Archive of October 26, 2013

Yale pro-life conference urges engagement with culture

New Haven, Conn., Oct 26, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - At Yale's first annual pro-life conference, advocates emphasized moving beyond current pro-life efforts to more directly address the issues and understandings of persons who do not see the dignity of all human life.

“Abortion might be the most boring moral issue we grapple with today,” said Michael Hannon, managing editor of The Thomistic Institute in New York City, a panelist at the Oct. 18 conference.

“That doesn’t mean it’s unimportant, and that certainly doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it, but I do think it’s incredibly uninteresting, and I think it’s incredibly uninteresting because it’s incredibly obvious.”

Hannon spoke at an Oct. 18 panel called “Beyond the Pro-Life Pep Rally: Where we Go From Here?” alongside Tristyn Bloom and David Nolan, both junior fellows at First Things, and Nora Calhoun, a registered nurse and doula.

The conference, called "Vita et Veritas," or "Life and Truth," was held at Yale's St. Thomas More chapel and Catholic campus chaplaincy, and was sponsored by Choose Life at Yale, or CLAY. Co-sponsoring the conference were the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Students for Life of America, Christian Union, and Life Matters Journal.

Hannon explained that in general, pro-life conferences “do a great good for us.” He warned, however, against a “pep rally” mentality among pro-lifers, and against a focus on abortion as a complicated moral question because, in reality, “abortion is the most black-and-white- issue there is.”

He said that he doesn’t see “how we can turn a blind eye” to a parent killing an unborn child,  when there is a proper understanding of the reality of life more broadly.

The more interesting question, Hannon continued, is not whether or not the unborn are persons, or if abortion is moral, but “why does everyone not agree” on the meaning and value of life, and “what do we do about it?”

“Ethics is talked about as the ‘right response to reality,’” he explained, “and until we some coherent picture of what that reality is, talking about the right response just doesn’t make any sense.”

Bloom encouraged attendees to encounter modern society’s understanding of man and to take the risk of trying to understand many people’s acceptance of abortion.

“We are pathologically afraid of risk,” as a society, and our society understands a new life as a big risk entailing a complete change of lifestyle with life-changing responsibilities. This challenges the vision of control and risk minimization that much of our society likes to have, she said.

She pondered if treating “planned pregnancies as normal” is a way of dealing with the seeming incomprehensibility of our own existence, and the supposed meaninglessness of life.

Modern parents compensate for this meaningless through planning,” Bloom said.

“We are the little gods of our own children.”

“When we have something unchosen, unplanned, uninvited, it’s a direct attack on the very core of our own being,” she said, explaining society’s rationalization of abortion.

“I think we must live in one of the most bodily confused eras of human history,” Calhoun segued off of this theme.

“Our bodies are seen as simply possessions, machines, tools,” she explained, adding that we “over-identify with them as with possessions, machines, tools.”

“They define us because we’ve been taught that the purpose of maintaining these bodily machines is maintaining our autonomy.”

The vision of absolute personal autonomy fuels the abortion industry as it fuels other parts of our consumerist society, Calhoun added.

In contrast, the idea of a person, such as a child, depending upon another for their existence “is deeply deeply threatening to the currently dominant ideology that autonomy is personhood.”

“The pro-life movement needs to be witnessing to a radically different attitude towards bodies, but we aren’t doing a very good job of it right now.”

“Instead of promoting the radically different idea that no characteristic can confer personhood, we’re constantly undermining ourselves by over-emphasizing fetal and embryonic characteristics.”

“At the same time, we’re downplaying the tremendous unity between an unborn baby and her mother.”

While she admitted that “there’s certainly a place for education” on medical facts about the unborn, Calhoun argued that the emphasis of the pro-life movement should not be on topics such as fetal development, pain, or heartbeats.

“The problem is that we’re emphasizing the abilities and merits and strengths of the unborn, whereas I feel strongly that the real message of hope and justice that the pro-life movement carries is that there are no abilities or strengths that confer status, not even being viable or sentient or undamaged or wanted.”

“That’s the real message we should be promoting: that you cannot win or forfeit humanity.”

To fight the message of autonomy promoted by abortion, “we need to reacquaint ourselves with our bodies,” she said.

“We need a shared language that goes deeper than words usually can: I think bodies can be that language.”

Calhoun stated that not everyone is called to being a midwife or hospice worker, “but corporal works of mercy are open, and in fact, demanded of all, and they seem to me to be the best place to start. Let’s see how far they get us.”

Nolan encouraged pro-life advocates to not only consider the cultural mindsets underlying abortion, but also to extend “mercy to everything we encounter” and to extend the pro-life understanding and concern for life in the womb to other ethical areas in the process.

He encouraged the work that some pro-life activists have made for “treating animals mercifully,” questioning trends in industrial farming in which animals are raised in suffering and without concern for their well being.

“Our eating choices fall squarely into ethical ground, and we would do well to consider our choices.”

He acknowledged that “it’s frightening to consider moral choices that will change the way we live,” but encouraged pro-life supporters to consider the moral questions in all areas of life as they would have abortion supporters consider the morality of their lifestyle choices.

“Being really pro-life has worldview connotations; it demands that we go beyond a single-focus issue,” Nolan charged.

“We must be careful not to entrench ourselves in areas with a sporadically and single-issue focus that doesn’t recognize the underlying links.”

This doesn’t mean that people should abandon pro-life advocacy Nolan explained, but that pro-life advocates should open broader justice and mercy as part of a complete pro-life worldview.

“The most obvious place where justice and mercy meet is in the protection of the child in the womb.”

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Christ preaches Gospel through you, Pope tells new bishops

Vatican City, Oct 26, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - At a Mass on Thursday at Saint Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis consecrated two men as bishops and exhorted them to be faithful to Christ, for he reaches men through their ministry.

“Christ, in fact, is who through the ministry of the bishop continues to preach the Gospel of salvation and sanctifies believers, through the sacraments of the faith,” the Bishop of Rome preached in his homily at the Oct. 24 Mass during which he consecrated Archbishop Jean-Marie Speich and Archbishop Giampiero Gloder.

The two have both been appointed to serve in the Vatican's diplomatic corps. Archbishop Speich, who was a priest of the Strasbourg archdiocese, has been appointed apostolic nuncio to Ghana; and Archbishop Gloder, who was a priest of the Padua diocese, is president of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, which trains priests for the diplomatic corps.

“Reflect attentively on what great ecclesial responsibilities these, our brothers, are called to,” Pope Francis said, reflecting on their place in the apostolic succession instituted by Christ for the sanctification of mankind.

“So as to perpetuate from generation to generation this apostolic ministry, the

Twelve gathered collaborators, passing on to them by the laying on of hands the gift of the Spirit received from Christ, who conferred the fullness of the sacrament of Orders.”

He noted that “thus, through the unbroken succession of bishops in the living tradition of the Church … the Savior's work continues and develops up to our time. In the bishop surrounded by his priests there is present among you the same our Lord Jesus Christ, high priest forever.”

Pope Francis said that Christ “in the fatherhood of the bishop adds new members to his body, which is the Church. And Christ in the wisdom and prudence of the bishop guides the people of God through he earthly pilgrimage to eternal happiness.”

“As for you, Jean-Marie and Giampiero, chosen by the Lord, reflect that you have been chosen from among men and for men, you have have been appointed for those things regarding God.”

The office of bishop, he advised them, “is in fact the name of a service, not of an honor,” and that bishops are called to “compete” in serving – rather than “lording it over” – their flocks.

“Always in service, always,” the Pontiff said.

Pope Francis exhorted them to “proclaim the Word in every opportunity: in season and out of season. Admonish, reprove, exhort with all magnanimity and teaching.”

Focusing on the grave importance of prayer, he went on to tell the newly consecrated that in this way, they will be able to “draw from the holiness of Christ the multiform richness of divine grace.”

“A bishop who does not pray is a bishop half-way. And if you do not pray to the Lord, you end up worldly.”

Following his discussion on prayer, the Roman Pontiff turned to the necessity of love.

“The love of a bishop: love, love with the love of a father and of a brother all whom God has entrusted to you. In the first place, love the priests and the deacons.”

He exhorted them to be attentive to their priests, not waiting to see them when the priests ask to see them: “respond immediately,” he exclaimed. “Be close to them.”

“But also love the poor, the helpless and those who need welcome and assistance. Exhort the faithful to cooperate” with you.

Pope Francis also advised the bishops to have care for those who are not Catholic or Christian, “because they too have been entrusted to you in the Lord. Pray much for them.”

He also noted the importance of collaboration among bishops, telling them to remember that “you need to bring with you a solicitude for all the Churches, aiding generously those who are most in need of assistance.”

“Keep watch in the name of the Father, who makes present the image; in the name of Jesus Christ, his Son, by whom he made you teachers, priests and pastors. In the name of the Holy Spirit who gives life to the Church and by his power sustains us in our weakness,” he concluded.

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Anglican scholar, Catholic theologian awarded Ratzinger prize

Rome, Italy, Oct 26, 2013 (CNA) - At the conclusion of an international symposium in Rome, Pope Francis granted the prestigious "Joseph Ratzinger award" to two professors for their exemplary scholarship in theology.

The winners were the Anglican Rev. Canon Professor Richard Burridge, Dean of Kings College, London, and Catholic professor of theology Christian Schaller, vice director of the Pope Benedict XVI institute of Regensburg, Germany.

“Special congratulations go to the Revered Professor Richard Burridge, however, and Professor Christian Schaller, who have been awarded this year’s Joseph Ratzinger Prize. said Pope Francis on Oct. 26.

“Also on behalf of my beloved predecessor, with whom I was three or four days ago - I express my congratulations: may the Lord always bless you and your work in the service of his kingdom,” he added.

The award is given to scholars whose work demonstrates a meaningful contribution to theology in the spirit of Joseph Ratzinger.

The Pope met with participants of the symposium, which was held by the Joseph Ratzinger foundation, at the close of their conference entitled “The Gospels, Historical and Christological Research.”

Scholars from around the world had gathered to discuss the main themes found in the “Jesus of Nazareth” series written by Benedict XVI before and during his papacy. The three volumes involve an in-depth study of the life and person of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Gospels.

Pope Francis took a moment during his audience with the group to reflect on these works: “I remember when the first volume came out, some people were saying: but what is this? A Pope doesn’t write books of theology, he writes encyclicals!”

“Certainly Pope Benedict had considered this problem,” he continued, “but even in this case, like always, he followed the voice of the Lord in the light of his conscience.”

“He made a gift to the Church, and to all men, of that which was most precious to him: his knowledge of Jesus, the fruit of years and years of study, theological confrontation, and prayer. Because Benedict XVI did theology on his knees, and we all know it. And this has made it available in the most accessible form,” explained Pope Francis.

“The work of Benedict XVI has stimulated a new season of study between history and Christology regarding the Gospels,” the Pope added.

Award winner Burridge described how his academic work complemented that of Benedict XVI.

“I have been working for the last 30 years on the literary character of the Gospels and in particular how they relate to the literary genre of Greco-Roman biographies. And obviously Pope Benedict Emeritus wrote his biography of ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ in which he has argued also that the key to interpreting the Gospels is through the portrait of Jesus and I've demonstrated how you do that by looking at Greco-Roman biographies,” he told CNA on Oct. 25.

Burridge is the first non-Roman Catholic to receive the Joseph Ratzinger award.

“It is a huge honor. I'm so grateful to the Holy Father and to the Church for honoring my work in this way and the fact that it means that the way in which we read the Gospels across the world has changed now,” he said.

The Anglican scholar added that, “The fact that we are now dialoguing and working together and sharing in conferences is really important as we together try to understand what God is saying to us and as together we try to build his church here on earth.”

Fellow award winner Christian Schaller told CNA Oct. 25 that he feels the award is a responsibility as well as an honor.

“It is a very great honor and pleasure for me of course, but it is also a responsibility to the fact that one is even more intensely involved (in studying) the works of Joseph Ratzinger.”

According to Pope Francis, “No one can measure how much good has been done” through the works of Joseph Ratzinger.

However, the Holy Father added, “But all of us have a certain idea by having heard what a grace these books on Jesus of Nazareth have been for many people – they have nourished their faith, given them depth, or even (helped) them approach Christ for the first time in an adult manner, joining the demands of reason with the search for the face of God.”

An international group of the Pope Emeritus’ former students started the Ratzinger Foundation for the purpose of scholarly research and study.
The Joseph Ratzinger prize has been awarded each year since 2011.

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Sacraments are not mere 'decorations,' insists Pope

Vatican City, Oct 26, 2013 (CNA) - Pope Francis met with families from around the world today in a celebration of the joy of family life, telling them that the sacraments provide real grace to aid in the challenges everyone faces.

“The sacraments don’t just decorate life!” exclaimed the Pope to the crowds filling St. Peter’s Square on Oct. 26. “They are to give us strength of life!”

The event was held during the Year of Faith in order for families from around the world to celebrate with the Pope. He entered the square on Saturday evening surrounded by children holding brightly colored balloons. Music played as different acrobats and artists performed.

As the evening progressed, many children, couples, and grandparents spoke to Pope Francis about their questions and concerns regarding marriage and family life.

Speaking about marriage, Pope Francis admitted, “certainly, it’s difficult.  For this reason we want the grace of the Sacrament!”

“The Sacrament of Matrimony is not a pretty ceremony. Christian spouses marry in the Sacrament because they know they need it!”

Decrying the “provisional” culture that pervades the modern world with its fear of commitment, the Pope explained, “with trust in God’s faithfulness, everything can be faced responsibly and without fear.” 

“Christian spouses are not naïve; they know life’s problems and temptations. But they are not afraid to be responsible before God and before society. They do not run away, they do not hide, they do not shirk the mission of forming a family and bringing children into the world.”

The Pontiff acknowledged the particular difficulties facing many families today, including war, poverty, and especially the growing rate of joblessness.

“‘Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden,’ Jesus says. Dear families, the Lord knows our struggles and the burdens we have in our lives. But he also knows our great desire to find joy and rest! Do you remember? Jesus said, ‘…that your joy may be complete.’ Jesus wants our joy to be complete!” he exclaimed.

“Jesus always gives us that love: he is its endless source. He gives us, in a sacrament, his word and the bread of life, so that our joy may be full,” he said, in reference to the Eucharist.

Pope Francis then turned to an icon of the Presentation, depicting Mary and Joseph with the infant Jesus in the Temple alongside the elderly prophets, Simeon and Anna.

“In this scene three generations come together: Simeon holds in his arms the child Jesus, in whom he recognizes the Messiah, while Anna is shown praising God and proclaiming salvation to those awaiting the redemption of Israel,” the Pope recounted.

“These two elderly persons represent faith as memory. Mary and Joseph are the family, sanctified by the presence of Jesus who is the fulfillment of all God’s promises.”

“Like the Holy Family of Nazareth, every family is part of the history of a people; it cannot exist without the generations who have gone before it.”

“Grandparents are the wisdom of the family!” he added.

The Pope departed from his prepared remarks to give some practical advice families should familiarize themselves with three simple phrases: “excuse me,” “thank you,” and “I’m sorry.”

“Tell me,” he asked the audience, “how many times a day do you say thank you to your wife? To your husband? How many days have passed since you last said thank you?”

“Don’t finish a day without making peace,” he encouraged.

One little girl informed the Pontiff that she knew how to make the sign of the cross.  Pope Francis went over to the microphone and said with a smile, “I know how to make the sign of the cross, but I don’t know if all the children here do. Do you? Yes? Let’s do it together!”

Pope Francis then led the crowds in the Profession of Faith and concluded the evening with a Hail Mary.

Saturday evening’s event was part of a weekend of activities for families on pilgrimage to Rome.

Many had made a visit to the tomb of St. Peter on Saturday morning, and will join the Pope for a rosary and mass on Sunday morning.

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