Archive of November 5, 2011

High school football player dedicates senior season to his late mom

Indianapolis, Ind., Nov 5, 2011 (CNA) -

He thought of his mother again on Senior Night as he walked across the football field with his father.

When his accomplishments as a high school student-athlete were announced to the crowd, he knew that his mother would have hung on every word as she also held onto his arm.

Indeed, if he could have had one wish granted in that moment, he wouldn’t have hesitated in making his choice. It would have been for her—his biggest fan—to be there with him and his dad.

“It was hard,” said Casey Moorman, recalling the Senior Night on Sept. 30 for the football team of Cardinal Ritter High School in Indianapolis, Ind.. “I tried to stay focused on the game, but I definitely was thinking about her a lot that night.”

He thought about the story she told him about his birth—how he was born without a hip socket on his right leg, and how doctors told his parents that he may never walk.

He recalled how she had always been there for him through the surgeries, how she had always encouraged him to never give up, and how she always had cheered loudly in the stands for him and his teammates.

He also remembered Feb. 3, 2011, when Shiela Moorman died unexpectedly in her sleep a few days after the mother of three had undergone surgery.

And just before he ran on the field as a starting linebacker for Cardinal Ritter’s football team, the 5-foot, 7-inch, 175-pound Casey did what he has done for every game this season: He dedicated the game to his mother.

The bond of a parent and child

The story of high school sports frequently focuses on the deep bonds that often form between players and coaches, and between players and their teammates. Yet, it can also be the story of the deeper connections that are created between children and their parents during a time when those bonds are changing and being challenged.

The story of Casey and Shiela Moorman began with the challenge of Casey being born without one of his hip sockets. But the true story starts with Shiela’s belief that the youngest of her three sons would overcome any limitations and any doctor’s lack of expectations.

“She was such a driving force in his life,” recalled Deb Swintz, a longtime friend of the Moorman family whose son, Matt, is a senior teammate of Casey. “She never saw him as a boy who needed to be coddled and treated as different. She told him to just try, keep pushing and never give up. And if it didn’t work out, keep trying again. When he didn’t do something right, she’d yell from the stands, ‘Casey Moorman, you pick up your feet and move.’ ”

Swintz’s voice softened as she added, “She couldn’t wait for this season to start. This would have meant everything to her to see Casey playing. This would be her time to watch Casey shine because he’s worked so hard.”

That work ethic has made Casey the person and the player he is, according to Ty Hunt, the head coach of Cardinal Ritter’s football team.

“I have an adage that when it’s time to go to work, roll up your sleeves so we can get things accomplished,” Hunt said. “Casey is one of those people I can count on to do that. Casey knows that God has blessed us with our talents, but when the time comes to put a little extra into it, you can achieve more when you do.”

Hunt also saw the connection between Casey and his mother.

“She recognized the things he had to overcome, and that he has overachieved,” Hunt said. “She wanted him to recognize that life is difficult, and that he would have to do things to overcome those times.”

Clinging to family, friends and faith

In the eight months since Shiela’s death, Casey’s father, John, has continued to be there for him. So have his two older brothers, John and Matt. There has also been the support of friends, teachers, coaches and teammates.

Among his teammates, perhaps no one understands what Casey is going through more than Thad Starsiak, a fellow senior who plays linebacker next to Casey. Thad’s mother died when he was 12.

“For me, it was really hard at first,” Thad says. “Casey has been outstanding through everything. He has an awesome work ethic. He works hard in the classroom and on the field. He’s a real good role model, and he’s a great friend, too. He’s going to go far in life.”

Sharing the bonds and the dreams of a team through months of weightlifting sessions, practices and games has helped Casey. So has being a part of the faith communities of the high school and St. Christopher Parish in Indianapolis.

“Their family is so close,” Swintz said. “Instead of being hurt and angry, they’ve clung to each other and their faith. Their hearts are breaking, but they keep picking up their feet every day.”

As Casey tries to keep moving forward, he also sometimes looks back.

He remembered that as soon as he recovered from his hip surgery when he was four, his mom had him start running and playing sports “because she didn’t want me sitting inside playing video games.”

He recalled the family dinners they had together.

He thought about the times she didn’t like a referee’s call, and how she would stand up in the bleachers and shout her displeasure.

Most of all, he focused on her goodness.

“She would do anything for you,” he said. “She was a great mother. She raised all three of us to be great people. I think I’m a pretty nice guy, and my brothers are very good people. She was always smiling and laughing about something. And she loved football.”

Casey smiled through most of his memories of his mom. But his emotions surfaced at one point.

“She wanted to see me be the best I could be,” he said softly. “She really wanted to see me play this year. I have personally dedicated the season to her. I keep that to myself, but I do like to play for her.”

Printed with permission from the Criterion, newspaper for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Ind.

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Kansas City paper refuses to answer Catholic League's bias charges

Kansas City, Mo., Nov 5, 2011 (CNA) -

Kansas City Star staff members are offering no explanation of the paper's refusal to publish an ad from the Catholic League, a decision the group attributes to a bias against the Church.

“Almost two weeks ago, we contacted the Kansas City Star about running a full-page ad on Sunday, October 30,” said Catholic League President Bill Donohue. The ad criticized the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) – the subject of a recent Star profile – and defended Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn against what Donohue calls “politically motivated attacks.”

“On October 25, we submitted the ad exactly the way they wanted it, and indeed gave them our credit card information to pay the $25,000 fee,” Donohue recalled in an Oct. 31 statement. “On October 26, we received an e-mail which said that 'The Publisher has respectfully declined and did not share the details as to why.'”

Donohue claims the Star, which called for Bishop Finn's resignation in a June 4 editorial, has formed an “alliance” against the bishop with the abuse survivor's network. That relationship, he says, caused the paper to turn down his ad accusing SNAP of “taking aim at Bishop Finn.” 

“The Kansas City Star has long been in bed with SNAP,” stated Donohue, who said both were “decidedly anti-Catholic.”

So far, staff members responsible for advertising at the Star have refused to respond to the charge.

CNA made several unsuccessful attempts to discuss the matter with Star Publisher Mi-Ai Parrish, during the week of Oct. 31.

Derek Donovan, readers' representative at the paper, referred questions to Parrish. He said decisions to accept or reject ads were “part and parcel of what the publisher does,” and recommended asking Parrish about the Catholic League's rejected spot.

An assistant to Parrish confirmed that she was in the office, but unavailable, when contacted. As of Nov. 4, CNA had received no response to messages left with the Kansas City Star publisher.

Director of Advertising Jennifer Kisser said on Oct. 31 that she was “not familiar” with the ad in question, and had “not heard a thing about it.” Kisser said she was “not at all aware of anything pertaining to the Catholic League” but directed inquiries to Retail and National Advertising Director Julie Terry, who did not respond to requests for an interview.

The only direct comment on the rejection of the Catholic League ad came from Donovan, the readers' representative, who said it was “a business decision that has to do with the advertising division.”

Donovan said the paper's call for Bishop Finn's resignation in a June editorial, had not compromised its later reporting on the bishop, who is in a legal battle over his treatment of a priest charged with possessing child pornography.

The reader's representative said he found the Star's coverage of the case “pretty darn fair.”

He also said there was a “big difference between the editorial board,” with responsibility for the piece urging Bishop Finn to step down, and “what the news side is saying” in its coverage of the same topic.

The Catholic League, however, has continued to question the Star's treatment of the Church.

On Nov. 2, Donohue reminded league supporters of a 1999 survey by the Star, asking Catholic priests nationwide about their sexuality.

“They were asked such things as: identify your sexual orientation; discuss whether you have HIV or AIDS; assess how the Church is handling this issue; and explain whether the Church should change its teachings on celibacy and homosexuality,” the Catholic League president noted. “No other religious or secular institution was surveyed.”

“Expecting that most would disagree with celibacy and the Church's teachings on homosexuality, the end game would then be realized: this is how the Star expected to manipulate public opinion, putting pressure on the Church to change its teachings.”

Donohue said the majority of respondents had not expressed such views. “Yet virtually all the remarks printed in the Star came from priests who were critical of the Church!”

After that poll, he said, “the Star showed even more contempt for privacy rights by combing the death certificates of deceased priests looking for dirt.”
“By any measure, the Star showed its bias, as well as its necromania,” said Donohue.

The Catholic League president has also pointed to the Star's shaky finances, as evidence that it would not turn down his ad merely as a business decision.

“Ten years ago, there were 1,869 employees at the Star; today there are 840,” he said. “Given these data, turning down $25,000 – in today's economy –  must mean the Star is more concerned about getting Bishop Finn than it is the welfare of its own workers.”

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Mississippi prepares to vote on Personhood Amendment

Jackson, Miss., Nov 5, 2011 (CNA) - An upcoming Mississippi ballot initiative will give voters the chance to extend the legal definition of “person” to include unborn children, from the beginning of their biological development.

“It’s a really big deal because Mississippi is one of most pro-life states in America, and it looks like it’s going to be the first to pass,” said Keith Mason, president and co-founder of Personhood USA.

Mississippi voters will determine the fate of Amendment 26, known as the “Personhood Amendment,” on Nov. 8.

Mason said in an interview with CNA that he hopes a victory in Mississippi will give “a lot of enthusiasm and adrenaline to the pro-life movement.”

He explained that the amendment has enjoyed wide bipartisan support, including that of Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, who is running for governor of Mississippi.

On Nov. 4, the measure gained the support of the state’s current governor, Haley Barbour, who cautiously voiced his support for the amendment.

“I have some concerns about it,” Barbour said. “But I think all in all, I believe life begins at conception, so I think the right thing to do was to vote for it.”

Catholic Bishop Joseph N. Latino of Jackson was also circumspect about the amendment, stating that “the Diocese is not taking a position for or against Proposition 26.”

In an Oct. 28 letter, Bishop Latino expressed support for the goal of the amendment but raised concerns about the unintended legal challenges it could raise because of the many references to “persons” in various state laws.

He said individual Catholics should “make their own choice on the initiative based on an informed conscience.”

Personhood USA has spent several years working through voter ballot initiatives to put  amendments before the people.

The non-profit organization was able to add personhood amendments on the ballot in Colorado in 2008 and 2010.

Both amendments failed, but the support for the amendment increased from the first election to the second.

“What happened in Colorado is a lesson for the entire nation,” said Mason.

He explained that the demographics of Colorado make it a “test market state” and allow it to be used as a template for the rest of the country.

The amendments in Colorado illustrated an incremental positive effect, something that Mason views as key in ultimately banning abortion across the nation.

Mason has studied how the momentum of social movements has historically grown. Using the examples of the abolition of the slave trade, the civil rights movement and the women’s suffrage movement, he explained that a correlation exists between public awareness of a social movement and support for the movement. 

Ballot initiatives to allow women’s suffrage were introduced year after year in South Dakota, Mason explained. Although they continued to be defeated, they gained support every year that they were on the ballot, until women eventually secured the right to vote.

“Coming back repetitively, again and again, and pushing our message and just tirelessly fighting for the dignity of those pre-born children is the path to victory in America,” he said.

Mason acknowledged that a victory in Mississippi could lead to the issue being brought before the Supreme Court.

If the state of Mississippi acknowledges unborn human beings as persons, a 10th Amendment battle could be raised, with the state of Mississippi holding a different interpretation that that of the federal government, he said.

However, the Supreme Court is not Mason’s ultimate goal.

“This could rise or fall in the Supreme Court many, many times,” he explained.

Rather, the goal is to raise awareness about “a federal constitutional amendment.”

“Raising awareness is one of the biggest keys to actually winning this issue,” he said.

Mason believes that local efforts to raise awareness have already yielded positive results.

“The personhood protection in the 14th Amendment is being debated now in the presidential debates,” he said. “That’s largely because we’re stirring things up on the grassroots level.”

In recent months, Personhood USA has been gathering signatures to put an amendment on the ballot in other states, including Florida, Ohio, Montana, Nevada, California and Colorado.

“So this is going to set us up well for 2012 to make human dignity a major issue of the next election cycle,” Mason explained.

“We’re at the cusp of a defining moment for the pro-life movement this year in Mississippi,” he said.

“It’s going to be great.”

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Vatican Radio director welcomes seven billionth baby

Vatican City, Nov 5, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., the director general of Vatican Radio, welcomed the birth of the seven billionth person in his weekly editorial.

“Dear baby number seven billion,” said the Italian priest Nov. 5, “we pray that you can understand that your life will find its fullest meaning not in this world but in the next. Because this is what you were born for. Your Creator and Father made you for this.”

Fr. Lombardi delivered his thoughts only days after a major United Nations report estimated that world’s population reached the seven billion mark on Oct. 31. The report, “State of World Population 2011,” also estimated that the earth’s total population could number more than 10 billion by the end of this century.

Fr. Lombardi speculated about the circumstances and geography of this week’s seven billionth birth.

“I don’t know if you were born on a remote island, or in a refugee tent. I don’t know whether you are healthy or sick or handicapped. I don’t know whether both your parents were there to embrace you at your birth, or whether your mother alone was there to hold you.”

Though some commentators have criticized population growth, the U.N. report casts some positive light on the phenomenon.

“There is much to celebrate in world population trends over the last 60 years,” it comments, adding “our record population size can be viewed in many ways as a success for humanity.”

The report particularly welcomes the rise in average life expectancy, which “leapt from about 48 years in the early 1950s to about 68 in the first decade of the new century.” It also cited decline in infant deaths which have “plunged” from about 133 in 1,000 births in the 1950s to 46 per 1,000 in the period from 2005 to 2010. It also praises the work of immunization campaigns that have reduced the prevalence of childhood diseases worldwide.

In his words to “baby number seven billion,” Fr. Lombardi dismissed concerns about overpopulation.

“I don’t know whether people will say there are too many or too few of you and your contemporaries. Today, I don’t care about that.”

Fr. Lombardi told the landmark baby that the world he or she is coming into “is a bit complicated and it’s not friendly for everyone.”

“We haven’t done a very good job preparing it for you,” he admitted.

He noted that the G20 Summit of the world’s wealthiest nations had just concluded its two-day meeting in the French city of Cannes.

“The leaders of the richest and most powerful nations are sitting around a table, struggling to find a way forward. We too are asking ourselves about your future.”

His overall message to the baby, however, was a personalized and emotional one. He told the baby that he or she is “unique and special, that you are a wonderful gift, that you are a miracle, that your spirit will live forever, and so you are welcome.”

“We hope that when you smile someone will respond to your smile, and when you cry someone will caress you. We hope you can go to school and that you won’t go hungry. We hope that someone will answer your questions wisely and encourage you as you find your place in the world.”

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