Archive of July 15, 2014

Thai bishop sows seeds of evangelization in mission diocese

Chiang Mai, Thailand, Jul 15, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The bishop of Thailand's northernmost diocese, which is largely rural and dominated by hill tribes, has begun himself working in the fields alongside his flock, noting the importance of agriculture there.

“I try to understand the farmers, and to promote Catholic social teaching so that they can contribute to a holistic human development, can work for the common good of their family and for the entire nation,” Bishop Francis Xavier Vira Arpondratana of Chiang Mai told CNA July 10.

The diocesan economy is largely agricultural, and the mountainous region lacks many amenities such as electricity and modern communications and highway infrastructure.

Relating how he began to work in the rice fields with his tribal flock, he said that “in fact, I did not want to work in the field, but I would like to support them; and one of the local nuns encouraged me, asking, 'bishop why don’t you work with us?'”

And so Bishop Arpondratana took to the rice paddies with gusto.

“When someone asks, I would like to open my heart and mind and be with them,” he explained.

His work with farmers has inspired both them and catechists in the Chiang Mai diocese. He has organized a Lenten rice campaign in the diocese centered on prayer, penance, and alms giving.

The bishop is concerned for the local people, and is helping develop a strong sense of solidarity among the local ethnic groups: “I am aware of the economic situation of Europe, so we cannot ask help from there. We have to make the local people understand they must help each other locally, and not only receive help from afar.”

Bishop Arpondratana,58, was ordained a priest of the Bangkok archdiocese, 430 miles south of Chiang Mai, in 1981, and served there until his appointment as bishop in 2009.

“I like to be with my people to understand them, even though it took time to learn the language; but understanding their current situations and just to be with them” is important, he emphasized. “I have committed to doing my best with the more than six  tribal ethnicities.”

The six largest hill tribes, all of whom live within the Chiang Mai diocese, are the Akha, Lahu, Mien, Karen, Hmong, and Lisu; each have their own language, customs, and traditions.

“One of my prime challenges is that we have no priests to speak in Akha,” Bishop Arpondratana said, “and so on feast days during my homily, native lay catechists translate it into two or three local languages such as Akha and Lahu.”

“This is the biggest challenge to my pastoral role in the diocese.”

Nearly all – 95 percent, in fact – of the 61,000 Catholics in the diocese are from the hill tribes, the bishop explained. These form a little more than one percent of the total population of the Chiang Mai diocese.

The local Catholics are joined by more than 1,000 catechumens, most of whom also are from the hill tribes.

“The catechumens are waiting for religious education and catechesis, but we lack priests who can speak the local languages,” the bishop reiterated.

The largest groups among the Catholics are the Karen people, at 55 percent, and the Akha, at 20 percent.

Catechists in the diocese are charged with bridging gaps among the tribes, and connecting faith formation, liturgy, and education in life skills.

“I have to empower the catechists, and have also to encourage the local religious,” Bishop Arpondratana said, explaining that his catechists undergo theological preparation at the National Catechetical Center in Sam Phran and Bangkok.

During his 28 years as a priest in Bangkok, Bishop Arpondratana led the Thai catechetical commission; during that time he saw that most catechists in central and eastern Thailand work part time in schools, in addition to their duties as catechists.

On the contrary, he said, in the Chiang Mai diocese most catechists in the city are women, while most in the villages are men who are given full time to their apostolate.

“So the role of the lay people as catechists is indispensable, as they dedicate their apostolate in the mountain villages to the tribes.”

The 61,000 Catholics were served in 2006 by only 72 priests, most of whom were religious. The diocese had 32 parishes, though Bishop Arpondratana explained that there are more than 470 total chapels throughout the nearly 35,000 square miles of the Diocese of Chiang Mai.

“We are a missionary land, and we walk miles in long journeys, even though we have missionaries in Thailand, and especially in Chiang Mai.”

Bishop Arpondratana has made a priority of travelling his diocese to visit his flock.

“I have spoken with my predecessor, Bishop Joseph Sangval Surasarang, who said that in his 22 years as Bishop of Chiang Mai, some chapels he visited only once or twice.”

“I made up my mind, realizing that they would be glad their bishop visits them.”

He is committed to throwing himself into shepherding of the diocese, knowing that the harvest is plenty, but laborers few.

“I feel that we have to still achieve our mission, for we have not yet reached a level such that we can confidently stand on our own,” he reflected.

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Berlin cardinal transferred to Germany's largest archdiocese

Cologne, Germany, Jul 15, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki has been appointed Archbishop of Cologne, the Vatican announced July 11.

The Cologne archdiocese has some 2 million faithful, the largest number of Catholics in any German diocese. Its territory covers a significant part of the industrial Ruhr region and includes the cities of Cologne, Düsseldorf, and Bonn.
Cardinal Woelki replaces Cardinal Joachim Meisner, who resigned Feb. 28 upon reaching the canonical age limit for bishops, 75.
The choice of Cardinal Woelki as successor of Cardinal Meisner is a choice of continuity.
Cardinal Woelki was born in Cologne in 1956. He became personal secretary to Cardinal Meisner in 1990. With the support of Cardinal Meisner, Cardinal Woelki was appointed auxiliary bishop of Cologne in 2003.
In 2011, the prelate was appointed Archbishop of Berlin. His path was similar to his mentor Cardinal Meisner, who had headed the Berlin diocese before becoming Archbishop of Cologne in 1988.
The Archbishop of Cologne is elected through a rather unique method.
Cologne is one of 13 German dioceses where a chapter of diocesan representatives is part of the process which selects new bishops.
The diocesan chapter first creates a list of possible candidates and forwards this list to Rome through the apostolic nuncio. The Holy See considers this list and returns a list of three names. The chapter is then tasked with choosing the new archbishop from this list.
The 1988 process that led to the selection of Cardinal Meisner took 14 months, since none of the three candidates on the Holy See’s list won more than half of the chapter’s votes. The selection process has been reformed recently in order to streamline the process and to better adapt to the contemporary life of the Church.

Cardinal Woelki was in any case a likely pick from the chapter of Cologne, despite the media frenzy pushing for a more 'liberal' candidate for the Cologne archdiocese.
When he was appointed Archbishop of Berlin in 2011, Cardinal Woelki faced difficult times. Berlin’s gay community and liberal media reacted to his appointment with dismay, describing him as “backwards minded” and saying he was the wrong man for the job.

Cardinal Woelki reacted to the accusations of homophobia, stressing that he is simply a Catholic. He said, “the Church is not a moral institution that goes around pointing its finger at people. The Church is for me a community of seekers and believers and the Church aims at helping people to find happiness in life.”
In the course of the years, Cardinal Woelki increased his popularity among Berliners.

A video by the broadcaster DeutscheWelle portrayed him as a humble archbishop who makes his own breakfast and does his own laundry, not forgetting his origins. The video depicted him as someone who places a priority on meeting with the people of his diocese.
From this point of view, he might be considered the German version of Pope Francis.

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Knights of Columbus pledge $1.4 million for Special Olympics

Los Angeles, Calif., Jul 15, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Knights of Columbus have pledged $1.4 million for next year’s Special Olympics World Games, helping to cover participating athletes’ expenses for the Los Angeles event.

“Our support exemplifies our commitment to the dignity of every person, our dedication to assisting with our neighbors’ needs whatever they may be, and our deep appreciation for the great work done by Special Olympics,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said in Los Angeles July 14.

The Special Olympics World Games will bring together over 7,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities from 171 countries. It will feature 21 Olympic-type sports.

The pledged funds will support food, transportation and entertainment costs for every athlete from the U.S. and Canada. Anderson has asked Knights of Columbus leaders in each U.S. state and Canadian province to help increase volunteer activity on behalf of the Special Olympics.

The pledge announcement came at a news conference at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Other speakers included Special Olympics CEO and president Patrick McClenahan and Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez.

Archbishop Gomez said that Los Angeles Catholics are “happy and proud” to welcome the event.

“The Special Olympics is a celebration of human dignity and a beautiful sign that our world is truly one family drawn from peoples of every race and language,” he said. “We look forward to working with the Knights of Columbus, and we pray that this competition will promote solidarity and make all of us more aware of our common humanity.”

McClenahan said that the Knights of Columbus have shown “long and generous support” for the event.

“We hope their donation inspires other organizations to be a part of what will no doubt be a life-changing experience for all involved in the 2015 Special Olympic World Games.”

Anderson said that the Knights of Columbus have been involved with the Special Olympics “from the very beginning.” The games were founded in the late 1960s by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, a sister of President John F. Kennedy.

“Sargent Shriver, Eunice’s husband, was a friend and a proud member of the Knights of Columbus, and like him, we are here today to continue those efforts on behalf of people with intellectual disabilities,” Anderson said.

The Special Olympics’ World Games honored the Knights of Columbus on Monday by naming the organization a founding champion.

A Catholic organization dedicated to fraternity and charity, the Knights of Columbus have more than 1.8 million members worldwide.

Local councils donated more than $3.5 million to Special Olympics in 2013. Individual members worked more than 250,000 service hours at almost 20,000 Special Olympic events.

In addition, individual councils in 2013 donated another $13.5 million to other projects that help the intellectually disabled.

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Bishop: Hobby Lobby case shows need to fight secularism

Lincoln, Neb., Jul 15, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Despite the recent Hobby Lobby court victory, Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, Neb. stressed the need for Catholics to continue to evangelize and fight against the prevailing culture of secularism.

“The victory is not unqualified and the fight for our religious liberty is not complete. Churches, hospitals, and universities are still threatened by the HHS contraceptive mandate,” Bishop Conley said in his July 11 archdiocesan column.

On June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Hobby Lobby and similar employers cannot be forced to comply with the federal contraception mandate against their religious beliefs.

Craft giant Hobby Lobby and its owners, the Green family, had challenged a federal mandate issued under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which requires employers to offer health insurance covering contraception, sterilization and some drugs that can cause early abortions.

The Greens said that mandate would require them to violate their deeply-held Christian beliefs against facilitating abortion.

In his column, Bishop Conley said the repercussions of the Hobby Lobby decision have indeed established that “believers have a place in the public square – that all of us should be free to conduct our business without compromising our basic moral beliefs.”

However, the Supreme Court decision also relayed the overwhelming assertions of secularists, “whose loyalties lie more closely with unfettered sexual libertinism than with respect for fundamental rights of conscience, of religion, or of personal dignity,” the bishop said.

Although the fight for religious freedom in litigation is important, Bishop Conley suggested that the root issue is secularism.

“Religious liberty will be threatened in our nation as long as secularism is the prevailing cultural leitmotif.”

“The Hobby Lobby decision has exposed the secular tendency towards atheocracy – the systematic hostility and marginalization of religious believers who engage in American public life, a kind of practical atheism established as the norm.”

Social cohesion has become a higher priority than religious freedom, due to the hostility towards faith in the public arena, the bishop reflected.

In his apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium,” Pope Francis suggests an alternative to a secularist culture by emphasizing the importance of a society marked by faith.

“An evangelized popular culture contains values of faith and solidarity capable of encouraging the development of a more just and believing society, and possesses a particular wisdom which ought to be gratefully acknowledged,” Pope Francis observed.

The Holy Father went on to say that “justice is the fruit of faith,” and that “an evangelized culture will be a just culture.”

With the rise of religious persecution all over the world, the evangelization of culture is an unprecedented priority.

Although religious liberty is not an end in itself, Bishop Conley stressed that it “is the freedom for something real – the freedom to make disciples of all nations – to spread the Gospel, and its fruits, joyfully.”

“If we want to protect our religious liberty,” Bishop Conley went on to say, “the very best thing we can do is to use it – to transform culture by transforming hearts for Jesus Christ.”

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Pope denounces 'racist, xenophobic' attitudes toward immigrants

Vatican City, Jul 15, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - In his message for the Mexico-Holy See Colloquium on Migration and Development Pope Francis called for a change in the way migrants are viewed, giving particular emphasis to unaccompanied children.

“Many people forced to emigrate suffer, and often, die tragically; many of their rights are violated, they are obliged to separate from their families and, unfortunately, continue to be the subject of racist and xenophobic attitudes,” the Roman Pontiff stated in the July 15 message.

The Pope’s letter was read aloud during the July 14-15 colloquium by the Holy See’s Apostolic Nuncio to Mexico, Christophe Pierre. Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin was also present.

Pope Francis drew attention specifically to the “tens of thousands” of children who migrate alone, particularly from Central America and Mexico to cross the border of the United States in order to escape poverty and violence.

Their pursuit of hope “in most cases turns out to be vain,” the Pope lamented, explaining that the number of unaccompanied child migrants is “increasing day by day.”

“This humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected.”

However, these protective measures will not be enough, he said, “unless they are accompanied by policies that inform people about the dangers of such a journey and, above all, that promote development in their countries of origin.”

Addressing the topic of globalization, the Bishop of Rome observed that although there are many things to be gained from it, the issue presents various challenges, particularly that of immigration, which he referred to as “one of the ‘signs’ of this time.”

“Despite the large influx of migrants present in all continents and in almost all countries, migration is still seen as an emergency, or as a circumstantial and sporadic fact, while instead it has now become a hallmark of our society and a challenge.”

Emigration “is a phenomenon that carries with it great promise and many challenges,” he noted, drawing attention to how migrants suffer and even die on their journey, while others are separated from their families or become the subject of racism.

“Faced with this situation,” the pontiff continued, “I repeat what I have affirmed in this year’s Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees: ‘A change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone.’”

Pope Francis called the faithful to move “away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization – all typical of a throwaway culture,” and instead foster “attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world.”

He called on the entire international community to give greater attention to the issue, so that “new forms of legal and secure migration may be adopted.”

U.S. authorities have taken custody of some 57,000 unaccompanied minors since October, which is twice the number from the same time last year. Mexican officials have also picked up 8,000 child migrants in the first five months of the year alone, more than half of whom were traveling alone.

According to Vatican Radio, Cardinal Pietro Parolin addressed the colloquium participants, stating, “Whether they are traveling because of poverty, or violence, or with the hope of reuniting with relatives on the other side of the border, it is urgent to protect them and help them because their vulnerability is greater and they are defenseless against any abuse or misfortune.”

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Women religious attacked in Bangladesh

Dinajpur, Bangladesh, Jul 15, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Last week dozens of armed men broke into a convent in northern Bangladesh, beating a group of nuns at a small mission.

“The attack was massive and lasted about an hour and a half. The attackers brutally beat the nuns … the convent was seriously devastated,” Bishop Sebastian Tudu of Dinajpur told the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, of the attack which took place at the Boldi Pukur mission in the early hours of July 7.

“Only when the police arrived did the attackers leave the mission,” he reported.

The Boldi Pukur mission is located nearly 50 miles east of Dinajpur; its rectory, convent, and hospital were all objects of the attack carried out by between 50 and 60 men.

While Christians have before been attacked in the Muslim-majority nation, this is the first time that nuns have been targeted in particular.

“It's unprecedented because nuns are highly respected in Bangladesh,” Bishop Tudu said.

The nuns are now in Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital, for medical treatment, the bishop said. He added that the rectory's door was broken down, and the mission's pastor was robbed and threatened.

“The attack is obviously a targeted and planned attempt at intimidation. Nuns and priests are being attacked because they stand up for the disadvantaged and minorities,” stated Bishop Tudu.

“The most recent attack is clearly a targeted response to Catholics' commitment to the country's poorest people.”

Christians constitute less than one percent of the Bangladesh's population, as do Buddhists. The population is 90 percent Muslim, and 8 percent Hindu.

According to Aid to the Church in Need, the attackers sought deeds to land, seeking to steal it from poor and uneducated parishioners. A similar attack occurred in 2011 at a town in southeastern Bangladesh which was home to Christians, Hindus, and Buddhists.

“The police are now investigating the case. They have promised to clear it up,” the bishop reported.

He added that his diocese has seen several attacks on Christian villages in the past year.

“A seminary and the seminarians were also attacked. It was always said that the reasons for the attacks had to do with disputes over land and property.”

Bishop Tudu lamented that the 45 priests and more than 100 women religious serving in his diocese are now living in fear of similar attacks.

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Pope says economy must fight 'throwaway culture'

Rome, Italy, Jul 15, 2014 (CNA) - Pope Francis had lunch with participants in an international economics seminar on Saturday, saying their efforts to bring the human being to the very center of the economy avoids a “throwaway culture.”
The Pope addressed reductionist views of mankind, saying that “this is the strongest time of anthropological reductionism.”
“It happens to man what happens to wine when it is transformed into brandy: it passes through an organizational still. It is not wine anymore. It is another thing. Perhaps more useful, more qualified… but it is not wine!” the Pope said July 12.
He continued: “it is the same for man: man passes through this still and he ends up – seriously speaking! – losing his humanity. He becomes a tool of the system… the social system, the economic system… a system where imbalances dominate!”
Pope Francis stressed that when man “loses his humanity,” it results in “a throwaway attitude.”

“What is not needed, it is thrown away, since man is not at the center (of things).” When something else is at this center, “man is at this other thing’s service,” the Pope warned.

His words came during the international seminar, “The Global Common Good: Towards a more inclusive economy,” held at the Vatican July 11-12.
The seminar was organized by the Second Section of the State Secretariat, which deals with international and diplomatic matters, as well as by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
The seminar took motivation from a working research paper drafted by the economists Luigino Bruni, Stefano Zamagni, André Habish and Leonardo Becchetti. The paper focused on three main reductionisms of the global economy: that which see the human person as an economic agent driven primarily by self-interest and egoism; that which sees the subjects of economic activity, both private and public enterprise, as always oriented toward the production of goods and the maximization of profits; and that which considers “value” merely as a flow of goods and services.

The Pope praised the seminar for its studies and reflections, as well as its refusal to let the human person be “thrown away.”
“Children are thrown away, because the birth rate, at least here in Europe, is very well known; old people are thrown away, because they are not useful. And now a whole generation of young people is being thrown away, and this is very grave,” the pontiff said.
He mentioned that there are 75 million unemployed young people under 25 years old. He described their generation as the “neither-nor” generation, since “they neither study, since they have no opportunity to do it; nor do they work, because there is no job for them.”
“This is another waste. What else will be thrown away? Let’s stop in time, please!”

During the two days of seminars, representatives of multinational companies, banks, and civil society met to push a new inclusive economic moment. The final statements of the seminar will be published soon.

One seminar participant told CNA July 14 that the event emphasized the goal of pushing the G-20 global economy group toward a reform of the banking system and to introduce an international tax on transnational financial transfers. It aimed to find new ways to fight unemployment, especially youth unemployment, while also working to promote ambitious and inclusive goals for sustainable development.
Many of the participants stressed the need to fight so-called “tax havens.”
Representatives of countries who are not part of the G-20 advocated a more inclusive body for world economic governance.
That goal was echoed by Bishop Mario Toso, the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

His opening remarks stressed the need for a “polyarchic,” governing of society with “a broad long term horizon, guided and harmonized by public institutions and inspired by those fundamental values in order to overcome social and anthropological reductionism.”
Among the seminars’ most active speakers were: Muhammad Yunus, 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and founder of the Grameen Bank; the Bank of England’s governor Mark Carney; the former general director of World Trade Organization Pascal Lamy; University of Cambridge economics professor Partha Dasgupta; Winnie Byaniyma, executive director of Oxfam international; Huguette Labelle, chair of the board of Transparency International; Indian activist Vandana Shiva; and José Angel Gurria, general secretary of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Another active participant was Juan Grabois, an Argentine lawyer who worked with the leaders of the “cartoneros” waste pickers movement in Buenos Aires to obtain legal recognition for them. Grabois had Pope Francis’ support when the Pope was still Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

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Senate bill would strip conscience protections, bishops warn

Washington D.C., Jul 15, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Leaders of the U.S. bishops have issued a strong rebuke of a Senate bill that would deny conscience rights to employers in the field of health coverage.

“We are writing to state our strong opposition to the misnamed ‘Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act of 2014’ (S. 2578),” wrote Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore and Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston in a letter to all U.S. senators on Monday.

Archbishop Lori is the chairman of the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, and Cardinal O’Malley is the chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

“In short, the bill does not befit a nation committed to religious liberty. Indeed, if it were to pass, it would call that commitment into question,” the bishops wrote.

The proposed legislation would force employers with group health plans to cover any “specific health care item” mandated by federal law or regulations despite religious liberty protections.

It was introduced after the Supreme Court ruled on June 30 that federal religious freedom laws protect the owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods Services from being forced to comply with parts of the federal contraception mandate against their religious beliefs.

The two closely-held businesses, run by Protestant and Mennonite owners respectively, objected to aspects of the mandate, which requires employers to offer health insurance covering contraception, sterilization and some drugs that can cause early abortions.

Cardinal O’Malley and Archbishop Lori warned that the proposed bill could seriously harm religious freedom, both that of for-profit companies like Hobby Lobby, and non-profit religious groups, such as the Little Sisters of the Poor.
More than 50 non-profits have filed lawsuits against the mandate, arguing that an “accommodation” for non-profit religious freedom granted by the government still forces them to violate their conscience.

“The bill expressly leaves in place only the HHS mandate’s own insufficiently narrow exemption for ‘houses of worship’ and its contested ‘accommodation’ for religious nonprofit organizations,” the bishops wrote.

Furthermore, the bill could grant the executive branch power to do away with such “exemptions” and “accommodations” altogether, they said.

“The bill allows modifications to the mandate and its exemption and ‘accommodation,’ but only those ‘consistent with the purpose and findings of this Act.’ That is, the executive branch would appear to be free to reduce or eliminate the exemption or ‘accommodation,’ but forbidden to expand the exemption or otherwise make changes that might reduce the scope of mandated coverage.”

Cardinal O’Malley and Archbishop Lori also pointed out that the bill could trump “longstanding conscience clauses on abortion, such as the Hyde-Weldon amendment.” Additionally, if health coverage mandates were expanded in the future to include coverage of the abortion pill RU-486 or late-term abortions, employers would have no recourse to exemptions for conscience.

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Bishop calls for united prayer to stop UK euthanasia bill

Portsmouth, England, Jul 15, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Warning that a proposed euthanasia bill for parts of the U.K. would mark the “catastrophic collapse” of respect for life, Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth, England, is urging a day of united prayer against it.

Bishop Egan asked Catholics to pray a Holy Hour of Eucharistic Adoration on Thursday, July 17, the day before the bill’s second reading in the House of Lords.

“(P)lease pray that Parliament will firmly reject this bill,” the bishop said July 14.

The proposed bill would change the law in England and Wales, which presently punish assisted suicide by up to 14 years in prison. Introduced by Lord Falconer, a peer with the Labour Party, the legislation would allow doctors to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to seriously ill patients who request them and who are believed to have less than six months to live.

Bishop Egan said that legalizing assisted suicide would mean the “catastrophic collapse of respect for the infinite value of each human life and every human person, no matter how weak, vulnerable and ‘useless’.”

He encouraged the Catholic faithful to write the peers of the House of Lords to oppose the bill. He also asked for prayers for the terminally ill and for “the generous and selfless doctors, nurses and medical staff who care for them.”

The bishop said that suicide is “a grave offense against God” because “we are the stewards, not the owners, of the life that God has entrusted to us.”

“Our life is not ours to dispose of.”

Bishop Egan encouraged Catholics to pray for those who are dying today and for relatives who are caring for dying loved ones.

“And pray for our country, that through the intercession of the Blessed Mother, there may be a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit.”

Other opponents of the bill include Theo Boer, a professor at The Netherlands’ University of Utrecht who has monitored euthanasia deaths as part of a review committee in his home country since 2005.

He told Members of Parliament that he was “wrong – terribly wrong” to believe that regulated euthanasia would work, the British newspaper The Daily Mail reports.

“Cases have been reported in which a large part of the suffering of those given euthanasia or assisted suicide consisted in being aged, lonely or bereaved,” he said.

“Some of these patients could have lived for years or decades. Pressure on doctors to conform to patients’ – or in some cases relatives’ – wishes can be intense.”

He said review committees had not been able to stop these developments.

Boer voiced concern that euthanasia eligibility under Dutch law had been extended to the demented and the depressed. He also warned that some euthanasia advocates aim to make lethal pills available to anyone over 70 who wishes to die.

The Catholic bishops of England and Wales said that suicide should not be encouraged or assisted. The bill, they said, would reinforce pressures on the vulnerable to kill themselves and would remove the present law’s deterrent effects.

In a June 25 briefing, the bishops cited Pope Francis’ words to Catholics in Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales: “Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.”

The bishops endorsed “high quality care for the dying,” rather than assisted suicide.

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Suit claims Colo. Planned Parenthood ignored sex abuse

Denver, Colo., Jul 15, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - A lawsuit charges that a Colorado Planned Parenthood affiliate failed to recognize and report the sexual abuse of a 13-year-old girl by her stepfather when its staff performed an abortion on her and put her on birth control at the stepfather’s request.

The pro-life group Operation Rescue made the legal complaint public last week.

Operation Rescue president Troy Newman praised the girl’s mother, who filed the suit, citing “her brave stand to hold Planned Parenthood accountable for their crime against her daughter.”

Newman said July 11 that the legal complaint shows that Planned Parenthood is dedicated to “selling abortion.”

The lawsuit charges that Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains and four staffers showed “multiple failures” to ask how the minor became pregnant or to ask what her relationship was to her stepfather, who brought her for an abortion at a Denver abortion clinic.

The lawsuit was filed in June in Denver District Court on behalf of the girl, known as “R.Z.”, and the girl’s mother, who both live in the Denver suburb of Federal Heights.

The lawsuit says Planned Parenthood ignored “numerous indications” that the teen had been sexually abused.

According to the lawsuit, the girl had been sexually abused by her stepfather for about seven years. The stepfather verbally and physically abused the girl and her mother. He took the girl for an abortion in May 2012 after giving her a pregnancy test.

The suit alleges that Planned Parenthood staffers knew the pregnant teen girl’s age and that she had a different last name than her stepfather.

It also alleges that staffers did not contact the girl’s mother or law enforcement or child services, even though suspected sexual abuse of a child must be reported under state law.

The Planned Parenthood clinic allegedly administered “a long-term and undetectable form of birth control to the girl despite her fear of needles, all of which enabled the man to continue his years of sexual abuse of the girl without discovery or consequence.”

The suit said that the abortion clinic also failed to comply with state requirements that required it to send written notice of the abortion to the girl’s parents.

The girl told her mother about the sexual abuse in July 2012. The mother took the girl to the hospital, where she learned her daughter was on birth control. She later learned her daughter had been taken for an abortion.

The stepfather pleaded guilty to two felony counts of sexual abuse in late 2012, the Washington Times reports.

Marie Logsden, vice president of communications at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, declined to comment on the case, citing privacy laws and the organization’s “long-standing commitment to quality and confidentiality.”

She said Planned Parenthood staff comply with all state and federal laws and receive extensive and regular training, the Washington Times says.

In other states, pro-life investigative reporting groups such as Live Action have filmed undercover video at Planned Parenthood clinics showing that some staffers do not comply with various state reporting laws intended to protect minors who are seeking abortions.

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