Friday, February 27, 2009

Church leaders explore ways to slow Christian exodus from Middle East

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"


By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The need to find ways to stop the slow, yet steady departure of Christians from the Middle East has come into greater focus recently.

Pope Benedict XVI urged the dwindling Arab Christian minority to patiently persist in its struggle to survive and hold onto its religious and cultural identity when he met with bishops from Iraq, Iran and Turkey who were in Rome to report on their dioceses early this year.

And he will have many public occasions to reach out and appeal directly to Christians with his proposed visit to the Holy Land May 8-15.

The Christian exodus has become so severe that Iraqi bishops called on the pope to convene a regional synod to address the problem.

In the meantime, conferences were held in Detroit, Lebanon and Rome in February to underline the important role Christians play in Muslim-majority nations.

The Rome gathering organized by the Sant'Egidio Community brought together Christian and Muslim scholars and religious leaders from the Middle East to discuss the value and contribution of the Eastern Christian churches in Arab nations.

One element that emerged from the meeting is that Christians don't belong in the Middle East simply because they've been there since the time of Jesus and are legitimate citizens of Arab nations. Many said they must stay because they possess a unique culture and mindset that help contribute to the building of a more peaceful, democratic nation.

Some said a strong Christian presence could help moderate Muslims counter the rising wave of Islamic extremism sweeping across the region.

Mohammed Sammak, political adviser to Lebanon's grand mufti and a conference participant, said, "The fewer Christians there are, the more (Islamic) fundamentalism rises," fills the void and gains the upper hand; "that is why as a Muslim, I am opposed" to Christians emigrating.

For Christians to disappear from the Middle East would be like "pulling out the threads of a cloth" so that the whole social fabric risks unraveling and dying, he said.

It's a mistake to help Christians leave their respective nations through easier visa procedures and other measures, said Sammak.

When authorities help ease Christian emigration, he said, they are unwittingly aiding in the elimination of Christians from the Middle East by taking part in "a conspiracy of good faith."

Another danger, he said, is that if Muslim-majority nations do nothing to protect and encourage their Christian minorities to stay, then North American and European countries will think that Islam does not accept or respect Christianity.

If people living abroad see Muslims are unable to live with Christians even when they share the same culture, language and citizenship, he said, "then they'll think, 'so how can we Europeans live with Muslims.'"

Tensions and restrictions against Muslims living in or emigrating to Europe will increase as tensions and violence against Christians continue in the Middle East and vice versa, said Sammak.

Latin-rite Archbishop Jean Sleiman of Baghdad said Christians help preserve peaceful coexistence in a religiously and ethnically diverse society.

Christians possess a unique culture that displays "the willingness to mediate" and, therefore, they "could do so many things because reconstruction (of a war-torn nation) deals above all with souls, culture, mentalities," he told Vatican Radio Feb. 23.

Many participants agreed that large numbers of Christians have been fleeing the Middle East for economic and political motives rather than purely religious reasons.

Participant Bernard Sabella, a Catholic member of the Palestinian parliament and former sociology professor at Catholic-run Bethlehem University in the West Bank, said the exodus of Christians "is related to the global market. So if a young Palestinian -- Christian or Muslim -- can get work in the United States or Dubai, then they will go."

Tarek Mitri, Lebanon's minister of information, said Christians "were victims of their good education" and marketable skills in that they were more likely to be able to choose and provide a better life for themselves and their families by emigrating to where there were more opportunities.

A significant mass exodus began in the 20th century, he said, and those losses were already glaringly apparent in 1964 when Pope Paul VI made the first visit by a pope to the Holy Land since St. Peter.

Mitri said the cultural and economic contribution of Christians have always outweighed their numerical proportion.

Sammak said losing Christians would mean losing the human, cultural, scientific and educational resources they bring to a nation.

Archbishop Sleiman told reporters that while economic and political problems are major reasons for leaving, Christians in countries like Iraq and the Palestinian territories leave out of "fear of Islamic fundamentalism and being legally discriminated against" in an Islamic republic or under Shariah, the religiously based law of Islam.

He said the international community must help Iraq build peace and democracy by guaranteeing "the primacy of law and primacy of nation."

"Many problems will be solved because (a state of) law equals equality and justice," he said.

The Lebanese-born archbishop of Baghdad said he believes it is still possible for the dwindling numbers of Christians to play a role in the rebuilding of their country.

"But it's important churches have to be convinced their role is still important. When I see emigration, I'm not sure Christians still believe their role is important," he said.

Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim of Aleppo appealed to Muslim nations and authorities, telling them that their role is "to safeguard Christians. It is up to you. We don't believe our protection can come from outside."

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Theologian's criticism of pope draws Vatican response

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The dissident theologian Father Hans Kung has criticized Pope Benedict XVI as isolated and unable to take creative steps to deal with a series of internal church questions, including priestly celibacy and birth control.

Father Kung said the pope's recent lifting of the excommunications of four traditionalist bishops illustrated the pontiff's desire for a smaller and purer church, and his inability to make necessary reforms.

"The church risks becoming a sect. Many Catholics no longer expect anything from this pope. It's very sad," Father Kung said in an interview published by the French newspaper Le Monde Feb. 24.

His remarks drew a sharp comment from the dean of the College of Cardinals, Italian Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who told Vatican Radio he felt "wounded" when he read the interview.

"Fraternal criticism has always been possible in the church, from the times of Sts. Peter and Paul. Bitter criticism, on the other hand, especially when it's so broad, does not contribute to the unity of the church, for which Pope Benedict is working so hard," Cardinal Sodano said.

Father Kung, who has taught in Germany for decades, has frequently challenged official church positions on papal infallibility, birth control, priestly celibacy and the all-male priesthood. In 1979 the Vatican withdrew permission for him to teach as a Catholic theologian, although it did not restrict his ministry as a Catholic priest.

Father Kung has known Pope Benedict for some 50 years, and the two met in 2005 for what the Vatican described as a "friendly" encounter.

In the interview with Le Monde, Father Kung noted that one of the four traditionalist bishops whose excommunication was lifted by the pope has minimized the Holocaust, provoking widespread criticism. The pope's misjudgment on such an important issue, Father Kung said, reflected his own isolation.

"Benedict XVI has always lived in an ecclesial environment. He has not traveled much. He's always remained closed in the Vatican -- which is quite similar to how the Kremlin was at one time -- where he is safe from criticism," Father Kung said.

In any case, he said, the lifting of the excommunications was not a mistake in communications or tactics, but an error in church governance. He said it was "scandalous" that on the 50th anniversary of the convening of the Second Vatican Council Pope Benedict moved to reintegrate people who were opposed to the council's teachings.

Father Kung said that in his nearly four years in office the pope has shown a lack of pastoral courage and a lack of awareness of the "profound crisis" in the church. He suggested that the pope could make several important gestures:

-- Allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion in some circumstances.

-- Take steps to "correct" the 1968 encyclical "Humanae Vitae" and allow use of birth control in some cases.

-- Abolish the rule of priestly celibacy in the Latin-rite church.

-- Institute a new way of electing bishops with the involvement of local Catholics.

Father Kung said it would be helpful to call a third Vatican council to deal with these and other issues.

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The Ways of the Desert

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"

Biblical Reflection for 1st Sunday of Lent 2009

By Father Thomas Rosica, CSB

TORONTO, Canada, (Zenit.org).- Does anyone really look forward to Lent? What is it about Lent that excites us? What aspects of the Lenten journey test us? The Scriptural readings for this season are carefully chosen so as to replay salvation history before our very eyes.

Let us begin with Jesus in the desert -- the Gospel for the first Sunday of Lent. The desert sun and the pangs of hunger and thirst conjured up the demon for him. Mark presents Jesus wrestling with the power of Satan, alone and silent in the desert wastes. Mark’s version of the temptations of Jesus does not mention three temptations, nor does it say that Jesus fasted. Mark's whole focus is on presenting the temptations of Jesus as part of the great struggle between good and evil, between God and Satan.

Jesus' desert experience raises important questions for us. What are some of the "desert" experiences I have experienced in my life? What desert experience am I living through right now? When and how do I find moments of contemplation in the midst of a busy life? How have I lived in the midst of my own deserts? Have I been courageous and persistent in fighting with the demons? How have I resisted transforming my own deserts into places of abundant life?

In Matthew and Luke there is an ongoing conversation, as the prince of evil attempts to turn Jesus aside from the faith and integrity at the heart of his messianic mission. But if Israel had failed in the desert, Jesus would not. His bond with his Father was too strong for even the demons of the desert to break.

In the first temptation in the desert, Jesus responds to the evil one, not by denying human dependence on sustenance (food), but rather by putting human life and the human journey in perspective. Those who follow Jesus cannot become dependent on the things of this world. When we are so dependent on material things, and not on God, we give in to temptation and sin.

God's in charge

The second temptation deals with the adoration of the devil rather than God. Jesus once again reminds the evil one that God is in control. This is important for us to hear and believe, especially when our own temptations seem to overpower us, when everything around us might indicate failure, shadows, darkness and evil. It is God who is ultimately in charge of our destiny.

In the third temptation, the devil asks for a revelation or manifestation of God’s love in favor of Jesus. Jesus answers the evil one by saying that he doesn’t have to prove to anyone that God loves him.

Temptation is everything that makes us small, ugly, and mean. Temptation uses the trickiest moves that the evil one can think up. The more the devil has control of us, the less we want to acknowledge that he is fighting for every millimeter of this earth. Jesus didn’t let him get away with that. At the very beginning of his campaign for this world and for each one of us, Jesus openly confronted the enemy. He began his fight using the power of Scripture during a night of doubt, confusion and temptation. We must never forget Jesus’ example, so that we won’t be seduced by the devil's deception.

From Jesus we learn that God is present and sustaining us in the midst of test, temptation and even sinfulness. We realize that we must have some spiritual space in our lives where we can strip away the false things that cling to us and breathe new life into our dreams and begin again. We come to believe that God can take the parched surface of our hope and make it bloom. These are the lessons of the desert. That is why we need – even in the activity of our daily lives and work, moments of prayer, of stillness, of listening to the voice of God.

We meet God in the midst of our deserts of sinfulness, selfishness, jealousy, efficiency, isolation, cynicism and despair. And in the midst of the desert we hear what God will do if we open our hearts to him and allow him to make our own deserts bloom. The ways of the desert were deep within the heart of Jesus, and it must be the same for all who would follow him.

[The readings for this Sunday are Genesis 9:8-15; 1 Peter 3:18-22 and Mark 1:12-15]

* * *

Basilian Father Thomas Rosica is the chief executive officer of the Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation and Television Network in Canada. He can be reached at: rosica@saltandlighttv.org.

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2009 Culture of Life Movie Awards

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"

Winners Include "Juno" and "Bella"


MADRID, Spain,(Zenit.org).- This is the week for movie awards, and the results are out for the best picture, actors and screenplay, from the perspective of a culture of life.

The Madrid archdiocesan weekly magazine, Alpha and Omega, distributed by the newspaper ABC, gives special awards for the production of major films in defense of life.

The Alpha and Omega awards highlighted five pro-life films released in 2008, four related to abortion and one to euthanasia: "Juno"; "Bella"; "4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days"; "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"; "The Princess of Nebraska."

The magazine director, Miguel Angel Velasco, said: "Given the tendency to reward movies that represent the 'culture of death', [we] wanted to reward others that, in one way or another, defend the 'culture of life.'"

The awards announcement stated: "At a time when the dignity of the weakest human beings is trampled with impunity by politicians and legislators of numerous civilized countries, movies seem to emerge that run against the current, celebrating the positive value of life, even in circumstances of extreme pain."

It continued: "And these are not militant, discursive or reactionary films, nor are they directed by pro-life leaders. They are heartfelt and poignant human stories that give testimony of the simple joy of living."

International issues

The statement also commented on movies such as "Oh, Jerusalem" and "The Kite Runner" that give a "hopeful look at the most worrisome international conflicts" and treat the issues "with intelligence," with the goal of uniting people rather than dividing them.

Similarly, judges considered that movies such as "In the Valley of Elah" give a critique on the new forms of war and military intervention, separated from moral codes. Other movies, such as "The Wave," can alert us to populist and authoritarian temptations that can easily flourish in countries facing a moral, economic and cultural crisis."

Juan Orellana, film critic and one of the judges for the awards, says that, these movies "confirm the good health of the American independent cinema, the German cinema and animated film."

Orellana pointed out that there is now an exciting mix of family films. In 2008, he explained, several films defended novel and original forms of life and there are others -- like "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" -- that have managed to grasp "the gravity of the historical moment" in which we find ourselves, and offer a response of hope and transcendence.

The film awarded best Christian picture to "Guadalupe," a family drama that shows the power of the image of the Virgin Mary. A scientific study of the image becomes a journey of personal discovery for a family that must confront its past.

Great works

Auxiliary Bishop César Franco of Madrid, who chaired the judges committee, lauded the good movies as "works of the human spirit that address the human question."

He continued: "There are two ways to make movies, just like there are two ways to live:" one "open to the values of the individual," and the other closed. Man will always do great works in all fields, and humanity will bear fruit in works of art, he said -- "man is called to beauty."

The prelate stated that viewing movies can be "a catharsis" that brings a person "to the depths of human beauty."

Other winners of the 2009 Alpha and Omega awards are:

Best Film, Best Screenplay: "Juno," director Jason Reitman and screenplay writer Diablo Cody
Best Film, Best Director for Life: "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," Julian Schnabel

Best Leading Actor: Tommy Lee Jones, "In the Valley of Elah"
Best Supporting Actor: Ciarán Hinds, "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day"
Best Leading Actress: Tammy Blanchard, "Bella"
Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Clarkson, "Lars and the Real Girl"

Best Cinematography: Sergey Trofimov and Rogier Stoffers, "Mongol"
Best Film With Christian Theme: "Guadalupe," director Santiago Parra
Best Soundtrack: Alberto Iglesias, "The Kite Runner"

Best Family Film: "Horton Hears a Who!," directors Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino
Best Historical Drama: "O, Jerusalem," directed by Chris Kraus

Best Educational Film: "The Wave," director Dennis Gansel
Best Animated Film: "Wall-E," director Andrew Stanton

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Mystic Monk Coffee - Helping the Portiuncula Hermitage and Birthright

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"


The Portiuncula Hermitage is committed to tithing ten percent of their Mystic Monk Coffee Sales Commissions to Birthright (a loving alternative to abortion)!

Mystic Monk Coffee is roasted by the Carmelite Monks, a Roman Catholic monastery in the silence and solitude of the Rocky Mountains of northern Wyoming. The monks live a hidden life of prayer and contemplation in the pursuit of God. The monastery is inundated with young men who seek to leave everything to pray for the world, in a tradition at least a thousand years old. It is the monks’ great joy and privilege to share the fruit of their life with you in every cup of Mystic Monk Coffee.

What is the Carmelite Monks' goals in roasting Mystic Monk Coffee? They hope that this new monastic industry will help them to establish their Catholic monastery in the mountains of Wyoming. Catholics everywhere love coffee and why not buy their coffee from Catholic monks who are laboring to take vocations?

Every Catholic monastery has its own manual labor, a way to support itself by its own hands. Then it usually sells what it makes as its monastery gift item. Coffee is unique in that Catholics everywhere drink coffee daily. So this is a monastery gift for every day of the year. Catholics should find this as another way to integrate the church into their daily lives, through Catholic coffee. Every morning as they sip their coffee, why not think of the church and say a morning offering to Christ?

Mystic Monk Coffee is pleased to offer the socially conscious consumer a coffee that respects the value of every human life and the right and dignity of every person, especially the unborn. Fair Trade Organic is a decision to act with social justice.

The monastic life is one of ordered perfection, which you will taste in every bag of Mystic Monk Coffee. Passionate about perfection, no challenge is too great for Br. Java and the monks, if it will result in a Mystic Monk brew suited for the most discriminating coffee drinker. The Carmelite monks have mastered the ancient art of roasting coffee, laboring with steadfast determination to make each cup of coffee simply superb. Taste the monastic perfection in each brew, which makes all the difference.


The Portiuncula Hermitage is committed to tithing ten percent of their Mystic Monk Coffee Sales Commissions to Birthright (a loving alternative to abortion)!

Please remember to keep the pre-born in your prayers!

To order direct, simply click on the Mystic Monk Coffee Icon
on the Right Side of this Page:

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Denver Archbishop Chaput Warns against "Spirit of Adulation" Surrounding Obama

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"


Toronto, Canada, (CNA).- Canadians packed St. Basil’s Church in Toronto on Monday evening to hear Archbishop Charles Chaput speak about how Catholics should live out their faith in the public square. He warned that in the U.S., Catholics need to act on their faith and be on guard against "a spirit of adulation bordering on servility" that exists towards the Obama administration.

The public lecture by Archbishop Chaput took place on the campus of the University of Toronto at St. Basil’s Church and was attended by an overflow crowd of more than 700 people.

After giving a sketch of the basic principles in his New York Times Bestseller "Render Unto Caesar," the archbishop offered his insights on the need for an honest assessment of the situation of the Church in the public square.

"I like clarity, and there’s a reason why," began the archbishop. "I think modern life, including life in the Church, suffers from a phony unwillingness to offend that poses as prudence and good manners, but too often turns out to be cowardice. Human beings owe each other respect and appropriate courtesy. But we also owe each other the truth -- which means candor."

The Denver prelate then provided his critique of President Obama.

"President Obama is a man of intelligence and some remarkable gifts. He has a great ability to inspire, as we saw from his very popular visit to Canada just this past week. But whatever his strengths, there’s no way to reinvent his record on abortion and related issues with rosy marketing about unity, hope and change. Of course, that can change. Some things really do change when a person reaches the White House. Power ennobles some men. It diminishes others. Bad policy ideas can be improved. Good policy ideas can find a way to flourish. But as Catholics, we at least need to be honest with ourselves and each other about the political facts we start with."

Yet this will be "very hard for Catholics in the United States," Chaput warned.

According to the archbishop, the political situation for Catholics is difficult to discern because a "spirit of adulation bordering on servility already exists among some of the same Democratic-friendly Catholic writers, scholars, editors and activists who once accused pro-lifers of being too cozy with Republicans. It turns out that Caesar is an equal opportunity employer."

Looking ahead to the coming months and years, Chaput offered four "simple things" to remember.

"First," he said, "all political leaders draw their authority from God. We owe no leader any submission or cooperation in the pursuit of grave evil."

"In fact, we have the duty to change bad laws and resist grave evil in our public life, both by our words and our non-violent actions. The truest respect we can show to civil authority is the witness of our Catholic faith and our moral convictions, without excuses or apologies."

In a reference to the messianic treatment the Barack Obama received from some Americans during the presidential primaries, Archbishop Chaput delivered his second point: "in democracies, we elect public servants, not messiahs."

Noting that Obama actually trailed in the weeks just before the election, the Denver archbishop said that this places some of today’s talk about a "new American mandate" in perspective.

"Americans, including many Catholics, elected a gifted man to fix an economic crisis. That’s the mandate. They gave nobody a mandate to retool American culture on the issues of marriage and the family, sexuality, bioethics, religion in public life and abortion. That retooling could easily happen, and it clearly will happen -- but only if Catholics and other religious believers allow it."

The third point to focus on when the beliefs of Catholics are challenged is that "it doesn’t matter what we claim to believe if we’re unwilling to act on our beliefs," Chaput counseled.

"The fourth and final thing to remember, and there’s no easy way to say it," remarked Archbishop Chaput, is that the "Church in the United States has done a poor job of forming the faith and conscience of Catholics for more than 40 years."

"And now we’re harvesting the results -- in the public square, in our families and in the confusion of our personal lives. I could name many good people and programs that seem to disprove what I just said. But I could name many more that do prove it, and some of them work in Washington."

American Catholics need to realize that many in the current generation haven’t just been "assimilated" into the American culture, but have in fact been "absorbed and bleached and digested by it," Archbishop Chaput asserted.

If this realization doesn’t happen, the coming generations will continue on the same path and "a real Catholic presence in American life will continue to weaken and disappear," said Chaput.

Citing the example of "unhappy, self-described Catholics who complain that abortion is too much of a litmus test," he stated, "We can’t claim to be ‘Catholic’ and ‘pro-choice’ at the same time without owning the responsibility for where the choice leads – to a dead unborn child."

The archbishop also addressed the "abortion reduction" argument being made by some in politics.

"We can’t talk piously about programs to reduce the abortion body count without also working vigorously to change the laws that make the killing possible. If we’re Catholic, then we believe in the sanctity of developing human life. And if we don’t really believe in the humanity of the unborn child from the moment life begins, then we should stop lying to ourselves and others, and even to God, by claiming we’re something we’re not."

"Catholic social teaching goes well beyond abortion," Chaput noted. "In America we have many urgent issues that beg for our attention, from immigration reform to health care to poverty to homelessness."

Winding his talk down, the Archbishop of Denver remarked on the misunderstanding of the word "hope."

"For Christians," he explained, "hope is a virtue, not an emotional crutch or a political slogan. Virtus, the Latin root of virtue, means strength or courage. Real hope is unsentimental. It has nothing to do with the cheesy optimism of election campaigns. Hope assumes and demands a spine in believers. And that’s why – at least for a Christian -- hope sustains us when the real answer to the problems or hard choices in life is ‘no, we can’t,’ instead of ‘yes, we can.’"

SPECIAL NOTE:

Please remember, the American Catholic Bishops (UCCB) were responsible for pouring $7.3 Million Dollars from the "Campaign For Human Development" into ACORN! Anyone who has taken the time to investigate where the Campaign for Human Development funds are directed, simply has to look into the finances of every 'far-left loonie tunes' organization in America, along with the American Communist Party! Then they have the nerve to stand there, hat-in-hand, eyes staring at the ground, and ask the question, "How did this happen?"

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Wear Your Tea Bags!

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"



Given the surge in interest around Rick Santelli's CNBC rant, and the growing chorus of anti-stimulus folks calling for the New American Tea Party to halt the flow of government cash to troubled (and sometimes irresponsible) homeowners, keep in mind this interesting bit of history on the original Tea Party -- notably, that it actually meant more expensive tea. So we are asking everyone to take a safety pin and pin a Tea Bag to your coat lapel, your sweater or your shirt. Tell America that you are a part of the "American Tea Party!"

And did you know that the price of tea would actually decrease under the parliamentary act that sparked the Boston Tea Party? Clarendon notes the significance of this key fact that is likely little known to American students today:

"At the same time, Parliament imposed a new tax on tea, but one that would be paid in London as a surcharge. The Americans would actually see lower prices on tea, but the tea they purchased would already come pre-taxed. Historian Benson Bobrick says it 'remains a noble feature of the whole confrontation that immediate economic interest did not determine [the colonists'] response.'

"And Americans didn't take the bribe of lower tea in exchange for accepting a revenue tax. In Philadelphia, ships bearing tea couldn't find anyone willing to lead the ships into harbor. In Charleston, South Carolina, the tea was off-loaded, but was stored in moldy warehouses where the product quickly rotted and became useless. In New York City, storms prevented the tea-laden ships from docking."

Me: There's a corollary here. The let-them-fail attitude of Tea Partiers toward foreclosures could come with a hefty price tag. As Clive Crook pointed out last week, the bailout may be unfair (as bailouts, by their nature, tend to be) but instead of pricier tea, doing nothing could mean more damage to home prices:

The administration says that its scheme does not reward people who recklessly borrowed too much. This is untrue: the plan will certainly help some people who borrowed more than they should have. No doubt, it would be fairer to help only borrowers whose standard repayments (after teaser rates expired) were no more than say 30 percent of gross income to begin with, and/or who borrowed less than 80% of their property's initial value--in other words, to help only borrowers who behaved prudently, and who are now in trouble because their income has fallen. But of course this would have meant many more defaults. Because foreclosures also hurt innocent bystanders, there is a public interest in limiting them. The second part of the plan, I think, is indeed unfair and does raise moral hazard concerns--but I'd say that is a price worth paying if it stems the tide of foreclosures.

I don't doubt that Rick Santelli and everybody else have the best interests of the country at heart. If the Tea Partiers are aware of the risks of higher foreclosures, and are willing to sacrifice that "public interest" (i.e. watching their own homes lose value as foreclosures in their neighborhood increase) then their commitment can be considered a noble stand for a set of free-market principles. If they haven't considered the risks, they should.

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Pope warns of new forms of genetic discrimination

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI praised modern discoveries in the field of genetics, but warned of new and subtle efforts to discriminate against people with genetic defects or illnesses.

"Any discrimination carried out by any power against persons, populations or ethnic groups on the basis of real or presumed genetic factors is an attack against all humanity," the pope said.

He made the remarks in a speech Feb. 21 to participants of an international conference sponsored by the Pontifical Academy for Life on the topic "The New Frontiers of Genetics and the Risk of Eugenics."

The pope said genetic research had taken giant steps in recent years, opening new horizons for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and giving new hope to many people. But he said the advances were sometimes accompanied by a tendency to reduce human beings to their genetic makeup.

"Man will always be greater than all that which makes up his body; in fact, he possesses the power of thought, which is always directed toward the truth about himself and about the world," he said.

"Every human being, therefore, is much more than the singular combination of genetic information that is transmitted to him by parents," he said.

The pope said the risk of eugenics, which aims to improve the human species by selective breeding, is no longer found in the racist ideologies of state regimes, but rather in a new mentality that tends to value human life for its capacity for work, efficiency and physical beauty.

When a genetic defect or illness appears, from the moment of conception onward, the person's life is often judged as "not worthy of being lived," he said.

The pope said it should be forcefully affirmed that every person has equal dignity by virtue of being alive, and that his "biological, psychic and cultural development or state of health can never become a discriminatory element."

He said society should focus on building a "culture of acceptance and love" marked by solidarity with those who suffer and the removal of barriers that are often erected against the disabled or the sick. In no case should human life be selected or suppressed on the basis of an abstract ideal of physical health or perfection, he said.

The pope said it was especially important that these principles be applied to life at its earliest stages.

"If man is reduced to an object of experimental manipulation from the first stages of his development, it means that medical biotechnology is surrendering to the will of the strongest," he said. Trust in science must not make people forget the primacy of ethics when human life is involved, he said.

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Pope cautions against destructive polemics in the church

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"



By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Following weeks of controversy involving two of his decisions, Pope Benedict XVI has twice cautioned against destructive polemics inside the church.

The pope, speaking in German at his noon blessing Feb. 22, asked for prayers to St. Peter so that "disturbances and storms do not shake the church" and that Catholics remain united in faith and love.

Two days earlier, addressing students at Rome's diocesan seminary, the pope recalled St. Paul's admonition to Galatian Christians not to "go on biting and devouring one another" but instead to be guided by the Spirit.

"St. Paul refers here to the polemics that emerge where faith degenerates into intellectualism and humility is replaced by the arrogance of being better than the other," the pope said.

"We see clearly that today, too, there are similar situations where, instead of joining in communion with Christ, in the body of Christ which is the church, each one wants to be superior to the other and with intellectual arrogance maintains that he is better," he said.

"And in this way arise polemics that are destructive, and there arises a caricature of the church, which should have a single soul and a single heart," he said.

The pope was not specific about the recent internal church disputes in either of his talks.

In January, the pope lifted the excommunications of four ultratraditionalist bishops, including Bishop Richard Williamson, who had publicly minimized the Holocaust and said no Jews died in Nazi gas chambers. The Vatican later said the pope had not known about the bishop's views on the Holocaust and certainly did not share them.

The resulting criticism came not only from Jewish groups, but also from some Catholic leaders, particularly in German-speaking countries, who said wider consultation should have occurred before the excommunications were lifted.

A similar reaction occurred when the pope named as an auxiliary bishop of Linz, Austria, Father Gerhard Wagner, who once linked the destruction of Hurricane Katrina to the "spiritual pollution" of New Orleans. After a no-confidence vote by senior clergy in the Linz Diocese, Bishop-designate Wagner asked the pope to withdraw his nomination.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Press Chided for Putting Words in Vatican Mouth

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"

VATICAN CITY, (Zenit.org).- The Vatican spokesman requested journalists to refrain from attributing positions to the Holy See that it has not taken.

A note published Saturday by the Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See's press office, claims that "it is not rare that the media attribute to the 'Vatican' -- by which they mean the Holy See -- comments and points of view that cannot automatically be attributed to it."

He explained: "The Holy See, in fact, when it intends to authoritatively express itself uses the proper means and suitable ways -- communiqués, notes, declarations. Every other pronouncement does not have the same value."

Father Lombardi concluded: "Even recently, there have been inopportune attributions.

"The Holy See, in its representative organs, shows respect for civil authorities, which in their legitimate autonomy have the right and the duty to provide for the common good."

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"Catholics" United Targets Archbishop Naumann, Defends Pro-abort Gov. Sebelius

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"


Denver, Colo., (CNA).- In a startling defense of legal abortion supporter Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, Catholics United has attacked Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, accusing him being more interested in trying to score political points against the governor than in crafting effective abortion policy within the reality of politics.

The salvo from Catholics United comes as advisors to President Obama have told the press that he has decided on Sebelius as his next secretary of Health and Human Services nominee.

Kathleen Sebelius, who professes to be Catholic, has a problematic record on abortion.

Although Catholics United mentions the Kansas governor’s "tireless support for children's health care and education, and her efforts to provide public financing for adoption and pregnancy support centers," the group fails to mention her 30 years of simultaneously advocating to keep abortion legal.

In the Spring of 2008, Archbishop Naumann met with Gov. Sebelius to ensure that she understood the gravity of her position. After meeting with her, Archbishop Naumann asked her to stop receiving Communion.

As Archbishop Naumann explained to CNA, he requested that Gov. Sebelius stop receiving Communion because of her "30-year history of advocating and acting in support of legalized abortion."

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Archbishop Responds to Pelosi-Pope Meeting

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"

Denver, Colo.,(CNA).- Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver is in complete agreement with the message that Pope Benedict XVI delivered to Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday. The archbishop also went so far as to say that since she disagrees with the Church on the "black and white issue" of abortion, she should not present herself for Communion.

The comments by Archbishop Chaput were made following Nancy Pelosi’s meeting with Pope Benedict, at which the Pope reminded the Speaker of the House that all legislators, but especially Catholics, are bound to protect human life from conception to natural death.

FOX News’ Neil Cavuto invited Archbishop Chaput to give his reaction to the Pope-Pelosi meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

Cavuto began by pointing out the disparity between Pelosi’s statement about the meeting and the Pope’s.

"I got very different reads from both the Pope’s message of that meeting and the speaker’s, but the gist of the Pope’s is that, she has a duty to respect life, what did you make of that?" said Cavuto.

"Well it’s true," replied the archbishop. "Every Catholic, whether you’re famous or anonymous, whether you’re a public official or a private citizen, has a responsibility to be faithful to what the Church believes about human life, and we believe that human life is sacred and precious from the moment of conception. So that applies to the Speaker as well as it does to me and to you and to anyone who’s Catholic."

Referring to a previous interview regarding Pelosi’s comment that when life begins is not agreed upon by Catholic teaching, Cavuto asked, "isn’t it a fairly black and white issue?"

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Republican Leaders Thank Cardinal, Will Continue Pro-life Fight in Congress

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"


Washington D.C.,(CNA).- Two Republican leaders have replied to Cardinal Justin Rigali’s Feb. 5 letter on abortion policy in which the prelate urged that “extreme” pro-abortion rights measures be defeated and that pro-life provisions in appropriations bills be maintained.

The cardinal, who wrote the letter to each member of Congress in his capacity as Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Pro-Life Activities, had highlighted the postcard campaign calling for the defeat of the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) and any other similar measures.

U.S. House Republican Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) and Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, thanked Cardinal Rigali for his letter, saying:

“Despite the limitations of being in the minority, we are committed to working with our pro-life colleagues on both sides of the aisle to proactively defeat efforts to enact the so-called Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) or any similar measure. We are similarly committed to working to retain, and not weaken, laws that prohibit using federal funds for the purpose of promoting or funding promotion of abortion.”

They pledged to try to retain abortion funding restrictions like the Hyde Amendment, the Dickey/Wicker Amendment, the Hyde/Weldon Conscience Protection Amendment and the Kemp-Kasten Amendment.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI Fails To Give Pelosi Her Longed-For "Photo Op"

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"

Pope Benedict Instructs Nancy Pelosi

Wednesday February 18, 2009

Following the Holy Father's General Audience on Wednesday, February 18, Pope Benedict met briefly with U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), a self-described "ardent Catholic" who publicly dissents from Church teaching on abortion and contraception. According to an Associated Press account, the meeting took place "in a small room of a Vatican auditorium."

As I had predicted (see "What Will the Pope Say to Nancy Pelosi?"), neither the Holy Father nor Speaker Pelosi offered a public statement during the audience, which (the AP notes) "was closed to reporters and photographers." Normally, when the Holy Father meets with a high-ranking governmental official, photographers are allowed, even if the discussion is kept private.

As Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi is second in the line of succession to the U.S. presidency, behind only Vice President Joseph Biden, another Catholic who dissents from Church teaching on abortion and contraception.

After the meeting, Speaker Pelosi did not meet with reporters or offer any comments (though a Reuters report notes that a "spokesman for Pelosi said she would issue a statement later in the day"), but the Vatican Press Office issued the following statement:

His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.
The statement is in line with what I had expected, and as I predicted in the previous article, it addresses the public aspect of Pelosi's dissent from Church teaching, while not telling us what private words Pope Benedict might have offered Speaker Pelosi regarding the danger that this dissent poses to her soul.

The statement from the Vatican Press Office, however, even though it is couched in the most diplomatic of language, should reassure those Catholics and other pro-life Christians who thought that Speaker Pelosi's meeting with the Holy Father would somehow legitimacy to her pro-abortion views. And if a picture is worth a thousand words, the lack of a photo opportunity speaks volumes.

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Pope: Catholic politicians must protect life

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"


By VICTOR L. SIMPSON
Associated Press Writer


VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday told U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a Catholic who supports abortion rights, that Catholic politicians have a duty to protect life "at all stages of its development," the Vatican said.
Pelosi is the first top Democrat to meet with Benedict since the election of Barack Obama, who won a majority of the Catholic vote despite differences with the Vatican on abortion.

The Vatican released remarks by the pope to Pelosi, saying Benedict spoke of the church's teaching "on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death." That is an expression often used by the pope when expressing opposition to abortion.

Benedict said all Catholics—especially legislators, jurists and political leaders—should work to create "a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development."

Pelosi could not immediately be reached after the 15-minute meeting, which was closed to reporters and photographers. The two met in a small room of a Vatican auditorium after the pope's weekly public audience.

A number of the bishops in the United States have questioned Pelosi's stance on abortion, particularly her theological defense of her support for abortion rights.

Benedict has cautiously welcomed the new Democratic administration, although several American cardinals have sharply criticized its support of abortion rights in a break from former President George W. Bush.

Pelosi had meetings with Italian leaders the past few days, including Premier Silvio Berlusconi.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Birmingham Jails Nine Pro-Life Protesters, Civil Rights Violations Alleged

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"

Birmingham, Ala.,(CNA).- Pro-life protesters who were arrested on a public sidewalk near a high school in Birmingham, Alabama on Thursday have accused police of violating their ‘basic civil rights.’

The Survivors Campus Life Tour said that nine protesting group members were standing on a public sidewalk near Parker High School distributing educational literature to passing students. Two of the group’s members held large signs and conversed with students on the public sidewalk.

According to the group, a campus officer called the police department when they refused to leave the area.

Over a dozen squad cars reportedly arrived at the school and the police officers began arresting members of the group.

Lahoci Franco, 24, one of the sign holders, was the first arrested. According to the group’s press release, protestor Rev. Henry “Bud” Shaver, 30, was told that the sidewalk was not public property for “non-citizens of Birmingham.”

After other protesters were arrested, another group of Survivors members began packing up their van when officers reportedly approached and arrested them as well.

The protesters then were taken to the Birmingham City Jail, where they were reportedly forced to change into orange jumpsuits. Survivors Campus Life Tour says the protesters were held for six hours without water or access to a phone.

Protesters said they learned several of the guards at the jail also serve as security guards at a local abortion clinic.

The women were released at 7 a.m. and the men at 9 a.m. on Friday morning.

The group claims protesters were released without any citations but were given bond forms stating a “charge of trespassing.”

“We were arrested yesterday because of the content of our message,” claimed Kortney Blythe, Director of the Survivors Campus Life Tours. “It's clear from the attitudes and actions of the police officers that our message of life is not welcome in Birmingham, and prejudice is alive and well in this city. It is a shame that this historic city which saw the Civil Rights movement firsthand continues to refuse basic civil rights to peaceful activists simply on the basis of their message.”

“We are shocked by the Birmingham Police Department's response to our peaceful actions, and we call upon the Chief of Police to initiate a thorough investigation of yesterday's horrifying civil rights abuses,” she continued, saying the group’s pro-life work would continue regardless of the actions of “prejudiced police officers.”

Fr. Terry Gensemer, Rector of the Church of the Reconciler Charismatic Episcopal Church in Fairfield, called the situation “ironic” in light of Birmingham’s history in the Civil Rights Movement.

“The actions by the Birmingham Police Department are not only deplorable and shameful but are in direct conflict with the spirit and passion of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who stated that ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’. These young people who have correctly included unborn children as persons deserving of civil rights should be commended, not condemned.”

CNA contacted the Birmingham Police Department for comment but the appropriate spokesperson was not available by publication time.

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Analysis: Censorship and Christianity, Believers and Pro-Lifers Targeted by Political Correctness

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"



By Father John Flynn, LC

ROME,(Zenit.org).- Censorship is back; not against pornography or unpopular political opinions, but against Christianity and pro-life opinions. A number of recent cases highlight the trend to silence unpopular convictions.

A Baptist nurse, Caroline Petrie, was suspended from her job at the North Somerset Primary Care Trust for offering to pray for a patient, reported the Telegraph on Feb. 1. Last December, when she was attending a patient, Petrie offered to pray for her.

The patient did not accept her offer, and Petrie did not persist. Subsequently, Petrie was suspended.

The patient concerned, May Phippen, subsequently told the Telegraph newspaper in an article published the following day that she had not made a complaint about Petrie's offer and that all she did was to mention it to another nurse. Phippen also said she did not want Petrie to be dismissed over the issue.

The Christian Medical Fellowship said Caroline Petrie's suspension amounted to religious discrimination, reported the Daily Mail newspaper Feb. 3.

The fellowship's general secretary, Peter Saunders, told the paper that there are thousands of Christian health care workers, along with people of other faiths, and that prayer is a normal daily part of their lives.

"A sensitive inquiry as to whether a patient would value prayer may well be an appropriate part of a medical consultation especially in an NHS [National Health Service] where some NHS trusts actually pay spiritual healers as part of the care team," said Saunders.

Following widespread protests and media coverage of the suspension, Petrie was told she could return to work, the BBC reported Feb. 5.

"Of all professions, nursing is one that is firmly rooted in the Christian tradition," commented the Anglican bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, in an opinion article on the matter in the Telegraph newspaper Feb. 7.

Withdrawing faith

"The long withdrawing roar of the sea of faith seems to be getting louder," he observed. "Nurses cannot pray, the Creed cannot be recited at Christian services for fear of offending nonbelievers, Christian marriage counselors are removed because they believe in Christian marriage and Christian adoption agencies cannot be publicly funded because they believe that children are best brought up in a family with a mother and father to look after them."

Strong words, but whose accuracy was supported by the news a few days later that a British publisher, Wiley-Blackwell, pulped a four-volume Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization, for being too Christian.

The news of this episode of book burning came from Edward Feser, one of the contributors to the encyclopedia, in an article published Feb. 11 by National Review Online.

The encyclopedia had been fact-checked, edited and approved by the publisher, then printed and formally launched, explained Feser.

What happened next, he continued, was that a small group of scholars protested about the "excessive" Christian content. They also objected to the use of chronological terms such as BC and AD, and wanted more "balance" by adding material attacking Christianity.

The revelation of the encyclopedia's destruction came on the heels of the news that a foster mother was struck off by council authorities after a teenage Muslim girl she was looking after converted to Christianity.

The foster mother has looked after 80 children over the last 10 years, she told the Daily Mail newspaper in a Feb. 7 article. "It is also my entire income," she explained. "I am a single carer, so that is all I have to live on."

The woman insisted she had not pressured the 16-year-old girl to convert. According to the Daily Mail the girl had been interested in Christianity before being placed in foster care.

The carer is taking legal action against the council, with the help of the Christian Institute. Mike Judge, a spokesman for the group, told the newspaper: "I cannot imagine that an atheist foster carer would be struck off if a Christian child in her care stopped believing in God."

Another episode of selective action against Christianity took place last year, when an Anglican priest was no longer welcome to appear on the BBC, reported the Telegraph newspaper Sept. 14.

The Reverend G. P. Taylor is the author of "Shadowmancer," which was on the top of book sales for 15 weeks in 2003. He had previously appeared in a number of programs by the BBC, but he explained: "Once they had decided that I was promoting Christianity in my books I found the door firmly shut."

"We can't be seen to be promoting Jesus," Taylor was told by a BBC producer, according to the Telegraph.

Club banned

Meanwhile, in Canada, a group that protests against abortion had its status as a club revoked last Tuesday by the student union at the University of Calgary, reported the Calgary Herald, Feb. 11.

After a hearing that took a bare 10 minutes the clubs committee took the decision because they said that the Campus Pro-Life club violated policy in its display of the Genocide Awareness Project. The decision means a loss of access to facilities and funding.

The club had displayed graphic photos of aborted fetuses on the campus. Club secretary, Asia Strezynski, asked the student union what specific policy the exposition had violated, but the committee did not reply to her question.

Even before the decision to suspend the club was taken the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) warned that denying status to groups protesting against abortion is an infringement on free speech, reported the Globe and Mail, Feb. 2.

The CCLA sent a letter to the Canadian Federation of Students, objecting to a resolution supporting student unions that deny funding and office space for anti-abortion groups.

It's not the first time pro-life groups have been censored by Canadian university student unions. Last year Students for Bioethical Awareness complained about a cancellation of a public debate on abortion, and also about being denied the use of university facilities, reported the National Post newspaper June 27.

Funding question

In the United States, no stranger to disputes over the role of religion in the public square, government funding of charitable activities run by the Catholic Church is under threat.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint in a federal court in Boston, alleging that the Church is imposing its religious views on victims of human trafficking by not allowing government funds to be used for contraception, condoms and abortion, reported the Associated Press, Jan. 12.

The lawsuit claims that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the source of the funds, has allowed the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to limit the services its subcontractors provide.

According to the Associated Press, the bishops' conference began administering the funds in 2006, using social service organizations as subcontractors to provide the services.

"We will continue to provide those services in the contract that are consistent with our belief in the life and dignity of the human person," said Sister Mary Ann Walsh in the article.

A society that is secular in a healthy way does not ignore the spiritual dimension and its values, Benedict XVI recommended in his Jan. 8 speech to the members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See.

Religion, the Pope said, "is not an obstacle but rather a solid foundation for the building of a more just and free society." A statement that raises the question about what sort of society we will have if Christianity is censored and excluded.

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Rediscover Confession, Urges Benedict XVI

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"

Rediscover Confession, Urges Benedict XVI


Calls It Sacrament of Forgiveness



VATICAN CITY, (Zenit.org).- Sin is what puts distance between the believer and God, and it's the sacrament of confession that brings the two back together, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope said this today in a Gospel reflection on Mark's account of the healed leper, which he delivered before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

In the Gospel account, recalls the Pontiff, the leper "gets on his knees and says: 'If you wish, you can make me clean!' Jesus, moved, stretches out his hand, touches him and says: 'I do wish it. Be made clean!'"

"According to the ancient Jewish law," the Holy Father explained, "leprosy was not only considered a sickness but the gravest form of 'impurity.'"

He continued: "Leprosy thus constituted a kind of religious and civil death, and its healing was a kind of resurrection. We might see in leprosy a symbol of sin, which is the true impurity of heart, distancing us from God.

"It is not, in effect, physical malady that distances us from him, as the ancient norms supposed, but sin, the spiritual and moral evil."

Benedict XVI reflected: "The sins we commit distance us from God, and, if they are not humbly confessed, trusting in the divine mercy, they will finally bring about the death of the soul. This miracle thus has powerful symbolic value.

"In the Sacrament of Penance Christ crucified and risen, through his ministers, purifies us with his infinite mercy, restores us to communion with the heavenly Father and our brothers, and makes a gift of his love, joy and peace to us."

"Dear brothers and sisters," he concluded, "let us invoke the Virgin Mary, whom God preserved from every stain of sin, that she help us to avoid sin and to have frequent recourse to the sacrament of confession, the sacrament of forgiveness, whose value and importance for our Christian life needs to be rediscovered today."

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Mystic Monk Coffee : "Standing on Holy Grounds!"

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"

Mystic Monk Coffee - The Portiuncula Hermitage Is Offering Fair Trade/Organic Coffee

Please remember that when you buy Mystic Monk Coffee through the Portiuncula Hermitage, ten percent of all their commission sales is donated to Birthright (a loving alternative to abortion.)

Mystic Monk Coffee is pleased to offer the socially conscious consumer a coffee that respects the value of every human life. Fair Trade/Organic is a decision to act with social justice. With the silky rich garnish of chocolate, Guatemalan has an acidity that is enjoyable with or without cream. From a distant land of beauty, enjoy a coffee that many consider to be one of the finest.

To order, simply scroll down right side of this page and click on the

"MYSTIC MONK COFFEE" Icon!


You can order:

Breakfast Blend
Carmel (reg. or decaf.)
Chocolate Cherry (reg. or decaf.)
Chocolate Mint (reg. or decaf.)
Colombian
Cowboy Blend
Dark Roast Colombian
Decaffeinated Colombian
Espresso Blend
Ethiopian
Fair Trade Organic Decaffeinated Mexican
Fair Trade Organic Ethiopian
Fair Trade Organic Guatemalan
French Vanilla (reg. or decaf.)
Hazelnut (reg. or decaf.)
Hermits' Bold Blend
Irish Cream (reg. or decaf.)
Midnight Vigils Blend
Mystic Monk Blend
Royal Rum Pecan (reg. or decaf.)
Sumatran

Please remember to keep our pre-born in your daily prayers!

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Among Pro-Life Leaders - Fr. Groeschel, Scheidler - A Real Hope That Obama Will Convert

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"



Editorial by John-Henry Westen

WASHINGTON, DC, (LifeSiteNews.com) - To me, one of the most startling things about this year's March for Life in Washington was the number of pro-life leaders who expressed a real hope that President Barack Obama would convert and become pro-life. I don't mean that regular hope that we all retain (especially us converts or reverts) that no one is ever lost completely until death. I mean a hope with a sprinkle of real optimism.

Speaking with EWTN personality Father Benedict Groeschel after the Vigil Mass for the March for Life on January 21, the saintly priest said, "I'm praying that the present Administration may fool them all and have a conversion. Why not pray for that?" Just plain old hope you might say. But the co-founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal added: "And it’s interesting, that one of New York's prominent newspapers - we generally refer to it as the Gray Lady - has criticized Obama almost every day for four weeks for being too conservative. Isn't that an interesting turn of events? So let's see how that one plays out."

Speaking the next day with veteran pro-life leader Joe Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League, I got that same sentiment. Scheidler talked to a group of pro-life activists gathered for the March about Obama's book, The Audacity of Hope; and he concluded that the President is "obsessed with abortion." The book mentions abortion 26 times.

Scheidler encouraged his listeners to pray for Obama's conversion, to work on him. "Anybody is subject to conversion," he said. "Because of his obsession, I think we have a chance," he added. Scheidler told me he prays for Obama's conversion "every day," adding, however, that he will naturally fight Obama on his anti-life policies "tooth and nail" and not count on a conversion.

Nellie Gray, the leader of the March for Life in Washington, took the optimism to a new level as she told the March for Life participants from the stage that she really believed that Obama would convert and bring an end to abortion.

To be fair, these remarks were made prior to Friday January 23, when Obama overturned the Mexico City Policy. However, they speak to the sense that Obama is, fundamentally, a ‘good guy.’ This image plays not only to the masses who are Obama fans and those who accept his TV image, but also to those viewing him critically.

Obama's warm reception and engagement with Evangelical Pastor Rick Warren did much to render that image. 'If he can get along with pro-life and pro-family Rick Warren', the logic goes, 'then he can't be all that bad.' Indeed Obama is not a raving anti-Christian lunatic who wouldn't give the likes of Warren the time of day. Rather Obama is measured, friendly, even “spiritual,” a hero for worldly wisdom, if you will.

However, given Obama's steadfastness in pursing the anti-life and anti-family agenda this image of friendliness, of being a 'good guy', could turn out to be one of his most dangerous attributes. Worse than a raving madman who would target pro-life and pro-family Americans, displaying, as it were, his “true colors,” would be an affable and apparently good-hearted man who could convince America that for the greater good of the nation, pro-life and pro-family Americans should be 'converted' to the new morality, even coercively, under the pretense that it is in their own best interests.

Those thoughts aside, we too hope for Obama's conversion. But we must see it for what it would really be - a conversion like that of the Biblical St. Paul. Saul, as he was called prior to his conversion, witnessed and consented to the martyrdom of St. Stephen, and, as the Scripture says, "Saul made havoc of the church, entering in from house to house, and dragging away men and women, committed them to prison."

I hope and pray for Obama's conversion, because nothing is impossible with God. And I hope that his conversion comes about soon, to spare the lives of countless unborn children, to spare misery to their mothers, and spare the rights and freedoms of Christians in America. If this were to happen before the end of June it would be fitting, since Pope Benedict XVI declared June 2008-June 2009 the year of St. Paul, in celebration of the 2,000th anniversary of the saint's birth.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Morning After Pill Distribution Denounced in Latin America

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"


Lima, Feb 12, 2009 (CNA).- The Director for Latin America of the Population Research Institute, Carlos Polo, expressed his bewilderment this week at the “efficiency” of Peru’s Ministry of Health in coordinating the distribution of the morning after pill at all of the country’s health care facilitates just days after the a federal Court in Lima ruled the pill is not an abortifacient.

Speaking to Catholic News Agency, Polo pointed to statements by Lucy Del Carpio, National Coordinator for Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare Strategies of the Ministry of Health, who said on Peruvian radio that “in all the healthcare facilities of the country the Emergency Oral Contraceptive, also known as the morning after pill, is being distributed free of charge.”

“Could the Ministry of Health be so efficient in correcting this ‘deficiency’ of morning after pills for poor women in just a few days? Does the Ministry act just as quickly in the case of antibiotics, vaccines and other basic medicines?” Polo questioned.

Polo noted that in 2004, then-Minister of Justice, Baldo Kresalia, said the morning after pill could be constitutional and could therefore be distributed if it was shown that it was not an abortifacient.

“Or have they been ignoring the courts all this time? I think more than one explanation needs to given here,” Polo went on to say, adding that “information from manufacturers of the drug in developed countries continues to indicate that the drug has an anti-implantation mechanism.”

Therefore Polo criticized the left wing NGOs, former ministers and congressmen who are “praising” the ruling by the Court, claiming that it is beneficial to poor women.

He expressed amazement at how the promoters of the pill conspired to argue that the “morning after pill is not abortifacient because they take the moment of implantation to be the beginning of life.” Polo noted in response that science has shown that human life begins “with the fertilization of the egg by the sperm.”

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Bishop says he feels 'media hatred,' court rulings hurting church

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"


PEORIA, Ill. (CNS) -- Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria said he was becoming "increasingly concerned" that the Catholic Church "in effect no longer enjoys equal justice under the law." He cited what he called the media's "intense hatred for the Catholic faith" amid the tensions of the country's "culture wars" as well as "recent decisions in the Illinois courts" that "may make our legal situation more difficult in the future." Bishop Jenky made the comments in a letter to priests, religious, deacons and parishioners that was distributed the weekend of Feb. 7-8. In January the 3rd District Appellate Court of Illinois reversed a Peoria court ruling that dismissed lawsuits by alleged abuse victims on the grounds they had waited too long to claim abuse. The ruling is expected to be appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court. "It should be noted that the sexual abuse of minors cuts across all socioeconomic lines, ethnicities, ministries and religions," Bishop Jenky said in his letter. "It is important to remember that the state basically exempts its own institutions from civil litigation."

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Archbishop gives Irish audience 'do's and don'ts' on promoting life

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"


By Nancy Frazier O'Brien
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The pro-life community must not become too closely aligned to one political party, waste energy on internal bickering or become diverted by false arguments, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver told an Irish audience.

Addressing the Irish chapter of Human Life International Feb. 8 in Dublin, the archbishop offered a list of do's and don'ts on "building and promoting a culture of life" from the American perspective. Abortion is prohibited in Ireland, except to save the life of the mother.

"Americans now have a kind of schizophrenia about the abortion issue," Archbishop Chaput said in his speech posted on the Denver archdiocesan Web site. "Most believe abortion is wrong. But most also want it legal under some limited circumstances."

He strongly criticized the U.S. abortion industry for its "very shrewd political lobbyists" and its "public relations machine that would make George Orwell's Ministry of Truth look amateur."

But he also acknowledged that the U.S. pro-life movement has made some mistakes.

"The fast pace of party politics, and the illusion that politics rules the 'commanding heights' of our society and can fulfill our Christian social obligations, makes political life very addictive," he said. "And this illusion gets dangerous when defending the unborn child is too closely identified with any particular politician or, even worse, one specific party.

"The more pro-lifers tie themselves to a single political party, the less they can speak to society at large," Archbishop Chaput said. "In the United States, Catholics -- both on the right and the left -- have too often made the mistake of becoming cheerleaders for a specific candidate."

He also said he has sometimes been "baffled by how much energy is wasted on internal pro-life bickering."

"Acrimony within the pro-life movement is a gift to the other side," the archbishop warned. "It's also a form of theft from the unborn children who will suffer the consequences of our division."

Another area to be avoided, Archbishop Chaput said, is the creation or acceptance of "false oppositions" or options that involve "either/or" choices. As an example, he cited "so-called pro-life organizations" that have argued for an end to the legal struggle against abortion in favor of efforts to find "common ground" and reduce the number of abortions.

"Did Americans take a gradual, social improvement road to 'reducing' racism?" he asked. "No. We passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Nor have I ever heard anyone suggest that the best way to deal with murder, rape or domestic abuse is to improve the availability of health care and job training. We make rape illegal -- even though we know it will still sometimes tragically occur -- because rape is gravely evil."

Archbishop Chaput also rejected arguments that Americans who oppose abortion should "put this 'divisive issue behind us.'"

"There's something a little odd about rhetoric that tells us we are the 'divisive' ones, and lectures adult citizens about what we should challenge, and when we should stop," he said. "In a democracy, we get to decide that for ourselves."

In his list of "do's" Archbishop Chaput urged his audience to "keep hope alive," as Americans do with the March for Life that brings hundreds of thousands to Washington each year, and to use new technologies such as blogs, social networks and YouTube channels to deliver the pro-life message, especially to young people.

"The new Internet, if used well, can break through the wall of silence pro-lifers often face from an unfriendly media establishment," he said.

But the Denver archbishop also said it was important for pro-lifers to "be strategic."

"Being sheep in the midst of wolves doesn't mean we can also be dumb as rocks," he said, citing St. Thomas More as "a very adroit thinker and a shrewd, intelligent and prudent political leader as he tried to avoid execution."

That lesson calls for a "big dose of realism" in the pro-life community, he said.
"We should never dream or whine about all the things we could do with the million euros we don't have," Archbishop Chaput said. "We need to focus on the 10 euros we do have.

"History shows that guerrilla wars, if well planned and methodically carried out, can defeat great armies," he added. "And we should never forget that the greatest 'guerrilla' leader of them all wasn't Mao (Zedong) or Che (Guevara), but a young shepherd named David, who became a king."

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

"Catholic" Group's Abortion Reduction Claim Found Erroneous

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"


Washington DC, Feb 11, 2009 (CNA).- Until recently, a Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good study of abortion data claimed that increased spending on welfare programs results in substantial reductions in state abortion rates but many pro-life laws do not. However, the study’s results have been revised following the discovery that incorrect abortion data was used and after criticism from a professor that the group’s conclusions did not follow from the data.

In August 2008, the group Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good announced the release of a study on the effects of public policy on abortion rates over a 20-year period. The group had commissioned Joseph Wright, who is a political science professor at Penn State University, and Michael Bailey, who is a professor of American government at Georgetown University, to conduct the study.

“The study of all U.S. states from 1982-2000 finds that benefits for pregnant women and mothers, employment, economic assistance to low-income families, quality child care for working mothers and removal of state caps on the number of children eligible for economic assistance in low-income families has reduced abortions,” the group reported in an August 28 press release. “In contrast, permitting Medicaid payments for abortions increased the abortion rate.”

The old version of the report was removed from the site in November 2008 after critics pointed out problems with the study.

The new version credits only Prof. Joseph Wright, acknowledging Prof. Bailey in a footnote for “helpful feedback.”

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Benedict XVI Points to Ladder Leading to God

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"

Benedict XVI Points to Ladder Leading to God


Considers Teaching of 7th-Century Hermit



VATICAN CITY, FEB. 11, 2009 (Zenit.org).- St. John Climacus might have lived a hermit's life on Mt. Sinai some 1,400 years ago, but he still has something to say to Christians today, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope affirmed this today at the general audience in Paul VI Hall, during which he took up again his series dedicated to great Christian writers of the East and West. Last week, he concluded a 20-catechesis series on St. Paul, in the context of the Pauline Jubilee Year that ends in June.

John Climacus, who lived approximately between 575 and 650, became famous with his treatise on the spiritual life, called the "Ladder to Perfection."

The Holy Father today considered John's teachings in the treatise, which he summarized in three stages.

The first stage is renouncing the world and a return to "true childlikeness in the spiritual sense," he said. The second is the fight against the passions. In this stage, each rung of the ladder is linked to a passion, which, the Pontiff explained, is "defined and diagnosed, indicating as well the therapy and proposing the corresponding virtue."

"The whole of these steps undoubtedly constitutes the most important treatise of the spiritual strategy that we possess," he said. "The fight against the passions is seen in a positive light -- it's not viewed as a negative thing -- thanks to the image of the 'fire' of the Holy Spirit."

Finally, in the third stage, the path of Christian perfection is developed with seven rungs.

Benedict XVI explained: "These are the highest phases of the spiritual life. […]

"The last rung of the scale […] is dedicated to the supreme 'trinity of virtues': faith, hope and above all, charity. Regarding charity, John speaks also of eros -- human love -- figure of the matrimonial union of the soul with God. And he chooses yet again the image of fire to express the ardor, light and purification of love by God. […]

"John is convinced that an intense experience of this eros makes the soul advance more than the hard fight against the passions, because its power is great."

At the end of the ladder comes God himself, who John portrays as saying: "May this ladder teach you the spiritual disposition of the virtues. I am at the top of this ladder, as that great mystic of mine said -- St. Paul: Now therefore three things remain: faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love."

Lesson

The Pope acknowledged that it could seem that John's teaching cannot say anything to today's Christian.

"But," he said, "if we look a little closer, we see that such a monastic life is only a great symbol of the life of the baptized, of Christian life. It shows, to say it one way, in large letters what we write every day with little letters. It is a prophetic symbol that reveals what is the life of the baptized, in communion with Christ, with his death and resurrection."

And, he noted: "For me, it is of particular importance the fact that the culmination of the scale, the last rungs, are at the same time the fundamental, initial, simplest virtues: faith, hope and charity.

"These are not virtues accessible only to moral heroes, but are the gift of God for all the baptized. In them our life too grows. The beginning is also the end; the starting point is also the arriving point."

Thus, the Holy Father called Christians to learn from John's teaching on the theological virtues, particularly hope that makes charity possible.

"Only in this extension of our soul, in this self-transcendence, our life is made great and we can bear the tiredness and disillusionment of each day, we can be good to others without expecting a reward," he said.

"Let us use, therefore, this ladder of faith, of hope and of charity," the Pontiff concluded, "and we will thus arrive to true life."



(Note: We could use a few more voices like John Climacus in America today to convert Catholics to Christianity! Then we wouldn't have to concern ourselves with issues like Socialism, Communism or Abortion!)

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"The Fulfillment Of All Desire" by Ralph Martin

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"

"The Fulfillment Of All Desire" by Ralph Martin

I just wanted to let you know about some interesting developments in the work we are doing, mainly through television, so you can note them on your calendars.

First of all, EWTN commissioned a film crew to do a half-hour “profile in faith” on my journey in following the Lord—something I’ve never done before. They will be broadcasting this program tongiht--Thursday, February 5--at 6:30 pm EST. In this interview, I share at a depth of personal detail that I’ve never shared before. Among other things, it even includes photos of my Irish relatives! Those who have seen it say it has great potential to draw people to Christ as I was drawn to him. Thanks be to God!

This program will serve as an “introduction” to the 13 week series on The Fulfillment of All Desire that I taped almost a year ago down in Alabama. Editing on this series has been completed and it is ready to launch. It will run for 13 weeks beginning Monday, March 2 at 5:00 am EST and Thursday, March 5 at 10:30 pm EST. I felt inspired doing this series and I’m looking forward to seeing how it helps people on their journey of faith. So, be sure to tune in on one of those days during the first week of March and every week thereafter for the remainder of the series.

During the first week of March we will be launching a new series of programs of The Choices We Face. Watch it on EWTN every Tuesday or Friday beginning Tuesday, March 3 at 6:00 pm or Friday, March 6 at 6:30 am. (Program times for other networks and stations can be found on our website at www.renewalministries.net and you can also view the program any time by accessing our website.) We have an exciting line-up of guests this year, including Bert Ghezzi, Gerry Faust, Patti Mansfield, Fr. Frank Pavone, Dr. Janet Smith and Fr. John Riccardo.

Finally, be sure to check out the new EWTN series called Crossing the Goal with Danny Abramowicz and our own Peter Herbeck. It is specifically geared toward men and has been well received and highly acclaimed. You can watch it at three different times: Fridays at 6:00 pm EST, Sundays at 6:30 pm EST and Mondays at 6:30 am EST.

Make sure you note these times in your calendar. Also, let your friends know about all these programs and consider inviting them over to watch them with you. As always, we are united in prayer with you. May the Lord bless you abundantly!

Your brother in Christ,

Ralph Martin



Please note: I have read and re-read Ralph Martin's book "The Fulfillment of all Desire" eight times! The only book I have read more often than that is
the Bible. This is an absolute 'must read' for every Christian wishing to dive deeply into the mystical love of Jesus!

Chris Dickson

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Mystic Monk Coffee: Order Through Portiuncula And Donate To Birthright (a loving alternative to Abortion)

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"

The Carmelite Monks of Wyoming

Mystic Monk Coffee is roasted by the Carmelite Monks, a Roman Catholic monastery in the silence and solitude of the Rocky Mountains of northern Wyoming. The monks live a hidden life of prayer and contemplation in the pursuit of God. The monastery is inundated with young men who seek to leave everything to pray for the world, in a tradition at least a thousand years old. It is the monks’ great joy and privilege to share the fruit of their life with you in every cup of Mystic Monk Coffee.


The Monk Master Roaster

Br. Java is the master roaster who meticoulosly roasts beans in small batches. His philosophy is that each roast must be not only the labor of his hands, but a master roast of the highest quality. Br. Java is passionate about obtaining the perfect roasts for you. He carefully roasts only the finest gourmet beans under conditions that will make each roast consistent and smooth with a taste that will make your taste buds tingle. With experience and perfection, Mystic Monk Coffee is a coffee to savor and enjoy – with or without cream.


The Legend of the First Mystic Monk

Coffee is a product perfected and loved by monks from its beginning. When a monk of old heard the anguished tale of a shepherd who had sleepless goats, he himself discovered growing on shrubs the berries, which had such a wonderful affect. Delighted at his find, the ingenious monk boiled the beans in water and drank the resulting coffee. He found in his discovery a hot drink that could keep his eyes awake even amidst the midnight vigils and unceasing prayers of the monastic life.


The secret of coffee continues to keep monks ever alert and vigilant for their prayers, but now Mystic Monk Coffee shares the hidden, master roasts of m ...
Please remember that when you buy Mystic Monk Coffee through the Portiuncula Hermitage, ten percent of all their commission sales is donated to Birthright (a loving alternative to abortion.)

Please remember to keep our pre-born in your daily prayers!

To order direct, simply click on the Mystic Monk Coffee Icon
on the Right Side of this page:

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Faith Based Office Now "Family Planning"

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"


My father used to say there aren't many problems that couldn't be solved with a little duct tape. But liberals today seem to think there's nothing that can't be solved by condoms. Condoms are the liberal ShamWOW! It'll clean up any mess.

Truly, what is it with liberals and condoms? The solution to global warming? Condoms. Solution to HIV? Condoms. Poverty? Condoms. The deficit? Condoms. Solution to abortion? Condoms.

In fact, the only time liberals even talk about trying to reduce abortions is when they're trying to push free condoms.

The federal government has given out millions and millions of condoms at this point but none of these problems are resolved. We've sent so many condoms to Africa, every single person there could build spacious rubber rafts and just row to America for goodness sakes.

In fact, liberals so love condoms that one of the first things President Obama did as President was to force American taxpayers to ship condoms to everyone outside the United States -and in case that didn't work there's always abortion.

So now that the United States will be throwing enough money to cover every other country in the whole world in synthetic rubber, I'm guessing the liberals began feeling a little jealous and wondering what they could do to increase the supply of domestic condoms.

The answer came today. Obama is hijacking George W. Bush's Office of Faith Based Programs, renaming it, and tweaking their mission just a wee bit so that their main job will be doling out condoms right here in the good old U.S. of A. And guess what they're labeling it - abortion reduction!

Note to newly renamed Faith Based Office of whatever - contraception leads to more extra-marital sex which leads to unwanted babies which leads to more abortions. It's really not that difficult. But they don't really care about truth. Their obsession with condoms doesn't allow for truth.

According to NPR:

President Obama launches his faith-based programs today, appointing pastor Josh DuBois to head up operations. The program departs from President Bush's by focusing on family planning...


According to the USCCB,
a study published in the August 18, 2000 British Medical Journal shows that teens who consult with medical professionals about contraception actually have a higher rate of pregnancy than those who don’t. As to contraception reducing the number of abortions, other studies show that “over 80 percent of young women who have had abortions are contraceptively experienced.” In fact, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, over half of women having abortions say they were using a contraceptive in the month they became pregnant.
Can any person believe right now that any of our problems in America are actually due to a lack of condoms? Well I guess at least one person...and unfortunately he's our President.

Posted by matthew archbold at 12:01 AM
http://custosfidei.blogspot.com/

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Laity urged to be stronger advocates for church issues in civic arena

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"


BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CNS) -- Speaking to members of the Cathedral Club of Brooklyn, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio said laypeople must take a more active role in politics and community affairs. He urged lay Catholics to be advocates for "the unborn child, all who have been marginalized or abused, our schoolchildren and their parents, the alien in our midst, those impacted by the darkness of war, and the soldier serving in distant lands." The Brooklyn bishop spoke at the annual dinner of the Cathedral Club Jan. 29 in the main ballroom of the New York Hilton in Manhattan. Honored at the dinner was Joseph Pistilli, president, CEO and chairman of the board of First Central Savings Bank. But Bishop DiMarzio warned that Catholics "face monumental attacks that distract from the positive vision and the work we seek to accomplish." He said, "As many of you know, the state Assembly has proposed legislation that would have a devastating impact on our church and exploit a painful chapter in our history -- namely, the statute of limitation rollback for cases of sexual abuse of minors."

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Pope Warns Brazil Against Moral Poverty

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"


Says It Could Lead to Weakened Society

VATICAN CITY, (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI invited Brazil's new envoy to the Holy See to consider moral education as a way to combat a prevailing poverty of values in the country.

The Pope praised today the efforts of Brazil in its struggle for greater social justice upon receiving the letters of credence of Luiz Felipe de Seixas Corrêa, and highlighted some areas of specific concern for the Church.

The Pontiff called for the promotion of "fundamental human values," such as the family and the protection of all life "from the moment of conception to natural end."

He also underlined the "defense of ethical principles that do not damage but protect the existence of the embryo and its right to be born."

"In a climate of solidarity and mutual understanding," the Holy Father continued, "the government seeks to support initiatives that favor the struggle against poverty, and against shortcomings in technological training, both at national and international levels."

Benedict XVI acknowledged that Brazil's "policy of internal redistribution of income has facilitated a greater well-being among the population." He called on the country to "continue to encourage a better distribution of wealth, increasing social justice for the good of the people."

Spiritually poor

He asserted, "Over and above material poverty, the moral poverty which is spreading throughout the world also has a decisive influence, even where there is no lack of material goods."

The Pope continued: "In fact, the danger of consumerism and hedonism, together with the lack of solid moral principles to guide the lives of ordinary citizens, weakens the structure of Brazilian families and society.

"For this reason we cannot over emphasize the urgent need for solid moral formation at all levels -- including the political sphere -- in order to counter an ongoing threat from persisting materialist ideologies, and in particular the temptation to corruption in managing public and private finances.

"To this end, Christianity can provide a useful contribution […] as a religion of peace and freedom and to serve the true good of humanity."

The Pontiff spoke about the "sincere collaboration that the Church -- while performing her own mission -- wishes to maintain with the Brazilian government" for the "integral development of the person."

He lauded the "convergence of principles, both of the Apostolic See and your government, with respect to threats to world peace, when it is affected by a lack of vision of respect for others in their human dignity."

The Holy Father added, "The objectives of the Church […] and the state, although distinct, intersect on a point of convergence: the good of the human person and the common good of a nation."

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Monday, February 09, 2009

BERTONE-BERLUSCONI TELEPHONE CONVERSATION DENIED

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"

VATICAN CITY,(VIS) - Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. today released the following declaration denying a claim made by the Italian newspaper "La Stampa" that Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had spoken by telephone concerning the suspension of tube hydration and feeding to Eluana Englaro, an Italian woman who has been in a coma since 1992:

"We categorically deny the report published this morning, with such emphasis, by an Italian daily newspaper, concerning a supposed telephone conversation between Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The news is completely unfounded".

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Obama Taps Liberal to Head Revamped Faith-based Office

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"

Washington DC, (CNA).- Joshua DuBois, a 26-year-old former associate pastor who handled religious outreach for President Barack Obama’s presidential bid, will head up the administration’s new Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Mr. DuBois, who grew up in Nashville, Tennesse, and Xenia, Ohio, is the stepson of a minister at an African Methodist Episcopal church, a branch of Christianity born in protest against slavery in 1816.

While studying at Boston University, Mr. DuBois became an evangelical Christian and joined Calvary Praise and Worship Center, a small African-American Pentecostal congregation in Cambridge. He became an associate pastor at age 18.

He started his political career as an aide to Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), then took a position as a fellow in the office of Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-NY), both staunchly pro-abortion. He has also participated in Sojourners, a group of liberal Christians headed by Jim Wallis that claims to be pro-life without working to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Sen. Obama hired DuBois in 2005 to spearhead a religious outreach program in his senate office, and he quickly became Obama's consultant on all faith-related issues.

In 2007, the liberal group "Faith in Public Life" described DuBois as "guarded in discussing his personal positions" on critical issues, especially abortion.

In fact, he resisted disclosing his view on abortion during an interview with the evangelical magazine WORD in 2007. Nevertheless, he has adhered to the "let's move beyond the legal battle and let's reduce abortions" argument that has been promoted by organizations like Catholics United and Catholic in Alliance for the Common Good. Both claim to be non-partisan, but have significant ties with the Democrat Party.

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US Bishop Protests Taxes-for-Abortions

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"



Urges Congress to Maintain Current Pro-life Laws



WASHINGTON, D.C.,(Zenit.org).- The United States has some "modest, common-sense" policies supported by pro-lifers and abortion advocates, and a U.S. bishops' official is urging Congress to protect them.

This appeal came in a Feb. 5 letter written by Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the bishops' Committee for Pro-life Activities.

He noted that one of Congress' first orders of business this session is examining appropriations bills to keep federal programs funded, and in this process, the bishop warned against removing anti-abortion clauses.

Noting the widespread lack of support for the Freedom of Choice Act, he cautioned: "While an extreme proposal like FOCA would overturn hundreds of pro-life laws at once, we are equally concerned that such laws may be overturned one at a time during Congress' appropriations process."

"Lawmakers who disagree about the legal status of abortion have long agreed that Americans should not be forced by government to support or participate in abortion against their will," the cardinal added. "Efforts to coerce consciences in this way violate any possible definition of 'pro-choice,' and undermine our nation’s long tradition of respect for conscience and religious freedom."

Making sense:

Cardinal Rigali went on to list several amendments to protect, legislation with aims ranging from keeping American tax dollars from funding abortions to protecting the rights of conscience for healthcare officials.

"These and similar laws have been in effect for many years, no matter which party controlled Congress or the White House, because they are modest, common-sense policies that are widely supported even among people who disagree on the legal status of abortion," the cardinal affirmed. "In a society that often seems torn between the values of 'choice' and 'life,' it is easy to agree that we should honor the consciences of pregnant women and healthcare professionals who want to choose life.

"In a society that wants to reduce abortions, it makes no sense for government to force its citizens to fund and promote abortion."

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Vatican Official: Bishops Required By Canon Law To Refuse Communion To Pro-Abortion Politicians

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"


Archbishop Raymond Burke has repeated his argument that bishops are obligated by canon law to withhold Communion from public officials who support legal abortion. “The Church’s law is very clear,” the archbishop told LifeSite News in an exclusive interview. Archbishop Burke, formerly of the St. Louis archdiocese, speaks with considerable authority on matters of canon law, since he is now the head of the Apostolic Signatura, the Church’s top canonical court.

Archbishop Burke called “nonsense” the accusation, regularly made by some bishops, that refusing Holy Communion “makes the Communion rail a [political] battle ground.”

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

United Nations Population Fund Leader Says Family Breakdown is a Triumph for Human Rights

"RENEWING THE AMERICAN DREAM"


United Nations Population Fund Leader Says Family Breakdown is a Triumph for Human Rights



...A leader in the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has declared that the breakdown of traditional families, far from being a “crisis,” is actually a triumph for human rights.

Speaking at a colloquium held last month at Colegio Mexico in Mexico City, UNFPA representative Arie Hoekman denounced the idea that high rates of divorce and out-of-wedlock births represent a social crisis, claiming that they represent instead the triumph of “human rights” against “patriarchy.”

"In the eyes of conservative forces, these changes mean that the family is in crisis," he said. "In crisis? More than a crisis, we are in the presence of a weakening of the patriarchal structure, as a result of the disappearance of the economic base that sustains it and because of the rise of new values centered in the recognition of fundamental human rights."...


These are the people President Barack Obama made it a priority to fund with tax dollars. People who consider it a 'victory' for human rights that the family is breaking down, that children don't have parents, that children are subjected to sex indoctrination at earlier and earlier ages, that fewer children exist on this planet. People who believe 'family' is a 'bad word' loved only by conservatives!

Could the hypocrisy be any more obvious? Barack Obama is in no way, shape or form, a supporter of family life as most Americans understand it. He likes HIS family. He wishes there were fewer 'other' families, and he's willing to use your money to see that there are.

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