Warr Acres, Okla., Oct 26, 2012 (CNA) - Catholic pro-life advocates in Oklahoma plan to open a perpetual adoration chapel and counseling offices next to an abortion clinic in hopes of serving women in need and ending abortion through prayer.
“We are 20 feet from the abortionist,” Father M. Price Oswalt, a leader of the project, told CNA Oct. 25. “We’re going to have some signs in our windows that say ‘Pregnant? Need help? Come here.’ That will draw people in.”
Fr. Price hopes the adoration chapel will “end abortion through prayerful reflection and prayerful means.”
“It’s the ultimate good right next to the ultimate evil,” he said. “Good will triumph.”
The priest, who is rector of the National Shrine of the Infant Jesus of Prague in Prague, Okla., helped plan the chapel and an attached counseling office with the support of the Holy Innocents Foundation. The chapel’s building is next door to the Warr Acres, Okla. abortion clinic Outpatient Services for Women.
The clinic is one of the three main abortion providers in the state.
Fr. Price emphasized that women considering abortion need help.
“Most of the time those women are in crisis mode,” he said. “They don’t really know what they want. They’ve been talked into an abortion most of the time.
“If they come to us, we can say, ‘we can help you , we can help you find options, we can talk to you, we can be your friend.’”
He said the chapel and the foundation’s counseling staff aim to be “compassionate and loving” and not “in their face.” The center will refer women to the pregnancy center network Birth Choice, which has an office with an ultrasound machine a mile away from the clinic.
The chapel will seat about 50 people. It will have statues of the Virgin Mary, the patron saint of pregnancy St. Gerard and St. Gianna Molla, whom Fr. Price called “the martyr of modern-day motherhood.”
The back of the chapel will have a memorial to the unborn where people can write their name and the name of their children into a book.
Fr. Price rejected one critic’s claim that the chapel will make women feel guilty.
“A chapel can only help the subconscious, and the conscience, come to life,” he said. “When you’re in the presence of God, then the Holy Spirit works on you. He helps convict you of whatever you need to be convicted of.
“Going in front of a building that has a chapel in it may call you in and then God can work as God works,” he said. “But the guilt is from the act that’s been performed. That’s the reality.”
Anyone feeling guilty, he said, should remember “that there’s hope, and that there’s reconciliation with God.”
Confession and Mass will be available at the chapel when a priest is available. Organizers hope to have a continuous prayer presence at the chapel, whose tabernacle is a gift from the Sisters of St. Joseph in LaGrange, Ill.
“Many will be reconciled to the Lord, especially if they’ve already committed abortion, they have one in their past or are contemplating it,” Fr. Price said.
The priest found inspiration in a similar project by Fr. Stephen Imbarrato in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. In North Dakota, the Diocese of Fargo approved a Catholic chapel across the street from an abortion clinic.
The chapel in Warr Acres is not funded by the archdiocese, but it operates with the permission of Archbishop Paul Coakley. He will celebrate a Mass dedicating the chapel.
Fr. Price appealed for prayer partners and financial partners to help meet the chapel’s monthly operating expenses and its $365,000 mortgage.
The Holy Innocents Foundation website is www.holyinnocentsokc.org.
Greensburg, Pa., Oct 26, 2012 (CNA) - The right of the Catholic institutions to exist with integrity is threatened by the Health and Human Services contraception and sterilization mandate, Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt of Greensburg said in a pastoral letter to his diocese.
The mandate “relegates religious freedom to the sacristy, and will not allow it to exist or be operative outside of the Church and in the public square,” the Pennsylvania bishop wrote in “Integrity and the Political Arena,” which was issued on Oct. 11.
“This corresponds to a conception of religious freedom which means only freedom of worship. But those who share the same faith also have the right to a collective or institutional religious freedom which is public,” he stated.
Bishop Brandt's comments come with the elections only two weeks away, and Pennsylvania is expected to play a key role as a battleground state. Though Democrats won the last three presidential votes there, the Republican Party won the governorship and Senate elections in 2010.
Under the contraception mandate, “religious freedom becomes just a type of privacy right which can be given, restricted or withdrawn as the government sees fit,” wrote Bishop Brandt.
“The founding documents of this country, however, clearly indicate that religious freedom is an inalienable right which comes not from government but from the Creator Himself.”
Much of the letter was dedicated to the importance of integrity among politicians, particularly on the issue of abortion. Bishop Brandt said citizens can use their right to vote to “bring our faith perspective … to evaluate the integrity of the candidates and the validity of the positions they advance or support.”
The bishop said that a Catholic politician who has “an established pattern of voting in favor of abortion legislation and an established pattern of public rejection of a core teaching of the Church” is “engaged in public cooperation with a grave moral evil.”
The bishop said he also believes that Catholic politicians who continue to receive Communion “should be challenged to take ownership of the consequences of a lack of integrity by publicly acknowledging that what they do contradicts who they say they are,” he said.
“Any individual who says he can advocate for and enable the practice of abortion and claims that he can still be a Catholic in good standing, has a very serious problem with integrity which any community can ignore only at its own peril.”
Politicians who live in such a disintegrated way are a matter of concern not only to Catholics, but to “society itself,” Bishop Brandt said.
“It is a cause of very serious concern for all the citizenry about a matter of integrity. It is a very serious concern about placing public trust in a person who has demonstrated public misrepresentation.”
Washington D.C., Oct 26, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - A federal grand jury indicted a 28-year-old Virginia man for “committing an act of terrorism” in connection with the shooting of a security guard at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C., this summer.
Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, said the indictment “makes clear that acts of violence designed to intimidate and silence those who support natural marriage and traditional morality violate the law and undermine the security and stability of our form of government.”
He noted that the Oct. 24 decision was the first indictment under Washington, D.C.’s anti-terrorism statute, which was put in place 10 years ago and carries a penalty of up to 30 years in prison.
On the morning of Aug. 15, Floyd Lee Corkins II of Herndon, Va., walked into the D.C. headquarters of the Family Research Council and made a statement about disliking the group’s politics before opening fire, according to police.
Operations manager and security guard Leo Johnson was shot by the gunman before disarming him and wrestling him to the ground with the help of coworkers. Authorities say Johnson’s actions may have prevented a mass shooting.
A local gay and lesbian community center confirmed that Corkins had been volunteering there for several months before the attack.
In the days after the attack, it was noted that the Family Research Council had once received a donation from the Atlanta-based fast food chain Chick-fil-A, whose president drew media attention when he stated his support for the biblical view of marriage.
Reports indicated that Corkins was carrying 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches, along with a 9mm handgun and 50 rounds of ammunition, when he entered the building.
In addition, the Southern Poverty Law Center – a gay and civil rights advocacy group – designated the Family Research Council as a “hate group” for its views on marriage.
Perkins has criticized this designation, arguing that it is a form of intimidation that discourages the important discussions that are an important part of a democratic society.
Hostile labels like those used by the center could contribute to those who are “imbalanced” feeling justified in trying to kill those who hold differing beliefs, he added.
In an Oct. 24 statement after Corkins’ indictment, Perkins renewed his call for "the Southern Poverty Law Center to stop its reckless practice of labeling organizations that oppose their promotion of homosexuality.”
In addition to the terrorism charge, Corkins is also being charged with aggravated assault while armed, attempted murder while armed, second-degree burglary while armed and possession of a firearm during a violent crime.
"The Family Research Council and our supporters understand the essential nature of our First Freedoms of religion and speech in the survival of our constitutional republic,” Perkins said.
He emphasized that the organization remains “unequivocally committed to our mission of advancing faith, family and freedom.”
Vatican City, Oct 26, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The synod of bishops on the New Evangelization released a “message to people of God” Oct. 26, emphasizing hope in the face of an increasingly secular culture, because Christ promises salvation.
Addressed to all “people of God,” the nearly 7,000-word proclamation focused on the theme that all the problems confronting the Church throughout the world – from evil expressed in bloody persecutions to the deadening allure of Western secularism – should not cause fear, because Christ promises salvation, now and forever.
“There is no room for pessimism in the minds and hearts of those who know that their Lord has conquered death and that his Spirit works with might in history,” it proclaims. “The work of the New Evangelization rests on this serene certainty.”
In fact, the most dire spiritual assaults on faith should be seen as opportunities, it says. Even “the most bitter forms of atheism and agnosticism” represent not a spiritual “void but a longing, an expectation that awaits an adequate response.”
At the Oct. 26 synod press briefing, one reporter asked if the synod message was too optimistic.
Cardinal-designate Luis Tagle of Manila replied, “I think it is important to affirm that the Church is alive,” in spite of the “fear of some people about the decreased numbers of practicing Catholics … and the influence of oppressors of the Church quite increasing.”
Referring to his native region of Asia, where the overall number of Christians has always been a tiny, often oppressed minority, he said that this should pose no overarching problem for the faithful.
“You live there, you thrive there, you express your joy and your hope. You don’t wait for the situation to change.”
His fellow Synod Fathers’ closing message is a ringing call to personal conversion and to bring the Gospel to others in all places and stations of life in an ever-changing world.
The message begins with the Gospel story about the Samaritan woman who meets Jesus at the well and is instantly transformed. This “shows that whoever receives new life from encountering Jesus cannot but proclaim truth and hope to others. The sinner who was converted becomes a messenger of salvation and leads the whole city to Jesus,” the document says.
But without inner conversion, evangelists for the faith will fall flat.
Starting with the Synod Fathers themselves, Catholics must humbly recognize their weak and sinful natures and accept the transformative power of Christ.
This alone makes people worthy of his call to conversion and evangelization. Without Christ, the Christian mandate to share the message of salvation in Jesus is an impossible mission.
“If this renewal were up to us, there would be serious reasons to doubt,” the Synod Fathers said. But “through conversion” and following the Lord, “we find our strength and our certainty that evil will never have the last word, whether in the Church or in history.”
The message goes on to address different ways the New Evangelization can move people in all areas of life – the arts and sciences, politics, consecrated life – to accept Christ’s salvation through the ministry of the Church.
One of the most important aspects of the New Evangelization concerns families and the young, both of which are under attack due to families falling apart and an anti-Christian culture, especially in secularized Western culture, which is being increasingly exported to the world.
“A New Evangelization is unthinkable without acknowledging a specific responsibility to proclaim the Gospel to families and to sustain them in their task of education,” the message proclaims. “Family life is the first place in which the Gospel encounters the ordinary life and demonstrates its capacity to transform the fundamental conditions of existence in the horizon of love.”
It calls for a strengthening of couples in sacramental matrimony, with a renewed emphasis on catechizing children living in a wayward culture.
In fact, young people are a prime focus and vehicle for the New Evangelization, the message notes.
“We want our communities to harness, and not to suppress, the power of their enthusiasm; to struggle for them against the fallacies and selfish ventures of worldly powers which, to their own advantage, dissipate the energies and waste the passion of the young, taking from them every grateful memory of the past and every earnest vision of the future.”
The message ends by calling on the Virgin Mary to guide the Church in its vocation to re-present her Son and his Church to a dark world.
“Our work … can seem like a path across the desert; we know that we must journey, taking with us what is essential: the company of Jesus, the truth of his word, the Eucharistic bread which nourishes us, the fellowship of ecclesial communion, the impetus of charity.
“It is the water of the well that makes the desert bloom. As stars shine more brightly at night in the desert, so the light of Mary, Star of the New Evangelization, brightly shines in heaven on our way. To her we confidently entrust ourselves.”
Washington D.C., Oct 26, 2012 (CNA) -
The group Catholics United, which until now has avoided directly contradicting Catholic teaching in its defense of Democratic political causes, has now denounced Catholic efforts to defend traditional marriage as a “far right-wing” social issue.
The shift comes in an Oct. 18 statement criticizing Catholic donations to organizations that support marriage and oppose its redefinition to include same-sex couples. Catholics United called for a halt financial support for “anti-marriage equality ballot initiatives” in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington, states where the issue is on the November ballot.
Catholics United Executive Director James Salt said advocacy against “civil same-sex marriage laws” has the effect of “pushing younger generations of Catholics out of the Church.”
“Younger Catholics don’t want our faith known for its involvement in divisive culture wars, we want our faith known for serving the poor and marginalized,” he argued.
Catholics United’s Oct. 18 statement cites a report by Equally Blessed, a coalition of four dissenting Catholic groups: Call to Action, Dignity USA, Fortunate Families and New Ways Ministry. The report criticizes the $6.25 million that the fraternal order the Knights of Columbus has made since 2005 to defend marriage as a union of a man and a woman.
The founders of New Ways Ministry, Sister Jeannine Gramick and Father Robert Nugent, have run into the highest profile trouble of any of the members in the coalition.
In 1999, the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said that because of “errors and ambiguities” in their approach, Sr. Gramick and Fr. Nugent were permanently prohibited from any pastoral work involving homosexual individuals.
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago said in a Feb. 2010 statement that New Ways Ministry’s “lack of adherence” to Church teaching on the morality of homosexual acts was the “central issue” in the censure of its founders and continues to be its “crucial defect.”
While Catholics United criticized only the Knights of Columbus for “anti-marriage equality spending,” the Equally Blessed report also blamed the Vatican for opposing homosexual political causes.
The Equally Blessed report also criticized Knights’ support for the pro-life movement. It said the fraternal organization contributes to what it calls “far-right anti-abortion groups”: Americans United for Life, the Susan B. Anthony List and the pregnancy center network Birthright USA.
The political fight over the definition of marriage has resulted in harassment and intimidation of traditional marriage supporters. Some supporters of traditional marriage, including Catholics, have lost their jobs because of activist pressure. Businesses and non-profits which do not want to recognize same-sex relationships have been the target of lawsuits and legal action.
In some states that recognize same-sex unions, Catholic adoption agencies have been forced to close because they could not in good conscience place children with same-sex couples.
In Washington state, the “gay marriage” ballot measure has attracted the support of wealthy donors like Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has donated $2.5 million to the campaign.
The known donors to Catholics United also support “gay marriage.”
Tax forms show that the Tides Foundation, whose 2009 newsletter describes itself as “a leading funder of LGBT work,” has given at least $35,000 to the group since 2007. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, whose president praised President Obama’s endorsement of redefining marriage in May, has given at least $32,500. The AFL-CIO has given $5,000 to the group, whose contributions and grants in 2011 totaled about $470,000.
Catholics United also has connections to the White House.
Visitor records from the White House show that the Catholics United leadership has visited it several times, sometimes as part of a large group of faith-based representatives and sometimes for small meetings.
The records show Salt and Catholics United founder Christopher Korzen in September 2010 had a small meeting with Patrick Gaspard. At the time, Gaspard was the Obama administration’s Director of the Office of Political Affairs. He is now the Executive Director of the Democratic National Committee.
On Feb. 10, 2012, Catholics United communications director Chris Pumpelly attended a White House meeting with Joshua DuBois, special assistant to President Barack Obama and executive director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
White House officials at the meeting discussed the intended accommodations to address concerns about the Health and Human Services contraception and sterilization coverage mandate, meeting attendee Kristen Day told CNA in June.
Alexia Kelley, former head of Catholics United ally Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, also attended the meeting. She is presently director for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
The leadership of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good itself has several connections with the Obama campaign. Board member Stephen Schneck, director of Catholic University of America’s Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies, is also a member of the group Catholics for Obama.
Chicago, Ill., Oct 26, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - A nonpartisan political analyst says Obama’s new ad featuring a young woman describing her “first time” voting for the president in terms similar to losing her virginity is “nothing short of demeaning and sexist” towards women.
“As a woman, I am horribly offended by this ad,” Kara Mone of CatholicVote.org told CNA Oct. 26.
In the ad, 26 year-old actress and writer Lena Dunham, tells the camera that, “Your first time shouldn’t be with just anybody. You want to do it with a great guy – someone who really cares about and understands women.”
“A guy who cares about whether or not you get health insurance, specifically whether you get birth control,” Dunham added.
The political advertisement, featuring Dunham likening her “first time” voting for President Obama to her first sexual encounter has received just over 275,000 views on YouTube, with nearly 9,000 “dislikes” and roughly 6,600 “likes.”
Mone said the ad is “anti-woman” because it sends the message that female voters are essentially “reducible” to their reproductive organs.
“Mr. Obama has constantly reminded young women during this campaign that all we need to be concerned with is sex, birth control and abortion on demand,” she said.
Dunham closes the video saying, “My first time voting was amazing. It was this line in the sand. Before I was a girl, now I was a woman.”
The ad, which has only been released online, has received mixed reviews in the video’s comments section, with some calling it “clever” and others referring to the ad as “creepy.”
Mone said that for Dunham “to suggest that voting for Obama is what made her a woman” is “a slap in the face to women,” especially those who “have worked hard to become what they are today through hard work, dedication and sacrifice.”
The Obama for America campaign did not respond to requests for comment from CNA by publication time.