Vatican City, Oct 18, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Ireland’s delegation to the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization presented ways to re-evangelize a country shaken by abuse scandals, undermined by poor catechesis and assaulted by secularism.
“(T)he Church must now speak with a voice which is hopeful yet humble, confident yet compassionate, with a claim to authority that must be more evidently rooted in the Gospel and the love of Christ,” said Bishop Kieran O’Reilly of Killaloe during the Oct. 16 afternoon session of the synod.
“This is the context in which the new evangelization will take place” in Ireland, he stated.
Referring to the abuse scandals, Bishop O’Reilly said the Church in Ireland is living the “recent crises in a dramatic way.”
But he expressed hope for renewal through a 10-year program of re-evangelization that the bishops’ conference will be implementing. It will emphasize catechesis and deep appreciation for Christ’s message.
Bishop O’Reilly also said the New Evangelization must involve a “fuller and significant biblical apostolate.”
Addressing the same synod session was the other member of the Irish delegation, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin.
He broached a subject pertinent to Ireland that also has broader relevance to the English-speaking world. The archbishop warned about “the manipulation of language and the management of information where the meaning of words is changed and manipulated for commercial, ideological or political motives.”
He said this has had an especially confusing effect upon youth.
“Young people live in a culture of relativism, and indeed, banalization of the truth often without even being aware of it,” he said. “It is a culture which they did not create. They may not know any other culture, yet they must find Christ in the midst of this culture while they have little familiarity with the language of faith.”
While taking heart in the ardor of groups of young Catholics who have “found strength and support in events such as World Youth Day,” he said the Church must reach out to those young people who “find themselves very much alone among their classmates and fellow students and indeed may experience hostility and incomprehension as they try to find or maintain their faith in Jesus Christ.”
What is the Church doing to reach out to them? he asked.
“Where are we present among the large student population, especially for those whose basic Christian education may well have been all but superficial in either family or school? The challenge of the New Evangelization must be marked by a robust confrontation of ideas, not in terms of ideological aggression, but in helping young people in the discernment of ideas.”
Archbishop Martin pointed out that the “culture of individualism” leaves young truth-seekers especially lonely and recommended that the Church can counteract it by creating a variety of “new ecclesial communities, not just those of the ecclesial movements, but around our parishes, which will be the building blocks of the Eucharistic communities of the future.”
Washington D.C., Oct 18, 2012 (CNA) - After researching adoption in China and learning of the high rates of abandoned children, a Catholic homeschooling mother organized a run to raise awareness of the country's 147 million orphans.
“I think when your eyes become open to such a need and God uses it to touch your heart, you have to do something. You are called to do something,” Katie Murphy, founder of the Run for the Little Flowers Virtual 5K told CNA Oct. 15.
When she and her husband Peter learned that they may not have been able to have any more children of their own, Murphy said she “naturally” wanted to adopt.
They looked first to Ethiopia and then to China. During the research process, they read about a child who was abandoned on a street corner when he was just two days old.
“All I could do was picture that, a poor helpless newborn, just being left, abandoned,” Murphy said.
From that moment on, she said, “the desire to do something for the orphans in China grew.”
The more the Murphys researched, the more they learned about the large number of Chinese orphans with serious medical conditions who are left to die each year.
“I would not say I was surprised, but I really had not known that so many children were abandoned,” Murphy said.
When it seemed that God was not calling the Murphys to adoption, “at least not right now,” she said she still felt a great need to help the children she learned about throughout the research process.
It was during this time that, through a friend's Facebook post, Murphy also learned about Little Flower Projects in China.
Founded in 1995, Little Flower Projects is an outreach of China Little Flower, a nonprofit organization that seeks to “build a culture of life” by providing care for orphans in need of medical attention. The children are cared for by live-in nannies who spend six-month stints at the orphanage acting as their mothers, providing for their medically-fragile charges.
“A friend of mine shared a picture of one of the orphans in their care, and I immediately tried to find out all I could about (Little Flower Projects),” she said.
The charity frequently updates their Facebook account with pictures of children they are caring for, giving donors and those praying for their work a chance to see the progress and growth of the children.
“There is a beauty and a peacefulness about their work that even exudes through their writing and photographs,”Murphy said.
Named after Saint Therese of Lisieux, the 19th-century French Carmelite nun who is affectionately known as “the Little Flower,” the charity seeks to provide care for those “who are rejected, abandoned, deemed as useless and have no voice.”
As a result of her research and her love of running, Murphy, who completed her first marathon in 2011, organized a “virtual” 5K run to benefit the charity.
From anywhere in the country, runners can sign up for the race through Murphy's blog, “Blessed with Full Hands,” and complete the race on Oct. 20, with all profits going directly to Little Flower Projects to help pay the six-month salary of one of the live-in nannies.
“I was concerned that because (Little Flower Projects) is, literally, on the other side of the world, people would feel removed from it,” she said. “But, that was not the case.”
Murphy's goal was to register 147 runners across the United States, one participant for every one million orphans in China, but so far she's registered 200 and had to suspend registration in order to catch up with all the orders.
The enthusiastic support for the run has been “a grassroots effort” because “friends, acquaintances and people who just loved this fundraiser spread the information for me.”
Murphy is not officially associated with Little Flower Projects, but recently had the opportunity to speak with founder and fellow Catholic, Brent Johnson.
The encounter left her even more encouraged to help after hearing about his work in China.
“All of their work is shrouded in prayer and the knowledge that God is present in all they do,” she said.
Although she has never been to China and only describes herself as “just a mom with a heart for orphans,” Murphy said she would like to visit someday and plans on making the charity run an annual event.
“This may sound silly,” she said, “but I think this is just the beginning.”
Overall, Murphy realized that “in the grand scheme of things” the proceeds from the race will not “significantly” impact the charity. Nonetheless, she said, “there are now thousands of people out there” who now know about Little Flower Projects and can pray for the children they serve.
“I still pray that God take my few loaves and fishes in this fundraiser and perform the miracle,” she said, referencing John 6:1-15, a scripture passage that has taken on a deeper meaning since reaching out to orphans in China.
To learn more about Little Flowers Project, visit www.littleflowerprojects.org.
Baltimore, Md., Oct 18, 2012 (CNA) - Catholic Relief Services has revamped its traditional Lenten anti-hunger Operation Rice Bowl program to allow participants to register their rice bowls on the internet as part of the campaign to feed the hungry.
The program also has a new name.
“For the past 37 years during the season of Lent, Catholics in the United States participate in a popular program called Operation Rice Bowl,” Carolyn Woo, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, said on Oct. 16. “Today, I am announcing that we are renaming it CRS Rice Bowl.”
The rice bowl program engages almost 13,000 parishes and schools. The relief agency provides videos, stories, recipes and other materials to help those who participate understand the lives and challenges of the poor around the world.
Revisions to the program include a redesigned website accessible by cell phone and tablet. Participants can also register their rice bowls on a map. They can sign up for text messages and e-mailed stories and prayers in English and Spanish.
The rice bowl program’s new theme is “For Lent, For Life -- What You Give Up for Lent Changes Lives.”
Woo said the theme brings “a particularly poignant focus to the season of Lent.”
“CRS Rice Bowl offers us a way we can live our faith and do our part to alleviate hunger in the world,” she said.
Catholic Relief Services has committed $150 million in private funds over the next three years to agriculture, food and nutrition programs to fight world hunger. Its pledge is part of a $1 billion pledge from InterAction, a coalition of non-profit agencies.
Woo said Catholic Relief Services should not only commit funds but “strive for new solutions to address hunger.”
She noted the agency’s anti-hunger program in Lesotho, where it introduced “kitchen gardens” to provide better nutrition by helping people grow year-round vegetables and greens.
In Ethiopia, the relief agency introduced improved seeds. It helped connect farmer co-operatives to an export company that packaged their white beans and distributed them in Britain.
Twenty-five percent of CRS Rice Bowl donations stay in a donor’s diocese, while 75 percent support overseas programs.
Vatican City, Oct 18, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict named Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin as head of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis on Oct. 18.
“Archbishop Tobin's ministry as our new ordinary will certainly be able to build on the strong foundation laid by his predecessor, Archbishop Buechlein,” said Indianapolis' apostolic administrator, Bishop Christopher J. Coyne, at a press conference this morning at Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral.
Archbishop Tobin is taking over leadership of the Indianapolis archdiocese from Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein, who resigned Sept. 21, 2011 at the age of 73 after numerous health problems.
Since Archbishop Buechlein's resignation, Auxiliary Bishop Coyne has served as apostolic administrator of the archdiocese.
At an Oct. 18 press conference presenting Archbishop Tobin to the Indianapolis archdiocese, he introduced himself by first emphasizing his baptism into Christ and saying that it must affect “the way we live … we have to offer something before the world.”
“On that day I was given the gift of faith. And I think it is interesting that I was given this new mission at the beginning of a year in which the Catholic Church is going to be considering what it means to believe,” Archbishop Tobin said.
One definition of faith that “means a lot to me is 'the capacity to be surprised by God,'” he added.
“I was quite surprised three weeks ago when I was told the Holy Father wished me to serve in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. … Together we accept this mission and in the eyes of faith, we allow God to surprise us, because we know that God is faithful.”
Archbishop Tobin noted particularly the importance of family in his own life and in his vision for the archdiocese. He mentioned that his own father, “a man in every sense of the word,” and whom the archbishop wanted to be like because of his faith, passed away at the age of 54 leaving his wife with 13 children.
The archbishop hopes “the ministry of the Church in central and southern Indiana will have a special place in its heart for families; and not simply the nice, easy-going families, but the families who struggle, families like my family, with a single mother who with the help of her husband in heaven had to raise 13 of us.”
He finished his remarks by recalling how Elisha succeeded Elijah as Israel's great prophet. In the story, Elisha was given a mantle as a symbol of prophecy.
After explaining this, Archbishop Tobin put on an Indianapolis Colts scarf that was given to him earlier that day by Archbishop Buechlein, saying he “accepts it gratefully.”
The Detroit-born Archbishop Tobin was ordained a priest for the Redemptorist Fathers in 1978.
He served in American parishes until 1991, when he was given a position in Rome with the order. He was superior general of the order from 1997 until 2009.
Since Aug. 2010, Archbishop Tobin has been secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the dicastery which oversees men and women religious.
Archbishop Tobin speaks several languages, including Spanish, Italian, French and Portuguese.
He will be installed as Archbishop of Indianapolis on December 3 – the feast day of St. Francis Xavier, a patron saint of the archdiocese – at Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.
The Archdiocese of Indianapolis serves nearly 228,000 Catholics in 147 parishes in central and southern Indiana.
Updated on Oct. 18, 2012 at 3:20 p.m. MST. Includes quotes from Bishop Coyne and remarks from Archbishop Tobin throughout.
Vatican City, Oct 18, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Mixing old with new, a progress report on the synod of bishops on the New Evangelization was delivered in Latin, the ancient language of the Church.
“Many Synod Fathers called for a new Pentecost … of seeing the action of the Church today, enlivened by the Holy Spirit, as a reflection of the energy in the early Church when the apostles set out to bring the first disciples to the Lord,” Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., said late in the afternoon on Oct. 17.
“Many of the fathers spoke of the similarity between those early days of the Church and our moment in time today.”
The 71-year-old American cardinal is charged by Pope Benedict XVI with steering the work of the synod. Under the title of General Relator, Cardinal Wuerl guides the discussions of the 262 participants as they attempt to map out a plan for bringing the Gospel to the modern world.
Part of his job is presenting the Oct. 7-28 synod with a summary of over 230 formal speeches and innumerable off-the-record discussions during the synod’s first half.
First, he thanked Pope Benedict for his inspiration and guidance. At the synod’s opening session, the Pope reminded participants to keep in mind that “the two great pillars of evangelization” are a commitment to “know and proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ” and to do it with love.
“It is only when we have the word inseparably lived in love that we achieve the evangelization so hoped for in this synod,” Cardinal Wuerl said.
One understanding in the synodal discussions that has emerged “very clearly,” he reported, is “the understanding that the foundation of the New Evangelization for the transmission of the faith is above all the work of the most Holy Trinity in history.” It is because Christ gave the Church “the commission to share and make known his victory (over sin and death)” that “the Church’s primary mission is evangelization.”
The synod has also discussed ways of helping priests and bishops to be more effective evangelizers in the modern world, from doing parish work to media apostolates.
But Cardinal Wuerl emphasized that the synod wants all Catholics to fulfill their roles as witnesses for Christ.
“The synod highlighted the important role of every disciple of Christ in the mission of spreading the faith,” he said. Laypeople must use their God-given gifts to evangelize with “eager dedication.”
To do so effectively, requires a spiritual renewal involving both heart and mind, he said. “Spiritual renewal is the most important element of the New Evangelization insofar as it involves the renewal of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ and a catechesis that fosters our spiritual growth.”
The role of proper catechesis, or instruction in the faith, has been a hot-topic at the synod.
“A number of bishops spoke of the need to reinforce the role of the Magisterium (teaching authority) of the Church when dealing with all of those who are engaged in teaching the faith,” Cardinal Wuerl said. This applies “at the level of theological speculation or teaching at the elementary, secondary or university levels, and in all the expressions of catechesis.”
Sound catechesis is a big topic at the synod because the New Evangelization requires teaching the faith well to those who do not know it – children, for example – as well as presenting it anew to fallen-away Catholics who suffered inadequate or theologically unsound catechesis.
To this end, Cardinal Wuerl said the synod has been considering how the Church can devise “a program of catechesis which is both basic, complete and inspiring in the search for truth, goodness and beauty.”
On Oct. 19, the synod fathers will begin working in smaller groups focused on different aspects of the New Evangelization – from using new media to priestly formation – with the aim of giving Pope Benedict XVI specific proposals at synod’s end.
Madrid, Spain, Oct 18, 2012 (CNA) - Spanish pro-life leader Josep Miro, who is president of e-Christians and a member of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, said the trial of Doctor Carlos Morin has put a spotlight on the tragedy of the abortion industry.
Speaking to CNA on Oct. 16, Miro said the trial of the Spanish doctor accused of performing more than 100 illegal abortions has revealed “the tragedy behind this. There are women who see their children as a burden, from the economic point of view, and there are some groups of people who are dedicated to this for the sole purpose of making a lot of money.”
Dr. Carlos Morin, together with 12 collaborators, performed dozens of illegal abortions in his clinics in Barcelona. Morin is accused of engaging in the falsification of records, doing late-term abortions without consulting a psychiatrist, and asking patients to sign false statements that they were not more than 22 weeks pregnant, the legal limit in Spain.
Miro said the impact of the trial will go far beyond the borders of Spain, since “it the largest abortion trial that has ever taken place in Europe,” with the largest number of defendants and the greatest amount of years ever requested by prosecutors (more than 300) as a sentence.
He also said the case has exposed the cruelty of those who participate in abortions, as demonstrated by the “mere fact of the shredders” used to dispose of babies’ remains at Morin’s abortion clinics.
The trial is shedding a light on an otherwise hidden place, “so that society can become aware of the human miseries that occur there,” he said.
Miro called it surprising that in “a case on abortion there would be protected witnesses.”
“This is not usual, as even in criminal cases there are no protected witnesses, and this is only allowed when there is a fear, deemed reasonable by a judge, that harm could come or that there is an organization capable of causing this harm,” he explained.
He also noted that the evidence against Morin is extensive and includes “hours of recorded phone calls that have been admitted as evidence, confiscated documentation that clearly shows that ultrasounds were manipulated.”
Miro, whose group is part of a coalition that is suing Morin, said donations to help fund the lawsuit against Morin have been ongoing. “We have been able to cover two extra expenses that we have … which are the attorneys, because the trial has lasted a long time, and we have set up a small news service for the media, so that we can respond to them and provide background information that can help them become familiar with the matter.”
Montevideo, Uruguay, Oct 18, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - By a vote of 17-14, the Uruguayan Senate voted to ratify a bill allowing abortion up to the 12th week of pregnancy, sending the measure to President Jose Mujica for his promised approval.
The Oct. 17 vote came after the bill was passed in the Uruguayan House of Representatives on Sept. 25.
A recent survey revealed that 56 percent of Uruguayans oppose abortion and want protection for the unborn.
The new law stipulates that women who wish to obtain an abortion must first appear before a commission of doctors and social workers to receive information about their decision. After a five day waiting period, they will be allowed to proceed with an abortion if they wish.
It also grants conscience protection to doctors and health care workers who refuse to perform abortions. They are required to notify their hospital or clinic administrators of their objection, which will apply to any other institution where they provide services.
Sofia Reyes of the Provida movement said lawmakers who approved the law are discriminating against women. “With or without the law, our work remains supporting mothers so they can have their babies.”
In August 2012, 20 pro-life organizations denounced the process that led to passage of the law as a serious violation of democratic principles that revealed the intentions of the anti-life lobby to impose abortion on Uruguay at all costs.
The bishops of Uruguay have voiced their rejection of the legalization of abortion on numerous occasions and have called for “an alternative proposal that respects and protects women, maternity, the family and the life of the unborn … without eliminating the right to life of the unborn child.”
In 2008, the Uruguayan Congress voted to legalize abortion up to the 12th week by a vote of 49-48, but then-President Tabare Vazquez vetoed the measure.
Washington D.C., Oct 18, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
A federal appeals court struck down a key portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act in a New York case, renewing calls for the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the issue of “same-sex marriage.”
“This is yet another example of judicial activism and elite judges imposing their views on the American people,” said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage in an Oct. 18 statement responding to the ruling.
He said that the court decision “further demonstrates why it is imperative for the U.S. Supreme Court to grant review in the currently pending DOMA cases as well as to the Proposition 8 case.”
“The American people are entitled to a definitive ruling in support of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, as 32 states have determined through popular vote," he said.
On Oct. 18, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against section 3 of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman for federal purposes.
In a 2-1 decision, the court held that the legislation is unconstitutional because it violates the equal protection guarantee of the Fifth Amendment.
The ruling said that the law’s definition of marriage as being tied to members of the opposite sex “was not substantially related to an important government interest.”
The decision marks the second time that an appeals court has struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. The matter is expected to ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court.
In a separate opinion that largely dissented from that of the majority, Judge Chester Straub argued that the Defense of Marriage Act does further a legitimate government interest in childrearing and biological parentage.
He pointed to arguments presented by the law’s defenders that the Defense of Marriage Act “offer(s) special encouragement for relationships that result in mothers and fathers jointly raising their biological children,” an interest which “simply does not apply to same-sex couples.”
“DOMA accomplishes this encouragement by limiting federal marriage rights to opposite-sex couples,” he said.
Straub said that among the stated motivations for the law were “recognizing opposite sex couples’ unique ability to procreate, incentivizing the raising of children by their biological parents, and encouraging childrearing in a setting with both a mother and a father.”
By connecting “the biological component of the marriage relationship to the legal responsibility of rearing the offspring of that union,” the Defense of Marriage Act codified “what had always been implicit in federal law,” he said.
“The Congress and the President formalized in DOMA, for federal purposes, the basic human condition of joining a man and a woman in a long-term relationship and the only one which is inherently capable of producing another generation of humanity,” he explained.
This was done “in keeping with American society’s historical view of a marriage as being between a man and a woman,” a definition that 41 states still maintain, he observed.
Straub noted that multiple state high courts “have accepted this as a rational basis for excluding same-sex couples, even legally recognized same-sex parents, from the institution of civil marriage.”
“Whether connections between marriage, procreation, and biological offspring recognized by DOMA and the uniformity it imposes are to continue is not for the courts to decide,” he said, “but rather an issue for the American people and their elected representatives to settle through the democratic process.”