Tuesday, February 28, 2012

February 29, 2012 - Rosary for Peace

There is much conflict and turmoil in the Middle East as we well know. Many Christians, particularly Catholics are being persecuted unto death. Iran feels it's their job to bring about Armageddon in order to hasten the return of their Mahdi who will make all people Muslim and wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth "that her name be no more remembered". Israel is taking them very seriously, as well they should, and many feel an attack against Iran's nuclear facilities is immanent.

Many modern day prophets and prayerful faithful will spend tomorrow immersed in the powerful prayer of the Most Holy Rosary .. all 20 mysteries, either at once or throughout the day as time permits according to your station in life. Please join the many who will offer this time of fervent prayer for peace in the Middle East, as well as all countries, communities, families and our own hearts.

We pray courage, peace, protection and mercy for all .. and as always; God's Perfect Divine Will be done on earth as It is in heaven!

May all come to know the Fullness of TRUTH that is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ .. His mercy is as endless as His compassion is inexhaustible.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Romney Told Catholic Hospitals to Administer Abortion Pills

A defining moment in Mitt Romney's post-pro-life-conversion political career came in his third year as governor of Massachusetts, when he decided Catholic hospitals would be required under his interpretation of a new state law to give rape victims a drug that can induce abortions.
Romney announced this decision -- saying it was the "right thing for hospitals" to do -- just two days after he had taken the opposite position. 

The story begins in 1975, when Massachusetts enacted a law that said, "No privately controlled hospital .. shall be required to permit any patient to have an abortion ... or to furnish contraceptive devices or information to such patient ... when said services or referrals are contrary to the religious or moral principles of said hospital ... ."
Twenty-seven years later, when Romney was running for governor, he filled out a questionnaire for NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. It said: "Emergency contraception does not cause abortion. Rather, it prevents pregnancy from occurring. Will you support efforts to increase access to emergency contraception?"
Romney said: "Yes."

The next year, the Massachusetts legislature considered an "emergency contraception" mandate. It would have allowed pharmacists to sell Plan B -- an abortifacient -- without a prescription and without parental consent. It also would have required all hospitals to inform rape victims of the availability of such "emergency contraceptives" and provide them to the rape victim if she wanted them even when they would cause an abortion.
Maria Parker of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, the public policy organization of the state's Catholic bishops, explained in testimony to the state legislature why Catholic hospitals could not do this.

The normal Catholic ban on artificial contraception did not apply in a rape case, Parker said. But while contraception was acceptable in such a situation, killing an unborn child was not.
In keeping with this moral understanding, one Massachusetts Catholic hospital chain would later explain to the Boston Globe that its practice was to test a rape victim to make certain she was not pregnant and only then give her emergency contraceptives. If the test proved the woman was pregnant, the hospital would not give the woman the drugs because they could not prevent conception but they could kill her child.
Parker concluded her testimony by quoting what Cardinal Frances George of Chicago had told the Illinois legislature when it proposed a similar law: "Our hospitals cannot and will not comply with this law."

In that session, the Massachusetts Senate passed the "emergency contraception" bill, but it was blocked in the House.
As Planned Parenthood and NARAL demanded action on the bill, and the Massachusetts Catholic Conference continued to speak out against it, Gov. Mitt Romney remained mum.
"Shawn Feddeman, spokeswoman for Gov. Mitt Romney, declined to comment on the governor's position on the bill," the Boston Globe reported on July 1, 2004. "'We'll review it when it reaches the governor's desk.'"

The bill was reintroduced in the next session -- and Romney remained mum.
Romney had "no opinion on the bill," his spokesman, Eric Fehrnstorm, told The Associated Press in April 2005. "We'll take a look at the bill should it reach the governor's desk."
But the bill had veto-proof support in both chambers of the Democrat-controlled legislature in 2005. In July, the House and Senate reached a compromise on it that would protect Catholic hospitals from being forced to act against their faith.

At that time, the Massachusetts Catholic Conference published a bulletin explaining what happened. The House had included language to "expressly apply" the 1975 conscience law protections to the new emergency contraception law. The Senate had included language saying the new law should apply "notwithstanding" any existing law.
"In the end, neither amendment was included in the bill," said the Massachusetts Catholic Conference. "House Majority Leader John Rogers, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to defend the hospitals' right of conscience, made it clear during floor debate on July 21 that the House blocked the Senate amendment so that the 1975 conscience statute would continue to have full effect."

The conference provided me with a copy of this bulletin, and Rogers assured me its account was "accurate and true."
The Catholic Church still opposed the bill because it would facilitate abortions. But at least the religious liberty of Catholic hospitals had been preserved -- or so it seemed.
On July 25, 2005, Romney vetoed the bill -- even though it was clear his veto would be overridden.
He published an op-ed in the Boston Globe the next day explaining his decision. "The bill does not involve only the prevention of conception," he wrote. "The drug it authorizes would also terminate life after conception." Romney said the veto kept his pledge not to change the state's abortion laws.

Romney made no mention of the religious liberty issue in his op-ed. But then, the bill, as the Massachusetts Catholic Conference and the House majority leader understood it, did not allow coercion of Catholic hospitals.
On Dec. 7, 2005, a week before the law was to take effect, the Boston Globe ran a piece headlined: "Private Hospitals Exempt on Pill Law." The article said the state Department of Public Health had determined that the emergency contraception law "does not nullify a statute passed years ago that says privately run hospitals cannot be forced to provide abortions or contraception."

Public Health Commissioner Paul Cote Jr. told the Globe: "We felt very clearly that the two laws don't cancel each other out and basically work in harmony with each other."
Romney spokesman Fehrnstrom told the Globe that Romney agreed with the Department of Public Health on the issue. The governor, he said, "respects the views of health care facilities that are guided by moral principles on this issue."
"The staff of DPH did their own objective and unbiased legal analysis," Romney's spokesman told the Globe. "The brought it to us, and we concur in it."
The Globe itself ruefully bowed to this legal analysis. It ran an editorial headlined: "A Plan B Mistake." "The legislators failed, however," the Globe said, "to include wording in the bill explicitly repealing a clause in an older statute that gives hospitals the right, for reasons of conscience, not to offer birth control services."
Liberals joined in attacking Romney's defense of Catholic hospitals. But that defense did not last long.

The same day the Globe ran its editorial, Romney held a press conference. Now he said his legal counsel had advised him the new emergency contraception law did trump the 1975 conscience law.
"On that basis, I have instructed the Department of Public Health to follow the conclusion of my own legal counsel and to adopt that sounder view," Romney said. "In my personal view, it's the right thing for hospitals to provide information and access to emergency contraception to anyone who is a victim of rape." 

A true leader would have said: I will defend the First Amendment right of Catholics to freely exercise their religion -- against those who would force them to participate in abortions -- all the way to the Supreme Court.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Heart of the Matter? ---- Disipline!

Father Barron explains the term "Taking the Disipline" and why Pope JP II practiced it with much love and devotion.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Two New Chaplets

These two wonderful chaplets were recently brought to my attention by a prayerful customer and I wanted to share them with everyone being it's the Lenten season. They are the Chaplet of Reparation and Conversion, respectively. Both wonderful devotions for Lent. We need so much to make reparation for all going on in the world today ... for all those that do not adore, do not believe, hope or love! And we also need to pray for our loved ones and those we hold dear who may be too into the world to realize that God's really there and waiting for them to return His Love.

Both of these chaplets will be made to order. Your choice of color and beads; wire or corded. The basic price is $18 for acrylics or glass in 6mm. Till the end of Lent, I'll extend that to include even 8mm beads for the same price. There are instructions on how to pray each chaplet on the site ... just click the names. They're very easy chaplets to learn.

Want them for $15 during Lent only? Then send me an email with $15 chaplet in the subject line and they're yours. Please note, if you use the buttons on the site, you'll be charged the full $18 .. nothing I can do about that.

St. Peter Damian

St. Peter Damian
Feastday: February 23
St. Peter Damian is one of those stern figures who seem specially raised up, like St. John Baptist, to recall men in a lax age from the error of their ways and to bring them back into the narrow path of virtue. He was born at Ravenna and, having lost his parents when very young, he was left in the charge of a brother in whose house he was treated more like a slave than a kinsman. As soon as he was old enough he was sent to tend swine. Another brother, who was archpriest of Ravenna, took pity on the neglected lad and undertook to have him educated. Having found a father in this brother, Peter appears to have adopted from him the surname of Damian. Damian sent the boy to school, first at Faenza and then at Parma. He proved an apt pupil and became in time a master and a professor of great ability. He had early begun to inure himself to fasting, watching and prayer, and wore a hairshirt under his clothes to arm himself against the alurements of pleasure and the wiles of the devil. Not only did he give away much in alms, but he was seldom without some poor persons at his table, and took pleasure in serving them with his own hands. After a time Peter resolved to leave the world entirely and embrace a monastic life away from his own country. While his mind was full of these thoughts, two religious of St. Benedict, belonging to Fonte Avellana of the Reform of St. Romuald, happened to call at the house where he lived, and he was able to learn much from them about their Rule and mode of life. This decided him and he joined their hermitage, which was then in the greatest repute. The hermits, who dwelled in pairs in separate cells, occupied themselves chiefly in prayer and reading, and lived a life of great austerity. Peter's excessive watchings brought on a severe insomnia which was cured with difficulty, but which taught him to use more discretion. Acting upon this experience, he now devoted considerable time to Sacred studies, and became as well versed in the Holy Scriptures as he formerly had been in profane literature. By the unanimous consent of the hermits he was ordered to take upon himself the government of the Community in the event of the superior's death. Peter's extreme reluctance obliged the abbot to make it a matter of obedience. Accordingly after the abbot's decease about the year 1043, Peter assumed the direction of that holy family, which he governed with great wisdom and piety. He also founded five other hermitages in which he place Priors under his own general direction. His chief care was to foster in his disciples the spirit of solitude, charity, and humility. Many of them became great lights of the Church, including St. Dominic Loricatus, and St. John of Lodi, his successor in the priory of the Holy Cross, who wrote St. Peter's life and at the end of his days became Bishop of Gubbio. For years Peter Damian was much employed in the service of the Church by successive Popes, and in 1057 Stephen IX prevailed upon him to quit his desert and made him Cardinal-bishop of Ostia. Peter constantly solicited Nicholas II to grant him leave to resign his bishopric and return to the solitude, but the Pope had always refused. His successor, Alexander II, out of affection for the holy man, was prevailed upon with difficulty to consent, but reserved the power to employ him in Church matters of importance, as he might hereafter have need of his help. The saint from that time considered himself dispensed not only from the responsibility of governing his See, but from the supervision of the various religious settlements he had controlled, and reduced himself to the condition of a simple monk. In this retirement he edified the Church by his humility, penance and compunction, and labored in his writings to enforce the observance of morality and discipline. His style is vehement, and his strictness appears in all his works - especially when he treats of the duties of the clergy and of monks. He severely rebuked the Bishop of Florence for playing a game of chess. That prelate acknowledged his amusement to be unworthy, and received the holy man's reproof meekly, submitting to do penance by reciting the psalter three times and by washing the feet of twelve poor men and giving them each a piece of money. Peter wrote a treatise to the Bishop of Besancon in which he inveighed against the custom by which the Canons of that Church sang the Divine Office seated in choir, though he allowed all to sit for the lessons. He recommended the use of the discipline as a substitute for long penitential fasts. He wrote most severely on the obligation of monks and protested against their wandering abroad, seeing that the spirit of retirement is an essential condition of their state. He complained bitterly of certain evasions whereby many palliated real infractions of their vow of poverty. He justly observed, "We can never restore primitive discipline when once it is decayed; and if we, by negligence, suffer any diminution in what remains established, future ages will never be able to repair the breach. Let us not draw upon ourselves so foul a reproach; but let us faithfully transmit to posterity the example of virtue which we have received from our forefathers." St. Peter Damian fought simony with great vigor, and equally vigorously upheld clerical celibacy; and as he supported a severely ascetical, semi-eremitical life for monks, so he was an encourager of common life for the secular clergy. He was a man of great vehemence in all he said and did; it has been said of him that "his genius was to exhort and impel to the heroic, to praise striking achievements and to record edifying examples...an extraordinary force burns in all that he wrote".  In spite of his severity, St. Peter Damian could treat penitents with mildness and indulgence where charity and prudence required it. Henry IV, the young king of Germany, had married Bertha, daughter of Otto, Marquee of the Marches of Italy, but two years later he sought a divorce under the pretense that the marriage had never been consummated. By promises and threats he won over the archbishop of Mainz, who summoned a council for the purpose of sanctioning the annulment of the marriage; but Pope Alexander II forbade him to consent to such an injustice and chose Peter Damian as his legate to preside over the synod. The aged legate met the king and bishops at Frankfurt, laid before them the order and instructions of the Holy See, and entreated the king to pay due regard to the law of God, the Canons of the Church and his own reputation, and also to reflect seriously on the public scandal which so pernicious an example would give. The nobles likewise entreated the monarch not to stain his honor by conduct so unworthy. Henry, unable to resist this strong opposition, dropped his project of a divorce, but remained the same at heart, only hating the queen more bitterly than ever. Peter hastened back to his desert of Fonte Avellana. Whatever austerities he prescribed for others, he practiced himself, remitting none of them even in his old age. He use to make wooden spoons and other little useful things that his hands might not be idle during the time he was not at work or at prayer. When Henry, Archbishop of Ravenna, had been excommunicated for grievous enormities, Peter was again sent by Alexander II as legate to settle the troubles. Upon his arrival at Ravenna he found that the prelate had just died, but he brought the accomplices of his crimes to a sense of their guilt and imposed on them suitable penance. This was Damian's last undertaking for the Church. As he was returning towards Rome he was arrested by an acute attack of fever in a monastery outside Faenza, and died on the eighth day of this illness, while the monks were reciting Matins round about him, on February 22, 1072. St. Peter was one of the chief forerunners of the Hildebrandine reform in the Church. His preaching was most eloquent and his writing voluminous, and he was declared a doctor of the Church in 1828.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hollywood Actress leaves Glitter for God



Click for short video http://youtu.be/6H39k9jfKMw

Mother Dolores, as she is now known, is the subject this year of an Oscar-nominated documentary short, "God Is the Bigger Elvis," which airs April 5 on HBO. The documentary chronicles her life as a nun after a Hollywood career that saw her costar with Elvis Presley ("Loving You" in 1957 and "King Creole" in 1958), Anthony Quinn ("Wild Is the Wind," 1957) and George Hamilton ("Where the Boys Are," 1960). Her favorite is "Lisa," from 1962, in which she played a Jewish refugee after World War II. Before the documentary, she last appeared on the big screen in 1963's "Come Fly With Me," a comedy about flight attendants looking for love.

Not only does "God Is the Bigger Elvis" explore Mother Dolores' life in Hollywood and at the monastery, but it also chronicles the day-to-day life of the nuns at the abbey, which is also a working farm. Like Mother Dolores, a lot of the nuns had previous occupations, including the law and science, before they changed vocations.

The documentary's director, Rebecca Cammisa, whose own mother was a nun before leaving the convent after 10 years, is thrilled that Mother Dolores is going with her to the Academy Awards on Sunday. "This is her return to Hollywood after 50 years," said Cammisa. "This is her homecoming."

While an actress, Mother Dolores attended the Academy Awards three times, the last being April 9, 1962, at the Santa Monica Civic. As for her return after half a century, Mother Dolores said over the phone from the abbey that she was looking forward to seeing "the motion picture industry at work."

"I would like to see the academy at its best," she added. "I have such respect for the community, and they have given me a way of being a part of Hollywood within the monastic enclosure. So this will be a wonderful opportunity I certainly will never enjoy again in my lifetime."

Mother Dolores had been a devout Catholic before she joined the monastery — she converted to the faith when she was 10. While appearing on Broadway in 1959 in the comedy "The Pleasure of His Company," a friend told her to visit the tranquil monastery for some rest and contemplation. It was during this first visit that Mother Dolores felt a tug at her heart that maybe she should devote her life to God. But she was only 21 and the community's lady abbess felt she was too young to give up her career in Hollywood.

But four years later, Mother Dolores knew the time was right. "I think it was maturity," she said. "There was a realization I had gone through many more films and I had much more experience in Hollywood and more experience in life. I had come to understand more the implications of what was necessary. I think that eventually the realization of what needed to happen caught up with me. I was able to present to lady abbess a more mature character.

Leaving the film industry for her new vocation "was something I knew absolutely I must do even though I loved my career," she said.

"I really did. I had wanted it since I was 7 years, so I certainly wasn't leaving it because I didn't like or love it. It was just something I knew that God was asking."

She dropped her academy membership at the advice of the lady abbess, but it was reinstated in 1990 after the personal intervention of actor Karl Malden, the then-president of the Film Academy (and who had worked with her on "Come Fly With Me").

"They could send me films to be evaluated, which they couldn't do in the 1960s," she said. "He felt my opinion would be important to them. He felt to have an opinion of someone who had led a contemplative life would have significance. The lady abbess was completely convinced by him. I was reinstated. I had to pay my dues; we didn't want to take any privileges that weren't appropriate."

Mother Dolores said she isn't shocked by anything she sees in contemporary films. "We are a contemplative community but also a community that is based on hospitality," she said. "We receive visitors and meet visitors who need help. There isn't really too much in movies that we haven't seen on our doorstep. Hollywood reflects the problems in the society. I don't think Hollywood creates the problems."

And if the documentary wins, will she accompany director Cammisa onstage?

"I will do whatever they ask me to," Mother Dolores said with a soft laugh.

 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

ORDINARY PUBLIC CONSISTORY - February 2012

Pope Benedict XVI arrives for the Consistory where he will appoint 22 new cardinals on February 18, 2012.

Pope Benedict appointed 22 new cardinals at the Vatican on Saturday, with his choices for the lofty role likely to influence who will be appointed as the next pontiff.
The Vatican named the new cardinals last month, but they were officially inducted by the pontiff in a special ceremony at St. Peter's Basilica.
Among those to be elevated to the College of Cardinals are New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, cementing his standing as the top Catholic in the United States, and Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien of Baltimore.

Others include Archbishop Thomas Collins, from Toronto, as well as the Bishop of Hong Kong, John Tong Hon, and Major Archbishop George Alencherry from India
Senior clerics from Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Romania and Brazil are also represented, as well as several from Italy.

The College of Cardinals was established in 1150. Its main role is to advise the current Pope and pick his successor.
"This is the most exclusive club in the Catholic Church," said John Allen, CNN's Vatican analyst. "In many cases, you also become, at least informally, a candidate to be the next pope, because the next pope will almost certainly come from the roughly 120 cardinals under the age of 80."

Once a cardinal reaches 80, he is no longer able to participate in the election of the pope or enter the secret conclave where cardinals gather when the time comes to select the next pope, typically upon the prior pope's death.
The new cardinals each professed their faith and swore an oath of obedience to Pope Benedict and his successors during Saturday's ceremony, called the Consistory, at the Vatican.
They then walked one by one to the pontiff and knelt in front of him to receive the traditional red hat, or "biretta," and gold ring, and a document with the name of the cardinal's titular church in Rome.

In his address, Benedict said that in joining the College of Cardinals, the clerics would "be united with new and stronger bonds not only to the Roman Pontiff but also to the entire community of the faithful spread throughout the world."
Emphasizing the importance of service over self-interest, the pontiff said the red of the cardinals' hats was symbolic of the ultimate sacrifice they would make if required.

"The new cardinals are entrusted with the service of love: love for God, love for his Church, an absolute and unconditional love for his brothers and sisters, even unto shedding their blood, if necessary, as expressed in the words of placing the biretta and as indicated by the color of their robes," he said.

Pope Benedict also announced seven new saints, including the first Native American saint, a 17th-Century Mohawk woman called Kateri, or Catherine, Tekakwitha, who was a Catholic convert.
Existing members of the College of Cardinals and the new cardinals-elect came together for a day of prayer and reflection Friday, in preparation for the ceremony, according to the Holy See Press Office.
Dolan addressed the gathering on the subject of evangelization, saying there was a need to challenge a growing secularization of society.

For homily and video, please click this Vatican link.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Catholics must know truth if they are to share it, pope tells cardinals

Pope Benedict XVI prays at the start of a meeting of the world's
cardinals in the synod hall at the Vatican Feb. 17. At right is
Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals.

If objective truth does not exist, "there is no compass and we won't know where to go," Pope Benedict XVI told members and almost-members of the College of Cardinals.

An awareness of the truth of the revelation of God in Jesus Christ makes life "rich and beautiful" and is essential for sharing the Christian faith with others, the pope said Feb. 17 at the end of a daylong meeting of the College of Cardinals.

The pope thanked Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan of New York, who gave the day's main presentation on missionary activity and the new evangelization. The pope said the New York prelate's talk was "enthusiastic, joyful and profound."

In his morning address to the group, which included most of the 21 other churchmen who were to be made cardinals with him Feb. 18, Cardinal-designate Dolan said secularism has had an easy time spreading through many traditionally Christian cultures because so many Christians do not know their faith and do not grasp the truth it teaches.

While the New York prelate did not downplay the challenges the church faces in reviving the faith of its members and bringing the Gospel to those who have never heard it, he delivered his assessment with his characteristic smile and broad gestures, telling Pope Benedict and the cardinals that evangelization requires joy and love.

"When I became the archbishop of New York, a priest told me, 'You better stop smiling when you walk the streets of Manhattan or you'll be arrested,'" he said, but he still believes Christians must show the world that faith is saying yes "to everything decent, good, true, beautiful and noble."

The meeting was attended by 133 prelates, including at least 20 of the 22 who were to receive their red hats from the pope the following morning.

During the morning session, Pope Benedict did not address the assembly and was not one of the seven participants who commented on the presentation by Cardinal-designate Dolan, although the pope did laugh when the New York archbishop made fun of his speaking Italian "like a child."

The morning session also featured a brief presentation by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, on plans for the 2012-2013 Year of Faith.

The pope spoke at the end of the evening session, after another 20 cardinals and cardinals-designate had taken the floor to speak.

Pope Benedict told the assembly that the teachings of the Second Vatican Council were important for "rediscovering the relevance of Jesus and of faith" today, and he echoed Cardinal-designate Dolan's call for a true renewal of catechesis to combat what has been defined as "religious illiteracy."

In his morning presentation, Cardinal-designate Dolan said that when Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, asked him to be the main presenter, he hinted that he did so because New York "might be the 'capital of secular culture.'"

"New York -- without denying its dramatic evidence of graphic secularism -- is also a very religious city," he said, where even those "who boast of their secularism" exhibit an openness to the divine and have questions about God.

While secularism "is invading every aspect of daily life," the New York prelate said, it also is true that most people, on some level, still question the ultimate meaning of life and still ponder the idea of God.

"Even a person who brags about being secular and is dismissive of religion has within an undeniable spark of interest in the beyond, and recognizes that humanity and creation is a dismal riddle without the concept of some kind of creator," he said.

The cardinal-designate said those people don't want to be considered objects of missionary activity, but Christians have an obligation to help them maintain their search for meaning in life.

Humility, joy and love are key to the success of the evangelization efforts of the church and its members, he said.

"Triumphalism in the church was dead" after the Second Vatican Council, he said, but "so was confidence."

Catholics recognize that they and their church need conversion, too, he said. And, they must be convinced that what they are sharing with others is not a doctrine, but the person of Jesus.

At the same time, because Jesus is the truth, Catholics must make a commitment "to combat catechetical illiteracy," he said.

"True enough, the new evangelization is urgent because secularism has often choked the seed of faith, but that choking was sadly made easy because so many believers really had no adequate knowledge or grasp of the wisdom, beauty and coherence of the truth," he said.

Cardinal-designate Dolan said that on the eve of receiving his red hat from the pope, he also had to speak of the fact that Christians are called to love and serve the church and their neighbors, even to the point of shedding their blood if necessary.

The cardinals, he said, "are but 'scarlet audiovisual aids' for all our brothers and sisters," who also are called "to be ready to suffer and die for Jesus."

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, did not release the names of the 27 cardinals who intervened in the discussion, but he summarized the points that were made. Several of the cardinals, he said, spoke about the difficulties evangelizing in their specific countries or cultures.

Mention was made of the growing number of Christians in China, "despite the difficulties," presumably with government control over religion; about interreligious dialogue and the fight against poverty in India; the important role of popular religious devotions for evangelization in Latin America; and about secularism's attempts to marginalize religion in the West.

Participants insisted on the importance of ecumenism for fostering a common Christian witness to the faith, on the continuing relevance of the Second Vatican Council as a guide for the church today and on the value of Christian joy and holiness for evangelization, he said.

 By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

Sunday, February 12, 2012

We Cannot—We Will Not—Comply With This Unjust Law

The Administration Is Denying Catholics The
Fundamental Freedom of Religious Liberty


Dear friends in the Lord,

I write to you concerning an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States directly, and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith. The federal government, which claims to be “of, by, and for the people,” has just dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people—the Catholic population—and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful.
Fictitious Picture Used To Illustrate A Point
As you are aware, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced two weeks ago that almost all employers, including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees’ health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies. In so ruling, the Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled either to violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.

We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law.

People of faith cannot be made second class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights. In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.
And therefore, I would ask you two things. First, as a community of faith we must commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored. Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible. Second, I would also recommend visiting www.usccb.org/conscience, to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty, and how to contact Congress in support of legislation that would reverse the Administration’s decision.

With prayerful best wishes, I am,
Faithfully in Christ,
Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York

The Pope Told Us What Would Transpire!

Pope Paul VI: A Prophet For Our Time

July 25, 1968, was a day that etched itself into my memory. That day, Pope Paul VI issued his prophetic document Humanae vitae (Of human life). I was in South Bend, Indiana, on that bright sunny day. I can clearly see myself returning to the campus of Notre Dame University, where I was studying that summer. As a fellow priest and I walked on to the campus, it seemed that the air was crackling with emotional electricity. We were soon told the reason why. The Pope had issued his long-awaited encyclical Of human life, and he had not approved the contraceptive Pill, as the world had expected. In fact, he had strengthened and deepened our understanding of the Church’s constant teaching that the contracepted act in conjugal love is intrinsically evil.
Among those who rejected the encyclical, many focused their ridicule on section 17 of the encyclical. In the three paragraphs of this section, Paul VI had prophetically spoken about some of the grave consequences that would follow from the approval of methods of artificial birth control.  To help you in this, this article will present the text of section 17 and a brief commentary on it.

Section 17
As an introduction to section 17, please keep in mind two elements.
First, the context of the text of the encyclical: in sections 7 through 16, Paul VI outlines and proclaims the beauty of God’s plan for conjugal love and responsible parenthood, as well as affirming and clarifying the moral meaning of contraception and natural family planning.
Second, the faith context: the encyclical was being received at a time when there was a growing crisis of faith. This crisis was draining many people of the courage needed to proclaim the beauty of God’s plan for marriage and family. The Pope responded to this crisis of faith by first, presenting the positive truths of God’s plan for conjugal love, responsible parenthood, and the dignity of husband and wife, which these truths celebrate and protect; secondly, he appealed to people of good will-many of whom were weak in their faith or lacked it altogether-to reflect on the inner logic of the consequences that would flow from the approval of contraception.
The opening sentence of section 17 tells us: “Responsible individuals will quickly see the truth of the Church’s teaching (about contraception), if they consider what consequences will follow from the methods of contraception and the reasons given for the use of contraception” (1)

Separate the unitive and procreative aspects
The Pope is saying that people of goodwill can see and understand the inner logic of what he will say about the grave consequences, which logically follow from separating the unitive and procreative dimensions of conjugal love. The contracepted act creates this separation by its very nature. These are theological terms, which speak of the special bonding that the complementary fertility of the husband and wife makes possible: between themselves, between them and their children, and as a marriage in Christ.

Dr. John Billings, a husband, father and a physician, expresses the truth of this special bonding with great clarity in his booklet The Gift of Life and Love: “We cannot command ourselves always to feel affection, but we can command our wills to love. When the husband and wife enter into marriage they take upon themselves two serious responsibilities- there is the responsibility involved in the gift of oneself to the spouse; and acceptance of the gift of the other is a separate responsibility, which helps to identify and at the same time enlarge the first. The responsibility of the married couple is to work in fidelity to the conjugal love in order to bring the other and oneself to perfection.

Fertility is a vital element of the human organism. The biological differences which exist between male and female irrevocably determine their earthly roles within the whole of humanity, providing for a creative partnership between men and women which extends beyond genital communication into the whole meaning of their sexuality. A man is a man-person, and a woman is a woman-person. In marriage the fertility of the husband and the wife bind themselves to each other and to their children, and an intended removal of the fertility of one or both of them separates them from each other and from their children. It is the knowledge that they share, a power by which a new human life may be brought into existence, that establishes and perpetuates a special, exclusive bond, which gives meaning to the whole concept of the family. It is a tragedy of modern times that so many men and women have been willing, even eager, to destroy their fertility, that a husband or wife will not grant to the other, even to themselves, an acceptance that includes acceptance of their fertility. This moral attitude has produced in our own time an anti-child society” ( p. 9, 10).(2)
When that special bond which a married couple’s fertility brings to their marriage and family is intentionally broken, through contraception and/or sterilization, the following grave consequences can be expected.

Humanae vitae unfolds the inner logic of the consequences in the following way:
“They should first consider how easy it will be (for many) to justify behaviour leading to marital infidelity or to a gradual weakening in the discipline of morals. Not much experience is needed to understand human weakness and to comprehend that human beings, especially the young, are so susceptible to temptation that they need to be encouraged to keep the moral law. It is wrong to make it easy for them to violate this law”(3).
Many of us, in our own life times, have seen the increase in marital infidelity in our society since the contraceptive pill was accepted in the 1960s. Engaged couples who take my marriage and family preparation course are quite aware of the marital infidelity that takes place in their respective work places. Many have been targets of that activity. I myself was shocked some years ago when a sting operation in New Westminster, B.C., resulted in the arrest of a dozen men seeking the services of a prostitute: eleven were married.
We have also seen the gradual weakening of the discipline of morals, not only among adults, but also especially amongst the young. According to Stats Canada, already in 1981, 6% of all couples in Canada lived common-law that year. By 1996, the proportion had risen to 12%, or about one in 8 couples.(4)
Also, it is no longer assumed that a couple has to be married to have a child. In fact, 30% of Canadian children were born outside of marriage in 1993-1994.(5) All of this certainly indicates “a gradual weakening in the discipline of morals.”

Abortions
Once society rejected Humanae vitae and accepted contraception, it did not take long for this prophetic statement to be fulfilled. It was fulfilled even in respect to teenagers.
Two articles appearing in the British medical journal, Linacre Quarterly in 1979 and 1982 document how quickly young people learned to violate the moral law. The first article entitled, “Birth Control for Teenagers-Diagram for Disaster”, was published in the February issue of 1979 and its follow-up was published in the May 1982 issue. On page 143 of the second article we read: “Abortions among teenagers increased fivefold in less than a decade from perhaps 90,000 in 1970 to almost half a million by 1978. The total number of premarital pregnancies more than doubled during this time span, from 300,000 to 700,000!”
Would it not be valid to say that this represents “a gradual weakening in the discipline of morals”, as the Pope warned in section 17?
On the other hand, when young people are encouraged to keep the moral law, many respond in a positive way, as illustrated by movements such as “Wait Until Marriage” or “Second Virginity”. Uganda provides a modern-day illustration of this positive response. In its fight against AIDS, Uganda has been promoting abstinence before marriage and fidelity in marriage for some years. Abstinence education encourages the young to keep the moral law, which protects them from harm. A Harvard study, published last year, found that this kind of education has shown significant effectiveness in reducing AIDS in Uganda, with the HIV infection rate dropping 50 percent between the years 1992 and 2000. Another point is that among women 15 and older, those reporting many sexual partners dropped from 19.4 percent in 1989 to 2.5 percent in 2000.(6) Pope Paul VI was right:
“The young do need to be encouraged to keep the moral law. It is wrong to make it easy for them to violate this law”.
The general acceptance of contraception, and also its promotion, has made it easy, especially for the young, to violate the moral law. How many young people today are living together in relationships of convenience? How many high-school students have been encouraged to become sexually active, because they have been told that using contraception will prevent pregnancy and in so doing they are being responsible?

Let us return to the encyclical:
“Indeed, it is to be feared that husbands who become accustomed to contraceptive practices will lose respect for their wives. They may come to disregard their wives’ psychological and physical equilibrium and use their wives as instruments for serving their own desires”.
As Dr. John Billings, the Australian champion of Natural Family Planning, has reminded us, when the special bond of fertility is intentionally denied or removed from the conjugal act, it removes “a vital element” of who the spouse is. It says, non-verbally, “I cannot accept, therefore respect, the total gift of who you are at this time, because to do so would interfere with my desire to relate to that part of you which provides sexual pleasure for me.” Such an attitude diminishes a man’s overall respect for his wife, and vice versa.

Adverse effects of the pill
It is well documented that the contraceptive pill has adverse physical and psychological effects on women. One need only read the report published by Health & Welfare Canada in 1978 to be aware of these effects. It is titled “Report 1978, Oral Contraceptives” and indicates over 40 adverse effects the pill has on women. How many husbands, as protectors of their wives and families, stepped forward to say NO to the Pill in their marriages? Many have disregarded these adverse effects because the Pill is convenient for serving their own sexual desires.
The ultimate adverse effect of the Pill on some women is death. The 1978 Report states, “There is also a small but significant increase in fatal risk of pulmonary embolism in women who use oral contraceptives” (p.7). How many there have been we do not know, but one indication is a study published in the British Medical Journal in January 1999 which looked at 945 “contraceptive pill-related deaths” occurring during a 25-year period from 1968 to 1993.(8)
“Consequently, they will no longer view their wives as companions who would be treated with attentiveness and love.”
It should be noted that contraception gives the impression that one’s spouse should always be available to the other for sexual intercourse. Physiologically, it means that one never has a reason to say “No”. An astute husband has observed, “To always have to say yes is never to be free.” Respect is enhanced when one is respected as a free agent, who is a gift, and who is loved and respected as a gift, and allowed to make a free gift of self to one’s spouse. Contraception strikes at the heart of married love.

The prophet continues:
“And then (let reasonable individuals) also carefully consider that a dangerous power will be put into the hands of rulers who care little about the moral law. “Would anyone blame those in the highest offices of the state for employing a solution (contraception) considered morally permissible for spouses seeking to solve a family difficulty, when they strive to solve certain difficulties affecting the whole nation? Who will prevent public authorities from favouring what they believe to be the most effective contraceptive method and from mandating that everyone must use them, whenever they consider it necessary?”
The Pope continues
“And clearly it will come about that men who desire to avoid the difficulties that are part of the divine law, difficulties that individuals, families, or society, may experience, will hand over to the will of the public authorities the power of interfering in the most exclusive and intimate mission of spouses. “Therefore, if we do not want the mission of procreating human life to be conceded to the arbitrary decisions of men, we need to recognize that there are some limits to the power of man over his own body and over the natural operations of the body, which ought not to be transgressed”(10).
Pope Paul VI was warning us that contraception would lead human beings into thinking that they had unlimited power over their own bodies. This false sense of freedom would lead them to do to his or her body whatever was thought convenient to accomplish their desired goals. In our day, this has gone even further into in-vitro fertilization, cloning, genetic manipulation, and embryonic stem cells for research. As Archbishop Chaput of Denver, CO, has observed, these “are all descendants of contraceptive technology.”(11)

Extra-marital technology
We have observed that contraception separates sex from procreation. This in turn has opened the door for technology to bring children into existence apart from the conjugal embrace. Here again, the authenticity of the prophet’s words has been confirmed:
“No one, neither a private individual nor a public authority, ought to violate these limits. For these limits are derived from the reverence owned to the whole human body and its natural operations, according to the principles acknowledged above and according to a proper understanding of the so-called principle of totality, as explained by Our Predecessor, Pius XII”.(10)
In conclusion, these reflections are not meant to be a finger-pointing exercise. They are meant to encourage us to think. Paul VI was right in his prophetic service of warning us about the dangers of accepting contraception. Should we not, therefore, be even more willing to recognize how right he was in proclaiming the truth about God’s plan for conjugal love, responsible parenthood, and the moral meaning of contraception and natural family planning?
Set free by these truths, let us proclaim the good news which, all these years later, many still need to hear and to be helped to live. Where should we start? I would suggest that it be with that large group of good, kind, and well educated, but misinformed Catholic couples who are very opposed to abortion, but do not recognize that contraception and abortion are linked. Being morally misinformed, they are often comfortable with contraception in their marriages, and with small families. They consider themselves good Catholics, contribute to the Church’s charitable works, and go to Mass regularly, but they do not have an informed conscience that recognizes that contraception not only cuts off the flow of life in a marriage and family, but also the flow of grace from their Sacrament of Matrimony. This group of people needs to understand the point that Dr. Billings made that marriage is about growing in holiness, “in order to bring the other and oneself to perfection.” What a force for good they would be if they walked away from the contraceptive mentality, and fully embraced the teaching of Humanae vitae, so they could walk more closely with Christ on the path of holiness.
It is vitally important that we help them to do so. As Archbishop Chaput has observed, “The Church will not be renewed without the renewal of family life. And the family cannot be renewed without a return to the truth taught in Humanae vitae. Ignoring this issue cannot be an option. In the long run the cost is too high. Therefore we should make every effort to better understand the importance of Church teaching in this regard, and witness to it boldly and with confidence.”(11)

By: Father Joseph Hattie
Catholic Insight.com

Saturday, February 11, 2012

February 11th - World Day of the Sick & Month of Healing & Suffering

The Power of Prayer
for Healing
 February is the month of healing and suffering. Hearing the words suffering and healing, we often think of people who are sick and needed to be healed through prayers and medical assistance. But let us also remember that all people experience suffering though it is not through grave sickness. Emotional and psychological problems can be considered as suffering.

Pope John Paul II's constant attention to the poor is one of the characteristics of his pontificate. In his 1984 apostolic letter "Salvifici Doloris" he addressed the Christian meaning of human suffering.

February 11 is the Feast day of OUR LADY of LOURDES, the late Pope John Paul II who is very much devoted to Blessed Mother believes in the intercession of Mary. In line with this in 1992, the Holy Father instituted the World Day of the Sick, to be observed every year on Feb. 11, liturgical memorial of the Virgin of Lourdes. In 1993 he established the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers.


Decree on Indulgences for World Day of the Sick

H
ere are some Words of our Great Pope John Paul II and a Saint in Heaven

In Lourdes, France -- John Paul II visited the French "miracle shrine" town of Lourdes where he called himself a sick man among the suffering.

"With you I share a time of life marked by physical suffering, yet not for that reason any less fruitful in God's wondrous plan," he said. "Dear brothers and sisters who are sick, how I would like to embrace each and every one of you with affection, to tell you how close I am to you and how much I support you."

"With great emotion I wish to join the millions of pilgrims who come to Lourdes each year from every part of the world, in order to entrust to the Mother of the Lord the intentions which they bear in their hearts and to ask for her help and intercession," he said.

Our Lady of Lourdes

Not much needs to be said regarding our Lady of Lourdes. One of the more popular and long lived Church approved apparitions and the source of many healings and miracles even unto this day. Again, we witness the fruits of OBEDIENCE through the quiet and humble 'fiat' of St. Bernadette to our Lady in what has become a very popular pilgrimage for many the world over.

On 11 February 1858, Bernadette Soubirous went with her sisters Toinette and Jeanne Abadie to collect some firewood and bones in order to buy some bread. After taking off her shoes and stockings to wade through the water near the Grotto of Massabielle, she said she heard the sound of two gusts of wind (coups de vent) but the trees and bushes nearby did not move. She said she saw a light in the grotto and a girl, as small as she was, dressed all in white, apart from the blue belt fastened around her waist and the golden yellow roses, one on each foot, the color of her rosary. Bernadette tried to keep this a secret, but Toinette told her mother. After parental cross-examination, she and her sister received corporal punishment for their story.

Three days later, Bernadette returned to the Grotto. She had brought holy water as a test that the apparition was not of evil provenance; however, she said the vision only inclined her head gratefully when the water was cast.

Bernadette's companions are said to have become afraid when they saw her in ecstasy. She remained ecstatic even as they returned to the village. On 18 February, she spoke of being told by the Lady to return to the Grotto over a period of two weeks. She quoted the apparition: I promise to make you happy, not in this world, but in the next.

After that the news spread and her parents took interest. Bernadette was ordered by her parents to never go there again. She went anyway, and on 24 February, Bernadette related that the apparition asked for prayer and penitence for the conversion of sinners. The next day, she said the apparition asked her to dig in the ground and drink from the spring she found there. This made her disheveled and some of her supporters were dismayed, but this act revealed the stream that soon became a focal point for pilgrimages.
Although it was muddy at first, the stream became increasingly clean. As word spread, this water was given to medical patients of all kinds, and many reports of miraculous cures followed. Seven of these cures were confirmed as lacking any medical explanations by Professor Verges in 1860. The first person with a “certified miracle” was a woman whose right hand had been deformed as a consequence of an accident. Several miracles turned out to be short-term improvement or even hoaxes, and Church and government officials became increasingly concerned.The government fenced off the Grotto and issued stiff penalties for anybody trying to get near the off-limits area. In the process, Lourdes became a national issue in France, resulting in the intervention of emperor Napoleon III with an order to reopen the grotto on 4 October 1858. The Church had decided to stay away from the controversy altogether.

Bernadette, knowing the local area well, managed to visit the barricaded grotto under cover of darkness. There, on 25 March, she said she was told: "I am the Immaculate Conception" ("que soy era immaculada concepciou"). On Easter Sunday, 7 April, her examining doctor stated that Bernadette, in ecstasy, was observed to have held her hands over a lit candle without sustaining harm. On 16 July, Bernadette went for the last time to the Grotto. I have never seen her so beautiful before, she reported.

The Church, faced with nationwide questions, decided to institute an investigative commission on 17 November 1858. On 18 January 1860, the local bishop finally declared that: The Virgin Mary did appear indeed to Bernadette Soubirous. These events established the Marian veneration in Lourdes, which together with Fátima, is one of the most frequented Marian shrines in the world, and to which between 4 and 6 million pilgrims travel annually.

The veracity of the apparitions of Lourdes is not an article of faith for Catholics. Nevertheless, all recent Popes visited the Marian shine. Benedict XV, Pius XI, and John XXIII went there as bishops, Pius XII as papal delegate. Working with Le Pelerinage de Lourdes he also issued, an encyclical on the hundredth anniversary of the apparitions in 1958. John Paul II visited Lourdes three times and Benedict XVI made a visit to Lourdes on 15 September 2008, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of 1858.

Lourdes Live Video
St. Bernadette today in her glass coffin

Friday, February 10, 2012

Vatican 'assassination fears' revealed

I have been begging prayers for the Pope for a while now ... I pray daily for his intentions, safety and strength. It has been a fear I have verbalized more than once since November last year that he will die away from the Vatican in 2012 ... I hope this is wrong ... but God's Will be done in all things to bring the Warning and the glorious Triumph of our Risen Lord and the Immaculate Heart of our Compassionate Mother according to His Perfect Timing and Divine Will. PRAY FOLKS PRAY LIKE YOU NEVER HAVE BEFORE! 

The Pope will die within the next 12 months, a senior Vatican figure has reportedly claimed amid fears of an assassination plot.
The Pope is suffering from arthrosis, a degenerative disease of the joints which has made it increasingly difficult for him to walk, according to Vatican insiders.


The sensational prediction was allegedly made by Cardinal Paolo Romeo, the archbishop of Palermo in Sicily, on a recent visit to China.
Cardinal Romeo reportedly made the startling prediction of the Pope's death during a trip to China in November 2011.
He seemed so sure of the fact that the people he spoke with, including Italian businessmen and Chinese representatives of the Catholic Church, were convinced that he was talking about an assassination attempt.
They were so alarmed by his remarks that they reported them back to the Vatican.
The extraordinary comments were written up in a top-secret report, dated Dec 30, 2011, and delivered to the Pope by a senior cardinal, Dario Castrillon Hoyos, a Colombian, in January.
The Vatican has reportedly opened an investigation into the claims.
The report was written in German, apparently to limit the number of people within the Vatican who would understand it if it was inadvertently leaked.
It warns of a "Mordkomplott" – death plot – against Benedict.
The story was broken on Friday by an Italian daily, Il Fatto Quotidiano, with the headline "Plot against the Pope – he will die within 12 months".
The newspaper, which has a reputation for scoops, published a page from the confidential report.

"During his talks in China, Cardinal Romeo predicted the death of Benedict XVI within 12 months. His remarks were expressed with such certainty and resolution that the people he was speaking to thought, with a sense of alarm, that an attack on the Pope's life was being planned," the paper reported.

"Cardinal Romeo could never have imagined that the indiscreet remarks he made on the trip to China would be communicated back to the Vatican by third parties."
Asked about the reported comments on Friday, however, Romeo said that the words attributed to him were "absolutely without basis."
"It is so outside of reality that it should not be given any consideration," Romeo was quoted by Italian news agency ANSA as saying.

The Vatican's spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said the report was "so incredible that we cannot comment on it".
"It seems to me something that is so far from reality that I don't even want to address it," Father Lombardi said. "It seems an incredible story and I don't want to comment."
He did not deny the existence of the document to AFP, but added that it was "devoid of reality".

Cardinal Romeo also named Benedict's XVI likely successor as Cardinal Angelo Scola, the archbishop of Milan – meaning the papacy would return to an Italian after the German Benedict and his Polish predecessor, John Paul II.
He allegedly told his contacts in China that Pope Benedict could not stand Tarcisio Bertone, his Secretary of State and the Vatican's second most senior figure, amid reports of bitter power struggles going on within the Holy See.
Experts said the release of the document could be part of a power struggle within the Vatican administration to try and force Bertone to leave.

Cardinal Romeo said Benedict viewed Cardinal Scola as his ideal successor because they had similar personalities and theological outlooks.
Cardinal Scola was previously the Patriarch of Venice, but was promoted to the archbishopric of Milan by Benedict in June last year.

The most recent attempt on a pope's life was in 1981 when John Paul II was shot and critically wounded in St Peter's Square by Mehmet Ali Agca, a Turkish gunman with links to a shadowy militant group called the Grey Wolves.
It has been claimed that the assassination attempt was backed by the KGB and Bulgarian secret service, in retaliation for the pope's support for the pro-democracy Solidarity movement in his native Poland and his opposition to Communism.

Nick Squires
10:39AM GMT 10 Feb 2012

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Bishops Vow to Fight Coercive HHS Mandate

The Catholic bishops of the United States are speaking out clearly -- both individually and collectively -- against the unjust HHS mandate due to its infringement on conscience rights and religious liberty.
CLICK HERE to write to Congress now !!. . . Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, president of the USCCB, sharply criticized the decision by the Obama administration in which it "ordered almost every employer and insurer in the country to provide sterilization and contraceptives, including some abortion-inducing drugs, in their health plans....Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience. This shouldn't happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights."
He urged Catholics and the public at large to speak out in protest. Watch his video & then take action today. . . !


USCCB Responds to Misleading White House Blog Entry

"White House Misrepresents Its Own Contraceptive Mandate"
The Obama administration, to justify its widely-criticized mandate for contraception and sterilization coverage in private health plans, has posted a set of false and misleading claims on the White House blog (“Health Reform, Preventive Services, and Religious Institutions,” February 1). This new USCCB fact sheet quotes and responds to each claim in turn.

More Background

The HHS has issued a rule forcing nearly all private health plans to include coverage for all FDA-approved prescription contraceptive drugs and devices, as well as surgical sterilization. These are listed among "preventive services for women" that all health plans will have to cover without co-pays or other cost-sharing -- regardless of whether the insurer, the employer or other plan sponsor, or even the woman herself objects to such coverage.

The exemption provided for "religious employers" is so narrow that it fails to cover the vast majority of faith-based organizations, including Catholic hospitals, universities, and service organizations that help millions every year. Ironically, not even Jesus & his disciples would have qualified.
During the public comment period last fall, the bishops' grassroots campaign alone generated over 57,000 comments to HHS opposing their mandate.
Now that the Administration has refused to recognize the Constitutional conscience rights of organizations and individuals who oppose the mandate, the bishops are now urging Catholics and others of good will to fight this unprecedented attack on conscience rights and religious liberty.
More than 400 Catholic leaders have called on Congress and the Administration to protect conscience rights in health care. The open letter appeared as a full page ad featuring over 150 of those leaders in the New York Times and the Washington Post on December 21.

Get Informed & Take Action Now

Select News Releases

Additional Information on Conscience Protection (opens a new page)

Bishop Vasa: They Shouldn’t Accept Communion at Mass

When Sonoma County Pro-Life advertised its annual Rally for Life held last Sunday, it promised that its keynote speaker — Santa Rosa Bishop Robert Vasa — “is sure to challenge and inspire us all.” Bishop Vasa did not let them down.

“Any government leader, particularly those who claim to be Christian, who claim to be pro-choice, is unworthy of public office,” Bishop Vasa told the rally at Old Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa on Jan. 22. “Absolutely unworthy and absolutely unfit for public office.”
Politicians who support abortion are “as guilty of abortion as those who choose it themselves,” he said. And Roe v. Wade, said Bishop Vasa, was an “illicit and invalid” decision.

Because of its pro-abortion policies, said Bishop Vasa, the U.S. is no longer “the land of the free and the home of the brave. It’s a land of the imprisoned and the home of the cowards.”
The bishop’s remarks, reported the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, brought cheers from a crowd of about 100 people who gathered in the afternoon rain to hear his speech.

“Vasa suggested such leaders who publicly hold such a position shouldn’t accept communion at Mass,” reported the Press Democrat. “He also said they could be excommunicated, or banished from the church through their actions.”
“In some ways, they excommunicate themselves,” the Press Democrat quoted the bishop as saying in an interview following his speech.

“If he learned a politician expressed a position so out of line with Catholic beliefs, then he would first try to have a ‘face-to-face’ with that person and urge them to recant their remarks,” said the Press Democrat. “If they did not, then that person would be ‘on thin ice.’”
According to the Press Democrat, Bishop Vasa conceded that the Church “tends to resist” the explicit excommunication of pro-abortion Catholics, but in an apparent reference to automatic self-excommunication, the bishop was quoted by the newspaper as saying, “I, for one, if someone wants to put hot coals on their own head, I say fine.”

Friday, February 3, 2012

BROKEN PROMISES GALORE!

President Obama, in your speech at Notre Dame and elsewhere, you promised that you would provide conscience exemptions for those whose faith forbade their participation in evil.
  • You have broken that promise by forcing our Church to provide insurance coverage for sterilization, contraception, and various abortifacient drugs. These are practices that for 2,000 years we have taught are intrinsically evil.
    You disagree. We understand. But you refuse to respect our right to live out our faith. You have decided to use the coercive power of the state to force your fellow citizens to commit what they believe are evil acts. You have asked the impossible. We cannot be good Americans by being bad Christians.
    Turn from your intolerance. Leave in place the conscience exemptions that have served us well since 1973 (42 USC 300a-7 (d)). Vacate the proposed HHS mandate.

     Join us and sign the Stop HHS Petition...

    Conscience Protection Quotes

    In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences. - Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York

    The Obama administration has just told the Catholics of the United States, ‘To Hell with you!’ There is no other way to put it. - Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh

    I am honestly horrified that the nation I have always loved has come to this hateful and radical step in religious intolerance. - Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria