The White Rose Women’s Centers Fundraiser Welcomes Teresa Tomeo

September 30, 2010

McKinney, TX (MetroCatholic)

St. Joseph’s Helpers 25th Anniversary Dinner Reception & Silent Auction to benefit the White Rose Women’s Center will be held on Saturday, Ocotber 16th. This year we’re delighted to have Teresa Tomeo from EWTN radio and television join us as our keynote speaker! For tickets please call 214-824-5942.

http://www.saintjosephshelpers.org/

Obama Says Teachings of Jesus Christ ‘Spoke to Me,’ then Defends Abortion

September 30, 2010

By Kathleen Gilbert

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (LifeSiteNews.com) – Following reports of widespread skepticism over his professed Christianity, President Obama on Tuesday invoked the teachings of Jesus Christ as the inspiration for his public agenda, which he called part of an “effort to express my Christian faith” - and in his next breath defended the legalized killing of unborn children.

When a teacher’s assistant asked him why he was a Christian during a townhall Q&A in Albuquerque, the president answered, “I’m a Christian by choice.”

The president admitted that his parents “weren’t folks who went to church every week” and that his mother “didn’t raise me in the church.” “I came to my Christian faith later in life, and it was because the precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead - being my brothers’ and sisters’ keeper, treating others as they would treat me,” he said.

Obama continued: “And I think also understanding that Jesus Christ dying for my sins spoke to the humility we all have to have as human beings, that we’re sinful and we’re flawed and we make mistakes, and that we achieve salvation through the grace of God.  But what we can do, as flawed as we are, is still see God in other people and do our best to help them find their own grace.

“That’s what I strive to do.  That’s what I pray to do every day.  I think my public service is part of that effort to express my Christian faith,” he said.

But the president then jumped to defend the legal killing of unborn children when the same woman asked about regulating the procedure.

“Now, with respect to the abortion issue, I actually think - I mean, there are laws both federal, state and constitutional that are in place,” he said. “And I think that this is an area where I think Bill Clinton had the right formulation a couple of decades ago, which is abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.”

Obama exhorted the audience to “recognize” killing unborn children as “a difficult, oftentimes tragic situation that families are wrestling with.” “I think the families and the women involved are the ones who should make the decisions, not the government,” he said, adding: “I do think actually that there are a whole host of laws on the books that after a certain period, the interests shift such that you can have some restrictions, for example, on late-term abortions, and appropriately so.”

As an Illinois and U.S. senator, Obama never once voted in favor of an abortion restriction, supporting even the gruesome partial-birth abortion procedure and voting against a state law to protect infants born alive during an abortion.

Since ascending to the White House, he has solidified his 100% pro-abortion record by pursuing greater funding for abortion groups both overseas and at home. In crafting the federal health care reform, Obama’s administration worked closely with abortion giant Planned Parenthood, whom he promised in 2007 that reproductive health would be “at the center, the heart” of his health care plans.

Obama’s devotion to abortion is not the only aspect of a public agenda in plain conflict with the Christian worldview.

Obama has taken an increasingly aggressive stance against Christian values on marriage and the family by courting the homosexualist lobby, and has pushed for an end to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the repeal of the U.S. military’s ban on open homosexuality, and gay adoption. Obama also successfully championed the inclusion of “sexual orientation” as a federally protected trait alongside race and religion in federal “hate crimes” legislation.

A survey by the Pew Research Center in August found that nearly one in five Americans believe Obama is a Muslim, and only one in three believe he is an adherent of the faith he claims; 43 percent said they were unsure. The White House shot back at the polls, claiming that right-wing “misinformation campaigns” had produced the results.

Yet skeptics likely remained unmoved when, after the Pew results were collected, Obama vouched for a proposed Islamic community center and mosque near the site of the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York City. The president announced his support at a White House dinner celebrating the Muslim fast of Ramadan.

Christian leaders have expressed frustration at Obama’s claim to Christianity despite failing to attend church services regularly since winning the 2008 presidential election, including Christmas Day 2008 and 2009.

In Message To White House, Religious Leaders Say Peace Is Possible

September 30, 2010

WASHINGTON DC (MetroCatholic) —In visits to the White House and the State Department, religious leaders representing the Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities offered support for the Obama administration’s efforts to continue peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The leaders, who included Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, New York, Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired Archbishop of Washington, presented a statement at meetings on September 29 with National Security Advisor General James Jones and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on behalf of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East (NILI).

“We are people of hope. We call upon the members of our religious communities to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and to support active, fair, and firm U.S. leadership to advance comprehensive peace in the Middle East,” said the statement. “It will be difficult to achieve, but peace is possible.”

The statement called for a two-state solution as the only viable path to peace and said sustained U.S. leadership for peace is essential.

“One of the biggest obstacles to peace in the Middle East is cynicism,” said Bishop Hubbard of the meeting. “As people of faith, we must remember that with God all things are possible. The human spirit can overcome even the longest and most violent of conflicts.”

“We are always hopeful for peace,” Cardinal McCarrick added. “History shows us repeatedly that historic change can occur at unlikely times, and so we must never give into despair.”

Full text of the statement follows:

New Hope for the Peace of Jerusalem:
Jewish, Christian and Muslim Religious Leaders Support U.S. Leadership for Peace

Our faith traditions teach that every person is created by the one God and deserving of respect.  This common religious heritage finds expression in our common commitment to peace with justice for all.

With the support and engagement of the United States, earlier this month, direct negotiations resumed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority with the goal of reaching agreement within one year.  It is imperative that the peace talks continue. While we have long supported a halt to all settlement expansion, we support the United States working with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas to reach a mutually acceptable agreement that will allow the negotiations to continue.  We stand united in support of active, fair, and firm U.S. leadership for Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace.  Two years ago, we issued a statement on “a window of hope.” Today we declare there is “New Hope for the Peace of Jerusalem.”   It will be difficult to achieve, but peace is possible.

Since 2003 we have worked together for a two-state solution that will bring Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace within the framework of U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242, 338 and 1397.  As religious leaders in the United States, we have prayed for peace, made public statements, met with public officials, and stood in solidarity with religious leaders in Israel, the Palestinian Territories and throughout the region.

Despite tragic violence and discouraging developments, there are signs of hope.  Majorities of both Israelis and Palestinians still support a two-state solution.  Arab states have declared their commitment to peace in the Arab Peace Initiative. There are U.S. diplomatic efforts to restart Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-Lebanese negotiations for peace.  Official and informal negotiations have produced the outlines of concrete compromises for resolving the conflict, including the final status issues:  borders and security, settlements, refugees and Jerusalem. Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders both here and in the region reject the killing of innocents, support a just peace, and believe sustained negotiations are the only path to peace.

As we said two years ago, there is a real danger that cynicism will replace hope and that people will give up on peace.  With the resumption of direct negotiations, clarity is demanded.  So let us be clear.  As religious leaders, we remain firmly committed to a two-state solution to the conflict as the only viable way forward.  We believe that concerted, sustained U.S. leadership for peace is essential.  And we know that time is not on the side of peace, that delay is not an option.

The path to peace shuns violence and embraces dialogue.  This path demands reciprocal steps that build confidence.  This path can lead to a future of two states, Israel and a viable, independent Palestine, living side by side in peace with security and dignity for both peoples, stability in the region, and a comprehensive peace between Israel and all her Arab neighbors.

The United States has a unique and indispensable role which gives our nation a special responsibility to pursue peace. Achieving Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace will have positive reverberations in the region and around the world. Our nation and the world will be much safer with the achievement of the peace of Jerusalem.

We refuse, now and always, to give into cynicism or despair.  We arepeople of hope.  We call upon the members of our religious communities to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and to support active, fair, and firm U.S. leadership to advance comprehensive peace in the Middle East.  The time for peace is now.

Christian Leaders:
His Eminence Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington
Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, Chairman, Committee on International Justice and Peace, USCCB
Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Director, Ecumenical Affairs, Armenia Orthodox Church in America
Fr. Mark Arey, Director, Office of Ecumenical Affairs, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Reverend Michael Kinnamon, General Secretary, National Council of Churches of Christ USA
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate, Episcopal Church
Rev. Geoffrey Black, General Minister & President, United Church of Christ
The Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister, President, Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ)
The Reverend Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church (USA)
Bishop Sharon Zimmerman Rader, Council of Bishops, United Methodist Church
The Reverend Michael E. Livingston, Executive Director, International Council of Community Churches
The Reverend Leighton Ford, President, Leighton Ford Ministries, Board Member, World Vision US
Rev. John M. Buchanan, Editor and Publisher, Christian Century
David Neff, Editor in Chief and Vice-President, Christianity Today

Jewish Leaders:
Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President, Union of Reform Judaism
Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Rabbi Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus, President, Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rabbi Peter Knobel, Past President, Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rabbi Elliot Dorff, Rector, American Jewish University
Dr. Carl Sheingold, Former Executive Vice President, Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
Rabbi Amy Small, Past President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Asssembly

Muslim Leaders:
Dr. Sayyid Muhammad Syeed, National Director, Islamic Society of North America
Imam Mohamed Magid, President, Islamic Society of North America
Imam Yahya Hendi, Muslim Chaplain, Georgetown University, Clergy Beyond Borders
Dawud Assad, President Emeritus, Council of Mosques, USA
Eide Alawan, Interfaith Office for Outreach, Islamic Center of America
Iftekhar A. Hai, Founding Director, United Muslims of America

Organizations for Identification Only

THEME FOR WORLD DAY OF SOCIAL COMMUNICATIONS

September 30, 2010

VATICAN CITY, 29 SEP 2010 (VIS) - Made public today was the theme chosen by the Pope for the forty-fifth World Day of Social Communications: “Truth, proclamation and authenticity of life in the digital age”. His Message for the Day will be published on 24 January 2011, feast of St. Francis of Sales, patron of journalists.

An English-language note released by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications explains that the theme is “to be understood as focusing on the human person who is at the heart of all communicative processes. Even in an age that is largely dominated, and at times conditioned, by new technologies, the value of personal witness remains essential.

“To approach the truth and to take on the task of sharing it”, the note adds, “requires the ‘guarantee’ of an authenticity of life from those who work in the media, and especially from Catholic journalists; an authenticity of life that is no less required in a digital age.

“Technology, on its own, cannot establish or enhance a communicator’s credibility, nor can it serve as a source of the values which guide communication. The truth must remain the firm and unchanging point of reference of new media and the digital world, opening up new horizons of information and knowledge. Ideally, it is the pursuit of truth which constitutes the fundamental objective of all those who work in the media”.

MATILDA OF HACKEBORN: LITURGY AND SPIRITUALITY

September 30, 2010

VATICAN CITY, 29 SEP 2010 (VIS) - St. Matilda of Hackeborn (1241/1242 - 1298), one of the outstanding figures of the German convent of Helfta, was the subject of the Holy Father’s catechesis during his general audience, which took place this morning in St. Peter’s Square.

Matilda was daughter of the barons of Hackeborn. At an early age she entered the convent of Helfta where her sister, St. Gertrude, was abbess for forty years. Gertrude gave “a particular imprint to the spirituality of the convent, causing it to flourish as a centre of mysticism and culture, a place of scientific and theological education”. The nuns of Helfta enjoyed “a high level of intellectual learning which enabled them to cultivate a spirituality founded on Sacred Scripture, the liturgy and patristic tradition, and on the Rule and spirituality of the Cistercians”.

The main source for Matilda’s life is a book written by her sister and entitled “The Book of Special Grace”, in which she is described as possessing exalted natural and spiritual qualities such as “science, intelligence, knowledge of human literature, and a voice of great beauty”.

While still very young Matilda became the head of the convent school of Helfta, and later director of the choir and mistress of novices. She also possessed “the divine gift of mystic contemplation” and was “a teacher of faithful doctrine and great humility, a counsellor, a consoler and a guide in discernment”. For this reason “many people, within the convent but also from elsewhere, … testified that this holy virgin had freed them from their sufferings and that they had never known such consolation as they had with her”, said Benedict XVI.

“During her long life in the convent, Matilda was afflicted by continuous and intense suffering, to which she added her own great penance for the conversion of sinners. In this way she shared in the Lord’s passion until the end of her life.

“Prayer and contemplation”, the Pope added. “were the vital ‘humus’ of her life. It was there that her revelations, her teachings, her service to others, and her journey in faith and love had their roots and their context. … Of the liturgical prayers, Matilda gave particular emphasis to the canonical hours, and to the celebration of Mass especially Holy Communion. … Her visions, her teachings, and the events of her life are described with expressions evocative of liturgical and biblical language. Thus do we come to appreciate her profound knowledge of Sacred Scripture, which was her daily bread”.

This saint, “allowing herself to be guided by Sacred Scripture and nourished by the Eucharistic bread, followed a path of intimate union with the Lord, always maintaining complete fidelity to the Christ. For us too, this is a powerful call to intensify our friendship with the Lord, especially through daily prayer and attentive, faithful and active participation in Mass. The liturgy is a great school of spirituality”, the Pope concluded.

Cardinal DiNardo calls for awareness, prayer, healing and action in defense of life

September 29, 2010

Worldwide ‘Vigil for All Nascent Human Life’ set for November 27

WASHINGTON DC (MetroCatholic)—In a statement to mark Respect Life Month, October 2010, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston addressed direct threats to human life and called Catholics to “constantly witness to the inestimable worth and dignity of each human life through a loving concern for the good of others.” He also encouraged participation in the worldwide “Vigil for All Nascent Human Life” called for by Pope Benedict XVI at the start of Advent.

Cardinal DiNardo chairs the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

In his statement, Cardinal DiNardo noted populations particularly at risk: millions of unborn children in the womb, embryonic human beings destroyed “in the name of science,” and seriously ill patients “under threat from a renewed campaign for legalizing physician-assisted suicide.”

“The loss of even one child, and the pain experienced by the child’s mother and father in the aftermath of abortion, should impel us to redouble our efforts to end legal abortion,” Cardinal DiNardo said. He stressed the need “to ensure that every pregnant woman has whatever help she needs to turn away from this heartbreaking choice.” He highlighted Project Rachel, the Church’s healing ministry to women and men hurting after abortion, and called the ministry “a reflection of God’s love and mercy and His constant offer of forgiveness and healing.”

Cardinal DiNardo also noted the “urgent task” of “ensuring that health care reform … is not misused to promote abortion or to trample on the rights of conscience.”

“If we allow the dignity of every human life to guide the decisions we make as voters and public policy advocates, we can surely succeed in creating a more just and humane society,” Cardinal DiNardo said.

Cardinal DiNardo cited Pope Benedict’s “unprecedented request” for Catholics throughout the world to observe a “Vigil for All Nascent Human Life” on Saturday, November 27.

“I heartily encourage all Catholics, whether at home or traveling over the Thanksgiving holidays, to take part in this special prayer, whose purpose according to the Holy See,” he said, “is to ‘thank the Lord for his total self-giving to the world and for his Incarnation which gave every human life its real worth and dignity,’ and to ‘invoke the Lord’s protection over every human being called into existence’.”

Begun in 1972, the Respect Life Program stresses the value and dignity of human life. It is observed in the 195 Catholic dioceses in the United States. This year’s theme is “The Measure of Love is to Love Without Measure.” The full statement follows and may be found online at www.usccb.org/prolife/programs/rlp/10dinardo-stmt.pdf.

STATEMENT FOR RESPECT LIFE MONTH
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo
Chairman, Committee on Pro-Life Activities
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
September 27, 2010

            During the Respect Life Month of October, Catholics across the United States will gather in prayer and thanksgiving, at charitable and educational events, and in public witness to the unique and priceless value of every human life, guided by the theme for this year’s Respect Life Program: “The Measure of Love is to Love Without Measure.” With each passing year, the need for personal and public witness grounded in God’s boundless love for each and every human being grows more urgent.

            With over one million innocent children dying from abortion each year, the plague of abortion remains embedded in our culture. It is encouraging to see the continuing decline nationwide in the number and rate of abortions—due in large part to fewer teens becoming sexually active, and to growing recognition of the humanity of the unborn child. Yet the loss of even one child, and the pain experienced by the child’s mother and father in the aftermath of abortion, should impel us to redouble our efforts to end legal abortion, and to ensure that every pregnant woman has whatever help she needs to turn away from this heartbreaking choice.

            For those the pro-life community could not reach and assist before they underwent an abortion, the Catholic Church throughout the United States offers compassionate, confidential counseling through its Project Rachel ministry. In contacting Project Rachel, no one need fear that they will encounter anything less than a reflection of God’s love and mercy and His constant offer of forgiveness and healing.

            In many areas of public policy, the rift continues to widen between the moral principles expressed by a majority of Americans and the actions of government. For example, Americans oppose public funding of abortion by wide margins, with 67% opposing federal funding of abortion in health care in one recent poll. In early 2009, Catholics and others sent over 33 million postcards, and countless e-mails and letters to Members of Congress, urging them to “retain laws against federal funding and promotion of abortion.”

            Yet in March of this year, Congress passed a health care reform law that allows for federal funding of abortion in some programs and could pressure millions of Americans to help subsidize other people’s abortions through their health care premiums. Ensuring that health care reform will meet the urgent needs for which it has been proposed, and is not misused to promote abortion or to trample on rights of conscience, will be an urgent task in the coming year.

            Defenseless human life is also placed at risk today in the name of science, when researchers seek to destroy human life at its embryonic stage for stem cell research—and demand the use of all Americans’ tax dollars to support this agenda. In a recent poll commissioned by the Catholic bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, 57 percent of respondents favored funding only stem cell research avenues that do not harm the donor, using stem cells from cord blood, placentas, and other “adult” tissues; only 21 percent favor funding all stem cell research, including research that requires killing embryonic human beings. Yet the current Administration issued guidelines last year to fund human embryonic stem cell research, and some in Congress are preparing legislation to ensure continued funding despite a federal court’s finding that these guidelines may violate the law.

            At the other end of life, seriously ill patients are again under threat from a renewed campaign for legalizing physician-assisted suicide. Instead of addressing these patients’ real problems by providing love, support and relief of suffering, this agenda urges us to eliminate the patient as though he or she is the problem. Marching under the false banner of “compassion” and “choice,” it raises the fearsome prospect of a future in which the only “choice” cheerfully granted to our most vulnerable patients is a lethal overdose of drugs.

            Becoming a voice for the child in the womb, and for the embryonic human being at risk of becoming a mere object of research, and for the neglected sick and elderly is one of many ways we can teach our fellow citizens that “The Measure of Love is to Love Without Measure.” While critics want to portray the Church’s witness as a narrow and negative ideology, it is just the opposite: A positive vision of the dignity of each and every human being without exception, each loved equally by God and so equally deserving of our love and our nation’s respect.

            Because we are created in the image of God, who is Love, our identity and vocation is to love sacrificially for the sake of others. Pope Benedict XVI has called this “the key to [our] entire existence.” In a homily during his recent visit to the United Kingdom, Pope Benedict reminded us that “our hearts can easily be hardened by selfishness, envy and pride,” and that “pure and generous love is the fruit of a daily decision.” Every day, he reminded us, “we have to choose to love.” In our homes, schools, workplaces, and in public, if we constantly witness to the inestimable worth and dignity of each human life through a loving concern for the good of others, if we allow the dignity of every human life to guide the decisions we make as voters and public policy advocates, we can surely succeed in creating a more just and humane society.

            Our efforts, of course, must always be undergirded with prayer—the silent space for personal daily prayer that allows us to hear God’s voice deep in our hearts, and communal prayer that asks God to transform our culture into one that welcomes every human person.

            Recently Pope Benedict made an unprecedented request for such prayer, by asking that Catholic bishops throughout the world, and all parishes and religious communities, observe a “Vigil for All Nascent Human Life” on the evening of Saturday, November 27, 2010. The U.S. bishops’ offices for pro-life activities and for divine worship will be working together to provide worship aids to assist pastors in planning these vigil services.

            Speaking for the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, I heartily encourage all Catholics, whether at home or traveling over the Thanksgiving holidays, to take part in this special prayer, whose purpose according to the Holy See is to “thank the Lord for his total self-giving to the world and for his Incarnation which gave every human life its real worth and dignity,” and to “invoke the Lord’s protection over every human being called into existence.”

            May God bless all who work tirelessly to build a culture of respect for every human life, from conception to natural death.

Catholic-Oriental Orthodox Dialogue Discusses Proselytism, Other Pastoral Issues Facing Their Churches

September 29, 2010

WASHINGTON DC (MetroCatholic) —The United States Oriental Orthodox-Roman Catholic Consultation held its 2010 meeting at the Passionist Spiritual Center in Bronx, New York, on September 20 and 21. The meeting, co-chaired by Catholic Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, New York, and the Right Reverend Chor-Episcopos John Meno of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, focused primarily on pastoral issues facing both churches.

They discussed the pastoral responses of the churches to proselytizing efforts—the seeking of converts from members of other Christian communities—of certain Evangelical and Pentecostal groups both in the United States and in the countries where these churches originated. From a Catholic perspective, Father Juan Luis Calderon of the Archdiocese of Newark gave a talk entitled, “The Follower, the Seeker and the Convert: Hispanics and Their Experience of God.” Additional reflections were offered by Father Daniel Findikyan, who focused on the Armenian Church, and by Father Yacob Ghaly, who drew on the experience of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt, where such efforts have weakened this ancient church.

The members also heard a report from Brother David Carroll, FSC, on the policy of the Holy See regarding the Holy Land and the final status of Jerusalem. In his talk, Brother Carroll reviewed the history of this issue, the major negotiations that have taken place in recent decades, and the Holy See’s position, which advocates the preservation of the religious characteristics of Jerusalem, equality of rights of the communities of the three major religions found in the city, the preservation of the holy places, and freedom of worship and access to them for residents and pilgrims alike.

The meeting also included reports on the situation of the individual Oriental Orthodox Churches, information about the January 2010 meeting of the International Catholic-Oriental Orthodox dialogue, the theological dialogues between the Catholic Church and the two Oriental Orthodox churches in India, as well as the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, which foresees the establishment of Personal Ordinariates in the United States and elsewhere for former Anglicans.

The members had an opportunity to pray together during a Vespers service celebrated in the Coptic Orthodox tradition. In addition Bishop Hubbard announced that Father Aelred Cody, OSB, a longtime member of the Consultation, had resigned due to his age. Father Columba Steward, OSB, Director of the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library at St. John’s Benedictine Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, replaces him as a permanent Catholic member.

The Oriental Orthodox-Roman Catholic Consultation was established in 1978, and is sponsored jointly by the Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches America, which includes representatives from the Armenian (Catholicossate of Etchmiadzin), Coptic, Ethiopian, and Syrian Orthodox Churches. For more information, visit: http://www.usccb.org/seia/oriental_orthodox.shtml

USCCB Publishes Findings, Recommendations after Mission to Haiti and Haitians in Other Caribbean Nations

September 29, 2010

WASHINGTON DC (MetroCatholic)—Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, head of the U.S. bishops Haiti Advisory Group, introduced September 27, the report “The Displaced of Haiti:  Long-Term Challenges and Needed Solutions” on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Mission to Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas.

As we saw from the storms that hit Port-Au-Prince over the weekend, Haiti is still in a fragile state,” Archbishop Wenski said. “Nearly nine months after the earthquake, 1.3 million persons remain homeless, living in tent camps, and clean-up and reconstruction efforts proceed at a very slow pace. Despite the outpouring of support from the international community in the aftermath of the disaster, attention to the long-term recovery of Haiti has begun to lag. Full assistance to help the country rebuild has yet to be delivered, and displaced Haitians, particularly vulnerable children, remain in dangerous situations.”

The U.S. bishops’ delegation found the plea of Haitian children especially troublesome.

“While there are some innovative and promising child protective initiatives, there is no comprehensive approach to prevent family separation, smuggling and trafficking across the border, and support safe return and reintegration and durable solutions for children,” said Todd Scribner, USCCB Migration and Refugee Services education coordinator.

Thousands of Haitian children live in hundreds of “orphanages” or “child-care centers” in and around Port-au-Prince. Some lost their parents; in many other cases, parents who cannot care for their children will often leave them there.  Children in Haiti are also vulnerable to exploitation, particularly to the restavek system, a practice in which a child is sent to work for another family with the hope that the child will have access to an education, or at least food and shelter. Instead, the child often finds a life of domestic servitude and slave-like conditions. There also is evidence that Haitian children are being trafficked into the Dominican Republic to work in agriculture, beg on the streets, or perform domestic work, yet little is being done to apprehend and prosecute traffickers.

Other USCCB findings include:

  • Recovery and reconstruction efforts are proceeding slowly, leaving Haiti’s displaced, both inside the country and outside, at grave risk;
  • After an initial generous response, nations in the region, including the United States, are beginning to pull back the welcome mat for Haitians displaced because of the earthquake;
  • Haitian children remain in danger, subject to difficult living conditions, domestic servitude, and human trafficking;
  • Haitian families are divided and policies pursued both by Haiti and surrounding nations, including the United States, have not been designed to reunite them;  and
  • Interdiction and deportation policies toward Haitians in the region continue or have resumed, despite the fragile state of the recovery effort in Haiti.

The U.S. Bishops’ delegation also made the following recommendations:

  • The United States and other nations must provide reconstruction funds in a timely manner and assist the Haitian government in rebuilding the country, including a plan for re-location or return of the displaced to homes;
  • Family tracing efforts for orphans must be increased and best interest determinations for Haitian orphans in Haiti and the Dominican Republic should be introduced;
  • The United States should liberalize immigration policies toward Haitians, including the reunification of the families of medical evacuees, a re-designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians who arrived after January 12, 2010, and humanitarian parole for Haitian family members who have been approved for a U.S. visa but await a priority date;
  • Efforts should be increased to protect children and women along the Haiti-Dominican Republic border to minimize the incidence of human trafficking; and
  • U.S. interdiction policies toward Haitians should include proactive asylum screening; the United States should urge the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas to cease deportations of Haitians until the recovery and reconstruction of Haiti progresses and new homes are built or identified.

Archbishop Wenski and other members of the delegation, which included Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, Maria Odom, executive director of CLINIC (Catholic Legal Immigration  Network, Inc.), Mary DeLorey, strategic issues advisor for Catholic Relief Services, and staff from the USCCB offices of Migration and Refugees Services and International Justice and Peace, made a plea for the international community not to forget Haiti.

“The United States and the international community must re-focus their attention on Haiti to help ensure that the Haitian people maintain hope and that the situation in Haiti does not deteriorate,” the archbishop said. “This includes ensuring that needed recovery and reconstruction funds are delivered and used properly; that civil society is included in planning efforts, and, importantly, that Haitian families are reunited and vulnerable Haitians, such as children, receive protection.”

He added that “The United States must work with [Haiti’s] neighboring countries, such as the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas” and “must revisit U.S. migration policies, so that Haitians are not returned to Haiti prematurely and that families are kept together.”

Full report can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/mrs/USCCB_MRS_10_trip_report.pdf

HLI Raises Alarm about China’s Decision to Continue Destructive Policy

September 29, 2010

FRONT ROYAL, VA (MetroCatholic) - Human Life International’s Director of International Coordination, Joseph Meaney, strongly condemned a statement from Li Bin, head of China’s National Population and Family Planning Commission. In the statement, Bin said that China’s “One-Child Policy” will remain in place “in the coming decades.” View CNN article here.

“The Chinese government is stubbornly persisting in leading their country into a demographic disaster with their population control policy,” said Meaney.

“It is simply incomprehensible that the Chinese National Population and Family Planning Commission can seriously mean to extend this destructive policy for an unspecified number of decades into the future,” said Meaney. “China’s population is currently projected to start shrinking in absolute numbers by 2026, but the coerced low fertility of Chinese women means that the Peoples’ Republic of China is one of the fastest aging societies in the world.”

“There are four grandparents for each only child resulting from the ‘One Child Policy.’ What is the Chinese government’s economic plan for paying the pensions of these hundreds of millions of elderly persons?” asked Meaney. “One shudders to think what draconian measures will be implemented by the Chinese government once it becomes fully apparent that they cannot financially support the millions of disabled and elderly persons who are no longer seen as contributing to society. Coercive euthanasia cannot be far behind their renewed commitment to coercive abortion and birth control.”

To interview Joseph Meaney, contact Stephen Phelan at 540-622-5270 or [email protected]

Human Life International: Pro-Life Missionaries to the World

Founded in 1981, HLI is the world’s largest pro-life organization and has affiliates in over 100 countries on six continents.

A First-Ever Motion Picture on Our Lady of Guadalupe

September 29, 2010

Front Royal, VA(MetroCatholic) - Catholic filmmakers come together to produce a first-ever motion picture on Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Conquest of Mexico.

Independent filmmaker and producer Richard Mauro who has worked with some of the top firms such as MTV and Good Morning America has joined forces with Dan Cortes of Mosaiah Entertainment to produce the film.

The project is early on but has already attracted the interest of some of Hollywood’s most notable players. Vittorio Storaro, a 3 time Academy Award winning Director of Photography whose credits include such films as Apocalypse Now,” ” Reds,” and “The Last Emperor” was highly enthusiastic about their cinematic vision and proposal for “Tepeyac Hill,” which is the film’s title.

Other notables such as “Apocalypto” villain Raoul Trujillo and representation for John Debney who scored the “Passion of the Christ” have also shown interest and look forward to seeing the script and potentially becoming involved as the project unfolds.

Locations for actual filming are planned in New Mexico with the existing tax incentives Mr. Cortes noted. “With the emerging digital technology and convenience of filming in the U.S. we feel we can shoot a film budgeted conscientiously without skimming on quality and the period nature involved with this.” He said.

Mr. Mauro who has successfully produced and distributed films in the $1M range believes that with initial seed funding and a trustworthy Investor they will be able to take the project to a larger producer to help get the film made, “Hopefully someone very Catholic.” He says.

The events of the Conquest of Mexico and the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe (1531) to the Aztec people are of major historical and religious significance throughout the world.

For further information please visit http://www.mosaiah.com/tepeyac

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