Archive of April 11, 2014

Catholic hospitals right to reject contraceptives, doctors say

Tulsa, Okla., Apr 11, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Following controversy over a Catholic-affiliated medical center’s rejection of contraceptive practices in Oklahoma, physicians have said that such institutions are trying to act with integrity.

“Catholic hospitals and health care providers do not prevent women from accessing what they want, they just don’t provide it themselves,” Lester Ruppersberger, a Pennsylvania physician and vice president of the Catholic Medical Association, said April 3.

“They are not lobbying against contraception, they just do not wish to be forced to violate their beliefs and ethics.”

He told CNA that those who do not agree with Catholic medical ethics “are not being deprived” and “do not have the right to expect or force (Catholic health systems) to provide what they cannot and will not.”

Catholic ethics became the focus of controversy in the northeastern Oklahoma city of Bartlesville in late March when reports claimed that doctors affiliated with Jane Phillips Medical Center were directed not to prescribe birth control.

Reports attributed the policy to Ascension Health system, the new sponsor of the St. John Health System, of which the medical center is a member. Ascension Health’s sponsors include five Catholic religious congregations.

A March 31 statement from St. John Health System said it operates “consistent with Catholic health care organizations” and in accordance with Catholic ethical and religious directives. It “therefore does not approve or support contraceptive practices.”

However, the health system added that only physicians are licensed to practice medicine and make medical judgements. Although its physicians “agree to abide by the directives,” they can prescribe medications “in accordance with their independent professional medical judgment.”

The medical system said such actions includes informing patients that they are acting on their own professional judgement and “not on behalf of St. John Health System.”

Critics of the medical center objected that the policy hindered access to contraception and other services. They said that the policy could drive patients away from local doctors and hurt the local economy.

One Bartlesville woman, speaking anonymously to the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise, said she did not think a religiously affiliated hospital is “good for Bartlesville,” and a local pediatrician, Ray Harris, said he believes Catholic tenets are “medieval and barbaric,” adding that the policy would require those who desire contraceptives to leave town.

However, Rebecca Peck, a Florida-based family physician, criticized assumptions that birth control drugs are difficult to secure.

“They are widely available, even if there is not another health care system in town.” The federal Title X Family Planning Program makes contraceptives “widely available, even free,” and the drugs can be purchased at the retail giant Wal-Mart “for about $10 a month,” she said.

Peck, a member of the Catholic Medical Association, said that contraceptives and morning-after pills do not prevent disease.

“Fertility and children are not diseases,” she told CNA April 3.

She said that contraceptive use is bad for women’s health and their relationships, noting some studies indicating an increase in breast cancer and cervical cancer risk, the risk of strokes and blood clots, and occasionally death.

Ruppersberger said that Catholics understand that contraception “violates the meaning of the marital act” by separating procreation from the unitive dimensions of marital relations.

Peck labeled as “short-sighted,” concerns that the Catholic-affiliated medical center policy will hurt the local economy by driving business elsewhere.

She said money from obstetric and pediatric services for children helps contribute to the town’s economy, as does the labor of the children after they grow up.

She said Catholic health systems “promote family life, which is the heart and soul of every town,” and that Catholic health care provides a necessary counterweight to “an increasingly secular and utilitarian society.”

Ruppersberger said Catholic hospitals exist to provide “Christ-centered health care,” which aims to apply Catholic teachings “with integrity and compassion.”

“True ethical and moral applications of these principles will never violate the dignity of the person and the value of life, both at beginning and end of life.”

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Christian unity: a goal common to John XXIII, John Paul II

Vatican City, Apr 11, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Both John XXIII and John Paul II, who will be canonized April 27, acted for Church unity and dedicated much of their lives and Magisterium to foster relations among Christian communities.

John XXIII’s effort was highly appreciated among the Orthodox Churches; when he convoked the Second Vatican Council, representatives of both the Orthodox Churches and Protestant ecclesial communities were invited as observers of the Ecumenical Council.

According to the late Cardinal Johannes Willebrands, who was for many years president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, John XXIII was revered by the Russian Orthodox.

Willebrands had been appointed to the pontifical council’s forerunner by John XXIII in 1960, and testified during the Roman Pontiff’s cause for canonization that as Catholics and their separated brethren discussed a possible patron for the ecumenical movement, “Russian observers asked that John XXIII himself be considered as patron of the ecumenical movement.”

John XXIII’s concern for the ecumenical movement stretched back to the years he was apostolic delegate to Turkey.

The homily he gave at the celebration of Pentecost in Turkey in 1944 – the last he was to spend in the country – shows the spirit of Roncalli: set in the east, his school for ecumenism.

Bishop Roncalli said: “Here, we Latin Catholics of Istanbul and Catholics of Armenia, Greece, Chaldean, Syrian rite — we are a modest minority living on the surface of a vast world we are just superficially in touch with. We love to distinguish ourselves from those who do not profess our faith, from the Orthodox, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, believers or non-believers.”

But, he continued, even if “diversity of race, language, education, painful contrasts of a sad past keep us in reciprocal distance, in the light of the Gospel … Christ has come to tear the walls down; he died to proclaim our universal brotherhood; the central focus of his teaching is the love that links every man to him as the first of brothers, and that links him with us to the Father.”

During his pontificate, John Paul II continued John XXIII’s commitment to ecumenism.

In his 1995 encyclical on commitment to ecumenism, “Ut unum sint”, he wrote that “to believe in Christ means to desire unity; to desire unity means to desire the Church; to desire the Church means to desire the communion of grace which corresponds to the Father's plan from all eternity. Such is the meaning of Christ's prayer: Ut unum sint.”

He said, "the entire life of Christians is marked by a concern for ecumenism; and they are called to let themselves be shaped, as it were, by that concern.”

"Thus, it is absolutely clear that ecumenism, the movement promoting Christian unity, is not just some sort of 'appendix' which is added to the Church's traditional activity. Rather, ecumenism is an organic part of her life and work, and consequently must pervade all that she is and does; it must be like the fruit borne by a healthy and flourishing tree which grows to its full stature.”

One of the most important ecumenical moment of John Paul II’s papacy occurred during his trip to Greece in 2001 -- the first visit of a Pope to Greece in more than 1,200 years.

The trip started in a climate of ecumenical hostility, since no representatives from the Greek Orthodox Church welcomed him upon his arrival. On May 4, he had a 30-minute meeting with the Greek Orthodox Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens.

After the meeting, Archbishop Christodoulos read in public the list of “13 offences” committed by Catholics against the Orthodox, including the 1204 Sack of Constantinople.

Archbishop Christodoulos complained that “no pardons” had been asked by the Catholic Church for “the furious crusades of the twelfth century.”

John Paul II responded: “For the past and the present occasions, for any time the sons and daughters of the Catholic Church sinned in actions or omissions against their Orthodox brothers and sisters, may the Lord give us mercy.”

He added that “Catholics feel profound regret for the plunder of Constantinople.”

John Paul II and Archbishop Christodoulos then went to the Areopagus, whence they issued a joint declaration that they would “do everything in our power to see to it that Europe’s Christian roots and soul are preserved.”

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John Paul II's secretary: pontificate was marked by martyrdom

Krakow, Poland, Apr 11, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, one of Bl. John Paul II’s closest collaborators, said the Pope’s holiness and pontificate were characterized by martyrdom.

In an article entitled “A Life with Karol,” published in a magazine insert by the Italian newspaper Avvenire, Cardinal Dziwisz said that during the May 13, 1981 assassination attempt, “the Pope’s blood was shed … and the Pope came close to martyrdom by blood.”

“Afterwards, the rest of his pontificate was marked by another kind of martyrdom: hard work, sacrifice, being consumed by Christ and his cause, for which the Savior of man came to earth.”
Cardinal Dziwisz reflected that during the 27 years of his pontificate, the holiness of John Paul II was multifaceted and manifest in many ways, including “prayer, service and suffering.”
“I met Karol Wojtyla in the seminary at age 18. It was 1957. He was professor of ethics. We were amazed at his knowledge of the material, as well as his spirituality and his open-mindedness toward others. A year later he was named auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Krakow and some time later, he took over as metropolitan archbishop,” the former secretary recalled.
“On June 23, 1963, I received the Sacrament of Orders from the hands of young Archbishop Karol. At that time I never imagined that the story of my life and my vocation would be so marked by service to the Church at his side.”
On Oct. 6, 1978, a turning point came in the life of Cardinal Dziwisz: Cardinal Wojtyla was elected Bishop of Rome. “He asked me to continue helping him. That’s how it all began.”
“Nobody knew how long it would last or how the pontificate of John Paul II would be. He came from a faraway country, both from the geographical and political point of view. In the Pope’s country, a Communist totalitarian system against God, the Church and the human being was in power, with the goal of depriving man of what is most important.”
Cardinal Dziwisz said that John Paul II became a catechist for the world at his death. “I stayed with him until the end, until his last breath. You could think that it was the end of everything, but in reality it was the beginning of a new story: holiness. The death and funeral of John Paul II in themselves became an emotional catechesis for the entire world.”

“God only knows what happened the hearts of millions of people. The holiness of the Pope began to speak to them at that moment. The holiness of the Pope is the synthesis of what he was, what he was able to achieve.”

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Pope responds to Venezuelan peace talks invitation

Vatican City, Apr 11, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Answering an invitation from Venezuela's foreign affairs minister to participate in the country’s peace talks, Pope Francis sent a letter to all parties involved, encouraging them to foster open dialogue.

“I am deeply convinced that violence can never bring peace and wellbeing to a country, because it only ever generates more violence,” the Pope stated in his April 10 letter.

“On the contrary, through dialogue you can rediscover common and shared ground that will help to overcome the current moment of conflict.”

Pope Francis’ message was read aloud by Archbishop Aldo Giordano, the Apostolic Nuncio in Caracas, at the beginning of the highly-anticipated meeting Thursday night between President Nicolas Maduro and key members of the opposition, including two-time presidential candidate Henrique Capriles.

Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs Elias Jaua initially sent a letter to the Vatican, which was published on April 9, inviting the Holy See to participate in the National Peace Conference that which has been convened by President Nicolas Maduro.

The move came after a meeting between Venezuela government officials and the opposition, during which both sides agreed that the Holy See could join in the peace process.

In his letter, addressed to President Nicolas Maduro Moros, members of Government, representatives of the Mesa de Unidad Democratica and UNASUR leaders, Pope Francis thanked them for the invitation to participate, and assured them of his prayers that the meetings will result in peace and reconciliation for the country.

“I am aware of the restlessness and pain that many people are experiencing, and while I express my concern for what is taking place, I renew my affection for all Venezuelans, especially for the victims of violence and their families,” he expressed.

Going on, the pontiff explained that he is “deeply convinced” that violence can never foster peace, but that only through dialogue will they “rediscover common and shared ground that will help to overcome the current moment of conflict and polarization, which profoundly wounds Venezuela, to find new forms of collaboration.”

Out of “respect and recognition of the differences that exist in your country, the common good can be favored,” the Pope affirmed, highlighting how “all of you share in the love you have for your nation and its people.”

“You also share concerns linked to the economic crisis, violence and criminality. You all care deeply about your children’s future and desire that peace which distinguishes the Venezuelan people. You all share faith in God and the will to defend the dignity of the human person.”

“This,” he continued, “is what draws you together and urges you to undertake a process of dialogue which begins today, which must be rooted in an authentic culture of encounter, aware that unity must always prevail over conflict.”

Pope Francis then urged the leaders “not to get stuck in the conflict of the moment but open yourselves to one another to become true builders of peace.”

“At the heart of all sincere dialogue is reciprocal recognition and respect,” noted the pontiff, adding that “above all, there is the ‘heroism’ of forgiveness and mercy, which frees us from resentment, from hate and opens up a road that is truly new.”

Observing that it is “a long and difficult road, which requires patience and courage,” the Roman Pontiff explained that it is the only path “that can lead to justice and peace.”

“For the good of all your people and the future of your children, I ask you to have this courage.”

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The Christian life is a constant battle against evil, Pope reflects

Vatican City, Apr 11, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis centered his daily homily on the topic of temptation, observing that it has a specific structure, and encouraging attendees to learn from scripture how to fight the devil.

“We too are tempted, we too are the target of attacks by the devil because the spirit of Evil does not want our holiness, he does not want our Christian witness, he does not want us to be disciples of Christ,” the Pope expressed in his April 11 daily Mass.

Speaking to those gathered in the chapel of the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse, the pontiff highlighted that every Christian struggles against the spirit of evil, just as Jesus did during his life and ministry.

Drawing attention to how Jesus himself was tempted, the Pope emphasized that as his followers, we too are the subject of spiritual attacks which seek to deter us from the Lord, because the devil “does not want our Christian witness.”

“And what does the Spirit of Evil do, through his temptations, to distance us from the path of Jesus?” he asked, observing that “the temptation of the devil has three characteristics and we need to learn about them in order not to fall into the trap.”

“Firstly, his temptation begins gradually but grows and is always growing,” the pontiff stated, adding that “Secondly, it grows and infects another person, it spreads to another and seeks to be part of the community.”

In the end, “in order to calm the soul, it justifies itself,” the Bishop of Rome explained, reiterating that “it grows, it spreads and it justifies itself.”

Looking to Scripture, Pope Francis recalled the temptation of Jesus in the desert, noting that the first attempt of the devil to thwart him by having him throw himself from the temple to show that he is the Messiah was almost like a seduction.

However, when Satan is rejected, he grows and returns stronger than before, continued the Pope, pointing out how even Jesus knew this when he spoke of how the devil looks for companions and then returns with all of them to torment the same person.

Recalling Jesus’ preaching in the synagogue, the Roman Pontiff noted that his enemies’ words - “but isn’t this the son of Joseph, the carpenter, the son of Mary. He never studied so with what authority can he speak?” - illustrate how temptation begins as what seems like a small trickle of water, but eventually turns into a flood.

“We have a temptation that grows: it grows and infects others,” he repeated. “For example, let’s look at gossip: I’m a bit envious of this or that person and at first I’m just envious inside” but eventually “I need to share it and go to another person and say: ‘But have you seen that person?’”

Inevitably, “this gossip tries to grow and infects another and another,” he went on to say, adding, “This is the way gossip works and all of us have been tempted to gossip!”

“Maybe not one of you, if you’re a saint, but I too have been tempted to gossip! It’s a daily temptation. And it begins in this way, discreetly, like a trickle of water. It grows by infecting others and in the end it justifies itself.”

Concluding his reflections, the Pope encouraged attendees to be vigilant in their prayer, noting, “We are all tempted because the law of our spiritual life, our Christian life is a struggle: a struggle.”

“That’s because the Prince of this world, Satan, doesn’t want our holiness, he doesn’t want us to follow Christ,” he repeated.

Observing how some might say, “But Father, how old fashioned you are to speak about the devil in the 21st century,” the Pope warned them to “look out because the devil is present!”

“The devil is here…even in the 21st century! And we mustn’t be naïve, right? We must learn from the Gospel how to fight against Satan.”

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Pope apologizes for priests' sex abuse, promises strong response

Vatican City, Apr 11, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis called April 11 for an “even stronger” Catholic Church response to combat sexual abuse, saying he felt compelled to “personally ask forgiveness” for priests who have sexually abused children.

“The Church is aware of this damage, it is personal, moral damage carried out by men of the Church, and we will not take one step backward with regards to how we deal with this problem, and the sanctions that must be imposed,” the Pope told the International Child Bureau in an April 11 audience at the Vatican, according to Vatican Radio.

He said the response to sex abuse has to be “even stronger” because “you cannot interfere with children.”

The International Catholic Child Bureau is a Catholic NGO dedicated to global work on behalf of children.

The Pope also discussed other issues affecting children. He stressed the importance of fighting slave labor, recruitment of children as soldiers, and “all forms of violence against children.”

“On a positive note, we must reaffirm the right of children to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity,” he said.

The Pope voiced support for parents to decide their children’s moral and religious education, while he rejected “any kind of educational experimentation with children.”

“The horrors of the manipulation of education that we experienced in the great genocidal dictatorships of the twentieth century have not disappeared; they have retained a current relevance under various guises and proposals and, with the pretense of modernity, push children and young people to walk on the dictatorial path of ‘only one form of thought’,” he warned.

Pope Francis also reflected on the need for sound formation of human rights advocates.

He said that work for human rights presupposes a good understanding of the human person and “knowing how to respond to the problems and challenges posed by contemporary culture and widespread mentality propagated by the mass media.”

He urged the children’s rights advocates to propose the “positive values of the human person.”

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HHS Secretary Sebelius, face of contraception mandate, resigns

Washington D.C., Apr 11, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - After months of criticism over the troubled rollout of the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has announced her resignation.

U.S. President Barack Obama officially made public Sebelius’ departure April 11, praising her as “a tireless advocate for women's health.”

However, Rep. Diane Black (R- Tenn.), a co-sponsor of pro-life legislation proposed to clarify ambiguities about abortion funding in the Affordable Care Act, criticized Sebelius’ tenure.

Black noted in an April 11 statement that the controversial federal contraception mandate was issued under Sebelius’ leadership.

She charged that the mandate “forces those who stand up for their conscience to choose between paying crippling fines that could shut down their business or dropping healthcare coverage for all their employees.”

As Secretary of Health and Human Services since 2009, Sebelius was responsible for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act after its passage in 2010. In recent months, she had drawn criticism for the problems experienced in the state health care exchanges and technical glitches troubling the rollout of the website.

Sebelius has also been the face of the federal contraception mandate, a directive issued under the authority of the Affordable Care Act. The mandate requires employers to offer health insurance plans including coverage of contraception, sterilization and some drugs that can cause early abortions.

Despite a series of revisions to the mandate, critics argue that it fails to respect the religious freedom of employers who have moral and religious objections to its demands. More than 300 plaintiffs have sued Sebelius and her department over the mandate, and the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on two cases involving the mandate this summer.

In announcing her resignation, Obama acknowledged that “there were problems” with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and, but praised the secretary’s work to enroll people in the exchanges.

Obama also announced his nomination of Sylvia Mathews Burwell, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, to replace Sebelius in the position.

In her resignation speech, Sebelius called her time as HHS Secretary the “most meaningful work I've ever been a part of” and “the cause of my life.”

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, praised the outgoing secretary in an April 10 tweet, writing “Kathleen Sebelius did more for women's health than anyone in history - our champion!”

She added in an April 11 tweet that “27 million women are benefiting from no-cost preventive health care, including birth control.”

Sebelius had also sparked controversy in her previous role as governor of Kansas due to her Catholic faith and adamant support for abortion.

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Bishop laments lack of charity in high school controversy

Charlotte, N.C., Apr 11, 2014 (CNA) - Bishop Peter J. Jurgis has said he is “shocked” by reports of “a lack of charity and respect” at a North Carolina high school meeting about a religious sister whose discussion of homosexuality came under attack.

“There simply is no room in the Catholic Church for such displays of uncharitableness and disrespect,” the Bishop of Charlotte said April 9. “If we have failed in this regard let us make amends to God and neighbor. Even when we disagree, that disagreement should be expressed respectfully in love.”

The April 2 Charlotte Catholic High School meeting with students’ parents concerned the March 21 presentation of Sister Jane Dominic Laurel, O.P., an assistant professor of theology at Aquinas College in Nashville, Tenn.

She addressed an all-school assembly in a one-hour presentation, “Masculinity and Femininity: Difference and Gift,” that discussed Catholic teaching about sexual difference in light of Blessed Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.

Her presentation was not recorded and accounts of its content rest on descriptions from school administrators and students.

High school officials told media outlets that a significant portion of her talk discussed homosexuality and attributed a correlation between the decline of fatherhood in the U.S. and a rise in homosexuality.

A petition reportedly created by a student at the high school said that students were “confused why time was spent condemning the practice of homosexuality.” The petition called the presentation “offensive.”

According to student reports, she cited studies and statistics indicating that people are not born with same-sex attraction and that children raised by a single parent have a greater chance of becoming homosexual. The students said that her presentation suggested a correlation between masturbation and homosexuality, the Charlotte Observer says.

The controversy over her presentation became the subject of national press coverage.

The school’s meeting about the presentation drew 900 parents. Among those who spoke, some parents supported the school and the presentation, but most were critical, the Catholic News Herald reports.

Bishop Jurgis said he was “shocked to hear the disturbing reports of a lack of charity and respect at the parents’ meeting, and outside the meeting in conversations and in social media.”

He noted that there were “different viewpoints” about Sister Laurel’s presentation and that the school apologized for not notifying parents in advance about the subject of the assembly.

He said Catholic moral teaching was “not raised as a matter of contention” at the meeting.

“All of our Catholic schools are committed to hold and teach the Catholic faith in its fullness and with integrity. The Catechism of the Catholic Church contains an explanation of our faith and is accessible to all,” the bishop said.

In an April 2 statement, Aquinas College said Sister Laurel’s talk “attempted to reflect the teaching of the Catholic Church” on a “challenging topic.” The college said her talks have been “favorably received” at other venues.

The college said the talk was intended to show that human sexuality is a “great gift” from God, though contemporary culture sees this “differently.” The college said Sister Laurel had intended to bring a message that brings “life, peace, and a deep sense of purpose.”

“It appears that this message was not universally accepted,” the college continued, expressing hope that no one felt unloved by God. It called the subsequent controversy “unfortunate.”

Sr. Laurel holds a doctorate in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome.

Aquinas College president Sister Mary Sarah Galbraith commented on the presentation April 4, noting that of those commenting on the matter, few people were present to hear the presentation. She said that Sister Laurel “spoke clearly on matters of faith and morals,” but said “her deviation into realms of sociology and anthropology was beyond the scope of her expertise.”

“The unfortunate events at Charlotte Catholic High School are not representative of the quality of Sister’s academic contributions or the positive influence that she has had on her students,” Sister Mary Sarah said. “The students at Charlotte Catholic were unprepared, as were their parents, for the topic that Sister was asked to deliver.”

“There are no words that are able to reverse the harm that has been caused by these comments,” she said. “The community of Aquinas College is saddened by this extreme outcome and wishes to reiterate that this is not something the College condones or desires to create.”

According to Sister Mary Sarah, Sister Laurel has cancelled her speaking engagements. At Sister Laurel’s own request, she is preparing to begin a sabbatical from teaching at Aquinas College.

Bishop Jurgis urged parents, students, staff and faculty to “move forward toward healing with charity, the hallmark of our Christian life.”

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Ambassador launches book on Padre Pio in Philippines

Manila, Philippines, Apr 11, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Fernando Sanchez Campos, Costa Rica's ambassador to the Holy See, released in Manila last month the English translation of his book on Padre Pio's intercessory role in his family's life.

“We are here to speak about God’s love, and this is for three reasons: to help reinforce our faith, to share God’s graces knowing that Jesus is the best gift we can receive, and to know that the Lord is very persistent,” Sanchez said March 24 at the book launch.

The book, “A Spiritual Son Is Born: Our Story with Padre Pio of Pietrelcina,” is Sanchez' witness to grace and what he regards as the miraculous healing of his son and his wife through the intercession of Padre Pio, which he said “brought me near to God.”

The book launch was attended by more than 400 guests at the Wack-Wack Golf & Country Club in Manila, in collaboration with the Filipino embassy to the Holy See.

Mercedes Tuason, Filipino ambassador to the Holy See, is a patron of the translation and said, “it would be an enormous spiritual treasure.”

Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila said at the event: “Thank you for the gift of Padre Pio … if we belong to God, we are holy, we are saints. Let us all be a 'virus' of holiness.”

He said to Sanchez, “may your book influence others.”

The cardinal reminded the faithful present that when a believer decides to ask for a saint’s intercession, “it was actually the saint who chose (to help) us, to bring us closer to God.”

Cardinal Tagle added that any reader who has been through intense physical, emotional, or psychological pain would recognize the reassuring voice of God speaking through Sanchez’ book.

The English edition of the work was translated by Lourdes Mendonza, and features a foreword by Cardinal Tagle.

It was first published in Spanish in 2010, and has also been translated into Italian.

“Testimonies of faith ignite others' faith, and this book will serve in understanding the mystery of God, miracles, and in contributing to the new evangelization,” Josephine Bantug, book project coordinator, told CNA.

Sanchez' book documents how Sanchez' firstborn child, within hours of his birth in 2007, was diagnosed with an atrial flutter and tachycardia. He was taken to neonatal intensive care, but no treatments would regularize his heartbeat.

Sanchez' wife also developed health problems, four days later having renal haemorrhage and respiratory problems, losing 70 percent of her renal function.

“Sustained only by the power of my faith, I gave everything up to God,” Sanchez wrote.

Seven days after his son's birth, a priest carrying a relic of Padre Pio visited the neonatal intensive care unit to pray for the cure of the child through the intercession of the saint; the relic was also brought to the bedside of his wife.

The following day, to the surprise of the medical staff, the child's heartbeat began to normalize, and his mother was healed.

Sanchez attributes both their healing to grace and to the intercession of Padre Pio.

The book narrates the family's experiences, and their encounters with Benedict XVI and with Pope Francis since the healings.

The book also contains a collection of prayers, novenas, and meditations of Padre Pio, which are “included with the hope of enriching the spiritual contribution and opportunities for meditation that the book may offer to the reader,” Sanchez said.

The book is produced by St. Paul's Publishing of the Philippines, and is available for 350 Philippine pesos, or $7.90.

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