Washington D.C., Aug 26, 2011 (CNA) - Work has dignity because it participates in God’s creation and builds up the common good, the U.S. bishops said in their annual Labor Day statement. They called for shared sacrifices to heal the country while recognizing the rights of workers and the stark facts of unemployment, poverty and insecurity.
“An economy that cannot provide employment, decent wages and benefits, and a sense of participation and ownership for its workers is broken in fundamental ways,” said Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California in the Sept. 5 letter.
The chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development emphasized the suffering of those in difficult situations.
“This Labor Day we need to look beyond the economic indicators, stock market gyrations, and political conflicts and focus on the often invisible burdens of ordinary workers and their families, many of whom are hurting, discouraged, and left behind by this economy.”
He urged Christian virtue in carrying out work and in considering the situation of others.
“We must remember that at the heart of everything we do as believers must be love, for it is love which honors the dignity of work as participation in the act of God’s creation, and it is love which values the dignity of the worker, not just for the work he or she does, but above all for the person he or she is.”
Bishop Blaire invoked Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical “Rerum Novarum,” calling it the “cornerstone” for more than century of Catholic social teaching.
That encyclical “lifted up the dignity of the worker in the midst of massive economic changes.”
“Pope Leo’s powerful letter rejected both unbridled capitalism that could strip workers of their God-given human dignity and dangerous socialism that could empower the state over all else in ways that destroy human initiative,” the bishop said.
“In Catholic teaching, work has an inherent dignity because work helps us not only to meet our needs and provide for our families, but also to share in God’s creation and contribute to the common good. People need work not only to pay bills, put food on the table, and stay in their homes, but also to express their human dignity and to enrich and strengthen the larger community.”
Pope Leo XII taught that there is a natural right to join a union that the government must protect. Pope Leo’s successors, like John Paul II and Benedict XVI, have reaffirmed this right.
“Our Church continues to teach that unions remain an effective instrument to protect the dignity of work and the rights of workers,” Bishop Blaire said, noting efforts to remove or restrict the bargaining rights of workers and to limit their role in the workplace.
“Bishops in Wisconsin, Ohio, and elsewhere have faithfully and carefully outlined Catholic teaching on worker rights, suggesting that difficult times should not lead us to ignore the legitimate rights of workers,” he added.
“Without endorsing every tactic of unions or every outcome of collective bargaining, the Church affirms the rights of workers in public and private employment to choose to come together to form and join unions, to bargain collectively, and to have an effective voice in the workplace.”
Some unions have taken positions the Church cannot support. These differences should be addressed through respectful dialogue, he suggested.
The Labor Day letter pointed to national problems like unemployment, child poverty, student loan debt, income inequality, economic stagnation and “unsustainable deficits and growing debt that will burden our children for decades to come.”
These problems have an ethical dimension. Some institutions sought short-term gain without regard to long-term consequences, while some individuals made “irresponsible choices” and let their “greed and envy” exceed their financial capacity.
However, the bishop criticized “too much finger pointing,” the “unfair” blame of immigrants, and the demonization of either the market or the government as the source of all economic problems.
He urged Americans to respect the various roles of economic life and to “avoid challenging the motives of others.”
“We can understand and act like we are part of one economy, one nation, and one human family. We can acknowledge our responsibility for the ways--large or small--we contributed to this crisis,” Bishop Blaire advised.
“We can look for common ground and seek the common good. We can encourage all the institutions in our society to work together to reduce joblessness, promote economic growth, overcome poverty, increase prosperity, and make the shared sacrifices and--even compromises--necessary to begin to heal our broken economy.”
Dallas, Texas, Aug 26, 2011 (CNA) - The Diocese of Dallas has a record number of 19 new seminarians, Bishop Kevin Farrell announced recently.
“Indeed the Holy Spirit has been working through parents, priests and our vocations staff to bring about this blessing for our diocese. The prayers of many have been answered,” the Bishop of Dallas said on his blog Aug. 19.
The number is an increase from last year, when 11 men entered seminary. Fifteen of the new seminarians come from the Diocese of Dallas.
“It is great to have some good news to report these days and a record number of 19 new seminarians is certainly good news,” Bishop Farrell said.
There are now 70 seminarians studying for the diocese, an increase from 56 in 2010.
Twelve of the new aspirants to the priesthood will attend Holy Trinity Seminary, two will go to St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston and two will attend Assumption Seminary in San Antonio.
Two more will attend seminary in Mexico City, while one will attend Pope John XXIII Seminary in Massachusetts, which is intended for older seminarians.
According to 2008 statistics on the diocese’s website, the Diocese of Dallas has an estimated Catholic population of 1.1 million out of a population of 3.7 million. However, only around 560,000 are registered in a parish. There are about 175 priests in the diocese, about 61 of whom are diocesan. They help serve 67 parishes.
Denver, Colo., Aug 26, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Dr. Anthony Caruso, who performed in vitro fertilizations before his pro-life turn, isn't surprised by the recent increase in “two-minus-one” pregnancies, where women abort one of their two artificially-conceived children for personal reasons. It's a logical result, he says, of the mentality behind IVF.
“It's something that was developing over the course of time that I was in the field,” said Dr. Anthony Caruso in an August 25 interview with CNA. “People want to do 'A, B, and C' to have their one child and be fine with it. They don't want to have more than one child, because their plan was to have one child and be done with it.”
Caruso says pregnancy “has become a commodity. As such, you can do with it as you will, to make sure you have the 'best' outcome you can. Selective reduction is one of those options.”
“Selective reduction” involves aborting one or more children in a multiple pregnancy while leaving others alive, through a chemical injection that stops the baby's heart. It began as a way for IVF doctors to manage the sometimes risky multiple pregnancies resulting from their embryo implantation practices.
For decades, most doctors would not even discuss “reducing” twins down to a single child, an option with almost no conceivable medical basis. In recent years, however, what was once unthinkable has become increasingly popular, according to a recent New York Times article about IVF recipients opting for “two-minus-one pregnancies.”
That August 14 article cited figures from Mount Sinai Medical Center, a major provider of fetal reduction. Out of the 101 selective abortions the center performed in 2010, 38 involved a reduction from one twin to a single child.
A woman named Jenny, who felt personally unable to care for more than one additional child, told the Times that she knew her “selective reduction” of twins to one baby was “bad, but … not anywhere near as bad as neglecting your child or not giving everything you can to the children you have.” Jenny told the Times about the decision she and her husband made, but she plans never to tell anyone else.
Shelby, who aborted two out of three children (conceived through artificial insemination rather than IVF), told the Times she couldn't bear the thought of raising more than one child while her husband was fighting in Iraq: “My number one priority was to be the best mom I could be, but how was I supposed to juggle two newborns or two screaming infants while my husband was away being shot at?”
Columbia Reproductive Genetics Professor Dr. Ronald Wapner even described for the Times how he was threatened by a patient who told him: “Either reduce me to a singleton, or I'll end the (entire) pregnancy.” He did so – and soon became a sought-after reductionist among women unwilling to bear twins, before later deciding he personally opposed the practice.
Dr. Caruso, who was reconciled to the Catholic Church after quitting his IVF practice in 2010, was never involved with a purely elective reduction. He says that patients who end up with twins “very rarely – if ever – entertain the thought of reduction.”
But the advent of the “two-minus-one pregnancy” is the result of trends he noticed for many years. “Children have become less the fruit of a marriage, and more of a commodity,” he told CNA.
Because of this consumer approach to new life, he said, “people walk into this (in vitro) process having a certain expectation – and no matter what you tell them, that is their expectation. But there's no way to make that expectation guaranteed.”
“There's no way to tell them, 'I can make and create a program for you that guarantees that at the end of the day, you will have just one child.'”
“Because we want 'a baby,' we'll do whatever it takes to have that baby. And if we happen to overdo it, and wind up with more than one baby, we'll just kill it.”
Caruso was involved with five cases in which individuals considered selective reduction to increase their odds of a healthy pregnancy. “Four of them went for selective reduction,” he recalled. “All four of them against my advice. But four of the five did.”
The fifth kept all of her artificially-conceived children, “because I convinced her that it was okay to have triplets.”
Most of Caruso's patients, over the course of 10 years, never faced a situation in which they might have considered a selective abortion. But all of them, he noted, were told that artificial reproduction might lead to a situation in which a physician could recommend reduction.
“It is discussed every single time the patient gives consent for in vitro fertilization – whether was done by myself as a practitioner, or by a nurse, or by a psychological professional, or by a social worker. They have to, as a means of fulfilling informed consent. They must discuss this substantively, including the risks to the pregnancy.”
In Caruso's experience, couples often wanted twins, considering it a bargain of sorts. “As a matter of fact, the euphemistic joke – that's only a half joke – is that maybe they'll get two for the price of one.”
But those who only wanted one child often got more than they bargained for. “In those cases, when they have twins … that changes their world terrifically,” Caruso said. “You see marriages break down, relationships break down, people have all kinds of problems – because they didn't plan on having more than one child.”
For some couples, the status quo that's threatened by a second child becomes more precious than that child's life.
In one case documented by the Times, two women in a same-sex partnership both underwent IVF, and both became pregnant with twins. They were already caring for a 14-month-old child, and found the stresses overwhelming. Just before one of the women lost both her children in a miscarriage, the other chose to abort one of her twins selectively.
That woman told the Times she was “very grateful that we had this option at our disposal, that it can be done safely and in a legal way, but it was very difficult for both of us. I still wonder, did we choose the right one? That idea, that one's gone and one's here, it's almost like playing God.”
“There are those people out there who will do everything in their power to only have one child,” Caruso reflected.
“Pregnancy is a commodity for them – and when you think about it from that perspective, all the other possibilities that come through, on what you might call the 'slippery slope' – why wouldn't they happen? Why wouldn't you have a situation where a person gets pregnant with triplets and has an abortion to a singleton because they only wanted one baby?”
Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 26, 2011 (CNA) - Relics of Blessed John Paul II arrived at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City on Aug. 25.
Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City said that Mexico “is privileged” to be the first country to receive the relics.
He recalled that during his trips to Mexico and around the world, Blessed John Paul II preached in support of life, the family, peace and justice, which are so desperately needed today in Mexico.
The relics will remain at the basilica until Aug. 28. They consist of a vial of the late pontiff’s blood as well as a wax figure of the Pope dressed in vestments he used during his pontificate.
The complete itinerary of the relics can be found at: http://www.cem.org.mx/index.php/component/k2/item/446
Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Aug 26, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict is gathering some of his former students this week for their annual meeting. This year, the group is discussing the re-evangelization of the West at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, Italy.
The so-called “Ratzinger Schülerkreis,” or “Ratzinger Study Group” in English, has taken place every summer since 1977 and draws together those who defended their doctoral theses with the present Pope during his years teaching theology at various universities in Germany.
That means the study group has a pretty exclusive and prestigious membership list that includes Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna and Auxiliary Bishop Hans-Jochen of Hamburg.
In total, 40 people from various countries will take place in the seminars that began Aug. 25 and will run through Sunday. On Aug. 26, for the first time ever, the traditional group will be joined by members of a new group consisting of those who have written their doctrinal theses on texts by Joseph Ratzinger, now known as Pope Benedict XVI.
Pope Benedict will be present at their meeting on Saturday and will begin the day by giving a brief discourse. The whole study group is also invited to join him for Mass on Sunday morning.
Over the four days the gathering will discuss Pope Benedict’s call for a “new evangelization,” one of the key themes of his pontificate. In fact, it was the Pope who personally chose the topic.
The Pope’s choice echoes his decision last year to establish a new Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. At the time, he said he hoped it will “promote a renewed evangelization” in traditionally Christian countries which were “living a progressive secularization of society and a sort of ‘eclipse of the sense of God.’” The new evangelization has also been chosen as the topic of discussion for next October’s General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome.
Pope Benedict’s academic career spanned 26 years and saw him teach at universities in Bonn, Munster, Tubingen and Regensburg, prior to his appointment as Archbishop of Munich and Freising in 1977. Despite that, he has always attended the annual gathering with his alumni, even after becoming Pope in 2005.
The academic significance of this year’s meeting reflects the growing interest in the theological works of Joseph Ratzinger. In 2007 an international foundation was established in Munich with the aim of studying and promoting his thought. In 2010 a similar institute was created in Rome by the Vatican.
Rome, Italy, Aug 26, 2011 (CNA) - After 55 years of work, the people of Japan will soon have a translation of the Bible in colloquial Japanese thanks to the work of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum of Tokyo.
The text was recently presented to the prefect of the Vatican Library, Cardinal Raffaele Farina, at the Cathedral of Tokyo.
It is the first time a Japanese translation has been taken from the original languages of the Bible instead of from the Vulgate. In 1958 the translation of the Book of Genesis was published, and in 1979 the entire New Testament was completed. In September 2002 the Book of Jeremiah was finished.
The Japanese Biblical Society and the Franciscans of the United States collaborated in the effort.
Since the initiative began in 1950, the translation efforts have been under the supervision of Father Bernardin Schneider, a native of Kentucky.
Raleigh, N.C., Aug 26, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Catholics in North Carolina are preparing to respond to the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.
“There is a great deal of praying going on right now,” Frank Morock, communications director of the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, told CNA on the afternoon of Aug. 26.
People are praying that the storm “picks up speed so it moves out of the state quickly then out to sea away from the eastern metropolises.”
The size and breadth of the storm are worrying many who live in the coastal areas.
The storm made landfall Friday and lost strength from earlier projections. However, it still generated winds of almost 100 mph.
“Pastors have been provided with the contact information of the directors of the regional offices of Catholic Charities in the diocese,” Morock reported. “They will be providing reports of damage and needs in their communities.”
When it is safe for relief and rescue teams to enter affected areas, Catholic Charities staff will be on the scene. They will work with other religious and non-governmental agencies to provide “both immediate and long-term assistance” to survivors.
They will also work with the state government to help “in every way possible.”
Depending on the severity of the storm, the Diocese of Raleigh may call for a special collection in all parishes as it has done in the past with natural disasters. The money will go to Catholic Charities to provide temporary housing and food and other basic supplies where necessary.
“The faithful of the diocese, whether the disaster is in the diocese or anywhere in the world, always respond generously,” Morock said.
Hurricane Isabel, a Category 2 storm, was the last major storm to hit North Carolina. In 1999, Hurricane Floyd dumped a record amount of rain and took 35 lives.
“Outside of some minor damage such as roof leaks, trees down and minor flooding, the institutions held up quite well,” Morock recalled. “With the expected swells of Irene, some of our churches near the coastline may be more at risk this time around.”
“While the eye of the storm is expected to pass over the Outer Banks, this storm is expected to cause a great deal of wind damage and extensive flooding,” he said.
Rain may continue for at least 24 hours all the way up the coast. Inland, rain will saturate the ground and strong winds are expected to knock down trees and cause power outages.
No weekend Masses in the Diocese of Raleigh have been canceled yet, but Catholic schools in the coastal area were either closed or had a half-day of classes.