Posts Tagged ‘US’

For terminally-ill seminarian, a life with suffering is not void of dignity

Raleigh, N.C., Oct 24, 2014 / 05:53 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A seminarian is looking forward to his ordination to the diaconate this spring and the priesthood a year later, even though he was given roughly a year and a half to live back in 2008.


Two flawed candidates? Catholics mull over voting options

Providence, R.I., Oct 24, 2014 / 01:55 pm (CNA).- In an election where all political candidates hold problematic positions, Catholic voters may choose “the lesser of two evils,” cast a protest vote, or simply not vote, one U.S. bishop has advised, with pro-life groups calling for prudence in making this decision.

“It’s a real problem that many faithful Catholics face these days – how to vote when all of the candidates are pro-abortion,” Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence, R.I., acknowledged in an Oct. 16 column for The Rhode Island Catholic, his diocese’s official publication.

“I know, it’s a tough time to be a moral, pro-life voter. The field is narrow and the options are few. But, vote according to your conscience, pray for our state and nation, and sleep well. Remember, God’s still in charge!”

Bishop Tobin presented the three voting options as an answer to a member of the diocese who revealed that the candidate for whom she had intended to vote supported both abortion and same-sex “marriage.”

“I responded to my letter-writer that it wasn’t appropriate for me to suggest candidates for whom she should or shouldn’t vote, but that it was important for her to become well-informed about the candidates and their positions, pray about it, and then vote according to her conscience,” the bishop wrote, adding the importance of the virtue of prudence.

In such a scenario, “when no candidate presents an acceptable position, especially about critical moral issues like abortion,” one of three options would be, Bishop Tobin said, “to choose the candidate who, in traditional terms, is the lesser of two evils.”

Alternatively, a voter could cast a “protest” vote by choosing to “write-in the name of someone who represents pro-life values … Even though this person surely wouldn’t be elected to office, a vote in that direction would send a clear signal that at least some voters won’t settle for anything less than a pro-life candidate. Contrary to what critics will charge, it’s not a wasted vote; it’s a sincere expression of conscience that upholds moral truth. And that’s never a waste!”

Another legitimate option, Bishop Tobin said, is that a citizen “might well decide to skip this year’s election and not vote at all, or at least not vote for a particular office.”

“Although Catholics have a general moral obligation to participate in the life of our nation, there are many ways to do that, and there’s certainly no obligation to vote in each and every election, particularly when the options are repugnant to the well-informed conscientious Christian voter.”

In Rhode Island’s gubernatorial race, both the Democratic candidate, Gina Raimondo, and the Republican candidate, Allan Fung, support legal abortion. However, pro-life groups pointed out that the candidates differ on a number of policy points.

For instance, Fung opposes both taxpayer funding of abortions and late-term abortions, and supported the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby religious freedom decision. Raimondo was endorsed by Planned Parenthood, and opposed the Hobby Lobby decision.

Joshua Mercer of suggested that citizens follow Bishop Tobin’s first or second scenario – participate in the election, either to send a “protest vote” or to elect the candidate who one thinks will do the least amount of harm.

Mercer advised against the idea that one might choose not to vote for a particular office, saying to CNA that “staying at home doesn’t do any good at all,” and, “I still think every Catholic has an obligation to vote, because you’ve got to communicate some way that this is what it should be like.”

He did add that “a protest vote is definitely an option. And it’s one that Catholics in good conscience should consider (in some) circumstances, precisely because you have a very flawed candidate and then a very horrible candidate.”

“When pro-lifers are in a distinct minority, you have to make very difficult choices.”

“It would be wonderful to have both political parties fighting over each other to see which one is more pro-life,” Mercer commented.

“Unfortunately, we’re not faced with that situation. There is going to be a governor sworn into office in January of next year for Rhode Island. The question is, will that governor support taxpayer funding of abortion or not?”

Rhode Island Right to Life, meanwhile, urged citizens to follow Bishop Tobin’s first voting option: to vote for the candidate who will do the least amount of harm.

The group has drawn attention for their endorsement of Fung for governor, despite the pro-abortion elements of his record.

In September, Bishop Tobin responded to the group’s decision by telling GoLocalProv, “I know that RI Right to Life approaches these issues very carefully, and I can only presume that they have more information about Mayor Fung’s position than I do. I won’t second guess their endorsement.”

He added, however: “Personally, though, I can’t vote for any candidate for any office, who claims to be pro-choice, which to me translates to being pro-abortion.”

Rhode Island Right to Life spokesman Barth Bracy explained that Fung still matches up with the group on a number of legislative issues such as supporting both “incremental pro-life legislation” and a health care plan option in the state’s insurance exchange that doesn’t cover abortion.

Currently the state’s insurance exchange offers only health plans covering abortion. The current plans include an abortion surcharge which forces all participants in the exchange to pay separately for abortion coverage, raising conscience concerns, Bracy maintained. Fung has promised to support an alternative plan on the exchange “that does not provide abortion coverage, except in the circumstances of rape, incest, or to protect the life of a woman.”
“So essentially every single issue that we’ve got pending before the General Assembly that we’re trying to pass, he supports. And every single issue before the General Assembly that Planned Parenthood is trying to pass, he opposes,” Bracy told CNA.

“We would love to have perfect candidates in every race, but when that doesn’t happen, you have to choose between who is running. And when you have on the one hand one candidate that will support every single one of the initiatives that you can reasonably foresee raising over the next four years, and on the other hand you have a candidate who is the most extreme abortion advocate we have ever seen, it’s a pretty clear decision.”

“If Gina Raimondo, the Planned Parenthood candidate, wins, we’re going to lose a lot of legislative battles over the next four years, plain and simple. If Allen Fung wins, we’re going to win a lot of legislative battles over the next four years. So lives are at stake, conscience is at stake.”

Ebola survivor Nina Pham: I believe in the power of prayer

Washington D.C., Oct 24, 2014 / 12:08 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Nina Pham, a Dallas nurse who has been battling Ebola after treating a patient in Texas, has now been declared free of the disease, and gave thanks to God and all those who have prayed for her …

Archbishop Chaput rejects ‘false’ media reports on synod comments

Philadelphia, Pa., Oct 24, 2014 / 08:38 am (CNA).- Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia rejected claims that he had harshly criticized the Vatican or the recent synod, saying that he had instead been cautioning against a public image of the synod created by media reports that distort the truth.

“That’s simply false,” Archbishop Chaput told CNA Oct. 24 about claims that he had “blasted” the recent Synod on the Family.

“The synod isn’t mentioned in my formal remarks, and what I said in answer to a question from the audience about the synod is easily available, in full, online. People can see or read for themselves.”  

Archbishop Chaput’s comments followed a report by David Gibson of Religion News Service covering the archbishop’s Oct. 20 delivery of the 2014 Erasmus Lecture, hosted by the interreligious journal First Things.

The lecture itself did not involve the synod, but focused on the role of religious believers in modern America.

After the lecture, an attendee asked Archbishop Chaput about the Synod on the Family, a global gathering of bishops that recently concluded in Rome, and the archbishop replied:

“Well, first of all, I wasn’t there. That’s very significant, because to claim you know what really happened when you weren’t there is foolish. To get your information from the press is a mistake because they don’t know well enough how to understand it so they can tell people what happened. I don’t think the press deliberately distorts, they just don’t have any background to be able to evaluate things. In some cases they’re certainly the enemy and they want to distort the Church.”

“Now, having said all that, I was very disturbed by what happened. I think confusion is of the devil, and I think the public image that came across was of confusion. Now, I don’t think that was the real thing there,” he said, adding that he is eager to hear from the U.S. bishops who were present at the event.

“I want to hear from them. Then you can ask me the question and I can give you a better answer,” he said.

The archbishop then went on to say that “the Church has a clear position” on matters of marriage and communion, adding, “I’m not fundamentally worried because I believe the Holy Spirit guides the Church.”

In his reporting for Religion News Service, Gibson omitted the archbishop’s qualifying remarks about not presuming to know what really happened at the synod that he had not attended. He also omitted the archbishop’s comment that while confusion was the public image presented in the media, he did not think “that was the real thing” at the synod.

Gibson quoted Archbishop Chaput as saying, “I was very disturbed by what happened. I think confusion is of the devil, and I think the public image that came across was one of confusion.” He then moved on to other parts of the archbishop’s remarks.

The Religion News Service article was picked up by several other publications. Michael Sean Winters, a blogger for the National Catholic Reporter, pointed to Gibson’s article to argue that Archbishop Chaput was challenging Pope Francis, “criticizing the process of synodality,” and pushing an “agenda.”

Archbishop Chaput reiterated to CNA that when he had spoken of confusion being from the devil, he was not referring to the Vatican or the synod debates themselves, but to the way that the proceedings had been presented.

“The news media, sometimes innocently and sometimes not, distort the public image of the Church and her efforts. That creates confusion, including confusion in public perceptions of the synod, and there’s nothing Godly about that,” he said.

He lamented a sense of “infallibility” among some parts of the press, adding that “the worst offenders refuse to acknowledge their own mistakes and prejudices.”
Matthew Schmitz, deputy editor of First Things magazine, responded to Gibson’s article in an Oct. 23 blog post. He included both the video and written transcript of the archbishop’s comments.

Gibson’s article portrayed the archbishop as critical of the synod itself, Schmitz stressed, while “(i)n fact, Chaput denounced its public image while saying he would need to hear more from his brother bishops who actually attended before forming a firm opinion.”

Kenneth Gavin, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, also voiced “grave concerns” about Gibson’s article, particularly its headline, which initially read, “Archbishop Chaput Blasts Vatican Debate on Family, says ‘Confusion is of the Devil’.”

After the archdiocese contacted Religion News Service, the headline was changed to, “Archbishop Chaput ‘disturbed’ by Synod Debate, Says ‘Confusion is of the Devil’.”

Both of these headlines, however, inaccurately present Archbishop Chaput as being critical of the Vatican and the synod, Gavin said, when in reality, the archbishop was simply criticizing “those who used the draft report from the Synod out of context to reinforce their own opinions and agendas.”

Additionally, Gavin said, the focus that Gibson’s article places on the comments could lead the casual reader “to believe that the Archbishop’s talk was all about the Synod,” when his comments were actually in response to an audience question, and his lecture was not about the synod at all.

“The RNS piece that was published just isn’t an accurate reflection of reality. It mischaracterizes both Archbishop Chaput and what he said,” Gavin said. “The story has been picked up by secular and religious media at the national level and it has created a false and misleading image. That’s problematic and unfair. People have a right to the truth. Media have an obligation to present it.”

Is a ‘vocation of friendship’ key to gay ministry in the Church?

Washington D.C., Oct 24, 2014 / 04:51 am (CNA).- Recovering an understanding of friendship as a vocation could be a way for the Church to help ease spiritual problems of isolation, especially for those who are gay, said one Catholic author who is both …

Pregnancy centers, not politics – the future of the pro-life movement

Front Royal, Va., Oct 24, 2014 / 02:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Amid the chilling dark chaos of a woman’s unwanted and unexpected pregnancy, a group of pro-life Catholics try to be a light to both the mother and the unborn child.

Their mission is in an unassuming plot in a modest town well outside the sprawling Washington, D.C. suburbs. Not much car traffic passes through town other than tourists on their way to see the mountain leaves turn every October.

Seventy miles outside the nation’s capital in northern Virginia, there is no national pro-life headquarters, army of lobbyists, or melodramatic political battle being waged. The Front Royal Pregnancy Center is simply part of a national chain of crisis pregnancy centers, “the real future of the pro-life movement,” as board member Mary Brand put it.

And this future is carried out in a drab brick building on South Royal Avenue, ministering to pregnant women from town and from the surrounding area. Walk through the door, however, and one will meet a disarmingly festive atmosphere. Decorations festoon the ceiling and walls. A joyful, peaceful intoxication pervades the place.

“It’s liberating to work in a place like this where every life is precious. Every life is important. Planned or unplanned,” said head nurse Rosemary Antunes, RN.

If there’s any gravitas over a battle for the life of an unborn child, the volunteers aren’t showing it. There’s no grim reminder of what’s at stake, no guilt-trip ready for an anxious mother who is not sure what to do with her baby. The focus here is simply on the goodness of life and the Gospel.

“We work hard to be across-the-board life-affirming,” Antunes told CNA. “Not just the baby’s personhood. (The mother’s) personhood. Oh, and their significant other’s personhood.”

Crisis pregnancy centers are sometimes criticized for existing solely to save babies. The staff flatly rejects that line of thought when treating expectant mothers.

If the mother’s needs aren’t taken care of, if she is not affirmed and cared for through and even after the pregnancy, than the child will suffer the consequences, explained outreach coordinator Maura McMahon. A healthy mother is necessary for a healthy child.

This includes a mother who freely chooses to carry the child to term. She may be feeling intense pressure, on multiple fronts, to abort or keep the child, but the volunteers will not pressure her to save the life of the baby. All the witness to life is done through gentle, patient affirmation and education, through an authentic personal care for the woman.

“You’re merely giving them all the tools that they need to make an educated choice. And they know it,” McMahon said. “We’re giving them the space and time to make the decision. And we obviously pray that they keep (the baby), for the baby’s sake but (also) for their own sake. For the sake of their health, their well-being, and their conscience.”

“We really work hard on our non-judgemental, cheerful attitude,” Antunes says. This welcoming atmosphere begins right when a mother walks in the door.

“It’s important to get someone to smile or laugh,” said executive director Kathy Clowes. And no judgement of the woman is even considered.

In fact, the staff admire the women who come through the door, knowing that many of them are under intense pressure to abort their child.

“I think that a lot of them have heroic virtue, according to where they’ve come from, the very little training they’ve had,” Clowes added.

From humble beginnings

The center was begun in 1991, and presently ministers to almost 400 women per year and provides $23,000 worth of material assistance to mothers.

A local Catholic businessman offered the building that is the current location, and once they saw the building, the staff then knew they had room for an ultrasound machine. They procured one with the fundraising help of the Knights of Columbus. The local Knights council, the John Carrell Jenkins Council at St. John the Baptist Church, raised $24,000.

The national Knights of Columbus covered half the cost of the ultrasound machine. Through a program begun in 2009, the Supreme Council matches the funds raised by local Knights councils for ultrasound machines for local pregnancy centers.

The staff acknowledge the machine has been a game-changer.

“It’s been transformative, really,” Clowes said of the ultrasound machine. “The most common thing that the women say is that it did not seem real until they saw the baby on the screen. And they might expect to see a motionless little figure, they don’t expect to see it moving. Sometimes they don’t expect a heartbeat.”

The staff recounted once how an unborn baby on the ultrasound screen waved with his hand and the two year-old in the room waved back.

“You just let it dawn on them,” Clowes said. “Let the beauty of it come to mind.”

The image of a baby on the screen is transformative for fathers as well.

“They’re frequently stunned,” Antunes remarked. “There’s a genuine disconnect in our society between having sex and having a child. It’s documentable with the advent of contraception and the proliferation of contraception devices and use.”

Caring for the woman, no matter what

However, the woman needs more than pre-natal care if she decides to bring her baby to term. For many women the journey to childbirth can be a lonely and scary one. Motherhood, said McMahon, is a “life-changing experience,” and the women and babies need to be cared for even after the birth.

Women can participate in the center’s “Earn While You Learn” program, where women can “earn” supplies for motherhood as they are educated about pregnancy and motherhood.

“We make what seems like an impossible feat possible to them,” said McMahon. “Like you’re taking something that’s so intangible and you’re saying look, we have these material things for you to help you through the rough patches.”

The program also brings women back to the center, where they can establish a relationship with one of the volunteers.

“That first 45 minutes, you’re creating the start of a relationship, and if they come to ‘Earn While You Learn,’ you have all these hours to build on that relationship,” said Clowes.

And it is especially though these personal one-on-one meetings that the center strives to “share the Gospel,” as Antunes put it.

“A lot of centers have a group class, and you have to sign up for the group class, you come for the group class, you’re in the group with all these other people that you don’t really know,” Clowes explained.

“And we do one-on-one individual lessons. You come, you come with your mom, you come with your boyfriend, whatever. And if we can, we’ll sit in with you, most of the time, sit in with you and spend that time with you one-on-one.”

And any judgements of the women walking through the door go out the window.

“If they’ve had a couple of kids, or something like that, we’re not looking down our noses that they’re pregnant again,” Antunes said. “We’re here to help you through this pregnancy. And we think your kids are cute, by the way.”

“There has to be a safe place where they can know that this baby is welcomed,” Clowes said.

“And their other kids are welcome,” Antunes chimed in.

We’re ‘just touching the surface’ of St John Paul II’s teachings

Washington D.C., Oct 23, 2014 / 05:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- St. John Paul II’s life and teachings offer a witness to love that is so profound it is only beginning to be be mined for its riches, said the chaplain of the late pope’s national shrine in Washington, D.C.

“I think we’re just touching the surface, the scope of his teachings,” Fr. Jonathan Kalisch, O.P., said Oct. 22.

The chaplain of the Saint John Paul II National Shrine told CNA this, pointing to the legacy and witness the newly-recognized saint brings to the Church, made known in part through his teachings in his numerous writings, encyclicals and public speeches.

“They’re so rich with defense of human rights, and also religious freedom,” he commented, also noting the Pope’s writings on forgiveness and on human sexuality.

“And even his personal witness and the ways that he did those things,” Fr. Kalisch added.

Fr. Kalisch also spoke to how the saint’s life demonstrates “his witness to non-violence.”

Saint John Paul II, he said, “supported the churches under communism, never calling for a violent overthrow” and cautioned political leaders “to stand for the truth, even if it meant imprisonment. But never to resort to violence.”

Greatest, however, the chaplain said, was the Pope’s witness to love and friendship, noting that it’s demonstrative that Saint John Paul II “kept his friends,” and grew in those friendships despite changing life circumstances.

“I think he understood, having grown up under Nazism,” Fr. Kalisch said, “the power of fraternity. And he understood (that) under communism, where again you couldn’t be together in widespread circles, that he had to help create spheres of freedom.”

These friendships created a space that led to God and that deepened in exploration of truth and beauty. Throughout his life, the chaplain said, Saint John Paul II drew those around him to a greater relationship with others, with truth, and with God.

This habit of fostering deep and meaningful friendships also followed Saint John Paul II to Rome and the papacy, Fr. Kalisch said.

“You wouldn’t think that was the case: ironically you would think the Pope would be completely shut off,” he explained. “But no, they all came to him.”

“Despite whatever tragedies in his own family life that he went through,” Saint John Paul II was able “to flourish and to give a witness and example for himself personally, to inspire others to lead lives of holiness.”

Crowdfunding campaign aims to raise $1 million for Iraqi Christians

Washington D.C., Oct 22, 2014 / 08:35 pm (CNA).- A Catholic lay organization has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise awareness and money to help persecuted Christians and other minorities in Iraq.

“How can common lay people of faith thro…

Singing nun’s Madonna cover: not like a prayer

Denver, Colo., Oct 22, 2014 / 08:02 pm (CNA).- Although it may have been well intentioned, an Italian nun’s choice of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” as her first single shows “radical impropriety” which wrongly ignores the original song’s intent to undermine the Virgin Mary and Catholic morals, one cultural critic has said.

Barbara Nicolosi, a Hollywood screenwriter and Catholic cultural commentator, suggested that Sister Cristina Scuccia’s choice of Madonna’s risqué song “reflects the lack of thought, seriousness and decorum that is predictable of so much of our societal and ecclesial life today.”

Sr. Cristina, an Ursuline nun, in early June won first place on the musical competition TV show The Voice Italy. She has now released a cover of the 1984 Madonna song as the first single of her new album.

Nicolosi noted the original song’s music video and its use of Catholic imagery was “widely condemned” among Catholics.

“It was clear that Madonna was ridiculing the Church’s reverence for the Blessed Virgin and so many lay people and clergy came out to speak against Madonna and the piece,” Nicolosi told CNA Oct. 22.

“That’s another reason why this is a weird piece for a Catholic nun to try and repurpose.”

Madonna’s stage performances of the song were “each more sexually vile than the others” and “geared to stimulate pornographic resonance.”

Sr. Cristina talked about her album in an interview with the Italian daily L’Avvenire, published by the Italian Bishops’ Conference. She said that she knew she would be criticized but said that she does not intend to “provoke or scandalize anyone.”

“If you read the lyrics and avoid any influence from the original, you discover that it is song about the capacity to love, about making people new, about rescuing them from their past,” Sr. Cristina claimed. “And that’s how I wanted to interpret it. For this reason we transformed it from a pop song into a romantic ballad (…) to something more like a lay prayer than a pop song.”

Her new album will go on sale Nov. 11 under the Universal record label. Her album includes a cover of the Alicia Keys song “No One.”

Sr. Cristina said she is “open to any criticism because we worked on this album with honesty and seriousness.” She said Madonna has not yet heard her version of Like a Virgin.

“I would like to see her face when she does and when they tell her a nun is singing it,” she added.

Asked whether Universal forced her to record the song, Sister Cristina said it was her own choice and that she is “happy” with the recording and with the music video.

“We wanted to convey serenity and poetry. I think we did.”

Nicolosi, however, was sceptical. She suggested that Madonna might “guffaw in dark wonder” at the nun’s cover of her song and ask, “are Catholics so dumb that they don’t know what I was doing?”

She suggested the music industry was exploiting the nun.

For Nicolosi, the nun’s effort to repurpose the Madonna song is “like a group of Israeli teenagers suddenly thinking it would be cool to put a swastika on their T-shirts.”

The original song specifically aimed at “mockery towards the Blessed Mother.”

“You don’t resurrect it to put a good spin on it,” Nicolosi said.
Sr. Cristina reflected on the fame that resulted from her appearance on The Voice Italy, capped by taking first place in early June.

“I feel small amidst all of this. I am 26 years old, I’m young, but I know I have a huge responsibility. I know I should give a testimony and I do so gladly because I am enthusiastic about having encountered Christ and I want everyone to encounter him.”

Sister Cristina said she “sometimes” regrets going on The Voice because of “the almost morbid curiosity of the media. Some photographers have chased me everywhere. I have even taken ‘mortal leaps’ to get to Mass without them seeing me.”

She explained that in response to the media coverage, “I closed myself in here in the community. I have kept silent and prayed a lot. I have concentrated because I had to renew my temporary vows. I have cared for the most important part of me: my spiritual life.”

Asked whether she thinks she will become a worldwide star, Sister Cristina said, “It’s not easy. What keeps my feet on the ground is belonging to a community that helps me and protects me. And knowing that I am an instrument in God’s hands, not a star. I know it’s hard to believe, but if I could hide I would do so gladly. I am an insecure girl full of fears. On stage I seem very confident, but inside I am trembling like a leaf.”

Sr. Cristina said she would not leave her singing career behind “because I have a great gift: my voice. And I can’t hide it, I should use it for a greater good. For the community. And my insecure side also helps me—with the other sisters—to always be a few steps behind and to not let it go to my head.”

In accord with her vow of poverty, Sister Cristina said, the funds from the sale of her record “will be used to finance the charitable projects of the congregation, for our home in Brazil but also for a project in my own land of Sicily, where there is no lack of poverty. I would also like to help other associations.”

Sister Cristina said that going on TV was justified by Pope Francis’ encouragement to show that the Church is “alive” and should “go out and encounter people.”

“And later each person should put his own talents at the service of the community, even at the risk of going against the tide.”

Sr. Cristina also considered whether she could be an instrument of true beauty or whether her fame would become a stumbling block in the Year of Consecrated Life.  

“I feel I am a humble instrument that hopes to be useful to the Church in such an important year for consecrated life. I have been asked to participate in an event at the Vatican. If they think I can be of use, I will be happy to contribute,” she said.

Nicolosi suggested that Sister Cristina is “attracting attention mainly as a spectacle.”

“Of all the things that we would want to witness to the modern world through religious life, an esteem and appropriation of banal bubble-gum music is not high on the list.”

She said that pop culture is “never going to be a sphere appropriate to religious.” Citing the Second Vatican Council, she said that secular culture is “the realm of the laity.”

Holy See to UN: Share the riches of outer space

New York City, N.Y., Oct 22, 2014 / 06:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The exploration of outer space can deepen our faith in God and our understanding of the world, and its benefits should be shared with all.

This was the message of Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, at the Special Political and Decolonization Committee on Oct. 17.

“Since the earliest days of human history, humanity has looked to the sky with wonder, longing to understand celestial realities and their meaning in relation to humanity itself,” Archbishop Auza said.

“The Holy See believes that faith is capable of both expanding and enriching the horizons of reason; thus, it rejoices in the marvelous progress of science, seeing it both as a product of the enormous God-given potential of the human mind and as manifestation of the vastness and richness of creation.”
St. John Paul II had written in his encyclical Fides et Ratio — on the relationship between faith and reason — about how the two are complementary, and both help lead man to God.

“Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth – in a word, to know himself – so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves,” the late Roman Pontiff wrote.

In Archbishop Auza’s address, after discussing the relation between faith and reason, he stressed the need to share the economic and scientific benefits of space exploration to benefit the poor around the world, and not just the elite nations which invest in outer space projects.

An important part of sharing the good of this resource, the archbishop continued, is the commitment to the peaceful use of outer space.

“To this end, the ongoing discussion on the development of an International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities represents a positive step toward furthering a fairer and safer use of outer space,” he said. “It would undoubtedly help toward preventing an arms race in outer space and, consequently, toward averting a new, grave threat to international peace and security.”

The information that satellites can provide, including monitoring the state of various environments, tracking water cycles and other atmospheric conditions, should be put to use for the benefit of all.

“If we do not work together, there will be no winners, only losers,” the archbishop said.
Furthermore, satellites can help spread information even to the “far-flung areas” of the earth, and can help decrease illiteracy throughout the world, though the power of sharing information should not be abused either.
“However, care must be taken that this outer space technology does not become an instrument of dominion and a vehicle to impose certain cultures and values on others.”

Finally, Archbishop Auza asked that the environment of outer space be preserved for the benefit of future generations as well.

“It is the Holy See’s belief that we are only its temporary stewards, with the unwritten but morally compelling responsibility to preserve it for future generations.”

This is not the first time someone in a Church leadership position has spoken about the intergalactic realm. In a homily in May, Pope Francis considered what would happen if aliens ever came to the Vatican, and whether or not they should be baptized.

“Who are we to close doors?” Pope Francis said.

No matter how unpredictable or impossible the workings of the Holy Spirit might seem, the Pope said, the Catholic Church is one of “open doors.”

“When the Lord shows us the way, who are we to say, ‘No, Lord, it is not prudent! No, let’s do it this way’.  Who are we to close doors?”

The Pope was connecting the hypothetical situation to the reading of the day, in which the early Christians who had been Jews were hesitant to present the Gospel to those who were Gentiles and therefore previously considered “unclean.”

In 2010, one of Benedict XVI’s astronomers, Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J., said an alien could be baptized if it were determined to have intelligence, free will, freedom to love and to make decisions, which characterize beings with eternal, personal souls.

“But the odds of us finding it, of it being intelligent and us being able to communicate with it – when you add them up it’s probably not a practical question,” Br. Consolmagno told The Guardian.

Would he ever baptize an alien?

“Only if they asked.”

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