Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pope reminds Christians to be watchful for Christ as Advent begins

Vatican City, Nov 30, 2008 / 12:39 pm (CNA).- Having returned from his pastoral visit to the Roman parish of St. Lawrence Outside-the-Walls, Pope Benedict XVI prayed the Sunday Angelus with 15,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square. In his words to the faithful, the Pope challenged them to be mindful of how the Lord comes into their lives and to make room for him.

Before the praying the Angelus, he noted the beginning, with the First Sunday of Advent, of a new liturgical year. "All of us say that 'we don't have time' because the rhythm of daily life has become, for us, frantic...God gives us his time. We have always little time; especially for the Lord we do not know or, sometimes, do not want to find. Well, God has time for us! This is the first thing that the beginning of the liturgical year makes us rediscover with always new marvel.”

Pope Benedict then explained that God gives us his time “because he entered into history with his word and his works of salvation to open it to the eternal, to make it become part of the history of the covenant. Time is already in itself a sign of God's love: a gift that like every other thing, man is in a position to value or, to spoil; to understand, or to neglect with obtuse superficiality."

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Reuters Sat Nov 29,10:28 AM ET
Enlarge photo...

A picture of Pope Benedict XVI is placed on a sledge of participants during the of the 'Clau Wau - Santa Claus World Championship' in the village of Samnaun in the eastern Swiss Alps November 29, 2008. Some 15 international teams are competing in events such as chimney climbing and donkey racing at the championship.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Placido Domingo presents album of songs drawn from JP II's poetry

Pope John Paul II / Placido Domingo

Vatican City, Nov 28, 2008 / 11:26 am (CNA).-

Described as the successful union of truth, goodness and beauty, Placido Domingo’s newest album is a tribute to Pope John Paul II that borrows its depth from the poetry of the late Pope. Mr. Domingo, Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi and record company representatives unveiled the new work at the Vatican today.

“Amore Infinito” or Infinite Love is, in a sense, a heartfelt dedication by Placido Domingo to a man who opened his eyes to a new worldview, a world the Jesus came into to show us the power of God’s infinite love.

Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, described his experience of listening to the new album:

"Listening to these songs, so magnificently interpreted by Placido Domingo and the London Symphony Orchestra, brings back the memory of John Paul II and of an entire life, frequently marked by dramatic episodes, lived with a passion for God and for man.

“What is the secret of this 'Wojtylian' poetic, which he translated into so many poetical texts?" asked the bishop. "For John Paul II everything begins with God's 'yes' to man, everything arises from God's plan of 'infinite love.' God's 'yes' to man means 'yes' to his dignity, to his authentic needs. It means 'yes' to the world ... and to everything that is beautiful, good and just in life."

Bishop Crepaldi concluded his remarks by noting that the texts of the songs "cover many subjects: family affections, work, war, homeland, etc, but all of them", he said, "are inspired by God's 'yes' to man, by the Infinite Love of God."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Pope condemns "brutal attacks" in Mumbai

International Herald Tribune

The Associated Press
Published: November 27, 2008

VATICAN CITY: Pope Benedict XVI is condemning the "brutal attacks" in Mumbai and calling for an end to all acts of terrorism.

A message of condolences released by the Vatican on Thursday says the pontiff is "deeply concerned about the outbreak of violence" in the Indian city. Benedict is expressing his "heartfelt condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives in these brutal attacks."

In a telegram to Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai, the pope says he "urgently appeals for an end to all acts of terrorism, which gravely offend the human family."

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANKSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; — for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; — for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; — and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; — to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

George Washington

Source: The Massachusetts Centinel, Wednesday, October 14, 1789

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

There is no contradiction between faith and works, Pope asserts

Vatican City, Nov 26, 2008 / 12:12 pm (CNA).- Pope Benedict continued his reflections on St. Paul today, urging the 9,000 people present to consider Paul's teaching on faith and works in the process of justification. Emphasizing that works do not justify a person, the Pope said that works necessarily flow from love for Christ.

In his catechesis on St. Paul’s teaching on justification, the Pontiff stated that man is unable to justify himself by his works, but becomes just before God only because God restores us to right relationship by uniting us with Christ.

He continued, "Man obtains this union with Christ by means of faith." This faith, if it is true and real, becomes love and expresses itself in charity; without charity faith would be dead.

Pope Benedict then noted that there has been confusion concerning the relevance of man's actions for salvation.

According to the Pope, the interpretive key can be found in St. Paul's Letter to the Galatians, which emphasizes the gratuitousness of justification apart from man's works and highlights the relationship between faith and charity and faith and works.

The fruit of the Holy Spirit "is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control," the Holy Father quoted, pointing out that at the beginning of Paul's list of virtues is love and at the conclusion self-control.

Referencing both Galatians and Corinthians, Benedict XVI taught that true faith in Christ is what justifies men, but also that that same faith, if it is genuine, “leads him to live no longer for himself, but for Christ; it makes man a new creation and a member of Christ's Body, the Church.”

"The centrality of justification without works, the main object of Paul's preaching, presents no contradiction to faith working through love; on the contrary it requires that our own faith be expressed in a life in accordance with the Spirit," Benedict XVI added.

Wednesday Audience: We Are Called to Live in Christ's Love for Others

26-November-2008 -- Vatican Information Service

VATICAN CITY, 26 NOV 2008 (VIS) - Continuing his series of catecheses on St. Paul, in this morning's general audience, held in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope spoke of the consequences deriving from justification by the faith and by the action of the Spirit in Christian life.

In his Letter to the Galatians, the Apostle of the Gentiles "gives radical emphasis to the gratuitousness of justification" and "highlights the relationship between faith and works", said the Pope.

In the same Letter, St, Paul says that "by bearing one another's burdens, believers fulfil the commandment of love. Justified by the gift of faith in Christ, we are called to live in Christ's love for others, because it is on this criterion that we will be judged at the end of our lives".

"Christ's love for us ... claims us, welcomes us, embraces us, sustains us; it even torments us because it forces us not to live for ourselves alone, closed in our own selfishness, by for 'Him Who died and has risen for us'. The love of Christ makes us become, in Him, the 'new creation' that is part of his mystical Body which is the Church.

"Seen in this light", the Holy Father added, "the central importance of justification without works, the main object of Paul's preaching, presents no contradiction to faith working through love, on the contrary it requires that our own faith be expressed in a life in accordance with the Spirit".

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bishop Hermann explains his willingness to die to end abortion

Bishop Robert Hermann

"Behind Planned Parenthood, behind the abortion issue, is the evil one..."

St. Louis, Nov 25, 2008 / 04:16 am (CNA).- At the recent fall assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Robert J. Hermann, the administrator for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, declared that for any bishop it would be a “privilege to die tomorrow to bring about an end to abortion.” He has further explained that Catholics' response to abortion in our country should be proportionate to the scale of the tragedy.

At the bishops’ meeting in Baltimore, Bishop Hermann had said:

"We have lost 50 times as many children in the last 35 years as we have lost soldiers in all the wars since the Revolution.

"I think any bishop here would consider it a privilege to die tomorrow to bring about an end to abortion.”

“If we are willing to die tomorrow, then we should be willing to, until the end of our lives, to take all kinds of criticism for opposing this horrible infanticide."

Speaking with the archdiocesan newspaper the St. Louis Review, the bishop commented:

“I think that the way abortion has been presented over the past 35 years so often is that this is something that’s horrible, and we need to stop it. But it seems to me that people do not realize that it is 50 million children that we have killed. We have campaigned to save the baby whales, and yet we vote in pro-abortion politicians — which doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.”

Bishop Hermann also described how bishops can look to the example of soldiers.

“If American youth are willing to go to war and lay their life down to defend our freedoms, then every bishop should be willing to give up his life, if it meant putting an end to abortion. And if we’re willing to do that, then we should be totally fearless of promoting this cause without being concerned about political correctness, without trying to build coalitions with pro-choice people,” the bishop said in an apparent reference to those Catholics who have recently begun to give up the fight to outlaw abortion.

He proposed an “awareness- raising campaign” to help people realize “the destruction that we’ve brought about” and “the atrocities that we’re committing.”

The Two Americas

Catholic Exchange

George Weigel, The Edge
November 25th, 2008 by George Weigel

By the dawn’s early light on Nov. 5, two distinct Americas hove into view. The two Americas are not defined by conventional economic, ethnic or religious categories; it’s not rich America vs. poor America, black America vs. white America, or Catholic America vs. Protestant America. No, what this year’s election cycle clarified decisively is that the great public fissure in these United States is between the culture of life and the culture of death.

In 1995, when Pope John Paul II introduced the phrase “culture of death” in the encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), more than a few commentators coughed politely and tried to suggest, if gently, that this terminology was a bit over-the-top — too dramatic, too confrontational, incapable of being heard by those it was intended to persuade. Thirteen years later, it is obvious that the critics were wrong and John Paul the Great was right. The Pope saw more clearly into the future, thanks to his insight into the forces at work beneath the surface of the present. Now those forces are plainly in view, and the results are clear for all with eyes to see:

The people of the United States have elected the most radically pro-abortion presidential candidate in American history, and by the largest popular vote percentage garnered by a Democrat since Lyndon B. Johnson.

The people of the State of Washington have adopted, in a landslide, an act permitting the euthanizing of the sick, elderly and burdensome under the Orwellian rubrics of “death with dignity” and “physician-assisted suicide.”

The people of California have exercised their sovereign will to prevent the parents of minors from being notified if their daughter intends to have an abortion — although you may be quite certain that said parents would be consulted before said minor’s school nurse administered an aspirin tablet.

And the people of Michigan have decided to authorize a wholesale slaughter of human embryos for research purposes — at precisely the moment that embryonic stem-cell research has lost much of its scientific luster, thanks to developments in the reprogramming of adult stem cells.

Culture of death, indeed.

What is to be done?

The first order of business at the national level is to prevent the new Congress from passing the federal Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), an explicit attempt to destroy every state-based pro-life legal achievement of the past three decades. If prevention is impossible and FOCA is enacted, then it must be vigorously challenged in the federal courts. The stakes are very, very high: in addition to facilitating a greater slaughter of the innocents, FOCA, by eliminating state conscience-clause protections for pro-life health care professionals, would create a situation in which the Catholic health care system as we know it would cease to exist, within a decade at most.

Then we come to adult catechesis. This year, the pro-abortion candidate carried every state in what Maggie Gallagher calls the “Decadent Catholic Corridor” — the Northeast and the older parts of the Midwest. Too many Catholics there are still voting the way their grandparents did, and because that’s what their grandparents did. This tribal voting has been described by some bishops as immoral; it is certainly stupid, and it must be challenged by adult education. That includes effective use of the pulpit to unsettle settled patterns of mindlessness. This year, a gratifying number of bishops began to accept the responsibilities of their teaching office; so, now, must parish pastors.

We need more persuasive ideas and language in the fight against euthanasia. Yes, the good guys were outspent in Washington State by orders of magnitude — and that should cause serious examinations of conscience among Catholic philanthropies and individuals of means. But, as in the debate over embryo-destructive stem-cell research, the culture of life has yet to develop a language that trumps the invocation of “compassion” when that’s misused by the culture of death.

And we need prayer — lots of it. Some demons require special powers to exorcize. As of Nov. 5, it is clear that certain of them have taken up residence in the United States of America.

George Weigel is author of the bestselling books The Courage to Be Catholic: Crisis, Reform, and the Future of the Church and Letters to a Young Catholic.

This column has been made available to Catholic Exchange courtesy of the Denver Catholic Register.

Pope Says True Beauty Linked to Truth

Cautions Against Valuing Mere Appearances

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 25, 2008 ( The search for beauty without truth and goodness can drive young people to fly toward artificial paradises that simply hide interior emptiness, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope affirmed this in a message sent to the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, and directed to the members of the pontifical academies who are participating in a conference on "The Universality of Beauty: a Comparison Between Aesthetics and Ethics."

There is currently a "dramatic" separation between the "search for beauty, though understood in a reductive way as an exterior form, as an appearance to be sought at all costs, and the [search] for truth and the goodness of actions," he wrote.

This separation, the Holy Father cautioned, transforms beauty into "mere aestheticism, and above all for youth, into a path that leads to the ephemeral, into banal and superficial appearances, or even a flight toward artificial paradises, which disguise and hide interior emptiness and inconsistencies."

Faced with this, the Pontiff affirmed that Christians are called to "give reason for" not only the truth of the faith, but also its beauty, by way of "works that are at the same time beautiful and good," which point to "another beauty, truth and goodness that only in God have their perfection and their ultimate source."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pope: Ecumenism Helping Gospel to Spread

Expresses Hope for Closeness With Armenian Church

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 24, 2008 ( The growth in ecumenical relations has great promise for the proclamation of the Gospel in our time, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope affirmed this today when he presided at an ecumenical celebration with Aram I, Catholicos of Cilicia of the Armenians. A delegation from the Catholicosate also participated in the event.

Aram I is on a visit to Rome that will include a pilgrimage to St. Paul's Outside the Walls.

"Our meeting today," the Pope told him, "stands in continuity with the visit which you made to my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II in January 1997, and with the many other contacts and mutual visits which, by God's grace, have led in recent years to closer relations between the Catholic Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church."

"In this year of St. Paul, you will visit the tomb of the Apostle of the Nations and pray with the monastic community at the basilica erected to his memory," the Holy Father continued. "In that prayer, you will be united to the great host of Armenian saints and martyrs, teachers and theologians, whose legacy of learning, holiness and missionary achievements are part of the patrimony of the whole Church. […] That testimony culminated in the 20th century, which proved a time of unspeakable suffering for your people.

Italy: Muslim leader defends Pope on inter-faith dialogue

Roma, 24 Nov. (AKI) - Pope Benedict XVI's praise for a new book which argues Europe should stay true to its Christian roots should not be misinterpreted, the head of the association of Italian Muslims, Ahmad Gianpiero Vincenzo, told Adnkronos International (AKI).

In comments made in the preface to Italian center-right politician Marcello Pera's forthcoming book 'Why We Must Call Ourselves Christian' Benedict XVI appeared to cast doubt on the possibility of inter-religious dialogue.

The Pope also called for more discussion of the practical consequences of religious differences.

In a quotation from the preface which appeared in Italian newspapers on Sunday, Benedict said the book "explained with great clarity" why "an interreligious dialogue in the strict sense of the word is not possible."

"The pontiff's words in his forward to Marcello Pera's latest book must be correctly interpreted without any manipulation by those who are seeking a clash of civilisations " Vincenzo told AKI.

"For us Muslims, inter-religious dialogue has a fundamental role in today's world, where more than ever before the underlying principles that religions have in common need to be underlined, starting with faith in the same God," he said.

"We totally agree with Benedict that it is not possible to advance dialogue between religions that plays down the specific doctrines and rituals of individual faiths.

"Otherwise, we slide into the relativism of those who believe all religions are the same and that individual religious doctrines and ritual practices are no longer needed," said Vincenzo.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Christ’s Kingdom requires us to love our neighbor, Pope teaches

Vatican City, Nov 23, 2008 / 12:31 pm (CNA).- Meditating on today's Solemnity of Christ the King, the Holy Father spoke with the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square about how God's eternal kingdom is realized by those who live the Gospel and strive day after day to put his word into practice.

Pope Benedict began reflecting of the kingship of Jesus by looking at his encounter with Pontius Pilate. "During his Passion, Jesus claimed a singular royalty before Pilate, who explicitly questioned him: 'Are you a king?'” Benedict recalled. “Jesus responded: 'You say it, I am a king;' a little before, however, he had declared: 'My kingdom is not of this world.'

The question of what kind of kingship Jesus claims is, in fact, a “revelation and actualization of that of God the Father, who governs all things with love and justice,” the Pope said. The Father, Benedict explained, “entrusted to the Son the mission of giving to men eternal life, loving them until the supreme sacrifice. At the same time, the Father conferred on the Son the power to judge men…"

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pope's Schedule for November-January

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 21, 2008 ( Here is a list of the celebrations Benedict XVI will preside over in November through January. The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff released the agenda today.

* * *


-- Saturday 29: At 5 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, First Vespers for the first Sunday of Advent.

-- Sunday 30: First Sunday of Advent. Pastoral visit to the Roman basilica of San Lorenzo for the 1,750th anniversary of the martyrdom of the deacon saint. Mass at 9.45 a.m.


-- Monday 8: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At 4 p.m. in Rome's Piazza di Spagna, homage to Mary Immaculate.

-- Wednesday 24: Vigil of the Solemnity of the Birth of Our Lord. Midnight Mass in the Vatican Basilica.

-- Thursday 25: Solemnity of the Birth of Our Lord. At midday from the central loggia of the Vatican Basilica, "Urbi et Orbi" blessing.

-- Wednesday 31: At 6 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, First Vespers of thanksgiving for the past year.


-- Thursday 1: Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and 42nd World Day of Peace. Mass in the Vatican Basilica at 10 a.m.

-- Tuesday 6: Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. Mass in the Vatican Basilica at 10 a.m.

-- Sunday, 11: Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. Mass in the Sistine Chapel at 10 a.m., conferment of the Sacrament of Baptism upon a number of children.

-- Sunday 25: Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle. At 5.30 p.m. in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, celebration of Vespers.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Did the Pope predict the meltdown of world financial markets?

Catholic World News (CWN)
Feature Stories

Nov. 21, 2008 ( - Did Pope Benedict predict the current worldwide financial crisis?

During the past few days dozens of newspapers have run a report suggesting that the Pope had warned about the coming financial meltdown, more than 20 years ago. But more sober analysis shows that the then-Cardinal Ratzinger had something quite different in mind when he made the remarks that are now being cited as a "prophecy."

The claims that the Pope forecast the collapse of world financial markets originated with a November 20 Bloomberg report carrying the provocative headline: "Pope had 'prophecy of market collapse in 1985.' The Bloomberg story quoted Italy's finance minister, Giulio Tremonti, as saying that in an article he wrote in 1985, the future Pontiff made "the prediction that an undisciplined economy would collapse."

Speaking at Milan's Catholic University, Tremonti called attention to a paper that Cardinal Ratzinger had delivered at a 1985 seminar on "Market Economy and Ethics." The future Pope said that a breakdown on moral principles "can actually cause the laws of the market to collapse," the Italian finance minister recalled.

It was the Bloomberg headline, not Tremonti's own words, that gave rise to the suggestion that the paper Cardinal Ratzinger delivered in 2005 contained some sort of economic prognostication. Actually the future Pontiff was making a point that should be familiar to anyone with a passing interest in Catholic social teaching; he was insisting that the working of a free-market economic system must be buttressed by the principles of Judeo-Christian morality.

In a sober analysis of the text that the German cardinal delivered at that 1985 seminar, Jordan Ballor of the Acton Institute supplied the relevant quotation from the Ratzinger text:

It is becoming an increasingly obvious fact of economic history that the development of economic systems which concentrate on the common good depends on a determinate ethical system, which in turn can be born and sustained only by strong religious convictions. Conversely, it has also become obvious that the decline of such discipline can actually cause the laws of the market to collapse.

That statement obviously is not intended as a prediction of particular trends in the world's financial markets; it is a comment on the close relationship between ethical behavior and social welfare, on how the common good is served when individuals base their actions on consistent moral principles-- and undermined when they act selfishly. As the Acton Institute's Ballor put it, the cardinal is warning "about an economy that lacks participants who act from the basis of a serious and committed moral foundation," and his comment is "about a lack of religious discipline as much as economic discipline."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Pope Had `Prophecy' of Market Collapse in 1985, Tremonti Says


By Flavia Krause-Jackson and Lorenzo Totaro

Nov. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Pope Benedict XVI was the first to predict the crisis in the global financial system, a ``prophecy'' dating to a paper he wrote when he was a cardinal, Italian Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti said.

``The prediction that an undisciplined economy would collapse by its own rules can be found'' in an article written by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became pope in April 2005, Tremonti said yesterday at Milan's Cattolica University.

German-born Ratzinger in 1985 presented a paper entitled ``Market Economy and Ethics'' at a Rome event dedicated to the Church and the economy. The future pope said a decline in ethics ``can actually cause the laws of the market to collapse.''

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cardinal Says Future With Obama Is Gethsemane

Affirms That Life Cannot be Controlled by Government

WASHINGTON, D.C., NOV. 19, 2008 ( The decline in respect for human life has had “catastrophic effects” on the unity and integrity of the United States, which are evidenced by the presidential election, says a Vatican official.

Baltimore-native Cardinal James Stafford, major penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary, affirmed this in a lecture on "Humanae Vitae" last Thursday at the Catholic University of America. His lecture, “Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II: Being True in Body and Soul,” pointed out the need for Catholics to return to the true values of marriage and human dignity faced to the current challenges.

“Because man is a sacred element of secular life,” the cardinal said, “[…] a person’s life cannot ultimately be controlled by government.”

"On Nov. 4, 2008, America suffered a cultural earthquake,” continued the cardinal. He pointed out that president-elect Barack Obama campaigned on an “extremist anti-life platform,” and described him as “aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic.”

Now Catholics will experience the Agony of the Garden through the next few years of Obama’s presidency, the cardinal said, and will have to endure the “hot, angry tears of betrayal.” He invited people to live this time “with Jesus, sick because of love.”

Pope Benedict explains St. Paul’s teaching on justification to thousands

Vatican City, Nov 19, 2008 / 11:10 am (CNA).- On Wednesday morning, Pope Benedict XVI continued his weekly teachings on St. Paul while speaking to the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square. The Pontiff further explained the apostle's teaching that believers are justified by faith in Christ and by the acts that flow out of love for him.

When Paul met the Risen One on the road to Damascus, the Pope began, "he was a successful man: blameless as to righteousness under the Law." Yet "the conversion of Damascus radically changed his life, and he began to consider all the gains of his honest religious career as 'rubbish' in the face of the sublimity of his knowledge of Jesus Christ."

Turning to St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, Pope Benedict found that "Paul understood that until then, what seemed to him a gain, in reality, in front of God was a loss. He decided, therefore, to bet all his being on Jesus Christ." In other words, "The Risen Lord became the beginning and end of Paul's existence," the Pope taught.

Religious Rights for Health Providers: Bush Needs to Act Now

Catholic League
November 19, 2008

Catholic League president Bill Donohue discusses what’s at stake regarding the religious rights of health providers:

“For the past several months, the Bush administration has been drafting regulations that would protect the rights of doctors, nurses and health workers from being discriminated against if they refuse to perform or assist in abortions, as well as other morally contentious procedures. At stake are the religious rights of these professionals. We urge President Bush to move quickly before the next administration begins.

“President-elect Barack Obama has pledged his support for the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), a bill so draconian that it would jeopardize the right of Catholic hospitals and doctors to refuse to perform abortions. Now the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice has sent him a letter calling on him to make good on his pledge. But if he were to do that, it would lead, in the words of one Vatican official, to the ‘equivalent of a war.’

“To put it differently, were FOCA to become law (it needs to be reintroduced in the House), the culture war that the Vatican official was referring to would come to a boiling point. In practical terms, this would mean the closure of every Catholic hospital in the nation: No bishop is going to stand by and allow the federal government to dictate what medical procedures must be performed in Catholic hospitals. Make no mistake about it, the bishops would shut down Catholic hospitals before acquiescing in the intentional killing of an innocent child. Were this to happen, it would not only cripple the poor, it would cripple the Obama administration.

“It is for reasons like these that the Catholic League urges President Bush to move with dispatch in instituting rules protecting the religious rights of all health care workers. If Obama wants to undo them, it will set up a confrontation he will surely regret.”

Last-minute Bush abortion ruling causes furor

International Herald Tribune

By Robert Pear
Published: November 18, 2008

WASHINGTON: A last-minute Bush administration plan to grant sweeping new protections to health care providers who oppose abortion and other procedures on religious or moral grounds has provoked a torrent of objections, including a strenuous protest from the government agency that enforces job-discrimination laws.

The proposed rule would prohibit recipients of federal money from discriminating against doctors, nurses and other health care workers who refuse to perform or to assist in the performance of abortions or sterilization procedures because of their "religious beliefs or moral convictions."

It would also prevent hospitals, clinics, doctors' offices and drugstores from requiring employees with religious or moral objections to "assist in the performance of any part of a health service program or research activity" financed by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Will the Pope and Obama Clash Over Abortion?

Vincenzo Pinto / AFP / Getty

By Jeff Israely Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2008

Though Barack Obama won't be announcing his foreign travel plans any time soon, it's a good bet that the new American President will meet Pope Benedict XVI some time next year, perhaps in early July to coincide with the G8 summit in Italy. It promises to be one of the great photo ops of 2009. Benedict sent a personal message to Obama the day after his victory, which referred to the "historic occasion" of his coming presidency; and Obama subsequently telephoned the Pope as part of a round of calls to world leaders.

But well before the two men have their historic handshake, the ground is already shifting underneath U.S.-Vatican relations. After the Bush administration, the election of a pro-choice, pro-diplomacy Democratic president is changing the Vatican's game plan vis-a-vis Washington on several levels. Bush was viewed in Rome as a rare ally in the West for his opposition to such issues as abortion, gay marriage and stem-cell research. And the first issue to watch is abortion. (See a map showing the new fronts in the U.S. abortion battle.)

The Pope's top aides may have already informed Benedict about a campaign promise Obama made on July 17, 2007, to Planned Parenthood, stating that his first act as President would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, which would undo legislation that put restrictions on access to abortions. Some Catholics have warned that such a decree, which would essentially codify Roe v. Wade into federal law and could force doctors in Catholic hospitals to perform abortions against their conscience. "There's more fear here than wrath," a senior Vatican official told TIME with regard to the Catholic hierarchy's attitude toward Obama. However, if Obama signs the Freedom of Choice Act in his first months in office "it would be the equivalent of a war," says the same official. "It would be like saying: 'We've heard the Catholic Church and we have no interest in their concerns." U.S. Catholic bishops meeting last week in Baltimore vowed to take on Obama for his support of abortion rights; they are also skeptical about his assurances to try to reduce the number of abortions while supporting the right to choose.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Vatican: Pope urges unity in Lebanon

Rome, 17 Nov. (AKI) - Pope Benedict on Monday urged national unity in conflict-scarred Lebanon. During an audience with Lebanon's new ambassador to the Holy See, Georges Chakib El-Khoury, Benedict said he hoped the Lebanese people "may courageously continue their efforts to build a united and solidary society."

"The millennial history of the country, and the place it occupies at the centre of a complex region, give it a fundamental mission to contribute to peace and harmony among everyone", Benedict (photo) continued.

Describing Lebanon as a "treasure that has been entrusted to all the Lebanese people" the Pope urged the international community to "protect and value the country," preventing it from becoming a proxy battlefield where "regional and global conflicts are played out."

The election of a new president of the Republic, the formation of a government of national unity and the approval of a new electoral law over the past six months "will favour national cohesion," Benedict stated.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Christians have a responsibility to uphold the Kingdom of God, teaches the Holy Father

Vatican City, Nov 16, 2008 / 09:24 am (CNA).- Presiding over the recitation of the Sunday Angelus, Pope Benedict XVI recalled the Sunday readings which invite the faithful to be vigilant and dutiful while waiting for the return of the Lord Jesus at the end of time. The Pontiff also pointed out that the Gospel teaches us our responsibility to God and humanity.

In the Gospel, St. Matthew narrates the well-known parable of the talents. The "talent" was an ancient Roman coin of great value. The Holy Father explained to his audience today that the main character of the parable, "a man who was going on a journey," represents Christ himself and the servants are his disciples. The talents represent the gifts that God entrusts them: his Word, deposited in the Holy Gospels; Baptism, which renews Christians in the Holy Spirit; prayer, the "Our Father," which we elevate to God as sons and daughters united in the Son; and forgiveness, the sacrament of his immolated Body and his spilt blood. "These are the treasures that Jesus entrusted to his friends, at the end of his brief time of earth," the Pope explained.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ending Abortion the Church’s Way - Part 4

Catholic Exchange

The Edge
November 15th, 2008 by Fr. Frank Pavone

While some pro-life organizations have tried to activate the Church for pro-life by criticizing the bishops, Priests for Life has instead promoted their teachings and documents, encouraged their initiatives, and served the clergy and laity of their dioceses through seminars, parish weekends, and materials provided without charge.

To work in harmony with the bishops, it is important to understand their role in relationship to the pro-life movement.

A careful reading of the bishops’ own Pastoral Plan for Pro-life Activities, as well as of the many documents of the Magisterium about the structure of the Church, tells us that the bishops do not see themselves as sitting at some master control switchboard, creating strategy and projects for pro-life organizations. In fact, the pro-life committee of the US bishops’ conference does not even see its role as giving “approbation” to pro-life groups. Rather, as confirmed by correspondence between the committee and Priests for Life, the committee sees its role as encouraging all those who are engaged in promoting the Gospel of Life. Catholics are to be in union with the teachings of their bishops. But they are responsible for implementing those teachings through their own new initiatives. Moreover, the pro-life movement reaches far beyond the Catholic Church.

Who, then, “directs” the pro-life movement?

The answer is that the movement is not a single entity that anyone directs; it is a movement, which gives rise to many entities. It starts in the depths of the human heart and soul, moved by the call of conscience. It begins to take shape around the kitchen table and the telephone, the email and the coffee shop. It coalesces into county groups and parish committees, pregnancy centers and lobbying efforts.

Vatican rejects "right to die" after Italian court ruling

Photos 1 of 1
Pictures of Eluana Englaro are placed on the Piazza del Duomo in Milan.

Channel NewsAsia
Posted: 15 November 2008 0024 hrs

ROME : The Vatican on Friday firmly condemned an Italian court decision allowing a father to remove his comatose daughter from life support, saying "the right to die does not exist."

"Life is sacred, the right to die does not exist," the Vatican's "health minister" Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan said in an interview published by the Italian daily La Stampa.

On Thursday, Italy's highest appeal court upheld an earlier ruling that doctors could stop artificially feeding Eluana Englaro, 37, as it had been proven that the road accident victim's coma was irreversible.

"To stop giving food and drink to Eluana is tantamount to committing murder," said Barragan, who heads the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care.

"It means letting her die of hunger and thirst, condemning her to a monstrous end," he added.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Global crisis causing delay in release of new social encyclical

Vatican City, Nov 14, 2008 / 02:05 pm (CNA).- Although Cardinal Renato Martino previously said that the social encyclical Pope Benedict XVI has been writing would be published in December, major changes in the world economy resulting from the crisis in the United States are reportedly causing revisions to be made.

A Vatican official quoted by journalist Paolo Rodari of the Italian daily “Il Reformista” said the financial crisis that has hit the U.S. economy and its global repercussions has caused revisions to be made to the Pope’s forthcoming encyclical. The encyclical will focus on the demands of solidarity in the new global economy, according to Vatican officials.

The Vatican officials quoted by Rodari said the Pope will review the draft of the encyclical and that “no date has been set” for its publication.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Separating Christianity from Europe's public life leads ‘down a blind alley,’ Pope cautions

Vatican City, Nov 13, 2008 / 10:36 am (CNA).- Upon receiving Letters of Credence from the new ambassador of San Marino, Pope Benedict stressed that if the country’s rich Christian heritage is separated from the its public life, citizens will be led “down a blind alley.”

The Pope addressed the new ambassador, Sante Caducci, this morning at the Vatican. The small country, which the diplomat represents is completely surrounded by Italy, and was founded in the fourth century by Christians fleeing the persecution of Diocletian.

In his words to him, he recalled that Christianity has always been a building block of the country’s history and people. Pope Benedict also expressed his hope that the community of San Marino will continue to “write a chapter of progress and civilization, recognizing the indispensable role each family (as a place of education in peace) is called to play in forming the new generations."

Though our world and environment continue to change, Pope Benedict continued, “the final aim of all our daily efforts, both as individuals and as a community, remains unaltered: the search for the true wellbeing of the person and the creation of an open and welcoming society attentive to the real needs of everyone.”

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bishops Warn Obama on Abortion; Catholic Left Rebuked

Catholic League
November 12, 2008

In a statement released today, Francis Cardinal George, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, made it clear that the bishops will fight any expansion of abortion rights that may occur under the next administration. Specifically, the bishops are objecting to the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), a bill so sweeping and draconian that it would not only repeal every single state restriction on abortion, it would seriously jeopardize the right of Catholic hospitals and doctors to opt out of performing abortions.

Catholic League president Bill Donohue released the following remarks:

“Cardinal George is right to label FOCA ‘an evil law that would further divide the country.’ At stake are two issues: a) the rights of the unborn and, b) religious liberty.

“First, those who admit that abortion should be rare unwittingly acknowledge that there is a reason to limit its frequency: as Cardinal George said, ‘abortion kills.’ By contrast, no one maintains that root canals should be rare, and that is because this medical procedure—unlike abortion—does not result in the total denial of someone else’s rights.

“Second, religious liberty is enshrined in the First Amendment and cannot be trespassed upon lightly, and certainly not by abortion zealots. Those who support FOCA must realize that if Catholic hospitals are ever required to perform abortions, the bishops will close every one of them; no one would be hurt more than the poor.

“Cardinal George explicitly rejected the ‘common good’ mantra of the Catholic Left that justifies legal abortion while pursuing ameliorative social policies that may reduce abortions. At stake, he said, is the ‘legal protection of the unborn,’ something which is rejected by Catholics United, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholic Democrats. We hope they amend their ways and fall in line with Catholic thought on this grave matter. If they do not, they will become indistinguishable from Catholics for Choice, a fully discredited organization.”

Cardinal George Voices Hope for Obama Administration, Points to Possible Obstacles to Our Desired Unity

USCCB News Release

November 12, 2008

BALTIMORE—Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), voiced hope for the Obama Administration but pointed to possible obstacles to our desired unity, in a Nov. 12 statement at the end of the annual fall assembly of the USCCB.

"The bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States welcome this moment of historic transition and look forward to working with President-elect Obama and the members of the new Congress for the common good of all," he said.

He said that "the unity desired by President-elect Obama and all Americans at this moment of crisis will be impossible to achieve," if the administration's policies increase abortions.

"Aggressive pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion."

"We express again our great desire to work with all those who cherish the common good of our nation," he added. "The common good is not the sum total of individual interests: it is achieved in the working out of a common life based upon good reason and good will for all."

Cardinal George's remarks follow.

STATEMENT of the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
"If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labor; if the Lord does not watch over the city, in vain does the watchman keep vigil." (Psalm 127, vs. 1)

The Bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States welcome this moment of historic transition and look forward to working with President-elect Obama and the members of the new Congress for the common good of all. Because of the Church's history and the scope of her ministries in this country, we want to continue our work for economic justice and opportunity for all; our efforts to reform laws around immigration and the situation of the undocumented; our provision of better education and adequate health care for all, especially for women and children; our desire to safeguard religious freedom and foster peace at home and abroad. The Church is intent on doing good and will continue to cooperate gladly with the government and all others working for these goods.

The fundamental good is life itself, a gift from God and our parents. A good state protects the lives of all. Legal protection for those members of the human family waiting to be born in this country was removed when the Supreme Court decided Roe vs. Wade in 1973. This was bad law. The danger the Bishops see at this moment is that a bad court decision will be enshrined in bad legislation that is more radical than the 1973 Supreme Court decision itself.

In the last Congress, a Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) was introduced that would, if brought forward in the same form today, outlaw any "interference" in providing abortion at will. It would deprive the American people in all fifty states of the freedom they now have to enact modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industry. FOCA would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting abortion with their tax dollars. It would counteract any and all sincere efforts by government and others of good will to reduce the number of abortions in our country.

Parental notification and informed consent precautions would be outlawed, as would be laws banning procedures such as partial-birth abortion and protecting infants born alive after a failed abortion. Abortion clinics would be deregulated. The Hyde Amendment restricting the federal funding of abortions would be abrogated. FOCA would have lethal consequences for prenatal human life.

FOCA would have an equally destructive effect on the freedom of conscience of doctors, nurses and health care workers whose personal convictions do not permit them to cooperate in the private killing of unborn children. It would threaten Catholic health care institutions and Catholic Charities. It would be an evil law that would further divide our country, and the Church should be intent on opposing evil.

On this issue, the legal protection of the unborn, the bishops are of one mind with Catholics and others of good will. They are also pastors who have listened to women whose lives have been diminished because they believed they had no choice but to abort a baby. Abortion is a medical procedure that kills, and the psychological and spiritual consequences are written in the sorrow and depression of many women and men. The bishops are single-minded because they are, first of all, single-hearted.

Obama phones pope to thank him for congratulatory message

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- U.S. President-elect Barack Obama telephoned Pope Benedict XVI to thank the pope for his message of congratulations on his election victory.

The pope was one of the many world leaders Obama has been contacting since his Nov. 4 win.

The Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, confirmed to Catholic News Service Nov. 12 that the president-elect telephoned the pope Nov. 11 "to thank the pope for his telegram, his congratulations" on winning the U.S. presidential election.

Further details about the call were not known, Father Lombardi said.

Pope Benedict sent his congratulations Nov. 5, referring to the "historic occasion" of the election, marking the first time a black man has been elected president of the United States.

Father Lombardi said Nov. 5 the pope prayed that "the blessing of God would sustain him (Obama) and the American people so that with all people of good will they could build a world of peace, solidarity and justice."

The press office for Obama's presidential transition team said all conversations with world leaders are private and no details would be released on this conversation or any conversation with world leaders.

- - -

Contributing to this story was Dennis Sadowski in Washington.

Without the coming of Christ, the world will not be just or renewed, Pope teaches

Pope Benedict XVI / St. Paul

Vatican City, Nov 12, 2008 / 11:30 am (CNA).- In the presence of thousands at St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict XVI continued his weekly teachings on St. Paul, speaking about the apostle's teaching on the Lord's second coming. The Holy Father stressed that without Christ's presence, there will never be a truly just and renewed world.

"Every Christian discourse on the last things, called eschatology, always begins with the resurrection,” Pope Benedict began as he turned to Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians.

“Probably in the year 52 St. Paul wrote the first of his letters, the First Letter to the Thessalonians, where he speaks of the return of Jesus. The Apostle writes, ‘For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord’.”

The essential message, Pope Benedict summarized, is to "be with the Lord."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Kneeling Before the World

Inside Catholic

by John Zmirak

Last week, I interrupted my series of reflections on the Seven Deadly Sins to accommodate the elections. Let's hope that my dire predictions turn out to be alarmist, even hysterical.

Much as I'd like to jump right back on the horse, and ride through the happy fields of Greed, or among Envy's icy crags, I think it's fitting to spend this week reflecting on where American Catholics are and how we got here: a gray, intermediate place halfway between the exercise of power and the pressure of persecution. It's called Irrelevance. It feels like a straight jacket and smells like formaldehyde, and we'll be thrashing around inside it for years to come. Let us use that empty time to clear our heads and get our story straight.

Various writers here have wondered aloud why American Catholics seemed to care so little about the sanctity of life; why American bishops and priests, as a whole, were such unreliable allies. Those essays have offered cogent answers, but none was complete. My own diagnosis of the self-defeating Catholic liberalism that enfeebles even the orthodox failed to plumb its lowest depths.

For that it took Philip Lawler, whose book The Faithful Departed is the most important work about the Church to appear in the last two decades -- since Anne Roche Muggeridge's sobering masterwork, The Desolate City. Lawler's book took enormous courage to write; its naming of names and relentless spade-calling of spades has made Lawler many enemies, and the book has been banned from the shelves of some Catholic bookstores. (From now on, when I visit such a store, I'm asking them about Lawler; if they won't sell his book, they’ll lose my business.)

What are they all so afraid of? The truth, it seems. Lawler points out that while less than five percent of American priests have been accused of sexual abuse, some two-thirds of our bishops were apparently complicit in cover-ups. The real scandal isn't the sick excesses of a few dozen pedophiles, or even the hundreds of priests who had affairs with teenage boys -- the bulk of abuse cases. No, according to Lawler, it is the malfeasance of wealthy, powerful, and evidently worldly men who fill the thrones -- but not the shoes -- of the apostles. In case after case, we read in their correspondence, in the records of their soulless, bureaucratic responses to victims of psychic torture and spiritual betrayal, these bishops' prime concern was to save the infrastructure, the bricks and mortar and mortgages. Ironically, their lack of a supernatural concern for souls is precisely what cost them so much money in the end.

Vatican says no to Obama-supported embryonic stem cell research
Posted : Tue, 11 Nov 2008 14:45:19 GMT

Vatican City - The Vatican's top health issues official reiterated Tuesday the Roman Catholic Church's opposition to embryonic stem cell research - a field of study supported by US president-elect Barack Obama. Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan said stem cells taken from human embryos and involving the destruction of the embryos, "served no purpose with no health cure to date" resulting from such scientific research.

The Church instead championed research on adult stem cells that, Barragan said, have been shown to have "positive value."

Barragan, who is president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers, made the remarks at a news conference where he was asked to comment on Obama's stance on the matter.

However, the Mexican-born cleric said he was not "fully aware" what the US president-elect's position on the issue was.

While President George W Bush has strictly limited stem-cell research from cell lines derived from human embryos, Obama has long favoured such research and is likely to end to a US federal ban that limits funding of research.

Obama's views on embryonic stem cell research and his pro-choice stance on abortion are supported by his vice president-elect Joe Biden, who is Catholic.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Pope marks Feast of Dedication of Lateran Basilica

Vatican City, Nov 9, 2008 / 12:08 pm (CNA).- Presiding over the recitation of the Sunday Angelus, Pope Benedict XVI commemorated the Feast of the Dedication of Rome’s Lateran Basilica. Calling Christians the ‘living stones’ of a ‘spiritual building,’ he reminded the faithful that God wants to build in the world a community that “worships him in spirit and truth.”

The Basilica, called the “mother and head of all churches of the City and the World,” was built after the Emperor Constantine’s Edict of Milan, which in 313 granted Christians freedom to practice their religion. The same emperor, the Holy Father recalled, “gave Pope Miltiades the old property of the family of the Laterans and built the Basilica, Baptistery and the residence of the Bishop of Rome, where the Popes lived until the Avignon period.”

He continued, “The dedication of the Basilica was celebrated by Pope Sylvester in 324 and the temple was dedicated to the Most Holy Savior; the names of Sts. John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, for whom the basilica is commonly named, were added only after the sixth century.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Pope Benedict: Pius XII was a great figure

The Charlotte Observer
Associated Press Writer
Posted: Saturday, Nov. 08, 2008

VATICAN CITY Pope Benedict XVI praised Pius XII on Saturday as a great historical figure and implied that excessive attention had been paid to what the wartime pontiff did or did not do to save Jews from the Holocaust.

On Thursday his top aide, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said allegations that the pontiff was largely silent about the Holocaust were "outrageous."

The allegations by some historians and Jewish groups have sharpened as church officials consider whether to continue the process leading to possible sainthood for Pius, whose 1939-1958 papacy spanned World War II.

The Vatican maintains that Pius used quiet diplomacy to save thousands from the Holocaust.

Benedict did not specifically mention the allegations that Pius failed to use his papacy to save more Jews from the Nazi extermination campaign. But his remarks to participants in a seminar about Pius' teachings clearly referred to the sharp criticism of Pius.

"In recent years, when Pius XII is spoken of, attention is concentrated in an excessive way on only one problem, treated, for the most part, in a rather unilateral way," Benedict said Saturday.

"Leaving aside any other consideration, such (attention) has impeded an adequate approach to the figure of great historical-theological depth which Pope Pius XII was," Benedict added.

The pope called his predecessor's church teachings a "precious legacy."

He has said he hoped the process toward possible sainthood could move ahead. But he recently was reported to have said that he would consider freezing the process until the Vatican's wartime archives are opened.

Looking at the Catholic Vote, Part I

A percentage breakdown of the Catholic vote indicates unequivably that the U.S. is a mission field.

The Charcoal Fire
Wednesday, November 5, 2008

So things just got a lot worse for the unborn, and in large part due to the Catholic vote no less. According to exit polls, Sen. Obama carried the Catholic vote at 54 percent. And I don’t think there’s any disputing those numbers, considering a.) he won, and b.) Catholics are more than a quarter of the United States population. A candidate would be hard-pressed to win the general election without carrying the Catholic vote, though George Bush did in 2000. Obama won the electoral vote easily while losing many traditionally Protestant states; hence, those figures are probably very accurate.

Rhode Island should have been a shoe-in for McCain – nearly 60 percent of the state is Catholic! Here are a few more:

Pennsylvania – 28.4 percent
Nevada – 32 percent
Wisconsin – 29.5 percent
Connecticut – 36.6 percent
New York – 37.1 percent
Massachusetts – a staggering 42 percent!

That’s 90 electoral votes right there! Though Catholics are the biggest pro-life contingent in the country, the abortion issue continues to plague our nation because of the un-Catholic voting practices of the Catholic voters who are not part of that contingent. Barack Obama never should have been a political factor in the first place, Illinois is 30.1 percent Catholic!

So what I take from the stats above is that Catholicism is only cultural in many localities in this country. Don’t get me wrong, Catholicism should be cultural. It just shouldn’t be only cultural. There is more to Catholicism then the culture. Catholicism is a worldview. There’s an old saying in our faith, “orthodoxy leads to orthopraxis” – right teaching leads to right action; our faith must inform our every action. Somewhere there is a disconnect for American Catholics. There seems to be a combination of these factors in our parishes throughout the country:

1. Some American Catholics are not receiving orthodoxy, but only heterodoxy (other teaching, i.e., teaching not true to the Catholic faith) in their parishes.
2. Some American Catholics are receiving a contradictory muddled mess of orthodoxy and heterodoxy in their parishes.
3. Some American Catholics are mostly receiving orthodoxy in their parishes, but have false beliefs about Catholic moral doctrine, anthropology, philosophy, and ethics.
4. Some American Catholics don’t care what the orthodox teachings of the faith are, they believe they can pick and choose what to believe and what not to believe – an all-too-common practice known as “dissent.”
5. Some American Catholics have an impenetrable distrust, hurt, or even hatred for the teaching office of the bishop because of the abuse scandals.
6. Finally, there are many American Catholics for whom Catholicism is a heritage, but not something they practice. Sadly, this group represents most American Catholics. This group voted 61 percent in favor of Obama, according to exit polls.

In each of these cases we have a crisis among the faithful of orthopraxis, as evidenced by the vote, and in most cases there is a crisis of orthodoxy at root. Therefore, one of the chief solutions to the problem has to be to teach the Catholic faith in its full authenticity without the polluting elements of heterodoxy and encouragement toward dissent. People genuinely want to know the Catholic faith, and in so many places a lie is being presented in its stead. Teaching the Catholic faith in its richness will lead to a more pro-life America.

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Facts of When Human Life Begins

Interview With Maureen Condic of the Westchester Institute

By Karna Swanson

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, NOV. 7, 2008 ( The conclusion of scientist Maureen Condic that human life begins at a defined moment of conception isn't an opinion based on a belief, but rather a "reflection of the way the world is."

Condic, a senior fellow of the Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person, published her conclusions in a white paper titled "When Does Human Life Begin?" In the report she addresses the topic using current scientific data in human embryology.

An associate professor of neurobiology and anatomy at the University of Utah School of Medicine, Condic received her doctorate in neurobiology from the University of California, Berkely. Her teaching focuses primarily on embryonic development, and she directs the University of Utah School of Medicine's course in human embryology.

In the interview with ZENIT, Condic explains why the question of when human life begins is important to address, and what scientific criteria she used to define a "moment of conception."

Q: This is the first white paper for the Westchester Institute. Why this topic? Why now?

Condic: This is an important question, with significant biological, ethical and philosophical dimensions. As I note in the paper, resolving when human life begins has important implications for a number of controversial political topics, including abortion and human embryonic stem cell research.

As a scientist and as director of a medical school course in human embryology, I have been considering the general question of when human life begins for quite a few years. The argument put forward in the white paper has grown out of discussions with philosophers, scientists and ethicists, as well as out of my own research in this area.

Yet this topic has come to the fore in the lead-up to the presidential election. While the topic of when life begins has generally been avoided by politicians and government officials, recently a number of prominent figures have offered their interpretations, making this a timely subject to consider with scientific rigor and neutrality.

Q: You define the moment of conception as the second it takes for the sperm and egg to fuse and form a zygote. What were the scientific principles you used to arrive at this conclusion?

Condic: The central question of "when does human life begin" can be stated in a somewhat different way: When do sperm and egg cease to be, and what kind of thing takes their place once they cease to be?

To address this question scientifically, we need to rely on sound scientific argument and on the factual evidence. Scientists make distinctions between different cell types (for example, sperm, egg and the cell they produce at fertilization) based on two simple criteria: Cells are known to be different because they are made of different components and because they behave in distinct ways.

These two criteria are used throughout the scientific enterprise to distinguish one cell type from another, and they are the basis of all scientific (as opposed to arbitrary, faith-based or political) distinctions. I have applied these two criteria to the scientific data concerning fertilization, and they are the basis for the conclusion that a new human organism comes into existence at the moment of sperm-egg fusion.

Q: Many in the scientific world would say that fertilization doesn't happen in a moment, but rather that it is a process that comes to an end at the end of the first cell cycle, which is 24 hours later. Why is it important to define a "moment of conception," as opposed to a "process of fertilization"?

Condic: It is not important to somehow define a "moment" or a "process" of fertilization in the abstract. It is important to base conclusions and judgments about human embryos on sound scientific reasoning and on the best available scientific evidence.

Had this analysis led to a different conclusion -- for example, that fertilization is a "process" -- I would have accepted this conclusion as scientifically valid. However, a scientific analysis of the best available data does not support the conclusion that fertilization is a "process"; it supports the conclusion that fertilization is an event that takes less than a second to complete.

The events of the first 24 hours following sperm-egg fusion are clearly unique, but they are also clearly acts of a human organism, not acts of a mere human cell.

Catholics to Protest Bishops in Baltimore during USCCB Meeting, November 9th and 10th

Contact: Randall Terry, Founder, Operation Rescue. 904-687-9804

BALTIMORE, Md., Nov. 7 /Christian Newswire/ -- Pro-life Catholics from Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania will "welcome" Catholic Bishops to Baltimore with two days of protests, decrying the USCCB's silence and treachery concerning the unborn during the 2008 Presidential Election.

Some protesters will wear "Obama Masks" and hold signs saying: "Bishops: Thank you for your silence!" and "Bishops: I couldn't have been elected without You!" Other signs to be unveiled.

Randall Terry, Protest Organizer states: "A key factor in the election of Barack Obama was the silence of US Catholic Bishops. They had a duty to clearly and courageously defend the lives of unborn children; most of them failed miserably. Their silence and cowardice over the last 12 months paved the way for Obama's victory, and will cost millions of innocent babies their lives.

"The USCCB's document, 'Faithful Citizenship,' is a disaster. It was used by every pro-abortion Catholic in the country to justify voting for Obama. The double tragedy is that the Bishops ignored John Paul II's directives in 'Evangelium Vitae' (the Gospel of Life), and chose their own failed document to vindicate their silence and inactivity.

"God have mercy on them. Let's hope they recognize the abject failure of 'Faithful Citizenship,' and formally abandon it, or radically rewrite it in a way that accurately reflects Church Teaching."

Randall Terry, Founder, Operation Rescue.

Pro-lifers will provide media with Church documentation, showing conclusively that most U.S. Bishops clearly betrayed their duty, and unborn children. Thankfully, a handful a Bishops made clear statements; they will be acknowledged and honored.

Marriot Water Front
700 Aliceanna St., Baltimore Maryland, 21202

2-5 pm, Sunday, November 9, 2008
12 Noon – 2:00 pm, Monday, November 10, 2008.

Pro-life Catholics from surrounding states.

Note: Any Catholics who want to jump in a plane, train, or automobile to join us in expressing our outrage to Catholic Bishops are welcome to join us. (You could reserve a room at the hotel with the Bishops, and visit with them in the hallway, dining room, etc. They love meeting with the faithful from their diocese.)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Pope emphasizes necessity of human dignity for Catholic-Muslim dialogue

Vatican City, Nov 6, 2008 / 11:37 am (CNA).- The inaugural Catholic-Muslim Forum reached its culmination today with Pope Benedict XVI emphasizing that “only by starting with the recognition of the centrality of the person and the dignity of each human being” will Catholics and Muslims find common ground for building a “more fraternal world.”

The three day historic meeting between Muslims and Catholics was the fruit of a mutual desire for dialogue expressed by 138 Muslim leaders in a letter they sent in October 2007 and was reciprocated by a letter sent in the Pope’s name by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone in November 2007.

Over the past two days, Muslim and Catholic leaders have discussed the theme "Love of God, Love of Neighbor" from two main standpoints: "theological and spiritual fundamentals" and "the dignity of the human person and mutual respect."

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Pope prays for God to 'enlighten' Obama

Richmond Times-Dispatch
Wednesday, Nov 05, 2008 - 08:02 AM

ROME -- Pope Benedict XVI, the leader of more than 1 billion Catholics around the world, is praying that God will "enlighten" U.S. President-elect Barack Obama. The pontiff hopes Obama "can respond to the expectations and the hopes of those that look to him," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told reporters today, relaying the pope's message.

Benedict also wants the new American president to "favor human growth and dignity with respect to essential human and spiritual values."

-- Bloomberg News

Pope congratulates Obama

Philippine Daily Inquirer

Agence France-Presse
First Posted 22:41:00 11/05/2008

ROME—Pope Benedict XVI sent a telegram of congratulations Wednesday to Barack Obama to hail the "historic occasion" of his election as US president, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said.

The Roman Catholic pontiff expressed to Obama "his blessing so that God will support him and the American people, and that all people of goodwill can work to build a world of peace, solidarity and justice," Lombardi said.

The text of the telegram, sent to Obama via the US ambassador to the Holy See, is not being made public "because it is a personal message," the spokesman added.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

It Can Happen Here

Inside Catholic

by John Zmirak

Our choices matter. They hurtle before us into eternity, dragging us in their wake. And in this election, more than any in the United States since 1860, they matter desperately. I wish they didn't.

The single most damning objection raised by atheists is this: Why would a loving, omnipotent God permit sin, suffering, and the eternal damnation of souls? And our answer is stark and comfortless: For the sake of freedom. To give our choices consequence and meaning. To make our existence real.

Our reason accepts this. One's frontal lobe can process the logical steps entailed and determine the absence of fallacies. But our hearts aren't always moved. Personally, I don't think it's worth the risk. If God were to offer me Limbo, or certain annihilation after death, in return for the guarantee that I would never spend five minutes in Hell, I would jump on that offer faster than my beagle pounces on a squirrel. Susie has no free will, no sin, and no eternity. Lucky dog.

But that's not the way things work. As I've explained more than once to Catholics who dissent over birth control: "I don't make the Natural Law, I just enforce it."

Likewise in the economy of salvation: We may think what we wish about God's decision to give man a lethal freedom. But wishing won't make it so.

And so we must decide. Readers of this site have heard extensively about the extremes to which Sen. Barack Obama pushes his support of legal abortion. They know that he is likely to appoint enough justices to the Supreme Court to keep abortion out of the hands of democratic lawmaking for 20 or 30 years -- in other words, indefinitely.

Failing a campaign promise on the part of Sen. John McCain to start a nuclear war that would kill more people than the four million children who face legal execution during an Obama administration, the abortion issue alone should convince every orthodox Christian that voting for Obama is a grave sin -- the kind to damn one's soul. Yes, even if you're black and voting for him out of racial solidarity, or white and voting for him out of racial guilt. Apart from simple ignorance, there's simply no excuse.

‘Jane Roe’ releases video encouraging Americans to vote for life

CNA STAFF, Nov 4, 2008 / 11:26 am (CNA).- Norma McCorvey, the anonymous plaintiff in the Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion 35 years ago, has released a video encouraging Americans to cast their ballot for a candidate who will appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices.

In the video, produced by Just ONE Judge, McCorvey emphasizes the importance of today’s election as the next president’s Supreme Court nominations will likely have far-reaching effects on life issues. “This is the first time I’ve felt really had a voice in what was going on in terms of really reversing the decision of the Supreme Court,” said McCorvey. “I’m proud to be pro-life now rather than pro-abortion.”

According to a press release from Just ONE Judge, McCorvey began speaking out against abortion nearly ten years ago after a conversion to Christianity.

Just ONE Judge, a non-partisan, non-denominational group, is working to educate voters and is asking them to support candidates who support the nomination of Supreme Court Justices who are pro-life. In McCorvey’s video, the group emphasizes the importance of each individual’s vote for life and encourages voters to sign an online petition which will be presented to the new U.S. president and Senate to demonstrate that citizens are passionate about life issues.

Monday, November 03, 2008

"We Will Be Judged," Says Bishop Aquila

Presides at "40 Days" Closing in Fargo

FARGO, North Dakota, NOV. 3, 2008 ( Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo marked the completion of the 40 Days for Life campaign in his diocese with a reflection on the Final Judgment.

"Judgment is real, just as heaven and hell are real,” the bishop said at the Mass on Sunday at the Cathedral of St. Mary in Fargo. “When the soul separates from the body and comes before God, we will be judged on how we lived. It’s important to understand the reality of that judgment.”

Since Sept. 24, hundreds of volunteers fasted and prayed for an end to abortion in conjunction with similar campaigns in more than 170 cities across the nation. Volunteers also prayed in one-hour shifts, 24-hours-a-day outside the only abortion facility in the state.

Bishop Aquila urged the nearly 200 people in attendance at the closing Mass to reflect upon the four last things and how they apply to the 40 Days for Life effort.

"An intrinsic evil is anything that is always and at every time wrong -- that can never be seen as a ‘good,’” he noted.

He said abortion, contraception, premarital sex, same-sex acts and the taking of innocent human life during war are all intrinsic evils: “No society, and no person if he is Catholic, can ever support an intrinsic evil nor can he or she ever vote for someone who supports intrinsic evil. It is important to understand that, and to understand that truth especially in the upcoming election.

"Because, yes, all of us will be judged by how we vote. And, yes, there are many Catholics with erroneous consciences who have made prudential judgments that are wrong and have consistently made prudential judgments that are wrong.

"Either they do not fully understand the teaching of the Church or they choose to ignore that teaching and they choose an evil, and an intrinsic evil.”

US Bishops Praised for Courageous Words

More Than 50 Prelates Speak Out for Life and Family

FRONT ROYAL, Virginia, NOV. 3, 2008 ( There's a new wind blowing in the college of bishops, and it's strong and courageous, says the director of Human Life International.

Father Thomas Euteneuer drew attention to the more than 50 bishops who have issued pro-life voting guidelines in this election year in his weekly newsletter, published Friday.

"Faithful Catholics in the United States have been both stunned and gratified by the recent show of episcopal strength in dealing with the heretical nonsense of 'Catholics' in public life who clearly misrepresent the Church’s teaching on vital issues," he said. "The trend is truly heartening. Let's pray that it continues."

Islam: Muslims pin hopes on Vatican interfaith talks

Rome, 3 Nov. (AKI) - Muslim scholars due to meet Pope Benedict XVI and Vatican officials in Rome on Tuesday hope the landmark talks will help defuse continuing tensions between Islam and Christianity. Milanese imam Yahya Pallavicini is part of the delegation of Muslim scholars taking part in the first round of interfaith talks with the Vatican.

"In the Islamic world, there are high hopes that the talks will present a great opportunity for dialogue,"Pallavicini, vice-president of the Islamic Religious Community in Italy , told Adnkronos International (AKI).

Closed-door talks are taking place on Tuesday on 'Love of God and Love of One's Neighbour' and on 'Human Dignity and Mutual Respect' on Wednesday.

The Vatican is keen to discuss the question of religious freedom in Muslim countries, although this is not a precondition for dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Taurand, the Catholic Church's top interfaith official, told French daily La Croix.

On Thursday, the Pope will receive participants which will conclude with a public discussion at Rome's Gregorian University and the release of a concluding statement.

Eleventh Hour Election Alert

Father John Corapi, SOLT

Please read this and forward to all your loved ones, friends, and anybody who may not understand what is at stake!

Fr. Corapi produced a half hour video today that all Catholics (and Americans) should see. It expounds upon what Bishop Rene H. Gracida just said boldly in a recent radio spot. (He is the Bishop that ordained Fr. Corapi a Deacon).

"This is Bishop Rene H. Gracida, reminding all Catholics that they must vote in this election with an informed conscience. A Catholic cannot be said to have voted in this election with a good conscience if they have voted for a pro-abortion candidate. Barack Hussein Obama is a pro-abortion candidate."

Please see the homepage if you are a radio station wishing to broadcast this.

Due to YouTube's limit of 10 minutes, the video was posted in Three parts - they can All be viewed below. Make sure to send this link to your friends and family!

Eleventh Hour Election Alert - Part 1

Eleventh Hour Election Alert - Part 2

Eleventh Hour Election Alert - Part 3