Friday, January 30, 2009

Putting Our Money on the Truth



InsideCatholic.com
by Marjorie Campbell
1/30/09

In 2001, as the full breadth of the sexual abuse scandal in the U.S. Catholic Church hit the pews, disbelief turned to outrage at our parish, St. Ignatius in San Francisco. Everyone demanded, "How did this happen?"

Fingers pointed at the bishops, and their long lax handling of clerical abusers with counseling, penance, transfer, and avoidance. In fairness, the prelates had no greater expertise in the pathology of sex abusers than their counterparts in the secular world. But this gave little comfort to lay Catholics, who rightfully held the Body of Christ to a standard that precluded the life-destroying sexual manhandling of innocent children.

Despite our then-Archbishop William Levada's leadership in advocating a new "zero tolerance" policy, our pastoral council opted to support parish members who "as a matter of conscience . . . are unable to donate to the Archbishop's Annual Appeal." I quit the parish at that point, stunned at the council's refusal to promote community; support the archbishop's valiant efforts to identify abusers, impose canonical sanctions, and aid abuse victims; and maintain diocesan services to the greater San Francisco community.

Now, as President Barack Obama begins to deliver on his promise of a brave new world of abortion rights, I think I may have been wrong. The new administration supports the lifting of all protections for the unborn, with full support from prominent lay Catholics, like Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Joseph Biden, and the acquiescence of two-thirds of our bishops. Maybe, after all, the St. Ignatius Pastoral Council had it right.

How do pro-lifers respond faithfully and effectively to the Church's next crisis: the abortion scandal? Like the sexual abuse crisis that festered for decades, effectively unattended by individual bishops and the USCCB, the new scandal has yet to bring our bishops and pastors into a unified voice of opposition. Their unwillingness to provide a strong voice of guidance in the public forum was evident in the wording of "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship" -- a document that, in its application, provided cover for those who would clear the way for Obama.

Time has run out; the abortion scandal has hit the United States Catholic Church full force. While passive episcopal leadership has always been with us, like the sexual abuse scandal, its consequences are now becoming a grim reality.

Consider the scope and content of our current abortion scandal -- outlined, for example, in the "Planned Parenthood Wish List" and Freedom of Choice Act. Some features worth noting:

Federalized redefinition of abortion from a life-terminating interference in a woman's body to a "medical procedure" available by right.
Abandonment of any legal rights or protections for an unborn child, including all protections against fetal pain during the procedure and against a mother for assault (such as through the use of fetus-harming drugs and excessive alcohol).
Massive increases in both domestic and international funding of abortion providers, along with U.S. international advocacy to dehumanize the unborn throughout the world.
Elimination of conscience exceptions for those who object to abortion in a broad range of institutions (like Catholic hospitals), professions (physicians and nurses, etc.), and service jobs.
Elimination of informed consent laws that advise women of the emotional, medical, and practical consequences of abortion.
Use of tax dollars to subsidize and pay for abortions on parity with any other medical procedure.

What, then, are lay Catholics to do? While promises of increased abortion funding are fulfilled, we sit side by side in the pew with sacrament-receiving lay leaders who not only make this slaughter a reality, but take huge donations from the abortion industry itself. How can we motivate our Church and clergy to address this scandal with the same level of commitment that brought the abuse scandal to remedy?

The St. Ignatius Pastoral Council set an effective example: The time has come for pro-life Catholics to put our money on the teaching. It is notable that, once St. Ignatius parishioners began their financial strike against the archdiocese, Archbishop Levada responded as the good shepherd he is: hearing and replying to their objections, devoting sermons and articles in the San Francisco Catholic newspaper to the remedial action being taken, and guiding his pastors to deal openly, honestly, and fully with the scandal from the pulpit. The parishioners' strategy, in short, worked.

Just as with the sex-abuse crisis,many of our spiritual leaders have delayed and avoided joining the fight against abortion out of alleged concerns for church unity. Conflict is uncomfortable for many people -- and, particularly, for many clergy. The clerical culture frequently avoids threats to Church teaching on the theory that truth will (eventually) prevail. Confrontation also places at risk the financial support the Church receives from high profile, dissenting Catholics. "You don't want to alienate these people," one priest warned me, "they often are very generous to the Church."

So how do we pro-life Catholics learn from the abuse crisis and remain engaged with pastors and bishops who do not share our urgency on the abortion issue? Here are three options:

1. Divert all parish and diocesan contributions to pro-life ministries until your local pastor and bishop make unequivocally clear the pro-life teaching of the Church. This strategy worked for lay Catholics determined to motivate their clergy to unambiguous action in the sex-abuse crisis. In pro-life advocacy and service, any number of servants to the Church's pro-life teaching could readily benefit from increased donations, including religious orders like Priests for Life or Sisters of Life and hands-on lay programs like The Nurturing Network.

2. Demand transparency regarding donations from organizations and prominent Catholics advocating and supporting unrestricted abortion. Financial transparency within parishes and dioceses, like transparency at Catholic schools and institutions, provides a critical safeguard against the acceptance of donations derived in direct opposition to the Church's teachings.

As Lisa Correnti and Deal W. Hudson recently exposed, the abortion lobby gives major contributions to a number of prominent lay Catholic politicians who in turn support government funded, unrestricted abortion. If this same lobby, or its donors, is passing funds to the parish or the diocese, objection and demands to return such funds might prove effective. Both pastors and bishops have broad discretion to reject funding from unacceptable sources, which surely should include money derived from the abortion lobby. Calls for increased financial transparency began with the sexual abuse crisis, and might appropriately continue with respect to the emerging abortion scandal.

3. Restrict all donations to parish or diocesan Respect Life programs. Restricting a donation binds a non-profit to use the funds in the manner specified by the giver; that organization cannot apply the funds to general operations or other non-specified purposes. Churches and dioceses, like most non-profits, strongly prefer to receive unrestricted donations, so restricting a gift for use in pro-life programming might well draw the attention and concern of pastors and bishops.
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Pope's Outreach Unfairly Portrayed

Catholic League
January 30, 2009

Catholic League president Bill Donohue commented today on the controversy over the pope’s decision to reach out to the St. Pius X Society:

“Whenever the media distort a story, either willfully or out of ignorance, it generates skewed commentary. The latest example is what happened following the announcement that Pope Benedict XVI was seeking reconciliation with the St. Pius X Society. News reports quickly surfaced that the pope had welcomed back a Holocaust-denying bishop. Nonsense.

“Here are the facts. The pope didn’t reach out to any one member of this group—he lifted the excommunication that had been imposed in 1988 on the collectivity. Those bishops, including the one who entertains loopy and wholly discredited views on the Holocaust, are not fully reinstated in the Catholic Church, and may never be. What the pope did was the first step toward full communion. As the New York Times correctly said on January 28, this was ‘a step toward the men’s full restoration to the church, but their status has yet to be determined.’ (My emphasis.)

“So what will it take for these bishops to get reinstated? The pope said it best: ‘I hope my gesture is followed by the hoped-for commitment on their part to take the further steps necessary to realize full communion with the Church, thus witnessing true fidelity, and true recognition of the magisterium and the authority of the pope and of the Second Vatican Council.’ There is no way to read that other than to conclude that to be fully reinstated in the Catholic Church, all those who have passed the first test must now clear the big hurdle: either accept what the Catholic Church teaches or remain on the sidelines. And what the Church teaches, among other things, is the necessity of respecting our Jewish brethren.

“None of the media distortions of this issue excuses those in the Jewish community who have lashed out at the pope. They should know better. Is their commitment to good relations with Catholics so thin that it can wither because of something like this? We certainly hope not.”

Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for February

VATICAN CITY, 30 JAN 2009 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for February is: "That the pastors of the Church may always be docile to the action of the Holy Spirit in their teaching and in their service to God's people".

His mission intention is: "That the Church in Africa may find adequate ways and means to promote reconciliation, justice and peace efficaciously, according to the indications of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops".

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Twenty-four hours of nonstop prayer for peace in the Holy Land

» 01/29/2009 14:55
HOLY LAND

On January 31, in more than 400 cities around the world, prayer services and Masses will be held for an international day of intercession for peace. Celebrations will also be held at the basilica of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, and at Holy Family parish in Gaza.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - Twenty-four hours of prayer for peace in the Holy Land. On January 31, in more than 400 cities around the world, Eucharistic celebrations, adoration, and prayer services are scheduled for the "international day of intercession for peace."

The initiative involves individuals, groups, religious orders, and associations in Europe, the United States, South America, Africa, and Australia. Hour by hour, the celebrations will pass from the faithful in one city to another, in places like Rome, New York, and Krakow. Small towns will also be involved, like dioceses in Peru and Mozambique.

The initiative will also be observed at the parish of the Holy Family in Gaza, where a Mass is scheduled to take place at 1 p.m. local time. At 5:30 a.m. local time, the basilica of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem will begin the 24 hours of prayer at the altar of Calvary.

The organizers also highlight the participation of Cardinal Raffaele Farina, prefect of the Vatican apostolic library, who on the morning of the 31st will celebrate the Mass with the Salesian community of the Vatican printing office.

The international day of intercession for peace is promoted by four associations: "Adunanza eucaristica," "Adorazione perpetua," the apostolate “Youth for Life" and the national association "Papa boys."

The religious orders participating in the initiative include the Consolata Missionaries, the Congregation of the Missionaries of the Most Precious Blood, and many parishes of the Salesians, who will celebrate the feast day of their founder, Saint John Bosco, on the 31st.

In order to help the initiative reach as many people as possible all over the world, the organizers have also created a Facebook page entitled "We want peace in the Holy Land."

Lion cub greets pope with a roar in the Vatican

Belleville News-Democrat
News - State/Nation/World
Thursday, Jan. 29, 2009

The Associated Press

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI has been greeted by an unusual guest during his weekly audience at the Vatican: a feisty lion cub.

The beast was brought to the pontiff in the Vatican's Paul VI hall on Wednesday as part of a performance by members of the Medrano Circus. An amused Benedict looked on as jugglers in sparkling costumes performed. He got up when the lion cub was carried closer so he could pat it.

The lion's response: a roar, which drew laughter from the Vatican audience.


In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI smiles at a growling lion cub held by an acrobat of the Medrano Circus during the pontiff's general audience, in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2009. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, HO) EDITORIAL USE ONLY - AP

CLICK FOR MORE PHOTOS

AP Video Link: Lion cub greets pope with a roar in the Vatican

Pope reacts to uproar over a Holocaust denier

International Herald Tribune
By Rachel Donadio
Published: January 29, 2009

ROME: Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday addressed for the first time the uproar over his decision to rehabilitate a Holocaust-denying bishop, expressing solidarity with Jews and strongly condemning Holocaust denial.

In his weekly audience with the public on Wednesday, Benedict said he "renewed with love" his "full and indisputable solidarity" with Jews, whom he called "our brothers of the first covenant."

He added that he had repeatedly visited Auschwitz, the location of the "brutal massacre of millions of Jews, innocent victims of blind racial and religious hatred," and said that the Holocaust "should be a warning for everyone against forgetting, denying or diminishing its significance."

But tensions remained, a day after Israel's highest religious body sent a letter to the Vatican asking to postpone an annual bilateral meeting and voicing "sorrow and pain" at the pope's decision to welcome the bishop back into the fold.

On Saturday, the pope revoked the excommunication of four schismatic bishops from a traditionalist sect, including Bishop Richard Williamson, who in an interview broadcast in Sweden last week and widely available online said he believed that no more than 300,000 Jews perished during World War II, none of them in gas chambers.

Oded Wiener, the director general of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, praised the pope's comments on Wednesday as "a giant step forward" and "an extremely important statement, not only for the Jewish people, but also for all the world."

But on Tuesday, the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day, Wiener sent a letter to the Vatican saying that unless the bishop issued a public apology and recanted his "deplorable statements," it would be "very difficult for the Chief Rabbinate of Israel to continue its dialogue with the Vatican as before."

The letter said it would be wiser to postpone an annual meeting between the rabbinate and a small group of Vatican officials, scheduled to be held in Rome in early March.

The rabbinate's letter was addressed to Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the president of the Commission for Religious Relations With Jews, who said in an earlier interview that he had not been consulted about the pope's decision to revoke the excommunications of the four bishops.

On Wednesday, the secretary of the commission, the Rev. Norbert Hofmann, said that "no definite decision" had been made about the scheduled meeting. He said Cardinal Kasper had conveyed the message to the highest authorities at the Vatican.

Wiener said the rabbinate was awaiting a response from Cardinal Kasper before determining how to proceed with the scheduled meeting.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said he hoped that "the difficulties expressed" by the rabbinate could lead to "further and deeper reflection."

He added that he believed that the pope's message should be "more than sufficient" in answering concerns about the pope's and the Vatican's position on the Holocaust.

In his remarks, the pope said that the Holocaust should teach "new generations" that "only the difficult path of listening and dialogue, love and pardon" can lead to "fraternity and peace in truth."

The Israeli ambassador to the Vatican, Mordechay Lewy, said he welcomed the pope's remarks about the Holocaust and called them "instrumental in shaping the parameters of the existing and future relations between Jews and Catholics."

He said the current controversy did not affect relations between Israel and the Vatican, nor did he think they would affect discussions under way for the pope to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories this spring.
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Exclusive Interview: Leading Vatican Prelate Says Document of US Bishops Partly to Blame for Election of “Most Pro-Abortion President”

Also says Bishops’ Catholic News Service needs to be given "some new direction"

By Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

ROME, January 28, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A document of the US Catholic Bishops is partly to blame for the abandonment of pro-life teachings by voting Catholics and the election of the “most pro-abortion president” in US history, one of the Vatican’s highest officials said in an interview with LifeSiteNews.com.

Archbishop Raymond Burke, the prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, named a document on the election produced by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops that he said “led to confusion” among the faithful and led ultimately to massive support among Catholics for Barack Obama.

The US bishops’ document, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” stated that, under certain circumstances, a Catholic could in good conscience vote for a candidate who supports abortion because of "other grave reasons," as long as they do not intend to support that pro-abortion position.

Archbishop Burke, the former Archbishop of St. Louis Mo. and recently appointed head of the highest ecclesiastical court in the Catholic Church, told LifeSiteNews.com that although “there were a greater number of bishops who spoke up very clearly and firmly ... there was also a number who did not.”

But most damaging, he said, was the document “Faithful Citizenship” that “led to confusion” among the voting Catholic population.

“While it stated that the issue of life was the first and most important issue, it went on in some specific areas to say ‘but there are other issues’ that are of comparable importance without making necessary distinctions.”
Archbishop Burke, citing an article by a priest and ethics expert of St. Louis archdiocese, Msgr. Kevin McMahon, who analysed how the bishops’ document actually contributed to the election of Obama, called its proposal “a kind of false thinking, that says, ‘there’s the evil of taking an innocent and defenceless human life but there are other evils and they’re worthy of equal consideration.’

“But they’re not. The economic situation, or opposition to the war in Iraq, or whatever it may be, those things don’t rise to the same level as something that is always and everywhere evil, namely the killing of innocent and defenceless human life.”

Archbishop Burke also cited the work of the official news service of the US Catholic Bishops’ Conference, that many pro-life observers complained soft-pedalled the newly elected president’s opposition to traditional morality.

“The bishops need to look also at our Catholic News Service, CNS, they need to review their coverage of the whole thing and give some new direction, in my judgement,” he said.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

An Interview with Deal Hudson, Part I: The Pro-Life Legacy of George W. Bush

Wednesday January 28, 2009
By John Jalsevac

January 28, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Deal Hudson is the director of InsideCatholic.com, director of the Morley Institute for Church & Culture, the former publisher and editor of CRISIS Magazine, a Catholic monthly published in Washington, DC, and the author of seven books. His articles and comments have been published in many newspapers and magazines, including The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Washington Times, Los Angeles Times, and the National Review. He served as director of Catholic outreach for George Bush’s 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns. He also assisted with presidential candidate John McCain’s campaign.

In Part I of our interview with Hudson, he responds to questions about the pro-life and pro-family legacy of former president George W. Bush. In Part II, which will be published tomorrow, he addresses questions about the pro-life and pro-family movements during the Obama administration and into the future.

Q: What is your general impression of the last 8 years, particularly in regards to President Bush’s contributions to the pro-life and pro-family cause?

A: No president has accomplished more for the pro-life cause than George W. Bush. He kept all his promises that he made in the 2000 campaign, specifically to Catholics who supported him and worked for him. He declared himself a pro-life, culture of life president in his first televised message to the nation when he addressed the stem cell debate. His decision on stem-cells wasn’t perfect but he did use the opportunity of that televised speech to tell the nation that he was a pro-life president, which was to his credit.

What a lot of people don’t realize about the two terms of the Bush administration is that his pro-life initiatives were not just legislative, not just policy-driven, they were personnel driven. And when you look at the staff that was put in place in crucial departments like Health and Human Services and the Justice Department, the people that were put in these positions transformed the culture of the government that was left them by the Clintons. And so you had appointees with pro-life convictions who were found throughout the administration, and made a huge difference in our government and in the impact of the presidency on the culture.

Look at the fact that there was a marked drop in abortions in between 2000 and 2006, to a level of 1974 in this country. And that’s a tribute not only to President Bush, but to a great extent to him, because when a leader of a nation says that life is precious and that life should be protected, that gives heart to a lot of people who are in the middle and who aren’t sure which way to go. That kind of leadership helps those people go in the direction of life. And of course that’s the issue with the Obama presidency.

On the issue of marriage, the President spoke out against gay “marriage” on a number of occasions. He didn’t get aggressively behind a marriage amendment, because prudentially he knew it couldn’t be passed. But he did let his views be known, and he did give his personal backing to block gay “marriage” in-state.

From the point of view of the life and family and marriage, I think Bush gets an ‘A.’

Q: What do you think some of his most noteworthy pro-life and pro-family accomplishments were?

A: I think helping support and signing the three bills that came through Congress. The faith-based initiative was important because it made Church-related social services – not just the big national networks, but local regional networks – it made them more powerful because they received funding which before had only gone to institutions like Catholic Charities, or some Washington-based charity. So actually bringing in apostolates from cities and regions around the country and showing them how to write grants and how to receive more support. I think that was very important in pursuing his fundamental respect for the role of religion and culture of life.
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01/28/2009 - Second Perpetual Rosary for the Obama Administration

From Dr. Jeffrey Mirus, President, Trinity Communications, comes the following prayer request:

Catholic Culture Insights

In yesterday's Insights message, I forgot to mention that we had opened a second perpetual Rosary for President Obama. The first one is filled up on Monday.

If you wish to participate in these prayers that the Obama Administration will be animated by an authentic understanding of the Good, please sign up for a time slot at Prayers for the President, II.

This around-the-clock Rosary campaign will run for 30 days.
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Read Scripture as the 'Word of the Holy Spirit,' Pope Benedict teaches

Vatican City, Jan 28, 2009 / 12:38 pm (CNA).- Commenting on Saint Paul’s Pastoral Letters at the Wednesday general audience, Pope Benedict XVI warned Christians not to read Scripture as “a historical curiosity,” but rather, as “the Word of the Holy Spirit.”

In his address to the 8,000 people gathered in the Paul VI Hall this morning, Benedict XVI spoke of how St. Paul emphasized the need to read Sacred Scripture "as 'inspired by' and proceeding from the Holy Spirit" in his pastoral letters, two to Timothy and one to Titus.

These Letters, the Holy Father said, refer to a situation in which "certain erroneous and false doctrines had arisen, such as the attempt to present marriage as something bad. This concern remains current today because Scripture is sometimes read as a historical curiosity and not as the Word of the Holy Spirit, in which we can hear the voice of the Lord Himself and perceive His presence in history."

Faithfulness to the deposit of faith handed on by the apostles is also insisted on in these three Letters, the Pope said. “This so-called ‘deposit’ is the criterion of faithfulness to the announcement of the Gospel," he explained. According to St. Paul, Scripture and Tradition are seen as the "firm foundation laid by God" for the life of the Church.

Built upon this “firm foundation,” the Holy Father said, St. Paul teaches strongly and decisively that the mission of the Church is universal.
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Mother of 12 shares photo journal from National March for Life

Pro-life mom documents crowds at March for Life


Washington DC, Jan 28, 2009 / 06:27 am (CNA).- Becoming frustrated with the lack of media coverage of the National March for Life, writer and mother of 12, Barbara Curtis decided to create a photo journal on her blog to document the nearly 300,000 people defending the rights of the unborn.

The Virginia-area mother has released 477 photos displaying the diverse races, ages and religions of the pro-life movement on her blog website.

“The annual March for Life is the most under-reported event in the nation,” she explains on her blog. “This is my fourth year redressing the lack of Dinosaur Media coverage with an online photo journal. If a picture says a thousand words, then people can see the truth about Pro-Lifers here: a dazzlingly diverse movement filled with youth, vitality and joy.”

She also recalls 2007 and 2008, when the number of supporters was nearly 200,000. Prior to the recent march, “we wondered what would happen in 2009 - two days following the inauguration of the most proudly pro-abortion president in this sad episode of our nation's history. This year there were 300,000!”

On the site, MommyLife.net, those who attended the March last Thursday in Washington, D.C. can find photos of their groups. “I stood on a column in front of the Department of Labor for 2 1/2 hours shooting over 700 pictures. I have cut them to 477 - preserving such a large number for the sake of documentation and so that marchers can find their groups.”

Along with being active in the pro-life movement, Curtis is also a writer and cares for 12 children ranging from 8 to 39. Her three youngest children are adopted and have Down’s Syndrome like one of their older brothers. She explained to CNA, “While I’m old enough to be a grandmother - and do have 12 grandchildren so far - I am energized and excited about the younger generations, so being at the March with so many young people gives me great hope for the future!”

To view photos of the 2009 March for Life, visit: http://picasaweb.google.com/BarbarasMommyLife/MarchForLife2009

Pope responds to Israeli rabbis

» 2009-01-28 12:55
Jewish authorities threaten to sever ties

(ANSA) - Vatican City, January 28 - Pope Benedict XVI acted quickly on Wednesday to counter a threat from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel to indefinitely sever relations with the Vatican over his decision to lift the excommunication for a traditionalist bishop who continued to deny the existence of the Holocaust.

The move was announced by the Chief Rabbinate director general, Oded Weiner, who also said that a March 2-4 meeting in Rome with the Catholic Church's Commission for Religious Relations with Jews had been cancelled.

At the center of the dispute is British-born Bishop Richard Williamson, one of four traditionalist bishops whose excommunications were lifted Saturday. Williamson, a member of the ultra-conservative Society of Saint Pius X, recently reiterated his belief that there were no gas chambers and only 300,000 Jews died in the Holocaust, not six million.

News of the rabbinate's decision appeared first on the Jerusalem Post website and the pope quickly responded by reiterating his full support for his ''Jewish brothers'' and said the Holocaust must not be denied because ''the memory of the Shoah regenerates our humanity and helps us reflect on the unexpected power which evil can exert on the hearts of man''.

The importance of the Shoah, he added, cannot be denied nor diminished because ''violence committed against even one man is violence against all men''.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardo expressed his hope that the pope's words would be ''more than sufficient for anyone who had any doubts over the views of the Holy Father and the Church'' on the Holocaust.

He added that he also hoped that this will be sufficient to avoid any break in relations between the Holy See and the Rabbinate.
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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Pope Shoah record 'unequivocal'

» 2009-01-27 16:00

Vatican Radio recalls Benedict's statements amid denier row

(ANSA) - Vatican City, January 27 - Vatican Radio on Tuesday defended Pope Benedict XVI's ''unequivocal'' record on the Shoah amid a row over a bishop who was rehabilitated despite being a Holocaust denier.

As the controversy rumbled on, the head of the Yad Vashem memorial to victims of the Holocaust in Jerusalem told ANSA that the Vatican should have distinguished ''clearly'' between Bishop Richard Williamson and the other three bishops whose excommunication was lifted Saturday.

The Vatican should have said that Williamson ''is not worthy to serve as a guide or hold high holy office,'' Avner Shalev said.

However, Shalev said he did not think the row would affect Benedict's planned visit to Yad Vashem as part of his trip to the Holy Land in the spring.

Vatican Radio, in a long feature marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, recalled Benedict's visit to Auschwitz in 2006 when the German pope asked how God could have permitted ''this endless slaughter, this triumph of evil''.

It also cited the pope's comments last November on 'Kristallnacht', the anti-Jewish pogrom in Germany and Austria in 1938 that heralded the Nazi's programme to exterminate the Jews.

Speaking on the 70th anniversary of 'the Night of Broken Glass' - a reference to the windows of thousands of Jewish businesses and synagogues that were smashed by the Nazis - the pope said: ''I still feel pain over what happened in that tragic circumstance, whose memory should serve to ensure that similar horrors are never repeated and so that we strive - on every level - against any form of anti-Semitism and discrimination''.

The Vatican broadcaster also recalled visits to Auschwitz and Cologne Synagogue in 2005.

On all these occasions, it said, the pope had used ''unequivocal words'' which condemned the ''unheard-of crime'' produced by ''insane racist ideology''.

The Vatican has been hit by a barrage of criticism since Benedict rehabilitated Williamson, who recently reiterated his belief that there were no gas chambers and only 300,000 Jews died in the Holocaust, not six million.

On Monday the head of the Italian bishops, Msgr Angelo Bagnasco, condemned Williamson's statements as ''unfounded and unmotivated'' while the Vatican daily, l'Osservatore Romano, said Williamson's comments were ''grave, upsetting (and) unacceptable,'' repeating the Church's teachings against anti-Semitism.
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From Vatican Radio are two Vatican Radio broadcasts marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day:

27/01/2009 14.06.00
RETURN TO AUSCHWITZ
We remember humanity's darkest hour through the words of horror and of hope expressed by Pope Benedict in his 2006 visit to the Nazi death camp...

27/01/2009 14.02.34
JANUARY 27, 2009
Return to Auschwitz - Remembering humanity's darkest hour through the words of horror and of hope expressed by Pope Benedict in his 2006 visit to the Nazi death camp. Seeds of Peace - how one man in Britain has made it his mission in life to educate tomorrow’s generations about the Holocaust so such genocide will never be repeated...
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Reconciliation with the SSPX?

From Jeff Mirus, President, Trinity Communications, comes this week's Catholic cultural insight:

Catholic Culture Insights - 01/27/2009

The news dominating the Church right now is Benedict XVI's lifting of the excommunication of the Traditionalist leaders of the Society of St. Pius X. The Holy Father made this significant gesture in the hope that full communion would soon follow. Here are the documents you need to understand what this does and does not mean:

Catholic World News: Vatican decree lifts excommunication of SSPX bishops
The Decree Itself: Congregation of Bishops Document Repealing Excommunications of SSPX
Response of SSPX: Letter of the Superior General of the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X
Pre-Analysis by Phil Lawler: Bishop Williamson, making trouble again
Post-Analysis by Jeff Mirus: Lifting of Excommunication: Mixed Feelings

Pope Benedict also stressed Christian unity during this past week, which is not insignificant since the SSPX has grave reservations about ecumenism. Future talks may clarify whether these reservations concern doctrine or only abuses. In any case, Benedict has made some important points in his talks On Seeking Christian Unity and Prayer for Unity and Reconciliation among Christians.

Also of note is the Church's increasingly aggressive use of the Internet as a tool for evangelization. Thus the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has made a wealth of documents on Catholic social teaching available on a new web site: The Social Agenda. And the Holy See has even opened up a major channel on YouTube: The Vatican on YouTube.
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Bishop Fellay's Apology for Holocaust Statements

"We Ask For the Forgiveness of the Supreme Pontiff"

MENZINGEN, Switzerland, JAN. 27, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the communiqué made public today by the superior-general of the Society of St. Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay, in which he apologizes for statements made by Bishop Richard Williamson, a member of the society, in which he denied the extent of the Holocaust.

On Saturday, the Pope lifted the excommunication of the four bishops ordained by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1988 without papal permission. Bishops Fellay and Williamson were among the four.

* * *

We have come to know of an interview given by Bishop Richard Williamson, a member of our Fraternity of St. Pius X, on Swedish television. In this interview he spoke of historical questions, in particular on the question of the genocide of the Jews by the Nazis.

It is evident that a Catholic bishop cannot speak with ecclesial authority if it is not a question of faith and morals. Our fraternity does not claim any authority over other questions. Its mission is the propagation and restoration of authentic Catholic doctrine, as found in the dogmas of the faith. It is for this that we are known, accepted and appreciated throughout the world.

With great sadness we acknowledge the extent to which the violation of this mandate has damaged our mission. The statements of Bishop Williamson do not reflect in any way the position of our society. For this, I have prohibited him, until further notice, from speaking publicly on these political and historical questions

We ask for the forgiveness of the Supreme Pontiff, and of all people of good will, for the dramatic consequences of this act. As we recognize how imprudent the statements were, we affirm with sadness that they have directly affected our fraternity by discrediting our mission.

This is not acceptable, and we declare that we will continue preaching Catholic doctrine and administering the sacraments of grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Menzingen, Jan. 27, 2009

Bishop Bernard Fellay
Superior General

[Translation by Karna Swanson]

Vatican newspaper: Lifting excommunications is example of Vatican II’s ‘medicine of mercy’

Catholic Culture
News Briefs

January 27, 2009

Far from representing a rejection of the Second Vatican Council, the lifting of the excommunications of four SSPX bishops last week is an example of the council’s spirit. Carlo Di Cicco, the newspaper’s subdirector, writes in the January 26-27 edition, “The reform of the council has not been totally applied, but it is already so consolidated in the Catholic Church that it cannot go into crisis with a magnanimous gesture of mercy-- inspired, moreover, in the new style of Church promoted by the council that prefers the medicine of mercy to that of condemnation.”

Source(s): these links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

Quando un gesto di riconciliazione diventa caso mediatico: Un copione sbagliato (L’Osservatore Romano)
Gesture With Lefebvrists Is No Change for Church (Zenit)

US dioceses join in nationwide anti-FOCA campaign

Catholic Culture
News Briefs

January 27, 2009

Catholic dioceses across the nation distributed postcards this weekend so that parishioners could readily urge their senators and representatives to oppose the Freedom of Choice Act. The Archdiocese of Denver, for example, distributed 150,000 postcards, and the Diocese of Fargo distributed 38,000. The US bishops’ postcard campaign will continue through February.

Source(s): these links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

National Pro-Life Postcard Campaign to Congress (USCCB)
Catholic bishops urge opposition to right-to-choice act (Denver Post)
Fargo parishioners urged to fight abortion bill (Fargo Forum)
Catholic Church Responds to Freedom of Choice Act (WTVW-TV)

Victory -- President Obama Strips Contraceptive Measure from Economic Stimulus Plan

In the face of a national campaign and pressure from pro-life and faith groups the democratic house leadership has withdrawn a plan to distribute $200 million worth of contraceptives to low income families.

Contact: Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, 202-547-1735, 540-538-4741 cell

WASHINGTON, January 27 /Christian Newswire/ -- This is a major victory for the pro-life movement in the battle with President Obama and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as pro-lifers work to defeat their radical pro-abortion agenda.

To view the previous news release from the Christian Defense Coalition condemning the proposal to include the disbursement of contraceptives as part of the economic stimulus package click here.

To hear/download a 40 second audio clip from Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, regarding this issue click here.

Gesture With Lefebvrists Is No Change for Church

Daily: Dedication to Vatican II and Dialogue With Jews Are Untouched

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 26, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is unwavering in his commitment to apply the Second Vatican Council, and lifting the excommunication of four traditionalist bishops in no way changes that, affirmed the Vatican's semi-official newspaper.

An article in L'Osservatore Romano laments an "invention of the press," pointing to some of the commotion that has surrounded Saturday's announcement that four bishops ordained by Marcel Lefebvre and belonging to the Society of St. Pius X had their excommunication lifted.

The leaders of the society contest parts of the Second Vatican Council.

Causing a further uproar, a November interview with one of the four prelates who has been reinstated, Bishop Richard Williamson, re-aired just days ago in which the bishop expressed his view that historical evidence denies the gassing of 6 million Jews in Nazi concentration camps. Hence, certain critics consider the lifting of his excommunication as an affront to Jewish-Catholic dialogue.

Vatican Radio, however, already clarified that his statements are a matter of "personal positions that cannot be shared and that do not affect in any way the pontifical magisterium and the positions of the Church solemnly declared on various occasions."

Regarding Vatican II, L'Osservatore Romano noted how the Pope's own comments from last weekend prove his continued adherence to it.
more...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Reactions to lifting of SSPX excommunications

Catholic Culture
News Briefs

January 26, 2009

Vatican Press Office director Father Federico Lombardi called the lifting of the excommunications of four bishops ordained by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1988 “great news that we expect to be a source of joy for the whole Church … It is a beautiful thing that the lifting of the excommunication occurred on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the announcement of the Second Vatican Council, in such a way that this fundamental event now cannot any longer be considered an occasion of tension but of communion.”

Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the Society of St. Pius X, declared, “We express our filial gratitude to the Holy Father for this gesture which, beyond the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X, will benefit the whole Church. Our Society wishes to be always more able to help the pope to remedy the unprecedented crisis which presently shakes the Catholic world, and which Pope John Paul II had designated as a state of ‘silent apostasy.’”

Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, was less enthusiastic; he told The New York Times that he had not been consulted, and emphasized the Italian daily La Repubblica that the "stupid" and "unacceptable" public remarks by Bishops Williamson, questioning the Holocaust, were completely unrepresentative of Catholic opinion.

There was negative reaction from the Jewish community because of Bishop William's recent comments. “We have no intention of interfering in the internal workings of the Catholic Church,” said the Israeli ambassador to the Holy See. “However, the eagerness to bring a Holocaust denier back into the Church will cast a shadow on relations between Jews and the Catholic Church.”

“The Pope must now make very, very clear that he condemns Holocaust denial,” said Shimon Samuels of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Paris. “After all, the Pope lived the Nazi period in his own flesh. He knows it on a personal basis and therefore he has a higher responsibility. And I believe that he must condemn Holocaust denial and not even countenance a member of his Church, a member of his inner council in fact, being a propagator of Holocaust denial.” An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman said that the decision would not affect the pontiff’s anticipated visit to Israel in May.

Other responses indicated concerns about the conservative theological inclinations of the SSPX, and the effects of reconciliation upon the wider Church. In France, Cardinal Jean-Marie Ricard of Bordeaux emphasized that the Pope's decision to lift the excommunications did not resolve the juridical status of the SSPX, which remains irregular. Instead, the French cardinal said, the move was "the beginning of the process of dialogue." Cardinal Ricard added that this process leading to full reconciliation "will undoubtedly be long."

The New York Times, citing the discontent of the dissident theologian Hans Küng, suggested that the Pope's move could prompt a separate schism. Kung claimed that reaching out to traditionalists the Pope “is alienating himself from the larger part of the Catholic Church and Christianity.”

Source(s): these links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

Lefebvre Group Step Hailed as Unity Week Success (Zenit)
Bishop's Response to Lifting of His Excommunication (Zenit)
Vatican: Cardinal slams bishop for Holocaust denial (AKI)
Yad Vashem blasts Pope's rehabilitation of Holocaust-denying bishop (Ha’artetz)
By Forgiving Traditionalists, the Pope Offends Jews (Time)
Damian Thompson: Pope Benedict is taking a huge risk in lifting the SSPX excommunications (Daily Telegraph)
Déclaration du Card. Ricard à propos de la levée de l'excommunication (French bishops' conference)
Healing Schism, Pope Risks Another (New York Times)
Vatican decree lifts excommunication of SSPX bishops (CWN, Jan. 24)

The National Catholic Reporter has also weighed in with reference to a compendium of articles on the subject:

Outcries follow papal decision to lift excommunications
By NCR Staff
Published: Jan. 26, 2009

The decision by Pope Benedict XVI to lift the excommunications of four traditionalist bishops have sparked unprecedented criticisms by Catholics and Jews among others. Some observers are saying this is a defining moment in the pope's four year papacy. Links to some of these stories, as well as statements on a variety of matters by one of the four bishops, Richard Williamson, are listed below.

More to come on NCRonline.org.

Breaking News: Top Vatican officials not consulted before controversial papal move
Pope Benedict's move is seen as gross error in judgment -- or worse, new Vatican direction
Breaking News: Jewish-Catholic crisis seen in bishop's rehabilitation
more...

If interested, see also commentary from Charles Johnson at Litte Green Footballs:

Video: Reinstated Bishop a Holocaust Denier - Update: Also a Truther
Religion Sun, Jan 25, 2009 at 11:56:48 am PST

This is a disgrace. Pope Benedict should rescind the reinstatement of Bishop Richard Williamson.
more...

Pope’s remission of the excommunication pronounced on bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre

DFW Catholic
January 26, 2009

VATICAN CITY, 24 JAN 2009 (VIS) - The Congregation for Bishops has published a decree signed by its prefect, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, and dated 21 January, concerning the Pope’s remission of the excommunication pronounced on four bishops consecrated by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1988.

The complete text of the decree is given below:

“In a letter of 15 December 2008 addressed to Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, president of the Pontifical Commission ‘Ecclesia Dei’, Bishop Bernard Fellay once again requested - also in the name of the other three bishops consecrated on 30 June 1988 - the removal of the excommunication ‘latae sententiae’ formally pronounced by a decree of the prefect of this Congregation for Bishops on 1 July 1988. In that letter Bishop Fellay affirmed, among other things, that ‘we continue firmly resolute in our desire to remain Catholics and to put all our strength at the service of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the Roman Catholic Church. We accept her teachings in a filial spirit. We firmly believe in the Primacy of Peter and in its prerogatives, and for this reason the current situation causes us much suffering’.

“His Holiness Benedict XVI - in his paternal compassion for the spiritual discomfort expressed by the parties concerned, because of the excommunication, and trusting in the commitment they expressed in the aforesaid letter to spare no efforts in examining outstanding questions through the requisite discussions with the authorities of the Holy See in order to reach a prompt, full and satisfactory solution to the original problem - has decided to reconsider the canonical position of Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta, which arose following their episcopal consecration.

“With this act it is hoped to consolidate reciprocal relations of trust, and to intensify and stabilise the relations of the Fraternity of St. Pius X with this Holy See. This gift of peace, coming at the end of the Christmas celebrations, also wishes to be a sign to promote the Universal Church’s unity in charity, and to remove the scandal of division.

“It is hoped that this step will be followed by the prompt attainment of full communion with the Church by the entire Fraternity of St. Pius X, thus demonstrating true faithfulness and true recognition of the Magisterium and authority of Pope with the sign of visible unity.

“On the basis of the powers expressly granted to me by the Holy Father Benedict XVI, and by virtue of this decree, I remit the sentence of excommunication ‘latae sententiae’ declared by this congregation on 1 July 1988 against Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta. At the same time I declare that, as of today’s date, the decree then issued is devoid of juridical effect”.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Associated Press Sun Jan 25, 9:54 AM ET
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In this picture made available by the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI flanked by youths from Catholic groups looks at a white dove freed during the Angelus prayer from his apartment window overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2009.
(AP Photo/Osservatore Romano, HO)

Pope underlines importance of Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Catholic World News (CWN)
Feature Stories

Vatican, Jan. 21, 2009 (CWNews.com) - During his public audience on January 21, Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) interrupted his series of Wednesday talks on the teachings of St. Paul to speak about the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and to encourage all Christians to join in prayer for an end to divisions among Christ's followers. The Pope will lead an ecumenical Vespers service at the Roman basilica of St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls on Sunday, January 25, to close the annual observance.

The Holy Father reminded the crowd in the Paul VI auditorium that the theme for this year's observance of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was drawn from Ezekiel: "That they may become one in your hand." He said that Christians must realize that unity among the faithful is "above all a gift of the Lord," for which believers must undertake "tireless and faithful prayer, escaping our own concerns and addressing ourselves to Jesus." All Christians should "respond generously" to this week's observance, the Pope continued, because full Christian unity "is linked to the very life and mission of the Church in the world."
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Holy Father emphasizes the importance of continuous conversion


Pope Benedict XVI

Vatican City, Jan 25, 2009 / 10:11 am (CNA).- Before reciting the Angelus at noon, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, which the Church celebrates today. The Pope stressed that Paul’s meeting with the Risen Christ "radically changed" the saint’s life.

"On the way to Damascus what happened to Paul is what Jesus calls for in today’s Gospel," the Pontiff said. "Saul converted because, thanks to divine light, he believed in the Gospel."

"This is his and our conversion: believing in the death and resurrection of Jesus and opening ourselves to the light of divine grace," he continued. "In that moment Saul understood that his salvation did not depend on good deeds performed in accordance with the Law, but in the fact that Jesus also died for him, the persecutor, and had risen."

Pope Benedict explained that converting means that Jesus has given himself up for each one of us. The Pope noted, "By putting my trust in the power of Jesus’ remission and letting myself be taken by His hand, I can escape the quick sands of pride and sin, lies and sadness, selfishness and false security, to find out and live the richness of his love."
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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Vatican official accuses Obama of 'arrogance'


A pro-life activist holds a sign in front of the US Supreme Court as he participates in the annual "March for Life"

Google News
8 hours ago

ROME (AFP) — A senior Vatican official on Saturday attacked US President Barack Obama for "arrogance" for overturning a ban on state funding for family-planning groups that carry out or facilitate abortions overseas.

It is "the arrogance of someone who believes they are right, in signing a decree which will open the door to abortion and thus to the destruction of human life," Archbishop Rino Fisichella was quoted as saying by the Corriere della Sera daily.

Fisichella is president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, one of a number of so-called pontifical academies which are formed by or under the direction of the Holy See.

"What is important is to know how to listen... without locking oneself into ideological visions with the arrogance of a person who, having the power, thinks they can decide on life and death," he added.

Obama signed the executive order cancelling the eight-year-old restrictions on Friday, the third full day of his presidency.
more...

House Republicans ask Obama to disavow ‘FOCA agenda’


The U.S. House of Representatives

Washington DC, Jan 23, 2009 / 05:48 am (CNA).- More than 100 Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed a letter to President Barack Obama asking that he withdraw his campaign pledge to sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) and other pro-abortion rights laws.

FOCA is legislation designed to protect abortion rights even if the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade is overturned. It threatens to abolish existing minimal state and federal restrictions on abortion and could even threaten the rights of Catholic hospitals to refuse to perform abortions.

The Republicans’ Jan. 21 letter, which was signed by House Republican Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) and 104 other House members, “respectfully urged” President Obama to withdraw his pledge to sign FOCA.

During his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, Obama told a July 2007 gathering of Planned Parenthood Action Fund “the first thing I'd do as president is to sign FOCA”

The letter from the Republicans claimed that “in one tragic act,” FOCA would “overturn virtually all pro-life laws nationwide.”

It also urged the president to refuse to support legislation that “incrementally enacts the FOCA agenda” by rescinding or weakening existing pro-life laws in a piecemeal fashion.
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At March, Black Pastor Warns Obama not to Preside over “Genocide” of American Blacks

WASHINGTON, DC, January 23, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The most well received speech at the March for Life this year was that of an African American pastor from Frederick Maryland. Pastor Luke Robinson began noting that the election of the first African American President of the United States was a fulfillment of “part” of the “Dream” of Dr. Marin Luther King Jr.

Speaking of the inauguration of the “first black President” of the United States, Pastor Robinson explained: “So many African Americans and other folks cried and shouted because the inauguration was part of the deferred dream come true.” But, he added, “we come here to deal with some unfinished business as it relates to the ‘dream’.”

Then, using Barack Obama’s own rhetoric, Pastor Robinson used the phrase “We need change now more than ever” which would accentuate the rest of his talk.

“We are calling on the President of Change, President Barack Obama,” he said, “to be an agent of change as it relates to the lives of over one million children who will be slaughtered in this, his first year as President, by a horrible practice called abortion and ‘a woman’s right to choose’.”

The most striking portion of Robinson’s speech came as he begged Obama not to preside over the genocide of African Americans. “We need change Mr. President because every day about 4000 babies die by abortion. Every day Mr. President, people with your ethnic background any my ethnic background die in astounding numbers. Abortion is the number one killer of African Americans in this country.”

“We make up about 12% of the population and about 34% of all abortions are black babies. In the last 36 years over 17 million African American babies have died by abortion alone. We need to change this picture. We need to stop this slaughter of the innocent preborn.

“Please Mr. President, be that agent of change that can commute the sentence of over 1400 African American children and over 3000 children from other ethnic groups sentenced to die every day in this country by abortion.”

“We need change and we need it now.”

“I pray with so many others,” he said, “that your administration will preside over the end to abortion and to the black genocide in America.”
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Friday, January 23, 2009

Pope Benedict, Obama Talk: Disagree on Abortion, Agree on Marriage

Newsmax
Thursday, January 22, 2009 5:33 PM

By: Jim Meyers

Pope Benedict XVI has communicated with Barack Obama twice since the Democrat won the White House — but the first message almost never got through.

The Pope telephoned Obama shortly after Election Day to congratulate him on his electoral success, but the Obama staffer receiving the call didn’t believe it was actually the Pontiff on the line and wouldn’t put the call through.

Benedict was eventually able to get through, however, and he and the president-elect had a “cordial” conversation mainly about cultural issues, according to a Bush administration source with close ties to the Vatican.

When the Pope brought up the subject of abortion, Obama said simply: “We agree to disagree.”

But the source said that Obama did agree with the Pope on the controversial issue of same-sex marriage, saying the two shared a common view that marriage should be only between a man and a woman.

Benedict again contacted Obama by sending him a telegram on Tuesday shortly before presidential inauguration.

“I offer cordial good wishes, together with the assurance of my prayers that Almighty God will grant you unfailing wisdom and strength in the exercise of your high responsibilities,” the Pope stated in the telegram.

“Under your leadership, may the American people continue to find in their impressive religious and political heritage the spiritual values and ethical principles needed to cooperate in the building of a truly just and free society.”

Such a society, the Pope said, must be “marked by respect for the dignity, equality and rights of each of its members, especially the poor, the outcast and those who have no voice.”

Obama reverses U.S. abortion-funding policy

USAToday
53m ago
From staff and wire reports

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Friday quietly ended the Bush administration's ban on giving federal money to international groups that perform abortions or provide information on the option.

Liberal groups welcomed the decision, while abortion rights foes criticized the president.

Known as the "Mexico City policy," the ban has been reinstated and then reversed by Republican and Democratic presidents since Ronald Reagan established it in 1984. Democrat Bill Clinton ended the ban in 1993, but Republican George W. Bush re-instituted it in 2001 as one of his first acts in office.

'ROE V. WADE': Thousands rally in Washington for annual march

FAITH & REASON: Abortion, stem cells: Are religious voices 'bystanders' in changing times?

A White House spokesman, Bill Burton, said Obama signed an executive order on the ban, without coverage by the media, late Friday afternoon. That was in contrast to the midday signings with fanfare of executive orders on other subjects earlier in the week.

1400 Flowers to be Placed in Front of White House Today in Honor of 1400 African American Children Slain Each Day Through Abortion

Contact: Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Christian Defense Coalition, 202-547-1735, 540-538-4741

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 /Christian Newswire/ -- A prayer vigil and memorial is to be lead by well known civil rights activist Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The Vigil will take place today, Friday Jan. 23 at 12:00 PM on the Pennsylvania side of the White House.

This event is part of a major pro-life witness challenging President Obama to stand for social justice and human rights for all Americans called the Birmingham Letter Project. See thebirminghamletterproject.com for more information.

The group of pro-life activists still plans to sidewalk chalk a pro-life message and display in front of the White House on Saturday Jan. 24 at 10:00 AM in spite of loosing a federal court case today and in spite of facing arrests.

For more information or interviews call:

Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney at 202.547.1735 Cell: 540.538.4741

President Obama Launches Abortion Bailout with Repeal of Mexico City Policy, Says SBA List President

"The abortion bailout has begun."

Susan B. Anthony List President Criticizes President Obama's Repeal of Pro-Life Mexico City Policy

Contact: Joy Yearout, Susan B. Anthony List, 703-380-6674, jyearout@sba-list.org

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 /Christian Newswire/ -- Today the president of the Susan B. Anthony List commented on President Barack Obama's anticipated executive order to repeal the pro-life Mexico City Policy:"President Obama campaigned on finding 'common ground' on abortion policy, but his first presidential decision to roll back the commonsense Mexico City Policy signals to American taxpayers that the abortion bailout has begun," said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. "It's unfortunate that President Obama has made subsidizing international abortion groups one of his first priorities, even as abortion numbers here at home are on the decline. America should respond to women's needs in developing countries with real assistance that also upholds their dignity, not by promoting or paying for abortions. I am disappointed by President Obama's decision to bypass the will of American taxpayers and promote the radical agenda of Planned Parenthood and the abortion lobby.

"Through the Susan B. Anthony List Stop the Abortion Bailout! Campaign (http://www.stoptheabortionbailout.com/), over 75,000 letters have been sent to the U.S. Senate advocating the preservation of federal abortion funding restrictions. The campaign's goal is to secure the 41 votes necessary to sustain a filibuster against measures promoting federal taxpayer funding of abortion.

President Reagan first established the pro-life Mexico City Policy in 1984. Named for the city where it was announced, the policy declared that American tax dollars would not fund nongovernmental organizations involved in performing or promoting abortions abroad. President Bill Clinton rescinded the policy his first day in office. President G.W. Bush reinstated the policy as his first executive order on January 22, 2001.

The Susan B. Anthony List is a nationwide network of Americans, over 152,000 residing in all 50 states, dedicated to mobilizing, advancing, and representing pro-life women in politics. Its connected Candidate Fund increases the percentage of pro-life women in the political process.

www.sba-list.org

Obama to Fund Abortion

Catholic League
January 23, 2009

News reports are that President Barack Obama will overturn restrictions on funding abortions overseas today. The Mexico City Policy, which denied federal funding of private organizations that perform and promote abortions, will be rescinded by executive order.

Catholic League president Bill Donohue addressed this decision today:

“Here we have a black president taking money from the taxpayers in a time of economic crisis and giving it to organizations—many of which are anti-Catholic—so they can spend it on killing non-white babies in Third World nations. And Obama is known as a progressive.

“Obama has said repeatedly that he is not pro-abortion, and some Catholics salivating for a job in his administration believe him. Yet he’s in office for only a few days and one of the first things he decides to do is fund abortion. That would be on a par with someone who said he was in favor of gun control and then provided funds to the NRA. Indeed, no one spends money to support that which he really abhors. In short, it’s time for the pro-abortion crowd to simply say that whatever reservations they may have about abortion (and some have none at all), they are outweighed by their overall support for it.

“Just last Monday, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops made public a letter it sent to Obama asking him to retain the Mexico City Policy. Obama has made his decision, and we hope every Catholic who is truly pro-life gets it.”

Obama Administration Quick to Exploit Women in Developing Nations Says Americans United for Life Action

PR Newswire via Yahoo! News - 2 hours, 1 minute ago
Featured Topics: Barack Obama Presidential Transition

To: POLITICAL EDITORS

Contact: Matthew Eppinette of AUL Action, +1-202-289-1479, matthew.eppinette@aulaction.org

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- It is widely reported that President Obama will today rescind the "Mexico City Policy," a rule that prohibited the use of taxpayer funds to promote abortion in other countries.

Under the Obama administration, taxpayer dollars will be given to organizations, such as the International Planned Parenthood Federation, that promote abortion around the world, including in countries where abortion is illegal.

Dr. Charmaine Yoest, President & CEO of AUL Action said, "What a terrible way to begin a new administration: with an abortion business bailout that will exploit women in developing countries for political ends. We should not export the tragedy of abortion to other nations, and we certainly shouldn't do so via the hard-earned dollars of American taxpayers."

Denise Burke, AUL Action's Vice President of Legal Affairs stated, "Pro-abortion organizations like the International Planned Parenthood Federation are actively working to impose radically pro-abortion laws on developing nations, showing no regard for the will of the people in these countries. This move is a significant step backwards in respecting the sovereignty of nations, in empowering women, and in protecting unborn."

Regarding the possibility that Congress may seek to further expand federal funding of international abortion providers, Daniel McConchie, AUL Action's Vice President for Government Affairs said, "We will oppose any legislation to expand the use of taxpayer funding to support abortion or abortion providers overseas. Any vote on this will issue that comes before Congress will be scored by AUL Action."

For more background on the Mexico City Policy see http://www.aul.org/mexico_city_policy

On January 16, 78 pro-life members of Congress sent a letter to then President-elect Obama and his transition team urging him to continue the Mexico City policy. The letter is available at
http://www.aul.org/xm_client/client_documents/misc_pdfs/Retain-Mexico-City-Policy.pdf

About AUL Action

AUL Action is the legislative arm of Americans United for Life (AUL). The first national pro-life organization in America, AUL has been committed to defending human life through vigorous judicial, legislative, and educational efforts at both the federal and state levels since 1971. In addition, AUL has been involved in every pro-life case before the Supreme Court since Roe v. Wade.

Media Contact
Matthew Eppinette
202-289-1479
matthew.eppinette@aulaction.org

SOURCE AUL Action

Benedict XVI : in the media, a voice in service of peace

YouTube

From the Vatican's YouTube Channel:

I think that the purpose of a communications tool like this one is to help build up a large family that knows no borders. One in which, with its variety of cultures and languages, all people are brothers and sisters. In this way they represent a force for peace. My wish to all those who are listening to me right now is that they may feel truly involved in this great dialogue of truth. As we know, in the world of communications, contrasting voices make themselves heard as well. That's why it's all the more important that this voice exists, a voice that really puts itself at the service of the truth, of Christ, and thus serves peace and reconciliation in the world.
© 2009 YouTube, LLC

"Benedict XVI: internet a new way to speak of God"

YouTube

From the Vatican's YouTube Channel:

So that the Church and its message continue to be present in the great aeropagus of social communications as defined by John Paul II and so that it is not a stranger to those spaces where numerous young people search for answers and meaning in their lives, you must find new ways to spread voices and images of hope through the ever-evolving communications system that surrounds our planet
© 2009 YouTube, LLC

Pope channel makes debut on YouTube



Vatican City, Jan 23, 2009 / 11:40 am (CNA).- Pope Benedict XVI has launched himself into the digital age today with the Vatican announcing that a YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/vatican dedicated to his activities and events at the Vatican is now online.

The Vatican’s announcement of its new partnership with Google’s YouTube coincides with the release of the Pope’s annual message for the World Day of Communications, which this year focuses on how to utilize new technologies to promote a culture of respect, dialogue and friendship.

Fr. Federico Lombardi, the director of the Holy See’s press office, described the Vatican’s YouTube Channel at a press conference today.

Currently, the Channel contains clips of Pope Benedict XVI delivering his Christmas Message and Blessing, the January 1 celebration of the World Peace Day and some segments of the Pope speaking about the advantages of new social technology. The footage for the clips is being provided by the Vatican Television Center (CTV) in conjunction with journalists and the web team of Vatican Radio (RV).

According to Fr. Lombardi, the new channel will be updated daily with one or two news pieces each day, none longer than two minutes.

Fr. Lombardi sees the launch of the Vatican Channel on YouTube as “a real and tangible example of the Church's commitment in the field of new technologies, to reach out to a global audience without regard for nationality or culture,” according to a Vatican press release.

Henrique de Castro, Managing Director of European Sales and Media Solutions for YouTube, who has helped with the launch of the new channel, expressed his pleasure at being able to partner with the Catholic Church. "We are honored that the Vatican has chosen to use the site to communicate with people across the world, and delighted that our community will have access to the words of the Pope on some of the most important issues facing the world today."

He also hailed today’s launch as a “landmark announcement” since it the first ever global religious institution to partner with YouTube.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Reuters Thu Jan 22, 4:07 PM ET
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Rev. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, leads a prayer during the March for Life anti-abortion rally in front of the US Supreme Court building in Washington, January 22, 2009.REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES)

Pro-life activists march on court


Veronica Halbur of Chicago prays in front of the Supreme Court with others protesting the court's Roe v. Wade decision.
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Call on Obama to 'save lives' by opposing pro-choice bills

The Washington Times
(Contact)
Friday, January 23, 2009

Legions of pro-life activists Thursday descended on the Mall for the annual March for Life, marking the 36th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in Roe v. Wade.

"There's a couple hundred thousand people here and we're psyched," said Michael Tiziani, 17, a member of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, which brought about 300 members to the event. Marchers said the crowd was about as large as those of previous protests, which drew about 250,000.

Nathaniel Dryer (left) and Richard Macas (right) from the Institute of the Incarnate Word in Chillum cheer with thousands of others during Thursday's Youth Rally and Mass for Life 2009 at the Verizon Center.

The crowd virtually stood in the footsteps of 1.8 million people who two days earlier came to the Mall to witness the inauguration of President Obama, who is pro-choice.

The march began at about 12:30 p.m. with a rally at the Mall near Fourth Street, then proceeded along Constitution Avenue, turning right on First Street toward the steps of the Supreme Court, where another rally was held.

Most marchers held mass-produced signs that said "We Choose Life" or "End Abortion Now," while others held more provocative signs such as "Your Mom Chose Life."

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Associated Press Wed Jan 21, 9:31 AM ET
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In this picture made available by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI, looks on at two lambs at the Vatican, Wednesday Jan. 21, 2009. The pontiff blessed two lambs whose wool will be shorn later this year to make a shawl for newly appointed archbishops to wear. The blessing Wednesday took place on the feast day of St. Agnes, a martyr of early Christianity who is often symbolized by a lamb. In the ritual, the pope blessed the animals, who were laying down in two baskets, each wearing a crown of flowers on its head. New archbishops receive the wool pallium on June 29. The pallium is a band of white wool decorated with black crosses that is a sign of pastoral authority and a symbol of the archbishops' bond with the pope.
(AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, HO)

Pope: Shrine Is Key to Europe's Christian Identity

Mary's Greatness Is in Her Availability to All

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 22, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI gave an improvised discourse on the Virgin Mary, in gratitude for receiving honorary citizenship of Mariazell, home of one of the most important Marian shrines in Europe.

This distinction was conferred on the Pope after Wednesday's general audience. Mariazell is the site of the Basilica of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, which houses a statue of Our Lady believed to be miraculous. For centuries, the town has been one of Europe's principal pilgrimage sites. Today, some 1 million pilgrims visit it annually.

The Holy Father spoke in German about being joyful "at being a citizen of Mariazell and at being able to live so close to the Mother of God," and he spoke to the others about Mary's role as "promoter of unity" between men.

The Pontiff last visited the shrine in September 2007, and he noted that "according to human foresight, in this life I will not be able to return to making a pilgrimage there physically, but now I live there truly and in this sense I am always present."
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Envoy Brings Pope's Aid and Closeness to Gaza

Says Solidarity Can Prepare the Way for Peace and Reconciliation

ROME, JAN. 22, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Aid from Benedict XVI was carried to Gaza on Wednesday by the apostolic delegate to Jerusalem, who visited and distributed help among the Catholic assistance centers.

"I visited the center of Gaza and saw much destruction," Archbishop Antonio Franco explained to SIR news agency.

He continued: "Nevertheless, outskirts have been the most damaged. For what I have seen, it looks like the Israeli withdrawal is about to be completed.

"We celebrated Mass in the Holy Family parish that was packed with faithful. I brought them the closeness, the prayers and the solidarity of Pope Benedict even through his personal aid aimed at relieving the suffering of those days.

"Solidarity is fundamental in this moment for it is a useful instrument for creating the conditions for peace and reconciliation."
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Election 2008 -- and the looming cultural crisis

RenewAmerica
January 22, 2009

By Joseph Pecar

The 2008 Election results portend monumental obstacles and setbacks to Catholics, evangelicals and other citizens working to preserve Judeo-Christian values within our culture — values such as respect for the dignity and sanctity of human life — values which are of such fundamental importance that they are guaranteed in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. In truth, it is upon these very values that our Country has developed into the freest, fairest, most productive, wealthiest and most powerful nation the World has ever known.

From our Country's inception, history confirms this wholesome aspect of our nation's moral life to be the very foundation of its success and greatness. As Theodore Roosevelt once counseled, "In the last analysis the all-important factor in national greatness is national character." Even earlier George Washington expounded on this truism, saying in his farewell address that "Christianity would be essential if the nation was to have moral character."

It is for this reason that many citizens see an urgent need to discover and eradicate the pre-Election factors that prompted the majority of people — including many good pro-life people who thought other factors more important — to actually vote for candidates who rabidly support Infanticide, Abortion, Physician-assisted Suicide, Euthanasia, Human Embryo destruction, genocide, and other "culture of death" undertakings which directly contravene Judeo-Christian values.

In the same manner that history proves moral rectitude to be the foundation for our Country's greatness, history also records examples where moral decay proved the downfall of nations and civilizations once considered invincible. The Roman Empire is perhaps the prime example, but the Aztecs are another startling example where the abomination of human sacrifice they practiced led to the demise of a civilization which otherwise had reached astounding levels of power and social, artistic and economic prominence. It is the possibility of this type of demise occurring in our country that has so many Americans fearful.

During the campaign Barack Obama made his pro-Abortion stance and Abortion related "changes" he envisions clearer than those for any of his other platform issues. Because Barack Obama won the Election, and because of the explicit post-Election pledges he made to groups such as Planned Parenthood, many now see our Country in grave danger of being riven by a looming crisis between "culture of life" and "culture of death" proponents.

Both religious and lay writers contend that what precipitated this crisis is the fact that many citizens have developed improperly informed consciences — consciences that allow them to embrace and support culture of death trappings, without feeling pangs of guilt. Resolving the crisis depends crucially on whether or not this is true.

Although the responsibility of cultivating "properly informed" consciences ultimately rests with each individual, success is always a function of access to reliable and trustworthy information. Overall, it is the Church's appointed and authoritative teachers — the Bishops — who bear the brunt of the responsibility of ensuring that all of the faithful have access to easily understood explications of the Church's culture of life doctrine.

Yet, prior to the Election, among 433 U.S. Bishops only 150 spoke up and explicitly declared the moral imperative of "not voting for candidates supporting or promoting the culture of death whenever alternative life-affirming candidates are available." Because of this, the most probable reason why the majority of voters support Obama may very well be laid at the feet of the majority of Bishops, who by remaining silent with regard to the practice of Infanticide, Abortion and other abominations, may have led voters to wrongly conclude that "such practices could not truly be evil, because if they were, surely most Bishops would not have remained silent."

What follows is an in-depth review and analysis of why the Election turned out as it did, the consequences of the outcome, an evaluation of factors that could have changed the results, and the urgent need for actions to stem the erosion of the moral fabric of the nation — those related to and not related to the Election.

As a first step let's examine the role the Bishops and its impact on culture of life issues. To begin with, it is right and just to recognize and pay homage to the long line of the successors to the Apostle's — Bishops who over centuries, and often at great peril, courageously obeyed Jesus' command to preach and teach the Word of God to all men. As a layman, to establish a verifiable notion of the teaching role of all Bishops, I'll quote what two early, canonized Saints had to say.

Echoing the Old Testament teaching of the prophet Jeremiah, in a commentary on the Gospel of John, Saint Cyril, a fourth century Bishop of Alexandria and a Doctor of the Church wrote, "Our Lord Jesus Christ has appointed certain men to be guides and teachers of the world and stewards of his divine mysteries . . . to save the world by their teaching." In a homily on the Gospels, Saint Gregory the Great, Pope from 590-604, makes the plea, "Pray for us . . . that after we have taken up the office of preaching our silence may not bring us condemnation from the just judge."

It would be hard to find issues with a greater need for explicit instruction from our Bishops than the insidious and pervasive practice of Abortion and Infanticide in the United States. Abortion statistics produced by the Guttmacher Institute reveal that over one million abortions take place each year, nearly half of which involve women who have had at least one previous abortion — numbers too large to be attributed to saving a mother's life, not once, but twice or more times.

Beyond Abortion, Barack Obama is a rabid supporter and promoter of what can only be described as Infanticide. In 2001 Obama was the only member of the Illinois Senate to speak against SB1094 and 1095 — bills to provided mandatory medical care for Abortion survivors. Mournfully, it has become common and accepted practice to deny medical care to infants born-alive during an abortion, or even the comfort of being held and kept warm. Instead, they are often, heartlessly, simply abandoned and left lying on tables, or worse . . . . until they die.

Worthy of note is the fact that identical Born-Alive Infant Protection legislation was introduced as H.R. 2175 and passed in the United States House of Representatives by a voice vote on March 12, 2002, passed unanimously in the U.S. Senate 98-to-0, and signed into law by President Bush on August 5, 2005 — all of which puts Obama far to the left of even the most radical pro-abortion lawmakers in Congress.

Assuming all Bishops comport with the Catholic Church's denunciation of Infanticide and Abortion, then Gregory the Great's "warning of condemnation" for remaining silent in a time of egregious societal moral turpitude, is an excellent segue to a discussion of whether today's Bishops have "spoken out." By that is meant whether they have made manifestly clear statements as to the morality and consequences of voting for a candidate who is so blatantly anti-life . . . . , or, by issuing only vague or conditional guidance, they have — in essence — remained silent.

What if the Bishops had "spoken out" clearly before the Election?

Prior to discussing the pros and cons of the Bishops making an explicit statement about voting for Obama, lets first hypothesize what would have happened if Francis Cardinal George, (president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops [USCCB]), speaking for all the Bishops, had delivered to Catholic voters an unmistakably clear teaching that one commits a serious moral transgression by intentionally voting for a candidate supporting or promoting the "culture of death," when the option of voting for another candidate not supporting or promoting the culture of death exists — and used Barack Obama and John McCain as examples.

With nearly continuous, minute-by-minute election media exposure, following such a public pronouncement, it would be hard to imagine the magnitude of the ensuing reporting frenzy — but surely it would have dwarfed what happened after the ravings of Reverends Wright and Phleger were made public. Recall those news blitzes went on for weeks and weeks, completely dominating media coverage, and overshadowing issues with far greater voting-decision significance — like National security, economic policy, candidate qualifications and other crucial factors.

If the bishops had made the above teaching public and clear, Cardinal George would certainly have been besieged for appearances on an uncountable number of both liberal and conservative television news and talk-radio shows. Looking back, should this have happened, our Catholic Bishops would have had an unprecedented, perhaps a singular opportunity to "go public" and explain, defend and promote the Church's long-standing "culture of life doctrine." Importantly that message would have gotten through to nearly every American, and to everyone around the world who tracked the election's progress on TV, the radio or the Internet. It would have literally been an opportunity to Evangelize on a scale never before possible in the history of Christianity.

Beyond teaching doctrine, our Catholic Bishops could also have provided timely and explicit explanations and examples of how existing U. S. laws and the actions of government officials and politicians allow and even promote Infanticide, Abortion, Physician-assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, Experimentation that destroys Human Embryos and other "culture of death" actions — and yes, as addressed below, even genocide.

Should all of this have happened, then to the extent the Catholic Bishops were convincing and successful in their arguments, the staggering loss of human life in years to come could have been reduced, and the majority of voters with informed and good consciences would have rejected, not elected, Barack Obama — and many anti-life candidates running for other offices as well.
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