Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Abject Poverty of the Unborn, Unwanted Child

The Abject Poverty of the Unborn, Unwanted Child

A few weeks ago, during the acrimonious debate over the debt limit and deficit reduction, a number of religious leaders met with President Obama to ask him not to forget the poor as our nation struggles with its financial crisis.

Commenting on the meeting, Catholic Bishop Ricardo Ramirez, said, “We’re not interested in which party wins the current political battles but we are worried about who is likely to lose – the families trying to feed their kids, the jobless looking for work, children who need healthcare, the hungry, sick and hopeless.”
The religious leaders are part of the Circle of Protection, a non-partisan movement that works to protect the poor and vulnerable in the midst of the challenges presented by a flagging economy. The Circle of Protection includes religious leaders as well as heads of community organizations and agencies.

The American Bishops have also chimed in with their own statement on behalf of the poor: “Their voices are too often missing in these debates, but they have the most compelling moral claim on our consciences and our common resources . . . A just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons.”

Most people would agree, I think, that one of the primary responsibilities of the government – federal, state and local – is to provide a safety net for the poor. While churches and non-profits, community groups and even individual families can and should do their part to assist their neighbors in need, it’s only the government that has the financial resources and political infrastructure necessary to respond in a systematic way to the enormous social needs of our time – providing food for the hungry, suitable housing for the homeless, basic healthcare for the sick, sound education for children and opportunities for productive employment. The religious leaders who met with the president were absolutely correct in reminding him of this obligation and encouraging his support. Other political leaders – on a national, state and local level – should be challenged as well.

It occurs to me, however, that if the religious leaders who met with the president to advocate for the poor didn’t use the opportunity to speak on behalf of another endangered population, unborn children – and I’ve seen no report that they did – they missed an important opportunity to instruct and challenge the president on the most substantive moral issue of our time, abortion. The religious leaders had a chance to be courageous prophets, to speak moral truth to secular power. And that opportunity was critical because President Obama is the most ardent pro-abortion advocate we’ve had. It is an evil agenda he pursues aggressively at every turn.

Obviously it’s good, essential in fact, that religious leaders speak on behalf of the poor. That advocacy is a primary obligation of faith. But I can’t think of anyone poorer or more vulnerable than an unborn, unwanted child.

We speak of homelessness – but who’s more homeless than the unborn, unwanted child about to be destroyed, not even finding warm shelter in his mother’s arms? We speak of hunger – but who’s more in need of sustenance than the unborn, unwanted child totally dependent on the compassionate care of others? We speak of welcoming immigrants and refugees – but who’s more alienated than an unborn, unwanted child who’s viewed as a burden and then exiled from the human family? And we speak of being weak and disenfranchised – but who has any less control over their own fate than an unborn, unwanted child who will never have a place at the table, whose tiny voice will never be heard?

Now, lest I’m accused of being a single-issue bishop or narrow-minded, ignoring other important social justice issues – and it’s a charge I’ve endured in the past – permit me to present this little apologia for some of the other issues in which I’ve been involved. In my earliest days in Providence I visited with and supported the “Janitors for Justice” during their labor protests. I’ve marched in our streets for affordable housing and publicly supported the bond issue for the same cause. I founded and have enthusiastically supported the “Keep the Heat On” program which has provided heating assistance for thousands of families across our state. I directed that diocesan property be used to establish Emmanuel House, a shelter for the homeless during a difficult, even dangerous winter. I’ve regularly visited our adult prison, the ACI, and have met and prayed with the inmates. I’ve toured numerous community programs and social agencies in our state to learn about their services and needs, and have sent financial grants to soup kitchens and food pantries. And I’ve provided a strong and consistent voice on behalf of the immigrant community – documented and otherwise – despite being personally vilified for presenting the position of the Church on that divisive issue.

Please understand that I mention these initiatives not to boast, nor to claim any special credentials but, simply to say that I, like the institutional church itself, am committed to many social justice issues beyond that of the unborn child. Some have accused pro-lifers of being concerned about children only until they’re born. It’s a ridiculous and scurrilous charge!

At the same time, it’s also quite reasonable to insist that the social justice agenda include concern for, and public advocacy for, the poorest, most vulnerable members of our human family – unborn, unwanted children. And at every opportunity we need to challenge our public leaders on this issue, especially those who talk a good game about social justice but actively contribute to the culture of death around us.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Urgent - Action Urged

On September 9th, the Bishops of the Catholic Conference of Illinois issued a letter to Kathleen Sebelius of the Department of Health and Human Services, expressing their opposition to the Interim Final Rules on Preventive Services. The two objectionable rules are: 1) a mandate on all private health care plans to cover prescription contraceptives approved by the FDA — including abortifacient drugs — surgical sterilizations and related patient in education and counseling; and 2) an incredibly narrow definition of religious lawyer for exemption from the mandate.

Our faith teaches that human fertility cooperates with God in the creation of new human life and ensures the extension and prosperity of our society. The government's treatment of pregnancy as a disease to be prevented or terminated on any whim undermines not only our teaching, but also the respect for human sexuality and human life intrigues that too well ordered society....

The Catholic Church's teaching on the immorality of contraception and sterilization as a rejection of God's gift life-giving will may not enjoy popular support. The church may be one of the last major structures in American society to hold this belief. For this reason, the rule seems not only to target religious freedom generally but Catholicism in particular — an egregious violation of the free exercise and establishment clauses of the First Amendment....

For these reasons, we ask that the regulation be revoked. If not, we urge modification to embrace and defend the public ministry of religious institutions. Signed by: Cardinal Francis George; Thomas G Doran, Bishop of Rockford; Daniel Jenky, Bishop of Peoria; Edward Braxton, Bishop of Belleville; Thomas John Paprocki, Bishop of Springfield-in-Illinois; and Daniel Conlon, Bishop of Joliet.

In addition, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released a nationwide bulletin insert with an urgent plea to respond by September 30.

ACTION: Please send an e-mail message to HHS by visiting Once you send your comments to HHS, you will be automatically invited to send a message to your elected representatives in Congress, urging them to support the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179/S. 1467) to ensure that such federal mandates do not violate Americans' moral and religious convictions.

Please do this by September 30th

Sunday, September 18, 2011

For the Record: Personhood

H/T The Catholic Knight. Read his post here.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Archbishop Chaput's New Coat of Arms

With his appointment as Archbishop of Philadelphia, Archbishop Chaput has a new coat of Arms.
You can see the explanation here.

The New Translation of the Mass

H/T Crossed the Tiber

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"Catholicism - Fr. Robert Barron

The long awaited series hosted by Fr. Robert Barron will air this Fall on PBS, The Catholic News Agency says. So mark your calendars.

The article starts:

A high-definition series exploring the beauty and richness of Catholicism is set to air on over 80 public television stations across the U.S. this fall.

Fr. Robert Barron, head of Word on Fire media and the visionary behind the “Catholicism” series, told CNA his hope is that the films will be used “as a tool of evangelization for everybody.”

“I want the series to go out beyond the walls of the Church,” he said in an Aug. 10 interview. “That's why we're so happy it's going to be on public television.”

Set in 50 locations in over 16 countries, the series examines major themes within the Church such as the person of Christ, the mystery of God, the Virgin Mary, Saints Peter and Paul, the “missionary thrust of the Church,” the liturgy and the Eucharist, prayer and spirituality and the saints, Fr. Barron said.

See the rest of the article here.

There is also a hard cover companion book "Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith" available from, and there is a Kindle edition available too.

We are Catholic

H/T The Anchoress

World Youth Day - 2011

H/T Crossed the Tiber

Benedict Asks for Forgiveness for Catholics Who have not Shared Their Faith

From the National Catholic Register, 8/31/2011

Pope Benedict XVI has asked forgiveness on behalf of generations of “cradle Catholics” who have failed to transmit the faith to others.

“We who have known God since we were young must ask forgiveness,” said Pope Benedict to a gathering of his former students at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, on Aug. 28.

The Pope said an apology is due because “we bring people so little of the light of his face, because from us comes so little certainty that he exists, that he is there, and that he is the Great One that everyone is waiting for.”

Read the article.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Stress and God

Recently, I did a little bit of reading about stress management. I’ve been feeling an extraordinary amount of stress lately due to work, I won’t get into the details, but it deals with the workload and my boss. I read that stress comes to all of us in varying degrees, it could be so bad that it affects our health, our family or work relations. But some stress is also good. If we didn’t have stress, we would never get that income tax done. The writer was suggesting different ways to deal with stress, and in our secular society I was not surprised that nothing was said about God in dealing with stress.

For a Catholic and as a Secular Franciscan, I know that the best way to deal with stress is through prayer. God will always answer our prayers, but in his own time - we expect immediate answers but as we know, God’s time is not our time, so we need be a little bit patient.

We Catholics have so many ways with our faith to deal with stress. Finding some quiet time to relate to Jesus is a stress reducer in itself. Putting it in the hands of God is a stress reducer. So is meditation, listening to Gregorian chant or some other Catholic/Christian music, the Jesus prayer, studying the Bible.

We also have a fantastic stress reducer — Confession. Why carry that guilt around, that load on our shoulders? When it is so easy to ask for forgiveness.

As Franciscans, we embrace a couple of tools that will help us manage stress. The first is simplicity. The more complex our life is, the greater the stress. Another tool is our efforts to be not materialistic. The more we have, the more we have to worry about. We are also Gospel people. Leading our life according to the Gospel, we learn about Jesus and we learn the wisdom as to how to lead our lives. For example: If there is bitterness or anger toward another, we know that we should not go to bed without addressing it. Carrying grudges and not forgetting, takes a lot of energy and adds to our stress. We are reminded that God feeds the birds of the air, that he clothes the flowers of the field, and as we are so much more valuable God most assuredly will take care of us.

We know that God helps those who help themselves. If you are feeling stress from work or interpersonal relations, or finances or whatever, ask yourself what is the one most important thing I can do to address this issue. Once you address it and act upon it. You’re on your way to reducing that stress.

St. Thomas More - Moral Integrity

I ran across a posting by the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference on Thomas More. In these times of political corruption and a lack of integrity in a secular society we need to look at men like Thomas and pray for statesmen who exhibit and live as examples of moral integrity, that objective truths do exist.

The article starts:

Today we celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Apostolic Letter (Motu Proprio) of Pope John Paul II proclaiming Saint Thomas More as the patron of statesmen, politicians and lawyers. Together with the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, we call to mind the significance of this great saint of the 16th Century for us today.

St. Thomas More lived—and gave his life—for truth. He provides a powerful example that not only shows that objective truth exists, but that we have the God-given ability to discern it. He stands as an example showing all statesmen, politicians and lawyers—and indeed all of us—that we have an obligation to find and to serve the truth and to work to protect the lives and fundamental dignity of all human beings.

In 1929, the great Catholic writer, G.K. Chesterton, wrote that: “Thomas More is more important at this moment than at any moment since his death, even perhaps the great moment of his dying. But he is not quite so important as he will be in about a hundred years’ time.”....

On October 31, 2000, Pope John Paul II issued an Apostolic Letter in which he proclaimed Saint Thomas More to be the patron of statesmen, politicians and lawyers. In that letter, the Pope proclaimed:

“The life and martyrdom of Saint Thomas More have been the source of a message which spans the centuries and which speaks to people everywhere of the inalienable dignity of the human conscience, which, as the Second Vatican Council reminds us, is ‘the most intimate centre and sanctuary of a person, in which he or she is alone with God, whose voice echoes within them.’ (Gaudium et Spes, 16).

Whenever men or women heed the call of truth, their conscience then guides their actions reliably towards good. Precisely because of the witness which he bore, even at the price of his life, to the primacy of truth over power, Saint Thomas More is venerated as an imperishable example of moral integrity.”

See the entire posting here.