains will likely arrive until October, “and even then they're not guaranteed.”

The international director said his agency was working to provide “very basic provisions – water, food, medicine, shelter for those who've had to move, prioritizing the youngest and the elderly.”

He described the Catholic agency's work in East Africa as “urgent and immediate” in a “life-saving way,” and said the simplest way to donate is through the website at http://www.cafod.org.uk.

The United Nations World Food Program is also working to help those suffering the effects of the drought. On July 13, the program's East, Central and Southern African Spokesman David Orr told Vatican Radio about the “huge volume” of people trying to reach refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia.

The influx of around 1,300 people a day is overwhelming the capacities of the three refugee camps in Dadaab, Kenya. Originally set up to hold 90,000 people, the refugee camps now provide a makeshift home for over 380,000.

“They are walking for days, in some cases for many weeks to reach refuge in the camps,” Orr said. “They have very little food on their journey … and we do find that even after arriving in the refugee camps, children continue to die. There's a very high rate of malnutrition.”

Orr said the World Food Program could still help many of the drought victims, “particularly the children, by feeding them supplementary and very nutritious, special ready to eat foods, which can revive them enormously in the days after their arrival.”

He explained that the “extremely serious situation” had come about due to a lack of rain both in 2011 and at the end of 2010.

“In some cases in Somalia people will tell you that the last two or three years have been failures in terms of the rains which nourished their crops,” he said. “The pastoralists have herds of camels and goats and cattle which are dying or have died.”

“We estimate at the moment that we're feeding about six million people in the Horn of Africa. That could go up to ten million people, in coming months,” the World Food Program spokesman noted. “It is a dire situation.”

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Pope encourages Catholics to nurture faith

Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Jul 17, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict called on Catholics to nourish their faith in order to “prevent evil from taking root” in their lives. His words came during his July 17 Angelus address which took place in Castel Gandolfo.

The Pope reflected on Sunday’s Gospel in which Jesus tells the parable of the wheat and the weeds, reported Vatican Radio. The Pope added that Jesus used parables to explain the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.

“Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a wheat field, to help us understand that something small and hidden is sown within us, which has an irrepressible life force. “

“Despite all obstacles,” he continued, “the seed will grow and the fruit ripen. This fruit will be good only if the ground of life has been nurtured according to divine will. Therefore, in the parable of the wheat and the weeds, Jesus warns us that, after the master had planted, 'while people slept,' his 'enemy' sowed the weeds.

“This means that we must be prepared to guard the grace received from the day of baptism, while continuing to nourish faith in the Lord, which prevents evil from taking root,” said the Pope.

He then drew from St. Augustine's comments on the parable. “St. Augustine, commenting on this story, notes that 'many are first weeds and then become good wheat' and adds: 'If those, when they are bad, are not tolerated with patience, they will never reach this laudable change’.”

The Pope welcomed the English-speaking pilgrims in attendance: “Today's Gospel encourages us to let the good seed of God's Word bear fruit in our lives and to trust in His mysterious plan for the growth of the Kingdom. Let us work for an abundant harvest of holiness in the Church and ask to be Christ's righteous ones found on Among the Day of Judgment.

“Upon all of you I invoke the abundant blessings of the Lord's joy and peace!”

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