Vatican rebuffs Bishop Williamson’s Holocaust apology

February 28, 2009

- On Friday, the Vatican’s spokesman discarded an apology from Bishop Richard Williamson over remarks he made diminishing the extent of the Holocaust.

Bishop Williamson, who has been at the center of a storm of controversy due to his comments, issued an apology yesterday.

Reacting to Williamson’s apology, the Vatican’s spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, faulted the bishop for issuing his statement in the form of an open letter. “This is not a letter directed to the Holy Father or to the Pontifical Ecclesia Dei Commission,” Fr. Federico critiqued.

In his Thursday statement, Bishop Williamson said, “I can truthfully say that I regret having made such remarks, and that if I had known beforehand the full harm and hurt to which they would give rise, especially to the Church, but also to survivors and relatives of victims of injustice under the Third Reich, I would not have made them.”

He also added that during his interview on Swedish television that he only gave the “opinion [...] of a non-historian,” a perspective “formed 20 years ago on the basis of evidence then available, and rarely expressed in public since.

“To all souls that took honest scandal from what I said, before God I apologize,” he wrote.

However, Fr. Lombardi stated on Friday that Williamson’s statement fell short of the retraction that the Vatican has asked for.

“The bishop’s statement doesn’t seem to respect the conditions established in the note from the Secretary of State, dated February 4, 2009, which stated that he must also distance himself in an absolute, unequivocal and public manner from his positions regarding the Shoah,” Fr. Lombardi said.

Bishop Martino Again Rebukes Sen. Casey, Instructs Withholding of Communion from Pro-Abort Politicians

February 28, 2009

Bishop Joseph J. MartinoSCRANTON, PA ( - Bishop Joseph F. Martino of Scranton issued yet another rebuke this week against “pro-life” Catholic Senator Bob Casey, who persisted in his decision to vote against restoring the abortion-reducing Mexico City Policy.  The bishop simultaneously reminded ministers in the Scranton diocese that public figures in a persistent and objective denial of the Church’s teaching on life must be denied Communion.

Bishop Martino had condemned Casey on February 5 for the vote, which permitted taxpayer funds to abortion providers overseas, saying that in so doing Casey “persist(s) formally in cooperating with the evil.”  Casey, who bills himself as pro-life, issued a statement suggesting that the Hyde amendment suffices by forbidding the direct funding of overseas abortion procedures - a notion the bishop firmly rejected.

“It is a matter of deep concern that your recent vote against the Mexico City Policy is continually misrepresented by your staff as a pro-life vote intended to promote ‘contraception and other family planning that avoid unintended pregnancies,’” said the Bishop in a an open letter to the senator dated February 26.

Martino pointed out that the Policy did not forbid funding for other family planning services, but ensured funds would not benefit major abortion organizations that work aggressively to promote abortion and tear down legal protections for the unborn. 

“Contrary to the claims of your staff, the absence of ‘Mexico City’ regulations insures (1) that money is taken away from family planning, (2) that abortion is promoted as a method of family planning, and (3) that countries that have moral and cultural objections to abortion are encouraged to abandon their policies against it,” he wrote.

Finally, Martino added: “it is never permissible to use immoral means such as artificial contraception to achieve a good end, namely, the reduction of unplanned pregnancies.

“In fact, the mistaken view that artificial contraception may be used to regulate population growth and the size of families has led to countless evils in America and abroad, including the attitude that having and raising children is a burden to be avoided. This attitude has contributed mightily to the acceptability of abortion as a means of contraception both at home and abroad.”

In closing, the bishop warned Casey: “It is also imperative that there be utter clarity when it comes to the teaching of the Church on matters that pertain to the taking of innocent life and the special responsibilities that fall to you, Senator, as a lawmaker to oppose abortion and other clear evils.”

At the same time the letter was publsihed, Bishop Martino issued a detailed reminder to Eucharistic ministers that, when faced with a person’s “public and persistent actions in opposition to the moral law as taught by the Church,” Communion must be forbidden.

“The Holy See has declared that those who are unworthy to receive Holy Communion … include persons directly involved in lawmaking bodies,” wrote Martino.  “These have a grave and clear obligation to oppose any law that attacks human life.”   

The bishop quoted Joseph Ratzinger who, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in 2004 confirmed that “when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws),” his pastor should meet with him, “informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.” 

Ratzinger continued that this denial “is not a sanction or a penalty. Nor is the minister of Holy of Communion passing judgment on the person’s subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person’s public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin.”

Therefore, Martino formally ordered all ministers of Holy Communion: “Those whose unworthiness to receive Holy Communion is known publicly to the Church must be refused Holy Communion in order to prevent sacrilege and to prevent the Catholic in question from committing further grave sin through unworthy reception.”

President Obama to Revoke Bush Abortion Rule Protecting Conscience Rights

February 28, 2009

By Tim Waggoner

WASHINGTON DC ( - President Barack Obama is poised to rescind a policy that protects the conscience rights of American health care workers.

The controversial rule was put into place as one of the last acts of the Bush administration and came into effect on January 20 of this year, the same day as President Obama’s inauguration. The rule was universally condemned by the pro-abortion lobby who argued that allowing physicians to opt out of controversial services or procedures would endanger women’s health.

The policy protects health care workers from being forced to perform and provide controversial services that conflict with their personal, moral and religious beliefs. Without the policy, doctors, nurses and others could be forced to participate in abortions or to dispense the abortifacient morning after pill, even if to do so would violate their core beliefs.

The proposal to rescind the Bush rule was quietly put forward by the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department today.

An anonymous official from the HHS announced the measure this morning, saying, “We’ve been concerned that the way the Bush rule is written it could make it harder for women to get the care they need.”

The decision was welcomed by pro-abortion leaders.

Nancy Keenan of the pro-abortion group NARAL said, “We have a long way to go before we fully undo Bush’s anti-choice legacy, but President Obama’s action today is a giant step forward.”

“Today’s action by the Obama administration demonstrates that this president is not going to stand by and let women’s health be placed in jeopardy,” said Cecile Richards, head of the Planned Parenthood Federation.

Proponents of the rule, however, say its removal will violate the legitimate reservations of millions of American health workers and have condemned Obama for beginning his presidency by pursuing a radically anti-life agenda.

Father Thomas J. Euteneuer, president of Human Life International (HLI), today lambasted President Obama for his decision to reverse the Bush administration policy.

“Any pretense of ‘moderation’ on life issues was long ago dispensed with,” said Fr. Euteneuer. “With the rescinding of the Mexico City Policy, the appointment of dozens of radical anti-life cabinet members and staff, the enormous increase in funding for contraception and irresponsible sex advocacy, and now these grave insults to human life and dignity … one shudders to think what could be next.”

“It’s as if the president and Congress are trying to outdo each other for the dishonor of who can forward the most extreme anti-life agenda,” said Father Euteneuer.

“Like everyone who believes in human dignity, I am tired of these cowards in Congress trying to sneak these destructive, anti-life measures into bills that are supposed to be helping our country emerge from this recession,” said Fr. Euteneuer. “And I’m tired of President Obama’s ‘Choice for me, but not for thee’ hypocrisy. His audacity is not of hope, but of the destruction of freedom and human life.”

Dr. James Dobson Steps Down as Focus on the Family Chairman

February 28, 2009

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO (MetroCatholic) - Focus on the Family’s James C. Dobson, Ph.D., has stepped down as board chairman of the ministry he founded 32 years ago, it was announced today.

His wife, National Day of Prayer Chairman Shirley Dobson, has also left the Focus on the Family Board of Directors. They have been elected to the positions of Founder and Chairman Emeritus and Director Emerita, respectively, for the nonprofit ministry they started in 1977.

The Dobsons’ decision represents the next step in a transition plan begun six years ago, when he stepped down as president in order to lessen his administrative burden.  Executive leadership was handed to Don Hodel in 2003, and then to Jim Daly in 2005.  Dr. Dobson had been board chairman until today.

The board of directors issued this statement: “One of Dr. Dobson’s objectives during the last decade has been to help identify the next generation of leadership for the ministry, and to see it established securely before he stepped away from administrative oversight. That purpose has now been fulfilled, and we applaud Dr. Dobson for this concern for the future of the ministry.”

Dr. Dobson’s other responsibilities at the ministry will not change significantly.  He will continue the “Focus on the Family” radio broadcast, and handle other duties as in the past. He will also continue to write the newsletter, sent to 1.6 million people per month.  He and Mrs. Dobson are anxious to devote themselves to the joys of grandparenting.

“One of the common errors of founder-presidents,” Dr. Dobson said, “is to hold to the reins of leadership too long, thereby preventing the next generation from being prepared for executive authority.  I have wanted not to make that mistake with Focus on the Family, which is why I stepped back, first from the presidential duties six years ago, and now, from board chairmanship.  Though letting go is difficult after three decades of intensive labor, it is the wise thing to do.”

Jim Daly, Focus’ president and CEO, said the ministry will “forever be committed to the fulfillment of the mission so definitively served by both Dr. and Mrs. Dobson - helping families thrive.”

“The Dobsons have dedicated their lives to Focus on the Family,” Daly said. “He is my mentor and friend - and an inspiration and role model to millions of Americans.”

Dr. Dobson called Daly a “great leader.”

“We at Focus are blessed to have someone with Jim’s passion and skills, as well as a wonderfully experienced and intelligent board of directors.  That fact gave me the courage to let them run the ministry.  With God’s help, they will do it superbly.”

Assuming the chairmanship of the Focus board is Lt. Gen. Patrick P. Caruana (USAF, Retired), a  board member since 1996 and vice chairman since 2006. Gen. Caruana, who served 36 years in the military, was Vice President of Northrop Grumman Space Technology from 2002 to 2005 and also served as Vice President and Program Manager for TRW Space & Electronics from August 1999 until the company was acquired by Northrup Grumman in 2002.

About Focus on the Family
Reaching more than 220 million people in 155 nations, Focus on the Family is a Christian nonprofit organization dedicated to serving, strengthening and defending families worldwide.  Founded in 1977, Focus on the Family provides practical tools, spiritual resources and emotional support to families at every stage of life. Focus on the Family is online at

Fact Check: Gov. Sebelius Disingenuous with Abortion Remarks

February 28, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC (MetroCatholic) - Earlier this week, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius commented on the abortion issue, saying, “While my beliefs teach me that abortion is morally unacceptable, as a public official, I have worked hard to ensure that abortions are rare, safe and within the bounds of the law.”

“Sebelius’ remarks require a serious fact check,” said Operation Rescue Senior Policy Advisor Cheryl Sullenger. “Her statement is so misleading that it is an embarrassment. Sebelius is trying to hoodwink the American people by grossly misrepresenting the reality of her radical abortion policies.”

Sebelius is considered a front runner for the cabinet position of Secretary of Health and Human Services, where she would have an opportunity to advance her extremist abortion agenda.

Fact Check:

1. “I have worked hard to ensure that abortions are rare…” Yet, in 2008, Sebelius vetoed SB 386 that would have informed women that if they are being coerced into an abortion, they have the right to refuse. Sebelius’ veto insured that coerced abortions, a huge national problem, continue in Kansas, effectively insuring a higher number of abortions. (View documentation of coerced abortions in Kansas.)

2. “I have worked hard to ensure that abortions are…safe…” This statement is completely without any basis in fact. Sebelius vetoed bills that would have provided safety regulations in spite of evidence of several botched abortions requiring emergency hospitalization, including one abortion death.  Operation Rescue bought and closed one of the mills that Sebelius referred to as meeting “the highest standards of medical care in the country.” The building was unsafe, with mold and roach infestations, out of code plumbing and electrical, and filthy conditions. (View documentation.)

3. “I have worked hard to ensure that abortions are… within the bounds of the law.” In April, 2007, Sebelius hosted a party honoring late-term abortionist George Tiller and his entire staff while Tiller was under investigation by the Attorney General and Kansas Board of Healing Arts. Two months later, Tiller was criminally charged. In May of 2007, Sebelius attended a raucous party given by Planned Parenthood on the occasion of her birthday. Five months later, Planned Parenthood was charged with 107 criminal counts, including 23 felonies related to illegal abortions. (Documentation: Tiller Party, PP Party)

“Sebelius’ patently false statements about her abortion record continue to show that she is not fit to serve,” said Sullenger.

Care Net Opposes Obama Decision to Overturn Protections for Pro-Life Docs

February 28, 2009

LANSDOWNE, VA (MetroCatholic) - Care Net President Melinda Delahoyde responded to news Friday that President Obama has directed the Department of Health and Human Services to overturn regulations that protect medical professionals from being forced to perform or refer for abortion. “Our nation’s physicians, nurses, and other healthcare providers have the right to practice medicine without violating their conscience. To remove these protections is to ultimately remove these individuals of integrity from the field of medicine entirely,” Delahoyde said. “That’s not an action that we as Americans should be willing to accept.”

Delahoyde said that her network of 1,160 pregnancy center affiliates will feel the damaging blow of this action, if implemented. “Pregnancy centers empower women facing unplanned pregnancy to choose abortion alternatives,” Delahoyde said. “To accomplish this, we offer critical, free medical services, such as limited obstetrical ultrasounds and STD testing. Because of our commitment to providing alternatives to abortion, we rely on the availability of pro-life medical professionals - nurses, OB-GYNs, nurse practitioners, sonographers, and others. If the rights of these individuals are violated, then they will simply leave the field of practice or not enter it altogether. With more than 470 pregnancy centers in the Care Net network that offer medical services, we’re simply not willing to take that risk.”

Care Net will be mobilizing its network and supporters to provide comment to the Department of Health and Human Services on the Administration’s proposal to overturn the regulations. In addition, Care Net has filed as an intervener in a lawsuit filed by state attorney generals and Planned Parenthood that challenges the federal regulations protecting the right of conscience.

February 28, 2009 - Daily Mass Readings

February 28, 2009

Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Reading 1
Is 58:9b-14

If thou wilt take away the chain out of the midst of thee, and cease to stretch out the finger, and to speak that which profiteth not. When thou shalt pour out thy soul to the hungry, and shalt satisfy the afflicted soul, then shall thy light rise up in darkness, and thy darkness shall be as the noonday. And the Lord will give thee rest continually, and will fill thy soul with brightness, and deliver thy bones, and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a fountain of water whose waters shall not fail. And the places that have been desolate for ages shall be built in thee: thou shalt raise up the foundation of generation and generation: and thou shalt be called the repairer of the fences, turning the paths into rest.

If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy own will in my holy day, and call the sabbath delightful, and the holy of the Lord glorious, and glorify him, while thou dost not thy own ways, and thy own will is not found, to speak a word: Then shalt thou be delighted in the Lord, and I will lift thee up above the high places of the earth, and will feed thee with the inheritance of Jacob thy father. For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 86:1-2, 3-4, 5-6

R. Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.
Incline thy ear, O Lord, and hear me:
for I am needy and poor.
Preserve my soul, for I am holy:
save thy servant, O my God, that trusteth in thee.
R. Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.
Have mercy on me, O Lord,
for I have cried to thee all the day.
Give joy to the soul of thy servant,
for to thee, O Lord, I have lifted up my soul.
R. Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.
For thou, O Lord, art sweet and mild:
and plenteous in mercy to all that call upon thee.
Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer:
and attend to the voice of my petition.
R. Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.

Lk 5:27-32

And after these things, he went forth and saw a publican named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said to him: Follow me. And leaving all things, he rose up and followed him. And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: And there was a great company of publicans and of others that were at table with them. But the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying to his disciples: Why do you eat and drink with publicans and sinners? And Jesus answering, said to them: They that are whole need not the physician: but they that are sick. I came not to call the just, but sinners to penance.


The readings on this site are not official for the Mass of Roman Rite of the Catholic Church in the USA, but are from The Challoner Douay Rheims version of the Sacred Bible, a source free from copyright and entirely in the public domain.

The Challoner Douay Rheims version was prepared by Bishop Richard Challoner, about A.D. 1749-1752, by revising the original Douay Rheims version and by comparing it to the Latin Vulgate version of the Bible.

Official Readings of the Liturgy at –

The Promotion of a Pedagogy and Culture of Peace

February 28, 2009

VATICAN CITY, 27 FEB 2009 (VIS) - Made public yesterday afternoon was the final declaration of the annual meeting of the Joint Committee for Dialogue of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue (Vatican) and the Permanent Committee of al-Azhar for Dialogue among the Monotheistic Religions (Cairo, Egypt). The meeting was held in Rome on 24 and 25 February.

The English-language declaration explains that the annual meeting of the Joint Committee for Dialogue - an institution established in 1998 - was jointly presided by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, and by Sheikh Ali Abd al-Baqi Shahata, secretary general of the Academy for Islamic Research of al-Azhar.

The theme of the meeting - “The Promotion of a Pedagogy and Culture of Peace with Particular Reference to the Role of Religions” - was presented from the Catholic point of view by Bernard Sabella, associate professor emeritus of sociology at Bethlehem University, and from the Islamic standpoint by Sheikh Ali Shahata.

A the end of the meeting the participants agreed on the following:

“1. Peace and security are much needed in our present world marked by many conflicts and a feeling of insecurity.

“2. … No true and lasting peace can be achieved without justice and equality among persons and communities.

“3. Religious leaders, especially Muslims and Christians, have the duty to promote a culture of peace, each within his respective community, especially through teaching and preaching.

“4. A culture of peace should permeate all aspects of life: religious formation, education, interpersonal relations and the arts in their diverse forms. To this end, scholastic books should be revised in order not to contain material which may offend the religious sentiments of other believers, at times through the erroneous presentation of dogmas, morals or history of other religions.

“5. The media have a major role and responsibility in the promotion of positive and respectful relations among the faithful of various religions.

“6. Recognising the strong link between peace and human rights, special attention was given to the defence of the dignity of the human person and his or her rights, especially regarding freedom of conscience and of religion.

“7. Youth, the future of all religions and of humanity itself, need special care in order to be protected from fanaticism and violence, and to become peace builders for a better world.

“8. Mindful of the suffering endured by the peoples of the Middle East due to unresolved conflicts, the participants, in respect of the competence of political leaders, ask to make use, through dialogue, of the resources of international law to solve the problems at stake in truth and justice”.

The next meeting of the joint committee is due to be held in Cairo on 23 and 24 February 2010.

Pope Benedict’s prayer intention for March

February 28, 2009

VATICAN CITY, 27 FEB 2009 (VIS) - Pope Benedict’s general prayer intention for March is: “That the role of women may be more appreciated and used to good advantage in every country in the world”.

His mission intention is: “That, in the light of the Letter addressed to them by Pope Benedict XVI, the bishops, priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful of the Catholic Church in the Popular Republic of China may commit themselves to being the sign and instrument of unity, communion and peace”.

Pope says fighting poverty gives peace a better chance

February 28, 2009

VATICAN CITY, 27 FEB 2009 (VIS) - In the Clementine Hall today, The Pope received members of the Belgian associations “Pro Petri Sede” and “Etrennes Pontificales,” both of which offer annual financial aid for the needs of the Holy See.

“The Pauline Year”, said the Holy Father addressing the group in French, “by meditating on the words of the Apostle of the Gentiles, enables us to become aware of the fact that the Church is a Body pulsating with a single life, the life of Jesus. Hence, each member of the ecclesial body is profoundly bonded to all the others and cannot ignore their needs. Nourished by the same Eucharistic bread, the baptised cannot remain indifferent when bread is lacking from the tables of other human beings”.

“This year”, he went on, “you have once again responded to the call to open your hearts to the needs of the disinherited, so that those members of Christ’s Body suffering poverty may be helped and thus enabled to live better lives and be freer to bear witness to the Good News”.

“Entrusting the fruit of your savings to Peter’s Successor”, said Benedict XVI, “you enable him to carry out real and active charity, the sign of his solicitude for all Churches, for all the baptised, for all human beings. I thank you from the bottom of my heart in the name of the people whom your generosity will help as they struggle against the evils that threaten their dignity. If we fight against all forms of poverty we give peace more chance to come and take root in our hearts”.

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