Archive of April 12, 2014

Bishops invited to support 2014 March for Marriage

Washington D.C., Apr 12, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Two U.S. bishops leading efforts to defend and promote marriage offered their support for this year’s national March for Marriage and invited their fellow bishops to do the same.

“We are very grateful for this opportunity to express our support for the March for Marriage and to encourage participation in this event,” said Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo and Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco.

In an April 7 letter, they encouraged their fellow U.S. bishops to promote the march in their respective dioceses.

Bishop Malone is the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and Archbishop Cordileone chairs the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.

The 2014 March for Marriage will be held in Washington, D.C., on June 19, 2014. It is the second national demonstration to support the institution of marriage existing as a unique union between a man and a woman.

The first March for Marriage was held March 26, 2013, during the first day of arguments before the Supreme Court concerning the federal definition of marriage and states' ability to define marriage.

In June 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government should accept the definitions of marriage offered by each state rather than holding its own definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

The court also discarded a case defending a California amendment approved by voters to defend the definition of marriage. The high court dismissed the case on procedural grounds, allowing a lower court’s ruling that the amendment was unconstitutional to stand.

The bishops said that this year's march will be held days before the third annual Fortnight for Freedom, a two-week period of prayer, education and advocacy in support of religious liberty both at home and abroad.

The 2014 march, the bishops said, “will provide an ideal occasion for participants to celebrate and give public witness to the unique meaning of marriage,” particularly “at a time when the religious liberties and conscience rights of those who promote and defend marriage are increasingly threatened.”

“The March for Marriage will be an important means to promote and defend marriage for the good of our culture, to pray for our federal and state governments, and to stand in solidarity with people of good will,” they added. “It also complements well the bishops’ Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty.”

“This is a critical time for marriage in our country, as marriage amendments are being struck down by federal courts and appeals of these decisions are being made. We are deeply grateful for any support you can offer for this march,” they told their brother bishops.

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Australian woman given Papal honors for social service

Wollongong, Australia, Apr 12, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - At a Mass said last week, Bishop Peter Ingham of Wollongong bestowed Papal honors on Kathleen McCormack for her meritorious service to CatholicCare, the diocesan welfare agency.

Bishop Ingham made the announcement during the April 3 Mass said at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral to mark McCormack's retirement after 34 years of service to CatholicCare, 29 of which were as its diocesan director.

“I am delighted and honored to announce that Pope Francis has declared Kathleen a Dame of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great,” Bishop Ingham said.

While conferring the honor, he said, “Kathleen is a most worthy recipient of this award and I know she will treasure it and do it honor.”

“We offer her our congratulations and wish her every blessing for the future.”

The citation reads: “Francis, Supreme Pontiff, is pleased to accede to the request made to him that, on account of your positive and generous work for the growth and development of CatholicCare and, as a testimony of his goodwill, designates you, Kathleen Vera McCormack, Diocese of Wollongong, to be declared a Dame of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great, granting you the right to all the privileges that accompany this dignity.”

The Order of St. Gregory the Great is a special honor bestowed upon Catholic men and women in recognition to their outstanding service to the Holy See and to the Catholic Church through their extensive work, support, and setting exemplary ideals in their communities and countries. It was established in 1831 by Gregory XVI.

As director of CatholicCare, McCormack was engaged in establishing many community-based organizations and committees, and worked extensively in family services, child protection, out-of-home care, and sexual abuse cases.

She also worked with Ageing and Disability Services and involved in successful lobbying campaigns to the governments of Australia and New South Wales, and played an integral role in the development and ongoing work of Catholic Social Services Australia.

Under her leadership, CatholicCare has grown to employ 194 persons as well as utilize more than 100 volunteers.

On Australia Day 2007, Kathleen was also named the recipient of the “Member of the Order of Australia,” in recognition of her outstanding service to the community of the Illawarra region through the development and implementation of social welfare services.

“Kathleen's ministry at CatholicCare will always be highly valued by the Diocese of Wollongong,” the diocese noted in a statement.

“She has made a difference to the lives of countless people and has gone about her important ministry with grace and dedication, not seeking recognition or fanfare, but focused only on the dignity of the people whom she served.”

“Her commitment, competence and contribution will be sorely missed.”

McCormack will be succeeded as director of Wollongong's CatholicCare by Michael Austin, who previously worked with CatholicCare Sydney.

The Diocese of Wollongong is located in the Australian state of New South Wales, where it covers more than 2,300 square miles. It serves 185,000 Catholics among a total population of 646,000.

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Human life sacred and inviolable, Pope Francis affirms

Vatican City, Apr 12, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - At a meeting with Italy’s Pro-Life Movement, Pope Francis thanked members for their work to defend the right to life and promote the dignity of all human beings, from conception to natural death.

“Human life is sacred and inviolable. Every civil law is based on the recognition of the first and fundamental right, that of life, which is not subordinate to any condition, neither qualitative nor economic, much less ideological,” the Roman Pontiff said March 11.

“Thank you for your witness of promoting and defending human life from the moment of conception!”

The Holy Father’s words came in a meeting with Movimento per la Vita, an association of more than 600 local Italian movements. He greeted in particular the movement’s president, Carlo Casini, who is also a member of the European Parliament, where he represents the Union of Christian and Centre Democrats party.

Pope Francis thanked the organization particularly for two of its initiatives. The first is the Gemma Project, which “through a particular form of practical solidarity” – the adoption of children while still in the womb – has made possible “the birth of many babies who would otherwise have not seen the light.”

The second is “One of Us,” a European Union citizens’ initiative to ban the funding of policies that destroy human embryos.

Pope Francis emphasized the importance of opposing an “economy of exclusion,” saying “the divorce between economics and morality” is “one of the most grave risks facing our age.”

This divorce, he explained, leads to “a market which gives us every technological innovation” but renders the “elementary ethical norms of human nature … always more neglected.”

“It is therefore necessary to reiterate the strongest opposition to any direct attack on life, especially innocent and defenseless life, and the unborn child in the womb is the archetype (antonomasia) of innocence.”

He quoted Vatican II's pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world, “Gaudium et spes,” which said that “from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes.”

“This is always part of a Christian’s competence in bearing witness to the gospel: to protect life with courage and love in all its phases.”

“I encourage you to act always with a style of nearness, of closeness: that every woman feels regarded as a person, who is heard, accepted, accompanied,” he said.

Pope Francis concluded by entrusting the movement’s members to the intercession of Mary and giving them his blessing.

“Remember to pray also for me!” he said.

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Medical care must consider whole person, Pope urges surgeons

Vatican City, Apr 12, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - In his audience with surgeons who treat cancer patients, Pope Francis encouraged the physicians to view the person as an integral whole of body and soul.

On April 12, the Holy Father spoke of the need for “comprehensive care that considers the whole person and unites also human, psychological and social support, spiritual accompaniment, and support for the family of the sick person to medical care.”

His audience in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace with participants in a conference of the Society of Italian Oncology Surgeons focused on the importance of integral care.

While “scientific research has multiplied the possibilities of prevention and healing,” it is important to speak of “full health” which includes a vision of the “human person, created in the image of God, and who is unity of body and spirit,” explained the pontiff.

He went on to note that “these two elements cannot be separated, because the person is one.”

When a man or woman undergoes suffering, it “not only affects the bodily dimension” of the person, but the person “in his totality,” and therefore he or she must receive care in an integrated manner.

Doctors commit to a “high value” in searching for cures, “in order to respond to the expectations and hopes of many patients around the world,” the Pope acknowledged.

Yet it is a “fraternal sharing with the sick” that “opens us to the true beauty of human life, which includes even its fragility, so that we can recognize the dignity and worth of every human being, in whatever condition he is found, from conception to death.”

Moreover, as the Church begins to celebrate Holy Week, the recollection of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ reminds us that “the suffering of humanity is taken up all the way and redeemed by God. By God-Love,” said the pontiff.

He then referenced the famous Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “anguished query,” that is, “why do children suffer?”

“Only Christ can give meaning to this ‘scandal,’” the Holy Father insisted. “Only Christ gives meaning to the scandal of innocent suffering.”

“You too can look to Him, crucified and resurrected, in your daily work.”

Pope Francis had begun his brief address by welcoming the surgeons and praying for the men and women under their care. He concluded by asking that Mary help sustain the doctors in “their work of research and action.”

“At the feet of Jesus’s Cross we also meet Our Lady of Sorrows. She is the Mother of all humanity, and she is always close to her sick and suffering children. If our faith wavers, hers does not,” he explained. “I pray the Lord to bless you all.”

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Archbishop urges prayer, action against Colo. abortion bill

Denver, Colo., Apr 12, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila is asking the people of Colorado to spend 10 minutes in prayer and take concrete action over the weekend to support the sanctity of human life in the face of a serious legislative threat.

In an open letter dated April 11, the Denver archbishop explained that Senate Bill 175, touted as the “Reproductive Health Freedom Act,” is being debated in the Colorado Senate next week.

“This over-reaching piece of legislation would essentially shut down any attempt to pass life-affirming legislation in Colorado ever again,” the archbishop warned. “More than that, it enshrines the ‘right to abortion’ into Colorado law.”

“It’s being praised by anti-life organizations such as NARAL and ThinkProgress as ‘the first of its kind’ in the country and ‘ambitious.’ It enshrines the culture of death into law and ignores science.”

Archbishop Aquila went on to explain that the “very troubling bill” would prevent new “common sense regulations” on abortion, such as waiting periods, restrictions on abortion pills for children and parental notification policies.

It would also undermine freedom of conscience in promoting the right to life and would prevent ultrasound requirements, which have had a significant impact on keeping mothers informed about the development of their children and saving the lives of unborn babies, he said.

“Advocates of this bill seek the absolute ‘right to abortion’ for girls as young as 10 or 11 without a parent’s knowledge, guidance or advice,” the archbishop noted. “Parents are seen as unfit in the moral guidance of their children.”

It would also eliminate abortion clinic health code regulations, he said, calling to mind the gruesome images of dead women and babies that came out of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell’s unregulated clinic last year.

“This bill is not good for the women and girls of Colorado!” Archbishop Aquila underscored.

Pointing to the words of Pope Francis in support of human dignity and life on April 11, he asked “every person of good will” in Colorado to spend 10 minutes praying over the weekend about the proposed legislation.

“Plead to Our Lord for His intercession on behalf of life in Colorado,” he requested.

“Also, pray for our politicians on both sides of this issue, particularly for those who work tirelessly and often without recognition to promote life-affirming legislation in our State Capitol. Pray for the conversion of the heart and mind of those who support such irrational, unscientific, and a denial of conscience legislation.”

In addition to praying, the archbishop requested that the people of Colorado take concrete action during the weekend.

He encouraged people to contact their senators, saying, “It would be a beautiful testimony on the part of the people of Colorado who support life if each senator in Colorado would wake up on Monday morning with hundreds of emails asking them to oppose SB175.”

Furthermore, he urged the people of the state to educate themselves about the bill by contacting the Colorado Catholic Conference and to call local media outlets – including newspaper, television and radio – to ask that they cover the bill in order to allow for an open public debate.

“If you have a blog, or are active on Facebook, Twitter or one of the other social networks, spread the word!” he added. “Invite others who may not have received this letter to pray and act!”

Recalling the words of Vatican II, which said that the laity are called to sanctify society, Archbishop Aquila encouraged Coloradans to be “people of hope,” resisting the temptation to lose faith or grow discouraged.

“No action taken in defense of life is meaningless, particularly if it comes from a place of prayer and the Gospel,” he said.

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British woman appointed by Pope to head Pontifical Academy

Vatican City, Apr 12, 2014 (CNA) - Pope Francis has appointed Lady Margaret Scotford Archer as president of a group of scholars dedicated to studying issues in the social sciences in order to offer reflection and advice to the leadership of the Church.

According to an April 12 press release from the Holy See, “the Holy Father has named the most illustrious Professor Lady Margaret Scotford Archer President of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.”

The new president was born in Grenoside, U.K., and holds a Ph.D. from the University of London. She is currently a professor at l'Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland. Previously she taught for many years at the University of Warwick in Great Britain.

In her biographical page on the website of the Pontifical Academy, Lady Archer describes her research in the “area of philosophy and social science” as concerned with “how to theorise the interplay between society, culture, structure and its human agents and to explain how their interaction leads to an elaboration of all three elements.”

The social scientist has published numerous articles and books exploring various aspects of sociology, including a study of how “human reflexivity serves to mediate between our personal concerns and our structural conditioning.”

She is a leading theorist in the critical realist tradition and was a founding member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences when it was established by Pope John Paul II in 1994.

This group of 20-40 scholars meets at least twice a year to study and reflect on various issues within the social, economic, political, and juridical sciences and their relevance to Catholic social teaching. Topics include human rights, religious freedom, and globalization.

The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences “organizes conferences and workshops on specific themes, promotes scientific surveys and research, helps institutions and private individuals to execute them, publishes the results of its own consultations and issues publications of a scientific nature,” explains the group’s website.

Lady Archer was also the first woman to be president of the International Sociological Association from 1986-1990, and belongs to the U.K.’s National Academy of Academics, Learned Societies and Practitioners in the Social Sciences.

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