Burlington, Vt., May 16, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Vermont legislature passed a bill allowing physicians to approve lethal drugs for terminally ill patients to kill themselves, a move the local Catholic diocese said will have major consequences.
“Physician-assisted suicide will forever transform the role of physician from one who preserves life to one who takes life,” the Catholic Diocese of Burlington said ahead of the vote on its website.
“Catholics must raise their voices against such an affront to human life,” the diocese added. “True compassion calls us to embrace those who are dying, not provide them with the means to end their lives.”
On May 13, the Vermont House approved the bill by a vote of 75 to 65. Last week, the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 16-14. Gov. Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, has said he will sign the bill.
The bill allows the prescription of lethal drugs to patients suffering from an “incurable and irreversible disease” and who have a life expectancy of six months or less, Reuters reports. The patient’s primary physician and a consulting doctor must agree that the patient’s diagnosis is terminal and that the patient is capable of informed consent.
The patient must request the drugs twice, with a 15-day period between the requests. The patient must self-administer the drugs.
Gov. Shumlin said the bill will offer the state’s citizens who have terminal illnesses “a choice to control their destiny and avoid unnecessary suffering.”
Opponents of the bill have said it could encourage people to kill themselves out of fear they are imposing a burden on their family or out of undue influence from potential heirs.
Bishop Salvatore R. Matano of Burlington spoke out against “doctor-prescribed suicide” in a letter reissued January 22.
“As we care for the child so must we care for all persons in the vast spectrum of life,” the bishop said. “When we subjectively determine when life begins and ends, when it is viable or not, when it is too burdensome to endure, we begin a path toward self-destruction. Life is no longer precious, but just another commodity in the business of living.”
He warned that the legislation would allow health insurers and government agencies to encourage the seriously ill to take lethal prescriptions rather than seek life-extending treatment. He said at least two such cases have become public in states where the form of suicide is legal.
Bishop Matano urged that society provide support for the terminally ill. Willfully killing those who are sick, disabled or dying is “morally unacceptable and a tragic offense against life,” he said.
Doctor-assisted suicide is legal in Oregon and Washington state after voters approved ballot initiatives in favor of legalization. Since the Oregon law took effect in 1997, 673 people have killed themselves with drugs prescribed under the law, the Oregon health department reported earlier this year.
In 2012 Massachusetts voters narrowly defeated a ballot measure to legalize doctor-assisted suicide by a margin of 51-49.
Washington D.C., May 16, 2013 (CNA) - Witnesses and congressmen at a U.S. hearing renewed a call to the British government to launch a public inquiry into the 1989 murder of Northern Irish human rights leader Patrick Finucane.
“The deliberate decision not to proceed with a public inquiry is a glaring, public breach of faith,” said Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.).
“It is the source of enormous frustration to Patrick Finucane’s family and friends,” he continued. “It resonates throughout Northern Ireland, calling into question the British government’s commitment to peace and reconciliation.”
The hearing on recent developments in Finucane’s death was held May 15 before the Congressional Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Human Rights and International Organizations.
Finucane, a Catholic Northern Irish lawyer, challenged the British government through several high-profile human rights cases in the late 1980s. He was murdered in his home in 1989, and while the British government initially promised a public inquest into the case, it was never carried out.
Following investigations and pressure from outside sources, British Prime Minister David Cameron admitted in 2012 that elements of the state had conspired in the murder plot and issued an apology. However, according to Smith, by failing to fully investigate the murder, the government “continues to protect those responsible for the murder of Pat Finucane.”
Michael Finucane, the son of the deceased lawyer, who was present at his father’s assassination, testified at the hearing, saying that since his father’s death, “suspicions abounded that the State might have had a hand in his murder.”
“In the 24 years since the murder, my family and I have campaigned relentlessly for a public judicial inquiry into the circumstances,” he said, adding that their efforts were initially met with “denial and refusal,” although further investigation showed them to be true.
“On behalf of my family, I ask for the support of this Committee, the support of the House and Congress to persuade the British Government to honour its long standing promise to establish a public judicial inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane,” he stated.
Jim Cullen, retired Brigadier General of the U.S. Army Judge Advocates General’s Corps also testified at the hearing, suggesting that indications of prior knowledge of the murder among British special forces and intelligence units “make clear the extent of the governmental collusion in Pat Finucane’s murder.”
“The refusal by the British government to convene a credible independent inquiry into Pat Finucane’s murder ensures there will be no accountability for those who orchestrated and sanctioned the murder of Pat Finucane,” Cullen added.
Rep. Smith joined the Finucane family in urging members of Congress to sign a letter to “urging him to conduct the promised inquiry.”
Mobile, Ala., May 16, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Catholic Social Services of Mobile is undergoing a fund raising effort so that it can more effectively provide assistance to those in need in southern Alabama through a centralized office.
The charity is currently operating out of four different locations, and has purchased a space in midtown Mobile to replace the fractured infrastructure it is currently using.
“The main thing is really to have a one-stop shop for the clients; most of our clients need multiple services,” Marilyn King, executive director of Catholic Social Services of Mobile, told CNA May 15.
Having four separate locations is “not to the advantage of our clients,” she said, “nor to the talent and quality of our staff to be able to do their best work, when we're sending someone three blocks this way or five miles the other way to get services.”
The charity serves more than 24,000 different individuals annually from across Mobile County. The apostolates of Catholic Social Services include adoption and pregnancy services, counseling, help for the disabled, refugee resettlement, disaster and hurricane relief, and a pharmacy.
The group's future location is a centrally located former grocery store located near I-65, while most of its current offices are located downtown, in the heart of the city.
“In Mobile there's people in the northern and southern end of the county that feel like they're taking an all day trip to get to downtown Mobile, which is not where our primary sources of clients come from, so people that come to see us have to come from a long way.”
The new location is on the edge of a declining neighborhood, and King hopes that the center will “strengthen” the local community, and added that “it makes sense to us to be...where people are. We don't need to be in a fancy building somewhere.”
“It's a functional building...we'll go in and build and make it very functional. We're not making any swanky offices, but we believe our clients should have a place that they feel safe, and you know, it looks good.”
The new facility will replace older buildings which are falling into disrepair.
“It's really important to the board and I that we leave a legacy to the generations coming behind us, because it's so important that we emphasize our care, and actually our preferential treatment, for the poor and marginalized...the mark of a good community is how you take care of them,” King reflected.
“People will know this is Catholic Social Services, that we will take care of people. It's our commitment to generations in the future, because there's always going to be people in need, and that's just one of the things we do in our Catholic faith.”
King explained that the vast majority of clients, 90 percent, are not Catholics.
“So we're not building it because they are Catholics, we're building it because we are Catholic, and honestly our mission in living out the Gospel is to take care of them; and we want that laid down in a nice orderly way for the generations coming behind mine, to always make that a priority.”
The effort to renovate the recently purchased property is being supported by the Legacy for the Future Project, with a fund raising goal of $3 million.
The project has already been supported with $1.3 million by grants from a number of foundations as well as private donors and a handful of parishes. It is now beginning to solicit support from parishes across the Mobile archdiocese as well as seeking donations from individuals.
A co-chair of the Legacy Project, Jo Dunaway, said that “I once heard Archbishop (Thomas J.) Rodi say that we are planting trees whose shade we’ll never know. Most of us will never walk through the doors of Catholic Social Services as a client, but we can provide some needed, life-giving comfort for those who will.”
King looks forward to serving Mobile's poor out of the new headquarters, and said that it will help Catholic Social Services in its “quality service delivery with competent staff, giving the best we have to the poor.”
Vatican City, May 16, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The institution often called the Vatican bank will launch a new website and begin publishing its annual report, as it continues to improve its transparency and image.
News of the latest efforts was announced by the Institute for Works of Religion’s new president, Ernst von Freyberg, during a May 13 meeting with the staff.
He was appointed by Benedict XVI on Feb. 15 as part of an ongoing effort to revamp the institute by updating its controls against money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
At the Monday meeting, von Freyberg “expressed his appreciation for the efforts of all, for the high professionalism and the positive results achieved” during his first three months at the helm, Vatican Radio said in a May 14 report.
He also revealed that the institute has obtained the services of an “international organization” to ensure that its transactions meet international and Vatican money-laundering standards.
The main purpose of the website is to increase communication with the public about what the institute does, and it will not offer online banking.
In June 2012, the director of the institute, Paolo Cipriani, told the press that it oversees about 6 billion euros ($7.4 billion) in assets and has around 33,000 accounts.
Vatican City, May 16, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis told the new ambassadors to the Holy See from Kyrgyzstan, Antigua and Barbuda, Luxembourg and Botswana to use money to serve and asked them to help reform the world economy along “ethical lines.”
“Money has to serve, not rule!” he said during a May 16 meeting with the new ambassadors of four countries who do not have a physical location for their embassy to the Holy See in Rome.
Pope Francis used the occasion to underscore that “wanting power and possession has become limitless” and “the selfish sprawling of corruption and tax evasion have gone global.”
“The Pope urges a return to the unselfish solidarity and ethics in favor of man in financial and economic reality,” he said during the 11:00 a.m. meeting in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall.
No official explanation was given of why Pope Francis chose to speak about economics with diplomats from such diverse parts of the world, but the four countries have all experienced the effects of the global financial crisis.
The Pope also stressed to the ambassadors that there is a need for financial reform “along ethical lines that would in its turn produce an economic reform to benefit everyone.”
That lesson is one that the people of Antigua and Barbuda know very well, since in 2009 Allen Sanford was accused of running an $8 billion Ponzi scheme from the country.
Pope Francis said he “loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but the Pope has the duty, in Christ's name, to remind the rich to help the poor, to respect them, to promote them.”
“This would require a courageous change of attitude on the part of political leaders,” he stated.
“I urge them to face this challenge with determination and farsightedness, taking account, naturally, of their particular situations,” he added.
The pontiff spoke about the dangers of the current economic crisis, noting it is “a new, invisible tyranny, sometimes virtual.”
“The joy of living is decreasing, indecency and violence are on the rise, and poverty is becoming more evident,” said Pope Francis.
“You must fight to live and often to live in a non-decent way,” he observed.
According to him, one of the causes of the situation lies in the relationship that people now have with money and “its dominion over us and our societies.”
“We have created new idols, the ancient worship the golden calf has found a new and ruthless image in fetishism of money and the dictatorship of the economy without purpose nor a truly human face,” said the Pope.
“It reduces man to one of its demands, consumption and even worse, the human being is today considered himself as a commodity that you can use and then throw away,” he remarked.
The Holy Father also warned that solidarity is often considered counterproductive and contrary to financial and economic logic.
“Financiers, economists and politicians consider God as manageable, even dangerous because it calls man to his full realization and independence from any kind of slavery,” said Pope Francis.
“While the income of a minority is growing exponentially, that of the majority weakens,” he said, pointing to the growing disparity between the rich and poor.
He believes this imbalance stems from “ideologies that promote the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation.”
The Pope asked the new ambassadors to assure their natives of his prayers and tell them of his “feelings of gratitude and respect.”
The new ambassadors are Bolot Iskovich Otunbaev of Kyrgyzstan, David Shoul of Antigua and Barbuda, Jean-Paul Senninger of Luxembourg, and Lameck Nthekela of Botsawana.
Vatican City, May 16, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Approval for the beatification of the Italian Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci, who ministered in China 500 years ago, depends to some degree on the Vatican’s relations with China.
“Part of the beatification depends on the political relations between China and the Vatican,” said Father Anton Witwer, the postulator of his cause.
“It’s possible to wait, even if all things are clear for a beatification, something like five years to see if the political situation has changed and is more favorable for the cause,” he told CNA in a May 15 interview.
Jesuit Father Matteo Ricci was an expert in mathematics, cosmology and astronomy, who helped spread the Gospel in China during the 16th century.
The Italian Jesuit was the first Westerner invited into the Forbidden City, the Chinese imperial palace where the emperor lived, and he produced the first map of China where Africa, Europe and America also appeared.
The process of naming him a saint involves several steps, beginning with his life being recognized as one of “heroic virtue,” before he can be beatified, which is the step before sainthood.
According to Fr. Witwer, the process began in 1985 in the Italian town of Macerata, but “it was only a historical opening so it was not sufficient.”
“This is why we had to make a new process,” he added, referring to the one initiated on Jan. 24, 2010.
The German priest, who is the General Postulator of the Society of Jesus, also explained some of the considerations that can impact the timing of Fr. Ricci’s beatification.
“First, a beatification has to help the local church (in China) to sustain and grow faith, and if there is a political impediment, it is sometimes necessary to choose the just time,” Fr. Witwer said.
In fact, the Vatican asked Fr. Witwer to introduce the cause of Fr. Ricci’s lay collaborator Xu Guanqi because “for China, it would maybe be better if a European and a Chinese are beatified more or less together,” he explained.
“This would be better for China because it is easier to accept a Chinese Blessed and not only a missionary working in China,” he added.
But according to the Jesuit postulator, Xu Guanqi’s beatification process is on hold since it was introduced in Shanghai, which is currently without a bishop.
The Italian Diocese of Macerata finished studying the case of Fr. Ricci on May 10, and passed it to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
The congregation will now examine the case to decide whether or not to give the missionary, who spoke fluent Chinese and embraced the country’s culture and customs, the status of heroic virtue.
The postulator pointed out that if the Vatican gives Fr. Ricci that status, it would mean “he lived as a virtuous of faith, obedience and poverty, more than the average Christian.”
The next step in eventually proclaiming him a saint would be to beatify him, making him Blessed Mateo Ricci. That step, among other things, will involve a miracle being attributed to his intercession and have it certified as miraculous by separate panels of medical doctors, cardinals and the Pope.
“We still have to wait for the beatification because we have to wait for a miracle, which we don’t have yet,” Fr. Witwer reported.
“The Diocese of Macerata will now bring documents to the congregation and we will have to examine their canonical correctness,” said Fr. Witwer.
The postulator explained that the next step in determining whether Fr. Ricci lived a life of heroic virtue involves drafting a document of around 500 pages – known as a “Positio” – that details the life, writings and virtues of the priest.
It will be directed by the relator of the saints congregation, a “sort of thesis moderator, and then studied by historians, theologians and finally by cardinals,” said Fr. Witwer.
“Maybe in two years we can finish the Positio, then several years will be needed to study it, and then a few more years may be needed before the beatification finally takes place,” he said.
Vatican City, May 16, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Pope told Christians it is better to be “annoying” and “a nuisance” than lukewarm in proclaiming Jesus Christ.
“If we annoy people, blessed be the Lord,” said Pope Francis during his morning Mass at the Vatican on May 16.
“We can ask the Holy Spirit to give us all this apostolic fervor and to give us the grace to be annoying when things are too quiet in the Church,” he said at the chapel of the Saint Martha residence, where he lives.
He celebrated the Mass alongside Cardinal Peter Turkson and Bishop Mario Toso, the president and the secretary of the Vatican Council for Justice and Peace.
Council staff and employees from Vatican Radio were among those attending the Eucharistic celebration.
The Pope preached on today’s first reading from Acts 22 and contrasted “backseat Christians” with those who have apostolic zeal.
“There are those who are well mannered, who do everything well, but are unable to bring people to the Church through proclamation and apostolic zeal,” he stated.
The pontiff said apostolic zeal “implies an element of madness,” which he labeled as “healthy” and “spiritual.”
He added that it “can only be understood in an atmosphere of love” and that it is not an “enthusiasm for power and possession.”
Pope Francis also dwelt on St. Paul’s actions in the reading from Acts.
“Paul, in preaching of the Lord, was a nuisance, but he had deep within him that most Christian of attitudes, apostolic zeal,” he stated.
“He was not a man of compromise, no!” he exclaimed. “The truth, forward! The proclamation of Jesus Christ, forward!”
The Pope noted that St. Paul’s fate was one “with many crosses, but he keeps going, he looks to the Lord and keeps going.”
“He is a man who, with his preaching, his work, his attitude irritates others, because testifying to Jesus Christ and the proclamation of Jesus Christ makes us uncomfortable.
“It threatens our comfort zones, even Christian comfort zones, right?” he asked the congregation. “It irritates us.”
Pope Francis underscored that the Lord “always wants us to move forward, forward, forward, not to take refuge in a quiet life or in cozy structures.”
Saint Paul’s apostolic zeal, he observed, comes from knowing Jesus Christ.
Paul did not find and encounter Jesus Christ with an intellectual or scientific knowledge, but with “that first knowledge of the heart and of a personal encounter.”
According to the Pope, St. Paul was a “fiery” individual who was always in trouble, “not in trouble for troubles’ sake, but for Jesus” because “proclaiming Jesus is the consequence.”
“The Church has so much need of this, not only in distant lands, in the young churches, among people who do not know Jesus Christ, but here in the cities, in our cities, they need this proclamation of Jesus Christ,” Pope Francis stressed.
“So let us ask the Holy Spirit for this grace of apostolic zeal, let’s be Christians with apostolic zeal, onwards, as the Lord says to Paul, take courage!” he exclaimed.
Caracas, Venezuela, May 16, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Reporter Macky Arenas of the Catholic Lay Report said the serious food shortage in Venezuela could lead to a lack of wine and hosts for the celebration of Mass.
Arenas explained that the shortage in the country is due to “the lack of raw materials.”
“This is not a country known for the production of wine, and the only national company has told the bishops it will not be able to meet demand,” she said in statements to CNA.
Officials in Venezuela are warning that the situation will not improve in the short term, she added.
The liturgy committee of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference issued a statement warning that Vino Ecclesia, the company that supplies wine for Eucharistic celebrations, has said it cannot guarantee continuous production and regular distribution because of the lack of supplies needed to make its product.
The committee also said importers are having trouble obtaining foreign currency to bring in liturgical wine made in other countries.
“If it is impossible to obtain wine for Mass certified by other bishops’ conferences, the purest and most natural wine possible should be used instead,” the committee instructed.
The food shortage has become so great that President Nicolas Maduro spoke about it during a visit to Uruguay last week.
Arenas noted that in their statement, the bishops “are not even questioning anyone; they are just simply pointing out a problem and getting in front of the consequences by proposing alternatives.”
She predicted that there will also be “a shortage of wheat for hosts” in the future.
The problem, she contended, is largely due to “the corruption that reigns in the government administration.”
“This is setting the stage for an explosive situation in Venezuela,” she warned.
Rome, Italy, May 16, 2013 (CNA) - Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, said a cultural change is needed to recover the value and meaning of the life-long “yes” that spouses give each other in marriage.
“Unfortunately, today if you give a ‘life-long yes’ to your football team, that is more acceptable than if you give it to your husband or wife,” Archbishop Paglia said during a meeting with reporters on May 14 in Rome.
“This needs to be re-introduced into the culture,” he stressed.
“Today, spouses do not jointly own their possessions because, they say, ‘You never know,’” he observed, adding that people are perceived as “crazy” if they say that are committed to their marriage “forever.”
Society today suffers from a grave cultural problem because the family is no longer supported by the culture, the archbishop continued.
“Thirty or forty years ago, it was not accepted in society if you didn’t get married by a certain age. But today it is the exact opposite,” he said, adding that there is a lack of trust in modern culture.
Archbishop Paglia lamented the growth of single-parent families and children with no siblings. He observed that families comprised of a father, a mother and children “are the backbone of our countries” and said that the state should promote these stable families.
Kansas City, Mo., May 16, 2013 (CNA) -
A Missouri judge has dropped a charge that Bishop Robert Finn and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph aided and abetted a priest who possessed child pornography, though another charge remains and the diocese has settled a $600,000 lawsuit in the case.
U.S. District Judge Gary Fenner dismissed the charge on the grounds that the law concerns accusations of aiding and abetting a perpetrator before or during the commission of the crime.
He said the diocese and the bishop did not know about the hundreds of lewd photos on Kansas City priest Father Shawn Ratigan’s laptop until after he committed the crime, the Associated Press reports.
Lawyers tentatively settled a lawsuit filed against the bishop and his diocese on behalf of a girl who was two years old when the priest took lewd photos of her in 2006.
The settlement was tentatively settled for $600,000, Gregg Meyers of the Minnesota law firm Jeff Anderson and Associates told the Associated Press before the deal was officially announced.
Judge Fenner retained one count accusing Bishop Finn and the diocese of receiving, possessing or distributing pornographic images of the girl, which Fr. Ratigan took in May 2006 at a church.
In December 2010, a computer technician found numerous images of children – primarily focused on the genitals or buttocks of prepubescent girls – on Fr. Ratigan’s laptop. He informed a deacon who reported the find to diocesan officials. The priest was then removed from ministry, but he attempted suicide after diocesan officials told them of the discovery of the images.
After Fr. Ratigan’s recovery from the near-fatal suicide attempt, Bishop Finn sent the priest to the Vincentian Mission House in Independence, Missouri.
Bishop Finn delegated the investigation of sex abuse claims against the priest to the diocese’s vicar general, who did not contact law enforcement about the images until May 2011, after which the priest was arrested.
In August 2012 Fr. Ratigan pled guilty to taking pornographic pictures of the lawsuit’s plaintiff. He still awaits sentencing.
The diocese’s vicar general told Bishop Finn about the pictures but the bishop never saw them himself.
In September 2012 Bishop Finn was convicted on a misdemeanor account of failure to report suspected child abuse. He was sentenced to two years of probation with a suspended sentence.
An independent investigation of the case found a failure to follow diocesan policy in a timely manner and faulted diocesan officials for not taking the case to the diocese’s independent review board.
Diocese spokesman Jack Smith told the Associated Press that the settlement will be covered by insurance. The deal addresses two lawsuits, including one that the girl’s parents had planned to file in state court this week.
New York City, N.Y., May 16, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A Catholic professor says that an IRS audit that may have been politically motivated made her much less likely to criticize President Barack Obama in her writings.
“They asked who paid me – and wanted to know who they were,” Anne Hendershott, a sociology professor at King’s College in New York City, said of the Internal Revenue Service officials who oversaw her audit in 2010.
The audit affected her willingness to write on certain topics.
“Although I continued to write on Catholic issues, and continued until today to write about pro-life issues, I was much less likely to criticize the president,” Hendershott said.
She told CNA that she had written “highly politicized articles” in the Catholic Advocate and the Wall Street Journal when she was contacted by the Internal Revenue Service in May 2010. She had a face-to-face meeting with IRS officials two months later.
“They only wanted to talk about who was paying me to do my writing,” she explained.
Hendershott said that the questions were not explicitly political, but she interpreted them to mean the agency was “wanting to know if there were individuals or groups who wanted me to write to advance their cause.”
She said the tax agency did not collect from her any information about the Catholic groups and organizations for which she wrote.
She and her husband had never been audited before in their 39 years of marriage. Though they file jointly, the IRS did not want to talk to her husband.
The professors voiced concern that she had attracted the attention of IRS officials because of her spring 2010 articles that were critical of the president’s health care legislation and “the fake Catholic groups who were supporting Obamacare.”
Hendershott said she “exposed” the George Soros funding of these groups and the individuals involved, particularly the Democratic-leaning group Catholics United. In addition, she was “very critical” of Catholic Health Association president and CEO Sister Carol Keehan, a strong supporter of the health care legislation.
Her account of an IRS audit comes amid continuing controversy over IRS officials’ admissions that the organization had targeted “tea party” groups who applied for tax-exempt status with intrusive questions and burdensome requests.
President Obama on Wednesday said he was accepting the resignation of acting IRS commissioner Steven Miller in light of these allegations.
“It's inexcusable and Americans are right to be angry about it and I am angry about it,” the president said. “I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but particularly the IRS given the power that it has and the reach that it has in all of our lives.”
Miller had previously been set to leave his position in early June for reasons unrelated to the controversy, a source close to Miller told Fox News.
While much media attention has focused on audits of tea party groups, some concerns have also been raised by pro-life groups and those working to defend marriage.
The Chicago-based Thomas More Society has said that the Texas group Christian Voices for Life received IRS letters demanding to know whether the group educates “on both sides of the issues” and whether its members try to block those attempting to enter an abortion clinic or try to talk to them. The society’s executive director, Peter Breen, said the requests suggest the IRS could be denying or delaying the group’s tax exempt status because of its pro-life views.
The prominent Protestant minister Rev. Franklin Graham has said the IRS selected for auditing two non-profits he heads, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse. Graham voiced concern that it was not a “coincidence” that the audit came after the organizations took out ads in support of the North Carolina marriage amendment and others which encouraged voters to choose candidates using “biblical principles.”
The National Organization for Marriage has also charged that an IRS employee illegally leaked confidential donor information to its opponents.
Hendershott said she thinks the new focus on possible wrongdoing at the IRS should lessen the worries of those concerned that they might be targeted for audits for their advocacy.
“I think it is safe now,” she said. “If you asked me that last month, I would have advised them to use caution.”
Rome, Italy, May 16, 2013 (CNA) -
Even though Pope Francis is deeply concerned for the poor and has been praised by liberation theologians, there is a stark divide between the pontiff and them, according to a Vatican analyst.
“There is a chasm between the vision of the Latin American liberation theologians and the vision of this Argentine pope,” Sandro Magister wrote May 16 in the Italian publication “L'Espresso.”
This is despite perceptions that “when, just three days after his election as pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio called for 'a Church that is poor and for the poor,' his admission among the ranks of the revolutionaries seemed like a done deal.”
Liberation theology developed in Latin America in the 1950s as a Marxist interpretation of the gospel, focusing on freedom from material poverty and injustice rather than giving primacy to spiritual freedom.
While Pope Francis has been praised by Leonardo Boff, a former Franciscan priest and a leader among liberation theologians, the Roman Pontiff “always registered his disagreement with (liberation theology), even at the cost of finding himself isolated.”
“He knows liberation theology well, he saw it emerge and spread among his Jesuit confrères as well,” Magister wrote.
Rather than being influenced by Boff and other radical liberation theologians, Pope Francis took to Father Juan Carlos Scannone, one of his professors.
Magister said that Fr. Scannone “elaborated a theology not of liberation, but 'of the people,' founded on the culture and religious devotion of the common people, of the poor in the first place, with their traditional spirituality and their sense of justice.”
It was this “people's theology” that the Bishop of Rome has embraced, and not a theology of liberation.
In the preface to Una Apuesta Por America Latina, a 2005 book by Guzmán Carriquiry on the legacy and future of Latin America, Pope Francis wrote of liberation theology: “After the collapse of 'real socialism,' these currents of thought were plunged into confusion. Incapable of either radical reformulation or new creativity, they survived by inertia, even if there are still some today who, anachronistically, would like to propose it again.”
This “dismissive” judgement of liberation theology, Magister said, is “an enthusiasm for progress that in reality backfires” on Catholic identity.
Pope Francis' frequent references to spiritual realities are a sign of his non-alignment with the immanence characteristic of liberation theology, while at the same time having a deep concern for the poor.
During a homily for a daily Mass said April 30, the Roman Pontiff said that Christ is the one to whom “the prince of this world” comes but can do nothing against. “If we don’t want the prince of this world to take the Church into his hands, we must entrust it to the One who can defeat the prince of this world,” said Pope Francis.
And yet, on May 16, he reminded new ambassadors to the Holy See that he “loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but the Pope has the duty, in Christ's name, to remind the rich to help the poor, to respect them, to promote them.”