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Archive of May 10, 2013

Elderly nun found guilty over nuclear site break-in

Knoxville, Tenn., May 10, 2013 (CNA) - Sister Megan Rice of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus was convicted May 8 for breaking into and causing damage at a Tennessee nuclear weapons manufacturing facility.

The 83-year-old nun was accompanied in the July break-in by Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed, all of whom are members of Transform Now Plowshares. The three were convicted after two-and-a-half hours of jury deliberation.

On May 4, Sr. Mary Ann Buckley, head of the American Province of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, said the order “would like to express our deep concern” over the trial.

“It should be noted that Sr. Megan was arrested as she and two others engaged in a peaceful protest, offering prayer for the thousands who have lost their lives as a result of nuclear weapons,” Sr. Buckley, representing the Society, said.

On July 28, the three protestors cut through security fences to enter the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, which enriches and stores uranium for nuclear weapons.

They hung banners and crime-scene tape, and hammered small chunks off a wall, spending about two hours in the complex before being approached by a guard.

They also sprayed baby bottles, filled with human blood, on the wall of the facility.

“We would like to point out that Sister Megan has dedicated her life to ending nuclear proliferation,” said the statement from her religious community, while also noting that “we do not condone criminal activity.”

Boertje-Obed said the human blood they sprayed on the facility was symbolic of “the blood of children (that) is spilled by these weapons.”

The three perpetrators said while testifying, according to the Associated Press, that they have no remorse for their act and were pleased to have reached such a secure part of the security complex.

Sr. Rice said “my regret was I waited 70 years. It is manufacturing that can only cause death.”

The three all indicated they felt “guided by divine forces,” the Associated Press reported.

After they refused to plead guilty to trespassing, they were charged with sabotage and damaging federal property. The sabotage charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.

The more than $1,000 of damage which they were also convicted of carries a 10 year maximum sentence.

Sr. Buckley stated that “Sister Megan has accepted personal responsibility for her actions.”

The statement also said that Sr. Rice believes, “with the Catholic Church,” that “nuclear weapons are incompatible with the peace so desperately needed throughout the world and therefore cannot be justified.”

“Our Society has a history of standing up for those in need,” Sr. Buckley added. “We are dedicated to helping women, children and families by providing educational, spiritual and social programs across four continents and throughout the United States.”

“We intend to stand by Sister Megan and our Church’s clear teaching against nuclear proliferation as the current situation is resolved. In similar fashion, we will continue to provide the opportunities, skills and commitment that allow those in need to overcome obstacles and lead productive lives.”

Since the July 28 breach, security officials have introduced numerous security changes at the Oak Ridge facility.

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Indiana expands school voucher program

Indianapolis, Ind., May 10, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Six weeks after the Indiana Supreme Court upheld the state’s voucher program, Gov. Mike Pence has signed into law a bill that makes more children eligible for vouchers.

“Our Hoosier students deserve every opportunity to be successful. That includes having the choice to attend the school that works best for them,” Gov. Pence said May 9 at a signing ceremony at Calvary Christian school in Indianapolis.

He said the legislation would give more educational options to the state’s students.

The present program allows a family of four with an annual household income of $64,000 to receive vouchers up to $4,500 per child. Unlike programs in some other states, it does not limit vouchers to low-income students in failing schools.

The new bill expands eligibility requirements for vouchers. More children will be eligible without having to spend at least a year in public schools. Siblings of current voucher students, students with special needs, and children living in the attendance district of a public school that received a failing grade in state performance evaluations will also be eligible, the Associated Press reports.

The Indiana Catholic Conference said in a legislative roundup that current Catholic school families who meet income requirements are eligible for a tax credit scholarship through a scholarship granting organization.

The two-year-old program currently provides vouchers to 9,100 students. The U.S. Census estimated there were over 1.1 million school-age children in Indiana in 2011.

Opponents of vouchers object that aid to religious schools is unconstitutional and that vouchers draw funds away from public schools.

In response to a legal challenge, the Indiana Supreme Court unanimously upheld the voucher program on March 26.

The court said that because parents, not the state, paid the tuition to religious schools the voucher program is constitutional, CNN reports.

Chief Justice Brent Dickson said the public funds “directly benefit lower-income families with children” and do not directly benefit religious schools.

Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Gregory S. Baylor, whose organization argued for the constitutionality of the program, defended it on the grounds that “parents should be able to choose what’s best for their own children.”

“The ultimate winners in the Indiana Supreme Court’s decision are Indiana families who want to provide the best education for their children, whether it is public or private,” Baylor said March 26.

Correction on May 14, 2013 at 9:49 a.m. MST: Article incorrectly stated that the U.S. Census estimated the number of school-age children in Indiana at about 160,000 in 2011. The correct number was 1.1 million school-age children in 2011.

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Celebrated abortionist draws fire after undercover film

Washington D.C., May 10, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - New footage by an undercover investigative group shows a prominent late-term abortionist joking about the abortion procedure and telling women not to seek emergency care if something were to go wrong.

“Dr. (LeRoy) Carhart’s testimony is shocking and sickening,” said Lila Rose, president of Live Action, the organization that conducted the undercover investigation.

In a statement released with the video, Rose criticized Carhart’s comparison of a dead infant within a mother’s womb to “putting meat in a crock pot,” as well as references to the tools he uses to complete abortions as a “pickaxe” and “drill bit.”

She also stated that “he outright lies when he claims that his patient, Jennifer Morbelli, died of complications in her pregnancy rather than from his abortion.”

Carhart was one of four protagonists in the documentary “After Tiller,” which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2013 and has won numerous honors since its opening. The doctors highlighted in the film are the four remaining doctors in the United States that still perform third-trimester abortions.

In 2009, Dr. Carhart also won awards from Physicians for Reproductive Health and NARAL Pro-Choice America.

The doctor is shown in the latest of several videos recorded undercover by Live Action. Speaking to women at his clinic, Carhart minimizes the risks and potential side effects of abortion, despite statements to the contrary by the Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Planned Parenthood.

He also claimed to the undercover investigators that he has never “had anybody leave there feeling worse than they came,” and that he “never had to send anybody to the hospital.”

Acknowledging that a woman died after an abortion at his clinic, he asserted that the death was due to “complications with the pregnancy, but not from the abortion.”

However a Maryland medical examiner determined that the death of the woman in question, Jennifer Morbelli, was a direct result of a late-term abortion Dr. Carhart performed at his Maryland clinic. According to the Baltimore chief medical examiner's office, the 29-year-old school teacher died from “amniotic fluid embolism following termination of pregnancy” as well as widespread internal bleeding.

Carhart is currently under investigation for Morbelli's February 2013 death. Her death occurred six weeks before the second of Live Action’s investigations.

The footage also reveals Carhart advising the women not to seek emergency care should they need urgent medical attention during the multi-day abortion process.

“You don’t call 911,” he tells them, advising them instead to “just get in the car” and drive themselves to the clinic should they need emergency care.

Information sheets given to patients at Carhart’s Maryland clinic state that if patients “feel that something is wrong and you need to be seen do not go to the ER, call and we will meet you at the clinic.”

Carhart splits his weeks between his Nebraska and Maryland clinics, and according to Maryland pro-life group “Defend Life,” he was in Nebraska at the time of Morbelli’s death.

Pro-life reports indicate that Morbelli and her family had tried repeatedly to contact the doctor when she began experiencing shortness of breath and chest pains following the abortion procedure. The family eventually took her to the hospital, and she died shortly afterwards.

Rose, whose organization is releasing a series of similarly undercover videos, cautioned that these problems are not rare, although they are often overlooked in the abortion business.

“Our investigation reveals that the horrors of the abortion industry leaves devastated two victims: the mother and the child,” she said.

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Coptic Pope stresses urgency of Christian unity at Vatican

Vatican City, May 10, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt met with Pope Francis at the Vatican and spoke about the urgent need for unity among Christians in the Middle East.

“We must prepare our people for this very real and needed unity that we know and live, we must work quickly and seriously,” said Pope Tawadros II in May 10 remarks provided to CNA by his office.

His visit to the Vatican is significant because he leades Egypt’s largest Christian Church with ten million members, as well as historic, since the May 9-13 trip is the first to Rome in 40 years.

Coptic Pope Shenouda III, Tawadros II’s predecessor, visited Pope Paul VI in May 1973 and Pope John Paul II returned the visit to Egypt in 2000.

Coptic Pope Tawadros was elected to succeed Shenouda III in Nov. 2012.

“The rising of Islamic parties in countries like Egypt and Syria means Christians are now feeling they are second or third class citizens,” said Father Rafic Greiche, director of the press office for the Catholic Church in Egypt.

“We Egyptian Christians want our brothers of all world churches to help us, to pray for us and to be real brothers in our Lord Jesus Christ,” he told CNA on May 10 in Rome.

He noted that since the Egyptian uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, “nothing changed for Christians and normal modern Muslims.”

“People are getting poorer, the middle class is getting poorer and homeless, and there is no work or tourism,” said Fr. Greiche.

“So we hope our brothers will not help us with money, but with solidarity and that they take our message out to their governments to feel all Christians worldwide are one heart,” he added.

Pope Tawadros prayed with Pope Francis for about 20 minutes after their 15-minute meeting in the Clementine Hall at the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.

“The most important aim for both the Catholic and Coptic Churches is the promotion of ecumenical dialogue in order to get to the most pursued goal, unity,” Pope Tawadros said in his remarks to Pope Francis.

He said he wished “the excellent relationships between the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Catholic may become stronger and more prosperous.”

Pope Tawadros also invited Pope Francis to visit Egypt and suggested that from today forward the two Churches should observe May 10 as “a celebration of brotherly love between the Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church.”

Pope Francis answered him assuring him of his prayers and invoking the protection of the apostles Saints Peter and Mark, who established the two Churches.

“If one member suffers, all suffer together, if one member is honored, all rejoice together,” Pope Francis said, quoting St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.

“Let me assure you that your efforts to build communion among believers in Christ, and your lively interest in the future of your country and the role of the Christian communities within the Egyptian society find a deep echo in the heart of the Successor of Peter and of the entire Catholic community,” he added.

Pope Francis noted that “the sharing of daily sufferings can become an effective instrument of unity.”

“From shared suffering can blossom forth forgiveness and reconciliation, with God’s help,” he pointed out.

Before their meeting the Egyptian leader visited the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and other Roman Curia departments.

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Ohio University band gives Vatican taste of America

Vatican City, May 10, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Priests and Vatican employees opened their office windows this afternoon to find out why they were hearing trumpets and drums, and in the piazza below them they discovered the Ohio University marching band.

“We thought it would be a very epic way to perform, you know. And a lot of people came to watch us,” 22-year-old trumpet player Jenna Smith told CNA.

The sights and sounds of an American marching band are not something people are used to hearing or seeing around the Vatican. In fact, the closest thing to it is probably the Italian national police band, which only appears on rare occasions.

Even more unusual was hearing the song “Gangnam Style” by the Korean pop star Psy being played in view of St. Peter’s Basilica.

As the band played through their list, which included “Cheer,” “Long Train” and the school’s fight song, a crowd gathered to hear the lively music.

The display of Americana ended with a rousing cheer for Ohio University.

The band, known as the Marching 110, arrived in Rome on the evening of May 9 and will be here for four days. The school’s Wind Symphony will perform this evening at 9:00 p.m. in the University of Rome’s Aula Magna Sapienza.

Before arriving in Rome, the band and wind symphony traveled to Ireland, where they played at Dublin’s Green Isle Hotel.

The trip was organized to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Ohio University Bands and the 45th anniversary of the Marching 110.

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Pope: Sad Christian faces are like pickled peppers

Vatican City, May 10, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis underscored the importance of being joyful by contrasting sad Christian faces – which are more like “pickled peppers” – with the testimony of a beautiful life.

“Sometimes these melancholic Christians' faces have more in common with pickled peppers than the joy of having a beautiful life,” Pope Francis said May 10.

“If we keep this joy to ourselves it will make us sick in the end, our hearts will grow old and wrinkled and our faces will no longer transmit that great joy, only nostalgia and melancholy which is not healthy,” he added.

The Pope delivered his homily on the reading from Acts 18 in the chapel of St. Martha's residence.

He concelebrated the Mass with the Archbishop of Mérida, Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo, and the abbot primate of the Benedictine monks, Notker Wolf.

Vatican Radio staff and their director, Father Federico Lombardi, also attended the Eucharistic celebration.

The pontiff told them Christians should not keep joy “bottled up” for themselves because they risk becoming nostalgic.

Christian joy is not like “having fun, which is good,” he explained, rather it “is more, it is something else.”

“If we want to have fun all the time, in the end it becomes shallow, superficial, and also leads us to that state where we lack Christian wisdom, it makes us a little bit stupid, naive, no?” Pope Francis said.

“Joy is something that does not come from short term economic reasons, from momentary reasons, it is something deeper, it is a gift,” he preached.

The pontiff described joy as “a gift from God” that “fills us from within” and “cannot be held at heel, it must be let go.”  

“It is a virtue of the great, of those great ones who rise above the little things in life, above human pettiness,” said Pope Francis.

He explained that it is a virtue “of those who will not allow themselves to be dragged into those little things within the community, within the Church” and that “they always look to the horizon.”

He added that today’s visit by Coptic Pope of Egypt Tawadros II was “a very good reason to be joyful because he is a brother who comes to visit the Church of Rome to speak and to walk part of the path together.”

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Women in White invite Pope Francis to visit Cuba

Rome, Italy, May 10, 2013 (CNA) - The leader of the Cuban protest group Women in White said she hopes Pope Francis will visit Cuba after she had the opportunity to meet the Holy Father at a general audience in Rome.

“I hope he comes, because he is a Latino Pope who is very familiar with the suffering of the people, and perhaps he can come. For my part, the doors are open,” Berta Soler told CNA after attending the Holy Father’s general audience on May 8.

“We were able to send two letters from the Women in White through an Argentinean priest, Father Alejandro Dario, who is a close friend of His Holiness, thanking Benedict XVI for inviting us to a general audience,” Soler said.

“But we also sent a letter to Pope Francis to tell him about the Women in White and that we are here to participate in the general audience,” she continued.

Originally organized to protest their imprisoned husbands and relatives in Cuba, the Women in White continue to demonstrate on behalf of political prisoners throughout the country.

The dissident leader recalled that they were invited to attend the general audience by Benedict XVI in a letter this January.

“Thanks be to God and Our Lady of Charity, patroness of Cuba, I was able to sit in the front row in the general audience,” she said.

Regarding her brief encounter with Pope Francis, Soler said, “The mere fact that he listened to me and held my hand was enough for me.” 

The blessings the Pope gave her “were not for Berta Soler, but for the people of Cuba who are in great need,” she added.

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Law professor says Christian sexual ethics will help poor

Washington D.C., May 10, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - George Mason University law professor Helen Alvare challenged Catholics to courageously witness to the truth of the Church’s sexual teaching, because doing so will aid the poor.

“The new sex, mating and marriage marketplaces have treated women terribly,” especially the poor, said Alvare.

She urged Catholics who object to the sexual mores of Western society to emulate Pope Francis' defense of Catholic teaching: “just as our leader is fearless, let us be fearless leaders.”

Alvare was featured as a guest speaker at the ninth annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, held in downtown Washington, D.C., on May 9.

In her address, she argued that modern social and governmental structures promote “sexual expressionism,” which markets a message of “fear and despair” to the poor, women and minorities.

“The situation is growing increasingly difficult for our least educated Americans, and for our poorest and new immigrant groups,” Alvare noted.

When these policies are promoted throughout society, she said, “the rich will do fine, but the poor will go under.”

“The poorest citizens don’t really seem to be at the top of anybody's political agenda these days,” she observed, explaining that the poor are suffering on both an economic and human level from the values that modern society promotes. 
 
Instead of seeking long-term solutions, policy makers try to fix social welfare issues “on the cheap” by promoting contraception, abortion and a message of sexual libertinism to the poor, who “thereafter suffer the highest rates of non-marital births, abortions, sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies.”

In contrast, Alvare said, Christian teaching is able to offer a vision of sexuality and social welfare that promotes the flourishing of all persons.

She noted that today, Catholics have a wide variety of tools, such as Blessed Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body and decades of experience and social science research “that show what really promotes the flourishing of women, men and children.”

“We know that linking faithful sex and marriage and parenting are closely related to the common good,” she stressed.

“We don't have to theorize about this anymore – we just have to face it, and begin fixing it.”

Alvare continued, saying that we “could measurably improve the lives of all Americans if we could, at the very least, stop the government from unlinking sex and marriage and kids, and begin the process of relinking them.”

She cautioned that promoting this vision of Christian sexual and social dignity will “require a robust religious freedom,” in which the government stops “forcing our religious organizations to go along with the program” of pushing contraception, abortion and the devaluation of Christian moral teaching.

It will also require fearless witness from all walks of life, including women and minorities, who must testify to the truth about Christian sexual ethics, she said.

Alvare compared addressing these issues on behalf of the poor to the story of the Good Samaritan.

“The only question is how you respond – not whether you should,” she explained.

Dismissing the idea that Catholics should shy away from controversial topics, she emphasized that issues surrounding sexuality “are the issues strewn in our path, thus these are the issues that require our attention.”

“You live where you live,” she said, adding that “you can’t choose which moral issues to address.”

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Ohio priest dies of cancer two days after ordination

Toledo, Ohio, May 10, 2013 (CNA) - Father Scott R. Carroll, ordained a priest of the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio, on May 8, died of cancer two days later after battling the disease for some time.

Bishop Leonard P. Blair of Toledo ordained the transitional deacon a priest at his parents' home with immediate family members present. He was named associate pastor of his home parish, St. Joseph in Maumee, a Toledo suburb.

The ordination Mass was concelebrated by the priests of St. Joseph parish, Frs. Keith Stripe and Kishore Kottana, and by the diocesan vocations director, Monsignor Charles Singler.

Bishop Blair has asked that all the faithful of the Toledo diocese continue to remember Fr. Carroll in their prayers.

Fr. Carroll was due to be ordained with his classmates on June 22, but “it became clear this week that an earlier ordination might be prudent,” the diocesan vocations office said.

Born in 1966 to Robert and the late Patricia Carroll, the priest is the step-son of Connie Carroll, and is also survived by his brothers Patrick and Tim.

He studied education at the University of Toledo and went on to get a master's in history there as well. He also attained a master's degree in educational administration from the University of Dayton and taught middle school social studies before entering seminary.

Before finishing his studies at St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana, Fr. Carroll had attended Holy Spirit Seminary. He did summer ministry at St. Paul in Norwalk and at his home parish, and did a pastoral year at St. Paul.

In addition to teaching and history, Fr. Carroll was interested in 4-H and sports.

He wrote on Toledo's vocations website that “I consider the vocation of priesthood to be both the most demanding and rewarding thing that God could ever call me to do. It is my duty to find out if this is what is meant for me, to represent Jesus by teaching, learning and just being there for people.”

Shortly after the ordination, his classmate Mike Keucher of the Indianapolis archdiocese, said on his blog, “The Long Journey Into Light,” that Fr. Carroll “is one of the most humble, gentle folks here.”

He noted that Fr. Carroll was graced to die just after having finished saying Mass.

“When it was over, he fell asleep and died shortly thereafter,” Keucher wrote.

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Boston cardinal to boycott graduation over honors to Irish official

Boston, Mass., May 10, 2013 (CNA) - Cardinal Séan O'Malley announced that he would not attend the commencement of Boston College due to an honorary degree Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny will receive at graduation.

According to a May 10 statement from the cardinal, “Mr. Kenny is aggressively promoting abortion legislation” in Ireland.

“Because the Gospel of Life is the centerpiece of the Church’s social doctrine and because we consider abortion a crime against humanity,” Cardinal O’Malley explained, “the Catholic Bishops of the United States have asked that Catholic institutions not honor government officials or politicians who promote abortion with their laws and policies.”

“Since the university has not withdrawn the invitation and because the Taoiseach (prime minister) has not seen fit to decline, I shall not attend the graduation,” the cardinal added.

In addition to serving as the Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal O’Malley also serves as the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

On April 25, Boston College, a Catholic Jesuit university in Boston, announced that it would host Kenny as its commencement speaker and award the Irish Prime Minister an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at its May 20 graduation ceremony. On May 9, the college reaffirmed its commitment to having Kenny as its speaker following condemnation from various pro-life groups within the Boston area and across the country.

Traditionally, the archbishop of Boston delivers a closing benediction during the commencement ceremony.

Kenny and his party has been advancing legislation that would legalize abortion when the mother’s life is in danger – including when the mother threatens suicide.

Abortion is currently illegal in Ireland, and both Kenny and his party, Fine Gael, had previously promised not to advance abortion legislation. Kenny has hinted that pro-life members of parliament who vote against the legislation may be expelled from the party.

Kenny has claimed to reporters that the legislation “ restates the general prohibition on abortion in Ireland,” and merely places into law an earlier Irish Supreme Court ruling that permitted abortion in such cases. However, critics note that the lack of a gestational age limit means that abortion would be available on-demand to any woman in Ireland who raises the threat of suicide.

As currently proposed, the law also lacks conscience protections for doctors, nurses, and other health care workers, and would force Catholic hospitals to perform abortions.

Irish bishops have criticized the legislation in a May 3 statement, calling it “a dramatic and morally unacceptable change to Irish law.” They also note that the legislation, if approved, would “make the direct and intentional killing of unborn children lawful.”

Cardinal O’Malley has also criticized the legislation, saying in a May 10  interview with the Catholic Herald that abortion “is the taking of an innocent human life” and that “everyone should resist” it.

The cardinal noted that while Ireland has had the “good fortune” to “have been opposed to abortion despite the great pressure that they have come under from secularizing forces,” he hopes “that Ireland will continue to stand up against the pressures” to advance abortion within the country.

“Pressure to legislate for abortion is a dehumanizing force in our world,” Cardinal O’Malley added.

In his May 10 statement, the cardinal said he was “sure that the invitation was made in good faith, long before” Kenny’s legislative actions “Came to the attention of the leadership of Boston College.”

Boston College Spokesman Jack Dunn said to the Boston Globe on May 10 that the school “invited Prime Minister Kenny a year ago” and chose him “in light of our long-standing connection with Ireland and our desire to recognize and celebrate our heritage.” Dunn also said that the decision to invite Kenny is “independent” of the proposed legislation.

The cardinal offered his “ardent hope that Boston College will work to redress the confusion, disappointment and harm caused by not adhering to the Bishops' directives,” and resolve the situation.

Adding that while he will not be able to give the final benediction, “I assure the graduates that they are in my prayers on this important day in their lives, and I pray that their studies will prepare them to be heralds of the Church’s Social Gospel and ‘men and women for others,’ especially for the most vulnerable in our midst.”

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Marriage is critical for cultural evangelization, bishop stresses

Washington D.C., May 10, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The love of a married couple offers a crucial witness needed for evangelization in the modern world, said Bishop Michael J. Sheridan of Colorado Springs in a recent Washington, D.C., talk.

“The Popes have proposed that the purpose of the Church is first and foremost evangelization: the proclamation of Jesus Christ as the Word of Life and the Savior of the human race,” he said.

The sacrament of marriage holds a key place in this evangelization, he asserted, as it is “a school of the lay apostolate, a place where faith is witnessed, a proclamation to the world of the Truth that sets us free.”

He explained that “stable marriages and family life build culture, and where this simple fact is being forgotten, culture is in decline.”

Bishop Sheridan is an adviser to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Catholic Education and as well as a member of the conference’s Administrative Committee and Committee for Priorities and Plans.

The bishop was the keynote speaker for the ninth annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, which took place in downtown Washington, D.C., on May 9.

“Jesus of Nazareth came to evangelize,” Bishop Sheridan said, and throughout every age since its foundation, the Church has set out to teach not only the message of Jesus, but “above all, about the encounter with a person – the risen Jesus.”

This need for evangelization is still present even among Christians, he explained, because all persons “need to come to know Jesus better.”

Evangelization, he said, “must always lead to conversion, and is welcomed - or not welcomed- to the extent that its hearers are willing to examine their hearts and contemplate the possibility of personal change.”

The bishop also spoke about the project of the “New Evangelization,” a missionary venture undertaken by the modern Church to not only continue spreading the Gospel throughout the world, but to focus as well on “re-evangelizing those whose faith has grown warm and those who have fallen away.”

The New Evangelization, he explained, works toward “presenting the Gospel in a way that is fresh and attractive, and makes both Gospel blessings and Gospel demands more understandable and accessible.”

In light of the documents from the Second Vatican Council, he stressed, “marriage is integral to the New Evangelization,” and the council commends it both as a “practice and excellent school of the lay apostolate.”

While marriage has existed throughout all cultures and times, it “is not only an institution of the natural law,” said Bishop Sheridan. “It is also, for those baptized into Christ, a sacrament.”

“Christian couples are missionaries of love and life to one another, to their children, to family members who may have fallen away, or to families who may have never heard of Christ and the Good News,” he explained.

Through the Catholic understanding of marriage, “the word of God reaffirms the goodness of human person,” he said, quoting former Pope Benedict XVI.

The bishop observed that when marriages break up, the pattern of healthy society and stable upbringing for children is “disturbed.” The New Evangelization can help “lead us to a renewal of marriage” through a deeper understanding of marital love, he countered.

“Love is not simply a feeling, it is a commitment that demands generosity and responsibility,” he said. “Love is not an end in itself, it is a sacrament transparent of the divine.”

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