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By Katie Warner | Family Matters: Family Life | Our culture today often fights the distinctions between men and women, between the masculine head and the feminine heart of the family.

Contrary to certain secular opinions, husbands and wives and…

Catholic US News

Mother Teresa, and the Denver priest who was her kindred spirit

Denver, Colo., Sep 5, 2015 / 04:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Mother Teresa visited Denver, Colo. twice in the 1980s. Both times, one of her biggest fans was tasked with picking her up from the airport.

Father Charles B. Woodrich, affectionately known in the community as Father Woody, figured out a way to be assigned to the task for her first visit in 1986.

Longtime friend and parishioner, Dr. Victoria McCabe, recalled him making the announcement at Mass: “My hero is coming, and I get to pick her up and I’m so excited!”

After he made the announcement, parishioners started offering all kinds of help – a policeman offered some of his squad as an accompanying guard, and the owner of a limosuine service offered a fancy ride to pick up the internationally-known Catholic sister. Father Woody, who only owned an old, beat-up Ford, enthusiastically accepted the offer.

But the limo wasn’t Mother Teresa’s style. As the founder of the Missionaries of Charity who went to great lengths to make sure her sisters lived with poverty and simplicity, she politely but firmly declined the ride for herself and the sister accompanying her.

“He was leading her toward the (limo) and she stopped. And she put her hand up and said, ‘Oh Father, I cannot ride in a car like this. I am so sorry, but we cannot get in the car.’”

Baffled, Father Woody instead offered to ride in the police car with Mother and her sister, while the rest of the squad piled in the limo.

The next time she visited Denver, in 1989, Fr. Woody had learned his lesson.   

“One thing I know is she doesn’t want to ride in a limousine,” he said at the time.

That time, he decided to drive the Holy Ghost Sandwich Truck to fetch Mother Teresa. A man after Mother’s heart, Father Woody worked tirelessly to help the poor in and around his parish, and would use the sandwich truck to deliver sack lunches to people who were hungry.

But on the way back from the airport, the truck got a flat tire.

“Who has a flat tire when you’re carrying a saint?” McCabe recalled him saying.

It was the time before cell phones, so Father and the sisters had to wait for help to come. As soon as they broke down, Mother Teresa hopped out of the car with her sister and asked everyone to join her in the rosary. When that finished, help had not yet arrived, and Fr. Woody was worried that Mother might be getting tired, or hungry.

“And Mother said, ‘Oh Father, don’t worry,’ and he said she fished around in her pocket of her sari and brought out this cheese, this big beautiful cheese wound in a cloth and passed it around. He said it was the best cheese ever,” McCabe said, laughing.

That incident, McCabe said, is a perfect snapshot of the surrender Mother Teresa had to the will of God in every moment of her life.

“Oh, the tire’s flat? Well it’s ok, help will come, and we will pray,” McCabe said.

During her visits, one thing that impressed Fr. Woody so much about Mother Teresa were her hands.

“She was very humble, extremely humble, very serious, and boy when you shook her hand you knew you were shaking a hand! That woman’s grip!” McCabe said. “I mean, little tiny lady, with the hands of a large person! It’s a worker’s hand.”

Fr. Woody was able to snap some close-up photos of Mother Teresa’s hands during her visit, who likely reluctantly obliged, as she didn’t like having her picture taken.  

“He just said, ‘Look at those hands! Those are the hands of a worker! Then he would say, ‘Christ didn’t want any lazy people, and we have to follow her, we have to work.’”

And work he did.

In the spirit of Mother Teresa, Father Woody was renowned for his unquestioning generosity when helping people in need. In the record-settingly horrible Denver winter of 1982, Fr. Woody opened up the Church every night to let the homeless come inside to sleep.

“You’d hear the phone ring and you’d pick it up and hear: ‘Yeah, uh, Father Woody here, bring me some blankets and pillows,’ and then he’d hang up and call the next person,” McCabe said.

“And everybody just did it!” she said. “You’d get that call and you stop whatever you’re doing and do it.”

One time Fr. Woody called McCabe as she was taking exams, and asked for soup. When McCabe told him she was busy studying, Father’s reply was: “There are hungry people down here. Bring what you got.”

When Fr. Woody passed away very suddenly in 1991 at the age of 68, it was a painful shock to the Catholic community in Denver. Heartbroken, McCabe looked up where Mother Teresa was staying at the time, which was a hospital in California, and wrote out a 5-6 page letter to inform her of his passing.

“I got a letter back from her and she said, ‘I am so sorry to hear in Denver of the loss of the beloved Father Woody. But he’s with God now, he would not want you to be sorrowful.’”

“So she had about 4 handwritten sentences, but really what she said was stop blubbering and pick up the work. Do the work. It really got my attention because it was like: stop. There are people that need to be fed.”

Father Woody’s legacy lives on through a program called “Father Woody’s Service Projects” at Regis University in Denver, of which McCabe is the director. Among their projects are delivering meals to the poor and elderly, just as did Fr. Woody, and throwing Christmas parties for the poor every year.

The legacy of both Fr. Woody and Mother Teresa has been so lasting, McCabe said, because of their willingness to lead by example and practice what they preached, and because they were simple and practical in their mission.

McCabe said she will always remember that when a journalist asked Mother Teresa how she could ever solve a problem like homelessness, she replied: “Well, you just pick up the next one. No, you cannot pick up them all. You pick one up, you take them inside, you care, you wash, whether it’s a dying person or a child, and you go back out and pick up the next one.”

Father Woody had a similar philosophy, summarized by a quote that McCabe uses in a lot of her work at Regis University:  

“Just open your door and help people. You don’t even have to have a meeting about it!”

Catholic US News

Holy See expresses cautious support for UN development goals

Washington D.C., Sep 4, 2015 / 04:22 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Holy See on Tuesday expressed its “strong support” for the 2030 United Nations development agenda, but added it has “firm reservations” about some items in the agenda document.

“This Agenda is a clear sign that, in spite of differences in some areas, the international community has come together and affirmed its commitment to eradicate poverty in all its forms and dimensions and to ensure that all children, women and men throughout the world will have the conditions necessary to live in both freedom and dignity,” the Holy See’s delegation to the United Nations said in a Sept. 1 statement on the document.

They also have “firm reservations to certain items,” as stated in an accompanying Sept. 1 press release.

The United Nations’ new global development agenda sets broad, comprehensive goals for the next 15 years with the aims of fighting global poverty and hunger and human trafficking, and promoting sustainable energy, among other desired achievements. Funding for the goals is massive, estimated to require $5-7 trillion.

Titled “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” the agenda was first drafted in 2014 and the outcome document was finalized Aug. 2. That document will be adopted at the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Summit Sept. 25-27. Pope Francis will address the U.N. general assembly just before this summit begins.

Within these broad goals are specific targets to meet in order to achieve those goals. Progress toward these targets and goals will be measured by specific indicators which will be drafted after the agenda goes into effect in 2016.

“The Agenda rightly puts the centrality of the human person as the subject primarily responsible for development,” the Holy See stated, adding that they are “confident that the related pledge ‘no one will be left behind’ will serve as the perspective through which the entire Agenda will be read to protect the right to life of the person, from conception until natural death.”

However, the Holy See expressed “reservations” about two targets in particular, targets 3.7 and 5.6. Pro-life advocates have already warned that language in these targets could be interpreted to promote abortion access worldwide.

Target 3.7 states, “By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes.”

Target 5.6 states, “Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences.”

Veteran U.N. watchdogs have already warned that language in these targets will be interpreted to include abortion access by wealthy donors, who will have the final word when the goals are implemented.

Language of “sexual and reproductive health” has been interpreted to include abortion access by many Western countries and U.N. agencies, one former U.N. diplomat who partook in many negotiations about sexual and reproductive health language told CNA in June.

Furthermore, donors from these countries and from the U.N. could then use the prospect of development funding to pressure poorer countries to liberalize their abortion laws, the former diplomat added.

Even though Target 5.6 does cite previous U.N. documents respecting national laws on abortion – the “Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action” – donors can still withhold development funding so as to pressure pro-life countries to change their abortion laws.

“To most of the world, especially the developing world, the U.S. is like a life-or-death situation for them,” Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) had told CNA in an August interview. “If they have refugees, they need refugee money. And to the developing world, the U.N. is almost like another government, if not a major government, for them.”

Western politicians have acknowledged that the language includes abortion access, such as the head of Canada’s permanent mission to the U.N., who in 2001 admitted that “services” for “reproductive health care” included abortion access. In 2009, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Smith that the U.S. definition of “reproductive health” included abortion access.

Ultimately, the Holy See said it does not interpret this language to include abortion access, stating that it “does not consider abortion or access to abortion or abortifacients as a dimension of these terms.”

Rather, it interprets them “as applying to a holistic concept of health, which embrace, each in their own way, the person in the entirety of his or her personality, mind and body, and which foster the achievement of personal maturity in sexuality and in the mutual love and decision-making that characterize the conjugal-relationship between a man and a woman in accordance with moral norms.”

Marie Smith, who had served as a U.N. observer for the Holy See, has explained to CNA how controversial the development agenda has been.

Over 20 countries objected to the proposed agenda in 2014, she said, and when the outcome document was finalized on Aug. 2, there was still opposition to the language in question and “there still are broad differences” about it, she told CNA.

The Holy See also expressed its reservations about other items in the document.

Regarding contraception and other family planning terms, they reiterated their “well-known position concerning those family-planning methods which the Catholic Church considers morally acceptable and, on the other hand, family-planning services which do not respect the liberty of the spouses, human dignity and the human rights of those concerned.”

Regarding the term “gender”, the Holy See stated that it “understands the term to be grounded in the biological sexual identity that is male or female.”

In reference to sexual education mentioned in the document, the Holy See re-affirmed “the ‘primary responsibility’ and the ‘prior rights’ of parents, including their right to religious freedom, when it comes to the education and upbringing of their children, as enshrined, inter alia, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

Catholic World News

Five federal judges rebuke court: don’t tell the Little Sisters how to be Catholic

Denver, Colo., Sep 4, 2015 / 03:38 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In an unusual move, five federal judges have said their court should have given greater attention to the Little Sisters of the Poor’s religious freedom lawsuit against an Obama administration mandate that requires them to violate their Catholic beliefs, or face heavy fines.

“When a law demands that a person do something the person considers sinful, and the penalty for refusal is a large financial penalty, then the law imposes a substantial burden on that person’s free exercise of religion,” five judges with the Denver-based Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals said in a Sept. 3 dissent.

The judges said their court’s earlier panel ruling against the sisters is “clearly and gravely wrong – on an issue that has little to do with contraception and a great deal to do with religious liberty.”

On July 14 a majority of the three-judge panel had ruled against the sisters. The sisters had filed a lawsuit challenging the mandate which requires employers to offer health insurance plans covering contraception, sterilization, and some drugs that can cause early abortions.

Employers who fail to comply with the mandate face crippling penalties. In the case of the Little Sisters, the fines could amount to around $2.5 million a year, or about 40 percent of the $6 million the Sisters receive each year in order to run their ministry.

The court panel said that the 2014 Supreme Court decision protecting Hobby Lobby and other objecting companies from the mandate did not apply in the Little Sisters’ case. The panel said the 2014 decision was based on the lack of a religious accommodation for for-profit companies, and argued that the Little Sisters should take advantage of the religious accommodation the Obama administration had granted to non-profit employers.

The sisters have insisted the accommodation is insufficient, and they responded to the court panel’s decision with an appeal to the Supreme Court.

On its own initiative, the Tenth Circuit voted on whether the entire court of 12 judges should re-hear the case. The court on Sept. 3 still voted against a re-hearing, prompting the five judges to write their dissent.

Mark Renzi, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and lead counsel for the Little Sisters of the Poor, welcomed the action.

“These judges understand that courts and bureaucrats should not be telling nuns what the Catholic faith requires,” Renzi said Sept. 4. He said the five judges’ opinion offered “important support” for the Little Sisters’ appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Becket Fund characterized the five judges’ action as “almost unprecedented.”

The sisters are among several hundred plaintiffs who have challenged the federal contraception mandate, including several Catholic dioceses, Catholic Charities affiliates, universities, and the EWTN Global Catholic Network.

The Little Sisters of the Poor do not qualify for a full religious exemption to the mandate because they are not affiliated with a particular house of worship.

The federal government’s putative accommodation means that faith-based employers can sign paperwork to pass the burden of providing the objectionable coverage to insurers, who must then offer it directly to employees without cost.

The Little Sisters obtain their health coverage from Catholic organizations, Christian Brothers Services, and Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust. They have said the alleged accommodation still requires them and their Catholic partners to cooperate in providing drugs and procedures whose use Catholic teaching recognizes as sinful.

The five judges said the panel majority refused to acknowledge the religious sisters’ belief that it would be sinful to use the accommodation. Rather, the panel “reframes their belief.”

The dissenting judges objected: “it is not the job of the judiciary to tell people what their religious beliefs are.”

Other parties to the sisters’ lawsuit include the Christian Brothers benefits provider and the Baptist ministries GuideStone, Reaching Souls, and Truett-McConnell College.

Sister Loraine Marie Maguire, mother provincial of the Little Sisters of the Poor, said the religious women “dedicate our lives to serving the neediest in society, with love and dignity.”

“We perform this loving ministry because of our faith and simply cannot choose between our care for the elderly poor and our faith, and we shouldn’t have to,” she said July 23. “We hope the Supreme Court will hear our case and ensure that people from diverse faiths can freely follow God’s calling in their lives.”

The Little Sisters of the Poor have cared for the elderly poor and dying around the world for 175 years.

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