Archive of June 15, 2013

Catholic men address 'identity crisis' of fatherhood

Boston, Mass., Jun 15, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Several prominent Catholic men offer advice in new new book on how to respond to the modern uncertainty of what it means to a father and a man.  

“There's a severe identity crisis in fatherhood, and in a related way, the concept of manhood,” Brian Caulfield, head of the Knights of Columbus website “Fathers for Good,” told CNA June 7.

Frequently in pop culture – especially in sitcoms on television – fathers are shown as clueless or out of touch and domineering, he said. When this is the only example of fatherhood and masculinity men have, that role almost becomes “a self-fulfilling cycle.”

However, no matter what the “external factors” are, such as pop culture or economic status, a man must be aware that his value and worth are from God, Caulfield emphasized.

In the newly-released, “Man to Man, Dad to Dad: Catholic Faith and Fatherhood (Pauline Press),” Caulfield compiles advice for men with short entries from several contributors, including a cardinal, a marriage counselor and a professor.

“My dad knew the importance of small acts of love,” Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York says in the introduction, “and so does God, our Father.”

This book addresses that example of fatherhood by giving men tips and advice on topics such as discipline, family time, and a man’s relationship with his wife.

One of the most important ways men can make sure they’re engaged in family life is by avoiding what Caulfield called the “man cave” or the act of closing himself off from his wife or children.

“There can be a man cave in your heart and that’s really where it starts; where you’re not totally open to life, where you’re not totally open to your wife or you’re not totally open to your children in giving yourself and in giving your time.”

Although the book mainly features men who are husbands and fathers, Caulfield said any man can benefit from reading this book.

“This is a challenge to men to reach that higher goal and to realize their higher calling,” he said.
Although this book is directly aimed at Catholics, Caulfield said all men – no matter what their religion – have a duty to adhere to virtue.

However, because of a Catholic man’s “sacramental” and “incarnational” view of life, they also need to frequent the sacraments and engage in their faith.

Caulfield said the Daughters of St. Paul approached him to compile a book after he jokingly pointed out that they had no books for sale when he stopped by their booth at a men’s conference.

Days later, they got in touch with him telling him that he raised a good point and asked him if he had any interest in writing a book for Pauline Press.

Caulfield decided rather than writing the book on his own, it would be best to gather insight from experts in their own fields. What resulted was a compilation of essays that offer insight on different areas of concern for men and fathers.

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Costly weddings could be crippling for new marriages

Denver, Colo., Jun 15, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Noting the sharply increasing costs of weddings, marriage advocates have begun to urge couples to be less extravagant in their nuptial celebrations for the good of their relationships.

“We ran a survey early this year with a law firm that looked at reasons for not marrying, and the top reason for men was the cost of the wedding,” said Harry Benson, an official with the U.K.-based think tank The Marriage Foundation.

Benson said that the average price for the event in the United Kingdom is around $30,000, according to wedding magazines. Such expenses, he told CNA in a June 13 interview, are “definitely a barrier” to getting married.

“I think the celebrities have set the bar very, very high with all these hyped-up, high profile, highly photographed weddings, very extravagant events.” When couples want the “big, dream wedding,” he added, “often it’s very unrealistic.”

The Marriage Foundation was recently established by British judge Paul Coleridge, an expert in family law. Having seen a “stream of human misery pass through his doors,” Coleridge decided to launch the charity to promote strong marriages, Benson said.

Part of the promotion of strong marriages, he believes, is focusing more on the marriage than on the wedding.

Melissa Naasko, a Michigan-based wife, mother, and blogger at Dyno-mom, agrees. “If I was going to give a bride advice, it would be to focus more on the marriage and less on the wedding,” she told CNA June 12.

Naasko advocates celebrations that won't break the budget and put burdensome financial stress on the married couple. She recalled planning the wedding of one of her friends a year ago, helping keep the cost reasonable.

When her friend got engaged, the first piece of advice she gave her was “never ever, ever buy a bridal magazine...because they’re all geared just to sell stuff.”

“Anytime you pick up a bridal magazine, they’re at least 60 percent ads. You’ll look and see that all the articles in it are sponsored articles.”

Avoiding wedding magazines – and shows such as “Say Yes to the Dress” – helps brides to “pay attention more to what their friends and their family are saying, and it becomes more about the people and less about the stuff.”

“There’s nothing wrong with having smaller weddings,” Naasko urged. “And the marriage obviously is the most important part of a wedding.”

“But one of the reasons it’s a social event, is because it’s the public aspect of our lives. Making the wedding itself about people always makes it less expensive.”

Not being influenced “by all the propaganda that surrounds the wedding mystique,” will ultimately benefit the couple, Naasko reflected.

Catholic commentator Matt Archbold added to the discussion in a blog post for the National Catholic Register May 19, noting that “big weddings…might just be causing heartbreak, damaging society, and hurting people's faith.”

Being engaged for more than a year, saving up the money to splurge on the big day, can put couples in a precarious moral situation, often involving cohabitation, which in turn is linked to higher rates of divorce.

“The dream of the lavish Hollywood style wedding is not only ridiculous but harmful to one's faith and society in general,” Archbold wrote.

Another factor that can put stress on couples is the societal pressure put on a fiancé to spend, on average, two months of his salary – $3500 to $5000 – purchasing an engagement ring for his beloved.

The two-month figure was first promoted decades ago by advertisers from the De Beers diamond and mining business, according to Business Insider writer Robin Dhar.

De Beers has effectively held a monopoly on the global diamond market for some 100 years.

Dhar wrote March 20 that “Americans exchange diamond rings as part of the engagement process, because in 1938 De Beers decided that they would like us to.”

The marketing campaign of the company that year pushed the idea that diamonds are a sign of love and affluence, and was massively successful in doing so.

Diamond rings are now given to 80 percent of American fiancées on their engagement – mostly because the company which has effectively monopolized the market for diamonds told men they should.

Adding to the financial strain of many couples in the U.S. is student loan debt. A survey published May 9 for the American Institute of CPAs showed that 15 percent of student loan borrowers have postponed getting married because of debt incurred from going to university.

Student loan debt in 2012 averaged nearly $25,000, a figure 70 percent greater than in 2004.

In his comments to CNA, Benson of The Marriage Foundation also touched on the rise in cohabitation, linked to the delay in getting married.

“The fundamental issue is that we’ve normalized cohabitation, which is much more unstable than marriage.”

He added that “deferring marriage is because we’ve effectively broken the link between marriage and childbirth.”

The Marriage Foundation is focusing its mission on educating couples about the benefits of getting married and having children, and helping them to realize they can have a wedding reception focused on what’s important, rather than on extravagant spending.

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Pope calls Jesuit magazine to dialogue without relativism

Vatican City, Jun 15, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis met with the staff of the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica on Friday morning, encouraging them to dialogue with everyone and to avoid the failings of a “self-referential” Church.

“Even the Church, when it becomes self-referential, gets sick and old,” Pope Francis said. “May our gaze, well fixed upon Christ, always be prophetic and dynamic towards the future. In this way you will always remain young and daring in your reading of events!”

La Civilta Cattolica, whose name means “Catholic civilization,” is a primarily Italian-language review that has been published in Rome since it was founded in 1850.

The Pope told the review’s staff that dialogue means “being convinced that the other has something good to say” and “making room for their point of view” without falling into relativism.

Dialogue requires one to “lower the defenses and open the doors.”

“Your fidelity to the Church still needs you to stand strong against the hypocrisies that result from a closed and sick heart,” he told the review’s staff. “But your main task isn’t to build walls but bridges. It is to establish a dialogue with all persons, even those who don't share the Christian faith but ‘who cultivate outstanding qualities of the human spirit.’”

He said dialogue should take place even with “those who oppress the Church and harass her in manifold ways.”

“Through dialogue it is always possible to get closer to the truth, which is a gift of God, and to enrich one another,” he said.

He noted the example of Father Matteo Ricci, S.J., a pioneering sixteenth-century Jesuit missionary who sought to present Christianity in terms that Asian cultures would find more understandable and accessible.

The Pope praised the “Jesuit treasure” of spiritual discernment. He said this discernment “seeks to recognize the Spirit of God’s presence in human and cultural reality, the seed already planted by his presence in events, feelings, desires, in the deep tensions of our hearts and in social, cultural, and spiritual contexts.”

Pope Francis said La Civilta Cattolica staff are called to help heal the “rift” between the Gospel and the culture, “which even passes through each of your and your readers’ hearts.”

“In today’s world, which is subject to quick changes and is shaken by questions of great importance for the life of faith, it is urgent to have a courageous commitment to educating a convinced and mature faith that is capable of giving meaning to life and of giving convincing answers to those in search of God,” the Pope exhorted.

“Be strong! I’m sure I can count on you.”

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Cardinals fill important 'Vatican bank' position

Vatican City, Jun 15, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The commission of cardinals that oversees the so-called Vatican bank has filled a key position by naming Monsignor Battista Ricca the secretary for the board and the commission itself.

Vatican press office director Father Federico Lombardi announced the appointment of Msgr. Ricca in a June 15 statement.

“The Supervisory Commission of Cardinals Institute for Works of Religion, with the approval of the Holy Father has appointed Msgr. Battista Mario Salvatore Ricca Prelate of the Institute,” Fr. Lombardi said.

His role will involve serving as the secretary for the meetings of the cardinals’ commission and assisting in meetings of the Board of Superintendents.

Msgr. Ricca currently oversees St. Martha’s House, where Pope Francis has decided to live, as well as several other Vatican houses around Rome.

The previous prelate for the institute was Monsignor Piero Pioppo, who filled the role from 2006 until 2011, when he was made ambassador to Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea.

By filling the prelate position today and choosing Ernst von Freyberg as the financial institute’s president on Feb.15, the commission of cardinals has filled two key roles.

This will prove important as the institute prepares to file its next report with Moneyval in December.

Moneyval is the financial oversight committee of the Council of Europe, which helps ensure compliance with measures to prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

Its first evaluation of the Vatican was issued in July 2012, and it found the Holy See and Vatican City State were largely in compliance, with 9 key and core areas receiving a positive assessment and seven needing improvement.

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Defending life in politics part of New Evangelization, Cardinal Burke states

Vatican City, Jun 15, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Participating in the political process in favor of human life is a part of the New Evangelization, Cardinal Raymond L. Burke said as he kicked-off a pro-life weekend at the Vatican.

“While the transformation of hearts is the most fundamental means of new evangelization regarding human life, Catholics and all persons of good will must be attentive to all laws, which safeguard the dignity of human life,” Cardinal Burke said June 15 at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome.

The morning of formation was part of a weekend dedicated to celebrating Pope John Paul II’s encyclical “Evangelium vitae.” It was attended by about 140 people, many of whom were from the United States.

Cardinal Burke, who runs the Church’s highest court, began his talk by focusing on how the Gospel of Life is intertwined with evangelizing and the Year of Faith, which the Church is currently celebrating.

When he came to the topic of the law and protecting life, Cardinal Burke mentioned Pope John Paul II’s statement from “Evangelium vitae” in which he said, “I repeat once more that a law which violates an innocent person's natural right to life is unjust and, as such, is not valid as a law.”

In this context, the cardinal underscored the “irreplaceable role which law plays in culture” and urged Catholic families to get involved in political life, saying, it “is essential to the cause of life.”

A second area for involvement that Cardinal Burke highlighted was the importance of “developing and supporting truly pro-life and pro-family media, and organizing public manifestations.”

“The culture of death advances in good part because of a lack of attention and information among the public,” he stated.

The importance of public demonstrations in favor of life was also recently endorsed by Pope Francis, the cardinal noted, when he sent a message to the second annual March for Life in Rome.

After Cardinal Burke’s remarks and a short break, the crowd heard from Professor Francis Beckwith of Baylor University and Robert Royal, president of the Faith and Reason Institute.

Professor Beckwith of Baylor University spent his time demonstrating how the arguments put forth in an article for the journal Ethics backing post-birth abortion actually showed there is a dormant understanding of the sanctity of life.

Panelist Robert Royal from the Faith and Reason Institute in Washington, D.C. said in his remarks that he believes the current culture requires Catholics to be active in proposing their faith but also in building “communities of protection” where the faith and virtue is taught.

The Evangelium vitae weekend continued after the talks with a Holy Hour at Santo Spirito in Sassia parish. Participants from all the language groups will take part in a candlelight procession down Via della Conciliazione, the street that leads to St. Peter’s Basilica, on the evening of June 15.

The events will finish with a June 16 morning Mass with Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square.

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President Obama chooses CRS president as Vatican ambassador

Washington D.C., Jun 15, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - President Barack Obama has nominated Ken Hackett, the former head of Catholic Relief Services, as the next U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See.

Auxiliary Bishop Denis J. Madden of Baltimore, a former Catholic Relief Services board member, said the appointment was “great news.” He said Hackett has many skills relevant to the diplomatic position representing U.S. interests at the Vatican.

“He has traveled all over the world and worked with (Vatican representatives), bishops and general consuls in all those places, and he has dealt successfully with plenty of sticky situations,” Bishop Madden told the Baltimore Sun.

Hackett, 66, was born in the West Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, Mass. and graduated from Boston College in 1968. He served with the Peace Corps in Ghana.

The White House’s Friday announcement cited Hackett’s 40 years of service with Catholic Relief Services, including his term as president and CEO from 1993 to 2012. He served as the agency’s African Regional Director and as Country Representative in the Philippines.

Catholic Relief Services is the international relief arm of the Catholic Church in the U.S. and a partner of Caritas International. In 2012, the agency served over 100 million people in 91 countries with a budget of almost $700 million, its annual report said.

The White House also noted Hackett’s role as American vice president of Caritas International and as a member of the Pontifical Commission Cor Unum, which helps the Pope carry out special initiatives in humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

Hackett served for five years on the board of directors of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, an independent U.S. foreign aid agency created by Congress in January 2004.

He received the University of Notre Dame’s prestigious Laetare Medal in 2012. He is presently a consultant for the university’s Institute for Global Development.

Miguel Diaz, who resigned as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See in November 2012 to become a professor at the University of Dayton, welcomed the appointment.

Diaz said June 14 that Hackett “brings a wealth of experience and perspective on issues related to global health and humanitarian assistance, as well as service to the poor.”

The ambassador appointment is a sensitive decision in light of the Obama administration’s strong international support for legal abortion and homosexual political causes like the redefinition of marriage. The Obama administration is also embroiled in a major religious freedom controversy with the U.S. bishops over mandatory coverage of sterilization and contraceptive drugs, including abortifacients, in health care plans.

United States foreign policy has also faced criticism on several fronts, including its endangerment of Christian minorities in the Middle East.

The U.S. embassy to the Vatican was established only in 1984 under President Ronald Reagan.

The U.S. Senate must now confirm Hackett’s nomination.

Other new ambassadorial nominations include ambassadors to Brazil, Spain, Germany, Denmark and Ethiopia.

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