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Archive of August 30, 2012

Denver Catholic charities expands counseling services

Denver, Colo., Aug 30, 2012 (CNA) - In response to a growing demand for Catholic counseling services and a desire to serve the suffering, Catholic Charities of Denver has opened a new office in Littleton, Colo.

The new clinic, named Regina Caeli Clinical Services, was blessed Aug. 22 by Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila in conjunction with its patroness' liturgical feast – the Queenship of Mary.

“It offers people who are suffering the chance for Christ to bring about deep healing in their lives, something that is not offered in secular psychiatry,” said Archbishop Aquila, who earned his bachelor's in psychology from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The new clinic “offers the opportunity for people to receive real healing,” he added.

One recent example of the center's efforts is its outreach to all those affected by the nearby Aurora, Colo. movie theater shooting tragedy.

A program of Catholic Charities, Regina Caeli Clinical Services says it is dedicated to providing psychological services for “life's most difficult problems,” in accordance with Catholic teaching.

The center's eight clinicians are all trained to work in partnership with local parishes, pastors and deacons to help people with mental health concerns, marriage and family relationships, and sanctity of  life issues.

The clinic will also “bring psychology to the service of the Church” by collaborating with other Catholic organizations when needed.

Psychologist Dr. Kathryn Benes, the clinic’s director, described the mission of Regina Caeli as caring for the “double dimension” of the person as described by Pope John Paul II in his apostolic letter “On the Meaning of Human Suffering.”

“He speaks of spiritual pain that goes beyond the empirical sciences, and addressing this pain is essential to any true healing of the human person,” Dr. Benes said at the Aug. 22 blessing.

To that end, she said, “Our desire is to bring the best of the psychological sciences to the service of the Church, in a manner that is consistent with all Her teachings, and under Her authority.”

Whether it is due to the death of a friend or family member, mental illness or the decision to abort their child in the past, everyone who enters the clinic is suffering in some way, Dr. Benes said.

“This type of suffering reflects the deepest needs of the heart. And the Church wants to be there.”
Dr. Johnathan Reyes, president and CEO of Catholic Charities, said that the new office is a response to a growing demand for Catholic counseling services.

“Regina Caeli continues our mission in a unique way,” he said in an Aug. 21 statement. “At the same time that we are helping people in a time of bodily need, we are also helping them grow closer to Christ.”

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Obama's pitch to women misses important issues, Alvare says

Tampa, Fla., Aug 30, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - A law professor at George Mason University believes that in the upcoming election women will focus on more than abortion and contraception, and will consider issues that pertain to the family, the economy and the condition of the American culture when they vote.

Women's concerns are varied and include issues of "justice at home and justice in the workplace," said Helen M. Alvaré, who also serves as a consultant to the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Laity.

Alvaré told CNA on Aug. 29 that her experience has shown her women have broad interests and are not solely concerned with reproductive issues.

In seeking the women's vote, President Barack Obama is "staking almost his entire message to women on abortion and free contraception," she observed.

"The pitch he's making is so narrow," Alvaré remarked, noting that Obama’s approach is also surprising because polls indicate women are generally slightly more pro-life than men are.

The president's decision to focus on abortion has the additional effect of drawing extreme followers and attracting criticism that he might not otherwise have to face, the law professor observed.

Highlighting abortion draws attention to Obama's own extreme record, she said, including his vote as an Illinois senator to permit the infanticide of children who survived an abortion and his failure to condemn late-term and sex-selective abortions.

In February, Alvaré helped initiate an open letter to the Obama administration on behalf of women who wanted to speak for themselves about the controversial HHS mandate that requires employers to offer health insurance covering contraception, sterilization and early abortion-inducing drugs.

The mandate has drawn strong criticism for forcing religious organizations and individuals to violate their sincerely held beliefs.

In the letter, Alvaré said that the Obama administration should not assume that all women support the mandate.

Within weeks, the letter was signed by thousands of women of different political and religious backgrounds, including lawyers, teachers, doctors, mothers, business owners and community volunteers.

Alvaré said that the letter has turned into an ongoing "conversation" with 33,000 women expressing their concerns and discussing their experiences with the various issues facing them.

Based on her many discussions with these women, Alvaré said that there are other issues at home and in the workplace that are on women's minds.

One important issue facing modern women is the need to "balance" a job and family, she explained.

Women do not earn Social Security for their work in the home, she observed, and there are no strong governmental efforts to encourage companies to help women achieve the balance they are seeking.

Another important issue for women is "economic security for families," Alvaré said. High unemployment rates for both men and women can have a negative impact on families, and this is a serious concern for many Americans.

Furthermore, Alvaré added, "women are really concerned about the toxic culture."

She pointed to negative influences in the media, a push against abstinence education and the close relationship between the federal government and Planned Parenthood.

"I hear a ton about that," she said.

By limiting his scope on women's issues to abortion and contraception, President Obama is sending the message that "all women need is the right to have uncommitted sex and the right to not have babies," she said.

But not all women agree with this point of view, she observed, and many find it problematic.

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New Christian group created to celebrate, defend marriage

Tampa, Fla., Aug 30, 2012 (CNA) - Pastors from across the country have come together to form an organization celebrating the important role of marriage and encouraging Christians to take action in support of it.

“For us to remain silent is for us to give consent to the belief that traditional marriage can be redefined,” said William Owens, Jr., founder of We Celebrate Marriage.

“This is not a time in our generation to be silent.”

We Celebrate Marriage welcomes families and organizations who want to witness to the truth of marriage as being an important and timeless institution founded by God rather than government.

The group is seeking to “defend the family union” by establishing scientific and social evidence that fathers and mothers each make unique contributions to their children and that marriage is important in transmitting cultural and moral values to future generations.

Warning that without immediate action, marriage will be drastically reshaped, the organization is attempting to promote the truths about marriage to elected officials and to encourage Christians to speak out in defense of it.

Three generations of Owens men spoke about the importance of marriage at an Aug. 29 press conference during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.

Rev. Bill Owens, Sr., founder of the Coalition of African American Pastors, explained that the organization opposes a redefinition of marriage for reasons of both faith and family.

“It will be many years before we know the profound effects of what same-sex marriage will bring,” he said.

“I don't think there's any issue more important in our society today than same-sex marriage,” Rev. Owens emphasized. He encouraged Christians to align themselves “with leaders who stand for marriage,” regardless of their political party.

“We should stand together on the issue of marriage,” he said.

David Owens, the son of William and grandson of Bill, also spoke at the press conference, offering his personal testimony about the value of being raised by a mother and a father.

“It wasn't always perfect,” he acknowledged. “We had our arguments. There were rough times.”

“But at the end of the day, everyone came together,” he explained, adding that his parents were critical in forming him with strong moral standards.

The contribution of both a mother and a father showed him “how to carry myself, how to be a gentleman, how to treat a young lady, how to be around my peers and make a difference in the world,” he said.

The press conference also included comments from pastors from across the country, along with former NFL player Burgess Owens. The speakers explained that the family is the most basic entity of society, and the success of a culture is dependent upon the health of the families within it.

Marriage is a covenant of love and part of the natural order, they said, and it cannot be remade into something that it was not intended to be.

We Celebrate Marriage is now working to launch a nationwide initiative to celebrate marriage and raise awareness about its importance.

The organization recently launched a website, www.wecelebratemarriage.com, to offer information and gain support for its efforts. In addition to a petition recognizing the importance of marriage, it is planning a national tour, radio ads, cultural outreach efforts, concerts and live streaming events to support marriage in the coming months.

Owens, Jr., cautioned that the legalization of “gay marriage” could lead churches and pastors to face heavy fines, jail time and the loss of nonprofit privileges.

If Christians do not speak up now in defense of marriage, he warned, “this very well could play out in not so distant future.”

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Police recover stolen relic of Blessed John Paul II

Rome, Italy, Aug 30, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Police quickly recovered a vile of Blessed John Paul II's blood, which was stolen on Aug. 28 in the city of Marina di Cerveteri while being taken by train to a shrine in northern Italy.  
 
The priest assigned with transferring the relic told officials he was distracted on the train by three men who asked him for directions and then disembarked several stops ahead him.

Upon leaving the train, he realized his backpack had been stolen. Within a few hours, police found the backpack and relic at another station on the line. It is unclear whether the three men left the relic because they were unaware of its significance or if they were going to come back later to retrieve it.

The vile containing the small amount of blood was drawn from the late Pope after the attempt on his life on May 13, 1981. It was displayed for veneration for the first time on May 1, 2011, during his beatification.

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Glendon: economic, cultural concerns make 2012 election historic

Rimini, Italy, Aug 30, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Mary Ann Glendon, the former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, believes that the 2012 presidential election will be a historic crossroads for the United States.

“I think this may be the most important election in many, many years, and the reasons for saying that are both economic and cultural,” she told CNA on Aug. 24.

Glendon says American voters face a choice between a Democratic Party that is “very devoted to and willing to give priority to what I would call the ‘lifestyle liberties,’” and a Republican Party that is more supportive of “the family and the small institutions of civil society and religion.”

As a grandmother of six, she also worries that the current level of government debt “is going to impose a burden on the next generation and the generation after that,” such that, “contrary to the American dream our children will not have a better life than we have had.”

Her analysis has led the respected professor at Harvard Law School to accept the co-chairmanship of the Catholics for Romney group.

And yet, when it comes to the American electorate, she rejects the concept of a Catholic voting bloc.

“There is nobody here but us Americans, including the Catholics, and this election is going to be a very close election. The population is divided, families are divided; it’s like the Civil War when some wore blue and some wore grey and (they) were often brothers.”

A former Democrat who left the party over its stance on life issues, Glendon is now a registered Independent. She explained that she has never joined the Republican Party because some sections within it have failed to “place a high enough priority on our need to be responsive to the needs of the poorest people in our society.”

With this in mind, she welcomes the addition of Catholic Congressman Paul Ryan to the Republican presidential ticket.

“Ryan is best known in the United States for his ability to articulate complex economic issues in a clear, understandable and, here is where Catholic social thought comes in, a humane way.”

Her greatest fears, however, are about what another four years of President Obama being in office will do to both the economy and culture of the United States.

“The current administration will regularly subordinate rights relating to human life, rights relating to religious freedom, to their agenda items on the gay rights agenda and the abortion rights agenda,” she stated.

The issue of religious liberty is of particular interest to Glendon. She was recently appointed Vice-Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

She is concerned that the Obama administration has downplayed “its statutory commitment towards promoting international religious freedom” because it comes into conflict “with a major foreign policy priority of the U.S. State Department, which is the promotion of the gay rights agenda.”

Given that a second-term president “would not be concerned about being re-elected,” Glendon fears that “these trends might become stronger” if Obama is returned to the White House in November.

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Mexican bishop says indifference to Christ is impossible

Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 30, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Bishop Pedro Pablo Elizondo of Cancun-Chetumal, Mexico called on all Catholics to make a radical choice for Christ, stressing that being mediocre or indifferent to the faith is not an option.

In an Aug. 27 column posted on the Mexican bishops' website, Bishop Elizondo reflected on the Eucharistic discourse by Jesus in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, and the response by the crowd who found his statements to be “hard.”

“Faced with the rejection of his followers, Jesus was not frightened or discouraged; he simply asked them to make a radical choice,” Bishop Elizondo said.  

“He asks those who admire him to make up their minds whether they are with him or against him. You cannot remain indifferent to Christ; you must decide. Either you believe or you don’t, you stay or you leave, you are with me or against me.”

Today's world “easily envelops us in confusion and doubt,” the bishop added. “The world in which we love encourages a comfortable and mediocre life; the world in which we live fosters duplicity and incoherence.”

Now, “more than ever we need to make a radical choice: either follow him or leave him, be with him or against him,” Bishop Elizondo said.

“We can’t light one candle for God and another candle for the devil. Christ asks us again, 'Do you also want to leave'?”

“You also have to radically decide and make up your mind, do you stay or do you leave, do you stay with him or do you go away, but you can’t continue fooling yourself,” he said. “I hope that, like St. Peter, you say, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You alone have the words of eternal life.'”

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At convention, Ryan urges economic changes to decrease poverty

Tampa, Fla., Aug 30, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - In an Aug. 29 speech at the Republican National Convention, Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called for fiscal responsibility as a key part of a moral response to the needs of the poor and unemployed.

Ryan -- who is Catholic -- outlined obligations that constitute "the moral creed of our country, as powerful in our time, as on the day of America's founding."

"We have responsibilities, one to another – we do not each face the world alone," he said at the Tampa Bay Times Forum as he formally accepted his party's nomination for vice president.

"And the greatest of all responsibilities, is that of the strong to protect the weak," he continued. "The truest measure of any society is how it treats those who cannot defend or care for themselves."

In his address, the congressman criticized President Barack Obama's policies and voiced support for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who will officially become the Republican nominee for president on Aug. 30.

Ryan explained that despite their differences in generation, career path and religion, he and Romney "come together in the same moral creed."

"We believe that in every life there is goodness; for every person, there is hope," he said. "Each one of us was made for a reason, bearing the image and likeness of the Lord of Life."

He connected these moral obligations to prominent issues facing America, including a struggling economy, high levels of unemployment and the mounting national debt.

Pointing to the 23 million people who are unemployed or underemployed and nearly one in six Americans who are living in poverty, Ryan questioned why the next four years would be any different without a change in leadership.

The vice presidential nominee said that he and Romney would implement policies aimed at "generating 12 million new jobs over the next four years" and address the $16 trillion in debt that the U.S. currently faces.

"We need to stop spending money we don't have," he said.

Ryan also emphasized the need to "protect and strengthen Medicare," which he described as an "obligation we have to our parents and grandparents."

He criticized the 2010 Affordable Care Act for its "more than two thousand pages of rules, mandates, taxes, fees, and fines that have no place in a free country" and charged that the Obama administration had funneled over $700 billion out of Medicare to help pay for the health care reform law.

Ryan gained national attention last spring amid debate over his proposed budget, which included significant spending cuts in an attempt to move towards balancing the federal budget.

Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., who heads the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, wrote letters to Congress raising concerns that the proposed cuts in programs for the poor were "unjust" and would harm the most vulnerable.

Since then, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver and Ryan's local prelate, Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison, Wis., have all spoken up to defend Ryan's reputation as a Catholic layman who takes his faith seriously, adding that there is room for debate among the faithful about how to solve these types of economic issues.

Ryan has responded to criticism of his budget by arguing that the poor are harmed most by the extreme federal debt. He contends that "big government" approaches to poverty have not worked and says that his ideas will help boost the economy and reduce poverty.

Ryan also commented on Romney's Mormon faith, which has drawn some attention throughout the election.

He said that while the two candidates attend different churches, the "best kind of preaching" in any church "is done by example."

"And I've been watching that example," he said. "The man who will accept your nomination tomorrow is prayerful and faithful and honorable. Not only a defender of marriage, he offers an example of marriage at its best."

Ryan stressed that despite their differences in faith, he and Romney share an understanding of the "great moral ideas" that are "essential to democratic government," as well as the conviction that "our rights come from nature and God, not from government."

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