Mother Teresa’s Speech to National Prayer Breakfast Feb 5, 1994

Mother Teresa gave this speech at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 5, 1994.

On the last day, Jesus will say to those on His right hand, “Come, enter the Kingdom. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was sick and you visited me.” Then Jesus will turn to those on His left hand and say, “Depart from me because I was hungry and you did not feed me, I was thirsty and you did not give me to drink, I was sick and you did not visit me.” These will ask Him, “When did we see You hungry, or thirsty or sick and did not come to Your help?” And Jesus will answer them, “Whatever you neglected to do unto one of these least of these, you neglected to do unto Me!”

As we have gathered here to pray together, I think it will be beautiful if we begin with a prayer that expresses very well what Jesus wants us to do for the least. St. Francis of Assisi understood very well these words of Jesus and his life is very well expressed by a prayer. And this prayer, which we say every day after Holy Communion, always surprises me very much, because it is very fitting for each one of us. And I always wonder whether 800 years ago when St. Francis lived, they had the same difficulties that we have today. I think that some of you already have this prayer of peace — so we will pray it together.

Let us thank God for the opportunity He has given us today to have come here to pray together. We have come here especially to pray for peace, joy and love. We are reminded that Jesus came to bring the good news to the poor. He had told us what is that good news when He said: “My peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you.” He came not to give the peace of the world which is only that we don’t bother each other. He came to give the peace of heart which comes from loving — from doing good to others.

And God loved the world so much that He gave His son — it was a giving. God gave His son to the Virgin Mary, and what did she do with Him? As soon as Jesus came into Mary’s life, immediately she went in haste to give that good news. And as she came into the house of her cousin, Elizabeth, Scripture tells us that the unborn child — the child in the womb of Elizabeth — leapt with joy. While still in the womb of Mary — Jesus brought peace to John the Baptist who leapt for joy in the womb of Elizabeth.

And as if that were not enough, as if it were not enough that God the Son should become one of us and bring peace and joy while still in the womb of Mary, Jesus also died on the Cross to show that greater love. He died for you and for me, and for the leper and for that man dying of hunger and that naked person lying in the street, not only of Calcutta, but of Africa, and everywhere. Our Sisters serve these poor people in 105 countries throughout the world. Jesus insisted that we love one another as He loves each one of us. Jesus gave His life to love us and He tells us that we also have to give whatever it takes to do good to one another. And in the Gospel Jesus says very clearly: “Love as I have loved you.”

Jesus died on the Cross because that is what it took for Him to do good to us — to save us from our selfishness in sin. He gave up everything to do the Father’s will — to show us that we too must be willing to give up everything to do God’s will — to love one another as He loves each of us. If we are not willing to give whatever it takes to do good to one another, sin is still in us. That is why we too must give to each other until it hurts.

It is not enough for us to say: “I love God,” but I also have to love my neighbor. St. John says that you are a liar if you say you love God and you don’t love your neighbor. How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbor whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live? And so it is very important for us to realize that love, to be true, has to hurt. I must be willing to give whatever it takes not to harm other people and, in fact, to do good to them. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is not true love in me and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.

It hurt Jesus to love us. We have been created in His image for greater things, to love and to be loved. We must “put on Christ” as Scripture tells us. And so, we have been created to love as He loves us. Jesus makes Himself the hungry one, the naked one, the homeless one, the unwanted one, and He says, “You did it to Me.” On the last day He will say to those on His right, “whatever you did to the least of these, you did to Me, and He will also say to those on His left, whatever you neglected to do for the least of these, you neglected to do it for Me.”

When He was dying on the Cross, Jesus said, “I thirst.” Jesus is thirsting for our love, and this is the thirst of everyone, poor and rich alike. We all thirst for the love of others, that they go out of their way to avoid harming us and to do good to us. This is the meaning of true love, to give until it hurts.

I can never forget the experience I had in visiting a home where they kept all these old parents of sons and daughters who had just put them into an institution and forgotten them — maybe. I saw that in that home these old people had everything — good food, comfortable place, television, everything, but everyone was looking toward the door. And I did not see a single one with a smile on the face. I turned to Sister and I asked: “Why do these people who have every comfort here, why are they all looking toward the door? Why are they not smiling?”

I am so used to seeing the smiles on our people, even the dying ones smile. And Sister said: “This is the way it is nearly everyday. They are expecting, they are hoping that a son or daughter will come to visit them. They are hurt because they are forgotten.” And see, this neglect to love brings spiritual poverty. Maybe in our own family we have somebody who is feeling lonely, who is feeling sick, who is feeling worried. Are we there? Are we willing to give until it hurts in order to be with our families, or do we put our own interests first? These are the questions we must ask ourselves, especially as we begin this year of the family. We must remember that love begins at home and we must also remember that ‘the future of humanity passes through the family.’

I was surprised in the West to see so many young boys and girls given to drugs. And I tried to find out why. Why is it like that, when those in the West have so many more things than those in the East? And the answer was: ‘Because there is no one in the family to receive them.’ Our children depend on us for everything — their health, their nutrition, their security, their coming to know and love God. For all of this, they look to us with trust, hope and expectation. But often father and mother are so busy they have no time for their children, or perhaps they are not even married or have given up on their marriage. So their children go to the streets and get involved in drugs or other things. We are talking of love of the child, which is were love and peace must begin. These are the things that break peace.

But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even His life to love us. So, the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love, that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts.

By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And, by abortion, that father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. The father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.

Many people are very, very concerned with the children of India, with the children of Africa where quite a few die of hunger, and so on. Many people are also concerned about all the violence in this great country of the United States. These concerns are very good. But often these same people are not concerned with the millions who are being killed by the deliberate decision of their own mothers. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today — abortion which brings people to such blindness.

And for this I appeal in India and I appeal everywhere — “Let us bring the child back.” The child is God’s gift to the family. Each child is created in the special image and likeness of God for greater things — to love and to be loved. In this year of the family we must bring the child back to the center of our care and concern. This is the only way that our world can survive because our children are the only hope for the future. As older people are called to God, only their children can take their places.

But what does God say to us? He says: “Even if a mother could forget her child, I will not forget you. I have carved you in the palm of my hand.” We are carved in the palm of His hand; that unborn child has been carved in the hand of God from conception and is called by God to love and to be loved, not only now in this life, but forever. God can never forget us.

I will tell you something beautiful. We are fighting abortion by adoption — by care of the mother and adoption for her baby. We have saved thousands of lives. We have sent word to the clinics, to the hospitals and police stations: “Please don’t destroy the child; we will take the child.” So we always have someone tell the mothers in trouble: “Come, we will take care of you, we will get a home for your child.” And we have a tremendous demand from couples who cannot have a child — but I never give a child to a couple who have done something not to have a child. Jesus said, “Anyone who receives a child in my name, receives me.” By adopting a child, these couples receive Jesus but, by aborting a child, a couple refuses to receive Jesus.

Please don’t kill the child. I want the child. Please give me the child. I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted and to give that child to a married couple who will love the child and be loved by the child. From our children’s home in Calcutta alone, we have saved over 3000 children from abortion. These children have brought such love and joy to their adopting parents and have grown up so full of love and joy.

I know that couples have to plan their family and for that there is natural family planning. The way to plan the family is natural family planning, not contraception. In destroying the power of giving life, through contraception, a husband or wife is doing something to self. This turns the attention to self and so it destroys the gifts of love in him or her. In loving, the husband and wife must turn the attention to each other as happens in natural family planning, and not to self, as happens in contraception. Once that living love is destroyed by contraception, abortion follows very easily.

I also know that there are great problems in the world — that many spouses do not love each other enough to practice natural family planning. We cannot solve all the problems in the world, but let us never bring in the worst problem of all, and that is to destroy love. And this is what happens when we tell people to practice contraception and abortion.

The poor are very great people. They can teach us so many beautiful things. Once one of them came to thank us for teaching her natural family planning and said: “You people who have practiced chastity, you are the best people to teach us natural family planning because it is nothing more than self-control out of love for each other.” And what this poor person said is very true. These poor people maybe have nothing to eat, maybe they have not a home to live in, but they can still be great people when they are spiritually rich.

When I pick up a person from the street, hungry, I give him a plate of rice, a piece of bread. But a person who is shut out, who feels unwanted, unloved, terrified, the person who has been thrown out of society — that spiritual poverty is much harder to overcome. And abortion, which often follows from contraception, brings a people to be spiritually poor, and that is the worst poverty and the most difficult to overcome.

Those who are materially poor can be very wonderful people. One evening we went out and we picked up four people from the street. And one of them was in a most terrible condition. I told the Sisters: “You take care of the other three; I will take care of the one who looks worse.” So I did for her all that my love can do. I put her in bed, and there was such a beautiful smile on her face. She took hold of my hand, as she said one word only: “thank you” — and she died.

I could not help but examine my conscience before her. And I asked: “What would I say if I were in her place?” And my answer was very simple. I would have tried to draw a little attention to myself. I would have said: “I am hungry, I am dying, I am cold, I am in pain,” or something. But she gave me much more — she gave me her grateful love. And she died with a smile on her face. Then there was the man we picked up from the drain, half eaten by worms and, after we had brought him to the home, he only said, “I have lived like an animal in the street, but I am going to die as an angel, loved and cared for.” Then, after we had removed all the worms from his body, all he said, with a big smile, was: “Sister, I am going home to God” — and he died. It was so wonderful to see the greatness of that man who could speak like that without blaming anybody, without comparing anything. Like an angel — this is the greatness of people who are spiritually rich even when they are materially poor.

We are not social workers. We may be doing social work in the eyes of some people, but we must be contemplatives in the heart of the world. For we must bring that presence of God into your family, for the family that prays together, stays together. There is so much hatred, so much misery, and we with our prayer, with our sacrifice, are beginning at home. Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put into what we do.

If we are contemplatives in the heart of the world with all its problems, these problems can never discourage us. We must always remember what God tells us in Scripture: “Even if a mother could forget the child in her womb” — something impossible, but even if she could forget — “I will never forget you.”

And so here I am talking with you. I want you to find the poor here, right in your own home first. And begin love there. Be that good news to your own people first. And find out about your next-door neighbors. Do you know who they are?

I had the most extraordinary experience of love of neighbor with a Hindu family. A gentleman came to our house and said: “Mother Teresa, there is a family who have not eaten for so long. Do something.” So I took some rice and went there immediately. And I saw the children — their eyes shining with hunger. I don’t know if you have ever seen hunger. But I have seen it very often. And the mother of the family took the rice I gave her and went out. When she came back, I asked her: “Where did you go? What did you do?” And she gave me a very simple answer: “They are hungry also.” What struck me was that she knew — and who are they? A Muslim family — and she knew. I didn’t bring any more rice that evening because I wanted them, Hindus and Muslims, to enjoy the joy of sharing.

But there were those children, radiating joy, sharing the joy and peace with their mother because she had the love to give until it hurts. And you see this is where love begins — at home in the family.

So, as the example of this family shows, God will never forget us and there is something you and I can always do. We can keep the joy of loving Jesus in our hearts, and share that joy with all we come in contact with. Let us make that one point — that no child will be unwanted, unloved, uncared for, or killed and thrown away. And give until it hurts — with a smile.

Because I talk so much of giving with a smile, once a professor from the United States asked me: “Are you married?” And I said: “Yes, and I find it sometimes very difficult to smile at my spouse, Jesus, because He can be very demanding — sometimes.” This is really something true. And this is where love comes in — when it is demanding, and yet we can give it with joy.

One of the most demanding things for me is travelling everywhere — and with publicity. I have said to Jesus that if I don’t go to heaven for anything else, I will be going to heaven for all the travelling with all the publicity, because it has purified me and sacrificed me and made me really ready to go to heaven.

If we remember that God loves us, and that we can love others as He loves us, then America can become a sign of peace for the world. From here, a sign of care for the weakest of the weak — the unborn child — must go out to the world. If you become a burning light of justice and peace in the world, then really you will be true to what the founders of this country stood for. God bless you!

Vocation: Whatever You Do, Do It For the Lord and Don’t Worry About the Consequences

Vocation

 

Today is the beginning of Vocations week.

Many people have a particular vocation. Some people are called to a vowed life as a priest or religious. Others are called to marriage or to create a lay ministry. While these particular vocations are a great gift to all of us, there is a spiritual danger in over-emphasing them. The danger lies in the fact that an over-emphasis on particular vocations can make us forget the first and universal vocation of all Christians.

Whatever we do, if we are Christians, we all have the one overarching vocation of accepting God’s love and living in the light of eternity. We are destined for greater things than whatever we do in the here and now. This life is just a prelude for us. However, it is an important, defining prelude.

Our call as Christians is, first and foremost, to live our lives in the acceptance of His transforming love. Our first job is to say “yes” to the God Who made us, Who died for us and Who calls us to Him until we come home.

I have experienced this call. Every single day of the 17 years of my anti-God period, He called me. It was a pull that never stopped or wavered, no matter what I did or said to the contrary.

Our first and essential vocation as Christians is to simply say “yes” to this call. Our most important vocation is the vocation of beloved children of a loving God.

Everything else flows from that. We are Christians and our first and primary vocation is to let Him love us and to live in the flow of that love. We don’t have to spend hours and days of our lives “discerning God’s will for our lives.”

My experience has been that if God wants you to do something, you’re not going to be able to get out of it. So don’t worry about it.

Who, me?

The God Who called you from death to life can and will call you to any work He has for you. You don’t have to go chasing after Him. He’s right there with you, all the time.

So relax. Accept and believe that living in His love is your vocation. He will use you as He wishes if you just do what He tells you. But first you have to live humbly in that love and walk faithfully in the “yes” you said when you gave yourself to Him.

Your vocation, whether your are a priest, bishop, nun, monk, or housewife, is to live your life and do your deeds as a Christian. If you are an attorney, then your vocation as a Christian is to be an honest, hard-working and generous Christian attorney. If you are a policeman, your job is to never cut corners, never lie, follow the evidence without trying to alter it to fit your ideas, and be an honest, hard-working Christian policeman. Whatever you do, your job, your vocation, is to do the work in front of you as if you were doing it for Christ the Lord, because in fact, you are.

Any job a true Christian puts his or her hand to is a vocation if they do it for the Lord. But the glossiest, most high-profile ministry is dust that blows away with the slightest breeze if they do it for themselves. Our vocation is to live in His love and to follow Him. All the rest will come to us if we do that.

In my opinion, the highest vocation any of us can know is not founding some ministry. It is raising our own children. If you are a father or a mother, then your first vocation in this life is to protect, shape and love the precious lives God has entrusted to you. It is your vocation before God to bring them into a productive and Christian adulthood. If you don’t take care of your own children, nothing else you do in life matters all that much.

Family is eternity work. It is also the dearest blessing in this life.

Today is the first day of vocations week. If you are a Christian, your first and most important vocation is simply letting God love you from death into life. Your second step in that vocation is to follow Him all your days. The third is to do the work that is in front of you in the light of that love and that followership. Whatever you do, do it for the Lord and don’t worry about the consequences. He will take care of that part.

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Co-Worker Introduced John Paul II to His Priestly Vocation

God can use any of us to deliver His message.

A case in point is the charming story of how John Paul II first received his call to the priesthood from a co-worker. This story of how God uses each of us to His purpose is a good one for us to ponder in this Year of Faith. How does God use you in your daily life to bring His light into the world?

The CNA/EWTN News story describing what happened reads in part:

Rome, Italy, Jan 11, 2013 / 03:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- One of the closest collaborators of Blessed John Paul II, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, recounted in Rome a little-known story about the late pontiff’s vocation to the priesthood.

Cardinal Re served at the Vatican Secretary of State and later prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

On Jan. 9 at the Conciliaziones Auditorium – during the presentation of the recital “The Pope and the Poet,” inspired by the life of Karol Wojtyla – he recalled an unpublished episode from the life of the late pontiff.

The cardinal told reporters that in 1939, young Karol Wojtyla had to quit college and work at a quarry to support himself and keep from being deported to Germany.

“There he worked with a miner who set explosives in the mines, and one day the miner told him, ‘I think you would make a great priest.’”

“John Paul II told us that until that moment he had never thought of being a priest. He said, that man who I worked with already saw me as a priest,” Cardinal Re said. (Read more here.)

Join the Discussions of the Year of Faith

Click here throughout the Year of Faith, as the Catholic Channel at Patheos.com invites Catholics of every age and stripe to share what they are gleaning and carrying away from this gift of timely focus.

Gay Marriage Could Signal Return to ‘Centuries of Persecution’ Say 1,000 Priests

I published a copy of a letter that was signed by over 1,000 priests and published in the Daily Telegraph in the UK.

Here is a follow up story about the same letter in the The Telegraph.

It reads in part:

Gay marriage could signal return to ‘centuries of persecution’, – say 1,000 Catholic priests

More than 1,000 priests have signed a letter voicing alarm that same-sex marriage could threaten religious freedom in a way last seen during “centuries of persecution” of Roman Catholics in England.

Gay weddings not the answer, Cameron told

The Coalition is due to publish its Equal Marriage Bill, allowing couples of the same sex to wed at the end of this month Photo: ALAMY

By John Bingham, Religious Affairs Editor

9:50PM GMT 11 Jan 2013

In one of the biggest joint letters of its type ever written, they raise fears that their freedom to practise and speak about their faith will be “severely” limited and dismiss Government reassurances as “meaningless”.

They even liken David Cameron’s moves to redefine marriage to those of Henry VIII, whose efforts to secure a divorce from Katherine of Aragon triggered centuries of bloody upheaval between church and state.

They claim that, taken in combination with equalities laws and other legal restraints, the Coalition’s plans will prevent Catholics and other Christians who work in schools, charities and other public bodies speaking freely about their beliefs on the meaning of marriage.

Even the freedom to speak from the pulpit could be under threat, they claim.

And they fear that Christians who believe in the traditional meaning of marriage would effectively be excluded from some jobs – just as Catholics were barred from many professions from the Reformation until the 19th Century.

Is Normalizing Pedophilia the Next Amoral Social Movement?

Father Dwight Longenecker, who blogs at Standing on My Head, wrote a duzzy of a post yesterday.

It seems Fr Longenecker read an article in The Guardian that is one of several that have been appearing lately in an attempt to gain acceptance for pedophilia. These articles follow the social-movement-tested tactic of introducing the process of building acceptance for a practice which is universally regarded as anathema by “discussing” it as something the practitioner “can’t help.”

I would like to go off on a riff of my own about this, but nothing I could say would improve on what Fr Longenecker has already written. His post, Relativizing Child Abuse reads in part:

Relativizing Child Abuse

January 11, 2013 By Fr. Dwight Longenecker

Did you think that the one moral certainty in our society that everyone agrees on is the evil of the sexual abuse of children? Think again. This taboo is the next one to fall.

If you would like a lesson in how old Screwtape works take time to read through this article from the UK’s Guardian newspaper.

The piece discusses various studies on pedophilia, and attempts to relativize this horrible issue. Here’s a quote:

 ”There are a lot of people who say: “we outlawed homosexuality, and we were wrong. Perhaps we’re wrong about paedophilia.”

The journalist doesn’t go so far as to endorse pedophilia. He doesn’t even write sympathetically about pedophiles. Oh no, it’s much more subtle than that. Instead he states that “society’s attitudes change” and “experts don’t agree” and “it’s all very complicated” and “it could be that pedophilia is simply a natural condition that cannot be changed. He opines that it may be one of many sexual orientations, and that we should seek to understand the condition rather than condemn. He goes on to say that certain studies have shown that sexual relationships between adults and underage partners are not necessarily “harmful”.

(Read the rest here.)

Transgendered Teacher Sues Catholic School for Discrimination

What’s wrong with this story?

In my opinion, everything.

We have a transgendered teacher, who has decided to cross dress and come to work. The problem is that he works in a Catholic School. The teacher claims he felt that the “school’s attitude” toward him “changed” after he started wearing “multiple earrings,” a “French manicure” and his “shoulder-length brown hair” to school.

When the school laid him off, he (predictably) filed suit under New York’s anti-discrimination laws. The cherry on top all this is that former students at this Catholic school have started a petition demanding that the school apologize to the teacher.

What a rat trap.

So far as I’m concerned, this whole argument, the fact that there is an argument, is a great example of how we put everything else in the world ahead of the welfare of children so far as our schools are concerned. If this lawsuit actually does have merit under New York law, then I also regard it as yet another example of how the government has gone too far in interfering with religious institutions.

The CNN article describing this mess reads in part:

Mark Krolikowski

(CNN) — Mark Krolikowski has shoulder-length brown hair. He likes to wear multiple earrings and French manicure his nails. Students call him Mr. K.

Krolikowski, 59, taught for 32 years at St. Francis Preparatory School, a 140-year-old Catholic institution in Queens, New York.

Until August. That’s when the school laid him off.

He alleges that he was discriminated against because he is transgender and that the school’s attitude toward him changed in the eight months after he came out.

He recently filed a lawsuit saying the school and its principal, Leonard Conway, broke the law with his termination and that as a result, Krolikowski has been distressed.

“Teaching — it’s my life,” Krolikowski said Friday. “I feel that has been taken away from me.”

His lawyer Andrew Kimler said Krolikowski’s case has “significant ramifications for the LGBT community and is a wakeup call to employers in terms of employment practices.”

Conway would not comment but referred questions to his lawyer, Philip C. Semprevivo Jr.

Semprevivo said he could not discuss details of the case since it was in litigation but said Krolikowski was terminated legally.

“We deny all the allegations,” he said.

In the meantime, former students of St. Francis launched an online petition that describes Krolikowski as a beloved and well-respected teacher and urges the school to apologize.

Cristina Guarino, who started the petition on Change.org, said Krolikowski always had a “feminine edge,” though it was nothing shocking. Some students speculated on his sexuality and wondered whether he was gay. (Read more here.)

Letter Supporting Marriage and Religious Freedom Signed by 1,000 British Priests

This letter was published in today’s Daily Telegraph in the UK. It was signed by just over a thousand priests. 

Maybe American priests need to do something similar.

Letter to The Daily Telegraph, published Saturday 12th January 2012

SIR – After centuries of persecution, Catholics have, in recent times, been able to be members of the professions and participate fully in the life of this country.

Legislation for same-sex marriage, should it be enacted, will have many legal consequences, severely restricting the ability of Catholics to teach the truth about marriage in their schools, charitable institutions or places of worship.

It is meaningless to argue that Catholics and others may still teach their beliefs about marriage in schools and other arenas if they are also expected to uphold the opposite view at the same time.

The natural complementarity between a man and a woman leads to marriage, seen as a lifelong partnership. This loving union – because of their physical complementarity – is open to bringing forth and nurturing children.

This is what marriage is. That is why marriage is only possible between a man and a woman. Marriage, and the home, children and family life it generates, is the foundation and basic building block of our society.

We urge Members of Parliament not to be afraid to reject this legislation now that its consequences are more clear.

Rt Rev Peter Brignall

Bishop of Wrexham

Rt Rev Terence Drainey
Bishop of Middlesbrough

Rt Rev Philip Egan

Bishop of Portsmouth

Rt Rev Malcolm McMahon
Bishop of Nottingham

Rt Rev Mgr Keith Newton
Ordinary, Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham

Rt Rev Daniel Mullins
Bishop Emeritus of Menevia

Rt Rev Philip Pargeter Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Birmingham

Rt Rev Patrick O’Donoghue Bishop Emeritus of Lancaster

Rt Rev Francis Walmsley
Bishop Emeritus to HM Forces

Rt Rev Mgr Edwin Barnes
Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham

Rt Rev Francis Baird OSB
Abbot of Prinknash

Rt Rev Dom Aidan Bellenger OSB Abbot of Downside

Rt Rev Abbot Cuthbert Brogan OSB
Abbot of Farnborough

Rt Rev Dom Paul Stonham OSB Abbot of Belmont

Very Rev Hugh Allan O Praem

Very Rev Leo Chamberlain OSB MA

Very Rev Dom Michael Clothier OSB

Very Rev Michael Copps OFM

Very Rev Damian Humphries OSB

Rt Rev Anthony Maggs CRL

Very Rev Senan Mahoney OCSO

Rev Emmanuel Mansford CFR

Mitred Archpriest Alexander Nadson

Very Rev Daniel Seward Cong Orat

Very Rev Bernard Swinhoe OSB

Very Rev Henry Wansbrough OSB

Mgr John Allen Mgr Peter Anglim Mgr John Armitage

Mgr Keith Barltrop Mgr Anthony Barry

Mgr Provost David Bottrill

Mgr Anthony Boylan Mgr Vincent Brady

Mgr Christopher Brooks

Mgr John Conneely

Mgr Provost Peter Cookson

Mgr John Corcoran

Mgr Jim Curry

Mgr John Daly

Mgr Canon Gerard Dasey

Very Rev E Alan Denneny

Mgr Walter Drumm

Mgr Gerald Ewing

Mgr Jeremy Fairhead

Mgr Timothy Galligan

Rev Mgr Canon Jeremy Garratt

Mgr Vincent Harvey Mgr Martin Hayes

Mgr Provost Sean Healy

Rev Mgr Philip Holroyd

Rt Rev Mgr Brian Kinrade

Mgr David Kirkwood

Mgr Canon John Maguire

Rev Mgr Thomas McGrath

Canon Sean P McTernan

Mgr Canon John Moran

Mgr Provost Cyril Murtagh

Mgr John Nelson Mgr William Nix Mgr Patrick O’Dea Mgr Gordon Read Mgr Phelim Rowland Mgr John Ryan

Mgr Bill Saunders

Mgr Canon Francis Slattery

Mgr Richard Stork

Mgr Andrew Summergill

Mgr Adrian Toffolo

Mgr Canon Harry Turner

Mgr Canon Aidan J Turner

Canon Colm Acton

Canon Grzegorz Aleksandrowicz

Canon Michael Bell Canon Vincent Berry

Canon Joseph Boardman

Canon Michael Brockie

Canon Pat Browne

Rev Canon Patrick Chrystal

Canon John Clark

Rev Canon Joseph Collins

Canon Francis Cookson

Canon Dunstan Cooper

Canon Philip Cross

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Christian Persecution: The Global War on Christians in the Muslim World

 

In Newsweek Magazine

Ayaan Hirsi Ali:The Global War on

Christians in the Muslim World

From one end of the muslim world to the other,

Christians are being murdered for their faith.

  • We hear so often about Muslims as victims of abuse in the West and combatants in the Arab Spring’s fight against tyranny. But, in fact, a wholly different kind of war is underway—an unrecognized battle costing thousands of lives. Christians are being killed in the Islamic world because of their religion. It is a rising genocide that ought to provoke global alarm.

The portrayal of Muslims as victims or heroes is at best partially accurate. In recent years the violent oppression of Christian minorities has become the norm in Muslim-majority nations stretching from West Africa and the Middle East to South Asia and Oceania. In some countries it is governments and their agents that have burned churches and imprisoned parishioners. In others, rebel groups and vigilantes have taken matters into their own hands, murdering Christians and driving them from regions where their roots go back centuries.

The media’s reticence on the subject no doubt has several sources. One may be fear of provoking additional violence. Another is most likely the influence of lobbying groups such as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation—a kind of United Nations of Islam centered in Saudi Arabia—and the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Over the past decade, these and similar groups have been remarkably successful in persuading leading public figures and journalists in the West to think of each and every example of perceived anti-Muslim discrimination as an expression of a systematic and sinister derangement called “Islamophobia”—a term that is meant to elicit the same moral disapproval as xenophobia or homophobia.

But a fair-minded assessment of recent events and trends leads to the conclusion that the scale and severity of Islamophobia pales in comparison with the bloody Christophobia currently coursing through Muslim-majority nations from one end of the globe to the other. The conspiracy of silence surrounding this violent expression of religious intolerance has to stop. Nothing less than the fate of Christianity—and ultimately of all religious minorities—in the Islamic world is at stake. (Read more here.)

Egypt Coptic Christians

 

At least 24 Coptic Christians were killed in Cairo during clashes with the Egyptian Army on Oct. 9. (Thomas Hartwell / Redux)

 

 

Christians in Asia are Targets of a Huge Increase in Violent Persecution

 

Vatican Insider La Stampa  MARCO TOSATTI ROME

“Gospel for Asia”, an organisation which aims to spread the Gospel’s message in Asia and deals with the Christian situation, has confirmed that in the last ten years the persecution of various denominations that follow the evangelical message has increased in a ratio of 10:40. In India alone there has been a “400% increase” in the number of assaults against Christians. This result was reached by taking into account all countries that had at least heard the announcement of the Gospel.

The President of “Gospel for Asia”, K P Yohannan said people who had not experienced persecution first hand “cannot fully understand what it means to receive threats against your life, to have your house destroyed, your own rights violated and your loved ones taken away from you and imprisoned; and all this because of your faith in Jesus Christ. In the fourteen countries in which we are present, persecution has become the norm, especially for those who are directly involved in missionary work.”

The Christians which the “Gospel for Asia” report refers to have had their homes destroyed or have been put behind bars, with all sorts of accusations being made against them, including “forced conversions”. Forced conversions are the main instrument used by Hindu nationalists to prevent the spread of Christianity. Many have been killed for believing in Christ and others have been forced to live a clandestine life.

K P Yohannan added: “The rise in this kind of persecution should not surprise us when it is witnessed in parts of the world that are hostile towards the Gospel. “Jesus sent his disciples out like sheep among the wolves. Historically and from a biblical point of view, persecution is only part of what it means to serve God.” (Read more here.)

Christian Persecution: Chancellor Merkel Criticized for Remarks About Persecuted Christians

Along with ignoring Christian persecution themselves, people who are aggressively anti-Christian often criticize and demean anyone who does speak out about it.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel ran into the usual angry barbs from this crowd last November when she broke the secularist code of silence concerning persecution of Christians. The brief story below describes a bit of what happened.

Merkel’s ‘Christian Persecution’ Comments Draw Ire
(AP, November 6, 2012)

Opposition lawmakers and human rights groups are criticizing German Chancellor Angela Merkel for claiming that Christianity is “the most persecuted religion worldwide.”

Lawmaker Jerzy Montag of the opposition Greens party on Tuesday described Merkel’s comments as “mistaken” and “not very helpful”.

Rights campaigners said ranking faiths according to how persecuted they are is pointless. (Read more here.)

Christian Persecution: Activist Says Media Ignores Christian Persecution Due to Anti-Christian Bias

Is the media ignoring violent persecution of Christians in the same way that it once ignored lynchings of African Americans, attacks on Jews in Nazi Germany?

According to activists on behalf of Christians in the Middle East, the answer is yes.

CBN NEWS JERUSALEM, Israel — Tens of thousands of Christians are fleeing the Middle East because of persecution. Yet this modern day exodus is getting little attention in the West.

Now, a Jewish group is teaming up with Christians to help spread the word about this persecution.

Almost 200 million Christians are targeted each year, especially in the birthplace of their faith, the Middle East. Iraq is just one example.

“Since 2003, there has been a systematic attack launched against the Christian community and other minorities in Iraq,” Juliana Taimoorazy, with the Iraqi Christian Relief Council, said.

“Unfortunately the mainstream media and many churches really don’t talk about persecution of their brothers and sisters in Christ,” she added.

Taimoorazy is an Assyrian Christian. She had to be smuggled out of her home country because of religious persecution.

She said since the end of Saddam Hussein’s reign, Islamic persecution has forced about two-thirds of Iraq’s Christians to flee.

The persecurtion escalated from attacks on churches to forcing Christians to choose between converting to Islam or paying a protection tax.

“And the next step for the Islamic extremists were to go in and attack families — kill children, kidnap women, impregnating them, torturing men, beheading them. Then they started attacking clergy members,” Taimoorazy said.

Author Raymond Ibrahim said anti-Christian violence is widespread across the region.

“It’s kind of amazing to me to see that what’s happening to Christians by Islamic forces…Christian worshippers are in a church and it gets attacked and it gets burned, things like that,” he said.

Ibrahim was born in the United States to Egyptian Coptic Christian parents. He said the media ignores Christian persecution because it contradicts the media’s perception of Islam.

“If this idea gets out that Islam is intolerant to the other, then it kind of puts the struggle with Israel in a different light,” Ibrahim explained.

Taimoorazy blamed the lack of attention on an anti-Christian sentiment in the American media and throughout the world.

“This is something they don’t want to talk about because then they would be perceived as pro-Christian. But it’s a human rights issue,” she said.

Alan Schneider, with the B’nai B’rith World Center, a well-known Jewish organization in Jerusalem, agreed. (Read more here.)

Biden Discusses His Committee’s Progress on Gun Control Legislation

Vice President Joe Biden discusses his ideas about potential gun control legislation in this YouTube video.

YouTube Preview Image

Justice Department Loses Case Against Pro Life Demonstrator

Attorney General Eric Holder and his wife Dr Sharon Holder

A rather obvious case of the Justice Department mis-using the law to harass a peaceful pro life demonstrator has been settled. David Hamilton was handing out literature at EMW Surgical Center when he and a clinic employee collided. No one was injured.

The United States Department of Justice subsequently charged Mr Hamilton with a violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. The government sought $15,000 in fines and another $5,000 in penalties from Mr Hamilton.

Even though the case is over, the atmosphere of intimidation it created remains. I would guess that this was a harrowing experience for Mr Hamilton and that it has had a chilling effect on others. I also think that was the real reason the government filed this claim.

It’s worth noting that the Attorney General of the United States has monetary links to the abortion industry through a building owned by his wife, Dr Sharon Holder. According to news reports, Attorney General Holder’s wife was part owner of a building where an indicted abortionist had his clinic. You can read about that here.

A LifeNews.com article concerning this case reads in part:

LifeNews.com  In a legal victory, the Obama administration has been stopped from targeting a peaceful pro-life advocate helping provide abortion alternatives to women heading to an abortion facility in Louisville, Kentucky.

In January 2010, David Hamilton was peacefully and lawfully handing literature to women entering EMW Surgical Center, an abortion clinic. He was not only interfered with illegally by abortion facility volunteers who locked arms to block him from talking to women, but he faced legal action from the Obama administration.

The Department of Justice prosecuted him for allegedly assaulting a volunteer who actually assaulted him. The “escort” attempted to forcibly block Hamilton to prevent him from sharing literature with women entering the clinic that explained other options to them.

Over a year after the date of the incident, rather than serving the clinic volunteer with a legal complaint for the illegal conduct, the Department of Justice served Hamilton with a legal complaint, alleging that he violated the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. The Life Legal Defense Foundation, a pro-life legal group, stepped in to provide Hamilton with legal support in court. The Obama administration lawsuit sought a $15,000 penalty and $5,000 in compensatory damages.

Today, the Life Legal Defense Foundation, a pro-life legal group, informed LifeNews that, three years after being unjustly arrested and then unjustly sued by the federal government, pro-life sidewalk counselor David Hamilton has ultimately won. The case has been settled and dismissed without an injunction and without a fine.

“Metro Police appropriately dismissed the local criminal case but almost a year later, the Attorney General of the United States filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. This lawsuit was part of the campaign of intimidation brought by the Obama administration,” asserted attorney Vince Heuser. “The attorney general has filed numerous lawsuits against pro-lifers for trivial problems that should have been handled locally. Many of them have been lost already or settled for nominal sums. It has been a colossal waste of taxpayer money and an abuse of the rights of pro-lifers across the nation.”

The EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville is the abortion business that was caught on videotape covering up a potential case of sexual abuse of a minor.

LifeNews Note: The case has been settled. LifeNews initially reported a judge dismissed the case. We have corrected this and regret the error.

(Read more here.)

Scrambled Brains: Did Football Kill Junior Seau?

Was Junior Seau’s suicide linked to head trauma he suffered while playing football?

A team of pathologists who did not know whose brain tissue they were examining came to the unanimous conclusion that Junior Seau suffered a debilitating brain disease that is caused by repeated trauma to the head.

Professional football players have filed suit against the NFL for withholding information from them about the dangers of brain trauma that go with their sport. They are also alleging that the NFL not only didn’t give them full information about the risks, it gave them inaccurate information that minimized the potential dangers.

In truth, I doubt if many young men would be persuaded by accurate information if it was given to them. Young people have a distorted sense of their own invulnerability. They think that bad things are going to happen to the other person. I would imagine that the sort of young man who ends up with an offer to play professional football would be turned this way even more than most young people.

Most of them have built their lives around this one thing since they were boys. They have become inured to nonsense like “you’ve got to know the difference between pain and injury” as a mantra for living their lives. They’ve been marinating in a frothy broth of unearned adulation and unwarranted abuse, along with extreme team allegiance, since they were children.

Add to that the fact that most of them grew up poor and they are finally going to see a really big pay day after years of enriching everybody else while they played college ball, and you’ve got a powerful set of incentives to sign on the line and ignore the risks.

So, would informed consent actually make players less likely to put their cognition at risk? I doubt it.

What might make a difference is rule changes within the leagues to limit some of these damaging hits. I know that I’m talking about the holy grail here. I am surrounded by football watching men at my house. The smashing sound of helmets crashing into one another is part of the excitement of the sport.

But I ask you, would it be as entertaining if you knew — knew — that these sounds signified that the people you were watching were injuring their brains in such a way that they would lose decades of useful living?

One reason I’m not too crazy about football is that I’ve always known that these hits were doing permanent injury to these men’s brains. I’m not a scientist. But I read.

Football players may be tough, but their brains are the same delicate toothpaste as yours and mine. Running full tilt and headfirst into a 250 lb human behemoth who is running headfirst and full tilt straight at you can give you quite a lick. It jostles, swishes and pounds the brains of both players.

These men take these hits for years, sometimes decades, beginning with most of them when they are adolescents. Each hit piles damage on top of previous damage until it becomes a syndrome that progresses on its own.

What is life worth?

More to the point, what are other people’s lives worth?

The young men who sign these contracts are conditioned by training and temperament to take stupid risks with themselves. But it doesn’t track that we should find watching them damage themselves entertaining.

I don’t believe that we we do. I don’t believe that’s why people watch football at all.

Football is high drama. It’s got intensity, violence, struggle and skill all wrapped up in one package. In a good game, you don’t know how it’s going to come down until the last second on the clock expires. I think that the dramatic quality is what keeps people wrapped up in these games, not the sound of men bashing their heads against one another. The drama of football is why people spend their weekends fixated on their televisions, watching the play. I don’t think they watch to see people damaged for life.

We invest ourselves emotionally in these teams. We enjoy rehashing the plays at work the next day. We also enjoy taking vicarious pleasure in the brute force that the men who play can bring to bear. These guys exhibit the height of male physicality and power. They are examples of what testosterone can do.

Football is a blood sport. But it’s not a death sport. Nobody has to die for our entertainment. Not on the field and not ten years later of a suicide due to the traumatized and diseased brain of an athlete whose walk off the field was cut short by what the play did to him.

When people lose their cognitive abilities at young ages, when they stumble and slur their words and don’t recognize their children, the price of our entertainment is too high. It’s not a question of whether young men are wise enough not to sign. It’s a question of whether or not we are responsible enough not to watch.

I’m not suggesting that you give up football. What I am suggesting is that you write the NFL and let them know that player safety has to be part of the sport for it to be a sport.

Big money is the fuel that powers this engine, and that big money comes from all of us, sitting on our sofas and providing the audiences. We have the power. Let’s use it.

You can write the NFL here.

 

This is a link to a YouTube video of an ABC News report about this issue and an excerpt of an NBC News article about it.

YouTube Preview Image

By JIM AVILA (@JimAvilaABC) , LAUREN PEARLE and RUSSELL GOLDMAN (@GoldmanRussell)

Jan. 10, 2013

A team of scientists who analyzed the brain tissue of renowned NFL linebacker Junior Seau after his suicide last year have concluded the football player suffered a debilitating brain disease likely caused by two decades worth of hits to the head, researchers and his family exclusively told ABC News and ESPN.

In May, Seau, 43 — football’s monster in the middle, a perennial all-star and defensive icon in the 1990s whose passionate hits made him a dominant figure in the NFL — shot himself in the chest at his home in Oceanside, Calif., leaving behind four children and many unanswered questions.

Seau’s family donated his brain to neuroscientists at the National Institutes for Health who are conducting ongoing research on traumatic brain injury and football players.

A team of independent researchers who did not know they were studying Seau’s brain all concluded he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative disease typically caused by multiple hits to the head.

“What was found in Junior Seau’s brain was cellular changes consistent with CTE,” said Dr. Russell Lonser, chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery at Ohio State University, who led the study of Seau’s brain while he was at NIH.

Patients with CTE, which can only be diagnosed after death, display symptoms “such as impulsivity, forgetfulness, depression, [and] sometimes suicidal ideation,” Lonser said.
(Read more here.)

Robert Ballard Claims He’s Found Evidence for Noah’s Flood

The guy who found the Titanic wants to find Noah’s flood.

Stories about Robert Ballard’s search for proof of the Biblical flood that put Noah in his ark were all the rage back in early December.

I ignored them then because I had other things on my mind. The reason I got interested now is that I’ve just finished reading the Noah and his flood story in the Bible.

I try to read through the Bible on a regular basis. I’ve looked at those “read through the Bible” reading schedules that you find on various websites and even in the backs of some Bibles themselves. But that is way too complicated for me.

I usually pick up a Bible and just start reading at the first and keep going until I read “May the spirit of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.” I change the translation almost every time I read. I find it interesting to compare the way the different translations handle the text. This year, I’m reading one of those one year Bibles called My Daily Catholic Bible.

I read about Sodom and Gomorrah last night, and a few days before that, I re-read the story of Noah and his ark. That made Robert Ballard’s new quest to find the flood swim into focus for me.

Mr Ballard theorizes that the flood resulted from a confluence of events. The main event he points to is the sudden release of huge amounts of water when the ice melted at the end of the last ice age.

It’s difficult for us today to imagine what the world was like during the ice age. Huge parts of what we now know as temperate areas were under hundreds of feet of ice. The way things usually happen in nature is that there is a trickle and then a gush and finally things just give way suddenly in a flood or an explosion or a collapse. Fires smolder, volcanoes smoke and floods send off rivulets. Then, they burst through in a conflagration or flood.

Mr Ballard is basing his flood theory on this kind of sudden giving away, coupled with topography that led to a huge rise of waters in one area of the world. This was a flood where, in his words, “the waters came up and stayed up.”

He thinks he’s found such an area. He’s used underwater exploration to find a lost civilization from that time which he says underscores his theory.

It’s a tantalizing idea.

Is he right?

All I can say is that Robert Ballard’s track record requires us to consider what he says and think about it. He’s done the undoable and found the unfindable too many times to ignore him out of hand.

An ABC News article about Robert Ballard’s search for Noah’s flood reads in part:

Evidence Noah’s Biblical Flood

Happened,Says Robert Ballard

This ark, located an hour south of Amsterdam, is a replica of Noah’s Biblical boat. Underwater archaeologist Robert Ballard is in Turkey, looking for evidence that the Great Flood happened. (ABC News)

ABC News By JENNA MILLMAN, BRYAN TAYLOR and LAUREN EFFRON (@LEffron831)

The story of Noah’s Ark and the Great Flood is one of the most famous from the Bible, and now an acclaimed underwater archaeologist thinks he has found proof that the biblical flood was actually based on real events.

In an interview with Christiane Amanpour for ABC News, Robert Ballard, one of the world’s best-known underwater archaeologists, talked about his findings. His team is probing the depths of the Black Sea off the coast of Turkey in search of traces of an ancient civilization hidden underwater since the time of Noah.

Ballard’s track record for finding the impossible is well known. In 1985, using a robotic submersible equipped with remote-controlled cameras, Ballard and his crew hunted down the world’s most famous shipwreck, the Titanic.

Now Ballard is using even more advanced robotic technology to travel farther back in time. He is on a marine archeological mission that might support the story of Noah. He said some 12,000 years ago, much of the world was covered in ice.

“Where I live in Connecticut was ice a mile above my house, all the way back to the North Pole, about 15 million kilometers, that’s a big ice cube,” he said. “But then it started to melt. We’re talking about the floods of our living history.”

The water from the melting glaciers began to rush toward the world’s oceans, Ballard said, causing floods all around the world.

“The questions is, was there a mother of all floods,” Ballard said.

(Read more here.)

Hundreds of Thousands Expected at Paris Rally for Marriage

Paris, France, Jan 9, 2013 / 04:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Supporters of traditional marriage expect hundreds of thousands of marchers to turn out for an upcoming national rally in opposition to President Francois Hollande’s “marriage for all” proposal.

Set to go before France’s parliament Jan. 29, the draft law proposes to redefine marriage as a union “contracted between two persons of different sex or of the same sex.”

The law would also allow “married” same-sex couples to adopt children while also replacing gender definitive titles such as “Mother” or “Father” with “Parent 1” and “Parent 2.”

Some opponents of the proposal say doing so would strip society of sexual differences and would create framework for a “new anthropological order” based on sexual preference rather than unique “sexual otherness.” Opponents also say the move would deny children the biological right of having a mother and father, and that the proposal should have been presented as a referendum to the people.

“La Manif Pour Tous” or “March For All,” a demonstration organized by French satirist Frigide Barjot – whose real name is Virginie Télenne – drew tens of thousands of supporters in the regional demonstrations held throughout France in November and December.

A modest estimate for the first national rally to be held Jan. 13 is projected to draw some 350,000 supporters, one of the organizers, Lionel Lumbroso, told CNA Jan. 4.

“The bigger we are, the more difficult it will be for the government to ignore us,” he said.

Although the “vast majority of the base is Catholic” and founder Frigide Barjot is a Catholic re-convert, Lumbroso said that the movement represents a much greater diversity of the French people because people of different faiths and political beliefs are coming together for a common goal. (Read more here.)

If Church Teaching on Marriage Interests You, Here It Is

I try as much as possible to give you the chance to read original sources. This summary of Church teachings on marriage is not an original source.

However, it is from the USCCB web site. That means it is authoritative teaching, coming as it does from our bishops.

I am going to put the whole article here rather than try to excerpt it or interpret it. Have a read and think it through for yourselves. To see the original article or to find more resources, go to the USCCB website here.

Between Man And Woman:

Questions And Answers About

Marriage And Same-Sex Unions

Introduction

A growing movement today favors making those relationships commonly called same-sex unions the legal equivalent of marriage. This situation challenges Catholics—and all who seek the truth—to think deeply about the meaning of marriage, its purposes, and its value to individuals, families, and society. This kind of reflection, using reason and faith, is an appropriate starting point and framework for the current debate.

We, the Catholic bishops of the United States, offer here some basic truths to assist people in understanding Catholic teaching about marriage and to enable them to promote marriage and its sacredness.

1. What is marriage?

Marriage, as instituted by God, is a faithful, exclusive, lifelong union of a man and a woman joined in an intimate community of life and love. They commit themselves completely to each other and to the wondrous responsibility of bringing children into the world and caring for them. The call to marriage is woven deeply into the human spirit. Man and woman are equal. However, as created, they are different from but made for each other. This complementarity, including sexual difference, draws them together in a mutually loving union that should be always open to the procreation of children (seeCatechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], nos. 1602-1605). These truths about marriageare present in the order ofnature and can be perceived by the light of human reason. They have been confirmed by divine Revelation in Sacred Scripture.

2. What does our faith tell us about marriage?

Marriage comes from the loving hand of God, who fashioned both male and female in the divine image (see Gn 1:27).  A man “leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body” (Gn 2:24). The man recognizes the woman as “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Gn 2:23). God blesses the man and woman and commands them to “be fertile and multiply” (Gn 1:28). Jesus reiterates these teachings from Genesis, saying, “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother [and be joined to his wife], and the two shall become one flesh’” (Mk 10:6-8).

These biblical passages help us to appreciate God’s plan for marriage. It is an intimate union in which the spouses give themselves, as equal persons, completely and lovingly to one another. By their mutual gift of self, they cooperate with God in bringing children to life and in caring for them.

Marriage is both a natural institution and a sacred union because it is rooted in the divine plan for creation. In addition, the Church teaches that the valid marriage of baptized Christians is a sacrament—a saving reality. Jesus Christ made marriage a symbol of his love for his Church (see Eph 5:25-33). This means that a sacramental marriage lets the world see, in human terms, something of the faithful, creative, abundant, and self-emptying love of Christ. A true marriage in the Lord with his grace will bring the spouses to holiness. Their love, manifested in fidelity, passion, fertility, generosity, sacrifice, forgiveness, and healing, makes known God’s love in their family, communities, and society. This Christian meaning confirms and strengthens the human value of a marital union (see CCC, nos. 1612-1617; 1641-1642).

3. Why can marriage exist only between a man and a woman?

The natural structure of human sexuality makes man and woman complementary partners for the transmission of human life. Only a union of male and female can express the sexual complementarity willed by God for marriage. The permanent and exclusive commitment of marriage is the necessary context for the expression of sexual love intended by God both to serve the transmission of human life and to build up the bond between husband and wife (see CCC, nos. 1639-1640).

In marriage, husband and wife give themselves totally to each other in their masculinity and femininity (see CCC, no. 1643). They are equal as human beings but different as man and woman, fulfilling each other through this natural difference. This unique complementarity makes possible the conjugal bond that is the core of marriage.

4. Why is a same-sex union not equivalent to a marriage?

For several reasons a same-sex union contradicts the nature of marriage: It is notbased on the natural complementarity of male and female;it cannot cooperate with Godto create new life; and the natural purpose of sexual union cannot be achieved by asame-sex union. Persons in same-sex unions cannot enter into a true conjugal union. Therefore, it is wrong to equate their relationship to a marriage.

5. Why is it so important to society that marriage be preserved as the exclusive union of a man and a woman?

Across times, cultures, and very different religious beliefs, marriage is the foundation of the family. The family, in turn, is the basic unit of society. Thus, marriage is a personal relationship with public significance. Marriage is the fundamental pattern for male-female relationships. It contributes to society because it models the way in which women and men live interdependently and commit, for the whole of life, to seek the good of each other.

The marital union also provides the best conditions for raising children: namely, the stable, loving relationship of a mother and father present only in marriage. The state rightly recognizes this relationship as a public institution in its laws because the relationship makes a unique and essential contribution to the common good.

Laws play an educational role insofar as they shape patterns of thought and behavior, particularly about what is socially permissible and acceptable. In effect, giving same-sex unions the legal status of marriage would grant official public approval to homosexual activity and would treat it as if it were morally neutral.

When marriage is redefined so as to make other relationships equivalent to it, the institution ofmarriage is devalued and further weakened. The weakening of this basic institution at all levels and by various forces has already exacted too high a social cost.

6. Does denying marriage to homosexual persons demonstrate unjust discrimination and a lack of respect for them as persons?

It is not unjust to deny legal status to same-sex unions because marriage and same-sex unions are essentially different realities. In fact, justice requires society to do so. To uphold God’s intent for marriage, in which sexual relations have their proper and exclusive place, is not to offend the dignity of homosexual persons. Christians must give witness to the whole moral truth and oppose as immoral both homosexual acts and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons. The Catechism of the Catholic Church urges that homosexual persons “be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity” (no. 2358). It also encourages chaste friendships. “Chastity is expressed notably in friendship with one’s neighbor. Whether it develops between persons of the same or opposite sex, friendship represents a great good for all” (no. 2347).

7. Should persons who live in same-sex relationships be entitled to some of the same social and economic benefits given to married couples?

The state has an obligation to promote the family, which is rooted in marriage. Therefore, it can justly give married couples rights and benefits it does not extend to others. Ultimately, the stability and flourishing of society is dependent on the stability and flourishing of healthy family life. The legal recognition of marriage, including the benefits associated with it, is not only about personal commitment, but also about the social commitment that husband and wife make to the well-being of society. It would be wrong to redefine marriage for the sake of providing benefits to those who cannot rightfully enter into marriage. Some benefits currently sought by persons in homosexual unions can already be obtained without regard to marital status. For example, individuals can agree to own property jointly with another, and they can generally designate anyone they choose to be a beneficiary of their will or to make health care decisions in case they become incompetent.

8. In light of the Church’s teaching about the truth and beauty of marriage, what should Catholics do?

There is to be no separation between one’s faith and life in either public or private realms. All Catholics should act on their beliefs with a well-formed conscience based on Sacred Scripture and Tradition. They should be a community of conscience within society. By their voice and their vote, they should contribute to society’s welfare and test its public life by the standards of right reason and Gospel truth. Responsible citizenship is a virtue. Participation in the political process is a moral obligation. This is particularly urgent in light of the need to defend marriage and to oppose the legalization of same-sex unions as marriages. Married couples themselves, by the witness of their faithful, life-giving love, are the best advocates for marriage. By their example, they are the first teachers of the next generation about the dignity of marriage and the need to uphold it. As leaders of their family—which the Second Vatican Council called a “domestic church” (

Lumen Gentium, no. 11)—couples should bring their gifts as well as their needs to the larger Church. There, with the help of other couples and their pastors and collaborators, they can strengthen their commitment and sustain their sacrament over a lifetime.

Conclusion

Marriage is a basic human and social institution. Though it is regulated by civil laws and church laws, it did not originate from either the church or state, but from God. Therefore, neither church nor state can alter the basic meaning and structure of marriage. Marriage, whose nature and purposes are established by God, can only be the union of a man and a woman and must remain such in law. In a manner unlike any other relationship, marriage makes a unique and irreplaceable contribution to the common good of society, especially through the procreation and education of children. The union of husband and wife becomes, over a lifetime

, a great good for themselves, their family, communities, and society. Marriage is a gift to be cherished and protected.For Further Reading

Second Vatican Council. Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World(Gaudium et Spes), nos. 47-52. December 1965. Available online at www.vatican.va.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 369-373, nos. 1601-1666, and nos. 2331-2400. Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops–Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2000.

Pope John Paul II. On the Family (Familiaris Consortio). Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1982.

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons. July 2003. Available online at www.vatican.va.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Follow the Way of Love: A Pastoral Message of the U.S. Catholic Bishops to Families. Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1993.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility. Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2003.


Between Man and Woman: Questions and Answers About Marriage and Same-Sex Unions was developed by the Committee on Marriage and Family Life of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). It was approved for publication by the full body of bishops at their November 2003 General Meeting and has been authorized for publication by the undersigned.

Msgr. William P. Fay
General Secretary, USCCB

Scripture texts used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, copyright © 1991, 1986, and 1970 by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. 20017, and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All rights reserved.

Excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, second edition, copyright © 2000, Libreria Editrice Vaticana-United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc., Washington, D.C., are used with permission. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2003, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc., Washington, D.C. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

Fiscal Cliff Bill Will Shrink Your Paycheck

Your take home pay will be a bit less, thanks to the “Fiscal Cliff” bill that Congress passed at the first of the year.

The reason is that the reduction in Social Security taxes which Congress passed at the request of President Obama has expired. This reduction was part of the stimulus package used to keep the country from going into an economic free-fall after the housing crash and resultant lending crisis of 2008.

I’m certain that some of my Republican readers will chide me for saying this. According to them, when I criticize the Obama administration, I’m a statesman. When I criticize the Republicans, I’m a biased Democrat.

However, it is a plain fact that I never benefitted in my paycheck from any of the huge tax cuts that President Bush passed during his presidency. My take home pay did not go up. My taxes did not drop.

On the other hand, the tax cuts President Obama enacted raised my take home pay about $100/month.

I am not a subscriber to “trickle down” economics. The reason I am not is that the money doesn’t trickle down. Or if it does, it doesn’t trickle far enough to get down to me and any of the people I represent.

We’ll talk more about this later. For now, I want to draw your attention to an article from the Baptist Press which outlines some the effects that the “Fiscal Cliff” deal had on deductions for charitable giving. I’ve bolded the section which talks about social security to make it easier for you to find.

The article reads in part:

The ‘fiscal cliff’ bill & charitable giving
 

Posted on Jan 8, 2013 | by Warren Peek/Southern Baptist Foundation

NASHVILLE (BP) — After weeks of political drama, the U.S. has averted or at least delayed the so-called “fiscal cliff.”The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 has been signed into law by the president after passing both houses of Congress.

Don’t you love the names of these bills? Taxpayer “relief” means that about 77 percent of U.S. households will pay higher taxes according to Bloomberg, mostly because of the expiration of the payroll tax cut. While some provisions are still set to expire, several provisions have been made permanent.

Following is a brief summary of various provisions of the act that may impact charitable giving:

Income taxes 

The 2012 ordinary income tax rates remain intact for most taxpayers. For individuals with incomes over $400,000 and joint filers over $450,000, the federal income tax rate increased from 35 percent to 39.6 percent. The dividend and capital gains rates also increased from 15 percent to 20 percent for those filers as well. For most other taxpayers, however, the capital gains rate remains at 15 percent.

Phase-out of itemized deductions and personal exemptions 

For individuals earning above $250,000 and joint filers above $300,000, itemized deductions and personal exemptions are limited. Total itemized deductions are now reduced by 3 percent. This phase-out will be watched closely, as there is still pressure to cap or phase out all itemized deductions.

Payroll taxes

The reduction of the payroll tax in Social Security is now over. Social Security will now collect 2 percent more from our paychecks. An employee earning $113,700 (the maximum amount of earnings subject to the tax), will pay an additional $2,274 in payroll taxes this year. (Read more here.)


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