Archive of August 27, 2011

Educators gather at cathedral for opening school Mass

Biloxi, Miss., Aug 27, 2011 (CNA) - Faculty, staff and administrators from every Catholic school in the Diocese of Biloxi, Miss. gathered at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Cathedral Aug. 4 as diocesan Bishop Roger Morin celebrated a special Mass marking the opening of the new school year.

In his homily, Bishop Morin said the readings for that particular feast day, the Feast of St. John Vianney, were particularly appropriate for teachers, staff and administrators as they prepared to welcome students for a new year.

The bishop reiterated St. Paul’s words to the Colossians: “Put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Put on love, that is, the bond of perfection and let the word of Christ dwell in you and let the peace of Christ control your hearts.”

Alluding to Psalm 13, the bishop said, “We hear, ‘From the rising of the sun to its setting, let the name of the Lord be praised.’ Therein is found another definition of your important ministry and apostolate in our local church.”

Turning to Matthew’s gospel, the bishop said, ‘What has been hidden from the wise and the learned has been revealed to the childlike,” adding, “And Jesus says, ‘Come to me all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart and you will find rest for yourselves, for my  yoke is easy and my burden light.’

“We find that there is almost a contradiction in terms there, a yoke that is easy and a burden that is light” Bishop Morin said. “But it is conditioned upon this meekness and humility of heart. Then you will find rest for yourselves.

“So, in the first reading from Colossians, St. Paul tells us that Jesus has called us, as God’s chosen ones, to be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient and to let charity, that is love, reign over all the virtues and let the peace of Christ control your hearts. Those are words that take reflection for assimilation, not just words that roll off our tongues and through our lips,” the bishop said.

“Let love reign over all the virtues and let the peace of Christ control your hearts. And Jesus said that you don’t have to be wise, learned or clever – my translation - to answer his call and be obedient to the command: ‘Love one another.’ Jesus said we will do this easily if we follow his example and we seek to be meek and humble of heart. Then love will reign over all the virtues and the peace of Christ will control your hearts. For Jesus says, in meekness and humility, we find it easy to live our lives as Christians.”

One way to achieve this meekness and humility, the bishop said, it to remember the words of the Novena to the Sacred  Heart: Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.

“It really is a lifetime process, in terms of our heart being like unto the heart of Jesus, in terms of a life in ministry lived in meekness and humility,” the bishop said.

“In these words we are reminded that, as we strive to achieve higher levels of perfection in the Christian life through meekness and humility, we are in pursuit of manifesting the loving heart of Jesus in all that we do. This commitment is not a yoke or a burden, but is a way to have a life of ease, peace of mind, where love reigns in your heart and over your daily life. Jesus says, ‘Learn from me and you will find rest for yourself.’

 “As we begin another school year, there’s always something exciting in a new segment of time that is given, since every single day, every hour – life – is a gift from God,” Bishop Morin said.

“As we look ahead to the months of this school year, we stand at this juncture and we become somewhat chronologically philosophical about what is going to happen. Some of you will do some things that you’ve been doing for a number of years for the last time. Some of you will have an opportunity to do more or less the same things again, and some of you will have the opportunity to do new things. In the gift of time, some things come to an end. Some people are granted the opportunity to achieve higher levels of perfection in the Christian life and some to make new beginnings. That is the gift of this coming year, whether you’re in one of any of those three categories – doing it for the last time and riding off into the sunset, with a happy heart we hope, having a chance to gain more experience and to further grow in the Christian life by ministering in Catholic education, or beginning to aspire to achievement of meekness and humility. All of you have all of these opportunities this year.”

At the conclusion of the Mass, Bishop Morin gave a special blessing to school principals.

Printed with permission from Gulf Pine Catholic, newspaper for the Diocese of Biloxi, Miss.

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Explosive new book details war on unborn baby girls

Washington D.C., Aug 27, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Imagine waking up one day to find that every single woman in the U.S. has disappeared.

Picture this, writes author and scientific journalist Mara Hvistendahl, and you will come close to understanding the magnitude of over 160 million baby girls being selectively aborted in Asia and East Europe over the last few decades.

Already critically acclaimed since its release in June, Hvistendahl's book, “Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys over Girls and the Consequences of a World Full of Men,” meticulously documents the phenomenon of “missing” girls and its dire implications for the future.

“It's a huge problem,” Hvistendahl told CNA on Aug. 24. “What I want readers to take away is that this is a global issue on the level of something like HIV/AIDS or female genital mutilation.”

Hvistendahl said that aside from the basic issue of baby girls being aborted due to their gender in countries such as China, India, Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan, other human rights abuses are beginning to arise from the shortage of women in these regions.

“Women are being bought and sold – trafficked for sex work and for marriage,” she said, noting that the increase in bride-buying and forced prostitution in these countries is staggering.

The author, a Colombia University graduate who has worked as a “Science” magazine correspondent in Beijing, said that her interest in the subject of gender imbalances began to increase after living in China for a few years.

“I didn't understand why sex selection was happening,” she said. “I just felt it wasn't very well explained.”

Hvistendahl set off to find out more, traveling to nine countries and interviewing doctors, mothers, prostitutes, demographers, mail-order brides and men who would be forced into lifelong bachelorhood.

She began to discover a complicated web of explanations but eventually found that some of the ideological roots of the problem could be traced to zealous population control efforts from the 1960s and 70s.

Through funding from western organizations such as the World Bank and the International Planned Parenthood Federation, grants were being funneled into population control initiatives in eastern countries, with sex-selective abortion seen as an effective tool.

The results of these efforts show that in places such as China today, as many as 120 baby boys or more are being born for every 100 baby girls.

In addition to the current problems that women are facing in these countries, “the question in my mind was, How was this going to effect society 30 years from now when this hugely imbalanced generation grows up and there are many more men than women?” Hvistendahl asked.

“There is a danger in jumping too far ahead and making predictions about what will happen,” she added, “but I think this will be a major issue in China and India for social stability.”

“The governments in both countries are very worried,” she said, noting that men statistically commit more violent crimes in societies.

It's a troubling prospect that Hvistendahl is not alone in noticing.

Dr. Nicholas Eberstadt – a political economist, demographer and member of the visiting committee at the Harvard School of Public Health – has often referred to the problem as a “war on baby girls.”

He outlined for CNA the three major factors he believes have led to the current crisis of gender imbalance.

The first is what he calls a “ruthless” son preference that is present in numerous cultures and religious systems.

That, coupled with the second problem of smaller families due to population control efforts such as China's “coercive” one-child policy, has made couples' quests for sons even more aggressive, he noted.

“When parents have five, six children, the gender outcome at birth isn't that critical,” Eberstadt said.

“But when parents are only going to have one or two children, the sex of that child seems to become something that parents want to have a say about.”

Eberstadt said that the third factor in the rise of sex-selective abortion in these countries is reliable, accessible and inexpensive prenatal gender determination technology, such as ultrasound machines, in areas with “policy environments of unconditional abortion.”

Despite the glaring human rights abuses caused by the practice, the United Nations Population Fund  (UNFPA) has been largely silent on the issue – a fact that's been noted by Hvistendahl and other experts.

Dr. Susan Fink Yoshihara, director of the International Organizations Research Group and vice president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, told CNA that the population fund has played “a major role” in the increase of sex-selective abortion.

“They do this by refusing to condemn the practice and mainly by promoting its two main causes: fertility control and increasing (the) availability of abortion.”

If the United Nations fund “says it promotes women’s rights,” Yoshihara said, “why do its leaders refuse to condemn this egregious practice of killing girls?”

Its “leadership has instead issued directives to its employees time and again that show UNFPA is more concerned with promoting abortion than defending women’s right to life.”

Adding to the problem is what many call the ineptitude of U.S. leadership in effectively addressing the issue of forced population control.

Vice President Joe Biden sparked controversy during his recent trip to China where he told leaders that he “fully understood” the country's one-child policy and was not “second guessing” it. 

His comments came during an Aug. 21 appearance at Chengdu's Sichuan University where he was discussing the United States' dilemma of paying for entitlement programs when the number of retirees exceeds the number of workers – a problem he said China shared.

The vice president's remarks in Chengdu drew widespread criticism, particularly from pro-life activists and his political opponents.

“Instead of using the power the American people gave him to speak up for human rights, he ignored his responsibility,” Yoshihara charged.

“His scandalous comments are but one example of how easy it is for us to turn away from our responsibility toward the poorest of the poor, in this case, the unborn child.”

Eberstadt was equally critical of the Biden’s remarks, but observed that the “silver lining” in the recent gaffe could be that more media attention is brought to the issue.

He said that demographers in China estimate that half of the missing 160 million girls could be attributed to the country's one child policy alone.

Eberstadt likened the problem of discrimination against baby girls to the issue of slavery during the 19th century, saying that sex-selective abortion needs to be stigmatized in the same way.

“I think that the only sure way of extirpating this – and it's an abomination – is the way we've extirpated other abominations in the past,” he said.

“Which is through a struggle of conscience and the advent of a new moral understanding of why something like this should be absolutely anathema to a decent, civilized society.”

But an even deeper problem that needs to be addressed, observed Yoshihara, is the underlying human tendency towards selfishness.

“The fundamental problem is that we do not love one another. We do not see that the inconvenient or unwanted person is just as valuable, just as worthy of love, as you and me.”

“Ideologies like radical feminism that undergird UNFPA’s refusal to speak out, ideologies like communism that justify coercing or even forcing mothers to abort their children, and ideologies of utilitarianism that subtly pervade our own society,” she said, “make it easy for us to say nothing in the face of unspeakable human suffering.”

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Cardinal O'Malley releases names of Boston priests accused of sex abuse

Boston, Mass., Aug 27, 2011 (CNA) - Cardinal Sean O'Malley has released an online list of the names of priests in the Archdiocese of Boston who have been accused of sex abuse within the last 60 years.

“The archdiocese is continually evaluating its policies and practices to ensure that our child protection and abuse prevention efforts are further strengthened,” the cardinal wrote in an Aug. 25 letter explaining his decision.

“Consistent with that effort, I have studied suggestions that we enhance the present Archdiocesan policy with respect to sharing information about clergy accused of sexually abusing minors.”

Cardinal O'Malley said that although 248 of Boston's priests and two deacons have been accused of child sex abuse since 1950, he decided against releasing 91 of the names.

These included deceased priests who weren't publicly accused, those working in Boston under religious orders or other dioceses and those accused in unsubstantiated accusations that never went public.

The Boston archbishop explained his reasons for not including the names of those clergy members, saying that not “only must the archdiocese honor its commitment to protect children, it must also be mindful of the due process concerns of those whose guilt has not been established.”

He added that is the case of deceased priests whose cases had never been investigated, “there is, by definition, no consideration relating to child protection, and the countervailing considerations related to due process and protecting reputations become more substantial.”

Cardinal O'Malley said that including the names of priests whose accusations could not be substantiated would be “unfair” to the clergy members, given that “civil or Church processes have already found the allegations against them to be unsubstantiated.”

Also not included on the list are any members of religious orders accused of sexually abusing minors outside the archdiocese, since the archdiocese “does not determine the outcome in such cases.”

The searchable list was released on the archdiocesan website on Aug. 25 and included the names of the accused clerics, their year of birth, their year of ordination, whether they are laicized, dismissed or convicted and a link to the cleric's assignment history.

The list of clergy members is divided into five categories, including those who have been found guilty of sexually abusing a child by Church or civil authorities and those who have been laicized after being accused.

Other categories include priests who have been accused but whose canonical investigations are still pending and those who have been publicly accused but who were already laicized prior to the archdiocese receiving the abuse allegations

The list also shows clergy members who have been publicly accused of abuse of a minor but whose canonical or criminal proceedings have not been completed due to the cleric's death.

“Having met with hundreds of survivors, I know firsthand the scars you carry. And I carry with me every day the pain of the Church’s failures,” Cardinal O'Malley said.

“My deepest hope and prayer is that the efforts I am announcing today will provide some additional comfort and healing for those who have suffered from sexual abuse by clergy and will continue to strengthen our efforts to protect God’s children.”

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