Archive of September 18, 2011

St. Padre Pio, ‘a man of prayer and suffering,’ celebrated Sept. 23

Denver, Colo., Sep 18, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

On Sept. 23, the Catholic Church remembers the Italian Franciscan priest St. Pio of Petrelcina, better known as “Padre Pio” and known for his suffering, humility and miracles.

The man later known by these names was originally named Francesco Forgione, born to his parents Grazio and Maria in 1887. His parents had seven children, two of whom died in infancy. They taught the five surviving children to live their faith through daily Mass, family prayer of the rosary, and regular acts of penance.

Francesco had already decided at a young age to dedicate his entire life to God. At age 10, he felt inspired by the example of a young Capuchin Franciscan, and told his parents: “I want to be a friar – with a beard.” Francesco’s father spent time in America, working to finance his son’s education so he could enter the religious life.

On Jan. 22, 1903, Francesco donned the Franciscan habit for the first time. He took the new name Pio, a modernized Italian form of “Pius,” in honor of Pope St. Pius V. He made his solemn vows four years later, and received priestly ordination in the summer of 1910. Shortly after, he first received the Stigmata – Christ’s wounds, present in his own flesh.

Along with these mystical but real wounds, Padre Pio also suffered health problems that forced him to live apart from his Franciscan community for the first six years of his priesthood. By 1916 he managed to re-enter community life at the Friary of San Giovanni Rotondo, where he lived until his death. He handled many duties as a spiritual director and teacher, covering for brothers drafted into World War I.

During 1917 and 1918, Padre Pio himself briefly served in a medical unit of the Italian army. He later offered himself as a spiritual “victim” for an end to the war, accepting suffering as a form of prayer for peace. Once again, he received the wounds of Christ on his body. They would remain with him for 50 years, through a succession of global conflicts.

Against his own wishes, the friar’s reputation for holiness, and attending miracles, began to attract huge crowds. Some Church officials, however, denounced the priest and had him banned from public ministry in 1931. Pope Pius XI ended the ban two years later, and his successor Pius XII encouraged pilgrimages to Padre Pio’s friary.

Known for patient suffering, fervent prayer, and compassionate spiritual guidance, Padre Pio also lent his efforts to the establishment of a major hospital, the “Home to Relieve Suffering.”

Padre Pio died in 1968, and was declared a saint in 2002. Three years after his death, Pope Paul VI marveled at his simple and holy life in an address to the Capuchin Order.

“A worldwide following gathered around him ... because he said Mass humbly, heard confessions from dawn to dusk and was – it is not easy to say it – one who bore the wounds of our Lord,” Pope Paul explained. “He was a man of prayer and suffering.”

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Anchorage to participate in largest international pro-life campaign

Anchorage, Alaska, Sep 18, 2011 (CNA) - The largest international campaign of prayer and fasting to end abortion has grown. Nearly 300 groups in five countries are set to join the upcoming 40 Days for Life effort, Sept. 28 to Nov. 6.

In Alaska, the event will take place in Anchorage, where for the fourth straight year participants will peacefully pray and hold signs in front of the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic on Lake Otis Parkway.

In past years, about 200 Alaskans have participated in the Anchorage vigil, including a strong showing of area Catholics.

“We have had a lot of involvement from Catholic people,” Anchorage campaign director Haylee Shields told the Catholic Anchor. “We try to reach out to all denominations, but the Catholic people are very consistent in accepting our invitation to be involved.”

Vigils will take place in 48 U.S. states plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, Canada, Australia, England, Spain and, for the first time, Germany and Argentina.

Shawn Carney, national director of 40 Days for Life, announced that the upcoming vigil will be the largest and longest international pro-life effort in history. He encouraged pro-lifers to join nearby campaigns to help pray and fast for an end to abortion.

Over the last four years, the 40 Days for Life campaigns have mobilized 400,000 people in peaceful fasting and prayer for an end to abortion.

A total of 4,313 lives have been reported as spared from abortion due to the prayers and presence of pro-lifers in the campaign — “and those are just the ones we know about,” Carney noted on the group’s Web site.

In Anchorage, director Haylee said at least one baby has been saved as “a direct result of the local campaign” but the impact has also raised community awareness of the reality of abortion in Alaska.

Nationally, 14 abortion facilities closed following local 40 Days for Life campaigns, and 53 abortion workers quit their jobs.

“The campaign is made up of volunteers,” Haylee explained. “The first thing we ask from volunteers is that they would pray. We also have people who will volunteer for standing at the vigil, which is the most visible aspect of the campaign.”

She said the effort is broken down into one-hour time slots, and participants can visit the Anchorage Web site to see the schedule and when volunteers are most needed.

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‘Waste’ in HPV vaccines shows need for vetoing child consent bill, says critic

Sacramento, Calif., Sep 18, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

“Scandalous” new information about the Gardasil HPV vaccines shows that California Gov. Jerry Brown should veto a state bill that allows 12 year olds to consent to such treatments without their parents’ involvement, opponents said ahead of the governor's expected decision.

William B. May, chairman of the California-based Catholics for the Common Good, said the bill has been designed to allow boys as well as girls to consent to the vaccine, although the Center for Disease Control currently only recommends it for girls.

“That doubles potential sales,” he said. Citing California Senate Appropriations estimates, he said this bill could mean more than $30 million of additional sales for Merck at taxpayer expense.

“Over a million more in taxpayer funds will be spent at the state level to pay the people providing the injections,” he said.

May also charged that most of the money would be “wasted.”

To immunize a patient, the vaccine requires the administration of three shots over a six-month period at a cost of $120 per injection. However, Centers for Disease Control statistics say that 73 percent of teenagers receiving injections never complete the series.

“These new facts are scandalous,” May said.

Bill A.B. 499, passed by the State Senate on Aug.31, would allow children 12 years old and older to consent to Gardasil vaccinations and other methods to prevent sexually transmitted diseases without telling their parents.

Gov. Brown may sign the bill into law this month, or he may decide it should not become law.

He has voiced concerns about parental rights, as in his recent veto of a bill that would mandate ski helmets for youth and impose criminal penalties on parents if their child skis or snowboards without a helmet.

“I am concerned about the continuing and seeming inexorable transfer of authority from parents to the state,” the governor said in his Sept. 6 veto message. “I believe parents have the ability and responsibility to make good choices for their children.”

In a Sept. 13 letter to the governor, May said opponents were “heartened” by his concern about parents’ rights. He said that A.B. 499 “takes away the rights of parents to make consequential healthcare decisions for their children.”

“Governor Brown should apply the same parental rights principles to A.B. 499 that he used when he recently vetoed the mandatory ski helmet bill,” May said Sept. 16.

He added that there are no protections against coercion from “adults with ulterior motives or profit incentives” to coerce or scare children into consenting to the vaccines.

“Children are not equipped to stand up to the authority of adults, to do research, to ask questions, and to understand statistics about health risks that would enable them to make informed decisions,” he continued.

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles has voiced similar concerns.

Disallowing parents’ involvement, he warned, could lead to pressure on children from “parties who may not have our best interests in mind” and who may have “financial or other motivations” to encourage vaccination.

He was praying for the veto, he said Sept. 6. He cited children’s “fundamental” rights to parental guidance and parents’ “fundamental” right and duty to be responsible for their children’s physical and spiritual well being.

“Our children need the knowledge and wisdom of their parents in order to make complicated medical decisions. This legislation would leave our children to make these decisions without the benefit of their parents’ wisdom.”

Opponents are asking California residents who oppose the bill to call the governor at (916) 445-2841 to voice their concerns, and to ask others to voice their concerns as well.

“It is critical to keep the calls coming,” May said.

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Pope calls on all to participate in New Evangelization

Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Sep 18, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Pope Benedict XVI called upon all Catholics Sept. 18 to participate in a new evangelization of the world.

“Today’s liturgy reminds us that we are all called to work in the vineyard of the Lord,” he told pilgrims gathered to pray the midday Angelus at his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome.

“He has given us diverse gifts, has assigned diverse tasks and determined diverse times for their performance. However, if we assume the work of our life with full dedication, we can expect the same pay: the joy of eternal participation the goodness of the Lord,” he said.

The Pope based his comments on today’s gospel reading in which Jesus recounts the parable of the vineyard owner who paid each of his workers the same wage regardless of how long they worked.

He also drew upon St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians, written while the apostle was imprisoned and awaiting his death, in which he states that “for to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

This “new sense of life” comes from communion with Jesus Christ who, said the Pope, is “not just a historical figure, a master of wisdom, a religious leader,” but is “a man in whom God dwells personally.”

“His death and resurrection is the good news that, starting from Jerusalem, is intended to reach all individuals and peoples,” said Pope Benedict. Thus all cultures are changed by being open to the truth that “God is love, he became man in Jesus and his sacrifice has redeemed humanity from the slavery of evil, making it a trustworthy hope.”

“Today we live in an era of new evangelization,” Pope Benedict said, drawing a parallel between the era of St. Paul and today. New evangelization is also a favored theme of his pontificate – the call to re-evangelize traditionally Christian parts of the world or, as the Pope put it today, the need for “regions of ancient Christian tradition” to “rediscover the beauty of faith.”

“The protagonists of this mission are men and women who, like St. Paul can say: 'For me to live is Christ.' People, families and communities that agree to work in the vineyard of the Lord.”

These are people who are “humble and generous” and who do not “ask for any reward other than to participate in the mission of Jesus and the Church.”

“Dear friends,” concluded the Pope, “the Gospel has transformed the world, and still is turning, like a river that irrigates a huge field.”

After the Angelus, Pope Benedict addressed various language groups, including German pilgrims. He said he looked forward to his four-day visit to Germany later this week and hoped the people of his native land will “respond generously to the offer of the boundless love of God and work for the good that is in the world.”

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