Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, warned of an “alarming trend nationwide” after Vermont legalized physician-assisted suicide, May 20. He called for “all people of good will to fight the future passage of such laws.”
“I echo Bishop Matano of Burlington in calling this a tragic moment for Vermont. It is also a sign of an alarming trend nationwide. In the three states where physician-assisted suicide is now legal, doctors are called upon to destroy life, rather than to save life and provide much-needed comfort in times of pain and distress,” Cardinal O’Malley said.
“The new Vermont law omits some of the alleged minimal ‘safeguards’ against abuse found in the Oregon law, and in three years drops those which remain,” Cardinal O’Malley said. “Oregon’s law was already more designed to cover up abuses than prevent them. Now, in the name of autonomy and empowerment, patients in Vermont who cannot speak for themselves may become the victims of this deadly law.”
“The ‘slippery slope’ that critics of the euthanasia agenda have long warned against is in full view here,” Cardinal O’Malley said. “I invite Catholics and all people of good will to fight the future passage of such laws, which offend human dignity and undermine true respect and care for people with serious illness.”
In 2011, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement on assisted suicide, “To Live Each Day with Dignity.” The full text, as well as information on the Catholic Church’s advocacy on end-of life issues, is available online: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/assisted-suicide/to-live-each-day
Only Brazil, Argentina have larger registration numbers
Trip marks Pope Francis’ first international apostolic visit
Several U.S. bishops to participate in youth event
Groups from the United States comprise the third largest national delegation of pilgrims going to the 28th World Youth Day, this year slated for July 23-28 in Rio de Janeiro.
The current number of U.S. registrants is currently over 7,000, said Paul Jarzembowski, program coordinator for youth and youth ministry of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. About 40 U.S. bishops also are expected to participate in the event.
The list of bishops who plan to attend includes Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York; Cardinal Seán O’Malley, OFM Cap. of Boston; Cardinal Theodore McCarrick , archbishop emeritus of Washington; Cardinal William Levada, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver; Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap. of Philadelphia; Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, of San Antonio; and Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee.
Among groups who plan to attend are those from the Salesians of Don Bosco USA, Jesuit High School in Tampa, Fla., the Vietnamese Lasallian Youth, the Neocatecumenal Way, the Institute of the Incarnate Word, and the (arch) dioceses of New York; Newark; Boston; Portland in Oregon: Rockville Center, N.Y.; Honolulu, Harrisburg, Penn.; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Fresno, Calif.; San Bernardino, Calif.; Lincoln, Neb.; Venice, Fla.; San Antonio; and Washington. Other parish and youth and young adult groups from across the United States also are slated to attend.
Pope John Paul II initiated World Youth Day in 1986 as a way to reach out to young Catholics. It is celebrated in the Diocese of Rome every Palm Sunday. Internationally it is celebrated in different cities around the world every two or three years. The last international World Youth Day was celebrated in Madrid in August 2011. In 1993, it was celebrated in Denver. Other international World Youth Days have been held in Buenos Aires (1987); Santiago de Compostela, Spain (1989); Czestochowa, Poland (1991); Manila, Philippines (1995); Paris (1997); Rome (2000); Toronto (2002); Cologne (2005); and Sydney (2008).
Catholics will be called to reflect on how they can spread the Gospel as they honor those who teach the Catholic faith in parishes, schools and homes. Catechetical Sunday 2013 is the weekend of Sunday, Sept. 15, and will focus on the theme, “Open the Door of Faith.”
“The Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis has prepared a variety of materials to assist catechists and Catholic school teachers to better understand and enter into the Year of Faith, including a revisit of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council,” said Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay, Wisc., chairman of the committee. “The resources will assist parishes in celebrating Catechetical Sunday not only in September, but also throughout the 2013-2014 year.”
The theme “Open the Door of Faith” is taken from the Vatican’s guiding document on the Year of Faith, “Porta Fidei.” This year’s materials, available in English and Spanish, are directed to all Catholics to help them reach out and evangelize others. They include resources for clergy, family resources, prayer cards, posters and teaching aids. Teaching aids include “The Catechism: A Symphony of Faith” by Petroc Willey and “Reexamining the Word of the Second Vatican Council (Hermeneutics of Reform)” by Alan Schreck. Resources available for free download are available at: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/catechesis/catechetical-sunday/year-of-faith/index.cfm
Catechetical Sunday, which is observed on the third Sunday in September, is a celebration of catechists and all teachers of the Catholic faith. Many parishes commission those who serve in catechetical ministry on Catechetical Sunday. The U.S. bishops have provided resources for Catechetical Sunday since 1971. More information is available at: http://www.usccb.org/catecheticalsunday.
The Year of Faith runs from Oct. 11, 2012, to Nov. 24. More information is available online: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/new-evangelization/year-of-faith/
Around 200,000 pilgrims packed St. Peter’s Square to celebrate Pentecost with Pope Francis, who called on them to be open to “God’s surprises” because they bring true happiness.
“This is not a question of novelty for novelty’s sake, the search for something new to relieve our boredom, as is so often the case in our own day,” the pope said May 19.
“The newness which God brings into our life is something that actually brings fulfillment, that gives true joy, true serenity, because God loves us and desires only our good,” he stated, according to a Catholic News Agency report.
Pope Francis gave his homily during a 10:30 a.m. Mass with Church movements and associations from Europe, Asia and Africa in St. Peter’s Square.
They arrived in Rome for a series of weekend events centered on the Year of Faith, which included a pilgrimage to St. Peter’s tomb, music and testimonies. Their encounter with the Pope began on Saturday afternoon when he held a prayer vigil with them, and it finished with today’s Mass.
The Holy Father dedicated his homily to three ways that the Holy Spirit works in the lives of Christians: “newness, harmony and mission.”
Speaking about the “newness” the Holy Spirit brings, he explained that it requires letting him be the soul and guide of our lives in our every decision.
But the newness and change he brings lasts because it is truly fulfilling and creates joy, the pope said.
He then posed a series of questions to the crowd:
“Are we open to ‘God’s surprises?’ Or are we closed and fearful before the newness of the Holy Spirit? Do we have the courage to strike out along the new paths which God’s newness sets before us, or do we resist, barricaded in transient structures which have lost their capacity for openness to what is new?”
The second aspect of the Spirit’s work is that he gives different gifts to people, creating diversity in the church that ends up all being united in harmony by him.
“One of Fathers of the church has an expression which I love: the Holy Spirit himself is harmony — ‘Ipse harmonia est,’” the pope said.
He warned that when “we are the ones who try to create diversity and close ourselves up in what makes us different and other, we bring division.”
The key, Pope Francis taught, is to “let ourselves be guided by the Spirit” and live in and with the church.
“It is the church which brings Christ to me, and me to Christ; parallel journeys are dangerous!” he cautioned.
“When we venture beyond (proagon) the church’s teaching and community, and do not remain in them, we are not one with the God of Jesus Christ,” the pope told the communities.
“So let us ask ourselves: Am I open to the harmony of the Holy Spirit, overcoming every form of exclusivity? Do I let myself be guided by him, living in the church and with the church?”
Pope Francis’ final point centered on how the “Holy Spirit is the soul of mission.”
“The older theologians,” he recalled, “used to say that the soul is a kind of sailboat, the Holy Spirit is the wind which fills its sails and drives it forward, and the gusts of wind are the gifts of the Spirit. Lacking his impulse and his grace, we do not go forward.”
He explained that the Holy Spirit “draws us into the mystery of the living God and saves us from the threat of a church which is gnostic and self-referential, closed in on herself.”
Instead, the Spirit “impels us to open the doors and go forth to proclaim and bear witness to the good news of the Gospel, to communicate the joy of faith, the encounter with Christ,” the pope preached.
Although the events of Pentecost took place “almost 2,000 years ago,” they are not “something far removed from us; they are events which affect us and become a lived experience in each of us.”
“The Holy Spirit,” Pope Francis noted, “makes us look to the horizon and drive us to the very outskirts of existence in order to proclaim life in Jesus Christ.
“Let us ask ourselves: do we tend to stay closed in on ourselves, on our group, or do we let the Holy Spirit open us to mission?”
He closed his homily by asking God the Father to pour out the Holy Spirit again, using the Latin invocation, “Veni, Sancte Spiritus!” (Come Holy Spirit!).
After Mass Pope Francis recited the Regina Caeli prayer with the assembly, thanking them for their presence and saying that the Holy Spirit renewed Pentecost and changed St. Peter’s Square into an open-air Upper Room.
The chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called for reflection, greater respect for human life and healing in the wake of the May 13 convictions of Dr. Kermit Gosnell of Philadelphia.
“Dr. Gosnell’s trial brought much-needed attention to the tragedy of abortion,” said Cardinal Seán O’Malley, OFM Cap., of Boston. “His murder convictions of newly delivered infants have caused many people to reexamine their positions on abortion.”
Among Gosnell’s 237 convictions were three counts of first-degree murder of infants born alive during attempted late-term abortions, one count of infanticide, and the involuntary manslaughter of a patient who died from complications of anesthesia administered by an unlicensed nurse at his abortion clinic. He was also found guilty of conspiracy, performing abortions beyond the legal limit in Pennsylvania, and 208 violations of the state’s informed consent law. On May 14, Gosnell was sentenced to life in prison.
“In addition to the violence against defenseless unborn and newborn children, women’s lives were endangered by his unethical practices. I hope and pray that Dr. Gosnell will come to regret and repent for his many crimes,” Cardinal O’Malley said. “Our nation needs great healing from the culture of death, of which this sad story is only one example. Let us pray for the children who have been lost and the many mothers and families who silently grieve their loss. Our Lord longs to heal every person affected by the tragedy of abortion and other violence.”
More information on the Catholic Church’s pastoral response to those who have been involved in abortion is available at HopeAfterAbortion.com. More information on nationwide efforts of prayer and fasting are available at http://www.usccb.org/fast.
USCCB Pro-Life chair responds to cloning breakthrough in Oregon
Says creating embryos to destroy them objectionable to non-Catholics too
Notes that morally acceptable scientific advances already addressing same goals
Human cloning for any purpose is inconsistent with the moral responsibility to “treat each member of the human family as a unique gift of God, as a person with his or her own inherent dignity,” said the chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
“Creating new human lives in the laboratory solely to destroy them is an abuse denounced even by many who do not share the Catholic Church’s convictions on human life,” said Cardinal Seán O’Malley, OFM Cap., of Boston. He said this way of making embryos will also be taken up by people who want to produce cloned children as “copies” of other people. “Whether used for one purpose or the other, human cloning treats human beings as products, manufactured to order to suit other people’s wishes.” He added, “A technical advance in human cloning is not progress for humanity but its opposite.”
Cardinal O’Malley’s statement responded to the news May 15 that researchers in Oregon have succeeded in producing cloned human embryos and obtained their embryonic stem cells. He added that the researcher’s goal of producing genetically matched stem cells for research and possible therapies is already being addressed by scientific advances that do not pose the same more problems.
More information on USCCB’s position on human cloning is available online: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/cloning/
The full text of Cardinal O’Malley’s statement follows:
The news that researchers have developed a technique for human cloning is deeply troubling on many levels. Over 120 human embryos were created and destroyed, to produce six embryonic stem cell lines. Creating the embryos involved subjecting healthy women to procedures that put their health and fertility at risk. And the researchers’ alleged goal, producing genetically matched stem cells for research and possible therapies, is already being addressed by scientific advances that do not pose these grave moral wrongs.
Creating new human lives in the laboratory solely to destroy them is an abuse denounced even by many who do not share the Catholic Church’s convictions on human life. Also, this means of making embryos for research will be taken up by those who want to produce cloned children as “copies” of other people. Whether used for one purpose or the other, human cloning treats human beings as products, manufactured to order to suit other people’s wishes. It is inconsistent with our moral responsibility to treat each member of the human family as a unique gift of God, as a person with his or her own inherent dignity. A technical advance in human cloning is not progress for humanity but its opposite.
USCCB subcommittee chair calls Minnesota lawmakers post-Mother’s Day marriage redefinition ‘height of irony’
Men and women bring different gifts to parenting
Redefining marriage in law serves no one’s good
Truth of marriage not going away
“It is the height of irony that the Minnesota legislature decided, and the governor signed into law, the redefinition of marriage just after we celebrated the unique gifts of mothers and women on Mother’s Day,” said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco. Archbishop Cordileone chairs the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage. He said further, “It is all the more so given the fact that in the last election Minnesotans were led to believe that there was no need to define marriage in the constitution, that nothing would change if the marriage amendment didn’t pass.”
“It also renders senseless the very idea of President Obama’s National Fatherhood Initiative, in that a bill now becomes law in Minnesota that effectively claims that a mother and a father together are superfluous and can be replaced by two men or two women,” he added.
Archbishop Cordileone noted that Minnesota is the third state in just over a week to redefine marriage in the law.
“There are many of us Americans, including many Minnesotans, who stand for the natural and true meaning of marriage. They know that men and women are important; their complementary difference matters, their union matters, and it matters to kids. Mothers and fathers are simply irreplaceable,” he said. “Instead of strengthening, the Minnesota legislature’s decision to redefine marriage weakens motherhood and fatherhood, and so strikes a blow to all children who deserve both a mother and father.”
“Some wish to believe that sexual relationships outside of the marital context of husband and wife are innocuous, choosing to ignore the fact that they are actually harmful to individuals and to society as a whole,” he added.
“We know that now is the time to redouble our prayers, efforts and witness. The truth of marriage is not going away,” Archbishop Cordileone said. “We know what it takes to work toward a culture of life even in the midst of laws that work against us. The same is true for rebuilding a culture of marriage. No matter what the horizon may bring, we will continue in charity and truth to stand for justice and for the most vulnerable among us.”
The Minnesota law highlights further implications of marriage redefinition in the law. For example, the law states that terms such as “husband,” “wife,” “mother,” and “father” that denote spousal and familial relationships in Minnesota law are to apply equally to persons in an opposite-sex or same-sex relationship. The law also states that “parentage presumptions based on civil marriage” will also apply, thus allowing for children to have two mothers or two fathers.
Farm Bill should assist hungry at home adn abroad, help struggling farmers, promote stewardship, say Catholic leaders in letter
The 2013 Farm Bill is an opportunity to address outdated agriculture policies and help hungry people at home and abroad, said leaders of four Catholic organizations in May 9 letters. The letters went to leadership of the Agriculture committees of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
“This is a crucial time to build a more just framework that puts poor and hungry people first, serves small and moderate-sized family farms, promotes sustainable stewardship of the land and helps vulnerable farmers and rural communities both at home and in developing countries,” wrote Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California, Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, Father Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, Carolyn Woo, Ph.D., president of Catholic Relief Services, and James Ennis, executive director of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference.
Bishop Blaire and Bishop Pates chair the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development and International Justice and Peace, respectively.
The letters outlined five priorities for the Farm Bill:
• Support for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, and other programs that help hungry people.
• Protection of funding for international emergency assistance and food security development projects.
• Subsidies for farmers who truly need assistance and who comply with environmentally sound and sustainable farming practices.
• Promotion of programs for farmers to help conserve water, energy, soil and wildlife habitats.
• Support for programs that help the development of urban communities.
The full text of the Senate letter is available online: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/agriculture-nutrition-rural-issues/upload/Joint-Senate-Farm-Bill-Principles-and-Priorties-Ltr-2013-05-09.pdf
USCCB and the National Catholic Rural Life Conference also signed onto a May 6 letter, urging Congress to resist proposals that would weaken the SNAP program: http://frac.org/pdf/national_org_snap_support_letter.pdf
Safe environment programs reach 99 percent of targeted audience
Diocese of Lincoln, five Eastern Rite eparchies still non-compliant
Auditors recommend expansion of audits into parishes
The annual audit of diocesan compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People found a drop in the number of allegations, number of victims and number of offenders reported in 2012.
The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), which gathered data for the report, found “the fewest allegations and victims reported since the data collection for the annual reports began in 2004.”
Most allegations reported last year were from the seventies and eighties with many of the alleged offenders already deceased or removed from ministry in the priesthood.
StoneBridge Business Partners, which conducts the audits, said law enforcement found six credible cases among 34 allegations of abuse of minors in 2012 itself. Credibility of 15 of the allegations was still under investigation. Law enforcement found 12 allegations to be unfounded or unable to be proven, and one a boundary violation.
Almost all dioceses were found compliant with the audit. Three were found non-compliant with one article of the Charter. The Diocese of Lake Charles, Louisiana, was faulted because its review board had not met in several years. (The diocese had no allegations during that time). The Diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was faulted because auditors could not determine if parishes provided safe environment training to religious education students and volunteer teachers. The Diocese of Baker, Oregon, was faulted because students did not receive safe environment training while a new program was being developed. The diocese has since begun training.
The report can be found at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/upload/annual-report-on-the-implementation-of-the-charter-for-the-protection-of-children-and-young-people-2012.pdf
The annual report has two parts. The first is the compliance report of StoneBridge, which conducted on-site audits of 71 dioceses and eparchies and reviewed documentation submitted by 118 others. The Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, and five Eastern rite dioceses, known as eparchies, refused to be audited.
The second part is the “2012 Survey of Allegations and Costs,” conducted by CARA. The Lincoln Diocese refused to cooperate with the survey, and the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles did not respond by the cut-off date.
The StoneBridge audit, in addition to finding most dioceses Charter compliant, reported that “over 99 percent of clerics and over 96 percent of employees and volunteers were trained” in safe environment programs. “In addition, over 4.6 million children received safe environment training. Background evaluations were conducted on over 99 percent of clerics; 98 percent of educators; 96 percent of employees; and 96 percent of volunteers.”
StoneBridge cited limitations, including “the unwillingness of most dioceses and eparchies to allow us to conduct parish audits during their on-site audits.” It said that “the auditors must rely solely on the information provided by the diocese or eparchy, instead of observing the program firsthand.”
Another limitation is staff turnover in diocesan child abuse prevention programs. As a result, “records are often lost, and successors to the position are often placed in key roles without formal orientation,” StoneBridge reported.
Al J. Notzon, III, chairman of the National Review Board (NRB), which oversees the audits, echoed StoneBridge concerns in a letter to Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Notzon highlighted the importance of good record-keeping “and the great significance of involving parishes in the audit process.”
“Abuse happened in the parishes where our children learn and live their young, growing faith,” Notzon said. “From the NRB’s perspective, parish participation in the audit process is an essential next step in what ‘makes the Charter real’ for laity in those parishes. What we have come to see is that protecting children from sexual abuse is a race without a finish and more rather than less effort is necessary to keep this sacred responsibility front and center.”
Cardinal Dolan in a preface to the report commended clergy, employees and volunteers trained in safe environment.
“At the same time we also renew our steadfast resolution never to lessen our common commitment to protect children and young people entrusted to our pastoral care,” he said. “We seek with equal determination to promote healing and reconciliation for those harmed in the past, and to assure that our audits continue to be credible and maintain accountability in our shared promise to protect and our pledge to heal.”
In data gathering from dioceses, CARA noted there were 397 allegations, most of them from decades past, against 313 priests or deacons, by 390 individuals. About 84 percent of the victims were male. Half were between 10 and 14 when the abuse began. An estimated 17 percent were between 15 and17, and 19 percent were under age 10.
Dioceses and eparchies that responded to the survey reported costs related to allegations at $112,966,427 in 2012. Expenses covered settlements, attorney fees, therapy for victims and support for offenders. The total amount expended for dioceses, eparchies and religious orders was $148,338,437. Dioceses and religious orders also spent $26,583,087 for child protection programs.
Pope Francis has appointed Spanish-speaking Bishop Mark J. Seitz to lead the El Paso Diocese, placing him just across the border from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
The appointment was publicized in Washington, May 6, by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
He succeeds Bishop Armando Ochoa, who was named bishop of Fresno, Calif., December 1, 2011.
Bishop Seitz was born in Milwaukee, January 10, 1954, and earned a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy, master of divinity and master of arts in theology degrees from the University of Dallas. He was ordained a priest for the Dallas Diocese in 1980.
He earned a master in liturgical studies degree from St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., in 1985. In 2004, Pope John Paul II named him a prelate of honor, carrying the title “monsignor.”
Assignments after ordination included parochial vicar, Good Shepherd Parish, 1980-1985; adjunct professor, University of Dallas, 1985-1994; spiritual director, Hoy Trinity Seminary, 1986-1987; vice-rector, Holy Trinity Seminary, 1987-1993; pastor, St. Joseph Parish, Waxahachie, Texas, 1993-2003; and pastor, St. Rita Parish, since 2003.
Bishop Seitz was named auxiliary bishop of Dallas, March 11, 2010.
“Since I entered the seminary here in Dallas as a young 18-year-old boy, I have loved Dallas and the church of Dallas,” Bishop Seitz said in a May 6 statement.
“But when I presented myself for ordination as a deacon, I gave my life to God’s service and I promised to be at the disposal of the Church. I accept this call as a new opportunity to follow the Good Shepherd and, with His help, to be one,” he added.
Since his ordination as an auxiliary bishop for Dallas he has been assisting Bishop Kevin J. Farrell for the past three years.
“I happily congratulate Bishop Mark Seitz and applaud the decision of our Holy Father to appoint him to lead the Catholic faithful in this important border diocese,” Bishop Farrell said.
His ability to speak Spanish “will be a tremendous asset but he also possesses a prayerful, pastoral manner, keen theological insight and deep devotion to our church,” the Dallas bishop remarked.
The move from Dallas to El Paso will bring Bishop Seitz across almost the entire state and place him on the border with Mexico.
The diocese was established in 1914 and consists of 10 counties spread over 26,686 square miles. The diocese serves 656,035 Catholics out of a population of 811,739 (80 percent of population), and is made up of 55 parishes, 20 missions, and has 17 ministries that serve the multicultural, multilingual community.