What’s destroying some Catholic marriages? The answer may surprise you

Washington D.C., Aug 14, 2015 / 04:02 am (CNA).- Of the countless Catholic couples who have come through Father T.G. Morrow’s office in Washington D.C. for marriage counseling, two remain imprinted in the priest’s mind even today. In many ways, these two Catholic couples were the ideal; they were open to life, they formed their children in the faith and they frequented the sacraments. But both of these marriages fell apart. The culprit? Anger. “Anger is a poison,” Fr. Morrow, a moral theologian and author of “Overcoming Sinful Anger” (Sophia Press, 2014) told CNA. “If a husband and a wife are angry with each other a lot, it destroys the relationship. It makes it so painful that people want to get out of that relationship.” Everyone experiences the feeling of anger. It’s a natural, uncontrollable response to the behavior of others, he said. And anger can sometimes be righteous – St. Thomas Aquinas once said anger that’s aligned with reason is praiseworthy. But most often that natural response of anger morphs into sinful anger, which is motivated by a desire for revenge, the priest noted. And this sinful anger has a devastating effect on relationships. “It’s extremely important that people realize that (anger) can be a very serious thing, especially if they have major outbursts that really hurt other people,” Fr. Morrow said. Anger is so destructive that many marriage experts recommend couples have five positive interactions for every negative interaction.   “This anger, when it’s expressed badly, is a poison to every relationship,” he said. “Married people need especially to be careful about this…to work on this and to overcome this.” Since the feeling of anger is natural and unavoidable, Fr. Morrow said it is important to know how to express anger or displeasure in an effective and positive way. The first step: decide if it is worth getting angry. “People get angry about little, trifling things,” he said. “You have to say “Is this worth getting angry about?” If not, then you have to let it go. Just forget it.” If your anger is justified and a confrontation would promote the good of the other, use humor or diplomacy to express your anger. If a confrontation would not promote the good of the other, then Fr. Morrow suggested offering that anger to God as a sacrifice for your sins and the sins of the world. “(Anger) won’t go away automatically in one try,” he explained. “We have to keep giving it to God as a sacrifice.” Fr. Morrow said this approach to anger does not mean every person should suddenly become a doormat who is too cowardly to express dissatisfaction with the actions of another.   He used the example of St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine of Hippo. Many of the men in Tagaste at the time had violent tempers, and St. Monica’s husband was no exception. When he would come home and yell at St. Monica, she would stay quiet. Some time after her husband’s explosion of anger, St. Monica would approach her husband and calmly address his treatment of her and his complaints. “She was the furthest thing from a doormat,” Fr. Morrow explained. “She had a specific goal that she wanted to become holy and she wanted to covert her son. She pursued her goals ardently and as a result she converted her violent husband and eventually converted Augustine.” For more information, check out Fr. Morrow’s book “Overcoming Sinful Anger” (Sophia Press, 2014). The 102-page book reads like a manual and draws from Fr. Morrow’s experience as a marriage counselor and spiritual director and his doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Pope John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. Photo credit: www.shutterstock.com Read more

Could the release of 22 Christians signal another Islamic State attack?

Al-Hasakah, Syria, Aug 14, 2015 / 12:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- After Islamic State militants on Tuesday freed 22 Christians they have held captive since February, a Syrian archbishop cautioned that while the news is good, it could be a distraction ahead of another major assault. “Perhaps we can do an analysis on why (the Islamic State) returned them, because one month ago they attacked Hassake to take it, (and) they couldn’t,” Jacques Hindo, Syriac Archbishop of Hassake-Nisibi, told CNA Aug. 12. “Maybe, maybe, they are giving a signal that we are expecting another attack. It’s a little like a drug for us, to reassure us so that we aren’t vigilant, and then they’ll make a new, large attack.” Archbishop Hindo’s diocese is centered in Syria’s northeastern-most province, Al-Hasakah, which borders Turkey and Iraq. The archbishop collaborates closely with the city’s bishop from the Assyrian Church of the East (historically associated with Nestorianism), whose people were those abducted in February. The two bishops have been working side by side to negotiate the release of the 230 Assyrian Christians abducted by the Islamic State when they attacked villages across Al-Hasakah province. In the initial assault the militants took control of several farming communities on the southern bank of the Khabur river, as well as the Christian quarters in the south of Hassake. Archbishop Hindo noted that during the siege, Islamic State militants were stationed on the other side of a bridge that sat barely 500 meters (1,600 feet) from where he and others were taking refuge. However, the Islamic State failed to take control of the province, and unleashed another attack on Hassake June 25, leading thousands of inhabitants to flee the city, including the remaining Christian population. With no more Christians in the city, the archbishop also left, and returned just two weeks ago when the faithful themselves began to come back. Since February the archbishop has been in sporadic contact with the Islamic State about the possibility of freeing those taken in the initial attack. A month ago the militants asked for $1-2 million in exchange for the release of the hostages. However, after sending an immediate response saying that they couldn’t pay, Archbishop Hindo said he has yet to receive a reply from the Islamic State. The appearance of the 22 Christians – most of whom are elderly – pulling up on a bus in front of an Assyrian church in Hassake was a surprising but welcome site. Despite the fact they haven’t said much yet, they seemed physically and mentally healthy, Archbishop Hindo noted. He said the release of the 22 gives hope that the other 208 hostages, who are mostly women and children – including two infants no more than 5-6 months old – will also be set free, though he remained cautious. In addition to their woes with the Islamic State, the Christians are also beginning to face difficulties with Kurdish soldiers, who, after driving out the militants, have entered into the Christian quarter of Hassake and taken over portions of the schools, churches, and houses. Archbishop Hindo explained that their presence is making the Christians nervous, and many have begun to leave again. “What we haven’t understood is why they are doing it. They said they are doing it to survey Daesh (the Islamic State)” and look for small pockets of militants who may have infiltrated the city, he said. “They say they are here to protect, but (the Christians) don’t believe them.” He asked that the soldiers depart and leave the Christians “in peace,” and made a personal appeal to the government “in the name of all Christians” to no longer put soldiers in the Christian quarter.   The ongoing battles and bombings have also taken their toll on the city. Archbishop Hindo said he is responsible for cleaning it, along with 120 others who assist him. The building where the supplies are kept, he said, has become known as the “Christian Commune.” Although they have little support outside of the meager funds they receive from Caritas, the archbishop said they have been able to set up 300 beds and to offer food, medical, and sanitation supplies for those in need. Even though they’ve been doing the same work since Syria’s civil war broke out five years ago, this month there has been a stark increase in what they are handing out, because the need is enormous. Help coming from the outside has been “very little,” he said, explaining that there is no way for them to receive assistance from neighboring countries. “We have the borders closed around us. In the north we have Turkey who has closed the border. In the east Daesh in Iraq, in the west Daesh in Syria, and in the south Daesh,” he said. “If someone is sick or needs surgery, no one can enter or leave, and we can’t go in the car. Everything is closed around us. All around us we have only enemies.” However, despite their difficulties the Christian community is enduring. They find their strength, Archbishop Hindo said, not from what they see around them, but from “what comes from the heart” – their own prayers, and the prayers of others. “Right now we are a project of martyrdom … the wars are not finished. (But) we cannot be pessimists because the Lord is not a pessimist.” Although they are afraid, they aren’t paralyzed, the archbishop said, adding that there is still work they can do. “If we need to praise we must praise Christ,” he said, and, quoting a Syriac saint, added: “if you sing, sing praise. This is what you have been created for.” The archbishop then made an appeal for spiritual support, because right now “we don’t need pity. We need prayer, we need help.” Read more

A voice missing from the synod: faithful Catholics with same-sex attraction

Detroit, Mich., Aug 13, 2015 / 04:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- When presenters addressed last year’s Synod of Bishops to discuss challenges facing the family, there was one group who voice was absent – those with same-sex attraction living chast… Read more

Colorado court gives no relief to baker who declined to serve gay wedding

Denver, Colo., Aug 13, 2015 / 03:06 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A Colorado baker has lamented the Colorado Court of Appeals’ ruling handed down Thursday that he illegally discriminated when he declined to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Ja… Read more

What the Church is doing to help flood victims in Myanmar

Yangon, Myanmar, Aug 13, 2015 / 11:30 am (CNA/EWTN News).- More than 100 people have been killed and thousands more displaced by monsoon flooding in Myanmar, one of the poorest nations in Asia. With government relief efforts faltering, the Catholic Chu… Read more

In Burundi’s crisis, the Church stands with the people

Bujumbura, Burundi, Aug 13, 2015 / 06:02 am (Aid to the Church in Need).- A Burundian priest has spoken out about the worrying crisis in his country, particularly following the Aug. 2 murder of  General Adolph Nshimirimana, a close ally of preside… Read more

A street party for Don Bosco – 15,000 turn up to celebrate saint in Lima

Lima, Peru, Aug 13, 2015 / 03:59 am (CNA).- More than 15,000 members of the Salesian Family turned out August 9 on the streets of Lima, Peru, as part of the celebration of Bicentennial of the Birth of Don Bosco. Speaking to CNA, Father Santo Dal Ben,… Read more

Pope Francis baptizes children of an old friend at the Vatican

Vatican City, Aug 13, 2015 / 12:31 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a whirlwind trip, Lucas Schaerer and his family – friends of Pope Francis from his time in Buenos Aires – traveled to the Vatican, where the Pope baptized their daughters, Simona and Charo. “The ceremony was beautiful and simple…Francis celebrated Mass and then we went to a sitting room, where we spoke for a long time,” Argentinian journalist Mercedes Ninci, a close friend of the couple, recalled in comments posted to the Vatican blog Il Sismografo Aug. 12. Ninci, who works for Radio Mitre’s “El Diario de Mariana,” is the godmother to newborn Simona, and was present in the chapel of the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse for the baptisms. According to the journalist, Lucas and his wife Ana have known the Pope for some time, and are both active members in “The Alameda” Foundation. Dedicated to fighting against human and drug trafficking, the organization is well-known in Latin America, and has always had Francis’ strong support. In an interview with Ciudad.com published Aug. 10, Ninci recalled how Lucas and Ana sent the Pope a sonogram image of their baby when they found out they were pregnant. Once the Pope received it, she said, he offered to baptize the baby when she was born. When the time came, everything happened “suddenly,” she said, and recounted that just a few days before they left “Lucas called me asking if I wanted to be the godmother of the baby, Simona, and told me (the baptism) was in the Vatican.” Everything happened quickly and “with almost no money,” Ninci said, explaining that since they didn’t have time to find a place to stay when they got to Rome, Pope Francis arranged for them to stay in a convent that hosts pilgrims. After arriving to the Eternal City Aug. 5, the couple returned to Buenos Aires on the 10th. In addition to baptizing the newborn Simona, Francis also baptized Ana’s older daughter, Charo, who is 9. Also a member of “The Alameda” foundation, Ninci said that she had met the Pope while he was still in Buenos Aires, but that they never developed a close friendship. Now, after being present for the Mass and speaking with the Pope after, “it was amazing to meet a simple and profoundly human shepherd,” she said in the comments posted to Il Sismografo. One thing that Ninci said immediately caught her attention was that when the Pope walked in to greet them he was alone, appearing without the usual entourage that normally comes with people in a position like his. In her responses to Ciudad.com, the journalist said she was excited to be with someone “so simple and dedicated to the people, so detached from power.” She recalled how the Pope spoke a lot about his own family and childhood, specifically his mother, father and four siblings. Francis also said a lot of things that “made me think,” Ninci explained, such as “to win war you must not to start it.” “I, the warrior that I am, live battling for things I shouldn’t,” she said. “Now that I’ve come back I haven’t fought with anyone, at least not yet.” However, Ninci said the most important and exciting thing the Pope told her was when he said, “The fact that you are a poor journalist speaks well of you.” On seeing the Pope so down to earth and detached from his office, “spiritually and attitudinally it did me well,” she said. Read more

Latin Americans find post-abortion healing in Rachel’s Vineyard Hispanic outreach

Palm Beach, Fla., Aug 12, 2015 / 04:09 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Abortion strikes someone on such a personal level that it’s only natural that those seeking healing would want to express their grief and pain in their first language. That’s what Donna Gardner realized when her Rachel’s Vineyard team began encountering men and women whose first language is Spanish. Gardner coordinates the apostolate’s rereats for Catholic Charities of Palm Beach, and she explained that “The English speaking team kept encountering Hispanic men and women hurt by abortion. As I was preparing them for the retreats, they would start to tell their stories in English. However, as their anxiety and trauma remembrances heightened, they started to speak in their native tongue. It didn’t take very long for us to realize we needed a Hispanic ministry here,” she said. What started as outreach to native Spanish speakers in Florida has now turned into an international endeavor with post-abortive healing retreats being held across Central and South America, including in Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Panama, and Colombia. When they realized they needed to create a Spanish-language ministry, Gardner and her team of 60 began praying that God would send the right person to lead it. Eight years later, a woman named Emily, who was born in Chicago but raised in Puerto Rico, proved to be the answer to their prayers. With Gardner’s support, Emily has created a thriving retreat outreach initiative for Hispanics that now hosts two retreats a year along with counseling and clergy support. “It is hard for these women and men to open up, to trust,” Emily said. “They long for God’s forgiveness, but they struggle to forgive themselves.” Her background in a ministry formation program for laity helped her not only with planning and running retreats, but also with making contacts with priests from Central and South America. These international retreats require Emily and her team to raise funds for their own airfare and retreat materials. Additionally, her team must commit to running the first few retreats while mentoring the local team. In 2011, the first Rachel’s Vineyard Hispanic retreat was held in Panama – where prostitution is still legal. Since then many men and women have received healing and reconciliation and have had the chance to grieve and honor their aborted children. Fr. Rafael Payon, a priest from Nicaragua who came to the May 2015 Rachel’s Vineyard retreat in Palm Beach, said, “I’m totally in love with this ministry and believe each parish should have its own Rachel’s Vineyard.” A retreat is now planned in his home country in 2016. Read more

Former technician: Planned Parenthood took baby organs without consent

Washington D.C., Aug 12, 2015 / 11:55 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The latest in a series of videos on Planned Parenthood features testimony from a former technician who says she worked with the clinics to procure tissue from aborted babies without the mother’s consent. “Basically you just went in there and took her blood, and now you’re going to take her fetus without her knowing,” Holly O’Donnell, a former “blood and tissue procurement technician” for the California-based biotech company StemExpress, which partnered with California Planned Parenthood clinics to obtain fetal tissue specimens. “Imagine if you were an abortion patient and someone was just going in and stealing your baby’s parts,” she reflected in the video. “It’s just terrible.” Describing the process used to procure fetal tissue, O’Donnell said that “if there was a higher gestation, and the technicians needed it, there were times when they would just take what they wanted. And these mothers don’t know. And there’s no way they would know.” O’Donnell also questioned abortion procedures’ emotional impact on women, and the practices of her former co-workers to utilize this emotional stress to obtain fetal body parts. “There’s a reason why they keep journals in the recovery room. If abortion was a good thing, there wouldn’t be so much emotional damage from it,” she commented, explaining that she was often reprimanded for not pressuring women into consenting to medical research. Furthermore, the technicians would collaborate with the Planned Parenthood clinics days in advance to determine the number of patients seeking abortions and how far into their pregnancy they were, O’Donnell said. By federal law, any procurement of fetal tissue for research must be done with the consent of the mother. O’Donnell’s testimony calls into question Planned Parenthood’s practices in relation to the law. The video is the latest in a series of reports on “Human Capital” by the citizen journalist group Center for Medical Progress. It is the result of a three-year investigative study of Planned Parenthood and its transfer of body parts of aborted babies for money. The videos have sparked a national conversation about the use of fetal body parts from aborted babies for medical research, as well as a call for an end to funding for Planned Parenthood. Earlier videos in the undercover series showed top Planned Parenthood officials casually discussing the price of body parts of aborted babies with actors who presented themselves as representatives of tissue procurement companies. Previous videos showed discussion of the “donation” of body parts of aborted babies for “reasonable” compensation, detailed explanation of how the abortion process could be changed to ensure intact body parts, and footage of abortion technicians discussing the available organs of recently aborted patients. The most recent video also featured the director of research for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Melissa Farrell, discussing the possibility of altering the abortion procedure to have a higher chance of obtaining “intact” baby organs. The National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act of 1993 explicitly prohibits changing an abortion procedure solely to obtain fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood maintains that their actions are legal. However, the strong reaction to the videos has prompted congressional investigations, and several states have moved to stop funding the organization. Wednesday’s video is the second part of O’Donnell testimony. After the first portion was released, StemExpress filed a formal complaint with a federal district court, citing invasion of privacy and breach of contract among other complaints. The company asked for and received an injunction on any more videos being released by the Center for Medical Progress, lasting several weeks.   The group responded by releasing their next two videos featuring Planned Parenthood officials in states other than California.   Read more