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Archive of November 10, 2011

Book outlines threat of Muslim blasphemy laws to free speech

Washington D.C., Nov 10, 2011 (CNA) - A new book on blasphemy and apostasy laws shows the dangers that intolerant policies pose to freedom of speech in both Muslim countries and the Western world.

“The freedom to discuss religion, the freedom to discuss faith, even to disagree, to argue, to criticize—this is at the heart of a free democratic politics,” Paul Marshall, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, told CNA.

Marshall said that free speech is particularly important in countries such as Iran where politics and religion are intertwined.

His new book “Silenced: How Apostasy Laws and Blasphemy Codes are Choking Freedom Worldwide” (Oxford University Press, $35.00), examines laws punishing blasphemy and apostasy in the Muslim world and how those laws are affecting the Western world, including America.

Marshall co-authored the book with Nina Shea, director of the Center for Religious Freedom.

In a Nov. 2 talk at the Heritage Foundation, he spoke about the Iranian regime, which he described as “one of the world’s worst religious persecutors.”

He explained that Christians and members of other faiths “cannot enter government service or hold commissions in the armed forces” because a non-Muslim cannot be in a position of authority over a Muslim. If they are ever accused of blasphemy or apostasy, they face death. 

Marshall said that the persecution of religious minorities is “pervasive in the Muslim world,” not only through legal punishments, but also through private violence including vigilante killings to punish apostasy and blasphemy. 

Ultimately, without religious freedom, “you cannot have political freedom,” he underscored, “because political discussions are expressed in religious terms and religious categories.”

In a Nov. 4 interview with CNA, he outlined the consequences that this intolerant mindset has had on the United States.

“In America, we have very strong protections in the First Amendment for free speech,” he said. However, he added, America is also influenced by a strong presence of “private intimidation and fear.”

“People are scared of what might happen to them,” he said. “They’re scared of getting attacked.”

He recalled the threats received by Yale University Press several years ago after deciding to publish a book about Danish cartoons, including some of Muhammad.

In covering the story, many newspapers did not show even a distant photograph of what those cartoons were, he said. Yale University Press ultimately refused to show the cartoons about Muhammad in the book.

Marshall also gave the example of the irreverent show South Park, which “insults anybody and everybody.” He noted that Comedy Central would not allow the show to depict a parody of Muhammad, although it permitted other religious figures to be ridiculed.

Such double standards show that “we’ve become hypersensitive to this,” he said.

He noted that although such censorship is often masked by claims of “being sensitive,” other religions are not treated with the same courtesy.

Marshall predicted that if such a mindset continues to grow, an increasing number of people “will self-censor out of fear.” Such censorship is threatening to freedom of speech, an element that exists “at the core of democracy.”

He argued that in order to solve the problem, people need to understand what is happening and realize the importance of the freedoms at stake.

Americans must insist upon the idea that in a free society, “you will be insulted, and you need to argue back. That’s how you deal with issues.”

“We need to insist that people learn to do these things,” Marshall said. “We need to push an agenda of the importance of freedom.”

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‘Gay marriage’ activists using issue to impose their worldview, UK writer warns

London, England, Nov 10, 2011 (CNA) -

Homosexual rights advocates in the U.K. have “hegemonic ambitions” and are using the push for “gay marriage” to impose their worldview on everyone else, Alan Craig charged in a controversial column for an Anglican newspaper.

Craig, the leader of the Christian Peoples Alliance, wrote in the Oct. 28 edition of The Church of England Newspaper that gay rights groups in the U.K are “a victorious Gaystapo” who have “forcibly, and understandably, rectified the Versailles-type injustices and humiliations foisted on the homosexual community.”

However, Craig took a strident tone against their current actions.

“Their gay-rights stormtroopers take no prisoners as they annex our wider culture, and hotel owners, registrars, magistrates, doctors, counsellors, and foster parents, grandparents, adoption agencies and traditional street preachers find themselves crushed under the pink jackboot.”

Their partisans, he charged, now occupy the British establishment. Equalities legislation means “homosexuals are now protected and privileged by sexual orientation regulations and have achieved legal equality by way of civil partnerships.”

Legislation in the U.K. has shut down adoption agencies and foster care services, including all Catholic-run organizations, which cannot in good conscience place children with homosexual couples. Magistrates who cannot place children with such couples have also been forced to resign, while longtime foster couples, such as Owen and Eunice Johns, have also been barred from hosting more children because of their Christian views on the immorality of the homosexual lifestyle.

Street preachers who condemn homosexuality have also faced fines and arrests.

Groups like Stonewall and OutRage! who push for “gay marriage” want to “hijack a word and capture our culture at its deepest level,” Craig’s column continued. “They want to reconfigure relationships, eliminate the traditional family and hence eradicate stable upbringing for our children.”

“Cultural domination is their aim and fascist-type intolerance of politically incorrect dissent is their weapon. The eradication of marriage as ‘the life-long union between a man and a woman’ is a huge next step along their way.”
 
Ben Summerskill, the chief executive of Stonewall, condemned the column as “deeply disturbing and highly offensive.”

“We are sure that many of the paper's advertisers, such as the University of Sheffield, will be deeply disturbed to read this crass and homophobic article,” he told the British newspaper The Guardian.

The Church of England Newspaper is independent of the Church of England, though it carries advertisements for Anglican church jobs and is read by its clergy.

Colin Blankley, the newspaper’s editor, defended the column. He told The Guardian that Craig’s views are “pertinent.” However, Blankely said he was on vacation the week it was published and if he had seen it he would have asked Craig to “tone the language down somewhat.”

Craig told The Guardian he was “pretty careful” to target the leadership of homosexual advocacy groups.

“I've nothing against ordinary gay people but the leadership, well I stick by my word ‘Gaystapo.’ It is bullying,” he said. “I oppose bullying and hatred in all its forms. There is no justification for the bullying or intimidation of gays and that has been rectified in law, but we've moved on to a new game. We're now seeing these attitudes of intolerance they accuse their opponents of.”

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Global 'right to abortion' rejected at Brazilian pro-life conference

Sao Paulo, Brazil, Nov 10, 2011 (CNA) -

There is no basis for claiming a “right to abortion” in international law, a human rights lawyer explained at a major pro-life summit held in Brazil from Nov. 3-6.

“This is (the) strategy of the opposition – manipulate the truth by claiming that there is a global right to abortion and repeat it over and over again,” said Piero A. Tozzi, senior legal council at the Alliance Defense Fund, in a speech to Human Life International's Second International Congress for Truth and Life.

“Repeated enough, perception becomes reality,” he warned, as he described the attempt to raise non-binding statements about abortion “rights” into “something that must be followed and obeyed.”

Tozzi's Nov. 6 speech to the congress, which met at St. Benedict's Monastery in downtown Sao Paolo, came as a bill advanced in Argentina's legislature that would legalize abortion for any reason within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. It would also allow girls as young as 14 to abort a child without parental consent, and fund free abortions in public hospitals.

“A number of well-known 'human rights' organizations have stressed their support, as have certain members of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, claiming that there is a 'right' to abortion under international law,” explained Tozzi.

But he went on to explain that the claimed “right” is a fabrication that was not thought to exist in global conventions or treaties until quite recently.

“As recently as 2005, it was the position of one of the human rights organizations that supports changing the Argentine law – Amnesty International – that 'there is no generally accepted right to abortion in international human rights law,'” he said, quoting from Amnesty's own Feb. 2005 report “Women, Violence and Health.”

By 2008, however, Amnesty was claiming that Mexico would violate its “international human rights obligations” by repealing a law that liberalized abortion access in Mexico City.

“What had changed between 2005 and 2008 in international human rights law?” asked Tozzi. “Absolutely nothing.”

The only change, he said, was “a 2006 policy decision by Amnesty International to go from neutrality on the issue of abortion to one of advocacy.”

The Alliance Defense Fund senior council went on to explain that the norms of international conduct have two main sources: treaties, and “customary international law.” The first relies on states' explicit agreements, while the second derives from generally accepted practices.

Neither of these two sources, he said, gives evidence for an international “right” to abortion. In fact, he noted, several international agreements say the opposite.

He cited the American Convention on Human Rights, also known as the “Pact of San Jose,” which affirms the right to life “from conception.”

Tozzi also pointed to the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, which not only upholds a right to life but also singles out pregnant women as one of two groups – along with minor children – to whom the death penalty can never apply. In the case of pregnant women, he said, this is because the child is understood as a separate person whose life should be spared.

Similarly, he noted, the U.N.'s Convention on the Rights of the Child declares that children need “special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.”

In terms of international law's second source—generally accepted customs—Tozzi said several countries' pro-life legislative efforts and achievements showed the lack of such an acceptance of abortion.

“A number of nations have tightened the laws on abortion, Russia most recently,” he said. “In 2009 the Dominican Republic’s government passed a constitutional amendment protecting life from conception; so too have more than half the Mexican states.” He noted that East Timor and Hungary have both adopted similar protections in recent years.

Even the outcome document of the 1995 Beijing Women's Conference, a non-binding source of guidance that caused controversy over the issue of abortion, did not speak of it as a right.

Instead, Tozzi noted, the document says that “where legal, it should be safe,” but that each country should be allowed to decide the matter for itself according to the idea of national sovereignty.

“But the pro-abortion strategy does not respect this principle,” observed Tozzi. “Instead, they bring lawsuits and count on activist judges to do their work.”

In an interview with CNA after his speech, Tozzi said pro-life advocates must be ready to correct those who speak of abortion as a right in international law.

“If, as often happens, groups claim that there's a right to abortion, it's important that people say 'No,' that there is not,” the international human rights lawyer advised.

“There is no such thing in international law as a 'right to abortion.' This is a concept that is completely fabricated by abortion advocates and their supporters in transnational organizations such as the United Nations.”

The assertion of such a right, he said, relies upon “the manipulation of language – to take something that is clear, such as protection 'from conception,' and twist it into its opposite.”

“It's really the spirit of relativism,” he said, calling the strategy an “attack upon the truth as well as upon unborn life.”

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Pope set to visit Mexico and Cuba in spring 2012

Vatican City, Nov 10, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI is expected to visit both Mexico and Cuba in the spring of 2012.

“The nuncios in Mexico and Cuba have been instructed to inform the highest civil and religious authorities that the Pope is examining concrete plans to visit those states, in response to invitations he has received,” papal spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., said on Nov 10.

Fr. Lombardi said it is “well-known that expectations among people in Mexico are high,” while “Cuba also has great desire to see the Pope, having never forgotten the historic visit of John Paul II,” back in 1998.

This would be Pope Benedict’s first visit to the Spanish-speaking countries of Latin America, but it would not be his first trip to South America. He visited Brazil in 2007 and hopes to return there for World Youth Day in 2013.

Mexico “wished for a visit of their own,” explained Fr. Lombardi, adding that it’s something the Pope is well aware of “and is happy to be able to respond.”

Meanwhile, relations between the Catholic Church and the communist regime in Cuba have steadily improved since Pope John Paul’s visit 13 years ago. This has increasingly been the case under the somewhat less authoritarian rule of President Raúl Castro – the brother of the country’s former leader Fidel – who came to power in 2006.

Fr. Lombardi highlighted this “particularly important moment” in Cuba’s history and said that “the Pope’s visit will be a great encouragement,” especially for its people, who will be celebrating the 400th anniversary of the discovery the statue of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre. The Marian statue was found four centuries ago by three young boys after a storm in the Bay of Nipe, which is on the southeastern shores of the island. She is now Cuba’s patroness.

Given the proximity of both countries, Fr. Lombardi said “it would seem more logical to visit these two countries in a single, though necessarily long journey.” The itinerary being considered “would not have many stages” but would instead focus on a few stops that would carry “great symbolic and pastoral importance.”

The overarching reason given for the visit is the continuation of the “great continental mission of evangelization,” that was launched at the 2007 gathering of Latin American and Carribean bishops in Aparecida, Brazil, as well as to assist “preparations for the celebration of the Year of Faith,” which begins in October 2012.

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Chilean bishops to address youth riots at upcoming meeting

Santiago, Chile, Nov 10, 2011 (CNA) - Bishops in Chile will discuss issues facing young people in the country including recent protests over education funding that have turned violent.

The Chilean bishops' conference will meet for its 102nd plenary assembly Nov.14-18 in the city of Punta de Tralca.

Youth in the capital of Santiago have held numerous protests within the last few months over education policies and have demanded that the government provide education to all Chileans free of charge. Some of the protests turned violent after young people clashed with riot police.

The Chilean bishops have urged peaceful resolution and decided to devote part of their upcoming assembly to the issue.

The meeting will open on Nov. 14 with a Mass celebrated by the Apostolic Nuncio to Chile, Archbishop Ivo Scapolo. Youth outreach will be a main topic at the bishops’ assembly, as the Church in Chile will be launching a national Youth Mission in 2012 as part of the Great Continental Mission taking place across Latin America.

Fifteen young people from various regions in Chile have also been invited to address the bishops on issues of importance to them.

The bishops will also elect a new secretary general as well as two bishops who will represent them at the 13th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will take place in Oct. 2012 in Rome on the topic of evangelizing the modern world.

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Bishop Lori reveals details of Religious Liberty Committee

Rome, Italy, Nov 10, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport says that the U.S. bishops’ new Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty will officially meet for the first time this Sunday, Nov. 13.
 
He also revealed that the committee, which is “just getting organized,” will likely consist of “about 10 bishops” as well as “a number of very qualified lay consultors.”

“What is our goal? It is first of all to lift up the whole area of religious freedom, beginning with the teaching of the Church in ‘Dignitatis Humanae’--the Second Vatican Council’s declaration on religious freedom,” said Bishop Lori told CNA on Nov. 8.
 
He also sees the committee’s task as “recouping, if you will, the vision of our Founding Fathers of the United States.”

The new religious liberty committee was created to address “growing concerns over the erosion of freedom of religion in America.”

The bishops on the committee will be supported by a lawyer who specializes in the area of religious freedom and a lobbyist who will handle both religious liberty and marriage issues.

Bishop Lori explained that his committee will begin its work by addressing the “erosion of our religious liberties in the United States,” particularly those where religious freedom is “deemed a second class right, subordinate to so called ‘rights’ of abortion and same-sex marriage, which are nowhere mentioned in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights.”

He feels that in defending life and marriage the Church is increasingly “being painted as discriminatory institution and is therefore being made to suffer.”
 
That punishment is being meted out by the state, he explained, pointing to the Church being denied contracts to help the poor, being driven out of foster care and adoption, and being required to cover sterilization and contraception in its health care services.
 
He also highlighted a threat to the “ministerial exception” in the Hosanna Tabor v. EEOC case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. Bishop Lori noted that the exception which allows churches to choose their own ministers is a “long-recognized principle in constitutional law.”

All these threats are “serious issues and unprecedented” in U.S. history, he said.

Besides focusing on specific threats, Bishop Lori said the committee will also aim to foster deeper change at the cultural level.

“The place of God and the place of organized religion and of believers has begun to erode in our culture and that is now being reflected in law,” he said.

“Law reflects culture and culture reflects law and, so, one of the things we must do is to re-evangelize the culture in this particular area.”
 

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Famed Spanish director releases film on powerful conversions

Lima, Peru, Nov 10, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Spanish filmmaker Juan Manuel Cotelo released a new movie featuring radical conversion stories of gang members turned priests and prostitutes leaving their former lives to follow Christ.

“What prescription can you give me that is more effective than allowing oneself to be conquered by the love of God?” Cotelo told CNA on Nov. 9.

“I am convinced that there never has nor ever will be anyone who has put the prescriptions of Jesus Christ into practice and has not been healed of all their wounds. No one.”

Known for his smash hit documentary “La Ultima Cima” (The Last Summit),  Cotelo's new movie “Te Puede Pasar a Ti” (It Could Happen to You) will be released on Nov. 11 and will be available online and in stores worldwide.

Conversion stories include a former Colombian gang member who joined the priesthood, a divorced Masonic woman who attacked the Church and is now a devout Catholic, and the testimony of a Mexican gay prostitute who discovered that the love of God was greater than his sufferings.

In an interview with CNA, Cotelo said that God gives men and women purpose in life and that no one can find happiness by running away from him.

The full interview with Cotelo follows:

CNA: How did the idea for this project come about?

Without any thought beforehand, without any planning, and from a series of accidental encounters with people who told me how their lives were changed after discovering the love God had for them. I did not seek out any of the people in the film; they all showed up in my life, one after the other.

I asked the first one if I could interview him, without knowing what I would do later with the footage.  But I came across one convert after another after another…and even now people continue to tell me their conversion stories, all of which are fascinating.

CNA: Were you inspired by a particular person or thing to do this?

I wasn’t inspired by anything, because there is no contribution of my own to their stories.  Everything is focused down to meeting them, asking them questions and listening. I didn’t have to make up or add anything, except to create a friendly format in which to frame the narration of each story.

Within that format I have included actors, experts and other elements which are there to provide dynamism to the narrative, but in terms of content, my contribution is very easy and simple. I turn the camera on and ask them about everything, unafraid of the truth, beginning with my own doubts and those of my friends who don’t share the faith. The force of their answers lies in that they don’t give theoretical lessons, but rather they speak from the experience of their own relationships with God.

CNA: Why the choice to produce material that deals with religion or faith in a world where that doesn’t seem to matter?

That question should be asked of the person who says the world doesn’t care about religion or faith. I am convinced that there is no other issue that matters more to the world than religion and faith.

There isn’t another…or can you tell me what does? What other thing has the real and proven capacity to heal the wounds of any person? What prescription can you give me that is more effective than allowing oneself to be conquered by the love of God?  I am convinced that there never has nor ever will be anyone who has put the prescriptions of Jesus Christ into practice and has not been healed of all their wounds. No one.

There has never been nor will there ever be anyone who accepts the will of God and is unhappy.

I believe with all my strength in the efficacy of the love of God, in his real, concrete and constant action with each one of us. If we don’t believe it, it is because we have not put it to the test, because we have reduced religion to the practice of a series of rites without surrendering our hearts to God. The prescription of the Our Father prayer works: treating God as a good and close father, as someone who deserves our respect and affection, who we pray to, thank and honor. Life is completely changed if we live with God, in God and for God.

With the same conviction, I hold that a person who runs from the love of God will never find happiness. He’s like a tree trying to run from its roots and refusing to grow towards the sky. The only thing he’ll end up with is constant tension and, finally, his own suicide.

CNA: Did you meet any other person you were not able to include in the film because of time constraints?

There are hundreds of cases, because the action of God remains alive and constant, today and always. Our intention is to tell an unlimited number of them in future installments. Any viewer will be able to see that he or she is also love by God and was born for something great.

CNA: Do you know of any case of someone finding their faith again after seeing the movie? What do you hope it will do for people?

The first ones to see these conversion stories were a group of 60 college students, of which 42 declared beforehand in writing that they were agnostics, atheists or indifferent about the faith.  After seeing it, 59 of them thanked me in writing as well, and asked me to know more about the faith.

I was surprised that they were all interested in knowing more about the life of prayer, the sacraments, the forgiveness of God and forgiving others…They didn’t care about the more superficial aspect of religion that is often portrayed in the media. I think we are going to see more of these kinds of reactions. It’s as if there was a “taboo” issue in religious news: talking directly about God and his concrete and present-day action.

We talk about God as if He were a philosophical concept, and energetic idea, a ethereal force, but it is rare to read or hear God talked about as He is: a person, a will, a living being, the most living, real, close and concrete being that exists.

We have turned God into an interesting and empty concept…into somebody who created us, came and then left! But God is not a concept nor is He far away.  He is our Father, Creator, Friend, Brother, Servant. When we treat Him with the realistic perspective of who He really is and who we are, everything changes.

CNA: Of all the stories in the film, which one touched you most and why?

They all have touched me for a very simple reason: I felt and continue to feel profound envy for each one of these converts, like anyone who envies somebody in love. When you talk to somebody who has discovered the essence of life, the love that God has for us and that we should give to everyone as well, what you feel is envy. Envy for any one of them and for all of them, without calling any particular one better or worse than the others. God loves everyone the same and He doesn’t put us into categories.

The love of God is contagious and has a force that goes beyond the small limits of our intelligence.  Nobody falls in love with God with his head. But you do fall in love with the heart, with a certainty greater than that which can be gained by any means of measuring or by any rational argument.

We love God like we love our parents, friends, siblings, spouses, children…Trust in God allows us to soar in a life that is full of arguments to just keep quiet and stay on the ground. God elevates us beyond our possibilities. There is an abyss between living alone and allowing ourselves to be led by God. It is so appealing to meet someone who has discovered this!

CNA: Is producing this kind of material profitable? If not, why do it?

I am not able to find material more profitable than this. Can anybody suggest content that has greater profitability? When you see that what you have produced has the real ability to heal any wound a person has, to resuscitate people who are walking through life like zombies…what greater profitability could you want? I can’t find it anymore.  Are you going to have me trade that for a handful of dollars, no matter how big? No, please, don’t fool me by offering me something as small as money.

Money is simply a means that can be put to the service of something greater. We don’t work to make money, like so many other companies do, but rather we put our money, cameras, the time God has given us, our intelligence and creativity to the service of God and people.

We spend everything, including money in service to God. We began this company without a single penny in our pockets and it will continue to survive without a single penny in our pockets, because everything we get is invested directly into working for God and for people. The day we start seeking or accumulating economic wealth is the day this company will die. It wasn’t created for that.

CNA: When, where and how is this film going to be distributed?

On Nov. 11 it will be available to everyone on our website: http://www.infinitomasuno.org/. But it can also be purchased in many stores in Spain, and soon in stores around the world in response to requests we have already received.

CNA: Are you working on any other projects to promote the faith?

Yes, there are a number of different projects: three full-length fictional films based on real events, a documentary on the actions of the Virgin Mary in today’s world, a theatrical play, two books, formation seminars…There are so many beautiful stories to tell and so many people who have never heard the truth about God. There is no time to lose or a lack of ideas.

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Pope highlights unemployment as threat to human dignity

Vatican City, Nov 10, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI has called attention to the problem of unemployment as a threat to the dignity of individuals and families, in a message to the bishops' conference of Ecuador.

“Through work man comes to see himself as a participant in God's plan of creation,” the Pope wrote in his letter to Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference President Archbishop Antonio A. Yarza.

“This is why unemployment or precarious work undermine man's dignity, creating not just situations of injustice and poverty which frequently degenerate into desperation, criminality and violence, but also crises of identity.”

Pope Benedict's message, released Nov. 10, addressed the South American bishops assembled for the second Ecuadorian National Family Congress meeting from Nov. 9-12.

But the warning about unemployment will likely resonate with many countries struggling economically or facing new crises.

October figures from the U.S. Department of Labor showed an jobless rate of 9 percent. In its most recent report, the European Commission found that unemployment in the European Union had risen slightly to 9.7 percent.

The Pope stated that “serious, effective and judicious measures” must be “taken on all sides … to ensure that everyone has access to dignified, stable and well paid employment.”

Through such work, those now unemployed “may seek sanctity and participate actively in the development of society, combining intense and responsible labor with adequate time for a rich, fruitful and harmonious family life.”

Pope Benedict noted that work makes a difference for families as well as individuals, in every area of life.

“Work and rest are particularly associated with the life of families,” he observed. “They affect the choices families make, influence relations between spouses and among parents and children, and affect the ties of families with society and with the Church.”

The Pope noted that workers need rest, not only for their own sake but for their families, friends, and God. He highlighted the importance of Sunday as a time both for rest and for worship.

Resting from work, Pope Benedict said, “makes our time more human, opening it to the encounter with God, with others and with nature.”

“For this reason families need to rediscover the genuine significance of rest, and especially of Sunday, the day of God and man.”

On this day, he said, “families experience the real presence of the risen Lord in the here and now, they receive new life, welcome the gift of the Spirit, increase their love for the Church, listen to the Divine Word, share the Eucharistic bread and open to fraternal love.”

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Sir Jimmy Savile and the saint in the making

Scarborough, England, Nov 10, 2011 (CNA) - The death of British television legend Sir Jimmy Savile has re-ignited hopes for the beatification of the Scottish nun he always believed saved his life as a baby.
 
“I would hope that obituaries being written about Sir Jimmy’s life this week will also remind many people of the life of Venerable Margaret Sinclair and will encourage them to pray to her for more miracles, paving the way for her beatification,” said Monsignor Stephen Robson, vice postulator of her cause for beatification, in a Nov. 10 interview with CNA.

Eighty-four-year-old Sir Jimmy, who was buried today in the English seaside town of Scarborough, attributed his recovery from a serious illness when he was two years old to the intercession of the Venerable Margaret.

“My mother went to the cathedral in Leeds and found a leaflet about Margaret Sinclair and thought she would try that, so she prayed to her,” he told a BBC documentary in 2003. Sir Jimmy said he was so ill that his death certificate had already been written.

“At that moment I apparently took a 100 percent turn for the better and when she came back to the house, my grandparents said I was all right.”

“The priest from the cathedral and the doctor wrote this up and sent it to Rome and it’s now in some room in the Vatican forming part of her CV to become a saint.”
 
Margaret Sinclair was born in 1900 and brought up in poverty in an Edinburgh slum. She worked in a local biscuit factory and was active in the trade union movement before joining a cloistered order of Poor Clare nuns in London’s Notting Hill area in 1923.

Upon becoming a nun, she took the religious name Mary Francis of the Five Wounds. However, she died just two years later from tuberculosis at the age of 25.

She quickly gained a reputation as “Edinburgh’s wonder worker” and was declared venerable by Pope Paul VI in 1978. The papal declaration means that the Church found she lived a life marked by virtue.
 
Despite numerous claims of a miracle, such as Sir Jimmy’s, none have fully satisfied the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints. If a miracle is approved, it would pave the way for her beatification.

“The cause can’t go any further till we have that miracle, so people need to get praying,” explained Msgr. Robson, who is based in the Scottish town of North Berwick.

“The problem is, I think, that for many Scots—and perhaps northern Europeans in general—the cult of saints isn’t a live reality, so it can be difficult to get people to pray.”

Sir Jimmy Savile was known to generations of people in the United Kingdom as a disc jockey and ceaseless charity fundraiser. For decades, he presented the BBC’s popular music program, “Top of the Pops,” as well as hosting his own show “Jim’ll Fix It,” which featured him making dreams come true for hundreds of children.

A devout Catholic and papal knight, he would frequently attend weekday Mass at St. Anne’s Cathedral in Leeds, where his requiem took place yesterday.

“Today, Jimmy lies at the front of this cathedral where in former years he had remained discreetly hidden at the back in order not to disturb people’s prayers or distract their attention from what was taking place at the altar,” said Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds before a congregation of over 700 mourners.

In his homily, Monsignor Kieran Heskin said that he hoped God would “fix it that Jimmy would be given the ultimate reward—a place in heaven.”

A self-professed eccentric to the end, Sir Jimmy was buried Nov. 10 in the coastal town Scarborough in a gold colored coffin and at a 45 degree angle—“to give him a view of the sea”—fulfilling his final wishes.

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Gospel of the Day

Mt 13:1-9

Gospel
Date
07/23/14
07/20/14
07/19/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Jer 1:1, 4-10
Gospel:: Mt 13: 1-9

Saint of the Day

St. John Cassian »

Saint
Date
07/23/14

Homily of the Day

Mt 13:1-9

Homily
Date
07/23/14
07/21/14
07/20/14

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