Will the US take action to protect the victims of Islamic State genocide?

Washington D.C., Apr 19, 2016 / 05:21 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Now that the U.S. has declared that the Islamic State is waging genocide against religious minorities in Iraq and Syria, what will be done to help the victims move forward? That was the questi… Read more

CUA school of business receives millions in donations, gets new name

Washington D.C., Apr 19, 2016 / 04:56 pm (CNA).- The Catholic University of America’s business school has received several major financial gifts, including the largest donation in university history.  The Washington, D.C., university announced a total of six commitments totaling $47 million. The money will go to general university programs as well as operational costs for the business school, which will be renamed the Tim and Steph Busch School of Business and Economics after the lead donor in the project.  Boston Cardinal Seán O’Malley, chairman of the university’s Board of Trustees, praised the development. “Today marks a historic day for Catholic University, in which it is propelled forward in its mission to serve both Church and nation through the incredible generosity of several benefactors,” he said. According to a statement by the university, “The lead gift of $15 million from the Busch Family Foundation is the largest financial commitment the University has received to date.” The Busch Family Foundation is run by Tim Busch and his wife, Steph. Tim Busch is founder and CEO of Pacific Hospitality Group and The Busch Firm, as well as co-founder and chairman of The Napa Institute. He is currently concluding his time on the university’s Board of Trustees.   CUA said that the business and economics school “will be renamed in recognition of their support for the University’s approach to thought-leading business education informed by the principles of Catholic social teaching.” University president John Garvey noted that the Busches are CUA “largest benefactors to date” and expressed thanks for their “unparalleled support for the unique approach of our business school.” Garvey also said that they have “attracted other major supporters whose gifts have nourished the school’s success.” Other donors include the Arthur and Carlyse Ciocca Charitable Foundation, the Charles Koch Foundation, university alumnus Joe Della Ratta, and the Blanford Charitable Gift Fund. Among the projects supported with these donations are the renovation of Maloney Hall, where the business and economics school will be relocated; academic programs in the business school; and a new Institute for Human Ecology, which will respond to Pope Francis’ encouragement in Laudato Si to examine the relationship of man and the created world.  “We are committed to supporting Catholic University’s vision for business education which integrates principled entrepreneurship and Catholic social teaching in a distinctive way,” said Tim Busch of the donation. “Students at the school of business and economics learn how businesses can be highly profitable and innovative, while also meeting the needs of communities and promoting human flourishing,” he said. Read more

Americans agree: Obama administration unfair to Little Sisters of the Poor

Washington D.C., Apr 19, 2016 / 06:35 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A new survey says most Americans think the Obama administration’s federal contraception mandate is unfair to the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious groups defending themselves… Read more

Please forgive our indifference – Pope Francis’ heartfelt plea to refugees

Vatican City, Apr 19, 2016 / 06:09 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis has offered his praise to the Jesuits in Italy for their longstanding work with refugees, but asked the foreigners for their pardon on behalf of all who have been closed-minded and in… Read more

Not your grandpa’s porn – Has the Church caught up to the problem?

Denver, Colo., Sep 20, 2016 / 03:02 am (CNA).- Clay Olsen speaks to thousands of youth about a subject most people would rather not touch: pornography. As the founder and CEO of Fight the New Drug, an organization that educates people about pornography addiction, Olsen travels the country giving presentations to young people about how pornography is affecting their brains, their relationships and ultimately the world. Olsen told CNA that after one particular presentation, a young man asked a question that perfectly illustrates how drastically pornography has changed. “He asked me very sincerely whether Playboy was pornography or not,” Olsen recalled. “His definition of pornography had shifted so dramatically…that Playboy doesn’t even make the cut.” Importantly, this young man is the rule of his generation, not the exception, Olsen said. The effects of constant access to the Internet, made possible by the availability of personal laptops, tablets, and smartphones, has drastically changed how young people consume pornography in a way that many adults dangerously underestimate.An evolving problem In the earlier days of the Internet, before the boom of smartphones, a 2004 study from an internet traffic management company saw porn sites grow by 1,800% between 1998 and 2004. At the time, Nielsen/Net ratings estimated that about 34 million people visited adult websites every month. Today, those numbers seem almost laughable. PornHub, one of the world’s largest adult sites with explicit video streaming, reports that it averages 2.4 million visitors per hour. In 2015 alone, the number of hours streamed from the site was double the amount of time human beings have populated the Earth, according to TIME Magazine. The amount of content is not the only thing that has changed either. Because of the constant availability of pornography, many users find themselves seeking more and more extreme forms of content, and the Internet has kept up with the demand. As reported in the Washington Post, a recent content analysis of some of the most popular porn sites found that 88 percent of analyzed scenes contained physical aggression such as spanking, gagging, choking or slapping, and verbal aggression occurred in 49 percent of the scenes. Men perpetrated 70 percent of the aggressive acts, while women were the targets 94 percent of the time. Several studies have also shown a correlation between the viewing of pornography and the likelihood of committing, or wanting to commit, rape or sexual assault. Other studies show a correlation between men who consume pornography and experience erectile dysfunction, once thought to mostly be a condition of older men. “So you combine those two things – the prevalence and then also the nature – and that cocktail is really what has driven individuals like myself and those that work with me, and millions of others, to rise up and say we can do better, we have to do better,” Olsen said. Fortunately, Olsen added, it seems that society may finally be catching up to the truth about the harmful nature of porn. Last month, Belinda Lascombe for TIME Magazine chronicled the stories of young men who are anti-porn advocates after their experiences of porn addiction and consequential impotence. A follow-up op-ed from the Washington Post declared that regardless of pornography’s morality, it’s a public health issue. Also last month, Utah’s Senate unanimously approved a resolution declaring pornography addiction a public health crisis.Shortcomings in the Church But what about the Catholic Church? Is enough being done to make the faithful aware of the danger of pornography – to provide resources both protecting those who have not fallen victim and reaching out to those who have?   Pope Francis’ most recent papal exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, mentions pornography directly just two times – once to mention that the bishops have expressed concern about it, and once to mention it within the context of age-appropriate sex education. But that the word made it into the document at all is a significant step, said Fr. Sean Kilcawley, a priest with the Diocese of Lincoln who has spent a significant amount of his priesthood in pornography addiction and educational ministry. He currently serves as the program director and theological advisor for Integrity Restored, a Catholic apostolate that addresses pornography issues and addiction in families, individuals and clergy. “Pope Francis has talked about pornography more than any other pope in history, I guarantee it,” Fr. Kilcawley told CNA.   Last June aboard the papal plane, Pope Francis (who does not use the internet or watch TV, and reads just one newspaper) told journalists that parents need to be aware of the “dirty” content, including pornography, that can be found online, and urged them to take preventative steps such as keeping computers in common rooms. He has also mentioned the issue in various homilies and talks, particularly to youth, throughout his pontificate. The problem in the Church, on a practical and local level, is that pornography addiction treatment programs need to part of a parish’s mainstream ministry and not seen as an obscure ministry needed by the few, Fr. Kilcawley said. “Anti-pornography ministry is not a peripheral ministry,” he stressed. “We don’t just need tools to help a few people, we have to take those tools and incorporate them into an evangelization plan that’s trying to evangelize within an entire culture that’s being affected by pornography,” he said. “Pornography is the biggest obstacle to evangelization that we’re facing as a Church,” Fr. Kilcawley added. “Because the core beliefs of an addict are I’m unlovable, if people really knew me they would reject me, no one can meet my needs not even God.” Matt Fradd, director of content at Integrity Restored, said the clergy abuse scandal could be part of the reason that clergy are so reticent about addressing pornography.   The demand is enormous, there are many that are struggling…We get emails from 8-year-olds, 9-year-olds, 10-year-olds. “If sex plus kids equals lawsuits…is it any wonder that nobody wants to talk to kids about pornography?” Fradd told CNA. Fr. Kilcawley also said some priests may also feel shame addressing the issue due to their own sexual stories. “We might be afraid that if we talk about it, people will think that we have a problem with it, and so whether we have a problem or not, we can be afraid of that,” Fr. Kilcawley said. Reluctance to address the issue publicly could also be because of a priest’s own struggle with pornography. In comments to CNA in October 2015, at the time of the Ordinary Synod on the Family in Rome, Archbishop Charles Chaput said that pornography was a major issue among clergy. “The number of our Catholic clergy who struggle with this problem is very unsettling, and it has nothing to do with celibacy,” the archbishop said, noting that Protestant ministers and Jewish rabbis contend with the same issue. A 2000 survey by Christianity Today found that clergy and laity reported visiting sexually explicit websites at nearly the same rates. “Pornography’s always been a problem. Ancient Rome was famous for it. Sex is powerful and fascinating, and people have always abused its appeal. … It’s an epidemic, or more accurately, a pandemic. Anyone with an Internet connection anywhere in the world can find all the (pornography) he or she wants,” Archbishop Chaput noted. But given the prevalence of pornography and its damaging effects, Olsen said, adults can no longer afford to avoid addressing this issue with the children in their lives. “For many adults, the inclination is to not discuss it. In their opinion, it’s hard, it’s gross, it’s I don’t even want to go there, let’s not focus on it. And although I totally and completely respect their intent and their desires, I have to respectfully come back and say we no longer have the luxury as a society, to sit idly by and watch things continue to progress in a very harmful and societally damaging way.” Pornography is also important for priests to address with their parishioners in order for them to feel comfortable enough to seek healing, Fr. Kilcawley said. “It’s just giving people permission to be wounded, which I think is what Pope Francis has been trying to do,” Fr. Kilcawley said. “You have permission to be wounded, and so it’s ok to come and tell your priest that you have this problem in your life. He’s not going to run away from you, he’s not going to scold you, he’s not going to condemn you, he just wants to help you heal.” “The most shameful sins in our life, we need permission to talk about them,” he said.Finding solutions Part of what Fr. Kilcawley does for his anti-pornography ministry is to talk to the parents of his first communicants at a retreat about motherhood and fatherhood within the context of the Church’s teaching on the Theology of the Body. He also spends an hour on internet safety and sex education. “Pastorally speaking, the best approach is to focus on prevention and focus on relationships within the family, evangelization within the family, and protecting kids from pornography, and the more we talk about it in that way, it’s both bold and less threatening, and then it gives people the freedom to come to the Church to look for healing.” Once he started talking about the issue of pornography with families, Fr. Kilcawley had so many adults approach him about pornography addiction that he decided to form support groups as well. He now is in charge of a group for men addicted to pornography, as well as a group for women whose husbands are addicted to pornography. Fr. Kilcawley said he also encourages people who are addicted to abstain from receiving the Eucharist unless they have gone to confession. Even though they may not be in a state of mortal sin due to the compulsive nature of the behavior, not being able to receive the Eucharist unless having gone to confession is an added incentive in the recovery process. Fradd said talking to kids about pornography in an age-appropriate way is one of the best means to prevent future pornography use and addiction. And the younger parents start, the better, since some researchers estimate the average age of pornography exposure today is 8 years-old. “I feel like we’re guinea pigs, because parenting in the 8th century and the 13th and the 19th – it was relatively similar compared to parenting in the 21st century,” Fradd said. “The internet really has changed everything.”   Integrity Restored provides parents with free resources about the best ways to talk to their children about pornography. There’s also a children’s book called “Good Pictures Bad Pictures” by Kristen Jenson (available on Amazon), for broaching the subject with the youngest of audiences in an age appropriate way. Integrity Restored also provides free resources to priests looking for the best ways to broach the subject with their congregations, and hosts symposiums in dioceses in order to educate priests, catechists and the general public on the issue. Fradd also founded The Porn Effect, which is the youth outreach branch of Integrity Restored that educates youth and provides resources for them about pornography use and addiction. Another important aspect of prevention is internet filters and accountability systems, for which Fradd said he recommends Covenant Eyes. Olsen said he thinks the best approach to combat a culture of pornography is three-tiered: prevention in children, research on the subject, and recovery therapy programs. Fight the New Drug has spent several years working with neuroscientists and psychologists to develop the Fortified Program, a free and anonymous online recovery program for youth. It currently has over 35,000 users in over 155 countries, and Olsen said he didn’t even put “a penny into marketing or advertising.” “So the demand is enormous, there are many that are struggling,” he said. “We get emails from 8-year-olds, 9-year-olds, 10-year-olds.” That the program is free and anonymous is key, Olsen said, because many of these children seeking help will stop once they see either a credit card or parental consent is required, “both of which are a Mount Everest that they are unwilling or unable to climb,” he said. “We have created a solution that they can jump into that will help them overcome that, so recovery is a big part of how we will heal society.” Fradd said that in many ways, the resources that the Church needs in order to better address this issue already exist – they just need to be utilized. “We’re all kind of playing catch up to honest,” he said. “There are beautiful things happening, we just need to know about them.”This article originally ran on April 19, 2016. Read more

Poland’s Christian heritage a ‘strong foundation for the future’

Poznan, Poland, Apr 19, 2016 / 12:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The power of Poland’s “invincible national spirit” and resilience to countless foreign invaders lies not with her government or military, but rather in the nation’s Christian identity, its president said on Friday. “The Baptism of Duke Mieszko I is the most important event in the entire history of the Polish state and nation. I do not say it was, I say it is, for the decision taken by our first historical ruler had predetermined the whole future to come for our country,” Andrzej Duda, president of Poland, said April 15. This was the core of his message to the National Assembly’s session commemorating the 1050th anniversary of “Poland’s conversion”: the baptism of Mieszko I on Holy Saturday in 966. Mieszko is regarded as the de facto founder of the nation. Duda noted that “Our Christian legacy continues to shape the destinies of Poland and of each and every one of us, Polish people, until this very day.” The Secretary of State of the Holy See, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, celebrated the anniversary of Poland’s conversion by saying Mass in Gniezno, the nation’s ancient Christian capital, on April 14. He met with the Polish bishops April 15, telling them that the Poles’ “faithfulness to God, to the Gospel and to the Holy See has garnered the respect and esteem of other nations, and made the Church in Poland a bulwark of Christian faith and charity and a light in the darkness that has enshrouded Europe so many times.” Even after countless invasions, most recently by Nazi Germany and by the Soviet Union, Poland’s national identity has not only survived, but grown even stronger. Duda explained that “Equally the former and the latter worked to weaken and break the bond between our nation and the Church. They realized that this way they would shake the very foundations of our community, that a nation deprived of its spiritual anchorage would be easily remodelled into enslaved masses.” He lauded the nation’s Christian heritage “as the principal and final shield of freedom and solidarity.” The Nazis, he said, imposed their regime through the works of “bloody terror,” while the communists “promoted an atheistic ideology” in the hopes of making the Polish give up their Christian faith. It was Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski of Warsaw who protected “the Polish and Christian identity of the nation against indoctrination and repression” with a “National Retreat” and nine year novena to prepare the Polish people to celebrate the 1000th anniversary of their baptism in 1966, Duda recalled. The celebrations lasted an entire year and were observed not only by those in Poland, but expatriate Poles around the world in spite of the communists’ efforts to block access to the celebrations, even going so far as “arresting” a copy of the icon of The Black Madonna, Our Lady of Czestochowa. “The 1966 millennial celebrations … revealed the timeless significance of the Baptism of Mieszko I and the uniting power of Christianity for our community.” “A tree may be felled,” Duda said. “One may poison its roots and watch it wither. This does not take a lot of effort or too much time. However, to plant a new tree and wait for it to grow and bring fruit is a long process.” It is for this reason that “the price for destroying the foundations of our civilization and attempts to replace them with other concepts, incoherent and loosely sketched, has always been and will always be enormous suffering and devastation,” he said. “We have always taken and we will always take pride in this invincible national spirit,” he stated. “We can and are willing to draw on this great treasure of ours. It is also a lesson for the future for us: that we, the Polish people, can accomplish great, momentous things, if only we work together in accordance with the values that unite us. The values that have their source in the unbreakable bond between the Polish spirit and its Christian roots. Today, Poland faces new challenges as “natural rivalry between different civilization models” have reached “an unprecedented intensity.” To be sure, debates are going on throughout all of Europe about how to best address these “new challenges.” For their part, Duda said, Poland should “trust the strength of our identity” and draw on the “rich treasury of ideas, experiences and solutions” developed by both the Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian traditions. Concern and care for the “dignity, rights and aspirations of all citizens” should take precedence “over rivalry and a play of interests,” he said. Equally important is that Poland draws upon her “heritage of tolerance and openness” to ensure that “our freedom and our material as well as spiritual strength are preserved and allowed to grow further.” Drawing on the words of St. John Paul II, who said on the eve of the nation’s admittance into the European Union that Poland had an opportunity to “enrich the West spiritually, the same West that brought the Christian faith to us,” Duda said that Poland “will stay true to her Christian heritage.” “For it is in this heritage that we have a well-tested, strong foundation for the future.” Read more

Poland’s Christian heritage a ‘strong foundation for the future’

Poznan, Poland, Apr 19, 2016 / 12:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The power of Poland’s “invincible national spirit” and resilience to countless foreign invaders lies not with her government or military, but rather in the nation’s Christian identity, its president said on Friday. “The Baptism of Duke Mieszko I is the most important event in the entire history of the Polish state and nation. I do not say it was, I say it is, for the decision taken by our first historical ruler had predetermined the whole future to come for our country,” Andrzej Duda, president of Poland, said April 15. This was the core of his message to the National Assembly’s session commemorating the 1050th anniversary of “Poland’s conversion”: the baptism of Mieszko I on Holy Saturday in 966. Mieszko is regarded as the de facto founder of the nation. Duda noted that “Our Christian legacy continues to shape the destinies of Poland and of each and every one of us, Polish people, until this very day.” The Secretary of State of the Holy See, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, celebrated the anniversary of Poland’s conversion by saying Mass in Gniezno, the nation’s ancient Christian capital, on April 14. He met with the Polish bishops April 15, telling them that the Poles’ “faithfulness to God, to the Gospel and to the Holy See has garnered the respect and esteem of other nations, and made the Church in Poland a bulwark of Christian faith and charity and a light in the darkness that has enshrouded Europe so many times.” Even after countless invasions, most recently by Nazi Germany and by the Soviet Union, Poland’s national identity has not only survived, but grown even stronger. Duda explained that “Equally the former and the latter worked to weaken and break the bond between our nation and the Church. They realized that this way they would shake the very foundations of our community, that a nation deprived of its spiritual anchorage would be easily remodelled into enslaved masses.” He lauded the nation’s Christian heritage “as the principal and final shield of freedom and solidarity.” The Nazis, he said, imposed their regime through the works of “bloody terror,” while the communists “promoted an atheistic ideology” in the hopes of making the Polish give up their Christian faith. It was Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski of Warsaw who protected “the Polish and Christian identity of the nation against indoctrination and repression” with a “National Retreat” and nine year novena to prepare the Polish people to celebrate the 1000th anniversary of their baptism in 1966, Duda recalled. The celebrations lasted an entire year and were observed not only by those in Poland, but expatriate Poles around the world in spite of the communists’ efforts to block access to the celebrations, even going so far as “arresting” a copy of the icon of The Black Madonna, Our Lady of Czestochowa. “The 1966 millennial celebrations … revealed the timeless significance of the Baptism of Mieszko I and the uniting power of Christianity for our community.” “A tree may be felled,” Duda said. “One may poison its roots and watch it wither. This does not take a lot of effort or too much time. However, to plant a new tree and wait for it to grow and bring fruit is a long process.” It is for this reason that “the price for destroying the foundations of our civilization and attempts to replace them with other concepts, incoherent and loosely sketched, has always been and will always be enormous suffering and devastation,” he said. “We have always taken and we will always take pride in this invincible national spirit,” he stated. “We can and are willing to draw on this great treasure of ours. It is also a lesson for the future for us: that we, the Polish people, can accomplish great, momentous things, if only we work together in accordance with the values that unite us. The values that have their source in the unbreakable bond between the Polish spirit and its Christian roots. Today, Poland faces new challenges as “natural rivalry between different civilization models” have reached “an unprecedented intensity.” To be sure, debates are going on throughout all of Europe about how to best address these “new challenges.” For their part, Duda said, Poland should “trust the strength of our identity” and draw on the “rich treasury of ideas, experiences and solutions” developed by both the Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian traditions. Concern and care for the “dignity, rights and aspirations of all citizens” should take precedence “over rivalry and a play of interests,” he said. Equally important is that Poland draws upon her “heritage of tolerance and openness” to ensure that “our freedom and our material as well as spiritual strength are preserved and allowed to grow further.” Drawing on the words of St. John Paul II, who said on the eve of the nation’s admittance into the European Union that Poland had an opportunity to “enrich the West spiritually, the same West that brought the Christian faith to us,” Duda said that Poland “will stay true to her Christian heritage.” “For it is in this heritage that we have a well-tested, strong foundation for the future.” Read more

How to fight extremism? Unite for religious liberty, rabbi says

Washington D.C., Apr 18, 2016 / 07:14 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Facing a rising tide of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and government crackdowns on religious practice, European religious communities must stand together, insisted one religious leader this week… Read more

Check out this Eucharistic miracle in Poland

Legnica, Poland, Apr 18, 2016 / 02:59 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A bleeding Host that “has the hallmarks of the Eucharistic miracle” was approved for veneration in Poland over the weekend. The announcement was made by Bishop Zbigniew Kiernikowsk… Read more

Japanese bishops mobilize relief efforts to help earthquake victims

Fukuoka, Japan, Apr 18, 2016 / 02:52 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Japan’s Catholic bishops are coordinating efforts to help the thousands of people affected by the two earthquakes which struck the city of Kumamoto on the southwestern island of Kyushu last week. A 7.3 magnitude quake hit Kumamoto, nearly 70 miles south of Fukuoka, on April 16, following a 6.4 magnitude earthquake on April 14. At leat 41 persons were killed, and thousands wounded. Some 180,000 have been rendered homeless, according to the BBC. “We thought the damage was contained in the small area of Mashiki town,” Bishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi of Niigata told CNA April 16, “but this morning’s quake caused damage in a much wider area, including the neighboring Ohita prefecture.” Bishop Kikuchi is head of Caritas Japan, the national bishops’ social action arm, which is assisting in rescue and relief efforts on Kyushu. He conveyed the prayers and solidarity of all the Japanese bishops and stated their appreciation for the prayers and aid sent from around the world. Bishop Dominic Ry?ji Miyahara of Fukuoka on Saturday called an emergency meeting of diocesan officials to discuss how to mobilize relief efforts for the earthquake’s victims. He has appealed for donations ot the diocese for relief and rehabilitation needs, and has sent the director of the diocesan branch of Caritas to assess the situation. One Catholic school was damaged in the quake, but no other serious damage has been reported at other Catholic institutions. It is “very hard for the victim[s] to lose their homes where mornings and nights are still chilly,” Bishop Miyahara said in an appeal for support. “I’m praying for those who suffer great damage from this earthquake and we, [the] Diocese of Fukuoka are with you in your pains and sorrows. We ask your prayers for the victim[s] and people in these areas for them to have comfort and enough strength to go through this situation and for them to have quick recovery from this damage.” Bishop Kikuchi explained to CNA that the affected area is “largely mountainous, and thus difficult for volunteers to access.” Landslides have cut off some remote villages, and roads, bridges, and tunnels have all been damaged. Some communications are cut off, and electricity and water supplies have been affected. Aftershocks were continuing through at least Sunday. Bishop Kikuchi said that it is rare for such a powerful earthquake to hit Japan, particularly Kyushu. Quakes of a similar magnitude were recorded in 1995 in Kobe, in 2004 in Niigata, and in 2011 in Tohoku. As messages and prayers flooded social media for the earthquake victims, Catholics in Thailand also expressed their prayers.   Fr. Joseph Thammarat Ruanngam, chancellor of the Diocese of Chanthaburi, told CNA that his community “expresses its heartfelt condolences following the devastating earthquake and stands united in prayer with the affected people of Japan.” Read more




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