New Haven, Conn., Jun 27, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The results of the annual charitable giving survey shows that the Knights of Columbus completed more volunteer service hours and given more in donations than ever before in the organization's history.
“Throughout its 131 years, the Knights of Columbus has always practiced charity as its first principle,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said in a June 24 statement.
During the 2012 calendar year, Knights of Columbus donated over $167.5 million and over 70 million hours to charitable causes.
“With so many people enduring great hardship,” Anderson said, “the Knights of Columbus is happy to help provide solutions to real people’s problems through this great outpouring of charity by our members over the past year.”
Over the past decade, the Knights of Columbus has donated $1.475 billion to charity and given more than 673 million hours of volunteer hours to support charitable works.
In 2012, the Knights financial contributions increased for the 13th year in a row, growing by $9.4 million to $167,549,817. Additionally, volunteer service hours grew by more than 64,000 to 70,113,207 in 2012.
Key beneficiaries included natural disaster victims, physically and intellectually disabled and economically disadvantaged persons as well as organizations such as Special Olympics and Habitat for Humanity.
The Knights also provided scholarships and educational support and helped sponsor many church and community projects, the survey revealed.
Continuing its legacy as one of the first groups to recruit blood donors back in 1937, the survey found that the Knights helped gather over 420,000 blood donations in 2012.
Since its founding in 1882 by Father Michael J. McGivney in New Haven, Conn., the Knights of Columbus has grown into the world’s largest lay Catholic organization with over 1.8 million members throughout the world.
Denver, Colo., Jun 27, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Hundreds of people in the Archdiocese of Denver attended a prayer rally for religious freedom on June 22, standing up for the right to serve God in their public and private lives.
“We’re here as Christian Catholics, we want to unite together and represent Jesus Christ and everything that he taught us; to be free to love God, worship God and obey God,” local Maria Herrera told CNA.
“Prayer in the Square: a Rally for our First Freedoms” was held by the Archdiocese of Denver at the Colorado state capitol.
The event was part of the national Fortnight for Freedom called for by the U.S. Catholic bishops, with participation from members of various faith backgrounds.
Currently in its second year, the fortnight is a two-week period of prayer, education and action devoted to the protection of religious liberty in the United States and around the world.
The fortnight began on June 21, the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, two martyrs who accepted death rather than violating their consciences. It ends on July 4, Independence Day.
The two-week religious liberty campaign was established in response to the growing number of threats to religious freedom in the U.S. Among the most prominent of these threats is the HHS mandate that requires employers to facilitate health insurance covering contraception, sterilization and some drugs that can cause early abortions. The mandate will take effect for many objecting religious employers beginning in August.
Other contemporary religious freedom concerns include a lack of conscience protections for health care workers, state laws that may punish Christian acts of charity towards undocumented immigrants and a redefinition of marriage forcing Catholics to violate their consciences in the realms of adoption, foster care and humanitarian services.
People at the rally said that they are worried about the implications of these laws and policies.
“I think we’re entering into a very distressing period in our history,” said attendee Troy Freedman, “where right under people’s noses, little by little, incrementally, your freedoms are stripped away.”
Joann Napierkowski said that her presence at the rally was a small thing that she could do in support of religious freedom.
“I’m humbled by these big things that people do, and if everyone can just show up and do what they can, it will let God work,” she said. “It’s His work, we just have to be His soldiers and He gives the victory.”
The rally drew priests, including Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, as well as laity and religious men and women.
“I think that religious liberty is being threatened right now in many, many areas, all the truths that we hold as precious, as sacred,” said Lara Montoya, a consecrated laywoman in the Marian Community of Reconciliation.
“And so we need to come more and just defend what is ours, and what will allow us to live fully in freedom and love God. But not only love Him in our words, but in our actions.”
Other individuals present said they came to the rally to “stand as a witness” for the truths of the Church and the importance of religious freedom.
“It’s good to take part in the political process,” said participant Alex Highe, “because if we don’t take part and raise our objections, then we can’t really complain when we don’t have these freedoms anymore.”
Boston, Mass., Jun 27, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Archdiocese of Boston verified that an Austrian priest will not be allowed to speak on archdiocesan property during a stop on his U.S. speaking tour due to his dissenting views on Catholic teaching.
“It is the policy of the Archdiocese of Boston, and the generally accepted practice in dioceses across the country, not to permit individuals to conduct speaking engagements in Catholic parishes or at Church events when those individuals promote positions that are contrary to Catholic teachings,” spokesman Terrance Donilon said in a statement provided to CNA.
Fr. Helmut Schüller, who was set to speak at St. Susanna Parish in Dedham, Mass. on July 17, is the founder of the Austrian Priests’ Initiative – a group founded in 2006 that advocates for “optional celibacy” for priests, women’s ordination, and other positions contrary to Catholic doctrine.
To this end, Fr. Schüller has raised a “Call to Disobedience” – or the refusal to accept basic tenets of the Catholic faith – in order to “reform” the Bride of Christ.
Auxiliary Bishop of Boston, Bishop Walter Edyvean called St. Susanna Parish last week to notify them that Cardinal O’Malley would not allow the priest to speak “at any Catholic parish because he espouses beliefs that are contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church,” the National Catholic Reporter wrote June 24.
Among the sponsoring organizations of the tour, “The Catholic Tipping Point,” are the Women’s Ordination Conference and Future Church, both of which promote initiatives contrary to Catholic teaching.
The priest’s July 16 to Aug. 6 speaking tour includes stops in New York City, Baltimore, Detroit, Denver and Los Angeles. All the stops except for Detroit are scheduled to take place at local Protestant churches.
As of publication time, Fr. Schüller is still set to speak at Sts. Simon and Jude Parish in Westland, Mich. on July 26.
Fr. Schüller previously served as the head of Caritas Austria and as the vicar general of the Archdiocese of Vienna until 1999 when he was dismissed by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn. In 2012, the Vatican revoked Fr. Schüller’s title of “monsignor.”
Vatican City, Jun 27, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The founder of a charity that feeds nearly one million children worldwide said its rapid growth could be partly due to Pope Francis' particular emphasis on caring for the impoverished.
“The work of Mary's Meals is growing very fast and I’m sure that the hugely encouraging words of Pope Francis and the fact that he keeps pointing us back to the poor and our obligation to serve the poor is making us all think of those things more than we did before,” said founder Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow.
MacFarlane-Barrow met Pope Francis June 25 in Saint Peter's Square during his last general audience before he heads to Rio di Janeiro next month for World Youth Day.
The pontiff had heard about the charity through its supporters and MacFarlane-Barrow was invited to attend the general audience and receive a personal blessing.
Alongside his wife, the charity founder presented the Pope with the blue Mary's Meals mug. “It was wonderful and a very, very special moment for my wife and I,” he told CNA.
“It was really special and he was very interested in our family and asked how many children we had,” MacFarlane-Barrow added. “He was very pleased to hear we have seven children and was very interested in our work of Mary’s Meals.”
The founder said when he met the pontiff he felt he was representing the “family of Mary’s Meals,” which includes thousands of people worldwide.
“I feel more encouraged than ever now to go on with this mission of feeding hungry children” he said. “Even in the last ten minutes I received so many calls from people of all over the world who really feel so excited and really feel this was a blessing for them as well.”
Mary's Meals began in 2002 in the southeastern African country of Malawi feeding a small number of children in a local school.
“We gave this work very specially to Our Lady and called it 'Mary’s Meals,'” said MacFarlane-Barrow.
Today the charity feeds over 750,000 children every day in schools worldwide. “We always link the meal to education and use the meal to draw it into school,” he explained.
The charity is based in Scotland where MacFarlane-Barrow resides, but has offices for fundraising and support across Europe including Bosnia and Herzegovina and New York.
Countries where the children are fed include India, Africa, Haiti and the Philippines.
“Our vision for the future is that every child in the world should be able to receive at least one good meal every day,” he said.
“And we really believe that it is possible in this world of plenty so that’s always what draws us on.”
The founder said the major challenge to the organization is raising awareness “and funds to feed those next children on the waiting lists because there is always more to feed.”
He also recalled that Mary’s Meals began “by accident” after he drove a truck of food to refugees in the town of Medjugorje during the war in the Balkans with his brother.
They had been moved after watching the news on television of the ongoing conflict, especially since MacFarlane-Barrow had visited the Marian shrine when he was 14.
“Over the years we came to believe that providing daily meals for the poorest children in school was the most effective way of helping them,” he said.
“And when we started that particular work we felt it was Our Lady’s work particularly and we gave it to her.”
Siena, Italy, Jun 27, 2013 (CNA) - An Italian doctor has clarified that fetuses may be capable of feeling pain and pleasure as early as 20 weeks after their conception, after a June 19 article in Time may have led some to believe otherwise.
The Time article quoted a paper co-authored by Carlo Bellieni, from the department of pediatrics, obstetrics and reproductive medicine at the University Hospital of Siena, which says there is “consistent evidence of the possibility for the fetus to experience pain in the third trimester, and this evidence is weaker before this date and null in the first half of pregnancy.”
Time used this quote to characterize Bellieni as having reported that “while it was difficult to truly determine when the first feelings of pain emerged, such sensations likely begin in the third trimester.”
“But this can look like I said that the fetus doesn’t feel pain in the second trimester at all,” Bellieni told CNA June 24.
While acknowledging that his paper was correctly quoted by Time, he added that “saying 'this evidence is weaker' does not mean that it is absent.”
“In fact, I pointed out that evidence of fetal pain is 'null in the first half of pregnancy'” – meaning that after 20 weeks, there is evidence that fetuses can experience pain.
That fetuses “can feel pain in their twentieth … week can't be excluded,” Bellieni said.
While “we don't know exactly when pain sensations begin,” it is as early as 20, and as late as 24 weeks.
Bellieni has also written that “painful stimuli can arrive to the brain at 20-22 weeks of gestation.
“We need more research, because there is not so much out there,” he emphasized.
The doctor believes this is due to a “lack of interest,” adding that “we have the moral obligation” since fetal surgery is possible.
“Fetal surgery has greater possibility of success the bigger the fetus is, but studies show surgery is possible in the first half of the pregnancy.”
“Most of fetal pain research has been made on babies who are outside the womb and have been born, but are premature,” he added.
The Time article was written against the background over debate around the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which was passed in the House June 18.
The bill would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, stating that “there is substantial medical evidence that an unborn child is capable of experiencing pain at least by 20 weeks after fertilization, if not earlier.”
Though the bill has passed the House, it must still pass the Senate, and the White House has suggested that if it arrives on President Obama's desk he will veto it.
The administration stated that the bill “shows contempt for women's health and rights, the role doctors play in their patients' health care decisions, and the Constitution.”
Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), who introduced the legislation, argued in a June 13 statement that “knowingly subjecting our innocent unborn children to dismemberment in the womb, particularly when they have developed to the point that they can feel excruciating pain every terrible moment leading up to their undeserved deaths, belies everything America was called to be.”
“This is not who we are,” he said.
Piura, Peru, Jun 27, 2013 (CNA) - Jim Harbaugh, coach of the San Francisco 49ers, recently completed a one-week mission trip to Piura, Peru, where he taught poor children about their Catholic faith and American football.
This is the fifth consecutive year that Harbaugh – whose team made it to the 2013 Super Bowl before losing to the Baltimore Ravens, coached by Harbaugh’s older brother – has volunteered at the Peruvian parish of Santísimo Sacramento, which means Most Holy Sacrament.
The parish's pastor is Fr. Joseph William Uhen, an Oklahoma native serving in the Archdiocese of Piura. Harbaugh has been volunteering with Fr. Uhen since his time coaching at Stanford University.
This year, Harbaugh lead a group of Californian missionaries who helped build houses, visit the poor, the elderly and those jailed at the Río Seco prison, and successfully teach football to kids in a country dominated overwhelmingly by soccer.
“Jim’s not a big vacation guy, but he’s never going to miss this trip to Peru,” said John Feuerborn, the coach's brother-in-law, who accompanied him on the recent trip. “It’s a different side of him people don’t see.”
Harbaugh has been a supporter of the Family to Family Program, created by Fr. Uhen to help some 1400 Peruvian families receive monthly support from their “Padrinos,” or Sponsor Families. Each month, the Padrinos donate $25 to give their Peruvian families the food they need.
“A relationship of faith, hope, and prayer is established and occasional letters and photos are interchanged,” Fr. Uhen explained.
“This charity provides more than bodily nourishment, it provides hope and affirmation that they are indeed loved and worthy of being cared for,” he said.
According to Harbaugh, his trips to Piura are some of “the best experiences of my life.”
“My experience in Piura is a great spiritual time for me,” he said. “I feel God's presence with the people of Piura…the children, the farmers, and the sick.”
“Teaching American football to the kids gave me overwhelming joy and happiness, and Father Joe's sermons move me each and every Mass and give me inspiration to live life abundantly and that things are possible through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
The Archbishop of Piura, Jose Antonio Eguren, presided at a Mass on Super Bowl Sunday this year for players and coaches of the 49ers in New Orleans.
“At the end of the very emotional Mass, just a few hours before the Super Bowl game, Jim told the players and his assistants: 'if you really want to have a life changing experience, go to Piura, visit the Archdiocese and the parish of Santísimo Sacramento,'" Archbishop Eguren told CNA.
Washington D.C., Jun 27, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - After the Supreme Court narrowly ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, religious leaders are highlighting the need to respect religious liberty in the United States.
Military Archbishop P. Timothy Broglio said in a June 26 op-ed that the Archdiocese of the Military Services “remains resolved in the belief that no Catholic priest will ever be compelled to condone – even silently – same-sex ‘marriages.’”
He stressed that “the Constitution guarantees that no endorsed minister will ever be compelled to perform a religious ceremony contrary to the dictates of his/her faith nor will today’s decision have any effect on the role and teaching ability of a priest or deacon in the pulpit, the classroom, the barracks or in the office.”
Questions over the protection of religious freedom were raised after the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman for federal purposes.
In a 5-4 decision, the court majority ruled on June 26 that the law – also known as DOMA – treated same-sex “marriages” as “less respected than others” and so violated the Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection under federal law.
As a result of the ruling, there is no longer one single definition of marriage for federal purposes. Rather, individual states may continue to define marriage as they wish, and the federal government must accept the marriages acknowledged by each state. Currently, just 12 states and the District of Columbia have redefined marriage to include gay couples, but efforts are underway to push for a redefinition in other states throughout the country as well.
The ruling immediately prompted concerns over potential threats to religious freedom. Already, religious groups and individuals have come under pressure to affirm same-sex relationships as “marriages,” even if doing so violates their religious convictions.
In states that have legalized “gay marriage,” Catholic adoption agencies have been forced to shut down because they would only place children in homes with a married mother and father.
Religious individuals in professions ranging from bed-and-breakfast owner to photographer to baker have also faced lawsuits, fines and even threatened jail time for following the teachings of their faith on the definition of marriage.
Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, who leads the U.S. bishops’ religious freedom committee, said the Supreme Court’s ruling poses “a serious threat to religious liberty and conscience rights for countless people of faith.”
Also of particular concern is religious freedom in the military, where chaplains have already reported harassment and threats of punishment for promoting and defending Church teaching on marriage.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement that the “Department of Defense welcomes the Supreme Court's decision today on the Defense of Marriage Act.”
He added that the “Department of Defense intends to make the same benefits available to all military spouses – regardless of sexual orientation – as soon as possible. That is now the law, and it is the right thing to do.”
Chaplains and clergy within the armed services are members of the military and therefore federal employees within the Department of Defense. It is unknown how the court’s ruling will apply to military chaplains. When asked in a June 26 press conference how changes will be implemented, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Martin Dempsey explained that the department will “assess what that means.”
Responding to the situation, Archbishop Broglio voiced hope in the Constitution’s protections of “free exercise of religion” which “ensure that no restrictions or limitations on the teaching of the Catholic faith will be placed on any Catholic priest or deacon in the armed forces.”
He further said that he is “confident that people of this great country, no matter the consequences, will continue to promote and defend the good and the truth of marriage as the union of one man and one woman as husband and wife for life.”
“Marriage remains what it has always been, regardless of what any government might say,” he stressed.
Vatican City, Jun 27, 2013 (CNA) - On the 25th anniversary of the illicit ordination of four bishops by traditionalist Bishop Marcel Lefebvre, the Society of Saint Pius X indicated a definitive break of talks with the Catholic Church.
In a statement June 27, three of the four bishops originally ordained by Lefebvre expressed “their filial gratitude towards their venerable founder who, after so many years spent serving the Church and the Sovereign Pontiff, so as to safeguard the Faith and the Catholic priesthood, did not hesitate to suffer the unjust accusation of disobedience.”
The document – titled “Declaration on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the episcopal consecrations (30th June 1988 – 27th June 2013)” – is signed by Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais and Alfonso de Galarreta.
Bishop Richard Williamson, also ordained by Lefebvre, was expelled last year from the society.
The group was founded in 1970 by the French native Archbishop Lefebvre in response to errors he believed had crept into the Catholic Church following the Second Vatican Council, which took place from 1962-1965.
Interpretation and legacy of the Second Vatican Council was a major stumbling block for the society in their ongoing negotiations with the Vatican aimed at healing their 24-year rift.
The society has also had a strained relationship with the Church since its founder ordained four bishops against the will of Pope John Paul II in 1988.
In their statement Thursday, the group contradicted now-retired Pope Benedict XVI's stance on Vatican II. The letter made explicit reference to the “hermeneutic of continuity,” rejecting the interpretive lens by which Benedict XVI saw the conciliar documents in light of the Church's tradition.
The bishops say that the documents themselves have grave errors and that they cannot be interpreted without clashing with tradition.
The “cause of the grave errors which are in the process of demolishing the Church does not reside in a bad interpretation of the conciliar texts – a 'hermeneutic of rupture' which would be opposed to a 'hermeneutic of reform in continuity,'” they wrote, “but truly in the texts themselves, by virtue of the unheard of choice made by Vatican II.”
The group also claims that the Second Vatican Council “inaugurated a new type of magisterium, hitherto unheard of in the Church, without roots in Tradition; a magisterium resolved to reconcile Catholic doctrine with liberal ideas; a magisterium imbued with the modernist ideas of subjectivism, of immanentism and of perpetual evolution.”
The document argues that “the reign of Christ is no longer the preoccupation of the ecclesiastical authorities,” and that the liberal spirit in the Church is manifested “in religious liberty, ecumenism, collegiality and the New Mass.”
Because of religious liberty, they claim, the Church is being “shamefully guided by human prudence and with such self-doubt that she asks nothing other from the State than that which the Masonic Lodges wish to concede to her: the common law in the midst of, and on the same level as, other religions which she no longer dares call false.”
Because of inter-religious dialogue, “the truth about the one true Church is silenced,” they also say; while the spirit of collegiality “represents the destruction of authority and in consequence the ruin of Christian institutions: families, seminaries, religious institutes.”
The Lefebvrist bishops save their harshest criticism to the Novus Ordo Mass, promulgated in 1969 by Pope Paul VI. “This Mass is penetrated with an ecumenical and Protestant spirit, democratic and humanist, which empties out the sacrifice of the Cross.”
The traditionalist bishops announce that, in practice, the dialogue with the Vatican is over and that from now on, they will wait “either when Rome returns to Tradition and to the Faith of all time – which would re-establish order in the Church.”
Or, “when she explicitly acknowledges our right to profess integrally the Faith and to reject the errors which oppose it, with the right and the duty for us to oppose publicly the errors and the proponents of these errors, whoever they may be – which would allow the beginning of a re-establishing of order.”
Meanwhile “we persevere in the defense of Catholic Tradition and our hope remains entire,” the statement concludes.